2012 December

Sunday, December 23, 2012


(Editor: A year end observation as the Coconut Telegraph approaches its eleventh year. It’s not hard to imaging the gun violence and citizens arming themselves just to go to the store. We are surrounded by negativity and violence at almost every turn. Our humor is almost all negative. Almost all the cartoons that come to the Coconut Telegraph are negative. Almost all the posts contain negative or insulting comments. Even most of the Christmas cartoons we receive are negative. Readers are always asking why I didn’t post their images. It is because I try to limit the number of negative posts in any one issue as much as I can and still fill the column daily. We are unkind to one another. When someone is kind it’s a big deal instead of normal.)




As I am now in the fall of my life. I think of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year when most of us seem by one consent to open our shut-up hearts freely and to think of people below us as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love! Merry Christmas my friends. May God bless each and every one of you, big time!

I am told that a local eatery will be serving their Eggs Benedict in a hub cap starting next week.  When I ask the owner why he decided to do that he replied, “Because there’s no place like chrome for the hollandaise!”



[The Singing Ringing Tree] Atop a barren hilltop in Lancashire, England, stands this most unusual musical sculpture. Designed by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu, the “tree” is comprised of a series of pipes, cut and stacked in a spiral fashion. When the wind is blowing (and when isn’t the wind blowing in England?!) a mesmerizing tone echoes through the hillside, like a lost sound effect from a Pink Floyd album. Link

Going green may cost more (Australia) ,but it is so worth it. The cost of solar comes down every year. If you value our environment, you will support green initiatives, unlike the pro electric people on NNK who can well afford to increase their solar and never use the generators they claim they depend on.



Chili recipes for the “Chilly” Fla. Keys. Link


an fireplaceOn the Twelfth Day of Christmas FDOT gave to me,

12 dump trucks idle,

11 barriers blinking,

10 bulldozers rusting,

9,000 sewer pipes waiting,

8 wheelbarrows sitting,

7 red lights working,

6 engineers sleeping,

5 public relations people yapping,

$41 million in billing,

3 workers waving,

2.5 miles of mosquitoes breeding

and a turkey vulture in a Palm tree.

~James Grant, Key West Citizen

Cudjoe Wastewater, with millions of dollars saved in the contracts to build the future Cudjoe wastewater system, along with the extension of the sales tax wouldn’t the county commission consider passing some of these savings on to it’s customers.

an_pilgrim_hatIn 1660 Charles II was returned to the thrown ending 11 years of stifling Puritan rule under Cromwell. The new period was call the Restoration where art, science and culture flourished.

Found camera at the Big Pine United Methodist Church Sanctuary. It was left there after our annual Cantata on December 10th. No one has called, so I believe they cannot remember where they could have left it. We will require a description of the camera. Please  call Jeri at Classified Ads > Lost and Found

[Dead Bums] County’s impoverished/homeless deaths toll at 51 in 2012.Link 



Careless SWAT deputy off team for now. Link

I can’t believe NRA’s Wayne LaPierre’s solution to gun violence is to put more guns in schools. This guy is so deep in the pockets of the gun lobby that he does a disservice to the NRA’s members. It’s small wonder people are shooting each other.




[Last Minute Shopping?] Radio Shack has everything you need. We have every iGadget you can think of and sound for your boat too.

In the aftermath of that terrible shooting the NRA wants all schools to have multiple armed guards, meaning more guns around. Is that the best they could come up with? What a calculated and cynical, self serving response. Let’s just put everything under Homeland Security while we’re at it. too. I support the second amendment, but the NRA does not speak for me.

nasa-saturn23Splendors seldom seen are revealed in this glorious picture from Saturn’s shadow. Imaged by Cassini on October 17, 2012 during its 174th orbit, the ringed planet’s night side is viewed from a perspective 19 degrees below the ring plane at a distance of about 800,000 kilometers with the Sun almost directly behind the planet. A 60 frame mosaic, images made with infrared, red, and violet filters were combined to create an enhanced, false-color view. Strongly backlit, the rings look bright away from the planet but dark in silhouette against the gas giant. Above center, they reflect a faint, eerie light on the cloud tops while Saturn casts its own dark shadow on the rings. A similar Cassini image from 2006 also featured planet Earth as a pale blue dot in the distance. Instead, this scene includes icy moons Enceladus (closer to the rings) and Tethys below the rings on the left.


