Happy Flamingo Day

December 16th 2003

 

   Well it happened again this year... as it always does..  some city catches hell for setting up a crèche on the lawn in front of city hall...  but this time its not just not a nativity scene causing trouble... there is a large Menorah as well ....  

    

    Mayor Laffey   decided that it would be ok for private groups to set up a religious display on city property so long as it was not paid for with city funds..   all in all, not a bad idea...   The city residents can take pleasure and pride in the display of "something" of religious significance and the city is not shelling out one thin dime to support any one religion,  but rather encourage the expression of all religion.   I don't believe that allowing a group to set up a display in the lawn is "imposing" a religion at all !!

 

 

 

 

    The A.C.L.U.  decided to get involved, for some reason...  I have no clue why...   I do believe in the separation of church and state...  and so long as the "state" isn't supporting , paying for, or endorsing a "specific" religion, I see no problem with allowing all religion equal opportunity to use the space on the lawn.. its sort of like allowing a St. Josephs parade on a city owned street,  so long as equal privileges are afforded every other group.

.. The idea being that the city would make the space available to any group that wanted to set up a "tasteful" display intrigued me... The concept is great until you think about who decides just what is "tasteful".  Well folks, in this town, it is the mayor !..   Yet another reason I should run for office.. .. I could set the bench mark for style and grace citywide .  

.. In the interest of equal representation , I have decided to impose a little culture, and style on the mayor.  I have created the "church" of the pink flamingo...  and we have our own special winter holiday,  I call it "Flamingo Day"  and it is with great pride, the church erected a fitting tribute to our leader, the GREAT FLAMINGO, on the front lawn of city hall.   

    Oh sure, it had to be done in the dead of night...   But I'm pretty sure that this is legal.

 

(this is the text from the sign)

Wishing You A Festive Flamingo Day

In the spirit of the Great Flamingo, spread Love, Peace, and Frivolity to your neighbors, and to the world!

...a message from the Church of the Pink Flamingo.

This Flamingo day Display has been brought to the citizens of Cranston at no cost to the city tax payers.

This display will be removed by Church members at the end of our ten day observance. .. please call with any questions 465 6829..

 

and Yes folks.. I am an ass.. I just had to get a quick photo of a flamingo in the manger .. he had a great time, keeping time with the ox and lamb.. 

.. just one quick shot of the flamingo embracing other religions..

and NO I am not enough of an ass to have left him there.. that would be "tacky" .. and we all know how I feel about "tacky"

 

BE WELL, AND SPREAD THE LOVE,

HAPPY FLAMINGO DAY !

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 17 1003,  9a.m.

    I got a call this morning from the mayors office.. they thought it best if I would come on down and fill out a release ...   so it looks like I'm legal, all asses are covered !

      Actually the folks at city hall sounded rather amused by the display.  I bumped into two lawyers from the A.C.L.U.  while walking out of city hall,  and we talked at length about church and state.. bla bla bla...  I think that for the most part they are right,  but it didn't matter... this experiment was all about opening a dialog.. doing my part to evoke change through the satirical medium of the pink flamingo.. Government should be a dynamic entity,  not a static crutch to fall back on for answers..  and it is working... people are talking.. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACLU expects to rule today on City Hall holiday display

01:00 AM EST on Wednesday, December 17, 2003

BY BARBARA POLICHETTI
Journal Staff Writer

 

CRANSTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island has not decided whether to pose constitutional objections to a holiday display in front of Cranston City Hall that includes a large menorah and an illuminated Nativity scene.

Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU affiliate, said the organization's legal committee is expected to make a decision today.

The ACLU began looking into the matter on Monday, after receiving three complaints that the display -- which also includes an inflatable Santa Claus and snowman -- violates the principle of separation of church and state.

Mayor Stephen P. Laffey has defended the display, which was erected by residents who took him up on his invitation to have the public use the City Hall front lawn to display "appropriate" holiday decorations.

Before any decorations are put on the lawn, Laffey said, they must be approved by his office and that his written policy also states that it cannot "shock the consciousness of the community."

Laffey said that he had the city's legal department review the matter beforehand and that he does not believe the display violates a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed the City of Pawtucket to keep a Nativity scene as part of a larger holiday display.

Brown said that based on initial descriptions, he doesn't feel the Cranston decorations fit the same parameters as the Pawtucket case.

Laffey's office reported yesterday that it had received dozens of phone calls -- all in support of keeping the Nativity scene and the menorah.

The menorah was erected by the West Bay Chabad and the near-life-size Nativity scene was put up by resident Jerome Gella.

Resident Jim Hackett contributed the Santa and the snowman.

Laffey said he would like to see more residents contribute to the display.

 

..and a special note to the Providence Journal, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 17 1003,  4 p.m.

I just got off of the phone with a reporter for the providence journal, Barbara Polichetti.  she sounded amused by all of this nonsense,  and interested in writing a story for the paper..    with any luck I will be able to post the story here in a day or so..  so please check back.

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 17 1003,  5 p.m.

The Providence Journal just sent over a photographer ,Kathy Borchers..  I asked the photographer to take these photos for me while she was here..   looks like the story will run tomorrow.. 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 17 1003,  11 p.m.

the Flamingos were shown quite a bit on Channel 10 here in Providence.. the mayor said on camera that he thought they were "nice flamingos"

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 18 1003,  7:30a.m.

I'm told that WHJY 94FM radio was talking about them....  didn't hear it because I like to sleep in.... thanks to my EX-Wife Holly for calling to let me know. 

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 18 1003,  8 a.m.

here is the article from Providence Journal Writer,  Barbara P

   

 

Flamingos have ACLU seeing pink

The organization opposes religious displays at Cranston City Hall on constitutional grounds, but says the addition of plastic flamingos trivializes religion.

09:41 AM EST on Thursday, December 18, 2003

BY BARBARA POLICHETTI
Journal Staff Writer

 

CRANSTON -- A flock of 15 pink flamingos -- all wearing tiny Santa Claus caps -- has landed on the front lawn of City Hall right between a baby Jesus in a manger and a large menorah.

The plastic birds, which bring season's greetings from "The Church of the Pink Flamingo," are the latest addition to a holiday display that is drawing fire from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU announced yesterday that it will file a lawsuit in federal court challenging the display, which residents are erecting piecemeal at the invitation of Mayor Stephen P. Laffey.

Each decoration must be approved by the mayor's office and as of yesterday afternoon, the display included a near-life-size Nativity scene, a menorah, three Santas, an inflatable snowman, an angel -- and the flamingos.

"The ACLU believes that the city's approval of the display of a Nativity scene and menorah in front of the seat of government -- and immediately adjacent to a public school cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny," said Steven Brown, director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the ACLU. "Public officials simply should not be in the business of promoting religious symbols or serve as arbiters of what are or are not appropriate holiday displays."

Laffey responded to the ACLU's planned legal action by saying, "As everyone knows, both the Grinch and Scrooge had a change of heart when they found out the true meaning of Christmas. And even though Mr. Brown may say, 'Bah Humbug' to Cranston, we say to him, 'Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.' "

He said that residents are telling him that they love the continually expanding display, and that even though he was surprised to find the flamingos yesterday morning, he thinks that they fit in just fine.

 

*

Journal photo / Bill Murphy
LEGS TO STAND ON?: A group of 15 plastic pink flamingos that showed up on the lawn of Cranston City hall on Tuesday night has received mixed reviews.
The flamingos are the handiwork of resident Scott Bonelli, who said he put them up shortly before 10 p.m. on Tuesday after watching news reports of the fight brewing between the city and the ACLU over the holiday display.

Bonelli, who designs theater sets and creates adult sex toys, said that he decided to get involved -- not to make a statement about the separation of church and state -- but because Laffey's policy regarding the display leaves it up to the mayor's office to decide whether or not a decoration is tasteful enough to be in front of City Hall.

"I was offended about [the city] being arbitrary about good taste," Bonelli, 36, said yesterday. "And what says good taste more than pink flamingos?"

"It's a little political statement," he said. "And as much as it is my being a bit smart-ass -- to which I fully admit -- it is also about promoting active dialogue.

"I want people to drive by and smile at the damn pink flamingos," he said. "And it is a bit of a mockery of the whole [city versus ACLU] situation, but it's also letting the city know that if you're going to allow one group to use City Hall lawn, you'd better allow everyone.

"It's a warning that this is opening up a can of worms."

A collector of pink flamingos with 45 on the front lawn of his Bracken Street home, Bonelli said that he decided on the spur of the moment to put the birds up Tuesday night.

"I burned my fingers with the glue gun," he said of his hasty work that transformed a Christmas tree skirt into the tiny red and white Santa caps.

He also created a large silver sign, which he put in the middle of the flock and which bears the message, "Wishing you a Festive Flamingo Day. In the spirit of the Great Flamingo, spread love, peace and frivolity to your neighbors and the world."

It is signed as a "message from the Church of the Pink Flamingo," states that no tax dollars were used for the display, and includes Bonelli's phone number.

He said Laffey's office called him yesterday and asked him to fill out the necessary paperwork for the public display. "Everyone had a good sense of humor about it," Bonelli said of the reception he received at City Hall. "I think everyone knows I'm having a little fun, and also no one wants to insult me if I am serious."

Laffey said that he readily approved the bright birds and that he thinks that they are "relatively tasteful. He said he has no problems with the flamingos perched next to a Nativity scene.

"They're nice flamingos," he said. "And when this whole thing is over, the only thing that people may remember is those flamingos."

 
*
Journal photo / Kathy Borchers
Scott Bonelli adjusts the Santa hat on one of the 45 plastic flamingoes he's set up around his Bracken Street home in Cranston. Bonelli has placed 15 similar flamingoes in front of Cranston City Hall.
Earlier in the week, even before the arrival of the flamingos, Laffey said that he did not think that the holiday display ran afoul of a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed the City of Pawtucket to keep a Nativity scene as a small part of a much larger holiday display that included many other secular decorations.

Brown said that ACLU lawyers spotted the flamingos yesterday morning. The expansion of the display did not affect their decision to go to court with a lawsuit to be filed as soon as possible, he said.

"All this does does is highlight the fact that when government gets involved in religion, religion ends up getting trivialized and degraded," Brown said.

"If Cranston wants to display a Nativity scene at the cost of putting it next to Santa Claus and flamingos, then they deserve whatever they get."

"It's the ACLU that gets accused of being anti-religious by filing these types of lawsuits," Brown said, "but this shows that it's precisely the opposite. It's politicians that abuse and demote religion.

"I would think that most religious people would be terribly offended by having the sacred birth of Jesus just a few feet away from plastic flamingos in Santa Claus outfits."

Laffey countered that Brown is contradicting himself, "first saying that we're endorsing religion and now he's saying that we're trivializing it.

"Besides," he said, "Mr. Brown is not the fashion police for Cranston."

Bonelli, staying out of the back-and-forth between the city and the ACLU, said, "My first goal is just to be a cheap smile, and beyond that, my intention is to make people think."

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 18 1003,  9:45 a.m.

just got a call from CH. 12 WPRI in Providence.. they are sending out a news crew...

they want to interview me...  this is getting way out of hand  ... they got the idea for interviewing me from reading the news paper... they called my home phone number after reading my name in the paper looking it up, not from actually finding my cell phone number on the sign...  what a bunch of slackers..  don't get me wrong, I love the press.. but they passed on the story, when it was called into the tip line on the 16th, and only now are running it.   

.. the crew was 15 min late.. the slackers...  but the interview was quick light hearted and fun... lets hope I'm not edited to look like a Bozo..    for those of you in the Providence area,  be sure to watch at  6:15pm.. 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 18 1003,  1:30 p.m.

.. no , I had no idea this would be such a big issue...  but it is kinda' '' funny isn't it...    and do check back often for updates...  I just finished an Associated Press interview , with Amy Forliti.  ill post the interview as soon as I find it.. 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 18 1003,  4:00 p.m.

 today @ 4pm  I was interviewed live with Dan York... AM 630 WPRO   Dan was an asshole with an agenda, and he tried to direct me to fit that agenda....   when  Dan realized that I wasn't going to agree with him,  he simply dismissed me, cut me off.

... another thing that pissed me off with the interview... Dan was obsessed with the word Dildo.. he said it like a Zillion times...  he said that if I truly wanted to make a statement of protest I should have set up a display of several large Dildos on the lawn...   he wouldn't  let it go.. he repeated it several times..  when I informed him that I thought it would be too offensive, to  be a true test of the mayors intent, he simply repeated that he thought it would be a better test of the intent with little regard for my intent.. NOT pissing people off...   

    I was also surprised to hear that he was offended that the display of Flamingos was put up, next to a manger..  he thought that it was disrespectful of that religion,  and presumed to tell the listeners that there is no valid church , called the church of the pink flamingos..  when I questioned him how he would define a church,  he blew off the question..   to make a long story short.. it is my opinion that Dan York, of WPRO AM630, is in fact himself a DILDO,  and a rude one at that !!

    the idea of all of this bullshit is to foster discussion,  and this fool just wanted to hear himself talk !  the highlight of the conversation was that I got to use the phrase "egregious outrage" !  God I love that phrase   (may the great flamingo forgive me)

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 18 1003,  6:00 p.m.

    the interview on Channel 12 was just fine.. light hearted.. and I didn't look fat on camera..  i got a lot of air time!  ... the birds were also shown on Channel 6 as well.. don't know if they actually mentioned the flamingos as I was still stunned from seeing my pretty face on Channel 12 earlier.  

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 18 1003,  8:50 p.m.

    its been a long, and funny as hell day.. and I'm trying to nap little on the couch, when yet again .. the phone rings.. so I answer the phone and its some guy asking about  the display, wanting to know it the Church of the Pink  Flamingos is real...  I give him a brief run down of what the deal is.. he thanks me and hangs up..  a little odd, but no big deal...     

    as soon as I start to drift off again,  the phone rings.. and its another guy,  sounding a little like the first.. he asks a few questions.. again I answer...  but I had to ask him why he was calling, as it didn't seem like an average citizen with a question.. yet he also didn't sound like a member of the Press.  as it turns out, it was Jim Racine, the style editor of the , America's largest weekly newspaper... he was in town covering "Cher"  said she was in town for a movie premier or something .. hell I don't know, I was sleeping!.. well to make a long story .. well.. longer.. he thinks the Flamingos are just "fabulous" and wants to write them up in next weeks Voice...  how cool is this?!!..     go figure,  put out a handful of pink flamingos, and dudes from the village voice show up...    this is getting way too funny!  but this all sounds just too odd.. so I checked online at the village voice site,  and looked up the Masthead, and saw no listing for "Style Editor" or Jim Racine...  

.. check back later in the week,  if the article happens,  ill post the article as soon as I have it! 

.. sure I should go to bed.. but I have a funny feeling I have to check on the flock!

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 18 1003,  10:30 p.m.

    Damn it !!!   one of the flamingos has been stolen from the city hall lawn..  this is NOT in the spirit of Flamingo Day !!!  Thief beware.. the Great and Mighty Flamingo is a vengeful deity ,  and he will strike you down with a nasty case of chapped lips if you do not return the stolen property. 

    i took the time to write this web page address on the little sign..  so people can read up on this silly saga.  hope to have the missing Flamingo replaced in the morning !!!

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 19 1003,  8:30 a.m.

the flock was joined for a while this afternoon by Psycho-Amy.. a fun little doll.. she posed a Bit with the guys,   shared a few stories about being a persecuted plastic icon,  had a hot coco, and was off for a photo opportunity with Santa

    D.J. Roche from the Boston Globe called,  she writes a column on religion called Peaks and Valleys...  and the likes the flamingos...   sounds like a nice lady.. we chatted for a while... i was just pretending to be awake ..this press thing is fun,  but why does it  happen so damn early..  the article should be posted here as soon as it comes out..     

the AP interview was picked up by the Boston Globe (so far).

