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Yesterday from an old Vanderbilt fraternity brother, who then received mention in the Key West Weed part of yesterday’s trapped in “paradise” – various Key West sitcoms, and one Southern California escapee post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
FYI. One of our finest brothers. Bob had been dealing with cancer for a while, declining to undergo chemotherapy.
It was an important night in my life when Bob and I double-dated to the movies and I met his date, Jeanne Elmore. When Jeanne was in the final days of her battle with cancer, Bob came by and spent some private time with her but by this time, she was pretty much unconscious. He was crying when I escorted him to the door and as I remember, said simply, “Thank you. Life is so damn unfair.”
Bob’s widow Sharron is a brilliant research professor at VU, as you can see from the bio below (terrible photo). Her work played an important role in the development of Viagra. I met their daughter Heather several times, a very bright, attractive young lady. My heart aches for the family.
Thanks, Paul, for letting me know. I really liked Bob, but knew not of his connection with your KA sweetheart and then wife Jeanne, nor of where his life went after Vanderbilt. I’ve heard plenty of bad stories about chemotherapy, which left me feeling I never would use it. Bob struck me as very tough physically and mentally. I learned not all that long ago that Viagra was developed as a heart medication, then its “side effect” was discovered and the rest, so to say, is history. I wrote about your beloved lady Mary Jane yesterday at goodmorningkeywest.com, and more about her today there, after I get today’s post put together and published in a little while. Ciao, Sloan
Paul wrote back:
Yes, he was tough–and gentle.
Finished Heavy Wait today. Quite a tale!
Hi, Paul –
Yes, Bob was gentle. Life isn’t fair a lot of time. That theme made its way into Heavy Wait. Maybe because it had already made its way into to putative author. When I gave the book to you in Harpoon Harry’s, we discussed you writing something about it in your own way, and you would post it as a review at Amazon.com. Maybe other KA brothers and ladies still among the living might like to see what you write about it. [Kappa Alpha Order’s creed is Dieu et les dames (God and the women)]
Wish you could have been at the city commission meeting the other night, when I lobbied for Mary Jane. Judging from the mayor, city commissioners, city staff and the citizen audience’s faces and chuckles, it was at least entertaining. Key West Weed would be a hell of a brand name; instant name recognition world-wide. A local cottage industry, diversification from so much reliance on tourism, which the city licensed under the Key West Weed name and received a royalty from the weed farmers and exporters to Moscow, Bejing, Singapore, etc. Maybe majoring in Economics and minoring in Business at Vanderbilt didn’t go entirely for naught.
Oh, by the way, Heavy Wait: A Strange Tale now is available in trade paperback and in kindle at www.amazon.com, and in Spanish at www.amazon.com.es. Spanish-speaking people down here told me it was translated into Castilian Spanish, and they felt that made it more available to Spanish-speaking people, than if it had been translated into Cuban Spanish, for example, or Mexican Spanish, etc.
My younger daughter Alice, now an eye surgeon, majored in Spanish, spent a year in Spain as part of her Bryn Mawr curriculum, was dreaming in Spanish back then, she said. In medical school, she accompanied her professors doing pro bono medical work in Spanish communities, as their interpreter.
When Alice had asked me what I thought about her majoring in Spanish, I had said to go for it, it would open the Americas and Spain to her; she always could go back to school and get her science requirements, if she ever decided she really did wish to be a doctor. And that’s what happened.
Key Largo Attorney Joe Miklas wrote yesterday about something I have covered from time to time, mostly at www.goodmorningbirmingham.com, the geographic location of the situation:
Sloan—Sorry we missed you at Dennis’ party—
P. O. Box 366
Islamorada, FL Keys 33036
Me, too, Joe; I had hoped to see you at Dennis and Mirna’s party; I suppose we ended up at different tables and in different conversations; hope all okay with you.
I had heard from an Alabama amiga that Roger Shuler was let out with conditions that he take down some of what was on his websites. I told Roger’s wife Carol months ago that Roger had won that war, so he ought to do whatever the judge asked of him, so he could get out of jail. I told Carol, if only Roger had passwords to his Legal Schnauzer blog [legalschnauzer.blogspot.com], then she could get the passwords from him, or get someone else who knew how to do it, to get into Legal Schnauzer and take down what the judge had ordered taken down. I told Carol to tell Roger I said no way Bob Riley [former Alabama Governor] family came out ahead by jailing Roger, given the widespread publicity Roger got in Alabama and beyond after he was jailed, and then held in jail, and held in jail, which caused even more people to seek to find out what he had done to piss off the Riley family and that judge so much. Dumbshititis ain’t con/refined just to the Florida Keys politicians, lawyers and lay people, it don’t seem.
