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

News Leader Columnist Sapp, Reporter Roberts Fail Miserably Southwest Airlines Winner Of 2022 Christmas Grinch Trophy

This week’s Wednesday, December 28 Fernandina Beach News Leader scrambled to cobble together a two-column editorial page apology for a misleading and inaccurate article about a downtown developer while at the same time publishing another embarrassing Ron “Get Off My Lawn You Little Bastards” Sapp column right smack next to it.

In addition to his continuous grumbling about tourism, new businesses, and the tearing down of dilapidated buildings that should have been condemned years ago, the bi-weekly print News Leader’s Wednesday curmudgeon, galumphed about last week’s City Commission race. His favored duo of leftist candidates lost and he ain’t happy.

In his silly, sloppy, word jumble the former high school indoctrinator decried the losses by Black Lives Matter supporter Mayor Mike Lednovich and Genese Minshew, who wants to turn Fernandina Beach into a gay vacation destination. He compared their defeats by local chiropractor Dr. James Antun, and firefighter Darron Ayscue, to the “Day the Music Died”, a song mourning the loss of singers Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.R. Richardson, aka the Big Bopper in a plane crash in 1959. His column should have been headlined  “The Day Common Sense Died” to reflect his twisted logic.

Sapp focused his impotent whining and handwringing this time on what he perceives as a violation of the city’s charter, saying the commission race was tilted by the “local Republican Executive Committee involving itself in the election.” He offered not a single shred of evidence to back up his accusation. And even if it is true so what? The city charter doesn’t invalidate the First Amendment.

“Republicans did it!”

The city charter says the election should be nonpartisan, meaning that none of the candidates can identify as a member of any political party. And they didn’t. He says the “city charter was undermined with impunity” apparently only because his preferred candidates lost.

Chicago and Los Angeles conduct nonpartisan elections. Explain that to the Republicans that live in those two left-wing hellholes.

Sapp, like the News Leader’s “crack” pretend journalist, Julia Roberts, a week earlier failed to mention that the Democrat party openly supported the two progressive losers, offering their campaign signs, handouts, etc. at its South 8th Street headquarters, and urged voters to elect them.

Does Sapp, an admitted socialist, realize how foolish and frantic he sounds.? Does anyone even proofread his blather to save him and the paper embarrassment?

Why are the city elections supposed to be nonpartisan anyway? What purpose does that serve, particularly when most voters can look up a candidate’s party affiliation, which is public record?

The city charter may declare the elections nonpartisan, but it doesn’t squelch the First Amendment rights of residents. If Sapp or the paper’s amateur reporter, Roberts, had done any fact checking they would have discovered that neither Antun or Ayscue initiated, sought, or wrote any of the campaign literature distributed by a political action committee out of Tallahassee.

The News Leader’s journalism style guides.

Folks exercising their First Amendment rights spoke out and Sapp wants that to end. “Make the Republicans stop,” he whines, “only the Democrats can do that stuff, don’t they understand that?”

In a city where a majority of voters are registered Republican, who pushed for nonpartisan races and why? Anybody? Maybe the city charter needs a looksee by voters to adjust this issue. Someday the balance of registered voters could change but so what. That’s how a democracy works.

I can only imagine the bilge that Sapp spewed in his classroom at Fernandina Beach High School.

Right next to Sapp’s pathetic kvetch was an editorial from the paper apologizing for another one of the Lois Lane wannabe Julia Roberts’ numerous misleading and inaccurate articles. The lengthy editorial apology corrected a variety of facts Roberts had wretchedly gotten wrong about a townhome development in downtown Fernandina.

The apology consumed some 15 inches of space correcting Ms. Roberts’ inaccurate and sloppy reporting.

Beware if you spot this “Close Cover Before Striking School of Journalism and Screen Door Repair” graduate heading to an event that you’re involved with as this gal never lets the facts interfere with her preconceived notion of a good story.

***

Wait! What? Fernandina Beach City Commissioners no longer have city email addresses. In order to communicate with them residents now must click on a link that sends them to a form they have to fill out and then hope for a response.

I tried it the old way using an old email address I had.  And I tied it the new way earlier this week. The old way worked fine.

I emailed Commissioner Chip Ross who is notorious for his speedy replies, asking him who initiated the new form. He quickly responded, copying City Manager Dales Martin, saying: “In a brief discussion with Ms. Best (City Clerk Carolyn Best), apparently the form/format was designed and implemented many years ago.”  I have no idea what that means as the new format just appeared this week not years ago.

