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Wow. Still nothing in the Citizen – www.keysnews.com – about the Goombay upheaval during Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting. No article, no editorial, no letter to the editor, nothing in Citizen’s Voice. I didn’t see anything in the Keynoter, either – www.keysnet. I covered the upheaval in yesterday’s Goombay – Key West’s Bahamian/Caribbean African roots festival hits rough seas this past Tuesday night post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.
After we used Facebook to work out a date for lunch soon, Father Steve Braddock, CEO of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, wrote yesterday:
See you then. Hope you are well and not allowing all the political BS to drag you down, Peace
Drag me down? Why, what better way to prove each day that I live! – sorry Descartes – than to have yet another brilliant political SNAFU get me to fuming, laughing my ass off, crying many rivers and knowing the gods are, too .
As if to throw fuel onto the fire, last night I saw “Deliver Us From Evil” at Regal Cinema.
Nice of the angels to make sure I didn’t forget what is really going on in what they dump on me in Key West of Paradise.
Mud Dawg Mike Tolbert also cheered me up yesterday:
If I was to awaken tomorrow in my room at tilton Hilton after a ride down overseas hiway from ochopee and walk outside into a time warp and saw the old Bubba cops holding court in the old city garage next to police station in tiltons back door. I would be Happy as a pig in shit! Cause at least then folks were Honest about who and what they were! People did not smile while pissing on your foot and telling you its raining! And Next generations who made out on those folks dealings acting like they are better than thou when its the same damn money your familys made u just cleaned it up a little and screwed up the Entire city with it. A starbucks in every t shirt shop and a hyatt or marriot on every block is maybe what key west deserves. The waffle house is still the best example of the decline of civilized key west! Or maybe it started before that with the Demise of the BOCA CHICA bar. At least when politicians were sleeping off hangovers from watching the sunrise at the county line they were not showing the arrogance and stupidity they exhibit while awake and at city hall.
I sent back:
Friends of yours?
Tim Gratz of Key West sent yesterday:
Are you aware that a year or so ago a man named Israel Hernandez died as a result of tasering in Miami Beach and that a week or so ago a Miami Beach audit committee recommended stronger policies regarding officer use of force. One was that all officers be equipped with body cameras. You might want to look into this. I assume the audit report is a matter of public record.
|via MIA Skate Shop’s Instagram|
|Israel Hernandez was allegedly Tasered to death by Miami Beach Police officers yesterday.|
An 18-year-old skater died yesterday after Miami Beach Police officers caught him tagging a building and then Tasered him.
Details about the death are still murky, but what is clear is that Israel Hernandez died before dawn Tuesday morning after cops caught him spray painting near 71st Street and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. Police have yet to comment on the killing, but an officer near the scene confirmed that cops had fatally Tasered someone. Hernandez’s friends on the Miami Beach skate scene are devastated.
“I just cant believe it,” says best friend Rafael Lynch, on the verge of tears. “I still have his hat and his board. They still smell like him. It’s crazy.”
Update: MBPD has released a statement and incident report confirming that Hernandez died after being Tasered. Police chased Hernandez after catching him tagging a building and used the electronic weapon when he refused to stop.
See also: Miami Beach cops are paid up to $225K and face lawsuits galore
Hernandez and Lynch often hung out together at MIA Skate Shop in Sunny Isles, where Lynch worked. Lynch says his friend, a Colombian immigrant who had only recently gotten his papers, was a brilliant and peaceful kid.
“This dude wasn’t a regular dude,” Lynch says. “He wasn’t into partying… I’ve seen him drink a beer in the past but nothing to get fucked up…
“I loved this person. He was very different. He had a passion for skating and art and many other things. He taught me a lot.”
MIA Skate Shop posted a photo of Hernandez on its Instagram feed today. Reactions ranged from outrage to heartbreak.
Hi, Tim –
Tasering certainly pose risks and probably is overused by police. Police sidearms pose far greater risks.
