Tuesday, June 13, 2017

interactive journalist family squabble: Key West's blue paper and blogger Sloan Bashinsky

Naja Girard, co-publisher/editor of Key West the Newspaper (thebluepaper.com), published online every Friday, responded yesterday to what I reported about her and the blue paper in the day before yesterday Sorry, John Keats: in American politics and government, truth ain't necessarily beauty, nor beauty truth, and kindred heresies, fantasies and fictions: Key West Dispensable Church Sunday homily post at this website:

The Blue Paper editors took a well-deserved week off.  Imagine that! Well actually, what they did was work as hard as ever for less compensation than ever. But since their main source for their featured article had had a serious medical emergency in the family and asked TBP to back off on the story if possible - they did so.  And since The Blue Paper - and only The Blue Paper - in terms of local coverage - had been bringing important information to readers about federal immigration law enforcement right here in the Keys over the past several months and since they'd been provided with a very well written press release from the Women's March - Florida Keys addressing one of the issues brought out during that coverage, they decided to simply use that press release as the top post this week and they proceeded to enjoy a little time off. They were very content to see that the Women's March Florida Keys was focusing on something very real here in the community that needed attention and not just "marching" for sake of promoting an ideal or concept. This new group on the scene, they believe, is much needed and, as they see it, is a very welcome addition to the community conversation.  How nice, they thought, to see there is a group of engaged young people in Key West who are demanding accountability. And the Blue Paper publishers were just so incredibly relieved to have some of the pressure of their work removed momentarily. It was like a "snow day" or a "hurricane day" as we call them here in the Keys, when you don't have to go to school or work for reasons beyond your control. A gift from the Gods. Ah, to be able to enjoy a complete night's sleep, rather than physically and mentally torturing themselves as they have done every Thursday night [with perhaps two or three exceptions] over the past 4 + years -- spending countless hours during the week researching and conducting interviews and then staying up for 24 hours or more at a time each Thursday to produce relevant local content that can be found nowhere else. Of course, since there is no compensation to speak of for their efforts, they are very cognizant of the fact that they could easily just up and quit doing it at any moment and when they do - it will be, in part, because people like Sloan Bashinsky, a man who they generously sheltered in their home for free for well over a year, chose to sling baseless insults in their direction, as though the publishers of the FREE publication, Key West The Newspaper [The Blue Paper] OWE THEM or the community "great content" each and every week of the year.  Just like so many others in the community who VOLUNTEER their time and energy for the greater good, The Blue Paper publishers may very well throw in the towel in frustration one of these days.  They too, like so many others, may just "give up", thinking "it's just not worth it" -- and decide to instead spend their precious time on other pursuits that they have chosen to put to the side all these years, whether it be earning income in exchange for their tireless efforts, taking better care of maintaining their home, traveling and or enjoying sunshine and good conversation with family and friends.  And when they do throw in the towel, Sloan's public comments ridiculing their "article" this week as some "lame effort by the blue paper to buttress its pro illegal aliens position" will have played a small part in their decision. And as to our "position": We are pro-humanity - pro Constitution [for all persons in our country] - pro accountability [including law enforcement] and anti baseless divisive conservative v liberal and liberal v conservative BS.

Naja Girard

I replied to Naja last night:

Who are "Women Marching?"

Are they a crowd. Are they one or two or a few? Those are fair questions.

Are they prepared for the worst possible outcome: they push Sheriff Ramsay to declare he and his troops are with ICE?

Is the blue paper prepared for that outcome?

i published every day, with perhaps a dozen days off, since 2006, sometimes 2 different posts at 2 different websites, occasionally 3 different posts at 3 different websites, for zero compensation. 

What I endure to publish just one post a day would kill anyone I know very fast, like in a few minutes.

I am forever grateful for your kindness of letting me live in your home for about a year in aggregate for free. I told you that if I ever come into money again, you will be repaid, and you will be.

