Ask any of the folks representing the three conservationist groups – Conserve Amelia Now (CAN), Amelia Tree Conservatory (ATC), The local Sierra Club – how much they have contributed to the city’s conservation fund, and they’ll quickly change the subject. The answer is nothing, not a cent.
The only groups that have contributed and taken steps to preserve and enhance the local environment — the wetlands, the tree canopy and more — are the folks this rabid trio of screamers and fist-shakers want to run out of town – the developers they despise. All the alleged conservationists have funded is a legal maneuver that, if successful, will hose local taxpayers and end generous conservation contributions by developers.
These guillotine blade-sharpening environmental extremists, whose arguments are completely impenetrable to human logic, have established a “Go Fund Me” social media account that so far has raised almost $17,000 to screw us — the Fernandina Beach taxpayers. That money is earmarked to pay for legal action against the city to cook the developer’s golden egg-laying goose leaving us — the taxpayer — to pick up the city’s legal tab as it rightly defends its decision to allow the developer to protect his $2.5 million investment and complete his permitted Amelia Bluff housing subdivision.
By some estimations this misguided litigation could cost local homeowners between $60-$600 per house annually as well as cutting off the developer’s money to the city’s conservation fund. They don’t care.
Who are the folks throwing this histrionic hissy-fit? Its the usual cast of local suspects that can be found protesting any changes made in Fernandina Beach since Jean Ribault’s 1562 landing here. They include ATC President Margaret Kirkland, who doesn’t even live in Fernandina Beach; Perpetual protester Julie Ferreira, head of the local Sierra Club, who’s using the backs of her aged anti-Vietnam War posters to voice disapproval; Michael Miller, who created the CAN group and once signed his name as “Captain USCG” but ceased doing that after the Coast Guard told him to knock it off as it doesn’t subscribe to his mania; Robert “Bullet Bob” Weintraub, the trio’s propagandist, an unhinged old fool, who publicly threatened to shoot me and my wife, and a few more like this. This is a motley crew of badly wilted 1960’s flower-power throwbacks, not folks you want to invite to Sunday lunch with the family.
Another of these adamant crackpots is one of the most embarrassing choices the voters of Fernandina Beach have ever made and currently sits on the City Commission — California transplant and 18-month resident, Mike “Left Coast” Lednovich. This guy has actually contributed money to the “Go Fund Me” account to pay for legal action against the people he represents, swore to protect, and who voted for him. Think about that for a minute. A sitting city commissioner is helping finance legal action to oppose a decision approved by the city he represents, that his commission peers agreed on, and could significantly increase his constituents’ taxes. In addition, he publicly called for a mob to descend on City Hall to protest the Amelia Bluff development during the vote on it. Last Tuesday this nut-job made a presentation that advocated terminating the Sheffield’s Amelia River Golf Course lease — a course of action he admitted would instigate legal action against the city. That was just one of the harebrained suggestions he made at last Tuesday’s Commission session that had City Manager Dale Martin and Legal Counsel Tammi Bach rolling their eyes. This guy is as bone-ignorant about the role of an elected representative in a representative democracy as he is about everything else. Ms. Bach made it clear during the meeting that Lednovich’s claptrap was not an agenda item and not sanctioned by the city or commission.
Lednovich’s objections are as rational as that of a belligerent five-year-old’s kitchen-floor tantrum when denied a pre-dinner cookie and bear greater similarity to a psychological disorder than persuasive arguments. Don’t believe it? Go to city hall during a Commission session and watch his blank expression and listen to some of his jaw-dropping blather. This is a guy who told me in mid-March — in front of witnesses — that a developer couldn’t sue the city for loss of future revenue because “that is against the law.” When I asked what law that would be he admitted he didn’t know. A local friend and writer I greatly admire cleverly refers to Lednovich’s antics as “civic abortion”, a process of killing projects before they even have a chance to be presented for official consideration.
Chip Ross, the other commissioner, who voted against the Amelia Bluff development isn’t much better as he usually sings the same out of tune songs as Lednovich from the liberal hymnal given to them by left-wing local high school indoctrinator Ron “Get off my lawn you little bastards” Sapp. However, Ross did tell me he respects the Commission’s 3-2 decision approving Amelia Bluff. He also thinks the city should spend public money to buy chunks of property for conservation purposes. Why doesn’t he tell the ATC, Sierra Club or Conserve Amelia Now to deposit their “screw-the-taxpayer” Go Fund Me cash in the city’s conservation fund for this purpose?
