diamonds, hearts and waste management in Key West, planetary capitol of the weird

ship of fools

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playing cards

A lower Florida Keys duplicate bridge snowbird amgio, now splitting his time between Naples, Florida and his mainland home, replied to yesterday’s 2014 Key West mayor race, not entirely politics as usual post at this website:

I arrived home in Delaware after being out of the U. S. for 40 days and 40 nights. I don’t have time to read all of your stuff, but do read some of it. Are you becoming more of a mainstream candidate? If you did, could you possibly win in a three person race? No longer advocating nude beaches is why my “angels” told me that you might becoming more mainstream. And if you stopped talking about your angels at all, that might make you even more mainstream. Good luck.

I replied, without the pics, which I added for this post:

Maybe if I had never mentioned “my angels” or God in the first place, I might have been elected a time or two already, because my positions on various “mainstream” issues over the years were superior to other candidates’ positions on the same issues. Nothing’s changed there. The irony is, “my angels” are pretty darn mainstream, because they are your and everyone else’s angels, too. God is pretty mainstream, too, being my, your and every one else’s God. Despite all the commotion to the contrary, there is only one God, and nobody or religious sect can change that by saying “my God” is the true God and your God isn’t.

As for my chances of winning in a 3-candidate race, with or without taking about everybody’s angels and God, I could borrow from Christendom and say, “With God all things are possible.” But I also could borrow from Christendom and say, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.”

For sure, Mayor Cates

Mayor Cates

has a strong following, and just as for sure, Margaret Romero

Margaret Romero

has a strong following, which I imagine includes most, if not all, of City Commissioner Tony Yaniz’s

Tony Yaniz 2

following, if he does not also file to run for mayor this year. Just as for sure, there are many people in Key West who do not view themselves as mainstream. Key West, for sure, is the planetary capitol for weirdos.

I’m getting up each day and doing what’s in front of me to do in the way the angels told me in dreams the night or even the day before to do it, which isn’t always the way I would do it without the angels’ input. In fact, it often isn’t the way I would do it without the angels’ input. Last night in dreams, in a bridge hand, City Commissioner Teri Johnston

Teri Johnston

was my right hand opponent, showing me that today I need to focus on diamonds (the feminine) and hearts (love).

Most days, someone new tells me to keep doing what I’m doing, it needs to be done; I have his/her vote. Just after last night’s city commission meeting ended, on which I will report the waste pickup and hauling agenda item in today’s post at goodmorningkeywest.com, and maybe one or two other agenda items, a married couple praised me again, they had done it before; and a woman came by and thanked me and said I’d done another good job. People I don’t know.

Glad you got back safe from your Eastern Europe travels. You sent lots of beautiful photos. Maybe some day the angels will arrange for me to visit my Bashinsky ancestors’ homeland, Poland. There are other places in Eastern Europe I’d also like to see. Time will tell. Right now, though, I have a mayor’s race to attend to.

Ciaosky,

Sloan

He wrote:

Poland is fantastic. I enjoyed Zamosc, in far southeastern Poland, the most. It is a relatively short drive to Lviv, Ukraine, which is why I stayed there. I stayed in a nice hotel for about 65 bucks a night. The hotel was on a nice, but small, town square.

I replied:

After sending mine to you, the 40 days and 40 nights in yours kinda reminded me of Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by the devil :-).

Then, I recalled Pastor Randy Becker’s prayer to start last night’s city commission meeting. He asked all present to close our eyes and ask our Higher Power to help us arrive at the best we can do to help city decisions and actions.

It was said my Polish Great Grandfather Leopold, Jewish, who married a Southern Baptist Belle living on Troy, Alabama, attended Sunday services in local a Baptist church, but never converted. On his gravestone, she had inscribed: “God’s noblest creation is an honest man.”

He wrote:

Very nice. BTW, the synagogue in St. Petersburg is truly beautiful; I’m certain you saw the photo.

Chorale Synagogue

I replied:

Yes.

Leopold came over to the States in the latter 1800s. Later, one of his brothers came over and joined him in Troy. The rest of their family eventually were killed by the Nazis. I read Stalin killed about as many Jews as Hitler.

It was said Leopold and his Southern Baptist wife agreed their children would be raised as Christians, due to there being few Jews in South Alabama at that time, no synagogues nearby.

