dragons ain’t always bad, and elephants usually are visible, exept in Key West

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local-aspiring-pirate.jpgwanna be pirate at former city hall, Key West, circa November 2007, if I had to guess
There is a new post – unexpected past life regressions induced by old Birmingham childhood acquaintance – at goodmorningbirmingham.com, which some people might find interesting. It started out pretty ordinary, and then …
Another reply to my inquiry re who wished to remain on my email blast hit list:
Hey Sloan, not sure how sane I am but I put on a good show.
Don’t expect God would ever let me off the list. She is funny that way.
Todd German
I wrote back:
Yeah, she is funny that way, but have a heart and don’t tell the new pope, it might put him in cardiac arrest cemetery before he got much poping done.
My bulk email hit list has shrunk to maybe 1/10th of what it was. I kinda figured there were a lot fewer readers out there than the bulk hit list indicated. Maybe a few more readers will wander in. Meanwhile, here’s a real tale of woe, translated, SNAFU by the Navy it seems. Why use drones when H-bombs are so much more convincing?
Dr. StraingeloveDr. Stragelove

Battle in the Bay Newsletter Vol 5 Issue 4

From: Battle in the Bay Dragon Boat Festival (lunarchik@earthlink.net)
Sent: Tue 2/19/13 12:35 PM
To: keysmyhome@hotmail.com

Battle In The Bay Dragon Boat Festival

May 10, 2014
NASKW response
BTB waves white flag


Response to

“Dragon boats torpedoed

by U.S. Navy”


Please allow me to correct your press release.  The Navy did not shoot down the approval of your event from the City.  NAS Key West has never denied your event and as recently as December, was working with the City to coordinate the races.  The only caveat to the approval from the Navy to the City was that event planners be aware that operational requirements in the harbor could take precedence over any special event like the races.  For example, if a ship or diving unit had to come in on short notice.

NAS Key West has notified the City that the harbor will be closed to non-federal and non-government boat traffic Feb. 25.  However, NAS Key West and the City will continue to work together for special events in the harbor, such as the various boat races.  My suggestion is that you revisit your dialogue with the City regarding the dragon boat races.

To answer your “why” about our closing of the harbor, it is to protect DoD and federal surface and subsurface operations.  Non-federal vessel use of the harbor, especially on a frequent basis, may restrict those operations.  So, we will work with the City for special events in the harbor, but all other non-federal use is restricted.

For future reference, please call or email me for any questions you have regarding the Navy, especially before you send a press release or go on the air.  I would very much like to make sure that you have all of the correct information before you are interviewed.


Trice Denny

Public Affairs Officer

Naval Air Station

Key West

Volume 5 Issue 4
February 2013
Due to circumstances beyond our control, Battle In The Bay Dragon Boat Festival has been cancelled for the 2013 race season. Capsized by a perfect storm of circumstances, race organizers felt it was best to postpone the races and work with the City of Marathon to bring the boats back for the only tropical beach launch in the continental USA on May 10, 2014.

Battle In The Bay waves a white flag
From the event director
I am and will always remain grateful to the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Marathon and Jimmy Schmidt for the support provided and the patience practiced as we stormed the beautiful Sombrero Beach that is unparalleled in beauty and amenities for spectators, racers and vendors. The hardest part of deciding to move to Key West was giving up that relationship.
Upon receiving the approval from the City of Key West to stage the races at Truman Waterfront, a press release was sent on 6 February announcing that the Paddle Hard, Play Hard Key West event was official. Below is the press release that I sent on 13 February
based on the information that was available to me at the time.
Karen Bowers
Event Director
Un-ringing a bell isn’t easy.


Battle In The Bay Dragon Boat Festival torpedoed by Navy

(Little Torch Key, FL)Two days after receiving approval from the City of Key West to hold the 5th Annual Battle In The Bay Dragon Boat Festival at Truman Waterfront, the United States Navy shot it down.

