Stumbled across this below on Friday’s Coconut Telegraph (CT) blog (www.bigpinekey.com), where the key deer roam and the the humans are left to just bitch and moan :-):
With what is going on in this country right now and the CT dropping the National Politics, what good is your blog anymore. The people want to bitch and moan about everything, but the CT seems to cull everything important. Has the junta stepped on you that hard? Why not put that Political Section back into the CT, but at the bottom of the script? That way your draw will come back and the CT will regrow what they cut off. We all know the “other page” for political stuff is “watched” and that is why smart writers will not Sign In. BB is watching everything so it doesn’t matter if both sections are one. The CT is the only local soap box we have in the Keys. The local papers are ‘controlled’ to the point of silly propaganda rags. Bring back our CT! (Ed: No. Go on social media, it’s made for uniformed emotional arguments, hatespeak, and insults. I hope the CT is for civil discourse.)
That, and a series of nap dreams yesterday, featuring Arnaud and Naja Girard, below, pointed me toward features in their online Key West the Newspaper (www.thebluepaper.com).
First below is a letter to the editor urging single district voting for county commissioners, followed by two Peary Court Plan B horror features. Reader comments are where the civil unrest gets serious :-). Some of the reader comments I have published previously, but they then grew quite a few more long hairy legs :-).
In a recent letter to the editor, Monroe County Mayor, Heather Carruthers, discussed her opposition to single-member districts. The letter glosses over very real and very significant problems with the current system.
Carruthers claims that the at-large system allows voters to influence county commissioners from other districts.
With SMD elections, you vote for one Commissioner every four years. In our current at-large elections, you get to vote for all five Commissioners every four years, and for at least 40% of the Commission every two years.
Just because you have a vote, does not mean you have any influence.
Suppose your SMD-elected Commissioner disagrees with you on a particular issue. Will other Commissioners (whom you didn’t elect) feel obligated to answer your calls? Constituents from all five districts find my door open, at least partly because they all helped elect me.
It doesn’t work this way in the real world. One vivid real-life example is the severe wastewater funding disparity affecting Key Largo. When I approached Carruthers she simply regurgitated staff’s talking points, which had already been debunked several times. Her door may have been open, but her mind was closed.
Carruthers went on to say:
The County’s success with improvements from Card Sound Road in Key Largo to Higgs Beach in Key West and on state-level issues like the Mayfield Grant and the Florida Keys Stewardship Act are a result of at-large voting and the BOCC’s ability to work across district (and party) lines.
This mythical “success” with capital projects is completely at odds with reality. The Cudjoe Regional project is $49 million over budget. Poor handling of the public’s concerns has resulted in numerous lawsuits. This is only one of many over-budget capital projects. If this is “success”, I shudder to think what failure looks like.
Securing state and federal funding is a team effort. However, the county has, at times, tried to divert funding away from other entities in a desperate attempt to shore up their own financially out-of-control projects. The horrific state of the county’s capital projects is a compelling argument for single-member districts.
Most importantly, Carruthers completely ignored the major flaw with the current at-large system. There are areas in the Keys that are or have been represented by a commissioner they did not elect. District 2 is currently facing this situation. Single-member districts remedy this very serious problem.
Former General Manager Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District
Current Key Largo taxpayer
Margaret Blank is the former General Manager of the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District. Read more about Margaret, her experience, her research, her opinions on sewering the Keys and more in her blog: therealpoop.
8 Responses to “Response to County Mayor Carruthers”
Thanks to screwy district lines, we currently have two commissioners residing at and most concerned with Key West issues, and two residing in and most concerned with Marathon issues. Murphy cares only about Key Largo & Ocean Reef, but will support Marathon or Key West interests in exchange for Key Largo support. The rest of the Keys has minimal representation. Neugent boasted in writing that he didn’t need the support of his lower Keys constituents because he had the Marathon and Key Largo vote. He reminds me of South Park’s Cartman saying “Screw you guys!” to the other 4th graders. His Big Pine office would be always empty if he did not have an assistant there to keep the lights on. Carruthers and Kohlhage have been far more supportive of the lower Keys than Neugent. Thanks to both of them and a little to Marathon’s Rice, but it is Neugent’s blatant and vocal disrespect of his constituents that has garnered support for single-member districts. Single-member districts still will not solve the lower Keys’ lack of representation until the district line does not include Marathon, but right now, most of the Keys have no significant influence due to a comparative lack of voting population. “No taxation without representation” was the battle cry that begat the United States from a collection of colonies, but that is still the situation. What is needed is a sense of unity in the Keys instead of separatist visions..
