A crisis that has been simmering in Fernandina Beach’s Building Department is boiling over.
When I began commenting here a few weeks ago about complaints directed at Fernandina Beach’s Building Department, examples confirming the coercion, overcharges, incompetence and outright deception started flowing into my email inbox.
Results of a Nassau County Chamber of Commerce City Building Department survey are even more disturbing than the examples of the department’s abuse, bungling and bullying I’ve been receiving.
The print News Leader newspaper, under new Editor Scott Bryan, is also paying rapt attention, running a front-page article Wednesday, March 3, detailing the city’s excessive charges compared to the county’s and addressing builder complaints and disproportionate fees. It also highlighted local builder Ron Flick’s demand for a $466,879 refund, which Building Department head Stephan Beckman declined to comment on to News Leader reporter Julia Roberts.
Mary Maguire, the pugnacious editor of the online Independent, extensively covered the Chamber’s survey Wednesday, March 10, printing a number of the survey’s scathing comments and the highly critical survey results.
The online Fernandina Observer (aka Apologist) as usual ignored the turmoil and has yet to even mention the blistering results of the Chamber’s survey. Instead, it ran an email letter Thursday, March 11, that it and other media outlets received from City Manager Dale “The Big Spender” Martin, defending the Building Department. The Apologist, staying true to its name, prefaced Martin’s defense with this slobbering introduction: “We publish it below to let our readers know some of the challenges the City confronts in trying to ensure that construction projects not only adhere to the Florida Building Code but that they do not endanger the health and safety of our residents and visitors.” The Apologist, whose credibility has now dipped below zero, didn’t question why Mr. Martin thought it necessary to submit a letter defending the department. It unquestioningly acts as the city’s PR arm, running grip-and-grin handshake photos issued by the department and puff pieces bylined by Mr. Beckman. Its two “Thelma & Louise” editors will run anything the city sends them then drool adoringly over it while driving the reputation of their publication off a cliff. The only thing the Observer editors haven’t done yet is hold a bake sale or covered dish supper for the wayward building function.
Nick Gillette, a respected principal/engineer at Gillette & Associates, Inc., who has lived here since he was nine-years-old, calls out Martin’s lame defense in an email to City Commissioner Len Kreger saying: “The perception that government knows better and everyone else just doesn’t understand is a tired argument. Buildings aren’t collapsing in the County. Buildings aren’t catching on fire in the County. People aren’t dying or getting hurt in Nassau County from a building construction standpoint. Somehow they manage to do it with better customer service, lower fees, and faster turnaround.”
Others involved in the island’s construction industry also targeted Mr. Martin’s letter for its self-aggrandizing blather in their comments to Commissioner Kreger. Local architect John Dodd echoed Mr. Gillette’s comments saying: “To assert that the current building department is providing any higher level of protection of life safety, health, or welfare, is absolutely not true.”
A common and alarming thread in the Building Department’s duplicity is the fact that although every single one of the complainants disclosed their identity to me, they asked that I not reveal them publicly. Why? Each and every one cited the city’s notorious and disgraceful reputation for retaliation that can cost home owners, builders, contractors, businesses, among others enormous sums of money and possibly their homes and negatively impact their livelihoods.
The Chamber is wisely keeping its respondents names confidential as well. And its survey results are damning.
Of the Chamber’s 107 architectural, contractor, builder, home owner, etc. respondents, almost 60 percent rated their experience as “very challenging”, the worst possible response available. Some 74 percent of those responding rated their experience with the Building Department “Very Difficult” (52%) to “Difficult” (22%). An astounding 75 percent said they were “not satisfied” with the communication related to their project, fees and requirements. If there had been a “They suck” box to check it would have been the respondents number one choice.
The vast number of complaints, their seriousness, and impact on the city’s citizens, businesses, and contractors is so alarming that rumors are circulating that the city should immediately transfer control of its Building Department to Nassau County now, even before or if an investigation is initiated.
It appears that retired Public Utility Director John “Pay to Play” Mandrick’s illegal impact fee (aka capacity fee) legacy has spread like wildfire through Steve Beckman’s Building Department, and it has been taken to a whole new level of extortion. Based on the building public’s reaction this crowd couldn’t buy an accolade.
Meanwhile City Manager “The Big Spender” Martin smugly sits back greedily counting the “take” and defending the indefensible while the City Commissioners stare blankly into space, either ignorantly unaware of the corrupt chaos or unwilling to confront it.
