TUNATOONS: ISLAND OF BONES – PART EIGHT: Bales and the Musician Go Fishin’

lawrence the lobster one

Back in 1521 , Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Island of Key West.  The island had been used as a communal graveyard by the Calusa Indians so he named the island Cayo Hueso (Island of Bones). Since that time this tiny island has produced so many interesting and crazy stories. This story is about Key West back in the 1970′s and 80′s, when smuggling was at it’s peak. The characters in (Island of Bones) are strictly fictional and do not represent any citizens of Key West !

                      Enjoy!   — Big Tuna

010-1

PART EIGHT of Island of Bones Series…  Continue reading

Questions About Recent Arrest of Florida Keys Children’s Shelter Employee

Dear Editor,

Why is it that the chief operating officer for  Florida Keys Children’s Shelter (FKCS) had to defer to their lawyer to answer important media questions regarding the recent story of one of their former employees arrested for “interference and custody” of two foster teens in protective shelter of FKCS, while he was employed with FKCS?  (“Report: Runaways used as prostitutes- Mentor at Florida Keys Children’s Shelter Arrest,” Sept. 11, 2014).

Couldn’t this attorney fee be used to sponsor back-to-school clothes, special event trips, and summer science camps?

Would Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay who serves on the FKCS Board of Directors as Vice-Chairman and Board Development Chair be in conflict with this investigation?

Mike Sawyer

(Substitute teacher for a metro-Denver turn-around school district with 13% Caucasians. Over 1k published newspaper letters promoting health and humanity. Most recently the New York Daily News “Counting Sheep,” http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/sept-7-pre-k-washington-football-team-fracking-article-1.1929802 )

Master of Divinity

B.S., Social Science

Denver, Colorado

TUNATOONS: ISLAND OF BONES – PART SEVEN: LAWRENCE THE LOBSTER

lawrence the lobster one

Back in 1521 , Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Island of Key West.  The island had been used as a communal graveyard by the Calusa Indians so he named the island Cayo Hueso (Island of Bones). Since that time this tiny island has produced so many interesting and crazy stories. This story is about Key West back in the 1970′s and 80′s, when smuggling was at it’s peak. The characters in (Island of Bones) are strictly fictional and do not represent any citizens of Key West !

                      Enjoy!   — Big Tuna

010-1

PART SEVEN of Island of Bones Series…  Lawrence The Lobster Continue reading

TUNATOONS: ISLAND OF BONES – PART SIX: The Musician and Judge Reef

lawrence the lobster 1

Back in 1521 , Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Island of Key West.  The island had been used as a communal graveyard by the Calusa Indians so he named the island Cayo Hueso (Island of Bones). Since that time this tiny island has produced so many interesting and crazy stories. This story is about Key West back in the 1970′s and 80′s, when smuggling was at it’s peak. The characters in (Island of Bones) are strictly fictional and do not represent any citizens of Key West !

                      Enjoy!   — Big Tuna

010-1

PART SIX of Island of Bones Series…  The Musician and Judge Reef Continue reading

TUNATOONS: ISLAND OF BONES – PART FIVE

lawrence the lobster 1

Back in 1521 , Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Island of Key West.  The island had been used as a communal graveyard by the Calusa Indians, so he named the island Cayo Hueso (Island of Bones). Since that time this tiny island has produced so many interesting and crazy stories. This story is about Key West back in the 1970′s and 80′s, when smuggling was at it’s peak. The characters in (Island of Bones) are strictly fictional and do not represent any citizens of Key West !

                      Enjoy!   — Big Tuna

010-1

PART FIVE of Island of Bones Series…  Lawrence the Lobster Continue reading

GUEST EDITORIAL: It May Be Time To Reform The Reformers

canstockphoto1638964

Education reform has become a very large industry for big business and political careers. Public education is an extremely complex field because of the many ways to measure and debate student success and remedy poor outcomes. And we have conflicting philosophies world wide about what is best for students. Do we just teach the basics and focus on reading, writing and computing at grade level or do we offer a rich curriculum ? We know that public education has been highly successful in the United States because of our country’s success. We have nearly cornered the world market on creativity and entrepreneurship. Nearly every ethnic group in the United States out-performs their peers in their native countries when measured by test results. And for the exceptions not all students in those countries are tested.

And yet since Ronald Reagan declared the USA as a nation at risk in 1983 education reform has taken hold and seeks to sacrifice everything successful about public education in pursuit of “reform”. Continue reading

GUEST EDITORIAL: Residents Should Be Told The Truth

canstockphoto19005546

When I first saw the acronym S.I.T. used for mosquito control I thought that had potential. Sterilizing males and females certainly works with cats and dogs although I must say the idea of having ‘spay day’ at mosquito control was hard to fathom.

Then I read that they haven’t yet figured out how to sterilize a mosquito by irradiation without killing it so they moved on to ‘messing with genetics.’

The purpose of sterilizing the Aedes aegypti mosquito is the prevention of Dengue, the mosquito driven virus that reared its ugly head after being absent in the Keys for 75 years. From 2009 to 2011 mosquito control went to war with the Aedes aegypti through door to door public outreach, increasing the number of inspectors and field employees, actively searching out breeding ground, using liquid larvicide to kill them before adulthood and educating the public about how not to breed mosquitos in their own back yard. Continue reading

TUNATOONS: ISLAND OF BONES – PART FOUR

005

Back in 1521 , Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Island of Key West.  The island had been used as a communal graveyard by the Calusa Indians. So he named the island, Cayo Hueso (Island of Bones). Since that time this tiny island has produced so many interesting and crazy stories. This story is about Key West back in the 1970′s and 80′s, when smuggling was at it’s peak. The characters in (Island of Bones) are strictly fictional and do not represent any citizens of Key West !

                      Enjoy!   — Big Tuna

010-1

PART FOUR of Island of Bones Series…  Miss Murray and The Bulldog Continue reading

GUEST EDITORIAL: A Recipe for Corruption

canstockphoto7543145

How do you create a delicious dish, served to special interests?   Start with a rich donor who approaches a county commissioner and asks for a contract.  Next, preheat the oven with a bogus audit of the current contractor.  Make sure their director or bookkeeper is never interviewed so as not to alter the taste.  Release the preliminary audit illegally so as to avoid overcooking.  Next, freeze the main ingredients, in this case, the funds of a private organization.  This is a bit tricky, and will require kneading a judge.  Work the dough up with plenty of mainstream media play and let it rise. Continue reading

Danny Coll: “There Really Is A Difference In Candidates for Monroe County Commission/District 2″

There really is a difference in the candidates for Monroe County Commission/District 2.
***I am the candidate who opposes extending for ten years the multimillion-dollar contract with Waste Management without first sending it out for competitive bidding.
***I am the candidate who opposes the purchase of a private multi-million dollar land deal, when it is was appraised for less.
***I am the candidate who opposes forcing many District 2 residents to use grinder pumps of questionable quality and economics. Other areas of the Keys are receiving a more reliable, less invasive and environmentally superior system.
***I am the candidate who will support term limits, and does not believe in career politicians. Continue reading

An Open Letter To Governor Scott:

The Honorable Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida

The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor Scott,
I am enclosing past correspondence to you, and a copy of my published May 22, 2014 letter “Unsafe conditions endanger children,”  in the Alligator newspaper reminding you of the risk that you have foster kids placed in Key West.

The inspiration for me to continue to seek your action to remove these sheltered Monroe County kids comes from Elmer Carroll that you executed last year for the 1990 rape and strangled murder of 10-year-old Christine McGowen whose family lived next to the northwest Orange County, halfway house that sheltered Carroll.

I continue to inform the media of these two high-risk DCF (Department of Children and Families) licensed 14-bed children shelters with the heartfelt hope to reveal to the public for radical reaction.

In the last few months, I shared that you have kids placed in between two shelters for homeless indigent mental adults and males transiting out of jail with two Denver social workers with doctorate degrees and both couldn’t believe you are compromising Florida’s most vulnerable kids to live there.

Let’s hope and pray that no crime like that of Elmer Carroll to a kid will happen there at these facilities with a canal and woods very close, but, if it did wouldn’t you be liable.

Your action is needed immediately to possibly prevent history from repeating.

Thank you,

Mike Sawyer
Master of Divinity
B.S., Social Science
Denver, Colorado

TUNATOONS: ISLAND OF BONES – PART THREE

011

Back in 1521 , Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Island of Key West.  The island had been used as a communal graveyard by the Calusa Indians. So he named the island, Cayo Hueso (Island of Bones). Since that time this tiny island has produced so many interesting and crazy stories. This story is about Key West back in the 1970′s and 80′s, when smuggling was at it’s peak. The characters in (Island of Bones) are strictly fictional and do not represent any citizens of Key West !

                      Enjoy!   — Big Tuna

010-1

PART THREE of Island of Bones Series…  Judge Reef’s Courtroom Continue reading

TUNATOONS: ISLAND OF BONES – PART TWO

Back in 1521 , Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Island of Key West.  The island had been used as a communal graveyard by the Calusa Indians. So he named the island, Cayo Hueso (Island of Bones). Since that time this tiny island has produced so many interesting and crazy stories. This story is about Key West back in the 1970′s and 80′s, when smuggling was at it’s peak. The characters in (Island of Bones) are strictly fictional and do not represent any citizens of Key West !

                      Enjoy!   — Big Tuna

010-1

PART TWO of Island of Bones Series… Continue reading

TUNATOONS: ISLAND OF BONES

Back in 1521 , Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Island of Key West.  The island had been used as a communal graveyard by the Calusa Indians. So he named the island, Cayo Hueso (Island of Bones). Since that time this tiny island has produced so many interesting and crazy stories. This story is about Key West back in the 1970′s and 80′s, when smuggling was at it’s peak. The characters in (Island of Bones) are strictly fictional and do not represent any citizens of Key West !

                      Enjoy!   — Big Tuna

010-1

PART ONE OF ISLAND OF BONES SERIES… Continue reading

Relocation Should Be a Part of DCF Reunification Plans For Struggling Families

Dear Editor,

The Key West Citizen newspaper front page headline on July 25, 2014, “Shelter No Longer A Crash Pad,” reported Randi Cohen Brown, executive director of the homeless nonprofit, stating, “This is Key West: Jobs are not plentiful. Housing is very expensive. This is not going to work for you.”

As house parents for the only children’s shelter and group home in Key West, Monroe County with a humble stipend like salary and subsidized living expenses from 2008-2013, my wife and I were constantly frustrated that child welfare was such a big business for the supporting non-profits family service agencies that they would never mix relocation with reunification.  All the case plans were about parent(s) having a job(s) and housing that would pass a required “home study.”  Homes and hope for these children and parents in the Department of Children and Families (DCF) were built in the beach sand.

Regretfully, the need for a “job” for many professional wraparounds will continue to anchor DCF kids and struggling parents in Monroe County enduring the “perfect storm” of failure.

For many “Another day in Paradise,” but for some it’s “Another day in Poverty.”

