by Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Former Monroe County School District Financial Director Kathy Reitzel will finally get her day in court. Circuit Judge Mark Jones’ dismissal of her wrongful termination lawsuit in September 2015 has been reversed by the Third District Court of Appeal.
Lower Florida Keys Hospital District Board Chairman, James Padget, has shared the response to his December 15th letter to Community Health Systems Chief Executive Officer Wayne Smith. In his letter, Padget asked whether CHS would consider amending its agreement to allow the District more control over operations or possibly breaking its 30-year lease early. Extending the contract period was also mentioned in the Chairman’s letter.
Just as we were wondering whether Pritam Singh’s soon to open “175-room Hotel” on Stock Island was legal, The Blue Paper received an interesting tip. Pritam Singh is suing 7 of his neighbors for alleged unlawful vacation rental use of their condos at Oceanside Marina. He wants them to rent long-term. The $100 million question is whether there is in fact any difference between those old condos (2003) and the new ones recently built by Mr. Singh at that very same marina. They look like [continue reading…]
The second major head-on collision in two days at the 16 mile mark on Highway U.S. One involved a Monroe County Sheriff’s deputy who, after crawling out of his overturned patrol car, without missing a beat, ran over to assist passengers in the two other vehicles involved. Deputy Daniel Hill reported that he was northbound at 12:30 a.m., returning to his Marathon duty post after transporting a prisoner from Marathon to the Stock Island Detention Center. He said he saw an oncoming vehicle pull into his [continue reading…]
by Naja Girard……. Circuit Judge Bonnie Helms disqualified herself last Friday, without explanation, from a case she had ordered dismissed just 2 days earlier. The case, a petition for declaratory judgment, was brought by Louise Delaney and Gail Kulikowsky, two Big Pine Key area property owners who are challenging Monroe County and FKAA over the agencies’ insistence that they sign over an easement for a portion of their yards and provide an expensive high-powered electrical connection so an onsite grinder sewage pump system can be installed [continue reading…]
by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. You know things are bad when an attorney says to you, “I hate lawyers!” “I do! I truly do!” repeats Michael Halpern who is pacing in his law office above The Lazy Gecko Bar on Key West’s famous Duval Street. What is one of the most feared attorneys in Key West losing sleep over? Being hunted by a billion-dollar corporation that he believes wants his hotel: the iconic Southernmost House. The “corporation” is Remington Lodging & Hospitality. What we wanted to know [continue reading…]
Sheriff’s detectives are investigating residential break-ins which have taken place in the areas of Sugarloaf Key and Bay Point recently. Two attempted burglaries and four actual burglaries have taken place in that area since November 30th. On the 30th, in the early morning hours, residents of a home on Starfish Lane on Lower Sugarloaf Key called to report an attempted break in. They said they were sleeping when they heard a bang and their alarm went off. Investigations showed pry marks on several doors and [continue reading…]
The controversy over Key West’s charter schools rocked the school board during last week’s meeting. “How do we know this is not going to be another white-flight school?” asked longtime school board member Andy Griffiths about a new charter middle school. Some fear an exodus of white students toward charter schools will leave the district run public schools with insufficient resources and failing grades. For others, the specter of re-segregation is simply intolerable. The numbers are telling: Key West’s Horace O’Bryant [HOB], the district run public [continue reading…]
By Arnaud Girard……. If you are like us you’ve probably always wanted to take a tour of the iconic Southernmost House. Well yesterday we were called on a tip to go there and report on a mysterious “big story.” Police cars were already parked at the gate but surprisingly we were allowed inside. Ah! Amazing sculptures and paintings, trompe l’oeil ceilings painted like the sky, infinity swimming pool suspended over the turquoise ocean view. Priceless. But what was going on?
