loose ends hidden in plain view and some tales from the key with no name – Florida Keys mostly

Jeanie and scorpio
Belatedly, I found this comment yesterday at goodmorningfloridakeys.com, two days before the Hidden In Plain View exhibition ends at Studios of Key West, at the corner of White and Southard Streets, viewing times 10-4 p.m.
Hi Sloan. I will definitely be going to see “Hidden In Plain View”, but I’ll wait for a nonbusy day so I can digest it in a quieter setting. My friend and I were plein air painting yesterday at Simonton Beach again yesterday. We actually paint out somewhere every Tuesday, but I was very upset yesterday because the big wooden bench-like log that was between two large bushy trees (don’t know what kind) that we loved to sit on when we paint Christmas Tree Island, wasn’t there anymore, neither seating or shady trees!? So, we went closer to the water and sat in the sand to paint, not nearly as comfy. After sitting there awhile, nature called and as I was going up the nice ramp to the public restroom, one of the homeless sitting near said it was closed. I knew it had been closed a few weeks ago when we painted there, because they were doing what looked like renovation, but I could see no reason for it to be closed now. My first thoughts were to be angry, that it’s because the homeless use it,but I thought I better find out first before I go placing blame. I don’t know how to find out, but I bet you do. One of the homeless men sitting there I know, he used to help us with our boat. He said they have to walk all the way to the public bathrooms at KW Marina down by Turtle Krawls, where their no longer welcome to hang anymore either. He did say though that sometimes the restaurant at Simonton and Front will let them use theirs if they’re not wet and behave. There was also a tourist family of seven there while I was there who also had to leave before they wanted to because their little one needed the restroom, and didn’t want to venture into the water, if you know what I mean. Rooster Girl =================

I replied:

Dang, Debby, only just now saw your comment, which I would have published immediately, if I had not been sawing logs. Will publish it in tomorrow’s post, too darn late in the show, but at least it will be published. Sloan

P.S. If I had to hazard a guess, it would be the city closed the bathroom to stop homeless people from using it, like what happened in Clearwater, which I published maybe a week ago. The city leaders, and a lot of civilians, want homeless gone from Old Town, and they close a bathroom to do it, then civilians complain about homeless relieving themselves in side and back yards. When I lived in KW, I heard tourists complain about no public bathrooms. I heard merchants complain about tourists coming into their stores just to use the bathroom. I don’t know what it will come to, but there is no way I know of to stop people from relieving themselves. Glad to hear you were going to see Hidden In Plain View, if you care to write a review, I will publish it. Thanks. Sloan


Some years ago, I bought a wonderful painting of a KW wild rooster Debby did, which hangs in my place on Little Torch. It hung in my apartment in Key West, when I lived there. Right fond of that rooster. Right fond of Debby, too. Not in the sense you probably are thinking, I’m a monk.


Responses to yesterday’s  labors of love and other pursuits hidden in plain view in the Florida Keys and beyond post:


Happy Holidays, Sloan! keep up the community dialogue. It’s important considering the superficial coverage of our newspapers. Lee R. Rohe (Attorney at Law, Big Pine Key)



Hey Sloan,

Thanks for the “liking”! And for giving this worthy project [Hidden In Plain View] even more vis.


Vicki Weeks


Hi, Sloan. Rev. Steven Braddock would be a great mayor but from what I know and what I’ve seen of him he’d never do it. Too bad politics is such nasty business that the real leaders and nice people are not attracted to it. I know the Rev. more on account his hospice ministry and can’t see him being bothered with all the bubba politics. Glenn Eyw


I dunno, perhaps my time working on the Hidden In Plain exhibition is drawing to an end. In any event, it has been an interesting ride, filled with lots of unexpected twists and turns, and perhaps that will continue.
Alicia PutneyAlicia Putney

I attended some of the afternoon session of yesterday’s county commission meeting in Marathon, because settlement of the No Name Key declaratory judgment lawsuit the county had filed was on the printed agenda.


