Let’s Stay Involved
Dear Editor: To all the wonderful people who make the Gabber a ray of sunshine and a source of local news every week.
It was thrilling to hear that the owners and staff of the Gabber all voted…making the Gabber a 100% voting organization (caveat: voting status of freelancers not known.)
As part of the Gulfport Votes 100% team, it’s exciting to hear when individuals and groups “get” the power that comes from playing at 100%. Working toward 100% demonstrates being full in. It’s a commitment expressed. We appreciate the Gabber’s regular coverage of Gulfport Votes 100%’s efforts to encourage civic engagement and voting despite the pandemic. While we didn’t make 100% voter turnout – yet – we moved the dial in the right direction. Thanks to the actions of many organizations and individuals, Election 2020 had the largest turnout ever – nationally and locally. Let’s continue to build these civic engagement “muscles” by becoming familiar with our public servants, attending city council meetings (in person or virtually), learning from multiple news sources, and cultivating curiosity about people and things we don’t understand.
This is the kind of spirit that we’ve witnessed from the Gabber itself as it struggles to reconstitute and re-imagine itself to serve its community while bringing fresh approaches to hometown journalism. Even being public about the “misses,” i.e. humorous crime reports, indicates that there are always more than just one way to look at something. Thank you for showing us the parts of ourselves that should be re-examined and improved even as you help our community celebrate the best of who we are and what is possible for our future. – Ingrid Bredenberg
BCYC is a Part of Gulfport
Dear Editor: As a resident of Gulfport, the Boca Ciega Yacht Club and the Gabber are two of the many things I love about this city. It was disappointing, then, to see a recent Gabber article about BCYC that was wrong about some important points and did not tell the whole story. I would like to correct some of those things.
In discussing the recent court case, the Gabber stated, correctly, that the Federal Court found BCYC to be a private club, not subject to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. What the article neglected to mention is that the court also found that BCYC did not discriminate nor retaliate against the former member who sued the club. As you can imagine, this case has caused significant distress at the club as well as untold damage to BCYC’s reputation among the residents and perhaps even among city officials. Importantly, as a BCYC member and former Commodore, and as a former civil rights lawyer, I can say without reservation that discrimination is not and will never be how the club operates. It’s just not who we are.
The Gabber article also did not fully explain how the BCYC lease with Gulfport, described before the council and elsewhere as a “sweetheart deal,” has worked to the city’s benefit. City residents may not know, for example, that BCYC originally developed part of the waterfront, forming the basin where members’ boats are kept and creating the breakwater that protects it and is now planned to be part of a future city park. The club’s basin and breakwater did not exist before BCYC dredged the area. While the city later rebuilt and improved the slips and docks, it is no exaggeration to say that over the years of this current lease, BCYC members have paid the city hundreds of thousands, likely over a million dollars in boat slip rental revenues that were previously paid to the club.
Early on, the club improved the U.S. Army Corps building that currently serves as BCYC’s meeting place, and within the past couple years, BCYC invested significant funds improving the grounds and upgrading the clubhouse to bring them into conformity with the city marina design. By the way, BCYC hired a Gulfport contractor for much of the work.
For me personally, my work with BCYC has brought me into contact with many of the city’s merchants and officials, and I’ve come to enjoy those relationships through the club’s activities such as Fun Day, the Christmas Boat Parade, Sea Scouts, youth sailing for Gulfport residents and other boating events that bring outsiders into the city. Through the club, I became a part of the Gulfport community much more quickly and completely than would have been possible otherwise.
I know that BCYC considers itself to be a part of the Gulfport community, and I hope Gulfport will continue to consider BCYC in the same light, to work with the club for the mutual benefit of us all. – Lee A. Nell