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I wrote in yesterday’s post at goodmorningkeywest.com, that our present State Attorney Cathy Vogel once had lost her job with the Miami area State Attorney over what I reported in yesterday’s post, and then she was hired by our then State Attorney Mark Kohl. Our previous State Attorney Dennis Ward, who had succeeded Kohl, sent me an email saying:
“Sloan, she didn’t lose her job over this. She was only reprimanded. Kohl then offered her a job, brokered by a Criminal Defense Attorney acquaintance of Kohl.”
I drove down to Key West yesterday to have lunch with some men at Salute on Higgs Beach.
Higgs Beach, made out of artificial sand, as are all of Key West’s beaches, the water thrives with mutated antibiotic-resistant flesh-eating bacteria, which easily enter open cuts, scrapes, scratches and soon put their host at death’s door if medical treatment is not sought immediately, and even then the odds of surviving without ongoing reliance on antibiotics is iffy
Reaching Key West, I turned left and wended my way over to Smathers Beach and then down to Higgs Beach.
As I passed the kiosks on the beach side of Higgs, I saw nobody was using them. Now, they are fenced off and only adults with children can go in there.
It used to be that homeless people, including me, sat at those kiosks and passed the day.
That’s where we were fed every Sunday morning by Pastor Omar, who got up at 4 a.m. to prepare eggs, sausage and bread for the homeless, which he brought to Higgs in his car. After we ate, he preached.
Omar told us he had been homeless and Jesus had saved him from it, and if we accepted Jesus as Lord, we would be saved from being homeless. Everyone in his audience already had accepted Jesus as Lord, probably several times, except for one Jewish man, and we all were homeless.
It also used to be, the homeless shared those kiosks with local families, usually Hispanic and black families, who liked to come out there and cook on the grills which were there, while their children played on the beach and swam. No more.
I parked next to the public bathrooms, it was just getting over raining and I had the parking lot pretty much to myself. I saw the big pavilion in front of Salute, where I had slept some nights, was covered with homeless men. I wondered to myself what the city would come up with to get the county to do, the county owns Higgs Beach, to fence off that pavilion so homeless people and nobody else can use it unless they get a special use permit from the county.
Over lunch, Jim Hendrick pointed out that one of us at the table had actually been homeless on that beach and knew something about homelessness. I assumed Jim meant me, but he meant Victor, the fellow sitting right across from me, who, Jim said, had put his money where his mouth was and had opened and ran Serenity, a homeless and/or addict recovery private housing enclave on Emma Street in Bahama Village.
Victor said he had slept on Higgs Beach. I said, so had I. On that pavilion where those homeless people are. And on the other big pavilion just to the west, which was empty. And over next to the wall in front of the Martello. And out on that pier, White Street Pier. And behind nearby Unity Church, before the hurricane blew it down. And in doorways off of Duval Street. Victor looked at me like he saw someone he had not seen before.
We pondered the homeless people on the big pavilion across from us, how long that would last for them? We talked about the kiosks on the other side of the bathrooms, which nobody could use anymore who was not their with children.
said the reason so many homeless people come to Key West is because other cities don’t deal with their homeless problems.
I said that isn’t why. So many homeless people come to Key West because the weather is warm in the winter, and the beaches and ocean.
I said, we can thank the Tourist Development Council for that, advertising for mainland people to come to Paradise, come as they are. So, homeless people come as they are, to paradise. No chuckles.
Victor said mental illness and chemical addiction go hand in hand with most homeless people. I said that’s true. He said of 100 of them who come though Serenity, 1, or 2, or 3 will get all the way through, get back into independent living, the rest fall back into their old habits.
Victor said Florida Keys Outreach Coalition does a good job placing its graduates in mainstream job, which pay enough for them to pay market rate rent in Key West, buy groceries, etc. I asked Victor if he knew what the relapse rate was for FKOC graduates? No.
Conversation turned to the new shelter Mayor Cates wants to build on Stock Island. I said it will only sleep maybe 260 homeless, what are they going to do with the other 1,000-plus Robert Marbut says are in Key West? Put them in jail for sleeping outside?
