Anchoring Incident in Miami Beach (Input Received After 6/10/11)
Claiborne…to follow is my correspondence with the Chief of MB police. It does not sound good….I’ll leave it to you to post.
Sent: Friday, June 10, 2011 3:31 PM
To: Noriega, Carlos
Cc: Reeder, Tricia
Subject: anchoring issue, Fredric Karlton
Good afternoon Sir – By now you have received correspondence from the mayor’s office via Rebecca Wakefield concerning my complaint to the Mayor regarding anchoring in Sunset Lake.
I’d like to take this up directly with you at this point, but first I’d like to congratulate you on the superb comportment of your marine officers. All of us on board were quite impressed and I hope that you will pass on to them my thanks for their courtesy and professionalism.
My concern at this point is that most cruisers such as myself are ‘conditioned’ to do as the police ask – especially when the request is as politely made as in this case. However, the situation should never even come up as I’m sure you’ll agree. Someone – and I suspect I wouldn’t want the job – is going to have to tell Mr. Karlton that the police will not be responding to his calls any longer, unless there is an actual issue at hand and not just his angst at finding a boat, of all things!, anchored behind his house.
I also think it appropriate that Mr. Karlton be informed that his behaviour in playing loud rap music and shining a strong spotlight at night on boats anchored behind his home is not appropriate. That sort of behaviour might even be considered a threat by some and I wonder if Karlton shouldn’t perhaps be cautioned about it – but I absolutely defer to you in making that particular decision. Before you make it though, may I direct you to the Cruisers Forum page where a video showing just what Karlton was doing has been posted: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f106/bullying-on-the-waterway-sunset-lake-miami-61665-3.html
Should you wish to speak to these people, I’ll provide you with their email address*. I’m quite certain that they’ll wish to share their concerns regarding Mr. Karlton and his behaviour with you, including his threat to park his boat immediately beside theirs the next morning.
At this point, I’m still preparing to move ahead with the July 4th Anchor Fest, as we have no real assurance that this situation is resolved or that Karlton will change his behaviour, at least as far as involving the police is concerned. If we do go ahead, I’d like to speak with your marine people about how to best handle this from a safety viewpoint so as to minimize any negative impacts – well, other than on Mr. Karlton of course, but I honestly expect him to choose to be out of town that day. I’d like to make this as positive an event as possible if it goes ahead.
Thank you for your time and concern, I’ll look forward to hearing from you. Again, my congratulations on a professional force, you can be proud of them. And I say that as the son of a career police officer.
* since this letter was written and first sent, these people have indicated they would be happy to speak with you if you deem in necessary.
Chief’s Response – Mr. Moran,
Since you have suggested in other correspondence to the Mayor’s office that politicians and police superiors may be abusing their authority with this matter as conveyed with your following statements,
My question here is this: are the politicians of Miami Beach, and the senior police officers giving the orders and who appear to leap at the politicians beck and call, so craven, so spineless, so hungry for political largesse that they will order their front line officers to break the law? Because that is exactly what happened here – with their request, these officers were violating our rights. They knew it, and clearly didn’t like being ordered to do it.
It’s not like these officers didn’t have more important things to do, it was a busy weekend on the water. No, they were ordered to break the law, to go after us, to get us to move on, all because one man has money and the politicians of Miami Beach (who are in his pocket) don’t have the backbone or integrity to tell him that his money doesn’t buy him that privilege. Quite frankly, if I were a voter in Miami Beach, I’d be asking some very difficult questions of the mayor and the Chief of Police.
For those who would like to ask those questions, Mayor Bower’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. The Chief’s email apparently isn’t publicly available.
I want to make it clear that I find your statement completely irresponsible, slanderous and libel. Accordingly, I will not be responding to any future communication from you. Instead, you may refer your concerns to the Mayor’s Office, City Manager’s Office or our City Attorney’s Office. Also as you are probably aware, I have been contact by the Ethics Commission with regards to your complaint. I welcome any `’¦ difficult questions’ presented to me and so that the record is set straight my e-mail is publicly available (email@example.com) on our City website. We will continue to monitor the activity related to this matter and will aggressively pursue any criminal behavior involved, including any threats that are or have been made.
Carlos Noriega, Chief of Police
Office of the Chief of Police
MIAMI BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT
1100 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Office: 305.673.7776 Ext. 5315
My further reply to the Chief:
Dear Mr. Noriega – my intent was not to aggravate you, and I’m sorry both that you are incensed at my remarks and that you feel disinclined to discuss this matter with me. I understand that it’s been a difficult week for you, given the events you’ve had to deal with. I’m sure you don’t need this on top of everything else.
However, the facts of the matter are that your marine police have, on more than one occasion and subsequent to Karlton’s complaining, come out to ‘encourage’ boaters who are legally anchored in Miami Beach, to move. That is fact – it is NOT slanderous, libelous or irresponsible.
