A Tale of Two Grand Juries

I can’t help but draw a parallel between Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a law officer in Ferguson, MO and the death of Charles Eimers at the hands of law enforcement in Key West, FL. Michael and Charles belonged to two different demographics, yet both are demonized and profiled by law enforcement. Michael’s profile was that of young black male “thug” and Charles’ profile was that of “homeless”. As evidenced by video from around the entire country I see a common and not-so-subtle shift in perception of these two groups and their treatment by civilian police. Continue reading

“Don’t Shoot Me, Bro!”

Dear Naja,

This is in response to last week’s article on the public memorial service for Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving night at South Beach. The service was appropriate and reflective of Key West’s philosophy of “One Human Family”. I’m sure his family appreciated our gesture.

Regarding the tangential issue of police brutality which is associated with Eimer’s untimely demise, I came up with an idea that could identify like-minded citizens on their commitment toward anti-violence.

There could be a new, viral “solidarity gesture” among American citizens who oppose over-zealous authority figures, especially practitioners of brutality. Whenever like-minded friends meet in public they can raise their hands in a gesture of surrender and say: “Don’t shoot, Bro.” to each other. Or, if you’re really good friends say: “Don’t tase me, Bro.” Continue reading

I CAN’T BREATHE!

Dear Editor:

The shocking lack of an indictment in the NYC case of Eric Garner’s death at the hands of the NYPD saddened and sickened me. As the son of an NYPD detective and the recipient of an NYPD Holy Name Society scholarship to high school, I have always defended the professionalism of the NYPD. This miscarriage of justice underscores a number of deeply seated problems that, as we all know, are as much of a problem here in Key West as they are in NYC. It should be pointed out that there is still an ongoing internal NYPD investigation and more importantly, a pending Justice Department inquiry which many expect will lead to a trial. When unarmed people die at the hands of police officers, independent investigations should be mandatory. One can only hope that the Federal investigation and likely prosecution in NYC will enbolden the Eimers family and the Federal Government to do the same thing here.

Enough is enough. Local grand juries, disappearing evidence, eyewiness accounts that go ignored, “the Blue Wall of silence” and self-serving media trying to protect local images, have all got to go. If the only thing that can set all this right is the embarassing spectacle of the the Federal Government censuring local “authorities,” in another Bubba Trial, then “bring it on.” This isn’t about discos, and cocaine, and mistresses, and partying. This is about accountability for an armed force we pay to “protect and serve” and dare I say it…”liberty and justice for all.”

Bud Navero

An Open letter and Prayer for Charles Eimers and His Family

Dear Charles,

A year ago today you came to our little island city. I did not know you personally, but like many of us, you dreamed of living in a tropical paradise…To wear flip-flops and T-shirts in January, soak up the sun on a beach and maybe even make friends back home in the north a little bit jealous. Many of us happy, long time citizens of Key West got here just like you; alone, with not much money, but a dream that we could carve out a little piece of paradise for ourselves and live among Key West’s “One Human Family”.

We are here tonight trying to make sense of your tragic passing on this beach where you might have wiggled your toes in the sand instead of losing your life in it. Many of us are confused and angered by this senseless loss of life, but we didn’t gather here tonight to express anger. We are called here by the much stronger principle of love. Love is the common thread that weaves through us all. Without love; family, friends and community could not exist. Every spiritual leader and prophet throughout history has love at the center of their tenets. Martin Luther King tells us, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. (and) Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” So tonight we are driving out the darkness with the light of candles and driving out the hate with our love for you and your family. Continue reading

Cost of Living in Key West vs. Salary

Dear Editor,

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is currently advertising for a “Child Protective Investigator” in Key West. The salary range is $ 39,600.00 under the “Other Personnel Services” (OPS) status of no benefits except health insurance. All non-Key West applicants should be aware of the October 31, 2014 Key West Citizen newspaper report that stated Nicole Mayo a planner with the City of Key West resigned declaring, “I can’t afford to live here anymore on my salary.” Mayo’s resigning salary was $ 44,402 after six years of employment.

