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 / 92% of 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
 
“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 »
Apr 082016
 
Key West’s Black Community Fighting for Survival

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Even though the debate at City Hall this week was not officially about race, it shed an unflattering light on Key West’s cultural divide in ways that no journalist could express better than the passionate speakers did on Tuesday night. You’re just going to have to listen for yourself and be amazed. But before you click on the video, we need to make you privy to a few basic facts and to the one little secret that no one “in the know” that night had [continue reading…]

Apr 082016
 
BLOOD ON DUVAL: Update on Duval Street Shooting

On Wednesday Judge Wayne Miller opted to allow alleged Duval Street shooter, Derek Michael David, 34, to return to freedom back in his home state of Louisiana. Miller did however increase his bail by $100,000 to $582,500 and set specific conditions on David’s right to remain free pending trial. The shooting happened on March 21st at about 1:25 a.m. in the area of Rick’s Bar.  Surveillance video from the bar [see below] shows David dragging his visibly intoxicated wife, Jodie Marie David, down Charles Street and apparently knocking her to the ground. [continue reading…]

 April 8, 2016  Posted by at 8:22 am * Featured Story *, News 2 Responses »
Apr 082016
 
Affordable Rental Nightmare

by Cindy Cody……. I have just realized that I never need to go to Disneyland ever again. If you want the wildest ride in your life do what I just did. I listed a nice clean 2-bedroom mobile home with a big yard cheap on Craig’s List. That’s when it started. I am looking for a long-term renter that takes care of the yard and let’s me know if something needs fixing. It’s 24 hours later and I am tearing out my hair on the [continue reading…]

Apr 012016
 
Bernstein Loses Wisteria Island on a Technicality

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. This week FEB Corporation and Roger Bernstein, the wannabe owners/developers of Wisteria Island, have lost their case before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. When most local politicians seemed all too ready to allow real estate moguls to build their posh hotel resort, who would have thought that an old Navy letter penned almost a century ago was going to place the federal government in front of the bulldozer and save the last desert island in Key West harbor? The [continue reading…]

Apr 012016
 
BLOOD ON DUVAL: Update on Duval Street Shooting

New charges have been filed in the Duval Street shooting case and prosecutors want to put him back behind bars now — this time without bail. Derek Michael David, 34, was released on bail following a March 21st shooting that wounded three people. The shooting happened at about 1:25 a.m. in the area of Rick’s Bar.  Surveillance video from the bar reportedly shows David at one point dragging a woman [his wife] down Charles Street and knocking her to the ground. Two men are seen running over [continue reading…]

 April 1, 2016  Posted by at 12:49 am * Featured Story *, Issue #160, News 2 Responses »
Mar 252016
 
Key West's Historic Seaport Welcomes "El Galeon" and "Hōkūle'a"

El Galeon will be at the Historic Seaport through Sunday March 27, tours are from noon to 8:00 pm, tickets: $15.00 Hōkūle’a will be here through noon Friday March 25 [or longer depending on weather] For more information about the El Galeon and the Hōkūle’a visit their websites linked below: Website for El Galeon:  http://www.elgaleon.org/ Website for Hōkūle’a:  http://www.hokulea.com/ DID YOU LIKE THIS STORY?  SUPPORT THE BLUE PAPER Help us continue to bring you local investigative journalism…  Click on the image to make a donation [NOT tax deductible].

Mar 252016
 
TWO FULL SURVEILLANCE VIDEOS, 911 Calls: Gunfire on Duval Street, Three Bystanders Injured

A Sugarloaf Key man, Derek Michael David, 34, is in custody following a shooting that wounded three people early Monday on Duval Street in Key West. The shooting happened at about 1:25 a.m. in the area of Rick’s Bar.  Surveillance video from the bar reportedly shows David at one point dragging the woman down Charles Street and knocking her to the ground. Two men are seen running over to help before the suspect fires into the air and then reportedly opens fire on the men who were trying to [continue reading…]

 March 25, 2016  Posted by at 1:12 am * Featured Story *, News 9 Responses »
Mar 252016
 
Harry Bethel's Open Letter to Governor Scott

Editor’s Note:  After receiving former City Commissioner Harry Bethel’s open letter to Governor Scott [below] we reached out to the Lower Keys Medical Center for comment.  The following is the statement we subsequently received from LKMC spokesperson Randy Detrick: “Lower Keys Medical Center is committed to providing our patients with the medical services and care they need. We encourage any patient who has concerns to contact us directly so that we can investigate and take action as needed for resolution. Any identified issues in Mr. [continue reading…]

 March 25, 2016  Posted by at 1:04 am * Featured Story *, Issue #159, Letter to the Editor 1 Response »
Mar 182016
 
ONE MILLION DOLLAR Settlement in Matthew Murphy Police Tasing Case

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Two years ago when we asked where Matthew Shaun Murphy was we were given records showing that Murphy was a criminal at large; his name on the FDLE “Wanted” list. When we asked to see FDLE’s investigative report we were told there wasn’t one. But after spending a month verifying rumors of Murphy’s death at the hands of a KWPD officer, we found him… in Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital. He had been there for over 3 years, left in a [continue reading…]

Mar 182016
 
PEARY COURT REFERENDUM: Why Did it Fail?

