Friday, May 13, 2011
IT'S ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL DAY IN A BEAUTIFUL PLACE -- KEEP WORKING FOR CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM, NATIONAL PARK AND SEASHORE
Anastasia State Park by artist Linda Blondheim
(Anastasia State Park would be among some ten state parks included in the St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore).
It's another beautiful day in a beautiful place, and things are moving rapidly toward getting a National Civil Rights Museum and St. Augustine National Park and Seashore. This will unite our community, grow our economy, and preserve protect our environmental and historic heritage forever. See below.
Meanwhile, our controversial St. Johns County, Sheriff, DAVID SHOAR, has admitted complicity in the $1.8 million no-bid Mosquito Control helicopter contract (which activists defeated).
Sheriff SHOAR's erstwhile, campaign manager, MICHAEL GOLD, now jokes about being the hate sites being run by "temple-destroyers" -- the haters are re-starting his plazabum.com website, see below.
Carpe diem. (Enjoy the day).
As Margaret Mead said it best, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
America's Founders knew it.
Let's live it.
See you tomorrow at 4:30 at the dedication of the Civil Rights Footsoldiers Monument at the Slave Market Square here in St. Augustine, Florida.
Carpe diem. (Enjoy the day).
"DRESS YOU UP" SONG PARODY re: SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR AND MICHAEL GOLD (hate site operator and recipient of no-bid uniform contracts)
Uniform salesman, private investigator, bagman and hate site operator MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a "MICHAEL TOBIN" and SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR f/k/a "DAVID HOAR"
Duet for Sheriff DAVID SHOAR and his Campaign Manager and St. Johns County Uniform Supplier MICHAEL GOLD (proprietor of hate websites and Historic City Media, in honor of some $700,000 in no-bid SJCSO and SAPD contracts for uniforms for JR UNIFORM COMPANY, 2001-2009 (including Cardigan sweaters and Pith helmets). Sung to Madonna’s “DRESS YOU UP” Label: Sire, Warner Bros. Records
GOLD You've got cops,
and I’ve got threads to sell you
uniforms with embroidery so fine (oh yeah)
cut a check made out to me and my business
and don’t go shopping
for something better priced (woo).
SHERIFF Gonna dress you up, you’re my cops
pull over, pull over,
gonna dress’m up, they're my cops
pull over you’re guilty.
GOLD Seven hundred thousand reasons why I love you
no other bids will keep you as my boo,
I’ll campaign for you as my Sheriff
and there’s no telling what we both can do (ahh).
SHERIFF Gonna dress you up, you’re my cops,
pull over, pull over,
gonna dress’m up, they’re my cops,
pull over, you’re guilty,
gonna dress you up, you’re my cops,
on my watch,
pull over you’re guilty, pull over you’re guilty
on my watch
pull over, pull over,
from Duval down to Flagler.
Buying a Trump Property, or So They Thought
For many middle-class Americans, it is the most coveted brand in real estate, synonymous with sky-piercing luxury and can’t-miss quality: Donald J. Trump.
Far from the New York City towers that bear his name, in cities like Tampa, Fla., and Philadelphia, house hunters clamor to buy into his developments, sometimes exhausting credit lines and wiping out savings for a chance to own a piece of his gilded empire.
But as Mr. Trump, who is weighing a bid for the White House, has zealously sought to cash in on his name, he has entered into arrangements that home buyers describe as deliberately deceptive — designed, they said, to exploit the very thing that drew them to his buildings: their faith in him.
Over the last few years, according to interviews and hundreds of pages of court documents, the real estate mogul has aggressively marketed several luxury high-rises as “Trump properties” or “signature Trump” buildings, with names like Trump Tower and Trump International — even making appearances at the properties to woo buyers. The strong indication of his involvement as a developer generated waves of media attention and commanded premium prices.
But when three of the planned buildings encountered financial trouble, it became clear that Mr. Trump had essentially rented his name to the developments and had no responsibility for their outcomes, according to buyers. In each case, he yanked his name off the projects, which were never completed. The buyers lost millions of dollars in deposits even as Mr. Trump pocketed hefty license fees.
Those who bought the apartments in part because of the Trump name were livid, saying they felt a profound sense of betrayal, and more than 300 of them are now suing Mr. Trump or his company.
“The last thing you ever expect is that somebody you revere will mislead you,” said Alex Davis, 38, who bought a $500,000 unit in Trump International Hotel and Tower Fort Lauderdale, a waterfront property that Mr. Trump described in marketing materials as “my latest development” and compared to the Trump tower on Central Park in Manhattan.
“There was no disclaimer that he was not the developer,” Mr. Davis said. The building, where construction was halted when a major lender ran out of money in 2009, sits empty and unfinished, the outlines of a giant Trump sign, removed long ago, still faintly visible.
Mr. Davis is unable to recover any of his $100,000 deposit — half of which the developer used for construction costs.
Another casualty: his admiration for Mr. Trump, whose books and television show Mr. Davis had devoured. “I bought into an idea of him,” he said, “and it wasn’t what I thought it was.”
Alan Garten, a lawyer for Mr. Trump’s company, said that, regardless of what Mr. Trump himself or any marketing materials had suggested, his role was disclosed in lengthy purchasing documents that buyers should have carefully scrutinized. But in an interview, Mr. Garten acknowledged that, “without a lawyer, it can be difficult” to understand such documents. He suggested that the housing market collapse, not Mr. Trump, was the cause of their troubles.
“They are people who lost money and are looking for somebody to blame,” Mr. Garten said.
Mr. Trump’s Midas touch as a businessman, sometimes real, other times perceived, is central to his presidential aspirations, which have become increasingly hard for Republicans to ignore, even as some of them cringe at his blunt remarks and boastfulness. In the next month, he is scheduled to visit two key primary-season states, South Carolina and Iowa, as he further tests the waters. “I have made myself very rich,” he said recently, sitting in his palatial suite at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. “And I would make this country very rich.”
But regardless of whether Mr. Trump ultimately seeks the presidency, his attempt to promote himself as a savvy financial manager who can lead America out of its economic rut is bringing new scrutiny to his own business practices.
