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During the marvelous Love Lane Gang performance at Salute Ristorante Sunday evening, a fellow named Patrick, who makes wire art most days in front of La Conca Hotel on Duval Street, joined me at the table where I sat. Patrick is one of the leaders of the Duval Street artists, who tries to be a liasion for them with the city. He comes to city commission meeting and speaks on their behalf. He also is a musician, and Love Lane Gang invited him up to do a couple of numbers with them.
Patrick told me that La Concha is trying to get total control over the sidewalk in front of that hotel on Duval Street. Right now, it’s the city’s sidewalk. La Concha wants title to it, or total control over it, to get rid of the street artists who ply their trades and crafts in front of La Concha. I said that idea sucked.
Patrick asked what I would go after, if I were mayor? I said, it will take a King with power of life and death over everyone to get anything really done. Patrick laughed. I said, if I were King, I ban all cruise ships from Key West. Patrick didn’t applaud. I figured he did okay off cruise ship passengers.
I said, I throw out the Truman Waterfront park and put as much Housing Authority affordable rental housing out there as the Navy will allow, 330,000 square feet according to City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, who was city mayor when the Navy gave that land to the city. And, I put community gardens on the rest of that land. Patrick said he liked that.
I said, I close lower Duval Street to motorized traffic at 3 p.m. every day, from Southard Street to the lower end of Duval Street. No motorized vehicles, except for the crossing streets. I turn Duval Street into pedestrian mall, with artists, musicians, street performers, food carts, etc. Similar to Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado. Patrick said he liked that.
As I was leaving Harpoon Harry’s yesterday morning, an elderly woman sitting with her husband in the booth next to the side door on Margaret Street said, since I am running for mayor and want votes – I had on my campaign t-shirt and had been cutting up at the counter about what all a King could do with Key West, but a simple mayor would have no chance of doing – she had some questions for me about the dumb shits running the city government.
Ever the political animal, I said she had assumed I was trying to get votes, however, I liked her proper use of the English language and I wanted to hear what she had to say. She said maybe some day she will tell it to City Commissioner Mark Rossi, too. I said Mark and his wife just left here, why didn’t she tell him then? She said I was wearing the t-shirt and she wanted to tell me. I said, okay, tell me. She invited me to sit down beside her. Ever the politician, I sat down beside here, figuring it would be interesting.
What she was all up in arms about was Old Town parking, which is seriously short of parking spaces. Specifically, she was upset about people who buy a home or condo in Old Town, but only are here a short period each year. They leave a car on the street when they are not here, sometimes it’s covered with a tarp, sometimes it’s not covered. That car takes up a parking space where there are not nearly enough parking spaces. I agreed.
She said no Key West homeowner should be allowed to have an Old Town parking decal, which can be bought for $10 at City Hall, who does not have a Key West driver’s license and license tag and is a legal resident of the city. I agreed.
I said she should go to a City Commission meeting and say that to the mayor and commissioners. She said she had lost most of her voice due to throat surgery. I said the same had happened to me, I was talking as loud as I could to her, but at city commission meetings I had a microphone and the mayor and commissioners heard me just fine. She said she did not want to go about it that way. She wanted me to fix it. I said I would try, but I was not the King.
I said, the city sells Old Town Parking decals to Stock Island businesses which have a Key West business license. She said she is okay with that; she’d rather have workers and repairmen able to park in her neighborhood, when she needs them around, than homeowners leaving their cars on streets and being gone 50 weeks a year. I said, those absent owners rent out their homes, while they are away, don’t they? Yes, she said.
I said, maybe the city could get a company with a big lift to pick up those absent owners’ cars and place their cars in their front yards? She looked at me like I was daff, asked, did I how how small yards are in Old Town? I said I know, but some yards are plenty big enough for that remedy. And where yards are not big enough, just set the cars on top of the absent owners’ roofs.
She said, the cars couldn’t be painted white, Historical Architectural Review Committee wouldn’t stand for that! I said, nor for a blue, red, green, yellow car on a roof, either; the car would have to be grey, to pass HARC approval. HARC, and City Hall, don’t like white roofs to reflect sun, save on AC and electric bills. White roofs ain’t in keeping with Key West’s historic architecture, she laughed. They don’t allow solar panels on roofs either. Going green ain’t in HARC’s dictionary.
