Feb 052016
 

bag of money

by Naja and Arnaud Girard…….

Donald Roberts lives in Peary Court with his mom Ruby.   They rent one of the 48 deed restricted “affordable” units. Their situation is puzzling. With a combined annual income of under $55,850, they qualify for “low-income affordable workforce housing.” Their rent should be $1,571/month, yet they pay around $2,400/month. At that price, their 2-bedroom deed restricted affordable unit at Peary Court is pretty much market rate.

So what happened to the hard fought victory that nearly four years ago “saved” 30% of Peary Court units for affordable workforce housing? Continue reading »

Jan 292016
 
The Bookie, The School District, and The Green Parrot

Commentary by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. The School Board is still scrambling to unravel the mystery of $20,000 in day-care funds that went missing over a year ago. Let’s put this amount into perspective. The annual 2015/2016 budget for the Monroe County School District is $163.7 Million.   This amount includes 95.1 Million for operations and […]

Jan 222016
 
Guest Column: The $9.5 Million Toppino Contracts FKAA Lied About

by Margaret Blank*……. Getting information from the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) is like pulling teeth sometimes. Good thing I don’t mind pulling teeth. A while back, I asked the FKAA to provide a list of subcontractors on all it’s current projects. It is standard practice to require a contractor to provide a list of subcontractors. […]

 January 22, 2016  Posted by at 1:08 am * Featured Story *, Editorial, Issue #150 15 Responses »
Jan 222016
 
Let’s Write a Play:  Scripting the Economics, Science, and Politics of Death: “Fifteen Shameful Lethal Acts”

by Martha K. Huggins, Ph.D…….. In 1940, my father-in-law, George Findlay Willison, created and edited, Let’s Write a Play (Harper), a compendium of plays written by children attending the Hessian Hills School that he Co-Directed (1929-1935). A private progressive school located in New York State’s Croton-on-Hudson, designed in the spirit of John Dewey and other […]

Jan 152016
 
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Commentary by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Key West’s City Commissioners are considering the purchase of the old Navy housing at Peary Court. According to Commissioner Weekley, the real estate deal will relieve some of the effects of the dire housing crisis that bleeds the island of its workforce. Yet The Blue Paper discovered this week, […]

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 082016
 
PEARY COURT / What to do?

City Manager Weighing Options on Building Inspections 2013 Inspection Report Made Available by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Some recent independent home inspection testing at Peary Court has brought a worrisome result. “My mold assessment led me to advise the tenants to vacate the apartment,” says Hugh Johnson. Johnson is the owner of “Inspect Key West.” He’s […]

Jan 082016
 
Let’s Write a Mystery Novel: “The Turkey Hawk Brief—A Key West Mystery”

by Martha K Huggins, Ph.D……. The Pitch: Everyone’s Good Ole Boy meets a softball champ at work. When the “Softball Queen” gets buried in debt from wagering in Good Ole Boy’s personally lucrative sports betting operation, she turns to pilfering money from her employer, just a little at a time over four years. Fortunately her […]

 January 8, 2016  Posted by at 1:18 am * Featured Story *, Issue #148, Martha Huggins 7 Responses »
Jan 032016
 
Peary Court Deal Already Raising Eyebrows...

  Commentary by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. **UPDATE Jan 5, 2015 6:15 pm**  City Manager pulled the item from the agenda… ~~~~~~~ Surveyors hired by the City want $29,116 for travel, meals, and hotel expenses to inspect the housing units at Peary Court.  The survey is part of the due diligence process associated with the […]

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 […]

Dec 112015
 
Guest Column: Richard Toppino for FKAA Board, "An Interesting Choice"

by Margaret Blank*……. Richard Toppino of Charley Toppino & Sons has recently been appointed to the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) board. He will replace Melva Wagner who resigned in September after it became publicly known that she no longer lived in the Keys and was attending meetings by phone. Mr. Toppino was chosen from among […]

 December 11, 2015  Posted by at 1:16 am * Featured Story *, Island Voices, Issue #144 11 Responses »
Dec 112015
 
Starving Dog Eats Dead Owner

Medical Examiner: Human Tissue Found in Dog Feces by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. It was 6 months ago.   A local liveaboard boater had made an emergency call to the U.S. Coast Guard in Key West, reporting the gruesome discovery of a man dead inside his sailboat. The scene was not for the faint of heart. The […]

