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Here is the Key West Citizen’s report on last night’s city commission meeting. My interjected thoughts in italics. Further comments afterward.
cartoon borrowed from www.thebluepaper.com
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 ‘Super majority’ vote for channel dredging approved
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
City commissioners voted 6-1 Tuesday night to make it a little tougher for current or future panels to take steps for dredging the main ship channel for cruise ships.
Only a “super majority” of the commission — at least five of the seven members — can approve “any action … which could result in the widening, deepening or other alteration of Key West’s main ship channel,” according to the new local law.
A 4-3 vote is enough to approve most agenda items and install new rules or regulations.
The ordinance, brought by Commissioner Teri Johnston, came in response to a referendum Oct. 1 in which voters trounced a proposal to ask for a federal study on the impacts of dredging the harbor to better accommodate longer cruise ships.
More people voted on the referendum than voted in the mayoral race, with 74 percent of ballots cast saying “no” to the study, which Key West Chamber of Commerce members promoted.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Tony Yaniz said voters were loud and clear Oct. 1, and that he would go further in restricting cruise ships when it comes to environmental protection.
“I’m all for telling Carnival Cruise lines unless they get their act together, if they want to continue poisoning our reefs and waters, they’re not going to be welcome,” Yaniz said. “I’m not against cruise ships. I believe people in this community don’t want them at all.”
Only Commissioner Mark Rossi, who owns an entertainment complex on Duval Street and supported the study, dissented.
A super majority is also required to amend or rescind the new law.
The super majority recently proved hard to get when a proposal to allow an assisted living center on the Truman Waterfront failed when only four commissioners voted for it.
Tony Yaniz voted to put the channel dredging issue out to referendum, when he could have simply said no. He explained last night that he voted to put it out to referendum because he felt the citizens rejecting the referendum overwhelmingly would send a louder message than simply voting no to put it out to referendum. That sounds nice, but I don’t think that’s what really happened in Tony’s mind. I think he wanted the channel dredged wider, so bigger cruise ships could come into Key West, and I think when he saw during the war caused by putting it out to referendum just how badly the pro-dredging camp was doing at political forums, lying, that’s when Tony started changing his spots. That’s when he announced he would not ever go against the will of the voters, if the referendum was defeated. Or at least that’s my recollection of how it went with Tony.
During citizen comments on that item, I said in 2003, in Key West, I nearly died of MRSA. The surgeon carved three horrible MRSA infections out parts of me they did not want to know about, and they would not want to have carved out of the same parts of them. I said the surgeon, Michael Klitenick, M.D., told me after the surgery that I could do anything I wanted but go into the ocean. I said he, and every doctor in the Keys, and every diver down here, now that any nick, stratch, cut very well might result in a MRSA infection for anyone who goes into the ocean down here. I said that is not something the Tourist Development Council and the Chamber of Commerce advertise. I said in the Citizen that morning was an article reporting the TDC now can give money to undersea coral farms because they enhance tourism. I said what cruise ships dump into the sea on their way from the mainland to Key West kills coral in the farms and what living coral remains on the reef. I said they, the commissioners and mayor, have a moral duty to do all they can to stop cruise ships from calling on Key West. Stop selling them Aqueduct Authority water. Stop providing them servies at the piers. Make it hard as possible for them to call on Key West. I said they needed get their heads out of the sand. Then need to talk with DeeVon Quirolo and Jerry Weinstock, M.D. The looks on their faces was priceless. Over-joyed. I said I felt a unanimous vote should be required to overturn the channel dredging referendum.
Take a seat
The island’s homeless problem arose Tuesday in an awkward moment during a business owner’s proposal to place two wooden benches outside his ice cream shop.
Since the walkway outside Blue Gecko Key Lime Pie and Ice Cream Factory, 411 Greene St. is public property, a $200 license is required by the shop owners.
“It’s just something I want to do to help residents,” said owner Jack Alwani. “People come in all the time and they’re like, ‘Where can I sit down? I’m tired. I don’t want to go into a bar.'”
City Planner Don Craig told commissioners the building staff and the fire department did an analysis of the bench idea, finding that two benches could work without causing any problems.
Commissioner Yaniz asked Alwani how he planned to keep homeless men and women from camping out on the benches.
“If a bum comes, I can always call the police,” Alwani said at the podium.
“I think you’re supposed to call them ‘homeless,'” said Yaniz. “You cannot call the police. They have the right to sit on your bench all day long.”
Craig agreed, saying, “The homeless could use public property as long as they’re not a nuisance or breaking other ordinances.”
The argument that homeless men and women will flock to benches placed in public is what made the city yank them off the streets over the years, said Commissioner Jimmy Weekley.
Cruise ship passengers, other tourists and locals often need a spot to sit down and rest, Weekley said.
