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A Key West homeless man, who has worked for the U.S. Government and taught English overseas, wrote to me yesterday:
What else do you do besides writing and running for Mayor?
A lot of what else I do is described in what I write; a lot of what else I do is not described in what I write, but can be inferred from it; all of which I do regardless of whether I’m running for mayor or any other office.
There are moving toward 2,500 separate posts at www.goodmorningkeywest.com, since it went up in July 2007. A great deal of what I do can be gleaned reading those posts. Then, there is www.goodmorningfloridakeys.com, and also www.goodmorningbirmingham.com, where combined there are more posts than at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.
Sometimes I view those three websites as my “last will and testament”. Or, my own eulogy. Or, my own memoirs. I only know one person who might get fairly close to an accurate synopsis of what I do, and she reads and writes at a 3rd grade level.
In today’s Citizen – www.keynews.com, my interjected comments in italics:
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Add to FacebookAdd to Twitter
Cop review panel hires new director
Citizen Review Board picks outgoing chair, Larry Beaver
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
The Citizen Review Board chose their outgoing chairman, Larry Beaver, as the best pick for its new executive director, after almost four hours of interviews Monday night at Old City Hall.
At 9:45 p.m. Monday, the board’s scoresheets showed Beaver as the top choice. Elvin Quinones was their second favorite, trailing Beaver by seven points.
Beaver has to accept and sign the offer, which will be drawn up today.
The CRB, which investigates complains about police misconduct, chose from seven applicants, including two who this year sat on the board, Beaver being one of those.
The panel had the bare minimum number of members required present to make the decision: four. Member Virginia Altobello was absent, while two members, Beaver and Kevin Collins, were seeking the job and thus could not vote.
That left review board members Michael Behrend, Hayward Magby, Tom Milone and Joe Pais to vote to find a successor for Sue Srch, a retired police detective who took the job in 2011.
Srch, who started as a board member in 2009, is leaving Key West for the Chicago suburbs to be closer to her family.
The contract she turned down was for a $47,000 salary, without benefits of any retirement.
Applicants were interviewed in this order: Edwin Sabillon, William Siminovsky, Elvin Quinones, Terry Eibert, Neil Chamberlain, Collins and Beaver.
Questions for the candidates were mostly standard fare: Why do you want this job? What do you know of the Citizen Review Board?
Most of the candidates were asked, if hired, how would they deal with City Hall trying to dismantle the CRB because it only processed 2 complaints last year? The stock answer, agreed with by CRB members, was only 2 complaints last year indicates how well the CRB is watch-dogging the KWPD, all the more reason to keep the CRB! That, and the CRB was overwhelmingly approved in a city referendum in 2002, and City Hall cannot dismantle the CRB!
But Beaver, technically the chairman, was asked why he chose a dark suit for the interview in so very casual Key West.
“The position of executive director is a very serious position,” said Beaver, who managed a security services company in Tulsa, Okla. for years before moving to Key West. “I realize for Key West it may not be the norm. If I apply for another position, I assure you I’ll be dressed in a suit and tie.”
I never saw Beavers in a suit and tie at a CRB meeting over which he presided. Does that mean to Beavers that being a CRB member, indeed, its Chairman, was less important than applying to be the CRB’s Executive Director, who takes orders from the CRB?
Sabillon and Quinones also chose formal suits, while Siminovsky, Chamberlain and Collins were more relaxed in short sleeves and regular pants.
Eibert did her interview over the phone from California, where she said she has family obligations that couldn’t be put off.
All applicants are locals except for Siminovsky, who lives in Naples and teaches at a private school. He said he lived here from 2009-2011 and he and his wife want to live here, at least when retirement comes.
“I’m totally unbiased,” said Siminovsky, who wore his gray hair in a short ponytail and whose cellphone ringtone, “Sweet Home Alabama,” went off at one point during his interview.
“I’m just a teacher,” he said. “I do have a little background in forensics. I’ve been teaching forensics for now 12 years.”
Interviews were about 15-20 minutes each.
I thought most of the interview were close to 30 minutes. The telephone interview was the shortest.
Beaver’s interview began with Milone asking him to explain his application with the fact that he had told the board he wasn’t seeking another term so he and his wife could travel more.
“I believe in term limits,” Beaver said. “Four years on the board was a good time to step down.”
