jim young

Jim Young is head of the city’s Code Enforcement operation– or Code Compliance, as they like to call it. By most accounts, Young is fair but firm in enforcing the city codes. But do you remember when then-City Manager Julio Avael fired Young back in 2006? You see, Young got caught treating all code violators the same — even if they were friends with or related to members of the City Commission; or even if they had powerful and well-connected lawyers.

After Young had red-tagged a project owned by the son of then-City Commissioner Harry Bethel, Bethel stood up at a City Commission meeting and compared Young’s code enforcement operation to the Nazi gestapo. When Young, an ex-cop, employed sophisticated undercover sting techniques to catch prominent local realtors systematically violating the city’s transient rental laws, their friends on the City Commission demanded that such “unfair” practices be discontinued. When Young uncovered serious building violations at the Galleon Resort, Michael Halpern — the Galleon’s powerful and well-connected lawyer– called for Young to be fired. Avael complied.

Young responded by filing a lawsuit asking for reinstatement under Florida’s whistle-blower’s act. He also filed a second lawsuit charging that the city was slow in providing documents his lawyer had requested. We covered this story extensively in Key West The Newspaper. But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that Young would ever be reinstated. After all, Avael fired people all the time. And those who got fired filed lawsuits all the time. But nobody ever got reinstated. In any event, Young’s lawsuits began to slog through the courts at a snail’s pace.

Three years later, in 2009, the City Commission partially settled both lawsuits and reinstated Young to the top Code Enforcement job. Make no mistake. This was no small deal. This extraordinary action not only completely vindicated Young, it repudiated the corrupt administration of former City Manager Avael.

Last month,  the  city  finally  tied  up  all  the  loose   ends —  like  paying  Young  and  his  lawyer  almost $ 100,000.

Sidebar comment: Have you ever wondered why it takes so long for lawsuits to be resolved? For what it’s worth, I have a theory. In order to maintain a fat income, lawyers take on more cases than they can efficiently handle. In order to balance the load, they often ask the judges for continuances. The judges, who are also lawyers, almost always grant the continuances– which prolongs the time litigation is in the system. And, of course, the lawyers can charge for work done during the continuation period. That’s just my opinion, however. I could be wrong.

Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D

Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D

Dennis Reeves Cooper founded Key West The Newspaper in 1994 and was editor and publisher until his retirement in 2012.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. It was my experience when I practiced law, in civil lawsuits, it was defense lawyers who caused nearly all continuances in court cases. Stalling was standard operation procedure, because defense lawyers were trying to wear out the plaintiff lawyers, who were working on contingencies nearly always, In criminal cases, it again was defense lawyers who did nearly all of the stalling, not because of money, but because the longer they stalled a case, the longer their client didn’t have to face going to prison, and the longer they stalled, the better chance the state’s witnesses would die, disappear, move away. Most criminal defense lawyers got paid up front, as opposed to being paid by the hour like civil defense lawyers. I told the KW City Commission about a month ago, at a commission meeting, that the item then before them regarding Jim Young’s second lawsuit for non-production of documents, and the first lawsuit, too, never should have come before them, because Young never should have been fired. Who should have been fired, I said, was whomever fired Young. I never cared for Harry Bethel, and I don’t think he ever cared for me, either. Bethel got all bet ou to shape when State Attorney Dennis Ward put one of Bethel’s sons, perhaps the same son?, into prison for robbing a fisherman’s traps. I wonder, Dennis, if you will some day report in full the story of when you drove your car into a tree, wasn’t it? And then you drove home and the police arrived there too late to see you driving your car and charge you with D.U.I.? I agreed with you that later on KWPD Officer Sanchez stalked you at the VFW and then arrested you for D.U.I., for which you were convicted? I heard that was what caused you to finally want to stop publishing Key West the Newspaper? I’m glad it was picked up by Naja and Arnaud, and I’m glad you are contributing articles from your deep well of experience with KW and its wonderful justice system not always. And, I’m glad Naja and Arnaud let readers say what’s on their mind in comments to articles in the blue paper. I feel that’s a wonderful practice, which the Key West Citizen tried out and then apparently didn’t care for it, since they discontinued readers comments to Citizen articles.

    • sloan the kw citizen discontinued thier ‘comments’ feature directly after the dredging referendum. i guess they didn’t want the citizens of key west to voice opinions that might just ‘influence’ a future vote on some subject or other in opposition of the powers that be. can’t have that ya know. that news source became one sorry a** joke after removing thier comments section. they call themselves a community newspaper….ha my patoot!