Sloan Bashinsky says:
Magaret Blank, I just now looked at the Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Office website, again.
District 2 was carried by the incumbent commissioner, George Neugent. He only lost one District 2 precinct, barely, on Big Pine Key, to the challenger, Eleanor McAdams, for whom I voted.
The only District in the Florida Keys Eleanor carried was District 1, in Key West.
I don’t see why people keep saying George Neugent lost his own voting district in 2014.
Having said that, this 3-time county commission candidate (2006 and 2010 against George Neugent, and 2008 against Heather Carruthers) sez, he agrees with County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy, as reported in the Key West Citizen:
“County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy said changing to single member districts would be equivalent to voters giving up four-fifths of their vote. ‘That commissioner will answer to you and the other four will probably ignore you entirely because they are not depending on your vote,’ Murphy said. ‘It makes the county very splintered and it leaves no one caring about what is good for the county. It’s probably the worst idea that I’ve heard in a long time.’”
In this past Tuesday’s Coconut Telegraph are two in depth comments from me against going to single district voting in the county:
Halloween, you said it well. During the Cudjoe Regional Sewer District grinder pump war, I was first-hand participating in email chains in which George Neugent also was participating, and he was just as you have painted him. Yet, still, he carried District 2, in which Cudjoe Regional lies.
Regardless of the grinder pump war, It’s a 30 minute drive, one-way, through no to sparse human habitation, from George’s home behind the Marathon airport (bay side) to the District 2 county commissioner office on Big Pine Key. So I say District 2 should begin below Seven Mile Bridge, which would insure the District 2 commissioner lives and is awash in the lower keys people and their issues and lore, instead of remotely (safely?) esconsced in his home behind the Marathon airport.
I was referring to the results of the primary not the general election. It sure looks to me like Danny Coll actually won District 2. Here is a link to those results:
You are correct that George won District 2 in the general election. But if Danny Coll had won the primary, George wouldn’t have made it to the general election. If District 2 picked their own commissioner in 2014, it would have been either Danny Coll or Eleanor McAdams.
Bottom line there are a lot of folks who are justifiably unhappy with the BOCC. Single-member districts are one very good solution on the table. Nothing Comm. Carruthers said in her letter addresses the underlying issues with the current system.
I don’t see why the current district boundaries shouldn’t be re-evaluated either. That’s a possible solution, too. There are three commissioners up for re-election. Now’s the time to bring it up. Not sure what the governing law says about that. It’s done around the time of the census I believe.
There’s no single magic bullet.
I say do whatever it takes. But the status quo is not working. Monroe County is in a very dysfunctional place. And it’s sad. There’s no reason that the capital projects should be so far over budget. There’s no reason folks in Cudjoe Regional should have been treated like they have. Same goes for folks in Key Largo.
Sloan Bashinsky says:
Yes, Danny Coll won the District 2 primary, which was a closed Republican primary, since there was a filed Democrat candidate. I wish you had explained it that way in your reply to Heather Carruthers. George beat Danny in the 2010 Republican primary, also, after I filed in that race as an Independent, which also closed the Republican primary. I think the problem is not at large voting, but partisan primaries, which I have long proposed be abolished.
I think going to single district voting for county commissioners is insane, to be blunt.
You Key Largo folks have been complaining for years about Key West for many reasons, and I have been saying, stop complaining and incorporate Key Largo, and be your own boss like Islamorada and Marathon did, and have the kind of fun those two cities started having after they incorporated. Start a movement to have non-partisan primaries in all local county races. This is someone who’s been in the trenches a good while, not some armchair pundit. This is someone who ran twice against George Neugent, and once against Heather Carruthers, always as an independent.
If the people pushing for single district voting had voted for me in 2006, or in 2010, would I have been elected? Would this discussion even be happening?
For sure, I would have raised bloody hell about grinder pumps in Cudjoe Regional. I would have told the people living in Cudjoe Regional not to sign grinder pump easements over to Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority. I would have told them to make FKAA sue them, and then be ready to strike back with a massive class action takings lawsuit against FKAA and the county, and and injunction in FEDERAL COURT, alleging all sorts of human and environmental corruptions against FKAA, Monroe County, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the grinder pump supplier company.
But what the heck. It turned out grinder pumps were not all that hot an issue in 2014. George Neugent won all but one precinct in District 2 against the Democrat candidate. Go figure. I figured Neugent surely would lose District 2 in the general election.
