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 Beach’s Hair-Cutting & Hot Dog “Angel” In Battle With City’s Extortionist Thugs To Keep Her Businesses Open

Colleen Angel, the owner of Fernandina Beach’s immodestly named “Amelia’s Best Barbershop,” is being told by the city of Fernandina that she’s the one who’ll be “taking a haircut” if she insists on putting any kind of seating in the parking lot or interior of her Hillbilly Hot Dog eatery and adds signs advertising her business.

Ms. Angel’s’ barbershop is at 1951 South 8th Street while her Hillbilly Hotdog joint is a few blocks away at 401 South 8th Street.

The Hillbilly Hotdog joint boasts a food truck in the parking lot and retail space inside, but no seating for customers or employees in or out.

The city is extorting Ms. Angel up to $500 per seat, the price of the town’s per seat capacity/impact fee shakedown rate. The city says she either pays up or her customers eat standing up inside and out. “Katie bar the door” if the city’s code enforcement thugs catch someone sitting down eating a hot dog.

The $4,000 bench!

Ms. Angel put a wooden picnic table in the parking lot where she parks her hot dog food wagon  kitchen. She told the city that the table was for her employees to sit during breaks, not for customers. The city doesn’t care. That’ll be $4,000 or $500 per seat  thank you. And since it accommodates eight 24-inch seats the city’s extortion department goons would stop by at least once a week to ensure nobody was using it, explained Ms. Angel while cutting my hair recently. “I finally sold it for a buck to the tattoo parlor next door,” she said.

She sells her hot dogs for prices ranging from $5 to $18 depending what’s on them and the sides. So she’d have to sell more than 800 $5 hot dogs to pay the city’s coercion rate and pay for the picnic table seating and that’s before  any markup and her overhead.

She’s also had a kerfuffle with the city over the banner she put up advertising her hot dog joint’s opening in January. She was told the banner could only stay up a month announcing the opening, then it had to come down. Traffic along 8th Street doesn’t know she’s there unless they’re looking for the place.

I haven’t talked to a single Fernandina Beach business owner who has anything good to say about the city and its treatment of local business owners. Just the opposite. These bumbling bureaucrats throw up barrier after barrier designed to trip up local entrepreneurs. Then they pick their pockets to hire more thieves, seek bigger offices for their bloated staffs, buy new vehicles or any other shiny object that strikes their fancy. They have no idea or do they care that the people they’re plundering are the same ones they’re supposed to be working for and pay their salaries. Ms. Angel is no exception, In fact she’s one of the few not afraid to speak up despite the city’s repeated intimidation efforts attempting to prevent her from succeeding. What do these city employee tell their neighbors or family members they do for a living? Are they the least bit embarrassed or ashamed?

Local conservative activists Pat Keogh and Glen Stettler wrote about the perils of Ms. Angel in a March 10 and March 22 News Leader opinion editorial describing the put upon entrepreneur while explaining that the city’s goons act without regard for the well-being of its residents and calling the city a “criminal enterprise.” The critical duo and I have consistently called for state intervention to put an end to the harassment and shakedowns.

Pompous gasbag Commissioner Chip Ross had a piece on the same News Leader page March 22 defending the city extortionists. In it he says that those folks publicly criticizing the city’s strongarm tactics are the crooks and should stop. He says the city’s paid consultants tell them what they are doing is perfectly OK. Pay them enough I suppose, and they’ll say whatever you want them to say. He adds that he sent all articles he finds offensive to a laundry list of state and federal agencies including the FBI.

In the meantime, Ms. Angel runs her hair cutting and hot dog business in spite of the city’s pricy roadblocks. It’s not easy for her as she’s a single mom raising two teenagers, so there’s not a lot of extra cash laying around.

Call her for a haircut at 904/540-9109 and at 904/432-7627 to order a few dogs to go.

***

“Don’t worry I’ve called the FBI.”

Speaking Of Outrageous City Officials: My pajama-clad eccentric good friend Dave Voorhees, owner of PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden at 12 South 2nd Street, tells me that City Commissioner Chip Ross stopped him on the street the other day and asked: “Has your friend Dave Scott been contacted by the FBI yet?

The Commissioner didn’t explain to Dave why the FBI may want to contact me, and Dave didn’t ask. However, as mentioned above Ross has contacted the FBI and suggested or asked that they contact me Pat Keogh and Glen Stettler, two other fierce critics of the city. I’m assuming our alleged crime is criticizing the inept and corrupt city government and pompous gasbags like Ross. “Roundup the usual suspects,” Ross bellows.