Key West and Panama ex-pat amiga Christine Russell continued her and my email conversation reported in yesterday’s post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
Subject: mayors and friends
I am not sure I would wish a mayoral victory on any of my friends.
However given the too numerous to mention stagnant ‘projects’ and problems facing the city – we seem to be at a very critical time for leadership that can bridge personalities and can reach out to all to work together. It is time to MOVE FORWARD. I have commented many times that we do not seem to resolve any of our problems. They just keep piling up to the point that nothing is accomplished and nothing or little gets done, then everyone is frustrated – city employees, tax paying citizens, and elected officials. It is such a shame. KW is a small, little town that should be a shinning example of good government, and happy people living in paradise. So how to you think we measure up on either of those yardsticks?
Ciao from Panama which is a long way from perfect, but is moving forward at lightening speed with a slow growth rate of 8% – it has been 10 – 12%…just wait until the new canal opens…and our subway
Your friend –
“we seem to be at a very critical time for leadership that can bridge personalities and can reach out to all to work together.”
Last fall, I tried to talk [City Commissioner] Teri Johnston
into running for mayor, and she said thanks but no thanks, she felt being a city commissioner was the office where she needed to be to be most effective.
I remember asking recently announced mayor candidate Craig Cates over Christmas dinner at the Yacht Club in 2008: What was his campaign theme? He said he hoped we could all get along. I told him: good luck. After being elected in 2009, he quickly learned I wasn’t kidding. What puzzled me was: How he ever imagined everyone would all get along? Was he from another planet?
I think how it went out on Truman Waterfront for so many years, and what they have planned for it now, is a good reflection of just how disjointed and jumbled the city government has been and is. I have no illusion that I would change the way the city government operates, if I were city mayor; I’d be certifiable if I believed I could make that happen.
What I imagine I would change is: the city government would be come a lot more interesting to observe.
Maybe more later.
Kurt Wagner wrote re Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting, my thoughts in [italics]:
MORE RANDOM THOUGHTS
I liked the referee shirt. [worn by City Attorney Shawn Smith during the early part of the meeting]
The prayer. Bless the city council? Why? [the minister also asked God to give the mayor and the city commissioners wisdom]
Proclamations are just a time to pat each other on the back.
No applause after citizen comments? Why? Don’t the care what other citizens think? [maybe not during a campaign season, when one of the citizen speakers, who was getting lots of applause at city city commission meetings, is running against the incumbent mayor who presides over city commission meetings?]
Yaniz on affordable housing. He has no clue what’s affordable. Ask Bashinski Fats. [if a waitress can afford the rent on her income, it’s affordable]
Why pay out of towners to plan the park? $1.8 M in fees? [maybe because local architects are working hard for developers? Or chair the Historic Architectural Review Committee? Or might disagree with the Truman Waterfront Advisory Board and the City Commission?]
Who’s going to pay for the park? Rossi was spot on. [the taxpayers, it’s gonna be a fee park, disguised as a free park]
Do you expect the commission to accomplish anything? The[y] can’t even get a working clock! [they accomplished approving a park the taxpayers will pay for]
Rossi needs a longer neck on his microphone or needs to lose weight so he can get close enough to hear.
Is Lopez backing away for Bahama Village? [running, Clayton
was worried about being drawn and quartered, if he backed Bahama Village and the taxpayers-paid new park didn’t get built]
Wardlow doesn’t speak.
Cates and Rossi having a pissing match.
Lot’s of “I don’t know” from the dais.
If the city runs the EMT’s like the PD, people will die.
Wardlow speaks!!!!! [Wardlow
usually has something important to say when he speaks]
Cost of running the city running the EMT’s is basic cost accounting. Not rocket science. [finally, the fire fighters union stepped in and is doing its own study on the city fire department assuming EMT duties; the fire department should have been the main player/adviser from the get go, since it was going to have to provide the EMT services; Wardlow, former Fire Chief, knows this, is the only person on the City Commission who can steer this situation sanely]
Yaniz thinks homeless are sexual predators. [I thought it was the Sheriff, or the folks running the juvenile justice program, but Yaniz seemed aligned with them; I never saw or heard of a homeless person threatening any child or mainstream person sexually in Key West, but I heard of it happening among homeless people against homeless women, although some of the homeless women were looking for it, and some of them were not looking for it, I also heard]
Key West Conchs got rich on dope. [please don’t name names, that might be inconvenient]
and the biggest lie of the night once again goes to Yaniz: “income stream has faded away” NO!! It was wasted by the commission. [yes, and no, and yes, see my further thoughts below Tony Yaniz’ reply]
St. Thomas, USVI
soon to return to Key West
City Commissioner Tony Yaniz replied:
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2014 11:36:33 -0400
Subject: Re: City Council Meeting April Fools
Hey, nice post, except, you have no clue about the “income stream!’ The subject was reiterating the comment by Commissioner Rossi about losing the Marina which was to be the income stream for maintain the Truman Waterfront park! Selective hearing? All in all, enjoyed your recap!
