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

Nassau School Board Sessions Are Backwards And Confusing: “A Guy Is A Guy Wherever He May Be” — “Not So” Says The Left

Nassau County School Board meetings are open to the public and comments are welcomed. Just don’t expect the folks that run the system to pay much attention to your concerns according to feedback I’ve received.

Also, don’t waste time searching for amplification in the local media, they’re busy looking after their own interests. The online Blind Observer is preoccupied publishing patronizing pablum from Fernandina Beach city officials while the bi-weekly print News Leader is in a feverish lather bashing the state for damming up its stream of taxpayer revenue.

I’ve never attended a School Board meeting but plan on doing so soon since I’m fascinated to see firsthand the way the sessions are structured. From what I’ve heard they’re knee-slapping hilarious…..well maybe not so funny for taxpayers. The School Board apparently makes decisions, then allows comments only after it has already voted on the issue. That’s like closing on a house then requesting an inspection.

Jack Knocke, head of the community watchdog group Common Sense, attended last week’s session packed with contentious topics including the controversial ouster of teacher John Pate as Hilliard’s football coach, questionable public records requests, and a controversial $3.7 million property purchase.

Again, don’t expect much in the way of coverage on these issues from the local news outlets, they are as opaque as the school board and its administration.

The bi-weekly News Leader Editor Scott Bryan and Publisher Foy Maloy are so consumed with losing a major revenue stream of government paid public notices that they’ve dropped the reporting ball.

A front-page News Leader article this past Wednesday, March 16, by Editor Bryan “reporting” last week’s school board meeting, failed to say why John Pate lost his coaching job, mention the controversial $3.7 million taxpayer funded land purchase, or cite Common Sense’s scramble to obtain public records concerning it.

However, the paper did publish a whiney quarter page editorial (“Good riddance to poor representation from Bean, Byrd”, Wednesday, March 16) bashing local state legislators, Representative Cord Byrd, and Senator Aaron Bean, for correctly voting along with an overwhelming majority of other state legislators to derail the paper’s tax-funded gravy train. The legislation says the state no longer has to pay with our tax dollars to publish public notices in print newspapers.

The legislature overwhelmingly voted that those notices can now be run online. Thanks to taxpayer advocates like Bean and Byrd the state is no longer required by law to pay to post them in the News Leader or any other newspaper. It’s like legislating that cities are no longer required to build hitching posts for local citizens to tether their horses.

The online Blind Observer is irrelevant and never reports on anything newsworthy. It serves as the public relations arm of the city and runs pap about birds and bugs, blather from bombastic city poohbahs, and prints verbatim press releases from area do-gooders and advertisers. It will, at times, feebly attempt to bash a local conservative, but is otherwise a harmless worthless outlet lacking any credibility or skilled writers.

But back to the School Board. A perplexed Mr. Knocke said that he arrived at the meeting a little late, but not late enough to hear frustrated citizens discuss issues the Board had already decided.

He explained: “Unlike other jurisdictions, public comments at the school board meeting were reserved for the end – after everything was decided. Huh? Why are we speaking then?” asks Knocke.

“We are unable to influence anyone’s opinion after all of the votes are over,” he says. “Other jurisdictions invite speakers to speak on each agenda item. Non agenda comments are reserved at a general section at the end. Other jurisdictions allow speakers to speak multiple times if there are multiple items they are interested in speaking about. The  Nassau County School Board allows speakers once and for only three minutes”

The entire comment process was bizarre he continued: “Speakers are mixed like a Dairy Queen shake.  Coach…property purchase…coach…public records requests…coach…coach…union negotiations…coach…coach…coach…public records requests.  Many were passionate speakers – some courageously speaking for the first time to the School Board. What a confusing mess with all issues intermingled. How could board members keep up with this? It really didn’t matter since it was already done.”

Knocke said that speakers were unanimously united on one topic: Keeping Pate as the Hilliard football coach. “The testimonials were over-the-top in his favor,” he says. “The speakers supporting Coach Pate were passionate and compelling and included parents and students. They cited Pate’s positive influence such as having four players graduating and going on to play college football, his leadership skills and accountability, grade improvement, increased class attendance and kids playing football instead of getting in trouble.”

The feedback indicates Coach Pate is being removed against the will of parents and students. He retains his teaching position.

I called the School Board and asked why Pate was removed as coach and was told that they will not discuss personnel issues. My question was emailed to Superintendent Kathy Burns, the school system’s HR director and the assistant superintendent. I heard nothing back in time for this commentary. However, it is Spring Break.

