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Charter Advertisers in the Spotlight: [Giola's Beauty Shop], [Grassy Key Resort], and [Headhunters Hair Salon].  Charter Advertisers are Florida Keys family businesses getting extra services and special rates.

Coco Plum Beach Sun Shot by L. E. ShafferFloridaKeysJournal.com
Digest of Last Month's Daily News

Volume 16 | Issue 7  | July 2010
  • FRONT PAGE: [Editor's Notes 5.26 | Keys Disease 5.29 | Shiver Report 5.31 |
    Editor's Notes 6.5 | Keys Disease 6.6 | Shiver Report 6.7 | NSWC 6.8 | Rob's Car Wash 6.9 |
    Autism Professor Needs Help 6.10 | Shiver Report 6.11 - Editor's Notes 6.12 |
    Keys Disease 6.12 | Oil Spill 6.15 | Editor's Notes 6.16 | Editor's Notes 6.19 |
    Keys Disease 6.20 | #33 Oil Spill 6.22 | Shiver Report 6.22 - Editor's Notes 6.23 |
    Keys Disease 6.26
    ]
  • PAGE TWO: [In The Keys | Internet Stuff: eReviews & eLinks | Press Photos |
    Journal Index]
     
  • EXTRA EXTRA: [Daily News | Gas Prices | Weather | Ad Rates/Info]
  • BACK PAGE: [Advertising | Classifieds | Subscribe | ACRONYMS | Events Schedule | Subscribe Web Calendar | Dull Stuff]
  • Happy Inedpendence DayThe Journal has changed with more focused content, & a newer, modern look. The Journal has exploded with readership. Most comments are praising the Journal for content & opinionating on the local political scene. Thank you for being loyal readers & advertisers. The advertising rates are changing to reflect our increased popularity. This results in more eyes on the advertising. You want your photo on the next issue? Send us a high-quality jpeg. Call 305-743-9648 for more information.

    Florida Keys!

    In The Keys {for current news, see our Daily News Queue}

    May 26, 2010 - Middle Keys - Marilyn Tempest: To Journal Readers: This is your new editor Marilyn Tempest FloridaKeysJournal.com Editorspeaking. Our publisher and former editor, Larry Shaffer, has invited me to step in for a time while he pursues a political career in Marathon.

     

     Since I know little to nothing about being an editor, I of course, jumped right in. How hard could it be, right?

     

    The Florida Keys is open to all opinions, and I welcome yours. The emphasis is on the Middle Keys and Marathon, but sometimes it is useful to step back and speak to a broader issue. Feel free.

     

    And Silly Season is upon us once again. The election pace will be picking up, which gives us lots to contemplate. The online candidate interviews will appear again this year, and we will be ready. I’ll try to keep up. Stay tuned. MT    

    Advertisers:
    links alphabetical order

    [7 Mile Marina] [All Keys Computers] [All Keys Glass] [Alo Jewelers] [Baricci Cafe] [Best Bet Charter]
    [Cannon Mobile Marine] [Cash Flow Pawn Shop] [Christinas Boutique] [Coconut Telegraph]
    [Collector's Corner] [Curlys COFFEE Company] [Daily Management]
    [Dana's Air Conditioning]
    [DiscountDivers] [Driftwood Marina] [Driftwood Pizza] [Duncan_Auto_Mall] [Easy Does It]
    [Ed Krane's Email Blast] [EdwardJones by Leslie] [Fire Fighter's Union 4396] [Floridamingo]
    [Food for Thought] [Forgotten Felines] [Frank's Grill] [Frank Ledbetter Metal Art] [Fred's Beds]
    [Freeman Automotive] [Florida Keys Vacations] [Gemini Printing] [Giola's Beauty Shop]
    [Grassy Key RV & Resort] [Headhunters Hair Salon] [Heffernan Law Office] [Hogfish Realty] [HomeWatch]
    [Island Time Tattoo] [Jean's Dollar Store] [Jolly Roger Trailer Park] [Kandios] [Kayaks & Bikes]
    [Keys Animal Hospital] [Keys Cycles] [Keys Grafix & Sign] [Keys Quality Canvas] [Keys RV]
    [Keyzee Tiki Vacation Rental]
    [Le Fe Cigar Corp.] [Leigh Ann's Coffee Shop] [Lencho's Restaurant]
    [Niles Sales & Service] [Original Swiveler Flag Poles] [Marathon Boat Yard] [Marathon Cleaners]
    [Marathon Lady]
    [Marine Connection] [Molten Glass Designs] [My Place Or Yours?] [Paradise Recycling]  [Prop Tech] [R. Hendrick Construction] [Sea Wiz Marine] [Signs by Renee] [Stanley Steemer] [Stingray Boats]  [Stuffed Pig] [Sunshine Key RV Resort/Marina] [Tilden's Scuba Center] [Time Out Magazine] [True Conch INC] [Tyrone's Car Wash] [UPS Store] [XFireWeb.com]

     

    May 29, 2010 - Florida Keys - John Bartus: Across the Pond John Bartus Award-Winning Keys DiseaseWeekly Columns | Keys Disease | Courtesy of The Weekly Newspapers | There is nothing funny about the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

     

    Every day, there seems to be worse and worse news about BP (Beyond Patience, Bastard Polluters, Beached Petroleum, Basically Pathetic) and their Deepwater Horizon oil gusher. As I type the words for this column, the “top kill” operation of pumping mud into the broken well goes on, hopefully with a successful outcome. Unfortunately, news sources are already calling this the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

     

    Louisiana is getting virtually no help from the BP or the government. Governor Bobby Jindal has been beside himself in trying to protect his beaches and estuaries while waiting for an Army Corps permit. Were I in his shoes, I’m not sure I’d have waited for the Feds to allow me to protect my shores.

     

    The entire northern Gulf fishing industry faces extinction. The destructive impact on wildlife is just beginning, and will only get worse with each passing day. Beach towns from Louisiana to the Panhandle, instead of getting ready for the summer season, are looking at cancelled bookings and an economic as well as an ecological disaster. And still, over a month after the spill began, BP’s response has been nothing short of woefully inadequate. Toxic dispersants and virtually no cleanup efforts at all are making things even worse. You know it’s bad when a Shell Oil executive comes on TV and tells the news audience how bad BP is screwing things up.

     

    Here in the Keys, we seem to be still facing a much brighter future than that which befalls the northern Gulf states. There is, however, a great deal of uncertainty as to what effects (if any) the Keys will feel. What we don’t need, however, are fear mongering and rumor reporting in the media.

     

    A local daily newspaper reported on a recent report of an oil “plume” near Key West, one of several false reports the Coast Guard has received. Most of these, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, have turned out to be “cloud shadows, algae blooms, and sargassum weed lines”. This particular plume was spotted by a charter captain and estimated to be over 80 feet long and ten feet below the surface – a rather large plume. Yet when a bucket was lowered to collect a sample, “the substance dispersed.” Let me get this straight: an 80’ plume of oil survives a 500-mile trip through the Gulf of Mexico, travels in a direction counter to where the currents are taking everything else, and manages to get to Key West… but when it encounters a bucket lowered from a fishing boat, it vanishes. Come on.

     

    Just as newsworthy (not!) was the large color photo of the tiny tarball from Big Pine Key that landed on the front page of a local semi-weekly news outlet. It was the size of a wad of used chewing gum with some sand and other detritus attached to it. It was as ecologically significant as a solitary fart in the atmosphere, yet there it was on the front page. Funny, isn’t it, that none of the tarballs found in the Keys have proven to come from the BP gusher?

     

    I grew up in Florida back in the 1960s and 70s. I’ve lived in the Keys since 1984. I used to frequent beaches on both the Atlantic and Gulf shores as well as those of our own islands. I can tell you from decades of personal experience that tarballs are not a new phenomenon for Florida beaches. All it takes is for a tanker or large vessel to flush its bilge, and tarballs are beach-bound. We might very well get tarballs from the BP gusher at some point. IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD.

     

    The real and verifiable good news for the Keys is that the Loop Current has kept shifting farther west. NOAA charts and forecast maps keep the limited amount of oil/sheen/tarballs that might have ventured near the Loop Current W-A-A-A-Y-Y west of the Keys. Nowhere near us. But the fear mongers won’t be happy until everyone here is petrified with dread over our certain demise.

     

    I, for one, will not stick my head in the sand and be paralyzed into inaction. Memorial Day weekend is here, and we do have a summer season ahead of us. Let’s continue to monitor the situation and deal with whatever may (or may not) happen here. Let’s be willing, as many Keys people are, to help to our Gulf neighbors. And let’s deal with reality as opposed to irrational panic.

