Pulitzer for Key West’s blue paper, more Charles Eimers killed by KWPD glad tidings, dead homeless people memorial farce, disband KWPD and let Sheriff Rick Ramsay and his deputies protect and serve Key West like they do everywhere else in the Florida Keys, and related praise reports from paradise not

Pulitzer

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NajaArnaud Girard

Naja and Arnaud Girard, co-publishers, Key West the Newspaper (www.thebluepaper.com), published online every Friday

Bob Kelly

Bob Kelly, of Key West, floated this on Facebook yesterday.

  • Robert Emmet Kelly
    Robert Emmet Kelly

    TO THE FIRENDS OF NAJA AND ARNAUD AND THE BLUE PAPER:

    http://www.pulitzer.org/

    I’m not quite sure of how to go about this. I chose these ten people somewhat at random as a means of getting the word out and enlisting the help of some who might volunteer to help to nominate our heroes for TWO Pulitzer Prizes. One for the Blue Paper for Investigative Reporting and Feature Writing; and one for Cartoons.

    Nominations are due not later than January 26, 2015

    I can to set up a collaboration site, either in Facebook or Google +, to be used to coordinate preparation of a formal nomination.

    For the present, this can serve as a gathering place until the collaboration site is set up.

    Who’s in?

  • Cricket Desmarais
    Cricket Desmarais

    How do we do it? I’d like to support this effort but time & finances are limited. Details will help

  • 2:17pmRobert Emmet Kelly named the conversation: Pulitzer for The Blue Paper.

  • Alexander Symington
    Alexander Symington

    Count me in. How can I help?

  • Robert Emmet Kelly
    Robert Emmet Kelly

    Suggest that those interested review the requirements at the Pulitzer link in the original post.

  • Alexander Symington
    Alexander Symington

    Will check out when I am on a comp.

  • David Lybrand
    David Lybrand

    Fully agree with the sentiment, hope that it can be done. I can’t help with it right now, but any activity that ‘s still hanging out in about a month I’ll be ready to jump in.

  • Sloan Bashinsky
    Sloan Bashinsky

    Thanks, Bob Kelly, you stole my and a number of other people’s including your own line, except the thought of nominating Arnaud’s “cartoons for a 2nd Pulitzer never entered my dumb mind – shame on me. I will publish this FB thread tomorrow at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.

    Can you submit your invitation, and the http://www.pulitzer.org/ link, into reader comments under Naja and Arnaud’s CRB article in this week’s blue paper issue, as I imagine people will see it there, who will not see it on Facebook.

    If you have more time, send this FB thread to CBS, the Citizen, the Keynoter, KONK Life, the Weekly Newspapers, Conch Color, and the Miami Herald.

    A diabolical thought just arrived in my head. A 2nd, or piggy-backed, Facebook grassroots petition drive asking Mayor Cates and the city commissioners to give Naja and Arnaud and the blue paper an official award for stellar community work, and to officially declare Thanksgiving Day as Charles Eimers Day, in Key West, and to officially declare Key West the Newspaper a Key West Living Treasure.

  • John Gish
    John Gish

    Sounds good to me. How can I help?

  • Alexander Symington
    Alexander Symington

    Sloan, I think you’re on to something…

  • Alexander Symington
    Alexander Symington

    How to submit an entry Any person may submit material coming from eligible U.S. newspapers or news sites publishing in print or online. In Investigative Reporting and Feature Writing only, work published in magazines and on their websites is also eligible. The entries should reflect what a reader saw and experienced. Some rules about numbers: ? Three entries per entity. No more than three entries may be made by the editors of a single newspaper, wire service, syndicate, magazine or other eligible news site in any one category. ? Two categories per material. The same content cannot be entered in more than two categories. ? Five named individuals maximum. Up to five individuals may be named on a team entry; they should be the strongest contributors to the work, whether they are reporters, photographers, videographers, graphic artists, producers or journalists who have worked in more than one format on the submitted entry. If the entry requires more than five specific names, it should be submitted in the name of the staff. ? Twenty items permitted in four categories: Public Service, Cartoons, Breaking News Photography and Feature Photography. Public Service entries may include editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, videos, interactive graphics, databases or blogs. Cartoon entries may include still or animated images. ? Ten items permitted in nine categories: Breaking News Reporting, Investigative Reporting, Explanatory Reporting, Local Reporting, National Reporting, International Reporting, Commentary, Criticism and Editorial Writing. ? Five items permitted in one category: Feature Writing.

