race and other wars in America and Key West

Martin Luther King

Dr. Matin Luther King

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Kurt Wagner

Received a “Race Wars” email blast yesterday from Kurt Wagner, currently hanging out on St. Thomas, American Virgin Islands:

I’ve been watching the news about what is going on in Ferguson. All you hear is the term “African American” An “African American” is a person who was born in Africa and immigrated here. If you were born here you are an American!!! Not “African American”. Maybe I should claim to be “German American” Maybe we all should be “Italian Americans, or Irish Americans, or “French Americans, “Mexican American” Native Americans, etc.

The only true Americans are the Apache, the Arapaho, the Comanche, the Chippawa, the Soux, the Potowatome, the Norkodas, the Seminoles, the Caribbes, the Cherokee, the Shoshone, ETC.

Central and South America was stolen by the Spainiards. North America was stolen by White Europeans. Maybe not stolen, but over run. Are we the TRUE OWNERS of this land??

The whole point being, we are all AMERICANS!!! Stop the madness of the racebaiters (JESSIE and SHARPTON) Think about what is best for our country.

Go to school, get an education, understand economics, understand the law, be a productive member of society. Don’t claim to be “African, German, Irish, French, Greek, American. WE ARE ALL AMERICANS!!!! We were born here! We were raised here! We love our country! We will die for our country (thousands have)

We will not change our laws to make you feel comfortable living here. We have our laws, if you want your own laws, (Sharia) GO HOME!!!!!!

Those of us who believe in the “American Experience” will do our best to improve on what our founding fathers started

America has been called a melting pot, not an extension of Mexico, Ireland, France, Greece, Russia, Costa Rica, etc. If you want to be an African American, go back to Africa, if you want to be a Mexican American, go back to Mexico, ETC. I think you get the idea!

Kurt Wagner

I replied to Kurt, copy to all recipients – I should have slept on it first, as my following “p.s.” this morning reveals.

Hi, Kurt -

It certainly is arguable that the only real Americans are “Native Americans”, the Sioux, Cherokee, Apache, etc., and the rest of us should all leave and return to where our ancestors came from and end the argument in that way.

During citizen comments at tonight’s city commission meeting, Christine Russell brought up bad things springing up in other cities and encouraged the mayor and commissioners to be proactive in heading that off in Key West. During closing mayor/commissioner comments, the mayor dressed Christine down, said Key West is a great place to live, there are many organizations doing a lot to help other people; there are 600 homeless children in the Keys organizations are helping. I thought, hmmm, they are homeless because their parents can’t afford rents down here. The mayor told Christine to join a few of those organizations and help people down here (instead of coming to city commission meetings and saying that kind of thing).

Christine has been away a long time. She stays mostly in Panama now, I think. She told me before the meeting started that she has been really happy, and I asked what she was doing at the meeting, then; was she missing being really happy and wanting to be really unhappy again. When she lived her most of the time, she was a regular speaker during citizen comments at city commission meetings.

After the mayor dressed her down, she said loud enough for me to hear from three rows behind her, “He doesn’t get it.” I left my seat and walked up and whispered to her, Craig doesn’t accept any criticism of Key West; it’s not in him to do that. She said she knew that, but …

I can’t imagine being really happy down in Panama and coming back to Key West to get back to being really unhappy.

I thought you were spot on in your homeless missive yesterday, which I published today at goodmorningkeywest.com. It would be wonderful if everyone in America buried their ancestral “hatchet” and we all just get along. That’s been Craig’s mantra since I met him in November 2008.

But we don’t all just get along, which every homeless person in Key West certainly knows. Which African-American City Commissioner Clayton Lopez certainly knows. During his citizen comments, he said he agreed with Christine; he, too, feels the city needs to be proactive in trying to head off what Mayor Cates slammed Christine for bringing up tonight.

I can’t argue with the fellows in the attached pic.

Homeland Security

Perhaps we all should learn Apache, Seminole, Cheyenne, if we want to keep living in USA :-).

And perhaps we should consider that not many Africans volunteered to be put into chains and stacked like cord wood into the filthy holds of white men’s sailing ships, and brought to a land they did not even know exist and forced to learn the white man’s religion and ways, and work their butts for less than peanuts.

