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Re more signees for my new email hit list:
From an old Alabama amigo yesterday, who pretty much runs the old line Southern Baptist Church my parents and grandparents attended, when I was a boy, meaning, I attended it too:
Sloan, it looks like you’ve found you mission – Gadfly and blogger. Keep me on your list.
I wrote back:
Hi, Phil – appearances maybe deceiving, but it might be a good cover. Hope all well with you and your family. Sloan
From a former employee of my father’s company, in Birmingham:
Hey Bash, I am doing good.. How are you? I see you are still fighting a cause in KW.. haha….You will never believe it, but you remember Ray W? He said he was the first person you rode with on a route in Montgomery…Years ago…..Well, we have been going together for over a year and plan on getting married. He lives in Prattville and I here in Moody.. We need to sell a house..Why don’t you come back and buy one of ours??? haha..Herman Faulk gave him my phone # and the rest is history…..
Ray had a 2 by pass heart surgery 2 weeks ago today but is doing fairly well, considering. Herman goes today for a stress test but seems to holding his own.. I still hear from some of my pals at Flake, but I believe I got out at the right time.. I do miss my friends with what is left, and the customers but I am stress free and doing well after 44 years at Flake… Years ago, I could not tell you this for Golden Flake was # 1 for such a long time… I read your emails and enjoy hearing from you. Take care and let me hear from you soon…Freeda
P.S. We went to every Alabama football game last year, except the Championship Game.. ROLL TIDE
I wrote back:
Hi, Freeda – happy for you and Ray, had heard all about it from Herman, who was terribly concerned, or he pretended so, for the state of your soul, out of wedlock and all. Poor Herman, he’s on so many different pills, I started calling him the bionic man. Give Ray my best regards, too. Bash
Down here in The Asteroid Belt, more from the No Name Key warlock Howard Thurston, who seems to have made attacking Alicia Putney his reason for being. This below was in reference to my having asked Alicia to respond to his most recent email attacking her, which email I had answered and published in the The ballad of Howard Thurston, a No Name Key habitant no one I ask seems to have ever heard of post at goodmorningfloridakeys.com.
Even if she [Alicia] did respond she’d surely lie but it sure is curious that she never does address the facts you asked her about…then again, why should she, those are the facts. The truth. She is who she is and did what she did and has been exposed. She’s hated on No Name by all but, my guess, two or three and for good reason. Thank you.
And you are who you are – that you won’t come forward and show yourself says more and ill about you than any and every thing you leveled at Alicia.
I went to Coco’s Kitchen for lunch today and got to talking at the counter with two women down for a couple of months, who were looking at buying a home down here. They live on Martha’s Vineyard. After I told them a little about the fracas out on No Name Key, one of them asked, “Why did those people buy a home out there, if they wanted public utilities?” I said, that is the question they never answer.
The woman said they had something similar happen in the subdivision where they live on Martha’s Vineyard, which only has dirt roads going back to since the subdivision got started. People moved into the subdivision and started clamoring for paved roads, and making life difficult for the people already living there, and lines were drawn, and eventually the paved road advocates gave up and moved somewhere else.
I thought of you, and told the woman that the angels had arranged for me to be at Coco’s today to hear that story, so I could pass it along to a warlock living on No Name Key, who is beating up on Alicia. I also told the woman that Alica messed up by being on the county planning commission and not recusing herself each time No Name Key stuff came before that body.
I did not receive a reply from Alicia, nor from the other NNK resident, two whom I sent my last post you inspired, which included your email to me and my replies between your paragraphs. If you didn’t see all of that post, I added more to it after I sent it to you and you replied, here’s the link: The ballad of Howard Thurston, a No Name Key habitant no one I ask seems to have ever heard of
I wager I am hated by the same No Name Key people, who hate Alicia; however, based on the number of people I run into, who live on No Name Key, who love Alicia, Howard once again has invented facts that simply do not exist. For all I know, after that last post I put up, to which Alicia did not respond, I am hated by everyone who lives on No Name Key. The line of work I am in is not and never has been a popularity contest.
Also on No Name Key, this article in The Key West Citizen today, my thoughts in italics.
Second power lawsuit sent to PSC
Judge: Public Service Commission should decide on electricity for No Name Key
BY TIMOTHY O’HARA Citizen Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
A Monroe County judge has dismissed a second lawsuit about bringing commercial power to No Name Key, ruling again that the case should be heard by the state Public Service Commission (PSC), not the local courts.
Circuit Court Judge David Audlin, who ruled Thursday, is open to ruling later on some issues in the case if the PSC does not rule on them.
