Mar 242017
 
Is Monroe a “Sanctuary County”?

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. If you’re like us, you probably think, what in the world is a Sanctuary City or County? Some sort of governmental civil disobedience? This week we followed the case of an immigration “hold” detainee at the county jail where we learned of the Monroe County Sheriff’s position on the subject. In the following order: Monroe County is not a sanctuary county, then it is, and then it is not.

Mar 172017
 
Deportation of Two Legal Restaurant Workers: The Beginning of the End?

Commentary by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. The plane that carried Jean Dervil back to Haiti landed late Thursday in Port-au-Prince. With him were 250 more deportees from the United States. To put it mildly, it has been puzzling for our readers to watch our documentary about a beloved, hard-working Haitian man, married to an American citizen, and to come to the realization that it may now be the policy of the federal government to deport people with valid work permits. 

Mar 102017
 
Key West: Legal Restaurant Workers Being Deported

We are so sorry if you are not seeing the video above.  Some readers have mentioned that they are not able to see the video on certain devices.  If you are having this issue would you please send us a note letting us know what device you were using.  Please email:  editor@thebluepaper.com.  Thank you!

Mar 032017
 
Bathroom-less Vacation Villas? The Hawk's Cay Inquiry Continues...

by Naja Girard……. Did a county planning manager, developer Pritam Singh, and a Hawk’s Cay HOA manager lie under oath to the Monroe County Planning Commissioners in 2014? They all swore that county records showed there were 12 unbuilt “leftover” hotel units at the Hawks Cay resort on Duck Key. “They are vested rights,” claimed Mr. Singh, who convinced the board to approve a transfer of those 12 hotel units to his new project at Oceanside marina. However, when The Blue Paper discovered that there were over 60 [continue reading…]

Mar 032017
 
Officer Reprimanded for "Attitude Arrest " of Homeless Man

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. A Blue Paper report about the rough arrest of Kristopher Knight in front of Key West’s Publix grocery store last month created quite a stir among our readers. The initial bystander video showed Mr. Knight screaming in pain while Key West police officers were handling him. His hands were already cuffed and his legs had been tied with some sort of leash [a hobble strap]. It was not clear what kind of resistance the short 25-year-old would still have been able to [continue reading…]

Feb 102017
 
A Time-Bomb in the County's New Land Use Code?

Feb 10, 2017 Commentary by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….  Contrary to popular belief, adding one or two “lock-outs” to your home and renting them to tourists without getting any separate building allocations was legal after all! Developer, Pritam Singh, bless his soul, has shown us the way: He took 79 “permanent residential” building rights [called ROGOs] and transferred them to Oceanside Marina and, after adding 79 “lock-outs” and 17 hotel rooms, he’s now renting all 175 “units” to tourists. It could appear unlawful and it has upset a [continue reading…]

Jan 272017
 
Key West's Hospital Privatization Deal: A Preliminary Autopsy

by  Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Once upon a time Key West had a large piece of land on Stock Island where our Hospital District built a brand new hospital. It was meant to “protect the availability of needed hospital services to residents of the district, including indigent residents.” That was 1972. By 1999 the Hospital District had signed a deal which, in essence, privatized the entire lower Keys hospital care system. The deal went down in the midst of intense controversy, as a completely opaque [continue reading…]

 January 27, 2017  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #203, Naja and Arnaud Girard, News 2 Responses »
Jan 202017
 
Oceanside Marina: It's Getting Worse...

by Naja Girard……. The cloud over the new Oceanside Marina hotel is getting darker. For months questions have been lingering about the appearance of a luxury 175-room hotel on Stock Island when only 17 hotel building rights (called “transient ROGO’s”) were on file for the project (instead of 175). Well, things just got worse. There is good reason, this week, to question whether 12 of those lone 17 transient (hotel) ROGO’s even existed or whether they were created out of thin air using false documents. It [continue reading…]

