Dec 092016
 

southernmost-hous-wide-angle

by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….

You know things are bad when an attorney says to you, “I hate lawyers!”

“I do!  I truly do!” repeats Michael Halpern who is pacing in his law office above The Lazy Gecko Bar on Key West’s famous Duval Street.

What is one of the most feared attorneys in Key West losing sleep over? Being hunted by a billion-dollar corporation that he believes wants his hotel: the iconic Southernmost House. The “corporation” is Remington Lodging & Hospitality.

What we wanted to know is how the City and our Chief of Police and City Attorney ended up being sued by Remington’s team of lawyers for allegedly “conspiring with Mr. Halpern” to violate the civil rights of Remington’s Southernmost House general manager.  Here is the story:

Halpern has been desperately trying to fire Remington despite their 10-year management contract with 25 years “commitment.” “This is how they operate,“ says Mr. Halpern, “They never let you out. And all the while they are raking in the dough, abusing the employees and not taking care of your building!” Mr. Halpern falls back down in his chair. He claims that he has been giving Remington notice to no avail, “They simply keep filling more papers and motions and appeals. By the time this thing is litigated the contract will have expired.”

So, what is one supposed to do?

Well, according to the lawsuit filed last week by Remington’s lawyers, what Mr. Halpern elected to do was enter the hotel after midnight last Wednesday with a group of KWPD officers and forcibly eject Joseph Dantoni, Remington’s Southernmost House general manager, and his employees. When, the next day, Dantoni returned to the hotel and refused to leave he was arrested by city police and taken to jail for trespassing.

The lawsuit claims Mr. Halpern conspired with the Chief of Police and City Attorney, Shawn Smith, to violate Dantoni’s civil rights. Remington also claims that Mr. Halpern stole $277,582 from the hotel bank account and breached their management contract in bad faith while the matter of termination of the contract was still in the process of being litigated in state court.

In the federal complaint Remington argues that Halpern simply wants more money. In 2009, when Remington took over the Southernmost House, gross revenue was $90,498.           Remington has steadily brought the revenue up to $2,133,270 [2015]. As per the management contract Remington’s incentive fee has also gone up. It was over $342,000 last year [2015].

Remington acknowledges that Halpern kept complaining about the treatment of employees, even flying to California to talk to the President of the company. He apparently created quite a stir in this unprecedented “lecturing” of the CEO on the matter. “How presumptuous of me,” says Halpern, “Me, the peasant from Key West.”

“We can’t have these big companies make the law in Key West. Employees need to be treated well.  I’d rather make less money.”

As we are sitting in his office he pulls out a stack of presentation boards with blown-up photographs showing the lack of maintenance at the Southernmost House under Remington’s management. We are getting dizzy. Please Michael tell us you don’t intend to respond to accusations of false arrest and conspiracy with pictures of broken flower pots and peeling door paint. What people want to know is how you convinced the City Attorney to take your side and have that man arrested.

“Oh that’s simple. It’s just the law. Here, take this case law with you.”  And Michael Halpern hands us a stack of photocopies. “Knock yourselves out. I too thought I was stuck with Remington in my house. That’s how they get you. In fact, they might be able to sue you for breach of contract but they don’t have the right to force you to keep them on your property.”

We now have spent time reading those cases. It does appear that Mr. Halpern is not the first hotel owner to have ousted the management team in cowboy like fashion.

The courts have found that it’s not enough for a management contract to state that the manager has a (property) “interest “in the hotel. Mere words in a contract don’t create a property interest and without a property interest the manager has no right to remain against the owner’s will. The property interest must be real – not just words in a contract.

“Look it’s simple says the lawyer, “If you have a one year agreement with a maid service that doesn’t mean that the maid can force herself into your house after you’ve told her the deal is over. She might be able to sue you, but I tell you Remington is not going to sue me with my own money while I try to get them out of my hotel!”

BP: What about the money, Michael, that they say you stole?

