Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

City Hall Variety Show Includes Tongue Lashing, A Potential Firing, And The Ostracism Of A Cantankerous Commissioner

Fernandina Beach City Manager Dale Martin was put on notice that his job is on the line, City Attorney Tammi Bach was alerted that her dubious past actions may be catching up with her, and a habitually grumpy cantankerous Commissioner Chip Ross was consistently ignored at the Tuesday evening, February 7, City Commission meeting.

“No! No! No! We don’t need no stinkin’ townhouses, ships or anything else around here you naughty boys!”

The highly entertaining session opened with a “dog and phony show” that featured a Humane Society gal actually parading the “Dog of the Week” through the chambers followed by a stream of pretentious doddering grey-haired grannies whining and hand wringing about the construction of a few downtown townhouses and a nonexistent threat posed by Ocean Highway & Port Authority’s (OHPA) cruise and cargo ship traffic. One of them was the habitual finger-wagger and notorious area tree-hugger, Margaret Kirkland, who, as far as I know, doesn’t even live in the city limits, but delights in telling folks there what they can and can’t do with their property. Even Ross schooled the grannies saying that the city has no authority over what comes in and out of the port as it is under federal jurisdiction.

One of the session’s headliners and most popular performers of the evening was articulate and persistent local resident Glen Stettler, who launched an effective plea to have the Commission request that the state conduct an audit of the city’s books. The session concluded with a call to fire Martin. The only things missing were a Vatican juggling act and Swiss yodelers on unicycles.

It’s difficult to know where to start but informed local resident Stettler calling out City Attorney Tammi Bach for “knowingly conducting activities in violation of state law” and saying that her actions are “called operating a criminal enterprise” seems like a good place.

Astute citizen Stettler, a retired Naval officer and former White House communications staffer, penned recent News Leader opinion editorials and once before addressed the Commission on the topic. He publicly requested the Commission call on the state to take a peek at the city’s handling of  “illegal impact fees.” In his plea this past Tuesday he called out Ms. Bach declaring: “We have a city attorney that knowingly presents the Commission with false information.”

Stettler says that City Consigliere Bach’s defense that past law suits over the fees were generated by bad math on a cocktail napkin “has no connection to the reality of the law suits.”

Stettler’s appeal got the attention it deserves as the Commission agreed to request the state ensure that the City of Fernandina is properly administering the laws and the funds generated by local application of them.

Glen Stettler

During his brief and punchy pitch Stettler reminded the Commission that in civil class action cases some years ago the City was twice found to be acting unlawfully with respect to the state impact fee laws. “It is past time for a state review of current practice,” said Stettler. The Commission also agreed to conduct an impact fee study to refresh current fees with Stettler adding: “It makes sense to conduct that study only after the results of the state audit are known.”

Every comment the surly know-it-all Ross made on the subject and others was politely heard and promptly disregarded leaving him justifiably isolated.

At the end of the session Commissioner David Sturgess  made  a motion to fire City Manager Martin citing a list of reasons ranging from hiring and firing practices to the mishandling of Brett’s and favoritism. One of the most serious was the accusation that Martin instructed city department heads “to make it look ugly” in their response to proposed 10% department budget cuts.

“I’m making a motion to terminate Dale Martin’s contract without cause and give him a 30-day written notice immediately,” Sturges said following Martin’s city manager’s report to the commission.

Ross huffed and puffed in Martin’s defense and Martin asked for the opportunity to “prove to you” he can work with this commission, “which is a whole 180-degree different change than the previous commission,” he added. “This is a transition period, and I will support this city commission.”

The commission yoted, 3-2, to postpone the decision until the next commission meeting but most observers think the necessary three votes and possibly four, are there to bid the eight-year veteran goodbye. And if the state audit goes the way many think it will, Ms. Bach could quickly follow Martin out the door while Ross protests to deaf ears.

***

Club City Hall: The highly entertaining Commission sessions remain “no cover and no minimum” despite Ms. Bach’s reference to cocktail napkins in her defense of what many are calling illegal capacity/impact fees. Here’s a thought — at future Commission sessions require residents to write and submit their requests to speak on cocktail napkins and call it “Whine Hour”. Ross certainly fills the role as a gruff bouncer, and he could make periodic announcements saying:  “Now appearing on stage one Tammi Bach and her famous cocktail napkin routine.”

