Town Crier Committee Report . . . continued

June 17, 2015              

St Johns County Defies Constitution

Designated free-speech areas are a vile repugnant concept, for most Americans to accept. According to Tea Party sources, when the idea of free speech zones is discussed with the public at large, Americans are outraged at the concept. So the question is how does such a sign come to be displayed in St. Johns County Parks?              

Who’s responsible?

Telephone messages to Park Officials were left and they ignored them. When the Tea Party, made a formal request for a meeting with the current Chairperson of the St. Johns County Board of Commissioners, Rachel Bennett, the request was referred to the County’s attorney. In an interview with Mr. McCormack the Tea Party Chairman, Lance Thate, was told that the presence of the sign and the creation of a free speech zone is completely legal. Mr. Thate, sensing that he held the high ground on this issue, took on the County’s hired gun. [See sidebar below] Of course Mr. McCormack is not the issue; he was merely doing his job of representing the Country. Those responsible for the creation of the free-speech zone and the sign are at fault and they wish to remain anonymous. Thate revealed that he made a direct request to Mr. McCormack for a meeting with Chairperson Rachel Bennett. To date there has been no response to the request. Why would the staff, administrators and Rachel Bennett be reluctant to discuss this First Amendment issue? The Tea Party understands that many officials at every level of government have an agenda that is contrary to the “American Way of Life” and to liberty itself. What is Rachel Bennett’s agenda? Growing government and suppressing free speech, and thereby liberty, is not an American solution. The Tea Party reminds Ms. Bennett of her oath of office, which calls for her to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Failure to do so are grounds for removal from office.

The Law

The only reference to free speech in the Park Ordinance 2005-114 is as follows:
“It is the policy of the County to afford all citizens the opportunity to utilize County Parks and also to participate in free-speech activities within the park to the fullest extent permitted by law.”The governing law of free speech, according to Mr. Thate, St Augustine Tea Party Chairman, is the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. “Mr. McCormick’s defense of the County’s illegal behavior was to cite public safety. He made reference to a Supreme Court decision regarding parking lots and public safety. We were in among the public. If we were in danger so was everyone at the Park’s facility,” Mr. Thate said. Mr. McCormick’s second defense was that the County had the right to create special use areas. These areas, according to the ordnance, include events such as horse or pony riding Junior Olympics, bicycle riding camping activities, motorcycle riding, and any one or more of those activities otherwise prohibited under the ordinance. Free speech is not an event. Free speech occurs in events. Free speech is not subject to the whims of County administrators and Officials. On this issue, The Supreme Law of the Land is the Constitution of the United States.
Free Speech, Confined to the Toilet Area at Pier Park

The St. Augustine Tea Party revisited St. Augustine Beach Pier Park for the third time on June 17, 2015. “It’s not like Pier Park is the best forum for Tea Party activities. We have a much bigger exposure on St. George Street, but the idea of free speech being confined to a 20 foot strip in front of the toilets is too much of an insult to the ‘American Way of Life’,” a Tea Party volunteer explained.

Tea Party Refuses to be Confined to Free Speech Areas

The reason for the appearance at Pier Park was for the deliberate violation of the alleged free-speech zone. The Tea Party was well received by a majority of the people present with some saluting them, thumbs-up, and nods of approval. However, some of the merchants in the market believe that free speech is detrimental to their business activities. One man shouted, “What are you anti-capitalist?” “Without free-speech, there is no liberty, without liberty, capitalism fails. We’re big on the First Amendment, was the reply.” Some disgruntled merchants threatened to call the police. The Tea Party invited them to do so. To date, law enforcement has refused to enforce this alleged free-speech area. It seems that for the most part, the designated free-speech area is a farce enforced by bluff.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is the sign confuses people whose experience with the Constitution is limited. The most vulnerable are the young. Public education is almost devoid of constitutional rights. Children seeing free-speech signs in parks will accept free speech zones on university campuses without question. Campuses across the country are plagued with free speech areas. The St. Augustine Tea Party has discussed the issue with Commissioner Jeb Smith and Commissioner Bill McClure. Both find the idea of free speech areas unconstitutional. Jeb Smith has committed to bringing it before the full County Board of Commissioners. The Tea Party has provided a proposed addition to the Park ordinance, which would prevent petty bureaucrats from imposing tyranny upon the citizens they are sworn to serve.

June 16, 2015

Late Hour Vote on Sales Tax Defeats Wanchick Faction
On June 16, 2015 the St. Johns County Board of Commissioners voted 3 to 2, to reject the resolution to put the sales tax on the ballot in 2015. This occurred even though the Wanchick faction tried to muddy the waters, by bringing in the school board to share the spoils.

Bennett, “Ashamed of the Board”

When a proposal for the County to share sales tax revenue with the School Board failed, Chairperson Rachel Bennett declared, “I am ashamed of this Board.” To which people in the audience shouted, “We are ashamed of you!” Chairperson Bennett has, in the past, admonished public sentiment when opposition to Wanchick was expressed. Tonight, she demonstrated a lack of will to resist taxpayer support by applause and even jeers.

The St. Augustine Tea Party has been resisting Michael Wanchick’s insatiable desire to reward special interests and County employees at the expense of the St. Johns County taxpayers since 2011. For the past four years, it appeared that the function of the St. Johns County Board of Commissioners was to defend and rubberstamp County employees and staff’s demands for an ever-growing County government under the Marxist banner of “Quality of Life”. Mr. Wanchick’s control of the Commissioners was, at one time, total (5-0). During the heydays, County Commissioners restrained public comment; going as far as to eject opposition from town hall meetings for merely offering an opposing view. It should be noted that these First Amendment violations occurred at the hands of Republican Commissioners. The Tea Party’s opposition to former Commissioners, Ken Bryant and Ron Sanchez during the elections of 2012 and 2014, has broken Wanchick’s stranglehold on the County. “We hope that the dialogue will now move to cutting the budget rather than increasing revenue. However, we know the Leftists never stop their assault on ‘We the People’,” a Tea Party spokesman said.

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