Fernandina Beach City Manager Dale Martin is scrambling in all directions to obfuscate his ineptness and the collective incompetence of the City Commission in their handling of the FEM/Marina fiasco that has left the tax payers holding the bag for more than $15 million of debt.
That’s a lot of money folks! Divide that up among the town’s 5,451 Fernandina Beach tax paying households that the city has saddled with this debt. That’s on top of the other taxes this free-spending City Commission says property owners here owe city hall.
All those official marina forms that Martin says were signed off on by FEMA were just worksheets, not official documents. My wise on-the-ground and close-to-the-action source and correspondent who knows more than most about such things says: “Martin’s insistence that the signed forms were somehow an implied FEMA commitment is pure bunk and bad news for him if FEMA denies the appeal.”
Martin obviously has a selective memory–on Nov 2, 2018 (three months after the $6.5 M Fender contract award) he said: “The FEMA estimate has been completed and wending its way toward final signature”.
He knew then that the signed forms were not final but decided to assume $6.5 million of new debt betting that the estimate would be approved. He bet our money on the wrong horse even though he was warned that the estimate would likely need a downward adjustment.
The estimators FEMA hires are just that – contractual estimators! They are contractors, not FEMA employees. They are not empowered to make commitments for FEMA.
FEMA is quite clear that all claims must be supported by applicant-supplied documentation and that FEMA bears no responsibility for providing applicant documentation.
Any supporting documentation should have been acquired and documented by the city when the estimate was prepared. FEMA will deny any responsibility for what Martin claims is a “lost document”.
Martin is laying the foundation to claim his actions were reasonable, and even approved, by the city commissioners—just in case the appeal fails, leaving the city’s tax payers stuck with a $15 million marina debt.
His sidekick and unofficial city spokesman, Commissioner Chip Ross, is also preparing the ground, saying “the people forced us” and “we are where we are” — no fault here.
In a News Leader interview this past Wednesday, September 9, Ross patted himself on the back over the debt-ridden marina debacle saying: “The marina is essentially rebuilt and I’m proud of that.”
He admitted that he is the one “who recruited the project manager (Bronson Lamb) who was hired by the city as project manager for the repairs and upgrades to the facility.”
He then added: “We have to pay for that, and we can pay for the marina. We need to spread the debt over 20 years, but there is a way forward….”
TwedleeMartin and TweedleeRoss are not skilled in this arena and went forward on bad advice. Now they’re doing a “There’s nothing to see here” song and dance to cover it up.
They rolled the dice and the Fernandina Beach tax payers got screwed big time.
Boycotter Bolts: Last Friday I reported here that a conflicted Main Street board member, Dawn Tiura, declared on social media that she doesn’t shop at Fernandina Beach stores that display pro-Trump signs or sell pro-Trump goods and suggested others boycott them as well. Her stance was the exact opposite of what Main Street is paid to do by the local businesses community. She also admitted she refused to frequent Sliders beachfront restaurant and bar because it won’t show televised NFL games.
Ms. Tiura announced earlier this week that she has resigned from Fernandina Beach’s Main Street Board where she also served as that organization’s treasurer.
In her resignation statement she said: “I have resigned from the Main Street Board because I care deeply for the work that they do and don’t want them further denigrated due to my reluctance to shop at a place that has a Trump-Pence sign. I am also sick and tired of the small-minded people who cast aspirations and yet don’t volunteer themselves. Quit threatening me and my family. I will go to the police if this continues.”
I’m unaware of any threats to her and her family. If true they are unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated. Anyone making such threats should be reported to the authorities and appropriate action taken.
In the future the Main Street Board should better vet its board members ensuring they are committed to free enterprise and support local merchants no matter what the business owner’s political persuasion.
Arlene Filkoff, the executive director of Main Street, sent me a Main Street statement that announced the resignation to the organization’s members and reiterated the group’s mission, while detailing some of its past accomplishments.
The statement said in part: “Recently, a board member of the Main Street organization made comments on social media which are not consistent with our mission. She has been a very active member of our board, a financial contributor, and a business owner in her own right. Her comments have been received negatively and in recognition of the damage those comments might do to the Main Street organization, she has resigned. We thank her for her contributions.”
