Island Issues

Govt. Contempt For Fernandina’s Citizens On Public Display

When we wake up, Linda and I scan the newspaper, turn on the news, then mutually proclaim how fortunate we are to live in Florida, governed by Ron DeSantis.

Imagine waking up in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, or California and anticipating with dread the bizarre daily abuses to be dispensed by the oblivious and obnoxious bullies such as Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom, and the others, all contenders for the William J. Le Petomane governance award.

It would be like “The Wizard of Oz’s” Dorothy awakening in her Kansas farmhouse to discover that instead of kindly Aunt Em lovingly peering down at her she’s staring at the cackling Wicked Witch of the West.

In addition to their numerous other missteps, California’s Newsom and New York’s Cuomo have botched the COVID-19 pandemic so badly it’ll take their population-fleeing states many years to recover from their bumbling ineptitude. The others are not far behind.

Meanwhile, Governor DeSantis has Florida humming like a fine-tuned engine, with new residents rushing in resulting in the pickup of a new congressional seat. Schools are open, virus cases are down, vaccinations are up, businesses are making money and the beaches are packed. The biggest problem is with employers trying to find workers that the Biden administration is sending our tax money to so they can sit home on their couches. With federal unemployment benefits so high joblessness has become a new occupation.

With the exception of DeSantis, politicians like Biden, Newsom, and Cuomo and other power-drunk Democrats have discovered a new sense of purpose in the virus lockdowns. They enjoy the feeling of power and attention it gives them as they tell us how to live our lives.

In Fernandina Beach we are currently experiencing pompous pintsized political potentates attempting to exercise their indefinite “emergency powers” over local citizens. Fortunately, Governor DeSantis has issued orders to reign in these mini monarchs such as City Manager Dale “Big Spender” Martin, the pretentious, arrogant unofficial city mouthpiece Commissioner Dr. Chip “Mask Up” Ross, and a clueless Mayor Mike “Left Coast” Lednovich, a trio that makes Oz’s Wicked Witch look like Tinkerbell.

For example, when local watch dog group Common Sense founder and spokesperson Jack Knocke recently asked Mr. Martin and the City Commissions if they would lift some of the lockdown restrictions to accommodate more residents at an April 6 Building Department city hall “workshop” unofficial and self-appointed city mouthpiece Ross responded with a flat out “No” and pointed to France as the reason.

Knocke cited statistics showing that the infections were dropping, vaccinations were way up, and showing that those most vulnerable had already been vaccinated.

“Parlez-vous français?”

Ross, a doctor in the Amelia Island Nassau Baptist Hospital emergency room, reinforced his unequivocal “No”  telling Mr. Knocke in an email response: “I encourage you to  talk to the Mayor of Paris, France” who Ross apparently consults regularly for advice on medical and Fernandina community issues. His next line should have been: “I’m not really a doctor, I just play one on TV.”

A frustrated Mr. Knocke did some research and responded to Ross explaining: “We do not have a faltering vaccine rollout like they do in France – totally opposite.  Two thirds of survey respondents in France are reluctant to take the vaccine. They also have massive delivery issues.

“We do not have a massive spread here – our numbers are dramatically down heading toward zero locally – totally opposite.

“For you to compare two diametrically opposed situations is laughable.”

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece last month (March 20-21) headlined “Don’t Trust the Elites” Governor DeSantis summed up the ineptitude of people like Ross, Lednovich and Martin writing: “For months we were told to ‘trust the experts,’ but far too often over the past year those who were most influential in our society – in public health, government and media – proved incapable of rising to the moment.”

In a nutshell a local trio of uninformed, nutty politicos are telling us that even those who have been vaccinated and are no longer at risk have to wear masks to protect those who refuse to get vaccinations.

What these nitwits want to do within the confines of city hall is their call. Thank goodness we have Governor DeSantis protecting us from their insanity on the streets and in our homes. Maybe we need to explain it to Commissioner Ross in French.

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Neal Freeman

Just How Good Do We Have It? Amelia Island resident, author, nationally respected columnist, the late William Buckley’s confidant, former National Review D.C. bureau chief,  and “Firing Line” TV producer, Neal Freeman, was generous enough to send me a column this week that he penned for the American Spectator verifying some of what I wrote above and adding much more meat to the stew. For his entire article go to https://spectator.org/florida-2024-ron-desantis-covid/?web=1&wdLOR=c2E72C1E7-FD14-4722-95DD-B3F57B602CA5 .

