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There is a different post today at goodmorningfloridakeys.com, which contains recent photos of “Miss Kitty” and other mostly personal to me goings on, which you should be able to reach by clicking on this link: cats among the pigeons and other angel shenanigans – Little Torch Key, Key West and elsewhere
Jerry Weinstock, M.D. (Psychiatry, retired), wrote of Key West generally, and of the Key West City Commission recently approving the obliteration of a trailer park in Key West, along with many old beautiful trees, in favor of yet another much-needed (sarcasm) upscale condo development:
Sloan: Key West flames red hot in controversy
and hypocrisy, deception, dis-respect
for the environment. We had to be very
cautious about tree trimming follow strict
guidelines our (small trees) but it is OK to
demolish 40 majestic native trees that really
symbolize the natural aesthetic of our city.
even fracture our soul — figure that one out??!!
Jerry later wrote:
Sloan: there are devils around like John E. Wells, Ed Swift and
plenty more—your nobility and our nobility is in the struggle
against them. —Jerry
Ed Swift gets mention further along today. On John Wells, Jerry sent this email chain a few days ago:
Sloan: You may find this whole exchange
From Elliot Baron to Jerry:
Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2013 1:07 PM
Subject: Uncle Jack
I guess that John Wells’ (Caribe Nautical) mother must be Jack Steadman’s sister. The way that Wells mentions him prominently in the guest editorial he wrote, would infer that Jack supports the proposed dredging. Have a read and see what you think…
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Tarpon, lies and videotape — where’s the data to show negative impact?
By JOHN E. WELLS Guest Columnist
I recently came across an old photo of my grandfather, G.R. Steadman, original master and “plank owner” of the Schooner Western Union. There he was, at the Thompson Enterprises dock at the foot of William Street, looking salty next to his small motorboat. Hanging next to him was a very large tarpon indeed.
His only surviving son, Jack Steadman of Steadman’s Boatyard, told me Capt. Steadman often caught big tarpon in Key West Harbor, as did famous contemporaries like Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos and Joe Russell, among others. The photo was taken in the early 1940s, a time with perhaps the heaviest ship traffic through the harbor. World War II was full on and large warships and merchant vessels were constantly navigating the Main Ship Channel, forming up for the convoys to England.
The Main Ship Channel had already been cut and dredged to accommodate the deep draught destroyers, cruisers, submarines, support ships, oilers and large cargo vessels. And long before that, Key West Harbor and the adjacent Seaplane Basin had been cut, dredged and the fill dumped, without mitigation, to form the land areas we now know as Fort Taylor State Park, Wisteria Island, Tank Island (Sunset Key), Fleming Key, Trumbo Point, and Sigsbee Park.
And still Key West Harbor was chock full of tarpon and other fish — just as it is now.
So when I viewed the video “Silver Lining” produced by the Lower Keys Guides Association (LKGA), I was again impressed at the resilience of Key West and its marine environment. I was very happy to see, according to this beautiful videotape of tarpon fishing, that there remains a plenitude of tarpon around Key West, and they still annually migrate “by the thousands” to Key West Harbor — even after 150 years of dredging and filling and 35 years of cruise ship traffic.
That was the truth set forth in this effective video. However, I was puzzled when the video producers slipped in the lie that cruise ship traffic has somehow caused a decline in the tarpon fishery. Can they have it both ways? The video effectively documents that the tarpon fishery remains robustly healthy, and then points to cruise ships as the root of a fishery decline.
The video is dedicated in part to distinguished Key West fishing guide Jose Wejebe. Last week, I watched another great video on the Outdoor Channel of Jose and his client catching and releasing a fine tarpon in Key West Harbor. They were fighting the fish right under the bow of a cruise ship docked at Pier B.
Jose famously jumped in the harbor to untangle the tarpon, which had wrapped itself around a piling at the Mallory cruise ship dock. Perhaps it was only tangled in the healthy corals that continue to grow on all of Key West’s cruise piers.