[Free Utility Download] A few cautions about using duplicate finders. Only scan folders that have content you created. You don’t want to damage your Windows system files.

Also, be sure to preview the duplicate files before deleting them. No program is perfect and might select something you want to save.

When you download the program, be sure to select Duplicate Cleaner Free. The Pro version is for commercial use. The Free download button will take you to a second site. Click the green Download Now button to get the program. Link 


Weak Stone Crab season perplexes experts. Link

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~Aesop

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barcode23[Pic2Shop barcode scanner and comparison shopping]Free app for igadgeteers.  Scan a product’s barcode with your phone’s camera using pic2shop. You will receive product information such as price listed by retailers such as Amazon, Target, Walmart and Best Buy. If you find the product you want online, but don’t want to pay shipping fees, this app will tell you where you can find it locally. Each barcode you scan will be added to a webpage that you can email, or share on Facebook and Twitter. Link

[Teach your Children Well] FKAA is OK with hiring a firm that has committed fraud. Really? what is wrong with this picture?

[Gun Control]  The same bunch that call legal, semi-automatic rifles “assault weapons” also call Smith & Wesson or Colts with 2″ barrels “Saturday night specials” (makes them sound oh, so evil).



[High Cost of Dough] I ordered a large pizza. 2 meatballs and their pollo amore ensalat and it cost a whopping 38 bucks. $12 salad. $4 per meatball. After a Xmas tip for the driver I was almost out $50 for a delivered pizza. I could have taken my family to Marker 88 and had a real sit down meal. And they’re from New York!

[Gunman locked up in Mexican Jail] The first thing I think of when I go to a foreign country to “drink, party, surf and chill” is maybe I should take a shotgun. If you’re going to be stupid you better be strong. I’m going to go get ready to go deer hunting in Georgia. I’d better clean the barrel on my Bushmaster, purchase 45 more maximum round clips, purchase some body armor, and buy another 3,550 more rounds or ammo. It takes a lot to get 1 deer.



[Jon Hammar, Mexican Jail] Does being murdered by an old shotgun hurt any less than a new one?

The City of Marathon launched its first ever United Way campaign, with employees donating nearly $6,000.00. “We want to thank all the participants and sponsors for helping making our community a better place and funding our work to support strong, working families,” Smith said, “All funds raised in the Keys stay in the Keys.”

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FedEx Scam. Forward the email, without opening it, to They will track it down.


[Our future work force] There’s always pole dancing.

I told my doctor I was constipated. He said, “No shit?”



Does the Keys have gangs?

I am watching that SWAT Miami Dade again on the Current Channel. Can someone say if the Keys has a SRT, Special Response Team like Miami Dade?

How can FTR defend a guy who brings a shotgun to Mexico to go partying? FTR’s excuse for the poor excuse of a man is that the shotgun was old.



Holiday derives from Holy Day. So it’s etymologically under-informed to assert that “Happy Holidays” does not reference God. 

It seems that the punishment for the Deputy leaving an assault rifle plus thousands of dollar’s in police equipment in an unlocked patrol vehicle is being suspended from SWAT for 6 months. That’s it, no demotion, no loss of rank. And here I thought that there was an opening for a crossing guard somewhere in the county. 

These three full auto guns are great for home defense. Not recommended for shooting iquanas as I tried this and there wasn’t much edible meat left. Link 

an_jog_clinton[5K Walk-Run] Join us on Saturday, January 12, 2013 for the No Name Race. Park at Old Wooden Bridge Fish Camp, at No Name Rd., and No Name Bridge. The Course goes out Watson Road, over the bridge to No Name Key and back and is followed by awards and a post-race celebration. This year runners can invite friends, colleagues and family to sponsor them through registering here. The Race is coordinated by the Key West Southernmost Runners and will support the Mission of the Domestic Abuse Shelter. Bulletin Board

I had this album in the mid 70’s and played it to death. Dubbed a copy to Reel-to-Reel before the vinyl died. Still have the tape, but the deck went away in the late 80’s.

