Sunday, January 28, 2007

Questions For The Annual Meeting

For those attending the TAMPOA Annual Meeting tomorrow, here are some questions to think about and put to those in charge.

Just how much of our money has the TAMPOA Board spent to date on the Southard street litigation on The Andersen Firms fees? How much on each lawyer from Andersen? How many hours has each lawyer put in that we were charged for? What is the hourly rate of each lawyer who has worked on the litigation?

Just how much money has the TAMPOA board spent on attorneys who are not from the Andersen Firm on the Southard Street litigation? How much on each lawyer? How many hours has each lawyer put in that we were charged for? What is the hourly rate of each lawyer who has worked on the litigation?

What amount of money is still owed the Andersen Firm for the Southard Street litigation? For other matters?

What amount of money is still owed other attorneys for the Southard street litigation? For other matters?

What does Andersen say will be the cost of future work through the trial of the law suit?

What does Andersen say will be the cost to go through Summary Judgment. (Often cases are decided by the judge without a trial when on certain issues there is no dispute among the parties over the material facts. For example, there may be no dispute about the fact that the City of Key West refused to honor the Contract it entered into with TAMPOA, but only whether the contract was a lawful one. The City's defense is that the contract was not lawful. The judge could decide this issue without a full blown trial, that is, decide the issue by awarding summary judgment to one side or the other.) So, let's find out what the attorneys' fees will be through summary judgment. They should be significantly less than a full blown trial.

What makes the TAMPOA Board think that the City will honor any settlement? After all the City failed to honor the last contract.

What makes the TAMPOA Board think that the City wants to settle the case?

Why are the TAMPOA attorneys, i.e., The Andersen Firm, taking 30 depositions? How will these depositions answer the question of who owns Southard Street, which is the City's primary defense to the litigation? Many of the witnesses to be deposed appear to have nothing to do with who owns the street, but appear to be witnesses to the incident at the guard house with Commissioner Lopez. Judge Mark Jones has already told TAMPOA that incident is not relevant to the current litigation and will have to be raised in a separate lawsuit. Is TAMPOA planning more litigation, like going to Federal Court on some cock-a-mamy reverse condemnation lawsuit? What is the estimate of the cost of that? And who will be the lawyers representing TAMPOA? The Andersen Firm?

What efforts, if any, have been made to rain in the Andersen Firm and limit spending on the Southard street litigation? What instructions have been given the firm about its billing practices, such as itemizing the specific work done, the hours expended, the name of the lawyer performing the work, and the hourly billing rate of the attorney. We have had occasion to see some of the Andersen Firm's billing in the past and it has been very general -- more on the order of "For Professional Services: X dollars." Only a naive client would accept such a bill in major litigation.

Is the gate on Southard Street still a matter of contention with the City? What were the specific proposals made to the City about the gate? (We're not talking about the flapping arms which every knows the City would never agree to, much less issue permits for). Was the gate part of the proposal give to Commissioner Verge in this latest round of failed negotiations?

Why, if Tukey knows, did Shawn Smith and Verge reject this latest offer, which seemed like a pretty sweet deal for the City?

Since, if you want to believe the Citizen, which we don't, Verge appeared to disagree with TAMPOA's proposal, why was the proposal ever made in the first place, unless Verge did a switch-a-roo at the last minute? If this happened and Verge was initially in favor of the proposal, what makes the TAMPOA Board think that it can trust anything that Verge says? Remember, he voted against the last mediated settlement after assuring all he favored it? Why does the TAMPOA Board think it can trust the City at all? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that the City Commissioners hate TAMPOA and Truman Annex; are going to do what they want; have no intention of settling the Southard Street dispute; and when the case goes to trial, will blame any adverse outcome on the judge and appeal, while residents of the Annex and the rest of Key West finance the adventure.

Has the very real possibility occurred to the attorneys the TAMPOA Board has representing them that TAMPOA could win the lawsuit with the City and still lose the Southard Street controversy, that is, obtain a ruling that TAMPOA owns Southard Street, but come out worse for it.? It all has to do with a concept called equity. Southard Street has been open and a two-way street since the beginning of Truman Annex. A judge could find that TAMPOA owns Southard street but then rule that the street is to be two way and must stay accessible to all, including the Navy, 24 / 7. While the City would have breached the contract it had with TAMPOA, there would be no consequences, except that the court would rule TAMPOA owns the street. Thus, TAMPOA would have spent, by that time, a million or more with nothing to show for it. In short, the equities would favor keeping the status quo, and our money spent on the litigation would have been wasted.

What is the new TAMPOA Board planning to do as far as who negotiates with the City? Are they prepared to let someone other than Tom Tukey play that role? The reality is that the City residents hate Tom Tukey, as does the City Commission, despite what Verge may say to his face. A new negotiator might be helpful in changing the negotiation climate. This is nothing personal against Tukey, but merely a recognition that as a negotiator, he has done all he can, and it's time for a substitution.

What has the Navy said about the gate? Has it said that there must be access 24 / 7 ? If so, how will pedestrian Navy personnel be accommodated when they want to come past the guard house in the wee hours of the morning? Will they have gate keys or will the guardhouse be open 24 hours a day?

What plans, if any, does the TAMPOA Board have to improve communication with the TAMPOA membership? Is the Board going to improve the TAMPOA website?

At a minimum the TAMPOA Board should have to respond to these questions from the membership. If you go to the Annual Meeting, don't let the Board off the hook. Get some answers!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

New Leadership Is Needed On The TAMPOA Board

We've been accused of being disparaging in our call for a change in the leadership of the TAMPOA Board. Our accuser thinks we were too hard on the Board members because they are only volunteers. Apparently our accuser also dislikes the fact that we have referred to the Board members by name. He calls us "cowardly."

We hardly think calling for a change in the TAMPOA Board leadership qualifies as character assassination. Calling us names will not change our view about the need for new leadership. We don't think we are cowardly. We didn't notice anyone else from within the Annex bloging about the failed policies of the current TAMPOA Board at the time we started this blog. And judging by the comments we receive, we've been called a lot of things, but hardly cowardly.

