In newsrooms where I worked it was fashionable to sneer at businesses.
Even many of the business writers and editors I knew considered most corporations to be greedy, polluters, selfish and cold-hearted. Only government and its regulations could save us from these evil schemers proclaimed my media pals.
I thought that ironic since the media “businesses” we worked for paid our salaries with advertising revenue generated from other businesses. My peers would bite the hand that fed us yet praise the government, which took up to 40 percent of our salaries and squandered it.
Like many activists and government employees, who advocate for and make all of the really stupid regulations, most reporters have never worked in a “business” or built a business. Yet they presume to dictate what they think the rules should be. Nothing has changed.
When I left the news business to go to the “other side” by accepting a public relations position with IBM, I witnessed firsthand how dead-wrong so many of my former colleagues were.
I discovered that “businesses” aren’t bad. Those that are fail. Consumers don’t buy from cheaters and they don’t buy shoddy products or accept lousy service. Businesses can’t force anybody to buy or do anything. It depends on good will, good service and good products. Bad companies don’t last long. Neither do bad products. Enron and the Edsel are two examples. Worldcom and New Coke two others.
I was pleasantly surprised after joining IBM when I discovered just how far a company would go to be what is called a “good corporate citizen.” IBM has a well-deserved pristine image because it went overboard from its hiring practices and lavish benefits to its generous corporate giving programs and educational opportunities, among others. Union attempts to organize IBM were laughable. Employees would end up having to pay dues to a faceless, thuggish organization that could do nothing for them but irritate a benevolent management and take a chunk of their take-home pay.
I also worked for the global conglomerate, ITT, and the Fortune 50 oil, natural gas and coal firm, Coastal Corporation. I didn’t meet the devil nor was I ever asked to do anything to compromise my principles or take an action I considered deceptive or wrong. When the companies made mistakes, they were admitted. I never lied and was never asked to lie. Those that did were fired.
As a reporter covering events and asking questions and as a company spokesperson providing answers and projecting and protecting a firm’s reputation I’ve been on both sides. I’ve seen my news colleagues leave out answers or parts of a dialogue in a news story to fit their preferred narrative and I’ve been part of PR teams scrambling to repair damage caused by the media’s outrageous behavior.
I thought about this as I’ve been listening to and reading about the Amelia River Resort’s plans for the Amelia River Golf Course.
The local media have been brutal toward developer Steve Leggett’s Signature Land company’s proposal. The lone exception so far is a very fair and balanced article penned by Suanne Thamm, for the online newspaper Fernandina Observer headlined “Developer plans for Amelia River Golf Course leasehold stalled.” It provides an unbiased, factual detailed description of the project as well as airing its opponent’s objections.
The News-Leader on the other hand has carried nothing but negative reporting and opinions about the project, even in their alleged “news reporting.” The only exception was a full-page ad in that paper June 14 purchased by the developer that highlighted the project’s positive aspects. But, hey, how can the News-Leader pay their anti-development reporters and left-wing editor if they don’t accept their victim’s advertising money.
Leggett, a well-respected, longtime Jacksonville area businessman, wants to invest 150-200 million dollars to build a resort complex on the current Amelia Golf Course property that’s leased from the city by the Sheffield family. Leggett’s proposal is to eliminate the money-losing golf course and build a resort hotel, instructive driving course, car museum, go-cart area, bowling lanes, swimming pool, etc. He says he will even be adding trees to barren spaces, and that any traffic and noise impact will be minimal. He has studies to back that up. The activists and media don’t care. It’s bad they say. Go away. Stepping the Fernandina Beach City Commission through the proposal at last Tuesday’s meeting, authorities detailed the projects benefits to the community ranging from educational and recreational venues to noise monitoring and conservation. Commissioner Chip Ross said the key issue for him would be understanding how the project would make the island more livable. When a company consultant with a thick British accent said it would bring “opportunity and growth” Ross smirked and said, “You’ve just touched the third rail.” Her response was the opposite of what the folks in THAT audience wanted to hear, prompting a few locals in the unruly outside crowd to observe: “She ain’t from these parts.” A local commented to me that if those activists in attendance had to place a pin on a map showing where they live, more than half of the pins would be outside of Fernandina Beach, many off the island, indicating that they “ain’t from these parts” either.
However, even weeks before Leggett’s group had an opportunity to explain the project, recent California transplant and loopy Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Mike “Left Coast” Lednovich, suggested the city snatch the Sheffield’s 50-year lease and turn the entire area into a park. This had City Attorney Tammi Bach’s, and City Manager Dale Martin’s eyes spinning like a slot machine jackpot payline and may have put Lednovich and the city in legal jeopardy. We’ll see.
The fist-shaking activist groups – Conserve Amelia Now, the local Sierra Club, and Amelia Tree Conservancy — that formed an alliance during the Amelia Bluff housing development brouhaha, have been equally brutal. This past Tuesday while Leggett and his crew were inside City Hall explaining the proposal in detail to a City Commission workshop the activists formed a conga line of protesters outside wearing silly hats and waving handmade signs, in their efforts to drive Leggett off the island. They’re also attempting to have Mayor Johnny Miller recused from voting because he is employed by the Sheffield’s as a bartender at their Palace Saloon. He wasn’t recused during a vote on a Fletcher Avenue issue about property owned by the Sheffield’s when he voted against his boss a couple of years ago or so. So why recuse him now?
