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

A Sneaky Snake Fix For America’s Busted Southern Border; What Good Has Commissioner Ross Ever Done For The City?

Now he doesn’t have any arms or legs
You cannot see his ears
And while we are not looking
He’s stealing all of our beer

— Lyrics from Tom T. Hall’s Sneaky Snake

Snacking on an alligator in the Everglades.

Texas is awash with tens of thousands of illegal immigrants pouring into that state each week while at the same time Florida is being flooded with ravenous giant pythons slithering through the Everglades snacking on tourists and their pets.

Texas is pleading with the federal government to enforce the country’s immigration laws and stop the flow of illegal aliens invading this country across the southern border to no avail. At the same time Florida is futilely battling the invasive breed of Burmese python snakes that are taking over the Everglades devouring everything in sight.

The illegals crossing the Rio Grande into Texas are destroying the local habitat as well as damaging private property, terrorizing citizens, smuggling drugs, and overburdening social services ranging from hospitals and schools to shelters and charitable organizations. In Florida the hungry pythons are gobbling up everything from deer and local pets to tourists and Buicks.

A pathetic and laughable Joe Biden says the southern border is secure because his useless Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary, the addled Alejandro Mayorkas, and clueless border czar, VP Kamala Harris, tell him it is.

Python hunting in Florida

In Florida the snakes are multiplying so fast that the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission invite the public to come down there and kill them awarding cash prizes for the longest, fattest, etc. Meanwhile Texans are shipping the illegals to blue states so Democrats in those places can also share in the over-abundance of diversity.

Here’s a simple solution that may help both states solve their respective problems.

Simply ship the pythons to Texas and release them into the Rio Grande River. Once the illegals observe one of these mammoth reptiles swallowing a gun-toting drug cartel coyote or one of their pals in a single gulp it would serve as a deterrent, persuading those watching to quickly change course and skedaddle back home.

Earlier this week Texas Governor Greg Abbott said his objective is to make Texas the least attractive place for illegals to come to. The Rio Grande full of huge slithering pythons would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.

Snake problem solved and illegal alien problem solved. You’re welcome.

An abridged version of my above column was posted in the national Biz Pac Review February 1, 2023 (https://www.bizpacreview.com/2023/02/01/a-snaky-way-to-solve-a-busted-border-crisis-1329264/?utm_campaign=bizpac&utm_content=Newsletter&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_source=Get%20Resp )

***

How To Destroy A Brand: Harley Davidson, CEO Jochen Zeitz, announced that the brand will be going all-electric “at some point in time,” resulting in a dead-quiet Hog. Every Harley owner I’ve ever met (I know a lot of them as I’m a member of the American Legion and VFW) said that it won’t be the same, since one of the thrills of riding a Harley is the roar of its engine. Imagine the classic 1953 Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin film “The Wild One” riding their silent “hogs” through town. Yeah, me either!

  ***

Somethings Never Change:  In a November 3, 2017 column headlined “First Do No Harm” (http://www.davescottblog.com/first-do-no-harm-do-not-vote-for-chip-ross-heres-why/) I warned voters hereabouts NOT to vote Dr. Ronald “Chip” Ross onto the Fernandina Beach City Commission. My plea was  ignored and for the past six years we’ve lived with the chaotic consequences.

Infected with interminable gadflyism, Ross generates enormous damage, expense, and misery for local citizens and businesses. He even admitted that he was booted off Fernandina’s Planning Advisory Board (PAB) because of his disruptive behavior. The PAB  is authorized by the City Commission as the Local Planning Agency (LPA) and makes recommendations to the City Commission on the adoption of Comprehensive Plan amendments and Future Land Use map as well as amendments and requests for rezoning.

In that 2017 column I related how Ross personally attempted to destroy a restaurant and bar business in his former Solomon Islands, Maryland neighborhood where he created financial and personal havoc before bringing his destructive act to Amelia Island to torment local businesses and residents.

He is currently advocating that the city shutter the iconic and popular downtown Brett’s Restaurant because he says the pier on which it sits is unsafe. Nonsense says local News Leader print columnist Steve Nicklas and marina architect and businessman Robert Allison who spearheaded the investment of $6 million into the pier and eventually gifted it to the city.  Both have penned print News Leader opinion pieces recently providing detailed evidence of why Ross has no idea what he’s talking about. They politely and accurately point out that he’s a pompous blowhard, gasbag pulling the same publicity-generating anti-business stunts here that he did in his former Maryland place of residence.

