Island Issues

Fernandina Beach Mayor Miller Should Adopt Groucho’s Refrain For His Next Campaign

Fernandina Beach Mayor Miller Should Adopt Groucho’s Refrain For His Next Campaign

groucho-marx-quotes-020“Whatever It Is, I’m Against It” was Groucho Marx’s most famous refrain and I’m convinced that Fernandina Beach Mayor Johnny Miller could adopt it as a campaign slogan if he intends to once again run for a seat on the City Commission or any other political office he aspires to attain. It would also grant him instant credibility if he were to ever apply for a position with Greenpeace or the Sierra Club.

When he initially ran for his commission seat Mayor Miller campaigned on a pro-business, anti-regulatory platform that he immediately abandoned soon after he was elected. Not only did he promptly scrap the platform he ran on, but he never again mentioned those campaign issues, reversing course so abruptly it appeared he had an epiphany on election day and instantly converted to the Climate Change religion where every warm summer breeze is an apocalyptic sign for him to ban everything from plastic bags to underarm deodorant spray.

Steve Nicklaus, who writes a weekly “Steve’s Marketplace” column for the local News-Leader even suggested in his Wednesday, Feb. 3 piece that Mayor Miller needs to get off his national soapbox and get back to “local issues” such as helping our communities small businesses, which was his original campaign platform.

I haven’t heard a single word from Mayor Miller about any of his pro-business platforms since he trashed them early on, but I have seen and read an abundance of material on how he has spent a great deal of time advocating banning nonexistent puppy mills; stopping fracking in its tracks right here in River City; halting nonexistent seismic air gun testing off shore; attempting to prohibit our local grocery store chains from distributing those terrifying plastic bags; and eliminating foam food ware, etc.

Unless it’s brought up by other commissioners I never hear anything from the environmental gadfly mayor about the underfunded pension program, waste water issues, zoning, the city’s legal issues, impact fees, speedier permitting or other items critical to area residents, many of which he made the centerpiece of  his election campaign a little more than three years ago.

Maybe his fellow commissioners accepted the voters’ straw vote for mayor to keep the obviously obsessed commissioner from incessantly babbling on about his pet environmental projects and keep him busy running the commission sessions, where he can do little harm while engaged in recognizing speakers, shaking hands, posing for photos and handling out proclamations and other simple mayoral tasks.

When I asked my neighbors to pick a local topic they felt was important to them out of a list that included seismic testing, plastic bags, puppy mills, fracking, foam food ware and waste water, only the 34-year-old unemployed vegetarian residing in his parents attic down the street, who admires the living condition of the earthworm and thinks humans should emulate it, hesitated before selecting waste water.

Remember a number of years ago when even Democrats and other left-wingers suggested that America could “bring OPEC to its knees by using our technological superiority.” Apparently Johnny thinks that instead of fracking and seismic testing to search for oil and gas, that meant developing automobiles that get 90 miles a gallon and run on dirt. Or hot air from such brilliant technological and geophysical experts as actors Ted Danson, Kate Walsh and Sam Waterson that Mayor Miller recently traveled to Washington D.C. to adoringly listen to as they blathered on about the evils of seismic air gun testing to explore for natural gas and oil deposits. Apparently Willie Nelson and LL Cool J were not available that day, but I believe the keynote address at the event was delivered by Chicken Little.

Prior to his Washington trip — his second or third since being elected to his current local office…..I’m losing count — he traveled once again to Tallahassee to protest to the state legislature about fracking. This time he was flanked by a couple of guys who looked like they needed a shave and a bath, and said they had traveled to Tallahassee from Pennsylvania on Harley-Davidsons carrying bottles containing what they said was “fracking water” which they dared our lawmakers to drink.  Johnny thought it “odd” that nobody took these two “gentlemen” up on their offer. Really? “Oh, sure fellas, give me a couple of swigs of whatever you have in that bottle!”

Now Johnny says he is “pissed off” because the state legislators passed a bill pre-empting local extremists like himself from banning fracking in their communities. In other words, they prevented the inmates from taking over the asylum and acted in the best interests of the majority of citizens of Florida who didn’t elect Mr. Miller or any of the other fanatics who want to limit us to two teaspoons of water in a toilet we have to flush 18 times to empty.