Mike Sawyer
Master of Divinity
B.S., Social Science
Denver, CO

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About Mike Sawyer:  summer camp leader for kids ages 6-11 with a Denver inner city non-profit, a substitute teacher, grades K-12, for a Metro-Denver turn-around school district with 13% Caucasians, over 1K published letters promoting health and humanity. Most recent — “Let Love Rule,” http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/july-10-teacher-tenure-hunting-horses-article-1.1860993 )

SUFA Vindication! The Community Should Applaud and The County Should Apologize

The community should applaud and Monroe County apologize to Dr. Linda Gottwald now that she has been vindicated from the inaccurate press coverage brought on by the politically driven vendetta against her. Why? Because Stand Up for Animals, Inc. [SUFA] was awarded the contract, which the Florida Keys SPCA [FKSPCA] controlled for many years, and the “Bubba System” [that had been in place taking most of Middle Keys quarter million dollar budget to the Key West shelter] then stopped.

Accurate History: SUFA is a 501c3 federally regulated non-profit organization. It has its own board of directors, including locals from Monroe County despite the claims of a certain County Commissioner. SUFA was contracted by the County to provide animal control services from Marathon through Big Pine ending at MM 17 (Gottwald re-opened Big Pine). Per contract, the County cut monthly checks to SUFA. Anyone with a business understanding knows that monthly bills vary [pet food bills, repairs to the dilapidated building, etc.] Gottwald would not only use all of the “County” check to pay these bills, but had to supplement the County check with donations and grants annually from her 501c3 and even loans from her personal bank account to cover payroll. SUFA maintained separate accounts. FKSPCA totally co-mingled its funds for years (County checks and 501c3 donations in one account) and yet the County did not say a word. [“Bubba System”]. Continue reading

Guest Column: Cudjoe Sewer System / What Is Everyone Complaining About and How Did We Get Here?

canstockphoto10414528

Why have so many groups been complaining about the Cudjoe sewer system? They insist they don’t want their concerns to slow down the project and they agree that a well designed sewer system will improve water quality in canals and near shore waters. It seems the “well designed” is what they question.  We will get to that but let’s take a moment to remember how we got here.

Back in 2008, the new county administrator looked at the county sewer fund that had been depleted by infrastructure projects like the Hickory House and the Vandenberg. He realized no state or federal funding was in sight and the county was facing a 2010 state mandate to sewer the remaining Keys. The county and FKAA started looking at ways to trim the cost of the estimated $ 200M Cudjoe project in case the county had to fund the whole thing.  A consultant created a decision tree that favored low pressure grinder pumps, and in 2009 the treatment plant capacity was “averaged down” to allow shallow disposal wells. With no money in sight, everyone waited. Continue reading

Mike DADDY BONES Tolbert’s Has A Great Idea! [Oh boy!]

How many think this is great IDEA! Gov’t thinks tasers are an awesome tool! Commissioner Yaniz thinks we need more fields for kids soccer. Everybody agrees boys and girls club needs new building! SO I suggest we auction off a chance to TASE Mayor Cates and Tony Yaniz! With all money going to project for the Kids! Daddy Bones will donate pork sandwiches.  Sure music will not  be  a  problem!   Hell,  I  will  personally  bid    $ 100 right now! Write the mayor and fats if you agree this is great idea.  We can sell tickets for people to watch. Kids make out big time!

Mike DADDY BONES Tolbert

Guest Column: Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System, a Solution?

For almost a year and a half, I have been arguing that the planned, pressurized wastewater system, using grinder pumps, that is proposed for the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System (CRWS) is uneconomic, unreliable, a burden on homeowners, and a potential environmental nightmare.  Now we learn that the shallow injection well design (120’ deep well) at the treatment plant may be an environmental disaster as well and is probably illegal, if the DEP actually enforces its own regulations.  How did we get to the point; where we are willing to install a system in the fragile environment of the Florida Keys, which may be worse than the septic systems we have now?  The answer is MONEY!!   In the 2006-11 timeframe, when the County and FKAA were being forced by the State and the EPA  to move forward with a sewer system, there were no State funds, the 1% infrastructure tax was to expire in 2018, and estimates for a system serving about 9,000 homes was well over $ 200 million. Continue reading

An Open Letter To Ron Martin and Andy Griffiths

LetterToEditor

Ron and Andy:

The Monroe County electorate owes both of you a big “Thank You” and I could not agree more.  Three seats on the school Board are up for election and it looked as if it was going to be a very dull, ho-hum campaign.  There did not appear to be any captivating issue(s) in the individual races or the election as a whole.  That being the case, it would not be an easy task for the voters to decide how they were going to cast their ballots.

Fortunately for us voters, you two have taken the proverbial bull by the horns and singlehandedly created an issue that will surely excite the voters.  The worst kept secret in Monroe County is your joint decision to ask your associates on the School Board to extend Mark Porter’s contract as superintendent before the August election.  Bear in mind that Porter’s contract does not expire until July 31, 2015, fourteen months from now.  Phrased differently, Porter is barely halfway through his initial three year contract. Continue reading

Justice Delayed…

Editor:

In a few days, we will be marking the third anniversary of a police riot in Miami Beach in which a motorist was killed and three others wounded when police unleashed a fusillade of 116 shots.  It was during Urban Beach Weekend in 2011 that a motorist ignored orders to pull over, nearly striking several officers and hitting barricades.  The police opened fire until the vehicle came to a stop and then continued firing into the vehicle.

Police would later claim that the motorist had fired first, mysteriously finding a gun three days later under the driver’s seat.  However, tests for gunpowder residue determined that the motorist had not fired a gun.  The general testimony by the police was contrary to the visual images shot by many bystanders using their cellphones and other devices, some of which were confiscated by the police.

There is a lot about the Miami Beach case that is very scary, not the least of which is that three years later the investigation is incomplete.  According to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office, the investigation “hopefully will be completed by the end of the summer.”  That is a common strategy in controversial cases, especially in instances where police are accused of improper, if not illegal, behavior.  Drag out the investigation interminably until most everyone has forgotten about it, witnesses have disappeared, evidence has been misplaced and so on.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Does the case of Charles Eimers come to mind?

The Blue Paper has done a superb job covering the Eimers case and it is imperative that that coverage continue.  You have already revealed questionable elements about the investigation as well as the case itself.  If we are not careful, the investigation will drag on and on and on….  Please stay on top of this case until it is resolved.

Larry Murray
~~~~~~~~~

A further thought:

It has been 25 years, 1989, since a police officer in south Florida was prosecuted for killing someone in his custody.  And, that officer was acquitted.

I am unaware of any investigation by a south Florida state attorney into the death of someone in custody that was not ruled justifiable.

Justice Delayed…

Editor:

In a few days, we will be marking the third anniversary of a police riot in Miami Beach in which a motorist was killed and three others wounded when police unleashed a fusillade of 116 shots.  It was during Urban Beach Weekend in 2011 that a motorist ignored orders to pull over, nearly striking several officers and hitting barricades.  The police opened fire until the vehicle came to a stop and then continued firing into the vehicle.

Police would later claim that the motorist had fired first, mysteriously finding a gun three days later under the driver’s seat.  However, tests for gunpowder residue determined that the motorist had not fired a gun.  The general testimony by the police was contrary to the visual images shot by many bystanders using their cellphones and other devices, some of which were confiscated by the police.

There is a lot about the Miami Beach case that is very scary, not the least of which is that three years later the investigation is incomplete.  According to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office, the investigation “hopefully will be completed by the end of the summer.”  That is a common strategy in controversial cases, especially in instances where police are accused of improper, if not illegal, behavior.  Drag out the investigation interminably until most everyone has forgotten about it, witnesses have disappeared, evidence has been misplaced and so on.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Does the case of Charles Eimers come to mind?

The Blue Paper has done a superb job covering the Eimers case and it is imperative that that coverage continue.  You have already revealed questionable elements about the investigation as well as the case itself.  If we are not careful, the investigation will drag on and on and on….  Please stay on top of this case until it is resolved.

Larry Murray
~~~~~~~~~

A further thought:

It has been 25 years, 1989, since a police officer in south Florida was prosecuted for killing someone in his custody.  And, that officer was acquitted.

I am unaware of any investigation by a south Florida state attorney into the death of someone in custody that was not ruled justifiable.

A Response to The CBS Report On The In-Custody Death of Charles Eimers

Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

I watched the CBS report from beginning to end. It never made clear what was done to Mr. Eimers. The video which has always been very clear in The Blue Paper was too dark on the CBS report to see Mr. Eimers getting out of his car and getting on his knees with his hands up in surrender.

Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

The report never showed that at that point, he should have been cuffed and placed into the police car, since he was not resisting arrest. The report never clearly showed all the police officers on top of him or told about the sand in his nose and mouth which asphyxiated him. The report was not clear that paramedics were told by police that they, the police, found the patient on the ground in cardiac arrest and gave him CPR, instead of being told the truth that multiple police officers were on top of him grinding him into the sand, causing the cardiac arrest from his being asphyxiated, because he first suffered respiratory arrest from having his two airways, his nose and his mouth blocked with sand from being pounded into the sand by the enormous weight from those multiple officers. If one can’t breathe, one goes into respiratory arrest and if this continues, one’s blood will stop circulating and then one goes into cardiac arrest. The CBS report never interviewed eye witnesses. They never mentioned the female officer yelling to the other officers that they were murdering Mr. Eimers. They never interviewed the medical examiner who performed the autopsy that almost didn’t happen because of the lies told to medical personnel. They only showed the interview with Mr. Eimers’ son and Chief Donie Lee, which would have been fine had they also interviewed eye witnesses and not darkened the video which clearly told the real truth.

When any officer of the law or multiple officers of the law throw a suspect, who has his hands up in surrender, to the ground and jump on him and start beating him and using the taser on him, that should no longer be considered police work; it should be considered assault and battery and assault with a deadly weapon. One does not have to be an attorney of law to know this, yet police officers are getting away with doing it all over the country, with few exceptions. Surrender is surrender and clearly, the video shows Charles Eimers on his knees with his hands up in surrender mode. What happened next should never have happened in the United States of America, and no one, officer of the law or layman, has to wait until the end of an “investigation” to know that.

Peggy Butler

West Palm Beach, FL

Another Founding Member of Sustainability Advisory Board Calls it Quits / Letter of Resignation to Mayor Cates

Exit

Dear Mayor Cates,

Please accept my letter of resignation from the Key West Sustainability Advisory Board, effective immediately.

I originally wrote this letter the night the commission voted to return us to twice-weekly trash pickup (2-1-1), but then decided to give myself a cooling-off period to see if it would change my mind. It has not.

Having served Key West as chairman to the Sustainability Advisory Board since its inception in 2009 and as vice chair since 2013, I am proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved. Key West has changed quite a bit during this time.  “Going Green” is now considered a normal part of doing business in most city decision making. I am sorry to be leaving under such circumstances, but feel compelled to do so.