I’ve looked, but so far our “Wanted” posters are still not appearing at the post office or online that I’m aware of. Maybe their agents are too busy trying to throw road blocks in front of Donald Trump’s run for office,  investigating the PTA’s “domestic terrorists”, looking for more phony baloney charges to file against the January 6 crowd, etc.

***

Speaking Of Chip Ross: A couple weeks ago I listed brief profiles of the folks each Fernandina Beach City Commissioner appointed to the committee to aid in the search for a new city manager. I listed Chip Ross’s selection as a “Democrat activist.” I was mistaken. And I got an earful about it from both the commissioner and his wife, Faith. They blasted me for calling their selection a Democrat. This time they were right, in fact as far right as the individual that Ross actually appointed. Following is the background summary that Ross’s appointee, Margaret Davis, provided to set me straight:

“Here is a brief description of my relevant background to assist in countering Dave Scott’s erroneous description of me,” wrote Ms. Davis. “I have included several things that highlight the depth of my GOP beliefs and roots as well as my educational and professional highlights because my fiscal conservativism has always been core to my path since high school. George Mason University’s economics program is known for being one of the most free market curricula and I really want to show how inaccurate Mr. Scott’s description of me is.

The material I received adds that Ms. Davis is a registered and active Republican. After earning her Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University, she served as legislative aide and chief economist for U. S. Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) where she helped him champion fiscally conservative and free-market policies.” Impressive.

OK, I admit, I was sloppy in my reporting and was wrong in mislabeling Ms. Davis. Sorry ma’am. That leaves one big question unanswered. How did a lady with such impressive credentials get mixed up with a scoundrel like Ross?

***

Pornography & Schools: During a briefing earlier this month Governor Ron DeSantis didn’t just rhetorically defend Florida’s measures to remove pornographic material from schools. He actually showed what was being removed on live television. That forced the news organizations that have criticized him to have to cut their feeds.

If I linked to the same material Governor DeSantis demands be removed for our elementary schools I could be accused of distributing pornographic materials, that’s how disgustingly graphic the material is the governor warned parents about and demanded be removed from Florida elementary schools.

What better way for DeSantis to make his point than that? If this garbage can’t be shown to adults on television, why should it be available to kids in schools? Where do the media go now? The only option they have left is to defend the pornographic materials shown by DeSantis or admit that he’s right.

And he is right. Despite what all the left-wing freaks out there preach, there is no justification for publicly funded pornography for children in schools, ever! That such a thing is controversial shows how truly deranged Democrats have become. Do you trust these people with your children? I know I wouldn’t.

***

Tours Of Duty In Iraq, Afghanistan & Jacksonville: A friend I have a beer with occasionally operates heavy and intricate equipment used in the paving of roads. His job takes him to a variety of neighborhoods, some not too friendly. This normally good natured and muscular young man served tours with the U.S. Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where he describes being targeted and shot at three times. However, while performing his job with the company contracted to manage the paving operations in Jacksonville, he has so far counted being shot at least five times he is aware of.

I’ve lived on Amelia Island for a number of years and rarely travel into Jacksonville because I consider it a dangerous city as well as one with few attractions worth visiting. It’s reputation as the crime capital of Florida is well-earned. Just look at the evening news any night of the week. The lead stories invariably revolve around the latest shooting, carjacking, robbery, etc.

***

Speaking Of Dangerous Cities: The Wall Street Journal reports that San Francisco Mayor London Breed, last July cut $120 million from police and sheriff department budgets. Four hundred police officers were let go. No surprise, the paper says that looting and crime took off. Last month Ms. Breed asked for a budget supplement to “help fund police overtime caused by the severe police staffing shortage.” How stupid are folks living in San Francisco that they keep voting for these idiots and then whine about the results?

***

Iraq 20 Years Later: Local author and national columnist and commentator Ken Timmerman reminds us that this is the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. His column in Front Page Magazine on the subject can be found at https://www.frontpagemag.com/the-gulf-war-20-years-later/.

***

Educational Opportunity: Jack Knocke, Executive Director of the Nassau County chapter of Concerned Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF), says his group is offering a free online course called Biblical Citizenship. It begins Monday, March 27 at  6 pm.

Knocke, says: “I can tell you from personal experience that this is one of the most impactful series of classes that you will ever see. Rick Green, David Barton, and Kirk Cameron are captivating presenters giving you a rare look into our founding documents, biblical influences, patriot pastors, and what it takes to preserve and protect our country. The knowledge gained through this course is key to restoring values, protecting our community, and saving our country.”

See a video trailer at  https://vimeo.com/495072605  and Click here to register https://www.patriotacademy.com/coach/register/5933

  • Comment (20)
  • Maybe the hot dog stand should get a few of those “stand up” cocktail tables…..you know the kind people stand at to drink beer? Can’t charge, if they don’t sit!

