bad to the bone, love and kisses too, school re-segregation and dirty rotten polluting cruise ships, in Key West

playing cards

Yesterday, I received a last-minute telephone call inviting me to fill in a local every Friday elderly ladies party bridge game at the senior center next to the Harvey Government Center on Truman Avenue, in Key West. One of the regular ladies had taken sick.

After I got there, the lady who had called me asked me how I was doing? Not a good question to ask me, I said. She said she had read the article about me in the newspaper, about me sleeping nights in the police station, and it had cracked her up laughing.

I said, I had to excel in something, I excelled in being bad.

Ha, ha.

We were partners twice yesterday. The second time around we scored a zillion points, and she ended up winning the entire afternoon’s game and claiming the $3 1st prize. We each put up $1. The lowest score, the “booby”, got the remaining $1. I came in 2nd, thanks to that last round with her. During which I made a gamble bid, figuring it was 50/50, of 4 hearts, a game bid, vulnerable, so extra points if we made the bid, she would play it. She nearly fainted. My Ace, Queen, Jack of Hearts were better than hers, but she had the King and 5 more hearts. She played the hand beautifully, made the bid. It made her day. Then, she learned she had won the entire afternoon game.

During the earlier play, she had told us of a time back when she waited too long, her local doctor, an internist, scolded her, to come see him about a blood clot showing on her leg. He told her to go immediately to Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach. Not to our local hospital. She drove up there the next day, which was Friday. She left Key West early to get there before noon. Mt. Sinai told her it wasn’t an emergency, they only took emergencies on weekends. Go away, come back another day. She drove all the way back to Key West that day, and went back up there another day.

Bizarre, yes?

Our hospital could not deal with a blood clot?

dream-catcher.jpgNaja

Perhaps just in case people who have been reading my ravings at goodmorningkeywest.com lately, who might be newcomers, or old timers suffering ageheimers, or otherwise preoccupied or impaired, are thinking all I’m involved in down here in paradise pretend is homeless dramas, my friend Naja Girard, above, came to me in dreams the night before last and last night, pointing me toward other things to scribble about.

blue paper logo

Naja and Arnaud

The blue paper, as Key west the Newspaper (thebluepaper.com), published online every Friday by Naja and hubby Arnaud, had a notice up yesterday (Friday) that the editor had come down with the flu in the midst of publishing, and to check back later in the day, and hopefully there would be something new and exciting to read. I didn’t see it last night, but when I went online this morning, there was a blue paper email blast in my inbox, so I opened to the blue paper and found two kick ass articles, the first about resegregation in Key West schools, the second about a cruise ship line being busted by the Feds for dumping their bilges in the ocean.

Below are teasers to the two articles, the links in which you can open and read the articles. Below each teaser is my submitted corroborating reader comment.

school bus with kids

gerald adams school buses

The controversy over Key West’s charter schools rocked the school board during last week’s meeting.  “How do we know this is not going to be another white-flight school?” asked longtime school board member Andy Griffiths about a new charter middle school.  Some fear an exodus of white students toward charter schools will leave the district run public schools with insufficient resources and failing grades. For others, the specter of re-segregation is simply intolerable.

We decided to update and republish our previous investigation into the re-segregation of Key West’s schools; the tricks of the trade: 

Monroe County’s Secret Roadmap to Re-segregation

Continue reading »

Responses to “MONROE COUNTY’S SECRET ROADMAP TO RE-SEGREGATION”

  1. Bravo!!!

    This “can of worms” just doesn’t seem to want to go away, does it?

    However, I have heard on the “grapevine” that many black parents in Key West prefer their children attending Gerald Adams, than other Key West elementary schools.

    Given the outrageous high cost of living in the Florida Keys, especially Key West, and the not exactly exciting starting pay for new teachers, I can’t see black Miami area school teachers being too terribly thrilled about relocating to the Florida Keys, especially Key West.

    Oddly, I can’t say I remember from when I lived on Little Torch Key and ran for school board in 2012, any mention if school segregation at candidate forums or in the local news media; nor at school board meetings, which I attended pretty regularly, as well as the school board’s audience and finance committee meetings. Nor do I recall school segregation being raised during the public interview of the school board candidates in 2012, for the first appointed, as opposed to elected, supervisor of schools held at Marathon High School. However, I do remember one of the school board candidates in 2012, who lived in the same district as me, drove his kids to Poinciana, past Sugarloaf School. I knew then there was something fishy in the lobster trap.