Looks to me that the early white settlers, who also took a heap of land from the Spaniards, created a whole heap of really bad nasty karma, and it’s all coming home to roost.

Meanwhile, there ain’t nothing I can do about any of it, except what’s dead in front of me, and even then I wonder it there is any point to it, other than it gives me something to do, and hopefully burns my own self-created karma and accelerates my spirit journey to wherever I’m going, hopefully.

Sloan

P.S. this morning, to Kurt, copy to all recipients:

Hi again, Kurt -

I was taken to task in a dream early this morning for my reply yesterday not promoting peace and being from the heart.

I knew of but had not followed the Ferguson situation closely. A syndicated article in today’s Citizen paints a grim picture in Ferguson.

Here in Key West there is a serious problem between city police and Bahama Village residents. Part of that problem is caused by a lot of drug dealing in Bahama Village. Part of that problem is caused by race. Part of that problem is caused by gestapo police tactics. As you know, at one time, Bahama Village was the black section of Key West, descendants of black Bahamians, who had been African slaves owned by white Bahamians. Bahama Village still is predominantly black.

Bahama Village

Petronia Street entrance into Bahama Village

Sitting just in front of me during last night’s city commission meeting was Tom Milone, who several years ago was out for a walk one night near where he lived in Old Town and was jumped by several black teens from Bahama Village and beaten nearly to death. A little while earlier, some of those same black teens had jumped another white man, but he was not nearly beaten to death.

Several years before, I happened upon a race riot just beginning at Coffee Plantation, when it was on the corner of Petronia and Whitehead Streets, at the entrance to Bahama Village. Quite a few black teens were on the veranda. Quite a few more black teens were in the front yard. Other black teens were on the sidewalk and across the street. All were waiting for the school bus to take them to Key West High School.

The riot began when the white owners, Theo and Diane Glorie, asked the black teens to leave the premises, because they were just hanging out, not buying anything. This led to that, and Diane and a female teen swung at each other, and Diane got cold-cocked and I grabbed her and hauled her from the veranda back into the coffee house, even as Theo out on the veranda was hit in the side of the face and his glasses were knocked off and fell to the veranda. I went back out onto the veranda and brought Theo inside, then I went back out to the veranda and got his glasses and brought them to him.

Then, I went back onto the veranda and tried to talk the enraged teens down. I wondered if I was going to be hit next? I kept saying, “You don’t want to be doing this, please stand down.” Finally, the teens left the veranda and the premises. Some walked across the street to the bus stop. I saw three of the young women, who had been in on the attacks, walk the other way, back into Bahama Village.

The police arrived soon after. Mayor Morgan McPherson, who is Anglo, arrived. Bahama Village’s city commissioner, Clayton Lopez, who is African Cuban American, arrived. Clayton had a hard time digesting my report of what happened.

Later, a black fellow I knew somewhat told me the problem was caused by the name of the business: Coffee Plantation. It was insensitive, an affront, an insult to black people. I said I had not considered that, nor probably had the owners, who came to Key West from San Diego and had no history with plantation days in the American south, and elsewhere. I said Theo is Dutch, and I had been in Costa Rica where coffee farms are called coffee plantations. No matter, the fellow said. The Coffee Plantation was an affront to blacks.

He said another problem was the white owners hired no blacks; he had tried to get work there himself, unsuccessfully. I said the white owners hired no one; they were the only two employees. They’d had problems ongoing with young black boys, grammar school age, hanging out on the side veranda and not buying anything; and sneaking in the side door and using the computers without permission. The fellow was not moved.

I asked the fellow to talk to other black elders in Bahama Village about what had happened. He bristled, said he would not. He was a musician, sang nightly on Mallory Pier. You surely have heard him. Every night he speaks of the end of slavery and of the white English slaver who saw the light and composed “Amazing Grace,” which this black musician sings every night he performs at Mallory Pier.

