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’s Foaming-At-Mouth Reporting Aims at Poynter & Shoots Self in Foot Again

Shooting Yourself In The FootThe headline on the page 1 lead story in Wednesday’s, April 1 local News-Leader blared “Business, politics are mixing again” but nowhere in the story about local restaurateur and City Commissioner Tim Poynter’s plans to develop an “extended-stay” hotel in downtown Fernandina Beach was there a mention of how politics are playing a role.

The News-Leader publisher Foy Maloy and his lame-duck editor Michael Parnell for some reason have a personal vendetta against Mr. Poynter and the “news” pages of their paper are slanted to paint that distorted picture.

As a businessman is Mr. Poynter supposed to ignore any local economic opportunity he sees because he ran for and won a local political office that pays him about $12,000 a year? That works out to about $5.75 cents an hour. And don’t tell me these folks don’t put in 40 hour weeks as commissioners. Try being a commissioner and answering your phone day and night, dealing with constituent questions, attending late night and weekend meetings, workshops, etc. and say you don’t put in that many hours or more in addition to your regular job, if you have one. I don’t agree with some of the decisions made by these elected officials, but I can’t deny they put in long hours for a thankless job.

Poynter wants to purchase the former First Baptist Church education building on North Fifth Street, near Alachua and convert it into a 24-30 room extended stay hotel, just a few blocks from the Cafe Karibo and Timoti’s Seafood Shak restaurants on North 3rd Street, that he and his wife Theresa operate.

During my corporate career I stayed in a number of extended stay facilities in the US and Europe on the company’s dime during temporary assignments or while house hunting in a new community. I liked them and so did my family. A facility such as this would only bring more people downtown, generate additional spending, and improve the area despite what local nay sayers claim. One said it would “erode the integrity of the historic district….” Really? How? By improving it? I guess he would rather it stood empty and deteriorate.

Poynter may rub some people the wrong way because he is opinionated, often loud, and argumentative. But he is also very smart. I know him and like him. He’s got a wicked sense of humor, I enjoy debating with him and personally know that he is a very honest man with the best interests of his family and the community at heart. On this issue he told me: “My interest is investing in a sound opportunity to better myself, my family and the community.”

Maybe the News-Leader headline is about Poynter trying to dodge a financial bullet. He’s on a tight permit deadline because he’s trying to beat the May 15 date that impact fees for water and sewer will increase. He even said about beating the deadline that “anybody can do this up to May 15 and I want to go on record as saying that.”  He is 100 percent correct.

Look folks, you and I don’t want to pay more taxes or fees than we have to right? As April 15 approaches we do everything we can to legally avoid paying more taxes than necessary. So why should Poynter be any different just because he’s a city commissioner? He’s not breaking any laws and you and I would do exactly the same thing. So what the heck does the News-Leader’s headline mean?

On page 3A the paper published a sidebar story headlined “Neighbors opposed” that implied that Poynter may be getting “favorable treatment” from the city without any facts to back it up. Nothing! The story went on to say that “among allegations leveled against Poynter in his reelection campaign was that he used his city commission seat to attain special treatment in obtaining permits for expanding his restaurant complex…..”

What this pathetic newspaper failed to say was that it was its editor who made those allegations. And that they were false. Prevarication, denigration and paranoia have become the hallmarks of the News-Leader.

Also, one of those neighbors who the News Leader reports as opposed to Poynter’s plan and who the paper says has a concern that he is getting favorable treatment from the city is former commissioner Ron Sapp, a liberal Fernandina Beach High School teacher and regular opinion-editorial page contributor to the paper. It appears that a central component of the paper’s attacks is to recruit one of its lackey op-ed liberals to aid in making paranoid accusations based on its neurotic impulses.

When the News-Leader went after Poynter during the election late last year it came out of that fray with its “news nose” bloodied and looking downright stupid when it ran an above-the-fold front page story headlined “Restaurateur seeks commission ‘seat'” bylined by Parnell. What followed was a detailed piece about all the laws, permitting rules, and regulations that Poynter meticulously followed while opening and expanding his downtown eateries. In a vain attempt to discredit the candidate, Parnell tried his best to portray him as someone who took advantage of his commission seat to get around the various permitting and regulations. He came up empty handed and looking as foolish as the paper has again this time.

From what I’ve heard on the street, it was that sleazy, transparent and baseless attack that pushed Poynter over the top in the election, the exact opposite of what the paper intended.

The News-Leader didn’t have much direction before Parnell announced his upcoming retirement and at this point it’s upside down in a ditch. I wonder what the new editor’s performance plan will include when it comes to covering the city commission, particularly in light of Publisher Foy Maloy’s irrational dislike of Commissioner Poynter.

