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The Most Destructive, Disingenuous & Dim People Making A Mess Of Nassau County

Last week I listed a variety of duplicitous public figures who—in my opinion — are screwing up our country. I also asked readers to help me identify those who are working overtime to mess up Nassau County. A number of locals responded, and with few exceptions their nominations mirrored mine.

In fact, a couple of our elected local government officials are messing up so monumentally that they’re attracting negative attention statewide. An in-depth article in the Florida Daily News (https://www.floridadaily.com/bullies-on-the-bully-pulpit-commissioners-blocking-a-healthy-economic-development-project/) earlier this week highlighted the destructive antics of Fernandina Beach City Commissioners Ronald “Chip” Ross and Mike Lednovich saying: “Fernandina Beach is in danger of becoming better known as “Bully Town” — where a bright future is being hijacked and jeopardized by two rogue, out-of-control city commissioners whose self-aggrandizement and dictator-like grandstanding have made them bullies on the bully pulpit.”

Fernandina Beach city government’s view of local property owners

The lengthy article by Florida Daily News editor Ed Dean detailed how the pompous duo are “…..betraying the public trust in a negative and destructive pattern that should cause voters and taxpayers to wonder how or why they ever entrusted any power at all to these two guys.” Dean went on to say: “…. these two commissioners seem to believe that raising taxes is better than attracting businesses, tourists and private-sector investment and revenue.” The article was illustrated by the above cartoon, which the publication enthusiastically granted me permission to use here.

One local reader nominated the entire Fernandina Beach city government saying: “This one is easy,” he proclaimed. “Main culprit is ‘city government.’  I break it down two ways – first is the elected officials, every one of whom is a ‘Johnny one-note’ who only have their own personal interests in mind (and the other is our paid staff).”

This local respondent also cited the Lednovich-Ross combination saying: “Chip Ross bought a run-down house in a run-down neighborhood and now wants us to come to him and fix it, on our dime. I’ve talked to him on the phone and find him to be the most double-talking smarter-than-you person I’ve ever encountered. Example two is Mike Lednovich, a perfect example of someone who buys a house next to an airport runway (literally) then starts immediately complaining about the noise of airplanes landing. Then there is the “mayor” (Johnny Miller) who only seems worried about whales and turtles and issues that really aren’t central to what the commission is supposedly for. He can waste HIS time on that stuff, but he should not waste OUR time.”

The letter-writer also nominated City Manager Dale Martin writing: “He for sure is taking advantage of the “weak mayor” system and un-attentive commission. He should be held accountable to cut costs where possible, and if he wants to expand services or do this or that – he needs to find the money already in the budget and move it. But he continues to want to increase taxes and fees and to waste time on the non-starter issue of paid parking. It will be a wash between what it costs and what revenue will come in. Meanwhile there are bigger problems. But because our commissioners are so unengaged, he’s going to get away with this for a long time.”

Following is my “Least Wanted” Nassau County list.

“Left Coast”Lednovich.

Mike (“Left Coast”) Lednovich, a California transplant, is a pretentious, smirking, ill-informed, 24-month resident, whose tenure on the City Commission has been a train wreck for every city tax payer and business except a small band of loud, demented and obnoxious environmental, anti-business activist screamers and ranters, many who don’t even live here. Other than his own house, Lednovich, has no respect for property rights. I’m surprised he doesn’t hand out pitch forks and torches at the Commission meetings, as he led a preposterous ill-conceived charge to stop the Amelia Bluff housing development and is threatening local icon and businessman George Sheffield with the revocation of his legitimate lease on the Amelia River Golf Course. This dim, insolent, rabble-rouser actually contributed money to a fund to sue the city – a community he vowed to support and defend — to stop the Amelia Bluff housing development on Citrona. Administrative Law Judge E. Gary Early blew that law suit apart this week when he denied each and every claim made by the Atlanta Tree Conservatory and the local Sierra Club declaring that the “FLUM Amendment was inconsistent with and not in compliance with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Florida Statutes,” thereby flushing Left Coast’s money down the drain and the hopes of the environmental whackos along with it. Meanwhile, The mere mention of the proposed Amelia River Resort project on the other side of town, sends the mean-spirited “Left Coast” into apocalyptic spittle-spewing spasms of rage and incoherence, all very entertaining to watch during a commission session, but scary because this fanatic fruitcake represents one-fifth of the Commission’s votes. He refuses to listen to advice or counsel from the City Attorney, a maneuver that I predict will hopefully spell the end for this irrational, mentally defective timebomb. As long as this snarling contrarian sits on the Commission and spews nonsense on social media,  prospective business owners will keep their checkbooks closed and think twice before investing hereabouts.

“Sue their pants off I don’t care!”

Ronald “Chip” (“Dr. Strangelove”) Ross, also sits on the Fernandina City Commission, egging on the fanatically extreme environmentalist crowd, even convincing the city to buy worthless over-priced, stagnant, mosquito-infested property for “conservation” purposes. Elected in 2017, Commissioner Ross, who left behind a trail of lawsuits against his former Maryland neighbors, continued his helter-skelter “neighborly” lawsuit habit here, twice suing the city he swore to serve and protect, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. One of those suits temporarily forced a couple and their special needs son out of their recently renovated house a block from Ross’s home at great expense to that legally pummeled family. At this past Tuesday’s meeting during the public evaluation of the city’s officers, Ross questioned City Attorney Tammi Bach’s advice concerning the discussion of the Amelia Bluff issue. He accused her of conflicting opinions in an attempt to blame her for his and his sidekick Lednovich’s failed attempts to block the development. And this is a guy who practices medicine at the local hospital’s ER and took the Hippocratic oath to “First do no harm!” He should have studied law instead of medicine. Commissioner Ross and his wife, Faith, bought a house near the port and — like folks such as Lednovich, who buy homes near airports — want it to go away because it annoys them. Many voters feel the same way about Commissioner Ross.

