Newly sworn in Fernandina Beach Mayor Johnny Miller has no tolerance for folks that don’t share his extreme views on environmental or energy issues.
In fact, the normally personable Palace Saloon barkeep turns downright nasty when people challenge his obsessive, fanatical opinions on topics ranging from solar panels and wind turbines to fracking and seismic air gun testing, among others. The mayor’s mind is closed and he has no intention of opening it, and that’s obvious when he’s challenged. It has happened to me and others, and just recently local volunteer and do-gooder Mac Morriss was on the receiving end of Mayor Miller’s wrath.
Mr. Morriss, a solid citizen whose many local volunteer efforts include cleaning up local parks such as the Pirate’s Playground behind the Atlantic Recreation Center, was the object of Mr. Miller’s public rage just before Christmas. I was alerted by others to this episode where Mac challenged the content of the following Orlando Sentinel article the mayor posted on his personal Facebook page about wind turbines: (http://touch.orlandosentinel.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83582738/).
When Mac questioned noise issues and birds being killed by wind turbines the mayor, who has never met a “save-the-planet” concept he doesn’t embrace, no matter how extreme, expensive, screwy or impractical, essentially told Mr. Morriss to stop wasting his time, called him “dishonest”, labeled his comments “nonsense”, then promptly “defriended” him so he couldn’t respond. All this angst because Mac doesn’t share Johnny’s vision for wind turbines on Amelia Island, some as high as 660-feet, which is 200-feet taller than the SunTrust Center, the tallest skyscraper in Orlando.
Even the author of the article Mr. Miller posted was skeptical about the 660-foot monstrosities, and that’s what Mac was pointing out, but that didn’t deter our blow-hard mayor from lashing out.
Folks, a 660-foot turbine is 100 feet taller than the Washington monument or higher than a more than 50-story skyscraper and weighs who knows how many thousands of tons. The picture above only shows a 360-foot tall one because I couldn’t find a photo of a 660-foot one. If you don’t like condos more than four stories tall, I promise you won’t like these behemoths. The documented carnage they’ll create among the local bird population is staggering, a charge Mayor Miller dismissed in his exchange with Mr. Morriss. And how about the local airport and military flights? I’m sure they’d be thrilled to dodge these things sticking up all over the island as will folks living within sight of them, which would be everybody. Oh, and according to studies referenced in the Sentinel article, there’s probably not enough wind here to power them …..well, unless you stick them in front of our mayor.
A number of locals saw the exchange between the mayor and Mr. Morriss and it caused a considerable stir, eventually sending the mayor scurrying to delete the entire embarrassing segment from his personal Facebook site. Now when folks go to access the link they receive a message saying “The page you requested cannot be displayed right now. It may be temporarily unavailable, the link you clicked on may be broken or expired, or you may not have permission to view this page.”
I can’t access Johnny’s personal Facebook page anyway as he “defriended” me a long time ago. In our last exchange many, many months ago when I disagreed with him here’s what he had to say about me, bad grammar, misspellings and all: “Just shake your head and keep I’m mind he has nothing better to do with his time, and he lives to bask in what he believes is lime light of respect for his insight and prose, but we all know he is a quirky angry grump in a turtle neck corduroy and matching pocket square.”
Another time following my skepticism of a City Commission anti seismic air gun testing presentation sponsored by Mr. Miller, his wife, friends and “believers” accused me of verbally accosting their invited speaker in a parking lot following her talk, a phony incident that even the speaker said never took place. As each false accusation was posted on Facebook Mr. Miler enthusiastically clicked his “like” button. Mr. Miller’s wife, Lori, eventually apologized to me on Facebook, but not a word from Mr. Miller or any of the puppeteers who pull his strings and who piled on.
Mayor Miller, I know the folks that voted for you did not expect you to go on a global warming, environmental, and climate change crusade. In fact, even in a recent national Pew survey these issues came in dead last in what voters say are their concerns, trailing even “moral break down”, “infrastructure” and “curb lobbyists” as priorities.
Like any other citizen Mr. Miller certainly has a right to express his personal opinions no matter how peculiar, controversial or outrageous. However, with Johnny, he too often brings them into the commission chambers, and in his new position as mayor he embarrasses himself and makes the city look foolish.
