A well-informed resident observer of the fiscal nonsense taking place at Fernandina Beach’s city hall sent me some well-penned comments this past week stating some obvious facts and asking probing questions.
Paraphrasing U.S. Army Chief Counsel Joseph Welch during the late Senator Joseph McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s my local well-placed source rightly asks of the Fernandina Beach City Commission: “Have you no decency?”
“Why is the city buying ‘conservation’ land and pursuing eminent domain to the tune of $2,000,000 when city businesses and residents are struggling because of the pandemic,” asks the tax-paying observer?
The astute eyewitness has in his sights the oblivious trio of yes-nodding, bobblehead Commissioners Chip Ross, Phil Chapman, and Johnny Miller, who have no understanding of the real world by consistently voting “Yuk, Yuk, Yuk!” to any reckless spending scheme City Manager Dale Martin concocts.
“That money should be used to help keep local businesses afloat, and what is left should be held in reserve for bad days to come,” advises the local wiseman.
He also suggests turning Commissioner Chip Ross’s tired argument around and doing “ONLY services.”
“Stop spending money that is not a service, like buying land, replacing new vehicles with newer, hiring for no reason, hiring a deputy CM for a town of 12,000 people. If Martin can’t do the job get rid of him and hire a replacement.”
“If an expense is not directly a service expense,” he says, “kill it.”
“No more pandering to the tree people”, he demands. “Let them live in the trees they have.”
He suggests that all the commissioners pledge to support only spending on public safety and welfare in light of the economic chaos spread by the pandemic.
He wants no new parks and recreation projects because they only become free services for 75,000 county residents who pay nothing for their creation and maintenance.
In a nutshell he insists they stop creating a “bubble” chock full of goodies and do the basics well.
“Once upon a time Fernandina Beach was the economic and population center of Nassau County,” he recalls. “That is no longer true. It’s time to downsize, the kids have left the nest.”
Now Hiring: While the virus pandemic has local Fernandina Beach businesses struggling to stay afloat and their employees being laid off City Manager Dale Martin and his three yes-nodding, bobbleheads (Chip Ross, Phil Chapman and Johnny Miller) see no problem adding more bureaucrats to the city payroll and stiffing suffering tax payers for their salaries and benefits. How many city employees have lost paychecks due to the pandemic? I can picture City Manager Martin meeting with the city’s Human Resources department much like Blazing Saddles’ Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) instructing gang leader Taggart (Slim Pickens) to hire a group to terrorize the town of Rock Ridge. “Take this down. I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists. Put ‘em all on the payroll, the three bobbleheads will vote for it. Make my assistant city manager job the number one priority.”
Follow The Money: In another unfathomable bit of Fernandina Beach city shenanigans City Manager Dale Martin continues to tell us that FMA signed a document saying it would reimburse the city up 75% of the hurricane damaged marina repairs. However, Martin doesn’t have a copy of this mysterious document nor does anyone at FEMA or anywhere else. Martin appears to be the only person who has ever seen it. He says it was prepared by a fellow named Charles Loihle, who has mysteriously disappeared. Martin told the News Leader’s Julia Roberts that Mr. Loihle was contracted by FEMA to work with the city after the hurricane struck. Martin says a copy of the document was never given to the city. However, if someone showed me a document saying I am entitled to millions of dollars, I would ask for a copy. I think most people would. Whenever I’ve applied for a mortgage or any other pricey loan, I have asked for and received “good faith” documents with the appropriate signatures. Did Mr. Martin ask Mr. Loihle for a copy? If not, why not? In her article Ms. Roberts reported that she couldn’t find a trace of Mr. Loihle at FEMA or anywhere else she looked.
What is equally mystifying is why the city didn’t perform an economic analysis to determine the debt load the newly built marina could sustain. According to a man who knows about such things that would be the normal course of action so as to establish a “construction budget” to guide design and build costs. Since the city buys studies on everything else why was this study not done?
