Island Issues

Could Fernandina Commission Blowhards Generate Enough Air to Power Windmills?

Could Fernandina Commission Blowhards Generate Enough Air to Power Windmills?

Wind turbines farm

The Financial Times recently reported that electricity generated by U.S. wind farms fell six percent the first half of this year due to the softest air currents in 40 years, even though wind farm capacity grew by nine percent.

However, if the folks in charge of those windmills would attend a Fernandina Beach City Commission meeting their eyes would light up as the answer to the lack of wind would be sitting right in front of them.

Position some of those bird dicing windmills in front of the blowhard commission duo of Johnny Miller and Pat Gass and watch the wind capacity jump as these two gasbags blather on about issues that have long been laid to rest or about inane topics ranging from saving spotted ditch leeches to hanging on to a departing city manager whose fate had been long since been debated and decided.

The wind power produced by Ms. Gass and the voices in her head combined with the endless incoherent babbling about irrelevant far left social and economic topics ranging from increased bureaucratic regulations to outrageously strict and economically unsound environmental issues by Mr. Miller could produce enough hot air to light up the city of Jacksonville.

And speaking of Commissioner Johnny Miller, I was discussing some of his antics with three other folks who worked with me on his election campaign three years ago and we all agreed that if he decided to run again, not only would we not assist him, but he would not receive a single vote from any of us, a sad commentary on the pro-business platform he ran on and the nonsense he has spouted since gaining his seat.

An example of Commissioner Miller’s using his position as Fernandina Beach City Commissioner as a platform for a litany of far left social and economic topics ranging from increased bureaucratic regulations to outrageously strict and economically punishing environmental curbs instead of what he was elected to do was evident this past Monday when interviewing city manager candidates he asked the eventual choice, Dale Martin, for his thoughts on the Pope’s recent comments that protecting the environment is a moral obligation. I’m surprised he didn’t ask him for his opinion on the Keystone oil pipeline, drilling in the Arctic or if he would like to participate in a drum circle.

Mr. Miller’s elevator not only doesn’t go to all the way to the top, it’s stuck in the basement where he blissfully ignores key issues facing the local community that elected him including the dramatically underfunded pension program, harbor dredging, the waterfront park, South 8th Street revitalization, municipal impact fees, and golf course and marina management, not to mention encouraging more businesses to locate downtown, among others. Folks I’ve talked to say that Commissioner Miller doesn’t comprehend these issues well enough to discuss them so he sticks to silly programs where he can be the center of attention.

The self absorbed Mr. Miller’s loopy local campaigns to ban plastic bags and nonexistent puppy mills; seismic testing and fracking; add regulations to already over-regulated bars and restaurants; attacking the city’s largest private employers and corporate tax payers; and suggesting the city prohibit prostitution in taxis, and more have make him a laughing stock and hamper efforts to promote Fernandina to outsiders as a good place to do business. They do, however, provide slap-stick entertainment and a degree of suspension as in: What the hell will this guy say or do next?”

Mr. Miller should resign his City Commission seat and apply for a job with the Earth Liberation Front or try to snag a position with Socialist Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

And speaking of the City Commission, a letter to the editor in last Friday’s News-Leader by former Commissioner Beano Roberts hit a lot of nails on the head. Mr. Roberts nailed occasional News-Leader columnist and former City Commissioner Ron Sapp as someone who “hates growth, business, free enterprise, capitalism and rich people.” Beano knows Mr. Sapp well as he served on the commission with him for many years and if you have the stomach for it, read Mr. Sapp’s columns and you’ll see the accuracy of Beano’s description.

Beano concluded his letter with a description of Mr. Sapp that could also apply to the whacky Mr. Miller as follows: “Ron Sapp is a perfect example of what not to have in public office. People who have agendas and in quest of their self-serving ideology. They never let the truth or objectivity get in their way.”


Speaking Of Dysfunctional City Officials: In depositions taken last month and reported on by Mary McGuire, editor of the online NCFL Independent, who obtained them through a public records request, City Manager Joe Gerrity outlined a series of events that led to Robin Marley’s dismissal from her position as Human Resources Director that she had held for 10 years. In my untrained legal mind and based on the documents I read, Mr. Gerrity’s opinions are weak and those of City Attorney Tammi Bach are even weaker. I hope the city is negotiating a settlement because in my opinion if they take this to trail, they’ll lose and cost the citizens another fortune in legal fees. And I’m not the only one that feels that way as in a letter to the Independent, investor, entrepreneur, and attorney Patrick J. Keogh said the following: “Get ready for another application of Bach/Gerrity ingenious ‘legal strategy’ for resolving City problems. It involves expending huge sums of citizens’ funds in dilatory legal proceedings and appeals. The City will lose or settle in the end and citizens will pay. Then the City will go about repeating the mistakes because the City government only exists to perpetuate the control of the few people who run it. There is no concept of public service. You, the citizens, exist only for the purpose of paying to perpetuate their senseless control. Robin Marley spoke up about mismanagement just like one of (John) Mandrick’s subordinates did. The result was the same; they both were fired. Ms. Marley will win in the end but only after the citizens pay for this abuse of public power and the legal costs to defend that abuse.” As usual Mr. Keogh makes a lot of sense.


