The-Coconut-Telegraph-w-CoconutsSince 2002. Published Tuesdays and Fridays
Letters to the Editor with pictures

RIFT BETWEEN BLOGGER, WOMAN GENERATES TWO LIBEL SUITS
By Scott Unger
Key West CitizenThe rift between Key West blogger Sloan Bashinsky and an Alabama woman led to two libel lawsuits against Keys media entities that were heard this week by Circuit Court Judge Timothy Koenig.Leeds, Alabama resident Judith Haney filed suit against The Blue Paper Editor Naja Girard and Bigpinekey.com owners Deer Ed and Mrs Deer Ed for alleged defamatory statements about her, stemming from her interactions with Bashinsky, according to the filings.

Last year, Haney sent Bashinsky $1,000, flew him to Birmingham, Alabama, and furnished him with a credit card, apartment and car. Within a week, Haney said she lost confidence in Bashinsky, realized she made a mistake and “pulled the plug,” sending him back to Key West.

Shortly after, Haney submitted a complaint seeking a restraining order on Bashinsky for alleged libel, invasion of privacy and cyberstalking for missives posted on his blog about their interactions.

That case was heard on March 31 by Judge Bonnie Helms, who has yet to issue her ruling.

Haney filed a libel suit against Girard seeking monetary damages for a message Girard sent to Bashinsky that was subsequently published on his blog.

The message discussed the saga between Bashinsky and Haney, with Girard implying that Haney chose Bashinsky to help because his family is well established in Alabama and he could receive inheritance in the coming years.

“How disgusting to prey on an older man — a man who spends his life focusing on his community — an older man with no income living on the street!” Girard wrote. “Because he may someday, inherit a large sum of money!? Money!? How pitiful!! If that is what this is — and it does look that way — it is truly disgusting.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, Girard said it was a personal message to Bashinsky and she would’ve been “much more diplomatic” if she had known he would publish it. The letter was taken down at her request in less than a day, Girard said.

The message was clearly a personal opinion and there was plenty of cautionary language to certify that stance, Girard argued.

“I laid out the facts as they were known to me,” she said. “I understand the plaintiff doesn’t like my opinion but she can’t use the justice system to attack my free speech.”

Reading the statement was “a shock” and the words were clearly defamatory, Haney argued.

“That’s very hard to imagine that she didn’t intend (it) to be defamatory,” she said. “Her free speech ends at the end of her nose when it violates my rights.”

Before dismissing the suit with prejudice (meaning permanently dismissed), Koenig said libel cases involve the balance between first amendment rights and a person’s right not to be defamed and acknowledged the words must’ve been hurtful to read for Haney.

“It is clear that those words are being issued and written as an opinion,” Koenig said. “Hurtful and painful as they are, they are not actionable.”

While also a libel suit, the Deer Eds’ hearing centered mostly on whether their website should be considered media and if they have the right to pre-suit notice as other media entities are given for a chance to issue a correction.

Categorized as a “community diary” by Gorman attorney Lee Rohe, the website features mostly anonymous comments submitted by readers and moderated by Deer Ed.

One of those submissions stated Haney was “krazzey” (sic) and alleged she exploits people for monetary gain.

Although the message wasn’t written by the Deer Ed family, Haney said they edited and published false statements.

The site should not be protected as a traditional media source because they don’t take part in traditional media practices such as sourcing and verification, Haney said.

“He doesn’t operate with accountability, he doesn’t operate with transparency,” she said of deer Ed. “At no time would this website meet (the) criteria for typical journalistic standards.”

Rohe argued that Haney’s pleadings were “very vague” and not proper under court rules. He also cited several cases that would cover the website as a media source.

Koenig ended the hearing without issuing a ruling, telling both parties he needed to look closer at the rules governing pre-suit notice.
sunge@keysnews.com

[FTR on Term Limits] On Tuesday a poster put forward an eloquent posting on the soon-to-be gated community at Dolphin Marina.  The poster is rightly angry and dismayed at the quality of our governance.  I sure hope that the poster took just a few seconds to send an email to the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Authority to urge them to self impose term limits.   Look, we all know that the Bug Board has nothing to do with the Dolphin Marina debacle, but they are a local policy setting board.  If they term limit they will stand as a shining example of good governance that will be hard for other local boards to ignore.  And while we’re reading this, why don’t you take a few seconds and do the same damned thing.  Email them, urge them that term limits of 2 4-year terms is enough.

Think about it, the County Commissioner that is responsible for serving the needs of the citizens who live from Big Coppit to a tiny, tiny slice of land in Marathon (that’s another story), is the long-term incumbent. In the last election cycle primary, that Commish was defeated in 5 of the 7 precincts that make up the district.  But our commissioners are elected county wide. So the Commish won because of votes garnered outside of the Commish’s district. The citizens who voted in the Commish’s district made it clear — they wanted him gone!  I suspect that not many folks on BPK are thrilled with the idea of having a gated community here.

