more No Name Key and Florida Keys blackboard jungle intrigue, and some more on the naval battle in Key WestThursday, February 28th, 2013
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Correction to this part of yesterday’s Florida Keys county commissioners George Neugent and David Rice come out of the closet post, re article in The Key West Citizen:
“We just put in millions of dollars infrastructure out there and we are now telling people that they can’t hook up to it,” Neugent told his fellow commissioners, arguing that the commission should allow utilities at least through Coastal Barrier Resource zones.
Who is “we”? What millions of dollars of infrastructure did “we” just put in out there? That’s the first I ever heard of that, and I don’t imagine I’m alone.
My bad. In that moment, Commissioner Neugent was referring to upper Key Largo, not No Name Key.
Following up on yesterday’s post, I watched the video tape of the afternoon session of Tuesday’s County Commission special meeting on No Name Key, by following these instructions:
To see the video replay, which is not yet up, go to/click on www.monroecounty-fl.gov , on far right of top menu, click on Services, when that opens, click on Video on Demand, when that opens, Click on February, when that opens, highlight the 26 February commission meeting and open that, and the video will come up, I was told by the County Administrator’s office, and you take it from there.
My sense that Commissioners George Neugent and David Rice are in league with Brad and Beth Vickrey remains. However, I cannot argue against Neugent and Rice’s position that the dispute on No Name Key has gone on far too long for the county government, and it has cost the county government too much staff time and money, and the county needs relief from that and, as Commissioner Nuegent said, the two opposing sides can fight it out, or resolve it, among themselves.
From all I have seen, it looks to me, as Commissioner Danny Kolhage said yesterday afternoon, that this fracas may be resolved for the county sooner than later by a court. And, it may be that is resolved sooner than later by the Public Service Commission. Yet, there is no way to prevent Alicia Putney from taking an appeal from a court or from a Public Service Commission decision, which, as County Attorney Bob Shillinger and Growth Manager Director Christine Hurley pointed out yesterday afternoon, could cause as much or even more delay than the county government going through the hoops of amending its Comprehensive Plan, so as to allow homes on No Name Key to connect to Keys Energy Services power lines already installed out there.
If there were no down the road consequences to the County Commission doing what Commissioners Neugent and Rice want done, I imagine Commissioner Kolhage and probably Commissioner Carruthers would have voted to do that yesterday. However, there were down the road consequences, in the form of an appeal by Alicia Putney, and who knows what all sorts of applications for similar rulings from the County Commission filed by who knows whom from then on? Once that door is opened, there is no telling who will try to come through it, and that’s what Commissioners Kolhage and Carruthers, and, I imagine, Commissioner Murphy, want to prevent.
One interesting piece of information came up when County Attorney Shillinger told Commissioner Neugent that he had voted for the part of the Comp Plan provision he now says is illegal, and that the County Attorney at that time was Jim Hendrick, who told Commissioner Neugent, when he asked Hendrick about potential litigation down the road, that litigation was not always a bad thing. That was when Jack London and Murray Nelson were on the County Commission, Commissioner Neugent said.
I told someone last night, that Barton Smith, who represents two families on No Name Key, who want to hook up to Keys Energy Services power lines, used to rent, maybe still does, office space from the same law firm where Jim Hendrick worked before he was disbarred, after he was convicted in Federal Court for witness tampering, in a case that, according to all I read and heard, stemmed from County Commissioner Jack London taking a bribe from someone else, who ended up taking a plea deal, and wearing a wire and talking with Jim Hendrick, and that all led to Jim being charged, tried and convicted.
I told the someone last night that I used to eat lunch every Friday with the members of that law firm and other people who ran with those lawyers, and Bart Smith came to some of those lunches, which is I how I go to know him. I told the someone that it would not surprise me if Jim Hendrick, who knows as much, if not more, about land use law in the Keys as anyone, is advising Bart and his clients behind the scenes, and/or is advising Brad and Beth Vickrey behind the scenes. I said why wouldn’t someone with a land use law situation go to Hendrick? He advises the Walshes and the Bernsteins on Wisteria Island. He advises Pritam Singh on his various developments. Hendrick doesn’t do it as a lawyer, but as a consultant. I know this because he told me about it when we were friends and played a lot of chess and did other things together. He calls his company, Critical Concern, Inc.