Apparently the mayor’s environmental silliness has spread to the Nassau County Commission which went on record opposing fracking in this area despite the fact no one has spotted a single fracker lurking behind any of the county’s pine trees much less frolicking on the beach.

When you disagree with Mayor Miller on his sacred issues, he reacts with stupefied indignation and erupts into a state of outrage with no facts to refute any of the hysteria-inducing comments. According to Johnny Santa’s home is melting, Al Gore is Nostradamus and Elvis is alive.

Stop the Drill, Ban the Bag, No Puppy Mills, No foam ware, etc. How about a Muzzle the Mayor campaign?


Liberal Logic: I met a local lady the other evening who, while tending bar part-time, told me that despite the fact she is a full-time physical trainer and has a part-time job serving drinks, she still can’t afford health insurance for herself and her two children. So because she can’t afford it, the government is fining her $360 this year, which she says is better than last year when she was fined $395. Compared to guns, which Obama wants to outlaw, the Affordable Car Act (Obamacare) is more expensive and has less coverage.


Sliiiime In The Ice Machine And The Jukebox: The role of Melvin P. Thorpe, played by Dom DeLuise, in the 1982 film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, was based on Houston’s late Marvin Zindler, who was famed for his Rat and Roach Report, where he read details from his City of Houston Food Inspection Program’s restaurant reports on KTRK TV there.

The reports were famous for Zindler’s dramatic exclamations of “Sliiiiiiiime in the Ice Machine!”, which became a catchphrase of his and were broadcast Friday nights live during the 6 p.m. newscast and rebroadcast later during the station’s 10 p.m. news.

If Marvin were alive today and living nearby he would not lack material for his Friday night broadcast. For example, last week I wrote about how loud music in bars and restaurants can be annoying to customers and this week I experienced another off-putting situation, which will, I am sure, color me a whiner. But, so be it.

Following a movie at the Coastal Theater (see item below) early last Saturday Linda and I decided to have a cocktail nearby. Despite the more than reasonable happy hour prices and cozy atmosphere, we left before finishing when a patron decided to play the jukebox that I am sure Carrie Nation, had she been in the neighborhood, would have attacked with her axe to the encouragement of the bar’s patrons.

His jukebox selection contained a string of rap lyrics more vile and vulgar than anything I’d ever heard in an army barracks on a Saturday night….much worse. This is not a place to bring your wife, a girl you are trying to impress or your granny since you never know when someone with no taste will decide to play the crap stocked in their jukebox. If the bartender or a customer seated next to you repeated the same string of scatological garbage you’d probably become very nervous and most certainly contact management to complain. I did but to no avail.

And speaking of “Sliiiiiiiiime in the ice machine!” it occurred right here on Amelia Island and it’s one of the reasons the health department closed two restaurants, one the south end of the island and one on the north end, until they cleaned up their acts. “Black mold” in the ice machine,  roaches, dead and alive, among other nasties, contributed to the two eateries list of issues and closure. And it’s not the first time the south end restaurant has been shuttered for the same reasons, as it happened once before in 2012. I traditionally don’t mention names of restaurants with these kind of issues as I don’t want to pile on, but readers can check out the restaurant inspections each Monday in the Florida Times-Union‘s Metro Section or by going online to


