Mosquito thumbnail

How do you know if you are getting value from a public utility or taxing district that is not regulated by a Public Service Commission?  Over the last few years that question has been asked by many regarding the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD).  The answer has always been that the FKMCD is the most advanced, effective and admired agency of its kind in the US!  The Management and some Board members have worked hard to convince us that they are both operationally and cost effective in performing their function.  It is generally difficult to prove that this is not the case; however, recently the free market has demonstrated just how expensive our service in the Florida Keys really is.  Continue reading

Incredulous! Is This The Same Pablo Rodriguez?


I was incredulous when I saw the photo of Key West Police Chief Donnie Lee smiling and shaking hands with Sgt. Pablo Rodriguez, honoring Rodriguez for his fifteen years of service. Is this the same Pablo Rodriguez involved in the Charles Eimers case? Is this the same Pablo Rodriguez video recorded enthusiastically assisting fellow officer Mark Siracuse in the illegal public anal cavity search of Glenn Hanes in Bahama Village? Is this the same Pablo Rodriguez that cost the tax payers of Key West $ 287,500 in an out-of-court settlement for intimidating a fellow officer that refused to destroy video evidence of Officer Rodriguez intentionally driving his cruiser into a suspect on a bicycle?

There seems to be a lot of damage control “honoring” by Chief Lee lately. Credibility of and faith in the KWPD is rapidly diminishing and that is tragic for a community that calls itself one human family.

Alex Symington  

Key West

Speaking For Monroe County’s Most Vulnerable Kids

Dear Editor,

The Key West Golf Course community of 350 members is screaming to the City of KW that they will do whatever it takes to stop the possible construction of a nearby homeless shelter. In a published letter the KWGC expressed that it would be reckless and dangerous to create the shelter near their KWGC residential community, a grade school, a college, hospital, senior residential home, and businesses. (An open letter to Mayor Cates and City of KW Commissioners—The Blue Paper )

Now, I want to speak for those in KW without voices that have been placed in a “reckless and dangerous” place for years. From 2008 to 2013, my wife and I were house parents for the two Department of Children and Families’ licensed foster homes in the Poinciana apartments of Key West that are sandwiched directly between two institutions for homeless adults. (See children shelters address @ 1621 Spalding Court, Key West, FL ) Continue reading

A Challenge to Both Mr. Garcia and Mr. Curbelo…

To the Editor,

[Response to "Garcia, Curbelo Trade Insults Again" Key West Citizen, September 30, 2014 p1a]

Conspiracy of silence

At Monday’s Hometown pac political forum at FKCC Key West Citizen publisher and panelist Mr. Paul Clarin made the statement about halfway through the rehashed candidate questions that: “This is like Groundhog Day” (the movie). Ironically, Phil (the protagonist in the movie) was a weatherman caught in a time loop who gets to keep repeating the same sequence of events on Groundhog Day over and over – known only to him. Phil may represent the new American Dream – becoming an “insider.” Continue reading

MOSQUITO CONTROL: In Response to FKMC Chairman Stephen Smith’s Editorial

The editorial by Stephen Smith, Commissioner, Chairman, Florida Keys Mosquito Control, was a fascinating read, and it was a perfect example of why we so desperately need term limits for all elected officials.   Mr. Smith, who has been a FKMC board member for 18 years missed the mark. He seems to forget that FKMCB has not only a duty to protect us from mosquitos, but it also is a steward of our tax dollars.

First, his mention of his 18 years on the Board was intended to lend gravitas to his opinion. Apparently Mr. Smith wants you to forget the corruption and the waste that plagued the Board during the first 15 years of his tenure. He would have you forget the egregious salaries and benefits collected by the Board during his tenure.  He would have you forget or ignore the criminality of certain staff members during his tenure and his full throated defense of at least one of those staff members. Continue reading

Anti-Smoking Campaign Doesn’t Make Sense

Dear Editor,

There seems to be something funny going on. The BOCC’s latest anti-smoking campaign doesn’t make sense to me. They claim that smoking causes 700+ sick days taken by county employees. How does smoking cause one to take a sick day? Also, although they keep ignoring this point, I’d bet that HANGOVERS take FAR more sick days than smoking cigarettes. Even the daily paper has edited that part of my citizen’s voice comment. This seems like a real legal quagmire that a few (or one) fanatic is really pushing this hard! Meanwhile, many very old issues are being ignored or back-shelved yet again. What is your take on this? Could it be a mere distraction while something else is going on?

John K Thomas

Key West, Florida

An Open Letter to Mayor Cates and City of Key West Commissioners

Mayor Cates and Commissioners:

As members of the Key West Golf Course community, we want to express our extreme displeasure with the recent news that the City of Key West may proceed forward with construction of a homeless shelter at the Easter Seals location on College Road.

On August 17, 2014, on behalf of our more than 350 homeowners, the Key West Golf Club Homeowners Association (KWGC HOA) Board of Directors has passed a resolution to oppose the placement of a homeless facility at the Easter Seals location and to pursue litigation options in this matter. 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,” )

Master of Divinity

B.S., Social Science

Denver, Colorado

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

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,” )

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

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

An Open Letter To Ron Martin and Andy Griffiths


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…


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…


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


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

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



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


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

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


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


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

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.


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

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


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


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

To All Criminal Vehicle Lodgers In Key West


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

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.


Jessie Davis

Key Largo

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


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

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




“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

Rowell’s Marina Purchase: A Brilliant Move

To the Editor:

The Monroe County Commission’s decision to purchase Rowell’s Marina is a brilliant move that will benefit and reward its citizens in perpetuity.

Our county commission, county manager and local residents worked long and hard for many years to secure this procurement. It was well researched and investigated. What a novel idea, government working in concert with the governed to obtain an objective that will add to the quality of everyone’s life.

Businesses, residents and tourists will thrive at this prime location. Revenue will flow into our coiffeurs, as taxpayers experience the relief that this purchase will provide to them.

It’s unfortunate that Commissioner Danny Kohlage was blinded by the obtuse and myopic vision of an exquisite acquisition that all will benefit from. The negativity of those unable to see the value of this jewel, stems from them wanting to get a hand out to pay for their sewer connections. Unfortunately, that issue is water under the bridge, as that ship has left. The time to address the government’s unfunded sewer mandate occurred many years ago. It appears that they were sold out by previous elected officials who were unable to protect and serve them.

Except for Commissioner Kohlage, this has not been the case with our county commissioners. Every step of the way, along with the county manager, they gave leadership, guidance and counsel as they navigated a course to our goal. Fail-safe methods were incorporated in this process to insure that there will not be any buyer’s remorse.

It’s an extraordinary purchase for the people of Monroe County.  The courage, tenacity and wisdom of those county commissioners who voted in favor of this procurement are applauded. Thank you for your intelligent and trusted leadership.


Jessie Davis

Key Largo

Employee Housing or Workcamp?

Hello Dear Editors,

Got to admit that you have outdone yourselves with the Simonton trailer park coverage. Wow ! How many nails did you guys pound in one big Board  (pun intended) with that one. Just amazing and it read like a novel and given more space, like say 350 pages, it would be a best seller. It cast a doubt about whether there are any honest public officials or high ranking figures left in the world anymore; very debatable.  From what I’ve seen over the years, regarding all matters of governmental action, there is almost always some form of corruption ensuing, most likely I believe because all of the players want to pocket most of their time in office and play nice with big money and their influences, to later obtain opportunity and support from them.

Ok I am not a specialist, but I found a point in your articles that I’d like to chime in on a tidbit:  The subject of affordable housing and the fate of the working class – mostly people working for low wages in the hospitality industry in the Keys.  You might already know this, but some of the various hotels, mostly the chains, have found a solution to this problem already. Continue reading

The Fat Lady Sang Today!

November 20, 2013

I am sitting here with a glass of scotch and about to go to Square Grouper for dinner to celebrate the final approval of the InterLocal Agreement to reduce 1,152 grinder pumps from the system.  It took a great effort from a lot of people in all areas of the Lower Keys, but we prevailed.  I know there are still residents who think they are still being treated unfairly, but this was still a big win, and not just for us.  I think we were able to prevail against the proverbial “City Hall”, despite warnings that we were wasting our time.

Tomorrow, I will be filing papers with the Court to drop the injunction law suit and to drop out of the bond validation hearings. My son gets married in Key West next week and I look forward to spending time with my family.  However, I will not be bored for long.  I am in the process of writing a comprehensive, interactive book on energy supply in the US.  I have been doing research for over a year and expect it will take about six to eight months to complete.

Also, Sir Isaac Newton is not resting just yet.  We will be pushing our State Senator, Dwight Bullard to join Holly Raschein, our State Representative to pass a bill making the FKAA BOD elected.  We will need to present logical, but forceful arguments to both the legislature and the governor to make this happen.  It will soon be time for thinking strategy and tactics.