MH: I did not steal their money. It is the hotel’s money and it is still exclusively used for the hotel’s operating expenses, I just switched it over to another account and now they can’t touch it.

BP: And those court cases are what convinced the city attorney? Is this ‘Duck Tour proof’? [In the Duck Tour case a federal jury awarded $13 Million against the City based on evidence that the City had arrested Duck Tour captains in order to put them out of business and protect competitor, Conch Tour Trains, owned by local businessman Ed Swift. The City eventually settled for $8 Million]

MH: That’s the case.

BP: Let’s hope it works.

MH: Let me ask you this:  Why do you think they are not maintaining the house? Why do you think a corporation with 9,000 hotel units uses all of its powers to fight over my 18-room house? Why?

BP: You think they want the house? It’s a trophy property?

MH: And a lot of ego. They are the big guys.

The civil rights case was filed last Friday in Federal Court. The state court case regarding the forcible ejection is due to be heard in Judge Koening’s courtroom next week.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

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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.


 December 9, 2016  Posted by at 1:24 am News  Add comments

  32 Responses to “SOUTHERNMOST FEUD: City Attorney and Police Chief Sued for Alleged Conspiracy”

  1. B-I-Z-A-R-R-E, says this ex- practicing attorney, who disbarred his own self a long, long time ago, in a universe far, far away.

    Michael Halpern owns the Southernmost House? His own self? Do I incorrectly recall that he was the trustee of the estate of a prominent local dead man, whose name I cannot now recall, who had owned the Southernmost House?

    Do I incorrectly recall shenanigans Halpern and the Southernmost House tried to pull on the city government, regarding increasing the number of guest rooms and fabricating new parking spaces clean out of thin air, which the city planning board approved, then got embarrassed at the city commission meeting set to rubber stamp Halpern’s designs, but a local architect, or land planner, or both, had the ill manners to prove there was no way in even fairytale land those new parking spaces existed, or ever would?

    Dang. If Halpern’s argument is correct, then the Hospital Board can call up Shawn Smith and Donie Lee on the telephone and have them all meet at the hospital and run off the management of the mega corporation that has a long lease to operate the hospital. Whew! The city don’t have to sue the mega-corporation to get rid of it, but only has to let Shawn defend the city when the mega-corporation sues the city and the hospital board, which has its own in-house attorney ready, willing and able to defend the board.

    Whatever, I find it kinda hilarious that Halpern, who has often used litigation to seriously screw up a whole lot of other people and corporations and the city government’s plans and dreams, now is howling about the mega corporation, apparently, which has the “lease” on the Southernmost House, wearing out Halpern with big law firm maneuvering and legal papers avalanches. It just brings me to tears for poor old Michael.

    But darn if I am not grateful for this new sport to watch play out. And for the copy cats, too. Gosh, how many situations do you figure exist in Key West, where somebody mad at somebody else is tickled pink to know they don’t need to hire Halpern, or any lawyer, to play let’s you and them fight. All they need do is go to city hall and the police station and tell Shawn Smith and Donie Lee to do for them what they did for Michael Halpern, and if they don’t do that, they they gonna get their asses sued in federal court, and they will get Michael Halpern to do it for them?

    I imagine there are more tasty morsels lurking in this cornucopia that ain’t woke up yet in my noggin’. If they do wake up, I’ll drop them into a p.s.

  2. Great start to the article…”You know things are bad when an attorney says to you, “I hate lawyers!” Hahahaha…Battle of the egos, for sure….I’m sorry, but I’m enjoying a wee bit of schadenfreude here..That being said, I’m rooting for the “littler” guy….

  3. Well, regardless of what you might think of this “peasant from Key West”, he has exercised his lawful rights…as a citizen, property owner and respected attorney. He properly sought and employed the legal mechanism to evict Mr. Dantoni and Remington from his legally-owned, properly-permitted and operated property.

