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 Editorial Pages A Laugh Riot; But Not In The Way Its Editor Intended

The dreadful opinion page columnists on the pages of the local bi-weekly News-Leader newspaper are like balloons in a swimming pool. As soon as you think you have one pushed under water another one pops up.

Ron “Get off my lawn you little bastards” Sapp the crusty liberal curmudgeon, who has been wasting space in the local paper for a number of years, wrote recently that he’s done. He’s out of gas. He admitted in his farewell piece that his whining, wringing of hands, and gnashing of liberal teeth hasn’t accomplished a darn thing in all those years. So rather than waste more ink he’s throwing in the towel. This former City Commissioner and retired local high school reeducation camp instructor understands very well city and county government and how it operates. Unfortunately he wants a local form of that government that follows the economic model outlined by Karl Marx in “Das Kapital.” I’d be surprised if readers will miss this humorless, misguided liberal killjoy.

In the same issue as Mr. Sapp’s farewell the paper’s Editor Peg Davis tells her readers that Joe Palmer will be returning. So they’re filling the void left by a totally humorless scribe with one who has to tell readers he’s humorous, but isn’t. And if readers don’t agree with self-proclaimed “southern humorist” Palmer he’ll tell them they’re “stupid”,  “bigots” or “rubes.”

In one of his past columns urging the government to take in more middle eastern refugees he asked readers: “Do you see a pattern here? You’re stupid if you don’t.”

A couple of years ago following the Shrimp Festival Parade that included a cowboy cracking a bull whip, Palmer declared in his column that whips are “symbols of slavery and bigotry equal to burning crosses, Ku Klux Klan night riders, etc.” and referred to the paper’s readers that disagreed with him as “local bigots” and “rubes.”

Palmer’s an angry left-wing crank and his columns are an embarrassment to a newspaper that has no shame. His favorite topics are Joe Palmer, his dog, and attacking readers who disagree with him. He once referred to those who oppose his views on the U.S. relocation of Syrians as “…demagogues, racists, fear mongers, and crazed nativists screaming bloody murder for Lady Liberty to give the finger to foreign refugees fleeing death, etc…..”

He referred to Donald Trump as “a liar, con man, a racist and above all else, a thoroughly despicable human being.” If you voted for Trump he doesn’t think much of you either saying: “Many of his churlish disciples are violent people” and added that Trump: “… not the legitimate face of America but its filthy opposite end.” And all of this was before Trump won the presidency, so I’m sure the paper’s readers can expect much more of this side-splitting hilarity in the future.

In her editorial comments Editor Peg Davis claims this guy is funny. She must have laughed herself silly watching “Schindler’s List” and reading “Of Mice and Men.”

But if Palmer’s “sense of humor” isn’t enough to chase subscribers and advertisers away, it gets worse. The paper occasionally prints incoherent screeds from one of the island’s angriest and most confused residents, Robert “Bullet Bob” Weintraub.

This is a guy who writes about the city commission and federal taxes but doesn’t have a clue how any of it works. In a jumbled rant last December Weintraub attacked the city commission for passing ordinances it didn’t pass but only discussed. His latest screed criticizes President Trump’s proposed tax cuts as aiding only the wealthy, and repeats nothing but worn out left-wing talking points, totally missing the point that the tax cuts are aimed at allowing middle class Americans to keep more of what they earn in a way that  simplifies filing.  This pompous gasbag offers News-Leader readers only incoherence, liberal obsessions, and obliviousness.

Full disclosure here: When he spotted our celebratory Trump yard sign following the election last November, then next-door neighbor Weintraub came completely unglued and launched vicious public threats against me and wife, Linda, on Facebook writing: “To my Trumpic bigoted and anti-Semitic neighbors, there is a Jewish motto — ‘NEVER AGAIN’ — so don’t think you can intimidate me with your signs. My rifle and shotgun are loaded and I will be getting a handgun at tomorrow’s sales. I’ll be waiting for you and your ‘brown shirts.” When I responded to his comments saying they were frightening he followed up with another post saying: “Dave Scott you voted for a man who supports the American Nazi Party and the KKK. Trump supporters have been openly anti-Semitic. What else am I to think? You are the frightening one, Dave Scott, and I am ready for you and your friends.” His hysterical and threatening Facebook threats were serious enough to warrant a visit to him by the local police department.

Does Editor Davis think this guy will have her subscribers laughing so hard they’ll cry too? Fortunately for us, and our neighbors, this dangerous and unhinged man, who claims he is armed to the teeth and says he intends to use his guns against us, packed up his arsenal and moved recently to terrorize unsuspecting folks in a different neighborhood.

