Residents of Fernandina Beach who vote for Ronald “Chip” Ross for City Commissioner Tuesday, November 7, couldn’t do more harm to the community and local citizenry unless they burned the city to the ground.
A vote for Ross is like praying for a category 5 hurricane to hit the city dead center as he offers nothing but chaos, confusion, conflict and frivolous lawsuits that end up costing tax payers money and generates only grief, misery and expense for residents. Ross is running for the Group two commission seat being vacated by Mayor Robin Lentz, who is not seeking reelection.
“Primum non nocere”, the Latin phrase that means “First, do no harm” is one of the principal precepts of bioethics that all healthcare students are taught in school, and may be practiced by the doctor within his medical arena, but outside of it it’s “Katy, bar the door!” This guy seethes with anger and generates bedlam wherever he lives.
This pompous, part-time emergency room doctor at Baptist Medical Center, is a regular at commission meetings, which he attends armed with power point pie charts, graphs, statistics and a barrel of BS, followed-up by lawsuits that do nothing but satiate his appetite for publicity, create collateral damage, cause financial and personal misery to individual residents, and cost all tax payers money. Absolutely nothing he does benefits the community. Nothing!
Infected with perpetual gadflyism, he causes enormous damage, expense and grief as a frenzied private citizen. He even admits he was booted off the city’s Planning Advisory Board (PAB) because of his disruptive behavior. The PAB is authorized by the City Commission as the Local Planning Agency (LPA) and makes recommendations to the City Commission on the adoption of Comprehensive Plan amendments and Future Land Use map as well as amendments and requests for rezoning.
Clarification: Because I am not an attorney I may have inadvertently misinterpreted a September 7 ruling by Florida Judge Suzanne Van Wyk that appeared in an earlier version of this blog, Friday, November 3. In the four-page document the City of Fernandina Beach (respondent) “…moved for an order that Petitioner (Ronald “Chip” Ross) …..fabricated evidence and lied under oath…” In addition it states that: “In his response to the Motion, Petitioner admitted he did not take the photograph depicted in Exhibit P6, contrary to his testimony under oath at the final hearing.” As a result the photos, as well as the Petitioner’s testimony purporting to authenticate those photos was stricken from the record by order of Judge Van Wyk.
Dr. Ross alerted me to a subsequent ruling by Judge Wyk issued September 15, 2017 that I had been unaware of, reversing her September 7 order to “…strike Certain Exhibits and Testimony…”
Both rulings can be found at www.doah.state.fl.us, case number 17-3286GM.
He wears the mantle of “troublemaker” with pride boasting at recent appearances before the Historic Fernandina Business Association (HFBA) and the Fernandina Observer forum that it’s what many folks call him. His campaign manager Ron “Get off my lawn you little bastards” Sapp, even wrote a letter to the editor of the Fernandina News Leader 10/20/2017 saying Ross has been labeled a “troublemaker.”
Electing this outraged whirligig to the Commission would convert City Hall into a Tuesday evening Jerry Springer Show venue. As a private citizen Ross will still be an annoyance and a nuisance, but at least he won’t roaming at large inside the hen house.
His campaign manager, the far-left Sapp, another island crank and no-growth-at-any-cost-nut, actually tried to pass an ordinance limiting Amelia Island’s population when he served as a commissioner many years ago. If a sequel to the film “Grumpy Old Men” was ever contemplated these two grouchy geezers would be candidates for the leading roles.
Ross recently cost the city’s tax payers $20,000 because of two misguided legal actions he filed.
Not only are we, the tax payers, on the hook for the $20K because of the his legal antics, but the actions are also keeping a couple out of a house in the historic district they spent thousands of dollars to restore. The $20K is the cost of the city’s $10K insurance deductible each on the two cases. Ross doesn’t care.
Should Ross be elected he will be required to take an oath swearing that he “… will support, defend and protect … the Charter of the City of Fernandina Beach; that I will bear true faith, loyalty and allegiance to the same; … and that I will faithfully perform all the duties as the City Commissioner for the City of Fernandina Beach … .”
Does the execution of the oath mean that all his lawsuits and challenges against the city will be dropped? Doesn’t bearing “true faith, loyalty and allegiance” to the city mean that a commissioner will support decisions of the commission, whether or not he or she personally agrees with such decisions? He certainly doesn’t do that now. Why would he change?