A long-time, well-respected, local architect clarified his opinion of the overall situation for me providing the following non-specific but general summary of examples of local grievances he and his city clients have experienced telling me: “Dave, these are incidents that have occurred to me and many others in the community. I have derived a list of the general feeling and contempt for….well, I could say building department, but is really almost entirely problems with the building official (Steve Beckman) and inspector (name withheld):
- Zealous over enforcement of miniscule code issues that are not impactful to life safety, health, or welfare issues.
- Lack of leniency and misuse of authority/power to cheerfully impose hardship on the customer.
- Failure to apply important codes, and strong tendency and inclination to find and apply obscure and often overlooked frivolous codes, resulting in failed inspections, re-inspection costs, and creating completely unnecessary stress and work for designers, contactors, subs, thus adding unnecessary cost to owners.
- Stopping jobs whenever possible.
- Requiring engineering when not needed or required by code or requiring it over miniscule non-relevant construction issues.
- Requiring as-built drawings of work in place that has undergone minor typical modifications during build (which is very typical of all construction).
- Requesting unnecessary structural fortifications.
- Challenging design professionals when ignorant of the subject matter they are challenging.
- Very vindictive attitudes, power wielding bullying.
- Not acting as public servants but as the enemy of the community.
Following is an example of one of the most salacious examples of the Building Department’s abuse submitted to me. Some details have been eliminated to protect the individual’s identity.
“Everyone has a Steve Beckman horror story. My best (worst) encounter with ol’ Steve was a meeting in my garage. We’re all very frustrated b/c I can’t get a CO due to electrical inspection failures. After a 10 minute pow-wow the meeting breaks up with the issues seemingly resolved. Steve says, I haven’t been through the house completely, but I see no issues to getting a CO. What we discovered 5 minutes later is that while we were meeting, Steve was texting his assistants, who were parked three houses north, what issues to fail us on! We know this as fact because they showed us the texts when they arrived at my house 5 minutes after Steve left!
There was the same evening Steve leaned a ladder to my second-floor deck at dusk, snuck up on us, knocked on the facade, which was wet paint, and asked if we were staying in the house without a CO.”
“While I’m not a registered voter here, this has been a place we love as a second home. I have been making a sizable tax contribution annually for many years and will gladly do what I can to make this a better place to work and live.
With the understanding that my input will be confidential, here are the main “so-what’s:”
- Despite, having the Building Dept. review our plans extensively prior to approval, they came back mid-project during the build and caused at least a 2-3 week slow-down several times as they demanded changes in location of code issues, questioned load bearing walls etc.
- Despite having an Engineers attestation that the minor changes in the fencing built on the property was within code, they caused us to submit the changes to the State prior to granting a permanent Certificate of Occupancy.
- From a cost standpoint, the unnecessary slowdowns caused us to reschedule the moving van from the West Coast several times and forced us to move into a local hotel for over a month.”
The Chamber’s survey contains some 10 pages of typed, single-spaced testimonials, most much more critical than those printed here.
If the city doesn’t take immediate action to correct this ugly situation I’m convinced it’ll soon be confronted with an angry pitchfork and torch mob in front of city hall.
Something I Just Learned: Those pricey truffles found in fancy restaurants can’t be cultivated. It takes a forest to raise them. Specially trained dogs, pigs, etc. are needed to sniff out the prized edible hunks of treasured fungus that that resemble small rocks. So, the next time you see a guy with a hog on a leash in Egans Creek, you can probably guess what he’s up to.
Laughing At Lefties: During my stint as a daily newspaper reporter my colleagues and I would often chuckle at some of the “letters to the editor” because of their irrational absurdity.
The unintentionally hilarious letter writers were the ones who repeatedly and feverishly hammered away at their favored topic, no matter how often and accurately their nutty claims had been proven bogus. Their incessant hypocrisy and snarling idiocy became an anticipated form of news room entertainment as they demanded their tripe be published even though it held them up to public ridicule. They didn’t care. They were immune to the readers’ mockery and their ridiculous missives kept coming.
A local example is Stephan Leimberg who, like a screeching toddler sprawled on the kitchen floor, kicking his legs demanding a predinner cookie, is psychotic in expressing his opinions publicly. This was illustrated in his recent longwinded “Voice of the people” word jumble that appeared in the News Leader, Wednesday, March 3, that would have left my former newsroom coworkers roaring with laughter.
