Depress ctrl and + keys together to increase text size; depress ctrl and – keys together to reduce , the formatting in this post is not as good as I would like, an inadvertent glitch compressed the text, losing paragraph indentations This Friday issue of Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com – leads off with two kowabonga-shazam!!! Charles Eimers death in paradise articles, must reads.
Here are the links.
THE EIMERS CASE: Witness Claims Police Intimidation Tactics Will Not Deter Him I submitted a comment to each article.
Hard not to say it looks to me the KWPD, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Monroe County Medical examiner didn’t prostitute their souls in this sad case, so far. Perhaps they will see the light. I hope the Grand Jury and State Attorney Cathy Vogel see the light, in all events. Thank you again, Naja and Arnaud Girard
for terrific reporting/coverage.
The French-sounding man in the video is Arnaud.
Moving laterally, Jolly Benson replied to parts of yesterday’s the northernmost whore of the Caribbean – anatomy of a Key West cruise ship referendum post at goodmorningkeywest.com
Hi Sloan, I read your writings every day, as do many of the big fish in the Keys, even if they won’t admit it. While I am happy to see you haven’t forgot about the referendum, I would like to clear up a few points. I always mentioned several factors about why defeating a “study” to dredge the channel wider was important for Key West and the Keys. The first was the very negative impacts to the environment, which you mention. The second was the economic impact, and the third was quality of life, for both residents and visitors who stay for longer than a day. I certainly mentioned this at the Reef Relief forum, I am looking at my notes from that speech now. I mentioned it all over the place. To reiterate: The economic impact for this project would be severe. The city, by requesting a feasibility study, would have agreed to become a cost sharing partner for the whole project. If Key West were to invest several (20-25?) millions of dollars to widen the channel, and the result would be the same number of passengers as we get now (this is per the Chamber PAC), how would the bond be repaid, without any increase in revenue? With our tax dollars, of course. We would effectively be spending millions to tread water. As any business person can attest, this is not a good way to increase your revenue. The quality of life issue was also very important, and I think this was a major factor in the overwhelming results we saw last October. The people who live here, who grew up here, raise their kids here, or just decided this was the place to be themselves saw this referendum as a chance to stand up against businesses and their allies in government who put the almighty dollar ahead of everything else. There are some things money can’t buy, and this island is one of those things. I am still pushing for regulations, similar to what Alaska has done, where the dirtiest ships cannot call here. They should not be able to call anywhere, frankly. Commissioner Yaniz has said he would get legislation before the commission to that effect, we have not seen that legislation yet. Something to look forward to. I know you feel this is an all out war, and it may be that. But getting results requires some diplomacy. I have not given up the fight. Hope you are well, and keep up the writing. Jolly
Hi, Jolly – thanks for writing. Yes, I remember you made those points at Reef Relief’s forum, and at later forums. I agreed with you there. The other side admitted to a 15-20 year project, from start (the voters approving the study, being the start) to finish (the channel dredged and bigger cruise ships and more of the cruise ships currently calling on Key West being able to get into the harbor). It was the most convoluted assault (the other side’s) imaginable, and the most devious (the other side’s) not unimaginable. How many times did I hear John Dolan-Heihtlinger say more silt in the channel was good for corals, tarpon, etc. ? How many times did I not hear him say he was Ed Swift’s whore? I understood the way you were going about it, but I was getting a different line of attack. I was told to go straight to the heart of the matter, which was cruise ships. There was a metaphysical (spirit) reason that had to be done, because that was the core of the fracas. That’s what I am used to do in every fracas I’m put. Go to the core. It’s sort of like the old diamond cutters, before lasers. They studied a raw diamond before deciding where to strike it with their tool. If they struck it correctly, they got a gemstone. Otherwise, they go shards. The strike point in the referendum was cruise ships, which never should have been allowed into Key West to begin with. Letting cruise ships in was a deal with the devil; soul prostitution, because of what they were. It was trading the city’s soul for cruise ship dollars, at the expense of something far more important: the sea. I suppose we could discuss that a few lifetimes :-). I hope you are able to get the city commission to ban the dirty cruise ships. Not holding my breath, however. The city is so sold