Island Issues

News Leader’s Editorial Pages Taken Over By The Far Left; Fernandina Forces Hillbilly Hotdogs To Move Out Of Town

News Leader’s Editorial Pages Taken Over By The Far Left; Fernandina Forces Hillbilly Hotdogs To Move Out Of Town

When someone at the Fernandina News Leader shouted: “Take out the garbage!” instead of hauling it to the curb Editor Tracy Dishman shoveled it all onto the paper’s Wednesday, September 15 Opinion page.

“These guys will drive our rationale readers and advertisers nuts…what fun!”

Two of the guilty litterers are a pair of far-left New Yorkers via Florida and back, Chuck Oliva, and Mark Tomes. They’ve apparently been selected by the News Leader’s tone deaf Editor Dishman, to replace admitted local socialist Ron Sapp. Sapp announced his last column a few weeks ago due to health issues.

I rarely, if ever, agreed with Mr. Sapp, and wish him well. But surely the paper could have done better than these two whose far-left tropes track the impotent rage of small children on a playground.

Even the lone letter to the editor on the page was penned by a rabid anti-development local, Samuel Jefferson Kennard, who compared parishioners at the Amelia Baptist Church to Godzilla stomping on hapless Japanese citizens while flattening Tokyo. The church wants to sell some of its property and that’s driving Kennard nuts. He advocates what an area builder told me a while back was “civic abortion,” the process of killing projects before they even have a chance to be presented for official consideration.

The News Leader’s annual subscription fee is only $49. Subscribers deserve better as that’s the cost of two decent cases of beer or 30 cases of the dusty, discounted, despised Bud Light these days. Bud Light would be easier to swallow than the Tomes/Oliva tripe.

“These editorials are hilarious.”

Let’s start with Tomes, whose cause is abortion. To him 1.4 million aborted babies in America every year is cause for celebration.

Tomes writes like a guy who would be comfortable taking his daughter to the office during “take your kid to work day” at an abortion clinic. His sole objective appears to be the right for women to have sex with men they don’t want to have children with.

His rambling confusing word jumble is hard to follow except for his one premise. He argues that an unborn child is not “a person” until birth. “Before then,” he writes, “it is a  philosophical or religious determination.”

Readers have to slog through a murky sea of gibberish before Tomes comes completely clean. He aims his far-left scatter gun at all conservative judges, Florida’s Supreme Court, and Florida’s six week abortion ban. He failed to mention that the state’s current ban includes exceptions for rape, incest, human trafficking, and the life and health of the mother. It cannot take effect until the Florida Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the 15-week ban that is currently in place. Tomes doesn’t want that to happen, ever.

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe versus Wade the single most important issue for Democrats and far-left guys like Tomes is abortion. It’s not rampant crime, the wide-open border, the drug epidemic, failing schools and militant teachers unions, Islamic terrorism, Biden’s mental and physical decline, the myth of climate change, the war in Ukraine, etc. Nope! These fanatical far-left libs treat abortion the way Muslims treat Mohammed. It’s sacred.

Partial birth abortion (e.g. baby killing) is never mentioned by people like Tomes otherwise their audiences would be repelled. Instead they spout a load of pablum such as “reproductive rights,” “freedom of choice,” “access to health care,” and other such blather they call “choice.” Partial birth abortion or abortion at nine months is the same to these people as “causal Fridays,” certainly not an overt act of murdering a living child by sucking his or her brains out.

What about folks who actively oppose abortion? A Washington, D.C. jury last Friday convicted three defendants – two over 70 – who blocked an abortion clinic. They face up to 11 years in prison and a fine of $350,000. Yet Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters walk free despite burning down buildings, maiming bystanders, tossing Molotov cocktails, looting stores, etc. That isn’t important to the left. To them the most important value is destroying human life.

If you threw a glass of water on Tomes in the middle of the night, he’d leap up denouncing prolife religious folks.

I defy anyone to read this guy’s “Abortion privacy and religious freedom” headlined commentary and not cringe. There is a reason the Tomes photo shows him disguised in a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sporting a mustache and goatee. If I were him I wouldn’t want to be recognized in public either.

This brings us to Oliva’s piece headlined “Deep state, you’re fired!” which could have been labeled parody but falls exceedingly short in the humor department. This guy means it. If you get into a one-on-one debate with this snarling far-left scribbler you’ll need a whip and a chair. With Oliva it’s always Bambi versus Hitler.                      .

Oliva proudly admits that he is an enthusiastic fan and supporter of all the faceless, lying, unelected, and unaccountable bureaucrats otherwise known as the “Deep State” that pillage and plunder our communities and scam the citizenry while simultaneously looting the American treasury. While GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy says if elected he would fire 75 percent of them, Oliva wants to stock the D.C. swamp with even more of these tax dollar gobbling government reptiles.