Despite high-profile stumbles, like the bankruptcy of Atlantic City casinos bearing his name, Mr. Trump has nurtured plenty of successful projects, in real estate and beyond: memberships to his golf clubs sell briskly, his men’s suits are a hit at Macy’s, and his NBC series, “The Apprentice,” is a ratings smash. Mr. Trump, in an interview, said the show had earned him well over $100 million.
Yet in recent years, as his brand has experienced an “Apprentice”-fueled resurgence, it appears that Mr. Trump, 64, has taken an expansive approach to putting his name on products big and small. There are Trump mattresses, Trump ties, Trump video games, Trump bottled water and Trump chocolates (designed to resemble bars of gold, silver and copper.)
But it is Mr. Trump’s real estate and education products that have enticed many Americans to invest life savings and dreams of quick riches. And it is with these products, according to a string of lawsuits and complaints filed around the country, that Mr. Trump has disappointed his fans most deeply.
Opening a ‘University’
As the American housing market climbed toward its peak, in 2005, Mr. Trump opened a for-profit school, called Trump University, to impart his wisdom about real estate and moneymaking to the general public.
In marketing materials, he promised students that his handpicked team of instructors would “teach you better than the best business school,” according to the transcript of a Web video. The same year, Mr. Trump licensed his name to an affiliated program, called the Trump Institute, which offered similar classes.
Dozens of complaints about both schools have rolled into the offices of attorneys general in Florida, Texas, New York and Illinois, officials said. And last year, the Better Business Bureau gave Trump University a D-minus, the second-lowest grade on its scale, after it fielded 23 complaints.
A lawsuit filed in 2010 by four dissatisfied former students, who are seeking class-action status, accuses Trump University of offering classes that amounted to extended “infomercials,” “selling nonaccredited products,” and “taking advantage of these troubled economic times to prey on consumers’ fears.”
According to the court papers, the university used high-pressure sales tactics to enroll students in classes that cost up to $35,000, at times encouraging them to raise their credit card limits to pay for them. It promised intensive one-on-one instruction that often failed to materialize. And its mentors recommended investments from which they stood to profit.
“It was almost completely worthless,” said Jeffrey Tufenkian, 49, who along with his wife, Sona, enrolled in a $35,000 “Gold Elite” class at Trump University to jump-start a career in real estate.
Mr. Tufenkian, who lives in Portland, Ore., was especially drawn to what Trump University described as a year-long mentorship. But he said that it amounted to a real estate expert from California taking him on a tour of homes in Portland that he could have seen on his own, for free.
At one point, he said, the mentor suggested an educational trip to Home Depot, an idea he found comical; at another, he said, the mentor recommended a sales technique (selling the option to buy a house), that several lawyers later told Mr. Tufenkian he was ineligible to perform because he lacked a real estate license. He recalled how, during a much cheaper Trump class on foreclosure, he and his wife were encouraged by instructors to raise their credit card limits, ostensibly in anticipation of investing in real estate, only to have the accounts maxed out with the purchase of the next $35,000 class, a charge mirrored in the lawsuit. The fee, and the resulting credit card interest payments, have wiped out much of the couple’s savings. Mr. Tufenkian’s requests for a refund have been rejected.
“You can understand how a business makes mistakes,” he said, “but a proper business will do what it takes to make it right. Trump University has no interest in taking care of its customers.”
George Sorial, a managing director and lawyer at the Trump Organization, the company that oversees Mr. Trump’s various businesses, said that the school had a “very generous” refund policy — and that less than two percent of students ask for their money back.
Mr. Sorial called claims that instructors took students on tours of Home Depot and asked students to raise their credit limits “ridiculous” and “unsubstantiated.” He said mentors were prohibited from profiting from their advice. According to student evaluations, he said, Trump University has a 97 percent customer satisfaction rate with its 11,000 paying students around the country.
“I guarantee that if you went out and surveyed Harvard grads, you would find some who are not happy. It’s inevitable,” he said. “You cannot look at the exception to the rule.”
Students said the evaluations must be put into context: they were told to fill them out using their names, often in the presence of the instructors they were assessing. Mr. Tufenkian, for example, said he gave high marks to the program after his mentor told him he would not leave until Mr. Tufenkian did so. “I had to fill it out right in front of him,” Mr. Tufenkian said.
The school has repeatedly sought to use such evaluations to raise questions about the credibility of unhappy former students. After Tarla Makaeff, who spent about $37,000 on Trump classes, joined the lawsuit against the school, the company released raw footage of a Trump University videographer approaching her in a hotel conference room, asking her to assess the program and her mentors. On the video, her mentors can be seen standing beside her, clearly within earshot. While warning that “we just got started,” Ms. Makaeff, 37, calls the mentors “great” and “awesome.”
In retrospect, Ms. Makaeff said, university employees “were trying to cover themselves,” by putting her on tape. Trump University is now suing her for defamation, seeking at least $1 million in damages for her public criticism of the school in letters, e-mail and online. “That just shows you how low they will go to silence people,” Ms. Makaeff said.
The school’s troubles are intensifying. Last year, the Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, opened a civil investigation into Trump University’s practices. Since then, the company has agreed not to operate in Texas indefinitely, said Thomas Kelley, a spokesman for the attorney general. (Mr. Sorial said there was no formal agreement.)
And last March, New York state officials demanded that Trump University change its name, saying its use of the word university “is misleading and violates New York education law,” joining Maryland, which issued a similar warning in 2008.
The school has since changed its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, but has not held a new class in seven months as it reworks its curriculum. “It’s on hiatus,” Mr. Trump said in an interview.
The Trump Institute, meanwhile, shut down in 2009. “It doesn’t meet our standards,” Mr. Sorial said. “Our standards are very high.”
Selling the Name
Even as his empire has expanded into reality television and the clothing aisle, Mr. Trump remains, at least in the public imagination, primarily a real estate developer.
But to a remarkable degree over the last five years, Mr. Trump has retreated from that role, becoming, instead, a highly-paid licensor, who leases his five-letter brand name to other developers in Toronto, Honolulu, Dubai and even his own backyard, New York City.