In a press release announcing his campaign the ornery, litigious Ross said: “I lived for 30 years in Calvert County Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay known for its ‘Tranquil Living at Tidewater’. In less than 15 years the population grew from 25,000 to over 70,000. The developers and real estate interests prospered. Life for the rest of us became anything but tranquil. My wife and I chose to live in Fernandina Beach because of what it is, not what the current City Commission apparently wants the City to become.” Oh really? Based on media reports out of the doctor’s former residence, that community’s tranquility was upended because of the narcissistic doctor’s behavior. The community was thrilled to see him head south, particularly his former neighbors on Solomon’s Island, Maryland, whose businesses he tried to destroy and lives he tried to ruin. Tranquility returned only after Ross departed say media reports from the area.
Charles Donnelly, an attorney for the Solomon’s Island Tiki Bar was quoted in an April 19, 2012 Southern Maryland Weekly Galvert Gazette article headlined “Local wins give Tiki Bar much to celebrate” saying that his client (Tiki Bar) “spent between $300,000 and $500,000 on attorneys, architects and legal fees over the years defending itself from Ross.”
Other area media reported about Ross’s activities in his former residence including one in the Washington Post by J. Freedom du Lac, the Post’s general assignment news editor, headlined “At the famed Tiki Bar in Southern Maryland, it’s the doctor vs. the drinkers.” Sean Rice of The BayNet.com authored another one about Ross on September 22, 2006 headlined “Prominent Tiki Bar Foe Charged with Intoxicated Endangerment.”
According to these Maryland and Washington D.C. news reports Ross tried to strip a local bar in his former residence of its liquor license and had legal charges brought against him. The entire, very bizarre report of Ross’s activities can be found by going to: http://www.thebaynet.com/articles/0906/prominent-tiki-bar-foe-charged-with-intoxicated-endangerment.html. The Washington Post article can be read in the May 28, 2011 Washington Post (At the famed Tiki Bar in Southern Maryland, it’s the … – Washington Post ). If you’re think of voting for Ross you need to read these articles.
Ross moved here near the downtown port and then advocated for port rules that would have restricted the two pulp mills and the island’s port management company. He made an Armageddon presentation about coal at the city commission meeting despite the fact that coal has been safely unloaded off Heckscher Drive in Jacksonville for years with no reported adverse impact, ever. All he managed to do was alienate the employees and management of the city’s largest employers and their exemplary corporate citizens — Rayonier, West Rock and Port Manager Kinder Morgan.
Unless it’s his property, property rights appear to mean nothing to Ross. He is attempting to prevent the construction of a 224-unit apartment complex in a scum-covered, mosquito-infested dumping ditch at South 14th Street and Lime in Fernandina Beach that would provide much needed housing. Ross says it’s a wetlands area, when in fact it’s a low lying piece of land that collects rain water that doesn’t drain properly. He also recently filed suits that prevent a couple from inhabiting a home they spent thousands of dollars renovating on North 2nd Street downtown.
The North 2nd Street home renovation issue is complicated but in a nutshell Robert and Loretta Erickson purchased property on the northeast corner of Broome and North Second Streets and renovated a house on it. The property was zoned industrial at the time but because “residential” is defined as a non-conforming use within an industrial district, they couldn’t move into it. Had the house been continuously occupied prior to their purchase, there wouldn’t have been a problem. But because the non-conforming use (“residential”) of the property had been in effect abandoned, residential use was not an option.
So, as they should have, the City Commission approved by a 5-0 vote changes for the property at its June 6, 2017 session that would have enabled the Ericksons to move into their renovated house. Then along came Ross who challenged the city’s actions. Ross, who lives a block away from the property in question, has filed two legal actions, one with the State Division of Administrative Hearings and the other in Circuit Court.
As a result of this extreme activist’s suits the Ericksons can’t move into the house they paid thousands of dollars to restore and the litigious doctor’s actions may have the issue tied up in courts for years. Until these matters can be decided by the proper authorities, all property owners in the challenged area are now in limbo because of Ross.
What a nice guy! Just the kind of person we want on the City Commission, right? Voters casting a ballot for Ross would be like Custer requesting more Indians.
