by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Prominent businessman Ed Swift got caught again illegally renting to tourists. The Conch Train owner and, ironically, advocate for affordable housing, was reported this week by The Keynoter as having been set up, again, by code enforcement officials who went undercover and rented two of his condo units at Key Cove Landing for 6 nights for roughly $600 a night. That was, apparently, the third time in a little over a year. Swift certainly made a mistake. Or did he? [continue reading…]
MARATHON – The tropical disturbance that is now 520 miles east-southeast of Key West remains weak and disorganized. It is not expected to develop into a tropical cyclone by the time it reaches the Keys, according to the National Weather Service in Key West. “This is very good news,” Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt said. Impacts of the tropical disturbance will be felt in the Keys on Sunday and Monday. It is expected to bring periods of heavy rainfall, with the possibility of [continue reading…]
Chief Donie Lee last night presented six law enforcement officers with the highest honor bestowed by the Key West Police Department: the Valor Award. Key West Police Officers Alex Gaufillet, Frank Betz, Brian Leahy, Curtiss Richardson and Jessie Hammers and Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy David Lariz all put their lives at risk in order to protect the community during a shooting on Duval Street. A call came in on March 21st that an armed suspect had shot three people on the street. Within minutes, officers [continue reading…]
This week Key West Police Chief Donie Lee presented Sgt. Jeff Williamson, Detective Stephen Mitchell, and Officers Jesse Young and Michael Chaustit the Lifesaving Award for reviving a man overcome with fumes aboard a stranded boat last week. While conducting training on August 17th, the Key West Police Underwater Search and Recovery Team (USRT) heard a call come over VHF channel 16 advising there was a vessel with a male having a medical emergency. The U.S. Coast Guard was receiving limited information, but the USRT [continue reading…]
by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….. To allow an additional 60 plus apartments on his property, a Key West developer nearly doubled the size of his parcel – on paper. And some of the City Commissioners, who last month signed off on the development agreement, knew all about it. Under Key West zoning density ratios, developer/lawyer Barton Smith needed a minimum of 4.5 acres to build 62 new housing units on his property at Sunset Marina.
A Corrections deputy assigned to the Stock Island detention center was arrested yesterday charged with making a deal with an inmate: cash in exchange for helping him to escape. He was also charged with providing the inmate with contraband in the jail. 50 year old Elizardo Ortueta was reportedly acquainted with the inmate he allegedly made a deal with, 35 year old Albert Vizcaino Gonzalez, prior to his employment with the Sheriff’s Office; Vizcaino is in jail, convicted on drug trafficking charges. He faces a lengthy [continue reading…]
by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Liveaboards and low-income renters may not be the only victims of the Sunset Marina development agreement approved last month by the City Commission. Sunset Marina’s $2700/month “affordable housing” project appears to have also cheated small commercial boat owners out of over 100 legally required parking spaces. By the look of things, developers may also be lining things up to cheat the building department on permit fees by an estimated $125,000 [by misrepresenting construction costs by nearly 7 million dollars.]
by Rick Boettger……. You would think I would be a big fan of the Ethics Commission. After all, I filed three complaints, and two were upheld for a total of three violations. Many people are amazed and impressed that I got any favorable holdings at all, given their own experiences. They told me the Ethics Commission is just like the FDLE and police internal reviews, just white-washing for the guilty. After seeing the details of how my case was handled, I now agree, with a [continue reading…]
Miami – The FBI and Key West Police Department have been hosting a series of conferences this week of August 8th to address responses to active shooter scenarios. The conferences discuss best practices and lessons learned from various active shooter incident responses. Monday’s class was entitled Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events or CRASE. The course is designed to reinforce the Avoid, Deny and Defend strategy and provides information about surviving an active shooter event. The four hour course is attended by Monroe County School District officials, hospital [continue reading…]
by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. How do they do it? In the past few months developers convinced the City of Key West to pay them 12.5 million dollars for the promise not to raise rents beyond $2709 per month. That was Peary Court, where 83% of the 2-bedroom units can now rent for that “middle-income” affordable level, $2709/month. [Low-income affordable is $1545.] Four weeks ago, it was Sunset Marina LLC [developers Barton Smith and Greg Oropeza] that managed to get around the City’s requirement for 30% [continue reading…]
4:30 PM Monday, August 1: 10 NEW ZIKA CASES IN MIAMI. Miami-Dade asks for help from Monroe County in combating the ZIKA mosquitos. The Bloomberg News headline is “ZIKA NIGHTMARE HITS MIAMI.” The article chronicles the arrival of Florida’s first home grown cases of ZIKA. The YAHOO NEWS head line is “MIAMI BLOOD DONATIONS HALTED OVER ZIKA FEARS.” The article chronicles the fact that Federal authorities have called for a halt to blood donations in Miami as a result of local cases of ZIKA. The [continue reading…]
by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Remember, the first time you drove down US 1 all the way to Key West? We would like to take you from that glittering vision of hundreds of little green islands suspended over endless turquoise waters and sit you down in the boardroom of the County Commissioners who are in charge of protecting that whole magical expanse called the Florida Keys. Few issues in Monroe County have stirred as much passion and cloak and dagger plots as the development of those [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon…… Having been brought up in a rural, one-horse farm, I was used to being alone and doing without group approval. Unconsciously my stance was that I would be compromising my integrity if I were to accept the standards of a world that had always found me lacking in regard sports and the obligatory skills that went with them, or in regard to school with its competitive approach toward any accomplishment. I was only comfortable when I could be myself without being compared [continue reading…]
