Tourism 2.jpg

Many tourists visit Citrus County for its waters — and the manatees that call them home. Above, swimmers snorkle in Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River.

The controversy over county commissioners blocking the library system from having a digital subscription to the New York Times has spilled over into the local tourism realm.

People are cancelling trips to Citrus County and the repercussions are being felt as far abroad as London, England.

John Pricher, director of the Citrus County Visitors Bureau, said as of Wednesday afternoon he’s received 10 anonymous and signed emails from tourists who all oppose county commissioners’ actions.

“They disagree with it and most say they’re not coming to the area because of it or they’re changing their plans,” Pricher said. “I’m hoping that it’s just a vocal minority and things just continue to move forward.”

Pricher said he has not heard from hoteliers or tour boat operators. The short-term ramifications seem slight, he said. But it could become a problem if it drags out, he added.

The controversy could not come at a worse time. Manatee season begins next week and the county relies heavily on visitors staying overnight at local hotels and spending money at area businesses. Local tour boat operators depend on the season for a large chunk of revenue.

Pricher said he is optimistic that many of these people threatening to bail on a Citrus County vacation are not serious.

“I’m hopeful that when the manatees roll in, the people will roll in,” he said.

Pricher believes this controversy will be short-lived.

“The real reason you come here is for the water, the manatees, the outdoors and small towns,” he said. “I don’t believe it’s going to impact us like (the red tide scare).”

Still Pricher would like all this to go away because any negative perception of Citrus County doesn’t benefit the tourist trade.

Michael Mancke, general manager of the Plantation on Crystal River, said he’s not had any booking cancellations at this time.

But word is spreading internationally.

Mancke, also a member of the Citrus County Tourist Development Council (TDC), said the Plantation teamed with the county Visitors Bureau to operate a booth at a travel trade show in London, England.

A few people told staffers there they had seen the Washington Post story, which picked up the controversy and wondered what is going on in Citrus County. How, they asked, can a community be so closed-minded? 

“It doesn’t look favorable for this community when the international market perceives us as not being open-minded,” Mancke said.

Mike Engiles, owner of Crystal River Watersports and president of the Manatee Eco Tourism Association, said he’s had no tour cancellations over this.

“There might be people who chose not to call us to (book),” said Engiles, also a TDC member. “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

Asked whether this controversy could affect the opening of manatee season: “It can’t help,” he said.

TOURIST COMMENTS

Here are some emails sent Tuesday and Wednesday to Pricher in response to the New York Times issue:

 Weston Howland: “My mother and I were planning a trip to spend a week to ten days in the Crystal River area. We just saw that the (county commission) will not allow the library funding for the New York Times — calling it fake news. I am appalled.. in this day and age censorship is alive and well. Needless to say we will NOT (be) venturing down to Chrystal (sic) River anytime soon. The County must be pretty solid financially that they can do something so ignorant that WILL affect tourism.”

 David Morey: “Are you people serious? I’ll be sure to NOT spend any tourism dollars in Citrus county Florida and will pass the word along.”

 Rick Osborn: “Not a good move to mix your county officials’ political views to general public policy. I won’t be stopping this year in your county as I usually do on my way to/from Fort Myers in Jan/Feb. I will do my best to avoid spending any time and money in your county. How you elect to exercise your political views is your business, but when you make it public policy based on your views count me out.”

 Jeff Balb: “I won’t be bringing my family there for vacation again. Why don’t you all put together some book-burning events on at the library to attract the tourist that can relate to your politics?”

 Ben PerLee: “Just wanted to let you know that I won’t be visiting Citrus County because of your bumbling county commissioners who oppose the New York Times in their libraries. I’m sure your county is great and the manatees are super cute … but I don’t think your place is the welcoming type.”

 

 

 

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.

(44) comments

Bearcoach53

What a waste of ink. 10 anonymous emails? Now all the others follow from people who have no idea where Citrus County is. I didn't care weather we have the NYT or not, but now I say keep it out of the library.

JAYMIEA

I can't believe some of these comments, they make me laugh. People saying they aren't gonna come to Citrus County for vacation, because the Commissioner doesn't want to pay to have the NYT at the Library, is a joke. If people are so upset about it, then you pay the NYT and get it on your own computer and read away............ This is just seriously laughable

AGardner

Im glad you found it funny. Protestors are participating in one their foundational rights granted by our Constitution.

