Margaret Blank

Margaret Blank is the former General Manager of the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District. Read more about Margaret, her experience, her research, her opinions on sewering the Keys and more in her blog: therealpoop.

Dec 012017
 
Animal Control Update – RFP Failure

by Margaret Blank……. Ugh.  The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is just so buffoonish and incompetent.  It’s very, very annoying to me.  I’m so glad they’ve all been nabbed for ethics violations.  It’s so well deserved. The county advertised a Request for Proposal (RFP) to run the Marathon animal shelter.  They placed ads only in local newspapers. The Key West Citizen, the county’s propaganda arm. The Keynoter/Reporter, Murphy’s mouthpiece. Only one bidder responded, the Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA).  They are [continue reading…]

 December 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:58 am Issue #245, Margaret Blank 2 Responses »
Jan 062017
 
About the County Administrator's Letter to Editor

by Margaret Blank……. Dear Editor, Monroe County Administrator, Roman Gastesi, wrote a letter to the editor touting all the county’s accomplishments this past year. Unfortunately, Gastesi steadfastly refuses to address – or even acknowledge – the county’s many troubling, and very serious ongoing failures. This fundamental dishonesty undermines what is supposed to be a positive message and continues to erode trust in county government. Since Danny Kolhage joined the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in 2012, long-term debt has sky-rocketed. Despite his posturing as “fiscally [continue reading…]

 January 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #200, Letter to the Editor 6 Responses »
Dec 302016
 
GUEST COMMENTARY: PEER Follows Up on FKAA's Fake Environmental Assessment

by Margaret Blank……. Keys media generally serves to downplay the failings of FKAA officials. FKAA documents reveal that Toppino has done over $20 million with the FKAA in the last ten years – $12.4 million of that on the Cudjoe Regional project alone, despite public reports of only $1,000,000 in FKAA contracts. Not only that, Toppino benefited heavily from questionable bid shuffling on the now-failing Big Coppitt project, the details of the bidding process closely guarded from the public. If you want to know how [continue reading…]

 December 30, 2016  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #199, Margaret Blank 4 Responses »
Jul 292016
 
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: FKAA $3 Million Contract for Toppino

by Margaret Blank……. Posted this week on www.bigpinekey.com: The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) board is getting ready to award a $3 million contract to one of their own, Richard Toppino. Toppino is a FKAA board member with a high potential for conflicts of interest. His family business, Charley Toppino & Sons, has done millions of dollars worth of business with the FKAA over the years – a fact that the FKAA has repeatedly tried to hide. Toppino was appointed to the FKAA board in December 2015. [continue reading…]

 July 29, 2016  Posted by at 12:54 am ~ Opinion ~, Editorial, Issue #177 7 Responses »
Jul 082016
 
Margaret Blank: Stewardship Act: Smoke and Mirrors

by Margaret Blank….. I’ve had some heartburn over the Florida Keys Stewardship Act (FKSA) for some time now.  I want to be supportive.  I want to be comfortable.  I want to like it.  But somehow I just can’t quite get there.  The more I read about it, the more uncomfortable I am.  I’ve written about it here and here and a few other places. The Act was supposed to increase the amount of money available for water quality projects and ensure a predictable flow of money for that purpose.  It did [continue reading…]

 July 8, 2016  Posted by at 12:43 am News 4 Responses »
Jun 102016
 
Big Coppitt – More Missing Documents?

by Margaret Blank……. Update: The FKAA responded right quick this time. I sent an email Sunday, got a response on Monday. This is new and different. Here’s a link to the agenda back up for the approval of award to Gianetti. A couple of things prompted me to take a look back at the Big Coppitt project. The Big Coppitt wastewater treatment facility experienced difficulties meeting effluent quality requirements for about a year. I discovered this completely by accident. It’s never been reported in the [continue reading…]

 June 10, 2016  Posted by at 12:54 am Island Voices, Issue #170 4 Responses »
May 202016
 
Response to County Mayor Carruthers

Dear Editor, In a recent letter to the editor, Monroe County Mayor, Heather Carruthers, discussed her opposition to single-member districts. The letter glosses over very real and very significant problems with the current system. Carruthers claims that the at-large system allows voters to influence county commissioners from other districts. With SMD elections, you vote for one Commissioner every four years. In our current at-large elections, you get to vote for all five Commissioners every four years, and for at least 40% of the Commission every [continue reading…]

