The Fernandina Beach News-Leader is part of the privately owned Community Newspapers Incorporated chain of weeklies and it can print whatever it sees fit. But there is little virtue in having editorial and news pages that the paper’s masthead says are “…dedicated to the truth, integrity, quality and hard work” and whose aim is to expand the horizons of its readers if those pages contain sycophantic suck-up endorsements and blatantly false claims, and its news pages are edited to paint a picture preferred by a stridently prejudiced publisher and editor on personal vendettas, who knowing they can’t win intellectual arguments, seek to influence opinion by portraying those they oppose with an editing pen dripping with bias, animosity, innuendo and omission. Its editorial pages bear a greater similarity to a psychological disorder than they do to standard political discourse.
The Internet and the online upstart Fernandina Beach Observer newspaper have helped expose the paper’s demonization of those not in its favor, but it is still up to what’s left of the News-Leader’s readers and subscribers to sort the wheat from the chaff, but sometimes they need assistance.
For example, the paper has dutifully been running verbatim press releases on the bottom right front page submitted by candidates running for the Fernandina Beach City Commission. However, readers wouldn’t know if these releases have been edited if they haven’t seen the original press release as was the case with candidate Tim Poynter when the paper’s editor and/or publisher struck the following from Mr. Poynter’s submission: He was the only commissioner to oppose the proposed FY2012-13 city budget that called for both higher taxes (a 15 per cent increase, the highest in ten years) and higher franchise fees.
Maybe that sentence would make the paper’s endorsement by its publisher, Foy Maloy, of the two folks (Charlie Corbett and Sarah Pelican) who have actually increased taxes, but are running on a platform of lowering them, appear awkward and foolish. Maloy also credited Corbett and Pelican with accomplishments (library expansion and train depot restoration) that belong to the last commission which included Poynter and were paid for with funds from the Forward Fernandina project, a project that an obviously befuddled Maloy criticized with all the finesse of a guy leaping into the mosh pit just as the crowd parted.
But the silliest nonsense came this past this past Wednesday in an above-the-fold front page piece headlined “Restaurateur seeks commission ‘seat'” bylined by the paper’s editor, Michael Parnell, that was a detailed story about all the laws, permitting rules, and regulations that Tim Poynter meticulously followed while opening and expanding his downtown eateries.
Parnell, doing an exceptional imitation of a Mother frantically searching for a Playboy Magazine hidden under her son’s mattress, tried his best to portray Poynter as someone who took advantage of his commission seat to get around the various permitting and regulations, but came up empty handed.
His story asked: “Did the then city commissioner receive favorable treatment from the city in obtaining his permits?” The answer was a resounding “NO.” City Manager Joe Geritty said he didn’t. Parnell even stated that there is “No evidence that Poynter or his businesses acted illegally…” Oh, Parnell failed to mention that Poynter received an almost $10,000 refund on impact fees proving that he paid what was due, but apparently that didn’t fit into Parnell’s story line. He also failed to mention that Poynter laid out thousands of dollars to redo inside and outside doors and storage areas of his existing restaurant to comply with a city inspector on his first day on the job. Oh, by the way, Poynter’s businesses employ some 55 local people, more I’m betting than the News-Leader. So what was the point of the article Mr. Parnell?
Obviously the facts got in the way and Parnell, on a tight deadline, was left with a non-story to plug a gaping hole on the front page that certainly raises questions about the credibility — not of Poynter — but of the paper and Parnell’s “journalistic” credentials. In its rush to print what they hoped would be a scathing expose it ended up scrambling to publish a piece that is an insult to its readers, an embarrassment to the paper’s owners and its staff, and leaves no doubt as to why it is losing subscribers and advertisers faster than passengers abandoning a cruise ship with an Ebola outbreak.
While the News-Leader buries, forgets, ignores or lies about gaffes, misstatements and blunders by the current Curly, Larry and Moe commission trio it enthusiastically and blindly endorses, it comically does pratfalls as it tries to conjure up images of those it opposes as frivolous ne’er-do-wells. News-Leader targets can take comfort in the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s comment: “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”
Personally I’m voting for Poynter, a former commissioner and owner of two downtown businesses, whose four kids grew up here and who has a vested interest in the community’s success and understands city government inside and out; and Robin Lentz, a bright and energetic young lady and county educator so dynamic she was named teacher of the year her rookie year and who has two young children she wants to grow up in a vibrant, healthy community that she can help shape.