Jan 202017
 
Key West and President Trump

LOCALS TALK ABOUT NEW PRESIDENT FEATURING ED RUSSO, AUTHOR OF “DONALD J. TRUMP: AN ENVIRONMENTAL HERO” by Arnaud Girard……. Donald Trump is now our President. What might be the effect, good or bad, of the new presidency on our lives, the local environment, businesses, our local school system, our relations with Cuba and more? Where local economy and new immigration policy collide Key West’s is booming.  Old fish houses and RV parks with handfuls of employees have been replaced by sprawling restaurants and high class hotels. [continue reading…]

Jan 062017
 
Oceanside Marina Part Two:  The "Condo Wars"

Just as we were wondering whether Pritam Singh’s soon to open “175-room Hotel” on Stock Island was legal, The Blue Paper received an interesting tip. Pritam Singh is suing 7 of his neighbors for alleged unlawful vacation rental use of their condos at Oceanside Marina. He wants them to rent long-term. The $100 million question is whether there is in fact any difference between those old condos (2003) and the new ones recently built by Mr. Singh at that very same marina. They look like [continue reading…]

Dec 302016
 
Oceanside Marina: Bait & Switch

December 30, 2016 by Naja Girard……. He is renowned for his real estate prowess, selling 100-million-dollar hotels in Key West as if they are going out of style: Parrot Key Resort on Roosevelt Boulevard in 2014 sold for $100,000,000 and only 1 year later, in March of 2015, The Marker near Key West Bight sold for $96,250,000). Pritam Singh, dubbed the Donald Trump of the Keys, is now ready to unveil his latest creation: Ocean’s Edge Key West on Stock Island (the old Oceanside Marina). People will say, “It’s [continue reading…]

Dec 162016
 
Could the City Take Back the Hospital?

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. “He put some superglue on the wound, a piece of gauze and taped it,” says Dan Schramm, who went to the ER at Lower Keys Medical Center last year for a deep gash above his eye. “The doctor didn’t even clean up the wound at all and later it got infected.” The whole thing took about “two minutes.” He says the hospital charged him $4,000 for the ER and he was billed another $800 for the doctor. Over the past [continue reading…]

Dec 162016
 
Judge Disqualifies Herself From Grinder Pump Case After Entering Order of Dismissal

by Naja Girard……. Circuit Judge Bonnie Helms disqualified herself last Friday, without explanation, from a case she had ordered dismissed just 2 days earlier. The case, a petition for declaratory judgment, was brought by Louise Delaney and Gail Kulikowsky, two Big Pine Key area property owners who are challenging Monroe County and FKAA over the agencies’ insistence that they sign over an easement for a portion of their yards and provide an expensive high-powered electrical connection so an onsite grinder sewage pump system can be installed [continue reading…]

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:52 am Naja and Arnaud Girard, News 8 Responses »
Dec 092016
 
Fight at Key West High / Student Arrested

IF PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE TO SURVIVE… Commentary by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Last week’s Blue Paper report on the re-segregation of Key West’s public schools has generated a lot of comments and questions.  What makes the new charter schools so appealing to mostly white parents? The video of a recent fight at Key West High speaks for itself. Academics are a great concern for parents and so is safety. We had previously received similar reports of kids ganging up on a lone student: Four kids [continue reading…]

Dec 022016
 
MONROE COUNTY'S SECRET ROADMAP TO RE-SEGREGATION

The controversy over Key West’s charter schools rocked the school board during last week’s meeting.  “How do we know this is not going to be another white-flight school?” asked longtime school board member Andy Griffiths about a new charter middle school.  Some fear an exodus of white students toward charter schools will leave the district run public schools with insufficient resources and failing grades. For others, the specter of re-segregation is simply intolerable. The numbers are telling: Key West’s Horace O’Bryant [HOB], the district run public [continue reading…]

Dec 022016
 
Showdown at the Southernmost House

By Arnaud Girard……. If you are like us you’ve probably always wanted to take a tour of the iconic Southernmost House. Well yesterday we were called on a tip to go there and report on a mysterious “big story.” Police cars were already parked at the gate but surprisingly we were allowed inside. Ah! Amazing sculptures and paintings, trompe l’oeil ceilings painted like the sky, infinity swimming pool suspended over the turquoise ocean view. Priceless. But what was going on?