In fact, what IS irresponsible in my opinion is the waste of police resources – manpower, time and equipment – that are used in pandering to Mr. Karlton’s personal problems with boaters engaging in a legal pastime. If I were a taxpayer in Miami Beach, I would most certainly have issues with all of that. I also have issues with the infringement on people’s rights to engage in a legal activity which is inclusive in what is happening here.
You happen to be the boss. You set the tone, and if what I saw on Memorial Day weekend was representative, then you are doing a good job and your men reflect that. All I’ve tried to do here is to bring out a situation that needs attending to. I’m astonished by the hostility of your response to my concerns, which represent the concerns of the many other boaters who have stopped in Miami Beach and been confronted by Karlton. I would have thought your concern would be to resolve the situation, to make it clear that Karlton does not have special privileges with the MB Police. You haven’t said that.
I don’t know just who dispatched your officers. If it was a desk officer or staffer responding to a call and there was no influence behind it, please just say so. I can accept that and admit that my assertions were in error. In fact, I’d be quite pleased to hear that, since it would be a far simpler situation to resolve. Instead, you’ve taken huge umbrage to my remarks and that leads me to wonder if, indeed, there isn’t some complicity, some pandering towards Karlton’s concerns. What I want to hear is that it isn’t MBPD policy to be at Karlton’s every whim when he’s upset over someone engaged in a legal practice. I want to hear that boaters don’t need to be concerned that they will have to deal with a police presence while engaged in doing something they have every right to do. That’s hardly a lot to ask, or so I would have thought.
For your information, I have deliberately not posted my original email to you while awaiting your response, out of respect for your office. I had hoped that I would be able to report back to the hundreds of cruisers who are following this issue that the MB Police had assured me that we would no longer be ‘gently harassed’, as one of them put it, by the police. As I said, I have no criticisms of your men, who were most polite, but the fact is, what they are doing is still not right. They know it, I know it, and you know it.
I note that you have not indicated that you wish to speak to the couple who were harassed by Mr. Karlton with loud music and a bright spotlight until well into the night in May, 2011. Is this how you intend to “monitor the activity”, as regards “threats that have been made”? They felt threatened by Karlton’s actions, and have said as much to me. Do you plan to respond to that?
Since you have indicated that you have no intention of communicating with me, I will forward this correspondence – and yours – to those you have suggested, along with my remarks on your response. I am sorry that you have not chosen to deal with this more amicably. It was never my intent to cause disagreement here and most certainly not with you.
p.s. my remark about your email was based on the consideration that a Chief’s email just might not be public, given that there are people who would abuse it. I simply didn’t see it online anywhere. There was no slight intended.
As a `native’ (born in Miami) I am ashamed of the conduct reported in this situation. I will avoid doing any business in the lower half of my old home state. My friends in North Carolina seen to appreciate my business!
Wally: I don’t know if it would be convenient for you, but I would suggest requesting a meeting to discuss this with the chief. Oftentimes it is difficult to accurately interpret the tone and demeanor of someone via email and letters. At that meeting you might be able to hand directly to the chief copies of the Florida statutes that are applicable to anchoring in that location. Unfortunately, I find that law enforcement’“even marine law enforcement’“rarely has a good comprehension of applicable boating laws, which leads to this sort of problem. Good luck!
I second John’s suggestion. I doubt you’ll get a face to face with Chief Noriega though. He suggested in his reply that he took great offense to Wally’s implication that someone is giving special consideration to Mr. Karlton’s complaint especially since Wally suggested it might be politically motivated.
Chief Noriega should be more thick skinned than that or perhaps Wally’s suggestion is correct. Chief Noriega’s response was so defensive it makes one wonder. Especially since he no longer wants to communicate with Wally at all.
And, here’s a note from Captain Wally received 6/24/11, describing the latest developments in this ever unfolding saga.
The city of Miami Beach agrees that cruisers choosing to anchor in Sunset Lake have a right to do so without being harassed by either local citizens and/or the police. They have expressed their concerns over the issue of cruisers being asked, improperly, to move by the police and it is being looked into. Karlton has been spoken to by the City over his behaviour with loud music and spotlights and it could well lead to his being charged in the future. The city has asked that, should Karlton continue to be disruptive, that cruisers take photos and video and contact City Hall with them.
I’m also not rich, I make 30k a year. I don’t own a big mansion and I don’t live in Florida. But I am on the homeowner’s side. It’s obvious boaters are a problem for him. Reading the article I saw he has had several things stolen from his property. You may think it is just YOU, but to him it is over 300 of you per year, averaging just under 1 boater per day/night. A lot more in the high season. I live in a neighborhood where people park to block my driveway almost every day. It is my house and I pay for the right to my driveway and my yard. They destroy that. Think about this, for you it is one or two days, for this owner it is EVERY day. Leave him alone, you (as a group) are in the wrong.
I hope those boats all have anchor lights showing all night long as that is not a special anchorage area, and even though they are small it could be argued that it is an area where traffic is likely and therefore lights must be shown. Someone should notify the Coast Guard about that.