  • Alexander Symington
    Alexander Symington

    Robert, do you want to organize the application?

  • John Gish
    John Gish

    I am John and not Robert. I do not want to organize the application, sorry. I’m too old and burnt out.

  • Alexander Symington
    Alexander Symington

    John, this is a group discussion…

  • Sloan Bashinsky
    Sloan Bashinsky

    I pulled this from the link Bob Kelly provided, maybe the journalist or the news journal need to make the application? Or at least put together what someone else wants to submit in their behalf, with the entry fee?

    Journalism entry Website is open

    The entry Website for 2015 journalism entries is now open. Reporting, writing, photos and cartoons published by eligible news organizations in calendar 2014 can be submitted. Remember, some magazines and their news sites are eligible for the first time this year in two categories only: Investigative Reporting and Feature Writing (full press release; most asked questions)

    Please read the Journalism Guidelines and Technical Requirements on the How to Enter page before submitting your entry. Also note the new guidelines for entry letters. Most common technical mistakes: don’t submit one large PDF of all your stories — they must be split up into separate files, and if you are submitting a multimedia package, it must be the only item in your entry.

    Enter early! Good luck! –12/12/2014

    how to enter…

    Pulitzer Prizes expand eligibility in Feature and Investigative categories

    The Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, which honor the work of American newspapers and news sites, have expanded eligibility for two prize categories, Investigative Reporting and Feature Writing, to include many online and print magazines, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced today.

    “After a considered review and discussion, we are adopting these changes in a spirit of experimentation, rooted in a commitment to the enduring values of great journalism,” said Danielle Allen, chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board. “We have chosen to focus our evolution on investigative reporting because of its relevance to public life and feature writing because of its emphasis on literary merit.” — 12/08/2014

    read more…

    Journalism Entries

    Online entry site

    Entries must be submitted online. Entries on paper are no longer accepted. Payment of $50 entry fee is by credit card only. See FAQ 11 for information on eligibility.

    Deadline: 1/26/2015

    Journalism guidelines/FAQ (pdf) Detailed explanation of the rules.

    Technical requirements (pdf) Details on PDFs, video and other elements.

    Examples of acceptable pdfs:

    One column format: Washington Post Two column format: Associated Press Online entry format: ProPublica

    Adapted from past entries, these examples illustrate readability. The Washington Post example also demonstrates how the original play of the story can be shown before it is reformatted into a one-column-wide PDF. The ProPublica example shows how an online site’s text story should be reformatted, in this case as one-column-wide PDF.

 Charles Eimer's take downCharles Eimers smotheredEimers police investigating selfEimers Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Eimers one human

Below is the teaser for the blue paper’s article (www.thebluepaper.com) on the Charles Eimers killing by KWPD part of the recent CRB meeting, followed by reader comments:

CITIZEN REVIEW BOARD SHOWS ITS TEETH!

512px-US-DeptOfJustice-Seal.svg

UNANIMOUS!  REQUEST FOR DOJ TO STEP IN ON EIMERS CASE / BOARD WILL PROBE DEEPER INTO TASING OF MATTHEW SHAUN MURPHY

“Garbage in. Garbage out.” That’s how Tom Milone, Vice-Chairman of the Citizen Review Board [CRB], described the concept of the Board relying on  investigative reports furnished by KWPD, FDLE, and SAO [State Attorney’s Office] when it comes to local police brutality cases.

The CRB voted unanimously on Wednesday night to make a formal request to the US Department of Justice to investigate not only the in-custody-death of Charles Eimers, but also the agencies that produced what he called, “tainted, compromised, and unreliable” investigations. CONTINUE READING ?

Key West The Newspaper [The Blue Paper] encourages spirited, open debate in comments on our stories. We do ask that you refrain from profanity, personal attacks and remarks that are off point. Please join the conversation!