Robert “Bullet Bob” Weintraub, my former next-door neighbor, is high on the list. Following the 2016 election, this pompous, unhinged, gasbag directed a public Facebook posting at me and my wife saying: “…don’t think you can intimidate me with your signs. My rifle and shotgun are loaded, and I will be getting a handgun at tomorrow’s sales. I’ll be waiting for you and your brown shirts.” In addition, he called us anti-Semites. Don’t believe it? I have copies of his Facebook postings and the police report. Our crime? Putting a celebratory postelection Trump sign in our yard amidst the small American flags we display every Veterans Day. The police paid this unhinged old fool a visit and suggested he refrain from future terroristic threats, something his liberal “friends” on Facebook didn’t advise him to do as they either remained silent or supported his insanity. Despite this crazed lunatic’s threatening rants to shoot me and my wife, the local News Leader newspaper prints this buffoon’s opinion editorials and even allows him to write about city activities in their sad publication. I can only assume Weintraub’s mental vacuum and emotional chaos reflect the views of Publisher Foy Maloy, Editor Peg Davis, and the News-Leader owners as they continue to provide a forum for this deranged blowhard. For reasons I can’t explain the folks at the Men’s Newcomers Club allow him to promote their activities. (“Welcome to Amelia Island fellas, don’t make a sudden move or…”). I suppose as long as he doesn’t shoot any advertisers or new residents the News Leader and Men’s Newcomers Club think he’s either harmless or a lousy shot. Even after threatening to shoot me and my wife the oblivious News Leader ironically printed an opinion editorial this crazed octogenarian wrote advocating government gun control. Whoa! What?  He is also active in the recently formed anti-development group, Conserve Amelia Now (CAN). Watch your backs builders and businessmen, this guy is dangerously delusional and claims he’s armed to the teeth.

Maybe if I keep at it Mr. Maloy will buy me a laptop.

News Leader Editor Peg Davis is an ardent far left liberal, whose mind is closed tighter than the cap on a pint of Jim Beam at a Southern Baptist tent revival. This is a woman who thinks that sociopath Bob Weintraub’s crackpot ideas have merit and gives him free reign on the pages of her pathetic newspaper. Is she so mired in her far-left ideology that she’s unwilling to listen to opposing arguments? Unfortunately, yes. While enjoying a meal with friends at downtown’s Salty Pelican a while back a dining companion pointed out that Ms. Davis, was seated at a nearby table. Since I’d never met Ms. Davis, I approached her, introduced myself, and extended my hand. She declined to shake it saying: “No thanks, you’ve written bad things about me.” I backed off saying: “Well, It’s nice to meet you anyway.” She responded remarking: “I wish I could say the same.” I find it sad that she feels that anyone disagreeing with her must be vilified and shunned. Her attitude says a lot about the shrinking readership of the News Leader, a print newspaper that is being clobbered by the online Fernandina Observer. She’s obviously galled that locals distrust News Leader far left editorial viewpoints and that her paper is mocked by a majority of residents for its childish left-wing editorializing and sloganeering passed off as analysis. Its advertisers obviously feel the same way as the Observer is picking them up right and left. Instead of ignoring her critics, she would be better off discussing and arguing differences with her dissenters, but I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon. Ms. Davis led the anti-Amelia Bluff housing development charge with the paper’s editorials once again taking the losing side of a lost cause. Stand by for Ms. Davis to claim moral superiority because she was denied the righteousness she feels she deserves by Judge E. Gary Early’s decision in favor of the builder. By the way, has anybody seen News Leader Publisher Foy Maloy recently? He appears to be missing in action while his newspaper is suffering a serious lack of leadership and hemorrhaging readers.

Pat Edwards, a Nassau County Commissioner, fatally shot himself in his political foot a few weeks ago when it was revealed that he defamed popular and effective Nassau County Economic Development Commission head and Fernandina Port Director, Laura DiBella, for an email she wrote suggesting the county should move to patch up the disagreement between it and Rayoiner because it reflected poorly on the county’s reputation as a good place to do business. Edwards’ disrespectful text said: “Good morning, in reading Laura’s email I have to ask the question, is her job to support Rayonier/Raydient instead of Nassau County? Why would anyone except a newspaper or paid blogger provide this letter except to strengthen our partners position against us. She has the management skills of a Pig!” Edwards’ text message continued saying: “I think she sees the writing on the wall and is hoping that Rayonier will either fund the board (when ya’ll pull the county funding) or hire her. I hope she goes early.” An outpouring of support for Ms. DiBella resulted while Edwards hid under his desk saying to me when I asked if he wanted to apologize or explain his remarks: “Thank you for contacting me, I have no comment.” Edwards had previously been a strong supporter of Rayonier’s 24,000-acre development district in Yulee, but because the windfall he may have been anticipating from it for his lumber business didn’t materialize, resentment surfaced. The local New Leader newspaper naturally ignored Edwards’ attack on Ms. DiBella.

City Manager Martin greeting local tax payer.

City Manager Dale Martin makes the list because I can’t make sense out of much that he does and even less of what he says. The job-hopping city manager produces a weekly column attempting to explain what’s happening at city hall, whether anything is happening or not and many times makes a dog’s breakfast out of his explanations. One of my favorite Martin columns – which are printed in the News Leader and the online Observer — was one babbling on about why we should all be nice to the city commissioners because they “work hard and are poorly paid.” He didn’t suggest that they shouldn’t have run for office if they don’t like the compensation and can’t handle the work or criticism. In a recent one he tried to explain the mysterious citizen survey he sponsored to justify raising taxes. It was an incomprehensible word jumble written by the folks he paid to conduct the survey and read like it was translated from Sanskrit by someone who doesn’t read Sanskrit. Last Friday he futilely tried to explain the city’s increased taxes but obvious by its omission was his absurd conservation assessment, which is the reason. He continues to tout paid beach parking even though the populace has made it abundantly clear they don’t want it and are suggesting he stuff that idea in the same place with his conservation crap.  He was a strong proponent of the $4.9 million white elephant “it-looks-like-an-airplane” airport terminal that he claims revenue from an annual car auction and race car event at the airport will help fund. Really? At the urging of “Conservationist” Commissioner Ross, Martin agreed that the city pay a property owner $25,000 for a site the county appraiser’s website says is worth just 39 dollars, adding that it would cost more to clear the land than it’s worth. Since he’ s been here the city has continually added employees, when it should be shedding them. City manager tenures are notoriously short-lived, and Martin is no exception. Fernandina Beach is his fifth city manager’s job in 21 years, having been fired from the last three before landing here. Raising taxes and growing city government – hiring an assistant city manager and even proposing a beach management department – have been his priorities since arriving in December 2015. It’s time he started looking for job number six and for the city started living within its means.