During aforementioned election cycle, that Commish’s campaign contributions doubled over the previous election cycle.  The lion’s share of the donations came from big buck contributors. Many, if not most, of the donations came from special interests.  Special interests like real estate (surprise surprise) and many who do business with the County.  Look, a commissioner taking campaign contributions from entities that do business with the county is probably legal; the same goes for any special interest donor. But you’d be wise to view it with deep skepticism. You’ve got to ask yourself if the donor is really interested in good governance, or is the donor interested in self-interest.

The tacky reality is that the longer a politician holds office, the more campaign contributions he or she will receive.  Special interests will come bubbling up like swamp gas.  The more campaign money a candidate has, the more likely the candidate is to win.

We need term limits here in Monroe for all of our elected policy making boards.  About three quarters of all Americans agree on that.  Do your part, please take a few moments and email the Bug Board, urge them to term limit themselves.

Phil Goodman is the Chair, he’s leading the charge for term limits.  Please urge him on.  pgoodman@keysmosquito.org

Baby ocelot. Aaaawww

[Dog Bite Trial in Key West] As the laws states you must have your animal on a 48 inch leash at all times the animal is off you property. People who need to prove their manhood or womanhood with dangerous animals as “pets” should also be on leashes Maybe I’ll get an attack crocodile and feed him the neighbor’s brats!
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[“Bright Strobes on BPK Prison Tower] As many of you likely noticed, the strobes went off during today (Tuesday) and traditional red lights appeared at 7pm. So all is well again.

Since last week when the white strobe started our bedroom looked like a 70s disco, so we were also concerned. We did some phone research and ended up talking to an extremely nice lady at the Communications Office of the County Sheriff who, when we described the problem, seemed to know exactly what to do. We told her the location of the tower and she said she would contact the owner/operator to get it fixed.

Here’s the deal as per her explanation: The towers have a dual lighting system – bright white for daytime and red or lowered intensity for night. An ambient light sensor connected to a controller computer board causes the two light systems to switch at dawn and dusk. When the board goes bad it defaults to the bright setting. That has happened before and will happen again. When notified, a crew goes out to put in a new board. And likely to my wife’s call and the e-mail of the CT person to the responsible party directly (which they acknowledged as per his/her post), the affair got fixed in a few days. We can all sleep with the red lights on.

As relative full-time new-comers to the Keys we wander why there’s such overall negativity among the residents? Tuesday’s CT posts contain several references to the bright strobe lights, but instead of asking or working to solve the problem, some of the posts include dead-end statements like:

1) “What’s with the strobe light on the tower by the Road Prison? Was that turned on to piss us off and disturb our tranquility!”

2) “I don’t know what to do? Is this another make-work project to keep useless people employed?”

Do people in the Keys start blaming government or whomever when their shoes come untied? Come on! There are too few of us here to not work together intelligently. In the tower strobe light example all it took was for one or two people to send an e-mail and make a phone call.

Interesting veteran statistics of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Link

 

 

Yeah! The tower strobe is fixed!

Have you seen those new houses on Sombrero Beach Road in Marathon? Ugliest damn things I’ve ever seen. Did they let a six-year old pick the color scheme? The architect should go back to playing with Legos.
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[“Unbuttered instant grits”] It’s Yankee restaurant owners who are using instant grits. Clearly, they can’t cook them properly.
[Diving Deaths] With all the hubbub over that Canadian film maker’s death while diving I attempted to find out how many people have died in Keys diving mishaps. I got a ton of info off the net but no actual total. It would seem the diving community does not want that number getting out. If anyone has a ballpark figure, I’d appreciate it if you could post it here for the last 20 years or so. It’s got to be a pretty big number because I’ve been down here 27 years and it seems a few divers parish every season.
FDOT’s latest debacle is the light and east of it passing Fisherman’s Hospital. Really? If this project were put to a vote, the sensible people of Marathon would shoot it down in a second. Man, it seems those geniuses at FDOT can’t piss money away fast enough.
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[Redneck Boat Trailer] The snow birds are gone, now the rednecks come back to fill the void. Video

 

 

 

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with society. No one drinks from the skulls of their enemies anymore!

[Upcoming Mergers] 1. Hale Business Systems, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Fuller Brush, and W. R. Grace Co. will merge and become: Hale, Mary, Fuller, Grace.
2. Polygram Records, Warner Bros., and Zesta Crackers join forces and become: Poly, Warner Cracker.
3. 3M will merge with Goodyear and become: MMMGood.
4. Zippo Manufacturing, Audi Motors, Dofasco, and Dakota Mining will merge and become: ZipAudiDoDa.
5. FedEx is expected to join its competitor, UPS, and become: FedUP.
6. Fairchild Electronics and Honeywell Computers will become: Fairwell Honeychild.7. Grey Poupon and Docker Pants are expected to become: PouponPants.
8. Knotts Berry Farm and the National Organization of Women will become: Knott NOW!
9. Victoria’s Secret and Smith & Wesson will merge under the new name: TittyTittyBangBang
As far as the Coconut Telegraph’s liable suit: could we call it desecration of the freedom of the pissed?

