Subject: letter to editor
Date: March 10, 2021 at 3:56:07 PM EST

Dear Editor
I wanted to write a public letter to bring attention to my concerns for the true cost of “Affordable Housing”, but I have written letters to the editor in the past, submitted to the Key West Citizen local newspaper, which never were printed.
Last year, the newly formed Stock Island Association (SIA), residents of Stock Island, formed together to fight to keep public the very last public waterfront property in Stock Island on Laurel Ave, which was about to be given to Wreckers Cay developers. There was a BOCC meeting coming up, and we wanted the public to know what was going on.
There were nine SIA members who wrote letters to the editor, yet none of those nine letters were printed in the Key West Citizen. The BOCC meeting took place, and we were defeated.
Not having our letters printed, for the public to learn about the waterfront give away and 280 apartment units to be built in a heavily congested area, was crucial.
SIA was trying to raise money for legal defense, public attention, and public support as we were organized to fight this battle, however, without our letters printed, we were all alone in our fight
I write to express my concerns of being silenced and our county politics manipulated.
It is important to have an honest local newspaper to include ALL Letters to the Editor.
If this privately owned newspaper cannot include all citizens information, then the county should fund its own printed public newspaper to give information to all citizens.
So, instead of me writing a letter to the editor and submitting it to the Key West Citizen with a good chance it would not be printed, I decided to start this Facebook page:
Letters to the Editor (of the Florida Keys).
I hope it becomes popular, read by many so that those of us who have been silenced will be silenced no more.
Power to the People
Diane Beruldsen
Stock Island

The filibuster in the US Senate is a legislative and political procedure designed to delay &/or prevent legislation from receiving a vote. Today, only a vote by 60% of (or 60) Senators (a super majority) can stop a filibuster. Although its origins go back to ancient Rome, it was only in recent times in the US Senate that the filibuster has been weaponized as a partisan tool to routinely obstruct any legislation that might reflect favorably on the opposing political party.

Traditionalists and idealists argue that the “real problem” is extreme partisanship and animosity, and eliminating or modifying the filibuster so senators in the minority can’t talk as long as they want, would only exacerbate the problem.

On the other hand, realists point out though that may be true, today in America it would be suicidal for a party put in power in the House, Senate and Presidency, by the people, to solve a series of crises, NOT to kill or modify the filibuster. It would be a betrayal of trust and render all promises to solve problems meaningless. Bipartisanship can also mean agreement and support from a majority of all Americans, and a majority of both Democrats and Republicans.

The framers of our Constitution believed in a simple majority to conduct its business, and to fail to correct this procedural roadblock would be unilateral disarmament and do great harm to our nation.

By Laurie Swanson, Chair, Mid-Keys Democrats
mid-keys@keysdems.com

This gentleman voted for Biden and 10 Democrats on Friday because we had a sign rally on Thursday. While my fellow Marathon Democrats were basking in the honks, toots and beeps of the energized traffic on Overseas Highway, I was helping him find his license. He had stopped to ask if he could vote with a voter’s registration and license that said he lived in Naples, Florida. I told him that I thought we could make it happen, and we did.

Now I am no stranger to accents, having lived in the Middle East for nearly 30 years, but his Haitian Creole almost outdid my comprehension. This morning we met at the DMV (which has moved) to pursue changes to his address on his driver’s license. About three hours later, after many trips to his aged beige Toyota Camry where he carries his whole life in little pieces of paper stuffed into every nook and cranny, we emerged with a new, updated, and renewed license in hand.

Off to 100th Street and the Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE) to finish off the voter registration. Although the DMV offered to register him to vote, I thought it wiser to go directly to the SOE office next to the Early Vote location to complete our mission. Kathy worked her magic on the computer and in no time at all my new friend was making his way into the poll room to vote.

While he was voting, I straightened our Democrat signs and retrieved a Biden Harris that had rudely been removed to make way for multiple Trump signs. I re-rooted Biden directly in front of a Trump sign.

I then planted myself on the steps and waited for my friend to emerge from voting. He came down the stairs smiling under his mask and told me that he voted for 10 Democrats and Biden. We got the Deputy to snap our picture. I wished him luck. We both drove in our separate directions knowing that our lives will probably never intersect again.

The Florida Keys Democrats offer many kinds of assistance to anyone wanting to vote. Please click here for more information.

by Robert Gold, Technology Director, Florida Keys Democrats
data@keysdems.com

The volunteers of the Monroe County Democratic Executive Committee (Keys Democrats) have been working tirelessly all year in support of the best possible outcome on November 3rd. Our leaders are recruiting and managing volunteers, raising money, assisting candidates, and firing up our voters on a daily basis. My job is about information.

