Friday, February 13, 2004

The way things are

I got a call from a friend in Key West last night. You don't know him, so lets just call him Bob, same as me. He's a good friend. I got together with him a couple of times a week, sometimes more often, and we'd talk about lots of things.

Bob is a first generation conch. He grew up in Key West, went to school, and then left for a while to see the world outside. Along the way, he got married a couple of times, had a child, then he and his wife came back to Cayo Hueso and settled back into the community.

Fast forward: What Bob told me during the course of our half-hour chat was that we shouldn't expect to come back to the same Key West we left almost two years ago. "It's speeded up", he said. The gist of what he was saying is that the island is booming, being overrun with tourists. They're starting to venture into Bahama Village too, in numbers greater than he's seen before. The city has begin to install the faux-antique street lights that are in the rest of old town, and there's activity behind the Village at the waterfront site. As far as I know, there is no official plan for the use of the Truman Waterfront. "Understand", Bob says, "that there is a plan, some people know what it is -- just not the citizens."

I asked him if there is anything coming out of the Mayor's Ad Hoc Tourism Planning Task Force. I just found the Final Report of the Task Force at the Mayor's web site. I'll be reading that later today. What's interesting is that the Chamber of Commerce, who had a representative on the Task Force, refuses to endorse the Final Report.

I've been following that story for some time now. It isn't clear to me where the group is heading. I asked Bob if he knew anyone on the task force. He didn't think he did, but I mentioned someone who I think is a member, and Bob said he does know that individual very well. He's going to check and get back to me.

I never knew this before but, in the article linked to above, it seems that the Key West Chamber of Commerce already has a plan, something called Key West Vision 2020. I was curious about what that plan might be, so I did a quick search in Google. Nothing! Not mentioned any where. What's up with that? Now I'm curious. I see I have more research to do. Just what I need -- another task.

I asked Bob, too, if the activities of the Drug Task Force were having any effect on the level of street trafficking in the Village. He hasn't noticed any substantial change of street activity in general. Bahama Village residents tend to use the streets as an extension of their homes and yards. They "perambulate", stopping to talk with friends and neighbors on their porches. Dominoes games play out on or near a sidewalk, permitting kibitzers to stand and watch.

The increased presence and activity of the police is a result of citizen complaints to the city. Bob thinks that its primarily the white residents complaining. I don't know any exact numbers or percentages, but Bahama Village is still perceived as the "black" neighborhood, as it was in history. It's my impression that it its also the Hispanic neighborhood, with many Spanish-speaking residents, black and not black.

There's a new (interim?) Chief of Police, Bill Fortune, who retired as Captain from a career in the department. "Buzz" Dillon, the prior Chief was cashiered by the City Manager a few weeks ago, six months before his contract was to be brought up for renewal. I just went to the Key West PD web page, and it hasn't been updated yet to reflect the change-over.

We talked about other things -- principally the still-pending "bimbo eruption" facing John Kerry, the story that refuses to speak its name in the mainstream press, even though its being reported aggressively at the Drudge site, and being picked up by the international press.

Sorry about the long time between posts here. We bought a new (well, almost new) Apple iBook two weeks ago. I've been getting it set up and transferring files from our older Macs so we can get those sold soon. I'm pretty much good to go now, so you ought to be hearing from me more often and more regularly.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

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