journalism as a contact sport – Key West and Florida Keys versions

the beatings will continue

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Naja

Yesterday from Naja Girard, co-publisher, with her husband Arnaud, of Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com:

Any luck connecting with guy in video on bike?

Thanks!

Naja

The guy on the bike in the Charles Eimers video. Without that video, and Naja and Arnaud’s dogged investigations and reporting, KWPD might already have gotten clean away with what happened to Eimers in Key West last Thanksgiving Day, Eimer’s last day on this world. For more on that misadventure in paradise, click on this link: Investigation or Cover-up?

At the end of that article is a link to all prior blue paper articles on the Eimers case. In the first article is the video, which pretty much destroyed the story several cops told before they knew about the video. This editorial cartoon by Arnaud kinda got down to the nitty gritty.

Issue 43 Charles Eimers for web

I wrote back to Naja:

Not yet, but I’m still trying.  I went by the housing authority office day before yesterday about 1:30 p.m. and they were closed. I’ve been swamped since then. But I will keep trying; perhaps the housing authority office at Porter Place will get word to Dustin, I’m pretty sure they know him by his first name, that you wish to speak with him, if they won’t give me his last name, apt. #, etc.

Very good article on Key West Bight water pollution.

#1 SOURCE OF POLLUTION: THE OFFICIAL STORY

I imagine it ain’t just over there after big rain. And, maybe the reason there is not much in the way of water pollution showing at the Westin is that’s deep water and, except at the change of tide, there is a good current moving through there. There is very little current, I imagine, in Key West Bight.

I just a little while ago left the most interesting government meeting ever – BOCC on grinder pump vs. gravity systems. The BOCC got a big taste of what Keys country folks feel about things, nothing like the city folk shit you see at KW city commission meetings or other BOCC meetings. I imagine you can read Tim O’Hara’s article on it tomorrow morning. I might have to back fill some to get flavor up to snuff.

Ciaosky

Meanwhilesky,

Popeye

Banks Prevatt’s report of that county commission meeting in Key West:

To All:

For those of you that were at the BOCC meeting, you know the story. This is for the ones that could not make it.

We won a small skirmish, but lost the war. The folks on Puerto Bello and it’s side streets will get gravity. Supposedly the grinder lines in your streets will be vacated. A couple sections of Big Pine will be switched to gravity. I was so disgusted, I did not take notes. We will get specifics to the Big Pine folks over the weekend.

Basically, all else was lost.

Let’s take a day off, no steering committee meeting Saturday. The letter/complaint filed with DEP/FKAA is still in the system. Let’s see if that starts to surface and plan to meet Saturday a week Jan 8. We will need to discuss potential legal action.

Thanks, all, for a lot of energy.

Banks

Tim O’Hara’s report on the county commission meeting, my interspersed thoughts in italics:

Saturday, February 1, 2014
Cudjoe gravity sewer grows by 201
BY TIMOTHY O’HARA Citizen Staff
tohara@keysnews.com

The Monroe County Commission changed the design of a Lower Keys sewer project so that now 201 more homes will be served by gravity sewer collection systems.

However, the commission said “no” to 714 other property owners who wanted gravity instead of the lesser desired low-pressure systems.

The 201 gravity collection systems will add another $2.3 million to an already roughly $160 million Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System, which will serve residents and businesses from Sugarloaf Key to Big Pine Key. If the county was to place all 915 homes on gravity collection systems, the cost of the project would have increased by $17.5 million, county records show.

Only commissioners Danny Kolhage and Heather Carruthers supported having all 915 homes put on gravity collection systems.

County Mayor Sylvia Murphy and commissioners George Neugent and David Rice could not support that increase in cost, and also said it would not be fair to other communities in the Keys as the money is coming from state funding and sales tax revenue.