     Keys Disease John Bartus

    It’s either that, or will the last person to leave the Keys please turn off the water?

     

    - John Bartus is a singer/songwriter and former Mayor of the City of Marathon. Currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce, John plays with Storm Watch this Friday (tonight) at Dockside, and Saturday at Hog Heaven in Islamorada. Tuesday finds John at Dockside, and Wednesday at Cabana Breezes. Thursday, John plays at Sparky’s Landing. www.johnbartus.com. 

     

    Ed. "As of Sunday, May 28th, BP has announced that Top Kill has failed to stem the oil discharge in the Gulf." MT

     

    May 30, 2010 - Marathon - Blair Shiver: The Shiver Report: USCG Updates Council on Response Plan. | Courtesy of The Weekly Newspapers | Blair ShiverAs oil continued to flow directly into the Gulf of Mexico this week from the Deepwater Horizon disaster – more than a month after the oilrig exploded and killed 11 workers on board – Capt. Pat DeQuattro of US Coast Guard Sector Key West appeared in Marathon to update the city council on response plans in the Florida Keys.

     

    The meeting was led by Vice Mayor Mike Cinque, who opened the evening with a moment of silence to reflect on the preciousness of life.

     

    “Our thoughts are with Mayor Ginger Snead, who as we speak, is attending a celebration of life for her father who just passed away,” Cinque informed.

     

    DeQuattro called the accident “unprecedented in scope of volume and complexity”. Particularly in the Keys, where so many businesses are dependent on the tourism industry for their livelihood, he pointed out the unique awareness amongst the public regarding tarball sightings and staying up-to-date on the latest information.

     

    After last week’s tar balls washed ashore in Key West, DeQuattro said the samples were immediately rushed to New London, Conn. Tar balls from Big Pine Key, Key West and the Dry Tortugas proved to be from multiple different sources, but none of which included the Deepwater Horizon rig.

     

    “We’ve been actively responding to and cleaning up pollution as the reports came in,” DeQuattro stated. “Overall, there’ve been no more than 100 tar balls from approximately 30 individual reports so far.”

     

    He continued that reports of a light sheen and scattered tar balls have entered the Loop Current – which is still hundreds of miles from the Florida Keys – and no definitive indicators report its approach in the near future.

     

    Reports as of press time indicated this week’s “top kill” procedure – one designed to cap the leak in the well owned by British Petroleum – is “going as planned and moving along as everyone had hoped” according to U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who’s leading the government’s response to the oil.

     

    DeQuattro told the council on Tuesday that with the unknown quantity of oil spewing into the Gulf until the leak is capped; the Coast Guard’s response plan is based on a strategy of adjustment as the latest information continues to reach the Florida Keys.

     

    “We continue to refine this with regards to changes in the situation,” he concluded.

     

    Andrew van Chau, a representative from BP, also appeared before the council and provided a direct line to file claims that was immediately posted to the city’s website.

     

    “My focus here is going to be reaching out to various businesses and working with them in going through the claims process,” said van Chau as he introduced himself.

     

    Councilman Pete Worthington pointed out that the $575 course fee for HAZMAT training requested from FKCC perplexed his fellow fishermen with boats at the ready for immediate response efforts.

     

    “There was a grant given to the college in the amount of $10,000 to assist with training,” van Chau reported. “I have not heard about people being asked to pay for training, so thank you for bringing that to my attention.”

     

    He continued by explaining the parameters of the company’s “Vessel of Opportunity” program that includes a four-hour training and charter agreement. If a boat owner agrees to enter the program, van Chau explained that BP would cover additional costs to continue the necessary training.

     

    “But we were told last week that the oil could arrive within two weeks,” Worthington pointed out. “Seems to me like now’s the time to start with that training.”

     

    Van Chau replied that the necessary training could be initiated within a few hours.

     

    City Manager Roger Hernstadt encouraged Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Samess to coordinate with van Chau on conducting a claims procedure workshop for Middle Keys businesses.

     

    BP Loss of Business Claims contact information is (800) 440-0858 or visit http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon/index.cfm.

    June 5, 2010 - Florida Keys - Marilyn Tempest: HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEWS? Marilyn Tempest FloridaKeysJournal.com Editor

    It is unsettling to those of us who watch, read and discuss the “news”. I used to be a big defender of the news media, but I am rethinking my position. Where has the unbiased media gone? Nowhere can you get fair presentations of two sides of an important issue. The days of the 6 o’clock news with Fred VanDeventer on WOR radio in NYC are gone forever. He presented facts, no editorializing.

     

    My most recent epiphany occurred several weeks ago when I turned to Leonard Pitts in the Miami Herald. His is the first column I read on Sunday, and I have done so for years. He is widely syndicated, and is an intelligent purveyor from the moderate left. I come from the moderate right. He has swayed me from time to time with his reasoning, and always informed me factually about the issues as seen through his political lens.

     

    That Sunday, he shocked me. He lost his cool. Instead of addressing real issues of the Tea Party movement, such as severe deficits, growing government, and redistribution of wealth, he played the race card. He wrote an article filled with anger over a shouting incident on the Capitol steps where the N word was used repeatedly, by some bigot during a Tea Party demonstration. He took the name calling personally, but it was a red herring. The real concerns were buried yet again, and discourse was cut short. The gorillas are still in the room, and we refuse to talk civilly about them.

     

    Today we are forced to choose from media weapons which are used to inflame us. Tune to FOX and some of the programming will attempt to whip you into a frenzy based on very conservative views. Turn to MSNBC, and you are blasted with the vitriolic fervor of the far left. And CNN, although somewhat less toxic, still instructs the commentators to ask guests to “cast blame” on someone, for every single bump in the road. When guests try to avoid casting blame and discuss an issue without rancor, the interviewer rudely badgers them to identify a bad guy. It is good theater, I guess, but not good reporting.

     

    I long for a day when politicians of differing views can sit together out in the open, and work towards compromise that benefits the people they serve. It would be even better if they were admired by the electorate for such behavior, and rewarded at the polls. There are rare glimpses of it in small towns like Marathon, but at a national level honest discourse, if it happens, is always behind closed doors.

     

     The media could step up and provide that forum by refusing to vilify elected officials as a means to generate revenue. It is a lot to ask, but perhaps we could designate a “National News Hour” when all TV and radio would take a neutral stance, and let us hear just the news. MT 

     

    June 5, 2010 - Florida Keys - John Bartus: Keys Disease Social StudiesWeekly Columns | Keys Disease | John Bartus Award-Winning Keys DiseaseCourtesy of The Weekly Newspapers | The latest “Big Thing” to hit the Wonderful World of the InterWebs is the idea we now call “social networking”. MySpace was the pioneer social networking hub; its unfriendly interface, however, was unappealing to many users. (This is a columnist’s way of saying that he, personally, never liked MySpace.) A MySpace user can add as many friends as he or she wants, and can customize his or her site with strange backgrounds that never align with anything else on the page.

     

     

    Then came Twitter. One can post anything he or she wants to, so long as the message, or “tweet” in Twitterese, doesn’t exceed 140 characters. Of course, tweets can only be read by “followers” of the tweet poster, so the idea is to establish a Twitter account, and then solicit as many followers as possible. Politicians love Twitter. In fact, it’s a great way to tell if your Representative or Senator is actually casting votes on bills, or simply tweeting about what’s wrong in Washington.

     

    The most popular of all the social networking sites is Facebook. For those three of you out there unfamiliar with Facebook, it’s like Twitter with pictures. And very stupid time-wasting games. Unlike any other networking site, however, Facebook allows its users to poke and be poked. If you’ve never poked someone online, well…

     

    After you establish your Facebook account, you can publish as much or as little information about yourself as you wish. It seems that most people today, in these times of identity theft and online privacy concerns, publish just about everything about themselves with the possible exception of their Social Security number! Date of birth… hometown… current city… education and job experience… interests… and whether you’re “in a relationship,” “single,” “married,” or “it’s complicated” are all pieces of information you can choose to share with your Facebook “friends,” or anyone else who searches you out. In fact, Facebook is the number one method for all those people you went to high school with and never wanted to hear from again to find you and “friend” you. The good news is that you can “unfriend” someone on Facebook as well.