And, I thought, to stay stepped down. I observed Beavers at three CRB meetings in the past few months. My impression was he didn’t have the stomach for the CRB to be proactive and should not be on the CRB. I had the same observation and impression of at least two other CRB members, Atobello and Collins.
His family’s plans have changed, Beaver said, and he’s not ready to retire. When Srch resigned last month, Beaver decided it was a good move, given his background in investigations and service on the board.
Collins felt the same way, he said during his interview.
Admitting his current job – doing psychological evaluations for the school district – isn’t very challenging, Collins said he was excited about working for the board.
Collins said the board would do well in reaching out to populations that don’t always have a “voice,” such as local teenagers and the homeless.
“That’s not a population we necessarily made an effort to reach out to,” Collins said. “Why not work with the homeless coalition? Just to make sure people have the facts.”
Collins, however, isn’t interested in changing one of the major board policies: No videotaping of meetings, like the City Commission and other panels.
The meetings are audio recorded but not put on the city’s website.
“I’m not that comfortable with having the board videotaped and shown on television,” said Collins. “Even if it deters one person from coming forward. It’s a courageous act for people to come here and stand there with the police department here.”
Quinones, a retired FBI agent who is an investigator for the state Department of Children and Families, impressed the board with his fluency in English and Spanish.
Early in the meeting, a CRB member stressed the need for the Executive Director to be fluent in Spanish, because some complainants would be Spanish-speaking and not English-speaking. When Quinones interview ended, I asked him from the audience, “Hablas Espanol?” He replied, “Si, Senor.” Then, one of the CRB members said it was on Quinones’ resume that he was fluent in Spanish. No other applicant was asked about, or indicated, fluency in Spanish.
He said as an investigator for almost 27 years combined, he is adept at keeping an open mind and not judging people based on reputations or looks.
“I just let the facts dictate what the outcome will be,” Quinones said.
Behrend, however, asked Quinones whether his FBI background could be a negative, by dissuading people from wanting to share complaints about cops with him.
“It’s beneficial more than anything,” said Quinones, who added that as an FBI agent he worked on public corruption cases involving police officers.
I felt Quinones was clearly the superior candidate. Besides fluency in Spanish, he knew from 24 years as an F.B.I. special agent how to interview and investigate complainants and witnesses and develop evidence threads; he knew how to write case reports for US Attorneys; he had done two very serious investigations of law enforcement officers. I spoke with him after his interview and told him, if he got the job, and I was going to speak in his behalf during citizen comments, he would be coming into a firestorm because the Charles Eimers case probably would end up before the CRB, and there was serious police misconduct in that case, during the takedown of Eimers, in the later KWPD officers reporting of what went down, as opposed to what the bystander’s video showed really went down, and in the way the case was handled by the KWPD afterward. When Quinones said he had read something about a federal dismissal, I said not hardly, that is a civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court by the Eimers family, still in play. I was left wondering how Quinones knew so little about the Eimers’ case, and, therefore, if he was the right man for the Executive Director’s job after all?
After all the candidate interviews, I told Executive Director Srch that I wished to sign up to speak. She said no citizen comments on hiring new CRB Executive Director. That was seconded from a CRB member. I asked CRB member Tom Milone how he felt about that?
Just yesterday morning, I had bumped into Tom at Harpoon Harry’s and we had talked half hour, or more, about the CRB and the seven candidates for Srch’s job. I asked Tom then if I would be allowed to speak last night? He said, yes. I said he might need to say something about that at the meeting. He said he would.
When I asked Tom at the CRB meeting how he felt about my not being allowed to speak, he said he wanted me to be allowed to speak, it was an action item, he wanted to hear citizen comments. Margaret Romero, another mayor candidate, was there, too. She had not indicated she wished to speak. Tom was asked by the acting Chair if he wanted to make a motion to that effect? Tom said yes. Nobody seconded the motion. I said from the audience, “That what’s wrong with you people; the public doesn’t trust you.” CRB attorney Robert Cintron said I was not allowed to speak. I said, I spoke anyway, and would stick around.
After the votes were tallieed and Beavers was chosen, the acting CRB Chair asked me if I wished to speak during citizen comments? I said, yes, and went to the speaker’s station.