    That there might be monetary damages is a matter for the civil courts to decide: Anybody can sue anybody else…for any reason. Based only upon what little we know of Mr. Halpern’s rationale here…I support his efforts. It appears that there was plenty of money extracted from this enterprise to go around. Yet, apparently…that didn’t happen. Mr. Halpern’s experiences with Remington management are acknowledged by Remington. He definitely had the right to raise concerns and to be respected for his efforts: Remington does have a checkered history in its dealings with other venues.

    This situation could hardly be compared with “Duck Tours”…a whole ‘nuther sack of worms. For what it’s worth…

    Dickford

  4. Dickford –

    Michael Halpern is the smartest, wiliest, shrewdest, or tied for it with Jim Hendrick, lawyer in Key West and the Florida Keys. The fear of Halpern lives in the hearts of many lawyers, judges, government officials down here in paradise pretend.

    Even so, I can’t imagine, why, if they did, Shawn Smith and Donie Lee let themselves be deputized by Halpern to lead his vigilante posse. What is the city’s interest in what happens at Southernmost House? A private business for profit.

    What was the city’s interest in telling its then city attorney to grind Duck Tours into dust? For Ed Swift, whose conch trains and Old Town trolleys would face competition from Duck Tours.After years of litigation, the city settled a case it often boasted it would not lose, for $8 million, or so. Jim Hendrick was aghast. Could not believe it, until I showed him the settlement options, some much higher, the mayor and city commissioners were provided by the then city attorney, Shawn Smith, as I recall.

    I know you are a lawyer, Dickford. Even so, knowing what I do of Halpern, if he sees a similarity between his himself-Southernmost House and Duck Tours, then maybe the city should be seeing a similarity between itself and Ed Swift-conch trains and Old Town Trolleys?

    Is Halpern-Southernmost House the sheep, or the wolf in sheep clothing? I don’t imagine Key West lawyers have ever, and never will, view Halpern as a sheep. Not if they actually practice law here.

    Based on this blue paper article, it looks to me Dantoni-Remington were hired by Halpern to resurrect Southernmost House from the near-dead, and their fee then was low, because it was based on revenues. But after the successful resurrection, perhaps beyond Halpern/Southernmost House’s wildest dreams successful, which jacked Dantoni-Remington’s performance-based fee sky high, Halpern-Southernmost House figured it could keep the revenues sky high without Dandoni-Remington, and save that sky-high fee..

    I imagine there is a cause of action under some legal theory for a government being deputized to dispense vigilante justice (aka Bubba Justice) for a private citizen in Key West.

    • sloan duck tours was a constitutional violation under the commerce clause if memory serves and an anti-trust charge under florida anti-trust act of 1980. city had liability under the constitutional section and injunction under the anti-trust. corporate defendants settled 2 days before the 2005 trial under the anti-trust section their only liability. city liability was under the commerce clause constitutional violation infringement. city attorney of the day was a diane coven who said the disparaging ‘shall i continue forward as per my previous plan and grind them into the dirt’ and the commission of it’s day gave full wink n nod to the coven grinder! just ask weakley who was on the commission of it’s day and then mayor as per the next commission again if my memory serves….if not I stand corrected. wjm

      • Yes, but I say again, the city crossed a line in Duck Tours case it should not have crossed, and now we have Remington and Dantoni saying Halpern swayed the city officials to bypass legal channels and give him what he wanted, which they way he was not entitled to get. That will be decided in court, or by settlement, not here at the blue paper. But it is a fine theater, as if the king asked his court jester to come up with some new sport to banish care, and then the jester leveled (as in demolished) himself, the King and his entire court.

        • Sloan, the “line” that the City crossed in the “Duck Tours” case is vastly different from this issue: They’re not related in any way.

          Dickford

          • In the old days, Dickford, they stoned prophets :-).

            Jimmy Weekley was mayor when he and the city commissioners told Diane Covan to continue grinding Duck Tours into dust. When Morgan McPherson ran against Jimmy in 2005, he showed up at candidate forms with a little yellow duck and quacked. To everyone’s surprise, including Morgan’s, he won.

