Scott Shine

I have received no response to my email.  What should I do now?
Listening to Aaron Bowman discuss the school board’s referendum at city council meetings on July 16, I am more worried than ever about his appointments to the Charter Revision Commission.

The city council designee needs to call out how the council members are voting when the vote is taken via a hand raise. They didn’t do that with the motion to defer the vote on Scott Shine. IF a vote was in violation of the sunshine law then it is deemed void.  That means the motion to defer the vote on Scott Shine is still open.  With that motion still open, then I assume the actual vote on Scott Shines’ appointment is also void.  Yes?

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Susan 
Subject: Sunshine Law Violation
To: <JGabriel@coj.net>

Office of the General Counsel Jason Gabriel,

The vote to defer the vote on 2019-353 was in violation of the sunshine law or so it appears to me.  The cure is to retake the vote.
According to an article I read about the Sunshine Law:
The manual says that because the Sunshine Law requires meetings to be open to the public at all times, the person who tallies the votes should announce the names of the board members who voted and their votes. … if a public meeting becomes “covert, secret or not wholly exposed to the view and hearing of the public,” then that part of the meeting is not “open to the public at all times” as required by the Sunshine Law.
Via a public records request, I asked for the names of the 8 of the 15 council members present who voted NOT to defer the vote on 2019-353. Cheryl Brown and Scott Wilson told me they didn’t know.  I was offered a video link but you can’t see who did or didn’t raise their hands in the video.  In other words, the raised or not raised hands were not visible in the video.

I watched the video at this link: http://jaxcityc.granicus.com/player/clip/724?view_id=1 . You can see the votes being counted by hand at around the 54 minute mark. You can hear CM Wilson say one of the council members changed their mind. But you can’t tell who raised their hands and who didn’t. The person who tallied the votes should have announced the names of the board members who voted and their votes. The cure is to take the vote again. 

On Jul 1, 2019, at 5:12 PM, Susan wrote:

Carla Miller,
I contacted Scott Wilson who was conducting the meeting that night.  He told me he didn’t know who voted to defer the vote on Scott Shine.  No one has told me who voted to defer.  You can’t tell from the video who voted to defer.  Someone on the staff counted the hands up BUT did not call out the names of the people that had their hands raised.  That seems in violation to the Sunshine Law.  In other words, you can’t tell from the video and no one called out the names of the people that were voting to defer. I think you need to correct the error by taking the vote again.  And if 8 out of the 15 people that were present want to defer the vote on Scott Shine, then you need to invalidate the confirmation of his appointment.  Yes (in case you’re wondering), I do find it troubling that people that wanted to defer the vote, then voted yes on his confirmation.  BUT how many people would have voted NO to the confirmation IF there was more time to investigate Scott Shine’s collection of his school board pay check while he missed so many school board meetings?

According to an article I read about the Sunshine Law:  Petersen said if a court ruled the Sunshine Law was violated by using anonymous ballots, the action taken as a result of that vote would be voided “as if it never happened.”  The cure is to have another vote.  The manual says that because the Sunshine Law requires meetings to be open to the public at all times, the person who tallies the votes should announce the names of the board members who voted and their votes. The Sunshine Law manual’s section on written ballots cites an attorney general’s opinion that if a public meeting becomes “covert, secret or not wholly exposed to the view and hearing of the public,” then that part of the meeting is not “open to the public at all times” as required by the Sunshine Law.

Visit to Jersey City and Manhattan

 


If you’re not in great shape, I suggest sitting down every hour or two.
You can sit in one of the many parks or a local cafe for a cup of tea or lunch or dinner.
The other thing I would suggest is to study the website of the museum you plan to visit and prioritize which floors and exhibits you want to see before you get there.

Here are some of the things we did in our week there.

