death-defying juggling acts of praise, contrition, remorse and blue humor in Key West and the Florida Keys

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bullseye

Jerry Weinstock, M.D., Pshchiarty, semi-retired, replied to parts of yesterday’s sewer politics, money ethics, prison guard and police brutality, whistleblowers, the hazards of litigation – Florida Keys, Key West and beyond post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:

Sloan: I think you did your share on this issue–rest –relax;
Rick’s experience with Sunset Key is not surprising —they are
not set up for honest integrity or humanitarian empathy—-
only $$$$$$…. You and I got here in 1956 we remember what it was like;
Wisteria Island should be a wildlife preserve –[--developed ---more pollution ] and politicians getting their hands in on such a project—-forgotten will be the service people that need housing and housing projects for the people.
Being caught on Sunset Key —would be a nightmare for us—-sort of inconvenient to get to Winn Dixie or Walgreen’s for my favorite ice cream bar at 2:am—or anything else–like being caged…sends shivers up my spine… take care!! Jerry.

I replied:

Did you ever consider that you may have missed your calling as a professional hit man?
:-)

Jerry wrote:

I am –I use words like weapons.
[good analysis]–Sloan

I replied:

Civilized “warfare” – the pen is mightier than the sword, thus the sword defends the pen, the angels told me in the fall of 2002, just after I got involved in Key West going to referendum on whether or not there would be a Citizens Police Review Board, which outfit gets some mention in today’s post.

Yesterday morning, I “accidentally” had breakfast with Tom Milone at Harpoon Harry’s in Key West.

tom-milone.jpg

Tom is vice-chairman of the city’s Citizens (Police) Review Board, aka CRB. He said he intends to push the CRB to investigate four KWPD cases.

1. The tasering of Matthew Murphy, allegedly from behind, without prior warning. After being tasered, Murphy fell to the sidewalk, went into convulsions, and remains paralyzed three years later in a mainland hospital, where he was taken from Key West. But for Key West the Newspaper, www.thebluepaper.com, Tom said, we’d never have heard about the Murphy case.

2. The death of Charlesl Eimers in police custody on South Beach last Thanksgiving Day. Tom agreed with me, but for Key West the Newspaper, we’d never have heard of that case, either.

3. The daylight cavity search in plain view by white police officers of of a black Bahama Village resident, in front of other black Bahama Village residents, contrary to state law cavity search procedures, which are supposed to be done descretely. The black man was found to have drugs on this possession and is still in jail, Tom said. I said I had no problem with the police doing there job and arresting the fellow for having drugs, or even trafficking drugs – that’s something cops are supposed to do. But the cavity search was out of bounds, it was KKK activity, especially in a black neighborhood, which historically has had awful relations with Key West police. Tom seemed to agree. Another case we’d never have heard about, but for Key West the Newspaper.

4. Key West cops making a raid in Bahama Village and pointing guns at and threatening children and a woman in a suspected drug bust in a private home. Another case we would not know about, but for Key West the Newspaper.

blue paper logo

www.thebluepaper.com

thin blue line

I joined the push in 2002, to put Key West having a CRB out to referendum. The city’s elected officials, city manager, police department and the police union fought hard to keep the referendum off the ballot, but plenty of petitions were signed to cause the issue to go to referendum. Then, the same adversaries fought to have the referendum defeated. Even as Key West the Newspaper, then under management of its founder, Dennis Reeves Cooper, fought hard to have the referendum passed.

The referendum passed overwhelmingly, but the city ended up having the ability to appoint some CRB members, while the CRB got to appoint the remaining members. The city’s CRB appointees, over the years, tended to be rubber stamps of the city commission. As more time passed, the CRB became a toothless watchdog, in my opinion. Tom said he tried several times to be appointed by the city commission, and was not appointed. Finally, the CRB appointed him a while back. I’m hoping he represents a trend for the CRB having not only teeth, but fangs and claws.

fangs and claws

The CRB has the power to launch its own investigations and subpoena witnesses. As far as I know, it never has launched its own investigation, but my impression from talking with Tom yesterday morning is that’s going to change if he has anything to do with it.

Charles Eimer's take down

Starting with breaking the Charles Eimers case earlier this year, Key West the Newspaper certainly opened the door for the CRB to actually have fangs and claws. Protect the public fangs and claws the city commission, city manager police chief, state attorney, grand jury and state department of law enforcement sorely lack.

