Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com – North Roosevelt Blvd redo editorial cartoons
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Today’s inquiry begins with the now nearly completed redo (ordeal) of Key West’s North Roosevelt Blvd, which for the city, many of its residents and a number of businesses on Key West’s main road, perhaps can be ruefully compared to what the city’s main road looked like during Hurricane Wilma’s tidal surge in 2005.
Although another Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com – editorial cartoon also struck many raw nerves.
Let’s continue this gruesome with a letter to the editor in today’s KONK Life email BLAST – www.konknet.com. Then let’s follow that with today’s Key West Citizen – www.keysnews.com – version. Then let’s mention something the Citizen, nor any local newspaper nor radio news program,ever reported. Wonder why? I reported it at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.
In KONK Life’s email BLAST:
EMAIL TO THE EDITOR
No time to celebrate
It’s hard to believe the state and city would get together and celebrate 843 days of pain for the residents and businesses of Key West. Yes, the road is beautiful and safer, but at what expense to the citizens of Key West? Because of the length of time this project took, businesses were crippled and some failed. People lost their livelihoods. Tempers flared on the roads, and people were injured in the numerous accidents on Flagler while it was the main artery out of Key West until mid October of 2013.
Instead of celebrating, maybe they should just sit down and analyze what could have been done better. For instance, economic impact studies and different work models, such as having more crews, working through the night and from both ends of the project, thus completing it in half of the time. I do not claim to be a construction expert as the state threw into our faces each time the subject was brought up or we questioned the process. Construction equipment sat dormant for days/weeks at a time. The Salt Run Bridge was torn up and used as a garbage dump for a year or more. The Bicycle path was confusing and dangerous.
The smack in the face was a 4-day work week with a 2-week holiday while businesses struggled to stay open, their owners working 7 days a week and taking no vacations. So in the long run, if this is the best their construction experts can do, then they should be fired. Most of our city commissioners were of no help. Did they not realize what this would do to a small island, were they paying attention? If you went to the meetings, the state blamed the city and the city blamed the state. So what else is new in politics? No one ever even came out to see what could be done to help the struggling businesses and residents. I guess if they ignored us we would go away, well some did, forever. While the state and city celebrate, most of us are just breathing a sigh of relief.
Today’s Citizen version of the gruesome:
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 Add to FacebookAdd to Twitter
Officials laud Boulevard project
‘Lessons were learned’ from 2-year-plus roadway rebuild, state leader says
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
Yes, there was a ribbon-cutting in the middle of North Roosevelt Boulevard on Tuesday morning.
Two days after all five lanes of Key West’s main drag reopened for the first time since mid-April 2012, when the state’s $42 million reconstruction project began, the state stopped traffic for a few minutes to take the signature grand opening picture.
This was the shortest act of the entire project, leaders agreed.
The public relations people for the state Department of Transportation moved quickly to take the photo of Mayor Craig Cates cutting a gold ceremonial ribbon with the proverbial oversized scissors.
Then Police Chief Donie Lee politely ordered everybody back to the sidewalk.
“We can celebrate today a great milestone being accomplished,” said Gus Pego, FDOT District Secretary for the region that includes the Florida Keys.
Key West business leaders, elected officials, contractors and the DOT chief gathered Tuesday to praise the finished product that is 2.95 miles of U.S. 1 that for nearly 2.5 years upended traffic during two consecutive tourist seasons and tested the patience, and at times, nerves, of full-time locals.
“It was a very complex project — 11 miles of underground pipe — this was never a roadway project but truly an infrastructure project,” said Ananth Prasad, secretary of Florida’s Department of Transportation. “You’re basically upgrading your basic infrastructure that is needed for the community.”
The project also included the replacement of the existing seawall, which was built in 1928. What city leaders fended off, however, was the state’s plan to install a metal guardrail all along the stretch of North Roosevelt, which offers a rolling waterfront view.
Prasad admitted that DOT learned some hard lessons from this project.
“There have been some growing pains, some people getting upset with us,” Prasad said. “That’s part of any relationship. I’ve been married 22 years and trust me, my wife and I have argued a lot but we’re still married.”
Last fall, Prasad was treated to an angry band of locals — and an outraged City Commissioner Tony Yaniz, whose behavior the mayor apologized for that evening — at Old City Hall where he promised the project would end July 21.
On Tuesday, Yaniz joined in the ribbon-cutting and Conch Train ride but he stuck by his statement that FDOT was a lousy supervisor on the project. And he again used the word “arrogant” with the state leadership, the same word he threw at Prasad last fall during a town hall meeting.
Yaniz likened the project’s end to a severely ill patient who finally gets a clean bill of health.
“All the pain and all the suffering doesn’t go away,” Yaniz said later. “We had people who lost their businesses.”
On Tuesday, with the project technically finished but the speed limit remaining 25 mph as a construction zone, Prasad went with a football metaphor to describe the state’s work.
“We started right out of the gate with a few fumbles but here we are ready to score the last touchdown, ready to spike the ball so we can claim victory,” Prasad said.
