Island Issues

Mamma’s Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys; Not Doctors And Lawyers And Such

Mamma’s Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys; Not Doctors And Lawyers And Such

In their 1978 song “Mamma’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings urged mothers to encourage their kids to become “doctors and lawyers and such.”

But the popular western music duo never met Fernandina Beach attorney Clinch Kavanaugh or Dr. Ronald “Chip” Ross or they would have sung a different tune and quickly encouraged their audiences to instead choose the cowboy way of life for their progeny.

Here’s why:

Local attorney Kavanaugh announced recently that he will make a second run for a seat on the Fernandina Beach City Commission, while Ross, a doctor at Nassau Baptist Medical Center’s Emergency Room, is also running for a seat.

These two on the Commission would be the equivalent of having Bernie Madoff and John Gotti handling the city’s pension funds and labor negotiations.

I don’t know who’s the most outrageous — the doctor or the lawyer.

Let’s start with Dr. Ronald “Chip” Ross.

Ross offers voters absolutely nothing but chaos, confusion, conflict and frivolous lawsuits that end up costing the tax payer money and time, and generate nothing but grief and misery. Ross is running for the commission seat being vacated by Mayor Robin Lentz, who, unfortunately, is not seeking reelection.

The gadfly doctor attends commission meetings armed with pie charts, graphs, skewed statistics and a bucket of BS, followed by lawsuits that do nothing but satisfy his appetite for publicity, create collateral damage and financial and personal misery to individual residents and cost all tax payers money.

To describe him as an angry, litigious extremist would be a gross understatement. It’s hard to know where to start with this gadfly doctor, but his former residence in Solomon’s Island, Maryland seems as good a place as any.

Fernandina Beach is not his first venue for screwing over community residents and filing irksome legal actions. According to news reports in the an online news publication in Southern Maryland, Ross caused one hell-of-a brouhaha on Solomon’s Island before hightailing it out of there to annoy those of us on Amelia Island.

Apparently Ross has a habit of trying to force property owners to build or not build and sell or not sell anything he doesn’t favor having built or sold. According to news reports he tried to strip a local bar there of its liquor license and had legal charges brought against him said a news publication there in September 2006. The entire, very bizarre report of Dr. Ross’ activities can be found by going to: The Washington Post also reported on the loopy doc’s antics and it can be read in the May 28, 2011 Washington Post (At the famed Tiki Bar in Southern Maryland, it’s the … – Washington Post ) as well as other publications in that area.

Locally, Ross attempted to prevent the construction of a 224-unit apartment complex in a scum-covered, mosquito-infested dumping ditch at South 14th Street and Lime in Fernandina Beach that would provide much needed affordable housing, and recently filed suits that prevent a couple from inhabiting a home they recently renovated on North 2nd Street downtown.

The North 2nd Street home renovation issue is complicated but in a nut shell Robert and Loretta Erickson purchased property on the northeast corner of Broome and North Second Streets and renovated a house on it. The property was zoned industrial at the time but because “residential” is defined as a non-conforming use within an industrial district, they couldn’t move into it. Had the house been continuously occupied prior to their purchase, there wouldn’t have been a problem. But because the non-conforming use (“residential”) of the property had been in effect abandoned, residential use was not an option.

So, as they should have, the City Commission approved changes for the property at its June 6, 2017 session that would have enabled the Claytons to move into their house. But along came Ross who challenged the city’s actions. Ross, who lives a block away from the property in question, has filed two actions, one with the State Division of Administrative Hearings and the other in Circuit Court.

As a result of this extreme activist’s suits the Ericksons can’t move into the renovated house they paid thousands of dollars to restore and the litigious doctor’s actions may have the issue tied up in courts for years. What a nice guy! Just the kind of person you want on the City Commission, right?

According to the online Fernandina Observer until these matters can be decided by the proper authorities, property owners in the challenged area are all in limbo.