This past Wednesday Ross wrote a lengthy News Leader piece advocating the sale of the marina, saying it’s projected to be a money loser far into the future. Publicly declaring the pier is unsafe and the marina will continue to be a money-loser won’t earn Ross any salesmanship awards.

But if he wants to sell the money-losing marina, then how about selling the money-losing golf course too? Why does the city own either one?  It has proven over the years that it can’t manage them or anything else competently. And is Ross the official city spokesperson? Ross and City Manager Dale Martin are the only two who produce frequent content to local news outlets. Mr. Martin? Mayor Bradley Bean? Who officially speaks for the city? Do you two agree with Ross? Disagree? What’s going on down there?

But back to the destructive antics of Commissioner Ross.  Charles Donnelly, an attorney for the Solomon’s Island Tiki Bar was quoted in an April 19, 2012 Southern Maryland Weekly Galvert Gazette article headlined “Local wins give Tiki Bar much to celebrate” saying his client (Tiki Bar) “spent between $300,000 and $500,000 on attorneys, architects and legal fees over the years defending itself from Ross.”

Other area media there reported about Ross’s activities in his former residence including one in the Washington Post by J. Freedom du Lac, the Post’s then general assignment news editor, headlined “At the famed Tiki Bar in Southern Maryland, it’s the doctor vs. the drinkers.” Sean Rice of The BayNet.com authored another one about Ross on September 22, 2006 headlined “Prominent Tiki Bar Foe Charged with Intoxicated Endangerment.”

According to these Maryland and Washington D.C. news reports Ross tried to strip a local bar in his former residence of its liquor license and had legal charges brought against him. The entire, very bizarre report of Ross’s activities can be found by going to: http://www.thebaynet.com/articles/0906/prominent-tiki-bar-foe-charged-with-intoxicated-endangerment.htmlThe Washington Post article can be read in the May 28, 2011 Washington Post (At the famed Tiki Bar in Southern Maryland, it’s the … – Washington Post ).

Armed with reams of reports, studies, consultant reviews, statistics, etc. that he twists to suit his own perverted purposes, Ross quickly made a name for himself hereabouts as an arrogant, mean-spirited know-it-all.  He initially attacked the Ocean Highway & Port Authority (OHPA), Rayonier and West Rock, three of the area’s largest employers of locals and solid corporate citizens.

Chip Ross and Joe Bftsplk have a lot in common.

One of the most egregious local examples in Ross’s local legacy took place just a few years ago when one of his nonsensical suits drove John and Teresa Sauer, and their special needs son, John Jr., out of their Fernandina home during the Thanksgiving holidays forcing them to take shelter in a local hotel, costing them thousands of dollars.

The Sauer family bought a house not far from Ross on Broome Street in Fernandina Beach’s historical district in February 2015 and spent between $80-90,000 renovating it, only to have the financial roof cave in on them thanks to Ross. Until the suit Ross filed was settled the Sauer’s were denied a certificate of occupancy.

The suit also cost city tax payers $5,000, the amount of the city’s insurance deductible.  Ross didn’t care and said so in a letter to the editor in the News-Leader. Ross says he filed the actions to contest whether amendments to the City’s Comprehensive Plan in June 2017 were in compliance with Florida Statute. The Sauer family was collateral damage in the way of Ross attempting to make a point but that apparently didn’t bother the callous commissioner.

The court didn’t agree. Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk found that Ross’s challenges were based upon “inaccurate contentions”, that he “presented no relevant acceptable data or analysis which contradicted” that action and that he “did not prove” that the City’s action was in violation of Florida Law.”

There is not a single thing I’m aware of that this miserable curmudgeon has accomplished that benefits the city or any of its residents other than uniting the populace against his heartless disruptive antics.

So far my local scorecard reads that city residents, business enterprises, public opinion, Allison and Nicklas are skunking Ross. Can anyone hereabouts provide a concise, reasonable defense of this nasty man?

***

Speaking of Awful Politicians: New York Governor Kathy Hochul just became Florida’s top realtor. According to recent news reports, a record number of New Yorkers ditched the Empire State in 2022 for Florida’s sunny shores. The newly-minted Floridians say they were driven out of New York by the state’s high cost of living, out-of-control crime rates, and Democrat-controlled government.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Florida as the fastest-growing state in the union, adding over 400,000 to its population. Reporting by the New York Post suggests that 64,577 of them came from the Empire State. The paper attributes its information to license change data reported by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. By contrast, New York ranked as the fastest-declining state in the union, losing more than 180,000.