He wrote:

After your race is over, you ought to read Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder. It is about what Hitler and Stalin did in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and the three Baltics. It is not easy reading and it is depressing, but it has a lot of useful information in it. A retired professor of History at Dartmouth, who was on my Swiss tour, recommended it and a few other books to me.

Connie Gilbert, of Key West, Jewish by birth, replied to yesterday’s 2014 Key West mayor race, not entirely politics as usual post at this website:

Connie Gilbert 4

Good analysis.
c

Old City HallOld City Hall, Key West

Last night’s City Commission meeting revolved around selecting the city’s garbage, yard waste and recycling contractor. Here’s the Citizen report – www.keysnews.com. I add any pics and some comments in italics, and more comments after the article.

Wednesday, May 7, Add to FacebookAdd to Twitter
City sticks with Waste Management
7-year deal will cost $14 million more overall, adds transfer station job
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
gfilosa@keysnews.com

Gwen FilosaGwen

In a 4-3 vote that rejected city staff’s pick as the lowest bidder for the city’s trash contract, the city commission Tuesday awarded a 7-year deal to its longtime vendor Waste Management.

The new $7.2 million a year deal, however, adds the city’s transfer station duties to the contract at a total of $14 million more over the lifetime of the 7-year contract.

It also ends the city’s new once weekly only curbside collection, going back to the twice a week pickup Key West had before last summer.

“When you break the bid down, Waste Management is the best contract,” said Mayor Craig Cates. “They will be responsible for the transfer station. It’s an important part of this process increasing our recycling.”

Waste Management’s current contract is for $5.9 million a year.

Voting yes were Commissioners Clayton Lopez, Mark Rossi, Billy Wardlow and Tony Yaniz.

Cates only voted no because he wanted the city to stick with the once a week trash pickup, as did Commissioner Jimmy Weekley

It was said from the dais last night, after going to once a week trash pickup last year, the city’s recycling rate increased; Cates and Weekley said that was why they wished to stick with once a week trash pick up. I felt they were right; recycling needs to be encouraged.

Commissioner Teri Johnston was alone in arguing that the only way to follow city policy was to award the contract to the lowest bidder in staff’s eyes: Advanced Disposal Services, the only other company to bid against Waste Management, which has held the city’s most lucrative contract without competition since 1999.

I tip my hat to Teri for voting her conscience, even though I didn’t agree with awarding the contract to Advanced Disposal.

Staff and Kessler Consulting had recommended the city go with Advanced, citing the company was offering to do what Waste Management does for $500,000 less each year and at a 26 percent savings to local businesses.

That was the lowest bid, staff said, case closed.

Several commissioners reasoned they were still following the city policy of selecting the lowest bidder in the Invitation to Bid process because Advanced offered to pick up the transfer station for a total of $8.1 million a year.

I said during my citizen comments that, based on what I’d heard, I was not convinced Advanced Disposal’s was the lowest bid; it could be viewed in different ways; it didn’t look like apples and apples to me; the transfer station made it look like apples and oranges; the transfer station made it two entirely different bids.

A near capacity crowd at Old City Hall burst into raucous cheers in response to the decision, as Waste Management employees and a host of Key West players packed the room in support of the hauler and its regional manager Greg Sullivan, a past Chamber of Commerce president and a member of Sunrise Rotary.

Utilities Manager Jay Gewin and his department ranked Advanced Disposal Services, the only other company that submitted a bid against Waste Management, as the lowest bidder and said Key West businesses would save some $834,000 a year under the deal, and $6.2 million over 7 years.

Waste Management employees and several citizens, and even some city commissioners, said a few very large mainland-based businesses would save money if Advanced Disposal got the contract, but everyone else in Key West would pay more, subsidizing those few large mainland businesses. Also, city staff said Advanced Disposal’s bid for picking up and hauling yard waste to the mainland for recycling was higher than Waste Management’s bid, and therefore Advanced Disposal’s bid was concerning, because the city wants to increase yard waste recycling, which increase would cost the city more under the Advanced Disposal bid, than under the Waste Management bid.

During citizen comments, I said, I hope, in the future, the city will put up more money for composting yard wastes locally, instead of paying to have yard wastes hauled to the mainland. I said there is nothing green about hauling yard waste to the mainland. If it is composted here, people here can go get the compost, put it on their gardens and yards. I said I had other ideas for the city going green, but they were not about picking up garbage and I would save them for another time. Some chuckles in the audience.

