the northernmost whore of the Caribbean – anatomy of a Key West cruise ship referendum

cruise ship butt

anti-channel-widening study protest in Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com

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Shortly before yesterday’s Key West Chamber of Commerce mayor candidates forum began at Casa Marina, Mayor Craig Cates told me,

Mayor Cates

regardless of what Mike Tolbert had told me, the family of the homeless man Craig’s daughter had run over and killed on North Roosevelt Blvd. in latter 2009, did not sue Craig for the dead man’s funeral expenses. The lawsuit was filed against Westinghouse, for whom Craig’s daughter was working when the accident occurred. I told Craig I would publish that today at goodmorningkeywest.com. I had previously reported there several times that Mike had told me the lawsuit was filed against Craig, and he had declined to pay the dead homeless man’s funeral experiences.

Maybe a hour before the Chamber forum, Todd German

Todd German

called me about this part of yesterday’s post at goodmorningkeywest.com

“I love talking with Deep Throat, because of his institutional knowledge of Key West going back into the 1970s. He seems to know where all the bodies are buried, starting at that time. He slammed Hometown! PAC’s upcoming candidate forum panel. He said Hometown’s panelist Jennifer Hulce was paid $30,000 by the Key West Chamber of Commerce, to try to get the bigger cruise ship referendum passed last year. I said, paid to lie. Yes, Deep Throat said. Of panelist John Dolan-Heitlinger, Deep Throat said, that guy works for Ed Swift and Historic Tours of America. I said, yes, and John never discloses that when he goes to bat for Swift in public. Deep Throat said, back a few years, John was CEO of Keys Federal Credit Union. Without getting his board of directors’ approval, he had Keys Federal buy land on Stock Island where he intended to locate Keys Federal’s new headquarters. The Board fired him. Then, the Board fired Todd German, who was John’s right-hand man. Todd is Hometown’s Chairman. I said I knew the board had fired them both, but that was the first I’d heard of the land deal. I said, capital decisions needed to be passed on by Keys Federal’s board, but operations decisions were the CEO’s job. Deep Throat agreed.”

Yesterday, Todd said the land was bought a couple of years before the firings, and there had been considerable discussion on Keys Federal’s Board leading up to the purchase of the land, which purchase the Board had approved. Todd said, also, he was fired before John-Dolan Heitlinger

John Dolan-Heitlinger

was fired. I said I would publish all of that in today’s post at goodmorningkeywest.com.

Todd also said, what happened was Keys Energy got a new Chairman of the Board, Paul Mitchell, another strong personality like John Dolan-Hegitlinger, and the two had clashed and Mitchell had prevailed. Later, School Board member Andy Griffiths, who was on the Keys Federal Board got the Board to vote to dissolve itself and turn Keys Federal over to the agency which regulated Savings and Loans. Todd said, getting fired was for the best thing for him. He was hired right away by Centennial Bank, where I know he performed ably and was very important to them.

When Todd called me right after he was fired, I said I was so sorry and hoped he would land back on his feet soonest. I was quite concerned, because I knew he had been caught in a power play, and I was really happy to hear he had gotten on with Centennial Bank. I later moved my banking from Keys Federal to Centennial, which seemed to me the strongest, best-run banks in Key West.

Todd also said yesterday that John Dolan-Heitlinger is going to be introduced at Hometown’s candidate forum next week, as being on Historic Tours of America’s (HTA’s) Board. I said the reason that’s happening is because I recently made a big fuss about John being Ed Swift’s shill, in posts at goodmorningkeywest.com. Todd said, not really, it is the right thing to do. I said, yes, but it is because of the fuss I had made.

I recounted that John sat on the dais at all the “channel-widening” referendum forums last year, talking in favor of bringing even bigger cruises ships into Key West, and he never once revealed that he worked for Ed Swift/HTA.

Cruise ship collision

cruise ship invasion

editorial cartoons in the Citizen – www.keysnews.com

The way John and Ed Swift pulled that off was John started a bar pilots PAC, consisting mainly of John, to promote passage of the “channel-widening” referendum, which everyone knew was a bring in bigger cruise ships referendum.

