Father Steve Braddock, CEO of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition headquartered in Key West, told me in a nap dream yesterday, “The reason we lost was because you were not there.” I awoke, asking, “When was I not there?”
I wondered if Steve meant I had not filed to run for mayor of Key West this year? How could I, when I do not live in Key West, nor do I presently have the means to live there? I gave the angels credit for my not being there for that.
So, I started writing about recent stuff when I was there for the homeless, and nobody but me seemed to be there. Then, I grew tired and stopped writing.
Then, it came to me that maybe Steve was talking about when, in early January 2004, I announced a write-in candidacy for the county commission and got a terrific write-up in the Keynoter.
I was homeless, living in a tent in the wetlands, across from Smathers Beach in Key West. Later, homeless people were forced out of the wetlands by city police, and we put our tents beside the Bridle Path, which is a dirt trail running on the wetlands side of the road across from Smathers Beach.
During that time, the angels put me through a crash course in feminine writing, which I flunked. The internal effect of flunking was horrific. I went pretty much cuckoo. Aggravating the cuckoo, I was having recurring MRSA infections, which in their own way were as terrifying at the cuckoo. I decided I had dreamed up running for the county commission, and I announced that and I was not running after all.
Then, I watched “The Last Samurai” at Atlantic Shores outdoor theater one evening. It was the second time I had seen it. I loved it again, pedaled my bicycle back toward my tent feeling wonderful. That night in my sleep, the samurai chief in the movie came in a dream, said, “You where the keynote speaker at a homeless conference and you didn’t even show up.” I awoke, terrified.
It took the angels two years to put me back together.
After running for Mayor of Key West in 2003, when I was homeless, living in a FKOK shelter, I was the recognized local spokesperson in the homeless ranks. I had the ear of Key West Police Chief Buz Dillon, Key West City Manager Julio Avael, Assistant City Manager John Jones, Mayor Jimmy Weekley and the City Commission. I was gaining the ear of the Monroe County Commission. I was the keynote speaker for the homeless, and I didn’t even show up in 2004, which was when KOTS was built.
In late 2003, I challenged the County Commission in the Harvey Government Center in Key West. I asked them why they were bailing Key West out of its homeless problems by participating in the city putting a homeless shelter on county land on Stock Island?
I opposed that shelter for very good concrete reasons. I told the city officials it would become a den of booze and other drugs, sex, disease, stealing, fighting. I told them it was not big enough to sleep all of Key West’s homeless. I told them it would be a waste of the taxpayers’ money. I read in the Key West Citizen where Steve Braddock said Florida Keys Outreach Coalition did not necessarily agree with me about the new shelter, but FKOC itself was not interested in operating the shelter for the city.
The city opened the shelter. KOTS, Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter. It immediately became what I had told the city it would be. The city persuaded Steve Braddock to have FKOC take over KOTS. FKOC straightened KOTS out. The city paid FKOC $400,000 a year to run KOTS. About two years ago, FKOC gave KOTS back to Key West. Now the tab for KOTS is $440,000 a year. And for what? Did KOTS fix Key West’s homeless problem? No.
Now the city is talking about building a full-service shelter twice or more as big as KOTS on city land on College Road not that far from KOTS, adjacent to the golf course. A super homeless shelter on the Robert Marbut model.
The same Robert Marbut who got seriously debunked in my posts, and in a recent Key West Citizen editorial, and who is obliterated in this week’s issue of Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com.
Graduates from the Marbut super shelter on Stock Island will not be able to pay Key West market rate rents. They will have to be housed in subsidized FKOC and Samuel’s House housing, which have limited capacity. Or, graduates will have to be housed in Key West Housing Authority subsidized housing, which has a long waiting list. Or, graduates will have to be sent to the mainland via Greyhound, where they will enter subsidized housing and other programs. All the while, mainland cities are giving homeless people Greyhound tickets elsewhere, including Key West.
If I had stayed in the 2004 county commission race, KOTS may not have been built and Key West might not be moving toward building a super homeless shelter on Stock Island, for which the city’s mainstream residents will pay.
Let’s start over.
Yesterday afternoon, I bumped into Carie Noda in Key West. She ran for mayor in 2007, and perhaps in later years. She is on the left in a past-year candidate forum photo below. Mayor Craig Cates is in the middle, Margaret Romero, Cates’ sole opponent this year, is on the right.
Romeo bebunked Marbut at a recent city commission meeting, during which I told Mayor Cates and the City Commission that they were using city police to torture homeless people by not letting them sleep at night. I was the only speaker for the homeless people that night. Cates seems to view Marbut as able to do no wrong, and he seems to view me as a lunatic who is embarrassing the entire community.
Carrie Yoda told me yesterday that, out for a walk the morning after Hurricane Wilma came though Key West in the fall of 2005, her father slipped on wet concrete, landed on his head, was airlifted to Miami and passed away in a hospital. Carie said she ran for mayor in 2007 because she was unable to get Mayor Morgan McPherson to acknowledge her father’s death and the plight of Key West seniors. Carie said she also lobbied Mayor Craig Cates for the same cause, and he would not do anything, so she started staying at KOTS, even though she had the means to live in her own place. She said she has stayed at KOTS for 14 months, protesting. I said our meeting was arranged, and I would publish that today; she said okay.
I wondered while Carie and I talked, and afterward, what her father slipping and falling and dying had to do with Morgan McPherson or Craig Cates? I am sorry for the loss of her father, but I do not see how that is something Key West should turn into another cause.
