As Forrest said: STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES!
I wuz expecting no less from you
Well, if nothing else, I am predictable!
So is Key West. You’d think a city that prides itself for fostering diversity would rise above predictable, alas.
School District Chief Operating Officer Michael Kinneer sent this cruise ship praise report, which has some not entirely favorable mention of Key West, I provided the cartoon from a long past issue of The Key West Citizen:
NYTimes: Not in My Port, Charleston’s Cruise Ship Opponents Say A genteel coastal city in South Carolina has been roiled by a raucous debate over whether the economic benefits of cruise ships outweigh the disruptions they bring.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — In this Southern coastal city that runs on history and hospitality, a raucous civic debate belies a genteel veneer.
Barton Silverman/The New York Times
The Celebrity Mercury cruise ship loomed over the port in Sitka, Alaska, in 2008. Alaska’s waters host 36 cruise ships each year.
Stephen Morton for The New York Times
A protest poster of a cruise ship smokestack was hung on a fence in Charleston’s historic district.
Is the environmental impact of cruise ships worth the economic benefit for port cities?
Like several communities that hug the nation’s coastline, Charleston is struggling to balance the economic benefits of cruise ships against their cultural and environmental impact.
Last week’s debacle aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ Triumph, in which an engine fire stranded 4,200 people in the Gulf of Mexico for five days, has done little to deter those civic leaders who believe that building a new $35 million cruise terminal will be a great boon for this port city.
But for people like Jay Williams, a homeowner in the historic district who writes a blog for Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, a preservationist group, the nightmare on the Triumph is one more piece of evidence in the case against a fast-growing form of travel. “Cruise ships are sardine cans packed with passengers and crew, susceptible to horrific accidents that instantly can put thousands at risk for their lives,” he wrote after the episode.
Cruising has never been more popular or affordable, with its mix of easy travel, exotic locales and onboard amenities that include cooking schools and simulated surfing. In 2012, cruise ships carried 20 million passengers, the majority of them from the United States. With 14 new cruise ships entering the water in 2014, the number of passengers is expected to increase by as much as 8 percent.
But on the shores of the nation’s most charming cities and towns, the relationship is complicated.
In Key West, Fla., voters will decide this fall whether to spend $3 million toward widening a channel that leads to the city’s ports, where 350 cruise ships arrive each year. A deeper channel would allow a new, larger class of cruise ships to dock. Business owners and residents worry that the dredging would hurt fragile coral reefs and overwhelm the town.
In Alaska on Tuesday, state lawmakers rolled back tough wastewater standards mandated by voters in 2006. The bill, backed by Gov. Sean Parnell, will allow the 36 cruise ships that travel Alaska’s waters each year to discharge wastewater with less treatment than it currently receives.
Michelle Ridgway, a marine ecologist who serves on the state science panel for cruise ships, watched as Alaska cruise ship traffic grew to about a million people a year and changed her hometown, Ketchikan. “The pulp mill closed and the place turned into Disneyland,” she said.
Charleston’s cruise ship debate seems small by comparison, but it is deeply felt.
The Fantasy — at 23 years old, the oldest ship in the Carnival fleet — has been based in Charleston since 2010. It slides into port once or twice a week. Some 2,000 passengers, most of whom have driven in from nearby states, walk through an aging terminal, climb aboard and sail off to the Bahamas or the Caribbean for a few days or a week. Other cruise ships sometimes stop to visit the city, too.
The South Carolina Ports Authority wants to build a new ship terminal that port officials say will handle only one ship at a time, but the frequency of ships could increase.
Those dedicated to preserving a section of town whose buildings date to the 1700s worry that a new terminal will bring a damaging concentration of tourist traffic and larger cruise vessels.
“I can’t believe they are doing this to Charleston,” said Carolyn Dietrich, who lives just a few blocks from the terminal. “I can hear the announcements from my house,” she said. “And that black smoke. It just tumbles out of that smokestack. You should see the dust in my car.”
Port officials point out that cruise ships are a tiny slice of the city’s shipping traffic. More than 1,700 vessels use the port every year, and only 85 of those are cruise ships. And cruise traffic, they say, is worth $37 million a year to the region.
But this city takes its preservation seriously. The specter of more cruise ships has spawned three state and federal lawsuits and has placed the city’s historic district on the World Monuments Fund’s list of most endangered cultural sites.
The intensity of opposition has the usually composed mayor, Joseph P. Riley Jr., baffled and angry. “This thing is hard to understand because it’s not logical,” he said. “This is not a theme park. One of the authentic parts of Charleston is that we are an international port.”
He points out that the city will get a new waterfront park, and that it has an agreement with the port that caps the number of ships a year at 104.
People wary of cruise ship traffic want the limit to be legally binding. They also want the ships to plug into electrical power on shore, a newer technology only some ships have. (Shore power exists at some Alaska and California ports and is in the process of being adapted at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook.)
But mostly, they want the port to consider two other spots along the waterfront, which the mayor and port officials say are unworkable.
