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“Mud Dawg” Mike Tolbert wrote to me about his, Patti Jo and Daddy Bones’ part of yesterday’s ambush poetry, a way of life in Key West post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
We got Hammered but after reading your post twice and simmering today I had to write! My favorite MAYRON thinks I had bad things to say before let me jump in both feet, I was not raised to back down if folks too dumb to see the emperor aint got no clothes let me point it out! First they guy sounds like he is whining every time he opens his mouth. SECOND What I think or said about him has not hurt business if anything I got a seious uptick after his wife came on social media and scolded me! REALLY your wife Mayor? Hey if you think you’re doing such a stellar job and are so well in touch with the people who live and work in key west PLEASE explain why you took a beating on channel widening study despite the money spent pushing for it. Hey lets not stop there! What about all the business closures on your watch a lot to do with fact that the road construction was not allowed to go 24/7 from start? Sorry to hurt the man’s Ego but I raced backwoods GA and ALA dirt track that boy would have lasted 2 laps period. Mayor Cates get real your in office to stoke your Ego nothing more! Rednecks aint got time for no he said she said I don’t pull punches I tell it like it is! Just be really thankful that most of service industry does not get out and vote, sadly so because you would have long ago been outta office. Remember Mayor I aint bound by Roberts Rules of Order and really not worried about no commission seat. I can and will point out the fact that under your watch the city aint beautiful, well unless your looking down from your ivory tower with some rosé color glasses and maybe a bottle or 2 of Kristol. I cant figure how you got reelected after channel widening fiasco. OK Cheryl u can scold me again! Hey wanna shoot some pool at Sticks, maybe grab a taco or some KFC and talk? Maybe I will buy you a CD at FYE to make up? OH WAIT!!!! Mike Redneck Daddy Bones!
The Daddy Bones BBQ going out of business free feast for working people begins today at 2 p.m. and ends when the food runs out. Located behind Checkers on North Roosevelt Blvd.
Again, here’s the recent Citizen article on the feast:
Friday, June 6, 2014 Add to FacebookAdd to Twitter
Eatery offers free food to working homeless
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
Mike and Patti Jo Tolbert gave away free smoked barbecue pork ribs, chicken and beef as part of the grand opening of their New Town restaurant, Daddy Bones BBQ, in 2009.
Five years later, the Tolberts still work the smokers every day and deal with the daily grind of running a restaurant. On Thursday, the ice machine conked out, and the price of brisket had temporarily taken that dish off the menu.
But despite being on the edge of closing up their business, which is on the market, the Tolberts spent this week planning a Sunday event that offers free hot dinners to the island’s working poor — particularly the homeless men and women.
The free feast is set for 2 p.m. Sunday and will last until the pit-smoked meat runs out.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Mike Tolbert said Thursday afternoon, outside the barbecue joint as he held court at one of the picnic tables. “And we might as well go out the same way.”
People with jobs only. No “vodka heads” or anybody like the fellow who recently tried to swipe the counter tip jar, and when caught whined about how he had to steal since he’s homeless, Tolbert said.
Daddy Bones, 2502 N. Roosevelt Blvd., is a colorful spot that for the past year or so has been partially buried behind the state’s $42 million rebuild of the boulevard.
On Thursday, customers turning in passed a parked bulldozer and had to navigate through the orange barrel-lined highway to get into Conch Plaza’s lot. That’s hurt business, the Tolberts said. On Thursday, the idea of closing up shop was all too real.
“It hurts,” said Patti Jo, who turned 55 on Thursday.
Sunday’s food giveaway, funded in part by a local anonymous donor, is also Tolbert’s message to city leaders: Come meet the working homeless who sleep at the shelter on Stock Island while holding down full-time jobs.
Tolbert said he has invited all city commissioners and Mayor Craig Cates. As of Thursday, he said only Commissioner Teri Johnston has replied to say she will be there.
“They really should meet the people they affect,” said Tolbert, a South Miami native who has been coming to Key West for 30 years.
One such local is Brendan Coughlin, 48, an upstate New Yorker who has called the Florida Keys home for nearly 20 years. Coughlin works in the kitchen at Daddy Bones. Tolbert hired him about three months ago.
Acknowledging that he moves around a lot, and always has, Coughlin said the cost of rent is keeping him at the city’s Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter, which can hold 140 people a night and empties out at 7 a.m.
“I’ve lived indoors here,” said Coughlin, who finds himself homeless for 18 months to 2 years at a time. He used to live in a houseboat “on the hook” with others. But that ended. “I like it down here, I always have.”
Coughlin said he has spent his life working in restaurant kitchens and doing landscaping. He doesn’t vote locally, and said he wasn’t interviewed earlier this year when a band of nonprofits sent volunteers out to do a homeless count, which found 658 county-wide.
“A lot of people want work and a place to live,” Coughlin said of those at KOTS. He was quick to make a distinction between the local homeless who hold jobs and those who panhandle for cash.
“I know a lot of people who do it [panhandle] and they consider it working,” Coughlin said.
Mike and Patti Jo Tolbert know about living below the poverty line.
