ship of fools
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Key West amigo Todd German
alerted me yesterday to an article at KONK Life by amigo Rick Boetteger re the Tony Yaniz and Todd part of the night before’s Hometown! PAC Call to Candidates at Salute Ristorante on Higgs Beach. I took a look, made a couple of replies, copied the whole thing, then when I later went back, the article and replies seemed to be missing, and something else was in their place under the same article heading.
The Big Story
Hometown PAC Blunders
By Rick Boettger
The usually sedate and convivial “Meet the Candidates” forum hosted by our Hometown Political Action Committee ended dramatically Monday with a seeming argument between Tony Yaniz and Hometown’s Todd German and Trish Doherty-Gibson…and a crescendo of “Boo!”s from Cates supporters.
Too many people for me to count filled Salute at Higgs Beach again, spilling out onto the surrounding walkway and beach. Dozens of candidates gave their two-minute speeches to polite applause, with only County Commissioner George Neugent rambling on so long that Hometown’s well-respected moderator, banker Todd German had to give him the hook, saying, “There’s always one we have to kick off the stage.”
With a multiplicity of wonderfully qualified candidates who all basically liked and respected each other, the evening was basically a feel-good party for Key West’s many political junkies (I know my people), with nothing said that anyone would remember. Until the end.
After Neugent challenger Danny Coll’s soft voice surprisingly got more applause than George’s, Todd German joked, “Thanks for coming. That’s it for the evening.” This was a joke because every political junkie who wasn’t there just for Salute’s fine free food was waiting for the big news of the evening: would Commissioner Tony Yaniz risk his secure seat for a run at Mayor Craig Cates’ job?
Well, we wouldn’t know until the two declared candidates spoke first. Craig gave a fine speech, powerfully listing the four major capital projects going forward on his watch, one of which, the Glynn Archer school-to-City Hall project, has been his legacy. He stopped in exactly two minutes, which I timed, because different commissioners getting different amounts of time to speak has been a bone of contention between Craig and Tony for a year.
Then blogger and perennial 5% candidate Sloan Bashinsky spoke next. His central platform is again a nude beach, and he joked about his having to be crazy to run (on his blog, he emphasizes that his political actions are controlled by his personal mostly malevolent “angels,” who are very, seriously real to him).
And here’s where the whole placid evening went Sloan-crazy, thank you Mr. Bashinsky. Todd riffed on Sloan’s comment by saying, “If you have to crazy to run, I can vouch for Sloan’s qualifications…..And I can say that because we are good friends.”
All innocent enough. Until Todd then asked, is there anyone else, who may want to test the waters, who wants to speak? Understand that this call to candidates clearly asked people who were unsure about running to come and speak, to get useful feedback about whether they had enough support to run.
Tony Yaniz had asked and had been told specifically that he did not have to declare to run to speak at this event. So he took Hometown PAC at their word, and decided to speak for two minutes. He came to the microphone, and, off the cuff, followed Sloan’s and Todd’s jokes about being crazy to run.
Tony said, “After listening to Sloan, if you have to be crazy to run, I’m not running.” From the middle of the beach crowd where I was, even with an excellent sound system, I just heard something garbled. Then, on stage, is where the funny crazy got real-life crazy. Hometown’s Trish Doherty-Gibson interrupted, “If you’re not running, you can’t speak!” Trish is the wife of Barry Gibson, the former holder of Tony’s seat, for whatever that might mean.
Todd, rarely flustered, then got what sounded from the cheap seats where I was into an argument with Tony. Todd upheld Trish, until Tony pointed out he was only speaking under the agreement that you did NOT have to declare to run, but were getting information about whether to, and, in fact, he was only joking, as Sloan and Todd himself had.
Todd recovered, got the point, and let Tony continue with what sounded like a normally-crafted stump speech, emphasizing his work on affordable housing, seniors, and youth. But the waters had been poisoned. It sounded like the publicly-contentious Yaniz had fought with calm-and-cool Todd German, realizing everyone’s view of him as reported by Cates’ main supporter, the Key West Citizen.
So Tony left the stage still receiving a bit more applause than Cates, but with a shameful chorus of boos clearly coming from Cates’ table in the center of the restaurant. And please, anyone with a cell phone showing others booing at this point, please come forward—I was there. The ever gracious Todd tried to make light of the donnybrook with a “Well, that went well.”
But it was, I believe, the sourest note ever sounded by our town’s respected political action committee. I have taken issue in the past with a few instances of severely biased questioning in some of their forums, but never had they blundered like this. They made sure at the end to tell Tony, the next forum will only be for declared candidates. This only reinforces that you did NOT have to be a declared candidate to speak at this one. So whether you got Tony’s joke about being Sloan-crazy or not, the get-off-the mic argument should never have happened.
