Dec 082017
 
Sheriff’s Office Warned: "Stop Illegally Jailing Immigrants"

Compliance with detainers issued solely to investigate immigration status violates Fourth Amendment, groups say The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office must stop its unconstitutional practice of detaining immigrants so that federal authorities can investigate them for possible deportation, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU-FL) and LatinoJustice said in a letter this week.

 December 8, 2017  Posted by at 12:40 am * Featured Story *, issue #246, News 9 Responses »
Dec 012017
 
The Cause of Sylvia Murphy's Ethics Violations: “An Expensive Weirdness” [and George Neugent Steps in It Again]   

by Rick Boettger……. Commissioner Sylvia Murphy was Least Worst in Show among the four county commissioners hit with $20,000 in fines by the Florida Commission on Ethics this year. She was only off a total of $1,109,000 on her financial reporting, with merely ten additional errors of form. If she had been in this alone, I’m sure she’d have been fined only the $350 or $500 per year as is common for this level of Form 6 misadventure.  [Using the “total assessed value” instead of [continue reading…]

Nov 242017
 
ETHICS VIOLATIONS / “It's all Danny's fault if we lose.”

They lost. And he was off by over $2 million plus 333 other errors. by Rick Boettger……. Commissioner Danny Kolhage’s share of the $15+ million in reporting errors made by the most recently cited four county commissioners rung up with $20,000 in fines by the Florida Commission on Ethics was “only” $2,254,648, putting him a distant third to Heather Carruthers’ $7.4 million and David Rice’s $4.5 million.  But Kolhage was easily in 1st Place in errors of form, omitting 24 addresses and 309 entries on [continue reading…]

Nov 172017
 
BOCC Persuades Me to Run for Neugent's Seat / My Platform: “Ethical Expertise”

  by Rick Boettger……. We are taking a break from detailing the individual Monroe County Commissioners’ Ethics violations to report on Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners’ meeting at the Harvey Government Center in Key West. It was a doozy. We will continue with Commissioners Kolhage (“It’s All Danny’s Fault if We Lose”) and Murphy (“His Weirdness”) in the next two weeks. For Tuesday’s meeting, I wanted to follow up on Commissioner Heather Carruthers’ assertion about it being common for the BOCC to squander hundreds of thousands of our tax [continue reading…]

 November 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am * Featured Story *, ~ Column ~, Issue #243, Rick Boettger 21 Responses »
Nov 102017
 
ETHICS VIOLATIONS / Commissioner Carruthers: "Flabbergasted!"

“….a hundred thousand dollars does sound like a lot of money to a lot of people . . .” by Rick Boettger……. County Commissioner Heather Carruthers had the grossest amount of financial misreporting, at $7,427,421, and an additional 138 errors of form between 2012—2015. But before we get into the continuing grim recitation of the details of our county commissioners’ 700+ form errors plus over $15 million dollars in misreported financials, something was brought to my attention that offers a rare splash of humor.

Nov 032017
 
ETHICS VIOLATIONS: A Closer Look at Commissioner David Rice's Financial Reporting...

by Rick Boettger……. The big picture last week was that, of the four Monroe County Commissioners who got $20,000 in fines for 16 ethics charges, David Rice made $4,561,558 in self-admitted financial errors, and by my count 228 errors of form on his four Form 6’s from 2012–2015.  The biggest chunk of that was under-reporting the value of his real estate and his brokerage accounts by around $850k each, and his car and boat to the tune of over $400k (around $100k each year for [continue reading…]

Oct 272017
 
County Commissioners' Ethical Problems Get Worse

Taxpayers to Pay Up to $50k to Help Them Fill Out Simple Form by Rick Boettger……. News break—I just received a copy of Mark Herron’s contract from an attorney in County Attorney Bob Schillinger’s office.  Herron will get $300/hour plus expenses to vet not only the Commissioners’ but their “employees,” whoever that includes, but “. . .do not exceed $49,999.99.”  They say this is authorized by Section 2-58(b)(3) of the county code.  I, and if necessary my Harvard lawyer, will take a close look at [continue reading…]

Oct 202017
 
COMMISSIONERS' ETHICS VIOLATIONS: Misreporting Totaled $15.36 Million

by Rick Boettger……. It’s official: the Florida Commission on Ethics affirmed the 16 ethics violations committed by Commissioners Sylvia Murphy, Danny Kolhage, David Rice, and Heather Carruthers at their meeting in Tallahassee today [Friday morning, Oct. 20]. The total fines were even higher than I reported last week, because they imposed a violation for a year for which I did not even file a complaint—in all, it came to $20,000 for the four. The amount of their errors was astounding, far more than I estimated [continue reading…]