Maybe the angels will kick my butt for saying it, but this case looks like Miami’s problem, not Key West’s.
So far, it looks to me the angels’ concern about the Matthew Murphy case is whether or not he was tasered from behind without warning from the cop.
Parallel, in the Charles Eimsers case, the angels, so far, seem not concerned with prone restraint, per se, but with the attitude and behavior of the cops who were on top of Eimers, and with the cover up attempts afterward.
If, in fact, Eimers was tazered, why? Four cops were on top of him, after he put himself face down on the beach. Since when were four cops on top of one man face down not able to subdue him by holding his arms and legs and cuffing him?
Attitude of police in arrests which go bad seems to be what the angels look at first, is what I’m trying to say.
Did the police in the Miami tasering case really need to taser Hernandez? I don’t see anything indicating he posed them any threat to themselves. Spray-painting a building doesn’t seem to be the kind of behavior to warrant tasering, or shooting, the perpetrator.
Meanwhile, the City Commission has yet to show any remorse for or apologize to the Charles Eimers family for the City Commission’s police killing Charles last Thanksgiving Day because they thought he was living in his vehicle. Even as the City Commission makes criminals of and jails homeless people who drink in public, while making saints of everyone else who drinks in public.
Drifting over to another City Commission adventure, in the Citizen today (www.keysnews.com), my interjected thoughts in italics:
Friday, July 4, 2014 Add to FacebookAdd to Twitter
Fernandez threatens legal action
The 28-year veteran city employee whose recent contract debacle led to the ousting of City Manager Bob Vitas wants to take the utilities director’s job he was exclusively offered June 11, according to an exchange between his attorney and the interim city manager.
That contract, signed off by Vitas without any review by the legal department, is void, City Attorney Shawn Smith declared on Monday at a special city commission meeting held to sever ties with Vitas.
“I disagree with your analysis about the contract being void and if it has to go the judicial route that’s something we are prepared to do, but only as a last resort,” Attorney John Marston wrote Wednesday in an email to Smith. “Our prime goal right now is to see if something that works for the city and David can be salvaged.”
Fernandez is welcome to apply for any city job through the process everyone else goes through, Smith replied. But the five-year contract struck June 11 between Vitas and Fernandez that promised Fernandez a $114,000-a-year position as utilities director is over, Smith said.
From my experiences practicing law, I say if Fernandez files suit, a judge and jury, not Shawn Smith, not John Marston, will decide if Fernandez’s utilities director contract is void. How such a lawsuit might end, I have no clue. But what if Fernandez testifies Bob Vitas, then City Manager, induced Fernandez to resign his assistant city manager position and take his retirement, with a promise of hiring Fernandez to be the new utilities department head? Given the sour way it ended between Bob Vitas and the City Commission and Shawn Smith, would the city be able to count on Vitas testifying differently?
Reached Thursday, Marston said he couldn’t answer any questions about Fernandez’s employment options.
Smith’s letter, however, indicates that Fernandez asked the city to extend the July 3 retirement date he requested prior to June 11.
Smith said no, citing Fernandez’s signature on a form that read he was voluntarily resigning and agreed to “sever all relationships with the city of Key West for employment purposes” and reapply from square one to seek another city job.
Again, will Fernandez argure he voluntairily resigned because of what he had been promised by City Manager Bob Vitas, and but for that promise, he, Fernandez, would not have resigned?
“I likewise accept your retirement effective July 3, 2014, and in accordance with Section 2-141 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Key West, your service as an assistant city manager shall conclude at that time,” Smith wrote in a two-page letter to Fernandez dated Wednesday.
The letter was hand delivered and the subject line is: “Employment status.”
At the same Monday meeting, City Commissioner Billy Wardlow said that city employees are “scared” of Fernandez and Commissioner Tony Yaniz mockingly thanked Fernandez and accused him of ordering projects without permits.