I tried to get someone in the lower keys to run against Neugent, you know of this person, who would have made Neugent sweat. Two persons, actually, either of whom would have made Neugent sweat. Thanks, but no thanks, I heard back.
Get rid of partisan county elections. Impose term limits. Ban campaign advertising. Leave at large voting alone.
(And, I should have thought to say, eliminate filing fees for county races.)
Yes, should have clarified which election I was referring to.
You and I 100% agree that Key Largo should incorporate.
Key Largo should have incorporated way back in 1999. Incorporation lost 2-1. You would think after all that’s happened since, incorporation would be a no-brainer now. But people are still reluctant. Oh well. It’s not for me to decide.
Marathon and Islamorada have gone through their growing pains. And it hasn’t always been pretty, but they were better off after incorporating. More local control, direct revenue streams for their communities. I did an analysis once of how much investment there was in those communities before incorporation versus after. Incorporation made a huge positive difference.
Most of the people I know in Key Largo aren’t “complaining about Key West”, they are complaining about a lack of representation. Their county commissioner turns a deaf ear. She sold out her own district on the wastewater funding issue. What’s next? Single-member districts directly address that problem.
By the way, I started off luke warm on single-member districts. I thought incorporation was the only solution for Key Largo. But it’s occurred to me that single-member districts and incorporation each address different problems.
Single-member districts resolve the lack of representation and allow each district to choose their own representative without being overruled.
Incorporation allows for significant revenue streams to flow directly to the community, and it allows for more local control. Based on the performance of the fire district and the sewer district, I would have to say that KL tends to be far more financially conservative than the county. If KL were incorporated I’m sure that’s how the city would be run. As it stands now, KL citizens pay their taxes and watch as the county burns through it elsewhere.
By the way, my husband asked me to quote him: “At-large voting is a bunch of crap.” So there you go – words of wisdom from the peanut gallery. Lol.
Sloan Bashinsky says:
Well, then, if you want district voting, then amend the petition drive to change the county charter so that each county commissioner cannot vote on anything that has nothing to do with his/her district. In that way, you will get Key Largo, and every other voting district, de facto incorporated :-). Otherwise, if your county commissioner votes on something going on in Key West, then the people of Key West have every right to vote for or against your county commissioner (as an example).
The US House and Senate vote on issues that only affect one state or district. Should they only be allowed to vote for things that affect their electors?
Commissioners vote on how to govern the county and spend county resources.
Again, At-Large voting disenfranchises minority opinion. Without single districts, minority opinion (and not just racial opinion) is voiceless.
I find it fascinating that proponents of At-Large voting continually say that the current system allows people to have influence in all 5 districts, when in fact, the minority has little influence in ANY district.
Single district voting doesn’t reduce your influence, it increases it 400%!
At-Large voting was one of the main tactics used in Jim Crow times to marginalize minority votes. It allows 51% of the voters to effectively control 100% of the government. It was (is) used to reduce minority influence when literacy tests, poll taxes, gerrymandering, voter suppression and other tactics are not enough to ensure majority control and minority voicelessness.
At-Large voting is, by definition and practice, discriminatory. Always. Every time.
Sloan Bashinsky says:
John, I don’t see this has anything to do with Jim Crow laws. By now you have heard a few, or more, times that this ain’t the mainland. I have heard the reason you are behind going to single district voting is because you have a bone to pick with your district county commissioner. Margie Bargie has admitted she has a bone to pick with her district county commissioner.
Here’s my own problem with going to single district voting for county commissioners. I have seen county commissioners go out of control, but if there had been single district voting, they very well might have not been voted out of office by their own constituents because of their longstanding, deep political alliances in their home district. Yet they voted on countywide issues at county commission meetings.
If I see a county commissioner in another district doing stuff I don’t like, especially if it is hurting the district in which I live, I don’t want to have to move into that commissioner’s district to vote against him/her. And if I like what commissioner is doing, I don’t want to have to move into that commissioner’s district to vote for him/her.
As many people in Key West as seem upset about the recent city commission approval of giving $12.5 million end run (Peary Court) to a private for profit developer, they might want to vote against all 5 county commissioners as their terms come up for reelection, and I would not blame them. At large voting allows them to do that.