The arrangements allowed Mr. Trump, who is notoriously competitive, to remain a player in the world of big-city builders without risking his own money — a prospect that seemed especially appealing as the economy began to crater.
“When things got over-inflated in the world,” Mr. Trump’s son Donald Jr., said in an interview, “we removed ourselves from the ground-up development world, where we are risking a lot more.”
“We switched more to a license model,” he said, describing several of the projects, including the Honolulu building, as “big successes.”
However it was that kind of license deal — in places like Baja California, Mexico, and in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — that led to disappointment and anger among those seeking to buy a home carrying the Trump name, according to the lawsuits.
John Robbins, 62, a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army who is among those suing Mr. Trump, recalled being dazzled by the amenities available in the nearly 2,000-square-foot apartment that he and his wife, Rosanna, bought six years ago at the Trump Tower Tampa: granite countertops, sweeping views of the Tampa Bay, and room service from a high-end ground-floor restaurant.
The most important amenity of all, though, was the name on the side of the building. “With the Trump name,” Mr. Robbins said of his $756,000 unit, “we thought it would be a quality building and address.”
The marketing materials left little doubt that Mr. Trump was a driving force behind the 52-story tower: “We are developing a signature landmark property,” Mr. Trump declared in a news release unveiling it, which described him as a partner. In a marketing video, Mr. Trump called it “my first project on the Gulf of Mexico,” and even showed up to mingle with potential buyers at a lavish, catered event. “I love to build buildings,” Mr. Robbins recalled Mr. Trump telling the audience.
A confidential agreement, later made public in court filings, told a different story: Mr. Trump was not one of the developers or builders. For $4 million, plus a share of any profits, he had licensed his name. As for the mingling with buyers? He was required to do it, up to two times, in the agreement, which spelled out that the appearances last “for no more than six (6) working hours each.”
According to the document, the very existence of the license agreement was to be kept confidential. And it remained that way, buyers said, long after they bought their units. “If at any point I had known this, I would have walked away,” said Mr. Robbins, who put down a deposit of about $150,000 — half of which, under Florida law, the developer could use for construction costs.
A similar situation unfolded in Baja, where Mr. Trump licensed his name to another glamorous-sounding waterfront property: the Trump Ocean Resort Baja.
As financing for the building froze in 2008 and the developer missed key deadlines, Mr. Trump exercised his right to terminate the license agreement and remove his name. According to a lawsuit, the partners behind the deal burned through $32 million worth of buyer deposits, even though little, if any, construction was done.
One of the buyers suing Mr. Trump, Donald Isbell, said he has lain awake countless nights trying to figure out how he erred. He has lost his entire deposit of $147,000. “I have come to the conclusion,” he said, “that what I did wrong was to trust Donald Trump.”
Mr. Trump and his advisers seem unapologetic about how they handled the three deals. Asked, in a deposition with lawyers for the Tampa buyers, if he would be responsible for any shoddy construction, Mr. Trump replied that he had “no liability,” and said that he was unsure whether his licensing arrangements were disclosed to buyers. Pressed during the deposition as to why he did not return his license fee after the development fell apart, Mr. Trump replied: “Well, because I had no obligation to the people that signed me to give it back.”
But what has most galled people like Mr. Robbins, who sank much of their life savings into their dream homes, was Mr. Trump’s suggestion that the collapse of the project was a blessing — because it had allowed buyers to avoid the housing crash and the resulting plunge in home values.
“They were better off losing their deposit,” Mr. Trump said.
“Better off?” asked Mr. Robbins, who lost $75,600, the half of his deposit spent on construction. “No. I would be better off if he had been truthful and honest with us from the beginning. I would be better off if he returned my deposit.
“But he will never do that. He is looking out for Donald Trump and the dollar.”
FEDERAL INVESTIGATION REQUIRED II: SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR ADMITS HIS STAFF SPENT “HUNDREDS OF HOURS” AIDING PURCHASE OF NO-BID $1.8 MILLION HELICOPTER
ST. JOHNS COUNTY SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR, formerly known as "DAVID HOAR" (he changed his name to have a more mellifluous name for running for office). SHOAR now admits his office spent "hundreds of hours" aiding and abetting n0-bid purchase of $1.8 million Bell luxury jet helicopter that was incapable of killing a single skeeter!
THEN-AMCD CHAIR BARBARA BOSANKO's ALLEGED SUNSHINE VIOLATIONS, CAUGHT ON CAMERA AND BROADCAST ON ST. JOHNS COUNTY GOVERNMENT TV (GTV)
BELL LUXURY JET HELICOPTER -- NO-BID HELICOPTER CONTRACT WAS ILLEGAL, VIOLATING MOSQUITO CONTROL BOARD'S PURCHASING POLICY AND SECTION 178 of the RESTATEMENT OF CONTRACTS, 2d (CONTRACT VIOLATION OF PUBLIC POLICY)
ST. JOHNS COUNTY SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR NOW ADMITS THAT HIS STAFF SPENT “HUNDREDS OF HOURS” AIDING AND ABETTING ATTEMPTED ILLEGAL PURCHASE OF NO-BID $1.8 MILLION BELL JET LONG RANGER HELICOPTER
President Harry S Truman once said that “the only thing new in the world is history you don’t know yet.”
Last night, I read into the record of the Anastasia Mosquito Control Commission (AMCD) of St. Johns County a short excerpt from an angry, inflammatory April 25, 2011 letter that St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR f/k/a “DAVID HOAR” wrote to AMCD Commissioners. The quotation, from the second paragraph, is about the ill-fated $1.8 million no-bid helicopter proposal. The background of the letter is that SHERIFF SHOAR -- offended and hurt by possibly selective quotations by St. Augustine Record reporter JENNIFER EDWARDS -- insulted Commissioners and threatened them that he could “weigh in” in support of plans by St. Johns County Commissioners to take over the Mosquito Control District.