“We have a great deal of work in front of us and we are busy with promotions for downtown to assist our businesses through the Pandemic as well as to prepare for the holiday season. If anyone is interested in helping out, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Chamber Missing In Action: During my years here, I’ve noticed that throughout any local business brouhaha, the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce is conspicuous by its absence. At the first sign of a controversy local chamber officials disappear like silverfish scurrying under the refrigerator when the kitchen light’s flipped on, only to reappear for fund raisers, at dues paying time, or when brow beating new businesses to join their organization.
Other than an occasional reception featuring rubbery cheese cubes, cheap wine, and stale crackers, what the heck does the local chamber hereabouts provide to the area business community and what do members get for their annual dues?
I personally have issues with the local Chamber. As editor, writer, publisher, advertising manager, etc. of the annual parody newspaper The Amelia Island News Wrecker I provided the chamber’s office here a stack of 50 of the newspapers last year to offer to their visitors. The free tabloid, which is chock-a-block full of advertisements from Chamber members as well as Shrimp Festival schedules and Sounds on Centre’s times and lineups, contains no profanity or sexual innuendo. An eight-year-old can chuckle over it with his or her Quaker granny.
A couple of days after dropping the papers off I was contacted by a local chamber official who told me she had removed the papers from their offices and she was returning them. “Why?” I asked. “Because you aren’t a chamber member!” she curtly responded. And I never will be after that. Several of my business-owning friends have expressed similar sentiments saying there are no benefits to being a member of this organization and they will never join.
Nationally the Chamber is hemorrhaging members across the country who are furious with many of the organizations recent positions. The national Chamber of Commerce has come under fire taking heat recently from Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel last Friday (September 4) in a column headlined “Chamber of Errors.”
Ms. Strassel says the national organization is intentionally engaging in acts that undermine its reason for existence including helping re-elect 23 House Democrats who have voted against business interests such as abolishing right-to-work acts, a $15 federal minimum wage plus more such anti-commerce nonsense. Ms. Strassel says letters are pouring in from members who are irate and threatening to quit because of the chamber’s actions.
She says the national chamber’s leadership is “bowing to political correctness” with its web site focusing on such drivel as climate change, “Woman’s Equality Day”, an art installation celebrating Black Lives Matter, and so on. “Good luck,” she says, “finding a policy paper on the economic cost of higher gasoline costs (a levy the chamber supports these days.)”
In a nutshell the chamber is now run by anti-business nuts and sucking up to those folks that want to close down their membership’s livelihood.
Why would any business financially support this organization or its current positions?
Trump Rallies: Supporters of President Trump were visible on land, sea and in the air this past weekend all across Amelia Island.
More than 100 Trump supports turned out in 92-degree heat Saturday, Sept. 5 on the corners of Sadler and 8th Street to wave banners and signs signaling their support for the President’s re-election. The rally was met with enthusiasm from passing motorists throughout the two hours, with frequent honking, waving, and cheers of support.
Local folks from 8 to 82, waved American flags and signs that read “Support the Police” and “Women for Trump”, among others. They were joined by delegates from Jacksonville-based Asian Pacific Americans for Trump and Filipino-American Republicans of Northeast Florida, as well as a number of military veterans. Professional opera singer and resident of Fernandina Beach, Mary Aiello, sang the Star-Spangled Banner to kick off the Rally. She had been slated to perform the National Anthem at the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville.
“We’re energized by the phenomenal turnout and enthusiastic support we received,” said Amanda Borghese, rally organizer and co-founder of the Office to Re-Elect the President in Nassau County. “We hope that our display of positive, peaceful political activism will encourage people to vote Republican. Conservatives can no longer be content with being a “silent majority.”
A Trump boat rally attracted well over 100 boats decked out in Trump banners and flags passed through the Intracoastal waterway attracting cheers from onlooker onshore Monday, September 7, including close to 100 at the Old Town Park.
During the long Labor Day weekend an airplane paid for by local Trump Supporters dragged a “Trump 2020 -The best is yet to come!” banner up and down the island’s 13 miles of beaches. It is scheduled for every Saturday until October 31, weather permitting.
The next Trump Rally will be September 19th at 9:30 at the same location, the corners of Sadler and 8th Street. Signs will be available to buy or borrow in front of the Beach Street Diner. The rally will last about two hours. This rally will feature “Black Voices For Trump”, a group from Jacksonville.