How can the DCF “leadership” attempt to hire a qualified person knowing the high economic requirements of Key West? Why burden a CPI with the stress of “just getting by” when doing one of the most important jobs in Key West?

Ironically, it was last year that a Miami-Dade DCF CPI supervisor was caught substitute teaching 50 days within eight months during his paid DCF 50 work days.

Unlike most Key West jobs the CPI can’t receive tips.

Mike Sawyer

Denver, CO

GUEST EDITORIAL: The Real Story Behind the Resistance to Deep Well Wastewater Disposal

whistle blow

As a member of Dump the Pumps and worrying that the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System [CRWS] is deeply flawed, I have been privy to documents and people associated with the group and some people you might want to call “whistleblowers” who are FKAA employees or contractors. Here’s some of what I have gleaned from these sources:

~~Harry Powel

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

The Cudjoe Regional Wastewater treatment plant currently under construction at the Cudjoe landfill has been challenged for its intended use of shallow injection wells for effluent disposal​. There are a couple of property owner associations that fund the Dig Deep Cudjoe group that was formed to fight for deep well disposal of the partially treated wastewater​. Rumor suggests that they may believe that FKAA is looking for a way to say to the County, “The science says we need a deep well.” Hence their optimism arising from FKAA’s offer to do a baseline study and 5 year monitoring near the Cudjoe treatment plant. That way ​FKAA can save face and begin deep well design and construction as if they are being environmentally responsible. Ha!

The motives and agenda of FKAA may be very different than what the POAs imagine. There may be still more trickery and deceit involved, as many have come to expect from FKAA.​ Consider the following…​ Continue reading

Love

The normal randomness and chaos of everyday life sometimes catches me off guard. To even attempt to make sense of tragedy feels like a form of arrogance. Acceptance is the desired goal when facing the unimaginable, but it’s the process that is hellish. Having children opens up new worlds of bitter-sweet life experience and a portion of our little universe was cracked open and its axis made wobbly by the death of a beautiful young man from our community. His spirit of joie de vivre and sense of humor were his trade marks and death could not have been further from the mind.

His parents are two of the most loving and intelligent people I know and their love for their son and his sister is boundless. They have built a life full of solid friendships and sense of community and are now surrounded by the love they have generated. Their strength astounds me. Continue reading

My Heart Will Be There For All Of You And The Eimers Family

Thanks as always for your great reporting! The Eimers case is still such a sad thing to read about. Such a senseless death at the hands of the KWPD. And to learn the cops deleted a tourist’s video of the murder – no other way to describe it from this layman’s point of view – is very upsetting. I believe the sooner Donie Lee fires the responsible cops, the better. Having known him when I lived there, it is still difficult for me to wrap my head around his condoning this kind of behavior from his officers, and if he doesn’t do something about it, then maybe I have been wrong about him all these years and the city commission should step in and get a new police chief. I hope it doesn’t come to that, because I still want to believe he’s one of the good guys. I hope one day the Eimers family will receive some kind of justice for their father, who only wanted to experience paradise now that he was free to visit Key West. He experienced paradise, all right, and was sent directly to Heaven! I hope you all have the Thanksgiving night candlelight service. I will be unable to drive down for it, but know that my heart will be there with all of you and the Eimers family.

God bless,

Peggy Butler

Walking On Egg Shells…

Dear Editor:

This is my response to the feature story (Nov. 7)  “Charles Eimers Update: Police, Death, and Missing Videotapes” by Arnaud and Naja Girard.

After a cursory reading I’m rather out of breath – such an astonishing codification of events surrounding Key West’s most sickening incident of police violence, which has received national media attention.

After a second scanning I am left with a sense of thankfulness that (1) we have a citizen-authors concerned enough to research and articulate the topic, and that (2) we have a publisher who is willing to challenge Key West’s power base. Without this combo we’re at the mercy of the same sinister and corrupt government styles that thrive in all apathetic societies.  Thank goodness for our First Amendment guarantees of free speech and a free press. Continue reading

For Everything There Is A Season

Dear Editor:

While this is my response to Alex Symington’s Nov. 7 column entitled “Big Picture, Small Pond”, I must say the opening of his first sentence arrested me:  “When I write, my inclination is to focus on national or global big picture issues…”  Well, this so triggered my imagination, that I’m only impelled to address our national and/or global “big picture”.

