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 Marina Awash In Debt & Double Talk; Area Trump Supporters Rally By Land, Sea & Air

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.

Tweedlee Ross and Tweedlee Martin

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 info@fernandinabeachmainstreet.com.”

***

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?

The Chamber’s chambers paid for with members 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?

***

Part of the Trump crowd at the corner of Sadler and 8th Street last Saturday, Sept. 5.

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.”

Rally organizers (l to r) Carolyn Cook, Amanda Borghese and Susan Koehler pause for a photo with me during Saturday’s event.

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.

***

This……..

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?”

……..or this!

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.

  • Comment (27)
  • Ross has my vote , as I’d rather not see our town suffer any more racial trouble than it already has. BLM has done NOTHING to help racial issues, only made it worse.

    Main Street needs to be DEFUNDED, as it has NEVER done anything the City could not do. Main Street has been trouble from the day it arrived.

    Johnny Miller, Mayor, is also on record for telling his followers to not shop at Fernandina businesses that support the president. What an idiot. This is the kind of crap that lefty liberals provide as leaders. Shooting our own town in the foot just for some far away political gain is not what our town needs.

  • Dawn Tiura and Johnnie Miller are two people that may just get what they wish. If this nation wakes up on November 4th. With a Senile Socialist President, a half-Jamaican/half-White Vice President. Chuck Schumer as President if the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House shopping on Main Street will go away. You will shop where told to, buy what you are told to, work where you are told to. Your freedoms as you know will go away. The Domestic Terrorist Groups of BLM and ANTIFA will roam your neighborhood. The “Woke” naive white girls that suck up to BLM will just become a group of sex toys. Prove me wrong on any of this.

  • Dawn Tiura and Johnnie Miller are two people that may just get what they wish. If this nation wakes up on November 4th. With a Senile Socialist President, a half-Jamaican/half-White Vice President. Chuck Schumer as President if the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House shopping on Main Street will go away. You will shop where told to, buy what you are told to, work where you are told to. Your freedoms as you know will go away. The Domestic Terrorist Groups of BLM and ANTIFA will roam your neighborhood. The “Woke” naive white girls that suck up to BLM will just become a group of sex toys. Prove me wrong on any of this.

  • Another GREAT one !! I am a former employee of a Chamber of Commerce (asst to the president of my chamber) and understand your comments. Feel like chambers of commerce along with the United Nations have seen there day of contributing anything much to our nation.

    Just love your remarks every Friday. Keep it up !!

    TRUMP 2020 !!!!!

  • Crazy behavior by the Chamber . Just as bad are the corporations that contribute to BLM, a marxist organization that wants to destroy capitalism. Lots of dumb people in charge these days.

  • This is no place for racist comments. Characterizing someone’s familial heritage as a precursor to their capabilities and their societal position is appalling.

  • Once again, fair and balanced? This is a pro Trump only blog. So no other view point but your own is okay? I love all the name calling, everyone is dumber, more pompous, more stupid than you? Who died and made you god? How about trying to bridge the divide instead of widening it? Scared of a young black man on the council? Are you racist? Enough divisiveness, this is ridiculous.

  • Racial Equality Now, the group that illegally blocked Ash and Centre St downtown during their protest, has three members on the Main Street Board: Arlene Filkoff, Dawn Tiura, and Genece Minshew. Minshew is running for city commissioner in group 2 along with Alexandra Lajoux, also a member of Racial Equality Now. Wendall McGahee, who also participated in the protest and wants to see more protests, is running for city commissioner in group 3. It is because these leftists/marxists groups make a concerted effort to involve themselves in all aspects of city government that we end up with groups like Main Street USA, which needs to be defunded immediately. These groups represent the minority in this city, but the majority in city government. Be careful who you vote for.

  • While the name calling is a little heavy, I respect your point of view. I actually agree with you on a lot of what you wrote. I look forward to reading it from now on.

  • Thanks for taking the time and effort to put out a nice weekly blog. I enjoy reading about local happenings and yes, I realize you are conservative but not a fearful one. People who don’t want to read your Trump slant shouldn’t complain, they know how you feel. We are all aloud freedom of speech and you exercise yours in a professional manner. Thank You!

