1 LiveBloggin' the ICW

Friday, October 2, 2015

Florida is doing it AGAIN!

It’s no surprise that the majority of people affected by the Florida House of Representatives’ proposed workshop on the topic: “whether to restrict anchoring in public waters adjacent to waterfront residences”, will be unable to attend and make their views known.
Given the fact that the state of Florida has been attempting to restrict anchoring for years now, and continue to do so, these attempts to disenfranchise those most affected is now expected by those same people.
I don’t know about you, but I’m completely fed up with these ongoing attempts to eliminate the rights of the general public in favor of a few wealthy homeowners. To be very frank: it is long past time that politicians need to grow a spine - or perhaps some other appropriate appendages I won't name here - and tell these wealthy folk that the rights of the majority trump the wealthy homeowner's presumed right to an unimpeded view out their backyard.
In other words - tell them bluntly, no mincing of words - you bought the land to your property line, and not one inch beyond that. The rest of it belongs to the public and we, the State’s representatives, are mandated by the Public Trust Doctrine to preserve it for the public, not to grant you special rights to preserve your view.
What does the Public Trust Doctrine say? In part: 
…lands beneath navigable water bodies are not held for the purpose of sale or conversion into private ownership, strict limitations are imposed on the state’s ability to transfer the water bodies, or parts thereof, into private hands.”
To quote from a well known court decision, Broward v Mabry:

Anchoring is a lawful use of the water, and that's according to the Supreme Court.
To limit the rights of the general public with any sort of anchoring legislation would be in essence a conveyance of those rights to the hands of those benefiting from said conveyance - the waterfront landowners. After all, it is they who are driving this process of endless fighting over this issue, not the boaters, not the guy living inland or the casual tourist visiting the state. It’s a few wealthy homeowners who are the force behind this fight. They are our enemy.
None of this is to deny that there are legitimate concerns, but those concerns can easily be handled by ordinances, not overreaching state law. Examples abound - an anchored boat is too noisy? Local noise bylaws come into play. Give them a ticket. Pumping waste overboard? There must be dozens if not hundreds of local, state and federal laws that can be resorted to.
Derelict? The FWC has regulations that, if enforced, would end this problem within a few months. Of course, it would require that the state fund these efforts, and they aren’t doing that. It’s simply easier and less costly to look like you’re doing something by passing a new law.
Also - if they enforced these regulations, a certain individual's 20 some rotomolded dinghies, anchored behind his house in Miami Beach, would be Public Enemy #1. Not only are they illegally anchored, they are, by the FWC’s own definition, derelicts.
But nothing happens there because, as one police officer told me, the word has come down from Tallahassee: leave this guy alone.
I guess that’s what happens when you donate large amounts of money to politicians...or when, as one well connected local news guy told me, you allegedly give a big screen TV to the local marine unit, who respond within minutes to his every complaint. 
Funny, but when my dad was a cop, he’d have called that TV a bribe. 
I’m serious about the response time though - anchor behind this guy's house and you will have a police boat there within ten minutes asking you to move on - even though asking that of you is completely illegal on the part of the police. This has happened twice to me, and on different boats too. 
For the record, I’m told that when a police supervisor found out about the TV, it was removed and returned to Karlton. Funny, because the last time I was in that station, there was a big screen TV on the wall. And the man's dinghies are still anchored, illegally, behind his house and not the FWC, the USCG or the MB Police Marine Unit will do a thing about it.
Here is what Jay Campbell, a retired lawyer and Florida resident, said about the most recent attempts last year to limit anchoring in Florida:  “The proposals [of the FWC] seem to be unlawful, poorly thought out, against the interest of Florida citizens who are boaters, against the interests of Florida businesses which cater to boaters, and in support of ONLY a few wealthy landowners, represented by legislators who control the FWC funding. This is not how laws and regulations should be developed and implemented to support the public interest.”

So when is the workshop? Thursday, October 8, 2015, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Morris Hall (17 House Office Bldg.), Florida Capitol, Tallahassee, FL. If you can be there, I suggest that you go, and bring all your boating friends. I cannot be there, I’m at the Annapolis Boat Show, where I will be speaking to every boater I see about this issue and asking for their support. 
So - I’m asking you to be there for me. Speak up. Speak loudly. Make sure the legislators and their people get the message: we will NOT put up with this any longer. It is time that the politicians started representing everybody, not just the rich.
Do not let the meeting organizers suggest or insist that one person speaks for your group. They are obligated to listen to you, and if it takes more than the allotted three hours they have set out - too bad. Most of you will have to travel to be there, taking precious time out of your day - don’t let these weasels take that from you. Insist on being heard.
Why? The rich landowners may have money but we have one thing they do not - we have many more votes - and when politicians see that they are going to lose votes, they pay attention. It’s time to show them where the votes are - they already know where the money is, as we can see by their actions. 

If you cannot be there, you can send an email to John Love, Administrative Assistant
State Affairs Committee, John.Love@myfloridahouse.gov, (850) 717-4890. Tell him you can’t be at the workshop but you want your views aired so that these politicians get the message.
One last thing - if you agree with this blog post, share it with all of your boating friends and ask them to do the same. Post it to your Facebook page, and share it into all your groups. 
Get the word out, and get the gloves off. Let's end this damn fight once and for all.