I knew from him that he was religious, had a prayer room in his apartment and prayed long stretches of time daily. I knew he was Rastafarian, and that he was from Jamaica, where that branch of Christianity was very strong. So I asked if he thought Jesus would condone such violence. He paused, said, yes, if it was necessary. I asked if the race riot at Coffee Plantation was necessary? He said, yes.

I gave him “the look.” He seemed to come unglued. He walked over and got onto his bicycle and rode off, wobbling back and forth across Petronia Street into Bahama Village, like he was drunk. The next time I saw him, he tried to make it right without actually really dealing with it.

I know of another very serious black against white racial incident in Bahama Village, which never was resolved satisfactorily. It was over a white woman resident not being able to park her car in front of her home, because blacks were taking up all the parking spaces. When she talked to her black neighbors about it, all hell broke lose. Eventually, she moved out of Bahama Village, she felt she was at risk staying there.

How do such things get resolved? I don’t know, Kurt. But I don’t see telling blacks to go back to Africa, or telling whites to go back to England, or Europe, is productive. Nor do I see telling people to forget their racial origin is productive, when there is so much emotion in their racial origin.

Back in 2003, when I ran for mayor the first time, I recommended Bahama Village elders should decide which Key West police officers could work Bahama Village. Back then there were serious problems between city police and blacks in Bahama Village. Perhaps that was a bad idea. The Rastafarian musician was a black Bahama Village elder. He went haywire when I asked him to speak with other black elders in Bahama Village about what had happened at Coffee Plantation.

It is a fact, Kurt, that blacks in America feel blacks are targeted by police. It is a fact that police sometimes get heavy-handed, and sometimes even go off the grid. It also is a fact that police put their lives on the line and for that reason are permitted to do things private citizens are not permitted to do.

The shooting and killing of that young black man in Ferguson was tragic. I read in the syndicated article in the Citizen today, that a Grand Jury already is investigating that shooting. That’s good, because the worst thing that could happen would be nothing was done quickly; it was handled like the death under Key West cops of Charles Eimers was handled; like the apparent tasering from behind, without warning, by a Key West cop of Matthew Murphy was handled.

Who can say if a Grand Jury would have quickly been convened in Ferguson, if US Attorney General Eric Holder, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton had not gotten involved? Would they have gotten involved if they were were white men? Would the situation in Ferguson be even more severe, if a Grand Jury had not been convened?

Do I wish the situation in Ferguson was calm? For sure. Do I wish people would not react in that way to police killing young black men? For sure. Do I wish police would stop killing young black men? For sure. I’m also thinking of neighborhood watchman Anglo Spanish American George Zimmerman killing African American Trayvon Martin after a police dispatcher told Zimmerman to break off following Martin and let the police handle it.

Am I concerned Ferguson and similar events might herald a coming civil war in America? Yes. Am I wondering how Martin Luther King would feel about such a civil war? No. I know he would not care for it. He would want it not to happen. He would seek the non-violent path. And maybe he would be killed again for seeking it.

I don’t recall Dr. King used the term “African-American”. I think I recall him saying black Americans. Maybe I recall him saying Negroes. There was a reason for that: black Americans were not treated the same as white Americans. I imagine most black Americans today still feel black Americans are not treated the same as white Americans. Even though I was raised by the daughter of an African slave, who loved me as her own, as an Anglo American I can’t possible know what it’s like being an African American. Or a Spanish American. Or an Asian American.

As a human being, I wish we all did get along. If that happened, we would not need police, or weapons, or armies, and a lot of people would have to find something else to do and to worry, write and talk about. Meanwhile, we have many troubles and we have many people trying to do something about it.

Several times last night I found myself watching Mayor Cates on the dais. He looked unhappy most of the time; tired. I thought it must be a real strain trying to do his mayor job, and also trying to get reelected. I thought again of only getting one term to serve, so the entire term is devoted to serving the office, and no time is devoted to being reelected.

I dunno, maybe the Key West mayor should be involved in this situation reported in today’s online KONK Life edition, www.konklife.net:

Busing brings question from panelist

BY C.S. GILBERT

KONK LIFE STAFF WRITER

Midway through Monday night’s uneventful and fairly polite Hometown PAC forum in the lobby of the Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Theater, one of the quartet of panelists dropped a bombshell.