I said, I wonder how many Old Town parking spaces that new hotel down the street, which Pritam Singh got approved, then he sold it before construction began, will eat up? She said plenty of parking spaces. I said, the real problem with Old Town parking is can’t be fixed. The city is way over-built. I asked if she knew anyone who was familiar with explosives? A gleam came into her eye. I asked if knew any snipers? She said don’t go there, she’s from the mid-west, lots of rednecks there. I said I’m from Alabama, lots of rednecks there, too.
She said, that land where Pritam built that hotel, the fellow who had owned the land for so long just kept putting one tent on it after another, and he was getting a transient rental license for each tent, and eventually the fellow had so many transient rental licenses that only someone like Pritam could afford to buy the land, because Pritam had other places he could transfer the transient licenses.
I said again, Key West is overbuilt; there is no fix for Old Town parking, but I think anyone who owns a home in Key West should have a Key West driver’s license and license tags, if he/she wants an Old Town parking decal.
Later yesterday, Nick Anderson, of Big Coppit Key, formerly of Truman Annex, poked me – he seems to like poking me:
How about you moving into the Senior Housing on Kennedy Drive and build about 10 more similar at the Stock Island?
I probably would like living in that Senior Housing, but the waiting list is l-o-n-g. I don’t have the gitas to build even one house, or even a cabana, much less 10 senior housing projects. You do, though. You can’t take it with you [he's loaded], and as far as I know from our many conversations, there is nobody you want to leave it to, and your health ain’t all that swell, nor is mine.
Nick poked again:
That’s a campaign commitment, Plus I get the tax credits Mr. Mayor.
Also yesterday, Father Stephen Braddock,
CEO of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, which gives down and out people another chance, sent this link:
“It is time for Congress to act,” emphasized actress Susan Sarandon during a recent congressional briefing about violence against the homeless. “We can’t allow these people to be invisible any longer.”
On June 25, US Representatives Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) co-chaired a congressional briefing in support of a proposed piece of legislation to include the homeless as a protected class under the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. Susan Sarandon, the actress and activist, David Pirtle, a survivor of violence against the homeless, and Thomas Morgan, the co-director of a documentary about homelessness, testified during the briefing.
Throughout her testimony, Sarandon stressed that sheltered members of society must recognize the humanity of homeless people in order to overcome their indifference toward that vulnerable population.
“Congress is a proxy of society,” she said. “If society is apathetic, Congress will be, too.”
Sarandon told the story of Carl Simon, a 50-year-old homeless man who was beaten, stabbed and tortured this past year. When his attackers realized he had not died they forced him into a large suitcase he used to carry his few possessions and then drowned him in a bathtub.
“Carl Simon is one of the thousands we need to remember as we fight to protect those experiencing homelessness right now,” Sarandon said.
David Pirtle, a member of the National Coalition for the Homeless’ (NCH) Speakers Bureau, described the unprovoked violence he experienced when homeless. He survived five attacks, including being beaten with baseball bats, being spray painted and being urinated on.
“Most [attacks] are done just for fun,” Pirtle said. “I don’t understand how a person can do that and laugh.”
Although fatal attacks against the homeless occurred more than three times as often than those classified as hate crimes from 1999-2012, violence against the homeless is not considered a hate crime by the federal government.
The proposed legislation, HR 1136: Violence against the Homeless Accountability Act, would amend the Hate Crime Statistics Act to make the federal government responsible for compiling data about crimes committed against homeless people. At the moment, the Hate Crime Statistics Act requires the Attorney General to collect information on crimes committed because of a victim’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
HR 1136 is sponsored by Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and co-sponsored by 23 other members of Congress, including one Republican, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
Since 2007, several efforts have been made for Congress to have crimes against the homeless included in the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. However, all these bills died in committee.
Currently seven states and three cities recognize violence against the homeless as a hate crime. Opponents contend that homelessness should not be included as a protected class in the Hate Crime Statistics Act because homelessness is not a permanent condition, unlike the other classes protected in the Act.
An official from the Anti-Defamation League said in an interview with NPR that there needs to be a better definition of homelessness and an understanding of whether it is, like the other characteristics protected under hate crime laws, an unchangeable characteristic.
“What is the definition of homeless? What is immutable about homeless? Is it an immutable characteristic? Is it exactly the same as race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender?” asked Michael Lieberman, the Washington counsel for the Anti-Defamation League.
