Sunday Beaches Recalled

IMG_2048January 28, one month past Christmas, Hannukah, New Years. It’s been cold here, even in Florida, and we year-rounders revel in wrapping ourselves up in wool and down. We open the windows. But today the sun shines, a strong breeze blows, and it’s back in the 70s.

Beach walks have been good but challenging, as getting down to the actual beach from our walk-over stairs means covering about a four-foot drop from our last step. Those nor’westers have repaved the sand flat and redistributed the dunes, thus the actual walking, strolling, wading is quite nice.  The sun warms me as the wind tugs at my hat.

A small plane makes a hard turn just above me, working the engine just a little harder. The sound sends me directly to Dodgertown, spring training, blue and white uniforms everywhere. Bats cracking, balls thwacking into mitts, children hanging over the stadium railings to talk to players who graciously give a moment of joy to a small fan.

I snap back to the beach just as suddenly, staring again at the curling waves and sea foam at my feet. How delightful that feels, to have your brain grab your soul and fling it instantly into a memory so pure and complete. Dodgertown itself, which is near to our small airport, might not be such a good trigger as that airplane was, for sounds, like aromas, seem to occupy a more vibrant well of memory than algebra or a poem recited in 5th grade.

Walking along the solid flat sand, the many stranded bubbles of man-o-war sparkle intensely, blue, purple, bright pink embroidered balloons. They edge the high-tide line like ocean flowers. The wind has whipped the sea foam into drifts now, some gliding like bergs in the flat waves, some blowing like sage brush and erasing themselves against the sand.

I could be two years old. Or fifteen. Or fifty. But what I am is home.

 

Hospitals for Profit

WARNING: There is no humor in Patient Dumping, but please read on.

In spite of my desire to post amusing, humorous stories, I have been prompted to take a more serious vein once again.  I’d apologize, but I’m trying hard to give that up.

My brother Jeff Larkin lived in Houston. He had his own road, and he chose it himself, for the most part. It wasn’t a life I would have chosen, as a summary, since it included drugs, jail, and losing contact with a daughter he loved. So my Mom and I were relieved in January of 2009 when, after living in a friend’s garage for several months, he was given a Section 8 housing apartment.

Jeff’s health by this time was in serious decline, although we didn’t realize the degree of “serious” until he admitted he had liver problems. Cancer.  He subsequently told Mom that he had COPD, as well, and she had been sending him her own prescription inhalers until his Medicaid could be reinstated.

In May my Mother called me to encourage my help. I did not, and had not, spoken regularly to Jeff since I was in college. His addictions, and his subsequent scams to get money, were too much for me to take. Regular pretenses of getting help were always a sham, and I opted for tough love, something that is much more difficult for mothers to do, I should add.

So this time Mom was calling, and she knew I’d be a hard sell. Her admission that she couldn’t get Jeff to answer his phone was pretty alarming. His lifeline to home was very extraordinarily important to him. So I agreed to call and she game me the new number.

He didn’t answer my call, either, so I started leaving a message on his machine. After a minute, he picked up before I could finish recording! He sounded awful. Ghastly, to be sure. Gasping and wheezing, it was clear he could barely speak. He said he couldn’t talk [obvious] but he’d call me back. Relieved he was there, I said okay but said for him to listen for just a second. My fear for him was welling up, and I didn’t want to break the telephone link.  I told him Mom was worried, WE were worried, that Mom had updated me on his condition.  Pretty scary stuff, I said, but after hearing him talk I told him he really needed to call 9-1-1. Now. He needed to do it now. If he couldn’t breathe, he needed help immediately. I heard his labored breath, so I knew he’d heard me, so I told him I loved him and we’d talk as soon as he could manage. Hanging up was hell.

He took my advice, for maybe the second time in his life. The first was when we were babies and I told him not to stick his finger in the electric socket after he’d managed to unscrew the faceplate. He didn’t, but he got me to do it. Anyway, I reported back to my Mom and I didn’t hear anything else that day. We got online to figure out how to either get him to Florida here with us, or get to him in Texas.

The next news was that he’d passed away.

Mom said she’d gotten a call that day I’d spoken to Jeff, not from him but from Hermann Memorial Hospital in Houston. Jeff was at the ER, but they wouldn’t admit him without money up front, so they’d called her. She’d quickly given them her credit card over the phone. That was on a Monday. She waited to hear more, but nothing from the hospital. We tried to be patient, since we knew he couldn’t talk himself, and the hospital said they couldn’t confirm his admission without my mother being listed as his health surrogate. They could take her money, sure, but then they cut her off.

