Sunday, December 14, 2014

No room at the inn -- tourism bigotry in St. Augustine and St. Johns County

My mentor, St. John Barrett, with President Lyndon Johnson (family photo)

VCB and TDC Must Halt Invidious Discrimination

VCB Director RICHARD GOLDMAN Has Limited Appreciation of Diversity in Tourism Marketing

No room at the inn
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1964 decision in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, on December 14, 1964.
The Court unanimously an expedited case upholding the 1964 Civil Rights Act against segregationists. The action did not start after St. Augustine civil rights protests helped President Lyndon Johnson break a Senate filibuster and enact the la.
St. John Barrett, for whom I worked in 1980 as an antitrust paralegal, was in 1964 a Justice Department lawyer who spearheaded defense of the law.
St. John Barrett, known as "Slim," died in 2012, and his former boss, John Doar, praised his courage and knowledge of civil rights law. (Mr. Doar died this year). In his book, Mr. Barrett wrote that working on civil rights "was the best job a lawyer could have."
After enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a motel located conveniently near two interstate highways in Atlanta sued. that lawsuit enabled the Justice Department to win speedy victories in trial (before three federal district judges) and before the United States Supreme Court.
Heart of Atlanta Motel had fifty billboards and sought interstate guests. It refused to rent rooms to black people.
Katzenbach v. McClung, the companion case, was decided the same day, involving Ollie's Barbecue in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Supreme Court held that the Commerce clause permits Congress to ban discrimination.
The Supreme Court held that it was not a violation of the Fifth Amendment prohibition on depriving liberty or taking property without just compensation, or a violation of due process.
The Supreme Court held that it was not "involuntary servitude" to force hoteliers to serve minority guests, and thus no violation of the Thirteenth Amendment.
There was "no room at the inn" for African-American travelers at U.S. hostelries then.
Tourism was for whites only.
There was literally "no room at the inn" for African-Americans at most U.S. lodgings.
Putative "Christian" conservatives demanded to segregate businesses, even beaches (even the ocean was segregated in St. Augustine Beach).
It took the force of federal law, and the courage of people diverse here in St. Augustine, to enact that law.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and some 1000 people were arrested here by KKK-run police and sheriff departments.
Our future UN Ambassador, Andrew Young, was beaten at the intersection of King and
There is still so much work to be done.
Particularly here in St. Augustine, St. Johns County and Northeast Florida.
Today, do the St. Johns County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Inc. and the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council -- a government contractor and government agency, respectively -- still discriminate against African-American, Hispanic and Gay tourists? They're avoiding any marketing that would reach us. They prefer spending money on Reader's Digest and Better Homes and Gardens.
How gauche and louche.
This is $3.4 million in OUR bed tax money, seemingly mostly wasted on tacky tourist advertising.
We're not advertising adequately for historic and environmental tourists, who spend twice as much and stay twice as long.
We're not promoting enactment of the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore legislation.
Ask dodgy VCB Executive Director RICHARD GOLDMAN and the board of this no-bid government contractor why they're not adequately marketing St. Augustine to African-American, Hispanic and Gay tourists.
Ask them if its spending money avoiding African-American and Hispanic tourists under "color of law" (it is).
Ask them if County Attorney PATRICK McCORMACK is prepared to defend it in federal court.
We look forward to St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver remedying the discriminatory situation of VCB and TDC marketing.
Reform Mayor Nancy Shaver is the newest member of VCB and TDC.
Former Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR. often missed VCB and TDC meetings. Not once did BOLES speak up about civil rights issues, which I repeatedly raised at City Commission and at the VCB and TDC.
We look forward to greater diversity, sharing St. Augustine with "market segmentation" and sophistication, instead of 1950s-style supercilious glib goofy gooberishness.
The alternative is people filing complaints with the Justice Department Civil Rights Division during our 450th year, and resulting national and international exposure if DOJ must seek injunctive relief against VCB and TDC. (Just ask the City of Memphis, Tennessee, which was successfully sued by DOJ at my suggestion in 1989 over Fifteenth Amendnent violations involving racial gerrymandering and annexations).
The alternative is people treated with disdain and disrespect when they ask VCB for a list of Gay-friendly accommodations. Our friend Terry from Texas asked for such a list in 2009 and was told to "look elsewhere." I asked for such a list last year, and was never given a proper response. After waiting on "hold" several times for a total of nine (9) minutes, I just asked for one again from VCB's inept 800-number, 800-653-2489
Still nothing, after all these years.
The call center operator apologized. I told her it was not her fault, the fault is here in St. Johns County, where bumptious bigots from Ponte Vedra still run our tourism marketing.
I could hear her whisper, "oh my God," to her colleagues as we ended our call.
After all of these years, SJC VCB Executive Director RICHARD GOLDMAN is still a crass conservative capitalist tool -- he is inept, insensitive and ought to look for another job.
We need tourism marketing that makes us proud, not that embarrasses us -- all of us --- and makes us look like Heart of Atlanta Motel.
No more racist, homophobic bigotry in tourism marketing, please.
No more potential international incidents with the King and Queen of Spain and Pope Francis invited to visit during our 450th.
No more discrimination in our name.
We are a diverse city and we need to present ourselves as such to the world, and not through decrepit,
Yes we can!
The whole world is watching.

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