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 Walls Breached By An Army Of Bureaucrats

For thousands of years fortified city walls were designed to prevent violence and plundering by keeping bad guys out enabling the good guys to go about their business unmolested.

Early residents of Fernandina Beach were surrounded by walls of water. They constructed Fort San Carlos on the northwest side of Amelia Island and Fort Clinch on the northeast side to protect residents from naval invasions.

Fort San Carlos crumbled into the sea while Fort Clinch is now a tourist attraction, both victims of military obsolescence. But a stealthier and more malicious adversary has taken the place of armed invaders. Locals have been ambushed by an internal army of fifth column bureaucrats.

Fernandina Beach’s Welcome Wagon.

Despite an economically crippling virus pandemic causing massive local unemployment the community has been overrun by an army of inept and greedy administrators, tax and spend representatives, frenzied activist groups, and egotistical and clueless politicians. Armed with multiple weapons of taxes, permitting and impact fees, and confiscatory conservation levies, this growing swarm of bureaucrats pillage and loot hapless locals without firing a shot.

What was supposed to be a defensive barrier of elected officials and administrators intended to serve and protect its citizens has lulled locals into a false sense of security while it steadily morphed into a franchise that would make organized crime envious.

The confiscatory conservation tax foisted on tax payers by the city last year and supported by an army of radical tree-hugging mercenaries, resulted in a tax increase that now has City Manager Dale Martin and his Daddy Warbucks sidekick, Commissioner Chip Ross, buying chunks of land helter-skelter with tax payer funds. Like Monty Python’s Knights that say “Ni”, the tree-huggers demanded shrubberies and a cowed commission delivered.

The latest in the madcap duo’s acreage acquisition antics took place during the last few days when the city decided to cough up $675,000 of our cash to buy a three-month option on a 5.35-acre parcel of land purchased about a year ago by former local car dealership owner Rick Keffer for $475,000.

Keffer is a smart businessman, so his willingness to sell to the city rather than a developer/investor indicates there were no other buyers interested – so unload it to the taxpayer for a quick $200,000 profit and avoid taxes. A 42% premium in one year would make Bernie Madoff giggle.

“Look, it’s simple math, the seller actually lost money on the deal.”

Chip “Daddy Warbucks” Ross used Common Core whacky math in an attempt to justify the purchase declaring that Keffer didn’t make a profit but actually lost money. “I would suggest that the owner is not making a 42 percent profit, but that he is losing $1.6M”, asserted Ross as he calculated what he says Keffer could have made had the property been developed. Math-challenged outgoing Commissioner Johnny “Moonbeam” Miller readily agreed with Ross’ 2 plus 2 equals 5 formula signaling just how screwy the deal is. Anything Moonbeam enthusiastically supports is not good for our walled-in resident’s wallets. The Commission then tossed a shutout at the tax payers with a 5-0 vote okaying the transaction.

But what’s the real price of this chunk of property? A local developer calculated the potential tax revenues that this property would take off of the tax rolls to show the full value of buying it.

  • $675k  Initial inflated cost
  • $400k  Lost tax revenues (city/county)-10 years @ 40k/yr (perpetuity)
  • $100k  Ongoing maintenance cost-10 years at $10K/yr (perpetuity)

$1,175,000 = Full cost of the property

“They don’t care what they pay,” said the local developer, “because it’s other people’s money. The crazy price is just the first cost. By converting it to public ownership they deny the city and county future tax revenues in perpetuity. The city keeps doing this and then demanding that the county pony up $500,000 in supplemental city funding. What they lack in common sense they compensate for in gall.”

Building Department prospecting for leads.

While the city’s running around gobbling up available property to prevent development, the Building and Permitting Department is dumpster diving for leftover clients to gouge for its outlandish permitting and review fees.

No amount of puffery by his flacks at the city’s Fernandina Observer PR firm can hide the fact that Stephen Beckman’s department faces massive, unsustainable financial losses. He’s a desperate man proposing to run a close to $2 million loss for his department this fiscal year.

Within the city’s bureaucratic walls there aren’t enough roofing jobs, remodels, additions, fences, etc. to cover his costs. His only option is to raise his sky-high rates even higher.