     

    Photos are a key component of Facebook. There seems to be no limit on how many photos, organized into “albums”, you can post for friends to see. Post photos of yourself, your weekend, your getaway, your car, your trip to Wal-Mart, your boring job, your new chair – heck, you can even post a photo of your Social Security card! Facebook photos are the number one way we know we wouldn’t recognize most people we went to high school with if we saw them on the street. (That’s what he looks like now?!? Wow…)

     

    For those people with too much spare time (and they seem to number in the millions), there are games like Bejeweled Blitz, Mafia Wars, and my favorite, FarmVille. The object of FarmVille, near as I can tell because I’ve never played the game, is to “work” on your virtual farm by planting virtual plants and caring for virtual animals. Until you learn the secret of turning off game updates in your “News Feed,” every one of your friends who plays FarmVille will generate updates of lost farm animals who are sad and need a new home and won’t you adopt them? There are lost brown cows, lost black cows, lost ugly ducklings, lost black sheep, and more, all looking to find a new home. (I wonder if there’s a FarmVille farm that will turn the lost cows into virtual hamburgers.)

     

    You can ask your FarmVille friends for help, “sell” them your crops, even (I believe) ask for virtual fertilizer (now there’s a concept!). You can even post “photos” of your farm into your very own FarmVille photo album. And we wonder why our modern society is less productive. Microsoft’s “Solitaire” finally has real competition in the Workplace Wasting of Time department.

     

    I can only imagine what might happen if all the “work” being done in virtual FarmVille farms were actually being performed on real farms. We would likely solve the world’s hunger problems with all the crops being grown… atKeys Disease John Bartus

     the expense of having sad lonely lost brown cows roaming our neighborhoods looking for adoptive homes.

     

    - John Bartus is a singer/songwriter and former Mayor of the City of Marathon. Currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce, John plays with Storm Watch this Friday (tonight) at Dockside, and Saturday at the Key Colony Inn. Tuesday finds John at the Sunset Grille, and Wednesday at Cabana Breezes. Thursday, John plays at Sparky’s Landing. www.johnbartus.com.

     

    Blair Shiver

    June 6, 2010 - Marathon - Blair Shiver: Marathon City Council Candidate Profiles. | Courtesy of The Weekly Newspapers.
    Joan Nelson
    Name
    : “Bicycle Joanie” Nelson

    Age: 68

    Years in Marathon: Almost 40 years

    Education: M.A. in English Literature, 3 Years at University of Hawaii on state grant

    Occupation: Food Tester, Waitress, Bartender and Former School Teacher

    Family: Two sons

    Please explain the most pressing issue in your term once elected and/or elaborate on why you decided to run for office/election.
    Bicycle Joanie’s dedication to the “little people” of Marathon has been well documented, and her passion is often on display during Marathon City Council meetings, particularly when any kind of development agreement comes before the council. For years, she has run for numerous political offices and nearly won on more than one occasion.

    “Some people don’t like me using the term ‘little people’ but I took that from Gulliver’s Travels,” she explained. “Basically, I’m running for office because I don’t think any of them [the current council] are strong enough or fight hard enough for the people that have been consistently squeezed out of the Keys in the last 40 years.”


    Dick Ramsay

    Name: Dick Ramsay

    Age: 68

    Hometown: Marathon

    Years in the Keys: 38 years

    Occupation: retired businessman

    Family: Thea, wife of 49 years; three children: Laura Gratton, Rick Ramsay and Beth Ramsay and proud grandfather of Tara, Leia and Josh.

    Please explain the most pressing issue in your term once elected and/or elaborate on why you decided to run for office/re-election.
    I love the City of Marathon and have enjoyed filling the campaign promises I made to our residents two years ago. Since 2008, I spearheaded a lateral sewer summit to help save our residents’ money; established an online permitting process to make building and renovations easier for our citizens; renegotiated or closed stalled development agreements to push the economy; and sponsored a Local Preference Ordinance to help our locally owned businesses secure government contracts.

    But my work for the City of Marathon is not done. Once re-elected, my primary objective will be to complete what I have already started, which is to establish a Port of Entry office in Marathon. This would open our town to the global marketplace by enabling international travelers and cargo to clear customs right here in Marathon.


    Larry Shaffer

    Name: Larry Shaffer

    Age: 59

    Hometown: Marathon

    Years in the Keys: Going on 15 years

    Education: High school, 25-years military, and St. Leo College

    Occupation: FloridaKeysJournal.com Publisher

    Family: I love my three grown children, but twelve grandchildren are much better!

    Please explain the most pressing issue in your term once elected and/or elaborate on why you decided to run for office/re-election.
    The city must work on long-term decision-making regarding jobs, economy and budgeting. Marathon’s next decade is critical to our successful future. Let us put together a job exchange to get all those in Marathon offering jobs connected to all those Marathoners needing a job, locals for locals. Every dollar that stays in the city comes back to us three-fold. Let us collaborate with small mom-and-pop businesses to preserve them as well as attracting suitable new businesses into our city. Let us budget responsibly without endangering safety, health and environment. I am running for city council to serve all of Marathon’s residents.


    Mayor Ginger Snead

    Name: Ginger Snead

    Age: 48

    Hometown: Tampa, FL

    Years in the Keys: 17 years

    Education: Master’s in Biological Sciences, Doctorate in Physical Therapy

    Occupation: Physical Therapist

    Family: Daughter Nikki; Son Tony; Stepdaughter Kerri; and five beautiful grandchildren

    Please explain the most pressing issue in your term once elected and/or elaborate on why you decided to run for office/re-election.
    The most pressing issue I see facing Marathon is the completion of the entire waste/storm water project including re-paving of all roads and restoration of all neighborhoods.  In conjunction with the completion of these efforts, I believe making Marathon a more attractive place for people to visit, live and have businesses is paramount.  These are just the obvious issues that face Marathon.  There are many more issues that would require more than 100 words to properly address. Please email or Facebook me with your thoughts and ideas as the real issues facing Marathon are those that the residents view as important.


    John Vassil

    Name: John Vassil

    Age:  63

    Hometown: Commack, NY

    Years in the Keys:  24

    Education: BA Biology, BS Pharmacy

    Occupation: Retired pharmacist, former pharmacy owner and Walgreens pharmacy manager

    Family: Son and Daughter

    Please explain the most pressing issue in your term once elected and/or elaborate on why you decided to run for office/re-election.
    I have provided service to the community as a pharmacist since 1986. My late wife, Diana, graduated high school and served as an optometrist in Marathon. I have raised a son and daughter who are now 20 and 16.

    I have listened to and helped people in this community innumerable times. I have an open mind, sense of fairness and a wish continue serving the city of Marathon.

    I understand the nuances of running a successful business:  working with a budget providing, customer service, problem solving and being proactive.

    I will offer fiscal prudence; having a realistic capital improvement budget; maintaining public access to city government; being ombudsman for the people and businesses of the city; and represent all the people, not just selected constituents.


    Councilman Pete Worthington

    Name:  Pete Worthington

    Age: 53

    Hometown: Marathon

    Years in the Keys: 38

    Education: Graduated Marathon High 1974, Some college courses and special training, Ocean Operator Master, 100 ton CG license since 1979

    Occupation: Self-employed for 35 years through Charter Fishing and as a Commercial Fisherman; also a State License Boat Dealer 15 years.

    Family: Married for 35 years to my wife Trich; two children, Eddy and Kimberly; and a great dog, Ally

    Please explain the most pressing issue in your term once elected and/or elaborate on why you decided to run for office/re-election. 
    I have been involved with the city as a councilman going on seven years. I want to see the completion of our wastewater and storm water project. I have been involved in this project before the city took it over from FKAA. I am proud the city has secured almost $ 21,000,000 in grants to build this project to date.

    I have been very involved with the successful Boot Key Harbor improvements and would like to see that to completion with the new docks coming in the future.

    Most importantly, I want to maintain fiscal responsibility through the difficult economic times our residents and businesses have been facing, and I’ll continue to support economic development for our businesses.

    June 8, 2010 - Marathon - Jeri Sears: June 3 Near Shore Waters Committee Meeting. These are my Jeri & Max Sears Regular Contributors to the FloridaKeysJournal.com

    unofficial notes from the June 3RD NSWC meeting.  I make no claim as to the correctness of the notes:

    1.  Guests present: Roger Hernstadt - Marathon City Manager, Dick Ramsay - Marathon City Council member, and Dick's lovely wife, Thea.

    2.  Recap of the Marathon Seafood Festival - Bennett Orr gave the report.  He said that the Marathon Seafood Festival is the 2ND largest event in the Keys.  The Festival has been held each year for the last 34 years.  25% of the net proceeds go to the fisherman's organization and 75% stays in Marathon.

            A.  Dick Ramsay - Marathon City Councilman -  asked the NSWC to consider parking options for the park, shuttle, purchase of a lot, etc.