This frenzied group of rabble-rousing environmental fascists aren’t open to reason. They believe that only a strong offense of insolence, incivility, abuse, lies, and legal maneuvering combined with a large dose of stupidity, can succeed in achieving their goal of stopping all development. “It’s all bad,” they screech! “Blow the bridge!” they demand like the Nazis retreating back across the Rhine in 1945.
These are the same plastic straw-banning fanatics that want us to use only a half tablespoon of water in our toilets, so we have to flush them 15 times and want to rid the island of what they consider “useless eaters” in order to preserve stagnant, swampy runoff acreage that previously served as a dump and mosquito sanctuary. These people shamelessly use their kids as props at City Commission meetings and rant in letters-to-the-editor that the developers must be driven into the sea for the sake of the children.
Instead of hollering their hysterical hyperbole these conflicted and confused “conservationists” should be thrilled. A number of acres of land and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been set aside for conservation purposes and much more has been pledged by– THE DEVELOPERS! However, the irrational fist-shakers, with the attention span of hummingbirds, ignore all of this and instead demand “Shrubberies” echoing Monty Python’s nonsensical Knights that say “NI.”
Just read their claptrap in their propaganda arm, the local bi-weekly News-Leader, or their blather on social media. Just the words “developer” or “builder” alone send these folks into uncontrollable fits of apoplectic nitwittery.
They remind me of clueless tourists I witnessed when I lived in Paris. When asking a question in English to a French person they would repeatedly shout it louder, assuming volume was the problem, not the fact the bewildered local didn’t speak or understand their language.
In the meantime, the developers these loons are raucously attacking are quietly going about their conservation efforts donating land and money, theirs being the only dough donated to the city’s conservation efforts so far.
For example, five acres of property off Citrona that the Amelia Bluff developer purchased from the Nassau County School Board have been donated to the city as wetlands. The developer has also offered to pay $115,000 to the city for conservation purposes upon final plat approval. On their own initiative, and at no cost to taxpayers the developers also paved a sidewalk at the across the street high school because they thought it was the right thing to do.
The folks behind the apartment/retail project under construction at South 14th Street and Lime purchased some $400,000 worth of mitigation credits from the local Longleaf Mitigation Bank. These mitigation credits are used by federal and state environmental agencies to enhance the ecosystem of Nassau County, protect the habitat of various species and protect area wetlands among other conservationist programs. The 3,000-acre property surrounding Callahan is one of the state’s largest environmental banks with 1,300 acres of protected wetlands and 1,700 acres of uplands providing a diversity of wildlife habitat and buffers to the wetlands. In addition some 70 percent of the 14th Street’s project property is preserved as wetlands.
Steve Leggett, the developer who is working with the local Sheffield family to assume the Amelia River Golf Course lease, has also pledged to leave enormous swaths of that land undisturbed and even add more tree cover. His planned Amelia Island Resort will place 115 acres of virgin marsh and creek front into conservation as well as add trees to the grounds where the barren golf course now sits. In addition his plan eliminating the golf course will save 106 million gallons of water annually to the acquifer and eliminate the huge amount of golf course pesticides currently being released. Oh, and there is NOT a racetrack planned in any of this contrary to the false and misleading accusations by the environmental vigilantes. This is a well thought out project that has “NI”-shrieking Krazed Kommissioner Knight Mike Lednovich babbling incoherently much to the amusement of many onlookers and the chagrin of city officials.
The rabid conservationists should be patting these people on the back and buying them beer, not waving their silly signs and trying to litigate them off the island at taxpayer expense. I can’t figure out why folks would trust this group of hostile, adolescent, grievance-mongers with their Go Fund Me money, much less listen to their infantile foolishness. It must be a chaotic mess in that bubble they live in.
The News Wrecker Online: If you were unable to find a free copy of the 2019 Amelia Island News Wrecker at an area shop, restaurant or bar you can now read it online by sending me a brown paper bag full of unmarked twenty dollar bills……no just kidding. Go to www.amelianewswrecker.com to read the 2019 issue or any of the other issues published since 2015. Let me know what you think here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I’m considering making this issue the last one.
Put Up Or Shut Up! After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott pressed the issue the FBI agreed to brief them about Russians hacking into the voting registration files of two Florida counties in 2016.
The FBI asked that the names of the counties not be disclosed, DeSantis said in a press conference. The hacking did not affect any vote tallying and DeSantis said there is no evidence of “manipulation.”
