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From yesterday’s post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
I learned in a KONK Life email BLAST yesterday –http://www.konknet.com – that a 2-hour mayor candidate forum hosted by the golf course community on Stock Island had been reduced from 3 to 2 candidates, because Mayor Cates had a prior commitment. It struck me as off the reservation bizarre that the forum host had not already informed me that Mayor Cates would not be there. I wondered if Mayor Cates really had a prior commitment? I wondered if he simply did not wish to be sandwiched between two barracudas, Margartet Romero and me, in a hostile forum. Mayor Cates has pushed to put the city’s new homeless shelter next to their golf course, and that has enraged them.
left to right, Craig Cates, Margaret Romero, moi
That led to me pondering a mayor candidate debate I had agreed to participate in on Pirate Radio in Key West. Margaret Romero also had agreed to participate. All left was to get a date when Mayor Cates would participate, I was told by the pirates when they interviewed me on Pirate Radio about a month ago. They said they would get back with me soon on the date. They asked my advice for how to structure the debate. The pirates knew I had participated in more candidate forums than anyone in the Florida Keys. To date, the pirates did not get back to me. I wonder if Mayor Cates dodged that debate because he didn’t want to be sandwiched between two barracudas for an hour on a popular Key West radio station?
There will be other candidate forums the mayor candidates will attend, but those forums’ formats will not allow for the intense and long examination of the candidates, which the golf course forum and the Pirate Radio debate would have provided. The other candidate forums can be likened to tea parties, and the golf course and Pirate Radio forums to Star Chamber Proceedings.
My friend Todd German,
who also is close to Mayor Craig Cates, told me yesterday morning that my take on why Craig declined to attend the golf club candidate forum was probably dead on. Then, Todd defended Craig for not wanting to participate in a forum in a known hostile environment, which Craig had created by trying to put the new homeless shelter next to their golf course. I said, if Craig takes that position, then he isn’t grown up, he’s still a little boy, he’s a chicken, and he doesn’t deserve to be mayor even now. Todd, who is Chairman of Hometown! PAC, which hosts candidate events, including candidate forums, said candidate forums are supposed to be neutral, candidates are supposed to feel safe at forums. I said, not true; candidates are supposed to be grilled at forums, exposed. Todd said, then candidates won’t attend forums.
I said that I’d heard Judge Tegan Slaton
did poorly at the Boondocks candidate forum. He came across badly, like there might be something wrong with him. Not like he was drinking, like something else, the way he was thinking and talking. Todd said, tactically, Tegan should stop attending candidate forums and just stand on his record and let his campaign workers and campaign posters and other campaign advertising promote him. Even though, Todd said, that would not be the best thing for the voters.
Todd said that County Clerk, Amy Heavelin was doing terrible at candidate forums in 2012, and she was advised to stop going to forums and to let the Sheriff and his political allies work her campaign. I said I’d heard the same thing: the Sheriff and others told Amy to let them take care of getting her elected – she was the Sheriff’s Comptroller. I said, they did a good job and got Amy elected, and look at what a mess that turned out to be. The Clerk’s office is all screwed up. Amy is a perfect reason why Tegan Slaton needs to attend candidate forums, and Craig Cates, too.
Last time I spoke with Tegan was at Hometown’s Call to Candidates last April. We spoke twice. Once while the event was in progress, once afterward. He was brusque, pushy and I thought he was drunk, and I told Todd and other people that, and that Tegan looked to me like he was seriously ill, physically – his skin was yellow and he looked to me like he was dying. He behaved much better at Hometown’s Meet the Candidates in June, and his skin was not yellow, but he looked seriously overweight.
Candidate’s character, behavior and mental and physical health are relevant to their qualifications for office. Nothing is off limits when it comes to vetting candidates for public office. I publicly vet myself ongoing. And I dodge nothing.
An article in today’s Citizen shows what the Citizen thinks is important in campaigning for public office.
They used this 2006 photo of me.
The Citizen did not contact me. If they had, I would have provided this recent photo.
Or, they could have gotten this 2011 photo off the Supervisor of Election’s website.
I put a few comments in italics.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
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Candidates campaign contributions
Cates’ cache nearly 3 times Romero, 20 times Bashinsky
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
Mayor Craig Cates has a comfortable, solid lead in one campaign department — money.
Cates, who is seeking his fourth and final term in the Aug. 26 primary, has raised nearly $40,000 and spent almost $21,000 on the 2014 race, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Monroe County Supervisor of Elections.
Unlike his two opponents, third-time mayoral candidate Margaret Romero and perennial ballot choice Sloan Bashinsky, Cates has raised every cent for the 2014 campaign.
Translated: Asking for campaign contributions is a virtue, using your own money is a vice.