 

8 COMMENTS ON “CITIZEN REVIEW BOARD SHOWS ITS TEETH!”

  1. Besides the moral issues of the Murphy and Eimers cases and the KWPD involvement and subsequent cover-ups, can the City of Key West afford the cost of bailing out the bad apples in the form of losing law suits? Where are all those folks constantly complaining about their tax dollars being wasted? Speak up!

    • My guess is most of Key West doesn’t care. Insurance pays the bill. I would bet dollars to donuts 1/2 of Key West have never heard of Chares Eimers.

  2. Finally!!! The CRB is talking serious (or at least acting that way) about complaints against the KWPD. But are they really? Where have they been re: Charles Eimers for the past year? Where have they been on the Shaun Murphy case for the past 3 1/2 years? Now that they are involved, can the really make a difference besides writing letters or making recommendations? Does the KWPD or the city commission take them serious? I doubt it because they all fought against forming the CRB to begin with.

    Just to be clear, I’m all for the CRB. Someone has to “watch the watchers” The problem being the KWPD and the city commission who obviously don’t give a damn about their recommendations any more than they care about other city panels formed to make recommendations (ie: trash pick up)

    Now all of a sudden there’s lots of comments in various publications about Eimers being killed by KWPD. While this is a great thing, where have you been for the past year? I can only think it’s because of the continuing coverage by Naja & Arnaud Girard of “The Blue Paper” and Sloan Bashinsky who hammered the KWPD and the commission relentlessly. But for these three, the case would never have seen the light of day. It would have been over and done before the turkeys and pumpkin pie were eaten that thanksgiving day. To these three courageous citizens we owe a huge THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

    Every week the city commissioners, Donnie Lee, and his 10 officers are getting closer to eating lunch at the “Karma Cafe”, where you are served what you deserve!

    Kurt Wagner

    St. Thomas, VI

  3. Thank you Tom Milone and Joe Pais for leading the way. Can someone please tell us which Commissioners appointed Kathleen Ford and Arthur Dennison? Thank God for the CRB. Keep up the good work. You may be the last bit of faith we have in any of the existing systems.

  4. Finally! Contacting the DOJ should have been done months ago. The bubba system ensnares too many who have any kind of power in the Keys, and corruption rules.

  5. Naja was the only journalist at the CRB meeting, the Charles Eimers part of which, and the second CBS report, the Citizen has yet to report.

    The co-stars of the Charles Eimers segment of the CRB meeting were Vice-Chairman Tom Milone and Joe Pais, who separately asked the CRB to accept the Eimers case, and who minced no words presenting their reasons therefore.

    Milone had prepared a “legal” brief”, which he presented, building a compelling, overwhelming case for the CRB to get involved and invite in the US Department of Justice.

    Milone and Pais were joined by Hayward Magby and Rodney Gullate, who minced no words, either. Chairman Michael Behrend was pretty quiet. Member Kathleen Ford said little. Arthur Dennison clearly didn’t care to invite in DOJ, even though he finally voted for it, subject to being able to review and object to parts of any letter sent drafted to be sent to DOJ.

    City Commissioner Clayton Lopez was at the CRB meeting through the Charles Eimers item; I think Clayton left after that. I was glad to see him there. South Beach, where Eimers was killed, is in Clayton’s voting district.

    CRB Attorney Robert Cintron seemed eager to do all possible to assist in presenting the Eimers case to DOJ. He told the CRB that the Horan law firm, the local lawyers representing the Eimers family in the federal court lawsuit, had offered to turn over everything they have to the CRB.

    After the meeting ended, I talked with Robert. He said the Eimers case really disturbs him. He had no kind words for State Attorney Cathy Vogel and her prosecutors in their presentation of the Eimers case to the grand jury.

    County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy emailed me yesterday, after watching the blue paper’s You Tube of the 2nd/recent CBS report on the Eimers case, which I had published yesterday athttp://www.goodmorningkeywest.com:

    “Thanks, Sloan, for adding the video to your blog. Disturbing, yes, but necessary. Everyone should have to view it, get queasy in the stomach and then demand a thorough investigation that will put this public relations black-eye to rest. The Eimers family needs to know the truth, whatever it may be, and the people of the Keys need it also. My admiration for Naja just keeps growing. Sylvia J. Murphy Mayor, Monroe County 305-453-8787 305-797-0088?

