06 February 2024

Unchartered waters - Weekly Briefing - February 6, 2024

Essential human-curated Florida Keys news, all in one place. 

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Our Community

Unchartered waters. The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) dropped its push to persuade voters to adopt a charter county form of government. Were it approved, it would have given the BOCC power to seek a new tax for infrastructure repairs, among many other consequences. It's hard to get people to vote in favor of new taxes. 

Future of the Keys. Last Stand hosted a rousing annual meeting (video) at Williams Hall with a panel of experts (video) considering where we'll be in ten years, and what we can do now to alter our course.   
Duval revitalization. An estimated 200 people gathered at the San Carlos Institute for a workshop on revitalizing Duval Street. Sea level rise was a big concern.  

Monica Haskell profiled. Keys Weekly ran a profile of Haskell, who seeks to succeed Jimmy Weekly as District 1 Key West Commissioner. 

Chris Massicotte for BOCC. Massicotte, a Key West resident and co-owner of marketing firm Duval Street Media, announced his intention to run for County Commission District 3, challenging incumbent and two-time Key West City Manager Jim Scholl. Scholl, who was previously Commander of NAS Key West, was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to fill a vacancy on the BOCC.   

Mooring field plan. The BOCC moved forward on a plan for a dinghy dock on Stock Island for a managed mooring field in Boca Chica Basin.

Watchdogs may be muzzled. Florida lawmakers are considering far-reaching legislation that would weaken an already beleaguered state ethics commission and would virtually wipe away the power of local ethics watchdogs to investigate and enforce laws intended to fight corruption. If the bill becomes law, investigations at the state and local level could only be prompted by a signed and sworn complaint from someone who possesses "personal knowledge" of a potential violation. 

FKOC now part of AH Monroe. The Florida Keys Outreach Coalition for the Homeless (FKOC) began operating as a subsidiary of AH Monroe on January 1. Leaders from both organizations call the move an “integration of services and expansion of missions.”

New digs. The  Monroe County Supervisor of Elections moved from its old headquarters on Whitehead Street to the site of the former Bayshore Manor at 5200 College Road on Stock Island. Don't go to the old office - it's closed.  
  • Spacious. Office space and parking is more plentiful at the new site
  • Check your  registration and VBM status. Because of rule changes, some voters may no longer be registered or have vote-by-mail instructions in effect. With crucial local, state, and federal elections this year, this would be a great time to check your status at keys-elections.org

Our Eyes

A pair of common mynas seen this week in a Key West parking lot. - Mark Hedden / Keys Weekly

Tri-colored Heron gets breakfast on Big Pine Key 2-2-24 - Phil Dodderidge

Previously in Key West Voices

Fourteen years of service. Key West Mayor Teri Johnston decided to not seek re-election, after serving a total of 14 years as a city commissioner and then mayor. Her decision, along with term limits for three commissioners, now means a minimum of four new faces on the city commission later this year. 
Haskell seeks commission seat. Key West resident Monica Haskell filed to run for City Commissioner in Key West’s District I, currently held by term-limited Jimmy Weekley.

Marathon wants to 'borrow' ROGOs. During a contentious and well-attended workshop, Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi and County Attorney Bob Shillinger, outlined a deal that would 'loan' ROGO/BPAS allocations from Monroe County to Marathon. Several citizens rose to express opposition to Marathon's earlier request for up to 8,000 residential building permits, but some spoke in favor out of concern for 'takings'  liability. 
Florida Keys Day in Tallahassee. Continuing an annual ritual, Keys leaders descended on the state Capitol for the annual Florida Keys Day on January 25 to educate and lobby state officials on Keys' legislative priorities. 
Little Torch variance request postponed. The owners of Little Palm Island postponed their request for a parking variance from Monroe County for a redevelopment project of a Little Torch Key marina, putting the entire development project on hold. 

Grinnell garage deal authorized. The Key West Utility Board authorized Keys Energy Services to finalize and approve a lease for the City garage at Grinnell and Caroline. The 20-year lease that ends in 2044 includes a provision to extend. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2025, the City will make annual lease payments to KEYS of $225,000, with 2.5% annual increases thereafter. The Key West City Commission is expected to vote on the lease on Feb. 8.

Safer and cleaner ship christened. The American Glory, the second of American Cruise Lines’ new series of 100-passenger ships, was christened in Key West, Florida on January 21 by Mayor Johnston, among others. 

Duval revitalization redux. The City of Key West kicks off a series of public workshops for the Duval Street Revitalization and Resiliency project at a community open house on Wednesday, January 31 from 5-7 p.m. at the San Carlos Institute.

Sprawling coonties. Linda Cunningham rooted around in search of a rare butterfly

Not playing favorites. Mark Hedden was asked to name his favorite book about birds, but that's a tough question.