            Just as to everyone’s surprise, Key West had lost the Duck Tours appeal, finally. And all left was a jury to decide the damages. Which Jimmy Weekley had said never would get to that point. As had the city attorney. As had lots of soothsayers down here here.

            Sorry, Dickford, i can’t wrap my mind around Donie Lee letting himself get roped into a civil dispute by Michael Halpern. Well, I can wrap my mind around it, actually. But not kindly to Donie, or the city government he works for. It reminds me all too much of the Robert Kurtko case.

            They way you have sprung, Dickford, to put wings on Michael Halpern, has caused me to wonder if there is more to your affection for, and defense of him, than you have yet told us. But then, perhaps you just have been admiring him from a distance.

            I sure as heck admire his lawyer skills, am jealous, envious. But this is something he has a personal financial stake in, so that means I’m viewing him like anyone else who has a personal financial stake in how something is going.

            And, I’m viewing the city government like it cannot be trust, which it has given me, and everyone living here, reason to believe.

            Why just before last Tuesday’s city commission meeting began, I got into a chat with City Commissioner Sam Kaufman and another person he was speaking with. Something came up that caused Sam to say his grandfather had always said you can’t trust the government. Is that ancient Jewish wisdom?, I asked Sam? He laughed, said, probably. I said, I can’t wait to quote him on that at goodmorningkeywest.com. He said, NOOOOOO!!!! I said, i would attribute it to his grandfather.

    • Dear Sloan,

      I understand and accept some of your comments: I have lived in the Keys as long as you have. Yes, I have been exposed to the many questions surrounding Mr. Halpern’s various dealings. Be that as it may, please note that such questions appear to have been adequately resolved…regardless of how those resolutions appeared to us heathens.

      I reject various of your characterizations, however: Duck Tours was a wholly different ball of wax. And, no Shawn Smith was not the city’s attorney at that time. Secondly, could the “fear” you claim that exists due to Mr. Halpern’s successes actually be respect for his apparent legerdemain? And, thirdly…I soundly reject your characterization of this incident as “vigilante justice”…on the part of the authorities. Shawn Smith is an officer of the court, I would remind you. He definitely is responsible to higher authorities. He knows that.
      Chief Lee is merely operating at the discretion of the City Attorney.

      Obviously, Mr. Halpern is no stranger in court. He also knows that this is where this deal is headed. Remington’s court filings were certainly not unexpected. But, they did overstep the bounds. IOW, the City responded to a need of a citizen in the best way they knew how. I would expect that. How about you?

      Dickford

      • Just one comment. Chief Lee is the final policymaker in the domain of use of police powers in the City’s jurisdiction. Shawn Smith was acting as an advisor – legal counsel to the Chief. The City’s liability comes into play due to the Chief’s and police officers’ actions – not the City Attorney’s. [Learned that the hard way when we got a letter from a [different] City Attorney many years ago telling us the “Position of the City of Key West” in its management of one of its properties. The Eleventh Circuit determined in our case that the City Attorney was not the final policymaker and could not invoke the liability of the City via that letter that took away some of our rights. This is irrelevant here – but just thought I’d try to correct the statement: “Chief Lee is merely operating at the discretion of the City Attorney.” If I understood correctly, the suit attempts a claim against the City Attorney because they say he personally “conspired” with Halpern and the Chief to violate the rights of the Plaintiff.

        • Something here is a bit wrong. Lee is a police chief and not qualified to make such a legal action with out legal advice. So is he now going to get the blame after he asked and received legal advice from the city lawyer ? If so then he might be in deep shit for his actions. I still am of opinion that a court order was required and if so Lee just might be getting the city sued again.
          The question might be why did Lee not tell Halpern to get a court order ? Lee could have refused to be bullied into this and will now pay the price.

