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I wrote to a Key West friend yesterday morning, “Life is poetry, poetry is life, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. As I recall, the Winter Solstice heralds the coming of the light, and without the truth, there is no light.”
Jerry Weinstock, M.D., Psychiatry, life-long Mother Nature lover and activist, replied to yesterday’s post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
SLOAN: good Blog —injustice proliferates —and corruption–
paying Swift with my tax money –they should be tried and jailed for that.
The smell of a long dead fish—2 weeks in the sun with maggots—that aroma reminds me of deceptive city deals—-I apologize for dis-honoring the fish.. Being the Gad-fly as you are analogous to Socrates —-an honor –just do not end up as he did–although he
had no regrets according to the account dying in a warm bath with the Hemlock drink. Perhaps he accomplished quite a lot as we still honor him as an emblem
representing truth and fairness and justice, (just got finished swimming –have a pleasant
Nick Anderson, of Big Coppit Key, wrote about the Ed Swift/Historic Tours of America (HTA) sweet deal with the Key West city government, which I reported in yesterday’s post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com. Nick copied Key West the Newspaper (the blue paper) with his email.
Looks like the City and Commission are again about to be Bamboozeld by the Trolley industry as like the Oil industry they are claiming the devine right to operate Trolleys on the streets of Key West without hinderance…For starters like the oil industry the trolley boys claim to OWN the streets and building of Key West…and for a minimal compensation of 6% fee ask the City of Key West to safeguard that monopoly…. Well The Trolley boys don’t own the City, the streets and of the people of Key West, never have, never will…. and like the oil industry need to pay a proper fee to extract that Gold from the Citizens of Key West…. A more proper arrangement would be 70-75% of the NET PROFITS going to the City of Key West.
I know that’s the deal I will give the Citizens of Key West…. I pay the Oil Industry, 6% net profits to the Government of Norway,(Statoil) and even with Oil at $58. bucks they seem to do OK…
As you have said Sloan, the 6 Drawfs on the Dias can’t see their being bamboozeld by the Trolley Boys, but maybe that’s their Job….
I replied to Nick, with copy to the blue paper:
Nick wrote just to me:
OK 7, I like Ms Johnson…
I replied, copied to the blue paper:
I like Teri, too, she’s smart as heck.
Yet, the last time I got onto the 7 talking heads during citizen comments, maybe 6 weeks ago, about them paying HTA $500,000 to bring cruise ship passengers from the outer mole to HTA’s gift shops and tour terminals, when HTA and the Duval Street corridor merchants should be springing for that cost, Teri then carefully explained to the audience there, and watching on TV, that HTA was the only bidder for bringing cruise ship passengers in from the outer mole, so that, I suppose, made it okay for the city to continue to subsidize Swifty’s company?
I hang out some near HTA’s gift shop and terminal at the corner of Caroline and Margaret Streets, and I know from hearing HTA employees talking, that they anxiously await days when cruise ships dock at the outer mole, because those are the days they are busy in the gift ship, ticket booth, and on the conch trains and trolleys.
What’s Ed Swift going to do,
if the city stops paying him $500,000 to bring cruise ship passengers from the outer mole to his gift ships and tour terminals? Well, he’s either going to keep doing it, on his dime, because it’s that lucrative; or he’s going to pair down his conch trains and trolleys, and lay off some of his employees. I don’t care to see employees get laid off, but, in the big scheme, Key West, at the level of soul, would be far better off (healthy) with less cruise ships calling here, and fewer conch trains and trolleys on city streets.
My goodness, all the local howling about T-shirt shops and high-pressure bait-and-switch jewelry, cosmetic, perfume and fashion clothing shops, and cheap cruise ship passengers on Duval Street, I bet if it were put out to referendum, the city paying Swifty $500,000 a year to bring cruise ship passengers in from the outer mole, you’d see a landslide vote against the city and Swifty, not unlike the landslide votes against annexing Wisteria Island and widening the channel so bigger and more of the present size cruise ships could call on Key West.
Chow maim, the beatings probably will continue,
The Right Reverend Gweko Phlocker (Gary Ek, Soundman From Hell, Norway), put this of Facebook yesterday:
Later yesterday, I happened to pedal my bicycle by the home of Sheldon Davidson, who for many years was an attorney in a federal task force in Chicago, going up against really bad folks.
Sheldon was out front talking to a man. Sheldon introduced us, and the man said he did not vote for me three times. I said that was probably really smart, but did he vote for one of the officials who were backing how the KW cops killed Charles Eimers? He said, no, he backed Margaret Romero, he seemed kinda proud of that.
