wild queen conch, now “protected” in the Florida Keys
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Email yesterday from me to the District Director (Ft. Myers) of Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
From: sloan bashinsky [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:41 AM
To: Iglehart, Jon
Subject: fyi – report on yesterday’s water quality meeting
Good morning, Jon -
Nice meeting you yesterday, thanks for various opportunities to ask questions and to speak later in the afternoon, and thanks for hearing me out and/or putting up with me. I don’t envy your task of cleaning up all those canals among other epics you/DEP are undertaking and will undertake.
Below is a teaser with links to what I published today. The first part of the article is my report, obviously abbreviated, on the parts of yesterday’s meeting, which I felt would help my readers come up to speed somewhat and relate it back to prior articles on Keys water environment.
Please let me know of any mistakes you see in what I reported from the meeting, and feel free to provide more information, if you wish, which I can share with my readers.
Subject: RE: fyi – report on yesterday’s water quality meeting
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2014 15:22:38 +0000
Thanks for coming yesterday and asking good questions and providing commentary/information that is very useful to the Committee and its mission. I hope you will be able to attend future meetings, held every six months.
I wrote back:
Subject: RE: fyi – report on yesterday’s water quality meeting
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2014 09:35:57 -0500
Thanks, imagine I will attend future meetings.
During last year’s war in Key West over dredging the channel wider, to enable bigger cruise ships to call on Key West, at one of the forums on the referendum, a local physician representing the Key West Chamber of Commerce, which wanted the referendum passed, said “the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships are calling on Key West.” Well, lots of us jumped on that, and the doctor denied at the next forum that he had said it, even though it had been reported in the Key West Citizen that he had said it, and even though it was on a video made of the forum by the Chamber. The video went up on the Chamber’s website for about an hour, then was taken down. The Chamber refused requests for copies of the video, claiming it was the Chamber’s proprietary property. The referendum was defeated 73%-27% by Key West voters.
Sailors down here say cruise ships dump their wastewater beyond the 3-mile limit. It is said cruise ships dump the kitchen refuse after grinding it up into something like chum. It is said the US and Florida turn a blind eye.
In same vein, the text of email last year from DeeVon Quirolo, co-founder of Reef Relief:
“The most important thing is that the Keys is a NO DISCHARGE ZONE and we were the ones who led the effort to make it so. “The current situation is that cruise ships routinely dump thousands of gallons of partially treated concentrated waste in the ocean outside of the reef on their way to Key West from Port Everglades. They run just outside the reef to avoid the offshore counter current of the Gulfstream, which is why the Area to be Avoided was established by the International Maritime Organization to keep them far enough off critical areas where many large ships ran aground the reef. When I was on the Cruise Ship Task Force for the City, we tried running a sample of cruise ship waste through the sewage treatment plant, but it was so anoxic that it would have shut down the anerobic action of the plant by depleting all the oxygen needed. Plus it was in salt, not fresh water, so that was an additional negative factor that reduced the potential for the biological treatment that is employed at the plant.” All the best, DeeVon”
I hope, Jon, that you can speak/correspond with DeeVon about that, and with Brian La Pointe, Phd, Marine Biology (or something similar) about farm chemical runoff effect on Bay of Florida and the Florida Keys reef. I personally met with Brian last year on Big Pine Key, where he has a residence. Back then, I lived on the next key down, Little Torch Key. Brian said the farm chemical runoff oozing through the Everglades into the Bay of Florida caused the red tide in the Bay of Florida. When the chemicals drifted down to the Florida Keys, that killed most of the reef. Brian said nobody believed him for a long time, thought he was crazy, but eventually he prevailed and that’s why the chemical runoff stopped being dumped into the Everglades, and started being dumped into Lake Okeechobee, and from there into an east-west canal, which carried the chemicals to the east and west coasts of Florida and killed the water vegetation on which Manatee feed, but excited grown of red seaweed (red algae), and the manatee tried to eat the red algae and started getting sick and dying. Thus the move to return to sending the farm chemical runoff back into the Everglades, from which it will get into the Bay of Florida and migrate down to the Keys, contaminating the Marine Sanctuary – again, killing more coral – again, including the undersea coral farms.
