Island Issues

Does City’s Nervous Silence Foretell An Impending Storm?

Does City’s Nervous Silence Foretell An Impending Storm?

Certain members of the Fernandina Beach City Commission and City Manager Dale Martin have been awfully quiet recently in their defense of the outrageous and out-of-whack city building code charges and the notorious “impact” or “capacity fees” as they are now called.

Unhappy Fernandina Beach residents protesting the city’s building and permitting fees outside of city hall.

Building and permitting fees the city charges in many cases are five times higher than what the county charges for identical services. In addition, the city has previously been found to administer impact fees unlawfully in two court proceedings that cost city tax payers $4.5 million in refunds and legal and consulting fees.

So, what did city officials do? They changed the name from “impact fees” to “capacity fees” and its embedded criminal enterprise just kept chugging along, continuing to shake down residents to “pay to play” without missing a beat.

What’s the difference between an “impact fee” and a “capacity fee”? Impact fees, and “capacity fees” are not taxes and may not be treated as taxes. Aren’t they required by law to be held in trust for the citizens of the community? How does changing the name from “impact fees” to “capacity fees” make them lawful?

Is their silence because they may be getting nervous that folks in authority in Tallahassee might be on to their scam? Do they now realize there are some very smart folks hereabouts who have banded together because they’ve had enough of what many say are their bullying tactics and alleged violations of state law?

The public has been warned over the years that these city officials might be up to no good. Local attorney, investor, developer, author and articulate city critic, Pat Keogh, has penned a number of  detailed opinion editorials alerting taxpayers to the shenanigans taking place at city hall, only to be ignored. Mr. Keogh was the key figure behind the successful suit exposing the impact fee rip-off.

Did the city’s silence start with the announcement that unnamed parties were serious about approaching the state to come take a looksee locally?

In an informal poll conducted here last July asking if residents think the state should investigate the city’s activities for both the impact fees and building fees an overwhelming 87 percent (156 respondents) said “Yes”. Just 13 percent (12 respondents) said  “No”. So far, it is the largest number of people who have ever responded to a poll on this site.

“You gotta pay to play.”

Can you imagine a cop not knowing what a Miranda warning is? How can a city manager or an elected municipal commissioner not know the boundaries for administering state law? They and their predecessors have been acting in an unlawful manner for so long it has become institutionalized. How do they turn off the taps funding their individual sandboxes? I don’t believe any of it is done for personal gain, but to financially pad their pet city projects and patronize their preferred block of voters.

City Attorney Tammie Bach sent me a letter scolding me for my criticism of the city last July. When I requested additional details she failed to respond. Her letter and my response are at http://www.davescottblog.com/fernandina-beach-city-attorney-says-the-reporting-here-is-malicious-patently-false-and-erroneous/

There’s a fast-growing growing but quiet movement afoot hereabouts to urge the state to pay the city a visit, conduct an audit, and investigate how the Florida building code and impact/capacity fees are administered by the city. For example, not long ago, City Manager Dale Martin wrote in his periodic column that the city uses water/sewer fees to fund the marina and golf course. Isn’t that illegal?

Maybe big spending Commissioners Chip Ross and Mayor Mike “Left Coast” Lednovich and City Manager Martin are getting uneasy and wondering if they might be liable if it is found that the city willfully violates state law.

If city officials are confident that they’ve done nothing wrong then they should welcome State Attorney General Ashley Moody to do some poking around.

***

Also Following The Money: Jack Knocke, founder and head of the local watchdog group Common Sense is one of the locals who is also taking a hard look at area government. He’s not just focusing on Fernandina Beach but also concentrating on the country, the school board, and other local taxpayer funded municipalities.

Combined, these taxpayer-funded organizations are responsible for $669 million of our tax money – County $270 Million, Schools $226 Million, and Fernandina $169 Million. That’s a lot of cash.

To keep an eye on where it’s all going and ensure the programs are worthy Knocke has joined forces with County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF), a national network of counties. Knocke says “this non-profit group will help monitor budgets & spending, provide timely research to citizens & elected officials, promote election integrity, and ensure the schools are protecting and educating our kids.” Who can argue with that?

“Don’t think for a moment that there are not forces of evil at work locally,” warns Knocke. “We need to be sure that they are not allowed to take hold here in Nassau County. The governor and legislature are passing laws to keep Florida free, but we must ensure that they are followed in our local community.”

Knocke explains that he needs citizens involved to help with the process. He says he is seeking a group of motivated volunteers to rally behind efforts to “shine a light and take action,” particularly since budget processes are currently under way.

The CCDF Nassau affiliate is looking for a volunteer board of directors. He ask those interested to go to  County Citizens Defending Freedom – CCDFUSA (www.CCDFUSA.com) – Select Nassau County.

