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Occupy Orlando-You Can’t Make This Stuff Up….. Or CAN You?

3:57 pm in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

Who does the ATM blame? (photo: colin_n, flickr)

Who does the ATM blame? (photo: colin_n, flickr)

Interesting stuff blowing in the wind recently. It’s called the baseless blame game. In Oakland the police have conveniently tried to blame Occupy Oakland for a tragic murder in Berkeley using the excuse that their resources were tied up handling peaceful protesters and they could not respond to the 911 call.

Here in Orlando there was some vandalism done to a couple of ATM machines in Ocoee by a single person who was caught on camera. WKMG, Channel 6 filed a story at one of the banks involved and the gist of the story is that the Ocoee police speculate that it could be someone affiliated with a group like Occupy Orlando. The investigating officer was not identified and the police department offered no opinion on the matter but that didn’t matter to channel six.

Neither the on air reporter nor the anchors offered any explanation as to why the speculation was centered on the occupy movement, nor offered any reason why it should be. It’s just a ploy to get your attention focused on a group that does not advocate violence in any form by suggesting that they use violence without any proof whatsoever. This was the kind of ploy that Captain Jeffrey MacDonald used in 1969 on the heels of the brutal Manson Family murders of Sharon Tate and Abigail Folger when he was accused and eventually convicted of murdering his family.

In those days, forty years ago the country was trapped in the paranoia and fear of “others who do not act or think like us.” Even though it was a few years later, the Patty Hearst affair was part of that period.

Occupy Orlando’s media team was quick to respond to the baseless allegations. Here’s a copy of their press release:

Ocoee Police Dept smears Occupy Orlando with baseless accusations of ATM vandalism

WKMG Channel 6 News reporter Eric Von Anchen says “police believe” Occupy Orlando is responsible for attacks

February 22, 2012 – ORLANDO, FL – Occupy Orlando was surprised to learn that the Ocoee Police Department is publicly accusing Occupy Orlando of vandalism on two ATM machines located at Bank of America and SunTrust branches in Ocoee. In the television report on WKMG Local 6 news, anchor Lauren Rowe reports that “investigators are trying to figure out what triggered a man to attack,” several ATMs. Read the rest of this entry →

New Kidz on the Block

3:38 pm in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

If you’re thinking that the occupy movements are fading away you might want to consider thinking twice. While the larger cities have been foolishly wasting whatever political capital and credibility they still have on trying to obliterate the camps, other camps in smaller cities and towns. It is true that many of these occupy sites have lost some population there is a hard core of idealists that refuse to let it go away. If you think that that the occupations haven’t had an impact, then you are wrong again. In Orlando city, county and school board officials have felt the impact of ordinary people watching them and keeping tabs. The conversations have changed. When something new or radical challenges the establishment the first reaction is to quell the opposition. Cities will use force, which will only give them a temporary advantage. The occupy movements are learning every day how to adapt to the conditions.

Saul Alinsky has risen, like Lazarus, from the grave.

Recently Newt Gingrich has invoked the name of Saul Alinsky as something evil. Alinsky was the organizing genius, through his Industrial Areas Foundation, that got communities and unions throughout the country organized into positive action to improve their lot in life throughout the thirties, forties and fifties. He also spent considerable time in jail, which only helped the causes he worked for become more resolute. It was never a deterrent. In the sixties he read the signs correctly and noted that the middle class was to be the next target of the establishment. All throughout his career Alinsky never joined any of the organizations that he worked with and never entered into an action without being invited by the oppressed group. He never imposed himself or his organization on them. Interestingly, his initial funding came from a member of the Pritzker dynasty. I could include links here but that makes your job too easy. Take the time and read about Alinsky, especially his 1968 Playboy interview. It’s no wonder that Gingrich demonizes him. He’s scared to death of what would have happened if Alinsky had lived to organize the middle class.

Dick Armey thought enough of Alinsky that he made “Rules for Radicals,” Alinsky’s 1968 best seller required reading for his Astroturf Tea Party organization. Some of the tactics worked for a short while, but as in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” once the wrong hands get hold of the information it backfires on them. That’s because Alinsky’s strategies are designed for community action that is positive in nature, not destructive. Recent repressive and oppressive laws, either proposed or passed by Republican controlled state legislatures and Governors, is meeting severe resistance from all kinds of community groups. Wisconsin and Ohio are good examples. Wisconsin voters will likely recall Governor Scott Walker and a few more legislators and the voters of Ohio overturned a recent anti-collective bargaining law. Community outrage had its effect on the Florida Senate’s 19-21 recent defeat of the Prison Privatization bill, despite Governor Rick Scott’s support.