My further thoughts, this will take a while to tell:
Far as I can tell, nobody in the city government has any clue (as opposed to pie in sky) about an income stream for Truman Waterfront.
before and planned
After saying he saw no income stream, Mark Rossi said he had been for the park until the marina was taken back by the Navy, and since the marina was the income-producing part of the new park, he saw no income stream.
I never saw an income stream from the marina. I saw a mega-yacht marina (first envisioned by the Spottswoods) as a disaster waiting to happen to the city, and said as much at a City Commission meeting several years ago. I said the Spottswoods wanted to do it with little financial risk to themselves, mostly using other people’s money, and I figured when the mega yacht revenues didn’t pan out, the city would end up running the mega yacht marina and paying the note, like the Spottswoods’ partner at the Beachside super posh condo development had done, I had heard from someone who ought to have known. Sometime prior, after learning of the Beachside development plan, before it was approved, I had told the City Commission not to approve it, because it would not pan out as envisioned.
I published some months ago that it looked to me that the Navy saved the city’s hind end by nixing the mega yacht marina and taking the marina back altogether. Otherwise, the City Commission and the Spottswood mega yacht joint venture would be well underway full speed ahead into a Titanic result.
That somehow reminds me of the senior assisted living retirement project people wanted to put on Truman Waterfront, lobbied heavily for by Peter Batty and Ed Swift, using free city land to make it work financially for a private (profit or non-profit) developer, even though it was known by the promoters that there were not enough seniors in Key West to fill the facility after it was built. Peter Batty said that at one of the public meetings, in the NOA theater, as I recall. City Commissioner Jimmy Weekly said at Tuesday night’s Commission meeting that he didn’t see the Truman Waterfront naysayers today at the run-up meetings back then. I attended a few run-up meetings. Enough to see it was going to get into SNAFU terrain.
I kept hearing that I had upset a lot of elders during the 2007 mayoral, because I opposed the elder facility being given to a developer, who would market it to anyone he could find to live there. The referendum advertising was that the elder project would for Key West seniors. Misrepresentation. Fraud. Bait and switch. Besides that, the elder facility promoters did not have a developer waiting in the wings, and Truman Waterfront logistically was the least desirable place for an elder facility due to remoteness, traffic and distance to what elders most needed: doctors, hospital, grocery stores, shopping malls.
In all of that context, the failure of Bahama Conch Community Land Trust’s piece of the pie in that sky turned out not all that significant; if the elder facility and the mega yacht marina been built, BCCLT’s demise would have turned out the lesser of evils. Even so, given the only reason, apparently, the Navy gave Truman Waterfront to the city was to help Bahama Village, I say those 6.6 acres originally intended for Bahama Village should remain with Bahama Village to chart its own course with, for better or for worse, as I stated at the recent Truman Waterfront Advisory Board meeting. That’s the honorable thing for the city to do.
I agree with Tony Yaniz about the Boys & Girls Club needing a stable location to call home, on Truman Waterfront, or somewhere in the city. However, the posh artificial gardens now slated to go in on most of Truman Waterfront, and the amphitheater, and the multiple-purpose sports field, and other planned improvements out there look like alligators to me – they eat money. I hope it all turns out beautifully and makes money, but I will not bet on it making money.
I still say the city should offer the Merili McCoy part of the new planned park to the Walshes for them to build another posh hotel, with the city partnering via a $1 a year 99 year lease and one (or more) percent of the hotel’s gross annual revenues. That might help pay for the other park improvements, if the Walshes go for it. Right now, the city still has no access to Admiral’s Cut, which is critical, according to the city’s architect, for the Merili McCoy part of the park to work. The Walshes control Admiral Cut.