I said, Romero really liked how the cops treated Eimers. He said, she did? I said, she sure did, and and he needed to get caught up on current events. He seemed to have had quite enough, told Sheldon he had to get along and walked away. I told Sheldon the fellow had gotten what he deserved. Sheldon chuckled.
Sheldon asked if I knew two NY City cops were executed the night before, Saturday night, in Brooklyn, by a black man from Baltimore, as revenge for the Ferguson and NY killings of black civilians by white cops? I sort of stopped breathing. What? No, I didn’t know about that, I said. Sheldon looked really upset about it. He said, the NY City police benevolent union head honcho blamed the mayor of NY for it, because of how he’d handled the NY cops choking the black civilian to death for selling a cigarette for 50 cents. What? That’s crazy, I said. Sheldon said, if the man the cops choked to death had been white, he would still be alive. White cops don’t treat white people that way. Sheldon is white.
I said, cops just cannot just kill someone who doesn’t obey their orders to suit them. For example, cops cannot shoot a fleeing person, who does not obey their command to stop. To shoot a fleeing person, they have to know he has committed a horrible crime, and that shooting him is the only way to stop him. Sheldon agreed.
I said, at the recent CRB meeting, there were two cases in which KW cops had broken bicycle laws, and did not stop when ordered by cops to stop. So they were tasered.
I siad, there also was a case regarding 2 white cops arresting a black man in Bahama Village, for drug possession, and they did a public strip search, including an anal cavity search, in front of a large crowd of black residents, one of whom videoed the event, which video later ended up in the blue paper, which is how we found out about that. During Citizen comments, I told the CRB that was a hate crime; the two white cops did it under color of law, because they knew they could get a way with it while making a drug arrest. Nothing wrong with making a drug arrest, I said, but not in this way. This was KKK. And Donie Lee did not want those kind of people on his police force.
Sheldon and I bid each other adieu, and I pedaled my bicycle back to where I stay, and fooled around on the Internet for a while, then headed over to White Street Pier to watch the sunset. Reaching Rest Beach, just east of the pier, I was hailed by a young white couple, who asked if I had a cell phone they could borrow to call a taxi to take them up to KOTS, the city’s homeless shelter on Stock Island? The woman was pushing a baby stroller. I said, sure, and gave the man my cell phone. It took him a while to get a taxi company on the phone, who had a cab available. He told the dispatcher they needed a van taxi, because their baby stroller would not fit into a sedan taxi.
I now looked inside the stoller. No baby. It was filled with their belongings. I asked, if they were homless, how could they afford a taxi? Well, her mother had sent them $50 that day, to get by, and they had not been able to get into the Youth Hostel nearby, because it does not let locals stay there. That was true. I stayed had stayed in the hostel for several months in 2003, until a motel competitor complained and the city made the hostel make its local residents leave. Several locals suddenly became homeless, I was one of them. The others had jobs, and the hostel was all they could afford.
Anyway, the couple said a man, who dresses as a woman, stays regularly at KOTS, and gets to stay in the women’s dorm. What?, I say. Yep, it’s happening, they say. No kidding?, I say. No kidding, they say. So, I call someone I know, who would know if that is true, and I am told it is true, but the man stays in his own dorm unit, separated from by a steel wall from the women’s unit. Well, why can’t he stay in the men’s dorms?, I can’t help but ask. Because he’s growing boobs, I hear back, and he would not fit in with the men. I say, well, that’s a news story, but how does a homeless man pay for growing boobs? Don’t know, comes back; how do homeless people have I-phones, street drugs, booze?
The van taxi comes, the young couple climb in with their baby stroller, and head for KOTS. They are homeless, she had said, because after they drove down here, she was busted for driving with an expired license, the car was impounded, she was jailed and now has court next week, and they are hoping to get it put behind them so they can leave. I was thinking, if the judge convicts her and puts her on probation, she won’t be able to leave. That happens down here: homeless people are put on probation, they want to leave, but they can’t.
I know one case, in which a homeless man was put on probation, he left, went back to the Pacific Northwest, was stopped for a traffic offense, they ran his driver’s license, found the Key West warrant for jumping probation, notified Key West, and Key West paid to have him flown back to Key West. In all, I figured that one case had cost the city, the sheriff, the public defender, the state attorney and the court about $300,000. The crime, sleeping in a vacant home, in old town, and stealing water to bathe and electricity to see by at night.
I did not hear of that case second hand, I knew the young man personally. The home he stayed in belonged to a Key West police officer, who had inherited it from his mother. He prosecuted that case to the hilt, showing no mercy. I tried to persuade then Police Chief Buz Dillon, who as a good friend, to intervene and get the case settled reasonably. Buz said he had a policy of not interfering in cases, after the courts got involved. The day the case was set for trial, the father of the cop who was prosecuting the case had a stroke. I later told Buz that was the cop’s karma. Some of it. Buz seemed at loss for words. The cop’s name was Paul Mitchell. I think he was a Navy cop, before he was a KWPD cop. He also was a Conch.