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #195, Naja and Arnaud Girard 4 Responses »
Nov 252016
 
Thanksgiving Celebrated at Homeless Shelter in Shadow of Terrible News

The homeless man was found face down on Smather’s Beach with his throat cut. Detectives are investigating. SHAL Raising Funds for Homeless Bus Tickets From SHAL’s Press Release: The Southernmost Homeless Assistance League (SHAL) is asking for community support for its popular reunification program this holiday season.

Nov 042016
 
Is Local Politics Getting in the Way of Public Safety?

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. It’s 4:45 p.m. in New Town, Key West.  A silver Honda has just crashed into the car of two rangers from Dry Tortugas National Park. The Honda driver, reeking of alcohol, is stumbling away from the scene toward Duck Avenue. He is Robert Bethel, the 34-year-old son of Harry Bethel, a former City Commissioner.

Oct 282016
 
Giant Property Tax Breaks For Some: But What About Long-Term Rental Owners?

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. A few months back The Blue Paper discovered an infamous loophole by which the City of Key West rewards illegal vacation rental owners with transient rental licenses. This week a closer look at Monroe County’s property taxes revealed another troubling disparity: Some property owners have maneuvered to pay up to nearly 10 times less in property taxes than other owners of comparable properties.

Sep 162016
 
Mayday!! Fishing Boat Lands on Top of Rock Jetty [video]

The U.S. Coast Guard responded early Tuesday morning to a Mayday call on vhf radio sent by fishing vessel “Little Angenette.” About an hour before sunrise the “Little Angenette” missed the entrance to Key West harbor. The captain initially reported that he’d hit a channel marker and was sinking fast.

Sep 092016
 
Oh, Connie!

by Malcolm Willison….. Oh, Connie!  Can you be gone?  Can you really have taken away your impish face, those penetrating eyes, wry smile, the devastating remark? You would throw out an article or craft a poem that captured us—you could revel in a phrase or reveal a deepest longing.  We so counted on you–your quick wit, your sly remark, your careful edit of your own and others’ exposition and choice of words, your trenchant critique.   Now who will offer us that same left-handed support, the [continue reading…]

Sep 022016
 
A FEW GOOD LIES

by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….. The U.S. Navy is considering moving some 400 military families to Key West.  They would be supporting the Navy’s new Triton surveillance drone program. According to the Navy, the deployment shouldn’t be a problem, in terms of housing for new personnel, since the preliminary impact study drafted by the US Fleet Force Command shows that the Lower Keys area has a 43% housing vacancy rate. Key West, they claim, is a little bit tighter with only a 34% vacancy rate. The draft [continue reading…]

Sep 022016
 
City Manager Defends Amnesty Program for Hundreds of Illegal Transient Rentals by Claiming it's Not Happening

Commentary by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….. Four thousand dollars a week is not unusual for the rental of a house in Old Town – as long as you can rent to tourists – that is. Last Wednesday on US 1 Radio’s Morning Magazine, City Manager Jim Scholl went on the defensive amidst accusations that the City has been rewarding illegal transient rental operators. In a story published last week in The Blue Paper we revealed that in 2013 the City had changed the grandfathered-in date in its [continue reading…]

Aug 262016
 
Crime Pays in Key West, Especially When you Get Caught

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Prominent businessman Ed Swift got caught again illegally renting to tourists. The Conch Train owner and, ironically, advocate for affordable housing, was reported this week by The Keynoter as having been set up, again, by code enforcement officials who went undercover and rented two of his condo units at Key Cove Landing for 6 nights for roughly $600 a night. That was, apparently, the third time in a little over a year.  Swift certainly made a mistake. Or did he? [continue reading…]