Hope springs eternal

Occupy members have been active in Tallahassee since the beginning of the legislative period, along with members of the AFL-CIO, Organize Now, and a host of other community groups, so it is no coincidence that new groups are starting to spring up. The press release arrived on Feb. 9 that The Hope Church will host the “Occupy Our Community” Panel Symposium on Friday, February 24, 2012, 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m., at 3032 Monte Carlo Trail, Orlando, Florida 32805. The event is supposed to raise awareness of growth challenges in the neighborhood of Washington Shores, while addressing potential solutions for shaping a community that can deliver greater economic vitality. Washington Shores is a west Orlando neighborhood established by a civic group more than 65 years ago.

“Citizens of the Washington Shores community rank among the highest in Orlando in joblessness, and experience significant economic, health and educational disparities,” states Bishop Allen T.D. Wiggins, Senior Pastor, at The Hope Church. “Given this, I’m pleased to know that our “Occupy Our Community” forums will stimulate much needed conversation with key stakeholders about what is required to implement a paradigm shift in this economically disadvantaged area,” he adds.  Scheduled panelists include: Allie L. Braswell, Jr., President, Central Florida Urban League; Dr. Robert M. Spooney, President, African-American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida; David Rucker, President, Greater Washington Shores Area Association; Clinton Salter, Community Resident; Tezlyn Figaro, Founder/CEO, The Allied Group; Virginia Whittington, Metroplan Orlando; Dr. Larry Mills, Senior Pastor, Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church; and Derrick McRae, Senior Pastor, The Experience Christian Center. The program will be moderated by Don Miller, radio host, the Big 810 AM; Frank Mitchell, Business Strategist; and Pastor Sharon Riley.  This is an admirable position for the community to take. One can hope that these discussions will lead to positive action.

Lights, Camera Action!

The demise of ACORN stopped the organization from further being effective. It did not stop the people who worked for ACORN from being civic activists. Many of them are working with other organizing groups. Former ACORN activists started the “Pink Slip Rick” movement in Florida which continues to grow. About three weeks ago a new group giving itself the working title Orlando Unity formed and started to meet. This is a loosely based assembly of occupiers, union members, organizers and activists who regard action over words. While forming ideas is important the implementation of effective action is just as important. This is a group of people who are actually doers. The meeting was to take place Sunday at a union hall in College Park, however, the hall was being used, due to a scheduling snafu, by a group of Elvis impersonators. Coming on the heels of Whitney Houston’s death (more on that in a future column) on Saturday it seemed eerie.

“Smoking, drinking, never thinking of tomorrow, nonchalant.

Diamonds shining, dancing dining with some man in a restaurant……”

The first action will be coming shortly as it was learned that the Florida Senate had just whizzed SB 7210 through committee and would bring it on the floor on Thursday, Feb. 16. The bill specifically cuts the minimum wage for tipped restaurant employees from $4.65 per hour down to the federal Restaurant worker’s wage of $2.13 per hour. The battle for higher Florida server wages was fought in a 2005 constitutional amendment and the conservatives have never forgotten it. The Florida Lodging and Restaurant Association, as well as Darden Restaurants, who operate Red Lobster, The Olive Garden, Longhorn, The Capital Grille and Bahama Breeze and OSI Partners, who operate Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s and others are solidly behind this bill, which most likely was written by lobbyists from the Florida Lodging and Restaurant Association. The effect of the bill is to cut $100.00 per week from the earnings of a typical server in these and other restaurants. Since the Association says the two large chains are already having good years, and they predict record profits for the next year this only confirms that they want to guarantee their profits on the backs of their employees. Actions are being planned right now to address this by Orlando Unity and other allied groups, plus there will be a delegation from Miami in Tallahassee to address this with legislators. The politicians in Tallahassee are also going to try to push through a speedup foreclosure bill which will take away people’s rights to go to court over their foreclosure action. Expect lots of community actions and fireworks over this political hot potato, which will be the subject of my next column, unless I feel inspired to write about Whitney Houston and right now I’m fighting the urge successfully.

