Sep 262014

Issue #81 — Friday, September 26, 2014


busses resized

September 26, 2014

by Arnaud and Naja Girard….

It’s 7:30 am at the bus stop on Truman and Emma.  Eleven-year old Dimitri is about to climb into the morning school bus.  Like him, most of the kids sitting on the bus are African American.  Like them, he has a mere 40% probability of graduating from high school with his classmates; a stark difference from his white brothers, who have an 83% graduation rate [2013 data].

When we interviewed parents in Bahama Village about this disparity their responses raised an unexpected red flag.

“I didn’t want my son to go to HOB,” says the mother of a fifth grader, “He’s going to the white school.”

BP:  “The white school?  What do you mean?  What white school?” (more…)

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GUEST EDITORIAL: Mosquito Control Is An Intensive Battle

Let us be clear that Mosquito Control’s focus is to keep the mosquito population at a minimum which is labor intensive and necessary to protect the health of both our residents and our visitors.  Election season is upon us, and as Chairman and an 18 year elected commissioner at Florida keys Mosquito Control I would like to address some statements being made during this election season.

When I was elected to the FKMCD board there was a management change and a change of practices.  These changes we put into place to control larvae (as opposed to blanket spraying insecticide for adult mosquitos) thus dramatically reducing biting adult mosquito numbers.  In addition to the immediate health advantages, these changes resulted in saving County residents millions of tax dollars and reduced the use of adulticides (pesticides) by approximately 80%. (more…)

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Is George Neugent on the take?

First, George. Second, are the Keys corporate media in full defend-the-powerful mode? Third, are the 60% of voters for George in full denial?  Numbers two and three, I’m sure of. About George, what do you think?

George is certainly doing his best to make me believe he has used his votes on grinder pumps and the waste contract to feather his own nest.  I  reported  two  weeks  ago  about  the  mysterious  $ 150,000 increase in his bank account from $ 50,000 in August 2013 to $ 200,000 in June 2014.  In print, I asked anyone to explain how it happened.  I also sent respectful letters to George’s 16 biggest donors begging them to defend George.

I have not heard a word of defense or explanation from George or his supporters. Realize that public documents like the Financial Disclosure Form exist in order to expose suspicious irregularities like this to us, the public. This is exactly how we would find out about a financial kickback: a public servant who reports only his $ 40,000 government salary, and no gifts, somehow adds $ 150,000 to his bank account at a time when mega-million-dollar contracts have gotten his votes. (more…)

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Records Management: The Black Hole in the School District

black hole canstockphotoI am sure that you all have read the press release from Coral Shores High School touting student accomplishments on the various Advance Placement (AP) tests.  Kudos to the Hurricanes for a job well done.

I noticed that neither Key West High School nor Marathon High School published or otherwise broadcast their AP results.  Curious, I requested the AP scores from each of the principals and they promptly replied.

As you might expect from the absence of public commentary, the results in Key West and Marathon were mixed and by no means a cluster of high achievement.  To the contrary, there were instances of certain classes where the results can only be described as poor, if not downright abysmal.  As often as not, fewer than 50% achieved the coveted “3”, which the principals refer to as “passing”.  To be fair, I did not read any class by class results for CSHS and it may be that they had their deficiencies as well. (more…)

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vintage radio canstockphoto

My daughter the lawyer calls me an “accidental academic.” After high school, there was no way that I could afford to go to college. So I joined the army and learned how to jump out of airplanes. After the army, I used the GI Bill to finance a degree in journalism and landed a job in public relations with a large corporation based in New York City. It wasn’t long, however, that I realized that an advanced degree would be helpful if I wanted to progress in my career. Also, in the field of public relations, mass persuasion is the name if the game– and I learned that there were entire programs of study being offered by some universities dealing with persuasion and mass communication. Social psychologists had been studying the effects of mass communication for years, but it was just then becoming an independent field of study. So I returned to graduate school to get a masters degree and, a few years later, I went back again and got a Ph.D in mass communication.