The biggest case in the Keys since I came here in 2001 was Haney vs. me, you, Rick Boettger and Bruce Gorman. Haney attacked the 1st  Amendment, without which there would be no blue paper, nor my websites, nor the Coconut Telegraph, nor what Rick usually covers. Without the 1st Amendment, America would be like Russia in a lot more ways than it already is.

Something BIG happened at the police station last night, which I described my post today. The first thing that happened there last night was the warm up.

Naja wrote to me last night:

Who are the Women's March? Well I don't know much but easy to google. Here is a website that will give you an idea of the national organization: https://www.womensmarch.com/  The florida chapter: http://www.womensmarchfl.org/   Local chapter: http://womensmarchflkeys.org/

Interesting that our local daily paper reduced their voice to that of a single person in a Letter to the Editor...


I wrote to Naja this morning:

Before sounding off, I tried to find out who the local [Women Marching] chapter is, by looking at its website and Facebook page. For all that appeared, it is one person. Natalia Duke. That's what I suggested in my reader comment and likened that to John Dolan-Heitlinger's PAC and to Sam Kaufman swallowing Ed Russo's claim to be head of an environmental consulting company, and an environmental consultant to Donald Trump. You did not clear from moderation my reply back to you about all of that, which I took to mean you did not want your readers to see it, which I took to be astounding, given how important the 1st Amendment is to the blue paper. Here is my rejected reply to yours, followed by my commiseration.

Your comment is awaiting moderation.
Who are “they”. I saw one person, Natalia Duke, at Women’s March Florida Keys” Facebook and website homepage.

It this one-woman crusade?

A one thousand women crusade?

Fair questions, given the press release and name of the outfit.

Fair questions Natalia Duke should answer straight up.

She has a similar letter to the editor in today’s Key West Citizen signed by her, speaking for “We”, but no[t] saying who “We” are.

I recall back during the “channel widening study” referendum naval battle a fellow named John Dolan-Heitlinger, who worked for Ed Swift’s Historic Tours of America, formed a “harbor pilots” PAC of which it seemed to me he was the only member, so he could sit at the panelists table at all of the “channel widening study” forums and speak for widening the channel to bring in bigger cruise ships which would put more money into Ed Swift’s pocket, but Dolan Heitlinger never disclosed at any forum that he worked for Swift.

At the last of the ‘channel widening study” forums, hosted by Hometown PAC, before it started, I asked Bill Becker and Richard Grusin, two of the people assigned to grill the panelists, to ask Dolan-Heitlinger if he worked for Ed Swift. I told Becker and Grusin the public was entitled to know who Dolan-Heitlinger represented. Becker and Grussin did not ask the question, which told me more about them than they could ever have wanted to know.

You have another “press release” in the current blue paper, touting City Commissioner Sam Kaufman, who is my own lawyer and a friend for many years, appointing Ed Russo to the Key West Planning Board. If you read the longer press release this week, couched as news, in the Key West Citizen, you know Russo claims to be not only the head of an environmental company, but Donald Trump’s environmental adviser.

From the Citizen “press release":

–For the last 15 years, Russo has served as environmental consultant for President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization. Last year, Russo wrote a book about his experiences with the President titled “Donald J. Trump: An Environmental Hero”.–

I looked up Russo’s environmental consulting company online, Environmental Remedy and Recovery, and it appears to be doing very little. It reminded me of John Dolan-Heitlinger’s PAC.

ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDY & RECOVERY, INC.CLAIM THIS BUSINESS162 GOLF CLUB DR KEY WEST, FL 33040 Get Directions Business Info Founded2010 Incorporated Annual Revenue$38,000.00 Employee Count1 IndustriesEarth Science Services Contacts EDWARD RUSSO
Company Summary
Environmental Remedy & Recovery, Inc. is located at 162 Golf Club Dr in Key West and has been in the business of Earth Science Services since 2010.