Introducing the 1948 Studebaker*

Discretion got the better of me after the Florida Democratic Party State Convention held at Disney’s Contemporary Resort back at the end of October so I didn’t write anything about it rather than say anything negative. Let’s just say that the highlight of the convention was Friday night when Debbie Wasserman Schultz and VP Joe Biden took the floor at a closed big dollar a plate dinner. The rest of the convention could have been phoned in without actually being there and I could have taken advantage of  any of Disney’s great golf courses. Sure, the Saturday night parties were great but I didn’t have to spend the money to attend the convention for that. My point is that being at the Contemporary was an absolute disaster for people who weren’t staying there and the only thing accomplished was that they would re-elect the President. Short sighted move if you ask me. The fact that the party did not schedule a primary had an adverse affect on this state.

The comparison to the 1948 Studebaker comes from an observation I made when my father bought one and drove it home for the first time. Like many others I said “Gee, which way is it going?” It really did have great styling and was far ahead of the Big Three for a few years. Unfortunately, Studebaker rested on its laurels for too long and had to merge with the more conservative Packard  Motor Co (Are you catching my drift here?). That merger didn’t last too long and by the mid sixties it was all over. My question is “Gee, which way is the Florida Democratic Party going?” By blindly cutting off any and all discussion of finding a primary opponent the party insured a win for tax cutting legislation in Orange County and probably several other counties and cities in the state. Without a primary there is no measuring of grass roots support for any policies or positions that any candidate may take. Without a primary Democrats just didn’t go to the polls. We really don’t need to fight voter suppression laws as long as we have disengaged and disinterested Democrats and that is squarely in the lap of the state party. The party needs to find out which direction it is going and should at least trade up to a 1962 Avanti, preferably made in this country, not Canada.

* The car pictured here is most likely a 1950 model. The 1948 grille was flatter and looked more like a Chrysler Corp front. The 1950 Bullet (or T-33 Jet) nose just looks better and it is more modern.

President Obama at Disney World

8:04 am in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

Occupy Orlando-Give Us This Day

12:19 pm in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

I don’t want French fried potatoes, red ripe tomatoes, I’m never satisfied….

Okay, so it’s not Pre-Prohibition Delmonico’s, nor is it Maxim’s of Paris. It’s not even close to Horn and Hardart’s Automat. For that matter you get more choice at any fast food burger joint.

What you don’t get from these other establishments is the love, caring and selfless dedication that goes into presenting and preparing every morsel that appears on the food tables at Occupy Orlando, and every other occupation site. The al fresco dining arrangements are not quite as elegant as those, say on Las Olas Boulevard or Park Avenue or the Rue de la Paix but nobody seems to be complaining.

Christmas dinner consisted of roast turkey, honey baked style ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, string beans, Brussels sprouts, selections of pasta and salad. Desserts were pumpkin and apple pies, cupcakes, cookies and a fabulous gingerbread layout of the original occupation site at Senator Beth Johnson Park. Read the rest of this entry →

Occupy Orlando-The One Per Cent Solution (or There’s No Business Like Show Business)

8:03 pm in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman


“All the world’s a stage”

Composers Duke Ellington and Richard Strauss are both attributed to have said (each in their own way) that there are only two kinds of music: good music and bad music. The same could be said of any artistic expression including theatre. Some very bad Theatre of the Absurd occurred at the Orange County Commission swearing in ceremony on Monday, Dec. 19 at 1:00 PM, and some very good Theatre of the Absurd occurred at the Orange County Courthouse at roughly the same time. One of the things that Occupy Orlando must deal with is scheduling priorities in order to have maximum media coverage for effect.


“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark Florida”

Some theatrical productions are done on the cheap, yet can be very effective in conveying the intent of the playwright. Other productions can be overblown and overproduced with bad direction and even worse acting. “The Swearing in Ceremony” as we’ll call it is bad theatre at its supreme worst. Six months in preproduction the Orange County Commission (the producer) was mandated to come up with a redistricting plan as a result of the 2010 Census.

Redistricting is mandated in all 50 states at all levels of elected government, from congressional elections on down to city districts. Incumbents use this as an effective tool to choose their voters rather than the other way around using logical geographical boundaries. Numerous meetings were held to redraw the boundaries and numerous plans were drawn to be decided on. Hearings were held and public input was invited, not out of the goodness of their hearts mind you, but because a very sensible law says that they must hold public hearings.