    I wrote to Kurt Wagner this morning, after receiving from him an email copy of his comment above, which he had sent to the mayor and city commissioners and city attorney and police chief; I copied All:

    “It’s a crying shame CRB meetings are not video recorded, but I can imagine why they are not, and I doubt it has anything to do with the cost of doing it :-). If Wednesday’s CRB meeting had been video recorded, the entire world could watch the most important city government meeting since I arrived in Key West in late 2000.

    “At past CRB meetings, I scolded them for complacency, for thinking few complaints being made to them against KWPD reflected the CRB doing a good job. To the contrary, I told them; that reflected loss of public confidence in the CRB.

    “Also, however, I told them to lay back in the Charles Eimers case. It was too soon for them to get involved. They needed to let the other investigative authorities have a chance to do the right thing. I reminded the CRB of that advice Wednesday night, and that I had given that advice because I had figured the other investigative authorities would hang themselves, which is what they did. Now, who can fault the CRB for stepping in and doing the right thing? Which is what they were formed to do. And they were to do their own investigation, and not rely on what other agencies did or reported.”

    I also told the CRB during citizen comments, that I was one of many Key West residents who participated in the grassroots movement to get enough petition signatures to force the city commission to put the CRB on a public referendum, which the city commission and the police department and the police benevolent association fiercely opposed. The referendum passed overwhelmingly, thanks in large measure to the blue paper, when it was owned and published by Dennis Reeves Cooper. And the CRB, with Todd German as its first Chairman, started out well, but as time passed, and new people took the helm, the CRB seemed to go a bit slack. And Naja and Arnaud Girard should receive a Pulitzer for their work on the Eimers case.

    The CRB was not slack Wednesday night, although there were moments when I wanted to grab Arthur Dennison and drag him off the dais and out onto the street, and send him on his way.

    • Here is what I wrote back to County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy, yesterday:

      Hi, Sylvia –

      I can’t imagine serious criminal investigation being generated locally. Maybe the Citizens Review Board will be able to draw in the US Department of Justice, but look at all DOJ has on its hands already, and you don’t have street riots in Key West, or big demonstrations. Hard to predict how that will go, but the plaintiff lawyers certainly are making KWPD, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, State Attorney Catherine Vogel and the county medical examiner look awful, thanks to all the hard work Naja and Arnaud did, and still are doing. Dangerous work.

      Robert Cintron told me after last night’s CRB meeting that he is very disturbed about the Eimers case. He said during the meeting, that the plaintiff lawyers told him they would give the CRB anything they wanted. I agree, everyone in the Keys should watch the videos, but I imagine a lot of people won’t watch. They don’t want to see it, or don’t care what is in it. Several of them are city elected officials. I’m not kidding.

      City Commissoner Mark Rossi crawled all over me in a commission meeting after I talked about the 2nd bystander’s video, and later he admitted to the Citizen reporter that he had not seen the 2nd video. Mayor Cates is allergic to anything that makes Key West look bad. He somehow spins it away, or ignores it. I can’t imagine doing that, I were in his shoes, or seat, or whatever. And he has lots, and lots, and lots of company in Key West.

      The irony for me is, I knew how it was in KWPD before Charles Eimers came here to help a lot more people know what I knew. Every homeless person in Key West knew. Every person living in a vehicle knew. And other people knew, who’d had rough dealings with KW cops.

      Robert Cintron said after the CRB meeting, that the thin blue line protection principle is everywhere, and we in Key West are just getting to see it on our home turf. He’s right. Cops don’t tend to rat out cops. It ain’t healthy for the ratters, nor for their careers in law enforcement. As I recall, that was what the movie “Serpico” was about.

      I got something brewing since putting up today’s post, re why Eimers drove off from the traffic stop? I’ve posited it before, but it’s come back around, so I imagine it will be posited again tomorrow.

