Key West confusion: It’s a study, not a decision, on channel widening

It’s a study. Not a decision. Fact-finding for future choices.

Come October, Key West voters will decide if they want the city to ask the Army Corps of Engineers to do a feasibility study on the potential widening of the channel that connects Key West to the Atlantic Ocean — and its cruise ships.

Problem is those who know there’s a referendum on the ballot are confused. Confused because for the past couple years, those opposed to any changes in the channel and the Marine Sanctuary in which it lies have positioned the ballot question as “do you want to widen the channel.” Not, do you want to gather enough facts and figures to decide whether widening the channel is a good idea.

Geesh, widening the channel might be a very bad idea. Or a good one. Or a “who knows” one. That’s the problem. We don’t know. And, for the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone could be against finding out.

I’ve been following this referendum debate for almost three years, longer than I’ve actually lived here. The two sides seem to be talking past each other. Opponents framed the discussion as an up-or-down on channel widening. Proponents left their message — let’s get the facts first before deciding — to languish without a caretaker, or worse, lashed out at opponents as being reef huggers with no sense of cash registers.

Last October I sat in a packed Old City Hall and listened for hours to a two-sided presentation to the city commissioners. One side said “ask the Army Corps of Engineers for a study.” The other side said “don’t widen the channel.”

See what I mean about talking past each other? No wonder voters are confused.

I figured the commissioners would agree unanimously to go for the study so they’d be equipped to make future decisions. I mean, who doesn’t want information and facts before making a decision? It’s a study, not a decision, on the economic, environmental and quality of life effects of widening the channel.

Instead, they passed the decision to voters via the coming October referendum. OK, so that’s not a bad idea. Let the voters tell the city to ask for the study.

Since October, referendum opponents have geared up their message: Channel widening bad. Referendum supporters dithered. So — and full disclosure coming — I made a proposal to the political action committee supporting the referendum: Let my company, KeyWestWatch Media, do an information advocacy campaign for you. I modeled it off the newspaper editorial board leadership campaigns from my past life.

We’ll call it “A study. Not a decision. Fact-finding for future choices.” I made the official proposal April 17. Don’t know yet if the PAC bought the idea. Either way, I’ll continue to write about the referendum because those future Key West decisions about who we are and what we should become ought to be based in facts.




Key West Family and Friends: Finally a place everyone wants to visit

Ed and I have lived in many places over the years — Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey. We always extend the invitation: Y’all come and visit now, ya’ hear. Everyone says “sure,” though few take us up on the offer. Now that we have a Key West address, we’re keeping a separate calendar just to keep the dates straight. We’ve had a dozen visitors already and we haven’t moved in. Got to love a place like that! (P.S. Still working on the slide show coding; it may hang-up om you.)  [nggallery id=1]



McCormick Foundation recognizes Key West Watch biz plan

Key West Watch was named one of three runners-up in the annual McCormick Foundation New Media Women Entrepreneurs Initiative. The program, which awards grants to start-up companies owned by women, this week recognized four winners and three runners-up from a field of 227 applications.

Being a runner-up on this list is a very big deal. Competition for the grant program is fierce. To make it to that final round is pretty darn sweet. I’ve worked on the Key West business plan since 2007, when it was nothing more than a napkin and some scribbles. I’ve believed in it, and to have that plan recognized as one that’s got the legs to make it, is, well, way cool.

The top four projects split $56,000 in grants; we remaining three get bragging rights, and clearly, I am taking advantage.

This puts Key West Watch in amazing company with six other women-owned projects Projects like these demonstrate the diversity, power and effectiveness of women in business. It is a humbling experience to share a list with them. (And, I’ve invited them all to Key West next year for an anniversary celebration.”

Read more about the awards and the winners.

Here’s the list of winners from yesterday’s news release:

The winners are:

  •, an ambitious effort launched by former New York Times editor Jeanne Pinder to do what many thought couldn’t be done: bring transparency to health-care costs by helping consumers compare significant variations in local prices for the same medical procedures.
  • Symbolia, a tablet magazine spearheaded by media strategist Erin Polgreen that will blend investigative journalism with comics and illustration.
  • Carolina Public Press, a non-profit, in-depth, investigative news site for western North Carolina, launched by journalist Angie Newsome.
  • The Seattle Lesbian, a daily news site started by two journalists, Sarah Toce and Charlene Strong, who aspire to roll their initial success with news and traffic to a national network of sites.

Runners-up included:

  • Florida Voices, a digital opinion and commentary project to capture the conversations on state issues.
  • Key West Watch, a web, print and social media initiative to connect off-island Key West homeowners to news and public policy decisions that affect island life.
  • The FilAm, an online magazine for Filipinos in New York.

Know a good ad rep for Key West Watch?

A final Midwest Winter: The view from our deck is beautiful in every season.

More on the ad rep in just a minute…

I bet half of my friends and acquaintances think we’re already in Key West. Wish we were, but we’re spending one more snow-and-wind-chill winter in Rockford, IL, though there’s been (thankfully) precious little of both this season.

We’re winding up two decades of “stuff,” from getting the house sold to disentangling from jobs and projects. I’ve been working on the back-end of the business plans, ensuring Key West Watch has the architecture it needs.

I’m also looking for an advertising/marketing sales rep to join me for the start-up. The successful candidate for this contract position will (1) embrace the possibilities of the web world and its digital offspring and still believe that print works; (2) be a news and information junkie; (3) be able to close the deal; and (4) believe that credibility in news, advertising, marketing and services is the foundation of a profitable operation.

If that be you or someone you know, email your cover letter, resume and contact info ( If you’re the right candidate, you’ll know how to tell the tale.

We’ll make a quick trip to Key West in March, come back here to pack it up — and assuming we get this house sold, we’ll arrive with the moving van this summer. Key West Watch goes soft launch in third quarter and will be live with the arrival of season.

Winding down beta testing

This is the final week for this beta version of Key West Watch. For the next few months, I’m going behind the scene, so to speak, to build the integrated architecture that will support the company. While the WordPress platform and various social media programs can do a lot, they can’t support the entire operation — especially Key West Watch @ Home and the print products.

That means it’s time to build out as the central CMS, and from there I can feed and support mobile, paper and extensive galleries, calendars and news content.

Building the website will be a challenge. I have partnered with ELCInnovations to do the build. First step will be the content map, then the site map — and then build and integrate the subscription-based Key West Watch @ Home service that will be the primary revenue driver.

Knowing how these things work, that architecture build will take three to six months and I’ll be working on “evergreen” content during that time. And, I’ll complete the marketing and revenue plans.

Three things I’ve learned over 40 years in the information business: Without strong, updated, important and useful content, you die; (2) without an exceptional, consistent print-web-broadcast marketing strategy, you never get born; and (3) without revenue you don’t live long.

Assuming all comes together, then we should launch the company in the late summer or early fall of 2012.

I’ll post occasionally just to keep my hand in, so check back on my progress. And, thanks to my those who are my “charter members.” Your support is important.

Pin It on Pinterest