Right, Jim Hendrick may not be involved in anything going on re No Name Key, but if someone came to me with a land use law situation in the Keys and asked me who was the best expert in that field?, I would say Jim Hendrick. And, I would say what I knew about him, which I felt they should know. For new readers, I only got to know Jim after he was indicted. Before that, I only had heard of him. It was yet another relationship the angels arranged for me to have, and to engage as it unfolded. I still have great fondness for Jim, but some things happened which left me feeling I no longer should run with him. I wrote about that in the past, and will not go into it here.
I said perhaps there is something out there, which I do not see, which will come into play and keep No Name Key off the grid, but righ now it looks to me that the island will go on the grid. This someone was very upset with George Neugent and David Rice. This someone does not live on No Name Key. This someone has friends. This someone talked about the 2014 county commission race, and a new county commissioner being elected, instead of George Neugent being reelected. Not me, replacing George. Someone else, who I don’t imagine would have any trouble beating George, if he decided to run again. George told me during the 201o race, that it was his last. That someone is former County Commissioner Kim Wigington, who now lives on Big Pine Key.
When Kim did not run for a second term, Danny Kolhage filed to run for her seat, which covers part of Key West and up to Shark Key. Danny was the County Clerk. Nobody filed to run against him. He won the seat by being the only candidate to file. If Kim had filed to run again, she would have been a shoe-in to be reelected. Maybe nobody would have filed to run against her. I tried to get Kim to run for the School Board last year. She said no way that was going to happen. She would make a great county commissioner to replace George Neugent. She stands her ground. She fought the Navy to a draw on Stock Island, which is more than Key West can say about its dealings with the Navy.
On a totally different Florida Keys weather front
Responding to an older college is for suckers, Bammer Nation and Junkyard Dawg Nation karma, and other subjects not taught in school post,
Michael Shields (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote yesterday, 27 February 2013:
Thought you might want to read this, from the August Harvard Business Review….
Hi, Michael – excellent article, thank you, might fit into tomorrow’s post with other school stuff already in today, not nearly as interesting nor as important as this M.I.T. fellow’s article, in my opinion. Sloan
blackboard jungle email chain from Larry Murray yesterday:
From: Lawrence Murray <email@example.com>
To: Ed Davidson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Rob Smith-Martin <email@example.com>; Ron Martin <firstname.lastname@example.org>; John Dick <John.Dick@KeysSchools.com>; Andy Griffiths2 <email@example.com>; Mark Porter <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Dirk Smits <email@example.com>; Stuart Kessler <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Sean Kinney <email@example.com>; Terry Schmida <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Terry Schmida2 <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 12:06 PM
Subject: Deliberating in the dark is bas business
I understand that the School Board has created a committee that includes you to look into, investigate?, the whole issue of HOB Change Orders. I think that such an investigation is an excellent idea and absolutely necessary considering the questionable veracity, legality?, of some of those Change Orders.
However, to conduct such an investigation in the “dark” as opposed to the “sunshine” is, at best, a very bad idea. While the Board may have received advice from counsel that to do so is legal, that does not make it either right or a good idea. Of course, I am a firm believer that all public business should be always conducted in the sunshine.
I see no reason why your committee’s deliberations should be conducted in camera. If there is a good reason, I would appreciate if you would explain that reasoning to me and the public in general. All I have heard to date is that privacy promotes candor as if candor cannot be had in a public environment.
If your committee proceeds in the “dark”, its conclusions and recommendations will invariably, by definition, be suspect. I fully expect to hear the word “coverup” when people describe the committee’s deliberations, conclusions and recommendations.
I strongly urge you to insist that all committee deliberations be open to the public, including the press. If the committee has nothing to hide, why not conduct the public’s business in the “sunshine”?