out to cruise ships, so thinking the city’s very life and soul depend on cruise ships, so deeply committed to its deal with the devil, that it may be the city is unable to right itself. Perhaps it will take something bizarre to deal with the situation. Say, a cruise ship captain runs his ship aground and breaches its hull and its fuel and sewerage tanks burst and give the Key West harbor a nice present. I imagine that would cause us all to forget about Tugboat Tilly :-). Putting the almighty dollar ahead of everything else is an excellent way to put it. Key West has done that in a variety of ways. Cruise ships and development and massive street congestion and parking shortages in Old town and polluted water filled with MRSA bacetera are glaring in plain view examples. Metaphysically, in spirit, it is all-out war. I see, feel and deal with it ongoing. One Human Family is a facade, like the the cruise ship in this cartoon. There is goodness in Key West, certainly; but the devil is getting the best of it. I look forward to seeing Tony Yaniz getting Margaret Romero to promote getting rid of the dirty cruise ships. Not holding my breath on that, either. I hope Tony goes after it himself. It will be a feather in his cap. Sloan
Also, you wrote: “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.” That is not true, we used these pictures all over the place. We even made a movie called “Silt,” which showed several minutes of footage of ships leaving the harbor. It is still available online. And this was in 2013, not 2003. But everyone probably knew what you meant.
I remember the “Silt” film, was glad to see it used. 2003, if I wrote that, was a typo. I also recall our conversation at Reef Relief forum about using those photos and the older one I had found.
A picture was worth a thousand words. I told you to use the photo on the anti-referendum poster. You went with the no-dredging claw-machine image on posters, t-shirts, etc.
I saw somebody walking on White Street yesterday evening, wearing one of those t-shirts. I said, I agreed with his t-shirt. The referendum ended up a smashing result for Mother Nature and the collective city soul, but as Jennifer Hulse proved, she and the Chamber and its allies were not giving up; channel-dredging resurrection was in the works. Maybe that’s why Tony Yaniz didn’t follow through? He knew it would cost him votes, if he ran for mayor this year? Same, if Margaret ran, it would cost her votes, if Tony was trying to stop the dirty cruise ships from calling on Key West? Doesn’t seem to both Mayor Cates. Seems all he sees is pretty.
Funny thing about the claw design. More than one person thought it resembled a bikini. I am not in favor of banning bikinis, though. But it made me laugh, and is something you could have used circa 2009. I doubt that was Tony or Margaret’s thinking, it should be the opposite. NOT doing anything should cost votes. We shall see if any relevant questions on this topic get asked during the Hometown! shindig. I am not holding my breath for that.
Well, now, looking at the claw design in this new light, it looks a bit more like a bit less than a bikini. Sly devil. Maybe still has potential this year. Tony and Margaret’s thinking should be banning the dirty cruise ships. So far, Margaret and Craig haven’t gone near that, but I keep pecking it. It kept coming to me today that we can thank Hometown! PAC putting John Dolan-Heithlinger and Jennifer Hulse on Hometowns candidate forum panel for this traipse down cruise ship referendum memory lane. I will be surprised if there are any questions at Hometown’s forum about cruise ships. There weren’t any at the Chamber forum, but I managed to squeeze it in during closing comments. I figured when I got there for the forum, that would happen. The Chamber was the driving force for the referendum and bigger cruise ships, they didn’t seem bothered by spinning it to suit them, and then Robin Lockwood had a lapse into conscience and spilled the worst dirtiest cruise ships are calling on Key West beans before he realized what he was doing. Pedaled my bicycle up to Key Haven this evening to see Jerry and Donna Weinstock before taking in “Lucy” at Regal Cinema. Jerry was napping, but I got to speak to Donna. I told her I lost my email@example.com email account, perhaps something Bill Gates dreamed up, and that’s why they haven’t been hearing from me. I said to check out today’s northernmost Caribbean whore post at goodmorningkeywest.com, and you and I were emailing about that rehash and ours might be in tomorrow’s post, which might be called the best little whorehouse in the Caribbean. Donna laughed. “Lucy” was a trip. Sloan
I am hopeful the forums will prove insightful. There are many pressing topics for this city to address, cruise ships is one of them. We shall see. On a different note, I do wish you would consider not being so personal in your disagreements with people. You’re good at laying out what you think without the need for the distasteful names. It gets in the way. As a writer you can surely see that. Jolly Benson I would appreciate it if you didn’t put my email address in your post. I try to stay a bit private. Thank you.