Thursday, December 1, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Jane Gardner of Jane Gardner Interiors at 328 Simonton Street invites the public to a Season Opening Cocktail Party to celebrate a plentitude of events: the holidays; the debut of her latest design project – a Key West inspired, whimsical new fabric called ‘Paradise’; a name change for her retail showroom from Jane Gardner Interiors to ‘jane’ and a new fundraising campaign that she has launched for the benefit of the KWPD Mounted Police unit horses. Guests attending the [continue reading…]
Sheriff’s detectives are asking for help identifying possible suspects in the vandalism of several Historic Tours of America vehicles. The four trolleys were parked on a vacant lot at the entrance to the Key Haven neighborhood on Stock Island. The vandalism took place sometime between October 14th and the 17th. Someone used a concrete block to smash windows and headlights on the vehicles and used red spray paint on them as well. Total damage was estimated to be $10,000.00. Deputy Lazaro Valdes took the initial [continue reading…]
A Broward County man is being sought for the attempted murder of a New York man Sunday at a concert in Islamorada. 26 year old Kemar Ricardo Dennis of Plantation, Florida allegedly stabbed the victim, 33 year old Rodger Harrison in the abdomen Sunday at 9:45 p.m. Harrison was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami for treatment of his life threatening injuries, including lacerations to his liver.
by Rick Roberts……. Who has noticed how whiny the press is that Trump won? At least give him a shot at it? $10,000,000,000,000 in expenditure and the guy before him was still the worst president EVER! He f-ing blew that much money and still sucked more than any president ever has. Trump can’t be worse, only equal, it just can’t be any worse. You will all get this email in a few years with your biting replies and realize he did what you thought he [continue reading…]
by John Norris, MD……. Dear Editor: Vote NO to the GM mosquito. Three dozen Key Haven, Florida area physicians have petitioned for the adult-to-be-released genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes to be cultured for resistant bacteria before any release. The issue of unintended promotion of bacteria resistance through the GM creation process has sparked at least one political campaign to demand more information related to 3rd party safety data. The World Health Organization points out that 700000 men women and children will die each year from resistant [continue reading…]
by Rick Boettger……. I flew again to Tallahassee to attend the sentencing hearing for George Neugent’s three violations of our state’s ethics laws. I went to object to their absurdly light penalties—in particular, only a single $500 fine for not reporting his golf membership for years, missing dozens of quarterly reports of the $1,500 quarterly gift, 15 times the reporting requirement of over $100. The Ethics Commission had given George a separate violation and $500 fine for each of the two years he had filed [continue reading…]
MARATHON – Monroe County’s newly acquired Trauma Star helicopter, a 2002 Sikorsky S-76 C+, received its final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and went into service Monday morning, Monroe County Fire Rescue Chief James Callahan said. “Fire Rescue and the Sheriff’s Office have been working together for more than a month to get through the FAA inspections and make sure the helicopter is up and ready to fly,” Callahan said. “Our flight crews and medical personnel are all trained and we are excited about [continue reading…]
SWC, a local engineering, planning and environmental science firm, has created an official dive program that has received certification by the American Association of Underwater Scientists (AAUS). “This has been a long-term commitment of SWC, to develop a program that addresses diver safety during work activities that meets federal OSHA standards and addresses requirements of many federal and State agencies,” said Sandy Walters, SWC president. “We worked together with Florida Keys Community College to certify our Dive Safety Officer Shawn Martin as an AAUS [continue reading…]
Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) is pleased to announce its completely updated website (FIRMKeys.org). With a fresh look and feel, new interactive content, and enhanced navigation, the site is designed to work equally well on smartphones, tablets, and traditional computers. FIRMKey.org will be live on Monday, October 24, 2016. Users of the site’s Ask FIRM forum are able to submit questions and get answers from FIRM’s experts on windstorm and flood insurance coverage in Monroe County, and under Call to Action, track FIRM’s efforts [continue reading…]
The National Key Deer Refuge (NKDR) is currently working with international, federal, state and local authorities to eradicate the New World screwworm from the lower Florida Keys. Eighty Key Deer have died as a result of the infestation thus far. Screwworms are fly larvae (maggots) that can infest warm-blooded animals. They enter an animal’s skin, usually through an open wound and feed on living tissue. Screwworms were eradicated from the U.S. in the 1960’s, but their presence on the refuge was confirmed on September 30th [continue reading…]
