Just when you think things can’t get any nuttier in Fernandina Beach they do.
Following is some of the most recent craziness:
- Lightweight Mayor Johnny “Moonbeam” Miller, who ran seven years ago on a pro-business platform, is endorsing a move by some folks hereabouts to boycott downtown shops that display pro-Trump images or sell Trump items.
- Dawn Tiura, a board member of Main Street, a group that receives taxpayer money to promote Fernandina merchants, is suggesting shoppers stay away from local Trump-friendly businesses.
- Local conservation group (CAN) leader Chuck Oliva says he didn’t file for his organization to be a 501c(3) charity but public records clearly show that he did and is now accepting political contributions. Is the group guilty of money laundering?
Moonbeam Growing Dimmer: Let’s start with the whacky term-limited mayor, who fortunately has only two months left to warm a city hall chair, annoy local residents, harass area merchants, and make the town look foolish.
On October 28, 2013 Johnny Miller issued a press release announcing his candidacy with a headline stating: “‘Let’s make it easier to do business here’ Says commission candidate Johnny Miller’”. The release went on to quote Miller advocating issues to remove business barriers and help local merchants prosper, including speeding up the permitting process and revising impact fees.
In a subsequent release issued during his runoff election Nov. 6, 2013 Miller said: “….equitable fees, understandable and fair regulations, faster permitting, fixing unfair impact fees, and clear communications between the city bureaucracy and its constituents are elements that will help businesses prosper, attract new enterprises and residents, and provide a comfortable place to live and play.”
I’m familiar with both releases because I wrote every word in them, including his quotes. He approved them both and hand carried them to the media. At the time, Miller, who was bartending at the Green Turtle, successfully duped me and a handful of others saying he would be a pro-business conservative voice on the Commission. We naively believed him. We worked to elect him, and have regretted that decision ever since. He lied to us. He turned out to be a nightmare for the local business community and a joke to onlookers. His far left-wing behavior has resulted in ridicule and embarrassment for the city and stumbling blocks for area businesses. As his term draws to a long-awaited end, his antics have become more extreme.
This past week he continued to raise eyebrows and the ire of local shop owners when he endorsed on Facebook a group of snarling, spittle-spewing online anti-Trumpers that are calling for a boycott of Fernandina Beach stores that display trump signage or sell Trump gear.
One of those social media trolls screeching loudest for a downtown boycott of local businesses that outwardly support Trump was Marlene Chapman, wife of do-nothing Commissioner Phil “The Listener” Chapman. Chapman is another Commissioner we’ll be happy to see the south end of heading north when his term ends in November.
When I asked City Attorney Tammi Bach and City Manager Dale Martin about Mayor Miller’s anti-business rhetoric Mr. Martin responded saying: “To the best of my knowledge, Mayor Miller is not utilizing either City resources or his mayoral title, so his efforts are his personal opinions. I understand that as a public official it is an extremely difficult (if not impossible) distinction to make, and, as evident in this situation, can create confusion as to whether an official is speaking as a public official or as a private citizen. The City is not responsible for the personal conduct of officials/staff outside the realm of official City business.”
He encouraged me to contact Mr. Miller for further clarification. Mr. Miller is welcome to respond here anytime.
Ms. Bach expanded on Martin’s comments saying: “Based on the one screenshot you shared, I have to agree with Mr. Martin. There is no violation of oath of office by Mayor Miller but perhaps a lapse of good judgment, in light of his elected position, in these polarized political times we live in. If you find any of the allegedly deleted posts by Mayor Miller, please share them with us.”
“Lapse of Judgement” has been Moonbeam’s credo since he was first elected. If he had a mentor it would be the hapless mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler. If anybody out there wants to share some of Moonbeam’s screen shots with Ms. Bach or Mr. Martin please do so. Copy me too please.
Main Street Screed: Dawn Tiura is a board member of Fernandina Beach’s Main Street, an organization specifically designed to promote local downtown businesses. Her seething hatred for President Donald Trump has spilled over and clouded her duties as a board member. She sure isn’t doing local businesses any good, just the opposite.
Her loathing of Trump is openly displayed on a June 14 Facebook post where she wrote: “Did you know you can go to Trumps FB page and do a search of who likes him, and filter to see which of your “friends” are on there? I was shocked to see some people there, wow. Thought they were really nice, loving, kind and intelligent, having some doubts now. I pray they see the error of supporting this person who is continuing to divide the nation. Haven’t seen any of them posting in support of BLM, watching and listening more carefully now. Eye opening and makes me sad.”
If I were a dues-paying Main Street business I’d be more than sad. I’d be outraged by this extremist woman’s words and actions. “Hey lady you’re supposed to help us, not try to put us out of business!”
I was informed by some alarmed local business owners that Ms. Tiura endorsed the boycott of city enterprises that displayed Trump signage or sold Trump merchandise. When I asked her about that she responded with the following word jumble saying: “I would avoid businesses with signs. As most people who are very conservative would avoid businesses with a Biden sign. This was on a closed page of like-minded people and it was leaked. Do you not think there is the exact thing going on in reverse? I also frequent all businesses, but I will not walk into one with a huge Trump Pence sign. I did not encourage anyone else to do so, I stated my personal beliefs. How do you feel about the president of the United States who is advocating publicly asking for a boycott of Good Year tires.”
What I think about President Trump’s comments on Goodyear or if she assumes I would boycott shops with a Biden sign aren’t the issues. The issue is that this woman is on a board that city merchants fund with $40,000 a year to help them generate business. She’s not doing them any favors saying she won’t frequent stores that sport Trump signs or sell Trump products. Who needs Covid-19 when they have Ms. Tiura? As a board member shouldn’t she support the entire downtown businesses community, not just the ones that she thinks reflect her political preferences and rejecting those she feels don’t?
Without any prompting Ms. Tiura added: “I also don’t support Sliders since they decided to boycott the NFL. Personal choice for me.” At the rate she’s going she’ll soon run out of businesses to frequent. How the hell did this woman get on this board? She’s doing the exact opposite of what the board is designed to do. If I owned a Fernandina Beach business I’d be incensed no matter what my political affiliation.
Arlene Filkoff, who runs Main Street, may want to rethink the vetting of her board members. Having Ms. Tiura on the Main Street Board is like having Foster Brooks heading up the Temperance League.
On April 8, 2019 Oliva, the founder of Conserve Amelia Now (CAN) – a group whose sole purpose is to hound property owners; scream and shake their fists in front of city hall; sue local tax payers; and drive developers into bankruptcy or off the island – proudly posted online that “……we are in the process of applying for 501 (c) (3) status as a corporation….”
As I understand it a 501 (c) (3) is a charitable designation and donations to it are tax deductible. However, CAN is soliciting political donations. Political contributions are not tax deductible. Over the years the folks that prepare my tax returns have consistently told me: “Don’t even think about deducting political contributions.”
Is it legal? Illegal? Did they break federal law? Do candidates have to give the contributions they received from CAN back? As an aside, Alexandria Lajoux, a candidate for City Commission and an avid CAN supporter, revealed her hand when she penned a letter to the Tampa City Attorney not long ago on behalf of CAN asking for advice on how to attack and sue property owners and developers. If you are a property owner or own a business hereabouts this is NOT someone you want on the City Commission.
Folks who contributed to politicians through CAN may want to contact their tax preparer’s office and have them check it out.
Despite happily boasting that CAN applied for the 501c3 status Oliva told the online Observer’s Suanne Thamm that it never has been one. But the state says it is. It’s on their application. According to the Observer article someone named Alfred Laub and my old nemeses and former neighbor,the unhinged Robert “Bullet Bob” Weintraub, “apparently thought they were filing to create a regular corporation.” This group should have known better. Anything involving Weintraub is not going to have a good result.
Saying she was responding to a variety of queries by readers, Ms. Thamm wrote a follow-up article Sept. 1 saying her research concludes that CAN is responsible for abiding by the federal and state tax laws on its own. The article went onto say: “Whether those who made financial contributions to CAN believe they were misled, is a matter for them to take up with CAN.”
Ms. Thamm correctly concludes that since Oliva’s claim that the incorrect filing status came to be on CAN’s state application, 16 months have passed since the alleged error was made, and “he may want to fix it.” Why didn’t he fix it when they filed their annual report with the state in May?
I suggest Oliva avoid asking Bullet Bob for any more help or advice. On second thought, since I’m not a fan of CAN, go ahead and have Bullet Bob handle it all. He’s done a great job so far for those of us that oppose their Marxist methods. Talk about “useful idiots!”
Call It What It Is: Former Tampa Plant High School classmate, friend, and American Spectator writer Larry Thornberry sent a note to a group of us recently concerning what the Democrats call “unrest” in their ineptly governed cities: Larry says: “…..stop using the flaccid noun ‘unrest’ for what’s going on in D cities. This sounds like a bunch of folks that just didn’t get enough sleep the night before. What’s happening in our cities, what’s terrorizing honest citizens and destroying businesses and lives, is not lack of rest. It’s violence, terror, criminality. It’s NOT ‘mostly peaceful.’ It’s mostly violent. We should call it what it is.”
To welcome visitors streaming across Shave Bridge to Amelia Island resident and tireless Republican coordinator Amanda Borghese has organized a Trump rally tomorrow, Saturday, September 5, starting at 10 a.m. at the corners of Sadler Road and 8th Street, on the same corner as the Beach Diner and across from it.
Resident and nationally known, opera singer Mary Aiello, will sing The National Anthem and several other songs at the rally. This is the lady that was scheduled to sing the Anthem in Jacksonville at the Republican National Convention there before it was cancelled due to the virus.
Ms. Borghese will provide some 50 – 75 rally signs and will meet anyone wanting one outside the Diner. They can be purchased for $10 or $20 or folks can “borrow” them and give them back to her after the rally! Participants can also bring their own signs or flags. Ms. Borghese says she expects the crowd to be there approximately two hours and encourages them to wear hats and sun screen.
Following the rally the group may head downtown and walk around Centre Street to cheer up patriotic locals and visitors and distress Democrats.
Those wanting to pick up signs, or Trump memorabilia (hats, bumper stickers, etc.) prior to the rally can visit the office to Re-Elect The President that Ms. Borghese and her husband opened at 5422 First Coast Highway, Amelia Island. It’s the one-story building with a red roof. Ms.Borghese can be contacted via email at email@example.com.
While enjoying Amelia Island’s 13 miles of beaches during the long weekend visitors and locals will be treated to an air display that involves a plane pulling a banner promoting President Trump’s re-election (see photo above). The plane will fly up and down the beach Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for an hour a day. However, on Labor Day, it’ll fly for two hours with flights starting about 11:45 am. It’ll make two trips, back and forth. On Labor Day, the plane will start out around the same time, but finish its route about 1:30 PM, or later, weather permitting. In case of bad weather the flight will be put off for the next day or next weekend. The route will start at the north end of the island, fly along the beach, continue past the Omni, and south towards Jacksonville, then turn around and come back. It was paid for by local citizens supporting President Trump’s reelection.
What’s Not In The News: You probably heard that a career criminal in Kenosha, WI was shot by the police and may wind up paralyzed. What you may not have heard about is that over the same weekend, 59 black people were shot by other black people in Chicago. Five of them died. The 54 still living should be thankful those Chicago thugs are lousy shots.
Hmmmm: I read that in the latest bulletin from the CDC, they declared there is no proof that masks do anything to prevent the spread of the Wuhan virus.
The FEMA Letter Is In The Mail: My knowledgeable and wise correspondent, who knows more about goings on in the city and the marina than most hereabouts, files this latest dispatch from downtown shedding light on the Marina-FEMA fiasco.
“The die is cast,” he says. “But consider this.”
“FEMA frequently denies initial claims, they are similar in their behavior to an insurance company. Appeals generally are either denied and the applicant receives no aid, or the assistance granted is substantially less than initially requested.
Given this known behavior, why did Martin, Ross, Kreger, Miller and Chapman think their claim would fly through unchanged?
Martin said he had three experts agreeing that their claim was valid—none of them employees of FEMA, by the way. And none empowered to commit funding.
If Commissioner Chip Ross, who likes to research everything, had looked at FEMA’s record, he would have seen that most likely the initial claim would be denied and any approved aid much less than requested. He should have urged caution on spending $6.5 million, as did former Commissioner Roy Smith, the only NO vote. Instead he was effusive in his confidence in Fender Marine’s ability to build a bigger and better new marina.
Pending FEMA final approval, a temporary marina could have been put in place to placate the public’s demand for action – instead they opted to go whole hog and build the Taj Mahal on the taxpayer’s dime.
The last time the city spent that kind of money was to purchase Egan’s Greenway, and they sought voter approval to do it. Not this time, just slam-bam thank you done.
No doubt the City will receive some aid in the end, still the behavior of these public officials is and was reckless. Saying “well we are where we are” is an admission of guilt and cannot be allowed to excuse past behavior. You would not let your kids get away that easily.
Someone must be held accountable.
It is time to elect responsible leaders who are not beholding to special interests, and who govern for the welfare of all city citizens.”
This man is wiser than most hereabouts about subjects aquatic.
Help Wanted: Five adults who can set aside their own egos and personal agendas in favor of the public good, who can work toward a common goal and not squabble. Apply, Fernandina Beach City Commission Chambers.
Speaking Of The City Commission Race: I’ve sent Group 3 candidate Wendall McGahee three messages asking him to explain his position with BLM and his support for the Marxist group of anarchists without receiving a response. Dead silence so far. The same News Leader writer – Julia Roberts — that quoted McGahee in a Wednesday, September 1 puff piece, failed to question him about his BLM affiliation. This is the same writer who earlier this summer quoted McGahee during the BLM march through town as saying: “Rioting is what happens when you turn a deaf ear to people. Marching downtown is great, but this needs to be ongoing and constant. Something needs to happen. We want change, but will it ever come.” I can’t bring myself to vote for his incumbent opponent, Chip Ross, and certainly won’t vote for McGahee who doesn’t explain what changes he wants but implies if he doesn’t get them rioting may happen. I’m writing in my pal Pajamadave Voorhees but predicting that the pompous , arrogant Ross will swamp the naive 25-year-old McGahee.
Do The Math: Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who served under both George W. Bush and Obama summed up Joe Biden by saying that in more than 40 years, the Democrat presidential candidate has been wrong on every foreign relations issue. His mistakes says Gates include invading Iraq, extending the war in Afghanistan indefinitely, not exterminating General Qassim Suleimani, and being the lone Obama Administration holdout opposing the elimination of Osama bin Laden. Let’s not give him a chance to keep his record intact.
Things I Wish I’d Said: “I was kidnapped by mimes. They did unspeakable things to me.” – anonymous.