Monday, May 11, 2009


From U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Morales Howard's order to the City of St. Augustine: 4:45 PM, May 11, 2009
"In light of the Court's conclusion that Plaintiffs (artists) have shown a substantial likelihood of establishing an infringement of their First Amendment rights, the court similarly concludes that Plaintiffs (artists) have adequately established that they will sustain irreparable injury if the City is not enjoined from enforcing the Ordinance against them. It is well settled that loss of First Amendment freedoms, eve for brief periods, constitutes irreparable injury."
A temporary restraining order has been issued preventing the city from citing and arresting artists exercising their Constitutional right to display and sell artworks on public property.
Court Date or City appeal to follow. St. Aug Record Story by Richard Prior. St. Aug Record Story by Peter Guinta


  1. Anonymous12 May, 2009

    Content Neutral.
    Facially constitutional.
    Unconstitutional as applied.

    This is not much of a victory for the artists.

  2. Anonymous12 May, 2009

    Whoever you are anonymous- you obviosly are not a lawyer. You do sound like some obsessed, off balance person. Do you have a room somewhere with cut out newspaper articles of Suvo all over the walls and mad drawings? Get a life and get some help!

  3. Anonymous12 May, 2009

    Not to fan the paranoia, but there are multiple anonymous critics out there. I'm not the anonymous who posted the first comment on this entry. This is my independent take.

    First anonymous cites important criteria used in legal analysis. Terms actually used in the Judge's order.

    Second anonymous doesn't even recognize the legal terms--probably not very reliable on lawyer recognition. Really, the only person with newspaper articles of Suvo all over the wall would be Suvo. Or maybe Karl, who disturbingly more and more takes on a persona like Fats to Corky in Magic.

    No matter whether you can or can't comprehend the temporary injunction or read the writing on the wall, let's all enjoy the time the artists have in the plaza.

    Have a magical day.

  4. Anonymous12 May, 2009

    I have read the order. The judge said that the city could ban everything in the plaza but needed more evidence to justify the larger ban.

    If the commission just passes an ordinance banning everything in the plaza then they will survive review per the judge's order.

    You have no idea what you are talking about.

  5. Anonymous12 May, 2009

    Agreed fourth anonymous. With the notice process, and a two meeting requirement for new ordinances, it could be six or eight weeks before the City would enforce any prohibition against sales in the plaza.

    The artists should enjoy this time. School is getting out; tourists coming into town. Not a real active time for hurricanes.

    As the City won't be enforcing the ordinance as written, unless and until the City does rewrite the ordinance, the jewelers and the sunglass sales people should join the artists. They should all be out there every day.

  6. Anonymous12 May, 2009

    Hey artists!!!

    Be smart here and use your new found leverage to get the city to agree to something you can live with before they amend the ordinance.

    The artists should be applauded for using the legal system rather than the Ed Slavin school of name calling.

    A compromise would be good for everyone.

  7. Anonymous13 May, 2009

    And we all know how INEFFECTIVE Ed Slavin ultimately is, no matter what lies the convicted liar tells in listing his bogus accomplishments.

    Congrats, true artists, we've missed you- now help protect us from the likes of sunglass huts in the plaza. And from Ed Slavin, for that matter - all snake oil salesmen.

  8. Anonymous13 May, 2009

    I can't wait to see art back in the Plaza!

    P.S. All you cranks, keep the Artists out of your personal battles we are sick of reading it.

  9. 5-12-2009


    Spinning like mad in public, City of St. Augustine elected and appointed officials were a joy to behold last night at the City Commission meeting.

    In Jimmy Breslin's Watergate book, How the Good Guys Finally Won, he profiles how people who were underestimated (night law school graduates like Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill and Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino) were "saving the country" from fascist President Richard Milhous Nixon.

    Here in St. Augustine, our City government has kicked around visual artists and buskers for years, repeatedly violating the First Amendment.

    Those good people, likewise underestimated by the City, have just triumphed again, with a constitutional crisis hanging over the City of St. Augustine like a shroud.