Was It Editor’s Day Off At Florida Times-Union? I realize that February is Black History Month, and the Times-Union will profile blacks that were instrumental in forging our country’s heritage. But what was the point of an Associated Press story on the Florida Times-Union‘s Page 1A, Sunday, January 31 (Jewelry bandit, 85, reflects on her trade) that sympathetically portrayed a black Atlanta octogenarian who admits that the spent the past almost 70 years stealing jewelry in order to earn a living? Young people of any color reading this article can only presume that, as the article says, “walking off with pricey jewels in countless thefts around the world over six decades” is an effortless and dignified way to earn a living. Nowhere in the article was this elderly woman condemned for her criminal activity. In fact the story says: “…. her thefts have long fascinated the public and media with countless news stories and a documentary film detailing her feats.” It even concludes with a quote from the unremorseful elderly thief saying: “I know what I’ve done. I’m not too ashamed of it.” Really? What about the victims including jewelry store owners and their insurance companies? I’m sure they were fascinated. I was fascinated by the fact that the AP would produce this piece of rubbish and that the Times-Union would print it. Where are the articles celebrating Black History Month that profile blacks such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; former U.S. Army General and Secretary of State Colin Powell; author James Baldwin; poet Maya Angelou; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown; a black policeman, fireman or businessman; U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina; neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, and the many, many more dignified and scrupulous people who have made solid contributions to our society, overcoming adversity through hard work and honesty. This old thief, who said she wouldn’t mind having a movie made  about her and even has an actress picked out to star in it, is no better than O.J. Simpson, Al Sharpton or Bill Cosby. I don’t care if they are Black, Caucasian, Asian, Native American, Democrats, Republicans or anything else, I don’t care to read a lighthearted synopsis of an aged, unrepentant thief. This piece of crap would be too extreme even for my next News-Wrecker. Or am I missing something here?


Speaking of Movies: Last Saturday afternoon we went to see the film 13 Hours that is based on the September 11, 2012 attacks on the American compounds in Benghazi, Libya. The film is based on the book “13 Hours” by a Boston University journalism professor along with the five CIA contractors who fought the battles that night. We watched inside a packed theater and experienced a sense of outrage as the movie depicted repeated requests for help by the vastly outnumbered defenders of the various complexes as they were denied or ignored by the U.S. government from the White House to the State Department to the Pentagon. Obama and Hillary Clinton weren’t named, but the dishonesty about spontaneous demonstrations and videos is obvious. Each time I see one of the family members of the slain CIA contractors talking about Clinton lying to them over the coffins of their slain loved ones I seethe with contempt for that vile woman and her equally dishonest White House accomplice.


Let’s Hear It For the Girls:  Many of the gals on the last Lady Pirates basketball team that achieved what the 2016 Fernandina Beach High School girl’s team (25-3) did this week are now probably mothers and grandmothers as well as businesswomen, teachers, etc. These 2016 district title winners warrant a well deserved “congratulations” for winning a title that hasn’t graced the school since the 1985 team earned it 31 years ago.


But Wait! That’s Not All: I listened to Barack Obama’s speech from a Baltimore mosque Tuesday and when it was over I was sure he was going to announce a 1-800 number that listeners could call to order a prayer rug and a head scarf. “Operators standing by, and if you call now, we’ll throw in a second prayer rug for free!” He also praised Muslims for being “a crucial part of American history.” Really? What part would that be?  I’ve never heard a presidential speech that sounded more like an infomercial than that load of bologna. Oh, by the way he also wasn’t being truthful when he said that “Islam means peace.” It means submission and surrender. Look it up.


Random Thought: Can anyone provide one valid reason why the United States should not secure its borders?


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: This coming day before Valentine’s Day (Saturday, Feb. 13) and Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) beginning at 5 p.m. the downtown Centre Street Alley Cat will feature bargain two for one $50 dinners that include an appetizer, a choice of prime rib, grouper or shrimp and a dessert in addition to live music featuring piano man John Springer on the 13th 6:30-9:30 p.m. and Josh McGowan from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. On Valentine’s Day Fiddle Gal Amy Basse will be a “strolling violinist” playing romantic music while you and your squeeze enjoy the $50 special. Alley Cat owner Janet Vining is not short on ideas and keeps coming up with new ones to keep the crowds coming back as she’s also planning “paint parties” for folks who want to be artistically inclined and drink at the same time enticing them to stop by tomorrow, pay $30, grab a paint brush and a glass of beer or wine and have at it as instructor Lamar Miles shows them which end of the brush to use. On Valentine’s Day afternoon beginning at 12:30 guests can paint, drink bottomless mimosa’s or beer and enjoy a light brunch for $50. So it looks to me like you can paint, drink and eat here for more than 12 hours on February 14 for just $100 if you think you can last that long. For reservations or information call ’em at 904/ 491-1001. And speaking of Valentine’s Day, the Fletcher Avenue Surf has a $229.00 special that includes a two night stay in one of its beautifully remodeled rooms across the street from the beach, a two day rental cabana and fire pit, a dinner for two and a bottle of wine waiting at the downtown North 3rd Street Dog Star Tavern. They also have a one night deal for just $149.00. Call ’em at 844/441-2444. If you want to impress your sweetheart a couple of day prior to Valentine’s then Sandy Bottoms will be hosting the Crescendo Big Band Friday, Feb. 12 beginning at 7 p.m. for a $10.00 cash only cover. Call ’em at 904/310-6904. Yesterday friends Cal Atwood, Joe Murphy and I had our monthly BS lunch at the downtown 3rd Street Florida House Inn’s Leddy’s Porch, a reasonable and interesting eatery that’s open only for lunch Wednesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. I had the half-pound burger and collard greens, Joe the meatloaf sandwich while Cal ordered the signature fried chicken and there wasn’t a complaint to be heard about any of it, just the opposite. Leddy’s Porch featuring a special Valentine’s Day meal for $65 a couple that includes a choice of entrees, salad, two sides, dessert and Champagne. Call ’em for times and reservations at 904/491- 3322.




