Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Panhandling As Riposte

Somebody other than me saw this proposal in the paper. I saw this anonymous comment in the Key West Citizen and the wheels in my head started turning. "Right across from the beautiful green property..."

Sure enough the hotel is lovely, an oasis barely a block from Duval Street, with a piano, a self-service wine bar a swimming pool surrounded by the lush greenery that makes Key West a tropical dreamer's stereotype...

And for years the neighbor across the street was the older city hall and cranky broken down fire station. The building leaked badly in Hurricane Wilma and the mold rendered the building outdated for civilian use.

The firefighters at the Simonton Street end of the building toughed it out for a few more years...a decade actually. Plans were drawn up to ... have a protracted public debate about what to do here. Build a new city hall? A multi-story parking lot? A new fire station? It was anybody's guess and everybody had a guess to throw in the pot.

The owner of the hotel had a loud opinion and boy she was pissed. She started a campaign to defend her hotel against the possibility of dust, construction crews, road closures, all part of a city plot to drive away customers from a small local business etc...etc... The nuclear threat from North Korea was as nothing compared to the construction threat on this block of Angela Street.

In the event the Mayor spoke quietly and carried a large stick and the city fell in line behind his idea to put city hall on White Street and build a proper fire station with a refreshed parking lot. And so it came to pass. Nice eh? And yes there was some construction work but I don't think it was unbearable for neighbors. Maybe it was, who can say, it's all done and peaceful now. The dust, actual and metaphorical has settled.

So why on earth would the city even remotely consider putting a panhandling zone here? No one knows, no one has a clue. Me? I don't know but in life I do know payback is a bitch. And the City of Key West has bigger nuclear warheads than any pissed off local business.

The lesson here is one any incomer to "The Island" would do well to take to heart... It doesn't matter how long you've lived here or who you think you know. You aren't local enough or important enough to take on the real power structure in town. Come on down, be happy and don't rock the boat. I mean who wants these guys, currently defacing city property, for neighbors?

Sure you have First Amendment rights in the Conch Republic but the people in charge have a first amendment bigger and longer than yours.