Apr 292016
 
LIKE KEY WESTERS OVER THE YEARS, THE ISLAND'S GYPSY CHICKENS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN DEFYING AUTHORITY

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Why does a chicken cross the road? No matter what the answer might be, one thing is certain in Key West– the chickens are always crossing the road. And in most instances, those of us who are driving cars or riding mopeds give them the right-of-way. Key West’s chickens are part of the color and history of the island. After all, they’ve been here for at least 200 years– or even longer. Some say that chickens came with the pirates who [continue reading…]

 April 29, 2016  Posted by at 12:50 am Issue #164, Journalism as a Contact Sport No Responses »
Apr 082016
 
A LOT OF STUFF YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE NAVY IN KEY WEST

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. The presence of the US Navy in Key West dates back to 1822, when Lt. Commander Matthew C. Perry sailed the Navy schooner Shark into Key West Harbor and claimed the island for the United States. Only about 100 people lived here at that time. Although Florida had become a US territory a year earlier, there were still some questions about the ownership of the Keys. Keep in mind that even after the 13 American colonies had declared independence from British [continue reading…]

Mar 252016
 
THE MOCK SECESSION IN 1982 WAS AMUSING. BUT THE IMMIGRATION AND DRUG TRAFFICKING SITUATION IN THE KEYS AT THAT TIME-- THE REASON THE FEDS BLOCKED THE ROAD-- WAS NOT FUNNY AT ALL

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Has it really been 34 years since the US Border Patrol set up a roadblock on US 1, right in front of the Last Chance Saloon in Florida City, effectively blocking the only road out of the Keys? Although that is not a national border and never has been, Border Patrol agents started stopping every vehicle coming out of the Keys on April 18, 1982, and requiring every occupant of every vehicle to show proof of citizenship– presumably looking for Cubans [continue reading…]

Mar 112016
 
HOW MUCH DOES THE CITY OF KEY WEST PAY OUT EVERY YEAR TO SETTLE LAWSUITS?

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. If suddenly, you found yourself in charge of running the City of Key West, you would learn very quickly that a significant cost of doing business is dealing with lawsuits against the City– and, of course, the cost of staffing a Legal Department. Over the years, we here at The Blue Paper have periodically published stories about lawsuits against the City and, subsequently, the payouts to the plaintiffs in these cases. Of course, the most interesting cases are those in which [continue reading…]

Feb 122016
 
The Missing $22,000 at Horace O'Bryant School: Why Potential Whistleblowers are Hesitating to Come Forward

Commentary by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. How smart do you have to be to serve on the Monroe County School Board? This would seem to be a logical question considering the Board members’ history of dealing with internal theft of taxpayer money– as well as their treatment of whistleblowers. Surely you remember the infamous Acevedo scandal. It was former School District Financial Director Kathy Reitzel who uncovered and reported Monique Acevedo’s theft of $413,000 of School District funds. And she was also the State Attorney’s star [continue reading…]

 February 12, 2016  Posted by at 1:08 am Issue #153, Journalism as a Contact Sport 6 Responses »
Jan 152016
 
YES, IT IS A LITTLE EASIER NOW FOR KEY WESTERS TO TRAVEL TO CUBA. BUT CUBA AIN'T "OPEN" YET-- NOT BY A LONG SHOT!

Music Video by local artist Miguel Perez, “90 Miles”, miguelperezmusic.com by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Last week, I was doing some research, looking through some of the early issues of The Blue Paper when I ran across a little article headlined “U.S. Could Authorize Travel to Cuba.” According to that article, which was published in our April 15, 1994, issue, then-Senator John Kerry was seeking “to pry open the Clinton administration’s hardline Cuban policy by pushing for an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (FRAA).” The [continue reading…]

Jan 012016
 
AN ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER WHO CAN'T VOTE -- or Serve on a Jury, or Hold Public Office or Possess a Firearm. So What's the Big Deal? This is Key West, After All

Journalism as a Contact Sport Commentary by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. If you are convicted of a felony in Florida, you lose more than your freedom for a few years (or more than a few years)– you lose a number of civil rights– like voting, serving on a jury, holding public office and possessing a firearm. And you lose those rights forever– although there is a clemency process through which convicted felons may seek restoration of their rights. Key West Assistant City Manager Greg Veliz is [continue reading…]