    Nor do I recall school segregation being raised in the 2016 school board race, but then, I did not attend any candidate forums this year, so perhaps segregation was raised at candidate forums. However, I do remember the earlier version of this courageous blue paper article. Shades of the freedom riders! And I do remember thinking pigs might fly, lipstick and all, before anything was done about segregation in the schools. Stuck ever in the back of mind is a black friend, born and raised in Key West, once telling me that white Conchs didn’t view blacks born in Key West at Conchs.

    Me, personally, I think we would not be having this discussion today, if, in 2012, the school board had chosen Ed Shine, PhD, to be its first appointed superintendent of schools, instead of Mark Porter, who had been fired by his Minnesota school district and was out of work when he was picked over a far more superior candidate. Dr. Shine had enjoyed stellar terms as superintendent of schools in two different New York State school districts. During his public interview at Marathon High School, Dr. Shine made the school board members look like ignorant, juvenile country bumpkins.

    During a break in the interview process, school board member Andy Griffiths told Todd German and me that there was no way he could vote for Dr. Shine, because Dr. Shine had had so much more money per student to work with than our school district provided. Todd and I jumped down Andy’s throat. I told Andy I would bust his ass the next morning, if he stuck to that position. Andy made Mark Porter his first choice, and Dr. Shine his second. For blue paper readers who do not know, Todd is Chairman of the Board of the Collegiate Charter School here in Key West, which holds classes at Florida Keys Community College. My recollection is, Naja and Arnaud’s children attended that school for a while, before deciding to switch to Key West High School?

    I had conversation with Dr. Shine during a break at an earlier public meeting where citizens got to meet, speak with and hear the superintendent of schools candidates answer questions from the audience. Dr. Shine was very much into vocational education. He understood the practicality. He did not like standardized test. During his interview at Marathon High School, Dr. Shine told the school board members that only two times a year should standardized tests be front and center. He was into teaching readin’, writin’ and rithmetic’. He was into teaching the humanities. He was into finding what interested students, and steering them toward that. He was NOT interested in one size fits all. A cookie cutter school curriculum tailored to teaching to standardized tests and every student going to college, which was a pipe dream. Half of Florida Keys students had no chance of going to college. Half of high school graduates who did go to college, dropped or flunked out. Most of the high school graduates who eventually graduated from college could not get jobs that would make them a living.

    Asked by the school board members for one thing he had done, which had rocked the boat when he was superintendent in New York state?, Dr. Shine said, shortly after he was first made superintendent for the first New York school district he would look after, he went to a convention for superintendents of schools. One of the speakers, who was a director over several school districts, thus above superintendents, went on a rant against blacks. Dr. Shine made it known, if that was how it was in New York school districts, he would not be attending any more such conventions. Word of that got out at the top of the New York school system, Dr. Shine was interviewed by the state school honchos, and the district director was fired.

    You’d have thought the oxygen was sucked right out of the Marathon High School room where our school board members were interviewing Dr. Shine. Like, Oh my God! Dr. Shine is a …. Arg! …. Whistleblower! No, Dr. Shine was man. He was grown up. He was mature. He was courageous. He was wise. He was the very last thing this tinker toy school board wanted for its superintendent of schools. When the school board chose Mark Porter 1st, Dr. Shine 2nd, Todd German told me he was thrilled, Porter is a Rockstar! I said, if Porter is a Rockstar, Dr. Shine is Jesus Christ Superstar. No comparison between the two. Dr. Shine would have encouraged and welcomed whistle blowers.

    During that campaign that year, my mantra was the school district is terminally, dysfunctionally insane, and either the Florida Department of Education takes over and runs all of the Florida Keys regular schools, or all of the regular schools vote to become charter schools and in that way they become community schools with their own boards of directors and out from under the control of the school board. My other mantra was every Florida Keys student should be fluent in touch typing and in English and Spanish by the time they enter high school. And every one of them should have a trade by the time they graduate from high school, which can support them, whether or not they go on to college.

