Friday, January 02, 2009
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK - ARTISTS GONE !
Last week the local news paper here, "The St. Augustine Record" reported that recently almost 20,000 dollars had been paid to hired counsel Michael Kahn of Melbourne to prosecute artist Suvo on a single charge of "offering for sale" artwork on St. George Street. Each side gave oral arguments of one half hour before Judge Wendy Berger. Contrary to previous Federal precedents he was found guilty and the fine of 165 dollars remained.
Mr. Kahn submitted his bill and was paid 19, 700 dollars from your tax dollars! This was for prosecution of one city code infraction. Suvo has perhaps a dozen more scheduled for trial along with seven other artists.
On New Years Eve two Art In The Market artists, Scott Raimondo and Dean Quigley were jailed for "offering for sale" artworks in the Plaza De La Constitucion. Undercover officers being paid overtime were used to solicit a price quote from each artist. These two desperate criminals were handcuffed and taken to the St. John's County jail and finally bonded out just moments before midnight, ringing in the New Year, 2009.
According to S.A.P.D. Commander Fricke, the city is "stepping up enforcement" by not only continue issuing 100 dollar citations but will now "take the artists directly to jail" before trial for "violating" ordinance 22-6. Meanwhile, the city permits musicians with tip jars and sellers of counterfeit designer purses to operate without hassle. Clearly this is directed solely at visual artists . City Manager Mr. William ("Art is Foo Foo") Harris and his landlord cronies feel that they are above the law and can use taxpayer funds to harass the artists to "protect" their interests, particularly in the case of Len Cutter who owns four art galleries surrounding the Plaza. He must feel that as an important man in this community he can dictate what takes place in "HIS" front yard, the Plaza De La Constitucion.........the nations oldest public space as stated on a sign near St. George Street.
So, as of New Year's Day 2009, after almost 450 years, you no longer have the ability or right to acquire artwork from the artist vendors of St. Augustine. Big Brother has won......................so far. The First Amendment does not exist in St. Augustine. Thank the artists for a good fight but we have drained our resources and will , fighting for our (and yours) natural rights.
This community should be ashamed, permitting this behaviour by unscrupulous city officials.