Ten Questions About The Charles Eimers Autopsy Report

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all believe that Charles Eimers’ death was just an accident – somehow the 61-year-old tourist was simply a ‘walking heart attack’ and when police tried to arrest him he stressed out and his heart gave up.

We have a few questions about the final autopsy report:

1.  What About The Civilian Witnesses?

Eimers’ “face was not forced into the sand,” wrote former Monroe County Medical Examiner, E. Hunt Sheuerman, “but, rather, as he struggled, his face moved back and forth across the sand.”

We know the Medical Examiners’ Report was signed on April 26th.  Of the many civilian witnesses we spoke to, only two were ever interviewed by FDLE and those two interviews took place in mid May, several weeks after the Medical Examiner had already signed his report. Continue reading

DO YOU THINK WE MIGHT HAVE A HOUSING CRISIS?

Affordable Housing Crises

942765_444707312315462_900435827_nIt is becoming very alarming how few rental properties there are, and how high priced they are. Landlords are becoming very unreliable, houses are going into foreclosure in high amounts. I know my landlord defaulted on 10 in the last two months. I know of at least 3-4 more that friends live in houses facing foreclosure. Now banks own a ton of properties. Then banks sell them to people, and those people tend to turn them into vacation rentals. Florida Keys have a housing CRISIS on their hands. What is going to happen when more Key West residents move out for lack of housing? Or way to expensive housing? People can barely live down here unless they have many roommates. I’m a mother, so I really can’t have roommates. Who can really afford to live here without roomates? People who own their house, military workers, those in low income housing where the state pays their bills and rent, people on vacation, and people who really don’t need to work. Key west needs people to work, not moving out because they can’t afford the first, last, and security totaling $ 6,000 -$ 10,000 just to move in and rent a place. At least most tourist destinations have worker housing that is truly affordable. Without workers, you have no tourist destination … Also speaking of tourist destinations, I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice, the economy is not the same as it was in 2005-2007. The money is slowing down quite a bit. Tourists are spending a lot more for rooms in hotels, and vacation houses like Truman Annex and such. They’re  staying and relaxing in their hotels more, spending less money on Duval St. and other fun activities. People are starting to take their vacations to other cheaper places. I hear it all the time. Last year’s Fantasy Fest had to be the worst ever. Just like Bike Week and this year’s St. Patrick’s Day. Key west is not getting what it used to in tourism. So if our wages are not as good as they used to be, and rent is getting higher, what is next? Exactly, people are leaving… What is Key West going to do?? Huge Crisis. I have put this on Facebook and have had a huge amount of responses.

Do you think Monica hit a chord?  Well, she sure did.  Have a look at the flood of Facebook responses (get comfy): Continue reading

New Witness Comes Forward: “The Police Just Killed A Man”

ISSUE 67 CBS EIMERS for web
Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers
Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

“I saw an officer kneeling in front of the man with a knee on his back and he was holding the man’s head down in the sand. The man had a reflex lift of legs once head pushed down.  One of the officers had placed a small black device on the man’s back after the lift of legs […] The female officer then started walking away from the scene, shaking her head.”  [See bystander video here.]

This statement was given this week by a tourist from Maryland [We’ll call her “M”] who was having breakfast at the Southernmost Beach Café last Thanksgiving Day.  The man she describes was Charles Eimers, who would soon die in police custody.  Continue reading

Homeless in Key West: Old Man Chapman, Captain Tilly, and Peter Pan

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

This is the first in a series of articles on affordable housing and homelessness in Key West and the Florida Keys.  We will try to look past the anti-homeless rhetoric burning through local media and show you what is really happening on the Keys housing front.

In future articles we will bring you points of view and solutions proposed by some of the most knowledgeable people on the Island. 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

PROTECTING THE COMMUNITY FROM NATURAL DISASTERS A Guide to Flood Insurance, Flood Mitigation and Wind Mitigation Programs

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Monroe County and the Florida Association of Counties are offering a FREE Wind and Flood Mitigation Workshop on Thursday, June 12th in Key West and Friday, June 13th in Key Largo. The workshops have been designed for homeowners, utilities, governments, developers and contractors, realtors, insurance agents, businesses, and homeowner & condo associations.

The workshop includes how recent changes to the National Flood Insurance Program will affect flood insurance rates in our cities and County, steps to lower flood insurance rates as well as wind and flood grant programs for residents, governments, commercial properties and homeowner developments. Continue reading

PROTECTING THE COMMUNITY FROM NATURAL DISASTERS A Guide to Flood Insurance, Flood Mitigation and Wind Mitigation Programs

firm logo

Monroe County and the Florida Association of Counties are offering a FREE Wind and Flood Mitigation Workshop on Thursday, June 12th in Key West and Friday, June 13th in Key Largo. The workshops have been designed for homeowners, utilities, governments, developers and contractors, realtors, insurance agents, businesses, and homeowner & condo associations.

The workshop includes how recent changes to the National Flood Insurance Program will affect flood insurance rates in our cities and County, steps to lower flood insurance rates as well as wind and flood grant programs for residents, governments, commercial properties and homeowner developments. Continue reading

Citizen Review Board May Investigate Use of Police Taser on Matthew Shaun Murphy Three Years Ago

It was early morning July 6, 2000.  In a dark alley in Key West, Officer Michael Beerbower had Daniel Holte Stambaugh, 22, handcuffed in the back of his police cruiser. Beerbower was on top of Stambaugh’s co-defendant Jessie Gene Gregory, 19, also handcuffed.  Other officers were standing watch.  When they yelled, “Clear!” (it meant that there were no witnesses) Beerbower would allegedly then go on, alternately punching Gregory and then Stambaugh in the face.

But that “private” police matter would come out in The Blue Paper and later in the New York Times. In spite of public indignation, the police department appeared unwilling to fire or even discipline any of the officers involved.   Public discontent grew into a grass roots movement to create an independent board overseeing the Key West Police Department.  A referendum passed with 60% in favor on November 2, 2002.   The CRB (Citizen Review Board) was born.

Today, over 10 years later, in the midst of another KWPD scandal (again getting national attention) some CRB members have begun to question whether the Board should wait any longer to start tackling the issues. Continue reading

‘It Started With a Drill’

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I learned early on what little is accomplished waiting for someone to do something for you, or even to help you. Consider this one of the gleaming pros to not having your parents around, and I do stress one. Now that I’m a mother myself, I can’t imagine my children grocery shopping for the family or taking taxis by themselves when they were nine years old. Not only did I do these things, but I also created my own income because my mother’s money never seemed to make it down to me.

This lifestyle brought forth my signature feistiness which kept me afloat throughout my youth. Even heavy decisions, such as taking a Greyhound bus from Florida to Indiana to attend college, weren’t an issue for me. Although my best childhood friend and I planned on attending the same school, she decided that she wanted to move to Florida at the last minute. I still went because, like her, I needed a change. Continue reading

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

LAW FOR SALE

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Issue 62 Rohe Cartoon Wolf Dreding

There it was, a 100’ long wooden dock, all ready for the sport fishing boats belonging to the owners of the eight new mansions nestled between the palm trees and the tropical flowers. The only problem was, no boats could get to the dock!  There was simply not enough water covering the seagrass bed surrounding Walker’s Island and the necessary dredging operation was strictly prohibited by the Monroe County code.

So, was that the end of it?  Well, not quite.  Beginning in 2010 savvy developers and their lawyers discovered a little-known loophole; a way around Monroe County’s tight environmental regulations. For a $ 5,000 application fee, a developer can write his own version of the law and, after proper lobbying, force the County Commission to vote on whether to reject or adopt his “Comprehensive Plan Text Amendment.”

Several County Commission members, including Commissioner Danny Kolhage and Mayor Sylvia Murphy, have expressed concern over the process and the amount of time expended by County staff on these private legislation projects. Continue reading

Wisteria Island: The King of Spain and Roger Bernstein

Wisteria Island

Finally, some movement in the Wisteria Island lawsuit.  It’s a hundred thousand dollar legal adaptation of

I own it

No, I own it

No, I own it

The controversy turns around what has become known as the “Navy’s claim.”  A 2010 attempt to build a large hotel complex, with private homes and a marina on Wisteria Island was shut down after The Blue Paper published a story revealing that Roger Bernstein might not be the true owner of the island.  The trouble began when we discovered a 1951 letter written by the US Navy claiming ownership of the island pursuant to an executive order of the President of the United States. Continue reading

Immediate Fallout Due To Controversial Vote On New Waste Management Contract

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

May 8, 2014

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

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

CBS Morning Show Probes Key West In-Custody Death

Issue 60 CBS photo
Issue 60 CBS photo

Treavor Eimers with CBS Correspondent Elaine Quijano and camera crew on South Beach [photo by Arnaud Girard]

The death of Charles Eimers while in the hands of Key West police officers is now getting national attention.   CBS investigators were in town this week researching the circumstances surrounding the death of Eimers, the apparent cover-up involving near cremation of the body before autopsy, destruction of evidence, lying to emergency medical personnel, and finally the shocking conflict of interest that is tainting FDLE’s investigation of the case:  FDLE’s top investigator in the Eimers case, Kathy Smith, is the ex-wife of KWPD Captain Scott Smith.

CBS flew in on Wednesday with Treavor Eimers, the victim’s son, and a full camera crew.  We sat with CBS Investigative Producer, the very charming, Megan Towey, for a two-hour lunch, and in the words of Mel Brooks, it must be ‘good to be the King!’  Apparently when these guys have an issue with obtaining records from FDLE they have the office of Pam Bondi, the Florida Attorney General, on speed dial and a lot of weight to throw around.  Not quite the same as being a Blue Paper reporter. Continue reading

TWAB, NOAA, Navy, Not Happy With Powerboat Race Contract / Could Cost Taxpayers Twenty Thousand a Year

SBI Parking Plan (Construction)

The Truman Waterfront Advisory Board (TWAB) may have stirred a hornets’ nest at its meeting on April 21st at at Old City Hall.

The seven-member board met solely to consider an agreement between the City of Key West and Super Boat International Productions, Inc.  a Florida for-profit corporation.   SBI produces and runs the City of Key West World Championship Race for powerboats held each year in November, just after Fantasy Fest.

TWAB was created by the City Commission/Naval Properties Local Redevelopment Authority in 2007. It was charged with making recommendations to the LRA on all matters relating to the Truman Waterfront.  TWAB is made up of seven citizens, each one appointed by one member of the City Commission.  All matters relating to the still largely vacant 33 acre parcel are, by City Commission direction, to be reviewed first by TWAB.  In some cases, when the matter being reviewed affects the portion of the land that is in the Bahama Village Redevelopment Area, or TIF District, those plans plans are also supposed to pass review by another Advisory Board, the Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee. Continue reading

Should Judges be Elected Or Appointed?

Justice Not Blind

In Florida, appeals judges and state Supreme Court judges are appointed by the governor from lists provided by a nominating committee. Circuit and County Court Judges are elected by the people. All you need to run for judge is a law degree. Some say that a judge is simply an attorney who has gotten a promotion– or, in some cases, a demotion if you consider income. But if you have ever appeared before a judge at any level, you know how powerful these people are. Thus the continuing debate over whether judges should be appointed by the governor or elected by the people. The question is timely since the seats of three of the four Circuit Court Judges here are up for grabs in the upcoming elections– Judges Mark Jones, Tegan Slaton and Luis Garcia.

Jones and Slaton have announced challengers. So far, Garcia does not, but candidates have until May 2 to qualify. Circuit Court Judge David Audlin is not up for reelection this year– but he has just announced that he is stepping down from the bench May 9 with four years left on his term. He has not said why. According to Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin, Audlin’s replacement will be selected by the governor, since his resignation date is too late for candidates to qualify for the July 26 primary election. None of the four County Court Judges here are up for reelection. Both District and County Judges serve six-year terms. Continue reading

THE EIMERS CASE: WITNESS INTIMIDATION?

There is now reason to believe that two plainclothes officers:  KWPD Detective Todd Stevens and another unknown officer, posing as FDLE investigators, deliberately intimidated eyewitnesses who were present during the violent arrest last November of 61-year-old Charles Eimers.

Anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the story of the tragically fatal Thanksgiving Day arrest on South Beach has heard the Chief of Police deflect questions over and over by saying that FDLE is conducting an independent investigation into the death of Eimers and will decide whether or not there was any wrongdoing,

“We’re waiting and we want answers just as bad as everyone else does.  As in any situation like this, once FDLE completes their investigation, we will do an internal affairs investigation to look into what happened,” says the Chief.

Last week, some four and a half months later, this ‘independent investigation’ by FDLE was called into question.  We published that, on the day of the altercation with police, KWPD Captain Scott Smith had called FDLE’s Kathy Smith, his ex-wife, about the mandatory FDLE investigation of Charles Eimers’ anticipated “in-custody-death”. Continue reading

IS THE USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE A PATTERN WITHIN THE KWPD?

Alleged use of excessive force by Key West cops has been the talk of the island since retired General Motors worker Charles Eimers, 61, died after a rough arrest last Thanksgiving Day on South Beach. But its not like this is the first time that “excessive force” and other police wrong-doing has been the topic of conversation here. For example, I went back and flipped through the headlines of just one year of back issues of Key West The Newspaper (the Blue Paper). Here are just a few of the stories we covered back in 2002.

First of all, it may come as a surprise to you that then-State Attorney Mark Kohl was in the midst of a sweeping investigation of the KWPD. Four officers had been arrested or forced to resign and another officer was trying to cut a probation deal to avoid charges. During a street brawl in front of Sloppy Joe’s in July 2000, witnesses said that several tourists were allegedly beaten up by police officers, but none of the cops on the scene could remember anything about any brawl. So Kohl, fed up with “blue amnesia,” charged a number of officers with knowingly falsifying arrest affidavits. Lying on official police documents. Sound familiar? Continue reading

Dive Into Coral Camp, Exploring Coral Reefs & Our Amazing Marine Environment

Coral Camp 2014 Registration is Open!  When school lets out, Coral Camp begins.  6-12 year old youths explore and learn about our surrounding marine environment through exciting education activities at the Reef Relief Environmental Center in Key West.  Each fun-packed day, campers experience hands-on-learning, interactive games and outdoor activities.  Activities include science and art projects in addition to exciting field trips around Key West.  Campers also experience three days of snorkeling. One day practicing their snorkeling skills and two days snorkeling at the reef.

Weekly sessions begin June 9th and go through August 15th.  Sessions are limited to 25 campers per session.  A limited number of scholarships are available to those whom qualify.  Coral Camp runs Monday through Friday from 8:30am- 4:30pm.  Camp fees are $ 215 for one week or $ 185 per week for multiple week sign ups.  Space is limited! Reserve a slot today!

Continue reading

Presenting Featured Artist: Sahara Graft

sahara

Sahara Graft, a diligent student and avid runner, spends the majority of her off time in the nature of Big Pine. Sahara finds greatest joy in observing the interactions between wildlife and in the way we, as people of the earth, interact with nature. Graft finds inspiration in her loving grandfather who has painted a path for Sahara’s artistic ability through his beautiful works of art and constant support. Her pictures depict a world where humans can live in nature without damaging its pristine beauty. Sahara is a senior in Ms. Shannon’s Advanced Placement Photography class at Key West High School.  Shannon will be attending the U.S. Naval Academy where she will study Chemistry.  Sahara intends to become a doctor.  Go to the full article to see more of Sahara’s beautiful work.

CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR ENLARGEMENTS

Ants Continue reading

Calling All Artists! It’s Time For The Fantasy Fest Poster Contest!

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Key West is ready to get animated, but Fantasy Fest® 2014 “Animeted Dreams & Adventures” needs you!  Dust off your sketch pencils, ready your mouse, and prepare your canvas for an animated take on Key West.  Bring your wildest dreams and adventures to life.  Kawaii!

The Fantasy Fest poster contest is your chance is to make history… and a thousand dollars!  Your design should combine elements of Key West with anime style, but go ahead and take inspiration from all forms of animation.

Submissions of all sizes will be accepted, but keep in mind the art must work on an 18” x 24” poster as well as T-shirts.  Don’t forget the art chosen will need to be vibrant enough for a poster, but chic enough to hang in your home.   All submissions must be received by Friday, June 20, 2014.  Artwork must be entirely original and will be the sole property of Fantasy Fest upon selection and payment to the winner.  For additional information regarding poster submissions or to download an application, please visit fantasyfest.com or call 305-296-1817.

Florida Keys Southernmost Car Club holds its monthly SHOW & SHINE, Saturday

Photo courtesy of Dick Moody

Photo courtesy of Dick Moody

The Florida Keys Southernmost Car Club (FKSCC) holds its monthly SHOW & SHINE this Saturday, April 19th, 5 pm till 8 pm. This event is for the lovers of classic, custom, and street rod automobiles and trucks of all years and makes. If it’s cool and on wheels it will be here.

The fun early evening event as always is at the Sugarloaf Lodge, on Sugarloaf Key. MM17. Prizes, 50/50 and cold beverages at the Tiki Bar are available. The Club’s sound system will provide 50′s and 60′s music. Bring the kids to enjoy these beautiful relics of the auto world. This is a FREE event.

Club members are seeking new members for a full schedule shows events. Join Saturday and get the new Club HAT! For more information contact Dick Moody at 305-942-1758.

TALKIN’ BASEBALL

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“I’m talkin’ baseball
Kluzewski, Campanella
The Man and Bobby Feller
The Scooter, the Barber, and the Newk
They knew ‘em all from Boston to Dubuque
Especially Willie, Mickey and the Duke”

“Talkin’ Baseball”
Terry Cashman, 1981

Major league baseball opened a new season a few weeks ago and opening day always takes my memory back to when I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma– when baseball was my life. I was the catcher on my neighborhood team and, on the weekends and all summer, all we did is play baseball. Most of us were 12 years old or thereabouts. I don’t recall that there was any announced schedule or even a regular location.

All I remember is that we played baseball every day that we didn’t have to go to school and, sometimes, we played into the evening until we couldn’t see the ball anymore. Sometimes we played as part of a youth league, but mostly not. When we were part of a league, we got a little coaching and maybe some matching t-shirts. And we didn’t have to supply our own equipment. But mostly we played “independent,” challenging other neighborhood teams. A problem with that was finding a place to play.

The Eimers Investigation: Shocking Link Between FDLE and KWPD

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

When Charles Eimers turned blue and lost consciousness while in the hands of Key West police officers on Thanksgiving morning, KWPD was informed immediately by Lower Keys Medical Center staff that Eimers would never leave the hospital.  Chief Lee decided to treat the case as a ‘death-in-custody situation’, which meant FDLE had to be called in to investigate.

Lee didn’t make the call himself, though; he asked one of his officers, Captain Scott Smith to do it.  Captain Smith did make the call and FDLE’s Chief investigator Kathy Smith took on the case. You might notice they have the same last name and think there’s some connection there, and well, you would be right.  On Thanksgiving morning after Charles Eimers virtually died on the beach, Captain Smith called his wife, his ex-wife, in fact, at FDLE.  Kathy Smith is now investigating the father of her child[ren].

What did he say?  How did KWPD report the circumstances of the arrest of Charles Eimers to FDLE?  This is something FDLE has obstinately refused to reveal, but we can make an educated guess.  They said:  ‘Charles Eimers got out of his car and proceeded to flee from the police while running on the beach away from law enforcement and Eimers collapsed.  Eimers was found without a pulse by police.  He was given CPR.  EMS was called.’ Continue reading

Dive Into Coral Camp, Exploring Coral Reefs & Our Amazing Marine Environment

Coral Camp 2014 Registration is Open!  When school lets out, Coral Camp begins.  6-12 year old youths explore and learn about our surrounding marine environment through exciting education activities at the Reef Relief Environmental Center in Key West.  Each fun-packed day, campers experience hands-on-learning, interactive games and outdoor activities.  Activities include science and art projects in addition to exciting field trips around Key West.  Campers also experience three days of snorkeling. One day practicing their snorkeling skills and two days snorkeling at the reef.