    Ordinarily, covering the coverup-prone City of St. Augustine requires a combination of skill sets – the patience of the Biblical Job; the steely determination of an 82nd Airborne Division. paratrooper the night before D-Day; the soul of a Jesuit priest-psychiatrist conducting an exorcism; and the eye of an eagle crossed with a jeweler's eye (to detect political truths).

    For four years now, I've been regularly taking it all in, asking questions (God, they hate that) and actually trying to understand what's going on behind closed doors, in secret, in our government. This is, after all, one of the most mismanaged City Halls in America, one that habitually violates the First Amendment and pollutes with impunity (and seeming immunity)..

    While I never worked for the State Department, my Georgetown Foreign Service School course work prepared me for Kremlinology and political analysis in hostile situations where there are few outward clues. CIA and State Department mavens formerly scrutinized everything, looking for inferences, including who stood (or sat) where on the Kremlin Wall during the annual May Day Parade.

    Last night's City Commission meeting left clues that what Robert F. Kennedy would have called "the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance" are tumbling down, the subject of continuing work by citizen-activists..

    Last night's City Commission meeting could have used an operatic score, not unlike one of the classic "West Wing" episodes.

    The meeting began innocently enough, with well-deserved honors for citizen-activist Linda James and for graduating high school seniors for civic involvement.

    The meeting continued with revelations about how the City was going to have to tap into its $4 million water/sewer reserve fund for a $1.7 million sewage aeration improvement. Only loans are available (no grants) because, a City memo states, of our Nation's Oldest City "having documented environmental violations."

    Then, amid the usual pre-programmed show, a note of spontaneity sent visual shudders from one end of the room to another. An E-mail was sent from the Federal District Court to St. Augustine's lawyers, who were not poker faces.

    During a discussion of the Crawfish Festival, Assistant City Attorney CARLOS E. MENDOZA, an erstwhile Assistant State's Attorney, urgently called City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN into the courtyard adjoining the Alcazar Room, where the City Commission was meeting.

    From RONALD WAYNE BROWN's anguished look, I had a hunch that it had to be a decision in the artists' case. BROWN ordinarily looks fat, happy and sassy, one of the charter members of the Smirking Turkey Society (STS).

    Ironically, BROWN had only a few minutes earlier given his smirky report to Commissioners and actually said because of a four week delay by the U.S. District Judge, it "does not seem to have the level of urgency...." Oops. BROWN soon had to wipe that smile off his red face.

    As BROWN walked up the aisle to use a cellular telephone, I looked BROWN in the eye and asked him, "Has justice been done?" BROWN did not respond. BROWN's eyes betrayed him. I saw and smelled fear.

    The House of Cards that is the ancien regime in City Hall was rocked by what it would not yet let the public read. Learned Hand said one should not "ration justice," but our City's cognitive misers wouldn't share the decision with citizens, even as they were making materially false representations about the content of the decision.

    The Police Chief, City Manager, Assistant City Manager, City Attorney and others breathlessly read the Judge's order, which was duly shared it with languid St. Augustine Record reporter PETER GUINTA long before the moment when City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS (a/k/a WILL HARASS) finally "fessed" up and told Commissioners that he couldn't let adjourn yet and that he had some news for them...

    Loyal City of St. Augustine lapdog-reporter PETER GUINTA sat behind City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS throughout the entire meeting, arriving on time and staying until the end. GUINTA did not appear to fall asleep and actually read materials on the meeting. What a difference four days and a few choice complaints to MORRIS COMMUNICATIONS makes.

    Homophobic City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS had his arm around PETER GUINTA during one recess. City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN got touch-feely with GUINTA too. So did CARLOS E. MENDOZA, Assistant City Attorney, who leaned over as GUINTA read the decision and MENDOZA led him through it, as if he were tutoring his girlfriend.

    What a load of wasted effort – back at the Record, Assistant News Editor Richard Prior was downloading the decision from the PACER website, writing a news story worth of the name.

