Answer: The Charge of the Light Brigade.
Question: What is $500 a day?
That’s correct. If Fernandina Beach residents turn on a light or even posses a shiny object that can be seen from the beach during sea turtle sex season they will be charged $500 per day in fines if a law proposed by the City Planning Department and Commissioner Len Kreger is approved.
We all know that we aren’t supposed to mock, frown at, or speak harshly to sea turtles, but now we’re being told that it’s lights out at sunset because sea turtles might see them and be tempted to wander into a forbidden “no sea turtles allowed” area.
I’m not making any of this up. And if we don’t obey, Commissioner Kreger, who makes environmental activist Commissioner Johnny “Moonbeam” Miller look like a fanatical climate change denier, is proposing that we be fined $500, not just once, but for every day that a light is on where it might be spotted by an alert sea turtle. He’s like every kid’s mom who nagged: “Turn out the lights” but reinforced her scold with a backhand to the chops.
That means that if you take off for a three week African safari with no access to a cell phone or any other form of communications and your wife casually mentions to you in the middle of the Serengeti that she may have forgotten to flick off the back porch light, you would be greeted upon arrival back home with a fine from the Light Brigade of $10,500, and your house invaded by turtles drinking your beer, smoking your cigars, and wearing your slippers.
Violate the lights-out ordinance and you’ll get a knock on the door from one of the town’s heel-clicking “Light Brigade” members vigilantly patrolling the beaches searching for offending beach front dwellers that were reading a book, having a romantic candle light dinner, stumbling to the bathroom, or performing another night time activity that might require some sort of illumination. And don’t even think about opening the fridge and grabbing a cold beer, unless you’re willing to pay Ritz Carlton prices for that brewski.
Knock Knock: “Ve are wiz ze city’s Light Brigade und ve noticed zat zere vas a light on in zis house. Zat is verbotten und you must be punished. Do you still haf family in ze east?”
However, the Light Brigade says residents can avoid the $500 per-day penalty by simply adding blackout drapes or installing special windows at a cost of thousands upon thousands of dollars. The city’s rationale is: “Hey, you can afford to live in a house on the beach so screw you.”
Commissioner “Lights Out” Kreger, comes across like a World War II British Air Raid Warden enforcing black out decrees during the German bombing of London. I Googled it and can’t find one recorded instance of a sea turtle being harmed during the Nazi bombing raids over that city so rack up a point for Herr Kreger.
However, it’s not like sea turtles are as cuddly as a cocker spaniel who’ll hop up on the side of the bed in the morning, lick your face, and fetch the newspaper. Nope, sea turtles are hideous looking creatures with hard shells covered with dirty, gritty sand, sharp claws, and a powerful jaw that can snap off your fingers or any other appendage you may consider useful. In other words they have the appeal of a rabid sewer rat. And by the time one of these slow moving terrapins gets back from the driveway with the morning paper the headlines would reveal that John Kennedy was inaugurated President and West Side Story won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Sea Turtles are being protected because when these sex crazed sea swingers get it on in the ocean their surf trysts result in impregnated females crawling out of their “love nests” to deposit some 50-100 golf ball size eggs in a sandy incubator hole they dig on Fernandina Beach’s turtle maternity ward. To further protect these horny terrapins, their nests are off limits because local do-gooders have marked them with yellow “Crime Scene! Do not cross!” tape. Turtle sex season runs from March through October so your light switches will require a seven-month timer.
Sea turtles fall into what scientists term the uselessrepulsivecooter biological species of animals along with other progress-preventing creatures including spotted owls, the EPA, Fernandina Beach City Commissioners, Public Utility Directors, and City Attorneys.
However, there are lots of people hereabouts who take time out from whatever it is they do, which I hope is not operating complex machinery, to chase newly hatched baby sea turtles around the beaches and shoo them into the ocean where they instantly become snacks for large birds and fish with sharp teeth. These people appear to be as concerned about the welfare of sea turtles as they are the results of the last presidential election and the damage to the environment caused by the discovery of fire.
By the way, in many cultures outside the U.S. sea turtles and their eggs are as extremely popular and respected as they are here but are called “dinner.”
