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Palm Beachers Say They Will Weather Doonesbury Onslaught

June 18, 1985

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Some residents of this posh oceanside community are annoyed at becoming the latest target of ″Doonesbury″ cartoonist Garry Trudeau’s barbs, but they say it’s just another storm they will weather.

″Palm Beach has survived all of the slanderous comments and innuendoes against the wealthy people who live here,″ said Chamber of Commerce Chairman Jesse Newman. ″After 34 years here, I don’t dignify anyone who slanders Palm Beach.″

At the heart of the satire is a city law titled ″Registration of Certain Occupations,″ requiring waiters, bartenders, clerks, janitors, servants and other workers to be fingerprinted and photographed at the police station within 48 hours of starting their employment. The resulting identification card must be carried at all times, the ordinance says.

One cartoon shows a black motorist, stopped by police, saying, ″Pass card, officer? This isn’t Pretoria.″

″No, sir, it’s Palm Beach,″ the officer replies. ″All hotel and domestic employees must carry I.D.’s.″

The comparison to Pretoria, South Africa, has ″no foundation of fact,″ protests Palm Beach Mayor Yvelyne ″Deedy″ Marix, a descendant of French Emperor Charlemagne.

The South African government’s policy of apartheid, or legal segregation, specifies that blacks must carry passes when they are in whites-only districts.

Other Palm Beach officials also protested the cartoon.

″I would like to say that Mr. Garry Trudeau has missed the entire point of our ID card system,″ said town council member Nancy Simmons Douthit, of the Simmons Mattress fortune. ″It is for the protection of our residents and visitors.″

But lawyer James K. Green, who donates time to the West Palm Beach American Civil Liberties Union, disagreed, saying the ID card law in this town of 10,000 is indeed analogous to South Africa.

″Palm Beach is one of the most beautiful towns in the world. Underlying the physical beauty is an ugliness directed toward the common man,″ Green said.

Chamber of Commerce president Newman said the cards are in fact useful for the employees.

″It’s a morale builder,″ Newman said. ″It’s good all around the world. They can cash a check anywhere. The people who object must have something to hide.″

But the card isn’t the only target of Trudeau’s satire.

Another strip details an idealistic congresswoman telling a socialite about her proposed fund-raising project, a shelter for the homeless. Comic strip character Lacey Davenport describes the plight of the homeless.

″That’s awful,″ the wealthy matron says. ″Why don’t they just move to their country homes?″

″In Palm Beach, they think homelessness is caused by bad divorce lawyers,″ a weary Mrs. Davenport confides to another Doonesbury character.

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