The first priority all along was to sewer the Keys, as mandated by Tallahassee after the Keys were declared an area of critical concern due to the local governments down here, county and various cities, not going to central sewers to save the sea and reef from human waste pollution. The other things the county wanted to buy with the money that came down from Tallahassee and the 1 % percent infrastructure sales tax were supposed to wait until the Keys were sewered. Put money in politician’s hands and what happens? Voila, visions of pet projects swimming in their heads. So, they order the least expensive sewer system they think they can get away with, so they can get their pet projects paid for. The next major project, which did not get put on the front burner, was 500 polluted canals in the Keys, caused by them being dug way too deep by developers, with the county and local city’s permission, and the tide does not change out the water in the canals and they are foul and will remain so until the county and cities put them at the top of their spending priority list. Meanwhile, the county allocated, but has not spent, $5 million for its share of the polluted canals, figure 10 times that needed to fix all the polluted canals, while the county fixes up Old Seven Mile Bridge and buys a private marina  on Key Largo, referred to at the meeting yesterday as “Sylvia’s marina,” and both did she beam. Apparently, none of the five commissioners figured out yet that the Keys have two assets, the sea and the reef, and as they go, the Keys go. They seemed yesterday more concerned about spending money to defend the Keys against rising seas caused by global warming after they are dead and buried.

Kolhage, Carruthers and Rice did support adding the 201 homes to the list of properties served by gravity systems.

Because these areas had about the same exact situation Walt Drabinski’s area had, gravity on one side of a street, grinders on the other side, or something about as non-sensible. All along FKAA had said it preferred gravity everywhere gravity was feasible, but the County Commission would not provide the money for gravity everywhere feasible.

More than two dozen people attended Friday’s meeting to show their support for adding more homes to gravity collection systems. They wore shirts that read “Dump the Pumps,” referring to the grinder pumps that would be used in the low-pressure system.

100 or more people were there, not all were wearing red T-shirts, all were opposed to grinder pumps.

The residents argued the installation of the grinder pumps would be an environmental disaster, saying the pumps will fail during tropical storms and hurricanes when the power goes out. The pumps require electricity to run, and without it, the grinder pumps will cease operation. Raw sewage will overflow into the environment, or back up into homes, critics claim.

The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, which has partnered with the county on the project, argued that it would have back-up generators placed at pumping stations after big storms to power the collection systems.

FKAA officials had no answer whatsoever to an extended power outage following a Georges or Wilmia hurricane event which shuts down 1,600 or so grinder pumps on individual proproperties, other than all property owners with grinder pumps should buy and install back up generators.

Residents also argued the installation of a gravity system may cost more up front, but the ongoing maintenance of the low-pressure system with grinder pumps will be more expensive over time.

Big Pine Key resident Tom Wilmers argued that he is hearing conflicting information about the effectiveness of the grinder pumps and low-pressure systems. He asked for a second opinion from an outside engineering firm.

“I don’t know who to believe,” Wilmers said. “I am worried about 10 years from now.”

The audience laughed among themselves, as Wlimers acted like he didn’t know who to believe. His entire delivery was tongue-in-cheek; he didn’t believe for a heartbeat that he could trust FKAA’s and Monroe County’s goons, and everyone in the audience, except perhaps Tim O’Hara, knew it.

County and aqueduct authority staff members argued the system will survive a major storm and be effective.

However, aqueduct authority board members have said the agency would replace the grinders pumps and low-pressure system with more costly gravity sewage collection systems if the county provides more money.

———————-

pelican pooping

For readers new to this shit squabble in paradise, all along it was known some properties were too remote to get gravity sewer systems, and those properties would get grinder pumps.

Despite final vote’s inevitable outcome, by many multiples this was the most entertaining county commission meeting I ever attended. The county commissioners were treated to hearing from constituents who did not wear Land’s End costumes, who minced no words, who did not suck up to elected officials, and who never heard of Mother May I, pretty please or politically correct.

County Commissioner/Mayor Sylvia Murhpy and County Commissoner George Neugent

Sylvia Murphygeorge-neugent.jpg

made horses asses of themselves, and got called out on it by citizen speakers and from the audience.

