near-death experience yesterday – I died during the county commission meeting in Marathon, I knew those sewer grinder pumps would be the death of me; then I was in ER where several attempts to resuscitate me almost worked; then finally I woke up and realized it was not a dream and might be worse than previously imagined; then County Commissioner George Neugent and I exchanged emails …

Seven Mile Bridgesnew (left) and old (right) Seven Mile Bridge, and Pigeon Key

Depress ctrl and + keys together to increase zoom/font size; depress ctrl and – keys together to reduce

boomerang karma

The first part of today’s serving was reported yesterday, then a lot more crossed my bow. If you already read yesterday’s abbreviated reporting, you can scroll through it down to the Post-Script.

Feather Talk

I’m at the County Commission meeting in Marathon. The commissioners agreed, Mayor Sylvia Murphy and George Neugent dissenting, to delete the grinder pump item because the outlying areas contractor did not get good figures to Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority in time for this meeting. The contractor is taking two weeks off for Christmas, but perhaps he can get numbers together while his crews are taking the holiday off. I am signed up to speak to the Seven Mile Bridge renovation. The county is picking up a small part of the cost $18,000,000, the state and Marathon the rest – $78,000,000. I am not comfortable saying this renovation should not proceed, because Seven Mile Bridge was a world wonder when it was built, and it still is one in my mind. Many people use it each year, going out to Pigeon Key and back. I feel this should continue. However, I also feel the County Commission needs to get the lower Keys grinder pump dispute straightened out. Looks to me, on grinder pumps the Commission is headed toward being modern day Pearl Harbor Lookouts.

Pearl Harbor lookout

Pearl Harbor 1

I also feel  they need to get on with cleaning up what I think I recall are 500 polluted canals in the Keys, which are causing serious problems. I feel the Commission should make that the next project for the 1 percent sales tax. For a fact, the sea and the reef are the Keys’ real asset. As the sea and the reef go, the Keys go.

Maybe more later today.

Later

When I spoke to the Seven Mile Bridge restoration item, I said, for those who do not recognize me [sans beard and longer hair], I’m in the witness protection program. Laughter on the dais and throughout the audience. I said renovation of Seven Mile Bridge absolutely should be approved and I will drop dead from shock if all commissioners do not approve it.

george-neugent.jpg

George Neugent said, “Vote no, Danny”. Lots of laughter.

Danny Kolhage

Commissioner Danny Kolhage told me to head for the emergency room. Lots of laughter.

I said I hope in the future the County Commission and top level county staff will be as diligent with future major projects as they were with Seven Mile Bridge. I said they are facing a major disaster in Cudjoe regional sewer district, which will sink the county. So maybe having three weeks to rethink that –

Sylvia Murphy

Sylvia Murphy interrupted me, said I had to stick to the topic –

I said the same money paying for Seven Mile Bridge is paying for Cudjoe regional. So, maybe it’s a good thing they have three weeks to rethink it. And there is another big project, 500 polluted canals, which needs to be dealt with. The sea and the reef are the Keys’ real asset, as they go, the Keys go. Everyone here knows that. End of my comments.

Jason Koler, Publisher of the Weekly papers, then said Ed Swift and Sloan had said what he wanted to say, so he would not come to the citizen speaker’s station.

Danny Kolhage just got through voting No. 4-1.

The vote was conceptual approval, based on what is known. It was not a final vote.

Danny said he is not comfortable with the direction the county is going spending its money. During the break, I walked over to Danny and said I respect him sticking to his guns. I always have. He said all the people in the standing room only audience in favor of the renovation of Old Seven do not affect him. I said I know that, and Sylvia not liking what I had said did not affect me. Danny nodded.

Somebody needed to get Cudjoe regional before the public today. Surprising, given the email chatter yesterday between the anti-grinder pump camp copied to me, there was talk between them of using the Seven Mile Bridge item to get something in about Cudjoe regional, I was the only one and I don’t even live in Cudjoe regional.

From the ER room.

