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City Commission has Bigger Fish to Fry Than Bag Bans, Dogs, Chicken Coops & Water Slides

cartoonIn an insightful piece titled “How’s City Government Working for You?” written for the online newspaper Fernandina Observer Monday, May 12, Suanne Z. Thammprovides her perspective on political ailments that impede our town’s progress in her 20 years of observation and it differs very little from what I’ve observed in just three years.

While the city faces key, long-tem issues such as beach renourishment, downtown development, particularly the waterfront; court-declared illegal impact fees that are driving businesses away; an unsustainable pension fund situation; the Standard Marine Building future; the sidewalk and safety issue along Front Street, among others, we watch astounded as our city commissioners – as Ms. Thamm eloquently puts it – “…..grind on from commission to commission and manager to manager with little progress on the most important challenges facing our city and its ability to prosper in the future.”

What we get instead are inane debates over back-yard chicken coops, banning plastic bags, dogs on patio restaurants, commission seating arrangements, inflatable water slides, and whether proclamations are deserved or not, not exactly what the electorate expected or wants. As Ms. Thamm says, lots of taxpayer money has been spent on studies that now sit on shelves gathering dust while disillusioned citizens scratch their heads wondering what happened to the results of these study groups and why important issues are being ignored.

This coming election provides local citizens an opportunity to break up the Curly, Larry and Moe cabal, and let the commission survivors know that it’s time to stop with the silly personal agenda stuff and move on to the issues critical to the community’s future.

And speaking of silly stuff, when will the commission get an update from local resident Lynn Williams on the $8,000 he was awarded a year ago for a dredging experiment?

***

A Very Public Flogging: I have been flogged on the public square that is Facebook over my comments about the Shrimp Festival Parade whip guy when I said he looked like a cowboy cracking a whip to me and not a “plantation garbed slave master.” The guy with the whip said he was portraying a Florida “cracker” and – call me naïve – but I can’t imagine that anyone in their right mind would actually march in a parade with the intention of portraying a plantation slave flogger in 2014. The extreme intolerance on Facebook by those who disagreed with me knows no boundaries as I was the subject of rambling, disjointed diatribes by occasional Fernandina Beach News Leader opinion writer Joe Palmer, a warming from Fernandina Observer editor and former town mayor Susan Steger to “watch my tongue as there are many thoughtful people who disagree with you.” For voicing my contradictory views these “thoughtful” folks called me an “old white man with a vile personality” and “creepy,” among other things. However, I haven’t heard a peep of protest from these thoughtful people about the June unveiling of a downtown statue to David Yulee, our very own version of Al Capp’s Jubilation T. Cornpone, who was an outspoken slavery advocate who built a cross state railroad on the backs of his slaves and was imprisoned as a war criminal following the Civil War. In one of his rant’s Mr. Palmer said: “We can’t ignore the contributions Yulee made to this area despite his other onerous activities” and that my argument would be better served if I focused on the name changing of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School in Jacksonville. Eh, Joe, how’d we get from a Fernandina parade controversy to a Jacksonville High School? He also added that there should be a disclaimer on the statue saying that “….although he (Yulee) was a historical figure he was also a slaver and a war criminal.” The one thing I agree on that Mr. Palmer had so say, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that plaque to be forged. Next year I want to march in the parade dressed as David Yulee, our town hero.

***

Susan Sings A Sexy Song: Our island boasts a boatload of very talented musicians and that includes singer Susan Galleon, wife of friend Flip, who has just released her very first jazz ballad, “Lovers Holding Hands,” a song now available on iTunes and Amazon.com as a single and worth listening to by going to Susan’s site at www.OceanbirdMusic.com or by buying it at one of the two other sites.

