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 Resident Turned Government BS Into Cash Cows

Fernandina Beach resident, Harvey Slentz, is an example of a government employee who not only can sling BS, but can also profit from it as well.

Harvey Slentz

In the early 90’s, Slentz, who served as an executive manager of Louisville’s United States Postal Service (USPS) facility, demonstrated why he would be a valuable asset to any organization that employed him.

During his tenure he supervised the installation of a high-speed mail sorting system that was designed to increase accuracy and lower costs.

However, the installation process required the full-time assistance of maintenance personnel, workers who were currently involved in other tasks such as endlessly mowing acres of USPS property, a necessary task, but one that diverted their efforts away from the vital new project.

In addition the mundane task of mowing resulted in overtime at one-and one-half  times the straight time pay so Slentz’s post office team explored ways to solve both problems and came up not only with a plan to eliminate the pricy overtime issue but also a way to cash in.

After consulting with livestock owners, the postal team decided to offer the government grass to local cattle ranchers and offered them the opportunity bring their cattle into the fenced property to graze gratis. The seven-acre water retention space on the property was already fenced to keep folks from entering the property. So, the only thing the Postal Service had to do was to construct a simple structure that provided shade for the cows and put in a water trough.

The innovative idea eliminated the employee overtime; however, it resulted in an objection from the union representing the employees. According to Slentz it was determined that under the unionized labor contract, management could install technology and other means so long as it did not include substitute human labor. “This had been called the “mech and tech” provision, and now it was “mech, tech and moo,” he recalled

According to the innovative Slentz, the cost of the water trough and the sun shelter was less than $20,000 and the contented cows saved considerably more than that each mowing season.

“Not surprisingly, the bosses in this post office were subject to some teasing from colleagues in other cities,” says Slentz.  The employees, though, found it humorous, and the bulletin boards were soon peppered with good-natured notices including:  “CAUTION: Do not ‘shoot the bull’ on the West Dock area! Report any rustlers immediately!’” and more.

The public visiting the post office parking areas watched with quiet amusement as the cows slowly walked side-by-side up and down the fenced area, eating their free government grass.

“All was working well,” says Slentz. “The story about the postal cows got ‘legs’ and word spread. And a few weeks after the cows arrived, so did a contractor who collected and sold fresh natural fertilizer collected from the local zoo. His “Zoo-Poo” was in demand, and he figured he could continue to cash in by offering “Postal Poop.”

Slentz says the guy offered to collect all the cow pies, paying $1.00 for each grocery-size paper bag of manure he retrieved amounting to about $85 per pickup truck load, cash that was recorded as “miscellaneous revenue”.

The cows continued pooping “revenue” and that added to the benefit realized by the cost reductions by eliminating overtime. For a few years, the herd of cattle kept the grass trimmed and costs down. Their efforts were recognized by a T-shirt shown here that was  produced and sold by a local admirer.

Slentz served in leadership and professional roles in the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years, including 14 years in executive and CEO in several major metro areas where he led up to 5,000 employees and a small herd of cows. He is an industrial engineer and licensed attorney in three states, including Florida. He and his wife have lived on Amelia Island for the past 22 years.

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The Democrat’s Dilemma: American classicist, military historian, and political commentator, Victor Davis Hanson, is a gifted soft-spoken gentleman who, despite his understated manner, provokes respect and contemplation. He had this to say recently about the Democrat Party’s current dilemma:

“The presence of the obvious mediocrity of Kamala Harris and the impossibility, given her race and gender, of removing her as Vice President is all that keeps a cognitively declining Biden still in office.

“The Left fears what she could do as president to the Democratic Party; conservatives are terrified of what she could do to the country.

“Joe Biden’s bewilderment exempts his embarrassments from accountability in the way that Hunter Biden’s addictions excuse his past serial criminality. But the passes granted to both father and son would be now unsustainable with a viable Vice President in waiting.”

***

“Oh, is that the US national anthem they’re playing?”

Warning! Crazy People On The Loose: Lee Greenwood, who 40 years ago wrote and sang the popular country song “God Bless The USA”, warned in an opinion editorial about extremist anti-American nuts who are currently disparaging country singer Jason Aldean and his song “Try That in a Small Town” while commentator Megyn Kelly expressed the feelings of many American toward the pathetic US Women’s Soccer team’s anti-American actions.

Read Greenwood’s commentary here https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/cancel-culture-mob-attacked-jason-aldean-they-came-god-bless-usa-they-cant-cancel-all-us

I agree 100 percent with Ms. Kelly who trashed U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe for “poisoning the team” while calling the players “morons” for embarrassing the United States by refusing to sing the national anthem and displaying respect. Like Kelly, I’m hoping this group of embarrassing losers, lose. They certainly don’t represent me.

These gals barely advanced with a 0-0 draw against Portugal. And once again, the majority of the team did not sing the national anthem before that match.

Kelly contends that the 38-year-old Rapino is responsible for the deplorable attitude of the team.