It is hard to convey to you how dispiriting it is that four commissions could so easily overturn the many years of hard work by so many people, and to do so with not one comment from the public requesting a return to 2-1-1 during the discussion period of the meeting. Continue reading

CBS: “DEATH IN PARADISE”

death in paradise one
death in paradise one

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LINK TO CBS VIDEO AND ARTICLE

The CBS News report on the death of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day finally aired last Wednesday morning.  CBS News filmed a portion of their ‘CBS This Morning’ show on South Beach, where the arrest of Eimers by multiple Key West police officers occurred.

But the television report focused less on the arrest itself and the possible use of excessive force leading to Eimers’ death than on what happened after the arrest. They showed excerpts from medical records that show that police apparently claimed Eimers ran away, resisted arrest, and did not have a pulse by the time the police got to him.  An account which was then flatly contradicted by a video shot by a tourist, which shows a radically different version of the facts. Continue reading

Well Done, David Lybrand.

Dear Editor,

We were in attendance at the Key West City Commission meeting at Old City Hall on 5/20, for reasons unrelated to this letter.

We listened as the Commission read a proclamation honoring and celebrating David Lybrand for his dedicatedvolunteer service on the City’s Sustainability Advisory Board.  We all know why Mr. Lybrand resigned recently, after the vote to return to twice a week trash pickup with a new WM contract.  Mr. Lybrand thanked the Commission for it’s commendation by very succinctly saying that reverting to twice a week haulage was a step backwards and wrong headed (or words to that effect) in terms of sustainability of our environment.  Mr. Lybrand deserves our compliments and earned our respect in the way he exited the Council chambers: with integrity and dignity.  The Commission’s hypocrisy was made all more evident on this occasion. Well done, David.

Karl and Susie Reutling

Key West

GOING BACK TO TWICE A WEEK TRASH PICK UP IS A BIG MISTAKE

LetterToEditor

I was quoted last Saturday in the Citizen as saying at the Key West Sustainability Advisory Board meeting that “we’re much better off now had we just extended a contract with Waste Management.”  I was referring to the competitive bid process, which gave us best pricing from both companies versus just extending the old contract.  Many believed I was saying I am ok with the new contract.

Let me be clear. I am not ok with the new contract. I do not endorse the vote returning us to twice weekly trash collection (2-1-1). This was a terrible decision made by four commissioners who ignored their own solid waste master plan, which is supposed to take us forward to a Pay-As-You-Throw system. This contract takes us backwards.

This vote was against the advice of our solid waste expert, Kessler, Inc., City staff, the Sustainability Advisory Board, and that of virtually every other global expert in the field of resource recovery and sustainability.

Pay-As-You-Throw is industry best-practice. It is best for our environment and our pocket books.  Pay-As-You-Throw charges more to those that waste and rewards those that conserve. The waste haulers resist it because they make less.

My wife and I put out trash every second or third week. Almost everything goes to recycle or compost. Instead of rewarding our efforts, our rates will increase to subsidize those with no interest, or incentive to reduce waste.

Going to once a week trash pick-up (1-1-1) in our master plan was only a step in the right direction. It was a step towards “best-practices.” Our near sea level city quickly went from 7% to 21% recycling with 1-1-1.  San Francisco recycles 80% with Pay-as-You-Throw.

The new 2-1-1 contract will drag us backwards simply to appease a handful of people who do not know how to dispose of their fish, but mostly to give the contract to a favored bidder.

2-1-1 will reduce our recycling, reduce composting of our yard waste, increase truck traffic on our streets, add more carbon to the atmosphere and significantly increase rate payer costs.

I urge everyone to contact the mayor and commissioners. Request that they find a way to correct this wrong-headed retrograde decision and get us back to a 1-1-1 once-a-week trash pick-up.

Ross Williams, Key West

LetterToEditor

Immediate Fallout Due To Controversial Vote On New Waste Management Contract

David Lybrand, a founding member of the City of Key West’s five-year old Sustainability Advisory Board steps down in reaction to the City Commission’s controversial decision to disregard City staff’s and the advisory board’s recommendations when awarding a new solid waste contract.  Below is his resignation letter tendered to Commissioner Teri Johnston and the City Commission yesterday.

May 8, 2014

Key West Commissioner Teri Johnston and the Key West City Commission
Key West, Florida
Teri:

Tonight’s Sustainability Advisory Board meeting completes 5 years since you appointed me as a founding member of the board.  I have participated in more SAB meetings than anyone and feel good about what the board has accomplished toward improving many aspects of our City’s sustainability, as well as its GREEN influencing on other actions the City has taken.  I was looking forward to continuing to do what I can to help the City progress from its unsustainable ways. Continue reading

Mosquito Control Needs Modern Organization

Mosquito Control is undergoing a major relocation and it has the opportunity to organize in a manner appropriate to a small, modern utility.  The Board should use common sense and good organizational practice in establishing work locations, functional relationships, and geographic identities.  It should also anticipate continuing use of technology to reduce some manual tasks.  Specifically, if Marathon, which has undergone a significant expansion of offices, is now going to be the headquarters, than all core management departments should be located there.  The new operations building on Big Coppit should be limited to housing personnel with geographical responsibility in the Lower Keys.  The idea of having the Finance Department work out of Big Coppit because a few employees don’t want to move is absurd and is contrary to good management principles.  The Big Coppit property should be sized for operations personnel only, while recognizing that future technology, such as automated mosquito density counters and drones for breeding area monitoring in mangroves is likely.  Mosquito Control should move forward with a modern, cost effective organization, rather than backwards to a bloated, inefficient utility that wastes our tax money.  Concerned citizens’ should attend the next Board meeting on May 21st at 3PM in Marathon.

A Few Earth Day Thoughts…

Four years ago, while we were living in New Orleans, the Deepwater Horizon rig blew poisoning the Gulf waters and all of its inhabitants forever.  Rather than feel helpless about the horror of it I was able to work with the clean up of over 1,000 oiled birds, the large majority rehabbed and released elsewhere.

In addition to rehab successes another good thing that came of that summer of disaster was that the Vet students from LSU that worked with the rehabbers learned to treat and appreciate wildlife. Almost all had said they planned to go into the care of cats and dogs because, “That’s where the money is.”

You will notice there are not a lot of Vets doing the work of wildlife.  That is because unlike dogs and cats, each type animal is unique and a field of study in itself.  There is also no money in it.

Most wildlife centers are self funded and the work dirty, fraught with frustration and endless, with little or no pay. If the directors do receive salaries we should be grateful.  And if they appear somewhat eccentric it is because of their intense passion and lifelong dedication to the care of helpless birds and animals that in our culture have no where else to turn. I think of Laura Quinn, Becky Baron, Kelly and Maya as historic figures in the field in the Keys, just to name a few. Continue reading

Street Performers Want Equal Protection

This city of Key West practices a “double standard” of “bias” and “discrimination” towards us street performers who have all the rights, provided to us by the U.S.Constitution –  the supreme law of the land – but are excluded from enjoying our rights. It’s is a direct attempt to violate our constitutional right of “Equal Protection Under the Law”

So, what we have here is a misuse of power on the part of the City Commissioners simply because they know they can do what they feel they can do to certain people of our community, like the street performers to name one, because we are poor folks who can’t afford to fight back in court. They are banning street performers from enjoying their “right ” to the use of a small amp while everyone else can have the continued  use of amplification .

We as street performers should be able, by right guaranteed by the U.S.Constitution, to use amplification.

Have a look at this US Supreme Court case: Kovacks v. Cooper, 336 U.S. 77

So, in all fairness, logic dictates that by law, if you ban street performers, then everyone else should be banned as well and that should include any and all city sponsored events and privately sponsored events where amplified music is played. For example, like Fantasy Fest, Jimmy Buffet concerts and other events that use amplification. As most locals know, there are hardly any good quality musicians on the street anymore, not like there used to be! Why? Because of what the city has done to us !

This madness must be put to a stop, once and for all time, so the city will know that they just can’t continue to break the law !!! Can you help us please !!! We want to go back to working doing what we love for a living !

Kenyatta Arrington

KEY WEST

Do Mooring Fields Address The Derelict Vessel Issue or Are They Just Another Monroe County Tourist Attraction?

[An Open Letter To] Commissioner George Neugent,

You were quoted in the Key west Citizen as saying “We are treating the symptoms instead of treating the real problem with derelict vessels. The way to treat the problem is through managed mooring fields.”

I need you to explain to me why you think a managed mooring field will solve the derelict vessel problem. Every thing I have seen and heard shows a managed mooring field provides a marina for transient cruisers while the liveaboards and stored vessels (most likely to become derelict) continue to stay on an anchor.

I found this presentation put out by Florida Sea Grant (a university based program) for a Titusville mooring field and on slide 21 it states a mooring field  “does not prevent derelict vessel problem”. Continue reading

Congressman Joe Garcia Doing Important Work For Local Vets

They call us heroes but to us they are our heroes: The Marathon Weekly, The Free Press, The Key West Blue Paper, The Big Pine Barometer, Pirate Radio, Commissioner George Nugent and Congressman Joe Garcia.

Each came to our defense when one of only two Doctors at the Key West VA clinic retired. The Miami VA said no to a replacement. That meant one Doctor between Key West and Key Largo.

Now two to three months to get a visit in season. No sick walk in visits. I walked into the clinic sick. I had never done that before but I was sick. I was turned away after hearing the story from a staff member who was in tears.

I went home and wrote a letter to the editor, something else I had never done before. It was like magic. The Weekly & the Barometer published it. Bob Silk at the Free Press interviewed veterans who were waiting months for a VA Doctor visit & published it. Naja at the Blue Paper looked into it and got right on Congressman Joe Garcia. My friend Annie Miners with Pirate Radio went to management with the story. Pirate Radio had the Congressman Joe Garcia on air this past Veterans day to see what he was going to do about our vets. Commissioner George Neugent called, said he had talked to our Congressman about the problem. George said he worked a lot with Joe Garcia & the Congressman would fix it. I says fat chance, the man is a democrat. George said trust me. Garcia has a thing for veterans. I says we vets are one percent of the people and only one percent of our one percent ever voted for a democrat. We got no money for any reelection, we got no money for lobbyist. We veterans are invisible and we are toast. Mr. Bill says George, trust me.

George was right. Congressman Joe Garcia went to the Director of the Miami VA and came out with Doctor & staff in tow. The Congressman then had a meeting with the Sectary of the Navy, Joe told the Sectary that the VA clinic in Key West was in a Navy hospital & because in season even with two Doctors, sick walk in vets could be turned away, so could the Navy put up a Navy Doctor if it came down to it? The Sectary said done.

We vets are thankful to each & everyone of you who focused your power to help veterans who are powerless.

For a politician in today’s world to work so hard to help a people that could do so little for him. I would choose a word other than a hero. I would call Joe Garcia a leader.

Bill Cooper

Marathon

One Has To Ask: Why?

