this editorial cartoon, by Arnaud Girard, appeared in Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com – during last year’s “channel-widening study” referendum, which actually was a referendum on how the city’s residents felt about cruises ships calling on Key West – the referendum twas defeated by almost 74 percent of the votes cast
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In today’s Citizen voice – www.keysnews.com:
“Hang in there Sloan. Remember Hunter’s prophetic words: ‘When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.'”
Yesterday afternoon, City Commissioner Teri Johnston
met with Angela Street and other Meadows neighborhood homeowners re the new Peary Court development.
Eaton Street, Fleming Street, name not showing, and Southard Street intersect White Street, across from the present Peary Court residential development; its streets outlined in red. Angela Street is the unnamed street between Peary Court and Newton Street. The crossing streets in the Meadows neighborhood presently dead-end at Angela Street.
the present Perry Court development, to be razed and a new residential enclave built, mostly on the kinda high end of the money scale
In a nutshell, Teri joined Mayor Craig Cates and City Commissioners Jimmy Weekley, Billy Wardlow and Tony Yaniz in keeping Angela Street and the old fence running between Angela Street and the old Peary Court like they are.
Teri also said, the reason the city planning department (Don Craig) and the city’s architectural review board (HARC) are so determined to integrate Peary Court into Angela Street and the Meadows dates back to Truman Annex being developed as a gated community, which then led to a lot of problems for the city. They understandably don’t want another gated community in Key West.
However, Teri agreed, running Southard and Fleming Streets across White Street into Peary Court from Old Town, and running the existing Palm Avenue entrance into Peary Court and through it to Southard or Fleming Streets, will stop the new Peary Court from being a gated community.
Teri also agreed, it will be a good idea for the Angela Street/Meadows property owners to ask their district city commissioner Jimmy Weekly to put Peary Court on a city commission meeting agenda for discussion, which will allow the city commissioners and mayor to discuss the new Peary Court development freely among themselves without violating the Florida Sunshine Law. Citizens also will be allowed to speak to that item. That discussion will send a message down the line to Don Craig and HARC from the mayor and six city commissioners), who will decide how the new Peary Court development goes.
I’m coming back to that later in this post.
Moving laterally, Tuesday night a week ago, Last Stand and Everglades Law Center co-hosted a water quality control symposium at Eco-Discovery Center in Key West. A similar symposium was held maybe a week earlier on Key Largo. I attended the Key West symposium and came away feeling a great fraud had been foisted on the public, for two reasons.
First, misinformation was presented at the Key West symposium; second, the one expert who could have corrected the misinformation, Brian Lapointe, PhD,
an internationally-recognizied water biologist, was not invited to participate, despite my attempts to persuade Naja Girard, President of Last Stand, to invite him. All of that was reported in increasing brutally frank detail in three successive posts at www.goodmorningfloridakeys.com, the oldest-to-latest links for which are:
What follows are emails between Naja and me about those three posts:
Just wondering: isn’t the real issue about making sure the water is cleaned up before releasing it? The assumption is that sending freshwater back through the everglades is a good thing. Are you saying, Sloan, that you are certain that it is impossible to clean it to an acceptable standard before release or that you just can’t fathom that the powers that be would make that happen before releasing it?
Of course that’s the real issue, I stated that repeatedly in my three posts on the forum. They did not come close to convincing me that they have the present capability of cleaning up all of that dirty water they want to release into the Everglades. Nor did they come close to convincing Joel Biddle. And I can’t imagine they convinced anyone who was not brain dead. I bet Brian Lapointe would have made the water cleaning technology issue interesting, if he had been there. Love and kisses.
I thought the scientists agreed the fresh water would need to be purified to a certain standard before being released. True there was very little detail on how that would happen. But I do recall there was some talk about diverting to holding areas where it would be treated prior to release and there was also talk of a natural cleansing that would occur along the way.
I think the subject of what’s killing our reef is pretty broad and we learned quite a bit during the forums, but because it is so broad we didn’t get all the details we might have liked. I’m looking forward to viewing the video when it is ready.
Did Brian Lapointe address HOW TO clean the water or did he only address that the water is dirty where it is and there is a plan to send it our way? I don’t recall him addressing way to clean the water in his presentation either. But I could be wrong. Do you recall the date of Lapointe’s City Commission presentation?
Additionally, I did not hear you complain when Jimmy Weekley set up a public presentation with no one other than Mr. Lapointe addressing the issue. Why did that not bother you? Why are you bothered by hearing multiple scientists speak on the same subject?