Not that cruise ship passengers worry too much about the impact their vacations have on local communities. Battles over local or federal legislation, like the Clean Cruise Ship Act, which died in Congress in 2010, are not as interesting as which name-brand chef is going to open a restaurant on board.
The cruise ship industry has less comprehensive oversight than the airline industry, which is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Ships fly under foreign flags and their parent companies are incorporated overseas, leaving regulation to a patchwork of federal, state and, rarely, local laws.
That puts more responsibility on local communities that host cruise ships, said Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels program director at Friends of the Earth, an environmental group. “They need to not just listen to the cruise ship industry or assume regulations are in place,” she said. “They need to talk to other cities that have gone through this.”
A cautionary tale might be found in Mobile, Ala., where Carnival Cruise Lines hauled the lifeless Triumph last week. Mobile would gladly take any cruise ship traffic at all. The port and the city romanced Carnival Cruise Lines for years. In 2004, after the city borrowed $20 million to build a terminal, Carnival finally agreed to the relationship and based a ship there.
In 2007, Carnival named Mobile its port of the year. Things were going so well that in 2009, Mobile spent $2.6 million on a new gangway. Two years later, Carnival left.
The location just wasn’t popular enough, it said, and rising fuel costs made Mobile a less efficient port than New Orleans.
“It’s a mobile fleet so they can move to a place that is giving them the best deal,” Mr. Askin said. “That’s good for the companies, but bad things start to happen to cities when ships bail out.”
Real nice folks, the cruise ship industry. No wonder Key West welcomed them with open arms … and open legs … birds of a feather …
When someone asked me yesterday, what I would say about cruise ships if I was running for Mayor of Key West?, I said I would say I want to stop all cruise ships from calling on Key West, and I want to get all of the conch trains and trolleys and ducks off the streets of Key West.
When I mentioned the photo just above, and said it represents the channel dredging going on already with “small” cruise ships, which would be far more channel gouging with the super monster cruise ships, and I was trying to figure out how to get the above photo enlarged and turned into a billboard, the someone said fish change the bottom, too.
This someone already had asked if I might move back down to Key West and run for mayor again, because it didn’t seem like anyone else would run against Mayor Craig Cates, and I had said I sure hoped not, but I would be really surprised if the angels didn’t make me do it again. Maybe after the someone told me fish change the bottom, too, I should have told him that he would make a great mayor, he ought to run against Mayor Cates, birds of a feather.
Who would want to try to fix what the current and previous mayors and city commissioners broke? Who would want to be the warden of a jail mental ward? Not me.
As for the schools wing of the State Mental, I am not going to comment on this article today in The Key West Citizen, because it seems to cover the event pretty well. However, I have an observation from reading the article, which I share below it.
School locked down in gun scare
It looked real enough.
But the Airsoft .45-caliber handgun replica two Horace O’Bryant Middle School students brought to school Wednesday turned out to be just that — a pellet-shooting copy of an actual weapon.
The two pupils, who remain nameless due to their status as juveniles, were detained pending charges after a fellow schoolmate called her parents to say she saw them handling a gun. The parents called Key West police shortly before 9 a.m., and a lockdown was instituted at the Leon Street school.
Police soon recovered the pellet gun, and classes at the school returned to normal. No one was harmed, but coming just two short months after the horrific Newtown, Conn., school shooting, some parents were naturally rattled by the scare, and about the safety issues raised as a result.
“It scared the hell out of me,” said Kim Goggans, who has a daughter in sixth grade at HOB. “Their intercom system was broken, so they had to alert the teachers to the lockdown by email. Plus, the lockdown was just locking the kids in the classrooms they were already in. That’s not safe at all.”
Goggans said she didn’t even find out about the gun until noon, when she received an automated robocall from the school.
“How come the paper knew about this before the parents?” she asked. “It took them three hours to let us know. This happened during the first period. By the time I got there to ask my daughter if she was OK, she had already had lunch.”
School Principal Mike Henriquez didn’t return a phone call from The Citizen requesting comment, but Superintendent Mark Porter on Wednesday defended both the handling of the incident and safety procedures at HOB and other district schools.
“The information I’ve received indicated that this situation was dealt with properly,” Porter said. “I’ve not heard anything about the intercom system, but we certainly tried to use the communications means available to us to inform the parents. What happened is that a student was in possession of a look-alike weapon. It was never brandished or meant to be used. There was no imminent threat. A modified form of lockdown was used. In a more serious situation, the response would have been different.”
The police response wasn’t well-coordinated with the school, Porter conceded.
During a sit-down meeting with Henriquez on Wednesday, Goggans said she offered to personally help check students’ backpacks for dangerous weapons, like the Airsoft, and asked him why the school didn’t have metal detecting machines or wands.
“We get checked going into Disneyland,” she said. “But not going into school? That’s crazy. The world has changed. And the school rules need to keep up with it. He tried to blame it on the parents, but that’s ridiculous. Those guns are dangerous and they need to be kept out of our schools.”