    During a candidate forum on Key Largo in 2012, I told the audience I was voting for Claude Bullard for the state legislature. Claude was sitting right in front of me in the audience. Because he is a career school teacher. He does not like standardized tests. And, I did not say, because he is black and he knows that terrain in Florida schools.

    cruise ship mud

princess-cruise-shipo-cartoon-reduced

Company to Pay $40 Million and Implement Remedial Measures on All Carnival Companies Visiting U.S. Ports

During the campaign leading to the Key West Channel dredging referendum, the question of the efficiency of cruise ship waste water system came to the forefront of the debate. After years of litigation, the image of wastewater tanks regularly overflowing into the bilge of the Caribbean Princess is reaching the public. The Caribbean Princess is one of the cruise ships that visits Key West during the winter season. Here is the account of a runaway sewer system, secret discharge pipes and onboard monitoring equipment tampering.Continue reading »

Responses to “Princess Cruise Lines To Pay Largest-Ever Criminal Penalty For Deliberate Vessel Pollution”

  1. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Bravo!!!

    Gosh, how well do I recall Robin Lockwood, M.D., then president of KW Chamber of Commerce, saying at a “channel-widening study” forum sponsored by the Chamber, that the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships were calling on Key West (and had been since the beginning of cruise ship time), and that’s why the channel needed to be widened: so bigger, longer, new cruise ships, with modern wastewater treatment plants on board, could get into Key West’s harbor (but no mention of ever stopping the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships from calling on Key West).

    A friend told me as he was leaving that forum, that he had heard Dr. Lockwood say he probably should not have said that. The next morning, a video of the forum was on the Chamber’s website. What Dr. Lockwood had said was reported in that morning’s Key West Citizen. Then, the Chamber took down the video, saying it was the Chamber’s video, it did not have to share it with the public.

    The next “channel-widening study” forum was hosted by Ed Russo, the boyfriend of Jennifer Hulse (now they are married). Jennifer then was the Chamber’s lawyer, who herself had been the Chamber’s hit woman at all prior public forums on widening the channel. Jennifer argued strenuously that the referendum was only about a study, it was not about widening the channel. In the next breath, Jennifer said the referendum was about jobs and the economy. Jennifer said cruise ships would stop calling on Key West (one could only hope!), if the channel was not widened to accommodate the newer bigger cruise ships.

    At Ed Russo’s ensuing forum, moderated by Ezra Marcus, of US 1 Radio, Jolly Benson represented the anti- bigger cruise ships forces (aka, the patriots), while Lockwood and Hulse sat side by side representing the Empire.

    Also siding with the Evil Empire, all along at forums, John Dolan-Heitlinger, an employee of Historical Tours of America, which ran (and still runs) conch trains out to cruise ships on the outer mole pier, to bring passengers into HTA terminals and gift shops, paid over half a million $$ by the city annually to do that. HTA is Ed Swift’s company. Never saw Ed at any of those forums, and Dolan-Heitlinger never told the audience he was Swift’s proxy at those forums, or that he had started a pro-channel-widening study PAC for Ed, so that he could be on the panel at all of those forums as Ed’s proxy.

    Well, when I got my chance to put a question to the panelists, I addressed Dr. Lockwood. I told him what he had said at the previous forum: the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships are calling on Key West. I told Lockwood, as the Chamber’s representative, that I was wondering why, if the Chamber knew those cruise ships were calling in Key West, why the Chamber had not been raising bloody hell about it all along? Why had the Chamber not been trying to get those ships stopped from calling on Key West?

    At that point, Jennifer Hulse said she would answer for Lockwood. Earlier in the forum, Jennifer had told the audience she was lawyer, and as such he was able to see the issue differently and better than the audience. I told Jennifer I, too, was a lawyer and to be quiet; I had addressed my question to Lockwood, not to her. Lockwood was who had said at the Chamber’s forum that the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships were calling on Key West. I want him to answer my question about why the Chamber has not been raising bloody hell about that.

    So, I said to Lockwood, please answer my question. Lockwood said he had not said that at the Chamber’s forum. Whereupon Jolly Benson, bless his insurgent heart, said he had heard Lockwood say it. Had anyone else present heard him say it? Half the hands in the perhaps 50 people audience went up.

    I continued trying to get Lockwood to answer my question, until Ezra Marcus cut me off. I told Ezra, tell Lockwood to answer my question. Ezra asked Lockwood a different question, designed to let him off the hook. I told Ezra, that was not the question I asked. Lockwood. Ezra told me to be quiet. I did not be quiet. I kept after Lockwood. Ezra turned off my microphone. I kept after Lockwood for a while without any microphone, then I shut up and went back to my seat.