The more I read about the death of Charles Eimers, the more nauseated I feel. It leaves me wondering what has happened to Key West in the four years since I left the island. Specifically, what has happened to Chief Donie Lee’s police department. When I lived there, I would have trusted my life to any of his officers, without exception. Was I simply experiencing Key West through rose-colored glasses for all those years? Or has a hideous change swept over the island? Now it seems some of the officers are mimicking bully police officers in large cities or backwoods counties in the north who’d just as soon use their tasers or brute force in numbers on a person, regardless of his age, than try to talk in a calm manner with him to find out what they want to know. The video speaks for itself. We clearly see the man walking, not running away and then dropping to the ground as the officers instructed. And we clearly see several officers surrounding him and on him, as his face is ground into the sand. This man had no chance of survival without immediate help from paramedics, who could have at least cleared his airway before transporting him to the ER. One has to ask why that help was so delayed. One has to ask why it was not immediately apparent to doctors and nurses in the ER that this man’s nose and mouth were blocked with sand, preventing him from breathing. One has to ask again – what has happened to Key West in recent years for something this heinous to happen to an innocent man who’d come to visit the beautiful island to enjoy his recent retirement. One has to ask why sad condolences must go out to his family instead of congratulations on their loved one’s reaching that well-earned milestone of retirement. One has to ask the question: Why?

Peggy Butler

West Palm Beach

Open letter to the County Commissioners

Dear Commissioners,

Thank you very much for your service to the residents of Monroe County.  We have been full-time residents for over 30 years, and have enjoyed it.  In all those years, we never had a complaint.

There is, however, an issue that we feel should be addressed.  It affects us, and it affects many other constituents.  In brief, we have a small mobile home that we put on the market. Upon receipt of an offer to buy it, it was discovered that there was an open permit from back in 1988.  That is 26 years ago, well before we purchased that property in 2001!   We had no idea there was an issue until we’re close to closing our sale.   When our realtor called the Building Department to investigate, they changed it to “expired” the permit.

There is also a possibility that a clerical error was made.  We own Unit #3 in Venture Out, on Cudjoe Key. Our property records show a permit that is linked to a different unit.  The permit # 04100197 is for unit #501. The permit that is apparently linked to our unit, Unit #3 is #881000344.

The burden of closing or re-opening those old permits is being put on the current owners.  We are only a couple of weeks from our closing date, and this very unpleasant surprise causes us undue grief.  If something was not done correctly 26 years ago, the problem should have been uncovered well before now, and the burden should either be put on the owners at that time, or grandfathered.

We urge you to take action on behalf of all the homeowners of Monroe County.  We respectfully request that permits older than a certain time (10 years?) be closed and forgiven when the original permittee is no longer the property owner.

Best regards,

Dr. and Mrs. William M. Smith

BOCC: We Have No Legal Obligation To Take Care of Derelict Vessels

IMG_9167 reduced

Tug Tilly at anchor Monday February 24th, four days before sinking

There’s finally an explanation as to why nothing was done to keep the Tug Tilly from sinking.  A lot has been said and written about the Tug Tilly:  the controversial sale of a 150-ton scrapyard-ready tugboat to a homeless man, its subsequent floundering while abandoned two miles south of Key West about a month ago, the hundreds of gallons of engine oil spilled into the ocean and the enormous looming wreck removal costs.  And with that, the half- million dollar question:  Why, since everyone knew this was going to happen, why-oh-why, was nothing done to prevent this catastrophe?

Isn’t the county government in charge of derelict vessels?  Hasn’t Monroe County, for years, been paying for the removal of derelict vessels, including over $ 100,000 for the “Pair-O-Dice” alone?  [Pair-O-Dice was a casino boat aground in Key West harbor in 2009 when it was seized as a derelict vessel and destroyed at county expense). Continue reading

What We Don’t Need is More Government on our Backs and in the Business of the People

It’s time for the citizens to be more active in what kind of laws, and the kind of community we would like to have and share. Lets come together and fight against the bureaucrats and politicians, telling us what for,  how to, where to go, and  what we can and not do only when it serves their own self interest. Because leaving it up to the politicians who keep adding more laws and laws that take away our freedom is not the answer.

The clubs and bars who have live music or DJ music should be allowed to monitor themselves and be required to have their very own DB device, either buy one themselves or have one supplied by the City.

CASE IN POINT: THE RECENT FUSS OVER THE ”SOUND ORDINANCE” where most of the complaints I heard  about at the meeting stem from the dance sub woofers you hear with the constant beat going on and on. If you where trying to sleep it would drive you nuts. However on the other side, when you listen to live music from a band or a singer with just a guitar it’s not the same as the DJ MUSIC FROM A LP, CD OR WHATEVER THEY USE TO PUMP UP THE VOLUME.

So what we have here is a misuse of power on the part of the City Commissioners. Simply because they have banned the poor street performer from having a right to use a small amp while others in our community can use amps.

We as street performers should be able to, by right given by the U.S.Constitution, to use amplification.

So, in all fairness logic dictates that by law if you ban street performers, everyone should be banned as well and that should include any and all city sponsored events and private sponsored events where music is played (for example) like Fantasy Fest, Jimmy Buffet [concerts] and other events that use amplification.

This is a “double standard” and it not only shows “bias” but also discrimination towards the street performers, who have every right provided to them by the supreme law of the land to not be excluded.

U.S.Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

We THE PEOPLE

Kenyatta Arrington Key West

An Open Letter to the Board of County Commissioners

Honorable Commissioners:
I had some concern about the Stock Island waterfront area going from commercial to mixed use. As you know, the County Commission voted to make the area mixed use and it passed. Back then I sent you a e-mail stating that any boat ramp in that area would need to stay in county hands to ensure that it always has access to the public. I’m not sure if this is still part of the deal with the redevelopment on Stock Island.
Now that they have their wish and are now zoned mixed use, they take their trash, such as the Tugboat Tilly, tow it out to sea and let it sink to be cleaned up at taxpayers expense. This is the thanks that the taxpayer gets for letting that area become affluent under the new zoning. This should be a criminal offense for what has happened, and now our county tax dollars will have to clean this mess up.
Now, back to the boat ramp and any public access issues for the redevelopment of the Stock Island Waterfront: Ensure that any public access areas planned for this area remain or become part of Monroe County property. I believe that any promises by the developers will not be honored in the long term, and will end up a problem in private hands, just like the Tugboat Tilly.
Wayne Nowocien
Big Coppitt Key, Fl

Supertankers For Humanity Announces Its First Florida Keys Project

Issue 54 Exxon II for web

NEWS RELEASE

SUPERTANKERS INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

dba Supertankers For Humanity

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

MEDIA CONTACT: Ahmad Jaber, 143-26-54-78-85-62 A.Jaber@supertankersinternational.com

ABU DHABI, MARCH 21, 2014 – Rather than facing the costs of decommissioning large commercial vessels, we here at Supertankers International Corp have become sensitive to the pleas for affordable housing coming from the large homeless population in the Florida Keys.  This type of partnership directly benefiting the disadvantaged, normally only available in the third world, will be an asset to the Keys.  We are in the process of re-routing to Key West a 441-foot supertanker that had been scheduled for a scrapyard in India.

For more information contact: Al Belhoul at A.Belhoul@supertankersforhumanity.com

###

Avoiding a Sinking Should Be First Priorty

An issue that frustrated me while serving on the Monroe County Marine and Port Advisory Committee is the ineffectiveness of the county’s derelict vessel program. A large portion of the time our committee spent during my term was to help shape the development of Monroe County’s Pilot Program Anchoring ordinance. One of the main goals of this ordinance is reduction of derelict vessels.

The committee recognized that motivating owners to maintain their vessels is the first priority. Sadly, there are too many reasons why motivation does not always work. We knew some owners would simply move to unregulated anchorages. Other “Pre-derelict” vessels that remained in the regulated anchorage would be “red tagged,” and sit for weeks or months while the legal process of determining ownership and serving notice ground on. The time between “pre-derelict” and “a sunken boat” is often long enough for a proactive intervention program to be effective. Several suggestions were made to the committee.

One was the provision of an emergency mooring where vessels in distress could be secured and kept afloat. Avoiding a sinking should be the first priority. Sorting out ownership and responsibility should come second.

Another suggestion was “Amnesty Day” – a program used successfully years ago in Marathon. This would expand the county program where owners who surrender their vessel at the transfer station will not be charged disposal fees – a program that works well for small boats. Larger boats (or those without trailers) must be hauled out at a boat yard and trucked to the transfer station. On Amnesty Day, any “pre derelict” vessel that a Monroe County owner can bring to the seawall would be hauled out and disposed of by the county. Some towing companies actually offered free tows. This program would require some funding and take some work, but it is cheaper than salvage.

Vessel owners should accept responsibility and not transfer disposal expense to the county. However, Monroe County often winds up paying the salvage bill. It is in the county’s best interest to keep derelict boats from sinking.

Bill Hunter

Sugarloaf Key

PEARY COURT DEVELOPERS ARE NOT SNEAKING UNDER THE RADAR / First of Many Public Meetings on New Plan This Monday

Sneaking?
Sneaking?

Lee Dunn is certainly entitled to his opinion about the Peary Court redevelopment plan. But to say that “White Street Partners [is] sneaking in under the radar” is far from the truth, as are his statements that “With the exception of two 8 inch by 10 inch placards affixed obscurely to the existing Peary Court fence, there has been NO notice given to the public” and “ NO meetings with the general public as promised last year when their original plans were shut down.”

On Feb. 13, 2013, shortly after “the original plans were shut down” (i.e., withdrawn at a HARC meeting), I received and immediately responded to an inquiry from Tharon Dunn concerning the planning process going forward. On Feb. 24, I received an e-mail from neighborhood spokesman Steve Dawkins, who also requested a description of the process going forward, to which I immediately responded. That information was, in turn, circulated among the many neighbors on Steve’s Peary Court e-mail blast list. Continue reading

WHITE STREET PARTNERS SNEAKING IN UNDER THE RADAR, PEARY COURT DEVELOPMENT ROUND TWO

peary court

White Street Partners is sneaking in under the radar…again… with a new plan to develop Peary Court.  With the exception of two 8 inch by 10 inch placards affixed obscurely to the existing Peary Court fence, there has been NO notice given to the public regarding their highly evolved plans to create an unprecedented 24 acre “Olde Towne” development at Peary Court.  There has been NO official notice in anything of record, NO articles in the local newspapers, NO mention on radio or TV or the internet, NO meetings with the general public as promised last year when their original plans were shut down.  And yet, on this coming Monday evening at 5:30 PM at the Old City Hall on Greene Street, HARC will review this massive proposal and make a decision to give it the green light.  I’m not kidding.  This whole proposal, one shot by HARC, this Monday night.

How can this be?  How can a project of of this scale in the middle of and at the gateway to Old Town get so far with so little oversight?