The Corbett-Pelican duo scare me, because if re-elected they might violate their long-standing political credo of “Don’t just do something. Stand there” — thereby creating havoc within the city.
The saddest part is that ridiculous and insubstantial candidates can run for city office and, until recently, no one ever knew because the News-Leader didn’t report it, worse they endorsed them. That is all changing.
Fingers And Feet Power New Island Offerings: English expatriate, Paul Wetherhill, from Leeds and Marisol Triana, born to parents who fled Cuba for Miami, are providing Amelia Island residents and visitors with “exclusive” offers from local businesses never before available with Paul’s efforts involving finger action using an innovative mobile phone app, while Ms. Triana’s require foot power.
If, like me, you’ve been wandering aimlessly around downtown on foot snacking and drinking at the plentiful pubs and eateries then North 2nd St. Hola co-owner along with Chris Garcia, Ms. Triana and her business partner, local foodie Tara Meyer-Robson, will help you organize your efforts to explore some of Fernandina Beach’s more interesting restaurants and bars for events ranging from special sampler plates and deserts to beer and cocktail tastings among others in a new venture they’ve dubbed Amelia Island Tasting Tours.
The enterprising couple have developed several walking tour categories that include seafood only, booze, desserts and meal samples. Some of the downtown restaurants on the tour so far include Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro, Lulu’s at the Thompson House, Espana, The Crap Trap, Arte Pizza, The Happy Tomato Cafe and BBQ, the Green Turtle, Hola Cuban Cafe, Bright Mornings, Nan Teresa’s Bake Shop, Karibrew, Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant and the Courtyard Pub & Eats with more to come.
The inaugural $59 per person, three-hour, October 23 Downtown Tasting Tour escorted a sold-out group of 14 folks to between four and five restaurants where the group not only sampled some of the eateries’ favorite dishes paired with a beer or wine, but also met the chefs and/or owners, then voted at the end of the tour on their favorite, which the culinary tour couple will proclaim “restaurant of the week” and ballyhoo on their website. Between stops guides provide historical island highlights.
The tasting events last from 2-5 pm and reservations can be made by going to the gal’s website at www.ameliaislandtastingtours.com or calling ’em at 800/979-3370. The meeting spot and restaurant names will be provided following a ticket purchase and rain doesn’t stop this hungry and thirsty crowd from its intended destinations that will include plenty of seated restaurant and bar break stops. Restaurateurs and bar owners interested in being part of the tour program can go to the site and click on the “For Restaurateurs” section or call ’em at the above number.
Englishman Wetherhill, who had been a frequent visitor to Amelia Island since 2002, decided to park himself here permanently in 2008 and hit a trifecta, when he married the pretty blonde Crissy Radney of Atlanta, sold his UK-based credit scoring business, and started an island venture creating web sites.
His new innovative free Google/Apple app makes is easy for residents and visitors alike to search the island’s businesses for a variety of exclusive offers that range from discounts on meals at various restaurants to local charitable donations with the purchase of certain items. Customers simply go to the app store ameliamobile.com and then show the page to the merchant to redeem the special offer. Users will receive special offers from local businesses as disparate as the Florida House Inn and Wadsworth clothing store to Shoe Vision and Tony’s New York Style Brick Oven Pizzeria & Restaurant and on products and services ranging from olives and oil to plumbers and landscaping and much more.
Downtown’s Hampton Inn is helping Paul spread the word by advertising the app on the back of some 75,000 electronic room “keys” next year while The Addison Bed & Breakfast and the Amelia Hotel at the Beach are doing the same.
Businesses interested in being part of this innovative approach can contact Paul at ameliamobile.com or info@ameliamobile or call him on 904/556-2711.
Oh, Paul and his bride were married on the island by Bob Tidball, the quirky owner of the Addison B&B just a year and a half ago.
