I 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
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.”
Master of Divinity
B.S., Social Science
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/
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
“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
We want to welcome back environmentalist Michael Welber for another in-depth interview.
More like survivalist.
Oh? And why is that?
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.
What is it this time? Did they buy another restaurant? Continue reading
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
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.
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.
Dr. and Mrs. William M. Smith
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
An Open Letter to the County Commission and Administrator.
Competitive bidding works! I recently upgraded my x-ray equipment to digital and spent the better part of a month negotiating individually with four different vendors trying to get the best price. After all that time I only managed to get the price down $ 500 along with offers to include some free optional software and lots of rhetoric about the great price they were giving me and their great service. It finally dawned on me to do what any good business or government purchaser should do. I sent them all a request for competitive bid letter informing them that this would be a one-time bid and to send me their best prices. One Salesman immediately emailed back stating, “You are a very smart man. I will sharpen my pencil and give you a great price.” And he did. Magically overnight the price dropped by almost $ 3000, plus the free software and the great service.
Luckily, I did not believe what the sales people were initially telling me. The competitive bid process quickly cleared the air. My savings went from under 2% to over 10% because they had to bid. To have any hope of getting the contract, they had to give their true best price.
The county commission recently changed county regulations to allow them to extend waste haulers contracts without going out to bid. This is a 10 year $ 105 million dollar decision. Should it be based solely on negotiations with the vendor’s and their rhetoric about price and service? A 10% savings here would save the taxpayers over a million dollars a year. Even half of that is a nice chunk of change. Competitive bidding is the only way to know you are getting the best price. Commissioners, solid waste is a competitive business and competitive bidding works. You should try it.
Dr. Ross Williams
So, private corporations are adding privately funded prosecutors to the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office. Really? Do we have Monroe County prosecutors whose salaries are paid by private companies? “Indirectly, yes, and that deal is unconstitutional,” says local defense attorney Jiulio Margalli.
Margalli is referring to an agreement, entered into last December, by which the Guidance/Care Center (GCC) and Monroe County Coalition (MCC), both private entitles, are paying the State Attorney’s Office for a special prosecutor to “increase prosecutions of DUI cases.”
At first glance I’m sure the reader will react as we did: “Good! Let’s prosecute.” Certainly, the prospect of having less drunk teenagers flipping over their pickup trucks (or worse) is a good thing. Continue reading