Monroe County, FL – For the next week, nuisance coastal flooding will occur in parts of Monroe County due to “King Tides.” These tides occur each spring and fall when the locations of the Earth, moon and sun combine to produce the highest tidal effects of the year. This year, the tides are compounded by a full moon (Hunter’s Moon or Super Moon) on Sunday as well as winds, Gulf Stream current and atmospheric pressure. The tides are expected to reach their maximum predicted levels [continue reading…]
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of New World screwworms in Monroe County on October 3, 2016. Florida’s endangered Key deer population on Big Pine and No Name keys have already suffered losses due to this infestation. A few pets in the local area exhibited potentially similar infestations over the past two months, though no larvae were collected and tested in those cases. Rapid and thorough response efforts are imperative to save this endangered species and prevent the spread to people and other [continue reading…]
This Amendment, titled the “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice,” was drafted by statewide utilities in order to control how Floridians can install and use solar panels on their own properties. The campaign to pass the Amendment is funded by Florida Power and Light, Duke Energy and Tampa Electric and is designed to protect their monopoly markets and profits. Florida is one of only five states that specifically prohibit companies from installing solar panels on homes or businesses and then selling the [continue reading…]
Monroe County School District announces closing of some Florida Keys schools. Based on the latest weather briefing from the National Weather Service for Hurricane Matthew, due to the forecasted Tropical Storm force winds in the middle and upper keys the following schools will be closed on Thursday, October 6th. Staff at these schools will not be required to report. All schools will reopen on Friday October 7th unless there are significant changes in the weather conditions as forecast.
MONROE COUNTY — A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Upper and Middle Keys, with impact from Hurricane Matthew expected to hit Monroe County a little later than originally forecasted. Impacts now are expected to begin in the Keys just before sunrise Thursday and continue through Thursday night. The highest winds are expected between noon and 6 p.m. Thursday, said Florida Keys National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Rizzo.
Martha K. Huggins, Ph.D……. The Physicians’ Hippocratic Oath includes the sacred pledge to serve “according to my ability and judgment, prescribe a regimen for the health of the sick; …[and] utterly reject harm and mischief.” Just in case such a pledge becomes unimportant with health care’s profitability, “hospital districts” and their boards of directors sometimes become a community’s watch dog over healthcare operations. For its part, the Board of the ‘Lower Keys Hospital District’ oversees “hospitals, medical facilities, and other health care related facilities and [continue reading…]
A Big Pine Key woman was charged with stealing a large amount of jewelry and other property from her roommate and using her debit card without her permission while the roommate was in the hospital. The crimes took place in September of 2015. The victim had been in the hospital for a period of time. While she was there, her roommate 31 year old, Belen Araque, allegedly took a total of $29,000 worth of items from her home including jewelry, rods and reels, clothing, custom made [continue reading…]
by Thomas L. Knapp……. Amnesty International’s mission is “to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.” Unsurprisingly, the organization’s latest report collects “first-hand testimony of survivors, court documents, medical records and various other forms of evidence relating to 74 cases of torture” in Thailand and urges that country’s legislature and military government to follow through on their claimed commitments to bring an end to the practice. After [continue reading…]
Poster Signing Party is Tuesday, October 25, at 5 PM Fantasy Fest is pleased to release the artwork chosen for the Official Fantasy Fest 2016 posters and T-shirts. This year’s theme of “Political Voodoo and Ballot Box Barbarians ” conjured up some zany ideas, but only one devilish design won the election. We are thrilled to announce the official poster and T-shirts will feature artwork designed by Jane Rohrschneider. Rohrschneider, better know as “Key West Jane” is primarily a mosaic artist. You can see Rohrschneider’s [continue reading…]
by Michael Welber……. “Masquerading as a pro-solar energy initiative, this proposed constitutional amendment, supported by some of Florida’s major investor-owned electric utility companies, actually seeks to constitutionalize the status quo.” Those are the words of Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente who wrote a strongly worded dissent back in March when Amendment 1 came up for approval by the court. She went on to call the proposal “a masquerade and a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”