Sep 262015
 


by Naja and Arnaud Girard…….

Board member Cara Higgins challenges Chairman Dean’s eligibility to represent District 3 (Key West) on FKAA board…  Watch The Blue Paper exclusive video…

Special thanks to Colby Fisher for all his great work in un-covering this story!

DID YOU LIKE THIS STORY?  SUPPORT THE BLUE PAPER

Help us continue to bring you local investigative journalism…  Click on the image to make a donation [NOT tax deductible].

teamwork hands

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Arnaud and Naja Girard
Arnaud and Naja Girard, owners and editors of the new, digital, Key West the Newspaper (The Blue Paper) previously reported for the former Key West The Newspaper, Key West’s longest running independent weekly, published by Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D., from January 1994 until November 2012. The Girards are perhaps best known for their discovery of and extensive research surrounding the US Navy’s 1951 claim of ownership of Wisteria Island but are also responsible for top investigative stories including breaking news coverage of the highly controversial in-custody-death of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day 2013, the catastrophic police tasing of Matthew Shawn Murphy, and the property tax scandal involving Balfour Beatty to name a few. Arnaud and Naja have lived in Key West since 1986.

  21 Responses to “SHOWDOWN AT FKAA [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO]”

  1. Mr. Dean’s attorney should be reported to the bar. His unfounded personal attack was ridiculous and a last ditch effort to intimidate the board.

  2. Well, shucks, spank me for doing something else yesterday. If I had attended, during citizen comments I would have asked Chairman Dean where he sleeps nights now, last year, the year before, the year before, going back to before his being appointed by a governor to the FKAA board for the Key West FKAA district. I would have wanted that in the FKAA board meeting record, out of Chairman Dean’s own mouth, for Governor Scott and the Florida Attorney General to see when they reviewed Chairman Dean’s qualification to hold the Key West district seat on the FKAA board.

    Attorney Michael Halpern is a very smart, clever lawyer, I wonder, therefore, how come he did not accuse FKAA board member Cara Higgins, who brought the “inquisition”, of trying to get FKAA to use her law firm as FKAA’s law firm, which a fellow I have referred to as Deep Throat told me is the real backstory in her attempt to get Dean removed from the FKAA board? Deep Throat, however, seemed a bit on Dean’s side; defending him voting in Key West because that’s where his business is located. Well, thousands of people, I suppose, work in Key West, but live up US 1 outside the city limits, who do not vote in Key West. If Dean can vote in Key West, because that’s where is business is located, then so should they be able to vote in Key West. Ed Swift and Higgins’ law partner, David Paul Horan, lives in Key Haven and votes in that district and not in Key West. Dean knows where he is supposed to vote, but he votes in Key West.

    Dean should be prosecuted by State Attorney Catherine Vogel, for falsifying where he lived, so he could get appointed to the FKAA board, and for falsifying where he lived, so he could vote in Key West. Vogel should not let Governor Scott decide this for the people of the Florida Keys. Governor Scott does not live here. He does not vote here. He is not involved in what goes on here. He should remove Dean, but whether he does that, or doesn’t, Dean should be prosecuted by Vogel.

  3. Key West residents will get exactly the type of officials they allow. If someone on the board feels the rules are for the little people only, and you, as Key West residents tolerate this type of behavior, then; you only have yourself to blame. Mr. Dean seems quite arrogant and feels he above abiding by rules of law set down for a reason. Key West residents need to step up to the plate and tell him and show him what happens to people who break Florida election laws. Fraud is fraud.

  4. When Dean brought State Attorney General and Governor Scott’s offices into the matter for a decision, the narrative changed, and this has escalated it from a local into a state and national issue.

    Governor Scott’s office will now need to explain not only why they have not responded to multiple requests for the initial appointment information for Mr. Dean. Considering that Scott’s office paid nearly $1 million (from the Florida taxpayers) in fines for failing to comply with other public records requests within the past month, one would think they would have learned a lesson. Apparently, they haven’t.

    If my dates are correct, Governor Scott will also need to explain why he reappointed Mr. Dean in 2011 when there had already been such controversy on numerous previous occasions concerning Mr. Dean’s residency. Governor Scott’s staff was negligent in their due diligence and responsibility to the citizens of District 3.

    The same due diligence and responsibility issues apply to Governor Jeb Bush when he appointed Mr. Dean on January 5, 2005. The case against Governor Bush, however, is even more egregious. Governor Bush’s office should have recognized that Mr. Dean had changed his voter residency as a matter of convenience only 37 days before the appointment. When those appointment records are released, the circumstances will probably be MUCH worse for Bush. The national press will ask how Presidential Candidate Bush could be expected to make high level federal appointments when he can’t even properly place a qualified person on a local board.