“You know what, homeless people get tired, too,” said Weekley. “You can ask them to move, generally they do. We have to be able to provide some comfort to our visitors. This gentleman here is willing to do this. Make it a comfortable, enjoyable place for our visitors and residents as well.”
The benches were approved 5-2 with Yaniz and Rossi dissenting.
City planners have recommended the ice cream shop bring the benches inside for safekeeping after closing each day.
Perhaps the 5-2 vote heralded a shift by 5 of the city commissioners toward sanity, a reversal of years of the city doing everything possible to remove any amenity homeless people might use, regardless of the hardship imposed on everyone else.
Tuesday’s meeting began with commissioners cheering on almost two dozen 8- and 9-year-old softball players who ended their 2013 season ranked ninth in the nation. Opening day for the team on Thursday was declared Key West Lady Conchs Softball Team Day.
“These impressive young women are an example of what can be accomplished with hard work, teamwork, sportsmanship and dedication,” said the proclamation, presented by Mayor Craig Cates and Commissioner Teri Johnston.
The Lady Conchs traveling softball team and coaches traveled some 4,000 miles to compete in tournaments last year.
The players named in the proclamation were: Nevaeh Arnold, Emily Bracher, Abby Collins, Chloe Gilday, Marina Goins, Miesha Hernandez, Caroline Holmes, Madeline Marciniak, Dharma Murray, Isabella Perez, Alexandra Rodriguez, Reily Ryan, Scoutt Ryan, Annie Saunders, Allison Smith, Caroline Smith, Natalina Tobin, Catherine Van Staden, Montunique Van Staden, Annabelle Vaughn, Yahaira Williams, their parents, coaches and sponsors.
At the end of the commission meeting, Teri Johnston said the city media was down when the kids were honored; it did not go out on the city TV station, the public did not get to see it; the kids should be brought back the next week, therefore. I had a very different thought, which is kids are being pushed into competitive sports way too early. Kids are supposed to play, have fun. They are not ready for competitive sports, and putting them there destroys something really important in them. Their curiosity, their creativity, their feminine. The media center being down during their award ceremony was a very loud message from Above.
The Citizen article did not report that the vote on the parking lot on Truman Waterfront was postponed after it became clear that neither city staff, nor the city commissioners and mayor, had a clue how the parking lot would be run in the money-making sense. Clayton Lopez kept saying Bahama Village is entitled to 6.2 acres of Truman Waterfront, and the parking lot is inside that 6.2 acres, and it looked to him the city is trying to steal that 6.2 acres from Bahama Village. It looked that way to me, too, and I said as much during citizen comments at the end of that meeting; and that a city-run RV campground on those 6.2 acres will be cheap to build and run, and will put a lot of money into Bahama Village. After the meeting, I told Clayton that Ron Deems, the Navy rep, had told me two commission meeting back that he did not see the Navy would have any problem with an RV campground on Truman Waterfront.
Also during closing citizen comments, I said the city needs to come up with a realistic definition of affordable housing, because right now “affordable housing” in the Keys and Key west is joke and is used to give developers whatever they want. I said affordable means people can afford it, and not just now, but five years after it is built, and ten years aft er that.
I said the way to structure the new noise ordinance, which would be hashed out in a future city commission meeting, was to impose redneck justice, which is akin to bubba justice, which pays no attention to constitutional rights. Write the new ordinance so code enforcement officers determine the noise level where it originates, not the location where the complaint is filed. Write the new ordinance so code enforcment officers can close down an establishment until the next morning, which they determine violates the oridinance. Same procedure for churches, which violate the noise ordinance. Same procedure for Harly-Davidson riders cranking up their bikes just to show of: take them off their bikes, call a towing company. Same procedure for vehicles with loud boom boxes, bass. Take the people out of the vehicles, call a towing company. No citations issues, no fines, no lawyers on either side, no court. The looks on the commissioners and mayor’s faces was priceless. Deer caught in the headlights, it seemed to me. No way, I felt, they ever really intended to pass a noise ordinance that acutally would work, that actually would be enforced.
After the meeting, City Attorney Shawn Smith told me that he was really stressed out, tired. I said he needed hormone shots. He said that would not take care of the insanity. I said, no, but it would boost his energy. To take care of the insanity, he would have to … Shawn said, walk out the door (quit). I said, yes, that would end the insanity for him. I did not think ours was idle conversation.
Former city commissioner Barry Gibson was there last night.
After the meeting, he told me, yes, if Tony Yaniz runs against Mayor Craig Cates this year, he, Barry, will run for Tony’s city commission seat, which Barry had given up when he resigned to run for Supervisor of Elections in 2012. Although I had not always agreed with Barry, I had felt he was a good city commissioner.