Ron (“Get Off My Lawn You Little Bastards”) Sapp, is a native-born island resident who is very knowledgably about city government and how it works. Unfortunately, he’s also a Fernandina Beach High School educator (i.e. indoctrinator) and avowed liberal dead set on reverting Amelia Island into a mid-19th century socialistic society of anti-American grievance mongers. This frumpy Bambi-against-Hitler-save-our-island crusader works himself into a dervish-like trance about, in his words: “New developments with thousands and thousands and thousands of new homes and people (that) are going to change the way we live.”  Many people who move here want the island to remain the same as it was the day they plucked the “For Sale” signs from the front of their new homes. Sapp, who was born here, wants it to revert back to the day of his birth and he won’t be happy until the county hangs “Do Not Enter” signs on all bridges leading to Amelia Island. He has served as a city commissioner and mayor and actually attempted to pass legislation limiting the number of people who could live on Amelia Island, a concept that could only be accomplished if he owned the entire island, which in his delusional mind he thinks he does. In addition, if you’re a conservative proponent of the Second Amendment this fanatic leftie will attempt to portray you as if you were caught red-handed on the beach machine-gunning newly hatched sea turtles. The nonsense this guy frenziedly pens for the local paper would end up on the editing floor of the satirical Amelia Island New-Wrecker for being too far-fetched and is another reason the online Fernandina Observer and NCFL Independent newspapers are so successful. It’s easy to understand why he was campaign manager for City Commissioner Chip Ross. I’m thankful none of my kids or grandkids were ever subjected to this guy’s classroom propaganda. I’ve said it before and repeat that if Sapp was in charge we’d all be wearing loincloths, sitting around bonfires in front of our yurts, stalking dinner with clubs, and downtown Fernandina Beach would resemble Mogadishu.

Margaret Kirkland makes the list, not because she’s a terrible person, but because she’s an out-of-towner who incites gullible locals like a circuit riding evangelical tree-hugging preacher passing a collection plate. I might listen to her “not-in-my-backyard” BS if Fernandina Beach was her backyard but it isn’t, she doesn’t live here. This soft-spoken lady, who resembles a stern librarian, heads up something called Amelia Tree Conservatory and hooked up with locals involved in Conserve Amelia Now (CAN) and the Sierra Club and instigated the lawsuit against the city to stop Fernandina Beach’s Amelia Bluff housing development. I understand the suit cost city tax payers between $30-40 thousand dollars to defend and the extremists close to $30 thousand. How many trees could they have planted for that kind of money?  She needs to take her extreme environmental sermonizing elsewhere, instead she says she’s “reviewing Judge Early’s order.” Hit the bricks lady, you’re nothing but expensive bad news hereabouts.

This has been depressing. I’m thinking of creating a list of those who make an effort to make this a good place to live. Any thoughts? The Amelia Bluff builder may be among them as I’ve heard rumors that despite the financial and publicity pounding he’s taken from the crazed crowd listed above he may still contribute funds for conservation for each house built. He’s a class act either way.

The Most Destructive, Disingenuous & Dim People Making A Mess Of Nassau County

Last week I listed a variety of duplicitous public figures who—in my opinion — are screwing up our country. I also asked readers to help me identify those who are working overtime to mess up Nassau County. A number of locals responded, and with few exceptions their nominations mirrored mine.

In fact, a couple of our elected local government officials are messing up so monumentally that they’re attracting negative attention statewide. An in-depth article in the Florida Daily News (https://www.floridadaily.com/bullies-on-the-bully-pulpit-commissioners-blocking-a-healthy-economic-development-project/) earlier this week highlighted the destructive antics of Fernandina Beach City Commissioners Ronald “Chip” Ross and Mike Lednovich saying: “Fernandina Beach is in danger of becoming better known as “Bully Town” — where a bright future is being hijacked and jeopardized by two rogue, out-of-control city commissioners whose self-aggrandizement and dictator-like grandstanding have made them bullies on the bully pulpit.”

Fernandina Beach city government’s view of local property owners

The lengthy article by Florida Daily News editor Ed Dean detailed how the pompous duo are “…..betraying the public trust in a negative and destructive pattern that should cause voters and taxpayers to wonder how or why they ever entrusted any power at all to these two guys.” Dean went on to say: “…. these two commissioners seem to believe that raising taxes is better than attracting businesses, tourists and private-sector investment and revenue.” The article was illustrated by the above cartoon, which the publication enthusiastically granted me permission to use here.

One local reader nominated the entire Fernandina Beach city government saying: “This one is easy,” he proclaimed. “Main culprit is ‘city government.’  I break it down two ways – first is the elected officials, every one of whom is a ‘Johnny one-note’ who only have their own personal interests in mind (and the other is our paid staff).”

