Monday, August 27, 2007

A Thought For The Week Of August 27, 2007

"On this day I pledge neither to shy away from growth in myself, nor to require perfection in order to like myself. I will recognize through self-love that I am in a continual state of renewal and evolution."

~ Eric V. Copage


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Not Enough Babies Are Pooping

More than a year ago Kimberly-Clark, makers of "Huggies" diapers, announced it was closing the Corporation's Lakeview diaper plant and eliminating 510 jobs. In June of last year Kimberly-Clark laid off 105 employees. Some of those whose jobs were eliminated took early retirement. We don't know how many of those came to the Keys.

However, obviously the demand for diapers must have slowed. How can that be? Are babies pooping less? Although there may be fewer babies pooping, there is still plenty of poop in Key West. Maybe Kimberly-Clark could avoid more layoffs by providing diapers for all the chickens here in Key West - a kind of killing two birds with one diaper idea. Kimberly-Clark sells more diapers; Key West has less chicken poop. Everyone wins.

If the chickens are diapered, the chicken shelter the Assistant City Manager was once trying to build will never make it to the Superfund cleanup list no matter whether the chickens are rounded up, have escaped, been stolen or secretly released. Diapering beats trying to kidnap or kill them. Besides, diapers for the chickens certainly have a better chance with the City Commissioners than Truman Annex.

Maybe there will even be some left over diapers large enough to fit some of the commissioners who seem to be acting like chickens lately, now that elections are almost upon us. After all, if astronauts can wear diapers, why not the Commissioners?

For that matter, why not the TAMPOA Board and its lawyers. It may give them the stamina they'll need to sit through yet another round of mediation with the City come late October. Oh yes, in case you hadn't heard, thanks to being in federal court -- that brilliant idea hatched by the Board's lawyers and launched last February -- there is now to be more mediation with the City that wouldn't honor the first mediated agreement.

So we do hope, however, that they all (Commissioners, Board members, and lawyers for all sides, including the Navy) order their diapers early -- we wouldn't want any more workers to lose their jobs for lack of diaper demand. Besides, we've noticed that one size of diaper doesn't seem to fit all and some folks may need extra large, especially with the election and then the mediation coming. At the mediation alone there's likely to be enough methane generated to fill a greenhouse. When added to what will have been produced by the candidates and the BS generated during the election cycle, the need for diapers seems obvious. Who knows? Diapers may help the candidates contain themselves. As for the Board and lawyers? They're hopeless, unless, of course, the diapers were to be worn over their mouths.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

A Thought For the Week Of August 20, 2007

"Sometimes it's hard to even know that you've got it good until it's gone and you feel the absence. Appreciation makes you observe the details, to attempt to see what you haven't noticed before and be glad that you finally did notice it. It makes life richer and is not the kind of thing you need to spend money on."

~ Soanya Ahmad


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Time To Let Go Of The Gate Idea

Maybe it is time for the screwball idea of a gate at the Southard Street entrance to Truman Annex to go. We had thought the idea had been abandoned by TAMPOA -- at least that's what it told members prior to February 2007. Suddenly, however, the gates idea was back with a vengeance when the federal complaint was filed and is also in the new federal complaint. This idea seems like something from Dr. Strangelove that springs like the uncontrollable hand from a TAMPOA fantasyland. The reality is there will NEVER be a gate at the current entrance to Truman Annex on Southard Street. When TAMPOA will get this, if ever, we don't know. But to avoid continuing to look like idiots, the TAMPOA Board needs to instruct its lawyers to abandon this albatross, and soon!

The truth is the Navy will never allow a gate at the Truman Annex entrance on Southard Street and everyone knows it, including TAMPOA if it were realistic. The June 26, 2007 letter the Navy sent to TAMPOA demanding that it open the gate next to Harbor Place should be handwriting on the wall that a gate at the Southard Street will not be tolerated. (We'll have more to say about that up-coming fiasco in a future post).

Now, imagine what will run through the mind of the federal judge (or any judge) when the Navy or the City shows the judge this picture from Cayo Dave's article about what alternatives TAMPOA actually has. The judge, as anyone (including a juror) with common sense, is going to think, "that doesn't look so bad," and is a possible solution that meets TAMPOA's stated interests in a "gated community."