On KOTS, a few days ago, the disabled younger spiritually-gifted woman, whom I have financially supported since mid-2005, reminded me of when I left her in Key West two summers ago, with a good bicycle and two rear saddle baskets, and her travel bag strapped over the saddle baskets, with the understanding she would sleep nights in KOTS. She had been in Key West before, had stayed at both Samuel’s House and Florida Keys Outreach Coalition. Then, she had returned to the mainland.
She said, the day I left her in Key West with her bicycle, she went out to the beach and a Cuban fellow approached her and asked her if she wanted to go have a drink with him? She said she did not drink. Well, how about just going somewhere and talking? Okay. They went to a bar, he tried to sell her street drugs. She said she didn’t do street drugs, got on her bicycle and pedaled away.
That night at KOTS, my friend’s female roommate in the women’s trailer stole what little money my friend had out of her purse while she was asleep. Thereafter, she kept any money she had in her pants pockets when she slept. She said homeless people routinely brought booze into KOTS in soft drink bottles, and sat around drinking. Only if they acted out were they disciplined by the monitors. She said when she was outside of the women’s trailer, inside of KOTS, she always stood with her back against the fence, so nobody could get behind her.
When she could take no more of that, she got on a Greyhound bus and went back to the mainland. The financial cost of my taking care of her there increased considerably. She was safe there, she was inside. But she was still disabled. Absent an act of God, she will be disabled for the rest of her life. She cannot hold a job any more. She cannot get along with people in close quarters any more. She dreams about me a lot, and often her dreams are guidance for me about something I am dealing with down here in the Keys, or elsewhere.
When she called me yesterday morning to share a dream about me before she woke up, she said the right side of her head and body were all fouled up and hurting. This kind of thing happens to her a lot. Most of the time it is about something I am doing, which she is picking up empathically. So, when she tells me she is hurting physically, I tell her what I’m doing, which is really rough, and if I name it, she gets physical relief in just a few moments.
Yesterday morning, I told her about my recent collision with several men at a restaurant in Key West, about which I wrote in the Higgs Beach homeless summit – Key West post at goodmorningkeywest.com. I said the night before she called me, one of the men, Todd German, had gotten onto me for being out of line with another of the men, Jim Hendrick.
Todd said, I had really hurt Jim’s feelings. Especially wrong, I had used a photo of Jim in shackles immediately after he was convicted of witness tampering in Federal Court in Key West. What was wrong about publishing the truth about a convicted felon, subsequently disbarred lawyer, who, being cute, had made Nazi jokes about homeless people he believes he is better than?
On hearing all of that, my younger woman friend said the Spirit was all over her and all the pain and weirdness in her right side was gone. She knew the right side was the male side. She knew before she called me that her pain and weirdness was about something to do with a man or men, and very probably it was because of something I was doing. I said the pain and weirdness leaving her was my spirit clue that I had handled all of that with Todd and Jim Hendrick okay. I thanked my friend for helping me get that settled inside of me.
While Todd was getting onto me the other night, I said Key West would be better off if Jim Hendrick, Mayor Craig Cates and Ed Swift, three very close mover shaker friends of Todd’s, moved to Alaska. Even so, I said, they have just as much right to live in Key West as Todd and I have to live there, as any homeless person has to live there. Todd said he agreed, that was a constitutional right. Todd also says, homeless immigrants in Key West are not part of Key West’s One Human Family, because they do not contribute to that One Human Family. In God Todd trusts, all others must pay.
When Todd agreed that homeless people have a constitutional right to live in Key West, he said, nevertheless, something needs to be done about them. I asked if he had read my All that glitters is not gold in homeless help heaven – Key West, St. Petersburg, San Antonio post that morning? Todd said he had not read it. That post lays bare that Marbut’s shelters are creating rough local problems, and Marbut and others are creating a homeless welfare state, for all of which mainstream is paying.
Todd said, Craig Cates and the city commissioners don’t listen to me, because they want to be able to say they at least tried to fix Key West’s homeless problem. I said, they won’t be able to do that, because they were warned, by me. Todd said, they won’t look at it that way; they will pretend they were not warned. I said, yes, they will do that, and I will remind them they were warned and they ignored the warning, and how the new shelter turned out is on them alone.
Moving sideways, in a recent email, Steve Braddock told me that he, FKOC and Monroe County CoC (which replaced SHAL – Southern Assistance Homeless League), for which he is Board Chairman, had not taken a position yet on the new homeless shelter Mayor Cates wants to build on Stock Island, more information was needed.
I wrote back and asked Steve what was his and FKOC’s and Monroe County CoC’s position on Key West: (1) using its police to prevent homeless people from sleeping outside at night, when KOTS was full and they had no place else to sleep?; and (2) Key West enforcing its open container ordinance only against homeless people?; and (3) Key West’s anti-panhandling law? I received no reply yet. I hope there is a good reason, and not a political reason, Steve did not yet answer my three questions.
Moving further sideways, as August 30 and the closing on my place here on Little Torch approach, I yet see no place to lay down my head in Key West. Maybe something will show up, as if by magic. If not, I can see myself joining Carie Noda at KOTS, and having Key West and Mayor Cates and Todd German and their mainstream friends pay for my night lodging and bathing. During the day and early evening, I hang out in public libraries, on public beaches, at Harpoon Harry’s, Jack Flats sports bar, and Sippin’ Internet Cafe, which Michael Kinneer recently bought from my friends Onett and Penny Johnson.
I see me banging away on my laptop, causing trouble and toil and more trouble. Imagine the juicy morsels I will have to report about KOTS.
I also see me banging away, if I find a place to lay down my head somewhere other than KOTS.
It won’t surprise me for all that I wrote and published before I move back to Key West to look like baby food compared to what I write and publish after I am living in Key West again.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but there are far worse things than being homeless. Far worse things.