This local respondent also cited the Lednovich-Ross combination saying: “Chip Ross bought a run-down house in a run-down neighborhood and now wants us to come to him and fix it, on our dime. I’ve talked to him on the phone and find him to be the most double-talking smarter-than-you person I’ve ever encountered. Example two is Mike Lednovich, a perfect example of someone who buys a house next to an airport runway (literally) then starts immediately complaining about the noise of airplanes landing. Then there is the “mayor” (Johnny Miller) who only seems worried about whales and turtles and issues that really aren’t central to what the commission is supposedly for. He can waste HIS time on that stuff, but he should not waste OUR time.”

The letter-writer also nominated City Manager Dale Martin writing: “He for sure is taking advantage of the “weak mayor” system and un-attentive commission. He should be held accountable to cut costs where possible, and if he wants to expand services or do this or that – he needs to find the money already in the budget and move it. But he continues to want to increase taxes and fees and to waste time on the non-starter issue of paid parking. It will be a wash between what it costs and what revenue will come in. Meanwhile there are bigger problems. But because our commissioners are so unengaged, he’s going to get away with this for a long time.”

Following is my “Least Wanted” Nassau County list.

“Left Coast”Lednovich.

Mike (“Left Coast”) Lednovich, a California transplant, is a pretentious, smirking, ill-informed, 24-month resident, whose tenure on the City Commission has been a train wreck for every city tax payer and business except a small band of loud, demented and obnoxious environmental, anti-business activist screamers and ranters, many who don’t even live here. Other than his own house, Lednovich, has no respect for property rights. I’m surprised he doesn’t hand out pitch forks and torches at the Commission meetings, as he led a preposterous ill-conceived charge to stop the Amelia Bluff housing development and is threatening local icon and businessman George Sheffield with the revocation of his legitimate lease on the Amelia River Golf Course. This dim, insolent, rabble-rouser actually contributed money to a fund to sue the city – a community he vowed to support and defend — to stop the Amelia Bluff housing development on Citrona. Administrative Law Judge E. Gary Early blew that law suit apart this week when he denied each and every claim made by the Atlanta Tree Conservatory and the local Sierra Club declaring that the “FLUM Amendment was inconsistent with and not in compliance with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Florida Statutes,” thereby flushing Left Coast’s money down the drain and the hopes of the environmental whackos along with it. Meanwhile, The mere mention of the proposed Amelia River Resort project on the other side of town, sends the mean-spirited “Left Coast” into apocalyptic spittle-spewing spasms of rage and incoherence, all very entertaining to watch during a commission session, but scary because this fanatic fruitcake represents one-fifth of the Commission’s votes. He refuses to listen to advice or counsel from the City Attorney, a maneuver that I predict will hopefully spell the end for this irrational, mentally defective timebomb. As long as this snarling contrarian sits on the Commission and spews nonsense on social media,  prospective business owners will keep their checkbooks closed and think twice before investing hereabouts.

“Sue their pants off I don’t care!”

Ronald “Chip” (“Dr. Strangelove”) Ross, also sits on the Fernandina City Commission, egging on the fanatically extreme environmentalist crowd, even convincing the city to buy worthless over-priced, stagnant, mosquito-infested property for “conservation” purposes. Elected in 2017, Commissioner Ross, who left behind a trail of lawsuits against his former Maryland neighbors, continued his helter-skelter “neighborly” lawsuit habit here, twice suing the city he swore to serve and protect, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. One of those suits temporarily forced a couple and their special needs son out of their recently renovated house a block from Ross’s home at great expense to that legally pummeled family. At this past Tuesday’s meeting during the public evaluation of the city’s officers, Ross questioned City Attorney Tammi Bach’s advice concerning the discussion of the Amelia Bluff issue. He accused her of conflicting opinions in an attempt to blame her for his and his sidekick Lednovich’s failed attempts to block the development. And this is a guy who practices medicine at the local hospital’s ER and took the Hippocratic oath to “First do no harm!” He should have studied law instead of medicine. Commissioner Ross and his wife, Faith, bought a house near the port and — like folks such as Lednovich, who buy homes near airports — want it to go away because it annoys them. Many voters feel the same way about Commissioner Ross.

Robert “Bullet Bob” Weintraub, my former next-door neighbor, is high on the list. Following the 2016 election, this pompous, unhinged, gasbag directed a public Facebook posting at me and my wife saying: “…don’t think you can intimidate me with your signs. My rifle and shotgun are loaded, and I will be getting a handgun at tomorrow’s sales. I’ll be waiting for you and your brown shirts.” In addition, he called us anti-Semites. Don’t believe it? I have copies of his Facebook postings and the police report. Our crime? Putting a celebratory postelection Trump sign in our yard amidst the small American flags we display every Veterans Day. The police paid this unhinged old fool a visit and suggested he refrain from future terroristic threats, something his liberal “friends” on Facebook didn’t advise him to do as they either remained silent or supported his insanity. Despite this crazed lunatic’s threatening rants to shoot me and my wife, the local News Leader newspaper prints this buffoon’s opinion editorials and even allows him to write about city activities in their sad publication. I can only assume Weintraub’s mental vacuum and emotional chaos reflect the views of Publisher Foy Maloy, Editor Peg Davis, and the News-Leader owners as they continue to provide a forum for this deranged blowhard. For reasons I can’t explain the folks at the Men’s Newcomers Club allow him to promote their activities. (“Welcome to Amelia Island fellas, don’t make a sudden move or…”). I suppose as long as he doesn’t shoot any advertisers or new residents the News Leader and Men’s Newcomers Club think he’s either harmless or a lousy shot. Even after threatening to shoot me and my wife the oblivious News Leader ironically printed an opinion editorial this crazed octogenarian wrote advocating government gun control. Whoa! What?  He is also active in the recently formed anti-development group, Conserve Amelia Now (CAN). Watch your backs builders and businessmen, this guy is dangerously delusional and claims he’s armed to the teeth.

Maybe if I keep at it Mr. Maloy will buy me a laptop.