Weekly sessions begin June 9th and go through August 15th.  Sessions are limited to 25 campers per session.  A limited number of scholarships are available to those whom qualify.  Coral Camp runs Monday through Friday from 8:30am- 4:30pm.  Camp fees are $ 215 for one week or $ 185 per week for multiple week sign ups.  Space is limited! Reserve a slot today!

Sponsors for Coral Camp 2014 include:  Sebago Water Sports, Key West Aquarium, Eaton Bikes, Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, Key West Wildlife Center, Fury Water Adventures, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Zenscapes, Pirate Scooter, Salute on the Beach, Tom Sawyer’s Keyboard Advertising Specialties, Reef Safe Sunscreen, Island Bicycles, Blue Heaven, Holtkamp Construction, Key West Trim Works, Olsen Drafting Services, Seaport Realtors, Fausto’s Food Palace, Danger Charters, Vino’s on Duval, Key West Cakes, Tattoo’s and Scars, Pilates Studio, Isle Style, Firefly.

For more information about sponsoring a scholarship or to register call Reef Relief at 305-294-3100 or email reefrelief@gmail.com.  Download registration forms at http://reefrelief.org/coral-camp-2014/

Reef Relief is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to improving and protecting our coral reef ecosystem.

Hometown! PAC Announces Call for Candidates Event

Salute Forum 2009

Salute Forum 2009

Key West, 21 April 2014:  Hometown! ‘s “Call for Candidates” Event at Salute Restaurant, Higgs Beach at 5 p.m.

Dear Members, Prospective Members of Hometown PAC, and all Candidates, Prospective Candidates and Those Merely Testing the Waters:

Please join us on Monday, April 21, 2014, when Key West’s Hometown! will present declared and potential candidates for the upcoming elections. The event will be held at Salute Restaurant, Higgs Beach, starting with a social portion at 5:00 p.m. Candidates, declared or potential, will introduce themselves and make short presentations, beginning at 5:30 pm. All candidates are encouraged to come early and bring with them petitions for voters to sign, campaign literature, buttons, T-shirts and other items relating to their campaign. Please bring your own tables for your campaign items.

For those who cannot attend the Call for Candidates, FloridaKeys.com will be streaming the event live as well as recording the event for later viewing.   You can watch the live event by going to www.hometownkeywest.com.  After the event, the recorded video will be posted to the Hometown Key West YouTube channel and will remain available on the same YouTube channel throughout the campaign” season. Continue reading

LOVE LANE GANG! They’re Just Plain Fun!

Love Lane Gang 2014020901

The Love Lane Gang is a locals band that knocks the socks off tourists and locals alike.They play music that spans generations as well as embodies them. With an age range among the members of over thirty years, they bring a wide variety of experience and musical tastes to bear..They’ve brought back skiffle and updated it for the present.

The emphasis is on ragtime and swing: classics from the 1930s and 1940s, done in a refreshing new style that incorporates the Hot Club approach with island flourishes. Dust Bowl ballads, old school country from Hank Williams and Dolly Parton, rockabilly and surf music classics and little-known gems, tunes from Sixties stars like The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones, and carefully chosen songs from current artists like Andrew Bird, Mason Jennings, and The White Stripes all fit in alongside original songs that sound like they could have come from any of those eras.

Offbeat instrumentation, including mandolin, ukulele, accordion, banjo, washboard, and a kazoo horn section, added to familiar guitar, bass, and harmonica, creates a broad musical palette which they use to color their performances.

But you needn’t pay too much mind to all that serious musical analysis – they’re just plain fun!

Their regular gigs are at McConnell’s Irish Pub And Grill on Fridays at 8 PM, and Saluté On The Beach on Sundays at 5:30 PM. And there is a rumor they will be at the pro-legalization rally at Mallory Square Sunday 4/20.

Scheduled Appearances for the rest of April [NOTE:  Salute now Sundays 5:30 to 8:30]: Continue reading

The Dumbshine State

Solar panels being installed on house in Marathon

A rally last week in Tallahassee was staged to encourage solar energy development in Florida. Fortunately it became political because otherwise the mainstream media might not have covered it. Organizers used the event to accuse Gov. Rick Scott of blocking solar energy initiatives in the state at the behest of the big power companies.

Because Scott’s election-year rival, former Gov. Charlie Crist, attended the rally, the media paid some attention.

What should have made bigger news is how the state has placed its legislative thumb firmly on the development of renewable power. Florida has the third-largest potential for rooftop solar generation in the nation but ranks 18th in solar installations.

KEYS, which delivers power west of the Seven Mile Bridge, illustrates what is typical for the rest of the state. Look at information provided by KEYS spokesperson Lynne Tejeda about the sources of the utilities power. Continue reading

IN CASE YOU MISSED THIS BREAKING NEWS STORY PUBLISHED LATE ON APRIL 11th: CHARLES EIMERS FAMILY FILES SUIT IN FEDERAL COURT

Charles Eimers’ children have grown tired of waiting for answers from FDLE.

They asked their lawyers David Paul Horan and Darren Horan to file a suit for wrongful death against the City of Key West and 12 police officers involved in the arrest of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving morning.  The arrest resulted in a coma and death a week later when Charles Eimers was removed from life support at Lower Keys Medical Center.

The lawsuit, filed this morning in U.S. District Court, alleges that officers Gabriel Humberto Garrido, Gustavo Adolpho Medina, Kathyann Wanciak, Gary Lee Lovette, Mathew Johnson, Francisco Zamora, Thaddeus Calvert, Derek Wallis, Nicholas Galbo, Janeth Calvert, Pablo Rodriguez, and Todd Stevens used excessive force in arresting Charles Eimers.  They have also sued the City of Key West for having a custom or policy that allows police officers to use the prone restraint technique on the beach. Continue reading

What Part of “No” Does Crane Point Not Get?

No zipline

Last week’s announcement that the Crane Point Nature Center would back away from a $ 727,000 federal grant via the city of Marathon and also give up a height variance allowing towers higher than what Marathon normally allows had opponents of the proposed zip-line attraction cheering.

Lost in the celebration, however, was Crane Point board member Norval Smith’s announcement that the board would pursue building a zip line on their own. The initial more limited plan includes eight towers, three zip lines and sky walks. It’s difficult to fathom the depth of the organization’s obtuseness and inability to look reality in the face. Continue reading

CHARLES EIMERS FAMILY FILES SUIT IN FEDERAL COURT

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers’ children have grown tired of waiting for answers from FDLE.

They asked their lawyers David Paul Horan and Darren Horan to file a suit for wrongful death against the City of Key West and 12 police officers involved in the arrest of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving morning.  The arrest resulted in a coma and death a week later when Charles Eimers was removed from life support at Lower Keys Medical Center.

The lawsuit, filed this morning in U.S. District Court, alleges that officers Gabriel Humberto Garrido, Gustavo Adolpho Medina, Kathyann Wanciak, Gary Lee Lovette, Mathew Johnson, Francisco Zamora, Thaddeus Calvert, Derek Wallis, Nicholas Galbo, Janeth Calvert, Pablo Rodriguez, and Todd Stevens used excessive force in arresting Charles Eimers.  They have also sued the City of Key West for having a custom or policy that allows police officers to use the prone restraint technique on the beach. Continue reading

Congressman Garcia’s Statement On Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan

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Today [April 10, 2014], the House of Representatives voted on the budget introduced by Republican Paul Ryan last week. The budget makes drastic and unreasonable cuts to education, Medicare, and many other critical programs so many of our nation’s citizens depend on.

“Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is a reckless and irresponsible vision that fails our citizens. It places priorities in all the wrong places, making cuts to programs like Medicare, for example, completely disregarding the needs of our nation. The proposed budget would cut billions out of Medicare, re-open the prescription drug donut hole and turn Medicare into a voucher program. Instead of supporting and protecting our nation’s elders, the Ryan budget chooses to implement policies that place severe financial burdens on seniors by shifting costs onto them, eliminating critical care programs, and making affordable health care a thing of the past. I oppose this budget and will continue to fight its irresponsible cuts to Medicare. ”

During today’s vote, Congressman Garcia voted against the Ryan budget plan.

LOVE LANE GANG! They’re Just Plain Fun!

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The Love Lane Gang is a locals band that knocks the socks off tourists and locals alike.They play music that spans generations as well as embodies them. With an age range among the members of over thirty years, they bring a wide variety of experience and musical tastes to bear..They’ve brought back skiffle and updated it for the present.

The emphasis is on ragtime and swing: classics from the 1930s and 1940s, done in a refreshing new style that incorporates the Hot Club approach with island flourishes. Dust Bowl ballads, old school country from Hank Williams and Dolly Parton, rockabilly and surf music classics and little-known gems, tunes from Sixties stars like The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones, and carefully chosen songs from current artists like Andrew Bird, Mason Jennings, and The White Stripes all fit in alongside original songs that sound like they could have come from any of those eras.

Offbeat instrumentation, including mandolin, ukulele, accordion, banjo, washboard, and a kazoo horn section, added to familiar guitar, bass, and harmonica, creates a broad musical palette which they use to color their performances.

But you needn’t pay too much mind to all that serious musical analysis – they’re just plain fun!

Their regular gigs are at McConnell’s Irish Pub And Grill on Fridays at 8 PM, and Saluté On The Beach on Sundays at 6:30 PM. And tonight they’re at The Green Parrot!

Scheduled Appearances:

Continue reading

Community Craft & Yard Sale on Saturday, April 12 at Montessori Children’s School

MCS

Montessori Children’s School of Key West will host a Community Craft and Yard Sale on Saturday, April 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its campus located at 1221 Varela St. in Key West.

Local vendors will be set up to sell beautiful art, handmade crafts and yard sale items. Fun activities on our playground such as face painting, games and crafts will be available to keep the children busy while you shop. Bring the whole family!

Booth space to sell your own items is available for $ 30. For more information, call 305-294-5302.

Proceeds benefit Montessori Children’s School of Key West, a local non-profit school serving children from 18 months through kindergarten.

