Thursday, October 14, 2004

What's the Matter with Florida?

A popular new book just out is called What's the Matter with Kansas? A sequel might substitute Florida for Kansas.

Eyes Wide Open volunteers have been having a difficult time securing public space in Florida for the memorial, raising questions about the state's commitment to freedom of speech.

Here is some history:

In Tallahassee at the end of September we received a verbal denial to be on the steps of the Old Capitol building. On October 6th, we received a letter denying the application because of space considerations. Volunteers measured the sidewalk and gave them the facts that indeed the space was sufficient. The next day on Oct 7th, we received a certified letter giving planting flowers as the reason for the denial. They offered an alternative space on top of an adjacent parking garage. That space is unacceptable because it is not readily accessible to the general population. Stay tuned for the outcome.

In Orlando, our volunteer has been working since early last summer to secure a location. She has been turned down several times. At the Art Center at Loch Haven she was told flat out the Art Center board would never give approval. She went before the Parks board to get funding for Lake Eola amphitheater which wanted $3600 for 2 days and they unanimously turned her down. The application for the courthouse was stalled on the 2nd tier and never went to the 6th tier let alone the top tier. The 6th tier said it could be taken as political and any one of the elected officials could reject the project. Turns out to be untrue. She was denied by one particular official for every venue under him. We have finally secured the county courthouse after intervention by a legal team.

In Jacksonville, everything was going fine with the public park space. The cost was $100 for three days. Then, just a few days ago the park district officials said, "Oh, didn't we mention, there will be a $1500 security cost."

This exhibition has been in the most heavily security-conscious locations for months: NYC for the Republican National & Boston for the Democratic convention; Independence Mall for July 4th; and upper Senate Park outside the capitol in Washington DC. None of those locations gave us the run around or charged us exorbitant security fees.

What the matter with Florida?

2 Comments:

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Ev said...

Well, they did finally secure 2 locations in Orlando, Florida. One day was at the Orlando courthouse steps(Sunday) and the second at UCF (Monday). I went to Sunday's exhibit and instantly knew why the City had suddenly caved and allowed the Exhibit. It was actually a dirty trick... they scheduled the Exhibit for the same day as a Puerto Rican Festival. The fesitival organizer blocked off the courthouse steps with a 6 ft chainlink fence with privacy fabric added so that no one attending the festival could see what was on the other side and you could not enter from that direction. The festival organizer stated on TV that he is against "this type of thing" , his festival is supposed to be about fun... they also charged admission to that event and I could understand that he would want to restrict access, but that wasn't his only reason because then he wouldn't have needed the privacy fabric. I can see that it was a very bad combination and whoever approved the permits had to know the 2 would not mix well. In any case, when my husband and I arrived we had a difficult time finding the exhibit, since entry now was only possible thru a back alley that was not well marked. When we finally made it to the Exhibit the speaker was reading the names of the dead, but was almost completely drowned out by the very loud festival music. I believe the band was purposely placed as close as possible to the exhibit. It was one of the most shameful things I have ever witnessed. Are we sure this is still a democracy?

On a good note, I understand things went very well at UCF on Monday and for that I am thankful.

 
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