Under Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS and one-party rule by Dull Republicans in Tallahassee, local protection for historic protection has evaporated if you're near the coast.
Congratulations, one-party rule supporters, you utterly unjust stewards of historic preservation. This means you, Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS, House Speaker PAUL RENNER and Senate President KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO.
Your legislation flunks the laugh test.
For the schemers, schlemiels and scoundrels who run our state for the benefit of end stage capitalist conmen, here's your legislation's first victim -- Al Capone's mansion:
Faster than a speeding dump truck, what we know and love here in St. Augustine, our Nation's Oldest City, is being destroyed. Thanks to demolition and demolition by neglect, and the influence of wealthy property owners, there's already been a veritable demolition derby of historic structures demolished under dodgy circumstances, including:
ECHO HOUSE (1927 community building demolished by disgraced for St. Paul A.M.E. pastor Rev. RONALD RAWLS, JR. for church parking, with parishioners stating that God told Rev. Rawls to destroy the building for parking for his "business"). In 2014, RAWLS asked me to stay after the visiting Rabbis left the church; he asked me to support demolition of ECHO HOUSE. I told him that he was wrong and that history would rue the day that an historic African-American church would demolish an historic African-American community center. In 2017, City Commission voted 3-2 to allow the demolition.
CARPENTER's HOUSE (demolished based on false testimony that it was unstable, benefitting the property owner, Harrisburg Pennsylvania lawyer-speculator DAVID BARTON CORNEAL, to allow construction of a pool at his "exclusive," high-end fancy-bears hotel, "The Collector," formerly the Dow Museum of Historic Homes, sold by the Daytona Museum, violating the donative intent of Kenneth Worcester Dow). Overbearing overweight CORNEAL once stomach-bumped me at City Hall, after I filed paperwork to challenge his demolition. (Our St. Johns County Property Appraiser later investigated CORNEAL for homestead tax fraud, taking a 100% homestead property tax exemption when he was renting out rooms in his mansion.)
DON PEDRO FORNELLS HOUSE (62 Spanish Street, 211-year old Spanish colonial building demolished by CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR., ex-Mayor, then-Chair of the Historic Architecture Review Board, working without permits, for which WEEKS was fined only $3700 by Code Enforcement Board, and never prosecuted by federal OSHA for violation of OSHA law, which OSHA saying it won't prosecute cases of building collapses unless there is a worker death or injury). WEEKS has a Master's degree in construction from the University of Florida and acts like Republican Lord of All He Surveys in historic downtown St. Augustine, where he was long a commercial landlord, construction contractor and frequent beneficiary of City favors (like expecting City staff to put his application ahead of the lines of other applicants for archaeological and construction inspections.
So now they've massacred the former mansion of Al Capone, perpetrator of the St. Valentine's Day massacre. Is nothing sacred here in Flori-DUH?
As the Army's Boston attorney Joseph N. Welch asked Senator Joe McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954, have our legislators and property owners no sense of decency?
Are historic building demolitions a crime, a sin or a tort? You tell me.
What WEEKS, CORNEAL and RAWLS have in common is a Donald Trumplike anger at being questioned. (CORNEAL once stomach-bumped me when I filed paperwork to challenge his demolition.
In fact, I spoke out against all three of their demolitions. And I would do it again.
Now, demagogic DeSANTIS and his new legislation will make these demolitions flourish, as greedy businessmen get their way with our history. This is despicable.
From The Guardian: