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News Wrecker Parody Newspaper Pokes Fun At Amelia Island’s Sacred Cows

newswreckercoverLast April in this space I announced that I was considering producing the Amelia Island News Wrecker, a satirical newspaper devoted to good naturedly spoofing the island, its history, businesses, government and anything else in my sights and said the target date for publishing it was Shrimp Festival 2015.

Well, I made it, even beating my self-imposed deadline by two weeks. The “free” 20-page tabloid News-Wrecker hit the streets this week and can be picked up in island pubs, restaurants, businesses and selected shops, establishments that were carefully chosen as those that wouldn’t toss me and my newspaper bundles out the door.

The tag line for the paper is “Amelia Island’s sacred cows make the best burgers” and its purpose if to produce laughs without resorting to obscenities and vulgarity, however, it will probably be criticized by some for what they may perceive as “bad taste.” But, I’m taking the high road and a mature approach to the paper’s critics with a well thought out and carefully crafted  “OH YEH!” response.

The idea for the newspaper was motivated by my lifelong devotion to “Mad Magazine” and the “National Lampoon” along with inspiration from the Onion, a national print and online satirical publication. While writing and editing the stories for the Wrecker I embodied Canadian poet Margaret Atwood’s notion “that everyone else my age is an adult whereas I am merely in disguise.”

This inaugural issue of the News Wrecker includes a front page story on how the Fernandina Beach City Commission has decreed that the daily sunset will now alternate between the east and west sides of Amelia Island and the how the town’s shabby South 8th Street has being declared a “scenic highway for the vision impaired.”

Stories inside range from how “tree huggers” are squeezing the life out of the island’s century oaks, an illegal immigrant Powerball jackpot winner moving next door to resident author John Grisham, and how everybody participating in this year’s Shrimp Festival parade will be issued a bullwhip.

If you are sitting next to someone in a pub reading the News Wrecker who thinks the articles are authentic, then you should probably move down a couple of stools.

The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive and from the feedback I’ve received the self-deprecating ads are generating as many guffaws as the absurd stories. Advertisers range from the downtown Hampton Inn & Suites and The Amelia Island Hospitality Group to Second Amendment Outfitters and Amelia River Cruises among others.

The News Wrecker tabloid parody pokes harmless fun at our small but vocal liberal and far right wing populations, local governing bodies, news gathering organizations, the Shrimp Festival, and other area sacred cows with inside page headlines reading “Trident Submarine Fired On From Ft. Clinch” and “T-Ray’s Unveils Hamburger for Left-Handed Folks.”

Joining  me in producing the paper was a very patient and talented Kathy Warner, who currently spends the majority of her time volunteering for the Nassau Humane Society and Nassau County Extension. Without this brilliant, very tolerant and modest lady’s help I’d still be puzzling over how to assemble the paper. She also created the paper’s website, which unlike the print version, will be in full color and available Friday, May 1. If it proves successful, and I have the energy, I’ll publish another just prior to next year’s Shrimp Festival as folks have already begun sending me suggestions for future stories and it has been fun grinding island sacred cows into hamburgers.

Folks interested in advertising or who have story ideas or are seeking abuse can contact me here or at dave@amelianewswrecker.com. If you hate the publication I have no doubt you’ll let me know that too.

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Wait! Don’t I know You? While dropping off a handful of News Wreckers to the 1120 South 14th Street’s Doo Wop Diner, a lady in her late 60s approached me and asked who I was and who published the paper. When I identified myself and told her I was the editor and publisher, she let me have it with both barrels saying: “I don’t like you or anything about you. I don’t like anything you write. You don’t like Obama, you don’t like Democrats, and you don’t like women.” She then turned to leave but paused and asked if she could have another copy of the paper for a friend. I gave her another one and took that opportunity to defend myself saying: “I do so like women.”

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Speaking Of Strange Things: I created a Limited Liability Corporation for the News Wrecker with the appropriate state organization in Tallahassee and this week received a mailed notice with a return postage paid envelope from something called “Florida Sate Compliance” saying I should remit $84.00 to them via check or credit card, payment for materials that I should post in my workplace. In the upper right hand corner in bold capital letters was written “LABOR LAW COMPLIANCE NOTICE and the letter went on to say: “Your business is required by law to post current compliant Employment Law Posters in workplace.” The notice also stated that “Failure to comply with posting regulations can lead to fines up to $17,000.” The notice gives the appearance of being a state agency so I looked this outfit up and discovered it is not a government entity of any kind but a newly formed corporation created in November last year and is NOT affiliated at all with any state agency. A call to the state’s Registration Section of the Division of Corporations assured me that this outfit’s plea was a scam and should be ignored. So if any newly formed companies out there get a similar letter, contact the state at (850) 245-6051 and don’t waste money on these scammers. Any ideas on how these conmen can be put out of business?

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Fast On Her Feet: Anybody who has ever heard the pretty, personable and perspicacious Laura DiBella, the new Nassau County Economic Development Board Director speak, knows she is good on her feet. She is also really fast on them too as she just took first place for the second year in a row in the women’s category of the Seven Mile Bridge Run in the Florida Keys, with a blistering 42:55 time, a feat that made headlines in newspapers around the country. Congratulations to the speedy Ms. DiBella, whose energetic professional efforts are fast making Nassau County a tempting place for businesses to set up shop. The articulate Ms. DiBella provided a snapshot of her organization’s progress during this past Tuesday’s Fernandina Beach City Commission meeting by describing the key industries she is enticing to take a look at relocating here and reasons why they should, factors that made the folks in the audience feel justified by their decisions to call Nassau County home. Companies she is currently talking to employee between 25 and 510 people and include the healthcare, education and energy sectors. She has also enticed folks to take a look at the closed 14th St. movie theater. I can’t imagine a better ambassador for our county.

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Clang! Clang! Clang! Goes The Trolley: Local entrepreneur and investor Ernie Saltmarsh made a proposal to the city commissioners this past Tuesday for a pilot trolley route that would take passengers in a loop from downtown, to Main Beach on Fletcher, up Sadler and then down South 8th Street with 19 stops saying local businesses are willing to contribute and asking would the city kick in some funding as well? Ernie is suggesting a $3.00 fee if business and city subsidies are mixed in, as without it he says a per ride ticket would be an exorbitant 7-10 bucks. City Manager Joe Gerrity and the commissioners gushed over the concept and all agreed to a trial date between this coming Memorial Day to Labor Day. Day long passes and residential tickets are among incentives being considered says Ernie.

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Emotions Still Heated At The Firehouse: Local Firefighter Union leader Chett Lyncker told the commission this past Tuesday that so far in the department’s squabble with the city “nothing has happened but a shuffling of chiefs and that the issue has now been escalated to the national level as, according to Lyncker the situation continues to deteriorate with declining morale eventually going to have an impact on public safety. Commissioner Robin Lentz chimed in on the side of the firefighters harshly questioning City Manager Joe Geritty who snapped back and defended his actions saying he “considers the issues resolved. Morale doesn’t turn around in a snap,” he testily responded while also claiming that a nationwide search for a new fire chief is progressing with a number of applications already received. Geritty, who has seen his support on the commission deteriorate the past few months, doesn’t look or act happy and it appears to many that his days as city manager may be numbered. Commissioners Pat Gass and Johnny Miller, two of his supporters, are not much help with the voices in the head of Ms. Gass acting confused while Mr. Miller is preoccupied with liberal global issues and is currently asking anyone who will listen to send him money for his trip to Washington, DC so he can save the world from plastic bags.

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 Overheard At Wednesday Night’s Crab Trap 50 Cent Wing Night: “If the ban-the-plastic-bag folks have their way, it’ll be interesting to see how kids coming home from school carnivals and fairs will transport the goldfish they won as they’ll need to get home fast if they have to carry their newly acquired prize in a paper sack.”