Moving right along here as I’m far from a tech guy, but this new form of communications seems to make communicating with the city’s elected commissioners more difficult rather than easier. I’m still waiting for my response using the new format.

I still have no idea who initiated the form. But in Fernandina Beach professional bureaucrats seem to run things acting on their own initiative. They don’t report to the elected officials or necessarily reflect the values of  the townspeople. Instead, they behave more like they are the ones in charge. Take the Building and Utilities Departments here for example. They’ve been cash cows for the city for years, even two trials and the court-ordered  refunding of millions of dollars haven’t slowed them down.

The email form might be small potatoes, but it’s annoying and hinders, not enhances, the flow of communications between citizens and elected officials.

***

Happier days at Southwest Airlines when the stewardesses wore hot pants and boots.

Somebody Up There Hates You! Remember when Southwest Airline’s tagline was “Somebody Up There Loves You?”

The once friendly, economical, and highly efficient airline whose stock symbol is LUV isn’t feeling much love these days as it left thousands of unhappy, angry, and frustrated customers stranded in airports across the country including Jacksonville. Their luggage meanwhile continued on to destinations scattered throughout the United States.

Southwest boarding gates and ticket counters resemble Texas and Arizona border towns, besieged by thousands of passengers waiting to be processed. Except the hopeful airline passengers actually held the equivalent of a visa, a bought and paid for airline ticket and a reservation. A Mexican drug cartel could get them to their destination faster than Southwest. It appears that Southwest has also hired the infamous fired cross-dressing luggage snatcher Energy Secretary Sam Brinton as Executive Vice President for Baggage Control.

The illegals streaming across the U.S. southern border are treated better than Southwest’s stranded passengers, who have no place to stay, whose luggage has been sent from Kokomo to Kalamazoo, while they’re stuck in Oshkosh and Oswego, when their final destinations are none of those places.

Southwest baggage piles up this week at all major U.S. airports.

The hapless airline cancelled 2,900 of its flights Monday, December 26 and 2,500 the next day, then 2,300, etc., some 70 percent of all its schedule flights this past week. Despite the winter storm most other airlines were relatively unscathed. Stranded Southwest passengers don’t have to look far for an airline official to complain to as they are sleeping alongside them on airport floors. The confused and chaotic airline couldn’t even get their crews in and out of the airports.

At least the harried U.S. border officials aren’t taking the illegal’s luggage. And they’re giving them makeshift accommodations and bus and plane tickets to wherever they want to go, albeit at U.S. taxpayer expense. The airline is making the totally inept Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas and the befuddled Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, appear almost competent.

The worst corporate job in America today has to be that of the Southwest Airlines public relations and investor relations folks who are attempting to put a positive spin on the company’s catastrophic holiday mess and the stock’s nosedive. Southwest is blaming the chaos on its scheduling software. So why didn’t they fix that with the couple of billion dollars of taxpayer money that the feds gave them for so-called Covid relief?  It seems an audit of where all our money the government gave to them and and other businesses is long overdue.

All the goodwill and love Southwest accrued in its 55-year history was wiped out this holiday season.

***

Remember This Guy? The political career of Florida Democrat Andrew Gillum, who narrowly lost the 2018 gubernatorial race to Ron DeSantis is over.

The failed candidate, who following his defeat was found in a motel unconscious with drugs and a male escort, will face trial on federal charges including fraud and lying to the FBI.

Gillum and an associate were indicted earlier this year on charges including conspiracy, wire fraud, and making false statements to FBI agents. Prosecutors say the former Tallahassee mayor used campaign donations for personal expenses during his failed gubernatorial campaign.

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor declined to throw out the case against Gillum, calling his claims the charges were brought because he is black “meritless.”

Despite Gillum’s loss to DeSantis, he was still seen as a rising star in Democratic politics and was hired as a CNN analyst, a fact that doesn’t say much for Democrats or CNN.

***

Sacré Bleu: I happened across a news item the other day that informed me that the iconic French baguette has been named to the United Nations “Intangible Cultural Heritage “ list, right up there with the Iranian Oud (look it up) and the Arabian oral tradition of calling camel flocks.

I lived and worked in France and Belgium for some seven years and was once married to a French gal, so am personally familiar with the baguette. The baguette is indeed as worthy of a UN accolade as a camel call, but with a few prerequisites.

Do not mistake the Publix, Winn Dixie, or Harris Teeter purchased baguette for a French one. It’s close but it’s not the real thing. You can keep the American-made version in your bread box overnight and it’ll still be soft enough to enable you to bite into it the next morning without doing serious damage to your incisors.