News Leader Editor Peg Davis is an ardent far left liberal, whose mind is closed tighter than the cap on a pint of Jim Beam at a Southern Baptist tent revival. This is a woman who thinks that sociopath Bob Weintraub’s crackpot ideas have merit and gives him free reign on the pages of her pathetic newspaper. Is she so mired in her far-left ideology that she’s unwilling to listen to opposing arguments? Unfortunately, yes. While enjoying a meal with friends at downtown’s Salty Pelican a while back a dining companion pointed out that Ms. Davis, was seated at a nearby table. Since I’d never met Ms. Davis, I approached her, introduced myself, and extended my hand. She declined to shake it saying: “No thanks, you’ve written bad things about me.” I backed off saying: “Well, It’s nice to meet you anyway.” She responded remarking: “I wish I could say the same.” I find it sad that she feels that anyone disagreeing with her must be vilified and shunned. Her attitude says a lot about the shrinking readership of the News Leader, a print newspaper that is being clobbered by the online Fernandina Observer. She’s obviously galled that locals distrust News Leader far left editorial viewpoints and that her paper is mocked by a majority of residents for its childish left-wing editorializing and sloganeering passed off as analysis. Its advertisers obviously feel the same way as the Observer is picking them up right and left. Instead of ignoring her critics, she would be better off discussing and arguing differences with her dissenters, but I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon. Ms. Davis led the anti-Amelia Bluff housing development charge with the paper’s editorials once again taking the losing side of a lost cause. Stand by for Ms. Davis to claim moral superiority because she was denied the righteousness she feels she deserves by Judge E. Gary Early’s decision in favor of the builder. By the way, has anybody seen News Leader Publisher Foy Maloy recently? He appears to be missing in action while his newspaper is suffering a serious lack of leadership and hemorrhaging readers.

Pat Edwards, a Nassau County Commissioner, fatally shot himself in his political foot a few weeks ago when it was revealed that he defamed popular and effective Nassau County Economic Development Commission head and Fernandina Port Director, Laura DiBella, for an email she wrote suggesting the county should move to patch up the disagreement between it and Rayoiner because it reflected poorly on the county’s reputation as a good place to do business. Edwards’ disrespectful text said: “Good morning, in reading Laura’s email I have to ask the question, is her job to support Rayonier/Raydient instead of Nassau County? Why would anyone except a newspaper or paid blogger provide this letter except to strengthen our partners position against us. She has the management skills of a Pig!” Edwards’ text message continued saying: “I think she sees the writing on the wall and is hoping that Rayonier will either fund the board (when ya’ll pull the county funding) or hire her. I hope she goes early.” An outpouring of support for Ms. DiBella resulted while Edwards hid under his desk saying to me when I asked if he wanted to apologize or explain his remarks: “Thank you for contacting me, I have no comment.” Edwards had previously been a strong supporter of Rayonier’s 24,000-acre development district in Yulee, but because the windfall he may have been anticipating from it for his lumber business didn’t materialize, resentment surfaced. The local New Leader newspaper naturally ignored Edwards’ attack on Ms. DiBella.

City Manager Martin greeting local tax payer.

City Manager Dale Martin makes the list because I can’t make sense out of much that he does and even less of what he says. The job-hopping city manager produces a weekly column attempting to explain what’s happening at city hall, whether anything is happening or not and many times makes a dog’s breakfast out of his explanations. One of my favorite Martin columns – which are printed in the News Leader and the online Observer — was one babbling on about why we should all be nice to the city commissioners because they “work hard and are poorly paid.” He didn’t suggest that they shouldn’t have run for office if they don’t like the compensation and can’t handle the work or criticism. In a recent one he tried to explain the mysterious citizen survey he sponsored to justify raising taxes. It was an incomprehensible word jumble written by the folks he paid to conduct the survey and read like it was translated from Sanskrit by someone who doesn’t read Sanskrit. Last Friday he futilely tried to explain the city’s increased taxes but obvious by its omission was his absurd conservation assessment, which is the reason. He continues to tout paid beach parking even though the populace has made it abundantly clear they don’t want it and are suggesting he stuff that idea in the same place with his conservation crap.  He was a strong proponent of the $4.9 million white elephant “it-looks-like-an-airplane” airport terminal that he claims revenue from an annual car auction and race car event at the airport will help fund. Really? At the urging of “Conservationist” Commissioner Ross, Martin agreed that the city pay a property owner $25,000 for a site the county appraiser’s website says is worth just 39 dollars, adding that it would cost more to clear the land than it’s worth. Since he’ s been here the city has continually added employees, when it should be shedding them. City manager tenures are notoriously short-lived, and Martin is no exception. Fernandina Beach is his fifth city manager’s job in 21 years, having been fired from the last three before landing here. Raising taxes and growing city government – hiring an assistant city manager and even proposing a beach management department – have been his priorities since arriving in December 2015. It’s time he started looking for job number six and for the city started living within its means.

Ron (“Get Off My Lawn You Little Bastards”) Sapp, is a native-born island resident who is very knowledgably about city government and how it works. Unfortunately, he’s also a Fernandina Beach High School educator (i.e. indoctrinator) and avowed liberal dead set on reverting Amelia Island into a mid-19th century socialistic society of anti-American grievance mongers. This frumpy Bambi-against-Hitler-save-our-island crusader works himself into a dervish-like trance about, in his words: “New developments with thousands and thousands and thousands of new homes and people (that) are going to change the way we live.”  Many people who move here want the island to remain the same as it was the day they plucked the “For Sale” signs from the front of their new homes. Sapp, who was born here, wants it to revert back to the day of his birth and he won’t be happy until the county hangs “Do Not Enter” signs on all bridges leading to Amelia Island. He has served as a city commissioner and mayor and actually attempted to pass legislation limiting the number of people who could live on Amelia Island, a concept that could only be accomplished if he owned the entire island, which in his delusional mind he thinks he does. In addition, if you’re a conservative proponent of the Second Amendment this fanatic leftie will attempt to portray you as if you were caught red-handed on the beach machine-gunning newly hatched sea turtles. The nonsense this guy frenziedly pens for the local paper would end up on the editing floor of the satirical Amelia Island New-Wrecker for being too far-fetched and is another reason the online Fernandina Observer and NCFL Independent newspapers are so successful. It’s easy to understand why he was campaign manager for City Commissioner Chip Ross. I’m thankful none of my kids or grandkids were ever subjected to this guy’s classroom propaganda. I’ve said it before and repeat that if Sapp was in charge we’d all be wearing loincloths, sitting around bonfires in front of our yurts, stalking dinner with clubs, and downtown Fernandina Beach would resemble Mogadishu.

