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

Hostile Sounds From City Hall Drown Out Popular Local Sounds On Centre Concerts

Typical day at Fernandina Beach City Hall

The pleasant melodious sounds coming from downtown’s popular Sounds on Centre concerts have been drowned out by the chaotic confusing sounds on Ash coming from City Hall.  

A thoroughly ill-conceived, poorly thought-out, and downright stupid decision last week by the City Commission and the City Manager dictated that the Historic Fernandina Beach Business Association (HFBA)  move its wildly popular and successful monthly April-October downtown “Sounds on Centre” concerts to another place, another time, and another day starting next year. Why? Because three unidentified local businesses out of the more than 100 in town said they don’t like it. Employing “nobody goes there any more, it’s too crowded” Yogi Berra logic, the three said it attracts too many people downtown and therefore is bad for their businesses. Their conjoined motto being: “If it weren’t for all these pesky customers we could get some work done around here.”  

The City Commission, which doesn’t contain a single business person, and a group of Luddites, populating something called the Special Events Committee, which also doesn’t contain a single business person, mindlessly dictated their decision to HFBA’s President Chuck Hall, and that was that. A 12-year event enjoyed by thousands, that causes cash registers to ring, and generates entertainment and pleasure, has been told to knock it off  by a group of folks who have never operated a business but suddenly decided to open a downtown golden goose slaughter house.

Operating from their entrepreneurial abattoir, they told the HFBA it could conduct its 2019 events as planned but only after it signs an extortion document promising to move them to another place, time and day in the future. They treated Mr. Hall like he was Music Man huckster Professor Harold Hill peddling boys band instruments and uniforms to naive townspeople. Their message was loud and clear: “Get out of town!”

Luke warm praise for the concerts came from an unexpected source. Ron “Get Off My Lawn You Little Bastards” Sapp ,writing in a January 30 News-Leader column said he thought the concerts were “wonderful” but quickly reverted to his “Get off my lawn you little bastards” mantra proclaiming he didn’t want them anywhere near his downtown house or anywhere in the city’s business district for that matter. Build a stage on the waterfront and stick ’em there suggested the curmudgeonly high school indoctrinator.

Sapp, never tires of discouraging tourists and future residents from coming here, and enthusiastically tossing cold water on locals who may be enjoying themselves. His harebrained pronouncements have come to be called “Sappites” by many.

Based on the Sounds on Centre decision his “aux barricades” attitude appears to have infected the entire Fernandina Beach City Commission and the City Manager, who keep buckets of ice water handy just in case an out-of-control resident suggests an idea that might generate enjoyment or revenue.

In the 1970’s, when he was on the City Commission, this wide-eyed alarmist wanted to slap a “No Vacancy” sign on the west side of Shave Bridge limiting the number of people who could live here. He still thinks that’s a plausible concept saying in his mid-January editorial: “……any issue pales in significance to the erosion of our quality of life in the face of overwhelming numbers of people. For me, we’ve passed that optimum population number long ago and quality of life has diminished.”

A mid-January piece of his “and the horse you rode in on” codswallop headlined “How many is too many?” is an example. In it the supercilious stuffed shirt, asked: “How many people, then, can be poured into these 23 square miles before living here isn’t that much fun anymore?” I personally think lots more as long as they don’t have to live anywhere near this inhospitable crank.

Forget asking why the local paper would continue to print his rubbish or why the city crowned him “mayor emeritus.” The key question is why  anybody in their right mind would take his blather seriously. The fact that many in City Hall listen to the city’s personal Grinch is frightening. His warped thinking has permeated decision making hereabouts as evidenced by their Sounds on Centre verdict.

I was reminded of the of the city’s backwardness by Tampa’s recent annual Gasparilla celebration that features hundreds of “pirates”, several parades and attracted almost 500,000 people this year. While our little city refuses to allow Shrimp Festival parade participants, particularly the Pirates, from tossing beads and candy to the crowd, things are vastly different in Tampa where that city’s pirate crews have been tossing anything that isn’t nailed down to the wildly excited crowd for almost 70 years. Take a look at  where the pirates even toss beads to the delighted talking heads televising the parade.