We readily acknowledge that the Board is composed of volunteers and that volunteering is a good thing. But if you volunteer and you screw up, the fact that you are a volunteer doesn't inoculate you from criticism of your behavior. It's not the people we disagree with, it's their policies. If the Board reversed course tomorrow, we'd be the first to applaud that action. In fact, there are many policies of the Board with which we agree.

We were not the first Annex residents to call for a change in Board leadership. In fact, there have been calls for the entire Board to resign, as well as talk of a recall, a sentiment we did not support. We think we've been more than patient in trying to give the Board reasons to change -- hoping and hoping they would do so. But most of them (not all) were stuck in fast forward.

The messages that Board members were wrong in their policies about Southard street have been legion. They received a large amount of e-mail and letters from TAMPOA members -- their constituents -- and we published a number of those emails or letters. The Board, as near as we can tell, continued on its set course.

Now there is an opportunity as well as a need for new leadership. The most recent Southard Street settlement proposal has not received a positive response from the City. Two new Board members will arrive following the Annual Meeting. If there is to be a change in leadership on the TAMPOA Board, this seems to be the right time. The new Board members-to-be offer new hope for change. They should have a chance, along with Jim Hall, the current Vice President, to effect some change in policies and direction. That's why we said the current officers left should step down and new officers should take their leadership positions.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Following The Money

Tom Tukey was quoted in the Citizen of January 22, 2007 as denying that TAMPOA had spent $170,000 in legal fees so far in the Southard Street dispute. "We have not spent $750,000, but we have spent a massive amount of money," Tukey said. What does his denial mean? That TAMPOA has spent more than that, less than that, or not exactly that?

Annex residents continue to get monetary double-speak from the TAMPOA Board while their assessments keep going up and up. It's high time for some clear answers and the truth. While Tukey continually claims that one cannot believe what Annex residents read in the Citizen, he fails to provide clear answers when asked simple questions like: What is the amount of the Andersen Firm's current bill? What amount is currently owed to the Andersen Firm? What is the total amount spent on the Southard Street litigation? Has TAMPOA spent $170,000 in legal fees on the Southard Street litigation? If not how much has been spent? How much will the new round of depositions cost? How hard can it be for the TAMPOA Board and its President to level with TAMPOA members on the answers to those questions?

Either the Board knows the answers and won't tell or it doesn't know the answers. If the Board knows the answers and won't tell, then it should just say, "We're not telling," and take the consequences of that behavior. If the Board and its President do not know the answers, then who has been minding the legal cash register for the last several years? And when asked by the media, how much has been spent on the litigation, why provide an answer to the media that everyone knows is either false or misleading when the goal is (we hope) to have TAMPOA members continue to support the Board's Southard Street policies?

And don't tell us that the answers are going to be provided by some Power Point "show" contemplated to entertain at the Annual Meeting. Just tell us the truth. Also, if money will be discussed at the Annual Meeting -- as almost surely it will -- have Attorney Bill Andersen there so he can (from the horse's mouth so to speak) explain his billings.

What Annex residents hate most of all are surprises like the recent Citizen story. For a time, we thought that Tukey and the Board had learned that they had to communicate with TAMPOA members more regularly than the occasional pablum newsletter that is infrequently updated on the TAMPOA website when the dues statements go out. Obviously we were wrong, and this TAMPOA Board still doesn't get the old adage that all politics is local. The Board's uncaring attitude about communicating with its constituents convinces us that it is time for entirely new leadership on the Board. Thankfully, Paula Ryals will be gone from the Board. Phil Wilson is also leaving the Board. Except for Jim Hall, who appears lately to be the only one on the Board exhibiting some common sense, the rest of the officers should step down and allow some new leadership to govern. Perhaps then the Board and Truman Annex will no longer be judged so harshly in the community.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Governor Crist's Plain Language Initiative

Governor Charlie Crist gets kudos for requiring state agencies to use language in their communications that ordinary humans can understand.

However, his idea and effort are not novel. In fact, he borrowed the idea from the federal government and the efforts of the Clinton Administration. President Clinton created something called the Plain Language Initiative with a Memorandum For the Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies issued on June 1, 1998. Clinton effort followed attempts by several former presidents to bring plain language to the federal bureaucracy. Check out the history here.

Maybe Governor Crist will have more success than President Clinton did in reigning in bureaucrat speak.

In Key West, the problem is not merely city bureau-speak, but officials for whom truth sometimes seems to be a foreign language.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why Did TAMPOA Offer To Rent Southard Street?

Many unanswered questions remain after the rejection of TAMPOA's proposal to the City to rent Southard Street for $20,000 a year for thirty years. Among the questions is whose idea was it to submit such a proposal. Unless you firmly believe that Tom Tukey is completely nuts, this idea did not come from Tukey, although he likely will take the fall for it. Was the idea that of another TAMPOA Board member? We can think of several who might as a joke appear to be that stupid, but few, including Tukey, who would put forward the idea without serious encouragement. We may never know whose idea it really was, but Tukey and the other Board members should certainly be asked at the TAMPOA Annual Meeting on January 29. The TAMPOA membership is entitled to know who was responsible for seriously suggesting an idea filled with such a lack of judgment. If it was a Board member, whose term is not up, that person or persons should not occupy a leadership position on the new Board.

Another question is whether the proposal was a serious one and not either a joke or the result of some strategic (though idiotic) litigation strategy. We doubt it was a joke. If it was a litigation strategy designed to one up the City and to allow a later claim that the City rejected a settlement proposal that had minimal cost and would have gotten the City wide open access to Southard Street, what this future claim does for TAMPOA depends on why it is necessary to show that the City rejected the offer. We don't know what other strings were attached, if any, to the offer. As the news media reported the offer, there was no mention of a gate or even traffic patterns, something TAMPOA in the past has been adamant about. That both the gate and the traffic seem to have fallen away in the offer is odd. If so, could it be that TAMPOA attorneys have finally looked at the deed from the Navy to Pritam Singh and figured out (or been told by the Navy) that there can be no Southard Street gate? That would certainly explain the lack of any mention in the discussion of the offer of a gate or traffic. What the precise contours of the offer to the City were is something the TAMPOA Board should tell the membership.