..and a special note to theGlobe, and AP, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

 

Flamingos join disputed holiday display at Cranston City Hall

CRANSTON, R.I. -- Under the dark cover of night, 15 pink flamingos donning Santa hats descended on City Hall, perching themselves between a Nativity scene and menorah.

 

The plastic pink flock had its own holiday message: "Wishing you a festive Flamingo Day," a note next to them said. "In the spirit of the Great Flamingo, spread love, peace and frivolity to your neighbors and the world! A message from the Church of the Pink Flamingo."

They're amid a veritable menagerie of holiday decorations on the City Hall lawn, which Mayor Steve Laffey opened up for all kinds of displays -- from a menorah to an inflatable Santa Claus, an inflatable snowman to a Nativity scene (the latter put up by a Jewish man in honor of his deceased wife, a Christian).

The flamingos popped up after Scott Bonelli saw news reports about disputes over the display of religious symbols on city property. Although Bonelli said he applauds the expression of different views, he didn't think it was right for the mayor to decide which displays were appropriate.

"I was trying to be a little bit tongue and cheek," said Bonelli, 36, of Cranston. "It's not a big ugly protest, it's more to get people to think."

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union plans to file a federal lawsuit over the religious displays, said Steven Brown, ACLU executive director.

"The mayor claims that he's just allowed private groups to do what they want, but the fact of the matter is, the mayor has sole approval power," Brown said.

According to the city's policy on decorations, the lawn would serve as a "limited public forum" for holiday displays from Dec. 5 through Jan. 1, and all citizens wishing to leave displays must get approval from Laffey's office and sign a waiver releasing the city from liability if a display is damaged.

"It's my way of saying to the people of Cranston, 'This is your land, and if you want to set up some appropriate holiday displays, go ahead,'" Laffey said.

"Quite frankly, the flamingos are fairly tasteful," Laffey said.

The flock of flamingos appeared on the lawn late Tuesday. Laffey said when his office noticed the birds and the note left with them Wednesday morning, officials contacted Bonelli, who signed a waiver and got city approval.

Roger DeSilva, 60, of Cranston, said he sees both sides of the debate, and he can appreciate the humor behind the flamingos.

"It must be a tribute to all the elderly going to Florida, to get them ready for their trip," DeSilva chuckled, as he sat at Caffe Bon-Ami Inc., working on a crossword puzzle.

 and can be seen here 

 (you may need to cut and paste these two lines into your web browser)

flamingos_join_disputed_holiday_display_at_cranston_city_hall/

 

this is some stranger.. just wandered by to see the flock.. said he wasn't at all offended !!

 

 

 

mid-day update... 

I was informed that Jesus was taken from his manger last night as well... 

 

 

and  now this from the Providence Journal

Council rips Laffey and Yule display

Democratic Councilman John Lanni calls the City Hall exhibit -- that mixes religious and secular symbols -- unconstitutional and a publicity stunt.

03:28 AM EST on Friday, December 19, 2003

BY BARBARA POLICHETTI
Journal Staff Writer

 

CRANSTON -- For varying reasons, a majority of City Council members don't like the holiday display unfolding on the front lawn of City Hall that includes decorations ranging from a Nativity scene to a parade of pink flamingos.

Many said yesterday that they agree with the American Civil Liberties Union which is opposing the display on the grounds that it is unconstitutional because it violates the principle of separation of church and state.

The ACLU said Wednesday that it will file a lawsuit in federal court against the city because of the display which is being erected -- one decoration at a time -- by residents at the invitation of Republican Mayor Stephen P. Laffey.

"Of course it's unconstitutional," said Democratic Councilman John Lanni. "He [Laffey] knows it, his lawyers know it and the average citizen knows it.

"This has been tested in just about every state in the country. And all this is," Lanni said, "is a publicity stunt for the Laffey ego. This is just so that people will know who he is when he runs for higher office."

Councilwoman Paula McFarland said that Laffey has done more than just mix church and state. "He's mixed church and commercial symbols," McFarland said, alluding to the pink flamingos wearing little red hats placed between a large menorah and a near-life-size Nativity scene.

"He's making a mockery of religion," she said. "Next, we'll have the church of Santa Claus and the church of snowmen represented on the lawn. And there's even the possibility of the church of Laffey."

Laffey, who was not available for comment yesterday, has defended the display and his policy which gives his office the authority to decide what decorations are "appropriate" and can be erected.

Laffey said earlier in the week that he did not think that the eclectic display -- which now includes three Santas, an angel, and an inflatable snowman plus the menorah, the Nativity scene and the flamingos -- is covered by a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed the City of Pawtucket to keep a creche in a park next to City Hall.

That decision found, in part, that the Nativity scene was just a small part of a much larger holiday diorama that included Santa's reindeer, candy canes and a wishing well.

Cranston City Councilwoman Cynthia Fogarty, a lawyer, said yesterday that she agrees with the ACLU and she is concerned that the city might have to spend taxpayers' money in court to defend the display. She is also worried about the city opening itself up to the liability of having to pay the ACLU's legal fees and other costs, if it loses.

Laffey, who yesterday was scheduled to preside over a menorah-lighting ceremony in the front lobby of City Hall, has said that he has had ample offers from local lawyers who are willing to represent the city free of charge.

He approved the flamingos on Wednesday after resident Scott Bonelli surreptitiously set them up Tuesday night along with a large sign that brings greetings from "The Church of the Pink Flamingo."

Yesterday, Democratic Councilman Kirk McDonough decried the entire display as no more than an insulting jumble of secular and religious objects.

"I am particularly offended by the novelty of pink flamingos separating the Nativity scene and the menorah," he said. "The lack of respect for the two religions is an affront to all and should be rectified immediately."

Republican Councilmen Allan Fung and Marc Ferolito both backed Laffey, saying that they thought the display was legal and not offensive. "We're creating kind of a diverse atmosphere," Fung said.

Citywide Councilman Randall Jackvony, also a Republican and the minority leader, disagreed. He said that while he does not concur with the ACLU's position, he does feel that it is inappropriate to have a display that combines a Nativity scene with a snowman and multiple Santas.

"In my personal opinion, we should take all the items off the lawn tomorrow," he said. "It's essentially making a mockery of religions when you have them next to the Church of the Pink Flamingo."

"I'm a practicing Catholic. . . and while I think God has a sense of humor, I think that there's only so far you can take it."

Councilwoman Ellen O'Hara said she agrees with the ACLU and is upset that the display is making Cranston the brunt of many jokes.

"I was sort of hopeful that we had begun to turn the corner in Cranston and get ourselves off the front page," she said referring to months of headlines about the city's fiscal woes. "But I get up this morning to find out that we are the laughing stock of the state once more."

 

a true believer does not need proof.. but here it is anyway... the church of the Pink Flamingo does have members.. here Courtney is shown communing with the little fellows.

 

 

 

 

and this as well from the providence Journal..

Bob Kerr: A display that reveals the real truth

01:00 AM EST on Friday, December 19, 2003

 

It's a cheesy piece of work, this invitation to the people of Cranston to break the law. It only cheapens a sacred holiday.

But as the Christmas season kicks into gear shortly after Labor Day, as the push begins for Americans to turn their credit cards into smoldering ruins, someone invariably steps up to make a blatant appeal for the religious vote -- and tap the self-promoting potential of facing off with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

This year, it's Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, who is quickly becoming the most camera-ready pol in Rhode Island.

Laffey has checked in as this year's champion of the warm Christmas fuzzies, inviting residents to turn the front lawn of City Hall into a holiday display. The public donations so far include a life-size Nativity scene and a menorah.

Thus we have the annual tacky splurge of self-serving, self-righteous declarations of what belongs in Christmas and where it can rightfully be placed. It includes the inevitable, trifling assertion that the public has a right to express itself about the holiday.

But the public is not one big, Santa-loving mob. There are differences among us, and those differences are demeaned by allowing religious symbols onto publicly-supported property.

And a mayor playing Father Christmas turns warm celebration into low rent political spectacle.

So the ACLU has responded, as it has to. It carries the burden of protecting the Constitution and it sometimes has to deal with calculated publicity stunts such as the one currently being pulled at Cranston City Hall.

There is that nagging constitutional prohibition against mixing public business with private religious beliefs. It is as it has to be. Religion is a private matter and has no place in government. People can govern with religious conviction without pushing religion in the faces of their constituents.

But Laffey has joined a long line of Yuletide hustlers, playing the faith of some of the people off against the hard inflexibility of the law. He has played the usual dreary cards -- the Grinch, Scrooge -- in reaction to the ACLU challenge to the religious symbols at a public building.

So the pink flamingos seem crudely appropriate. They are a mockery of a mockery. They have taken Laffey's flouting of constitutional restraints to a fittingly absurd extreme.

The flamingos showed up in the holiday display Tuesday night courtesy of one Scott Bonelli, a Cranston resident who designs theater sets and creates adult sex toys.

Bonelli told The Journal that he was offended by the city's arbitrary position on what is tasteful enough to be included in the holiday display. So he landed 15 of the flamingos on the City Hall lawn between the Nativity scene and the menorah.

It is a joke -- a garish comment on Laffey's latest grab for attention. Bonelli has raised the silly stakes by 15 flamingos wearing Santa hats.

It is funny in a sad way. But it is also wasteful. The dispute will take time and resources and way too much emotion away from things more deserving.

It has become an annual folly, this testing of the law and the will of the ACLU to stay true to its mission. It is presented by people who see a return in claiming the right to spread the spirit of Christmas wherever they choose.

And somewhere down the line, in a church basement or senior center, someone will warmly hug Mayor Laffey and wish blessings upon him for putting Christ back in Christmas at City Hall.

Glad tidings indeed.

Bob Kerr can be reached by e-mail at bkerr@projo.com

 

I sent this E-Mail to Bob in response to his fine article 

Hi Bob...
.. Quick question.. when you said "It only cheapens a sacred holiday."  What holiday were you referring to?... Christmas, Chanukah, Flamingo day...     It is my contention that there are plenty of religions out there.. all valid to the believers,  and that no one group should be discriminated against..
 
.. While I do believe in the separation of church and state, the mayor wins a few points in my book for allowing the Flamingo day display, without judging the validity of my " beliefs"..  my problem  with the mayor is that he believes that his office is the final arbiter of good taste.. ( sure he approved the birds, but that's not the point,  .. who is he to make that decision.. )  I personally have no problem with using a little city property for any and all winter holiday displays,  what with what we are paying in taxes in this city, I feel that I should have plenty of rights to the land.  I feel that the use of the land is no different than the city allowing a St. Joseph's, or St. Patrick's day parade on a city street, so long as all are afforded the same privilege. 
     I think that the best answer to this issue would be for the mayor to appoint a group of citizens, to manage the site,  and simply allow everyone who requests the space, access to it.  and remove the office of the mayor from the equation completely.
.. I enjoyed the article,  it was the first time I heard of the complaints of the councilmen..
.. Once again I would like to state that the intent of the display was not to offend any religious groups.. it was simply what I believed to be a harmless protest..  an attempt to  get people to discuss important issues.. a catalyst if you will... 
.. I am personally a little baffled by anyone who says that the proximity on by display to any other is an insult to that religion. the presence of a symbol is only offensive if you don't believe in the symbol.  That is the main issue.. Who gave the government the right to decide if my religion, or any other religion is valid? !
.. I would be happy to answer any questions  you may have, or any questions that the councilmen may have.  While my phone number is listed on the display, at this point I have not heard from any of the detractors.   (and at this point, I have not heard back from councilmen Kirk McDough, I left a message with his wife this morning)
 
Scott Bonelli
 
401 465 6829

 

 

here we have out little friend hamming it up for the camera..  he just loves his "evil second head" google eyes.

 

 

 

 

today was a busy day..  I got to chat on the radio again. this time with WHJJ 920 am.. not a bad little interview..    and I'm such a fool I didn't get the interviewers name...  

the flock is again complete.. I have replaced the missing flamingo.!! 

.. and an interesting conversation with a judge outside city hall .. he didn't think that there should be any display at all..  

... and while this was going on there was a small crew from a local union erecting a tasteful happy holiday sign.. they politely declined my offer of a few flamingos.   it was a funny sight.. I wish I had my camera.. there were 3 big guys, and a big truck .. with just one guy pounding in the stakes for the sign.. it looked like a typical "union " job

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 19 1003,  4:10 p.m.

.. I spoke with Arlene Violet on the radio today.. (WHJJ AM radio) she was nice,  and let me speak..  who would imagine a polite radio host !?

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 19 1003,  7:30 p.m.

we just got a few new members... Tienne, and .  Spreading Frivolity, and being pant less.. who should be doing what.. you decide !

Check back in a few days,  , shown here in a sassy frock will have our first official "Church of the Pink Flamingo" hymn

 

.. I still have yet to have my calls to councilmen McDonough, or Jackvony returned.. but I did get a call from  councilwoman O'hara.. but unfortunately I was not home to answer it..   I returned her call and hope she calls me back!!

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 19 1003,  8:35 p.m 

    Councilmen Randall Jackvony just gave me a call...  and was kind enough to make clear a few points.. he tells me that it wasn't so much the flamingos making the "mockery of religion"  but rather the situation, as a whole..  and that's fair enough for me..   he is right.. this is a mockery of a mockery in my humble opinion..  but for my part it is a good natured mockery.  ..and I'm so very pleased that Councilmen Jackvony  did see fit to call me  back, to take an active interest in the views of others, and how his views are perceived by others.. , rather than simply state his case to the press...   it was great to engage in the dialog.  

    Although I couldn't convert him to the church of the pink flamingo, he did admit that they gave him a smile...    and that's all I ask for ....spreading love, peace, and frivolity.  

    Perhaps this is all a huge plot on my part to get everything removed from the  lawn,  and perhaps I agree with the A.C.L.U. ?     you decide... ( or at least talk about it!)

 

Nativity scenes cause uproar


By Joyce Howard Price
THE WASHINGTON TIMES     December 19,2003


    As in every holiday season, efforts have been made this year to take Christ out of Christmas in schools and at other public events.
    A Nativity scene was removed from a showcase in Simmons Elementary School in Horsham, Pa.
    "The administration removed it because it was too overt in its religious significance," said a spokeswoman for the Hatboro-Horsham School District.
    District Superintendent William Lessa said he "always thought a Nativity scene is a religious symbol so significant that it was not appropriate in the context of public education."
    But Mr. Lessa said he is willing to re-examine that question in the wake of parental complaints and publicity that followed his decision to remove the Nativity scene. He said plenty of other symbols can be found in Simmons Elementary, including Christmas trees, a menorah and a symbol of Kwanzaa.
    "Christmas has become more secular than ever in the schools," said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, a public-interest law firm that represents people in cases involving religious freedom.
    "Schools are really tightening down ... we're so besieged by the whole secular aspect [of Christmas] that people are getting the idea it's hopeless to complain" when religious aspects are removed, Mr. Whitehead said.
    He expressed concern about the Simmons Elementary action but said Rutherford would not have standing to bring litigation.
    In another case, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Rhode Island plans to go to court today to try to force removal of a Nativity scene from the Cranston City Hall lawn. Mayor Stephen Lassey invited residents to adorn the lawn with their own holiday decorations.
    Residents responded by installing items such as an inflatable Santa and snowmen, a menorah, a 4-foot-tall angel with lights and 15 plastic pink flamingos wearing Santa hats.
    "There was not a peep until a Jewish man decided to put up a Nativity scene in honor of his deceased Christian wife. Then, the ACLU announced it was getting involved," said mayoral spokeswoman Robin Schutt.
    In another case, a Connecticut artist who had been barred by a public library from including a painting of a Nativity scene from an Advent display of her works has been given a reprieve.
    The Nativity scene and four paintings of Jesus as an adult by artist Mary Morley were to have been excluded from her 17-piece art exhibit at the Meriden Public Library in Meriden, Conn., said Edmond M. Diorio, an affiliate attorney for Rutherford in Watertown, Conn.
    "For the past year, the Meriden Public Library has been letting local artists display their works in month long exhibits. But Miss Morley was the first artist where the library decided to pick and choose which works it would allow," Mr. Diorio said yesterday in a telephone interview.
    "This had every appearance of religious discrimination," he added.
    In a letter to the city's Department of Law, Mr. Diorio said library director Marcia Trotta let Miss Morley show paintings of Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Moses, David and Goliath, and some angels, but not Jesus.
    At a meeting this week, the library's board of trustees unanimously agreed to accept the full collection.
    Meriden City Attorney Lawrence Kendzior yesterday insisted the library director "acted responsibly."
    Mr. Kendzior sad the Meriden library director thought the paintings she wanted left out "would create problems with the establishment clause of the Constitution."
    Meanwhile, things are peaceful in Cedar County, Iowa, where a Nativity scene stands on the courthouse lawn. Nearby is a sign saying that the display is "neither sponsored or endorsed" by the county. The lawn has been formally designated as a "public forum."
    "As far as I know, this policy satisfies the constitutional concerns of the [Iowa Civil Liberties Union] and others," said Stephen Benz, assistant county attorney.