“Silver Lining” depicts cruise ships stirring up silt during their Main Ship Channel transits, implying an impact to the marine environment — another video lie. There is zero evidence that silt plumes in Key West Harbor or its approaches cause any impact whatsoever.
Indeed, any transient silt plume kicked up by ship passage is miniscule in comparison to what is regularly stirred up and deposited by tropical storm and cold front passage. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection regularly samples the water both within and outside the silt plume as ships maneuver in the harbor. The DEP has reported no adverse impacts to date.
The LKGA, along with their surprising allies Last Stand and the new anti-cruise industry PAC, continue to cite the falsehood that cruise ships cause damage to Key West’s marine environment. None of them can produce one study or incident that backs up their assertions, relying on innuendo, anecdotes and tired propaganda, rather than fact.
The fact is, on any given day in May, you can see LKGA charter boats lined up just off Fort Taylor, jigging shrimp heads through vast schools of tarpon as cruise ships enter the harbor.
This discussion emphasizes the need for a “yes” vote on the October referendum to approve the channel-widening study. We as a community have a responsibility to finally know the truth about the environmental and economic impacts of the proposed widening of a portion of the Main Ship Channel.
When community functionaries like Commissioner [Jimmy] Weekley publicly state they have already made up their minds about channel widening, they choose ignorance over enlightenment. Apparently, Commissioner Weekley would rather not entertain the possibility of inconvenient facts that challenge his decades-long antipathy against cruise ships and the Key West businesses that rely on them. A more effective community leader would better serve the city by evaluating real data regarding a proposal to improve a critical part of Key West’s transportation infrastructure.
The channel-widening study is an opportunity for both sides to put this controversy to rest once and for all. We don’t know if the study will validate opponents or supporters of the channel widening. Let us come together as a community, vote yes, and find out which.
As always, the tarpon will continue to thrive and the lies will fade away.
John E. Wells is founder and CEO of Caribe Nautical Services Inc., which provides ship services to passenger, merchant and naval vessels. He also is past president of the Key West Propeller Club.
Jerry back to Elliot:
Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2013 5:12 PM
Subject: Re: Uncle Jack
Eliot: this is so full of lies that I would call it
transparently fraudulent–a hoax. I was in Miami
during WW 2 –and supply and troop ships
came by there mainly at night. Key West was an out of
the way repair facility—-these large convoys were formed
predominantly off the east coast of our country. The draft
of a destroyer world war 2, vintage was 9 feet. The harbor when
I fished it from 1956 on was clear to translucent you could at dusk
observe the crabs and shrimp go by in the tidal current. It was
full of fish then –NOT NOW—it is opaque–no plankton–no crustaceans.
In the past before cruise ships my daughter and son-in -law sight
fished Spanish and Cero Makerel –from the shore–no big hotels
then. At night Lady fish and snapper almost every cast from
an old wooden dock. In the summer I swam almost every late
afternoon off Zack Taylor beach July and August until it became
so murky visibility was terrible black gook stirred up by Cruise
Ships —Jack is against dredging for Cruise Ships. I could go
on and on. John E. Wells is a pathological liar. Jerry
From Ginger of Jupiter Beach, Florida – she has been to Key West several times on cruise ships:
What’s a small cruise ship?. Carnival, Norwegian, ?? I have been on 3500 guests and 1500 crew cruise ships that have no problem docking in Key West. Sometimes in front of the Hilton Hotel dock which is more glamorous than the Navy pier where 3500 people have to pile on to little trolley to get into downtown Key West.
So a big cruise ship is 5000 or 6000 people not counting crew and they will all show up in tiny downtown Key West? And the cruise ships come 3 or 4 a day as its the first stop the morning after leaving Miami and maybe the second morning after leaving Canaveral.
Are these cruise passengers really buying a lot? The drinks cost the same as on the ship, and the expensive items are duty free on the ship. I paid to see Mel Fisher’s Museum, great. Like Hemingway’s House, went sailing and snorkeling on a lousy half dead reef the third time….last time I had coffee with you and returned to the ship.