Dec 112015
 
Immigrants, Crime, Terrorists, and Humpty-Dumpty

  by Martha K. Huggins, Ph.D……. I’m still stunned by a letter to the Key West Citizen’s editor last April (4/22/15), stating that, “Black people are born three times more likely to commit crime than white people.”   Cringing at this historically racist and supremely incendiary statement, I was reminded of criminology’s long history of explaining […]

 December 11, 2015  Posted by at 1:08 am * Featured Story *, Martha Huggins 5 Responses »
Dec 042015
 
Housing Hocus-Pocus? Is the City Losing the Workforce Housing Battle One House at a Time?

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. It was not the Sistine Chapel, but the ceilings were painted with beautiful scenes of Florida Keys’ waters, with schooners and fishermen. The artists had been Cuban refugees who long ago paid for their stay at “The Kerr House” by redecorating the inside of the old conch house. When we […]

Dec 042015
 
Eimers Death In Custody. Could It Happen Again?

Commentary by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Two years ago, on Thanksgiving morning, paramedics were called to assist an old man on South Beach. KWPD officers on scene told them that the man had been running away from police on the beach and had suddenly collapsed in the sand and when they got to him he […]

Nov 302015
 
Superintendent Releases Finance Department's Review of Missing $20,000 in HOB Daycare Program Funds

Commentary by Dr. Larry Murray……. I have read what is purportedly the Finance Department’s review of the HOB Daycare Program. I say “purportedly” because the document is untitled, undated and incomplete. As best I can tell, the document was drafted sometime after February 25, 2015, although the date August, 2015 does appear in the document. […]

Nov 272015
 
Superintendent Porter Explains His Handling of Unaccounted for $20,000 in HOB Daycare Program Funds

Mark Porter’s Public Statement, in full: November 27, 2015 “Recently there have been several news stories regarding the HOB daycare program that was initiated in 2014-2015. I would like to offer the following points of factual clarification and personal responsibility for this unfortunate situation. This is intended as a public communication and can/should be used […]

 November 27, 2015  Posted by at 5:02 pm * Featured Story * 9 Responses »
Nov 272015
 
An Eclectic Potpourri of History at the Little Library on Fleming Street

  by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Back in another life, one of the things I did to make a couple of bucks was to write history books for companies and organizations. All that was required was that they actually had histories (usually a couple of file drawers of old photos and documents)– and money to pay […]

 November 27, 2015  Posted by at 12:48 am * Featured Story *, Issue #142 No Responses »
Nov 272015
 
How Influential Was the City Attorney in Canvassing Board's Bob Dean Decision?

HERE’S WHAT THE BLUE PAPER ASKED THE CITY ATTORNEY ABOUT THE CANVASSING BOARD’S DECISION SHAWN: I am drafting a potential opinion piece concerning the concept that the City Attorney is the most powerful person in city government. Before you read the rest of this email, know that I consider you one of the best city attorneys […]

 November 27, 2015  Posted by at 12:46 am * Featured Story *, Issue #142 14 Responses »
Nov 202015
 
State:  What the Hell is Going on in the Keys? Must be "Other Forces at Work"

  by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. The State’s Variance Review Committee blasted the local Health Department, questioning officals’ apathy in letting the Boondocks Grill, Draft House and Miniature Golf on Ramrod Key expand and operate, for years, without requiring a proper sewage disposal system. The landmark restaurant had a septic tank/leach field system permitted for 65 […]

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 […]

Nov 132015
 
Stock Island Shootout Revisited:  A Closer Look at Felony Traffic Stops

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Following the shootout that nearly killed a Monroe County Sheriff’s deputy on Stock Island on October 24, 2015, Sheriff Rick Ramsey issued an order making it mandatory for all officers to wear their bullet proof vests when in the field.  [Deputy Josh Gordon who had been shot in the chest by a […]

Nov 132015
 
What You Don't Know About the Humble Beginnings of the Sunset Celebration in Key West

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Key West’s daily celebration of sunset is famous around the world. Today, “going to sunset” is a must-do for millions of tourists who visit the Southernmost City every year. Lots of locals, too. And it’s more than just the spectacle of the sun sinking into the Gulf of Mexico, it’s also […]

 November 13, 2015  Posted by at 12:52 am * Featured Story *, Island Voices, Issue #140 1 Response »
Nov 072015
 