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Affordable? Forty-one percent of small businesses surveyed have frozen hiring because of the Affordable Healthcare Act known as ObamaCare. Almost one-fifth (19 percent) answered “yes” when asked if they had “reduced the number of employees you have in your business as a specific result of the Affordable Care Act.” Another 38 percent of the small business owners said they “have pulled back on their plans to grow their business” because of ObamaCare. Source: CNBC.com

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Drinking, Dining & Dancing: I’ve been invited to join Steve and Donna Raszkin of A Taste of Wine By Steve at their 4924 First Coast Highway location this evening beginning at 5 pm. for their weekly Friday wine tasting and to distribute copies of the News Wrecker to wine sippers, so come join us for some interesting wines and a few laughs until 7 pm. I’ve heard that the Centre Street Courtyard Pub has been sold but that piano man John Springer is still limited to just Thursday evenings, a move that the new owners should definitely reconsider. I’ve heard the new owners are considering a name change and new concept but every time I’ve ever been in the Courtyard when John is at the keyboard, the place is packed with folks eating, drinking, singing and having fun so why not capitalize on that successful format or maybe the new owners are similar to the former one and consider customers a nuisance. If not, they need to figure out a formula that satisfies all parties. I’ve heard very strong rumors from very reliable sources that the building that housed the short-lived Palate and was once home to Bonito’s, at the corner of Centre and South 7th Street will soon be occupied by Ciao, with an interesting new concept and that Ciao will stay where it is on the corner of its very successful Centre and South 3rd Street location.    

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Closed City Commission Lawsuit Meeting, Central Park Master Plan Provoke Interest

Confusion concept.The downtown Fernandina Beach ball fields at Central Park and a closed city meeting on the “sidewalk to nowhere” are items that continued to provoke interest the past week.

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Sidewalk To Nowhere Still Going Nowhere; City Stiffs Poynter & Pokes Self in the Eye

Jen NilesSo far the “Sidewalk to Nowhere” that doesn’t go anywhere from the West corner of Centre Street alongside the Duryee Building to the front of the Salty Pelican is still going nowhere and nobody I’ve talked to knows anything about when or if it may go somewhere.

This bizarre situation gained local notoriety more than two years ago when Massachusetts visitor Jen Niles, pictured above a few weeks ago still unsuccessfully attempting to get from Centre Street to the Pelican, was catapulted out of her wheelchair. From the above photo it is obvious she still can’t successfully navigate the gravel, railroad tracks, dirt obstacles and parked vehicles that clog the disputed route.

In a letter to the local News-Leader recently attorney John Cascone, who has an office above the Marina Restaurant in the Duryee Building, says there never was a sidewalk there, ever, and adds that the current owner of the Marina Restaurant there has been more than generous in her offers to the city to help; local citizens in comments to me and in the local paper say otherwise; the city says only that it is waiting for CSX to approve plans to construct a sidewalk that they said was to have begun “right after Thanksgiving” last year; and I’ve talked to three different folks at CSX in government relations and public relations offices this week who are still scurrying around their corporate maze trying to come up with a response.

The strip of property at issue is sandwiched between Front Street, the Duryee building and CSX railroad tracks and has lots of folks pointing fingers, getting red faced, confused or clamming up. The losers here are visitors to downtown, those in wheelchairs or using walkers and canes and pushing baby carriages or strollers, trying to make their way to the Salty Pelican, as well as the owners of the Pelican, who actually privately financed their own sidewalk and even generously offered to pay for the nowhere one if only someone would just approve it.

The city was visited by folks from Washington, DC, who told the town Palookas they were in violation of the Americans for Disabilities Act and warned them to take action. So far that visit has resulted in some changes made to a CSX rail crossing and Front Street but the sidewalk to nowhere still leads there.

Two and a half years ago when I penned the Dave’s World column for the News Leader, the paper’s Editor Michael Parnell and Publish Foy Maloy, edited all mention of the controversial sidewalk out of my columns. In one column they also eliminated the fact that a directional arrow sign purchased by the Pelican from the city that was placed by city employees, not on the corner street lamp like all others in town, but atop a light pole in the downtown marina parking lot where it went unnoticed by all but a few seagulls. It has since been placed on the street lamp in front of the Marina Restaurant.