Oliva declared that his Wednesday, September 15th column’s objective was to: “…take a moment to praise the hard-working members of the administrative state for the stability and continuity that they provide our government.” Yeh! I had to read it twice too.

He then went on for a number of mind-numbing paragraphs to attempt to do exactly that while concurrently attacking Donald Trump, Trump’s former cabinet members, the Heritage Foundation, and the Sisters of Charity.

OK, he didn’t mention the Sisters of Charity in his “We’re better than you are tantrum” but it was only because he was so busy praising all the Washington D.C. based government sociopaths who are pushing the envelope of human depravity while picking our pockets.

On a side note have you ever noticed that while left-wingers go absolutely nuts at the mention of God in a public school, at a football game or any other public place, they go out of their way to ensure that the Muslim terrorists in Guantanamo or elsewhere must be free to practice their religion and have access to a Koran. While I had your attention I thought I’d just throw that out there.

But back to Oliva whose message was clear: He doesn’t care about American’s safety, jobs or culture and is perfectly content, even enthusiastic, to let thousands of faceless unaccountable bureaucrats continue the process of remaking America.

After reading these two pieces of far-left codswallop I’m convinced that Tomes’ and Olivia’s default arguments are to throw food as their opinion pieces display greater similarity to psychological disorders than convincing arguments.

Oliva, who obviously wants to ensure that future generations of Americans are personally introduced to poverty and misery, apparently doesn’t want to be recognized in public either as he is pictured with a full beard, wearing a wrinkled t-shirt, while his eyes avoid the camera, as he stares down at his shoes.

This far-left duo make Pennsylvania’s Democrat Senator John Fetterman appear well-dressed and they both write like Fetterman speaks.

Does publisher Foy Maloy know what a chaotic mess his editor is making of his newspaper’s opinion page or has he, like many others, stopped reading it?


Hillbilly Hotdogs Hitting the road for a new location.

Hillbilly Hotdogs Hotfooting It: Well, Fernandina Beach finally did it. It forced entrepreneur Colleen Angel to relocate her successful and popular South 8th Street Hillbilly Hot Dog eatery out of town and into the county.

Fortunately the enterprising Miss Angel doesn’t have to move far. The city descended on her several days ago with an intrusive contingent of grim-faced code enforcement and fire marshal employees poking through cabinets, behind counters, and into closets before demanding she cough up more than $10,000 in impact/capacity fees. After that she decided to hightail it down the street to the business friendly and welcoming business-friendly confines of Nassau County.

Colleen says the seats used by her hot dog eating customers were for sale and not permanent. However, they were somewhat pricy with the benches going for up to $4,000.

When I asked city Code Enforcement Director Michelle Forstrom about the issue I was told that the orders to enforce the capacity/impact penalty on Ms. Angel was given to her by a trio of city officials that included the Utilities Director, the acting City Manager, and the City Attorney. When I asked her if a local furniture store sold hotdogs and customers sat in the store’s chairs, sofas, etc., if it would be hit with capacity/impact fees too, she responded in the affirmative saying: “It’s only fair to treat every establishment equally.”

A lot of folks question if anything about this entire episode is fair, but Ms. Forstrom is doing what’s she’s told to do by the folks that make the rules hereabouts. Don’t like the rules? Then contact the city commissioners and tell them. However, don’t call Commissioner Chip Ross. If you don’t like it he’ll probably love it.

Effective October 1, Ms. Angel, the industrious single mother of two teenage girls, will vacate the 401 South 8th Street location in Fernandina Beach and relocate to Nassau County near her modestly named “Amelia’s Best Barber Shop” at 1951 South 8th Street, about a mile and a half down the road. Call her at  904/540-9109 for a haircut or a hot dog or both. She also runs a popular Ghost Tour business.


Wait! What? The lead story on Page 1 of the Monday, September 18 Wall Street Journal headlined “Student Loan Restart To Pinch Spending” warns that American consumers will be “squeezed” when  student loan payments restart October 1.

Deadbeat borrowers who thought they’d get a covid reprieve because of braindead President Biden’s attempt to buy votes were caught by surprise, thankfully, as I and most American taxpayers don’t want to get stuck with these freeloader’s worthless liberal arts degree tabs.

Since when did it become front page news in the WSJ that people who borrow money are obligated to pay it back?

The stupid “news” article reports that folks that borrowed money to attend college will now have to start once again “paying $200-$300” a month to settle up on their loans. The two brain dead WSJ writers lamented that these debtors will no longer have enough money to buy new cell phones, TVs, vacations, etc.