Jeff Sturges and Universe Rice Pudding (1971 Hard / Brass Rock US)



Dropkick Murphys – “The Season’s Upon Us Video

[End of Privacy] The police can find out where you are, where you’ve been, even where you’re going. All thanks to that handy little human tracking device in your pocket: your cell phone. In fact, police no longer even have to go to the trouble of seeking information from your cell carrier. Law enforcement is more and more deploying International Mobile Subscriber Identity locators that masquerade as cell towers and enable government agents to suck down data from thousands of subscribers as they hunt for an individual’s cell signal. This “Stingray” technology can detect and precisely triangulate cell phone signals with an accuracy of up to 6 feet—even inside your house or office where warrants have been traditionally required for a legal police search.



Stone crab at Fanci Seafood, Cudjoe Key. Stone Crabs, fresh off the boat and getting ready to cook and put out in the Fanci Seafood case. We will be open Sunday and Christmas Eve 8 am until 6 pm. Come get your fill on our homemade cookies!

Thank you to the person who wrote the beautiful poem about that ugly subject of late. It clearly expressed the beliefs of Christians that are truly educated in the understanding of the bible. I believe that from Halloween till New Years that it is the enemy’s season to see who’s heart he can turn away from God. How more effective can he be then to use this issue in CT. My God does not effect the world of physics. He will not catch me if I jump off the roof of a building. Yet I believe that he did try to stop this atrocity by using people, possible the mother herself. I can only pray that the true meaning of Christmas comes to light in your heart this holiday season. 


[Politically Correct] The autocorrect on my phone just changed “Christmas” to “Pagan Winter Festival.” ~Conan OBrien

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[Gun Sex] “What’s it like when you are having sex with your Bushmaster?” It’s a blast!


Last summer was one of the first years without any sea lice.

[Bill Gates’ 11 Rules of Life] Falsely attributed to Bill Gates since 2000. 

Rule 1: Life is not fair — get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping — they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.



[“How serious is this ice melt issue on a scale of 0-10″]  It’s an 11. Watch Greenland melt. Link

[Guns] I get the semiautomatic/assault rifle distinction, but I have a few questions that I really don’t know the answers to. Maybe some of you could help me. 
1. Why do some semi-automatic rifles look like military weapons rather than ordinary rifles and why are these preferred?
2. Changing out a clip is a simple operation. That said, why is a high capacity clip significantly better than several lower capacity clips?
3. Other than a higher cycling rate, why is a high velocity, small caliber such as a .223 preferable to a larger caliber with the same cost per round? Thank you. 


Let’s not ever discuss some of the things we told one another when we thought the world was ending.

Nira Tocco has a beautiful new listing in Doctor’s Arm. Video tour

Nira Tocco has another beautiful new listing. This one’s in Eden Pines Video tour

Best Climate Change Advertisement. Link

an_merryxmas_presentsThe early Rome Church moved the homeless man Jesus’ birthday from March (Pisces) to December 25, to coincide with the Winter Solstice, which was a Pagan high holy day. By doing that, the early Church hoped to make itself more appealing to Pagans. Now in its second day, tomorrow is the last day, the Winter Solstice heralds the coming of the light.

It’s been my experience that the light brings stuff which is not always welcome. Might be New Age folks, who have expectantly awaited the end of the Mayan Calendar and the advent of a new era for humanity, will be surprised at what all that might entail.

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[“One ugly, strange girl I brought home at 2am”]  I sure hope this unfortunate fellow didn’t take a Class IV Jersey girl home. Has anybody heard from him lately? I think it might be time to post pictures and warnings of the classes of NJ females at the Winn Dixie and other public places. Also, a PSA should be made periodically on US 1 Radio to remind Keys men about the danger of interacting with these women. Perhaps bumper stickers could be made that say, “Look Twice. Jersey women are everywhere.” 