When I complained about the paper’s editing Maloy sent me the following curt response, leading me to believe there was, and is obviously, still some kind of good ‘ole boy conspiracy afoot to leave things just the way they are and treat old friends with a light touch while displaying contempt for newcomers:

On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 11:24 AM, Foy Maloy <fmaloy@fbnewsleader.com> wrote:

Good morning.

I thought I made myself pretty clear in our lengthy conversation last Friday – I sated that I would no longer publish anything further about the Salty Pelican or the Marina Restaurant until the numerous messy situations are dealt with by the City.

Sorry for any misunderstanding you may have had.

Foy Maloy, Publisher

News-Leader

Nassau County Record

511 Ash Street

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

Folks, don’t look for a short term fix here. Maybe the rubble-strewn strip can be turned into a tourist attraction devoted to the ineptitude of local government, stupidity, corporate bureaucracy and a media cover up. Oh wait, it already is.

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What The Heck Is Going On Here Department: Forget any false allegations about Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Tim Poynter abusing his elected position to influence the town’s decision making process for his personal and business gain as yesterday the city shot down Poynter’s proposal to construct an extended stay facility, telling him that parking was an issue, a hollow argument that doesn’t hold water. The city should be falling all over itself to encourage downtown business ventures that increase revenue, provide jobs and tax money, but instead this group of bungling bozos are looking for ways to squelch revenue and tax base producing enterprises. If I was a resident of the downtown historic residential area anywhere near the North 5th Street old Baptist Church education center, I would have done everything I could to ensure that local restaurateur Poynter was successful in leasing and converting this decomposing  building into a tax paying, attractive facility to lodge guests who want extended stays. Poynter’s prospective customers weren’t migrant field hands, but business executives on extended trips; those building or renovating a house; people visiting family or friends that don’t have adequate space for them in their homes; house hunters; among others. So what was the beef here? For the past nine years the three-story church building has sat almost totally vacant and decaying with the exception of a small part of the first floor being used temporarily by St. Michaels, and that will end as soon as that Catholic Church’s construction is final in a few weeks. So the area will have an almost 50-year-old structure sitting totally empty with no heating, ventilation and air conditioning units running, a condition that will inevitably lead to more decay. And since Poynter’s proposal didn’t get approved, what’s to stop someone else from coming in, buying the property, tearing it down and building something the neighbors or inept city officials like even less? Instead of playing the role of “Grumpy Old Man,” Ron Sapp, a resident of the area and a fierce vocal opponent of the project, should have been cheering Poynter onward, instead of trying to turn the clock back to 1955. Or maybe Mr. Sapp was hoping the building would fall on Mr. Poynter and then when Mr. Sapp tapped his magical red slippers together, Pop Tate’s Malt Shop would suddenly appear with Archie and Jughead sitting at the counter. There was no sane reason to oppose Poynter’s plan and if you read the local News Leader’s opposition to the site, you’ll realize that sanity and objectivity fled that company’s building long ago. Good grief people, grab your pitch forks and torches and march on city hall as something is drastically wrong there because the Frankenstein monster is running our town.         

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Thinking Out Loud: The folks in charge of the Shrimp Festival announced that they have selected a design by out-of-town artist Steve Whitlock as the winning design for a variety of the May 1-3 festival’s official stuff for sale including T-shirts, tote bags, etc. Mr. Whitlock’s design is well done, but I’m wondering why we don’t limit the design competition to local artists. We have galleries full of folks who are handy with a brush and pallet and boast degrees as impressive, if not more so, than Mr. Whitlock’s. Just wondering.

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Maybe They’re Paid By The Word: I like football as much as the next guy, but good grief, basketball season just ended and baseball season just started, but you could never tell that by reading the Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union, which treats every day like its opening day for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a hapless NFL team whose season ended more than three months ago with just three victories. Either the sports writers have a contest going among themselves to see who can produce the most column inches of copy about the Jaguars in the off season or these guys are paid by the word. I’ve haven’t seen a newspaper so over the top about an organization since the New York Times’ daily attacks on the George W. Bush administration