Sunday
Arrive
Food shop at Shoprite
Visit the Liberty Harbor RV Park where Ken was staying
Walk to Breakfast at B18 Kitchen
Longingly look at the spa and make a mental note that I want to come back for a massage
Check-in to the AirBnB in Jersey City–great little studio apartment

Every morning we had coffee and granola in our little studio apartment before we headed out.  We did one major thing each day that we were there:

Monday: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Tuesday: Museum of Modern Art
Wednesday: bought the tickets via TKTS (the discounted place on the day of the show) Broadway-Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus at the Booth Theater
Thursday: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island–rode the ferry there
Friday: Guggenheim Museum
Saturday: Museum of Natural History and Hayden Planetarium and
Dark Universe and fly home

Other things we did but not sure which days
Rode the ferry to New York City
New York Public Library
Irish Hunger Memorial Park in Battery Park City
Rode the subway many times–cured of my subway phobia
Walk in Greenwich Village
Bleeker Street
Minetta Tavern
Bought a scarf
Grove Street Farmer’s Market
Grove Street Bizzar
Razza for dinner in Jersey city(JC)
Luna for dinner (JC)
Porta for dinner (JC)
Sole for dinner (NYC)
Shubert Alley
Junior’s for lunch
Lunch in the 4th floor Dining Room at The Metropolitan Museum
Carriage Ride from 59th to the Guggenheim mostly thru Central Park
10 minute back and shoulder massage in Central Park
Listen to the street musicians in Central Park
Cafe Overlooking Central Park in the Guggenheim
Walk in Theater District
Walk 14th street
14th Street Pizza (Susan–no one else wanted a pizza)
Walk Across Central Park from 5th and 89th to 72nd and Broadway: Police Station, Reservoir, squirrels, bird watchers
Walk from 42nd and 7th thru Times Square to 72nd and Broadway: Wollman Rink, chess and Checkers, artists, Carousel, Dairy, gift shop, Bethesda Fountain, Bow Bridge, Imagine Mosaic, where John Lennon walked the mall, the Dakota, Ken’s former place,
911 Memorial

THINGS WE DIDN’T GET TO DO:
Strand Bookstore
Walk across Brooklyn Bridge
China Town
Canal Street
Battery Park
off-Broadway
High Line
Whitney Museum
Frick museum
American Indian Museum
Art Galleries
Wall Street
Macy’s
Cloisters
Jazz club
Walk spiral at Guggenheim
Eat at Gray’s Papaya
Walk inside St. Patricks Cathedral
Go inside 911 museum
See all of the American Museum of Natural History
So much more!!

Letter to Aaron Bean about using our taxpayer money to bring guns into the classrooms

April 18, 2019

Senator Aaron Bean
405 Senate Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

Honorable Senator Bean,

Funding for school safety should not be limited to armed personnel.  The school district should have more flexibility in deciding how to use funds to secure their schools.  Please advocate for amending SB 7030 to allow the school districts to spend the money however they choose to reduce risks.

My understanding is that YOU want the school districts to have the option of letting teachers bring guns into their classrooms. Most school districts are going to choose NOT to let teachers carry guns while they are teaching.  Please amend SB 7030 to delete the language that implies that the appropriated funding must be used exclusively for weapons to be brought into the classroom.

Panic buttons or metal detectors might be a better use of the funds. Please let each school district
decide how to use the money.

guns in schools

Lines 234 to 238 of SB 7030 currently reads as follows:

The sheriff conducting the training pursuant to subparagraph 2. will be reimbursed for training-related costs and for providing a one-time stipend of $500 to each school guardian

Charter schools and private schools receiving voucher money should make do with whatever per student funding that the legislators have already allocated to them.  And it should not be more than 70% of what the neighborhood schools get.   Neighborhood schools act as hurricane shelters, adult schools, parks for the neighborhood, etc.  Plus my belief is that most parents want their kids to go to a school close to their home. Please make all the neighborhood schools GREAT before you subsidize the private schools with my taxpayer money.

What are our goals regarding immigration laws?