    

a special note to the Washington Times, and Joyce Howard Price, who hold the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !

 

FUN E-MAIL: Friday, December 19, 2003 9:50 AM

Re: wild Press updates

Scott,
 
I know you are probably way to busy to talk to us "non celebrities" but... I had to say I felt the same way about that ass Dan York.  He sounded like a MORON!  You should have called him a DILDO, he certainly is one.  He never let you speak.  It was more lighthearted on channel 12.  This all is too funny.  Here's to the Flamingo's of America (or does it go beyond that???)  I am sure you will get some wacko's trying to join up...
 
:)Kristin

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 20 1003,  11:30 p.m.

I spend the day in NYC and miss this

Thief subtracts, critic adds at Cranston's Nativity scene

The police are investigating the disappearance of baby Jesus and two flamingos from the quirky holiday display at City Hall.

01:00 AM EST on Saturday, December 20, 2003

BY SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
Journal Staff Writer

CRANSTON -- The Teamsters are in and baby Jesus is out.

Two pink flamingos -- wearing little Santa hats -- also walked off, and yesterday one resident tried to exhibit an angel wearing the face of Mayor Stephen P. Laffey.

The holiday display in front of Cranston City Hall continues to be a flurry of activity.

Sometime Thursday night or early yesterday morning, the Nativity-scene Jesus was stolen, according to Laffey's office. Two pink flamingos, part of a set of 15 recently added to the display, have also disappeared, one at a time. The police are investigating.

Yesterday also brought the addition of a sign from the local Teamsters unit carrying their "Season's Greetings."

Last week, Laffey invited residents to put up "appropriate" holiday decorations on the front lawn of City Hall. Each decoration must be approved by Laffey or his designee, must be "suitable for the holiday occasion" and not "shock the consciousness of the community."

Besides the manger and flamingos, the display includes a menorah, several Santas, a snowman and an angel.

The Republican mayor's move has drawn fire from the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, which says the display is unconstitutional and that "public officials simply should not be in the business of promoting religious symbols." The ACLU says it will challenge Laffey in court.

Late yesterday afternoon, local gadfly and frequent Laffey critic Louis G. Rainone brought a 3 1/2-foot wooden angel, with a picture of Laffey taped to the head, to City Hall.

Rainone, who describes himself as a practicing Catholic, says the mayor is "rewriting the Constitution" and should not be the one deciding what is or is not offensive. Rainone says there should be no holiday display on city property and that Laffey's move forces the city to allow offensive displays.

"What's going to stop the Ku Klux Klan from coming here and burning a cross?" Rainone said yesterday.

Rainone has been vocal in his dislike for Laffey. In recent months, he has distributed fliers at City Council meetings calling Laffey a "phony" and "a lightweight mayor." He has criticized Laffey's growing legal spending and says the mayor seems to "favor lawsuit after lawsuit."

His display, called "The Guardian Angel of Cranston," goes beyond tongue-in-cheek. It asks residents to help the mayor raise money so the city's lawyers can dine out in fancy restaurants, make payments on luxury cars and take their families on tropical vacations.

Laffey could not be reached yesterday for comment on Rainone's lampoon.

Every person adding to the display must, under Laffey's rules, sign a waiver releasing the city from liability.

Rainone reviewed the release in the mayor's office yesterday but declined to sign it, saying his lawyer told him not to sign anything until it is reviewed.

So, instead of leaving the angel on the front lawn, Rainone briefly paced with it on the sidewalk out front. He says he probably won't sign the release, but plans to return this weekend and march with the decoration.

"This is the angel of mercy," Rainone said. "He's going to save the city a lot of money, but he's going to give it all to the lawyers."

 

 

..and a special note to the Providence Journal, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

Rainone says there should be no holiday display on city property and that Laffey's move forces the city to allow offensive displays. "What's going to stop the Ku Klux Klan from coming here and burning a cross?" Rainone said yesterday. well Mr. Rainone... you hit the nail on the head.. if ya'  let one.. then you have to let them all... but what a fun idea... allowing everyone to express themselves.. even if you find the  idea to be offensive..  hell, I say let them burn a cross.. and I for one will applaud the government that allows it.. I will also choose not to support it, or view the display.. 

 

well it happened again... I get home from NYC  and check on the flamingos. and I find that 7 have flown the coop...  what a pisser

.. while I was at the event in the city an acquaintance wished me luck with the flamingos...    I had not mentioned them to her...  she had explained to me that she was forwarded a link to this page from a friend.. said something about it being posted on another website devoted to this sort of silly web log..  anyone out there know anything about this... if so.. shoot me off an e-mail.. 

FUN E-MAIL: Saturday, December 20, 2003 11:14 AM

RE: quack ?

the kids I teach art to loved the flamingo.  I have a lovely Polaroid of
them with it.  my friend Christine is very jealous.  she wants her picture
taken with the 
flamingos.  but she lives in d.c.
she also suggests that next year you use actual
flamingos. now that would be
exciting.

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 20 1003,  12:00 p.m. 

I just checked my e-mail,  and I received this fine photo  from George and Nan..  Courtney's folks... they call it FlamAngel.  so happy to hear that they are celebrating the holiday with style !!

 

lets keep those fun photos and e-mails coming !

 

 

 

 

FUN E-MAIL: Saturday, December 20, 2003 10:40 AM

Re: Flamingoes, and Six Degrees of Separation

Dear Scott--

I, and my friends down here in the DC area, think what
you've done is wonderful.  I was passed a link to your
site by Kayla XXXX, for which I am
grateful.  Keep up the good work, man!

In the meantime, the
flamingos' hats are *great.*

Good luck with your endeavors-- and getting some sleep
in between interviews!

Kind regards from South of the Border*,

Kate (Arlington, VA)

* (the Mason-Dixon line.  As a Lexington, Mass.
native, it's *different* down here...  Lexington, for
*years* had annual upheavals about the placement of a
crèche on the Battle Green, about which the debate
would rage on and on-- every single year.  Your effort
is an *excellent* editorial comment!)

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 21 1003,  7:30 a.m..

I got a phone call this morning from an un named Cranston bus driver... he was walking his dog at Fay Field ( I think he said Fay?) and happened upon one of the flock parked on the pitchers mound of the baseball field.  this un named bus driver was kind enough to drive to city hall and get my phone number from the sign at city hall... he then drove the flamingo to the police station to report the situation... he then told me that the police asked him if he would return the flamingo to the lawn....   again this fine citizen did the right thing and drove back across town to deliver the bird...   this same defender of the flamingo faith later called me to let me know that he found another two of the birds in another field...  he has them in his car now.. and I will pick them up later in the day.  

 

PEAKS & VALLEYS

Deck lawn with pink flamingos

There is no Christmas tree at the State House in Augusta, Maine, but across the street at Blaine House, the governor's mansion, it's a case of the more the merrier; they were set to light a menorah on Friday, and next up is a Kwanzaa celebration. That's one way to navigate the issue of religious expression in public places this time of year. But when Mayor Stephen P. Laffey of Cranston, R.I., announced that any religion could be displayed on the City Hall lawn (of course, within the bounds of good taste), how could he have known that the Church of the Pink Flamingo would take him up on it? ''When the mayor said it was about good taste, the first thing I thought of was pink flamingos,'' said theater designer Scott Bonelli, who committed a ''drive-by flamingoing'' one night last week, installing 15 pink flamingos in Santa Claus hats near the Nativity scene, menorah, various Santas, and an angel. The ACLU is, naturally, taking action, but Bonelli is unrepentant. ''What makes a church, and who's to say what's in good taste?'' Bonelli says. ''The world is full of bickering and spite. If you can have one grin as you pass City Hall, then I've done my job.''

..and a special note to the Boston Globe, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 21 1003,  12:30 p.m..

    I picked up the two additional flamingos that were found in the park..   thanked the man for helping reunite the flock.. he and his wife sounded amused by it all..  while replacing the flamingos on the lawn a police officer came by .. I flagged him down, figuring that it would be easier to file a stolen flamingos report right then and there, rather than having to go down to the police station....  and it would be far easier not having to give the office a description, he could simply stand there, basking in the glory , that is the flamingo.. and sort of soak up the aura.  The cop  was cool, and asked "off the record" what the deal was with the flamingos"  laughing while he asked..  I asked him if he thought it was funny, and he quickly sobered up and said "no".. as if trying to show some respect for something that I might take seriously..  I had to explain to him that it was supposed to make him giggle.. that was the whole idea of this little exercise.  the report was taken, and now at least the cops will have my phone number if anyone tries to turn in the remaining 4 birds..    .. Ill post the report as soon as its available.. 

    while talking with the cop, I was interrupted by woman asking if the church of the flamingos was a "real " religion..    again I had to explain, that wasn't the point ! either way, she said she liked the flock just fine.. as did the old German guy who wanted to shoot the union bastards for putting a happy holiday sign up on the lawn.  honest folks I don't make this stuff up.. 

...but then it happened.. Mayor Stephen P. Laffey walked around the corner , waived to me , and called to me by name...  (I must say that I felt more than a little foolish that I didn't immediately recognize him ...  )  the mayor and I talked a bit.. and YES ! he was amused by the display.. and I quote " I laughed my ass off", said the mayor.  we talked at length about how I sort of helped his cause , by helping to prove that he doesn't discriminate..   and I reminded him that while I was actively trying to test that policy, I didn't believe that he should have the power to make the decisions that he has made.. ( all the while thanking him for letting the flock stay) 

.. the mayor told me that he believed that he did have the power to make the decisions so long as they were made fairly, and equally.. he just doesn't get it.. he told me that so long as something didn't offend the people it would be fine.. and that he wouldn't allow a swastika on the lawn...  he didn't seem to understand that if he didn't allow the swastika on the lawn, he wouldn't be applying the standards equally..  and that even if the city had given him that right,( he may have said the charter, I was too cold to think straight,  but he did offer up what sounded to be a legitimate reference and cited a chapter and everything)     perhaps it should be revoked, as it would allow him the power to make decisions that could compromise the separation of church and state... 

    When I offered the idea that if he were a nazi mayor he would be free to put said swastika on the lawn.. he  said that the people would be free to vote him out of office..   

    OK  mayor, a point well taken... but lets just think for a moment, .. if the nazi mayor with the complete control,  decided to "punish" those who didn't follow his publicly posted beliefs.?  or decided that they didn't have certain rights, such as voting...  (buts that's another story... )

    all in all the mayor sounded like a nice guy... with good intentions,  but he didn't have a grasp of the bigger issue.. it shouldn't be his job to decide these issues ! Laffey critic Louis G. Rainone brought a 3 1/2-foot wooden angel, with a picture of Laffey taped to the head, to City Hall.  But I hear that Rainone  did NOT sign

    but it was a pleasant conversation, he asked me if I saw the paper today, or yesterday.. he sounded pleased with the coverage.... is he happy to spark a dialog, or does he simply like the press... who knows.. 

      Mayor  Laffey did ask me if he could have a flamingo for his office when the holiday was over... he did say he would be happy to pay for it.. I countered that I would be honored to give the mayors office a flamingo!   and to think today of all days I didn't bring a camera.. .

I have not heard back from Bob Kerr ..It would be great if I get an e-mail reply.. 

and at this point, I have not heard back from councilmen Kirk McDough, I left a message with his wife Friday Morning)

I did get an un solicited call from Councilwoman Ellen O'Hara on the 19th, but I was not here to receive it.. I did call her back and left a message.. but I have not heard back !

 

NEWS CLIPPINGS 

A crèche in Cranston

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, December 21, 2003

By The Providence Journal editorial board

The First Amendment, which supposedly guarantees freedom of speech and religion, has been twisted into guaranteeing the right of any small number of citizens to avoid feeling offended. It's time for the public, and judges, to fight back and reassert freedom -- and common sense.

In Cranston, for example, citizens have put holiday displays on public land around City Hall. They've turned up with an inflatable Santa, an inflatable snowman, and a menorah, to mark Hanukkah. It was when that modern horror of horrors, a Nativity scene, made its appearance -- imagine, the birth of Jesus being linked to Christmas! -- that the American Civil Liberties Union reportedly received three complaints. Three, out of a city of more than 80,000 people.

That was enough for the ACLU to spring into action. Steven Brown, executive director of the organization's Rhode Island branch, said that the display appears "unconstitutional and designed to have the effect of promoting religion." So the ACLU has announced a legal challenge.

Nothing in the Constitution says that God may not be mentioned in public, or represented by citizens on public property. The First Amendment says Congress shall make no law establishing a state religion; that treasured freedom lets each of us worship as we please. Stretched to cover Cranston, it means that city government may not use its powers to force a state religion on anyone.

The holiday display is clearly not doing that. Mayor Stephen Laffey, indeed, seems to have a better understanding of First Amendment freedoms than does the ACLU. He invited citizens to put reasonable displays of their choosing around City Hall, calling it a "forum for freedom of speech." (Flamingos in Santa hats were eventually added -- no separation of church and kitsch there!)

In protecting the freedom of all to worship as they please, we do not need to bring the might of government crashing down on anyone who remembers the message of Hanukkah or recalls that Christmas relates to Jesus. Using government power to obliterate any evidence of religion around a federal holiday -- one that was created out of respect for a religion adhered to by a majority of the population -- violates common sense, and maybe the First Amendment.

content/projo_20031221_21edcrech.353127.html  

you may need to cut and paste these two lines together in your browser

..and a special note to the Providence Journal, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

West Bay

FUN E-MAIL:  Sunday, December 21, 2003 11:41 PM

Dear friends.... I am proud to say Scott at Big Head Studios is a friend of
mine.... please take a moment to review the web page below.

happy semi religousouso holidays

( sent to a huge mailing list)

 

FUN E-MAIL: Sunday, December 21, 2003 3:34 PM

Hey Scott,
 
Can I be a missionary in the Church of Pink Flamingoes and have one of the little guys to start my chapter here in humble Rockland County, NY?  Lord knows we've got churches and places of worship of all kinds around here.  I think it would fit right it.
 
Too, too much.  It confirms my belief that the media (and the ACLU is really the Anti-Christ... no, wait... that's Bob Kerr... talk about having an AGENDA!!!) is the root of all evil.  That's why I'm happy to be living under a rock.
 
Keep me up with the postings.  What a gas!

 

NEW INFO: 

"ACLU SUES OVER CRANSTON RELIGIOUS DISPLAY"

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 22 1003,  10:30 a.m..

went to replace the  missing 4 flamingos today... but found that another 3 are missing... this sucks !!!  I was joined on this mission by the St. Louis Bishop, Susan,  as well as the South County High Priestess Courtney.   We bumped into a photographer from the Providence Journal, as well as a news crew from Channel 12 WPRI News,  they were there for a live report for the noon news..   I was also at city hall  that day to pay a little on my back taxes... 