OK, so what’s the news angle here? This is like writing that folks who took out a mortgage will have to pay for their houses instead of eating out every night, flying first class, or buying a Tesla and stiffing the taxpayers. Yeh, folks that’s how it works, or at least how it’s supposed to work.


Speaking Of Revealing News: An article in the Thursday, September 21 Wall Street Journal Business & Finance section said that beer brewer AB InBev will stop cutting off the tails of the Clydesdale horses that haul its beer wagons around in ceremonial events. I guess that will make it easier for the public to get a closeup view of the marketing folks that tanked its Bud Light brand.


“Good grief! I don’t mind paying taxes but I don’t want to buy the entire school.”

I Apologize: One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made writing this column the past 13 years was to endorse Kathy Burns for election as Nassau County School Superintendent. I can’t think of one single thing she has done to benefit either students, their parents, or the community, just the opposite.

When I’ve called her to ask a question I have only once received a response, and that was when she hissed: “I feel like you’re attacking me”. That’s when I questioned her about the number of illegal immigrant kids in our schools, the cost to the tax payer, and how many English-as-a-second-language teachers the system has hired because of illegal immigration. I still don’t have answers to those questions.

The latest Burns’ deception is reflected in our new tax bills. Her attempts to deflect her responsibility for obscuring the results of the massive increase in our taxes and her obfuscation were made very apparent by an honest and open Nassau County Property Appraiser Mike Hickox in his Thursday, September 20 News Leader “Viewpoint” article headlined: “No lack of communication”. It also appears in the current issue of the online Citizens Journal Florida along with an opinion piece detailing Ms. Burns’ deception at FRAUD in Nassau Education? YOU Decide – Citizens Journal Florida  by local Jerry Novack.

Kathy Burns’ report card!

Unlike Ms. Burns, Mr. Hickox is an open and transparent public official who doesn’t hide behind paid mouthpieces, assistants, stonewalling, and incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo.

If you want to know why your taxes are going up despite what Ms. Burns promised prior to the vote on the school millage increase and what she says now then read Mr. Hickox’s candid and very understandable article. He warned her and the school board and they ignored him. Mr. Novack  goes into detail on the mess.

The only School Board member that appears to have the students, parents and tax payers interests at heart is Curtis Gaus, a former school principal who speaks candidly and honestly. In my opinion Ms. Burns is not a person to be trusted and the sooner we see the end of her tenure the better.

I very much regret not supporting Janet Adkins in her campaign for School Superintendent. However, Nassau County is very fortunate to now have that dedicated lady currently serving as Supervisor of Elections.



Vince cavallo - 23. Sep, 2023 -

Regarding the school tax issue I was told long ago by a government official: tell them what they want to hear and they never question what you say. In this case put “for the children” in front of anything and it sells. Put that before an electorate who knows not what a simple sounding word like mil means and you get the result we got. Over lay on these the simple fact that a large deal of the electorate does not comprehend that a monumentally rising tax assessment affects taxes directly and you get the result: 53% in favor of increase. That is not fraud but as we used to say: fishing in the hatchery.

Beyond that, the fact the NCSB refuses to provide the cost and participation in the ESL program is beyond the pale. Not sure what to do but a change must come at the next board election. Hopefully gauss runs as he seems forthright.

John - 23. Sep, 2023 -

We’ve been big fans of Hillbilly Hotdogs since the day Ms. Angel opened. She stood up to code enforcement’s antics so they made it their business to cause problems for her. Downright dirty politics and a nasty way to treat Ms. Angel. Funny how Michelle Forstrom makes it look like Andre, Tammi Bach and Charlie George are the only ones responsible. If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you. It’s never code enforcement’s fault… always someone else’s.

Smith - 25. Sep, 2023 -

Nobody is above the law. Remember that.

John - 26. Sep, 2023 -

Yep and that includes code enforcement. Remember that. You didn’t say anything about how that director blames everybody else when things go awry. That might not be against the law but it’s definitely pathetic. Fernandina is too small for this crap to happen. I’ve been on the island for many years and have yet to hear one good thing about that department.

Christine Corso - 22. Sep, 2023 -

Other than consistently regurgitating democrat opinion, what credibility or direct experience does a childless man like Mark Tomes pushing seventy have opining about the abortion issue. Although men are fifty percent responsible, they can’t demand an abortion be performed, but are required to pay child support if a child is born. Missing from the discussion is the grief suffered by men whose wives or girlfriends elect to abort a preborn child and who are helpless and feel worthless because they can do nothing legally to stop it.

Roy Chisolm - 24. Sep, 2023 -

Agree with everything but one point. He does have a child. He posted on the Observer several months ago that he snuck into his son’s Young Life meeting (no one noticed him??) to see what they were brainwashing him with Christian activities and teachings. How creepy.

