28 November 2023

Pier B whistleblower lawsuit dismissed - Weekly briefing - November 28, 2023

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Pier B whistleblower lawsuit dismissed. The New York Times reported at length on the history of recent challenges to cruise ships in Key West in the wake of the dismissal of a whistleblower lawsuit brought by Safer Cleaner Ships
  • The 149-page lawsuit, filed by Safer Cleaner Ships 14 months ago under seal in Leon County, relied on public documents showing that Pier B Corporation earned more than $90 million in revenue from cruise ship disembarkation fees, but reported only a fraction of this amount to the state.
  • Blocked. Last week, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody dismissed and unsealed the case, declining to pursue these allegations of fraud, and blocked Safer Cleaner Ships from continuing the case on its own.
  • The suit was dismissed in part on jurisdictional grounds, a decision that SCS said was a sign of continuing state support for Pier B Corp’s president, Mark Walsh.
  • Walsh has since doubled down, asking the state for permission to expand his operation to allow bigger ships with more passengers to operate legally out of the port.
  • Any doubt about the decision? The expansion request will be considered by Gov. DeSantis, who has received nearly $1 million in campaign donations from Walsh, as soon as the next Cabinet meeting on Dec. 12. DeSantis can approve the expansion with support from just one member of his Cabinet (of which Moody is a member). 
Keys Evacuation Model. After the presentation of FloridaCommerce's Florida Keys Hurricane Evacuation Model, Monroe County officials held a virtual meeting on Nov. 20 to review the model results and consider its pending recommendation on the rate of future development. Unlike FloridaCommerce's meeting the week before, questions and comments were accepted from the public. 
Insurance survey. Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate, Tasha Carter, seeks input from Florida Keys property owners and residents on property insurance rates and other insurance-related issues. The brief survey is at https://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/ICA/Monroe-County-Survey 

Key West ruins everything. Christopher Hamilton looked back on nine years on the Rock

Our Eyes

Philip Dodderidge

Previously in Key West Voices

Tourist Development Council audit fallout continued. 
Triangle traffic headache. Linda Cunningham wrote about how traffic in and around the Triangle came to a halt on Nov. 14 and went on to talk about Monroe traffic and development. 
  • Per Linda: Three of five Monroe County commissioners chose feeding the tourism machine over mitigating development when they rejected their 2023 traffic study. Accepting the 2023 study would have meant no new development (except single-family homes) without adequate traffic mitigation.

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