02 July 2024

Bubba coup 'ain't anywhere close to done' - Weekly briefing - July 2, 2024

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Bubba coup. In a widely condemned move, four out of seven members of the Key West City Commission voted to fire Key West City Manager Al Childress. Three of those voting for the ouster leave office later this year. 
  • Ain't anywhere close to done. Linda Cunningham's spot-on coverage and analysis of Thursday's meeting is essential reading. Read it to learn about finger pointing, shouting, damning text messages, Sunshine Law challenges, etc. Lawsuits are nearly certain.   
  • Dueling narratives. One version is that Childress was incompetent, caused morale problems, and didn't understand 'how things are done' in Key West. Another version is that Childress questioned the performance of Key West's Chief Building Official, the brother of the City Attorney, Ron Ramsingh. Despite recusing himself from the proceedings, Ramsingh spoke at considerable length during the meeting to air his grievances with Childress.
  • No public support for the vote. Not one of the dozens of email, Zoom, and in-person public comments ahead of the vote favored the ouster. Commissioners Carey and Weekly claimed to have had constituent support for their votes to fire Childress, but none were on the record. 
  • Widespread coverage. Local media covered the action extensively, including Keys Weekly, Citizen, WLRN, Key West Island News, and a special alert here in Key West Voices
Rapid intensification. Although Hurricane Beryl is not forecast to threaten the Keys, it rapidly intensified. The National Hurricane Center defines rapid intensification as an increase in maximum sustained wind speed of 35 mph or more in a 24-hour period. Here's more about what that means. 
  • Earlier than ever and 'now a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane.' Beryl is now the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record in the Atlantic Ocean and the only Category 4 storm ever recorded in the month of June. The early timing of the season’s first hurricane is unusual, given the average date for the first hurricane is August 11.
  • Less warning time. A rapidly intensifying storm (RI) threatening the Keys would reduce the time available for evacuation, at the same time modeling indicates that actual and proposed population growth in the Keys has increased the time needed to evacuate. 
  • Residents unclear on the concept. The more frequent occurrence of RI storms in recent years is not generally understood by the Keys residents whose lives are at greater risk because of the phenomenon. It's all the result of climate change. 
Denial reversed. State officials reversed their denial of a proposed Publix project in Tavernier.

Dirty water. Several Keys beaches are under swim warnings due to the high presence of fecal bacteria.
Citizens homeowners insurance rate hike. Keys property owners insured through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation could suffer another double-digit increase in 2025.  

Dengue. The Florida Department of Health in Monroe County confirmed that two Upper Keys residents contracted dengue fever from mosquitos.
Teri wants to run TDC. Teri Johnston, the outgoing mayor of Key West, is among the applicants to lead the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.

Buffett. Parts of route A1A in Monroe and other counties will be named after late singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett after a bill was signed by DeSantis. 

Key Wests' PeopleforBikes rating improved. Chris Hamilton is pleased at the improvement, but there's more to be done.

Familiar, strange, and maybe a little blurred. Mark Hedden went to the mainland. and saw a scissor-tailed flycatcher on a wire, and killdeers

Our Eyes 

Alyson Crean

Previously in Key West Voices including Special alert on Childress firing

'Bubba uprising' at KW City Hall. In what local columnist Linda Cunningham dubbed a 'bubba uprising,' political intrigue is swirling around Key West's City Manager, who may be out of a job as early as Wednesday, June 26th.
(We don't) love that dirty water. FloridaHealth for Monroe County issued a press release detailing unsafe water due to enteric bacteria, an indication of fecal pollution. Only two of ten Monroe beaches' water was rated 'Good.' Water at Higgs, Smathers, and South beaches in Key West was rated 'Poor' and advisories were issued.

DeSantis cuts arts funding. Several organizations in the Florida Keys will need to seek funds from another source following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ veto of $26 million in grants for the arts.
  • MARC hit. The director of Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens, a nonprofit which is the only provider of services to adults with developmental disabilities in the Keys, wrote a letter to the editor to protest the cuts.
  • $800,000 local impactChris Hamilton detailed local impacts of the cut, which made national news. Impacted organizations include Waterfront Playhouse, Bahama Village Music Program, Mel Fisher and History of Diving Museums, Monroe County Council of the Arts, Key West Art & Historical Society, Key West Literary Seminar, Reef Environmental Education Foundation, and Red Barn Theatre.
Unopposed. Across the Florida Keys, 20 political races were settled outright on June 14, when the qualifying period for county and state races ended with no other opponents on the ballot.
Statewide referenda. Keys Weekly gave us a concise summary of six proposed amendments to the Florida Comnstitution we'll vote on this fall, address topics including abortion, marijuana, and school boards. 

TDC director job search. The Florida Keys is hiring a new president and CEO of the Tourist Development Council, Monroe County’s multimillion-dollar tourism agency.