If I was to once again grade the five Fernandina Beach City Commission candidates during their second forum, this one sponsored by the online newspaper Fernandina Observer at City Hall Thursday, October 16, here’s what their report cards would look like:
Tim Poynter – A. As in the first forum local restaurateur Poynter provided no-nonsense, sensible answers to the questions, and despite the moderator requesting “no applause,” many in the audience were unable to restrain themselves and responded with muted hand clapping and at times verbal approval. Mr. Poynter knows and understands the issues, responded with detailed awareness and an understanding of the citizen’s wishes and the city’s needs.
Robin Lentz – A. Nassau County Educator Ms. Lentz once again was poised, confident and informed. Her responses were sharp and concise displaying that she has done her homework and knows the subject matter well.
Sarah Pelican – C. Current Commissioner Ms. Pelican stated at the beginning of the session that some topics many come up that she may not be able to respond to because other commissioners were in the room and it may be a violation of policy. She adhered to that by providing vague, non-detailed answers and displayed little enthusiasm.
Roy C. Smith – C. Retired businessman Smith improved dramatically since the last forum and gave the appearance he did his homework, making some of the same points as Poynter, but somewhat less articulately. He appears to be a nice enough gentleman but his answers were long winded. However, he was the only candidate to address the city’s unfunded pension programs, which have been flagged as the most disastrous in the state by a Tallahassee think tank.
Charlie Corbett – F. Once again incumbent Commissioner Corbett seemed confused by the questions and his bewildering response on why he voted to give a city loan back to the bank provoked audience laughter particularly when he said that the commission voted to return the money because they didn’t have anything to spend it on. He later added that the commission could not do anything about city storm water problems because it didn’t have the money. He didn’t seem to have a grasp of the issues and spent his last two minutes correcting “any misinformation about you or your positions” by saying that what troubled him are the times during this campaign that he has been unjustly disparaged by me (Dave Scott), a “fired volunteer columnist for the Fernandina Beach News Leader” but my criticism, he says, may be attributed to “Dave’s stroke last year.” Corbett believes that some of my comments are “in jest” but he’s “not sure.” Truth is I believe Charlie has the best interests of the community at heart but he’s just not up to the job and at times it appears that his elevator gets stuck between floors.
The Fernandina Beach News Leader on the other hand fell all over itself in its Wednesday, Oct. 22 edition with two slobbering editorials endorsing Corbett with occasional columnist and former City Commissioner Ron Sapp essentially saying he’s voting for Corbett because back in the day he grew up on the same street and played baseball and basketball with him as a kid. Well, that might get the vote of a couple of the folks who lived on North 15th St. some 60 or so years ago, but even that is doubtful.
The paper’s Publisher, Foy Malloy, doing an Academy Award winning impression of Chicken Little, hysterically squawking and flapping his wings, endorsed both Corbett and Pelican, citing a mindless litany of blah, blah nonsense insinuating that Poynter and Lentz, if elected, would turn our town into an even darker version of “It’s a Wonderful Life’s” Pottersville, implying that they would make changes that NEITHER of them have ever mentioned or would ever consider. I believe he concocted this drivel because: 1- He has an irrational personal dislike of Tim Poynter and; 2- In his mind he lives in an alternate universe where it’s always 1955. I grew up in the 1950s and it was a wonderful era, but someone needs to tell Sapp and Malloy that as hard as they try they can’t push the clock back.
The News-Leader‘s past endorsements have proven to do the opposite of what the paper intended so I think that the readers that it has left are smart enough to see through this silliness. And why hasn’t this paper written about the city’s pension fund crisis; the sidewalk issues on Front St. that involved their good friend and then News-Leader advertiser, the owner of the Marina restaurant (see item below); the impact fee controversy; the recent firing of the city’s Human Resource director and allegations of mismanagement at the city’s fire department; or a slew of other issues critical to the health of the community? It reads like City Manager Joe Geritty has been named head of the paper’s editorial board and made its tagline “There’s nothing to see here.” Thank goodness for the online Fernandina Observer, which does a good job of covering all city-related issues.
