You should be able to reach today’s post at goodmorningkeywest.com by clicking on the link above the pic.
March 31st, 2013
You should be able to reach today’s post at goodmorningkeywest.com by clicking on the link above the pic.
March 31st, 2013
depress Ctrl and + keys at same time to increase zoom (font size), depress Ctrl and – keys at same time to reduce zoom
Kay Thacker of Key Largo called yesterday wanting to know if she could send me something to post so she should use the title/link from it to send to bigpinekey.com’s Coconut Telegraph so the readers of that hugely popular Florida Keys website could also see it. I said, sure, send it. I tend to agree with Kay’s side of the argument with the long-winded lawyer of the Key Largo wastewater treatment co-op, but I feel the long-winded lawyer’s discussion of higher education is important, so …
From: O.Kay Thacker [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 3:03 PM
Subject: Ratepayers money spent on staff for education that is not job related
Dear KLWTD Commissioner,
Are the ratepayers of Key Largo am I going to have to pay for educational course for staff that is not job related? It is my understanding that an employee is taking a Nutritional and Music Appreciation classes at the cost of almost $700.00 of ratepayer’s money. How will that add to the education of staff on Wastewater issues, how is that job related with a staff member who already is suppose to have a BA degree, if this is true these classes would have already been taken, am I correct? Are these classes essential to job performance, does the knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience necessary to perform a particular job such as the job our IT Director does?
Do you feel this is being financially responsible with our money? There is a difference between necessities and luxuries. These classes are a luxury not a necessity. What strategies have been placed on how to choose the right mix of securities for KLWTD investing strategy? As a ratepayer I believe you need to be financially responsible and that means living within your means, regardless of the level of those means. Our rates are not a bottomless pit that you can continually keep dipping into, it means also to respect money and make good financial choices. Do we have any laws or acts like the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004 to use as guidelines? I know there was some discussion and criteria set up at one KLWTD meeting concerning education for staff members, but as a ratepayer I strongly oppose spending rates on unrelated job educational programs for staff members. I strongly support educating our staff, but it needs to be job related, making our staff members the best they can be which will pay off for our investment if the employee stays with KLWTD.
I hope to hear from you concerning this lack of being financially responsible with our rate monies.
Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2013 09:59:07 -0400
Subject: My response to Ray Giglio Key Largo Wastewater District Attorney
In your Mar 20, 2013 email with reference to the above-captioned matter, you raised some very important questions with respect to District policies. Those questions, in turn, implicated some absolutely fascinating issues regarding the value of a liberal education. The second topic is one with which I have been intrigued for most of my adult life.
Firstly, I hope the ratepayers will not have a charge for this philosophical discussion you have generated? Will check your submitted bills, (public information request) and I am well within my rights for the request of public information, (been requesting this type of information for years). As stated below in your email “I am more than willing to take the time (my time, not District time) to address the issues”
If she has not done so already, Carol Walker will respond to your records request when she returns on April 4th. However, as these subjects (especially the latter) are of great interest to me and as I am quite fond of you and I value your opinion very highly, I thought I would take the liberty of responding to your email in some detail. I do so as your friend and not just as the lawyer for the KLWTD.
But, I am by nature a philosopher (the word comes from the Greek philos “loving” + sophos “knowledge” and literally means “a lover of knowledge”) and I am by inclination and by training an advocate. So, be forewarned—the purpose of this missive will be to convince you that, to the extent you oppose the District’s policy of encouraging any and all education on the part of its employees (no matter how unrelated it may seem to be to the operation of a wastewater district), you are dead wrong.
I agree to disagree with you, as we have over the years, thank goodness we live in a county that allows me to disagree without being retaliated against or being questioned or being harassed by a government entity or staff member.
Because you are an open-minded person, I think that by the time you finish reading this rather lengthy email you will be convinced of the error of your ways. And, if you are not persuaded, we can continue to argue and debate the issue in the days ahead. What’s more fun than that?
As to our policy, I have reproduced below the section of the KLWTD Employee Handbook that deals with the District’s EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. This is the District’s official written policy on how and when financial assistance is to be provided to employees. I would argue that as the courses about which you raised your concerns are required prerequisites for an Associate of Arts Degree in Computer Science, it was proper—and entirely consistent with both the letter and the spirit of that policy—for the District to approve them.
Thank you, I attended most of the meetings dealing with this subject. As a ratepayer, should we require some vested interest from employee(s) such as not paying for the course (s), books, etc. before a passing grade is acquired. That shows me our Commissioners are being financially responsible to the ratepayers if something like this would be added to KLWTD 3.14 Educational Assistance Program. Hope this issue will be brought forward again on the agenda.
However, I suspect you disagree. You indicated in your email that your concern is that the ratepayers are paying for an, “educational course for staff that is not job related.” That is an interesting comment, because trying to analyze the propriety of the payment for this course vis-à-vis the District’s educational assistance policy is sort of microcosm of the larger issue we are discussing here. What do I mean by that? I mean that this section of the Employee Handbook lays out the District’s policies on educational assistance. It gives us a legal answer to the question of when the District pays for an employee’s education; but it doesn’t answer the question you raised—should the District pay if the course is not “directly related” to an employee’s job.
That in turn raises the overarching question, which is: will the employee’s participation in the course benefit the District. To answer that question, we must determine what “benefit the District” means. The reason I characterize this as a microcosm of the larger issue is that what is needed here is not an answer. What is needed is an understanding of what questions to ask and an understand of those questions. And I would submit, those are precisely the skills one gets from a liberal education.
Nonetheless, I gather from your Mar 20, 2013 email that you feel very strongly that liberal-arts-type courses (such as, in this case, Nutrition and Music Appreciation) do not benefit the District in any way and are a waste of ratepayers’ money.
Ray, I have a Liberal Arts Degree; I know what a Liberal Arts Degree is about or what it entails to obtain one. You assume a lot about me and my understanding or knowledge and you know what happens to a person that assumes? With KLWTD pay scale, why have we not already hired an employee with the required education instead of hiring someone who is not meeting the skills and education the job requires? Did this employee not receive a substantial raise this year and each year he has worked for KLWTD?
I hope you understand that you are, in essence, doubting the value of a liberal arts education. The logical extension of your apparent argument is that engineers should only take engineering courses, lawyers should only take law courses, doctors should only take medical courses, etc.
I could not disagree more. And, I would argue, so do the professional educators who make up the requirements for Liberal Arts degrees. These professional educators, from the time of Aristotle in the third century B.C., have required students to obtain and assimilate information and knowledge from the whole spectrum of human experience. For you to argue that a course in Music Appreciation is not important or appropriate for a student obtaining a liberal arts degree is the equivalent of saying that you know better than the college administrators what students should study and learn. With all due respect, I do not think that you do.
As the beneficiary of (and as a lifelong proponent of) a liberal arts education, I can tell you that there is simply no substitute for being an “educated” person. And to me, being an “educated” person means knowing something about just about everything—including subjects like music appreciation. Music is one of the arts. While history can be defined as the study of what men and women did, Art can be defined as the study of what men and women felt and thought. Art and history are two sides of same coin. If you want to understand the human condition, you must have an understanding of what men and women did and what they thought and felt. That is why a liberal arts education demands the study of subjects in the arts—subjects like music appreciation.
A real (by which I mean liberal arts) education, and the concomitant above-mentioned understanding of human nature that flows from it, is so highly prized that almost all of the highest paid jobs in America require a Liberal Arts degree. That is also why virtually all lawyers have a liberal arts education. Without an understanding of the human condition, you lack perspective. And without perspective, you cannot see the big picture. In this sense, “the big picture” is just another way of saying, wisdom. Wisdom is, and has always been, the goal of education.