Jim mentioned the federal case which stopped Miami from using its police to stop homeless people from sleeping outside. I said the same federal court has jurisdiction over Key West, and Key West will end up in that court if it goes the way Miami went.
Todd asked if city police can take homeless people to the new shelter, instead of to jail? That’s what happens in other places Marbut has instituted homeless shelters using his model. I said yes, but there won’t be enough beds for 1,400 homeless, where do the police take the other 1,000-plus?
Todd said something has to be tried. Victor and Jim agreed. I thought, no, nothing has to be tried, but I said, they will try it, and in a few years they will see how it is working and how much it costs. I said, there is nothing altruistic about the city’s motive; Mayor Cates and the city want homeless people out of Key West, that’s all they are going for. I got no disagreement.
Jim said, homeless could be put in a stockade, like a work camp; that’s what they do in Miami. Jim knew they cannot be made to stay in a stockade unless it’s a crime to be homeless and they are charged with that crime, which Jim knows would be unconstitutional.
Jim was put in a stockade once, after he was convicted in federal court in Key West.
Todd, who sits on the Key West Citizen Editorial Board, said just the day before, the Citizen’s Editor, Tom Tuell,
had attended his last editorial board meeting, and now is moving back to where he came from. Todd said, Tuell told the Editorial Board that the Citizen and Key West should publicize there is a serial killer in Key West who only hunts down and kills homeless people. Use that tactic to persuade homeless people not to come to Key West.
Some chuckles, not from me. A few years ago, Tuell ran over a homeless man riding his bicycle on Big Coppit Key, not unlike Mayor Cates’ daughter later ran over a homeless man riding his bicyle in Key West. Both homeless men died. Cates and Tuell both want Key West rid of homeless people.
I said, Robert Marbut, somewhat joking, told the City Commission last Tuesday night that Hawaii is giving homeless people one-way airplane tickets to the mainland, figuring that will stop them from coming back to Hawaii, while other states are giving their homeless people one-way airplane tickets to Hawaii, figuring they have no way to leave there.
Victor said, in Switzerland, if someone has a tragedy and is down and out, family and friends take in and look out for and help that person get back on his/her feet. But bums are not helped and are allowed to starve to death. I thought, did not say, Jesus might have the last word on that with the Swiss Christians.
“I was hungry and you fed me?”
Jim asked if we had heard of the “Swift solution to the Irish?” I said, Jonathan Swift? Jim said, yes. Jim said, Swift promoted that Irish children were tender and succulent.
I said, eat the homeless. Use exaggerated dark humor to make the homeless haters look bad. Jim nodded.
Someone suggested serving homeless people in Key West restaurants, as food. I said, yes, road kill homeless people could replace road kill tourists on local restaurant menus.
I probably should have been flogged.
Todd said his daughter, a doctor, would say not to eat homeless people’s brains, because that is where the encephalitis organism takes up residence and it is contagious.
I suggested opening a cannery in Key West and shipping “H-rations” to the mainland and overseas. It would go over really well in Europe, especially in Switzerland.
I probably should have been flogged.
When Jerry Wickey said sometimes war is justified, I asked, give me one example? Jerry doesn’t like to answer questions. He likes to ask them and lure you into his mind games.
Jerry paused, said, the war to stop Hitler. I said, yes, that’s an example, but Hitler started that war. Other countries then tried to stop it.
Someone said, Hitler wasted the Jews he slaughtered. He could have extracted their organs, sold them. That’s what could be done with Key West’s homeless people, extract their organs, sell them.
I think that’s when Todd said, but not their brains, because of encephalitis.
I told them that I would write about all of that for today’s post, and from Salute I was headed to Regal Cinema to see “Elysium”, which is about rich people building a posh satellite city orbiting Earth and leaving all the poor people and bad people on Earth – Elysium was the homeless shelter.
I said maybe the rich people in Key West, who don’t want to be around homeless people, will build their own Elysium.