Wiener dogs to waggle down Duval Street. Link

I’m not buying the argument that bad guys will get illegal guns if we ban them. These kids shooting up the schools, malls, etc are not your typical bad guy. They are not thugs, drug lords, mafia, gang members, bank robbers, etc. They are skinny white kids that live in the suburbs. I doubt they could get their hands on assault weapons if they had to go down to the local gang office to purchase them. I’m a gun owner, but I’m more embarrassed each day to be one when other gun owners argue against gun control. 

soldier23Valley marine calls himself to duty at an Elementary school. Sgt. Craig Pusley wears his desert camo fatigues–no weapons–just him. He took it upon himself to go to the nearby school and stand watch outside. The school loved it. The principal thanked him. No pay, no breaks, just his heart-felt need to do this. His reward? Marine Corp Reservists says he violated protocol by wearing his fatigues and not his dress uniform in public. Facing $10,000 fine and 5 years in prison, also getting a “dishonorable” stamp on his “honorable” discharge. He served 2 tours in Iraq, in Baghdad and Ramadi. One in Helmand province of Afghanistan before leaving active duty.

Now he is writing a letter to the President apologizing for his actions. 

Wake up! This man is a wonderful outstanding brave hero in my book and to think for a second that his heart felt need to go stand in front of his little neighborhood school was wrong. Screw you! The President should be sending him a thank you letter.

So I salute you Sgt. Craig Pusley. Thank you!

A tender moment with a dog and a child with Down’s Syndrome.  There is still a lot of love in the world if you jujst look for it! Link


Jib Jab’s year in musical review. Link

Richard Branson’s vulgar and offensive joke. At least someone still has a sense of humor! Link

[Sister-in-Law’s Son] I thought you might enjoy a few views of the mountainous terrain in Afghanistan and working along-side the Afghan troops. I periodically send a box of little toys and candy for the kids – it reminds me of the time I was a young kid in Austria after the war and went into the woods begging for chewing gum and candy from the US GI’s. My son claims the snow is good as they don’t booby-trap the frozen roads. Unfortunately he will be away from my family this Christmas.


[Our future work force] We recently had a young woman apply for a job at our BPK business and she reeked of booze! I also recommend screening any applicants on

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[Gun Control] A heck of a year. Thanks, NRA & other assorted gun nuts for making it all possible.

I suggest putting a teacher in every gun store.


NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary welcomes Quiescence Diving Services, Inc. of Key Largo as the newest participant in the sanctuary’s Blue Star education and conservation program. Quiescence is the 15th operator in the Florida Keys to earn this recognition.

Launched in 2009, Blue Star salutes charter companies that hapocolypse23elp protect the Florida Keys coral reef ecosystem by promoting responsible snorkeling and diving practices, and educating their patrons on the role humans play in reef health. Unlike some of the more global causes of reef decline – such as climate change – damage to reefs from snorkeling and diving is considered easily preventable through education and experience.



If ammunition were as regulated as Sudafed

[Capt Doom and Gloom] The other evening several people were telling jokes in a locals bar, when a woman approached them and demanded they ‘stop such obnoxious vulgarities’. The group of course, burst out laughing at her. She then asked for the bar manager to make them stop because it offended her religious beliefs and morals. He simply said, “So Madam, why the hell are you drinking booze in a bar with your girlfriends, when you could be drinking cheap wine in church?”. She went ballistic and demanded he call the police. He said,”What should I call them for? Oh I see, an escapee from the drunk tank is attacking my customers, right?” She left in a huff! It take all kinds, but the scary part is they vote and breed!

 “Semi automatic rifle that is black and evil looking” “Evil looking”? Define that please. War looking, combat looking, imitation looking, evil, nah. evil is one of those words bubbler’s use. It describes anything they cannot understand or want to deal with. like cold Vaseline is evil.