A final unanswered question involves, once again, the cost of the Southard Street litigation. Why the need for 30 deposition subpoenas? Much of the information to be gathered has nothing to do with who owns Southard. Some of it has to do with events the judge has said must be the subject of a separate lawsuit, namely, the events at the Southard street guardhouse involving Commissioner Lopez. Why is the Andersen Firm spending TAMPOA's money that way? Is this a case of over billing? Supposedly the TAMPOA Board and its attorneys are going to provide the membership with a breakdown of the legal fees at the Annual Meeting. Why the need to spend $35,000 or more dollars for these depositions when few will answer the question TAMPOA claims is critical: who owns Southard Street? The Annex residents deserve some answers to these questions from the TAMPOA Board and the Andersen Firm.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Truth And Trusting, Tukey Style

Tom Tukey had been telling many Annex residents back in December that he and Bill Verge were virtually in agreement on a plan to resolve the Southard street dispute. His plan at that time was for he and Verge to agree. Then they'd get Shawn Smith (the City Attorney) on board and he'd talk to the Commissioners. Then there would be a closed (secret) session of the Commissioners who would take up the matter and (presumably) give it the O.K. -- or at least that's what Tukey was saying to TAMPOA members he spoke to. (That O.K. would have had to come, obviously, in open session, one would think. How, if this was the plan, it was going to be kept secret is beyond us.)

The plan was so idiotic that when we heard about it, we thought Tukey was joking. A number of people we know thought so too and advised Tukey the plan wasn't going to work. This advice, like other advice Tukey was given, was ignored.

Now "the proposed agreement" is all over the Citizen and out in the open. The fallout is just beginning. Shawn Smith and Bill Verge who were supposed to be in on the deal (according to Tukey) didn't see any future in taking it to the Commissioners.

The proposal itself was such a brainless idea, some are saying it could only have been suggested by TAMPOA Attorney, Bill Andersen. On the other hand, what is more likely is that Verge took it to Shawn Smith who effectively said, 'you've got to be kidding' and then Verge back tracked and said, yeah you're right. In any case, once again, TAMPOA appears to have been taken and looks stupid.

What Annex residents should be concerned about is whether the TAMPOA Board and its President were leveling with the residents when he was opining that he and Verge were close to a deal. Either that was not true or Tukey is one of the most naive and trusting people on the planet. At what point will he get it (having been told by many he has asked that his ideas for a settlement and that Verge could be trusted were totally crazy)?

All this should make for interesting discussions at the TAMPOA Annual Meeting on January 29. The fact that such an idiotic proposal would actually be put forth raises questions about the efficacy of Tukey's leadership as President of TAMPOA and certainly his effectiveness as a negotiator. It is probably time for him to step down as President and let new leadership take over.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Is TAMPOA Actually Lowering Property Values?

TAMPOA Board President, Tom Tukey, says that TAMPOA must not lose its fight with the City over Southard because that will cause property values in the Annex to fall, and the Board has a fiduciary responsibility to the Annex residents to prevent this. Tukey also argues that the TAMPOA Board can be sued by Annex residents if it fails to vindicate that it owns Southard Street. He also argues that property values will fall and residents may blame the Board if the Board does not erect a gate at Southard Street. Whatever one thinks of how these positions may play out in the courts, a legitimate question to ask is whether these positions are already having the very effect on property values the Board fears? The answer is just possibly.

TAMPOA has more than doubled the assessments to Annex residents over the last year to pay for the exorbitant legal fees it has run up with the Andersen Firm, much of which TAMPOA still owes. The intransigence and foolhardiness of the TAMPOA Board in handling the whole matter has disgraced many Annex residents with their friends and colleagues in the rest of the City, a fact that Tukey tacitly acknowledges in his current newsletter to Annex residents appearing on TAMPOA's website. In a nice bit of spin he then goes on to claim that because those outside the Annex just don't have the facts, Annex residents really haven't actually been embarrassed by the Board's actions even if they feel that way.

Many Annex residents see no end in sight to the financial and social madness of the Board and are throwing in the towel. Their houses are for sale, lots of them. The problem is that no one is buying. As a result, prices are falling. Houses that once could be sold for more than a million one are now being listed in the 900,000 range, almost 200,000 less, in just a year.

It's a buyers' market now, and in the Annex that can't all be chalked up to a national trend. Much of it has to be chalked up to the TAMPOA Board and its litigation financial excesses. One realtor, we spoke with noted that unless someone gets a heck of a deal, no one who knows anything about what's going on in the Annex would buy here now. Referring to the litigation and the dramatic rise in TAMPOA Board assessments, he went on to indicate that things are too uncertain. One seller we spoke with asked, rhetorically, what he was going to say when a prospective buyer inquired about the TAMPOA assessments and how much they are likely to go up.

The bottom line is that home prices in Truman Annex are falling. The TAMPOA Board has succeeded in doing what it didn't want to happen, and this one reality of its failed policies has not yet sunk in.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why We Publish The TAMPOA Board's Minutes

One of our readers, an Annex owner, questions why we publish the TAMPOA Board minutes. He accuses us of publishing the TAMPOA Board Minutes for motives other than being informative to Annex residents. With a bit of twisted logic this "owner" suggests that we could be not acting in the best interests of Annex owners since the minutes are emailed to the owners. As usual his logic omits several facts.

First, not all owners have email addresses. He would know this if he had bothered to pick up a resident's directory from the TAMPOA office. This directory lists not only the owners' names and addresses but their email also.

Second, the minutes are not mailed to the owners. Anyone who does not have email (or has not provided an email address to TAMPOA) will not get the minutes.