So she finally, on Wednesday, had tracked down one of his friends, who confirmed that Jeff was back at his apartment! Whoa, we thought, he must’ve gotten a helluva lot better pretty fast. But Jeff still didn’t answer his phone. So being a tiger mom at this point, Mom tracked down the apartment manager who kindly reported he was in his apartment but couldn’t talk on the phone, he had a friend taking care of him. Relieved people were looking after him, Mom let Thursday pass. But her call to the apartment manager on Friday revealed the truth. Jeff had passed away the night before, alone and unattended. He quite obviously had had no business leaving the hospital.

I made the trip to Houston as quickly as I could. Mom couldn’t leave my invalid father, although she really did want to come along. That entire episode is worthy of an entirely separate post for another time. Part of that discovery, however, was that Jeff’s friend said that Jeff had never been admitted to the hospital. Never. After they’d taken Mom’s payment, they’d quickly put him out to the bus stop, without a wheelchair [he couldn’t breathe much less walk] or shoes or any means to get home. Somehow someone had contacted his friend, who’d driven him home. This entire time we’d thought he was getting medical care, he was a his apartment slowly succumbing to cancer and emphysema.

Outraged, I began at first inquiring, then pestering, then uttering dire legal threats at the managers of the ER, hospital, and finally the Better Business Bureau. Since there was no fixing a death, the BBB made them return my mother’s money. Jeff had his Medicaid almost approved, and indeed the hospital had been paid for his past visits as well as the last one in the ER.

My hands are still shaking with rage and impotence that I couldn’t get there, couldn’t know how his life was ending. That he was left on the curb to the whims of chance.

If you’ve not see the Washington Post story today, January 11, 2018, about a Maryland hospital doing exactly the same thing to an indigent woman, please read this:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/man-captures-video-of-patient-dumping-outside-baltimore-hospital/

MERRY, INDEED!!!

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS…

SO! It’s been a few years, more than a few really, since I’ve put up a Christmas tree, decorated the house, etc. A short summary of barriers to my personal cheer.

2004: Two destructive hurricanes within three weeks of each other in September/October. Even by Christmas we were still cleaning up, and my house had boarded windows, doors while the office was still being rebuilt. We were working out of our kitchens.

Mom had her invalid husband (my Dad) plus her mostly blind mother (my grandmother ) living cheek by surly jowl in her house. Nevertheless, she still made a valiant stab at making merry. I just couldn’t muster the energy, especially since Gloria Estefan had made me persona non grata in my own hometown. Long story, but suffice to say she wanted “cooperation” on building her hotel and me being on the City Council led to a sort of Trump-Comey pas de deux. No cheer in Lynneville.

2005 – 2008: God bless serving your community, the developer kingpins in Florida set upon Vero Beach government in their continuing effort to elect compliant, loyal-to-the-$$$ candidates. They were successful! So I spent these years pouring money and energy into legal efforts to clear the refuse they’d dumped in my life.

By 2008 even dear Mom had only feeble interest in holiday cheer. Unbeknownst to all of us, including her, she was very sick but was focused primarily on her son (my brother) who had some pretty serious health problems himself. We barely waved a weak pine bough at Christmas and prayed for a better year to come.

2009: Jeff dies, Mom dies, Wells Fargo comes after my house in spite of my being paid up on mortgage payments. Merely remaining vertical was an effort.

2010 – 2014: Caretaking my father who is moved from one senior living facility to the next because he 1) won’t stop drinking to excess & making angry scenes at meals, and 2) won’t stop physically molesting his female caretakers. Yay. He blames me, as one would do. None of my extended family will speak to me, as they believe I’m abusing my father. Because we can’t sell his house, and because he mindlessly spends all his money, I’m using my own funds to pay for his care, but how do you explain that to anyone? Quite simply, you don’t.

2015 & 2016: Exhausted.

This year, determined, I pull out Mom’s Christmas boxes along with my lights, tree and bows. I worry that the cat will bat the delicate antique, fragile glass ornaments so lay the most treasured beneath the tree. On Christmas morning, I plug in the tree lights. No go. I switch sockets. Nope. Determined, I make hot cocoa with marshmallows and try to change the dead string of lights. A crimson and gold drum drops, bounces and crashes into the white and turquoise fake-snow covered antique ornament, hitting squarely on it’s “Merry Christmas” script.

You know what I do? I laugh. Out loud and kind of crazy, but really, it’s just funny.

Life always throws shit everywhere, but I’m here. I’m alive, I’m luckier than 99% of people here on earth, I have friends, most of my cousins have forgiven me, and my cat loves me.