***

BBQ Bluster: I’m beginning to think that those folks who review restaurants on sites like TripAdvsor, etc. not only are related to the eatery’s owners or paid to put up favorable comments, but also drink heavily, as a TripAdvisor poll just a week or so ago lists Georgia’s as the best BBQ in the US with North Carolina second and Texas coming in third. If they only voted for pork, then maybe Georgia and NC might top the list, but folks, brisket is number one in my book and it’s obvious those voting didn’t try it or Texas would have won hands down as there’s nothing better than a slab of BBQ Texas brisket, a couple slices of thickly cut raw onion, a side of pinto beans, and a handful of pickled jalapenos served on butcher paper and all washed down with an ice cold Lone Star. By the way Florida came in seventh on this somewhat suspect poll and Illinois make the top 10 coming in eighth. Illinois BBQ? What the….?

***

Speaking of BBQ: We have some terrific BBQ cook offs on the island including the nationally sanctioned Great Southern Tailgate event this August 22-23, but other than a couple of chain places, one in Yule and another on island near Shave Bridge, not one home grown BBQ joint since Island BBQ, behind Hammerhead closed down. Surely there is someone hereabouts who has always wanted to open a decent BBQ place using their granddad’s secret sauce recipe. I know US BBQ owned by the local Hooper family does really great BBQ, but apparently prefers to handle catering rather than putting down roots. Call ‘em at 904/556-1652 or 904/753-6203 to cater your next soiree.

***

Where’s The Beef? I just read that Burger King is ditching its 40-year-old tag line “Have It Your Way” in favor of a new “Be Your Way” slogan that it says is intended to remind people that “they should live how they want anytime.” I’m assuming that they’re admitting they have an inferior product and intend to deflect attention away from it and dispense counseling instead. So, unless Burger King is selling cold beer and employing barkeeps, I’ll probably head elsewhere for a sympathetic ear and skip their drive-through therapy session. I also don’t understand Taco Bell’s new “Live Mas” slogan so will skip them for spiritual guidance and bypass McDonalds if they decide to offer financial advice. Or am I missing something here? Does “Be Your Way” whet your appetite for a burger or “Live Mas” for a taco? If not then I think the folks that run the marketing departments in these fast food joints need to watch a few episodes of Mad Men, as they obviously live in a bubble and have no idea what’s going on in the world around them. In the meantime I’ll be on my way to live mas somewhere else.

***

Cruising In Style: The Sheffield’s have recently purchased two boats, both of which are for hire for fishing or just cruising. One is a 36’ Yellow Fin with three 300 hp engines named Punch Cup and in good conditions she can get to the Gulf Stream in a little over an hour. The second boat is a 54’ Viking named Pirates Punch and has three staterooms each with a sink, toilet and shower. They have hired a full time Captain, Spencer Ross, and you can get more info at their website www.piratespunchcharters.com or call ‘em at 904/753-2266.

***

Thoughts Worth Thinking About: “Until we can reestablish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty.” – Calvin Coolidge.

***

More Presidential Wisdom: In a letter he wrote January 3, 1919 to the American Defense Society, and which was read publicly January 5, the day before he died, President Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States said: “We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.”

***

Tilting At Windmills: Eliminating all the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions forever would impact temperatures by less than two-tenths of one degree by 2100, research indicates. Source: Cato Institute via Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

***

Something’s Very Wrong Here: Democrat politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000 per plate campaign fund-raising event and accuse the rich folks – who pay 86% of all income taxes – of not paying their “fair share.” And those who don’t pay any income taxes at all holler the loudest.

***

Explain This Mr. Obama: How does this administration explain providing US Army traitor Bradley Manning sex change treatment while so far it has been reported that some 40 US military veterans have died while waiting for medical care at Veteran Administration hospitals. The imprisoned Manning, as a US Army private, released the most classified documents ever, putting many US citizens at risk of death, while the deceased and dying veterans put their lives at stake protecting American citizens. Good grief!