During citizen comments, I reminded Commissioners Neugent, Carruthers and Murphy, that in that very same room I had told them not to file the dec action, which the pro-electrification homeowners on NNK wanted the county to file for them at the expense of all county taxpayers. I reminded those three commissioners that I had told them to sit tight and let the pro-electrification homeowners hire a lawyer and spend their money, if that was what they wanted to do, to file a dec action, and if that happened, then the county could defend it. I reminded those three commissioners that when they voted to file the dec action, the pro-electrification NNK homeowners were thrilled and cheered loudly, and Commissioner Carruthers told them that their cheering might be pre-mature, they might not like the outcome of the dec action. I reminded those three commissioners that after some time had passed, the pro-electrification NNK homeowners had come to rue the county filing the dec action, perhaps because anti-electrification NNK homeowner Alica Putney had intervened in the dec action and now the case could not be dismissed by the county without Alicia’s okay. I told all five commissioners that after Brad and Beth (Vickry) bought their home on NNK, they took Alicia out to dinner and wined and dined her, and then told her what they planned to do on NNK, and Alicia told them over her dead body. I told the three commissioners that this entire mess (the lawsuit) was their doing, and Alicia would fight until her last breath, they could count on it.


By the time is was all said and done, it looked to me that what at least three commissioners, George Neugent, David Rice and Danny Kohlage, want to see happen is the county amends its comprehensive plan to allow the county to permit NNK homeowners to tie into the Keys Energy Services lines already installed on NNK without the county’s permission, after the pro-electrification NNK homeowners paid Keys Energy to run the lines out there and agreed to pay Keys for the cost of removing the lines and poles if the county won the dec action, and also to pay Keys all of its legal costs in that event. By the time it was all said and done, it looked to me that Alicia Putney had only just begun to fight, but what that is about I ain’t saying and will let Alicia say it when she is ready to say it.


What I will say is, I agree with Commissioner Sylvia Murphy. Everyone living on NNK moved out there knowing the island was totally off the grid: no public power, water or sewerage. Their homes were built using building permits issued by the county for homes that were designed to be off the grid entirely. They have yet to produce one shred of evidence that they ever were told by the county that they would have public power, water or sewerage out there. Yet they holler about discrimination, equal protection, yaddy yaddy yah. I asked some of the pro-electrfication NNKer’s lawyer, Bart Smith, whom I know somewhat, when they came to him about the case, did he mention to them contributory negligence, assumption of the risk, walking out in front of a bus on US 1, which they saw coming, and then hollering about being run over by the bus? Bart said he did not mention any of that to them. Maybe they didn’t teach any of that in the law school Bart attended. Or maybe he wanted them to pay him a nice fee and he maybe rightly figured they would not pay him a nice fee if he told them they had screwed themselves and had nobody to blame for it but themselves, which Commissioner Murphy made crystal clear in her pointed comments yesterday, while Commissioner Neugent, now serving as County Mayor, made it crystal clear yesterday that he is all the way in the pro-electrification NNK homeowners’ pockets. He got so out of hand on point, that I jumped him from the audience, and he told the deputy on duty to evict me from the meeting if I did that again. I was reminded of when County Mayor Mario DiGennaro had the deputy on duty evict Kay Thacker for giving him and the rest of the commissioners a thumbs down motion on something they decided, after he had told her to shut up. I wanted to give George a somewhat different hand sign yesterday, but I didn’t because I wanted to see how it would play out for NNK.


To make the brew even more interesting, No Name Key and Big Pine Key are in a county sub-district all by their lonesome, and development on one key impacts development rights on the other key. It was my understanding before yesterday, that if one new building permit was issued on No Name Key, that would extinguish seven building permits on Big Pine Key. The reason for that, No Name Key is more environmentally sensitive than Big Pine Key, and building permits on No Name Key cost a lot more environmental credits than building permits on Big Pine, where vacant lot owners stand in a long line, sometimes for many years, waiting on a building permit for a new home. Alicia Putney told me yesterday, if one new home is built on No Name Key, that building permit will extinguish somewhere between 5-10 building permits on Big Pine Key, depending on the size of the lots involved. And if four new home building permits are issued on No Name Key, that will stop any new home building permits from being issued on Big Pine for 20 years. I said, if that happened, George Neugent would not be able to go to his county commissioner’s office on Big Pine Key. He would be shot on sight by Big Pine Key people.


George did not look well, yesterday. When I arrived at the meeting, I had to look at him several times on the dais, before I was sure it was him. I found myself thinking last night that maybe he should have retired after his last term ended.