The only reason I can think that the News-Leader provides this sad and pathetic person a forum is that it condones his nutty and harrowing behavior and endorses the nonsense in his irrational word jumbles.

From what I am told these editorial scribblers are not compensated for the drivel they contribute so the News-Leader is getting what it pays for. I have trouble believing that the paper is picking up subscribers or advertisers because folks are eager to read the disjointed angry rants of the motley Palmer-Weintraub duo.

The best writers on that paper are local zoologist Pat Foster-Turley, financial adviser Steve Nicklas, and expert angler and charter boat captain Terry Lacoss, all three excellent writers who respect their readers and write with a flair and style that keep folks entertained. They all have something to say and do so very well.

However, this newspaper is so out of touch with the majority of moderate and conservative residents in its circulation area that it’s not only in the ditch, it’s upside down and on fire with its wheels spinning futilely.

With the mess that poses as an opinion page, an editor that thinks Freddy Krueger is a stand-up comedian, and a publisher who makes the Daily Planet’s Jimmy Olsen look like a Pulitzer Prize winner, it’s little wonder why the online Fernandina Observer is cleaning the News-Leader’s clock and rapidly picking off its subscribers and advertisers.


Speaking of Newspapers: I really like the Wall Street Journal. I find the news pages mostly free of bias and opinion, the financial section the best anywhere, the feature articles interesting and extremely well written, and enjoy the right leaning editorial pages.

The Saturday/Sunday edition contains a special “Review” section that includes book, music, film, stage and art critiques, humor columns, science features, puzzles, and more. I keep it on my nightstand and try to make it last until the next one is tossed in my driveway the next Saturday morning.

That same delicious weekend paper also contains a section called “Off Duty” that focuses on fashion, food, drinking, travel and style, etc. I quickly speed through this section of the paper for a couple of reasons: One, I can’t afford anything the fashion editors review and even if I could I wouldn’t wear it. Secondly, the restaurants they review are never within 200 miles of Amelia Island and the ingredients in most of the recipes require a passport to obtain.

Absolutely Fabulous’ Patsy & Edina

Last Saturday the folks that put together the fashion pages featured a picture of a homeless guy wearing a pair of rumpled purple shorts that cost $375. In the picture next to him was another disheveled unshaven fellow sporting a pair of too short pinkish-colored pants that would set you back $595. These guys may not actually be homeless, but if they’re dim enough to pay that kind of money for these outfits, they soon will be.

On the next page, I chuckled at the photos as I was sure the entire spread of women’s clothing was a spoof. It pictured clothes that I’m not sure even the outrageous Patsy Stone and Edina Monsoon, characters in the BBC comedy “Absolutely Fabulous”, would wear and can be summed up by one of Edina’ s Ab Fab lines: “Why does everything you wear look like it’s bearing a grudge.”


Speaking Of Reviews: Nan Kavanaugh, the very talented daughter of local attorney, Clinch, and wife of 29 South restaurateur and chef Scotty Schwartz, is editor of the classy, very impressive and award-winning “First Coast Magazine”, which also publishes an annual “Staycation Guide” highlighting restaurants, bars, sporting and theatrical sites, etc. in the First Coast area. The most recent “Staycation” issue provides brief summaries of a variety of eateries, B&Bs, hotels, music venues and other activities that can be had on Amelia Island and other nearby communities. But the Amelia Island titled “Play Time” section made me suspect that its author, Rebecca E. Parsons, did her research without leaving the house, and that Nan slipped badly in her editing duties for that section. Ms. Parsons’ initial restaurant mention was of the iconic South 8th Street T-Rays. She said: “Father-and-son team Big Ray and T-Ray Mullis run the eatery from a gas station on Amelia Island.” Big Ray Mullis passed away about two years ago and the site is not a gas station, but was one decades ago. In the Florida House review she tells readers to enjoy the “boarding-house style lunch at Leddy’s Porch.” The boarding house style lunch hasn’t been served there for at least 10 years, some two owners ago, and she failed to mention Chef Matt Kennedy’s signature buttermilk fried chicken, fabulous weekend brunches and the Wednesday through Sunday lunches now being served there. She also tells folks to check out Sheffields, which hasn’t been open for months and is currently being converted into a wine bar called The Decantery. She writes that people can rent bikes from Pipeline Surf Shop that closed more than two years ago. She describes the Green Turtle as a beer joint, not mentioning that it has a full bar. She calls Gilberts the best BBQ on the island and not once mentions South 3rd Street’s Happy Tomato, which IS the best. The magazine’s bio of Ms. Parsons says she lives on Amelia Island. I don’t think she gets out much.