  

While I was inside, the ladies decided that in the spirit of flamingo day, and the frivolity that it embraces, they should make little antlers for those in the flock without hats, they found some twigs and  lacking the proper flamingo antler application device, they sought help from the locals who were there to "worship" at the site...  the nice camera- man from Channel 12 WPRI News, was kind enough to loan the ladies a roll of masking tape.  as we were leaving the site I received a call from Barbara Polichetti.  again she was amused but this whole story,  and asked a few questions about the flamingo-napping  the story is posted below...

 

here is Susan spreading PEACE"

 

 

Nativity figure returned, pink flamingos take flight

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, December 23, 2003

BY SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
Journal Staff Writer

CRANSTON -- After a three-day hiatus, the baby Jesus has returned to his place in front of City Hall, but several more plastic pink flamingos have taken flight.

At the same time, Mayor Stephen P. Laffey has closed the site to new displays, saying the space is getting cramped and he does not want new items to detract from those already present.

The Christ child was taken from the Nativity sometime Thursday night, but thanks to a chance encounter, he was back in place yesterday morning.

Two police officers who saw a television news story about the theft Saturday night recalled seeing a baby Jesus figure at a home where they had responded for a disturbance two nights earlier.

A 19-year-old Arcadia Avenue resident had called the police to break up a fight with friends at his home. One of them left the baby Jesus on his steps, scrawled with derogatory comments in red lipstick.

The police thought nothing of the figure until seeing the news report. They returned Saturday night and retrieved it. The owner of the figure, Jerome Geller, did not want to press charges.

In the last week, several of the 15 pink flamingos placed on the display have also disappeared.

Their creator, Scott Bonelli, has a basement stockpile of more than 40 flamingos and was preparing to replace the stolen ones when he got an anonymous phone call Sunday. The caller was walking at Fay Field when he spotted one flamingo, still wearing its small Santa Claus cap, on the pitcher's mound. Later, he discovered two more on a wooded path near the field.

Bonelli said they were returned to their rightful place on the front lawn of City Hall, but that more are now missing. As of yesterday afternoon, 11 out of the original 15 flamingos -- some replacement birds -- were on display.

With staff reports from Barbara Polichetti.

..and a special note to the Providence Journal, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

 

FUN E-MAIL: Monday, December 22, 2003 11:50 AM

Holy Crap Scott, You have 45 flamingos on your front lawn. How the hell do
you mow? or are they just seasonal decorations?
Annie

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 22 1003,  ???p.m..

just got a call from MOM ... ( she is sort of the press secretary for the church)  she told me that this whole issue was being discussed on NATIONAL TV and that I should turn on  Bill O'Reilly's FOX News show, The O'Reilly Factor.. looks like we got a mention on the national level...   the mayor did a few national radio spots as well.. but I cant confirm that the flamingo flock was mentioned 

if anyone out there has seen this listed in the paper, or has seen television coverage.. please let me know !!!

FUN E-MAIL: Monday, December 22, 2003 11:09 AM

I see you are stirring up shit in your neck of the woods .....sounds like fun, can you tell me what the Church of the Pink Flamingos is all about. Let me know if I can help your cause later buddy
 
Eric

 

FUN E-MAIL: Monday, December 22, 2003 12:30 PM

Fucking Awesome!

And better yet, he1s from MY neck of the woods!

I was born and raised in Westerly RI, just a snowball1s throw from Cranston!


Thax , you made my day.

-Ken

 

FUN E-MAIL: Monday, December 22, 2003 1:46 PM

Scott that is great! 

I think it was really cool of you and am looking to
join any church that supports frivolity!

As for the radio guy, if he spent less time being a
DILDO, maybe he could be a real shock jock instead of
trying his best to be Howard Stern or Mancow by
excessive use of the word DILDO. 

I like how they constantly refer to you as 'Bonelli,
who designs theater sets and creates adult sex toys,'!
 Too funny!

have a happy um..
Flamingo day

jaye!

FUN E-MAIL: Monday, December 22, 2003 11:06 PM

I'm am soooo fucking loving this Scott....
once again the ACLU is proving themselves to be a bunch of total
nitwits and assholes
rock on sir!~
has there been a ransom note for the
flamingos?
;)

 

FUN E-MAIL: Monday, December 22, 2003 6:42 PM

Happy Flamingo Day to you

I love it finally a holiday I can sink my beak into....

.....I hope you have a fun holiday and hope to see you in the New year.
Love Deb

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 23 1003,  7:30 a.m..

Special thanks to , for forwarding the online version of the Boston Globe article..  ( its posted above, on the Dec.21st update.)  Temptress tells us that he will have the First official rock and roll hymn of the church of the pink flamingos ready soon... please keep checking back... 

ALCU sues Cranston for holiday display

The federal lawsuit seeks to keep decorations with a religious theme off the City Hall lawn.

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, December 23, 2003

BY SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE -- The Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit yesterday claiming that the holiday display in front of Cranston City Hall violates the Constitution.

The ACLU is not asking the court to force the removal of the display -- which is scheduled to come down Jan. 1 -- but is suing the city and Mayor Stephen P. Laffey to block the display in future years.

Earlier in the month, Laffey invited residents to put seasonal decorations that he deemed appropriate on City Hall's front lawn. A menorah was the first item erected, soon followed by an inflatable Santa and snowman, and then by a Nativity scene. Other additions include 15 pink flamingos wearing Santa hats, a "season's greetings" sign from the Teamsters, an angel and plastic snow dogs.

The ACLU takes particular issue with the menorah and Nativity scene, symbols that it says deliver religious messages.

"Placement of these religious symbols at the threshold of the seat of government for the City of Cranston . . . has the principal and primary effect of advancing religion and [conveys] a plain message that the [city and Laffey] endorse, sanction, promote, support and approve of the overtly religious message," the lawsuit says.

ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown said that the snowman, Santas and other nonreligious aspects of the display are there simply to circumvent legal precedents regarding the separation of church and state.

Brown went one step further, saying it "seems likely" that Laffey invited people to display the objects simply so he could obtain publicity and gain political points.

Laffey denied the accusation, but the display yesterday catapulted the Republican mayor once again onto the national media airwaves. He appeared on conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly's FOX News show, The O'Reilly Factor, spoke to CBS radio's national news audience, and did a radio interview with Oliver North, the guest host of the nationally syndicated Sean Hannity Show.

"Obviously, nobody is trying to establish any new state religion here. It's just a freedom of expression, and I always thought the ACLU was for free expression," Laffey said outside City Hall yesterday. "We can see that when Dickens wrote about Scrooge or Dr. Seuss wrote about the Grinch, they weren't just fictional characters. They really exist, and I can only hope that between now and Christmas Day, the ACLU sees the Ghost of Christmas future and changes its heart about the holiday season."

Laffey said the ACLU is "a very extreme group" taking a position that 90 percent of the public doesn't support.

The mayor said that before encouraging the placement of items on the front lawn, he got the free legal advice of two specialists: Norman G. Orodenker, the partner overseeing the city's legal work at the Providence law firm of Tillinghast Licht Perkins Smith & Cohen, and Thomas Marcelle, his college roommate, who successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001 that the use of a school for meetings by a Christian organization was constitutional.

"Does anybody see the establishment of a church here?" Laffey asked reporters gathered outside City Hall yesterday. "I didn't think so."

THE ACLU, however, sees things differently.

"In order to conduct city business in Cranston City Hall, anyone must pass a 5-foot-high menorah and a life-sized Nativity scene," said lawyer Miriam Weizenbaum, who along with Amato A. DeLuca, is representing the ACLU for free. "They create the appearance that the city is endorsing religion."

The ACLU is bringing the lawsuit on behalf of Grace C. Osediacz, a Cranston resident who has directed an after school program for the School Department at Bain Middle School since June.

Osediacz said that on Dec. 15 she was leaving a meeting at the school administration building next to City Hall, saw the display and called the ACLU.

"I feel very strongly that religion simply is not the business of government. Rhode Island was founded on the principle that religion and government should be separate," Osediacz said. "I'm really outraged that any public official would invite the placement of religious symbols right in front of City Hall, at the seat of government."

Osediacz declined to identify what religion, if any, she practices, saying "that's my business and no one else's."

The ACLU also takes issue with a City Hall policy that calls for "appropriate holiday and seasonal decoration[s]" and leaves it up to the mayor to decide what is and is not proper.

"The policy gives the mayor complete discretion to decide what types of displays -- displays being a form of speech -- are acceptable, without any guidelines whatsoever," Weizenbaum said.

IN THE 1980S, Pawtucket faced a similar lawsuit from the ACLU. That case was eventually settled in 1984 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the city's favor. The city annually erected a display in a park owned by a nonprofit organization in the heart of the city's shopping district. The display included reindeer, a Santa Claus, a Christmas tree, a banner reading "Season's Greetings," and a Nativity scene. Virtually unchanged, the display is now at a city park.

The ACLU said yesterday this case is different because Cranston's display is at the seat of city government and is much smaller than the Pawtucket display. In addition, the snowman and Santa were placed there after the menorah "as a pretext" to allow the city to pass constitutional muster, the ACLU said.

When asked about menorahs at Providence City Hall and the State House, the ACLU's Brown said he also had concerns about those, but no member of the public has complained. (Representatives from Providence and the governor's office said their displays are legal.)

Laffey says it will cost the city nothing to defend the case. However, if defeated, the city might be ordered to pay the ACLU's legal costs.

Three national conservative organizations -- the American Center for Law and Justice, the Rutherford Institute, and the Alliance Defense Fund -- have all volunteered their services to the city.

The Alliance Defense Fund says it provides "the resources that will keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel through the legal defense and advocacy of religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and traditional family values."

..and a special note to the Providence Journal, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

FUN E-MAIL: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 12:02 Am

Re: flamingo "egregious outrage"

this is too hilarious !!!! ... I can't wait to see what happens with
all these bogus legal actions ..... I'm still waiting for the
electrical chinchilla fur thing also .... Have a happy holidays ..
thanks for all the entertainment :)

Officer WILL

 

FUN E-MAIL: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 10:51 AM

Hey Scott,
 
May I please join the church of the "Pink" -
Flamingo...?
Do I have to be baptized? circumcised? Austrosized? resized?
 Please send me the application form today so I can start contributing to the greater good of the world !!! Thank you for the updates.. Funny boy
Thank you for your time & expertise on this...
All the best
Steven

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 23 1003,  3:30 p.m.

Great news...  the church has a friend in Tony, from Big Teaze Toys in Woodland Hilly CA.     The church has just received the generous donation of 12 "I Rub My Duckies" to replace the missing Flamingos... ..Although Tony is not making this donation as a protest , or a political statement of any kind,  he wants to show the world a little unity between plastic waterfowl this holiday season, with hopes that this ridiculous blending of ducks and flamingos can help bring peace and unity to world.. and it is in this spirit of frivolity that he supports the city hall display.

thanks Tony, for supporting the work of the "church".  May you be blessed by the Great flamingo,


FUN E-MAIL: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 2:11 PM

You've done a good thing.
I wish someone would put up a pentacle or Goddess figure, and get some fur really and appropriately flying !!!
--
R. D. Flowers, O. H.
The Bear At Home

Allies first.

The ducks have joined the flamingo flock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

welcome to the media "frenzy"  ...this is the Channel 6 WLNE TV (CBS) camera guy, capturing what only can be thought of a "art"   the man should get an EMMY for his camera work... it looked great on the 6 P.M. news....   .. I didn't see it , but I'm sure the story made the 11 P.M. news as well 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

here we have an angry old man.. he doesn't like the flamingos or ducks at all... 

he is shown in the second photo with a little smile.. he does like the Manger scene.. 

but refused to pose with the Menorah !!  

"Ace Reporter" Scott Mayerowitz from the Providence Journal is shown here with the CH. 6 photographer.. if only I had the camera out seconds later... Scott was seen "dancing in celebration" among the flamingo flock... (honest.. I swear !!! )   ok .. so he might have been tripping over them... but he did have spirit !!

FUN E-MAIL: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 4:33 PM

I'm a new church convert!

Hey Todd!  
You are a genius my friend. Your
Flamingo stunt was brilliant.
This only further confirms to me what a crazy cat your are.
...or was that what a "master booboo kitty" you are?

Although I'm an ACLU member, I even have to laugh at what
the ACLU does sometimes. I just can't understand that they
can't grasp the equality of the whole situation that you started.

Maybe I should pop up and post a "Church of the Pornament" ornament
on the lawn --or better yet a big fat flaming Pentagram.

Can't anyone take a joke nowadays?

I mean look at the holidays themselves, their concepts alone
are pure comedy:

Chanukah: A lamp had enough oil for 8 days. ohh a miracle!

Christmas: Some dude says he wasn't what we would normally call
a bastard, but instead he said his mom was knocked up by God
making him better than everyone else as the son of God --A being who never
does anything, says anything or is ever seen yet somehow exists.
Great. A religion derived from a dude who was jealous of people
who knew their fathers.

Kwanza: Not sure what this is. It has something to do with
former slaves somehow being thankful they were stolen from Africa. Huh?!?

OK enough ranting...

May you have a
big pink FLAMINGO! (I hope I am getting this correct.
That is the holiday greeting for Flamingo day, right?)

Cheers,
Ed Flynn
Rubberroom Pornaments

(just a quick note.. I was called Todd for a short time while in prison)

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 23 1003,  4:45 p.m. ?

I just got a call from Scott, the reporter for the Providence Journal..  he told me that he just got a call from the Mayors office.. they have removed the ducks..  he wanted to know if I had any thoughts.. ??    well,  it was nice to be offered the chance to get the last word in.. 

.. the ducks were shown on CH. 6 news... and they looked right at home supporting their plastic avian allies in the field ,  standing in unity, for peace, love, and Frivolity.. ( and oh, yeah.. pants are optional in the church)   ...I didn't bother to watch CH 12 or 10..  

FUN E-MAIL: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 10:40 PM

Scott,
If you want the
flamingo back again, send $100 to the ACLU.  Email me a
copy of the canceled check, and I will send the
pink goose!

P.S.  Know anybody who wants this little white baby thingy back, and
what charity would be appropriate?

Dan Salamie <dsmail@att.net>

My Reply To Dan

H I Dan..
.. I do support the A.C.L.U. !  I think that for the most part they do a great job..   perhaps this little protest is to help them show that the lawn should not be a public forum...  ...  my opinion.. is that while I'm not against the use of the lawn for a display...  I feel that the mayor is not the person to decide what's in good taste.. or an affront to the people on Cranston...I think that the government should step out of the picture completely..
..  so, how do I know that the flamingo is OK.. send me a photo of him with today's newspaper.. and we will see...
 
Scott Bonelli

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 24 1003,  8:00 a.m.

I was just told that the ducks got a mention on the Channel 10 (wpri)  morning news  I didn't see it,  

and here we have a few more mentions in the news paper ...

Vibrating rubber ducks pulled from Yule display

They were donated by a sex-toy manufacturer, and besides, the exhibition at Cranston City Hall was already full.

01:00 AM EST on Wednesday, December 24, 2003

BY SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
Journal Staff Writer

CRANSTON -- A dozen vibrating rubber duckies, provided by a California sex-toy manufacturer, briefly joined the eclectic holiday display outside City Hall yesterday afternoon.

Within an hour of their arrival, Mayor Stephen P. Laffey's staff plucked the yellow ducks, saying the exhibition was already full.

The toys were placed by Scott Bonelli, who last week added 15 pink flamingos wearing Santa hats to the display, which now includes a Nativity scene, a menorah and several secular items.

Many of the flamingos have since been stolen, and Bonelli keeps replacing them only to find the birds missing again.

The owner of the California company -- which lists Bonelli as a local retailer -- gave him a dozen ducks to set out.

"As far as I'm concerned, they're waterfowl," Bonelli said. "Since I'm missing flamingos, I'm merely replacing them -- like Jesus was missing, now Jesus is back . . . frankly, I'm running out of flamingos."

The baby Jesus figure was stolen from the Nativity scene Thursday night, but was later recovered by police officers who discovered it while responding to a fight on Arcadia Avenue.

Laffey's office did not see things the same way as Bonelli.