I like that you are shouting about cruise ships wastewater. Last Stand has asked NOAA to increase the regulations in this sanctuary [dealing with cruise ship wastewater] to the highest standards enjoyed at several other sanctuaries – no wastewater at all – no ground up food waste – no gray water at all. We are very hopeful that that will occur.
Hugs [while pounding on the table just a bit]
Naja, I plainly stated in what I reported 3 times, that the scientists said the water needed to be purified before it was released into the Everglades. And, I plainly stated Billy Causey said the dirty water would be cleaned up by passing through the Everglades – did you see Causey refute in his emails to me that he said that at the conference, or that another scientist said the Everglades would not clean up the dirty water?
[Billy Causey, PhD,
is Regional Director of NOAA’s Marine Sanctuary.]
Since their entire Everglades restoration plan hinged on how they would clean up the dirty water before releasing it into the Everglades, that was where the scientists should have spent a great deal of time during the forum.
You said to me, after I said from the floor that how they would clean it up needed to be addressed first, that I would be allowed to ask questions after the presentation. So, I went over and talked to two of the scientists off to the side and asked them how they were going to clean up the dirty water needed to be explained? They said that would be explained. As you say here today, the scientists never really explained how they were going to do it.
I also reported the Everglades Law Center lawyer never called on me afterward, even though I was raising my hand constantly. I did not report that she looked right at me a number of times with my hand up, and then she looked for another hand up and called on that person. By then, I’m saying to myself, and to William Benson sitting beside me, Al Sullivan sitting on the other side of me had already left the forum, that they apparently don’t have a way to clean up the all that dirty water.
As far as I recall, Brian Lapointe and I never discussed how the dirty water could be cleaned up, other than getting rid of Big Sugar and the other farm combines and chemical fertilizers. His and my discussion was what I reported in my three posts. Chemical runoff through the Everglades into Florida Bay down to the reef, manatee dying on east and west coasts, and, I did not report, similar problems in Indian River.
What comes to me right now is, FIRST DO NO HARM. I translate that into make damn sure the technology is there and operational to clean up all of that dirty water before releasing it into the Everglades.
I suggested to Causey that perhaps it will be easier to put water treatment plants in the east-west canal and clean up the dirty water headed to the east and west coasts of Florida, than to clean the dirty water up before it is released into the Everglades. That does not help the Everglades and Florida Bay and the reef, but it does help the wast and west coasts and the manatee. Releasing dirty water into the Everglades will be horrific there, in Florida Bay, and down our way.
This explanation is not rocket science, which is what is needed to clean up the dirty water. I don’t need rocket science to detect bull shit. And there was a great deal of it at your forum, and in what Causey wrote to me, and then in what you wrote to me. I am not pounding the table. I am past trying to convince you. You have circled the wagons on this topic just as tightly as KWPD has circled the wagons in the Charles Eimers case.
Love and kisses anyway.
Naja and her husband Arnaud co-publish Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com – which continues to do a super splendid job of preventing the Key West Police Department from getting clean away in the Thanksgiving Day tragedy which came about because the KWPD suspected Charles Eimers of of being homeless, which suspicion proved fatal for him. Here’s a link to the blue paper’s latest article on that case:
That article contains a link to the video which destroyed the KWPD’s version of what happened when Eimers was taken down by KWPD officers, and the article contains a link to the many earlier excellent blue paper articles on that grim case.
What Naja’s pounding the table referenced was my pounding Naja and Arnaud’s kitchen counter several years ago during a meeting of local activists, whom I collectively named “La Résistance”, called to discuss ways to resist the Bernstein family’s efforts to develop Wisteria Island, lying just west of Key West, into what was labeled Sunset Key Deux.
Flashing back to 2007, in reaction to the Key West City Commission entertaining the Bernsteins’ overtures that the city annex Wisteria Island, as had earlier happened with Tank Island, which then was developed and renamed Sunset Key, a citizen petition drive put on the ballot a referendum saying the city could not annex or acquire real estate without voter approval in a referendum. The referendum passed by over 70 percent, as I recall.
After that, the Bernsteins then started lobbying the Monroe County Commission to re-zone Wisteria Island, which lay in Monroe County, to rezone Wisteria Island so it could be developed, essentially, into Sunset Key Deux. At that time, the zoninng only allowed for two estate-size homes and lots to be put there.