You want to fix the problem, go to term limits. Eliminate partisan primaries. Eliminate filing fees for county commission candidates. Ban campaign advertising. Remove Marathon from District 2, and put it into District 4, where it belongs. District 2 is a rural district. It needs a “redneck” county commissioner representing “redneck” constituents.
by Arnaud and Naja Girard……
This must be an all time record for how fast a small City like Key West can vet, vote, and authorize payment on a 12.5 million dollar deal. In just 2 weeks time the City dispatched 12.5 million dollars to a private company that will provide affordable housing [for up to $2709/month] for rent-burdened Key West workers. The last leg of this race to closing played out this week: the County’s Land Authority pledged the entire City reserve plus $300,000 dollars to the Cornfeld Group. The private company based in Hollywood, Florida will use the money to purchase the 157 2-bedroom units at Peary Court while adding a deed restriction for affordable housing on the entire 24-acre parcel.Continue reading »
17 Responses to “Peary Court: Affordable Housing Deal Goes Through / 92% of Units Can Legally Rent For $2709/Month”
Naja, you nailed it and thank you.
Now! everyone should understand the History of Key West is Very big money and the government will always Coho to money and not the voters.
So now the city needs to finish Perry Court, by changing the density rules. For It will happen in the near future!
As history goes, Look at Truman Annex, waterfront Park, Key West Bight > high rise buildings and taking of KWB monies (2.5 Million), Black History Museum, and the possible new directions for Bahamas Village housing, don’t ever forget the Dean voting scam and Dean still lives in Key Heaven outside of KW – thanks to the 3 person election board of District #1, District #6 plus Elections person.
This is one human family – we all get stepped-on equally, for less than a better word.
Bottom line it is “US” the voters are the problem…not the commission, the government offices, city manager, county or police or code. We voted them in and now we are living with the results. So “shame on us” it is too late to change anything in the near future with only one person running or District #1 and District #6, for you see the fix is in – and it will be very hard to ever change the years of KW Culture.
Now is the time to go forward and agree, but also get what is needed by the speed of business not the speed of government, Don’t try to “hang on” for it is happening covertly around you every day – try to direct it to a positive out-come for all.
The city raises 15 million in taxes and has a budget of 166 million the school board budget is 169 million…The city is the biggest landlord in KW and I for one would like the city go back to cleaning-up the city and stop being a landlord…why do we need more and more city employees for something the city does not need to be.
The sidewalks are a mess and many lawsuits are in the pipeline against the city,
The last lawsuit the city/voters paid $74k – which a sidewalk repair of $1k could have fix the problem. Check the Mingo item – no mention of the money to the public up front.
This KW city story goes on and is great entertainment, I hope other voters are tired of KW City actions and will stand up and enter the political arena plus vote – KW has too many great people to set back and watch your investment go down the tubes…your talent is needed and we will vote for you.
dickford cohn says:
How many times have we seen this scenario? They “literally have a gun to our heads”…”they gave us only thirty days to close the deal”. Gee! Then what? Oh, yeah…I forgot: The sky is gonna fall!
Didn’t we see these kinds of shenanigans with regard to Hickory House? How about Marathon Manor? How many millions of county taxpayers dollars are still tied up in these two tragedies?
This “Plan B” didn’t just drop from the sky: The amount of work by the Cornfeld interests is plainly obvious. That takes time. It’s been in the works for quite a while. I don’t blame them for anything. They’re in business to make a buck. Same deal with the current owners, whoever they might be. These are savvy people…unlike our current crop of “public servants”. These public servants are ill-equipped when it comes to the real estate game. That’s what we, in effect, told them…by rejecting their recent referendum.
We (the city) are supposedly buying a “restricted deed” provision in this deal…for $12.5 million. Hmmmm. Where on the balance sheet do we place this “investment” and at what value? Or, does it show up as a value on Cornfeld’s balance sheet?
Aside from the cautions duly outlined by our dear Editor, I would also ask: What happens to this deal if Cornfeld…at any time in the future, decides to just bankrupt the property? What then happens to such gewgaws as “deed restrictions” and the like? Sorry…but this looks like a bad meal…sure to come back up again, and again.
Why don’t we just keep our $12.5 million in our pocket and see what happens?
I’m curious. Will Peary Court be taxed at the $60m purchase price, at the $47.5m out of pocket price or continue at the current $29m?
Property is supposed to be taxed on it’s actual value. This is where things get complicated. Just because it was purchased for $ 60 million does not mean it is worth that amount. Often the way taxes are done is to come up with a number less than a typical owner would sell it for. That keeps it from being contested. The millage rate is simply high enough to get what they really want. As a result of this sale there is reason to not only raise it but also other such property owned by others. This is why some end up needing to sell the home they owned for 20 years. Even with homestead and save our home regulations it still raises every year and at sale time the taxes go way up. This being commercial rental it dam sure should go up. But this is Bubba ville so no telling what the tax appraiser will come up with. Yet another likely corrupt office. Bottom line it is paid with tenants rent money.