Beckman has added staff, purchased new technology, and faces a future where major development projects – the lifeblood of any building department –  are disappearing or already gone, chased over the city’s walls by an anti-business crowd, high taxes, and a hostile city commission. Developers make decisions based on economics. If a project within the city walls makes economic sense, they’ll pay Beckman’s exorbitant  fees. If not, they’ll move on to projects outside of the city’s walls. These are not stupid people.

The city’s walls also contains a raucous coalition of crazed tree-hugging, fist-shaking, tantrum-throwing conservation mercenaries who have intimidated the current City Commission into curbing development and buying up potential development properties. As my source close to the ground inside the corridors of the city walls says: “The  city has reached ‘old age’ and its future is to protect, upgrade, and restore what exists.”

He goes on to predict that the current state of affairs does not require a large building department – or any at all. “The days of new subdivisions, new office buildings, new shopping plazas, and such has passed – within city walls we have arrived.” In addition, the pandemic has “locked in” the lack of need for new facilities with many storefronts standing empty.

This insider says: “I know that a large number of permits Beckman issues are for projects like roofing replacement, fencing, room additions, new doors, new windows, bathroom remodels, that sort of thing. Large million dollar plus projects are quite rare within the city walls. Just like medieval times, people will build outside the city walls because it’s cheaper, and the danger of an outside invasion – other than by viruses –  is nonexistent.”

The 2019-20 fiscal year losses for the Building Department amount to $1,506,310.

Mr. Beckman desperately needs a PR push. Maybe his online Fernandina Observer flacks can help solicit work to support his operation. Perhaps they could organize open houses or Meet Your Building Inspector forums, encouraging people to see how easy the process is and how helpful these folks are. How about a bake sale where they set up on tables in front of Ace, Home Depot and Lowe’s? The Observer’s next puff piece could showcase the department’s ability to help get home projects done quickly, safely, and fully code compliant. Maybe it could even offer expedited permits for an upcharge and conduct permit workshops.  Anything to change the image of the department as a bureaucratic, overpriced, tax payer burden.

The only real solution is to dissolve it entirely and merge its nonredundant operations with Nassau County.

Following is the department’s 2021 accounting presented in the city-approved budget:

$1,738,550   Fees
$1,238,619   Personnel
$880,124   Operations
$1,648,304   Cap. Exp.
$3,767,047   Total Exp.


Fees are projected down $85,845 from 2020. As it currently stands the Building Department risks becoming the new marina!


Channel switching pandemonium averted.

Local Riot Deterred: I witnessed an incident at Main Beach’s Sandbar & Restaurant last Saturday that vividly illustrates the unhinged mindset of hardcore Democrats. They can’t even handle winning.

Obviously not satisfied with her desired outcome of the presidential election an angry, middle-aged customer presumed she was entitled to more. She demanded that Sandbar employees turn the establishment’s TVs to those channels preparing to broadcast a Joe Biden speech.

Channel changing by Sandbar management at that point would have accomplished something no other group has been able to achieve in 116 years – uniting University of Florida Gator and University of Georgia Bulldog football fans in a common cause. These two highly partisan Sandbar groups of fiercely fanatical Bulldog and Gator fans were there watching their respective teams play their annual Jacksonville-based game. The enthusiastic jersey-wearing fans that had also gathered to watch the Clemson-Notre Dame game would no doubt have voiced their raucous disapproval about any channel switching efforts.

Totally disregarding the boisterous crowd of devoted fans, this oblivious and incensed diner was so enraged by management’s refusal to meet her demand that she insisted management comp her meals and drinks. When they refused she told them that she would retaliate with lousy online restaurant reviews. Based on her boorish behavior I can easily understand why this woman dined alone.


