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There is a the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but there are far worse things than being homeless in Key West, and elsewhere post today at goodmorningkeysest.com. Meanwhile, on much the same topic …
At yesterday’s special No Name Key county commission meeting in Marathon, I watched County Commissioner George Neugent, currently serving as County Mayor, behave like a spoiled brat, jerk, and bought and paid for county commissioner.
At the previous county commission meeting I attended, also in Marathon, when No Name Key items came before the county commissioners, I saw Neugent do the same thing.
Following the previous county commission meeting, The Key West Citizen did not report on Neugent’s behavior, which was bizarre, nor does that newspaper do that today in its report of yesterday’s commission meeting.
Throughout the morning session yesterday, Neugent wailed and moaned about how the good homeowners on No Name Key, who want to be allowed to hook up to Keys Energy Services’ electric grid, had beeb abused by the county government, and he did not understand how that had been allowed to happen, and why it could not be fixed right then and there?
Never once did Neugent say he was on the county commission who had abused the good people on No Name Key, or that he had voted for the Comprehensive Plan, which discouraged utilities being run out to No Name Key, and that he had voted to approve the ordinance (Land Development Regulation – LDR) which prohibited utilities being run out there, in furtherance of the Comprehensive Plan’s requirement to discourage utilities from being run out there.
Throughout the morning session, Neugent carried on as if he had no understanding of the Comp Plan, its history, how it worked, how it could be changed, and what the legal requirements for changing it are, even though he is in his fifth, I think, 4-year term.
Neugent acted as if he had no recollection of the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which later was merged into the Department Economic Opportunity (DOE), approving the Comp Plan and the LDR prohibiting utilities on No Name Key being in furtherance of the Comp Plan’s requirement that utilities be discouraged on No Name Key.
Neugent complained on and on about how much money the county government had already spent in litigation over No Name Key, for which he had voted to defend and/or prosecute. Neugent acted as if he had no inkling that the county commissioners ignoring the Comp Plan and LDR, and letting No Name Key homeowners tie into Keys Energy Service’s lines on No Name Key, who wished to do so, would not only lead to immediate litigation against the county government from Alicia Putney, but it would become legal precedent from then on, for anyone who wanted the Comp Plan and LDRs bypassed, to simply ask the county government to ignore the Comp Plan and its LDRs.
Neugebt was outvoted 4-1 every time. Then, the No Name Key items were finished and the meeting turned toward what the county commissioners wanted Keith & Schnars to do, or not do, re bringing No Name Key into discussion re the new Comp Plan, for which Keith & Schnars had been hired by the County Commission to explore and vet with the public.
Enter another player.
I had signed up to speak to all parts of the Keith & Schnars item, but I told the clerk that I would pass on speaking to the first part of the item. A few citizens spoke to the first part, and then Beth Ramsay-Vickery went to the speakers podium. Instead of speaking to that item, Beth launched a virulent tirade about all the crimes and mean things that had been committed against her and her No Name Key home and her dog by unnamed people.
After Beth’s time ran out, Commissioner Heather Carruthers asked Beth, wasn’t her brother the Sheriff?
Neugent, as county mayor running the meeting, had let Beth do it, even though it had nothing to do with the agenda item. Throughout the morning session, Nugent had let Beth interrupt citizen speakers with challenges from the floor, hoots, etc., which is not supposed to be allowed. That all caused me to walk over to the clerk and say I would speak to that part of the item after all. I had signed up to speak to it, so they had to let me.
I went to the speaker station and looked for Beth in the audience and did not see her there. I asked the audience if Beth was still there? Neugent jumped me, said I could not ask the audience questions, but could only address the commissioners. I turned and looked at him and said, okay, Commissioner Neugent, intentionally I did not say Mayor Neugent, as he was not acting like a county mayor should act, is Beth in the audience? Neugent said I could not ask commissioners questions. Prior citizen speakers had asked commissioners questions, and had gotten answers.
I said, okay, I had attended a number of public utility meetings about No Name Key, where Beth spoke, mostly Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority meetings, and she had behaved at those meetings the same way she had behaved in this county commission meeting. Nugent jumped me again, said if I did that again, he would kick me out of the meeting. I said, okay, I see how it is.
I said Beth’s brother is Sheriff, her father is a Marathon City Councilman, Beth grew up in the Keys, her husband, Brad, is a real estate man. They bought a home on No Name Key, in 2006, knowing it was off the grid, knowing the island’s history with litigation, and knowing the Comp Plan restrictions. They walked out in front of that bus with eyes wide open, and now they blame the County for it? I had more time, but I stopped talking and returned to my seat.
I had wanted to say that I had seen Beth’s brother attend water board meetings re Name Key, in full uniform, and her father was there, too. I had wanted to say I had seen Beth bring a lawyer to a water board meeting, and she had him tell the water board members that he was holding before them a bottle of very dirty water, which had come out of Beth’s cistern, although he did not tell them he had seen it come out of Beth’s cistern, and Beth had not said, when she earlier spoke to the water board members, that she had seen it taken from her cistern.