From time to time I mention in posts that I have a personal situation that causes me to be involved in the NNK saga. I pulled this below from the Big Pine Key: Mother Nature’s Last Stand page at goodmorningfloridakeys.com:
key-deer.jpgKey Deer, indigenous Big Pine Key residents staring at the weird alien invasion: humans.
Below, in time order written and posted, are commentaries centered on Big Pine Key and its nearby surroundings. Bisected by US 1, aka The Overseas Highway, Big Pine lies about ten miles below Seven Mile Bridge, which begins just below Marathon. The drive from Marathon to Big Pine provides some of the prettiest seaside scenery in the Keys. Apologies for inside jokes, sometimes explained in the moment, sometimes explained in a later post, sometimes simply not explained. If you don’t like this blog, start your own, or check out bigpinekey.com, particularly the Coconut Telepraph gossip and bitch page. It has a lot more readers than this website, and it publishes most comments submitted. I only publish comments that seem germaine to what the angels assigned to look over and keep after me deem important. (Not an inside joke but generally thought by many in the Keys and elsewhere on and off this planet to be a certain sign I’m nuts, or a liar).
Sloan Bashinsky, beleagured scribe


Received this email yesterday (24 June 2008). My reply follows.


Hey Sloan, So tell the Big Pine property owners what you would do for the future about the HCP & ITP and fish & wildlife. Dick



Hi, Dick, and thanks for your question. I will answer it in several ways.

I attended a Planning Commission meeting on Big Pine several months ago, and it was then that I got an ear and stomach-full of just how convoluted the formula is for building even one more new home there. I commented to someone at the meeting that the formula seemed to have been designed on purpose, and I saw no way to work with it. I also spoke with Alicia Putney about building homes on Big Pine and No Name Key. She and her husband Mick, and quite a few other people on Big Pine are very, very committed to keeping that island and its neighbor where they live, No Name Key, pretty much as they are. Alicia and I discussed building permits for residences, and we both agreed that we were okay with permits being issued to people who will build a home on land they own, or have purchased, in which they will live full-time. Otherwise, we both were opposed to new residencies being built on either island.

This position also was pretty much in keeping with my stance toward development Keys-wide, which I started singing when I ran against George Neugent for the County Commission in 2006: No more new commercial development, period, the end. The Keys are already way, way overbuilt, we have thousands of homes for sale, including plenty of homes for sale on Big Pine Key, and it makes no sense whatsoever for any new homes to be built, unless the owners will be full-time residents. Now I will tell you a story about my own personal love affair with Big Pine Key, and its little neighbor.

In 1995, I lived in Boulder, Colorado. One very cold winter night, sitting in my favorite chair with my writing journal, looking out the window at the moon through the limbs of a large black willow tree, I was seized and wrote down these words: “Go to Big Pine Key. Go as soon as possible. This in important.” This came from out of nowhere. I was not thinking about Big Pine Key, and had not been thinking about it. But I knew about it, because in March 1966, fishing out of Old Wooden Bridge Fish Camp, several hundred yards inside (bayside) the charred remnants of the old wooden bridge over to No Name Key, I had caught and released my first tarpon. I was fishing with contemporaries of my father in Birmingham, Alabama. As the years passed, I came to view catching that great fish as a rite of passage, a symbolic moving away from the influence of my father into my own destiny.

The night of the advisory for me to go to Big Pine Key as soon as possible, I dreamt that I was at a ticket counter at the Denver airport, purchasing an airline ticket to Big Pine Key, while standing nearby in another ticket line were my father and his brother, purchasing tickets to Islamorada. I had gown up fishing Islamorada, where they both hung out. Now I was going to Big Pine Key, and they were going to Islamorada.

So to Big Pine Key I went, not having a clue why. After one night at the Big Pine Key Inn, I relocated to Parmer’s Resort on Little Torch Key. Then I started fooling around and waiting, and wondering why I was there. On the seventh day of the trip, I went out to No Name Key Bridge for the second time that week. At the fish camp, I saw a couple getting into a skiff with their bait and tackle. I felt an urge to speak to them and learned they were environmentalists. They said they had lived for a good while on Key Largo, but it had been destroyed by development and they had moved to Big Pine Key because it was the last unspoiled place in the Keys. They were doing what they could to keep it that way, the man said. I offered to teach them a “prayer,” which I said might help them in their endeavor. The woman seemed interested, but the man seemed put off and in a hurry to get in the skiff and leave. The woman gave me what seemed like an apologetic look and got into the skiff and they cranked up the engine and idled toward the exit from the marina. By the time I reached No Name Key Bridge on foot, they were headed under the bridge toward the backcountry. When they came out the other side of the bridge, I saw pelicans flying all around them. I told the pelicans to teach them what I had not been able to teach them.

