Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Yesterday afternoon, seven Art In The Market artists sat in the city Hall meeting chambers squirming a little after hearing City Attorney Ron Brown and Commissioners refer to plaintiff artists ( Bates vs City of St Augustine) as "The Four Horsemen". This is Atty Browns clever way of describing prints, paintings, sculptures and photographs which are constitutionally protected materials. Painter Scott Raimondo pointed out to us that this is a subtle psychological dig since the Book of Revelation describes the four as Conquest , War, Famine, and Death. The artists do not feel that we are that much of a threat to humanity.
Brown went on and on, citing previous cases involving street vending in other cities. The implication that he made is that the cities win in their quest for stringent regulation. He is correct in that these cases involved merchandise vending but much upheld the protections afforded by the Constitution to artwork. Brown didn't mention that part, expecting the Commissioners to swallow his misleading tripe.
Time and again we have repeated what the courts say is protected (paintings, prints, sculpture and photographs) and they will then ask ,"What about a leather hand tooled belt? ,"What about a decorated candle?" Once again we repeat, ......prints, paintings sculpture and photographs are all constitutionally protected and affirmed in previous Federal court cases. We have no interest in a county decision by Judge Charles Tinlin deciding that framed fabric or Ritual masks are protected (and that's all he said folks) qualified as protected. We knew that all along.
Federal Judge Marcia Howard granted an injunction to stop arresting the so called "Four Horsemen" and this is what we go by. She stated that the ordinance was content neutral while City Atty Brown told the Commission that she stated that she claimed that it was not content neutral.
For those so inclined, read the court order here and then ask yourself "Why does the City of St. Augustine feels the need for a new ordinance when there is an existing one in place that they will not enforce, though it serves the purpose?" Mark Knight city Planning and Zoning Director told a St. George Street merchant, "We are just building our case". They must feel that with a new ordinance they can subvert the intent of Judge Howard's order. Be careful ,City of St. Augustine! The legal bills are mounting.
* No one in the City administration has bothered to get any artist's input into a new ordinance. Public discussion at the "workshop" was closed.
Posted by Karl at 5:19 PM