            B. Roger Hernstadt - the Marathon City Manager - congratulated Bennett and the participants on a great festival.

    3.  Citizen's Comments - none at this time

    4.  Update on Rachel Key (Bird Island) Aid to Navigation - Permit has been turned in to the USCG and they are processing it.  DEP reviewed the permit  and found no major difficulties.

    5.  Customs in Marathon - Councilman Ramsay reported that he has meet with the Customs and Border Patrol and the County.  The Customs Office will be at the U.S Border Patrol Office at 3770 O/S Hwy. in Marathon.  The costs associated with Customs should be covered by user based fees.  Customs should be  ready to handle the harbor traffic from out of the country in January 2011 and the airport should be ready by summer.  Roger Hernstadt thanked Council Ramsay for all his efforts in bringing Customs to Marathon.  Customs will have a huge impact on the local economy.  

    6.   Oil Spill's Potential Effect on Marathon's NSW - Richard Tanner included a list on contacts for the oil spill information. Dick Ramsay requested that the NSWC recommend to the City council that a "Town Hall" type meeting be held with BP, USCG, NSWC, City Council, and interested citizens.  Bennett Orr said he will notify the fisherman's groups as soon as a date is available.  Council Ramsay would like to see a plan of action and a time frame.  Manager Hernstadt would like to visit the feasibility of attacking the spill in the northern Gulf before it gets to the Keys.

    7.  Report to council - Jeri Sears will report to council on June 22ND.  The topics were approved. 

    8.  NSWC Resolution Edit - NSWC has been updating the Resolution that was accepted by Council on June 11, 2002 for the formation of the NSWC and their duties.  The edit was approved and will be sent to Council.  

    9.  Austin DiRenzo, Assistant Ports Director, Resignation - the NSWC signed a letter of Appreciation for all the work that Austin has done for the marina and the harbor.  The letter will be presented at the June 8Th Council meeting by Rich Jones and Jane Packard.

    10.  Updates -

            A.  Deck Railing - the railing will be replaced as soon as the thimble hangers are attached to each mooring ball - estimated to be mid June.

            B.  Big "A" Fan- was installed about 1 month ago and is working great.

            C.  FWCC Mooring Field Pilot Program - program is moving along nicely.  The county has been collecting data from Marathon, Key West, and Boca Chica Basin.

            D.  Fence and light at Boot Key Bridge - The bollard, gate, and "No Trespassing" signs will be installed soon.  No update on the light.

            E.  FWCC PSA Update - A call to Lt. Dipre was placed on June 2ND requesting that he send the PSA regarding the boaters and the hurricane season.

    Sincerely,

    Jeri Sears

    June 10, 2010 - Marathon - Diane Chaplin-Colvard : NOW OPEN for BUSINESS! Rob's Car Wash, Rob's Car WashRob's family
    11055 Overseas Hwy Marathon, FL.

    Congratulations to the Preihs family! Rob's Car Wash, a full service state-of- the-art car wash, is now OPEN!

    The Preihs family have been Keys property owners for several years and will become full time residents this year. Rob has built and operated successful carwashes for the last 10 years. Rob and Lou, his wife, said, "We want to fulfill a need in these beautiful sunny Keys."

    Please visit  www.robscarwash.com.

    June 11, 2010 - California - John Cannell, MD: Autism Professor Needs Help. 5/26/10. Professor Gene Medical Symbol
    Stubbs of the University of Oregon needs help with his study about vitamin D and autism. He is testing the theory that a mother with one child with autism will not have another if the mother takes vitamin D during her pregnancy. Women no longer need to come to the University of Oregon but can participate at a distance.

    Professor Stubbs writes:

    "Can anyone assist us in recruiting mothers who already have children with autism and the mother is pregnant again before her third trimester? We are giving the mothers 5000 IU D3/day. So far every mother who has delivered has delivered within 1 week or on the date of expected delivery, and the babies are well within normal birth weights. They have not progressed far enough in age for us to screen for autism, but so far, the babies are interactive, have eye contact, are vocal etc..

    However, we need more research families to participate. We have recruited other doctors to help us recruit and we have recruited doctors on the Vitamin D Council sites to help us recruit. We still need more families to participate to make our results significant. The families no longer have to come to our site to participate. If you know of any families who potentially might be eligible for our research, please give them my research assistant's phone number, 503-351-9255."

    Thank you,
    John Cannell, MD
    The Vitamin D Council
    1241 Johnson Ave., #134
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

    June 11, 2010 - Marathon - Blair Shiver: The Shiver Report: City Council Demands Answers. | Courtesy of Blair ShiverThe Weekly Newspapers. | BP, USCG Remain Vague with Plan of Action. With little new information than was disseminated more than two weeks ago when reports of tarballs at Ft. Zachary Taylor and along the Lower Keys began rolling in, Commander Tom Walsh from U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West appeared Tuesday night with BP Community Liaison Andrew Van Chau at Marathon’s regularly scheduled council meeting.

     

    Much to the frustration of the council and the audience in attendance, neither representative could give a straight answer to the repeated question of “Do you have a plan?”.

     

    “We keep hearing ‘We have a plan, we have a plan, we have a plan’,” Mayor Ginger Snead implored. “Our residents want to know how they can help. We’re not looking for a pat on the head like we’re three years old. We don’t want to be reactive, but proactive.” Walsh told the council that though the Coast Guard is responding to more than quadruple the average reports of tarballs, to date, none of them are tied to the Deepwater Horizon spill. He suggested sources of the tarballs could range from container ship seepage to vessel cleaning discharge and even sunken vessels offshore.

     

    “All actions are done in accordance with the Area Contingency Plan,” Walsh said of the Coast Guard’s response efforts, adding that in partnership with NOAA, the environmental arm of the unit will continue to monitor the current and developing situation. He went on the brief the council on the Vessel Sentry program that currently has two boats positioned due west of the Dry Tortugas looking for signs of oil heading for the Keys.

     

    “We’re relying on theories that oil will only come here in the form of tarballs,” Vice Mayor Mike Cinque grilled. “Do you have boom in place? Are you finding local assets?”

     

    Van Chau said that in addition to satellite monitoring, the Vessel Sentry puts “boats and crews on the water with eyeballs looking for sheens and tarballs coming this way” and that program would function as an early warning system.

     

    “The response will be based on what we see coming this way,” he offered. Councilman Pete Worthington, also a commercial fisherman, said the Gulfstream surrounding the Keys is not like the Gulf waters to the north.

     

    “The Dry Tortugas are 60 miles out, and at three knots an hour, you’re talking about 20 hours away from Key West once you detect it with your sentries,” Worthington suggested. “My concern is it sounds like the time the sentry sends the red flag up…are we gonna be prepared?

     

    Coral Marine Construction owner George Steinmetz, with whom Councilman Dick Ramay had already sought some professional consultation on response matters, continued to put the pair on the hot seat.

     

    “If you know three days from now that there are five square miles of tarballs heading for Marathon, what’s you plan?” Steinmetz asked firmly.

     

    Walsh answered, much to the council’s dissatisfaction, “It depends upon where the tarballs are likely to impact in Marathon and the type of shoreline. The unfortunate reality of tarballs is that booming is not a great strategy for tarballs. They can go beneath the surface of the water. Boom is not a great oil prevention strategy.”

     

    “So we can’t keep them off our shore is what you’re saying? We have no plan to keep them off our shores, is that what you’re saying?” Snead continued. She reiterated to Walsh that tarballs left floating in the mangroves would undoubtedly affect the local fishery and in turn tourism at the foundation of the community’s economy.

     

    “This is all pretty hard to swallow in light of the fact we’ve been told there is a plan,” she rebuked. To the slight surprise of his fellow council people, Ramsay unfolded his plans for a community-wide meeting where residents can seek answers to the tough questions looming in everyone’s minds.

     

    “Do you have 30 miles of boom material or not? Are you going to use our local fishing interest? I’m sick and tired of this nonsense! I don’t care about snakes or balls and all this smoke and mirrors,” he demanded.

     

    The council agreed to a special call meeting Monday, June 14 at 5:30 at Marathon High School auditorium.


    June 12, 2010 - Marathon - Marilyn Tempest: Editor Comments
    . PROCESS IS IMPORTANT. There Marilyn Tempest FloridaKeysJournal.com Editorwere awkward moments at 6/8 Marathon Council meeting  while Council members expressed frustration at the inability of Coast Guard and BP reps to respond definitively when asked about a plan to protect the Keys from the oil spill.