Here is the history we did not know until last night -- here is what Sheriff DAVID SHOAR wrote about the helicopter debacle:
As you may or may not know, approximately five and a half years ago I was contacted by the Anastasia Mosquito Control District (AMCD) to assist in the process of researching the possibility of AMCD acquitting a helicopter to utilize in the spraying of mosquitoes. Your board requested assistance from some of my employees who are considered subject matter experts in helicopter aviation because of their affiliation with the Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit. In the spirit of cooperation, I readily agreed and one member of my senior staff worked tirelessly for hundreds of hours assisting your agency.
Hundreds of hours? For what?
A veritable snowjob, one supposing that AMCD needed to buy a $1.8 million, no-bid helicopter from TEXTRON’s Bell Helicopter Division, an organization that had bribed customers around the world.
BARBARA BOSANKO, spouse of former County Attorney DANIEL BOSANKO, was for two years the Chair of the AMCD. She abused Sheriff’s office resources to call deputies to attempt to roust citizens speaking against the helicopter, on one occasion committing an alleged Sunshine violation with AMCD’s then-counsel and another then-Commissioner – a Sunshine violation that was videotaped by AMCD staff, broadcast and then presented on the front page of the St. Augustine Record with six (6) photographs.
Of course, our State’s Attorney and Florida Department of Law Enforcement, with delusions of adequacy, never prosecuted or took the case to the Grand Jury.
BARBARA BOSANKO had Sheriff’s Deputies called when former Army Captain Don Girvan was criticizing the helicopter purchase during a budget hearing – BOSANKO interrupted him and insulted him, he suggested she resign, and she replied she was “calling the Sheriff.” She did. The resulting spectacle of a young Sheriff’s Deputy walking into a government meeting, asking who was in charge, and attempting to roust Don Girvan and I was comical – it belonged on The Andy Griffith Show”
Sheriff SHOAR’s deputies were present at several meetings, once posted directly behind then-Commissioner John Sundeman and Commissioner Jeanne Moeller. That was supposed to have a chilling effect on all of us – but, as it turns out, we were not scared of the lugubrious goobers and gomers sent by Sheriff SHOAR.
As any television sales-snow-jobber would say, this was “not just any helicopter!”
It was a luxury six-seater TEXTRON Bell Helicopter Long Ranger more suited to transporting DONALD TRUMP than to killing mosquitoes. In fact, the helicopter was unadorned by a single device capable of killing a single mosquito. The helicopter was falsely described as a “sole source.”
Activists persisted. Environmentalist Robin Nadeau, now 85, had asked me to stop the helicopter in December 2006. I kept my word. (No one says “no” to my friend Robin Nadeau).
After Mosquito Control Commissioners realized they were hoodwinked, the victim of a snowjob, AMCD got a refund of its $81,000 deposit.
The helicopter case was the most wonderful thing ever to happen to St. Johns County – the people united in their wrath and halted waste, fraud and abuse.
Now we know that Sheriff DAVID SHOAR was at the heart of a possible criminal conspiracy to defraud taxpayers.
Last night, I asked the AMCD to provide Sheriff SHOAR’s letter to the United States Attorney.
Efforts to obtain documents on the helicopter deal from Sheriff SHOAR have been unavailing – he thinks he is above the law.
The helicopter purchase violated the Mosquito Control District’s January 9, 1992 purchasing policy, which requires competitive bidding. When Commissioners Jeanne Moeller, John Sundeman and I asked then-AMCD attorney GEOFFREY DOBSON if the purchasing policy was a “policy” under Restatement of Contracts, 2d, Section 90, AMCD GEOFFREY DOBSON refused to answer.
Because the answer was “yes,” the “policy” was a “policy.” That answer had consequences – since the policy was violated by lack of competitive bidding, that meant that the contract for the helicopter purchase was “void ab initio.”
Rather than answer this first-year law school question with a “Yes,” AMCD attorney GEOFFREY DOBSON got up and quit in January 2007, at the first meeting attended by Commissioners Sundeman and Moeller. DOBSON did so on the expressed basis that he had been “insulted.”
Asked who “insulted” him, he demurred, saying it was “Mr. Slavin.” (I never insulted him – I simply asked questions).
Now semi-retired, the talented GEOFFREY DOBSON was long the controlling switchboard for the developers and good-ole-boys in St. Johns County, representing both government entities and the developers who needed their services. This was documented in my October 18, 2006 interview with DOBSON, reprinted here:
George Santayana said “those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.”
For that reason, it is right and just for the Mosquito Control District to crack down on VIVIAN BROWNING’s strange romance with Sheriff DAVID SHOAR in pursuit of a helicopter we don’t need.
St. Johns County needs an ethically-impaired Sheriff like a moose needs a hatrack.
Sheriff SHOAR should hang his head in shame – he’s one of the truly “shameful people” of St. Johns County – someone who promised five times in writing he would contact MICHAEL GOLD about Lashon hara on his websites, and never kept his promise.
We should denounce Sheriff DAVID SHOAR – and all his works and pomps.
This Sheriff is no slouch. It appears that he’s an ethically-impaired Machiavellian, a smooth-talking putative “Christian” whose buddy (MICHAEL GOLD) runs hate sites he will not denounce.
It appears that SHOAR is a smarmy, insincere developer-driven Massachusetts man with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration – quite a combination, don’t you reckon?
In the words of John Randolph of Roanoke, Sheriff DAVID SHOAR is “like a rotten mackerel by moonlight – he both shines and stinks.”
We are blessed to have an educated Sheriff.
We are cursed to have an ethically-impaired Sheriff.
Some people thought Sheriff DAVID SHOAR was a progressive when he ran in 2004.
He may have been by comparison with his opponent, but that’s not saying much.
He’s not a progressive.’
Does Sheriff SHOAR needs to go out the door in 2012?
Special interest bad guys are prepared to raise $500,000 to re-elect SHOAR. Expect billboards. Expect Shoar to involve again in his campaign controversial MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a “MICHAEL TOBIN.” GOLD/’TOBIN is a local hate website proprietor and recipient of $750,000 in no-bid uniform contracts from the St. Johns County Sheriff and
We deserve a SHERIFF who is “independent,” as SHOAR claimed to be in his amazingly unprofessional, wounded hate letter to AMCD. SHOAR is about as “independent” as any other political hack – and he’s about as sharp as a mashed potato sandwich with the crust cut off.