It’s been rumored that the much admired and respected retired U.S. Army officer was booted for cursing. Imagine that! A retired Army veteran coaching boy’s football heard cursing! Good grief! Hide the women and children!

Knocke reports that the property purchase closing issue was pushed back a week to April 6th.  “This was done in the interest of full disclosure,” he adds. “A one-week delay to give parties the opportunity to review information.  Recall this is property purchased for $1,400,000 May 2021.  Appraised for $1,400,000 in July 2021.  And then appraised for $3,750,000 in August 2021. The School board has authorized the purchase for $3,700,000. The school board could have purchased this property years ago, for much less, why the urgency now? Why pay the ridiculously high price?”

The public records request issue was also perplexing Knocke explains: “What was astounding was that Board Member Dr. Cyndy Grooms offered to pay the $100 to release the emails regarding the sale.  But wait. Dr. Grooms is a School Board Member! School board members must pay $100 to get public information so that they can make an informed decision? Is that legal – charging a board member for public information? That information should be provided to the board members at NO COST at their request for full disclosure. Strange. How can these board members afford to hold those positions if they are asked/forced to pay $100 to see relevant public information that they will rely on to justify a vote?”

I smell a Mel Brooks or Monty Python movie in here somewhere.

Following the head-scratching session Knocke encouraged his Common Sense members to get involved saying: “We need courageous, passionate moms, dads, business people, etc. to run for the school board. We need board members who are passionate about the kids, passionate about transparency, passionate about cost control and not afraid of holding the School Board Superintendent accountable when necessary with probing questions to clarify actions. Our benchmark should be the best schools in the country – our kids deserve it.”

I foresee the School Board as a fountain of material for future columns.

Nassau County School Board Members

Lissa Braddock   904-507-9522

Gail Cook              904-261-9127

Jamie Deonas     904-277-0006

Cynthia Grooms 904-845-8105

Donna Martin     904-261-9015

The School Board site is: and contains the board members email addresses. The meetings are at the School Board Building at 1201 Atlantic Avenue, across the street from Central Park.

Jack Knocke can be contacted at or (470) 295-4365. To learn more about Common Sense go to:


Is “A Guy A Guy Wherever He May Be”? The 1952 Doris Day hit song “A Guy Is Just a Guy” probably couldn’t be played on radio, TV, or broadcast on social media today without generating an outpouring of protest from hare-brained far-left crackpots.

The song’s refrain (below), which is as appropriate today as it was then, would send them into apoplectic fits of uncontrollable rage:

“Because a guy is a guy wherever he may be
So listen while I tell you what this fellow did to me”

Take a listen to this catchy tune at

In a nutshell here’s how nutty things have become in the preceding 70 years: A guy wearing a girl’s bathing suit is winning women’s collegiate swimming competitions in record times while another guy, employed by the federal government who wears a dress to work, was just named to a national  “Women of the Year” list.

According to the folks behind all this silliness “a guy is NOT a guy wherever he may be” and here’s what these fellows did.

Let’s start with the whacky swimmer.

A man named Will Thomas, who says he is now a gal named Lia Thomas, is permitted by the crackpots that run the University of Pennsylvania to use the girl’s dressing room and swim for the girl’s team. Thomas, who physically resembles Mark Spitz not Esther Williams, is racking up win-after-win over his female opponents. That’s because he’s a guy, not a gal, and guys are biologically stronger than girls, no matter what the nitwits at Penn claim.

Thomas competed for three years on the Penn men’s swim team before deciding that the odds would be better swimming against the “weaker sex” and the girl’s locker room a lot more interesting. So, he dove into the deep end and moved his gear from the guy’s locker room to the gal’s. Despite protests from the girls and their parents, the whack jobs at Penn declared that this was perfectly normal behavior. This is a school where parents shell out an average of $81,000 annually to have their kids indoctrinated.

Leftist loons tell us that this guy is a “transgender”, which they allege describes a particular “gender identity.” But there’s a problem. It’s a lie. All of  this “transgender” and “gender identity” nonsense is rubbish. It’s all about an arrogant and naked emperor. Any male pervert prancing around naked in the girl’s locker room should have his butt kicked out, be cuffed, and arrested.

Penn says otherwise. Mr. Thomas is now completing his senior year, piling up trophies that rightfully belong to the second place finishing girls at schools he swam against and that the actual girl’s on his team would have won. All of his trophies, school and Ivy League records should have an asterisk with a note declaring: “Girly-boy category”.