What I am seeing on Truman Waterfront still looks to me like spaghetti being thrown against a wall hoping some of it will stick, and the taxpayers are paying for it in any event. It would have been a no-brainer to put a city campground out there for RVs and tents. Ironically, it took someone with an old brain injury, Joel Biddle, to come up with that bright idea.
All the while, the Ed Swift Charitable Benefit Train continues to roll in the green. The $500,000 a year Swift’s conch trains get paid by the city taxpayer to bring cruise ship passengers in from the outer mole is only a part of Swift growing greener every day; the other part is what cruise ship passengers spend in Swift’s conch train terminals’ trinket shops and on conch train and trolley tours around the city.
All in all, though, probably about what was to be expected, given the way the City Commission farms out so many of the tough calls to committees. That civics model probably will not change, unless the city goes to having a King form of government, and the King calls all the shots. Farther down the banana republic way, kings are is called dictators.
As for selective hearing, I’m reading a future-earth novel right now, Killing Time, by Caleb Carr – kinda so so. What caused me to check the book out of the county library was this at the start:
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging the future but by the past. ~Patrick Henry
And this in the first chapter:
“There are no newspapers here, no televisions, and above all no computers, which means no damned Internet. Dugumbe forbids it all. His explanation for this stance is simple, though no less profound for its simplicity: information, he insists, is not knowledge. The less passed on from one’s elders, taught by the wisest of them but recorded only in the mind, these, Dugumbe has always said, represent true knowledge. The media I’ve mentioned can only divert a man from such wisdom and enslave him to what Dugumbe calls the worst of all devils: confusion. There was a time when I – a man of the West, the possessor of not one but two doctorates – would have laughed at and disdained such beliefs; and in truth, during the time I’ve been here the laws and folklore of these people have have come to trouble me deeply. Yet in the world stuffed full of deliberately warped information, of manufactured “truths” that have ignited conflicts far greater than Dugumbe’s tribe struggles, I now find myself clinging to the core of the old king’s philosophy even more tightly than he does.”
When I read local newspaper reports of what does go on in city commission meetings, and compare that to what I see and hear when I am at those meetings, I simply shake my head. Even watching those meetings on TV misses a lot of what happens. Perhaps I am a minority of one, or two or three, but I’m convinced the public prefers not to know what is really going on.
For one example, none of what I wrote above about what I told the City Commission about Truman Waterfront over the years was reported in the Citizen or the Keynoter or Key West the Newspaper, or in any other local newspapers – it was reported at www.goodmorningkeywest.com and www.goodmorningfloridakeys.com.
For another example, none of what I dragged out of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) head honcho during a town hall meeting in Old City Hall early last year was reported in the local newspapers, but was reported at my websites. What I dragged out of the FDOT head honcho, over serious interference from Mayor Craig Cates, was the reason the North Roosevelt Boulevard construction was designed to take about two and a half years to complete, working one shift a day, instead of much quicker, maybe eight months, by working round the clock, was the city’s noise ordinance; the City Commission did not want the North Roosevelt Boulevard residential communities disturbed in the evening and at night. I told the Citizen reporter what had just been revealed, which was news to everyone, because all along FDOT was being blamed for the two and a half years of construction, when it was the City Commission which had made the decision – the noise ordinance could have been waived, and eventually it was waived, so road construction could be done in the evening and at night.
Instead of reporting that, the Citizen reporter reported Mayor Cates’
dressing me down, saying I was embarrassing all of Key West by the way I was treating the head of FDOT, who looked to me like he was glad to finally be able to put the blame where it belonged: on Mayor Cates and the City Commissioners, who collectively had sacrificed a lot of businesses on North Roosevelt Boulevard to keep those residential neighborhoods undisturbed at night. Quite a few of those businesses went bankrupt. Others are barely hanging on, and some of them may go bankrupt before the road work is completed this July.
Now the City Clerk has a new rule, announced Tuesday night: that the public audience at commission meetings cannot applaud or otherwise express feelings about what citizen speakers say during citizen comments, while the rule apparently does not apply to elected and hired city officials being applauded, since that was allowed this past Tuesday night. I could not help but ask myself: Did that new rule come from the City Clerk, or from someone she answers to up the line?
I cannot help but be reminded of George Orwell’s 1984, in which doublespeak is the government’s way of rewriting history, no matter what actually had happened.
Selective hearing and selective reporting are two sides of the same coin. God’s angels kick my butt whenever I fall into either. They also kick my but for anything else I do, which does not please them, and for things I do not do, which they want me to do. It’s a great life, if you don’t mind being reminded ongoing of just how truly stupid you are.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West