Sloan at Coco's

Sloan

Feather Talk

Post-script:

I wrote to the anti-grinder pump camp yesterday from ER:

I spoke with Tim O’Hara off to the side during the commission meeting, and during the lunch break. [Tim writes for the Key West Citizen, he recently did an article on Cudjoe regional sewer plan, which I reported in a post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com.] Tim said he has seen nothing from experts on grinder pumps being a bad idea, or a good idea. I strongly feel it is time for all of you to drop the side issues, the conspiracy issues, the where the 1 percent sales tax is being spent issue, the I don’t want my yard dug up issue, and get people who know about grinder pumps, because they are plumbers, engineers, electricians, to convince Tim there is a real problem with grinder pumps. Letters and/or emails should be a good start, something Tim can read. Something which also can be sent to the county commissioners and other journalists. I just finished speaking with County Commissioner Heather Carruthers, who is taking her lunch break here in the commission meeting room. I said you folks convinced me grinder pumps are a terrible idea. She said she tried a year and a half ago to get the commissioners to bring in an independent engineer to assess the lower Keys regional plan. I said she needs to talk to experts and hear what they say, have them write their opinions to her. I said if you folks are right about grinder pumps, it will be a disaster, make the Hickory House look like a molecule. Make the Acevedo scandal look like a molecule. Heather said she didn’t think anything nefarious was going on. I said it just doesn’t seem to be a good idea to use grinder pumps, and if you anti-grinder folks are right, that is how the county commissioners will be remembered, and not for the good they did. Heather did not disagree. You seem to have a commissioner in Heather who might listen to any experts you folks can round up.

Back to the salt mine.

P.S.

Because of what Jason Koler said during his brief citizen comments today, perhaps he is interested in taking on the grinder pump issue. He publishes the Weekly newspapers headquartered in Marathon. County Commissioners George Neugent and David Rice live in Marathon.

Then came well-wishes from Cap. Jeff Shelnut, copied to numerous anti-grinder pump lower Keys residents:

writing-quill.jpg

Sloan,
I want to personally thank you for all you have done and are doing for us and the Keys. I don’t know how you could not be representing us as one in power. But, as you already know, never underestimate the power of the pen. Maybe when all the S**t clears and it’s time for another election, people will remember who stood on the Front Lines for them. Thank you again.

May the tide always pull you back,
Capt Jeff – Marine Biologist

I replied to Jeff, copied to ALL:

Thanks, Jeff -

The power of the pen, mine, perhaps worked to insure I never got elected :-) .

Jeff wrote just to me:

We can use all the help we can get. They are sneaky, but sunlight will make them retreat.

I wrote to Jeff:

Ever since the angels apprehended me in early 1987, their preferred method of operation has been to shine the light into the dark places, and to keep shining it there regardless of the commotion that might cause. We certainly are dealing with dark places in this fracas :-)

I did not mention in my earlier emails today to you and the rest of the anti-grinder camp email list, that when County Administrator Roman Gastesi announced at the start of the meeting that the Cudjoe regional sewer item was being pulled from the agenda, your county commissioner, that would be George Neugent, said the first he’d heard of that was this morning, and he was not pleased. Roman replied that his office had sent an email to all the county commissioners on Monday telling them the Cudjoe regional item was being pulled because FKAA did not have the numbers it needed from the contractor doing the outlying areas. Roman apologized for his staff not calling all of the commissioners with that news. Sylvia Murphy said she knew the item was being pulled. Heather Carruthers said she knew. George fumed and sputtered, said he wanted it over with, it had gone on way too long. Sylvia said she wanted at least to leave the Cudjoe regional item on the agenda for public comments, since some people had driven to the meeting to speak to the item. They could have done that, but Heather, David Rice and Danny Kolhage voted to take it off the agenda; they said they wanted to see everything when it was before them for a decision.

Sloan

I stayed four more hours in ER because I wanted to speak to a Pritam Singh development item on the agenda, to which item I had been alerted by a member of The Resistance (local activists who stalk local governments and politicians because they need stalking).

Pritam

Pritam wanted to develop a posh resort on Stock Island, the key just above Key West. In order to acquire enough building rights, which trade like rare commodities in the Florida Keys because they are hard to come by, Pritam had purchased three trailer parks in the lower Keys above stock island. Some of the trailers are owned by the people living in them, some of the trailers are leased by the people living in them. None of the trailer people own the land and they pay rent to the landowner. Trailers are the only real affordable rental housing in the Keys.