In a last minute meeting this Sunday arranged at great effort by Meadows residents with WSP representatives  (Donna Bosold, formerly of HARC, and Jim Hendricks, formerly face man for Pritam Singh at Truman Annex), we were  shown only small scale plot plans of their new proposal.  They felt the architectural drawings were too complicated for them, and certainly for us, to understand, and were therefore deliberately with held. Continue reading

Adult Education Program Deserves Kudos

There are a few facts regarding the adult education program that shed a different light on the previous reporting that informed readers need to know.

First – the new director of the program was only appointed at the end of July for the year involved in the audit.  The Master Calendar for the program had already been prepared by the previous director, on one hand this is no excuse, but given the fact that this was not the only program under said director’s assignment, a reasonable person is able to understand.  The Department of Education (DOE) adult education comprehensive course codes contain four (4) different course codes, this in and of itself are enough to digest, coupled with six additional programs unrelated to adult education, but important to student achievement are under the direction of this one individual.  Couple that with the fact there are seven different locations to which this individual must travel to oversee the course work being undertaken by the students involved, add to that course changes in the additional programs, state requirement updates that must be addressed, one might easily say – “Wait a minute, let’s see what has been corrected since the audit findings (which by the way are for the 2012-2013 school year) were realized.” Continue reading

Burning Yard Waste In the Keys Is A Real Mistake

The burning of yard waste in the Keys is a real mistake – I would rather continue to pay the higher cost to at least have the waste burned to generate power than to simply produce ash and air pollution.

In our community in IL we collected kitchen waste (no meat or animal products) and composed it.  There are only 360 homes in the community but the compost was free to property owners or it would go to the organic farmer nearby.

Rus Van Derveer

Key West

A Peary Court Lament

I live across the street from Peary Court.  I often sit on my front porch and watch the sun rise.  Sometimes I sit on the porch and watch the after work hustle around town in the late afternoon.

As I gaze across the street I see  neat little complex of housing behind an historic military fence.  I see many younger working people coming and going about their business.  I see children playing in relative safety from traffic and strangers, I see dogs and their owners, running loose in the grassy areas, enjoying the outdoors in a peaceful and playful manner.  I see older folks walking their dogs, and even a leashed cat or two, under the mature trees, the owners with their little bags to clean up after their pets.  I can see that some of the families are military, by their working clothes, and some are not.  Regardless of the controversial history of the property and its use, it doesn’t matter to me. The prime thing I see is regular working class folks enjoying a nice peaceful and affordable (by old Key West standards). rental property.  It  presents itself as a nice place to live.  All safe, decent, and affordable, and all rentals, for working folks, young and old.

We desperately need more of this kind of community atmosphere in Key West, not less.  But, as current plans move ahead, we will soon be losing what little we have, already in place at Peary Court.  The new owners want the buildings to be razed, only to be replaced by new houses for sale at new Key West prices, some allegedly “affordable” to some buyers, with yet another property owners association to control their assets; no rental housing is anticipated.  Why must it always be about ownership and making more money?

Karl Reutling

Key West

An Open Letter to the Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC)

SAC Members:

As a former SAC member for six years, a current member of the Mote Marine Advisory Board and a consultant who is working with the Sierra Club and NRDC on national air quality issues, I share your love and concern for the environment.  Over the last thirteen months I have questioned the economics of the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System, its social disparity, its likelihood of actually working as designed  and most recently, its potential detrimental impact to the very environment we are trying to protect.   As I learned more and received information from other concerned engineers, water quality experts and national trade and advocacy groups, I have become even more alarmed.  Yesterday I had the opportunity and privilege of presenting my thoughts and speaking at the Florida Keys Sanctuary Advisory Council Water Quality Advisory meeting.

I am attaching a copy of the information I provided to this group.  Please review and share it.  Please consider how we can either take action to reverse the current design, institute controls for testing and monitoring, and for developing a set of procedures for our response teams to react when failures occur.  It may be a few years before problems occur with this system, and many of us will be retired and long gone, but rest assured, it will fail.  Why am I confident of that statement?   There are a number of reasons:  First and most important, this system is designed by humans and all human systems fail in time.  The pressure sewage system consists of hundreds of miles of pressurized plastic wastewater lines buried just above our salt water aquifer, multiple water crossings, including one of the longest underwater crossings ever attempted for a pipe of this design, over 300 lift stations and  1,500 grinder pumps on individual homes sites.  We are installing a system that is prone to failure due to environmental conditions in the harshest environment one can select.  Tropical temperatures and sun, salt laden air, a water table that engulfs much of the equipment, and occasional tidal surges and hurricanes will all hasten an earlier than anticipated failure.

Do you want to be here in ten years when the system fails and tell your children you could have done something, but decided not to? The SAC has the responsibility and ability to address this issue.  Thank you.

Walter P. Drabinski

Sir Isaac Newton Coalition

Figuring It Out…

This letter is in rebuttal to Mr. M. Chenoweth’s rebuttal to Mr. Cooper’s commentary on income inequality. Yes, Mr. C. they have to figure it out like millions before have had to do, unfortunately some never will. The opportunities for success are there for those who prepare to take advantage of them when presented. It’s called career planning. It means having a goal and the discipline to remain focused on that goal. It means going to school after high school to learn something of value in the job market.

Be one out of thousands who spends hours a day throwing a football through a tire hanging from a tree, learn how to throw a baseball 95 miles an hour, learn how to make every shot from the free throw line. Learn to do anything that people will pay the big bucks to see you do. Be advised there is only one out of many thousands will make it big in sports or entertainment.

Labor has a value determined by the marketplace. If a person’s skills are such he can throw a baseball 95 miles an hour, he has a law degree, is a registered pharmacist or a certified nuclear welder he can readily exchange his time and effort for the fair compensation Mr. C. has mentioned. Employers today can’t find enough candidates who can write a complete sentence, do fractions, figure a percentage or read a rule. New hires frequently have to be schooled in basic arithmetic and the English language before they can enroll in company job related training programs. Continue reading

Are Commissioners Afraid of the “Financially Challenged”?

Once again the City Commisioners tried to put their collective thumbs on the heads of the “financially challenged” residents of Key Weird.  In typical fashion Rossi and Yaniz voted against allowing two benches being placed outside an ice cream shop for the simple reason a homeless person might put his unwashed ass on it. There are very few places in Key Weird for visitors to sit a few minutes to rest.  I’m sure Rossi would prefer to have them sit in the bar at his “entertainment complex” so he can continue reaping the profits of his overpriced drinks.  With any luck, when these two are 85 years old and not walking too well, I hope they collapse on Duval St. for lack of a place to rest.

Are Yaniz and Rossi afraid of the “financially challenged”?  Do they think all the crime is committed by them?  How much crime is committed by the “financially challenged”?   I looked up the arrests for a 7 day period ending Feb 1.  The Key Weird Storm Troopers made 28 arrests. (they didn’t murder anyone)  6 homeless (21%),  7 out of town (25%)  and 15 residents of Key Weird or Stock Island (54%)   So who are the dangerous ones?  I’m more in fear of the residents than any others!

Kurt Wagner

temporarily in St.Thomas VI

Rebuttal: Income Equality: Figuring It Out

Dear Editor,

Mr. Cooper’s specious arguments [Income Equality: Figuring It Out / Issue #46] deserve a rebuttal. He says “The fact is, however– except maybe in Sherwood Forest– taking from the rich and giving to the poor is not going to have much impact on the problem of income inequality. What would make an impact is somehow helping the dropout in the fast food restaurant simply “figure it out.” I have lived for a number of years and I have concluded that “figuring it out” is what life is all about. How hard is it for young people to figure out that they will do much better in life if they at least finish high school and don’t start having babies in their teens? Those who can figure it out up to that point should also be able to figure out how to go to college or trade school. Granted, it’s easier to figure it out if you have parents and/or others to coach and encourage you.”

What a pile of crap. His comparison, of efforts to ensure that all working Americans can afford to live on what they earn, to “Sherwood Forest,” does a disservice to both Robin Hood and current advocates for higher pay. Requiring employers to pay their employees a fair level of compensation is neither “taking from the rich”, nor “giving” something to the poor.

What Mr. Cooper conveniently ignores is that since the 1960s, there has been a concerted and relatively successful effort, by the wealthiest among us, to shift revenues from the people who work to produce and sell their products and services, to the people who own the stock in the companies that profit from those sales. As a result of that effort, the median wage for working white males has been almost flat since 1970, while the income of the top few percent has skyrocketed. Since 2009, America has continued with high unemployment and low wages for those who have jobs, while the stock market has doubled in value. That is a formula for disaster. Continue reading

Spiritualized Curriculum–Promotes Cures, Solutions And Positiveness

canstockphoto1206645

“In the vault of the mind lies all the chains of bondage, as well as the keys to freedom”

–Paramahansa Yogananda.

Unwilling to teach truth and wisdom, we’ve been ‘dumbed down’ to a point of dependency upon our overseers to manufacture the reality they’ve engineered for us.

“We’re not a wisdom society–we’re a knowledge society; knowledge becomes outdated very quickly, and therefore old people become obsolete” –Ram Dass.

Unable to benefit from the experiences and insight accrued through the ages, the hidden truths understood by our predecessors have become obscured. Their study into the nature of creation and the cosmos, are filled with perspectives that provide answers to the dilemmas of existence. Acceptance of this wisdom radically alters the way we’ve been taught to view the phenomenon of consciousness.

Flying by the seat of our pants, the blind have continued to lead the blind into conditioned boxes of disquietude. Lacking the knowhow, with few alternatives available, these instructors teach us to languish over life and assign fault to people, places and things for our suffering. This conditioned reaction perpetuates cycles of anger, violence and malcontent.   Continue reading

To All Criminal Vehicle Lodgers In Key West

canstockphoto14008524

To all criminal vehicle lodgers in Key West,

First of all we are all unwashed and a detriment to the health and safety of tourists and residents of Key West.  We are criminals.

I have  never received a citation or been chased away by the Key West Gestapo.  There is a reason for this.  There are certain things you should and shouldn’t do to fly under the radar.

  1. If you are in a car, you are gonna get busted.  You may get one warning, then you go to jail. This doesn’t apply to you.
  2. Where you park for the night makes a world of difference.  Never, I repeat NEVER, park in a shopping center lot.
  3. Never park any place you are the only vehicle.
  4. Never park on the street in front of some one’s house.  (they will call the Gestapo)
  5. Never park in a paid parking garage.
  6. Never spend more than ONE night in a business’s lot that is open all night. (ie. McDonalds)
  7. Never park in a Motel/Hotel lot.  (they have security people looking for you)
  8. Never park on private property. Continue reading

TGB

TGB

Nobody asked me but I’m going to give you my plan for the Truman Waterfront.  Actually no:  Enough plans!  It’s been 13 years of infighting amongst all the special interests.  Ed Swift wanted his Assisted Living Facility, Bill Spottswood his marina, Carbonnel his powerboat races … and the amphitheater … and the museum.  Enough!  My proposition is based on one simple principal.  It’s called the TGB:  Trees, Grass, and Benches.  Let’s have a contest.  Whoever designs the best park will have the honor of having been chosen.  The only limitation is the design can only require TGB and nothing more.  Let’s have the City Commission pick the best TGB design and let’s have everyone who wants to plant trees come and do so.  I will be there with my shovel.  When in the future some great idea gains everyone’s support and has the proper funding I will be there with my wheelbarrow to relocate some TGB for the new project.  But in the meantime, let’s enjoy this beautiful space.

