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

Area Media Stay Silent About Fernandina’s Fiscal Schnanigans

A disturbing “There’s nothing to see here!” parallel exists between the national news media’s coverage of the corrupt Joe Biden family and the local media’s coverage of the “crime syndicate” running the city of Fernandina Beach.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal this past Monday, the major media outlets (networks, wire services and major daily papers) in the United States are stifling news articles and all views opposite of theirs when it comes to Joe Biden’s son cashing in on his name and his father’s position while doing deals in Ukraine and China.

Reliable sources say that while traveling with his father on Air Force Two, Hunter Biden raked in millions of dollars in shady business deals. Recent emails found on a Hunter Biden laptop show that Joe Biden was fully aware – despite previous denials – of his son’s deals that included a 10 percent stake set aside for him. He was referred to as “The Big Guy” in the emails. The Bidens don’t deny any of this.

Other than The New York Post – which broke the story – and the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, the national media has failed to report on any of it. Even worse Facebook and Twitter jumped on the Biden cover-up band wagon to prevent others from reading about the scandal. They even blocked the Post’s Twitter account.

This is blatant Soviet-style media censorship.

While the hospitality industry – the economic engine of our community – has been devastated by the Covid pandemic with thousands of layoffs, Fernandina Beach’s city hall operates as though it’s in high clover. The city raises taxes, builds parks, purchases more plans and studies, squanders money on the marina and golf course, buys new vehicles, hires additional staff, and gives the raspberry to those that question any of it.

On our local level, just Like Biden and his corrupt son, our city officials don’t have to worry because the local media reports none of their misdeeds. Just the opposite. They run puff pieces telling their readers that city officials are on their honor like the Boy Scouts to do their best, to do their duty to God and city and to obey the law and help other people at all times. They print this garbage despite the fact that the city is ripping off its Covid-crippled citizens.

One of the worst violators of this fiscal irresponsibility is the city’s Building and Permit Department in its treatment of builders and developers. This rip-off is comparable to the notorious Fernandina Beach Utility Department’s years-long “Pay-to-Play” impact fee extortion scheme.

Like the national media covering up the Biden scandals, the local media here ignore the city rip-off story despite a local watchdog group, builders, developers, and various alarmed citizens bringing it to their attention through press releases, letters, and phone calls. The city’s ineptness and financial recklessness generates nothing but silence from the print News Leader and praise from the fawning online Fernandina Observer.

For example, it was recently pointed out here that the city charges almost six times the commercial permitting, review, and inspection fees that the county does. And two times more in residential fees. The contention was made that the city’s department is redundant, and its services should be outsourced or merged with the county’s that appears to be more efficient and economical than the city’s.

Stephen Beckman, the head of the city’s building department posted a comment to this blog last Friday in an attempt to justify his organization’s operations. In a nut shell he said a comparison between the city’s and county’s fee structure is not feasible because they’re  different somehow. He says they conducted a cost study to justify their fees to the state and that he’s an experienced guy who could make a whole lot more in the private sector. So there!

City officials hasn’t denied any of their fiscal misdeeds. They don’t have to because the local media won’t press them on any of it. The city is never questioned on anything by local media. City Manager Dale Martin has a weekly column that’s printed in local publications and nothing he ever says is questioned by those local media conduits.

The disparate county and city building fees and figures were all documented by local watchdog group Common Sense and building experts and sent to the News Leader and Observer. It was like tossing a coin in a bottomless well. There’s no splash. Well, a belated one in the Observer.

On Wednesday, October 28 The Observer printed half of Common Sense founder Jack Knocke’s letter, deleting the last two paragraphs containing information that backed up his allegations. Here’s what Observer Editor Susan Steger left out:

Some local folks looked at the data comparing city costs to county costs. It seems that the county costs are 1/6 of the city costs for commercial building and ½ of the city costs for residential – for the same service. Chip Ross, Dale Martin, and Steve Beckman (FB Building Director) are running to defend the fees now that they have been exposed. Let’s hope that Steve makes the right recommendation to get costs in line or outsource to the county delivering a huge cost savings to city residents and builders.

The Common Sense Fernandina Beach group has long planned to take up the comparison of city/county costs and operations to recommend opportunities for improvement. Does this look like an opportunity to let the county do building inspections for all of the county including the city? Maybe we should be asking Dale Martin and our commissioners to look seriously at this major cost savings opportunity. Is there anything that says that the city must have their own building inspection department? We should ask the commissioners on the ballot where they stand. Let’s all ask some questions and expect factbased answers.