Finally, I think there are two spots on the FKAA BOD that are open this January.  We need to push the Governor to select independent, well qualified candidates.

Thanks for everything.

Walt Drabinski

Sir Isaac Newton Coalition

Next Steps on Climate Change: Infrastructure Adaptation

Monroe County Commissioners will soon make some bell weather decisions that signal their approach to climate change. The County has joined compacts, attended conferences, hired sustainability coordinators, established committees, and developed plans which embark on the “process.” Eventually, the process moves from planning to action.

Action includes mitigation (reducing the causes of climate change) and adaptation (preparation for the effects). Mitigation efforts began years ago by obtaining grants to purchase hybrid cars, replace light bulbs, retrofit old buildings and replace air conditioning systems. These popular projects reduce ongoing expense and use “other people’s money,” for funding. The county will soon decide if it wants to further reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by ending the practice of burning Monroe County’s yard waste. This may cost a couple of bucks thus not be as popular. However, if atmospheric carbon dioxide is accelerating global warming, then our low elevation county will soon have the opportunity to end a major portion of its contribution.

Unlike mitigation which often yields immediate pay back, adaptation can be expensive and has a longer return on investment. The next step for adaptation in the Keys is openly discussing the possible effects of sea level rise. We don’t know when it will happen or exactly how much we will see, but we can determine where it will first occur. Initially an annoyance to those who realize the damage salt water does to vehicles; deeper puddles will begin to alter travel plans. Not convinced sea level will rise? Then think about adaptation as preparation for hurricane storm surge.

As the umbrella governing entity, Monroe County will soon decide if they want to take the next “adaptation step” by providing a forum for all municipalities and business leaders to identify the parts of their infrastructure that should be evaluated for exposure to sea level rise and the long term cost of doing nothing verses the expense of adaptation.

Will you please take a look at this month’s high tides, think about how you feel about climate change and let county commissioners know how you would like them to proceed? Thanks!

Bill Hunter

Sugarloaf Key

One Answer To “Where do Tourists ‘Go’?”

One answer to “Where do Tourists ‘Go’?” [Issue # 31, Article by Michael Welber]:

During a recent stay in California I found (to my relief at the time) that the city of Santa Cruz has come up with a simple solution to providing public bathroom facilities in its lovely downtown business district.  It has contracted with three strategically located local businesses — a coffee shop, a bookstore and a pizzeria — to make their bathrooms available to the general public and not just to paying customers.  The businesses post a “Public Restrooms” sign out front and are indicated on the maps available to city visitors.  In return, the city pays the businesses a monthly stipend to cover maintenance costs.

This might prove beneficial for businesses like many of those in Key West which are close to Duval St. but slightly off the beaten track on one of the less-visited side streets.

Frank Kabela

Key West

Subsidized Flood Insurance Rates Are Disappearing! Action Required!

I appreciate the Blue Paper’s article on the flood insurance crisis and panel discussion. The effects of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act passed by our “do nothing” Congress is sure going to do “do something” to our community. The result is the worst kind of social engineering that is endangering our way of life here in the Keys right now. Subsidized flood insurance rates are disappearing and as a result astronomical flood insurance rate increases have just begun to hit home.

Its going to be a complicated matter to do anything about however. There is a reason the law actually passed our Congress. Conservatives wanted it because it purports to keep taxes lower by removing government subsidized rates and making those with the greatest likelihood to need flood insurance pay through the nose for it.  The liberal/conservationists like it because it acknowledges that climate change and rising sea levels are in fact occurring and therefore we must start abandoning expensive coastal property. Continue reading

Washington: We Need More Teams In The Game

How many of us would sit down to Sunday night football if there were only two teams and they only ever played each other?

Isn’t that exactly what we’ve been watching in Washington?

When Nader was campaigning for President the D’s and R’s were bonded in their mission to keep him out of the limelight and debates. Nader wanted to ask questions they didn’t rehearse.  They liked the fight with each other, knew how each other played the game because they made the rules, set the boundaries, shared lobbyists, knew how to get the money and keep the power just between them.

And despite the fact the Greens had a clear written platform and their candidate had potential to steer change toward the greater good, when the vote was being made Greens were shunned into voting for Democrats who still blame Ralph and his followers for Bush.

Neither team wants anyone else to play ball.

Perhaps the Republicans were right to embrace the Tea’s instead of allowing them to be another 3rd and unimportant party pulling votes from ‘their side’. Besides, they were mutually focused on the distractions and divisiveness of abortion and making ‘liberal’ a dirty word.

And now that the Tea party and their billionaire corporate backers seem to be controlling the Republican party, and voting districts have been gerrymandered to their liking, that embrace is somewhat backfiring, isn’t it?

Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 split the Republican party and created the Progressive party which had a platform including the women’s right to vote, strict limits and disclosure of campaign contributions and the 8 hour work day.

I long ago dropped my support of either of our present teams and became an Independent. But in my heart I am a GLIP; a Green, Libertarian, Independent, Progressive.

Perhaps I don’t get to vote in any primaries, but I believe that if we had more teams in the game, representative of our various beliefs and ideals we would have more fair play and honesty in Washington.

We would also be able to vote our conscience.

Captain Lynda Schuh


Key Largo Residents Leery of Federally Funded Senior Housing Complex

Dear Editor,

A Senior Housing Development of 47 units (700 sq. foot, $ 850.00 a month), behind the Winn Dixie MM 105 B/S, in Key Largo being built by Gorman Co., is under a minor conditional use review, for approval by Townsley Schwab, Senior Planning Director .

Gorman Co. is using Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) federal funding, which allows participation from non-residents of Monroe County.

Monroe County Planning Commissioners were told Gorman Co. will only advertise these units in local Monroe papers, which is hardly an effective safeguard it today’s digital world.  Can Gorman Co. get funding that is private not federal funding for this senior housing development?

Locally, many citizens are already expressing deep concerns about relaxed and diminishing control of these units that could otherwise be used for vacation rentals and weekend getaways. Therefore, these controls should contain the criteria of being the primary residence, respecting the peace and tranquility of their fellow seniors and prohibiting sub-letting. Will all potential applicants be interviewed within a sustained oversight process, maintained by Monroe County?

Since this is a minor conditional use approval, the only chance for citizens to express concerns will be before the Development Use Review Committee, which has not yet set a meeting date. Stay tuned.

It is essential we pay attention and participate in the control process to protect and insure our neighborhoods, our community and the development itself will become an asset (as intended) to the Upper Keys.

Kay Thacker

Key Largo


An Open Letter to the County Commission and Administrator.

Competitive bidding works!  I recently upgraded my x-ray equipment to digital and spent the better part of a month negotiating individually with four different vendors trying to get the best price.  After all that time I only managed to get the price down $ 500 along with offers to include some free optional software and lots of rhetoric about the great price they were giving me and their great service.  It finally dawned on me to do what any good business or government purchaser should do.  I sent them all a request for competitive bid letter informing them that this would be a one-time bid and to send me their best prices.  One Salesman immediately emailed back stating, “You are a very smart man.  I will sharpen my pencil and give you a great price.”  And he did. Magically overnight the price dropped by almost $ 3000, plus the free software and the great service.

Luckily, I did not believe what the sales people were initially telling me. The competitive bid process quickly cleared the air.  My savings went from under 2% to over 10% because they had to bid.  To have any hope of getting the contract, they had to give their true best price.

The county commission recently changed county regulations to allow them to extend waste haulers contracts without going out to bid. This is a 10 year $ 105 million dollar decision. Should it be based solely on negotiations with the vendor’s and their rhetoric about price and service? A 10% savings here would save the taxpayers over a million dollars a year. Even half of that is a nice chunk of change. Competitive bidding is the only way to know you are getting the best price. Commissioners, solid waste is a competitive business and competitive bidding works. You should try it.

Dr. Ross Williams

Key West

Defeat Of Channel Widening Referendum Cut Across All Sectors

To the Editor:

This week 74% of Key West voters rejected the referendum to study the feasibility of widening the channel in order to accommodate larger cruise ships, a ratio of nearly 3:1. Detailed results from the Supervisor of Elections Office paint an even clearer picture of the mandate issued by the voting citizens of Key West. The bigger-is-better pro-cruise-ship argument led by the Key West Chamber of Commerce was sweepingly rejected at every single precinct in the city. Their defeat cut across all sectors of the electorate. Absentee voters, early voters, and Election Day voters all voted overwhelmingly to block the Chamber’s expensive effort to sacrifice the Florida Keys environment in favor of lowest-common-denominator tourism.

In the Old Town precincts, represented by Commissioners Jimmy Weekley and Clayton Lopez, the measure was rejected by an astounding 80%. These are the people who live and work in the districts most impacted by cruise-ship tourism. They have the most to gain and the most to lose from cruise-ship tourism. In the districts represented by the Chamber’s staunchest allies, Commissioners Mark Rossi and Billy Wardlow, the measure was defeated by 67% of the electorate.