Margaret Kirkland makes the list, not because she’s a terrible person, but because she’s an out-of-towner who incites gullible locals like a circuit riding evangelical tree-hugging preacher passing a collection plate. I might listen to her “not-in-my-backyard” BS if Fernandina Beach was her backyard but it isn’t, she doesn’t live here. This soft-spoken lady, who resembles a stern librarian, heads up something called Amelia Tree Conservatory and hooked up with locals involved in Conserve Amelia Now (CAN) and the Sierra Club and instigated the lawsuit against the city to stop Fernandina Beach’s Amelia Bluff housing development. I understand the suit cost city tax payers between $30-40 thousand dollars to defend and the extremists close to $30 thousand. How many trees could they have planted for that kind of money?  She needs to take her extreme environmental sermonizing elsewhere, instead she says she’s “reviewing Judge Early’s order.” Hit the bricks lady, you’re nothing but expensive bad news hereabouts.

This has been depressing. I’m thinking of creating a list of those who make an effort to make this a good place to live. Any thoughts? The Amelia Bluff builder may be among them as I’ve heard rumors that despite the financial and publicity pounding he’s taken from the crazed crowd listed above he may still contribute funds for conservation for each house built. He’s a class act either way.

31 Comments

Frank Quigley

24 September , 2019 at 3:09 pm

From NCFL Independent, today: Nassau County Commissioners adopted Monday a $255.4 million budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, which includes a property tax increase and more spending to hire firefighters, sheriff deputies, and road and bridge workers. Nassau County adopted a $255.4 million budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2020. There is a property tax increase under rising property values. Two people will be added to oversee tree protection on Amelia Island, the only location in unincorporated Nassau County where there are guidelines for removal. There are plans to add a grants administrator and a second person will be added to manage traffic lights on SR 200/A1A. " “The poor guy (who does the job now) doesn’t get a day off,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Megan Diehl, who called the roadway “pretty nuts if those lights aren’t timed correctly.” County Manager Michael Mullin, who is also the county attorney, said the Road & Bridge department will get four new hires, but the request was for an increase of 18 staffers. “We’re still deficient,” he said. “None of these (departmental) budgets are what I consider inflated.” Point? (1) Not enough money to go around, staffing at the service level are already insufficient, (2) Nassau County complying with tree protection rules on Amelia Island. So we continue to support dual bureaucracies at the expense of feet-on-the-street.

Lawrence Piper

23 September , 2019 at 2:58 pm

I passed a home on the east (beach) side of Fletcher with a sign in their yard - something anti-Amelia Bluff. Thought it was very ironic that a fine home sitting on a dune on the ocean would protest another home being built on the inerior of the island. Am I the only one that finds that ironic?

GERALD DECKER

22 September , 2019 at 10:45 am

So let us "deed" the city govt over to the county.............let them keep the useful, ditch the rest. Save us all from double taxation....hmmmmmm

Vince Cavallo

22 September , 2019 at 10:45 am

I find it ironic that those ostracizing you for denigrating individuals personally while you point to their follies, use personal attacks sans facts to complain about your observations. That is not to say I agree with all your points especially those about land development issues. Specifically I cannot fathom how an administrative judge can rule that an individual working for the city and operating outside his authority can make changes to the land development codes without the PRIOR approval from the elected officials. Why even have a code if bureaucrats can whimsically approve changes to established code area lines and later have the elected officials decide to go along because to have acknowledged the change was improper could have led to a huge financial loss to the City. Coming next will be the down sized race course lease. Wave enough tax money in front of the City and they will jump at the proposal faster than a trout jumping for a may fly.

Jeff McDowell

22 September , 2019 at 8:52 am

Dave, I usually read your blather on Fridays and get a smile and a laugh from it. This week all I got was a touch of indigestion. How about we get back to overpriced pretzels? Every municipality has its share of knuckleheads and Nassau County is no exception.

Frank Quigley

22 September , 2019 at 7:46 am

Commissioner Ross, You make good points. I do, however, want to state that I am not complaining about service levels, as they are good. Nor am I arguing that either the city or county governments are superior/inferior, one to the other. My emphatic suggestion is that NE Florida (Nassau County) is at a critical pivot point, due to the massive growth you reference, across the bridge. And, that consolidation of practically everything you state as a benefit to taxpayers would not by definition diminish in service levels. Nassau County is relatively raw land and all residents including Fernandina Beach taxpayers will bear the costs associated with this growth. I think is is not correct to infer that those benefits and services you reference would necessarily disappear, should government be combined. A well-managed transition agreement would address and protect these concerns. I’m not wanted to save money, but want to see my taxes, fees, etc. , in the city and county spent effectively. Importantly, a healthy county is critical to the standard of living in Fernandina Beach. My concern is the cost of dual bureaucracies. Those assets that make Nassau County attractive and which are most important (to the well-being of our population) are at the service level. Maintaining and improving service levels of public safety, education, sanitation depends (in my opinion) on having more teachers, law enforcement, EMT, building inspectors, etc. in the field. That is the core of my thesis. If a key problem for any of the county’s regions - including FB - is local control, certainly enterprise zones or planning zones can be established to protect the character of each particular place. From the peanut gallery, city and local governments appear more competitive than cooperative and this is probably human nature. But if the option is simply adding more administrative staff - city and county - and taking taxes/fees higher and higher to do so, it should give all of us pause. I think most local residents would welcome a vigorous public debate on the benefits, challenges and dangers of consolidating government here. Perhaps FB should reach out to county counterparts and organize a forum to address this. Sort of a “speak now or forever hold your peace “ moment, and a rather healthy exercise in democracy, civic duty, and fiscal discipline.