Lee Stuart - 20. Feb, 2016 -

I would have liked you to name the restaurants with the health violations for your readers. We can make up our own minds what to decide about them.
Don’t understand why you hesitate to give us this public information. If it was important enough to mention there are two restaurants which were cited, it seems only fair to your readers to name them for us. You’ve never been shy before.

Richard Troxel - 07. Feb, 2016 -

Once again,I am soooooo glad I don’t live in the city limits of Fernandina Beach. I would hate to pay taxes to further the Mayor and his co-horts silliness.I am sure the state Legislatures were impressed with him and his entourage of smelly bikers.

Christine Harmon - 05. Feb, 2016 -

Thank you, Dave, for letting me know reincarnation is real. Given your views on business, the environment, and social programs, you must have been a “Robber Baron” in one of your past lives.

“The Goldfish” - 05. Feb, 2016 -

Hey Dave, we are having a manatee barbecue soon, what is your best recipe? Also, we want to have turtle egg cake, would you mind sharing that recipe too?

The barbecue will be in the parking lot at Ft. Clinch, and after that, thanks to your buddy Rick Scott, we all are going on a hunt in the park. There are many deer to be had, and I have a big hankering for Gopher Tortoise soup (again, I would love your recipe).

On behalf of our community, I want to thank you for standing your ground against those who want to limit paving, tree-cutting and McMansions on the beach. It is appalling that our Mayor wants to protect our environment at the expense of all the money makers. Afterall, where are all of the tourists going to go if we don’t have enough condos and parking lots?

Way to go Dave, enlightened and astute as usual, so completely in touch with the reality of our community!

Steven Crounse - 05. Feb, 2016 -

Dave ,First off Groucho’s most famous line, to all listeners of his show, from that very desk was, and you know it as well as I. “You Bet Your Life” I’m sure you watched it with your parents as did I. So the premise of your argument is flawed to begin with. Why Do you constantly rail against anyone, especially Mayor Miller for his concern with our Environment? Our whole economy on this Island is predicated on it. It Isn’t a Conservative, or Progressive thing, It’s real, and should have the attention of ever human being even you Dave. Have you been to any of the City Commission meeting? Mayor Miller, is handling the meetings in a professional manner, and to my way of thinking , the needs, and priorities of this community, are being handled in a most professional manner, By the Mayor and all the Commissioners. What a breath of fresh air, to see them all working together as a team. We are in a much better place today with our City Governance, than in a very long time. I think the “good old boy” mentality, is finally at an end, and not soon enough for our future needs on this Island. Dave, open your eyes to what’s happening to our environment. I know it’s hard to see from your bar stool, but really, we do need folks like Johnny Miller as stewards of the Earth. Please be part of the solution, Not part of the problem. Start using that powerful pen for good.

Joe Murphy - 05. Feb, 2016 -

Dave did we miss the sliiiiiimmmmeee in the DC area? Next month we can do a beer lunch on St. Pat’s.