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Topic: Invading Fisher Island, And leaving from jimbo's!< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: Nov. 16 2007,15:21

From Jimbo's - an Invasion of Fisher Island!

Quote
An armada of decorated boats will carry hundreds on Saturday November 17, to the sheltered and until now thought to be off-limits beaches of Fisher Island, named the nation's most expensive zip code by Forbes and labeled "Fantasy Island" by the New York Times, to protest discriminatory and abusive treatment of the workers that clean, maintain, and protect the island. Go to OneMiamiNow.org for more information about the island.

Participants will meet at Jimbo's, the iconic smoked fish and boat dock on Virginia Key at noon. The first wave of boats will leave Jimbo's at 1:00 p..

In a letter to Joseph Kay, president of Fisher Island Holdings, LLC, the company that runs the island, SEIU notified the island of the guaranteed public access to the Fisher Island beach according to the Florida Constitution and Covenant 12 of the Second Substituted Declaration of Restrictive Covenants Governing Development of Fisher Island. The covenant also states that the public shall have access to this beach by means of a "public easement pathway" leading "from the ferry boat landing" to the beach. SEIU asked the island to allow the boats to dock at the Fisher Island Marina and to provide a public pathway to the beach. If not allowed to dock, participants plan on swimming from their boats to shore.


Amazing!  As a long time proponent of public access, I and my feller yakkers owe it to everyone to join this accessible and worthwhile event.

Be there!


:capn:


Edited by Capn Jimbo on Nov. 16 2007,18:44

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Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: Nov. 17 2007,06:08

Directions:

Those of you who live in Miami probably know the directions, so I'll give em from Ft. Lauderdale.

1.  South on I95, pass downtown Miami, near the southern end of I95.

2.  Stick to the right lanes, exit Key Biscayne/Rickenbacker Causeway.  $1.50 toll.

3.  After the toll gates it's about 1.3 miles (over the first big bridge), you'll take a left (north) - think it's called Arthur Lamb Rd (?), this is Virginia Key.

4.  Go almost to the end to Jimbo's - a famous run down bar and grill - the launch is on the south side of the bar.

I suggest you get there round noon as there will be quite a few people making this maiden voyage to Fisher.  Many boats will be decorated and this will be a memorable event.

Will be some great fishing in the area, some nice flats and channels.  Depending on the tide, I am told there are some rocky shoals around Fisher and you will be crossing a boat channel (so what else is new).  Can get some rough chop there but the rest of the ride should be pretty smooth.

There will be plenty of boat traffic in places so do have your whistles and the usual safety equipment.  Wear a PFD of course.  And be prepared to catch some nice cuda, etc.

I note the armada is scheduled to leave at 1:00 pm so I plan to get there around noon.  YMMV.  Fisher Island is directly to the north across a boat channel, a very short paddle - if you join the armada you'll have no problem finding it.  I have no idea where the beach is, but I assume that will become apparent.




:capn:


Edited by Capn Jimbo on Nov. 17 2007,06:15

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Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: Nov. 18 2007,07:52

Some interesting news tidbits...

Quote
Named the richest ZIP code in the nation by Forbes magazine and profiled this past June in The New York Times Magazine as "Fantasy Island," Fisher Island is known for its extravagance --- including bird-walkers, separate million-dollar condominiums for pets, lush surroundings, and imported sand.

Despite being the wealthiest ZIP code in the nation, the service workers who tend the island make as little as $8.60 an hour, and never know if they will be offered enough hours a week to pay their rent and other bills. Other cities with similar luxury condominiums that cater to the wealthiest Americans pay the workers who clean and maintain their buildings considerably higher wages. In San Francisco and New York City, housekeepers make more than $16 an hour and have fully paid health nsurance and standardized hours.


Turns out the Armada to Fisher had two goals: first, to bring attention to the plight of the underpaid, underutilized service employees on the Isand and second, to open up the beaches to public access.  To the point:

"Because they are so isolated, Fisher Island residents think they can wall themselves off from the poverty they create," said SEIU 11 Political Director Hiram Ruiz, "We set out to make a point, that there should be only one Miami, not one Miami for the wealthy and another for the rest of us. Now, however, it has mushroomed into something much bigger: Can the very rich write their own laws, roll over public officials and bar Floridians and tourists from accessing our beautiful -- and public -- beaches?"