The School District’s lawyer replied:
From: Dirk Smits <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Lawrence Murray <email@example.com>
Cc: Ed Davidson <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Rob Smith-Martin <email@example.com>; Ron Martin <firstname.lastname@example.org>; John Dick <John.Dick@KeysSchools.com>; Andy Griffiths2 <email@example.com>; Mark Porter <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Stuart Kessler <email@example.com>; Sean Kinney <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Terry Schmida <email@example.com>; Terry Schmida2 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 12:33 PM
It must be fact finding only. This is clear under the sunshine law. I am published in this area and will be there to ensure compliance. No decisions or recommendations will be made as a result.
The meeting Mr. Murray describes would be cumbersome to say the least. We are to learn only and then bring what we learn to the public.
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 11:00:34 -0800
Subject: HOB Change Order Fact Finders
CC: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; John.Dick@KeysSchools.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatever you say. We shall see how it evolves. Without “decisions or recommendations”, I am not entirely certain of the purpose of the committee. If it is simply “fact finding only”, I believe that that charge only enhances my argument for the need to conduct sessions in public.
I replied to ALL:
Given history’s footsteps, it’s hard to imagine this will turn out to be any more than a falderal, like the Fraud Hotline and the Audit & Finance Committee, and the incessant misrepresentations of the true state of the reserve fund balance. Masturbation comes to mind.
Pity, such declarations and resolvings were not applied to the events at Key West High School leading up to Matthew Gilleran’s suicide. Money does seem more important, although holding my breath over the most likely outcome, I will not.
A school employee, or contractor employee, might be seriously reluctant to say anything, fearing a Kathy Reitzelesque result. An anonymous Fraud Hotline much preferred, alas, that was redundant.
While twisting HOB around the mulberry bush, or down a rabbit hole, ponder something Michael Shields of Key West sent today, of far greater import, alas.
Stop Requiring College Degrees
by Andrew McAfee | 7:00 AM February 26, 2013
If you’re an employer, there are lots of signals about a young person’s suitability for the job you’re offering. If you’re looking for someone who can write, do they have a blog, or are they a prolific Wikipedia editor? For programmers, what are theirTopCoderHYPERLINK “http://www.topcoder.com/”or GitHubHYPERLINK “https://github.com/”scores? For salespeople, what have they sold before? If you want general hustle, do they have a track record of entrepreneurship, or at least holding a series of jobs?
These days, there are also a range of tests you can administer to prospective employees to see if they’re right for the job. Some of them are pretty straightforward. Others, like Knack, seek to test for attributes that might seem unrelated, but have been shown by prior experience to be associated with good on-the-job performance.
And there’s been a recent explosion in MOOCs — massive, open, online courses, many of them free — on a wide range of subjects. Many of these evaluate their students via a final exam or other means, and so provide a signal about how well someone mastered the material. MOOCs are still quite young so it’s not clear how accurate their evaluations are, but I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen so far. I’d give serious consideration to a job seeker who had taken a bunch of MOOCs and done well in all of them.
You’ve noticed by now that ‘a college degree’ is not in this list of signals. That’s because I think it’s a pretty lousy one, and getting worse all the time. In fact, I think one of the most productive things an employer could do, both for themselves and for society at large, is to stop placing so much emphasis on standard undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Unfortunately, employers are doing exactly the opposite — they’re putting more emphasis over time on old-school degrees, not less. As a recent New York Times story put it, “The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job.” Dental lab techs, chemical equipment tenders, and medical equipment preparers are all jobs that require a degree at least 50% more often than they used to as recently as 2007.
There are two huge problems with this approach. One is that college is really expensive, and getting more so all the time. According to figures compiled by Jared Bernstein, while median income for two-parent, two-child families went up by 20% between 1990 and 2008, the cost of a four-year public college education went up by three times that amount. Total student loan debt is now larger than credit card debt in the US, and it can’t be discharged even in bankruptcy. As a 2011 graduate working as a receptionist put it in the Times article, “I am over $100,000 in student loan debt right now… I will probably never see the end of that bill”
The even bigger problem is that, as I mentioned above, I believe college degrees are getting less valuable over time even as they’re getting more expensive. There’s a lot of evidence piling up about what’s happening with actual learning on campuses these days, and most of it is not pretty. Fewer students are entering the tougher STEM majors and completing degrees in them, even though graduates in these fields are much in demand. It’s taking students longer to complete their degrees, and dropout rates are rising. The most alarming and depressing stats I’ve come across are that 45% of college students didn’t seem to learn much of anything during their first two years, and as many as 36% showed no improvement after four years. Whatever’s going on with these kids at these schools, it’s not education.
