Editorial: City should be quiet and so should UF
Michael Gold, Editor
HISTORIC CITY NEWS
|Booker T. Washington said:
There is a class of colored people who make a business
Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances because they do not want to lose their jobs.
There is a certain class of race-problem solvers
Certain employees, and occasionally members of boards and commissioners of the City of St Augustine, never seem to miss the opportunity to stick their nose where it doesn’t belong. I am writing today to remind everyone that the City doesn’t own, and therefore doesn’t control, everything within its city limits.
And specifically, regardless of what our jurisprudence-challenged city attorney may opine, with her proclivity to dance around the mulberry bush to avoid answering (correctly) simple “yes” or “no” questions, neither the City of St Augustine or the University of Florida or its Direct Support Organization, UF Historic St Augustine, Inc., own one damn piece of real property under their management.
Isabelle Lopez nearly started World War III over public use of Loring Park (the Government House west plaza) dragging UF Vice President emeritus, Ed Poppell, into a nasty argument over since-removed “No Trespassing” signs in her unquenchable thirst to deny the First Amendment rights of creative artists on public property. Allowed out of her office or to use a telephone, email, smoke signal, or other means of communication, she’ll probably do it again as the latest threat to our public park ripens. Enough with this overpaid pimple on the ass of progress.
At issue is the final resting place and burial site of Civil War Confederate Major General William Wing Loring. He was born December 4, 1818 in Wilmington, NC and began his military career in Florida at 14-years-old. While in Florida, he volunteered and fought in skirmishes with the Seminole Indians for the Florida Militia. He later engaged hostile Indians in New Mexico, serving in the Mexican War as a Captain of the Mounted Riflemen. In 1858 he served as Colonel of the US 11th Military Department; and, in 1859, he commanded the Department of New Mexico. In 1861, he joined the Confederate Army as a Brigadier General in the Army of Northern Virginia. In February 1862 Loring was promoted to Major General and he led a division for the entire war. In 1869 Loring was appointed General-in-Chief of the Egyptian Army of the Khedive; later he was decorated by the Khedive with the Imperial Order of the Osmariah. In 1879, he returned to the United States. Loring died on December 30, 1886 in New York, NY and is buried in Loring Park here in St Augustine.
Ronald Rawls Jr of Gainesville has spent the last several months publicly likening himself to the peaceful civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. all the while infusing a small group of non-peaceful, out-of-town dissidents, with hateful, divisive and race-baiting rhetoric — the very opposite of what Reverend King would have permitted.
Rawls has engaged such racial extremists as the New Black Panther Party, marching side by side with their leaders; chanting “black power” over the strings of Christmas carols, disturbing the peace in the Plaza de la Constitution during Light Up Night ceremonies.
Aided by professional protesters from Jacksonville, representing billionaire George-Soros-funded political resistance groups like Occupy, Indivisible, Black Lives Matter, Women’s March, Antifa, and a host of other alter egos for the same group of dissenters, Rawls has hoodwinked largely college-aged white women into joining him to disrupt the otherwise peaceful and law-abiding lives of local residents — both black and white.
On the heels of civil unrest in Charlottesville, Rawls has seized on an opportunity to raise his own political capital. He has made demands and issued ultimatums to city management and the members of the city commission for the removal of two confederate war era memorials — only one of which is on city property.
After lengthy public hearings, surveys, e-mail, social media polls, and an amazingly concerted effort on the part of the city to measure public opinion concerning the fate of the 1883 obelisk erected by the Ladies Memorial Association of St Augustine; the city manager recommended keeping the memorial and adding any appropriate contextualization to better tell the story of the city during that historic period.
Since the canvassing overwhelming supported retention of the +100-year-old memorial structure, in October 2017, the city commission voted unanimously to approve keeping the memorial in place. Unfortunately, Rawls didn’t get the result he demanded, so he chose to interpret the vote to mean the city manager and commission didn’t listen to minority voices.
Throughout this drama, and since the announcement that the city would take no action to remove the memorial, which is the property of the city, the University of Florida, who occupies the Government House, and specifically the DSO UF Historic St Augustine, Inc., have taken a “wait and see” posture before indicating what might happen to the Loring memorial.
Rawls and city officials keep referring to the “University” decision. Neither the University nor it’s direct support organization have a decision to make — simply put, they don’t own the Loring memorial.
The October 1, 2010 lease between the Florida Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund and UF Historic St Augustine, Inc. clearly sets out that the property belongs to the State of Florida. Further explanation in Chapter 267.1735 F.S. identifies the rights of the DSO to manage the properties and earn the rental income from the property as well as the obligation for the protection or preservation of the historic properties.
Nowhere in the lease does anyone grant anyone else the right to exchange, sell, or otherwise transfer any real property, such as the hundred-year-old Loring memorial.
If the University staff, UF Historic St Augustine staff, or anyone other than the Board of Trustees take any steps to remove the monument, it will violate the terms of the lease and Chapter 267.1735 F.S.
And, since General Loring’s remains are buried beneath the memorial, tampering with the grave marker or disturbing the gravesite constitutes a felony under Florida law. It is consecrated ground. They would be subject to immediate arrest.
In conclusion, please quit passing the buck and knock off all the sabre-rattling about who is going to remove the monuments. The City should be quiet and so should UF. Neither party has anything to say with the Loring Park memorial. And, neither confederate marker is going anywhere. Ronald Rawls, Jr. is simply attempting to become relevant by interjecting hate and fear where there was none. Absolutely none.