Eric Webb - 22. Sep, 2023 -

The codes definitely need to be re-addressed and evaluated on a set basis. Sign codes haven’t been addressed since 2012 and I have asked every city commissioner and the mayor to consider a committee to review current codes. For amusement and an example, the city makes you permit when installing a shopping center monument sign. Then anytime a new business moves in, the city requires the new business to get another permit on the sign that has already been permitted. When I asked why if it is just a vinyl lettering change, I was informed that it constitutes a new sign and that triggers the city to check that their business tax was paid. So, pay a permit on sign already permitted so they can make sure you paid your other tax fee.

Seth MacFarland - 22. Sep, 2023 -

I agree with everything except the part about Mr Kennard and his opposition of the Amelia Baptist Church. This gentleman and his neighbors should be extremely upset with what the church is trying to do. They should not be in the business of developing condos. They are in the business of selling salvation. The church has basically partnered with the devil to get what they want. They are quickly destroying any Goodwill they had built with the community.

Matt Leen - 22. Sep, 2023 -

Hey Dave. I appreciate your apology about Kathy Burns!

I agree with most of what you write so I rarely bother to comment here.

In fact, the last time I left a comment was seven and a half years ago to disagree with your endorsement of Kathy Burns for School Superintendent.

At the time I pointed out that I knew nothing about her except that she was endorsed by the local Teachers Union. The role of unions is to destroy the relationship between employees (teachers) and employers (taxpayers), with the goal always and forever to extract more money from the latter.

But don’t beat yourself up too much. I’ve regretted plenty of my votes for local office. Deciphering for whom to vote for local office is extremely difficult. All candidates say the exact same thing – and most of them are lying.

But when the Teachers Union (or any government union) does us the favor of making an endorsement, that makes the job so much easier. Just thought I would remind you and your readers for the next election.

Bob - 22. Sep, 2023 -

Tomes can _____ it

Fannie Mae - 25. Sep, 2023 -

I do not always agree with Mr. Tomes, however, unquestionably the following phrase fits your blank, “thoughtfully and reasonably comment on”.

Freddie Mac - 26. Sep, 2023 -

“Always blame Repoblicans for”.. There, Fannie, I fixed your comment!

Patrick J. Keogh - 22. Sep, 2023 -

I always struggle with understanding your message, not.
Recent articles indicate that impact fees are needed by the city to pay for maintenance and service debt. Both are unlawful uses and the city consigliere was told that by the FL courts, twice! They are only to be charged and used to ameliorate the added cost caused by development. What added cost did Colleen create? The city administers state impact fee law to shake down its citizens. Let’s all buy a hot dog from Colleen and get our ears lowered at her barber shop to help her cover the cost of escaping the Socialist Republic of Fernandina. With the new commentariat at the News Leader I’d cancel my subscription if I had one.

@therealbarbie - 25. Sep, 2023 -

Kenough already.

Charlie Monroe - 22. Sep, 2023 -

So, Mark Tomes mother decided to keep the baby instead of having an abortion. It’s interesting how the abortion rights people take the same position as recent arrivals to the island saying now that they are here, it’s time to pull-up the bridge. More specifically, now that I’M born, you can start killing babies at will. They should take the time to reflect on their mothers’ decision, get down on their hands and knees and thank Mom for not flipping the coin.

Fred - 25. Sep, 2023 -

Or maybe Mark was a planned pregnancy. Either way, I agree with the sentiment that those of us who were fortunate to have been raised by good, loving and supportive parents should return that love and be very appreciative while also recognizing that not everyone they come in contact with will be as lucky in life as we were. As for most of y’all that post on this far right hate board, y’all are what happens when a woman gets an illegal abortion but the baby lives.

Fred - 03. Oct, 2023 -

Not me Charlie. Sorry that someone can’t stand on their own comments instead of trying to imitate others. I guess the saying “imitation is the greatest form of flattery” may have to be revised.

Tom Yankus - 22. Sep, 2023 -

“There is no free lunch” is one of my wife’s favorite sayings. That promised ‘no more college loan payments’ that Biden dangled in front of Americans as a trade off for votes is now over. Time to pay for that lunch again, folks. Annie dutifully will send her $400+ monthly check to the government (at 8+% interest!) for her daughters college loan for the rest of her life.

Peter LePorin - 22. Sep, 2023 -

Thank you for your efforts . Keep exposing these left wing jerks for what they are!
They destroyed NY and now they have brought their sickness to Amelia Island.
Please continue your great work.

Thomas Gadbois - 22. Sep, 2023 -

WOW, good job Mr. Scott. Struck a few nerves this time! I can always tell you whacked the hornets nest when my left-leaning neighbors mention you. I usually stop what I am doing and run to read your blog. Keep it up.