Pritam struck a deal with county staff for him to get his posh development in exchange for him not raising the rent in the trailer parks for seven years, after which he can make the trailer owners leave with their trailers, and he can make the people renting trailers move, and he can build modular affordable housing which everyone down here knows is hardly affordable, but it’s cheaper than anything but renting trailers, hard to get into subsidized Housing Authority rental housing, or living on the street, in that order of affordability.

When my time to speak during citizen comments came, I told the commissioners I had decided not to go to the emergency room after all, because I had realized I already was in the emergency room, which was the county commission meeting. Danny Kolhage looked most irritated among the five commissioners. I told Danny that was supposed to be a joke. Danny said it wasn’t much of a joke. I thought it was hilarious, but didn’t say so. Chuckles in the audience seemed to say so.

I said maybe back in 2007, maybe it was 2008, in this very meeting room, I heard Pritam Singh’s dear friend, adviser and then attorney Jimmy Hendrick (later Hendrick was  disbarred after being convicted for witness tampering and conspiracy to bribe a county commissioner while he, Hendrick, was County Attorney) say something I doubt I ever will forget, and I think George and Sylvia heard it, too. What Jim said was, “There is a special place in hell reserved for developers who buy trailer parks and then make the people living in the trailers move.” Sylvia nodded, smiled. She remembered.

I said that theme surrounds every trailer park deal brought before the County Commission by a developer wanting to build an upscale condo community or hotel with trailer park building rights, and while that deal Jimmy Hendrick brought before the county commission was not on all fours with what Pritam Singh now wants the county commissioners to approve, the two deals are relatives.

I figured the commissioners were going to approve Pritam’s development regardless, and they did approve it, 5-0, without discussion.  However, I wanted them to know I had not forgotten, and I wanted the public sitting before the commissioners and watching on county TV to know. And, I wanted Pritam, who is a Buddhist, to know what his dear friend, adviser and former lawyer, also a Buddhist, had told the county commission. Karma is central to Buddhist theology. In seven years, Pritam will be able to run off the trailer people and build “affordable housing” the trailer people will not be able to afford.

Just because someone might not believe in karma does not mean there is no such thing. There will be tremendous karma for the county and these five county commissioners if they do not reverse course on grinder pumps. And not just their reputations will that karma impact. As someone who was not Buddhist once said, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

Sloan in collar

Karma has many creative ways of expressing itself, often the dots cannot be connected through simple mental exercises, and sometimes the dots are all too clear;

Wiley Coyote

however, there is always someone who can take our worried little minds out of our own belly buttons.

One of the anti-grinder camp copied me last night with an email to numerous anti-grinder camp recipients, here is the text:

Information forwarded from good old Anon proves that vacuum sewers for the Inner Islands were priced at about half the cost of grinders for Mathews Consulting, who reportedly then recommended a vacuum system to FKAA where gravity was out of the proposed budget.

FKAA decided to go with LPS grinder pumps instead and wrote the design-build contract for the Outer islands with the infamous (and bogus) “decision tree” included to eliminate the possibility of vacuum being used.

Vacuum was used in Baypoint and most of Marathon. Some of it has been in operation about 9 years. You have a gravity connection to a traffic rated pit in the right of way, usually shared by a few homes. Power outages do not affect your ability to flush as usual. If flood waters exceed about 2-1/2 feet, then the system “drowns” and has to be purged one street at a time, which just takes a lot of valve turning. Gravity is unquestionably best, but vacuum is a far better alternative than grinders- for half the money!

I am convinced the game is rigged. Banks received the plans and correspondence also and will likely forward it when he has a chance.

Received this email chain at dawn today from Anon. My reply follows the chain. I disguised Anon’s email address to save him from receiving SPAM.

Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 06:56:22 -0500
From: halloweencontractor@___________
Subject: Re: Call Me
To: Neugent-George@monroecounty-fl.gov

Each of the FKAA Board has been sent hundreds of petitions and none even acknowledged receipt. We do not even know if they got them or other communications sent to them, as it all goes through the FKAA offices. It is not like you can pick up the phone and call them either. Contact has been made difficult. I was told that public input is not accepted at their Board meetings- you can listen but not talk. Rose Dell I can find easily, but she is not on the Board anymore. i agree that an elected Board is preferable.