Proponents of a responsible tourism economy have earned a powerful city-wide mandate. The Chamber of Commerce should work closely with them, and turn their back on those who would sacrifice the future of the Florida Keys for short-term personal financial gain. The people have spoken loud and clear.

For reference, I am attaching the detailed report showing the referendum results at each precinct.

Arlo Haskell

Key West


Ding dong, the witch is dead! The specious slogan, “support the study” and the revolting prospect of more and bigger cruise ships clogging our harbor and more “five dollar cruisers” is dead on arrival. A drubbing of 74 percent of the dredge proponents should put this issue to rest making it political poison for any city commissioner still in favor of expansion of the cruise ship business in Key West. The biggest donors and players in this bid to further degrade the marine environment and the quality of life for the citizens of Key West don’t even live here. Of course, like any good “B” monster movie, the greed cartel will come back to life to attack us again, but for the moment we should all savor our little bit of schadenfreude.

Much credit goes to the leaders of the “Vote NO” campaign. Key West Committee for Responsible Tourism chairman, Jolly Benson (always outnumbered at pro/con discussions on the referendum) kept cool and presented clear and logical arguments for not going further with the Army Corps of Engineer’s “Study”. Thank you to Last Stand’s Naja Girard d’Albissin and Mark Songer who worked tirelessly to prevent this abomination from becoming a reality. Thanks to Elliot Baron for keeping us informed with the truth and countering the B.S. coming out of the pro-dredging camp. Most of all, thank you to my fellow citizens of Key West for proving we are a special community, with courage, soul and conviction to go up against the power elite and make our voices heard. This is our city!


1967, in my medical practice, one patient paid his bill in stone crabs claws. He had traps in the harbor collected in a small rowboat. The harbor water was clear, full of marine life and offered fine fishing. That has been decimated and morphed into a murky dead zone, almost cesspool status. Arrival of the Cruise Ships killed the harbor and the blight has spread, a malignancy with unhealthy tentacles. For the cruise ships our air and water functions as their sewer. Debarking passengers pay 56% of all revenue to the Walsh’s, not to Key West. The Army Corps of Engineers are supposed to do an objective review on dredging which in a shallow tropical sea like ours has been labeled by Leeds University as a disaster. Getting ugly was the scientific conclusion of that study. Leeds in London is one of the most well regarded environmental evaluators in the world. The Army Corps has produced some of the worst environmental tragedies ever recorded obliterating wetlands and killing generations of Salmon, recently engineering a dirty water scenario affecting Florida Bay and our coral reef negatively. Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior for 13 years, under 2 presidents, said about the Corps: “no more lawless or irresponsible group than the Corps of Engineers has ever attempted to operate in the United States either outside or within the law…it is truly beyond imagination.” Studying their record closely that United States cabinet member’s statement was right on target; Environmental Protection Agency does detailed studies on environmental impact not the Corps. If Key West is basing their future, even partially, on that group, I fear for all of us. Statements by the Chamber and their attorney are mostly pure sophistry, falseness, untruths and misinformation, my judgement based on intense research over 8 years necessary for a book being published.  Again I fear for all of us, our environment that sustains our planet and our lives. The Walsh’s have stacked the deck against us citizens seemingly motivated by sheer avarice.

Jerrold J. Weinstock, M.D.

Member National Biological Honor Society

Key West, Florida  33040

“Why Are You So Angry?”

A good friend of mine on FaceBook, as well in the real world, came up to me last night and asked me in a concerned way, “Why are you so angry?”, referring to my many political postings. I thought of the Buddy Guy song, “Damn Right I Got the Blues”. Buddy goes on to elaborate, “from my head down to my shoes…” I told her that it was a survival technique to purge, from my delicate system, all the horrid data I process on a daily basis. Which is true, but what I really wanted to say is, why aren’t you and every other sentient person in this fading republic as angry as I am?

Look at our clown car of a congress, for example.  Never in our history has a group of, what is laughingly referred to as, representatives shut government down to prevent enacting a law that some do not like. I’m sure we can all come up with plenty of laws we think are unnecessary or even harmful, but nobody is demanding a government shutdown over them. This absurd breath holding and foot stomping by a group that has weaseled and wiggled a majority control of the house by gerrymandering and creative redistricting is actually, for all intents and purpose, treasonous. We don’t need Osama bin Laden to crash into Capitol Hill; we have the Teabaggers doing a fine job of it.

In reference to my good friend’s concern, I think what angers me most is these cry babies and their temper tantrums would never have been tolerated a couple of decades ago, but the bar has been lowered down so far that screaming sound bites and mindless platitudes have replaced constructive dialogue making intelligent compromise for the good of the nation impossible. Ronald Regan, the president that is always trotted out as the right wing God of America, would never have tolerated these school yard bully tactics.

In spite of what Ted Cruz or any other hater may say the Affordable Care Act is not about “taking your freedom(s) away”, but simply a way for more Americans to BUY into the health care market without selling their  souls or their first born. This country is number one in health care costs and number thirty seven in quality of care. Something had to change. Morocco and Columbia have better healthcare.

So, yes, I am angry, but I am not going to quit letting anyone that cares to listen to know what I am angry about. My mental health depends on it.

Alex Symington

Key West

Where The $84,000 Came From

The statement that “It’s only a study” is totally illogical and disprovable, because if the referendum loses, it’s the end of the dredging threat. It would say, “Ships that are over three football fields long are big enough!”

I can understand how the Pro-Dredging side can fashion a deceitful argument that it’s only a study, even though it is a required step in the approval process. They can make that statement based on the assumption that they will win. Then. even though they are one step closer toward achieving their golden dream, they can still argue that this is only one of the battles they face.

But if the referendum fails, it is so much more than just a study. It will put an end to this nonsense that we should further degrade the island to enrich a few individuals, so they can continue to gorge themselves at the buffet of decadent excess. Yes, a few scraps may fall from the table, but barely enough to notice.

As of the last campaign finance report filed with the Key West City Clerk, the Chamber of Commerce PAC had raised $ 84,000. The following chart depicts the relative contributions from their various supporters, or “how the pie was made.”

Not surprisingly, it also pretty well reflects how it gets consumed.

Chamber PAC Pie

Open Letter to Monroe County Democratic Party Executive Committee

This is an open letter of objection to the proposed endorsement of Jimmy Weekley for re-election as Key West City Commissioner, District 1 by the Monroe County Democratic Party Executive Committee (DEC).

Your meeting notice for the September 23rd meeting of the DEC includes an agenda action item to act on the recommendation of the DEC Steering Committee to endorse Weekley.

An endorsement of Weekley by the DEC would be contrary to past practice. In the past, the party has remained neutral with respect to races where registered Democrats are opposing each other. Instances from the recent past are as follows: 2009 when Jimmy Weekley and I opposed each other for the Key West City Commission. 2007 when I ran against Charlie Bradford for the Utility Board.  2007 in the race between Teri Johnston and the late Jose Menendez for a seat on the Key West City Commission.

In my view, an endorsement of Weekley by the DEC would mislead the voters into believing that Weekley is the only registered Democrat in the race, which is not correct. I am a registered Democrat and have been one for many years.

In my view, an endorsement by the DEC would allow the DEC to send out a mailer to each registered Democratic voter in District 1 announcing its endorsement of registered Democrat Jimmy Weekley. This would create an un level playing field because I am prohibited by state law from advertising that I am a registered Democrat because the race is nonpartisan.

I strenuously object to the proposed endorsement of Weekley and ask that the agenda item be withdrawn.

Tom Milone

College Road Not Appropriate For 24-hour Homeless Shelter

Open Letter to the Board of City Commissioners,

After receiving overwhelming feedback from our residents, we are writing to inform you that the Key West Golf Club Home Owners Association (KWGC HOA) Board has passed a resolution to oppose the placement of a homeless facility at the Easter Seals location on College Road.

For the last two years, the residents of our Community have followed the City’s proposed move of KOTS from the Sheriff’s Office property to the Easter Seals property on College Road.  We have met with many of the individuals involved including Mayor Cates, Billy Wardlow, Bob Vitas, Dr. Marbut and Sheriff Ramsay.  We have also gathered information from others following this situation such as Fr. Braddock, Margaret Romero, Bart Smith, members of the Mosquito Control Board and FKSPCA board members and management. Continue reading

Here We Go Again! I Already Don’t Care About The Next Mass Murder

Here we go again, twelve 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 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 never happens, ever. Never.

The NRA and the gun manufacturers lie to their followers about the threat to their second amendment rights to own and bear firearms by the U.S. government. Works every time. Their only solution to gun death is more guns. Mass murder with guns is good for business. After Sandy Hook and twenty babies being shot to death like dogs, 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.