Whatever credibility this newspaper had left, it just flushed down Public Utility Director John Mandrick’s illegal impact fee sewer line.


Speaking Of Illegal Impact Fees: The most coherent piece published in this past Wednesday’s News-Leader was a Viewpoint opinion-editorial (Fees neither lawful nor fair) by local businessman, investor and lawyer Pat Keogh that ripped City Manager Joe Gerrity’s defense of the city’s “capacity fees,” to shreds. Not only does Mr. Keogh destroy Gerrity’s argument about the reason for these fees, he also rightfully blasts the city’s current effort to refund money based on its prior illegal impact fees saying: “If I ever managed trust funds the way the city manages its trust funds I would have been disbarred.”  What we appear to have here is former mayor Joe Gerrity directing an illegal scheme to pay for an overpriced water utility (FPU) and sending his not too subtle enforcer Public Utilities Director John Mandrick out to strong arm local businesses into paying or be shutdown. I think there’s a movie in here somewhere.


What Makes A Person A Celebrity? The other day I was walking though the back garden patio of the downtown Florida House when an acquaintance approached me saying: “Dave, there’s a celebrity inside.” I asked “who” and she said, “Tim Deegan.” I said the name was somewhat familiar but that I wasn’t sure who Tim Deegan is and was told that he’s the veteran meteorologist on Jacksonville’s First Coast News (WTLV TV-12 and WJXX TV-25). I’m sure that being the weatherman on a local TV station for the past 33 years is an admirable profession and he’s become a familiar face to many, so I guess that makes him a celebrity if you define  “celebrity” as a person who is well known for a variety of reasons, good or bad. That got me to thinking that we have a lot of local folks who fit that definition, and following is a list of locals that I think fall into the “good” celebrity category:  Most of us know Pajamadave Voorhees, a likeable, fun boat captain turned shop keeper entrepreneur who makes us smile and laugh out loud. Or Crystal Foster, Pashence Marie, and Heidi Grexa, congenial and incredibly sexy Amelia Island Hospitality Group employees who always offer a smile and a friendly “hello” along with a cold beer. Or Choo Choo Germano, the amicable, generous and jovial owner of the downtown Crab Trap, the past 25 years; Laura DiBella, the personable, pretty and energetic Director of the Nassau County Board of Economic Development who is working overtime to attract more economic growth to our area; anyone courageous and thick skinned enough to run for the  Fernandina Beach City Commission; Felix Jones, local peddler of pineapples, Cracker Jacks and his mama’s cookies who can also belt out blues tunes on his harmonica; T-Ray Mullis who can cook breakfast and burgers and still carry on a conversation with his T-Ray’s Burger Station lunch counter regulars; Mark Keller, manager and pizza maker at Tony’s New York Style Brick Oven Pizzeria next to Publix, who makes the difficult task of twirling dough look easy; Charlie Taylor, Atlantic Seafood fish monger who never seems to have a bad day; Dan Voll, local guitarist and singer with a salt-life style so cool and unique he’s constantly in demand despite hailing from some desolate Godforsaken northern wasteland; piano man John Springer, our tuxedo clad, legendary pianist who knows more songs than most of us know song titles, who has played for presidents and royalty; George Morris, Flying Fish jet ski owner and naturalist who can guide folks through area marshes and coves blindfolded; Kevin McCarthy, who heads up the Amelia River Cruises and can recite the history of the area in a manner so intriguing you don’t want him to stop talking; Philippe Boets, affable Belgian-born resident who introduced the island to the peculiar sport of petanque creating the largest club of its kind in the country; Ricky Pigg, owner of Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro eatery who looks more like a professional wrestler than a gourmet chef; Charlie Freeman, retired AT&T employee and expert fisherman who lives aboard his Tiger Point Marina based-boat named “No Dial Tone;” Mary Gorman, the pretty pistol-packing mama, who went from a CPA to owner of firing range and gun shop Second Amendment Outfitters, upon the tragic and sudden death of his husband Mike almost two years ago; the gregarious Barb Kent, retired US Navy officer and owner of three area consignment Buy Gones locations, who, if you mention the word “party” will instantly throw one; Bob Tidball, the quirky Canadian-born owner of the Addison House B&B who can be found at certain times of the day having a PBR at the Palace or Green Turtle with his dog Maggie seated on the stool next to him; lawyer Clinch Kavanaugh, a seventh generation island resident who is a refreshing thorn in the side of the local city government;  The businessman trio of Ernie Saltmarsh, Don Shaw and George Sheffield who have quietly done more good for this community through their restoration, acquisition and investment efforts that any other group of people I could name; Cal Atwood, retired university educator who fought across Iwo Jima as a US Marine in 1945 and today is a guy you always want to join you for a cold one or lunch; Patrick Keogh, suave, outspoken entrepreneur, businessman, lawyer and investor whose straight talking makes nervous city officials shudder; Mrs. Joan Bean, who has been providing dance lessons from her downtown North 3rd Street location for more than 60 years, the mother of State Senator Aaron Bean, and a lady who could probably be just as successful as a stand-up comedienne.  There are many I failed to list but will at a later date and please let me know what local you think deserves a shout out.