If Fernandez was guilty of these things, and Commissioner Wardlow and the City Commission knew of it, why didn’t they press Vitas to fire Fernadez? Likewise, why did the City Commission not pressure for City Planner Don Craig to be fired after he got drunk and threw rocks at cars passing in front of his home, until he hit a police cruiser and was arrested and taken to jail? And, I suppose I could ask, why didn’t the City Commission clamor to have Police Chief Donnie Lee fired for his police not killing Don Craig?
Fernandez, who wasn’t at Tuesday’s regular commission meeting, cleaned out his office Wednesday, according to a staff member. He carried out diplomas, paintings and other framed items from the walls of his office, some one at a time, out to his truck.
Fernandez told colleagues he wanted no send-off on his final day.
But on Wednesday, his attorney sent word to Smith that Fernandez wants to “salvage” some type of position with the city.
“Would you be amenable as acting [city manager] to sit down with David and me and discuss applying for the job?” Marston asked in an email. “Is it possible to start this process anew with [the active city manager] before July 3 when the retirement is effective?”
Marston is dreaming. Or posturing for leverage. Or grasping at straws.
Smith was named interim city manager for a few days until Jim Scholl returned this week to the job he held before Vitas arrived the summer of 2012.
Scholl held a 10 a.m. staff meeting Wednesday at City Hall, attended by Fernandez and all department managers and directors, even though his contract didn’t take effect until 8 a.m. Thursday, staff members said.
Employees were notified by email Tuesday night of the staff meeting. Earlier this year, Vitas had restricted the staff meetings to only a select group and told department heads not to come anymore.
In response to city commissioners’ anger over the Fernandez contract, Vitas agreed to have his original contract with the city canceled one year early in exchange for 18 weeks of serverance and benefits, including pay for sick leave, a car allowance and his retirement investment.
The total payout approved 7-0 Monday by the commission is $120,000. Vitas earned $180,000 a year as city manager, the same pay Scholl has for a year, or until the commission hires a permanent replacement.
Vitas maintained he made the correct decision in hiring Fernandez, but Smith and the commission said he should have run the Fernandez contract by the legal department.
In his letter to Fernandez this week, Smith said Vitas “lacked authority to execute that agreement. Specifically, he failed to comply with state law, the city charter and the code of ordinance of the city.”
The $114,000 contract also promised Fernandez his assistant city manager’s pay rate for doing tasks while he worked as utilities director.
Four city employees applied for the utilities director job, including Fernandez. But Vitas tailored the position for Fernandez, replacing a $61,000 a year manager’s job with a director’s job paying $114,000 a year.
Perhaps Gwen Filosa should have reported: when Fernandez was city utilities director before, he made close to what Vitas agreed to pay him to retake that job. Looks to me what really is going on is: (a) the double dip was a really bad idea: and (b) the City Commission already was looking for a way to get rid of Fernandez, and Vitas and Fernandez obliged.
In today’s Citizen’s Voice:
“I believe it’s true that Shawn Smith is the problem in Key West. Bob Vitas went to save the city $90,000 by moving David Fernandez into a different position and Shawn Smith did not like that. I believe Bob Vitas is a good man who was looking out for the taxpayers. Shame on the commissioners.”
Baloney. If Vitas wanted to save the city money, he would have transferred Fernandez to the utility department at his same salary and not accepted Fernandez’ resignation.
“I’m a third generation Conch. I have two college degrees. I’m bilingual and computer literate in all programs. I read, write and speak Spanish fluently. I’d run for city manager, but I’m afraid I’d make one mistake and they’d get rid of me.”
Do you have any experience managing a city government, or managing any large company or division thereof, or commanding a naval base like Jim Scholl did before became city manager? I think Bob Vitas made more than one mistake. I think he stopped communicating with Shawn Smith and was making legal decisions even though he was not a lawyer.