        • Dear Editor,

          That’s an interesting response. Yet, I tend to believe that the City Attorney is the responsible authority in civil matters involving the City. And, yes…insofar as anyone knows, this remains a civil matter. I freely confess that I am not familiar with Florida laws on the subject, but…the City Attorney does seem to manage legal affairs on behalf of the City. What other useful purpose/authority would he have?

          Of course, the courts will ultimately decide…if this issue gets that far. Somehow…I think a deal will be worked out, though. Everybody is jockeying for position at present…that’s how it works.

          Thanks for your valuable input.

          Dickford

          • Here is what I am thinking happened. First off and very important to this case is that Remington did not lease or buy this property. So simply agreed to manage it. That will end in civil court as they were hired as management and to be paid according to certain terms.
            Management can always be fired regardless of any contract. Yes , might be costly to fire them and am sure the contract spelled that out. All Halpern did was fire Remington. He did not evict them because they are not a tenant. After firing Remington then yes Halpern could and did have them removed under trespassing laws. And if all the above is true then Lee did what he was required to do. Managers can be fired and happens every day. Note that Halpern changed the bank account. That could not been done if Halpern was not in charge. Did the city act illegally or not will be played out in court. If they did then yes will be paying. This breaks down to more than one simple lawsuit. Note it said Lee and the city are sued. A law suit on Halpern is a separate issue that is not connected. If Halpern is as smart as claimed to be then he crossed every T and dotted every I.

          • Sorry for not being clear. Halpern is also being sued in federal court.

          • It should be a fun story to follow. Yes anyone can sue anyone. Often cases are settled out of court. Halpern likely will owe Remington some amount of damages for cancellation of contract.. Often in the business world you can find yourself paying for mistakes. This could backfire on Remington if they wrongfully sue anyone. And at the same time there is a chance Remington wins. Am sure it will take over a year with such a complicated mess.

            I went back to reviewing the first article and did notice something when the Remington’s staff left the property. If all were staff I counted roughly 8 people leaving. This was after midnight and only a 14 room hotel. Is that not being far over staffed or am I missing something ?

          • Shawn Smith himself told me he advises KWPD on legal matters having to do with KWPD and what it does. I had up to then thought the city manager ran the police department, since the police chief works for the city manager, is hire by and fired by the city manager, I suppose with some input, or pressure, from the city attorney and the mayor and city commissioners.

      • If Lee can “evict” Remington and its agent Dantonni, who are in a civil contract dispute with Halpern, who alleges he does not like how they are running Southermost House, nor, I don’t imagine, the whopping fee they are making, which it might be they had some hand in earning by increasing revenues there substantially, then cannot Lee, looking out for the Hospital Board, “evict” CHS (is that the correct initials?), the mega-corporation operating our hospital not to suit many people here?

        Since I myself once was an “officer of the court,” I can say for a fact that being such does not guarantee proper, or smart, or wise, or legal behavior.

        One thing for sure, this skirmish will not be resolved in this blue paper debate, just as Duck Tours was not resolved in debates in the Key West Citizen and the Keynoter. The city officials were positive they would prevail in the Duck Tours case.

        I think Diane (Dianne?) Covan was the city attorney the city commission told to grind Duck Tours into dust, after she asked the commission if that’s what they wanted her to do. Later, Bob Teshenkel (spelling/?) was the city attorney. But by the time Duck Tours settled, I think Shawn Smith was the city attorney, who provided the spread sheet I obtained from the City Clerk’s office, showing the various jury verdict scenarios that might happen.

        Last night, further down in these comments, I posted a comment about Robert Krutko’s dealings with Michael Halpern and his Fury business associates and the city government. The Southernmost House squabble is a twikie compared to the Krutko case in the “Brothers Grim” sense, but unlike Krutko, who was just a small business man with very limited funds, Halpern’s adversaries in the Southernmost House squabble are well- heeled and don’t seem in the least cowed by Halpern.

