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Right-wing Christians screech about ‘KGB’ spies after city simply checks church’s zoning permit

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A Florida pastor claims his religious rights were violated after city officials investigated whether his church had the necessary permits on file.

Pastor Mike Olive operates the Common Ground Church and Coffee Bar in Lake Worth, which recently took over code enforcement from the fire department.

The city does not require churches or nonprofit organizations to pay a business license tax, but they are required to obtain a use and occupancy certificate – which officials use to ensure they don’t pose public safety hazards or break any local, state, or federal laws.

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Olive became alarmed last month, when a code officer stopped by the church and recorded video evidence on his cell phone.

“We had one gentleman come in from the city wearing a hoodie, and he was hiding the camera in the pockets of his hoodie,” Olive said.

News accounts of the incident compared the code officer to KGB spies and suggested city officials were waging war on religion.

The code officer, Gerald Coscia, found the church may have been overcrowded and possibly lacked a sufficient emergency exit, and he said the building likely failed to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

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He determined that Olive’s landlord, Mission Education International, had a valid business license for the coffee shop with an exemption for charitable organizations, but the church lacked a use and occupancy certificate.

City officials notified the landlord by letter and outlined what they needed from the church to issue the proper permit, but Olive claims the investigation violates “the separation of church and state.”

“I think it’s very important that people are not afraid to practice that faith — whatever that faith is,” Olive said.

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The conservative Liberty Counsel sent a letter to the city on his behalf, demanding they stop requiring churches to pay for the business licenses.

The city manager, Mike Bornstein, said the dispute is apparently based on some misunderstanding, because churches are not obligated to pay those fees.

They are, however, required to submit to inspections to obtain the use and occupancy certificate to ensure they’re safe for public use.

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Liberty Counsel claims in its news release that the city threatened the landlord with foreclosure and daily $500 fines, but the letter sent by officials makes no mention of those penalties.

In fact, the letter – which was not among the documents shared by Liberty Counsel — offers any assistance necessary to make sure the certificate would be issued.

“The application form is simple to complete as your organization has completed one prior for the coffee bar,” the letter reads. “We also can schedule the required inspection at your earliest convenience and apprise you of any improvements that may be required of the space or limitation on the number of occupants allowed.”

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“Please be assured that the City has the best interests of the public in mind and wants to ensure there are no life safety issues with regard to the operations,” the letter adds.

Watch this news report posted online by WPEC-TV:


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NYC mayor Bill de Blasio ending his Democratic presidential campaign

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New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has ended his Democratic presidential campaign.

De Blasio made the announcement Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where he explained his decision.

"I feel like I've contributed all I can to this primary election," he said, "and it's clearly not my time."

The mayor said he was optimistic about the Democratic Party's chances in the 2020 election, no matter who was nominated to face President Donald Trump.

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CNN lays out damning timeline of Trump and Giuliani’s calls to Ukraine seeking dirt on Biden

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Following Rudy Giuliani's extraordinary appearance on CNN on Thursday night, where he may have admitted the commission of a crime, the hosts of CNN's "New Day" compiled a timeline linking the approximate date of Trump's phone call that was flagged by a whistleblower to subsequent events involving Ukraine.

According to the timeline, presented by hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota, Trump spoke with the president of Ukraine on July 25, with Giuliani meeting with him later that month.

What followed was the August 12 whistleblower complaint and then Trump blocking aide to Ukraine by the end of the month.

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Is Trump a master of ‘3-D chess’? Expert says nope

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Politics is often conceived as a type of game. To win, a person or group must amass more power than the other players in order to advance their own goals. Victory can be achieved through cooperation with the other players, domination over them or some combination of the two.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Alternatively, a person or group can decide not to participate in this current version of politics, while they seek to invent their own game with different rules.

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