Last fall during a city commission meeting, where was being discussed the city continuing to pay Swift/HTA $500,000 a year to bring cruise ship passengers in from the outer mole pier to Swift/HTA gift ships and conch train terminals, John, without saying he worked for Swift/HTA, urged the city to keep doing that, lots of jobs were at stake in the city. I spoke after John at that meeting, and I recounted all of the above to the mayor, city commissioners, city staff and the citizen live and TV audience, and said, now here was John again lobbying for Ed Swift without saying who he was lobbying for. I told the mayor and commissioners they knew it, but who in the citizen audience besides me knew it?

I told Todd yesterday morning, after seeing John take the low road many times, I concluded he is a worm. Todd said, no, John’s a great guy, I haven’t seen the other sides of him. I said, I saw the side of John the angels wanted me to see. I could have said, John is Ed Swift’s whore, who will be one of Hometown’s panelists at next week’s candidate forum.

One thing I did give John credit for last fall was he straight-up said the referendum was on whether or not the city should try to bring in bigger cruises ships. John never once said the referendum was only about a study on whether the channel should be widened. I gave John credit for that honesty in posts last a fall at goodmorningkeywest.com, even as I beat him up for not disclosing he was Ed Swift’s shill at those referendum forums.

Running parallel to John Dolan-Heitlinger/Ed Swift’s PAC was the PAC started by Jolly Benson

Jolly Benson

and his brother Will,

Will Benson

a local fishing guide and environmentalist, to oppose the “channel widening study” referendum.

In 2003, I met Jolly at a Reef Relief “channel-widening study” referendum forum at Casa Marina. I told Jolly, what the forum really was about was cruise ships, and calling it a referendum for a study to widen the channel was dishonest. Jolly said he could not say that publicly, because it would alienate too many voters who were concerned about jobs. Jolly said he was going after the adverse environmental impact widening the channel would have on the sea bottom, the corals, and the fish living in the channel, including the tarpon. That was the argument Jolly would make for quite a while, even as I got onto him in posts at goodmorningkeywest.com, for ducking the referendum was about cruise ships.

At Reef Relief’s forum, Jolly, I think it was, showed me a series of aerial photos of a cruise ship departing Key West’s harbor, leaving behind huge plumes of mud stirred up from the channel bottom.

cruise ship truth 3cruise ship truth 4

The photos had been taken by Will from an airplane. I told Jolly he needed to use the photos in the naval battle. He said he wasn’t going to do that. It would be too inflammatory. This was a small community, after the election on the referendum, we all would have to get along. I said, baloney, it was all-out war. You use all of your arsenal, if you wish to win. Otherwise, don’t even get into the fight.

Running parallel to Jolly and Will’s PAC, and John Dolan-Heitlinger/Ed Swift’s PAC, was Jennifer Hulse,

Jennifer Hulse

a young attorney fairly new to Key West, hired by the Key West Chamber of Commerce’s newly-formed pro-channel-widening PAC to sit on the dais at referendum forums and argue, despite the referendum’s own wording, that the referendum was not about bringing in bigger cruise ships, but was simply about approving or not approving a study to widen the channel.

The referendum’s wording:

 “Shall the City of Key West request that the Army Corps of Engineers conduct a comprehensive feasibility study, at no monetary cost to the City, to determine the environmental, economic and social impacts of widening the Key West Main Ship Channel for use by modern and longer cruise ships while also addressing navigational safety?”

Then, in the next breath, Jennifer was to argue, another way of looking at the referendum was it was about jobs and cruise ship revenues, which had declined over the years, and would further decline if the cruise ship companies discontinued the size cruise ships now calling on Key West, and went to the bigger cruise ships, which would not be able to get into Key West’s harbor.

Jennifer first made those two arguments at Reef Relief’s forum, which was the first “channel-widening referendum” forum I attended. Jennifer continued making those two arguments at referendum forums and in newspaper interviews all the way up to the election, which went 74 percent of the votes against the “channel-widening study”, 24 percent if favor. A slaughter. A community statement on cruise ships generally.

nope, not doing it

Key West the newspaper post-referendum defeat statement

For, you see, it was not just to bring in bigger ocean-raping sea monsters that the Chamber and its allies were after. They wanted to bring in even more of the “small” ocean-raping sea monsters, such as this one below. One, two, and sometimes three of which a day already were calling on Key West.

cruise ship small

For, you see, on days when the wind blew wrong toward incoming cruise ships, they were unable to tack (crab) into the channel, and had to abort their entry into Key West and head on south toward their next port of call in the Caribbean. If the channel was widened, the small sea monsters could get into Key West regardless of wind direction.