By deeding the property as affordable in perpetuity, the owners will be saving a ton of money on property taxes. The property values will be about half as much as market rate, but the rents they charge will be essentially the same as market rate. Clever of them.
dickford cohn says:
Colby, RE: Clever of them.
We’d all do the same thing: It’s just bizness! That said, it’s a dam site better than the previous proposition, where the property would have no taxable value at all.
My question(s) lie in a different direction: What is the big deal with this enticing $12.5 million fund? Note that it is central to both propositions. Why? We KNOW this money is real. Where’s the “real money” from the rest of these people? Has anybody seen a written proposal…replete with dollars and “sense”? As far as I’m given to understand, that is yet to be drafted. I find it troublesome that this fund can be spent in this fashion: It does not appear to be in accord with the stated purpose of the fund. IOW, exactly what does KW get for forking over this $12.5 million? A “deed restriction”?
How d’ya capitalize that?
I am disappointed in KW but not surprised. This is the result of a lack of knowledge and skills required about the construction and rental business. It is something the government should stay out of. We will not likely ever invest our money in KW. The amount of corruption by the KWPD and other offices of KW are far too clear. Not even sure if we care to visit it in the future. Are far cheaper places that offer just as much. Only real event KW has that can’t be found in other towns is Fantasy Fest. Only hopes of KW changing are up to the voters and they are too busy working 60 hours to have time to vote or care. Many of the charms we loved about KW are gone. Cowboy Bills is gone and leaves us with no bar that plays country music. The pier show has all but left. And something we noticed a few weeks ago is becoming very disturbing. The bars are all blasting music so loud that it disturbs even walking past them on Duval street, Grease Monkey will cause damage to your hearing. Seems they all keep trying to be louder than the bar next to them. Sidewalks are blocking foot traffic to the point that you must walk on the street to get around them. Only place we have found even close to good music at reasonable sound level is Dante’s so spend a lot of time at them and Ft Zack. In short KW is turning ugly.
V Weeks says:
That sort of says it all. BAU – that’s Business As Usual – is obviously alive and well in KW.
Hurry, hurry, hurry! Put your money down ladies and gentlemen! Join our shell game and watch in awe as we pass the buck!!
So freakin’ sad.
See who in gooberment buys a new boat or a Mercedes.
We’ve been coming to KW for over 20 years, the last 6 years for 3-4 months at a time. This upcoming year will be the last time. KW used to be a fun carnival with great food and entertainment with nice quiet spots and delightful back streets and local laid back culture.
Now it’s becoming like a zoo. The corruption used to be comical. Now it’s pretty serious it appears.
Affordable housing is a great problem for those of you who live in KW. The admission price has gotten too high with the cost of seasonal rentals and drinks and food for snowbirds as well. We who come for the season bring a lot of money into town and we’re being forced out by the cost of living as well.
Yes. We know. I have lived here for ten years. Not only have our rents increased dramatically, so has the hotel rates and bed taxes. We have less of a workforce and less tourists spending money. I own a boat. It costs me over $900 a month to tie a rope to a cleat. And I’m in stock island, to boot. The attitude of the city of key west is f**k you, pay me. Whether resident or tourist. $2700 a month is affordable? That’s about all I make in a month. Horrible what the city is doing to everyone.
As tourists we should all stop coming after seeing this misuse of that 5% bed tax we pay. It will not help so much as 1 worker at any level. We have been visiting KW for 42 years and seen many changes. A few for the good but mostly bad. Land marks such as Fast Buck Freddies are gone. It has become so commercialized by the rich that it has lost most of its charm. The prices are getting crazy. We can easily afford but feel like we are being ripped off. Been nice if some of that $12 million was used on the beaches. Defeats the purpose of a bed tax. Service will suffer when low paid workers leave and then the tourist stop coming. Dam shame to see what once was a great town destroyed. As to the corruption it likely has always been going on. The Blue paper simply has brought it to attention.
with the relaxing of rules regarding Cuba, this town will die out because nobody will bother to drive here to visit Cuba when it will be much easier and cheaper to depart from Miami and other cities. KW is simply pricing itself out of play.greed is killing this town, predictably but nobody cares because of their blind greed it is becoming too much like south beach and the powers that be are trying to turn Cuba into the same
Shipyard…need I say more?
