the blind leading the blind – Key West


There is a the blind leading the blind – Florida Keys school district post today at Meanwhile …

In a nap dream yesterday, I was given a pass on attending last night’s city commission meeting in Key West. Besides the throat surgery Tuesday morning, I suffered a huge sneezing fit later the same day, which separated a lot of cartilage from my ribs behind my lungs, which left me in great pain whenever I coughed, which was frequently, because the surgery was on my larynx. A coughing fit during the drive down to Key West and back would have posed a serious navigation hazard to anyone near me on US 1.

From The Key West Citizen today:

Glynn Archer could cost $13M

BY JOHN DeSANTIS Citizen Staff

A report on renovating a former elementary school for use as a city hall in Key West states that at least one of the options would cost more than $13 million.

Assistant City Manager David Fernandez told the City Commission Wednesday night that copies of the 700-plus page draft report prepared by consultants will be available to them on CD-ROM sometime today.

Fernandez appeared in lieu of City Manager Bob Vitas, who was out of town due to a family emergency, and told commissioners that he was setting up individual presentations for them, and that they will sit down as a group with engineers for further explanation of the options for Glynn Archer Elementary School that are outlined in the report.

The option Fernandez mentioned specifically was preservation of the building’s walls but not much else.

“What staff is calling a blue-sky approach, is where you save the side of the building and remove the interior, build a steel infrastructure supporting new floors,” Fernandez said. “We will have glossy versions to you on Monday and can have the draft to you tomorrow.”

The city accepted a turnover of the school site from the Monroe County School Board in April.

The School District gave the Glynn Archer property to the city in exchange for property the city owns on Stock Island.

Making the former school into a new city hall has been a pet project of Mayor Craig Cates. Some other members of the commission have questioned whether the undertaking will cost too much.

Commissioner Clayton Lopez was among the opponents, although he voted with the majority that authorized acceptance of the school property.

“It should be an interesting report,” said Commissioner Teri Johnston, who has long held the opinion that renovating the historic building would be too costly, compared to a newly constructed building on Angela Street.

Commissioners took no action on Glynn Archer Wednesday evening, as no questions were before them on the matter during their meeting.

They did vote to accept a $30,000 settlement from New York Mellon Bank, wiping out $187,000 in zoning fines for a foreclosed property now owned by the bank, over objections from speakers who urged them not to underwrite the bank’s errors.

“There was no special hardship, there was no hidden data, the bank should have known they made a mistake,” said the Rev. Randy Becker of the Unitarian Universalist Church. “And now they want the city of Key West to swallow their mistake. Don’t let them get away with it.”

Commissioner Teri Johnston cast the lone vote against the settlement.Vacationing Commissioner Mark Rossi was not present.

Commissioners also approved a change in zoning that will allow developers to build up to 8.6 units per acre on the former Navy housing complex site known as Peary Court, following intense questioning of developer James Landers about promises of keeping to the city’s requirement that at least 30 percent of new housing be deemed “affordable.”

The measure passed by a 4-2 vote, with Jimmy Weekley and Johnston dissenting.


I remember Craig Cates telling me Glynn Archer was in great shape, it had been redone inside, the plumbing, the wiring, and the roof was good. It would be a breeze to convert to the new city hall. I remember telling Craig I had rebuilt an old vintage house for my home, and had rebuilt an old vintage house for my law office, and it I would be very surprised if converting Glynn Archer into the new city hall would be a breeze. I wonder if Craig, or anyone, is willing to personally guarantee it won’t cost over $13 million to turn Glynn Archer into a new city hall? Facetious question.

Mark Rossi raised bloody hell about Peary Court’s density and the affordable housing shell game at the previous city commission meeting, and he was not there last night? Who’s going to build the affordable housing, Adam? The developer, the City of Key West? What about the back taxes owed on Peary Court? The City isn’t going to hold the developer’s feet to the fire over that? 

On channel widening to bring in super monster cruise ships, two letters to the editor today:


Environmentalists should study the facts

In response to Mr. Well’s Aug. 30 [guest column]: yes, there are some corals and other marine life in Key West Harbor and cruise ships don’t dump their sewage there, they dump it in the ocean nearby.