Our local city officials and the commission are the same people that for the past 10 years or more have been talking about paid parking, a downtown waterfront park, and more but so far only produced a white elephant $4.7 million “It looks like an airplane airport terminal.” The City of Fernandina Beach is the most inefficient, confused and inept gathering of misfits since a staff meeting of Governor J. Le Petomane in Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles.” If you’re considering opening a business here beware, those running this city are nuttier than squirrel poop.


Media Lap Dogs: There is no greater evidence that American journalists have gone from watch-dogs to lap-dogs than their phony baloney coverage of the Covington High School students in D.C. and the claptrap coverage claiming President Trump directed his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress, a story so blatantly false that even the stone-faced Robert “Look I Have Crab Apples Stuffed In My Cheeks” Mueller popped up out of his rabbit hole to declare it wasn’t true.

Journalists that once exposed violent, venom-spewing organizations have decided to join the haters and pile on. The only hate-spewing gang that gathered in D.C. last month during the pro-life march were the media that left for dead the reputations of a group of teenage boys. The wolf pack reporters of the “Now we’ve got you, you white, Catholic, MAGA hat-wearing, clean-cut, anti-abortion, teenage patriots” signals to all Americans that the referees have now unashamedly and blatantly chosen sides, thus declaring that objective journalism in America is deader than the proverbial deceased doornail.

On the local level a News-Leader reporter with the fortunate name of Julia Roberts publically displayed her paranoia, stating in an editorial last year that President Trump is intent on putting newspapers like hers out of business. I doubt the Trump administration gives a rip about the locally impotent News-Leader. On the other hand, however,  there are some media outlets that Ms. Roberts and her liberal colony would like to see disappear including:  FOX News, Drudge Report, Newsmax, the Washington Examiner, talk radio, the Wall Street Journal editorial pages, Human Events, and National Review. Those, liberals argue, are of a right wing ideological frame of mind with a blatant disregard for what the left considers the “truth”, and they need to be silenced. The left showed the depths of their desperation when they did their best to thin the already thin conservative media ranks, pushing for passage of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” that would have shut down talk radio.

As a former daily newspaper reporter in Florida and New York I personally know many editors and reporters that openly admit they are leftists, and the reporting and opinions in their outlets clearly reflect their biases. 

This wasn’t always the case. Those many years ago when I worked in the newsroom, reporters caught slipping an opinion into a news article faced open humiliation and the threat of a loss of their jobs by a crusty, sleeves rolled-up editor, who once bellowed across the news room at me: “Scott, if you want to write editorials, we have a department for that, but you weren’t hired to write editorials. You were hired to write facts.” He wasn’t that polite either, lacing his public shaming with profanity as my colleagues ducked their heads to avoid eye contact and snickered in nervous amusement.

The print media’s shift to the far left isn’t doing the newspaper industry any good. Just the opposite. According to Pew Research At least 36% of the largest newspapers across the United States experienced layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018. Plummeting advertising revenues that have shifted to digital media contributed heavily as well.

As Thomas Jefferson once said, “The most truthful part of a newspaper is the advertisements.”  


“You rang Ms. Pelosi?”

Overkill In Overdrive: When Adams Family’s Lurch look-a-like Robert Mueller sent the FBI to arrest Donald Trump associate Roger Stone last week,  the feds deployed 27 armed agents in bullet proof vests, 17 vehicles, and a helicopter to swarm the Ft. Lauderdale, FL home of  the 66-year-old unarmed Stone and his wife, who is deaf. This is more personnel than the military used to storm Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. On top of this none of the indictments against Stone have anything to do with Russian collusion. Mueller is desperate to find anything that would justify  his frenzied almost two-year old investigation that so far hasn’t produced a shred of evidence of Russian collusion but has wasted millions of dollars of tax payer money. As they used to say in the Soviet Union “beware of the 2 a.m. knock on the door.”


Show Us The Trophy? U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared victory last week as the government reopened but she didn’t pick up a trophy, not even one for participation. During the government shutdown this aging, hysterical, stammering, testimony to plastic surgery gone terribly wrong, saw a number of Democrats saying publically that they weren’t opposed to the construction of strategically-placed new barriers along the southern border, from newly-elected moderates, to many senators as well as members of her House leadership team including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). It’s shocking when an American politician considers it a victory to prevent our borders from being secured.  


“Murder” They Wrote: When far-left Democrat New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that legalizes abortion up until the point of birth, the Democrat members of the NY legislature gave him a standing ovation. What kind of people cheer murder?  

