Florida Keys strategic maneuvers: seagrass rape scheme, Battle of the Bay resurrected, superintendent of schools wants public input

yellow journalist

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I was chastised in a nap dream yesterday for not asking The Key West Citizen and its Editor Tom Tuell in yesterday’s slimy yellow journalism with patches of Key West blue, AKA the pen is mightier than the sword, thus the sword defends the pen post, why they waited so long to call for a state takeover of the school district? Why didn’t they call for it last year, when calling for it might have changed the outcome of the school board races? When calling for it might have put the school district in the hands of people who could care less about Keys politics and ways of doing things?

The last item in today’s slimly yellow journalism returns to the school district, meanwhile


if the County Commission goes along with allowing what this correspondent below is trying to stop, it will open the door for every waterfront property in the county to do the same. I cannot imagine how this scheme got this far. That was facetious. If you are rich, if you have political contacts, if you want more waterfront development in the Keys, you can easily imagine how it got this far.

What’s the most common palm in the Keys?

A greased palm, matey!

Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2013 19:02:56 -0400
Subject: NO Dredging Seagrass
From: dpmoses@bellsouth.net

I would like to make you aware of a proposed Monroe County, FL Comprehensive Plan amendment to allow dredging of submerged lands with benthic resources. This would be a huge game changer for the Florida Keys if this  amendment  is approved. The applicant has presented this as a seagrass restoration project when in fact they propose to dredge a 700 ft long, 33 ft wide and 4.5 ft deep swath through the middle of a seagrass flat.

They propose to introduce new language into the comp plan and create a new category called re-dredge to accommodate their desire to bring in large boats to their large homes. If passed, this amendment would establish a procedure for others to also dredge seagrass, corals and other benthic resources. At the Planning Commission meeting the planner advised that this amendment could be expanded on in the future.
Here is a video of the proposed dredge site.
Please see the attached letter and contact the Monroe County commissioners with your concerns. Let them know that this is not a sustainable  way to manage our marine resources.
I also  have free bumper stickers that you are welcome to. Let me know how many you would like.
Thank You
Dottie Moses
Island of Key Largo Federation of Homeowners Association
Environmental Committee


Walker Island Seagrass meadow

The seafloor surrounding Walker’s Island is a seagrass meadow with an average depth of 1.5 feet which supports a rich diversity of marine life. The owners of Walker’s Island (just north of Duck Key) have proposed to change county laws so that they can dredge this seagrass flat to accommodate larger boats “or else” they will prop dredge their way to their newly built houses even though prop dredging is illegal under several different laws.

The developer proposes to dredge a channel 700 ft long 33 ft wide and 4.5 ft deep which would cut the seagrass meadow in half. Fragmented seagrass beds do not provide the same ecological values as continuous meadows. Boat traffic that would then be generated would continue to erode away the remaining seagrass bed from the motion of boat wakes and by re-suspending bottom sediment. The sea grass, sponge and coral communities that would be destroyed by dredging serve important functions in filtering the water and maintaining offshore and nearshore water quality which is extremely important to the health of our coral reefs.

Seagrass supports both commercial and recreational fisheries. FDEP has estimated that each acre of seagrass in Florida has an economic value of approximately $20,500 per year.

It is presently against county, state and federal law to dredge this area which is within the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. If this proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment is passed it will lead the way to legalizing previously illegal dredging. Monroe county staff estimates that there could be as many as 200 other potential users of this amendment thus re-establishing dredging in the Florida Keys.

Please tell Monroe  county commissioners to VOTE NO on April 18 on the Little Conch Key Development Corp. Comprehensive Plan amendment. Tell them to please protect our nation’s natural resources by NOT allowing dredging of submerged lands with seagrasses, sponges, corals and other living organisms that live on the sea bottom.