        For me, it’s Halpern’s personal stake in this, not his reputation as a lawyer, that is in play. That, and he roped Donie Lee into a civil dispute, and I can’t imagine Lee was not told by Shawn Smith to side with Halpern. So, I really do hope Shawn has his feet on solid legal ground, because the alternative could be pretty rough. As we learned in the Duck Tours case, a local jury is not adverse to busting the city which has mistreated someone who is not part of the local “Establishment” – Empire might work just as well.

        • CHS has a LEASE. A lease is a property interest a management agreement (usually) is not considered a property interest. That is the issue in this case. Is it a simple service contract or is there a property interest. We’ll see what the Judges decide…

          • A lease is a contract, which can be breached, and thus terminated by a court.

            From your article:

            ~Halpern has been desperately trying to fire Remington despite their 10-year management contract with 25 years “commitment.” ~

            Meaning, Halpern knows its a contract dispute with a management company, and the contract gives the management company the right to be on the premises, managing Southernmost House until such time as a court determines otherwise, Remington surely is arguing, as would I make the same argument, if I were Remington’s lawyers.

            Until the courts adjudicate this, I’m certainly not willing to bet my life and my soul, nor even one penny, that Remington doesn’t have the right to be on the premises, managing Southernmost house. Might be Halpern came to same conclusion, so he went for another solution.

            Now, if Halpern can prove Remington and/or its agent Dantoni did or are doing something criminal at Southerbmost House, then that’s remedial by arresting the criminal(s) and putting them in jail and the state attorney prosecutes them pronto.

            Absent criminal activity, based on Halpern’s own reported comments in your article, this ex-lawyer personally thinks this twinkie is not the city’s, nor the police department’s, business. I also think this action by the police department has opened a wide door for copycat requests – sometimes referred to as UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

  5. Like I said on the last article, this all will depend on exactly what the contract agreed to.
    Only real issue I see here is the lack of court ordered eviction notice. Being this is not anyones residents it might not be required. Remington if I understand this was hired to manage the property. Managing and owning are not at all the same thing. Remington was basically and employee hired to do a job. They were fired. Yes very likely will be many court hearings before it is over. Remington might even win some dollar amount for loss of earnings and profits.

    As to if the city violated any laws we will soon know. From it’s past the tax payers need be concerned. Did Lee follow the law by having his men remove Remington by force ? If not get ready to pay out again. Most evictions require a court order from a judge.

  6. Are you a lawyer, Jiminkeywest?

    Just curious.

    Cause if the contract gave Remington right to be on premises, operating the hotel, then I don’t see how he can be stopped from doing that by the police, without a court first having voided the contract, which itself gave Halpern’s permission for Remington to be there.

    I am buffuddled thinking Shawn Smith told Donie Lee it was okay to use his police to remove Remington, unless Remington was committing a crime for which he could be arrested. And I do not see how he could be arrested for trespass, if he had Halpern’s permission in the contract to be there, running the hotel. Not legally arrested.

    But then, KW police are arresting homeless people for trespass right and left, even without property owners authorization and permission …

    • No , not a lawyer but far from a stranger to the legal system. Been to court many times. Good to see I am not alone on thinking a court order was needed to do this. As a landlord I must deal with evictions sometimes. But this is not about evicting a tenant. This is about hiring a manager to run a business. In this case seems the manager or and employees failed to do a job as required.
      So now what we seem to have is a CONTRACT to hire Remington to manage this property. Without seeing and reading the contract it is hard to say who had the right to do what. That is what judges are for. Understand we have little info available and not seen this contract. Questions arise as to did the city lawyer see this contract and if so did he have the authority to instruct Lee to send officers to do this eviction or was it even an eviction ? Remington seems to simply be a management company for hire and if so clearly states conditions. Usually contracts are one sided and benefit only one side. In this case it is the actual owner of Southernmost. They can hire anyone to over see the business. In this case Halpern. Lee as the police chief must rely on the city lawyer knowing the law. He might get burned in this deal before it is over. Seems rather unusual for cops to do something such as this without a court order.