Here’s a sampling:Next year, DeSantis will, perforce, run as Ron DeSantis, and the record is mostly good. He opened the schools before the Whitmer–Newsom crowd. (He opened the restaurants, too, which in Florida are almost as politically talismanic as the schools.) He gave shots to old people first, which millions of old voters considered to be sound public policy. He muted opposition from the teachers’ and environmental lobbies without giving away the store. He raised serious taxes only on out-of-state retailers (which in-state retailers considered to be sound public policy). He tossed red meat to the Trump pack with an “anti-riot” bill. And he kept the books roughly in balance during a public health crisis, holding unemployment to a current level of 4.7 percent. It is a thoroughly defensible record for a scandal-free, storm-free administration.”

If you don’t want to open the link here’s my favorite line in Mr. Freeman’s piece: “As of this writing, Biden is highly popular in Florida, well above water in state polls at 54 for and 42 against. What does that say? Not much, in my view, other than that a genial fellow hobbling down the sidewalk tossing thousand-dollar bills at strangers can make a nice first impression.”

I love this guy’s writing. In addition to his highly readable “Skirmishes” published in 2017, Neal has a new book available – “Walk With Me” subtitled “an invitation to faith”, a tome that appeals to a wide audience of believers, non-believers, and agnostics or anybody who appreciates good crisp writing. The books are available on Amazon.

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Liar, Liar! Pants On Fire: California transplant and now Fernandina Beach Mayor Mike “Left Coast” Lednovich, Building Department head Steve Beckman, and Beckman’s staff don’t like being called out by residents angered over the out-of-control city Building Department’s permitting and inspection extortion tactics.

During an April 6 “Workshop” dozens of furious builders, architects, contractors, and homeowners, supported by the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce, feverishly described their dissatisfaction with Beckman and his crew of city hall pickpockets as they personally and vocally publicly detailed their costly, frustrating, time wasting and miserable experiences.

Left Coast Lednovich’s response was to insinuate that some of the disgruntled resident’s versions of  events they described “may be true and some may be false.” He says folks are providing “false versions of events.” Isn’t that accusing them of lying? He says “No.” OK, then what’s it called Mr. Mayor?

An irritated Beckman didn’t pull his punches. He says the angry locals are full of it. His staff feels the same way and they went on Facebook to express their displeasure, a tactic Beckman suggested in a memo to them that they should discontinue: “I would like to Please ask that staff refrains from making comments on Facebook,” he wrote, adding what may be the city hall understatement of the year: “Although well intentioned it is not helping.”

In an April 7 memo to Dale Martin, Beckman flat out accused the local folks of lying, summing up his feelings about the “Workshop” session in a single sentence: “The more I think about what happened last night, the worse I feel. I am not sure at this point how to proceed with things that I should not be having to worry about.” The anger was all directed at him and his department, but he says that’s not anything he should have “to worry about.” Mel Brooks couldn’t have written a better script.

He didn’t stop there but accused a prominent local of lying writing: “(Name omitted here) got up and flat out lied about his bathroom and put on the record things that did not happen and we have no opportunity to put the facts on the record. This makes us look terrible and the facts do not support that.”

The Building Department’s Facebook comments responding to upset citizens ranged from enraged to outraged with no middle ground. Building Department employees pooh-poohed the transition of the building department to the county; whined about doing their jobs; and even claimed that tax payers don’t fund their salaries. They also said that citizens reporting abuse have no evidence and they accused those who brought complaints of being the ones breaking the law.

It appears that this trio of the mayor, the department head, and his staff are racing to see who can get it most wrong and offend the largest number of residents. If there was ever an organization ripe for a Florida State Attorney’s investigation, Fernandina Beach’s Building Department is it.

***

Help Wanted:  Common Sense, the local watch dog group that keeps an eagle-eye on shenanigans like the above conducted by incompetent, inept and incorrigible elected and appointed government officials could use more citizen help. No experience necessary. If you want to assist in helping Common Sense get the word out go to info@commonsensefb.org and offer your talents.