Everyone makes mistakes. I wish we could give Hometown PAC and Todd German a mulligan and do this from the top.
Out on my bicycle yesterday around mid-day, I bumped into Michael Shields and Ben Harrison talking in front of where Michael lives, Ben was on a bicycle, too.
Michael. left, Ben, right
Ben’s wife, Helen, has an art gallery on White Street, adjacent to their home.
Helen led the charge to save the old lovely Australian pines in Ft. Zachary State Park from being mowed down by Australian pine haters.
After some jocular talk about Hometown! PAC Call to Candidates, more specifically the Tony Yaniz-Todd German part, and my being the unwitting bait which set it up, I asked Ben if he’d been playing any music lately? He’s seriously good singing and with guitar. He said he’d cut a record and has been singing some.
When I asked Ben if he would consider voting for me this year?, he said that depends on how I stand on pines.
I said, back when County Commissioner Heather Carruther’s redo Higgs Beach committee met in the Harvey Government center and unfolded an architectural rendering for the redo, I saw no Australian pines in the rendering. So I asked what about the Australian pines? The architect said, oh, they had not gotten that far in the planning stage yet, the pines would be considered later. I said, yeah, we wake up one morning and the pines are gone, that’s how it goes around here. The architect said that was not how it goes around here, and I wondered if he was from around here, and if he was, if he was pulling my leg or was living in a different dimension? I said, I doubt Helen Harrison will be glad to learn there are no pines in their architectural rendering. The next meeting they had the pines in the plans.
I asked Ben if that satisfied him about me and pines? He said he meant the Australian pines at Ft. Zachary State Park. I said to ask Helen how I stand on those pines. I spent lots of time under them, reading, drawing, writing, napping. I wrote lots of times bad things about people who wanted to remove even one of those pines at Ft. Zach. Ben said he would ask Helen.
Campaigning sucks. Being the unwitting bait at a call to candidates is a lot more fun.
Later yesterday, via the Key West Poetry Guild, this came from Michael Shields:
At long last! The highly anticipated and awaited stamping/pressing of the first Sidewalk Poetry Project event is set for Friday, April 25th. YOU are invited!
The inaugural ground-breaking, ribbon-cutting, champagne-busting unveiling will be in front of Capt. Tony’s Saloon, on Greene Street, between Duval and Whitehead Sts. at 4:00 PM. A reception to follow, at Smokin’ Tuna (they have “The Writer’s Room”).
The initial poem to be so cast is by Kirby Congdon, Key West Poet Laureate.
The project has been in development for well over a year, with the first public workshop held last April to develop the project guidelines and process which resulted in over 200 submissions by poets, with 17 chosen for the honor to grace our city sidewalks.
Yes, our ideas and ambitions ran ahead of our hands to get this in the ground – we were optimistically hoping for a year-end (2013) installation. It has been worth the wait, however, as the result has been the acceptance and submission by the City to create its own State and Federal non-profit 501c3 organization, for the specific purpose of being able to solicit and accept donations for the art projects through AIPP. Yes, government moves slowly, frustratingly so at times, yet it is also giving us a solid foundation for future commitments and projects.
It is also National Poetry Month, so we have been pushing, and now pressing, to have the first poem in the cement, now!
Your presence is requested at the historic and premiere setting of the first Poetry on Sidewalk installation. We will also be putting in motion a regular schedule for stamping of the remaining awarded poems throughout the year. At each event, we will publicize and feature in the media the ongoing poetry installations, showcasing the individual poets.
Your RSVP is greatly appreciated, so we know who will be able to attend.
Thank you to the Sidewalk Poetry Project Committee, AIPP Board, and the poets and artists for all you do to make Key West a better place to live, work, play, create – and write!
For the arts,
Key West Art In Public Places Board
Each contest entrant was allowed to submit two poems; the two I submitted were not accepted:
Only fools rush in
where angels fear to tread,
But if there were not fools
Who’d lead the angels?
Where people accused
of being weirdos somewhere else
can come mingle with real weirdos.
Vicki Weeks, formerly of Key West, now living in the Savannah, Georgia area, replied to my review of her new novel, Code of Honor, in day before yesterday’s Code of Honor – perhaps not America’s, nor Key West’s, strong suit, but there are some medal of honor award winners post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. The official launch of both the book and Books in Action, the nonprofit program the book will support for a 99 hour launch period is scheduled to start this Saturday at 9 PM and it’s been hectic. If interested to learn more about the program, check out www.99PercentBooks.com. There’s still some work to do on the site but the info is there.
Anyway, I was delighted to see that you really enjoyed Code of Honor. Thanks for the great write up. As to your astute Clancy comparison, yes, it was conceived as sort of the anti-Clancy version of the political thriller.