Residents who want to volunteer for the Trump campaign can contact the Office to Re-Elect the President, to find out more about our future line-up of activities. Amanda Borghese and Susan Koehler are co-founders of the Office to Re-Elect the President, Nassau County located at 5422 First Coast Highway, Amelia Island. They can be contacted at (973) 220-3111 or (703) 967-6789 or by visiting the facility.
A Sign Of The Times: Local neighborhood Internet sites are filled with comments about people stealing Trump signs, with the most recent one I saw saying: “For the second time someone has stolen all the Trump signs in the Isle of Palms neighborhood. They left the Biden signs which makes it obvious that the perps were Democrats.”
Friends of mine along Fletcher say all of their “Support The Police” signs have been taken as well as their Trump signs.
Biden signs seem to stay put. These sign stealing twits are like the dim-witted kid on Halloween who painted every mailbox on his street red but his own.
Florida Democrats Switching Sides: Do you know anyone who has gone from supporting Donald Trump in 2016 to supporting the decrepit basement-dwelling weirdo in 2020? I don’t. Not one! Nobody!
However, the numbers going from Democrat to Republican are significant. I received statistics from the Trump Club of St. Johns County that it released September 3, saying that Florida Voter Registration totals last month indicate Democrats lost numbers over the last 25 days in 25 FL Counties. They said Republicans produced higher registrations in 60 of the 67 Florida counties with total new registration numbers in Florida showing Republicans adding 80,484 new voters compared to the Democrats 45,865.
The wheels have come off the wobbly Biden campaign. The evidence is clear. Blacks are refusing to fall into line behind the Democrats and significant numbers are abandoning his sinking ship. Hispanics are rejecting Democrats. Suburbanites are realizing that electing the withered plagiarist with a 47-year track record of failure means defunded cops, political crooks, and riots and looting in their neighborhoods. And Biden promises to increase their taxes as their 401(k)s tank, the latter not mattering much since the Democrat platform/manifesto promises to trash their retirement savings program.
Chicken Chickens: Based on its recent decision to eliminate its decades old tagline “finger-lickin’ good” it’s obvious that a few of the Colonel’s dimmest chickens escaped the bucket and ended up in the board room. Why? Apparently the chickens caved in to political correctness out of absurd adherence to the Covid-19 anxiety. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never once seen a diner in any restaurant, including KFC, lickin’ anybody’s fingers but their own. Have you?
“Suffering Succotash!” Does anyone else find it embarrassing that one of our national leaders — the Speaker of the House — Nancy Pelosi — has a problem with her upper plate slipping whenever she speaks? Every time she open her mouth I expect her to say: “Where is dat wascal wabbit?” Isn’t there something she can do about that loose upper plate? When she’s not doing an impression of Elmer Fudd, this leader of one of the country’s major American political parties sounds like Sylvester, the cartoon cat who spits and lisps.
Speaking Of Policians: In the Group 2 Fernandina Beach City Commission race there are two candidates running — incumbent Chip Ross and political newcomer Wendall McGahee. The choice is like asking voters which they’d prefer — a sharp stick in the eye or to be set on fire.
McGahee is a Black Lives Matter activist who during the BLM march here earlier this summer told News Leader reporter Julia Roberts that he hoped the protest/march would initiate change adding: “Rioting is what happens when you turn a deaf ear to people. Marching downtown is great, but this needs to be ongoing and constant. Something needs to happen. We want change, but will it ever come?”
Ross is a pompous, self-righteous, know-it-all spend thrift. But I can’t bring myself to vote for McGahee, a 25-year-old activist obsessed with identity politics who supports the violent Marxist BLM rabble.
His rhetoric makes me extremely uncomfortable. He doesn’t explain what changes he wants but implies if he doesn’t get them rioting will happen.
I’ve emailed Mr. McGahee three times asking him about his involvement with BLM and have yet to receive a response. Just silence.
I’m holding my nose and voting for the pompous gasbag Ross as I’d rather listen to his blather than watch our town set ablaze by out-of-town rioters and thugs.
Speaking Of BLM: The NFL began play this week and Commissioner Roger Goodell has decided to indulge this extreme BLM group who have a political agenda to the left of most Americans including most black Americans. He’s also decided that football fans should not be allowed to watch NFL games without having left-wing propaganda rubbed in their faces. No thanks, I have paint drying that needs watching.