About Montessori Children’s School of Key West

Montessori Children’s School of Key West, founded in 1972, is a non-profit, parent-based corporation serving children ages 18 months through kindergarten located at 1221 Varela Street in Key West. LIC# C16MO0028

Hometown! PAC Announces Call for Candidates Event

Salute Forum 2009

Salute Forum 2009

Key West, 21 April 2014:  Hometown! ‘s “Call for Candidates” Event at Salute Restaurant, Higgs Beach at 5 p.m.

Dear Members, Prospective Members of Hometown PAC, and all Candidates, Prospective Candidates and Those Merely Testing the Waters:

Please join us on Monday, April 21, 2014, when Key West’s Hometown! will present declared and potential candidates for the upcoming elections. The event will be held at Salute Restaurant, Higgs Beach, starting with a social portion at 5:00 p.m. Candidates, declared or potential, will introduce themselves and make short presentations, beginning at 5:30 pm. All candidates are encouraged to come early and bring with them petitions for voters to sign, campaign literature, buttons, T-shirts and other items relating to their campaign. Please bring your own tables for your campaign items.

For those who cannot attend the Call for Candidates, FloridaKeys.com will be streaming the event live as well as recording the event for later viewing.   You can watch the live event by going to www.hometownkeywest.com.  After the event, the recorded video will be posted to the Hometown Key West YouTube channel and will remain available on the same YouTube channel throughout the campaign” season. Continue reading

Calling All Artists!

canstockphoto6100908

Key West is ready to get animated, but Fantasy Fest® 2014 “Animeted Dreams & Adventures” needs you!  Dust off your sketch pencils, ready your mouse, and prepare your canvas for an animated take on Key West.  Bring your wildest dreams and adventures to life.  Kawaii!

The Fantasy Fest poster contest is your chance is to make history… and a thousand dollars!  Your design should combine elements of Key West with anime style, but go ahead and take inspiration from all forms of animation.

Submissions of all sizes will be accepted, but keep in mind the art must work on an 18” x 24” poster as well as T-shirts.  Don’t forget the art chosen will need to be vibrant enough for a poster, but chic enough to hang in your home.   All submissions must be received by Friday, June 20, 2014.  Artwork must be entirely original and will be the sole property of Fantasy Fest upon selection and payment to the winner.  For additional information regarding poster submissions or to download an application, please visit fantasyfest.com or call 305-296-1817.

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

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN PRACTICED ADVOCACY JOURNALISM

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Benjamin Franklin has got to be a role model for anyone who makes or has made his or her living as a publisher. We all learned about Benjamin Franklin in school– the statesman, diplomat, scientist, inventor and a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But he started as a printer and a publisher.

At the age of 12, Ben became an apprentice to his brother James, a Boston printer, and learned the printing trade. Three years later, in 1721, James Franklin founded the New England Courant, the first truly independent newspaper in the colonies. Back then, logically, printers also often became publishers. They had the presses, paper and ink. But newspaper publishing was a risky business for printers. Printers had to be licensed by the British government– and printer/publishers who dared to offend the government could quickly find themselves not only de-licensed, but also jailed. And that is exactly what happened to James Franklin. Keep in mind that, before the creation of the United States of America, there was no freedom of the press. Continue reading

BOATER SEWAGE PUMPOUT: Audit Shows Monroe County Spent 85% More Than Bargained For Last Year

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Cartoon by Richard [Tuna] Rohe

Boaters in Monroe County pay 50% more to register their boats than boaters in most other Florida counties. Almost all of this extra 50% coming from the more than 22,000 registered boaters in Monroe County is currently spent to provide free pump-out service to at most 500 boaters.

Fishing, diving, cruising the waters of the Florida Keys is what it’s all about.  Those turquoise waters are our only true luxury.  But owning a boat in the Keys is not cheap. Marina dockage can cost as much as an apartment and then there is the registration tax.  In Monroe County an average 26’ runabout costs about $ 125 to register per year and it can cost as much as $ 350 a year to register a 110 foot commercial boat. The extra 50% collected from Monroe County boaters creates revenue of about $ 400,000/year. Almost all of it, $ 340,000, is currently being used to pay a private company to provide free sewage pump-out  to offshore boaters – with a price tag of nearly $ 64.00 per pump out. Continue reading

Legal Struggles For ‘Captain Tilly’ and His Sunken Tug Boat


“This is a Franz Kafka movie here,” says Stephen Freer.  Navigating the legal system may have turned as treacherous for Freer as the seas he was rescued from when he was abandoned miles offshore on a sinking tugboat named “Tilly”.

Freer stands accused by FWC of having, on February 21st, “caused” Tug Tilly to be towed to sea where he abandoned it and where it sank about a week later during a storm.

When The Blue Paper caught up with him for his big “trial” at a Monroe County courthouse on Wednesday morning, we found him at the end of a lonely corridor talking into the wall through an interphone.  There was no window or glass, just a silver phone with a wire coming out of the concrete wall and a short list of phone numbers.

Freer one Continue reading

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

Community Craft & Yard Sale on Saturday, April 12 at Montessori Children’s School

MCS

Montessori Children’s School of Key West will host a Community Craft and Yard Sale on Saturday, April 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its campus located at 1221 Varela St. in Key West.

Local vendors will be set up to sell beautiful art, handmade crafts and yard sale items. Fun activities on our playground such as face painting, games and crafts will be available to keep the children busy while you shop. Bring the whole family!

Booth space to sell your own items is available for $ 30. For more information, call 305-294-5302.

Proceeds benefit Montessori Children’s School of Key West, a local non-profit school serving children from 18 months through kindergarten.

About Montessori Children’s School of Key West

Montessori Children’s School of Key West, founded in 1972, is a non-profit, parent-based corporation serving children ages 18 months through kindergarten located at 1221 Varela Street in Key West. LIC# C16MO0028

SAVE THE DATE! APRIL 21, 2014: Hometown!’s “Call for Candidates” Event at Salute Restaurant, Higgs Beach at 5 p.m.

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Photo: Hometown PAC event Salute 2010

Hometown! PAC Announces Call for Candidates Event

Dear Members, Prospective Members of Hometown PAC, and all Candidates, Prospective Candidates and Those Merely Testing the Waters:

Please join us on Monday, April 21, 2014, when Key West’s Hometown! will present declared and potential candidates for the upcoming elections. The event will be held at Salute Restaurant, Higgs Beach, starting with a social portion at 5:00 p.m. Candidates, declared or potential, will introduce themselves and make short presentations, beginning at 5:30 pm. All candidates are encouraged to come early and bring with them petitions for voters to sign, campaign literature, buttons, T-shirts and other items relating to their campaign. Please bring your own tables for your campaign items. Continue reading

Presenting Featured Artist Fran Decker

Fran at KWAC with Roof Top Cafe painting

Fran at Key West Art Center with Roof Top Cafe painting

Fran Decker’s colorful acrylic paintings capture the flavor of the Florida Keys.  Fran is a Plein Air painter, meaning she likes to paint on site, sitting in front of her subject matter.  Fran feels this helps her incorporate something special and indefineable, the essence of the scene, into her painting.  Fran paints a variety of subjects, from conch houses and Key West scenes to land and seascapes, flora and fauna and anything else that catches her eye.  Fran’s paintings reflect her favorite things about the Keys.

Fran painted her first ‘good” painting at age 12 Continue reading

Crane Point Points Fingers

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When the Department of Economic Opportunity, source of a $ 727,000 Community Development Block Grant to Marathon for the construction of a zip-line course at the Crane Point Nature Center, asked for justification for Crane Point’s delinquency in submitting two required and very late documents, board chair Jeff Smith wrote, “The delays are attributed to third party appellant actions regarding the Administrative Height Variance issued by the City’s Planning Director.”

Not exactly.

What Smith neglects to say is that the tardy environmental assessment was due to DEO in March 2013, and the wage decision request in June 2013. The appeal of the decision by Planning Director George Garrett to allow 46.25-foot high towers – nearly ten feet higher than Marathon allows – began in July 2013, well after Crane Point’s deadlines.

But the problems didn’t begin in 2013 or even 2014. Continue reading

Anatomy of a Cover-Up

According to new information obtained by The Blue Paper, KWPD officers covered up the true circumstances surrounding Charles Eimers’ death. This could have sent paramedics on the wrong path and might even have jeoparidized Eimers’ chances of survival.

For Charles Eimers, it was the first day of a new life.  He had finally retired after 30 + years working in an auto manufacturing plant in Michigan.  With a full pension and medical he was going to spend a winter in sunny Key West.

“He wanted to take it easy, maybe volunteer for some charities.  That’s the kind of guy he was, he would have given the shirt off his back,” says Eimers’ daughter Erica Garcia.

But none of that was going to happen; no visits from the grandkids or relaxing days at the beach.   By the end of his first day – Thanksgiving Day – 61 year old Charles Eimers, mistaken for a homeless man, would mysteriously fall into a coma while in the hands of Key West’s finest.  He would die a week later after being taken off life support at Lower Keys Medical Center (LKMC). Continue reading

$11.3 Million in Property Taxes? Not Yet!

moneyThe long awaited ruling on Balfour Beatty’s $ 11.3 Million property tax suit is finally in.  Judge Audlin ruled in favor of the giant British conglomerate’s subsidiary, Southeast Housing LLC.  The company has not paid any property taxes on hundreds of units of privatized military housing it has owned in Key West since 2007. The ruling grants the company a full and retroactive property tax exemption.  The Order was immediately appealed by Monroe County’s property appraiser Scott Russel.

In sum, Audlin’s ruling states that:

  1. Back taxes are not permitted where the property appraiser had changed his mind after informally granting an opinion on future exemption status in 2007.
  2. Federal and State law prohibit taxation of US government owned property.
  3. Even if Southeast Housing LLC is the titled owner of some 890 units of housing in Key West, the true owner for tax purposes is the US government, which is tax exempt.

