18 June 2024

New mayor elected - city manager in jeopardy - Weekly briefing - June 18, 2024

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New mayor elected. For the first time in recent history, a Key West mayoral candidate won the office without competition.
  • Uncontested. Danise “Dee Dee” Henriquez ran without competition for departing Mayor Teri Johnston's open seat. Henriquez is well-known in the community, having been born and raised in Key West and serving multiple terms as the tax collector for Monroe County.
City manager in jeopardy. Three Key West lawmakers who are leaving office in a few months, plus one incumbent, want to fire the city manager on their way out the door.
  • Al Childress, who started the job in April 2023 with a four-year contract, got a call Friday evening from city attorney Ron Ramsingh, who said “...there are four votes from commissioners to fire me; they’re planning to call a special meeting," now scheduled for Wednesday, June 26. Childress told the Keys Weekly on Friday night, still reeling from the news.
  • Parting shot? The four voting to oust him are Commissioners Weekley, Lopez, Wardlow and Carey; the only one of the four remaining in office.
  • Not without cost. If the move happens, it likely will cost the city about $100,000 under terms of Childress' contract.
  • Assistant city manager resigned. News of Childress’s jeopardy came two days after assistant city manager Todd Stoughton resigned.
Local election slates set. Passing the June 14th deadline for candidate qualification, there were no further late entries, and several candidates are unopposed.
  • Recap of who's in, and what's not decided. The Citizen presented its recap of the races. Of particular note are contested races for Key West City Commission in districts one and six, Supervisor of Elections, and Monroe County Board of Commissioners district three.
  • The two upcoming elections are on August 20th and November 5th. Voters should check their registration status now at keys-elections.org. Rules have changed, and standing requests to vote by mail may need to be renewed. You'll probably want to vote in each.
  • Meet the candidates. With the end of the qualifying period, The non-partisan Hometown! organization hosted its traditional Meet the Candidates forum on Friday. Video here.  
BOCC to assert its power over TDC. At its May 15 meeting, Monroe County's Board of Commissioners advanced an ordinance to clarify in the county code that Tourism Development Council board members serve “at the pleasure of the five commissioners.” Commissioners set a public hearing on July 17 in Marathon before their plan to enact the new language.

DeSantis approved TDC funds for housing. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill to allow surplus TDC funding to be used for affordable housing, but only on a one-time basis.

Russian on by. News reports this week showed four Russian warships arriving in Havana Harbor, just 90 miles from Key West.

No blank check. Linda Cunningham isn't ready to support Key West's plan to float $300 million in new bonds. Each of the four bond issues that voters will likely consider in November identify a handful of projects that “could” be done, but the referenda themselves aren’t specific except for the total dollars. Over the 30-year lifespan of the bonds, that’s giving a blank check for future leaders.

Mandy's world, according her dad. Mandy Miles acknowledged that everything her parents told her was generally correct, despite her best and repeated efforts to prove them wrong.

Thinking about time. Chris Hamilton remembered his dad, who passed away last year.

Least terns. Mark Hedden noted that least terns land quickly, as if they’d been raptured accidentally and the unnamed forces of the universe were trying to put them back as fast as possible so no one would notice.

Our Eyes


Spoonbill one-two, check wheels down, cleared to land swamp three-five on Big Pine Key - Philip Dodderidge

Previously in Key West Voices


Music capital of the Southeast? The Key West City Commission received a presentation and discussed possibly spending $30 million on rebuilding or renovating the Coffee Butler Amphitheater, which opened in 2017.
  • Supporters of the idea, including the mayor and most commissioners, imagine that the upgrade would result in more big-name concerts that would yield up to $60 million annual benefit to the Keys economy due to increased tourism. The plan would tap TDC funds (from the so-called 'bed tax' on hotel stays to pay for the upgrade. The conceptual design can be viewed here.
Wait until July. The KW Commission delayed to July its consideration of adding referendums authorizing up to $300 million in bonds for a variety of long delayed projects. Recent letters to the Editor of Keys Weekly argued against and for the prospective bond issues.

Square groupers found by divers in Key Largo made national news.

Nobel Peace Prize nomination. A Key West man and his business partner in Miami were nominated for the prestigious honor for their invention of a machine that produces drinking water from air.

Airport construction topped off. The 48,802 square-foot addition bringing jet bridges and other improvements to the Key West International Airport is scheduled to open in Spring 2025.