Right on.

Trip Report

Sue Sea and I arrived at Virgina Key somewhat late due to I95 construction and heavy traffic to the races in Homestead.  (Tip: you can take I395 to the beach, exit to the right on US1, travel through downtown and then easily hop on the Rickenbacker off US1).

Arriving about 12:30 we found Jimbo's parking inundated with cars filled with union workers and supporters in purple shirts exclaiming "What Would Rosa Parks Do?"  It was noteworthy that the area was thick with police and coast guard boats, police on foot, police on ATV's and police in helicopters.  You'd a thought this was a real invasion.

The crowd was peaceful, with many families - balloons, flags, headbands, kids at play with pool noodles, dogs - not to mention the usual Jimbo's crowd (more anon).  The organizers were busy organizing the fleet of perhaps six boats, life jackets, wrist bands, etc.  We walked about taking in the lively scene and debated how to launch, finally deciding to continue down the road to the end where there is a great isolated beach launch and free parking.

We finally launched around 1:00 or so to find some pretty brisk winds and waves from the east.  Fished the flats outside Virgina and had our first look at Fisher.   Sue Sea tired of the wave bashing we were experiencing so we entered the large open lagoons adjoining Jimbo's and I fished the mangroves.  We kept our distance from the fleet and police.  

Finally the exodus to Fisher began with all the boats in the fleet sporting American and union flags and purple banners exclaiming "Separate is Not Equal".  Several of the boats were playing inspirational, patriotic and victorious orchestral music.  Quite moving.  The string of boats were closedly monitored and accompanied by police and coast guard boats - whether this was in conjunction with the event or not was never clear. The line of boats crossed directly north to Fisher, then east along its shores out past the jetty then back in to the east facing beaches (not visible from Virginia).

Because the conditions were rough and we did not wish to interfere with the landing, we chose to stay in protected waters and continue exploring the area.

Elements of the fleet returned to take more participants to the Island beaches.  The event was covered by at least three networks and the BBS, we saw coverage on Channel 10 where we learned that the Island had apparently refused dock access and forced the participants to swim to shore which they did.  Another moving sight.

After several hours the fleet and participants returned without incident, and the party began.  As it so happened there were several things going on at Jimbo's that day.  A model shoot and a local group called "Waiting for the Bridge" - an awesome cajun rock group of grizzled rock veterans sitting back in chairs and jamming.  Not to mention the Jimbo's regulars.

Jimbo's is truly an anachonism and is really like a day with Ken Kesey and his Magic Bus.  People wandering around, beers in hand.  Old guys rolling bocci ball.  An entourage featuring a tall model, photographer and grips.  Homeless residents.  Painted buses and abandoned vehicles, wooden shanties, picnic tables, docks. Kids play fighting with pool noodles.  Dogs jumping on tables.  And Jimbo's shack with iced bins filled with $2 domestic and $3 imported beers - and Jimbo's famous smoked fish (sea bass, dolphin and wahoo at $5 for a nice slab).

It's California meets Key West in Miami in the 60's.

All in all it was a great time and we were glad to support this effort and enjoy some laid back fun at Jimbo's.  My fault: I didn't hear about this til the night before, sent out 400 emails, but it was too late in the game.  Heard back from some old friends and also from Dennis Spike (one of the modern father of kayakfishing) of Coastal Kayak Fishing in northern California.

The beaches are now open... congratuations to SEIU and their efforts for working people and the public...



:capn:

Link to Jimbo's Place on Virginia Key.  Visit this, ya won't believe it...


Edited by Capn Jimbo on Nov. 19 2007,04:50

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Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: Nov. 18 2007,09:06

From the Miami Herald:

Quote
BY NICHOLAS SPANGLER

For over a year the Service Employees International Union has been trying to organize the 360 housekeepers, groundskeepers and security guards of Fisher Island, a private community so exclusive you can only get to it by yacht, helicopter or private ferry.