Alex Symington

Key West

Open Letter to the Citizen – Follow Up

In a follow up to my open letter to the Key West Citizen [September 13, 2013] I feel compelled to add a few more thoughts on  small town local newspapers and their role in the community. I did a bit of research on the history of the KW Citizen via Wikipedia. The paper has a venerable history that started 128 years ago and has been published since in various incarnations and titles. In 1998 Solares Hill was added to the stable of publications owned by the previous Citizen’s publishing company, Thomson Florida Keys Media Group. Solares Hill was an independent magazine first published in 1976. The present owners and publishers purchased the Citizen along with Solares Hill in 2000. The last contribution to the Wikipedia site was entered on September 22, 2011. The paper has not yet entered the latest historical events of the last few weeks. I can’t wait to see what is posted to explain/rationalize said events.

The bizarre act by the publisher to drop Solares Hill and Paradise magazine came as a total shock.  Along with these publications several people were told they were out of a job with absolutely no warning. This reprehensible treatment of respected professionals by the publisher is an insult, not only to these fine journalists, but reveals the out-of-state corporate contempt for the citizens of Key West and the readers of Solares Hill. Was any thought given to perhaps combining the two magazines and creating a new Solares Hill that could come out on Thursdays? Secondly, but equally important, why the irrational black out/suppression of local opinion on one of the most serious issues the citizens of Key West have been faced with in decades? A binding referendum to dredge the harbor or not, at a price tag of, at least, thirty five million dollars of our tax money, so that larger and longer cruise ships than we already have can belly up to our docks. Wouldn’t the extra controversy generate more sales and adverts?

As I mentioned in the open letter, one can’t help but be suspicious of the real reason for the black out. Continue reading


Being conscientious citizens of Key West, my husband and I want to vote in the up-coming elections, even though personal business is keeping us out-of-state at that time. We dutifully used the web site provided for requesting absentee ballots and August 22nd e-mail responses confirmed that our requests were received as we intended.

Since the October 1st election is approaching, and we have not received our ballots, I went back to the web site to check on my status. I was shocked and appalled to see that, while we were entered as receiving absentee ballots for the November run-offs, we were NOT scheduled to receive ballots for the October 1st election!

I have called the Supervisor of Elections office to demand ballots and written my complaints to Ms. Griffin. I am not only concerned about my own ballot, but I am concerned that there may be many more voters who might be similarly disenfranchised.

This is an issue that should be investigated and, if voter turn-out via absentee ballot is low, the results of that election should be called into question. That there is a very controversial issue on the ballot could make one very suspicious of how something like this can happen.

I urge everyone who has requested an absentee ballot to immediately check their own election status.

P.D. Cummings

Key West

To check your status go to:     Supervisor of Elections website


Channel Dredging: The Private Takeover Of Public Money

We citizens of Key West are personally experiencing a vivid example of what the country and most of the planet is suffering from; a myopic hell-bent-for-leather private takeover of public money and public institutions with no regard to environmental or cultural history. Utilities, schools, mail service, hospitals and prisons are now seen as money makers and private income streams at the expense of serving the people whose money created said institutions.

We see small, but powerful and influential factions seeking to expand their empires at the expense of the public. Private enterprise is a fine thing when responsible and aware of the cultural and environmental impact of its enterprise, however in today’s current state of capitalist purist ideology all bets are off. The quarterly bottom line and increasing it is the only objective. In fact the concept of leveling off and maintaining the status quo, no matter how much money these corporate goons have is an anathema!

If “terrorists” were destroying our reef and advocating for more and bigger silt making machines to further damage our true tourist economy engine, the marine environment, and these “terrorists” swarmed onto our little island and drove away all the visitors that were spending real money, we would be up in arms!

We citizens of Key West are victims of this purist capitalist ideology in the form of the channel dredging issue. This mental obsession of never ending expansion of profits is being advertised as a “study”. The use of the word, study, implies if we agree to it and vote “Yes” and the study is done, we will have another opportunity to say whether or not we want the dredging done. This is not so! If you vote yes, you are voting for dredging and you will not get another opportunity to say “NO”.

This is a perfect example of public money being used by private industry. Thirty five million, at least, of yours and my tax dollars to create a bigger money maker for a small, but influential group of individuals that live in Key Haven. To add insult to injury, the cruise industry pays virtually no taxes per the Section 883 exemption for cruise industry income derived from cruises that embark or disembark passengers in the U.S.! That is some serious capitalist purist Chutzpa!

Vote NO to dredging on October first. It will be the last time they ask you for permission to dredge!

Alex Symington

Key West (not Key Haven)


The Support the Study PAC is circulating a plea for donations to cover $ 750,000.00, for what is essentially only half the local responsibility of the three million dollar cost of the channel dredging study. The  state, apparently, will come up with the  other $ 750,000.00. As to be expected, there are statements in their glossy brochure that are quite misleading if not untrue. I prefer to call a spade a spade, so henceforth I am going to refer to this PAC as the Support the Dredging or STD.

The STD proponents of dredging are tenaciously hanging onto the word “study” to lull the citizens of Key West into believing that a yes vote is a rational thing to do. No it isn’t, far from it. In the STD fund drive cover letter they list all the economic benefits of the cruise industry and imply that a no vote will cause the existing cruise traffic we already endure to vanish over night along with those monies they generate. Not gonna happen. A good portion of these existing ships that are a thousand feet long and can carry 5000 passenger and crew are not that old and will continue to cast their shadows on Key West docks for years to come.

The use of fear is a tried and true tactic used throughout history to manipulate people. Continue reading

Adopt A Rabbit?

Dear Editor,

Anyone who is considering buying a sweet, soft, adorable rabbit please, please do your homework.  Rabbits are wonderful pets and can give any home a quiet loving animal.  They can be house trained and if treated with respect and kindness will give you hours of loving back.

Please go to the House Rabbit Society on the web and read about what is needed to give them a good life. Or contact your local shelter. If you check with a veterinarian make sure they have knowledge and experience of rabbits. Rabbits can really be a lot of fun if given the right care and attention. After doing some research, please call your local SPCA instead of buying one at the store.  Currently they have 5 rabbits at the Key West shelter and 3 in foster homes all waiting to be adopted.  Most likely they were bought at a pet store and then their owners got tired to taking care of them and took them to the shelter.  It is my dream that someday soon rabbits are not sold in pet stores as a commodity.  They deserve better.

Many rabbit rescues operate at full capacity and often cannot take additional rabbits. Rabbits are the third most commonly surrendered animals in shelters but one of the most challenging to place.

Choosing a rabbit as your next pet is just as important as choosing a cat or a dog.  Please do it wisely.

If you cannot adopt a rabbit please consider donating romaine lettuce and carrots to your local shelter.  For those that can adopt enjoy your wonderful pet.

Maggie Webster

Geiger Key

Former County Mayor Shirley Freeman Urges A “No” Vote on Study to Widen Channel

To the Editor:

In case anyone is interested, here are some of the reasons I will vote NO on the study to widen the channel by dredging.

We do not need a study to know that cruise ships are degrading the environment and character of Key West.

Hordes of cruise ship passengers discourage higher income tourists who stay days and weeks and benefit the economy many times more.

The Corps of Engineers would do the study AND get the multimillion-dollar job of widening the channel.  They have done hundreds of studies and rarely determine a project would be harmful.  They are the geniuses that put levies along the Mississippi River leading to huge floods and destroying the wetlands that previously protected New Orleans.  The Corps is also the culprit who completely messed up the Everglades.

Cruise ships pollute the water and foul the air.  Huge plumbs of sediment follow ships through the Key West channel.  The sediment sinks over the coral smoothering it.  Cruise ships use the cheapest, therefore the dirtiest, fuel available.

The cruise ship industry is not subject to safety, labor or environmental laws of any country including the USA. They answer to no one.

Cruise ships pay no taxes to any country.  They are registered in small weak countries like Nigeria.  They suck billions from the American economy and make enormous profits, but pay no taxes.

The cruise industry is undependable.  We cannot assume the ships will continue to come.  Cruise companies now buy their own islands for ship stops.   They also buy docks at ports-of-call.  They build their own shops and restaurants so the local economy has no benefit – only the pollution.  (Remember, the Navy considered leasing the Truman Waterfront port to the highest bidder.)

Mobile, Alabama and Houston, Texas and have spent millions of dollars to improve their docks to accommodate cruise ships.  However, now the ships bypass these ports and the cities are left with huge bonds to be paid off by taxpayers.

Please join me and Vote NO on October 1.

