(Editor’s Note: There will not be a blog the next couple of weeks. It will resume Nov. 22. I appreciate all the readers who take time to read it, particularly those who leave comments, whether they agree or disagree.)
Rarely do I agree with Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Chip Ross on issues. However, I do respect him for standing firm on his positions and combatting those he believes are ill-informed and who question his conclusions.
He routinely conducts a vast amount of research to support his arguments, while attempting to convince naysayers why he’s right and why they’re wrong.
For example, last week Commissioner Ross called me out twice. Once, for writing that the city: “…..purchased a forest’s worth of waterfront park plans, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars that are sitting unread on shelves in city hall. There’s even a recently purchased $240,000 plan in there on how to buy plans…. I’m not making that up.”
Secondly he scolded me for saying his two lawsuits against the city (2015-16 and 2016-17) cost taxpayers “tens of thousands of dollars.” He even dragged his granny in on that one and pointed her wagging finger at me saying: “My grandmother used to say, ‘what a tangled web we weave once we practice to deceive.’”
OK, let’s give Granny Ross a break here. Commissioner Ross DID sue the city two times forcing it to pay its insurance deductible both times for an outside law firm to handle the suits. Commissioner Ross had City Attorney Tammi Bach look into the cost and she says it was a $2,500 deductible in each case for a total of $5,000 that Ross cost the taxpayers, not the tens of thousands I wrote. I wonder what the insurance company paid the attorneys and how many lawsuits it takes before they cry “Uncle” and start hiking the city’s rates? OK, so you cost the taxpayers $5,000 not tens of thousands with your frivolous nonsense commissioner. Point made. So, when will you give us our five-grand back?
On the waterfront plan he chides me saying: “It appears you are not letting the facts get in the way of your story. To the best of my knowledge, after checking with the City Manager, Clerk and Comptroller, no such recent $240,000 purchase exists. If you did not make that up, what was the source?”
Well, Mr. Ross nailed it and I was wrong again. It wasn’t a $240,000 plan, but a $223,000 plan. I was off by $17,000. Hey, I’m a words guy not a numbers guy, so sue me…ooops, sorry just kidding.
The city agreed to purchase a $223,000 waterfront plan chock a block full of plans for more plans. All it needs to do is buy some new shelves to store all these new waterfront plans on.
In this case Commissioner Ross called on Andrew Holesko, a vice president at Passero Associates, which is getting paid to do all this planning to explain it all to me. What Mr. Holesko said was no different than what he and Ross said this past July, essentially they need to do more studies, analysis and planning. Nowhere is digging, dredging, hammering, or sawing mentioned. They say more plans and studies are needed before the sound of waterfront park progress can be heard.
This past July even Commissioner Len Kreger, got off his sea turtle bandwagon long enough to question the need for more waterfront park plans saying they are already available. At that time Ross cautioned the turtle-man about moving too fast, saying those plans don’t include plans on how to move forward.
According to Commissioner Ross the $223,000 plan from Passero will assess existing conditions at the waterfront including facilities structure, topography, and drainage systems; assign development goals; review shoreline stabilization techniques, communicate the plan to the city and residents with graphic plans and technical reports; and create a funding plan. Passero also said it would analyze subsidence issues, storm water backflow prevention and risk analysis. …all for just $223,000. This study will, they say, serve as the basis to provide a long-term, physically stabilized waterfront. Logical follow-on steps for the city says Mr. Holesko will likely include capital improvement programming, securing grant funding, followed by the design/permitting/installation (construction) scheduling. Well, that’s some progress as it’s the first time I’ve seen the word “construction” in any of these proposals.
In other words it’s another plan full of plans, analyses and studies, and more opportunities for contractors to cash in.
Hey, I don’t blame Passero, they’re in the business of selling plans. If a city is browsing their showroom and asks: “Do you have any waterfront park plans here for around a quarter of a million bucks?” the guy on the floor is going to try and close that deal fast. Too bad they don’t accept old plans as trade-ins.
I was told by a fellow at the gym this week that many of the city’s waterfront park plans are so old, they are stored at the Amelia Island Museum. I wonder if any of them or the ones still laying around city hall contain any of the options outlined by Passero? It’s hard to believe they don’t. And isn’t Passero the company that gave us the $4.3 million “It-looks-like-an-airplane-airport-terminal?” Overhearing our gym conversation another fellow exercised his opinion saying: “These city waterfront plans are like Christmas ties. You know you’ll get one every year that you’ll never wear and eventually ends up with all the other ones in the closet gathering dust.”
Park? We Don’t Want No Stinkin’ Park! It appears that the city commission has been so busy buying and storing waterfront park plans they neglected to ask downtown merchants if they actually wanted a waterfront park. They don’t! They want more places for their customers to PARK, not another PARK. If the city builds a park, they say, their customers will have to park several blocks away and then lug all their stuff to the waterfront, something they’re reluctant to do, and many times unable to do.
At a meeting of the Marina Advisory Board (MAB) this past Monday Kevin McCarthy, who owns and operates the popular Amelia River Cruises and chairs the MAB, nixed the waterfront park idea saying it’ll hurt his business among others.
He wants parking, he says, to accommodate the more than 50,000 folks annually who take advantage of his charter boat excursions, many who he says are unable or unwilling to walk through town to the docks and board his boats.
Many say that fishermen with tackle boxes and fishing poles need to park as close as possible to the docks rather than having to drag their gear through town. Many of Captain McCarthy’s excursions encourage passengers to bring baskets of food and drinks while some are catered for private events. Eliminating the current parking spaces would create a physical challenge for passengers and caterers and a financial hardship for him says Captain McCarthy. The boats that supply Cumberland Island’s food and beverages would also be hard hit.