Commentary by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Over 56% of voters said “No” to the purchase of Peary Court in spite of the housing crisis. The $55 Million project to save 157 units rented at $2400/month appeared an uphill battle from the start. “Jimmy [Commissioner Weekley] is saying he prays that Peary Court tenants will not be evicted by the next owner,” says citizen advocate Christine Russel, “I think Jimmy and others who pushed this should pray the mysterious next owner pays at least $55 Million [continue reading…]

Mar 182016
 
Dummies Guide to Vacation Rentals – by ‘B. Vigilant’

‘How to convert a marina into a vacation rental resort in 7 easy steps’ Step 1 – Find a full service marina that for over three decades has provided local fisherman and visitors with services such as: A tackle shop with tackle and fishing gear, bait, food and drinks, A docking station with diesel, and non-ethanol fuel, A boat launching ramp and storage area for vehicles and trailers, Forklift services and dry rack storage for boats (optional), Inboard diesel and outboard engine mechanic shops on [continue reading…]

 March 18, 2016  Posted by at 12:44 am * Featured Story *, Island Voices, Issue #158 3 Responses »
Mar 182016
 
Harry Bethel Puts Local Hospital on the Hot Seat...

An Open Letter to the Lower Keys Hospital District Board and To all Elected State, County, City and Public Agency Officials. Dear Mr. Levin and District Board Members, I am a Conch and a resident of Key West. I have served on the boards of many Keys Institutions and have served as a Key West City Commissioner. There are 4 generations of Bethels living in Key West as I write this letter. By virtue of my standing in the community I come into contact with [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…]

Mar 042016
 
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Charles Eimers Death-in-Custody

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. The image of the gray PT Cruiser parked sideways on South Beach with the huddle of Key West police officers who’d just realized the man they’d piled on top of had stopped breathing is probably going to remain in the memories of Key Westers for a long time. What went wrong on that Thanksgiving morning in 2013 has been the center of considerable controversy. “My dad always had this dream of spending a winter in Key West,” Treavor Eimers, Charles [continue reading…]

Feb 262016
 
HOB DAYCARE SCANDAL: The Making of a Thief?

by Naja and Arnaud Girard…….. The investigators of the disappearance of over $21,000 from the HOB daycare program seem to have found a convenient “bad apple.” Thirty-two year old Tina Godfrey was in charge of collecting the money. She didn’t file the proper paperwork, money is missing, and unbelievably enough, it seems “she has done it before.” In some sort of bizarre Japanese ritual at last Tuesday’s School Board meeting Superintendent Porter stoically reprimanded himself. He gave himself a 5-day suspension for not catching the thief [continue reading…]

 February 26, 2016  Posted by at 1:02 am * Featured Story *, Issue #155 7 Responses »
Feb 202016
 
Florida Keys Mourn a True Community Advocate

Kay Thacker:   “The Blond Bombshell” – An Inspiration To Us All by Christine Russell……. I will never forget the day I met Kay Thacker. As a Key West activist, many years ago I felt the need to pay more attention to county politics when the “Gang of Three” (long ago former county Commissioners) were at the helm and Tom Willi was County Administrator. I knew only what I read in the papers about how the county was running amuck, spending wildly and foolishly (remember [continue reading…]

 February 20, 2016  Posted by at 2:40 pm * Featured Story *, Island Voices 5 Responses »
Feb 192016
 
PEARY COURT: VOTING IN THE DARK...

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Buying the old Navy housing project at Peary Court might be the City’s last opportunity to preserve some semblance of a working class community. However, most residents interviewed appear unable to move past a sense of indignation over the proposed sale price for Peary Court (which has nearly doubled in just two years) or their suspicion that officials did not fight hard enough to get a better deal, if they fought at all. Background:  On August 30, 2013 Peary Court was sold to White Street [continue reading…]

Feb 122016
 
Monroe County: "Affordable" Housing for the Rich

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. A one-room efficiency for $1,836/month, a one-bedroom for $2,097, a two-bedroom for $2,358. Those are the “affordable” rates that will prevail for the rental of 70% of the 213 affordable residential units the County Commission has approved for a Big Coppitt Key waterfront development project. Those rents are defined in the code as “moderate-income affordable.”