More Editorial Silliness: Just when you thought the left wing media couldn’t get any nuttier it does. Following the Trump administration’s launch of missiles into Syria, a move applauded by both sides, loopy Editor Clara Jeffrey, who oversees the far left “Mother Jones”, tweeted: “That the missiles are called Tomahawks must enrage a lot of Native Americans.” According to “National Review” magazine that encouraged a popular Native American columnist to respond saying: “Throwing tomahawks and attacking with Apache helicopters reflects a reality that American Indians always volunteer to fight this country’s wars.” Even her fellow leftists scolded her, adding that a white graduate of Sidwell Friends has no business telling Indians what to get riled up about. Cranky Senator Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren (D-MA) isn’t this dim.


And Even More Editorial Silliness: The Amelia Island News-Wrecker is here and is now available at local bars, restaurants and certain shops that have little or no taste in what they make available to their customers. The paper is free, reflecting the value of the material it contains, and the latest issue contains absolutely nothing of value with the exception of the material in the ads by firms and organizations that were foolish enough to purchase space in it. The latest issue takes a strong editorial stance against “fake news” and in an alarming front page expose alerts residents to the federal government’s heretofore unknown plans to make Amelia Island the major site for disposing of the country’s nuclear waste. A color version will be soon be online and I’ll post the date it’ll be available here.


And More Newspaper Silliness: The late Blackie Sherrod, one of my favorite sports columnists of all time who wrote for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Dallas Times-Herald and the Dallas Morning-News, penned what I think is one of the funniest lines on a sports page saying about a young quarterback starting his first college game: “Dropping back to pass he looked as nervous as an alligator in a purse factory.” My second favorite line is by the late Atlanta Constitution Sports Editor Jesse Outlar, who when writing about the National Basketball Association whose season seems to run year-around, said: “If the NBA had been in charge of World War II, Germany and Japan would still be in the running.”


Hold My Beer And Watch This Department: The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that the final words of 89.3% of drivers in fatal car crashes in Texas were “Hold my beer and watch this.” Not really, but according to Wall Street Journal columnist Ben Zimmer that’s one of the many versions of the HMB jokes floating around on the Internet.


Good News & Bad News Department: If you’re selling a house hereabouts you’ve picked the right time to put it on the market as rising mortgage costs and home prices, and a 20-year low inventory has made it one of the hottest sellers markets in years. According to real estate site Redfin, houses are selling an average of eight days faster than last year and Nassau County is one of the hottest markets on the First Coast. The bad news is for those who are looking to buy for the same reasons.


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Hey, it’s Shrimp Festival. Enjoy the fact you live here and don’t have to worry about snagging a hotel room. If you don’t live here too bad for you. And if you do make it downtown you’re in luck as Wednesday evening was the soft opening of PFD’s Beer & Wine Garden, the much awaited tavern operated by local character Pajamadave Voorhees and his sexy blonde fiancé Zan Maddox at 12 South 2nd Street and if Thursday evening was an indication, this is the place to be to meet old friends, greet new ones, and have a reasonably priced brew. But, don’t even think about sitting in my chair. Oh, if you’re going to be downtown Fernandina tomorrow, Saturday, May 6,  stop by the Florida House Mermaid Bar to watch the Kentucky Derby on TV with post time at 6:34 pm for the 20 horses in the biggest race they’ve ever run and from what I’ve heard an opportunity to pick a horse’s name at random and win $200.

  • Comment (13)
  • After the parade last night I went to Pajama Dave’s beer and wine garden. I was glad to see that it was packed and that there were THREE, yes that’s right, THREE outstanding IPAs to choose from. Good job Zan and Dave. I also picked up a copy of the News Wrecker and was pleased to see that it is just as good as the first two editions. Gotta love Shrimp Fest!

  • Couldn’t agree more about Ron Sapp and Joe Palmer,they are really obnoxious and opinionated. When Palmer started writing for the paper,he mainly wrote about his family and dogs. Especially his mother and her southern cooking and child rearing expertise.Went down hill from there though.Sapp never saw good day in his life and enjoyed telling us about it.

  • Well I am going to miss Ron Sapps columns. I do not agree with your characterization of him. I think his views are usually well thought out and valid. His hope for the island was that it remained a charming small town and family oriented place. One that is not overwhelmed by tourism to the point it ceases to become a “real town” A place where we did not simply open the flood gates to unmitigated development but that we put some thought behind how much more the people of this island really want and need. I know these things contradict much of your views but I am on Ron’s side on this. It is understandable he is frustrated and discouraged, it is hard to stop the train when it is full of cash. I would like to point out to Ron that while it may seem like you were not accomplishing any of your goals you were presenting a legitimate alternative view. One that needs to be put out there, that people need to think about. That in of itself is important and I think losing Ron’s voice in the end will be a detriment to the island.