On Monday morning, Laffey closed the exhibition to new items, saying the best spots were taken and the lawn was getting cluttered.

(He did say exceptions might be made. For instance, the mayor said he wanted a display for Kwanzaa, an African-American cultural festival.)

Laffey's director of administration, Robin Muksian-Schutt, ordered the ducks removed yesterday. She said they were not removed because of their adult nature.

The mayor invited residents this month to contribute to the holiday display. Before items were placed on the lawn, the mayor or his designee needed to approve them. (The Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Monday saying that having a Nativity scene and a menorah in front of "the seat of government" is unconstitutional.)

Bonelli took issue with Laffey's policy, saying the mayor should not be "the final arbiter of good taste."

"I'm not mocking religion," he said. "I'm mocking the . . . process of the government. It's silly. It's totally silly."

When told of the city's decision to remove his ducks, Bonelli said, "I don't necessarily agree with it, but no harm, no fowl."

AND THIS 

ALCU sues Cranston for holiday display

The federal lawsuit seeks to keep decorations with a religious theme off the City Hall lawn.

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, December 23, 2003

BY SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE -- The Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit yesterday claiming that the holiday display in front of Cranston City Hall violates the Constitution.

The ACLU is not asking the court to force the removal of the display -- which is scheduled to come down Jan. 1 -- but is suing the city and Mayor Stephen P. Laffey to block the display in future years.

Earlier in the month, Laffey invited residents to put seasonal decorations that he deemed appropriate on City Hall's front lawn. A menorah was the first item erected, soon followed by an inflatable Santa and snowman, and then by a Nativity scene. Other additions include 15 pink flamingos wearing Santa hats, a "season's greetings" sign from the Teamsters, an angel and plastic snow dogs.

The ACLU takes particular issue with the menorah and Nativity scene, symbols that it says deliver religious messages.

"Placement of these religious symbols at the threshold of the seat of government for the City of Cranston . . . has the principal and primary effect of advancing religion and [conveys] a plain message that the [city and Laffey] endorse, sanction, promote, support and approve of the overtly religious message," the lawsuit says.

ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown said that the snowman, Santas and other nonreligious aspects of the display are there simply to circumvent legal precedents regarding the separation of church and state.

Brown went one step further, saying it "seems likely" that Laffey invited people to display the objects simply so he could obtain publicity and gain political points.

Laffey denied the accusation, but the display yesterday catapulted the Republican mayor once again onto the national media airwaves. He appeared on conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly's FOX News show, The O'Reilly Factor, spoke to CBS radio's national news audience, and did a radio interview with Oliver North, the guest host of the nationally syndicated Sean Hannity Show.

"Obviously, nobody is trying to establish any new state religion here. It's just a freedom of expression, and I always thought the ACLU was for free expression," Laffey said outside City Hall yesterday. "We can see that when Dickens wrote about Scrooge or Dr. Seuss wrote about the Grinch, they weren't just fictional characters. They really exist, and I can only hope that between now and Christmas Day, the ACLU sees the Ghost of Christmas future and changes its heart about the holiday season."

Laffey said the ACLU is "a very extreme group" taking a position that 90 percent of the public doesn't support.

The mayor said that before encouraging the placement of items on the front lawn, he got the free legal advice of two specialists: Norman G. Orodenker, the partner overseeing the city's legal work at the Providence law firm of Tillinghast Licht Perkins Smith & Cohen, and Thomas Marcelle, his college roommate, who successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001 that the use of a school for meetings by a Christian organization was constitutional.

"Does anybody see the establishment of a church here?" Laffey asked reporters gathered outside City Hall yesterday. "I didn't think so."

THE ACLU, however, sees things differently.

"In order to conduct city business in Cranston City Hall, anyone must pass a 5-foot-high menorah and a life-sized Nativity scene," said lawyer Miriam Weizenbaum, who along with Amato A. DeLuca, is representing the ACLU for free. "They create the appearance that the city is endorsing religion."

The ACLU is bringing the lawsuit on behalf of Grace C. Osediacz, a Cranston resident who has directed an after school program for the School Department at Bain Middle School since June.

Osediacz said that on Dec. 15 she was leaving a meeting at the school administration building next to City Hall, saw the display and called the ACLU.

"I feel very strongly that religion simply is not the business of government. Rhode Island was founded on the principle that religion and government should be separate," Osediacz said. "I'm really outraged that any public official would invite the placement of religious symbols right in front of City Hall, at the seat of government."

Osediacz declined to identify what religion, if any, she practices, saying "that's my business and no one else's."

The ACLU also takes issue with a City Hall policy that calls for "appropriate holiday and seasonal decoration[s]" and leaves it up to the mayor to decide what is and is not proper.

"The policy gives the mayor complete discretion to decide what types of displays -- displays being a form of speech -- are acceptable, without any guidelines whatsoever," Weizenbaum said.

IN THE 1980S, Pawtucket faced a similar lawsuit from the ACLU. That case was eventually settled in 1984 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the city's favor. The city annually erected a display in a park owned by a nonprofit organization in the heart of the city's shopping district. The display included reindeer, a Santa Claus, a Christmas tree, a banner reading "Season's Greetings," and a Nativity scene. Virtually unchanged, the display is now at a city park.

The ACLU said yesterday this case is different because Cranston's display is at the seat of city government and is much smaller than the Pawtucket display. In addition, the snowman and Santa were placed there after the menorah "as a pretext" to allow the city to pass constitutional muster, the ACLU said.

When asked about menorahs at Providence City Hall and the State House, the ACLU's Brown said he also had concerns about those, but no member of the public has complained. (Representatives from Providence and the governor's office said their displays are legal.)

Laffey says it will cost the city nothing to defend the case. However, if defeated, the city might be ordered to pay the ACLU's legal costs.

Three national conservative organizations -- the American Center for Law and Justice, the Rutherford Institute, and the Alliance Defense Fund -- have all volunteered their services to the city.

The Alliance Defense Fund says it provides "the resources that will keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel through the legal defense and advocacy of religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and traditional family values."

.and a special thank you to the Providence Journal, who holds the copyright to this piece.. thanks for not asking me  to remove these news articles... PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

FUN E-MAIL: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 11:33 PM

Once again, I wish to express my admiration of the whole flamingo thing that you did/ are doing.
R. D. Flowers 

 

FUN E-MAIL: Wednesday, December 24, 2003 2:18 AM 

Pink Flamingo,,, spread the love, peace and frivolity

Scott,
We sent out a piece on the Church of the Pink Flamingo to our mailing list of over 35K,,,its posted at   we also added the story from the Xmas mailer to our website on page one, all you have to do is click on the picture you took of Tony, Britni and friends on stage with me in San Francisco, I can still taste those Pina Colada's you were passing around.
 
We have a lot of press on our mailing list, maybe a few more will catch one to the story..
 
BTW,,,its "Reverend Temptress" my audience has no idea who XXXX is....they're already confused,,,
 
Spread the word of the Church of the Pink Flamingo
 
Make Love, Promote Peace and Be Frivolous !!!
 
Happy Pink Flamingo Day to All, and  To All A Happy Pink Flamingo Day
 
Temptress
c/o ICBM Productions and Management
191 Chandler Road
Andover, MA 01810
 
Tel: 978-688-4635
Fax: 978-688-3980

want to get a flock ?? 

when you contact them.. let them know I sent you 

 Dear Scott,
 Our minimum order is $100.00 plus shipping or there is a $25.00 handling fee.
We sell the flamingos in bulk 16 birds to a carton for $33.44 a carton.
All orders are placed by fax 978-537-0050 or by mail UNION PRODUCTS 511 LANCASTER ST. LEOMINSTER, MA. 01453.

Linda

FUN E-MAIL: Wednesday, December 24, 2003 12:33 PM

Re: Missing flamingo

Scott,
I know what your opinion is, it is very clear, about the Mayor and the ACLU.
I just wanted to point out that perhaps with all this attention, you have
forgotten how to take a JOKE! And a charitable joke at that.

My Reply To Dan

Hey Dan..
.. happy to hear that my point is clear...   hell I got the joke... and I laughed my ass off when I got the ransom note..    I have contributed to the A.C.L.U. in the past... and can't afford to send them another check now..   ..what with having to replace all of the missing birds . 
    so, I have to ask.. do you take a bird, or is that  part of the joke...  and if you do have it .. you have to place him in the front lawn of your house.. 
 
spread the love.. spread the peace.. ( pants are optional )
 
Scott

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 24 1003,  3:00 p.m.

I just checked in on the flock,  and there are still 11 birds...  no "wanderers over night..     I have not heard from the mayors office... I would have thought that he would have called to let me know he has the ducks...

.. and I would have thought that Bob Kerr might have replied to my e-mail..    oh well.. 

FUN E-MAIL: Wednesday, December 24, 2003 8:06 AM

From: Eric 
Subject: IT IS RIGHT TO GIVE THANKS & PRAISE...

TO THE CHURCH OF THE PINK FLAMINGO!!!
THAT'S ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I'VE HEARD OF IN A LONG TIME!!!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU & YOURS.
I'LL BE THINKING OF YA WHILE I'M DRAGGING MY BALLS THROUGH THE MASHED POTATOES.
 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 25 1003,  1:00 p.m.

got an e-mail from some dude who wants to interview me for a cable access show...  will post details as I get them

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 25 1003

from the Cranston Herald

12/25/2003
Laffey calls newest suit baseless
By DAVID LEVEILLEE

Not even holiday celebrations could disrupt what has become a yearlong relationship between Mayor Stephen Laffey and America’s judicial system, as the American Civil Liberties Union on Monday filed a federal lawsuit in response to the display outside Cranston City Hall. The group is arguing that the presence of the display, which includes a menorah, a nativity scene, an inflatable Santa Claus and a group of pink flamingos, violates the Constitution.

“We’re challenging the presence of the menorah and the nativity scene on first amendment grounds,” ACLU Rhode Island Executive Director Stephen Brown said Tuesday. He said that the presence of religious symbols on public grounds is a direct violation of church and state separation principals.

In addition to the display’s presence, Brown submitted that the temporary nature of the display is also unconstitutional. All items currently displayed on City Hall grounds are to be removed January 1, 2004.

“To open up the display for one month out of the year is not being faithful to the First Amendment,” Brown said. “If you were truly interested in facilitating public displays in front of City Hall,” he asked, “wouldn’t you want to encourage it throughout the entire year?”

An additional point in the ACLU’s legal argument deals with the “subjective nature of the selection process” regarding the display. Laffey’s office has composed a seven-point policy letter detailing, among other things, that “the mayor or his designee must approve all holiday and seasonal decorations” and that all decorators must sign a waver absolving the city of any responsibility for damages to the decorations.”

When questioned about the ultimate motivation for the lawsuit, Brown acknowledged that the displays will likely remain until the New Year, but an ACLU success in the courtroom would prevent the display for future years. During his comments Tuesday, he also questioned reports that indicated overwhelming support for the displays, noting that his office has received “several dozen” complaints from concerned Cranston citizens.

When asked for comment earlier this week, Laffey had no problem defending the city display.

“I think people in Cranston and across the country are seeing that the ACLU has taken an extreme position on this whole issue,” he said. “They’re all right with a snowman on the lawn, but heaven forbid there’s a menorah up there. This is proof that the Grinch and Scrooge are real and they’re working at the ACLU,” he said, adding that citizen-produced displays were appropriate as City Hall is “the taxpayer’s land.”

Laffey dismissed a question regarding the possibility that the city would pay court costs if their defense of the lawsuit is unsuccessful.

“The ACLU really doesn’t have a case on this,” he said. “We got solid legal advice before we even went ahead with this idea.”

Laffey also said that the high-profile battle over the display was “a productive one” for Cranston citizens.

“People love seeing a variety of seasonal displays at this time of year,” he said. “This battle is consistent with my style of governing, which is to stand up and do the right thing.”

While Laffey has denied using his holiday decoration policy as a publicity stunt, the fracas surrounding the display has recently raised his profile substantially. As of Tuesday night, Laffey had completed interviews with CBS Radio, guest host Oliver North on “The Sean Hannity Show” and a televised stint with former Ohio Congressman John Kasich, guest host of FOX’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” The latter interview, which aired Monday evening, was highly critical of the ACLU lawsuit; at one point, Kasich volunteered that he was “sick of all this diversity…what I’d like to see is a little common sense.”

..and a special note to the Cranston Herald, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME ! 

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 26 1003,  1:00 p.m.

I have yet to check the flock..  lets hope they are OK... no news from the mayors office, the councilman, the press...   its nice.. its been quiet

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 28 1003,  1:00 p.m.

I checked on the flamingos today.. and there were 9 !!  

... went to that cable access show today...   well it was like "Wayne's World", .. only not funny.... and to think, I thought that  that I had the sole rights to the "self serving masturbatory experience"..  this thing  was so not funny.. it was filmed in a stinky basement..  there were piles of porn all over the place..  just an odd experience.. but hey , its late night public access, produced by  star trek geeks.. what did I expect.. 

 

.. the show is called "voices in ya' head"  and it will air on Sunday night at 11 pm, on state wide public access.. ( that's channel 13 or 14 on the COX cable system)  for those who care.. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 28 1003,  10:00 p.m.

Just found this mention today, in the Providence Phoenix...   here is an excerpt of the relevant portion..    (OK... so its all "relevant" ... this is the part that is self serving and masturbatory) 

 

What a wonderful world

Issue Date: December 26, 2003 - January 1, 2004

KUDOS AND CONGRATS.....

.... to Scott Bonelli, who donated a flock of pink flamingos in Santa hats for the display on the lawn of Cranston City Hall. The only thing that surprises us is how, when the figure of the Christ child was apparently kidnapped from its manger, the abductor (or abductors) did not replace it with one of the ubiquitous Mr. Potato Head figurines that dot the Vo Dilun landscape.

In the Urinal’s zeal to prop up anything done by Cranston Mayor Steve "Daffy" Laffey, regardless of how boneheaded, the Other Paper pitched in with an editorial on Sunday, lauding the ridiculous exhibit. At one point, the nameless Other Paper editorial scribe claimed that Laffey, "seems to have a better understanding of First Amendment freedoms than does the ACLU." We think Bonelli is the First Amendment hero here.

.

for the full article.. click here.. 

..and a special note to the Providence Phoenix, Philippe, and Jorge, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

Hey Philippe, and Jorge thanks for the Kudos.. (and congrats)  

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 29 1003,  9a.m.

..I just now I received a call from the Cranston police department... I was told by the officer that he had just today received the file on this case... as there were a lot of rapes and murders this holiday season.. but he was careful not to belittle the seriousness of the crime... even when I was telling him it wasn't a big deal.. I just wanted the cops to have a phone number to call if more Flamingos show up at the station.. 

.. I was told that the case would remain open, and was under investigation...  

.. this worries me.. if there are all that many rapes and murders in Cranston,  shouldn't they devote all of the force to serious crime,  and sort of screw the flamingo investigation.. I would be totally cool with that...   when I mentioned this to the officer.. he bent over backwards to tell me that they were handling this as a serious crime...  I think he was a little paranoid.   damn it.. I don't want a moments time wasted, by the cops .. I just wanted them to have my contact information, 

    I only found 6 only Flamingos today..   so I have pulled the  festive flamingo display.

....all hail the Great flamingo, may his spirit live on in all of us !!

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 29 1003,  4:45 p.m.

    I just now got a call from the mayors office.. they have some ducks for me to pick up.. didn't say how many.. and offered no explanation as to why they were removed..  ]

.... you just know that ill be passing them out to the girls in the office tomorrow, when I go to pick them up !!

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 30 1003,  10:00 a.m.

    this morning I performed the dreaded "self google" ( ) and No,  its not some strange sexual thing. I was simply  wandering the web ,  looking to see if I could find mention in the village voice.  I didn't .. but I found this mention in a "blog" from some dude in Rhode Island..  the random rants in his life put into a handy, easy to read web site..  .. scroll down to his Dec. 23rd entry.. not only does "Jim" have some strong views about the A.C.L.U. and the 1st amendment.. he also used the word "Fucknugget"   .. finding mention of this in someone's personal web ranting is all too amusing.   