Apparently Martin and his pals assumed that the federal and state governments would cover most of the cost, leaving little for the city to finance, so build the Taj Mahal on other peoples’ money.
Something smells very fishy at this marina and it’s not coming out of Atlantic Seafood.
Honest Dale’s Used Car Lot: The City of Fernandina Beach is selling a 2008 24-passenger bus on E-Bay with just 50,000 miles on it for only $2,600. The bus is described as having an “Odyssey XL body on a Chevrolet 4500 chassis. Approx. 50k miles.” The ad says both air conditioning systems work, as does the vehicle’s cruise control. It says the tires are in good shape, but the bus “could use a good cleaning.” While the City is only 12.8 square miles in size it boasts 250 vehicles, trailers, etc. In its new budget the city says it needs newer vehicles because its old ones can’t be economically maintained or maybe because nobody will wash them. Maybe they should go to E-Bay and kick some tires.
Just In Time: About 8:15 pm last evening (Thursday, August 6) I received an email from City Commission candidate Wendall K. McGahee (25) who has filed to run against Chip Ross for the Group 3 Fernandina Beach seat.
I had prepared a piece describing how difficult it was to get in touch with him and was about to pull the trigger on this blog when his missive arrived. He says I was sending requests to an email address he rarely uses.
Prior to receiving his note most of the information I had been able to gather about Mr. McGahee came from his Facebook pages and a June 5 local News Leader article when he was interviewed by Julia Roberts during the Black Lives Matter protest march here.
Mr. McGahee was very gracious in his note to me and verified most of the information I gleaned from his Facebook site including that he is a 2013 graduate of Fernandina Beach High School and is a 2016 graduate of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) where he was a dual major in Philosophy and Religious Studies with a Political Science minor. The background information he sent says he resides in Fernandina Beach, works locally at Florida State College of Jacksonville, and is studying in pursuit of degrees in Mortuary Science and Higher Education. He is also one of the first members appointed to the Fernandina Beach Police Department’s advisory board. On July 29 his candidacy received the endorsement of the Executive Board of the Florida College Democrats.
He appears to be a deeply religious young man saying in his campaign material: “The love he has for God and people has led him to be a dedicated worker in areas such as Christian Ministry, Civic Advancement, Education, Funeral Services, and Legislative Affairs.”
The News Leader article reported that McGahee’s ancestors were slaves in St. Marys, GA and are buried in the Fernandina Beach’s Bosque Bello Cemetery. He told Ms. Roberts that his family – the Delaneys –once had a farm in Old Town and that some were shrimp net makers. His grandmother’s cousin, Charles Albert, was the first black mayor of Fernandina Beach he relates.
If the News Leader interview is an indication, race-related issues will play a prominent role if he is elected.
“We still have two Fernandina’s,” he told the News Leader’s Ms. Roberts. “There is the Atlantic Rec Center, which is where white people go, and the MLK Center, where black people go. There is a white funeral home and a black funeral home. This is real, and people don’t realize it.”
McGahee says in the article that it is easy to believe in a small community like Fernandina Beach that there aren’t racial issues since not everyone is exposed to racial discrimination. Younger people need to understand that just because people aren’t marching around in hoods anymore doesn’t mean hate groups don’t exist,” he says.
In the interview he said Fernandina Beach has financial as well as racial inequities and claims the issues are prominent. “There are well-off white people and lower income white people, as well as black people, but at the end of the day, the well-off white person will always come before the black person.”
He added that gentrification and its effect on affordable housing is one example of the inequity. “There is nowhere for us (to live). We can’t afford it,” he explains. “You are weeding us out, and it’s only getting worse.”
In the material he sent me Mr. McGahee said he will be a representative of all the people and practice fiscal conservancy. “If elected to the city commission, my work will be dedicated to being a voice for Fernandina at large- standing for those who don’t vote in my favor the same as I will for those who do,” he says. “I will strive to preserve our wealth of history, closely monitor growth, stand against development, the raise of taxes, and paid beach parking.”