Leaving Rest Beach for the pier, I saw a man I know walking his pooch. We stopped to talk. He is gay, so I told him about the homeless transvestite at KOTS. He thought that was interesting. He told me of a homeless man he’d talked with earlier in the day, who wants to leave and go back to the mainland, but has no way to do it. I said the man could go to the police department and tell them that, and they would tell him who to go see in the city about getting a free bus ticket out of the Keys.
I headed on out to the end of the pier, and, gosh, it must be some sort of one human family renuion day going on, for out there, throwing a tennis ball for her pooch to race after and catch, is Gwen Filosa, who writes for the Citizen.
I tell Gwen about the homeless transvestite staying at KOTS, with his own private quarters attached to the women’s dormitory. It’s a great story, I say, lots of people in Key West will be glad to know about it. What’s sort of amazing, I said, it has not made the news headlines already. By the way, I say, the angels arranged my being at Rest Beach to hear all of that, and then to find her on the pier to tell her about it, so don’t mess with the angels, report it. Gwen laughed.
The day was not yet done.
Mi amigo Todd German
called to ask if I had seen yesterday’s editorial in the Citizen, re KWPD getting body cameras for all of its police officers. I said, yikes!, I had spaced out looking for it, after he had told me the other day it was coming, and I would get on it, when I was at my laptop. But probably better I had waited, because my morning was pretty full. Todd sits on the Citizen Editorial Board, and he was the CRB’s first Chairman.
I told Todd about my conversation with Sheldon Davidson, who is a good friend of Todd’s, and of my later adventures at Rest Beach and White Street Pier. Todd sounded about as distressed over the NY City sitation, as Sheldon. Todd sounded intrigued by the homeless tranvestite saying at KOTS. Todd agreed, the cover up in the Eimmers case, and the cops’ perjury, took the case to an entirely different level. I described that level as being sort of like a RICO case, the cops were organized crime. We said goodbye, and I headed home and went online and read the Citizen editorial.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Wearing body cams should be a priority
Video cameras. They are seemingly everywhere nowadays. Twenty years ago, video systems were relatively rare due to the cost and bulkiness of the technology. Because of this, video was primarily limited to banks and high-security government locations.
As technology has progressed exponentially and prices of said technology have gone down inversely, we now see video systems almost everywhere we go.
If a person walks around in an even remotely urban environment, one is sure to be recorded almost continuously. Think about it, cameras are virtually everywhere — retail stores, schools, traffic cameras, ATMs, home security systems. To say the least, George Orwell would be proud.
This is to say nothing of the impact that universally available camera phones have had on the amount and type of video being recorded in today’s world. The vast amount of footage available today, as well as the various mediums such as YouTube and Facebook in which it is distributed, has changed the very way in which we get news.
All this video has created other changes as well. Where many situations used to be cases of “he said-she said,” we now often have video proof, which many times shows a very different version of what actually happened.
Nowhere has this new technology had more impact than in the world of police work and criminal prosecution. Cases which were once hard to prove are now often comically clear due to the availability of video footage. Many a suspect has changed their claim of innocence after watching video of themselves committing a crime.
Conversely, video can also be just as useful in proving one’s innocence, or at least helping to improve the memories of those involved in an incident where recollections vary.
Another benefit comes from the numerous studies which have shown that the wearing of body cameras has a positive impact on the behavior and attitude of both parties when it comes to police interaction with the public. To put it bluntly, most everyone behaves better when they know they are being recorded.
With video so ubiquitous in our society, there is one entity locally which has been a bit reluctant to fully embrace the most current video technology. That entity is the Key West Police Department. While Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay has gone on record stating he will be outfitting all of his officers with body cameras, Donnie Lee, the chief of Key West’s Police Department, seems reluctant.
We find this reluctance troubling.
Without going into the details of the ongoing tragedy of the police involved in the death of Charles Eimers, one thing is clear, and that is the fact that video has played a major role in the public discussion of the incident. Unfortunately, the only video available so far has come from the camera phones of bystanders. Of the half dozen or so patrol cars at the scene, all of the vehicles with in-car cameras, none of the in-car video was saved for evidence.
We dare to speculate that if all of the more than half dozen officers on scene during Eimers’ arrest had been wearing body cameras, “and that footage had been archived properly,” all the speculation and controversy surrounding the death of Eimers would have been avoided. The City of Key West might not have been facing a multimillion dollar civil suit; the officers involved might not have stains on their reputations; and, most importantly, the family of Charles Eimers would have a better idea of how their father died.