.. just received notice from on of the high priestess that the Flamingos were shown on local Fox news again last night...   must be old footage as the little guys have been removed.... lets hear it for the crack news team @ Fox !!

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 30 1003,  1:00 p.m.

.. I went to pick up the Ducks today.. and talked to Laffey's director of administration, Robin Muksian-Schutt.  ...what a nice lady... and she seemed to like the flamingos !  she was the kind shepherd to the duck flock .. kept them warm in a little bag beside the desk, until I came for them...  I did notice that one of the Ducks had batteries installed..  and I know I didn't leave them that way.... Robin informed me that an un-named city employee was trying to figure out how to turn the duck on , and installed the batteries .. "just to see".. and I was also told that it wasn't done on "city time".   sure.. I believe that !!.. I couldn't imagine city employees Quacking off on company time !!

.. Robin and I talked for a while.. and I had a great time...   hell this whole thing is funny.... she told me that the Washington Times     picked up on the story,  but wasn't sure if they mentioned the flamingos.  I tried searching the site but couldn't find a thing... they were updating the site, so ill try back later.. and post whatever I find..  if anyone has the paper, please let me know, I would love to see it

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 31 1003,  8:00 p.m.

thanks got out to ... who appears to be the "media relations Tsar" for the church..   she sent a couple more  great "google " finds

  for another "interesting" take on the church and state issue..   you might think that Jan would understand that the A.C.L.U. is not prohibiting religion,  but rather the governments endorsement of one. 

and

  from the Providence Journal..  both items published on the 29th...  it looks like a few freaky groups have offered help to the city defending itself against the dreaded A.C.L.U.  

December 29, 2003

What is the Deal with Prohibiting Religion?

Jan Larson

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
- US Constitution, Amendment I

Just about everyone in the United States has probably least heard of, or maybe even experienced, a case where some long-standing tradition such as the display of a nativity scene, the singing of Christmas songs or the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance has been subject to legal challenge. In far too many of these cases, the challenges have been upheld under the premise of the separation of church and state.

Language evolves over time and some of the language and phrases used by the founders in the Constitution are not entirely easy to understand for many people today. However, it seems pretty clear to me what the above portion of the First Amendment means.

Congress, not city councils, state legislators or junior high teachers, but Congress shall not make any law that establishes a religion. In addition, Congress shall not make any law that precludes anyone from practicing his or her religion. Pretty simple, it seems to me.

These two simple statements have evolved, through judicial rulings over the years, to effectively mean that nothing that may be viewed by anyone as having a religious connotation may exist or be practiced in any way in any institution that could be considered "the government." How does singing a traditional Christmas carol in a school have anything to do with Congress establishing a religion?

To be clear, I do not favor religion or religious advocacy emanating from government entities. I do have a problem with the fact that the second clause of the First Amendment is not being defended. Just as government shall not establish or promote a particular religion, government shall not prohibit the free exercise of religion.

The mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, Stephen Laffey, appeared on The O'Reilly Factor last week and defended his decision to allow a nativity scene and a menorah, along with several other non-religious items including a group of plastic pink flamingos, to be displayed on the front lawn of the Cranston city hall. Naturally the ACLU is challenging these "religious" displays claiming that their display on public property constitutes an "establishment" of religion.

Preposterous.

The ACLU and other left-wing extremists that fight so hard to protect the sanctity of the so-called "establishment clause" of the Constitution might want to take a look at the preamble to the Constitution:

We the People of the United States ... .

The government is not some faceless monolith, but it is "we" the people. Government entities at all levels are not "things" but are "we the people." The public property that is so vigorously defended by the ACLU is "our" property. "We" can use that property as "we" see fit.

Any attempt to prohibit the use of public property for the display of religious symbols stands contrary to "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Mayor Laffey, in the aforementioned interview, stated that his approach is one of inclusion and that the only restrictions on the displays are that they must not be obscene or in some other way offensive. Displays representing different religions are welcomed. In other words, the mayor is using common sense and is allowing the all of the "people" to use "their" property as they see fit. The ACLU's position as a defender of the Constitution notwithstanding, this is how it should be.

There is no "establishment" of religion in this case or in many similar cases. This is simply a case of the people of Cranston using "their" public property to celebrate the holiday season. The ACLU should be defending the rights of citizens to exercise their chosen religion, not trying to drive all religious expression from the society, as some (a vocal minority) would prefer.

We could use a lot more common sense in this country when it comes to "public" use of "public" property. With the dawn of a new year just a few days away, would it be too much to ask that we resolve to use some common sense in 2004? Unfortunately, the answer is that it probably is too much to ask.

###

Jan A. Larson is currently employed in private industry in Texas. He is a staunch supporter of honesty in government, fiscal conservatism and equal opportunity for all. He holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Nebraska, a master of science degree from the University of Kansas and an MBA from Colorado State University.
jan@pieofknowledge.com

a special note to  OpinionEditorials.com, and Jan A. Larson who hold the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

4 conservative groups offer to defend city against ACLU suit

01:00 AM EST on Monday, December 29, 2003

By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
Journal Staff Writer

CRANSTON -- Four conservative organizations have volunteered to defend the city, at no cost, against a federal lawsuit brought by the Rhode island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union over the city's holiday display.

Offering their services are, thus far, the American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy, the American Center for Law and Justice, the Rutherford Institute and the Alliance Defense Fund.

Most of those groups say they work to promote traditional families values. Issues that they have fought for include outlawing abortions, allowing public displays of the Ten Commandments, stopping same-sex marriages and promoting school prayer.

At issue is the holiday display in front of City Hall that is an amalgam of diverse exhibits placed by residents at the invitation of Mayor Stephen P. Laffey. Besides a Nativity scene and a menorah -- the items the prompted the ACLU lawsuit -- it includes Santas, a snowman, a flock of pink flamingos and a Seasons Greetings sign posted by a local of the Teamsters.

The ACLU suit, filed in U.S. District Court, Providence, contends that the display, "at the seat of city government," violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

City Solicitor Jametta O. Alston is reviewing the conservative groups that offered to defend the city and will suggest which offer, if any, the city should accept, Laffey said.

THE AMERICAN FAMILY Association's Center for Law and Policy, based in Tupelo, Miss., "responds to the requests of Christians for legal representation involving First Amendment free-speech and free-exercise rights as well as the constitutional issues involved in the continuing battle against pornography and obscenity," according to its Web site. Its policy positions derive from the Bible and follow the belief that the law of the Creator is the true law.

The American Family Association is currently leading boycotts against the Walt Disney Company, for supporting "the pro-homosexual agenda through corporate practices;" Abercrombie & Fitch, for "use of soft-core pornography in company catalogs aimed at young and teenaged consumers," and KMart, for the sale of adult-rated music CDs.

The group has also targeted for the types of books it sells; J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, because they train children "to see opposing forces from a pagan, not a Biblical perspective" and the National Endowment for the Arts, for using tax dollars "to fund obscene and sexually explicit 'art' depicting the homosexual lifestyle and denigrating Christ and the Christian religion."

THE ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND, in Scottsdale, Ariz., "provides the resources that will keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel through the legal defense and advocacy of religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and traditional family values."

The group was launched in 1993 by the leaders of more than 30 ministries, according to the group's Web site.

"Their prime concern was the dramatic loss of religious freedom in America's courts and the resulting challenges to people of faith to live and proclaim the Gospel," the site says.

The Alliance Defense Fund has argued successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court that Congress can mandate that publicly supported libraries provide Internet filtering devices on computers to protect children.

It also won a court ruling, according to its Web site, that "peaceful pro-life activists were not in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute and other laws that called for triple damages and were designed to cripple criminal enterprises." The group also won a case upholding of Ohio's school-voucher program.

The Alliance Defense fund lists as one of its victories the case Good News Club v. Milford (N.Y.) Central Schools. Thomas Marcelle -- who was Mayor Laffey's roommate at Bowdoin College -- successfully argued that case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001. The court ruled that the Milford Central Schools could not prohibit the Good News Club, a private Christian organization for children, from using the schools -- as other groups did -- for its meetings.

(The Rutherford Institute also includes that case in its list of victories.)

THE AMERICAN CENTER for Law and Justice, in Virginia Beach, Va., was founded in 1990 by televangelist Pat Robertson "to undo the damage done by almost a century of liberal thinking and activism."

The organization says it is "dedicated to defending and advancing religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and the two-parent, marriage-bound family," according to its Web site.

"When students are told they cannot start Bible clubs in their schools, or when their Bible clubs don't receive equal treatment like other clubs, our legal teams spring into action to defend the student's rights."

The center says it stands firmly behind President Bush's judicial nominations.

"Many of the ills that plague our society have resulted from judicial rulings that reflect the personal political agenda of liberal judges, instead of honest, careful interpretations of the Constitution."

Other issues for the center include limiting pornography, opposition to abortion, a ban on federal support of stem-cell research, and maintaining prayer in the public arena.

The group says its victories have been accomplished "in spite of the intense opposition of groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. They have openly named us as their adversary. So have People for the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Planned Parenthood and many other special-interest activist groups."

THE RUTHERFORD INSTITUTE, in Charlottesville, Va., provides "free legal services to people whose constitutional and human rights have been threatened or violated."

The group, on its Web site, says it protects the rights of parents whose children are strip-searched at school, stands up for teachers fired for speaking about religion and defends individuals against illegal search and seizure.

The institute has attacked zero-tolerance polices, spoke out against sexual slavery, has urged a moratorium on the death penalty, defends churches regarding zoning laws, taxes and licensing regulations and defends "all human life, born and unborn, young and old, healthy or infirm."

a special note to the Providence Journal, and SCOTT MAYEROWITZ, who hold the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

 

UPDATE>>> January 3 1004,  8:00 a.m.

got to love ... they sent me to this site

 ...   is a site devoted to News & Articles on Pets and Wild Animals.. and from there I found this article that I had missed from the Providence Journal, several past articles from the Journal, and the article from the Washington Times (posted below)

 
From pink flamingos to pit bulls to pass attempts, persistence rules

04:22 PM EST on Friday, December 26, 2003

Do you get the impression that Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey's taste in decorating is closer to Snoopy's than Martha Stewart's after Laffey welcomed a flock of pink flamingos to a City Hall holiday display?

I suspect that Stewart would have intervened for taste reasons alone if

Of course, it was inevitable that two of Rhode Island's toughest pit bulls -- Laffey and Rhode Island ACLU executive director Steven Brown -- would square off sooner or later.

Laffey's never-back-down nature raises this question: If Cranston were to follow Pawtucket's lead and ban pit bulls, would Laffey be banned from his own city?........

(for the full article)

a special note to the Providence Journal, and Jack Perry, who hold the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

 

UPDATE>>> January 20 1004,  

Yule be sorry

found another mention online last night..

this dude , Jeff Miller "The Curt Jester", describes himself, and his site... 

A former atheist who after spending forty years in the wilderness finds himself with both astonishment and joy a member of the Catholic Church. This blog presents my hopefully humorous and sometimes serious take on things religious, political, and whatever else crosses my mind.

Jeff quotes the December 24, 2003, SCOTT MAYEROWITZ article, "Vibrating rubber ducks pulled from Yule display"  and added this "humorous and sometimes serious take" on the subject..  under the heading "Yule Be Sorry" 

Don't you just love this time of year? The season when we go to court to be able to have Nativity scenes displayed or removed. Where we put up signs and displays and then have them removed. Nobody is left out of this Christmas courtroom cheer, all can participate. When saying Merry Christmas is like throwing a religious hand-grenade on the secular troops. First get rid of Christ, then the Mass, and transform Holy Day to Holiday. Even with all this nonsense, I for one am thankful. After reading stories on a subdued Christmas in Iraq and the underground Catholic Churches in China. I count my blessings that I can go to a Midnight Mass. That I can celebrate the birth of Christ without looking over my shoulder. May I remember my fellow Christians who are less fortunate.

 

UPDATE>>> March 3 1004

Cranston Herald

CRANSTON

03/04/2004
Laffey takes Follies' skewers with a laugh
By JOHN HOWELL

Mayor Steve Laffey was skewered Friday night in front of many of his friends and key personnel – and they, and he, laughed.

In fact, being ridiculed is a badge of distinction for elected officials attending the Providence Newspaper Guild Follies, held every year at the Venus De Milo in Swansea, Mass.

Laffey, who had bought four tables (at $450 each) to the sold-out event, was the butt of several jokes. An entire song was devoted to him alone, while two others lampooned the Christmas antics that occurred in front of City Hall.

By Follies standards Laffey made the big time – not even Providence Mayor David Cicilline, Attorney General Patrick Lynch, Senator Lincoln Chafee or Senators William Irons or John Celona took as much heat. Warwick’s Mayor Scott Avedisian was virtually left unscathed, which could be a terrible thing when more than 1,000 of the state’s politicians, business leaders and news media are gathered.

The first in the series of songs about Cranston, “King Me,” included these lines:

“Oh I am the mayor I’m the great Cranston mayor/People think that I am odd, just because I talk to God/So what if it’s true, he tells me what to do/So now, I can tell you./Cranston it is time for all of us to face the facts, I’ve got one answer, and that’s a whopping tax?/Blame city workers, we’ll watch with private eyes./ It’s so much fun, to be the one, to hire my own spies.”

The song goes on to conclude, “I think Christmas is so great, why separate the church and state./If Jesus could see my nativity, He’d be voting for me./ He’d be voting for, oh yeah voting for, I know he’s voting for me.”

Then three of the Follies cast – made up of Providence Journal reporters, other union members and talented friends – strutted on stage dressed as pink flamingos. They sang “We are pink flamingos, we’re Cranston flamingos./With hair high and manicured toes,/We’ve flown over Twin Oaks, your mayor’s a big joke,/Maybe next year we’ll run unopposed.” Laffey squirmed a bit, but he wore a smile.

Then, to the tune of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” the cast sang “O come pink flamingos, rubber ducks that vibrate, O come ye, O come ye, to Cranston. Our Nativity has no exclusivity, But Baby Jesus is gone, they stole him off of the lawn, It’s just another Christmas in Cranston. Come all ye lawyers, come O come to Cranston, where we have a lawsuit from the ACLU. Santa is plastic, the law is elastic….”

A tradition of the Follies, which the guild rolled out 31 years ago as a means to heal the wounds after a contentious labor dispute with the management of the Providence Journal involving a 12-day strike, is the “mystery guest.” The guest is always a highly visible person and usually an elected official. Prior guests have included Senators Jack Reed and Lincoln Chafee as well as Providence Mayors Vincent Cianci and Cicilline.

This year’s guest was a closely guarded secret. Speculation among the crowd was rampant with suggestions that Irons might come out of his self-imposed exile, that Governor Donald Carcieri could take the spotlight or that Lynch would come to the microphone and throw a few barbs at the press. Laffey’s name was also on the list.

“No, it’s not me,” he said, somewhat crestfallen, before the show started.

Would he have done it?

“Yes,” he replied.

When the night came to an end and the audience lingered for the mystery guest, Lynch came on stage and took the microphone. He was there to warm up the crowd after an evening that had focused a lot of attention on the closing of the Narragansett Indians tax-free smoke shop. Only then did some of those who had been guessing all night solve the mystery.

Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas came on stage. He espoused a casino and poked fun at the governor.

But you can bet on one thing: given the way things are going, Laffey is on a short list as a future mystery guest

..and a special note to the Cranston Herald, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME ! 

 

 

UPDATE>>> August 26 1004

Cranston Herald

CRANSTON

08/26/2004
Reilly comes out swinging, lays out extensive campaign platform
By ELIZABETH SEAL

Republican mayoral candidate Garry Reilly launched a public attack against incumbent Mayor Stephen P. Laffey for the first time last week and at the same time introduced the campaign platform he hopes will earn him the win at the primary Sept. 14.