For these reasons, I truly believe that there is no substitute for a liberal arts education and the “big picture” knowledge it provides. Furthermore, I would argue that it is absurd to think that that kind of knowledge is not a benefit to an employee of the District, to the District, or to the ratepayers of the District.
I would also point out that a liberal arts education teaches one how to think. The mind is like a muscle; exercise makes it stronger and more able to grasp ideas and do intellectual work. Exercising the mind in one area–whether computer science or nutrition or music appreciation–will strengthen it for learning in other areas as well.
In that vein, it is often not completely understood that thinking has its own grammar, its own orderly structure, and its own set of rules for good use. Many subjects help student to develop an ordered mind, and each subject contributes in a slightly different way. A careful study of computer programming or mathematics or music or logic or good poetry–or all of these–will irresistibly demonstrate the structure of thought and knowledge and intellectual movement, and will create the habit of organized thinking and of rational analysis. Once a person develops good critical thinking habits, he or she will be able to perform better in any job.
Furthermore, good judgment, like wisdom, depends upon a thoughtful and rather extensive acquaintance with many areas of study. Advertisers and politicians rely on a half-educated public, on people who know little outside of their own specialty and who are not capable of critical thought, because such people are easy to deceive with so-called experts, impressive technical or sociological jargon, and an effective set of logical and psychological tricks.
Remember that the more you learn, the more you can learn. Knowledge builds upon knowledge. The more you learn about everything, the easier it becomes to learn anything — because you have more schema to draw upon. Knowledge of many subject areas provides a cross fertilization of ideas, a fullness of mind that produces new ideas and better understanding. The greater the storehouse of your knowledge, and the wider its range, the more creative you will be.
Creativity in its employees is an invaluable asset to any organization–especially a governmental organization. As one armchair philosopher said, “When the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” I for one do not want the public officials with whom I deal to view me and my problems as nails to be hammered down. I doubt that you do either. To prevent that, we should both want those public officials to be clear-thinking individuals who have the creativity to deal with problems on a case-by-case basis. I believe that a liberal arts education creates such individuals. And an organization staffed by such individuals will better serve the public in every respect.
Thus, while liberal arts courses may not teach a KLWTD employee how to install a grinder pump or fix a copy machine, it will teach that employee how to think and think creatively. This benefit alone makes such an education more practical and useful than any job-specific training ever could. I would maintain that an employee so educated will be more valuable to the District.
Think of it this way. Do you want to go to a doctor who believes that knowledge of cell biology, pharmacology and diagnosis will be all-sufficient in her practice. I don’t think so. Such a doctor will help very few patients unless she also realizes that many patients need emotional ministration either in addition to or instead of physical treatment. The doctor who listens and who is educated enough to understand and explain, will be the successful one. A doctor who has studied sociology or literature or music will be wiser person and therefore a better doctor than one who has instead read a few extra medical books.
The District has, since its inception, had a policy of encouraging employees to better themselves through education. I think it is a very good policy that benefits the employees, the District, and the District’s rate payers. I believe that you are wrong to oppose any part of it.
If you knew me instead of assuming you know me, you would know that I believe in education and support education. “Education is a rope that can carry us to greatness”.
However, I must admit, I share your concern about government spending. The Federal Government (which has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends and runs a deficit of approximately a trillion dollars a year) deserves to be criticized for its irresponsible and outrageous government programs. It does not live within its means. Likewise, some states and many municipalities deserve to be criticized for failing to stay within their budgets and/or for giving their employees outrageous benefits which will be an unsustainable burden on future taxpayers. They also fail to live within their means.
Look at the cities going bankrupt, do not want to see our KLWTD because of non questioned spending by the ratepayers and Commissioners going in the direction, do not want to see KLWTD on the trail of un-sustainability. Look at what is happening with police, fire departments, teachers, life time paid for health insurance coverage’s by taxpayers…how much and how long can we continue?
By way of contrast, the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District operates within or below its budget and provides service to its customers at rates which compare quite favorably to the rates of other similarly situated sewer districts. The District has not raised its rates and, in fact, it is always looking for ways to lower the rates. Moreover, the employees of the District have very few benefits compared to other municipal entities and businesses, and the only debt the District has incurred is the cost of the District’s infrastructure.
Why should the district raise its rates? One of the selling points on the contract with Islamorada was to offset our rates and pay our bills off early?
I would argue, therefore, that with respect to the KLWTD it is a mistake to concentrate on minutiae—like the cost of a college course. I think you should look at the bottom line—the rates the residents of the District pay and the District’s overall financial picture. When you do, what you see is an extraordinarily well run and financially sound utility that is being very financially responsible.
Ray, I look at all things that I have time to cover. The $700.00 dollars for 1 employee adds up to thousands of dollars, if several employees take advantage of the educational program within a year that we the ratepayers sustain. What is the district requiring from employees before paying out educational funding? Are we the ratepayer undertaking financing this employee’s entire undergraduate degree?
You may think that we should cut this or eliminate that; but you should be aware that you may be falling into the trap of being “penny wise and pound foolish.” The question of whether the District should pay for a college course or for uniforms or boots, or whatever, is a business decision. Quite often in business it makes sense to look at the big picture and spend a few dollars to incentivize a valued employee to remain at his job. In the long run—and often in the short run as well—that is a very good investment, which results in a net savings.
PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH – “Overcareful about trivial things and undercareful about important ones. You assume I fall into that definition…I do not. A penny adds up to makes dollars.
In fact with regard to the employee in question, I hope you understand that he has literally saved the District hundreds of thousands of dollars by personally developing computer software for the District. Because he customized it to fit the needs of the District, this software better serves our needs than anything that could be purchased on the open market. Moreover, because he created it, he knows how to service and fix it. This same employee also took it upon himself to review and renegotiate the District’s insurance coverage. As a result of his efforts, the District has realized over $100,000 in insurance savings this year. Do you really think it is appropriate to begrudge such an employee a $698.32 reimbursement—a reimbursement to which he is clearly entitled under the District’s written policy? I must say, I do not.
Ray, this is his job and this is what ratepayers pay him to do. I am appreciative of his ability to do his job and am grateful that he is saving. I also do hope there is more than one person who knows how to operate this software he has created and he is not solely the only one who knows the system? An employee that is no longer with KLWTD complained more than 2 years ago, that the IT director was the only one who knew how to work the system and it was not compatible with the system and other employees could not access the data or only certain portions. Is this employee creating an empire that only he can work or access data; is this what our Commissioners are allowing to happen at KLWTD? I understand at the last meeting the accountant was stating the new software program at the cost of $75,000.00 needed to be implemented soon to help alleviate this problem.
Moreover, as this employee is clearly entitled to this reimbursement under the District’s EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, to deny it to him would be, in my opinion, discriminatory. And, as he is clearly entitled to this reimbursement, to even question it is, in my opinion, insulting.
Ray, we the ratepayers have made this entitlement possible and are footing the costs of this entitlement, so please do not feel I am insulting you, the staff member or anyone for that matter. An entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation. A “right” is itself an entitlement associated with a moral or social principle, such that an “entitlement” is a provision made in accordance with legal framework of a society. Typically, entitlements are laws based on concepts of principle (“rights”) which are themselves based in concepts of social equality or enfranchisement In a casual sense, the term “entitlement” refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit—if given without deeper legal or principled cause, the term is often given with pejorative connotation (e.g. a “sense of entitlement”).
I will go one step further; I feel that requiring a valued employee to justify and explain a written benefit, to which he is clearly entitled, is nothing short of harassment.