When observing  what Democratic mayors and governors are allowing to take place in other cities and states they oversee, imagine what a Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, J.B. Pritzker, or Lori Lightfoot, would be to America if one of them became the president of the United States.

In what way is the administration of Joe Biden, who talks about America’s evil past and racist present, any different from theirs.

***

Is It Just Me Or…do others also notice that each time House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) or House Majority leader Steve Scalise  (R-LA) speak from the House floor our own 4th District Congressman Aaron Bean (R-FL) is seated directly behind them to their right looking directly into the camera. I have no idea if that is an assigned seat or if Congressman Bean figured out early on how to snag that prime time piece of real estate. Either way, good for him as he’s getting a great deal of national exposure.

***

You Might Not Believe This But…as bad as things often seem these days, if you look hard enough you’ll find something to laugh about. How can you not when Liberals are so much on display?

For example, the Monday, January 30 issue of The Wall Street Journal, contained a not intended laugh-a-minute article headlined “Flight Attendant Dress Codes Ditch Gender” that your happy hour pals would claim you made up if you couldn’t cite an authoritative source.

Not intending to be humorous, the dead-serious reporter described how JetBlue offers its employees the choice to wear any uniform of their choice regardless of gender.

OK, you can see what’s coming next right? No, the pilot didn’t show up in a tutu, but a male steward chose a dress and heels. The article goes on to describe how some passengers reacted, with one woman complimenting him and a guy asking how he manages to walk in heels for so long?

Does anyone besides me remember the good ‘ole days when the Southwest Airlines tagline was “Somebody up there loves you!” and its stewardesses wore hot pants or when Playboy Magazine featured special pictorial sections titled “Girls of the Skies”?

***

Wait! What The…?  The massive bronze piece in Boston designed to pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, titled “The Embrace”, features two sets of arms holding each other, an artistic interpretation of a classic photo of Coretta and her husband hugging after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

It wasn’t well received. Even some relatives of Coretta Scott King hate the $10 million sculpture dedicated to her and her iconic husband, Martin Luther King in Boston a couple of Sundays ago  — with a cousin claiming it “looks like a penis.”

“The mainstream media … was reporting on it like it was all beautiful, ’cause they were told they had to say that,” Seneca Scott, Coretta’s cousin, told The New York Post, referring to the new Boston Common statue. “If you had showed that statute to anyone in the ’hood, they’d have been like, ‘No, absolutely not,’” he added.

Seneca told The Post that while he couldn’t speak for other members of the family, he felt the 25-foot-wide, 65,000-pound sculpture was a “waste of money” that should be “melted down.”

***

Take That California: Very wise Wyoming Legislature members are considering a resolution to phase out sales of new electric vehicles in the Cowboy State by 2035.

The resolution’s sponsors say Senate Joint Resolution 4 is a response to laws other states are implementing to eliminate gas-powered vehicles.

The resolution’s sponsor, Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, told Cowboy State Daily the intention of the proposal, titled “Phasing Out New Electric Vehicle Sales By 2035,” is to push back against bans on new sales of cars with internal combustion engines in states like California and New York.

“The Legislature would be saying, ‘If you don’t like our petroleum cars, well, we don’t like your electric cars,’” Anderson said.

Unlike California’s ban on gas-powered cars, the resolution’s co-sponsor, Sen. Brian Boner, R-Douglas, said the Wyoming resolution would be meaningful in making a statement if passed, but it would be entirely symbolic.

***

Just Saying: Currently the only secure documents in Washington DC appear to be Jeffrey Epstein’s client list and Barack Obama’s college transcripts.

  • Comment (22)
  • No where in the article do I advocate selling the Marina. The only mention made of selling the Marina is in the last paragraph quoted below.
    “For the foreseeable future, the Marina expenses, which include dredging, hurricane insurance, debt payments, and capital costs will exceed revenues. The additional, exact amount is unclear, but is probably exceeds $500,000 per year and will likely increase with the escalating cost of hurricane insurance, dredging and inflation.
    It would appear it is highly unlikely that the Marina in the foreseeable future will be in the black. With that in mind, should the City Commission continue to fund the increasing financial burden of the Marina with general fund dollars similar to other recreational amenities, or make a serious effort to sell the Marina?”
    chip ross

    • As Chip noted, the only hope that the marina could even attempt to operate in the black would be to close off the southern docks and relocate them to the northern side as called for in the original Applied Technologies Management (ATM) plan. Now I understand that plan has a number of major challenges, but unless the City Commission and City Manager adopt the position of seeking to re-evaluate the feasibility of implementing that plan, the city will continue to apply Band-Aids to a gaping wound. The ATM plan is not a silver bullet in that some level of dredging will still need to be done simply due to the physical location of the marina site, but it would be a major improvement.
      Unlike the golf course which suffers from a lack of needed investment of capital funds to maintain the course in good playing condition, no amount of money thrown at the marina in its current configuration is going to work in the long term.