The mayor said he doesn’t like asking for campaign cash — especially since he was just re-elected eight months ago, forced to run for a one-year term as the city synched its elections with statewide contests.
Translated: The mayor doesn’t like spending his own money to run for office.
“It’s difficult but I’m just so excited about the support and the money I’ve raised,” Cates said Friday. “People have been calling me to give me money to help make sure I get re-elected.”
Cates spent about $31,000 on his last campaign, while Romero raised under $5,000. So far, Cates has spent $21,000 compared to Romero’s $8,217.
The mayor’s current campaign balance of $39,830 is almost three times more than what’s been raised by Romero, the retired IBM consultant who for a third time is trying to wrest the mayor’s office from Cates.
Romero, who has never held public office and is a constant presence at the podium during city commission meetings, has lost two consecutive elections to Cates.
In 2011, she ran against Cates along with Bashinsky and Carie Noda. The mayor was re-elected by a 70 percent margin, with Romero in second place at 27 percent.
I did not run in 2011. Last time I ran for mayor was 2009.
Last fall, only Romero signed up to run against the incumbent, collecting a respectable 46 percent of the votes cast.
Romero has raised $14,385 so far, including $3,000 of her own cash. She has spent $8,200 on the typical campaign costs that range from her new black on yellow signs featuring her silhouette — complete with hair bun — and rentals for campaign events.
The third candidate in the race, Sloan Bashinsky — a former lawyer who is a perennial name on the ballot for various offices —
Cates and Romero are not perennial candidates? Cates ran for mayor in 2009, 2011, 2012 and this year. Romero ran for mayor in 2011, 2012 and this year.
is once again the most thrifty campaigner, having given himself $1,750 to run. He has spent $1,614, listing his expenses as the $1,162.50 filing fee and the rest on T-shirts emblazoned in blue with his smiling face and a simple slogan.
“He confounds the empire,” reads Bashinsky’s 100 percent cotton shirts.
I inserted the t-shirt here, it is not in the Citizen article, but thanks for the plug about confounding the empire.
Unlike his two competitors, Cates has raised every cent of his $39,830, the last count as of July 4.
goes the Citizen refrain. How virtuous. I screwed up and used my own money. I don’t owe anyone anything (favors). What a confounding idiot!
Individual campaign donors can only contribute up to $1,000, and Cates has a number of those checks on his financial records for 2014: real estate mogul Ed Knight and investor William Kemp, both of Key West; along with jeweler David Boone and his jewelry store, Boone and Sons of Washington, D.C.
Tap Johnston, another local investor, kicked in a total of $3,000 to Cates’ campaign in June, via separate $1,000 checks from himself, his loan company, and his Tap All Potential company.
The Half Shell Raw Bar and Two Friends Patio Restaurant each gave Cates $1,000.
Romero has her own $1,000 club: Mark Schilleci, a Key Wester who works for Anheuser-Busch, cut her a check for the maximum allowed, while Mindelyn Schilleci, a corporate secretary, also donated $1,000.
Perry Frantzman and Suzanne Coleman, both retirees in Key West who live at the golf course condominiums, each wrote Romero’s campaign a $1,000 check.
Maybe my recollection is fuzzy, but I think, in the past, Romero boasted that she paid for her own campaign, took no donations, was beholden to no one.
Up US 1 a ways, County Commissioner George Neugent,
against whom I ran in 2006, and again in 2010, is running again this year, for his 6th -4-year term, I think. George got some mention in my email inbox yesterday. The forwarded email chain from Banks Prevatt, President of Dump the Pumps, Inc., is in reverse time order.
I am traveling, or I would have responded sooner. Feel free to use my name in your correspondence. Do not feel like you need to hide it. Thanks for sending this to me.
1. The first is that Commissioner Neugent rattles on, but he avoids and does not answer your question.
2. Secondly, Dump the Pumps, Inc. and our associates are not trying to stop the progress of central sewer. We just want it done right. The original design was correct – all gravity. This was until the politicians messed with it to capture sewer designated funds for their pet projects. See approval for the purchase of Rowell’s Marina, $5,000,000.00, and funds to rehab the old Seven Mile Bridge, $14,240,000.00. This money is from the sales tax referendum sold to the citizens to “fully fund a central sewer system.” The missing operative word is “proper.” There was, and is, plenty of money to do the central sewer system the way it was originally designed – gravity.
3. Thirdly, I attended the last Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting in Marathon a few months ago. Mr. Neugent was not present. He, like most politicians in the state of Florida, lend their names to the glorified committees which mostly sit around and slap each other on the back telling each other what a good job they are doing. You needed to be there to feel this, but that is all it was.
At this meeting I was shocked. It was co-chaired by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the US Department of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — all back slapping buddies. They all have each other’s back. My question is, “Who is watching the hen house?” The fox is inside.