Do I smell a suit in the air or am I detecting that you as the KLWTD attorney seem to think I am harassing a staff member or the district? To be able to question or request information under public information request is my lawful right.
Now let me be clear, because of my fondness and respect for you, I am more than willing to take the time (my time, not District time) to address the issues you have raised—both in your email and in your public records request. I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your inquiry is legitimate and your goal is to save money.
Thank you. What compelled you in the first place to undertake this issue and email me? My request was to the proper person that handles public information requests, which has always been taken care of and never questioned by any other attorney with the district.
However, I do hope you are aware of the fact that there are those who appear to be using the mechanism of a public records request to their own advantage. This is unbelievably harmful to the interests of the District and to its ratepayers. That is because, especially with respect to public records requests, there is a cost to the District which may actually far exceed the amount that is the ostensible subject of the inquiry.
Ray, what may appear to you as me or others using the mechanism of public information request to one’s own advantage is not up to you to explore or presume my or others intentions. The legislatures I believe if I am correct are trying to make public requests even more open.
For example, in an effort to save the ratepayers of the District money and to lower our debt, we (and in particular Margaret) have been working tirelessly over the last year to secure promised funds from the State. These funds amount to some 20 million dollars for this year and close to 50 million dollars in total. This money is vital to the District and without it, there is very little likelihood that we will ever be able to lower rates. After the preparation of required agreements, countless hours of negotiating and lobbying, preparation of vast columns of figures, innumerable telephone calls, and attendance at many, many, meetings, we are at a critical point in the quest to get this money.
Again, this is part of the job we are paying for. I also am pleased that Ms. Margaret is pursuing this avenue, and I think she thoroughly enjoys this aspect of the job; it is some of the same things she dealt with under Fishburn, so nothing new for her, part of her job. Countless others have over the years also had the same goals to get some of the money we pay out to State, Federal, and County…back to our local KLWTD, Charlie Brooks for one. Ms. Carol has been very helpful in the past of getting this requested information to me without complaining and in a timely manner.
But instead of working on this 20 million dollar grant, we are required to spend time explaining and justifying a $700 expense to certain people who are using the public records law as a mechanism to intentionally harass the District in general and one employee in particular. That is just wrong. I hope that this offends you as much as it does me. Because I know that you have an acute sense of right and wrong—I bet it does.
Explaining and justifying an expense is part of the job. Again emphasizing I am not harassing any one person or position, nor am I singling out one employee, this was on the agenda and I as a ratepayer asks questions which helps to legitimize KLWTD actions. Are you suggesting I do not have that right and it is wrong of me to ask these questions? I find these statements you made to be offensive, unpleasant and unconstitutional. Thank goodness we live in a Sunshine Law State that respects the rights of the taxpayers and ratepayers, and do not take the attitude; ratepayer’s requests or questions regarding how our rates are spent are odious or obnoxious. Should your email to me be considered harassing or badgering a ratepayer? Should some of the remarks and outbursts made by the staff member at public meeting to his employer (the ratepayer) be considered harassment or insubordination?
In any case, I hope I have convinced you of the error of your ways and that this email finds you healthy, happy and well.
Should our elected Commissioners and staff try identifying with three core functions; linking citizens to government, legitimizing government actions and making decisions?
Thank you; also thanks for wishing me healthy, happy and wellness, the same to you and your family.
I also am copying each Commissioners, Governor Scott along with my email list. Maybe other ratepayers think along the same lines as I do.
Kindest personal regards,
Ray Giglio General Counsel
Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District 98880 Overseas Hwy – PO Box 491 Key Largo, FL 33037 (305) 340-9198 email@example.com
P.S. I am copying each KLWTD Commissioner by “Bcc” so that if one Commissioner replies directly from my email, he does not inadvertently copy his fellow commissioners.
From the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District’s
3.14 EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The District has adopted an employee educational assistance program, as follows:
1. This program is open to all employees.
2. A District employee may request that the District provide financial assistance, including the cost of books, equipment, fees, supplies, and tuition for education and training that the employee believes will assist him or her in performing employment duties.
3. The request must include a written course outline and statement of the course objectives set by the course provider, a brief written statement of the benefit to the District expected to result from the employee’s successful completion of the course, and a listing of the costs to be paid by the District. The employee must submit the request to his or her supervisor.
4. The District will, in its discretion, approve a request for educational assistance if the District determines that participation in the course will benefit the District and that the cost to the District is reasonable and within the District’s budget. The District may limit the amount of educational assistance to an amount that is less than the full cost, and may impose conditions on the approval, including without limitation that course attendance will be during the employee’s personal time, as opposed to work time. The District normally will not pay the employee’s travel and subsistence costs in connection with course attendance unless the District determines that the benefit to the District as a result of the employee’s completion of the course will be substantial, or unless the District requires the employee to attend the course.
5. District educational assistance is not taxable income to the employee.
6. An employee may not choose to receive cash or other benefits that must be included in gross income instead of educational assistance.
7. If the educational assistance is in furtherance of a college degree or a professional license, the District may condition the assistance on the employee’s agreement to repay the assistance if the employee voluntarily leaves District employment within two years after receiving the assistance.
Today’s frolic rumbled up out of Key West, and you should be able to get there at goodmorningkeywest.com by clicking on the link above the pic:
March 29th, 2013
Today’s focus is Key West goings on, so click on the link above the pics to get to the post at goodmorningkeywest.com.
depress Ctrl and + keys at same time to increase zoom (font size), depress Ctrl and – keys at same time to reduce zoom
There is a somewhat related special places in hell – Key West post today at goodmorningkeywest.com.
Meanwhile, above vs. proposed.
Pics furnished by Dottie Moses, chairman of the environmental protection committee of the Island of Key Largo Federation of Homeowner Associations (IKLFHA), as was the timeline spreadsheet, which took a lot of work to put together.
As you read Dottie’s recounting of events, notice how devious the developer and its lobbyist Sandra Walters are. Notice Walters’ conflict of interest. And notice how many similar seagrass rapes will follow this one, if it is allowed by the County Commission. For once that door is opened similarly situated property owners will be entitled to the same equal protection under the law treatment, failing which, they will be able to bring takings lawsuits against the County for the loss in value this seagrass rape scheme had created for their waterfront property.
Click on the play button > at the bottom left of the screen and NOT the VIEW FULL PROGRAM unless you want to watch the whole Planning Commission meeting.