Then I walked out on the bridge and across it to No Name Key, where I turned around and started walking back the other way toward the fish camp. When I reached the top of the rise on the bridge, I was moved to turn and look down Spanish Harbor toward Bahia Honda. Pelicans were flying all around me. Something huge came around and inside of me. My breath was snatched away. I burst into tears. My heart heaved so hard that it felt like it might jump out of my body. I clung tightly to the concrete railing, to keep from falling down. Then I heard, “Because you love this place so much, you will be used to help preserve it.” Then I really started crying and heaving. That night a poem came to me, as I ate dinner at a restaurant on Big Pine Key, which no longer is there (the restaurant).

Behold the pelican!

Slow, clumsy ugly afoot,

But in the air,

A great fisher indeed!

And in time of want

It plucks out its own breast meat

to feed its young.

For some years I had known that in the Holy Grail tradition the pelican is viewed as the Christ bird because in time of want it plucks out its own breast meat to feed its young. My middle name is Young. And, that morning I had been surrounded by pelicans. Surrounded. When I read in the Keynoter two days later that a building moratorium had been adopted by/imposed on Big Pine Key, my heart leaped for joy. The next day I returned to Boulder, wondering what it all really meant and how it would play out?

I came back to Big Pine Key that March, hoping to get to the bottom of it. I stayed at Parmer’s again, but nothing developed.

I returned again the following Christmas, this time staying at the Old Wooden Bridge Fish Camp, in the apartment above the bait shop. Nothing developed that time, either. So I quit trying to make something happen.

Time went by. Stuff happened I wouldn’t want to see visited on anyone.

Finally, in mid-December 2000, I was on Maui, flat broke. I awoke one morning hearing a voice say, “Go to Big Pine Key.” That suited me just fine, because I was weary of Maui and wondering if I was marooned there for the remainder of my days. Yet I had no money, I told the voice. Within three days’ time, this and that had happened, and I was en route to Los Angeles, and not long afterward, was on a Greyhound bus to Key West.

Passing through Tallahassee, I passed out and was told I was getting into politics, which scared the living shit out of me, because I hated politics. On reaching Big Pine Key, I was told to go on down to Key West, where I indeed started getting involved in politics late the following spring.

I then was Sloan Young, because I had dropped Bashinsky off my name for reasons I have written elsewhere. I was broke and truly lived like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. And always in the back of my mind was “Go to Big Pine Key.” What was that about?

In 2006, my circumstances changed, thanks to an inheritance from my father. I purchased a trailer on an acre of land of SR 4A on Little Torch Key, next to a state wildlife refuge. With the purchase came a letter from Monroe County saying, with proper permitting, the trailer could be demolished and removed, and a permanent residence could be built on the property. I started hanging out some on Big Pine Key.

Next thing I knew, I was running as an Independent against George Neugent for the County Commission. George’s county commission office is on Big Pine Key. During that campaign my “letter writing” began. My email list grew. Eventually, I learned of bigpinekey.com, and started checking out its Coconut Telegraph gossip column. I sent some stuff to the web host, who started posting it to a omnibus page on the Coconut Telegraph page. He gave me some editorial advice about how to make my writing more available to online readers. Then he offered to set me up a blog. That’s how goodmorningkeywest.com came into being, and later goodmorningfloridakeys.com.

Regardless of how people feel pro or con about development on Big Pine Key (and No Name Key), my view is that God has seen enough development there, and in the Keys in general. Even the State of Florida recognized Big Pine Key as a special area, needing special protection. The State also recognized the Keys in their entirety as an area of “critical concern,” after the people of the Keys did not do that. And it sure looks to me that the center of the Resistance is Big Pine and No Name Keys. They must be protected at all costs, and from there the Resistance just might spread and strengthen throughout the Keys. Perhaps with some help from the pelicans.

Lately, I have been grousing to the angels that they don’t seem to be living up to their end of that covenant made in January 1995 on No Name Key Bridge. Maybe I ought not grouse that. Maybe the angels have something up their sleeves. Maybe not. Angels are hard to figure.
Sloan Bashinsky

About Sloan

That's what this website is about, also goodmorningkeywest.com and goodmorningbirmingham.com. If you can't get a publisher to take on your wacky musing, you do it yourself.
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