SHOOTOUT VIDEO RELEASED: Heroic Deputy Shot in Chest / Suspect Shot First

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. The Monroe County Sheriff released video of a gun battle that took place weeks ago on Stock Island. [See video below] Dashcam from two deputies’ cruisers show the October 24th high speed chase of Timothy Thomas, who was wanted in connection with an armed robbery in Key West. In the […]

Nov 062015
 
Timothy Thomas Claims 'Deputies Shot First' [Police Shootout Rained Bullets on Stock Island Family]

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. [Note:  This article was written and published prior to the Sheriff’s release of the dashcam video.  You will find an update at the end of the article including both Deputy Gordon and Deputy Lariz’ dashcam video excerpts as posted by the MCSO on youtube this morning.] It was about 9:45 pm […]

Nov 062015
 
City Commissioner Sam Kaufman: Do Good - But Do It Within Budget

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. We here at The Blue Paper wanted to know what kind of city commissioner newly-elected Sam Kaufman is going to be. So, armed with questions ranging from affordable housing and homelessness to marijuana and the opening of Cuba, I made an appointment with Commissioner Kaufman and drove out to his law […]

 November 6, 2015  Posted by at 12:58 am * Featured Story *, Editorial, Issue #139 3 Responses »
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 232015
 
What You May Not Know About the Citizen Review Board

by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. The Citizen Review Board (CRB) is a big deal. Now 13 years old, the CRB is an independent city agency with the authority to investigate complaints involving Key West police officers. The reason this is a big deal is that, before 2002, there was no such agency here. Citizen complaints often […]

 October 23, 2015  Posted by at 12:36 am * Featured Story *, Issue #137 17 Responses »
Oct 162015
 
State Attorney Will Take No Further Action in the Bob Dean Case

STATE ATTORNEY SPOKESMAN: “WE STILL THINK IT’S OBVIOUS THAT ROBERT DEAN LIVES IN KEY HAVEN.” BUT, BY LAW, THAT OPINION IS TRUMPED BY THE CANVASSING BOARD. Commentary by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. A couple of weeks ago, Bob Dean– through his attorney, Michael Halpern– virtually slapped State Attorney Catherine Vogel right in the face. Following a […]

 October 16, 2015  Posted by at 12:52 am * Featured Story *, Issue #136 23 Responses »
Oct 162015
 
1980: Refugee Crisis in Key West

History by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. The refugee crisis in Europe has been much in the national news in recent months. An estimated half million refugees from the Middle East– especially from war-torn Syria– have flooded into Europe and governments there are struggling to cope. If you were living in Key West in 1980, you will […]

 October 16, 2015  Posted by at 12:50 am * Featured Story *, Issue #136 2 Responses »
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
 
FKAA Chairman Dean Plays Cat and Mouse

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. The documents often begin with: “I, J. Robert Dean do solemnly swear” and thereafter the facts seem to change and contradict each other depending on what Dean needs to do to stay in power. On Wednesday Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority [FKAA] Board Chairman Bob Dean provided Supervisor of Elections, Joyce […]

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 […]

Sep 252015
 
Tour Companies and City Spar Over Sightseeing Franchise Agreements

Naja and Arnaud Girard……. As the “Conch Train” slows down at the corner of Eaton and Elizabeth, the conductor blows the whistle. The train’s blaring PA system floods the street: “That’s right folks, you just made it to the top. Key West’s highest point, Solaris Hill! 18 Feet above sea level! That’s where you would […]

Sep 182015
 
State Attorney Challenges FKAA Chairman's Right To Vote In Key West Elections

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Is the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority taking on water? Two weeks ago an FKAA board member, Melva Wagner, was forced to resign. She had continued receiving benefits and payments as a board member even though she had moved away from her district almost a year ago. This week it’s FKAA’s […]

 September 18, 2015  Posted by at 12:54 am * Featured Story *, Naja and Arnaud Girard 26 Responses »
Sep 182015
 
The Best Paid Teachers in the State

  by Dr. Larry Murray……. There has been a lot of interest lately in government and quasi-government entities and the number of employees paid six figure salaries. FKAA has aroused particular attention for the number of employees paid over $100,000. Amidst all of this, no one has mentioned the School District. I suspect that MCSD […]

 September 18, 2015  Posted by at 12:52 am * Featured Story *, Dr. Larry Murray 3 Responses »
Sep 112015
 
FKAA Board Chairman Under Criminal Investigation

by Naja and Arnaud Girard**……. UPDATE:  9/18/2015 Click here for updated article: State Attorney Challenges FKAA Chairman’s Right To Vote In Key West Elections As of Thursday afternoon, the office of the Monroe County State Attorney has begun investigating the Chairman of the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority [FKAA] Board of Directors. J Robert Dean (aka Bob Dean), […]

Aug 282015
 
FDLE AGENT KATHY SMITH GETS AWAY WITH IT!