Third, the minutes are not published on the TAMPOA website, although they should be. This blog fills that communication gap. From the contact we've had with owners, most of them appreciate our efforts. We suspect that, while he won't say so, this owner also appreciates our efforts, for otherwise he would have no one to whine to. (We don't see his style of posts on other Key West Blogs.).

Fourth, not all residents of TAMPOA are owners. Some are long term renters. They are apart of the Annex community and deserve to know how the Board is acting, since they are governed by the Board's rules. Many of them eventually become owners.

Fifth, we publish news of interest to Annex residents as well as the Key West community, and the TAMPOA Board's minutes contain news. We could edit them, as a newspaper would do, but then folks like Anonymous would gripe that we had left out important parts. So, we publish them without editing, and let our readers judge the content.

Sixth, we get the feeling that this owner thinks that by publishing the Board's minutes we are somehow aiding the enemy, whoever that may be in his head. Unfortunately, that is the kind of thinking that has made the residents of Key West hate the Annex. They get the (perhaps unintended) message that folks like this owner think of them as the enemy. We don't have the "we / them" phobia that this owner seems to exhibit in his comments. We hope that by full and open communication, instead of being Annex residents and City residents, we can all be just Key West residents. Wouldn't that be something to achieve in 2007?

This owner also suggests that it is "too bad that the bahama village consortium [lack of capitals his] does not publish their minutes." He assumes they have or keep minutes, but nonetheless we agree with the concept that an organization that purports to represent a community and has minutes should make them widely available to its constituents. Unfortunately, the TAMPOA Board doesn't do this on the TAMPOA website so it is hard to criticize some other organization for not publishing their minutes. And, if we could get the Bahama Village Consortium's minutes (assuming they exist) and they were newsworthy, we might consider publishing them. However, we think it is likely that the Bahama Village Blog likely will do that job nicely without interference from us.

Finally, this owner wonders whether we will be publishing the City Commissioners' depositions from the "TAMPOA v. City" Southard street litigation. If we were to obtain copies, depending on their content, we certainly would consider publishing newsworthy portions of them. The reality, however, is that the depositions are likely to be too long to publish verbatim on this blog and would have to be excerpted -- since lawyers can ask questions in depositions that they might not be able to ask at trial and witnesses can say things that might not be admissible at trial. In addition, in some litigation, certainly in federal court, the depositions are not routinely filed with the Clerk of Courts, but are retained in the attorneys' file until needed for a specific purpose such as a Motion for Summary Judgment. Even then, initially only excerpts are filed and opposing counsel has the right to file the other pertinent parts. This procedure is designed to save filing space in the Clerk of Court's Office, since depositions in any one case can be voluminous. The depositions, therefore, may be hard to obtain. Depending on the skill of the attorney(s) asking the questions, the depositions (of all the parties) may, indeed, be interesting.

The Skeptics Guide to Debunking Global Warming

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the outgoing Chairman of Environment & Public Works Committee, announced the public release of the Senate Committee published booklet entitled “A Skeptic’s Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism. Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge To Journalists who Cover Global Warming.”

How can people think this way? Especially if you live in the Keys.

Click here for a copy.

The Housing Bubble

Cayo Dave, who has commented on this blog, has an interesting post on his Key West Chronicle Blog about the housing bubble that seems to be born out by national statistics. Check it out.

Another Word of Thanks

We want to add our thanks to The Real Key West for mentioning this blog in a recent post and for linking to us.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hold On To Your Wallets

The Florida Legislature meets in special session today to consider a compromise hurricane insurance bill, dubbed the Insurance Industry Accountability and Consumer Protection Act. Representatives from Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) and other groups will be in Tallahassee to continue to pressure legislators.

The one big thing that is not in the legislation is a provision preventing the insurance companies from charging increased rates before they are approved by he Office of Insurance Regulation. This is the practice (the so called "use and file" practice) which allowed Citizens Insurance and others to set and charge the rate hikes they did and only later file for approval of those hikes with the Office of Insurance Regulation.

This practice, which is unethical at best, allows the companies to rake in millions and keep that money until the Insurance Commissioner orders them to return it. In effect the practice makes consumers the insurance companies' bankers, providing involuntary loans that cannot collect until the Office of Insurance Regulation steps in. In short, the consumer is forced to pay the premium increase (even if the increase is later disapproved) or risk either going without insurance or not being able to get insurance later.

Without a provision banning this unsavory practice, the insurance companies will still be in the drivers seat as far as rates are concerned even when it comes to negotiating with the Office of Insurance Regulation.

Affordabe Housing And Other Issues Wait

Here is an interesting take on the affordable housing issue that faces Key West. The question is when the City Commission will get around to seeing the light before it's too late. The City Commissioners approved more transient rental units Old Town but can't seem to get around to tackling the though issues facing the City. The isues for the City (affordable housing, the Duck Tours' judgment which is sucking taxpayers' money down an interest hole, the Truman Waterfront, chosing a new City Manager, the out of control day and night drug selling on city streets, and others) just seem to be piling up. The City Commission appears to be waiting for a crisis to occur before it has the political will (translated gumption) to really tackle them. Instead, the Commission seems to be in a holding pattern waiting for the fog to clear.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Politics As Usual

The approval by the City Commission, acting as the Board of Adjustment, of Pritam Singh's plan for a dozen vacation rentals at the warehouse at Greene and Simonton in Old Town proves, as if any proof was needed, that when it comes to neighborhoods and property rights, it's politics as usual. The City Commission acted to approve the Singh project despite it having been turned down by City Planner, Gail Kenson. She had denied his request to move the leftover units from the old Hampton Inn, which Singh is turning into condos, to Old Town. Singh then appealed her denial to the Board of Adjustment. Although Kenson supported her denial, the City Commission, acting as the Board of Adjustment, approved (with one dissenting vote) the Singh proposal.

