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STUART, Fla. – The South Florida man who says he was forced out of his office because he speaks English and no Spanish has sold his water-conditioning business to a nearby company that is keeping everyone on the payroll.

Tom McKenna has closed up shop at his Dixie Highway location and is now flying an American flag from the top of his former office until Friday, the last day of legal occupancy at the location he’s held for seven years.


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An American flag flies atop the former location of Seacoast Water Care in Stuart, Fla., Aug. 29, 2007. The former tenant, Tom McKenna, has sold his business, claiming he was forced out of the location because he speaks English and no Spanish. (WND photo)

McKenna has been bought out by Peter Wernick, president of Ecowater Systems of Stuart, Fla., who says he purchased all the assets of Seacoast Water Care and American Water Technologies.

“I’ve retained his employees and have hired Tom, putting him to work,” Wernick told WND today. “Tom hasn’t lost a single customer nor a day of work.”

“It’s been a very good arrangement for the both of us. It’s been a seamless transition,” he added.

As WND reported earlier this month, McKenna became the focus of national debates over illegal immigration and property rights.

He said his landlord at the Ellendale Center in Stuart wanted him out of his office space by the end of the month to “complete [his] vision of converting the center to quality tenants serving the Spanish need in the area.”

Seacoast Water Care shared the same building as a check-cashing store and a Mexican restaurant, both of which feature signs in Spanish.


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Ralph Lassise peers into the vacated office of Seacoast Water Care in Stuart, Fla., Aug. 29, 2007. The former tenant, Tom McKenna, has sold his business, claiming he was forced out of the location because he speaks English and no Spanish. (WND photo)

The day after Independence Day, McKenna received a letter from landlord Ivan Munroe telling him to consider another location, even offering McKenna other space he owns.

Then in another letter dated Aug. 1, Munroe informed McKenna his rental contract was being terminated.

“Please remove all of your possessions by August 31,” the second letter stated.

When asked about his initial letter’s statement about his “vision of converting the center to quality tenants serving the Spanish need in the area,” Munroe told the Stuart News, “I can have a vision, can’t I? And his business just doesn’t fit there.”


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Spanish signage for a business in the same plaza as Seacoast Water Care in Stuart, Fla. The owner of Seacoast, Tom McKenna, says he was forced out because he does not speak Spanish (WND photo)

At this point, numerous Seacoast signs have already been taken down from the building, and a U.S. flag has been posted atop the office by McKenna.

“It’s his last dig at me,” Munroe told WND, not wishing to make any other comment based on the advice of counsel.

Since WND gave the story national prominence, McKenna has been featured on numerous radio and television programs, including “Fox & Friends” on the Fox News Channel.

One reader of the Stuart News commented: “How sad that he had to sell his business! When will we Americans stand up to this kind of racism – yes racism? If this would have been any other ethnic group, they would have been picketing on Dixie Hwy. having the street closed until ‘justice’ had prevailed!”


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