In one of my many jobs as Technology Director, I receive and evaluate masses of new data each day that enable us to make strategic decisions on the basis of facts instead of speculation. From the data we receive (which we’re entitled to by law), we know how many votes have been cast, and by whom. And since we know the party of registration (or no party, as the case may be) for each voter, we consider those data on the basis of the premise that the registered Democrats who have voted have voted for Biden, and that the registered Republicans who have voted have voted for Trump. But of course, that premise is false.

What is true is that not all Democrats who have voted did so for Biden, and not all Republicans who have voted did so for Trump. Another false premise is that those registered with no party affiliation (NPAs) are undecided or unsure. Almost all NPAs who vote will vote for either Biden or Trump. But we have scant basis for predicting the rate of party defections or NPA support for either candidate. 

Democrats are at a disadvantage in Monroe because there are over 4,600 more registered Republicans than Democrats. Mitigating that (for now) is the fact that turnout among registered Democrats stands today (as of October 23rd) at 55%, compared with 43% for Republicans, and only 31% for among the NPA+ segment. That turnout edge will diminish as we approach Election Day, and may even be entirely erased.

Florida is among the closest tipping point states, and if Trump loses Florida, he has almost no chance to retain the White House. Although it would be satisfying and dramatic for Joe Biden to win an outright majority in Monroe County, the outcome in Monroe is mostly symbolic. What really matters for us is our effect on the state-wide tally. And while we’re a small county in a big state, the painful memory of Bush v. Gore in 2000 reminds us that every single Florida vote matters, a lot. Especially yours.   

In 2008, Obama garnered 51.65% of Monroe votes cast, compared with 46.79% for McCain. In 2012, Obama got 49.54% of votes in Monroe, compared with 49.13% for Romney (only a 158 vote difference, a statistical tie). And in 2016, Trump got 50.97% vs. 44.14% for Clinton. The only thing really certain about Monroe outcomes is that the past is not useful in predicting the present. 

High turnout this year is being driven in both directions by Trump. Passionate support and passionate contempt for the President is bringing folks out to vote at a prospectively record-setting rate. The surge that we’re seeing in Monroe early voting by Republicans is unsurprising, considering voting patterns in the August primary. Our edge in vote by mail (VBM) ballot returns and the offsetting Republican edge in early voting are timing issues only; votes count exactly the same regardless of whether cast by mail, early, or on election day.

The final tallies in Monroe will boil down to three unpredictable factors: The rate at which registered Republicans who vote aren’t voting for Trump, the rates at which NPAs turn out to vote and favor Biden, and the rates at which Biden and Trump voters turn out on election day. 

We’ve already surpassed 70% of Democratic VBM ballots returned. We’ve made tens of thousands of carefully targeted phone calls to encourage voting by mail, returning vote by mail ballots, increased turnout among NPAs, and even to promote GOP defections. We’ve mailed over ten thousand hand-addressed postcards and letters. We’re following up with voters whose VBM ballots were delayed, unsigned, or undelivered, we’re helping voters deliver their VBM ballots, and we’re driving voters to early and Election Day voting. We’ve sent tens of thousands of texts, garnered tens of thousands of clicks on our paid advertising in social media and on high-traffic web sites, maintained our robust and content-rich Facebook page and web site, and raised the large sums of money needed to pay for all these efforts. We have the largest force of volunteers in Monroe since 2008, and by far, the best organized volunteer force here ever.

While we don’t know with certainty what Monroe’s outcomes will be on November 3rd, we are certain of this: we are doing the very best we can. And for that we are both proud and grateful. 

by Phil Dodderidge, Vice-Chair Florida Keys Democrats

 The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration released an analysis of Republican’s planned cuts to Social Security funding. Under their plan, Social Security would become permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023. Don’t let that happen. Democrats will protect your Social Security.

The Facts

  • The president signed an executive order that suspends the payment of payroll taxes which fund Social Security until the end of the year.

The executive order  halts collection of the 6.2 percent payroll tax imposed on wages for Social Security, starting Sept. 1. After signing the executive order, Trump said several times that he wanted to permanently end payroll taxes.

Aug. 8: “If I’m victorious on November 3rd, I plan to…make permanent cuts to the payroll tax. So, I’m going to make them all permanent.”