We shall overcome!
What do you reckon?
By the way, the use of local law enforcement to chill, coerce and intimidate First Amendment protected activity has a long tradition in this County. Consider the dialogue that took place here on June 11, 1964, with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Virgil Stuart, then police chief. See transcript below, provided by St. Augustine civil rights historian David Nolan.
IN HAEC VERBA: Transcript provided to this blog by historian David Nolan of the arrest of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Ralph David Abernathy in St. Johns County Jail
(Dr. King said "it was the nicest jail I've ever been in.")
By David Nolan (St. Augustine's noted civil rights historian)
St. Augustine was the only place in Florida where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested during the civil rights movement.
It happened on June 11, 1964 on the steps of the Monson Motor Lodge restaurant on the Bayfront.
Here is the conversation that took place between Dr. King and James Brock, the manager of the Monson:
KING: I and my friends have come to lunch.
BROCK: We can’t serve you. We are not integrated.
KING: We’ll wait around. We feel you should serve us.
BROCK: You are on private property. We reserve the right to refuse service. I ask you on behalf of myself, my wife, and my children to leave.
KING: We are sorry you have that attitude. You are doing a disservice to the nation.
BROCK: You can’t push this thing. We are a small business. We are caught in the middle of something. We find ourselves between two armed camps. If we integrate now it would hurt our business.
KING: We will stand here and hope that in the process that our conscious efforts will make this a better land.
BROCK: We will integrate under one of two conditions: by federal court order, or if a responsible group of citizens ask us to open to all customers.
KING: We are glad to know that you would do it under those conditions.
DR. RALPH ABERNATHY: Does your invitation to serve tourists include Negroes?
BROCK: Negroes can only be served in the service area of the restaurant. Maids and chauffeurs of white visitors have been served that way in the past.
KING: Can’t you see how this humiliates us?
BROCK: Will you please take your nonviolent army somewhere else? I must remind you that I have already had 85 people arrested before at my place.
[At this point Police Chief Virgil Stuart arrived]
BROCK to STUART: I’m glad you are here. I have asked Dr. King to leave twice, but he has refused.
STUART to KING’S party: You are all under arrest.
Dedication of Footsoldiers Monument Tomorrow at 4:30 in the Slave Market Square in St. Augustine, Florida
Slavery came to what is now the United States of America on September 8, 1565, when St. Augustine, Florida was founded as a Spanish colony.
As Lincolnville Neighborhood Association President Judith Seraphin wrote in the New York Times Magazine on April 17, 2011:
The first slaves in the territory that we now regard as the United States were not brought to Virginia in 1619. That happened 54 years earlier, when our nation’s oldest European-founded City, St. Augustine, Fla., was founded by Spain’s Pedro Menéndez de Avilés on September 8, 1565. Menéndez’s contract with King Phillip afforded him three years to import 500 African slaves.
Slavery ended some 300 years later with the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and Thirteenth Amendment (1865), but exploitation of African-American persisted for another one hundred years as Jim Crow segregation.
Jim Crow segregation (de jure segregation) was ended by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which was made possible by Civil Rights activists here, whose actions (and bigots’ responses) helped empower President Lyndon Johnson to break the Senate filibuster and win enactment of the 1954 Civil Rights Act.
De facto segregation actually persisted here in St. Augustine for a number years, with local businesses holding themselves out as all-white, including the former Doctors’ Building.
Now, tomorrow, there will finally be a monument to the Civil Rights Footsoldiers here – the working people, high school and college students, rabbis, ministers, priests and nuns whose peaceful protests helped change our world. We salute them.
The memorial is located on the precise spot where my friend Peg McIntire’s Grandmothers for Peace group held its May 26, 2008 peaceful protest against the Iraq war, complete with flag-draped coffin. I was proud to be there that day, and proud to meet old and new friends there. Peg McIntire died only three days later, on May 29, 2008. See below. A year later, our environmental, civil rights and peace activist friend David Thundershield Queen, died on June 13, 2009.
Tomorrow, the Civil Rights Footsoldiers Memorial will be in the right place, at the right time.
Soon we will have a National Civil Rights Museum here in St. Augustine, Florida – again, the right place at the right time – commemorating the history of slavery, the ending of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, the end of Jim Crow segregation, and our wonderful Nation, one where the rights of women, other minorities, Gays and Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgendered (GLBT) people are now respected and not neglected.
What do you reckon?
Margery D. (Peg) McIntire quietly passed away on the night of May 29. Her son, Jo, and daughter-in-law, Sali, were by her side.
Born on October 2nd, 1910, raised in Woodmere, Long Island, Peg was a lively youngster, a good student and athlete at Woodmere Academy. She was also a talented pianist. She especially enjoyed accompanying her violinist mother, Hilda Stern Dallet, at temple, weddings and parties.
In the fall of 1927, Peg was granted a scholarship at Vassar College, which she abandoned in the middle of her junior year to marry writer Larry Goldstone. At that time, Vassar did not have male students, nor enroll married women. She transferred to Columbia University, but once again abandoned her studies, this time for a prolonged honeymoon in Torremolinos, Spain. While Larry wrote, Peg played chess on the beach, took odd jobs such as baby sitting and teaching English, and helped the local Rotary Club build a golf course to lure cruise ships to Malaga.
Peg's hero was her older brother, Joe. He abandoned his studies at Dartmouth College in the middle of his junior year. At the suggestion of Roger Baldwin, founder of ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, he transferred to the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, to study the labor movement. Later he became an organizer for the fledgling CIO Steel Workers Union in Youngstown, Ohio. Angered by Generalissimo Franco's fascist regime in Spain, Joe joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, boarded ship, flew to Paris, but was arrested and jailed in Perpignon for nearly a month. He was finally released with orders to be out of France within 48 hours. Together with fellow inmates, he climbed the Pyrenees by night, met up with his unit, and, despite being a "political commissar," he moved to the front lines of battle and was killed in the famous Battle of the Ebro.