Those interested or wanting more information can also contact Knocke at jack@iotadvisorgroup.com

***

Fernandina Commissioner, now Mayor Lednovich, publicly displaying his support for Black Lives Matter.

Speaking of The City Commission: Fernandina Beach Mayor Mike “Left Coast” Lednovich, who says he once lived in Ft. Lauderdale but who migrated here from California, took issue with my comment asking why he didn’t wear his “Mayor” hat during the BLM parade in which he proudly participated. Responding here last week he commented: “Dave: With each attack on me, you confirm your inability to get any of the facts correct. The reason I didn’t wear the Mayor cap at the 2020 Fernandina Beach Black Lives Matter march is because I wasn’t the mayor at that time. A credible journalist would have checked that fact.”

Oh, OK, Mayor, but you also wear a hat saying FB Police Department and you aren’t a cop. Others and I are also curious about your support for the corrupt, violent BLM scam organization that won’t account for the multimillions of dollars it collected from gullible contributors. Do you still promote and advocate for that group?

Mayor Mike and other locals have never condemned those behind the Woke movement who condone the founders of Black Lives Matter who saw the potential to make lots of money have luxurious homes and live the good life.

BLM was touted as an organization to help black folks in the inner cities achieve parity. The leadership helped themselves to millions of dollars in contributions, bought fancy automobiles, and several homes. They didn’t have a positive influence on even one black life other than their own. That doesn’t appear to bother Mayor Lednovich.

A few people are getting rich from donations from naïve white folks and the support of people like Mayor Mike who lack the backbone or intelligence to tell them to take a hike. While folks like Lednovich embrace the corrupt silliness of this group, the vast majority of Americans think the entire organization is dangerous and dishonest.

Also, Mayor Mike, since when is asking a question an “attack”?

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Say “Goodbye” To Oregon: Oregon’s Democrat Governor Kate Brown signed a bill last year that mandates that menstrual products be made available in every student bathroom; it’s called the Menstrual Dignity Act. This includes boy’s rooms if you can still call them that. Can anybody add anything to this absurdity?

***

Don’t Mess With This Lady: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s spokesperson Christina  Pushaw, is not a lady the media can bully.

This no-nonsense gal holds up a mirror to the hypocritical left’s alleged journalists, making them  look like the phony fools they are. For example, Pushaw recently blasted Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz for her paper’s coverage of the “Libs of Tik Tok” Twitter account while declining an interview request.

Lorenz referenced Pushaw’s interactions with Libs of Tik Tok in a story about the account to support her claim that the account was “directly impacting legislation.” Another Washington Post reporter contacted Pushaw to request an interview for a feature story about her.

Pushaw responded saying she didn’t trust the Post to cover her fairly after it revealed the identity, address and other private details of Chaya Raichik, the woman who created the Libs of Tik Tok account, while publicly denying it had published her personal details.

“In fact, your paper did provide a link to Raichik’s real estate license, which included her address,” Pushaw said. “This put Raichik in danger, and it is appalling that a columnist who has been so outspoken about the harms of online harassment and doxing would do the same thing to a woman that she disagrees with on politics.”

“Wielding the power of a national newspaper to intimidate a private citizen for the thoughtcrime of reposting TikTok videos, that liberal creators posted publicly, is not journalism,” Pushaw wrote. “It is bullying, and I do not trust that a newspaper that elevates this sociopathic behavior will cover me fairly.”

Ms. Pushaw also defended Gov. DeSantis’s stance against the woke corporate whackos at the now humiliated and dazed Disney Corporation saying: “They try to take advantage of the friendly business environment in our state, but then try to impose a California radical agenda on us,” she declared.

I like this gal. She’ll do well running the White House briefing room.

***

Somethings Just Didn’t Add Up: Following a first round KO of Disney for its misguided and ill-advised political foray into Florida’s public policy issues feisty Governor Ron DeSantis, who the Wall Street Journal calls, “one of the most popular Republican politicians in the country and a potential presidential candidate” took on liberal’s school indoctrination efforts and scored another knockout punch.

Florida’s Department of Education – with the governor’s blessing – rejected 41 percent of the math textbooks proposed for use within Florida’s public schools on the grounds that “they incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies. These included critical race theory, social-emotional learning, among other such drivel. These are math text books folks! Some of the textbooks interspersed math problems with questions such as “How can you understand your feelings?” and encouragements to write an individualized “math biography” in which students were expected to explain how math made them feel. Huh?

The well-deserved rejection may soon have the woke textbook publishers and authors adding up their losses.

Governor DeSantis  didn’t stop there. He just keeps on giving. He signed a bill into law Monday, May 9,  that recognizes a statewide “Victims of Communism Day” requiring Florida schools to teach students about “the evils of communism.”