***

Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Townies new location at 819 T.J. Courson Road in front of the Winn Dixie and Wal-Mart, is now selling beer and wine and you can have a very happy happy hour there from 2-6 pm daily with a two buck 16 ounce tall boy of Rolling Rock while munching on a two buck slice. Bud Lite and other similar brews are also available as is wine. Tony’s, next to the Sadler Road Publix also features $2.00 12 ounce draughts and $2.70 slices with happy hour all day long. Our favorite English expatriate Brian Grimley, owner and chef at downtown’s South 7th St. Lulu’s at The Thompson House, was featured this past Monday morning between 11:30 and noon on Jacksonville’s Channel 11 First Coast Living show, touting his popular eatery and offering cooking tips. I love toffee and as a kid in Canada used to enjoy McIntosh bars, freezing them, then smacking them on the counter to snack on the frozen bits, but McIntosh stopped making them and I’ve discovered good toffee is very hard to find until I ran into Anita Comisky at an ABC Liquor wine tasting last month. Ms. Comisky, who operates Sarasota Toffee, in Fernandina Beach, was handing out samples of her homemade stuff and it was really good, so if you want some go to www.SarasotaToffeeCompany.com. Palace Saloon barkeep and City Commissioner Johnny Miller certainly hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to fixing an outrageous Bloody Mary, as he served me one last Sunday that was an entire meal including low country boil ingredients sausage, potato, crab legs, crawfish, etc. all cooked up in a Georgia dark ale and as tasty as any I’ve eaten even without the Bloody Mary. Let’s bring back the downtown Bloody Mary battles.

 

City Commission has Bigger Fish to Fry Than Bag Bans, Dogs, Chicken Coops & Water Slides

cartoonIn an insightful piece titled “How’s City Government Working for You?” written for the online newspaper Fernandina Observer Monday, May 12, Suanne Z. Thammprovides her perspective on political ailments that impede our town’s progress in her 20 years of observation and it differs very little from what I’ve observed in just three years.

While the city faces key, long-tem issues such as beach renourishment, downtown development, particularly the waterfront; court-declared illegal impact fees that are driving businesses away; an unsustainable pension fund situation; the Standard Marine Building future; the sidewalk and safety issue along Front Street, among others, we watch astounded as our city commissioners – as Ms. Thamm eloquently puts it – “…..grind on from commission to commission and manager to manager with little progress on the most important challenges facing our city and its ability to prosper in the future.”

What we get instead are inane debates over back-yard chicken coops, banning plastic bags, dogs on patio restaurants, commission seating arrangements, inflatable water slides, and whether proclamations are deserved or not, not exactly what the electorate expected or wants. As Ms. Thamm says, lots of taxpayer money has been spent on studies that now sit on shelves gathering dust while disillusioned citizens scratch their heads wondering what happened to the results of these study groups and why important issues are being ignored.

This coming election provides local citizens an opportunity to break up the Curly, Larry and Moe cabal, and let the commission survivors know that it’s time to stop with the silly personal agenda stuff and move on to the issues critical to the community’s future.

And speaking of silly stuff, when will the commission get an update from local resident Lynn Williams on the $8,000 he was awarded a year ago for a dredging experiment?

***

A Very Public Flogging: I have been flogged on the public square that is Facebook over my comments about the Shrimp Festival Parade whip guy when I said he looked like a cowboy cracking a whip to me and not a “plantation garbed slave master.” The guy with the whip said he was portraying a Florida “cracker” and – call me naïve – but I can’t imagine that anyone in their right mind would actually march in a parade with the intention of portraying a plantation slave flogger in 2014. The extreme intolerance on Facebook by those who disagreed with me knows no boundaries as I was the subject of rambling, disjointed diatribes by occasional Fernandina Beach News Leader opinion writer Joe Palmer, a warming from Fernandina Observer editor and former town mayor Susan Steger to “watch my tongue as there are many thoughtful people who disagree with you.” For voicing my contradictory views these “thoughtful” folks called me an “old white man with a vile personality” and “creepy,” among other things. However, I haven’t heard a peep of protest from these thoughtful people about the June unveiling of a downtown statue to David Yulee, our very own version of Al Capp’s Jubilation T. Cornpone, who was an outspoken slavery advocate who built a cross state railroad on the backs of his slaves and was imprisoned as a war criminal following the Civil War. In one of his rant’s Mr. Palmer said: “We can’t ignore the contributions Yulee made to this area despite his other onerous activities” and that my argument would be better served if I focused on the name changing of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School in Jacksonville. Eh, Joe, how’d we get from a Fernandina parade controversy to a Jacksonville High School? He also added that there should be a disclaimer on the statue saying that “….although he (Yulee) was a historical figure he was also a slaver and a war criminal.” The one thing I agree on that Mr. Palmer had so say, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that plaque to be forged. Next year I want to march in the parade dressed as David Yulee, our town hero.