The same Democrat ghouls are at work  in Virginia as Gov. Ralph Northam (D) made some staggering remarks endorsing allowing an infant born alive to die.  This past Wednesday when asked on TV about Virginia House of Delegates member Kathy Tran’s (D-Fairfax) bill that would allow an abortion even after the woman goes into labor, Northam argued that decisions by physicians can be made to allow an infant to die even after birth. “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” he said. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” What makes this even more shocking is that Northam once worked as a pediatric neurologist.

It hard to find words to describe people who would condone infanticide but friend and local resident, Ben Palmer, husband of Melanie, and father of their four children, penned one of the most personal and eloquent pieces on the subject I’ve seen anywhere and one that needs no further comment. Here’s what Ben had to say:

“My daughter, Audrey Virginia Palmer, was born six weeks early on November 13th, 2017. Audrey developed a heart condition called SVT with atrial flutter very early in the pregnancy, at about 13 weeks. The physicians at Wolfson Children’s Hospital told us that they had never seen the condition in a baby that young. The SVT developed due to an abnormality in Audrey’s tiny, developing heart. Without hesitation, my angel of a wife underwent a strong heart medication regimen that was dangerous to her own health but saved Audrey’s life.

Later in the pregnancy, Mel went into premature labor at 30 weeks, around October 18th. Again, with Mel’s determination and the wisdom of the Physicians at Wolfson, labor was stopped and Audrey was saved. Mel went on bed rest in the hospital until November 13 and gave birth to a premature, but healthy baby. Audrey was originally due on December 25th.

While I understand not all circumstances are similar, not all pregnancies develop through consent, not all women have access to proper care, and not all infants can be saved; the legalization of late term abortion in NY is despicable. It has been said that the frequency will be very low, but the fact that it is legal to kill an infant up to the due date is disgusting and is indicative of a society that has not only lost its way, but has grown cold, apathetic and dangerous to the innocent.

This law is far worse than inhumane.”


Free Stuff Department: Bartender turned U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her Democrat Socialist party colleagues want to shower us all with free medical care, free college, a guaranteed income, and a pony by taxing incomes at 70 percent. They might want to take a tour of some of those countries that have been ravaged by capitalism such as Japan, Switzerland, and Germany. For comparison they then might want to visit those countries that implemented their brand of socialism like Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea. The latter three aren’t examples of failed socialism, they’re examples of socialism at work. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez might be due a refund for her economics degree from Boston University, which apparently slipped it to her with a wink and a nod.


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Fiddle playing songstress Amy Basse says she’ll be performing Irish music along with other musicians Friday, February 8 beginning at 6 The Patio Place, the corner of South 5th and Ash downtown. Pianoman John Springer and drummer Rob Taylor are taking requests there on Wednesdays from 6:30-8 p.m. I plan to spend next Thursday, February 7, at the Sandbar & Restaurant on Main Beach for a lively performance of bluegrass, blues, and outlaw country music performed by the Harris Brothers of Nashville. Be prepared to tap your feet and do some boot scooting as this group employs scrub boards and spoons along with traditional instruments. The show runs 5-9 p.m. Tonight Sandbar features the Honey Badgers starting at 7 p.m.  and Saturday, Feb 2, Davis Turner also starting at 7 p.m.   

  • Comment (20)
  • David I find it hard to believe in amazing that we take something is popular as sounds on centre and mess with it. I wonder if these people had a winning lottery ticket would they just give it away to somebody else? Sounds on centre worked it brought people downtown and it was a unique attraction to our city.

  • The “Sounds on Centre” debacle and outcome is an affront to democracy. The suppression of the wishes of the identified and openly supportive majority by the demands of an identified minority.
    There is one outstanding and positive outcome from this however:
    Tony and Dave appear to be in full agreement! ???

  • “Delta is Ready When You Are” to ‘The Connecticut Yankee (City Manager/Martin) in King Arthur’s Court (City Commish)! Inept to say the least. One way flights at Jax International fly out hourly.
    (Minor correction Dave. Friday February 8th at The Sandbar for The Harris Bros.)

  • Thankfully, I didn’t pitch the pitch fork and flaming torch purchased at our hardware story as the result your column last week. Finally a place to use a quote by Nietzsche [I may vote for him in the next commission election if I can find his Twitter #handle]: “The mother of excess is not joy but joylessness.”