J Bullock

21 September , 2019 at 10:32 pm

Speak on my friend, it’s never a bad thing to speak your mind just as others do when they speak against you. It’s not an easy thing to call out those that have power and make decisions for the rest of us. Many decisions made do not represent my thoughts either , but the decisions are made never the less. So you keep informing ,as for myself I’ll keep reading and somehow nothing probably changes and that includes us.

Lee Stuart

21 September , 2019 at 9:05 pm

Your ad hominem attacks and name calling showed childish anger which scared me. Please be respectful and civil to other points of view.

R

21 September , 2019 at 3:05 pm

Sounds like you need to buy the NewsLeader and start a campaign to run for City Commission. Why not ?

chip ross

21 September , 2019 at 2:13 pm

Mr. Quigley – you question whether the Fernandina Beach City government has outlived its useful purpose. Fair question. It is true that the City is 2% of the land mass of Nassau County, has 12% of the population and pays approximately 22% of the advelorum taxes collected by the County [in addition to the City taxes excluding school taxes]. What you left out of your analysis is the level of service. I looked up your tax bill in property assessor tax web site [a public record]. You pay $4.95 a day in City taxes. For that you receive excellent Fire, Rescue and Police services, a well-functioning sewer and water system, an extensive park system with many recreational opportunities, well maintained beaches with good access and other services. The City subsidizes many special events such as Sounds on Center, fireworks and other community events and maintains the historic down town, marina and golf course. Additionally, the City has prevented high-rises on the beaches and attempted to slow the relentless development occurring on the island. You also pay $5.79 per day to the County [not including the school board]. What services do you receive for that money? With the exception of the few County maintained roads in the city – very little. If the City government was eliminated and the services taken over by the County where do you believe most of the money would go? To the 12% of people who live in the City or to finance the massive growth needs occurring off island. Eliminating the “redundant City Government” would certainly save you $4.95 per day, but I also believe would dramatically decrease the level of services you receive, allow unbridled development on the island and diminish the quality of life on the island. The pools, the ball fields, the tennis courts, level of police and fire rescue services, marina, historic downtown, Sounds on Center, and many other services would all likely be severely curtailed or be eliminated. If you, or any other citizen would like to discuss these issues further, please send me an e-mail at cross@fbfl.org and we can find a mutually convenient time to discuss your ideas and concerns. chip ross

Terry Jenkins

21 September , 2019 at 8:59 am

David, I know you don't think of Atlanta in very good terms because of its terrible government, horrendous traffic, etc. But, it sounds like your Shangra La along the Florida coast has turned into a Cuckoo's Nest. I understand your former home in Atlanta may be on the market soon??

Skeet Taylor

21 September , 2019 at 8:44 am

Well all I can say is “low voter turnout looks more like what they call voting. of no confidence in England parliment and such Why waste time if there’s not going to be any results. Also Mr Scott you did go over the top on this one it looks like Ross people were ready for it. Looks like some fake names so good for them I guess.

Michael Miller

21 September , 2019 at 8:11 am

I find most of what your article points out as true Dave! Some of the remarks written here prove the lack of voter turn out may be at the root of these evils! How else do these idealistic, narcissistic left wing fools win elections in a 73% Republican County? It might be that party affiliation isn’t on the ballot sheet? Regardless of party affiliation, these people are certainly disappointing fools! BTW, those 14th Street apartments are too expensive! No breaks for the disabled/veterans... Good Article... Thanks

Mary Elizabeth

21 September , 2019 at 12:38 am

You may want to consider spending less time writing and more time researching and learning what makes for good persuasive writing. Hint: this ain't it.

Anne

20 September , 2019 at 11:00 pm

Are you an alcoholic?

Dean Abrassart

20 September , 2019 at 4:04 pm

I think Frank Quigley has found a solution! A consolidated plan for Nassau County is critical at this point and would provide much needed efficiency and simplicity.

David

20 September , 2019 at 3:33 pm

Just a really terrible person to have so many hateful things to say and poor judgement as well.

Frank Quigley

20 September , 2019 at 2:40 pm

An honest question is whether Fernandina Beach city government has outlived its useful purpose. Chartered in 1951, the city’s population was 35% of Nassau total, and now is only 15%. Almost all of growth - past, current & projected - is between Shave Bridge and I-95. It seems reasonable to state that this growth will affect those of us living on Amelia Island, and that those of us in Fernandina Beach will help fund this growth. So why can't we combine those services that both the city and the county currently provide? Growth equals the need for new infrastructure, more firemen, EMT personnel, teachers, etc., etc. What we don’t need and can’t afford - is more bureaucracy. It’s hard to justify two redundant governments and the cost borne by FB taxpayers to support two of everything at the administrative level. What we will need is more “feet on the street” - and relate fiscal responsibility.

Rick Fine

20 September , 2019 at 2:20 pm

What is it about old, angry white men who claim to love America, yet can't stand Americans? Think that applies to Amelia Island, Dave?

Eddie Brown

20 September , 2019 at 2:07 pm

This weeks blog is spot on. Thank you for these accurate descriptions of community representatives that have forgotten who they represent.

RTroxel

20 September , 2019 at 1:07 pm

Thank the good lord I don’t own property in the city limits of this town. I would hate to know my tax dollars we’re paying the salaries of these folks.But! What do you expect of a place that was ruled by a horde of pirates. I am sure they were here long enough to make tons of babies who became the forefathers of some of our city leaders of today.Arr matey!

