Gary S. Colecchio has spent more than a decade injecting himself and his wisdom into the very public Boca Grande Pass tarpon debate. With the emergence of Save The Tarpon Inc., the Bonita Springs resident has gone into overdrive.
Colecchio is the Southwest Regional Director of the Florida Guides Association. From August 9, 2011 to May 11, 2012 he was Director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Southwest District Office. He was among five Floridians nominated to serve on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. His bid was opposed by the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association Inc., among others. He failed to win appointment. He is a member of the Coastal Conservation Association and the National Association of Charterboat Operators. He clearly gets around.
On June 20 of this year at 3:47 p.m., “senior member” Colecchio got around to logging in on the familiar ground of the Florida Sportsman Southwest General Fishing & The Outdoors Forum where he asked “Who’s really behind the Save the Tarpon campaign?” The topic he started ultimately drew 6,277 views. Quite an accomplishment. He even said so himself.
“Is it the son of a Boca Grande insurance agency owner?” he wrote. “Is it the husband of a New York artist recently moved to the area from Colorado who suddenly recanted his evil fishhandling ways and started an Occupy Boca Grande Facebook movement as his salvation?”
Colecchio had taken a legitimate public policy debate and decided to make it personal at the expense of two young parents who, along with nearly 2,000 others, decided what the PTTS was doing in Boca Grande Pass was very, very wrong. It’s an old political trick. When you realize you’re circling the drain, go negative. Get nasty. Make it personal. Colecchio had no idea how creatively personal it was about to get.
Rather than engage in a flame war with a total stranger on some obscure Internet fish forum, the “New York artist” did something Colecchio never saw coming. She bought him. Or, more precisely, she bought “garycolecchio.com.” Mr. Colecchio wasn’t amused when he discovered he had been “owned.” That he was no longer the master of his own domain. Literally. But he pretty much kept it to himself. Didn’t say a word to his forum buddies. And honestly, who can blame the guy?
Although the “New York artist” (Colecchio would later go on to describe her as a “hippy”) now owned a Colecchio dot com, she didn’t do much with it. Not much you can really do with a “garycolecchio.com.” A page eventually appeared in place of an empty URL. It was a tribute of sorts. A collection of Mr. C.’s forum posts. One of those “in his own words” compilations. Just his words. Nothing else needed. Res Ipsa Loquitur.
The page was never promoted. No “Search Engine Optimization” or any of that stuff. Yet, back on the Florida Sportsman forum, the one where Colecchio is a “senior member,” somebody managed to find it. And they talked about it. Again, Mr. Colecchio was not amused. “Cyber-terrorism!” came the charge. Not a very nice way to describe Colecchio’s own words, words that had already been broadcast by Colecchio himself to tens of thousands of Internet eyeballs.
Ultimately, the page became boring. There were no photos of cute kittens and puppies. No viral YouTube videos of people doing stupid stuff. Just Colecchio. It was getting hits thanks to all the buzz it was receiving from Colecchio and his pals over at the fish forum. But it was still just Colecchio. It was ultimately replaced by a blank page. It received even more hits. Still, there was little hope “garycolecchio.com” was in any danger of becoming the next Facebook. And that was never the idea. The idea was to do absolutely nothing with the name, the URL and the the fish forum legend.
Then came The Letter. Otherwise known as the “Nasty Lawyer Letter.” Not that the lawyer is nasty. Probably a nice guy. Most lawyers are. That’s why so many of them are friends of Save The Tarpon. And most of our lawyer friends are nice. Most of them.
The “nasty” refers to the letter. And, as nasty lawyer letters go, this one was almost downright pleasant. A little loosie goosie with the law and the facts, but that’s how these things tend to go. No big deal.
The bottom line was that Colecchio, according to James L. O’Leary III, Esq. (the “Esq.” is even in his email address) really, really wants to be master of his own domain. He’s apparently grown tired of checking it every 15 minutes waiting for some public sort of record thing to be published directly under his URL. The “New York artist” married to the guy who “suddenly recanted his evil fishhandling ways and started an Occupy Boca Grande Facebook movement as his salvation” never gave it a thought.