Gerald Adams Elementary School is 75% minority, stated Naja Girard, addressing a question to Board of Education incumbent John Dick and his challenger, retired educator Catherine Bosworth. Girard then told of being called by a Bahama Village parent who was very upset, having received notice from the schools that her child, who had attended elementary school at Horace O’Bryant last year, was to be bused to Gerald Adams.

To be bused from Bahama Village, on the far fringe of Old Town, to the school on Stock Island, Girard pointed out, would mean passing two other elementary schools, HOB and Poinciana. Both, she claimed, had a lower percentage of minority students and were, in addition, higher-performing schools. Gerald Adams received a C in the most recent state assessment.

Dick, clearly nonplussed, was first to attempt an answer. He knew nothing of such plans, he said, but he would certainly look into it. He expressed surprise that Old Town/HOB students would not be bused to Poinciana.

Girard said there were no buses to Poinciana. Dick disagreed. No, stated Girard. “I spoke to a crossing guard this morning. No buses.”

Dick, dismayed, had no real answer, stating again that he would look into it.

Bosworth appeared stunned. “That isn’t something that should happen,” she said softly.

Then, as is the program at Hometown PACs, the questioning moved on.

—————————

I voted for Catherine Bosworth yesterday, because John Dick was so out of touch with that situation, and because I really do feel a woman needs to be on the school board. I voted for Warren Leamard in the Key West school board race, because I felt he is the best candidate in that race, and because the school board is and has for some time been a white position. Warren is black Jamaican American.

We now have a a mix-raced African Anglo president. While I think Barack Hussein Obama made grave mistakes in foreign policy, especially involving the US military and US corporations which thrive on war, I am fed up with white Republicans and their Tea Party rebellion attacking him for being African American. Their Anglo president G.W. Bush took America to hell (Iraq and Afghanistan wars), with lots of backing from Anglo Americans, including a majority of Anglo Democrats.

Martin Luther King was killed because he opposed the Vietnam war for being a rich white man’s greed war many young black American were being sent over there to fight, while rich white men’s sons, including George W. Bush, were getting out of it.

There is plenty of blame to go around.

Sloan

Juipiter

Amiga Ginger of Jupiter Beach, Florida wrote yesterday, she has visited Key West a number of times as a cruise ship passenger.

Dear Sloan, the real problem in Key West is too little land and too much money chasing too little land (developers). There is no more room or land for development. Everyone who made money in real estate, be happy! And relax and stop pushing.

The Homeless? There should be some nice camping grounds set up further north as it’s not practical for them to remain in the tiny area called Key West. Why not look around and set up some public camp grounds for the homeless. There is little chance of their getting jobs in the tiny town of Key West. The Homeless are in Key West because of the warm weather and they can live on the beach but they can live on the beach up to the Miami area as it stays warm year round.

In ancient societies , the Homeless couldn’t survive. They would have had to have jobs in the field, doing doing something productive in the city or countryside.

Virginia

I replied:

Hi, Ginger -

Reading the Gospels, there were beggars in Jesus’ time; he was one of them, actually.

I doubt Key West’s homeless would use a campground a few miles up US 1 from Key West. No grocery stores, liquor and cigarette outlets, nothing to do; homeless who are working in Key West would not be able to get to work and would lose their jobs.

During closing citizen comments at tonight’s city commission meeting, I brought up real affordable rental housing, rent a waitress can afford on what she makes. I said there are people staying at KOTS (the city’s overnight homeless shelter), who are working but cannot afford Key West market rate rents. There are people almost homeless, because they cannot afford market rate rent where they are living.

I referred back to what Commission Tony Yaniz had said earlier in the meeting, about it being possible to put 100 or perhaps more affordable rental units on the Easter Seals property on Stock Island, where at one time Mayor Cates wanted to put a 24-hour homeless rehabilitation shelter.

Tony also said he has found perhaps 2-3 acres of abandoned Navy land a few miles up US 1, where he wants to look at getting from the Navy for a new city homeless shelter. I left that alone during my citizen comments, because a new shelter is way down the road, I don’t think many homeless people will use a shelter that far from Key West, and a new shelter is a small issue compared to the acute shortage of affordable rental housing.

