Island Issues

Friends of the Library Take a Lot of Gas(s) During Contentious City Commission Session

wpid-img_53617863843310Things get so silly and absurd at City Hall at times that if the procedures weren’t recorded and televised people wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that takes place. The Tuesday, February 3 session is an example.

First, some background: Bill Flynn and his dedicated and hard working group of volunteers — Friends of the Library (FOL) — spent an inordinate amount of time and effort raising $400,000 that they gave to the city of Fernandina Beach toward building the new library extension. Folks, that’s a $400,000 gift to the residents of Fernandina Beach. Free money! As a proud library card-carrying citizen, I am more than appreciative.

However, for their efforts and generosity Mr. Flynn and the FOL received a verbal shakedown from Commissioner Pat Gass and her imaginary friends — the ones that don’t vote and don’t show up for commission meetings — who collectively would like to pin a “Kick Me” sign on the backs of Mr. Flynn and his munificent literary pals, a group Ms. Gass thinks is a bunch of pikers. Instead of a verbal reprimand by Commissioner Gass what the city should be doing is booting the statue of grifter David Yulee from its downtown train station bench perch and replacing it with a likeness of Mr. Flynn

Here’s what happened instead. The new library needs an additional $73,000 to complete the ceiling and overhead lighting and the FOL has agreed to pay for half, but that’s not good enough for the greedy voices that reside in the head of Commissioner Gass. Taking a page out of thuggish Public Utility Director John Mandrick’s “You have to pay to play” book, Ms. Gass verbally strong-armed Mr. Flynn at the February 3 session saying: “… you said you would pay for this. How much money have you got? You said you would have more than enough to do it. Not half of it—all of it.” Based on her comments I’m convinced that Ms. Gass would team up with Mr. Mandrick to kneecap the Welcome Wagon lady if they weren’t satisfied with her offerings.

And to add a humorous element to the proceedings City Manager Joe Gerrity, who acted as project manager during the new library construction, and who was feeling extraneous, confused or bored at this point, chimed in spouting incomprehensible doubletalk about respecting the city staff while performing a clever imitation of the Mad Tea-Party’s dormouse, even admitting his comments were irrelevant.

Maybe Commissioner Gass can convince City Attorney Tammi Back, who the odds favor to eventually win at least one legal action, to sue the FOL to try and wring another $36,500 out of these benevolent folks.

Many in the audience praised the FOL including local activist Tony Crawford who said: “These people go out and raise about $400,000. I am not sure, but I would guess that is the largest amount ever raised to fund such a project by private citizens. These guys beat on doors, held events, begged, borrowed…”

If she even has a library card Ms. Gass needs to go down to the new facility with her imaginary friends and check out a couple of books: “The Lost Art of Gratitude” and “Good Manners for Every Occasion.”

Mayor Ed Boner and Commissioners Robin Lentz and Tim Poynter were the calm voices of reason during this session, which had to be as embarrassing for them as it was for all of the others who witnessed it. Ms. Lentz advocated that the city pay half and all but Ms. Gass agreed.

A news article by Suanne Z. Thamm detailing the session can be found in the online Fernandina Observer News’ February 5 edition.


Happy Days? Based on my drives down Fletcher the past few months the local economy appears to be doing very well as home construction and remodeling taking place along this pricey stretch of Atlantic-facing real estate appears to be booming. I’m not sure how much of a barometer all this activity is, but these are not inexpensive projects and “for sale” signs along that pricey route are falling like bowling pins. In addition the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors reports that 41 Nassau County homes sold in January this year for a medium price of $210,000 compared to 33 last January with a medium price of $132,317. I’ve also been told by restaurateurs and inn keepers that this is one of the best off-season seasons they’ve experienced in a long time. On the other hand Mary Maguire, editor of the online Nassau County Independent ( reports that Nassau County Human Resources Coordinator Tina Keiter said that some 100 people applied for work as a county library assistant. She called it an entry-level job with a starting salary of $11.44 per hour. According to the Independent Keiter said that entry-level job postings typically attract 75 to 100 applicants and that it is common for the county to receive resumes listing college degrees.”We get degrees for custodial workers,” said Keiter. “It’s difficult out there.” It’s also a signal that folks out there want to live here and are willing to take entry-level or low-paying jobs to do so.


Taxpayers Getting Hosed: A December 2014 Cato Institute Report on federal and private sector worker pay finds, “In 2013 federal civilian workers had an average wage of $81,076, according to data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. By comparison, the average wage of the nation’s 107 million private-sector workers was $55,424.” When benefits like health care and pensions are included, “federal worker compensation averaged $115,524, or 74 percent more than the private-sector average of $66,357.” When the fed workers overtake the private sector, who will pay their salaries? Do you still wonder why President Obama wants to raise your taxes?


A GOP Rx For The Presidency? Ben Carson, 63, defends the role of doctors in politics and I think he makes a strong case. Carson, a black Republican who is considered a long-shot for the GOP nomination in 2016, was a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics, and the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. At 33, he became the youngest major division director in Johns Hopkins history, as director of pediatric neurosurgery. He was a co-director of the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center and performed ground-breaking surgery that successfully separated German twins joined at their heads, a medical first. Carson reminds us that five doctors signed the Declaration of Independence and that doctors are the “most highly educated group in the nation, trained to make decisions on fact rather than emotion” and “they are excellent with numbers, very concerned with the welfare of others and accustomed to hard work.” I’d be thrilled to just meet this guy.