Oct 132017
 
Four County Commissioners Fined for Sixteen Ethics Violations

by Rick Boettger……. All four admitted violating their sworn financial reporting requirements for the years 2012-2015. David Rice was fined $1,500 for each year; Heather Carruthers and Danny Kolhage, $1,250; and Sylvia Murphy, $1,000 for a total of $19,000 in fines, levied by the Florida Commission on Ethics. In addition, all hired lawyers to meet with the Commission’s investigator and, as I will discuss next week, help them prepare their amended Form 6X’s for all four years, 2012—2015. That was likely more expensive than the [continue reading…]

Sep 012017
 
Survey: Military Families Report Alarming Health Issues in "Sick Houses" on Sigsbee Island

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Constant allergies requiring weekly injections, repeated pneumonia, bloody noses, frequent severe headaches, skin rashes, swollen eyes and breathing issues are a few of the symptoms described by Sigsbee residents who responded to a survey conducted by The Blue Paper. Following reports of “sick house” symptoms on Sigsbee island, we asked military families to describe any health-related issues they’ve experienced while living on the island. Over 66% of those who responded reported having developed some form of allergy. Almost all say [continue reading…]

Sep 012017
 
Small Dog Park at Higgs Beach to Be Moved Outside the Area of Nationally Recognized Historic African Cemetery

by Naja Girard……. The “small dog park” at Monroe County’s Higgs Beach is being relocated into a fenced-off section of the “big dog” park after The Blue Paper published a documentary last Friday entitled, “Do All Graves Matter?“ In 2010, during the master planning process to redevelop Higgs Beach, the County had ground-penetrating radar mapping conducted to search for the graves of Cuba-bound African captives that had been rescued from three slave ships by the US Navy. Records show that in 1860, 1432 African refugees [continue reading…]

 September 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:42 am * Featured Story *, News 6 Responses »
Aug 252017
 
DO ALL GRAVES MATTER?

See comments from Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers about the issues brought up in this documentary by clicking here. [Commissioner Carruthers was traveling and unable to participate in a video interview.] See the acceptance letter and application for the inclusion of the African Cemetery at Higgs Beach [including the area of the Little Dog Park] in the National Register of Historic Places by clicking here. See the Higgs Beach Park Master Redevelopment Plan by clicking here.     Below is a follow-up comment from Corey [continue reading…]

Jul 282017
 
Pritam Singh's 175-Room "Ocean's Edge Hotel" Sells For $175 Million

by Naja Girard……. Sunstone Hotel Investors, Inc. announced this Wednesday that it has purchased “the 175-room Oceans Edge Hotel & Marina on Stock Island for $175 million.” Ocean’s Edge Hotel has been an object of controversy in the Keys from the onset. It was pushed through as an upscale community consisting of “79 single family homes” and a small 17 room hotel. “It’s what we all want,” said developer Pritam Singh to the County’s Planning Commission, “to put our house by the water.” Each homeowner [continue reading…]

 July 28, 2017  Posted by at 12:56 am * Featured Story *, News 9 Responses »
Jul 282017
 
Immigrant's Unlawful Detention: Who's at Fault?

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. What everyone knew was that Osman Torres Huete was going to be deported. His family had posted the $1000 cash bail for his release, but at any time during the next two days Border Patrol was going to pluck Osman out of the county jail on Stock Island and send him back to Honduras. However, when, against all odds, Mr. Torres Huete’s immigration lawyer, Reggie Smith, arrived at the jail on July 8th to challenge her client’s “unlawful detention” an embarrassing situation [continue reading…]

Jul 212017
 
The Wedding Boom: County Sees No Evil

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. She’s an amazing photographer: photos of endangered birds standing on the flats, manatees drifting over the seagrass beds. I point to an extraordinary shot of the sunset. “Well, the place is called Sunset Cove,” observes Louise with a smile. Along with her husband, Louise Lindsay has lived within that secret corner of Key Largo for the past 30 years. But like many others in the Keys, she now fears that the quiet peaceful days are over. Business, you see, has discovered their [continue reading…]

Jul 072017
 
Key West Neighborhood Boy Makes Good -- Real Good!

by Arida Wright……. The intro on Corneil McIntosh’s Facebook page reads: “creator.innovator.believer.” His Facebook followers total 2,758. He has 12.1k followers on his personal Instagram page. An article written by “Bruce A.” of richcelebs.com describes him as, “an American entrepreneur, actor, director, producer, film maker and the founder of one of the most popular urban musical companies in the world.”