“It is different.”
According to the NCH’s new report, “Vulnerable to Hate: A Survey of Hate Crimes & Violence Committed against the Homeless in 2013,” bias against the indigent drives many crimes against the homeless. Some crimes are opportunistic, a direct result of the vulnerability homeless people experience because they have no shelter for protection. The NCH only records crimes committed by housed perpetrators against homeless individuals in its report.
“A hate crime is one of the most despicable and prejudicial acts done onto another human being by a human being and surprisingly these acts affect homeless people in great proportions,” wrote Congresswoman Johnson in an email. “It is imperative that we give this issue the serious attention that it deserves by including homeless people in hate crime statistics.”
I replied to Steve:
Thanks Steve, for forwarding this Hate Crime Act amendment (maybe) news. Maybe they will bring homeless people under that act’s purview. If that amendment already was passed, it might apply to KWPD Officer Lovett (ironic surname) who elbowed Charles Eimers in the back of the neck, then later boasted about doing it to the bum. Lovett’s earlier hate homeless people remarks reported by the same witness would not go well for him in such a prosecution. The amendment might apply by association to other KWPD officers, who didn’t intervene when Lovett attacked Eimers, who was face down on the beach, trying to catch a breath – in vain. The amendment also might apply to Police Chief Donie Lee for not suspending Lovett from duty without pay, after learning of Lovett’s boast about what he did to Eimers, and of Lovett’s prior hate homeless people statements. Shooting the moon, the amendment might apply to Mayor Craig Cates and the City Commissioners for not demanding Lovett be suspended without pay. Alas, the Hate Crimes Act at this point does not proscribe hate crimes against homeless people. However, I’m sure God has an Act which does apply, and I am glad I’m not in those named defendants’ shoes in the Court where they now stand trial. A Court I know all too well from being a defendant in it myself a number of times.
In KONK Life’s email BLAST today - www.konknet.com
Email to the Editor
Stretching out the work
BY SLOAN BASHINSKY
Back in 2013, I bumped into former Key West City Commissioner Barry Gibson about a week before the scheduled town hall meeting in Old City Hall with the Florida Department of Transportation folks. Barry said, although he was only one vote, the one regret he had from his time on the City Commission was he had not pushed harder for a shorter work schedule on the North Roosevelt Blvd redo.
During citizen comments at the ensuing town hall meeting, I pushed FDOT Director Ananth Prasad hard to explain why the North Roosevelt redo was not put out to bid for round the clock work, instead of five days a week. Round the clock would have cut the estimated nearly 2 1/2 years construction time by about 2/3. Mayor Cates called me down, said I was embarrassing the entire community. I kept after Prasad, and he finally said DOT didn’t put the job out for a shorter work schedule because of the city’s noise ordinance. Later in the town hall meeting, the City Commission told Prasad they would waive the city noise ordinance, if that would help get the work done faster. Prasad said OK.
The next day, the Citizen reported that Mayor Cates had said I was embarrassing the entire community in the way I was going after Director Prasad. The Citizen did not report what I finally got Prasad to admit: That it was the City Commission, not FDOT, which had decided on the nearly 2 1/2 year work schedule. As far as I know, the Citizen never reported who made that decision. Nor did the Keynoter. Nor did anyone but me, at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.
Not long after the town hall meeting, there was a lot of evening, night and weekend work on North Roosevelt Blvd. Meanwhile, lots of North Roosevelt Blvd. businesses failed, and others barely hung on.
KONK Life contributed to another poking opportunity yesterday:
CC: tdgerman@_________From: email@example.com
Subject: Hometown’s mayor forum
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:03:30 -0400
Hi, Sheldon –
I called Todd when I saw this KONK Life email BLAST below and said it was the first I’d heard of when Hometown’s mayor forum is, and where.
Hometown forum Aug. 4 at Tropic
Key West Mayoral Candidates Mayor Craig Cates, Margaret Romero and Sloan Bashinsky, Primary Candidates for Monroe County commissioner, District 2, and Keys Mosquito Control Board, District 5, will be questioned at a Hometown PAC candidates forum from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 4, at the Tropic Cinema, Carper Theater, 416 Eaton St.