These days, I usually try to keep people’s email addresses out of my posts. Wasn’t always like that. People don’t like getting spam, bothered by other people. I lived and learned. I don’t tend to call people names in my posts. Sometimes a name cuts to the chase. I learned that as a writer, too; and by living. As I sat at the candidates table Wednesday, waiting for the Chamber’s forum to being, I found myself thinking, this had never happened before, there are no votes for me among these people; might as well let it all hang out, which I did in answering the 6 questions and in my closing comments. I tend to do that anyway. It was surreal that time, though, as if I was in another dimension speaking in the Chamber’s dimension. One thing I’m seeing in the forums this year, which always has been there at forums, but now I’m chewing on it to myself, so far, is too many questions are being asked which everyone in the audience should be able to answer. For examples: What can be done about our homeless problem, it’s hurting tourism? What can be done about the traffic congestion and parking problem? What can be done about the transient rental problem? The answer, nothing can be done. Why don’t you ask questions about something about which something can be done? One such question was asked at the Chamber forum, obliquely. If we were mayor, or if we are mayor and had it to do over, what would we have tried to do differently? Margaret Romero said she would try to make sure that people disclose their true interest what they are bringing to the city – John Dolan-Heihtlinger came immediately to my mind. Craig Cates said he would not do anything differently. Internally, I shook my head. I said, first off, I apologize on behalf of the city to the family of Charles Eimers for the Key West police killing their father on South Beach last Thanksgiving Day. The police profiled Eimers as being homeless and that’s why he died. If they had not profiled him as being homeless, he would not have died that day. Second, I try to get the Truman Waterfront Park plan set aside and give a lot of that land to the Housing Authority to put 500-600 affordable rental units out there, which the city sorely needs. The city does not need a new park out there, right next door to a beautiful park, which homeless people not use. Homeless people will use the new park. In answer to the earlier question, what did we think about having city-wide voting for city commissioners, instead of commissioners being elected by their own district’s voters, Margaret said she wanted to keep it like it is. Craig said he wanted to got to city-wide voting. I said, Todd German I had argued that for years, he wants city-wide voting, I want to keep it like it is. Bahama Village was the reason the Navy gave Truman Waterfront to the city. The Navy wanted to help Bahama Village. I told the Truman Waterfront Advisory Board that the city swiped 4 of those 6 acres set aside for Bahama Village, and the city should pay Bahama Village market rate for that land the city took; the city should write Bahama Village a check for $10,000,000. Clayton Lopez caved in on that, Bahama Village needs a stronger city commissioner. As far as I saw in the Chamber audience, the only person of African-American descent was Rodney Gullatte, whose group recently was again awarded the Goombay Festival license. Gullatte is not from around these parts. His group does not, to my knowledge, represent Bahama Village. It did not appear to me that the Chamber speaks for Bahama Village. It appeared to me the main casualty of going to city-wide voting on city commissioners would be Bahama Village. It looked to me like it might be a white supremacist conspiracy. But I didn’t have time to say all of that, and maybe I would have said it more politely, if I had had time, and maybe I would not have said it more politely. When I stood before the all-white Truman Waterfront Advisory Board, I started my comments with when I moved back to Birmingham from Colorado in 1995. I met a younger black judge at the YMCA, we started talking, getting to know each other. Finally, one day in the steam room he said he finally had figured me out: I was racially prejudiced against white people. I chuckled, replied, in many ways, that was true. Then, I told TWAB that Bahama Village should be paid market rate for the 4+ acres the city had taken. Sloan