The cross-dressing government employee’s story is equally bizarre.

Rachel Levine, aka Richard Levine, is Joe Biden’s assistant secretary for health for the Department of Health and Human Services and possibly the first man in that job to wear a dress to work. It’s been rumored that the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was a cross-dresser, but reports say he had the dignity and courtesy to only prance around in his tutu in the privacy of his home.

Levine, who may also be the homeliest “woman” to ever serve in government, was named to USA Today’s list of “Women of the Year”, a list that includes gymnast Simone Biles, Kizzmekia Corbett, one of the women who helped develop the COVID-19 vaccine, and Linda Zhang, chief engineer behind Ford’s electric F-150 Lightning automobile.

By putting Mr. Levine – who identified as a biological male for 50 years – on the list, USA Today is implying that the achievements of Levine, a biological male, are the same as biological women and their exemplary accomplishments. How is that fair to biological women since Levine’s place on the list steals that spot from an actual biological woman?

All humans are either female or male. Chromosomes within a human body remain the same as they were from birth, even when a person has taken cross-sex hormones or has surgery. At a genetic or cellular level, a transgender person remains biologically male or female.

Where are all the women’s equal rights organizations when the gals really need them?

An abridged version of this commentary can be found at


Dumb & Dumber: Joe Biden is flat out stupid or else thinks that the public will believe his outrages lies – maybe a combination of both. For example, he keeps yammering that Build Back Better will reduce inflation, and claims he is doing a great job with the economy.

Biden and his Democrat lemmings are still pushing for more spending despite inflation at a 42 year high, gas the priciest it’s ever been, grocery prices souring, etc. hammering Americans financially.

With the war raging in Ukraine, Biden now says all our problems are caused by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin despite the fact the price of gasoline was rising weekly before Putin shot his first rocket, or that inflation was rising uncontrollably before Putin invaded, or that a couple million illegals were invited into our country before Putin did anything.

Putin isn’t responsible for U.S. oil imports and skyrocketing prices. Biden is. Biden’s war against fossil fuel caused it. Like a guilty kid pointing to the cat for the busted table lamp, Biden is also blaming the oil industry because oil companies won’t drill non-productive wells. No new permits have been approved for offshore or public land drilling since Biden was inaugurated.

While Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s husband was off reciting the homosexual pledge of allegiance with a group of kids, wife Pete was telling Americans to buy electric cars: no mention of how to charge them or where to get the $75,000.00 to buy them.

As one of my favorite pundits Bill Shuey says: “Aren’t you glad insanity isn’t a communicable disease!”


The Greatest Generation NOT! A recent Quinnipiac poll found unsurprisingly that the most unreliable segment of the U.S. population consists of those who identify as Democrats.

The poll revealed something most of us already know – that Democrats are weak, unpatriotic, and lily-livered.

The poll asked: What would you do if you were in the same position as Ukrainians are now, stay and fight or leave the country? More than half of Democrats (52%) said they would cut and run if the U.S. homeland were invaded. We aren’t talking about women and children, or even some cadre of pacifists and conscientious objectors. This is most Democrats saying they’d rather leave America than defend it. Only a pathetic 40% said they would stick around.

Republicans did better. More than two-thirds (68%) said they would stand their ground. But 1 in 4 Republicans said they’d flee—not exactly a patriotic G.I. Joe sprit, but better than the cowardly Dems.




  • Comment (13)
  • As described, the school board is even less transparent than some in California, which are moving toward terminal Wokeness, unmolested and untroubled by the public. Clearly, the bright light of real news reporting is needed here.

    As for the politically-induced transgender, etc., confusion- don’t even get me started on that

  • After long and careful analysis of the actions of Joe Biden, our President, for the past 14 months, it appears to me that Joe made a deal something like this. If you get me elected to my dream job, I will follow your (Democratic Leftist) orders or die trying. I will make “The New Green Deal” my policy. I will put forward all your nutty candidates for every important job in the USA. In return, you protect my son, Hunter Biden and my brother Jimmy Biden from scrutiny and prosecution. I will do this to my last day in office. So help me.

  • (Sung to the tune “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”)
    If a person has a penis, he’s a man, if a person has a penis he’s a man. If the chromosome’s a Y, he will always be a guy,
    If a person has a penis he’s a man!!

    • The number of US citizens willing to stand and defend their country that you listed is disgraceful. Anything under 100% is unacceptable! Luckily we live in an area where the number would be much greater than 68%….