Little Conch Key Development Corp Comprehensive Plan Amendment:
“To amend the text of Monroe County 2010 Comprehensive Plan…for the
re-dredging of privately-owned submerged lands for navigational access”
|Feb 2006||Walker Island ,LLC purchases property|
|Jan 2007||Monroe County/DEP/ACOE Permit approved for dock repair- expansion (100’X15’) & riprap repair with back fill even though there is no navigational access to the dock and Little Conch Key is a designated sea turtle nesting beach.|
|October 2007||Transfer of ownership through corporation only. Same owners but now called Little Conch Key Development Corp.|
|November 13, 2007||Monroe County issues permits to LKCDC to build houses on island.|
|2007??||Applied for dredge ERP permit with DEP|
|June 13, 2008||DEP transfers ERP permit to SFWMD because a “major modification”. SFWMD does not recognize this permit request as a maintenance dredge.|
|July 2, 2008||DCA sends Letter of objection to issuance of ERP permit by SFWMD because County comp plan calls for the protection of marine resources, including seagrasses, and does not permit maintenance dredging within areas vegetated with seagrass beds.|
|February 24, 2010||Planning Commission meeting hears a variance request from Little Conch Key Dev Corp. (unrelated to the dredging permit). LCKDC has encroached on the neighbors side set back and now wants an after the fact permit claiming hardship.|
|April 6, 2010||Public meetings begin for 2010-2030 Comprehensive Plan Update . This ongoing process is being overseen by a project consultant team led by Keith and Schnars, P.A. They base their updates on public comments submitted during the Evaluation and Appraisal Report(EAR) process which involves extensive public input to identify critical local issues that the plan update will need to address. They were never advised of this private applicant’s comp plan amendment nor did anyone in the public ask for an amendment to allow dredging or address prop scarring.|
|April 12, 2010||Little Conch Key Dev Corp via SWC applies for a text amendment change of the Comprehensive Plan and introduces the word “re-dredge” as a new category for dredging. The area was dredged in the 1950s and since abandoned and it no longer qualifies as a maintenance dredge. It is now a seagrass meadow with an average depth of 1.5 ft and habitat for fish, sea turtles and other sanctuary wildlife. The proposed channel to be dredged is 700 ft long, 33 ft wide and 4.5 feet deep.|
|October 13, 2010||Telephone conference call with Monroe County staff, FKNMS, Village of Islamorada, City of Marathon, ACOE, NMFS, FWC, & DCA.|
|December 20, 2011||DEO sends letter of objection to issuance of ERP permit by SFWMD because County comp plan prohibits dredging in areas colonized by seagrasses except for public navigational channels.|
|From Oct 2010 – November 2013||Multiple emails and phone calls between agencies listed above.|
|April 16, 2012||Little Conch Key Dev Corp via SWC submits revised comp plan application|
|July 4, 2012||While this application was being reviewed Florida House Bill 503 goes into effect which does not allow the County to require a state or federal permit prior to issuance of a county permit.|
|September 25, 2012||Development Review Committee (DRC) hears Little Conch Key Development Corp Comp Plan Amendment, and recommends approval to the Planning Commission.|
|November 14, 2012||Planning Commission hears comp plan amendment and with the Monroe County planning staff recommending approval votes 4-1 approval. County staff reports that this comp plan amendment would establish a procedure for others to dredge and there could be as many as 200 who would qualify. Sandra Walters contacts each commissioner prior to meeting. (First time the public becomes aware of dredging law change). Several people from the public speak out against the project. Representatives from the marine construction industry support it.|
|Jan 2, 2013||Public requests an opportunity for more input so applicant advertises a Public Meeting in newspaper for Jan 17, 2013 and NEVER mentions dredging but describes the comp plan amendment as a seagrass protection amendment and maintenance of a channel in newspaper announcement|
|Jan 17, 2013||Public meeting held at the government center in Marathon. Only 2 people from the public attend and leave early. Consultant speaks for 30 minutes before mentioning the word dredge. Presents amendment as a seagrass restoration project .|
|Feb 20, 2013||The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s Water Quality Protection Program Steering Committee (WQPP) holds their bi-annual meeting. On the agenda is “Limited Dredging Activities in the Sanctuary”. Two papers are submitted objecting to the amendment and several research biologists speak out against the project. The only one who speaks in support is the consultant (Sandra Walters) who sits on the board of the WQPP.|
|Feb 28, 2013||A second Public Meeting is held. This time the advertised announcement uses the word “re-dredge”. About 8 people from the public attend. No one from the public speaks in support. Several speak in opposition.|
|April 18, 2013||Board of County Commissioners to hear the comp plan amendment and vote for transmittal to the DEO for review.|
United States Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for investigating, developing and maintaining the nation’s water and related environmental resources. The Corps evaluates permit applications for essentially all construction activities that occur in the nation’s waters, including wetlands.
Area of Critical State Concern The Florida Keys Area is a statutorily designated area of critical state concern to protect resources and public facilities of major statewide significance. To protect shoreline and marine resources, including mangroves, coral reef formations, seagrass beds, wetlands, fish and wildlife, and their habitat. To protect upland resources, tropical biological communities, freshwater wetlands, native tropical vegetation (for example, hardwood hammocks and pinelands), dune ridges and beaches, wildlife, and their habitat. To enhance natural scenic resources, promote the aesthetic benefits of the natural environment, and ensure that development is compatible with the unique historic character of the Florida Keys.
BOCC Monroe County Board of County Commissioners (Duties of the BOCC include: To adopt and amend the official land use development map and existing conditions map after recommendation by the planning commission; and To hear, review and adopt amendments to the text of these regulations after recommendation by the planning commission)
Comp Plan Monroe County Comprehensive Land Use Plan (The adopted Comprehensive Land Use Plan guides long –term future growth and community development. The Comprehensive Plan contains elements that address future land use, housing, transportation, infrastructure, coastal management, conservation, recreation and open space, intergovernmental coordination, and capital improvements.)
Comprehensive Land Use Plan Update In 2010, Monroe County embarked on a major undertaking to update the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and plan for the next 20 years. The updated Comprehensive Plan will provide the roadway for how the County will address growth issues for the next twenty years. The 2010 – 2030 Comprehensive Plan Update is an undertaking that will rely heavily upon public participation throughout the nearly four-year process.
DCA Florida Department of Community Affairs (oversees Monroe County’s status as an Area of Critical State Concern) renamed DEO on October 1, 2011 (issues permits for counties to change their growth plans, based on availability of public resources such as water, roads, schools and drainage canals.)
DEO Florida Department of Economic Opportunity The department reviews all local development projects within the designated areas and may appeal to the Administration Commission any local development orders that are inconsistent with state guidelines. The department also is responsible for reviewing and approving amendments to comprehensive plans and land development regulations proposed by local governments within the designated areas.
DEP Florida Department of Environmental Protection
DRC Monroe County Development Review Committee Reviews all applications for development approval and reports recommendations to the Planning Commission, Planning Director and the Board of County Commissioners.
ERP Environmental Resource Permit issued by DEP or SFWMD (An ERP is required before beginning any construction activity that would affect wetlands, alter surface water flows, or contribute to water pollution.)
FKNMS Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (a marine protected area, administered by NOAA, a federal agency, and jointly managed with the State of Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission(FWC) enforces sanctuary regulations in partnership with sanctuary managers and the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.
FWC Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (their mission is to manage fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people by providing, law enforcement, research, management and outreach.
LCKDC Little Conch Key Development Corp.
Little Conch Key
Little Conch Key is an island in Monroe County, Florida, United States. It is located in the middle Florida Keys. U.S. 1 (the Overseas Highway) crosses the key at approximately mile marker 62.2, between Duck Key and Conch Key. Little Conch Key is also known as Walker’s Island.
Monroe County Planning Commission Powers and duties of the Planning Commission include preparing or cause to be prepared a comprehensive plan or element thereof and to submit to the board of county commissioners an annual report recommending amendments to such plan.
NMFS NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is the federal agency, a division of the Department of Commerce, responsible for the stewardship of the nation’s living marine resources and their habitat.
NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA is a federal agency that enriches life through science with cutting-edge research and high-tech instrumentation to provide citizens, planners, emergency managers and other decision makers with reliable information they need when they need it,from daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce.
SFWMD South Florida Water Management District (the agency is responsible for managing and protecting water resources of South Florida by balancing and improving water quality, flood control, natural systems and water supply.)
SWC Sandra Walters Consultants, Inc (a private consulting company who facilitates permitting of wetlands among other services)
WQPP Water Quality Protection Program (Administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the States of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The program is designed to make recommendations on how to maintain and restore the ideal water quality needed for healthy native plant and animal populations to thrive in sanctuary waters.)
