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 Residents Saddled With Expensive Time Share; Amelia Islander’s Book Predicted Election Cheating Issue

Congratulations tax payers of Fernandina Beach on your recent golf course and marina time share deal.

What? You didn’t know you owned a time share?

The slick talking pitchmen who peddled you these money pits were none other than the notorious local snake oil peddling duo of Fernandina Beach City Manager Dale “The Big Spender” Martin and his sidekick Commissioner Chip “Daddy Warbucks” Ross.

Daddy Warbucks Ross and Big Spender Martin

Ordinance 2020-22, approved Aug 4, 2020, placed the question on the November 3 ballot – using language recommended by the Charter Review Committee – based on wording originally proposed by “Daddy Warbucks” Ross and cheered on by “Big Spender” Martin.

The cowed and oblivious City Commission unanimously approved (5-0) the duo’s “time share” referendum scheme for the November 3 ballot which the smooth-talking duo carefully worded as follows:

“Conservation Lands & Recreation Facilities:

Should the Fernandina Beach City Charter be amended to prohibit the sale or lease of city-owned conservation lands and restrict the sale or lease of City-owned recreation facilities by requiring unanimous vote of the City Commission and approval at a referendum by at least 70% of the electors of the City. YES or NO”

“Have I got a deal for you!”

Sorry folks. A whopping 83% of you voted “YES” sealing the deal. What the hell were you thinking? The November 3 agreement says the scammers (the City Commission) who sold you this codswallop have to vote 5-0 and 70% of you have to say it’s OK to sell or lease these turkeys. That’s like a car dealership saying the warranty on the lemon they unloaded on you isn’t valid unless the dealership management votes unanimously agreeing that it is and 70% of your neighbors agree.

Forget dumping these two money losers as long as “Daddy Warbucks” Ross –  prodded by “Big Spender” Martin – continues doing his spot-on impersonation of Henry F. Potter. And do you really think people who didn’t understand what the hell they were voting for the first time will be any smarter the next time? You’ll need 70% of those suckers to vote “yes” to unload these pricey white elephants. Fat chance.

Smack in the middle of  a pandemic that has wrecked financial havoc on the area’s hospitality industry – the lifeblood of this community – you folks go out and vote for one of the worst real estate agreements since the Indians (aka Native Americans) sold Manhattan to the Dutch for $24 worth of useless trinkets.

The “Big Spender” and “Daddy Warbucks” have locked you (with your consent) into an iron-clad time share golf and marina contract that would make Bernie Madoff and Charles Ponzi envious. The “yes” vote assures that the city can’t sell or lease either one…..it can’t even give them way, but you suckers have to keep paying. There’s no TV or radio ad with an 800 number that you can turn to, nor is there a charitable organization to assist you. Nobody’ll touch this mess with a 10-foot pole. You have to keep paying your time share fees even if you don’t use the marina or play golf and never intend to use them. Your heirs will inherit  this debacle – thanks dad and mom! There’s no escape clause.

“Big Spender” Martin – who came here from Connecticut recently told us that our city is affluent (meaning more taxable) so subsidies and debt will continue as long as he can keep picking what he says are your deep pockets.  Among other things he overlooked the pandemic’s economic upheaval because he thinks you’re all fat cats and publicly said so. He thinks he won the lottery so it’s “Katy, bar the door” as long as the “Big Spender” is managing the city.

I’m sure the Nassau County golfers and boaters who live across the street from you and the out-of-town visitors appreciate the city’s generosity, but you’ll see no financial relief from those folks. In fact you’re subsidizing them.

You don’t play golf and don’t have a boat. So what? You’ll pay anyway.

As a tax payer you’re also paying a $16 subsidy for each round of golf played by others because the golf course is saddled with between $300,000 and $2 million in debt. At last Tuesday’s Commission meeting nobody at city hall seemed to know to exact figure. But whatever it is you’re forced to subsidize it, whether you like it or not. And it is expected to increase significantly.

For example, it’ll take years for the golf course’s recently acquired $500,000 plus Top Tracer golf addition to break even – if it ever does – pushing the golf subsidy and debt even higher. The city rushed out and bought this costly technological gizmo because they thought the Republican Convention was coming to Jacksonville and all those GOP fat cats would flock to the course. Prior to contracting for it did the city realize that there’s a top-of-the line Top Tracer facility just 20 miles away in Duval county? Too bad if you don’t play as you’re paying for it and you can’t back out.

Oh, and the golf time share you agreed to keep forever is also a lousy piece of real estate, even the folks that peddled it to you think so. Commissioner Mike Lednovich this past Tuesday night commented that he is an avid golfer, but never plays the city course because it’s in such poor shape. If I recall correctly, Commissioner Lednovich is editor of a golf magazine, so it would appear he knows what he’s talking about on that issue. Why didn’t he speak up sooner? And why did he vote to lock us in?