Reilly, who until this point had run a relatively low-key campaign, publicly denounced Laffey’s management style and efforts to date as mayor at a press conference held across the street from City Hall in the veteran’s memorial park.

“The mayor’s slash-and-burn attitude just will not work,” Reilly said.

Clearly trying to disprove Laffey’s earlier comments labeling him a union patsy, Reilly said if elected he planned to fight for a number of concessions from the crossing guard’s union, including expanded responsibilities, a wage freeze and other changes to their wage and benefit package. Reilly is married to a crossing guard and has been frequently accused of conflict-of-interest issues.

Reilly also said he supported a tax deferment plan for elderly Cranstonians suffering from high property taxes. The system, which would work something like a reverse mortgage, would allow qualified residents to put off paying property taxes until the sale of their house.

In a hit-list of campaign promises, Reilly finished off the conference by saying he would fully fund the schools, reduce the burden to taxpayers, oppose tax raises in 2005 and 2006 and restore the senior center “to its national prominence.”

“I can assure you there will be no more negativity,” he said. “There will be no more bullhorns. And I can promise you we will not invite the media to City Hall during the holiday season because there will be no pink flamingos on the lawn.”


..and a special note to the Cranston Herald, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME ! 

 

UPDATE>>>  Sept 7th ( I think?)

BIG NEWS...

    The very first image on this page was pilfered by the Garry Reilly campaign for mayor against Laffey.  Someone on the campaign thought it would be a good idea to use the photo without asking me...   Reilly's camp denies wrongdoing.. they blame Cornerstone Communication.   Cornerstone Communication denies any responsibility.. Guy Dufault said he subcontracted the job to some other guy.. and he refused to put me in contact with that person,  or even give me his name..    would say more.. but I have contacted a lawyer. 

UPDATE>>>  Sept 9 2004

Cranston Herald

CRANSTON

09/09/2004
Judge says city will get ruling on ACLU suit before Xmas
By ELIZABETH SEAL

Even though the arguments and counter-arguments have dragged on for nine months now, the U.S. District Court in Providence is reportedly determined to get the issue of Christmas displays in front of City Hall settled before the next holiday season.

The court battle, which erupted last January over a crèche on the City Hall lawn, is currently in its final stages. The city’s lawyer has filed a request for summary judgment that essentially asks Judge William E. Smith to throw out the case against the city. That decision is still pending.

The fight began after a Cranston resident, Grace Osediacz, noticed the nearly life-size Nativity scene in front of City Hall and called the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU then helped Osediacz file a lawsuit against the city stating the city had violated the First Amendment laws regarding civic endorsement of religion. Since then, the Providence law firm of DeLuca and Weizenbaum has been handling the plaintiff’s side of the case, reportedly for free.

Tim Eskey, an associate with DeLuca and Weizenbaum, said the case is based on a city policy approved in December 2003 allowing residents to place “appropriate holiday and seasonal decorations” on the lawn in front of City Hall. The policy stipulated the display could not “shock the consciousness of the community” and said the mayor “or his designee” must approve all decorations ahead of time.

That, said Eskey, essentially means the head executive of the city has the final say in what religious (or secular) face Cranston shows to the world.

“It gives the mayor nearly unbridled discretion to determine what a suitable or appropriate display is,” he said. “The First Amendment is involved here in a number of ways.

Exacerbating matters further, Eskey said, after all the decorations were up, the scene was dominated by the life-sized crèche and a huge menorah – both major religious symbols. The other decorations that were allowed, including a flock of pink flamingos wearing Santa hats and an inflatable snowman, Eskey said “didn’t distract” from the other, religious-themed objects.

“This is problematic in that it was done right on the steps of City Hall,” he said. “The government cannot do something that sends a message that it endorses religion.”

The lawsuit requests a permanent injunction banning any future displays and policies allowing displays. It also requests a “symbolic” monetary settlement, Eskey said.

The city’s attorney did not return calls seeking comment – the case is being handled by an outside attorney, who is also reportedly working free of charge – but Eskey said the case will likely proceed one of two ways. If the judge grants the city’s request for summary judgment, the suit ends and the city can do whatever it wants this winter. If the judge denies the request, the matter will go to trial, at which point each side will produce evidence to support their cases.

Despite this, Eskey said Judge Smith “has made it clear that he wishes to issue a ruling well in advance of this holiday season.”

If the plaintiff loses, Eskey said, it will be up to Osediacz to decide whether she wants to appeal. Although the ACLU is involved in the case, its role has been restricted to facilitator, Eskey said.

“The ACLU’s role in this is simply to put someone whose rights are at issue in touch with attorneys who are willing to represent them,” he said.

..and a special note to the Cranston Herald, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME ! 

 

UPDATE>>> October 1, 2004

 I just found this mention of the Flamingos 

and this mention on    I just love being fodder for another web log rant !!

  UPDATE>>>  sometime in mid October

I did file a small claims court case against Reilly, and Dufault...   someone in the court decided it was an "interesting" case.. and sent off the details to that tacky TV show.. Judge Joe Brown...   the producers want to have us on the show.... but I don't think that Reilly and DuFault are foolish enough to expose themselves on TV..   I , on the other hand, have no problem with being foolish..    

.. they declined the offer to be on TV  so it looks like this will have to be settled in the RI small claims court..  the date is set for October 18th

 

UPDATE>>> November 15th 2004

I just get a call around 7pm ish.. its that Large headed Brian Crandall from Channel 10 TV ... he informs me that the courts have finally made a ruling on the city hall display issue... in a nut shell,  the judges say its OK to have a display on city property,  but the mayor shouldn't be the one deciding what is OK to display.... we share the same mind !!!>     I called my "Media Wife",  and had her over for the interview... I don't do media appearances without her... she is my "rock" during these trying times when the world is at strife over serious issues like flamingoes.. 

.. Brian came over with a camera guy and an intern... got to say that boy has a large cranium... damn huge even...   looks way larger in person..    we chatted for a quick interview.. usual deal.. same question asked several times in search of the perfect editable sound bite...   . use me for your agenda oh mighty media empire .. damn you channel 10 !...

.. but on a fun note.. it gave me a chance to bend the ear of a media king pin, about the Reilly issue, and we hope to see Brian in court with the rest of the crack news team from channel 10.. 

.. the piece should be gracing the airways at 11pm... 

......... and its true, the camera does add 30 pounds,,, I'm svelte,  honest..

.. ill be sure to post more about the court ruling as soon as its made available...  and ill post the small claims court results after the 18th...    

.. check back often... or better yet... get a life... this think not dying is almost too funny to be pathetic.

..... and perhaps this isn't the best time to ask the mayor about putting a HUGE Flamingo on the lawn this year... ill give him a week to lick his wounds.

UPDATE>>> November 15th 2004 11:pm

Wow .. the top story was the city hall "display" court case... and I got a few seconds of face time... and the flamingos were shown in almost every shot of the display.  This story beat out a wild Coyote story by 6 minuets...  .. now if only I could arrange for a flock of wild coyotes for swarm on the lawn of city hall.. now that would be a story !!!   and what did  I learn from this media appearance....  well, I'm one sexy beast, and the camera loves me... but DAMN.. I have a pronounced lisp... do I really sound like that???   now I'm regretting that year of speech therapy in the 4th grade...  what a waste of time, if I ended up talking like this.. 

.. I heard the Flamingos made an appearance on Ch.12 news as well..  I didn't see it.. but MOM said they looked good !

UPDATE>>> November 16  2004   6:24am

Cranston Holiday Display Will Return
11-16-2004 6:24 AM

(Cranston, RI) -- Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey is praising a federal judge's ruling that will allow the City of Cranston to once again erect is holiday display on the City Hall lawn. The "Providence Journal" reports the judge ruled yesterday that the mayor did not combine church and state when he allowed a holiday display featuring everything from a menorah to pink flamingos to adorn city property. The judge did say however, that he violated the First Amendment by opening the display to the public and then regulating what could appear. Laffey says he will now re-write the city's policy based on the judge's decision.


Copyright 2004 Metro Networks Communications Inc., A Westwood One Company
a special note to Metro Networks Communications, who hold the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

FRONT PAGE NEWS

http://www.projo.com/westbay/content/projo_20041116_crxmas.ddfbb.html

Cranston holiday display upheld

A federal judge rules that religious expression is not forbidden on the City Hall lawn -- but also rules that the city may not both open the display to public whimsy and regulate what appears.

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, November 16, 2004

BY DANIEL BARBARISI
Journal Staff Writer

 

CRANSTON -- A federal judge has ruled that Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey was not unduly mixing church and state when he allowed a holiday display featuring a creche, a menorah and pink flamingos on the lawn at City Hall last year, but that the city did violate the First Amendment by restricting what items could be placed in the display.

Laffey, claiming victory, said that he will now rewrite the city's policy based on the judge's decision, and hopes to erect a new, city-run display outside City Hall this holiday season.

Last winter, Laffey encouraged residents to put seasonal displays that he deemed appropriate on City Hall's front lawn. First a menorah went up, then an inflatable snowman and Santa Claus, and then a Nativity scene. Then the display took a turn toward the bizarre, when the largely religious items were joined by a group of 15 pink flamingos wearing Santa hats, sponsored by the "Church of the Pink Flamingo."

After the display went up, the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of a Cranston resident, contending that the city was trying to convey a religious message by displaying religious items at the seat of public government, and was violating the provisions of the First Amendment separating church and state.

The ACLU also argued that Laffey's oversight of the display amounted to a restriction on freedom of speech.

In September, the city filed a motion to dismiss the case before it went to trial, and argued its case before U.S. District Judge William E. Smith. Yesterday afternoon, Smith returned his decision, granting the city's motion on the church and state provisions, but siding with the ACLU on the free-speech issue.

Smith wrote that he could find no religious purpose in Laffey's efforts, and in fact, said that "the opposite is true," as Laffey issued news releases encouraging all types of displays on the lawn.

"Nothing in these public statements or in the actual implementation of the policy reveals or even remotely supports an inference that a religious purpose was behind the creation of the limited public forum," Smith wrote.

The decision in this case repeatedly refers to a similar lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the City of Pawtucket in the 1980s. That case was eventually settled in 1984 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the city's favor. The city annually erected a display in a park owned by a nonprofit organization in the heart of the city's shopping district.

As long as the display represented a diversity of religious and secular items, it was acceptable.

That display included reindeer, a Santa Claus, a Christmas tree, a banner reading "Season's Greetings," and a Nativity scene. It sits virtually unchanged at a city park each year.

In the Pawtucket case, the Supreme Court said that complete separation between church and state is not necessary, and that only accommodation of all religions and hostility toward none was the key.

Smith wrote that the basic facts of the Cranston case regarding the line between church and state are very similar to the Pawtucket case, and that the Pawtucket case can be applied well here.

THE ACLU HAD ARGUED that the cases were different because the display was on the lawn of City Hall, the seat of municipal government. Also, the display was smaller than Pawtucket's; secular items, such as a Santa and a snowman, were placed there after a menorah simply "as a pretext," the ACLU alleged, to pass constitutional muster.

Smith wrote that it doesn't matter whether the city or private individuals put up the display, it still passes constitutional muster, particularly in light of the Pawtucket case.

But Smith said that the Laffey administration's policy of reviewing items for their appropriateness once they were placed in the display acted to restrain free speech by giving the mayor discretion to approve or remove items placed in a supposed open public forum.

"By granting the mayor the discretion to approve or deny displays on the basis of what he deemed 'appropriate' . . . the policy did not sufficiently protect the free speech rights of Cranston's citizens," Smith wrote.

Despite the split decision, Laffey, outside City Hall last night, called it a "major victory" for the city.

"It was certainly no great victory for the ACLU. It was a waste of their time," he said. "The ACLU would do far better to take on some serious discrimination cases."

But Rhode Island ACLU president Steven Brown said that it's a Pyrrhic victory for the city at best, and said that the ACLU had accomplished its goals.

"It's split down the middle," Brown said. "The judge has essentially recognized that what happened last year was inappropriate."

"It's important in reaffirming basic principles of free-speech law," he said. "They would have to draft a new policy that would meet the stringent standards of the First Amendment, whether the mayor likes it or not."

Smith's decision appears to leave the city with two realistic options if it wants to erect a display, which Laffey said he intends to do.

It could erect its own city-sponsored display, as the city of Pawtucket does, or it could open the forum up to the public with little to no city supervision, and allow a free-for-all.

Laffey said that he hasn't decided on what policy to pursue yet, but is leaning strongly toward the Pawtucket model.

Laffey said that he will announce a policy after Thanksgiving. He said he doesn't believe the pink flamingos will be allowed to make a return appearance.

a special note to the Providence Journal, and DANIEL BARBARISI, who hold the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

 

UPDATE>>> 11:am

the providence Journal website   had a nice photo of the flamingos on the front page of the site.. with a link to the "headline of the day" slideshow... the slide show featured plenty of great shots of the flamingos taken last year from the journal archives, accompanied by a tape of WPRO 630 news radio radio personality , Daryl Young reading the headlines from the Journal article.  and commenting on it with another person, ( didn't get her name) but they mentioned the flamingos, and the "church" 

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Can I just say "WHAT THE FUCK !"

.. if Laffey decides to have a city sponsored display , that's one thing.. and I thing I would fight.. but if it is decided to let the locals put up a display,  he had damn better well not try to stop the church of the pink flamingo from erecting a display.. 
.. 

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if you would like to see a return of the festive flamingos, feel to send a nice note to any and all members of city government listed below....  

 Mayor Stephen P. Laffey (401) 780-3110
City Council Council City-wide Allan W. Fung (401) 270-5424
Council City-wide Peter T. Pastore, Jr. (401) 943-7088
Council City-wide Randall A. Jackvony (401) 828-3364
Council President Peter T. Pastore, Jr. (401) 943-7088
Ward 1 Ellen O'Hara (401) 941-6957
Ward 2 Cynthia M. Fogarty (401) 946-7299
Ward 3 Paula B. McFarland (401) 944-5802
Ward 4 Marc D. Ferolito (401) 944-1604
Ward 5 John E. Lanni, Jr. (401) 946-7373
Ward 6 Kirk McDonough (401) 943-7001
kmcdonough@cranstonri.org

 

..................more flamingos shown on Ch.10 news again tonight at 6:pm   .. must be a slow news day.!!

 

UPDATE>>> November 17  2004   

my smirking face again on Ch. 10   , an even slower news day,  when the news is a repeat !

 

FUN E-MAIL: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 


Scott,
 
While I understand the Court's concerns regarding Laffey allowing public participation in concert with Mayoral review; I find it more than odd that the display of manger + ??? remains, for this is certainly tantamount to mayoral review, no matter how thickly and creatively it is veiled  errr enshrouded.

I say--bring back the flamingoes--one at a time if we must, but....Let them speak for all of us!  As a worshipper of the great flamingo, I find myself left out at holiday time--afterall--we do not even have a dreidel song that public schools can exploit in the interest of singing the baby jesus' name in December.

Wish to once again feel--in the pink,
I am,
Nan 
Mom of the Courtney (currently of Italy)


UPDATE>>>November 18  2004 

(MY DAY IN COURT)

wow.. what a day.. so much to say... so much I cant....

     I went to court and asked to have an arbitrator work with us to find a solution...  well I cant tell you who said what or offered what... but I can tell you that I walked out of the meeting ready to spit blood, and ready to go before a judge...    but the judge decided that the case couldn't be heard by the small claims court.  so it was dismissed  .. so after wasting 3 hours of time we all went on our merry way...   I wonder why it was worth fighting for Guy... as he bills his time at $200 an hour.. and you just know that I plan on revisiting this in court again, and again, for as long as it takes... 

more to come....

UPDATE>>> November 18 2004

Cranston Herald

11/18/2004
Cranston wins long-fought battle with ACLU
By CHRIS DIAKOPOULOS

Mayor Stephen P. Laffey announced “a major victory” for the city Monday night after a court ruling concluded the city had every right to put Christmas decorations on the City Hall lawn.