      But we are talking KW here. In most cases to charge trespassing you need the owner / manager to get such an arrest and usually not until second warning. That second warning often is the cop.

      Mostly I read the BP as entertainment as it often is a good laugh because of it’s stupid legal system that is corrupt. The ending of this one is far from over. My guess at this time is KWPD probably acted outside of the law again. We can all guess but in the end it will be a judge.I hate lawyers and big corporations but love TRUMP . LOL

  7. I attended the first hearing before Judge Koenig, and interviewed an employee who quit because of Remington’s management. While you make light of the photos of damaged plants, my review of extensive evidence leads me to believe Remington has sorely mismanaged the Southernmost House. Revenues went up commensurately with other hotels in key West–2009 was the depth of the recession. They ran through good employees, leaving the remainder overworked, and customers underserved. There were dangerous errors concerning handling their precious liquor license.

    Yes, money and ego. But I trust the estimable Shawn Smith to have gotten this one right, and I believe Judge Koenig will not be wowed by the national lawyers for Remington. I’d like to see their millions of dollars in unearned fees NOT shipped north to Denver, but stay in the Keys. Check out Halpern’s generous charitable foundation.

    • I agree with your comments, Rick. I have no knowledge of Mr. Halpern’s dealings beyond what has been published (and “talked” about). That said, I believe that he is a ferocious contender for what is right…at least what is right in his own sphere. What’s wrong with that? As near as I can tell, he is conducting his business(es) legally.

      If Remington earned their fees, pay ’em! I have no difficulty with that. O course, we are not privy to THE contract. I’m sure that that will be played out in court (if this even gets that far).

      All that said, I simply do not buy the claim that, somehow, the City of Key West was improperly “used” here: That “influence-peddling” had much to do with anything. Additionally…I hope that Mr. Halpern succeeds, to the extent that he can.

      Dickford

      • Dickford, a fellow name Robert Krutko might have volumes to say in disagreement about Michael Halpern fighting for what is right. Briefly, Halpern somehow persuaded Judge David Audlin to issue a criminal contempt warrant for Krutko in a civil libel suit Halpern and other business associates in the Fury tour boat filed against Krutko for what he had put up online about Halpern and his associates. Basically, Krutko and his wife alleged Halpern and his associates and others who were drawn into it and the City of Key West put him and his wife’s tour boat out of business, so the Fury could get their boat’s favorable slip, parking places, etc. State Attorney Dennis Ward told him that when Judge Audlin asked him to enforce the contempt warrant, Dennis said it was not their fight, it was a civil case, they prosecute criminals. When Judge Audlin persisted, Ward said okay and put Mark Wilson on it.

        The extradition itself was gruesome; Krutko lived in Ohio, he fought it all the way; but he lost and was haule down here, nearly died in route, had to lay over in a jail infirmary or hospital in north Florida, under guard; then was brought on down to the Stock Island jail I wrote about it a few times at goodmorningkeywest.com. I became convinced Krutko told it mostly true, was another happy recipient of Bubba Justice, in Key West. I wrote that Audlin, Ward and Wilson should be put in prison for what they did to Krutko. Halpern initiated it. I told Ward he ought to have known better, if Halpern was behind it, to stay out of it.

        Not that I don’t have a healthy respect for Halpern’s legal ability, I do. But in the Krutko case he was personally involved, as he is in the case the blue paper reported. Halpern tried to pull the wool over the city’s eyes years ago, by claiming there were a lot more parking spaces at Southernmost House than there really are there, so he could rent out more rooms. I was at the city commission meeting when that was exposed and city staff was made to look really bad, as it seemed city staff had rubber stamped it.

        • Well, Sloan…I’m not here to litigate (or is it re-litigate?) the tangled mess known as the Krutko case. Just to re-acquaint myself with it, I salvaged Dennis Reeves Cooper’s exhaustive review of the facts. BTW, what is the current status of this case?