    Expressing anger and impatience, one Councilman took the questioning to the outer edge of civility.   After apologizing for that, he concluded by announcing a Marathon meeting of all interested parties to be held Monday, June 14th at the High School.    No one else on the Council dais had a clue, which was  blamed on the sunshine law.    This, too, was an awkward moment.

    Anger and impatience at BP efforts may be justified.   A meeting bringing all the parties together in the Middle Keys is probably a good idea.    My unease came from the obvious discomfort of other Council members when one member decided to go it alone.   They did not enjoy the surprise.   We looked a little foolish, disorganized and out of sync as a city; there was a time conflict. A hasty concurrence followed.

    Council members often have ideas that are worth while, and deserve to be acted upon.   That is, after all, why they were elected.   Ideas should be shared with other Council members prior to acting on them.    That can be done at an advertised meeting, or by using the services of the city manager to communicate with other Council members.    Surprises are unnecessary, even in rapidly changing situations.   The process is there, and we should use it.    

    June 12, 2010 - Florida Keys - John Bartus: Bumbling Principal
    John Bartus Award-Winning Keys DiseaseWeekly Columns | Keys Disease | Courtesy of The Weekly Newspapers | Well, here we are over 50 days after British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded, sending 11 workers to their deaths, and unleashing an uncontrollable gusher of Louisiana “light sweet crude” oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Luckily, I’m here to report that it’s been sealed off and that the worries are over, no problem, it’s all cleaned up and life is back to normal.

    Well, I’d like to report that. The real news is that the “cap” they put on the sawed-off pipe is capturing a “significant” amount of the leaking crude. A look at the live video feed shows “significant” amounts of crude still being released into the Gulf while people from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle are watching their summer season, their fisheries, and their entire way of life ruined. Throughout the crisis, BP CEO Tony Hayward’s calm and reassuring words have been inspirational to the people whose lives have been devastated and destroyed.
     
    Well, I’d like to report that. Unfortunately, Mr. Hayward’s words and deeds may go down in history as one of the biggest corporate FUBARs ever. Right after the spill, Hayward asked his fellow BP executives, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?” I’m sure the families of the 11 dead rig workers and the people of the Gulf Coast might be in a better position to ask that question than a CEO who earned more than $6 million in salary and bonuses last year. At least that was the only wrong thing he said.
     
    Well, I’d like to report that. Mr. Hayward continued to issue forth amazing proclamations likely designed to minimize the perception of how bad things really were. On May 14, Hayward told a British newspaper, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” That was before no end was in sight to this gusher that continues to pour crude into the Gulf, over 36 million gallons by a conservative estimate as of this past Thursday. Just four days later, as oil continued to bleed into the Gulf from the failed blowout preventer, Hayward reassured us as he said, “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” That same day, when asked by reporters if he could sleep at night knowing what was happening, Mr. Hayward replied, “Of course I can.” After these gaffes, after getting quite used to the taste of his own foot, Tony Hayward finally grasped the severity of the situation and the ramifications of its long-term consequences.
     
    Well, I’d like to report that. On May 31, as he attempted to issue an apology for BP’s role in the disaster, Mr. Hayward uttered the now infamous quote he’ll be remembered for long after the flow of oil is finally stopped: “I would like my life back.” Well, Tony, guess what? So would the 11 deceased oilrig workers. So would the myriad birds and sea creatures that have perished because of oil contamination. The people in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida would like their summer season back. Gulf Coast fishermen would like their fisheries and their livelihoods back. Speaking on behalf of the millions of us who are affected in one way or another, I WOULD LIKE MY GULF BACK!
     
    The latest news is that BP still plans to pay out dividends to its shareholders, the company suggesting that it can handle all the costs of cleanup and claims and still afford the dividend payments. Keep in mind that American corporations and British corporations differ on their dividend philosophy. According to UK’s Guardian, “British investors view dividends less as a one-off reward than as the price of maintaining access to the capital markets.” Still, the payment of $10 billion in dividends sends the wrong signal to all those here awaiting cleanup and claims payments. Given its track record, however, BP doing the right thing seems as likely as Elton John playing at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding… oh. He did?!? Wow.
     
    At least regional fishing digests aren’t doing stupid economy-killing stuff like publishing altered oil-ruined shore photos with Photoshopped grossly enlarged dead beached sail catfish on their covers… oh. It must be anotherKeys Disease John Bartus graduate of the Tony Hayward Business School.
     
    - John Bartus is a singer/songwriter and former Mayor of the City of Marathon. Currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce, John plays with Storm Watch this Friday (tonight) at Dockside, and Saturday at the Key Colony Inn. Wednesday finds John at Cabana Breezes. Thursday, John plays at Sparky’s Landing.
    www.johnbartus.com.

    June 15, 2010 - Marathon - Jeri Sears: Deep Water Horizon City of Marathon Special Call Meeting Jeri & Max Sears Regular Contributors to the FloridaKeysJournal.comJune 14. (The following information is from my personal notes.  I make no guarantee of the correctness of the information.) 

    The special call meeting began at 5:30 Pm at the Marathon High School.  The crowd was well represented.  The citizen’s comments were consistent in reporting loss of tourist dollars from cancellations of rentals and delay in the purchase of property, the fishermen all expressed their fear of the oil reaching the Keys and the impact on their ability to earn a living, several speakers offered the expertise of their members in dealing with the oil if or when it reaches the Keys.  The speakers also expressed frustration in dealing with the BP claims office. One of the speakers asked everyone to tie blue and green ribbons on their trees, mailboxes, houses, etc to symbolize the concern over the oil disaster.

    Speakers and their comments:

    1.      County Commissioner Mario Di Gennaro – Gov. Crist’s appointment to the Gulf oil spill Economic Recovery Task Force

    - The Keys has received 54.9% of the negative media coverage

    - The county is to receive funds from the state via BP

    - BP has changed the way it will disperse funds – it will now pay the municipalities directly for approved claims

    - As of now the oil is not coming to the Keys 

    - FWCC has planes at the Tortuga’s watching for the oil

    - BP needs to fund advertising letting the public know the Keys don’t have an oil problem

         2.   Kim Sovia-Crandon, Florida Keys Congressional Aide Representing Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

                    - Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has had meetings with all the parties involved

                    - One of her major concerns is the BP claims system is too complicated  

         3.    State Representative Ron Saunders

                    - Rep. Saunders got the Keys designated as a Disaster Area so that the Keys would be eligible for State and Federal Funding

                    - The State is considering a moratorium on the renewal of the Salt Water Products Licenses

                    - The state will not allow any dispersants in the state waters

                    - BP is paying for all training

                    - BP should consider all clean up options

                    - It is not acceptable for the Keys to wait for approval from BP before actions is taken on the oil

                    -The USCG is the contact for the chain of command

     

    4.    NOAA

                    1.  Sean Morton Sanctuary Superintendant

     

                             - The role of NOAA is to give the USCG the scientific data necessary

                             - NOAA gives the trajectories – 6 maps a day

                             - The maps are compiled from Satellites, over flights, and vessels

                                   

                    2.  Scott Donahue, Research Coordinator

     

    - The Environmental unit has the task of how to respond to specific crisis and how that response will affect other areas

                 - The Environmental unit will give the USCG different options for different scenario

     

                     3.  Dr. Dave Vaughn, Executive Director of MOTE Marine Laboratories

     

    -          MIRA is a program used by MOTE to track problems reported by the local observers, i.e. fishermen, snorkelers, divers, etc and the warnings are used as early warnings

    -          MOTE has 2 robots that have been in use for 3 weeks.  The robots are checking north of Key West and the Tortugas for any under water oil.  As of now the robots have detected ”0” oil

    -          The Loop current has formed a gyre is degrading the oil at this time with natural forming bacteria

     

    5.    USCG Key West Sector Response Plan – Captain P. DeQuattro

     

    -          USCG has 3 vessels at the Tortugas

    -          The vessels are checking further north looking for sheen and/or tar balls

    -          The Florida Peninsula Command Center is set up in Miami

    -          Capt. Di Quattro gave a report on the equipment available

    -          The plan is to get the right resources to the right area at the right time

    -          Wait and see what is needed and where

     

    6.  BP Response and Claims Update – Mark Shultz BP Response Public Information Officer

     

    -          Mitigate impacts – if it does happen be ready

    -          Claims office in Marathon is simplifying the procedures.  Marathon office can now write checks.  Bring all documentation you have

    -          Training – the training will be for vessels that have been impacted by the oil and others that have had a loss of income because of the oils impact

    -          Do not send the wrong message by starting the training too soon.