  • It doesn’t require much insight to see that many people, including the blogger and some who have responded here, are quite content to complain, criticize, and denigrate while offering nothing in the way of solutions. One can only assume then that leaving the marina “as is” after hurricane Matthew was the preferred choice. One can also assume that with regards to racial equality, the “status quo” is preferred. I mean, how dare BLM and Equality Now say otherwise. In the meantime, the fact that recent DHS draft documents have stated that white supremacist groups pose the greatest domestic threat to national security goes largely ignored.

  • Richard:

    I see that remark on sites like CNN and Politico. Can you give me a cite to access the original of the DHS report that says that? Thanks

  • Is there a National Chamber of Commerce or are you referring to the US Chamber of Commerce? Just curious. Why do we need out of town groups to use our streets for Trump demonstrations. Have you ever respected anything about Fernandina except smoked mullet dip?

  • Wonderful Friday blog.
    Sherry please help us close the divide !
    Educate me on at least 2 of your parties platform that will help me change my mind.
    I choose, t o help you out, Amendment # 1 and # 2 .I’m for both.
    And yes because the Democratic platform tells me ,I am probably a Western European Irish American racist, who served proudly this great country. Bring it on.

  • Richard:
    Thanks for the reference. I read it and would encourage everyone to read the 9.9.20 statement of the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf. The statement is a very detailed list of the accomplishments of the Trump Administration’s DHS and the list of challenges to come. The only reference I could find in the statement to white supremacy was:
    Let me be clear – DHS stands in absolute opposition to any form of violent extremism. Whether by white supremacist extremists or anarchist extremists. We will continue our daily efforts to combat all forms of domestic terror.

    So, Richard, was their another source for your allegation that:
    White supremicist groups pose the greatest domestic threat to national security? 

  • As usual, certain white people blame all BLM protesters for the criminality of the stupid minority of criminals who loot and destroy communities. Meanwhile, these same white people totally ignore and deny the basic issues of brutality and profiling by a certain group, albeit a distinct minority, of fellow white people who have been given the authority and duty to protect and serve the ENTIRE community, not just the community of their own color. These whities want all the people of color to just shut up, and be grateful that they are allowed to integrate into the “white community”. Sorry white people, slavery is not just actual bondage, but the imposition of rule by one race over another…and that is the attitude and belief, that justifies abuse. On a side note, I will not be giving my U.S. dollars to any business that thinks their blatent support of Trump somehow makes their business more deserving of my money. Apparently, they are doing very well without the financial support of people like me. I just don’t want them to whine and moan about their business’s financial health, while they arrogantly flaunt their political bent with no regard to others political sentiments. I also vote with my wallet.

  • The upcoming vote in our town is very important or we will end up with more lunatics like Johnny Miller. It appears that FB leadership has been taken over by left wingers. It’s a hippy town now and looks similar to the left wing town we already fled. My votes will be for Chip Ro$$ (yes he’s pompous and over spends but his opponent wants to riot and burn the town down).
    Bradley Bean and Dave Sturges (Sturges is particularly important because LaJoux and Minshew are radical leftists) Your vote is very important this year, please don’t vote for more radicals who want to boycott businesses and destroy the town through over spending and raising property taxes. On a side note, I have been visiting and spending money at local businesses that support Trump. I have ZERO tolerance for political bigotry in any form and neither should any of us. These business owners are our neighbors. It’s unthinkable and Un-American to practice political bigotry and hatred for expressing one’s personal beliefs for a candidate. I’ve seen a few BLM signs around town and you don’t see me or anyone ripping them out of the ground or boycotting those businesses. It’s grotesque and let’s stop it.

  • Mr. Coleman Langshaw overlooks the Marxist and revolutionary credo espoused by the BLM Movement. I think. MLK showed the way, BLM has lost it. I hope the true goal of equal justice under the law emerges triumphant from the ashes of revolution. On a side note, expressing a political viewpoint does not deprive you of yours, boycotting and descriminating against people with whom you disagree only creates more division. A divided house cannot stand.

  • Trump 2020! So this Main Street Group, who is funding them. Not my tax dollars
    I hope. And if anyone can give us a list of businesses supporting our President I will gladly shop there.

  • Are you boycotting that American company Goodyear Tires like I asked you to?

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