Joe's death was a catalyst in Peg's life. She and Larry left Spain and started anew in New Orleans. Peg was determined to do something that Joe would have done – or would have admired. After considerable searching, Peg was directed to a shabby YMCA meeting hall to hear Gordon McIntire talk about his efforts to organize a union of small farmers, tenant farmers and sharecroppers in Louisiana. Peg, 5'2", a city girl, fell in love with Gordon, 6'2", a country boy. Their courtship was not easy. Gordon developed TB. Peg carried on the Union work alone until her mother died in an auto accident and she was needed in NYC to care for her father. Six years later Peg and Gordon married. Gordon got a Masters Degree in Denver, while Peg worked for the National Youth Administration. They moved to Washington, DC, where Gordon worked for the Bureau of the Budget and Peg for the Office of Price Administration and as a freelance speech-writer for the NEA (National Education Association).
In 1948 Jil was born, in 1949 Jo. In 1952, Gordon was offered a transfer to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy. The excited little family moved from their Georgetown home to a terraced sun-filled apartment in Rome. Jil and Jo went to a Montessori preschool, and were speaking Italian within a week. Peg learned kitchen Italian but later attended the Dante Alleghieri Language School for proper grammar and was given the opportunity of a lifetime - to become gofer, translator, private secretary, 24/7 assistant to Henry Hennigson, producer for MGM's giant film "Ben Hur". She got to work with the poet Christopher Fry, Gore Vidal, both Wilders, Charlton Heston, Michael Boyd, Martha Scott, and many others. Gordon was not so lucky.
Sen. Joe McCarthy provoked a five-year legal battle with the U.S. Government for Gordon. He was summarily and wrongly dismissed from his employment with the FAO. The passports of the entire family were taken away. Gordon fought back. There were hearings, depositions, findings and appeals at every level. Finally he was totally vindicated, and compensated for legal costs. His back pay was put into an escrow account in the U.S. where it eventually expired because, although the U.S. Embassy restored the passports, the family opted to stay in Italy and go into business. Their "empire" collaped with Gordon's sudden death from emphysema in 1969.
Jo and Sali brought Peg back to the U.S. in 1980. Another country, another life! The three immigrants settled in Saint Augustine. Always motivated, Peg quickly found fellow activists in NOW, Pax Christi and the statewide Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice. For 15 years she served as Treasurer for the Coalition and was the guru for its summer Peace Camps and music festivals. In 1985 in California, at a NOW conference, Peg met and was inspired by Barbara Weidner, founder of Grandmothers for Peace, Int'l. Upon returning to Florida, Peg founded an affiliate, called Grandparents for Peace, St. Augustine, which has some 100 members. Although primarily anti-nuke, anti-war, anti-violence, the organization recognizes the connection of violence with poverty, racism, homelessness, social and economic injustice, and supported individuals and organizations striving to improve social conditions, provide leadership, and generally creating a saner, safer, happier and healthier world. Peg has attended the last eight demonstrations at Fort Benning, GA, to close the notorious School of the Americas.
In 1999 Peg and other grannies protested the launch of NASA’s Cassini, carrying 72.5 lbs of radioactive plutonium, at Cape Canaveral. After serving 30 days in jail, she was hounded with questions like "what did they give you to eat? How often could you bathe? " Wanting to give people something more important to think about, she and Paul Archetko created an Earth Day event in Saint Augustine which has since become an annual affair.
Until the end of 2007 Peg worked at Susan Bradley’s candle shop. Peg and Susan also worked together creating the St. Augustine Youth Hostel and organizing the Toys for Tots program.
Peg was hospitalized for the first time in her life in 2007 with an intestinal problem. On the first day after leaving the rehab center, she made her way to the anti-war rally held that Saturday morning at the Bridge of Lions, co-sponsored by Grandparents for Peace, People for Peace & Justice, and Veterans for Peace. She ended 2007 participating as an invitee in the Council of Elders established by UNF's "Peace Awareness Week" together with her close friends Stetson Kennedy and John Linnehan.
In 2008 at the age of 97, Peg had to start cutting back on her activities after suffering a major heart attack. But she never gave up.
She was a voracious reader, an avid scrabble player, and a twice a week played at the Duplicate Bridge Club. She always attended the Gamble Rogers Festivals, rarely missed a concert at the pier, followed every tennis tournament on TV, campaigned for Senator Barak Obama, and always gave full support to her children, Jo and Sali.
Peg was born and raised Jewish, taught Christian Sunday School while living in Italy, joined the Center for Positive Living for a few years, and has been a long standing member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
During the past months, Peg received extraordinary care from Community Hospice, their doctor, nurses, aides, social workers and volunteers.
Peg had many friends and an incredible intergenerational support base. She will be missed for her blue eyes, her smile, her jokes, her vitality, her dedication to causes, her love for Chinese food, music, and red wine.
No flowers, please.
A donation may be sent to Community Hospice of NE Florida, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257 or to the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, PO Box 652, Brunswick, Maine 04011.
Plans for a Memorial Service to be announced.
St. Johns County Commission Chairman Ken Bryan/St. Augustine Record, Guest column: 'Tireless efforts' resulted in Foot Soldiers Monument
By KEN BRYAN
Created 05/08/2011 - 3:02pm
A day of reflection and remembrance is finally upon us. The St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument will be dedicated in the City of St. Augustine's Plaza de la Constitucion on Saturday. The dedication ceremony concludes a six-year endeavor of hard work and tireless efforts by a nonprofit group called the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Remembrance Project.
A day of reflection and remembrance is finally upon us. The St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument will be dedicated in the City of St. Augustine's Plaza de la Constitucion on Saturday. The dedication ceremony concludes a six-year endeavor of hard work and tireless efforts by a nonprofit group called the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Remembrance Project.
