Some blogs just write themselves.
Like this one.
A government agency entirely on its own did something dumb and now refuses to fix it despite clearly being in the wrong.
And it’s not just bureaucracy — the effect places Crystal River boaters in potential danger. So that doubles down on dumb.
Very recently some folks who live on the Crystal River said the state (or someone) moved the idle-speed signs from the eastern edge of the Fort Island Trail boat ramp to the western edge. A boater coming upriver wouldn’t know it’s idle speed coming into the boat ramp, only after passing by.
You can imagine how this could cause some conflict. While it’s difficult to see in today’s photo contributed by a reader, it shows boaters gathered around a capsized boat near a bend in the river.
Someone else sent me a video of a boat speeding past their dock near the boat ramp.
The same citizens who contacted me also contacted the county. The county’s very capable and dedicated aquatics director, Mark Edwards, sent the Florida Wildlife Commission a Sept. 7 email asking what’s up. This is what he wrote:
“We have been getting phone calls regarding the Crystal River signage located at the Ft. Island Boat Ramp. The citizens said the signage was moved from the previous location to the west of the fishing pier. The large 5-by-7 foot signs previously were Manatee Zone facing West and Idle Speed facing East. In essence, there is no No Idle Speed signs for the boat ramp. We are not aware of any work that was done out there and just wanted to see if by a chance you had your contractor move any of the signs?”
Now, that’s a straightforward question. Clearly explains the issue. And asks a reasonable question: Um, who did this?
Now, before I go further, huge flag: Why would the FWC not email, call, send good vibes, whatever to the county to let them know these signs were moving? Why does the county government need to hear about this from citizens?
After acknowledging that they did, in fact, move the signs, Mark’s agency contact at FWC wrote:
“I’m going to need some more time to dig through our files and meet with my supervisor on this. We will get back to you as soon as possible.”
Anytime a government person says she needs time to “dig through our files” that’s a euphemism for “we don’t know what the heck is going on.” And “meet with my supervisor” is to “get our stories straight.”
Meanwhile, while FWC is file digging, the county’s message is worsening. This next one from Edwards to FWC on Monday:
“...I heard from two Citrus County Sheriff Office Marine Unit personnel that…FWC was blaming the county for the markers being removed and moved to the location. As you are aware, this is not accurate.”
Got that? Officers from the state’s OWN AGENCY are blaming the county for removing the signs.
And then comes the hammer Monday afternoon:
“Due to FWC having to records of permitted markers in this area, and all the signage having the state permit number on them rather than a county ordinance and permit number, our office was unaware of any local zone here….so we had these markers moved to the correct manatee protection zone boundary for this area.”
There’s more government stuff but you get the drift.
A state government person for no reason other than he has the authority to, switched these No-Idle Speed markers, didn’t tell a soul with the county, then turns around and blames the county because the state records don’t match.
The email went on to explain how FWC would be happy to assist the county in getting the proper permits to place the signs back where they’re of some actual use.
Edwards wrote an incredulous email to a commissioner:
“This is unbelievable. If we have to pay for the installation, it could cost as much as $47,254 to put it back like it was.”
Catch that? $47,000 to fix something that should never have happened in the first place.
And while FWC convinces itself of no wrongdoing, boats are flying into a congested area not realizing what lies ahead. But they'll help us with the permits to return the signs they moved.
Not sure how this pans out. I’d expect some County Commission chatter on it at Tuesday’s meeting.
Stay tuned. More to come.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.