    While I may or may not agree with your opinion on these other column writers your personal attacks and malevolence towards these folks is simply over top. Honestly Dave, do you do this just to bait people and get reactions? You’re the guy that ends up sounding hateful and childish. I don’t get it. I seem to remember when you wrote the column in the News Leader they told you to stop writing as they had so many people complaining saying they were going to cancel their subscriptions. Anyway, here is my thought, stick with what your good at, entertainment news. What is the point of running down other people on the island? It doesn’t serve you well.

  • Love your stuff, Dave. Look forward to Friday morning almost as much as Peggy Noonan in the Saturday WSJ.

    Ron Sapp seemed to have a good reputation as an educator. What I could never understand about him was his rigidly binary view of the world. He seemed to cast everything in terms of an idyllic Hometown (old Fernandina) vs Boomtown (places like South Florida and Key West). Without a prosperous and growing economy how did he expect his Hometown to retain his most gifted and ambitious young people? His view seemed to consign the products of his education efforts to migrate to places like Atlanta, Washington and New York to create their families and build a prosperous future. Bob Weintraub always struck me as a retiree who simply wanted everything to stay exactly the way things were the Wednesday he and the Mrs. decided to move to Fernandina. That’s a prescription for the folks with the get up and go getting up and going. That’s not the way to build a vibrant economy and community. There’s a lot of room between Hometown and Boomtown and neither Mssrs Sapp or Weintraub seemed to want to consider that.

  • “Oh, if you’re going to be downtown Fernandina tomorrow, Saturday, May 5….” Uh, Dave, the last calendar I looked at said Saturday is May 6 🙂

  • Blackie and Jesse, two of the great ones. And don’t forget that memorable line from Jim Murray on the Indy 500, when fatalities were common: “Gentlemen, start your coffins.”

  • Dave, It appears that since you learned your favorite childhood network now has a few openings, that you may have a shot. Your ranting and misunderstanding of facts could land you an anchor spot easily.
    To start with Ron Sap has dedicated his life to educating the kids here in Fernandina Beach, both in the classroom and on the athletic field. He has put up with more real life issues than most of us can imagine and has helped and inspired many students to think about issues in many challenging ways . He has had the courage to step up to public service year after year. No one in that position is going to make every call right. No one in that position is going to make everyone a friend, Both Ron and his family have contributed a lot and should be thanked for their sacrifices and not ridiculed. That being said, lets move on to your rant about Joe Palmer. You mentioned that he thought President Trump was a liar, con man, and racist. Dave, those actually are all true and provable facts. You may love the guy to death, but the facts are still the facts. The man won fair and square and for the sake of the world I hope he succeeds. With respect to his calling President Trump a despicable human being, that is actually up for interpretation. Love your rantings, but those who have contributed so much to this community deserve better, and the facts still are the facts. Oh and still awaiting our beer.

  • Great blog yesterday, Dave, I really enjoyed it. So true about all the dour, doom &a gloom editorials in the News-Leader. However, you must admit you fit the crusty curmudgeon profile with the best of ’em. But at least you’re a fun crusty curmudgeon, well, most of the time. Since you warned everyone off Your Chair at PFD’s I just had to go by there this morning and try it out. It’s a great seat in a perfect location. Like Sheldon Cooper’s sofa seat. The beer selection is great and they have some really good wines. They should do well with their excellent location and fun atmosphere. While I was there, I picked up a couple of News Wreckers for the bathroom. See you there.

  • You continue to berate the people in this community, that try to make a positive contribution in a civic way to this Island. Dave, have you ever tried to contribute anything positive to any City/Town you’ve ever lived in.? You seem to always target folks who want to give back to this City, because they understand how fortunate they are to be able to call this Island Home. We need more citizens like Bob Weintraub, Joe Palmer. and Johnny Miller. and less of this Sniping Journalism.

  • I looked up “liberal” in the dictionary. The definition includes: “advocating freedom of the individual and governmental guarantees of individual rights and liberties”, “favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief”, “free from prejudice and bigotry”, “tolerant”, “open-minded.” I like those qualities. Though I have no doubt you will continue to denigrate me and the governmental policies I advocate – through mockery, not facts – I’m holding onto them. You can thank me later.


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