  • Never feel sorry for people who vote for themselves to live in a crime-infested human cesspool. You just can’t fix stupid.

  • The letter that was sent to law enforcement:

    TO: United States Department of Justice Corruption Hotline
    DATE: 27 February 2023
    RE: Alleged “illegal enterprise”

    I have lived in Fernandina Beach for approximately 10 years. I was elected to the City Commission 5 years ago and reelected 2 years ago. I brought this matter to the attention of the City Commission at the last City Commission meeting. The Commissions’ response was to schedule a “workshop”.

    It is my belief, that if unlawful activity is occurring, it should be investigated immediately. I am acting, only representing myself, bringing this matter to your attention. I do not represent the City Commission. Personally, I have seen no evidence to suggest there is any “illegal enterprise”.

    I initially contacted the Auditor General’s office considering this matter. Derek Noonan, Audit Manager, Auditor General, of the State of Florida recommended contacting your agency if illegal activity was suspected. [See Attached e-mail]. As per that suggestion, I am contacting your office.

    I have also forwarded the citizens’ concerns to Josh Mead, Special Agent Supervisor of he Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Chris Huband, Deputy Director of the Nassau County States Attorney Office.
    I have attached the documentation that was sent to Chris Huband.

    The below individuals, as noted in the attached documentation, have repeatedly alleged an illegal enterprise concerning the City elected officials and staff concerning the imposition, collection, and use of impact fees and building fees.

    I have included their e-mail addresses so that you may contact them directly.
    Glen Stettler gjstettler1@verizon.net
    Patrick J. Keogh pjakeogh@gmail.com
    95032 Spring Tide Lane
    Amelia Island FL 32034
    703.790.8471
    pjakeogh@gmail.com
    David Scott davidnscott@bellsouth.net

    The City Attorney, Tammi Bach may be reached at 904-310-3275 or tbach@fbfl.org.

    If you have further questions or concerns, please let me know.

    • If the Auditor General recommends contacting law enforcement, then that is the way to go.

      On the other hand, what’s the problem with a workshop? Are lives or property in imminent danger? Are perpetrators likely to destroy evidence or flee to South America? Is the world going to end if action is delayed a few weeks?

      You haven’t seen any evidence of a crime and yet you’re reporting other people’s accusations?
      You’re just passing this gossip on as a random citizen but you “accidentally” slip your City Commissioner credentials into the letter?

      Normally, I really appreciate the energy and thoroughness in which you approach your job as commissioner. Other commissioners should follow your example. This time, however, I think you jumped the gun. A workshop or two would lead to a better understanding of the public accusations and allow for a fuller analysis of the relevant city regulations, procedures and the real life applications of those regulations.

      The City Commission should present a unified response within a reasonable time frame. Just because a few shrill voices accuse the city of wrongdoing, that doesn’t mean it is (or isn’t) true. Regulations may be unpopular or even oppressive to some, but that doesn’t necessarily make them illegal. A workshop could lead to a better analysis of impact/capacity fees and possibly lead to changes to the regulations that would encourage new businesses while FAIRLY accounting for the future burden they might impose on existing facilities.

    • Uh huh, so you thought it would be cool to attempt intimidation when you ran into named individuals? I’m sure your snide comments were received in the same manner they were given. Instead of taking the side of the residents with concerns, you want to be what? The commissioner who dismisses them for years? You know damn well that the licensing and enforcement components of the City are excessive and unnecessary, yet you’ve done ZERO about it for years. Better take advantage of your limited time left to cement your nasty, self centered legacy.

  • Ms Angel needs to purchase some cheap beach folding chairs to keep inside the stand and rent them for $1 an hour for anyone who wants to sit down and enjoy their hot dog. When finished they return them to the stand. Everybody wins!

    • My thoughts, too! And if the city gives her more grief, tell everone to bring a chair or just keep one in their trunk!!

    • Maybe a separate business renting chairs from the back of a pick up truck?
      Each chair rental comes with $ coupon redeemable at Hillbilly Hot Dogs or the barber shop.

  • Is the Ex City Mgr. still around or
    his influence on city employees
    so embedded they act as if he is.
    I thought the recent election
    would bring some fraction of
    oversight from the new city
    leaders.Guess not.
    One would wonder where the
    native Fernandina Beach State
    Senator stands on the going’s
    on in FB city government.
    Seems his silence is ominous.

  • Dave….Have been getting your Friday blog in my email for years. All of a sudden it stopped about 3 weeks ago. I have to go to your Facebook page to find it. Are you still emailing it to your list?