Mr. Mayor, this is the perfect time of year for you to make a resolution to focus on what the voters and residents expect from you and what you were elected to do, and that is not to insult your constituents, but to focus on the urgent business of the community. This is an election year, and if you have any intention to continue serving on the commission, your angry, silly blather will only serve to arm your opposition this coming November and blow you out of office.
Speaking Of City Silliness: I see where City Attorney Tammi Bach, is backed into another legal corner by a lawsuit she knows she can’t win, and is considering settlement talks with fired city Human Resources Director Robin Marley, whose suit is considered a slam dunk by every local attorney I’ve talked to about it. Ms. Marley sued the city for violating the state’s Whistleblower Act, claiming that she was fired in Oct. 2014 for reporting “gross mismanagement” within the fire department, including inexperience and unprofessional behavior, to former City Manager Joe Gerrity. So Gerrity fired her. Somebody explain to me why Ms. Marley would even consider settling this suit — brought to us courtesy of Mr. Gerrity and Ms. Bach — when she is expected to win millions of tax payer dollars? Oh, also why does Ms. Bach have to go all the way to Miami to bring in litigation attorney David Miller to handle this? Miller’s firm, Bryant, Miller and Olive, is the same Miami one that managed to lose the impact fee case that cost the city tax payers millions. And that brings up the topic of why we even need a full time attorney when all this one does is farm out her chores to others?
Pennies (Hopefully Much More) From Heaven: Fernandina Police Chief Jim Hurley rarely asks citizens for anything so when he does folks sit up and pay attention. This is one of those times. Chief Hurly recently sent out a request asking for support for Lt. Jack Bradley in his battle with a particularly nasty cancer — glioblastoma multiforme — or brain cancer. Under the auspices of the Fernandina Foundation Police Foundation Chief Hurley announced a GoFundMe campaign in support of an effort called “Drop for Cops Parachute Challenge.”
On May 15, which is Police Memorial Day, local celebrity skydivers will parachute onto the beach in Fort Clinch State Park to raise money for this very important cause. So far folks like Mayor Johnny Miller, Vice Mayor Robin Lentz, Sheriff Bill Leeper, and City Commissioner Tim Poynter already lined up to skydive into Fort Clinch.
According to Chief Hurley, “Jack Bradley has faithfully served the citizens of Nassau County, Florida for more than thirty (30) years. Sadly, he is not eligible for full retirement benefits from the City of Fernandina Beach, nor is he eligible for any benefits from previous employment pension plans. If Jack should pass away or be unable to work during the next four years he would receive only reduced benefits and his wife Constance would not be eligible for spousal benefits in the future.”
For more information about Lt. Bradley’s situation, the special event, or to contribute to this cause, visit https://www.gofundme.com/pbfv26p2 or call Chief Hurley (904) 310-3201.
I would urge folks to strongly consider supporting Lt. Bradley, and as friend of mine recently suggested, “even if all you donate is the cost of a local newspaper subscription, it will go a long way toward helping this family.”
Curious Minds Want To Know: When a woman applies for a job at Hooters does management hand her a halter top and say: “Here, fill this out”….?
Very Funny Stuff Department: Humorist Dave Barry issued his “Year In Review” column in late December and to me three of the funniest items in it were the following:
- Greece under intense pressure to meet its debt obligations, gives Germany two of its three remaining goats.
- Abroad, tensions mount on the Korean Peninsula when North Korea, in an unprecedented cyberattack, posts an estimated 23 million negative Yelp reviews of South Korea, including several million containing the phrase “we ordered the dog, which arrived so undercooked that the tail was still wagging.”
- In Paris, 1.5 million people march in a solidarity rally, following the horrific terrorist attacks on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Eyebrows are raised when not a single top U.S. official attends, but several days later, Secretary of State John F. Kerry arrives in France with James Taylor, who — this really happened — performs the song “You’ve Got a Friend.” This bold action strikes fear into the hearts of terrorists, who realize that Secretary Kerry is fully capable, if necessary, of unleashing Barry Manilow.
