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’s Fees Fleeced Flick Admits City Commission; Developer Awarded Settlement In 5-0 City Hall Mea Culpa

In a major about-face the City of Fernandina Beach admitted that local developer Ron Flick, owner and CEO of Compass, Inc., was fleeced out of $512,948.54 in 2019, agreed that it screwed up and will pay him back..

The City Commission, by a unanimous 5-0 vote, admitted the criminality at its Tuesday, June 18 City Commission meeting by agreeing to a $512,948.54 settlement with the local businessman, who has been fighting for four years to get his money back.

Flick built the multimillion dollar Marriott Courtyard and Springhill Suites hotels on Atlantic Avenue near Main Beach and was charged $68,167.72 in impact fees and $444,780.82 in building permits fees by the city. He called the fees extortion, pleaded in vain for refunds from the city, and eventually sued.

At the time city consiglieri Tammi Bach does what she normally does when the city is hit with lawsuits — hire outside attorneys to defend it. Her taxpayer-funded defensive legal measures get the same results her past ones achieved. They lose. They are tasked to defend the indefensible – the shakedown of local citizens. Has Ms. Bach ever won a suit? Not that I’m aware of.

During an explanation of the settlement Bach admitted the city made a mistake and settled to avoid further litigation. She also said: “There was no tax payer money involved in this settlement.” Huh? Isn’t Mr. Flick a tax payer? Also, any money the city has is tax payer money. It has no other source of income other than what it takes from citizens in taxes, fees, permits, licenses, etc. What the hell is Bach talking about?

But what about Mr. Flick’s costs? How much did he have to dish out to get his money back?

No charges were brought, nobody was put on trial, and nobody was jailed. Why not? Flick had more than a half million dollars taken from him from by the then Fernandina city hall crowd in broad daylight. At the time the city tried to cover it up by calling it all kinds of things: capacity fees, impact fees, inspections, permits, etc., everything  but the theft it was. They failed miserably in attempting to disguise their larceny.

The city attorney reacts to the resolution of another case.

Why weren’t the city Building Department, Inspectors, City Commissioners, City Manager, City Attorney, etc. charged with a crime? Fired? Recalled? And why were the city’s tax payers on the hook to pay for their criminal activity, and the outside attorneys Ms. Bach hires to defend them? If someone swindles a citizen out of money the authorities are called to investigate. Why weren’t they called when the city swindled its tax payers and businessmen out of money? Where was the investigation? The trial?

Hopefully the “good-‘ole-boy” graft and corruption period is over, and city officials are now operating as servants of the citizens that pay them. Most of the city miscreants involved in Flick’s fleecing are gone including the city manager who was canned, the bureaucrats who were fired, and the shady commissioners voted out of office.

In its refreshing about-face the entire City Commission agreed that Mr. Flick got a raw deal. Commissioner Chip Ross is the only commissioner still on today’s Commission that was part of the crowd that sat back and nodded approvingly while Mr. Flick’s pockets were picked. He was unusually quiet during the city’s mea culpa session and will probably hit the bricks for his Jacksonville condo, once his term ends this year. He won’t be missed.

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Warning: A former commissioner who was part of the team that oversaw the controversial impact/capacity fee structure is running for a Fernandina City Commission seat again.

Local restaurateur, Tim Poynter, who is vying against Christy Kelly for Ross’s term-limited seat, appears to think he’s exempt from the fees and permitting processes. His new eatery, at the site of the shuttered Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro, 14 South 2nd Street, has undergone extensive renovation including piping, several new air conditioning units and still ongoing interior kitchen and bathroom work without any visible signs of permits posted anywhere.

“I’ll call city hall and take care of those pesky permits right away.”

When I asked Poynter about that some three weeks ago he said he would call city hall as soon as he finished talking with me and sort it out. Did he make the call? I don’t know. Nobody has seen a permit posted anywhere on or near the building. What’s up with that? Does he feel exempt from the process? Not a good look for either Poynter or the city.

After Ross departs, the only other accomplice in the Flick fee fiasco left standing will be Ms. Bach. Isn’t it about time the consigliere was called to task. Her fingerprints are all over similar past fee fiascos and suits.

Mayoral candidate and Commissioner Darron Ayscue admitted to me that the developer’s treatment by the city was egregious. He and other newly elected members of the Commission confronted the city’s bureaucrats, demanding that the Building Department in charge of the ongoing malfeasance be cleaned up. It was. Not a single inspector at that time is still employed there, the department head is gone, and private inspectors are now contracted.

Commissioner Ayscue is running for mayor against Commissioner James Antun, who has mysteriously become an ally of Ross the past few months. Antun’s anti-fee, pro-business advocacy when he initially ran for office disappeared once elected. The local chiropractor has become mute except when siding with the belligerent gasbag Ross, and he’s become a pain in the neck, who won’t get my vote for mayor. Fireman Ayscue has his finger on the city’s pulse and displays that his sincerity in public and private is indeed genuine.

Tax payers indicate they might be fed up with the city attorney.

The city has had a well-deserved reputation for extorting its business community. And this isn’t the first time it’s had to cough up large sums of cash to local folks it swindled and pay for outside law firms, stiffing the taxpayer with the tab.

Last summer City Consigliere Bach responded by blaming an unnamed consultant for the city’s legal woes but never denied that the fees are illegal. “The only reason we lost is because a consultant didn’t do a good job justifying it, calculating fees on a napkin,” she whined.