The FBI’s claim initially surfaced last year and re-emerged when the 448-page Mueller Report stated on pages 50-51: “We understand the FBI believes that this operation enabled the GRU to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.”
“Sasquatch” Hillary stumbled out of the swamp long enough to chime in with her own “answers” claiming — without presenting any evidence whatsoever – that Russians hacked into the election systems in all 67 Florida counties. “Just recently, the government, our government, finally acknowledged that the Russians were in the county election systems of every county in Florida,” she screeched during a Time 100 moderated discussion in New York, before lurching back into the bayou to gather more disinformation and before she could be administered a breathalyzer test.
Sunshine State News reporter John Haughey wrote that newly appointed Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, the state’s top elections official, said there is no information to “support Hillary Clinton’s claims” that all the state’s election systems were infiltrated. “I spoke with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security when the Mueller report was released and they assured me that Florida’s 2016 election results were not compromised in any way,” Lee said in a statement.
Admirable Do-Gooders: A couple of pals of mine have organized an eight-mile paddle event from St. Marys, Georgia to Fernandina Beach to raise money for “Fight Oar Die” an organization that generates awareness for the prevention of suicide and the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veteran and active military members to be held Saturday, June 15.
Amelia Island military veterans Bill Cimino (US Army) and Paul Lore (US Marine Corps) – teamed up to create “Cross the Line” and are hoping to attract a wide variety of participants ranging from kayakers and rowers to paddle boarders and canoes. Each participant’s tax deductible $50 entry fee will go to the cause.
The first 50 to register will receive free transportation to St. Marys from the Fernandina based Amelia River Cruises.
The event will feature Chris Kuntz (US Army, Special Forces), one of four military veterans who rowed 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to Antigua in 54 days, from December 12, 2018 to February 4, 2019, in the initial Fight Oar Die fund raising event.
“Money from this event will go toward helping raise awareness of the severe mental issues many military members face after they return home from combat deployment – things like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and reintegration issues,” said Cimino, a former U.S. Army Ranger Captain.
More than 50 local businesses and individuals have agreed to support the cause by donating money, time and materials to the charitable effort. These include Amelia River Cruises, the downtown Hampton Inn & Suites, PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden, and MacGraphics Printing & Design. Support boats and volunteer EMT’s from the Fernandina Beach Fire and Nassau County Fire Departments, among others are donating their time.
Participants will leave the Fernandina Beach Marina at 7 a.m. aboard an Amelia River Cruise boat along with their kayaks, paddle boards, etc. to be transported to St. Marys. The event will start in St. Marys at 8 a.m. following the singing of the national anthem, by area entertainer and retired U.S. Navy Submariner, Hupp Huppmann.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Folks at the Sandbar Kitchen & Restaurant at Main Beach tell me they are taking advantage of the long Memorial Day weekend to provide on-the-beach and in-house entertainment day and night starting this afternoon, Friday, May 24 with the Jimmy Beats Band, noon-4 p.m.; Wes Register, 4- 7 p.m., and the popular Honey Badgers this evening 7-11 p.m. Saturday, May 25, the 7th Street Band performs, noon – 4 p.m.; J.R. Ward, 4-7 p.m., and the Paul Ivey Band, 7-11 p.m. On Sunday, May 26 the Honey Badgers return from noon-4 p.m. , followed by J.R. Ward again, 4-7 p.m., and the whacky and fun Boogie Freaks Band, 7- 11 p.m. The holiday weekend is closed out Monday , May 27, with Sun Jammer performing, noon – 4 p.m. and the popular Macy’s, 5-9 p.m. Downtown’s South 12 2nd Street PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden will feature a special performance by Brian Earnst this Saturday, May 25, in its special upstairs music room for $5 a head from 7-9 p.m. Stop by the Pajama Life store or the beer garden to pick up tickets. Or if didgeridoo tunes aren’t your thing hang out downstairs for free with Pajamadave’s really cool sister, Carol, and lovely niece, Sarah, from Tunkhannock PA who’ll be here for the long holiday weekend, and Dave’s fiancé , the buxom, blue-eyed, blonde, beer-brewing babe Zan Maddox, who’s in charge of ordering the pub’s vast selection of beers from around the world. And don’t forget the reason for the holiday as there will be a Memorial Day Ceremony to honor Nassau County’s fallen soldiers, Monday, May 27 at the downtown waterfront the end of Centre St. beginning at 11 a.m. After that everybody is welcome to American Legion Post 54 at 626 3rd Street South for an old-fashioned cookout. In fact, the post is open all week to the public in honor of fallen veterans.