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Over breakfast at Harpoon Harry’s yesterday, mi amiga Kirsty, who works there and was raised on a sheep farm on the New Zealand south island, and I migrated from speaking Kiwi (her) and redneck (me), to speaking sheep, which was a lot easier for us to understand.
When HH co-owner Ron Heck asked us what that noise was we were making?, and we said we were speaking sheep.
Didn’t he understand sheep?
Ron said he must be a lost sheep.
I said, better that, than a herd sheep.
Ron said, actually, he is a black sheep.
I said that’s the top shelf sheep, the best sheep –
I said it takes one to know one.
Kirsty, Ron and I were sort of nearly rolling on the floor laughing.
Kirsty asked, “How do you know white sheep eat more than black sheep?”
I thought she had asked, “How do you know white sheep eat more black sheep?” and I said, “Because there are more white sheep than black sheep.”
Kirsty saw I didn’t get the question right, so I explained in sheep what I thought was the question:
Kirsty laughed, asked again, “How do you know white sheep eat more than black sheep?”
All of which leads into last night’s special city commission meeting, for which the only item on the agenda was whether or not the city should agree to the Navy’s take it or leave it final offer on the city continuing to lease the outer mole pier and receive cruise ships there. The right-hand cruise ship is docked a the outer mole, which extends from Truman Waterfront, bare land, to the right of which (vegetation) is Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. The left cruise ship is parked in front of the Westin Hotel, which owns that dock.
By the end of the citizen comments and a much longer discussion by the six city commissioners and mayor and city staff, there were six herd sheep and one black sheep. The top shelf sheep was Billy Wardlow, who voted against it.
During the preceeding discussion and questions to and answers from city staff, there was a great deal of baaaaaa-ing about the city not wanting to lose control of the outer mole, even as there was also a great deal of baaaaaa-ing that the city has, and always had, zero control over the outer mole, which is owned and controlled by the Navy. It was a terrific demonstration of mass confusion.
During the baaa-ing, it became evidident that the city has been losing a great deal more money on the outer mole than was shown in the spread sheet, which showed a $10,000 lost last fiscal year, and projected $55,000 loss this fiscal year, because indirect costs have not been calculated and included in the financial reports. For that revelation coming to light, which was about as much a revelation as the sun coming up in the morning and setting in the evening, forget the moon, Commissioner Tony Yaniz got most of the credit, but Commissioner Billy Wardlow was a close second. There was no third-place.
It further became evident that what you read above has been going on in plain view since the Navy conveyed Truman Waterfront to the city in 2002.
It also became obvious, thanks to Commissioner Teri Johnston asking the Navy rep Don Deems: if the city did not take the Navy’s take it or leave it offer by its deadline, January 31, two days’ hence, that would be the last day cruise ships docked at the outer mole. Cruise ships scheduled to dock there would have to shift over to docking at the Westin Hotel’s private pier, or the city’s pier at Mallory Square,
or not come into Key West, until, if, the Navy struck a deal with a private contractor or the crusie ship companies to receive ships on the outer mole.
Whereupon began a great baaaaaaaaa-ing among over how the city could accept the take the Navy’s it or leave it offer, which had a 90 day’s notice escape hatch for both sides, and then the herd and city staff roll up their sleeves and try to figure out what it really costs the city to have that lease on the outer more and receive cruise ships there, and what it will take so the city can start making money out there, which money, if made, all will have to be spent Truman Waterfront, according to the Navy’s requirement in the conveyance to the city of that land.
Various suggestions were made. Increase disembarkation fees. Charge an impact fee. Stop paying Historic Tours of America $500,000+ a year to use its conch trains to bring cruise ship passengers into Old Town and then take them back to the cruise ship. The city would start its own transportation company, although it has no vehicles for doing that, and that would save money, unless, I guess, the city had to buy transportation vehicles and pay drivers and maintain the transporation vehicles, and garage them, where, I can’t imagine, except on Truman Waterfront.
Wow. Was I impressed. 12 years after getting “control” over the outer mole, the herd now wants to figure out how to make money off it. That is wonderful. Christine Russell sitting just in front of me was splitting her sides. She seemed cured, finally. I asked her how she felt about her elected officials? She gave me a thumbs down. Then, dang, Billy Wardlow went and messed that all up by voting against it like any black sheep would just automatically do. I had thought for sure, the way Tony Yaniz was carrying on, dang good I thought, that he would vote no, but in the last moment he snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory and showed he really was just a herd sheep.