I said I was glad to hear the Easter Seals property, which the city owns, is being considered for affordable rental units, perhaps built and managed by the Housing Authority.

I said, about a week ago, I was in Faustos (grocery and deli), and spoke with City Commissioner Jimmy Weekly (his family owns Faustos, he runs it) about real affordable rental housing. He said the 6.6 acres of land originally set aside for Bahama Village can could be used for affordable rental housing; perhaps 200 hundred units. He told me of a study done years back, which indicated Key West was short, what?, 1,100 affordable rental units, and since then that number probably has grown.

I said real affordable rental housing is a very big issue in Key West, it’s a crises, and it needs to be dealt with. People need places to live, which they can afford on what they have.

During closing commissioner/mayor comments, Jimmy Weekley went straight back to his and my conversation at Faustos, saying the study was in 1990 and showed 1,300 affordable rental units shortage in Key West, but efforts have been made and that number perhaps decreased somewhat, but still a lot of work lies ahead, and he is glad city staff are looking at it. He said we need a new definition of affordable housing, which allows people to pay 25 percent of what they make to qualify for it.

I wondered how Mayor Cates was taking that, given I’m one of his opponents in the mayor’s race and the primary is next Tuesday, and given he simply will not accept criticism, or what he perceives to be criticism, of Key West. That meeting was televised on the city’s TV channel. Who knows how many people were watching on?

A woman perhaps close to my age, who speaks frequently during citizen comments, handed me a wad of bills, said, “That’s for your campaign.” Less than $10. But it had a real effect on me, like, – wow!

I received an email today from a Key West woman, whom I have not seen in ages, saying she misses seeing me around and is early voting still going on, and if so, where can she do it? I wrote back to go to the Supervisor of Elections office on Whitehead Street, caddycorner across form the Green Parrot. Early voting ends this week.

When I went there to vote this afternoon, a lawyer I know pretty well, who is Chairman of the Board of Florida Outreach Coalition, which gives homeless and other down and out people, who are sober, a second chance, said he had just voted for me. I said, ha!, he voted for me because he is my lawyer, he was bound by the lawyer-client relationship :-). He said he always has voted for me, except when he lived for a few years a little ways out of Key West and could not vote in city elections.

Well, I digress. It’s easy to think up solutions to the homeless problem, but nowhere in America, of which I am aware, are any solutions thought up working well. The most expensive solution is building new housing for homeless people and letting them live in it for free just to get them off of the sidewalks, out of the parks and shopping centers, etc.

I keep telling people Key West and America have not become Auschwitz yet regarding homeless people, but it may go there eventually. I’m hoping the homeless forum August 28 will be different from all past homeless forums down here. I’m hoping the panelists, who have read credentials, for a change, will wake up enough people in Key West and the Keys to make a difference. I will attend that forum, listen, perhaps speak, if that is allowed.

A lot of people here gripe and worse about homeless people. I wish they would gripe and worse about the acute shortage of affordable rental housing, which a waitress can afford on what she makes.

Sloan

The Peary Court development was on last night’s city commission agenda for discussion.

Peary Court ariel

City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, in whose voting district Peary Court lies, sponsored the item. With the aid of reluctant legal support from City Attorney Shawn Smith, Jimmy, Mayor Craig Cates and Commissioner Clayton Lopez sent a really loud and clear message to the Historical Architectural Review Commission (HARC), whose chairman, Michael Miller, was in the audience, and to City Planner Don Craig, who was in the audience, and to the developer, whose representatives Jim Hendrick and his wife Donna Bosold were in the audience. The loud message was, if the developer wants to  keep the existing fence boundary between Peary Court and Angela Street, then  HARC has no legal authority to interject its own preference for that fence to be taken down.

Commissoner Billy Wardlow indicated agreement. Commissioners Teri Johnston and Mark Rossi said nothing. I know for a fact that Teri agrees that Peary Court should not be integrated into Angela Street and the Meadows. I don’t know where Mark Rossi stands. Tony Yaniz was all over the place last night on Perry Court. After he was done speaking, I didn’t know where he stood.

