Dennis Reeves Cooper being interviewed by Bill O’Reilly on the Fox News Channel in 2001. Cooper founded the Blue Paper in 1994 and was editor and publisher for 18 years before he retired in 2012.
When I was editor of Key West The Newspaper– the Blue Paper– back in the “old days,” we published a “Story of the Year” feature at the end of each year. Here’s a look back at a few years of those stories.
2000. Our Story of the Year of the year 2000 was the defeat of 20-year incumbent State Attorney Kirk Zuelch at the polls. Few election-watchers thought that could happen. After two decades in the office, Zuelch was thought to be too powerful, too entrenched to get voted out of office. Zuelch was so comfortable in office that he no longer even tried to hide his use of his position to forward the objectives of his powerbroker pals. Selective enforcement of the law was routine. And it was in your face. It was said that Zuelch could even make judges quake beneath their robes. Lawyers with clients facing prosecution by Zuelch’s office often advised their clients to take just about any plea offer coming from the state attorney’s office (SAO) because “the judges do not often rule against Zuelch.”
A PERSONAL NOTE: We here at the Blue Paper were never among Kirk Zuelch’s best friends. For years, we repeatedly published stories that exposed corruption inside the SAO. Less than a year after the voters ousted Zuelch from office in 2000, Key West Police Chief Buz Dillon had me arrested for writing something he didn’t like– and the case went to the SAO for prosecution. New State Attorney Mark Kohl refused to prosecute because, he said, the law Dillon used to have me arrested was unconstitutional. He was right. A couple of years later, a panel of three federal judges did rule 3-0 that the law was, indeed, unconstitutional– and new free speech law was made in Florida. However, had Zuelch still been in office, it is unlikely that he would have made the same decision that Kohl made. In fact, it is quite likely that Zuelch would have enthusiastically gone forward with prosecution. I and my ACLU lawyers would have eventually won in court– but had Zuelch still been in office, things would have been way different for me for a couple of years as the case worked its way through the courts. Continue reading »