    Copies of the decision were provided to Commissioners and City staff, who read it in real time, with Commissioners discussing it with the City Attorney and City Manager, Not one of them was much of a poker face. The satraps who arrested artists have reaped the whirlwind, slapped with a 23-page order finding their arresting and taking artists to the pokey is unconstitutional.

    A copy of the decision was provided (free) to the St. Augustine Record's louche reporter/stenographer, PETER GUINTA, so I asked Assistant City Attorney CARLOS MENDOZA, City Public Affairs Director PAUL WILLIAMSON and Assistant City Manager TIMOTHY BURCHFIELD for a copy of the decision. They refused to provide one to me during the meeting, or to anyone else other than City Commissioners and staff (and pet rock PETER GUINTA, who impassively read the decision under the close and touch-feely tutelage of CARLOS E. MENDOZA, erstwhile Assistant State's Attorney)..

    They were unfriendly. They showed their posteriors, yet again. I wear their scorn as a badge of honor.

    Of course, none of the drama of last night's meeting made it into PETER GUINTA's story. City officials were so obviously spinning to him that he missed the real story – the spinning.

    These City managers are part of a peculiar institution. These are kiss-up, kick-down kind of people. These overstuffed, overpaid, stuffed-shirts are in the habit of arresting artists, threatening law-abiding citizens with arrests for First Amendment protected activity, abusing police powers, stiffing citizens on records requests, refusing to fax or E-mail documents, charging citizens for documents when the Record is not charged, and threatening citizens with arrest. So mean-spirited is this collection of louts and loonies that they participate in KKK-style websites attacking public participation in St. Augustine, using City time and equipment.. They're like the cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

    These City managers have been known to laugh and mock citizens, talk and read newspapers while citizens are speaking to Commissioners, mocking them, showing no class (they're all paid more than $80,000 per year and it is your money).

    So vindictive is Flagler College graduate MARK LITZINGER, the City's Comptroller, that he once demanded that I had back the fancy $10 full-color budget propaganda booklet after a workshop, while giving one for free to KATI BEXLEY, the hungover Record reporter who barely even looked at the brochure. When I asked LITZINGER if I could keep mine, he speed-dialed the Chief of Police.

    So bigoted is the City of St. Augustine that it required an actual federal court order to fly Rainbow flags on our Bridge of Lions, when every other group (including Flagler College) got to fly its flags on our Bridge (even the Broward Yacht Company). Judge Henry Lee Adams noted that Flagler College wasn't historical, but was allowed to fly its flags 59 days during 2004-2005.

    So lawbreaking and cynical is the City of St. Augustine that it has repeatedly been found by federal judges to have violated the First Amendment. So vicious is the City of St. Augustine that its poor police training left Marshal Burns a quadriplegic, while the officer who did it is still on the force, after taxpayers had to pay $1.5 million above the cost of insurance to pay for the $3.5 million settlement with Burns (after the then-City Attorney said the case was only worth $100,000).

    Seeing our City lose another First Amendment case left me with a warm glow all night and all day today.

    Once again, people of courage and commitment have made us proud to live in St. Augustine, a place where no matter how noisome the government, the citizens will always fight back (and win) just as we did on the Rainbow Flags and illegal dumping.

    Commissioners seemed to warm up to the idea of a St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway Act as Mayor Boles reported on how there are no state or federal funds for preserving historic buildings.

    After learning of the visual artists' victory, several of our City Commissioners showed admirable common sense in approaching the judge's decision. Commissioners Donald Crichlow and Leeana Freeman both said they wanted to see artists — Commissioner Freeman said that she wanted to see them in the "park" (not Plaza or Square). Mayor Boles said he didn't want to schedule any special meetings or take precipitous action.

    Upon passing the Plaza de la Constitución earlier today, riding in a car with the enlightened co-author of, I resolved to be kinder and gentler to the discourteous people who work for our City government.