Corona Virus Questions: Last year 1.5 million people worldwide died of tuberculosis, a highly contagious airborne disease. Why weren’t we ordered to wear masks and isolate during that worldwide pandemic? If the Corona virus is so deadly and requires distancing, and intense sanitary measures why hasn’t it wiped out the entire homeless population that doesn’t practice any kind of hygiene or distancing? Why is it called social distancing when there is nothing social about it, just the opposite? If the objective is to save human lives why are abortion clinics that murder more than 3,000 babies a day in the U.S. allowed to stay open and many eye care and dental  offices forced to close? Why do Democrats lecture us about the sanctity of life then harangue and vote against U.S. Supreme Court nominees they think will reverse the baby-killing Roe vs. Wade abortion decision? Why are we being told to stay at home to avoid getting the Corona virus, but criminals are released so they won’t get it? Why can I buy a lottery ticket in some states but not seeds for a home garden? Why are businesses laying off thousands of workers but federal, state, and local governments not laying off any? Why is the city of Fernandina Beach hiring more bureaucrats when our local hospitality-based economy has been forced to lay off thousands due to the pandemic? Are you as confused as I am or is it just me?


One More Thing: The media were gleefully supportive of  Stacy Abrams for claiming she really won the governorship in Georgia, but they excoriate Trump for the exact same thing.


Unhinged Democrats Continued: During  a recent kerfuffle in Chicago 19 people were injured – two rioters and 17 police officers. This spurred Massachusetts Democrat Congressional Representative and Samuel Jackson look-a-like, Ayanna Presley, to say: “There needs to be unrest in the streets as long as there is unrest in our lives.” Apparently the House no longer censures its members for spouting such spurious crap. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, have been spewing antisemitic bilge ever since they arrived in Congress and not one of the three dozen Jews there has uttered a word taking them to task for their verbal garbage.


Bad News Ahead: Investor, author, CEO, pundit, and columnist Joel Ross says it is going to be very messy in DC as the far-left screams at the leaders of the House and Biden to pass their policies. The bartender AOC has already attacked her fellow Dems pretty viciously, and she’s just getting started. It will get really ugly. Ross says “anyone who thinks there is going to be a coming together of any kind is in lala land. I assume they are having victory celebrations in Iran and China right now. The world just became a much more dangerous place.”

Ross predicts that Biden is not mentally capable to deal with all that stress and will not know what to do as the competing factions battle for control of him. “That is when Harris becomes really dangerous, and, along with Pelosi and Schumer, he gets pushed to concede to far left policies.”


Think About This: Do you think the almost 72 million folks that voted for Donald Trump might be a bit skeptical of the demands for evidence from the same people who spent the last four years accusing President Trump of being a Russian agent and an illegitimate president with no evidence whatsoever? Americans cast more votes for President Trump than any other president in American history except Joe Biden.


Electoral Ballgame: The Electoral College system so ingeniously created by the Founding Fathers for our national elections is like baseball’s World Series. It’s not the team that scores the most runs that wins, but the team that wins four of seven games.


Biden No Indian Giver: Under a Biden presidency Senator Elizabeth Warren probably will not be granted a cabinet position. If she left the Senate to join a Biden Cabinet Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker would appoint a Republican to take her vacant seat ensuring and/or increasing a GOP Senate majority.


The Week’s Best Headline:  “Journalists Switch From Offense To Defense.” – Babylon Bee.


How Deep Is The Swamp? The final vote count for residents of Washington D.C. left no doubt about the depth of “The Swamp”. Voters there went for Joe Biden by 93.7 percent while only 5.2 percent marked their ballots for Donald Trump. And where do all these Democrat voters work?


Wait! What? While pouring milk into my cereal the other day did I see Hunter Biden’s picture on the carton? Speaking of Hunter Biden, will dad issue him a pardon when and if he makes it to the White House?


Vote Naked? An alert reader discovered this sign at a Nassau County polling place last week.

The System Is Busted: West coast columnist Burt Prelutsky thinks the Founders out-did themselves when they came up with the Constitution. But I agree with him that the one thing I wish they had done differently was to allow the states to run presidential elections anyway they wished.

It makes no sense.  It’s one thing for Florida to run its statewide elections differently from the way that Georgia runs theirs, but why are there 50 different sets of rules in a national election?

Where the heck does Pennsylvania get off saying that the signatures on a ballot needn’t even resemble the signatures on the registration?  And why does Pennsylvania and a handful of other states get to say that ballots can arrive three, four or even 10 days late and still be counted?