Shirley Freeman

Former Mayor of Monroe County

Anti Dredging Should Not Be Equated With Anti Cruise Ship


With the current debate over the ship channel widening feasibility leading up to the October referendum, I observe that the two sides in the debate are often at extremes with each other, and for a questionable reason.  So often, in any forum, or in any conversation about the issue, it becomes not the widening survey itself, but pro or con cruise ships in general.  I wish the participants could separate the issue at hand from the topic in general.

The fact is that we now have cruise ships using the port of Key West on a regular basis, and that is a fact that is unlikely to change in the near future, no matter what.  The port calls have become an important part of the local economy, in several different ways.  I think most would agree that it is indeed important, but certainly and plainly not the most important feature of our tourism based economy.

So, all the tangential issues of effluent discharge, silting, environmental damage, cheap t shirt stores replacing boutique shops, who really derives the economic benefits, all of those issues are stand alone issues regardless of the upcoming referendum.

To include them in the debate over the referendum is just clouding the water (pun intended).

The issue before the voters in Key West is whether or not we should compel our local government to request a sizable, detailed, and costly Federal study of the channel widening and dredging to follow up on the 2010 Corps of Engineers report.  If the answer is “yes,” then the question becomes one of affordability, political will, Federal law and regulations, and so forth. I think we’re talking decades here, not months or a few years.  If the answer is “no” then perhaps we can take a more focused and reasoned look at the future of cruise ship tourism in Key West.  Included in that examination for the next few decades’ prospects should also, and perhaps primarily include the rise of sea level and its impact on Key West and the Keys as a whole.  For example, what happens if the rise continues to accelerate and in thirty years we have lost some major percent of our land and shoreline?  The sea level will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, regardless of a ship channel, and we should be much more concerned with its impact in the coming decades, than with who derives what benefit from cruise ship tourism.  I’d rather have the Corps of Engineers look into that for us to consider.  But, I digress.

Anti dredging should not be equated with anti cruise ship. To some, on both sides of the issue, it has become defacto, but it should not be the case.  Most certainly, those who take sides in this debate have their considered opinions, and generally I think most minds are set before the question to the voters will be decided… but for what reason?

Just sayin’.

Karl Reutling

Key West

That Trailer Park Should Have Never Been Put Up For Sale

That trailer park [on Simonton Street] should have never been put up for sale. What happened to charity? So some of the folks were not paying rent any longer; it should have been charity, not for profit, in the first place. Shame on Peter Batty and the church to turn these people out, when it should be obvious most or all of them have nowhere to go and no money to do it with even if they did have options. When I lived on the island I do not recall one negative incident coming from that little tree-laden community. The folks who lived there seemed to do so in harmony. Some were very poor and more than one picked up a bag of groceries from MCC every week, when I was working with the church pantry, but all of them seemed to be decent people, whom I’m sure contributed to the economy of our country when they were still able to work. Some still might be contributing to the economy of Key West.

As you say in your article in [Issue #24] of the Blue Paper, In less than a year’s time Key West has lost workforce housing at a record pace.  First it was over 100 units at Peary Court, then the 230 or so with expiring deed restrictions and this past Tuesday another 44 units at Simonton Street Trailer Park were put on the slab. Key West does have an ordinance requiring 30% of newly constructed housing to be dedicated affordable housing, but somehow lately every project seems to have its own particular reason as to why it should not apply.  For Peary Court and now the Trailer Park, the developments were not considered “new construction” even though both development plans call for total demolition and all new structures.

Before long, Key West is going to be that rich haven Hemingway warned about in the year of my birth, 1937. He warned that the wealthy are no longer going to put up with the shacks and poverty of any of the locals and will find ways to get rid of them. It certainly looks like, albeit 76 years late, his predictions are coming true, with the residents of Simonton St Trailer Park being the latest victims.

How can the developers claim the 30% rule [doesn't apply] when they totally demolish and create new structures, as it seems is going to happen with the Simonton trailer park? This was going on when I was still down there writing about it in my column on the city commission and it looks like they’re still getting away with it. There’s nothing right about it. Nothing!

Peggy Butler

West Palm Beach

N. Roosevelt Blvd: An Open Letter to Commissioners

Dear Mayor Cates and Commissioner Rossi:


I have seen the resolution you have co-sponsored (#15 on Tuesday’s agenda) essentially asking FDOT to reconsider implementing two-way traffic on the boulevard, citing “public safety concerns”.

A few prefaces.  First, I assume you all understand that if two way traffic is not reinstituted soon it may well be the death knell for many of the boulevard businesses.  Donna Nelson of Imagination Station made this clear to Secretary Prassad on August 6th and it was in response to her plea that Secretary Prassad boldly decided to reinstute the two-way traffic by Labor Day.

It is most important that you realize the consequences to the busineeses–your constituents and in many cases your friends–if the resolution proceeds.

That being said we do not believe that any of you are insensitive to the needs of the businesses.

But, with all due respect, gentlemen, you are wrong. Continue reading

N. Roosevelt Blvd: An Open Letter to Commissioners

Dear Mayor Cates and Commissioner Rossi:


I have seen the resolution you have co-sponsored (#15 on Tuesday’s agenda) essentially asking FDOT to reconsider implementing two-way traffic on the boulevard, citing “public safety concerns”.

A few prefaces.  First, I assume you all understand that if two way traffic is not reinstituted soon it may well be the death knell for many of the boulevard businesses.  Donna Nelson of Imagination Station made this clear to Secretary Prassad on August 6th and it was in response to her plea that Secretary Prassad boldly decided to reinstute the two-way traffic by Labor Day.

It is most important that you realize the consequences to the busineeses–your constituents and in many cases your friends–if the resolution proceeds.

That being said we do not believe that any of you are insensitive to the needs of the businesses.

But, with all due respect, gentlemen, you are wrong.

I would ask you to send me your very specific concerns about the public safety concerns associated with two-way traffic.

[In my opinion] the real public safety issue is with the continuation of the one-way traffic.  The City and FDOT are fortunate that to date no one has been killed or seriously injured by a motorist proceeding the wrong way.  In fct, one of my fellow employees at Domino’s was one of the first injured when his car was hit by a car going the wrong way.   It was fortunate indeed that he was not seriously injured considering the damage done to his vehucle.  And I am aware of an accident with a scooter near Checkers in which it took a lengthy time for the ambulance to arrive given the necessary detour.  i have been in a vehicle when the driver, inadvertently, turned right out of a boulevard business.

The one-way traffic is an accident waiting to happen.

What are the safety issues with two-way traffic?  None that I can see.

If it is a question of emergency response time, if the boulevard does not work for emergency vehicles they can continue using First to Flagler.  They will not be foreclosed from doing so by the two way traffic.  Moreover it is probable that the First to Flagler route will be less congested if Roosevelt is too way.

If you are concerned about public safety you should be leading the cheeing squad for the decision of Secretary Prassad. Continue reading

N. Roosevelt Blvd: 360 Construction Days = 820 Political Days

My name is Eric Geen and I am a former construction claims consultant with over 20 years experience, many of them working for and against FDOT.

On August 6, 2013, I attended the  4 PM, CNRAB meeting with Secretary Prasad, the 5PM Town Hall meeting with Secretary Prasad and the subsequent 6PM Key West Commission meeting. All 3 meetings were in my opinion a total farce when it come to North Roosevelt Blvd. Construction.

Secretary Prasad blew into town like a hurricane and proceeded to perform a dog and pony show consisting of smoke, mirrors and bits of invisible string to the Citizens of Key West, the one exception being single line 2 way traffic to be implemented on September 3, 2013.

Secretary Prasad stated the Project will be completed by July 21, 2014 – Guaranteed – 820 days as per the contract. Does this mean the Secretary is telling the contractor to complete the project in accordance with their contract duration of 820 days – NO BENEFIT to Key West Businesses – NO REDUCTION in time for businesses.

Secretary Prasad was asked if there was a vehicle to provide financial relief for affected businesses? – Prasad said NO emphatically – NO BENEFIT to Key West Businesses.

Secretary Prasad was asked if an economic impact study had been performed prior to commencing the project? – again – Prasad said NO emphatically – NO BENEFIT to Key West Businesses. (it is my understanding that this road project has been in the works for 10 years, on again, off again, and nobody ever thought the 170 N. Roosevelt businesses would suffer economically).

A question that I was not allowed to ask at the Town Hall meeting was: What happened to the FDOT published completion for project work date of January 31, 2014? This article was published in the September 23, 2012 edition of the Key West Citizen. Continue reading

N. Roosevelt Blvd: 360 Construction Days = 820 Political Days

My name is Eric Geen and I am a former construction claims consultant with over 20 years experience, many of them working for and against FDOT.

On August 6, 2013, I attended the  4 PM, CNRAB meeting with Secretary Prasad, the 5PM Town Hall meeting with Secretary Prasad and the subsequent 6PM Key West Commission meeting. All 3 meetings were in my opinion a total farce when it come to North Roosevelt Blvd. Construction.