“The court finds that the issues in this case are sufficiently related to the regulation and planning of electrical generation and transmission lines, that the issues should first be addressed and determined by the PSC,” Audlin said. “It would serve no purpose to speculate as to what matters the PSC will address and what matters, if any, will be left for this court’s determination.”
Monroe County filed a lawsuit last year against Keys Energy Services, charging the public utility with trespassing because it ran power lines over county-owned conservation lands on No Name Key.
Let’s see. The County warned Keys Energy Services not to run its lines over County land. Keys Energy ignored the County’s warnings and ran its lines over County land. That looks like criminal trespass to me. Looks to me like the County could have told the Sheriff to arrest Keys Keys Energy employees who ran the lines, and Keys Energy officials who gave the order to run the lines. Arrest and put them in jail, and put it on the State Attorney to prosecute them for criminal trespass, which would not have cost the County a penny.
And, if the Sheriff had balked, the County Commission could have told the Sheriff, well, it was balking at funding the Sheriff’s budget. Wouldn’t that have been a lovely kettle of fish, if the County had gone at it that way, instead of giving Judge Audlin, long known to favor No Name Key being on the grid, another bite at that same apple.
The lawsuit is part of an ongoing legal battle involving residents of No Name Key, Keys Energy Services and the county. Last year, Audlin ruled in a separate lawsuit between the county and Keys Energy Services that the PSC should hear the issue, not the local circuit court.
Keys Energy Services has agreed to bring commercial power to No Name Key and erected power lines and other needed infrastructure there last summer.
The county’s comprehensive land use plan “discourages” utilities on No Name and its land development regulations “prohibit” utilities there.
The county has fought bringing power to the island and refused to grant building permits to several homeowners to connect their homes to the power lines. Several home-owners have filed yet another, separate lawsuit requesting the building permits.
Several? One would think it would be all but two or three, if Howard Thurston is to be believed.
The County Commission will hold a public meeting Tuesday in Marathon to discuss the lawsuits and whether to start the process of changing its land development regulations to allow utilities on No Name Key or other areas in the Keys where commercial power is prohibited.
PSC spokeswoman Cindy Muir said Wednesday that “further discussion with the parties on the best way to proceed will resume after the special County Commission meeting,” scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Marathon Government Center.
For the benefit of the pro-grid folks on No Name Key, who keep beating the Keys Energy Services “Growing greener every day” drum, a Keynother article today showing just how truly green electricity generated on the mainland and sent down to the Florida Keys really ain’t.
FPL pitches new reactors to Upper Keys
By KEVIN WADLOW
Posted – Wednesday, February 20, 2013 10:15 AM EST
Plans for new nuclear reactors at Florida Power and Light’s Turkey Point plant will be laid out for local water managers Feb. 27 in Tavernier.
FPL’s senior director for Miami project development will speak with Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority board members at the FKAA’s regular meeting, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative complex at mile marker 91.6.
FPL proposes to cool two additional nuclear reactors at Turkey Point with treated wastewater from Miami-Dade County.
In case the 90 million gallons of cooling water needed daily is not available from Miami-Dade’s wastewater system, FPL seeks to draw a similar amount from a saltwater lens beneath Biscayne Bay for up to 60 days a year.
Environmentalists, national park managers and the FKAA have raised questions about whether drawing saltwater from below Biscayne Bay could harm the Biscayne Aquifer, the source of most fresh water for South Florida, including the Keys.
FPL managers say the backup “collector wells are specifically designed, and confirmed by extensive modeling, to have no adverse environmental impact.”
“The real issue for us is whether this could affect saltwater intrusion into the Biscayne Aquifer rather than causing a drawdown of the aquifer itself,” said FKAA Executive Director Kirk Zuelch.
In a similar vein, Miami-Dade water managers are questioning an Everglades restoration project that might “divert too much water from a well field that supplies Miami-Dade County with much of its drinking water,” the Miami Herald reported Sunday.
The Everglades plan seeks to divert fresh water from flood-control canals into the historic River of Grass flow. However, a proposed underground “seepage barrier” along Tamiami Trail could lower flow into Miami-Dade’s well field, computer models show.
“We have very serious concerns at this point,” a Miami-Dade resources manager told the Herald.
Zuelch said he will ask the FKAA’s engineering staff to examine the project’s effect on the Keys well field at Florida City. Miami-Dade’s main well field is several miles northeast of Florida City, he noted.