Not wishing to field that hot potato, the Key West Citizen Commission, on which Mayor Craig Cates sat, voted to let the Chamber and its allies put the question to the voters, in a referendum. 2013 was a light election year. It was said the Chamber and its allies felt they had a better chance of winning, by getting everyone in their camp out to vote, while the general populace slept. The general populace did not sleep. But I get ahead of myself.

Peter Anderson, Chairman of the Board of Reef Relief, 

Peter Anderson 2

was master of ceremonies at Reef Relief’s “channel-widening-study” referendum forum. Boy, did I expect Peter and Reef Relief to come out dead against the referendum during that forum. Boy, was I out to lunch.

At Reef Relief’s forum was when I started really getting to know Joel Biddle,

Joel Biddle

who had worked for Reef Relief for a number of years, with its founders, DeeVon and Craig Quirolo.

Quirolos

Joel said at the Reef Relief forum that Reef Relief’s Board was controlled by cruise ship allies, Peter Anderson was not the only one. It was a distressing situation, because Reef Relief should have been flat against the “channel-widening study” referendum.

Later, Joel would tell me that, many years before, the Quirolos had put a cruise ship company executive on Reef Relief’s Board of Directors, hoping they could reach the executive, and thus his cruise ship company, and thus the entire cruise ship industry, and get them to clean up their ships, which were dumping raw and/or semi-treated but still toxic sewerage and ground up food scraps chum into the ocean. I said, no way that plan would work. Joel said the plan didn’t work. I said, too bad the Quirolos didn’t come out against cruise ships to start with. Joel said, that would have been really unpopular.

After I beat Peter Anderson and Reef Relief up in a number of posts at goodmorningkeywest.com, and after a Facebook “PAC” started by Mike Mongo,

Mike Mongo 2

with help from Elliot Baron,

Elliot Baron sniper

rallied thousands of anti-bigger cruise ship foes, Reef Relief finally came out against anything that would cause water turbidity and/or damage coral. That was as near as Peter Anderson and Reef Relief could get to opposing the “channel-widening study”. They were doing big business with cruise ship passengers, you see.

dollar-signs.jpgdollar-signs.jpgdollar-signs.jpg

Cruise ship prostitution was very much alive and well in Key West.

It also was at Reef Relief’s forum that I talked with Matt Gardi,

Matt Gardi

and gave him the aerial photos Will Benson had taken

cruise ship truth 3cruise ship truth 4

and asked Matt, an IT specialist, if he could put the photos together into one photo, which I could use in posts at goodmorningkeywest.com? Matt said, no problem. He got the finished product to me a few days later, and I started using it.

cruise ship truth
Before the Reef Relief Forum, I had used this older photo, which I had googled and found online.

cruise ship leaves Outer Mole

I kept banging the Citizen for not using the older photo, and finally they put in on the front page of a “channel-widening study” article. Later, the Citizen used Will Benson’s photo, after I had used it several times in posts at goodmorningkeywest.com.

Eventually, the Citizen quoted Chamber of Commerce President Robin Lockwood, M.D.

Robin Lockwood

as saying at the Chamber’s “channel-widening study” referendum forum, that the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships were calling on Key West. The Chamber video-taped that forum, put it up online the next day for a couple of hours, then took it down. 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.

Jolly was coming out of the closet.

He came out a lot more at the next “channel-widening study” forum, when, from the audience, I reminded Dr. Lockwood of what he had said at the Chamber’s forum the week before, that the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships were calling on Key West, and in the face of that, why weren’t he and the Chamber and the city government raising bloody hell about that, and doing all they could to get it stopped?

When Jennifer Hulse tried to answer my question to Dr. Lockwood, I told her to be quiet, the question wasn’t directed to her, but was directed to the person who had said that at the Chamber’s forum. Dr. Lookwood then said he had not said what I had attributed to him. Whereupon, Jolly Benson, bless his heart, said he had heard Dr. Lookwood say it. Jolly asked if anyone else in the audience had heard Dr. Lockwood say it? About 20 hands went up.