Got Old Man Rhythm In Your Shoes? Then as the popular song written many years ago says: “it’s no use sittin’ here singin’ the blues, so be my guest, you got nothin’ to lose, won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise?” And that’s exactly what Amelia River Cruises is getting ready to do as it announced its lineup of popular live-music sunset adult BYOB two-hour outings from the downtown Fernandina Beach Harbor piloted by eccentric and funny captain Pajamadave Voorhees. These fun cruises are conducted every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:30-8:30 in April with local musicians playing aboard each. Bring whatever you want to drink and eat and sit back and enjoy the music and salt air, dolphins, exotic birds, and more. To book a reservation call ’em at 904/261-9972, go to or visit them at the little white kiosk at 1 North Front St. Special Easter and Shrimp Festival excursions are also listed. These are lots of fun and fill up fast folks so book early to reserve your “sea cruise.”


Things I wish I’d said: “Hillary Clinton, like Paris Hilton, Nancy Pelosi and Kim Kardashian, is one of those females who is famous for nothing. Nothing, that is, aside from marrying Bill Clinton, from which her entire political career derives.”– Burt Prelutsky.


 More Things I Wish I’d Said And So Does Burt: “Jonah Goldberg delivered a classic critique of Hillary Clinton’s speeches I wish I could claim as my own: ‘I am woman, hear me bore.’ ” Burt Prelutsky


Illinois’ Shame: In my opinion one of the creepiest and nastiest people anywhere in Washington, D.C. next to Harry Reid (D-NV) is US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) who recently said that the reason the confirmation of Loretta Lynch — Obama’s choice to head up the Department of Justice — is going so slow is because senate Republicans are racists who are reluctant to see the first black woman installed as Attorney General. Really? I wonder why Senator Durbin voted against confirming Condoleezza Rice as the first black female Secretary of State under George W. Bush? Was it because she was black? Or perhaps because she was a black Republican woman? This is the same Dick Durbin who compared Americans running the Guantanamo prison to Nazis, Soviets and the Khmer Rouge. Durbin is a slimy, bigoted, hypocrite and the people of Illinois should be ashamed that he is their representative. But, he is just one of that failed state’s many problems.

  • Comment (4)
  • Dave, your comments about the impact fees are on the money. What is generally missing in commentary though is the 25% surcharge for unincorporated user properties added onto the base sewer and water rates after the City purchased the water utility from FPU.
    Gerrity schemed to pay for this overpriced purchase partly on unincorporated county residents and partly on user fees. All this while he proclaimed the purchase would pay for itself without raising fees, for 3 years, on City residents. The County Commission notified the City by way of resolution it believed any surcharge was not within the spirit of the law which allowed the imposition of surcharges in some cases which Gerrity et al extended to this situation.
    To initiate this fiasco, Gerrity and his cohorts end ran the public by issuing revenue bonds to purchase the utility rather than general obligation bonds. An approval vote of the citizens was needed for general obligation bonds, while revenue bonds did not. Without public oversight, the die was cast.
    Gerrity’s plan was the utility would be a money maker for the city. Given they took an income tax and dividend paying entity and turned it into a government owned non tax or dividend paying entity, one would think scheme had merit as a rate structure approved by the PUC was in effect and supported a reasonable rate of return for the private owner. Of course, the plan did not take into consideration how ridicules the purchase price was and hence the need for surcharges and fees became a way to pay for it.

  • Dave, you are 100% right about the extended stay hotel issue Tim is a business man and is just doing business. He knows he will be under the looking glass with this project and he knows he must cross every ” T ” and dot every ” I ” as half the free world will be watching him to see if he slips up. Like his politics or not, the man and his wife has brought two very successful and well run business to downtown. If anyone is in doubt how he will fix up and keep up this building, just look at the improvements he has made on his downtown buildings.

  • Dave, you are my favorite local celebrity! Please never stop blogging, this town needs you. And please let me know where you got that graphic — I might need to borrow it from you!


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