Moving to another dangerous creature feature,

mosquito

day before yesterday, I “accidentally” bumped into Mosquito Control Board chairman Steve Smith and lower Keys Democratic Mosquito Control Board candidate Roger Cousineau at Harpoon Harry’s.

Steve SmithRoger Cousineau

Steve Smith, left, Roger Cousineau right

Before dawn that day, I had dreamt of getting involved in something happening on Cudjoe Key, and the islands above and below there. That’s the Mosquito Control Board district seat for which Roger is running against Governor Scott appointee Phillip Goodman,

Philip Goodman

who, along with is wife and daughter, live on Cudjoe Key and head up the local Republican Party. Goodman was appointed by the governor after a Mosquito Control Board member left the Board.

Steve told me various things over breakfast, and I said if he wrote it up and sent it to me, I would publish it at www.goodmorningkeywest.com. Steve said he was already working on something and would finish it and send to me. I said he also should submit it to www.thebluepaper.com and www.bigpinekey.com’s Coconut Telegraph forum, both of which websites have more readers than I have at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.

Steve sent yesterday:

Guest Commentary

Let us be clear that Mosquito Control’s focus is to keep the mosquito population at a minimum which is labor intensive and necessary to protect the health of both our residents and our visitors. Election season is upon us, and as Chairman and an 18 year elected commissioner at Florida keys Mosquito Control I would like to address some statements being made during this election season.

When I was elected to the FKMCD board there was a management change and a change of practices. These changes we put into place to control larvae (as opposed to blanket spraying insecticide for adult mosquitos) thus dramatically reducing biting adult mosquito numbers. In addition to the immediate health advantages, these changes resulted in saving County residents millions of tax dollars and reduced the use of adulticides (pesticides) by approximately 80%.

Tom McDonald opposed these changes. In 1996 while he was a commissioner FKMCD was BROKE and we had to borrow $500K to make it through the end of the fiscal year. There was no research, no entomologist, no scientific approach – just spraying pesticides countywide.

We average 60 adulticide and 130 larvicide missions annually. Adulticiding uses less than an ounce per acre, is highly regulated, and not sprayed over the National Marine Sanctuary. To control mosquito larvae, we use Bti, a naturally occurring bacteria. We use about 4.8 tons of Bti over land annually, and it is harmless to humans, pets, fish, and birds only targeting mosquito larvae. We do not disperse Bti over the open NMS waters.

FKMCD was the first in the nation to aerially disperse liquid Bti larvicide which is used over the island of Key West to control aedes aegypti on this densly populated island. FKMCD researchers worked with the manufacturer to design a product and dispersal method to safely and efficiently use this product over the densely populated area. Our staff entomologists and biologists are constantly monitoring the efficacy of this as well as the other FKMCD’s mosquito control programs, while researching new products to test effectiveness in our environment.

Mosquito commissioners can attend educational programs to learn what we use, why we use it, and how our entomologists, staff, and the state work together toward better mosquito control in our districts while protecting the environment. At this time, several of our commissioners have chosen not to attend these programs, while while Commissioner Shaw and I chose to expand our knowledge. Their lack of knowledge reflects in their decisions regarding budgets and staff reductions.

Last month’s budget limiting vote by Goodman, Bridges, and Cranny-Gage was contrary to the advice of director Doyle and our comptroller, and most likely will cause a shortfall in the upcoming year. Commissioner Shaw and I vocally opposed this unnecessary limitation so early in the crafting of our 2014-2015 annual budget, especially with 2.5 months of heavy mosquito control before our current fiscal year ends.

In the last 6 rainy weeks we have used an additional $400,000 of our chemical treatment reserves plus the cost of the mosquito control missions. If we continue to have heavy rain incidents, I am fairly certain that next year we will need to raise the millage rate significantly to replenish the reserves that will be pulled down this year to due to a limited budget.

Commissioner Goodman has suggested we borrow money for the construction of the Key West facility as we have been forced to relocate. I’m certain any lender will gladly give us money at their profitable interest rate. While borrowing money is a possibility that will incur interest charges, the mortgage on our new facility will need to be paid, resulting in a tax increase as the current budget could not support payments on the new building.

We need proper staffing and budget to continue our work; we do not need to keep cutting the budget to the point we can no longer effectively do our job. Reserves were tapped this year to balance the budget. A millage rate that maintained reserves while covering operating expenses for the next year would have cost a typical homeowner an additional .56¢ a month, or $6.45 per year.

