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…]

Aug 192016
 
Developers to Build on Imaginary Land at Sunset Marina

by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….. To allow an additional 60 plus apartments on his property, a Key West developer nearly doubled the size of his parcel – on paper.  And some of the City Commissioners, who last month signed off on the development agreement, knew all about it. Under Key West zoning density ratios, developer/lawyer Barton Smith needed a minimum of 4.5 acres to build 62 new housing units on his property at Sunset Marina.

Aug 192016
 
Sting Operation: Corrections Deputy Arrested in $150,000 Deal to Help Inmate Escape

A Corrections deputy assigned to the Stock Island detention center was arrested yesterday charged with making a deal with an inmate: cash in exchange for helping him to escape. He was also charged with providing the inmate with contraband in the jail. 50 year old Elizardo Ortueta was reportedly acquainted with the inmate he allegedly made a deal with, 35 year old Albert Vizcaino Gonzalez, prior to his employment with the Sheriff’s Office; Vizcaino is in jail, convicted on drug trafficking charges. He faces a lengthy [continue reading…]

 August 19, 2016  Posted by at 1:00 am * Featured Story *, Issue #180 3 Responses »
Aug 122016
 
New Development at Sunset Marina: Commercial Slip Owners Cry Foul

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Liveaboards and low-income renters may not be the only victims of the Sunset Marina development agreement approved last month by the City Commission. Sunset Marina’s $2700/month “affordable housing” project appears to have also cheated small commercial boat owners out of over 100 legally required parking spaces. By the look of things, developers may also be lining things up to cheat the building department on permit fees by an estimated $125,000 [by misrepresenting construction costs by nearly 7 million dollars.]

Aug 122016
 
Florida Ethics Commission: A Sham Regulator

by Rick Boettger……. You would think I would be a big fan of the Ethics Commission.  After all, I filed three complaints, and two were upheld for a total of three violations. Many people are amazed and impressed that I got any favorable holdings at all, given their own experiences. They told me the Ethics Commission is just like the FDLE and police internal reviews, just white-washing for the guilty. After seeing the details of how my case was handled, I now agree, with a [continue reading…]

 August 12, 2016  Posted by at 12:40 am * Featured Story *, Rick Boettger 5 Responses »
Aug 052016
 
Key West Government and Big $ Developers, A Relationship Riddled with Impropriety

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. How do they do it? In the past few months developers convinced the City of Key West to pay them 12.5 million dollars for the promise not to raise rents beyond $2709 per month.  That was Peary Court, where 83% of the 2-bedroom units can now rent for that “middle-income” affordable level, $2709/month. [Low-income affordable is $1545.] Four weeks ago, it was Sunset Marina LLC [developers Barton Smith and Greg Oropeza] that managed to get around the City’s requirement for 30% [continue reading…]

 August 5, 2016  Posted by at 12:56 am * Featured Story *, Issue #178 18 Responses »
Jul 292016
 
County Mayor Pro Tem George Neugent Found in Violation and Facing Sanctions on Three Ethics Charges

  by Rick Boettger……. On Friday the Florida Ethics Commission meeting in Tallahassee concluded a 21-month investigation of long-serving George Neugent by finding “probable cause” he violated two ethical laws a total of three times. He got off, as expected, on the charge that initiated my investigation of his affairs: the destruction of SUFA, Stand Up For Animals, and its director, Linda Gottwald, in 2010. My second charge was clear. I saw his financial disclosure forms for two recent years and they were so poorly [continue reading…]

 July 29, 2016  Posted by at 9:27 pm * Featured Story *, Issue #177, News, Rick Boettger 14 Responses »
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 222016
 
"Devious" Developers Score on Offshore Island Development, 2016

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Remember, the first time you drove down US 1 all the way to Key West? We would like to take you from that glittering vision of hundreds of little green islands suspended over endless turquoise waters and sit you down in the boardroom of the County Commissioners who are in charge of protecting that whole magical expanse called the Florida Keys. Few issues in Monroe County have stirred as much passion and cloak and dagger plots as the development of those [continue reading…]

Jul 082016
 
Sunset Marina: Liveaboards in Jeopardy and More Afforable Housing Hocus-Pocus

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. “I love the place,” says Bryan, a taxi driver, who lives on a boat at Sunset Marina on Stock Island, “I can’t believe we’re going to have to move.” Living aboard — this Key West style solution to affordable housing — is in jeopardy at the marina.  While discussing the approval of expanded development during the City Commission meeting last Wednesday, Barton Smith, the developer, revealed that liveaboards would no longer be tolerated at the docks. Smith, an attorney, is [continue reading…]

Jul 012016
 
FBI Releases Investigative Report on Eimers Death-in-Custody Case

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. This week The Blue Paper received a copy of the FBI’s investigative report on the in-custody-death of Charles Eimers. About a year and a half ago Key West’s Citizen Review Board (CRB) wrote to the Department of Justice asking for an independent review of a drama that shook the town.  On the morning of his first day on our island paradise, 61-year-old tourist/homeless person, Charles Eimers, died in police custody. Initially it was reported by KWPD that on Thanksgiving morning an [continue reading…]

Jul 012016
 
County Mayor Heather Carruthers: Get The Facts About the New Florida Keys Stewardship Act

Dear Editor, I don’t know where to begin. I read with incredulity last week’s opinion piece by Mr. Kevin Diaz regarding the Florida Keys Stewardship Act (FKSA). It’s hard for me to comprehend how someone seeking to represent the citizens of Monroe County could so totally misunderstand what the Keys are about and it worries me that he could so totally misread this significant legislation. He has egregiously mischaracterized the Stewardship bill. Let’s start by explaining that there are some unique realities of land management [continue reading…]