I would support these bills if I was a legislator:

* ​Develop prevention programs to eliminate bullying and human trafficking

* Establish a minimum wage so that a 40 hour work week will bring a person above the poverty level

* Require overtime pay for anyone working more than 40 hours per week

* Require that government shutdowns do NOT cause any non-elected government worker to miss a paycheck

* Develop the potential of  our working population.  Eliminate the guest worker visa that prevents workers from fully participating in the free market ability to change jobs.  More information at this LINK

Continue reading “What are our goals regarding immigration laws?”

Sometimes we decide that we’re going to speak out about the injustices

Reprinted with permission.
This is by Rabbi Merrill Shapiro

The story goes that three frogs were sitting on a lily pad when one decided to jump off to cool herself off in the refreshing waters in the pond. At that point, how many frogs were sitting on the lily pad?

This is a frequently told story by former Mayor of Palm Coast, Jon Netts. A long time educator in Bergen County, New Jersey, Netts would use this story to illustrate an important point.

So….what’s the answer?

Netts, with his charming smile and sparkling eyes would be happy to tell you.

The answer is three!! Were you fooled? Or, did you see where this was headed from the start?

Making a decision to do something just isn’t the same as getting it done! We all, at some time or another, make a decision to do something, but never quite follow through, never quite turn our decision into a reality.

Sometimes we decide that we’re going to speak out about the injustices sustained by non-Christians every time a Jacksonville City Council invocation includes the name of Jesus. But do we follow through? Do we jump into the cool, refreshing water or does a body at rest tend to stay at rest? Think about the non-Christian children who attend those meetings. Do they deserve to have their “leaders” let them know they are only second-class citizens because of their heartfelt beliefs?

Sometimes we decide that we need to weigh-in on laws that discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs. Certainly while you are reading this, our Muslim sisters and brothers would like to see us step up and do something. But, we too often find ourselves just sitting on the lily pad. The inertia in our bones and hearts allows an unconstitutional and downright un-American practice of not permitting Muslim immigrants access to our borders, to become rooted.

After all, the only thing evil needs to triumph is my silence and yours!

Let’s go ask the city council to be inclusive.

I know many wish government personnel would just quit doing prayers out loud at the podium at government meetings.  And maybe some prefer a moment of silence to start off a government meeting so that each person can silently pray in their own way right before the meeting.  BUT barring either one of those two options, it seems to me it might be nice if a group like One Jax would volunteer to co-ordinate invocation speakers. Don’t Republicans love outsourcing? Why not outsource the job of finding invocation speakers to a group who honors and embraces the value of inclusiveness? One Jax may not want to do it but maybe there is a group similar to One Jax who would agree to do it.

From One Jax website:

OneJax is an interfaith organization dedicated to achieving civility, understanding and respect for all through education, dialogue and community-building. Our vision is an inclusive community where difference is welcomed and celebrated.

Jacksonville is a very diverse community. The prior City Council Chaplains were able to find a wide variety of people to give the invocation.  Why won’t Doyle Carter?

Jacksonville city’s attorney seems to knows that what Carter is doing is wrong.  The attorney’s memo dated September 20, 2014 includes the words:

“The Court suggests that nondiscrimination is important ….. This should be taken as a warning that if a legislative body chooses to invite speakers, then it should be careful not to engage in discrimination.

For your convenience, here is the link to the memo:

http://www.coj.net/city-council/docs/misc/ogc-invocationopinion-2014-09-20.aspx

Do you think the invocation period could  be an opportunity for the city council to embrace inclusiveness? Why did Carter pick so many Baptists to give the invocation?