The City Commission will vote on the project July 16. It’ll get even more interesting between now and then. Stay tuned.
Just A Thought: In the race for their party’s presidential nomination it appears the Democrats are just one cowboy short of the Village People. Texas resident Beto O’Rourke doesn’t really count, as a “cowboy” as this is the last thing anyone could call this skinny, arm waving, stammering, little phony who can yammer on for 30 to 45 minutes without saying anything. He’s like a doll, you pull the sting in his back and his arms wave and his mouth moves spouting meaningless clichés. Like most of the other Democrats he’s amusing to watch thrash about but he’s not getting many lookers. His latest rally attracted a whopping three people. My favorites so far are New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who is polling at zero. Not one person in Iowa intends to vote for this creep, however, he’s more popular there than he is in New York. Dim New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand is hot on the mayor’s trail, also registering a zero, and saying just recently that folks that are pro-life shouldn’t even be judges. No wonder New Yorkers are departing that state in record numbers.
Why Trump Should Prefer A Biden Opponent: The Onion, a national parody news site, apparently read about Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’s new positions on immigration, abortion, China, etc.
Just a few years ago Biden gave a speech saying (I’m not making any of this up) he wanted to build a 14-story wall on the southern border and that illegal immigration must be stopped. Today he wants open borders and promises free health care to all those making it across. His reversal on abortion is another example of his blatant hypocrisy. For 40 years this Roman Catholic career politician agreed that abortion should not be funded with federal tax dollars as called for in the Hyde Amendment. Under pressure from the rabid socialist wing of his party he reversed 40 years of opposition and his morality. But morality and ethics apparently don’t matter to this career politician who has never held a real job. So, rather than offering himself as an alternative to the radicalism of his party’s far left, Biden is willing to lap it up. Last week he called for Attorney General William Barr to resign. In 1995 while head of the Senate Judiciary Committee he said Barr was one of the best Attorney Generals he ever worked with. For all of his 40 plus years in government he has declared that China is not an enemy of the U.S. saying it not a threat. Last week he changed his mind. His flips are having trouble keeping up with his flops. President Trump would have so much fun with this loser on the debate stage, it would be embarrassing.
In a piece headlined “Report: Massive Hypocrisy Just Flat-Out Gets the Job Done”, the national Onion appears to be successfully mocking the very dim former vice president as follows:
“WASHINGTON—Revealing that bald-faced lies and shameless double standards are the most reliable way to outmaneuver one’s opponents, a report released Wednesday confirmed that massive hypocrisy just flat-out gets the job done. “Changing your stance based on temporary expediency has proven time and again to be a slam dunk in terms of advancing an agenda,” read the report, which went on to state that there are no major downsides to doing one thing one year and doing the exact opposite the next because the majority of people do not remember anything that happens in the world for more than a week or so. “Whether you are engaged in a carefully calculated strategy of dishonesty or just spouting the first lie that comes into your head, hypocrisy works wonders. You will never be held accountable and will instead be admired for your strength and pragmatism as a leader. Evidence also suggests the only way to defeat a hypocrite in power is to become an even bigger hypocrite yourself.” The report went on to conclude that not only is brazen, amoral hypocrisy the best way to enact your personal vision, it’s also fun.”
The Varicose Caucus? Commenting on the two oldest candidates in the Democratic Party’s bid for the presidential nomination, Andrew Ferguson, a staff writer at “The Atlantic” recently wrote this about Joe Biden (76) and Bernie Sanders (77): “Three years ago, both were given the chance to leave the field gracefully. But they. Will. Not. Go. Away. Sanders and Biden have made themselves the equivalent of the old dude cruising the pool at Club Med in his sagging Speedo, capped teeth gleaming, knobby shoulders and fallen pecs bronzed and shiny with tanning oil, gold chains twinkling through the chest hair. I’m not saying one of them won’t succeed in his quest—though I have my doubts about both—but in a saner world, it would be obvious that the quest itself is unseemly. They do no credit to their peers with their refusal to acknowledge their natural and inevitable station in life.”
As my friend and “American Spectator” writer, Larry Thornberry, suggests maybe they should be called the “Varicose Caucus.”
Beam Me Up Scotty: A recent issue of the Wall Street Journal featured a Q&A interview with Enterprise Holdings Inc.’s 43-year-old President and Chief Operating Officer, Chrissy Taylor, whose grandfather was founder of the company and whose dad is its current chairman. In it the reporter asked a lot of questions about the impact of ride sharing on the company, self-driving cars, and competition. But he didn’t ask one question that has perplexed me, particularly the last two times I attempted to rent cars from Enterprise locally: What do the firm’s employees do to occupy their time since they appear not to have any cars? Both times I’ve attempted to pick up a car from Enterprise locally I was told there were none, even when I had booked far in advance and was told over the phone the day before my departure that cars were available. Just wondering!