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I’m Buying This Book: I’m always delighted when flipping through the Weekend Wall Street Journal’s Review section to find a book review by Ed Kosner, Amelia Island resident and former editor of Newsweek, New York, Esquire, and the New York Daily News. As an avid baseball fan this article convinced me to buy the reviewed book and provides a variety of reasons other fans will too. Kosner paints a fascinating verbal picture of New York Times Sports Department staffer Bill Pennington’s 530-page “Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius” adding insights of his own saying: “Martin would motivate players by telling them that teammates were gunning for their jobs and talking against them,” a tactic that would always backfire on the mercurial manager, says Kosner, as it would cause him to lose the clubhouse loyalty in about two seasons, when they figured out he was playing them off against each other. Kosner, who the review’s bio says attended his first Yankee game in 1947, describes Martin’s personality as described by Pennington in a colorful fashion and is as entertaining as the book, summing up the fiery baseball legend as “….the runty, pugnacious second baseman of the Yankees…..Martin wore No. 1 on his pinstriped back and was always first in his own mind.” If Kosner’s call-to-action was to convince readers to buy this book it worked.

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Speaking Of Books: For those readers who know who Shelby Steele is they’re probably aware of  his new book: “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country.” Those unfamiliar with Mr. Steele can learn a lot from this fascinating man, particularly in light of the left’s frenzy over the shootings of black men by police in Ferguson, MO, Cleveland, New York City and so on. The 69-year-old Steele is an American author, columnist, documentary film maker, and a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution specializing in the study of race relations, multiculturalism and affirmative action. He is also counted among that elite group of people calling themselves “black conservatives.” In his book Mr. Steele explains why he gave up the liberal ideology and turned to conservatism, saying that he identifies with a former liberalism that launched the civil rights movement: “that liberalism, which sought freedom for the individual above all else.” But “liberalism in the 21st Century,” says Steele is, “for the most part a moral manipulation that exaggerates inequity and unfairness in American life in order to justify overreaching public policies and programs.” In the book he refers to a comment he made as the lone conservative on a panel when he said he wanted an end to white guilt. “White people,” he said, were “crushing blacks with paternalism in an attempt to show themselves innocent of racism. That was bad for whites, bad for blacks,– bad for America.” The liberal audience reacted to those comments as though he’d just donned a KKK robe. The book is short (208 pages) but packed with solid thinking and is a worthy read.

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One of America’s Top 10 Disgusting People: Sleaze ball and liar Harry Reid (D-NV), the US Senate Minority Leader, stood on the floor of the US Senate and knowingly used that prestigious platform to protect himself from lying when he said during the 2012 election that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years. This raspy-voiced phony, who has no redeeming qualities, today stands by that statement saying “He lost didn’t he” as a valid excuse. Mitt Romney’s tax returns show that he paid $60 million dollars in taxes over his working lifetime so far, with that money going to support welfare, food stamps, and other so called entitlements, while community organizers who hand out forms to folks who want some of the benefits paid for from his tax money, pay nothing, and get the money that people like Mitt Romney and other wealthy people have taken from them by the federal government. And Mr. Romney’s tax money is in addition to the jobs that people like him created to help folks buy houses, cars, groceries, etc. Shouldn’t the current administration stop demonizing wealthy people’s success and encourage others to follow their example thus generating more taxes and jobs? Oh, wait, what am I thinking? A person like Harry Reid in the US Senate is a disgrace to this country and his party should be ashamed…but they aren’t.

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Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Did I mention that I’m no longer persona non grata at the Centre Street Courtyard Pub & Grill? After being told to “get out” a few weeks ago by an irate owner who took offense to my comments about his place in this space, I wandered back in with my wife, Linda, and two cousins from the Tampa Bay area’s Indian Rocks Beach and received a pleasant welcome from the owner, who even sent me a beer on the house. Piano man John Springer was at his best as usual and my cousins were delighted with the joint. Yesterday, I stopped by again and Mr. Springer was once again receiving heart-felt applause from an appreciative audience. If you want to impress out-of-town guests take them to hear John Springer any Thursday evening at the Courtyard, 6:30-9:30 pm.