If Jon Hammar was headed towards Mexico to drink, party, surf and chill, why did he bring an antique gun with him? Dunno, FTR. Sounds like a jarhead that can’t be away from any sort of gun for too long. The fact that you think this should be a high priority for Obama– given what’s going on in this nation right now– proves your delusions are getting worse.


Time magazine’s “Man of the Year” in 1938


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[Jon Hammar Mexican Jail] If terrorists brought antique shotguns into New York would that be okay too, just because the guns were old.


The killer in Connecticut‘s mother was an avid gun owner. How did that stop the crime? If guns don’t shoot people and people do, then why are we so worried about Iran because missiles don’t fire themselves, right?

The Right’s a confusing lot.

From the Right

dannyboy2The ego of Obama knows no bounds, it has no equals, and it has no shame.  It is cosmic. I’m now watching Obama’s eulogy for Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii.  I’ve listened for a few minutes and cannot stand it an instant longer. In those minutes Obama barely mentioned Inouye and his remarkable history. Obama repeatedly referred to Senator Inouye as “Danny”.  Danny boy perhaps? Yes, Deer Friends, so as to increase Obama’s personal stature, he repeatedly referred to Senator Daniel Inouye as “Danny”. That “Danny’ is the same internationally revered American war hero and statesman, Senator Daniel Inouye that Obama claimed to honor and respect.  The naked fact is that Obama honors and respects damn near none no one other than Obama.  During the course of the Obama self love-a-thon, Obama used the word “my” “21 times, “me” 12 times, and “I” 30 times. Worse, much worse he repeatedly referred to Senator Inouye by using the diminutive “Danny”. It suggests that Obama viewed the Senator as being inferior by referring to him as if he were a small child.

Perhaps Mr. Obama has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  There certainly is evidence that supports that thought. The Mayo Clinic tells us that: “ Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include:

Believing that you’re better than others

 Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness

 Exaggerating your achievements or talents

 Expecting constant praise and admiration

 Believing that you’re special and acting accordingly

 Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings

 Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans

 Taking advantage of others

 Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior

 Being jealous of others

 Believing that others are jealous of you

 Trouble keeping healthy relationships

 Setting unrealistic goals

 Being easily hurt and rejected

 Having a fragile self-esteem

 Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional.”

“Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don’t value themselves more than they value others.”

“When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may have a sense of entitlement. And when you don’t receive the special treatment to which you feel entitled, you may become very impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything — the best car, athletic club, medical care or social circles, for instance.” “But underneath all this behavior often lies a fragile self-esteem. You have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have a sense of secret shame and humiliation. And in order to make yourself feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and efforts to belittle the other person to make yourself appear better.”

There is much more fascinating information to be had at the Mayo Clinic web site, urge you read it.  Every single person who reads this will immediately identify repeated behaviors of Obama that perfectly evince the behaviors that the Mayo Clinic identifies as being symptoms of a mental disorder. Some will be enraged, but more will begin to worry and wonder.

Part 2) Mr. Obama is now happily decamped in Hawaii. Marine vet,  Jon Hammar has been released from his months long  jailing in a Mexican prison and is back in the USA.  The thanks for his release goes largely to Congresswoman Ileana Ros Leighton.  Senator Bill Nelson and Senator Marco Rubio were players and deserve credit.  Mr. Obama voted absent. No surprise there.


Based on what I read in The Key West Citizen and hear on the street year after year, Key West puts far more effort into trying to keep homeless people from sleeping outside, day or night, than it puts into trying to defend school children and Key West mainstream citizens and visitors from being mugged, beaten nearly to death, knifed and/or shot on its streets and in its bars and in their homes.

When I arrived homeless in Key West in late 2000, homeless people were allowed to sleep outside. For the first month I was in Key West, the minister of UnityChurch let me sleep in the outbuilding behind the church, until the church board members fired her for that and reasons pre-dating me, after receiving crystal clear messages from Above that they should not fire her. Hurricane Wilma would level that church in the fall of 2005, but spare the back out building where I had slept.