    Jesus said to love your enemies (even as he kicked the moneychangers out of the temple).

    Most City of St. Augustine satraps can't help it if they have brain boogers – they were hired to work for a virtual dictator, City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS, as mean-spirited an authoritarian as ever made a bureaucrat sweat bullets. At City Commission meetings, notice how HARRISS gives little hand signals, like a conductor telling his horns when to play and when to shut up. The look on the countenance of MARK ALAN KNIGHT when present at the microphone is one of utter fear -- he looks as though he thinks HARRISS has a gun in his boot and might shoot if he is too candid with City Commissioners..

    As a whistleblower attorney trying cases across America, I've seen employees bossed by booze-addled dictators and workplaces mired in fear before. I've seen places where employees go to die, their souls shriveling up as they're forced to work unsafely and unethically (or in the alternative retaliated against for speaking the truths, careers ruined, reputations destroyed).

    It must be tough working for the City of St. Augustine and City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS (a/k/a WILL HARASS). There's no whistleblower policy, and the chances of one passing through the City Manager for a vote by Commissioners is not unlike the chances of a snowball in Hell.

    I've seldom seen a dictator more destructive than WILLIAM B. HARRISS (a/k/a WILL HARASS).

    HARRISS inspires fear in all of his employees.

    HARRISS picks managers who are insecure and will do his bidding no matter what -- even when he tells them to dump 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in the Old City Reservoir or dump semi-treated sewage effluent in our saltwater marsh. They'd do anything HARRISS told them to, like gang members in some sort of perpetual initiation rite. That's why everyone in town calls them HARRISS' HEYBOYS – because all HARRISS has to do is say, "HEY, BOY" and they not only jump, but ask how high they should jump.

    The thought of second-rate minds (like TIMOTHY BURCHFIELD or JOHN REGAN) having an original thought, or disagreeing with City Manager WILL HARASS is as likely as one of Stalin's henchmen (like Lavrentia Beria) doing the same.

    These timid souls hate democracy (and Democrats). They can't stand criticism (or competence).

    Their idea of being "cute" is putting solid waste in the Old City Reservoir and thinking no one would ever find out.

    Their idea of a "fun" day is probably something like this: waking up, discriminating against African-Americans before breakfast, ordering artists arrested before lunch, awarding no-bid contacts after a long lunch, harassing the homeless, then going home early in their bid black SUVs (courtesy of a $275/month car allowance for navigating about our small town), then laughing all the way to the bank as they cash their engorged paychecks (twelve white men make more than $80,000), then going to a fancy Black Tie dinner (the Noche de Gala at your expense) in honor of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, our City's founder (and author of the first hate crime in North America, back in 1566).

    They love secrecy and palace intrigue, like so many Mordrids around a Kafkaesque Castle.

    HARRISS' April 13, 1998 hiring was done only through a Sunshine violation.

    HARRISS' 2006 hiring of crony RONALD WAYNE BROWN as City Attorney (first temporarily and then permanently) was done only through two (2) successive Sunshine violations, un-prosecuted by the mediocrities in ex-State's Attorney John Tanner's office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who won't prosecute white collar crimes in the suites (or any crimes by public officials). Crookedness or incompetence?

    HARRISS' hiring of Republican lawyer MICHAEL KAHN has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars and given our City another well-deserved black eye from a Federal Court. Our City has been illegally arresting artists.

    Think of it: arresting artists. How gauche. How Banana Republic (but no, Latin countries love artists, and Commissioners travel to Spain and see artists there every year).

    As President Clinton said in his Second Inaugural Address, "Nothing great was ever accomplished by being small."

    How indescribably detrimental to small town values and national tourist expectations – people come here for the buskers and the artists and our City Administration is so addlepated and insane that it attacks the artists who attract tourists.

    RONALD WAYNE BROWN slyly said he doesn't know what visual art means.

    Arresting artists – that's like what President Obama said at the correspondents' dinner about former Vice President RICHARD CHENEY's autobiography, tentatively titled "How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People."