Strange News Judgment Department: In a lengthy Sunday, December 27 editorial headlined “Why you’ll need the Times-Union more than ever in 2016” Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union Editor Frank Denton outlined a wide variety of very valid reasons for readers to continue to buy and read his newspaper.
His list of incentives was convincing, impressive and wide-ranging, describing the paper’s coverage of legitimate local issues ranging from crime and education to local politics and downtown development among others. He wrote about how the editorial pages will offer a wide range of competing views and how the paper’s digital media and its new magazines will expand coverage.
At the end Editor Denton said “We’d welcome your reaction and ideas.” OK, Frank here’s an area that was conspicuous by its absence in your opinion piece — the sports section and your paper’s over-the-top coverage of The Jacksonville Jaguars, one of the most dreadful teams in the National Football League. Your newspaper wastes page-after-page of valuable news space week-after-week on coverage of this dismal football team — space that could be used to report on the critical topics you listed in your Sunday editorial. Even if the team was any good the coverage would be excessive. Before this hapless team even plays a game readers are subjected to numerous pages of pre-game nonsense and after a game, even more.
Editor Denton responded to an email I sent him expressing these sentiments and responded saying: “I understand and appreciate your point. When we expanded our Jaguars coverage a couple of years ago, we did it by adding more pages, not taking any away from the news and editorial coverage.” Well Mr. Denton, I’d rather have more national and international news coverage with those additional pages, not more coverage of one of the most dismal teams in professional sports
If, as you said, the Times-Union can successfully balance coverage of crime, education, politics, government pension funding, downtown redevelopment, etc. then why should the sports department be exempt unless it’s a wholly owned subsidiary of Shad Kahn’s organization?
Things I Don’t Understand Department: A news broadcast Christmas Eve said that the Black Lives Matter organization was going to stage a protest in downtown Chicago “in hopes of disrupting last minute Christmas shoppers.” Call me dim, but how do these loons, who say they are protesting the shooting of a black teenager by a Chicago police officer, expect to solicite sympathy by thwarting folks who just got off work and are scurrying about trying to pick up last minute gifts or Christmas dinner items for family and friends? Just hearing about it makes me angry at this misguided group of losers and certainly doesn’t make me sympathetic to their cause, just the opposite.
Speaking Of Misguided Loons: Channel 4, a Denver CBS affiliate, has reported that Loring Wirbel, a board member for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado has resigned after urging people to kill supporters of presidential candidate Donald Trump on Facebook. Wirbel’s post states, “The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for Trump and say, ‘This is Goebbels. This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before Election Day.’ They’re not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there’s always force…” Steve House, chair of the Colorado Republican Party said of the incident: “It’s almost like, you will think the way we think, you will do what we want you to do, or we eliminate you.” And that’s not all as it was the second threat against Republicans in Colorado in one week. Fern Delise, 54, of Fountain, CO was arrested after police say she called Planned Parenthood saying, “It’s tempting to walk into a Republican Party meeting with my dead husband’s gun and just start shooting.” Maybe the left wingers in Colorado have been hitting that pot they legalized a little too hard.
Presidential Double Talk: In only his third Oval Office speech since assuming office Barack Obama failed miserably as he tried to reassure the country he has a strategy to defeat ISIS, just a few days after supporters of the blood thirsty group slaughtered 14 people at a California Christmas party. “We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria,” he said. “That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield.” Huh? Wait! What? If ISIL knows it “can’t defeat” the American military, why would they want a ground war? After this less than reassuring and convoluted talk where the 98-pound weakling told ISIS exactly what the U.S wouldn’t do, Obama took off for a three-week luxury Christmas holiday in Hawaii on our dime while the folks in San Bernardino were burying their loved ones.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Chef Kenny Gilbert, the namesake of Gilberts, has announced a new menu and hours for Sunday and for his BBQ lunch. Check them out at www.undergroundkitchen.com. He has added hot chicken and fish to lunch along with his tasty BBQ and brunch is now an “Express BBQ Lunch” with the best brisket east of the Mississippi now offered on Sundays! You can call and pre order brisket and slabs of ribs and they’ll have it ready when you arrive at their 510. S 8th Street, Fernandina Beach Fl location. Also, what better way to start the New Year off than with a smoked mullet and a smoked mullet dip from the only place on Amelia Island you can find such delicacies. Call ’em at 904/310-6374.
