Originally posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2014It appears the United States Constitution is dead in Pensacola, Florida. Pensacola Officials have taken actions against me and my husband which have caused us great harm and which are forbidden by the Constitution. Government officials, all the way up to the President, to whom we have reported the violation of and contempt for our Constitution, have refused to correct this matter.
As we all know, the United States Constitution, created in 1787, is a written document executed by representatives of the people of the United States as the absolute rule of action and decision for all branches and officers of the government, and with which all subsequent laws and ordinances must be in accordance unless the Constitution has been changed by a constitutional amendment by the authority that created it. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.
The Fifth Amendment (the due process clause) states that the government may not deprive citizens of “life, liberty, or property” without due process of law. The guarantee of due process for all citizens requires the government to respect all rights, guarantees, and protections afforded by the Constitution and all applicable statutes before the government can deprive a person of life, liberty, or property. Again, the Constitution clearly states that due process must be part of any proceeding that denies a citizen “life, liberty or property.” This protection helps to ensure justice.
The government has to follow rules and established procedures in everything it does that affects a person’s life, liberty or property. If Pensacola City Officials, for example, decided to close an individual’s properly authorized business, which was operating strictly as authorized, by sending a Pensacola Police Officer to the business to close it down without following due process - specifically the official rules previously set up and published in the Pensacola Code of City Ordinances - to close a properly authorized business, such an action would be illegal, unethical, and most importantly un-American.
The official Pensacola City Ordinance process on closing an authorized business included a verbal warning, a written notification, including specific evidence that the owners were in violation of Pensacola City Codes. A hearing is required where the owners can show they are not in violation of regulations if they are not. If the government finds the owners are in violation, a punishment is proscribed (subject to appeal) appropriate to the violation until the violation is corrected.
There is no exemption for Pensacola City Officials from Constitutional requirements yet the Pensacola City Officials illegally and deliberately violated the due process required by the Constitution and the process laid out in Pensacola City Ordinances. Pensacola City Officials skipped to the punishment stage - the sentence: the complete closing of our authorized business. Pensacola City Officials used bullying, and intimidation by using a Pensacola Police Officer to close down our legally authorized business instead of going through the Constitutionally-required due process procedure to deprive us of the use of our business property. Pensacola City Officials stopped the income from our legally authorized business immediately.
One minute we owned and operated an authorized, peaceful business and the next, our business was completely closed down by the Pensacola Police Department without due process to take the authorized use of our property away from us.
In 1998, my husband and I bought an art gallery/antique shop, which held functions, which had been in operation, with no complaints, for approximately 20 years, at the same location in an historic building (built in 1883). After we restored the historic building (we won best restored house in 2000), Pensacola Department Heads (May, 2000) and the Pensacola City Council officially authorized us to operate as before on January 11, 2001. The documentation is available on-line at the city website, ci.pensacola.fl.us. We received many compliments for the way we maintained the property and grounds.
We had operated, peacefully, for almost 5 years when Pensacola City Officials sent a Pensacola Police Officer, in violation of due process, to our properly authorized business at 7:00 P.M. on March 19, 2005, Saturday, during a wedding, to close the business down since, as the Police Officer quoted we were “not authorized to have functions.”
City Officials issued no prior verbal notification of a violation, no written notification, including specific evidence, of any violation, and no hearing where we could show that we were not in violation since we had been officially authorized to hold functions by Department Heads, by the City Manager, Mr. Bonfield, and by unanimous approval of the Pensacola City Council in January, 2001.
The next day, we called the Pensacola Police Department’s desk sergeant (on Sunday, March 20, 2005) and stated that we were authorized to hold functions but that a Police Officer had closed our business down without due process. The desk sergeant said that if we held functions, a Police Officer would be dispatched and we would be charged with committing a crime.
On Monday, we contacted the Department Head of Neighborhood Services and the City Manager (Mr. Bonfield, who had recommended approval of our business in January, 2001) and reported the violation of due process required by the Constitution and reminded both that we had been officially authorized to operate our business as we were doing. Both said that we were closed down and that was that.