Half a grand, half a grand,
Half a grand you’ll owe,
All on the beach of Fernandina
Fine them five hundred.
“Forward the Light Brigade!
Charge for the turtles!” he said.
Onto the beach of Fernandina
Fine them five hundred.
More Commission Confusion: As far as I know not one of the five Fernandina Beach City Commissioners is a pilot or an architect but that hasn’t slowed this quintet from pursuing its vision of building a new local airport terminal/welcome center to resemble an airplane. No, really — an airplane! Like World War II, its been in all the papers.
But so far our elected officials have come up with a big fat zero, as none of the ideas stemming from their collective flying-building concept so far have gotten off the ground.
In their latest effort City Manager Dale Martin tossed all of the most recently submitted building-that-looks-like-airplane bids — produced by the hopeful suppliers’ random number generator phone apps — in the dumpster since they were vastly over budget, in some cases by more than $4 million. Now that’s a big wad of cash for a tiny town like Fernandina Beach unless they dip into their Impact Fee slush fund guarded by Public Utilities Director of Extortion John Mandrick, who runs the town’s Sewer and Water Crime Syndicate under the guidance of the Commission. But that’s another story, as that money is earmarked for water-boarding local entrepreneurs who think $318 is too much to be shaken down for in impact extortion fees for each bar stool and chair in their proposed establishment.
So, here’s a solution for the Commission’s “let’s build-it-to-look-like-an-airplane” dilemma. They should all pile into Mr. Martin’s car and head to Home Depot in Yulee.* Skip the confusing architect and aviator technical stuff, and ask the advice of one of the fellows with a hammer and a chain saw in his belt that prowl the aisles at this do-it-yourself store. If you’re tackling a build-it-to-look-like-an-airplane project these are your go-to guys. They have books, plans, tools, computer apps, and big trucks that’ll get the job done.
The orange-apron-wearing, tool guys will explain in simple terms that even a klutz like me can understand when you’re determined to construct a build-it-to-look-like-an-airplane project. They’ll tell our dogged commissioners that they’ll need a truck load of pilinary compulators with spindle pusher regrinders with no more than three-quarters of an inch tolerance and some nails. They’ll even toss in a magazine titled “Build It To Look Like An Airplane in Three Hours or Less” and says on the cover: “As seen on TV.”
I know all about this stuff because I asked one of these guys for help on replacing a toilet float once and he told me that all I needed was a truck load of pilinary compulators with spindle pusher regrinders with no more than three-quarters of an inch tolerance and some nails. He also cautioned me not to disturb the little man in the boat who has been rowing around in there since 1968, and even tossed in a magazine called “Build Your Own Indoor Flush Toilet In 30 minutes or Less.”
If Home Depot can’t get the job done, then the commissioners should head to IKEA, or as most people call it: Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd, where they have a couple of aisles chock-a-block full of “Build It To Look Like An Airplane” kits. Once they get back to the airport construction site and unpack their kit, they’ll find more than 100 easy to understand pages of how to assemble the “Build It To Look Like An Airplane” instructions printed in Swedish on one side and Sanskrit on the other. If they run into problems there’s a phone number in Stockholm to call between the hours of 2-3 a.m. on Wednesdays on days with even numbers. It will help if the caller speaks fluent Swedish.
However, if they read the fine print it says: “CAUTION: This product should never be erected in an area were winds are stronger than a soft summer breeze or a baby’s sneeze as IKEA is not responsible for the death, destruction and total devastation caused to it or its inhabitants by anyone dim enough to place it in a location where such activity — much less a category 5 hurricane — might occur.”
An IKEA spokesperson told me its crack Swedish scientists are working with the intensity of the World War II Manhattan Project crew on the hurricane version of the kit, but so far have yet to advance beyond a Three Little Pigs straw structure prototype.
By the way local resident and aviator George Murphy seriously summed up the entire airport building controversy earlier this week in a comment here saying: “The design of the “General Aviation Terminal” (don’t tell me we are also planning a “Commercial Terminal”) cheapens the look of a beautiful country facility. What are we trying to do, make it look like Disney World or New Orleans? Over a period of 35 years I have based eight different aircraft at Fernandina, since Sonny Hawkins was the FBO, and have never felt the need for a “Welcome” center. First consideration should be given to our high fuel prices, cost/availability of hanger space and other flight related needs. Haven’t we learned from the Fernandina Golf Course? Instead of putting some found money back into the course we built a new club house. Ask any golfer how that turned out!”