“I would like to come up with strategic plans for keeping important entities like the waterfront and Marina without squandering the money of our already overburdened tax payers,” he states.
“Fernandina has been home for my family since the emancipation of slavery, over 155 years ago and its preservation is absolutely significant to me and our heritage. My charge will be to make sure a more than decent level of quality of life is sustained here for all residents so that family legacies can remain and flourish for generations to come. Another great priority of mine will be to create a closer connection between the commission and the citizens. Establishing and nurturing that relationship will allow me to be more proactive in my efforts rather than simply reactive. Altogether, I will bring young blood, fresh ideas and a wealth of hands-on experience to the city’s leadership. I want the citizens of Fernandina Beach to know that I will pursue every possibility of making our home a better place.”
It’ll be an interesting race between the self-righteous and arrogant Chip Ross and an outspoken and opinionated Wendall McGahee.
Today’s Chuckle: “I’m still waiting for a hurricane to be named after me.” — Wladyslaw Pleszczynski, Executive Editor, The American Spectator.
The Woke Zombie Apocalypse: Writing in the August 3 Wall Street Journal Lance Morrow, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center says today’s “wokeness and cancel culture represent not idealism but virtue gone clinically insane.”
“Look up the word hysteria” writes Mr. Morrow. “It’s a psychological disorder whose symptoms include … shallow, volatile emotions, and over dramatic or attention-seeking behavior.”
“Those hardest hit by the woke crowd”, adds Mr. Morrow, “have been residents and shopkeepers in black and other minority neighborhoods that are left in the wreckage after those who did the damage – among them many white anarchists and Antifa people – have gone back to their parents’ basements.”
The Biden Crash: Economist, author, investor, pundit, professor, and former CEO Joel Ross says this election is crucial to the stock market, and the country. “If Biden wins and Senate goes Dem I am out of the market,” he says. “If Trump is reelected the market goes to 34,000, and then higher next year.”
Bull Durham: Joel Ross says he has zero information about what Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham is going to report, but “I am having a gut feeling that it is a bombshell that will change the election and make the press and Mueller look like corrupt idiots. I believe he will have found there really was a coup in progress, and it went all the way to Obama and Biden. I think Obama was the overall approver, but Brennan was the puppet master. Comey was a key player, but not in charge. Mueller was just an avatar who had no real idea what was happening. Clapper, Jarrett, Rice, etc. were all involved. Who gets indicted is a separate issue, but supposedly there are already plea deals, and people spilling the story. I bet Lisa Page has spilled a lot. Maybe McCabe or Steele have cooperated. Maybe Comey will cut a deal if they really have him. I expect this has taken long because they had a lot of onion to peel back, and more and more conspirators began to talk. Somewhere there was a big break when Durham brought in two other US Attorneys to help. That suggested the case blew wide open. Someone talked. Pelosi and Co will have sustained attacks on Barr to try to make him look like a political attack dog for Trump to try to claim this is all a plan by Trump and Barr to impact the election. It is why Nadler wants to impeach Barr. Durham will go down in the history books for having uncovered the worst political threat to the nation in history. Barr is the perfect AG for this. You think Covid and murders in cities are bad, wait for this. 2020 is maybe the worst year for America since the civil war.”
Water Bedding: Two very nice local people — Paul Lore and wife Ruth Eisenbise Maestre — announced that they have purchased the Thompson House on South 7th Street in downtown Fernandina Beach and want to “restore it back to a beautiful home and open a small intimate Eco Boutique B & B.”
They said the property — which also includes the tiny shuttered Lulu’s restaurant building next door –will have a watermen vibe. I’m not exactly sure what that means but am fairly certain it doesn’t have anything to do with the house’s plumbing.
Paul said he wants to name the Inn “‘The Funky-Dina’ while Ruth wants to name it ‘The Oyster Bed Inn.’ Any other name suggestions,” he asks? Yeh, I have one! How about “The Funky Oyster?”