“Megan Rapinoe, she’s the leader of all this. She’s not a starter. So that’s why she’s not on camera when they’re doing the national anthem, but she’s behind a lot of this,”  Kelly asserted on her show last Tuesday.

Kelly pointed out the shameful display by the team in New Zealand.

“They won’t put their hands on their hearts,” she commented. “They don’t feel prideful when they’re out there even though they’re representing the United States of America. I mean, they look like they don’t even want to be there. It’s like some sort of inconvenience to be representing the USA,” Kelly added.

Getting back to the Jason Aldean song does anybody remember the Merle Haggard song “Okie From Muskogee”? I was in the US Army when that one came out and the Vietnam war was raging. As far as I recall nobody took offense and those of us in the military at the time loved it, particularly the lyrics that declared:

We don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street
‘Cause we like livin’ right, and bein’ free

And I’m proud to be an Okie from Muskogee
A place where even squares can have a ball
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse
And white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all

Aldean’s song “Try That in a Small Town” has hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, as country songs now top the Billboard chart at Nos. 1, 2, and 3 for the first time.

***

A 24-can case for $3.99 with a $20 rebate at Amelia Island’s Harris Teeter and they still can’t sell the stuff.

Influence This! I’ve figured out what the term “influencer” means. It’s a word that describes Dylan Mulvaney, a mentally disturbed man who runs around dressed in women’s clothing and has influenced thousands of beer drinkers NOT to drink Bud Light.

If you drink Bud Light in public now your pals make fun of you, saying: “OH! You’re one of those Bud Light girly guys!” People are embarrassed to be seen buying it at store checkout counters.

“The Bud Light shopper who’s left the brand has zero interest in coming back,” says Bump Williams, a beer industry analyst and consultant. They can spend all the advertising money they want, but until they fix the problem — apologize and admit they made a mistake — it’s wasted money.”

Despite this marketing mess, transgender influencer Mulvaney is now asking people to pay him $40,000 for speaking engagements. This sad mentally deranged guy, who was influential in destroying the Bud Light brand announced his new gig on social media last weekend.

The only guy I know that is worth $40,000 to put on a dress and lecture me would be the late Flip Wilson performing as his hilarious character “Geraldine”. Wilson was incredibly funny. This Mulvaney guy is incredibly frightening and should not be allowed anywhere near kids or immature impressionable college snowflakes.

Mulvaney announced his new gig on social media, requesting opportunities to speak on college campuses. “I am booking speaking opportunities for the upcoming 23/24 school year and would love to come visit,” he wrote. Among the topics that Mulvaney speaks on includes “women’s empowerment.” Maybe it’s a standup comedy routine.

Bud Light’s disastrous decision to team up with this pathetic mental case led to a massive decline in the sales of its beer, which recently lost its position as the most-sold beer brand in the United States. Despite efforts by the company, including new marketing efforts and rebates, it has not been able to recover its market share and it keeps falling. If they’re crying they have a lot of beer left to do it in.

***

A Concerned Citizen Asks: “With so many unresolved issues (Budget, City Manager Search, etc.), how does Commissioner Ross find time to investigate garbage company routes?” The question was in response to the bombastic Ross and his pal, pretend journalist and failed Commission candidate Mike Lednovich’s pathetic attempt to shame Fernandina News Leader columnist Steve Nicklas for allegedly not paying for city trash pickup.

***

Doctor Ross prescribes more taxes!

A Wise Man Says: Gerald Decker, is a wise local resident with a doctorate in math who knows how to read a budget and pluck the wheat from the chaff. He sent the following note to the City of Fernandina Beach Commission last Friday, July 28:

“Gentlemen, well done stopping the eternal tax creep.

“As Drs. Ross and Antun opined, there are lots of important things that need doing—building repairs, crumbling downtown, seawalls, bike trails, and on and on.

“Anyone can simply jack up taxes—that takes no intelligence whatsoever!

“The real challenge is how to do what needs doing while keeping the tax burden as low as possible—and that is what they were elected to do.

“People bemoan the diminishing quality of life—well, I say life is pretty good here. We have lots of greenery, many parks, a beautiful beach, a robust Senior Center, not to mention pickle ball and tennis courts, petanque courts, a YMCA, Recreation Center with pool, over 40 restaurants, two world class resorts,  the beach, a marina, golf course, tourism that supports our local economy, our roads are well-maintained, trash is collected, water flows, and we enjoy excellent fire and police services. For a small town—not bad at all. We are fortunate—many similarly sized towns can only dream of this wealth.

“So finding the right mix of tax levy and other revenue to preserve this quality of life should be the primary focus going forward—and spending some good time brainstorming, soliciting ideas, and thinking hors du cadre is time very, very well spent. It is a no-brainer to simply raise taxes—we can do better.”

Jerry

***

Wait! What? A front-page article in the Thursday, August 3 Wall Street Journal headlined “Bad Actors in Theaters Have Left Moviegoers Annoyed” described the rudeness of folks in theaters for talking, taking selfies, making phone calls, chatting, and more.