The Judge concludes that the county and city must reimburse Southeast Housing for taxes previously paid “under protest” for the Peary Court property last year just prior to its sale and that the company should enjoy a full tax exemption going forward. Continue reading

Congressman Joe Garcia Joins Fellow House Members Urging Administration to Protect Medicare Advantage for Seniors

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Washington, DC – As part of his efforts to protect Medicare, Congressman Joe Garcia spoke on the House floor yesterday afternoon in strong opposition to the administration’s proposed cuts to Medicare. On April 7th, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is scheduled to release their final rule on payment rates for Medicare Advantage. Over the past few weeks Rep. Garcia has spoken with the President personally to communicate his strong support for the program, as well as his strong opposition to any proposed cuts by CMS.  Earlier in the week, Congressman Garcia also met with top level officials expressing his concerns over the cuts to these vital services, urging them to find alternative solutions in an effort to protect our seniors.

Additionally, Garcia has worked with Colleagues on both sides of the aisle, issuing a letter (text below) to the administration, urging the same.

“For half a century, Medicare has lifted millions of seniors out of poverty and provided them with the health care they need and deserve,” expressed Garcia. “It is our responsibility to strengthen and modernize Medicare to ensure that it continues to provide our nation’s seniors – who have rightfully earned their benefits – the high quality care they depend on.” Continue reading

ONLY THREE MORE SHOWS LEFT! “Conchs, Cowboys and Tales of Old Key West!” at the Red Barn

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“Conchs, Cowboys and Tales of Old Key West!” returns to Red Barn Theatre ONLY THREE MORE SHOWS! The Made In Key West Band rocks a musical night and plugs in legends of the southernmost island into the bargain. This engaging evening of incredible music & song is back by popular demand – but only three shows left—April 13, 14, 21!

John Wells directs the hometown Made in Key West Band through a foot-tapping collection of country, cowboy, folk rock and blues music including original compositions about the unbelievable characters in Key West history.  The intimate nature of the Red Barn Theatre coupled with the easy going humor and skilled musicianship of the band makes a cozy and entertaining night.

Gary McDonald, George Halloran, Tom Murtha and music legend Paul Cotton, of the seminal seventies band Poco join Wells onstage. Cotton performs his magical tribute to New Orleans “The Heart of the Night” as well as Poco’s cover of J.J. Cale’s “Cajun Moon.” Wells and Murtha, comprising The John Wells Delegation, opened for Poco at the Baltmore Civic Center in 1975. The ensuing friendship and performance experience ultimately led to the Red Barn Stage for the ever popular “Conchs, Cowboys and Tales of Old Key West.”  A good percentage of the audience are friends and long-time fans of the group, so there is a warm and enthusiastic atmosphere.

Special guests for the show will be Camille Russo Toler, doing a Stephen Foster duet with Wells, and Island Alex Ocinczyc,  performing his “Southernmost Song” from his musical about Key West.

“Conchs, Cowboys and Tales of Old Key West” runs to April 21 at the Red Barn Theatre, 319 Duval Street, Rear. Contact the Red Barn box office for tickets and more information: www. redbarntheatre.com or 305-296-9911.

CLYBOURNE PARK –POLITICALLY INCORRECT

Dave Bootle and Matt Hollis Hulsey  Photo by Roberta DePiero

Dave Bootle and Matt Hollis Hulsey Photo by Roberta DePiero

CLYBOURNE PARK, written by Bruce Norris and directed by Carole MacCartee at Red Barn Theatre, raises the bar on politically incorrect wit.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning dialogue wades deeply into the morass of race, mental challenges, handicapped issues and family and community dynamics, trading each groan for a laugh.  Audiences gasp before bursting in laughter at the rapid fire references.

The format of the show has each actor playing two roles – one in each scene set 50 years apart (1959 and the present).  The action follows two separate sales of the same house that trigger different perspectives on white flight and gentrification.

J. Kelly Nestruck called it “A nasty and brilliant comedy” in the Globe and Mail.

The squabbles and attempts to backpeddle from gaffs have the cast delivering lines like a song sung in rounds.

The Tony Award winning play resonates and also leaves the audience wondering “What the devil is the capitol of Morroco.”

Director Carole MacCartee deftly molds the actors — Dave Bootle, Nicole Nurenberg, Amber McDonald Good, Chris Tittel, Tish Williams, Mook J and Matt Hollis Hulsey.

Tickets are selling fast. Call Red Barn Box Office at 305-296-9911 or go to www.redbarntheatre.com for tickets.

Talk to the box office about group prices and the very special “Dinner and a Show” with special menus at the Pier House and The Hard Rock Cafe.

Caribbean Country Blues Master C W Colt and Honky Tonk Queen of Louisiana Kim Carson In Key West April 10th – 14th

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C W Colt known as The Caribbean Country Blues Master is teaming up with The Honky Tonk Queen  of Louisiana Kim Carson to do several shows in Key West and one show at the Looe Key Tiki Bar .  The shows will start April 10 at The Hogfish Bar and Grill on Stock Island and an afternoon show will be April 11th at The Two Friends Bar on Front St starting at 11:30 am followed by another show at The Hogfish Friday at 7pm. On Monday the 14th they will perform at The Ocean Key Resort on the Sunset Pier 1 to 4 pm and then Looe Key Tiki bar at 6 to 10 pm.

Kim has just finished her 10th CD to be released in Europe at the end of June and in the United States in October. Her forthcoming album “Enough Heart Left to Break” is good ol’ honky-tonk music with a dance hall sound that is chock full of fiddles and steel guitars.

Growing up in rural Texas and Oklahoma and now based out of New Orleans, LA, Kim’s sound is a gumbo of original high energy roots rock and renegade honky tonk music. Kim Carson has been named “Best Country Artist” by readers of OffBeat magazine eight times. Carson has made a name for herself as the undisputed “Queen of Louisiana Honky Tonk Music” and distinguished herself as a formidable Country songwriter. After Hurricane Katrina, Carson moved to Texas to form “Buffalo Speedway”, a Renegade Honky Tonk band in 2005. Kim moved back to rebuild her house in New Orleans in 2008. Continue reading

Calling All Artists!

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Key West is ready to get animated, but Fantasy Fest® 2014 “Animeted Dreams & Adventures” needs you!  Dust off your sketch pencils, ready your mouse, and prepare your canvas for an animated take on Key West.  Bring your wildest dreams and adventures to life.  Kawaii!

The Fantasy Fest poster contest is your chance is to make history… and a thousand dollars!  Your design should combine elements of Key West with anime style, but go ahead and take inspiration from all forms of animation.

Submissions of all sizes will be accepted, but keep in mind the art must work on an 18” x 24” poster as well as T-shirts.  Don’t forget the art chosen will need to be vibrant enough for a poster, but chic enough to hang in your home.   All submissions must be received by Friday, June 20, 2014.  Artwork must be entirely original and will be the sole property of Fantasy Fest upon selection and payment to the winner.  For additional information regarding poster submissions or to download an application, please visit fantasyfest.com or call 305-296-1817.

Southernmost Magnolia: Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

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Southernmost Magnolia, the Key West version of the renowned New England band Magnolia, plays a unique blend of Cajun, country, and bluegrass music. Led by singer and guitarist Maggie Moniz, with local fixtures Steve Gibson on mandolin and Chief Billy or Cindy Jefferson on bass, world-famous Chuck Sherman on pedal steel, and special guest Joe LePage playing fiddle, squeezebox, and harmonicas all month long, they play good time music sure to get your head boppin’, your toes tappin’, and your feet movin’. They will be making sure everyone can let the good times roll at B.O.’s Fish Wagon every Thursday 6 – 9 PM. Also, with the currently relaxed security status, you can see them (and a great view of the sunset over the water) every Wednesday 6 – 9 PM at Sunset Lounge on Sigsbee Navy Base.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Scheduled Appearances:

Continue reading

Breast Cancer Rates Increasing Among Younger Women In Florida; National Breast Cancer Prevention Project Relocates to Key West

More Florida women, under 50 years old, are being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer each year.  In 1984 only 53 out of 100,000 women in the state were diagnosed; by 2008 that number had jumped to 74 out of 100,000; a 1.7 percent annual increase, according to the Florida Statewide Cancer Registry.

Florida women are not alone. In 2007, 83 out of 100,000 Massachusetts women under 50 were diagnosed with the invasive disease, while in Colorado in 2007, that number was 70/100,000.   Since the mid 80’s, younger women under 50, in all three states, have faced annual increases of 0.9 to 2.3 percent.

In contrast, British women under 50 are at 1970 U.S. levels with only 42/100,000 women under 50 being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2010.  Why this great disparity between the two countries? Continue reading

The Frisbee King Throws to the Future

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Getting old requires adapting to changed circumstances. I dislike this as much as anyone, both the getting and the adapting.

In our late 60s, we have more time, but less money, energy and strength. Parts that were once just fine now hurt. Some need to be repaired or replaced. Some things can’t be fixed.

Our horizon narrows with age.

Retirement redefines what we do and how we see ourselves. It’s tough when it’s forced on you.

I spent a few days last week in Key West, Fla., where three high-school classmates visited a fourth who has lived in the Conch Republic for 42 years.

Key West is a community that is upscaling itself by its own sunglasses. Continue reading

Key West High School Live Reporting Team Placed First In Nation!

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L-R: Riley Schill, Morgan Denhart, Austin Svedjan and KWHS teacher Ed Smith

Last week in Orlando, three Key West High School students from the Conch 5 Studios National Team placed first in the nation in the Team Live Reporting category at the Student Television Network Convention.

Morgan Denhart, Austin Svedjan, and Riley Schill collaborated on the winning effort. All three are students in Ed Smith’s television production class. [See their winning video below] Continue reading

CAUGHT!?

Looks like Balfour Beatty may be at it again!  Have privatized military housing contractors been ratted out while trying to sneak a new tax exemption bill into the Florida Legislature?

Balfour Beatty’s local military housing affiliate, Southeast Housing LLC, owns all of the Navy family housing units in the Key West area.  Over a year ago The Blue Paper blew the whistle on the fact that the British conglomerate had failed to pay property taxes on its Key West properties [over 890 units] since 2007.  Balfour is still suing over the issue and hopes Circuit Court Judge David Audlin will soon render a decision that will get them off the hook for what is now well over $ 11 Million in back taxes not to mention a free ride on property taxes on into the future.  Continue reading

EPA Proposes Biggest Step for Clean Water in a Decade

Today, in the biggest step forward for clean water in more than a decade, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that leave nearly 30% of Florida’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands at risk of unchecked pollution and development.