Also, it is well known in the Florida Keys by professional divers and physicians, medical clinics and hospitals, that if you go into Keys waters with a scratch or nick or abrasion your skin, you very well will contract MRSA, a flesh-eating bacteria which has mutated and resists and even is impervious to antibiotics, and is fatal if not arrested. I attached photos of MRSA infections. It is generally believed down here that MRSA contracted in salt water is the result of water pollution. After I had three horrible MRSA abscesses carved out of tender parts of my hide in 2003 by a local surgeon, Michael Klitenick, M.D., he told me that I could do anything I wanted but go into the ocean. I since read in the Key West Citizen a comment by a local physician, who had run the free medical clinic down here and treated MRSA all the time, that MRSA is pandemic in the Florida Keys. Thus, in the Marine Sanctuary.
Nice Valentine’s Day conversation
Distant in-law Ron Kennerly, who used to vacation frequently in Key West, continued his and my discussion in yesterday’s pollution comes in many forms: Florida Keys canals, Key West homeless policy, titanic national (and global) denial of epic proportions, personal family dynamics post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
Well said sir, and as usual, right on target. Them Bubba Conch’s have hard shells and hard heads. Your approach is the common sense approach and the humane approach. The attitude in the KW establishment and police force is beyond unfortunate. Someone or some group needs to push the investigation of the death of the one-day tourist. It would seem, at the least, that the gentleman’s civil rights were trampled. I cannot believe the State Atty. General is not all over this. In my mind, this is worse than the Trayvon incident. And the main stream media…??? no where to be seen. Charlotte, NC has just indicted a police officer for shooting an unarmed person who was running toward the officer seeking help. Fired 12 shots, hit him 10 times. Police chief supports the charges against the officer. I am surprised that the KW police chief is not doing the right thing. I think that is a decision that he will live to regret for years to come. Regards, Ron
Morning, Ron -
Am not surprised at how Chief Lee and the KWPD have handled the Emiers case. As a homeless tourist in Key West, I got a slightly different view of law enforcement down here. Living here and hearing lots of stories and seeing a few stories myself, after I was homeless, also provided a slightly different view.
Got an inquiry from a woman living in Lakeland, about her moving down here to be homeless and try to start all over. Hers and mine will be in my post today, under yours and mine, at www.goodmorningkeywest.com. I need maybe another 30 minutes to get that post all put together.
There is a new Key West the Newspaper article on the Charles Eimer’s case today, a partial autopsy report – we may never get a full autopsy report, for reasons stated in the blue paper article.
Sure looks to me it was a miracle, for sho nuff, that Eimers’ body was not cremated before the coroner got it. I wonder if that caused Chief Lee and his troops, and the city commissioners and mayor and lots of people down here, to consider maybe angels of the Lord might have had a hand in Eimers body not being cremated and somebody just happening to be at the seen (scene) of the death to take a video of the guns-drawn apprehension of a face-down in the sand soon to be dead suspected homeless man living in his vehicle?
Here’s the www.thebluepaper.com teaser with links to this week’s uplifting equal protection and justice for all article:
Charles Eimers Preliminary Autopsy Report ReleasedBY ARNAUD AND NAJA GIRARD
Monroe County Medical Examiner E. Hunt Scheuerman, MD on Thursday released his preliminary objective report following the autopsy of Charles Eimers.
Charles Eimers, 61, tourist for a day in our island Paradise, died on Thanksgiving day while in the hands of Key West police officers. The arrest took place on South Beach in front of multiple witnesses who reported a scene of violence: tasers being used repeatedly on a man handcuffed facedown in the sand and tackled by 5 or 6 police officers. Eyes bloodshot, face blue, nose and mouth caked up with sand, Eimers stopped breathing and became limp before dying a week later at Lower Florida Keys Medical Center after being taken off life support.
Initial police department communications indicated that Eimers had suddenly collapsed and had doubtless died due to a pre-existing heart condition, which somehow led a doctor at the hospital to declare Eimers’ passing a death from “natural causes”.
This initial explanation is now clearly contradicted by the preliminary autopsy report. Ten ribs were fractured, the neurons in his brain had turned [...full article]
You also might “enjoy” the racial discrimination article above it in today’s blue paper; I personally know the featured family:
* FEATURED STORY *
Blue Lagoon Children: A Hard Landing Into Key West’s Racial DivideBY ARNAUD AND NAJA GIRARD
Naomi and Bhajan grew up on boats anchored behind Wisteria Island. Like many other kids living on the anchorage, they explored the island, sang for tips at Mallory Square, and rowed back and forth in Kayaks to boat sleepovers. When Hurricane Wilma sunk most boats, the families moved onto Wisteria Island for a time. With no TV or computer, Bhajan and Naomi became avid readers and, of course, in keeping with the tradition of their bohemian lifestyle – they never went to school – until this year that is.