***

A Sinking Feeling: Last week I wrote that crotchety Commissioner Ross advocated in a News Leader opinion piece that the city figure out how to fund the city’s downtown marina that hosts Brett’s Restaurant or sell the whole shebang — restaurant, docks, pier, and all.

Commissioner Ross responded to my comments saying: ”Nowhere in the article do I advocate selling the Marina.”

He sure fooled me. Perhaps my comments were influenced by Ross’s Wednesday, February 1 Fernandina News Leader opinion editorial headline that said: “The marina: subsidize or sell?” or his last paragraph where he wrote: If certain conditions aren’t met the city should “make a serious effort to sell the marina.”  Ross didn’t come across as the pushy vacuum cleaner salesman with his foot blocking a closing door, but  the headline and the conclusion of his column using the word “sell” sure read to me like he was suggesting a sale.

In my comments I said that local News Leader print columnist Steve Nicklas and marina architect and businessman Robert Allison, who spearheaded an investment of $6 million into the pier and eventually gifted it to the city, penned News Leader opinion pieces recently providing detailed evidence that Ross has no idea what he’s talking about.

Allison, the marina’s original builder, who knows more than anybody hereabouts about it, wrote a scathing piece in the Wednesday, February 8, News Leader condemning both Ross and Martin for their clumsy handling of the city’s crown jewel, saying “…..the responsibility for the city’s loss of this waterfront public property will fall squarely into the laps of Dale Martin and Chip Ross.” His Viewpoint piece headlined “A fairway wide enough for ships to pass” is a must read for those wanting an in-depth understanding of what has happened, what is currently happening, and what should happen with the city marina. His article also appeared in the Citizens Journal Florida at https://www.citizensjournal.net/fernandina-city-marina-a-fairway-wide-enough-for-ships-to-pass/ 

Unprepared Brett’s diners may have a sinking feeling say some.

Former City Commissioner Mike Lednovich also took issue with my comments last week saying I was as all wet as he and Ross predict customers at Brett’s on-the-pier eatery will be soon since they say it’ll collapse into the water any second now prompting future diners there to consider wearing wetsuits as a precaution.

Failed Commission candidate and former mayor Lednovich was so irritated by my comments he responded twice, once saying Allison predicted imminent doom for the building and the second time telling me: “Let’s see if you correct your error.”

Allison responded to my comments declaring: “I am not saying the understructure was flawed from Day 1, I really don’t know. What I have said is that the engineers at Preston Haskel believed it needed substantial work done for the building to be safe. For all I know some of this may have actually occurred but, at the time, I moved on to other projects and paid no further attention to the matter.

Atlanta resident, Dave Lott, a former acting city manager who hasn’t lived here in almost 10 years, expressed his support for Ross despite confessing that he hadn’t even read Ross’s column. That’s OK, as this serial city sycophant would comment on a local restaurant’s menu offerings despite never having sampled the food.

Ross is up to something says a local who knows more than most about such things pointing out to me what he says are obvious clues.

He says Ross has put out terrible financials for the marina in suggesting “subsidize or sell”. Now he’s distancing from “sell”. What’s the point, asks my source. What’s he up to?

My guy says he expects it to unfold that Ross is attempting to generate a public outcry about the marina being so far in the hole in order to refloat the “expand the marina north” idea.

My source believes the current situation is as follows with only four options on the table, three of which he says won’t fly.

  • Doing nothing is not acceptable to the citizens and taxpayers because they want something done. And doing nothing perpetuates the money pit.
  • Selling the marina is not viable. Who would buy such an enterprise, with a sitting Commissioner publicly advertising its sucking financial chest wound?
  • Expanding north is not an option due to the reality of tides that are navigationally treacherous except at slack tides (high tide/low tide – about 45 minutes twice a day). And limited egress/digress because Front Street and train tracks are there. Plus, the city does not own the property. The Applied Technologies Management (ATM) company providing advice to the city is yet another consultant feeding at the public trough. They live by computer simulation and Computer-Aided-Design (CAD), but are unable to judge the nuances of individual situations like the Nassau River. Experienced boatmen respect and fear channel navigation in these waters says my source.
  • The Allison fill-in park proposal makes sense he says as it is thorough and complete There is no other viable plan on the table. He says he’s read the plan and it’s a starting point to do something bold.
“OK Chip what’s your plan to fix this mess and save my job?”