    • Good luck, Colby, getting Governor Scott to fix this, I hope he does, but I ain’t holding my breath. After seeing how other Tallahassee authorities operate, Florida Department of Law Enforcement in the Charles Eimers case, Florida Department of Environmental Protection in the Cudjoe Regional Sewer District cases, as I said, I ain’t holding my breath on Governor Scott. Nor, for that matter, am I holding my breath on State Attorney Vogel doing anything, but that’s who should do it, take it out of the political arena altogether, put it into the criminal justice arena. Might be the only justice rendered will be in the court of public opinion and karma.

    • The FKAA knows they have a better chance of keeping Dean on the board if they punt to the Governor’s office. The locals have little faith in the FKAA board and the ball tends to bounce their way in Tallahassee. I think Gov. Scott has done some very positive things. There is more transparency surrounding the funding of water quality projects. There are increased transparency requirements for special districts. Not to mention $100 million for Keys sewer projects. I think those actions show a strong commitment to open government and the environment.

      The voters passed a referendum in 2012 calling for an elected board for FKAA. There was overwhelming support – 70/30. Rep. Raschein introduced the bill and it died in the senate. Prior to that, Jeb Bush vetoed a similar bill introduced by Rep. Sorensen.

      There is a mountain of evidence demonstrating that Dean does NOT live in the District he represents. Will the governor’s office follow the evidence? Will they foster transparency on this issue as they have on other issues? Or will the FKAA get another “lucky bounce”?

      I’ll be watching with interest.

      Thanks, Blue Paper, for the excellent coverage. And Colby Fisher for all the document digging.

    • Colby,

      Have a look into the FKAA hiring a former local fire fighter last year that was arrested for wildlife violations that landed him in prison on felony charges which supposedly stemmed from approximately $200k in unlawful harvesting and sales of lobster. He was fired by the US Gov’t and hired by FKAA upon his release from federal prison and I believe he works in the middle keys as they probably want to hide him away up there. His name is Michael Kimbler. I googled the story of the arrest and it was quite interesting.

      Regards and good luck on your search for truth..

  5. You had to be in the meeting to understand.
    The Board listened to our comments – but did not hear.

  6. Excellent reporting, thank you! And bravo to Cara Higgins for having the heart to challenge such obvious corruption.

  7. Superb video coverage! Thank you for being there!

    One of the first things that caught my attention was that FKAA had quarantined emails that were sent by an individual to a Board member!
    I have long suspected that FKAA email is filtered to protect management.
    I have yet to hear of a response or even acknowledgment of receipt of an email sent by a ratepayer to a Board member.
    Kudos to Cara Higgins for having the moxie and integrity to question Bob Dean’s position on the FKAA Board!
    I also heard that Cara was at the deep well public meeting Thursday evening, although she left before it got really interesting and many voices were saying “We don’t trust you.” to FKAA. I also found it interesting that Bob Feldman was at that public meeting. Is that a first?
    And FINALLY a Board member is questioning the honesty of FKAA management, and has noticed that public trust went out the window about the time that FKAA executive management was changed. Now if the rest will break out of their trance…. there are FKAA executive heads that need to roll, and she even spoke some of the names. Did you see the hard swallows? Did you see Kerry Shelby wringing his hands in the video? He wasn’t even in the hot seat! Cara is a bright woman, and a real credit to the Board. Rick Scott got one appointment right- let’s see how he does with Wagner’s replacement. Frankly, I don’t expect much.

    • Halloween, you and I are on the same thought process. I sent the following email to FKAA yesterday:

      FKAA Board, Mr. Zuelch, and Mr. Feldman,

      At the 2:15 minute mark of the following video, FKAA commissioner Cara Higgins states that emails originating from me were quarantined from distribution to FKAA board members:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=16&v=7_P_wOXDfQ8

      I cannot believe that it is legal in the State of Florida to block lawful communications between a citizen and their local representatives and utilities staff. Do you perhaps have a court order granting that authority?

      In order to identify the person who ordered the quarantine and the supposed reason for that quarantine, I would like to initiate a public records request for all email communication from March 1, 2015 through the present date for all email both to and from the FKAA board and staff which contain either the word “Fisher” or “Colby.”

      As always, I would like to receive an acknowledgment of these requests. I understand that public records requests like mine are generally returned within two weeks. What is the estimated cost for the records? Since this request is for documents that are all electronic in their origin, I would prefer them to be delivered in that form.

      Best regards,
      Colby Fisher

      • I think the way it might work is that the Board does not receive emails from anyone but FKAA management until they are screened. I doubt that anyone on the Board ordered your emails quarantined. FKAA has an automated spam blocker that I think looks for the usual spam-blocked words like penis and Viagra and can be customized to include words and phrases like grinder pump, shallow well, Colby Fisher, Walt Drabinski, Banks, fraud, extortion, lie, mistrust, sleazy, malfeasance, scurvy dirtbag, etc. If the Executive director says to the IT manager, “I don’t want the Board receiving any emails with these very bad words in them”, then it shall be so. I think it is doubtful that you will find an email order to that effect.. FKAA management strives to keep everything verbal- for “plausible deniability” no doubt. Based on recent evidence, they also just ignore public records requests if they think they can, or they might put a big dollar figure on it like the Army Corps did when asked for copies of the electronic files they removed from a webpage that evidenced nonfeasance in the Cudjoe Regional wastewater project. .

