Thursday, December 25, 2014
Let's preserve and protect what we love in St. Augustine, Florida. Forever. Now.
Let's preserve and protect what we love here in St. Augustine.
Let's honor this magical place with a “St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore,” first proposed in 1939 (making for better, clearer, more succinct “branding” than sesquipedalianisms like “Guana-Tolomato-Matanazas-National-Estuarine-Research-Reserve,” “Anastasia State Park,” etc.)
Visitors love National Parks (“America's Best Idea”). Congress just enacted seven new national parks, expanded nine and directed studies of eight more possibilities. Where's ours? St. Augustine and St. Johns and Flagler Counties' natural beauty must be preserved and protected. It deserves more NPS stewardship, interpreting our 11,000 years of history and incomparable endangered vistas/nature.
Let's not wait for Congress – let us act now to preserve and protect St. Augustine's Historic Preservation (HP) Districts. Let's ban HP-unsuitable activities. Here are 10 activities to consider banning permanently from HP Districts:
Chain-restaurants and chain-stores.
Routine daytime eighteen-wheeler truck deliveries.
Saint Augustine wrote, “an unjust law is no law at all.” St. Augustine City Commissioners: please repeal/amend dysfunctional “unjust laws” that purport to criminalize singing, painting, acting, music or dancing. Several successive anti-artist, Nuremberg-style laws were ruled unconstitutional -- a blot on our escutcheon (loony laws probably rendered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court's June 26 Massachusetts abortion law picketing First Amendment case).
Barbaric, Obsolete, Negative, Anti-Busker Ordinances (BONABO) wasted millions of dollars oppressing artists. A few commercial landlords (campaign contributors) demanded police enforce their prejudices, rolling out the “Unwelcome Wagon” with hundreds of artist, musician and entertainer arrests, in our name. These “Jim Crow” style arrests injured reputations of our talented tourism workers and damaged our image – these were self-inflicted wounds, bringing shame upon our City, making St. George Street much less intriguing. Enough cruelty and barbarism.
Everyone misses buskers – let's welcome them, with rational, fair regulations developed with mutual respect and understanding. Diversity, healing ancient wounds and respecting human rights are vital 450th legacies.
We need a Living Wage ordinance, paying City employees, City contractor employees and City franchisee employees $15 per hour. As JFK said, "a rising tide lifts all boats." Some people don't even have a boat. Long commutes and ditch digger wages should not be the future of St. Augustine.
Let's encourage young people to live and work here, with fast internet connections, bicycle and pedestrian friendly streets and human rights protections that promote equality and human dignity.
Let's build on Gay-friendly pension and fair housing victories by enacting a fully inclusive Human Rights Ordinance, as we begin our 450th, proclaiming our hearts are open and welcome new businesses (unlike Jacksonville).
Let's rewrite all City policies and have City Commissioners approve them, starting with our outmoded employment policies, last revised before 2010, seemingly inspired by the spirit of Torquemada, Pedro Menendez and Sheriff Lawrence O. Davis.
Let's make equity and equality our watchwords, making our workplaces friendlier and kinder. There are no African-Americans employed by the City of St. Augustine Beach (which once segregated the ocean ) and no African-American firemen or policemen in the City of St. Augustine. Why?
Let's protect our quality of life and halt destruction of historic buildings and vistas, while solving our mobility problems with 1928-style trolleys (battery-powered), moving residents and tourists around in comfort.
There were nine languages spoken in St. Augustine within a few years of its founding by Europeans, Africans, Catholics, Jews, workers, soldiers and sailors. Diversity is our strength. Our Nation's Oldest City's best years are ahead of us. Let us dedicate ourselves to making this a more vibrant economy and a happier, greener place, a "shining city on a hill."
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084