     

    7.  Kelly Grinter, Marathon Wild Bird Center

                         

    -          FWCC has asked them to wait and see if the oil comes this way

    -          DEP has hired a company from Delaware that specializes in oil spill wild life cleanup and they will come to the Keys if necessary

     

    8.  Ryan Butts, Marathon Turtle Hospital

     

                    -  Ryan and Richie Moretti are going to the oil spill in a few days and observe the procedure that they are using for cleanup of the oil soaked turtles

                    - The Turtle Hospital is working with USFW on the removal of oil from the turtles if necessary

                    - The Turtle Hospital will hold any turtles that have had to be cleaned for about 6 weeks to make sure they are OK

     

    9.  Volunteer Services, Tom Riddle

     

          -Their role in the oil clean up is to train responders and support volunteers

          -Please call your entire group of out of the area friends and family and tell them the Keys are open for business

          -Message must be consistent that we are OK

          -Contribute to the local organizations that help the needy in the Keys

     

    10.  City Council Comments

     

                 1.  Pete Worthington

                                    - The training, costs, and equipment should be available now – not later

                                    - BP should advertise that the Keys are fine

                                    - Resources should be down here now for the potential of deep oil

     

                 2.  Mike Cinque

     

                 - A company has a method of dealing with deep oil using Oxygen bubbled through the oil along with microbes injected

                 - Investigate any and all options

     

                3.  Rich Keating

     

           -Does BP have funds available to market the Keys?

     

                4.   Dick Ramsay

     

                    -The council had sent a list of questions to the USCG and BP.  Dick would like written responses to those questions

     

                5.  Ginger Snead

     

                    -Ginger accepted the trip to the command center in Miami

                    - What can the city spend money on if the oil comes this way?

     

    11.  Jeri Sears Near Shore Waters Committee

     

    I gave a short talk.  I congratulated all the people who had volunteered their experience and equipment.   I suggested a committee be appointed to coordinate the volunteers and train each group on their specific areas of cleanup – when and if we get oil

     

    12.  Mike Cinque

     

                    -Mike made a motion to have the City Manager set up a plan for identifying the volunteers and assisting in their training.  The motion also included the feasibility of getting equipment to the Keys now.  The motion passed unanimously.

     

    The meeting adjourned about 8:30 PM.  Jeri Sears

     

    June 16, 2010 - Marathon - Marilyn Tempest: Tale of Two Meetings:
           Marilyn Tempest FloridaKeysJournal.com Editor
    OIL SPILL--- 6/14 in Marathon, nearly 200 people plus a plethora of officials gathered at the High School to review the Oil Spill impacts and plans.   On the dais were reps from MOTE, NOAA, BP,   City Council members, Rep. Ron Saunders, Commissioner Mario DiGennaro, and Kim Sovia-Camden for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.   Very little new information was available other than details regarding substantial resources deployed to give early warning of when and what form of contaminants could come to the Keys.  Many citizens spoke of awkward claim process and  no forum for volunteer opportunities.   Improvements were promised.   Kelly Grinter and Ryan Butts from the Wild Bird Center and Turtle Hospitals had the best  plans.   Kelly is waiting until the threat is identified, and staying close to experts to determine appropriate action.   Ryan announced that he and Richie Moretti will go to the Gulf Coast to witness for themselves the turtle situation to prepare intelligently should disaster move in our direction.    

         FISHERMEN’S HOSPITAL---6/15 in Marathon at the Fire House, about 30 people gathered to listen to an update on Fishermen’s search for management after HMA departs in July 2011.   Dresnick Healthcare has been hired by Fishermen’s board to facilitate the transition from where we are today to some newly defined level of care.  They will try to determine what community wants, and what we are willing to do to get it, i.e. step up philanthropic effort, establish a hospital taxing unit, etc.?   To that end, a survey was handed out, and we were invited to take it online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/FishermensFuture.   Hospital board members were there to assist with Q & A session, which was lively.   It was revealed that Baptist is no longer seeking to take on Fishermen’s.   An RFP has yielded a number of responses from For-Profit organizations, and Fishermen’s board will make a decision by August  based on your survey results.

    June 19, 2010 - Florida - Marilyn Tempest: INSTANT GRATIFICATION. July 4th weekend is soon here, Marilyn Tempest FloridaKeysJournal.com Editorand we will celebrate our 234th  national birthday.  It gives a person reason to pause, and wonder  what options will be out there for our grandchildren who will grow up in an environment where technology trumps all. Our nation is maturing and planet earth is showing her age.  The signs of time flying surround us, and there are serious concerns about our  future.  But that is then… much later…and this is now.

    Today, we make the shopping list, inventory the dolphin filets in the freezer (Heaven forbid we have to buy fish for the fryer), wash the lawn chairs, rake the lawn rocks, change the oil in the boat, raise the volleyball net, and prepare for this wonderful day.   Nobody does it any better than Marathon.  We don our red, white and blue shirts, we stand tall as the flag passes, we sing the national anthem with passion, and we are proud to be Americans.

     So here’s the deal—instant gratification has its place, like this holiday weekend when we will eat a lot of hot dogs, fish sandwiches, potato salad, and ice cream, engage in too many athletic events, and overindulge in any number of ways because it feels good, and it tastes good, and it is good.  We will get way too much sun.  But most of all, we will enjoy the camaraderie of family and friends.  It is precious time, and the cost is low in dollars, and the resultant weight gain, sprained ankles, and sunburn will only hurt for a little while.  

    Now let’s look at some analogous situations that will effect us for a year, a decade, or longer.  The upcoming preparation of our county and city budgets will give us many opportunities for instant gratification.  There are long lists of important buildings and services that citizens need and/or want now, not tomorrow, but now.  One by one these items will be considered, their short and long term value stacked up against the cost.  And herein lies the rub.

     Governments and citizens have less money this year, and we must not succumb to the instant gratification of saying yes to everything, and taking on irresponsible levels of debt.   Although this has happened on a national level, we have to resist the temptation to obligate future local  revenues unnecessarily.  Let’s reintroduce the quaint notion of saving for something before we buy it.  This course of action is the antithesis of instant gratification.  It requires thoughtful and prudent vision, followed by disciplined planning and execution.  We can and must do this.  

    But for now, for this weekend, I will yield to the pleasures of the moment, and enjoy all the rewards that accompany it.  Fire up the grill, put ice in the coolers, cook the ribs and beans, and put on a smile, for this is hallowed time.  Tomorrow we will take up the burdens of budgets.   Meanwhile, have faith that our  grandchildren will be much smarter than we are, and life will continue to evolve as it should  in concert with generations and technologies as yet unborn.  God Bless the USA.  Be safe.   MT

    June 20, 2010 - Florida Keys - John Bartus: The Complete Simpleton’s Guide to KeysCritters. John Bartus Award-Winning Keys DiseaseWeekly Columns | Keys Disease | Courtesy of The Weekly Newspapers | Visitors to our islands (The Fabulous Florida Keys®) often notice that the various types of wildlife that inhabit these coral rocks are different that the species they have at home. No kidding. In that spirit, we here at Keys Disease Central are proud to present The Complete Simpleton’s Guide to Keys Critters.

     

    No guide like this would be worth the paper it is written upon without mention of the kind of wildlife that truly gets up close and personal with humans. Two species are the common mosquito (Corpuscleus suckupitus) and the no-see-um (Damnitus irritatus). These insects desire what you are not necessarily inclined to share; namely, your blood. But take a moment and look at it from the insect’s perspective. The critters that normally offer their lifeblood to hungry mosquitoes and no-see-ums usually have fur or feathers in the way of their skin – not so easy for a small insect to navigate. But here comes the relatively hairless human to the islands, and bloodsucking insects of the tropics rejoice – to them, we’re nothing more than all-you-can-eat blood buffets. To try to deter these insects from feasting upon us, humans have developed numerous types of repellents. My personal favorite is the coil that is ignited and burns for several seconds before our island humidity renders it useless. When they do work, however, the smell is reminiscent of the aroma of the thatch roof of your tiki hut slowly smoldering prior to total combustion.

     

    Our avian friends certainly deserve mention in our guide. Many visitors notice that our birds are somewhat different from the bluebirds of happiness that inhabit most of the continental United States. First, we have our long-necked shore birds like the heron and the egret. These birds are often seen where the highway is close to water, and as such, egrets and herons are responsible for more traffic accidents that any other bird (“Look, Myrtle! An egret is right here on the side of thSCREECHCRASHTINKLE!”)

