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Old 19-12-2013, 06:50   #256
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Any news about the meeting on december 18 th?
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Old 19-12-2013, 07:11   #257
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

The meeting with the fwc was last night. There was standing room only. The fwc had three officers there. One was in charge of Marathon to Dade county line, another was in charge of Marathon to Key West. Not sure why the third guy was there. The guy in charge of Marathon to Dade county did 90% of the talking on behalf of the fwc.
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To me the meeting epitomized the whole problem we have with the fwc and that is that the officers do not know the laws they are trying to enforce. Here are several examples.

#1 If your dingy is capable of 7 knots you are required to have red and green running lights. He stated it is at the officer’s discretion to determine if your vessel is capable of 7 knots. One guy said he had an inflatable with a 3 ˝ hp motor. He was told yes it would have to display running lights.
Rule 23 section C states:
(c) (i) A power-driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length may in
lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule exhibit
an all-round white light and sidelights;
(ii) a power-driven vessel of less than 7 meters in length whose
maximum speed does not exceed 7 knots may in lieu of the lights
prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule exhibit an all-round white
light and shall, if practicable, also exhibit sidelights;
(iii) the masthead light or all-round white light on a power-
driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length may be displaced from
the fore and aft centerline of the vessel if centerline fitting is not
practicable, provided that the sidelights are combined in one lantern
which shall be carried on the fore and aft centerline of the vessel or
located as nearly as practicable in the same fore and aft line as the
masthead light or the all-round white light.

Note that it does not say “capable”. It says your maximum seed does not exceed 7 knots.
#2 We were told if your dingy was tied to the side of your moored boat it did not require an anchor light, but if it was tied to the stern of your moored boat that an anchor light was required.
Rule 30 states:
RULE 30
Anchored Vessels and Vessels Aground
(a) A vessel at anchor shall exhibit where it can best be seen:
(i) in the fore part, an all-round white light or one ball;
(ii) at or near the stern and at a lower level than the light
prescribed in subparagraph (i), an all-round white light.
(b) A vessel of less than 50 meters in length may exhibit an all-
round white light where it can best be seen instead of the lights
prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule.
(c) A vessel at anchor may, and a vessel of 100 meters and more in
length shall, also use the available working or equivalent lights to
illuminate her decks.

So I could have a 49 meter boat with one all around anchor light and be legal, but the fwc is saying if my 3 meter inflatable is tied to my 9 meter boat I need two lights. I don’t know how they can logically come up with this.

#3 Length of time to register your boat in Florida was discussed amongst the fwc officers present and they said after 90 consecutive days that it needed to be registered. It was asked if a trip out to the lighthouse (4 mile offshore) and back would constitute leaving Florida waters. He said yes. This took some discussion among the fwc officers to come up with this answer, and I am not sure I would trust it.
If those in charge are not clear on the laws, how can we expect the field officers to know them?
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Old 19-12-2013, 07:14   #258
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

So was the original issue of the spot lights and boardings addressed?
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Old 19-12-2013, 07:21   #259
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Were the Representatives from the city there? If so what was their interaction with the FWC officers and the general public?

(Just general interest on my part)
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Old 19-12-2013, 08:07   #260
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

The mayor and some councilmen were present. They seem to be one our side. It is my understanding that the mayor was instrumental in getting the meeting with the fwc set up.

The issue with the spotlights was brought up. The fwc officer said sometimes it is necessary to use the lights when they are looking for something. Basically he was there to backup all of his officer’s actions so far.
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Old 19-12-2013, 14:48   #261
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Sorry I haven't been able to respond until now, our harbor internet is being worked on so I couldn't write last night and I had to work today.

Last nights meeting was well attended, both by boaters, the FWC, and other interested parties. There were 2 FWC Capt's, and 1 officer, 4 USCG, as well as the Mayor and several city council members. While the discussion was at times heated and several times seemed to derail and go off track, overall there was much good discussion. What I find interesting is the varying opinions of the way the meeting turned out. I personally think the meeting accomplished everything we set out to do. We,,

1. Brought attention to the problem.
2. They acknowledged our voice by having the meeting, and by those who attended.
3. They were in PR mode and attempted to put a human face on the FWC, Capt Dupree represented them well.
4. The FWC acknowledged there were problems with some laws and they are working on getting them resolved.
5. Cleared up some rumors that were blown way out of proportion.
6. We were able to establish that almost, if not all, of the questionable interactions were from 1 particular officer. (training issue)
7. Capt Dupree stated that his officers are being instructed to show greater discretion and more respect for the boaters in Boot Key.
8. Both Capt's have instituted an open door policy, as well as gave out personal numbers to discuss issues as they happen instead of letting it come to a head.
9. Agreed we need to keep this open dialogue and should have a town hall type meeting a couple times per year.