Born of necessity. During and after Hurricane Irma in 2017, Linda Cunningham and retired journalist John Teets brought together vital storm and recovery information, all in one place. By the time they closed their “newsroom” in late September, they had reached more than a million people around the world.
  • As best she can tell — there is still no comprehensive Monroe County-Key West strategy for sharing with the public up-to-date hurricane news.in one easy-to-find place.
Big wins, on Key West time. Chris Hamilton celebrated progress on seven major projects in Key West.

11 June 2024

Music capital of the Southeast? - Weekly briefing - June 11, 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


Music capital of the Southeast? The Key West City Commission received a presentation and discussed possibly spending $30 million on rebuilding or renovating the Coffee Butler Amphitheater, which opened in 2017.
  • Supporters of the idea, including the mayor and most commissioners, imagine that the upgrade would result in more big-name concerts that would yield up to $60 million annual benefit to the Keys economy due to increased tourism. The plan would tap TDC funds (from the so-called 'bed tax' on hotel stays to pay for the upgrade. The conceptual design can be viewed here
Wait until July. The KW Commission delayed to July its consideration of adding referendums authorizing up to $300 million in bonds for a variety of long delayed projects. Recent letters to the Editor of Keys Weekly argued against and for the prospective bond issues.  

Square groupers found by divers in Key Largo made national news

Nobel Peace Prize nomination. A Key West man and his business partner in Miami were nominated for the prestigious honor for their invention of a machine that produces drinking water from air.

Airport construction topped off. The 48,802 square-foot addition bringing jet bridges and other improvements to the Key West International Airport is scheduled to open in Spring 2025

Born of necessity. During and after Hurricane Irma in 2017,  Linda Cunningham and retired journalist John Teets brought together vital storm and recovery information, all in one place. By the time they closed their “newsroom” in late September, they had reached more than a million people around the world.
  • As best she can tell — there is still no comprehensive Monroe County-Key West strategy for sharing with the public up-to-date hurricane news.in one easy-to-find place. 
Big wins, on Key West timeChris Hamilton celebrated progress on seven major projects in Key West


Our Eyes


Lynne Bentley-Kemp


Previously in Key West Voices


Scary 2024 storm season began on June 1st. Amid predictions for an extremely active storm season, storm-related stories appeared locally. Although the official season runs from June 1 to November 30th, storms can happen earlier or later. 
  • Little girl, big impact. The arrival of the La Niña (which means 'little girl' in Spanish) weather pattern brings increased risk of dangerous storms.
  • Record hot water. The tropical Atlantic is abnormally warm, helping set the stage for a busy hurricane season, according to an early forecast by scientists at Colorado State University. Higher ocean temperatures provide more energy to fuel stronger storms.  
  • Tremendous heat. Sea surface temperatures at the end of May were about where they should be in the middle of summer.
  • Stormy history. A review of some Keys storm history was sobering. 
  • Evacuation guidance. Government agencies have carefully designed evacuation plans all set, but under some scenarios — like a rapidly intensifying hurricane — county officials might not distinguish among population groups or zones of the Keys.  
  • Apps to download. Keys Weekly offered a concise list of recommended apps to install on your phone, now
Trash costs going up. In a 5-0 vote May 15, the Monroe Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) tentatively approved a 20% increase in the cost of residential trash collection in unincorporated Monroe County. Officials are in the midst of negotiations for a new contract with three trash hauling companies.

ROGO / BPAS survey. As part of its year-long process to determine whether and how many additional residential building permits should be issued across Monroe County, the first of several surveys was made available to the public on behalf of the BOCC. Rather than seeking input from residents on the crucial questions of evacuation policy and the capacity of the Keys, this iteration focused on educating the public on the mechanics and nuances of building permit allocations. The survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MCROGOSurvey1 

Key West bond issue. Keys Weekly published a letter to the editor elaborating why approval of November's referendum authorize a $300 million line of credit for the city is a bad idea

Southernmost Point Plaza planning meeting. The City of Key West scheduled a meeting on June 13 to gain community input on the proposed design for a planned revamp of the area around the Southernmost Buoy.

Wisteria Island case decided. A federal judge ruled in favor of the U.S. government in a court case to determine the ownership of Wisteria Island in Key West Harbor.

No hablo español. Linda Cunningham wrote that Key West is a Spanish-speaking town.