In fact, Russo married Jennifer Hulse, who was the Chamber of Commerce’s lawyer and speaker in favor of the “channel widening study”, which Hulse maintained at forums was not about cruise ships but was about jobs. In fact, Russo claimed in the blue paper and in the Citizen press release that he was on the board of Reef Relief, which declined to come out against the “channel widening study” referendum.

In the Citizen “press release”, Russo touted himself as being all about affordable housing, yet I don’t recall ever seeing him at a city commission meeting getting onto the mayor and commissioners about them not even yet building on[e] stick of affordable housing in Key West, but, instead, they gave away about 100 of the city’s scarce building rights for affordable housing on Big Coppit Key.
Your readers deserve to know who “Women Marching” actually is, just as as your readers also deserve to know Ed Russo really is.

Commiseration ...

I have steadfastly praised the blue paper. I was who promoted the blue paper receiving a Pulitzer for breaking and continuing to break the Charles Eimers case, which put your and Arnaud and your family at serious risk in a city known for retaliation.

I have steadfastly praised the blue paper for the current status of Wisteria Island and it not having been turned into Sunset Key Deux.

I have steadfastly praised the blue paper for a lot of things.

I have steadfastly scolded blue paper readers for raving about the blue paper and yet not backing their raving with their wallets.

I have many times likened the blue paper to Al Jazeera, which is about as high a compliment as I know to give.

Commiseration aside ...

I also have told you and Arnaud that this is bigger than you two making money from the blue paper. If you don't do it, it won't get done. I see no one in Key West close to able to do what you two do with the blue paper. 

Dennis Reeves Cooper was nowhere close to your two's abilities. He refused to take criticism. He declined a number of things I submitted. He protected people he liked. He did not tattle on himself. He would not cover homeless issues. He was a drunk. He finally got caught. He never confessed. He wailed and moaned. He let Judge Wayne Miller, who signed the arrest warrant for Dennis, skate. He did not tell the public the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about what really went on between him and KW Police Chief Gordon "Buz" Dillon. I am the only person who reported Dillon's side of it.

I think you should be very careful what "press releases" (propaganda) you publish. 

I think my good friend and my lawyer City Commissioner Sam Kaufman really messed up appointing Ed Russo to the Key West Planning Board. That was a serious fox in the henhouse move. That was a major news article the blue paper could have turned into a movable memorable feast. 

Women Marching reminds me of Tim Gratz and Connie Gilbert's no personal risk touchy feel good organization formed to stop child sex trafficking in the Florida Keys. Women Marching should have replied to my first comment under its press release in the blue paper. You should have published my second comment.

There is a poignant line at the end of the new mummy movie knock off. "Sometimes it takes a monster to fight a monster." I'm viewed by many as a monster, but if the many could see what I see, they would see monsters they do not want to admit exist.

A woman friend told me the other day that Donald Trump is a train wreck. I laughed, said, he was her train wreck. Why, she asked? Because she voted for him, I said. You vote for someone, you make him yours. What he then does is yours. 

I preached that to the Key West Citizen and Hometown PAC regarding their endorsing candidates for local public office. I told them, if they endorse a candidate and the candidate is elected, then it's on them to then ride herd on that elected official when he/she messes up. They did not like hearing that. They disagreed with me. But they stopped endorsing candidates for local public office. And, right, they did not say I had influenced them.

It would bankrupt the city and the county to pay me, or the blue paper, the actual monetary value of what we do for the city and county. 

You say the blue paper's Word Press format is interactive. Why not publish this back and forth between you and me for your readers to try to digest? They bring their own tums, malox, etc.

Naja wrote:

I found all of that channel-widening stuff off-topic. As to the series of questions about the Women's March group,  perhaps you could write to them and find out the answers to all your questions and then make a comment that tells us what you found out. That would add something to the conversation.  What you did was ask a bunch of questions on our page about a non-profit and assign to them your negative opinion about the channel-widening proponents. I'm not allowing that sort of gratuitous attack on persons or groups on our website. 

I replied:

I provided analogies of fake news (propaganda), which were familiar to people who keep up with Key West and Florida Keys goings on. 

