Jul 082016
 
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Kevin Diaz, candidate for State Representative for District 120

I write today in order to respond to Mayor Heather Carruthers response piece, which was published in The Blue Paper and the Monroe County official webpage last week. The spirited response by our Mayor paints my opinion piece as misinformed and misguided as to the issues our community faces. The truth is that the Mayor, on behalf of our state representative, attempts to frame the Florida Keys Stewardship Act as legislative perfection; a level of perfection never seen before in American politics. The Mayor puts aside the fact that the Representative, with the Mayor’s help, wrote the Act, and I only seek to inform the public of potential short-comings and ambiguous language that could cause harm to our community. Instead of taking a victory lap, or levying insults before the people truly know the details of the Act, maybe we should be taking the time to work together to reconcile the purported shortcomings.

First, the Mayor argues that anyone who takes 15 minutes to learn about the land authority would know they serve the dual purpose of protecting environmentally critical land and building affordable housing. Maybe the Mayor should take a step back to properly digest the point of my piece. How can a Florida bill, and the land authority, serve the dual purpose of building housing and protect environmentally sensitive land, when the housing being belt could come at the cost of environmentally sensitive land? The two goals conflict with one another, but maybe those in power would like to paint the picture of perfection in order to avoid public unrest.

Second, the Mayor states that it is illegal to sell off environmentally sensitive land; she even points out that the local authority now needs to approve the sale of environmentally sensitive land. The local authority does need to approve the land sales, but the Mayor conveniently omits the fact that since 2013 at least 17 parcels of land have been reclassified as surplus lands. If not for local outcry these environmentally sensitive lands would have been sold. But rather than politicizing a decision at the local level, the Act could have prohibited such sales in the Florida Keys area altogether. Instead the Act acknowledges that the sale of conversation lands in the Florida Keys may occur.

The Mayor states the definition of affordable housing (defined as 160% above the median household income) was created 30 years ago. What she does not state, is she and the Representative knew of this definition and never attempted to inform the people of this language. What she also does not state, is the fact the Act reauthorizes this definition. They had the opportunity to redefine affordable housing, but they passed and allowed it to continue.

I very much appreciate the Mayor’s response piece because it shows she cares enough to provide an alternative perspective to this Act; a perspective that should have come from our State Representative, as the person in charge of state legislative matters. There is one point made by the Mayor that I fundamentally agree with though: the people should be the ultimate deciders as to the purported benefits and shortcomings of the Act, and I encourage everyone to read the bill and all supporting documents in order to arrive at their own opinion. I believe it’s time for those who claim to fight for our best interest to stop insulting those who attempt to inform the public of potential issues with legislative acts. In addition, I believe some elected officials should focus on helping our community instead of claiming perfection in legislative matters, and taking a victory lap when we are far from reaching our goals and solving our problems. Public service is one of never ending work; perfection is the unicorn of democracy, and anyone who makes such claims would seem either not to understand the issues of the day, or intentionally mislead those who seek genuine change.

I welcome more positive exchanges with the Mayor and hopefully the Representative herself.

Thank you
Kevin Diaz, candidate for State Representative for District 120

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 July 8, 2016  Posted by at 12:44 am Issue #174, Letter to the Editor  Add comments

  3 Responses to “Kevin Diaz Response to Mayor Heather Carruthers”

  1. There are definitely some strong indicators of flimflam. First, there was very straightforward language about purchasing land to reduce hurricane times in an early version of the bill. A watered-down version of that language remains in the FKSA. Hurricane evacuation times are the main obstacle to additional development.

    Second, according to county documents there was language to be included that would preserve the existing Mayfield interlocal. This was important for entities that still have water quality projects to build and/or pay for. Including the county! It was never included. That puts the Keys back at square one in terms of unity and throws the claim that this bill is about water quality into question.

    Third, in her interview with Jenna Stauffer, Raschein claimed that the county had a plan to purchase environmentally sensitive land first. When I asked the county to provide a copy of this plan, they said there was no such thing. Here is a link to that correspondence:

    https://therealpoopdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/gmail-public-records-request-stewardship-act.pdf

    If the FKSA is all about the environment then why is there so much emphasis on removing obstacles to development? If the Mayfield distribution was supposed to be preserved then why wasn’t it? And if there’s a county plan to purchase conservation land first, then why doesn’t the county know about it?

    By the way Carruthers is apparently very proud of her letter. She posted it on her Facebook page, too. I asked my questions there. No response yet. This is typical behavior for sleazy county officials. If they think they’re the only one holding a whip, they’re more than happy to use it. But if you’ve got the facts to challenge their inconsistencies, they go quiet and play opossum. Typical. Seen a thousand times.

    Hopefully Carruthers or Raschein will respond to Diaz in substantive way. They owe that to the public they are supposed to serve.

  2. Thank you, Kevin Diaz, for having the nerve to challenge the “stewardship act” and name its authors, Heather Carruthers and Holly Raschein, and for inviting Holly to speak for herself on the act she sponsored in the Florida legislature. I had hoped we’d see Holly’s reply to you in this blue paper issue, but I do not see it there.

    That seals it. Holly lost my vote. It’s her bill. So the buck stops with her. If she does not defend her own bill, then that tells me she ain’t all that sure about it herself. I’m a simple idiot. And lazy, if what somebody does, or doesn’t do, which should be done, does not pass my smell test.

    Even so …

    Never in my remaining years on this planet will I be persuaded that so-called, or even actually affordable housing, is infrastructure. That Holly’s bill makes so-called affordable housing infrastructure tells me her bill is developer friendly, since we know who builds so-called affordable housing in Monroe County – developers.

