Over-Development, Cronyism, and Corruption in the Middle Keys

 
Over-Development, Cronyism, and Corruption in the Middle Keys

Cities and towns love development. The more the better. More money – for rich people – more tourists, and more – low paying – jobs. That’s partly why the Marathon City Council rubberstamped a proposal to redevelop the Sombrero Country Club into what will become Florida Keys Resort. The newly approved development may also endanger […]

It’s The Law, Man

 
It’s The Law, Man

Wasting police time; wasting taxpayer dollars There aren’t many issues that Americans agree on in this era of divisive politics. The country has been fractured by innumerable partisan confrontations from foreign wars to immigration to birth control. And yet a clear majority of people in the United States do consistently agree on one issue: legalization […]

Murder-for-hire Perpetrator Gets Maximum Allowable Sentence

 
Murder-for-hire Perpetrator Gets Maximum Allowable Sentence

“I am the victim. My life has changed dramatically.” So said an emotional Bruce Schmitt at a court session for the man who tried to have him killed. At the session, a clearly frustrated U.S. federal judge, Jose E. Martinez, imposed the maximum allowable ten-year sentence on admitted murder-for-hire perpetrator Dennis Zecca in a sentencing […]

Let ‘em fry!

 
Let ‘em fry!

  Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test, [the poor] fail, and for this they are despised. – George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, 1933 Apparently it never rains in the Keys. And the hot sun doesn’t beat down mercilessly. That must be the thinking of the local […]

BOOK REVIEW: Sustainable [R]evolution [North Atlantic Books]

 
BOOK REVIEW: Sustainable [R]evolution  [North Atlantic Books]

Reading Juliana Birnbaum and Louis Fox’s new book is both exhilarating and depressing. Exhilarating because the volume describes in varying detail more than 62 ecovillages, urban farms, and communities from all over the world working toward sustainability. But the paperback is also a downer because it highlights what can be accomplished but isn’t in almost […]

More Bull from Marathon City Council

 
More Bull from Marathon City Council

  The Marathon City Council on Tuesday agreed to spend as much as $ 9,250 to investigate the true cost associated with moving a historic Fresnel lighthouse lens back to Marathon. – Florida Keys Keynoter This is not a joke. Well, not an actual meant-to-be-funny-joke anyway. It might be Vice Mayor Chris Bull’s idea of […]

Welber on Welber: Special Interest Trumps Climate Action

 
Welber on Welber: Special Interest Trumps Climate Action

“I’m very proud of that,” Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent said after looking through the climate assessment last week. “I’m very proud to be part of an initiation in a region that contains millions of people.” – Neugent commenting on praise for four-county compact that produced the Southeast Regional Action Plan Blue Paper We want […]

No Truth To Name Change Rumors In Middle Keys

 
No Truth To Name Change Rumors In Middle Keys

Rumors raced around the Middle Keys this week that Marathon was changing the city’s name to The Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce City, Inc. A Blue Paper investigation revealed that, evidence to the contrary, the city would remain as Marathon despite heavy influence by the Chamber. Nor would Marathon now be called Schmittville or Ramsayburg. […]

Sacred Cows and Hypocrisy at City Hall

 
Sacred Cows and Hypocrisy at City Hall

When Key West city commissioners voted to override staff recommendations and choose a higher bid for trash pickup, people in the audience were stunned. But no one was more stunned than Jody Smith Williams. Smith Williams played a central role in getting the city to hire Kessler Consulting. Their job was to study how trash […]

Dearth Day: How Even Environmentalists Are Accepting The Inevitable

 
Dearth Day: How Even Environmentalists Are Accepting The Inevitable

When sorrow draws near, The gardens of the soul will lie desolate, Wilting; joy and song will die. Dark is life, dark is death.   Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) – Gustav Mahler It was Earth Day this week. Companies peddling environmentally sound products flooded in-boxes with promos for Earth […]

The Dumbshine State

 
The Dumbshine State

A rally last week in Tallahassee was staged to encourage solar energy development in Florida. Fortunately it became political because otherwise the mainstream media might not have covered it. Organizers used the event to accuse Gov. Rick Scott of blocking solar energy initiatives in the state at the behest of the big power companies. Because […]

What Part of “No” Does Crane Point Not Get?

 
What Part of “No” Does Crane Point Not Get?

Last week’s announcement that the Crane Point Nature Center would back away from a $ 727,000 federal grant via the city of Marathon and also give up a height variance allowing towers higher than what Marathon normally allows had opponents of the proposed zip-line attraction cheering. Lost in the celebration, however, was Crane Point board […]

Crane Point Points Fingers

 
Crane Point Points Fingers

When the Department of Economic Opportunity, source of a $ 727,000 Community Development Block Grant to Marathon for the construction of a zip-line course at the Crane Point Nature Center, asked for justification for Crane Point’s delinquency in submitting two required and very late documents, board chair Jeff Smith wrote, “The delays are attributed to […]

Tourists: We Want Their Dollars Without Providing Services

 
Tourists: We Want Their Dollars Without Providing Services

Anyone who has ever lived in the northern part of the country knows how alluring the blue skies and sandy beaches of the Keys can be during the winter, especially a winter as brutal as the one that the Midwest and Northeast have just experienced. Visitors come here primarily for the warmth and not for […]

Mano a Mano: Yard Waste Redux

 
Mano a Mano: Yard Waste Redux

In the following interview, Blue Paper columnist Michael Welber interviews former environmental activist Michael Welber. This Welber launched the city of Marathon Green Team in 2007, was a member of what was then called Monroe County’s Green Initiative Task Force, and has written extensively about environmental issues. He wrote recently (http://thebluepaper.com/article/debate-about-yard-waste-incineration-flares-up/) about the county’s plans […]

Marathon Diary: Sliding into Chaos

 
Marathon Diary: Sliding into Chaos

Exhibit A: Democracy takes a back seat in the Middle Keys The Marathon City Council, after some promises about making careful considerations, wasted no time in appointing former councilman John Bartus to the seat recently and abruptly vacated by Ginger Snead. Snead, to the shock of many, had suddenly resigned citing “rumors.” It’s never been […]

Group Raises Another Obstacle to Zip Line

 
Group Raises Another Obstacle to Zip Line

Marathon and the Florida Keys Land and Sea Trust, the operator of Crane Point Nature Center are being taken to court over the issue of the height of some of the hulking towers that would be part of the zip-line course at the site. The dispute centers around a height variance granted by Marathon planning […]