In a letter to the editor in the News-Leader Ross attempted to justify his actions saying: “The survival of the character and fiber of our community requires thoughtful long term community vision guided by the Comprehensive Plan, not piecemeal revisions requested by self-interested individuals. For that reason, I recently filed several legal challenges concerning zoning changes approved by the City Commissioners. Some may say these are irritating legal actions that cost the tax payers money. Perhaps – but here is why I don’t think so, blah, blah, blah.”
In the meantime the Ericksons have invested thousands of dollars in a house they can’t live in, but which has only improved the appearance of the neighborhood where Ross lives. Others in the area are in limbo. If it wasn’t for the cost, time and misery involved this would be a mixed blessing because at least the Ericksons don’t have Ross for a neighbor.
Voters marking their ballot for Ross will be sticking a collective finger in the eye of all Fernandina Beach residents by choosing chaos, meanness, anger, self-promotion, and show-boating over sound governance. I don’t know if a sitting City Commissioner can file legal actions against the city, but if not, electing Ross may be the only way to stop his excessive, expensive nonsense, but that’s an untenable solution.
Ross causes chaos and misery wherever he goes including Solomon’s Island and Amelia Island. I suggest this atoll hopping crank would next be best suited for residence on Devil’s Island, the former French penal colony off the South American coast of French Guiana.
Viva Avila And Poynter: There are two other candidates running for this Group 3 seat: local businessmen Orlando Avila and retired chemist Medardo Monzon.
I’m encouraging folks to vote for Orlando Avila, a small business owner, who has operated a local shipping agency — All American Ship Agents — in Fernandina since 2012. Avila is married to a Fernandina Beach High School teacher and the couple have four young children in local schools. He obviously has a strong and vested interest in ensuring that the city operates smoothly and efficiently.
Avila has the endorsement of State Senator Aaron Bean and former City Clerk Mary Mercer, both well respected and admired government officials who are very familiar with all the candidates and their platforms as well as key city issues. Contributors to his campaign (Nick Deonas, Eric Corbett, John Cascone, John Stillwell, etc.) include a mix of long-time residents and respected business people, demonstrating that his platform has broad appeal.
I like Avila’s positions on balancing property rights and protecting the environment as well as his stance on public/private partnerships and common sense regulations that promote local businesses and encourage new ones, while intelligently and fairly addressing environmental issues.
Columbian-born chemist and business executive Medardo Monzon, is a solid citizen, but he appears weak on property rights and I fear his environmental stance would promote needless and burdensome regulations and possibly provoke expensive law suits. I’m not sure he, any more than Ross, understands that the City Commission doesn’t have the authority to regulate legal commerce at our port. The Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3) of the U.S. Constitution says only the U.S. Congress does. In fact the Commerce Clause authorizes Congress to regulate commerce in order to ensure that the flow of interstate commerce is FREE from local restraints imposed by various state and local bureaucrats.
I want a clean and safe city as much as anyone else, but it needs to be balanced. Besides we already have extreme environmentalist Commissioners Johnny Miller and Len Kreger running around town like their hair is on fire screaming that the sky is falling. We need officials like Avila and Tim Poynter to toss a bucket of cold water on them every once in a while to calm them down and maintain a healthy balance.
In the Group two race it’s incumbent restaurateur Poynter running against challenger Phil Chapman. Even though I disagreed with Poynter’s vote to spend $4.2 million to build a winged airport terminal building, he is the best candidate and the smartest commissioner in the chambers. His common sense approach, experience and intellect are valuable assets. Based on what I’ve seen and read about his opponent, Mr. Chapman, all I’ve heard is “I’ll listen.” He may be a good listener but based on what I’ve seen he doesn’t seem to absorb much of what he’s hearing as he appears confused when it comes to facts.
Do the city, yourselves, and fellow citizens a service and vote for Avila and Poynter.
All Tricks & No Treats For NFL: The World Series cleaned the NFL’s disrespectful kneeling players’ clocks in ratings this past Sunday evening and all day Sunday as disgruntled fans celebrated Halloween early by showing up at NFL stadiums as empty seats. The NFL players are dolts, the owners confused and impotent, and the commissioner inept. They’ve debased their brand so badly it’ll take years to recover, if ever. Gals, your husbands and boyfriends will have a lot of time these coming Sundays to entertain you.