    Like RICHARD B. CHENEY, WILLIAM B. HARRISS is a sociopath and unfit to lead.

    Like RICHARD B. CHENEY, WILLIAM B. HARRISS needs to be prosecuted criminally.

    Like RICHARD B. CHENEY, WILLIAM B. HARRISS has never had a performance appraisal – you don't give the boss a performance appraisal, and HARRISS is obviously the Boss – the reason why everyone cowers in fear (including Commissioners).

    There's nothing wrong with the City of St. Augustine that democracy won't cure – that and a swift kick in the pants and firing City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS (a/k/a WILL HARASS).
    Then we can refer him to the United States Attorney and the FBI for criminal prosecution without his having an ex-prosecutor in his stable as his newest defense attorney..

    Then RONALD WAYNE BROWN can work elsewhere, perhaps sweeping up after the horses on the Avenida Menendez. BROWN already showed great familiarity with the noiseome horse deposits he was emitting last night.

    My favorite RONALD WAYNE BROWN quote was that the Plaza de la Constitucion was now going to be "unprotected" for several months because of the Federal Judge's orders. That dog won't hunt.

    No, BROWN, No. The Plaza de la Constitucion is protected by the federal judge's order – she's protected it from the haters and hubris, the hecklers and hitmen, who do everything that WILLIAM B. HARRISS says, including violate free speech and pollute.

    No, BROWN, No. The Federal Judge has protected the Plaza – she gives a hoot. You don't, BROWN. You and HARRISS just howl, like a wolf pack baying at the moon. Now go away, and don't let the City Hall door hit you in your fat butts.

    The majesty of the law is winning against the rampantly "corrupt" government of our City of St. Augustine. (At the Lighthouse Community Center in 2006, then-Mayor George Gardner conceded there was "rampant corruption." Gardner now publishes a newsletter as a city contractor, paid $1250/month to help spin the unspinnable for the unforgivable).

    Glory, Hallelujah! As in the "Battle Hymn of the Republic, the majesty of the law is "trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored"

    The majesty of the law is triumphing over the corrupt government of our City of St. Augustine
    — from punishment for dumping to injunctions against First Amendment violations.

    Now's the time to adopt a St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and National Scenic Coastal Parkway, protecting St. Augustine forever, in the spirit of the latest Federal Judge to find our City has violated citizens' constitutional rights, again finding our City has violated visual artists' rights.

    We're proud of our City (not our City government). We'll be prouder still when we have a national park, seashore and scenic coastal highway to add to our superlatives and when we have a new City Manager who respects diversity and liberty.

    What do you reckon?

  10. 4-14-2009

    Visual art is protected by the First Amendment -- that includes art sales on public property. Our City of St. Augustine has repeatedly violated visual artists' rights by arresting them.

    As a result of its anti-artist wars (announced in a series of repressive laws directed against visual artists), St. Augustine's city government may soon be ordered by a federal court to stop arresting and harassing visual artists for selling their original art. The court has been asked to order the City of St. Augustine to stop enforcing an "overbroad" city ordinance (Ordinance 22-6) against the visual artists.

    Arrests of visual artists have plagued life in St. Augustine for at least eleven years, since controversial William B. Harriss was named City Manager.

    Visual artists were first hounded, harassed and driven off four pedestrian blocks of St. George Street, the oldest street in America, with then-patrolman Barry Fox of the St. Augustine Police (SAPD) once arresting a 78-year old artist and frogmarching her down St. George Street.. (For a good time, go to Loose Screws and buy or rent J.D. Pleasant's documentary, "St. George Street Saga – The Story of the Artists and Performers Banned from St. George Street In the ‘Nation's Oldest City – what they did and what happened to them.")

    City officials promised the artists in 2000 that they could continue to sell art in America's oldest public market (Slave Market Square or Plaza de la Constitución). Then the City Manager and City Commissioners broke their word. They banned the use of the Plaza (and all city's parks, streets and sidewalks in its two large Historic Preservation zones, effectively preventing artists from showing and selling their work outdoors since 2007.