Sylvia Murphy

Murray Nelson Center

102050 Overseas Hwy

Suite 234

Key Largo, FL 33037

305 453-8787



 Danny Kolhage

530 Whitehead St.

Key West, FL 33040




Mayor George Neugent

25 Ships Way

Big Pine Key, FL 33043




Heather Carruthers

500 Whitehead St.

Suite 102

Key West, FL 33040




David Rice

9400 Overseas Hwy #210

Marathon Airport Terminal

Marathon, FL 33050




This next Public Announcement is a sequel to previous Public Announcements, all caused by the Navy closing Truman Waterfront Harbor to civilian use. This fun and frolic event started out in Marathon, then it was moved down to Key West, where it was sunk before it got afloat. It seemed doomed to stay sunk until it floated again in Marathon next year, but is didn’t want to stay sunk.
Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2013 17:20:17 -0400
From: lunarchik@earthlink.net To:





Battle In The Bay Dragon Boat Festival

May 11, 2013
Vendors Wanted
Volunteers Needed
Battle In The Bay Rescued!

Vendors Wanted
greek food vendor

Shore side Action
Vendors that were making plans for Key West are switching to Sombrero Beach in Marathon along with the dragon boat teams.
If you’d like to be a part of the renaissance of Battle In The Bay, download a Vendor Registration form and mail it with the appropriate fee to reserve your spot for Serious Beachin’ Fun.

Volunteers Needed
dragon wranglers at table

Dragon Wrangler Volunteers play an important role in the smooth operation of race day.

Dragon Wranglers are being sought to round up dragon boat teams in the marshaling area and help maintain the boats.


An elite crew of volunteers are needed as the Emergency Response Team to ensure the safety of all dragon boat crews.


 You can be a part of the race action by becoming a Dragon Wrangler.  For more information on the jobs available, contact Daniel Samess at the Marathon Chamber of Commerce or High Five Dragon Boat.
Volume 5 Issue 5
March 2013
Peter, Paul and Mary sang about a magic dragon that lived by the sea.
The City of Marathon is reclaiming Battle In The Bay Dragon Boat Festival as their signature event and keeping the dragons roaring off the shores of Sombrero Beach.
 The race is a GO! for May 11, 2013
in Marathon, not Key West 

Only in the Florida Keys
It’s moving. It’s cancelled. It’s moving. It’s rescheduled.
close race
Another photo finish at 2012 Battle In The Bay
The “whatever” attitude of the Florida Keys nearly lost an event growing in popularity by traveling dragon boat teams that increased ‘heads in beds’ for the Marathon hotels/motels and vacation homes and provided something new and exciting to attract visitors. That’s what the newspaper editorials said they wanted for the Middle Keys when Karen Bowers took a chance in 2009 and established Battle In The Bay Dragon Boat Festival on the shores of Sombrero Beach,
The only tropical beach launch in the continental United State

offering serious fun and the only tropical style, beach launch race in the continentalUnited States and a venue for local teams to raise money for the charities of their choice. Additionally, funds were raised for Reef Relief through beverage sales and donations made to the Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys from Survivor Team entry fees and the Survivor Flower Ceremony.

Despite the consistent growth of the event, tourist development grant money that helped with the operating costs of the event was reduced and contingent on a nearly impossible task of securing national television coverage despite Battle In The Bay having a cameo appearance, shout out and nationwide coverage through the PBS documentary Conquering the Dragon – Breast Cancer Survivors Race For Life produced by WLRN in Miami.

Members of Save Our Sisters, stars of WLRN documentary Conquering the Dragon – Breast Cancer Survivors Race For Life

The organizers chose not to sign the    contract from the District III TDC and moved the event to the broader market of Key West. After receiving approval for the event from the City of Key West, the dragon boat race committee was informed that the Navy was no longer allowing non-federal/non-governmental vessels in the Truman Waterfront. After a press release was sent announcing the cancellation, the Navy did say they would be willing to work with special events while retaining the right to cancel the event on short notice.

Word spread  quickly among the dragon boat enthusiasts outside of the Keys, reaching a new organization that produces, supplies equipment and officiates dragon boat festivals. High Five Dragon Boat contacted Marathon City Manager, Roger Hernstadt and Chamber of Commerce Director Daniel Samess and all agreed that it was worth
 keeping the event alive and reclaiming the festival for  Marathon.
Come Paddle Hard and Play Hard
 in the fabulous Florida Keys ~
register your team today at HighFiveDragonBoat.com.
Paddles UP!
This next Public Announcement seems to me to be directly contrary to how unwelcome public input clearly is at school board meetings.
Porter wants public input
Superintendent wants to engage people in the  district process
BY TERRY SCHMIDA Citizen Staff tschmida@keysnews.com

Schools Superintendent Mark Porter is asking for help from community members in formulating a five-year strategic plan of action for the school district.