I think what’s going on in my home industry of higher education at present is something between a bubble and a scandal. And I don’t think it’ll change unless and until employers shift, and start valuing signals other than college degrees. I can’t think of a single good reason not to start that shift now. Can you?
More blog posts by Andrew McAfee
Andrew McAfee Andrew McAfee is principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business in the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is the author of Enterprise 2.0 and the co-author, with Erik Brynjolfsson, of Race Against The Machine.
I suppose I am the living proof, and plenty more.
Sloan Bashinsky, B.A. Economics, Vanderbilt University; J.D., University of Alabama School of Law; L.L.M., in tax law, University of Alabama School of Law
P.S. On Key West’s battle against the Navy over Truman Waterfront, two interesting letters to the editor in The Key West Citizen today:
Let’s do something before it’s too late
I, like many, have been trying not to pay too much attention to the snail’s pace progress at the Truman Waterfront. Now that the marina is dead in the water, we need to consider alternate forms of potential revenue in order to someday make the park a park. I figure we have about 100 years before we can snorkel there, and when I say we, I do not mean me.
I have proposed a green-themed park before, including parking covered with solar panels to generate power to charge electric vehicles. I think we may have one of the largest and most diverse fleets of electric vehicles for a town our size on the planet. Not to mention water catchment and just plain old available covered parking. It gets really hot out there.
Is a large windmill with an observation deck really a crazy idea? How tall is that Navy tower? Imagine the view. I would pay to see it. It could be illuminated at night as a navigational aid and migratory bird warning system.
By the way, the windmill would power the desalination plant that would keep the park green. We all want a community garden. Why not a really high-tech one that people might pay to see, use, and learn from? Not to mention the produce.
We have dillydallied way too long without planting a single dilly tree. What is wrong with us?
There are many aspects of the economy in this town that depend on the generosity of those who live here. Would you pay $100 a year, or more, like you do for a Florida State Park Pass, to be a member of the TWPSC — Truman Waterfront Park Social Club??
I just might. And it is really supposed to be our park. Let’s do something with it, before it really is too late.
Alas, Matt, I doubt there is enough constant wind to for a windmill, but the solar farm and community garden is a great idea. They could divert some of that treated wastewater they are injecting into deep wells, to irrigate the community garden.
Give the waterfront back to the Navy
Regarding the editorial on the closure of the harbor slamming the door on marina funding; the closure is a blessing.
In this day and age marinas are closing, not opening. Anyone who thinks that the addition of a multimillion-dollar marina would finance the proposed park is living in dream world. The marina would be a financial disaster and hence, so would the park.
Here’s a better idea: Instead of building a park at city expense, why doesn’t the city offer the Navy the property back? In 15 years there’s only been proposals. Perhaps if the Navy would take the property back, they could turn the southernmost point of the continental United States back into a naval base with ships based here. The result of this would be a stronger economy for the city and an infrastructure that would include civilian jobs, as well as more construction.
Furthermore, the Navy will take the property back at any time, should they deem it necessary, leaving the city of Key West holding the bag on whatever investment it made. This is exactly why the Navy has specific rules on what can be built there and where it must be located. In the turbulent world we live in, that could easily happen and they could take the property back at the drop of a hat.
Situations are also very different today than they were then. If the city offers the property back to the Navy and they take it, it’s a win-win situation for everyone. With the advent of the recent decisions made by the Navy, in addition to the obstacles they have laid throughout the planning proposals the city has made for the area, my wager is that if the city were to offer the area back to the Navy, with the commitment from the Navy that they would base a specific amount of ships here, they’d take it.
Christopher R. Rehm
I’d rather see a community garden out there. As, I imagine, would a lot of Key West residents, who are tired of eating produce grown in south Florida, California, Mexico, Belize, Central America, which is gassed, shipped long distances, stored in warehouses for who knows how long, before it is on the grocery store shelves in Key West.