Property liens aren’t exactly what you might think. What would happen if a lien far greater than the value of a property remains? The lot is never improved and the buyer would likely let the property sit….with no future buyer, given the liens. Orlando and his partner made a mistake in buying without thoroughly researching the property, but liens are negotiated downward to provide some benefit to both parties. The city makes some of the lien, partially based on old violations, and future tax revenue. The neighborhood gains an improved property eventually, as it becomes marketable instead of a blighted, never used site.
Got to love how Orlando Avila gets the City to get rid of property liens on his real estate investments. Such a great deal he got with political pressure on the City!! Glad to know Ben Morrison got a promotion to the Planning Board out of this deal. Funny how certain people get special deals. Read this from the Folio: http://folioweekly.com/stories/lien-lessons,18579
Ed, do you believe that this piece is factually correct? No one can find the charges in any judicial system that have been put in this piece.
I’m not sure why the personal disdain for Mr. Sapp? Perhaps due to differing views? Whatever your reason, my experience with him during my lifetime as a City Resident has always been positive. I may not agree with him politically sometimes, but I always respect his views. If you enjoy our abundant beach access locations, our lack of wall to wall beach front hotels/condominiums, or beautiful Egans Creek Greenway, you can thank Mr. Sapp for being a part of the Commission that helped add to our wonderful quality of life. Sure he’s done some things in regard to trying to maintain our quality of life that might seem odd to some folks, but I’ve always felt he’s done things because he cares about his community. I enjoy reading your blog, for pure entertainment, but if anyone is casting for “Grumpy Old Men”, I’m certain you would win the role, hands down. By the way, I spent many a day playing in the neighborhood downtown when I was growing up, and have cut through the Sapp lawn on numerous occasions, and not once was I yelled at. Something tells me that wouldn’t be the case in your neighborhood…..
To Eric’s point, yes, I should have sharpened the pencil a bit more on this one. In my own zeal to call out what I viewed as an incomplete analysis – I did precisely what I complained of! My apologies to Orlando, as I should indeed have simply asked him directly, which is, ironically, the very same advice I was giving Dave. Regrettably, I need to make my own advice as well.
Further to Mr. Rohde’s inquiry, he has spoken to me and seen me at several FBCC meetings and anyone may speak at FBCC meetings regardless of where you reside.
In response to Leslie Rhode’s inquiry, as a former law enforcement officer, my address is protected from public disclosure on voter rolls and other public documents and that carries whether you are active or not. However a quick check of the Nassau county Property Appraisers office will verify my residence. Further, I could not have qualified without being a city resident, the SOE and City Clerk verify the information.
I appreciate Dave’s kind words. I also appreciate Eric Corbett’s response and support.
Thank you both
Leslie Rohde, what you’ve written about Mr Avila is patently false. I’ve personally been to the Avila home on a few occasions and know it to be in the city. I was thinking perhaps he had his address redacted because he worked as a probation officer many years ago, or maybe because his wife is in the school system, but no. I simply went to the property appraiser’s website and typed in “Avila”. Their address was then available as well as their property tax bill and other info about their home. Perhaps your investigation skills need a little sharpening. Oh well.
You do some reasonably decent analysis here, so I feel you would want to know of a significant oversight. After all, a truly objective and reasoned approach to selecting candidates would require an investigation of all the candidates to a more-or-less equal depth, right?
You’ve done a yeoman’s job on Ross and Monzon (with maybe some details missing for both) both you’ve missed something TRULY significant regarding Avila.
I am in possession of the voter roles for the city – nothing nefarious there, it’s a public record – and Mr. Avila is not present among the 10,478 names contained therein. Nor is his wife.
I downloaded the financial disclosures for all the candidates. Mr Avila’s address is redacted. Very odd.
Then it struck me – I’ve never seen Orlando stand to speak at a commission meeting. Hmm, could it be because the first thing you must do is to state your address when addressing the commission? That’s more than odd – that’s weird.
Here is a person that can not vote, and can not speak at a commission meeting, but would like to serve on the commission – so long as no one but the supervisor of elections knows where he lives.
This is odd beyond my understanding.
The import of these *verifiable* facts is that Mr. Avila can participate in city government ONLY by being elected! He is otherwise a silent participant in our future.