Here is the list of who Carter has chosen (but please note that these are not the people that ultimately spoke. See updated list on other blog post):

INVOCATIONS:
7/25: Pastor McGinley- Old Plank Baptist Church
8/8: Keith Russell- Westside Baptist Church
8/22: Adam Peterson- Rise Church
9/18: Pat Archuleta- Chaplin of Cecil Field POW/MIA and Jesus Loves Veterans Ministry
9/26: Mac Brunson- First Baptist Church of Jacksonville
10/10: Chaplain David Williams from JSO Jails Division
10/24: Dwayne Sumner- Normandy Baptist Church
11/14: Clarence Jarrell- JSO Chaplin
11/28: Bishop Guns- St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist Church
12/12: CM Carter
1/9: Jason Reed- Old Plank Baptist Church- Family Ministries
1/23: Bishop Edward Robinson- Southside Church of God in Christ
2/13: Brunson Clements- Whitehouse Baptist Church
2/27: David Hill- First Ministries
3/13: Ted Corley- Mission First Coast
3/27: Mark Griffin- Wayman Temple
4/10: Tom Messer- Trinity Baptist Church
4/24: Esther Wilder- Westside Family Worship Center- Women’s Ministry
5/8: Gary Wiggins- Evangel Temple
5/22: Fred Newbill: First Timothy Baptist
6/12: Father Tom Willis- Diocese of St. Augustine
6/26: Amy Slater- Sr. Associate St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
end of city council year

Corrections to the list that Carter Doyle gave me:
4/24: Esther Wilder- Westside Family Worship Center- Women’s Ministry  <==That’s the person that Doyle said would offer the invocation BUT Bishop Percy Golden – The Revival Center is listed on the coj website as the invocation speaker for April 24

5/8: Gary Wiggins- Evangel Temple <==That’s the person that Doyle said would offer the invocation BUT Jimmy Wilder – Westside Worship Center is listed on the coj website as the invocation speaker for May 8

5/22: Fred Newbill: First Timothy Baptist  <==That’s the person that Doyle said would offer the invocation BUT Amos Bankhead – Combined Gospel Church is listed on the coj website as the invocation speaker for May 22
6/12: Father Tom Willis- Diocese of St. Augustine<==That’s the person that Doyle said would offer the invocation BUT Dr. Winston Butler – Dinsmore Baptist Church is listed on the coj website as the invocation speaker for June 12 th.
6/26: Amy Slater- Sr. Associate St. Mary’s Episcopal Church<==That’s the person that Doyle said would offer the invocation BUT Rodney Kelly – West Jacksonville   Church is listed on the coj website as the invocation speaker for June 26th.

Provocative first line and Jeff Sessions by Rabbi Shapiro

This article is by Rabbi Shapiro

Of course secular people don’t have as good a claim to understanding the truth as a person who is religious!

Is that what Jeff Sessions thinks?  And if so, what will he do with that belief system as Attorney General?

As U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) was questioning U.S. Attorney General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions, during confirmation hearings, the New Englander was led to ask whether “secular” attorneys working in the federal government should have reason to worry.  Whitehouse asked Sessions if “secular” attorneys have “just as good a claim to understanding the truth as a person who is religious?”

In the purported belief system of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) all human beings are created in the image of God. Even human beings who don’t believe there is a God are created in the Divine image.  Certainly God has a pretty good claim on understanding the truth.  Thus, it should follow, that the humans, secular or religious, created in God’s Divine image, should also have a pretty good claim to understanding the truth.

So, Senator Sessions, do secular attorneys, secular people, have “just as good a claim to understanding the truth as a person who is religious?”

“Well, I’m not sure,” responded the Senator from Alabama.

Not sure???!!!  How can it be that being religious makes you more privy to the truth than being secular?

Recently, the researchers at the Pew Research Center asked 1,003 U.S. adults what characteristics make someone “truly American.” Seventy percent of the respondents felt that speaking English was very important were someone to be “truly American.”  Forty-five percent felt that sharing American customs and traditions was very important.  Thirty-two percent felt that “Being a Christian” was very important.  Another 19% felt that “Being a Christian” was “somewhat important” to being “truly American.”

Thus, lots and lots of Americans think our country has a “leg up” on accessing the truth.  Many Americans feel that “Being a Christian” gives one an advantage to accessing the truth.