 May 20, 2016  Posted by at 1:04 am Issue #167, Letter to the Editor 13 Responses »
Apr 222016
 
The Best Thing the Governor Can Do For the Keys

by Margaret Blank……. Good news! Gov. Scott signs Florida Keys Stewardship Act into Law The Florida Keys Stewardship Act is now officially law. It’s a blessing but a mixed one. As always, it is subject to interference and manipulation by the usual suspects. The Keys didn’t get everything they asked for but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – the situation being what it is. As beneficial as the Florida Keys Stewardship Act may be, there is one thing the Governor could do that would have [continue reading…]

 April 22, 2016  Posted by at 12:42 am ~ Opinion ~, Editorial, Issue #163 2 Responses »
Mar 182016
 
Animal Control

Letter to the Editor: The Upper Keys animal shelter still has the highest kill rate of all the animal shelters in the Keys. By far. According to numbers submitted to Monroe County, the Upper Keys took in 736 cats and dogs in 2015. They euthanized 468 or 64%. Compare that to the Middle Keys shelter which euthanized only 19% percent of370 cats and dogs received or to the Lower Keys shelter which euthanized only 22% of 1025 cats and dogs received. Why is there such [continue reading…]

 March 18, 2016  Posted by at 12:40 am Issue #158, Letter to the Editor 6 Responses »
Feb 192016
 
Senate Bill 686 and the Cost of Corruption

by Margaret Blank*……. I saw this news item while browsing the web: Almost every top official in Texas city arrested in federal corruption case. It really got me thinking. Here’s a terrific editorial on Florida’s “Corruption Tax”. Monroe County taxpayers have most definitely fallen victim to this. The Acevedo scandal cost us over $400,000 – and that only came to light because of a courageous whistle-blower, who paid a steep price for doing the right thing. Now another $20,000 has gone missing and the school board [continue reading…]

 February 19, 2016  Posted by at 1:08 am Island Voices, Issue #154 5 Responses »
Jan 222016
 
Guest Column: The $9.5 Million Toppino Contracts FKAA Lied About

by Margaret Blank……. Getting information from the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) is like pulling teeth sometimes. Good thing I don’t mind pulling teeth. A while back, I asked the FKAA to provide a list of subcontractors on all it’s current projects. It is standard practice to require a contractor to provide a list of subcontractors. I got back this response saying that their contract documents include no such requirement. That is so bizarre, I felt compelled to dig deeper. I read through the contract documents [continue reading…]

 January 22, 2016  Posted by at 1:08 am * Featured Story *, Editorial, Issue #150 15 Responses »
Dec 112015
 
Guest Column: Richard Toppino for FKAA Board, "An Interesting Choice"

by Margaret Blank……. Richard Toppino of Charley Toppino & Sons has recently been appointed to the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) board. He will replace Melva Wagner who resigned in September after it became publicly known that she no longer lived in the Keys and was attending meetings by phone. Mr. Toppino was chosen from among eleven applicants for the position. It was a very interesting choice for two reasons: On his application Mr. Toppino names himself as an officer for Charley Toppino & Sons, a [continue reading…]

 December 11, 2015  Posted by at 1:16 am * Featured Story *, Island Voices, Issue #144 11 Responses »
Nov 062015
 
Double Talk Needs to Stop

Letter to the Editor: There is an article that appeared in the Free Press titled “Majeska files to run for Murphy’s seat”. Murphy made some statements in that article that really ought to be clarified for the voters and the taxpayers. Referring to Key Largo, Murphy is reported to have said: “We are not up here paying one bit more than the people down the road, even though their assessment is lower,” she told the Free Press. That is self-contradictory. How does Key Largo pay [continue reading…]

 November 6, 2015  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #139, Letter to the Editor 2 Responses »
Sep 112015
 
When It Comes to the Sewer Projects, Things Are Bad All Over.

Dear Editor, I am the former General Manager of the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District. I started at the District in 2005 as a project engineer, and I ran the place from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that I worked for an engineering firm designing and building water and sewer facilities. I began my career as a project accountant in the construction industry. I’m a licensed professional engineer in the states of Florida and New Hampshire. I’ve been in the water and sewer business for a [continue reading…]

 September 11, 2015  Posted by at 12:48 am Issue #131, Letter to the Editor 6 Responses »