I said I had never seen or heard of citizens not being allowed to speak to an action item at city city commission meetings, city board meetings, city committee meetings. I said not allowing citizen comments before they chose the new Executive Director was terrible public relations. I wanted to say, and arrogance, but didn’t.
I threw terrible public relations at them because there had been considerable discussion from CRB members during the interviews about needing better public relations, getting the word out about the great, in their own minds, CRB.
I wanted to tell them that I was one of the people who had fought really hard for the CRB to get on the ballot, and, but for people like me, they would not even be sitting up there thinking so highly of themselves, but I didn’t say that, either.
Instead, I said, maybe the reason the CRB only received two complaints during the last year is because the public does not trust the CRB; did they ever consider that possibility?
I said, the best way to reach kids about the CRB is to put up a CRB page on Facebook, with a description of what the CRB does and how to contact the CRB and make a complaint. Do not have an interactive Facebook page. Go to schools and tell kids about the CRB Facebook page. Kids will get the word out.
I said, put a CRB ad in the blue paper; it has a lot of readers. I didn’t say, my pardon, the blue paper might run the ad for free.
I said, one problem the CRB has with homeless people is they don’t trust the CRB; I’m their CRB. They tell me stuff all time about being mistreated by Key West police officers, and people write to me about what they have seen happen to local homeless people, or what they have been told by local homeless people.
I said, the second problem the CRB has with homeless people is they are terrified of retaliation, if they file complaints, and their terror is totally justified.
My bad, I did not say, the way for the CRB to encourage homeless people to file complaints is to mix with homeless people, get to know them, listen to them, gain their trust.
My time nearly up, I said, the most important thing for the Executive Director is to do good investigations and interviews of witnesses and complainants.
I did not say, I told CRB member Tom Milone at Harpoon Harry’s that morning that I nearly applied for the Executive Director’s job in 2003, when it first came open, but after talking with Todd German, the Chairman of the first CRB, and learning it really was a secretarial job, the CRB wanted no execytuve input from the Executive Director, I didn’t apply. I told Tom at Harpoon Harry’s that the Executive Director should be a proactive executive force on the CRB.
There was considerable discussion during the interviewing last night of the CRB members’ requirement for the Executive Director to publicly back the CRB’s decisions, regardless of how the Executive Director actually feels about those decisions. I had that on my list to address during citizen comments, but my time to speak ran out. What I would have said, if I had time, was, the very last thing the CRB wants is an Executive Director who cannot publicly disagree with the CRB, when he/she feels the CRB is out of line. In fact, the CRB should hire no one for the Executive Secretary, er, Director job, who is not willing to stand up to the CRB publicly. I think the next previous CRB Executive Director, who was a lawyer, actually did stand up to the CRB publicly, and that did not seem to make the CRB happy.
I went home from the CRB meeting and found this in my email box from someone I do not recognize by his/her email address; Naja Girard, Co-Publisher of www.thebluepaper.com was shown at an email recipient, too:
And Please don’t EVER ask the voters for a new 1 penny sales tax and expect them to believe you!
Consultant lives undercover as homeless man in Daytona Beach
Published: Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 10:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 10:18 p.m.
DAYTONA BEACH — Robert Marbut has two master’s degrees, a Ph.D. and three post-graduate fellowships under his belt, including one as a White House fellow to President George H.W. Bush.
He’s served as a San Antonio City Councilman and mayor pro tem, and he runs a consulting business for cities nationwide hoping to dramatically reduce their homeless counts.
But that’s not the man a police officer out West saw one night when Marbut was working undercover as a homeless person, something he does all over the country — and just did last month in Volusia County — to get a real understanding of a town’s homeless problem.
Marbut had befriended an actual homeless man who, as it turned out, was wanted for murder. Marbut suddenly found himself in a nightmare, trying to explain to the officer who he was.
“The more I tried to explain the crazier he thought I was,” said Marbut, who was cleared after he convinced the policeman to Google his name and was able to show he was on a plane when the slaying occurred.
Nothing quite that dramatic happened during the three days Marbut slipped under the radar and lived as a homeless person in the Daytona Beach area. But Marbut, who the city hired earlier this year, said he learned a lot living on local streets and talking to the unsheltered here.