The Fisher Island Community Association (FICA), responsible for maintaining the island's common areas, ferries and island security, argues its employees -- who earn an average of $13.81 an hour -- don't want or need a union, and has fought to keep the SEIU out.

The fight has involved arresting protesters off the MacArthur Causeway, until recently the closest they could get; an incident aired on YouTube.com about a stolen SEIU banner; and the Ferarri driver who allegedly called a ferry operator a peasant.

But on Saturday afternoon came the invasion.

Nine vessels took off from Jimbo's, the bar on Virginia Key, and steered as close to the island as the law permits. Thirty swimmers swam to shore, unfurled their protest banners and started a racket.

Chants of Justice Now! and íSi, se puede! echoed off the $5 million condominiums as they never had before. Airhorns exploded, megaphones blurted.

SEIU lawyers had found a way onto the island. Turns out the beach in the most exclusive community in South Florida, composed of sugar-white sand imported from the Bahamas, is public.

Not only that: the covenant developers made with the county years ago seems to guarantee public right of way on a pathway leading from the ferry landing to the beach.

''It feels good to be back,'' said Wisly Jonatas, a security guard who says he was fired earlier this month for violating island policy on the ferry -- walking through the residents' parked cars to get to the employee cabin, an action forbidden because of the danger to the cars' paint jobs.

''They're nice cars,'' said Jonatas, who now works at the Port of Miami. ``Mercedes, Bentleys. But I was tired.''

Yellow plastic tape lined the beach, behind which stood dozens of security guards, Miami-Dade police and residents, some with cameras, some in golf carts designed to look like Bentleys. There were few smiles and no words exchanged.

When the swimmers walked down the beach toward the public access path, security guards kept pace. More waited at the path, which turned out was not much of a path at all: more yellow tape had been laid down on walkways and on the side of Fisher Island Drive, too narrow for two people to walk comfortably.

It did, per the law, extend to the ferry landing. Almost. The tape ended outside the security office. This created a bottleneck of sandy-footed chanting protesters. More residents in fancy golf carts showed up, including one woman wearing a three-quarter length fur coat and a fur hat. She drove a cart painted in tongues of flame, that looked like a dragster.

Mark James, FICA president, emerged from the security office and after discussion allowed the protesters to continue to the ferry landing. The path should have, after all, extended to the ferry terminal area -- James grudgingly admitted as much in a recent letter to the union, which you can read online at MiamiHerald.com -- but there would be no ferry ride back to land. The protesters turned around, walked back out to the beach and swam out to the boats that had brought them. Nobody was arrested.

It seems the covenant provided for a public access path, but no actual access; the path is a path to nowhere.

''That's correct,'' said Jose Cancela, a public relations man recently hired by FICA, later that afternoon.

Cancela didn't feel much had been accomplished. A publicity-hungry union had chosen a fat target, the richest community in the United States, populated by people who are sensitive, if not to the cause of social justice, then at least to the cause of their own quality of life and their privacy; but they'd only mustered 30 protesters, some flown in and some high school students.

''It's obvious that the employees are very happy,'' he said. ``They were fully guaranteed every right [to protest] and they chose not to.''

This was almost true. Housekeeper Marette Casseus came to see the boats off but didn't swim, because she injured her knee in an accident at work in the summer. She'd been making $8.50 at the time. 'Nobody ever called me, even one day, to ask me, `Marette, how do you feel? How are you?' They proved to me they don't care.''


It was fascinating to read the anonymous posts commenting on the article.  First was from "A Real Employee", hmmm...

Quote

The Seiu unoin turn out was very sad. They kept promising over a hundred protesters under 30 came. Among them not a single Fisher Island employee and only one former employee who was know for being extreamly lazy. The rest were obviously high school or college kids. They protested to the occiasional passer by almost unnoticed. ...A huge waste of tax payer money...


The President of the Fisher Island Assoc. piled on:

Quote
The average rate of pay for hourly workers on Fisher Island is $13.81. In addition, the workers have a benefit package worth $4.00 an hour. Workers have 2-4 weeks of vacation, personal days, sick days and a $66.00 a month card to use in vending machines on the island. That's why employees don't show up for these protests; they are happy, much respected, much appreciated and valued associates on the team.