That time the city spent more than $1 million and three years defending itself and all Ms. Bach could offer in its defense was a consultant scribbling fees on a napkin? http://www.davescottblog.com/bizarre-cocktail-napkin-defense-offered-by-city-consigliere-to-defend-trial-loses-alleged-illegal-impact-capacity-fees/

It’s time the current Commission took a long hard look at Ms. Bach’s record? Why does the city even need a fulltime attorney?

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Things I Wish I’d Said: “Forget the Joneses” and “Remember overnight success usually takes about 15 years.” – anonymous.

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Wait! What? “Bill Clinton paid $850,000 to Paula Jones to get her to go away. I don’t remember the FBI raiding his lawyer’s office.” – Tim Allen

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A Sickening Feeling: Never in the history of mankind has a disease been as politicized as the Wuhan virus, and never has the medical profession been so easily cowed and manipulated. For a while, even if a person was hit by a bus, but was found to have the virus, the death was attributed to Covid. Now, however, if a person dies in bed after getting vaccinated, the death is blamed on having been hit by a bus.

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Modern Science: NASA scientists says its Voyager 1 interstellar probe launched in 1977 is once again returning usable data from all four of its science instruments. NASA repaired the problem despite the spacecraft being 15 billion miles away. My refrigerator, that I purchased in 2012 stopped making ice cubes about a year ago and despite three visits technicians have still been unable to successfully repair it despite being only five miles away.

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A Local Paddling: The sixth annual Cross the Line Paddle for Veterans will take place Saturday, June 22nd  with a record 110 people registered to paddle kayaks the nine miles from downtown St. Mary’s, GA to Fernandina Beach.

Following a brief welcome by the mayors of the two communities, the kayakers will hit the water and head to Fernandina at approximately 8:30 a.m. The first kayakers are expected to arrive in Fernandina around 10:00, the last usually around 12:30.

Fernandina resident Billy Cimino, a former U.S. Army Ranger and one of the founders of the event, says all the money raised will go to Gratitude America, a North Florida veterans organization that focuses on driving awareness of Veteran Suicide prevention and PTSD. Along with 80 volunteers, major partners who donate over $1,000.00 each include the following:

  • Amelia River Cruise that transports all the paddlers to St. Mary’s
  • Nassau Moving Company that transports the kayaks to St. Mary’s
  • Eight Flags Insurance that handles insurance for the event
  • Oasis Marina that donates transient slips for the safety boats.

More than 30 other community groups and volunteers donate a variety of services and goods. Following the event a party will be held at the Fernandina Green Turtle on South 3rd St. beginning at 1 p.m. Food is available to volunteers and sponsors wearing wristbands and will be provided by Smoke-n-Da Cockpit, Coastal Pizza, and the Omni.

The public is invited to hear the music, which will be performed by Hupp Huppmann, Andrea Shinn, Michele Anders, and Kevan Wilson. The organization will also conduct a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle which is also open to the public with proceeds going to the veterans’ organization.

  • Comment (8)
  • Hats off to Billy Cimino for organizing the “Cross the Line Paddle for Veterans” event tomorrow. His eighth undertaking to help our veterans. I noticed he didn’t seem to get any support from our local gubamints.

  • Great article!!! How can Tim P get away with not paying permit fees? Outside attorneys being paid with our money for something that should have never happened? Who is watching the hen house??

  • Where is the Moderate Majority on this. Suddenly silent when it comes to fleecing the citizens.

    • How much did the cost of impact and permit fees contribute to quality home construction rising from $300/sq ft in 2019 to $600/sq ft in 2022 in Fernandina Beach? I don’t know. It didn’t matter. I couldn’t afford it, so I gave up the dream of retiring in Old Town and sold my lot. Then home insurance premiums soared by triple digits and it became clear that Florida, my home for over 40 years, had lost its shine. I drove through Old Town last weekend for the first time in two years to see what had become of the area that I fell in love with 15 years ago. My first impression was to question what happened to the Historic District Council. It couldn’t possibly be the same HDC that put me through the wringer four years ago before finally giving my house plans their approval. A few of the newer homes are conspicuous in their contrast to anything resembling historic Old Town character. Greased palms? I don’t know. I spotted an Open House and decided to go inside. It was an Eric Moser design built in 2021. Asking price? $1.25M for 2100 sq ft, and that was after dropping $50K because it had not sold after more than 100 days on the market. (The market in Old Town used to be so hot that I sold my lot four hours after it was listed.) The finishes did not match the asking price. Law of Unintended Consequences due in part or in whole because of high impact and permit fees? I don’t know. I can still see Fernandina Beach from the spot across the river where I’m building my forever home in Georgia. I feel fortunate to have dodged a bullet. I applaud Dave for his tenacity in shining a light on the exorbitant costs of construction endemic to the City of Fernandina Beach. Perhaps the city council’s intent all along was to discourage growth? It didn’t work. But with all the homes, new and old, up for sale in Old Town, I see signs of a housing bubble burst – and that won’t be good for city coffers.

    • Biden killed it – knocked it outta the ball park. Trump is finished. Good grief Charlie Brown!

    • I’ll save you the suspense. 75% think Trump won. 20% think Biden won. 5% think neither candidate won the debate.

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