One would have thought that there was no love lost between the City Commission and Singh. However, the Commission keeps approving his projects, including the latest one to bring more transient rentals to Old Town neighborhoods, something the Commissioners are on record as not favoring.

Consistency has not been the City Commission's strong suit. But, it's likely that there is more to this deal with Singh than is being revealed. One can only speculate that the City Commissioners need Singh's help for something and know that if they expect to get it, this deal had to be part of the mix. Our guess is that the Commissioners may think that they will need some helpful testimony from Singh, regarding the transfer of Southard Street from the Navy, in their spat with TAMPOA. Of course, no matter how skeptical one is of the motives of the Commission, we'll never know if the real impetus for the Singh deal was anything other than just good old boy politics. It's Key West, after all. What the Commission does doesn't have to make sense. Don't you just love it?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

More Photos From The Eco Discovery Center

Here and below are some more photos from the Eco Discovery Center.

Aquarius Undersea Lab DSC_0253, originally uploaded by pixport.

Underwater Research Lab DSC_0247, originally uploaded by pixport.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bank Reef Exhibit At Eco Discovery Center

Here's a larger photo of the Bank Reef Exhibit at the Eco Discovery Center.

The Eco Discovery Center Bank Reef Exhibit

Here is a photo taken at the Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center. The exhibit in the photo is the Reef Banks exhibit. We hope you were able to visit the Center during the Grand Opening today.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Eco Discovery Center Grand Opening

We want to congratulate the Eco Discovery Center as it celebrates its Grand Opening Saturday, January 13, 2007. The exhibits at the Center are phenomenal and are appropriate for children and adults alike. Many offer a hands-on learning experience. We hope our readers will attend the Grand Opening and will continue to visit the Center and support its fine work.

Residents Respond To Tampoa Board Letter

The Tampoa Board has received many letters in response to its September 27, 2006 letter to Truman Annex residents in which Tampoa tried to explain its recent actions regarding Southard Street. We published Tampoa's letter here shortly after we received it. Many Truman Annex residents are furious with the Tampoa Board. Here is a letter we obtained that responds to the Board's September 27, 2006 letter to the TAMPOA membership:

To: Sterling Christian [Tampoa Operations Director]
Subject: Re: Letter to the TAMPOA Board of Directors
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2006 13:09:59 -0400

We read it. Now, please see that the Board gets this reply. Thanks.

Dear Board Members:

Once again, there has been horrible publicity in the newspaper. The articles of a couple of days ago were not unfair criticism of Tampoa; they were reports, with photos, of an actual event. We are not asked for "names and destinations" when we pass thru the Meadows or Bahama Village or Old Town or New Town. How does this Board have the audacity to ask others?

We have heard many times before all of the history outlined in the 9/27 letter to "Dear Neighbors." (Hah! You are not representing us in a very neighborly fashion, for sure.) We acknowledge that dealing with the City is frustrating. But the guards stopping vehicles on Southard is a new highly embarrassing stunt---pure grandstanding---that everyone can see thru. Tampoa looks foolish, exclusionary and hostile. Our understanding is that you have been ordered to cease and desist.

Your rationale of "waiver" for this latest antic is spurious. We have always exerted control---witness the guardhouse and locked gates---and have never relinquished this legal position in court documents. So there was absolutely no need to ask for names and destinations. How did this outrage benefit our community? If this was your attorney's "advice," you need a new attorney. Apparently, you were more concerned about being "sued for negligence" than acting in a reasonable manner. We venture to say the greater concern for you is being replaced by a new Board rather than a personal lawsuit.

Your letter also misleads the homeowners about eminent domain. It is NOT explicitly prohibited for the purposes of economic development. If your attorney has told you this, then his knowledge is sorely lacking---there was a (controversial) U.S. Supreme Court decision this last year to the contrary!

WHAT TO DO? We don't agree that "it's up to the Commission." It is up to you, too. If you believe you can't go any further in discussion, compromise and mediation, then think about resigning and let a new less-tired voice be heard.

Bill Verge informs me that he has been in weekly touch with Tom Tukey, trying to resolve the issue by mutual agreement. He proposes a "joint management agreement" for Southard, which sounds emminently reasonable. The Navy will open United for its use, relieving some traffic. The City is in agreement with steel gates that would be closed from 10 PM to 7AM. He says the current sticking point is that the Board wants drop arm gates in addition. Give it up! We don't need security in the daytime. And how about telling the homeowners about the progress so far.

The Board sets forth maintaining property values as the primary basis for this continuing, and expensive, brouhaha. We daresay that more stunts like you pulled this last week will do a lot more to bring down property values! Which persons who think they would like to own (expensive) property in Key West because of its well-known friendly, tolerant, accepting environment would want to live in an exclusionary, hostile, disliked, litiginous neighborhood? You are slowly but surely ruining our community, whether you comprehend that or not.

A couple of years [ago], Tom Tukey asked a important question: What can we do to improve our PR image? Whatever the Board thought is was then, what does it think it is now?

With sincere concern,
[Names Withheld]
[Residents of Truman Annex]

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Annex Residents Question The Attorneys' Fees

When he got his quarterly TAMPOA bill in the mail, one Annex resident quipped: "I just received my quarterly TAMPOA fees in the mail. All that was missing was the postman wearing a mask and carrying a gun. How did it get this far? What a disgrace."

In the letter that follows, the residents wrote to the TAMPOA Board (as did others) asking legitimate questions about their assessment for the Andersen Firm's attorneys' fees. They never received the courtesy of a reply from the Board. Is it any wonder people are unhappy with the way the current board and its officers behave? Here is their letter:

December 12, 2006


Can you please tell me why the normal $800 assessment jumped to $1150 per quarter this billing cycle? You have 2 emergency assessments on the bill for the litigation a Total of $400 from each member. Are you now hiding more assessments ($350) in our normal quarterly bill? As I read my statement I am paying $750 this quarter for legal fees which is almost the same as my normal assessment of $800. That’s ($750 X 250 members = $187,500) this quarter alone. How can anyone support your efforts if the information is unclear at best!!