***

Just Kidding? I read the other day that after hearing about the teenage black girl that was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio for trying to stab another black girl to death, a former Barack Obama advisor, Valerie Jarrett, said: “Police have no right to stop knife fights.” If someone with a knife decided to use it on Ms. Jarret might her last words be: “I was just kidding.” Not to be outdone, the mayor of Columbus, a schmuck named Andrew Ginther, said: “We’re all responsible.” As columnist Burt Prelutsky so eloquently put it:  “I hope that in homes throughout Columbus, reasonable people were muttering: “Not me, a__hole.”

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Rick Monday’s great play!

Baseball’s Greatest Play & Its Worst: On April 25, 1976, when current Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was 17 years old, Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday performed what many American baseball fans say was one of baseball’s best plays ever.

During that year of the country’s bicentennial celebration the Cubs were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers when in the fourth inning a couple of mental midgets jumped onto the field, tossed a U.S. flag on the ground, and attempted to set it on fire.

Monday sprinted over and scooped up the flag, saving it from the flames, a move immediately hailed by the fans, who broke into a spontaneous rendition of “God Bless America.” ESPN later named Monday’s act one of the top 100 plays in the history of baseball.

Forty-five years later, the 62-year-old tone-deaf Manfred committed what most fans say will go down in baseball history as its biggest error – yanking the All-Star game out of Atlanta because of a Georgia voter law he didn’t read or understand, a blunder that will haunt him as long as the easy ground ball that plagued Boston first baseman Bill Buckner, a historic misstep that Red Sox fans say cost their team the World Series against the New York Mets in 1986.

The difference is that Buckner’s play was an error that may have cost his team a championship. Manfred’s was intentional and will cost Major League Baseball tens of thousands of once devoted fans and its reputation.

The game needs more Rick Monday’s and Bill Buckner’s and a lot fewer spineless twits like Manfred.

***

“And The Award For The Dumbest Speech Goes To…”: Just how far the left-wing narcissistic Hollywood crowd has fallen from favor with most Americans was apparent during the Academy Awards show last Sunday, April  25.

The ABC TV audience was the smallest in the history of the event. Even the gal who won the award for “best actress” and the fellow that won for “best actor” didn’t bother to show up.

In 1998 when “Titanic” won the best picture Oscar a TV audience of 55 million watched. This year a paltry viewing audience of just 9.85 million slept through a series of mindless screeds from Hollywood’s brilliant political scientists, a 58 percent drop from last year when 23.6 million bored viewers tuned into the Democrat lovefest. It was more fun when these make-believe bozos were running around patting each other on the back telling us how wonderful they were. Its currently become an unwatchable far-left political snoozer.

As for the movies these twits make, “Bill Maher called it” said the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn. Two weeks before the Oscars aired, the HBO host of “Real Time with Bill Maher” said that after a year of Covid-19, he had hoped for a little Hollywood escapism. But “judging by this year’s best-picture nominees,” he said, “you couldn’t have a worse time at the movies if there was an active shooter in the theater.”

Like their awards show, the films these folks make stink up the joint. They’re about sad people with sad stories and sad endings. They’re like watching little Timmie fall into the well, Lassie diving in after him, and the entire thing caving in on them as the ending credits scroll down.

A desperate woman named Frances McDormand, who had something to do with a film called “Nomadland”, pleaded with the slim TV audience saying: “Please watch our movie and one day soon take everyone you know to a theatre and watch every film that is presented here tonight.”

That’s similar to a fast-food chain CEO begging prospective customers to buy more of its products after being insulted by its rude employees that served them overpriced inedible meals.

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy doesn’t have to beg prospective diners to “eat more chicken.” Folks are already flocking to his stores because they’re served tasty reasonably priced products by polite and helpful employees. It’s a basic marketing concept Hollywood doesn’t get.

I liked it better when Hollywood wasn’t telling us how despicable we are and was trying to entertain us. The rubbish these nitwits produce today brings to mind playwright Tom Stoppard’s comment: “Films are frogs insisting that they are princes.”

***

Speaking Of Viewer Disconnect: TV networks other than FOX, Newsmax, and OAN are discovering that without Donald Trump to kick around their viewership numbers are dropping like a rock. Love him or hate him, Trump was a ratings magnet for the left-wing networks that are now scrambling to attract viewers without him in the White House.

A guy named Cesar Conde, chief of NBCUniversal News Group thinks the answer is to beef up his already far-left coverage, rather than appeal to a wider audience.