I cannot imagine what the County Planner, the Development Review Committee and the four Planning Commissioners who voted in favor of this rape scheme were thinking. Had they not had their fill of takings lawsuits? Or, did they mean to open the door for another 200 or so similar sea grass rapes? Maybe that latter question is facetious. Maybe the County Commission needs to explain once again who all those underlings work for – the Monroe County Government and its taxpayers. All of its taxpayers, not just the developers and their lobbyists. Once again I say the County should charge developers the actual costs to the County and its taxpayers of the County processing developers’ requests for Comprehensive Plan changes. Right now, the County is only charging developers a small percentage of the total cost to the County and its taxpayers.
As all who read the Citizen this morning know (and many knew before) it was on March 25, 1822 that Commodore Matthew Perry sailed his schooner the U.S.S. Shark to Key West, physically claiming the Keys as United States property. Please applaud me for not using the name of his schooner to segue into a lawyer joke. But an event of at least equal historical significance happened on this date 206 years ago. On March 25, 1807 the King of England signed the bill abolishing the slave trade in England. That feat (and feat it was because GB was then economically dependent on the slave trade) was accomplished after twenty plus years of effort by a group of activists led by William Wilberforce, who is one of my great heroes (And a hero of most modern day abolitionists: indeed, the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act is also officially known as the William Wilberforce Act.) I first learned about the heroic efforts of Wilberforce through the 2007 movie “Amazing Grace” (released in connection with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in GB). It was that movie that inspired my interest in modern day abolition, having watched a story on Dateline NBC about the forced prostitution of minors in third world countries. But it was not until 2011 that I discovered that human trafficking and even child sex slavery exists in our own country. The best estimate is that every year close to 100,000 children in the U.S. are sexually exploited for the commercial gain of others. This situation is intolerable and must be stopped. A few of my favorite quotes from William Wilberforce: “
You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
His closing to a speech in the House of Commons, 1791. That statement now applies to all of us. We know the horrors of modern day slavery. The question is: What are you prepared to do to fight it?
“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.”
It is hard to even think about the horrors inflicted on young girls forced into prostitution, at an average age of only thirteen. That is why I, and the other leaders and members of the Keys Coalition, are incurable fanatics in the fight to keep child sex trafficking out of the Keys. (I do not name the others lest I forget the many from Key Largo to Key West who are working to fight this evil.) We invite you too to become an “incurable fanatic” and join us (and thousands of others throughout the country) in our fight against the unspeakable evils of modern day slavery.
A final Wilberforce quote that applies with equal force to modern day slavery:
“So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the Trade’s wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for Abolition. Let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.”
Tim Gratz On behalf of the leaders and members of Keys Coalition
Hi, Tim – Slavery was legal, in plain view, and abolishing it legally and enforcing the abolishment, although a political battle, once accomplished was far different from abolishing and keeping abolished prostitution, sex trafficking, etc. I simply see no way to make even a dent in it from a law enforcement prospective, no more than I see any way to stop Columbine/Sandy Hook events, no more than I see any way to shut down the sex magnet attractions on Duval Street. Looks to me that you and Connie should focus on local education prevention, and local help hotline and safe houses for kids at risk to sex trafficking in the Keys. The global approach you continue to send out does not reach me. Sloan
1) I think truly draconian penalties directed at the “johns” would help make a dent. Incarcerate one pimp and another will take his place. Decreasing demand would help. I mean anyone who buys sex from a minor is committing statutory rape. Also putting convicted buyers on the list of registered sex offenders would also help. 2) Totally agree that making something illegal is an entirely different issue than stopping an illegal activity. 3) Education of students will indeed be our focus. See forwarded e-mail to follow.
Then, Tim sent this, the attachment was very long and in a format difficult to copy and paste into this post:
We are bringing the man behind this program to the Keys next January. He is prepared to address each Key West high school on January 12th.
He is very much interested in raising awareness among high school youth.
Interest to his presentation is added by the fact that he is a direct descendant of Frederick Douglass.
Thanks, Sloan, for your counsel which we value.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: Wow! Look at this. It is hugely important Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2013 10:58:09 -0700
This is very important. If NYC can do it, so should Monroe County, and Orlando, and . . . Thanks Tim Gratz
Draconian penalties do not seem to have much prevention effect on murder, rape, narcotics trafficking. The war on drugs was a huge waste of money. Even if ten times as many DEA agents had been hired and trained and put into the field, the result would have been about the same. Do you really think it would turn out any differently, if the same effort and expense used to try to stop drug trafficking was devoted to trying to stop sex trafficking? Hell, the city where you and Connie live apparently loves sex trafficking, given what goes on day and night on Duval Street.
depress Ctrl and + keys at same time to increase zoom (font size), depress Ctrl and – keys at same time to reduce zoom
Last night, I heard in my sleep, “the Kingdom of Heaven.” Later, I dreamt of a large modern school where I would teach; I heard, “Adams School”. I awoke briefly, thought to myself that probably was “Adam’s”, as in Adam and Eve; a school for men in the Kingdom of Heaven sense. Later, I heard in my sleep, “You have full authority.” By then it was dawn, sleeping was finished.
Although I am tempted to blame all of what follows, which I will write without much forethought, on my dream maker, aka known as the angels who run me, and while ultimately they are to blame, I have known since the fall of 1998 that I was enrolled in what was explained to me and a very good man friend by said angels, as the Adam part of Paradise Training. My good friend found the Training rougher than he liked, and he is no longer among the living. Many times, like nearly every day, I wish he had taken me with him.
I know very well that my using Biblical terminology, for a variety of reasons, will turn off most men, and most women, who left, or never were part of, the Bible “theory” of human spiritual evolution. I also know very well that what I have to say about Adam Training, for a variety of reasons, will turn off most men, and most women, who remain in the Bible “theory” of human spiritual evolution.
That cannot be helped; language familiar to men and women has to be used, and in America the most familiar language is the Bible language. Also, there is enough literal truth in the Bible to justify using its language, even though much of the deep truth is encoded, shrouded in mystery. People who read the Bible literally, only as an outward experience, miss most of the meaning. People who react against the use of names and events in the Bible are just as lost as people who read the Bible literally and outwardly.
In Genesis, it is said that God made Adam and Eve leave the Garden, and God placed two Cherubim holding swords of fire around the Tree of Life to protect its ways. Thus began what is known as The Fall, which was Adam and Eve being separated from God in the spiritual as well as the physical sense. However, it is not said in Genesis that Adam and Eve cannot return to the Tree of Life and the Garden. That return is Paradise Training.
With five different Eve candidates selected for me by the angels who run me, whom I call Jesus, Michael and Melchizedek-Magdalene, I attempted the Adam and Eve Paradise Return. The Return required us to pass repeatedly through those two cherubim’s fire swords, which were red hot in the spirit sense; purifying hot, holy fire hot; no darn fun hot, for to be allowed into Paradise we first had to be purified. We were given tastes of the Paradise energy to encourage us to want to persevere, but we were not allowed in as a couple, hand in hand, until we were purified, which did not happen in any of the five coupled attempts. The heat was too great, we were unable to stay together, hand in hand.
The third of these women, a devout Christian, eventually told me that God had told her in her sleep that she was not “the one”, and after that we were broken up by the angels who had put us together. During that painful winding down, she told me that God had told her in her sleep that, “Adam must anchor into God for both Adam and Eve, and let God discipline Eve.” I was not happy to hear that because she had been all over the place, and it had not seemed to me that she was getting a whole lot if discipline imposed on her from without and within, and it seemed to me that I was getting a whole lot of discipline imposed on me from without and within.