Every civic group including the bi-partisan County Watch was for a sensible redistricting plan. While all the county districts had boundaries in play the battle heating up was on district three. The elected commissioner from District Three which had a huge influx of Hispanic residents since the 2000 Census had been Mildred Fernandez who got caught in a corruption scandal and was replaced by then Governor Charlie Crist with Luigi Damiani, a non Hispanic who had narrowly lost to Fernandez. Damiani was an independent and as such would not necessarily vote the way former Mayor Rich Crotty or current Mayor Teresa Jacobs would like but he had a stake in lessening the Latin impact in his district so that he could run for the seat.

The commission didn’t want another ethnic minority district either. After all, that could also be a threat to their power. The final plan that the commission approved on November 29 came literally from left field. No one had seen it before, or if they had they masked it very well, yet from out of nowhere the plan came forth and was approved. The plan reduced the impact of the proposed Hispanic district and other minority areas. Once that was accomplished it was time for Damiani to exit stage left. Read the rest of this entry →

Occupy Orlando-Wild Weekend!

3:37 pm in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

(Photo: OccupyOrlando, flickr)

(Photo: OccupyOrlando, flickr)

Give me an old trombone.
Give me an old baton,
before the parade passes by! ©

Before the parade passes by.  By Jerry Herman


Everyone loves a parade, and everyone loves an excuse to either watch, or be in one, or both. The weekend starting with Veterans Day provided ample opportunity for all to participate. Occupy Orlando is now holding its General Assembly at Orlando City Hall on Friday evenings at 7:00 PM. This is a prime opportunity to march from Senator Beth Johnson Park chanting, attracting attention and giving life to the old ghost of a downtown. On Veterans Day this was the only parade going on. Once at City Hall the GA took over.  It was long; there were also individual speeches that added to the length of time spent occupying City Hall. What actually gets discussed at GAs is posted on the web page along with the now added calendar of events, articles, information and donation button through WePay.

Veterans Day actually started out life as Armistice Day. After World War I the nations involved in the conflict chose November 11 as a day to remember their war dead and they declared it a national holiday, as did the United States. This was a day that we shared with the rest of the world and it was not a celebratory holiday. Armistice Day served us very well until 1953, when, at the height of the Red Scare and a “Commie under every bed” era (actually, as I’m writing this article, I’m watching the “The John Garfield Story” on TCM) some people in Kansas decided to withdraw from the rest of the world and expand the holiday to include all US veterans of all wars. This was serious stuff. The merchants actually closed their doors and the kids didn’t go to school. It was a solemn occasion. The movement gained popularity and congress passed the bill. President Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954. In 1971 the holiday was moved to the fourth Monday in October in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Law Act. Nobody much cared for the October date and in 1978 it was moved back to the original November 11. Read the rest of this entry →

Occupy Orlando-Growing Pains

12:41 pm in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

Orlando Occupiers at City Hall (Photo: occupyorlando, flickr)

Orlando Occupiers at City Hall (Photo: occupyorlando, flickr)

*Author’s Preface- I feel a little like Commander Minoru Genda, the Japanese architect of the air strike on Pearl Harbor. Genda was taken ill prior to the Battle of Midway and did not resume his duties until the conflict was about to begin. In his apology to Admiral Yamamoto he said “Please forgive me sir, I’ve been away from my duties for too long.” I feel the same way, that I’ve not been able to chronicle the events at Occupy Orlando on a day to day basis. Life gets in the way of even the best intentions. Business obligations, too full a schedule, family obligations, South Florida speaking engagements, loss of whatever muse inspires me, the State Democratic Convention (they’re lucky I haven’t reported on that fiasco yet) and sleep deprivation all have a part in it so please forgive me for not keeping you better informed. I shall try harder in the future.

As Day 26 wends its way into the history books it’s a good time to reflect on the progress that has been made, as well as the obstacles that have been presented.  There have been two major marches on City Hall since October 15, both with over 1500 participants. Whatever local mainstream media coverage (and it is not much) there has been has been split between supportive and derogatory; actually it leans slightly more towards supportive. There are marches and actions all over the downtown area every day so that a headcount is virtually impossible at almost any time.