“With the drinking water for close to 2 million Floridians at risk, we’re thrilled to see the EPA moving forward to protect our waterways,” said Jennifer Rubiello, field associate with Environment Florida, which has worked for more than a decade to restore Clean Water Act protections. “Today’s action is about securing that all our water is safe and healthy. Whether we’re kayaking on the Hillsborough River, fishing in our favorite stream, or just drinking the water that comes from our tap, we need Florida’s waterways to be clean and protected.” Continue reading

Calling All Artists!

Key West is ready to get animated, but Fantasy Fest® 2014 “Animeted Dreams & Adventures” needs you!  Dust off your sketch pencils, ready your mouse, and prepare your canvas for an animated take on Key West.  Bring your wildest dreams and adventures to life.  Kawaii!

The Fantasy Fest poster contest is your chance is to make history… and a thousand dollars!  Your design should combine elements of Key West with anime style, but go ahead and take inspiration from all forms of animation.

Submissions of all sizes will be accepted, but keep in mind the art must work on an 18” x 24” poster as well as T-shirts.  Don’t forget the art chosen will need to be vibrant enough for a poster, but chic enough to hang in your home.   All submissions must be received by Friday, June 20, 2014.  Artwork must be entirely original and will be the sole property of Fantasy Fest upon selection and payment to the winner.  For additional information regarding poster submissions or to download an application, please visit fantasyfest.com or call 305-296-1817.

Monthly Artisan Market Celebrates Ocean Awareness

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The Key West Artisan Market: Ocean Awareness Edition will be held Sunday, March 30 from 10 am to 2 pm at the Restaurant Store parking lot in support the Mote Marine’s Oceanfest Key West on Saturday. The Market is a new monthly attraction with only one more date set for April 27 in conjunction with Conch Republic Days.

The event gives residents and visitors alike a chance to shop fresh and local. The parking lot at 1111 Eaton is transformed into a showcase of art, photography and unique local handicrafts made exclusively in the Keys in one convenient location. There will be entertainment, chef demonstrations, and kid’s activities. Marianne van den Broek from Sandisle will be demonstrating sand carving and Durf Durffee will be using various magnifying glasses to burn images on to wood. Continue reading

I Am Playing Badminton In My Soul

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When I was a kid, my mom and I used to play badminton in the yard. Badminton, as it turns out, is not only a terrifically fun word to spell and say, but it is also a hilarious sport, especially when you are completely lacking many things that “other” people may consider crucial to the “sport” of badminton like a net, badminton skills of any kind, and a flat surface upon which to play. We had some tennis rackets, a birdie and a portion of the yard that wasn’t quite flat, nor really very large, but that would do for what we reckoned as our Olympic version of the sport. And, if you consider peals of laughter as points, we were, like, really, really, really good at badminton. Also my friends and I were quite excellent at tennis, s’long as there weren’t any other people on any of the three courts and we could have free reign of the entire arena. Continue reading

FLORIDA STANDARDS COMING TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU ~ State Farm contributes $100,000 to promote Florida Standards ~

 

Videos starring the Florida Standards are in the works to spread the word about how best to teach the concepts to students. State Farm is partnering with the Florida Education Foundation and the Florida Department of Education to help bring the project to life. State Farm contributed $ 100,000 to make the project possible.

“Great teachers make great schools,” said State Farm Senior Vice President Jim Thompson. “This commitment will help provide vivid examples of the Florida Standards to teachers across the state, allowing them to push students to achieve more.”

The video series is titled, “We Can Do This, Florida!” and will focus on kindergarten through fifth grade mathematics standards. They are being created as a resource for teachers, parents and postsecondary students in teacher education programs. The short videos will feature top teachers across the state in a classroom setting giving tips on teaching the Florida Standards.

“These more rigorous Florida Standards are already pushing our students to reach their full potentials today by helping prepare them for the colleges and workplaces of tomorrow,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “I want to thank State Farm for this contribution that I know will be a great asset to Florida teachers and students.

The series is expected to be released and distributed in the fall of 2014.

LOVE LANE GANG! They’re Just Plain Fun!

Love Lane Gang 2014020901

The Love Lane Gang is a locals band that knocks the socks off tourists and locals alike.They play music that spans generations as well as embodies them. With an age range among the members of over thirty years, they bring a wide variety of experience and musical tastes to bear..They’ve brought back skiffle and updated it for the present.

The emphasis is on ragtime and swing: classics from the 1930s and 1940s, done in a refreshing new style that incorporates the Hot Club approach with island flourishes. Dust Bowl ballads, old school country from Hank Williams and Dolly Parton, rockabilly and surf music classics and little-known gems, tunes from Sixties stars like The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones, and carefully chosen songs from current artists like Andrew Bird, Mason Jennings, and The White Stripes all fit in alongside original songs that sound like they could have come from any of those eras.

Offbeat instrumentation, including mandolin, ukulele, accordion, banjo, washboard, and a kazoo horn section, added to familiar guitar, bass, and harmonica, creates a broad musical palette which they use to color their performances.

But you needn’t pay too much mind to all that serious musical analysis – they’re just plain fun!

Their regular gigs are at McConnell’s Irish Pub And Grill on Fridays at 8 PM, and Saluté On The Beach on Sundays at 6:30 PM. And this Sunday at Saluté the band will be celebrating its 200th show. Come on out to the big party!

Scheduled Appearances: Continue reading

The Battle of the Bulge

I’m going back a bit in time here to revisit the first episode of Cosmos from a couple of weeks ago. At one point in that show, host Neil deGrasse Tyson mentioned that the earth and moon were much closer to each other when they were cutting their planetary baby teeth. Then he said something about the moon being pushed away from the earth by tidal friction and LEFT IT AT THAT! No explanation. No computer animation. Nothing. The thought must not have crossed his mind that millions of viewers out there in TV land would be left tossing and turning through sleepless nights wondering, What the heck is tidal friction? (Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe it was just me tossing and turning and maybe it was only seven minutes before I fell asleep.)

A diagram of the Earth–Moon system showing how the tidal bulge
is pushed ahead by Earth’s rotation. This offset bulge exerts a net torque
on the Moon, boosting it while slowing Earth’s rotation.
(And if you can decipher any of this for me, please do. Gnu 1.2, CC 2.5)
Here’s how Encyclopedia Britannica explains tidal friction (or tidal acceleration): Continue reading

SOME BURNING QUESTIONS ABOUT OFFSHORE ISLANDS

Sore throats, red eyes, Old Town storeowners worried about the smell of smoke on their garments, sailboats evacuated… One way or another a lot of people were affected last week by the fire raging on Wisteria Island.  The Key West Fire Department had given up the fight on Monday and the fire continued on, burning through trees for six days.  In the end the flames were extinguished only after a group of volunteers took the matter into their own hands last Saturday.

“We traded buckets all day, from the beach all the way into the center of the forest,” says Jeff Sundwall one of the volunteers.  We had teenage kids, young mothers, boaters, people from Key West came with their boats. We worked from morning to sunset.”

By then, the team of about 8 people, organized by local activist Mike Mongo, covered in soot and exhausted, equipped only with buckets and 500 feet of garden hose connected to a small 12-volt pump, had managed to extinguish the flames down to the last cluster of burning trees. Continue reading

Women’s Journal Writing Group: Spring Session Offered

girl journal

Do you want to write your first novel; journal more each week, or begin a family history? The Women’s Journal Writing Group is now accepting new members for the 6-week Spring Session beginning the first week in April.

“The Journal Writing Group is like going to the gym. we all need a chance to exercise the emotional and creative side of our minds, to take risks with our thoughts, and do short writing practices that push away our critical, nay-saying minds. We must write from our hearts and our bellies to figure out what we know or believe,” said Key West writer, Susan Wadia-Ells, who leads these weekly experiential sessions.

Each group is limited to ten members, with a choice of either an afternoon or an evening session offered this Spring.  Both groups meet in old town, with off- street parking available. Members can choose the full 6-week offering or a 3- week mini-session.

Susan Wadia-Ells  Photo by Johnnie White

Susan Wadia-Ells Photo by Johnnie White

Wadia-Ells holds a PhD in women’s autobiographical writing and has studied journal writing methodology with Natalie Goldberg, author of “Writing Down the Bones” and with Lamont Poetry Prize winner, Minnie Bruce Pratt. She is also founding director of The National Breast Cancer Prevention Project and is currently finishing a self-help book on stopping breast cancer before it can start. Cost of the full session is $ 150; the 3-week session is $ 90.  For more information, susan.we@comcast.net or 978 578 1546.

Southernmost Magnolia: Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

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Southernmost Magnolia, the Key West version of the renowned New England band Magnolia, plays a unique blend of Cajun, country, and bluegrass music. Led by singer and guitarist Maggie Moniz, with local fixtures Steve Gibson on mandolin and Chief Billy or Cindy Jefferson on bass, world-famous Chuck Sherman on pedal steel, and special guest Joe LePage playing fiddle, squeezebox, and harmonicas all month long, they play good time music sure to get your head boppin’, your toes tappin’, and your feet movin’. They will be making sure everyone can let the good times roll at B.O.’s Fish Wagon every Thursday 6 – 9 PM. Also, with the currently relaxed security status, you can see them (and a great view of the sunset over the water) every Wednesday 6 – 9 PM at Sunset Lounge on Sigsbee Navy Base.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Scheduled Appearances:

Continue reading

PROPOSED NOISE LAW HAS FLAWS

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Years ago, Yankee Jack, the longtime entertainer at the Bull Bar, told me a story about why he decided to move to Key West. He said he was an entertainer on a cruise ship that pulled into Key West for the night and, of course, he took a walking tour of Duval Street. “I was standing in the middle of one of the intersections and I could hear the sound of music coming from all directions,” he said. “I knew I was home.”

