GREEN Reactor: “Been through the DISTORT on a KEY with No Name…”


In the Keys there are two “mainstream” newspapers: the daily Key West Citizen (owned by the Cooke family, previous owners of the LA Daily News and the NFL Redskins, nowadays owners of over a dozenGREEN Reactor smaller papers in FL and NC); and the twice-a-week KeyNoter (owned by the McClatchy Company, 3rd biggest US newspaper publisher, including the Miami Herald).  Though various incarnations of The Blue Paper have been around for almost 20 years, its reach currently pales in comparison to these bigger corporate papers.

Their reach grants them significant impact on local affairs. Quite often government wonks bow to their editorial pronouncements. At a minimum their opinions reach a lot of people who get little other “authoritative” input on local affairs. So those who write their editorials have a strong bully-pulpit to shape local opinion.   The papers feign fairness by offering space to “opposing points of view”, but also place strict limits on timing and size of such responses.  They sometimes rule out input from particular individuals, at their discretion.

Though I have had my own response editorials and letters to the editor published in each paper, I’ve rarely felt that my feedback could come close to having the impact of the original editorials they so authoritatively publish.  Perhaps this GREEN Reactor column won’t do much better, but at least I have space here for full articulation – and also the ability to share freely across the internet.  So allow me here to directly challenge a KeyNoter editorial (“Finally, an end to the No Name electricity fight”) that was published since our last issue.

No Power on No NameI have written previously about the corporate electrification of No Name Key (most recently: here). For those not aware, the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) recently gave our County’s government the excuse they needed to “get themselves out of a local civil war” (as Commissioner Neugent misguidedly refers to it) and allow corporate electrification to the former Solar Community. Because the anti-Solar forces had carefully constructed a set of dominoes to tumble toward this goal, there was no real surprise that it has now happened.  But the back-story and back-stabbing in the KeyNoter editorial that celebrated this fact deserves correction and rebuke.

My biggest concern is their characterization of Alicia Putney, champion of the Solar Community who fought long and hard against the greedy conversion to corporate power.  They state that she “for years enjoyed a reputation as an environmentalist and conservationist but unfortunately has evolved into an obstructionist.”   And for good measure, that she “doesn’t even live full-time on No Name; she spends time in Canada”. (MY GOD, maybe some Canadian has rubbed off on her — we can’t have THAT infecting us purified ‘mercans here, no sir!)

Hate to tell you this Mr. Corporate Newspaper Editorial Writer: The obstructionists are actually the cadre of newcomers who moved into the Solar Community knowing full well that the houses they were buying were legally NOT to be connected to the grid, but saw a chance to obstruct the community itself and profit by doing so. Alicia’s efforts against this was NOT obstruction, any more than the fighters at Dunkirk were “obstruction” of the Nazi war machine in France.  Perhaps – in the face of “the system” here in the Keys – it was a futile or naïve effort.  But such efforts are HEROIC   Alas, there was no Normandy this time, though…

The editorial also claimed that No Name is not a “true” solar community.  DUH.  The Solar Community of No Name fell together long before the “master-developed” solar community designs evolved.  MOST solar communities formed this way.  This makes them no less “true”, just less efficient — but they’re still miles ahead of 99.9% of the rest of our planet’s communities. The mentioning of this point makes the whole editorial suspect… Was it extracted from a press-release by the anti-solar cadre?

Similarly for the “diesel-belching generators are being used there now” argument.  Those have been added by the people bent on destroying the Solar Community.  They didn’t HAVE to use such behemoths.  But they had deep pockets and didn’t give a damn about the community’s solar-nature. Using those generators as an excuse to tear down the community is like telling the indigenous American Indians that their lifestyle was invalid because farms were now in their hunting grounds.  Yeah, we did that – back when we didn’t give a shit about those who were already there.  Haven’t we grown beyond this?