One of the ways I paid my tuition in graduate school was to teach one course every quarter– usually journalism 101. But one quarter, journalism school management asked me to teach a course called Mass Communication in Society. Okay, something different. As I reviewed the textbook, I saw that the content of the course was basically what I expected– the effects of various mass communication media. Newspapers, magazines, radio, television, etcetera, etcetera. And music. Music? Yep, music as a mass communication medium. (more…)

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My wife and I just finished watching all seven, two-hour installments of Ken Burns’, documentary on Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. It left me feeling a bit melancholy, for watching any birth-to- death encapsulated in a few short hours will depress, but such Olympian greatness ending like ordinary mortals is an especially bitter pill to swallow. Ken Burns’ reputation for skillful use of black and white stills melded with music, sound effect and professional actors reciting the written word of the protagonists is mesmerizing and “The Roosevelts, An Intimate History” did not disappoint. (more…)

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because you never asked ad

 As I sit down to write this essay, we are one day out from Super Bowl XLVIII. To sit down and write about the Super Bowl has become much more an exercise in socio-cultural behavior than athletic endeavor. If my memory serves me, this would be the 5th time I’ve written about an event that has become perhaps the most galvanizing moment on the American calendar. With the exception of the essay “Super Bowl XLIII”, where I consciously decided to play the role of a sports writer, every other foray into the subject matter has been made with broader, more universal intentions. An event of this magnitude has philosophical meaning beyond The Game and sport itself. (more…)

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Sheriff Rick Ramsay—Detectives, Deputies & Staff Under His Command—Deliver Commendable Result…

evidence cropped

Words are insufficient in describing the extraordinary brilliance demonstrated by Sheriff Rick Ramsay and his magnificent team of officers, when it comes to their apprehending the individual, who allegedly tortured and killed an innocent dog, because it snored.

Monroe County Sheriff’s detectives and investigators did not have much to go on in capturing their suspect. An exemplary effort, with an inordinate amount of work was necessary to gather the intelligence required to get their man. (more…)

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An Open Letter to Mayor Cates and City of Key West Commissioners

Mayor Cates and Commissioners:

As members of the Key West Golf Course community, we want to express our extreme displeasure with the recent news that the City of Key West may proceed forward with construction of a homeless shelter at the Easter Seals location on College Road.

On August 17, 2014, on behalf of our more than 350 homeowners, the Key West Golf Club Homeowners Association (KWGC HOA) Board of Directors has passed a resolution to oppose the placement of a homeless facility at the Easter Seals location and to pursue litigation options in this matter. (more…)

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Anti-Smoking Campaign Doesn’t Make Sense

Dear Editor,

There seems to be something funny going on. The BOCC’s latest anti-smoking campaign doesn’t make sense to me. They claim that smoking causes 700+ sick days taken by county employees. How does smoking cause one to take a sick day? Also, although they keep ignoring this point, I’d bet that HANGOVERS take FAR more sick days than smoking cigarettes. Even the daily paper has edited that part of my citizen’s voice comment. This seems like a real legal quagmire that a few (or one) fanatic is really pushing this hard! Meanwhile, many very old issues are being ignored or back-shelved yet again. What is your take on this? Could it be a mere distraction while something else is going on?

John K Thomas

Key West, Florida

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Back in 1521 , Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Island of Key West.  The island had been used as a communal graveyard by the Calusa Indians so he named the island Cayo Hueso (Island of Bones). Since that time this tiny island has produced so many interesting and crazy stories. This story is about Key West back in the 1970’s and 80’s, when smuggling was at it’s peak. The characters in (Island of Bones) are strictly fictional and do not represent any citizens of Key West !

                      Enjoy!   — Big Tuna


PART NINE of Island of Bones Series…  (more…)

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HOMETOWN! PAC Final Forum is September 29th at 5:00 pm. Don’t Miss it!

hometown pac






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rainbow knot marriage equality

A Sharp contrast to Pam Bondi

Equality Florida Action PAC, the largest organization dedicated to electing pro-equality candidates in Florida, has endorsed George Sheldon for Attorney General.

