Issue #35 — Friday, November 8, 2013
by Arnaud and Naja Girard…..
Balfour Beatty, the giant military housing contractor, will soon play its last card in the game of not paying Monroe County $ 11.5 Million in back property taxes. On November 20th in Key West Balfour’s attorneys will try to convince Judge David Audlin that Florida and federal law exempt private military housing contractors from paying property taxes.
Whatever the Court decides it will have far reaching consequences for military bases all over Florida and across the nation.
In Monroe County, the school district will be the biggest winner if Balfour is forced to pay property taxes. Indeed 80% of local school funding comes from property taxes. Funding has been so low in recent years that last year’s budget cuts were in the neighborhood of $ 6.2 Million.
by Dennis Reeves Cooper…….
NOTE: For years, the large piece of undeveloped Navy property at White Street and Palm Avenue was used as a park by Key Westers. So when the Navy announced that the property, known as Peary Court, was to be developed for military housing, many locals protested. They argued that the Navy really didn’t need any more housing in Key West and, in fact, was in the process of reducing its presence in here. But it was a hard argument to win. The Navy owned the property and that was that. And construction began in 1993. But former City Commissioner Harry Powell apparently felt stronger about the issue than other protesters. On January 13, 1994, Powell showed up at the construction site and barricaded himself inside of a construction trailer with explosives strapped around his chest. He said he would give himself up if he received assurances that the decision to develop Peary Court would be reviewed by top brass in Washington. Finally, after an all-day standoff, somebody promised Harry that the already-underway development would be reviewed. He was arrested, tried and spent nearly a year in prison.
From the beginning, however, there was the question, “Was Harry Powell right?” Below is a re-publication of a page one commentary published in Key West The Newspaper on February 25, 1994. The author is former City Commissioner George Halloran. More recently, the question may have been answered more definitively when the Navy signed an agreement with a private company to lease units at Peary Court to civilians.
ONE THOUSAND HARRY POWELLS!
by George Halloran
It is 3:30 in the morning and this thing has taken me from a sound sleep to a computer rage. “Wait until morning,” said the body. “No! Get your lazy ass out of bed now” said the brain, “while it is still legal in Key West to say the words PEARY COURT.” The dream had been of Harry Powell, and now I realize there should be one hundred Harry Powells. One thousand! The streets of Key West should be full of us, marching, chanting, shouting about the biggest display of waste and deceit in a decade. Every journalist in the city should be making this a career. We are literally inside of a huge government coverup, every bit as slimy as Warergate, just as outrageous as a $ 200 hammer or a $ 5000 toilet. As scary as Uncle Sam feeding LSD and nuclear waste to unwitting human guinea pigs.