    Four visual artists sued the City, contending that their First Amendment rights to sell art have been violated.. The artists are Bruce Bates, Richard Childs, Elena Hecht and Kate Merrick. The four were represented in an April 13, 2009 federal court hearing by Jacksonville attorneys D. Gray Thomas, William Sheppard, Bryan Everett DeMaggio and St. Augustine attorney Thomas Elijah Cushman.

    Artist attorney Gray Thomas cited federal cases, including one from St. Augustine (won by Warren Celli over distributing the "St. Aug. Dog" newspaper). Thomas argued that the City's ordinance "overswept" and was "overbroad," based upon artist and bookselling precedents from federal appeals courts. As a result, Thomas asked District Judge Marcia Morales Howard to grant a preliminary injunction, which will stop the City from arresting any more artists until after the trial.

    In the lengthy oral argument, which spanned two hours and six minutes, attorney Gray Thomas and Judge Howard noted that the scope of the ban affects most of the historic tourism area -- the only Historic Preservation (HP) district not covered is the residential area (HP-1). The City's total ban in Historic Preservation Districts HP-2 & HP-3 of street and park commercial activity exempts newspaper sales, Thomas said, arguing that the City's ordinance 22-6 should have exempted visual artists on First Amendment grounds. In the language of First Amendment law, it was not "narrowly tailored."

    The artists' lawyers used an ELMO projector to show their exhibits on a 30 foot screen to the entire courtroom, peopled with some 30 visual artists and their supporters.

    In order to win a preliminary injunction the artists first had to convince Judge Howard that they had a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits and are continuing to suffer irreparable harm. Thomas quoted the Supreme Court as stating that even if a person's First Amendment rights are violated for a brief moment, she suffers irreparable harm.

    Opposing the preliminary injunction were the city's high-priced Melbourne defense attorney Michael Kahn (who said it was a privilege to argue First Amendment issues in federal court). The City hired Kahn to write anti-artist ordinances he is now defending, but this was not called to the attention of Judge Howard. Kahn is a Republican who advertises on a website for Republican lawyers. Kahn was accompanied by St. Augustine's City Attorney Ronald Wayne Brown and City Planning and by Zoning Director Mark Alan Knight (who sat in the audience).

    Former City Attorney Geoffrey B. Dobson's former law partner, Ronald Wayne Brown, notarized Dobson's rather emotional affidavit, which began with a history lesson and ended angrily with ranting cant opinions, including his assertion that venders "trashed the plaza," producing a "flea market" atmosphere. Judge Howard discounted Dobson's opinions but the artists' counsel noted ironically that the Dobson affidavit's historical narrative establishes longstanding use of the Plaza as a public market..

    The City's hired gun, Michael Kahn, also tried to rely upon sworn affidavits of Planning and Zoning Director Mark Knight and SAPD Commander Barry E. Fox and Sgt. Anthony Cuthbert, alleging misbehavior by "street venders."

    Judge Howard suggested that the City's affidavits did not support the conclusions in the City's filings. None of the conclusory affidavits gave any dates and times of supposed incidents and set forth unreliable double and triple hearsay. None of the City's affidavits offered any facts critical of the behavior of artists, erroneously attempting to lump them together with "street venders."
    The City's affidavits were strongly rebutted by the affidavit of visual artist Gregory Travous, who said none of the incidents involved visual artists, but non-artist venders (including people selling sunglasses, hair-wrapping and toy bears).

    In the visual artists' civil rights case, Judge Howard previously declined to allow live testimony, having rejected the City's claim that there were hotly contested facts.

    In frustration, Kahn called the supposedly "more expert" Brown to an easel to show Judge Howard locations from which artists are banned and supposed alternative places where artists could sell their art (including a median strip on Castillo Drive, in Francis Field and in the parking lot behind the Lightner Museum and City Hall).