Both of these planted quotes were immediately disputed:

Quote
I was at Jimbo's yesterday for the demonstration. There were over 200 people there! They had to shuttle boatloads of protestors back and forth. Only 30 swimmers swam to shore because in was too risky to ask everyone too. I was one of the dozens of people who cheered on the swimmers.

(and)

I work on Fisher Island, and I can tell you that there is a great deal of support for unionizing by joining the Service Employees International Union. Unfortunately, most workers are afraid to step out and say this publicly because they feel they will be fired. Some workers have been.

A couple of weeks ago, the island said that most workers were making $14.00 to $20.00 dollars an hour. The latest story is that we average $13.81 an hour. I don't know where they get these numbers, and they're surely not explaining them.

Many, many workers are just now getting $10.00 an hour because of the unionization drive. The pay scale has been raised for security guards for the same reason. No one can live in Miami on $10.00 an hour.


I personally can attest to the large turnout.  By installing a "path to nowhere" the Island forced the participants to swim to the beaches in some pretty rough conditions.  That 30 of the hundreds who came risked their lives was impressive.

When you consider the incredible wealth of this formerly private enclave that pays poor people to walk their birds, and that builds million dollar doghouses - $8.60/hr, or even their generous  $1.60 raise to a mindboggling $10.00/hr is insulting and inadequate.

I hope people realize that the same thing, albeit on a less exclusive scale, is happening in the Keys where - due to property being priced out of sight - poor workers have to be bused in to serve the residents.


:capn:


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Posted: Nov. 18 2007,10:22

well it might as well be me ....

The beach is public right? All one need do is go there and land, wait to be escorted off, bring a lawsuit, win it and case closed. I'm sure the ACLU would jump in.

The workers? ... why not kayak into Walmart or McDonalds?? ... you'd have more of an effect.


The residents pay for the island. Just like any luxury establishment is built with employee entrances and frieght elevators so to is Fishhead Island. This is just more politically correct horse **** .. Rosa Parks? ... puhlease.

If you paid 5 million for a condo on a private island with your American Dream, hard earned pesos you'd be having those "filthy peasants" flogged for looking sideways at your Disco...lol.

Never get out of the boat.


(Capn's Note: **** inserted to replace disallowed word, all else left entirely intact)


Edited by Capn Jimbo on Nov. 18 2007,18:59
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Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: Nov. 18 2007,18:28

Just one problem.  It's the law, and last time I looked, everyone must abide by it regardless of their net worth or length of their kayaks.

The State of Florida, ie you and me, have passed laws that insure public access to all beaches up to a reasonable distance from the high tide mark, and further, entities must provide reasonable public access to those beaches.

The State of Florida, ie you and me, have expressed these rights in our Florida Constitution; beach access was ratified by the owners/developers themselves in Covenant 12 of the covenants established regarding the development of Fisher Island.  Based on this...

The State of Florida, ie you and me, permitted the developers to build and develop the Island on public lands and waters on the basis that the Island would comply with the public access so established.

The Fisher Island Association then violated state law and their own agreed covenants, would not allow the workers and/or the public access to the beaches.  They failed to provide reasonable public access, another violation.  

What the workers did was admirable.  They held the Island to the law, to the Constitution of Florida and to the Island's own covenants.  They opened up the beaches of Fisher Island to all of us, ie you and me.  If they also brought widespread attention to their own financial plight and did so in a way that brought all the issues to wide public attention, more power to them.  They refused to be treated as second class citizens who are allowed to work (for desperation wages), but who cannot sit with residents on the ferry to the island, who cannot speak with other workers in their native language, nor are allowed access to the Island's pristine beaches.  Simply...

They refused to sit in the back of the bus.  Bravo!






:capn:
ps it is not trivial that in this widely promoted and peaceful event it was the workers - not the Island Assoc. - who  were following the law.  While you were reluctant to dunk your tootsies over the side of your yak in Flamingo, they risked their own lives swimming into Fisher Island beach in rough conditions for the benefit of all.  Kumbaya? And shame on them for enforcing their, and our rights to public access?  

I think not. What they accomplished was truly American.


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