Even far-left leaning Coleman Langshaw, a MAB member, who has never seen a government project he didn’t approve of throwing taxpayer money at, agrees that the city has a parking problem and that downtown merchants need to have a voice. I can’t think of anything I’ve ever agreed with Mr. Langshaw on, but this is one.
Local Expert With A National Voice: Amelia Island resident, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, middle east expert, author, reporter and friend, Ken Timmerman, says there’s no reason to keep any U.S. troops in Syria.
The successful raid snuffing ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, possibly the most evil person on the planet, highlights Mr. Timmerman’s claim. The raid proved you can run, but you can’t hide from the might of the U.S. military. Ground troops weren’t necessary.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper made clear that the exercise demonstrated America’s ability to neutralize targets wherever they may hide.
When asked if the mission would have proved more difficult without an established US presence in the region General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “From an operational standpoint, the United States military can strike any target, anywhere, any time.”
Added Esper, “We have incredible reach. … the terrorists should be aware of that.”
In addition to the precision and skill of the special forces troops that conducted the raid, secrecy was vital. That’s another reason President Trump didn’t brief House Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Intelligence Committee head doofus Adam Schiff. Those two can’t be trusted, certainly not when American soldiers lives are on the line.
The success of the raid was not only a stunning display of the power of the U.S. military but also President Trump’s decision-making process. The president took a risk approving the mission. Had the raid failed he would have come out of it looking like hapless Jimmy Carter in 1979 when his decision to rescue American hostages in Iran went awry in the desert with helicopters crashing U.S. soldiers dying and no hostages rescued. That and a lousy economy cost him the election in a landslide defeat to Ronald Reagan. The hostages were released the day President Reagan was inaugurated. The Iranian leaders — all finalists in the Gabby Hayes-look-alike-contest — were taking no chances with the straight-talking Mr. Reagan in charge.
Freelance writer, author and Augusta, Georgia resident, Bill Shuey, strongly agrees with Mr. Timmerman that ground forces in Syria aren’t necessary. “We have a war going on right here in our hemisphere, more accurately right across our border in Mexico,” he explains. “Last year 32,000 Mexican citizens were slaughtered just across the Rio Grande. By comparison, 6,964 civilians were killed in Syria in 2018. Thousands of Americans die each year from drugs that flow across our southern border and neither political party much cares. The Mexican drug lords are represented in virtually all our major cities. Still no one cares.”
Shuey says we don’t need a dozen new jet fighters for the mess in Mexico. “We don’t need a steady supply of Humvees, tanks, missiles, etcetera for Mexico because our politicians and media ignore the ongoing war across the river. We can’t get involved in Mexico’s internal affairs because they are a sovereign nation, but we can get involved in the Middle East because? Well never mind, it doesn’t have to make sense.”
Obviously Shuey doesn’t pull punches. “Greed, quest for power and money is what is driving the chicken hawks to love war,” he declares. “Windbags like Mitt Romney advocate perpetual war but never got close to a military uniform and made sure his five sons never served our nation. He is no exception, just perhaps the most nauseating because of his hypocrisy!”
Things I Wish I’d Said: “President Trump’s wall costs less than the Obamacare website.” — Tim Allen.
Something To Think About When You Vote: “Keep in mind that Congress has no resources of its own. Plus, there’s no Santa Claus or tooth fairy that gives Congress resources. Thus, the only way that Congress can give one American a dollar is to first, through intimidation and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.” – Walter Williams
Proof The Left & Its Media Hacks Have Lost Their Minds: On Monday, Washington Post and CNN contributor Max Boot published an opinion-editorial in the Post saying that President Donald J. Trump’s assertion that the now dead ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was a coward was “contradicted by the fact that rather than be captured, he blew himself up.” Al-Baghdadi killed himself with a suicide vest and murdered three of his children during the explosion. He was using his offspring as a human shield against U.S. forces. After immediate backlash for his column, the idiot issued a retraction. Boot is the same person who once said, “I would sooner vote for Josef Stalin than I would vote for Donald Trump.” The Washington Post, which used to be a newspaper, headlined Al-Baghdadi’s death saying he was an “austere religious scholar.” CNN broadcasters questioned President’s Trump wording with one loon even saying, “Al-Baghdadi was a human being and we should never celebrate the death of a human being.” These people are insane. That’s like headlining Osama bin-Laden’s demise by writing: “Heir to Saudi real estate fortune dies in Pakistani home invasion.” Or Adolph Hitler’s obit saying: “Articulate, non-smoking, vegan German leader dies by own hand in Berlin shelter.” Or Stalin: “Former seminary student who rallied Soviet troops in World War II dies peacefully in bed.” The Post, the New York Times, CNN, etc. are indistinguishable from The Onion, Harvard Lampoon or Mad Magazine.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: During this Florida-Georgia football weekend, which means today, Saturday and Sunday, the downtown Amelia Tavern at 318 Centre Street says it’s offering a couple of exceptional deals. For twenty bucks guests can purchase 20 wings and two beers, and for $22 beer lovers can grab 20 wings and a 32-ounce crowler can of beer. Call ‘em at 904/310-6088. If the Sandbar Restaurant & Kitchen at Main Beach offers a special of “scary hot wings”, be warned, these wings are hotter than a two-dollar pistol. A pal seated next to me offered me one from his Halloween night order and I foolishly accepted, casually gobbling the entire flapper down instantly. YIKES! You could remove dried paint with these things. It took two quick beers to put the fire out, my nose was running uncontrollably and I felt like I’d snorted Drano. I couldn’t focus, my eyes were watering, my ears ringing, sweat poured off my forehead, and I was beginning to think I’d suffered brain damage. Who voluntarily eats this stuff? Not me again.