Yet to see anything official from either the United States Navy or the City of Key West, word was passed from the City Manager’s office to the event organizers that all water activity in the boat basin shall cease, commencing February 25th. The message was clear that the dragon boat race was not to be, due to the timing that landed square in the middle of a critical point in the planning process. As it stands, refunds are being made to vendors and teams that have paid their registration fees, the official hotels and other sponsors are being notified and contracts are being rescinded. Many questions remain, especially “why”. Is this a matter of national security or just another stand off between the Navy and the City of Key West? There are other questions too. What about the Superboat races? What about cruise ships on the outer mole pier? Does the Ingham have to find a new home? Does NOAA need to move their vessels to another port? The relocation to Key West for the dragon boat race that has been growing in popularity and participation since it’s re-emergence onto the Florida Keys event schedules by staging at Sombrero Beach in Marathon, received an initial wounding when the Tourist Development Council DAC lll that serves the Middle Keys area reduced the funding that the organizers have been utilizing to grow the event to put “heads in beds”, coupled with a contingency on the contract for national television coverage specifically mentioning “Marathon”. This, despite the fact that Battle In The Bay is included in a PBS documentary about Save Our Sisters breast cancer survivor dragon boat team produced by WLRN in Miami, that has been distributed nationwide, beginning in September 2012 and remaining available until 2015. In their application for grant money, documentation provided by TRAC Media Services showed over 90 stations airing Conquering the Dragon – Breast Cancer Survivors Race for Life in markets on the east and west coast, in the Midwest, below and above the Mason Dixon line and as far as Alaska. The problem? Perhaps it is the voiceover that says “…racing for the first time at Battle In The Bay in the Florida Keys”. Not to be discouraged, the organizing committee for Battle In The Bay determined that the best way to keep dragon boat racing in the Keys was to move to a broader market provided by Key West. The TDC DAC I that backs events in Key West had money left over from their first round of requests so another grant application was drafted and subsequently did not receive enough points to be considered for financial support. Yet the staff that is clearly passionate about the sport they represent, continued on their own. Event Director Karen Bowers stated with a laugh, “I am so stubborn and unwilling to let go that it took the United States Navy to make me surrender”. But there is a glimmer of hope for the event. City officials in Marathon want to hear the drums beat and see the dragon boats back splashing off their shores in 2014. Unfortunately for Bowers, she is relocating to Mesa, Arizona to help out her recently widowed mother and plans on being a part of the Arizona Dragon Boat Association as a paddler, not a planner.


Also down Key Weird way, excerpts from an article in The Key West Citizen, my thoughts in italics:Elephant in the living room

Walsh  denied new eatery
Mallory Square plan  is deemed too big
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff gfilosa@keysnews.com

The City Commission Wednesday night denied businessman Joe Walsh’s request to build a two-story, 156-seat restaurant at Mallory Square, killing the project with a 5-2 vote over worries that it would tower over the waterfront tourist spot.

“We need to look at the overall picture: what’s best for the area, the citizens of Key West, the public and our future with tourism,” said Mayor Craig Cates, before the vote.

While city planners and the volunteer Planning Board said otherwise, commissioners were troubled over added parking, traffic and whether the restaurant’s proposed 2,344 square feet of eating and drinking space met the code requirements.

Only City Commissioners Mark Rossi and Tony Yaniz voted for Walsh’s plan.

“At this late date, to tell this guy it’s too big, to me, seems patently unfair,” said Yaniz.

I have not kept up with this situation, but if this redevelopment had come before the City Commission before, that’s when those objections should have been made.

City Commissioner Teri Johnston led the motion to deny.

Walsh, whose restaurants in Key West include Caroline’s, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Mangoes and Fogarty’s, said he would most likely rework the plan and return to Old City Hall.

Until then there are no hard feelings, he said.

“The City Commission has a job to do,” Walsh said after the meeting. “They did their job.”

Cates said he was most concerned over an illustration, brought by attorney Robert Cintron — a longtime opponent of the project — that purportedly showed what the finished project would look.

Cintron also is a long time friend of Key West  Conch Fred Salinero, of whom you will read shortly.

“Our whole goal for years now is to have an open area walkway down by the waterfront,” said Cates.

To take a defunct 30-seat pizza parlor and turn it into a “full-blown restaurant” violates the city’s zoning regulations, said Cintron, who argued that Walsh’s place simply would clash with Key West law.

“This is a massive expansion and there is no way you can say it any differently,” Cintron said.

“You have to be a little bit more careful when you’re deciding heady decisions like this.”

I wonder if Cintron made this argument at earlier commission meetings, and at City Planning Board meetings, and when the City Commission awarded Walsh the bid in 2010?

The code allows for 156 seats and 2,344 square feet of dining and always has, said City Planner Don Craig, and that means Walsh isn’t legally required to create new parking spaces.

For years, Key West has kept that rule as an incentive to business owners making a go of it on Duval Street.

Walsh said FEMA guidelines make it nearly impossible to build a one-story building at Mallory Square, and that the 156 seats would be allowed. He said the prior restaurant there had only 30-odd seats because the city charges more than $500 per seat as an “impact fee.”

Walsh’s proposal to demolish the existing abandoned building and replace it with a new restaurant began in 2010 when the commission awarded him the bid.

Well, I rather imagine at that time, the City Commission had a pretty fair picture of what Walsh was going to do there, what general size and height of restaurant he was going to build. The Commission awarded him the bid. Where were their concerns then?

Having fended off a lawsuit by the Westin Key West Resort, Walsh appeared Wednesday night to ask the city to grant a “major development plan” needed to break ground.