Mr. Leimberg’s radicalized fury, hysteria, and irrationality, along with his venomous attitude that anyone disagreeing with him must be a “fascist” and therefor silenced, vilified, punished, and destroyed, was on public display in the News Leader’s Letters to the Editor headlined: “The boogeyman is coming”.
In his March 3 missive, he initially singled me out for my letter criticizing his pal, News Leader columnist and former high school indoctrinator, Ron Sapp, for his unashamed endorsement of socialism.
After rebuking me, Mr. Leimberg rambled on for seven lengthy and snarling paragraphs, fanatically condemning former President Donald Trump, his followers, and all conservatives in terms that would have the vicious Black Lives Matter and Antifa thugs grinning and giggling. His tirade labeled us all fascists, hell-bent on destroying American democracy.
This wasn’t Mr. Leimberg’s first attempt to peddle an agenda that calls for socialism, speech codes, gun confiscation, media censorship, and other actions that expose his mindless disdain for American traditions and values. This is a guy who believes the New York Times editorial pages have more credibility than the US Constitution, a document I doubt he’d understand even if he ever decided to read it.
And, like Sisyphus, he doesn’t give up.
This is the same guy who spent tens of thousands of dollars late last year buying full page ads in the News Leader and other area newspapers bashing President Trump and his supporters with unproven accusations. He also authored a News Leader’s “Voice of the People” Wednesday, January 13 letter (“A day that will live in infamy”) shrieking that the content of two previous letters to the editor were “….baseless allegations, outright lies, and bizarre fairy tales to deny reality and truth and turn its back on science.” He condemned the News Leader for publishing them and in his squealing, spittle-flecked tantrum took the paper to task for printing letters he finds disagreeable, implying that anyone dissenting from his viewpoint is a divisive racist boob and a conspiracy-minded fanatic. He demanded the newspaper censor any future contrarian views, suggesting that criticism of his beliefs is a form of violence.
This is not a person to be taken seriously, but a guy whose sloganeering, childish rants, slurs on patriotism and overwrought allegations of treason, and collusion with Russia, etc. are indications that he’s got the attention span of a hummingbird and is ignorant of any American history pre-dating the early episodes of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
Kudos to the News Leader for running Mr. Leimberg’s senseless blather and publicly exposing his hypocrisy and irrational beliefs to public ridicule. I hope the paper continues publishing his inane screeds. His nonsense is not only amusing to clear-thinking readers but exposes the far left’s insane agenda and how badly this sad guy’s muddled train of thought has jumped the tracks of reason.
Speaking Of Hypocritical Nonsense: An out of state reader alerted me to a Wednesday, March 10 irate News Leader letter writer who chastised the paper for enabling folks to write about national, not just local issues. The distraught letter writer was angry about a previous missive defending Trump supporters. The local letter writer, Diane Frank, said: “This should be a community paper, not a pulpit for the angry ramblings, unfounded accusations and obstructionist views of Trump supporters.” She then irately rambled on for another couple of paragraphs bashing Republicans, and ending by demanding that the paper never publish anymore “bellicose political viewpoints that hash over the past election.” Ms. Frank says such letters are ”irritating and offensive.” I assume she thinks her public display of hypocrisy is soothing and comforting? Like Mr. Leimberg (above) Ms. Frank possesses an ideological rigidity that anyone holding an opinion differing from hers should be cancelled and ostracized.
Danger! White Supremacy: A recent meme displayed a picture of a young white American male. The caption read: “Know the Warning Signs of White Supremacy: Full-time employment; Literacy; Professional or Technical Degree; Regular Church/Temple Attendance; Auto Insurance; Good Credit Rating; No Criminal Record.” Obviously, these people are a danger to society and need to be kept away from our highly impressionable children.
Speaking Of White Supremacy: President Obama’s former head of the CIA, John Brennan, claims to be embarrassed, not because he politicized the intelligence agency or because he lied to a congressional committee or because he colluded in a plot to bring down a president, but because he’s a white man. I agree with west coast columnist Burt Prelutsky when he writes that Brennan’s not alone. Says Burt: “Speaking on behalf of America’s white men, we’re also embarrassed that you’re one of us, John.”
Who Are You Going To Believe Me Or Your Lying Ears? Department: Fernandina Beach City Commissioner and Mayor Mike Lednovich has apparently fallen off the wagon — the one hauling reason, logic, and comprehension.