Faith Ross

20 September , 2019 at 12:40 pm

Dave, sorry your developer friends don't like spending money on the new street signs in the historic downtown. They were the brain child of our City's local business group, the Main Street group. They assist us with tourist development and support the growth of our local downtown businesses. The signs were paid for by the TDC and developers' impact fees. So I can understand why your developer friends didn't like that. As far as my/Commissioner Ross's neighborhood, I think all of our neighbors are VERY insulted that you called it "run down". Two or three of the houses on our street have been on the Historic Home Tour, to raise money for the Amelia Museum of History, and one won the Preservation Award in the City. It's beautiful. So you may want to recheck your facts about their condition. As far as the Port goes, it is losing money and yet the Port Commissioners voted to give themselves a raise (doubled it in fact). Sad that you feel the need to put down our business community (who insisted on the reconstruction of the marina), our historic districts which bring in tax dollars, and failed to check out the condition of our City's historic district homes. I understand the frustration of the Port Authority. However, unless they get a port operator who can make them some money, they will continue to be in a financial bind. Thankfully the City has been blessed with customers for our local businesses from tourism and the residents from Nassau County. They come to our island for its beaches and its dwindling natural beauty. Keeping our island attractive to tourists and Nassau County will continue to be a challenge in the future for the survival of all of our existing downtown businesses.

Robert Steele

20 September , 2019 at 11:59 am

Dave, it's good to see your wise observations getting even broader exposure: https://www.floridadaily.com/bullies-on-the-bully-pulpit-commissioners-blocking-a-healthy-economic-development-project/ Ordinarily I wouldn't comment on the comments of another commenter, but those of a few moments ago by one John Barrickman are dense with complexity, dense with obscurity, and... well, dense. He does you the honor of back-handed praise of a sort ("You are as much a public figure..."), but then launches into a diatribe about you being "...a strong advocate for what has turned out to be the project..." etc.—but without identifying anywhere what they project is! I'm sure you can easily identify the project (you being such a "strong advocate" for it and all), but as a disinterested layman I had to puzzle it out. As the opening paragraph of a murder mystery, his commentary would have some merit. But as a literary specimen it lacks essential clarity. Assuming I've correctly guessed what he's banging on about, please consider the following: 1) If a relatively modest apartment development "...has turned out to be the project having the most negative impact on Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island in at least the last five years..." then Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island have enjoyed at least half a decade of almost unalloyed pleasantness. If this is the worst thing that's happened around here lately.... 2) Most construction projects of any kind might reasonably be "...regarded as an eyesore..." before they are completed. I'm sure the Taj Mahal looked like an unruly pile of rocks and stones before it was finished. 3) The fact that the area around the construction is "...almost completely devoid of trees..." shouldn't surprise anyone. It is customary for trees and other greenery to be furnished after construction is complete, not before. 4) Surely, the "unaffordable" nature of rents are mere speculation at this stage. The builder will want to get as much as possible, of course, but rents—like the price of everything—tend to settle in at what people are willing to pay. 5) It's difficult to reconcile a yearning for "affordable housing" with a simultaneous avidity for overgrown, soggy, uninhabitable patches of land. 6) Inasmuch as most of the continent of North America "...was previously a wetland..." (see the Cretaceous period, as one example), it's a good thing these modern-day Luddites haven't been in charge all along.

Cheryl

20 September , 2019 at 10:58 am

Wow. You are just plain ole evil to the core. I've never encountered a person who proudly and loudly voices lies and opinions from his hateful soul with such gusto.

Robert Warner

20 September , 2019 at 10:53 am

Dave - Perhaps folks are beginning to realize that you are the "duplicitous figure" here. No one else.

Chris Hadden

20 September , 2019 at 10:39 am

Honestly Dave, what is the purpose of rehashing your personal dislike for these folk’s week after week. Is this what your life is about? It reflects so poorly on you.

John Barrickman

20 September , 2019 at 10:14 am

Dave, I found it disingenuous that you did not include yourself among “The Most Destructive, Disingenuous and Dim People Making a Mess of Nassau County. You are as much a public figure and activist as many of the people you identified in your blog. You were a strong advocate for what has turned out to be the project having the most negative impact on Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island in at least the last five years and the project is not even completed yet. You argued on multiple occasions that the project would be a great addition to the community and address a critical issue facing the city and the island – affordable housing. The emerging reality is a project that is regarded as an eyesore almost completely devoid of trees – one of the islands critical assets – and anything but affordable. Rents for a one-bedroom apartment range from $1,285 - $1,430, two- bedroom from $1,575 to $1,889, and a three bedroom from $1,940 - $2,011 a month. This is hardly affordable which was reinforced by Cathy Burns last week in her lament about the inability of attracting teachers to Nassau County due to the lack of affordable housing. Still to be determined are the adverse impact on traffic on 14th and Lime, the impact on the adjacent school and access not to mention the potential for flooding in what was previously a wetland if we have a significant weather event. Many of the people you noted in your column were opposed to the project and are now proving to be right. It was a project foisted on the citizens of Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island based on false representations by the developer and vigorously supported by you in your column.

Skeet Taylor

20 September , 2019 at 9:57 am

Haha Mr. Keogh you hit the nail right on the money. it won’t take ole’ Lott long to chime in on whats not his business. I saw where he doesn’t even live here anymore so its like being stalked by your ex-wife. My guessing is he wants the city to still be here when he retires so he can get a job at the manager job level or something

Glen

20 September , 2019 at 9:27 am

Stop it, stop it! You had me at “Left Coast Lednovich”. Be careful, I think Dale is making a move to hire NYC’s DeBlassio, as his assistant.

Ralph Oliver

20 September , 2019 at 9:10 am

Love ya Dave ,but after this one you may want to consider getting a food taster on the payroll. Jus sayin'

Pat Keogh

20 September , 2019 at 8:46 am

Dave: Start the clock on local government's Serial Sycophant's (Dave Lott) response; "We can all agree that local government could use some improvement BUT..... "

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