Monday, August 17, 2020

the death of paradise (the Florida Keys)

Sometimes something comes up that takes me back down to the Florida Keys and Key West. My good friends Arnaud and Naja Girard, photo below, own and produce online, at their expense, boat-rocking Key West the Newspaper ( Arnaud and Naja are tenacious investigators, who seriously disturb the local deep state peace. They have lots of adoring readers whose donation$ to the blue paper do not come anywhere close to matching their adoration.
Further below is Arnaud and Naja's most recent video documentary of the death of paradise. The video is long and excellent. The woman in the sun glasses, Diane Bureldsen, is a good friend of mine. Diane is well known at county and city commission meetings in Key West as a citizen activist and speaker of inconvenient truths. After watching the video yesterday, I made a comment. Later yesterday, I added a short follow up comment. After dreaming of Big Pine Key last night, I added my third comment, which is about my personal calling to do what I could to save paradise from greed. Dianne, Arnaud, Naja, other members of The Resistance and I tried, but it seems something much bigger and stronger is needed. The coronavirus? Category 5 hurricanes? Several feet rise in sea level?
  • Sloan Bashinsky Well, hell. I ran three times for county commission: 2006 and 2010, when I lived on Little Torch Key; 2008, when I lived in Key West. I also ran 6 times for Mayor of Key West. I attended lots of candidate forums and county and city commission meetings, and other county and city government and citizen meetings.

    Here's what I think. Commissioners Carruthers and Cates should have res=cused themselves automatically, without being asked or even advised by County Attorney Shillinger, or being pressured by the blue paper. Commissioner Murphy is the only county commissioner with a soul intact. Commissioners Rice and Coldiron are developer whores. As Murphy once said at a county commission meeting, if Barton Smith is in favor of something before the county, then it has to be bad for the county and she was against it.

    Smith represents Wreckers and Murray. Smith was trained by Jim Hendrick.. I came to think there was nothing Smith said at county and city government meetings could be trusted. If Smith is representing Wreckers and Murray, I have to think the two are one behind the scenes, there will be a large waterfront development under the guise affordable housing. With Cates and Heathers recused, and Shillinger and Sheriff Ramsay, based on the blue paper video, joined with Smith at the hip on this deal, Smith will get what he wants eventually. And, Carruthers, Cates, Rice and Coldiron will be re-elected, because a majority of keys voters could care less about a actual affordable housing and a trailer park and lower income people being able to use public waterfront and upland property for free.

    The Florida Keys I fell in love with in 1956 and visited many times before finally moving there in 2000 is dead and buried by developers and their lawyers and captured government officials.
    • Sloan Bashinsky I should have included, I once was a real estate attorney and the quit claim deed claim of title is ridiculous. I could give anyone a quit claim deed to all of Key West and Stock Island, and what would that be worth?
    • Sloan Bashinsky Some personal back story.
      In early January 1995, I lived in Colorado, I was seized to write into my journal, “Go to Big Pine Key, go as soon as possible, this is important.” That night, I dreamed of being at the airport buying a ticket to Big Pine Key.
       I dawdled a couple of days. Walking home at night on a frozen street, I slipped and turned upside down and landed on the back of my head. I lay there stunned, then crawled back to my feet and walked the rest of the way home. My wife asked if I had bought the airline ticket to Miami? The next day I did that and a couple of days later was on Delta to Miami, where I rented a car and headed south to Big Pine, where many years before I had caught a large tarpon in Bogie Channel on the Gulf side of the burnt remains of old wooden bridge.
      I rented a motel room and began dawdling around the neighborhood. I drove out to the new bridge between Big Pine and No Name Key. Parked at the fish camp and walked across the bridge and back. I ate breakfast every morning at the Big Pine Inn cafĂ©. One morning, I read in the Keynoter that local chambers of commerce wanted to widen U.S. 1 so tourists could get into the Florida Keys more easily. There also was an article about whether or not to put a moratorium on new housing on Big Pine. I kept dawdling around, going here and there, wondering why I was there? On the seventh day of the trip, I went back to the fish camp, parked and walked out onto the bridge to the hump in the middle. Pelicans were sitting on the rail and floating on the water below on the Atlantic side of the bridge. I put my hands on the concrete rail and was seized by something enormous. I felt my heart had been yanked out of my body, but it did not hurt. I started balling and heaving, oceans of tears burst out of my eyes, rivers of snot rant out of my nose. My entire body was heaving, I barely clung to the railing to keep from falling to the sidewalk. A voice said, “Because you love this place so much, you will be used to try to protect it.”
      I called my wife in Colorado and told her what had happened. She said. “Sloan, the pelican is the Christ bird.” We had read that in a book written by a Grail Knight. I said, “I know that.”
      That night over dinner at a Big Pine restaurant no longer there, this poem wrote itself into my journal.

      Behold, the pelican.
      Slow, ugly, clumsy afoot,
      But in the air, a great fisher in deed!
      And in times of want
      plucks out its own breast meat to feed its young.

      Over breakfast the next morning, I read the new Keynoter. One article reported several U.S. Government agencies had come out against widening U.S. 1, because of the threat to the fragile Florida Keys environment. Chambers of Commerce spokes persons were reported as saying they did not want to widen US 1 to bring more tourists, but to make hurricane evacuation easier and safer. Another article announced a moratorium on new construction on Big Pine Key.
      Years passed. I was stranded homeless on Maui. One morning, a voice told me as I woke up, “Go to Big Pine Key.” This and that happened, I did nothing but accept what was offered, and I was in the air to Los Angeles, then on a Greyhound Bus with a ticket to Key West. Passing through Tallahassee, the state capitol of Florida, I fell asleep, dreamed of the federal judge I clerked for after graduating from law school. He said he was thinking about getting into politics. Back when I clerked for him, he ran the Democratic Party behind the scenes in Alabama. In the dream, I told him I didn’t think that was a good idea, but knowing him, I figured he was going to do it. I awoke in dread. I hated politics, but knew that was where I was headed. When the bus reached Big Pine Key, I felt I needed to go on down to Key West and be homeless there.
      Flash forward to 2006, when I ran the first time for county commission, as an Independent. Due to an inheritance, my circumstances had changed. I lived in a trailer on a beautiful wooded lot on Little Torch Key. I quickly learned that shortening the hurricane evacuation time to save lives was a cover for developers getting more building permits from Tallahassee. My campaign mantra became, “No more new development, period the end. The Florida Keys already are way over-developed, and there is not a person living here who can look in a mirror and honestly argue otherwise.” I got one-third of the votes cast. I figured one-third of the voters cared about the environment and two thirds did not. That was my best showing in three county commission races, which, along with six runs for mayor of Key West, convinced me tourists and real estate development are more important in the Florida Keys and Key West than everything else.

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