In April 2020, when the pandemic was taking its initial toll, I applauded Commissioner Lednovich for his financial epiphany calling for the City Commission to stop tossing our tax money around like a bunch of drunken rednecks in a topless honky-tonk.
California transplant Lednovich was making economic sense in the midst of a major crisis while spendthrift City Manager Dale Martin and the other members of the Commission were acting as though they’ve just won the lottery and headed to a strip club flush with cash.
However, last week the “Left Coast” in Lednovich burst out like the creature in “Alien” when he dismissed a comment by local resident Jay “Skip” Stuart, who said Commissioner Chip Ross told him “I run this town.” Lednovich criticized me for initially not revealing the identity of the person that quoted Ross. Then, when Mr. Stuart voluntarily identified himself, Mayor Lednovich interpreted Ross’s boastful comment to Mr. Stuart as being helpful and explanatory. Nuance and tone are key to any comment mayor. And since you weren’t there and didn’t ask Mr. Stuart how Ross presented his comment, you are making false assumptions. Mr. Stuart says your interpretation is wrong, and that Commissioner Ross came across as “I RUN THIS TOWN” not as a member of a Commission that governs it. Good grief, you’ve been sitting on that Commission next to that pompous gasbag long enough to recognize his haughty attitude.
Oh, and David Lott, a guy who served for about six months as acting City Manager here some eight years ago, and now lives in Atlanta, also chimed in echoing Mayor Lednovich’s lame excuse for Ross’s boorish behavior. Why does this serial city sycophant continuously defend the city from his perch some 500 miles north of here? Is it because he’s angling for a cushy city job when he retires from his Federal Reserve Bank position that provides him ample opportunities to read and comment online while he’s killing time before he clocks out for the day?
How To Succeed While Stupid: Many years ago, when I was recruited from a newspaper news room into IBM’s public relations department, one of my new colleagues – also a former reporter – jokingly told me that from what he’d witnessed, the key to success in corporate America was to “talk loud, walk fast and don’t bump into the furniture.”
Over the years while working for various corporations I observed that there was a lot of truth to my friend’s light-hearted advice as I watched incompetent people being promoted whose only talents involved moving fast enough to stay a few steps ahead of their co-workers, while speaking in booming authoritative voices, saying nothing of value, and hiding or shifting blame for their blunders and inadequacies.
Since the presidential inauguration I’ve observed that Joe Biden would have been a total failure in the corporate world since he possesses none of these survival skills. He would have been shown the door long before his probationary period expired as he’s totally incapable of covering up his gaffes and lack of talent.
I don’t know about you, but this shuffling, squinty-eyed codger, ambling aimlessly around the White House, incoherently mumbling, and slurring his words doesn’t fill me with confidence, much less inspire me. During a recent public appearance while scuffling cue cards he muttered “What am I doing here?” while at another his handlers cut him off before he could publicly embarrass himself by attempting to answer questions.
A recent example of Biden’s buffoonery the other day was during a virtual meeting with the president of Mexico, when he announced that the United States and Mexico are equals.
He could have said that Mexico is a good neighbor, but instead went whole hog and insisted that, other than language, there’s no difference. At the rate Biden’s going allowing illegals from Mexico and Central America to pour across our now wide-open southern border, there will be no telling the two countries apart in a year or less.
People can get into this country easier from the southern border than American citizens can get a tour of the fenced off and guarded US Capital in Washington DC. Those with COVID, criminal records, prior deportation orders, human traffickers, drug dealers, etc. can waltz across the southern border freely but those at all other US ports of entry are prohibited. How does this make any sense? Speaking of those Guardsmen in our nation’s capital, their main function seems to be protecting the razor wire surrounding Congress from razor wire thieves instead of protecting our borders.
We’ll soon have Mexico’s level of literacy and it’s economy. We’ll have cops as “honest” as theirs and its lack of conviction in fighting Fascism, Communism, and Islamic terrorism?
Currently we are a beacon of freedom for the world while Mexico is a way station for people trying to get here. But under Biden we’ll soon be like Mexico, a way station for people trying to reach Canada, a county that prevents masses of illegals from flowing across its borders because it respects and defends its sovereignty.
Speaking of this country under Joe Biden, has anybody thought about unplugging America, waiting a couple of minutes, and then plugging it back in?