Given that the citizen survey shows a relative distrust in our city government, it seems inconceivable that we should trust a person to represent us when they have so little trust of their neighbors as to not reveal where they live.
Dave, your view of what Mr. Avila stands for may or may not be true, in point of fact, I think you will find that your comparison of his views to Monzon’s is incorrect – if you would just spend the time with Medardo to find out – but none of that withstanding, why would I place my trust in a person that does not trust me with even is address?
Avila and Poynter! Two things upon which we agree, Dave! And beer. Also, beer. I read every week and usually find plenty of places where we differ, but this week you and I are completely on the same page. Keep it up!
I get the feeling you don’t like Mister Ross!
I always look forward to your musings, however today,i just read the bergdahl decision,and cannot concentrate…what a sad day,for the UCMJ…
Great analysis Dave.
I am amazed that, following the ruling of 7th September, Dr Ross has not withdrawn his candidacy. But then, on second thoughts………!!!
Let’s hope their is a clear majority for one of the other two.
I shade your good feelings for Tim and his Karibrew but I can’t support anyone who would vote for the monstrosity being built at the airport.
Have to agree with your endorsement of Tim Poynter, He is the most Knowledgeable, of the sitting Commissioners, on the mechanics of running this City. Plus he has experience as an independent business man and a whole bunch of common sense.
On the other candidates, Not so much, Avila is the one with the deep pockets for this Campaign. the majority of which comes from the business interests, primarily having to do with the Port and it’s interests. As you all should remember, this is the guy who was proactive and vocal about the Port handling 500,000 Tons of Coal per year. at the time he also dismissed and disparaged the local retired people in an open OHPA forum. Anybody else ever lived in a Coal handling town but me.? You don’t want it, the Business’s in the Historic District don’t want it. Avila makes his money off the Port, I understand that, he needs to feed his family, The Port is front and center, it’s his Priority. That’s why he’s running period. The other clear choice in my book is Medardo Monzon, He has a depth of experience that the other candidates lack. He has Managed Companies, with budgets that far exceeds this Cities. He is a strong environmentalist, and has a Holistic approach in his vision for this Community. Look, we are a growing community, we can’t stop the growth, I’ve never heard of a community that was able to Stop Growth. (Visit Hilton Head) The solution to growth, is how you prepare for it, and how you manage it. Medardo Monzon, has the tools we need to manage this Communities future. He is by far the best candidate for a seat on our City Commission.
Dave, I learned about Chip Ross false testimony under oath a few days ago. I wish I could recall my vote by mail.
How can trust in local government ever improve if the community elects this shady character?
I hope there’s a runoff election. I would vote for Monzon because of his impressive credentials compared to Avila who’s a lightweight. What has Avila actually led? His slogan sounds nice but he hasn’t done anything.
Dave, every time you use the word “gals” you are unconsciously revealing your age and predisposition toward cultural expressions of bygone generations. I know what you’re thinking, but this silly word has nothing to do with liberal political correctness. Words like “gals” and “chicks” to refer to girls and women are no longer relevant today as they were when you and I were growing up. I urge you to step into the 21st century with your vocabulary, but I also suspect you’ll continue to use the word “gals” in spite. Then, again, you’ll now probably give pause.
Hi Dave. You know I rarely agree with you on anything political but today…….you’re right on point!
People like this guy Ross gives normal folks fits and costs cities and others big bucks defending silly law suits. If local lawyers refused to file them maybe he would get the message.Nassau Baptist must be hard up for ER docs to hire this guy.
Sometimes the truth hurts. As a county dweller I still depend on Fernandina to manage business conducive to all county residents as it is our county seat. Thanks again, Dave, for your interesting blogs each week.
I urge people to vote for Chip Ross. He approaches issues from an analytical and data driven perspective. He wants to preserve open space, wetlands, and the tree canopy – all of which attracted most people to the island. I am not against growth and tourism. I do think we need to plan for growth so we do not destroy the beauty that brought us here, and the habitat that other species depend upon for their existence. PLEASE VOTE FOR CHIP ROSS.
Thanks for the input…I will be sure to vote for Monzon and Chapman.
Enjoyed your article. I dont live in the city so cannot vote but always read your Friday blog with great interest. I
love to be entertained 🌹
Quite funny, but I agree with your choices.