This is Ross’s swan-song issue as he terms out of office. Martin may also be riding out on the same horse but even sooner with his firing probably imminent.  With the new slate of city commissioners Ross has been neutralized, sent to the showers. He previously had Lednovich to rely on, but he’s gone,  his spotlight snuffed.

If Ross can get the city to take the Simmons Group property by eminent domain – at a price closer to market than the last feeble attempt – he feels the marina could expand north. By raising hue and cry about the increasing money pit the marina is, he can offer this expansion as the solution…..HIS solution. But wouldn’t that put a restaurant/bar closer to his house, a situation that caused him reams of negative and embarrassing publicity in his former hometown of Solomon Islands MD? Ross is now a voice in the wilderness and even if he wasn’t folks that know tell me that will not happen.

Ross is laying up all forms of objections to Allison’s proposals, yet Allison’s essays and my source effectively say that Ross is all wet.  Ross claims permitting would keep the fill-in the south end from happening yet Allison, the original developer, says that is not true. Ross also claims that the same space is wetland which it is not according to Allison.

The only two financially viable solutions are: 1- the fill-in solution and park as suggested by Allison or 2- attempt to sell this money loser as Ross publicly advocated and now denies. The smart money’s on Allison.

***

Help Wanted: Reading the Wall Street Journal last Friday, a headline stating: “Biden’s top Economic Adviser to Resign” caught my eye. Of course, he resigned, Biden has the attention span of a hummingbird and this fellow had nothing to do. The article didn’t mention any of his accomplishments because there haven’t been any. It did, however, offer a list of possible replacements including a seventh-grade trans math teacher from San Francisco, a list of people from India with unpronounceable names, and any black LGBTQIA+ person.

***

Up, Up & Away:  My former high school classmate and current American Spectator writer Larry Thornberry sent me an email commenting on last week’s downing of the Chinese balloon saying: “About time. Does the fighter pilot who shot down this voyeur from China get a little balloon painted on the side of his plane right under the cockpit?   He added: “My sources tell me that when the victorious fighter jock was asked if he enjoyed shooting down the spy balloon, he replied, “The trouble with shooting down a Chinese balloon is that two hours later you want to shoot another one down.”

Larry’s comments got me wondering: When Joe orders Chinese take-out there must be better options than a balloon and then the U.S. military misinterpreting the term “take-out” thus dooming the delivery guy. Also, does the “Big Guy” get 10% off on those meals?

***

Things I Wish I’d Said: “Capitalism has done more to lift people out of poverty than all the social programs put together. That money to help our neighbors who are less fortunate than we are did not come from leprechauns.” – Senator John Kennedy (R-LA).

***

Local In The News: George Miller, editor and publisher of the local online Citizens Journal Florida news outlet tells me he will appear on Fox & Friends this morning and his appearance will be broadcast several times during the day. He’ll discuss President Biden’s visit to Tampa with an emphasis on his economic policies.

 ***

Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Tomorrow, Saturday, February 11, beginning at 11 am is the 14th annual Chili Cook Off  that benefits the local Montessori School. The $15 per adult and $5 per child person tasting lasts until 1 pm and there will be live music, crafts and a kids zone. The event will take place even if it rains.  Make sure you stop by the “The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Chili” booth directly in front of PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden at 12 South 2nd Street and drop your coveted voting tokens in the bucket manned by myself and pal Pajamadave Voorhees. This year there are 23 entries. For more information go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1178985106051394  

  • Comment (50)
  • Dave, Bob Allison is full of manure as to filling the wetlands, and he knows it (or most certainly should). Don’t try to agree with things that you haven’t verified. A good journalist checks facts, unlike yourself. And as to the “treacherous waters north of the marina, that too is also horse manure. The entire river has the same currents, and I have navigated all of the Amelia River for over 40 years. Any prudent mariner can safely navigate the water north of the marina without peril. Again, try fact checking, although that is not your M.O.

  • PS: it’s not the Nassau River by the marina, it’s the Amelia River, Dave. Try looking at a chart first… You know, it’s what we mariners call a map of the water. The Nassau River is about six miles, give or take, south, nowhere near the marina. Again, facts are important regardless if you or other like-minded ilk disagree.