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News-Leader’s Foaming-At-Mouth Reporting Aims at Poynter & Shoots Self in Foot Again

Shooting Yourself In The FootThe headline on the page 1 lead story in Wednesday’s, April 1 local News-Leader blared “Business, politics are mixing again” but nowhere in the story about local restaurateur and City Commissioner Tim Poynter’s plans to develop an “extended-stay” hotel in downtown Fernandina Beach was there a mention of how politics are playing a role.

The News-Leader publisher Foy Maloy and his lame-duck editor Michael Parnell for some reason have a personal vendetta against Mr. Poynter and the “news” pages of their paper are slanted to paint that distorted picture.

As a businessman is Mr. Poynter supposed to ignore any local economic opportunity he sees because he ran for and won a local political office that pays him about $12,000 a year? That works out to about $5.75 cents an hour. And don’t tell me these folks don’t put in 40 hour weeks as commissioners. Try being a commissioner and answering your phone day and night, dealing with constituent questions, attending late night and weekend meetings, workshops, etc. and say you don’t put in that many hours or more in addition to your regular job, if you have one. I don’t agree with some of the decisions made by these elected officials, but I can’t deny they put in long hours for a thankless job.

Poynter wants to purchase the former First Baptist Church education building on North Fifth Street, near Alachua and convert it into a 24-30 room extended stay hotel, just a few blocks from the Cafe Karibo and Timoti’s Seafood Shak restaurants on North 3rd Street, that he and his wife Theresa operate.

During my corporate career I stayed in a number of extended stay facilities in the US and Europe on the company’s dime during temporary assignments or while house hunting in a new community. I liked them and so did my family. A facility such as this would only bring more people downtown, generate additional spending, and improve the area despite what local nay sayers claim. One said it would “erode the integrity of the historic district….” Really? How? By improving it? I guess he would rather it stood empty and deteriorate.

Poynter may rub some people the wrong way because he is opinionated, often loud, and argumentative. But he is also very smart. I know him and like him. He’s got a wicked sense of humor, I enjoy debating with him and personally know that he is a very honest man with the best interests of his family and the community at heart. On this issue he told me: “My interest is investing in a sound opportunity to better myself, my family and the community.”

Maybe the News-Leader headline is about Poynter trying to dodge a financial bullet. He’s on a tight permit deadline because he’s trying to beat the May 15 date that impact fees for water and sewer will increase. He even said about beating the deadline that “anybody can do this up to May 15 and I want to go on record as saying that.”  He is 100 percent correct.

Look folks, you and I don’t want to pay more taxes or fees than we have to right? As April 15 approaches we do everything we can to legally avoid paying more taxes than necessary. So why should Poynter be any different just because he’s a city commissioner? He’s not breaking any laws and you and I would do exactly the same thing. So what the heck does the News-Leader’s headline mean?

On page 3A the paper published a sidebar story headlined “Neighbors opposed” that implied that Poynter may be getting “favorable treatment” from the city without any facts to back it up. Nothing! The story went on to say that “among allegations leveled against Poynter in his reelection campaign was that he used his city commission seat to attain special treatment in obtaining permits for expanding his restaurant complex…..”

What this pathetic newspaper failed to say was that it was its editor who made those allegations. And that they were false. Prevarication, denigration and paranoia have become the hallmarks of the News-Leader.

Also, one of those neighbors who the News Leader reports as opposed to Poynter’s plan and who the paper says has a concern that he is getting favorable treatment from the city is former commissioner Ron Sapp, a liberal Fernandina Beach High School teacher and regular opinion-editorial page contributor to the paper. It appears that a central component of the paper’s attacks is to recruit one of its lackey op-ed liberals to aid in making paranoid accusations based on its neurotic impulses.

When the News-Leader went after Poynter during the election late last year it came out of that fray with its “news nose” bloodied and looking downright stupid when it ran an above-the-fold front page story headlined “Restaurateur seeks commission ‘seat'” bylined by Parnell. What followed was a detailed piece about all the laws, permitting rules, and regulations that Poynter meticulously followed while opening and expanding his downtown eateries. In a vain attempt to discredit the candidate, Parnell tried his best to portray him as someone who took advantage of his commission seat to get around the various permitting and regulations. He came up empty handed and looking as foolish as the paper has again this time.