Among the panelists will be John Dolan-Heitlinger, leadership and management consultant; Paul Clarin, publisher of The Key West Citizen; Jennifer Hulce, Key West attorney, and Bill Becker/Ezra Marcus, of US 1 Radio, 104.1 FM.
Admission is free but seating in the Carper Theater is limited.
Mosquito Control opponents are Thomas McDonald (Rep.) and Eddie Martinez (Rep.) with the winner opposing Democrat Geoffrey Bailey in the Nov. 4, General Election. Commission candidates are George Neugent (Rep.) and Danny Coll (Rep.) with the winner facing Democrat Eleanor McAdams on Nov. 4
The non-partisan mayoral election will be the same date, Aug. 26, as the primary election.
If none of the three receives a majority vote (50%+1) then, the top two vote getters go to the General Election (November 4) for a run-off
Is Hometown going to send out something by email confirming the KONK Life announcement?
An earlier KONK Life daily email BLAST is how I learned Mayor Cates had dodged the golf course mayor’s forum.
Except for Bill Becker, your list of forum panelists looks like a hand-picked Craig Cates panel, as well as a hand-picked Chamber of Commerce and bigger cruise ship panel.
Tom Milone said much the same to me this morning, and that he didn’t see any reason to attend the forum, and he didn’t see any reason for me to attend. I said, despite the panel being stacked, I would create plenty of discomfort.
When Tom praised Bill Becker’s presence on the panel, I said, just before Hometown’s Tropic Cinema forum last year, I told Bill Becker and Richard Grusin, who were panelists, that they needed to ask John Dolan-Heitliner who was his employer? Ed Swift/Historic Tours of America, that’s who. I told Bill and Richard the reason they needed to ask Jennifer, er, John that was because he was not telling people at forums who he worked for, when he was on the dais speaking in favor or bringing bigger cruise ships into Key West. Instead, John Dolan-Heitlinger was making out like he represented a bar pilots association, when he was Ed Swift’s shill. Richard Grusin said he would put the question to John Dolan-Heitlinger. Bill Becker said nothing. Neither of them put the question to John Dolan-Heitlinger.
On hearing all of that from me this morning, Tom Milone said, “Oh.” I said, the only way to stay sane is Key West’s games is to view it as Divine Comedy.
This is the worst panel I ever saw for a candidate forum anywhere in the Florida Keys. A Fortune 500 panel, and Bill Becker, who apparently is in John Dolan-Heitlinger’s camp. Tom Milone said, “Leadership and management consultant,” and snickered.
Congratulations, Hometown. I’m sure Key West business interests and the bigger cruise ship lovers are enraptured. At least you didn’t put Peter Anderson, Pritam Singh or Bill Spottswood on the panel.
I can’t wait to ask John Dolan-Heitlinger who he works for, when my time comes to speak at Hometown’s forum. And I can’t wait to ask Jennifer Hulce who she represented during the run up to the bring in bigger cruise ships referendum.
I will figure out a way to get that in, even if there are no questions from the panelists about bringing in bigger cruise ships. One of my campaign platform priorities is to stop the dirtiest worst possible cruise from continuing to call on Key West. We have Chamber President Robin Lockwood, M.D. to thank for providing that morsel during the Chamber’s bigger cruise ship forum last year, before Hometown’s forum and Bill Becker and Richard Grusin gave the Empire a free pass.
I know, Sheldon – this is small fry compared to your prosecuting Mafiosos in Chicago. However, what backs up the Empire in the spirit world is BIG FRY.
this morning P.S. to Sheldon and Todd:
My apology, I ignored alternate panelist Ezra Marcus, who was the master of ceremonies at the bigger cruise ship referendum forum immediately following the Chamber’s bigger cruise ship referendum forum. During citizen comments, I reminded Dr. Lockwood
of his statement at the Chamber’s forum, that the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships were calling on Key West, and then I asked him, in view of that, why weren’t he and the Chamber raising bloody hell about getting those ships banned from calling on Key West?
Right away, the Chamber’s hired gun, Jennifer Hulce,
who was not even at the Chamber forum, said she would field that question. Earlier in the forum, Jennifer had lorded over the audience that she was a lawyer, and that gave her a different perspective from lay people. When Jennifer tried to answer my question to Dr. Lockwood, I told her to be quiet, I was a lawyer, too, and my question was not directed to her, but was directed to the person who had made the statement.