Phunkasaurus Wrex

I picture the commissioners all riding to the meetings in the same tiny car.

rnwtsar

Thanks to Mr. Carnahan, the thin veneer of respectability in Citrus county has peeled away. The Confederate flags, the “muslim-free” gun store, the “No N******” painted on the side of a house-- these could all be written off as low brow locals doing what they do. But its now clear to the nation that ignorant behavior goes all the way to the top of our County government. Truly a shame.

(Edited by staff.)

JoanBurke

Congratulations, Citrus County Commissioners. You made the Washington Post, the cable news stations and doubtless many other platforms with your revealing opinion of real news media that isn’t a mouthpiece for Trump. Not exactly the way you want to put Citrus in the national spotlight.

The NYT covers Trump extensively. It just doesn’t live in his reality. As to spending money to acquire knowledge, ignorance is always cheaper.

DParker

The people complaining about no NY Times will want Pravda Online next,

RobertRoscow

Great news!!! I hope it doesn’t go away. Finally people will get off their you know what and vote respectable knowledgeable people into office. Money talks and all the county needs is this. They did not do a thing to help save Etna and be a part of the ecotourism economy but instead damaged a site on the National Register and key to the early history of the county, ecology, and environmental and social education. It’s unfortunate that those in these industries will have to suffer because of their bigotry but it seems something tough has to happen to keep from electing these guys supported by developers. I have never heard of something so demeaning to our county in my life of 70 years and my Dad came here in the late 20’s. For their next act are they all going to wear MAGA hats??!!!! Throw them all out!!!

DonCoppolo

Good for you for speaking up about this tyranny.

ButterflyLady

I, for one, agree with the Commissioners. I don't want my tax dollars going to pay for a digital subscription when they are already getting the paper version. Most papers give you a digital subscription free with a paid subscription for the paper, like The Chronicle and the Tampa Bay Times. Why should we pay twice for the same issue. That's a waste of MY TAX DOLLARS!!!

To the Commissioners - You made a decision, STAND BY IT! Don't cave to a few just because they don't agree with your decision. You are there to spend our tax dollars wisely. Paying twice for the same paper is a poor way to spend our tax dollars.

AGardner

Why have libraries then? It's not like people can't buy a book.

Periodicals are extremely common and used by patrons. Ones who can't afford to get a subscription. Others that needs to look for something and doesn't need a subscription on one subject (especially since the subject has probably already been published.)

Media - online and in print - is essential for libraries who serve the public. The purpose of a library is to learn. And national and international news is a part of that. The library system probably has hundreds of subscriptions.

I don't care whether it's NYT or Breitbart, Source materials NEEDS to be made available.

I know that some of those subscriptions from Citrus County helped me learn that my Step-Grandma had passed away after we couldn't get a hold of her. The digital subscriptions I had to use were not free and expensive to sign up for. I often had to go to the sites multiple times. I could cancel and sign up and cancel and sign up at home but that probably would do nothing but freeze our credit card account.

We have a wonderful library system that we should be grateful for. There isn't a single taxpayer in the county who doesn't object to a book they carry or an online site that requires a paid subscription. It's for the benefit of the citizens. Many of them children and teenagers. Digital subscriptions frees up space and save some trees.

g8rbob

I heard s blip about this on NPR. Apparently it is viral news and an embarrassment to Citrus County.

AGardner

This isn't about whether the NYT is fake news or the cost. This is about a member of our County Commission showing an extreme bias toward providing the citizens of Citrus County access to a major media outlet.

It is common for libraries to have a wide range of subscriptions for their patrons to peruse. Declining that prevents students from researching both sides of a topic. Or a transplanted New Yorker who wants to read sections that have nothing to do with politics.

Anyone can walk into a library and find newspapers, magazines, books, and websites and find something they object too. Does that mean they should bring bring it before the County Commissioner to have it removed?

A man in a political position denied the library system and Citrus County citizens a resource based on his political views. If he had a legitimate reason for denying, then it's different. He is required to remain unbiased in his work. By using his political opinion is a denial of rights. That is why we've made national news...and why we're the laughing stock. I don't think it's funny. This is 2019, right?

How long before he does something else that adversely affects Citrus County?

crizor

In the first place., it was a comment from one commissioner taken out of context and printed in the chronicle. To my knowledge from what I have read, NONE of the commissioners are in favor of spending Taxpayer money on something that really isn't needed. If they were to approve this expenditure there would be people wanting them to provide the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, LA Times. Where will it stop? The best place is before it begins.