I’m sure you have your reasons, but you can be hard on people, and you may not always have all the answers. An example is Margaret Romero. You can be critical of her, at times harshly so. But she is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. In fact, when I had to move, I had no place to go and couldn’t afford the $5,000 plus it takes to move into a new place, Margaret showed me a house she owns. To be frank it is the only real affordable housing this city has, people like her willing to rent a house for reasonable rates to people who work in this city, like me. She does not even mention that she has been doing this for years with properties. It is not for notoriety, it is because she knows how to do the right thing. With Jennifer and John D-H, they aren’t Pol Pot, you know. They aren’t pure evil, just itching to destroy mankind as we know it. They are people you disagree with on some things. Same with Ed and others. If we are to see any progress, we have to rise above the petty name callings and use words and ideas productively to solve some problems. And these are hard problems. There is no magic wand to wave, so we will have to hash it out the old fashioned way. I am encouraged when I think about the founding of this country, how Jefferson and Adams and others disagreed on almost everything. They spent six years after the fighting ended trying to get the words right. And they did, but it was miserable by all accounts. No doubt there was name calling, and venom spewed. But they knew it was too important to not work together and get things done. There are many viewpoints for our little city’s big problems. I tend to agree with you mostly. And I will give you credit for listening to almost anyone, often with far more patience than I could muster. But I do not see the personal digs as being productive. As the old Freshman Composition Class saying goes, show why, don’t explain why. People will be able to make up their own minds, and we may be surprised how much they get right. Have a lovely day, its warm out there! Jolly
Hi again, Jolly – Yes, I can be hard on people. And, I give credit where it is due. And, I know I don’t have all the answers. Most of my ideas are fed to me by the angels running me. Left to my own devices, I would come across as an idiot most of the time. I still feel like an idiot most of the time, in view of how often the angels get onto me. However, I can tell you the angels are not impressed (understatement) with John and Jennifer’s politics, and the angels share City Commissioner Teri Johnston’s view of Margaret’s politics: she criticizes at city commission meetings without offering solutions. And she is really prejudiced against homeless people. I have seen this myself. I do not know any of those three people socially, away from the politics. I have seen of them what the angels wanted me to see, because I am in the politics. I see far more than I care to see, it goes with the job the angels provided. I fantasize that I would much rather be on a motorcycle going wherever the wind blows me, but I don’t get to pick and chose what I want to do. It is given to me, and I do it. That can only be understood by someone having a similar experience. I hope this is the last time the angels have me run for office. Eight races down here seem more than a gracious plenty to me. After getting today’s post up at goodmorningkeywest.com, delayed because of the lively mayor debate this morning on Pirate Radio, which Todd German designed and hosted well, I’m going to take a nap hoping I don’t get mangled too badly in dreams. Then, I might take in “Hercules” at Regal Cinema. Then, I might read more in a novel. It’s been a very long time, Jolly, since had a “social life”, and I don’t see that changing. I’m glad you stayed in the conversation. Now to get the post up. Sloan
Moving further laterally …
evening check-in at KOTS, Key West’s overnight homeless shelter
Yesterday, I had lunch with John Miller, the new manager of KOTS. John had approached me by email, saying he was reading my posts at goodmorningkeywest.com and found them and my story interesting. John has an interesting background. He has worked in providing affordable housing in his hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. He has worked with returning war vets, trying to help them adjust back into society. He has worked with the Salvation Army and other homeless help organizations. He has build affordable housing. He has not been homeless. John asked, what did I think needs to happen, for the homeless situation to be turned around? I said, there is nothing that can be done to turn it around; and it’s going to get worse. It’s already worse in many places, than in Key West. I said, all anyone like you can do is what is in front of you, as you have been doing. Some homeless people you help. Street people are very hard to turn around. The new homeless are easier to turn around, but the city does not focus there. It only focuses on getting street people inside at night, out of sight, which is ironic because most street people go to hideaways at night to get out of sight and away from the police. When John said a big cause of the homeless problem is the mental institutions were closed and the inmates ended up on the streets, I said that was true, and talking about it changes nothing; they are still on the streets. And, if they are active addicts, which most of them are, usually booze, you cannot even address their mental illness. First, you have to get them sober. That always has to come first. I said, KOTS let’s in