Does the Mayor keep track of the income that the Cruise Ships bring in? I think they better put the money into improving the quality of life for the residents and building a few chicken coops.
Ginger, Jupiter, Fla.
I wrote back:
When I say small, I’m being sarcastic. 1,500-3,500 passengers is huge. 5000-6000 is super huge.
Seriously, what are the studies if any on how much Cruise Ship people actually spend during the 5 hours they are in port. I read that the average modern cruise ship is 4 times the TITANIC’s size. I feel the same way toward the giant new airplanes…won’t take them. I feel like I am challenging Mother Nature.
I don’t think there are any reliable studies on what cruise ship passengers spend in Key West, and, for me, I don’t care. Cruise ships are bad news for the environment wherever they are, including Key West. That’s my reason for opposing them, and they create a lot more traffic jams in Key West via conch trains and trolleys.
Re: cruise ship passengers spending. The only logical reason for Key West to waste money on this project is if they can prove cruise passengers actually contribute a lot to the economy. I like cruise travel because I pick the cheapest time off season and it costs me less to visit Belize by cruise ship, visit the Mayan pyramids near the Guatemalan border on a guided tour [as it is very dangerous to go alone] and return to the ship about 6 pm in time for dinner. I usually book the whole 7 day cruise for $400 per person, food, cabin, et al. This versus flying to Belize from Miami for $400 to $600, round trip and then have to pay for a hotel and pay for meals and make sure I am getting a reliable guide so I don’t get mugged in the jungle. Belize City is considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world…don’t know how it got that way. Belize got its independence around 1977 or ??
I appreciate what you say about cruise ships being an inexpensive way to travel and see what you otherwise could not see, and it being much safer. I wish cruise ships’ ecology matched their economy.
Christine Russell, aka Jaguar Woman, replied to yesterday’s A cruise ship passenger weighs in on Key West’s channel-widening (bring in more and bigger cruise ships) referendum post at goodmorningfloridakeys.com:
Hi Sloan -
Your posting today says the election is Oct 3rd. I believe it is Tues Oct 1st. I work at one of the precincts and that is the date on my calendar. I want people to have the correct date. A much more IMPORTANT DATE is Sept 3rd. That is the last day to REGISTER TO VOTE. You can be against dredging the channel, you can put signs in your yard, but you HAVE TO BE REGISTERED TO VOTE AND THEN DO IT, to make a difference. Absentee ballots can also be requested for ease and if your are away. I am certain every HTA employee will be voting as well as other PRO-dredging company employees. Too bad they are not told if the reef and marine environment gets any sicker – NONE of them are going to have ANY jobs. But to greedy business people a bird in the hand is most valuable. SO SHORT SIDED.
The Channel Widening Forum put on by the CHAMBER at the WESTIN, who owns Pier B and has a big $$$ stake $$$ in the cruise business, says “panelists from local political action committees (PACS) will present information”. I wonder WHICH PACS this will be? The Seaport Alliance which is John D-H’s PAC will probably be there. I have heard this PAC’s official address is the same as the HTA address – do you know if this is correct? The Chamber PAC that’s another story, I don’t know why most business would belong to this Chamber. I will send you a very thought-provoking article dated August 22, 2013 on CRUISE SHIP KICKBACKS. These businesses pay THOUSANDS of dollars PLUS a % of their sales to be part of the “cruise ship shopping programs”. When the Chamber promotes the cruise ships, it seems to me they are over-looking the little independent businesses that can not afford to pay these big bucks to the cruise ship lines. Seems like the Chamber should be representing ALL of their businesses equally but when they made cruise ships the PRIORITY as they have the past few years, these shops with their cruise ship shopping programs seem to have a very unfair advantage – you have to read the article. We’re just not the little island we used to be before the ships, and the day is coming (maybe it is already here) that people are not going to want to chose a cruise that includes Key West – the numbers ARE DOWN. I wish the city would concentrate on making Key West the best destination it COULD be – like cleaning up Duval Street, getting SOMETHING happening at the non-existent Waterfront Park – like a REAL weekend market. But these horses have been beaten so severely they are dead or nearly dead.