Colecchio’s new-found desire to be master of his own domain is based on the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Known as the ACPA, it targets “nefarious cybersquatters” defined by the courts as those who:
(1) “register well-known brand names as Internet domain names in order to extract payment from the rightful owners of the marks;” This hasn’t happened.
(2) “register well-known marks as domain names and warehouse those marks with the hope of selling them to the highest bidder;” This hasn’t happened.
(3) “register well-known marks to prey on consumer confusion by misusing the domain name to divert customers from the mark owner’s site to the cybersquatter’s own site;” This can’t happen.
(4) “target distinctive marks to defraud consumers, including to engage in counterfeiting activities.” This hasn’t happened.
Further, the courts have ruled that “the ACPA’s congressional record consistently signals the drafters’ intention to target a narrow class of cyber-squatters consisting of those who have the bad faith intent to profit, and not to tread on the rights of those with any other motives.”
In this instance, “other motives” can be found in those words Colecchio wrote on June 20 of this year at 3:47 p.m. for the entertainment of 6,277 sets of eyeballs.
Case dismissed. But let’s look at this for a moment. Kicks and giggles and all that. “The domain,” Colecchio’s Personal Injury Lawyer Esq. states, “appears as if Mr. Colecchio has some involvement in its ownership and construction.” Ownership of a domain, of course, is easily determined. Colecchio’s involvement was limited to providing content: His own words, as posted and posted and posted across the World Wide Web.
It’s interesting that Colecchio’s personal injury lawyer would characterize a compilation of Colecchio’s writings as “an attempt to create a condition of intimidation and fear.” He is being unfair to his client. Nothing about Colecchio’s writings are intimidating. Fear? Really?
“Mr. Colecchio is not a celebrity, public figure or entitity and has no official authority.” Most people would agree. But Colecchio isn’t most people. Just ask him. He has notoriously and repeatedly injected himself into the arena of public debate on all things Boca Grande, aggressively seeking the limelight for himself and his inflamatory rhetoric.
Consider, Colecchio has, since June, 2011, amassed an incredible 2,008 posts on just one Internet fishing forum. This works out to an average of 154.46 posts per month, 35.86 per week and an astonishing 5.12 per day. Including weekends. For most of this time he was actually holding down a full-time job. And Colecchio doesn’t, of course, limit himself to just one Internet forum in his efforts to avoid the public limelight. Or just one state. He’s all over the map. Where there’s a “submit” button, there’s likely to be a Colecchio.
Since June, Colecchio has started or starred in 11 separate threads on just one Internet forum concerning the current Boca Grande tarpon controversy. These threads have been viewed a total of 19,546 times over a period of just five weeks. Further, the shy Mr. Colecchio has twice gone online to boast of the number of readers he has attracted in what can only be reasonably interpreted as an attempt to promote himself.
The definition of public figure is “one who has voluntarily thrust himself into the limelight.” Next to that definition it’s likely you’ll find a photo of the personal injury lawyer’s client.
Regardless, Colecchio’s Personal Injury Attorney Esq. wants the site taken down. Already happened. It was boring, remember? Colecchio’s Personal Injury Attorney Esq. doesn’t want anyone to purchase another garycolecchio.com. There’s more than one? Good grief! And he seems to suggest Colecchio would, indeed, like to become the sole master of his own domain.
Fine. Here’s what Personal Injury Attorney Esq. needs to tell his client to do:
1. Remit a personal check, signed by Gary S. Colecchio and made payable to Save The Tarpon Inc. in the amount of $5.13. This amount is the original purchase price of the domain, plus tax. There is no profit of any sort realized. Mr. Colecchio’s check shall be recorded as a donation to Save The Tarpon Inc. and reported as such.
2. Issue a written apology to the young mother Mr. Colecchio offended as well as the nearly 2,000 members of Save The Tarpon Inc. This apology will be posted on SaveTheTarpon.com. Mr. Colecchio shall also post his apology as a new thread on the Florida Sportsman Southwest General Fishing & The Outdoors Forum.
3. Once Mr. Colecchio’s apology thread on the Florida Sportsman Southwest General Fishing & The Outdoors Forum reaches 6,277 views, the domain name will be promptly transferred to Mr. Colecchio who shall assume any and all transfer fees. Until said time, it shall remain dormant. And finally,
4. Be nice.