However, I decided not to go there, because I wanted to watch the rest of that part of the meeting.
Neugent had threatened at the previous county commission meeting to have me evicted, after I had called him out from the audience over the way he was behaving re No Name Key. I had waited a long time to call him out, after watching him behave like Little Lord Fauterneroy for a long time. I thought then that Lord Neugent had become the reincarnation of Mario Di Gennaro when he was County Mayor and he evicted Kay Thacker from a county commission meeting, to Neugent’s shock and disgust. I thought the same thing of Neugent yesterday.
After the recess for lunch yesterday, I heard other people liken Neugent to Di Gennaro. I heard other people say Neugent is in league with the Vickreys. Of course Neugent is in league with the Vickrey’s. They own him. Neugent said so when he let Beth interrupt citizen speakers yesterday, and when he let her carry on about what had nothing to do with Keith & Schnars, and when he jumped me over my jumping Beth, who can jump anyone she pleases and Neugent seems to have orgasms over it.
It got worse.
After I was jumped by Neugent and citizen comments ended, I was the last speaker, Rice said he loved it that Beth said what she said, and, then, Rice said, as if maybe he thought he had stepped in it, said he loved what every citizen said.
Although Rice had voted against Neugent all morning, Rice had made it clear that he only did it because he felt the procedures for honoring and changing the Comp Plan had to be followed. There was no question in whose camp Rice was, though. The Vickrey camp.
You’d think, Rice being a psychologist, would know better than to show his true colors like that. But then, you would have thought, being a psychologist and all, Rice would have known better than to vote, when he sat on the County Commission, for the County to pay his guidance clinic money for its services. And you would have thought Rice would have known better than to vote, when he sat on the County Commission, for the County to give the Sheriff money to buy Rice’s guidance clinic’s services; doubly so, when Rice’s son, Mike, was the Sheriff’s executive who made guidance clinic deal for the Sheriff.
Before yesterday’s commission meeting started, I told several people who oppose No Name Key going on the grid, that they really screwed up when they voted for Rice instead of for Di Gennaro in 2010. They argued with me, then the meeting started and they saw what they had helped put in office.
Later, one person told me it looked like Neugent and Beth were getting it on. That was meant literally. I told several people yesterday that Neugent and Brad were getting it on. That was meant metaphorically, politically in bed with each other. Several people and I opined that Neugent is getting something out of it with the Vickreys, but what that something is, we may never know.
I felt really rough yesterday morning, and left the meeting after the break for lunch, and went home.
Someone from the meeting called me later expressing sympathy for my being mistreated by Neugent. I laughed, said I was glad for it. Neugent’s behavior revealed he was bought and paid for by the Vickrey’s, and he was too dumb to know what he had revealed. The person agreed Neugent’s behavior had given him away, and Rice’s behavior had given him away, too. Rice, Neugent, Beth and Brad are together.
I said the reason Brad and Beth Vickrey bought on No Nam Key, was to give them standing to lobby for utlities to be brought out there, prelude to them trying to develop land on the island. The person agreed, said, alas, I had missed the best part, which came toward the end of the afternoon session. The best part, this person said, was Rice made a motion for the commissioners to rule the Comp Plan and LDR were illegal, void, whatever, and let No Name Key homeowners, who wished to do so, tie into Keys Energy Services lines. Neugent seconded the motion. The vote was 3-2.
I asked the person what was the look on the other three commissioners’ faces when Rice did that? The person said the same as the look on their faces during the morning session. The person said we have a Gang of Two on the County Commission, a reference back to when there was a Gang of Three, which included Di Gennaro, which Gang Neugent had opposed.
The person said I really did need to watch the tape of yesterday afternoon’s meeting, after it was available on the county’s website. I said the public ought to watch the tape of the entire meeting, to see two of their bought county commissioners, Neugent and Rice, and three commissioners, Murphy, Carruthers and Kolhage, doing it right to avoid horrendous consequences doing it wrong will surely bring.
Commissioners Murphy, Carruthers and Kolhage were mortified to be sitting at the dais with Neugent and Rice, yesterday. The looks on those three commissioners faces and their body language and their comments and their votes proved it.
I told everyone I knew, starting 2006, that Neugent was a developer’s commissioner; he was not what he held himself out to be. I told everyone I knew in 2010, not to vote for Rice, and to vote for Di Gennaro.
Well done, Commissioners Neugent and Rice. You have joined the oldest profession, and seem quite proud of it.
To see the video replay, which is not yet up, go to/click on www.monroecounty-fl.gov , on far right of top menu, click on Services, when that opens, click on Video on Demand, when that opens, Click on February, when that opens, highlight the 26 February commisson meeting and open that, and the video will come up, I was told by the County Admistrator’s office, and you take it from there.
