My brother-in-law and his family experienced a memorable Memorial Day weekend they won’t soon forget.
Following a more than 1,000-mile drive from Texas, David Pickering – wife Linda’s brother – his wife and 10-year-old grandson, arrived on Amelia Island Saturday evening, May 29, at the 2301 Sadler Road Residence Inn by Marriott only to be told by a surly front desk to hit the bricks. There’s no room for them at this inn they were bluntly informed.
David had booked and prepaid his reservation there six weeks earlier through Expedia. Realizing during the drive that he would probably be arriving between 7 and 9 pm. he called the Sadler Road hotel directly twice en route telling them he was delayed and would be arriving around nine o’clock or a bit later due to traffic congestion and storms. Both times hotel personnel answering the phone assured him that his confirmed and paid for room would be ready when he arrived.
“We won’t even be looking for you until after 9 or 10 pm tonight,” was the comforting message he received from the person answering the hotel phone during his 2:35 pm call.
When he pulled in with his sleepy crew at 7:50 pm the front desk told him they didn’t have a room and to go away. Explaining that he was assured on the phone twice by Fernandina Beach Residence Inn personnel that his prepaid reservation was secure had no impact, just the opposite.
A hotel clerk told David that Expedia had cancelled his reservation. “Nonsense”, said David. Expedia was the only party involved making any effort to accommodate him. Expedia agreed, saying it not only didn’t cancel it, but it had no authority to cancel the reservation and that the only parties that could cancel would be David or the hotel. Is it possible that the hotel on a busy Memorial Day weekend, knew it could charge an exorbitant rate and dropped David’s $180 per night week-long reservation to extort a $300-$400 or more nightly fee from another traveler?
When he asked to talk with an owner, manager, or someone in authority the scenario turned even uglier. He was told there was currently no one in authority available. David then plopped down in a lobby chair saying: “OK, I’ll wait.”
Shortly thereafter the police arrived. According to the police report “Angela” a “front desk” hotel employee called the cops saying: “There is a white male here who refuses to leave,” in effect accusing David of trespassing. Four Fernandina Beach cops approached him in the lobby saying they had been summoned by the hotel to remove him – the trespasser – from the hotel.
At this point Marriott’s Sadler Road Residence Inn had all the appeal of Alfred Hitchcock’s Bates Motel and “The Shining’s” Overlook Hotel.
We offered to take the exhausted travelers in despite the fact we already had a house full of visiting cousins. We had couch space if they were up for that we explained.
They declined our invitation as by this time Expedia had come to the rescue with a temporary fix in Kingsland, Georgia. Since it was Memorial Day weekend everything on Amelia Island and most places nearby were fully booked.
David is accustomed to dealing with police, ne’er-do-wells, and belligerents. He’s a former Assistant District Attorney for Tarrant County in Ft. Worth, Texas and currently in private practice handling criminal and civil law cases.
During the entire unpleasantness he stayed calm, controlled his temper, and coolly explained his situation to the local cops. According to David, the police were polite, respectful, helpful, and supportive, concepts totally alien to employees of the Residence Inn.
David and I have a copy of the police report and nowhere does it indicate that he was at fault or caused trouble. It only reports that a Residence Inn employee named Angela called the cops to report a person trespassing on their property, who is “upset because he can’t get a room.”
I called the Residence Inn Thursday and asked to speak to the general manager to hear their side of the story. Jen Scott, who identified herself as the assistant general manager, refused to talk to me, telling me the general manager was out of town for the week. She never indicated that anyone would get back to me nor did she advise me who I should call. Apparently this hotel and the folks that run it are confident that abusing prospective guests and clients has no impact on future business or their bottom line.
If you have a relative or acquaintance you despise, and they ask you to suggest an Amelia Island Hotel, the Residence Inn on Sadler Road is the place to send them.
Sitting at a bar quaffing a beer with Senator Kennedy you’d hear witticisms such as this when he commented on Chuck Schumer’s latest multi-billion-dollar boondoggle: “The bill sets aside $120 billion for foreign aid. I don’t know why we have to give money to countries that hate us. Why can’t they hate us for free?”
He also told FOX’s Sean Hannity the other night that the evil little gnome, Dr. Anthony Fauci, flip flops more than a banked catfish and that Biden sold out the United States like a sack of potatoes.
Senator Kennedy also disclosed the fact that tucked away in Schumer’s latest spending fiasco of 1,500 pages is a $500,000 set-aside to study how long it takes a panda to poop.
Senator Kennedy is running for reelection next year and hopefully the folks in Louisiana are smarter than the nitwits in New York and California that keep electing morons, and Louisiana and America will benefit from six more years of this man’s wisdom.
You Bought It! You Got It! Nassau County has made it abundantly clear that Fernandina Beach is on its own paying for the upkeep of its city-built facilities. “Go pound sand,” they told the pathetic Fernandina City officials with their begging bowl extended at a recent joint session.
That means the $70 million tsunami of impending costs to maintain the marina, golf course, shoreline stabilization, waterfront park and all the other parks, the Atlantic Recreation Center, Peck Center, MLK Center, ballfields, beach walkovers, City Hall, on and on — is the sole responsibility of city taxpayers.
Folks, this translates directly into higher property taxes for you, me, and everyone else within the city limits. Don’t like it? Then tell your city commissioners and Big Spender city manager, that created this financial catastrophe.
My insider source who knows more than most about such things hereabouts provided an analysis of the city’s current economic calamity and estimated what city management’s ineptitude will cost property owners.