Hey! What’s going on?

[Name Withheld]

TAMPOA Board Minutes of December 4, 2006

For those interested, here are the minutes of the TAMPOA Board meeting of December 4, 2006 that were approved at the Board's January 8, 2007 meeting:

201 Front Street, Suite 103, Key West, FL
December 4, 2006
APPROVED January 8, 2007


President Tom Tukey called the Board of Directors meeting to order at 4:05 PM.


President Tom Tukey, Treasurer Harold Berry, Secretary Paula Ryals and Director Phil Wilson were present. Vice President Jim Hall, Director Becky Baumann and Director Frank Serio were present via speakerphone. A quorum was present. Operations Director Sterling Christian was present on behalf of Management.


The Association’s Operations Director Sterling Christian provided proof of meeting notice by affidavit.


Director Becky Baumann moved to approve the minutes of the prior Board of Directors meeting of October 2, 2006. Vice President Jim Hall seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Director Phil Wilson moved to approve the minutes of the prior special Board of Directors meeting of October 23, 2006. Treasurer Harold Berry seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Treasurer Harold Berry moved to approve the minutes of the prior executive session Board of Directors meeting of November 13, 2006. Director Phil Wilson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


President’s Report:

President Tom Tukey reviewed the various procedural matters surrounding the litigation with the City of Key West. Tom indicated that he would be discussing various matters including:

· A summary of settlement efforts made by Commissioner Bill Verge

· Schedule for TAMPOA to meet with Navy representatives

· Town meeting with Commissioner Bill Verge scheduled for December 13

· Discussions with Bahama Village Consortium with reference to common ground

· Requests to Attorney David Rogel in reference to special assessments

· Review of title insurance options

· Polling the membership on various matters surrounding the litigation

· Efforts to move litigation to Federal court

· Court procedures including the taking of depositions

Tom indicated that he was working with Commissioner Verge to arrange a meeting with the new City Attorney and our counsel in reference to possibly reaching an acceptable settlement arrangement that Commissioner Verge could then present to the other City Commissioners in an effort to ultimately resolve the matter.

President Tom Tukey indicated that Commissioner Verge has scheduled a town meeting to be held at the ferry terminal at the Historic Seaport on Wednesday, December 13 at 7:00 PM.

Treasurer Harold Berry moved to notify the TAMPOA general membership of the Wednesday, December 13, 2006 town meeting at the ferry terminal at the Historic Seaport with Commissioner Verge at 7:00 PM. Secretary Paula Ryals seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

President Tom Tukey noted that Commissioner Verge had proposed a traffic plan which converts many of the Bahama Village streets to one way and opens up approximately 100 parking spaces in the community. Commissioner Verge has said that the Bahama Village Consortium supports his plan.

President Tom Tukey indicated that Peggy Rolando of the law firm Shutts & Bowen LLP had provided a title opinion that TAMPOA owns all the streets in the Truman Annex. Tom also indicated that counsel has suggested purchasing a title insurance policy. Tom noted that the suggestion was made to ask that a written proposal be submitted to TAMPOA detailing the specifics of the purchase of the title policy. Treasurer Harold Berry moved to ask the law firm of Shutts & Bowen LLP to provide a commitment proposal for the maximum amount of coverage available. Director Phil Wilson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

President Tom Tukey indicated that the general goals of the Board of Directors have always been the protection of property values and rights, the upholding of a contract, reasonable access by the public to the projected waterfront park and security for our residents.

President Tom Tukey reviewed the suggestion that Attorney David Rogel be asked if there were any specific requirements for the Board approving special assessments to fund the litigation with the City of Key West. Secretary Paula Ryals moved to request a legal opinion from Attorney David Rogel in reference to what actions were necessary for the approval of special assessments to fund litigation matters. Treasurer Harold Berry seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

President Tom Tukey reviewed whether it may be appropriate to send a straw poll to the general membership in reference to the various matters surrounding the litigation with the City. Tom indicated that such a poll could be included in the second notice of the annual meeting.

President Tom Tukey suggested that the Board of Directors approve of meeting with the Bahama Village Consortium in an effort to determine if the two organizations share common ground in the efforts to maintain the Truman waterfront property as a community park. Treasurer Harold Berry moved to approve of meeting with the Bahama Village Consortium in an effort to reach common ground to support the development of the Truman waterfront property as a park. Secretary Paula Ryals seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Treasurer’s Report:

The Board of Directors agreed to delay discussion of the Association’s finances until all other items on the agenda had been discussed.


Operations Director Sterling Christian indicated that the owners of Building 21 had asked for approval to install an emergency generator. Sterling explained that the Board’s policy on such approvals required the Board of Director’s review for multi unit buildings. Sterling explained that the emergency generator that the owners of Building 21 had requested approval to install was for a 45 kW generator. Sterling noted that the Board’s existing approval for such installations was limited to 35 kW generators that did not exceed a 75-db rating. Sterling indicated that the larger generator complied with the approved noise level rating. Treasurer Harold Berry moved to approve of the installation as an exception for the 45 kW generator. Vice President Jim Hall seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The Board of Directors unanimously agreed to defer discussion on ancillary financial matters until all other items on the agenda had been discussed.


The Board of Directors agreed to invite the members of the Shipyard Board of Directors and their guests to the TAMPOA social.

The Board of Directors reviewed the menu options for the annual social.

Operations Director Sterling Christian asked the Board to clarify security procedures for operation of the guardhouse. Sterling asked the Board’s preference as to continuing to wave individuals through the gate during the daytime, inquire as to an unidentified vehicle’s destination at night and to continue the weekday daytime shift at the gate. The Board of Directors unanimously agreed to continue all three procedures until further notice.

Treasurer Harold Berry reviewed the Association’s November 30, 2006 year to date financial statements. Harold reviewed Operations Director Sterling Christian’s report to the Board which detailed that:

· An additional $16,600 of unbudgeted general revenue was generated from Rental Registration Fees.