An actual French baguette must be eaten the day you buy it, in fact within a few hours or so of taking it home, much longer and it’ll be as tender as an anvil.

More than three hours after purchasing an actual French baguette it could be used as a weapon to effectively clobber a home intruder.

In World War II I think day-old baguettes were used as weapons by the French resistance against their German occupiers.

  • Comment (21)
  • For ya’ll who wonder why southwestern changed their stewardess uniforms, it’s because of the woke left and gays that insist on doing woman’s work. dave, ya’ll should start a petetion to bring back real stewardesses in proper uniforms. chainge 1st class to champaine room class. No more dudes – I dont wanna get sirprised if I deside to grab em by there xxxx.

    • I’m sure your humor will fly right over the “right”eous wings’ heads, but I for one, found it spot on and hilarious. Let’s bring back the good ole days of acceptable “xxxxx grabbing” by future presidents.

  • Good column (and finely crafted and grammatically correct as usual). We need to lobby for email addresses, not contact forms. Eventually will all unanswered phone calls go to some common voicemail contraption that city employees rummage through every morning? Will email be handled the same way? Dave, just hope your contact form comment doesn’t fall into the hands of a nefarious city employee.

  • The utility department is a special peeve of mine. While the people who work in that department are nice folks and do a great job, unfortunately the city management has been using the funds banked through high rates and ridicules fees to fund other areas of the city through “loans”. Are these loans ever paid back?? IMO, the utility is being used as an end around for increased property taxes.

    The utility was purchased from private ownership using revenue bonds. Revenue bonds because the purchase proponents believed the city would not otherwise have gotten voter approval to use general obligation bonds. The revenue of the utility supposedly underpins the bonds.

    Recognize that when the utility was privately owned, rates and earnings were subject to review by the PUC. Once the utility became a public utility, there is no PUC oversight as to rates and fees. When the utility’s rates were controlled by the PUC, FPU paid taxes upon their earnings and distributed dividends to their stockholders. Apparently, now that the utility is not privately owned and not controlled by the PUC, they have amassed enough money to subsidize other city fiascos through “loans”.

    What’s even more galling I understand the rates are up for an increase again this coming year. How much is enough? Well, the recent election may have sent a death blow to the tax and spend crowd, but they have this avenue of extra money available, I guess.

    • Vince:

      You got it right. When the FL Public Service Commission refused to give FPU rate increases in Fernandina because they overbuilt the plant the city bought the system. The city installed illegal impact fees to pay for their purchase at an inflated price. Ever since access to the public water and sewer system by adjoining county residents and businesses has required their consent to be annexed into the city. What Putin annexes with tanks the COFB does as a condition of access to essential public water and sewer services. Local citizens would be best served by returning the system to private ownership subject to regulation of rates and standards of service by the Florida Public Service Commission.

  • I was shocked to read Coleman Langshaws comment in todays blog.It
    was brief concise and haha funny.Well,sorry might’ve gotten a bit carried
    away with the funny part.But it was a very well needed change of pace
    from a usual Bah Humbug dude.Maybe the spirit of Xmas stayed with him
    longer than usual.One can only hope.Keep up the fine work Dave.
    Happy 2023 to all!

  • What large company in their right mind installs critical software without multiple iterations looking for failures. The capability of leaders in these organizations needs to be questioned and their bonuses, stock options, etc. be revoked for gross negligence. This is the second large company, that I know of this year, that has blamed poor software for their major failings to their customers. Vystar Credit Union this past year did the same thing costing their customers significantly in lost productivity and additional accounting hours. Cannot wait to read the payouts these executives receive for their ineptitude. Both companies should be looking for ways to reimburse their customers for this costly mistake. If not, some smart technology-savvy law firm should be pulling together class action lawsuits.

    • The real problem was bad management. The software was well tested. It was old and inadequate to the challenges of the airline as it grew. The problems were well known by the rank and file employees, but there pleas for better tools were ignored for years by the top management who came AirTran as a result of the acquisition. Gary Kelley and his top team were only interested in ROI. Employees and customers were just expenses to be controlled. Software and IT infrastructure in general, don’t have short-term ROI. Sad to see a company go from the top to the bottom needlessly.

  • Southwest airlines recent problems were a decade in building and started with the acquisition of AirTran Airways and the ascension of the AirTran executive management into the top positions at Southwest when Herb Kelleher and Colleen Barrett retired. The top management went from an employee and operations focused team to bean-counters and stock market watchers. I’m often amazed at how quickly and thoroughly bad management can take down an organization, but it is almost always a sure thing. Under Herb Kelleher, Southwest was a shining example of a management style that makes a company both successful and a place where it is a joy to work. Deb wrote about Southwest and their people in two of her books. Bob Jordan, a good, long-time Southwest employee, replaced Gary Kelley less than a year ago and I believe has what it takes to bring Southwest back, but it will take time.