Porter, for his part, pointed out that pellet guns such as the one confiscated are made of plastic, and wouldn’t have been detected by such machines.
“It’s a bit much to ask each child to go through a metal detector each time they enter or leave every school,” Porter added. “Also, most of these kids have large backpacks these days. It would be very difficult to search each one every time. If there’s anything else we could do differently to improve this process, we’re certainly willing to look it, but at this point, I think the situation was resolved quite effectively.”
Porter also asserted that he felt parents needed to be more aware of the potential of pellet guns such as the Airsoft to incite panic and cause injury.
“I’ve held one of these guns, and they’re even weighted to feel like the real thing,” he said.
“The only difference is that they have a fluorescent orange tip. But if one is being pulled out of someone’s pocket, that’s the last part people are going to see.
“Parents can’t be naive about these guns. They’re not toys.”
After reading that article, do you really think there is anything Mark Porter, Mike Henriquez, or any other school principal, or any school teachers, or any school guards in Keys schools, or any school board member, including former top gun Navy combat carrier pilot Ed Davidson, can do to stop Keys students from coming to school with several real loaded pistols in their backpacks and opening fire? If you think there is a way to stop that in Keys schools, here you are. You pick.
Well, time for some comic relief, also well reported today in The Key West Citizen. This article below reveals what really is important in Key West, and that an illegal bar can be made a legal bar with a wink and a nod, just as easily as a legal application from an owner of several successful Key West restaurants to build a nice restaurant on Mallory Pier can be denied with a wink and a nod.
bar can stay bar
Also, doughnut shop can serve beer, wine
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
As a unanimous vote came down in their favor, a crowd at Old City Hall erupted in cheers Wednesday night.
People hugged. Grown men exhaled relief. Women smiled.
The Key West contingent filed out in joyful style, as if they saw a dear friend escape a prison sentence after a dramatic trial.
In a way that’s what happened Wednesday night, as the people who run Shots and Giggles, 201 Ann St. — just steps from Old City Hall, 510 Greene St. — were granted permission to operate as a bar, though they’ve been serving drinks since November 2011.
The City Commission must still approve the zoning decision to render it law.
But after spending almost 1¬½ hours on the item Wednesday night, the city’s appointed Planning Board recommended in a 5-0 vote that the business venture meets the criteria as a “conditional” use in the historic district.
At the same meeting, the Planning Board granted a special exception to Glazed Donuts, 420 Eaton St., enabling the artisan doughnut shop to sell beer and wine along with its homemade desserts in a district where alcohol sales are restricted due to the proximity of a church.
But Shots and Giggles was the marquee agenda item, drawing more than 70 people to the hall.
The vote came after almost an hour of public comment and discussion, as a dozen Key Westers rose to pay tribute to Shots and Giggles as a safe haven for locals.
It’s a place where folks know your name, one man told the Planning Board.
“You know, that song from ‘Cheers’?” he asked the board.
People got it.
“Working men and women of this town use that facility as a corner pub, a hometown bar,” said Michael Pollock.
Joe Weatherby credited bar manager Hannia Rivera with “cleaning up” that corner of Key West, which was an unlighted vacant spot before Shots and Giggles.
“She’s the kind of person who is good for business in this town,” Weatherby said.
City planners sided with the applicant, Owen Trepanier, who represented property owner Peter Brawn.
Whether the modestly sized bar, which sits beside Brawn’s larger Tattoos and Scars bar, was operating illegally is a matter of interpretation of Key West zoning law.
A Code Compliance officer, however, cited Shots and Giggles on Jan. 17 for violating zoning by operating as a bar without the proper approval.
The citation was sent to B & B Enterprises, in care of local businessman Bill LaRose.
Complaints from neighbors drew Shots and Giggles into the zoning scrutiny, after some fundraising parties featured loud music and people drinking outside on the building’s porch.
LaRose, who orchestrates a lot of those events, took all the blame Wednesday night for the noise nuisances.
“I made a mistake,” said LaRose, after ticking off the needy causes the parties have helped, including bicycles for poor kids. “I listened to some people I shouldn’t have. It’s crystal-clear now. I’m crystal-clear on what we can and cannot do.”
Several residents praised manager Rivera, who LaRose hired to create the side business.
“I think Greene Street is finally a street we can be proud of and I hope you allow me to continue to run a business there,” said Rivera, a 16-year Key Wester. “This has been a lifelong dream.”
Huge applause followed Rivera, and then a host of patrons who pleaded with the Planning Board members to keep the place open.
“Please let it stay,” said Susan Frakes, who runs a ladies boutique on Greene Street and enjoys after-work camaraderie at Shots and Giggles.
I ask again, who would want to try to fix what the current and previous mayors and city commissioners broke? Who would want to be the warden of a jail mental ward? Not me. I’d just as soon stay on Little Torture Key, being abused by angels and my half feral rat cat, who thinks she’s a
Living in Key West and/or attending writing seminars there has about as much chance of turning you into a writer as going to church has of turning you into a Christ disciple, the same chance as standing in your carport has of turning you into an automobile.