It’s bad enough that photo IDs aren’t required because, under the guise of concern over black voters being disenfranchised (although they always seem to have those pesky IDs when they enter courtrooms, board planes, cash checks and buy booze), the Democrats are against anything that prevents fraud at election time.

And why don’t dead Republicans ever vote?


Oops! I’m embarrassed when I make a mistake in this blog from getting a date or name wrong, misspelling a word or screwing up a quote. Sometimes my fingers get ahead of my brain and my fingers are dim. However, I take some consolation from Winston Churchill’s comment to his wife: “I would have made nothing if I had not made mistakes.” When an alert reader spots an error, I’ll correct it and move on recalling the words of the great late sports writer Red Smith to a fellow writer: “My boy, crow is an acquired taste.”


Meme Of The Week: It showed two dogs looking up at their owner and one of them, who has obviously been watching too much CNN, is saying: “We’re glad you’re home because the Russians pooped in the kitchen.”


Babylon Bee Headline Of Last Week: “Democrats Buying Weapons In Record Numbers To Protect Themselves From Democrats.”


Ice Follies: Tampa Plant High School classmate, friend, and American Spectator writer Larry Thornberry set me the following Thursday: “Hillsborough County (Florida) Sheriff’s deputies responding to reports of a domestic violence situation on Sept. 23 arrived at the apartment of Devon Garnett, 26, to find Garnett and two friends, fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning, watching Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. Neighbors had become alarmed after hearing shouts of “Shoot! Shoot!” and “I dare you to shoot!” just before 8:30 that evening, reported the Associated Press. The deputies “thought there were guns in the house,” said Garnett, who told them, “Nope, we’re just screaming for Steven Stamkos.” [Associated Press, 9/25/2020].

  • Comment (18)
  • Dave, as a woman and not as a Dem or Rep I want to remind you that Roe vs Wade allows a woman to safely choose what is right for her. Just because you are pro-choice doesn’t mean you are pro-abortion. Many clinics provide more services then just abortion, like birth control. Also, the same folks who are against abortion want to do away with many of the tools to raise those unwanted babies, like pre-existing conditions and the ACA, and “socialism” that provides WIC among other things.

    • If a baby in utero is killed along with the mother during a homicide the perpetrator is charged with two murders, the mother and the baby. But somehow it’s ok for a mother to kill her own baby. What are the mental/emotional after effects on a woman who has killed her baby and then has to live with that reality for the rest of her life. Who is really benefiting from convincing women that it’s ok to murder their babies?

  • LOVE your Blog!!! Always magnificently written…many times painfully so…but always TRUE!!! Honestly and Common Sense. What a splendid combination! Thank you for your mammoth efforts to keep us informed, amused, and AWARE!

  • Good column Dave. We missed you at PJD’s. There was a great interview of Ken Timmerman this week on NEWSMAX. Maybe for next’s works column? And how about G. Minshew and her drag queen movie?

  • 9000 deaths in the US in 2019 from tuberculosis. 244,000 deaths in the last 8 months attributed to Covid-19 in the US. I can’t believe I had to point this out.

    • Interesting observation on tuberculosis. When researching that fact, did you notice that the worry now is that Covid will cause tuberculosis now dormant in many to activate and could lead to something like 6 million cases by 2025. Surprised no one pointed out how crafty Trump was when he sprung this Covid trap to not only cause him to lose an election but to be credited with inflicting tuberculosis on millions world wide too. This news will be brought to the fore by those who blamed Bush and Chaney for the levee breaches in New Orleans during Katrina because they were covertly dynamiting the levees. In case you missed it, the disease came from China, perhaps from a lab researching bio weapons. No nation on earth has yet figured a way to stop the disease from spreading, not even lockdowns, therapies, vaccines, or witchcraft. Those saying Trump should have done this or that could probably do better guessing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

  • I want to congratulate myself on my historic loss. I lost the electoral college in a landslide, and nobody has ever lost the popular vote by more than me!

    I am the first president in history to be impeached, lose re-election and lose the popular vote (twice).