Oh, and if News-Leader reporters were at either of the two candidate forums I didn’t see them and nobody I know heard from anyone in that newsroom and neither event was reported in the News-Leader. If Malloy had attended or even watched it on the city’s TV channel he would know that his endorsement editorial was a load of what former mayor, the late Smiley Lee, once dumped a truck full of at the News-Leader’s front door.
Sidewalk To Nowhere Finally Going Somewhere: The city, apparently smelling more unwinnable lawsuits headed its way; under pressure from levelheaded downtown businesspeople; and feeling the heat from the Americans for Disabilities Act folks in DC, moved last week to settle a lengthy dispute with Patricia Toundas, owner of the Marina Restaurant, and provide for a long-overdue sidewalk to be constructed on Front St., west of the Marina restaurant. In Resolution 2014-146 funds for the sidewalk and related materials have been allocated to approve the sidewalk west of the Marina Restaurant and connecting with the one constructed almost two years ago that cost Salty Pelican owners Al Waldis and T.J. Pelletier $3,500. Fernandina Beach News-Leader Publisher Foy Malloy in his frantic and embarrassingly fawning, over-the-top endorsement of incumbent candidates Charlie Corbett and Sarah Pelican even gave those two credit for solving this problem, a problem that, whenever I wrote about it in my “Dave’s World” column for his paper, he edited out, providing me no rational explanation. And while Malloy was attacking my column with his editing pencil, Corbett was personally requesting that I favorably mention Ms. Toundas and her restaurant. Malloy and Corbett were also frequent diners at the Marina with Corbett’s blue pickup truck frequently spotted parked alongside the disputed foot traffic area, making it almost impossible for pedestrians to maneuver around it on their way to the now wildly successful Pelican with wheelchair-bound Jennifer Niles actually being tossed to the ground while trying to cross Front St. Both restaurants sell seafood but the strongest fishy smell emanates from the Corbett campaign, the News-Leader and City Hall when it comes to this issue.
Fun At The Fair: Wife Linda and I attended the Northeast Florida Fair in Callahan this week and it was trip back in time as we both witnessed events we haven’t experienced since we were kids, including an old-time midway with flashing lights, spinning rides, carnies hawking games of chance, a fun house, terrible-for-you-but-great-tasting fair food, jugglers, magicians, etc. The fair runs through Sunday and if you go and don’t have kids of your own then take your grandchildren, nephews, nieces or grab a couple from your neighbors or Rent-A-Kid because they will enjoy every aspect of this all-American tableau and you’ll have more fun than they will just watching them squeal with delight. However, you may want to rush the kiddos past the game-of-chance where, if they win, they can select from a stuffed animal or a live rabbit. Also, do not miss the farm animal exhibits, particularly the ones where cows, bulls, rabbits, sheep, goats, chickens, etc. are displayed by 4-H Club members whose dedication and hard work are to be applauded. Oh, and hats off to the locals attending the fair as they were one of the nicest, more polite group of folks I’ve ever witnessed out enjoying themselves with family and friends.
No Fast Food For Fatsos: Locals are touting the opening of the Biggest Loser Resort located at the Villas of Amelia Island Plantation as a boost to our island’s tourism and as a sure fire method to generate positive publicity nationwide, but if I were a local restaurant or bar owner I wouldn’t get too excited, as from what I know about this outfit its objective is to keep this tourist tonnage away from the local watering holes and eateries, encouraging them to shun rich food and booze. The resort is part of a reality show on NBC designed to help those who check into “Hotel Blubber” to lose as much weight as possible, with the first corpulent guest checking in this past Sunday. I’m sure locals will benefit as folks watching this show will find the island attractive and want to visit as will the heavyweight’s friends and relatives. I’ve never watched the show and am puzzled on how watching fat people lose weight can be entertaining but then again I’ve never understood the popularity of shows like Dancing With the Stars, The View, Jerry Springer, The Kardashians, etc. But what do I know?