It is true that Key West, like New Orleans, is famous for its music. Partying on Duval Street is one of the reasons millions of tourists come here every year. The ambiance of Duval Street is what attracted me to move here 25 years ago. Even before that, when I lived in the Bahamas for several years, I would bring my friends over to “vacation” in Key West. When I visit much larger cities, I often suggest to my hosts that we go somewhere to listen to music. I have learned, however, that live music in most towns is limited, especially in the afternoons. How sad for the people who live there.

Having said that, I certainly understand that over-loud music can be a problem for neighbors, both residential and business. Hey, I live a block from the party patio at the Bourbon Street Bar– one of the loudest venues in the city. Continue reading

The Russians Are Coming – To Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center! THIS SUNDAY!

IMG_3111_250 Misha_Rachlevsky_middle2Impromptu Classical Concerts will present a special, non-subscription performance by the acclaimed Chamber Orchestra Kremlin at Tennessee Williams Theatre, on Sunday March 30, 4:00 pm. The special concert is in commemoration of the 100th birthday of well-loved arts patron Florence Fox-Loeb, one of Key West’s “grande dames” in the very best sense of the term. For many years, Florence gave very generously of her time and her personal resources to the Key West art scene – especially the Impromptu Classical Concerts series which was dear to her heart.

Misha_Rachlevsky_middle3Chamber Orchestra Kremlin was put together in the early 90s by Conductor Misha Rachlevsky, who had deep experience with Western chamber groups and was eager to tap into the vast reserve of talented Russian musicians. Described as a “young and polished group” by the Los Angeles Times, the group performs the full range of classical and contemporary chamber music repertoire. Indeed, The Washington Post declared them to be “one of the super ensembles on the current international scene”. Hosting the Moscow-based Chamber Orchestra Kremlin is a cultural coup for Key West, a positive – and much-needed! – note for perestroika, and is sure to be a highlight of the 2014 season.

Concert tickets are $ 30 & $ 50 at the door, by calling: 305.743.2283, or online: Keystix.com. All students free.

Tourists: We Want Their Dollars Without Providing Services

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Anyone who has ever lived in the northern part of the country knows how alluring the blue skies and sandy beaches of the Keys can be during the winter, especially a winter as brutal as the one that the Midwest and Northeast have just experienced. Visitors come here primarily for the warmth and not for seafood festivals or dolphin attractions.

One thing that surprises visitors who doze in a cold bed dreaming of floating on an inflatable raft on aquamarine water is how few public beaches there are in the Keys. Ironically, as dreary as Marathon can be, the city does have one of the nicer beaches in the island chain. Sombrero Beach, located right in the middle of town, has a long stretch of sand, relatively new covered pavilions, a children’s park, a pretty cement walkway, and very badly maintained bathrooms.

It’s a mystery why city government, which takes many opportunities to attract visitor dollars, can be so neglectful of one of the area’s primary attractions: Marathon’s sandy beach. Recently Marathon’s council voted to sink $ 5.43 million dollars or $ 180,000 a year over thirty years into repairing a decrepit bridge that people perceive as a big tourist attraction. And a loud and extended complaint rose from local throats when the TDC District Advisory Council (DAC III) initially voted to divert a big chunk of money from the Marathon Seafood Festival. That event pours thousands of dollars into the chamber of commerce’s coffers and DAC III voted to give TDC cash toward promoting Fantasy Fest. The latter doesn’t need the TDC money either. Both are well established events. Continue reading

SAVE THE DATE! APRIL 21, 2014: Hometown!’s “Call for Candidates” Event at Salute Restaurant, Higgs Beach at 5 p.m.

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Photo: Hometown PAC event Salute 2010

Hometown! PAC Announces Call for Candidates Event

Dear Members, Prospective Members of Hometown PAC, and all Candidates, Prospective Candidates and Those Merely Testing the Waters:

Please join us on Monday, April 21, 2014, when Key West’s Hometown! will present declared and potential candidates for the upcoming elections. The event will be held at Salute Restaurant, Higgs Beach, starting with a social portion at 5:00 p.m. Candidates, declared or potential, will introduce themselves and make short presentations, beginning at 5:30 pm. All candidates are encouraged to come early and bring with them petitions for voters to sign, campaign literature, buttons, T-shirts and other items relating to their campaign. Please bring your own tables for your campaign items. Continue reading

6.6 Acres: Now You See It / Now You Don’t

6.6

Last Monday, Key West City staff set out to explain how decisions made by staff and that were vetted by both the Truman Waterfront Advisory Board and the Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee over two years ago resulted in reducing the amount of land that was intended to benefit Bahama Village by two-thirds, from 6.6 acres to 2.3 acres.  A set of slides suggest an all-out effort to show that the take-away was the result of careful decision making by the two boards and the City’s Naval Properties Local Redevelopment Authority [LRA].  Former Senior Project Manager and current Director of Port Operations, Doug Bradshaw, gave the time line of a series of resolutions that show how both boards and the LRA took a series of formal actions that resulted in the loss of two thirds of the so-called 6.6 acres, land that everyone believed was dedicated to benefit Bahama Village residents.

Despite claims by staff and some members of the Waterfront Board that Bahama Village would still benefit from many elements of the waterfront development, the fact is that the 6.6 acres dedicated to Village residents has now been diminished to 2.3 acres. Continue reading

Book Review: CODE OF HONOR by V.C. Weeks

Code of Honor, a debut novel by V. C. Weeks, grabs the reader by the throat in the first sentence and doesn’t let go. The novel is the tale of Sargeant Hank Siemans, who opens this gripping story on reconnaissance in the mountains of Afghanistan, hunting for Osama bin Ladin and his al Queda crew, reportedly on the move toward Ali Kheyl and the Pakistani border. The American soldiers are ambushed and Siemans wakes up from a coma in Walter Reed Medical Center to the voice of an angel, his nurse Ashley Blake. He is instantly smitten.

codeofhonor- FADED mts coverThis book is identified as a political thriller, and it certainly is that. It is also about love. In a clear homage to Hemingway, there’s Siemens’ passionate love for Ashley, but there’s also the story of United States Senator Paul Whitman and his wife Marilyn, whom he loves as though they’d just been wed, despite decades of marriage and three devoted children.  Even more so, it is the story of the senator’s love of his country, a fierce love that never wavers, despite constant attempts by the opposition to discredit him. He’s even threatened by his own party. All this while Whitman is fighting another battle – with MS, a diagnosis he’s just received from his doctor over the summer. Code of Honor is dedicated to the late Senator Paul Wellstone from Minnesota, but it is difficult not to see in Whitman the current Independent senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.    Continue reading

The Russians Are Coming – To Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center!

IMG_3111_250 Misha_Rachlevsky_middle2Impromptu Classical Concerts will present a special, non-subscription performance by the acclaimed Chamber Orchestra Kremlin at Tennessee Williams Theatre, on Sunday March 30, 4:00 pm. The special concert is in commemoration of the 100th birthday of well-loved arts patron Florence Fox-Loeb, one of Key West’s “grande dames” in the very best sense of the term. For many years, Florence gave very generously of her time and her personal resources to the Key West art scene – especially the Impromptu Classical Concerts series which was dear to her heart.

Misha_Rachlevsky_middle3Chamber Orchestra Kremlin was put together in the early 90s by Conductor Misha Rachlevsky, who had deep experience with Western chamber groups and was eager to tap into the vast reserve of talented Russian musicians. Described as a “young and polished group” by the Los Angeles Times, the group performs the full range of classical and contemporary chamber music repertoire. Indeed, The Washington Post declared them to be “one of the super ensembles on the current international scene”. Hosting the Moscow-based Chamber Orchestra Kremlin is a cultural coup for Key West, a positive – and much-needed! – note for perestroika, and is sure to be a highlight of the 2014 season.

Concert tickets are $ 30 & $ 50 at the door, by calling: 305.743.2283, or online: Keystix.com. All students free.

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

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

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

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

Pancake Penance

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder-_The_Fight_between_Carnival_and_Lent_detail_3

(Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, 1559, US-PD)
Nary a flapjack in sight.

I missed Pancake Day on Tuesday [March 4th]. I missed it because I didn’t know it was synonymous with Shrove Tuesday, the last day for many to party down before they begin six weeks of self-denial (Lent) on Ash Wednesday (which is probably what the inside of your mouth feels like, ash that is, after going wild the night before). Missing Pancake Day is a sad admission from someone who has received pancake griddles for birthday presents on more than one occasion (beginning with one from my grandfather when I was twelve or so), someone who loves to try out crazy recipes like pancakes made with granola and smothered in whiskey bacon maple syrup. But miss it I did.

Shrove Tuesday equals Pancake Day because Continue reading

LOVE LANE GANG! They’re Just Plain Fun!

Love Lane Gang 2014020901

The Love Lane Gang is a locals band that knocks the socks off tourists and locals alike.They play music that spans generations as well as embodies them. With an age range among the members of over thirty years, they bring a wide variety of experience and musical tastes to bear..They’ve brought back skiffle and updated it for the present.

The emphasis is on ragtime and swing: classics from the 1930s and 1940s, done in a refreshing new style that incorporates the Hot Club approach with island flourishes. Dust Bowl ballads, old school country from Hank Williams and Dolly Parton, rockabilly and surf music classics and little-known gems, tunes from Sixties stars like The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones, and carefully chosen songs from current artists like Andrew Bird, Mason Jennings, and The White Stripes all fit in alongside original songs that sound like they could have come from any of those eras.

Offbeat instrumentation, including mandolin, ukulele, accordion, banjo, washboard, and a kazoo horn section, added to familiar guitar, bass, and harmonica, creates a broad musical palette which they use to color their performances.

But you needn’t pay too much mind to all that serious musical analysis – they’re just plain fun!

Their regular gigs are at McConnell’s Irish Pub And Grill on Fridays at 8 PM, and Saluté On The Beach on Sundays at 6:30 PM.

Scheduled Appearances: Continue reading

The Frisbee King Returns To High School

Some people have a blast at their high-school reunions, while others refuse to attend. I like ‘em.

