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Nashville J wrote last night:
I’m sure hoping that the early returns hold up ! That would show that Key West citizens are not going to let the MONEY run them over.
No: Anti-study 4,531 73.54%
Yes: Pro-study 1,630 26.46%
It held up close to that ratio, with 41 percent voter turnout, probably a record for such a light election year with only city races and the referendum on the ballot.
Before I went to hear the election results in Old City Hall, I was running early, I stopped off at the bait and tackle shop across the parking lot from the Halfshell Raw Bar & Restaurant.
When I asked the young woman who runs the counter in the bait & tackle shop how the local fisherman (professional fisherman) felt about the referendum, she said they were all against it. She had not heard anyone in favor of it. I said I hoped that portended the destruction of the referendum.
When someone asked me after the vote count was announced in Old City Hall, if the cruise ship lovers could bring the issue up to the City Commission again?, I said, sure, but since the commissioners and mayor are ever thinking about reelection, they will think if they ignore that referendum, the next time they run for reelection they will get 26 percent of the votes cast, so they won’t go anywhere near going along with the cruise ship lovers.
Mayor Cates only won 54 to 46 percent over Margaret Romero. I wondered if it be a lot closer between them this year, and I even wondered if Margaret might even win it this year. Cates’ wife came in dead last in the Keys Energy/Utility Board race, and did not make the runoff.
There was great jubilation in the anti- referendum crowd at Old City Hall after the referendum results were reported by Bill Becker and Ezra Marcus of US 1 Radio, and later at the Green Parrot bar, my old hangout when I still could drink beer.
I had quite a long conversation at the Parrot with Jolly Benson’s father, William, about his and his family’s history in Key West, and when they lived two years in France between stints of living in Key West. Jolly and his brother Will learned to speak French in a school in France. So, seeing Jolly and Will together, I went over to them and said they snuck up on the other side comme un loup. Jolly said, like a wolf. I said, yes. With stealth. Then, I told them their father had told me they speak French and that’s why I used that French idiom, which I had learned in a college French class.
Somebody asked me at the Parrot if I had not predicted a 73 percent victory against the referendum? I said I had written that I was hoping for over 70 percent, but I had made no prediction.
I did several consecutive soul drawings, starting maybe ten days ago, which caused me to think to myself that the drawings were predicting a defeat of the referendum, perhaps a massive defeat, but I was reluctant to stick my neck out and write that in a post. The last of the drawings was of a woman with the head of a wolf.
When Jolly’s mother asked me how I would describe the referendum outcome?, I said it was a landslide. Later, when someone else asked me how I would describe the outcome, I said it was a tsunami. More fitting, given the geographic location.
I put up a post recently about a possible tsunami hitting the Keys, although not in the cruise ship context. Perhaps a cruise ship, which would rise with the wave, would be the only safe place in a tsunami, in the natural disaster sense. Irony.
What we had tonight was a political tsunami for the Chamber of Commerce, Ed Swift (conch trains and trolleys), and the Walshes (Westin hotel, where cruise ships dock). It will be years, however, before any sort of fiscal disaster sets in, even as the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships keep calling on Key West.
I wonder if the city, knowing the public now knows about that, thanks to Chamber President Robin Lockwood, M.D., will behave responsibly and get out of the business of trading with the enemy? From the beginning, I viewed defeating the referendum as the first step toward closing Key West to cruise ships altogether.
Jolly’s father, William, said at the Parrot that what he hopes to see is the big mothers now calling on Key West (the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships) will be replaced by much smaller, clean cruise ships, which bring in more upscale and more interesting visitors, including visitors who take off all their clothes on the deck of those cruise ships. I said, yes, those kinds of cruise ships would fit right into Key West’s charm and mystique. The cruise ships calling on Key West now are like a Klingon invasion from Walmart.
Maybe more later.
Thanks for the full report and CONGRATULATIONS to Key West ! Maybe the first shot across the bow to the current power that ” WE ARE MADDER THAN HELL AND WE AIN’T GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE !
Jolly Benson, in so many words, said that when Bill Becker and Ezra Markus interviewed him in Old City Hall after the vote tally was announced. Along the line of Key West could not sell out any more, it had to stop. Jolly also called for reconciliation, and invited the pro-bigger cruise ships (he said pro-channel-widening) camp to the anti-bigger cruise ships (he said anti-channel-widening) victory celebration at the Green Parrot. I don’t recall seeing any of them there, however.
I told the angels last night, as I pedaled my bicycle home from the Green Parrot, that there is something really special about Jolly, he has a very different approach, probably a lot better approach, than I have. I’m a destroyer, go for the kill. He’s a statesman.
At the Parrot, Elliot Baron came at me really hard for alienating Gwen Filosa and the Citizen. Elliot himself used to write scathing investigative journalism articles in Key West, no prisoners. He said their anti-dredging website against the referendum got 4,500 hits the last time they put something up. I had nothing to do with the final outcome. Lots more hits than my website, no doubt.
Elliot said I bonked Filosa and the Citizen, because they would not publish the above photo. And, I published an email from Elliot, which he said the other side used to convince the Citizen that Jolly had gotten to Filosa, and that was why they reined in Filosa and quit being friendly to Jolly’s side.
I said the photo was news, and they should have published it. And, I cover lots of topics, and Filosa published stuff about me, which Tim Gratz pointed out in a letter to the editor, which was published, was not true, and she screwed up something really important re the North Roosevelt Blvd fiasco, and I let her have it over that, as well.
Yet, I said, the Citizen published what Robin Lockwood, the Chamber of Commerce’s President, said at a forum about Key West receiving the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships, and would continue to do so for the next 20 years, and the Citizen stopped publishing letters to the editor on the referendum, and discontinued its Citizen Blog. I said Lockwood killed the Chamber with that remark. And, finally, the Citizen did publish the above photo, which the public really did need to see.
I got wind of something last night, which Jolly and his father will try for next. A novel idea. The Keys go solar. Jolly’s father is an electrical contractor, has a terrific history in that field in the Keys. Is well liked. Between the two of them, they might bring the Keys into the solar power age. They know the terrain. I don’t. They are statesmen, I am not. Me, I simply think it’s laughable, a cruel joke, that the Keys are not already solarized.
William Benson told me last night, if the old city dump, Mt. Trashmore, is solarized, that will launch Key West and Keys Energy services into the solar age. He said, if the schools are all solarized, that will save the schools a million dollars a year and will provide enough back up electricity to serve the upper Keys during electrical blackouts following hurricanes. Some years ago, the upper Keys were blacked out altogether after a hurricane, while the lower Keys were able to receive some electricity, because Keys Energy had back up generators, which the Electric Co-op serving the upper Keys did not have. William said he didn’t seek getting the job, he didn’t need the work, but he could get it done. Most important, he just wanted to see the Keys go solar.
Back to the referendum for bigger cruise ships, William Benson sent me this yesterday:
See the attached article in today’s Washington Post. The conflation by Ed Swift with jobs = cruise ships is not accurate.
Sarah and I moved to Key West in 1975. She worked as a cook at the Pier House for David. I worked as (what David called) a “finished carpenter” at the Pier House, too. I was 29. My electrical contracting business, established in 1977, was prospering long before cruise ships came because people, many of them attracted by the ambience established by David, were buying and renovating houses, setting up restaurants and shops, and having a good time. There were ALL types of people from different income strata. The thing that they had in common was the joy of living in a beautiful, free spirited, interesting community. And the Conchs welcomed us; they were the real fabric of the community.
With the cruise ships came the trashy, vulgar, predictable stores. They are a blight. They’re not funny. They have a negative impact.
William Benson, President
Benson Green Technologies
175 Overseas Highway
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 296 3940
washington post story today:
I replied to William:
Hi, William – Well, at least Swift didn’t say the referendum is only about a study. It is only about bigger cruise ships, all the rest is diversionary noise, to put it in the kindest light. I wish the author of the article had pointed out that the 2003 cruise ship passenger peak was artificial reaction to travelers being reluctant to travel by air following 9/11. It’s 5:03 p.m., in 2 hours or shortly thereafter, we will know the outcome. Nashville J sent:
Vote NO, and Vote OFTEN ! Just like in Chicago.