Mosquito control is an intensive battle which takes manpower and an adequate budget. Our staffing is down over 20% and service and response to service requests has been reduced proportionately. Many employees are now doing the normal jobs of 2-3 staff members and they just do not have time to inspect properties as in the past. A further reduction in staffing will result in an increase of nuisance and potential disease carrying mosquitos.

We do not want more mosquitos in the Keys. Proper funding and staffing allows us to comfortably enjoy the paradise in which we reside and keep FKMCD doing their mandated mission. That is why I write this. For the record, I feel no public purpose is served by undercutting the budget and overtaxing the staff who work for Mosquito Control while restricting resources needed to do the work of this agency.

Stephen K. Smith, Commissioner
Chairman, Florida Keys Mosquito Control

I replied:

Thanks, Steve –

aedes aegypti carries denge fever?

Today’s menu at goodmorningkeywest.com got heaped high, if I drop yours into it, yours probably will get lost, so I will wait until tomorrow, or perhaps the day after.

Your relationship with Roger is? Some people might ask.

Thanks,

Sloan

Steve replied:

yes, they carry dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya. Fortunately we have none of these diseases in the Keys and we work to keep the aedes population at a minimum.

We’ve [Steve and Roger] known each other over a dozen years. Tho we don’t socialize that much given he and his partner live up the Keys, we have remained friends. When he asked me about running for Mosq control, I thought he would make a dedicated and not politically motivated member of the commission. He’s never run for office, just former military and was a junior high school teacher before coming to the Keys.

Tomorrow or Wednesday is fine.

thanks

Over breakfast at Harpoon Harry’s, Steve said the Republican Key Largo Mosquito Control Board candidate Tom McDonald already has stated, if elected, he will vote with Phillip Goodman.

Florida Keys voter demographics shown on the Monroe County Supervisor of Elections’s website:

Democrats: 16,944

Republicans: 18,722

Other: 15,457

There are plenty of Democrats and Others to defeat Republican candidates.

Mud Dawg's guardian angel

Perhaps a humorous aside, back in 2006, when I ran the first time against George Neugent for the lower Keys county commission seat George held, I was asked at the Key West Chamber of Commerce candidate forum, if I felt Mosquito Control should be merged into and be managed by Monroe County?

New kid on the Keys politics block, I didn’t really know how to answer the question. I didn’t say that, though. I said, instead, that I would get rid of Mosquito Control altogether, because I felt what they was spraying was more harmful than mosquitoes. The room stopped breathing. George Neugent, chuckled, whispered to me, “That would create a lot of affordable housing.” Amen. And it would stop development in its tracks. Amen.

Sounds from what Steve Smith wrote, that what Mosquito Control is using isn’t as harmful as I thought back in 2006, in that the larvacides don’t hurt people, birds and wildlife, other than mosquitoes. However, I still don’t like the idea of being sprayed with pesticides.

The best prevention is elimination of standing water, which mosquitoes need to breed.

A Mosquito Control employee told me a few years ago that the freshwater-breeding mosquitoes carry the dangerous to humans diseases, and the saltwater-breeding mosquitoes do not carry those disease. They just bite like hell, perhaps because they are smaller than the freshwater breeders and feel they have something to prove.

I never knew there was a saltwater-breeding mosquito before I lived on Little Torch Key. No way Mosquito control can do much about them, given the Keys are surrounded by saltwater.

Moving into yet another Florida Keys stink,

fishy smell

in the Citizen yesterday, keysnews.com, my amicable thoughts in italics:

Monday, September 22, 2014
Canal dredging moves forward
BY TIMOTHY O’HARA Citizen Staff
tohara@keysnews.com

Monroe County during the past year has embarked on the ambitious task of cleaning up and improving the water quality in the 508 canals in unincorporated areas of the county.

Water quality in Florida Keys’ canals suffers from a multitude of issues, but one of the most problematic and expensive issues comes from the canals being filled with weeds and other organic material that is sinking to the bottom.

In total, the county needs to vacuum dredge 122 canals to a depth of 12 feet at a cost of $73 million, according to county Sustainability Program Manager Rhonda Haag.

The county is currently in the process of designing six canal cleanup projects totaling $3.2 million. Of that, two are vacuum dredging projects, totaling $1.3 million. Both of the projects are on Big Pine Key, Haag said.