Aug. 11: “Payroll tax holiday, that’s a big, and what we’re doing is sometime after the election, if we win, we’re going to make that permanent, the payroll tax holiday. The payroll tax will be rescinded.”

Aug. 12: “On the payroll tax, we’ll be terminating the payroll tax. After I hopefully get elected, we’ll be terminating the payroll tax.”

  • On Aug. 19, four senators wrote to the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, Stephen Goss, asking for “your analysis of hypothetical legislation” that would mandate “zero percent” payroll taxes.  Specifically, they wanted to know how soon the Social Security Trust Funds would be depleted if they suddenly stopped receiving any money.
  • On Aug. 24, the Social Security Chief Actuary letter to Senators Van Hollen, Sanders, Wyden, and Schumer concludes:

“We estimate that OASI (Social Security’s Old Age and Survivors Insurance) Trust Fund reserves would become permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023, with no ability to pay OASI benefits thereafter.”

Discussion

The GOP plan to eliminate payroll taxes that fund Social Security to put more money into the pockets of working Americans may sound like a good idea, in theory. However, in reality, it is a horrible proposal for seniors because these taxes, split between employers and employees, fund Social Security and Medicare.

Employers withhold 6.2 percent of earnings of American workers and contribute another 6.2 percent of an employee’s wages to fund Social Security. “Trump’s payroll tax cut plan not only fails to help Americans struggling to get by right now, it would also completely decimate Social Security for the millions of Americans who rely on it,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland and one of the senators who sent the questions to Goss.

The August 2020 GOP and Trump plan to defund Social Security provides proof that Republicans have lied (again) to the American people in their promise(s) to protect Social Security and Medicare.

  • Despite Trump’s State of the Union pledge—“We will always protect your Medi and Medicare/Medicaid, and we will always protect your Social Security. Always.”—it was less than a week before he unveiled a budget proposal that included cuts to Medicare. The previous year’s budget plan, included cuts to both Medicare, Social Security and other programs seniors rely on. When it comes to supporting seniors, Trump and the GOP have a long history of saying one thing and doing the opposite.
  • Trump, who in 2016 vowed he would never cut entitlements, and supported by the GOP, is arguing in the Supreme Court to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and the protections for people with pre-existing conditions that come with it. It should be noted that should this happen, 8,300,000 Americans who contracted COVID19 would suddenly have a pre-existing condition and be ineligible for health insurance.

Republicans have a long history of proposing reforms to reduce benefit increases for future retirees. Here, however, Trump and the GOP are threatening to pull the plug on current retirees, with no alternative funding mechanism (sort of like his effort to destroy Obamacare with no substitute).  Trump and his GOP enablers are proving, once again, they are not our seniors’ friends.

Conclusion

If the Democrats win the Presidency, Senate, and continue their majority in the House, such a proposal has ZERO chance of making it through Congress.  The safety of Medicare, Social Security, and our seniors is at stake in this election.

by John Howe

[LETTER TO THE EDITORS OF THE KEY WEST CITIZEN AND THE FREE PRESS – OCTOBER 1, 2020]

A friend in Key West recently told me that she still can’t decide who to vote for in the upcoming presidential election. I suggested that she vote for whoever she thought would do the best job getting COVID-19 under control and the economy back on its feet. I then sent her what I think are the main qualifications for the job:

Respect for scientists & other experts: He will listen to experts, even those he disagrees with; will put together a national plan to beat back the coronavirus; will act to build back the economy both in the short-term (adequate, broad pandemic relief legislation) and long-term (deal with the national debt and climate change); will fully recognize that a healthy environment and widespread public health are the foundation for a healthy economy.

Moral character: He will be able to express genuine respect and empathy for others–unite us, not divide us; and will respect and empower America’s racial, ethnic and religious diversity.

Effective leader: He will recognize that in times of crisis a leader must deliver clear, consistent, honest messages; will keep the best interests of all Americans in mind; value international cooperation and alliances (think: COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution); will have the leadership skills, experience and personal discipline to lead and coordinate massively complex projects.

Trustworthy: He will firmly believe in the fundamental importance of telling the truth; won’t give false hope or make unrealistic promises he can’t keep; will have no personal history of corruption or fraud while working a business or government job; will fully disclose his personal and business finances to avoid conflicts of interest that threaten national security; and he will abide by his oath to honor the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.

In short, I recommend that you vote for the candidate who will help you feel safer, healthier and more financially secure.

So far I haven’t heard back from my friend in Key West, but I’m pretty sure she’ll make the right choice.