Before all of that happened was citizen comments. John Dolan-Heitlinger spoke in favor of keeping the lease on the outer mole, the revenues were important income to the city. Several times he said the revenues were important.
I spoke later. Here’s my best recollection of what all I said during my allowed 3 minutes, after introducing myself and saying where I live in Key West.
“Back during the channel dredging bebate, I heard Johh (Dolan-Heitlinger) speak at several forums for a harbor pilots PAC in favor of the dredging and more and bigger cruise ships. Not once did he tell the audience who he worked for. He did not tell you tonight who he works for, which is Historic Tours of America, which you pay $750,000 a year to bring cruise passengers from the outer mole to HTA’s shops in Old Town, in which crusie ship passengers buy trinkets made in China, Vietnam, Tailand, and conch shells from Cambodia or wherever, thinking they are buying Key West souveniers. (I had heard that day the payment to HTA was $750,000 a year, but during the ensuing discussion it was said to be $500,000 a year). HTA and Ed Swift, its owner, are who need to see those outer mole cruise ship revenues coming in. This goes back a long time through a number of different city commissions, one of which, on which Commissioner Jimmy Weekly sat, cost the city $8,000,000, because they tried to give Ed Swift
a monopoly on conch trains and trolleys in the city. For a very long time Ed Swift has been calling the shots on the outer mole, and that’s what this really is about, Swift running this city out there and the city commissions letting that happen. (I forgot to say, when cruise ship passengers get to his trinket shops, they then can, and do, get on Swift’s conch trains to tour the city at $20 a head, I was told yesterday morning.)
“I’m speaking now for Last Stand, I appoint myself to speak for Last Stand, and all of you on the dais should be speaking for last stand. (Last Stand is a local protect the enviornment organization, which has not, in my view, been particularly vigorous about protecting the enviorment for a while, especially concerning cruise ships). The dirtiest worst possible cruise ships in the world are calling on Key West, and have been calling her for a long time, and you (on the dais) like it, because you aren’t doing anything about it, when you should be doing all you can to stop it. Key West has one asset, the sea and the reef, and as they go, Key West goes. Everyone here knows that.
“It used to be that citizens could use the outer mole to swim, sunbathe, fish, picnic, watch sunsets, but after the Navy gave Truman Waterfront to the city, that was no longer allowed, but Ed Swift was still allowed to run his conch trains out there.”
The looks on the city commissioners’ faces were not of happy campers.
Here’s here’s the Key West Citizen’s report of last night’s affair – www.keysnews.com:
Thursday, January 30, 2014
6-1 vote keeps city docking cruise ships
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
The city Wednesday night signed off on a new five-year lease with the Navy to continue cruise ships docking at the federally owned Outer Mole Pier, as a 6-1 vote by the city commission kept the relationship intact.
But several commissioners who voted to approve the new lease said the city’s management of the pier must change, in light of a $10,000 loss last fiscal year and projections of a $54,000 loss this year.
“Our goal is to break even and then to start making money,” said City Commissioners Teri Johnston, who sees the pier as a contender for the main economic engine at the upcoming Truman Waterfront Park. “Hopefully we’ll have good enough communication that we’ll know what direction we’re going,” Johnston said. “If we’re not making progress, we’ll pull the plug.”
The city’s license with the Navy to welcome cruise ships at the Outer Mole Pier was set to expire at midnight Friday.
That would have meant the pier closing to cruise ships, including dozens scheduled to arrive this year.
The Navy’s best and final offer requires:
• The city provide financial reports and audits up to federal standards, a term City Manager Bob Vitas said was new.
• A $3.75 per passenger from the $10.63 per head fee paid by the cruise lines. The Navy came down from the original $4 per head disembarkation fee.
• A minimum annual payment of $225,000, no matter how many passengers come through.
• The Navy can spent its share on any military installation in Monroe County, rather than only the Key West base.
• A quit clause of 90 days’ notice for either city or Navy.
City Commissioner Billy Wardlow was the lone dissenter, dismayed by what he called the Navy putting the city on the spot.