County Commissioner David Rice

David Rice

did his usual on the one hand, on the other hand hocus pocus.

County Commissioner Heather Carruthers

Heather Carruthers

nearly grasped the situation, but the best she finally came up with in the end was she voted with Danny Kolhage

Danny Kolhage

because she was convinced the money was there to put close to 1,000 more individual properties on gravity.

Danny was steadfast and clear, but not even he addressed the obvious flaw in the entire plan: the Goerges/Wilma level storm which knocks out power for 2-3 weeks. Grinder pumps don’t do shit about shit if there is no electricity, and no way in heaven or hell FKAA can do a thing about 1,700 or so homes with grinder pumps not having electricity.

The wastewater treatment engineering consultant used by FKAA “testified” that the sewer system he designed was based on the amount of money the county commission had told FKAA could be spent. Meaning, the system was reversed engineered from the amount of money avialable. Money was the only consideration; the environment, the sole reason for the system being installed, was not a controlling factor in the design.

This came to light after Danny Kolhage repeatedly asked FKAA’s consulting engineer if grinder pumps were as good as or better than gravity, and the engineer repeatedly did not answer Danny, but went off on hocus pocus tangents, until finally Danny asked the consulting engineer if he was a lawyer, because it was clear he was not going to answer Danny’s question. Then, the consulting engineer said he was given only so much money to work with, and what he designed was the best system for that amount of money.

Abbreviating what I said during my citizen comments, I told the commissooners how I knew they knew grinder pumps were not as good environmentally or costwise as gravity.

First, after Walt Drabinski sued the county, the county commissioners gave Walt gravity wherever he wanted it. If the county commissioners had truly believed grinder pumps were cheaper and as good enviornmentally as gravity, they would have given Walt grinder pumps everywhere, and no gravity anywhere.

Second, if the county commissioners had truly believed grinder pumps were cheaper than and as good environmentally as gravity, they would have required grinder pumps everywhere in the Cudjoe regional system. For if county commissoners did not do that, it would be malfeasance, for which they could be prosecuted individually for wasting taxpayer money.

I don’t guess there is any way to stop being a lawyer after you are one.

After the final vote and the meeting adjourned, several citizens told me that they hope I move back up there and run for county commission this year. I said, if they had gotten me elected in 2006, or even in 2010, this problem never would have happened, but that was history and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I also told them that they had waited way too long to protest getting grinder pumps.

Several citizens said George Neugent is finished politically, toast. Cudjoe regional lies totally in his voting district, even though he lives in Marathon, where Davie Rice also lives. Some citizens were not happy to hear me say the grinder pump supplier had opened an office in Marathon and was storing grinder pumps in a wharehouse there. Some citizens opined what you can imagine – payoff, backroom dealing.

Tim Ohara’s report of the meeting demonstrates the flair we have come to expect from the Citizen. Before the meeting started, Tim and I talked a bit. He asked if I was going to speak, and I said yes. He said, then I am not a journalist, because journalists cannot speak at events they cover; they cannot put in their own views. I said I do both. Ever the purist, Tim said I can’t do that and be a journalist, I am a blogger. That, too, I said.

Dang am I glad I don’t work for a mainstream newspaper. I’d break out in all sorts of psychosomatic symptoms caused by my not calling ‘em as I see ‘em.

Sloan at Coco's

Sloan Bashinsky
keysmyhome@hotmail.com

About Sloan

Darn, that would take a while. Try the autobiographical pages in the header. Ditto for header menu pages at www.goodmorningbirmingham.com. Hatched and raised there, eventually I ran away from home. Here's a short list: Born 1942; male; single; accused of all sorts of imaginable and unimaginable things, perhaps some true. Live on Key West of Weird asteroid. Publish something most days on this website, been at that since July 2007. That's heaps of catch-up reading, probably not recommended.
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