He estimates, the property tax rate will need to go up by at least 0.91 mils to cover this. “Now this is not a one-time increase, like the conservation tax, this increase will last for many, many years, “ he explains.
“Living within the city limits will be the ‘privilege’ of those who can afford a city tax increase of this magnitude,” predicts my local sage.
So can’t the city sell some of its nonperforming assets to lessen the financial burden on residents? Nope, he says, “The recent Charter amendment makes this impossible. So we have boxed ourselves in with no way out other than opening our checkbooks even wider.”
Welcome to the new Fernandina Beach.
Just how bad is it? Really bad he explains.
“Regarding the marina/FEMA, bringing the marina enterprise fund into balance (income pays all expenses) will require that the marina produce at least $4 million revenue/year which is $1.5 million higher than the marina has ever produced,” he calculates.
“So, in the spirit of controlling property tax, another $1 million or more in new revenue needs to be found fast.”
Some folks say that the new Brett’s lease (in 2024) will produce significant income but not nearly enough. And major repair work is needed before any new tenant will sign up, costing more than the lease will produce in the early years.
My source says marina transient slip rates must increase significantly starting in October, and new revenue sources must be started pronto.
The “waterfront park” land must be put to financial use with new businesses cited there, either owned by the city or leased to private enterprise with revenue sharing.
The tax payer outlook for city residents is gloomy he summarizes saying: “Finding $1 million in new revenue is not going to be easy, but if this is not done, the marina enterprise fund will not balance, meaning continued high subsidy by city residents for years to come.”
With folks such as Big Spender City Manager Dale Martin, the pompous gasbag Chip Ross and oblivious Mayor Mike Lednovich stumbling around city hall the outlook is more than bleak.
Speaking Of City Mismanagement: Two volunteer local sports correspondents reporting from the Fernandina Beach Golf Course write that the situation with the $500,000 Top Tracer golf game appears to be a mess.
The two fledgling golf scribes met with a couple of employees of the golf club who told them that Top Tracer has been down since last Wednesday due to wiring connections and their reaction with the salt air. The duo added that there was no sign of anybody doing anything to fix the situation when they were there Tuesday.
“One of the employees told us that when Top Tracer was operating, they had only 5-6 people per week that actually paid the $40 per hour to use it,” the two said.
“The actual site still looks like a construction site,” they said. “Very few frills have gone into this project. Still no food or beverages available at the site or bathrooms.”
“From a business point of view, this looks like a poorly thought out and managed project, with little or no professional oversight,” they added. “I don’t think that any experienced financial person ever would have signed off on a project like this with an ROI that probably would not register.”
Someone needs to account for the $500,000 that has been invested the two city residents opined.
Yeh! Well, Oh Yeh! Steve Beckman resigned as head of Fernandina Beach’s much-criticized Building Department last week and is leaving the job firing over his shoulder.
In a front-page News Leader article announcing his departure Beckman blamed everybody but himself for the chaos surrounding his controversial function including contractors, builders, the Chamber of Commerce, etc. The only group that failed to make his list was the Sisters of Charity. He also outlined what he said were a variety of programs he says he instituted.
As local developer, entrepreneur, author, and investor, Pat Keogh says, Beckman took the heat for doing the bidding of his city overseers who applied state law and collected fees in such a way as to generate unlawful income for the city.
More about all this at a later date.
Help Wanted: If you’re one of those not too bright recent Woke college graduates holding a worthless degree in Lesbian Studies, Puppetry Arts, or Black Studies you might want to consider Marxism as a full-time career if you already haven’t.
Marxist Patrisse Cullors, who founded and recently resigned from Black Lives Matter, lives a lavish lifestyle owning three homes. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, communism’s noisiest old fool, has four. Both of these dolts prove that people with no particular talents can profit by taking up Marxism as a career.
Is this what Karl Marx had in mind?
Stop The Presses: Wildlife writer and zoologist Pat Foster-Turley, who bolted the News-Leader after almost 20 years because she objected to having her weekly column edited, has joined Fernandina Beach’s public relations team at the online Fernandina Observer. Dr. Foster-Turley doesn’t have to be concerned about editing at the Observer, unless she’s critical of the city’s mismanagement, ineptness and bungling. The Observer’s two Thelma and Louise editors, Suanne Thamm and Susan Steger, only bother themselves with editing when they’re eliminating any mention of a conservative viewpoint or facts regarding the city’s chaotic government. Ms. Foster-Turley will be a bright spot at an otherwise worthless publication.
A Fish Tale: This past Wednesday, myself, brother-in-law David, his wife, Ginger, and their grandson, Max, hired local charter boat Captain Brian Soucy, of Semper Fi Charters to take us out on a half day fishing expedition. Brian, who has been guiding tourists and fishermen around the waters hereabouts since about 2008 , knows where the fish are hiding. We caught a variety of them, mostly whiting, some of the best eating fish in Florida. Due to their small size they are a chore to clean so we turned that over to Atlantic seafood and the next day seasoned them with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice and Cajun powder before tossing them on the grill. In addition to a couple of large sharks and the whiting, we also caught a glimpse of the Santa Maria (above), a replica of Columbus’s largest three ships, as it was sailing into the Fernandina harbor for a few days. You couldn’t ask for a more congenial, knowledgeable, and accommodating guide than Captain Soucy. If you or any of your guests want a full day or half day of fun call him at 904/505-3481 or go to semperficharters.com.