By the way, your governor supports this committee and clean water in an ardent way. He shows his commitment by using your Florida tax dollars to support litigation, outside the State of Florida, against the clean water efforts in Maryland and Virginia who are attempting to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Do you think “Big Sugar” might have an interest in this?
Donna, a short history lessons follows: About 20 years ago, Big Sugar was the target for pollution in the Everglades, Florida Bay and along the Coral Reef. The bay was dying and the reef was severely stressed. Big Sugar bought a lot of politicians. Remember, Big Sugar is subsidized with your tax dollars, because without subsidies they lose money and the stock holders would not be happy campaign contributors.
Kind of like Commissioner Neugent, I am off target. Long and short, 20 years ago Big Sugar dodged a bullet by convincing politicians that the real problem with Florida Bay and a dying reef was sewage discharged from single family homes in the Keys.
The end result is that we were mandated (forced by politicians without the science) to have central sewers by the year 2010. Big Sugar was off the hook, and politicians were happy; contributions were coming in again, and your tax dollar was subsidizing sugar productions in the everglades, so the sugar industry could afford to continue to buy the fertilizer for their fields.
With all of the above hubbub, you would think the Keys would get the best possible sewer system available. Mr. Neugent is partially correct in that FKAA did design a worthwhile gravity sewer system, and the leadership of FKAA will tell you they prefer gravity. What Mr. Neugent ignores is that the system was redesigned by politicians. Now we have a homogenized cheapened system that in some studies may not be much better than septic tanks, and possibly worse.
In a message dated 7/10/2014 6:26:50 A.M. Alaskan Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Banks, I made sure that I did not attach your name. So sorry. It seems that I may have hit a raw nerve.
223 Venus Lane
Key West, Florida
Sent: 7/10/2014 10:23:07 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Re: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council
Dear Mr. Nugent,
I apologize if I have offended you. Your reply seems very angry. I must be mistaken. I thought the grinder pumps had been bought before letters asking for easements from the FKAA were sent. Since customers from FKAA had been told that they would be gravity and minds were changed, would buying be premature? No offense. Maybe you can set the timeline straight. Since the FKAA stated that gravity removal of waste was preferred, is that because it is/was more sound? You tell me. No offense, I just need to understand. You did fail to “please explain how grinder pump installations are superior to gravity installations in regards to safety of the surrounding Keys waters.” When I say safety, I mean in terms of over flow/backing up into homes/leaching into surrounding grounds. I am glad that your restaurant(sorry did not know you owned one) had not problems. Have you had the same luck at your home?
I sent a copy of my letter to Mr. Prevatt only because I had talked with him when a letter from FKAA was received and I needed information. I am sending this on my own, asking questions on my own and I do take offense at the tone of your reply. But that is me, personally. I had hoped that you would be more understanding in explaining you stance. I am part of your voting public.
223 Venus Lane
Key West, Florida
In a message dated 7/10/2014 9:23:10 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, Neugent-George@monroecounty-fl.gov writes:
I fully understand the difference between grinder and gravity.
Central collection throughout the Florida Keys incorporate and utilize grinder, vacuum, gravity and pressurized delivery of effluent to the plant where the effluent is then treated to AWT standards and then disposed.
I used a grinder pump in my restaurant’s sewer system for 15 years, open 7 days a week, through hurricanes Georges, Wilma, Dennis, Ivan, Francis… Grinder pumps are used throughout the world as a primary removal system of sewage.
I fail to recall any received letters from you, Mr. Prevatt and others over the 16 years I’ve sat on the Sanctuary Advisory Council expressing any concern over the raw sewage that has been flowing into our near-shore waters for generations? And now as we come to the last area of collection and treatment with an excellent system design, by the FKAA, specious arguments about grinder pumps and concern about the environment are being made to stop the progress on what will be the greatest achievement in the Keys since Flagler.
I’m not aware of any premature purchases nor embarrassing wasteful or unsound situation.
Sent from my iPad
On Jul 10, 2014, at 8:00 AM, _________aol.com wrote:
Dear Mr. Nugent,
I was shocked to see that you are our local government official on this Advisory Council. Please explain how someone who is to be guiding, appears not to understand the important differences between gravity and grinder pump installations in regards to sewage disposal and the overall effect on our waters should failure occur. I do understand sewers are necessary here in the Keys. I know that there are places where grinder pumps are the only alternative. But, I also understand that premature purchases have put you and others in an embarrassing and monetarily wasteful and environmentally unsound situation. As a member of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council please explain how grinder pump installations are superior to gravity installations in regards to safety of the surrounding Keys waters.