***

Susan Sings A Sexy Song: Our island boasts a boatload of very talented musicians and that includes singer Susan Galleon, wife of friend Flip, who has just released her very first jazz ballad, “Lovers Holding Hands,” a song now available on iTunes and Amazon.com as a single and worth listening to by going to Susan’s site at www.OceanbirdMusic.com or by buying it at one of the two other sites.

***

BBQ Bluster: I’m beginning to think that those folks who review restaurants on sites like TripAdvsor, etc. not only are related to the eatery’s owners or paid to put up favorable comments, but also drink heavily, as a TripAdvisor poll just a week or so ago lists Georgia’s as the best BBQ in the US with North Carolina second and Texas coming in third. If they only voted for pork, then maybe Georgia and NC might top the list, but folks, brisket is number one in my book and it’s obvious those voting didn’t try it or Texas would have won hands down as there’s nothing better than a slab of BBQ Texas brisket, a couple slices of thickly cut raw onion, a side of pinto beans, and a handful of pickled jalapenos served on butcher paper and all washed down with an ice cold Lone Star. By the way Florida came in seventh on this somewhat suspect poll and Illinois make the top 10 coming in eighth. Illinois BBQ? What the….?

***

Speaking of BBQ: We have some terrific BBQ cook offs on the island including the nationally sanctioned Great Southern Tailgate event this August 22-23, but other than a couple of chain places, one in Yule and another on island near Shave Bridge, not one home grown BBQ joint since Island BBQ, behind Hammerhead closed down. Surely there is someone hereabouts who has always wanted to open a decent BBQ place using their granddad’s secret sauce recipe. I know US BBQ owned by the local Hooper family does really great BBQ, but apparently prefers to handle catering rather than putting down roots. Call ‘em at 904/556-1652 or 904/753-6203 to cater your next soiree.

***

Where’s The Beef? I just read that Burger King is ditching its 40-year-old tag line “Have It Your Way” in favor of a new “Be Your Way” slogan that it says is intended to remind people that “they should live how they want anytime.” I’m assuming that they’re admitting they have an inferior product and intend to deflect attention away from it and dispense counseling instead. So, unless Burger King is selling cold beer and employing barkeeps, I’ll probably head elsewhere for a sympathetic ear and skip their drive-through therapy session. I also don’t understand Taco Bell’s new “Live Mas” slogan so will skip them for spiritual guidance and bypass McDonalds if they decide to offer financial advice. Or am I missing something here? Does “Be Your Way” whet your appetite for a burger or “Live Mas” for a taco? If not then I think the folks that run the marketing departments in these fast food joints need to watch a few episodes of Mad Men, as they obviously live in a bubble and have no idea what’s going on in the world around them. In the meantime I’ll be on my way to live mas somewhere else.

***

Cruising In Style: The Sheffield’s have recently purchased two boats, both of which are for hire for fishing or just cruising. One is a 36’ Yellow Fin with three 300 hp engines named Punch Cup and in good conditions she can get to the Gulf Stream in a little over an hour. The second boat is a 54’ Viking named Pirates Punch and has three staterooms each with a sink, toilet and shower. They have hired a full time Captain, Spencer Ross, and you can get more info at their website www.piratespunchcharters.com or call ‘em at 904/753-2266.

***

Thoughts Worth Thinking About: “Until we can reestablish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty.” – Calvin Coolidge.

***

More Presidential Wisdom: In a letter he wrote January 3, 1919 to the American Defense Society, and which was read publicly January 5, the day before he died, President Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States said: “We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.”

***

Tilting At Windmills: Eliminating all the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions forever would impact temperatures by less than two-tenths of one degree by 2100, research indicates. Source: Cato Institute via Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

***

Something’s Very Wrong Here: Democrat politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000 per plate campaign fund-raising event and accuse the rich folks – who pay 86% of all income taxes – of not paying their “fair share.” And those who don’t pay any income taxes at all holler the loudest.