Our illustrious Mayor and Commissioners never do the will of the people of Key West. They were defeated in their effort to buy Peary Court so they just figured out a way around that. Of course this all had to be done quickly without having the time to fully understand the ramifications of giving the buyers $12.5 million. There is a glut of apartments available on the island at the price level of Peary Court but of course that fact means absolutely nothing to them. As usual, the people on this island who don’t need help receive it anyway while the rest of us are supposed to believe our leaders that help is coming. I seriously believe you could round up random people off the streets here and they could make more intelligent decisions than the clowns we have in charge.
Well, I hate to say it, but those of you who live in KW and vote in KW are the ones who put those folks into public office. As I said, we’ve been coming to KW for over 20 years and each year a few new (and old) public officials have been either arrested or otherwise being pilloried for corruption. I’ve seen some very astute votes by residents such as the cruise boat dredging and Peary. But as long as you keep putting the same ole same ole in office, what really changes. I’ve been watching the old school so called remodel. It’s not done yet and how many millions over budget.
Sloan Bashinsky says:
I like the your drift, grampster. You’re right about who got voted into office and by whom?
The price of housing is very high in this community. But people need to remember that price is solely based on supply & demand (actually demand / supply). The price-points of supply are not determinative of price, generally. More available housing units (of any kind) will lower the price.
So the answer is that we need MORE housing, not housing for particular income levels. When there are more units, the prices will drop, whether they are moderate, median, low or very low rents. By waiting around for “low income housing” or “workforce housing,” the low-supply issue is exacerbated.
Perry Court may or may not have been the correct answer, but doing nothing is definitely the WRONG answer.
(Higher wages would help, too!!)
Sloan Bashinsky says:
To get the full drift of what went down at the recent county commission meeting, open the link below to the county’s video of the meeting. The Peary Court $12.5 million kickback agenda item (F 6) begins around the 09;35:30 point.The entire item took a while and was wonderful local government theater if you have a gallows sense of humor.
by Arnaud and Naja Girard…… This must be an all time record for how fast a small City like Key West can vet, vote on, and authorize payment on a 12.5 million…
Ed Flack This will turn into one colossal failure for those who are hoping for real AFFORDABLE HOUSING. When it comes time to vote next time, please remember those who ignored the recent voice of the voters and created what will be another mess. Let’s vote the bums out!
Sloan Bashinsky Susie, Tom Milone, who is my good friend of modest means (retired and probably disabled after being nearly beaten to death one night by KW High School black thugs out looking to jump white men), ran twice against Jimmy, and ran the old fashion way, door to door, and proved that is not how you get elected in Key West. My friend Todd German proved the same thing some years ago, when he ran against Mark Rossi. Cates has a big machine, the local bubbas and bubbettes, the business community, the developers, realtors, chamber of commerce and and other power brokers. I think if Cates wins this year, he is term-limited out. In my opinion, Cates’ two filed opponents, Ed Karsch and Randy Becker, until recently minister of the Unitarian One Island Family church – from which I was banned for life in 2006, before Randy was there, by their Committee Against Permanent Insanity, a ban I was told by a church member Randy approved after he came on board there – each might have as much chance of beating Cates as a snowball has on Duval Street in mid-July. I have announced but not yet filed to be in that race this year. Same anticipated snowball’s chance. In fact, I anticipate coming in dead last by some wide margin. And I imagine Cates will win the primary without a run-off, by getting over 50 percent of the vote. I have run 4 times prior for mayor, am not an armchair pundit. But what do I know? The cow might jump over the moon and dish might run away with the spoon.
Sloan Bashinsky Ed Flack, you surely know that Cates, Weekley, Payne and Lopez believe in their Heart of Hearts, that the city buying Peary Court satisfied all their political utterances that they would do all they could to get Key West affordable housing. They believe that in their Heart of Hearts, even though probably 95 percent of Jimmy’s Faustos employees cannot afford to live at Peary Court, and probably about the same percentage of city non-management or department head employees cannot afford to live there. It is affordable because the Bible told them so, the developers’ Bible. And whatever that Bible tells them, is the literal Word of God, and they have to believe it in their Heart of Hearts, so help them God. I wish I was joking, but I’m not.
