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

Fernandina Continues To Splurge On More And More “Stuff”

In 1981 comedian Gorge Carlin performed a routine called “A place for my stuff.”

He exclaimed that houses were merely boxes with lids that contain our stuff, and all that stuff is an expensive and time-consuming burden.

He said other people use his stuff, or take and break his stuff, mostly the good stuff.

“Sometimes”, he said, “you’ve gotta fix your stuff, store some of your stuff, and pay people to keep an eye on your stuff.”

The end result he concluded was that he had too much stuff and needed to narrow it down to the bare and affordable necessities.

The City of Fernandina Beach is no different.

Some 12,500 city residents live in a storage unit called Fernandina Beach which contains a lot of stuff that City Manager Dale Martin, and the City Commission bought with our money and mostly without our permission. They demand we pay for the purchase, stowing, and maintenance of all this stuff. They even let others who don’t live here use our stuff and then hit us up for maintenance and replacement costs.

Taxes hereabouts won’t go down to pay for this stuff. They can’t because the city owns too much stuff it has to maintain. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the city keeps on buying more stuff as if afflicted with oniomania –  a compulsive shopping disorder.

Over the years the city has built, expanded, or purchased beach access areas/walkovers, recreation centers, ballfields,  golf courses, small parks, and a marina, to name a few. The police department and city hall staff and other functions continue to grow in personnel and are still adding stuff – vehicles, equipment, more employees, and such. They’re building a new fire station and even want a new city hall. By the end of next year, the Building and Permitting Department will have doubled the number of employees despite a diminishing work load and a projected $2 million deficit in 2021.

All of this “stuff” costs money to repair and maintain, especially as this stuff ages. Costs are in the tens of millions….$9 million for the beach walkovers alone, according to one city commissioner.

Property owners hereabouts are beneficiaries of all this stuff but must pay for its upkeep, which, when added to the routine daily cost of government, will require that property taxes remain at a high level and will continue to increase well into the future.

The “adjusted roll-back rate” adopted for this year, which began October 1, will have to  go up for 2022 and beyond. All this stuff costs money – our money in the form of taxes.

Examples include new beach walkovers (more than 40 of them plus many with parking areas), the Atlantic Recreation Center, the Peck Center, lighted tennis courts and ball fields, a waterfront park, and more are under construction or consideration.

This stuff is there for everybody to use including our lucky county neighbors and visitors that use it without paying because they don’t live in the  city limits and suffer the city tax burden.

It will take millions of dollars over the next few years to keep all this stuff safe and useable. Where will this money come from? Some needed repairs and updates have been deferred. But the costs have not gone away – they only increase over time.

Attempts have been made to obtain financial assistance from the county – whose residents take full advantage of all this stuff at no cost – but to no avail.

So that leaves city taxpayers, as always, stuck with the bill. And we’re running out of local property owners able to pay for all this stuff due to land squeezes, anti-development groups, mismanagement, and the pandemic.

Name just one benefit of living in the city limits that your county neighbor across the street from you doesn’t enjoy…just one. Yeh, I can’t either.

It’s time to tell the city manager and the commission’s big spenders to “Stuff it!” and outsource or merge duplicate functions to the county.

***

It’s time to end the era of the “Big Spenders.”

Vote David Sturges: One way to help get Fernandina’s financial mess under control is to vote for David Sturges in the December 8 City Commission runoff race. Sturges, who should run using the campaign slogan “Stuff It With Sturges”, will ally with newly elected Commissioner Bradley Bean and fiscal conservatives Len Kreger and Mike Lednovich to isolate Commissioner Chip “Daddy Warbucks” Ross and City Manager Dale “The Big Spender” Martin to get runaway spending under control and bring some fiscal sanity to city hall.

***.

Words To Think About: In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, Ward Connerly, a black Louisiana native who campaigns against racial preferences, offered a test for whether people are “really pro-civil rights” saying: “It’s when they will defend the right of a white person – a white male – to be treated equal to everyone else.”

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The Tipping Point: Tipping confuses me.

When I lived in Belgium and France tipping was easy. Gratuities were included in the final bill just like sales tax is here. If a waiter or waitress did something particularly special then you left a little more, but not much as the locals warned me it would look pretentious.