On the blackboard jungle front yesterday, this from Nashville J, responding to an article in The Key West Citizen provided in yesterday’s post:
Also on the blackboard jungle sitcom, this forward yesterday from Larry Murray:
“The more things change….” Thought you would enjoy the following.
From: Lawrence Murray <email@example.com> To: Andy Griffiths2 <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Mark Porter <email@example.com> Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 12:29 PM Subject: Improved Agenda
Pursuant to my concerns raised about the last School Board agenda, I see that there are improvements in the agenda for your upcoming meeting. At least, there is a distinction between when the workshop ends and the meeting begins, though the problem of having combined workshops and meetings continues unabated. I do find it interesting that the workshop begins “Time Approximate 3:00 PM” whereas the regular meeting is time specific, 5:00 PM. Does that mean that the workshop must end promptly no later than 4:59 PM? Had I arranged the schedule, the workshop would have been time specific and the meeting would have been time approximate, but what do I know?
I note that 60 minutes is dedicated during the workshop to HOB construction, but that there are no documents, e.g. Change Orders, associated with the discussion. Does that mean that there will be a generic bull session?
I also note that again there is no report from the Audit and Finance Committee. I think that that omission tells you a lot about your priorities and your level of interest in the Audit and Finance Committee.
Finally, I note the impending demise of the Waste, Fraud and Abuse Hotline. A sad day. I guess the message here is that when the District cannot do something right, it does not try again. It simply quits trying.
Hell’s bells, Larry, you and I both know the District never intended to the the Fraud Hotline right, and you and I both know the District never intended to do the Audit & Finance Committee right, either. And that ain’t all they didn’t ever intend to do right.
Larry was one of the orginal volunteer appointees on the Audit & Finance Committee.
Keynoter journalist Sean Kinney sent this to Larry, me, and other people yesterday. This is only the initial summary of a longer, more detailed document.
STATE OF FLORIDA
G74 Claude Pepper Building
DAVID W. MARTIN, CPA
111 West Madison Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1450
February 20, 2013
Mr. Mark T. Porter,
Monroe County District School Board
241 Trumbo Road
Key West, FL 33040
Dear Superintendent: Enclosed is a list of preliminary and tentative audit findings and recommendations which may be included in a report to be prepared on our financial, Federal, and operational audit of the: Monroe County District School Board For the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2012 Pursuant to Section 11.45(4)(d), Florida Statutes, you are required to submit to me within thirty (30) days after receipt of this list a written statement of explanation concerning all of the findings, including therein your actual or proposed corrective actions. If within the 30-day period you have questions or desire further discussion on any of the proposed findings and recommendations, please contact this Office.
Your written statement of explanation should be submitted electronically in source format (e.g., Word or WordPerfect) and include your digitized signature. For quality reproduction purposes, if you are not submitting your response in source format, please convert your response to PDF and not scan to PDF. If technical issues make an electronic response not possible, then a hard copy (paper) response will continue to be acceptable.
Please e-mail this Office at firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate receipt of the preliminary and tentative audit findings. Absent such receipt, delivery of the enclosed list of findings is presumed, by law, to be made when it is delivered to your office.
David W. Martin
cc: School Board Members
MONROE COUNTY DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD PRELIMINARY AND TENTATIVE AUDIT FINDINGS
Finding No. 1: Financial reporting procedures could be improved to ensure that transactions and note disclosures are properly reported.
Finding No. 2: The District’s General Fund financial condition may be further reduced by payments of questioned costs and additional Board premium contributions for the District’s health and workers’ compensation self-insurance programs, resulting in significantly less resources for emergencies and unforeseen situations.
Finding No. 3: District procedures did not always ensure that minutes for meetings were appropriately maintained and timely approved, contrary to the Sunshine Law.
Finding No. 4: The District’s required annual debt payment of $2,117,647, due on December 1, 2011, was made on August 24, 2012, or 267 days late.
Finding No. 5: The District reported $4,963,000 of unrestricted resources as restricted fund balance in a capital projects fund; however, the amounts had no externally imposed constraints on use and District records did not evidence the specific intended use of the funds.
Finding No. 6: The District’s Workers’ Compensation/General Liability Internal Service Fund unrestricted net asset balance declined $920,054 to a deficit balance of $1,901,332 at June 30, 2012.
Finding No. 7: The District needed to strengthen its controls to ensure the accurate reporting of instructional contact hours for adult general education classes to the Florida Department of Education.
Finding No. 8: A formal action plan needs to be established to adequately fund the property self-insurance program for wind damage.