    These locations are impractical, artist attorney Thomas argued, and there are few tourists there compared to the Plaza. Attorney Thomas, Judge Howard and the audience found it telling that Knight's photos of supposed alternative locations for the artists showed almost no pedestrians/tourists.

    In fact, Judge Howard asked rather pointedly why the City provided photos taken early in the morning, with no people in most of them. She said if the city's point was to show places where artists could market to tourists, its failure to show people there in those places cut against the City's case.

    Artist counsel Gray Thomas objected when the supposedly "expert" Brown repeatedly made comments that were "laced with what would be his testimony," rather than pointing out places mentioned in the affidavits. Judge Howard warned, "Limit yourself to what's in the affidavits," stating "I'm going to disregard" Brown's statements about the number of tour buses at the City's $22 million parking garage

    Repeatedly disregarding Judge Howard's orders and without ever having been sworn as a witness, Brown continued speaking about matters outside the affidavit. Judge Howard said, "I tried to remind Mr. Brown" not to speak of anything outside the affidavits, noting "he's providing information beyond them," stating "I don't intend to rely upon it."

    At one stage, Judge Howard stepped down from the bench in courtroom 10B, followed by her court reporter and law clerk, to scrutinize at one of two maps on the easel.

    Judge Morales asked Kahn why newspapers were excluded from ordinance 22-6. Kahn fumbled, "that's a good question," responding elliptically if not coherently.

    Throughout the hearing, City Planning and Zoning Director Mark Knight couldn't contain his angst and couldn't stop fidgeting, crossing his legs, wiggling his foot and shaking (no doubt with fear of City Manager Harriss).

    Visual artists were previously charged illegally permit fees by the city, which were refunded when artist Scott Raimondo pointed out that this was unconstitutional.

    Ironically, the day that the City proposed for the hearing (April 13, 2009) happened to be the eleventh anniversary of the City of St. Augustine violating Sunshine laws to hire William B. Harriss as City Manager (April 13, 1998). Harriss, who has never had a performance evaluation in eleven years, has spearheaded downtown commercial landlords' fight to rid the City of buskers – artists and entertainers – people who draw tourists and acclaim at home and abroad.

    On the eleventh anniversary of a date that (like Pearl Harbor) "will live in infamy," the City of St. Augustine was once again in federal court, once again defending against the indefensible – First Amendment violations.

    City Manager Harriss was hired without either a proper search or compliance with the Sunshine law. J.D. Pleasant spoke eloquently at the April 13, 1998 City Commission meeting about Commissioners' lawbreaking in hiring Harriss. While then-Commissioner John Reardon wanted annual performance appraisals, Commissioners rejected the idea. While Reardon wanted a national search, then-Commissioner Susan Burk said this would result in hiring an outsider, who might use his experience here as a "stepping stone" to work elsewhere (something that is empirically assumed about any job outside organized crime).

    City Manager Harriss' unctuous police abuses -- an "Unwelcome Wagon" directed against visual artists -- is but the tip of the iceberg in the history of government-sponsored bigotry in "the Nation's Oldest City." On June 12, 1964 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed St. Augustine America's "most lawless city" in a letter to rabbis -- the ugliness of SAPD and County Sheriff police riots helped convince Congress to break a filibuster and enact the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the landmark law that bans discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, and gender.

    The City of St. Augustine has previously lost several big First Amendment cases, including one to Warren Celli ("St. Aug. Dog" newspaper) and another to the St. Augustine Gay Pride Committee (with Judge Henry Lee Adams, Jr. ordering Rainbow flags on the Bridge of Lions June 7-13, 2005 in honor of 11,000 years of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual history here in Northeast Florida).

    Observers in the federal courtroom believed that Judge Howard was likely to rule against the city and for the artists. Such a ruling would vindicate the rights of visual artists to be left unmolested by the likes of Messrs. Harriss, Knight, Fox and Cuthbert, free to sell their art to tourists without fearing arrests (and criminal records of arrests and convictions) as the price for being an artist in the Nation's Oldest City.