    • Delta’s acquiring Pan Am did a different problem. Instead of Delta Pulling Pan Am up by the bootstraps, Pan am pulled delta down into bankruptcy a few years ago.

  • Sad that this has what Southwest has become. I fly with them four times a year, and have not had any issues to date.

  • Coleman Longshanks….. That wasn’t a&$ President Clinton was grabbing. I believe evidence suggests it was the other end of her body. However, you may have failed High Skool biology just like our most recent Supreme Court Justice. But you be you dude…. Don’t let reality get on your blue dress.

  • Jiles Perry Richardson. I don’t know if it was a typo, but the Big Bopper was J.P. Richardson. Perhaps it was confused with J.R. Richard (an ex-major league pitcher). Regardless, excellent blog as always.

  • Adding to comment from Messrs. Cavallo and Keogh (below): Although we all need water (preferably clean) to survive, this critical survival component has been used by the City Commission to conveniently defer difficult financial decisions (as an example, the money losing Golf Fund that enjoys those “loans” that are never fully repaid). A review of the City’s past Budgets and Audited Statements consistently indicate the City’s gross revenue is virtually split between property taxes and fees paid by users to the water fund (which includes a 25% surcharge paid by county residents.) When viewed from that perspective, the reliance on the water fund is pure exploitation, because (simply put) we all need clean water to survive. Sadly, the City has a history of electing commissions who don’t understand or have no interest in understanding the City’s financial position. Hopefully, this will change in the new year.

    • Christine:

      That’s what the City does with all its monopoly powers. They use them to extort their subjects. An essential utility service like water and sewer is managed as a supplemental tax and to coerce expansion of the City’s boundaries. That’s also how they manage their state-delegated impact fee authorities. Twice, Florida courts found they administed that authority unlawfully. How about building fees? The local Chamber found that building fees in the city run 550% of those charged literally across the street in the County. That’s just another unlawful tax. That’s why I call the place Shakedown City. It won’t change until the state intervenes to hold City officials accountable.

      • Let’s not pay anymore. If we all do it together they’ll have to make it into a big deal and then there will be accountability for how they waste our money and are trying to ruin our city by turning it from a fishing village into something that only the tourists who don’t live here want. Save bretts11111

  • You have it half wrong about baguettes my dear friend (said with my nose up in the air and looking down) the real French baguette, unparalleled in it crustiness, soft mie-de-pain and biscotte-crisp ridges, is good 24 hours after coming out of the oven. You must have lived near a bad boulangerie, or, they recognized you because of your accent, Ha Ha Ha!

  • Agree that it is time for ALL citizens to stop supporting lost leader enterprise funds with utility fee increases.. Also agree that the new email policy is cumbersome and sucks. Noticed that the NL no longer lists commissioner’s email. They must be in cahoots with city staff to restrict and redirect information flow through the new city website. It didn’t discourage me from communicating with new commissioners on the utilities sham.

  • I am sure his former bic-needer wife used similar words to describe attempting sex with clouf-booter Dave – still soft after 24 hours.

  • Overheard at PDJ’s: Outgoing Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said he fears for the future of the country if former President Donald Trump isn’t charged with a crime related to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. “If this is not a crime, I don’t know what is. If a president can incite an insurrection and not be held accountable, then really there’s no limit to what a president can do or can’t do.”

  • Welcome to the New Year and the most horrifying show on earth: Republican control of the U.S. House! Noted Trump bootlicker and now 8-time loser Kevin McCarthy is being taken for a ride by an extreme group of nihilists and hate mongers dead set on hijacking the People’s House for as long as they possibly can. McCarthy, who has consistently displayed a complete lack of integrity, self-respect, and intelligence prerequisite for leadership, absolutely deserves what he is getting—but the real losers are, as always when it comes to the MAGA activists, the American people.

    As long as the worst of the modern GOP is allowed to be in control, we are all held hostage by the likes of accused human trafficker Matt Gaetz, insurrectionists like Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, and, of course, complete idiots like Jim Jordan, Marjorie Green and Lauren Boebert.

    As for the “red wave” (more of a red tide) and the politically motivated election of fake Dr. Antun and equally unqualified firefighter Ayscue representing the “overwhelming” choice of the voters, the numbers simply don’t support same.

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