  • I don’t always totally agree with you. However, this blog is a direct reflection of my thoughts. Thanks for your updates on the local thinking that might affect us all. Hopefully, some of those against your comments ,might fall into the abyss or have a brain implant.

  • Wonderful column! Sounds on Center MUST be preserved. Ron Sapp needs to go read a book or something! Finally, I have to wonder what it cost to surround Roger Stone’s home with all of that fire power? The whole scenario is really quite frightening!

  • Dave:

    As always, I struggle with “What does Dave really think?” Not! Right on the money and beautifully written. Love the graphics too.

  • How is it Sounds on Centre is to be relocated for this year but it is ONLY Sounds on Centre that is being relocated. Are the same 3 businesses that took issue with the SOC concerts one night per week 7 x per year not being run out of business by Shrimp Fest and Dickens on Centre too? Where is the data that demonstrates the 3 are suffering from this program and I do mean data as in historic Friday night revenues with and with out SOC taking place? Oh, right… We, the people do not get to see any of that. Meetings are not open to the public. No minutes of meetings to be provided to the press. What happened to the sunshine here?

  • thanks Dave for the coverage of our Sounds on Centre concert series. The City and the HFBA have agreed to the Traditional Venue for 2019, thankfully. We have agreed to work with the Events Committee concerning any complaints for future years. The future locations and times of the concerts is still in question for next year.
    We thank the City and Commissioners for helping us with this awkward permit issue.
    The HFBA asks that those interested in supporting our main focus of promoting our businesses downtown via concerts, marketing and festivities, please join us to show those that would quiet us, that this is bigger than they know. The public support has been amazing, and we are grateful.
    Please ask your readers to contact us at or call me at 904-607-3121 to inquire about joining the HFBA. It’s 27 cents per day to participate in this business association. The recent delays for our permit has caused us to loose valuable time in our annual membership drive, and we need help to meet our goals of continuing the work and concerts downtown.
    The Historic Fernandina Business Association would love to hear from your readers.

  • Dave, besides those on the ground and in the air on the daring dawn raid on the Stone crime syndicate headquarters, don’t forget the two watercraft off shore just in case that Stone, who does not swim, tried to do a skedaddle to an off shore Russian submarine. Any word if the Red October was sighted nearby??

    On the SOC fiasco, they say DC is bordered on three sides by water and one side by logic. By extension, I guess the City of FB has less logic than DC when making decisions. That is quite disturbing. Just the fact no one will disclose whom made the complaints shows the place issues decisions made in a virtual Star Chamber like manner.

  • Dave, as someone who has participated in several parades I also am disappointed we can no longer throw candy, beads, etc at the crowds. At the same time, as one who has had children run out in front of moving vehicles to get said treasures, it is a necessary precaution. At some sections people close in so close you can actually reach out and touch them from the vehicles. All groups are welcome to walk and pass out goodies with proof of insurance. Unluckily, I must agree with caution and no throwing…..

  • 2 comments: You mention Tampa fondly a lot. Perhaps you would be happier there.
    Used to say in the Soviet Un ion “beware of the 2am knock on the door”. Used to say????

  • Unfortunately passions and opinions are running high in regards to Sounds on Centre and paid parking at the beach and downtown. These issues are a hot topic of social media and while a it’s great the public outcry is keeping things in check temporarily the elephant in the room is the diminishing amount of parking spaces downtown and at the beaches. This is only going to get worse. A good percentage of those spaces at the beaches are are getting used by business’s, patrons and their employees. Downtown growth with new businesses and the condo’s are also squeezing the parking situation tighter. The addition of the soon to be new hotels on Atlantic and Saddler will also bring more vehicles downtown . This is in addition to the growing number of residents off island that want to spend time on island visiting resturants and beaches. Most small towns are fighting battles to bring vibrancy to their downtowns……..we on the other hand are getting overwhelmed. While a decision on Sounds on Centre and charging for parking at the beaches has been put off for a year. The emphasis right now should be spent trying to find a way to increase parking availability at the beaches and downtown. Moving Sounds on Centre and paying for parking will not change the fact that we don’t have parking availability for the continued growth that is inevitable. My three cents Dave!

  • Businesses have rights too, people!!!! Maybe SOC needs to WORK WITH downtown businesses, especially those impacted……..instead of all this childish wining. But that would be too ADULT, I guess.


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