Even so, I came away from that marriage made in heaven, which was not anything like any previous marriage, knowing that I had to do my best to hold true to the Paradise Training regardless of what any Eve candidate I later might be put with did. Which meant, I had to endure being used by the angels to punch every last one of any later Eve candidate’s buttons, and then endure the ensuing internal and external hell in my body, emotions, mind, soul and life for so long as I was held by the angels in the marriage made in heaven.
Parallel was an entirely separate Paradise Return body of work, which was provided by the rest of my life apart from any Eve candidate I was with. Which was, I had to endure being used by the angels to punch every last one of the buttons of people I was given to engage as part of my own Paradise Training, and then endure the ensuing hell in my body, emotions, mind, soul and life for so long as I was held by the angels in those engagements. After I was sent to the Florida Keys in late 2000, most of the engagements in the separate Paradise Return body of work were in the local political arena, although there still were plenty of fiery engagements with people not involved in local politics.
It was explained to me many times, that this was the fastest way for me to develop spiritually on this world. It was explained to me many times, that I was not to concern myself with how other people responded to what I said to or did with them; I was to concern myself with sticking to my training and following my spirit guidance,regardless of how I felt about going along with it. I understood the other people were being offered a different way of responding to and living life, and I understood there would be little interest in moving into that other way, and I would be very lonely in that endeavor unless I was with an Eve candidate.
The fourth Eve candidate, furnished shortly after the third one told me Adam had to anchor into God for both Adam and Eve, was not raised in a church setting; she had spiritually evolved on her own. She told me that she was told in her sleep, by the same angels named above, that “All women on this world are in a rabid war with God, and that war is the cause of all wars on this world, including all man made wars.” She then was told, she said, that she was to write a letter stating that, and to send that letter to all of her women friends, which she did. That effectively severed all but one of those friendships, and then she and I were cut out of everything familiar and sent out of the country where we did stuff internally, and between us, and with the angels, and with other people who were put in front of us, until the heat became more than we could bear after we reached and were on Maui for a while.
Knowing it was over, not knowing what was coming next, I heard as I awoke one morning, “Go to Big Pine Key.” I said back, I liked Big Pine Key, but I had no money. Three days later, I was in the air, headed for Los Angeles. I stayed there for a week with my man friend, who was in the Paradise Training, which was burning him up. Especially, being with his Eve candidate was burning him up.
Born and raised Jewish, he had migrated away from there deeply into the New Age, Yoga, Taoism, meditation, raw foods and wheat grass juice. Then, he had agreed to being taught by Jesus and Michael. Then, he had gotten his view of everything rearranged, still underway during my visit with him and his Eve candidate and his daughter. By then, his first wife and mother of their daughter had died. He had ministered ongoing to her, her boyfriend and all of their friends, and had taken care of his daughter, until the heart wrenching end.
He put me on a Greyhound bus with a ticket to Key West and a few dollars for food en route.
When the bus reached the outskirts of Tallahassee, I dozed off, and the federal judge for whom I had clerked after I graduated from law school came to me in a dream and said he was thinking about getting into politics. I replied that I didn’t care for the idea, but knowing him, I figured that was what he was going to do. I awoke in shock. I hated politics. Yet, from behind the scenes he had run the Democratic Party in Alabama; no Democrat ran for state or national office in Alabama without first seeking his blessing. I knew I was headed to the Keys, to get into politics. When the bus reached Big Pine Key, I was told to stay on the bus and go to Key West, to live on the street there.
I now have run seven times for local office; three times for Key West Mayor, three times for County Commission, one time for School Board. As a result, I have become pretty well known in the Keys. As a result of my blaming it all on God and angels, I have become generally viewed as crazy and/or an ego maniac and/or possessed by the devil. However, there seem to be men and women in the Keys, who like me being here, doing what I do, even though they prefer not being turned into collateral damage as a result of knowing me. There also are a few men and women in the Keys, who don’t seem to mind being turned into collateral damage.
www.goodmorningkeywest.com, the oldest of my three websites, has 2,070 separate “articles” about my own Adam Training. www.goodmorningfloridakeys.com, the second oldest website by about six months, has many of those same “articles”, as well as quite a few different articles, about my own Adam Training. www.goodmorningbirmingham, com, a much newer website, has its own articles about my Adam Training.
Adam Training covers a lot of terrain on this world and in spirit. Adam Training stretches Adam candidates to their limits. Adam Training is totally outside the box, totally outside mainstream, a road seldom traveled. Adam Training is of this world and not of it; the two are inseparable in Adam training.
Eve Training is similar to Adam Training, except it is tailored to Eve candidates and their grave difficulty being on this world which holds so little esteem for the feminine. Eve Training is far harder for women than Adam Training is for men. If the Gospels are read correctly, the main show there is the Paradise Return attempted by Jesus and Mary Magdalene. However, the Gospels are traditionally read to only see the Paradise Return by Jesus alone. Quel dommage!
Now I suppose I know why I felt so lousy yesterday and last night; this above was coming in. A recent example of my own Adam Training can be seen at this link – some not well known stuff about mystics and people they encounter – at goodmorningbirmingham.com.
Yes, there is a similar Paradise Return Training for gay people, modified for them.
|From:||naja girard (firstname.lastname@example.org) This sender is in your contact list.|
|Sent:||Sat 3/23/13 7:45 PM|
|To:||Sloan Bashinsky (email@example.com)|
In the last week, I have received a great deal of correspondence and questions from Monroe County residents concerning HB531, a bill sponsored by Rep. [Jimmy] Patronis, [R-Panama City], regarding ad valorem taxation of military housing. I can appreciate the concerns presented and would like to take this opportunity to clarify some of the issues involved.
Key West city officials recently were notified that a couple of cruise ships are sailing away with no intent of returning — at least not for the foreseeable future.
Carnival Cruise Lines changed the itinerary of two of its ships, the Fascination and Ecstasy, sending them to a private island in the Bahamas owned by Royal Caribbean Ltd.; thus terminating most of their visits to Key West.
Carnival executives say it’s strictly a business decision.
Maybe considerably more fascination and ecstasy around a still mostly unspoiled Bahamian island with beautiful white sand natural beaches, than paved over Key West with small unnatural beaches covered with imported crushed coral sand facsimile nowhere close to where cruise ship passengers are dumped onto lower Duval Street.
Key West city spokeswoman Alyson Crean attempted to make the best of Carnival’s unexpected decision by essentially stating that the city has become accustomed to the ebb and flow of the cruise ship industry’s port changes, whether it be a business decision or weather-related. Crean pointed out that the city conservatively budgets the anticipated revenue, or disembarkation fees, from cruise ships and she downplayed the impact on the city’s budget of Carnival’s decision.
Tell that to City Commissioner Mark Rossi, whose Duval Street sin businesses enjoy cruise ship passenger patronage. Tell that to all the dirty T-shirt shops on Duval Street, who heavily depend on cruise ship passenger patronage. Tell that to the other bar, restaurant and shop owners on Duval Street. Tell that to the owners of the conch trains and trolleys. Tell that to the historic museum owners, curators.
To place this into perspective, according to the city’s Port Operations Office, 813,713 passengers arrived by cruise ships last year. That’s a 24 percent decline from the peak of 1,067,222 passengers reported in 2003.
A good trend, may it continue.
These statistics are counter to the fact that the cruise ship industry is the fastest-growing segment of the tourism industry and the Caribbean continues to rank as the dominant cruise destination.
We believe it is insufficient to simply accept Carnival’s “business decision” without examining trends in the cruise ship industry and their implication to the tourism industry in Key West.
The cruise industry specializes in mobilizing its assets — meaning ships — to maximize profits. This is often at the expense of communities that have made enhancements to satisfy cruise ship company objectives. Just ask city officials of Mobile, Ala.
