Thursday, July 28, 2011

Florida Highway Patrol Used to Squash Free Speech at Redistricting Hearings

VIERA- Today I(we/Rick Scott Watch) was the third speaker at the State of Florida redistricting hearing held at the Brevard County Government Complex. We were each allotted 3 minutes. I was removed from the podium at about 1 minute 30 seconds.

"Public testimony, free and unrestricted" said Rep. Rich Workman. My representative in the Florida House. He did not rise to my defense when two Florida Highway Patrol Officers and a Brevard County Sheriff's Deputy escorted me away from the mic and to the back of the room. Not a whimper.

The words that seemed to give greatest offense to the powers were "junta" and "joke" Neither of these words were curse words. I did not raise them loudly. I didn't menace, threaten or otherwise harm anyone. 

Sen. Don Gaetz of Niceville who chairs the meeting, didn't like the words. That was obvious.

I knew something was up before the meeting started when a burley moustachioed fellow approached the row where I was sitting to hassle a woman who had the words "where are the maps?" on a little sheet of paper taped to her t-shirt.

He was going to ask her to remove this highly offensive sign. Indeed I found myself horrified by these brutal words and to think of the affrontery of a matronly grandmother figure, (all of five foot six, 90 pounds were she soaking wet) for wearing such a sign! In an obvious attempt to intimidate a six foot four man in a grey suit who surely weighed more than two hundred pounds. He looked into my eyes and thought better of it and "let" her keep her sign on. Nice grey eyed fellow the size of a silverback gorilla "let" the woman keep her little homemade sign.

When I got up, I started by asking the committee to raise their hands if they were republican. Three quarters of the 26 did. Less than a handful copped to being democrat. Then I pointed out the fact that by definition the committee wasn't "non-partisan" as I had looked the word up, and by composition it was obviously partisan.

I then said that I looked up another word while I was fooling with Google: Junta. A group who seize government. I said the republican party in control of our legislature meets the definition of it. I also said that at no time in history has a junta ever voluntarily given up power. And never, never have they written rules to make things fair for those outside the junta. The document that makes sure juntas don't happen, only one in history has ever so clearly been written, is the United States Constitution, from which springs the State of Florida Constitution.

I then made a point, or maybe slightly before this, that paid staffers out front told me the committee didn't have time to make a proposed map of the redistricting because the feds didn't give Florida the census data until "the last minute". "Blame the feds again, seems to be a common refrain with this group" said I. I noted that on the one hand the committee says it doesn't have demographic data, on the other, it makes the demographic data available on their own website. That the case, within ten years, there should be some sort of map to go off.

It's taken me all of five minutes to write this, I certainly wasn't going over my time of three to say it.

Now Sen. Gaetz of Niceville wanted me quiet. Mind you, this is MY county. This is MY government office. He's coming in and telling me he wants me to speed up, finish, and be quite and I am not even halfway there.

I remarked that if it's rules we should observe, there are video tapes of senators and representatives on Youtube voting for each other, two and three at a pop, up at the big house in Tallahassee: some of whom were sitting on that board, but I didn't want to point fingers or name names. So let's talk about the rules.

Continuing I remarked that there were three things relative to the redistricting hearings that spoke to bad faith: they were the time-line, the gag order, and the war chest.

The time line for the hearings, sans maps, leaves no time for the release of the information before 2012 for meaningful public comment. Confusion, of who is voting where, what the districts are and so forth. "making this hearing little more than a joke, and an expensive one at that," said I

By now the FHP folks and the deputy are surrounding me. They are standing between me and the panel, between me and the camera recording the meeting. Pointing toward the back of the room.

I managed to raise my voice and say that a Junta has taken over state government who, operating on behalf of the Koch brothers has set out to destroy public education. I also said Mike Haridopolos was given $858 per page to write a book that I can't read . I don't know why I added that last bit. There was Mike sitting there when I said it.

Much applause and some boos at this point.

I asked the officers if I had to leave the room they said no. I could remain if I remained quiet. 

I was permitted to remain inside my own county administration building, where all my tax money goes. Imagine a little tear in the corner of my eye here. And a smile, they said I could remain, if I stayed quiet.

I wasn't the only speaker who found fault with, what Space Coast Progressive Alliance, called "this farce." Their representative too was nearly sat down, or sat out. He gave a wonderful dissertation that dissected the whole group, the whole "process" that I wished I had written (as I was standing there with my cadre of officers).

I have to marvel though, at two FHP officers, and a sheriff's deputy spending all day at the Viera Government Complex waiting to escort those who don't say the right thing, precisely the right wa,y to the back of the room.

Is that a wise allocation of funds? I also have to say Sen. Gaetz is not a friend of either the Florida, nor the U.S. Constitution. Not at all. And I heard not a peep of protest out of the mouths of the allegedly democratic reps and senators in this group. I suppose if I had pulled my pants down below my hips and showed my underwear I would have rated more attention from Rep. Gary Siplin of Orlando. Not a peep.

Welcome to AmericaLITE; half the rights, twice the show of force as the real America, now with a minty dash of fascism thrown in, free of charge.

We've got problems folks. Democracy is on the way out, in Florida.

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