When I pointed out last week that building permitting and review fees were almost six times higher in Fernandina Beach than in the county for the exact same commercial properties and more than two times higher for identical residential properties, I received two lengthy responses from the city’s Building Director Stephen Beckman that appeared in last week’s Comment section here.
They were followed by an email from City Commissioner Chip Ross asking if I had any comment on Mr. Beckman’s explanation. That’s probably because Mr. Beckman copied City Manager Dale Martin and Commissioner Ross, but no other commissioners. Ross is the self-appointed, self-righteous city spokesman, who habitually defends town hall on all issues from the marina and parks and recreation to building codes and vehicle maintenance, among others. He’s a busy fellow with an ambitious agenda.
In Mr. Beckman’s first message, which is available in full in last week’s comment section, he didn’t dispute the disparity in fees. Instead he reinforced my point.
He said that one of the first actions he took as the city’s new building code official was to hire a tax accounting firm to conduct a “fee study” which began in July. He said the study will wrap up sometime the end of this month. How much did the tax study cost and was it put out for competitive bids? What did he ask to be studied? If the study says the fees are fine what happens? What if the study says they’re too high? Or too low?
A local builder hereabouts thinks the tax study is nothing more than is a plan to cover up the city’s past abuse. He suggests demanding the records for the tax study contract and any other communications pertaining to it i.e. what and who created the demand, what data was provided by the city, etc.?
He says: “As stakeholders we should have had a hand in the study’s methods. This is how we can learn how government creates studies, which allow them to justify their demands for fees. They can blame it on the study when in fact the departments can make demands on the study which will result in distorting the fees on the public/customers.”
“I’ve been around government too long to not smell the swamp here”, he adds. “The firm doing the study can only produce collective data conclusions/recommendations based on the history and baseline data provided by the building department.” Are these gentleman’s suspicions justified?
Local real estate investor, businessman, developer, lawyer and incisive observer, Pat Keogh, is not optimistic saying: “In 20 years I have seen no reaction by Fernandina Beach’s city government to any appeals to improve services or reduce costs. None! Ever!”
In his initial comment to me Mr. Beckman went on to explain the state’s building code and the city’s adherence to it. He didn’t mention if the state’s building code required refunding for overcharged fees.
In his second message – also available in the comment section – he reiterated his first message and explained how his department was doing everything it could to ensure that fees are fair and equitable as well as timely and efficient. He made the case that the county charges less because it has the volume that the city doesn’t have. OK then, doesn’t that justify outsourcing the city’s function to the county, which the city resides in, thus giving them even more volume and reducing fees even further? It’s the same state and everybody has to abide the same codes. So, what’s the problem?
Neither Mr. Beckman or Commissioner Ross addressed the issue of outsourcing the job to the folks in the county, who do it cheaper and better, abide by the same state law, and who are right across the street. Oh, by the way, in the new budget, the staff for the Building Department that was 7.65 three years ago increases to 12 next year while the workload remains relatively flat.
An engineer who has worked getting permits and reviews from the city’s building and permitting department for many years netted the issue down asking: “Is the County better equipped to perform Building Permitting and Inspections in the City Limits?” or “Is the City using the inflated Building Department fees to fund Pet Projects?”
Local Grievance Monger March: About 100 curiously dressed local social-justice warriors carrying hand-painted signs proclaiming their loathing for the U.S. Constitution and their moral superiority in just about every aspect of human existence wandered from Fernandina Beach’s Central Park through downtown last Saturday morning in a comical attempt to rescue the rest of us from our collective ignorance and lead us out of the muck of our insensitivities.
Organized by local activist Sheila Cocchi – who led a larger and similarly confused gathering in January 2017 – the parade, march, protest or whatever it was, straggled through town much to the bewilderment of ice cream cone-licking tourists, shoppers, store keepers, and motorists who were left mostly chuckling and shaking their heads in puzzled amusement.
The online Fernandina Observer’s Anne Oman objectively and accurately covered the event. Ms. Ohman is a seasoned reporter whose work has appeared in several Washington D.C. newspapers including the Star, Post and Times.
“We are calling this the Women’s March 2.0,” said organizer Cocchi to the Observer. “RBG’s death has made people aware of the issues before the Supreme Court.”
According to the Observer article the Fernandina Beach event was one of more than 400 “sister marches” across the country last Saturday.