      • Mr Lott, you are spot on in your assessment of the way our city handles, or should I say lacks in the handling of our city properties. The marina has been a mess forever and the new docks never should have been put back on the south end, that was an astronomical waste of taxpayer funds! Why do we have a City Engineer if we refuse to listen to him? We seem to follow the same destructive path over and over and over again and ignore what the experts say. When will the time come that those in charge stand up and get things straightened out in our city? Our tax dollars are are wasted daily and this needs to stop but these same words have been said by citizens for years, over many CMs and Commissions and not a thing changes. It’s a very sad and disturbing situation we are in.

      • ATM has been consistent in its conclusions and recommendations to the City regarding the marina: be prepared to incur the expense of periodic dredging or consider relocation because the marina is built on a mud flat. This is certainly the case since I relocated to Amelia Island in late 2011. We can all agree the expense for either has incrementally increased during the past 11 years. The marina’s “problem” has become the proverbial can that gets kicked down the road.

    • The magnitude of the question to sell or keep the Marina given the unquantifiable future expense (e.g., flood insurance and dredging) in tandem with its past operating history which has required financial subsidies from City’s General Fund should be a decision made by the electorate via a ballot measure and not any part-time city commission. Informal polling is unreliable and can result in distorted conclusions. Elected officials tend to listen to the loudest voices. The combination (distorted conclusions and loud voices) is a major factor in the bad city government decisions that occur too frequently in our midst (Top Tracer/Simmons Park).
      Undoubtedly, to attract a buyer, any proposed sale price of the Marina would have to be deeply discounted given its “issues” with (hopefully) proceeds adequate to retire its debt obligation on the City’s financial statements.

  • All that snake meat could feed a lot of people.

    Many city employees and elected people forget they are public servants. I hope things change quickly.

  • As a reluctant former Islander
    I wonder how the large influx
    of “New Yorkers” to the state
    will impact many aspects of life
    in Florida.
    Maybe Gov.Desantis should place a temporary Tax on them
    until they become legitimate
    “ Florida Crackers “.
    That would entail leaving their
    voting habits in their former
    state prior to leaving it.Also, shed the Bronx way of speaking
    and be nice to their néw neighbors.Unless these changes
    are made the state will be nothing more than a warmer place with a NY Attitude.

  • When the voters elect people like Chip Ross to office I quickly lose any sympathy for the plight people like him create. I am very thankful the Queen of Queer was not elected.

  • Dave, I need to make a small correction here. I have never voiced an opinion that the foundation under Brett’s restaurant is safe. I just don’t know. What I do know is that building’s contractor Preston Haskel, had its own engineers inspect the foundation prior to the building’s construction. It was their opinion then that the foundation was unsafe. Haskel then submitted a change order request for $50,000 to repair and improve the foundation prior to the building being built. My Jacksonville investor group refused to provide the funds for this change order. This is when I exited the project. I had already built the marina and I was not going to have my name attached to any public building that was believed to be unsafe by competent structural engineers prior to its construction. This foundation may last another seventy years or it may collapse into the river tomorrow. It is just anyone’s guess on this.

    • So Bob are you saying that there is the possibility based on an engineer’s report that the understructure for the restaurant was flawed from Day 1? All the engineering reports clearly show that over the years the salt water absorbed by the concrete has attacked the rebar and compromised a number of support elements. So if there was a question about the structure supports from the start, it could only have gotten worse.
      Thanks for the clarification.

  • Dave! While I agree that Ross is like a bull in a china shop, I can point to one thing he is assisting the neighborhood up on the North side of downtown with….the Port of Fernandina.

    He has kept a firm hand on developments there, and has not carried the water for the Port Authority as practically every other politician has over the decades.

    The port has a reputation of running roughshod over the neighborhood there with traffic and airborne pollutants since it’s creation back in the 70’s (?)

    The neighborhood was pretty much abandoned by the City politicians to the desires of the port, until recent years, and Ross has had a big part in defending the citizens.