Last night, I thought maybe on Wisteria Island, just across the cut from Sunset Key, an earlier Key West version of Elysium.
Jim Hendrick, a disbarred lawyer, is a consultant for the owners of both islands in their attempt to develop Wisteria.
Interesting karma, homeless people used to live on Wisteria Island, also called Christmas Tree Island. It is said the owners, the Bernstein family, hired someone to fly an airplane over it and drop defoliant, and not long afterward most of the then thick Australian pine forest on the 20 acre island died.
I won’t spoil the plot of “Elysium”, other than to say all that glitters does not necessarily turn out to be gold.
Todd called last night to say he was glad to see Jim and I are starting to relate again, after several years time apart, which I initiated for reasons I published. I said I did not think Jim was entirely joking about the Swift solution for the Irish, but I had given him a pass over lunch.
I did not say Jim saying one person at the table knew something about homelessness because he had been homeless, and he later had put his money where his mouth was, felt like a jab at me. Jim knew two people at that table had been homeless and knew something about homelessness.
Jim knew how many years I fought Key West about using its police to prevent homeless people from sleeping at night, which the Miami case ruled was cruel and unusual punishment – torture. As Key West and its residents do the least of their residents, they do also to Jesus, who had no place to lay down his head.
Jim, who says he is Buddhist, has no clue how much money I gave to homeless people, and to people about to go homeless, before and after I was homeless. Jim’s homeless hero Victor is renting real estate to recovering homeless people and/or addicts, and is profiting from it.
It is more blessed to give, than to receive.
Far as I was concerned, everyone at that table yesterday was homeless.
Let the one who has not sinned cast the first stone.
On Robert Marbut’s first “transformational homeless shelter”, in San Antonio, Texas, one of my readers sent me this beauty pageant winner last night:
Further proof, all that glitters is not necessarily gold. Read it and see for yourself, then send it to Mayor Cates and the six city commissioners. It might mean something to them, coming from you. It won’t mean anything to them, coming from me.
As for Tom Tuell, the Key West Citizen has yet to report what happened during citizen comments at the end of Tuesday night’s city commission meeting, which I reported in the next day’s post at goodmorningkeywest.com:
“I told some of my own experiences living on the street in Key West. I said I had spoken with Marbut after his presentation and he only wanted a new shelter about twice as big as KOTS, which sleeps 130 homeless. I asked what is the city going to do with the rest of the 1,420 homeless people? Put them in jail because they sleep outside at night and can’t get into the new shelter?
“I said the city of Miami used its police to do the same thing to its homeless people. Miami ended up in federal court and now cannot wipe its nose about its homeless without getting a federal judge’s approval. I said Miami lost all say so in its homeless issues. I said if Key West keeps arresting homeless people for sleeping, it just might find itself facing the ACLU (which brought the Miami case) or me in federal court.
“I said sleep deprivation is torture. It is cruel and unusual punishment. It is a violation of civil rights. it can be prosecuted criminally or civilly under the US Civil Rights Act. I said I thought Marbut could help the city, but … My time ran out. I said I would like a little more time to finish, because other speakers had been given extra time. Mayor Cates told me I could not have more time. I said, you (the city) need to be real careful. Cates told me to stop talking. I was out of line. I said, “What happened to you, Craig?” He said, “I don’t know.” Cates told me I had to be quiet. I was out of line. I said, “I am the fellow you told got you elected without an run-off.”
“Yaniz went after me. I now was walking across in front of them, toward the exit at the elevator. Yaniz said I needed to leave. I said I was leaving. Yaniz said I needed to respect this commission. I turned and looked at him, said, ‘I do not have to respect this commission.’
“I left. Respect is earned, not of right. Once earned, respect can be lost. I have no respect for people who use their police to torture homeless people.
“I have no problem with the city trying to use Marbut’s model. That’s not torture, even if homeless people don’t like it. Not letting homeless people sleep, however, is a crime against humanity.