From what I’ve heard on the street, it was that sleazy, transparent and baseless attack that pushed Poynter over the top in the election, the exact opposite of what the paper intended.

The News-Leader didn’t have much direction before Parnell announced his upcoming retirement and at this point it’s upside down in a ditch. I wonder what the new editor’s performance plan will include when it comes to covering the city commission, particularly in light of Publisher Foy Maloy’s irrational dislike of Commissioner Poynter.

Whatever credibility this newspaper had left, it just flushed down Public Utility Director John Mandrick’s illegal impact fee sewer line.

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Speaking Of Illegal Impact Fees: The most coherent piece published in this past Wednesday’s News-Leader was a Viewpoint opinion-editorial (Fees neither lawful nor fair) by local businessman, investor and lawyer Pat Keogh that ripped City Manager Joe Gerrity’s defense of the city’s “capacity fees,” to shreds. Not only does Mr. Keogh destroy Gerrity’s argument about the reason for these fees, he also rightfully blasts the city’s current effort to refund money based on its prior illegal impact fees saying: “If I ever managed trust funds the way the city manages its trust funds I would have been disbarred.”  What we appear to have here is former mayor Joe Gerrity directing an illegal scheme to pay for an overpriced water utility (FPU) and sending his not too subtle enforcer Public Utilities Director John Mandrick out to strong arm local businesses into paying or be shutdown. I think there’s a movie in here somewhere.

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What Makes A Person A Celebrity? The other day I was walking though the back garden patio of the downtown Florida House when an acquaintance approached me saying: “Dave, there’s a celebrity inside.” I asked “who” and she said, “Tim Deegan.” I said the name was somewhat familiar but that I wasn’t sure who Tim Deegan is and was told that he’s the veteran meteorologist on Jacksonville’s First Coast News (WTLV TV-12 and WJXX TV-25). I’m sure that being the weatherman on a local TV station for the past 33 years is an admirable profession and he’s become a familiar face to many, so I guess that makes him a celebrity if you define  “celebrity” as a person who is well known for a variety of reasons, good or bad. That got me to thinking that we have a lot of local folks who fit that definition, and following is a list of locals that I think fall into the “good” celebrity category:  Most of us know Pajamadave Voorhees, a likeable, fun boat captain turned shop keeper entrepreneur who makes us smile and laugh out loud. Or Crystal Foster, Pashence Marie, and Heidi Grexa, congenial and incredibly sexy Amelia Island Hospitality Group employees who always offer a smile and a friendly “hello” along with a cold beer. Or Choo Choo Germano, the amicable, generous and jovial owner of the downtown Crab Trap, the past 25 years; Laura DiBella, the personable, pretty and energetic Director of the Nassau County Board of Economic Development who is working overtime to attract more economic growth to our area; anyone courageous and thick skinned enough to run for the  Fernandina Beach City Commission; Felix Jones, local peddler of pineapples, Cracker Jacks and his mama’s cookies who can also belt out blues tunes on his harmonica; T-Ray Mullis who can cook breakfast and burgers and still carry on a conversation with his T-Ray’s Burger Station lunch counter regulars; Mark Keller, manager and pizza maker at Tony’s New York Style Brick Oven Pizzeria next to Publix, who makes the difficult task of twirling dough look easy; Charlie Taylor, Atlantic Seafood fish monger who never seems to have a bad day; Dan Voll, local guitarist and singer with a salt-life style so cool and unique he’s constantly in demand despite hailing from some desolate Godforsaken northern wasteland; piano man John Springer, our tuxedo clad, legendary pianist who knows more songs than most of us know song titles, who has played for presidents and royalty; George Morris, Flying Fish jet ski owner and naturalist who can guide folks through area marshes and coves blindfolded; Kevin McCarthy, who heads up the Amelia River Cruises and can recite the history of the area in a manner so intriguing you don’t want him to stop talking; Philippe Boets, affable Belgian-born resident who introduced the island to the peculiar sport of petanque creating the largest club of its kind in the country; Ricky Pigg, owner of Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro eatery who looks more like a professional wrestler than a gourmet chef; Charlie Freeman, retired AT&T employee and expert fisherman who lives aboard his Tiger Point Marina based-boat named “No Dial Tone;” Mary Gorman, the pretty pistol-packing mama, who went from a CPA to owner of firing range and gun shop Second Amendment Outfitters, upon the tragic and sudden death of his husband Mike almost two years ago; the gregarious Barb Kent, retired US Navy officer and owner of three area consignment Buy Gones locations, who, if you mention the word “party” will instantly throw one; Bob Tidball, the quirky Canadian-born owner of the Addison House B&B who can be found at certain times of the day having a PBR at the Palace or Green Turtle with his dog Maggie seated on the stool next to him; lawyer Clinch Kavanaugh, a seventh generation island resident who is a refreshing thorn in the side of the local city government;  The businessman trio of Ernie Saltmarsh, Don Shaw and George Sheffield who have quietly done more good for this community through their restoration, acquisition and investment efforts that any other group of people I could name; Cal Atwood, retired university educator who fought across Iwo Jima as a US Marine in 1945 and today is a guy you always want to join you for a cold one or lunch; Patrick Keogh, suave, outspoken entrepreneur, businessman, lawyer and investor whose straight talking makes nervous city officials shudder; Mrs. Joan Bean, who has been providing dance lessons from her downtown North 3rd Street location for more than 60 years, the mother of State Senator Aaron Bean, and a lady who could probably be just as successful as a stand-up comedienne.  There are many I failed to list but will at a later date and please let me know what local you think deserves a shout out.