The “Victims of Communism Day” bill, or House Bill (HB) 395, establishes November 7 as a holiday “to honor the hundreds of millions of people who have suffered under communist regimes across the world,” which public schools are required to observe, according to a press release.

“Honoring the people that have fallen victim to communist regimes and teaching our students about those atrocities is the best way to ensure that history does not repeat itself,” DeSantis said in a statement.

Living in Florida just keeps getting better and better.

***

How Democrats Think: It’s easy to create a left-wing mob. All you need to do is promise them they will have – through no effort of their own – everything that other people have worked to accumulate.

The politics of envy was on proud display a few weeks ago when President Biden pledged the rest of his term to fighting “income inequality.” He noted that some people make more than other people, that some people have higher incomes than others, and he says that’s not just.

While Biden and the Democrats preach equality of outcome as a right, they completely ignore inequality of effort e.g. “The harder you work, the more you get.” Biden and the Democrats turn that upside down. Those who achieve will be punished as enemies of society and those who fail will be rewarded as wards of society.

That is the rationale of thievery. The other guy has it, you want it, Biden will take it for you. Vote Democrat.

***

Here’s How Stupid They Think We Are:  One of the most obnoxious and vile politicians in Washington, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), said recently that the only way to reduce inflation is to raise taxes and undo the Trump tax cuts. Yes, if inflation is hurting you, it is best to give the government more of your money. Geez Louise!

***

Read All About It: Unless I’m mistaken, or I’ve missed it I haven’t read accounts of most of the above material in area news outlets hereabouts. All of that will change soon when the new Citizen’s Journal Florida gets off the ground in a few weeks.

Local journalists or aspiring writers interested in helping provide material, advice, guidance, money, etc. for the new Citizens Journal Florida should contact its publisher George Miller to discuss a potential role. He can be reached at 805-807-5114

***

Drinking, Dining & Dancing: For the first time since the Chinese pandemic receded I decided to pay a visit to Overtime, the 320 South 8th Street sports bar run by the local natives, brother and sister team Jamie Caudill and Nikki McCormick. The cozy bar and eatery is all you’d expect in such a place including numerous large screen TV’s broadcasting everything from baseball and hockey to soccer and horseracing. The spot has become renowned hereabouts for their  enormous ”Whole jumbo Bone-in Wings” that look like half a chicken and go for $12 for three pieces and $18 for six. It’s an entire meal and you’ll end up taking some home. The wide variety of sandwiches range from Andouille sausage dogs ($12) and Reubens ($14) to Cajun chicken ($14) and crab cake ($14) plus more. There is the traditional sports bar fare including poppers ($10) and loaded nachos ($11) fried pickles ($8) and crab cakes ($10). However, the item that jumped out at me and I ordered immediately were the $5 pork rinds. They’re made on site and come out of the kitchen sprinkled with a spicy dry rub seasoning still sizzling and popping. I know of no other place hereabouts that produces these tasty pig skins. They are closed Monday and Wednesdays, open 3-10 pm on Tuesday, 11 am to 10 pm Thursday through Saturday and 11 am to 5 pm Sunday. Time flies when you’re having fun and there’s been a lot of fun had at the legendary PJD’s Beer and Wine Garden at 12 South 2nd Street downtown Fernandina the past five years. The popular indoor-outdoor gathering place for an eclectic local crowd ranging from politicos and authors to bartenders and business people among others celebrated its 5th anniversary last week with eccentric pajama-clad proprietor Pajamadave Voorhees and his fiancé Zan Maddox providing the crowd with a cake to celebrate. The concept was conceived many years ago during happy hour conversations at the now shuttered North 2nd Street Crab Trap bar, morphed into a small shop selling pajamas, shirts, etc. and finally into a successful, wildly popular watering hole where folks gather to argue politics, watch a game, celebrate a birthday, gossip, or hang out to try one of the more than 200 different beers. Food, including sandwiches, hot dogs (the best dog in town) and burgers were added a couple of years ago. Feeling down or bored, then head to PJDs for a quick remedy. They’re open seven days a week and feature live music Monday-Friday beginning at 6 pm. As a reminder piano man John Springer along with his sidekick drummer, Rob Taylor, will be playing at the Tiki Bar, at the new Marriott hotels on Atlantic Blvd. May 13, 14, 20, 27. All times 4-8 pm. Tonight, Friday, May 13, the Honey Badgers will appear at the Boat House, 6 -10 pm.

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10 Comments

Edgar - 14. May, 2022 - Reply

A surplus of “impact fees” and “permit fees” is the real problem here.
These monies must be used to deal with population growth….and unfortunately that is not happening…population is up only 556 in the last 5 years….that’s 4%, folks. Anti-growth policies and high taxes are driving people away from the city….who now has all this money socked away and can’t spend it because growth ain’t happening.
Hence the furor over a Central Park redo…trying to find a way to burn through the stash before they are forced to do refunds.
Your city management at it’s finest…..we deserve better.