    Observers also believed that the City Commissioners might finally change their discredited course -- fawningly supporting Harriss' eleven-year reign of ruin, including his anti-artist, anti-environmental, pro-developer, pro-speculator right-wing agenda (which includes spending tens of thousands of dollars on designing repressive laws). Why stop now?

    St. Augustine wants tens of millions of dollars in federal funding for its celebration of its 450th birthday, and the 500th anniversary of Florida (2015 and 2013, respectively), it will have to conform its behavior to the reasonable expectations of our Bill of Rights. Just as Dr. King wrote to the rabbis in 1964 (before the City's 400th birthday), the City's desire for funding gives leverage to those who seek to protect our rights,

    President Clinton once said, "the definition of insanity is doing the same old things and expecting different results." Arresting artists is contrary to the peace and dignity of the people of our town.

  11. Anonymous13 May, 2009

    I'm sorry I missed the meeting! What a great description. Can you get it on tape?

  12. Ed,
    I must say Bravo !!
    Exelent job on reporting what happend in the court room. I was there and by the way it was good to see you. There is but one small point I would correct you on, you said. " Visual artists were previously charged illegally permit fees by the city, which were refunded when artist Scott Raimondo pointed out that this was unconstitutional."
    The truth is it was not my dear friend Scott who open up that can of worms, and as a result many of the artist got their money Back. It was Suvo. In my opinion that is why they (the city) seemed to really single him out. He really cost them. I was there up close and personal. I know of what I speak. anyway thanks Ed for your support and reporting. Hope to see you again.

  13. Anonymous13 May, 2009

    Exactly right, roll with it. It was Suvo that set this ball rolling. Scott vascillates between hating Suvo and the City depending on the phase of the moon and his meds.

    Great to see Ed joining with those he previously maligned. Ed's a piece, not even a tool, just a piece.

    So what's Ed got against Mendoza (a former division chief with the state attorney's office) speaking with Prior (the only reporter assigned to felony court)? Is Ed hot under the collar because Mendoza didn't entertain Ed's begging pleas to put Harriss, et al, in prison or is Ed just hot for Mendoza?

    Go Greg. Go for it all. Don't let those around you suggest working with the City for something that suits everyone. You the man.

  14. Dear Anonymice:

    CARLOS E. MENDOZA was a coverup artist for the State's Attorney's office and he's still one now.

    He and the other City apparatchik-arachnids refused to share a copy of the Court's decision with me or with anyone else who didn't work for the City (other than lapdog PETER GUINTA of the WRecKord). They had plenty of copies and plenty of time (the decision was reportedly sent at 4:45 PM).

    Meanwhile, MENDOZA was showing GUINTA a marked-on copy of the decision, showing and telling GUINTA what to right.

    What a manipulator.

    MENDOZA had a sheaf of decisions copied and shared them with GUINTA, the Police Chief, City Commissioners and managers, but not the public.

    These are cognitive misers who are secretive, even with a Judge's decision that's just been E-mailed to the City and the Plaintiffs!

    What authoritarian goofiness and gooberishness!

    It's our government.

    As Bill Clinton said in his second Inaugural, "Nothing great was ever accomplished by being small."

    By that measure, CARLOS E. MENDOZA's small-mindedness is a case of "de minimis non curat lex."

    What do you reckon?

  15. Anonymous14 May, 2009

    So I guess you're saying he's not a peckerwood. Okay.

    Get some new schtick, Ed. You're like a heat pump 2 years over warranty--you were once loud and annoying but we've gotten so used to it--can't even hear you anymore.

    Pick up something fresh from the market, would ya?

  16. you people weren't even there when they took the artists off the street in 2001.. i was one of those artists. i was 21 at the time and i used to draw portraits for families. i did it for several years. there were artists that had families to support. we were all loved by the public. the shop owners on st. george street were so damn greedy.