Fore! Remember when, without notice, a pair of US Army captains, Ed Mallue and Natalie Heimel, were kicked off the picturesque 16th hole of a Hawaiian golf course where they had scheduled their wedding, because then President George W. Bush wanted to play that course? Oh never mind. If it had been President Bush you would have remembered, because the story would have been in all the papers and on TV. Actually it was President Obama and the incident was ignored by the national media. Oh well! And speaking of President Obama why is it that he refuses to call out Islamic terrorists but doesn’t have a problem saying that Christians committed terrible atrocities in the name of Christ?


Shining A Light: California’s massive Ivanpah solar plant – the one that scorches birds by the thousands – isn’t producing anywhere near what proponents predicted. In fact, it produced about half of its expected annual output for 2014, according to calculations by the California Energy Commission.


 There’s No Bill Of Housing, Jobs or Medical Rights: “The Bill of Rights, which became part of the Constitution, emphasized free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion and assembly. They were freedoms from government interference. The right to speak freely imposes no obligation on anyone else to provide the means of communication. Moreover, others can listen or leave as they see fit. But a right to a job, a house, or medical care imposes an obligation on others to pay for those things.”– Burton Folsom


Expert Says GPS Makes Driving Safer: In just a few short years, the rise in mobile navigation technology has transformed transportation, says Henry Grabar who writes for In 2011, 35 percent of Americans had smart phones; by 2013, that had grown to 61 percent. Three-quarters of those people now use their phones for directions and location-based services. Tens of millions more rely on car-based modules hitched to the satellites of the Global Positioning System. “The overall effect is that people are more calm when they’re using navigation,” says TomTom traffic expert Nick Cohn. And, by extension, they drive safer. Source: Georgia Public Policy Foundation.


Government Hot Air Blows Our Tax Dollars Away: The 2.3-cent tax credit for each kilowatt-hour of wind-power electricity produced is sometimes worth more than the energy it subsidizes, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “Sometimes in some markets, for example in Texas and Illinois, the subsidy is so large that wind producers have paid utilities to take their electricity and still make a profit.”


The “Most Transparent Government In History?” In spite of President of Obama’s promise, Edwin J. Feulner writes, “Some 47 of the federal government’s 73 watchdogs filed a formal complaint about the ‘serious limitations the Obama administration places on their ability to uncover waste, fraud and abuse.” Inspectors General from the National Security Agency, and the departments of Homeland Security and Justice are among those claiming the administration is imposing “serious limitations on access to records,” hindering their work. Source: Patriot Post via Georgia Public Policy Foundation.


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Several folks have told me that the Courtyard Pub & Eats has changed hands and that the new owners are a couple from Georgia and longtime  piano man John Springer fans which may mean that John will be back to three days a week instead of just Thursday evenings. Anyway, if true then I can assume that I’ll be granted entry once again after being unceremoniously tossed out on my ear a week or so ago because the current owner didn’t care for an item I wrote in this space criticizing the place for a variety of shortcomings. No matter what happens, stop by next Thursday, the 19th for a fun evening with John. I have no idea what goes on there other days of the week. The February 27 Wine’s by Steve function is sold out but Steve tells me there are still a half dozen or so seats left for their first sit-down wine dinner in their 4924 First Coast Highway location to be catered by neighbor Bar Zin and Sardinian Winery, Wednesday, March 4 so call ‘em at 904/557-1506. And don’t forget tonight from 5-7 is their weekly wine tasting. Dan Voll is becoming a mainstay at GG’s Bistro from 6-9 pm on Thursday evenings where his performances have been huge hits playing to packed houses of toe tapping diners says proprietor Bill Mertens. You can also catch Dan on Friday evenings beginning at 6:30 at the Green Turtle and Sundays starting at 4:30 at the Salty Pelican.



Louis Goldman - 13. Feb, 2015 -

This should go under the heading of “Friends of David Yulee” . We love your blog but have grown weary of your constant comments about the statue of “grifter” David Yulee. The statue is there and it ain’t going anywhere. So why don’t you just get over it and remember that if it wasn’t for him we might not be living where we are today.

Tom Yankus - 13. Feb, 2015 -

When Dr. Carson “surfaced” on the political scene several years back the IRS came calling. Several interviews on TV discussed this and how he blamed the current administration for the hassle. The IRS didn’t find any significant errors. It would be nice if “resident” author Grisham gave the library a donation to cover the added costs. Oh wait…he’s rarely here!

Sheila Cocchi - 13. Feb, 2015 -

Hi Dave! Happy Friday! Just a bit of a correction I know of the story of the young couple whose wedding was interrupted by the President’s golf game. I know it because I saw it on the Today Show and on GMA. Just as a further point, the young couple, both Military personnel, were advised by the facility that their wedding could be impacted by the President’s visit and they were not deterred. When they received a phone call from the President after he was made aware of the situation, he apologized for the inconvenience.

Usually you provide great detail in your writings but in this case, you may have missed a little or perhaps you should broaden your news outlets.

Hope you see you soon!