After the Unity minister was fired, I slept nights on cardboard boxes in a doorway next to the bookstore on Fleming Street from February through May 2001. Then, I was moved to Helen, Georgia for the summer, in a curious way described in the Preface to HEAVY WAIT: A Strange Tale, which novel literally fell out of me on a borrowed computer in the Helen Library during May and June of that year. The book finally was published by in 2006, and can be obtained there. There also are copies in the MonroeCounty library system, which I donated.

In 2008, Mark Howell wrote a review for Solares Hill, but Tom Tuell, Editor of The Citizen and Mark’s boss, killed the review, ostensibly because I was running for the CountyCommission and it wouldn’t be fair to the other candidates, but the review could run after the election. Later, Mark told me the review never would run. I never saw what he wrote for the review.

Anyway, two days after 9/11, I was headed back to Key West on a Greyhound bus, and the night of the day I arrived, I headed for my old condo on Fleming to bed down. I had only just gotten comfy and was starting to doze off when a KWPD cruiser came by, like had happened many times that spring, but this time the cruiser stopped and two officers got out and told me I could not sleep in that doorway. I asked, where could I sleep? They said nowhere, it was illegal, and I had to move on.

I said, hmmm, did that mean I was now to sue the City of Key West for violation of my Constitutional Rights? The two officers seemed to take some offense over that. I said not to worry, I was moving on, but could I have one of their cards? One gave me his card, with his name, business phone, address, etc. The next day, I wrote a letter to him to say I had thought it over and did not feel like a lawsuit was the way to deal with it. I really didn’t feel a lawsuit was the way to deal with it, although some years later, I would change my mind.

After the two officers drove away, I walked across Fleming and bedded down just down the sidewalk from an elderly black man, who bedded down on Fleming every night, and was bedded down every day on Fleming or other streets, in the shade. The KWPD officers had not told him to get up and move on. I was not bothered the rest of that night.

The next day I was in the Key West library to use one of its public computers to go online. The library always had a sheriff deputy on station and the library also had a policy against sleeping in the library. Quite a few homeless people used the library daily, including me, and they were prone to nod off. As was I.

When I felt myself starting to nod off in the library that day, I grabbed my day pack and went outside and sat on a bench in the pretty little garden next to the library. My back pack was hanging in a Duval Street shoe store’s back room, where I was allowed to store it during the day thanks to the kindness of the store manager who had taken an interest in me the day after I arrived in Key West in late 2000. I had no shoes that fit, and he gave me a pair of used sandals someone had left and had not come back to pick up. Sometimes he took me home with him, on Big Coppit Key, where I was able to do laundry and sleep on a couch and eat a home- cooked meal.

Well, pretty soon, I nodded off sitting upright on that bench in the garden beside the library. And, pretty soon, I started awake to look up and see the sheriff deputy from inside the library looking down at me. He said I was not supposed to sleep there. I said I knew that, but I had passed out. Passed out? Yes, passed out. I passed out a couple of times a day, had done so for years. It happened in church services, coffee shops, wherever. Did I have a medical problem? No, it was a God thing. I passed out, then when I came out of it, something happened God wanted me to experience. The deputy appeared seriously upset, said I had to leave the garden. I said okay, and got up, shouldered my day pack and grabbed my bicycle, which stood nearby on its kickstand, and walked it out of the garden, as I asked the officer if he didn’t have something more important to do, like catch criminals?

Well, that was not what that deputy wanted to hear, and he whipped out a pad off his hip and took his pen out of his shirt pocket and started asking me questions. Where did I live? I said I had no home address. “At large,” he said, and wrote that on his pad. He said I was banned from the library. I said, what? He went inside the library and fetched an older man, whom I’d seen in the library and figured he was in charge. The deputy conversed with the older man, who told me he agreed, I was banned from the library. I was astounded, said so. Then, the deputy ordered me off the sidewalk in front of the library. I said it was a public sidewalk, I was not breaking any law, he could not order me off the sidewalk. The deputy whipped out is two-way and requested back up. I asked why he did that, he was wearing the Glock, I was not armed? He gave me a really mean look. I got on my bicycle and pedaled off, wondering what in the hell was going on?