***

Explain This Mr. Obama: How does this administration explain providing US Army traitor Bradley Manning sex change treatment while so far it has been reported that some 40 US military veterans have died while waiting for medical care at Veteran Administration hospitals. The imprisoned Manning, as a US Army private, released the most classified documents ever, putting many US citizens at risk of death, while the deceased and dying veterans put their lives at stake protecting American citizens. Good grief!

***

Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Townies new location at 819 T.J. Courson Road in front of the Winn Dixie and Wal-Mart, is now selling beer and wine and you can have a very happy happy hour there from 2-6 pm daily with a two buck 16 ounce tall boy of Rolling Rock while munching on a two buck slice. Bud Lite and other similar brews are also available as is wine. Tony’s, next to the Sadler Road Publix also features $2.00 12 ounce draughts and $2.70 slices with happy hour all day long. Our favorite English expatriate Brian Grimley, owner and chef at downtown’s South 7th St. Lulu’s at The Thompson House, was featured this past Monday morning between 11:30 and noon on Jacksonville’s Channel 11 First Coast Living show, touting his popular eatery and offering cooking tips. I love toffee and as a kid in Canada used to enjoy McIntosh bars, freezing them, then smacking them on the counter to snack on the frozen bits, but McIntosh stopped making them and I’ve discovered good toffee is very hard to find until I ran into Anita Comisky at an ABC Liquor wine tasting last month. Ms. Comisky, who operates Sarasota Toffee, in Fernandina Beach, was handing out samples of her homemade stuff and it was really good, so if you want some go to www.SarasotaToffeeCompany.com. Palace Saloon barkeep and City Commissioner Johnny Miller certainly hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to fixing an outrageous Bloody Mary, as he served me one last Sunday that was an entire meal including low country boil ingredients sausage, potato, crab legs, crawfish, etc. all cooked up in a Georgia dark ale and as tasty as any I’ve eaten even without the Bloody Mary. Let’s bring back the downtown Bloody Mary battles.

 

5 Comments

Louis Goldman

25 May , 2014 at 7:38 pm

Re: Your take on City Hall - As I see it there is a serious lack of leadership by the City Commissioners and the City Manager. They are all too reactive instead of being proactive and spend too much time puting out fires instead of moving the City forward.

Christine Harmon

24 May , 2014 at 1:50 pm

As usual, my neighbor, I love your writing style and sense of humor - not your politics, but then nobody's perfect.

Susan Gallion

24 May , 2014 at 11:27 am

Hey Dave! THANK YOU so much for your post about my music! In case any of your followers want to hear my new song, "Lovers Holding Hands," in its entirety, here's the SoundCloud link: https://soundcloud.com/seasong-1/lovers-holding-hands . Last night at Slider's, a bunch of people told me that they'd read your blog and listened to some of my songs. You're a saint! Bet no one's called you that before :-).

Lew Eason

23 May , 2014 at 3:26 pm

If my memory of Florida history continues to serve me, the handle "Florida Cracker" refers to the folks that herded cattle around central Florida. They used bull whips to maintain the attention of the cattle as they were guided from pastures to watering holes. Those cattle were referred to as "Cracker Cows" . They sported long horns and were decendants of a breed imported from Spain. I just can't remember any reference to slaves being on the receiving end of those cracking bull whips. And by the way, why do you suppose they were called "bull whips" and not "slave whips" ?

Mary Gorman

23 May , 2014 at 1:13 pm

Ha-Ha, Dave, I loved your blog as always! How can your critics be so humorless?! You are right-on about the absurd change in BK's slogan. I think ultimate Bloody Mary battles are a lot of fun, but I might scream if I ever see a crawfish in my Bloody Mary. Not so sure about that. :) (You might have noticed that I only comment publicly on the less controversial items. I'm a big chicken, sorry. You know that I agree with you on most of the other stuff, too! Except maybe the water-slide thing. Give something to the kids! This town needs something big, gaudy & fun! )

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