NEWS ALERT! BULLETIN: I realize that this week’s blog is far too lengthy, but I just finished watching the most depressing, dismal, dreadful and confusing presidential speech I’ve ever witnessed and can’t help myself for prattling on. I’m sure Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison, and Millard Fillmore gave more inspiring talks than the one I just heard by Joe Biden on national TV. Oh wait, does anybody else remember Jimmy Carter’s “Malaise” speech? Biden spent 15 minutes taking credit for the COVID vaccines resulting from President Donald Trump’s “Warp Speed” efforts. He told us to wear masks and wash our hands. If we do that he said then he might even allow us to have a backyard July 4 cookout with more than two people attending. Anybody watching this confused, bumbling cretin stumbling through his first national address and was inspired by it, needs serious mental health care. This is clearly not a well man. Our “emperor” is not only naked, he’s senile too. That this sad mental midget is running the country should be frightening to everyone who watched this rambling mess no matter what their ideology. After his talk I assume his handlers escorted him back to the White House residence, gave him a glass of warm milk, tucked him into bed, and at his request turned on reruns of “Gilligan’s Island.”
Dave, for the “official” record and to lay to rest the second time you have speculated on the matter. I will not be retiring until the end of 2022 and my wife and I will be staying in the metro-Atlanta area to be with our 3 sons & daughter-in-laws and our 7 grandkids and will not be looking for a “cushy” job anywhere. While we enjoy our frequent visits back to Fernandina Beach we will not be returning as a resident. Indeed I was honored and privileged to serve as Interim City Manager for six months between the terms of Mike Czymbor and Joe Gerrity. In that position I was able to view first hand on a day-to-day basis the commitment that the vast, vast majority of city employees have to making FB a great city to live in. As to Commissioner Chip Ross, I think if you talk to him about his interactions you will find that he and I have different perspectives on a number of issues; but no one does more research on an issue than he does and he will always respond promptly and express his appreciation for the person taking the time to share their viewpoint. As to the times that I pen my comments here and on the FO, that is the beauty of a flexible work schedule that includes break times. All the best!
I applaud you for your service to the community in fulfilling the role of interim City Manager. However, the role you fulfilled, and its tenure illustrates a major problem specific to the City Commission and why there are so many issues with how the City is managed. In the last 9 years, Fernandina has had four City Managers. That is way too much turnover for effective governance and highlights how precarious the stability of the job is for any current placeholder or future applicant.
Normadi, Thank you. FYI, I took a sabbatical from my 30+ years as a consultant from a financial services management consulting firm and accepted the Interim CM position with a full understanding of the “interim” nature of the position. I had been very active in many of the issues facing the City since my wife and I moved to FB in 2001. I fully understood the City would require an individual with experience and knowledge in municipal management as was exhibited by Mike Czymbor and Joe Gerrity and I was not that person with no expectations to shift my professional course in life. I viewed by role as simply keeping the ship steadily moving in the channel and avoiding the rocks while a long-term CM was identified and hired. It was a very rewarding experience and I had a great working relationship with Joe Gerrity during the transition. I returned to the financial services world and that is where I plan to retire in 2022.
To your point about the turnover, you may be surprised to learn that FB’s statistics are not far off from overall average tenures of 5 – 7 years with turnover at a higher rate in smaller cities according to the ICMA. This is up from 3 – 5 years from a decade ago. Many do not realize the “complexity” of FB municipal management with the city being on a barrier island and having a marina, golf course, airport and its own water/wastewater operation. Of course there are always the shifting political winds as a factor as well and those winds seem to blow harder in a small community, especially one that is facing major financial and/or development pressures.
The city inspection department will have to be dissolved and a city county consolidation take place. Where the county runs the whole process. It will streamline things. The bullies will have nowhere to hide. This has been done in other places it is simple and quickly successful.
Does the County even want to take over?
Codes are different.
Merge might simply mean a new sign on the door.
City/County relations are frosty-not good for a merger.
How do you fix it?
Do you fire Mr. Beckman, scold him, pat him on the back, or just hope for the best?
The poor performance of his department has been well known for years, but nothing changes.
City Commissioners will not correct the problem because they are afraid to.
Why did Mandrick get away with his tactics? They only stopped with his retirement.
There is a mispreception that the Commissioners run things….not so.
So who will fix things?