At my 50th this weekend in Pittsburgh, we looked older. Some of us looked old. Several now use canes. I heard a lot of talk about cancer and hearts, along with the usual wear-and-tear stories about knees and backs.

Whatever sexual, semi-sexual or pseudo-sexual vibes might have been slinking around at earlier gatherings were not in evidence this time. Or maybe my vibesight is not as good as it once was.

More than one person observed that we looked like our grandparents.

One, however, didn’t. One stood out. Continue reading

CLIMATE CHANGE: IS THE SKY FALLING?

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Last week, the United States Senate held an all-nighter to call attention to the threat of climate change. You don’t have to convince me that the climate is changing. I watch the National Geographic and Discovery channels a lot and I have learned that climate change is natural. It’s been going on for millions of years. In fact, starting back about two million years ago, the climate of the Earth repeatedly shifted back and forth between very cold periods to very warm periods. During the cold periods, glaciers covered much of the world. And during the warm periods (global warming), much of the ice melted, presumably submerging much of the low-lying land around the world. There weren’t any civilizations back then, but if there had been, it is possible that, during one of the warm periods, a reporter in Chicago may have written, “Scientists are predicting that the climate is changing and that Chicago will be completely destroyed by a glacier within the next century. Congress is continuing to debate the passage of laws to try to prevent the climate from changing. But the good news is that the scientists are also predicting that we’ll get five great lakes out of this.” Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We THE PEOPLE

Kenyatta Arrington Key West

Don’t Miss the Last Cemetery Stroll this Season, March 22nd

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There’s one last chance to stroll the historic Key West Cemetery this season with an insightful guide. March 22 is the last in a series of Cemetery Strolls. During the stroll, small groups of visitors are escorted to gravesites where interpreters will tell the stories of the deceased. The groups are scheduled for departures at 9:20, 9:40, and 10:00. Reservations are necessary, and can be made by calling (305) 304-1453.

Among the 10 gravesites on the tour are those of the Navarro family, Piedad Ayala, Frank Booth, the Spottswood family, Dade Lodge, Los Martires de Cuba, and the U.S. Battleship Maine Memorial.

The tour takes approximately 90 minutes. Participants should wear comfortable shoes and plan to walk over a mile on uneven ground. Bottled water will be provided.

This is a terrific opportunity to learn first-hand about some of the fascinating people who have given Key West its colorful and significant character. Space is limited for the tours and pre-registration is required. A donation of $ 10 (cash or check) per person to the Historic Florida Keys Foundation is recommended.

The cemetery strolls are sponsored by the City of Key West and the Historic Florida Keys Foundation. 

FLOOD INSURANCE FORUM: Options and Solutions, Saturday March 22nd

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A forum on Flood Insurance: Options and Solutions, organized by the Lower Keys League of Women Voters, will be held on Saturday, March 22 from 10 a.m. until noon at Harvey Government Center at the Old Truman School.

“Quickly rising flood insurance rates affect everyone in the Keys,” said  LWV chapter President Joan Wallin. “Whether you are a property owner, potential buyer, or renter working in the service sector, the cost of flood insurance threatens to make living in the Florida Keys cost prohibitive.  We will hear about current law, possible legislative solutions, efforts by Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) to solve the problem and the impact on local real estate transactions and the economy,” she said.

Participants in the forum will be: US Congressman Joe Garcia; Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers, who is FIRM president and co-founder: FIRM Executive Director Chic Wagner; and Michael Larson, past president of the Key West Realtors Association. League Vice President Linda Grist Cunningham will moderate.

The forum is free and open to the public. For additional information about the program or the organization, please contact League Treasurer Sandra Bergin at (305) 872-0365.

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

CLYBOURNE PARK AT RED BARN THEATRE / SHOW OPENS MARCH 25th

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Photo courtesy Judy Bradford

Red Barn Theatre proudly presents the Pulitzer Prize winning CLYBOURNE PARK, written by Bruce Norris and directed by Carole MacCartee.

Norris somehow manages to juggle racism, social pressure and family dynamics into a blur of hilarity, irony and wit. The script tiptoes along the tightrope of things we are not allowed to say,  from “colored” to “Negro” to “Black” to “African American,” only falling off in an awkward half-save every few inches or so.

Every stereotype and cliché on the subject resurfaces as a quip.  J. Kelly Nestruck called it “A nasty and brilliant comedy” in the Globe and Mail. Continue reading

Women’s Journal Writing Group: Spring Session Offered

girl journal

Do you want to write your first novel; journal more each week, or begin a family history? The Women’s Journal Writing Group is now accepting new members for the 6-week Spring Session beginning the first week in April.

“The Journal Writing Group is like going to the gym. we all need a chance to exercise the emotional and creative side of our minds, to take risks with our thoughts, and do short writing practices that push away our critical, nay-saying minds. We must write from our hearts and our bellies to figure out what we know or believe,” said Key West writer, Susan Wadia-Ells, who leads these weekly experiential sessions.

Each group is limited to ten members, with a choice of either an afternoon or an evening session offered this Spring.  Both groups meet in old town, with off- street parking available. Members can choose the full 6-week offering or a 3- week mini-session.

Susan Wadia-Ells  Photo by Johnnie White

Susan Wadia-Ells Photo by Johnnie White

Wadia-Ells holds a PhD in women’s autobiographical writing and has studied journal writing methodology with Natalie Goldberg, author of “Writing Down the Bones” and with Lamont Poetry Prize winner, Minnie Bruce Pratt. She is also founding director of The National Breast Cancer Prevention Project and is currently finishing a self-help book on stopping breast cancer before it can start. Cost of the full session is $ 150; the 3-week session is $ 90.  For more information, susan.we@comcast.net or 978 578 1546.

WISTERIA ISLAND FIRE: THE BACK STORY

“By midnight Monday the flames had gotten bigger and bigger and then the cold front arrived,” says Pascal Beregevoi, “The gusts were really ferocious and all of a sudden smoke, embers, and ashes completely engulfed the boat.”  Pascal, who lives on a boat with her teenage daughter near Wisteria Island, had hoped the cold front was going to bring some rain and extinguish the fire.  Instead, with the strong winds, the fire, which had been growing on Wisteria Island for 24 hours, exploded into a fiery inferno.  Pascal and her daughter were trapped on their boat.

“I turned into a smoke refugee,” jokes Tommy Haas, another liveaboard boater from the western anchorage, “I couldn’t breathe. I had to run out of my boat.  I hopped in my dinghy and went to my friend’s boat on the east side of the island.  I stayed there most of the night and then the wind shifted again and the smoke filled up the cabin.  “I said, ‘I know where we’re going’ and we went back to my boat.”

Troy, whose boat was directly downwind of the fire, spent the night throwing buckets of water over the sails to extinguish the falling embers.   Meanwhile, a friend was texting us with “the island is especially beautiful right now.”

On the island the mood was not as jolly.  “We were stranded,” says Christopher aka “Irish”.  Continue reading

Marathon Diary: Sliding into Chaos

Front loader at Sombrero

Exhibit A: Democracy takes a back seat in the Middle Keys

The Marathon City Council, after some promises about making careful considerations, wasted no time in appointing former councilman John Bartus to the seat recently and abruptly vacated by Ginger Snead. Snead, to the shock of many, had suddenly resigned citing “rumors.” It’s never been clear what that meant.

While Bartus had served on the council and even been mayor, his last run at office didn’t work out so well. He came in fourth, trailing Mike Cinque, Rich Keating, and Don Vasil in 2009. In other words, the council appointed someone who the voters had soundly rejected in an actual election. Bartus had been president of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce and was nominated to the council and promoted by Councilman Chris Bull, also closely connected with the chamber. The rest of the council went along rather meekly.

In another setback for democracy in the Middle Keys, the committee assigned the task of reviewing Marathon’s charter has recommended that elections be scheduled for March instead of November. The voters had approved by a 58 percent margin moving the elections to November from March but now the charter review committee recommends the city revert to its original schedule. Continue reading

Supertankers For Humanity Announces Its First Florida Keys Project

Issue 54 Exxon II for web

NEWS RELEASE

SUPERTANKERS INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

dba Supertankers For Humanity

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

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

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

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

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EQUALITY FLORIDA TO HONOR CONNIE GILBERT AT ANNUAL KEY WEST GALA: MARCH 29

Connie Gilbert-1

On Saturday, March 29, Equality Florida Institute will present the Voice for Equality Award to Constance (Connie) Gilbert, a resident of Key West who has been a steadfast advocate for LGBT equality.  The award will be presented at the Equality Florida Key West Gala at the beautiful Gardens Hotel, 526 Angela Street in Key West.

In a year that has seen many landmark milestones and victories, the Key West gala has garnered unprecedented support by elected officials and community leaders.  This “must attend” event brings together more than 350 of Key West and Monroe County residents, providing the LGBT community and its allies a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the momentum that is building throughout the state and throughout the nation.

“Key West has always provided Equality Florida with enormous support, and Connie’s activism within the community is legendary,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida.  “Connie is not only the longest-serving member of the event’s Host Committee, but she has also given tirelessly of her time and of herself as a champion for women’s and LGBT rights.” Continue reading

FLOOD INSURANCE FORUM: Options and Solutions next Saturday

firm logo

A forum on Flood Insurance: Options and Solutions, organized by the Lower Keys League of Women Voters, will be held on Saturday, March 22 from 10 a.m. until noon at Harvey Government Center at the Old Truman School.

“Quickly rising flood insurance rates affect everyone in the Keys,” said  LWV chapter President Joan Wallin. “Whether you are a property owner, potential buyer, or renter working in the service sector, the cost of flood insurance threatens to make living in the Florida Keys cost prohibitive.  We will hear about current law, possible legislative solutions, efforts by Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) to solve the problem and the impact on local real estate transactions and the economy,” she said.

Participants in the forum will be: US Congressman Joe Garcia; Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers, who is FIRM president and co-founder: FIRM Executive Director Chic Wagner; and Michael Larson, past president of the Key West Realtors Association. League Vice President Linda Grist Cunningham will moderate.

The forum is free and open to the public. For additional information about the program or the organization, please contact League Treasurer Sandra Bergin at (305) 872-0365.

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