sober and using addicts. As long as that continues, KOTS never will be a rehab homeless shelter. The city needs its own drunk tank, for getting its drunk homeless people off the streets. I told the Chamber of Commerce that Wednesday: they are financially killing the sheriff and the hospital by sending them the city’s drunk homeless people. None of the other city drunks get to make that trip. When John brought up the lawsuit against KOTS and and golf course community’s distress over so many homeless people being in their midst, I said the city caused that when it built KOTS to try to get all the street people out of Key West. Father Steve Braddock and his right-hand man Charles Davis and I told the city not to build KOTS, they would end up regretting it. Now here we are. John mentioned what sounded like an interesting federal program for funding affordable housing, rental and for sale. He keep trying to steer me toward non-profit or a private developer doing it. I said that wasn’t going to fly with me. Put a developer in a deal like that, or non-profit, which really is for profit, based on the salaries its officers and employees receive, will drive up the rents. I want the Housing Authority to do it. John said, local developers and landlords and their city official allies do not want a lot of affordable rental housing, because it will drive down market rate rents and cost them money. I said, that it would, and all the better. John said, the city officials won’t go for it. Sounded like he had been there himself. I said he probably was right, but I was going to keep after it. Key West needs a lot of affordable rental housing, and public rental housing is okay with me, even if Mayor Cates and other people don’t want it. Developers’ affordable rental housing isn’t affordable to poor working stiffs. John said he would write me an explanation of the federal affordable housing program, as it applies to building affordable rental housing, which the Housing Authority might be able to use, if it starts its own non-profit. I will share that with you when I receive it.
As if something was in the wind, in today’s Citizen – www.keysnews.com, my interjected thoughts in italics.
Friday, July 25, 2014 Add to Facebook Add to Twitter Shelter no longer only a crash pad KOTS relocates homeless via the bus; uses case management to help BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
The city’s homeless shelter has changed over the past three years from a simple bunkhouse to a center that employs case management and offers relocation services for people who can’t make it on the island. “We tell the facts of life, too,” said Randi Cohen Brown, executive director of the nonprofit that has run the city’s shelter since October 2011. “This is Key West: Jobs are not plentiful. Housing is very expensive. This is not going to work for you.”
Amen on housing being very expensive. A lot of affordable Housing Authority rental housing on Truman Waterfront would ease that problem.
Case in point: On Friday, a blind, wheelchair-bound homeless man showed up at the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter (KOTS) seeking help, Brown told city commissioners this week during budget hearings. “He ended up getting back on the bus and going to Miami and getting assistance with the Veterans Administration up there,” Brown said. “Our case manager worked all day with this gentleman and got him to understand Key West is not for him.”
John Miller told me yesterday about this blind disabled man. John said he was the person who persuaded the blind man to return to the mainland. John said the blind man said a Miami homeless shelter had told him to go to Key West.
A few years ago, the city’s lone homeless shelter on Stock Island began to emerge under the direction of the Southernmost Homeless Assistance League (SHAL) as a new service provider, rather than only an overnight crash pad.
KOTS is still an overnight crash pad. Go up there and stand near the entrance gate any evening, starting around 5 p.m. and hanging out until dark, and see for yourself.
The cost to shelter a single homeless person overnight at the center, 5537 College Road, is about $8, Brown told commissioners this week. In the month of June, KOTS took in a total of 207 people, according to the nonprofit’s regular report to the city. Of that total, 37 were first-time users of the shelter. The figure has decreased slightly since the height of Key West’s winter season. KOTS took in 267 individuals in February.
I imagine the number of people using KOTS per night this time of year is 100 or more. Up to 140 per night during cooler months. When John Miller asked me yesterday how many street people did I think there were in Key West, I said counting Stock Island, maybe 300, which does not count all the people living in vehicles, or sleeping on friends’ couches. People who are working, but can’t afford rent. Nor does it count homeless people in the sheriff’s jail, or at the hospital.