On November 3 Awake the State officially joined the Occupation. Occupy Orlando joined with Working America, Jobs with Justice and other union organizations on November 4 demonstrating in front of US Sen. Marco Rubio’s Office for quick jobs action and handed in mock job applications.  One of Rubio’s office staff, Byron Reid, to his credit took the time to accept the applications and address everyone who was there. People from occupy movements all over the northeast are now snow birding at Senator Beth Johnson Park. Occupation members began sitting in on official events such as the Legislative Update that was held here, Mayor Dyer’s shameless fundraising fiasco on the State of the Downtown (for which there was a $45.00 admission charge, City Hall chambers during commission meetings, and School Board redistricting and financial meetings. The faces of the officials showed real apprehension in some instances. If there were a thought balloon over their heads it would read “Goddamn Sunshine Law! How dare these ragamuffins take advantage of it!” Read the rest of this entry →

Occupy Orlando Day 7 & 8 “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free”

2:20 am in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

Occupy Orlando (Photo: Rich Johnson, flickr)

Occupy Orlando (Photo: Rich Johnson, flickr)

Wildcat Kelley, looking mighty pale
Was standing by the Sheriff’s side
And when the Sheriff said, “I’m sending you to jail
Wildcat raised his head and cried

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don’t fence me in

Don’t Fence Me In©

By Cole Porter

Friday, day seven of Occupy Orlando was for the most part uneventful. The lack of a dedicated power source was overcome by both a generator and a series of car storage batteries hooked into power inverters so that computers could run. The Food Team kept getting donations and more supplies. The Materials team was always asking for more filing and storage capacity. The Media Team was reviewing its operating procedures. Everything was neat and orderly. A man identifying himself as Byron Sutton claimed that he was one of the owners of the property across the street and as long as the occupation kept the area as neat and clean as they possibly could he would not object. Sutton expounded how he was involved in regional economic development and was trying to keep Workforce Florida on the right track.

Lamenting that even with Florida’s high unemployment, Workforce Florida did not have enough willing and qualified workers to handle the coming boom in business due to the impending Panama Canal “Trade Deal” that will come in two years for which Orlando will be a major beneficiary. Sutton’s appearance is contradictory to information furnished by the police regarding the property. They claimed that the ownership of the property was not known and that it was in foreclosure. Sutton offered no business card exchange with anyone, nor did he offer contact information. With all of the cameras and video equipment on site no one took any photographs. The occupiers felt relieved that there would be no potential problems, at least not immediately. Read the rest of this entry →

Occupy Orlando Days 5 & 6 “Take it off-Take it all off!”

10:14 pm in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

Occupy Orlando General Assembly, October 19th (Photo: OccupyOrlando, flickr)

Occupy Orlando General Assembly, October 19th (Photo: OccupyOrlando, flickr)

By Jerry Waxman

Something is rotten in the City of Orlando; the fish is rotting from the head down—all is not well at the top of the political hierarchy. With apologies to William Shakespeare  Hamlet Act I Scene 4

At some point on Wednesday the Police informed the occupiers that the tarps would have to be taken down. Up until that point they hadn’t bothered before but all of a sudden there was a change in attitude. Legal advisers warned them what the consequences are if they defy the orders. Senator Beth Johnson Park is a city owned park and the city has rules, regulations and ordinances that everyone, not just the occupiers, must comply with. One of the code provisions is that there can be no temporary structures erected on the premises, nor can any holes be dug, nor anything that could deface public property. If the code is violated the police could possibly trespass anyone or everyone in the park, which would force the occupiers to find another property. What the police can or will do may not be legal and could be thrown out of court, but that would take a long time. The Orlando Police have a history of violating the law as witnessed in the Food Not Bombs controversy, so they would have no qualms about arresting people without adequate cause. No consensus was reached Wednesday. The secret power source mysteriously turned itself off so the media team was forced to move across the street to a vacant lot and work from a generator and car batteries with power inverters. They still managed to livestream broadcast and get the word out. Here’s a link to the livestream broadcast.

Something happened overnight. Read the rest of this entry →

Occupy Orlando….Day Three

1:11 pm in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

Day 2 according all reports went rather smoothly. There were a lot less people and that was to be expected. Day 3 brought some added people throughout the day and some changes started to take place. The police were considering where people could camp out although no decisions were made to allow occupation after 11:00 PM. There was a food station set up, a medical station and a media station under a tarpaulin makeshift tent. When I arrived at 6:15 PM there were well over a hundred people there. Using the New York tradition there was a call for “Mike Check” to which the crowd responded “Mike Check”. This is the way announcements are made. This announcement was that dinner was being served.

Read the rest of this entry →