Mr. Knocke’s letter was posted Wednesday as the last item in a string of the Observer’s local news stories that included such hard and fast breaking news items as a “reminder to get a flu shot” and a press release from the city police department encouraging “responsible disposal of prescription drugs.”

On the same day they printed half of Mr. Knocke’s letter they ran a lengthy puff piece bylined by Stephen Beckman, the city’s building official headlined: “The mission and staff of the Fernandina Beach Building Department.” A coincidence? What do you think? If you suffer from insomnia this article is the cure you’ve been seeking. The Observer has all the news content and readability of a church bulletin except it’s less interesting.

The next day Ms. Steger made up for her embarrassing blooper and posted Mr. Knocke’s letter in its entirety with the following mea culpa: Editor’s Note: I owe Jack a big apology for omitting an important added  portion of his opinion piece regarding City Building Costs. Mistakes happen and I made a big one! We are now posting his full opinion for your review. 

A local building engineer and builder provided similar facts and figures to the News Leader with even more dismal results – nothing. Zip! Nada! Zero!

The locals that comprise Common Sense aren’t a fanatical fist-waving horde of spittle-spewing, bug-eyed activists with multiple social warrior axes to grind. They’re  a coalition of local tax-paying business people, a former city comptroller, a college professor, retired military officer, a magazine and newspaper publisher, among others. They need to be taken seriously.

On the print side the local News Leader is transitioning to a new editor. Maybe he’ll be inspired to actually put into practice what the paper’s masthead describes as its mission: “….truth, integrity, quality and hard work.”

I’m anxious to see how the new editor, Scott Bryan, covers the mob running the city. He has to be better than Peg Davis, the admitted far left editor who hightailed it to Ireland recently. In his latest piece of weekly self-promotion City Manager Dale Martin says he’ll miss Ms. Davis. I’m sure he will as she spent her entire News Leader tenure patting him on the back and singing his praises.

The Observer obediently serves as the propaganda arm of the city while the News Leader remains blissfully ignorant and unaware.

***

Speaking Of The Media: U.S. Attorney General William Barr summed up the sad state of America’s media saying: “Most of the mainstream media is a collection of liars and they know exactly what they’re doing. A perfect example of that were the riots. Right on the street it was clear as day what was going on, anyone observing it, reporters observing it, it could not have escaped their attention that this was orchestrated violence by a hardened group of street fighting radicals and they kept on excluding from their coverage all the video of this and reporting otherwise and they were doing that for partisan reasons, and they were lying to the American people. It wasn’t until they were caught red-handed after essentially weeks of this lie that they even started feeling less timid.” Barr expressed his candid opinion to Townhall columnist Katie Pavlich on a flight to Washington, D.C. Friday, September 4.

Mr. Barr didn’t hold back adding: “The press has dropped, in my view – and I’m talking about the national mainstream media – has dropped any pretense of professional objectivity and are political actors, highly partisan who try to shape what they’re reporting to achieve a political purpose and support a political narrative that has nothing to do with the truth. They’re very mendacious about it,” he continued. “It’s very destructive to our Republic; it’s very destructive to the Democratic system to have that, especially being so monolithic. It’s contributing to a lot of the intensity and partisanship.”

Look no further than their muting of the Biden family influence peddling scandal to prove Mr. Barr’s point.

***

The Head Twit: Twitter boss Jack Dorsey, a billionaire who resembles an unmade bed, told senators Wednesday that his platform does not ban Holocaust-denying tweets. “We did not find those to violate our terms of service because we considered them ‘saber rattling,’ which is part of the speech of world leaders in concert with other countries,” he said. So, while he blocks the New York Post reporting of the corrupt Biden family’s dealings, he says it’s OK to spew Iranian based Holocaust-denying lies but won’t let a newspaper  tweet about factual information that hasn’t been denied by the subjects of the story — the Bidens. I have trouble trusting a guy who –  as Piers Morgan says – looks like he’s auditioning for ZZ Top with his scraggly beard and nose ring. If this had been Donald Trump Jr.’s laptop the national media, Facebook and Twitter would have been all over it like ugly on a gorilla.