“During his earlier presentation, Marbut said the first thing he does when he takes in a new homeless person is he lets him sleep as much as he wants to, and he gets him to hydrate as much as possible. Marbut said insufficient sleep makes homeless people’s mental disturbances worse and causes them to act out more. Marbut said homeless people tend to be afraid to pee outside, might get them arrested, so they reduce their liquid intake, which also messes up their brain chemistry.”
I was the only person at that city commission meeting who protested Key West torturing homeless people. As far as I know, I am the only person who ever protested at city commission meetings Key West torturing its homeless people by not letting them sleep.
As far as I can tell, Jim Hendrick and Todd German are fine with that torture. As far as I can tell, they want Key West rid of every homeless person.
There, but for the grace of God, go Jim, Todd, Mayor Cates and everyone else in Key West who believes they are better than homeless people.
Mayor Cates can build a homeless stockade on Stock Island, but he cannot make homeless people stay in it day and night. Even if homeless people can no longer use the kiosks at Higgs Beach,
they have just as much right to be on Higgs Beach, as Mayor Cates, Jim Hendrick and Todd German have to be there. Equal Protection clause, 14th Amendment, United States Constitution.
Last night, I accepted an offer on my place on Little Torch Key. Closing set for August 30. If it goes through, I feel from my dreams that I will move back to Key West. Not in time, it doesn’t seem, to file to run for mayor this year.
I told the angels yesterday that Mayor Cates
should be required to be mayor for the next few years and experience the fruits of his new homeless shelter on Stock Island, the fruits of the N Roosevelt Blvd boondoggle, the fruits of his new city hall at Glenn Archer Elementary School, and the fruits of Key West not having a homeless shelter for its rich seniors. Although the waiting list is about six months, there is a good bit of senior housing for seniors in financial need.
Of prophets, Jesus said, By their fruits, you shall know them.
Today, the Key West Citizen published this email from Tim Gratz:
CC: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: Please Print: Filosa made a critical mistake!
Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2013 10:57:28 -0400
Dear Tom: IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOUR READERS KNOW THAT N ROOSEVELT BECOMES TWO WAY IN ONLY FOUR WEEKS. UNBELIEVABLE THAT FILOSA REPORTED IT AS DEC 23rd. THANKS TIM For Letter to Editor:
Re your article on the 8/6 FDOT meeting, your reporter got one of the most salient decisions wrong. FDOT Secretary Prasad had first suggested making N Roosevelt two-way on or about December 23, but after the complaint by Donna Nelson of Imagination Station that December 12 was too late (which complaint you reported), Prasad huddled with his advisers and returned to promise that FDOT would make N Roosevelt two-way shortly after Labor Day.
Most of the businesses rejoiced at this news and it should be good news for the citizenry as well. Now people working downtown need not detour on Flagler.
Prasad is to be applauded for listening and responding (as you reported he’d heard many complaints from the business owners) and the City owes a deep debt of gratitude to Mayor Cates and Rep Raschein for getting Prasad to Key West. Without their efforts, this progress might well have not occurred.
Your article got the interchange between Prasad and Bashinsky wrong. This may have been because your reporter was far from the dias where Prasad was standing. I sat within five feet of that Dias. When Bashinsky started his questions of Prasad, Prasad was indeed not listening but had turned to talk with two of his advisers. Bashinsky was correct in asking loudly (not shouting) “Are you listening?” and Mayor Cates was absolutely wrong in stating that Prasad was listening. He was not, and indeed Prasad apologized to Bashinsky. The embarrassment to the communuity did not come from Mr. Bashinsky, as Cates claimed.
Your article missed one other critical point. In response to a question, rasad admitted that before FDOT planned the project it had not conducted a study of the effect of the plans on the businesses. Prasad admitted mistakes in the planning process. Those mistakes could have been avoided had an economic impact study been performed. It is almost beyond belief that no one at FDOT thought to conduct such a study.
Bottom line, though, is thanks to Mayor Cates and Rep Raschein for setting up the meeting and thanks to Prasad for responding to Ms. Nelson and re-opening N Roosevelt to two way traffic in four weeks.
Coalition of North Roosevelt Affected Businesses
me at Salute circa 2009