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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 →

The Tallahassee Two Step

11:42 am in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

One of the more noticeable successes of the Occupy movement is how the direct action teams are getting more people involved in the political process. Since the election of 2010, more civic action groups are arising and making their impact felt. The overwhelmingly Republican legislatures in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia and Florida have all been following the same path laid out by the Koch Brothers funded organization ALEC, and other similar groups, to not only weaken unions and organizations that traditionally support the Democratic Party, but also take the social safety net away from the most vulnerable people in our society.

The recent revelations about the deliberate decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure not to fund Planned Parenthood show just how widespread this infiltration is while good people have been asleep at the wheel. How did such a radical as Karen Handel gain such a powerful position without being called out by anyone in the liberal media? Well, it wasn’t by accident. The backlash caused by that decision will impact Komen for years and rightfully so. Direct action is about the only way average people have to combat the onslaught coming at them by insensitive, uncaring public officials who were put into office by insensitive uncaring voters. The Occupy movement, in conjunction with many grass roots groups, is starting to have its impact.

The word came late to the Progressive Center in Orlando from the Mortgage Justice Group that there would be an action in Tallahassee on Thursday, Feb. 16 to protest HB 213, the “Fair Foreclosure” bill. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Kathleen C. Passidomo (R. 76) and attempts to change the rules of foreclosure by putting the burden of proof on the defendant rather than the plaintiff, and by attempting to circumvent a hearing to determine the merits. Opponents of the bill saw clearly that it is unconstitutional and they are going to fight it tooth and nail. One of the big problems with these mortgages is that they were improperly handled from the beginning and that many of the actions taken are clearly illegal. Since the lawmakers are in the hands of the banks, they are attempting to shut down any means of legal defense. With lightning speed the trips were arranged from Miami, Orlando and Tampa. The word really got out because the committee chair pulled the bill from Thursday’s hearing Wednesday afternoon. That didn’t stop the intrepid protesters. It was a perfect opportunity to expose the bill to the press, and a perfect opportunity to confront their legislators. Read the rest of this entry →

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 →

Diverse Groups Occupy Orlando

2:06 pm in Uncategorized by Jerry Waxman

l saw the seaman standing
Idly by the shore
l heard the bosses saying
Got no work for you no more

But the banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the vaults are stuffed with silver
That the seaman sweated for

A Song by Les Rice ©Stormking Music 1950

The song made popular by Pete Seeger sixty years ago is still relevant with one important added detail. It’s not just the seamen and farmers anymore. Most people today don’t remember the economic period of adjustment immediately following World War II, even though it ushered in the greatest period of American growth and prosperity in the history of the world. All but forgotten were the returning servicemen who had difficulty getting back to work until the government decided to do something about it. If one had special skills like Ted Williams or Clark Gable or Jimmy Stewart the transition was easy; for others it was a frustrating time. A shining example of this was the movie “The Best Years of Our Lives.” Frederick March’s character had been a banker, was immediately promoted and  promptly welcomed back into the fold, while the character played by Dana Andrews, an Air Corps commissioned officer, couldn’t even hold down the most menial of jobs. Swift government action in the Truman Administration resulted in the GI Bill as well as The Marshall Plan helped immensely. American industries eventually went back to making consumer products and the construction industry started building suburbia. Once America decided to concentrate on economic recovery the results came rather quickly.

The economic engine that powered the country during those days was created by the New Deal. Legislation coming out of Congress included the landmark Glass-Steagall Act, which limited the power of banks to deal in questionable securities. The reforms of the New Deal enabled the country to prosper and grow through the Carter Administration. Once Ronald Reagan was inaugurated it marked the beginning of the end for most of the New Deal’s reforms. It has been a slow and steady degeneration that most people were oblivious to while it was happening, but after thirty years the differences are glaring. Anyone under the age of forty has no understanding of how well the country worked prior to the Reagan Administration and they never will under our current public school policies. Read the rest of this entry →