Such a plan also deals with TAMPOA's rather illusory fear of being sued by the ultra rich who bought mega homes allegedly thinking (if you can believe it) that they were buying into a gated community. Under such an alternate plan, Southard would remain open, and if TAMPOA insisted, it could have its gates, transponders and all, for those who want them, on Emma Street.

There are really two groups whose interests might not be totally satisfied by such an alternate plan. One will be the folks on the west side of Southard Street, but there are only about half a dozen or so of them whose homes actually face the street. For the other few Southard Street runs along the side of their residences giving them less to complain about as there are a number of fences in the Annex that run along the sides of residences.

The other group to complain will be the those in big houses near the intersection of Emma and Southard who will not want a gate on Emma near their residences. The solution to that complaint can be found in the design of the gate so as to make it less obtrusive, or to abandon the gate altogether for some other restraint like high tech retractable tire spikes.

The bottom line is there is never going to be a gate at the entrance to Southard Street, so why is TAMPOA wasting time and money on this issue when there are truly more important issues in the litigation? Beats us. It's just weird.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

A Thought For The Week Of August 13, 2007

"Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies.
And be it gash or gold it will not come
Again in this identical disguise."

~ Gwendolyn Brooks


Friday, August 10, 2007

Why Not Buy Southard Street?

Commissioner Jose Menendez, in a flight of fancy, has suggested that Wisteria Island be turned into a gaming mecca. Mayor McPherson wants the City voters to consider buying Wisteria Island, saying the issue is preservation and never has been annexation. Preservation? Really? Preservation from what? The island is already preserved if not pickled. Until some good citizens came along and organized a cleanup the island was a twenty-one-acre dump that neither the owners, the county or the city seemed to care about.

The City doesn't need to buy Wisteria Island to turn it into a park. The would be developers could do that and charge money to go there. It seems that the City Commission has linked annexation with development. Indeed, they are separate issues. The City could annex Wisteria Island any time its wants. The problem is the messed up laws the City has on development. If the City annexes the island, under the existing laws, the developers could build homes on the island. That's not an annexation problem. That's a development problem. That's what the City needs to work on, but, of course, it won't because the City is controlled by developers.

The Mayor is a realtor, after all, which is why one ought to be suspicious of any proposal that the City buy Wisteria Island. One has to ask, "Why?" The Mayor doesn't really want the voters' nod to buy the island; otherwise the proposed referendum would be given a green light and made a binding referendum. So what's behind all this wrangling over Wisteria Island? We're all ears, Mr. Mayor!

Meanwhile, we have a suggestion. If the City thinks it can buy Wisteria Island, why doesn't it buy Southard Street? It would likely cost a lot less and solve a whole bunch of issues for the City, not to mention that it would put an end to what may ultimately be a costly lawsuit for the City.

The reality is that the City does not have the money to buy (or even pursue eminent domain over) Southard Street. And the City doesn't have the money to buy Wisteria Island either. If the Mayor is proposing to ask the voters something, he 'd probably get a more positive response if he asked the voters whether they'd finance an eminent domain suit to take over Southard Street.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dumb And Dumber

' We've got a list of bridges, some of which are unsafe, but we won't give you the inspection reports because we don't have to. There's no law that says we do.' That's the figurative message The Citizen got when it asked for the reports of bridge inspections from the The Florida Department of Transportation. What kind of crap is that?

Doesn't that just give you real confidence in the Florida Department of Transportation? Here is a public department - a branch of state government - designed to serve the people, and it won't even let you see any reports about bridges over which you have to travel. Where, pray tell, is the leadership in that department? In this case, asleep at what is supposed to be the bridge between the Department and the public.

This dumb move to keep the reports secret and the even dumber refusal to give the reports to a newspaper doing a follow up story on the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis is nothing less than appalling. What ever happened to common sense? Apparently the folks in the Florida Department of Transportation who made the decision not to release the reports have none.

That stupid decision is a case in point why the Florida Sunshine Law needs to be strengthened. Now, the question is: what is Governor Crist going to do about such arrogant stupidity? The wise move would be to say to the secrecy morons in the Florida Department of Transportation, "Give The Citizen and other members of the public the reports" or take a hike -- a permanent one from your job! "

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Lesson From No. 756

If you watched, it happened last night with a steak of white into the night. For a moment everything stopped as the enormity of the moment sank in. Hank Aaron's 33 year old home run record was history. One era was over. Another had begun.