Sloan Bashinsky Oh, Ed, I’m an ex real estate lawyer, I represented a few real estate contractors and real estate agents and brokers and home buyers and sellers in Alabama, and elsewhere, hen they called me from where they lived after I published HOME BUYERS: LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER? and Jane Pauley interviewed me about that book on the Today Show. Don’t worry about the poor Cornfelds going broke, they are looking a making mega bucks on Peary Court, with a 100 percent government subsidized down payment, $12.5 million: 48 building rights worth $12 million, which the city wisely gave to the current bandits for nothing; Fat rents on all of the units now there or to be built, including the division of the 2 BR units into 1 BR units, which will rent out about about the current 2 BR rents now being charged – just you wait and see. Already Peary Court is market rate housing. I told the county commissioners the other day, during citizen comments when this before them in the Harvey Government Center in Key West, since when did government subsidize and partner with a for-profit corporation to buy market rate housing? Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Hillary would veto this deal. Let this camel put its nose under the tent, it’s in your bed. Every developer will want in on this deal. Not just one camel, but Saudi Arabia! Let me back up. After some conversation from the dais with a new county employee, citizen comments began, Tom Milone first, then other citizen, seven in all, I was last. After which I got straight into it with county commissioner David Rice for misquoting me, inserting affordable housing into my remarks about market rate housing, and he kept doing it and I kept getting into it with him, and he asked law enforcement to shut me up, but, lo, there was no law enforcement there. I finally go to my seat and shut up and watch the great lay down and spread their legs wide proceed on the dais, as the 5 wise ones carry on for a while, proving for sure why Key West voters should not approve going from at-large to single district voting for county commissioners. About an hour in all for that one item, local government theater at its finest, for free, if you ignore the $12.5 million kickback to the private developer purchaser. Here’s link to the meting video: The item starts at about the 35:30 point in the meeting, item F 6, as I recall.
Sloan Bashinsky Jim Bender, Naja and Arnaud and Tom Milone and I were at that city commission meeting. Kaufman tried several times to get the Land Authority rep to say whether or not the Land Authority ever had partnered with a private party, and he never got an answer, and he kept trying and Mayor Cates finally shut him down. When I told that during citizen comments at the ensuing county commission meeting, David Rice, as I recall, or maybe another commissioner, later said the Land Authority had partnered with Habitat For Humanity, so there was that precedent. Habitat is not a for profit outfit, it is only about actually affordable housing. So obvious, but citizens don’t get to come in behind city and county elected officials after they have made up stories and call them on it before the vote. Naja and I talked about that after that county commission meeting, not being able to call them out after they make up stories.
Sloan Bashinsky Another thing from the county commission meeting. A commotion was made from the dais, especially by county commissioner Heather Carruthers, county mayor presently, they elect a mayor each year from among themselves, that this was not an end run of the recent referendum, this was a totally different deal, with a private buyer, not the city, buying Peary Court. During my citizen comments, I also said the city was asking for $10 million of the same Land Authority money for its down payment to buy Peary Court, so this indeed is an end run of the referendum. Heather Carruthers said there were other considerations in this deal. I raised my left hand in plain view and rubbed my thumb and first two fingers together for a little while, to state the other considerations in plain view smile emoticon. I had not been to a county commission meeting in a while, but they know me very well, I’m about the same with them as I am with the mayor and commissioners at KW city commission meetings. Walking to the speaker’s station to make my citizen comments to the county commissioners, as I passed the city manager Roman Gastesi and his aides, I turned my head toward Roman, cupped my right hand over my mouth, to shield from the county commissioners what I was going to say to Roman, which was, “Think the theme song from “Jaws”. Then I went to the speaker station and played it for everyone. Sitting in the audience were MayorCraig Cates and the Peary Court seller’s field general Jim Hendrick. Neither of whom went to the speaker station. Why speak to a done deal?
Colby Fisher Market rate for a 2 bed/1.5 bath in that neighborhood is $2900 (see the Craigslist link below). If our $12.5 million investment saves each of the 157 Peary Court renters $200 a month, then the investment will have paid for itself after only 33 years.
Dana Nowack The point is with the $12.5M they could have built way more units netting a cheaper rent because they already own land. It will take way more than 10 years for them to replenish that fund with that kind of money. This is their way of getting out of building anything more affordable.
Sloan Bashinsky Pete, Gweko, Pete, we have no recall or impeachment method for county commissioners, nor for any local officials of of which I’m aware. Typically, that’s left up to the State Attorney to indict and prosecute and/or to the Governor or the Florida Legislature to enforce. I came into this discussion late yesterday, after Naja to me to check it out here, and I then made three comments under Ed Flack’s comment early in this discussion, after most of the comments here already were posted.