I’ve never really understood the protocol for tipping. Why are hair stylists given tips, but not barbers? Taxi drivers but not bus drivers or pilots. How about a pilot tip jar awaiting folks as they exit the plane that says: “How about that landing”? Why are people who serve us food or drinks at ground level tipped but not those who serve us at 35,000 feet and tell us how to protect ourselves in case of an accident? I’ve never had a restaurant server explain to me what to do in case the joint went up in flames.

And why does the size of the bill determine the size of the tip?  If a waiter serves a meal that costs $200, why should he get 20 times as much as the waitress who serves a $10 meal. You could assume that if the waiter works in a place that charges that much, there is likely to be less of a turnover and he’ll have fewer customers in an evening.  But the waitress isn’t going to have 20 times as many, but she’s going to have to work 20 times as hard.

Also, when I call in a pizza order and pick it up, why am I expected to tip the person who hands it to me? That person had nothing to do with the pizza. That was the job of the people in the kitchen who are paid to make pizzas.

If musicians have a tip jar in front of them at a restaurant or bar they expect a tip if you enjoy their music. But what if it was awful, forcing you to yell at your dining companion during conversations and spoiling the ambiance. Can you dip into it and extract compensation?

***

Why People Are Fleeing NY: If you’re like me you’ve probably spotted a number of cars bearing New York license plates in your Amelia Island neighborhood pulling in behind moving vans. The festival of filth and violence unspooling in New York City has led to thousands of residents packing up and hightailing it out of there for good. The city’s clueless Mayor Bill de Blasio’s insane policies have crime surging, with shootings doubling from 698 last year to 1,359 this year as of Nov. 15. High city taxes, filthy streets, a defunded police force, and an infestation of rats the size of rabbits are encouraging New Yorkers to head for the exits. How bad is it? It’s like a scene from the sci fi film “Escape from New York”. For example, a Brooklyn man surrendered to police last Wednesday after a video of him blasting a flamethrower into the night sky while atop a city bus went viral. Defunding the police while turning the city over to violent, left-wing thugs encouraged by a sympathetic media — yeah, that’s a great idea! Bye, Bye Big Apple! Just don’t bring your voting habits with you.

***

Speaking Of Crime:  We are currently witnessing a major rise in crime in all major American cities run by Democrats, not just New York. For example, in Seattle crime is way up and the city just reported 34 more cops resigned from the force. So, what did the folks that run that city do? They cut the police department budget by another 20 percent. Yeh, that’ll fix it.

Seattle is now worse than Portland, which has become a free crime and homeless area. The left-wing politicians are ignorant fools not bothering to learn from history in NYC. With Biden and the Dems taking over this sort of thing will become the norm, and crime across the country will be like NYC in the 70’s or worse.

In Minneapolis, the city is looking for outside help by paying to bring in law enforcement officers from nearby jurisdictions while the morons running the city are continuing to defund their police department and watch as their cops resign and retire in record numbers. One of these elected idiots called the police recently because her Uber driver wouldn’t roll his window up.

The only major city I know of that has reported a reduction in crime and homelessness is San Diego, which is governed by Republicans.

Why would anybody want to be a cop these days? And why should any cop take any kind of a risk. I can’t imagine how cities are going to recruit enough cops from now on. These Democrat-run cities are experiencing rapidly rising crime and want to continue cutting police budgets and charge their cops with crimes for doing their jobs.

With Biden in office the lunatics are now taking full control of the asylum. BLM and Antifa are thrilled to have cops defunded so they can perpetrate crimes and control portions of the cities. This is going to end very badly for law-abiding residents in those cities who can’t afford to move and can’t defend themselves. Those who will suffer the most are the low-income folks living in crime-riddled impoverished areas.

If black lives really mattered to these goons why aren’t they tearing down the crack houses instead of burning local grocery stores and pharmacies? These far-left Democrats have done far more damage to the black community than bad cops ever could. Why don’t we ever hear them calling for defunding teachers unions, fixing the bad schools and firing the bad teachers?

***

Who’s On First? I spotted a notice on the local Neighbor Digest site the other day where someone reported:  “….near the little league field by the corner of S. 13th and Beech, is a dead orange cat in the field.” The notice reminded me of a book that was published around 1980 titled “A Hundred and One Uses of a Dead Cat” by cartoonist Simon Bond. Maybe the dead orange cat was first base.

