Feb 122016
 

whistle

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 witness in the case. Her testimony was instrumental in convicting Monique’s then-husband, Randy Acevedo, who was then Superintendent of Schools. He was charged with obstruction of justice for trying to cover up Monique’s criminal activity. And the case that Reitzel made was apparently also strong enough to convince Monique to avoid a trial by pleading guilty.

You probably recall what happened next. Monique was sent to prison. Randy was removed from office and placed on probation. Then, inexplicably, School District officials forced Reitzel to resign. In essence, they fired her. They fired their whistleblower! And they fired their key prosecution witness! In a commentary published here in The Blue Paper last December, I asked this question: What did the members of the School Board think would happen after they fired the whistleblower in what is probably the largest theft case in the history of the School District? What they should have known would happen is that, in future cases of theft, few if any whistleblowers would ever come forward. Few if any! Ever!

So . . . I hate to tell you I told you so. But I told you so. Now we have the apparent theft of almost $22,000 at Horace O’Bryant School– and nobody seems to know what happened to it. And when School Board attorneys sent an email asking a number of employees to come in and tell officials what they might know about the case, do you know what happened? None of those employees even responded to the email, much less showed up to talk to officials! And why would they, considering the Board’s history of punishing whistleblowers?! School Board members seemed surprised. Even shocked. Some have even asked the Board attorney if employees can be FORCED to blow the whistle– or at least answer questions. School Board member Ed Davidson was quoted in the Keynoter as saying, “Any staff member who refuses to cooperate should be suspended immediately without pay until they see the light and come to Jesus.” Of course, Davidson stopped short of warning potential whistleblowers that, once they have “ratted on their Conch buddies” (language used by Davidson during his interview with the Keynoter), Board officials might immediately fire their Conch asses– just like they fired Kathy Reitzel!

There is nothing complicated here. I would suggest that School District employees’ hesitation to cooperate has very little to do with potentially ratting on their Conch buddies– or even coming to Jesus. But it has everything to do with the School Board’s documented record of punishing– not rewarding– whistleblowers.

 February 12, 2016  Posted by at 1:08 am Issue #153, Journalism as a Contact Sport 4 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 […]

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. […]

 January 1, 2016  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #147, Journalism as a Contact Sport 1 Response »
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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-BxnL_COmE&feature=youtu.be 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 […]

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 […]

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

[responsive_youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_P_wOXDfQ8] 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 […]

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 […]

 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]