You presented those two press releases, which were pure propaganda, as news. 

I did the background work and corrective reporting, which your readers will never see.

If you want to take a vacation, tell your readers that's what you are doing. You have done that before. But don't present as news what you did not even check out before you published it as your lead and 3rd news articles. 

You and Arnaud owe it to your readers to do follow up real news reports on Women's Marching and Ed Russo being appointed by Sam Kaufman to the Planning Board.

Here are links to the two press releases Naja published in last Friday's blue paper without disclosing they were press releases, thus propaganda, for sure: 

Naja wrote:

That is absurd. It is not propaganda to publicly ask the Sheriff to state his policy.  It was presented as a message to the Sheriff from a non-profit. There is nothing to fact check. We publish the messages of non-profit groups every week.

I do not accept you or anyone else telling us what we "should do" with our free publication in terms of announcing a "vacation" or anything else.

I replied:

The propaganda is "Women's Marching" is presented by the blue paper in its press release as a substantial organization here in Key West and the Florida Keys. The Citizen apparently did not fall for it and only polished the local chapter founder's name. Perhaps the Citizen recalled getting embarrassed by Gratz and Gilbert and Dolan-Heitlinger in the past? Imagine me forming a non-profit claiming to speak for homeless people and submitting a press release claiming We this and that, when maybe only 5 homeless people agree with me. That press release is propaganda.
Looked to me you published the Women's Marching press release to buttress your already intense confrontation of Sheriff Ramsay allowing his deputies discretion to inquire as to arrestees' citizenship/immigration status, and if illegal, report that to Border Patrol. You did not answer my question: Will you be comfortable if you end up pushing Ramsay to make that official policy in his office? That’s a facetious question. You would be livid. You have a big charge around immigration, which is plainly seeing in your dialogue with blue paper readers who disagree with you.

I think Sheriff Ramsay should tell his deputies to leave immigration alone, but I also think he is within the law doing it the way he is now doing it, and I think he would be within the law to make it across the board policy to inquire, when the facts suggest the inquiry, into an arrestee or suspect’s citizenship/immigration status. It is not legal to be in America illegally. If local law enforcement cannot make that inquiry in America, then the US immigration laws are nearly pointless inside of America, since it’s local law enforcement which has the most opportunity to discover illegal immigrants.

Whether you or I like it, immigration status is a big deal to tens of millions of American citizens. They elected Donald Trump, whom I cannot stand, but I think he is right about limiting immigrants from Islam countries, because it is very difficult to discern “good” Muslims from “bad” Muslims. And, the fact is, American Muslims have not carried their weight protesting allowing in “bad” Muslims.

I bet the conch farm there are far more people in the Florida Keys on Rick Ramsay’s side than are on the blue paper’s and my side regarding Ramsay’s policy.

The blue paper should follow Elliot Baron’s lead in his comment under the Ed Russo blue paper propaganda, and take Ed Russo and Sam Kaufman to task. The blue paper should not let its close relationship with Kaufman hinder that.

One Response to “Ed Russo Appointed to Planning Board”

Elliot Baron says:
Impressive background?
“He might serve in the administration, [Russo] said. “I’m very loyal to the Trump family, and I don’t want to rule it out. When a president asks you to do something, you can never say no. But my loyalty is with the Trump family. They come first.”
Read “Trump’s Environmental Evangelist” PEOPLE: Trump's environmental evangelist