AGardner

They probably already do have those subscriptions and a lot more. Before the internet, this would be in the periodicals, and it would be in print - much more money and a waste of space these days. Nor should libraries be forced to play sides.

I grew up outside Chicago, and the periodicals were huge. There were hundreds of subscriptions for newspapers (including international) and magazines. It's an important part of the library.

The request was a renewal. There is no nipping it in the bud. Regardless of what you think of NYT, it's a periodical and a source material. Contrary to popular opinion, it doesn't just cover politics.

Unfortunately, a legislator seen yelling "fake news" left an indelible stain. It also doesn't change my mind - it should be approved for the same reason as any Conservative subscription - point of view, expanding knowledge whether that is world news, science, history, jobs, our environment, politics, to cause a person to think.

A legislator needs to behave with the decorum of one voted to serve ALL the citizens. To deny a renewal expenditure for the library based not only on political affiliation but yelling "fake news" is unprofessional, abhorrent and extremely unethical.

One of our legislators has taken the quaintness, kindness, and sense of community of Citrus County, ripped it up and laughed at it. I've read where we must be "one of those Florida idiots."

I've been here 18 years and I'm mind boggled. A standard renewal for one subscription denied not because of a legitimate reason but because it's "fake news." ALL publications should be made available. No matter what side.

The County Commissioners represents all of us and should deal with all issues in a nonpartisan manner. Libraries are here to serve our citizens of both parties and shouldn't lose a simple renewal during the embarrassing display of ignorance.

It isn't political. This isn't about not allowing other "fake news" subscriptions. It's because someone made it political and intentionally prevented Citrus County from going to a library and viewing what they could before.

KATHARINEK

Fortunately, several Commissioners will not be re-elected next year, anyway.

LYNNEWOELLER

nyt is fake news, why pay for trash? What could you be embarrassed about. Do some research.

Truth Crusader

It surprised me how our commissioners would even suggest that the Times is "fake news" after they said they have never read it! I have always been proud of these men but I may never get over my disappointment in their attitude. Absolutely shameful!

AGardner

I have. It leans left but is highly factual. https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/new-york-times/

DaleP

So sad the mouthy BOCC caused this. You hang with Trump and you might get dumped :-)

LARRYG

First off I dont believe a word of this article. This is why so many are not into believing print media anymore. Second, if the new york times article is a reason for a few people not to visit this county, GREAT those are the people we sure dont need to like this county,they might move here. FAKE NEWS.

ButterflyLady

I agree. I can't see where this issue would keep people away. It doesn't affect their reason for coming, but if that's what it takes to keep them out, then so be it.

Ssabmud

So you are calling John Pricher a liar? Why would he lie? I think you owe him an apology and, as Smith would say, 'disavow' what you have said about him.

Msfahrenheit

You may be surprised that some people have a bucket list - and cross items off after going/doing or mark them off due to the dangerous stupidity in the area. My list has significantly shortened in the last few years.

SusJoh

I'm calling BS on these emails. One guy can't even properly spell the name of the city he's supposed to be visiting with his mommy, others think this decision is public policy, and one even thinks that "we don't allow the NYT in our county." None of the writers had any intention of coming to Citrus County, they are merely overreacting to an insignificant decision by an insignificant politician. Look, the NYT is a BUSINESS, they are IN business to make a PROFIT. They have to make a hefty PROFIT in order to pay the bloated salaries of their CEO, CFO, Editorial Board, etc., etc., etc. Most of the money they make is on advertising revenue, not subscriptions. They have to spread out their readership far and wide for large businesses to advertise in their publication. Businesses that want to advertise in mass media want to reach as many potential customers as possible, so that their advertising dollars are spent wisely. If the NYT's subscribers drop, then their advertisers may go elsewhere. If the advertisers go elsewhere, the NYT loses money and you can't keep operating when you are bleeding money. The libraries already carry the NYT print edition, it's not cost effective to duplicate the service. If the county decided to duplicate the service from this business, then it would be obligated to buy the same product from other businesses, like the NY Post, the Washington Times, USA Today, etc.

AGardner

Would you like me to proof read? You overuse commas, putting them in where periods should go.

I think before criticizing someone else's spelling or grammar, make sure you have never made an error yourself. If you live in a glass house...

PKWebb

Well said. A lot of drama on here today.