“As Florida moves forward towards full equality, the next Attorney General will have a tremendous impact on the everyday lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in our state,” said Stratton Pollitzer, chair of the PAC. “Time and again, George Sheldon has proven that he is an advocate for basic human rights.” (more…)

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OIRF Supports Take Stock In Children

OIRF Take Stock

Kelly Friend, Old Island Restoration Foundation president, presents a $ 2500.00 check to Chuck Licis, program coordinator and Steve Pribramsky,  MCEF President of Take Stock in Children.

Since 1995, non-profit Take Stock in Children has provided a unique opportunity for deserving low-income students to escape the cycle of poverty through education.

OIRF grant funds are earned through the “Key West House Tours”, as well as memberships, donations and rental of the Oldest House gardens.  More information at or call 305-294-9501.

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Take Stock in Children Graduate Story: Paulina Rippere
Paula Rippere

Paula Rippere

The Monroe County Education Foundation (MCEF) is looking for volunteers to mentor students in its flagship program, Take Stock in Children. The MCEF has been helping Monroe County students achieve their goal of earning a degree, certificate, or credential since 1995. Here is an example of how mentoring a student for just 30 to 45 minutes a week can change a student’s life.

Paulina Rippere, Take Stock In Children Graduate, Monroe County 2003

My Take Stock in Children mentor at Key West High School was Helen Rowe. She was wonderful. She worked at the high school, so whenever I wanted to say hello or needed advice I could stop by her office and bounce ideas off of her. She was a great mentor and really helped me through the last couple of years of high school, making plans for college and the future. (more…)

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Conch Poet J.M. Varela Featured Oct. 5 at Blue Heaven

The wit and wisdom of popular Conch poet J.M. Varela takes the stage upstairs at Blue Heaven during the first Sunday monthly meeting of the Key West Poetry Guild on Oct. 5, beginning at 7 p.m. There is no admission fee and all are welcome.

Varela, author of the eclectic collection “Inside the Head of a Conch Women,” turns her sometimes jaundiced and often hilarious eye toward Key West history, customs and characters. The Guild looks forward to premiering some of her more recent work, written, she said, “as a wrap up of four days of Conch Reunions in August and a backlash for so many negative comments about raising children in Key West.” (more…)

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Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden on Agenda for the 16th Annual Florida Keys Birding & Wildlife Festival


Every year, the natural habitats of the KWTF&BG serve as a rest and refuel stop on the Autumnal migration route of birds returning from their summer roosts to the warmth of southern latitudes.   The Stock Island site and its staff also host birders and butterfly enthusiasts participating in the annual Birding and Wildlife Festival.  Scheduled are:

  • Friday, 26th, 10 – noon:  “Birds in the Forest” – a guided tour lead by Phillip Hughes of U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
  • Saturday, 27th, 1 – 3pm: “Butterflies in the Forest” – guided by Leigh Williams and Amy Grimm, butterfly enthusiasts and photographers.  Don’t forget your camera!
  • Saturday, 27th, 4:30 – 6pm:  “Birds in the Forest” – lead by Dr. Mark Whiteside, our renown Key West bird expert.
  • Saturday, 27th, 5:30 – 8pm: “Garden Evening Extravaganza”.  Reception at the Nature Chapel sponsored by Florida Keys Audubon Society and Key West Wildlife Center, featuring a special presentation by Peggy Coontz and feathered friends.

Visit or for details; reservations required.


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Support Environmental Education For Monroe County Students: Have Dinner at Mangia Mangia

mangia mangia botanical gardenSupport Environmental Education F

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4th Annual Habitat for Humanity’s Votes for Notes Musical Competition!

