The Memory Hole


Watch you don’t drop your questions down there.

I cover so many subjects, and they all seem to require a lot of research.  Public records requests can take multiple attempts.  Sometimes the info received requires clarification or generates more questions.

The county will often stall and stiff-arm hoping that people like me will get discouraged and go away.  And sometimes it works.  Oftentimes I’ll forget about something I asked for.

Bottom line:  it’s easy to lose track of things.  There’s so much going on.

I made this page to help me stay on top of things so they don’t slip away.

Big Coppitt “audit.

I finally received this from Kevin Wilson after several requests.  As you can see, the “audit” is really just a list of financial transactions.  It doesn’t really say anything.  The Big Coppitt and Duck Key projects are commingled, blurring lines and adding confusion.  When I think of an audit, I think of a process that provides assurances that money is being properly managed.

I might expect to see that quantities taken in the field are matched to pay requests and the final record drawings.  That assures the taxpayers there’s no phantom billings or double dipping.   There’s nothing here that suggests that was done.

Cudjoe Regional pay requests.

I also asked for and received the latest Cudjoe Regional pay requests for the collection system.  Again, I wonder how quantities were verified.  Typically, the field inspector (who is working on behalf of the owner) notes quantities installed on a daily report.  And those daily reports are used to verify the quantities in the pay requests submitted.

I need more time to review and digest this material, but one issue has already jumped out at me.  There are several “lump sum” items that are not clearly defined.  For instance, a bridge crossing or a lift station might typically be a lump sum item, but you know what you’re supposed to wind up with in the end.  The Reynolds pay request lists force main, gravity mains and manholes as lump sum items.  How do you know you’re getting what you paid for at a fair price?  Are we paying $100 per linear foot or $1,000 per linear foot?  Who knows?  The fact that these are considered “lump sum” items obscures that.

Animal Control.

The Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA) scored a 70% price increase for running the Marathon animal shelter.  This is in spite of the fact that they currently run the shelter, and in spite of the fact that they were the only bidder.  Seems fishy to me.

Making matters worse, the FKSPCA is none too pleased with my questions, which only makes me more suspicious.  Not only that, they seem reluctant to provide the information I requested.  Naturally, that makes the FKSPCA seem even shadier and generates additional questions.

Related:  the new Key West animal shelter.  Haven’t requested any documents on this yet, but I will.  There are a lot of blurred lines here.

Also related:  the FKSPCA claims their cost increase has to do with raising employee pay from $10 per hour to $14.50 per hour.  I don’t necessarily disagree with the pay increase, but I’m very skeptical of their claim.  Do-nothing jobs for bubbas and phantom employees are pretty typical scams, so staffing issues definitely need more scrutiny.

I have a request in to Kevin Wilson for audited financial statements from SUFA, SHARK and the FKSPCA.  The shelters are required to submit these documents.  Did the county receive them?  Who knows.  County staff is not exactly known for diligence and follow-through.

Note:  the county only partially responded to my request.  I’m raising a big stink over the missing documents because it just looks suspicious as hell that they just disappeared.  More info here.

Toppino’s Conflicts.

This is a biggie.  It’s very strange to me that of eleven applicants for a vacant seat on the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) board, Governor Rick Scott chose the one with the largest potential for ongoing conflicts of interest.  If that weren’t bad enough, the FKAA lied to the public about the amount of business Richard Toppino does with the agency he’s supposed to oversee, and claimed not to have public records that shed light on that when they actually did.

I don’t have any active public records requests at the moment, but I have been collecting Toppino’s conflict disclosures.  Toppino was appointed in December 2015.  During that two-year time span, he’s filed fourteen conflict forms, many of them covering multiple agenda items.  Remember, the FKAA only has one regular meeting per month.  So that’s about twenty-five meetings since Toppino was appointed.  He’s declared a conflict in over half.

Unfortunately, it’ll be tough to find relief given the sad state of affairs at the Florida Ethics Commission.  But I’ll see what I can do.

Affordable Housing:

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has been “struggling” with the affordable housing issue for over a decade at least.  Now, thanks to the Florida Keys Stewardship Act (FKSA), they’ve got a bundle of taxpayer money to throw at it.

If the BOCC were a competent, trustworthy entity that would be fine.  But they’re not, so the FKSA just provides them more opportunity to make our tax dollars disappear.

This is something that needs to be kept track of, for sure.  There was lots of info provided at the November 29 special BOCC meeting.  I need to dig into that.