The Bernsteins were using Jim Hendrick to advise them. Jim was the former Monroe County Attorney who had been tried and convicted in Federal Court of witness tampering and conspiracy arising out of his alleged facilitation of a bribe of a county commissioner named Jack London. The statute of limitation on the bribery allegation had run by the time the US Attorney got involved, but the statute had not yet run on the conspiracy and witness tampering allegations.
For the Bernsteins to get what they wanted, the Monroe County Comprehensive Plan would have to be changed. This, Naja and Arnaud Girard, I and others felt, would open the door to other privately-owned islands in the Keys asking the County Commission to let them turn their islands essentially into Sunset Key Deuxs.
We also felt what the Bernsteins were doing was asking the County Commission to let them make an end-run around the 2007 Key West referendum. Once Wisteria was approved for becoming Sunset Key Deux, essentially, that would be used by the Bernsteins to lobby the city to let them use the city’s drinking water, sewerage lines and treatment plant, fire and police, which the new development would need. Thus, the city would de facto annex Wisteria Island without legally annexing it, bypassing a voter referendum to approve the maneuver.
Naja and others at the meeting at her and Arnaud’s home kept arguing that the way to win before the County Commission was to argue Wisteria Island was a nature preserve; it had protected bird species roosting there, and protected plant species growing there. Besides the fact that Wisteria was a man-made island, created long before by dumping channel-dredging spoils there, I knew the county commissioners personally, and I knew they had zero environmental sympathy for Wisteria Island.
I kept telling Naja and the others that they were wasting their time making environmental arguments to the County Commission, and what they needed to do instead was argue that the Bernsteins and Jim Hendrick were trying to get the county commissioners to make an end run around Key West’s 2007 referendum, all the while the Key West City Commission had not even been asked how it felt about what the Bernsteins were trying to get the County Commission to do. My repeated argument to Monroe County was it should not even have processed the Bernsteins’ Wisteria development application, since Key West being on board was essential to the development and nobody knew where Key West stood.
Naja and others kept hollering at the kitchen counter about protected species, and, finally, in frustration, I started banging the kitchen counter top. Then, one of the others, who had held silent, Nils Meunch, said I was right: the environmental argument would not wash, the political argument had to be made.
Then, at a county commission meeting attended only by County Commissioners Sylvia Murphy, Kim Wigington and Heather Carruthers, Commissioners George Neugent and Mario Di Gennaro absent, Sylvia,
who was well aware of that intrigue, which I was reporting on my websites, copies of which she received, directed county staff to ask Key West to weigh in, because she was not going anywhere on Wisteria Island until she knew how Key West stood.
At a Key West Yacht Club function, Commissioner Di Gennaro already had announced he was not going to let a hotel be built on Wisteria Island.
So invited, the Key West City Commission took up Wisteria Island during a city commission meeting. Sylvia drove all the way down from Key Largo, where she lives, for that meeting. She was invited to speak to the City Commission re Wisteria Island. She said, as a good neighbor, she would not go against the city’s wishes.
The City Commission then voted to have no part in the development of Wisteria Island into Sunset Key Deux essentially. The next day, as I recall, the Bernsteis’ Wisteria development proposal was to be considered by the County Commission in Key West. As I also recall, the Bernsteins withdrew their development proposal the next morning, before the County Commission meeting started.
After that, Naja started looking further into the title history of Wisteria Island. She dug up stuff which caused her, and me, to think maybe the Bernsteins did not really own Wisteria, but the Navy still owned it. However, the Navy then said they didn’t own Wisteria and had no interest in it. Naja told me that she felt she had taken her investigation as far as it could go. I then dreamed that she needed to keep digging, there was something else she had not found. I called her and told her of the dream. She went back to digging and she found it.
Then, Naja presented what she had found to the US Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management Division. At first, they did not agree with Naja. Then, they changed their mind, said, yes, the US owned Wisteria Island. That led to the Bernsteins filing suit in Federal Court to try to get a ruling that they own Wisteria Island. That case was tried quite a while ago, and the federal judge has yet to issue a ruling.
Recently, the Bernsteins tried once again to persuade the County Commission to let them turn Wisteria into Sunset Key Deux, essentially. The County Commission voted against it.
Look at how hard Naja worked in the Wisteria Island case, to protect that island from being turned into Sunset Key Deux. Look at how hard she worked to keep the KWPD from getting clean away in the Charles Eimers case. Where was that Naja for the water quality control symposium? Why did she side with Billy Causey, who, as far as I’m concerned, is Mother Nature’s Public Enemy Number One in south Florida and the Florida Keys, because he is supposed to be leading the charge against water pollution in the Marine Sanctuary, but instead he is putting out misinformation and promoting further destruction of the Everglades, Florida Bay and the reef.