Secretary Prasad blew into town like a hurricane and proceeded to perform a dog and pony show consisting of smoke, mirrors and bits of invisible string to the Citizens of Key West, the one exception being single line 2 way traffic to be implemented on September 3, 2013.

Secretary Prasad stated the Project will be completed by July 21, 2014 – Guaranteed – 820 days as per the contract. Does this mean the Secretary is telling the contractor to complete the project in accordance with their contract duration of 820 days – NO BENEFIT to Key West Businesses – NO REDUCTION in time for businesses.

Secretary Prasad was asked if there was a vehicle to provide financial relief for affected businesses? – Prasad said NO emphatically – NO BENEFIT to Key West Businesses.

Secretary Prasad was asked if an economic impact study had been performed prior to commencing the project? – again – Prasad said NO emphatically – NO BENEFIT to Key West Businesses. (it is my understanding that this road project has been in the works for 10 years, on again, off again, and nobody ever thought the 170 N. Roosevelt businesses would suffer economically).

A question that I was not allowed to ask at the Town Hall meeting was: What happened to the FDOT published completion for project work date of January 31, 2014? This article was published in the September 23, 2012 edition of the Key West Citizen. Continue reading

Peary Court: Conversions From Military to Private Land Should Return Property To A Normal City Grid


Thirty years ago Key West city planners and a few city commissioners attended a symposium about how cities gaining access to former military property should handle their new acreage.  This was just before the Truman Annex was finally sold to private developer Pritam Singh and well before his plans for redevelopment were drawn.

One of the things I remember clearly from that meeting was the strong recommendation that conversions to private land from military should do away with high security aspects, and return the property to a normal city grid.  That meant extend existing or former streets through the area prior to building new houses.  We were told that welcoming the property back to public street access would recreate the feeling of a normal neighborhood and a much healthier community overall.  This advice was based on research and experience with many reclaimed properties around the country.

Unfortunately, these guidelines were not followed at Truman Annex.  The Presidential Gates Pritam Singh publicly vowed would “never close again” were indeed closed; Continue reading

Nuts To NOAA!

My name is Bob Elkins.  I am a commercial fisherman.  I have been fishing in the Florida Keys since 1978 and full time since 1983.  It’s an occupation that I truly love. I take pride in being fully invested in this kind of work.  Independent, self-reliant, fully autonomous a free agent if you may.  At one time commercial fishing was an admired profession in the Florida Keys.    That began to change surprisingly around the time that the Marine Sanctuary came on the scene. Now we are vilified as rogues and pirates.

I was around when the Sanctuary was founded in 1990.  I went to the meetings.  I remember the “Nuts to NOAA” coconuts. My wife was employed by the Sanctuary as an Education coordinator. I accepted the Sanctuary at that time as I was assured that their mandate stated that they would do no commercial harm to the people who made their living on the water of the keys.  That they would keep oil drilling out of the Keys.

Since then I have witnessed a systematic chipping away of those rights to make a living upon the waters.   We as an industry are being assaulted from every direction, with new laws, new restrictions, over bearing law enforcement, huge fines, even to the extent of big brother infringing on our privacy rights.

We as an industry are on the ropes and this latest “water grab” is now upon us.  This latest attempt to put us all out of business will be the final straw that breaks the fisherman’s back.

So in frustration I look around to find the culprit in all this.  That culprit is Continue reading




Monday, August 5th, 5:00 p.m. at VFW, 2200 N. Roosevelt Blvd.


Tuesday, August 6th, 5:00 p.m.  Old City Hall on Greene Street


This comment appeared in the 7/30 “Citizen’s Voice” [Key West Citizen]:

“Everybody’s complaining about the slow work and small work crews on North Roosevelt Boulevard.  This is nothing.  Wait until work begins on the other side, where most of the businesses are.  We just have to renegotiate this silly contract.  They don’t work weekends; no holidays; they knock off around 4 p.m., and of course, rainy season.  Seriously, we have got to get serious.”  [Tim's emphasis.]

I would not characterize the contract as “silly”.  I would call it absurd, ill-conceived, unconscionable.  We have several inputs that the entire project could have been completed in 365 days, not the 820 days set by the FDOT.  (Understand the responsibility for the length of the contarct lies with FDOT and not the contractor.  The plans were made by FDOT even before the contract was let. Are you concerned by the obvious lack of work?  Well, the contractor can work at a snail’s pace (as it obviously has been) given the time the FDOT allocated for completion.)

Why the 820 days rather than 365?  Presumably, the longer time saved FDOT money.  Bluntly put, Continue reading

HOB CONSTRUCTION FORENSIC AUDIT: Public Deserves a Thorough Vetting


The School Board is preparing to engage the services of a forensic auditor to review the HOB construction project.  So far as I can tell, the Board, along with key administrators, are unanimous in their support of such an endeavor.   In most places, such an audit is standard operating procedure.

Who the Board ultimately selects to perform the forensic audit is very significant.  However, the scope of work expected from the auditor ultimately will prove to be much more important.

I understand that a rump group recently met to discuss the scope of work and to make recommendations to the Board.  That group believes that the scope should be limited to areas where the School District can reasonably expect to recoup money.  Such an approach is, I believe, very shortsighted.

We all remember the many problems, Superintendent Porter might call them challenges as he has a wont to do, associated with the HOB construction.  These include the height of the buildings, problems with the soil and no end of financial questions if not irregularities.  The list is long and deserving of scrutiny.

If the forensic audit is going to be a useful exercise to learn from mistakes, the auditor needs to be given carte blanche authority to range wherever the data takes him.  While recouping money is important, so, too, is determining what went wrong, why and who was responsible.  The public deserves a thorough and impartial vetting of the issues.

Dr. Larry Murray

Fiscal Watchdog and Citizen Advocate

August 15th Will Be A Sad Day: Good-Bye “Top of La Concha”

The story by Rebecca Rankin [Party At The Top -  Issue #19, July 19, 2013] is so true. Every time I hear of another Key West tradition ending because the wealthy want it to, I feel heartsick and feel that another piece of the island I love is dying. I lived there for 8 years and visited for 36 years before that. The one thing I did as often as I could was trike down Duval, lock my bike and take the elevator to The Top of La Concha. No matter what else was going on, standing there looking out on that beautiful panoramic view of the island lifted my spirits, and that of any visitor I welcomed to Key West. I can’t believe they are really putting a private spa up there and denying all of us the privilege of that wonderful view forever. It is the highest place we could all go for free to see the whole island in all its splendor surrounded by those beautiful merging blue and green waters of the Atlantic, the Gulf, the Straits and the Caribbean Sea. August 15 will be a sad day for locals and visitors to Key West, and I wish it wouldn’t happen.

Peggy Butler

West Palm Beach


Why The Waste Water Fiasco Affects Everyone

Here is the scorecard so far. Cudjoe, Summerland, and Upper Sugarloaf gets about 600 grinder pumps, and Big Pine, Ramrod, Big and Little Torch Keys as well as lower Sugarloaf Key get almost 2,200 more. What do the rest of the FKAA sewer customers get – a million dollars a year in extra operating costs for at least forty years?

To date I have focused on Cudjoe Gardens problems, but the problem is even greater elsewhere.  Every densely populated subdivision on Big Pine, Ramrod, Big and Little Torch Keys as well as lower Sugarloaf Key will be affected and you don’t know it yet.

When we learned about the proposed mix of low pressure grinder pumps and gravity systems in January we were stunned.  Over the next five months, I did extensive research, analysis and modeling.  All of it showed that that the planned system made no sense; it was uneconomic in both the short and long term.  I finally estimated that it will cost all of the ratepayers in the FKAA system about $ 1 million per year in additional sewer fees.

The County claims they cannot not tell the FKAA what to do.  They are helpless.  They also said there were no funds available.  However,  the recently passed Infrastructure Sales Tax extension is slated to collect almost $ 200 million and its actual wording states ” … the proceeds used for the following projects: wastewater facilities and, only if those wastewater projects are completed or fully funded, recreation, etc….” .

Grinder pumps should be a last resort for moving sewage to a central facility.  Nationally there are about 100 million homes and about ½% use grinder pumps.  Many coastal communities will not even consider them because they do not do well in salt air or major storms.  FKAA proposes that 30% of the CRWS use grinder pumps.

While the residents of Cudjoe Key, have a problem with 300 grinders, the rest of you have an even bigger problem,

By Walter P. Drabinski
Sir Isaac Newton Coalition

“We believe in gravity because it is always there for us.”

Do “We The People” Still Own The Land At Peary Court? Who Got To Decide That A Private Developer Could Dispose of It?