Advanced’s bid came in $500,000 less than Waste Management’s, offering to do the existing services for $5.4 million a year while the existing contract is at $6 million.

Waste Management’s bid for that option – once a week pickup and no transfer station work – came in at $5.9 million a year.

But Gewin was pitching the once a week pickup system and ruling out the transfer station job, which he said would add $300,000 a year in costs. The city spends about $500,000 a year running the station.

During citizen comments, I said the city is paying $500,000 a year to have cruise ship passengers hauled [by Ed Swift's conch trains] into Old Town from the outer mole pier. Which $500,000 is more important? The people who pick up our garbage and take it away are the most important people in the city. More important than the Mayor, the Fire Chief, the Chief of Police. If they stopped picking up and taking away our garbage, we’d have to evacuate the city.

Rossi started the decision-making by making a motion to award a twice-weekly pickup and the city’s transfer station duties to Waste Management.

Mark Rossi

Rossi said twice-weekly pickup is better for his constituents, many of whom fish often and have complained of the stench that builds up.

Recycling coordinator Will Thompson said, “I’ve not had a complaint of one-day service since I believe October. Not one.”

City Attorney Shawn Smith advised the panel to choose one of the options Gewin presented.

“An Invitation to Bid is fine and dandy when you’re buying light bulbs,” said Commissioner Yaniz.

Tony said, in hindsight, it was a mistake to put the waste contract out for a lowest price bid; it should have been put out as a request for proposal, replies to which each city commissioner and the mayor could have rated. I felt the same/ After the meeting, I told the couple who came by and thanked me for what I’d said, that the low price bid approach was from the mind, but the decision to go with Waste Management came from the heart.

Only one of the seven commission members agreed with staff’s recommendation of Advanced, citing city policy requiring them to take the lowest bidder.

“Whether we like it or not it’s straight-priced,” said Commissioner Johnston. “We can’t consider personalities or nonprofit services.”

Johnston said the city is risking its reputation on what she called breaking the rules to benefit a favorite company.

“No matter who receives the contract, Waste Management will not be leaving the area,” said Johnston. “We went out for Invitation to Bid to bring in competitive prices. The message we will give is going to be devastating to the city of Key West when we try to go out for another competitive bid. When people hear we don’t follow our own guidelines, that we break our own rules, we’re really discouraging the competitive market from coming in.”

I did not feel the city broke the rules. There were two entirely different bids: one without the transfer station being taken over by the waste management bidder, and one with the transfer station being taken over by the waste management bidder. Looked to me, Waste Management was the lowest bidder for the second option. 

Advanced had three administrators at Tuesday’s meeting, including the regional boss Bruce Williams and one of the owners.

“We’ve offered Key West a much more competitive package to save you more money, a half million dollars annually,” said Mary O’Brien, a part owner of Advanced. “We know we’ll need to hire great people. We believe they’re here in this room.”

O’Brien was here 15 years ago standing aside Greg Sullivan, when he was working for BFI.

“That transition happened; employees were rehired,” O’Brien said.

Locals lined up to take turns at the microphone praising Waste Management:

Nonprofit leaders Kim Romano, Billy Davis and Mark Moss; former city commissioners Percy Curry, Barry Gibson and Bill Verge; attorneys David Paul Horan and Cara Higgins; Naval Air Station Business Director Ron Demes, who is in the Rotary with Greg Sullivan; towing operator Ricky Arnold Jr. and motorcycle shop owner Mike Horne.

The pro-Waste Management argument often turned emotional.

“This is supposed to be ‘One Human Family,’” Horne said. “Waste Management became our family. They stand behind us. When we need something, Greg Sullivan is the first guy there.”

Davis, who created A Positive Step, nearly brought the house down when he noted Advanced is touted as the 8th largest solid waste collection company in the U.S.

Waste Management, meanwhile, is on top of the list.

“We’re going from the number one in the country to number 8?” Davis said, turning sarcastic. “Oh, we should feel real good about that.”

Davis stirred the crowd, which Clerk Cheri Smith warned several times to hold applause for speakers, by quoting an adage he grew up hearing.

“Don’t trade one that will for one that might,” Davis said. “Dig it?”

