18 July 2023

Hot, hot, hot - Weekly briefing - 18 July 2023

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Hottest week ever. The Guardian reported the World Meteorological Organization's assertion that Earth has not experienced anything like this heat since instrumental measures of air temperatures began in the 1850s, and that there is a good chance that the month of July will see the highest global temperatures for 120,000 years. And there's more to come. 
Personal militia. A Florida state guard established by Ron DeSantis under the guise of a civilian disaster relief force is instead being trained as an armed, combat-ready militia under his personal command, according The Guardian.

TDC budget up 60%. In his letter to the Board of Monroe County Commissioners, County Administrator Roman Gastesi highlighted the 60% increase in the Tourist Development Council (TDC) budget to 125.6M because it includes a new $25M allocation for public facilities, which it may not be permitted to use in that way. 

Under (no) pressure. Greg Velez, Executive Director of the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (and former Key West City Manager) gave a brief and arid presentation to the City Commission on 14 July in which he summarized FKAA's capital projects underway and planned (video, agenda item #6). There were no questions from the dais. Perhaps members of the Commission could have asked:
  • When, if ever, will water pressure be restored to the level it was before multiple water main breaks in March? 
  • Were the breaks in March the result of demand during peak tourist season?
  • What sections of the main are most susceptible to future breaks? 
  • Will the system be able to sustain pressure under projected growth in residential population and peak season tourism?
Loft troubles. How is a $700,000 townhome “affordable” for working families of Key West? It’s not. Keys Weekly said that city officials were deeply troubled by a July 13 update on The Lofts affordable housing development, long planned for the last 3.2 acres of Truman Waterfront. 

Giant Voice alert tower. NAS Key West posted notice on Facebook that its new "giant voice mass notification system" will be used to amplify morning and evening colors, as well as provide alerts during training and emergency situations.

Our year of Judy continues. Judy Blume congratulated the producers of the documentary Judy Blume Forever on their two Emmy nominations which is available for streaming on Prime

Cute birds. Mark Hedden told us about 'odd' Pelagic birding, which basically consists of driving around in a boat on the ocean, looking for birds. 

Our Eyes

A band-rumped storm-petrel seen recently about 20 miles south of Key West. MARK HEDDEN/Keys Weekly

Previously in Key West Voices

What's wrong with people? Mandy Miles' column in Keys Weekly asked the question we've all asked recently after receiving a letter from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. They offered her a replacement license plate following a complaint that the configuration of letters and numbers on hers could be considered “offensive."

Permitless concealed carry took effect on 1 July, one of over 200 bills passed easily under one-party control of Florida's legislature and Governorship. 
  • Keys Weekly reported that those carrying a concealed gun do not need a permit, but that they must have valid identification on them at all times in the event a law enforcement officer requests it. Whew, that's a relief. 
  • Immigration. Keys Weekly also reported that private employers with 25 or more workers must verify that their new, permanent employees are authorized to work in the U.S. through the E-Verify system. Exposure to fines for failure to comply began July 1, 2024 at $1,000 per day. 
Sargassum playing possum? The New York Times reported 'good news' the blob, known as the great Atlantic Sargassum belt, shrank in the Gulf of Mexico by 75 percent last month, according to scientists.

Artificial reef proposal. The Citizen reported that Monroe County government officials are considering a proposal to scuttle 37 old Florida Keys Electric Cooperative cement power poles as an artificial reef off the Florida Keys. The 55 feet tall poles are being removed and stored at a marina in Marathon.

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