Wardlow was also taken aback by the projected losses the city stands to suffer at its Outer Mole Pier cruise ship operation, which ran $10,000 into the red last fiscal year and stands to bleed out by at least $50,000 this coming year.
Unlike the city-run cruise ship dock at Mallory Square and its relationship with the privately owned Pier B dock, the Outer Mole Pier’s location alone presents added costs.
Since the Outer Mole Pier is on Navy land at the Truman Waterfront, cruise ship passengers must be shuttled from the dock to downtown, via an exclusive contract with Historic Tours of America worth about $500,000 a year.
“If we didn’t have to pay HTA $500,000 a year this would be a no-brainer,” said City Commissioner Yaniz. “Right now, this is bad business.”
Yaniz and others on the dais directed city staff to look into making the cruise lines pay for that transportation
After the meeting, Yaniz said if things don’t change direction at the Outer Mole Pier in a few months he will “lead the charge” to ending the deal with the Navy, even if that means a private company takes over the operation.
But that $54,000 projection only covers “direct expenses,” commissioners learned Wednesday night, at a special meeting devoted solely to the Outer Mole Pier lease held at Old City Hall.
On top of the direct expense the city has “overhead” expenses such as security, information technology, accounting services and other city staff time, come with the pier lease and can quickly add up, Assistant City Manager Mark Finigan told commissioners.
“I would say it could be considerable,” said Finigan, without giving a dollar figure.
The idea of tapping the Outer Mole Pier cruise ship fees as a funding source to maintain the upcoming Truman Waterfront Park seems specious in light of the $53,000 projected loss this fiscal year, Yaniz said.
“Right now there are no proceeds,” Yaniz said.
Rossi said the four full-time police officers assigned to patrol the Outer Mole Pier would lose their jobs if the city killed the lease, along with others whose livelihoods depend on cruise ships.
“There’s sales tax money that comes in off that 141,000 passengers that come off that pier every year,” Rossi said. “And crew members spend money in this community, too. This is a far-ranging and perplexing problem.”
Vitas said a full analysis of the Outer Mole Pier cruise ship operation would take at least six months and possibly up to one year.
“We’ve got a handle on direct expenses,” said Vitas. “It’s the indirect that’s never been measured.”
Although the real estate division at the Navy’s Jacksonville command handled all of the negotiations with the city, Key West’s commanding officer weighed in this week on the deal.
“This is a great deal for the city and the Navy,” said Capt. Steve McAlearney, who leads the Key West Naval Air Station, calling the $225,000 annual rent reasonable.
“That’s an extremely low threshold,” McAlearney said, adding that it calculates to 60,000 passengers when the Outer Mole has more than twice that a year. “Last year was a down year.”
After the meeting ended, Christine Russell
told me Key West is the most dysfunctional city she ever saw. I said I couldn’t say that, because I’d never been involved in another city’s politics, but for sure, Key West is dysfunctional.
Had I gotten to speak after all the baaaaa-ing, before the voting, I might have said the meeting was a farce and the way they had handled the outer mole all along was a farce. I once heard Commissioner Johnston tell city staff at a commission meeting that something they had proposed was a farce.
I wish them well, but I doubt anyone in the audience thought anything is going to change, which leaves me feeling change needs to come from another direction. Maybe the angels have soething up their sleeves.
Meanwhile, Tim Gratz replied to yesterday’s just another day in paradise (as Key West bills itself) – old vs. new homeless people, two very different kinds of homeless surveys, bubba justice for the uninformed and poorly represented post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
I agree with you totally about everything you wrote today.
It is important to get someone out of the homeless lifestyle before it is too late.
One can easily become so depressed and just give up.
But there are some like the one man quoted in one of the papers who is homeless by choice because he does not like to work.
Society ought not have to pay all that expense for someone who is able to work but just does not want to.
This is so unfair to hard working citizens who have to sacrifice, get out of bed and work sometimes two jobs just to get by.
I wrote back:
I know lots of homeless people, Tim, who don’t want to work and don’t ask for a penny from you, me, Key West, Monroe County, Tallahassee, Washington D.C. Some receive monthly checks, say Soc. Sec., VA, which they earned the old fashioned way. Others receive disability checks, which they earned by living on this planet and being turned into chopped liver by life. Some, yes, demand payment beyond what they earned, but if they are getting payment for beyond what they earned, that is on whomever is paying them.