Some of the anti-grinder pump camp have reported that you also will not talk to anyone on the phone about the sewer issue and that you refuse to make an appointment.

This country was formed by a revolutionary group that resented “taxation without representation”. That situation increasingly appears to exist in the Keys and does not bode well. A number of the anti-grinder camp have funded a legal 2×4 to knock some sense into sewering the CR area. That should never have been necessary, but it had better work for all our sakes..

We now discover that a vacuum sewer could have been provided for roughly half the cost of a grinder based LPS system and the FKAA knew that. They even had an engineer’s estimate and rough design in hand. Instead of the more economical and more suitable vacuum sewer, the FKAA chose to install the much more expensive, highly intrusive, and totally unsuitable grinder pump system. They did so in a manner that maximizes the number of pumps. What is the first word that comes to mind?

This is not just a bunch of whiners (or winos). What does it take to get your support, George?

P.S.; I blind copied a few of the anti-grinder people to protect their email addresses

—– Original Message —–
From: Neugent-George
Sent: 12/11/13 08:42 PM
To: Anon Emus
Subject: Re: Call Me

Anon, why has their not been, as I can tell, any communication by you or others with the most influential people with FKAA Staff, The Board? Why have you not, as for that matter, anyone not tried to engage any of this anointed, aloof, disengaged Board on the vacuum question?

Never as Mayor has an anointed Board member ever communicated or opined on this issue about vacuum? Or for that matter on anything. Why have you guys never pinged on them, the board, at Board meetings about this? Although, I feel it way too late for this to change. As I understand, they have bonding ability?
Sent from my iPad

On Dec 11, 2013, at 10:37 AM, “Anon Emus” <halloween@contractor.net> wrote:

> WOW!!!
>
> I had asked a vacuum sewer manufacturer if they would be interested in rough designing and costing a vacuum sewer for the CRS that was already under construction but hotly protested. The following is the reply I received.
>
> We just need to review and see how the dollars compare apples to apples, per EDU.
>

> It is okay to share this with the others of our camp. I have deleted the personal contact information in the email.
>

> I have copied George Neugent as well, since he wondered in an email to me why vacuum had not been considered, although he seems steadfast in defending an LPS grinder system that from what I see is doomed to early failure, a need of replacement, and exorbitant rates whether it works or not. It might be well to copy the rest of the BOCC. Do you suppose they all know the full history?
>

> —– Original Message —–
>
> From: (Bilfinger Airvac Water Technologies)
>
> Sent: 12/10/13 04:40 PM
>
> To: ‘halloweencontractor@___________’
>
> Subject: Call Me
>
> Dear Mr. Anon Emus,
>
> Please see attached vacuum layouts that were prepared for the lower keys a few years back! It was my understanding that Mathews Consulting did recommend vacuum (particularly Cudjo Key and Summerland) As you can see, this would be very cost effective since 3 vacuum stations and rather small DIA. Pipe (4” & 6”) would service both Cudjo and Summerland Keys! There is only one source of power required and it is at the vacuum station which proves to be very viable since the station itself is generally equipped with a standby generator for uninterrupted service during extended power outages! Also, typically the valve pit package can on average serve approx.. 3 customers/pit package which has an H-20 traffic rated and all is placed in the right-of- way and NOT on private property. If you like what you see from a preliminary standpoint , please contact me @…
>
> <AIRVAC Estimate Package – Lower Keys, Florida.pdf>
> <AIRVAC Layout – Summerland, FL.pdf>
> <AIRVAC Layout – Cudjoe, FL.pdf>
> <AIRVAC Layout – Upper Sugarloaf, FL.pdf>

From: keysmyhome@hotmail.com
To: halloweencontractor@__________; neugent-george@monroecounty-fl.gov
Subject: RE: Call Me
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 07:32:19 -0500

Annos [incorrect spelling], have you informed George, or any county commissioner, of “the decision tree,” which, as I understand it, perhaps I’m mistaken, shows an employee of the grinder pump supplier called the shots in arriving at grinder pumps being used?

