by Rick Boettger……. We are taking a break from detailing the individual Monroe County Commissioners’ Ethics violations to report on Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners’ meeting at the Harvey Government Center in Key West. It was a doozy. We will continue with Commissioners Kolhage (“It’s All Danny’s Fault if We Lose”) and Murphy (“His Weirdness”) in the next two weeks. For Tuesday’s meeting, I wanted to follow up on Commissioner Heather Carruthers’ assertion about it being common for the BOCC to squander hundreds of thousands of our tax [continue reading…]
“….a hundred thousand dollars does sound like a lot of money to a lot of people . . .” by Rick Boettger……. County Commissioner Heather Carruthers had the grossest amount of financial misreporting, at $7,427,421, and an additional 138 errors of form between 2012—2015. But before we get into the continuing grim recitation of the details of our county commissioners’ 700+ form errors plus over $15 million dollars in misreported financials, something was brought to my attention that offers a rare splash of humor.
by Rick Boettger……. The big picture last week was that, of the four Monroe County Commissioners who got $20,000 in fines for 16 ethics charges, David Rice made $4,561,558 in self-admitted financial errors, and by my count 228 errors of form on his four Form 6’s from 2012–2015. The biggest chunk of that was under-reporting the value of his real estate and his brokerage accounts by around $850k each, and his car and boat to the tune of over $400k (around $100k each year for [continue reading…]
Taxpayers to Pay Up to $50k to Help Them Fill Out Simple Form by Rick Boettger……. News break—I just received a copy of Mark Herron’s contract from an attorney in County Attorney Bob Schillinger’s office. Herron will get $300/hour plus expenses to vet not only the Commissioners’ but their “employees,” whoever that includes, but “. . .do not exceed $49,999.99.” They say this is authorized by Section 2-58(b)(3) of the county code. I, and if necessary my Harvard lawyer, will take a close look at [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. It’s official: the Florida Commission on Ethics affirmed the 16 ethics violations committed by Commissioners Sylvia Murphy, Danny Kolhage, David Rice, and Heather Carruthers at their meeting in Tallahassee today [Friday morning, Oct. 20]. The total fines were even higher than I reported last week, because they imposed a violation for a year for which I did not even file a complaint—in all, it came to $20,000 for the four. The amount of their errors was astounding, far more than I estimated [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. All four admitted violating their sworn financial reporting requirements for the years 2012-2015. David Rice was fined $1,500 for each year; Heather Carruthers and Danny Kolhage, $1,250; and Sylvia Murphy, $1,000 for a total of $19,000 in fines, levied by the Florida Commission on Ethics. In addition, all hired lawyers to meet with the Commission’s investigator and, as I will discuss next week, help them prepare their amended Form 6X’s for all four years, 2012—2015. That was likely more expensive than the [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. Key West is in remarkably good shape. They finally let us fly back yesterday and I took a bike ride around town this morning. What follows is a mixture of fact and opinion. The government experts who stopped us from returning for 10 days have facts and opinions no better than my own, I’ll bet. They just take their own much more frightfully, but I’m letting that go for now.