GUEST EDITORIAL: A Park is a Park is a Park?

tony yaniz headThere have been many delays and much confusion over the Truman Waterfront property “gift” our city received from the Navy nearly fourteen years ago. Our citizens were very excited that we were going to have a Park with much needed green space. However, we still don’t have much in the way of progress.

A Park is defined by the dictionary as:

Park noun \ˈpärk\ : a piece of public land in or near a city that is kept free of houses and other buildings and can be used for pleasure and exercise: a large area of public land kept in its natural state to protect plants and animals

Sounds simple right?  Not so fast. Apparently, the Navy set certain parameters as to what this park would be. But by the same token, the original conveyance included a marina; that would have provided the economic engine to build and maintain this entity. Currently, a similar facility caters to the big yachts at the Westin Marina who pay thousands of dollars per day to use their space.  I believe the original numbers as proposed by Spottswood & Meisel group to build the Truman Waterfront Park and Marina were roughly nine million for the uplands and same amount for the water side. Estimated maintenance costs for the park are two million plus a year.  A portion of our citizens were opposed to the marina option. We couldn’t come to an understanding and time kept marching forward. Then the Navy decided they wanted the basin and the proposed marina site back.  Once again, he who hesitates is lost!  Remember the Truman Annex opportunity? Continue reading

Coordinated Local Support For Wounded Warrior Project Was Outstanding

To The Editor:

Lt. Mitch Horn and his detail of extraordinary deputies from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department provided outstanding leadership and spectacular coverage for the recent Wounded Warrior Bike Ride. State Troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol masterfully coordinated with the Sheriiff’s Office, as they constructed a protective umbrella that safely guarded these combat wounded veterans, as they rode bicycles to Key West.

VFW Post 10211 in Key Largo was the staging area for the start of this ride. Post members eagerly awaited their arrival with sumptuous snacks. They have been the bedrock upon which the participants of this yearly event begin their journey. These Purple Heart recipients were sent on their mission nourished and ready.

Dennis Ward, Gary Johnson and John Donnelly, along with a plethora of supportive citizens made certain that these Warriors were apropriately welcomed and prepared to start the day’s event.

As a Wounded Warrior himself, Mr. Donnelly went on the buses and individually welcomed each rider to the Florida Keys. The positive energy and gratitude projected towards these riders were palpable.

The Sheriff’s Department devised a brilliant strategy that safely and expeditiously moved the riders to Coral Shores High School. Inconvenience to the driving public was kept at a minimal. People gathered on the side of the road applauding and sharing words of encouragement with the riders as they passed by.

Assimilating and integrating a member of the Armed Forces back into civilian life, who endured five combat tours of duty in Iraqi and Afghanistan, one of which resulted in them being severely wounded, isn’t an easy task.

This type of activity for these men and women has proven to be an extremely valuable treatment, in restoring them back to a position where they can have a chance to once again enter the mainstream of life.

Sheriff Rick Ramsay is a giant among giants, when it comes to his support of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Sincerely,

Jessie Davis

Key Largo

Could Project For Public Spaces Move Our Park Forward?

images-2Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization founded in 1975 that has completed projects for markets, waterfronts, walkable and bike friendly streets, and parks, in over 3000 communities in 43 countries and all 50 US states. They call their process PLACEMAKING.   Placemaking is a catalyst for building healthy, sustainable and economically viable cities of the future.

PPS has an excellent short paper “9 Steps to Creating a Great Waterfront” Step 2: MAKE SURE PUBLIC GOALS ARE THE PRIMARY OBJECTIVE,  Step 3  BUILD ON EXISTING ASSETS & CONTEXT, Step 4 CREATE A SHARED COMMUNITY VISION  Step 6  CONNECT DESTINATIONS ALONG THE WATERFRONT  Step 9  START SMALL TO MAKE BIG CHANGES!

At www.pps.org just look at the FABULOUS projects PPS is doing in other communities.  Parks and Streetscapes.  FAR MORE CREATIVE than anything being considered for our park and MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE!  Many of these things can be done for a small fraction of the cost of our proposed park!

Look at their Lighter, Quicker Cheaper plans to move public space plans ahead. Transformative Placemaking- “Turning everything upside down to get it right side up”….we could use just such a shake up in Key West!  The “Power of 10” is the idea that any great place itself needs to offer at least 10 things to do or 10 reasons to be there. These could include a place to sit, playgrounds to enjoy, art to touch, music to hear, food to eat, history to experience, and people to meet.

PPS brings stakeholders TOGETHER.  They listen to the community and what they want in a space.  I would bet about anything – they could work with the Walsh family and the Westin and get Admirals Cut open!  I would bet once the Walsh family talked with Projects for Public Spaces they would jump at opening Admirals Cut so their guests could enjoy this wonderful new park- a park that none of us here can even begin to imagine.

I talked extensively with Projects for Public Spaces Founder and President Fred Kent and Kathy Madden, Senior Vice President back in 2010 and the spring of 2011.  They were very excited to work with Key West in developing a once in a life time parcel of land that would be beyond most peoples imagination.  Richard Tallmadge, who is on the TWAB, and I took part in a conference call with Fred and Kathy back almost 3 years ago.  We have a copy of a proposal where PPS would work with Key West to develop a plan for our park where EVERYONE’s dreams and needs in a park would be included. PPS conducts Quick Impact Workshops of 1 – 3 days including PPS representations and community workshops.

In their proposal of 2011 in

Phase 1: They would: 1. review existing documents 2. Interview stakeholders and hold a working session with City officials 3. Hold a Placemaking Workshop – as part of the Placemaking workshop PPS uses Place Performance Evaluation – through common sense, intuition, structured observation and interviewing participants quickly see good and bad qualities of a place, it ignites a creative process about how to make a place vital and great.  There is Facilitator Training where PPS trains City officials and TWAB members to facilitate additional simpler Place Performance Evaluation Exercises that many other City projects could benefit from!  Deliverable is a summary of the workshop findings along with results from the Stakeholder interviews and working session with City officials.  This forms the basis for the conceptual design and written report.

Phase 2:  Develops a Concept Plan and Report.  The plan would illustrate the long-term vision for the waterfront including types of activities and uses at different times of day and year (eg markets, festivals, performances) types and location of amenities such as seating, lighting, public art, focal points, connections to adjacent areas relationships to existing and new buildings and improvements to streets, sidewalks and pedestrian routes.  The concept plan is summarized in a report with ideas for programming and events, integration of the new road design and includes case studies of existing, successful management structures and examples of PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS.    The report is in a format suitable for incorporating into an RFP for the various consultants that are necessary to implement the project.

PPS would then send the draft Concept Plan to TWAB and the City for review and comment.   PPS then finalizes a report based on comments and would make a powerpoint presentation of recommendations and concepts to key stakeholders and community members .

Their proposed budget allows 20 hours for PPS to continue working with TWAB and the City during the design, development, and implementation process – such as helping prepare the RFP, reviewing preliminary designs and management plans.  Beyond those hours PPS is available on an hourly basis.

PPS provides an introduction to their contacts who have successfully implemented a management structure into their public spaces and would help guide TWAB and the City through the process of developing an entity to MANAGE THE WATERFRONT.  Deliverables are a concept plan in graphic format and final written report.Can Key West afford $70,000 to get our park on its way and out of this stagnant state it has been in for too many years.  I say we cannot afford NOT to involve Projects for Public Spaces.

Maybe TWAB or the City will recognize what great things PPS can do for us – get us movingahead, possibly open up Admirals Cut, help us create a park everyone will love – citizens, NOAA and the Eco Center, the USS Ingham, the powerboaters and sailors, Taste of Key West, the Westin,  residents of Truman Annex, and tourists.  They would also advise us on successful management structure for the park.

Go to www.pps.org and look at the people enjoying their parks, streets, waterfronts that PPS has inspired.  Look at what they have done for Detroit!

Projects for Public Spaces CAN GET US ON OTHE RIGHT PATH.  Help us develop the park we all envision and beyond.

I am hopeful TWAB and the City Commission will recognize our need for PPS.  To discuss Projects for Public Spaces or to see their April 2011 proposal for them to come to Key West and work with us, contact Christine Russell via the Blue Paper.

We get one shot and one shot only develop this last waterfront parcel for the people of Key West.  Are we on the right track?

PLEASE ATTEND THE TWAB MEETING TUESDAY Jan 21 5:30

A Word on Parking Lots

As the Truman Waterfront plans have progressed, one continuing community complaint is about all the asphalt, parking lots and traffic that will be encouraged through Bahama Village and Truman Annex.  People have long asked for a “green” park.  And no Commissioner Rossi that does not mean just grass, or astroturff and a couple park benches so the power boats have open range to roam.  It means a well thought out, creative park design with all the amenities.  Public transportation can make frequent stops at the park for the elderly and disabled.  Some parking can be provided for those needing to carry athletic equipment or items for events.

But let’s talk about PARKING LOTS

Finding a Place for Public Parking: Parking Spaces Usually Diminish Public Spaces –

But It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way.

by Ethan Kent.

Despite what you may have heard, nobody goes to a place solely because it has parking. In fact, the current obsession with parking is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving livable cities and towns, because it usually runs counter to what should be our paramount concern: creating places where people enjoy spending time. As long as the myth persists that economic prosperity depends on parking, local governments will continue to waste public money and distort the public planning process.”

“The realization that creating a place where people want to come and spend time is more important than parking unfortunately eludes many municipalities. Worrying about and wasting public money onparking is taking over the public planning process and subsequently parking is taking over our communities”. The hang-up on parking is an indicator that a community has no broader vision for itself”.  “Think of the most popular district in your region – places like downtown Cambridge, MA, or the French Quarter of New Orleans. Is it easy to park there? No way! But do people go? You bet! They’ll walk six blocks from their car to a store, and LIKE it! Which is to say that people don’t come to an area for the parking, they come for what’s distinct and special about that place. “  I would add they are going to SHOP as they WALK!

“Why should towns create excess parking spaces if all that asphalt detracts from the qualities that attracted people in the first place? Many communities that have parking shortages are actually thriving. When there appears to be a parking shortage, the most likely explanation is that people are simply not obeying parking laws. In the business district of Poughkeepsie, NY, PPS found that more than half the on-street parking was illegal.”

An added benefit to” reducing the supply of parking, is demand for mass transit goes up and new destinations form around transit stops.”