(For details, photos and maps of all the properties affected, see the Fernandina Observer article reporting the First Hearing of the ordinances:

In a letter to the editor in the News-Leader Ross attempted to justify his actions saying: “The survival of the character and fiber of our community requires thoughtful long term community vision guided by the Comprehensive Plan, not piecemeal revisions requested by self-interested individuals. For that reason, I recently filed several legal challenges concerning zoning changes approved by the City Commissioners. Some may say these are irritating legal actions that cost the tax payers money. Perhaps – but here is why I don’t think so, blah, blah, blah.”

In the meantime the Ericksons have invested thousands of dollars in a house they can’t live in but which only improved the appearance of the neighborhood where Ross lives. If it wasn’t for the cost, time and misery involved this would be a mixed blessing because at least they don’t have Ross for a neighbor.

Voters marking their ballot for Ross will be sticking a collective finger in the eye of all Fernandina Beach residents by choosing chaos, meanness, anger, self-promotion, and show-boating over sound governance

That’s why I am encouraging folks to vote for Orlando Avila, a small business owner, who has operated a local shipping agency, All American Ship Agents, located in Fernandina since 2012. Oliva is married to a Fernandina Beach High School teacher and the couple have four children, and obviously have a strong and vested interest in ensuring that the city operates smoothly and efficiently.

Now for Clinch Kavanaugh.

When he ran for office last time Kavanaugh was walloped by a relatively unknown and now current Commissioner Len Kreger 1,036 votes to 880, or 54 percent to 45.9 percent. This time he’s running against one of the smartest, most qualified, effective, and popular commissioners to serve the city — local restaurateur (Karibo and Timoti’s) Tim Poynter.

In his last effort Kavanaugh put a whole new blush on the term “sore loser” attacking the city, the voters, and former Mayor Johnny Miller, telling Mary Maguire of the online news publication NFL Independent that he was outraged that voters elected Mr. Miller as mayor.“When you vote to have a bartender from the Palace Saloon as mayor, I’m out of here,” declared Kavanaugh in the Independent. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.” I’m no fan of Commissioner Miller either, but his day job has nothing to do with my opinion.

“You get the government you deserve. I don’t want to waste my time with this city anymore,” continued Kavanaugh in his Independent rant. “All they care about is the little turtles who run up on the beach. We have gigantic financial issues here. Does anybody understand this?” he continued. The next day a “For Sale” sign popped up in the front lawn of Kavanaugh’s North 6th Street and Alachua house, then disappeared a couple of weeks later. Since Kavanaugh still lives there he apparently changed his mind.

Unfortunately only 20 percent of the city’s registered voters turned out in that election, which is like having a club with 10 people and two of them make all the decisions. Hopefully, this coming November 7, city voters will comprehend the gravity of having either of these two misguided gasbags represent them and turn out to vote for their opponents.

In announcing his upcoming run in the local News-Leader a couple of weeks ago Kavanaugh continued his outrageousness saying: “The only person Tim’s out for is Tim,” and in the next breath said that he’s a supporter of changing the city’s code to allow downtown building owners to rent their upper floors for residential use. The dreadful News-Leader, whose publisher, Foy Maloy, has an irrational hatred of Poynter and objective reporting, will publish any claptrap critical of Poynter no matter the source or credibility.

Kavanaugh owns a “For Lease” building on downtown’s North 2nd Street that used to house the now shuttered Dog Star Tavern and has refurbished the upstairs as an apartment. And as part of his campaign he’s saying that he wants to allow downtown building owners to rent their upper floors for residential use. And then he says “Tim’s out for Tim?”

In his last run for office he also campaigned against the city developing any remaining wetlands. But just recently he served as the lawyer representing the developer who wants to build on what environmentalists say is a wetland site at South 14th and Lime. What’s this guy stand for? Flip a coin.

Voters also need to get a load of Kavanaugh sitting in the front row of Tuesday commission sessions muttering under his breath and throwing temper tantrums or screaming at customers — many total strangers to him — in local pubs, who disagree with his far left political views.

I agree with Kavanaugh on getting rid of the city’s extortionist impact/capacity fees that he sued the city over and advocated for the property rights of a developer to build affordable housing at South 14th and Lime, but he does not have the temperament to be a commissioner. Voters will do all residents a favor by voting to keep Tim Poynter on the commission.