Lastly, about your comment “Ed Swift’s company, Historic Tours of America, which runs conch trains and trolleys all over Key West, and has an exclusive arrangement ferrying cruise ship passengers from ships docked at the outer mole into Old Town and back to their ship”. Many people may not know that the city pays for this service. Most years it has been $400,000 or $500,000 and it seems I recall the figure of $700,000 years ago. You would have to look at the City budget over the years to get exact figures of how much it has been and is now. This amount probably comes out of disembarkation fees. But when these dredging zealots tell you about how much these disembarkation fees bring in to the City – they will not tell you there are HUGE costs associated with the cruise ships being allowed to come to Key West. The HTA fee is only one expense. There have been million dollar projects done at Mallory Square over the past 10 years so these ships can tie up and sit for hours. Just imagine the stress of holding a massive ship this size in place – it is not some little dock with a couple small cleats, it must require some expensive engineering and foundations under Mallory Square.
Now if you want to debate cruise ships in general – that will have to be another day. One battle at a time. If you had gone to the excellent presentation at the Tropic last week, you would have seen pictures of specific spots at our reef in the 1970′s, and then pictures in 2011 of those exact same places – they were marked with a large stake so they could be found at a later date. In the 70′s they were full of color and life – sea fans, corals and fish. In 2011 there was NOTHING there – just brown, barren dead sea bottom, and no fish. We learned that 90 % of the CORAL HAS BEEN LOST and that 97% of some CORAL SPECIES ARE NOW GONE. I don’t know how ANY person could see this, and CONTINUE to promote DREDGING or anything that further stresses the reef and removes endangered corals and sea life. It is just beyond my comprehension. It is a far more selfish person that I want anything to do with. I tell myself some of these people are making decisions based on fear. Fear that the cruise ships are going away. It kind of reminds me of George W and how he created such fear in American’s, and then he used that fear to chop away at our civil liberties. That too is a conversation for another day and not related to our struggling marine environment. But fear is a very powerful driver – and it seems to be steering some good folk’s boat. The other boats are steered simply by greed.
This was sent to me by a friend.
Click on the hyperlink.
GREED at it’s best.
Have you seen this?
Here is the link. Scroll to the bottom after opening to hear the radio version.
During the summer months, Juneau can get as many as seven cruise ships in a day. (Alexandra Gutierrez/APRN)
Every summer, a million tourists pass through Southeast Alaska. It’s a boon to local retailers, who rely on the extra customers to make up for slower winter months. But with lots money being spent, business can get dirty. This spring, the state responded to complaints that onboard shopping experts were misleading passengers and smearing local stores by hitting these programs with a new set of rules. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez wanted to find out if the new regulations are actually working.
Just about every other store in Juneau’s shopping district sells jewelry. They advertise diamonds and tanzanite, steep discounts and free charms. But a sign on one storefront stands out: “Don’t see us on your cruise ship map??? We’d rather not give your cruise ship a kickback!!”
MEHAN: We put up that sign because a lot of people were unaware of the gimmicks that were going on the cruise lines …
Of the half dozen local business owners I talked to about these kickbacks, Mehan was the only who would agree to be quoted. Even then, he wouldn’t let me use his real name, out of fear of getting blackballed by the cruise industry.
Years ago, Mehan used to pay $25,000 plus 10 percent of sales to be part of the cruise shopping programs. The shopping programs are run by media companies, who then pay the cruise lines to have their employees — known as “port lecturers” — on board the ship. These port lecturers are supposed to work like shopping ambassadors, guiding tourists to trusted retailers. But even though Mehan was part of their program, customers were still steered to chains with stronger ties to the industry. So he stopped paying. Then Mehan started hearing troubling things from passengers.