The idea of the Foot Soldiers Monument was to honor citizens of all ages and walks of life who were involved in the civil rights movement in St. Augustine during the 1960s. This concept stemmed from the vision of Barbara Vickers, a St. Augustine movement veteran, and current President of the Foot Soldiers Remembrance Project. A diversified committee of more than a dozen citizens was formed and the project took off from humble beginnings with the difficult task of raising the $70,000 needed to have sculptor Brian R. Owens of Deltona make the Foot Soldiers Monument dream a reality.
Luncheons, film showings of Jeremy Dean's "Dare Not Walk Alone," letters to individuals and organizations are just a few examples of the fundraising efforts initiated by this group. A generous, single donation of $20,000 from resident Nena Vreeland jump-started this project along with the combined efforts and donations from many residents and several elected officials. I would like to thank the City of St. Augustine for donating the monument site in the southeast corner of the Plaza and for also passing special legislation to allow the monument in the Plaza because of its historical significance in St. Augustine's history.
Please plan on coming out at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 14 at the Plaza de la Constitucion for the dedication of the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument.
This historic event is one you will not want to miss.
Ken Bryan is chairman of the St. Johns County Commission. He lives in St. Augustine and represents District 5. He was elected to a four-year term in 2008.
Exposing Hate Websites in St. Augustine Florida -- Fronts for Enemies of Civil Rights and Environmental Justice
For years, here in St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Florida, local community members were treated diffidently and with disrespect by our City and County officials.
People were often openly, notoriously and publicly insulted by Commissioners when they raised Civil Rights and Environmental Justice concerns. Some were threatened with arrest simply for speaking their truth about these matters.
In February 2006, I reported to federal officials the illegal dumping of 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir by our City of St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRIS, resulting in Florida DEP orders to put the contaminated solid waste in a Class I landfill.
HARRIS spent $200,000 of our money on legal and engineering fees to avoid indictment on pollution charges.
HARRISS fought accountability from 2006-2008, when the City finally agreed to deposit the waste in a Class I landfill.
At the City Commission meeting on November 13, 2006, I proposed the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore. Later that same meeting, I was blasted as a pesky disbarred lawyer by our then-Mayor, his valedictory speech, applauded by 75 Yacht Club members (and RANDY BRUNSON) who were there to receive a subsidized no-bid rental of the Lighthouse Park community center for their clubhouse). Six days later, the St. Augustine Record editorial defended my honor, called me brilliant, and told me not to be deterred by the Philistine attacks on free speech.
On December 23, 2006, former St. Johns County Deputy Sheriff (and former SAPD officer) MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a “MICHAEL TOBIN” announced in a St. Augustine Record column that a “Local businessman” was starting plazabum.com for the express purpose of running the homeless out of town.
That was not the only mission – the hate website focused on hating environmentalists, community activists and reformers with a fervor and a vengeance.
From 2006-2010, plazabum was a noisome nuisance, anonymously and obscenely attacking free speech under the guise of free speech.
The plazabum’s negative agenda was to intimidate, coerce and chill free speech by activists, who were described in increasingly irrational, irascible terms as homosexuals, crazies and damn Yankees (among other epithets, others of which are obscene and will not be quoted here). That's not surprising, since GOLD's Historic City News website has posted a crackpot "League of the South" column on December 30, 2010 -- the group is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate group" that favors the State of Florida seceding from the United States (and defends slavery).
Other unaccountable organizations have attacked reformers as crazies, including the Soviet Union (which put dissenters in insane asylums) and the United States Department of Energy and its contractors (which called sick workers “the crazies” and attacked everyone who ever said that nuclear weapons plants made people sick, including Dr. William K. Reid, M.D., dozens of sick workers, and me).
St. Augustine’s hate squad lacked the style and panache of the Soviets or U.S. nuclear bomb-builders. But they shared the same psychopathy – attacking critics of a sick system as if they were mentally ill.
Thus, it was especially revealing when the haters wrote about how people moved here from the North (they weren’t talking about Henry Flagler or other rich guys, but about average citizens with intelligence and ethics).
Plazabummers whined about how these “outsiders” went to public meetings and (horrors) expressed our opinions without being “invited.” How trite!
Were we supposed to receive engraved invitations from the WHETSTONE family before speaking out? And who invited them?
MICHAEL GOLD said he was running against people who wanted to make St. Augustine more like “Jamestown or Williamsburg” That’s a thinly-veiled attack on St. Augustine Mayor Joseph Boles (who admires Jamestown and hired ex-Mayor Jeanne Zeidler of Williamsburg to help us with our 450th Celebration). Mayor Zeidler told me she enthusiastically supports a St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore (so does Mayor Boles’ mother, Maurine Boles, who shook my hand in 2007 and thanked me for speaking out on behalf of preserving and protecting what she’s worked 35 years to preserve and protect).
It is especially revealing when civil rights activists – including Andrew Young – are described as “outside agitators” on MICHAEL GOLD’s faux “Historic City News” website.
The hatesiters’ vitriol did not deter First Amendment protected activity. I once called them “the Anonymice,” whereupon MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a “MICHAEL TOBIN” humorously procured embroidered baseball caps bearing the words “Anonymice” with art showing a computer mouse. Ipse dixit – he said it.
The ancien régime used vicious vitriol to attempt to intimidate First Amendment protected activity.
The ancien régime used electronic Jim Crow tactics in defense of foreign-funded “developers” who propose dubious, low-quality projects that go belly-up (the worst of which destroyed the remains of 3000-4000 year old Indian village next to St. Augustine High School at the behest of disbarred New York lawyer ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD, a frequent recipient of dubious favors from St. Augustine and St. Johns County governments.
First the ancien régime abused the St. Augustine Record’s “Talk of the Town” website to post anonymous hate speech --- 32 looong pages of homophobia directed against the Rainbow Flags on our Bridge of Lions in 2005, with haters continuing to post on that topic until I quoted them, writing about how local public officials were posting homophobia and hiding behind anonymity. At that point, three pages of postings were removed by people who were caught red-handed; former Mayor George Gardner stated at a City Commission meeting during 2006 that he no longer “enjoyed” reading “Talk of the Town” after I started posting on the City’s Environmental Injustice there (e.g., his being misled by City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS into thinking there was 40,000 cubic yards of “clean fill,” not solid waste, dumped by HARRISS in our Old City Reservoir.) What a pity – as if the world existed for Hizzoner’s pleasure. That's narcissism. What do you reckon?