Workforce transportation. Chris Hamilton enthused about new on-demand micro-transit service targeted for workers.

Pride. Along with storm season, Pride month arrived.  

Blown around, sometimes. Mark Hedden considered what our birds do during storms

04 June 2024

Scary 2024 storm season begins - Weekly briefing - June 4, 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


Scary 2024 storm season began on June 1st. Amid predictions for an extremely active storm season, storm-related stories appeared locally. Although the official season runs from June 1 to November 30th, storms can happen earlier or later. 
  • Little girl, big impact. The arrival of the La Niña (which means 'little girl' in Spanish) weather pattern brings increased risk of dangerous storms.
  • Record hot water. The tropical Atlantic is abnormally warm, helping set the stage for a busy hurricane season, according to an early forecast by scientists at Colorado State University. Higher ocean temperatures provide more energy to fuel stronger storms.  
  • Tremendous heat. Sea surface temperatures at the end of May were about where they should be in the middle of summer.
  • Stormy history. A review of some Keys storm history was sobering. 
  • Evacuation guidance. Government agencies have carefully designed evacuation plans all set, but under some scenarios — like a rapidly intensifying hurricane — county officials might not distinguish among population groups or zones of the Keys.  
  • Apps to download. Keys Weekly offered a concise list of recommended apps to install on your phone, now
Trash costs going up. In a 5-0 vote May 15, the Monroe Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) tentatively approved a 20% increase in the cost of residential trash collection in unincorporated Monroe County. Officials are in the midst of negotiations for a new contract with three trash hauling companies.

ROGO / BPAS survey. As part of its year-long process to determine whether and how many additional residential building permits should be issued across Monroe County, the first of several surveys was made available to the public on behalf of the BOCC. Rather than seeking input from residents on the crucial questions of evacuation policy and the capacity of the Keys, this iteration focused on educating the public on the mechanics and nuances of building permit allocations. The survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MCROGOSurvey1 

Key West bond issue. Keys Weekly published a letter to the editor elaborating why approval of November's referendum authorize a $300 million line of credit for the city is a bad idea

Southernmost Point Plaza planning meeting. The City of Key West scheduled a meeting on June 13 to gain community input on the proposed design for a planned revamp of the area around the Southernmost Buoy.

Wisteria Island case decided. A federal judge ruled in favor of the U.S. government in a court case to determine the ownership of Wisteria Island in Key West Harbor.

No hablo español. Linda Cunningham wrote that Key West is a Spanish-speaking town.

Workforce transportation. Chris Hamilton enthused about new on-demand micro-transit service targeted for workers.

Pride. Along with storm season, Pride month arrived.  

Blown around, sometimes. Mark Hedden considered what our birds do during storms


Our Eyes



John Teets


John Martini



Previously in Key West Voices


Extraordinary hurricane season expected. This year’s Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be extremely active. Forecasters expect 17 to 25 storms to form in the Atlantic between June 1 and the end of November.
Most competitive.  Key West attorney and  Bahama Village resident Marci L. Rose is the third candidate to enter the race for the District 6 seat on the city commission.  Rose faces two other candidates — Aaron Castillo and Thaddeus Cohen — in the most competitive city race thus far. Longtime District 6 commissioner Clayton Lopez is term-limited out of office.

San Carlos ownership dispute. The historic San Carlos Institute, the center for Cuban culture in Key West, is at the center of a legal battle about ownership and is threatened to be sold to pay part of a $63 million legal judgement against the Republic of Cuba.

Casting blame. Linda Cunningham was amused when the “oh-so-awares” get into a slugfest over who or what is to blame for climate change, for dying smalltooth sawfish, spinning sea creatures, King Tide flooding, sargassum carpets, supersized Cat 5 hurricanes, Wizard-of-Oz tornadoes, sea-level rise, coral bleaching and assorted other environmental disasters.

Micro-transit curb-to curb service to debut in July. Chris Hamilton reported that Monroe County awarded a contract for on-demand, micro-transit service. The service, branded as “Conch Connect,” will start in July and will cost $2 per trip in the service area from Stock Island to Key West. 

Farewell, Weenie. Mandy Miles fondly remembered her former downstairs neighbor and seafood department manager at Publix, who passed away recently

A rainy day on Grassy Key. Mark Hedden noted that the old KMart in Marathon's parking lot was so flooded it looked as if the blue whale in the Wyland mural might take the opportunity to jump down and swim through the water for a while.