Only a couple of locals active in politics urged the city to follow staff’s advice, saying the city’s reputation is at stake.

Todd German, a banker who helps run Hometown PAC, said,

Todd German

“If we let personalities figure into it all, how is anybody else that’s going to do business with the city of Key West going to treat us? Maybe next time we won’t get any bidders.”

Attorney Robert Cintron

Robert Cintron

said any company in Waste Management’s position would become an integral part of the local nonprofit community.

Waste Management, to its credit, has done a tremendous job tonight to get you to ignore the process you put in place,” Cintron said.

Looked and sounded to me that, for many years, Waste Management had done a tremendous job picking up and hauling away the city’s garbage and yard waste. Looked and sounded to me that Waste Management had helped the city go as green as the city was willing to pay to go green. Looked and sounded to me that Waste Management was easily the most financially sound of the two companies.

A citizen went to the speaker’s station and said he was a financial numbers person, and he had researched the two bidders, and while Waste Management was in good shape financially, Advanced Disposal had lost money for many years through 2013, its 2014 results are unknown, it has major debt, repayment of which might be difficult, and on that basis alone, Key West should not award the bid to Advanced Disposal – it might not be around long.

My good financial friend Todd German and my good lawyer friend Robert Cintron did not mention that when they told the City Commission to go with Advanced Disposal’s bid. Had I spoken behind Todd and Robert during citizen comments, I would have asked: Why did city staff say they had vetted Advanced Disposal and found it to be respected and in good shape? Did city staff not look at Advanced Disposal’s financials? Hello?

Citizen watchdog and twice city commission candidate Tom Milone,

tom-milone.jpg

beside whom I sat during the waste management bid discussion, kept saying to me that something wasn’t right; as in, something was missing, didn’t make sense. I kept agreeing with him.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

When approval of the first phase of the Truman Waterfront Development Plan came up on another agenda later last night,

Truman Waterfront plan

I went to the speaker’s station and said, sometime back, at a Truman Waterfront Advisory Board meeting, the architect said obtaining an easement over Admiral’s Cut was critical to that project, but the easement had not been obtained; thus, it was premature to approve the plan. I said, Truman Waterfront was supposed to pay for itself, but the taxpayers will pay for it; it will be a fee  park, not a free park. 6.6 acres of Truman Waterfront was supposed to go to Bahama Village, and 4.4 acres were taken by the city. But for Bahama Village, this item would not be getting discussed tonight. The Navy gave Truman Waterfront to the city because the Navy wanted to help Bahama Village. I heard that man, I pointed to him, Bill Verge (former city commissioner) and Bob Kelly, deeply involved in Bahama Village and Truman Waterfront, (both white), testify as to that at a Truman Waterfront Advisory Board meeting not long ago. You should name the new park Bahama Village City Park, and you should pay Bahama Village market rate for the 4.4 acres you took. That item passed 5-2, Commissioners Rossi and Yaniz voting No.

Another agenda item last night was final approval of the penalty for violating the city’s new noise ordinance.

cracked egg

The death penalty was changed from 2 citations (strikes) you’re out, to 3 (strikes), before the City Manager could revoke an offending establishment’s entertainment license. Cited establishments have the right to appeal to the Special Magistrate, and from there they have further appeals. I didn’t see that going anywhere but making local lawyers happy.

I said it looked to me the ordinance was passed for show, because the enforcement was not going to make much difference. The people who complained about too much noise will not be happy in the long run and will complain again. That’s my view, but time will tell. It passed 5-2, Commissioner Rossi and Yaniz dissenting.

It now comes to me that Key West lawyer David Paul Horan

David Paul Horan

went to the speakers station during the waste management part of the commission meeting and said he didn’t think he would ever agree with Sloan Bashinsky, but he agreed with that I had said about the Waste Management and Advanced Disposal bids. Maybe Lawyer Horan represents Charles Eimers

Charles EimersCharles, in life

family in its civil lawsuit against the city, resulting from Charles being suspected by the KWPD of being homeless. I wonder if Charles does not know about what all I wrote and published about that terrible situation? Perhaps David should talk with me. Perhaps this ex-Key West street person, and ex-Alabama practicing lawyer, might be able to help him gather evidence that the city had, still has, a policy of having its police be as rough on homeless people as possible.

Sloan at HH

Sloan Bashinsky
keysmyhome@hotmail.com

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West

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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