With all due respect for your expertise serving on this Advisory Council
223 Venus Lane
Key West, Florida
Me to Banks last night:
Banks, can you counter Neugent’s dodge that he doesn’t know of prior purchases of heaps of grinder pumps? When it happened. Number of grinder pumps pre-purchased. Surrounding context of purchase relative to first FKAA design and 2nd FKAA design after County Commission nixed first design as being too expensive. Thanks. Sloan
I am not sure if we have that yet or not. What we do have is FKAA [Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority] going out to bid for 2800 pumps while telling the public it was a gravity system with maybe 600 grinders in remote areas.
Neugent’s opponent in the Republican primary, which is a closed primary, only Republicans can vote in it, is Danny Coll, who is not happy with grinder pumps.
Danny ran against George in 2010, in that Republican primary, and got about 45 percent of the votes. I didn’t think Danny was ready in 2010, but I think he’s ready now, and I know George is past due finding something else to do. George said in 2010 that it was his last race for county commission. His campaign slogan that year was PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT.
My opinion, George has his head miles up where the sun doesn’t shine with respect to grinder pumps. His email correspondence with Donna Naylor was tame compared to other email correspondence to constituents in his own voting district, in which Cudjoe Regional lies entirely.
However, the real proof that George is bent re grinder pumps is, he kept saying in emails to Banks and other Cudjoe Regional constituents that he was a pump expert and grinders were cheaper than and just as environmentally sound as gravity.
After reading that mantra until I was dizzy, I finally chimed into an email thread something like: Well, if that mantra was true, then George and the other 4 county commissioners would have demanded grinder pumps on every private property in Cudjoe Regional, because to use gravity instead of grinders would have been a waste of taxpayer money, it would have been malfeasance, it would have been a crime. George’s reply was headed the opposite direction: he really wasn’t an expert on pumps after all, he was relying on county staff and FKAA, blah, blah, blah.
It didn’t take me long being involved Monroe County and Key West politics to figure out, if something going down doesn’t make any sense, if it doesn’t pass the smell test, then it’s rigged.
Comic relief arrived yesterday with this email:
My name is Karen Bowers. I have been receiving emails of your blog until the last three postings.
I’m not sure why they haven’t come through. Is there a way that you can check if my email address, lunarchik@________ is on your list?
I logged onto your website and began reading the July 11 post. I nearly gagged on my coffee reading the Blue Paper article about ‘Not all festivals are created equal’. Just replace ‘Goombay’ with ‘Battle In The Bay’ dragon boat races.
Perhaps my angels were protecting me by withholding your blog. Ha x 3.
I am the former event director that was torpedoed by the Navy/Lefere’s order not allowing civilian boats to operate out of Truman Harbor. Killed the Ducks and Bill Spottswood’s marina project too. But not SBI.
I admit that I am tempted to lay out my story to the Blue Paper but question for what purpose? I am living in Arizona now, far from the corruption of the likes of the TDC, City of Key West, SBI, and Fantasy Fest all of which I’ve had direct and indirect experience with.
The funny thing is, I sit here in the Verde Valley and watch the clamoring to develop tourism, seeing it is the same song, second verse.
Sloan, shit is everywhere. There’s even a poll in the local paper about whether the Verde Valley offers sufficient services and opportunities for its homeless population. (60% say ” no”).
There is much talk about “sustainable” tourism and protecting the environment. I suppose once upon a time that was also the talk in the Keys.
Another interesting battle is unfolding in the nearby town of Jerome about vacation rentals.
I do remain grateful that there aren’t any cruise ships here.
Blue Skies and Mountain Breezes,
Hi, Karen –
Thanks for writing. I don’t know why you didn’t get an email copy of the recent goodmorningkeywest.com posts. Am hearing that from other people sometimes, and other people tell me they are getting email copies. I post every day, usually by noon, but sometimes later, and you can do as you did, and go straight to the website.
Yeah, I know shit is everywhere, and this here shit is where the angels parked me to wallow. I recalled you moved out there to blue skies and mountain breezes, where the gila monster, sidewinders and cacti roam, and that you were the dragon boat race angel, or maybe queen more appropriate :-). Lefere now the School District’s “quartermaster”, and, small world, he and his family live across the street from this home in which I rent a room now, and several different times prior.
The blue paper probably will publish your story, if it bears on KW history/drama/intrigue. As far as I can tell, all that tourism sustains is business which depend/feed on tourists. Sounds like your desert paradise is a sandy tumble weed sage and chaparral version of KW. I bet you have coyotes, too. So far, they didn’t get down here yet. Maybe our coyote medicine is cruise ships.
Your report on homeless services being below needed, according to 60, might kill any hope Key West had of coaxing homeless people to follow your tracks out to a million ways to live and die in the west. I love your email handle – lunarchik.
You might gag on John Donnelly’s article in this issue of the blue paper.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West, aka “southernmost loon house”