August 6, 2017
TIMOTHY O'HARA/The Citizen
An FWC deputy searches a campsite on Wisteria Island last year.
TIMOTHY O'HARA/The Citizen An FWC deputy searches a campsite on Wisteria Island last year.
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay and other county officials (the wannabe 800-pound gorillas) are again running out of patience with the federal agency that manages Wisteria Island.
At the request of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (the 800-pound gorilla), the Monroe County Commission approved sending a letter to the agency in April asking it to put hours of public use on the 22-acre island in Key West Harbor in hopes of dealing with people taking up residency there.
Ramsay is concerned about people living on the island, which has led to a makeshift camps being erected and generators placed there and the island being trashed, he said. Trashing the island is an outrageous crime against Mother Nature. Living there for free is an outrageous crime against the American way (capitalism). What we have here is a failure to communicate.
The BLM said it needed the County Commission to weigh in if it is going to limit access. The BLM tentatively agreed to go along with what hours of operation the commission agreed to and place those proposed restrictions in the Federal Register so the public could comment on them.
However, the sheriff and others are concerned that little is being done by the BLM to accommodate their request. The agency has not even placed the request in the Federal Register for comment. Did it occur to anyone yet that maybe the Devil is keeping BLM from putting the proposed restrictions in the Federal Register? Or, not the Devil, but something else. God? Mother Nature?
The sheriff, state prosecutors and county officials have sent multiple emails to BLM in the past several months, but have yet to even receive a response. 
The unnamed dark side of the Force player in this shindig ain't even mentioned in this article: Roger Bernstein & his family, who lost out in Federal Court trying to prove they, not BLM, own Wisteria Island, which, along that trail of tears, caused Roger, I heard, to label Naja Girard a witch. Naja and Arnaud once lived on a boat moored off of Wisteria Island, they started their family there, the island was their and other family's children's playground. Naja dug up the "dirt" on the title history of Wisteria Island and gave it to BLM, who laid claim to the island for the U.S. Government. There came a time in her search for "dirt" on who actually owned the island, that Naja told me she had given up. I then had a dream in which I was told to tell Naja to keep digging, there was something she had not yet found. Naja went back to digging, she found it, and the rest is history. I published all of that on my goodmorning websites, and it really did hurt my feelings mightily that Roger Bernstein never called me a warlock.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Mark Wilson sent BLM an email Tuesday asking what progress has been made in the past several months and reminding the agency that the island is still having an issue with vagrancy and other problems because of a lack of enforcement.
“The public safety problem persists on Wisteria, and the State Attorney has assured the public that a cooperative solution between BLM and the Sheriff’s Office is in the works,” Wilson wrote. “My understanding of where we were back in April was that BLM was beginning the administrative procedure necessary to close Wisteria Island to public use, at least until the longstanding vagrancy problem had been meaningfully addressed. I know a site visit had also been discussed. As things stand, our local law enforcement authorities are still relatively powerless to enforce the trespassing laws on Wisteria, and our opportunistic vagrant population is benefiting from the vacuum of authority.”
Yep, it's downright unAmerican, treasonous, to live for free on land in America. The real Americans, that's the folks who were living in America for a very long time before the palefaces arrived, learned all about the joys of capitalism and Jesus loves them.
Ramsay said the issue involves public safety and protecting the environment. The lack of enforcement is keeping the community as a whole from enjoying it.
“It is not a safe place for people to use,” the sheriff said. “They should not be called the Bureau of Land Management, but the Bureau of no management. They haven’t even come down and seen it.” I wonder if Sheriff Ramsay knows that back in 2009, before Naja Girard dug up all that "dirt" on Wisteria Island's title history, that I pitched to the Bernsteins and the city government that the Bernsteins deed Wisteria Island to the city for use as a public nature park in perpetuity, if the voters would approve that in a referendum, and the city, in return, giving the Bernsteins and their development partner, the Walsh family, which owned the posh Westin Hotel next to Mallory Pier and posh Sunset Key across the cut from Wisteria Island, on which there is not one stick of native vegetation, a few acres of Truman Waterfront for the Walshes to build another 5-star resort, with the Bernsteins as their development partner, and the city would receive 1 percent off the top of the gross annual revenues of the resort?  My suggestion for the Wisteria Island nature park was it would have a small resident ranger station and a small concession stand like the one at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. The concession also would sell Wisteria Island Nature Society t-shirts, visors, decals, flags, etc., and accept donations for the park. There would be tent camping plots. There would be a clothing-optional beach on the side of the island facing away from Key West. There would be a ferry running back and forth from Mallory Pier to the island. I wonder if Sheriff Ramsay knows the Bernsteins did not even respond to my suggestion? Nor did the city. That was part of my mayor campaign platform that year, 2009. I think I got about 120 votes. An all-time high. During that campaign, I mostly was all charm and courtesy. Note, mostly, but not entirely. I had to have some fun.
Sandy downs designed that mischief and ran it on her time in Key West the Newspaper for several weeks.
BLM spokeswoman Davida Carnahan said the agency is continuing to work on the issue.
“The Bureau of Land Management continues to consult with the Department of Interior on how to best address this complicated issue,” Carnahan said.
For almost a year, the sheriff has been trying to work with BLM to allow his deputies and other law enforcement agencies to issue trespass warnings to people who have taken up residency on the island.
In April, he went before the County Commission to have it agree to support set hours of access to the island. The commission agreed to keep the island basically open during daylight hours. It was the County Commission that thwarted the Bernstein-Walsh turn Wisteria Island into Sunset Key Duex scheme. Bernstein-Walsh tried to do an end run around the city, whose voters had passed a referendum requiring voter approval of any annexation of or purchase of or receipt by gift of land, or disposition of city owned land, because the city voters did not want Wisteria Island annexed and then developed. That's right, the city voters did not want that. And, golly gee whiz, it didn't happen. Then along came the evil witch, Naja. Da ya think all of that was the work of black magic? The Devil? God? Mother Nature? Well, what do ya think? Da ya think BLM would love to give the island to the county or the city as a nature park in perpetuity? Well, what da ya think? How da ya think that would go down with Roger Bernstein and his family? Da ya even care how that old tax lawyer feels? Maybe she should file a hurt feelings report?
tohara@keysnews.com