I’ve personally heard many negative comments from many other golfing folks – they play Amelia River, N Hampton, Kings Bay (military/veterans) or one of the resort courses when they can – rather than the city course, which they say is their last choice.

On top of all this the popularity of golf around the country is on a rapid decline. According to the National Golf Association some 200 courses in the sunbelt alone closed last year and they say there’s been a 20% nationwide decline in the number of golfers since 2003.

In South Carolina alone 33 courses failed since 2013 says a University of Arizona study. Collier County in southwest Florida has a moratorium on golf course rezoning and just bought a failed course for a park. It has 75 remaining courses, and their future doesn’t look healthy.

You think that stinks? Just wait until you get the bill for your marina time share assessment with its incomplete rebuilding and proposed multi-million-dollar waterfront park. It’ll knock your socks off. It’s already a whopping $15 million without the waterfront park, which will add another $10-12 million or more and there’s with no projected positive revenue stream.

Just think of your massive increasing debt payments as typical time share assessments.

You might as well take up golf and buy a boat because you have no other options.

The city’s only plan for paying off the marina and golf course debt is you, the tax payer, through higher taxes. You have no choice. That’s the time share deal pitched by The Big Spender and Daddy Warbucks that 83% of you agreed to November 3.

The City owns these facilities and now must run them – either alone or with hired help. You agreed that they can’t be sold or leased.

The current price tag to maintain and complete all the stuff that the city has saddled the tax payers with to date is around $70 million dollars. Divide that by a population of 12,500, most who are not tax-paying property owners.

City Manager “Big Spender” Martin has proven time and time again that he and the city are not capable of running anything but their mouths.

It’s time to stop acquiring new stuff and hire competent outside folks to manage what we have, as turning anything over to the city incompetents to run is total folly. What other options do we have to ensure that our pricey time share investments don’t go belly up?

The tax payers are boxed into a corner.

To help prevent any more of these shady and fiscally irresponsible deals it’s vital to cast a vote in the December 8 City Commission runoff election for David Sturges, a fifth generation local businessman who can read a P&L spreadsheet, and will be a deciding vote that isolates “Daddy Warbucks” Ross and will hopefully send “Big Spender” Martin packing.

Mr. Sturges’ opponent was quoted in an interview in the News leader last week saying that she thinks the city’s finances are in good shape. Where the hell has this woman been the past few years?

***

Wait! What? NASDAQ has proposed that companies listed on its stock exchange must have more diverse people on their boards. Call me crazy but wouldn’t it be better for these companies and their shareholders to select board members with different opinions, cultural backgrounds, worldly knowledge, and who know something about the business? How would you like to be a newly selected company board member if NASDAQ’s rules prevailed and have your peers looking at you knowing they’re thinking you were offered the position only because of your skin color, gender, the way you look or your sexual identity?  It’s nuttiness like this that has companies abandoning the exchange for private placements, private equity and venture capital and the OTC, a  trading system for non-exchange listed equities.

***

Misery Loves Company: Why do those “woke” Democrats that claim the United States is systemically racist and therefore a terrible place to live continue to call for open borders and less restrictive immigration policies. Shouldn’t these social warriors be warning potential immigrants that this is an unsafe and intolerant country where police indiscriminately slaughter minorities? Did sympathetic Germans encourage Jews to immigrate to Nazi Germany?

***

Amelia Island’s Nostradamus: Area resident and local author Ken Timmerman knows more than most about the national election results brouhaha, in fact he predicted exactly what is taking place more than four months ago.

An Amelia Island resident the past two years, Timmerman authored a book that was published in early August titled “The Election Heist” (Post Hill Press, distributed by Simon and Schuster) a fictional narrative with a plot that uncannily reads like today’s newspaper accounts of the November 3 presidential post-election “cheating” controversy.

What does Timmerman know that others don’t? A lot it turns out. His background is impressive. He has served National Security and Foreign Policy Advisory Board, Trump for President; was a Republican nominee for Congress, Maryland District 8 (2012); President & CEO, Foundation for Democracy in Iran, www.iran.org; and a Nobel  Peace Prize nominee, 2006.

Ken is also a nationally recognized investigative reporter, who has authored ten books on national security, as well as three fictional novels and a biography, ”Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson.”

As a reporter he was based in Paris and then in Maisons-Laffitte for 18 years before returning to the U.S. to work in Congress in 1993. He covered Middle Eastern wars for USA Today, the Atlanta Constitution, Newsweek, and CBS News during the 1980s.