Let’s get our facts straight: The channel widening is not a “minor” widening, it’s a mega project that will harm an already fragile marine environment.

More facts: Most cruise ships are registered in Third World countries to enjoy weak environmental regulations, lax labor laws and low taxes. Unlike cities and industries, cruise ships aren’t required to have permits to dump raw sewage into oceans and aren’t required to report what they release, so neither the government nor the public knows how much pollution is released.

Cruise ships can release untreated sewage, or black water, anywhere beyond three miles from the shore, and can release untreated gray water — non-sewage wastewater from galleys, dishwashers, baths, sinks, showers and laundries — anywhere they sail, except Alaska.

A cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew every day generates about 30,000 gallons of human waste and 255,000 gallons of gray water, produces seven tons of garbage and solid waste, generates 15,000 gallons of toxic chemicals and 37,000 gallons of oily bilge water, generates air pollutants equivalent to 12,000 automobiles, and produces hundreds of thousands of gallons of ballast water. And that’s just one medium-sized ship that goes each day between Fort Lauderdale or Miami to Key West — not a large one or a lumbering, top heavy, “mega” one with 8,000 passengers.

So where’s the tipping point? When Duval Street is clogged with one-day tourists and our island is surrounded with tacky water-toy facilities? When do the viable, positive tourists, the ones we really want, decide to go elsewhere?

In closing, it is important to state that Mark Songer is not a “professional ecologist,” he is a private citizen who volunteers his time to benefit his community. He certainly is not a professional lobbyist representing an industry that only serves itself.

Joel Biddle

Reef Relief

Key West

A regular monster cruise ship leaves Key West.

Silt from cruise ships covers the sea floor

After reading John Wells [guest column] and his statement that “There is no data and no study that has ever supported that premise,” the premise being that cruise ships in general and dredging will destroy the quality of the marine sanctuary. I would like to draw his attention to the picture in The Citizen of a cruise ship coming into Key West Harbor. It very clearly showed a giant silt plume as the ship’s props stirred the shallow bottom.

As John should know, those two cruise ships he saw when he popped his head out of the water in Kingfish Shoal — where, by the way, the currents do not take the silty water — represent four trips in and out of our channel. Now multiply by two every ship that comes to port and it is twice the silt in our once-clear waters.

Have you ever seen construction near the water in the Keys? It requires a floating curtain to keep the silt contained. Why? Because coral and bottom life need clear water, not cloudy silt water. So why are cruise ships allowed at all, when all other activities that produce silt would bring on huge fines?

Because we sold out!

Five percent of our economy off of cruise ships, and we sold out. Why don’t we dredge a 100-acre area at Kingfish Shoal so we can bring in 20 ships at a time?

I have been in Key West since 1978, and I would be a fool to suggest that cruise ships alone killed the reef. But as a diver I have seen where the current takes the silt; it is not pretty. Deep reefs are covered with as much as an inch of silt, and not just out front but all the way to Smith Shoal. So if you think we need to do a study, let us save the money and charter a plane as a cruise ship comes in our shallow channel. After you see with your own eyes this seven-mile silt plume, tell me again how it does not impact our water.

John is in denial for a paycheck, just like a climate scientist working for BP.

Dan Kramer

Key West

I remember a Hometown! PAC candidate forum at Tropic Cinema, when I asked Mayor Morgan McPherson what he intended to do about cruise ships leaving Key West and dumping their raw sewerage into the ocean beyond the US territorial limit? Morgan said he wasn’t happening, he personally had looked into it and had gone onto cruise ships and had seen their waste treatment plants. He said they were turning out treated water that they said was drinkable, but, he laughed, he didn’t take them up on it. I sat there shaking my head. Morgan got reelected, defeating Jimmy Weekley in a run-off. I wrote my name on the ballot as a write-in candidate, after not making it into the run-off. That was 2007.

Sloan Bashinsky


About Sloan

Darn, that would take a while. Try the autobiographical pages in the header. Ditto for header menu pages at Hatched and raised there, eventually I ran away from home. Here's a short list: Born 1942; male; spoken for; accused of all sorts of imaginable and unimaginable things, perhaps some true. Live on Key West of Weird asteroid. Publish something most days at, been at that since July 2007. That's heaps of catch-up reading, probably not recommended.
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