    We got a perfect dose (example) of that during Wednesday night’s Key West city commission meeting, reported in the blue paper’s lead article in this Friday edition. We also were schooled once again during that commission meeting, by the developer, another developer, Ed Swift, not involved in that development, the city planner, and by some elected city officials, that developers cannot make enough money on so-called affordable housing, unless they are given incentives to build it (free land, waiver of impact fees, fewer actually affordable units in the mix, etc., etc.)

    $5 million a year from Tallahassee, spread between several different competing wide- open hungry Florida Keys municipality’s mouths, is peanuts.

    Wasn’t $5 million what was provided by Tallahassee for a pilot project to fix, or try to fix, just a few of about 500 polluted canals in the Florida Keys? Polluted, because they were allowed to be built by developers in the first place. Polluted, because they were dug too deep, and too long, and too windy, and dead-ended, so natural tidal flow could not keep them clean and fresh? Does this bill deal with that? Not in what I have read, so far.

    How do you really fix a polluted canal. You fill it in, is how. And when the takings lawsuit is filed against the county for having that done, the county cross sues the plaintiff for having a polluted canal, which the county was forced to fill in, to protect mother nature from the plaintiff.

    I agree, the beneficiary of reducing the hurricane evacuation timetable is contractors who get to build wider roads, and developers who get to build more houses, condos, etc. There is no way that benefits Mother Nature. Either.

    The natural propensity for elected officials (politicians) to say one thing when they are trying to get legislation passed, and then do something else entirely with the legislation after it is passed, or their successors in office do that, certainly does not caused me to leap for joy over the so-called stewardship act.

    Right now I’m reminded of Jim Hendrick, a former county attorney, prosecuted and convicted in federal court of witness tampering and conspiracy, arising out of allegations he facilitated a bribe, by developers, while he was county attorney, of a Monroe County commissioner, Jack London, who escaped prosecution by dying,

    After being disbarred and released from jail on federal probation, Hendrick started a real estate development consulting business named Critical Concern, Inc., playing on Tallahassee having made the Florida Keys an area of state critical concern. I think Tallahassee did that with one other part of Florida?

    I was playing chess with Hendrick in his old law office, by then his real estate development consulting office, when a man Hendrik he knew, but I didn’t know, came in and interrupted us. He and Hendrick talked about various things, and then he asked Jim if he might ever try to get his law license reinstated? Probably not, Hendrick said. Why not? Because I’m doing everything I did when I practiced law, but go to court, Hendrick said.

    Jim Hendrick is a whole lot smarter and craftier than Heather Carruthers and Holly Raschein, combined. He is salivating over the loopholes, crevices, golden opportunities he sees in the so-called stewardship act, for developers to make out like the bandit Barton Smith, Esquire, made out in Old City Hall this past Wednesday night.

    For a while, Smith’s law office was in the same law firm as Jim Hendrick’s office. Hendrick tutored Smigh during that time. Hendrick used Smith in a deal before the county commission regarding David Wolkowsky’s off shore island, in an effort to get the county commission to pass a rule, law, or whatever, which would make Wisteria Island exempt from county offshore island rules and regs – right Naja and Arnaud?

    Turned out, Wokowsky claimed he had no idea Barton Smith had represented him before the county commission. God was not on duty that day, Wolkowsky told the blue paper. Jim Hendrick ripped up the blue paper’s article in a comment under it. I found something Jim had written, which 100 percent contradicted what he wrote to the blue paper, and I put that into a comment under Hendrick’s comment. Hendrick made no further comments under that article.

    Back when Wisteria Island was a really hot item in Key West, and was before the county commission for development approval, Heather Carruthers had a birthday party at Sunset Key, which was owned by the Walsh family, who were partners with the Bernstein family in trying to turn Wisteria Island into Sunset Key Deux. Jim Hendrick was Bernstein & Walsh’s real estate development adviser re Wisteria Island. Deux. Carruthers saw nothing amiss about having her birthday party at Sunset Key. She was abashed that her friend Naja Girard told her that wasn’t a cool thing to do.

    I kinda doubt such institutional knowledge is welcome with open hearts by people who don’t know about it, or don’t want anyone new to know about it, but, dang it folks, the past cannot be erased, it cannot be ignored, as it really does tend to repeat itself. And repeat itself. And repeat itself

    Kevin Diaz, here’s something this ex-real estate and tax lawyer would like for you to chew on and see if you can figure out.

    There is plenty of talk on the county commission about takings lawsuits, in which the county government is sued, say, by someone owning land that was declared too environmentally sensitive to have a house, or houses, built on it; or by someone owning land on which a house, or houses, can be built, but there are no ROGO building rights available. Both restrictions, environmentally sensitive lands and ROGO restrictions, were imposed by Tallahassee on the Florida Keys when they became an area of state critical concern.

    So why does the county government, and not Tallahassee, get sued in those kind of takings lawsuits? Is it because Tallahassee has “sovereign immunity”? If so, or if not, what’s to stop the county government from pleading as a defense to such takings lawsuits, all the way up to the Florida Supreme Court, then up to the U.S. Supreme Court: It was Tallahassee that took your land, not us; we’d have been thrilled to let you pave over the Florida Keys, if Tallahassee had kept letting us get away with it.

    I could rattle on a good while longer, so many juicy spiders and spiny sea urchins yet to mention raised by the so-called stewardship act, such as declaring environmentally sensitive lands nor longer are environmentally sensitive, but I’ll give it a rest for now.

    Maybe a vacuum needs to be created, in which Mother Nature forms her own response to the so-called stewardship act. A Category 5 hurricane land-falling Key West and waltzing the entire length of the Florida Keys would protect Mother Nature far more from the invasive species, humans, than the so-called stewardship act.

    Sloan Bashinsky, Key West write-in mayor candidate, November ballot”

  3. Carruthers did respond to my questions on her Facebook page, and was actually pretty civilized. I had follow up questions, of course.

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