“Spending money on such public amenities instead of parking may seem radical, but in fact it is a wise investment. Pedestrians feel more comfortable walking because of the slower vehicle speeds and reduced number of curb cuts. Businesses get more passersby and first-time walk-ins. Drivers make fewer trips, waste less time in the car, get more exercise walking, and even enjoy the experience of driving downtown more — because it is a pleasant place to be, not a parking lot. “

“Consider the city of Copenhagen, which has instituted a policy to reduce parking by two percent each year. The risk has paid off many times over by the number of people who now walk and bike to the city center”.-

Let’s Stop the C.R.A.P.

Most people don’t like algebra and dreaded it in high school. It was difficult solving those equations and most students said we would never use algebra in real life. Well once again we have an equation that seems difficult to solve. The FKAA board was asked by the BOCC at the Dec. meeting to give it a number on  grinder pump vs. gravity system installation cost differencial, (x) so the BOCC would know how much less (x) to allocate for sewer spending (m)  resulting in lower costs (c). m-x=c. Yes, doing the algebra the answer is x=m-c, butt FKAA was unable at that time to come up with some numbers then. Meanwhile, it seems like a push is on to get as many homes as possible hooked up to those awful pumps, rather than have crews work on gravity systems where they are already approved.

X is an extreme variable. The county would initially save some money by installing a cheaper, inefficient, inferior system, butt it would be at the expense of the poor people required to have them. It is a higher financial burden to them with installation, maintenance, and probable replacement costs as these systems fail. Long term results would also be depreciation of house values of properties having these pumps because of those problems. Once word gets out among home-buyers about these problems, they will avoid buying them, resulting in lower prices for sellers having to have to sell their homes. While X is a savings to the County, it is a factor to be feared by all those required to have them installed.

FKAA members (who say publicly that they prefer gravity systems over grinder pumps) said they could not solve for X. Let’s stop trying to solve for X and forget the algebra that no one likes anyway. Let’s stop the awful grinder pumps that most people don’t like anyway. Let’s stop the C.R.A.P (Commissioners Requiring Awful Pumps) and get gravity for all. Let’s stop the Commissioners Requiring Awful Pumps before we have to Dump the C.R.A.P. in the next election.

Joe McKasty

Big Pine Key

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

Does the FKAA  have the authority to say no to the BOCC?  Could the FKAA Board have refused to install the cheaper inferior grinder pumps, because they preferred the better system of gravity for all?

Last month there was a gigantic Powerball prize jackpot. I was hoping I would win so I could give the FKAA the money they needed to get gravity for all, even with that amount approaching 50 million dollars. If I had won over 300 million, yes, I would have. I hoped and prayed to be tested.

Now, could the FKAA have said no to the BOCC requiring those awful grinder pumps, had I won and given them what they needed to get gravity for all? In that circumstance, I’m sure they could have and would have. I didn’t win, but I believe the FKAA could have said no in that hypothetical situation. Therefore, they could say no to the BOCC requirement of cheaper, awful grinder pump installations. They could say we will install gravity for all those that we can, with whatever monies you, the BOCC, allocate to us.

Having  funds reduced for this waste-water project and forcing the FKAA to install  awful, inferior, grinder pumps puts an undue hardship on a lot of home-owners that will have to pay high installation and maintenance costs. There’s also the probability of their homes depreciating in value because of grinder-pump hook-ups. Is saying no to the BOCC, something that the FKAA that could have done, butt would not do, when they should have? It’s a bad case of coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Joe McKasty

Big Pine Key

“One Human Family”?

Once again the City of Key West and the Key West PD have proven their hate and disdain for homeless.  The thing that stands out in my mind after the tragedy (murder?) of Charles Eimers is the statement made by the officer. “He was obviously another homeless bum living out of his car….”  I have personally witnessed the heavy handed attitude of the Key West PD on many occasions, whether at Higg’s Beach, Duval St, or Mallory Square.  It’s time for city officials and chief Donnie Lee to step up and live by “One Human Family”.  One can only hope some one on the police department will break the silence and lies and tell the truth about what happened.

Kurt Wagner

1999 Dodge Van

Key West

Marketing

canstockphoto3063612

One of the downsides of getting old, besides aches and pains and boring young people, is witnessing little changes only an older person notices. Whatever is going on in the moment has “always” been going on in the eyes of the young. The fact is they have no point of reference and are not responsible for succumbing to the sometimes subtle and other times not so subtle insinuative political/corporate propaganda of our daily lives. The only way to avoid this toxic nonsense would be to turn off your TV and computer, stop reading all corporate media (aka. media), stop going to the movies and take yourself to some remote mountain top and become a subsistence farmer. It’s never too late.

This deliberate manipulation is evident at the movies. I love movies. I love all aspects; the writing, acting, directing and editing all fascinate me, a true communal effort and a miracle of sorts when they are successful. When I go to the movie theater I arrive early because I want a good seat, but unfortunately that requires that I sit through a twenty minute audio/visual barrage of corporate crap telling me the answer to life can be found in some colorful sugar water product that can make me “fly” or I must watch some empty headed fluff on TV as soon as I get home and/or I should feel awful because soldiers are coming home horribly damaged from places they don’t belong and that our government abandons them to the charity of people going to see a movie on a Saturday afternoon. Does anyone else remember movie shorts and cartoons before the feature? Continue reading

Year-end Review: One Story Dominates All

canstockphoto3694851

At this time of year, publications run their year-end reviews ad nauseum. I use that word advisedly because what news writers and editors do is regurgitate the highlights and lowlights of the previous year. They do it primarily because it’s easy; trust me. I know because when I was an editor, I did it too.

And yet the stories that are chosen may not be the most important ones for our lives and those who follow us. I have only one story I’d like to highlight: our deteriorating climate and what we are or are not doing about it. While the local media may not cover it, the story is happening much faster than scientists thought it would and it’s happening right here. Right now.

Let’s start locally. I recorded over twice as much rain in Marathon as we have received in previous years. So far we have been soaked with more than 71 inches of rain versus the “normal” of 35. On June 1, 4.48 inches fell; on June 3, 5.8 inches. June is not normally a rainy month. On July 19, we got over 5 inches of rain. Still not the “rainy” season. That led to flooding, especially in Key West, and mosquitos.

As the climate warms, the atmosphere holds more water. Consequently, we get torrential rains and, in some places, very heavy snow. Conversely, some locations are suffering terrible drought. For the first time, drought made the top five-billion dollar disaster list. According to Weather Underground, the ongoing United States’ drought, which has been in progress all year, has caused $ 2.5 billion in damage. Continue reading

NEW YEAR

canstockphoto12308660

As we approach the beginning of the New Year, traditionally we reflect on the one that is about to end.  That is all well and good, but might we be better off to stop and reflect more often than once in a calendar year?  To more frequently stop and take the time to assess what we are about and why we do what we do.  I know it is much easier said than done, but daily reflective thought gives us a freedom from expectations and is a release from a poor choice or a wrong path. Rigidity has the opposite effect. Digging in our heels and refusing to admit our errors in judgment will cause us unnecessary pain and suffering.

The simple interjection, “oops”, should be uttered more often so to allow us that opportunity to change course without remorse. Why wait until a “New Year”? To paraphrase John Lennon’s lyrics, “Imagine there’s no judgment for changing your mind….” As new information comes to light, what made sense yesterday, may no longer make sense today.  This reminds me of the pot roast story. A daughter was watching her mother prepare a pot roast for the oven. The older woman cut off the ends of the roast before she placed it in the oven. The daughter asked, “Why did you cut the ends off?” The mother said, “Because that’s how my mother did it.” So the young woman went to ask her grandmother the same question and gran told her because that’s how her mother did it. So the young woman went to the ancient great grandmother and asked why. Great gran explained that years ago, when she and her husband were first married they had a very small oven…. Continue reading

Citizens Are Free To Arm Themselves–Servants Are Denied Such Right…

bill of rights

New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof published a recent column: “Killer Speaks Blunt Truth About Gun Control”. It’s a long winded piece of drivel, substantially devoid of the credible and analytically reasoned analysis that this topic deserves.

Mr. Kristof’s rant reaches epoch proportions, as he proffers the perspectives of a convicted murderer in support of his anti-gun agenda. The expert Mr. Kristof quotes is incarcerated in a maximum security prison for killing an acquaintance during a drug quarrel.

Mr. Kristof’s distortions and convoluted reasoning stands in the face of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Madison.

The horrifying lessons of history indicate that governments are capable of committing atrocities against their people. In every case these genocides began with gun-control.

Cognizant of government’s inherent tendency to fixate on grasping more power and control, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “It’s the right and duty of the people to be armed at all times”. Laws disarming honest citizens, declare that the government is the master, not the servant, of the people. Continue reading

GUEST EDITORIAL: Up in Smoke / Marijuana Use Rising Among American Teens

smoking pot

Not that it wasn’t predictable, but the federal government, fueled by new Monitoring the Future data collected by the University of Michigan on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is reporting a rise in the illicit use of marijuana among high school students.

Shocking.

Did we really believe the loosening of restrictions on marijuana sales, possession, and use – including those related to “medicinal marijuana” – were to have no effect on those we have worked so hard to protect from the ravages of substance use condition and disorder. Not so much.

In fact, the national SADD organization predicted as much when it rallied publicly against decriminalizing the possession of marijuana years ago, stating,

“Decriminalization would encourage increased use, including among teenagers.  Decriminalization also sends the message that marijuana is harmless, which is not the case.  The developing brains of teenagers are susceptible to negative changes as a result of drug and alcohol use, and these changes can be permanent.”

This statement foreshadowed much of the information just released from NIDA, including reference to the normalizing of use and detrimental impact on maturing adolescent brains.  Citing a new study by scientists at Northwestern University, NIDA director Dr. Nora D. Volkow, said,

“What is worrisome is that we’re seeing high levels of everyday use of marijuana among teenagers … the type that is most likely to have negative effects on brain function and performance.” Continue reading

Response To Dennis Cooper’s Recent Article: IS FORCING CITIZENS TO BUY HEALTH CARE INSURANCE THE AMERICAN WAY?

I hope Mr. Cooper will write an article saying that forcing Americans to buy automobile liability insurance should be illegal.

True, I can avoid such insurance by not driving, but the government has no right to force me to buy such insurance as a condition of driving.

From my experience working at the Florida Keys Memorial Hospital in the late ‘70s, I believe the following:  no, you should not HAVE to buy insurance, but then, by law, you get NO medical treatment of any kind, no matter what the emergency, except provided by Good Samaritans.

It sickened me that Monroe County taxpayers had to pay for people with no insurance.  One poor, indigent woman cost the FKMH $300,000 a year keeping her alive in a quadriplegic state!  With no insurance pool behind her, she should have been put out in the parking lot to die.

Cruel?  Well, the alternative is taxing people who never knew her, FORCING them to pay for her care.

Kinda like the Affordable Care Act.

Herbert Walker
Muncie, Indiana

Serpentine Leadership Maintains Status Quo–World Counterparts Thrive

It’s unfortunate that some employed by our school district aren’t measuring up to the enormous responsibility that has been entrusted to them. It’s frightening that the fate of our nation rests in their hands.