    That’s the same Dr. Lockwood who sits on the hospital board, on whose watch the hospital went to hell. That’s the same Dr. Lockwood, whose son Robert beat Trish Dochtery-Gibson in the Public Defender race.

    When Hometown PAC’s “channel-widening study” at Tropic Cinema rolled around, the last forum that year, I took two of the Hometown panelists, Bill Becker, news coordinator of US 1 Radio, and Richard Grusin, who used to have his own radio program in Key West, broadcast out of Tropic Cinema some mornings. I told them John Dolan-Heitlinger worked for Ed Swift at Historic Tours of America. That Dolan-Heitlinger had formed a sham PAC, just to get on the panel at channel-widening study forms. That not once had he disclosed he was Ed Swift’s plant at those forums. Not once had any panelists disclosed that, even though they all knew it. I urged Bill and Richard to ask Dolan-Heitlinger to tell the Hometown audience that he worked for Ed Swift and had started the PAC so Swift could have a voice on the channel-widening study forum panels.

    Guess how that went? It didn’t went. Neither Becker nor Grussin asked Dolan-Heitlinger the questions.

    Back during the run up to the “channel-widening study” forum, word from local sailors and fishermen was cruise ships were going off shore and dumping there wastewater and ground up food wastes in the sea.

    I first learned of this breaking news in yesterday’s Key West Citizen. Here’s an excerpt from the Citizen article:

    “Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer told a news conference the penalty is the largest ever of its kind. A plea agreement filed in federal court also requires Carnival Corp., parent company of the Princess line, to submit 78 cruise ships across its eight brands to a five year environmental compliance program overseen by a judge. Ferrer said the illegal practices came to light when an engineer aboard the Caribbean Princess discovered the “magic pipe” in 2013 off the coast of Great Britain and told investigators about it. Authorities later learned the 952-foot ship had been illegally dis charging oily water into the ocean since 2005. “Our open seas are not dumping grounds for waste,” Ferrer said. “One thing we must never do is take our clear blue oceans for granted.” A single illegal discharge dumped 4,227 gallons of oil-contaminated waste about 20 miles off the coast of England on Aug. 26, 2013, according to court documents. The same ship has visited Key West a number of times in recent years. The documents also show illegal practices were found on four other Princess ships, including use of clean ocean water to fool onboard sensors that would otherwise detect dumping of improperly contaminated bilge water. Authorities say cost savings was the motive and that the ship’s officers and crew conspired to cover up what was going on.”

    Lame. The cruise ship company bosses saying they were unaware of the dumping until their ships got caught, and they were really sorry … that their ships got caught. They KNEW. They had totally computerized ships. Everything those ships did was in the computers. Including the amount of wastewater produced and disposed of, somewhere. Including the amount of food scraps produced and disposed of, somewhere. Including the amount of oil and its byproducts produced and disposed of, somewhere. If not on shore in disposal/treatment plants, then where? Off shore, obviously.

    Oh, alien space crafts took it off the ships to use as fuel for those ships and food for the aliens.

    Do you think this “breaking news” matters to the KW Chamber of Commerce?

    How about to Mayor Cates and the city commissioners?

    How about to Ed Swift?

    The “channel-widening study” referendum went down in flames. Thereafter, only two people known to me in Key West clamored for the city to stop receiving those cruise ships: Me, and Jerry Weinstock, MD., a retired psychiatrist turned environmental scientist and activist. Just two people kept clamoring for Key West to ban those dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships from calling on Key West.

    Oh, but that would be illegal, I kept hearing. Freedom of the seas. Freedom of public transportation. Freedom of commerce. It’s a federal issue, not a city issue. It’s a state issue, not a city issue.

    Baloney.

    The city could have stopped providing harbor assistance: tug boats, dock crews, conch trains, disembarkation ramps. The city could have stopped selling Florida Keys Aqueduct water pumped down here from the mainland to cruise ships, which bought their fresh water here, instead of in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami before departing for the Caribbean.

    Where went that horde of patriots after they crushed the “channel-widening study referendum?” They went the same place Dr. Lockwood, Jennifer Hulse, Ed Swift and the Chamber of Commerce went. Until, perhaps, now.

    But I won’t be holding my breath that they will clamor for Mayor Cates to lead the charge to stop the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships from calling on Key West. Why would they do that? They reelected Cates without a runoff in the August primary. And they voted 99-1 for him against me in the November general election.

sloanbashinsky@outlook.com

Sloan the bad

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