Inside Sector Key West

USCG, Key West

USCG Sector Key West

On a 70 degree, blue sky, December day in Key West, I found myself on the west end of the island, outside the guarded, metal gates of the United States Coast Guard Group, Sector Key West. A young, round male in wrinkled blues, held the gate house secure against the food delivery guy and me.

On the nose of 1 PM, my escort arrived. Lt. j.g. Peter Bermont, the USCG’s spokesperson in Key West, and my affable government handler for this interview. He provided me with a tour of the Station and the Cutters, while keeping me out of the secured areas I most wanted to see with a smile and joke. We briefly discussed the mission and activities of the USCG in the Key West Sector, while meandering about the base, getting a view of the ships and buildings. A majority of their focus appears to be on life saving activities, either of Cuban refugees on makeshift rafts, or Search and Rescue in local waters. Enforcement of environmental laws regarding fishing and polluting being the next most significant consumer of time and effort.

Continue reading

Guest Editorial: Cudjoe Regional Sewer Design / A Look Behind The Curtain

whistleblower

whistleblower

CUDJOE REGIONAL WASTEWATER SYSTEM, WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?

Here is another piece of the puzzle on how the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System (CRWS) came to be so very badly designed that those of us who are paying attention actually consider it to be an endangerment to our National Marine Sanctuary, and far from an improvement to existing treatment and disposal. The information herein was not easily obtained. Continue reading

FOL Book Sale Saturday

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Friends of the Key West Library will sponsor their first book sale of the season on Saturday, December 6, 9:30 am to 1:30 pm, in the Palm Garden next to the library, 700 Fleming Street.

This first sale is bursting with books. Art, biography, food, history, hobbies/pets, mysteries, nature/geography are overflowing categories. Children’s and coffee-table books are at super low prices. DVDs and CDs abound. As always, most fiction is a buck a book.

Proceeds go to the library’s programs, books and equipment. Future sales are on first Saturdays, Jan-Apr. Also, check out the ongoing in-library book sales.

A Note from Roger Cousineau, Candidate for Mosquito Control Board District 2

Roger CoisineauI am Roger Cousineau, and I am running to be your Mosquito Control District Commissioner in District 2. I’m a 20 year resident of the Keys. I have a BA in English, served in the US Army, am a former school teacher, an active real estate agent for the past 18 years, and a volunteer with Hospice/VNA of the Florida Keys. As a hobby I manage several honeybee hives. I’m proud and happy to call the Florida Keys my home!

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) has a rich and checkered history. In a period of 15 years Mosquito Control (MC) moved from a reactionary force simply dumping toxins of unknown utility into the environment to a 21st Century science- / evidence-based operation that we rely on today. MC has become a model for mosquito control districts in the US and beyond. We should all be proud. Continue reading

Money is Available for a Top Notch Sewer System / Enough is Enough…

We are Monroe County. We are the people. Many of us have served the visitors, tourists and winter residents one way or another over the years. Without us there is nothing. We pay the taxes, we bring in the money. We are the reason the money is available for a top notch Central Sewer System. The money is not for other projects. How dare these arrogant people assume that a dozen or so should benefit and the rest of us pay the price as they break the law, break peoples spirits and destroy the environment and everything we have worked so hard for. It is time to get the people who don’t care about what we want out of here. It is time to get the people working on their own agenda out of here. Those of you who have payed attention have a good idea what is going on. Remember this when you vote. Enough is enough…………………….

Susan Marburger,

Summerland Key

AUDIT: County Administrator and Three County Commissioners / Misuse of County Purchasing Cards

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Sometimes top County officials buy stolen County iphones.  And sometimes, after they get caught with the iphones and the scapegoat has gone off to jail, they take County issued credit cards and pay for personal items and entertainment and … well, they get caught again.

Let us explain.