     

    Pelicans are quite the popular local bird, but they have a downside: they’re shameless beggars. It’s sad to see what once was a proud fishing species being reduced to panhandling for fish scraps at docks. Let’s remember the old saying: Give a bird a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a bird to fish, and he drinks beer like the rest of us.

     

    Other noteworthy local birds include our ospreys, hawks, and the occasional eagle. These raptors, or birds of prey, are exceptional creatures because they can catch and keep fish without any regard to size, weight, or slot limits. It can be very frustrating for a fisherman to watch an osprey carry off a prize fish. Yelling at the bird won’t help, and you’ll look like a freakin’ idiot.

     

    On Big Pine Key (and a few other “Lower” Keys), the protected Key Deer roam freely. A small sub-species of the common whitetail deer, the Key Deer have taken advantage of their isolation on our islands to evolve slowly into miniature versions of their former selves. This process is illustrated in the Discovery Channel documentary Honey, I Shrunk the Herd. It is illegal to feed the deer, which is why most of our Keys lawbreakers live on Big Pine Key.

     

    Other endangered and protected species that call the Keys home include the Key Largo Wood Rat, the Key Largo Cotton Mouse, and the Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit. What people would consider pests “back home” are protected here in the Keys. Instead of D-Con, we have the DEP.

     

    Unfortunately, the Keys have fallen victim to “invasive” or “exotic” species – creatures that did not originate here but that have found the Keys to be particularly habitable. Notable offenders include the green iguana, the Burmese python, the Gambian pouch rat, and the extra-large Canadian Speedo-wearing beach creature. Each of these species is threatening local wildlife, or perhaps just the view.

     

    Finally, let’s devote a few words to our friendly neighborhood scorpions. Normally, one would think that scorpions only inhabit desert-like climates. Not so! It seems that damp, humid, moldy piles of debris make the perfect scorpion hangout. Unlike the sand-colored scorpions of the desert, our scorpions are long and black. Many Keys residents say you haven’t lived until you’ve stepped on a scorpion in your bare feet, or had one pop you in the hand when you’re cleaning up that pile of garbage in the backyard.

     

    Well, here we are at the end of the Guide, and no mention of land crabs or eastern diamondback rattlesnakes!Keys Disease John Bartus

     

    Another time, perhaps. Sleep well…

     

    - John Bartus is a singer/songwriter and former Mayor of the City of Marathon. Currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce, John plays with Storm Watch this Friday (tonight) at Dockside, and Saturday at the Key Colony Inn. Wednesday finds John at Cabana Breezes. Thursday, John plays at Sparky’s Landing. www.johnbartus.com.

    Junes 22, 2010 - Florida Keys - TDC: KEYS TOURISM ADVISORY #33 June 21, 2010 * 4:15 p.m.
    mONROE cOUNTY tOURIST dEVELOPMENT cOUNCIL
    News and Information From the Monroe County Tourist Development Council

    TDC Posts New Video as Part of Oil Spill Social Media Campaign.

    The Monroe County Tourist Development Council posted another new video Monday as a facet of its Web and social media-based campaign designed to communicate an accurate status of Florida Keys tourism offerings during the Transocean/BP oil spill crisis.

    The one-minute-long video shows scenes from Father's Day in the Florida Keys and is now webcasting at www.fla-keys.com as the TDC's Video of the Week, as well as in a special Gulf oil spill section at www.fla-keys.com/oilspill.

    It is also available on the TDC's You Tube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F47-UBsx7jA

    TDC Director Harold Wheeler again asked for all Keys tourism-related businesses to use their own social media outlets and websites to link to the weekly videos so they become viral.

    "This is a tool we have implemented to benefit the entire industry, but it will only work if the industry helps to maximize its awareness," Wheeler said.

    June 22, 2010 - Marathon - Blair Shiver: Shiver Report. Council Extends Manager Contract, Awards Blair ShiverFirst Time Homebuyer Loans. | Courtesy of The Weekly Newspapers. | Marathon’s newest city manager can finally begin looking for permanent real estate inside city limits.

    Tuesday evening, Roger Hernstadt’s six-month performance review was unanimously positive from all five council members during their regularly scheduled meeting at the Monroe County Government Center.

    Marathon’s newest city manager can finally begin looking for permanent real estate inside city limits.

    Tuesday evening, Roger Hernstadt’s six-month performance review was unanimously positive from all five council members during their regularly scheduled meeting at the Monroe County Government Center.

    Councilman Rich Keating, who joined the city’s dais at roughly the same time Hernstadt was hired, gave glowing recommendations for the former Assistant Manager and Chief of Staff for the City of Miami.

    “He’s exactly what Marathon’s been looking for, and I believe he is an asset,” Keating commended.

    But the council was in a bit of a disagreement over the contract terms, specifically with regards to severance pay.

    Councilman Dick Ramsay said he’d not yet have a chance to fully review amendments to the contract prior to the meeting and asked to postpone approving the extension. Mayor Ginger Snead said she preferred to resolve the issue prior to the upcoming budget hearings.

    “I don’t want to go into budget negotiations with this contract still up in the air,” Snead said.

    Marathon Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Samess, Florida Keys Contractors Association President Chris Gratton, Grassy Key resident John Walton and attorney Frank Greenman all spoke very highly of Hernstadt’s proven performance in the first half of this year.

    “Roger is the best city manager in Monroe County by a long shot,” Greenman commended. “I’ve seen his incredible institutional data of inventory, and Roger carries for information in his head than most computers could hope.”

    Greenman, a former city councilman, explained that one of the city’s original goals was to hire its own professional management staff.

    “You’re prevented by the charter of telling employees what to do, thank God,” Greenman continued. “We’d lose employees if that system was changed, and it would look like the Dade County School Board in Hialeah.”

    The council finally unanimously agreed to a three-year contract for $130,000 yearly salary and annual reviews with no pay increases.

    “Welcome. Buy a house and get moved in,” Mayor Snead requested.

    In other business:
    • The city council presented nine Marathon families with $10,000 first time homebuyer loans.

    Snead explained that the council opted to use monies that have been paid to the city by developers as part of their development agreement to fund loans specifically for affordable housing.

    “We decided to use that money for people that maybe wanted to buy a house but didn’t have the funds,” she continued, clarifying that the loans would come from the city’s affordable housing trust fund and not from taxpayer monies.

    According to Rick Casey of the Middle Keys Community Land Trust, seven of the nine families to which loans were awarded are currently in the process of buying a home. The two pending families pending loans have until early July to secure both a contract on a house and bank-approved loan.

    In order to apply for the affordable housing loan from the city’s trust, attendance at a homebuyer’s seminar was required. It educated attendees step-by-step about the home buying process, and Casey said of the 22 couples that attended the seminar, 16 of them completed application packages.

    Number two in the loan lottery were Larry and Holly Smorgala, and she admitted that when she first spoke with Casey regarding the application package, she thought it was a long shot they would be approved.

    “I thought there were be hundreds of applications,” she admitted, adding she was pleasantly surprised Tuesday afternoon when she was alerted her family had been approved.

    • Dr. Linda Gottwald and the Stand Up for Animals organization, who’s contract with the county to operate the only no-kill animal shelter in the Middle Keys was extended for 90 days for reconsideration and negotiation, received numerous testaments of verbal support from residents and animal care professionals.

    Marathon Dog Park activist Mary Stella recounted an incident seven years ago when she watched a man on a boat in Boot Key Harbor kick his dog overboard and proclaim, “Let the dog drown.” SUFA responded after hours to the incident, she continued, reiterating that to take away the physical shelter, coordinator and services SUFA provides would “end up costing the county more money.”

    “We know the county is in a tough place budget wise, but I think and hope they can use common sense to negotiate the terms of that contract,” said Vice Mayor Mike Cinque.

    • Ramsay reported that Marathon is well on it way to having a port of entry at Boot Key Harbor and the Marathon Airport.

    “It’s no guarantee, but I have a high level of confidence we’ll be a port of entry by the end of the year.”

    June 23, 2010 - Marathon - Marilyn Tempest: Editor's Notes. IF IT AIN’T BROKE…….Marilyn Tempest FloridaKeysJournal.com Editor For some time now there has been a buzz around town about changing Marathon’s form of government from today’s  “Council-Manager” system to “Strong Mayor-Council.”  Council-Manager is the most prevalent form of city government, especially in smaller municipalities.   The Strong Mayor format is more likely to be seen in larger cities.