A little clarification re: the medical and military – all the medical details were the product of extensive research as were most of the military details, including the various locations, campaigns, and events related to the push to invade Iraq. I did, however, ask some veterans to review the book for military protocol, field weapons, and rank reference errors and made some corrections per their comments.
As to your questions, re:
1) calling out the neocon agenda in my writing as it was happening – yes, on more occasions than I can remember over more issues than I can count.
2) what the vets who commented on protocol etc., what I know is that currently they are leading members of Veterans For Peace (which BTW is one of the national orgs the book will be supporting) and,
3) while I did indeed have to check my gag reflex at Mr. Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, I none-the-less have seen enough of life to know that there’s not a lot of perfect good floating around leaving us always with a choice between lesser evils. And for my money, the less evil the better.
On another note entirely, I think you might have me confused with another writer in terms of that interview with you. I may be wrong, but I don’t think I ever did an interview piece. My weekly articles were usually issue focused. But, hey, it was a while ago.
Keep the up the good work on holding feet that need it to the fire.
Hi, Vicki -
Thanks for filling in some of the back story for your novel. I can’t imagine better ambassadors for peace than former Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans. A good Alabama friend of mine, before I knew him, was an artillery captain in Vietnam, and after he came home he became an ambassador for peace, and he’s been at it ever since. He’s radically prejudiced against USA War, Inc.
If you want me to post my review of Code of Honor at Amazon or some other online bookseller which has it in e-book, let me know and the link.
Well, if if wasn’t you who interviewed me for Celebrate back in 2003, I wonder who it was? It was a woman, and all these years I’ve been thinking it wuz you!
Hometown! PAC’s Call to Candidates is now on their website: www.hometownkeywest.com. If you want to see it, open that link and then click on the U-Tube icon and that should bring up the video. Mayor Cates’ 2 minute presentation is right before mine, then comes Tony Yaniz. The fireworks began during my 2 minutes toward the 60 minute mark, without my yet knowing that’s when the fireworks began.
I had a cross between an educational and a surreal experience tonight at the water quality presentation in the Eco-Discovery Center. I imagine I will report on that tomorrow at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.
That was after I went to the special city commission noise ordinance meeting and got to sign up first to speak, because I wanted to attend the water quality presentation.
I explained to the 7 city electeds, city staff and the audience the fine nuances of redneck justice, and said I was quite sure its progenitors would be delighted for it to be made part of the Conch Justice System, which we all know exists, but it isn’t written down anywhere. I suppose I also will write some about that tomorrow.
Hope sales of Code of Honor take off and go through the roof into the wild blue yonder.
P.S. I had the gag reflex when the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to Obama for continuing to wage G.W. Bush’s wars. I threw up (not literally) when Obama accepted it, even as he said, rightly, that he didn’t deserve it. Now, code of honor did not seem to me to be part of Obama’s make up. Then, my bowel locked up and stayed that way for about a month. Then, violent poetry erupted out of me, blasting Obama, which I recited at a Key West Poetry Guild reading, and again at a Poetry Guild event in the Gato pocket park off of Simonton. Then, my bowel unlocked. Later, Obama became the drone war president. He is a drone of Lucifer. As was his predecessor. Different outside wrappers.
During citizen comments at last night’s special City Commission noise ordinance meeting, I said, right now, what I’m concerned with about the new ordinance is its enforcement. It looks to me like the new noise ordinance will not be enforced; it will be something to hang on a wall and say it was passed. I bumped into Code Enforcement Director Jim Young recently out in a neighborhood, where he was shutting down a construction project which had no permit. He said he had called New Orleans, which has a stricter noise ordinance that the new one Key West is considering; it was passed for the part of New Orleans, which is like Duval Street, but they don’t enforce it. One person there told Jim, no way we enforce a noise ordinance on Bourbon Street. I ran something by Jim and by City Commissioner Mark Rossi, and they said they liked it. Just shut down disrespectful bars and joints for the rest of the day and night. Let them open again the nex tday. By disrespectful, I mean, DISRESPECTFUL. If a bar or joint keeps being disrespectful, shut it down again for the rest of that day and night. Keep doing that, spanking it, until it is respectful. The lost of revenue for a day and a night is the punishment. No lawyers, no fines, no courts. Redneck justice.
I stopped speaking way before my 3 minutes were up, and left to attend the Eco-Discovery Center on Truman Waterfront.
