Sunday, March 04, 2018

Margo Pope column re: panhandling leaves much to be desired (SAR)

Is Margo Pope pandering on panhandling?  She's usually pretty sharp.   But Margo's church and others need to ask, "What would Jesus do?" Stigmatizing homeless people for public urination and defecation when restrooms are not open 24/7 -- that is so wrong.  Not surprisingly, the City, ex-Mayors LEN WEEKS and JOE BOLES and the UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA are at the center of hypocrisy, creating the problem by closing City and State-owned restrooms early, then wanting people arrested for public elimination of bodily wastes. That seems cruelly unfair -- sadistic.  Typical of "Jim Crow law" in these parts.  Call them the Immoral Minority. Most of us are disgusted by corruption, LEN WEEKS, JOE BOLES, and all their works and pomps.

81 St. George Street

POPE’S VIEW: Panhandling solution could be coming soon
Feb 28 at 10:08 AM
Posted Mar 3, 2018 at 2:01 AM
St. Augustine Record

Panhandling is a job in downtown St. Augustine.

I know. I shop there, worship there, dine in the fine eateries, and am a member of an organization that manages a city-owned historic place in the middle of Panhandling Ground Zero: St. George Street between Cathedral Place and Treasury Street.

They arrive very early in the morning and set up their “offices” on benches on tourist-mecca St. George Street. Their co-workers arrive, stash their stuff, put on their signs, too.

They know the rules. They are not allowed to ask for money, verbally, by law. They hang signs around their necks and then watch for any opportunity to catch the eye of someone walking by. They say, “hello, and hope passers-by respond. Some do.

So much for city officials, businesses and tourism leaders telling visitors not to give “them” money.

I watched Livestreaming of the City Commission meeting on Feb. 26 where attorney and city consultant Michael Kahn presented the proposed panhandling rules that he has been working on at the city’s request. Photos offered as examples of very bad behaviors were like a documentary movie.

We got to this point because of a City Commission decision in 2016 that ended enforcement of most of our panhandling rules. That was after the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa, ruled panhandling is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment.

This proposed ordinance’s distance regulations are precise. You can read them at

They’re a good start. Enforcement is the key. For example, limiting where panhandlers can stand on St. George Street in relation to businesses within 20 feet of an entrance or exit, leave a tight space. The width of St. George Street at Treasury, is around 25 feet, according to Paul Williamson, city public affairs officer. He conferred with Todd Grant of the city’s public works for this measurement. “And that is about as good as it gets,” Williamson said. The street gets narrower for a while and then around the Colonial Quarter, is about 25 feet again, Williamson said.

We already have rules against panhandling within 20 feet of ATMS, city parking meters and parking pay stations.

New restrictions would be applied, if the ordinance is adopted, prohibiting panhandling and solicitation within 20 feet of a business’s entrance or exit, a government-operated restroom, city parking lots or the city parking garage. Another new rule will prohibit panhandling within 100 feet of a school.

On March 26, the City Commission will hold a public hearing for the second reading of the ordinance. Regardless of what side you’re on, that is the time to let the City Commission know.

If you want to see the action in person, come well before the 5 p.m. meeting start to get a seat. If you want to hear it but not get caught up in the crowd, then watch the Livestreaming as I did last month. Just go to and look for the Livestreaming link on the home page. Another option is to contact City Commissioners with your views before the meeting.

Either way, speak up and speak out.

Margo C. Pope was associated with The St. Augustine Record for 24 years, retiring in 2012 as The Record’s editorial page editor.

Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Rank 0
1. Violating F.S. 286, people were DENIED right to speak at first reading hearing, which presented "evidence" and "testimony" that proved only one point -- public health problem due to lack of restrooms. City and State owned restrooms must open 24/7. City-owned 81 St. George Street restrooms close at 9 PM -- ex-Mayors JOE BOLES and LEN WEEKS have no-bid lease requiring them to provide restrooms. They're violating Americans with Disabilities Act.
2. I filed ADA concern with City 2/28. ADA Coordinator TODD GRANT refuses to speak with me. If restrooms are not open at night, it violates ADA, leaving bad impression for elderly and disabled, including our five million annual visitors.
3. City of St. Augustine STILL lacks a welcoming spirit, whether at Commission meetings, City Hall, or St. George Street.
4. Margo, the only "problem" is one the City created by banning artists and musicians from St. George Street. It WAS a cool, hip place. Buskers would say to panhandlers, "move along, buddy." As Cathy Brown says ,it's now "one giant t-shirt shop."
5. Conflict of interest for Kahn to get $25k to "solve" the "problem" his anti-entertainer ordinance created? Like character in "The Godfather" who ran overweight trucks, then got government contracts for repaving.
6. City's $25k Kahn contract is more wasteful spending.
7. City Attorney can't write an ordinance? She's responsible for failure to ask court to order WHETSTONES to pay some $219,000 fees in their latest frivolous lawsuit--discussed in Shade Meeting, with no followup by another contracted outside law firm. Legal malpractice.
8. City Commission must ask tough questions 3/26
9. Margo, the Record must stop being a louche lickspittle for City Hall and other wealthy landowners like the WHETSTONES, WEEKS, BOLES.« less
  • 1 day ago
Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Rank 0
10. One-sided Record reporting lacks balance
11. Record reporters rarely quote dissenters. Journalistic malpractice.
12. City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E. and other officials BRAG about their ability to get the Record to print their "spin."
13. When parking garage was first proposed, Jacksonville TV news reporter "covering" the story did a supercilious standup in front of nearly empty Francis Field parking lot, saying the parking garage would "solve" a then nonexistent parking problem. She did not mention the empty parking lot behind her.
14. Showing the videotape and laughing at putative "reporter," City Directors dubbed then Assistant City Manager John Regan "the Minister of Propaganda." John took it as a compliment
15. City fails to pursue opportunities for St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore.
16. Meanwhile, City appeals to hatred and prejudice, empowering Facebook group. Some members packed pistols, harass homeless and urged destruction of personal property of people they did not like and throwing it in the street (some people targeted on FB weren't panhandlers).
17. Wrong for City to delegate fact-gathering function to vigilantes.
18. Wrong for vigilantes to harass homeless
19. Commission lacks critical thinking skills. It violated our First Amendment & F.S. 286 rights to testify/speak after Kahn's canned "testimony" and "evidence" at 2/26 first reading hearing.
20. Record must stop being an accomplice to violations of human rights.
21. Record must investigate and cover news without fear or favor.
22. Enough biased, short stories, City spin, and appealing to hatred
23. What the City did against buskers is a stench in the nostrils of our Nation.
24. Everyone loved the artists and musicians, except a few commercial landlords.« less
  • 1 day ago (edited)
Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Rank 0
25. Refusal to provide 24/27 restrooms violates ADA.
26. City can be held liable for lessees' discriminatory conduct. Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority, 365 U.S. 715 (1961),
27. Kahn and City NEVER addressed unconstitutional nature of their distance-based ordinance. 573 U.S. ___ ,134 S.Ct. 2518 (2014). Gave citation to City Manager John Regan last year. Asked Kahn to call me & discuss it. No response. Wonder why?
28. City Hall ignores wisdom of Saint Augustine, who said, "An unjust... » more
  • 1 day ago (edited)
Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Rank 0
1. Today, March 3, 2018,, inspired and empowered by proof of public health problems flowing from lack of restrooms -- public urination and defecation in our Nation's Oldest City's Historic Downtown -- I filed a U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights complaint against the University of Florida, which refuses to open its St. George Street restrooms 24/7.
2. I requested an FMCS federal mediator. That might help resolve the City's restroom problem within 30 days.
3. Never again must St. Augustine residents and visitors be subjected to denial of 24/7 public restrooms, violating rights of our seniors and persons with disabilities
4. We are STILL waiting on City of St. Augustine to respond to my February 28, 2018 ADA concern, filed with CoSA's ADA coordinator, TODD GRANT
5. City NEVER responded to telephone messages.
6. City NEVER responded to my request to walk the 6/10 of a mile from 81 St. George Street (City-owned restrooms under suzerainty of ex-Mayors JOE BOLES and LEN WEEKS) to 111 Avenida Menendez (City-owned restrooms at Marina).
7. Does anyone think it's reasonable to expect seniors or disabled tourists or residents to walk 6/10 of a mile to restroom!?
8. IF City does not respond, I will file ADA complaint with USDOJ 3/4.
9. Thank you to Michael Kahn and his presentation of "witnesses" and "evidence." It established beyond peradventure the unsanitary sequelae of the malign neglect by City and University of Florida in denying 24/7 restrooms in our historic area. When will they ever learn? When City and UF finally respect our rights, this WILL be a happier place
10. Sworn testimony by ex-Mayor LEN WEEKS, et al. re: alleged public defecation and urination by panhandlers supports ADA and age discrimination complaints. Muchisimas gracias, y'all!« less
  • 20 hours ago (edited)
Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Rank 0
Today, March 4, 2018, I filed a USDOJ complaint under ADA against City of St. Augustine and its ex-Mayors LEN WEEKS and JOE BOLES on their refusal to provide 24/7 restrooms at City-owned restrooms on the leased WEEKS-BOLES business property at 81 St. George Street, which bears a name that the Record's computer software algorithm automatically censors, apparently because it includes a racial/ethnic pejorative. (Florida ******* Cafe). "Fiat justitia ruat cælum." ("Let justice be done though the heavens fall."). Lucrative City lease expires in 2024.

No comments: