Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Johnny Miller, who is very skilled in his use of social media to express his opinions and display his left-leaning ideology, took to that media to voice his displeasure of my last two blogs.
His annoyance concerning my comments on the possibility of the City Commission violating the Sunshine Law (Is No Public Discussion of $1.8 Million Lawsuit An Example of Shady Local Government?) November 28, 2014) prompted him to send a copy of the blog to City Attorney Tammi Bach, who responded to it with a detailed retort in which she copied all the other city commissioners and numerous city staff while soon-to-be-former Commissioner Sarah Pelican had it read into the commission’s proceedings. Mr. Miller’s initiative caused this blog to receive more local attention than I could have ever hoped to generate, including producing a slew of new subscribers.
His postings voicing his displeasure about my blogs make more sense than a recent Commissioner Miller Facebook question where the vegetarian commissioner asked his followers: “If you were a vegetable which one would you like to be?” Maybe at the next commission meeting his supporters can all go dressed as their favorite edible plant.
In his online arena Mr. Miller silently endorsed false allegations concerning his invited speaker, Ms. Erin Handy, an environmentalist for Oceana, an organization vehemently opposed to seismic sound testing in the Atlantic Ocean to locate oil and natural gas deposits. I wrote that the presentation was a waste of time (Fernandina Beach City Hall Political & Legal Antics Make “Blazing Saddles” Look Tame), December 5, 2014) and that the commission needed to focus on more pressing local issues, which the commissioners were elected to watch over. I also questioned that fact that Ms. Handy’s presentation didn’t present opposition views.
And here is where Commissioner Miller began to go off the rails, not because of what he posted but because of what he knowingly saw posted on his Facebook thread, and then sat back and remained silent about. I didn’t mind his following comments about the blogs when he posted : “David Scott’s blog has officially entered the realm of TMZ. His reply to my suggestion that he would loose creditability by posting that his city commission was illegally meeting out of the sunshine was, “I didn’t say that you did, I said that’s what I heard!” Bless his heart. I like the guy, but his rants have officially lost my respect as a source of information and has become a source of humor.“ Those comments made it abundantly clear what he thinks of my opinions and he has every right to express those thoughts and he should continue to make his views known.
What did bother me, however, was his silence when his wife, Lori, and his other Facebook allies posted false allegations about me following Ms. Handy’s presentation such as: “How could he l(Dave) like the meeting when during the majority of it he was in the parking lot harassing the speaker. Why did he not voice his opinion at the meeting instead of criticizing after the fact,” posted Lori Green Miller. Not only did Commissioner Miller not object to this nonsense, but he clicked a “like” on the accusation, which was blatantly false.
From there is just got crazier, and when I objected I realized I was dealing with lemming-like group thinkers suffering from severe Attention Deficit Disorder when someone named Sherry Carter Garbarini posted : “I walked her to her car after she came back inside scared and rattled. The speaker gave the description of the harasser. That information was passed to the officer. The officer stated your name. No one came after you Dave but next time you might want to curb your obnoxious behavior. You never know who you are going to be pissing off next time.”
Despite my protestations of innocence these folks continued to make paranoid accusations based on their own neurotic impulses and persisted in accusing me of harassing a middle-aged lady in a city parking lot with Ray Hetchka posting “Dave…was that not you following her across 2nd St headed toward the parking lot? I was in the grey FJ40 at the stop sign waiting for you to cross.” And someone named Art Sanchez saying: Seems to me that a “line up” is in order here! We should have the accuser pick the culprit from a line up! That should settle this matter! Make sure you are wearing the same clothes Dave!! LOL.” and then adding: Hey Dave!!! No one owes you an apology! You put yourself out there with your opinions now you get opinions back! Put your big boy pants on and relax!!
It became obvious that there was no use trying to rationalize with these folks as they are all about shouting and demagogy as they worked themselves up into a dervish-like state and continued to rant inanities.
So I decided to do something that never occurred to these spittle-spewing, raging folks seeking slobbering approval from each other, and that is talk to the police and Ms. Handy about this supposed incident.
According to the Fernandina Police Department a report about the alleged episode was never filed. Nope, nothing say the cops. So I called Ms. Handy, using the phone number she provided on her Power Point presentation at the City Commission meeting. I identified myself as Dave Scott, who attended her talk and as one who didn’t wholly agree with what she said. I added that I heard that following her talk, she was verbally accosted in a parking lot, and apologized for such behavior by anyone in our community.