Sure, some of the people that attended wanted a full blown apology, with FWC admitting they did something wrong and groveling, obviously that was not going to happen. They do have to maintain the integrity of the field officers (even if they were wrong) however the general impression I got was they were there to repair the relationship. The Mayor and the city showed a huge amount of support and validation for us as boaters and wanted to make sure this was resolved. Overall the people that attended were well behaved, well mannered and even though a few wanted to bring pitchforks and torches, they checked them at the door. Most importantly my kids were there from start to finish, they got to see how people can rally together and change things. It was also another example of always standing up for what is right, even if it's not directly affecting you right now, it could have eventually and it was just plain wrong. Everyone stood together, we made our voice heard and to me, that means we won this battle.

Thank you to everyone for your support, your phone calls and your kind words, they helped tremendously! For those of you that were going to skip Boot Key, don't, you'll be missing out on a strong community of amazing people I'm proud to call friends.


The following is what I said at the meeting when I was asked to speak. I hope I represented the harbor well and I tried to walk a "thin line" between being an upset boater/member of this community, and being a city employee.


We are here tonight to raise questions, questions we as boaters need answers to. Hopefully tonight we will all leave here a little wiser and with far less anxiety. The FWC's presence in the harbor starting on Thanksgiving day was overwhelming to say the least. Nightly spotlighting, and late night boarding of vessels without cause brought a sense of fear into Boot Key Harbor. This is a family community of live aboard boaters, these are our homes. I also know that FOR NOW… these are not offered the same protection, but they should be offered respect. A little bit of tact on the part of the FWC officers in question and we might not be here tonight.

Capt Dupree you said something the other day that stuck with me, it's something I think might have prevented the entire situation in the harbor if those officers here would have followed your advice. "Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should" Just because you can board a vessel at 11pm, waking a family, scaring the children AND the parents out of sleep and into a state of disorientation, doesn't mean you should. Using discretion and a little bit of tact, goes a long way with the public, just as the decision of your officers went a long way in creating this negative situation. Their actions have reached far beyond the mangroves of Boot Key Harbor. There are articles nationwide in magazines, internet and other media, and the city marina is fielding calls daily from all over the country about this situation. On cruisers forum alone there are over 15k views and word is spreading fast. We all await the outcome of this meeting. Many people have decided to skip Boot Key until this is resolved. This lost revenue creates a ripple effect that also reaches far and beyond the harbor. Cruisers bring money, dispensable income that infuses the economy here in Marathon. These businesses also have an interest in the outcome of this meeting.

I understand after talking with you, several of these citations were warranted. Many times the one ticket written was the least of the many infractions the individual could have gotten. Other times the citations have been odd, if not just plain bizarre. Writing tickets for things nobody has ever heard of, again, "Just because they can". Capt Dupree, what we want is consistent interactions and for you to pass this message to your officers in the field. We are not going to live in fear, we will not put up with heavy handed officers, and we WILL call into question at the highest levels, the necessity of actions such as nightly spotlighting and shining into my 8 year old daughters bedroom window. How many nights in a row do you have to "check my registration"? Capt Dupree we welcome the dialogue and the help in returning Boot Key Harbor to the way it was before Thanksgiving. Respect is not something that comes with a gun and a badge, fear does not earn it and it is not blindly given. When it is not given to us we question that authority, so tonight lets try and repair what has been damaged and show each other mutual respect.. Thank you.
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Old 19-12-2013, 15:10   #262
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

I get the impression that they are playing the "laws" game to hide behind while they disregard that there are right and wrong applications of the law
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Old 19-12-2013, 15:40   #263
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Great job "Thin Line" I agree that it sounds like it went very well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 19-12-2013, 15:58   #264
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Glad to hear you had a positive interaction. Lets hope for everyone's sake the results are long lasting
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Old 19-12-2013, 16:28   #265
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Thank you "Thin Line" for your challege, your meeting, your sharing with us, your communication skills, your succsess, and the honor of your stance during this conflict.
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Old 19-12-2013, 17:11   #266
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptForce View Post
Thank you "Thin Line" for your challege, your meeting, your sharing with us, your communication skills, your succsess, and the honor of your stance during this conflict.
Put better than I could have.

Well done.

We liked Boot Key when we were there.
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Old 19-12-2013, 20:27   #267
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

And some thought you'd be arrested 'cause this ain't 'merica no more!

Seriously though, Great Job!!!! Seems like things are back on track. Give usan update in a few months.
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Old 19-12-2013, 20:38   #268
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Well said ThinLine.

Thanks for your efforts.
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Old 19-12-2013, 20:47   #269
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thin Line View Post
Most importantly my kids were there from start to finish, they got to see how people can rally together and change things. It was also another example of always standing up for what is right, even if it's not directly affecting you right now.
Impressive. well done.
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Old 20-12-2013, 16:26   #270
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

To add to my congrats.
I remember that most if not all the problems can be attributed to a single officer.

Not surprised. Common in all walks of life. All the way to the opposite side----> criminals.
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