27 February 2024

TDC stands behind its suspended executive director - Weekly briefing - February 27, 2024

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No Keys homes for regular folk. In an insightful and sobering analysis of the harsh realities of home ownership here, Linda Cunningham made clear how regular folks just can't live here anymore. Her proposed remedy is worthy of your consideration. Essential reading. 

TDC stands behind its suspended executive director. In the wake of a second harsh audit of Monroe County's Tourism Development Council, its board members met on February 20 in a meeting for which no remote access nor video recording was available. They defeated by a vote of 7-2 a motion to fire TDC director Stacey Mitchell made by board member and County Commissioner Craig Cates. Mitchell was earlier suspended by the TDC board, with pay, while other audits are underway. 

Probably Roman back. The BOCC approved county administrator Roman Gastesi's retirement for at least six monthsPer state law, Gastesi could come back to his position after six months, which he said he wants to do.

Public engagement plan on ROGOs. A presentation to the BOCC outlined its plan to take public input on the controversial plan to issue new residential building permits. Gastesi said it's the most important issue facing the Florida Keys.

Not just your imagination; record January traffic at EYW. Key West International Airport reported a nearly 16% increase in passenger numbers over January 2023, outpacing every January passenger count on record at the airport. 
  • AA touts low fares. As evidence of TDC and American Airline's marketing prowess, similar stories touting low fares to Key West appeared almost simultaneously in multiple publications

Dead coral. A team of researchers documented significant coral mortality from this past summer’s heatwave in Keys coral restoration sites.

Choppers grounded. Monroe County has temporarily grounded its three air ambulances after one of the Sikorski S76 helicopters made an emergency landing at Marathon International Airport.

KW staying the course? Despite the certainty of at least four new faces on the Key West City Commission later this year, sitting commissioners saw continued support for the City's major proposed projects

Controversial measles outbreak response. Florida's surgeon general garnered national attention and widespread criticism for his advice to a Florida elementary school that may leave unvaccinated children at risk of contracting one of the most contagious pathogens on Earth, according to clinicians and public health experts.

No weird ducks in the pond. Mark Hedden invited us to experience his recent visit to Ft. Zach

Our Eyes

Good Morning - Lynne Bentley-Kemp

Previously in Key West Voices

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.