Shouldn’t Commissioner Miller have done this earlier? But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Ms. Handy told me: ” ‘Accosted’ in too strong a word.” She said, after leaving the commission chambers, that she stopped on the sidewalk to retrieve her car keys from her purse and noticed a man behind her, who paused when she did. She said she turned and asked him “Can I help you?” and according to Ms. Handy he said: “Why wasn’t the other side here to present their views?”
At that point Ms. Handy said she told the stranger that he should contact the local mayor and she retreated back inside City Hall.
Apparently the lady is unaccustomed to having her opinions questioned and, as Ms. Garbarini said, this left the speaker “scared and rattled.” That’s understandable, particularly when the woman presented what she admitted was “anecdotal” evidence about the coming oceanic Holocaust she claims will be caused by oil companies using seismic sound testing. Her default argument is to holler “HELP” and then skedaddle.
When asked by me to describe her questioner’s attitude Ms. Handy said he was not really threatening, but more like “creepy.” Of course! How else do “Its-the-end-of-the-world-because-of-the-oil-companies” liberals describe someone who doesn’t agree with their point of view. Her other option was to hold her hands over her ears like a small child who doesn’t want to listen to Mother.
Oh, Ms. Handy also described her questioner’s appearance as “skinny, bald and sixtyish,” three things I am not.
On late Saturday afternoon I happened upon Johnny Miller’s delightful mom, Nancy, and her congenial husband, Stan, at Sandy Bottoms and expressed my displeasure and dismay about their daughter-in-law’s Facebook comments. I assume Nancy relayed my thoughts as later that evening Mrs. Miller did concede, posting: “I have to add that I did not personally see Dave in the parking lot. I heard it from other people and read it on a couple of facebook pages. I should not have posted it without asking him if it was true. For that, I apologize Dave.”
From Commissioner Miller so far — crickets!
The News-Leader’s Alternative Universe: Our local bi-weekly newspaper, the News-Leader is discovering that it has little influence beyond the parking lot of its 511 Ash Street location as both of the candidates it, and all of its editorialists slavishly endorsed for the Fernandina Beach City Commission, lost. Editor Michael Parnell’s dreadful, misguided front-page hatchet job (Restaurateur seeks commission ‘seat’, Oct. 29, 2014) which lamely accused successful restaurateur and candidate Tim Poynter of a mish mash of phony ploys to skirt city rules and regulations backfired badly, as many, many people told me that it was that piece of lousy journalism that clinched their vote for Mr. Poynter. About the only thing Parnell didn’t accuse Mr. Poynter of was teaming with Charles Manson to club baby seals to death. Publisher Foy Maloy’s editorial endorsement of Charlie Corbett rang hollow and an opinion piece by frequent opinion-editorialist and former city commissioner Ron Sapp hilariously tried to convince readers to vote for Mr. Corbett because Mr. Sapp and Mr. Corbett played together as kids. One of the paper’s saddest and most absurd efforts to convince voters to reject Mr. Poynter came from fired City Marina Manager Coleman Langshaw, whose rambling disjointed screed made more sense when viewed by holding it up to a mirror. It is obvious this guy will never get over being canned from his marina job and based on his constant sour grapes editorial comments he desperately needs therapy. Steve Nicklas, who pens a “Steve’s Market Place” column, turned in a messy word jumble following the election (Where’s the fire? December 10,2014) saying the fire truck that roamed the city’s streets on loan from the Jacksonville firefighter’s union promoting Mr. Poynter, was a “fiasco, suspicious, questionable, unethical” and “satirical political theater” proclaiming that local firefighters are not united in promoting Mr. Poynter. Well, I’m sure the chief isn’t, but following conversations with many of these first responders, who legitimately campaigned on their own time, it appears to me the majority were. (See item below “It’s Heating Up At The Firehouse). In the middle of this muddle he somehow managed to insert how well St. Augustine was doing, calling that city’s confusion over displaying “The Nights of Lights” exhibit a “new and great initiative” suggesting that folks here could learn from it. Huh? He either got two columns mixed up or published an example of why writers shouldn’t drink prior to submitting their work. The paper should allow Pat Foster-Turley, one of the best writers in Northeast Florida, to write and edit all of its opinions because currently. instead of serious discussions about local issues, the News-Leader’s commentaries display all the subtlety of a professional wrestling match.