Things Left Unsaid: When 29-year-old Minnesota Viking footballer Adrian Peterson was indicted on charges of “reckless or negligent injury to a child” for “whooping” his four-year-old son what was left unremarked upon was the fact that Peterson doesn’t live with the kid and reportedly has seven children with five different women, illustrating the changing mores in America. Corporal punishment is a crime, but there is apparently no judgment for men who father children outside of marriage then abandon both the women and their progeny.
Things I Wish I Had Said: “The next time you hear an alarming speech about ‘global warming’ on Earth Day, just remember that the first Earth Day featured alarms about the danger of a new ice age.” – Thomas Sowell
When Saying “Thank You” Just Isn’t Enough: This coming Veterans Day weekend if you want to meet some folks that will put a lump in your throat and make you stand up and salute then grab your check book or a credit card and make plans to attend the 4th Annual Navy SEAL Foundation Golf Classic, Saturday, November 8, at the Amelia Island Long Point Club. If you’re not a golfer then you can attend the dinner and silent and live auctions and buffet that evening beginning at 4:30. Remember folks, these are the incredibly brave men who took out Osama bin Laden, among many other heroic feats, many of which can never be publically acknowledged. The families of these courageous soldiers are under extraordinary stress and other hardships due to the duration of the training and deployment of these elite SEAL team members and money raised goes to help those families through difficult times. Gold sponsorships and entries range from $100 up to $10,000 while the dinner and auctions are $75. All are tax deductable and detailed information can be found at www.ameliaislandnavysealfoundation.org or by calling Mike Clower at 904/753-0535. Featured guests are two star retired Rear Admiral Garry Bonelli, also a SEAL, who currently is CEO of the Navy SEAL Foundation and State Senator Aaron Bean who will act as auctioneer. And if you’re lucky you’ll meet Captain Greg Greetis, another former SEAL, who earned his pin in 1975 and who also happens to be a retired mathematics and physics teacher at Fernandina Beach High School, and in whose classroom a steely glance was probably the only discipline necessary.
Arf & Meow Department: If you’re looking to round out your household with a Fido or Fluffy then you might want to head over to the Nassau Humane Society which will celebrate the grand opening of its new Amelia Island Animal Rescue Center Friday, November 7 at 639 Airport Road. Folks are invited to join the animal caregivers beginning at 11:00 am for a ribbon cutting ceremony with tours given from 11:30am through 1:30 pm and 4:00 pm through 6:00 pm. Additional tours of the new facility will be from 11:30 am through 1:30 pm and 4:00 pm through 6:00 pm on the following dates: Wednesday, November 12; Friday, November 14; Saturday, November 15.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: It has been reported to me by a more than reliable source that 72-year-old Paul McCartney, who performed at Jacksonville’s Veterans Memorial Arena last Saturday evening, was a Ritz guest and on Sunday boated over to Cumberland Island for dinner at the Greyfield Inn. Others say the former Beatle cancelled his Ritz stay and was housed at the Greyfield where he arrived by helicopter, but why am I even writing about this? Meanwhile in the meatball department Tony’s New York Style Brick Over Pizzeria & Restaurant on Sadler Road next to the Publix, chef and master pizza maker Mark Keller has been fine tuning a selection of specialty stuffed meatballs that I predict will have folks eating them faster than Mark can make ’em. Mark’s meatballs, a little larger than a billiard ball but smaller than a baseball, come in four varieties: Sirloin: stuffed with a choice of blue cheese, ham and Swiss cheese, jalapeno and onion or margarita flavor; Turkey: stuffed with old fashioned Thanksgiving style stuffing that granny used to make; Chicken: offered with Pico de gallo or a spicy but not too hot Buffalo flavor; and Lamb, which is still on the drawing board. An order of three comes with marinara sauce with melted mozzarella cheese and an order of garlic bread and it only takes two of these tasty meatballs to satisfy even the heartiest appetite. Folks, Linda and I’ve tried them and we both agree they are really, really good and something altogether different that you’ll be telling your friends about. Oh, I tried Marks’ latest dessert offering too, a breaded and deep fired caramel clump with caramel gelato and powdered sugar on top of all of it, and proclaim it ready for prime time. And if you don’t want to go out, Tony’s will come to you, just call ’em at 904/277-7661. And for you people that get the munchies listening to the musical porch people at the downtown Green Turtle you can now order two dollar tacos on Tuesday evenings and 50 cent wings on Saturday evenings.