14 May 2024

Cans kicked down the road - Weekly briefing - May 14, 2024

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Cans kicked down the road. The Key West City Commission, ahead of August and November elections that will result in four new commission members (out of seven), postponed until November two votes on issues facing vocal local opposition

Yet another TDC audit released. Following three problematic audits of Monroe County's Tourist Development Council by the County Clerk's office, the audit of the tourist-tax funded entity commissioned by the County Commission itself was released
  • Nothing new. The audit, which cost roughly $375,000, reiterated previous concerns of the other audits, which looked at the relationships between TDC’s contractor Visit Florida Keys (VFK) and public relations firm NewmanPR and advertising firm Tinsley Advertising & Marketing.
  • Improper and excessive spending. “Based on our study and analysis of the documents and information provided... personnel, at the direction of and/or under the supervision of VFK former Marketing Director Stacey Mitchell, caused improper and excessive expenditures to be paid and failed to adhere to established policies and procedures,” according to the audit.
Insurrectionists among us plead guilty. A Marathon couple await sentencing after pleading guilty for their roles in the U.S. Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021.

  • State Attorney Dennis Ward, Public Defender Robert Lockwood, and County Judge James “Jimmy” Morgan III all were unopposed by the noon deadline on April 26. 
Follow-up - sawfish rescue case detailed. Following reports last week that a rescued smalltooth sawfish had been euthanized in captivity, Keys Weekly ran a detailed narrative of the rescue attempt and euthanasia decision amid continued uncertainty about the cause of the unprecedented die-off. 
Canal restoration photo-op. Monroe County Mayor Holly Merrill Raschein viewed canal restoration efforts in Key Largo. Restoration includes backfilling the canal to raise its bottom to an optimum depth of about 7 feet to allow maximum flushing and tidal flow.

San Carlos ownership disputed. Duval Street's San Carlos Institute, built by Cuban exiles in the 19th century during Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain, is in the midst of a legal battle over its ownership.

Prepared. Linda Cunningham was all ready for the challenges of her annual camping trip to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas

Our Eyes

Female cardinal on Big Pine Key - Philip Dodderidge

Previously in Key West Voices

Rescued sawfish euthanized in captivity. Following a decision made under guidance from Florida's Fish and Wildlife Commission, the distressed smalltooth sawfish rescued April 5 off of the Lower Keys was humanely euthanized when its condition deteriorated. The cause of the animal’s distress remains unknown. 
  • The sawfish was rescued on April 5 and transported to an interim holding tank at Mote Marine's Lower Keys facility. Following treatment and monitoring, the animal was driven April 11 to another Mote quarantine facility in Sarasota for further observation and treatment.
Florida's new six-week abortion restriction took effect. Beginning May 1, most abortions in Florida are banned beyond six weeks of pregnancy — before many women know they are pregnant. The ban has exceptions for rape, incest and human trafficking.
  • Florida voters will have the option to restore access to abortion up until the time of viability with a ballot initiative to amend the state’s general election ballots on Nov. 5. The ballot initiative must garner at least 60% of the vote to take effect.
Florida teacher pay was ranked lowest in the 50 states in a new study by the National Education Association

Large turnout expected for hospital meeting. Expecting a larger turnout for its meeting on May 8, the Lower Florida Keys Hospital District board moved its meeting to 3:00 p.m. at the Harvey Government Center at 1200 Truman Avenue in Key West.
Dude, where's my car? Key West Police responded promptly to an eyewitness report of a car driving into the water off Simonton beach, and saved the driver who was trapped inside the sinking vehicle. The driver, a Navy sailor who’s new to Key West, was subsequently charged with misdemeanor DUI. 

Dude, where's my bike? Chris Hamilton celebrated the installation of additional bicycle parking, and  the Key West Connect app to find bicycle parking and recommend locations for installation of new racks. 

Land acquisition Writing for herself (not as a long-time member of the Monroe County Comprehensive Plan Land Authority Board Advisory Committee),Linda Cunningham expressed her concern over an expert's recent assertion that Monroe County's Land Authority, which used to focus on conservation land acquisitions, has recently paid more attention to buying land for affordable housing defending against takings lawsuits. She knows that the priority should be and is protecting environmentally-sensitive land.

Loud and high up. Mark Hedden wrote of two species of birds, the screaming piha and the white bellbird, that contend for the honor of being the loudest birds ever recorded.