07 May 2024

Rescued sawfish euthanized - Weekly briefing - May 7, 2024

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

Subscribe to Key West Voices for free. See something that should be in Voices? Click here to share it with us.

Our Community

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.  

Our Eyes

"Bicycle Shadows & Reflections" - C.J. Groth

Previously in Key West Voices

Abortions banned in Florida after six weeks. A ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy takes effect in Florida on Wednesday, May 1. The strict new law will replace a 15-week ban and require most Floridians and other Southerners seeking the procedure to travel to Virginia or farther.

3,000, not 8,000. Despite a proposal for 8,000 new residential building permits in the Keys, only about 3,000 possible vacant, buildable lots remain, according to the latest information provided by local governments in the Keys.
  • Late last year, FloridaCommerce considered a scenario to give the Keys as many as roughly 8,000 new building allocations, which would require raising the residential hurricane evacuation time to 31 hours to accept them. The roughly 8,000 figure represents the number of total vacant lots in the Keys, including those buildable and not.
  • Accepting more than 220 permits would require a change in state statute because such an allocation would increase the allowable hurricane evacuation time for residents and tourists beyond what is currently allowed. 
  • According to the statute, tourists are supposed to be evacuated 48 hours before a hurricane is expected to make landfall in the Keys, while residents must be able to evacuate 24 hours prior to a storm. But because the previously rare phenomenon of  'rapid intensification'  has become much more frequent due to record high water temperatures, a 48 hour warning may itself become a rarity.  
TDC's structure isn't the problem. Keys Weekly and the Citizen ran  follow-ups on the Monroe Board of County Commissioners' (BOCC) decision not to take over the bed tax-supported Tourism Development Council. It’s not the TDC’s structure – it’s the financial controls that were the problem, the BOCC agreed at its April 17 meeting.
  • In October 2023, County Clerk Kevin Madok launched the first of four separate audits on the TDC and its advertising and marketing partner agencies. 
  • Even nonprofits on shoestring budgets have to undergo an audit every year, yet the TDC went unchecked for decades, the commissioners noted. "...it was 20 years or longer since they had had an audit,” said commissioner Craig Cates.
  • The TDC's  four-cent “bed tax” on every dollar spent at Keys lodging establishments is used to advertise the Keys as a vacation destination, promote events that attract visitors and fund construction projects to enhance tourism. 
CEMEX Construction seeks exception for Tavernier Publix. In an email to his supporters, BOCC candidate Chris Massicotte expressed dismay over CEMEX Construction's proposal to the BOCC to obtain 86 building permits necessary for workforce housing units by circumventing the County's Comprehensive Plan.
  • County Staff determined that building the Publix and housing units in Tavernier would create a county-wide impact, affecting the ability of a 24 evacuation during a hurricane.
Six amendments on the ballot. The Citizen shared a summary of proposed amendments to Florida's Constitution to be decided by voters this fall.  
Money to harden homes. The Miami Herald offered a guide to applying for state funds from a popular state program called My Safe Florida Home that awards up to $10,000 to harden homes, saving homeowners (and their insurers) from costly repairs after hurricanes and storms.

Two Florida men met. DeSantis and former president Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met privately Sunday morning in Miami. The Washington Post said that DeSantis agreed to help Trump with fundraising

Monroe County Sheriff's Animal Farm makes national news. CBS News ran a nice five minute segment on the animal rescue facility on Key West during its Sunday Morning show. 
  • The small zoo on the grounds of the jail in Key West was started by accident in the mid-1990s when word got out that the sheriff had rescued some ducks from a nearby road. Since then, many animals – abandoned, abused, confiscated or donated – have been brought to the farm, which is maintained by a small team of people incarcerated there. More than 100 animals currently live there. 
Conspiracy theory tragedy in New York. Local columnist John Bartus reflected on the sad tale of the man who self-immolated outside Donald Trump’s hush-money trial in New York City.

“Let the child read” Linda Cunningham said that it's simple: If you don’t cater to a book, play, sculpture or piece of music; don’t read, watch, look or listen. I’ll make my own choices, thank you.