Sunday, December 07, 2014
CITY HALL RETALIATION ILLEGAL
Why do government managers rage against activists/journalists?
On December 1, Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince inaugurated reform Mayor Nancy Shaver. Hundreds, most standing, cheered. There were not enough chairs for them. Why not? I asked the City for weeks to add chairs and remove unneeded tables, installed to remove chairs and exclude citizens from controversial meetings, forcing them to watch on a Lightner Museum Courtyard TV. When I asked Assistant City Manager Timothy Burchfield and Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson, they were unconcerned. I reported this and other employee behavior to City Manager John Regan. He never apologized. Does being a government manager "mean never having to say you're sorry?"
On December 2, Burchfield asked an SAPD officer to escort me from a meeting where I supported an African-American family business applicant's zoning approval for his coffee shop at 322 Anastasia Island Blvd. I pointed to 41 African-American owned businesses in Lincolnville in 1964 -- none survived due to institutional racism. I objected to ex-City Planning and Building Director Mark Knight's secretive firing (for still-undisclosed reasons) and for his now possibly practicing law without a license before boards and his own ex-employees. I was not removed.
On December 3, Regan and Police Chief Loren Lueders handed me a no-trespass order for City Hall offices, creating a hostile working environment for all activists/journalists. I wear government managers' scorn as a badge of honor.
My father, a World War II paratrooper, taught me to love our country but to question our governments.
I first spoke to City Commission, and against civil rights violations, on April 11, 2005. Then-City Manager William Bruce Harriss threatened me with arrest after I spoke against numerous residential annexations, reducing African-American voting strength from 25% in 1964 to about 12.5%, violating our Fifteenth Amendment. City officials were rude then and again and again when we:
1. Won a federal court order vindicating First Amendment rights to fly Rainbow flags on our Bridge of Lions;
2. Got the city fined for dumping a landfill in a lake (Old City Reservoir), stopping it from dumping it back in Lincolnville, and calling it a "park." Mayor Boles threatened Tony Seraphin and me with arrest November 12, 2007 when we sought to speak against their plan, which we successfully appealed (the contaminated solid waste is now in a landfill);
3. Got the city fined for habitually dumping semi-treated sewage effluent in our saltwater marsh;
4. Halted flagrant violations of our Florida Open Records and Sunshine laws, including Commissioners' outsourcing of 450th commemoration to newly-created First America Foundation and planned 2010 Commissioners' Spain "business trip";
5. Exposed frequent violations of free speech rights;
6. Assisted investigations of local governments by FDEP, EPA, the Record, New York Times and Folio Weekly (Folio cover stories on illegal dumping and no-bid, below market City lease to Mayor Boles and ex-Mayor Len Weeks of 81 St. George Street, Florida Cracker Cafe/Savannah Sweets);
7. Investigated and reported to federal officials Weeks' destruction of 210-year-old Don Pedro Fornells House (62A Spanish Street) and objected to City Attorney Isabelle Lopez hugging Weeks (never cross-examined) after he was fined only $3600.
"We, The People," repeatedly won. Read here http://cleanupcityofstaugustine.blogspot.com/2014/06/saving-st-augustine-florida_21.html
Voters rejected Boles,who refused to shake Mayor Shaver's hand Monday night. Boles still appeared on the city's radio show and website days later. Why?
First Amendment rights deserve "breathing space." Let's not chill, coerce and restrain free speech rights to read our own government documents without "an appointment." Our Founding Fathers are watching us. This is our town, our time and our government. Enough.
Ed Slavin, B.S.F.S., Georgetown University, J.D., Memphis State University, was Appalachian Observer editor and was recommended for a Pulitzer by the local DA after he won declassification of the world's largest mercury pollution event in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, helping kick off the estimated $300 billion cleanup of Department of Energy nuclear weapons plants nationwide, expected to finish by his 100th birthday, in 2057.