***

Need A Job? If you’re seeking a job, aren’t too bright, and like to say stupid things in public then you may want to think about running for mayor or city council in Duluth, Minnesota.  Apparently it doesn’t take much of a resume or IQ to get elected to those positions there. Recently the Duluth City Council tabled a resolution that halts Mayor Emily Larson’s push to remove the word “chief” from employee titles after she and her administration said it’s offensive to Indigenous people. The mayor isn’t the only idiot in charge of that city. Council Vice President Renee Van Nett said the word “chief” is “hurtful” and has historically been used against Indigenous people. The city’s community relations officer Alicia Kozlowski explained why the word “chief” is offensive, saying: “Oftentimes the word chief is used as I would say a racial epithet and it turns into a microaggression.” How would you like to be governed by this group of unhinged lunatics who didn’t say what they propose for the future titles of police and fire chiefs. If the Biden administration gets wind of this it’ll spell doom for  Mastercard, which certainly has to go. And Indian Chief Motorcycles…a gonner for sure. The Army’s Master Sergeant title will be history! And say goodbye to the Navy’s Chief Petty Officer?

***

A Steely Observation: Former area resident, friend, and astute political observer, Robert Steele, who now lives in Taos, NM, commented recently on President-Elect Joe Biden’s intention to appoint John Kerry as America’s “climate envoy” saying: “It’s a very silly thing for someone to be. That’s why Kerry is perfect in the role.”

Robert adds: “Joe gets credit from the loony left by appointing an empty suit to do essentially nothing about a problem that probably doesn’t exist. That’s the climate thing solved politically, which is all it amounts to anyway.”

“Joe hereby reveals himself as way cleverer than Barack Obama, who was actually dumb enough to make John Kerry America’s Secretary of State”

Well said Robert!

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Best Headline Of The Week: “Walmart Thanks Government For Completely Obliterating Their Small Business Competition.” – Babylon Bee.

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 Things I Wish I’d Said: “Never confuse education with intelligence.” – anonymous.

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Drinking, Dining & Dancing: If there’s  a bar or restaurant in the state of Florida that offers more different brands of whisky than the Sandbar & Restaurant at Main Beach please let me know. Sandbar  management says it has some 847 different brands. Are there others with more? Speaking of the Sandbar, tomorrow, Friday, November 27,  from 6-10 pm, the joint will feature J.R. Ward, and this Saturday from 6-10, the Honey Badgers, one of the most popular area bands hereabouts will perform. Folks can also  order a $12.99 shrimp dinner with two sides that normally costs $21.50. Ask your server when it’s available. I always look forward to reading the “Eating Scene” restaurant reviews by Michael Gass in the “Amelia Islander Magazine” because they’re so over the top. Mr. Gass has never been introduced to a plate of food that he didn’t devour with adoring enthusiasm. If he has ever disliked anything he’s never mentioned it, at least not in his “Islander” reviews. You see, the eateries that Mr. Gass dines in are all advertisers in the “Islander Magazine”, and a negative review would probably result in no ad. No matter where Mr. Gass straps on his bib – from the Ritz Carlton’s Salt to the soup kitchen of the local homeless shelter – management can be assured of  a review suitable for framing. The latest one I read was for the Florida House’s Leddy’s Porch in the magazine’s November issue. I’ve eaten there and quaffed a few beers in owner Ernie Saltmarsh’s Mermaid Bar. It’s a fun and cozy place and I have no complaints about anything I’ve ever ordered. Craig, the congenial, slim, red-bearded grill cook on the joint’s patio makes the best hamburger you can get on the island for just five bucks, as well as tasty wings, but you can’t order ‘em inside. So, back to the Gass table at Leddy’s Porch. The food didn’t inspire me the way it did Mr. Gass. Substitute Foie Gras and Beef Wellington for his selections and his ecstatic review featuring terms and words such as  “luscious’, “delicious”, “yummy”, “exploding with flavor”, “tender and juicy”, and a “perfect ten” may have been credible. But Mr. Gass wrote an entire magazine page using those phrases to passionately describe a chicken sandwich with a side of pimento cheese. Really! I’m not making that up. I’m eagerly awaiting his review of Krystal Burger. Speaking of Crystal –  this one with a “C” – much to my delight one of my all-time favorite island bartenders popped up while Linda and I were enjoying a cocktail at the Ash Street-facing bar at the recently opened South 2nd St. and Ash Boat House this past weekend. Crystal Foster, a pretty and curvaceous bartender with a wicked sense of humor, is now taking care of business behind one of  the Boat House’s three bars. We first met Ms. Foster when she teamed up with a group of her gal pals at Hammerhead’s a few years back for what was billed as “Bikini Funday Sunday”…and it was! Coastal Pizza at 1916 South 14th Street in the Island Walk Shopping Center around the corner from Publix will start Thursday evening trivia beginning December 3 from 6:30-8:30. A special charity jackpot will be awarded on December 17 and owner Tom Demaro tells me that the winning team that day can select a charity for Coastal management to donate a check to for $1,263. Why the odd amount? Ask Tom.  I hope readers of this column enjoyed a pleasant Thanksgiving with family and friends despite the pandemic. We did, and I have to give Harris Teeter a lot of the credit. We ordered a fully cooked Thanksgiving turkey dinner for $50 from the south island grocery store that went far beyond our expectations. For just fifty bucks it included cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, gravy, and a 12-pound fully cooked turkey.  There was enough food to feed eight or more hungry guests and have leftovers. It was one of the easiest, tastiest Thanksgiving meals we’ve ever prepared, because the folks at Harris Teeter did all the prep work. It was really good and we’ll be enjoying leftovers for a longtime.