Speaking Of Wacky: Hardly a week goes by that the local News-Leader bi-weekly print newspaper doesn’t run an editorial page column by one reporter saying goodbye followed by another proclaiming: “I’m so happy to be here.” This carousel of revolving reporters is not surprising as I was once told by a now departed New-Leader editor that once you hit the $25,000 a year salary mark at that sad publication, that’s the end of the money trail there.

Oh, and most of the opinion columnists for the paper are unpaid. For example I can’t imagine anyone paying pompous local gasbag Robert “Bullet Bob” Weintraub to pen his incomprehensible word jumbles. (Full disclosure here: Weintraub is my former next door neighbor who publically called my wife, Linda, and I “anti-Semites” and threatened us on Facebook with a “loaded shotgun, a loaded rifle and handgun” because we put a celebratory Trump sign in our yard following the Presidential election last November.)

In his latest screed this sad, pathetic, mentally unhinged demagogue donned his Luddite hat condemning artificial intelligence (AI) for displacing workers. This creaky, misguided old crank doesn’t understand that AI will shift jobs from one category to another while improving our standard of living in the traditional capitalistic cycle of creation. However, he’ll still have to practice his aim and buy ammunition when he’s not busy wielding his axe destroying weaving machinery.

Apparently Weintraub’s mental vacuum and emotional chaos reflect the views of Publisher Foy Maloy, Editor Peg Davis, and the News-Leader owners as they continue to provide a forum for this blowhard to ramble on incoherently. As President Trump would say: “Sad.”


Coyote Ugly: The other day I followed a Channel 40, FOX News truck into my Seaside neighborhood wondering what might be happening in this quiet neck-of-the-woods that would be of interest to the talking heads from Jacksonville.

It appears they were looking for coyotes and asked me if I had seen any. “No,” I said and suggested they park on the Egan’s Creek side of our subdivision and ask the folks there if any have been spotted.

After they left I realized that despite the fact I haven’t seen any coyotes, I also haven’t seen any of the feral cats that I’m used seeing wander through the area either. I’m thinking this may be a good time to buy some Acme Corporation stock.


Jumbo Shrimp = Jumbo Fun: Last Sunday Linda and I invited local neighbor,11-year-old Fernando Kelly, to join us at a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp baseball game and I can report back that this is one of the most enjoyable entertainment venues in the area. The Ball Grounds stadium is a spectacular place to watch baseball no matter where you are seated. The ushers, vendors, ticket takers, etc. are polite and helpful, the prices reasonable, the grounds clean, the fans enthusiastic and well-mannered, and the games well played. If you’ve got a youngster in the family or neighborhood take him or her to a game, they’ll have a fun experience and so will you.


Things Worth Repeating: “We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the State is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the State.” – Margaret Thatcher, as reprinted by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Popular Yulee restaurant and watering hole Shuckers will have a prime new location sometime before the end of the year at the northwest end of Shave Bridge, the site of the old Cotton Eye Joe, and entrance to Wades Place Road that takes drivers to VFW Post 4351 and the still under construction Down Under. The popularity of all three might put pressure on the county to fix he pot holed dirt road that takes drivers down under the bridge. Speaking of Down Under, owner Ernie Saltmarsh and his General Manager Mitch Murray gave me a tour of the still-under-construction facility the other day and I came away very impressed. The iconic restaurant and bar, accessible by car and boat, will be a replica of the former McCarthy family’s Down Under with the McCarthy’s actually bringing by items that once adorned their original site. Everything has been rebuilt or restored to its original luster including a spacious upstairs, a huge waterfront deck, mahogany bars and a expansive covered waiting area. Even the original sign poking up on the south side of the bridge is back with a spiffed up look to it. The facility, which Ernie hopes to have open in September will employ about 50 people in a variety of hospitality jobs.


Larry Cook - 06. Aug, 2017 -

Re Palms Fish Camp. I looked forward to the opening. Wife and I went there for lunch on Friday, August 4. Almost didn’t go in because of loud music blasting away. Found the menu on the expensive side but ordered one of my favorite dishes – fish tacos. What I received was wrapped in a taco shell but had wildly inappropriate greens with no visible evidence of a piece of fish – usually chunks. There was nothing larger than almond slices. No management in evidence. I won’t be going back.