In 2011, Carnival pulled out of Mobile without warning because Carnival’s change to a larger ship made the port unprofitable. Carnival’s departure left the city of Mobile to deal with gallons of red ink in debt service on a $20 million cruise embarkation terminal it built to service Carnival — and Mobile lost about 125 jobs.
Having been to Mobile more than a few times, I cannot imagine why any cruise ship company would consider making Mobile a port of call. Why not make Tampa a port of call? Or Jacksonville? Or, hmmm, Havana?
A closer analysis of Carnival’s decision to divert two ships from Key West reveals that there are six private islands in the Bahamas and Caribbean owned or leased by cruise corporations. The private island concept is a decades-long trend in the cruise industry. It’s part of a business management strategy known as vertical integration of the supply chain, or simply stated, as maximizing profits by owning all aspects of an island visit.
Natural beauty had nothing to do with it, of course. Nor, of course, did the impending channel-widening referendum in Key West. One might ask, what better way for Carnival to try to influence the outcome of the referendum in favor of channel widening, than to pull two cruise ships out of Key West?
New, larger cruise ships are coupled with private islands that include amenities such as a sandy beach, private cabanas, watersports, live music, bars and restaurants and — you guessed it — souvenir and T-shirt shops.
Wow. Key West started a trend.
Passengers consistently give these private islands high ratings as they provide a safe, clean and controlled “island” experience without the crowds created by multiple ships visiting, such as is experienced in port towns like Key West.
With the profits from owning all aspects of a private island’s tourist attractions, and no payment of disembarkation fees to a government or private pier, no wonder a cruise ship company executive would ask the question: Who needs Key West?
If the cruise ship companies don’t need Key West, then why are they lobbying for a wider, deeper channel there? Let’s hope they get their two heads unified and they all go to the Bahamas, and, hmmm, to Havana.
But haven’t we really known this for a while?
The reality is that cruise ship corporations simply act in their own self-interest and do not have a vested interest in the long-term viability of Key West’s tourism industry or the quality of its citizens lives. With every cruise ship deployment decision, it is becoming abundantly clear that cruise companies will go where it’s most convenient and profitable to the corporation’s financial goals.
Are cruise ships any different, in that respect, from any Duval Street merchant, or the local conch train and trolley companies?
Key West voters will soon decide via a referendum whether to order a feasibility study on the proposed widening the harbor to better accommodate larger cruise ships.
But they should keep in mind that cruise ship corporations are not contributing to the cost of the proposed $3 million study, and are unlikely to contribute toward the estimated $36 million it would take to dredge the channel.
Their loyalties are to their stockholders, not their destinations.
As folks in Mobile might say, taxpayers can invest millions in cruise ships, but that investment doesn’t necessarily guarantee loyalty.
– The Citizen
Facing the possibility of no more future building allocations for the Florida Keys, Monroe County officials have begun to discuss adding another penny of sales tax and increasing hotel bed tax in order to buy private land from owners denied the right to develop.
County Growth Management Director Christine Hurley presented several different funding proposals to the County Commission on Wednesday.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet agreed earlier this month to a plan that would give the Keys 3,555 state-issued Rate of Growth Ordinance (ROGO) units over the next 10 years. The units are needed to develop vacant properties.
Under the plan, the county will receive 197 ROGO units a year; Key West will receive 91; Islamorada, 28; Marathon, 30; Layton, three; and Key Colony Beach, six, according to Hurley.
But when those units run out, the Keys could reach “build-out,” Hurley told the commissioners Wednesday. The state could stop doling out ROGO units.
The odds of that happening are zero minus. Development has always trumped Mother Nature and the hurricane evacuation schedule in the Keys.
The concern is that local governments will have to buy vacant land or face expensive “takings” lawsuits, in which owners contend their right to develop has been “taken” by government.
There are 7,814 vacant properties in the Keys, which would cost $317 million to purchase, Hurley said. She and County Attorney Bob Shillinger admitted that not all of those property owners would sue.
“There could be a fight between the state and the county over who writes the check (for the lawsuits),” Shillinger said. “We are looking at a lot of different options and having discussions sooner rather than later.”
The only committed funding for purchasing conservation land is provided through a half-penny of hotel bed tax and a state park surcharge, which generates $1.6 million a year, Hurley said.
That funding source alone is not sufficient to meet the county’s future land acquisition needs, she said.
She noted that, all things staying the same, it would take about 272 years to purchase the remaining inventory of private land
The county could buy such land more quickly if the hotel bed tax or local sales tax were increased, which would take a local referendum and state Legislature approval, Hurley said.
Hiking the bed tax by 0.5 percent would yield an additional $2.8 million a year, she said. That purportedly would allow the Land Authority to acquire the remaining 7,814 parcels within 80 years.
Somebody please explain to me how the bed tax (lodging industry) has anything to do with building homes on vacant lots?
The county and Keys cities could add an additional 1 penny of sales tax to its tax rolls, generating an additional $27.5 million that would allow the purchase of the 7,814 parcels within 11 years, Hurley said.
That makes more sense.
Or, she said, instead of increasing taxes, the county could just ask the state Division of State Lands “to aggressively acquire vacant, privately owned land.”
Fat chance Tallahassee going along with that.
The Keys could also reduce the current ROGO allocation rate, thereby extending the time frame.
Which, yes?, would increase risk, likelihood, of new takings lawsuits.
“We want to have this discussion now and bring this before the public,” Hurley told The Citizen.
The county has been plagued by takings lawsuits in recent years and is currently embroiled in seven high-profile cases.
In one case involving Galleon Bay, the county spent $857,000 defending the lawsuit, which dated back to 2002. The court ruled against the county late last year, saying it did illegally “take” the Galleon Bay property by not allowing owners to develop a major residential project on the No Name Key parcel. The county faces a $5 million judgment in that case.
In its second Friday edition, The Blue Paper (Key West the Newspaper) – www.thebluepaper.com – knocks the lights out again. I feel like an amateur compared to Naja and Arnaud Girard’s investigative reporting, and Arnaud’s Technicolor editorial cartoons are a piercing howl. Yesterday’s edition strips naked as jay birds Balfour-Beatty, State Legislator Holly Raschein and bribed state legislators determined to give Balfour-Beatty a free tax ride the US Government is not giving Balfour-Beatty. Then comes a really joyful praise report on the North Roosevelt Boulevard redo, which might cause great relief and jubilation in a parallel universe, but not in Key West. Then comes a deliciously ruthless expose of what really is going on in producing the “green living” water Keys people receive from the mainland, and what sure looks to me like a heap of not unexpected double talk from Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and, not even reading between the lines, the development community. Again, www.thebluepaper.com. Bon aperitif! Bring lots of Rolaids.
While on the subject of WATER and real investigative journalism, a Steve Estes show stopper editorial from the News-Barometer on Big Pine Key. Apologies to Steve, my word processor lost the paragraph formatting.
