Group Raise Money for Hurricane Katrina Relief
September 18th 2005
FL—Libertarians are fans of non-government, voluntary help, so it’s
no surprise that Florida Libertarians have been very busy since
Katrina. For them, it’s a matter of principle--not just helping
others, but using voluntary initiatives in creative ways.
For Florida has
been busy. While states like Texas get the headlines, Florida has
been bearing a less spectacular but unnervingly steady stream of
exhausted and penniless refugees, price hikes, shortages as goods
are moved to stricken areas, pleas for help, and other effects of
Katrina. These include helping Florida's own casualties of the
hurricane, estimated as the worst in US history.
have been doing their part. Pinellas Libertarians are one
interesting example of a small group trying to help in effective
ways. The St. Petersburg, Florida Party urges members to support
voluntary help groups, and they say they've been busy with e-mails,
phone calls, and a Cheap Gas locator on their site (www.LPPinellas.org)
as Florida gas prices gyrate in reaction to the disaster.
They've been alert
to government goofs, they say, with e-mails to officials in support
for Circle K dealers unable to lower or raise gas prices due to
conflicting Florida government regulations, forcing them to shut
down their gas pumps. They answer queries from people with questions
such as homeowners worried they'll be fined for taking in refugees
under Florida's sometimes draconian zoning laws.
They even popped a
Help The Red Cross button onto their site and began e-mailings
before Bush declared a state of Emergency.
Libertarian Club, which promotes discussion coffees and community
projects, organized blood donations and asked people to take action.
One activist organized a Car-Wash for Katrina victims.
The Car-Wash, part
of a non-partisan project called Disaster Help, is the brainchild of
disabled Libertarian activist Scott Palacheck, who says he was
inspired by the Libertarian approach and decided to start his own
In a few days he
had organized numerous volunteers, gotten website and other guidance
from the Libertarian Club, and signed up activists in other groups.
As the big day approached, his group got three local news stories
and a rave TV mention, co-sponsorships from an array of local
businesses, and by the weekend his group opened up in a corner of
downtown St Petersburg.
Starting at 8 AM,
volunteers covered in soap suds and smiles raised over a thousand
dollars in a few hours as they discussed politics, social issues and
"Found a bit of common ground."
“The Car Wash
blossomed into a neighborhood event,” Palacheck said, with many
people honking support, making contributions without a wash, a local
McDonald’s providing burgers to volunteers, and even a surprise
goodwill visit by St Petersburg’s Republican mayor, Rick Baker, who
impromptu discussed civics with several young volunteers and has
been personally active in Hurricane relief. Baker, who has written a
history of the county where Spaniards first landed an expedition in
what is today the US, is known for his enthusiasm for volunteer
responded nationwide, with caravans to afflicted areas from as far
as San Diego, clubs and party groups raising funds, and numerous
links to volunteer groups at the Libertarian Party site. There is
even a friendly competition among Libertarians and other parties,
challenging each other on small donations.
“Helping people is
non-partisan,” said Palacheck. Said another volunteer,“If a disabled
person can do something, anyone can. If you get people of different
political and other groups together in this kind of setting, a lot
of good things can happen.”
Palacheck says he
intends to keep the site, DisasterHelp, up (http://www.disasterhelp.cjb.net)and
continue to organize or publicize events in co-operation with
activists and volunteers from different groups and the neighborhood.
“These are good
young people. Bless them,” said one woman as her car was being
rinsed. ”It’s just amazing.”
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Mike is a freelance writer
Keywords and Misspellings: Libartarian
Libertarian Democrat Greens Floreda