  • Good to see a fellow former
    Golf Club of Amelia Marshal
    I worked with still with us.
    Been awhile Dave you still
    driving Porsches? Hope you’re
    well. Call me sometime.
    Dick T. 904-556-3229

  • Apparently Dr. Ross has forgotten the old idiom “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. Everything considered, I think I would be laying low right now if I were him.

  • Damn if you do and damn if you don’t. Dave, yourself, Pat and Gene (and others) have been calling for a state investigation of the City’s processes with regards to building permit/inspection charges and impact fees for over a year with repeated assertions that the City is operating a “criminal enterprise” and criticize Chip and the other commissioners for their complicity. So Chip Ross takes the initiative and forwards all the correspondence to the state’s district attorney and FDLE/FBI and suggests they contact each of you to get more details about your “evidence. So now the ball is in their court as to whether they investigate the allegations or not, but you criticize Chip for that action as well by making it sound like he is siccing law enforcement on you. You can’t have it both ways.
    Rather be a sycophant than a psychopath so fire away.

    • I missed the part where he CC:ed the named individuals when he “sent” his letter… Did you see it?

    • Yeah, no ill intent from Ross at all… (insert eye roll) Obviously, he didn’t ask them for an investigation into the City. Are those the agencies that would conduct an audit? Didn’t think so. Nice try Lott… (insert another more intense eye roll)

    • Ross’s action is typical of the stunts and harrassment he routinely delivers…he is an embarrassment and hindrance to progress in this city.

  • So if the city is going to charge Ms. Angel $500 for each seat on an employee break time picnic table, they had damn well better go to each and every business inside the city limits and charge each and every one of them $500 for each and every seay used by an employee during their break time! Seriously? This city has gone so far to the left and is doing everything in it’s power to drive away business owners and citizens alike! This city is quickly becoming a lost cause! So damn sad. We have lost our little slice of heaven to corrupt, greedy inept POS’s in our so called local government!

  • Ahhh good ole’ Fernandina Beach code enforcement. Michelle Forstrom, Chip Wells and whoever their admin is now. They may as well shut it down because none of them add value to Fernandina Beach. They’re either harassing people over silly stuff like picnic tables or refusing to enforce real problems in neighborhoods and wasting people’s time and money. Eliminate them already.

  • I don’t know all the details, but it looks like Tim Poynter may have discovered the magic formula for avoiding the Seat Tax.

    When he opened Timoti’s in 2012, he avoided (much of) the seat tax by claiming he was operating a takeout restaurant “with no table Service”. His application also stated that there “would be some seating for customers that chose to eat on premises.” Timoti’s was also given a small impact fee “credit” due to “previous retail use” at that location. When City Manager Joe Gerrity was asked to investigate, he found that the city did the same thing for Tastys, Toppings and Little Caesars. Unfortunately, I can’t find additional details for 2011-2012 on the city web site.

    When they first opened, and for many years thereafter, Timoti’s had about 10 indoor seats. They also had a half dozen large picnic tables right outside their door with seating for 40 or more people. I assume that the impact fee “credit” was applicable to the small, pre-existing, indoor space, but what gives with all of the new picnic tables that were added to the adjoining patio after renovations?

    Technically, Timoti’s is all “takeout”. You order at the counter. You pay at the counter. You pick up at the counter. You fill your own drinks from the dispenser. There’s no table “service”. Everything’s on paper plates with plastic utensils. You clean up your own mess. There’s no china or silverware requiring a dishwasher (or an impact fee for water usage). The only difference I see between Timoti’s and Hillbilly Hot Dogs is about 6 picnic tables.

    Did I say magic formula? Tim is also doing something similar at the Gregor MacGregor miniature golf course a half a block to the north. It’s all takeout. (Although you might accidentally find a nearby service counter” where you could eat standing up.) Or – you could sit on a bench in the conveniently located golf course.

    By the way – what’s going on with the lot(s) just north of Gregor MacGregors? Mr. Poynter has applied to open a pickle ball pavilion with another “takeout” food counter. I wonder how much open seating in the pavilion will be available for the takeout customers.

    Please don’t misinterpret my comments. I believe Tim Poynter is playing by the rules. I just don’t understand why the city is so unhelpful to Ms. Angel. Did they give her any suggestions to help her fit her small business into the system? Maybe she should talk to Tim and get some valuable “Poynters”. He’s a nice guy and could probably help her.

  • $500 per seat is ridiculous, just like everything else Fernandina Beach Code Enforcement does. There are nightmare stories about Fernandina Beach Code Enforcement’s unprofessional tactics all over the city. Why hasn’t anyone in the city dealt with his madness? What a waste of taxpayer’s money.

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