  • It is clearly a lost cause trying to bring reason and common sense into any discussion with those on the left. The sooner conservatives have separate outlets and resources of our own in terms of news, education, social media, business, government, and entertainment, the better off we will be. The internet will provide that opportunity and the separate but better movement has already begun.

  • Dave- I attended a school board meeting when we firs t moved here twenty-two years ago. None of the current members were on the board at that time, but it seems things apparently never change. Back then, the board members would look to the superintendent for a signal when it came time to vote as if they were unable to formulate an answer on their own.
    Additionally, the board only has to survive the current crop of unhappy parents until their student graduates at which time a new group of malleable parents will take their seats.
    At the time of my attendance, I was looking for the board to subsidize the cost of interning students for local businesses (businesses which pay full school board taxes without the benefit of any type of exemption). My suggestion was sucked into the dark matter that is the school board.
    The only way that things will change is if groups like Common Sense (and other groups not directly associated with the education of our children) get and remain involved.

  • If Biden is the puppet who is the Puppeteer?
    Has to be some spook smarter than Biden and his clowns.

  • Nassau County just got rid of Mike Mullen, so surely “dr burns” can go also. I agree with Mr Knocke. I have lived in Fernandina Beach since 1997 and love it here except for the local politics. I was able to listen to the speakers at the School Board meeting on Facebrook, so FB is good for something! Mr Pate was very admirable as were the parents who spoke. I would be fired also since I can also say a few cuss words. Please reinstate Mr. Pate! Your child may be the next one he inspires and/or saves. Now I will try to attend meetings also.

  • Splitting hairs Dave… I wholeheartedly agree that its shameful if only 52% or 68% are willing to stay and defend our nation, but you seem to think that some poll gives you some superiority in a pointless argument, because “your team” has less wimps than “our team”. Jeez, You never disappoint, Dave. Just for the record, when I was issued my Merchant Mariner’s Credential (USCG Master’s License, commonly referred to as a “Captain’s License”), we were asked if we would make ourselves available in the event of a National Emergency, to which I answered YES. AND I am one of the 52% of Democrats who say they would defend our nation in a time of need, I also appreciate the 68% of the Republicans who answered the same. The funny thing is, I have committed on paper with the USCG, not sure how we account for the others, but let’s hope we do not need to do so, because, it will be a sad state of affairs if 64-year-olds like me have to help defend out nation. We are so lucky to live in the greatest nation in the world, and I truly appreciate the men and women who serve and have served on all of our behalf. Let’s try, for just once, to look at the real enemy, instead of vilifying each other Dave. Right now, our mantra should be: Puck Futin! or if that is too much, simply: Glory to Ukraine!

  • Great blog Dave! I was at the last school board meeting and boy was it spicy  Watching 20 + pissed of parents and tax payers roast Nassau County’s Cruella de Vil aka Dr Kathy Burns was the highlight of my week. She appeared visibly nauseas at the feedback from her constituents. I for one don’t understand why TPTB in Nassau County haven’t asked her to resign. She has become a distraction and has effectively lost the confidence of the rank and file at the Nassau County School District not to mention the trust of public. Speaker Richard Lamken did a masterful job of pointing out the flawed process of only allowing the public to speak at the end of the meeting. It didn’t go unnoticed that board member Jamie Deonas was ABSENT….he has a habit of missing the controversial meetings. HE acts like a tough guy but he sure runs from any fight…sigh, good thing he is up for re-election this year! How he was ever elected to a school board position is beyond me, it just goes to show you that riding on daddy’s coat tails while playing with your silver spoon is still an effective way to get elected in Nassau county. I am looking forward to the March 31st meeting, hopefully we are able to learn more information about the “honest” 10 acre land purchase… I hope the public finally see what a bunch of frauds we have for elected officials (not all, but most). Let’s return the age old tradition of voting all incumbents out!

  • God, Family, Country, or so the country song goes. When polled, Americans actually order it Family, Country, then Religion. In any case, I’m sure the millions of Ukrainians who have made the unimaginable decision to flee in order to save their families are paying attention to the fat American wannabe commandos, who in the comfort of their living rooms, brag to some pencil-pushing poll-taker about how they’d choose to stay and fight. You can also bet that Ukrainians aren’t running around bashing each other over whether they lean liberal or conservative. As Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Or in this case, until a Russian tank comes crashing through the front door.

  • I was told by an unnamed employee of the Nassau County School District that I am not allowed on School Board property. While I don’t have children in the district, I do have a voice. I would like to attend the next meeting. As a matter of fact, I plan to attend.


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