1 LiveBloggin' the ICW

Thursday, October 8, 2015

We're SCREWED - Florida Anchoring Meeting

Illegal dinghies behind Karlton's house in Miami Beach
Mike Ahart, Waterway Guide’s news editor, watched the entire anchoring hearing in Tallahassee today, and here's the link to his article - Waterway Guides. For those wanting the real deal, here's the link to the meeting video itself.
Let me summarize this for you - we are in serious trouble in Florida, very serious trouble. First off, let me tell you what boaters’ enemy number one, the infamous Frederick Karlton of Sunset Lake, Miami Beach infamy had to say about boats coming south in the winter:
It becomes very dangerous" with too many boats, blocking access to docks, anchored too close and banging into the homeowners' docks and boats. "Our waterways literally become a shantytown," Karlton said. "There's a fishbowl effect at night...these people don't leave, they're dumping their solid waste in our waters”. Karlton also states that women on the waterfront are “living behind their curtains” because of boaters peering in windows at them. 
I’m not going to call Karlton a liar because I don’t care to be sued by him, but I do believe that if we asked him to prove any of this, he’d find it impossible to do so. 
Karlton has been caught telling tales about anchored boaters that didn’t hold up (such as waste discharge), since no charges regarding his complaints were laid by the police. And Karlton was cautioned by the police about harassing boaters near his house.
I will note here that the only boat accident I’m aware of near Karlton’s house was when Karlton himself drove his boat into an anchored boat less than 20 yards from where I sat watching it happen, in 2014. There was no one at the wheel of Karlton’s boat when he ran into the anchored boat - he had moved away from the wheel and wasn’t keeping any watch at all. The police, and I find this SO hard to believe, were not interested in what I had to tell them about what happened. When I tried to inform the Coast Guard boat that attended the incident - they chose to inspect my boat rather than investigate what happened.
Now you need to know, Karlton donates large amounts of money to politicians, so he gets listened to. He gets the best democracy he can buy.
Mark Gold is another individual (again, not the word I’d choose but this guy’s a lawyer and likes to sue people, as you’ll see) from Miami Beach who hates anchored out boats near his property. He claimed at an FWC hearing in Vero Beach last year that 10, 15, 20 boats anchored behind his property all winter long, stating they were in "his backyard". There’s only one problem with this - it isn’t true. He made similar claims today in Tallahassee.
There is room for perhaps a half dozen, at most, boats in that area. Mike Ahart estimated that four could anchor. I go past Gold's house several times every year and I’ve not ever seen one boat anchored there. Not once. I guess I need my eyes checked.
Interestingly enough, in the scurrilous rumors department, both of these men have been either accused of or charged with domestic violence issues in the past, and Gold once got so drunk at a Fort Lauderdale strip club that he spent some $19,000 in one night - and then sued the bar for the money, claiming they got him drunk. For details, see http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/beach-commission-candidate-fredric-karlton-had-some-lady-troubles-6552324, and also http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/mark-gold-ticket-lawyer-who-sued-strip-club-over-18k-bill-arrested-for-domestic-violence-6534306 and http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article1956640.html
What relevance does this have to the anchoring issue? None really, but the public needs to know what sort of individuals - not the word I choose to use, but again, I don’t want to be sued - that politicians are supporting in this fight. And perhaps those women in Karlton's neighbourhood have reason to be hiding....but not from we boaters.
Note that Gold states that he was behind the city of Miami Beach’s most recent ordinance, which wasn’t nearly as draconian as what he wanted: “We had asked for a 300' setback and a 2-day limit” Gold said. Miami Beach eventually went with a seven day limit on anchoring, which was rescinded when the pilot program came into effect.
Gold also claims that boaters are dumping raw sewage - apparently a favorite claim of these clowns - but I’d like to know how they can tell, since nearly every boat I’ve ever seen empties below the waterline. How do they know? 
The FWC's Richard Moore noted that they have no witnesses to this sort of behaviour - maybe he should go talk to Karlton and Gold - and see if their 'testimony' would pass muster. Somehow, I don't think it would.
The Florida League of Cities noted that a great many jurisdictions would want the right to create their own ordinances, and Rep. George Moraitus Jr. of Fort Lauderdale indicated that he intends to introduce (another) bill that allows local governance of anchoring for Broward County. The bill would also declare Middle River in Lauderdale a no anchoring zone.
Mike’s report makes for dismal reading. I meant it when I said that we, as boaters, are in serious trouble in Florida.
The vice chair of the meeting, referring to a Fort Lauderdale liveaboard in Lake Sylvia, actually asked a police officer, a friend of mine, if the police: “could just wake them out of there...”
If that’s what the committee vice chair is thinking out loud, suggesting an illegal act that in effect comprises harassment, to a police officer, just what is he not saying?
At this point, I have no idea if Rep. Caldwell took note of the many emails sent in by readers of this blog, and from the many Facebook pages my original blog post was copied to. I have asked him about it, but have had no response to my question. I’ll report back as soon as I hear anything.
So what can we do? I’m not entirely certain at this point - at the moment, there is little if anything to do, not at least until we hear what this workshop is thinking. 
However, if we do nothing, we are absolutely going to lose our rights to anchor in Florida. Only you can stop this from happening.
That you can count on. If you haven’t been involved in this fight yet, it’s time you got angry and did something, starting with joining the Seven Seas Cruising Association (www.ssca.org), who are the only organization fighting for the rights of we cruising boaters. After that, be prepared to write, email and make your views known.
This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me on this issue. We boaters are not a small group, it’s about time we roared our displeasure at what is going on, and made the politicians sit up and take notice. It's long past time we called out the Karltons and the Golds and made them back up their bogus claims publicly - which they cannot. 
It's time to drop the gloves here, and fight.
And it’s time that you, personally, got involved. We have very little time left if we are to win this fight, if indeed we can win it at all.