In 2013 they both decided that at 16 it was time to start wearing shoes and to meddle with those “house kids”. They both enrolled in Key West High School. But, this new experience was met with very differing results. At this point it is important to mention that Bhajan is white and Naomi is black (at least half black; her father is steel band musician and singer Toko Irie.)
The reader is invited to have a look at the video of Naomi and Bhajan’s interview below – shot not long after their individual meetings with a Key Wet High School guidance counselor. Neither of them had any school records, they hadn’t taken any entrance exams, yet Bhajan was offered and encouraged to sign up for as many “honors classes” as he could while Naomi, the black girl, was told that under no circumstances could she be placed in any honors classes. [...full article]
A black Key West Conch friend once told me that white Key West Conchs don’t view black people born in Key West as Conchs. There is a white Mason’s Lodge here, and a black Mason’s Lodge, tracing back to when racial discrimination in Key West was even more hidden in plain view.
I think maybe something might be brewing in Birmingham, given recent dreams and my being pushed to write and publish those two posts. The father of my first cuz Leo, whose daughter married your grandson, gets brief but interesting (it was interesting to me) mention in today’s Birmingham post. Good thing, for me, they don’t have a state mental hospital down here in Key West, other than the entire city is one
SLOAN – thank you for sharing the B’ham Sloan Young information. Really very interesting. I hope your daughters read this post. They should, I think it would help them understand better the type of man their Father is.
I was sued by my stepsons when their mother, “The Princess” Phyllis passed away. Undue influence was the charge. Could not have been further from the truth, all about money and all about they did not like what she had done with her will. Sad event, during a sad time. To get away from that nonsense, I repaired to KW for a couple of weeks to clear my head. That is when I realized that KW is not a place for me to visit by myself…. too many memories of good times and the stark reality that those times are gone forever.
A woman wrote to me under the subject, “soon to be homeless”:
Hello Mr. Bashinsky,
Ran across your column while researching homelessness in Key West.
From what I have read, you seem to be very knowledgeable about Key West and people that have nowhere else to go.
I am soon to be one of ‘those people’.
Have done some research on where homeless women can go when there is nowhere else or anyone else that wants them.
Have chosen Key West, as there is the Samuel House for Women to assist women to be able to get back their dignity.
And wish to remain in my home state of Florida.
I have so many questions that I would like to have your advise on, if you would be so kind to give.
My Plan B is to get on the Greyhound bus leaving out of Lakeland going to Key West next week, but the bus arrives in Key West at 10:30pm and from what I’ve read, one would be arrested if just seating at the bus stop waiting until morning to be able to walk to the Samuel House.
So, here is a question; where/what would a mature, non-Keys disease woman go/do to be safe at 10:30pm in Key West?
Hi, Karen -
Thanks for writing.
Key West is a bad place for homeless people. The city government has ordered city police to make homeless people miserable, find any excuse to put them in jail, do all possible to cause them to leave the area.
You can legally hang out on city sidewalks at night, as long as you do not fall asleep. You cannot be in city parks past 11 p.m., which is when all city parks close until 7 a.m. the next morning. That includes the public bathrooms in the city parks. Stay off of private residential property. You can hang out in bars, coffee shops, if open, if they let you. Buying a soda or something to eat should help.
Florida Keys Outreach Coalition also has a program for women. They are in same housing project as Samuel’s House, just off Duck Avenue.
There is an overnight city shelter called KOTS, which has separate showers and dormitories for men and women. It’s on Stock Island, the key just above Key West. However, I think it stops letting people in at 9:30 p.m., and sometimes it is full before then.
There are city buses which run near KOTS, and there used to be, perhaps still is, a city bus which ran near Samuel’s House and Florida Keys Outreach Coalition’s facilities near Duck Avenue. Best bet, buy a used bicycle as soon as possible after arriving, because that’s the easiest and best way to get around Key West. Figure $50 for the bike, plus you will need a lock and front and rear lights for night use.
If you get into Samuel’s House or FKOC, you will be able to store a reasonable amount of personal belongings there. There is no storage of belongings at KOTS. You have to take everything with you when you leave in the morning, and there is no guarantee you will not have something stolen while you are there. Any money you have, sleep with it in your clothing, say in a blue jeans pocket where it will be harder for someone to get at while you are asleep.
Greyhound has two buses a day from its Miami West station heading to Key West. The first bus leaves Miami West maybe around 7 a.m. and arrives Key West around 11:30 a.m., as I recall. The second bus leaves Miami West in the late afternoon and gets to Key West around 10:30 p.m., as I recall.