  • Ah the balloon… Once again the Hypocrite Party goes viral over the recent downing of the Chinese balloon, but then we hear crickets as to the the previous ones that floated over, and but not shot down apparently, when Trump was president. The retort is that Trump was unaware of those balloons, wow. I think the US military knows better how to deal with these things, as opposed to taking heads and politicians. The decision not to shoot it down over people and property was probably a good decision by the military advisors. Or does your source challenge that wisdom?

    • RE: “The decision not to shoot it down over people and property was probably a good decision by the military advisors. Or does your source challenge that wisdom?”

      Employing that logic, we couldn’t shoot down fighters or bombers or even ICBM’s.

      I don’t know whether Trump knew or not. Either he’s a liar or made very bad DoD appointments.

      • I think waiting to shoot down a non-weaponized, non-offensive weapon like a balloon is comparing apples and oranges to fighters, bombers or ICBM, but whatever the decision, it was based on the Military leaders assessment, and they have far more expertise than any of us armchair decision makers. I do concur with your last sentence.

      • These weather balloons have nearly no carbon emissions or infrared signature to pick up on. In fact, these massive balloons even often boast a very small radar cross-section — sometimes similar to a small bird, because radar waves aren’t reflected by the balloon’s fabric. In short, Chinese high altitude balloons weren’t on the radar, literally and figuratively, under the Trump administration. Due to improved intelligence gathering, the DoD is now aware of these balloons in real-time rather than after the fact.

        • Interesting and good points. Thanks for lifting the level of the dialogue (really, no pun intended). Those things are what we all should hear and learn about.

    • Do you think for 1 second that the media would have protected Trump from letting a Chinese “weather” balloon float over our country? LMAO Where were you hiding during his administration? Pretty sure that balloon floated over some large unpopulated areas on its Easterly course from Alaska to the Atlantic. Pretty sure the military could have snagged that balloon out of the sky if they wanted it bad enough. Wonder if the Russians waited until the U2 was over the Pacific before it was shot down? Oh yeah, they didn’t…

      • You should be a consultant for the US military, you know everything and they must need your sage advice. Good luck with that Fred Know-Nothing-At-All (since you didn’t have a last name)

        • Oh Coley, give your tiny brain a rest. You’re going to have a coronary and I would hate to be the cause of your ill health. If I told you what I did in the military, I’d have to kill you and we don’t want that do we? LOL Your TDS is so overwhelming for you and of course I know what Brandon is in reference too. Do you think I misspelled Biden’s name by accident? I love when people (like you and Mediocre Marjory) think they know everything the military and for that matter, civilian agencies (think NASA) can or can’t do.

          • Oh Coley, there is a BIG difference in not serving and not supporting. I don’t expect every President to have served in the military, but I DO expect that the Commander In Chief support them. So yeah, I did bash Clinton and Obama for their non support of the military and the downsizingof it. Cow-towing to nations that despise us . Even your now good guy GWB only served as a reservist and saw no real action as a serviceman.
            As far as an opinion goes, yep, everyone has one that comes out of their mouth, just like they have another part of their anatomy. Doesn’t mean I have to agree with what comes out of either one of those orifices… Personally, I don’t care what your political leanings are, I just wish people would use common sense when assessing a situation instead of their emotions. Unfortunately, liberals and democrats as a whole typically think with their feelings instead of their brain.

          • So Fred, You never seem to address the other point about Donald Trump never serving. I am sure you were a Clinton and Obama basher because they didn’t serve, but we get crickets about Trump. Hypocrisy reigns supreme. The real point is, just because someone hadn’t served, doesn’t disqualify him or her to having an opinion. The most ridiculous thing about your weak argument, in this case, is that I am being supportive of the military and their decision-making. I trust the reasons they didn’t want to shoot down the Big Chinese balloon over land. You make no sense trying to bash me, Biden or whoever about the decision, when it was the recommendation of the military. You speak from both sides of your mouth and illogically so. You just want to shout down anyone who you construe as the “enemy”, vis-a-vis a liberal or a democrat. I read a great book about President George H.W. Bush, written by his Chief of Staff after his presidency, and it was great! I didn’t vote for him, but I absolutely admire him, and am proud he was our president, along with GWB. You need to read it, its called “The Man I knew” by Jean Becker. Maybe you will learn more about people like me who were opposite politically, but united as people, and how 41 worked with people of opposing viewpoints, and actually liked them! Give it a try Fred.