Peary Court About Twenty Years Ago

Peary Court About Twenty Years Ago

Dear Editor:

Regarding the proposed Peary Court change of use and redevelopment, I attended the first public input meeting held at the Harvey Government Center a few weeks ago. The Blue Paper was represented there, as was the KW Citizen.  There was a KW City Commissioner present.  I asked the question of the developers, “Who actually owns the land, who has title to the land, that the buildings are on at Peary Court?”  I cannot quote their reply, but it was clearly along the lines of “we do,” implying White Street Partners, or Balfour Beatty, or some collaboration or agreement between the two.  When I pressed the question, we were told that the United States Navy “no longer has anything to do with the ownership of the land.”

Last week, on June 27,there was another public meeting held.  I thought I had signed up for notices at the first meeting but I received no notice of this meeting last week.  Continue reading

Crane Point Zipline: What To Ask Zipline Builders/Operators

As a child, I spent my summers in Marathon, and developed a deep love for the natural beauty of the Keys. I am deeply saddened to hear that the zipline project has been approved at Crane Point. I fear that habitat be permanently destroyed and the noise of zipliners will frighten away any remaining wildlife. And wasn’t preservation of habitat the mission of Crane Point?

Another huge issue is that of safety. I have been researching the safety, or lack thereof, of ziplines in America and abroad. What I have discovered is very alarming — a lack of government oversight and safety regulation; an unacceptable number of injuries and deaths, ranging from finger or arm amputation to deaths from snapped cables; or most horrifying, the entire tower going down and taking everyone with it.

I am sharing this “suggested questions for zipline operators” segment Continue reading

Questions About Truman Village Senior Housing

Dear Editor:

If you have an elderly mother who requires care, or has dementia and needs convalescent care, or in your golden years you require  a similar type of care – will the Truman Village senior independent and assisted living facility provide the needed services?  With all I have heard about poor sick Mrs. So-and-so who had to leave the Keys after she became aged and ill, I certainly assumed this is what an “Assisted Living Facility” would provide.

Don’t ever assume anything!   Florida Statute 429.02 (5) states:  “Assisted living facility” means any building or buildings… which undertakes through its ownership or management to provide housing, meals, and one or more personal services for a period exceeding 24 hours to one or more adults who are not relatives of the owner or administrator and the proposed lease agreement uses that definition.

Haven’t we been led to believe that services would be far beyond just serving meals and maybe doing one’s laundry?  Maybe more skilled care including nursing care WILL be provided – but it is NOT required by the statute or the proposed LEASE.  So if more extensive care is what the community expects and wants from this Assisted Living Facility – put it in the lease.  “You deserve to age in place in Paradise” we hear from the Coalition. But I wonder, just how much aging in place and services will be provided to truly allow us that luxury?  Tell us and then put it in the lease. Continue reading

Crane Point: Zipline Would Ruin Beautiful Natural Habitat

Dear Editor:

Thank you for printing Spotted in [last Friday's] Blue Paper. It’s no surprise about the ‘secret’ meeting. What is totally puzzling is that anyone who lives in the Keys and loves the Keys wants to desecrate Crane’s Point with a zipline! People walk or ride through Crane’s Point for a trip back to Old Florida, a trip back to Nature. How on earth do those who advocate such a desecrating activity as a zipline think the wildlife there are going to react to it? To me, this is criminal! Can anyone imagine wildlife staying in such an environment? Can anyone imagine the noise of the tourists who participate in riding the zipline? Even though I can no longer afford living in Key West, I still love everything about the Keys and it hurts my heart to realize how these advocates of such a tourist attraction are going to ruin this beautiful natural habitat if they win and the zipline goes through.

Peggy Butler

West Palm Beach

Marinas Selling Out to Hotel Developers

Dear Editor,

Please reference the e-mail below.  Have you heard of this by chance?  If this does come to fruition, this is a significant change for Key West, and puts a significant number of boat owners (me included) looking for a new Marina.  The remaining area Marina’s are either at capacity, or don’t have the facilities to handle many of the larger boats.  I’m not sure if a story exists here, but facts around such changes and new construction/development, in my opinion, would be news worthy and the greater public should hear about what is planned.  Sadly, it seems that marinas are once again under attack and being sold out for development further reducing water access.  I’d be interested to hear any facts you may know about these developments.

Thank you.

Respectfully Yours,

Mr. Stefan C. Blache


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” … Mark Twain

Continue reading

Relocating Mosquito Control Will Raise Taxes

Good day Arnaud and Naja:

Thank you so much for continuing your coverage on the North Roosevelt Blvd construction fiasco.  I have not read anything about this in the daily or the twice weekly local papers.   It seems that they do not want to cover this issue which has an effect on all who live here and who visit, and who are trying to operate their businesses along that corridor.   Our city should be following the project and should be very vocal about what is taking place.

However the city’s focus is now with the channel, the homeless, the assisted living facility, and finding the ‘best’ use for the mosquito control building which was built on behalf of and paid for by the taxpayers of our county in the 1970′s.  Our current building would continue to serve the taxpayers were the city open to a new and revised lease for the property on which the building sits.

As it appears now, mosquito control must look for a property in the Key West area for our relocation in 2014.  This means we will have to increase our property tax in order to purchase and construct or remodel a facility.

All governmental agencies are beginning the budget processes for the upcoming fiscal year.  I have fought to hold mosquito taxes down for the last 6 years.   During this time I have supported a budget below rollback, and taxes were held back by over 43.37%.

For  the future of mosquito control program, we must be sure to own the facility and land.  The city may offer to lease other land to mosquito control, however I can not support building a tax payer owned facility on land not owned by mosquito control; to do so would not benefit our citizens/taxpayers.  It is my job to support the best decisions for all of us, myself included.  I too am a citizen and taxpayer of Monroe County.

Again, keep up the good work.  I share your articles on my facebook page and with my over 2,000 friends.


Stephen K. Smith

*Florida Keys Mosquito Control, Board of Commissioners

Not Very “One Human Family-ish”

To the Editor:

A disappointing experience is guaranteed to anyone who dares to challenge the logic and veracity of the emperor. Unabashedly naked, his ideologues have adorned him with glorious garments, attempting to conceal the true nature of their totalitarian desires. The worship and devotion rendered unto him by his minions is a national disgrace.

These devotees tightly grasp their indoctrinated beliefs and dogmas. Lacking depth and empirical data to discern the plausibility of political perspectives that confront them, they adopt the delusionary persuasions that provide them with comfort, rationalizing their incompleteness and dependency.

These citizen disciples have been successfully targeted by the ruling elites. Marketing techniques that stimulate and drive the baser instincts of this power source has generated political outcomes. The moral and spiritual instruction that would offset this type of propaganda is strictly prohibited.

Has it ever crossed your mind, perhaps the government doesn’t want its citizens to receive a world-class education? A confident and well-informed public would not settle for the garbage being peddled their way.

Enemies of the state have done much to dismantle the republic that birthed our Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution. Their allegiance is to the acquisition and maintenance of power and control. Prioritizing the personal liberties and freedoms of the American people isn’t formulated into their manner of governance. As our servitude increases, the abuses and mistreatment by government will accelerate.

At one time, inflicting fear and harm into the lives of its people was not the role of the United States government. Using its might and force to attack those that it disagrees with, is not why three successive generations of my family were awarded five Purple Heart Medals.

Apparently, an intolerant and calculating contempt by our government towards those citizens that it does not like has prompted it to act malevolently.

Benghazi, IRS retaliations, journalistic spying, the president’s “Kill List” and torture are not the trademark of my country. The toxic notion that Americans can be secretly targeted for drone strikes within the United States, is as lawless as it gets.

Not very “One Human Family-ish”.


John Donnelly

Thank You Boy Scout Troop 588 and The Tavenir Elk’s Club

To The Editor:

Boy Scout Troop 588′s heartrending flag retirement ceremony at the Tavernier Elk’s Lodge stirred my mind and emotions, as I reflected upon the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.

Scouting advanced the foundation upon which my core values were constructed. It aroused within me an appreciation of nature and the outdoors, while teaching me the skills to competently live in concert with God’s creation.

Growing up in the South Bronx, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to hike and camp confidently in the wilderness. In a few short years I would utilizes my scouting skills to safely traverse enemy trails in the jungles of Vietnam.

The United States Marine Corps and the Boy Scouts of America had trained me to the point that no matter where we were dropped off during a battle, I knew my location. My attention was solely concentrated on the enemy at hand. I credit the Boy Scouts with instructing me in the basic techniques that upon application saved my life.

The red stripes in the flags that the scouts retired represent the blood that has been shed in securing and maintaining our freedom. The flag symbolizes the principles and constitutional guarantees that our illuminated in our founding documents. It has served as a rallying point during our nation’s darkest hours.

It is the garment that is placed upon the bodies of our men and women who have been killed while answering the call of duty.

A charismatic African-American Marine carried a small American Flag during our combat operations. He wanted to hold it with his comrades on our last mission and have a group picture taken.