In order to remove enough organic material from the bottom of the canals, the county needs to change its comprehensive land-use plan to allow dredging deeper than a depth of six feet, which is currently prohibited.

“This material has blown in and sank to the bottom over the years and needs to be removed for the canals to be healthy,” Haag said.

County commissioners took the first step toward achieving that goal Wednesday when they approved a change to the comprehensive plan allowing government agencies to dredge canals deeper than six feet.

How about changing the comprehensive plan to allow canals to be filled in so they are not deeper than six feet. That’s a big part of the problem, isn’t it? Canals were dredged too deep, the tidal flow and exchange was not able to cleanse the deep and/or long and twisting canals. No thought was given back then to that basic water physics. Development was king, dig canals and build canal-front houses, condominiums, motels, hotels.

The plan still has to be reviewed by the state Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees development in the Florida Keys. The agency will provide comments and then send it back to the county for final approval.

The county commission will most likely not be able to give its final approve until January.

The county also will need the approval of the Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Environmental Protection before starting to dredge the canals, according to Mayte Santamaria, a senior county planner.

How about just filling in the polluted canals all the way? Might be cheaper, and might end the problem. And might create lots of affordable housing. And will restore the Keys themselves to what they looked like before the invasive species, white people, moved here.

The cost to clean up all 502 canals in the Florida Keys is $300 million, according to county estimates.

That was about the cost of sewering the Keys. Where’s that money going to come from?

Last year, the county commission set aside $5 million in infrastructure sales tax money for canal restoration projects and agreed to go after $32 million in Restore Act funding, which comes from Clean Water Act fines levied on B.P. and Transocean for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Drops in the bucket.

The county is expected to start work on the canal projects in January, according to Haag.

tohara@keysnews.com

Moving back to Rick Boettger,

Rick Boettger

I wrote to him this morning:

Morning, Rick – perhaps I missed seeing your article in electronic version of KONK Life, or has it run yet? The article you wrote to me about the other day, in which you said you came around to agreeing with me that KW needs its own drunk tank. Sloan

Rick replied:

You haven’t missed it–not in the eBlast yet. The paper version is readily available–hey, give us a read!

I replied:

I was going to read the paper edition the other morning at Harpoon Harry’s, then I bumped into Mosquito Control Board chairman Steve Smith and got to talking about mosquito stuff. The result of that conversation will be in today’s post at goodmorningkeywest.com.

I can’t play off your article in the paper edition, which is why I inquired about the electronic version. I’ll look for a paper copy at Harpoon Harry’s later this morning. I think the blue paper might have more readers, maybe a lot more readers, than Konk Life.

I wish you had continued your and my money discussion under your Sunset Key Rip-off article in the blue paper. A lot more people would have read ours.

I had an interesting conversation with Naja and Arnaud Girard about a week ago.

NajaArnaud Girard

They said they are thinking about converting the blue paper to a non-profit and getting IRS approval, so people can make donations to the blue paper and get a tax deduction. That would increase donations, they felt.

I said they would find out if they made the conversion. Maybe they would find out that nothing changed. Meanwhile, if people need a tax write-off to donate to the blue paper, that tells me a tax write-off is more important to them than what the blue paper is publishing.

I’ve been pondering your legacy donation via Community Foundation of Florida Keys. My father set up an endowment, which trustees would manage after he passed over. Trustees decide which charities get what from the endowment. I don’t know how much the trustees are paid, but I hope it isn’t much.

Personally, I have not liked the idea of non-profits, which use most of what they are given to pay salaries and benefits of the non-profits’ employees and officers. Of course, not all non-profits are like that. Florida Keys Outreach Coalition for example, has a big payroll, but that is necessary to provide the services FKOC’s clients need.

The only art outfit I ever donated money in Key West was Art Behind Bars. I felt that one needed and deserved public support.

I also supported Tropic Cinema, in the beginning. I stopped doing that after it rented the storefront next door, which then housed the Lighthouse Project for at-risk kids, which forced Lighthouse to relocate. Tropic Cinema wanted the space for its 4th theater.

I still see and enjoy movies there, but do not make donations. I saw “Drop Box” there last night. Maybe the best picture show of the year, I have seen. Not for the faint of heart.

If I had a pile to give away at my death, I would name the specific beneficiaries in my will, and the amounts they are to receive. I would not use an intermediary non-profit.

Sloan angel

Sloan Bashinsky

keysmyhome@hotmail.com

 

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