I imagine special focus will fall upon David Sturges given his profession as a local general contractor. However, if the accusations of retribution have validity, will his input be candid or will it be influenced by potential impact to his business? Does he choose instead to recuse himself? Welcome to the world of politics where one can find themselves firmly entrenched between a rock and hard place.
It took a court verdict to “fix” the Mandrick impact fees problrm, so likely the same is required here. The City likes to push legality beyond the limit and only stops when forced to stop.
Commissioners are powerless.
More a showpiece than anything else.
The only “power” they have is on paper.
I like the reboot idea …
Did not know there were so many
Kool Aid drinkers in FB.There should be
a special car tag for them so we can do
our best to give them a lot of space as we
drive on the Island.Note:This situation has
been going on for decades much longer
than a lot of you have lived here.In my
20 plus years and many different Mayors
and City Commissoners this is very OLD
Robert, Joseph Goebbels would be proud of you.
Jump higher, shout louder, misrepresent more, “Joseph”. Our Mayor and City Manager are doing their jobs – looking into complaints. Some are valid. Some are not. Sour grapes are sour grapes.
Imagine knowing how bad the situation is at the building and planning department and being too afraid to identify yourself. The local contractors know. Speaking out will bring too much harm to their businesses as the city will punish them with failed inspections and endless hoops to jump through. This is not the way the county treats their customers. The county can have a permit issued in two weeks and are a joy to work with.
I see the Green Cross being flown at city hall in the near future. Thank you for all that are speaking out.
Do you ever have any real ideas – or is it always an effort to incite, intimidate, another failed attempt at character assassination, or project your own narrow minded, knee jerk “vision” of what life here “should be like”. It sure appears our City government is doing an excellent job, based on your dislike of virtually everything that makes our City the credible, informed, and eclectic place it is – and your abject dislike of virtually anyone and everyone who lives and/or works here. By the way, Fernandina’s building department, Joe Biden, and our country are doing just fine without you.
I would like to respond to one of your readers comments: “Surely there will be NO retaliation by coming forward publicly and being identified as targets? If you can’t see a problem based on the survey results, YOU are the problem.” I do not know all the facts, nor do you. The Mayor’s effort to get to the bottom of this, is exactly what needs to be done. Allegations, be they true or fabricated, need to be openly investigated. A survey is not a true investigation when testimonies can be emboldened by the protection of anonymity. At some point people have to step up publicly and put it out there to make the facts credible. What is worse: continue with the status quo (true or not) because one is afraid of reprisals, or stand up and try to effect positive change? I think in fairness to both sides of this debate, a transparent and honest assessment is exactly what is needed. Let’s stop trying to use Dave’s biased blog as a valid courtroom, and go at this properly. I say attend the meeting, LISTEN to both sides, then make an informed decision. Sorry Dave, but your way too long blog this time, is not doing justice to “fair and balanced” journalism…but then again, what am I thinking? A blog is not journalism, just biased ranting, right?
It should not be difficult to understand why the people that run the various
City Departments are borderline crooks and hustlers.It very well could be
that they are descendants of the Pirates that ruled this town back in the old
days.Once a thief always a thief no matter how many years have passed.I
am surprised that State Senator Aaron Bean has not voiced any public opinions
on this subject.His family as been an important part of Fernandina for years.
Come on Dave, don’t be so hard on Biden. His taking credit for the vaccines is just an extension of his plagiarism in law school and in some of his speeches while in Congress.
I note he chose yesterday as the “anniversary” of the CCP Virus in the US. Funny because I recall that President Trump had already identified the problem in January 2020 when he began banning travel into the US from foreign nations battling the bio weapon. It was ironic because he criticized Trump for doing so at the time. Of course he supported his dreadful party trying to impeach Trump which made it more difficult for the then administration to respond to the problem.
Lednovich has to be kidding. He must know the only function Shakedown City has is squeezing as much money out of its marks for providing no service and destroying as much private value as they can. It’s not just the building department it’s also the utility department charging unregulated rates and forcing annexation for County property owners to access public water and sewer facilities. Did I mention the unlawful impact fees that are extorted from marks to get COs? Congrats to the Chamber for finally coming forward. The mob gets better reviews from their marks than Shakedown City does. The answers are simple. Get rid of impact fees, put the utility back into the private sector subject to state regulation and outsource as many public services as the County is willing to provide. My experience is those County folks know how to govern and are solid public servants. City residents are also citizens of Nassau County.