Fri 3/22/13 2:59 PM
Monroe County is being called the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the coastal United State when it comes to the effects of global climate change and eventual sea level rise inundation. It’s an apt description. If sea level rises just to the minimum of the published expectations, some 12 percent of the land currently above water in the Florida Keys would be either under water or part of an unusable wetland. If the more moderate projections are real, closer to 25 percent of the coastal areas of the Keys could be suffering from sea level inundation in the next 30 years. In other words, we have a problem folks. So it’s a pretty good idea that our elected leadership is taking sea level rise seriously and is working on a climate change action plan that will eventually be rolled into the county’s comprehensive land use plan. The plan is somewhat devoid of details at the moment, instead approaching the issues with a more broad-brush approach, attempting to lay the foundation for future decisions that can nail down the details. Just the fact that our leadership understands there is an issue and stays away from the denial mentality that permeates too much of the national and state discussion is a good thing for us. Many of us won’t live to worry about how high the sea rises. But our children and grandchildren will have to deal with the situation. One of the primary causes, according to the science, is greenhouse gas emissions. The plan calls for a reduction of those gasses. One of the issues discussed is for a greater efficiency in the delivery of electrical power. The thought process is that as summers get longer and warmer, the demand for cooling, and thus the peak demand on our electrical distribution system, will get more severe. That demand could cause even more of the occasional power outages we all experience today. In this, the land of near eternal sunshine, more and more moves toward harnessing solar energy should be a top priority for our elected leadership, including those elected to guide the future actions of Keys Energy Services. This should create a demand for building regulations that incentivize solar energy. Taking water heaters, stoves and outdoor lighting off the grid will greatly reduce power demands in the years to come. If folks don’t like solar, gas does the same thing. We’ll need the power for cooling. Whenever we rebuild roads, they should be raised to a level where sea rise won’t impact them for the expected life of the road. Shoreside properties should be encouraged to slope their land upwards to account for sea level rise. Before we begin this years-long process to sewer the rest of the Keys, let’s make sure that we’re putting in lift stations and pumps where sea level rise won’t interfere with expedient operation and maintenance. Begin work now on finding money to lengthen boat ramps. This will not be a cheap undertaking. And it is an undertaking we should not have to commence alone. The state of Florida should make the Keys a test case in mitigation against sea level rise, because, well because we will be first and they can learn valuable lessons from us to use in other, more populous areas. The federal government should also take a hard look at making us the test case because, well because we will be first and they can learn valuable lessons from us to use in other, more populous areas. And quite frankly, we can’t do it on our own. But we’re still glad our elected leadership is paying attention.
I especially liked,
“In this, the land of near eternal sunshine, more and more moves toward harnessing solar energy should be a top priority for our elected leadership, including those elected to guide the future actions of Keys Energy Services. This should create a demand for building regulations that incentivize solar energy. Taking water heaters, stoves and outdoor lighting off the grid will greatly reduce power demands in the years to come. If folks don’t like solar, gas does the same thing. We’ll need the power for cooling.”
On the other hand, if sea levels really are rising, maybe it’s time to look at no further new development in the Florida Keys and a planned, staged, long-term evacuation to the mainland, as opposed to yet another taxpayer bailout of a community who chose to live in a known flood zone.
Back to amateur hour, Paul Williams of Homestead replied to yesterday’s Old Town parking and city bus service ponderations – Key West post.
Larry Murray replied to the school district part of yesterday’s adult ed classes – Florida Keys and beyond post:
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 08:19:54 -0700
Subject: Re: adult ed classes/theoretical mayor platform
I think you know that I share your concern that the School District need do more in preparing students for something other than college. I also share Superintendent Porter’s observation that the new Director of Adult and Continuing Education, Melanie Stefanowicz, is doing a good job, given the resources that she has to work with.
Unfortunately, so long as Key West High School and Marathon High School function on a six period day, there will be virtually no student opportunity for other than state mandated academic courses. We all know that. Superintendent Porter knows that. The School Board knows that.
What disappoints me greatly is that while I have raised this issue numerous times, there has been no response from the community. There has been no expression of public indignation from the parents. No one seems to care. Phrased differently, the community, the parents, are not demanding change and apparently are satisfied with the status quo. The absence of vocational education does not appear to be a problem insofar as the community is concerned.
If and until parents begin to demand a curriculum other than college preparatory, complaining about the lack of vocational education is just so much pissing in the wind. Something about “You can take a horse to water….”
Dr. Larry Murray
Fiscal Watchdog and Citizen Advocate
Subject: RE: adult ed classes/theoretical mayor platform
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 11:56:07 -0400<!–
Hi, Larry – yeah, the squeaky wheel.
Alas, the school board and district have a wee problem with their own mission of having students college and/or career ready upon graduation, so it matters not what the parents and kids say, or want. It matters that the school board/district live up to their own mission, regardless of what the parents and students want, or don’t want. Yet, without pressure from parents and teachers, and wherever, you are right, more mostly fool’s gold college prep, real gold life prep irrelevant.
That, however, was not why I asked you if you now think the state ought to take over the school district? I asked because you said it seems even the simplest things the district cannot do right. Your reply leads me to feel you do not see it is time for a state takeover.
I chatted a while this morning with Tom Milone in Key West, who gets my daily bombing runs. He had not yet received his copy of today’s, and without any prompting from me, he said the state needs to take over the school district.
Nashville J had these kind simplest things re The Citizen’s report on the kids took air guns to school case:
You know that I have questions!
Airsoft gun offense won’t be on record
BY ADAM LINHARDT Citizen Staff
“No one was harmed, but a broken intercom system led to some confusion. Teachers were informed about the lockdown by email, and the police were actually called by the parents of a student, who had called home to say she was safe.
A full debriefing was later conducted with Schools Superintendent Mark Porter, officials with the Key West Police Department and the School District, and HOB Principal Mike Henriquez.”
Sooooo, the questions are:
1. Has the broken intercom system been repaired and currently in working order?
2. Has the calling system and notification system been reviewed and the problem with delays in sending messages been addressed and corrected?
3. Has the School Superintendent Mark Porter, Key West Police Department, HOB Principal all devised a NEW plan to handle such incidents in the future – as the handling was less than desireable in this case. Has there been any practice drills – similar to fire drills of the system since the incident happened?
I expect the answer to all the above is NO – but it would be nice to know IF anyone actually got off their ass and tried to correct the above before the next incident happens.
As to the KW Mayor’s race:
RUN – SLOAN – RUN !!
Maybe first I should get J to agree to pay me to keep him entertained in ways he cannot yet possibly imagine .
P.S. While resetting the homepage at goodmorningkeywest.com this afternoon, I saw this older comment from a reader. I believe it came in just following my saying at Hometown! PAC’s call to candidates that the school district was terminally dysfunctionally insane and needed to be taken over by the state.
Submitted on 2012/04/16 at 1:23 pm
Good afternoon, Sloan!
I have to say that I can’t agree with one of Steve’s statements, namely, that Florida Keys residents should be the only ones who have a say in who is hired as superintendent. I’m pretty certain that has been the cause of the current woes.
I DO agree that nobody as superintendent is going to fix the problems plaguing MCSD unless they are willing and able to flush the toilet that is the nepotic administration system and start anew with fresh faces.
On another note, I thought I should report yet another incident involving KWHS Administration Gone Wild. I seriously expect to see that video advertised during one of my infrequent bouts of insomnia. I will order it if I see the ad. Anyway, our mutual teacher friend witnessed, right after the holiday break, Chris Valdez, unesteemed Assistant Principle, and Officer Bulne aka Officer Bull, KWHS apparent full-time police officer, presumably under the rather thin guise of school security, had confiscated a tazer from a student and were rambunctiously chasing each other around the office with it, the little scamps. I know, I know…boys will be boys.
From my understanding of it, there was no questioning of the student as to why he felt the need to carry a tazer to school, nor any counseling provided on the assumption that he was being bullied, as is sometimes the case (I have no knowledge or proof as to what the situation is, so the bullied theory is pure conjecture on my part), but it seems rather incompetent for either of them to even ask, and unbelievably unprofessional of them for their subsequent actions.
In summary, I have to agree that a state takeover of the school system is in order.
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 19:00:33 -0700
Subject: Re: P.S. RE: adult ed classes/theoretical mayor platform
There is an Old Town parking and city bus service ponderations – Key West post today at goodmorningkeywest.com.