Monroe County issues Purchasing Cards [P-Cards] to its top officials.  County Commissioners have them. County Administrator, Roman Gastesi has had 6 of them, sometimes three at a time with a total of $ 75,000 in credit capacity per month.  He also has a tendency to lose them. Continue reading

PRIMARY ELECTIONS IN KEY WEST: Three Different Ballots

canstockphoto18778006I need to start this column with a lecture. If you want to consider yourself a good citizen, you should be registered to vote and you should vote in every election. If you are a non-voter and this statement offends you, so be it. Voting is important because elections have consequences. And this is especially true in Key West and the Keys where elections are often won or lost by just a few votes. Our state lawmakers have made it so easy to vote, as well as to register to vote, that there is almost no reasonable excuse not to vote. A few years ago, the State Legislature introduced Early Voting, which makes it possible to vote during a two-week period (including Saturdays!) before the official election day. In addition, you can avoid going to the polls altogether by using an absentee ballot. Early Voting is already underway for the Primary Election scheduled for August 26. The date of the General Election this year is November 4. Continue reading

Relocation Should Be a Part of DCF Reunification Plans For Struggling Families

Dear Editor,

The Key West Citizen newspaper front page headline on July 25, 2014, “Shelter No Longer A Crash Pad,” reported Randi Cohen Brown, executive director of the homeless nonprofit, stating, “This is Key West: Jobs are not plentiful. Housing is very expensive. This is not going to work for you.”

As house parents for the only children’s shelter and group home in Key West, Monroe County with a humble stipend like salary and subsidized living expenses from 2008-2013, my wife and I were constantly frustrated that child welfare was such a big business for the supporting non-profits family service agencies that they would never mix relocation with reunification.  All the case plans were about parent(s) having a job(s) and housing that would pass a required “home study.”  Homes and hope for these children and parents in the Department of Children and Families (DCF) were built in the beach sand.

Regretfully, the need for a “job” for many professional wraparounds will continue to anchor DCF kids and struggling parents in Monroe County enduring the “perfect storm” of failure.

For many “Another day in Paradise,” but for some it’s “Another day in Poverty.”

Mike Sawyer
Master of Divinity
B.S., Social Science
Denver, CO

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About Mike Sawyer:  summer camp leader for kids ages 6-11 with a Denver inner city non-profit, a substitute teacher, grades K-12, for a Metro-Denver turn-around school district with 13% Caucasians, over 1K published letters promoting health and humanity. Most recent — “Let Love Rule,” http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/july-10-teacher-tenure-hunting-horses-article-1.1860993 )

Join In With GreenKeys! Help Create A More Sustainable Florida Keys

GreenKeys! is using Mindmixer as an outreach and engagement tool. Feedback from the community is critical to the success of the effort.  Their website will include survey questions and other information allowing you to provide your opinions on how GreenKeys! should prioritize strategies and recommendations in the planning process.  Help spread the word about GreenKeys! and the importance of participating in the process of creating a sustainable future for the Florida Keys. Continue reading

Welber on Welber: Special Interest Trumps Climate Action

welber interviews welber

welber interviews welber

“I’m very proud of that,” Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent said after looking through the climate assessment last week. “I’m very proud to be part of an initiation in a region that contains millions of people.”

– Neugent commenting on praise for four-county compact that produced the Southeast Regional Action Plan

Blue Paper

We want to welcome back environmentalist Michael Welber for another in-depth interview.

Welber

More like survivalist.

Blue Paper

Oh? And why is that?

Welber

You’ve probably been snoozing this month, which would actually be a good thing given the continuing inexplicable actions of some of our fine county commissioners.

Blue Paper

What is it this time? Did they buy another restaurant? Continue reading

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

Meet Mayor Murphy at LWV Fifth Tuesday Social, April 29th

Monroe County Mayor Sylvia Murphy

Monroe County Mayor Sylvia Murphy

Monroe County Mayor Sylvia Murphy will be guest of honor at the April 29 Fifth Tuesday social hosted by the Lower Keys League of Women Voters at the Pasta Garden in Duval Square from 5 until 7 p.m.

The meet and greet event continues the League’s practice of holding  an informal gathering in any month that contains a fifth Tuesday. Previous guests of honor have included Lower Keys liaison to Congressman Joe Garcia, Jennifer George-Nichol (now assigned to Washington) and Florida State Representitive Holly Raschein.

Fifth Tuesday socials are open to the community and anyone interested in meeting the plain-spoken and sometimes controversial Mayor Murphy and/or learning about the activities of the local LWV chapter is warmly invited to attend. There will be hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Looking ahead, State Senator Dwight Bullard has confirmed his attendance on July 29. Subsequent Fifth Tuesday socials are scheduled for September 30 and December 30.

Details are available at lowerkeyslwv.org or by phoning LWV President Joan Wallin at (305) 304-9530.

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