Moving laterally and slightly offshore,
this past Wednesday, I attended the who owns Wisteria Island? hearing in the US Courthouse on Simonton Street in Key West. Here’s the link to Key West the Newspaper’s (www.thebluepaper) comprehensive report on that hearing:
Key West The Newspaper [The Blue Paper] encourages spirited, open debate in comments on our stories. We do ask that you refrain from profanity, personal attacks and remarks that are off point. Please join the conversation!
SLOAN BASHINSKY YOUR COMMENT IS AWAITING MODERATION.
JULY 4, 2014 AT 6:53 AM
“According to Richard, the 12-year statue of limitations has not expired because it only starts tolling from the moment …”
As I recall from a dubious past lawyer life, tolling means the statute of limitations stops running. If that is true, “tolling” in that sentence should be “running”.
I found myself liking Judge Martinez, because he seemed on top of the case and the law; because he served in the Navy here and has independent personal knowledge of the terrain, I can’t call that a “coincidence”; because he has little respect, apparently, for government bureaucrats; and because he said “hell”, which I never heard a federal judge say while on the bench or in chambers.
Although I did hear the federal judge for whom I clerked say hell, and plenty more, when he wasn’t acting as a judge. I wrote a tribute to him in A FEW REMARKABLE PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN – “He Used to Drink Moonshine”. It’s the first story in that little book, a link to which is in the top header of http://www.goodmorningkeywest.com.
I think maybe Judge Allgood and Judge Martinez might have gotten along pretty good. But I swan if I know how Judge Martinez will rule, even though I hope he rules for the US – I hate think you and the angels went to all that hard work for the Bernsteins to win.
In today’s online KONK Life (www.konknet.com), I added the pic:
Last Stand calls for deep injection well at Cudjoe Wastewater Treatment Plant
Last Stand announced Thursday it is strongly opposed to disposal of treated sewage into shallow wells at the as yet unfinished Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.
In letters to DEP, FKAA and each Monroe County commissioner, the Keyswide environmental group cited state regulations, insufficient treatment and danger to sealife as reasons why the plant should be required to pump its waste 2,500-3,000 feet below the surface into the Boulder Zone.
“DEP requires sewage plants that have the potential to treat one million gallons a day to use deep well disposal,” said Naja Girard, president of Last Stand, a watch-dog group which has operated in the Keys for more than 25 years. “Deep wells receive the partially treated waste water and retain it below solid barriers, while shallow wells allow the fresh water to rise to the surface and move into the nearshore waters,” she added.
There are other just as, if not more, serious water pollution threats posed by Cudjoe Regional being heavily dependent on grinder pumps. When I tried to get Naja interested in those threats, she as much as said she wasn’t interested. That aside, I’m wondering if Last Stand will sue to try to stop the shallow injection wells? Or is this simply another paper arrow from Last Stand, which seems to be its style for some time now. If ever there was an outfit in the Keys to put Monroe County, Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and Florida Department of Environmental Protection into court over the very real threats Cudjoe Regional Sewer System is to the lower islands, the ocean and the reef, it should have been Last Stand.
Then, there is the wee water pollution fact exposed by the Key West Chamber of Commerce last year, which is the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships are calling on Key West, and have since the first cruise ship arrived here a long time ago. These cruise ships are polluting the ocean with their sewerage and food wastes. Knowing of this, and that as the ocean and the reef go, Key West goes, the City Commission, the Chamber of Commerce, Last Stand, Reef Relief and the Citizen have done nothing to stop the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships from calling on Key West.
past www.thebluepaper.com editorial cartoon
Comic relief yesterday on www.bigpinekey.com ‘s Coconut Telegraph bitch and praise page:
[Points to Ponder]
-Death is the number 1 killer in the world.
-Life is sexually transmitted.
-Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
-Men have two emotions: hungry and horny, and they can’t tell them apart. If you see a gleam in his eyes, make him a sandwich.
-Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the internet and they won’t bother you for weeks, months, maybe years.
-Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.
-All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
-In the 60?s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it normal.
-Life is like a jar of jalapeno peppers. What you do today might burn your ass tomorrow.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West, aka “southernmost the nut house”