I was quite glad to get food stamps, even though I felt ashamed I had to do it. But then, I had paid into the system. I had worked really hard. I had tried to help lots of people. I never felt guilty about eating at the soup kitchens. I never felt guilty about staying at KOTS or at FKOC. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t feel guilty. I was glad for but felt ashamed about getting free medical and hospital help when I was nearly dead from MRSA in mid-2003; but I later was able to pay that back, and was glad I could pay it back. I thought when that help came that I hoped to one day be able to pay it back. I never paid FKOC anything, but I was working my butt of trying to help homeless stuff and running for mayor at Steve Braddock’s and Bill Verge’s request, after they chipped in and paid the filing fee. All that as in 2003, when I nearly died from MRSA, which is what drove me into FKOC.
But for an inheritance in early 2006, Tim, I still would be homeless and you and I might never have met, absent something happening which did not happen, whatever that might be, to provide me with money to keep me off the street.
You might view the homeless fellow who made that remark about not wanting to work as a bit mentally ill, perhaps he was made so by religious parents and their church, or being sodomized by his father and/or molested by his mother when he was a kid. Perhaps he was ruined by Persian Gulf Disease, like a homeless vet I met on Maui, who was going blind and was abandoned by Uncle Sam who denied a person with perfect vision during the Gulf War later going blind had anything to do with the Gulf War, or that its disease even existed. A very bitter man, that veteran of that Uncle Sam oil war, which had zero to do with Uncle Sam’s sympathy toward the people of Kuwait, just as Uncle Sam’s rubber and oil war in Vietnam had nothing to do with saving Americans from communism. I ran into quite a few homeless Vietnam vets in Key West, who now are not even allowed in the Key West VFW.
Before anyone criticizes any homeless person for not working, being dirty, being drunk, being a bum, that person first should be homeless him/herself for long enough to know what being homeless is like in that sense. In the Bigger Sense, Tim, probably every person in Key West, for example, is homeless, and for all I know, when the line forms for getting into heaven, the least (the homeless) will be at the front of the line, and the greatest (the not homeless) will be at the back, wondering, as happens at KOTS on cold or rainy nights, if there will still be room in the inn for them when they get to the front gate :-)?
Kurt Wagner, a past vicious unwashed van dweller criminal in Key West, now caretaking a place in the Virgin Islands but hoping soon to make a comeback to his old illegal ways in Key West, replied to yesterday’s post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
Maybe some one can help. I am trying to put together a list of emails for our Florida and Monroe county officials. Unless I’m blind or stupid there are no email addresses listed on the state of Florida website for representatives, senators, or the governor. How can someone send copies of emails if they won’t publish their respective email addresses? Are they in hiding?
I wrote back:
God can help. I guess you don’t think I know what I say about homeless people? I hope you prove me wrong. Do you really think there is help Tallahassee and D.C.?
Sloan, while I respect your knowledge and experience, I don’t believe God can help. He isn’t going to change the law in Key West or the attitude of the residents. Tallahassee or DC? Why not try. Doing nothing changes nothing. If the city of Key Wes can be forced to run KOTS at a cost of $400,000/yr (their number) why can’t they provide a place for us to park at night?
Hi, Kurt –
I didn’t understand your previous email was about KW providing van dwellers a place to park at night. I agree, KW should do that, but I don’t see you getting help with that from Tallahassee or D.C., or from Monroe County. They have their own worries (understatement). Monroe County and Tallahassee have no legal power to tell Key West what to do about homeless people. The US Department of Justice might, but if Key West didn’t agree, it would take a US District Court to do the persuading, like what happened when the ACLU sued Miami in US District Court. However, that case was not about van dwellers, as far as I know, and while the argument can me made that giving van dwellers much the same amenities/protection that street people in Miami got from that US District Court can be made, I don’t see Key West going along with it without a US District Court telling KW to go along with it.
I said that to Hatman, and to the young van couple with the dog Chaos. They didn’t seem to hear me. Sometimes I feel like I am on another planet and that’s why people on this planet don’t hear me :-).