· Maintenance – Walls, Fences & Signs includes repainting all metal fences, gates and masonry walls.

· Maintenance – Miscellaneous includes the installation of cameras at the guard house.

· Landscaping – Plantings, Sod Replacement, and Mulch include all the new landscaping.

· The initial special assessment for landscaping and legal fees was for three payments of $200 (7/06, 10/06, 1/07).

· The remaining initial $200 special assessment that is payable in January will cover the current legal invoice.

· The additional special assessment for legal fees was for one payment of $200 (1/07) and two payments of $400 (4/07, 7/07).

· The additional $200 special assessment that is payable in January should cover any other legal fees in 2006.

· The additional $400 special assessments that are payable in April and June replace the reserve funds transferred in 2006.

· The $250,000 legal fees line item in the proposed 2007 budget should cover any legal fees in 2007.

The Board of Directors approved the November 30, 2006 year to date financial statement and the year to date reserve expenditures.

The Board of Directors reviewed the proposed 2007 budget. Treasurer Harold Berry moved to approve the proposed 2007 budget. Secretary Paula Ryals seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


Those Association members present discussed their views on various matters and they offered their comments and suggestions.

David Lybrand requested that the Southard Court pool assessment be assessed on a quarterly basis versus the entire amount being billed at the beginning of the year. The Board of Directors approved of billing the assessment on a quarterly basis.


There being no further business to conduct at this time, a motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Treasurer Harold Berry and seconded by Director Phil Wilson. The motion passed unanimously and the meeting was adjourned at 6:00 PM.

Respectfully Submitted,

Paula Ryals

Secretary, TAMPOA

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Key West Volunteers Are Needed

Volunteers are needed to help with the Grand Opening of the Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center in Key West on Saturday January 13, 2007 from 11am-4pm. The Center needs volunteers to help with: face painting, arts and crafts, and making sno-cones and popcorn. You will have fun and support a good cause. If you can volunteer please contact Michael Bailey, the manager of the Eco Discovery Center at 301-775-6112.

This is another chance for City residents and Truman Annex residents to work together for a good cause. Please lend your help. If you can't volunteer, please plan to attend the Grand Opening anyway.

Tukey's Message Gets Garbled

Another letter to the TAMPOA Board from an Annex resident makes it is clear that President Tukey can't even get his message across to Annex residents, let alone the residents. This Annex resident, even after reading all of the Board's missives, as late as mid December doesn't yet understand who is supporting TAMPOA's actions and that participation in the litigation by way of contributions to the Andersen Firm's fees is not voluntary but is required of all TAMPOA members. Here's the letter:

Sunday, December 17, 2006

TAMPOA Board Members;

We have continued to receive various communications and "defenses" of your/our position from the President and allegedly the Board. However, it seems to me that there are few issues that have not been addressed or fully vetted.

First, does TAMPOA indeed have a document that gives us clear ownership of Southard Street?

If we have such a document most of the members would like to see the document or at least key excerpts. On the other hand, is the document being relied on a typical legal, "mumbo-jumbo" document that will be subject to interpretation?

It would seem to me that this is critical if we are to continue to have any level of confidence in the Board and President. If the document is not absolutely clear but, rather subject to interpretation we need to address a tact other than litigation. Litigation in this situation is costly with no clear outcome; especially in front of a local judge/jury.

Secondly, who is currently "supporting" TAMPOA's actions with/against the city? Is this just the owners of President's Walk and Front/Emma/Noah or is the entire Truman Annex involved? It would seem that if the potential is as dire as expressed in the recent newsletter that the owners of Shipyard, Foundry, Mills Place, and Porter Court would also have a vested interest and participate as allies both financially and in voice.

Lastly, the general population of Key West is likely frustrated in many regards. The cost of living in their community has been driven out of sight by high real estate prices, the cost of real estate taxes and insurance. Further, as "out-of-towners" have come in and bought second/third homes many of the locals feel like second class, service provider type of citizens. We are clearly a big potential target of that frustration.

TA is a group of well off people, who live here a limited amount of time in the premier homes and location. We also need to be visibly active in supporting the community; not just at the high brow events like the symphony or arts. A few years ago someone at the annual meeting stepped up and recommended we do something along these lines. What is the status of this?


[Name Withheld]

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Unhappy With The Situation

The following letter is typical of how many residents of the Annex feel about the Board. Again, these residents did not receive so much as a courtesy phone call from any member of the Board. The items in bold are in the original of the letter. Here it is:

December 04, 2006

To: TAMPOA Board Members,

How much are we going to spend just to put up a gate?

What ever it costs sounds great to an attorney but to MANY of your fellow members enough is enough. We have spent over $400,000 on this issue by what I see in the financial statement (2006) that you just mailed out. In reading the November 17.2006 letter from Paula Ryals a $400 assessment per quarter for year 2007 and an additional $3000 per member (250 members approx.) is now being forecast. That is $4600 per member or a total of $1,150,000.00 for 2007. Are we going to stop at one and a half million?

What will be the fee for 2008?

There seems to be no end in sight!

You the board needs to know where the membership stands. As of this date not one of the board members has contacted any of the members to do a survey of who is in favor of pursuing this any further.

I think we will never get a permit to install a gate (Per the Navy restriction) and we are just wasting our money at the same time making the entire community come together against us. How’s that for P.R.?

Not happy with this situation,

[Name Withheld]

A Response To Questions From A Poster

As we said we would do from time to time, we will answer questions posed by posted comments. One anonymous poster has asked why we withhold names of the letter writers in the series of letters to the TAMPOA Board we are currently publishing.

Unless asked to do so by the writer, we don't publish the names of these letter writers to the Board because there is no need to do so. (Similarly, Anonymous won't sign his name). The TAMPOA Board knows who the letter writers are since they signed their names to their letters. If Anonymous is who we think, then he must know too.