Walking down the front stairs in Old City Hall, I passed local attorney Hugh Morgan coming up the stairs. Hugh lives just off the upper end of Duval Street, near the Atlantic Ocean. I told him that I hope he finally gets what he has long sought, relief from the noisy hotel across the street. He thanked me, said he had read what I wrote yesterday about redneck justice coming to Key West, and he had liked it. But why was I leaving? I said to attend the water quality conference.
wild queen conch
I got to Eco-Discovery Center just as the meeting was about to start, and stayed on after it had ended. I talked with all the speakers one at a time. I will report on that later today at www.goodmorningfloridakeys.com.
Today’s Citizen article on last night’s noise ordinance meeting says the article went to press before the meeting ended. The article focuses on details of the ordinance. No mention of my concerns about the ordinance being for show and not being enforced, and how it could be enforced effectively.
My impression remains: the noise ordinance is for show, nothing really will change on lower Duval Street. I hope Hugh Morgan and the upper end of Duval Street get relief. I hope the street musicians are not injured by the new ordinance; they are not the problem on lower Duval Street. The problem is a few bars and joints, which have no respect. I feel badly for the residents and businesses on lower Duval, who, I fear, will continue to be traumatized by disrespectful bars and joints.
Moving laterally, sort of,
my oldest first Bashinsky cousin Leo sent this yesterday, which I replied is marvelous and I might use it in today’s post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
I opened the link and the article came up, with a lot of interesting comments underneath. Here’s the full article. If you wish to see the comments, click on the link.
Statue Of A Homeless Jesus Startles A Wealthy Community
The homeless Jesus ministering to a leper.
No good deed goes unpunished.
I well remember standing in Glad Tiding’s Tabernacle Church’s soup kitchen line one Sunday afternoon at Higgs Beach, and hearing one of the Glad Tidings’ officials tell maybe 100 homeless people, including me, that if we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we would not be homeless any longer. I did not say to that official that she was as homeless as she could get, believing she was saved and telling us something as mean-spirited at that. What I did say, and loudly, was, “What’s wrong with being homeless? Jesus was homeless!”
While I was eating my dinner, for which I was grateful, the young minister Mark, who was in charge of Glad Tidings’ homeless ministry came over to me and asked why I had said Jesus was homeless? I asked Mark if he had read the Gospels? He said he had. I asked, then why do you ask me that question? Jesus himself said in the Gospels that he was homeless. Where did Jesus say that?, Mark asked. You don’t know?, I asked. No, Mark said. I said, in the passage where a man came to Jesus and said he wanted to follow him, and Jesus asked the man if he was serious about that, because the foxes have their dens and the birds have their nests, but he, Jesus, had no place to lay down his head. Mark said, that passage did not mean Jesus was homeless. I said, that’s exactly what that passage means. Mark said, Jesus had a home. I asked, where in the Gospels does it say that? No answer. Where was Jesus’ home?, I asked. Mark said, Jesus could stay with his mother, in her home, when he wanted to be inside. I asked, where in the Gospels does it say that? No answer. I told Mark he had much to learn about Jesus.
I bet the conch farm, if Jesus of old were to show up today in Key West, he would be harassed by city police, he would be made to spend the night at KOTS on Stock Island, failing which, if he was caught, he would be put in the Sheriff’s jail on Stock Island. And, if he was caught drinking wine with his friends, he would be put in the jail.
In front of Old City Hall last night, I heard a fellow tell three tourists they would be arrested for open containers, to get rid of them. I said they will not be arrested for open containers, unless they are homeless. They smiled, kept their open containers. I turned and trudged up the steps to tell the City Commission their new noise ordinance is for show, and how to make it into a real noise ordinance.
By the way, the unspoken reason for the redo of Higgs Beach, at the cost of some million$ by the time it will all be said and done, is to terraform that park to make it nigh to impossible for homeless people to be there. All the different changes Heather Carruthers’ “friends of Higgs Beach” committee came up with,
were aimed at removing homeless people from that park. For one example,
above, Higgs Beach kiosks before Heather Carruther’s committee gained control,
above, the kiosks after Heather’s committee gained control. Not even Mayor Cates can go in there without a child.
Even later, a pine tree limb fell and nearly hit a child inside the fence. The limb had a small hole in its center. The pines were examined, and all were found to have small holes in the center of their limbs and trunks, due to carpenter ants. So, all the pines inside the fence were cut down. It took a long time to cut them down and grind them into sawdust. Australian pines are tough. The pines outside the playground were not cut down, so far.
I was on Heather’s Higgs Beach committee from the get go, and resigned after I filed to run for mayor in 2009, which created a conflict of interest for me re the Higgs Beach redo. Before resigning, I had watched Heather repeatedly let members of her committee talk about homeless people as if they were not human beings, as if they were vermin, and I had started calling those two-faced One Human Family vermin, Nazis.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West
Here’s the link to the water quality symposium post at www.goodmorningfloridakeys.com - 2014 Last Stand and Everglades Law Center water quality symposium in Key West report