He figured out most encampments are either east of Interstate 95 in hidden wooded areas or on the western edge of the county, that many of the homeless follow daily migrating patterns that are tough to keep up without a bike and that there’s not as much violence on Daytona area streets as he’s seen in other parts of the country. The worst thing he saw was a love triangle fight that never got past yelling and pushing.
After doing a lot of reading and research on the local homeless situation, Marbut said he’s ready now to talk to dozens of local leaders and homeless advocates when he’s in town this week and again several times over the next few months.
Eventually all the information he gathers will be included in a report of observations and recommendations he’ll put together for the city by August, a tool that will help officials figure out whether they want to pursue creating a comprehensive one-stop help center and shelter for the homeless.
Marbut will be paid about $49,805 for his work and expenses, the bulk of which Daytona Beach will cover. Ten other Volusia County cities also interested in trying something new to attack the homeless problem collectively chipped in $17,452 toward that expense, city records show.
Marbut, who lives in San Antonio, is a former homeless service president and CEO who has worked on homeless issues for 30 years. Frustrated by the lack of real improvement, in 2007 he started visiting hundreds of homeless service facilities nationwide to see what worked and what didn’t.
He developed guiding principles of stabilizing the lives of the unsheltered and a system that begins with him diving into a locality’s homeless experience.
He starts by looking — and smelling — the part. He lets his beard grow out into an unkempt bush, he wears only clothes donated to assistance agencies, he sprinkles beer on himself and he hops on a beat-up bicycle, often a seized one police let him borrow.
He doesn’t carry a cellphone, wallet or identification, and only slips a business card in his sock for emergencies. Anything he carries around — which is usually no more than a water bottle, food and empty beer cans — will go in well-used plastic bags. He attaches his car key to his back bike tire.
He doesn’t smoke, but he carries around cigarettes and a lighter because so many other homeless people do. He stuffs a few tattered $1 bills in his pockets along with a little loose change and proceeds to live off his wits.
When he got to Daytona last month, he checked into a hotel and left his suitcase and computer there. With the blessing of police, he left his car at a police substation on the beachside and picked up a bike borrowed from law enforcement.
He said he only went back to his hotel room once to check something on his computer, the only time in three days he brushed his teeth.
His food source was the noon meal served at the Halifax Urban Ministries program on North Street, and he slept both downtown and behind Volusia Mall. No sleeping bag or blanket.
He hit just about every Volusia County homeless hot spot, and spent a lot of time on the bike.
“I literally went back in every wooded area I could with my bike, as far back as I could go,” he said.
One night he approached a police officer at 1:30 a.m., and once he got the officer talking he said he got a “lot of great insights” into the local homeless scene.
He said he’s looking forward to exploring more all over Volusia County and listening to more people.
“I’ll keep coming back and I’ll meet with everyone who wants to meet with me at least once,” he said.
I replied to the unknown sender, with copy to Naja:
I broke Robert Marbut down and exposed his misrepresentations at a Key West town hall meeting in about 2 minutes, after I was able to speak with him one on one after the meeting ended. No newspaper down here has yet to publish what I dragged out of him, including the blue paper.
Am glad to see Marbut is living on the street, learning something about homeless people. I told the Key West mayor and city commissioners and the blue paper publishers, who are friends of mine, to do the same, and learn something about homeless people. That’s the only way to learn something about them. All all else is foreplay.
I figured Marbut was in Daytona when I heard recently of that city’s police arresting a minister couple and several of their friends for feeding homeless people in a public park. More and more it’s looking like Auschwitz looms in USA.
What is the context for your 1 percent sales tax remark?
Re Marbut, from the recent “a brief look at homelessness in Key West, by an ex-lawyer who was homeless there” post at this website: May 13, 2014
I said, after Marbut wowed a big audience in Old City Hall, I got him off to the side and asked what was his turn around rate for homeless people? He said 90 percent. I asked if they still lived in his shelters? No, they moved on to other living accommodations. I asked, were they paying the rent and buying their own groceries? Well, the new living accommodations were subsidized. And Veterans could not be made to use their benefits to pay rent.
Kelly nodded, like, hmmm, Marbut’s homeless graduates were not back in mainstream; like, what was that costing to house and feed them, instead of letting them be homeless?
