Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"And The World Turned Upside Down" -- City Enacts Six Ordinances, Settling Artists' Latest First Amendment Lawsuit

The late artist Greg Travous and his dog were arrested a dozen times for First Amendment expressive activity -- painting in the Plaza.  Greg was there in spirit on Monday, October 9, 2017, as nearly-silent St. Augustine City Commissioners passed six ordinances undoing the devious deviltry of Nuremberg-style Jim Crow laws designed to make it tough for artists and musicians.

Three cheers for our heroic Mayor Nancy Shaver, for attorneys Bill Sheppard, Bryan DeMaggio, Thomas Elijah Cushman and plaintiffs Bruce Kevin Bates, et al.

Watch tape here -- I am the only person who spoke in the public hearings -- six of them.  Items 8B2-7. http://staugustinefl.swagit.com/play/10092017-586

The evil created by the likes of former City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS, former Police Chief DAVID SHOAR f/k/a "HOAR" (now Sheriff) and of disgraced ex-Mayors LEN WEEKS and JOE BOLES is being undone.  Before your very eyes.

Celebrate!  Promote healing.  It's our town and our time and democracy is on the march.

From Historic City News:

City implements settlement with local artists

Historic City News watched carefully as years of bad blood between city management and local artists came to a head, and a unanimous city commission voted to approve Ordinances 2017-24 through 2017-29 in order to comply with the terms of a mediated settlement in the case of Bates, et. al. v. City of St. Augustine.
This is not the first lawsuit against the City, nor the first loss for the City when it comes to enforcement of unconstitutional ordinances that infringed the civil rights of local expressive artists to create and sell their work in public places.
Tonight, members of the city commission voted 5-0 to implement the repeal, amendment, and creation of six ordinances approved on Monday August 28th.
On September 25, 2017 these ordinances were passed on first reading.  Tonight, after a public hearing, they were read and approved on second reading.
  • Ordinance 2017-24 – Repeals the pre-1964 ordinance regarding Peddlers and the permitting requirements.
  • Ordinance 2017-25 – Repeals regulation of the West Plaza grounds now owned and controlled by the State of Florida.
  • Ordinance 2017-26 – Amends the regulation of the lottery system at the Market in the Plaza to preclude commercial activity, reduce administrative fees, and providing and indigency waiver of fees.
  • Ordinance 2017-27 – Amends the definitions for street artist and provides definition for Expressive Speech.
  • Ordinance 2017-28 – Amends the Mobile Vendors regulation to exempt Street Artists from the requirements, reduce the administrative fees and extend hours of operation.
  • Ordinance 2017-29 – Creates section 22-19 of the City code to provide for twelve First Amendment Expressive Activity spaces be created under the covered area adjacent to the Historic Downtown Parking Facility. It also provides for a lottery system, administrative fees, and an indigency waiver.

From former Mayor George Gardner's St. Augustine Report:

Artists gain space
in city settlement

   City commissioners Monday approved six ordinances which tweak earlier rules and regulations, giving artists more space and recognition while preserving a ban on painting along and around St. George Street.
   The ordinances are the result of mediation in a lawsuit brought by four artists.
   They'll now have reserved spaces in the Plaza market and new spaces created in the visitor center parking garage loggia, as well as a reduction in fees.
   "We all look forward to livelier streets ... and fewer ordinances," commented Mayor Nancy Shaver following passage of the battery of ordinances.

From St. Augustine Record:

Posted October 10, 2017 12:03 am
By SHELDON GARDNER sheldon.gardner@staugustine.com
City seals changes to St. Augustine artists rules

St. Augustine commissioners unanimously adopted six ordinances on Monday night that expand freedoms for artists.

The ordinances, which go into effect this month, are part of the city’s efforts to settle a lawsuit that four artists filed against the city over rules that limit the sale of art in public spaces.

The ordinances:

• Provide a definition for expressive speech and define street artists as people who engage in expressive speech.

• Reserve spaces in the Plaza de la Constitucion market just for street artists via a monthly lottery. Street artists will be able to create and sell art in those spaces, but certain items such as food will not be allowed to be sold.

• Create a dozen new spaces next to the city’s parking garage that will be just for street artists.

• Exempt street artists from abiding by the city’s mobile vending ordinance, and hours of operation under the ordinance will be extended.

• Reduce several fees, such as the cost to get a spot in the Plaza, and open the door for fee waivers for financial hardship.

• Repeal regulations and permitting for peddlers and regulations for the West Plaza, which is under state control.

“I think we all look forward to livelier streets and … fewer ordinances,” Mayor Nancy Shaver said after the votes.

Other regulations, like prohibitions against painting and otherwise performing on north St. George Street and other areas, are still in force.

In other business

Commissioners supported increasing solid waste fees for residential customers. Vice Mayor Todd Neville voted against the resolution, saying not enough detail and justification had been provided.

“We’ve asked for cost-savings measures, and it’s always fee, fee, fee, fee, fee,” Neville said.

As of Nov. 1, the residential solid waste rate will increase by 83 cents a month, according to the resolution. Fee increases include home occupational rates. Also the residential dumpster cost for bulky yard trash or construction/demolition debris will increase by $8 a month.

New rates will help replenish reserves that were depleted during Hurricane Matthew, according to a memo from City Public Works Director Martha Graham.

• Commissioners, except for Neville, also approved increasing franchise fees as of Nov. 1 for trolley companies in the city from 3.5 to 4 percent of gross revenues, with a minimum of $10,000 to be paid by both companies to the city in a year.

Kim Kiff, regional manager for Ripley Entertainment, had asked Monday via email for the city to reconsider the increase, citing a more than $500,000 hit to the business in the past year related to the hurricanes.

• Not including outside help, the city has collected 350 tons of debris related to Hurricane Irma, and the job is expected to wrap up this weekend, Graham said.

• The city has received grants from the Florida Inland Navigation District. Combined with funds from the St. Augustine Port, Waterway & Beach District, several hundred thousand dollars will go toward dredging Salt Run, building a kayak launch in Lincolnville and purchasing a police boat, said Jim Piggott, the city’s general services director.

• Meredith Breidenstein, city budget director, said that the city hasn’t received any money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Hurricane Matthew. It’s not clear when that money will come through, though the city is closer to getting funding for several projects.


Rick Ambrose · 

Excellent! Now, how about allowing artists to paint freely, as their forebears were, like Emmit Fritz, et al.......
LikeReply3Oct 10, 2017 8:13am
Edward Adelbert Slavin · 

Not much detail in this article. Why? Our Nation's Oldest City's sordid history of Jim Crow laws, Nuremberg-style laws aimed at treating artists as "vermin" and "Gypsys," somehow omitted from this article. Why? The Record has a sorry history of opposing civil rights, including artists' and musicians' rights and the rights of African-Americans and GLBT people (including the Rainbow flags case). Is this short article the best that you can do? Please watch the public hearings on the City's website. This article airbrushes history.
LikeReply3Oct 10, 2017 8:52am

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