Barry and I pondered out loud whether Tony will file to run for mayor, which will require him to resign his city commission seat when the election results come in, regardless of whether or not he wins the mayor’s race. Barry said Tony says he is going to run for mayor, and then he says maybe not. Back and forth.
Back and forth. Barry said Tony no longer is a member of the Rotary Club, which he blasted with fuck yous in an email he sent out last year over his city commissioner email account, which email managed to end up in the hands of a local journalist, which ended up getting published in part. I got the email from the journalist and published it verbatim.
Are You fucking kidding me! Mayor should not have been allowed to politicize the meeting! I have lodged a complaint with Frankie, as well as reached out to Janice Long, Alton Weekly,and Brian Barroso, who all agreed that allowing the Mayor to make a political statement at a Rotary meeting violated the sanctity of the no politics policy of our club. You have big balls taking issue with me walking out, by the way so did Rossi. You have your priorities totally fucked up ! If anyone violated the 4 way test it was the Mayor and our Rotary Club for allowing him to do so. Are u fucking kidding me? If anyone fucked over the 4 way test it was our club, the Mayor… And obviously you for making the statement you just made. As for me… Fuck the Mayor for bringing politics into our club, fuck our club for not having the balls to tell the Mayor to stop— because they didn’t want to embarrass him , and fuck you for having the unmitigated balls to call me out on this without thinking about who really violated the 4 way test !
When Barry asked if I think Tony will run for mayor?, I said I think it will be hard for Tony to put his perch on the city commission at risk; he really likes being up on that perch, holding forth. And, he got killed with the Rotary email.
Tony does not like me. Detest, probably describes how Tony feels about me. He made a point of looking the other way as he walked by me while I was standing waiting to speak to Barry and Commissioner Clayton Lopez.
Someone well known in Key West told me the other day that Tony does not listen when this person talks with him. This person said whatever he says to Tony, Tony is drawing in a big breath, expanding his chest, itching to speak, not hearing anything this person says, only hearing Tony’s own mind.
The first time I ever saw Tony, as far as I know, was at the Hometown! PAC call to candidates in maybe April 2011, at a motel on North Roosevelt Blvd.
I was not in that race, but only went to see the event. When Tony took the mike and started talking, it was all I could do not to get up and leave. I was astounded he was elected. I could not believe Key West people actually wanted someone like that representing them.
I had a dream about Tony last night. He was in Mexico, running a crime syndicate with fingers in America. I simply report the dream. It may be metaphorical. In any event, it revealed that the angels are not happy with Tony. Nor is anyone who talks with me about him. Not happy is an understatement. They detest him.
I think the odds are around 100 percent that I will file to run for mayor this year. Tony will not show well at candidate forums. He will not be able to control the topics. He will not be able to talk as much as he wants to talk. He will like me a lot less after the first forum, than he likes me now. He will like me even less, and even less, after the ensuing forums.
Same might be said for Mayor Craig Cates.
What has Craig accomplished since he was first elected in 2009? He got the School Board to give Key West Glynn Archer Elementary School for the new city hall, which the School Board was itching to do any way, to apologize for selling Harris School to an out of state developer, instead of giving it to the city.
How much will the new city hall end up costing the city? When will the new city hall be done and open for business. That’s the only reason I hear Craig giving for wanting yet another term, and yet another term: he wants to see his city hall finished while he is in office.
During closing commissioner comments in last night’s meeting, Tony said he had talked with the various law enforcement offices about reopening the spring break court this year, so college kids who come down here and get drunk on the beaches and around Duval Street won’t end up with crimes on their records – first offenders get off with a warning. Craig said he will not support the city letting kids get drunk in Key West.
Afterward, I told Craig that will be interesting. I said I was a drunk kid during spring break in Daytona. I knew that population. Good luck controlling them. Good luck not getting the bars and booze distributors all up in arms. Craig said he raised three children in Key West, he can not go along with what kids do during spring break. I said I agree, but good luck enforcing it. I said I will pray for him.
Key West is a party town. It is a raunchy town. It has been that way a long time. It is its reputation. I don’t see that changing.
Anyone wishing to see a comprehensive treatment of my spiritual views and related (backup) experiences can do so by opening the
- Life is a strange tale, far stranger than Key West, where it is said the weird turn pro: a gospel of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Judas, a reincarnation of Paul
page in the top header of www.goodmorningkeywest.com. I don’t imagine it will be well-received among church poeple. Nor, perhaps among any people. Nobody is twisting anyone’s arm to read it. Nobody twists anyone’s arm to read anything I publish.
When I recite the Pledge of Allegiance at city commission and other government meetings, I leave out “under God” because that was not part of the Pledge when I learned it in grammar school, and because all nations are under God, although few nations, if any, do God’s will.