Ms. Oman reported that although many of the local participants wore dark blue Biden-Harris tee shirts and/or masks and carried Biden campaign signs, organizer Cocchi stressed that it wasn’t a march for the Biden ticket per se, “but we support his ideas and principles.” She attributed the relatively small size of the crowd compared to the 2017 march both to the pandemic and to the fact that the event was not widely publicized.
The majority of folks I talked with were unaware of the event and those that were said it was more a curiosity than an illuminating experience. Many individuals in the bizarre contingent were dressed as though they were enduring a humiliating sorority or fraternity initiation ritual or were the brides-to-be in a drunken bachelorette outing gone wrong.
More people attended the latest Trump rally at the corner of Sadler and 14th Street Saturday, October 10, than showed up for the grievance monger gathering that wandered through town last Saturday to proclaim their anti-American psychedelic idiocy and radicalized fury.
In stark contrast to the dreary leftist women’s march the Amanda Borghese-led local Trump rallies boasted a collection of smiling, laughing, happy folks waving Trump signs, “support the police” banners, and American flags. They even featured well-known opera singer Mary Aiello performing the national anthem. They were celebrating America not condemning it. Their messages were optimistic and positive, not angry, and venomous.
Thousands of cars passing by the Trump-supporting crowds rolled down their windows and cheered, gave thumbs up signals, and honked their horns in enthusiastic support. The sad sacks straggling through downtown lashing out at America appeared angry and sad, generating only puzzlement and quizzical looks.
“We didn’t want agitators,” Ms. Cocchi told Ms. Oman as she led her small contingent of men, women, kids and domestic pets on their Saturday morning stroll with signs proclaiming their support for abortion, socialism, gender-free public rest rooms, Black Lives Matter, prepubescent transgender rights, and their opposition to guns, something called “systemic racism”, President Trump, the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, among other psychotic causes.
The group was peaceful and had every right to protest or whatever it was they were doing. They didn’t emulate their Portland, Seattle, Chicago, or New York peers by patrolling with baseball bats, Antifa masks, hurling curses, and threatening businesses.
However, this handful of hometown revolutionaries had difficulty attracting an attentive audience for their irrational fear-huckstering messages in Fernandina Beach with its Norman Rockwell backdrop as they ranted against the country that gave them everything including the right to make public spectacles of themselves.
Speaking Of Rallies: Another local event that contrasted with last Saturday’s curious women’s group march was an upbeat “Prayer in the Park” session held at sunset near the waterfront Petanque Courts south of the Marina last Sunday evening by an ad hoc group of local ladies including Amanda Borghese.
The roughly 40-minute affair featured brief talks by a handful of blacks and whites, women, and men, espousing patriotic and religious messages to an attentive and enthusiastic crowd of some 70-80 spectators. They heard five-minute inspirational talks by former members of the military, a preacher, a black female entrepreneur, a couple of authors, and participated in the singing of patriotic and spiritual songs, starting with the national anthem sung by opera singer Mary Aiello, and closing with “God Bless America”.
This cheerful group was as enthusiastic in its support of President Trump as the infuriated woman’s marchers were desperately anxious in their support of Joe Biden.
Danger! Democrats Ahead: The ignorant statue toppling thugs and loons that are Talibaning effigies of various historical figures instrumental in the founding of the United Sates wouldn’t know Christopher Columbus from Christopher Robin.
They just enjoy smashing government property while Democrat officials in their blue cities stand idly by nodding approvingly and ordering their police to “stand down”.
Given how today’s schools and colleges now focus on racism in America’s history it’s no wonder that the mob assumes any old statue they see is of some irredeemable historic figure.
If Joe Biden is elected President these Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters and looters will consider that carte blanche to go on a nationwide rampage that will make Alaric and his Visigoth’s 410 A.D. sacking of Rome look like a kindergarten recess. Brace yourselves in the event of that dreadful outcome.
Speaking Of Christopher Columbus: “God’s Shadow”, a recent book by Alan Mikhail reveals some little-known facts about Mr. Columbus and his voyages to the New World that I found fascinating.
Rather than exploration, his trips were undertaken to discover more secure trade routes to the Far East thus avoiding the powerful Ottoman Empire’s navy. The spirit of discovery was an element of the voyages undertaken by Columbus and other early explorers of that period such as Portugal’s Henry the Navigator, but it was secondary to their desire to destroy Islam, convert others to Christianity, and find safer trade routes.