 January 1, 2016  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #147, Journalism as a Contact Sport 1 Response »
Dec 252015
 
CELEBRATING A MERRY CHRISTMAS-- IN SHORTS

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. The Christmas holidays. A wonderful time of the year, wherever you are. But celebrating Christmas in Key West is, well, sort of surreal– even for those who were born here and those of us who have lived here for years. And for those who are visiting here for the holidays, it has to be really strange to be walking around among all the Christmas decorations in the bars and stores and seeing those big candy canes hanging on the lamp posts [continue reading…]

 December 25, 2015  Posted by at 1:07 am Issue #146, Journalism as a Contact Sport No Responses »
Dec 182015
 
UPDATE: KATHY REITZEL HAS APPEALED JUDGE JONES' RULING IN HER UNLAWFUL FIRING CASE. IF SHE WERE STILL ON THE JOB, WOULD SHE HAVE UNCOVERED AND QUICKLY DOCUMENTED ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE HOB FINANCIAL SCANDAL?

Commentary by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Well, there’s another financial scandal at the Monroe County School District. More than $20,000 has gone missing from the daycare program at Horace O’Bryant School. And apparently, School District officials have absolutely no clue as to what may have happened to the money. No clue at all. None. Was the money stolen or is this latest financial scandal just the result of sloppy bookkeeping? Nobody seems to know. The money is just missing. But based on the recent history of [continue reading…]

Dec 112015
 
JIM SCHOLL: THE ONLY KEY WEST CITY MANAGER WHO HASN'T BEEN FIRED OVER THE PAST 25 YEARS

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. I sat down this week with City Manager Jim Scholl to talk about the state of the city, problems, accomplishments, politics and a variety of other topics. To say the least, Scholl is “special” in terms of city history. Over the past 25 years, he is the only city manager who wasn’t fired. And he is the only two-term city manager. Assuming that many, if not most, of those reading this story have not been here for 25 years, maybe some [continue reading…]

Nov 202015
 
NEW MARIJUANA LAW: NO CITATIONS SO FAR

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Last July, the City Commission amended Chap. 42 of the City’s Code of Ordinances to give police officers more discretion when busting people caught with very small quantities of marijuana. Rather than arresting and hauling off to jail people found with less than 20 grams (less than an ounce), officers now have the discretion to, instead, issue a civil citation– like a traffic ticket. Rather than possibly ending up with a criminal record, these individuals would simply pay a $100 fine.. [continue reading…]

Oct 302015
 
Oxymoron: Parking in Old Town

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Oxymoron is defined as a figure of speech that is incongruous and seemingly self-contradictory. Thus, I present to you the phrase “parking in Old Town.” The problem here is not that there is no place to park in Old Town. There are lots of places to park. It’s just that there are often more drivers looking for parking spaces– usually free parking spaces– than there are spaces. And it’s not like city commissioners and city managers haven’t been trying to address [continue reading…]

Oct 092015
 
***BREAKING*** CANVASSING BOARD RULES THAT BOB DEAN LIVES IN THAT LITTLE APARTMENT ON BAHAMA STREET AND NOT WITH HIS WIFE IN THAT BIG HOUSE IN KEY HAVEN. WE'RE NOT MAKING THIS UP

Video by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Commentary by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Suppose that you are inclined to tell people that you own the Cow Key Channel Bridge and, furthermore, that you are willing to sell it for a reasonable price. And suppose that you hear that there are three Key West residents who might be gullible enough to actually believe that you do own the bridge and who might be willing to make an offer. Who do you think those three people might be? How [continue reading…]

Oct 092015
 
A GOOD-NEWS STORY ABOUT A CITY GOVERNMENT AGENCY. WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?!