Speaking of News Sources: If you haven’t taken a look at Mary McGuire’s online Independent go to and check out the new design, which is not only very attractive but easy to navigate with news categories broken down as follows: latest news, city, county, business, sand and spin. The older online Fernandina Observer edited by former Mayor Susan Steger, and Ms. McGuire’s Independent have made the bi-weekly print publication, the News-Leader, irrelevant with the only reason to buy it possibly being a photo of your kid or grandkid playing on one of the local school athletic teams, an occasional lucid letter to the editor and Pat Foster-Turley’s well done nature column. I can’t imagine anyone buying it to read a recap of news already reported days earlier by the online publications, the weekly amateurish and incomprehensible word jumble penned by Dickie Anderson or any of Ron Sapp’s rants? And not only are its readers departing, but advertisers are also making their way to the new more timely online news gathering sources and their growing number of readers. How much longer can the News-Leader hold on?


Townies Founder Speaks Out: Island pizza legend John Seifert, whose name is synonymous with the T.J. Courson Road Townies Pizza, has confirmed rumors that he has been “fired” by one of his shareholders who told him that he and his charming and delightful special needs daughter, Chloe, are “no longer welcome” at the restaurant he founded. Seifert (39), who started Townies on South 8th Street in July 2010 before moving it to its present location February 2014, and his nine-year-old daughter will be sorely missed at the pizzeria. I don’t know what the facts are surrounding this brouhaha but based on what people have been telling me and postings that are lighting up Facebook, Townies without John and Chloe may become a very lonely place as there appears to be a local move to boycott it due to Mr. Seifert’s departure. John said no matter what, he is staying on the island and that his lawyers and he are “working hard to right this wrong.” The young entrepreneur, who not only provided the island with terrific pizza and a fun atmosphere but also contributed greatly to the community, said he plans on staying put adding: “Over the past five years, Amelia Island has made Chloe and I feel more welcome and at home than anywhere I have ever lived. I cannot give enough thanks for the support you have given my restaurant and my family. So, regardless of how the legal system deals with the business, Chloe and I have decided that we will make this community our ‘forever home’. Stay tuned to see what is in store next for us.” I think John realizes that there are many folks in the community that are there for him and his daughter. He can be contacted via email at