  • We have no one but ourselves to blame for the mess the current commission has wrought these last years.
    After all, it was a complacent electorate that allowed them to get elected in the first place.
    Hopefully, Bradley and David (vote for him everybody) will start to change the course of the insanity that has been allowed there in city hall.
    Let’s take our city back!

  • Dave, sometimes I think you will never learn Shakedown City New Math. City building official Beckman tried to explain to you that the city’s fees at 550% above the county’s are not too high. Rather, he says the county’s fees are too low. Now, Mr. Ross is trying to explain that he did not pay too much for the Keffer parcel. No, he really saved the city a ton of money. I get it and I have some property I would be delighted to sell to help them save even more money using Shakedown City New Math, of course. Fortunately, the Nassau Count folks do not appear to understand Shakedown City New Math so I expect they are unlikely to spend my money to fund the city’s financial irresponsibility. Raise county taxes to generate $500 K to finance city improvements? Does that take chutzpa or what?

  • A quip doing the rounds here in the UK:
    Dear Americans,
    Let’s have no more jibes about the fact that cricket matches take 5 days and often fail to produce a winner…..

  • PLEASE VOTE FOR STURGES IN THE RUNOFF!! Let’s send in the warriors to take back the city. Between Bean and Sturges we should have a decent chance to reverse the Democrat damage done to Fernandina. Daddy Warbucks is a Democrat registered as a Republican. Daddy Warbucks is also planning on permanent mask mandates for the town. Bean and Sturges will follow Nassau County rules; not left wing lockdowns by Ross et al. VOTE FOR STURGES !! It’s very important

  • Four years ago and for the ensuing four years until now, I heard nothing from the right wing, but “get over it, your guy (or gal, in this case) lost”, even thought she won the popular vote only to lose in the electoral college. I heard “Trump won in a landslide-306 electoral votes”; and since then, and including now, we get to listen to the nasty-mouth, whinny, cry-baby lame-duck president bemoaning his loss, unwilling to concede with BS allegations of widespread voting fraud (even though the Dept. of Homeland Security, under Trump has denied these claims), and yet the lemmings continue to run behind this guy right over the cliff (Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, to name a few Trump-crushers). The point I am making Dave, is that you had no issue with the voting system four years ago, because of course things went your way, but now you are echoing the whiner-in-chief and his lemmings: panty waist Lindsey, whimpy-worm Teddy et al. As is typical, the right wing and the Hypocrite Party is in full force. So, in the words all of the Righties, said ad nauseum, “get over it, your guy lost”. BTW when you criticize and condone unfounded allegations of the voting systems of local and state governments, you criticize people like Vicki Cannon, our former Supervisor of Elections, WITHOUT MERIT. And, as a side note, if the elections were so bad, then even the races where Republicans won (Senatorial, House, etc.), were also fraudulent or screwed up, after all, they were on the same ballot as the Presidential election, but if one is a member of the Hypocrite Party, I am sure you guys will find a way of clapping in victory with one hand while shaking your fist in range with the other. Mature people learn how to bury the hatchet, but unfortunately Trump is not a mature person, and now the nation waits in limbo, wasting precious time for a transition to start, while the Whiner-in-Chief petulantly stomps his feet in the Oval Office. Disgraceful, embarrassing and bordering on treason. Let’s hope another 9/11 is not on the horizon, only to be veiled by Trump’s selfish and delusional desires, and unwillingness to share vital information with the President-elect.

    • Coleman in response to your commentary: Gore 200, 37 days till it was over. I don’t recall Bush’s transition going well, right down to sabotaging the office equipment in the white house. More recently, Trump was greeted with a sham investigation as part of his transition. As far as 9/11 on the horizon, we don’t need to wait for it, it is already here in the form of a virus sent from China. Without it, your doddering candidate would have had nothing for the media to run him on. Lastly, he is NOT the president elect until so elected by the College. Till then he is the AP president elect, nothing more.

  • It was good to see a comment from
    Dave Seaman.Dave worked with me
    at the Golf Club of Amelia Island several
    years ago.Hi Dave hope you are well
    and safe it’s been a long time since we
    have spoken.My email address is listed
    below give me a shout would like to
    catch up.


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