Whatever you want to say about the now number 1 career home run hitter, Barry Bonds, there is a lesson in all of this. Through out it all Bonds has focused on the future, knowing he could not undo the past, nor could he control what others would think of him no matter how hard he tried.

So he chose to control what to some extent he could: the path of the baseball in the air. By focusing on the present, Bonds, however controversial, has made his mark. He is the home run leader. He has hit 756 home runs; more than any one else.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

A Thought For The Week Of August 6, 2007

"Courage is the other side of fear."

~ Conchette


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Piss And Vinegar Is It?

"When Harry Bethel was in his 20s and 30s, he was full of piss and vinegar, but people grow and mature. . ."

That they do. That's why we don't care whether or not Harry Bethel was fired some 33 years ago, or whether back then, as he reportedly has put it so colorfully, he was "full of piss and vinegar." Bethel is right that what happened 30 some years ago shouldn't be a factor in whether he gets elected to the Utility Board.

What does matter is what kind of candidate Bethel is today and whether the current happenings in his political life as well as his political views make him the best person to represent the citizens on the Utility Board.

Now that Bethel is "mature," it's his record on the City Commission and current doings that need to be measured to see how he stacks up against the other candidates, Charles Lee and Ty Symroski, in the quest for the Group 1 seat on the Utility Board.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Cutting Through The Crap

Remember the two folks who were arrested while they were handing out Gideon Bibles near a school in Monroe County? The Gideon folks believed they had a right under the First Amendment to pass out bibles on the bike path where they apparently were. Well, they had a court hearing recently, and the judge threw out the case.

The State Attorney said the defendants were trespassing. "This was never a free speech case," . . . he said. "It was a trespass case."

Yeah, right! No one believed that for a Key West minute; including the judge. Of course this was a First Amendment case. Who was the prosecutor trying to kid?

This was also a case of an over zealous prosecutor who apparently didn't have a case or forgot to bring it to the Courthouse. The case never should have been brought in the first place. Once it was, however, the prosecutor should have accepted the plea deal offered by the defense attorney. It's likely that emotion and ego got in the way. And then there was face-saving to be done.

So Judge Payne cleverly cut through the crap and did the right thing.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Keys Energy Going Green?

It was interesting to read the PR piece in Saturday's Citizen (6-28-07) by Julio J. Barroso, Communications and Marketing Coordinator for Keys Energy Services. He makes some good points in terms of what the energy company is going to do to help address the environmental impact created when electricity is produced. Particularly interesting were his comments about the increased efficiency to be gained in electric transformer conversion and the use of LEDs. He notes that while the initial cost of such conversions are "higher than conventional replacements," the increased "life expectancy and efficiency of such units quickly pay back on initial investments." Translation: they are cheaper to operate and Key's energy can make more money.

Now what we'd like to see is some of that cost savings passed back to the consumer. What do you want to bet that as it "grows green" Keys Energy will be trying to -- heck, they will -- raise rates. But wouldn't it be nice when, as Barroso claims, "such units quickly pay back on initial investments" for Keys Energy customers to see some of that savings in the form of cold cash or a reduction in those rates that were increased?

Of course, we weren't born under a clam shell, and you know too that the likelihood of seeing any refund or rate reduction of that kind is slim to none. And that is what makes us wary of the kind of PR efforts reflected in the Barroso article. However, we can still hope that maybe one day there will emerge a company where the words used to talk to the public don't have to be described as PR. If we see it, you'll be the first to know.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Finishing Monroe County's Sewer Projects

State Legislator Ron Saunders is right to question Monroe County's desire for a 1 cent hike in the sales tax so the County can finish its sewer projects. In fact, one could ask why give the County any more money when it has wasted almost enough money over the years to finish the project.

Two recent examples of such waste come readily to mind. The first is Monroe County's courthouse that is not yet finished and, like the sewer project, has become a boondoggle and a financial nightmare. The second is the unneeded airport the county is spending millions on that has also become a boondoggle with costs spiraling out of control.

Legislator Saunders wants the State to allow Monroe County to issue bonds to complete its projects. But where will the now almost broke County get the money to pay off the bonds? And what will be the exact cost of finishing the sewer projects? Who knows? And that's the problem, isn't it? That's been the problem (among others) with the courthouse and now with the airport.

From our point of view, the County should not get dime one until it stops wasting the taxpayers' money like it has on the two projects just mentioned. And frankly, we would be loathed to buy any bonds issued by Monroe County for any new project until it cleans up its contract-administration act.

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