  8. I hope that the quarratine did not happen, but if it did I hope a recently hired IT guy is not part of it. That would take ( bake ) the cake.

  9. Why am I knot surprised at more corruption in KW.
    And yes this is 100% FRAUD and he needs criminally charged. Perhaps some time behind bars and a hell of a huge fine.
    It matters not who questioned his residency and at question is his homestead as he has no legal right to it if he pretends to live in KW. Pretty stupid man if he did not think it out enough to use water LOL.

    • When I voted early yesterday in the Whitehead Street branch of the Supervisor of Elections office, I asked the Supervisor, Joyce Griffin, if she had any sense of how the Dean thing would play out? She said the city canvassing board will determine if Dean is qualified to vote in KW. I asked who was on the canvassing board. Joyce said Jimmy Weekley, Clayton Lopez (city commissioners) and Cheri Smith (the city clerk). I said I didn’t see them saying Dean can’t vote in Key West. I said it was the blue paper video that the apartment in the house Dean says he lives in only used maybe 100 gallons of water in a year, that’s about how many gallons are used in a day in a home. Joyce said there is evidence both ways, Dean has 3 electric bills for that house in his name. But does he sleep there, I asked? Joyce waffled on that, which surprised me, since she was quoted earlier as saying she asks people where they sleep, to determine where they live. She said there are many people in Truman Annex, who claim homestead there and vote in KW, who only live here a month or two a year. I gave up, perhaps my bad for not saying, go after them in Truman Annex, too, if the only reason they are claiming homestead here is to save real estate taxes, but they really live some place else.

      As I watched the blue paper video, and I observed Dean and all but Higgins’ faces, body language, demeanor, I felt like I was observing seasoned criminals who could care less what anyone thinks about them. Higgins was well prepared, she made them squirm inside, I imagine, but I don’t see our lady state attorney going after them. I felt when I observed her at candidate forums in 2012, and sometimes spoke briefly with her during breaks at the forums, that she would be a weak state attorney.

      Contrary to some people’s beliefs, I did practice law once upon a time, and I got to see really tough and really good prosecutors in action, federal and state prosecutors, in my hometown, Birmingham, Alabama.

  10. The Blue Paper coverage and this video are a big hit! I had a call from an excited FKAA employee (a long timer with no “connections” to Bubbaland) who is hoping maybe the FKAA can be turned around by Cara and some decent new appointments. .Employee morale is probably at an all time low at FKAA. My friend lamented how people “spit on the ground” now when they discover he works at FKAA. He says he tries to avoid stopping at the store on the way home in his FKAA shirt. Another told me he keeps a change of shirt in his truck for stops on the way home. These are “grunt” worker, with no say in any policy, like most employees there, but where people used to think well of him and his employment, now they view him with disdain and distrust just because they associate him with FKAA. I hope people will realize that just because a person works for FKAA, does not make them evil. Many of these employees are having easements extorted for a grinder pump in their yard by FKAA and cannot even complain much for fear of retaliatory action from FKAA management.

    • You make a great point about the people who keep the utility running day to day. FKAA has some very talented, very dedicated employees. They are negatively affected by all this, too.

  11. Until the Blue paper I must admit that KW seemed like a nice safe party town and had no idea of how much corruption was going on. Actually might assemble a book and publish it. Perhaps call it ” BEWARE OF KEY WEST CORRUPTION. Would be sure to have chapters for all the major KWPD murders, public strip searches, illegal use of public land ( dog lady ), pointing guns at 10 year olds , tasing for running stop signs on bikes , safety checks of employees working in schools that molest girls, cops that have live in girl friends young enough to be a daughter that work at strip clubs,a legal system that will not fire anyone for any misconduct and even let some hold offices that require residency. The only cure to fixing this corrupt town is getting the feds to come down and clean up the mess. Seems the tax payers don’t care. KW could be a perfect safe town. If tourists had any idea about the amount of corruption and safety many would find a safer place. Sometimes the only way to get attention is hurt them financially. Want to see property values drop fast ? Tourist are all you have for income. Without them you do not need 90% of the workers. Wake to hell up KW. We will not be investing any money in KW and are now looking at better choices to vacation at. Are plenty of beach towns that offer just as much. Only real one of a kind party you have is Fantasy Fest.

  12. JIMINKEYWEST, other readers, you’d think as good a job and service the blue paper does for Key West, it would be making a fair profit via satisfied reader contribuiton$$$, but it ain’t. Naja told me the other day what the blue paper netted during the past 12 months (2014 tax year), and it probably would not have paid for a long weekend here during Fantasy Fest, not counting transportation down here from wherever.