      Ciao,

      Sloan

      • The something brewing came up with a Facebook friend request from Paul Clarin, Pubisher of the Citizen:

        Paul A. Clarin
        12/17, 6:37pm

        Dear Sloan:
        Merry Christmas!
        Will you please friend me on Facebook because I’m sick of Facebook telling me to friend you and then you ignoring my request…. Or not.
        Paul

        Sloan Bashinsky
        12/17, 10:20pm

        Sorry, I didn’t know you were requesting to be a friend. Will get right on it.
        just now sent you a friend request

        Paul A. Clarin
        12/18, 6:29am

        Ha! Got it. Welcome.
        Thank you for the way you’ve spoken for Mr Eimers
        .

        Sloan Bashinsky
        12/18, 11:05am

        De nada, some things are easy to speak for, and Mr. Eimers is a sterling example. I still am not settled about what happened to cause him to drive away from the traffic stop. I really would like to see his driver’s license, to see if it was bent or creased, which KW cops are known to do to driver’s licences of people they know or suspect are living in their vehicles. Maybe the cop did that, or did something else that freaked Eimers out. Or maybe Eimers was in some sort of rapture, angel-induced, and wasn’t entirely in charge, as he drove away, running red lights, according to police reports, videos, doing God’s work at a speed and in a way he never in his wildest dreams could have imagined.

        Sloan Bashinsky
        12/18, 5:41pm

        Coincidence? I write to you about KW cops bending and creasing driver’s licences, and later today I receive an email from a fellow who told me about it happening to him, and when he went to the driver’s licence bureau to get a replacement license, and told the woman who waited on him, she told him cops do that to driver’s licences of people they think are homeless. I passed that info along to David Paul Horan maybe 6 months ago, via the fellow’s first email to me about it.

        He wrote yesterday to me:

        “Hank Santorum writes in about running from the police which Charles did not run from the police I still believe he was told by the PD he could leave and he did but I was told I could leave while the cop put my drivers license in his pocket and I would not leave with out my drivers license and told him I will seek reimbursement from city hall in his name and that’s when he returned my license. Charles Eimers did not run from the civilian cops they set him to look like he left the scene of his own accord, not a chase at 25 miles an hour he was over come with fear when he saw who was following him.
        People please wake up.”

        Naja Girard told me Eimers’ driver’s license was in the KWPD evidence locker. I wonder if Horan has gotten to see it yet? I sure would ike to see it, to rule in or out tampering with Eimers’ driver’s licence.

thin blue line

This was on yesterday’s popular Coconut Telegraph forum (www.bigpinekey.com):

[Charles Eimers’ Killing] Undergoing medical distress, induced by a diabetic episode, explains the disorientation and erratic conduct of Charles Eimers. He surrendered all of his ID to the police officer when asked. He was not running from anyone. Confused, fatigued, disabled and stressed, Mr. Eimers’ may have believed that he satisfied the requests of the police and drove on. The body (remains) was degraded to the point by the police, that a forensic examination could not take place. What justified killing this man?

Eimers case part of CRB meeting, reported in today’s Key West Citizen, my interjected thoughts in bold italics:

Saturday, December 20, 2014 Decrease text sizeIncrease text sie
CRB wants feds to review Eimers case
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
gfilosa@keysnews.com

The U.S. Department of Justice needs to review the case of Charles Eimers, the Michigan man who died days after Key West police officers held him facedown during an arrest, the city’s independent review panel says.

“For a variety of reasons, I don’t trust the work that’s been done,” said Tom Milone, vice chairman of the Citizen Review Board (CRB) on Friday. “It appears that something very, very wrong happened.”

In a unanimous vote at its Wednesday night meeting, the Citizen Review Board directed its attorney adviser to call the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to find out what it required to make the request.

The CRB, a seven-person panel that reviews complaints of misconduct, agreed almost a year ago to hold off on any review of the Eimers case until the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the state attorney’s office and the Key West Police Department had released their respective reports.

But after watching each layer of review clear the police department, the panel decided this week that more scrutiny is needed.

Milone made the motion to request a DOJ review and member Joe Pais seconded it. All seven members voted in favor.