    This port is just in a poor location, as the Historic District surrounds it. Locals are pouring their money and love into their homes there, and with the advent of a new manager now, there is hope that the port will play a more neighborly part in future traffic and construction plans.

    The residents there have begged for help with these problems, but few took on the Port with the detailed veracity that Ross has brought to the table.

    -Are his actions and views always correct to all voters? Hardly.
    -Is he irritating to those he encounters? Quite often.
    -Does he do far more homework that most on the City Commission? Without a doubt.

    Yes, Ross is much of what you claim him to be, but for those citizens near the port, he has become a champion of theirs. Don’t dismiss his so quickly, he’s doing for the little guy what so many others would not…… and they won’t forget it.

  • Dave, I like your idea with the snakes, I can just picture the moat full of alligators surrounding the castle protecting the fair maidens, or in this case the snakes in the river protecting the USA. Interesting!
    I know you won’t say anything against a Republican, but how can you avoid George Santos? He is such great fodder for someone like you!

  • OK Dave, I will take up your challenge and come to Chip’s defense (to some degree). I don’t always agree with Chip on his position or actions, but you can’t find a present or past commissioner that does more diligence and study of an issue than Chip. Chip is always willing to interact with anyone in a respectful manner whether they agree or disagree. The last time I checked, I didn’t see where Steve Nicklas had a structural engineering certification and I don’t think Bob Allison does either. The facts are the City hired a couple of third party engineering firms that provided a professional opinion that due to deterioration of a number of the support columns/beams under Brett’s as well as under the common areas, the structure was unsafe and should not be occupied. Centre Street Restaurant Group/Brett’s hired their own engineer who acknowledged the deterioration but rendered the opinion that it was not to the degree that rendered the structure unsafe. Kind of like a court case where each side hires their own “expert witness” that come up with different conclusions. Have you, Bob or Steve taken the time to read the various engineering reports?
    So I believe that Chip felt that he had a responsibility to support the City’s engineer in declaring the building unsafe to avoid placing liability on the City should there be a failure of the structure. Where I believe the City has been hypocritical is that of the 5 compromised structure elements cited by all the engineers, 3 of the structures are outside the Brett’s footprint supporting the common area sidewalks and are the City’s responsibility. While the loads of a building structure are substantially more than a sidewalk/porch, if the structure is unsafe for these common areas, why isn’t it closed off. I haven’t read Chip’s recent article but I suspect that might be his argument as well.
    I know that since the election is over, Chip returns as your favorite target. But he and all the Commissioners knew when they were elected they would be subject to criticism. So be it.

  • An old friend who is currently a House of Representatives staffer tells me that the seats in the house are assigned. So fate has smiled on Bradley Bean.

  • The bronze atrocity meant to honor MLK instead insults them and the rest of us as well. Dr. King was a great man and his family has always, as far as I know, conducted their lives in accord with his teachings and actions. I think the ugly mistake placed in the park should be removed and any future “statues” or “artistic renditions” of whatever, should be presented to the public for a reasonable time and approved by the public before presentation for permanency or installation.
    We Caucasians love and appreciate the works and legacy of Dr. King as well.

  • Major error in your column, you state Bob Allison says nonsense to Brett’s being unsafe. If you read his report (which I doubt you did) you would have have seen the opposite opinion.

    Quoting directly from Allison’s report he states: “Sadly and with heartfelt regret, I believe for the safety of the public this building needs to be condemned, demolished and replaced by a safe new building built very
    near its present site.”
    Let’s see if you correct your error.

  • Here is Allison’s explanation for his stance to demolish Brett’s:
    “This building has everything going for it but a safe and sturdy foundation.
    The piling foundation under the building was determined by structural engineers to
    be unsuitable to support the building as far back as in 1985. Since then we have
    had 32 additional years of rust and decay to further weaken these pilings. Also,
    since 1985 more engineers hired by the City have come forward and said the
    foundation supporting this building is unsafe. Engineers called in by the
    Jacksonville investors who receive the lion’s share of rents for this building say the
    building is safe. If this building collapses into the river and people drown, I predict
    it is going to very hard to find the engineers who said it was safe. The Jacksonville
    investor group will likely be insulated from any liability by layers of corporate
    immunity. When lawyers begin to sue it will be the City that is easy to find and
    the City will have a very hard time explaining their decision not to condemn this
    building based on the recommendations of their own engineers. ”

    Hardly the positive position you painted Dave.

  • Here, I am correcting Dave’s question on the foundation under Brett’s. No, Dave 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.

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