We contacted each member of the Pensacola City Council and reported the illegal closing. Five of the ten members had been on the City Council in 2001 when all members had voted for approval. All City Council Members refused to lift the illegal sentence placed on us without due process, in violation of the constitution. From that time until the present, we have repeatedly contacted each member of the City Council and all have refused to lift the permanent illegal sentence.
Over the years, we have repeatedly contacted each Pensacola Police Chief (Chief Jerry Potts, Chief John Mathis and Chief Chip Simmons) and all have refused to lift the permanent illegal sentence placed on us, without due process and without equal protection.
We repeatedly contacted City Manager Bonfield and asked him to lift the permanent illegal sentence placed on us as it was in violation of the requirements of the Constitution. Mr. Bonfield refused. Mr. Bonfield also stated that functions were not permitted in our zone, PR2. All other venues in PR2 which held functions were allowed to remain open and held functions at will.
This was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. In other words, the laws of a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. Pensacola City Officials acted in violation of the Constitution in regard to equal protection of the laws as our venue holding functions was the only one closed down in PR2.
I repeatedly reported these violations of the Constitution and apparent illegal/criminal actions against us to the Florida State Governors: Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Charlie Crist and Governor Rick Scott. Even though Governor Scott’s motto appears to be “Let’s get to work” his refusal to lift the illegal prohibition on us operating as we were authorized has kept us and many others from working to make an income. Individuals who booked functions through our business hired many vendors: caterers, photographers, disk jockeys, limo drivers, florists, etc. In maintaining our building and grounds, we hired a lawn service, maintenance men, painters, etc. Governor Scott’s motto appears to mean nothing.
I have continued to request that Pensacola City Officials, currently Mayor Hayward and Mr. Messer, lift the permanent illegal sentence of the closing our business without due process or equal protection required by the Constitution. All have refused.
Pensacola City Officials gave a reason for closing our authorized business, no Conditional Use (2005), and I countered with the reason we were legal, we were grandfathered and officially authorized by the Pensacola City Council (January, 2001). Then Pensacola City Officials stated a new reason (on April 25, 2008) for closing our business three (3) years earlier (on March 19, 2005), not enough parking, and I countered with the reason we were legal, our parking was grandfathered to 1994 and, in addition, we exceeded current requirements (January, 2001). The newest reason for closing our legally authorized business, five (5) years earlier, was that we were violating Conditional Use (2010) and I countered with the reason we were legal - we didn’t have a Conditional Use (January, 2001).
This is the 10th year of the illegal closing. This permanent punishment or sentence was placed on us without due process and without equal protection. It appears the sentence will continue until I sell the property that I don’t want to sell, or until I die (I’m over 70).
During the withholding of our Constitutional rights, my husband of 39 years passed away (cancer) without us being able to reopen our business even though he hoped to recover and hoped we would be able to reopen. Our granddaughter is a gifted artist and has been accepted by the Savannah College of Art Design (SCAD) but I cannot help her save for the expensive tuition by displaying her works for sale since we are indefinitely, illegally closed. Since I am not allowed to earn income from my business, I cannot afford to contribute to her tuition and can barely manage on just my retirement pension. I paid the yearly property tax of $5,780.94 but I am refused the operation of my business as legally authorized and am refused the law enforcement services of two of the agencies this pays for: the Pensacola Police Department and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.
We invested our life savings and our income from this property for years to restore this beautiful historic building and operate our business but apparent corruption on the part of public officials illegally took the use of our property, as officially authorized, and, therefore, our income, away. As a result, our beautiful building and grounds have fallen into disrepair and lack of maintenance since City Officials are still depriving us of our right to use our property and benefit from the use of that property.
All government officials, upon appointment or election, have taken an oath to obey the United States Constitution. All government officials I have contacted have refused to honor this Oath. This is especially noteworthy since Pensacola is a military town filled with active duty, retired military and veterans, such as my husband and myself. All of us who served also took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Some of our friends and co-workers died in defending our Country and the Constitution. It is offensive to us to see the City Officials blatantly violate the Constitution.