Dave Lott - 13. May, 2022 - Reply

Dave, with all your comments over the years about the City’s use of impact fees have you ever mentioned once that Nassau County also imposes impact fees? Yes, the City used the incorrect process for setting the impact fees after the sale of the water system from FPU and I agree the process was jiggered to help soften the purchase price. But impact fees are a common tool used by local governments to build up a reserve so that when additional capacity is required due to population growth the cost is borne by those that created the need for that additional capacity. If others feel the current system is illegal, why not take the action taken previously and sue the city and have the courts decide?
On a different note, I am glad to see Common Sense take on a wider role although I caution there is danger in spreading one’s resources too thin. If Jack and the organization truly believes are “forces of evil at work locally” then identify those forces and explain why they are evil. Just because someone has a different perspective or vision does not automatically qualify them as evil.

Patrick J. Keogh - 13. May, 2022 - Reply

Dave mentioned I was active in the successful law suits against the City. The reason no one will sue the City again is the city dragged out the litigation for over three years for the sole purpose of financially exhausting the plaintiff class. Even after the class won the first law suit the city initiated a second suit to validate the fees in which the state joined the class and the fees were found by the court to be unlawful again. The City’s only defense was to use unlimited amounts of citizens’ funds to litigate in defense of the indefensible.

What Dave did not mention is that I served on the County’s Impact Fee Task Force very ably led by former Commissioner Danny Leeper. The County’s structure was designed with full knowledge of and in strict compliance with state and federal law.

Amanda Borghese - 13. May, 2022 - Reply

Bravo, Governor DeSantis!!! You are 100% right, Dave – “the Governor who keeps on giving”! We are so lucky to have this patriotic, gutsy American to run our State. Thank God for him. And thank God for you, Dave, who disseminate the truth whenever you can!

Ken Timmerman - 13. May, 2022 - Reply

Dave – you don’t know how right you are about Christina Pushaw. I had the opportunity to get to know her a few years ago while she was working in the Republic of Georgia and Ukraine. She is smart, she takes no prisoners, and she cannot be intimidated. Governor DeSantis has chosen to deploy her as his “mean tweet” doppleganger (anyone remember “Skippy” Bush, from Doonsebury days?). It’s a brilliant strategy, allowing him to play Mr Nice Guy (sort of), and stay above the mudslinging media, leaving that to Christina. I know many Trump supporters who wish the President would have done the same thing and let someone else do his mean tweets. But that is another story…Christina is having the same impact on the lame stream Florida media, leading them by the nose off on wild goose chases (generally of their own making), while the Guv keeps on — well, governing.

Bill Shaffer - 13. May, 2022 - Reply

When setting expectations for local government services, leave the trust meter at zero.

The self-absorbed can’t help themselves and never will help you.

Oscar M - 13. May, 2022 - Reply

I just read the Fernandina News Leader. The News Leader is the most racist, despicable, dishonest rag ever to be published. It CONSTANTLY attacks OHPA and the Port, which is the largest employer of minorities in Fernandina. The side with Chip Ross, an absolute RACIST, who wants to close the Port and rid Fernandina of all minorities and disabled people (see his lawsuit against the teenage disabled individual). This is what is ruining Fernandina.

Everyone should protest the “Fake” News Leader and Ross. Ross already has a criminal record and is a professional protester encouraged to destroy our town by Foy Malloy, the published and owner of the “Fake” News Leader. Malloy is another BONFIDE RACIST who wants to rid Fernandina of all minorities starting with my brothers at the Port

We need to protest these RACIST scum. They are EVIL. We will not let our brothers by exterminated by these people, who want to put us back in chains. That is what Ross wants: to have blacks just pick cotton and serve this fat racist pig food. We shall overcome and rise up and destroy Ross and Foy Malloy.

Jack Knocke - 13. May, 2022 - Reply

Dave,
Thanks for spotlighting the County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDFUSA) organization. There is so much going on in each of these local government entities, that we need more folks involved to ensure that we have eyes on all of the important areas. A little help from everyone makes a huge difference.

I’m so thankful and proud of the team of volunteers who have already stepped forward to help CCDF! We need more folks to join the team.

Jack

L. Dawson - 13. May, 2022 - Reply

I was shocked that a building permit to replace an existing door is $300, more than half the cost of the replacement door. It’s highway robbery on steroids.

Robert P Allison III - 13. May, 2022 - Reply

Congrats Dave on another great post – your always on the mark!
By the way my sides still hurt from reading the latest News Wrecker cover to cover – very cleaver and always hysterical.
Keep up the great work !