A grand jury in August cleared Key West police of any wrongdoing in the Thanksgiving 2013 death of Eimers, 61, whose arrest stemmed from a traffic stop that morning when he used a left-turn only lane to pass a police car.

The county medical examiner ruled the death an accident, though mentioned the “struggle” Eimers had with police that morning.

Videos taken by bystanders show Eimers surrendering to police after stopping his P.T. Cruiser outside the sand at the Southernmost Beach Cafe.

Eimers raises his hands in the air and drops to his knees, lying flat on the sand, video shows.

A second video that recorded what came after only surfaced last month, despite police having the phone number of the tourist who taped the arrest in their files.

That video shows police surrounding a mostly motionless Eimers, who is turned on his back once he stops breathing. His face is covered with sand and there is blood near his ear.

Police Chief Donie Lee says that all of these details have been reviewed by the grand jury and the FDLE.

State Attorney Catherine Vogel let the grand jury decide whether the police conduct was within the scope of the law. The FDLE also cleared the local police.

A Key West internal affairs probe concluded this month with two officers involved being disciplined for their conduct during the arrest.

Officer Gary Lee Lovette was suspended without pay for five days for his “lies and exaggerations” spoken to his family and others hours after the arrest ended in paramedics carting Eimers off to the emergency room.

How about Lovette told them the truth, which was so terrible Donie Lee and the grand jury and the State Attorney turned it into lies?

Lovette told someone it would have “been easier just to bury him,” according to a recording from his Taser stun gun, which he inexplicably left running for hours after the arrest on South Beach.

How about the Citizen simply reports everything Lovette said, instead of cherry picking and softening it, and let the Citizen’s readers decide for themselves, if they think Lovette exaggerated? Guaranteed, some of what Lovette said was seriously coarse, F-bombs, but, dang it, CRB member Joe Pais read it all out loud at the City Commission meeting, F-bombs and all, so it all should have been reported by the Citizen, which did not have a reporter at the CRB meeting, so I suppose this article today is based on listening to the sound recording of the meeting, since there was no video recording made.

Officer Henry del Valle was given a written reprimand for not following department policy when in pursuit of Eimers’ car, including not leaving his patrol car’s siren and lights on the entire time.

The CRB also instructed its attorney, Robert Cintron, to ask the attorneys representing the Eimers family in a wrongful death suit for the videotaped depositions of officers, including Chief Donie Lee.

“We don’t have the resources to conduct an Eimers investigation from scratch,” said Milone. “We don’t have the investigators. We don’t have the money. We have to rely on other agencies and other attorneys in the lawsuit. They’re bound to bring things out as well.”

During citizen comments, I told the CRB they need to gather all the information available, and streamline it into a “trial brief” showing what they want the Justice Department to see and, hopefully, causing them to want to investigate, as opposed to just inviting DOJ to investigate. The CRB members and Cintron then talked about how to do that, and Cintron told them he would help draft what is sent to DOJ.

Milone acknowledged that the federal officials don’t have to take up the Eimers case.

“Hopefully, they’ll give us a response one way or the other,” Milone said. They could say ‘no.'”

But the DOJ could also end up investigating the department as a whole, as it has in other cases that began with one incident, he said.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Milone said.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

homeless soup kitchenSt. Mary’s soup kitchen, Key West

Yesterday, Key West’s annual dead homeless people memorial was held in the Key West Cemetery.

mud dogMike Tolbert

“Mud Dawg” Mike Tolbert called me last night, to ask where I was at the memorial? I said I had spaced it out.

Besides spacing it out, I took a nap, which lasted through the memorial. During the nap, I received dream instructions to submit my 2nd and 3rd comments under the blue paper article reported up above, and nothing was said in my dreams about the homeless memorial.

I told Mike that I wondered if I would be hammered in dreams last night, for missing the memorial? No, but Naja Girard did ask me in a dream, if I was going to write something about the memorial today?, after I’d already had a dream very much encouraging me to write about Naja and Arnaud receiving a Pulitzer, and then including the blue paper article’s teaser and reader comments in today’s post.