  • Comment (15)
  • Guess the words of “Hail to the Chief” will have to be re-written!
    Any suggestions!
    It’s perfect timing given the forthcoming change.

  • Dave good to hear from you after your wonderful turkey Thanksgiving.
    The comments about FB stuff will shortly be bypassed by Biden when he gives away our country stuff to one and all. And filling all his swamp buddies pockets with our hard earned money and livelihoods.

  • Speaking of tips and New York I used to have to go into New York from Boston about once a month. All I did was make a delivery. I always got a good tip. It was like being in a Rodney Dangerfield movie. (Back to School or Caddy Shack)

    • I grew up on Long Island and remember that everyone in the NY metro area got (expected) tips for everything. My childhood barber received a 10 cent tip for a 25 cent haircut. And yes – I still tip the barber.

      At Christmas, my parents tipped the mailman and the county-employed garbage men as well. I worked for a local department store and performed home deliveries for a few days. I received some nice tips just for bringing furniture past the front door. One of my earliest jobs was delivering newspapers by bicycle seven days a week. I was grateful to get a 10 cent tip on top of a 50-60 cent bill.

      Like you, I have observed the inconsistency in tips (total dollars, not percentage) between the waitstaff at a diner vs. an upscale restaurant. I take that hard work into consideration and adjust my tips accordingly. This year I even began tipping for takeout orders, hoping/assuming that the tip will be shared with other workers and also hoping the business (and workers) will survive this pandemic.

  • Reading Dave Scott makes me feel as if I am conversing with myself. We agree on almost everything and even my humor gets “humored”. One thing I find boring and useless, is the local newspaper’s constant report of meetings held for the sake of meeting. There are far too many of them and results are that nothing is apparently accomplished.
    One fact to include in the mining of funds for the tax-payers’ obligation to the commissions’ demands is that more and more residents are uprooting and leaving paradise because it simply is not worth it. I may be next. I suggest sell it or use it and make it produce funds to pay for the waste.

  • Dave:

    You have it right on the city government senselessly accumulating stuff. They do that without accountability because governments, unlike businesses, have no balance sheet. There is no way of knowing how much capital is wasted on “stuff”. One point I disagree on is the “lucky county neighbors” “that use city stuff without paying”. You’re playing that old Sapp-Ross-Martin broken record there. Just think about how much county tax revenue is lost because the city takes high value property off the tax roles. As a county resident I’m not feeling particularly “lucky” supporting the city’s property profligacy.

  • I found it interesting that Brother Dave listed group of Cities with the Highest crime rates per capita, and of course blamed it all on Democratic leadership… Statistics are trick things, and always a wonderful way to bolster a commentary. We utilize them in engineering to promote funding for projects all the time.. But they never tell the whole story. I can list the States with the Highest Crime Rates, and the Party in leadership of those state:. ! Alaska (R) 2 New Mexico (D) 3 Tennessee (R) 4 Arkansas (R) 5 Nevada (D) 6 Louisiana (D) 7 Alabama (R) 8 Missouri (R) 9 South Carolina (R) 10 Arizona (R) Or Seven out of Ten states with the Highest crime rates per Capita are Republican run… Many factors have to be taken into account. But that wouldn’t fit David narrative would it.? Truth still matters.