In the interest of fair play, here is the Key West Citizen’s report on yesterday’s county commission meeting.
No power on No Name — for now
BY TIM O’HARA The Citizen
The County Commission on Tuesday voted against bringing commercial power to No Name Key for now, but didn’t rule out doing so in the future.
The actual vote was about building permits, which the county must grant the rural island’s residents for them to hook up to power poles installed by Keys Energy Services last year.
Commissioners Heather Carruthers, Sylvia Murphy and Danny Kolhage voted against granting the permits, and Mayor George Neugent and Commissioner David Rice voted in favor of doing so. The result of the 3-2 vote means no power for now.
Commissioners discussed, but did not vote on, whether to spend an additional $105,000 on outside counsel to fight the power at the state level. The Public Service Commission (PSC) is scheduled to consider the question on public utilities June 18 at the earliest, according to County Attorney Bob Shillinger. The decision on the money will happen at the March 20 meeting.
The commission agreed to pay an additional $43,000 to a consulting firm it already hired for more than $1 million.
The PSC is to hear the issue after Monroe County Circuit Court Judge David Audlin dismissed two lawsuits on it. He and the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that the PSC has jurisdiction.
No Name Key now relies on the sun and generators for power, but has a long history of residents asking for commercial power and opponents arguing against it.
Despite saying the issue falls under the PSC’s purview, the 3rd District Court of Appeal’s recent ruling did make a statement that could help the commercial power contingent: It wrote that the PSC’s authority, granted by the state of Florida, would be “eviscerated” if it were “subject to local governmental regulations.”
Shillinger acknowledged to The Citizen on Tuesday that the ruling could be interpreted as saying the county has been pre-empted from legislating in the matter.
But he also pointed out that the court said it was not ruling on the “merits of the case,” leaving that for the PSC.
If it were decided electricity could be brought to No Name, permits to connect the homes to the grid could be issued as early as April, county Growth Management Director Christine Hurley said.
Commissioners voted to pay the private planning firm Keith and Schnars an additional $43,000 — on top of a $1 million contract — to research whether the county can change its land-use rules to allow power on No Name and other Coastal Barrier Resource Act zones. The federal government discourages development in those zones by not granting such properties federal flood insurance.
The firm is already being paid more than $1 million to review and make recommendations on tweaking the land-use rules.
Neugent argued the issue is getting too expensive for the county, saying it was not “our fight.”
He asked Shillinger how much the county has already spent on the issue, and the attorney said it was about $30,000 over the past year. But Neugent said he wants the costs going back further.
Shillinger is to report back Friday after a conference call between attorneys and the PSC.
The comp plan and land development regulations have different wording. The comp plan states that public utilities on No Name are “discouraged,” and the land development regulations state that utilities are “prohibited.”
The land development regulations also expand the prohibition to areas just outside Coastal Barrier Resource Act zones, stipulating that power lines and other utility infrastructure cannot be taken to, through or across those zones.
According to state law, the comp plan takes precedence over land development regulations when the two conflict.
Opponents of power argue the two do not conflict, as the comp plan is intentionally vague and land development regulations are meant to be more specific and further the intent of the comp plan.
“We are about to contemplate a major policy change,” Commissioner Danny Kolhage said. “In order to do that, we need data and analysis … . Without the information, we are not going to be able to defend it (the change) … . This issue is bigger than No Name Key. This is a countywide issue.”
The county’s land development regulations also prohibit central sewer systems in a neighborhood off Card Sound Road in Key Largo.
There are also concerns the land development regulations could affect a project to run sewer lines across the Snake Creek Bridge in Islamorada, because some land-use maps put the bridge within a Coastal Barrier Resource Act zone.
City of Islamorada and Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District officials attended Tuesday’s meeting.
“We just put in millions of dollars infrastructure out there and we are now telling people that they can’t hook up to it,” Neugent told his fellow commissioners, arguing that the commission should allow utilities at least through Coastal Barrier Resource zones.
Who is “we”? What millions of dollars of infrastructure did “we” just put in out there? That’s the first I ever heard of that, and I don’t imagine I’m alone. It looks to me, absent something I cannot imagine happening, that No Name Key homeowners will end up getting public utilities. However, as Danny Kohlage said at yesterday’s meeting, what is in play is a lot bigger than No Name Key, and it has to be done right, so it doesn’t cause a lot of problems down the road.
An older man from Key West drove up to the meeting yesterday, unsolicited apparently, by anyone, and gave the entire gathering a history lesson on No Name Key, the likes of which I’d never heard, and his view that the island should remain off the grid and become a model for off the grid living, which could be studied by any and all. I went over and introduced myself, and he said he knew who I was, he had seen me speak on television at public meetings. He said he usually watched public meetings on TV.
After yesterday’s commission meeting is up on the county website, anyone can watch it and hear what this very intersting elder had to say, and watch the rest of the meeting, too.