***

Trump Rally: The final local Trump rally before Tuesday’s election will be held  at the Beach Diner, on the corner of Sadler and 8th St., in Fernandina Beach, tomorrow, Saturday, October 31 from 9:30 – noon. Erin Schneider, and Amanda Borghese will provide about 50 free signs. Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own banners, flags, signs, hats, etc. Parking is available in the Beach Diner lot or across the street in the Loop restaurant lot.

***

Speaking Of Voting: I haven’t voted yet, but I plan on casting my vote as follows this coming Tuesday: Donald Trump, president; John Rutherford, Congressional Representative; Cord Byrd, state Representative; retain all the judges; John Cascone for County Judge, Group 1 (both candidates are Democrats but Cascone is the most reasonable of the two I’m told); Devin Mizell, Nassau County Soil & Water Conservation District, Group 4; Fernandina City Commissioner Group 1, Bradley Bean; Fernandina Beach City Commission Group 2, David Sturges;  Fernandina City Commission Group 3:  Wendall McGahee is a naive far left Black Lives Mater supporter endorsed by a state-wide college Democrat organization while Chip Ross is an arrogant, pompous, self-righteous bully who spends our tax dollars like a drunken sailor. I don’t like either of these choices so I’ll flip a coin in the voting booth; Fernandina mayor, Len Kreger because I want Mike Lednovich free to focus on controlling the city’s out of control spending and not tied up with the minutia of running Commission meetings and posing for pictures during ribbon cuttings; Constitutional amendments: “No” on  2 and 3, “yes” on the others.

***

A Former Liberal Speaks Up: David Horowitz, a former far-left liberal, says the radical left is using our tax dollars to indoctrinate our children and grandchildren to hate America.

He points to the following examples:

  • In California, a teacher assigned students to write letters to the Oakland police department demanding an end to “racial profiling” — for a math class
  • Teachers are reading a book called “A is for Activist” on first grade students — teaching them “F is for feminist, T is for trans, X is for Malcolm X”
  • An Illinois principal invited a BLM activist — who celebrated the execution-style killings of Chicago police — to speak at career day

Horowitz says there’s even a national program called Black Lives Matter pushing for this indoctrination — and they’ve already succeeded in Seattle, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York City, Baltimore and Washington DC. 

But they won’t stop there says Mr. Horowitz.

“Black Lives Matter won’t be happy until they’ve conquered every school district in America — and programmed every boy and girl to believe that all white people are racist, the United States is evil, and capitalism must be overthrown,” he says.

***

Are You Better Off: A recent Gallup survey found a clear majority of registered voters (56%) say they are better off now than they were four years ago, while 32% said they are worse off. Just 9% of Americans cited economic issues as the nation’s most important problem, Gallup reported, and “No other reelection year has featured less than 40% of Americans naming economic issues as the nation’s most important problem, making 2020 a remarkable year in this regard.”

***

Things I Wish I’d Said:  “When it comes to coming up with agrarian improvements that make it easier to feed the world, conservatives find a way to increase the yield of corn, wheat and soy; when those on the left speak of agrarian reform, it means confiscating the land from the farmers who own it and handing it to those who want it, and who would stop growing potatoes, carrots and hay and start growing poppies and pot, the better to keep the masses stoned and politically apathetic.” – Burt Prelutsky.

***

Just the facts: The National Association of Scholars posted a public letter, signed by 21 scholars and public writers, calling on the Pulitzer Prize Board to “rescind the prize” given to writer Nikole Hannah-Jones for her lead essay in The New York Times 1619 Project. The letter notes: “Given the glaring historical fallacy at the heart of its account, and the subsequent breaches of core journalistic ethics by both Hannah-Jones and the Times, ‘Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written’ does not deserve the honor conferred upon it.” Source, Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

  • Comment (20)
  • Dave;
    Like the tornado you received “that’s what will happen on November 3 2020 to the democrats as we think we know them.”
    Always a fact filled read.

  • To call it critical thinking would result in John Dewey rolling over in his grave. Rather, it only takes a small percentage of grey matter to ponder why the Republicans in Congress haven’t been able to substantiate anything you’ve written in your blog about Biden’s corruption, and neither has the year long investigation by the DOJ been able to find the smoking gun. But yes, to the simple-minded, blaming the press for a cover-up seems all too plausible.