So Peace, Love and Hope to everyone. We hold each other’s hearts, we treasure the good, and the other will move past. 🎄❤️🎶🎶🎶🎶❤️🎄😘

Found this from 18 years ago!! My, how time flies.

http://www.verobeachmagazine.com/Vero-Beach-Magazine/November-1998/The-Spy-Who-Came-In-From-The-Cold/

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

BY JOHN PARKYN

Today, Lynne Larkin fights for her clients in a Vero court. But not long ago, she battled a more lethal foe on dark streets behind the Iron Curtain.

There are more than 150 lawyers in Vero Beach, but few have led a life as enthralling as a tall, blonde attorney named Lynne Larkin. Larkin specializes in litigation involving zoning and development issues,  but the case she remembers best is her first one, when she wasn’t a lawyer at all. This was in 1993, when a number of women working for the Central Intelligence Agency charged that the CIA was discriminating against its female employees.

For 10 years Larkin herself had been a CIA officer responsible for recruiting and briefing spies and says she faced a few gender problems of her own.

Read the entire article in the November 1998 issue

This article appears in the November 1998 issue of Vero Beach Magazine

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PS THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY BRUCE SCHOENFELD. 💕

Small towns fighting Big Money

Civic Association calls for referendum on partial sale

Editor’s note: In a letter addressed to the Vero Beach City Council, the Civic Association of Indian River County last week raised questions about the proposed sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customer base to Florida Power & Light.

Further, the group urged the Council to hold a referendum before going forward with the deal. While the voters of Vero Beach were asked in 2013 to weigh in or a sale of the full system, they have not been given a say in the carving up of the system at the request of the Shores. 

All of the offered $30 million sale price would need to remain in the electric utility for debt service and capital projects, and could not be used to buffer resulting tax increases or likely hikes in electric rates. During the recent municipal election, a political action committee funded by FPL and Shores residents placed advertising, funded robo calls and mailed post cards promising the sale proceeds would be a windfall to the people of Vero Beach.

The Shores-FPL funded PAC, which supported candidates Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, went so far as to propose that from the proposed sale every resident of Vero Beach could receive a check for some $1,900. 

Civic Association of Indian River County, Inc.

Dear Council:

The Board of Directors of the Civic Association of Indian River County wishes to voice strongly its urgent recommendation to delay the question of selling a portion of the City’s electric utility. This is a monumental step to take, especially in light of the many experts, both financial and legal, who have counseled against putting the City and its taxpayers at risk by such action.

This action solely benefits Indian River Shores, and even that is in question. Making the City utility smaller, giving away customer base, at a price well below its assessed value, is not something on which the citizens of Vero Beach have spoken. This act has the likely potential to increase liability for future contractual duties, to decrease permanently the City’s income without fair compensation, and to set a precedent that will be impossible to overcome.

This issue has not been addressed directly by the voters, and a fair and clear referendum on this matter has not been held, which should have been set in order that the taxpayers may determine their own future. Three persons, elected by a slight majority, should not be allowed to have such a momentous decision taken on their own personal account.

While we are aware that Indian River Shores has supported three council members quite heavily, that does not in any way relieve your duty to protect the vital interests of the citizens of Vero Beach.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Lynne A. Larkin, President/Treasurer

Ken Daige, Director

Caroline Ginn, President Emeritus

Sandra Bowden, Former Mayor

Thomas P. White, Former Mayor

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Vero Beach Tangles with Neighbor. Who Pays?

Information filters force information flyers

GUEST COMMENTARY

LYNNE LARKIN

Lynne Larkin

The Town of Indian River Shores seems to be getting a “pass” from most of the local media.  Whatever they decide to do, whether it’s to sue Vero Beach over alleged mismanagement of their utility [never mind there is no cause of action for being stuck in contracts which have been determined to be legally binding and enforceable], or when they hold conversations and meetings outside the sunshine, Scripps and the beach weekly seem to think it’s just dandy.

Demonize the City, praise the Shores.  Who would think that the FPL/Brunjes family runs the PJ, or that the money fueling the “SELL” crowd’s traveling road show also helped start the beach weekly?  Would you have guessed from the attack-dog style used by both while they spin the City as an evil empire?  These media outlets filter your news to aid their monied backers.

Readers may not know, then, that the Shores has itself been called into court by unhappy residents.  Private citizens, outraged by the sneaky, back-door handout to developers, have asserted an appeal of the Shores re-zoning of residential land into a commercial strip mall on A-1-A.

If you missed this story, it’s not surprising.  During the dull summer months, the Shores council voted to allow new zoning, less parking, and higher-impact uses for land that is just south of the Village Shops.  Sure, right next to another commercial development that is not fully occupied, they found a “need” to re-zone residential land so their friends from Johns Island could get preferential treatment.