In less than 24 hours, I was banned from sleeping outside and using the library. It would be quite a while before I understood 9/11 had caused Key West to start treating its homeless people like terrorists.

Later that day, I saw a fellow I’d only just met at Sippin’ Internet Cafe the evening before. He was really into the Sufi poet Rumi, and was astounded to learn that a homeless person knew about Rumi, and about Rumi’s teacher, Shams, of whom the fellow I’d only just met said I sort of reminded him. The fellow, a recovering alcoholic and an old-timer at Anchors Away in Key West, said he didn’t want me exposed to the Key West police at night and I could stay with him and his son, for which I was grateful. They also had a computer and it was online, so I was able to sleep inside and write and do what I needed to do online.

I stayed with them until just after Hurricane Michelle brushed by Key West in early November of 2001, when I was moved to Birmingham until the next June, when I was moved back to Helen until early September, when I was moved back to Key West. Thanks to an unexpected Christmas gift from my father, I still had a little money and was able to rent an apartment in a house owned by the wife of Key West lawyer Michael Barnes, whose law office took up the rest of the house. The money ran out in December, and that January I was back to living on the street.

This time. I slept in the backyard of the UnityChurch on Flagler Avenue, where nobody bothered me. For all I know, nobody knew I was sleeping there. Every morning, I was on HiggsBeach for sunrise. Later that year, I nearly died of MRSA, and just after that I ran for Mayor of Key West the first time, while living in a Florida Keys Outreach Coalition shelter. I lived outside some more after that, in a tent across from SmathersBeach. That’s when the lawsuit was threatened, and that’s how Keys Overnight Homeless Shelter (KOTS) came to be built. Short version of a much longer story.

I bet my life and my soul that Key West will continue to put far more effort into trying to control homeless people, than it puts into protecting school children and its mainstream citizens and visitors from muggings, beatings nearly to death, knifings and shootings.

Margie Smith UWFK headshot[Margie Smith, President United Way of the Florida Keys] Two years ago, after nearly a full year at the helm of United Way of the Florida Keys I wrote an editorial  to let our community know about the great work underway at our United Way and the new direction we were taking with our then new community impact focus areas of 1) access to quality nutritious food  and 2) early childhood and youth development. In case you didn’t know, your local United Way has been providing local funding for many non-profit organizations  providing critical services for our neighbors in need for many years in health and human services from food pantries to shelters.   We are now concluding our 30th year serving our keyswide community and (the 125th year anniversary since United Way began)  and there is so much to be thankful for.  As in independent local 501c3, money raised in the keys stays in the Keys as it always has, and we have really had an astonishing year of expanded participation by organizations in our work and engagement by volunteers at all levels.

Though all United Ways fund local programs in Education, Income and Health, with our  Keyswide Community Impact focus above on essentially food and kids, above we can now talk about specific progress in these areas taking place in your community. United Way funds targeted local programs in our two community impact areas with measurable goals. (We even provided training for non-profits this past year on how to devise Outcomes and come up with meaningful metrics for that work.)  We vet these organizations closely in a transparent, competitive process, and then with the help of volunteers from throughout our community select the programs that provide the most compelling solutions for the needs in our community.  What a learning opportunity it is to review the work of these organizations, many of them providing comprehensive support and care for working families in the Keys, and doing it  on a shoestring.

This past year, we have funded programs provided by 18 local 501c3 non-profit organizations that serve our community, and in many cases provide services that enable families to function so that our economy keeps running. I guarantee you if you have been in the Keys for more than two weeks, you know someone, either a neighbor, friend or family members that has been directly positively impacted by our work. Your neighbor may not mention it to you or even be aware of our support when she spent a few weeks at the Domestic Abuse Shelter a decade ago but United Way of the Florida Keys has been supporting them since 1984.  Being a United Way agency even makes them eligible for grant funding they wouldn’t be otherwise.  You may have coworkers or employees that have been able to come to work in the morning because they were able to find enriching and affordable child care offered by one of several child care providers that we have been supporting all these years for kids who wouldn’t have a stable place to go otherwise.  Giving through United Way is often highly leveraged as well as we are the approved local match for state, federal or foundation grants, which in the case of Wesley House matches United Way donor funds at an astounding $16 for every $1 provided through United Way.

These are the non-profits that have successfully applied for and are receiving financial support from United Way of the Florida Keys this year:

American Red Cross

Boys and Girls Club

Domestic Abuse Shelter

Florida KeysOutreachCenter

Girl Scouts




Wesley House Family Services

Burton Memorial United MethodistChurch Food Pantry


Star of the Sea Outreach Mission

Grace Jones

Anchor Aweigh Club

Boy Scouts

Florida Keys Children’s Shelter


Where do United Way funds come from?

You may have heard of our work especially over the past few years supporting food pantries and facilitating solutions to get more food to residents in need as the need for food pantry support has spiked among our neighbors.  Thank you for making all of this possible.  United Way is funded not by any government source but by financial support primarily from residents of the Keys which supports programs in the Keys.  Though payroll deduction in workplace campaigns has long been the source all local United Ways have depended on, and we have seen some dramatic gains in specific campaigns, we know that this model is harder to actualize in the Keys where we don’t have many corporate employers with a long term relationship of supporting the community through United Way nationally. Employees keyswide participate in our workplace campaigns through payroll deduction.  Our top ten supporters in order starting from Publix,  Mariner’s Hospital, Monroe County Schools, Hawk’s Cay Resort, Bank of America, AT&T, Iberia Bank, Aqueduct Authority, Electric Coop, Florida Power and Light and UPS. We have seen tremendous gains in some of these campaigns this past year, as more people become aware of the work we are doing that we all benefit from. The good news is anyone can be a part of our work and support our local United Way, even without a conventional workplace.

Giving is a personal decision, but if you have been involved in the community and made aware of our work, but sitting on the sidelines because you are self-employed or haven’t been asked in your workplace, I invite you to get involved with United Way of the Florida Keys.  Why?  We are in a unique position among non-profits in the keys, in that we are truly countywide and in a position to provide leadership and convene the discussion between all of the stakeholders from the non-profit sector, the business community, local government etc. around addressing human needs in the Keys. In 2013, we are looking to make some of the same community impact gains in early childhood development and youth development that we have made in food.  These efforts include but go beyond the funding of existing programs such as aftercare support for the most needy children keyswide,(though that is essential)  and are aimed at coming up with solutions that provide tangible support to working families to help every child succeed. Bigger United Ways have mature programming around early childhood development and programming that complements mentoring and literacy efforts of other organizations in communities.  Even though the Keys have some unique blessings and unique challenges, we believe we can help you be part of the solution. 

Also, we do our work primarily through volunteers, as we only have a two person staff for the entire Keys.  (One is currently funded by a private donor, so we couldn’t be operating any leaner.) As always, money raised in the Keys stays in the Keys. Come be a part of the solution for some of the most pressing challenges of our Keys community.

What can you do?

Learn more about the programs we support on our web site and sign up to volunteer with us.  Whether for helping get school supplies to kids in August, during Stuff the Bus, helping with campaign presentations and events, or helping us decide which programs we fund in the Spring we have many opportunities for you to get engaged in our work.  We also are actively looking for participants on our community impact committees around childhood development and food for residents in need.

We have seen great strides in quantifying the impact of our work, and increased the awareness of our work locally but what we are missing is likely your engagement.  Come find out more about the specific programs we fund at , sign up to volunteer or donate, and sign up to be part of the conversation about our community through social media. Many residents of our community have been supporting this important work for many years, so THANK YOU! As the year comes to a close and we look back at all the progress we have made, we know we couldn’t do it without you.  Give.  Advocate.  Volunteer.  LIVE UNITED