Since we are on the subject of Johnny Miller I would like to inform you all of you on how flipping he can truly be. 2 1/2 years ago I came to none other than Johnny Miller with an idea to land tandem skydivers on the beach. When I presented the idea to now mayor Miller he was so excited that he told me that” this was something he could hang his hat on”. So I preceded in spending my money time and effort to go through the proper channels in order to get approval from not only the city, but the state, and federal government. Upon receiving approval from all but the city the time came for my presentation to the city for what I thought would be a slam dunk having been told by Mayor Miller, then Commisioners Miller that it should be fairly easy and that I had his vote. He was the first one to vote no on the proposal. Johnny Miller and I had been friends since the day I moved to the island 7 years ago. Since the proposal I have been unfriend ed and not had one phone call returned from him. He has never reached out to me to offer a reason or an apology. This man’s far left views on everything from slides to sidewalks only lead us to an inevitable end. Bankruptcy! Mr. Miller, please do us all a favor and move to the high desert of California (where I have seen the turbine mills firsthand ) and propose your ideas there, or, get behind the bar and serve the drinks that you are obviously trained in doing.
So, let me get this straight. The “city officials ” can tandem skydive into a state park, but I can’t land on a public beach?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the charitable cause, but really? My heart goes out to the L.t. and his family but it just seems like another city function based on favoritism. Johnny Miller, your a real class act.
Dave, you certainly have a wide spectrum of readers! Does Linda realize she is married to an old fool? When you first moved down there, you thought you might run for mayor some day. It looks like maybe this is the year to run for office. Hope you do. In any event, I hope you have a very happy new year.
How come you never wear the matching pocket square to any of my gigs?
Tammi Bach is just one reason I am glad to not live in the city limits,the others are the idiots that are elected to the city commission.It doesn’t matter what year or whose running, they all turn out the same. Clueless. How many law suits does the city have to lose before the citizens say enough is enough.The good news is they only have two year terms.That way they can only partially bankrupt the city coffers.The bad news is, the new crop isn’t any better.
Great article on “alternate energy sources”. One thought to ponder while the dial spins; they only have a capacity factor of approximately 35 %.
Think the racist comment was pretty poorly placed. When you consider a societal/ cultural group that has been give everything, why do they, blame everyone else for their own self destruction. Read Ben Carson’s book on his truly exceptional escape from the Jackson, Rangel, Sharpton Mrs. Obama type of true racism.
For the 2016 wrecker;
Amelia Island Windmill Farm ( AIWF ) set for lift-off on Labor Day 2016 . The AIWF control center at Main Beach has chosen Labor Day because their planners heard it would e the day and place where the magnetic pull would be reduced to a level that would allow the entire island to orbit into space. Stay tuned.
Wishing you a great year
Dave, first and most important, Happy New year. I am so looking forward already to 2017, why you might ask? Not to see if the Mayor runs for office again or if he decides to check out of the asylum we know as City Government. I am looking forward to reading your bashing of our newly elected President. I know it won’t really matter what she does or doesn’t do, I know she will be I everyone of your blogs from day one. Hoping you have a safe and healthy new year
Well . . . if it is so easy to bring mayo Miller to steam . . . maybe we can use the steam to power something useful . . . like an automatic bird feeder.
The one thing I like about people like that is that they are predictable. However, their inability to deal with simple concepts like ‘Logic’ or ‘Common Sense’ renders them irrelevant too fast to be enjoyable.
Happy New Year!
Another great blog Dave – agree with all of it, and I’m one of the (usually) silent, uncommitted majority. OK probably not so silent, just grousing.
Happy New year to you and yours.
Let’s hope our politicians (of all persuasions) will have the balls to stop playing politics, seek to be statesmanlike and concentrate on the REALLY IMPORTANT issues in 2016, locally, nationally and internationally. It’s embarrassing the disrespect that they have engendered over the past several years at all levels, other than the extremes, of society.
Keep your stealth racist opinions to yourself.
You are an old fool.
Happy New year.
Now go away.