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. FDLE reprimanded Special Agent Kathy Smith with a 5-day suspension. Agent Smith was accused of having intentionally signed a false affidavit in order to secure a $461,000 bank loan. Agent Smith became engulfed in controversy in 2014 while leading the investigation of the in-custody-death of 61-year old tourist, Charles Eimers. […]

Aug 282015
 
Mystery Writers, Street Crime, and Mosquitos: Framing Crime--A Three-Part Series

by Martha K. Huggins, Ph.D. ……. Some Mysteries of Murder Mysteries Now that Key West’s “Mystery Writers Fest” has ended I want to talk about mystery novels, “street” crime, and its oft-ignored cousin, ‘white-collar’ corporate and government crime. As a mystery novel junkie, I was shaped in my teens by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s, Sherlock […]

 August 28, 2015  Posted by at 2:00 am * Featured Story *, Issue #129, Martha Huggins 20 Responses »
Aug 212015
 
Ex-FBI Agent Says: Audit FKAA Billing Practices

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. The Blue Paper received a report, claiming “manipulation and interference with data” at FKAA, that raises legitimate questions about millions of dollars worth of water bills sent to FKAA customers throughout the Keys. Jon Lipsky wrote: “Because the database is used to generate bills for consumers and because the Aqueduct Authority is […]

Aug 142015
 
Key West Homes: "Caucasian Only"

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. For years they’ve lived with this embarrassing secret, which they feel has tainted their home from the moment they moved in. Even today they wouldn’t give their names for this story. The secret, though, is out. “It floored me when I saw it,” said Commissioner Tony Yaniz this week to […]

 August 14, 2015  Posted by at 12:48 am * Featured Story * 12 Responses »
Aug 142015
 
DOH Orders Boondocks Restaurant to Reduce Seating by Two-Thirds Due to Environmental Violations

by Naja and Arnaud Girard….. “I am sitting under the huge tiki hut roof and all I can think of is: Am I going to do it or not?” All around him people, hundreds of them, are having dinner, drinking, listening to the band of young local musicians, having a great time. Only the owners […]

Jul 312015
 
Water Quality Disaster: Whistleblower Accuses Department of Health

by Bud Meaker and Arnaud Girard……. A whistleblower claims the Department of Health (DOH) has turned a blind eye for years on thousands of gallons of sewage that has been seeping into Florida Keys waters. “It’s their duty, their legal obligation under Florida Statutes to monitor the performance of all on-site sewer systems in the Keys, […]

Jul 242015
 
103 Bins, Zero Flies

by Rick Boettger……. I really like Tony Yaniz. He was the lone Commissioner who fought to get two-way traffic back to North Roosevelt Boulevard, saving desperate local businesses. I know he is always on the job, and believe he always tries to do what is good for his district and the city. But on returning […]

 July 24, 2015  Posted by at 12:34 am * Featured Story *, Issue #124, Rick Boettger 6 Responses »
Jul 132015
 
KEY WEST JAILS UBER DRIVER...

From KWPD spokesperson, Alyson Crean: “Key West Police Detectives on Friday night made the first arrest of an Uber driver since city officials warned the illegal drivers about possible arrest. The City issued a final warning to all unlicensed passenger vehicle-for-hire drivers that, beginning July 1st, illegal drivers would risk arrest if they persisted in […]

 July 13, 2015  Posted by at 5:05 pm * Featured Story *, ** BREAKING NEWS ** 15 Responses »
Jul 102015
 
Goombay Controversy Exposes Key West's Racial Tensions

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Do you think White business owners should take over the management of a Black heritage festival? That’s the tricky question that City Commissioners were set to resolve last Tuesday when once again they were faced with having to choose between two groups that wished to run the coveted Goombay Festival. […]