Someone was paying plazabummers' MICHAEL GOLD to spew hatred -- it was full-time.
Misguided plazabum posters had some 120 loooong pages of hate directed against President Barack Obama.
Misguided plazabum posters had nearly as many pages of hatred devoted to hating County Commission J. Kenneth Bryan (African-American retired Justice Department manager and former Deputy Director of the Executive Office of the President under Bill Clinton).
Misguided plazabum posters even had more than 106 looong pages of hate directed against little ‘ole me. “I welcome their hatred,” as President Franklin Roosevelt said of “malefactors of great wealth.” Their approval is neither desired nor required.
Misguided plazabum posters were not only limited individuals, those who were not just MICHAEL GOLD's NICs were severely limited in what they could say -- some topics were off-limits – e.g., any criticism of the ancien régime!
The reason hate website sociologists (and students of electronic psychopathy) know this is that someone once posted something mildly mocking about controversial City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS (a picture of him golfing with then-Commissioner DONALD CRICHLOW, et al.) and joking that he was doing it when he should be working – the picture and comment was quickly removed.
The only people who were ever blasted on plazabum were reformers and activists --- these are mean and base KKK, Jim Crow tactics by people who lack the courage to speak at public meetings or sign their own names.
Oddly, one of the terms they use to describe activists is “coward,” as if saying it meant it were so.
These back-shooting cowards, including GOLD, called for the horrible painful death of a cancer patient on Christmas Eve 2007; called for the kidnapping of activists; called for death and serious bodily harm of activists; and used private information to attack people, always questioning other people’s motives – e.g., people they never met.
Some misguided public officials and candidates actually posted on plazabum, some even doing so under their own names – you know who you are. So do we. We forgive you. Don’t do it again.
Insulted by the inflamed rantings of the St. Johns County Monster Raving Looney Party, activists did not dry up and blow away, or turn into pillars of salt.
We continued our work, informing the people and speaking at meetings. Inflamed rantings did not stop us – the haters only empowered us to speak the truth to power.
During 2006-2010, in their righteous wrath against injustice, St. Johns County voters ousted KAREN STERN, BRUCE MAGUIRE and MARC JACALONE from County Commission; voters elected Nancy Sikes-Kline, Leeana Freeman and William Leary to City Commission; and elected Jeanne Moeller, John Sundeman, Janice Bequette and Cathy Brandhorst to the Mosquito Control Commission; and halted purchase of a $1.8 million no-bid helicopter and halted erection of a $6 million Taj Mahal building.
In 2010, City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS “retired” in disgrace.
Now citizens’ concerns are heard and heeded.
Now Civil Rights and Environmental Justice are protected and not neglected.
Now citizens are treated with dignity, respect and consideration when we speak at public meetings (except by the St. Augustine Record, which routinely boycotts and refuses to cover “activists” unless it is to smear us).
Environmental injustice is being remedied, including the $800,000 capping of the illegal former City dump at the south end of Riberia Street, which will soon become a park, and $11 million to construct Riberia Street, the key arterial street into Lincolnville, which the ancien régime neglected, never providing proper drainage, never providing proper paving, never providing sidewalks, never providing bulkheads.
Those who heaped scorn on civil rights, environmental and community activists lost.
Civil Rights and Environmental Justice won.
Tomorrow our City dedicates a monument to the Civil Rights “footsoldiers” – the local residents and others who demonstrated peacefully against Jim Crow segregation here in 1963-64, resulting in enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. On June 11th, our City will dedicate a memorial to Andrew Young, who was viciously attacked twice by racists here while teaching non-violence.
In 2010, plazabum lost the considerable subsidy provided by the “local businessman” who had provided tens of thousands of dollars in funding 2006-2010. For months, plazabum was merely a Facebook page.
A few days ago, I wrote on this blog about “temple-destroyers,” including BRUCE MAGUIRE, invoking the words of naturalist John Muir about people who destroy our environmental heritage in the name of the Almighty Dollar, focusing on BRUCE MAGUIRE’s efforts to ruin Old Florida with condos on A1A between Vilano Beach and Ponte Vedra, attempting to destroy the Guana-Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM-NERR), formerly Guana State Park, seeking to move A1A west of the parking lots, ruining protected wildlife and their habitat.
Now plazabum is back, bragging that you can read it to “see what the local temple-destroyers are up to.” Ipse dixit – he said it!
We wear the ancien régime’s scorn as a badge of honor.
Former St. Johns County Commission Chairman Ben Rich once publicly opined that the foreign-funded “developers” as being “worse than any carpetbagger,” condemning their overbearing overreaching, clear-cutting of trees, while winning approval of some 70,000 homes (most not yet built) in the northwest part of St. Johns County.
The “Anonymice” and plazabum’s self-confessed “temple-destroyers” remind me of a story: A kindly church-going lady had the reputation of being able to say something nice about everyone. Putting her to the test, a new pastor asked her to say something nice about the Devil. She thought for a moment and said, “Well, he’s no slouch.”
The “temple-destroyers” are not slouches either.
The shadowy “local businessman” has cut their funding and cut them loose.
Appparently they’ve found another guardian devil to fund their spiteful rodomontade and provide band-width for their inconsequential illiteracy and hopelessly provincial babblings.
The enemies of free speech on plazabum are now claiming to be the only place for free speech in St. Augustine.
How exquisitely self-deluding.
How indescribably Orwellian.
Plazabum exists because the ancien régime hates free speech.
Lord Byron said, “Hypocrisy is the most difficult and nerve-racking vice that any man can pursue; it needs an unceasing vigilance and a rare detachment of spirit. It cannot, like adultery or gluttony, be practiced at spare moments; it is a whole-time job.” Or as Francois La Rochefoucauld said, “Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.” ("Hypocrisie est un hommage que la vice rend à la vertu.")