Sloan

From another grinder pump foe:
Sloan, In case you lost it, here is the original “decision tree” forward from Anon. I was blind-copied on several other emails from Anon that Banks has not yet distributed to the rest of the group. Anon’s email is currently down, so I am assisting with getting you your requested information.

The decision tree is reported to have been supplied by the E-one grinder salesman Randy Bell, who took credit for its earlier distribution to FKAA and Mathews Consulting during a grinder demonstration for Walt Drabinski and David Rice.

Matthews and FKAA had received a rough layout and engineer’s estimate using Vacuum sewer technology that showed an installed cost of roughly half that of an LPS grinder system prior to the appearance of the decision tree, which disallows vacuum for less than 750 connections. Airvac says 75connections is economically feasible.

The decision tree was included as the guide to be used in the Outer Islands design-build Specifications, and effectively put vacuum technology out of consideration, even as it sole-sourced E-one grinder pumps. While vacuum sewers are not nearly as desirable as gravity, they are much better suited to a large snowbird population and power outages. This is because the vacuum pit is unaffected by inactivity and the vacuum pump station typically has generator back-up. When the power is out, people can still flush, and FKAA is not replacing maybe 30-40% of the pumps every year because they seized up.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Anon Emus <halloweencontractor@___________>
Date: Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 11:53 AM
Subject: Decision tree
To: bgprevatt@__________________
Cc: Neugent-George <Neugent-George@monroecounty-fl.gov>

Here it is folks! The infamous “Decision Tree!”

It is seriously flawed the way I see it.

The only way to get Vacuum sewer is to have more than 750 connections with an average distance between connections of less than 80 feet. Baypoint and many areas of Marathon now on vacuum would likely not qualify.

The only way to get Gravity is to have more than 80 connections with more than 40 connections to a lift station and less than 65 feet average distance between connections. Although I haven’t checked, I doubt if Shark Key even qualifies (due to large lots), let alone other areas of Big Coppitt, Geiger Key, or Duck Key.

Everybody else less than 500 feet from a neighbor gets……you guessed it: a Grinder pump station in a perpetual easement on your lot! And thanks for supplying the electrical circuit, too- how ever much it costs, because we don’t really give a damn.

Any bets that this decision tree did NOT come from a grinder pump salesman?

Feel free to share. I just copied George Nugent who had wondered in an email why Vacuum was not considered as an alternate. Vacuum never had a chance, George.

Just before that arrived in my inbox, George sent me this, copied to Anon:

From: sloan bashinsky (keysmyhome@hotmail.com)
Sent: Thu 12/12/13 9:34 AM
To: George Neugent (neugent-george@monroecounty-fl.gov)
Cc: boccdis2@monroecounty-fl.gov boccdis3@monroecounty-fl.gov boccdis4@monroecounty-fl.gov boccdis5@monroecounty-fl.gov (boccdis1@monroecounty-fl.gov); tappell@fkaa.com bbarroso@fkaa.com dritz@fkaa.com mwagner@fkaa.com kzuelch@fkaa.com (jrdean@fkaa.com); erin.muir@myfloridahouse.gov (erin.muir@myfloridahouse.gov); sloan bashinsky (keysmyhome@hotmail.com)
Subject: RE: Call Me
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 09:34:58 -0500

George, it is the grinder pump opponents who do the attacking. They have convinced me grinder pumps are a really bad way to go about it.

As far as recall, last night was the first I’d heard of vacuum pumps.

I told Heather during the lunch break yesterday that she should independently speak with experts in the sewage field – engineers, electricians, plumbers, contractors, probably not located in the Keys – and see what they say about grinder pumps. I make the same suggestion to you, and to Sylvia, David and Danny. And to FKAA officials. And to Holly Raschein.

Instead of attacking me, George, why don’t you ask Anon to tell you about the so-called decision tree? What I heard is probably third-hand. Apparently, Anon has the best knowledge of it in the anti-grinder camp.

Instead of attacking county staff yesterday, why didn’t you apologize to them for not reading the email they sent you about the Cudjoe regional item being pulled?