He pops up on national TV and radio often and in the past couple of weeks he has been with Greg Stinchfield and John Bachman on Newsmax TV, with Frank Gaffney on Secure Freedom Radio, and on a podcast with Steven Strang, author of God, Trump, and the 2020 Election.

On Newsmax TV Ken explained how we “are watching the nightmare story unfold in real time.”

He told Newsmax TV that “The evidence of nefarious actions revealed by election workers in affidavits to President Donald Trump’s legal team are one thing, but the software hacking of vote tallies is far more capable of swinging the big numbers of the elections.”

“I am much more worried about the election hacking,” Timmerman told host Grant Stinchfield. “That’s the scenario I talk about in ‘The Election Heist ,’ which is a fiction, [but] it’s not a fantasy, and it was published three months before this election.”

Stinchfield introduced Timmerman to the program showing graphs reporting mystery voter tallies switching from Trump to Joe Biden en masse.

“That looks like to me, what I call in my book, ‘the secret switch,’ when they realized they were behind and they needed to flip votes from Trump to Biden,” Timmerman told Stinchfield.

Timmerman pointed to the reports of election systems software accepting a late-election update that demands legal and forensic scrutiny.

“They changed the computer software the day of the election or the day before; it’s called a patch,” he added. “They think that they received it from the voting machine manufacturer, but it may have been hacked from somebody else.”

Ken’s not alone in his views, far from it.

“A Rasmussen poll last week shows that nearly 50% of Americans, including 30% of Democrats, believe Democrats “stole votes or destroyed pro-Trump ballots…to ensure that Biden would win”, he says.

“The latest comes from a hearing in Arizona, where a Pinal County poll worker testified that she personally witnessed 34,000 ballots opened without a Republican observer and no ballot verification, and another 2000 ballots “adjudicated” primarily for Biden. That’s more than double Biden’s current lead in Arizona. An anonymous email shown during testimony that purportedly came from a Pima county IT worker claimed that Democrat election officials were embedding 30,000 votes for every Democrat on the ticket (starting with Biden) in Pima county, a number they believed would coincide with expected voter turnout and not attract attention. Just your garden variety cheating.”

According to Ken the expert who presented that email, Colonel Phil Waldron, is a former “white hat” hacker from a DoD cyber unit. He explained exactly how Dominion initiated a “man in the middle” attack on the election results and changed votes using an algorithm. It’s right out of my book.”

Ken suggested the following piece from The Spectator, which gives a broad overview of “all that stinks” in this election. https://spectator.us/reasons-why-the-2020-presidential-election-is-deeply-puzzling/

Ken’s book can be ordered from Amazon using this link: https://amzn.to/2VBuKvF

Ken tending his olive grove in France

In addition to Amelia Island Ken also has residences in the south of France where he grows olives and writes his books, and in Sweden, his wife Christina’s native country.

He discovered Amelia Island he says, “totally by accident. I came down for a conference at the Omni where I was a speaker with Jeff Sessions and just loved it – and love Florida.”

Would he ever consider running for office again? “Never say never”, he tells me, “but….having spent a year running for Congress, I appreciate what a commitment it is, and how hard it is. The best of it is being with people; the worst of it is having to ask them for money.”

He can be contacted at kentimmerman@comcast.net.

***

A Wise Man’s Last Words: “Perhaps the most tragic aspect of today’s division is that much of it is a byproduct of our education system where young people are taught to hate our nation’s founders and founding principles. However, it is these principles, though practiced imperfectly, that have created the freest and richest nation in mankind’s history.” – Walter Williams, https://spectator.org/walter-williams-rip/

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A Happy Ending: A light-hearted look at the ‘60s — https://youtu.be/lPj3SJcx0Wc

 

  • Comment (20)
  • Should this steal be allowed to pass, then no election in the US is ever trustworthy again. ReVote

  • Dave you write in the golf course/marina mess “It’s time to stop acquiring new stuff and hire competent outside folks to manage what we have…”. But that is exactly what the City has done for the last 10 years with Billy Casper Golf (Indigo) managing the golf course and Westrec managing the marina. These are management companies with great expertise that can’t overcome some of the underlying negative aspects of each property. You have a marina that everyone says from Day 1 was sited on a mud flat and the constant dredging expense has been its albatross. For the golf course, you have three disparate 9-hole courses that were not designed by a golf course architect but by the local head pro and hadn’t received any substantial improvement in terms of tee box and green rehabilitation in the decades before BCG took over. The city golf course did fine financially into the mid-2000s as it had no local competition for a public course. The development of what is now Amelia River was a great financial benefit to the airport enterprise fund with annual income of $225,000 but a major blow to the golf course enterprise fund. On top of that you have a decline of golf overall (although industry reports indicate it has stabilized over the last 3-4 years) and then the Great Recession. There is no “easy” button for solutions to these two enterprise funds, otherwise it would have been dealt with decades ago.