Jul 032017
 
KEY DEER RESCUE: 3 Key Deer Found Hog Tied/Bleeding During Traffic Stop

A routine traffic stop for a broken tail light turned into an unusual Key Deer rescue operation early Sunday morning. The stop occurred in the southbound lane on US 1 and Barry Ave on Little Torch Key. When Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Austin Hopp approached the Black Hyundai Sonata at about 1:20 a.m. he noticed two Key Deer bound in the back seat.  The two deer were reportedly “hog tied” with twine. Each had wounds all over its body and head and was struggling to [continue reading…]

 July 3, 2017  Posted by at 2:34 pm * Featured Story *, crime, News 1 Response »
Jun 302017
 
Key West Africana Festival: Inspiring

by Arida Wright……. Celebrity in Town Actor Malik Yoba served as the 2017 Keynote Speaker and Ambassador for the 3rd Biennial Key West Africana Festival (KWAF) held June 22 – 25, 2017. He is known for his starring role as NYPD Detective J.C. Williams on the Fox police drama NY Undercover and the cultural classic movie, Cool Runnings. Malik Yoba has a long list of theatre, tv and film credits but what I didn’t know is that he is also a singer and a passionate [continue reading…]

Jun 022017
 
"ARE YOU ILLEGAL?" SHERIFF'S DEPUTY STRIKES AGAIN: TURNS LONGTIME CHEF OF EL SIBONEY OVER TO BORDER PATROL

Of interest from other sources: Below are some FAQ’s from the Immigration Resource Center on the legality of local law enforcement involvement in enforcement of immigration laws. [Slightly outdated in terms of the detainer holds – guidance and form was recently updated – however, there is no substantial material change to the analysis as a result of the new detainer hold policy guidelines.

May 192017
 
'ARE YOU ILLEGAL?" Immigrant Bicyclist HIT BY CAR and Handed Over to Border Patrol on the Spot

First published on May 19, 2017 CORRECTION: The original headline for this article stated, “Immigrant Bicyclist Hit by Car and Handed Over to ICE on the Spot”. That was incorrect. The immigrant was arrested by Border Patrol, a division of Customs and Border Protection. Of interest from other sources: Click here to see the incident report.

May 052017
 
Wisteria Island: Nature's Champions or Schemers?

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Get out of the tent! Joe Sanders had just woken up to deputies yelling orders. As he peers through the slit in his tent his eye suddenly focuses on the barrel of a deputy’s gun 6 inches away and pointed straight at him. Now, according to the federal government, Joe had pitched his tent on public land.

Apr 282017
 
Key West: PATIENT COMMITS SUICIDE ON CAMERA

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. By the time tragedy struck last year Depoo Hospital’s mental health staff had sent many distress signals. The Blue Paper has collected reports about staff being attacked by patients, disagreements with the police about carrying guns, understaffing, a security guard having a heart attack trying to protect staff. Finally, a patient committed suicide on camera. 

Apr 142017
 
Navy: Leases Require Balfour Beatty and Military Families to Work Together to Minimize Mold Growth in Sigsbee Housing

  Two weeks ago we featured a story, Is Key West Military Housing Making People Sick? [March 31, 2017] This week we share information provided by Trice Denny, Public Affairs Officer, Naval Air Station Key West, in response to our questions about whether Sigsbee housing is causing health issues for local military families.

Apr 072017
 
SUFA Aftermath Gets Even Worse

by Rick Boettger……. The County will vote April 12th to give the SPCA an extra $150,000 a year “effective immediately” to operate the Marathon animal shelter. This further compounds, until the end of time, the already-$1,000,000 taxpayer loss I have described previously due to the County’s illegal demolition of Stand Up For Animals (SUFA) in 2010 and its replacement by a group of Commissioner George Neugent’s friends, SHARK, who ran it into the ground. Shortly after the County extended SHARK’s’ contract for the Middle Keys shelter [continue reading…]

 April 7, 2017  Posted by at 12:56 am * Featured Story *, Issue #213, Rick Boettger 12 Responses »
Mar 312017
 
Is Key West Military Housing Making People Sick?

March 31, 2017 by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. [Story summary below, please see video above] For over a month we’ve been following the stories of military families who claim that living on base on Sigsbee Island is making them sick. They say something in those houses is causing an alarming number of health issues and their children are the main victims.

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.