KeyNoter editorials often mention the “will of the majority” of No Name Key homeowners.  First, No Name is not a legal district where only the few people in the area vote on changes based on local “majority”.  Would you like it if a big motorcycle gang moved into your small neighborhood and “voted” that all the ladies there are now shared biker chicks?  Our government has the job of protecting the minorities from over-reaching and insensitive local majorities, such as those that took over No Name Key and insisted that their greed is more important than the existing nature of the community.

Finally, the statement that the rest of the Keys “has no dog in this hunt” is ludicrous.  The environment here is EVERYBODY’s business.  Turning No Name Key into yet another subdivision, instead of the utility-less wildlife sanctuary barrier island it had been designated to be (after having stymied the earlier greedy developer who had plotted out his plan to overrun it with more environmentally destructive homesteads) is something we HAD put behind us.  But now the extra load on all of our resources and on the natural environment is again a distinct issue we will again have to face.

Who’da thunk it – here we are well into the 21st century and we’re going to have to fight back the anti-environment greedy developer battles all over again.  Shame on you, KeyNoter, for applauding this big step backward.

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  13 Responses to “GREEN Reactor: “Been through the DISTORT on a KEY with No Name…””

  1. David:

    Alicia Putney ingratiated herself to a lot of folks, apparently including you. The fact is that solar power is a TOY if it is only connected to a battery bank. I have a solar power system with 6 four-volt Rolls batteries, and 3500 watts on the roof. The batteries are full by 11 AM. After that, all of that wonderful, green, renewable power is wasted. Alicia’s plan was to continue wasting that power. It was a stupid plan, and we finally got a county commission to see that it was stupid.

    The mention of Canada in the editorial was to point out that when it is too damn hot to live in the Keys without air conditioning, Alicia leaves. Those of us who live here year round need air conditioning, so we use gasoline or diesel generators, which have about 6 times the carbon footprint as grid power, and makes an infinite amount more noise.

    Sorry your friend got trashed, but she tried to impose her invalid view on all of her neighbors, and she was finally outvoted.

    • There are many ways to use solar energy to keep ones home going, it’s not just a matter of charging batteries and running off of them. Whether or not the cells are being “wasted” at any point is irrelevant to the issue. And there are various ways to design a house to keep it cool that don’t involve belching diesel. Those noisy generators are an admission that the owners that they don’t care about solar nature of the community they moved into. There was nothing to keep them from moving to a non-solar community, instead they chose to tear it down. THOSE are the people who forced their “invalid view” on their neighbors.

      This has NOTHING to do with ingratiation. And Alicia does not spend all summer in Canada. Like many of us, we have other places we like to spend time at. It’s also true for many of the anti-solar residents of No Name and the Keys and Florida in general. Making a point of this in discussing Alicia and throwing out the “C” word was pandering to the newspaper’s right-wing readers.

      • You are correct, AP does not spend all summer in Canada. She spends her summer partly in Canada and partly in an electrified and air conditioned apartment in Key West.

        As for No Name Key, it was never ever technically labelled nor initially intended to ever be a “solar community”, and you very well know that.

        Anyone who believes so fully in the merits of solar energy can and should cut the cord with the electric company and install a solar system. Interestingly, few if any of those vociferously supporting AP have ever done so, and probably never will.

        It is that very hypocrisy that is so detestable,,,

    • Repeating the same Big Lies doesn’t make them true. The vitriol spewed toward members of The Solar Community (and their legion of supporters throughout the Keys and beyond) would be more rightly directed back at the spewers. They blindly, stubbornly demanded 20th century technology when, with a little communication, cooperation and creativity, they could have produced a win-win solution on No Name, employing 21st century technology.

      Underlying the last four years of contention is the reality that some well-connected and vocal newbies bought property on No Name with the express purpose of bringing commercial electric power and other utilities to the island. Apparently some longtime No Name residents allowed themselves to be manipulated by those with deep pockets and an eye toward major redevelopment on the island.