Finding No. 9: Payroll processing procedures could be enhanced to ensure that employee work time is appropriately documented and approved, accurately recorded, and not in conflict with other employment.
Finding No. 10: The financial audit of a Board-approved direct-support organization (DSO) was not performed in accordance with
Government Auditing Standards, contrary to Rules of the Auditor General. Although District personnel did not consider the organization to be a DSO, the Board had not rescinded its approval of the organization as a DSO, and the District provided the organization personal services, use of District facilities, and property at no cost, which is permissible only if the organization is a DSO.
Finding No. 11: The District needed to enhance controls over after school day care and adult education program fees.
Finding No. 12: Vehicle logs were not always complete, accurate, and reviewed and approved of record by supervisory personnel.
Finding No. 13: Controls over the review and approval of construction contract change orders could be improved.
FEDERAL AWARDS FINDINGS
Federal Awards Finding No. 1:
The District used School Improvement grant funds for expenditures incurred outside the period of availability, resulting in $36,793.40 of questioned costs.
Federal Awards Finding No. 2:
The District did not properly allocate Title I schoolwide program resources to schools in rank order, on the basis of the total number of children from low income families in each school, resulting in $18,475.34 of questioned costs.
Federal Awards Finding No. 3:
Required documentation to support personnel charges were not always maintained, resulting in $14,382.37 of questioned costs to the Race-to-the-Top Program. MONROE COUNTY DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD PRELIMINARY AND TENTATIVE AUDIT FINDINGS
Federal Awards Finding No. 4:
Control deficiencies were noted over payroll time records and employee work schedules for some District employees paid from Twenty-First Century Program funds, resulting in $1,296 of questioned costs.
Federal Awards Finding No. 5:
The District’s Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards excluded the Disaster Grants – Public Assistance (Presidentially Declared Disasters) Program, a major Federal program, with expenditures of $359,056.
I asked Larry to weigh in on that, and he sent this:
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2013 18:42:27 -0800 From: email@example.com Subject: Auditor General’s Report To: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have had an opportunity of the first reading of the Auditor General’s Report which I just received today. At first glance, several things stand out:
1. The most glaring issue is the continuation of problems over the years. The Auditor General highlights thirteen “findings” or problem areas. Five of them have been reported now three years running, including the “Significant Deficiency” of insufficient “Financial Reporting”. A sixth, while not reported last year, was reported two years ago. As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s deja vu all over again.” Or, as I might say, “SS/DD”.
I am especially disappointed in the number of repeat findings when you consider that the Board, after last year’s Auditor General’s Report, instructed the Director of Finance and Performance, Ken Gentile, to correct all of the previously cited problems before June 30, 2012.
Obviously, this was not done. I fault the Board for its failure to hold the Director of Finance and Performance accountable for what they instructed him to do. But, then again, neither the Board nor the superintendent ever hold anyone accountable. The Board’s behavior is reminiscent of how it handled the Waste, Fraud and Abuse Hotline. After initial interest, they failed to follow up and allowed it to languish much as they did with the corrective actions to last year’s AG Report.
2. I found Finding No. 3: Board Minutes especially interesting and amusing. The staff member responsible for maintaining the minutes is handsomely paid over $50,000 a year and only had two responsibilities: assist at the Board meetings and then do the minutes. Apparently, timely presentation of the minutes was more than could be handled. Of course, the Board did not care any more about this issue than they did about their instructions to the Director of Finance and Performance to correct last year’s problems.
3. Perhaps most alarming are the AG’s comments about the “fund balance” or “Reserve Fund”. Those comments appear in Finding No. 2: Financial Condition and Finding No. 6: Net Asset Deficit-Worker’s Compensation/General Liability Internal Service Fund.
The District began the year with a deficit balance of $981,278 that increased to $1,901,332, or nearly $1 million! That unfunded liability has a decided impact in the “Reserve Fund”. The District contends that it has a fund balance of $4,145,064 as of June 30, 2012 or 5.5 percent of General Fund revenues.
If you factor in the unfunded liabilities, “the District’s General Fund… may be further reduced to below 3 percent….” (emphasis added) It looks to me like the District is again playing games when it comes to the size and health of the “Reserve Fund”, at least that’s what the AG believes. This gamesmanship has been going on for as long as I can remember. The Monroe County School District “Reserve Fund” is very much a moving target.
The AG’s Recommendation clearly directs that the Board and Superintendent “take the necessary actions to ensure that an adequate fund balance continues to be maintained in the General Fund.” The AG notes that “A similar finding was noted in our report No. 2012-170.”
