Jul 292016
 
Voters Have the Opportunity to Remove State Attorney Catherine Vogel From Office in November

*****JOURNALISM AS A CONTACT SPORT***** Commentary by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Election Day this year is November 8. That may seem like a long time away, but it’s not too early to remind you that State Attorney Catherine Vogel– in my opinion the most corrupt state attorney in recent memory– is up for reelection. It’s not too early to remind voters of her on-purpose incompetence in “prosecuting” the Key West police officers who allegedly murdered 62-year-old Charles Eimers on the beach here on Thanksgiving Day 2013. [continue reading…]

Jul 152016
 
THE BEST ARGUMENT AGAINST DEMOCRACY IS A FIVE-MINUTE CONVERSATION WITH THE AVERAGE VOTER. MAYBE NOT SO TRUE IN KEY WEST-- BECAUSE OF THE HOMETOWN! POLITICAL FORUMS

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. I typically resist starting anything I write with a quote from somebody famous. But I’m going to break my rule this time. In fact, I’m going to quote Winston Churchill twice, starting with: “Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Most Americans agree that democracy is a superior form of government. But we have a problem. To make our democratic system work best, an informed electorate is essential. [continue reading…]

Jun 242016
 
WHERE THE HECK IS THE SOUTHERNMOST POINT?

by Dennis Reeves Cooper… The Southernmost Point. That big red buoy at the southern end of Whitehead Street. One of the top tourist attractions on the island. But most Key Westers know that the big red buoy does not really mark the actual geographic Southernmost Point. The actual Southernmost Point is supposedly a few blocks on the other side of that fence on Navy property, right? But if the buoy were placed over there, very few tourists would be able to go there and get [continue reading…]

Jun 172016
 
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DIE IN KEY WEST?

  by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. I WAS JUST WONDERING. I have been writing columns for The Blue Paper since 1994. And many, if not most of the concepts for those columns started with “just wondering” about how something works or the truth about a particular topic. Maybe because I’m getting older, I have recently been wondering about what happens– or what HAS to happen– when a person dies in Key West. As with many stories, this one turned out to be more complex (and maybe [continue reading…]

Jun 102016
 
WHO DO YOU CALL IF YOU SEE A PELICAN ENTANGLED IN FISHING LINE SO THAT HE CAN'T EAT OR FLY?

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. I hope you saw my story about the Key West chickens that appeared here in The Blue Paper April 29. In that story, I reported that, for several years, the Key West Wildlife Center (KWWC) has been contracted by the City of Key West to manage a program to rescue injured chickens, provide medical care, and arrange relocation to selected farms and orchards on the mainland where the chickens can retire in peace. As part of my research for that story, [continue reading…]

May 272016
 
FIGHTING FIRE IN KEY WEST

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Today, if you dial 911 to report a fire, the Key West Fire Department will typically be at the scene of the fire within five minutes. When I was researching this story and former Fire Chief Eddie Castro gave me that information, I asked the question again. “Come on, Chief, five minutes from the time the call comes into the fire station to fighting the fire does not seem credible.” “Well, actually,” he said– lecturing me like one of my old [continue reading…]

May 132016
 
AL GORE SAYS THAT THE SEA LEVEL MAY RISE BY 20 FEET WORLDWIDE IN THE NEAR FUTURE. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HOW CLIMATE CHANGE AND GLOBAL WARMING MAY AFFECT KEY WEST AND THE KEYS

Commentary by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Have you been keeping up with the climate change/global warming controversy? Well, if you live in the Florida Keys– and especially if you own property here, where most of the land area is only about five feet or less above sea level– you might want to at least try to stay current on this topic. After all, former vice president and almost-president of the United States of America Al Gore has said that “sea level could be rising as much [continue reading…]

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…]

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…]