by Rick Boettger……. This is the last straw. I’m fed up with the low level of journalistic integrity displayed by all of the media in the Keys except us, KWTN. As reported here last week, a Honduran immigrant was hit by a woman in a large SUV on his bicycle in a crosswalk on Stock Island. A Sheriff’s Deputy asked him his immigration status as he lay injured in the street. Then the Florida Highway Patrol gave HIM a ticket for “obstructing traffic,” And, finally, the [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. The late, great Connie Gilbert was the hearty soul of the Key West chapter of the National Organization of women since she moved here and started it in 1996. While it had a dues-paying membership in the dozens and had dozens proudly wave signs on Women’s Suffrage and Roe v. Wade days, the required monthly meetings had dwindled to Connie and just a couple of other regulars. With Connie’s death and the moving away and illness of the other two board members, [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. The County will vote April 12th to give the SPCA an extra $150,000 a year “effective immediately” to operate the Marathon animal shelter. This further compounds, until the end of time, the already-$1,000,000 taxpayer loss I have described previously due to the County’s illegal demolition of Stand Up For Animals (SUFA) in 2010 and its replacement by a group of Commissioner George Neugent’s friends, SHARK, who ran it into the ground. Shortly after the County extended SHARK’s’ contract for the Middle Keys shelter [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. I went to the County Commission meeting when it came to my neighborhood on Feb 15th in order to object to George Neugent, as the Commission’s honorary Mayor, giving ceremonial recognition to a local nonprofit that teaches leadership. My objection was threefold: First, they voted George in as Mayor within a month of his getting public censure and reprimand by the Florida Commission on Ethics. Second, the Commission sued the innocent members of a nonprofit board for two years, until it was [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. Judge Koenig Supports Self-Recused Judge Helms, Requiring a 3rd Amendment of Plaintiffs’ Case The installation of grinder pumps up the Keys in many homes that should have gravity systems has gotten a dedicated group of citizens to the barricades. In my mind, there is no doubt this was a foolish and illegal decision made by FKAA and the County. The Dump the Pumps group simply wants a judge to look at the same statutes that I’m looking at and agree that gravity, [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. I’m writing this mainly for Cynthia, who is depressed and scared. There is no way I can “cheer you up” if you hate our new President-Elect, but I’m hoping you’ll take the gun out of your mouth. It is not as bad as you think. The Republic will survive, maybe even thrive. The actual good news? TED CRUZ. If nothing else, Donald saved us from a true extremist Tea Partier. Compared to Ted’s, Donald’s policies are highly enlightened. The ones I like [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. I flew again to Tallahassee to attend the sentencing hearing for George Neugent’s three violations of our state’s ethics laws. I went to object to their absurdly light penalties—in particular, only a single $500 fine for not reporting his golf membership for years, missing dozens of quarterly reports of the $1,500 quarterly gift, 15 times the reporting requirement of over $100. The Ethics Commission had given George a separate violation and $500 fine for each of the two years he had filed [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. Pulling into a checkout lane in Publix last Friday after Matthew, I saw dirt on the floor. The checkout lady was wiping up dirt from all along the counter. The cause? A dozen potted plants in one of four grocery carts stuffed with goods. The buyer had walked away to get his credit card approved, because, I saw on the screen, his bill was $2,760 dollars. When he got back to swipe his card, I said, “That’s the biggest grocery bill I’ve [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. George Neugent avoided going before a state Administrative Law Judge by stipulating that he committed three violations of the Florida Constitution and Ethics Statutes. As reported here in August, he did not declare his free golf club membership for many years, and made numerous material false reports on his financial disclosure forms.
by Rick Boettger……. County Attorney Bob Shillinger on Destroying SUFA: “In other words, this was all a setup to give the contract to somebody else.” That was his response in an attorney-client closed session to Commissioner George Neugent’s question, “Where do we stand right now?” This was in April of 2012. The County had destroyed Stand Up For Animals, which had an outstanding record of animal control in the Middle Keys for 7 years, by freezing their funds. The Third District Court of Appeals had ruled [continue reading…]
by Richard Boettger……. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When asked this as kids, we understood that what we would “be” is actually what we would do to earn money. That is, what earns money is what defines who we are as human beings. Well, all of us are grown up now, and in fact the majority of my crowd have long ago quit doing what we used to do to earn money. So what are we now? What, or who, are [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. You would think I would be a big fan of the Ethics Commission. After all, I filed three complaints, and two were upheld for a total of three violations. Many people are amazed and impressed that I got any favorable holdings at all, given their own experiences. They told me the Ethics Commission is just like the FDLE and police internal reviews, just white-washing for the guilty. After seeing the details of how my case was handled, I now agree, with a [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. On Friday the Florida Ethics Commission meeting in Tallahassee concluded a 21-month investigation of long-serving George Neugent by finding “probable cause” he violated two ethical laws a total of three times. He got off, as expected, on the charge that initiated my investigation of his affairs: the destruction of SUFA, Stand Up For Animals, and its director, Linda Gottwald, in 2010. My second charge was clear. I saw his financial disclosure forms for two recent years and they were so poorly [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. I really like Tony Yaniz. He was the lone Commissioner who fought to get two-way traffic back to North Roosevelt Boulevard, saving desperate local businesses. I know he is always on the job, and believe he always tries to do what is good for his district and the city. But on returning to twice/week garbage pickup, we respectfully disagree, as in “Tony, you gotta be kiddin’ me!” We met by chance last Wednesday afternoon and I asked if I could get city [continue reading…]