     

     Currently, we elect 5 equal council members who select a largely ceremonial mayor.   The day to day ops are handled by a city manager.  Optimally this depoliticizes the running of the city; worst case, it slows down government while the manager juggles the unrealistic demands of Council with the constraints of budget and staff.   The “Strong Mayor” is just what it implies.  One of the council members is elected as the mayor, and serves as the “executive” branch.  The other council members serve as the “legislative” branch, and have less impact on the city’s business.   Optimally, this creates a balance and some efficiencies; but worst case, it creates a fiefdom.

     

    The June 22nd meeting of the Marathon City Council was an absolute love-in.  The Council awarded $10,000 each to 10 first time home buyers paid out of developer payments; recommended that the county retain SUFA for animal control; reported the Port of Entry project is progressing well; praised the current report from Middle Keys Community Land Trust; and announced that Sombrero Beach Road will be ready for our July 4th blowout.  There was nary a discouraging word….except for one interesting moment when our “largely ceremonial” mayor stepped up to the plate and displayed some strength.

     

    Mayor Ginger Snead introduced the manager evaluation agenda item, and  each council member indicated that Mr. Hernstadt’s performance has been excellent.   The mayor suggested a longer contract should be offered to replace the short term agreement  under which Mr. Hernstadt was hired. So far this sounds like part of the love-in, but wait. Not everyone was onboard.  There was some body language, and a little foot dragging.  A long term contract with a generous severance package might make it harder to sell the change to Strong Mayor idea that is favored by one or more current council members.  Requests for delays were heard, but the mayor declared, “I’d really like to do this tonight.”  And there was solid discussion, hard won agreement to specific terms, and it was all good.  We’ll be watching for that contract approval at the next meeting.

     

     Haven’t we all lost patience with government when it moves too slowly, gets it all wrong, or simply does nothing?   On the other hand, have we not also seen the government that has a strong leader charging forward at break neck speed, not bothering to consult with anyone else on the path he/she has chosen?   Neither scenario is attractive, but I submit that with a professional city manager and a citizens’ council, a community is less likely to be jerked around.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Congratulations, Mr. Hernstadt, for a job well done.  Marathon is glad you are here, and hopes you’ll bide with us a while.

     

    June 26, 2010 - Florida Keys - John Bartus: What Is She Thinking? John Bartus Award-Winning Keys DiseaseWeekly Columns | Keys Disease | Courtesy of The Weekly Newspapers | A recent news article concerning wastewater funding has really left me in a not-so-warm-and-fuzzy state of mind. Not that any article on the topic is a real feel-good piece, mind you – it’s just that I’m really left wondering what our Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), is thinking.

     

    Here are the background details of the story that has left me puzzled. Remember back to the waning days of the Bush administration, when the economy faced all-but-certain meltdown? The President and Congress got together and passed a mega-billion-dollar “bailout bill” that used our taxpayer dollars to shore up financial institutions and preserve bonus payments to Wall Street executives. As totally distasteful as it was, we were told that it had to be done to avert global economic collapse.

     

    In the early days of the new Obama administration, the economy – while perhaps not in danger of total disintegration – remained in a very feeble state. To help grow the economy, the President and Congress got together and passed a mega-billion-dollar “stimulus bill” that used our taxpayer dollars to keep automakers out of bankruptcy court and provide funds to shovel-ready infrastructure projects and create jobs. Once again, we were told that it had to be done to keep the recession from worsening.

     

    The main difference between the “bailout bill” and the “stimulus bill” is that the latter actually has provided funds for shovel-ready wastewater and stormwater infrastructure projects in the Florida Keys. The City of Marathon, the Key Largo Sewer District, and the City of Key West all have benefitted directly from the $24.5 million in stimulus funds already dedicated to these projects (technically, there is a $1.5 million portion of these funds unspent that Key West will bill for by July 1). The really good news is that there is another $45 million in leftover stimulus funds that the Keys already qualify for and could be put to use right now this year.

     

    That also means that local residents and businesses will see a reduction in their sewer bills as a direct result of federal funding we all agreed was necessary for these projects.

    Well, one of us doesn’t agree any more. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has decided to not join our U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and George LeMieux in requesting that additional $45 million for the Keys. You read that correctly: our Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), will not support the request for the additional $45 million to be spent in her district on infrastructure projects we most certainly need.

     

    What is she thinking?

     

    In an e-mail to Free Press reporter Robert Silk, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) took credit for securing $35 million in federal funds for Keys wastewater projects. She balked at going after more funds, however, using as an excuse the $1.5 million in “unspent” funds, and urging Keys municipalities to spend it all before requesting more money.

     

    That argument really doesn’t hold water (treated or otherwise). Marathon has already used up all its funding and is still in the middle of its multi-million dollar project. Key Largo billed the Army Corps $2 million more than it received in case other stimulus funding became available. Key West will spend the existing allocation and is currently in the middle of a multi-million dollar stormwater and wastewater upgrade. If it gets to the Keys, thanks to our Senators (and no thanks to Ileana), the additional $45 million will be spent.

     

    Some suggest that partisan politics is behind what Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is thinking. Like all House Republicans, Ileana toed the party line and voted against the stimulus bill (she voted for the bank bailout bill). It’s a shame, however, if Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is abandoning the constituents in her own district just to make a political point. Regardless of the source of those federal funds, people in the Keys need that additional $45 million in stimulus money, at least as much as the banks and insurance companies needed the federal bailout she supported.

     

    Sometimes – hell, all of the time – people need to come before party in this country. Both of our Senators got that one right. As a former elected official, I worked with Ileana on local issues and have always considered her a friend of the Keys. She’s the only member of Congress I have known personally, and I get no pleasure out of writing this column. After all is said and done, it would have been great to have had Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) join with our Senators in requesting these funds. In the end, maybe we don’t need her this time. Keys Disease John Bartus

     

    - John Bartus is a singer/songwriter and former Mayor of the City of Marathon. Currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce, John plays with Storm Watch this Friday (tonight) at Dockside, and Saturday at the Key Colony Inn. Tuesday, John performs at the Sunset Grille, and Wednesday finds John at Cabana Breezes. Thursday, John plays at Sparky’s Landing. www.johnbartus.com. 

    Internet Stuff
    Here are the latest DVD films from http://www.NetFlix.com:
    1. The Fourth Kind explores people all experiencing the same thing. It is something about a white owl. The head doctor tries to solve the riddle flashing back to her husband’s horrible death. While it is the same old story, the movie really gets to you. I rate horror movies by the number of nights that I need to leave the light on. Two nights, yes, that is right. Some scary moments catch you by surprise. The old horror tricks come alive again.
    2. Twilight the Eclipse is the third film in the series. The first one broke new ground. The second one is a downer. They did not try hard enough to improve the movie series. The Eclipse was a good movie better than the other two. Werewolves and Vampires join in an uneasy alliance to protect the human girlfriend of the main character, Edward.
    3. Karate Kid by Hunter Shaffer (11). It's about a kid that goes to China. He goes to meet a girl and this guy comes and picks on and picks on him again. So the guy doesn't take it. So he pets them up so he said that he will teach him karate so he did it. It came to the fight and he won.
    4. Cars by Ricky Shaffer (10). I think it is a five star movie. I think the reason is because it is funny and they are fast. Lots of them race. The ending was really happy.
    5. Hot Tamale by Hunter Shaffer. Molly's mom tried to kill her. So this girl came and she held her so when she turn 16 teen. She get controlled by the enemy but her mom and got sent to the crazy house. So she comes back to hunt her. So she go to the house and Molly flips her over the stakes. So she has memories of her mom trying to kill her. And at the end she has to stop herself like 20 times.
    6. Last Air Bender by Hunter Shaffer. It's about a boy a runs away from home. So he gets frozen in ice and he's in there for a 100 years. So this people found him. They open the ice and free the boy. So he goes around they world helping people. Then he learns now to bend water and they want him to become the Avatar.
    7. The X-Games by Ricky Shaffer. I think it should be five starts. Because it is a show where you can learn how to skateboard. I like it because I get to see really good tricks and my favorite. Skateboards are cool.
    Interesting websites we visited recently:
    1. Click here: YouTube - BP Spills Coffee
    2. Deep Water Horizon Oil | Florida DEP
    3. Click here: Another Gulf oil spill: Well near Deepwater Horizon
    4. The next time you clean out a closet, drawer, shed or storage room check out http://www.keysreuse.com before you throw anything in the trash.  It’s a great way to support local groups and keep your house or office clutter free.
    5. This would be an interesting link. It has incredible virtual tours thru all the keys.   Have you seen it before? http://360floridakeys.com/
    6. www.save-a-turtle.org
    7. two more domains: trekkan.org and uniwarriors.org

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    Publication date: July 28, 2010
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