After several formal speeches inside a conference room at the Marriott Beachside Hotel, some 50 people took a Conch Train tour of the project, which Historic Tours of America donated. HTA’s owner Ed Swift told City Manager Jim Scholl that the Roosevelt project is the biggest event he has witnessed in his 40 years in Key West.
While some locals bemoaned the project from start to finish, criticizing every move made by crews and the state leaders, Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting event was a positively charged thank-you session that included a few mea culpas from Florida DOT.
The state made shifts during the construction, Pego said, including the decision to end one-way traffic after several business owners railed against the traffic pattern as a sales killer.
Some 20 years in the planning, the Roosevelt project was far more than a paving project as the contractor, the DeMoya Group of Miami, began with tearing into the ground to replace the city’s original water main along with the sewer system and stormwater drainage.
“We want to continue to help the private sector create jobs,” said Prasad. “This project was a challenge. I know there were probably a few casualties as a result of this project. I can tell you this project creates the framework for the city to continue to be successful.”
State Rep. Holly Raschein couldn’t make it due to a special Legislative session Monday that kept her from finding a flight from Tallahassee, but she sent word via spokeswoman Erin Muir that North Roosevelt is now something many generations will enjoy.
“What a testament to the resiliency of our community, our small business banded together and weathered this storm,” Muir said on behalf of Raschein. “It was a painful process but, boy, do we have a beautiful product on our hands now.”
Now for the part of the gruesome, which never got reported, except by me at goodmorningkewyest.com:
I think it was maybe in the fall of 2012, or perhaps it was early 2013, that Secretary Prasad
and his staff came down to Key West for a town meeting in Old City Hall. A crowded town meeting. An angry crowd. Citizens were allowed to speak their minds, ask Prasad questions.
About a week earlier, I had bumped into former City Commissioner Barry Gibson,
who had sat on the city commission which had signed off on the North Roosevelt redo. As had Mayor Cates and all of the current city commissioners, except for Tony Yaniz, sat on that city commission.
I asked Barry about the North Roosevelt redo taking so long, having so many problems. He said the one regret he had as a city commissioner was he had not held out for a faster work schedule; he was only one vote, it might not have changed a thing, but he wished he had held out.
That was in my thoughts when my turn came to speak during the town hall meeting.
Secretary Prasad was standing at one of the speaker stations, surrounded by his staff, taking questions. The speaker station near the front doors into the chamber. Citizens spoke at the other speaker station, across the chamber.
I told Secretary Prasad that this was a very difficult project from the get go. He nodded appreciatively. I said I had two questions. The first … Prasad was now turned and speaking with one of his staff … I waited a moment, my 3 minutes were ticking … Prasad kept speaking to his staff member … I finally said pretty loud, “Are you listening to me?” Prasad jerked his head around and looked at me. Mayor Cates called me down. I said, Prasad wasn’t listening to me. I have two questions for him. Mayor Cates told me to ask the questions.
Knowing this was such a difficult project, and how long it was going to take, and the disruption it would cause, why wasn’t it bid out to be done round the clock, 7 days a week?
After learning of all the delays caused by the contractor, why did you wait until now to finally get involved?
Prasad went off on a tangent, not coming close to answering the questions. I told him he had not answered my questions, and I wanted an answer. Mayor Cates said I was embarrassing the community. I said I wanted an answer to my questions, starting with, why wasn’t the work put out for bid round the clock?
My time ran out, Mayor Cates told me to sit down. I said Secretary Prasad had not answered my questions. I wanted him to answer my questions. Mayor Cates said Secretary Prasad would answer my questions, but I needed to sit down and be quiet. Part of why my time ran out was Mayor Cates’ interruptions. Another part was Prasad went off on a tangent and did not answer my questions.
Looking like a deer caught at night in headlights, Prasad then said, “The city’s noise ordinance.”
Mayor Cates called for the next citizen speaker. From my seat, I told Mayor Cates that Secretary Prasad did not answer my second question, you said he would answer it. Mayor Cates told the KW police officer in the meeting to get me to be quiet. The officer came over, asked me to be quiet. I said, Mayor Cates said Prasad would answer both of my questions. The officer said it wasn’t going to happen.
I went over to Gwen Filosa and told her that Prasad had spilled the beans: the reason for the redo taking 2 1/2 years was the City Commission didn’t want to waive the city noise ordinance so the work could be done round the clock. Gwen said she got it.
However, in her article the next day, Gwen did not report my questions to Prasad, nor his eventual answer: “The city’s noise ordinance.” She reported that I had yelled at Prasad and Mayor Cates had said I was embarrassing the entire community.
I sure was doing that. I was proving through Prasad that the entire community’s mayor and city commissioners were the reason for the 2/12 year redo, instead of the work being done round the clock.
Mayor Cates said Tony Yaniz and I embarrassed the city, but Mayor Cates has yet to say what the KWPD did to Charles Eimers last Thanksgiving Day embarrassed the city. Eimers was stopped for changing lanes on fun North Roosevelt Blvd during the height of its construction and confusion. Eimers was profiled as homeless by the police officer who made the stop. This led to that, Eimers mysteriously left the scene at a slow speed, and the blue paper explained the ending this way.