Fingers crossed on a WIN for the NO vote
While he was pounding me last night, Elliot Baron said the way I write – somebody wrote, I replied – sucks; I should get to the point. He said, I’m a loose cannon. I’m insane, but there is no convincing me of it.
I replied that talking to him was like standing in front of a machine gun. It’s all him talking. It kept going like that, and finally I said he acted as if he knew every fucking thing, and he said he did, and I said that’s the definition of insanity, and he looked like he had been punched in the nose and said that was a good point.
Before that poignant ending of our conversation, Elliot said he took the photo above of him down from his blog after I started publishing it. I asked why? It’s a great photo. Earlier, I had told Elliot, as he spoke to Bill Verge, that Verge had told me the photo was taken on the USS Ingram. Elliot said Verge took the photo, and he took a similar photo of Verge. I said, hmmm, Verge didn’t tell me that part.
Elliot also said this city’s leaders, and cruise ship companies, and all other people need to get it that the people of Key West come first! He angrily told of someone years ago, maybe before my time in Key West, saying tourists’ quality of life is more important than Key West citizens’ quality of life. I said I agreed completely, but it sounded to me like come down and stay a while tourists, and not cruise ship passengers – who, as I said earlier, are like a Klingon invasion from Walmart.
What I just sent to you was the “uncut” version. I’m going to try to go back to sleep and, if I succeed there, see what the Editorial Board says. Here’s what the Citizen reported Jolly said at Old City Hall last night:
“We stuck together and didn’t sell out to special interests,” said Jolly Benson, chairman of the anti-study political action committee Key West Committee for Responsible Tourism. “They can’t come out and run all over us. This is the last time.”
I remain of the view that the next step is to stop the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships from calling on Key West. Otherwise, the selling out continues.
PPS, after going back to sleep
And, I do not relate to this ending in the Key West Citizen article:
Tuesday night, self-proclaimed hippies, artists and rabble-rousers reveled at The Green Parrot, where anti-dredging T-shirts and flags were plentiful.
“What’s making me so happy is it’s all about love,” said Nance Boylan, who joined in the post-election party at the bar. “Love for our environment, for our sea animals and the unity that exists here in Key West, all of us together.”
Former County Mayor Shirley Freeman was there. She was estatic the referendum had been crushed. Former Last Stand President Al Sullivan was there. He was similarly delighted. Former radio talk show host Richard Grussin was there. He was similarly delighted. Naja and Arnaud Girard, publishers of Key West the Newspaper (www.thebluepaper.com), were there. They were similarly delighted. I congratulated Arnaud on being a terrorist cartoonist. He smiled. Key West was well-represented across the social strata last night at the Green Parrot. That could not be said of the cruise ship lovers, who were a narrow band of monied interests and some of their employees.
Love had nothing to do with it, as far as I was concerned. It was a bloody, selfish war, declared on Mother Nature
by the monied interests, and they got their fucking lunch handed to them. Not that I expect any of them were changed by the result, but maybe the result is just the beginning of the end to Key West receiving the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships. I will be interested to see if anyone, besides me, takes up that fish or cut bait banner, a facsimile of which I purchased at the bait and tackle shop, and offered to Jolly and his father last night, and they told me I should keep it, it was mine.
Who ever wrote this line [Gwen Filosa], has absolutely no respect for the CITIZENS of Key West. An effort to marginalize and deminish the ass whipping the Chamber and the Money People took as being because of HIPPIES, ARTISTS and RABBLE-ROUSERS and not about the great fight the CITIZENS of Key West put up against the establishment because they care about life in Key West and the waters and reef around it.
“Tuesday night, self-proclaimed hippies, artists and rabble-rousers reveled at The Green Parrot, where anti-dredging T-shirts and flags were plentiful.”
I told Elliot Baron at the Parrot that the reason I use the he wrote, I replied method, is because it allows other people to have their full say without any interference or marginalizing from me, which, as far as I know, cannot be said of any other journalist in Key West, or anywhere, as far as I know.