Mr. Mikhail says after Columbus discovered Cuba on one of his voyages he was convinced he was in Japan and actually died believing that he had landed in the Far East.
Things I Wish I’d Said: “Most pro athletes are bilingual. They know English and profanity.” – Gordie Howe
Putting The Planned In Parenthood: West Coast columnist, former screenwriter, and L.A. Times humorist, Burt Prelutsky, says that since Planned Parenthood is already set up, that well-funded outfit could simply change its mission from killing babies to preventing babies from becoming the innocent victims of homicidal abortionists.
“There are a number of positive results of my plan,” adds Burt. “Women would no longer have to suffer guilt pangs from having participated in premeditated murder. Doctors would no longer have to be hypocrites who break their Hippocratic Oath each and every time they pick up a scalpel. Also, the procedure would guarantee that the same woman wouldn’t have to come back a second, third or fourth time.”
ACB Revelation: The pictured meme making the rounds recently shows Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett holding up her now famous notepad. But instead of being blank, it reads: “I have seven children, so I’m used to answering stupid questions all day.”
More ACB: Investor, author, professor, pundit and former CEO, Joel Ross, says: “I only watched snippets of the Barrett hearings, but she is brilliant and made fools of the Dems. She even told Klobachar at one point that her question made no sense. She shut down Harris and left Feinstein bumbling. She will make a great justice.”
Most Dangerous Dems: Dr. Richard A. Schatz, Research Director of Gene and Cell Therapy at Scripps Clinic, let the world know that 45 of the 50 Governors did not force Covid-19 patients into nursing homes, but five of them, all Democrats, (Cuomo, New York; Wolf, Pennsylvania; Murphy, New Jersey; Newsom, California; Whitmer, Michigan) did. Those five states accounted for 40% of the nation’s fatalities.
Things I’m Glad I Never Said: “I never said most of the things I said.” – Yogi Berra
Hunter Biden has not disputed those are his emails.
The Biden campaign has not disputed those are Hunter’s emails.
Hunter Biden’s signature is on documents saying that the emails on the laptop are his.
The FBI, CIA and Department of Justice say Russia had nothing to do with the emails.
A former business associate of Hunter Biden came out last Wednesday confirming the emails were sent to him and confirming that the “big guy” referenced in the emails is indeed Joe Biden.
Those emails are damning. They expose Joe Biden as a traitor and comparable to a mafia godfather using his crime family to enrich himself.
This is clear evidence that then Vice-President Biden was deeply involved with his son Hunter’s inappropriate association with Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company. President Obama put Biden in charge of this country’s relationship with both China and Ukraine and Biden took his son Hunter on trips to both counties aboard Air Force Two. The younger Biden came home with huge sums of money.
We now know that Biden lied about having any relationship with Burisma or discussing his son’s business relationships with him. We also know that Joe Biden bought a $3 million beach house in Delaware and he now rents a $5 million home in McLean, Virginia that has a rental value of $240,000 annually. How much did Joe Biden (aka “The Big Guy”) get from the Ukraine and China deals and just how much will he sell Oval Office access for if elected?
Speaking Of Pandemics: In his book “Innocents Abroad” that made him a household name, Mark Twain, described being fumigated in Lake Como and Italians’ washing habits during his trip to Italy at the height of the 1867 cholera epidemic saying: “It might have been cheaper for them to fumigate foreigners than to buy soap for themselves. I shall try to pray for these fumigating, macaroni-stuffing organ grinders.” Despite his insults he had ample praise for the Italian Dominican friars who cared for the sick and buried the dead regardless of the risk to themselves.
Sitting by the window of her convent, Sister Barbara opened a letter from home one evening. Inside the letter was a $100 bill her parents had sent. Sister Barbara smiled at the gesture.
As she read the letter by the window, she noticed a shabbily dressed stranger leaning against the lamp post below.
Quickly, she wrote, “Don’t despair. – Sister Barbara,” on a piece of paper,
wrapped the $100 bill in it, got the man’s attention, and tossed it out the window to him. The stranger picked it up, and with a puzzled expression and a tip of his hat, went off down the street.
The next day, Sister Barbara was told that a man was at the convent door insisting on seeing her.
She went down and found the stranger waiting. Without a word, he handed her a huge wad of $100 bills.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“That’s the $8,000 you have coming Sister,” he replied.
“Don’t Despair paid 80 to 1.”