Dear Editor: This is in regards to the toxic sludge that’s heading our way. Many on the west coast are determined to send it south but that’s not the answer. The Everglades is choked out due to development and can’t handle it and the way they rerouted the flow of water doesn’t allow it like it did in the past. So what to do? After contacting the Corps of Engineers at each lock thru the water ways that come from Lake O to Ft Myers I learned [continue reading…]
The Monroe County Marathon Courthouse is a little more colorful with the recent installation of an eye-catching turquoise bench and sky blue loveseat created by California artist Colin Selig. He makes them from an unlikely source: salvage propane tanks once used to heat homes. His functional sculptures are part of the County’s 1% Art in Public Places program. “These benches create a lovely, quiet space for people who visit and work at the Courthouse,” said Elizabeth Young, Executive Director of the Florida Keys Council [continue reading…]
by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. “I love the place,” says Bryan, a taxi driver, who lives on a boat at Sunset Marina on Stock Island, “I can’t believe we’re going to have to move.” Living aboard — this Key West style solution to affordable housing — is in jeopardy at the marina. While discussing the approval of expanded development during the City Commission meeting last Wednesday, Barton Smith, the developer, revealed that liveaboards would no longer be tolerated at the docks. Smith, an attorney, is [continue reading…]
Sheriff’s detectives are hoping to help locate a Marathon man whose family and friends say they have not seen nor heard from him since June 16th. 48 year old Paul Thomas Murray, who lives on a boat in Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, told family members he was going to help a friend move a sailboat from Robbie’s Marina on Stock Island to Boot Key Harbor on June 16th. A short time after that, the sailboat he was supposed to help move, called the “Hornet” [continue reading…]
by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. This week The Blue Paper received a copy of the FBI’s investigative report on the in-custody-death of Charles Eimers. About a year and a half ago Key West’s Citizen Review Board (CRB) wrote to the Department of Justice asking for an independent review of a drama that shook the town. On the morning of his first day on our island paradise, 61-year-old tourist/homeless person, Charles Eimers, died in police custody. Initially it was reported by KWPD that on Thanksgiving morning an [continue reading…]
by Dennis Reeves Cooper… The Southernmost Point. That big red buoy at the southern end of Whitehead Street. One of the top tourist attractions on the island. But most Key Westers know that the big red buoy does not really mark the actual geographic Southernmost Point. The actual Southernmost Point is supposedly a few blocks on the other side of that fence on Navy property, right? But if the buoy were placed over there, very few tourists would be able to go there and get [continue reading…]
Thousand Cats Hill The Watrous boy said he saw a million cats on the hill in back of the house. His father admonished him that one should alway speak the truth. The boy reduced the number to a thousand. To a hundred. Ten. Well, there was a stray gone wild up on the hill. And it moved so fast it looked like there were two of them. At least two. Maybe more.
by Alexis d’Albissin and Arnaud Girard……. “We’re guinea pigs in their science experiment,“ said Dick Nalley. Like many of his neighbors in Key Haven, he has dotted his front yard with angry placards. The government, you see, together with a British biotech company called Oxitec, plans to release three million genetically modified mosquitoes into their small island neighborhood, 5 miles northeast of Key West. The ultimate goal is to test this new tool for stopping the propagation of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries dengue, chikungunya, and [continue reading…]
by Martha K. Huggins, Ph.D…….. For 21 years I have been an ‘expert witness’ for lawyers representing LGBT clients from Brazil petitioning for asylum in the United States. Seeking to avoid violent persecution in Brazil, as my asylum reports clearly demonstrate, LGBT Brazilians seeking US asylum believe that they are safer in the US than in Brazil. But considering the widespread US homophobia I often wonder, ‘Are LGBT Brazilians really safer in the U.S.?’ Certainly, the Pulse Club slaying in Orlando, Florida calls the safety [continue reading…]
#1 Relay for Life Team Castaways Against Cancer Set Off on 17th Annual Kayaking Trip with the Support of U.S. Century The Castaways Against Cancer, a Relay for Life team ranked 1st in Florida, launched on their 17h Annual kayaking journey, dubbed the “Proof of Life” tour from Virginia Key in Miami, FL on Saturday, June 11. Paddling the equivalent of a marathon a day, the Castaways will paddle a total of 160 miles as a fundraiser supporting the American Cancer Society (ASC) and are [continue reading…]
The Sheriff’s Office began using body worn cameras on Monday. Most uniformed deputies will be required to wear the cameras as a routine part of their uniform. All members who will be using the cameras completed their training last week. The Sheriff’s policy requires they be worn by road patrol deputies and sergeants, school resource deputies, civil deputies, traffic deputies, airport deputies and sergeants and detectives when they are in uniform. Detectives may also wear them when in plain clothes.
The video and photos show a man detectives want to talk to about the theft of a pair of Pelagic brand sunglasses from Bud and Mary’s Outfitters Store in Islamorada on the afternoon of May 31st. The sunglasses are valued at $296. Anyone who recognizes him and can help detectives to identify him should contact Deputy Caridad Bellon at 305-664-6480 or Detective Sgt. Mark Coleman at 305-853-3211.
Detectives in the Upper Keys are investigating three reports involving hidden cameras found in women’s restrooms. In all three incidents, miniature cameras hidden in coat hooks were found mounted on the walls in the women’s restrooms. They were found at Anne’s Beach on May 26th, the Circle K Store at the 99.8 mile marker of Highway U.S. One on May 28th and in the women’s bathroom at Harry Harris Park in Tavernier today [May 31st].