Robinson Jeffers, Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, America’s most prophetic poets, all advocate a cyclic world-view: birth, growth, death, decay and rebirth. These cycles happen generationally, seasonally or on a daily basis – if one believes in microcosms… and, I do.

So, why don’t we realize this cyclic reality on a political level?  Why did Thomas Jefferson say in so many word that there should be a revolution in government every 20 years?  That’s a cycle to be sure. Continue reading

In response to a Sept. 5 column by Alex Symington, “Just Sayin”

Alex,

I’m concerned about your recent take on the problems of the world.  [“Just Sayin”, Sept 5, 2014] While you concentrate — this time — on the general inequality of all humans, I’d like to point out that’s only a surface issue.

The real problem, it seems to me, is  with people’s predisposition to “me-firstism” and greed, which have and alway will trump all the sad human endeavors on earth, which masquerade as civilization. Maybe that’s why Halloween is so popular — we get a chance to pretend we’re better than we are.

Unbridled egoism and greed has been the bane of our human existence since pre-historic myths to contemporary politics of marginalizing and slaughtering people who impede our lust for self-gratification.  That’s why all the advocates of love, mutuality, and sharing have been executed: it violates the intrinsic, hereditary predisposition toward survival, which is encoded as domination for wealth and power.  All attempts at altering the human condition have failed.  Maybe genetics can remove our greed gene?

No amount of editorial or philosophical speculation can alter that fact.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em is the mantra of the self-interested optimists on this planet. Nevertheless, I cast my early voters ballot for the lesser of two evils.

Sincerely,

John N. Gish Jr.

Key West

Concerns For Keys Foster Children

Dear Editor,

The Monroe County Jail Website reported that a 49-year-old male was arrested for two felonies of “Battery or Domestic battery by strangulation, and Kidnap-False Imprisonment – Adult” at 1621 Spalding Court, Key West on November 4, 2014. This male has a multi-Monroe County arrest record.

Most caring Floridians wouldn’t know that under this four-apartment-Spalding-Court roof are 14-licensed-beds for foster children by the Department of Children and Families.

When will DCF remove this institutional foster children’s license that is surrounded by homeless male adults that many are transitioning out of jail and the 38-bed living facility for homeless adults living with serious mental illness?

Mike Sawyer

Master of Divinity

B.S., Social Science

Denver, CO 80221

References– Continue reading

TUNATOONS: ISLAND OF BONES – PART FOURTEEN [THE END]

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 FOURTEEN of Island of Bones Series…  Continue reading

GUEST EDITORIAL: The Key West Height Referendum

Teri-Johnston

This legislation is a proactive measure to protect our homes against flood waters.  Today, 85% of the City of Key West is in the regulated floodplain.  The majority of New Town and Mid Town homes are 2-3’ below floodplain.  Although a section of Old Town is in the  X- zone, over 50% of all Old Town properties lie 1-3’ below flood.  We collectively pay over $ 11,800,000 in annual flood premiums paid by 7,792 Key West flood policy holders.

Passage of this referendum provides an opportunity for a homeowner currently at or below flood to raise their home a maximum of 4’ out of the floodplain.  This will not create “high rises” in Key West and is certainly not a “developers dream”.  This is not an opportunity to build more floors on current homes; it is an opportunity to raise your current floor joist system out of flood waters.  The 40’ cap was instituted to assure that we maintain our height characteristics.   Homes in the HARC district must obtain HARC approval to raise their “below base flood elevation” homes.  This adds another level of scrutiny assuring that the historic district will maintain our unique and historic character and property values.

I will tell you what changes the character of a Community however!  It is losing over 500 Key West families during the 2 years post-Wilma.  It is families who no longer qualify for mortgages. Continue reading