An aside on the subject of workmen’s compensation. I was doubly surprised to see that there was an increase and a marked increase at that of the costs. When the custodial function was contracted out, one of the observations made was that workmen’s compensation expenses would go down because the custodial staff was responsible for the lion’s share of claims. That decline did not occur. I would be interested to learn just why workmen’s compensation claims have jumped so dramatically, especially since the custodians are no longer District employees.
4. The only “Significant Deficiency” is Finding No.1: Financial Reporting. If you cut to the chase, the AG is chastising the District for its inability to properly report its finances. In that regard, I am reminded of an exchange earlier in the week with “Poor” Superintendent Mark Porter about some financial documents he provided to me in a Public Records Request. I told him that one record in particular was virtually incomprehensible. His response was as if to say “Sorry about that, but that’s how we keep our records.”
That the AG would be disturbed and insist that the “District should improve its financial reporting procedures…” comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever looked at the District’s financial reports. It seems that a highly paid CFO could not correct the problem and an equally highly paid Director of Finance and Performance has not done any better. Perhaps we should call back the more humbly paid Kathy Reitzel to run the District’s financial operations as these problems did not exist under her stewardship.
5. As you know, the plug is being pulled on the Hotline at Tuesday’s Board meeting. The explanation given is that the Hotline has lost all credibility because of mismanagement. Interestingly, the basics of one finding, Finding No. 9: Payroll Processing-Time Records, was reported to the Hotline. So, it was not a complete failure had anyone paid attention.
6. On a personal note, I was particularly gratified to read Finding No. 13: Construction Contract-Change Orders. The subject of Change Orders at Horace O’Bryant School is, to put it mildly, a hot issue and, hopefully, will be discussed at Tuesday’s Board meeting as part of the 60 minutes devoted to the HOB construction project.
It was very nice of the AG to cite Florida Statute and Board Policy with regard to Change Orders so that “Poor” Superintendent Mark Porter will now know how to properly process Change Orders, something he apparently did not know before. It’s gratifying to read the auditors helping the lawyers when it comes to the law.
I am sure that I will have additional comments after I have had an opportunity to seriously dig into the AG Report.
I told Larry on the phone last night, that they continue to intentionally overstate the reserve fund balance.
No doubt, there will be a plethora of opportunities; the School District is genetically engineered to screw up at every opportunity.
Meanwhile, in another section of the genetics lab …
from a Jupiter Beach amiga, who has taken quite a few cruises, calling on Key West several times. She had written to me the other day about taking a short trip to Key Largo, with her daughter, and wanting to see what is beneath the ocean, since she has seen what’s on top of it. I wrote back that she should take in John Pennekamp state park and a snorkel/dive boat.
Sloan, do u get back to Key West several times a week, as you are still very close to the incredible range of problems down there.
In regard to our discussion on the stupidity of Key West digging a deep water channel for bigger ships, there was an article in the difficulty of getting 3200 passengers and 1000 crew off a ship safely if it isn’t sinking. Title: Too big to bail. I avoid the bigger ships. Like the size where passengers number about 2200. They are also widening the Panama Canal which could prove to be a problem as the Canal Is very dependent on rainfall to the North during the rainy season. I went through the Panama Canal on a cruise. One of the ships passing us in the other direction ended up on the English coast–went aground and people were grabbing everything including tractors– and the ship owners didn’t realize that the people would grab everything in a day. They arrived a day later and ship picked clean!
I also avoid the air buses. I think planes and ships can get to big in terms of efficiency and organization. Once I returned to Miami when two other ships arrived at 8 am also so they were trying to process 10,000 people through Customs at the same time. It too hours. I always have a roll on small luggage, so was able to get off my ship quickly and exited early.
As ever, Ginger
I wrote back:
I get down to KW maybe every 10 days, I keep up by reading the local newspapers and through what other people tell or send to me, and sometimes by attending City Commission meetings.
Look at what I wrote about crusise ships today, it’s gonna take a whole hell of a lot more than a wing and a prayer and a bottle of rum to fix what all ails Key West at www.goodmorningkeywest.com. Includes comprehensive article on same issue in Charleston.
Personally, I don’t see me getting on a cruise ship.
You might like hanging out around John Pennekamp a lot better, there are some pretty good restaurants on Key Largo, my favorite is The Fish House. If you like honky tonk biker dives, there is Alabama Jack’s at the tall bridge over Card Sound, take that in on Sunday afternoon if possible, which is when it is most juking.
There is a lot more to do and see below Seven Mile Bridge. But if you are only going to be in the Keys 2-3 days, that won’t work well.