2014 Votes for notes web-banner

Mark your calendar for Habitat for Humanity’s 4th Annual Votes for Notes fundraiser! Local musician Ray West is lining up musical talent for yet another season of this ever-growing, three-night event. New musical talent and popular pros are invited to compete in order to win $ 250 cash and other prizes at the Grand Finale.  At three competitions audience members “vote” for their favorite performers by dropping cash donations in the Habitat vote bucket. Habitat tracks each performer’s total with the winner being announced at the Grand Finale.  Performers are invited to play any or all three nights. Past performers and winners include Phoenix, Moondogs, Billy Brown, The Doerfels, Paul “Shanty” Elliot, Shastina Chiles and so many more! (more…)

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United Way ‘Stuffs the Bus’ with School Supplies
stuff the bus one


United Way of the Florida Keys and its community partners want to make sure that Monroe County students have the supplies they need to succeed at their studies. That’s why they launched “Stuff the Bus,” an effort that produced truckloads of school supplies distributed last week to all 16 Monroe County public schools from Key Largo to Key West.

United Way volunteers showed up early at the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative facility in Marathon and loaded their vehicles with pens, pencils, paper, backpacks, binders, notebooks and other school supplies that had been collected in the “Stuff the Bus” drive. They were welcomed with open arms by the schools who received the items. The items were collected in “Stuff the Bus” boxes at businesses throughout the Keys and at several “Stuff the Bus” events, such as a party at the Hard Rock Café in Key West. About $ 15,000 worth of school supplies were distributed—almost double the amount that were distributed last year. (more…)

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Crown Jules, This is Your Life; ‘Criss Cross’ Screens Oct. 8


In this year’s heating up and always hilarious race for the honor of being Fantasy Fest’s top royalty is a woman who first came to Key West in 1976 and had a brush, of sorts, with Hollywood (the one in California), the motion picture industry and Goldie Hawn.

Julie Hanson, born in Montgomery, Alabama, has worked mostly in restaurant management or hairdressing; in the late 1970s, after a stint at the Esquire Lounge, she “worked parttime at the Eden House, at Rich’s Cafe in the back,” she said. During this time a “writer, Scott Somer, was a guest at the Eden House for a few months. He became a friend to all of us” staffers, she remembered. Somer, it turned out, wrote a book based on Julie as the main character which eventually became a screenplay and finally the motion picture “Criss Cross.” (more…)

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Official Fantasy Fest® 2014 Artwork Announced

Poster Signing Party is Tuesday, October 21, at 5 pm

Fantasy Fest is pleased to announce the artwork chosen for the Official Fantasy Fest 2014 posters and t-shirts. Dozens of fantastic designs were submitted for the poster contest, and with an unrivaled selection of quality work, we are thrilled to announce two separate designs. The official poster will feature artwork submitted by Petar Stracenski and the t-shirt is designed by Rey Flores.

Stracenski is a Key West based artist who wanted to evoke the playfulness and mystery of Fantasy Fest while capturing elements characteristic of Key West. His minimalist design features an anime beauty with a few of Key West’s best known creatures. This poster is sure to look great in any home. Flores’s festive T-shirt design brings a cast of Key West flavored anime characters to the Southernmost Point and will make for a fantastic token of your Fantasy Fest adventure.

Congratulations to Petar and Rey, and a big thank you goes out to everyone who participated in this year’s Poster Contest.  To purchase your very own piece of Fantasy Fest history, or for additional information regarding the t-shirt and poster, contact Tom Sawyer’s Keyboard Advertising at 305-292-9315 or visit

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fort lauderdale film festival

FLGLFF 2014 has expanded to seven days, includes more award-winning and diverse films, and features special events and parties that elevate this Festival to a new level, making it one of the most highly regarded LGBT film festivals in the nation.

FLGLFF takes place Friday, October 10 through Sunday, October 12 and resumes Thursday, October 16 through Sunday, October 19. (more…)

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learn about the butterflies

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 The Blue Paper #81  September 26, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 am # Full Issues #

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