“‘We were told to only go to certain stores because the other stores are people who sometimes don’t sell the real stuff and we are not responsible for it,’ and stuff like that,” says Mehan. “So that’s like a scare factor.
These kinds of complaints got so bad that the State of Alaska started investigating the companies who hire the port lecturers and give the cruise lines a cut of their earnings to have them on board.
Ed Sniffen handles consumer protection for the state, and he says it wasn’t just local businesses who were upset. Passengers were also saying they’d been ripped off.
“‘Hey, I bought this diamond at this shop, and they told me that it was a two-karat something, and I paid $20,000 for it. When I got it back home and had it appraised, it was really only worth $5,000.’ You know, some of those kinds of things,” says Sniffen.
Port lecturers operate on cruises across the world, but Alaska is the first place to crack down on their employers.
In February, the state agreed to a $200,000 settlement with Onboard Media, Royal Media Partners, and the PPI Group — the three Florida-based companies that put port lecturers on Alaska cruise voyages. The companies didn’t have to admit any wrongdoing, but they did have to start requiring port lecturers to disclose that they didn’t work for the cruise lines and that what they were doing was a type of advertising. They were also prohibited from disparaging stores that didn’t participate in their programs and from making misleading statements about sale prices and return policies.
None of the major cruise lines that operate in Alaska — Carnival, Princess, Holland America, and Norwegian — responded to emails asking about their relationship with port lecturers. Royal Media Partners and the PPI Group also ignored interview requests. Only Onboard Media answered questions about the settlement terms.
“[The settlement] simply formalized policies that Onboard Media has always followed,” wrote Noelle Sipos, a spokesperson for Onboard Media, in an e-mail. She added that the company is complying with all of Alaska regulations, but that they’re not applying the state’s rules to other places.
“The program in each region is tailored to support the requirements of the local authorities,” wrote Sipos.
So, are these regulations doing anything? Right now, the attorney general’s office is reviewing about 70 recordings of port lecturers in action, and it looks like filming them is helping. Sniffen says while things aren’t suddenly perfect, most of the feedback on the ground has been good.
“What we’re hearing is that generally things are better. That things have gotten a little cleaner,” says Sniffen. “Passengers aren’t saying the things that they used to say.”
Before Cindy Dollar gets off her cruise ship, she’s given a shopping map, a bunch of coupons, and a tote bag for her haul. She’s vacationing from Texas, and she says there’s serious pressure to spend.
“Yeah, it’s constant,” says Dollar. “I mean if you let yourself, you can be barraged with the whole shopping experience on the ship.”
From what she’s seen, it looks like the port lecturers are following the state’s new rules. They’re putting disclaimers on promotional materials, and reading from scripts that describe their presentations as marketing. They’re still pushy, but at least you know where they’re coming from.
And so far, their pitch doesn’t seem to be working on her. Dollar doesn’t plan on buying from the stores that are being hyped up, and she definitely isn’t thinking about making any huge purchases.
“I plan to bring back a few souvenirs for family and my petsitter,” Dollars laughs.
She thinks a local gift shop will do the trick.
I wrote back:
Hi, Christine – I never will stop hearing about not attending that meeting at the Tropic, which, frankly, I did not want to attend because, frankly, I do not feel the anti-dredging camp is willing to attack cruise ships, which are the reason we are even having this discussion.
In what you wrote today, you did not mention any attack against cruise ships at the Tropic meeting, although they are putting huge ongoing stress on the reef by dumping their semi-treated, still very toxic human sewerage (according to DeeVon Quirolo maybe six weeks ago now [co-founder of Reef Relief]), inside the Gulf Stream en route to the Keys from Pt. Everglades; and, they are dumping their food waste after it is all ground up into “chum”, and no telling what else they are dumping; and they tear up the channel bottom and cause huge silt plumes every time they come into and leave Key West – all of which is impacting the reef today, now, and is not a fight for another day in my book, but is a fight long way past due.