        • Well, I have served my country in the military and I’m pretty sure I’m better versed in what they are capable of than you are, but keep living the dream Coley. Wonder why Brandon order this next balloon shot down over Alaska this time around? I love getting under your skin and living rent free in that empty space between your ears. President Trump and I appreciate it immensely… ?

          • I’m pretty sure you know, or should know, that “Brandon”, as in part of Let’s Go Brandon” is stupid code for “F*** Joe Biden” What e genius. Anyway, as to your serving in the military, what service? What did you do? When did you serve? and were you at NORAD? Did you work with the Joint Chiefs? Since you are better versed than I, because assumedly, I did not serve and you did, what about your hero Trump? What branch did he serve in? Are you better versed than him, because of your service and his not serving? Lastly, how can anyone verify your military service, since we never get your last name in any of these “conversations? You’re laughable Fred. Bringing a knife to a shoot out, as usual.

  • The most cost-effective option for the Marina is to downsize it.
    Eliminates the need for special insurance and dredging.
    Continue to sell gas and charge hourly docking during daylight hours only.
    City employees take over limited operations to further reduce costs.
    Keep it simple is the rule here…..everybody wins.

    • Under any configuration, some dredging on the north side will be still be required due to location of the overall marina site. Much less than the southern side, but not totally eliminated.

    • I understand your points, but I don’t think it takes into consideration people who are local, especially the charter vessels. Where would they go?

      • Permanent berthage elsewhere……day tie-up for charters. no problem.
        A waterfront facility–wharf, dock, marina–is part of the city heritage.
        Unfortunately, the present set-up is not sustainable and moving north infeasable.
        Downsizing preserves an important heritage and is economically sound.

  • The recent Air Balloon Fiasco is a prime example of the suspicious relationship between the Bidens
    and China.The fact that his order to shoot it down was not carried out until it traversed our country
    and completed its mission.Am certain that mission was completed and all data relayed back to China.
    Relating to Langshaws weak referral to the Trump administrations being unaware of any balloons over
    the USA probably China didn’t dare do it openly as they did this week. China knew Trump would not have
    waited a full week (like Biden) to blow it up. Also no one including the Pentagon and State was aware
    of any such activity during the Trump years.

    • Spin it any way you want, but don’t let the facts get in the way. Your statement implies that the US military didn’t know about the other balloons, yet they are the ones who reported it. I have far greater faith and trust in them than people like you making statements without proof or facts.

  • And… he’s back… LOL Poor ol’ Coley must have been on vacation last week. Are you and Ross/Martin buddies? Just researching your motivation…

    • Jeez, typical, weak and nonsensical comment from Fred No-Last-Name. No actual comment regarding the facts I laid out. Oh well. Pitiful.

  • Thanks for keeping us informed about the “Left Coast Mafia” running our fine conservative city. People need to pay more attention to well informed (maybe a little biased) people such as yourself. A big Thank You!!

  • This would be a lot more fun and easier to manage if we just amalgamated the City and County governments. A county of less than 100K requiring two governments is wasteful (bureaucratically heavy) and allows those that wish to divide and conquer the ability to do so.

    • Dean, one only need to look a little bit north to St. Simons/Sea Island to see the pitfalls of your suggestion. SSI/SI has never been incorporated so they have always been at the mercy of Glynn County for their infrastrucutre and emergency services support. Like FB the unincorporated areas of Amelia Island have been the cash cows for Nassau County, so was SSI/SI for Glynn County. Tax revenue was largely being spent off-island resulting in major issues. At one time there was a complete building moratorium on SSI because the water/sewer system was at capacity because money had not been spent to keep up. Only within the last years has the political and economic clout of SSI/SI been felt to pressure the county commissioners to direct more funds back to the island.