North Georgia Legend Retires: City Commissioner and Palace Saloon Bartender Johnny Miller took off last weekend to Dillard in the North Georgia Mountains to attend a retirement ceremony for one of his high school teachers that he says had a very positive influence on him — Mr. Dess Oliver, Rabun Gap-Nacoochee industrial arts teacher since 1971. In addition to relating what a fine gentleman, mentor and excellent craftsman he was, Johnny also provides examples of the instructor’s colorful language that livened up the shop classroom: “Johnny! Listen up! That there wood that you just cracked and wasted is the finest furniture wood in the world! That was North Georgia virgin white pine! Money can’t buy that! It don’t grow on trees!” and “Johnny! Listen up! I will Not repeat myself! I WILL NOT REPEAT MYSELF!” Mr. Oliver sounds like the kind of guy I’d enjoy sitting next to while sipping a beer.
Island Accolades: Marjie Lambert, a travel writer for the Miami Herald penned a lengthy, more-than flattering piece (“On Florida’s Amelia Island, a Mix of Tranquility and History,” 10-17-2014) last week that should have the tourist commission and chamber of commerce folks wetting their pants with excitement with the following excerpt just a small taste of Ms. Lambert’s enthusiastic description: “Toward the southern end are golf courses and luxury resorts. At its northern end is Fernandina Beach, a laid-back Old Florida town where people stroll the historic downtown after dinner, stopping at Fantastic Fudge on Centre Street for an ice cream cone. Most of the hotels and restaurants are independent of chains, and menus are dominated by old-fashioned Southern favorites — crab cakes, shrimp and oyster po’boys, pulled pork sandwiches, fried-fish baskets. Thirteen miles long and two miles wide, the island has a state park at either end — one with a 19th century fort and a half-mile fishing pier, the other with a mile-long fishing pier — and a continuous strip of beach along its Atlantic side. The maze of islands, marshes and rivers that separates Amelia Island from the mainland is part of what makes it distinctive as a vacation spot, providing the settings for fishing, kayaking, nature walks, bird-watching, sunbathing and sunset-watching. Much of life on the island is lived on the water — the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Cumberland Sound on the north, the Amelia River on the west, and Nassau Sound on the south.” That is just part of what should have Herald readers searching their gizmos for hotel reservations and island businesses lining up to buy Ms. Lambert a drink. Oh, and for all of you folks whining about horses on the beach, she spent several paragraphs raving about her horseback ride along the beach and encouraged others to try it when they come here. She didn’t mention how delighted she was to dine with Fido at any of the eatery’s patios.
Put The President On Hold I’m On An Important Call: You’d have thought that Steve Raszkin, who along with pretty blonde wife Donna runs Wines By Steve at 5174 First Coast Highway, just received a call from the White House, but for Steve it was even better, as the guru of US West Coast wineries, Michael Mondavi, was on the phone to personally thank Steve for all the Magnums of Oberon he’s been selling and after a few moments of conversation invited the couple out to visit! If you want to see what the fuss is all about stop by tonight for the shop’s weekly wine tasting event beginning at 5 p.m. Call ’em at 904/ 557-1506.
Environmentalist’s Hot Air: The Florida Sierra Club issued a press release last week urging its members to vote for gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist saying: “Through our local Fernandina Group we have never endorsed a candidate before because we strongly feel that we are a bi-partisan group and want to remain that way.” Really? Bi-partisan? The Sierra Club is as bi-partisan as the Occupy Wall Street Movement or the National Abortion Federation. Good grief!
Simply Said: In his book “Elements of Style” William Strunk, Jr. wrote: “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” With that in mind here’s the 10,535 pages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obama Care) condensed to four sentences:
- In order to insure the uninsured, we first have to uninsure the insured.
- Next, we require the newly uninsured to be re-insured.
- To re-insure the newly uninsured, they are required to pay extra charges to be re-insured.
- The extra charges are required so that the original insured, who became uninsured, and then became re-insured, can pay enough extra so that the original uninsured can be insured, which will be free of charge to them.