Instead of the daily diet of Trump bashing, he says his news team will now focus on a variety of lefty story lines that he feels will draw in audiences. They include he says: “Debates between progressive politicians and more centrist Democrats; fissures in the Republican party; the continuing reckoning over racial injustice in the U.S.’; climate change; and COVID-19’s trajectory.”

How did a guy so disconnected from the American public rise to such a prominent position at a once proud television network?

***

Things I Wish I’d Said: “Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life. Give a man someone else’s fish and he’ll vote for you.” – anonymous.

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Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Tomorrow, May 1, is Derby Day, and I’ll be at the upstairs bar beginning around 2:30 pm at the Main Beach Sandbar & Kitchen offering folks an opportunity to blindly take a chance on picking up a few bucks by randomly drawing the name of the winning Kentucky Derby horse from an envelope. At this writing there are 20 horses expected to start the race so for a measly 10 bucks the winner can pick up $200.  And “NO” you can’t look at the name of the horse before you plop down ten dollars and pluck it out of the envelope. Post time is 6:57 p.m. Yesterday, April 29, would have been the first day of the Shrimp Festival, traditionally kicked off by a parade. Since the festival and parade were cancelled by a group that claims they know better than most, a group of locals decided to hold their own downtown parade that took place yesterday and included an enthusiastic crowd of folks on bikes, driving jeeps, golf carts, etc. There were even a few local pirates.

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16 Comments

Robert Steele - 01. May, 2021 - Reply

Dave, I’ve been observing for a year now that you can tell a lot about people from their reaction to the virus. (Here in New Mexico, where people still drive alone in their cars with multiple masks on and windows tightly shut, it is regarded as perhaps the deadliest plague in human history.)

A certain species of politician has delighted in this opportunity to exercise the kind of granular control over their hapless subjects that they hitherto dared only dream of. It’s no wonder they are ever so reluctant to give it up.

Some politicians live to rule others. Fortunately for them, some people live to be ruled.

They were adamant that we “follow the science” until the science inexplicably went veering off into the sunny uplands, and was subsequently revealed as a right-wing plot of some kind. Now the message is: “Screw the science! This isn’t over yet! It just can’t be!”

Charles E Brown - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

The next Governor’s Race will most likely have Democratic Socialist Communist Nicole “Niki” Freíd running against America’s Best Governor The Honorable Ron DeSantis. This flaming liberal has done nothing to help the state but is constantly criticizing our Governor. She tried to slow the Concealed Carry License service each applicant pays for until the NRA threatened to file suit. It still takes her much longer than her Republican predecessor. I predict DeSantis will be re-elected in a landslide.

Edgar - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

I see a lot of mis-information and general lack of understanding expressed here. One cannot blame city staff for trying to explain what they do, more power to them. How about listening for a change, learn, then judge….

Joe Murphy - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

Great Dave. Hit them where it hurts in the “common sense” area. This city did not get it’s beauty and charm from any politician. Over the last 40 plus years it all came from the residence who cared and smart common sense business people. Now it’s hard to think of it as my hometown.

Karen - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

I uphold my responsibility to the citizens of Fernandina Beach and Nassau County. I am not a crook nor am I unethical. I have been a permit specialist for over 20 years. 15 years with Nassau County and now with the COFB. I love what I do. Do we like to get permits? No, but we have to. Would I like to hire jimmy bob around the corner to build my addition for less than a licensed contractor? Of course but I wouldn’t do it. I have seen too many citizens taken advantage of. Is our staff or any other person, or department who works for city, county , federal government perfect? No. My building official is doing his job. The Monday morning Armchair quarterbacks need to give it a rest. He’s following the building code. It’s a nice little book that people should read. I am not getting in a fuss or trying to start one. I am protecting my department and my fellow coworkers from unfounded claims and accusations. We as well as every other department in the city and county take care of its citizens every day.

Jenny Steele - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

Hear, hear, Dave! Robert and I went for a late lunch in town yesterday as it’s been one of the first sunny days to be able to sit outside. We are still in semi-lockdown here in NM and the table next to use had people all SITTING DOWN fully masked, and were sliding their masks over when they wanted to eat or drink something. Our liberal governor here has put the fear of God into everyone. I walked past someone behind a wall in their own garden the other day and they were wearing a mask. They drive around in their cars here wearing masks! Missing you all!