For more insightful islander comments concerning the proposed airport building go to this blog’s “Airport & Golf Course Situation Muddled As Fernandina Continues Its Bizarre Maneuvers” February 14, 2017, and read the letters from LM and others.
*Due to Florida’s Sunshine Law if the commissioners talk to each other in the car we have a right to a transcript of those conversations which would probably read as follows: “Can we stop at the next Flash Foods I have to use the bathroom; Dale, tell Len to stop making faces at me; Somebody wake up Roy, he’s snoring again; No, Johnny, I don’t want a sip of your kale shake; I think we left Tim at Flash Foods; I’m the mayor so I get to ride shotgun; Is that a blunt in the ashtray? On the way back let’s stop at Shucker’s and get hammered.”
Deportation Concern: My friend George just posted this on Facebook: “I live in constant fear that President Trump will deport my Latina mother-in-law who lives at 1806 Twig St., Unit 3F, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034 in a blue duplex with black shutters. She gets off work at 6 p.m. and is usually there no later than 6:30.”
Speaking Of Illegals: Who says building a border wall won’t work? The Chinese built one more than 2,000 years ago and they still don’t have any illegal Mexicans.
Tell Us Something We Don’t Know: A Russian spy ship emerged on the U.S. eastern seaboard, Wednesday, March 8, monitoring activity just 20 miles south of the U.S. nuclear submarine base at King’s Bay, Georgia, according to CBS News. In February, the same ship, the Viktor Leonov, came within 30 miles of a major nuclear submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, the farthest north a Russian intelligence ship had ever traveled along the continental U.S. says CBS. It then traveled to Virginia to monitor naval activities in Norfolk. The ship is armed with surface-to-air missiles, along with Russia’s most up to date intelligence gathering technology. It appears that CBS is a bit slow in catching up with what’s happening as these sightings have been going on for years. Just last Friday, while enjoying one of Kevin McCarthy’s Amelia River Cruises, local boaters were telling me that sighting Russian ships off the coast of Georgia, near Kings Bay is a common every-day experience and has been for years.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Ads for a firm that ships restaurant food keep following me around the Internet boasting that they will send me various quantities of the original New Orleans-based Central Grocery muffulettas with prices starting at $109.00 for two, which works out to a whopping $54.50 per sandwich or a down payment on a used Chevy Volt. Folks, you can buy the exact same muffuletta, only much fresher and fatter, here on Amelia Island at The Surf for $19 or just $11 for a half. Half of this delicious Joey Ledet creation is enough to feed two people and it is the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Each sandwich is made on a round Sicilian sesame loaf that stays crusty despite the sloppy fillings and is stuffed with ham, salami, Provolone and a briny marinated olive salad filled with Kalamata and green olives and various pickled vegetables. Go there and try to eat a whole one (you can’t) or call ’em at 904/261-5711 and tell them to hold you one as they sell out fast and it isn’t even on the menu. I ran into Michelle Seder and Kevin Dooner the new proprietors of what will be called the Sandbar & Kitchen (formerly Sandy Bottoms) at Main Beach while picking up a muffuletta at The Surf and they tell me that they are hoping for a mid-May opening and, from what they say, if all goes as planned folks hereabouts and visitors will make this one of the must-visit eateries and bars on the island. More about some of their can’t-miss concepts later. And speaking of that area of the beach, if you have guests in town and want to impress them, then take them to The Pointe Restaurant at Elizabeth Pointe, which offers casual breakfast and lunch oceanfront dining to guests and to the public daily, with brunch served one Sunday each month. However, dinner is available only to Inn guests. Call ’em at 904/277-4851. I’ve had a number of people approach me recently and tell me how much they enjoy the food (particularly the steaks), drinks, service and overall atmosphere at the recently opened 801 Kitchen & Bar, at the corner of Beech Street and South 8th Street. I’ve been there only once so far and really enjoyed it and am planning a return trip soon. Call ’em at 904/775-5909.