Ending a nearly year-long legal battle between the city and the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. District Judge William E. Smith judged in favor of the city, but still found some fault with the administration’s actions.

“The judge said the mayor had too much discretion,” explained the attorney handling the case for the city, long-time Laffey confidant Tom Marcelle. “He said someone could look at the policy and determine that the mayor had the power to stop placement of a display before it was placed, which is prior restraint, a violation of free speech.”

The ACLU became involved when Cranston resident Grace Osediacz contacted the organization after she noticed the large Nativity scene display on the City Hall lawn last Christmas.

“There are always some scrooges,” said Laffey. “The Grinch comes to mind.”

Last year’s holiday display consisted of a menorah, an inflatable snowman and Santa Claus, a crèche and 15 pink flamingos wearing Santa hats.

“The vast majority of people enjoyed it last year,” said Laffey. “We had a great diversity of displays.”

The ACLU put Osediacz in touch with the law firm DeLuca and Weizenbaum, and attorneys in that firm argued the case based on the city’s policy regarding the display. The policy stipulated the display could not “shock the consciousness of the community” and said the mayor or his designee must approve all decorations ahead of time.

While Judge Smith upheld the city’s right to control the display, he did take issue with the wording of the policy.

“While the city contends that it was neither the intent nor the actual practice to require citizens to present their displays for approval prior to placing them on the lawn, there is nothing in the policy that conveys that intent,” Smith said in his ruling.

“Even though the city’s intent and practice wasn’t to engage in prior restraint,” explained Marcelle, “the policy could be viewed that way, so he found the policy to be defective. The judge said the Nativity scene could be placed in front of City Hall. The people can do it or the government can do it, as long as there is a mix of displays; he found that constitutional.”

“It gave the appearance of prior restraint,” Marcelle added. “It is important that government be very clear so citizens feel free to engage in free speech.”

With a rewrite of the policy planned, the mayor said he would look to Pawtucket’s policy, which was upheld in a similar lawsuit between the ACLU and Pawtucket in the 1980s.

Although the ACLU has had a key role in this case, ultimately the plaintiff Osediacz must decide to pursue the case in a court of appeals, or not. Osediacz’s phone number is unlisted and she could not be reached for comment.

“I hope her heart grows two sizes tonight,” Laffey said.

When asked if the city would have pink flamingos again, the mayor said he didn’t know and that it would be up to the people to donate displays in the future, because the city doesn’t have a budget for the holiday display, “but I think Santa will come.” He said people interested in donating holiday displays should contact City Hall.

..and a special note to the Cranston Herald, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME ! 

UPDATE>>> December 16 2004

Cranston Herald

CRANSTON

12/16/2004
City Hall decorations come under fire again
By ELIZABETH SEAL

Mayor Stephen P. Laffey will have carte blanche to decorate the City Hall lawn to his heart’s content; the City Council last week decided not to vote on a measure than would put the City Hall grounds under direct council control and restrict holiday decorations to strings of clear lights.

The measure, sponsored by Councilor Paula B. McFarland, was introduced for discussion at last Thursday’s council ordinance committee meeting. McFarland did not attend the meeting because of scheduling conflicts, but she had previously said the mayor had no business covering the City Hall lawn with religious displays.

Although she did not comment directly on the extensive display that was installed by city workers on Monday at the mayor’s request, McFarland said growing up with a Catholic father and Jewish mother made her more aware of the inappropriateness of waving your religion in other peoples’ faces.

“I was raised to believe people have the right to believe what they want in the privacy of their own home,” she said.

And while Laffey has repeatedly said he’s just expressing the desire of the public for a festive holiday display, McFarland said Laffey is actually degrading the meaning of Christmas, Hanukkah and the other winter festivals by using the brightly lit lawn ornaments to highlight the increasing commercialization of what used to be religious observances. This year’s display, which was funded entirely by Laffey and community donations, includes an inflatable snowman and Santa Claus, a singing Grinch and a menorah, a Nativity scene and herd of reindeer all outlined in faux-neon lights.

“I think with what the mayor has done to City Hall, we’ve lost the meaning of what the holiday is all about,” McFarland said. “Right now I don’t feel comfortable in that building. It’s too much.”

She suggested that an alternative site for the display would be more appropriate, if Laffey insisted on having some kind of decorations.

“There’s a lot of other areas than a governmental building,” McFarland said.

The comments from the rest of the council members on the committee were more mixed, with a few agreeing with McFarland’s assessment of the display and others expressing reservations over making any kind of rules regarding holiday decorations.

Councilor Kirk McDonough made reference to the Superior Court decision handed down last month that stated the city had no right to legislate taste. The court said the city had been within its rights to host citizen-donated decorations, but crossed the line when it made the mayor the arbiter when it came to deciding what was appropriate for display and what wasn’t.

McDonough said just like the mayor had no right to decide what decorations went and which decorations stayed, the City Council also had no business taking over that role.

“I don’t think any of us should have the ability to decide what looks good and what doesn’t look good,” he said.

Council President Peter T. Pastore, Jr. disagreed, saying he was appalled by what Laffey allowed on the lawn last year and what he chose as decorations for his office Christmas trees this year. He implied that no decorations were preferable to tasteless and gaudy decorations and cited the flamingo tree-topper that adorns the Christmas tree in Laffey’s office as an example.

“Having a pink flamingo at the top of a tree I find disgusting and repulsive,” Pastore said. “I think it’s wrong to make fun of Christmas in this way.”

There was also some question over whether the city had the right to oversee the grounds around City Hall. Assistant City Solicitor Evan Kirschenbaum said the City Charter clearly stated the grounds, like other parks and most city facilities, fell under the jurisdiction of the mayor. Councilor Cynthia M. Fogarty disagreed, saying the charter suffered from a case of bad wording and logic dictated that the council would be the ultimate authority over the city’s capital assets.

“The charter places the buildings in the City Council’s hands, not the mayor’s hands,” Fogarty said. “Therefore, how can he say he’s going to decorate this weekend?”

Laffey apparently went shopping over the weekend and, by Tuesday, a large assortment of inflatable and illuminated holiday decorations, including a Nativity scene, a snowman, a Santa Claus and a menorah, had shown up on the City Hall lawn. Director of Administration Paul G. Grimes had previously said the city planned to follow the letter of the law and make sure the display included a “diverse” collection of holiday symbols so it didn’t appear the city was endorsing any one religion.

In the end, the council voted 4-1 to table the item without taking any comments from the audience. The vote effectively killed the ordinance because no items can remain on the table during a council changeover. It will be up to McFarland or another council member to reintroduce after the new council convenes in January.

Incoming Council President Aram Garabedian expressed disappointment that he wasn’t given the opportunity to speak on the measure. He said the charter made it clear that the council had supreme authority and if that didn’t seem clear to some in the administration, then McFarland’s ordinance was badly needed to clarify things.

“The point is to have the ordinance in place so the mayor can’t do things like this,” Garabedian said.

Laffey declined to comment on the committee’s decision.

..and a special note to the Cranston Herald, who holds the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME ! 

 

UPDATE>>> DECEMBER 24 2004

<<<I SENT THIS TO THE MAYOR TODAY>>> 

 

Wishing You A Festive Flamingo Day

In the spirit of the Great Flamingo, spread Love, Peace, and Frivolity to your neighbors, and to the world!

 

Who would have thought... 

..I drive by city hall tonight, and find 2 of the little bastards perched dead center on the lawn.. I have no idea how they got there... Perhaps they were returning from a seasonal migration.. Perhaps some joker thought it would be funny to take them from my front yard, and place them there... 

Perhaps we shall never know the truth behind this holiday miracle...    But we can rest assured that so long as there are true believers, the great flamingo will return to spread frivolity, joy, and peace.

Be Well,

Scott Bonelli

BigHeadStudio.com

fun email 12-27-04   from Robin,  she works in the mayors office

Hi Scott,
 
I actually got a phone call yesterday about the flamingo addition from someone who works at City Hall....I had not seen them,
 
Hope you had a Merry Christmas......and a happy Flamingo Day.....
 
Robin
 
P.S. - I have not looked at a rubber duck the same way since last year's events!!

fun email 12-27-04

From: Scott_BigHeadStudio.com [mailto:Scott@BigHeadStudio.com]
Sent: Mon 12/27/2004 10:50 AM
To: Mayors, Line
Subject: Re: Wishing You A Festive Flamingo Day



I think this is all pretty funny.. I noticed them missing from my yard the
other day,  and thought "no big deal" they tend to pop up in a neighbors
yard within a day or so..  but when I drove by city hall I laughed my butt
off..
..
I guess I should ask,  are the birds still there...
.. and if so , can I claim ownership???

hope you had a happy holiday !
Scott

fun email 12-27-04  from Robin,  she works in the mayors office

YES!!!  They're out there....I hadn't realized that they had disappeared from your lawn!!  Please return them to their flock....wouldn't want them to feel displaced!!

fun email 12-27-04

From: Scott_BigHeadStudio.com [mailto:Scott@BigHeadStudio.com]
Sent: Mon 12/27/2004 11:23 AM
To: Mayors, Line
Subject: Re: Wishing You A Festive Flamingo Day



wow.. I would have thought that the mayor would have had them removed by
now...
. ill try to pick them up sometime today

I cant believe there has been no protest from the ACLU !

Scott

fun email 12-27-04  from Robin,  she works in the mayors office

LOL!!!!  LOL!!!! 
 
No problem....I'll let everyone here know that you're coming to get them so they don't fly away.

fun email 12-27-04


From: Scott_BigHeadStudio.com [mailto:Scott@BigHeadStudio.com]
Sent: Mon 12/27/2004 11:40 AM
To: Mayors, Line
Subject: Re: Wishing You A Festive Flamingo Day



.... or I could leave them for the mayors office...
.. think he would appreciate the gesture.. ?
... you know.. if the latest court ruling had not been made,  my plan was to
erect just one flamingo this year.. but he would have been about 10 feet
tall.
.. I think that this whole this is too funny the way it wont die down...
Garry Reilly's campaign actually took one of my photos from my web-site for
use in his campaign literature... I took the pompous ass to court... now
there was a fiasco !

Scott

fun email 12-27-04  from Robin,  she works in the mayors office

Thank you, but I believe that they belong with the remainder of the flock....I hate to see them apart given the attention that they draw...they need the security of the rest!!
 
 
I heard about the Reilly thing....unbelievable!!!
 
Come up to the third floor and check out the Christmas tree in the main office!!!

 


UPDATE>>> December 28 2004

Today I got a call from Barbara Polichetti, the nice reporter from the Providence Journal.  she wanted to hear all about the holiday miracle: the return of the great flamingo... she tells me that she received an anonymous tip on her answering machine, to let her know that a few flamingos were hanging out at city hall... she wanted to know if I knew anything about it..   we chatted and had a fun time.. I think she may just get the joke.... but did let me know that she is no Jim Terracani , and wouldn't go to court to protect her sources...  she sent out a fun photographer to take a few pix,  that bastard had me laying in the snow... funny dude..  ill post the text of the article , and that sexy photo here tomorrow  .. 

.. then I'm off to pick the stray flamingos from the mayors office.. and I laugh my ass off.. there in the office is a nice tree decorated with flamingo Christmas lights, and topping it ,  The tree topper one of the missing flamingos from last year... little red hat and all..   the story is this.. earlier in the month some dude shows up with the flamingo and a small lamb in a bag,  told them that he was so embarrassed.. his kid stole them from the display last year, and the dad just now found them in his room...  rather than give me a call to return the flamingo, the mayors office decided to keep it for the tree.  I was told that they did call the owner of the lamb, but he never came to pick it up...   the nice lady in the office asked if they could keep him , or if I wanted him back.

.. well.. in keeping with the spirit of the holiday, spreading frivolity and whatnot I told them that they should keep him, and celebrate all year long.  

.. on the way out the door I gave a flamingo to my friend Rory,  and later in the day he called to tell me his supervisor wanted one... so ill drop it off tomorrow when I go back with the camera!

 

 

UPDATE>>> December 29 2004

the journal ran this on the front of the "west bay" section, with a big ass photo on me smiling like a dork, laying belly down in the snow with the flock..  i look like a fool!

Flamingos cameo appearance at City Hall

01:00 AM EST on Wednesday, December 29, 2004

BY BARBARA POLICHETTI
Journal Staff Writer

 

Hey, remember us?Journal photo / Kris Craig
Scott Bonelli, of Cranston, joins a pair of his Santa-capped pink flamingos Tuesday outside his home. Two of his flamingos appeared last weekend in the holiday display on Cranston City Hall’s front lawn.

CRANSTON -- Just like the famed swallows of Capistrano, plastic pink flamingos have returned to the holiday display on the front lawn of City Hall.

Sometime over the weekend, two of the long-legged lawn ornaments -- each wearing a jaunty red-and-white Santa Claus cap -- alighted amid the Nativity scene, inflatable snowmen and holiday moose set up by the city.

Unlike last year, however, the public had not been invited to participate in the holiday decorating, so the big birds were removed after a couple of days and kept in the mayor's office until they could be claimed by their owner, Scott Bonelli.

Bonelli, who tends to a flock of more than 30 flamingos in the front and back yards of his family's home, in the Laurel Hill Avenue neighborhood, said that he was driving by City Hall over the weekend when he spotted two of his birds (which he recognized as his own by their Santa caps.)

"Perhaps some joker thought it would be funny to take them from my front yard and place them there," Bonelli said in an e-mail to Mayor Stephen P. Laffey's office last Friday. "Perhaps we shall never know the truth behind this holiday miracle. But we can rest assured that so long as there are true believers, the great flamingo will return to spread frivolity, joy and peace."

Last year, claiming to be representative of "The Church of the Pink Flamingo," Bonelli put 15 cap-clad birds in front of City Hall.

A designer of theater sets who also makes sex toys, Bonelli said at the time that he wanted to make a political statement challenging the policy which made the mayor's office the arbiter of what people could contribute to the holiday display.

He also wanted, he said, to make people smile.

Last December, the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the display -- with its creche scene, Menorah inflatable snowman, angel and flamingos.

Only last month, U.S. District Judge William Smith ruled that the 2003 display, with its mixed menagerie, did not violate a constitutional separation of church and state. But he also ruled that the city had subverted freedom of speech by having Laffey acting as the guardian of what residents could put on the lawn.

This city responded this year by not inviting the public to participate, and instead putting up its own eclectic display consisting of both religious and secular symbols of the season.

Bonelli picked up his two birds at City Hall yesterday and said he was happy to see that the pink-flamingo spirit -- as well as the holiday spirit -- is alive and well at City Hall.

He noted that a Christmas tree in the anteroom to the mayor's office is bedecked with tropical-theme decorations and has a pink flamingo perched in its top boughs. He also spotted another of the feathered species in the city clerk's office.

When asked why many of the plastic flamingos around his house sport Santa caps, Bonelli said, "It's not because they're endorsing Christmas or any other holiday, it's because they're not used to the cold weather up here."

And, regarding his flock, he said he prefers to think of himself as a caretaker, not owner.

"It's just like the Easter bunny -- nobody really owns him," Bonelli said yesterday. "It's just that when he [the bunny] comes to town, or the flamingos do, you're there to help spread the joy."

a special note to the Providence Journal, Kris Craig and BARBARA POLICHETTI, who hold the copyright to this piece.. PLEASE DON'T SUE ME !  

fun email 12-29-04  from Cindy Fogarty Councilmember Ward 2

Scott:
Hope you have been reunited with your littel lvoed ones - the picture in the Journal was great. i agree - we will probably never know what mysticism is behind your flamingos. Wishing you a Happy, Healthy New Year.
 
Cindy Fogarty
Councilmember Ward 2

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I think Cindy was so caught up in the spirit of Flamingo Day, that she forgot to run the spell checker.. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs, are the property of Scott Bonelli, and may not be used without permission.  The same goes for the entire content of this site....    so don't be a tool,   just ask first !!!

 

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Last modified: January 09, 2010