  • Much of the funding being used to purchase conservation land here in the city is from private donors and conservation organizations. One of the reasons the Charter Review Committee recommended to make this change (among others) to make it more difficult for these lands to be sold in the future was to protect the investment that these individuals and organizations are making in our community. It is hard to ask for donations from people to purchase conservation lands if they don’t feel confident that these lands wont be sold off in the future to profit for the city.

    • Benjamin,
      I think you are forgetting about the $1.2 million mandated property assessment for 2019-20 that is being used for the purchases. Of course, in the interest of fairness it should be pointed out that land sale restrictions previously were for a majority of the Commission and a 50%+1 majority vote in a public referendum. Such a sale should have a high bar but the new one is way outside the reach of a reasonable effort.

  • In short, when elections don’t go Mr. Scott’s way, it’s either because voters are stupid or because the election was rigged.

  • We were so sick of ever increasing taxes and shady deals which change to island from a quaint little town to tourist centered and under the table deals that we moved. Let the northerners who have two homes and use Florida for income tax evasion have it.

    • Sylvia, “shady deals” and “under the table deals”. Care to elaborate if you are talking about anything other than Wildlight?

  • How can they not know if it’s 300,000 or 2 million? Don’t they have a P&L sheet at city hall?

  • Watch your intake of kool aid. This election wasnt as bad as to 2016 election. You know, the one orchestrated by Putin.

  • Dave – I understand your anger, and I agree with many of the points you make, but here’s what I don’t understand.

    When you moved here you CHOSE to live within the city limits. I’m fairly sure that your (smarter than average) real estate agent agent explained the property tax situation to you and I’m reasonably sure (astute person that you seem to be) that you had the presence of mind to ask why taxes were x% higher in the city than “across the street” in the county.

    When I moved here 20 years ago, the best answer I got to that question was, “you get a discount at the golf course”. Really. While I, as a non-golfer, didn’t reject city real estate out of hand, I kept that information in mind when evaluating a potential home. Local politics, at the time, didn’t enter into the equation.

    Twenty years ago many citizens protested the rampant growth in the city/county while others complained that property rights were being infringed and development should continue unabated. When locals overwhelmingly rejected expanding the Walmart on the island, Walmart built the Supercenter in Yulee. So here we are in 2020. Taxes are rising (city and county) and no one likes it.

    My point (yes I have one) is that:
    (1) politics aside, you chose to live in the city, despite the well known higher tax rates,
    (2) over the years, you have promoted a pro-development, pro-property rights, anti-conservation agenda, and
    (3) you now reject the consequences of the very same policies that like-minded politicians, many years before you, have implemented. Although you, personally, are not responsible for Fernandina’s (and Nassau’s) current situation, one could make the argument that if people, after they move here, quit trying to “improve” this place, we’d be a lot better off.

    Final point – in the words of the immortal Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

  • Indeed, the participants in the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773 protesting high taxes made a bad choice of residence.

  • Good Lord Mr. Timmerman, where have you been hiding?!! Fernandina Beach is desperate for competent leadership. Please consider playing a role here. We need you. Would you consider a future commissioner position? Or town manager? Mr Scott, I am also voting for David Sturges tomorrow to blunt the far left malignant influence of Thing 1 and Thing 2. God bless America, God bless Fernandina Beach and God bless President Trump as he battles rampant fraud. We are watching our nation being destroyed.

    • Thanks, Agnes – and thanks to Shane and William Shafer below.

      When we moved down here we chose to live outside the City limits, gas being cheaper than taxes.

      I am still in a state of disbelief over this sham election. Everyone who was watching could see this massive fraud coming at us. The GOP filed dozens of lawsuits to stop the mail-in ballots well before the election, and yet none of the courts ruled in their favor.

      I say to my friends who believe that Biden won: do you really want as president someone who 47% of the population are convinced is only there by fraud? If you truly care about our democracy, you should be in favor of REAL recounts (not the sham we had in Georgia), signature verification, and Voter ID. If Biden’s margin was so big, you should be happy to prove it. But if you devalue our votes by stuffing ballot boxes right in front of our eyes, as happened in Atlanta, then we will devalue your power and your authority over us. I fear for our country for the first time in my life.

  • Once again, thank you for opening my eyes and also confirming my beliefs.
    At this point, my concern is, why do we need permission from our own Supreme Court to prosecute law breakers? Where does the buck stop? Who is ultimately responsible for ensuring our laws are upheld? I fear that there will be very strong backlash from people who have had enough cheating and anti-American actions.

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