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Got Old Man Rhythm In Your Shoes? Then as the popular song written many years ago says: “it’s no use sittin’ here singin’ the blues, so be my guest, you got nothin’ to lose, won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise?” And that’s exactly what Amelia River Cruises is getting ready to do as it announced its lineup of popular live-music sunset adult BYOB two-hour outings from the downtown Fernandina Beach Harbor piloted by eccentric and funny captain Pajamadave Voorhees. These fun cruises are conducted every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:30-8:30 in April with local musicians playing aboard each. Bring whatever you want to drink and eat and sit back and enjoy the music and salt air, dolphins, exotic birds, and more. To book a reservation call ’em at 904/261-9972, go to ameliarivercruises.com or visit them at the little white kiosk at 1 North Front St. Special Easter and Shrimp Festival excursions are also listed. These are lots of fun and fill up fast folks so book early to reserve your “sea cruise.”

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Things I wish I’d said: “Hillary Clinton, like Paris Hilton, Nancy Pelosi and Kim Kardashian, is one of those females who is famous for nothing. Nothing, that is, aside from marrying Bill Clinton, from which her entire political career derives.”– Burt Prelutsky.

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 More Things I Wish I’d Said And So Does Burt: “Jonah Goldberg delivered a classic critique of Hillary Clinton’s speeches I wish I could claim as my own: ‘I am woman, hear me bore.’ ” Burt Prelutsky

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Illinois’ Shame: In my opinion one of the creepiest and nastiest people anywhere in Washington, D.C. next to Harry Reid (D-NV) is US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) who recently said that the reason the confirmation of Loretta Lynch — Obama’s choice to head up the Department of Justice — is going so slow is because senate Republicans are racists who are reluctant to see the first black woman installed as Attorney General. Really? I wonder why Senator Durbin voted against confirming Condoleezza Rice as the first black female Secretary of State under George W. Bush? Was it because she was black? Or perhaps because she was a black Republican woman? This is the same Dick Durbin who compared Americans running the Guantanamo prison to Nazis, Soviets and the Khmer Rouge. Durbin is a slimy, bigoted, hypocrite and the people of Illinois should be ashamed that he is their representative. But, he is just one of that failed state’s many problems.

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Contact Golf Without the Clubbings Has Arrived At Fernandina Beach’s Public Course

Footgolf sport in the NetherlandsI always thought that if golf was a contact sport it would be more interesting and exciting. And I don’t mean contact golf the way Tiger Woods’ ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, interpreted it when she clobbered her then husband with a nine-iron upon discovering his serial cheating habits.

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