SHAL proposed a $541,690 annual budget for 2015 and asked once again for $441,018 from the city’s operations budget to run the shelter, the same figure received the past two fiscal years. More than $302,000 of the total budget goes for payroll. Brown earns $50,000 a year. But the nonprofit also expects to have the city front it more than $91,000, which it will reimburse with state grant money it has already been awarded. SHAL also expects about $7,000 in additional funding from donations and a county grant. In her presentation at Old City Hall, Brown mentioned an additional $76,000 grant that SHAL will receive. The budget also includes running the “mobile outreach” service, which has changed from being operated from a recreational vehicle that tools around Key West to a Crown Victoria sedan donated by the sheriff’s office. It’s cheaper to maintain and easier to get through side street, Brown told commissioners. And the R.V. kept breaking down. “We’re ready to put it on the market,” Brown said. “It’s going to be sold.” KOTS’ 2014 expenses included a $25,200 electric bill that is some $11,600 higher than two years ago. “We’re paying the sheriff $25,000 in juice over there?” Commissioner Mark Rossi asked during the budget hearing. Brown said the sheriff pays the first $5,000 of the electricity bill and the city picks up the rest. The city must move KOTS from the sheriff department’s land off College Road to a new location in order to settle a lawsuit by Sunset Marina homeowners who don’t want the shelter as their next-door neighbor.
The city has no new location. The best location is where KOTS now is. Near law enforcement is best. Homeless people behave better near law enforcement. So do non-homeless people.
City Commissioner Tony Yaniz had questions for Brown about whether KOTS runs criminal background checks on those who stay there. Brown said KOTS staff and Sheriff Rick Ramsay keep in touch about the homeless who have criminal histories. Anyone new who shows up for a place to sleep is asked to complete an intake form. “We’re required to take anyone that comes to KOTS,” she told commissioners. “We pat them down to make sure they do not have guns or alcohol on them.”
Most of them have alcohol in them. I told John Miller, many local homeless people do not use KOTS, will never use it. They don’t like being near law enforcement. They don’t like being couped up with drunks. They are afraid of being robbed in their sleep. Of being beaten up. Of catching a terrible disease. Some simply cannot be in close quarters with other people. Some don’t like the curfew. Some want to be able to work at night, and sleep in a shelter during the day, which KOTS does not provide. Nor does Florida Keys Outreach Coalition. KOTS has no lockers. It’s clients have to haul their belongings off with them. Hard to get a job and hold it down, when you have no place to keep your belongings safe. John agreed, said a Salvation Army in Louisville had a locker system for its clients, who showed promise of trying to get straightened out. John agreed with me, Key West is letting new homeless people fall though the cracks. All the focus is on getting old homeless people out of sight at night.
SHAL relocates anywhere from seven to 15 homeless people a month, sending them on buses to family, treatment centers or other places where they can get the help not immediately available in the Keys, Brown said. “I like the bus,” Yaniz said from the dais. “So do we, sir,” Brown replied.
When John Miller mentioned yesterday the greyhound solution, I said it was tried many times, it never worked, homeless people came down to replace homeless people bused away, and some of the homeless people bused away returned. I told John that SHAL never impressed me. Nor had it impressed Father Steve Braddock, who told me he got fed up with SHAL and stopped having anything to do with it. I said, I told SHAL’s once director, Wendy Coles, that she was out of her depth and should find another line of work.
Brown, a former prosecutor, started running KOTS in early 2013 after its board of directors turned the nonprofit into a homeless service provider, ending its original mission as the Florida Keys’ homeless grant seeker and distributor. She took over as executive director when Lee Skillington stepped down earlier this year. Key West’s homeless population, known to dip a little during the summer months and spike during winter, just like the overall resident count, includes both sheltered and unsheltered men and women who refuse to stay at KOTS. In June, SHAL’s case managers helped 33 unsheltered homeless people access services that range from obtaining a legal identification to receiving disability benefits or health care they qualify for. KOTS, outfitted to hold a total of 140 people each night, reached its maximum capacity before 9 p.m. three nights in June — down from eight nights recorded in May. In January, it reached capacity by 9 p.m. every day.
Whew! That’s it for today.