The Citizen reported none of that in its article today.

I had heard both Michael Miller and Don Craig, at HARC meetings, tell the developer to take that fence down in the development plan, and run streets out of Peary Court though Angela Street into the Meadows. I had heard Miller and Craig tell the Angela Street and Meadows citizens in attendance that it was going to happen, regardless of how they felt about it. I had also heard the mayor and several city commissioners, who met individually with Angela Street/Meadows residents, that they opposed removing the fence and running streets out of Peary Court into Angela Street and the Meadows. And, I had reported all of that during citizen comments at city commission meetings, and had asked the mayor and city commissioners to put Peary Court on a city commission agenda for discussion.

It was at the Angela Street/Meadows neighborhood meeting Commissioner Tony Yaniz attended and gave qualified support for keeping the fence up and no new streets into Angela and the Meadows, as long as bicycle paths were cut through the fence, that it came to me that Peary Court needed to be put on a city commission agenda for discussion. I ran that by Tony, and he said he thought it was a good idea, but Jimmy Weekley should sponsor the agenda item. I ran it by Commissioner Johnston during the next Angela Street/Meadows neighborhood meeting, and she said she thought it was a good idea, but Jimmy Weekley should sponsor the agenda item.

It was the only way I saw, other than firing the HARC commissioners and Don Craig, to head off at the past what Michael Miller and Don Craig were railroading over the developer and the Angela Street/Meadows neighborhood. That was several months ago. It all came to a head last night.

Hurricane Wilma 4Wilma kayak

Hurricane Wilma 3Wilma shark

Harpoon Harry’s and other Hurricane Wilma high tide photos

On the new “height limitations” ordinance, allowing property owners to raise up their homes and businesses to save insurance costs and their homes from flooding and rising water, the Citizen reported, my interjected thoughts in italics:

Heights on ballot

City voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to amend the city charter when it comes to building-height restrictions to allow people whose homes sit below base flood elevation to raise them a maximum of four feet.

A unanimous commission Tuesday night approved the referendum for good after hearing from the city planner and the city FEMA coordinator.

They also heard from mayoral candidate Margaret Romero, who again questioned the motivation behind the referendum.

“People can go to the planning board and get a variance,” Romero said at the podium. “We already have people raising their houses. I really don’t see why we’re making this a referendum.”

That’s not true, City Planner Don Craig and commissioners said. The only way to get one is to go before the commission, when it sits as the Board of Adjustment, and ask for something that is barred by the city charter.

Romero also said she felt developers will like this new ordinance.

Commissioner Teri Johnston said the discussion was proof that the city needs to launch an education campaign before Nov. 4.

Romero is making a third run against Mayor Craig Cates, with the primary a week away.

Cates didn’t comment on the referendum Tuesday but has always supported it on the dais.

The third mayoral candidate in Tuesday’s election, the perennial office-seeker Sloan Bashinsky, also was against the building height referendum, calling it a developer’s ploy.

I said nothing of the sort. I said I was glad to see the city commission helping homeowners and business property owners, who can afford it, be allowed to raise their property to save themselves money in insurance cost and to save their property from damage from storm surges and eventual rising seas. However, I doubted all that many property owners will be able to afford to do that, and many properties cannot be raised without being destroyed. Regardless of the intent of the ordinance, developers have to want the referendum to pass, and you do not wan to open that door to them. If you open that door, you and your heirs and successors on the city commission and the people of Key West will regret that door being opened. Step back, add something into the ordinance that applies it to existing homes and business properties, and prevents developers from taking advantage of it.

Commissioner Clayton Lopez recalled sitting on the dais after Hurricane Wilma’s storm surge blasted the island and having no choice but to deny people’s requests to rebuild and raise their homes.

Lopez at the time, in 2005, was living in a FEMA trailer, having lost his home to the floodwaters.

“Legally, I had to deny them,” Lopez said. “This seeks to remedy that. That’s why I support it.”

Clayton also said he was unable to build his new home higher.

——————————–

I suppose that’s enough jabbering for this day.

Sloan blue

Sloan Bashinsky
keysmyhome@hotmail.com

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West

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