Somehow, we need to begin to inform ourselves about our more narrow-minded friends and neighbors and then we need to try to understand our more narrow-minded friends and neighbors. We should be erecting bridges instead of building walls.  We need to help  these narrow-minded among us understand that there is another way to see things, a different way to know the truth.

As you see, we have a lot of work to do!

Merrill Shapiro

Holiday Displays in the Capitol building

The display by a Catholic organization was on the lobby floor near the entry way into the Capitol building. The First Coast Freethought Society display was on the fifth floor leading into the Senate chambers. In order to ensure there isn’t an appearance that the government is favoring one religion over another, all the displays should be together.   The Catholic display was put in a position to be seen by all visitors.  The First Coast Freethought Society’s display would only be seen by people visiting the 5th floor.  Why weren’t all the displays put together to demonstrate the plurality of Florida’s citizenry?

2016-banner-1-of-12016-banner-1-of-1-22016-banner-catholoic-banner-on-lobby-floor-with-words2016-banner-sayings-in-visitor-center-1-of-1-2

Do No Harm

do no harm act

You can find your rep at this LINK

You can find what the NAACP is saying about H.R 5272 at this LINK

You can find other statements of support at this LINK

“Freedom of religion is a fundamental right that protects all Americans, but this freedom does not include the right to restrict or control the behavior of others,” said Nicholas Little, Vice-President and General Counsel for the Center for Inquiry. “At its inception, CFI was one of very few voices cautioning that RFRA would permit religiously motivated discrimination, whether against religious minorities, the non-religious, women, or LGBTQ Americans. Sadly, we were right. But this fix [H.R. 5272] would help ensure that the law could no longer be used as a weapon to impose one person’s religious beliefs on other unwilling parties.”  That quote is from this LINK

Link to the bill

Earl responds to the “as interesting as a hamburger without meat” comment

Earl submitted an article to the Folio. See below.

He also wrote another article about this issue: https://wordsfromearl.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/activism-does-it-matter/

To help you with the history of this, here is my blog post from last year when Yarborough was Jacksonville city council president:
https://susaninflorida.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/invocations-before-city-council-meetings/

And at this blog is a list of who has given the invocation during Greg Anderson’s term as council president:
https://uniteusdonotdivideus.com/2015/09/10/the-rotation-scheme/

Since the Jacksonville city council has adopted the rotation scheme, I wish more people would apply to give the invocation. Jacksonville residents can do that by calling the representative from their district, one of the at-large city council members or the office of the city council president.

Forward from Earl:
This is the version I wrote for Folio asking them to please consider the following as a back page editorial:

I gave an invocation at the March 22nd Jacksonville City Council meeting. It was the first time a known atheist has given the invocation. It was a secular invocation free from any mention of a god or gods.

AG Gancarski (  http://folioweekly.com/THE-AWFUL-LEGACY,15008 ) said my invocation was about as interesting as a hamburger without any meat. But most people said it was thought-provoking, stimulating, and inspiring.
I knew what needed to be said when I first contemplated giving an invocation at a City Council meeting. I needed to write something simple and succinct that would resonate in the hearts and minds of anyone but a sociopath or a psychopath.

The City of Jacksonville is similar to much of the United States in many ways, but one way in particular. It is a city full of immigrants, descendants of immigrants, black and white, gay and straight, liberal and conservative, religious and non-religious, and everything else you can imagine. It is not a city made up of white and various shades of white, or Protestantism and various denominations of Protestantism. It is a city consisting of every flavor and essence of humanity, with as many worldviews as hamburger joints.

In my invocation I quoted a few lines of The New Colossus, a poem written by Emma Lazarus, which can be found on the Statue of Liberty. By putting Emma Lazarus’ poem on the pedestal at the base of the Statue of Liberty, our country invited anyone and everyone not only to come here and live among us, but come here and enjoy the freedoms guaranteed to all of us by our Constitution.

There is a subset of the population of this country who need to be constantly reminded that plurality is the rule, not the exception, and freedom and equal rights are not just for a majority of the population.