Deborah Belford Disgraceful…..What government benefits apply to the developer for building low income housing? That’s where the real benefits are hidden..not to the end user, the workers of Key West. Haven’t seen who qualifies for low income housing…but I’m betting they can’t afford $2,900/month.
Deborah Belford I’ll bet you my grandchildren, if all the details were out in the light….these units could be affordable to endusers when completed and the developer would still make a strong profit. Greed….and corruption. Your city is about to do it again by allowing Uber to come into Key West. That will put 185 local cabbies out of work….yes they can drive for Uber but there will be so many drivers, the income is too diluted, they can’t afford to work it full time. That’s 185 people who put money back into Key West each week. With these type actions, not looking out for the locals…..Key West will see continued loss of quality workforce/people. Over all the city declines all around, so a few can fill their pockets….sorry, injustice of any kind pisses me off. And the good workforce of KW, already over worked and underpaid, gets messed over again.
Deborah Belford In case anyone is thinking, “Well, I own my home and this doesn’t touch me in anyway.” Think again, because the day your workforce can no longer afford to live in KW….your property values begin to go down…if the workers can’t afford to pay the rents, even with roommates…you have fewer and fewer workers who will stay. Suddenly there are many rentals available and the owners must reduce the rates substantially to get the homes rented. The rental value of a home almost always has an effect on the selling or market price of the home. And the businesses don’t have the workforce they need…they must pay their employees more to compete for them, but the employee doesn’t benefit from this because they must put it back into living expenses. Yes, everyone gets screwed except those being paid off to make the deals. I lived and worked in KW three years, have family and many friends there. Have visited KW since the 80’s. And I have said it 100 times…some of the best people I have ever met in my life, I met while in KW. Those people are your workforce…Key West..the glue. You who care about your beautiful city should fight to keep them..to help them, help you.
Doris Bunzel $2700 affordable housing????? What a slap in the face. They do what they want . I thought it was voted against it?!? Only in Key West. Unbelievable! To pay that kind of rent you need to make at least $5000 a month, which worker makes that??? That’s a joke.
Ryan Stachurski Thanks for the follow-up quote from the Land Authority: “— I do not see this as our responsibility to second-guess, go behind, reevaluate this request on the part of the City Commission. So I’m not gonna’ do that.” Some commissioners seemed to argue that the burden was on them to decide if it was a good deal. They also admitted they were only buying deed restrictions – and Lopez argued that even if we don’t need them now, we might need them in the future, so do *something*. But, imagine if $12.5M was allocated to existing Key West residents for deed restrictions, rather than an outside private entrepreneur. I appreciate that Romero (voted against) and argued to strike the misleading word “affordable.” It seems to have outraged some of the commenters…
Sloan Bashinsky “If you pack a house with 12 people, it’s affordable” – believe it or not, that’s the very argument city commissioner Jimmy Weekley dropped on me, although he only said several or more working people sharing a single unit, for Peary Court being affordable housing, Maybe that was right after I asked Jimmy if any of his Faustos employees could afford $2,400 a month, and he said he had one employee who had lived at Peary Court.
Joan Alley Teach It probably will be for those who are on Section 8. The govt pays the difference in rent to owner/landlord. The tenant pays roughly 1/4. People must qualify for it. That is my understanding and experience. Developers can get these projects done if they agree to only rent to those on this assistance, or a portion of their orojects at least, in other cases. Affordable housing is not cheap rent people can pay out of pocket.
Sloan Bashinsky Joan Alley Teach, the local Housing Authority, which is an independent local government agency, offers lots of cheap rental housing to people of limited means, rents based on ability to pay, so some tenants, those with means, help subsidize the poor tenants. Developers have nothing to do with Housing Authority housing. I watched Sam Kaufman’s heart bleed out during the city commission meeting where the $12.5 million subsidy to a private for profit developer, its down payment, was approved by Mayor Cates and Commissioners Payne, Weekley and Lopez, with Kaufman, Wardlow and Romero voting against. Sam’s main campaign point last year was to get affordable housing for the low and lower income people of Key West. Payne said about the same during his campaign. Before voting against the kickback to the private developer, Sam said he could not believe the city would not build any affordable housing for the low and lower income workers during his term in office (which still had 3 1/2 years to go). The city has several pieces of land on which it could partner with the Housing Authority to build such low and lower rental housing, but now the seed money is going to a private developer to buy market rate Peary Court housing. That is the outrage 4 of the city’s elected officials foisted onto Key West, and you had better believe those 4 had plenty of behind the scenes support from people those 4 will never publicly name.