When I came down on the late bus, I walked over to the Youth Hostel on South Street, which is not far from where the bus stops on Simonton Street in Key West before turning back toward the airport where the Greyhound station is in Key West. I think the hostel rate is $40 or so a night, if ou stay in a dormitory. That’s a late check in time, this is high season, it might be full, but I think you can make advance reservation, if you have a credit card.
The airport is a long way from downtown and a long way from KOTS and a long way from Samuel’s House and FKOC, because you have to go around the island to get to the airport due to wetlands between it and the rest of the island. Simonton Street is a long way from Samuel’s House and FKOC. Traveling light is advised. Backpack best, or a shoulder suitcase. Drag along suitcases more problematic.
Perhaps there is way you can overnight in the Orlando Greyhound bus station and catch a different bus to Miami West, so you can catch the morning bus to Key West, instead of the afternoon bus?
Miami is under a federal court order to treat homeless people like human beings. Key West is not under such a court order. I think Miami has shelter programs for homeless women. You might like Miami better, although if you come down here and get into Samuel’s House or FKOC, you might like that okay. I would not care to live in Miami myself.
Hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions.
Thanks so much for the information, even though it wasn’t of a positive nature about Key West.So here I am, a non-drug user, able to pass any drug screen, verifiable-excellent references and just want to get employment to be able to make a new start in Key West, but because I don’t have a place to go to for a few hours, I would be arrested?
So, if I just sat at the bus station long enough a KW officer would show up (or do they post an Officer in the parking lot at the time the bus comes in, just watching and waiting) and arrest me for violation of whatever law, at least I would have a place to stay right? How long does it take to get out of the KW jail? Or would they show mercy for an older honest person? Maybe they would let me just wait in the main lobby? (yeah right) What a shame it is, that there are folks like me, wanting to become employed, but will get punished because they come into town late at night with no where to go to seek assistance until the next morning.
There seems to me that there are a lot of businesses hiring all the time, but are unable to due to not enough qualified employees available?
As for staying at the Hostel, the website says they close like at 9pm.
And was unable to find the correct information about the Greyhound bus coming to KW in the AM, only in the late afternoon or evening.
Hi again, Karen -
Two Greyhound buses come down here from Miami daily. The Greyhound station does not remain open all the time, it sometimes is closed even during the day time. The airport terminal and waiting area next door does remain open all the time (I think). I will not paint a rosy picture. Coming down here homeless is a crap shoot, regardless of who you are. Check out his week’s edition (just out, it is published every Friday) of Key West the newspaper - www.thebluepaper.com. The second article on the Charles Eimers case. Try this link:
This is, I think, the blue paper’s 7th article on the Eimers’ case, which but for the blue paper would have been swept under the rug.
Eimers was suspected by a KWPD officer of living in his PT Cruiser, in which he had driven to Key West from up norther thinking he might wish to live here. Eimers had only just retired. Had money, a pension. He was dead shortly after being suspected of being homeless.
New homeless people arrive in Key West regularly and are not killed or put in jail right away. If you are put in jail for sleeping outside at night, expect 29 days and getting out for time served and court costs.
I do not think you will be put in jail for being on Duval Street, if you are not asleep, if you are not panhandling, if you are not drinking booze from an open container. You might be harassed, but probably not jailed.
I believe there is a way for you to get to Greyhound’s Miami West terminal in time to catch the morning bus to Key West. It might mean a long lay over in Orlando, or Tampa, or Jacksonville, but I am pretty sure you can do it that way. You need to speak with Greyhound about that. Go to the Greyhound station in Lakeland, if one is there. Or call Greyhound. Or try to figure it out online.
I do not recommend a 10:30 p.m. arrival in Key West, based on what you have written.
I don’t know where you got the impression that Key West is a good place to be homeless. It has not been a good place for many years to be homeless. I do not see that changing, other than it might get to be a worse place to be homeless.
You will not freeze to death here, though. There is a soup kitchen which serves a good meal daily – 4 p.m.
And, there is FKOC and Samuel’s House, for starting over. But you have to live by their rules, and I do not think you can have a night job and stay there. Their night curfew is strictly enforced. They require clean urine. They administer random urine tests. If your urine is dirty, they kick you out immediately. Even if it’s night time. Even if it’s raining.
Samuel’s House and FKOC may or may not having waiting lists for applicants to enter those programs. Anyone can get into KOTS, first come, first serve, but I have noticed that the monitors sometimes let people they know in the back of the line get in ahead of people in front of the line.