      As for David’s “friend” being trashed and outvoted, the writer neglected to say “outspent.” Those votes at the Public Service Commission and the Monroe County Commission were bought by years of attorneys’ fees and bankrolled by private money producing a cozy arrangement with Keys Energy to install power poles. Expensive, but it worked.

  2. After reading this, many of us will no doubt wonder which town is officially missing it’s Fool. The writer has shown a shallow disregard for law, fact and simple truth. Therefore, a pox of shame on the author for his willful ignorance and attempted obfuscation of what is right and just. As has been said many times, “when the Law is on your side, pound the Law, and when Facts are on your side, pound the Facts. When you have neither, pound the table.” So go on all of you who insist on living on the “wrong” side of “Right”, pound that table, it does you no good: Right has won, the Law has been upheld and Justice has prevailed.

    Troll on Mr. Lybrand, troll on…

    • Trolling is more commonly defined as anonymous nasty comments directed at an individual seeking hot-headed responses in return — which your post under the anonymous “Raven” (oooo, so scary) handle illustrates well. Anyone who’d like to see an even nastier flock of Trollers should, take a look at any No Name Key story on the Citizen’s website. You’ll witness the vile spewing of the nasty trollers emanating from the anti-solar forces of No Name. It’s such a shame to that the wonderful Solar Community of No Name had to be dismantled, worse that it was by such an uncouth bunch.

      • “Wonderful solar community of No Name Key…”? Your willful blindness to the issues and facts is staggering indeed.

        The intentionally provocative and inflammatory nature of your article, coupled with it being chock-full of misleading information and blatant untruths makes it troll-fare, and not legitimate “news”…

    • In point of fact, the law has not been “upheld,” the law has been “changed.” It’s surprising what money can buy.

      • Pray tell KeysObserver: which “law” has been changed? Besides the one AP changed in the Land Use Plan in order to manipulate the situation to her apparent advantage. And although she did have the Land Use Plan changed, it does not alter the fact that the Comprehensive Plan trumps the Land Use Plan BY LAW, so yes, the Law was indeed upheld. Again, which “law” were you suggesting was changed? Tell the truth now…

  3. ” And there are various ways to design a house to keep it cool that don’t involve belching diesel. ”

    Really? And what might those be? I would love to know how to deal with 90 degree temps combined with 80% humidity without using airconditioners.

    If it’s so easy, why aren’t most of the residents of the Keys doing it. In fact, why aren’t all of these “green” people using solar in their homes? You don’t have to live on Noname to go solar.

  4. It’s just sad that a unique Keys institution or tradition has been allowed to be changed as so much of the rest of the Keys have been – by moneyed interests. Where did the $600,000 really come from eh? $30,000 from each house? And the attorney fees?
    My guess is that someone with deep pockets financed this thing and I am disappointed that Keys Energy allowed it to be done. And I really think some of these people are just plain mean spirited even though they got their own way. I bet they will soon ask for their money back and we all will have subsidized a process that even the people without a dog in this fight can see was corrupted. Very sad , very Florda.

  5. Kudos to you, David, for saying what most of us are feeling about the Keynoter’s ridiculous editorial. And yes, the viciousness of the anti-solar group on that island is unconscionable. You should read some of the slanderous comments they have made, concerning Putney, on’s Coconut Telegraph.

  6. It is interesting to note that not a single supporter of Alicia Putney and John Hammerstrom’s “solar pipe-dream team” who did not already use a solar energy system for their home has disconnected from their electricity provider and bought and installed a solar energy system for their own use. Thus, their blatant hypocrisy is revealed. The bottom line in this issue has nothing to do with the pros and cons of solar vs. commercial electricity. The crux of the issue is simply this: no one has the right to tell any other person in this community what they can or cannot have if it is within their means and within their rights and within the law. At this point, all three have been proven without doubt. Allegations of “viciousness” and “slanderous comments” is absolute rubbish. The Solar Dreamers lost their bogus battle, and they cost the good people of Monroe County a bucket load of money in the process. Most of us are pissed. I suggest you cease your ridiculous diatribes and just get over it…

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