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. If you are a longtime Key Wester and a longtime reader of The Blue Paper, you know that when I ran the paper from 1994 until 2012, Code Enforcement (or Code Compliance, as the department is now known) was in the news a lot. And why not. Allegations of corruption were rampant. And reporting corruption was our specialty. More than a million dollars in fines were going uncollected. It was rumored that many businesses were avoiding coming into compliance with code [continue reading…]

Oct 022015
 
WILL KEY HAVEN RESIDENT BOB DEAN REALLY VOTE IN THE KEY WEST ELECTIONS NEXT WEEK? HIS LAWYER SAYS HE WILL. THE STATE ATTORNEY SAYS HE SHOULDN'T

Commentary by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Several years ago, I moved from one apartment to another here in Key West. At that time, I still owned Key West The Newspaper– The Blue Paper– and I was, therefore, a little more concerned about “appearances” than I am now, as an old retired guy. I knew that when one moves, there are laws that have to be considered concerning updating home addresses on drivers licenses, voting registrations, etc.– and although I didn’t really know the details about what legal [continue reading…]

Jan 162015
 
JE SUIS CHARLIE!

by Dennis Reeves Cooper This is a followup to my letter to the editor that was published last week. It was in reference to the massacre of eight employees at a small newspaper in Paris by Islamic terrorists. The newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, which specializes in satire, had published cartoons that made fun of the Prophet Muhammad. Reportedly, however, the newspaper’s editors are equal opportunity satirists, routinely ridiculing powerful people in government and business as well as political, corporate, social– and religious organizations. All religious organizations, [continue reading…]

 January 16, 2015  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #97, Journalism as a Contact Sport 16 Responses »
Jan 092015
 
Dennis Reeves Cooper On Charlie Hebdo Tragedy

By now, you have probably heard the news from Paris: A little newspaper was raided by presumably Islamic terrorists after the paper published cartoons which made fun of the prophet Muhammad. At least 10 employees of the paper were shot dead. Back in 2006, employees at a Danish newspaper received death threats after publishing similar cartoons. This became an international story– although management of most media made the decision not to re-publish the actual cartoons. Here in Key West, however, I made the decision to [continue reading…]

Sep 192014
 
BLUE WALL OF SILENCE COST CITY ALMOST $300,000!

by Dennis Reeves Cooper….. By now, you have probably read in the daily paper or heard on the radio that the City of Key West has agreed to pay former Key West cop Matt Klosowski $ 287,500 to settle a six-year-old whistle-blower lawsuit. But you probably don’t know the rest of the story. The real significance of this story is that the Mayor and City Commissioners now know that the Blue Wall of Silence is alive and well inside the Key West Police Department. The [continue reading…]

Sep 122014
 
BODY CAMERAS FOR COPS?

By Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Apparently, enough is enough. Use of  excessive force by police officers, that is– real or imagined. More and more police departments across the nation are equipping officers with body cameras that can record both audio and video. The increasing use of this new technology has two goals: (1) Help try to catch cops who might use excessive force during arrests and other interactions with citizens; and (2) To try to protect cops from false allegations by citizens. Just last week, the [continue reading…]

Sep 052014
 
VOTER ALERT: IN THE WAKE OF THE EIMERS GRAND JURY SCANDAL, STATE ATTORNEY VOGEL IS UP FOR REELECTION IN 2016

State Attorney Catherine Vogel’s office is corrupt. This statement might appear to some readers to be an attempt on my part to be a bit sensational. But it’s not. Informed government-watchers reading this are more likely to simply yawn and silently ask, “So what’s your point?” I have been reporting to my readers for years the varying degrees of corruption on the part of the various residents of the State Attorney’s Office (SAO). I have repeatedly pointed out that prosecutors knowingly allow police officers to [continue reading…]

Nov 082013
 
TWENTY YEARS LATER:  Was Harry Powell Right?

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. NOTE: For years, the large piece of undeveloped Navy property at White Street and Palm Avenue was used as a park by Key Westers. So when the Navy announced that the property, known as Peary Court, was to be developed for military housing, many locals protested. They argued that the Navy really didn’t need any more housing in Key West and, in fact, was in the process of reducing its presence in here. But it was a hard argument to win. [continue reading…]

Sep 132013
 
THE DAY THE BLUE PAPER ALMOST TOOK OVER SOLARES HILL

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. If you are a longtime reader of Key West The Newspaper, you may know that I retired last November after running the paper for 18 years. But I may have one more adventure in me, so I have applied to join the Peace Corps. While that application is pending, I told new publishers Naja and Arnaud Girard that I would be happy to make some editorial contributions to their new online venture. The start point to my piece this week is [continue reading…]