Placing flawed, corrupted and incompetent individuals with our students is a staffing practice enjoyed by too many school systems. Cronyism and politics are formulated into determining the fate of these children.

Duplicity appears to be a valued pre-requisite when selecting a principal. A school rotten at the top discharges a toxic venom that cascades downward infecting all. I’ve read “SACS” accreditation findings that used similar language when describing a principal at one of our schools.

Ineffective leadership and instruction leads to discipline problems. Kids know you love them, when through your extraordinary effort a spectacular classroom experience is created, which challenges, excites and titillates their imaginations. Once bonded, these children will follow their teacher to hell and back. Appreciative students are cooperative allies. Continue reading

GUN LOVE

canstockphoto11345118

Here we go again, thirteen more victims of a deranged killer with a gun. I don’t care anymore! Why should any of us care? It seems to be a popular American past time, like football or NASCAR.  Why all the righteous and fevered outrage every single time this happens? We never do a thing about it, every single time! The only effect these mass murders seem to have is gun sales go up after these all too common events because gun “enthusiasts” are terrified the government is going to confiscate their guns. That will never ever happen. Never. 

 The NRA and the gun manufacturers lie to their followers about the threat by the U.S. government to their second amendment rights to own and bear firearms. Their only solution to gun death is more guns. Mass murder with guns is good for business. After Sandy Hook and twenty babies being literally shot into pieces, gun sales went through the roof. What a testimony to America, mom, apple pie and democracy.

I really can’t afford to care anymore. I can’t keep investing my emotional capital into this black hole of the black heart of America. It is literally making me sick. Congress, you disgust me. This self induced impotency of government is indicative of so much that has gone wrong with us. From main streaming mental patients and closing government run mental institutions to “save money” to the NRA going from a gun safety and hunting education organization to one of the largest most powerful lobbying groups for gun manufacturers to promote gun sales.

We have literally sold our souls to the devil in the form of repeatedly electing him to office. Nothing is ever going to change if we don’t. So I already don’t care about the next mass murder. I just hope it’s not you or me or our children, but it will happen again and again and again.

I wrote this back in September after the Washington DC Shipyard shooting spree where thirteen people were gunned down by yet another deranged psycho killer. Continue reading

Simonton Street Trailer Park: News From A Former Resident

Issue 12 Simonton Trailer

I’m here in Panama City Beach. Joe Cleghorn caused me to leave my whole life behind. I scoured Key West, and found nothing that wasn’t a joke, rent wise and space wise. One “studio” I found, on United Street, was a room in an old house that had been broken up into apartments. The ‘studio” was a small room about the size of a large walk in closet. It had an old sink, refrigerator, combination thing that looked like it was from the 70′s or 80′s, that actually had a range on top. That was it. No cabinets, or anything. It also had a small utilitarian bathroom attached. Very small. It was renting for 850.00 per month, plus utilities extra. I looked all over:  Grassy Key, Big Pine Key, Islamorada, Marathon. Basically the same story. Rip Off, and then some. So, I went where the living is still reasonable.

I finally was able to get hold of Karen DeMaria at the Tree Commission. She picked up the phone one day around lunchtime, last week. (I think everyone must have been “out to lunch”). Anyway, I asked her in a polite manner what she had planned for the trees at Southernmost Cabana Trailer Resort…..      Are you ready? She said “because of the water damage caused by Wilma, the independent surveyors, (not paid by her, or Joe Cleghorn, in other words, so who paid them?) found extensive rot inside the trees. So, they looked fine from the outside, they were going thru their natural leaf cycles, all was good. BUT, according to her, the appraiser went up into the trees, (I lived there, I never saw one person up in a tree. Neither did anyone else who lived there. Everyone saw everything, trust me, but no men in trees) and looked down and saw rot inside the trunks of the trees. Not just in one tree, but EVERY SINGLE TREE. Now, according to her, they pose a safety hazard, so they have to be removed, and she is sorry about that, she said, very matter-of-factly. I brought up the idea that perhaps the surveyor MIGHT be on Cleghorn’s or someone related’s payroll, but of course, she said that IS NOT the case. I still would like to know who paid the guy in the tree that no one ever saw?

Rita Whalen

Panama City Beach

GREEN Reactor: The GREEN MILE-stones

As we reach the end of 2013, let’s do the “milestones” thing:GREEN Reactor

  • This is my 20th new GREEN Reactor column in The Blue Paper.
  • It’s also my 70th newspaper column or article (most of which involve GREEN issues) published continuously over the last few years in papers here in Key West.
  • A few weeks ago marked a year of daily postings to my Facebook GREEN Reactor page.
  • In a few weeks it’ll be a year since I stepped away from 5 years on the board of Last Stand.
  • In a few months I’ll reach 5 years as a charter member of the City’s Sustainability Advisory Board.

There are many who expend much more GREEN energy than I do (e.g., these people) but we all do what we can to work toward improving the planet and our quality of life.  I happen to be more out-front about my activities (what with being such a blow-hard in print) but I always try to give credit to those whose efforts get less fanfare.  Continue reading

Key West’s More “Colorful” Side Spotlighted on FOX NEWS: THE O’REILLY SHOW [WATTER'S WORLD]

Oreilly photo

Click on the photo to link to the FOX website and view the video

 

COMMENTARY:  Commissioner Tony Yaniz had this to say [on his Facebook Page] about the recent Fox News “Watters’ World: Key West Edition”:

“Of course we are all up un arms over the FOX-O’Reilly-Watters segment, but as has been posted and stated by countless sources in our island, the report was classic “Yellow Journalism” Do you think FOX was interested in showing that we are small-town-apple-pie-USA, a great place to raise your kids? No way! That kind of “news” doesn’t sell papers, euphemistically speaking! But at the end of the day we know what we are and who we are….and we love our community! My Dad used to say “Lo dice quien?” Says who! So I say, I’m glad that O’Reilly and his ilk view us that way, it means they won’t come here and we don’t want them anyways! Good riddance! Having said that, here’s an inconvenient truth we need to consider: many of our tourists see exactly what was in that report! That’s right! Unfortunately they don’t get to see our great community: our High School football games and the way we come together as a caring loving city! So, I say, we need to get a grip on this outrageous drunken behavior. I know that our KWPD does an outstanding job, and I have fought every year to increase their budget, but the solution lies in building a tent and toilet shelter outside the city limits and then cracking down upon public drunkenness and aggressive panhandling and working with the courts to put repeat offenders in prison! And while I’m on the soapbox the TDC and the Lodging Association don’t agree with me that we should use excess bedtax monies to provide more police, firefighter presence and more city crews to keep the city clean. Obviously, what they don’t get is that regardless of how many beautiful commercials are aired, once a tourist visits and has to deal with what was portrayed in that FOX report , they won’t come back, and they will tell their friends to stay away! You say?  [follow link to comment] Continue reading

Nothing Changes—If Nothing Changes

The cultural decline and vacuum confronting our children has been filled by a plethora of entertainment whose technological emphasis is on violence. Internet games and videos have seductively taken the minds of these very young and impressionable kids to a place where some find joy, comfort and excitement when they are able to rapidly kill the characters set before them on their video screens.

Their skills are sharpened as they progress towards the upward realms of each challenge. Upon maxing out their ‘confirmed kills’ on one level, they promptly move to their next murderous challenge. These mindless scenarios are continuing to play themselves out in epidemic proportions.

The emotional, spiritual and physical decline of our children is a clear and present reality that is playing itself in our educational system. At present, our students rank behind Vietnam, Lithuania and Hungry. Continue reading

Brotherly Love

 boys silhouettes

All I need to do, if I want to know what is going on inside the mind of a right wing ultra-conservative is ask my brother his thoughts and presto, he enlightens me. Jim is my only sibling and over the years we have had many seriously heated debates on topics, ranging from the invasion of Iraq (“war to find WMDs/rid Iraq of Saddam/spread democracy/whatever…”) to the Deepwater Horizon oil well blow-out (“caused by environmentalists”, according to Jim) As you can imagine, Thanksgiving dinners with our parents and later our children and our parents were lively, to say the least. A steady diet of daily FOX News watching has made normal conversation impossible with the old boy. As we have aged we have come to the conclusion that if we are to have any relationship at all we need to stow the political debate and stick to “safe” topics like the kids or books and movies. Continue reading

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE PRESERVATION DEBATE: LET’S BE REASONABLE

~

“HARC REQUIRES GLASS JALOUSIE WINDOWS IN NEW TOWN”

“Previous renovator of 1960 house had installed double-pane, hurricane-rated awning windows”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you be incensed if you saw the above headline in the paper? Now that most of New Town is more than 50 years old and eligible for nomination as an historic district, consider this: requiring installation of glass jalousies would be the logical extension of HARC’s current interpretation of guidelines regarding windows.

Although many mid-Century houses in New Town may have originally sported glass jalousies, it was apparent to all that they are neither energy-efficient nor particularly secure or water-tight. Many have opted for replacements that may have aesthetically suited the style of the house but offered the benefits of current-day technologies.

If that sounds reasonable, let’s try this: Continue reading

JESUS WAS A LIBERAL

 canstockphoto12222352

Now that our national holiday of Thanksgiving has passed immediately followed by the new tradition of battling our fellow Americans in big box stores for even more stuff to be thankful for, we are coming up fast on the mother of all holidays: Christmas! That magical time of year where we wish each other “peace on earth and goodwill towards men”, and women, please… Where the lights that have been stored all year come out and the trees get trimmed with tinsel and ornaments, Christmas cards are mailed, shopping lists are checked off and Christmas music is playing everywhere.

Another new tradition has been introduced to the holiday season.  Every year around this time conservative talking heads, right wing political celebs and practically anyone that needs a fix of gratuitous press coverage trots out the baseless non-issue issue of the un-American and godless “WAR ON CHRISTMAS!” Magazine articles and books have been written on it, FOX News sells a lot of cars and drugs yakking about it and it’s given mediocre pols a platform to increase their stature amongst the illiterati.

As much as it pains me to give any coverage to the half-term-governor-attention- junkie, Sarah Palin, she is a frequent flier on this topic and Continue reading

Guest Editorial: FIRM Applauds HARC’s Commitment to Compromise

On December 4, 2013, FIRM and HARC held a public workshop to explore FIRM’s proposal to loosen HARC Guidelines to allow for the voluntary use of storm grade reproduction windows, when replacement is necessary, by homeowners who wish to secure valuable windstorm insurance mitigation credits, conserve energy, and keep in step with Key West’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plans which promote both energy and infrastructure sustainability.

Extensive information was brought to the table by both FIRM and the HARC Commissioners, as well as by members of the public. Both sides of the issue were presented fully and passionately, and interactive educational discussions took place ranging from detailed engineering to the more human aspects of pure preservationism.

The real gem for the people of Key West, however, was HARC Chairman Rudy Molinet’s commitment Continue reading