Mike and I had an interesting conversation about the memorial, which went sort of like:

I said, not all of the departed homeless people were homeless, which kinda bothered me, increasing their numbers, maybe to get more grant money than if there were fewer numbers? Mike said that bothered him, too. I said, it also bothered me that the folks who hosted the memorial did not get behind promoting attendance at Charles Eimers memorial, who the police profiled as being homeless, which is why the treated him so roughly (killed him). Mike said that bothered him, too.

I said, the people who were memorialized are happier and better off now, than when they were among the living, and it’s the people left behind who have the problem with them being dead and nobody to memorialize them. Mike agreed, said he wants a party thrown after he’s gone, not a solemn service. Me, too, I said. Mike said, when I die, City Commissioner Mark Rossi will throw a huge party on Duval Street, free beer; I said, because he’s so happy I’m gone and can’t poke him anymore. Yep, Mike said.

Mike said, Gwen Filosa was there, she probably would write up a nice article today. I said, but she was not at the CRB meeting, and still no article on that. Jesus said to let the dead bury the dead, I’m trying to do something about the living. Mike agreed. Mike and his wife, Patti Jo, were homeless together. They know that terrain. They cooked up turkeys and other vittles and fed all of KOTS clients and staff on Thanksgiving Day. KOTS is Key West overnight homeless shelter.

I told Mike, if I reported his and my conversation, it would not make everyone happy. He said, yep, so what?

Here is Gwen Filosa’s report today on the homeless memorial, my interjected thoughts in bold italics:

Saturday, December 20, 2014
A funeral for those who lived, died without
County spends $65K to cremate impoverished, homeless residents
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
gfilosa@keysnews.com

Fifty-four Florida Keys residents who died in 2014 without family or friends to claim their remains, let alone make funeral arrangements and order the flowers and obituary notices, were honored Friday at Key West’s Homeless Persons Memorial Day service.

Prayers, hymns and pleas for unity across — and despite — income lines and various states of mental and physical health were offered during the 3 p.m. service held at the city cemetery.

On a small tropical island where the homeless is a political debate, mainly over where to move the overnight shelter that the city agreed to pack up from the sheriff’s property on Stock Island to settle a lawsuit by Sunset Marina homeowners, the annual service has become a verbal cease-fire.

None of the speakers spoke of lawsuits or the police’s common practice of jailing homeless men for drinking beer near Duval Street, where tourists routinely imbibe freely.

If I had been invited to speak at yesterday’s memorial, because I did live on the street in Key West, and I did a few months in Florida Keys Outreach Coalition’s program, and I did stay a brief time at KOTS, and during all that time and ever since I spoke and wrote to homeless issues in Key West, and elsewhere, but never was invited to speak at the annual memorial, I would have spoken of things nobody wanted to hear. I would have spoken of how truly difficult being homeless is in Key West, and of how it is not sufficient to honor dead homeless people, when so many living homeless people here are criminalized by the city government and its police, with tremendous support from the general populace. For the life of me, I do not understand why homeless people, or people who once were homeless, Mike and Patti Jo Tolbert, for example, do not conduct the annual memorial for dead homeless people. Why do people, who have no clue what being homeless is like, conduct the memorial? It’s okay they sponsor it, because homeless people have no resources or cohesion to sponsor the event; but those who have not been homeless have no standing to speak for dead homeless people. I wonder how many of the people who spoke yesterday spoke out at city commission meetings, against the city government criminalizing and using city police to terrorize and brutalize homeless people, simply because they are homeless? Facetious question.

Instead, the theme became one of restoring dignity to those who lived lives riddled with insult and injury.

Baloney. This is self-serving. They are with God, and need nothing from the left behinds, who need plenty.

“They are a part of us as well,” said J.T. Thompson, the Key West artist who introduced “One Human Family” as the island’s motto via bumper stickers in 2000. “Everyone is a part of us. Everyone is an extension of who you are.”

True, but the only time I recall hearing Thompson champion homeless people being part of the mythical one human family is at the annual memorial for homeless people who died that year. 

Thompson spoke in detail about the Christmas Day Truce of 1914, when British and German soldiers stopped fighting in light of the holiday. They ate dinner, traded gifts, sang carols and even played soccer with improvised balls.