Another back story also is in play.
Jim Hendrick advised Pritam Singh, who had developed Truman Annex. Jim is advising the new Peary Court developers.
After being put on federal probation and being disbarred, Jim started a consulting compay called Critical Concern, playing on the Florida Keys having been designated an area of critical concern by the Florida Legislature, as the result of unbridled development and unchecked water pollution.
I got to know Jim well after he was convicted and disbarred. We played a lot of chess, he nearly always won. I ate dinner in his home a number of times. I met his son and his sister. I ate lunches with Jim and his lawyer and business friends every Friday for several years. I concluded Jim’s criticial concern was how much money he could make, and how much money he could help developers make.
My social interactions with Jim ended one night over dinner at his home, when he set out to prove to me that Pritam Singh was not possessed by Lucifer, which I had stated in a post was the case. Jim said Pritam is the best salesman he ever met; Pritam was adept at getting people to see what Pritam wanted them to see, and not see what Pritam didn’t want them to see. I said, that’s how Lucifer sells; I rest my case.
I told the Angela Street residents to stop panicking about Don Craig and HARC. I told them to meet with Mayor Cates and Jimmy Weekly and the other city commissioners. I told them to get lawyered up. I told them that, if Jim Hendrick is representing the Peary Court developer, they cannot afford not to be lawyered up. I told them their line in the sand is the old iron fence running the length of Angela Street, and not to give one millimeter on that fence, for if they lose that fence, they loose everything.
I attended their neighborhood meetings. I engaged Mayor Cates and the city commissoners who attended those meetings. I attended a HARC meeting and the ensuing City Planning workshop, and spoke at those meetings. During citizen comments at city commission meetings, I started alerting the mayor and the commissioners to the trouble brewing in the new Peary Court development, of which they might not yet be aware.
I have no personal stake in that situation. I didn’t need a personal stake to know it was very wrong to traumatize the Angela Street residents because Don Craig and HARC wanted to integrate the new Peary Court into Angela Street and the Meadows. Not even the developer wanted that. Only Don Craig and HARC wanted it. And, right, the new Peary Court will look nothing like Old Town. It will be cookie-cutter mass-produced-looking architecture, which just as easily could be installed in my hometown, Birmingham, Alabama.
Fortunately, it appears Mayor Cates and four of the six city commissioners are not going to let Don Craig and HARC do that to the Angel Street and Meadows residents. I hope they integrate the new Peary Court development into Key West by using Palm Avenue and Southard Street, and perhaps Fleming Street, as suggested by Teri Johnson. As Naja Girard told HARC at its last meeting, the developer really does want a gated community, which cannot be allowed to happen. The new Peary Court cannot be allowed to become another upscale, snotty, gated Truman Annex like Pritam Singh and Jim Hendrick spawned.
Alas, Naja is so determined to prevent the new Peary Court from being a gated community, that she wants it fully integated into Angela Street and the Meadows, where she and Arnaud live on Newton Street. Naja told me that she would feel the same if she lived on Angela Street; she would want to meet and mingle with her new neighbors – one human family. However, she does not live on Angela Street. She will not have all that parking space pressure and crossing traffic the people living on Angela Street will have if the Meadows crossing streets are run through Angela Street into Peary Court. Finally, she told me that she could live with the Angela Street fence staying in place if Palm Avenue and Southard Street connected through the new Peary Court.
FIRST, DO NO HARM. FIRST, DO NO HARM. FIRST, DO NO HARM.
Okay, this post today is a snapshot of the kind of public service I have done for years in Key West and in the Florida Keys, on my own dime, expecting and receiving nothing back for myself. I was doing it years before Craig Cates ever even thought about running for mayor of Key West in 2009, and even more years before Tony Yaniz thought about running for the City Commission. I don’t recall seeing Craig or Tony at city and county commission meetings, before they ran for office. I stirred the local pot regardless of whether or not I was running for public office. It’s what I do, like it’s what Naja and Arnaud do.
If the pot doesn’t get stirred, nothing changes.
As far as I know, Jerry Weinstock, M.D., Psychiatry (semi-retired)
and I are the only people down here who have called for a total ban from Key West of the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships, which have been calling on Key West since the first cruise ship docked here decades ago.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, the first do no harm, pot-stirring candidate for Mayor of Key West