Jun 242016
 
Kevin Diaz: The Clever Deception of the “Florida Keys Stewardship Act”

  by Kevin Diaz [candidate for State Representative, Dist,. 120]…… For many months now, we have heard our local leaders present the Florida Keys Stewardship Act as an amazing piece of legislation for Monroe County. However, there are many provisions within the Florida Keys Stewardship Act that put into question the purported positive impact of the bill. The Act essentially allows housing developers to build on environmentally critical land in our community. To top it off, it labels affordable housing as 160% of the median [continue reading…]

 June 24, 2016  Posted by at 7:09 am * Featured Story * 9 Responses »
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
 
Oxitec: Lord of the Mosquitoes

by Alexis d’Albissin and Arnaud Girard……. “We’re guinea pigs in their science experiment,“ said Dick Nalley. Like many of his neighbors in Key Haven, he has dotted his front yard with angry placards. The government, you see, together with a British biotech company called Oxitec, plans to release three million genetically modified mosquitoes into their small island neighborhood, 5 miles northeast of Key West. The ultimate goal is to test this new tool for stopping the propagation of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries dengue, chikungunya, and [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 272016
 
School Board's Discussion on Henriquez Rehiring: "[silence]"

FRONT PAGE COMMENTARY by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. NOT TO SPEAK IS TO SPEAK, NOT TO ACT IS TO ACT We wondered this week just how the Monroe County School Board was going to justify the rehiring of a disgraced employee, twice embroiled in school district financial scandals. While the board did approve the $105,000 a year salary for Mike Henriquez in his new, specially tailored, Director’s job, they simply made sure, during the public meeting, to never once utter his name. This is how the board, in [continue reading…]

May 202016
 
Peary Court: Affordable Housing Deal Goes Through / Units Can Legally Rent For $2709/Month

by Arnaud and Naja Girard…… This must be an all time record for how fast a small City like Key West can vet, vote, and authorize payment on a 12.5 million dollar deal. In just 2 weeks time the City dispatched 12.5 million dollars to a private company that will provide affordable housing [for up to $2709/month] for rent-burdened Key West workers. The last leg of this race to closing played out this week: the County’s Land Authority pledged the entire City reserve plus $300,000 [continue reading…]

May 132016
 
Medical Examiner Buys Himself Video Games, Gun Supplies and a Truck With County Money

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. It all started with a dead body being hauled down US 1 on the back of an open-bed pickup truck. That was the unceremonious business practice of the new Monroe County Medical Examiner, Dr. Thomas Beaver. Families complained. Then employees at the Medical Examiner’s office began leaving. The first one to leave, Ryan Moe, claimed he was subjected to abusive treatment. He told the Keynoter last May that Beaver would leave him alone to conduct critical autopsy procedures, “He’d have [continue reading…]

May 132016
 
County Mayor Heather Carruthers: On Single Member Districts

The Mayor’s Letter to the Editor: There’s some talk right now about changing to single-member district (SMD) voting for Monroe County Commission seats. From my perspective, SMD elections would diminish voter representation and lead to legislative gridlock. With SMD elections, you vote for one Commissioner every four years. In our current at-large elections, you get to vote for all five Commissioners every four years, and for at least 40% of the Commission every two years. Suppose your SMD-elected Commissioner disagrees with you on a particular [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
 
Peary Court: Plan B

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. After 58% of voters rejected the purchase of Peary Court six weeks ago, some City Commissioners have a new plan: give the City’s affordable housing funds to a private company that wants to buy the entire former Navy housing complex on White Street for 60 million dollars. The City would pay the buyer 12.5 million. In exchange, the buyer would deed restrict the 157 existing units and any other units constructed on the 24 plus acre property for use as [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 292016
 
“The Voice From the Other Side of the Band Room Controversy”   

Dear Editor: On January 20, 2016, the six (6) members of the City Commissioners voted to approve funding for the “White Boxing” of the Douglass School Band Room & Shop Building and held their vote on whether the building should house the Roosevelt Sands Health Clinic.  The members of the Frederick Douglass School Black Educators Memorial Project (FDSBEMP) had asked for consideration to be given to the fact that Commissioner Clayton Lopez had met with and promised their group over a 5 year period that [continue reading…]

Apr 222016
 
Peary Court Sunshine Law Violations?

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Taking a look behind the scenes at the ill-fated 55 million dollar Peary Court purchase proposal has opened a door into the shadowy marshland of Key West politics. An investigation by The Blue Paper reveals possible Sunshine Law violations, officials concealing information from the public, and a blurry line between public office and the interests of private organizations.

 April 22, 2016  Posted by at 1:23 am * Featured Story *, Issue #163 11 Responses »
Apr 222016
 
Guest Editorial: The Don Quixote of Mosquito Control

  by Ralph De Palma……. During 2009-2010 mosquito seasons over 100 cases of Dengue Fever were confirmed in mostly Old Town Key West, more cases probably went unconfirmed. The previous Florida Keys Mosquito Control (FKMCD) director Ed Fussell had managed mosquito control for the US Navy for decades. He later managed mosquito control for the entire State of Florida before coming to FKMCD. He has been the past President of the Florida Mosquito Control Association as well as the nationwide American Mosquito Control Association. He reviewed [continue reading…]

 April 22, 2016  Posted by at 1:22 am * Featured Story *, Editorial, Island Voices, Issue #163, News 1 Response »