In their early Key West days, circa 1986, he and his wife lived in a 1972 Volkswagen van with a push-up top that they parked along the Bridle Path at Smathers Beach.
“When you stay at a mission, you end up sick,” said Patti Jo, a native of West Virginia.
They’ve been back full-time since 1999, and now live in a trailer on Stock Island. Come January, they’ll celebrate 30 years of marriage.
“The main tenet of living is living free,” Tolbert said the other night, while nursing a ginger ale at the outside bar at Dons’ Place. “Key West has an affordable housing problem. It’s not the same island it was.”
Now it’s illegal for anyone in Key West to live in a vehicle. Places like the Tilton Hilton, which offered cheap rooms and $4 showers on Duval Street, are gone.
Mike Tolbert admitted he doesn’t have any easy answers for solving homelessness in Key West. Like a lot of locals, he doesn’t care for the ones who start fights or steal, or drive around on bicycles drunk.
The couple says they’re not requiring proof of employment on Sunday. They say they’ve been here long enough and can discern between a down-on-his-luck homeless man who wants to work and a scamming drifter.
While talking about the barbecue business, Patti Jo said they had discussed becoming homeless in order to save the restaurant. But they managed to keep it running without giving up their home.
Still, the couple has a penchant for Key West.
“I like what the old Conchs say,” Patti Jo said. “‘As long as the Carpetbaggers keep coming down here, we’ll rebuild it when they tear it down. When they tear it down, we’ll still be here.”
It ain’t the carpetbaggers I worry so much about; it’s the local scallywags who behave like and often go into partnership with the carpetbaggers that worry me. Scallywags are not to be confused with redneck immigrants, whose brand of justice often seems just what is needed in Key West, right Curtis and Leroy?
Toward the middle of last year, when I still lived out in the sticks on Little Torch Key, I drove down to Key West for a town hall city commission meeting, at which the guest speakers were from the Florida Department of Transportation, who were in charge of redoing North Roosevelt Blvd.
About a week before the town meeting, I had run into former City Commissioner Barry Gibson in the Big Pine Key Winn-Dixie.
I asked Barry why the city had agreed for the redo of North Roosevelt to take almost 2 1/2 years, which had killed lots of business on that road? Barry said that was the only thing about his term as a city commissioner, which he regretted. He wished he had held out for a faster work schedule, but he was only one vote. Even so, he wished he had held out.
That was stuck away in the back of my mind when my turn came during citizen comments the town hall meeting. The head of FDOT, Ananth Prasad,
stood at the other speaker’s station, where he had answered questions from citizens at the speaker station where I stood.
Looking at Prasad, I said it was a tough project. He nodded, appreciatively. Then, he turned and started talking with one of his staff. I waited a bit, he kept talking with his staff. I was on the clock, losing talking time. I said pretty loud, “Are you listening to me?!” Prasad turned, looked at me, said he was listening to me. I said, it didn’t look that way to me.
Mayor Cates, above, intervened, said I was out of line. I said, Prasad wasn’t listening to me, and I had two questions for him to answer. Mayor Cates told me to ask the questions.
I said to Prasad. First, why did you take so long to get involved in this problem, when it was known from the start that the contractor was not working on schedule? Second, since everyone knew the impact the construction would have on the North Roosevelt businesses, why had not the construction been done round the clock, seven days a week, instead of one work shift, five days a week?
Prasad went off on tangents. I said he was not answering my questions. Prasad went off on more tangents. I said he was not answering my questions. Mayor Cates intervened again, said I was embarrassing the entire city. I said I wanted Prasad to answer my questions. My time ran out. I said I still wanted Prasad to answer my questions. Mayor Cates told me to sit down, Prasad would answer my questions.
Prasid said, it was the city noise ordinance; the city didn’t want to disturb the North Roosevelt residential neighborhoods.
Bingo! Prasad actually looked relieved to have gotten himself and FDOT off the hot seat and to have put Mayor Cates and the city commissioners on it. For it was they who had voted for one-shift a week. They could have waived the city noise ordinance and gotten a faster work schedule.
That was what Barry Gibson had meant the week before at the Winn-Dixie. That was why Mayor Cates wanted to shut me down; he knew where I was headed with my grilling of Prasad. Up to then, everyone in the city was blaming Prasad and FDOT for the five days a week work schedule.
Prasad did not answer my other question: Why did he not get involved when it was seen the contractor FDOT had hired was dragging its feet? So, I kept saying from the audience that Prasad had not answered that question, as Mayor Cates had said Prasad would do, also. Mayor Cates told the police officer on duty to get me to be quiet. I told the police officer Mayor Cates had said Prasad would answer both of my questions. The police officer said it wasn’t going to happen.
The Citizen laid into me the next day, said I had yelled at Prasad, and Mayor Cates had said I was embarrassing the entire city. The Citizen left out that Prasad was not listening to me, and the Citizen left out my two questions to Prasad, and his answer that the city noise ordinance was why the construction had not been done round the clock and on weekends. All of which I had carefully explained during the town hall meeting to the Citizen’s journalist Gwen Filosa, who had said she said she had gotten it, but she did not report it.