Click on this link –  – to see a post at goodmorningkeywest.com, which featured several Citizen’s Voice “channel-widening-study” comments in an issue of the Citizen. Specifically, I lifted this excerpt from that post. My input is in italics:

A citizen’s comment:

“Second-home owners are much more valuable to Key West than cruise ship passengers. They spend billions to buy their homes here and billions more fixing them up using local contractors and laborers. They pay enormous property taxes and hardly use our services, patronize local restaurants and stores, buy tickets to cultural events and support local charity.”

That comment replies to Robin Lockwood’s recent letter to the editor, in which Lockwood made up most of the channel-rape opposition was second-homeowners who do not live full-time in Key West. In fact, most of the second-homeowners, aka snowbirds, flew north and are not here. The anti-channel-rape clamoring mostly is coming from people who live in Key West year-round, as was demonstrated when the channel-rape issue was aired at Hometown! PAC’s call to candidates in early June after the snowbirds had flown north. The opposition to channel rape at that event was heavy according to Hometown!’s chairman, Todd German, who did not use rape when he told me the opposition was heavy. 

Yet another parallel during that civil war was Elliot Baron,

Elliot Baron sniper

a force to be reckoned with when he got a bee in his bonnet. Elliot had been Last Stand’s president back when Last Stand was a force to be reckoned with.

The photo above, which I found on Elliot’s Facebook page, was taken by former City Commissioner Bill Verge

Bill Verge

on board the retired Coast Guard cutter Ingram. Bill had gotten the Ingram towed to Key West, to be turned into a museum at Truman Waterfront Harbor. Elliot took a similar photo of Bill, which I never saw.

Elliot told told me at the referendum slaughter victory party thrown by Jolly and Will Benson at the Green Parrot bar, that after I started using his Ingram photo in posts at goodmorningkeywest.com, he took it down from from his Facebook page. It was too controversial to be used generally.

Elliot said I had queered his, Jolly Benson’s and Mike Mongo’s relationship with Gwen Filosa,

Gwen Filosa

the Citizen reporter covering the naval battle, by my getting onto her and the Citizen about not publishing the two photos of the cruise ships tearing up the channel bottom. I said, well, the Citizen finally published the two photos, which only I was publishing at goodmorningkeywest.com; Gwen reported what Robin Lockwood said about the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships calling on Key West; Lockwood killed his side when he said that; and the voters killed the referendum.

Elliot said I had nothing to do with the referendum outcome. I said I was the person who publicly made it a cruise ship issue, while everyone else publicly opposed to the referendum was trying to make it a save the channel seabed issue.

Then, the blue paper weighed in with its wicked wit. Then, other people were talking about cruise ships. Finally, it became a cruise ship referendum, which is what it was all along, but only I was saying that to begin with.

last-stand.gif

I never did figure out why Last Stand did not come out bugles blaring against cruise ships. But I speculated: too many jobs were at stake; too much revenue was at stake; it wasn’t politically correct; Last Stand would lose respect in the community.

It was all-out war.

I knew only two people, besides myself, who did not waver, who were for banning cruise ships from Key West altogether. Key West psychiatrist emeritus Jerry Weintock and his lovely wife Donna (no photos available). We were a gang of three against cruise ships calling on Key West. We still are.

That brings me back to the Chamber of Commerce mayor candidates forum yesterday at Casa Marina.

Just before it began, I saw Mayor Craig Cates speaking with Chamber Executive Director Virginia Panico. (no photo available) I walked over to them, and when there was an opening, I thanked Virginia for the invitation to participate in the forum and for the courage to have me back. She said I was welcome, and she hoped I would behave. I chuckled, said that wasn’t going to happen. Craig chuckled.

After Craig and I went up to the candidates table and sat down to start eating was when he told me about Westinghouse and the lawsuit. Virginia came up to the podium and gave a mini “state of the business union” message. Some of it was encouraging, some was not. She was pretty funny some of the time. Encouraging, she said, was cruise ship passengers and revenues were doing well. I filed that away for a soon to be rainy day, I imagined.