In a recent email from Porter to The Citizen, he outlined the process he intends to initiate in order to seek input from residents on the direction in which they’d like to see the district heading.

“…I will be conducting six to seven community engagement sessions. … I will briefly outline some of the current strengths and challenges of the Monroe County Schools, but will spend the majority of time listening to you, our community members, on what you want to see in your Monroe County Schools.”

One such event took place Thursday at the Martin Luther King Center in Bahama Village. The next one will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, at the Marathon Fire Station, and will be hosted by Mike Puto.

As part of the process, Porter said he is looking for 25 individuals to pair with 25 district employees on a “Strategic Planning Team” that will meet to develop “four to six large strategic objectives” to implement over the next five years.

May I suggest the strategic objective of having high school seniors ready to go to work and earn a living, even if they intend to go to college? I wish everyone in the Keys had heard former superintendent of schools John Padget speak at the recent school board meeting in Key West. He understands that going to college is a red herring, a diversion, if students are not prepared go to work. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that, and it doesn’t take community meetings and committees to know that. This is a decision that should be made by Mark Porter and the school board, regardless of how the community feels about it.

The initiative bears some resemblance to one Porter conceived while superintendent of the South Washington County Schools district in Minnesota.

“I had gone through a very similar process back there,” Porter said. “We called it ‘Igniting a Passion for Learning’ and we’re kind of using it as a template, because it worked very well there, and I think it could work very well in our community.”

School Board Chairman Andy Griffiths welcomed the move, saying “This is the beginning of what we all agree is required for us to chart a course for the future. If the community has their input taken into consideration, then you get buy-in from the community. Superintendent Porter could do it in-house. He could do it in-house with the board. Or he could do it with involvement from the community. This last option really is the most difficult way to proceed, so he should be applauded for doing it this way.”

Andy, you can suck up to the community all you like, but it won’t change one iota what the community feels about how you and the rest of the school board and superintendents, now and in the past, have run the financial side of the school district. It will not change what caused The Key West Citizen Editorial Board to call for a state takeover of the school district’s finances.

The superintendent’s methodology at the engagements is three-fold: A short presentation followed by community participation, with a clicker system; then a question and answer portion.

At Thursday’s session in Bahama Village, Porter said, demand for clickers during the participation segment outstripped supply, “which is a good problem to have,” he said.

About 30 people, including some district personnel, showed up.

“We learned a few things,” Porter said. “We had some great questions about alternative pathways, and there were some concerns raised about the [recent Florida Auditor General] audit, which is understandable. Overall I thought it went well, and it was nice to see so many people engaged in the process.”

School Board member robin Smith-Martin said he was pleased with the recent session.

“The community attendees are asking tough questions, good questions,” he said. “The more public engagement, the stronger our strategic plan. We have many challenges, but are making real progress.”

Might have been helpful for this article to have included some of those tough citizen questions, instead of giving all the air time to the superintendent and school board members. I’m left wondering if Tom Tuell and The Citizen are trying to sooth ruffled feathers, instead of continuing to keep the school board and the superintendent’s feet in the fire.

Porter also suggested that at some point, a focus on community priorities might necessitate coming up with additional revenue, to meet the wishes of county citizens.

“It would be premature to see what form that might take, but I do think that at some point we will need to come back to the citizens, through the board, of course, to find ways to finance some of the priorities they have identified. These meetings are also important to find out what we should stop doing, as well, because they don’t really fit our objectives.”

Ah, now we get to the meat of the coconut. They want to raise school taxes. There is no way this school district will right its financial ship, and heal its low teacher morale problem caused by the district reneging the collective bargaining agreement, without raising school taxes. And, there is no way the public will go along with raising school taxes without the school district’s financial house first being on order.

yellow journalism
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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