  • Richard, if you follow the media, the DOJ allegedly reported the FBI continues to have a money laundering investigation open regarding Hunter. Furthermore, as the minority party in the house of rep, the GOP is not in a position to direct inquiries. Also, the Congress does not initiate criminal investigations, they sometimes choose to hold hearings regarding matters in the furtherance of their roll in refining legislation.

    As far as the Senate goes, they issued a report in September. The report was not based upon the “laptop” info as the FBI has had it in its possession. The report highlighted suspicious interactions between H. Biden and the potential for influence re Joe, if elected. Of course the House did not consider it important enough to look into as the familiar “Russian Collusion” camoflauge was added to all media inquiries.

    Meanwhile, regarding the accuracy of the allegation, whether true or not, the Media has chosen to censure it. Of course when allegations involving Russian Collusion arose regarding Trump four years earlier, they were front page, non stop. What is ironic is there was no visible quid pro quo regarding Trump and Russia evident yet there was a 4 year media frenzy; yet alas, there is a connection between the Bidens and suspicious dealings but no media frenzy. I takes no gray matter to see that a bias exists between most of the media and the democrat party.

  • The expected victory of the Biden-Harris ticket next week has sent the market into a 6.5% drop for the week and its worst performance since the start of the COVID lockdown in March. I think it might be time to start stuffing the mattress with cash.

  • I agree about the Observer Dave. Any reader comments posted to them that dont fit their left wing agenda are deleted.

  • I think this will be my last comment made here as it is obvious to me that facts are ignored and that you are sure that we are all criminals. Further comment here is a waste of my time. I do, and will answer to the public, but not in your forum.

    If you had all the facts, you would know that I started a dialogue with the observer long before I ever heard of your blog. The observer and I agreed that I will do public information pieces throughout the year for public out reach and education. The goal is to provide services to the community that matter. We actually are rated by ISO for things like that which improve how the codes are understood and enforced in the community. My goal is not “puff” pieces, but rather education about why it all matters and how it works.

    If you had all the facts, you would realize that I am taking action to address properly setting fees long before you ever said a word. The actions we have taken are done so we can do what is right, and do what we are required to do.

    If you had the facts, you would know that months ago The city and county began a dialogue to put together an inter local agreement so we could work together in a number of ways. We are working on how we can all do more and do better together in ways that benefit everyone in the city and county.

    The truth is that we care about doing what is right and best for our community and work hard to make it a better place.

    So go ahead with your crazy conspiracies and half checked facts. We will continue doing the work we need to do to the best of our abilities. None of your accusations or beliefs are driving what we are doing. We are miles ahead of you.

  • Vince, Congress does indeed have the power to conduct criminal investigations. What they lack is the ability to bring forth criminal charges. Two, Hunter Biden is not running for President. And despite the best efforts of the Right to link Joe with any impropriety tied to his son’s reported dealings with the Chinese, nothing has stuck. But when all else fails, as it has in this case, the fallback has always been to evoke conspiracies, coverups, and media bias.

    • Richard, indeed I mis-spoke regarding criminal investigations and referrals. On the other hand I do find it interesting that the former VP said on numerous occasions he had no idea what business his son was conducting. I think the written, oral, and photo evidence shows otherwise. By itself but with his own video showing he strong armed a nation into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the firm his son was paid by would raise questions. Not so much for that instant matter as allegedly it looks like it was glossed over but by the indication of a continuing activity in other areas in which his family may have been involved. One thing it is not is the result of Russian collusion. Even the FBI admits that.

  • Will someone please explain how a meth-head junkie, with no geopolitical, language, or industry experience, lands a C-Suite position for a company conveniently located in a country whose relationship with the US is being managed, not by the then Secretary of State (who was secretively busy finding a private jet to deliver $50 Billion to Khamenei), but his father, and we are not to conclude that the reason was pure nepotism? Nepotism may not be a crime, but the action is a demonstrable character flaw.

    As far the continuing comments regarding the City’s building department, given the shrinking availability of developable land within the city, one would expect that the department’s staff should be prudently declining, but it is not. The increases to staff between the budget’s ending 2019 and 2021 are 29% and is just another indication of wasteful City government spending. How can this be justified?

  • To Steve Beckman,

    You mention “the facts” five times in your comment, four times in the phrase, “if you had the facts;” and yet, instead of citing a single fact, you just string out bromides and claim you are doing all the is “right and best” for the community. Excuse me, sir, but there’s a name for that. It’s called Bravo Sierra.