 

[Deer Convicted of Trespass] Does anyone know how to reach someone. A Key Deer got locked inside the gates at the Road Prison when it was shut down. Poor thing was standing at the gate wanting out.

Florida high School ratings. Link
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[Cremation] Overly obese’ body starts funeral home fire. Burn off the fat before you die. Video

 

 

[Men’s Room Critters] I found one of these in my underwear after I picked up a woman from a Ramrod watering hole. What is it, and should I see a doctor?

[Man Spends His One Day Off Cleaning Veterans’ Tombstones] Meet Andrew Lumish, the owner of a cleaning company in Tampa, Florida, who spends every Sunday scrubbing and cleaning veterans’ tombstones. Video
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It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.    ~Harry S. Truman

 

[Crabbing in the Keys] A snowbird asked me where the best spot to go crabbing is in the Keys. I told him in any bar restroom!

Kudos to the person who got the Road prison tower’s strobe light changed to a gently pulsating red light.
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[Autism] Marijuana may be a miracle treatment for children with autism. Israeli breakthrough suggests cannabis oil is helping children deal with severe autism. Link

[Bugs] We just got a new kitchen and when we pulled out all the old cabinets the dirt and bugs under them were unreal. It pays to seal the cabinets to the floor and walls with silicone caulk; also seal any wall openings. We live in a jungle remember?

I heard Yan Tollman, the owner of Five Sixes taxi on Morning Magazine. I thought I was listening to Keith Richards. Is that guy dead and nobody told him?
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[Rank Schools] According to a report in the Miami Herald, US News & World Report has ranked schools both nationally and in the state of Florida.  It appears that schools in Miami-Dade County have done well.  Who could tell me how schools in Monroe County were ranked in the survey, especially the state survey?
Hello! My name is Stacey Pegum & I work at Bliss Massage Loft in Marathon. I was wondering about the events that you hold in the parking lot & if we could do chair massages for some of the people coming in. Who would I speak to about that? My contact is 712.298.1241. (Ed: I regret to say we don’t have a parking lot. Visitors usually arrive by camel through paths cut through the mangroves to get to corporate headquarters.)
[“CT sued”] Well, here it is, Wednesday morning, and I stopped in a lower Keys bar for a nice cold glass of “breakfast”. The dude sitting next to me said to the drop-dead-smoking-hot female bartender, “That Ed dude from the Coco Telly should be hung”. The bartender replied, “He is”. I wonder what she meant by that? seeing how court isn’t till Thursday?
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Man, I wish I had some chunk of property that had no use that I could sell to the county. They pay really well!

 

 

[Warning Labels] I’m not saying kill all the stupid people. I’m saying remove the warning labels on products and the problem will sort itself out.

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest of intention.
The Key West Orchid Society‘s last speaker of this season is Sunday, May 7 at 1:00 at W. Martello Gardens. Tom Kuligowski who specializes in the Angraecum class of Orchids will have plants for sale and raffle. All are welcome to bring their blooming orchids to Show & Tell to share. Tom is also an orchid photographer for many award-winning show plants.

Reservations are coming in for the trip to the Redland International Orchid Festival on Friday, May 19. You can pay at the meeting, or send your $35 check, made out to KWOS, to Marie Geranian, 111 Star Lane, Key West FL 33040. For more info see:  Full Menu > Ongoing Events

 

I wonder how many people wearing bald eagle t-shirts realize the EPA is why the bald eagle isn’t extinct?

I hear Kim Jade Fry is playing Looe Tiki this Saturday. I had not heard of her but “hell, yeah!” if her show is anything like this one a few years ago This has to be the same soulful lady that sang “Chain, chain, chain” in Ray West’s band last Friday at Tiki in memory of talented singer Cynthia who passed recently. She did it proud! Video
[“Strobe light on tower”] I enjoy watching the night sky, without the flashing. Thank you for the CT.  My wife and I retired to BPK 2 years ago and have enjoyed the CT very much

 

 

 

 

My first babysitter.

United Way of the Florida Keys for May. Link
[Big Pine Murderer] State prosecutors filed formal charges against 26-year-old Heather Sue Evans of Big Pine Key who is accused of stabbing her fiancé, Clifford Cease, 33, to death after a domestic dispute last month
[Big Pine Drug Dealer] Matthew Myers, 23, of Big Pine Key, was charged with giving a false name to law enforcement, possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and possession of LSD. He was also charged with trafficking in cocaine and heroin.
[Big Pine Drug Dealer #2] Ryan Edward MacFarland Bauer was charged with resisting an officer with violence, resisting an officer without violence, possession of pills without a prescription, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, tampering with evidence and attempting to smuggle contraband — a switchblade knife — into the jail.
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