CHUCK HALL - 04. Aug, 2017 -

BTW Dave… you DO know there are three candidates for Lentz seat, right? You didn’t even mention Merdardo Monzon is also running for that seat. He is a really smart guy, and as an engineer, he could be an asset to the Board.
Three very different personalities in that race this time.

william t. payne - 30. Jul, 2017 -

Wow! what a conglomeration of bird brain morons, from Clinch the shister to Ross the quack!

Bob Allison - 28. Jul, 2017 -

Great read as always Dave
Keep up the good work and humor ???

Jeff Lanceford - 28. Jul, 2017 -

Dave, I am with you! Just like what you told Dr. Ross, I’ll buy stock, just like you, in Kinder Morgan then move off the island when the coal terminal arrives. I agree with you that you won’t be able to live on the Island anymore if coal comes. You and Suanne Thamm have been pushing Tim Poyter so long you don’t even know or remember why. Why don’t you write something balanced? If you are going to support the business community why doesn’t Poynter support the requirement of putting commercial on the first floor? I heard Luca’s restaurant (on Centre St.) was offered a ton of money for his block of buildings. Developer wants to tear it all down on Centre St. and put NO commercial space in, but build all condos on Centre St. Ross supports the commercial first floor requirement with residential above. Poynter’s lack of planning has created a mess that doesn’t support our downtown business district in making the Central Business District ALL residential. GO TO THE MEETINGS, Dave. If I were a local downtown business owner, I would be really worried that my shop or business was going to be eliminated. I would be angry too! Write about the issues and have a decent discussion rather than spout about things you don’t seem to know much about. Why don’t you and Thamm support our downtown businesses?

Christine Harmon - 28. Jul, 2017 -

Referring to Dr. Chip Ross and attorney Clinch Kavanaugh you wrote: “These two on the Commission would be the equivalent of having Bernie Madoff and John Gotti”, really? You continued, “Ross offers voters absolutely nothing but chaos, confusion, conflict”. Are you certain you were addressing our potential commissions – and not Donald Trump and Anthony Scaramucci?

BTW, I’ve been attending the city commission as well as the recent PAB meetings. Please say “Hello” the next time you are there.

CHUCK HALL - 28. Jul, 2017 -

Regardless of any opinions surrounding coal, it really doesn’t have a place being imported and stored at the port here. The merchants and residents that live around the port will indeed be affected. Coal dust is light and floats far. Washing the coal down to reduce the dust, places it into the river, and the estuaries.
That dust in the estuaries is known to reduce shrimp and fish spawning and hatching rates.
These facts would be good reasons not to support anyone that might vote to bring coal to the port.

Mark Harrison - 28. Jul, 2017 -

Dave, thanks for the warning about Dr. Ross. He seems to hate working class people. He bought a house next to the port and then set about trying to close the port. He tried to pass laws restricting the port that would have only restricted the two pulp mills on the island. (I remember his presentation at the city commission meeting that promised death and destruction if coal were ever unloaded at the port. They’ve been unloading coal off Hecksher in Jacksonville for many years with no reported adverse effect.) The mills had to object to the proposed laws so he turned his vitriol on them. Then he fought to keep the apartment complex from being built at Lime and 14th. Even two weeks ago at the commission meeting he objected to a moderate priced neighborhood being built on Citrona. I generally agree that we have too many people here, but I don’t think we ought to let the rich doctors recently moved down from the north decide that working class people don’t belong here. I hope the voters in the city are able to see his ultimate objective is to turn Fernandina Beach into an exclusive retirement community for rich people from the northeastern US and vote for a more diverse and open community.

Phil Tita - 28. Jul, 2017 -

Another great read Dave! Looking forward to the next one as always.

Tom Yankus - 28. Jul, 2017 -

Wow… Shuckers has a variety of seafood dishes and fair pricing on all food and beverages. What a great location, move for the owners. Mitch is a friend and will manage the Down Under efficiently, professionally. Thanks for the restaurant information. Been to two Jumbo Shrimp games this year. Nice venue for sure and will return soon.