Wayne Markum (no photo available) then was introduced as the master of ceremonies. Wayne had recently retired after decades of working for newspapers, the last many years for the Keynoter.

I had first met Wayne over 30 years ago, when he interviewde me in a motel on Miami Beach about a book I had written: HOME BUYERS: Lambs to the Slaughter? I was en route to my father’s home in Islamorada, to kick back and do some flats fishing. I had done several radio and newspaper interviews en route to Miami.

The forum format was 6 questions, which each candidate would answer. Order of anwering would be rotated. There was no opening statement, but a closing 1-minute statement was allowed. I won’t here go into the 6 questions, because they are off the topic of this post today. I will say I didn’t misbehave too badly, but maybe a little.

During my closing statement, I told the audience they could go to goodmorningkeywest.com, my website, and in the top header see files containing my campaign platform and campaign strategy; I publish each day something new, up by noon daily, or sooner, but sometimes later.

I said there is one thing I think the Chamber really needs to take a look at. During the Chamber’s channel-wideing study referendum last year, Chamber President Robin Lockwood, M.D. said the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships were calling on Key West. That had been going on a long time. I’m wondering why the Chamber and the City Commission are not raising bloody hell about that?

That’s what the Chamber and the City Commission and the city residents should be doing. But, as I learned during the run up to the “channel-widening study” referendum, the oldest profession is very much alive and well in Key West.’

After the forum ended, Jennifer Hulse came to the candidates table and shook Margaret Romero’s hand and thanked her for being there. Craig Cates had already left the table. Then, Jennifer came over  and shook my hand and gave me down the river for publishing recently that she was the Chamber of Commerce’s whore last year. Jennifer said if did it again, there would be repercussions. Did I know what she meant? I said, I am a lawyer, I know what she meant. She said, my being a lawyer had nothing to do with it, did I know what she meant? I said she had prostituted her soul last year. She said she didn’t see it that way. She said I owed her an apology, and I owned an apology to the many people I had upset with what I wrote about her. I asked if she was going to apologize for all those times she lied last year? She said she didn’t see it that way. She said I know that you don’t call a female a whore. I think that was the end and sum of the conversation.

I knew something had been set in motion, but I didn’t know what. I went home, took a nap, and dreamed of being around icebergs and frozen land. On waking I remembered  this cartoon, which I used pretty often last year.

cruies ship facade

I was reminded of Alaska coming down hard on the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships. I started getting in my thoughts writing about Key West being the whore of the Caribbean.

Nothing to do with trading sex for money, or for anything.

Sorry, Virginia Panico. It’s not in me to behave the way the Empire, er, the Chamber wants me to behave.

Meanwhile,

pirate radioyou don't know jack

8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning on Pirate Radio, 101.7 FM, live mayor candidates debate, Todd German moderator. Listen online at www.PirateRadioKeyWest.com. I’ll try to behave like any good pirate would try to behave.

Back in 2003, when I first ran for mayor, it came to me to suggest Key West dress its police officers like pirates, as a publicity stunt to attract more tourists.

When I ran for mayor in 2007, it came to me to suggest Key West dress its homeless people, who would do it, like pirate litter cops, as a publicity stunt to attract more tourists, get homeless people back to working, and to keep the city cleaner.

Bill Verge told me the other day that those were terrific ideas. I said, so terrific, only he and I in Key West thought they were terrific ideas. A nationally-syndicated radio show in New York City thought dressing street people up like pirate litter cops was a terrific idea. They called and interviewed me about it. Then a number of other US radio stations, including one in Honolulu, interviewed me.

Meanwhile …

Sloan blue

Sloan Bashinsky
keysmyhome@hotmail.com

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West, aka “southernmost correctional facility”

Sloan empire  t-shirt lge

About Sloan

Darn, that would take a while. Try the autobiographical pages in the header. Ditto for header menu pages at www.goodmorningbirmingham.com. Hatched and raised there, eventually I ran away from home. Here's a short list: Born 1942; male; single; accused of all sorts of imaginable and unimaginable things, perhaps some true. Live on Key West of Weird asteroid. Publish something most days on this website, been at that since July 2007. That's heaps of catch-up reading, probably not recommended.
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