Key West City Commission’s top choice for new homeless shelter location, long time coming, long ways to go

homeless pastor fascimile

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Mustang Sally

Amiga Gloria Reiser (above) of Quincy, Illinois wrote yesterday:

Was sorry to read of the tourist who died while stopped by KW police. If he was tasered to death, some heads should roll.

And even if he was living out of his car, what are the homeless supposed to do? Where is it ok for them to be?

If we as a culture continue to refuse to consider and care for or attempt to find viable solutions for our homeless and poor, I just shudder to think about how things could wind up.

I replied:

I think the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Oversight (or whatever it’s called) is investigating the dead tourist who came as he was, as Key West and the Tourist Development Council invite, but maybe he didn’t read the fine print? I am hearing his family is going to sue the city, I’m also hearing Key West the (Blue) Newspaper – – which broke the video in an article this past Friday, will have more on the topic in this Friday’s edition. The dead tourist is sort of making Bill O’Reilly’s slam of Key West seem rather tame, sorry for ole Bill, I know he worked darn hard on that documentary, I heard he did it because he bought up some Key West real estate and he likes it so much he decided to fuck up Key West reputation to drive real estate prices down so he could buy up a lot more, maybe corner the market – makes for as good an explanation as any of how O’Reilly’s twisted tortured right wing Christian-Republican minds works – abusive use of works, apologies, not sure anything works to describe how O’Reilly’s mind behaves.

Went to a city commission meeting tonight, just about selecting a location for the new homeless shelter. Seemed all the commissioners don’t see any solution to homelessness, only how to try to manage it is their interest. Not sure the mayor has gotten that far, he wanted a full-service transformational shelter, fix and graduate them, might work for a few but not for many. First good meeting for the city on homelessness, I felt when it was over. I probably will write about it tomorrow at I got a feeling homelessness is gonna be getting worse, and worse, hope not, but I got a feeling. They are mainstream’s shadow, and that ain’t comforting to think much about either.

At tomorrowsky will be a bit of a a shit grinder surprise the angels been beating into me since about noon today. All they fucking had to do was tell me nicely, but, no, they had to harpoon me in a nap to let me know which way to go with it. Real uplifting and joyful, although I have to admit I rather enjoyed doing it after the harpoon extraction, the bleeding staunching and the blood transfusion.

Here’s the anytime link to the shit grinder surprise:

gravity and justice for all … lower Florida Keys shitgrinder rebellion

fish or cut bait

During citizen comments in Old City Hall last night, I said I was homeless in Key West and elsewhere, and I know the terrain.

I asked if the city commissioners and mayor had read Commissioner Teri Johnston’s

Teri Johnston

memo to City Manager Bob Vitas, which was based on Teri’s and my conversation over lunch a couple of months back? I asked Bob if he had shared that memo with the mayor and city managers? If not, I hoped he would do so.

[Here’s the link to the post containing Teri’s memo: Key West City Commissioner Teri Johnston weighs in on managing the city’s homeless policy, and various related and unrelated excursions]

I said to the commissioners and mayor, you are making no provision for homeless families, couples, couples with children, a mother with children, a man with children.

homeless car child

They are the most at risk, because of something that happened that made them be homeless. They are the easiest to turn around, because they hate being homeless and have not yet become chronic homeless. You should put 90 percent off your effort and assets to helping them.

I said, putting on my ex-lawyer hat, before you talk further about making homeless people stay all the time in the new homeless shelter, homeless people have the same rights as everyone else has to wander the public sidewalks and streets, and be in public parks. They have that right because they are Americans. You cannot lock them up just because they are homeless. Maybe in Russia, or in Iran, you can do that, but not in America, not yet.

I said, before you talk further about providing transitional subsidized housing for homeless people who leave the new shelter, you need to study up on Miami, which created a massive welfare state for homeless people, lots of transitional subsidized housing, maybe costing billions, just to get homeless people off the streets, and still it isn’t enough and now they are choking on the costs. And by the way, where is any subsidized housing for Key West homeless graduates? The city’s subsidized housing at the Housing Authority is full with a long waiting list. Where in Key West can subsidized housing be built for homeless people? Where will Key West get the money for subsidized housing for homeless people. Typical crazy ass lunatic comments and questions nobody else was making and asking.