When I bumped into Phil Shaffer last night and told him about you not reading that email and blaming Gastesi and staff, Phil said you are not keeping up.

Sloan

FKAA Board
jrdean@fkaa.com
tappell@fkaa.com
bbarroso@fkaa.com
dritz@fkaa.com
mwagner@fkaa.com
kzuelch@fkaa.com

County commission
boccdis1@monroecounty-fl.gov
boccdis2@monroecounty-fl.gov
boccdis3@monroecounty-fl.gov
boccdis4@monroecounty-fl.gov
boccdis5@monroecounty-fl.gov

Our State Representative
Honorable Holly Raschein
Her very capable secretary, Erin
erin.muir@myfloridahouse.gov

[Phil Shaffer recently stepped down as head of the local Democratic Party, George is a Republican]

George wrote back:

From: Neugent-George (Neugent-George@monroecounty-fl.gov) This sender is in your contact list.
Sent: Thu 12/12/13 10:02 AM
To: sloan bashinsky (keysmyhome@hotmail.com)
Cc: Kolhage-Danny (Kolhage-Danny@MonroeCounty-FL.Gov); tappell@fkaa.com bbarroso@fkaa.com dritz@fkaa.com mwagner@fkaa.com kzuelch@fkaa.com (jrdean@fkaa.com); erin.muir@myfloridahouse.gov (erin.muir@myfloridahouse.gov); sloan bashinsky (keysmyhome@hotmail.com)
Sloan,
First, I have not even corresponded with you other than through i guess vicarious responses to Anon. I’ve never attacked you, wouldn’t waste my time! It’s fruitless. I have been speaking to experts in the discipline for 15 years. In my previous life in the Drilling and Production, for oil and gas, Industry I’ve worked with every pump imaginable. I’m considered an expert on pumps and rheology. The abject condemnation of grinder pumps immediately disqualifies and identifies someone as either having an agenda or doesn’t know what he or she is talking about – period, end of sentence. I know about the decision tree.

What I heard is “third hand”, nuff said.

Staff didn’t deserve an apology and you don’t know enough about the situation to even suggest that. Sylvia said to me, she was not noticed either, you got that wrong also.

I don’t know Phil Shaffer and he’s as wrong as you are.
Staff should never have pulled that important item without a documented agreement and explanation to each commissioner. Never heard of a vacuum pump and hearing something 3rd hand and your wading into a 17 year old county-wide issue.

Sent from my iPad

I replied:

From: sloan bashinsky (keysmyhome@hotmail.com)
Sent: Thu 12/12/13 10:15 AM
To: George Neugent (neugent-george@monroecounty-fl.gov)
Cc: Kolhage-Danny (kolhage-danny@monroecounty-fl.gov); tappell@fkaa.com bbarroso@fkaa.com dritz@fkaa.com mwagner@fkaa.com kzuelch@fkaa.com (jrdean@fkaa.com); erin.muir@myfloridahouse.gov (erin.muir@myfloridahouse.gov)

Phi Shaffer just stepped down as head of the Keys Democratic Party after many years in that position.

Staff deserved an apology for your blaming them for not letting you know beforehand that the item was being pulled. I felt the item should not be heard yesterday, but I agreed that citizens who had drive to the meeting to oppose the item should be allowed to speak to the item, as Sylvia stated. And I did not see how you, Sylvia, or the other commissioners could make a decision without having good numbers from FKOC.

I never said you had corresponded with me about Cudjoe regional.

You addressed your email to me – keysmyhome@hotmail.com

From: Neugent-George@monroecounty-fl.gov
To: keysmyhome@hotmail.com
CC: halloween@contractor.net
Subject: Re: Call Me
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 14:06:24 +0000

OK you attack FKAA about the purported use of a grinder salesman now you’re using the word of a vacuum manufacturer rep. I see no real documentation of any cost proposal?

That was a love letter?

Do you have a grinder pump serving your home, George? Does any county commissioner have a grinder pump serving his/her home?

Talk to grinder pump experts, George, who have no stake in this situation.

Sloan

Sloan at Coco'smoi at Coco’s Kitchen, Big Pine Key, 2011, George’s county commissioner office is located on Big Pine Key

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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