What the KW van dwellers need to do, my opinion, is persuade the ACLU to sue KW in US District Court, which has a branch court in KW. However, Hatman told me that he tried to get the local ACLU chapter interested, but so far no interest apparently. If all KW van dwellers, car dwellers, showed up at a local ACLU meeting, at the Unitarian Church is where Hatman said they have their meetings, that might get something started. However, I imagine you will find that most or nearly all van dwellers will not put their names and faces on a lawsuit against KW. In my opinion, you have to be living here in Key West, in your van, to have legal standing to put your name on such a lawsuit.
As for other homeless people in Key West, the ones who once lived on the street and slept outside, but now are supposed to sleep at KOTS, if there is room there, I told it like it is. I told it like it is since 2002, and nothing anyone came up with during all that time proved otherwise. To the contrary, it was proven to be as I told it. That’s not going to change, unless God changes it.
However, what it looks to me is happening, I published this many times:
Because KW bills out its creed being “one human family”, how each person in KW views and treats homeless people in KW is being recorded in a court not of this world, where they stand even if they don’t know they stand there. A court where we all stand under scrutiny every day of our lives on this planet, and when we leave this life, we settle up in that court for how we lived on this planet, regardless of our religious persuasion, or lack thereof.
Boots on the ground KW, ground zero, is the front lines. Taking personal risks is required. Getting shot and killed, or smothered to death, or beaten to death, or tasered to death, is not entirely out of the question :-). Receiving citizen of the day awards at city commission meetings is not highly likely, although special posthumous consideration might be made for dead martyrs :-).
Hell, that even might get 60 Minutes interested, and the F.B.I. and the US Department of Justice, too!
I agree the only way is to force the courts to treat us the same as the bicycle homeless. I went with Hatman and Michelangelo to the meeting at the church and they (the ACLU) were a no-show twice. I think they would rather spend their time and resources protecting the illegal criminals than US citizens. (but that’s another discussion)
While I currently am not in Florida, this August I start collecting SS. and will be back. I’m trying to do what I can to change things in Key Weird for when I get there. If not, I will once again be an unwashed, vicious, criminal, van dweller.
I always enjoy a good debate/discussion,
Hmmm, is unwashed similar to be uncircumcised?
It occurred to me after sending my last croaking to you that it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that God might have a trick or two or three up the Royal Sleeve, but as Things usually go in such Matters, I might be the last to know what They might Be.
I look forward to your return. I told Hatman, I didn’t expect much to come out of an outfit which meets in the Unitarian Church in Key West, which might go into terminal paralysis if an angel dropped in uncloaked on one of their services. I was banned for life from that church in the spring of 2006, I may never get over it.
From: email@example.com (Kurt)
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: Crusades In Key West
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2014 13:03:47 -0600
Just like the Crusades of 1096 AD thru 1272 AD, Key West has embarked on a vision of ridding the island of the homeless, reminiscent of the Christians ridding Europe of the Muslims. While the Muslims had no legal rights, we do under the United States Constitution. Now I realize the City Council of Key West disagrees with this. Just ask any council member or officer of the Key West PD. If we can’t afford a place to live we are not welcome here.
It took the Christians nearly 200 years to force the unwanted Muslims out of Europe. Does the City Council want to wage a 200 year war on the homeless? They tried buying us bus tickets, harassment, jail, fines, even murdering a tourist! We have as much right to be here as you pompous, self serving, holier than thou, money hungry assholes, who think you are better because you run this island. You only run this island because people of your ilk voted for you. Key West is full of ultra rich. The old time Key West residents forgot how they made their money. Not by legal means, but “other ways” back in the sixties and seventies. Or you inherited it. Drug running made lots of residents rich. They just won’t admit it. I know because a relative of mine bought a place here in the early sixties. And yes he owned his own plane and fast boat. You are no better than the Kennedy’s who made their money off bootlegging illegal liquor during prohibition.
So why do you think you are better than us? We are not the Muslims and you surely are not the Christians you claim to be with your BS motto “One Human Family”.
I replied to Kurt, copied to ALL:
Aw Kurt, I had hoped you would quit being so nice – well, there’s always tomorrow :-).
Even so, there is a possibility your love letter might get its bare assets exposed in tomorrow’s comic strips at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.
Kurt wrote to me:
Sloan you always give me a laugh.