          Note that Mark Kohl was the SA initially involved in this affair. Note also that Mr. Halpern was NOT involved in the Pier House/Krutko imbroglio. He WAS involved in a separate case representing Fury Catamaran. And THAT case is what got Mr. Krutko jailed. As far as I can tell, the Fury case proceeded according to Hoyle. Judge Audlin’s decision(s) were affirmed by other courts.

          As you well know, in court somebody always loses: Krutko drew the short straw here. Frankly, he got what he worked so very hard at. I couldn’t have arrived at a more appropriate resolution if I were the court.

          That said, let’s stop throwing stuff up against the wall to see what sticks, eh? Bringing this baggage into the fray doesn’t help your “case” against Mr. Halpern. To be clear, I am no apologist for Mr. Halpern…I don’t even know the man. But, let’s stick with the facts, eh? The facts as they apply to the case at hand.

          Dickford

          • Dickford, I’m not throwing anything up against the wall. I’m disputing your repeated canonizing of Michael Halpern, er. St. Michael.

            You should read what I wrote at goodmorningkeywest.com and goodmorningfloridakeys.com about the Krutko case, AFTER Robert gave up on everyone else and came to me, and I got weary and sent him away, and he hammered me, and then the angels who run me hammered me for him, and then I took another look at his allegations, and what had been done to him by MICHALEL HALPERN, David Audlin, who certainly later got his well-deserved karmic comeuppance which caused him to resign, Dennis Ward, who then got beaten by Catherine Vogel, after I published that I could not support Dennis against her, because of what he and his top gun Mark Wilson did to Krutko.

            My goodness. Dickford. You are a lawyer. Have you ever head of a judge holding someone in a civil lawsuit in CRIMINAL CONTEMPT for not obeying a judge’s order? Audlin’s order for Krutko was to take down from the internet what he had published about Halpern and his associates at Fury. Some of which Krukto had control over and could have taken down, some of which he had no control over and could not take down, as the websites were owned by other people.

            CRIMINAL CONTEMPT was the only way to extradite Krukto back to Key West, according to what Mark Wilson himself told me. I was astounded the other courts went along with it.

            Be that as it may, the point is St. Michael put it all into motion and drove it, and it was over a default judgement, based on the Clerk of Court’s file, as it did not appear Krutko had made an appearance in the action, and he told me he never was served with it. Krutko, or his wife, who apparently was the legal owner of the business, had sued Fury and others pro se. Perhaps in that way he submitted to jurisdiction in Halpern’s lawsuit.

            Well, I’m saying right now, again, I concluded Krutko mostly told it true. The angels thought so, too,. Otherwise, they would have given me a pass when Krutko came back to me and I tried to beg off.

            I think about that, and about the parking space scam Halpern ran on the city, and I can’t help but wonder if the Southernmost House squabble is some kind of deja vue?

            Great theater.

            The Krutko case was not.

  8. I think that Halpern and Remington they each deserve the other! Only it is sad that Southernmost House is in the middle of all the mess.

  9. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

  10. Again, Sloan…I am NOT re-litigating Mr. Krutko’s case here. It has ZERO relevance to the case at hand. Nor, am I “canonizing” anybody.

    As you must know, Mr. Krutko was arrested on a federal CRIMINAL warrant…for his alleged actions on various web sites. ‘Nuff said? Read (very carefully) Dennis Reeves Cooper’s quite detailed recitation of the facts for particulars.

    Anyway…let’s focus on the facts…the few that we know…about the case under discussion, eh? Outside of that, I really don’t care who did what to whom in another situation.

    It’s my belief that this issue will be resolved long before it ever gets to court.

    Dickford

    Is it possible that Shawn Smith put the city at risk in this case? Anything is possible.

  11. Krutko made lots of allegations online. I happened to conclude most of them were true. See my comment submitted somewhere up above this morning, re our city commissioner Sam Kaufman telling me at last Tuesday’s city commission that his grandfather said don’t trust the government. 🙂