    • Typical disingenuous Progressive Democrat thought process: using a per capita crime statistic (crime incidents per 100,000 population) to prove that Alaska has a high crime rate is meaningless given the State has a population of less than one million. Of course, the per capita crime rate would be high (duh). Same analysis for the rest of the states listed. As you say “many factors have to be taken into account”. Come on man, you can do better.

  • And the Navy’s master chief petty officer rank must go too. A double offense. The war against offense is never-ending, as those who dedicate their otherwise pointless lives to ferreting out offenses can find them just about anywhere. Come to think of it, these villains are pretty offensive themselves. As Dave teaches us, one doesn’t have to be an idiot to be elected in places like Duluth and other D dominated precincts. But it helps.

    On the other matter Dave alerts us to, I also see an increasing number of New York license plates here in Tampa, even though most escapees from the northeast wind up in South Florida. Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties have so many immigrants for the upper right that the area is sometimes called Baja New Jersey. One can hardly blame these ex-pats for fleeing the Big Rotten Apple. But I’m with Dave in worrying that these folks will now vote for the same kind of fools who ruined their original home. More puzzling than the recent wave of Fuggedaboutits from the Empire State (hey – isn’t Empire an offense too?) are the ex-New Yorkers who’ve been here long enough for their cars to sport Florida license plates but also a bumper strip that reads “I (heart) New York.” From my experience there, I have to wonder that anyone could heart New York at the best of its times. But now? I’ve exercised restraint so far, but I’ll admit to being tempted to ask these folks, “If your heart is in New York, what’s your big, dumb ass doing down here?” Now before the Former New Yorkers of Florida Club breaks out the torches and pitch forks to come after me, I’ll add that some of these folks turn out to be nice people. I count several among my friends. Some even eventually learn to blow gnats and say howdy at the same time. (A survival skill in sub-tropical Florida.) But it sure would be nice to get some political sanity in the five boroughs so that most of these could be re-homed.

  • Living close to Harris Teeter I mostly shop at what I refer to as “The Disneyland of Grocery Stores.” Wife and I must try the turkey platter sometime over the Christmas Holiday if it’s offered. Thanks for the heads up

  • You put a whole new meaning on the word “stuffing.”

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Grateful for your blogs.

  • And if your cat hasn’t quite yet expired, there’s The Official I Hate Cats book by Skip Morrow, also published in the early ’80s. I donated my copy to the Friends of the Library a few years ago.

  • WOW! I enjoyed your column. My sister and cousin both have beach front second homes on the island. My wife and I have been looking and considering moving to Fernandina beach. After looking around I had to explain to her that we would have to live a few streets over from the water. I tried for Yule but that went over like a lead balloon. We live in the north fulton county burbs of Atlanta, GA (soon to be socialist GA). We live in a 4000 sq ft beautiful home on half an acre. That’s about four homes on half an acre in fernandina, I guess. Our home will sell for about $650,000. That’s about 2500 sq ft on Amalia island. I really don’t like the math but my wife never cared much for math anyway. Hope your conservative candidates prevail.

  • Dave, here is one benefit for city residents that county residents don’t enjoy: fast response times from police and fire rescue. The county used to publish a study but I haven’t seen one for years because the figures looked so bad compared to the city’s. Of course they would always contend the reason for the difference was the county, particularly the western part of the county was so big – but then it is also much less crowded so there should be far fewer calls.
    That being said, I agree with you about a lot of the expenditures the city has made over the last year have been far from austere. But to some degree the residents bring it on themselves. One idea has been raised a number of times to generate revenue from non-Island residents has been for beach parking. But every time there is such an outcry that such a fee doesn’t match with the hospitality image of the city.
    Happy Holidays!

  • Enjoy your article!! I agree with your “stuff” apologies. City spending is out of control!! We are an island, not a country when it comes to expenses!! I would say our only choices is our vote. But the recent election puts a damper on the worth of voting for change!!! I think a community based action is in order! Let’s stop this spending spiral!! MVW

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