Will someone please tell the Record that fine artists are not palm weavers? Crappy photo of a vendor accompanies today's Record story on the case of Bates v. City of St. Augustine, accompanied by article quoting misguided miscreant MARKS GRAY lawyer EDWARD LOUIS BIRK, threatening parade of horribles if artists are "allowed" to exercise their First Amendment rights create and sell art in what is called Our Nation's Oldest City. Pitiful.
The Record did not devote enough words to the article. It needed to quote from documents and the Judge, and misunderstood the case by printing the wrong photograph. Total screwup. Directed from corporate management, in bed with local burghers laughingly persecuting artists for 32 years?
In federal court, attorneys spar over St. Augustine artist restrictions, First Amendment
Posted: August 21, 2015 - 8:24pm
By Steve Patterson
Artists suing over St. Augustine’s regulation of their work want to curb city controls on them, but not all kinds of sidewalk businesses, one of their lawyers told a federal judge Friday.
“The court could craft a nuanced set of injunctions” to stop restrictions on painters and other visual artists without undermining rules that also control sales of hot dogs and clothing, attorney Bryan DeMaggio argued to U.S. District Judge Brian Davis during a hearing on whether to block enforcement of a string of city laws while the suit plays out in court.
Davis didn’t decide the question Friday, saying only he would rule as soon as possible.
But a lawyer arguing the city’s case warned that scrapping the city’s rules could trigger serious problems.
“I dare say there would be chaos,” argued attorney Edward Birk. “People would be hurt. People would be robbed or threatened with crime.”
Similar fights have happened repeatedly in St. Augustine, with some of the same artists suing at times and court decisions going both ways.
The current suit, which was filed in June, argues a succession of local ordinances that affect sidewalk artists violated the freedom of expression guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
“What the city has done is systematically eliminated all the meaningful places” art could be produced and sold, argued DeMaggio, who represents artists Bruce Kevin Bates, Elena Hecht, Kate Merrick and Helena Sala.
DeMaggio recounted a chain of laws, some affecting sidewalk sales on specific streets, others limiting hours of business or mandating a city permit that includes a requirement to show good moral character. He said the rules as a group have become arbitrary and unjustifiable.
There’s nothing unreasonable about the city’s laws, answered Birk, who said they were written to balance the needs of sidewalk businesses against other factors the city can’t change, like the layout of centuries-old streets and requirements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Birk said the city has important interests in managing a flow of residents and tourists through the city and preserving an aesthetic sense that’s essential to keep visitors coming back.
Davis listened closely during the arguments, asking about nuances of appellate rulings and the different standards for free expression in art and in commerce.
And he quieted both sides by asking where in arguments about the flow of tourists through the city they had listed actual numbers of people circulating through streets or neighborhoods or the city overall.