Law enforcement is quick to cite the need for the most cutting-edge weaponry, body armor and computer systems under the pretense of ensuring officer safety, all points we certainly support.
We also believe that our county deputies and city police officers should be wearing the best video technology available to protect them and those they are sworn to serve and protect.
The Eimers case locally, along with myriad recent law enforcement cases across the country, show that the time is long past to embrace this technology and make implementing it of the utmost priority.
– The Citizen
I called Todd back and said I liked it, but there was a short video from Officer Gary Lee Lovette’s stun gun, in which he and the other cops are laughing as they kill Charles Eimers. That keeps coming back to me, they are laughing. Todd said, yeah, not good.
I said I would have written the editorial a bit differently. Todd said he knew that. I said I would have said straight up why KWPD and Donie Lee don’t want cops wearing body cameras. They like the way they are now, and see no reason to change, and their bosses in city hall don’t want them to change; otherwise, Donie Lee and his bosses in city hall would have been screaming for body cameras after the blue paper broke the Eimers case. Todd said he could not disagree.
Donie Lee receiving an award from Mayor Craig Cates
Todd said, Donie knows some of his cops really well, for a long time. It’s tough for Donie to come down them, when they are his long-time friends. Todd said, when he was in the Special Forces, if a soldier was promoted to officer, he was transferred to a different unit, because it was understood he knew the soldiers in his unit too well, was too close to them, to effectively lead and discipline them. That’s why a police chief from the outside is needed, someone who is not buddies with any of the cops in KWPD, Todd said.
I said that was tried before, and it did not work, for the same reason it will not work now. Donie and his cops like how they are, and their bosses in city hall like how they are, especially in the way they deal with homeless people and other not pretty groups. Todd said anyone the cops they think they mistreat and get away with it, homeless people, drug addicts, minorities. They thought Charles Eimers was homeless and they could get away with it, but he was not homeless, he had family. If he had been homeless, it would not have caused a stir, Todd said. I agreed.
Todd said, mabye Eimers was having a diabetic low sugar problem during the traffic stop, and that’s why he behaved strangely. I said, no, what happened was the cop took Eimers’ driver’s license and said he was not going to give it back, that’s what cops do with people who live in their vehicles, and Eimers freaked out, or thought the traffic stop was over, and left, and then he was persued. That’s what happened, but I can’t prove it. Todd said, perhaps so.
I said, body cameras will not solve the problem, even though they will cause a good deal of conversation for a while. I said, look at what happened in New York City, when a fellow selling cigarettes for 50 cents was killed by cops; all of that was video recorded, and the cops they never acted like they did anything wrong, and their fellow cops backed them, their police benevolent association backed them, and the grand jury refused to indict them, even though the whole thing was video recorded.
I said, that’s why I now am saying, and it was not my original idea, I saw it on bigpinekey.com’s Coconut Telegraph forum the other day, Sheriff Rick Ramsay,
if he will do it, needs to provide law enforcement for Key West, and KWPD ceases to exist. Todd said, that argument had been made in prior times: the Sheriff provides law enforcement in Key West. I said I had not heard that before. Todd said, if I keep going after that, maybe it will get something moving. I said, the Sheriff provides law enforcement everywhere else in the Florida Keys, except on the Navy bases. Todd said, the Sheriff is a constituional officer, he answers to no one but the voters. I said, the Sheriff answers to Tallahasse. Yes, to the Governor, Todd said. And Key West could not tell him how to do anything, if he was providing law enforcement for the city, I said. Todd agreed.
I said, if I were mayor of Key West, I would be talking with Sheriff Ramsay privately, asking him if he is willing to take over law enforcement in Key West, if I can persuade the city commissioners to go along with it. Todd said again, if I keep pushing for the Sheriff to provide law enforcement in Key West, that might go somewhere. To the distress of some, Todd said, lot of people now are reading what I’m publish.
Now, I do not say Sheriff Ramsay’s operation is perfect, nor do I view him as Christ-returned. However, he runs a far better and far cleaner operation than KWPD, and anyone in Key West, who does not know that, either has not been paying attention, or likes KWPD just the way it is.
Regardless of how the Eimers family’s federal civil lawsuit against the Key West cops and the city itself goes, and regardless of how a potential US Department of Justice investigation into Charles Eimers’ death might go, KWPD is not going to change, unless is disbanded and dismissed and ceases to exist.
Not entirley aside, perhaps not entirely a surprise, when I told Sheldon Davidson, my gay friend at Rest Beach, Gwen Filosa on White Street Pier, and Todd German that angels arranged our mutual adventures yesterday :-), they did not tell me I was crazy.