Dredging a relative small part of the channel a little wider certainly is an insult to the sea and no doubt will affect the reef adversely, but it is really weird to me that dredging has become the focus of the anti-referendum camp, instead of the reason for the dredging, which is cruise ships, which damage the reef ongoing.
Key West itself did plenty of damage to the reef by pumping its raw human sewerage and untreated storm water into the sea not all that far from Key West, where sea currents would carry it elsewhere.
I am not willing to put all the blame for the reef dying on cruise ships, but I do put a lot of the reef die-off on cruise ships.
The Alaska kick-back scheme is revolting, wonder if something similar is going on in Key West? Thanks for filling in that Key West pays Ed Swift to ferry cruise ship passengers into town and back out to their ships, I spaced that out in what I published today.
I don’t know who will present for the anti-dredging camp at the upcoming forum, but if I had to guess, it will be one or both of the Benson brothers. If they are not invited, that will look really rigged. Maybe DeeVon Quirolo will be invited. Won’t surprise me, though, if Peter Anderson is given the anti-dredging talking head slot, since he now is Reef Relief’s leader, despite his love for cruise ships.
I think the whole lot of you who oppose the dredging have made a huge mistake not using the attached photo, gleaned from Will Benson’s website, out of his “Silver Lining” video, about which photo Will’s father told me, as the anti-referendum campaign poster.
I agree, every business in Key West, which makes money off of cruise ships, will try to get its employees to vote Yes for the channel-widening “study”, which is a joke, since everyone in Key West, who is aware of the referendum, knows it’s about moving toward dredging the channel wider so more of the same size cruise ships already calling on Key West, such as the one on the attached photo, can get into port on days when the wind now keeps them from crabbing into the channel, and so larger cruise ships now unable to reach port on any day can reach port.
It won’t surprise me if all city employees vote Yes for dredging and more and bigger cruise ships. It won’t surprise me if most voters from New Town who go to the polls vote YES.
This whole stupid, sordid affair sure looks to me to be yet another very loud reason for you to liquidate your real estate in Key West and live somewhere else, which I heard you tell a woman at a city commission meeting maybe three months ago she ought to do because of how unhappy she was with the city.
I do have some very strong opinions on cruise ships – some you may not like, some that will surprise you and maybe surprise everyone. But anyone who knows me, knows I am extremely environmentally minded. I am a sailor. The wind always powered my boat. No diesel guzzling CO2 spewing boats for me. That’s just me and the respect I have for nature. I have long respected the oceans, the air, the rivers – the Earth.
I cannot go into the detail I would like to about cruise ships right now. I am in the middle of a huge fundraising campaign that I have to put the finishing touches on tonight. The First Lady of Panama, Marte Linares de Martinelli just held an Animaloton on Saturday and we (Spay Panama) took our Diabolo Rojo – Red Devil, the old US school buses that Panama used as public transportation until about a year ago. Earlier this year, President Martinelli gave to us one of the Diablos to convert to a mobile spay clinic. The First Lady on Saturday gave us our first donation – $2500 to begin the renovation of our Diablo. I have to finish the fundraising campaign plan tonight and get it to Panama – the bus is rolling
Later this week I will try to get back to you with my take on cruise ships. Please don’t crucify me yet.
PS have I sent you this attached picture before?
How would you like to be breathing that air!
All the folks in Truman Annex are getting a big whiff of that soot and black air, as well as the rest of us.
Well not Ed Swift living in Key Haven.
I took this photo one day when I was sailing.
I wish the EPA would test our air, my house is covered in black soot.
Carnival the most evil of the evil. More on that another day – things to do
I wrote back:
Lovely. Why come Last Stand isn’t using the pic I sent earlier, and now send again? Or, is Last Stand using this pic, too? It’s a lot closer to the bone (dead and what’s left of a dying reef).