Duke Lebold - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

Bravo, Sir David:

I love your writing and look forward to it each week.

Should we try to organize a recall to save our city from the Nitwits?

Best Regs. Duke

Michaelene Gon - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

Mask-up Ross needs a one way ticket to Pennsylvania, Minnesotta, Ny, etc…close & lock forever! Control freak!

Nomadi Costieri - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

We should all be concerned when Building Department staff can post comments on multiple social media platforms (Facebook; this Blog). The activity suggests city employees are failing to uphold their key responsibility to the citizens of Fernandina Beach. As stated in the City’s Employee Manual, “Employees, whether on or off duty, owe a duty to the City and its citizens to act in a way that will merit the continued trust and confidence of the public. Disregarding or failing to comply with this standard of ethics and conduct could lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.”

Allowing staff to become publicly embroiled in controversy suggests a lack of leadership. Allowing staff to make misinformed statements based upon ignorance of how City government functions (as in “Tax dollars do not pay my salary”) is inexcusable. As stated in 2020-2021 City Budget, the largest single source of expenditures in the General Fund is for Public Safety and covers the Police and Fire operations as well as the Building and Permitting department and Code Enforcement. If it is the intent to encourage the Building Department to be a self-sustaining activity, it should be classified as another Enterprise Fund.

Peter Waldron - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

Thanks

Richard Troxel - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

Not sure how city employees don’t get paid by the city. Are they are independent contractors that
are paid from fees charged to individuals applying for permits and inspections? That may explain
the high costs of such services,ie: The more we charge the more we earn! Also if they aren’t paid
by the city how do they qualify for city perks such as medical insurance and retirement plans.As a
retired Builder,I never paid a sub-contractor nothing more than what he billed me for.What he did
with his money after being paid was up to him.The IRS is very specific about how sub- contractors are
described.If they are given a work schedule with starting and quitting times they are considered an
employee and subject to withholding taxes and other taxes by the Contractor. This may open up one
more can of worms for the city if this is the case. There are state of Florida rules and regs that control
these situations.Anyone know who to call? Hello!

chuck hall - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

Sounds on Centre returns May 7th at 6- PM downtown. We won’t be advertising it much, as the city manager wants us to control mask wearing and social distancing.
So, this concert will be for those in the know, marketed mostly by word-of-mouth.
Our band this concert is Band-on-the-Run, a well known local group that has played for our fans before.
I hope to see you there.
We are also conducting EmCee auditions. Want to run the show? Contact me at banjoman150@gmail.com
thanks
Chuck

Albert - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

It is sad that some people’s only wish is to slash and burn….destroy is the only way….fire everybody.
Then what? Where are the adults? Does anyone have common sense anymore (pun intended)?
Must be pandemic syndrome on the streets of Fernandina Beach.

Karen Austin - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

I love my building department and we do a great job. Also I am on my computer and at my home. I help people every day. Not only with building department services but also directing them to other services the building department does not have any control over. The people who are stirred up got caught for something that was wrong, whether it was working without a permit or unlicensed contractors doing the work. Our fees haven’t increased, and they are approved by the city commission. Tax dollars do not pay my salary. Tax dollars do not pay the salary of the Nassau county building department either. We have plenty of citizens and contractors who are happy with our department. It’s just more fun for you to find those who aren’t.

Patrick J. Keogh - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

You sell a commodity service; permitting and enforcement of the FL Building Code. That same authority is delegated to county government. Citizens of COFB are also citizens of Nassau County. If you review the Chamber survey folks are generally very dissatisfied with the way you administer your authorities. Offered the choice between procuring city or county service I think you know how folks would choose. Were that to happen I think you should get your resume ready. Oh, and if I were you I’d lose that “blame the customer” attitude. That only works with your current employer.

Karen - 30. Apr, 2021 - Reply

My resume doesn’t need to be ready. AND I don’t have a blame the customer attitude. My employer is great to work for. Been here over 5 years and was at the county for 15. I love what I do. It’s very hard to defend what you love when the people who are attacking you are people who got mad because they got a stop work order for building without a permit. No one likes to get a permit but then again no one would like that person’s roof or shed in their yard after a storm because it wasn’t built properly and inspected.