20 February 2024

BOCC moved past county staff and public objections to approve new Tavernier Publix - Weekly briefing - February 20, 20204

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BOCC moved past county staff and public objections. Although touted for its inclusion of 86 workforce housing units, a proposed development of a new Publix in Tavernier was opposed both by county staff, and many members of the public. Hours of presentations and public comments culminated in Monroe County commissioners voting 4-1 in favor of the project at a special Feb. 15 meeting. Objections were varied, but often focused on traffic congestion.
TDC audit fallout. In the wake of a second scathing audit, the Board of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council called for a special meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the Faro Blanco Resort in Marathon. The audit is the only item on the agenda.
Public safety a matter of debate. In his letter to the editor of Keys Weekly, Robert Glazer of Marathon emphasized public safety to disagree with an earlier John Bartus column that supported issuing additional building permits to reduce the governments' exposure to takings lawsuits. The debate won't likely end any time soon. 

Coral bleaching. A Miami Herald article reported on a government study of coral bleaching in the Keys. At one nursery at Looe Key, researchers didn’t see a single live staghorn or elkhorn coral at any of the sites they surveyed.

Meet the Candidates. Hometown!, the non-partisan organization promoting good government, will hold its 2024 Call for Candidates forum on Monday February 26 at  5:30 at Saluté in Key West. Admission is free, but plan to arrive early and expect a full house.

Gayborhood nostalgia. Chris Hamilton contemplated changes and history of Key West's gay culture in an insightful and well-researched post on his blog. 

Power play. Mark Hedden answered a friend's question about birds and power lines.  

Our Eyes

Green Heron at the Blue Hole 2-11-24 - Phil Dodderidge

Previously in Key West Voices

Fiscal arrogance alleged at TDC. The Miami HeraldWLRN, and local outlets reported on the second critical audit of the Tourist Development Council that uses tax dollars to promote tourism in the Florida Keys. It accused TDC's long-time public relations firm of regularly double billing by reimbursing a company that investigators say doesn’t exist.
Abortion access in court. The fate of abortion access will be decided by the Florida Supreme Court in two cases. 
  • Referendum. The first, which the court heard Wednesday, will determine whether Floridians can vote directly this November on a measure that would explicitly protect the right to an abortion in their state constitution.
  • An even stricter ban? The second, a challenge to the legality of Florida’s current 15-week ban, could lead the state to enforce an even stricter six-week cutoff, a law passed in 2023 that has not yet taken effect.
Gastesi to retire soon. Roman Gastesi, the Monroe County Administrator for 15 years, abruptly announced his retirement effective February 23, earlier than county officials had expected. One insider speculated that he'll return to the role after a required waiting period. 

Garage lease approved. The Key West City Commission met and approved key items
Category 6? A new paper published by leading hurricane researchers proposed adding a Category 6 to the familiar Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Climate change makes powerful storms more common.

Chris Massicotte profiled. Keys Weekly profiled the Key West resident with a background in accounting and political campaign advertising who is challenging Commissioner Jim Scholl for the District 3 BOCC seat. Although the district covers the western part of Key West, Monroe Commissioners are elected 'at large' by voters across the county.