Informed opinion is if greater worth than one based on a dearth of knowledge. The building department discussion is of great interest to me since I will soon become their customer. I’m still gathering information, so my opinion is still fermenting in the barrel otherwise known as my brain. But one question that has surfaced as I read the comments of the city manager, is whether the tail is wagging the dog or vice versa? Again, it’s simply a question because I admittedly am sans all the relevant information. Specifically, construction costs are often a zero sum endeavor. With a finite budget, one is faced with trading one cost for another to stay within the estimated planned total costs. Which begs the question, do the seemingly high costs charged by the building department incentivize the builder to cut corners elsewhere? Perhaps some of the cases of deficiencies described in the city manager’s defense of the planning department would not have existed if the building department’s costs were more in line with the county’s equivalent services. A follow-up question would be whether the difference in money between what the city charges verses the county would instead find its way into the local economy in terms of higher-end materials and its ensuing positive ripple effect? Again, these are simply my thoughts that come to mind as my opinion incubates.
This is rather long….I need to read more on my lunch break instead of my coffee break😁😉
Our city might do well to have an ombudsman.
…“spittle-flecked tantrum”….I love that line!
What I found most amusing about Dale Martin’s defense of Beckmann were the examples he gave of the various “infractions” that Mr Beckham has found at various building sites. Martin is lauding Beckman for doing his damn job!!! In my world, that’s “average” and no cause to celebrate.
I’m taking odds that he doesn’t make it another 6 months as President.
Dave: FYI the April 6 City Commission Workshop will be devoted to one topic — the Building Department. As Mayor, I am also invoking a special exception to Workshop rules and allowing public comment. The City has one function, to provide competent services to residents and visitors. Our goal is to provide an open forum to hear the concerns of the people we serve. We also want to take the steps to improve on our customer service based on the feedback we are receiving such as the Chamber of Commerce Survey you reported on. We will also take public comment at the regular City Commission meeting that follows including discussion. I am meeting Monday with Chamber officials to discuss their survey findings and to hear their recommendations.
There is a City Commission meeting Tuesday 6 p.m. with public comment where these issues can be aired to Commissioners directly.
Additionally, I urge anyone dealing with the Building Department who believes they are the victim of retaliation by the department to contact me directly. My cellphone is 904-502-0650. All five Commissioners are fully aware of these service issues and have voiced their concerns for improvement and changes to the City Manager. From my chair I’d like to see a specific plan of action for improvement including a customer survey by each person after their project is completed to measure customer satisfaction. We can and should strive to always provide excellent services to our citizens.
Well, that “exception” should bring folks out in droves to complain. Surely there will be NO retaliation by coming forward publicly and being identified as targets? If you can’t see a problem based on the survey results, YOU are the problem.
Major Lednovich or possibly Dr Buzz Kill,
I view your response with concern. You have done a masterful job of inserting city government in areas where there is no problem and appearing amazed to discover areas of city neglect where the city should provide remedy. This isn’t the first time an area of concern has been brought forward by “Crowd Sourcing” the problem. Allow me to be more direct, if you rely on crowd sourcing as your best management tool, we have a larger problem than the permitting department. Remember the football saying to head coaches…. “if you listen to the crowd, you will end up sitting with them”. One of my favorite comments during a past council meeting is when a citizen explained in detail the serious issues with getting building approval in the historic district. The comment in the meeting “ya, I have heard about this maybe we should look into it better”,…. no kidding. Why is it that issues need to be brought to the extreme to get the city governments attention? If citizens are afraid to come forward and view our local government as shake downs artists, the first question you should ask is if there is any merit to this accusation. Meet with the people whom you disagree with, they will be more honest with assessing your shortfalls than your crowd souring buddies. The book describing this approach was written about 5 centuries BC, you would do yourself a great credit to read it. Bringing the issue to the City Manager only amplifies the perception of city ineptness to truthfully fix this issue. Before you ran for office where these negative issues unknown to you? The article by Dale Martin in response can be summarized as, “we are okay, you just don’t get it”. His explanation of city activities can be summarized as, setting minimum standards and failing to achieve same. Getting credit for fulfilling the most basic functions of the job is not to be viewed as laudable. Please listen to your nay sayers, they will be honest in your assessment. Your adversaries can make you a hero. If you don’t believe in this approach, write a letter to Bill Clinton and ask him.