      • Hi David, like all difficult problems it really comes down to will, great leadership, and proper planning. We could take some of the consultant money spent on trying to determine what to do with the Marina and develop a long-term strategy to create value. We can find examples of poorly done and well done everywhere. Like any merger activity if not planned well, and without the right people to lead, the advantages can be lost. As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

        • Dean Abrassart has it right. A major consolidation of assets and services is needed.
          In past days, FB was supposed to grow (like Jax) and be the dominant economic center of the county.
          That dream has not been fulfilled–indeed, many want to essentislly shrink the city to preserve that “small town” feeling–exactly counter to the founders hope.
          So disgorge the airport, golf course, marina (close), merge public safety and parks, deed the dune walkovers to the county, reduce staff, and deliver the “small town” governance so many, many vocal activists demand–just do it.

  • Dave, thanks for the shout-out after not having fired any shots my way for quite some time. My “defense” of Chip Ross was simply to state that he was the only commissioner in quite some time to do extensive research on all subjects. I challenge you to dispute that fact. I have disagreed with Chip on a number of key issues (budget growth, eminent domain actions, etc.), but he always has been responsive and respectful in our back and forth. As to not having read his article, I thought I would get a high five from you on that since I didn’t renew my subscription last October to the News-Leader and I had not seen that Mike Phillips printed Chip’s piece in your other favorite publication the Fernandina Observer.
    I’m sure I will get some more shots my way over my criticism of Bob Allison’s marina plan. Bob and I have had some exchanges and Bob has been very respectful. His plan will require $20-$30 million dollars in upfront funding to reclaim the multiple acres of submerged lands in order to add 65,000+ sq. feet of new commercial building space on the existing and reclaimed land. The community has repeatedly said that it doesn’t want new commercial space in the city’s land along the waterfront, which is one of the reasons that I have been in opposition to the expansion of Atlantic Seafoods’ footprint.
    As to your criticism of the ATM marina reconfiguration plan, they are experts in this field and their modeling isn’t based on guesses but on scientific hydrological studies specifically on that section of the Amelia River. I would challenge your “expert” that debunks their work to provide their qualifications and facts to refute the ATM plan. Treacherous waters – where did that malarkey come from? Even if there were such a thing, the attenuator would provide calm waters once inside to get to the dock slips.
    I think I will have a Tshirt printed up with “City’s Serial Sycophant” to wear on my frequent vacation visits. LOL
    Best wishes!

  • THE BALLOON: Whenever you can capture an advisary’s surveillance equipment–do it–period.
    Popping the balloon is not the only way to seize that spy device….other methods coud have been used.
    The optics are bad….this was a poorly executed capture.
    Let’s do better.

    • Care to enlighten us on how one goes about corralling a balloon housing hardware the size of 3 school buses without shooting it down?

        • @Fred,

          I’ve never seen retrieval aircraft operate at an altitude of 60,000 – 65,000 ft – except of course in the cartoons. There are few aircraft that can attain heights > 60,000 ft. The F22 and SR-71 come to mind; neither of which has ever been used for mid-air retrieval to the best of my knowledge.

          • @Marjory A simple search on Google would let you know that there are several aircraft, both military and civilian that can operate at that altitude. There are plenty of options to get that balloon to a lower level as well. I don’t care what work you’ve done at Lockheed to be honest, as they are not the only producers of aircraft and certainly not the only ones that have built aircraft capable of reaching those altitudes. The point is moot anyway. Your bud Brandon and his weak knee administration/cabinet wouldn’t do it because it was Chinese and we all know there is a connection there.

          • @Edgar

            It’s been reported that the Chinese balloon was maneuverable by way of small motors and propellors. Assuming that US intelligence could hack the controls within a reasonable time frame and seize control to lower the balloon to an altitude conducive to a mid-air recovery, that altitude would undoubtedly now be shared by private and commercial aircraft. Given that steerage of the balloon is largely a function of airstreams and currents, there is little precision with which the balloon can be directed. This exercise would then require shutting down all air traffic within a fairly large swath for however long the recovery attempt took place. I won’t even go into the scrutiny that would ensue for choosing this option, especially when considering the low to non-existent threat to national security this balloon posed. Shooting down this balloon was meant primarily to send a message to China.

          • @Fred,
            The F22 and SR-71 are both Lockheed-built aircraft. I’ve been employed by Lockheed as an engineer for 37 years and counting. Trust me (or don’t) when I say, I am aware of their capabilities.