Neighbors without many personal connections to their alleged government representatives voiced opposition loudly and strongly.  For a town of this size, the number of people responding in outrage was quite high.  It continues to grow.  (They will be having their second public information meeting on February 8, 2015, in the Shores Community Center, 4 to 6 p.m., website https://irshores.wordpress.com)

Let’s all remind ourselves that every time season arrives, we see how badly planned the development of the barrier island has been.  High-density communities, aimed at making developers rich, have made it impossible to pull out onto A-1-A without a curse or two to the zoning gods.  Lines at stop lights back up for almost a mile on a regular basis, the worst of it being near any commercial center where ingress and egress of cars is nightmarish.  It was foreseeable, and it was stupid. Greed is not good, at least not for those of us who make this our home.

So that’s the news.  There are people who care.  There are people willing to fight to keep things honest.  There are your neighbors, spending money on lawsuits and informative mailers, who need your support.  You heard it here.

Vero Beach Faces Scary Future

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(Photo: SAM WOLFE/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS FILE PHOTO)

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Every year at this time we vote. Most years there isn’t a national sideshow to our local elections, as is now the case. City of Vero Beach voters must make decisions on their governance each fall. This year, if it’s convenient, you can also choose a president.

For the past several years (it seems eons) the city has been targeted for abuse by many who claim to be much more knowledgeable about contracts, utilities and finances than those whose actual job it is to run our utilities. This is in spite of the baskets of proof to the contrary. Those people should be disabused (or abused, if that’s what it takes) of that notion by now. Anyone still claiming, after all the sturm und drang from 2004 until today, that it’s a “simple” matter, that any council member has wanted higher electric rates than necessary, needs an intervention. Or exorcism.

Just to review: 1) The contracts signed by past councils with the Florida Municipal Power Agency in the 1980s and 1990s cannot legally be broken. They’ve been challenged in court, the city has tried to sell them and the city has tried to alter them to no avail.

2) Selling our system at a loss, even if it was possible, will cost us much more in future years than we could ever save in lowered rates. We’d be gambling the future of the city for a few pennies saved today.

3) The actual difference in rates is often misrepresented as being 30 percent when it has been close to 10 percent for several years, and is still closing.

It is baffling, to the point of actual chest pains, how accountant Glenn Heran and others & Co. can justify claiming anyone has failed to complete the impossible, as he did in a recent guest column, or that any of his bogus-to-the-point-of-parody misstatements are credible. Not unlike those running for president, he has no concrete solutions for the problems we face! Platitudes and hot-air, half-baked nonsense. It is not helpful.

If it were possible to sell, it would have been done during the several years that Heran’s puppet council was in place. They had the intent, they had the votes. They got bupkis! Could there be any more proof? And yet, today, they want city voters to put more of their county-supported straw men in office. You can be sure that continuing to beat that dead horse will not do any good.

Can we ever emphasize enough that this is a red herring? Fishy to the smell, taste and sight.

Our lovely area is always under siege by those wishing to profit even more from our popularity as a jewel among Florida’s rhinestone cities. We don’t wear tiaras and furs to Publix (generally), but our residents, old and new, sparkle just the same.

We live in a place tailored to beauty, brushed with live-oak green and ocean blue, filled with people who value our unique coast of treasures, not cinder blocks. Everyone wants Neiman Marcus at Walmart prices. We’ve always tried to hit a balance that’s classy but affordable.

Therefore, when the misinformation kings tell you the grass is purple, the falling sky is brown, and you’re being cheated by the city of Vero Beach, stop. Take a look outside. Get another opinion. We are not fools. At least we try not to be so.

If we vote for three people who are really all about Vero Beach, who have shown the sense to look beyond short-term pennies to see long-term viability, and some of whom are even endorsed by this newspaper for those reasons, we should remain a diamond among rocks.

Lynne Larkin is a local attorney and former member of the Vero Beach City Council.

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I MUST SPEAK

WHY has it taken me so long to start a blog?

I’m not certain.

But here I am doing what I like best. Thinking. Talking. Writing. If you’re here with me, hello and thanks for coming by.

I used to have a column in the local newspaper, and I thought it was fun. My opinions on local stuff, attempts at humor, you know. But politics has pushed me to the sidelines, at least in newsprint media. So out-of-control rebel that I am, I’m fighting-writing back.

http://program.lunchbox.pbs.org/program/eric-idles-entire-universe/  It will take a bit of doing to get familiar with the tools, but here we go. I stuck an ad in for Eric Idle’s show by accident, but that seems appropriate, too.