Monday, May 25, 2020

Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport -- Memorial Day May 25, 2020

Today is Memorial Day,.  When I learned that no flags were allowed to be placed on St. Augustine National Cemetery graves this year, I complained and got swift action from VA HQ officials.  The flags are up.

Thanks to Rep. Michael Waltz and his staff, VA General Counsel William Hudson, Jr., Randy Reeves, VA Under Secretary and his staff, and St. Johns County Veterans Council, flags are going up on individual graves at St. Augustine National Cemetery.   I've asked that the VA's cemetery advisory committee meet here to discuss COVID-19 and future events:

My father and I were once walking around Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park.  We passed a man who was looking down at the ground, a hangdog look on his face.  

Dad brightened and said, "How you doin'?"

The man straightened up and met my father's smile with his own.  Later, I asked my dad, "Who was that man?"  Dad replied, "I don't know.  He just looked like he needed cheering up."

My father was rightly selected as a morale non-com with the 82nd ABN DIVN in WWII.  Dad knew that guy needed what we all need right now -- cheering up.

We were approaching the Liberty Bell, in Independence Hall, where we reached out and touched it.  My folks taught me what it means to be an American, starting with first principles, set in Philadelphia.

Decisions are made by people who show ujp.

Decisions by brave, brilliant men rocked our world, commencing in Philadelphia in 1776 and 1787, in what is now Independence National Historical Park.  

Our right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is only as strong as our souls, courts and our elected officials. 

Our "republic, if you can keep it," as Ben Franklin told the lady in 1787, is stressing. 

We choose life over death. We express hope over despair. And we take care of our own. 

Americans love our country and respect each other and want everyone to succeed; we reject hatred.

After City Manager John Reganr's righteous COVID-19 lockdown order,  we saw some of the best and worst of governments, worldwide. 

Sadly. our maladroit City Commission just laid an egg, deciding to cancel Independence Day fireworks without allowing public comment.  

This illegal practice of St. Augustine City Commission decisions without public comment is indefensible, must be ended at once. 

No Commissioner was in the room. They were hooked up with "Zoom" software, which lets us see how bored and scared they look.   

Denying public comment was intentional -- not an agenda item. No public comment was requested when five absent-minded Commissioners -- all of them elsewhere -- voted in lockstep to support the ukase of the City Manager, who recently referred to the city in the first person, as in "I," as if he were Louis XIV.  Speak out about this hasty vote to cancel fireworks without public comment.
Robert Kennedy said, "if the Bill of Rights was written in the style of St. Paul, it would say, 'but the most important of these is speech."

Our First Amendment rights must be respected, not neglected.

Five Commissioners made fireworks decisions without accurate information or public involvement -- May 11 vote to cancel July 4, 2020 Independence Day fireworks in St. Augustine Florida:

  1. Without public comment. Illegal. (Florida Statute 286.114(2); Article I, Section 24 of our Florida Constitution; First and Ninth Amendments)  
  2. Based on falsehood -- City Manager's unsourced bald assertions that three cities had already cancelled fireworks: Flagler Beach, Jacksonville Beach and Daytona Beach.  Truth: Only one (Flagler Beach). 
  3. No pros/cons presented.  
  4. No alternatives discussed.  Texas sage Jim Hightower says, "They're stealing the alternatives, folks!"
RFK said to his staff, "Don't tell  me what I should have done, tell me what I should do now!" 

Hindsight is 20/20 in the year 2020.  Ask questions.  Demand answers.  Expect democracy. 

Democracy is not a spectator sport.  Ronald Reagan said, "politicians are like diapers.  They require frequent changing and for the same reason."

With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

Photo credit: 
Col. Mark A. Tolzmann, U.S. Army (Ret.):
      Taken Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 1545.

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