I told Commissioner Tony Yaniz

Tony Yaniz 2

that I’d finally decided on a new site in the Key West area which nobody will like, a reference back to the previous meeting when Tony asked me for a site for the new homeless shelter, which would not have the NIMBY (not in my backyard) problem, and I told him no such site exists in Key West, and he said that’s no solution, and I said I wasn’t going to lie; there is no solution in Key West to NIMBY, which was proven in spades last night by other citizens’ comments, and by city commissioners and city staff’s comments.

My 3 minutes up, I asked for more time. Mayor Cates objected.

Craig Cates

I said he gave a man who was speaking for the golf course community more time. Mayor Cates said I am not speaking for a community. I said I am speaking for all of the people of Key West, including the homeless people. Mayor Cates gave in. I said I am on your Mayor’s Homeless Advisory Committee because you asked me to be on it, but you never invited me to any of the meetings.

I said the best place for the new shelter is on the Sheriff’s land on Stock Island, further west from where KOTS now sits. I am putting on my ex-lawyer hat. I see no way any judge in the land will decide against the new shelter being deeper in the Sheriff’s land. That’s the safest place for the new shelter. A judge will look at all the circumstances, a new shelter is needed, the judge will rule for the city, but yes, the city might be sued and there will be nothing to stop that from happening.

I said the city needs to give the Sheriff incentive, which is to stop putting homeless people who break city laws in his jail, but put them in a day and night facility with retired law enforcement officers on staff. Keep homeless lawbreakers there until the next morning, then let them leave. And stop taking homeless people to the hospital and costing it so much money.

Here’s today’s Key West Citizen version of the city commission meeting, I added the pic of the Sheriff’s complex:


Sheriff HQ in forefront, Juvenile Justice Center beyond it, County Detention Center to left, KOTS just to left of Sheriff HQ, all three Sheriff buildings have covered ground-level parking underneath

Spots for new KOTS named
Ex-juvenile justice building No. 1 pick
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff

City commissioners Wednesday named the vacant two-story building that formerly housed the state’s juvenile justice program, aside the county jail on Stock Island, as their first choice for the new location of Key West’s homeless shelter.

The ranking was not a final decision and came only after one commissioner insisted the panel come up with a short list from the 35 potential sites assembled by city planners.

“What we can’t do is not do anything,” said Commissioner Teri Johnston. “We do need a solution. We do need the county involved. We need chambers of commerce involved. It’s only getting worse.”

Key West leaders agreed this year to move the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter (KOTS) from its spot on College Road it shares with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in order to settle a lawsuit by Sunset Marina condo owners.

But the possibility that Mayor Craig Cates once endorsed, building a 24-hour homeless shelter at the old Easter Seals lot off College Road, lost its luster for most of the panel, Wednesday’s meeting showed.

City staff on Wednesday delivered a list of top shelter sites, having ranked them by a formula that takes into account such things as bus service and sidewalks.

Staff ranked the former Easter Seals property, 5220 College Road — about which a paid consultant raved this year as top pick — followed by Steadman’s Boat Yard, 701 Palm Ave., and then the former juvenile justice center.

The current KOTS site ranked fifth in the staff report, presented by City Planner Don Craig.

Commissioners on Wednesday opened up yet again a new discussion about where to house homeless men and women, most of whom are from the mainland, a recent study showed.

“We have not ruled out the possibility of legal action if this cannot be resolved,” said Dave Hubbert, president of the Key West Golf Club Homeowners Association, in a prepared statement that called the homeless at KOTS a “criminal element.”

Hubbert said he was quoting Sheriff Rick Ramsay, who has openly said his department is burdened by the shelter and welcomes its departure from his agency’s parcel.

About 60 people turned out for the special public meeting at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St., including more than a dozen people who live at the gated golf course, which is on the same side of College Road as the old Easter Seals building.