During Hometown PAC’s August 4 candidate forum, click on this link to watch,
John Dolan-Heitlinger, starting around the 1 hour 16 minute 30 second mark, lamented the long and difficult North Roosevelt redo, and asked asked Mayor Cates why the work wasn’t done 24 hours a day? Mayor Cates gave a nice safe answer. John did not ask Margaret Romero and me for our thoughts on North Roosevelt Blvd.
Weeks before the forum, I told Hometown’s Chairman Todd German the forum panel was stacked in favor of Mayor Cates. Todd said that was not true. I said they stacked the forum in favor of Mayor Cates.
The panelists were Paul Clarin, Publisher of the Citizen; Jennifer Hulse, the Chamber of Commerce’s lawyer/lobbyist during the “channel-widening referendum last year, which referendum Mayor Cates supported being passed; John Dolan-Heitlinger, Ed Swift’s representative at “channel-widening” referendum forums last year, and Bill Becker, News Coordinator of US 1 Radio, who started the mayor’s part of the forum by repeatedly saying that he had called the Alabama State Bar and had been told they had no record of Sloan Bashinsky ever practicing law in Alabama. I’m pretty sure Bill was put up to that by Gwen Filosa.
Paul Clarin has yet to have the Citizen publish my August 7 letter to the editor explaining why the Alabama Bar Association told Bill that they had no record of my having practiced law in Birmingham: I had changed my name to Sloan Young, and that was who the Alabama Bar Association had a record of having practiced law in Alabama.
When Bill interviewed me on US 1 Radio yesterday morning, he tried to discredit me in other ways. Maybe it didn’t turn out like he hoped, maybe it did. You decide for yourself by opening this link – www.us1radio.com – and then open Programs, and then open Morning Magazine with Bill Becker, and then open Monday, and when the audio replay comes up, slide the bar rightward to the 8:20 minute mark, which is when the perhaps 9 minute interview begins. The replay should be available 7 days following the interview.
I received this email blast from Hometown PAC on August 11:
Dear Friends of Hometown! PAC,
The Video from the August 4 Question and Answer Forum at the Tropic Cinema is available for viewing on our website www.hometownkeywest.com
There is some lost audio in the Mayoral Question and Answer segment but that’s a problem that will be fixed by the time of the August 18 forum.
Open www.hometownkeywest.com and click on the “YOUTUBE” icon, and that will take you to to the video of the August 4 2014, Question and Answer Forum at the Tropic Cinema.
Or you can click on this link from the current edition of the blue paper:
The lost audio is Mayor Cates’ and my closing comments.
The usual mayor suspects, Craig Castes, left, Margaret Romero, center, moi
Early voting started the day hometown sent out the email blast. Lots of people will have voted by August 18. Hometown had the forum video as early as early as August 7, because a link to it was in August 8 edition of the blue paper.
Naja Girard, co-publisher of the blue paper,
told me yesterday to write down my closing comments at Hometown’s forum, and she would publish them in the blue paper. I said, during the forum I wrote down some bullet points to cover in closing remarks, and I would use the bullet points to write from memory what I said.
The bullet points:
1. Cruise ships
I said the Chamber of Commerce’s president Dr. Robin Lockwood said at the Chamber’s channel-widening forum last year that the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships were calling on Key West. During the next referendum forum, Dr. Lockwood denied he had said that, after I asked him about it. Jolly Benson, sitting out there in the Hometown audience tonight, said he heard Dr. Lockwood say it, and Jolly asked if anyone else heard Dr. Lockwood say it, and about twenty hands went up. If elected, I will try to get the dirtiest worst possible cruise ships stopped from calling on Key West.
I said physicians and divers down here know the ocean down here is infested with MRSA bacteria. If you nick yourself shaving your face, under your arm or your leg and then go into the ocean, you have a very good chance of contracting MRSA, and then fighting for your life. Our visitors are not told this, and they need to be told what can happen to them if they go into the ocean with a nick or cut on their skin.
(MRSA images, for blue paper readers who do not know about MRSA, which is a mutated antibiotic-resistant strain of staphylococcus bacterial, aka staph infection.)
3. Charles Eimers
I said, if elected, my first official act as mayor, on behalf of Key West, will be to apologize to Charles Eimers’s children for the KWPD killing their father last Thanksgiving Day.
(Hometown’s panel asked no questions about KWPD or Charles Eimers.)
4. Affordable housing
I said, if elected, I will do all I can to try to get as much actually affordable rental housing put on Truman Waterfront as possible, instead of a new park costing around twenty million dollars, which is supposed to pay for itself, but you will end up paying for it. That was the second time during the forum I pushed for actually affordable rental housing on Truman Waterfront.
5. Blue Paper and goodmorningkeywest.com coverage
I said, if you want to know what’s really going on in Key West, read Key West the Newspaper and goodmorningkeywest.com. Quite a few heads in the audience nodded.
I told Naja yesterday that there is a cosmic reason for the audio of Craig Cates’ and my closing remarks not being in Hometown PAC’s video replay, but I don’t yet know what the reason is.
Maybe some day the angels will get around to telling me?
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West