I said, I got that out of Marbut in two minutes, after he had wowed the audience and Mayor Cates and other city officials for quite a while, and they didn’t ask him one question that needed to be asked, because they didn’t know the terrain and didn’t know what questions to ask. I said, Steve Braddock and I could have gotten the city to where it now is in just a little while, if Mayor Cates had listened to us.
I revised that post slightly and submitted it last Wednesday to the blue paper for their last Friday’s edition, and heard nothing back from Naja and the article was not published. Perhaps Mayor Cates and Bob Marbut should submit a co-authored homeless article to the blue paper, since they are experts on homelessness in Key West.
Also saw this last night on yesterday’s Coconut Telegraph at www.bigpinekey.com:
[“Homeless issue”] It’s not an issue — it’s the way it is. A way of life. We have warm weather year around. The homeless love it here. They don’t want to be told what cot to sleep on, when to get up, when to turn the lights out and go to bed or take a bath. Many, if not all, get money and meds from the state, local and federal government. Anti depression, sleep and pain meds can then be sold on the street, if they want. If they need medical attention they go to the ER for free. They own a few t-shirts, shorts and in some cases flip-flops. Their belonging fit in a bag. If they need more there is “Sals” (Salvation Army). Our local church’s have poor boxes, food banks and hot meals throughout the week. Most of these folks will not and do not want to make a change. Some have mental problems, some are runaways. Some are unsightly, dirty or even panhandlers, who make you feel uncomfortable when you pass them on the street. Most are doing just fine and wouldn’t change a thing. Is it that hard to understand that they don’t want to change a thing? Paul Simon — Homeless
I dunno, Paul, were you ever homeless? I have known many homeless people and not one I got to know was happy being homeless (except a fellow on Big Pine Key, who actually was a trust fund baby and was homeless because he liked living that way). Their not liking being homeless did not automatically translate, however, into being able to pull themselves out of it.
In Citizen’s Voice today – www.keysnews.com:
“Wow, the vagrants are all over Rest Beach camping out and drinking. Why can’t this town handle these bums and rid the taxpayers of this nuisance? Where is our city leadership?”
Your city leadership is trying to dodge admitting that there isn’t a dang thing they can do to handle these bums and rid the taxpayers of this nuisance, short of ordering city police to kill every last one of the bums, like they killed the suspected bum Charles Eimers last Thanksgiving day.
“I’m homeless. I work at a local grocery store. My husband works in carpentry specializing in renovations. We have lived here 30 years and been homeless for one year due to our home being sold and not having $5,000 for first, last and a security deposit for a new home. We have had medical problems over the last few years that ate away our savings. We’re not bums, addicts or drunks. It hurts reading all the mean comments lately about the homeless. It can happen to anyone.”
Until it happens to you, best you not hold forth on it, because until it happens to you, you don’t know what you are talking about.
Also in that regard:
On the bottom of the steps outside Old City Hall after last night’s CRB meeting, I talked with a local homeless man who said the city needs at 24-hour homeless shelter where homeless people can sleep, shower and store their belongings, which will enable them to get jobs and try to stop being homeless.
I said, I had lived on the street in Key West, and had stayed at KOTS and had been in Florida Keys Outreach Coalition (FKOC) program. That clearly got his attention. I said, his idea will work for some homeless people, but not for all. The drunks will need to be kept in a drunk tank at night, and not mingled with homeless people who are trying to turn their lives around. I said, FKOC has a turn-around shelter program for men and women, who have clean urine, and Samuel’s House has the same just for women.
The fellow said, he had been in FKOC’s program, but he still was homeless; he didn’t want to stop drinking, but it wasn’t that big a problem for him. I agreed with him: he could not get night work and stay at FKOC, which has a night curfew. He said, many homeless people can get night jobs, but they need a place to sleep, wash up, store their belongings.
I said, he could attend tonight’s city commission and at the very end he could explain that to the mayor and the city commissioners during closing citizen comments, when citizens are allowed to address anything they wish to address to the mayor and city commissioners. He said he had not known about that and will be there tonight and will say that to the mayor and the city commissioners.
I said I hoped so, because the mayor and city commissioners are fed up with hearing from me about homeless people, and homeless people don’t come to city commission meetings and tell the mayor and city commissioners what homeless people need. I do hope the fellow is there and speaks tonight. Stay tuned.
breakfast at Harpoon Harry’s
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West