Several bullets tore through him and the flag that he carried. During the battle his flag was used to to apply pressure to the wounds that eventually killed him. This flag rested upon this Marine’s lifeless body as he was moved to a landing zone to begin his journey home.

Appropriately retiring the colors of our nation recognizes that the liberty guaranteed to us in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are worth defending. It validates and sanctifies the scarifies of those who have preceded us; so that their blood offerings may not have been made in vain.

My sincerest thanks to Boy Scout Troop 588, the Elk’s Club and all those who made this magnificent ceremony possible.


John Donnelly

Referendum: It’s NOT what you say, but what you DON’T say that is dangerous!

I am a worrier. But living in Key West, I have lived through and seen enough deals drag on over many years, that I have good reason to worry!  The mega-yacht marina comes to mind! The contract was awarded, but as nothing happened over time – we all realized there had been NO time constraints put on the project in any way! The City for some time had no idea how not to offend the marina developer, yet get out of the deal and move on with the park plans. None of us caught that omission initially.

So now I keep thinking about the Channel dredging referendum (let’s call it what is!) and worrying what could go wrong.  What have we NOT considered, before the wording and parameters are set in stone?

Considering past lessons learned, I am now concerned about the amount of time allowed for the Chamber to gather up the $750,000 which is the City’s portion of the study. IS THERE A TIME LIMIT?! Let’s face it – the Chamber will drag this out forever (they already have!) if they are not given a strict time period to raise the $750K.

Also, it is JUST the study we are talking about, but if no one is interested in the actual dredging project through the NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY, with the huge price tag of $36 million (that the City would be responsible for 30%), then why would we waste taxpayer money, and people’s time on a study?! So let’s get all the facts out there for the public to make an informed decision.

I know there is no way to get that much info and wording in the 75 words of the referendum, but the current referendum is only 55 words.

My problem or question is this: WHY IS EVERYONE SO AFRAID TO PUT THE FACTS AND TRUTH OUT THERE AND SAY …..”determine the environmental, economic and social impacts of” DREDGING “the Key West Main Ship Channel’ THROUGH THE NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY “for use……

As I said at the last Commission meeting it is NOT what you say in a referendum, but what you DON’T say that is dangerous!

The facts need to be there in the 75 words! The Ship Channel is a long channel – those NOT paying attention, will walk in the polls, read this and have no idea of what this project entails! I know, I am an Assisant Clerk at one of the precincts! They NEED TO KNOW the exact location of this project! Why is the Chamber so fearful of the truth and the facts? Actually I don’t care what they think – the citizens have a right to the TRUTH and as much information as possible in the wording of this referendum.

2 individuals with the City Attorney’s help created this – why did no Commissioner recommend any additions or suggestions? Don’t you want AS MUCH INFORMATION as possible? I hope you will call or email the Mayor and Commissioners. All I ask, FORGETTING WHO WANTS WHAT, is that the referendum provide the facts – the truth, and as much information as 75 words allows. Fact is – it is about DREDGING and that SHOULD be in there!

Christine Russell

Key West

A Tribute To The Military, Sheriff Ramsay, and Captain Lefere

To the Editor:

Amidst the morass of media negativity, an invigorating current ran through the recent Military Affairs Committee Meeting at the Fly Navy Building on Trumbo Point in Key West.

A gathering of accomplished individuals convened to recognize a cadre of military professionals for their distinguished service. It was a potent antidote to the chronic cynicism and disingenuous rhetoric proliferating the airways.

Within this room of polished, proficient and savvy virtuosos lies the answer to many problems that we face as a nation and society.

Those assembled aren’t theoreticians. They’re not shielded form the consequences of their behavior by committee talk, board discussions or nepotism. Administrative failure and miscalculations are not tolerated, as individuals will die behind their errors.

The ‘esprit de corps’ resonating within the room was palpable, as the commanders of their respective units acknowledged the authentic and exemplary performance of a select group of men and women.

As this meeting drew to a close, Sheriff Rick Ramsay’s long-standing diligence and determination to make certain that our Wounded Warriors have a safe and successful bicycle ride was recognized by Captain Patrick Lefere.

The energy and enthusiasm that Sheriff Ramsay and his deputies have generated to insure that these riders are exposed to the full medical and psychological benefits that this event is designed to deliver, is legend.

The brilliant operation developed and managed by the Sheriff’s Office has guided hundreds of severely injured men and women on their rides from Key Largo to Key West.

Captain Lefere’s team incorporated and organized all of the details necessary to make this award presentation a reality. His love of country and community is reflected in the pivotal responsibilities that our nation has placed upon his shoulders. It’s reassuring to know that the United States of America has determined that our survival as a nation and our fate as a people rests in the hands of a gifted leader, the caliber of Captain Patrick Lefere.


John Donnelly

Key Largo, FL 33037



 Help us Save our Solar Community!

We are fighting to uphold our community’s right to remain an off-grid solar community and we need your help!

No Name Key is an island located in the Florida Keys. We are a model for off-grid, sustainable living.  The 43 homes on the island are powered by solar panels, some with generator back-up.  Over the past 25 years environmentally protective Federal and County-wide laws have been implemented that allow us to remain an off-grid, solar community.  Click here to learn more about the Solar Community of No Name Key.

But now the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners, Keys Energy Services and the Public Service Commission are taking aggressive steps to bring the commercial grid to our community.  These powerlines threaten our island’s fragile eco-system and go against the long-standing laws put in place to protect this environmentally sensitive area and our solar lifestyle.

Please help us defend our right to remain an off-grid solar community!

Sign the petition here. Tell the County and Public Service Commission you stand with No Name Key’s Solar Community!




Electric Bikes

Just a note to Green Reactor’s should bikes have primary status column… He makes a comment of “some not healthy enough to ride a bike” excuse not to… while in extreme cases true, not in most, now that there are electric and electric assisted bikes.
And while many are quite pricey, a company named  Currie Tech ( makes some very affordable ones. Since Wilma drowned my vehicles, I have had one. ‘
The low end models get some review complaints by those that need to go long distance or hilly country… neither a factor in Key West. Direct from Currie about $599 but often on sale at places like Amazon for as little as $350.
They fall in the electric assisted category unless going very short day distances….peddling greatly extends charge life, and yields some exercise. At the same time you never arrive sweaty even in the summer. I travel about 5 mi a day typically and that only under half drains the battery, usually charged in 2 hours (full drain would be 6)
The cost to charge them is negligible… maybe a dime a day. And they can make just under our 20 mph speed limit.
In the last couple of years I have seen more and more of them every year since mine was the only one in late 2005. 
Hayward McKee
Key West

Water Conservation Efforts Require Decoupling of Rates From Sales Volumes


Congratulations on your launch of The Blue Paper and thank you for Michael Welber’s article about the water supply implications of the state’s failure to restrain development in the Keys. I’d like to elaborate on one of the fundamental obstacles to reducing demand for utility water and a solution.

American’s consumption of water is by far the highest in the world. Estimates vary, but the average American consumes 100 gallons of water per day (GPD), while it’s 35 GPD for southeast Queensland, Australia, and the U.S. rate structure perpetuates our profligacy. Continue reading

Don’t Allow Dredging of Seagrass Meadows

Open Letter To South Florida Water Management District:

I am writing in regards to the ERP permit application 080610-13 to dredge an entrance channel to Walker’s Island. I am vehemently opposed to such a proposition. The area surrounding Walker’s Island is a seagrass meadow, rich in biodiversity, and its waters are within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) which prohibits dredging.

US Fish and Wildlife states that “from the 1920s to the 1960s, Florida’s coastal zone underwent tremendous alterations as a result of the lack of proper management of its explosive population increase…Channels were dredged through seagrasses to provide navigational access to and from waterfront properties…Such rampant dredge and fill activities resulted in the destruction of seagrass beds throughout South Florida”.[1]  Continue reading

Bon Apertif!

In its second Friday edition, The Blue Paper (Key West the Newspaper) knocked the lights out again. I feel like an amateur compared to Naja and Arnaud Girard’s investigative reporting, and Arnaud’s Technicolor editorial cartoons are a piercing howl. The second edition strips naked as jay birds Balfour-Beatty, State Legislator Holly Raschein and bribed state legislators determined to give Balfour-Beatty a free tax ride the US Government is not giving Balfour-Beatty. Then comes a really joyful praise report on the North Roosevelt Boulevard redo, which might cause great relief and jubilation in a parallel universe, but not in Key West. Then comes a deliciously ruthless expose of what really is going on in producing the “green living” water Keys people receive from the mainland, and what sure looks to me like a heap of not unexpected double talk from Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and, not even reading between the lines, the development community. Bon aperitif! Bring lots of Rolaids.

Sloan Bashinsky

Little Torch Key