Trump's environmental evangelist

Ed Russo has been getting a lot of phone calls from worried environmentalists.
"Everybody's pretty nervous. I've been getting calls from all across the country and beyond," Russo said in an interview this week. "They all want to know the same thing: 'What's going to happen, Ed? What are we going to do?'"
Trump's longtime environmental adviser tells them to relax.
His advice for greens: "Roll up your sleeves and go back to work. Deal with practical environmental solutions." He predicts that Trump will be "one of the strongest practical environmental presidents because he understands the environment."
Russo, 70, has worked as an environmental consultant for the Trump Organization since 2001. Earlier this year, he released a book called "Donald J. Trump: An Environmental Hero."
It chronicles how Russo, a longtime environmental advocate who was skeptical of Trump's motives, was won over as Trump gave him leeway to develop what he views as aggressive sustainability plans for major development projects — including golf courses in New Jersey, Scotland and along the Potomac River in Virginia.
"I was able to do a lot of significant and sometimes spectacular environmental improvements, and he was the genesis for it," Russo said.
When Russo tells Trump's critics the title of his self-published book, he said, "You can see their brain starting to melt. They can't accept this."
He tells them, "OK, calm down. Let's take location after location after location. None of this was a condition of approval [for Trump's developments]. None of this was required. He did it, why? Because he thinks he's doing the right thing."
Trump's surprise election win has been very good for Russo — and his book.
"I have a lot more friends today than I had three weeks ago," he said yesterday.
As for book sales, "They're starting to move now. I gave away more than I've sold, because nobody takes this seriously." But now, "it's like, 'Hey, guess what, pal? He's president. You better take it seriously.'"
In addition to the nervous calls from some of his friends, he's been getting calls from radio stations and newspapers wanting to interview him about what Trump might do on the environment.
Russo noted that Trump has already softened his tone after taking some hard-line stances on climate change and other environmental issues. Yesterday, for example, he indicated that he'd keep an open mind on the Paris climate accord, after he previously pledged to withdraw the United States.
"As you heard ... he's backing off of his position on the climate change, which I knew, and who cares?" Russo said. "It's going to be fine. It's going to be great."
Russo criticized the environmental movement for concentrating too much on climate change and not enough on other problems like dirty air and dirty water.
"This is all bullshit, it's a distraction," he said. "We haven't done good environmental work since we got rid of acid rain and we cleaned up some rivers, and then all of a sudden, [former Vice President Al] Gore came out with this 'Inconvenient Truth,' which was really an inconvenient distraction. It got environmentalists to stop doing good environmental work. It's like everybody hides behind global warming."
Meanwhile, he said, problems like lead in Flint, Mich.'s contaminated water supplies and toxic waste dumps across his home state of New Jersey haven't gotten proper attention.
"Let's talk about all this nebulous bullshit amorphous nothing, when in your town, in my town, in county and state and countries, there's environmental things happening that we have to clean up right now which will have an effect on climate change, and that's what it should be. Not everybody going on vacation because everybody's hiding behind the Paris summit. It's bullshit."
He added, "We've got to roll up our sleeves and start doing shit."
Russo said he's still close to Trump, and he and his wife were with the billionaire at the New York Hilton as results rolled in on Election Day. In a photo of Trump of that night that appeared in People magazine, Russo said, his wife was visible, but only his chin and hand made the shot.
He said he's advising the transition team "in an obtuse way" and is recommending people for jobs, "but not in an official capacity."
He might serve in the administration, he said. "I'm very loyal to the Trump family, and I don't want to rule it out. When a president asks you to do something, you can never say no. But my loyalty is with the Trump family. They come first."
Russo is former chairman of the planning board of Bedminster Township, N.J., and co-chairman of the Bedminster Township Environmental Commission. He first crossed paths with Trump when the real estate mogul was looking for environmental advice as he sought to develop the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.
Russo relocated years ago to the Florida Keys and proudly noted that he was a finalist in Key West's Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest in 2005.
"That's when I had hair and a big beard. Now I'm bald and I just have a very short white beard. So I look very different than the Hemingway I was in 2005," Russo said.
During a phone interview from the Key West Yacht Club last night, Russo paused to heckle a friend.
"I want that drink," he said to his friend Richard from the restaurant store.
Russo explained the exchange: "He was just mocking me to death over the last year, and it's the first time I saw him after the election.
"This guy thought Hillary was going to win by 10 points," he said, laughing. "I can't wait for that drink."


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