County Mayor Sylvia Murphy, of Key Largo, was in the audience and asked to speak by commissioners.

After several commissioners said the homeless problem is a responsibility shared by Monroe County, Murphy politely disagreed.

“We don’t have much of one; Marathon seems to take care of theirs,” Murphy said. “The homeless problem is down here.”

She said she wants to help homeless families with children but noted those residents often struggle in silence.

“They won’t come to you and say they need something, and they’re certainly not begging,” Murphy said, adding that the county commissioners need to meet with Key West’s leaders.

“We need to sit in the same room and see if we can work something out,” Murphy said.

Former mayoral candidate Margaret Romero blasted the commissioners for what she considered failing to assess the homeless needs before sifting through various potential locations.

The problem is that Key West draws homeless men and women to its borders in droves, said Romero, who suggested limiting available services to reverse the trend.

“Get a fingerprint and limit the number of services they’re allowed to get, the number of nights at KOTS,” said Romero. “We have people who brag they’ve been there for years. I bet we’d discourage people from moving here if they heard we were checking for warrants.”

Romero’s comments received the loudest cheers of the night from the audience.


I ain’t too sure it’s legal to make homeless people give fingerprints just because they are homeless.

I followed Sylvia Murphy out

Sylvia Murphy

when she left before the site voting occurred. She told me the public should have nothing to do with any sit-down meeting between the county commissioners and the city commissioners, and Sheriff Ramsay needed to be there and Key West Police Chief Donie Lee. I said I agreed.

Rick RamsayDonie Lee

Ramsay, left, Lee, right

I asked Sylvia if she had noticed the city commissioners and mayor did not hear her when told them homeless is the city’s problem. She said, yeah, she noticed.

Back inside, I told Donie Lee what Sylvia had told me about how the sit-down meeting should be, and he and Sheriff Ramsay should be there, and the public doesn’t participate. Donie said, that would be a “cluster”. Yep.

I told City Manager Bob Vitas

Bob Vitas

what Sylvia said about the sit-down meeting. Bob said he agreed. He thanked me for my comments, said he’d discovered one day while he was out at the Sheriff’s place that the Juvenile Justice Center was completely empty. He said, the Juvenile Justice Center is the best location for a homeless shelter, safest for the public, safest for the homeless people. Put homeless people who are trying to better themselves upstairs, inside; put the other homeless people outside, under the building. Bob said, put homeless people there, not in jail, not in the hospital; take the heat off the Sheriff and the hospital.

I told Mayor Cates it was a good meeting. I shared what Sylvia had said about the sit-down meeting and about it not being the county’s problem. Craig insisted it is the county’s problem, too. I said, no, it is the city’s problem, you are putting homeless people in the county’s jail and making it the county’s problem, and the hospital’s problem. Craig said it is the Sheriff’s problem. I said, no, it is the city’s problem and the Sheriff is the solution, if you give him enough incentive.

Craig said that was what he had tried to do for three years, but nobody would go along with it. I said, no, we would have been at this point three years ago, if you had just sat down and talked with Father Steve Braddock and me.

Father Stephen Braddock


Father Braddock heads up Florida Keys Outreach Coalition which provides structured shelter programs for down and out men and women trying to get back on their feet

I told Craig that Steve and I would have gotten you to this place three years ago, and it would not have cost the city anything. Craig said he did not want Steve and me deciding things for the people of Key West. I said so you hired the charltan Robert Marbut and paid him $20,000 to come up with bogus inflated homeless numbers; you went off on that diversion, which pissed off lots of people, and now here we are, where you would have been if you had simply sat down and talked with Steve and me, and it would not have cost the city anything.

After nearly everyone had left the meeting, Angela who works for the City Clerk’s office, asked me if I am going to run for mayor next year? I said not if I can help it. But, it looks like it might be an interesting race. Mayor Cates, Tony Yaniz, Mike Margaret Romero, Mike and maybe Teri Johnston.

the candidate

dark horse

comme un loup drawing

comme un loup:

Sloan at Coco's

Sloan Bashinsky


About Sloan

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