The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, more commonly expressed as the Bill of Rights, specifically address a laundry list of freedoms guaranteed to all citizens. The reason for creating the Bill of Rights was a no brainer for the framers of the Constitution. The majority should never infringe upon the rights of the minority.

We have examples of the tyranny of the majority playing out practically every week in this country. The Governor of the State of Georgia recently vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to refuse to hire potential employees, refuse to rent property, or refuse to provide education or charitable services based on religious beliefs. Oh and let’s not forget refusing to bake wedding cakes based on religious beliefs. The god of Christianity is very clear about wedding cakes for the LGBT folks: If you ain’t straight, no cake for you!

Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant recently signed into law the Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act, a law which allows businesses to refuse services to gay couples based on religious objections, which includes wedding cakes. This was a direct reaction to the Obergefell v Hodges Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. Simply and succinctly, the new Mississippi law is anti-LGBT legislation.

HB 2 is North Carolina’s version of the anti-LGBT legislation sweeping the country. Called Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, the new North Carolina law requires transgender people to use public restrooms according to the biological sex on their birth certificates. This was a reaction to a recently enacted LGBT protection law in Charlotte, North Carolina where city leaders addressed the need for better bathroom accommodations for transgender individuals. HB 2 was a wakeup call to progressive communities. Get in line, or we (the state) will strip you of any power you thought you possessed.

HB 2 bans local governments from passing any laws protecting gay and transgender people, the final nail in the coffin for Charlotte or any other city in North Carolina wanting to adopt LGBT protection laws. This ban on LGBT protection laws wiped out nearly two dozen local laws which include LGBT protection. HB 2 is causing a lot discussion on local and national news shows and backlash in the business sector about LGBT protection laws, but there’s more.

HB 2 included a sentence that slipped by a lot of folks. It reads: No person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed herein. In other words, you cannot sue in a state court if you feel you have been discriminated against. Without going into too much detail, this new law set back civil rights by more than a half century, especially worker’s rights and race discrimination. The day I submitted this piece for publication, the Governor of North Carolina was slicing and dicing his new anti-LGBT law in an effort to stop the pullout of major business interests from his state.

What North Carolina did in HB 2 was exactly the sort of stuff that I wanted to indirectly address in my invocation.

Pointing out the Emma Lazarus poem at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty was meant as a reminder that we as a nation cannot invite people to our country and then deny them the rights all other citizens are guaranteed.

Bringing up the fundamental reason James Madison had for writing the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — the idea that government must have a set of irreversible constitutional mandates in place to ensure the majority can never take away the rights of any minority — was the only way to point out that a religious belief should never usurp the rights guaranteed to us by our Constitution. That is why the First Amendment states emphatically that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Establishment is a noun, not a verb. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is saying Congress shall not favor religious establishments.

I didn’t want my invocation to sound like those given at previous meetings. Appealing to human intellect, empathy, cooperation and team work was a way to point out that if you need something accomplished, tap into the talent humanity possesses.

The City of Jacksonville is struggling to add LGBT protection to its Human Rights Ordinance. In my invocation, I wanted to promote respect for all people, not just white, straight, male, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, but most of all, I wanted to promote fairness and freedom. Those may be boring and dull concepts if you’re a fascist or selfish or don’t play well with others, but to most of us they are concepts near and dear to our hearts, and always on our minds.

I’ve heard the naysayer’s cake baking argument. A business should have the right to refuse service to anyone the business deems as an undesirable customer. No shoes, no shirt, no service. We all get that. But what happens when an establishment in the business of baking wedding cakes hangs a sign in the window that says no service to black people? Or Hispanics? Or Jews, Muslims, and women? You’d never get away with it. Why is a business prohibited from saying no service to blacks, but it is acceptable to say no service to LGBT’s?

I had a message embedded in my invocation. It was an appeal to the members of the Jacksonville City Council to do the right thing regarding LGBT rights: Let them eat cake.