          • Exactly… you haven’t seen it. So I would recommend you not TRY to be an authority on the subject (or any subject for that matter) if you have no practical or observed knowledge of the capabilities.

          • Of course the object could only be “snagged” at lower altitude…I await a convincing elplanation for the approach taken.

  • Coleman, I was unpleasantly surprised to see you willing, as Chip Ross is, to represent yourself as an expert on permitting. I acquired over a dozen permits from State and Federal regulatory agencies to build Fernandina Harbor Marina. In my land development work all over Nassau County I have acquired at least twenty or more similar permits. Maybe you can share on this blog the description of a single permit you personally have organized and obtained from any regulatory agency. You might also want to research the meaning of the word “mitigation” in permitting. It is a process used to permit the filling of wetland properties and it is used every single day all over the State of Florida to improve properties for development. Lastly here, you might want to do a quick inspection of the lands on the City owned waterfront at low tide. You will notice over 90% of the area I am proposing to be filled for the creation of new land for a waterfront park is without any vegetation which is a necessary requirement to qualify the property, under the law, to actually be a wetland.

    • Bob, to start, I did a permit myself for our docks at Greyfield, that included both the Ga. DNR and the USACE. I also worked very closely with ATM and Passero over the years with marina permitting. I even travelled to Tallahassee on several occasions to meet with DEP and was the City Rep at the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund meeting. I met with DEP and the USACE on numerous occasions in their Jacksonville offices. I do know a lot about the process Bob, and as far as mitigating, when we attempted to build a bulkhead to backfill as you suggested, both the DEP and USACE would only consider it if we were to make a new marsh (as mitigation). It could not and would not be for any usable upland purpose. Even with City-owned submerged lands, anything west of the combined bulkhead/pier-line was not allowable for filling. Your assertion that if there is no vegetation it is not considered a wetland is preposterous, otherwise, why didn’t you or the City subsequently just fill in the mudflat with a bulk-headed spoil area and turn it into upland? Either you have forgotten a lot, or just choose to make up new regulatory rules. Maybe you are operating under the ‘ask for forgiveness vs permission’ approach to this, but I think your idea is not permittable in any way or fashion. Otherwise, it would have been done ages ago, most likely by you, when you saw the initial siltation “hitting the fan”. Furthermore, your original permitted design became Fernandina’ biggest mud and siltation trap, so your recommendations for a dock layout leaves a great deal to be concerned about. I/we had to lived with that fiasco for well over 30 years!

      • Coleman is right–Mr. Allison has had his chance and left the City to deal with the result.
        Creating new land in a flood zone is nonsense.
        Let’s make the Marina work and not be a continuing taxpayer burden….please.

  • Kudos to Mr. Stettler for getting the city to finally request a state audit of Shakedown City’s administration of state impact and building fee laws. Ms. Bach was the City Consigliere during the impact fee class action suits. She spent three years on two trials and about $1M in private law firm fees to defend what she now says was a consultant’s study done on a “napkin”. We have her explanation on video. That consultant would be Gerald C. Hartman an engineer and appraiser who the City employed for years in negotiating the purchase of the water system and designing the impact fee regime to pay off the debt they incurred. Joe Gerrity, the former mayor and city manager back then, seemed to think highly of the firm. His deposition in the law suits the city lost is still on youtube. Just enter “joe gerrity deposition”. No mention of napkins.

  • No matter what way Coley and Mediocre Marjory try to spin it, it was just stupid to let a known Chinese observation balloon traverse the ENTIRE country before they shot it down. The proof in that is the now second balloon being downed as it approached Alaska. I find it comical that you two find it perfectly acceptable for Brandon to take the advice from his military advisors and let it go, but IF (and that’s a really big IF), President Trump did the same, you think he is stupid… Typical liberal hypocrite BS and logic. Of course ANYONE that dares question the approach taken by our Buffoon In Chief is an idiot and only worthy of your disdain. You 2 must be real popular at gatherings…

  • Balloon Redux–
    Highly detailed images of the in-flight payload were certainly taken–if license plates can be read from space, detailed imagery of this object was collected from ground and fly-bys and satellite systems.
    Likewise comint was also collected and analysed.
    The decision to allow an unimpeded fly-over remains unexplained, especially when the NCA surely expected major blow-back.

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