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Now that the tourists have thinned out and the bars and restaurants are looking to locals to fill barstools and chairs, specials and bargains are popping up all over the island. Harbor-facing 12 North Front Street’s Salty Pelican, which appears to be filled with customers year around despite the island’s fall tourist drought, is offering a variety of drink food and entertainment specials with Justin and Emily hosting Trivia once again on Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30 just before the sound is turned on for Monday night football. An interesting Monday twist is that the Pelican will provide a special dinner of the home team playing each Monday. I would assume if Cincinnati plays we might see four-way chili on the menu, Green Bay would be bratwurst; Baltimore, crabs; New England, humble pie; Jacksonville, sour grapes, and so on. On Wednesdays proprietors Al Waldis and T.J. Pelletier will feature “Wine, Dine & Shine” specials starting after 5 p.m. which includes a $10 bottle of wine, five buck glasses of red or white Sangria and Raggae music by Mark Shine 6:30-10:30 p.m. Wednesday is also flatbread night with seafood, Buffalo chicken and veggies among the options atop the breads. And don’t forget that the island’s favorite guitarist Dan Voll and bassist Michele Anders play upstairs Sunday evenings beginning at 5:30. Call ’em at 904/277-3811.The 3199 South Fletcher Avenue Surf not only has all new furniture and several new menu selections but just announced the following selection of entertainment: Tuesday Colby, 6-10 p.m.; Wednesday, DJ, 7-10 p.m.; Thursday: Yancy Clegg 6-10 p.m.; Friday: Black Jack Band 6-10 p.m.; Saturday: Surfaroke 7-10 p.m.; Sunday: Claiborne Sheppard 4-8 p.m. Call ’em at 904/261-5711. In addition to adding a menu ranging from Cuban sandwiches to Rubens among other items the South 3rd Street downtown Green Turtle Tavern announced that it will also have a special bluegrass concert this Sunday featuring Wood & Wire starting at 7 p.m. Call ’em at 904/321-2324. Funerals are odd items to put in this section of the blog as they are traditionally solemn and sad affairs, with family and friends gathering to mourn the passing of a loved one, but this past Monday, following the service for pal John Harris at Oxley-Heard, the crowd moved to 27 North 3rd Street’s Cafe Karibo, where we all celebrated John’s life the way his widow, Barbara, agreed he would have wanted. I heard more than one person exclaim: “John would really enjoy being here for this.” I agree. Two of John’s friends, Alley Cat pianoman John Springer and high school biology teacher and drummer Rob Taylor, provided lively music for the folks who enjoyed cocktails and a buffet while exchanging their stories about John. If you haven’t been to Cafe Karibo recently check it out as the outdoor dining area is one of the most pleasant on the island, even featuring a shaded petanque court. Named in honor of owner Tim Poynter’s wife Theresa’s family name, Karibo features an eclectic menu with entrees ranging from my favorites of Coquille St. Jacques (pan seared scallops with shitake mushroom cream sauce) and steak frites (a flat iron steak with shallot butter and homes fries) to one of the top five best hamburgers in towns , right up there with T-Ray’s and Main Beach’s Putt Putt. They are open Monday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday, 1 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call ’em at 904/277-5629. The newly designed Sadler Road Seabreeze Bar & Grill has pulled out all the stops under the direction of new Director of Sales & Marketing, Kari Gardner, with music, specials and more and the following schedule: Monday: live music with Dan Voll from 6-9 p.m. and $10 Margarita Pitchers. Tuesday: Late Night Trivia with Justin and Emily starts at 10 p.m. along with $4 shots of Tequila. Wednesday is Ladies Night with live music with Nora Ricci from 8-12 p.m., $4 shots of flavored Svedka Vodka and $10 buys a cup and you drink free wells and drafts from 8-12 p.m. Thursday is Service Industry Night with Karaoke beginning at 9 p.m. $4 shots of Jack Daniels, $4 shots of fireball and $10 buckets of domestic beer. Friday is DJ night  with Justin and Emily and $4 shots of Fireball while Saturday October 3 is live music with Chillakaya, 4-7 p.m. poolside with $15 Rum Runner Pitchers and October 10 Wes Cob from 9-12 p.m. with $4 Jack Daniels. There will be an 80’s Night Live music with Band on the Run October 17 from  9-12 p.m. and $12 Long Island pitchers and Chillakaya again October 24 poolside from 4-7 p.m. with $15 Rum Runner Pitchers. Halloween, Saturday, October 31 will feature DJ Refresh beginning at 8 p.m. and a costume contest while each Sunday will be poolside service and live music with  Nora Ricci & Jim Barcaro rotating week-to-week from 2-6 p.m. along with $4.50 Bloody Marys. On Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 7:28 p.m. Marty McFly and Doc Brown will arrive from their October 21,1985 time period only to discover things haven’t changed much as the 31 North 2nd Street Crab Trap will celebrate their arrival and greet them with one dollar Bud Lites and Miller Lights, $7.96 McFly chicken and $8.95 Biff’s shrimp. Guest DJ Castor Troy will play tunes from 1985 with dancing, drinking and dining starting at 6 p.m. and lasting until 9 p.m. Call ’em at 904/261-4749.



Al Goldsmith - 25. Sep, 2015 -

I understand the new city manager has been offered a salary of $120,000.

Al Goldsmith - 25. Sep, 2015 -

I do not understand why the city attorney gets paid $25,000 per year more than the city manager. If her primary duties are to give sound legal advice and keep the city out f court, she is seriously underperforming. But then her advice does seem to keep her and a lot of outside attorneys busy.

Richard Troxel - 25. Sep, 2015 -

Boy,I am so glad we don’t live in the city limits. In the 15 years we have resided on the Island , no matter how times the commissioners change the story is the same sad tale. Sorry pretty much describes them to a man or woman.Wonder how much they still owe Magill and the Impact fee fiasco folks. And,wasn’t Mr. Gerrity mayor when the city bought the water and sewer company at 30 or 40% over its valuation? Just asking.

Tony crawford - 25. Sep, 2015 -

Dave, I will give you the right to like or dislike anyone in office, running for office or those who held office. It is you right and your opinion.

I do challange you on one issue in particular. You mentioned Johnny’s ” loopy local” campain on plastic bags. Have you done as much research on this topic as you have with repect to where you get the best hot dog in town. I think not. You pretty much call all environmental issues left wing garbage. Some of that may be true, some may be false. Just think, however, if the left wing nuts who fought so hard to get emmission controls in cars and various pollution regulations in place had your mind set. Imagine what the world would be like today. Did you know that 4 million plactic bags are givern out each year between our three supermarkets. That is not counting Walmart. Maybe, just maybe, this project could have as much merit as to where the best quiche is in town. Please keep an open mind as well as an open mouth to issues that effect us and don’t just lable them ” loony. ” Do the research and come back and debate it with knowledge rather than opinion.

Gary McKillips - 25. Sep, 2015 -

This is great reading, Dave. The shenanigans of the Commission are so whacky, I can see a book, or maybe a mini-series in the offing.

Sheila Cocchi - 25. Sep, 2015 -

The budgeted amount for outside legal counsel is only $50k. Come February I think they’ll be asking for an amendment.

Tom Yankus - 25. Sep, 2015 -

Dropped the News/Leader last January. They came back at me several months later offering me a cheaper yearly rate. Nah…