The story detailed individual accounts of the abysmal behavior witnessed during showings of the films “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” but to me it missed a key element that reflects on the attitude of today’s young moviegoers – they are morons.

For example the WSJ reporter quoted a 29-year-old gal described as a “book publishing marketer” who actually admitted she saw the “Barbie” film not once, BUT twice! This is likely a book publishing employee who has never read a book and is not a gal any young man would want to take home to Sunday lunch to meet mom and dad.

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Overheard At PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden: “To me, ‘drink responsibly’ means don’t spill it.”

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Serial City Sycophant: Dave Lott, a fulltime resident of Atlanta who hasn’t lived in Fernandina Beach for eight or more years as far as I can recall,  never hesitates to criticize those who criticize our city government and attack the ones that do. Why? Lott, was acting city manager here prior to Joe Garrity getting the fulltime job so maybe his nose is still out of joint about not landing the gig. Anyway I understand he’s a bureaucrat at the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta but apparently doesn’t have much to do there as he has ample time in his schedule to write lengthy comments on various social media pages hereabouts voicing his cranky opinions about a place where he no longer lives. Maybe he’s angling for the vacant city manager position.

  • Comment (9)
  • In addition to Commissioner Ross finding time to investigate garbage company routes, it appears (per reporting in the NewsLeader), that he also found time to contact Brett’s Restaurant insurance company. Brett’s is characterizing this effort to cause cancellation of the insurance or to cause the cost to be increased. These are intentional acts. The first (“Garbage Gate”) was done to damage the reputation of a critic. The second is to potentially obstruct operations and profitability of a local business. The Florida Code of Ethics prohibits local government officers from using information obtained through their public position, yet no one has contacted the Commission on Ethics to complain about these acts of intimidation. https://www.ethics.state.fl.us/Documents/Forms/Complaint%20Form.PDF?cp=202384

  • Dave:
    I haven’t been back to Subway since they embraced the purple-haired, anti-American Rapinoe in their promotions. I’m a Firehouse Subs guy now.

  • “THIS AND THAT”
    1) Jason Aldean and Hall of Famer Chipper Jones are hunting and fishing buddies. The country singer, a very good prep ball player from around the Macon area, was invited to work out with the Braves during Spring Training 2012. A publicity stunt and not a “tryout.”
    (2)Nassau County is currently the 65th fastest growing county in Anerica.
    (3) I live a 5-iron golf shot from Steve Nicklas through the woods across Egans Creek. I have never met him. Fernandina Beach has unusual “City Limit” boundaries. I’ve watched the garbage trucks back down this one lane gravel road (Dunewood) for almost 13 years now not realizing one side is in the city, one side the county. Yes, crazy.
    Finally Dave…That was a pretty “sh$tty story this week! Good read.

  • Patrick Keogh. Same here. No Subway sandwiches and I only buy Pepsi after MLB pulled the All-Star Game from Atlanta and Coca Cola supported the move in 2021. My one person protest.

  • Thanks, Dave, for reminding me of the very funny Flip Wilson and the amusing characters he invented for his popular, early seventies show. In addition to Geraldine Jones and her boyfriend, Killer, there was the Reverend Leroy, Pastor of the Church of What’s Happening Now. The Rev, as Wilson phrased him, made some sound theological observations, such as: “Far easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to draw into an inside straight.” Nor did he neglect secular matters. For example, he explained why lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. The reason being, “cuz the same place ain’t there the second time.” Just so. There was also the ladies man, Freddie Johnson, and the invisible dog, whose name I can’t recall. Very funny stuff — with no blue material — from a simpler time.

  • Dave, regarding Harvey Slentz, a credit to this community as well as a credit (possibly the the only one in history) to efficiency and entrepreneurial activity within the United States Postal Service. I note this from your article: his plan “…resulted in an objection from the union representing the employees… it was determined that under the unionized labor contract, management could install technology and other means so long as it did not include substitute human labor.” But of course it did, unions being the Business Prevention Department of every industry they manage to latch their slimy tentacles onto. It reminds me of the story of Milton Friedman and the spoons (https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/milton-friedman-shovels-vs-spoons-story/) as well as the somewhat apocryphal yet still instructive history of the Luddites. That Mr. Sientz accomplished what he managed to do under the circumstances speaks volumes about his talents.

  • Dave, as I have said before, better a sycophant than a sociopath! To update you with some facts, I returned to my position as a management consultant in financial services upon the end of my interim City Manager stint and strongly supported Joe Gerrity as to took over the reigns of the City. Later that year I had the opportunity to join the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as a payments risk analyst taking advantage of my 35+ years of experience in financial services. After 10+ years at the Fed, I retired earlier this year and am thoroughly enjoying retirement. Our 13 years in Fernandina Beach was wonderful and we will always hold dear our time there. With all our adult kids and seven grandkids in the metro Atlanta area, we have no desire to move but will continue to visit often. We still feel an attachment to the community and I will continue to “defend” city employees from one-sided attacks as yours with factual information and not the personal attacks you lodge.
    All the best.

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