At which point, Dr. Lockwood said he did not say that at the Chamber meeting. At which point, Jolly Benson,
who represented the anti-referendum forces, said he had heard Dr. Lockwood say it, and Jolly asked for a show of hands in the audience who also had heard Dr. Lockwood say it, and about 20 hands went up.
Whereupon, Ezra intervened on Dr. Lockwood’s behaf and restated my question so that it wasn’t what I said at all, and I told Ezra he had twisted my question so it was not the question. I said the question was very simple, and I wanted Dr. Lockwood to answer it. Ezra called me down, and I said again, I wanted Dr. Lockwood to answer my question. Ezra asked what was my question? I restated it. Ezra changed it again. I said that is not my question. Ezra turned off my microphone. I kept talking without a microphone. Ezra took a question from another citizen. Dr. Lockwood never did answer my question.
sat on the dais with Jolly Benson and Dr. Lockwood. I gave John credit for not pretending the referendum was only about a channel-widening study, which the Chamber’s hired gun kept saying at referendum forums. John straight out said the referendum was about bringing in bigger cruise ships. And never once did he tell a referendum forum audience he worked for Ed Swift and Historic Tours of America, who, of all Key West businesses, make the most money off of cruise ship passengers. The city pays HTA $500,000 a year to use conch trains bring cruise ship passengers, er, fleas to HTA gift shops and conch train terminals in Old Town, where said fleas disembark from conch trains, shop in HTA’s gift shops, then buy tickets to tour Key West on other HTA conch trains and HTA trolleys.
Only trivia, of course. The Chamber video-taped its forum, during which Dr. Lookwood let the cat out of the bag. The Chamber’s video was put online the next morning, and then the Chamber took it down an hour or two later. Jolly Benson told me that he tried to get a copy of the video from the Chamber, and they said it was their proprietary property and he could not have a copy.
You have no panelists who are environmentalists. You have no panelists who are citizen activists. You have stacked the panel in favor of big-monied interests and against Mother Nature. You ought to know better than to piss Her off, but apparently you do not. You ought to know that, as the sea and the reef go, Key West goes, but you apparently do not. You clearly are in the Key West camp, which defines going green as making as many US greenbacks as possible. You should give serious consideration to changing Hometown! PAC’s name to something more descriptive of what Hometown really represents. How about Big Money! PAC.
Todd, who is Hometown PAC’s Chairman, called me this morning about all of that.
He said it’s not easy to get panelists, especially panelists who do their homework. He said I had seen candidate forum panelists in the past, who had not done their homework. I agreed. He said Naja Girard, co-publisher of the blue paper and president of Last Stand, will be on the other Hometown forum panel (for other races). Todd said, the panelist for the mayor’s forum will do their homework, I will see that. I said, whatever, they stacked the mayor’s forum for the money folks, cruise ships and the mayor. And, I had seen John Dolan-Heitlinger and Jennifer Hulce mislead the public throughout the big cruise ship referendum campaign last year, and that had formed a lasting impression in me of their characters, but maybe they will surprise me at Hometown’s mayor forum, I hope they do.
John Donnelly, of Key Largo, wrote to me early this morning,
re the recent Citizen article extolling Mayor Craig Cates for spending other people’s money, instead of his own, during his campaign for a 4th term:
You are the first picture on the front page …Your picture is by far superior to those of your challengers. Did you hire a stylist?
That was a 2006 photo taken by Larry Benvenuti, a professional photographer, in Marathon. I have cut my own hair and beard, when I have one, for a very long time. I seldom use barbers, and then mostly only when I want my beard removed.
To be blunt, I think less of people who spend money trying to change their appearance and/or make themselves look different.
I am allergic to cosmetics; my lungs close up around anyone wearing perfume or essential oils. The other evening on my bicycle, I got behind a woman a hundred yards ahead of me on her bicycle, and was hard-pressed to remain in her wake because of the perfume she had applied.
Style is relative. The style in which I live and relate to people has not received many Oscars, Emmys or Golden Globes – none, actually – from this world’s award givers. Hopefully, I’m doing somewhat better in the angels’ beauty pageant, although the way they keep getting onto me does not lend encouragement there, either.
photo taken with a cell phone about a month ago in front of the T-Shirt Factory on Simonton Street in Key West, to use on my campaign t-shirt
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West, aka “southernmost the nut house”