Former practicing lawyer Tim Gratz, above, then sent in a letter to the editor, which the Citizen published. Tim said he was at the town hall meeting. It was Mayor Cates, not Sloan Bashinsky, who had embarrassed the city, by getting in the way of Sloan questioning Prasad, who was not listening to Sloan. Tim said Sloan did not yell at Prasad, as the Citizen had reported. But Tim did not say in his letter what Sloan had asked Prasad, or what Prasad had said about the city noise ordinance.
Tim worked at Domino Pizza on North Roosevelt. He had been active in causing the ruckus which eventually brought Prasad and his entourage down from Tallahassee. However, Tim was reluctant to admit to me that it was was Mayor Cates and the city commissioners, who had decided on the nearly 2/12 year redo of North Roosevelt. Tim said, it was hard to believe that was what had happened. I told him Prasad had proved that was what had happened. What was to believe? More proof, at the town hall meeting the mayor and city commissioners had waived the noise ordinance and told Prasad to work faster, even at night and on weekends.
As far as I know, the Citizen never reported what Prasad said about the city noise ordinance being the reason for the nearly 2 1/2 hear construction schedule. Nor did the Keynoter, nor any other Keys newspaper. As far as I know, only I reported it, at www.goodmorningkwest.com.
Moving laterally, during the Key West Chamber of Commerce’s bring bigger cruise ships into Key West referendum forums last year.
Citizen editorial cartoons
The Key West Chamber of Commerce claimed throughout that it was a referendum on only having “a channel-widening study” done. However, the genie jumped clean out of the bottle when Robin Lockwood, M.D., President of the Key West Chamber,
told the audience that the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships are calling on Key West. Worst possible, because they dump their wastes into the sea. Lockwood used that fact to argue the channel should be widened so even bigger cruise ships with modern waste water treatment plants could make it into Key West, to replace the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships (which had been calling on Key West for decades).
The forum was video-taped and put on You Tube. I watched it the next morning. In contained Dr. Lockwood saying the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships are calling on Key West. A couple of hours later, the You Tube was taken down, and the Chamber refused to release it to the public, even though it had been a public forum put on by the Chamber, whose offices are on the first floor of Key West’s Old City Hall, which is owned by the city. Upstairs is where city commission and other city government meetings are held.
Old City Hall
At the next bring in bigger cruise ships referendum forum, I reminded Dr. Lockwood of what he’d said just a few days before at the Chamber’s forum about the worst cruise ships calling on Key West. Then, I said, what I want to know was: Why he and the Chamber, had not raised bloody hell to get those cruise ships banned from calling on Key West?
Dr. Lookwood said he had not said that.
Whereupon, Jolly Benson,
the anti-channel widening spokesperson throughout that naval battle, said he’d heard Lookwood say it. Then, Jolly asked for a show of hands in the audience, of who’d heard Lockwood say it? About 20 hands went up.
I never was able to get Dr. Lockwood to answer my question at that forum. I suppose the question was like Mrs. Smith’s lawyer asking Mr. Smith during their divorce trial, “Mr. Smith, when did you stop beating your wife?” And Mr. Smith’s lawyer asking Mrs. Smith, “Mrs. Smith, did you ever tell Mr. Smith that you were screwing his brother?”
Here are photos Jolly’s brother Will, a local tarpon guide, took during that naval battle, of a cruise ship leaving Key West’s outer mole pier, which photos I used frequently in posts at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.
That’s not sewerage being dumped, it’s the channel bottom being torn up. The referendum was not about deepening the channel. The newer, bigger cruise ships would have torn the channel bottom up even more. This happens every time a cruise ship leaves Key West. On average, about every day, or more often. Sometimes, three cruise ships dock at Key West on the same day.
Here are editorial cartoons from Key West the Blue Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com.
The referendum was smashed by 74% of the votes cast.
Mayor Cates and the city commissioners had voted to put the referendum on the ballot last year, for the voters to decide it, instead of Mayor Cates and the commissioners simply doing the right thing and telling the Chamber and the bigger cruise ship huggers, NO. The bigger cruise ship huggers had wanted the referendum on the ballot last year, because it was a light election year and they hoped a low voter turn out would enable them to stack the deck and win. They got a big voter turn out and got clobbered.
I viewed, and still view, the referendum as a statement on how the voters feel about cruise ships calling on Key West. A statement expressed quite well by Key West restaurant owner Eliot Baron in this photo
taken on the USS Ingram, which is docked permanently in Key West and is a city naval museum. Former City Commissioner Bill Verge, semi-official admiral of the Ingram,
took the photo. They told me that Elliot took a similar photo of Bill, which I have not seen.
This “cartoon” pretty much summed up what Dr. Lockwood said, then said he didn’t say it.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West
There is a If you think it’s too expensive to treat veterans, then don’t send them to war – better yet, don’t fight stupid, ruinous Corporate USA wars in the first place post today at www.goodmorningfloridakeys.com, which you should be able to reach today by clicking on either of those links, and anytime by clicking on the first link.