JudithParliman

These cancellations are due to the spirit of Citrus County being challenged. I don’t read The NY Times at the library, but had an instant reaction to a commissioner stating he doesn’t like it, so a no go. Personal feelings have no place in our local government. I’m pretty certain people are cancelling in protest to this action rather than the wonderful things we have to offer.☹️

RBrazeal

How embarrassing! You commissioners have made our beautiful county look like it’s in the hands of bumpkins. You are not even smart politicians. You have alienated a lot of voting citizens with your blatant bias. You already had the Fox voters sewed up. All you succeeded in doing is alienating a lot of of us who are more open minded. We have long memories and we vote every chance we get. And don’t blame our newspaper for exposing us to scorn. The commissioners could have at least pretended that their opposition was due to the cost. But, no. Our commissioners undoubtedly thought their prejudice was a slam dunk with their constituents. That’s insulting. As a previous poster opined, The New York Times is not “fake news.” It’s just news you don’t like.

LYNNEWOELLER

Fake news, do some research if you can.

DaleP

Very well said. Thank you.

SHC

Elect a clown, expect a circus.

LYNNEWOELLER

billary

crizor

The Chronicle and writing staff are to blame for all of this over the top emotions. Had they not taken a comment out of text much like the NT Times does it could have been worked out in some civil way. I had to purchase an online version of the Chronicle in order to read it without purchasing the paper. These people who have their panties in a wad about the NY Times can do the same thing. They can then cancel whenever they want. It is not up to the tax payer to provide the wants of a few. Especially at the tune of $2,700.00 per year. We will survive a few people not coming here because of their emotions

THOMASHINES

We will miss y'all.

Old Florida Cracker

Well said crizor. Why do my tax payer monies have to fund something you can get for free on line? It makes absolutely no sense. The Chronicle and other papers want to make a big deal out of nothing just to push there liberal agendas and the crazy few are jumping up and down having hissy fits. Nobody's "rights" are being violated. You have every opportunity and right to get your news from where ever you chose, but I and all the rest of the tax payers do not have to pay for it! I fully support the commissioners decision in this matter. Hopefully our tax payer money isn't wasted on the Chronicle either!

Kristen

Fake News

crizor

NY Times or Chronicle? or Both?

AGardner

Go into a library and look around. Do you see anythig there that you object too

AGardner

It's not free online. Not if you want to read it regularly. All the different ways taxpayer money is wasted and you decide a library's request for an online subscription renewal that's already be allocated by the library budget is a waste.

If I took $2,000 (cost for subscription rounded up) and divided it by 70,000 for library cardholders, the cost per person is $0.30. I'm not sure of the population in the county, so I chose 150,000 - probably a little low. Divided by 2,000, the cost per person is $0.01. That's would definitely eat into the budget of any taxpayer.

The Chronicle is funded by subscribers, classifieds, and advertising. Taxpayers do not pay for it in any way, shape, and form. I have never heard of a taxpayer-funded newspaper or magazine.

LEIGHD

What did they take or of context? Did you watch the video of the meeting??? Those were direct quotes!!!

Truth Crusader

Amen. LEIGHD

AGardner

Is it "over the top" if this was done by an Obama supporter? Be honest.

It doesn't matter what the political party is, it's keeping people from viewing something that should be available, and that's censorship

The library has a separate budget and the money allocated. There are probably a lot of subscriptions and books purchased by the library that you would also reject if you knew. We pay the money, but we don't get to say what it does with it. The NYT request was perfectly reasonable. If the Board had legitimate concerns, then I could understand but this was a political decision made by a Board that HAS to be impartial in order to serve the needs of EVERY citizen fairly and without bias.

The Times is at least 150 years old, with the largest readership and considered a reliable and mostly accurate publication. I doubt it would provide for the "wants if the few." It's not a one party paper. It also isn't just about politics. There are sections on science, hobbies, history, world news, fashion, and news from different areas and feel good pieces that are uplifting. It covers current events that are non political and things can always be learned..

70,000 card holders - there's bound to be a lot more than a few (especially because of this situation) and some of them might have disabilities that keep them homebound. Their only access would be through this subscription and others like it.

"You can purchase it" is an argument that apply to everything in a library. It's a not an argument. It can also be applied as not a very good argument given as a reason by people who agree with Commissioners Carmahan and Kitchen Jr.

"Fake news" and "I don't want that paper in my county" are not valid reasons to reject something so routine.

JAYMIEA

I agree, this is just ridiculous. If people want the NYT, then they should pay for it themselves and read away, at home.

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