Anonymous asks what we propose. We have said what we propose to do. If Anonymous had read this blog more carefully, he'd have a clear idea. Obviously we oppose the policies of the current TAMPOA Board. We think they have spent wildly and foolishly on the legal fees. We think they have not carefully checked the legal bills for improper billing. We think they have not been forthcoming with frank and open communication with the TAMPOA members. We think they have given conflicting information to the membership. We think the Board has lost the trust of the TAMPOA membership, and some of the Board members know that. (That's probably why at least one of the two incumbent members is not running for re-election). We do not favor putting in a gate on Southard Street. (Incidently, a number of people who live on Southard Street also oppose the gate). What we have proposed in this blog is a change to all those errant Board policies.

Anonymous a;ready knows this if he has read this blog carefully. However, we're glad he asked the question because it gives us an opportunity to reinforce our proposals for change in the Board's policies.

In the coming weeks as the new Board takes over, there will be a number of new policies being put forward, but only time will tell whether the old hard-liners still on the Board will continue to stymie change and whether the two new Board members will have the gumption to push for change.

Monday, January 08, 2007

What A Potential Board Candidate Thinks

Here's what an unannounced but potential TAMPOA Board candidate (from the floor of the January 29 meeting) thought about the letter we published on January 7.

This is an excellent message that this person. . . . sent to Sterling. This should be a political battle, not a legal battle. A political battle would be much less costly and much more likely to be won. This person recognizes the benefits of a proper PR campaign rather than an expensive legal campaign (and PR should be something other than an unguided tactic of buying inflammatory full page ads in the newspaper). The only legal approach . . . is to "hold"-- sit back and wait to see what the city can (or cannot) do since there is already an agreement reached in the past that the city cannot easily circumvent (they would have to live by it if they actually want to go ahead and get the waterfront project moving).

Sunday, January 07, 2007

TAMOA Elections Are Approaching

As the TAMPOA Board election approaches, we think it is important that our readers who live in Truman Annex understand that the current board is not unanimously supported by all Annex residents and that there is severe disagreement with the failed policies that continue to be pursued by Tom Tukey and the current board. It will be up to the voters to put enough pressure on, and extract enough promises from, the two currently announced candidates, as well as any nominated from the floor of the January 29 annual meeting, so that the candidates elected will not be able to renege on those promises as so many politicians do.

As part of a full airing of the discontent, we will publish some of the letters to the TAMPOA Board, or Board members, from Annex residents.

We begin with a letter from a resident who has lived in the Annex a very long time. The letter was sent to Sterling Christian, TAMPOA Operations Director (who passes such letters on to the Board), The Board to its discredit did not even have the common courtesy to favor this resident with a reply. Here is the letter:


This message comes as a sad commentary on a mishandled situation. Time once was on our side to bring this to a resolution. Now we have added an inestimable amount of damage to our "credit" with the local community. When this board took aggressive legal actions they mortgaged our property values in both a monetary and non-monetary way. This was done without proper dialogue with the owners. The 06 budget was a meaningless [word omitted in the original] regarding the legal costs. The proposed increases in 07 should be scaled back and the board should operate within the budget. Another year will come quickly enough to set another budget.

Cars were coming through the annex on Southard from the very beginning when Pritham started the Annex. They will be going through the Annex long after most of us have left. And we the owners will continue to pay excessive legal costs brought on by an impatient pursuit of a political entity (City Commissioners) who will continue to spend taxpayers money to counter our legal actions. Trying to force a legal solution on a political situation is foolish.

If expensive legal research was required to verify the validity of our title it should have been done with a qualified estimate of the costs and a communication to the owners. While the board can contend they are defending our property values this has a shallow ring in my ears. This action has done as much to erode property values in the Annex as anything I can remember in the twelve years my wife and I have been here.

What should happen now is to scale the legal activities back to a holding action. Then hire a PR firm for far less than the legal fees to begin a planned PR effort to keep our issues in the public consciousness through the next couple of election cycles in KW. City commissioners are not normally long range planners but they are elected by a public that usually figures things out. Even if we tried to do the right thing regarding the planned traffic flow- pattern we did it in the wrong way.

[Name in the original withheld]

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The TAMPOA Board Meets Monday, January 8

There is a TAMPOA Board meeting on Monday, January 8, 2007. This may be the last meeting before the election of two new board members. For those who are interested here is the agenda:

The Truman Annex Master Property Owners’ Association, Inc.
Board of Directors Meeting
201 Front Street, Suite 103
Key West, Florida 33040

January 8, 2007

Monday at 4:00 PM

Purpose: Conduct Business as Properly Brought Before the Board


1. Call Meeting to Order

2. Determination of Quorum

3. Proof of Notice of Meeting

4. Approval of Minutes

December 4, 2006 Board of Directors meeting

5. Reports of Officers

President’s report: Discussion of Litigation with the City of Key West

Treasurer’s report: Review the year to date financial statements

6. Reports of Committees

Architectural Control Committee

7. Unfinished Business

8. New Business

Review Premiere Racing, Inc. Yachting Race Week Southard Street access request

Review Building 21 request to install four 100 gallon screened above ground propane tanks

Management items

9. Member Input

10. Adjournment

I, Tom Tukey, as President of The Truman Annex Master Property Owners’ Association, Inc., hereby call a Meeting of the Board of Directors as stated above.



By: Tom Tukey

President, TAMPOA

Friday, January 05, 2007

For Those Who Have Been Commenting

We have been having trouble with our blogging software and comment moderation. Posts were not showing up, although they were there. We discovered this flaw by accident as we were reviewing our blog settings. Finally, we hope, this is now fixed. Some comments may have been lost; we were unable to tell. We have published all those comments that we could find available amongst the software mess. If we have missed any, we appologize. Post them again and we'll (hopefully) get them published if they meet our previously posted publishing criteria. Since we have been spending all of our time in figuring out this glitch, we've not had time to post. So, we need to catch up and will be making an effort to do so.

Lest we forget. Happy New Year to you all!