Speaking Of Commissioners: In the past I’ve been skeptical of folks waving signs bearing their candidate’s name during elections assuming they don’t generate votes, but the Tuesday, December 9 runoff for city commissioner between Charlie Corbett and Tim Poynter has changed my mind. I actually talked to folks who told me they forgot about the election and only voted because they saw the sign-wavers. I also had a lady approach me in a local market when she saw my “I Voted” sticker on my coat lapel and ask “Is today the runoff election?” I assured her it was and urged her to get herself down to her local precinct pronto and vote for Mr. Poynter, which she enthusiastically said she would do with her husband in tow. “And call your neighbors,” I yelled after her. And speaking of forgetting, one of my favorite bar room signs is “If you’re drinking to forget, please pay in advance.” But I’ve also discovered that bars are fertile recruiting grounds for forgetful voters, and encouraged many tipplers this past Tuesday to get themselves down to their local precincts before the 7 pm cut off time, but to pay their tab and back up a happy hour drink or two first. Also, if in the future, newly elected commissioner Poynter wants to encourage vegetarian Commissioner Johnny Miller to vote for his positions, he doesn’t need to hold out the proverbial “carrot on a stick” as one from the back yard garden will probably serve as all the enticement necessary.
It’s Heating Up At The Firehouse: I’ve heard from a large number of local disgruntled firefighters who are very unhappy with what’s happening within their ranks and vocally expressed their displeasure over the firing of Fernandina Beach Human Resources Director Robin Marley, who they tell me was one of the most unbiased and honest folks on the city’s staff. “She didn’t always agree with us and fought hard for her positions, but she was always fair and well respected,” said one who asked to remain anonymous. It’s not just four or five unhappy firemen who are stirring the pot as one city commissioner told me, but it appears to be a majority. I’ve even had retired firemen tell me how serious the situation is, and when we have unhappy first responders, it is not at all good for the community and its citizens. This is a serious issue and maybe the two new commissioners, Robin Lentz and Tim Poynter, with the help of Mayor Ed Boner, can help make this issue one of the city’s priorities.
Dining, Dancing & Drinking: If you haven’t tried the $6.00 taco special featured each Monday at Sandy Bottoms then you’ve missing out on one of the area’s best bargains, as you are served three tacos and an order of black beans and rice which can be washed down with $2.00 happy hour beers between 5-7 pm. I can’t think of another place where you can eat and drink for eight bucks and if you can then please tell me. Also, look for the return of 50 cent wings on Wednesday nights at the Bottoms this coming week. Call ’em at 904/310-6904. If you have an urge for Mexican food and have kids 12 and under then you have hit the jackpot if you head to Barberitos Mexican restaurant on Sadler in the Publix shopping center after 4 pm as junior and sissy eat fee on Tuesdays, if mom or dad buys a meal. Call ’em at 904/277-2505. Elizabeth Point, an elegant boutique hotel on the Atlantic on Fletcher Avenue and within sight of Sandy Bottoms, is now open to the public for brunch on Sunday from 11:30-1 pm and lunch other days. If you haven’t had an opportunity to sit on this wonderful establishment’s porch, enjoy lunch or brunch, read the newspaper or a magazine or just look out over the ocean then you have a special treat in store as this is not a place to sit and stare at your cell phone. Call ’em at 904/ 277-4851. I’m told that the empty Murray’s Grill building in Yulee has been purchased by a national chain that will be opening an eatery there sometime next year. I also hear a new restaurant called Indulgence is planned for the house across the street from the US Post Office and next door to the downtown library and that a lease has finally been signed for The Beech Street Grill location. I also understand the new movie theater in Yule will serve beer and wine and patrons will be able to enjoy a meal while watching films. I’ve been told that feasibility studies were conducted at the now closed theatre location on the island’s 14th Street and the prospects for another theater there are dim. A Taste of Wine By Steve will conduct a special Champagne tasting this evening from 5-7 pm along with live music at their 4924 First Coast Highway location for only five bucks a person. Call ’em at 904/557-1506.