  • I went to the Republican Party of Nassau County (www.nassaugop.com) for some guidance. I am never clear about judges, and certain amendments have convoluted descriptions. As in the 2016 election, this local website offers no insight. I am an Independent, but expected to see a “sample ballot” with the GOP endorsements. It was disappointing. Thanks for posting your preferences!

  • Vince, what is clear is that Trump is not in the clear regarng Mueller’s investigation. Mueller and the FBI so much as said that other findings are moot at this point because a sitting president is immune from criminal prosecution. Whether in 3 months or 15 months, Trump is likely to face additional charges. Which of course is why Trump said he will leave the country if he loses the election. My money is on Russia as his destination. On the other hand, the Biden’s enjoy no such immunity, yet here we are with no charges forthcoming.

    • Richard, when you think Trump is leaving the country, I suspect you been reading too much Democrat Underground. There are no strings open except some silly notion he obstructed justice. The notion of not indicting a sitting president was promulgated during the Nixon impeachment but there is no Constitutional bar to that occurring. You recall that impeachment exercise, the one where the chief prosecutor fired Hillary Clinton because she lied about whether Nixon should be allowed to have an attorney based on her alleged review of the files of the Johnson impeachment in the 1860s. As far as sitting here with Biden with no charges, on that subject I think the jury is still out. There is an open inquiry on Hunter B and where that may lead who know. I never suspected the Watergate break in would result in Nixon resigning but things happen sometimes when least expected.

      I would like to see Trump reelected but my wish could be dashed as the Dems believe they got it done. The left set its agenda with the “resistance” which stymied the outsider Trump for almost 4 years. I hope he has wised up enough that if he does win, it does not continue. Some forecast rioting by the left this time should Trump win. If it does, it could destroy the country but as John Parker said in part….if they mean to have war, let it begin here.

  • We have heard, Mr. Beckman, how hard working, experienced, self sacrificing, well intentioned and now how offended you are. You have told us about your studies and now your dialogues, your goals and how much you care. Please remember that the citizens of the city are also citizens of the county and the services you insist on providing are offered better and much less expensively by the county literally across the street. Your response so far seems to be a plea for understanding on why you are “different”. So far we only get words from you. When will we get better, lower cost service? It might be good to reflect, sir, on Milton Friedman’s famous quote that “Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it”.

  • I’m curious why Patti Clifford wasn’t vocal about the city’s spending when she was an employee. It certainly seems as though she’s burning the bridge after she’s walked across it.

  • I think it is time to find Stephen Beckmann a roll of hard to find crapper paper. Preferably single ply like when I was in Junior High School 4.5 decades ago. He certainly needs something to wipe his baby tears.

  • Good Morning Mr. Scott,

    As a long time resident and reader here on Pride Island I appreciate your information and wordsmanship. This Island hasn’t seen the honesty in which you write since A.J. Smith was an active participant in governmental affairs. On that note I would like to note an informative website which might be interesting to your readers.
    eyeonjacksonville.com If you look thru a few back pages of this website you will find information concerning an important political race here in Nassau County. Thank you for your work Mr. Scott and please keep up the good work.

  • Dave, so many of your readers and supporters have gone so off the rails, its not even worth me responding…and as you know me, that is probably unbelievable. The only thing that I want to respond to this time is, is the comment “…This Island hasn’t seen the honesty in which you write since A.J. Smith was an active participant in governmental affairs.” by Hedley Lamar. AJ Smith was a nasty, argumentative malcontent, who at best, had his facts right about 50% of the time. AJ (just like the foul-mouthed, lying, whiner Donnie Chump) used insults and bullying to make his points and to try to push his agenda forward. AJ once threatened me personally, as I was participating in a lunch meeting at the Marina Restaurant with some of the Marina Project engineers. He literally came over and drew his hand over his should and pointed his finger at me as if holding a gun, and told me “you better watch your back, because I am coming after you”, all because I didn’t agree with him in a commission meeting, and pointed out his misinformation. If I could have, I would have punched the SOB right in his Pitbull nose. He was a sorry SOB, and did more to damage good will in this community than any other human being I know in my 40 years of living in Fernandina. When he died, I was tempted to go to his funeral, only to make sure the SOB was really dead. So, Dave, I would take likening you to AJ Smith as an insult, if your were a wise man.

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