During that truce 100 years ago this week, an event never duplicated, the enemy soldiers also helped one another bury their dead, Thompson noted.

I would have talked about how many homeless people stupid, useless, costly US wars create.

While the annual ceremony attracts elected leaders, members of the clergy, nonprofit directors and local activists, it’s the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition that orchestrates the event.

Mike Tolbert told me the only elected city official he saw there yesterday was city commissioner Clayton Lopez. Mike said he thought commissioner Jimmy Weeklely was supposed to be there, but he did not see him, but maybe he was there.

The nonprofit, which works to house homeless individuals and families with children, purchased a vault at the Key West cemetery several years ago as a final resting place for people who died without a proper home or without any means to have any type of burial.

“It is important for us to honor and remember the humanity of those we served,” said Sam Kaufman, a local attorney who serves as chairman of the FKOC board of directors.

Monroe County will spend at least $65,000 this year on cremations for more than 50 men and women classified as “paupers” in government jargon, according to Sheryl Graham, Monroe County Social Services director.

Graham, who is in charge of trying to track down relatives or friends to claim the county’s indigent dead, was the first of several attendees Friday to read aloud the names collected in 2014 — in order of the time of death.

Dulce Maria Olavarietta, 87, died Jan. 8 in the Lower Keys, according to a list of the impoverished who the county helped lay to rest this year.

Although the last name on the county’s list so far is that of Cameron Eklund, 53, who died Dec. 1, two additional names were read aloud at Friday’s memorial service — Michael, 51, who died Dec. 9, and Rodney, a man remembered Friday by several locals as having battled alcoholism for years.

Friday marked the first time in 15 years that the Rev. Steve Braddock, FKOC’s president and CEO, didn’t preside over the event. Braddock suffered a brain hemorrhage last month and is recovering well, Kaufman said.

I told Mike Tolbert yesterday, that when I asked Steve Braddock to help promote attendance at Charles Eimers’ Thanksgiving Day memorial service, because the cops had profiled Eimers as living in his vehicle (homeless), Steve declined, said he would be away with his mother for Thanksgiving. The week before Thanksgiving, Steve suffered the brain hemorrhage. I told Mike, I can’t help what I see, and say about what I see, even though a lot of people don’t like me saying it. Steve should have have promoted the Charles Eimers memorial. He didn’t. He had the brain hemorrhage. Mike said he had no problem with how I see it. Not easy to see, by any means. Steve is a friend of mine. We went a lot of miles together. Sam Kaufman also is a friend of mine, and my lawyer. We went a lot of miles together.

City Commissioner Clayton Lopez was supposed to sing “Amazing Grace” during the service. But when his turn came, Lopez said instead of singing, he would rather read a verse of the age-old hymn and quote an old proverb.

“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal,” Lopez read.

Amen, Clayton. Thank you. However, it will help heaven greatly, if you, in your official capacity as a city commissioner, pester the other city commissioners and the mayor to order city police to leave homeless people alone, who are not causing serious trouble for other people, or are a serious threat to themselves. It also will help heaven greatly, if you, in your official capacity as a city commissioner, join the CRB in inviting the US Department of Justice to investigate the killing of Charles Eimers by Key West police in your city commission voting district, and the massive cover up which ensued. It also will help heaven greatly, if you, in your official capacity as a city commissioner, pester the other city commissioners and the mayor to ask Sheriff Rick Ramsay

Rick Ramsay

to provide law enforcement in Key West, just as he does everywhere else in the Florida Keys, and the KWPD is disbanded. Sheriff Ramsay and his deputies have a far kinder, far saner, and far less expen$sive approach with homeless people, than KWPD has. Sheriff Ramsay and his deputies are not prone to behave like the Gestapo and get themselves, Monroe County and the several Florida Keys cities they protect and serve sued. Sheriff Ramsay and his deputies cannot be ordered by the Key West city government to do anything, because Sheriff Ramsay answers to Tallahassee.

Sloan at Smathers Beach

Sloan Bashinsky, ex-lawyer
keysmyhome@hotmail.com

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