The Westin objected to the new eatery going up next-door, tying it up in court until December, when an appellate court upheld Circuit Court Judge David Audlin’s ruling that Walsh’s place wouldn’t violate any coastal control regulations or sit too close to the water.

Westin Resort is right next door, over a short bridge. It has its  own upscale restaurant, which serves inside and outside on its pier when weather permits. Westin is owned by the Walsh family, no relation to Joe Walsh. Westin’s pier is one of the three piers along that waterfront where cruise ships dock and disembark passengers. Another pier is Mallory Square, another is the Outer Mole, on the other side of Westin. When cruise ships are docked at Mallory Pier, there is no sunset to watch at the popular “sunset celebration”, which features local street vendors selling a variety of goods, including food, street performers, musicians tarot and psychic readers.

One of the city’s other tenants at Mallory Square made an emotional plea Wednesday night, offended at the idea of his own landlord paving the way for a new restaurant significantly larger than the last business that operated out of the property.

“It’s going to destroy us and I want you to think of that,” said Fred Salinero, a partner in El Meson de Pepe’s that has succeeded as the square’s sole restaurant for 16 years, and pays the city $372,000 each year in rent alone.

“We’ve got to sell a hell of a lot of rice and beans to make that money,” said Salinero. “Now you’re talking about putting another restaurant there? [Walsh] has got Red Fish, Blue Fish we’re competing with.”

Salinero and Cintron go back a long ways. Cintron practices law with Hugh Morgan, and until he was disbarred, Jim Hendrick practiced in that law firm. I ate lots of Friday lunches with them at various eateries in Key West, including Salinero’s on Mallory Square. Wouldn’t surprise me, if Cintron and Salerino consulted Hendrick about this “case”. Wouldn’t surprise me, if Salerino didn’t pay both Cintron and Hendrick for their advice, and for Cintron’s appearance at the commission meeting last night. Maybe not in money, but in a favor owed. 

Yaniz objected to competition among businesses factoring into the panel’s decision.

“We’re talking about creating an antitrust situation,” said Yaniz.

Yaniz is dead on the money, this is a deja vue Duck Tours case, wherein the City Commission drove Duck Tours out of business to protect Historic Tours of America/Ed Swift’s conch trains and trolleys from business competition, which eventually led to the city paying out about $8,000,000 to Duck Tours, plus the city’s own legal fees and staff time.

At that point, Cates asked City Attorney Shawn Smith for an opinion.

Wise move by the mayor.

“Your job is to focus on land use regulation,” Smith immediately replied. “I would avoid any discussion with respect to favoring one business over another.”

If we don’t talk about the elephant, then it ain’t there. Well,  Shawn, they already talked about the elephant, it’s in plain view in the public record for any judge and jury to read later, if Walsh ends up suing the city. Westin on one side, Salerino on another side, not wanting Walsh competing with them. City Planner Craig saying the city’s ordinance and rules allow the restaurant. The bid to Walsh was let to Walsh in 2010, knowing he would seriously expand the seating from what the pizza parlor had. What do you think a jury would do with that, Shawn, and with your recorded legal advice to Mayor Cates? Obviously you are thinking anti-trust, Shawn, and that is why you told them to stop talking about business competition. A first semester law student would be thinking anti-trust. Of course this is about siding with the Westin and Salerino; all the rest is hocus pocus. This is not about quality of life, or pretty, given the city does not object to, but warmly welcomes skyscraper cruise ships at Mallory Pier.

Mallory cruise shipMallory Pier quality of life sun block

New fees for HARC

Without comment, the commission approved the Planning Department’s request to begin charging fees on applications made to the Historic Architectural Review Commission, and raising some current fees on other project applications.

City staff isn’t fairly compensated for the growing workload that HARC approvals require, said Craig. The fee schedule hasn’t changed since 2008.

Fees for construction work taking place in the city’s historic district will be $25 for an inspection, $50 for a minor improvement such as changing a window or fencing, and $100 to build a new house.

The number of HARC applications processed by the city has jumped by 37 percent over the past three years, according to an in-house review.

The new fees could generate $50,000 in this fiscal year alone, and $100,000 in a complete fiscal year, according to Craig.

Reasonable administrative fees are okay, but I imagine that is sort of how the Tree Commission started out, and now it’s a full-blown city RICO operation, gouging private property owners at every opportunity. Knowing the way the city operates, it won’t suprise me to see HARC become another city RICO operation.

Sloan Bashinsky


About Sloan

Darn, that would take a while. Try the autobiographical pages in the header. Ditto for header menu pages at www.goodmorningbirmingham.com. 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 goodmorningkeywest.com, been at that since July 2007. That's heaps of catch-up reading, probably not recommended.
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