Based on some of the comments made by one Fernandina Beach City Commissioner to the recruiting firm searching for a new city manager it appears that she didn’t give much thought to the fact that anything said might be a matter of public record or she didn’t give a rip.
The very aggressive, timely, and accurate online newspaper ncflindependent.com, edited by the talented and tireless Mary McGuire, filed an open records request and printed the comments of Commissioners Tim Poynter, Pat Gass, and Mayor Ed Boner. When she received those of Commissioner Robin Lentz, Ms. Lentz disputed some saying she never said certain things that were attributed to her and it has been alleged that the city or recruiter Colin Baenziger mixed Commissioner Johnny Miller’s and Ms. Lentz’s comments into one file, or at least that’s what the city and the recruiter are saying. For example, it is unlikely that a comment attributed to Ms. Lentz about the desirability of the next city manager having military experience would come from her, but probably from Mr. Miller, a Navy veteran.
City Attorney Tammi Bach said that she has determined that notes taken by Mr. Baenziger are public because he shared them with another person in his organization.
The interviews by Mr. Baenziger were designed to aid him in his search for a new city manager, by determining exactly what kind of person the city wanted and to help him get a feel for the current environment. Many consisted of just one or two words, designed most likely to jog the interviewer’s memory.
Anyway, by far the most interesting were those of Commissioner Gass, whose remarks made in a July 1 interview were, to say the least, very blunt and — a real gas!
In her interview Ms. Gass certainly didn’t hold back, and in a few of them it appears that the voices in her head grabbed the microphone. She admitted she was “raised here” and that Fernandina Beach is a “nice quiet, southern town” but is “being taken over by Northern retirees.” People here she said are “nice people” who “used to be nicer” and “since the 1970s when the Plantation came – pushing all the blue collar folks off the island.”
She stated that there is “very little crime” but asserted that “Police Chief, Jim Hurley, thinks he runs the place.” The fire department also received the outspoken attention of Ms. Gass as she exclaimed: “Fire dept. problems – chief is gay and the macho men did not like it. Chief brought it up to standards and the old boys did not like it. Heck on wheels since then.”
She had nice things to say about the high achieving schools and admitted that the town’s two mills and the port offer good paying job, but said “people are building their kingdoms” and “some want to shut down the mills and the port.”
She also warned that the “Finance Director knows where all the money is so the new person must understand enough to (know) where it is hidden.”
Comments by all the others were tame in comparison and offered sensible and reasonable guidance, and since I couldn’t find any about hearing impaired fish; starving puppies; tofu; an alien group of folks called Earth-Keepers; free range, yard chickens; plastic bags; banning coal; endangered amoebas; beached whales; strip mining, or drum circles, I assume that Commissioner Miller’s were unavailable or lost.
Help Wanted: When I was teenager many years ago I spent my summers in between school years taking any job that I could find to buy a car (1940 De Soto), insurance for it, and put gas in its tank, pay for dates and any other incidentals that my widowed mother was unable to afford.
I mopped and waxed floors, cleaned toilets, cleaned out foul, smelly, free standing ash trays, unloaded trucks, worked as a mason’s helper, stocked shelves, bussed tables and bagged groceries.
Before I turned 16, the age at which many employers would consider a kid for a regular job, I mowed grass, trimmed lawns and bushes, and washed and waxed cars and delivered newspapers.
I probably learned more about being an effective employee from those jobs than I did from any college course I ever took. I quickly understood that the boss wasn’t my mom. He didn’t care if I had a date that evening or a chemistry exam the next day. I understood how important it was to show up on time, and to do the assigned task — no matter how disagreeable — when I was there.
I discovered that working hard and being polite improved my standing and eventually led to an increase in the hourly wage and repeat customers in the car washing and lawn mowing business.
I also learned about a lot of jobs that I didn’t ever want to do again. For example, in my junior year in high school I snagged a Tampa Kwik Chek grocery store position that I stayed with throughout the school year, working after classes and on weekends. Clocking in even a minute late for this job meant being exiled to the dreaded no-air-conditioning-return-bottle-cage, that sat out in an asphalt parking lot in the blazing Florida sun, where late comers and slackers washed deposit beer and soda bottles of cockroaches, unidentifiable goop, and mice, and swatted rats with brooms in this smelly hell hole that we all imagined must have been little better than the fate of American POWs held by the Japanese during WW II.
No matter what job I held after that it was pure luxury compared to the bottle cage. However in talking with local Amelia Island restaurateurs, food and beverage managers and scanning the “Help Wanted” ads in local publications it appears that reliable help on the island is hard to find these days.
Numerous restaurant managers and owners have told me that finding and keeping reliable employees of any age is getting more and more difficult, despite the fact that wages and tips for these unskilled positions are good, if not great, and the island is a sought after location.
“They show up once or twice and I never see them again, or they come in late, drunk, or looking like unmade beds,” complained one disgruntled owner.
Personally, I’ve discovered that the best hospitality employees are those that I see repeatedly at the places I frequent and some of those disappear because they’ve gone on to off-island schools or been offered higher paying positions.
It appears to me there are jobs available for those seeking them, but bringing a work ethic and manners and losing a sense of entitlement are required. Otherwise the future is a lifetime of slaving away in a bottle cage.
But Coach, I Only Beat Up One Woman: If I had a child, particularly a daughter, enrolled at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, I’d yank him or her out of that institution faster than an FSU footballer could throw a punch at a female bar patron. The fact that Oklahoma A&M is even considering enrolling disgraced FSU quarterback De’Andre Johnson is an indication that the school is not acting in the best interests of its students. Johnson, who was filmed whacking a female Tallahassee bar customer with a right hook, was tossed off the Seminole squad and should enroll in a vocational school and learn a trade instead of seeking another place to play football. FSU rushing leader and Johnson’s Teammate, Dalvin Cook, has been suspended from the team for also smacking a female bar customer, not just once, but several times. I’m betting that these two losers will end up playing on a prison team in the not too distant future and as a tax payer I’m not interested in paying for their “rehabilitation.”
How The Left Claims Failure Equals Success: “We have seen how the number of Americans on federal nutritional assistance (‘food stamps’) has skyrocketed in recent years. Some look at those figures and see great success. They say, ‘Hey, look!’ We helped all these people. Isn’t that fantastic?’ But conservatives in touch with their hearts will reply with incredulity: ‘We have sixty-some percent more people on food stamps five years after the end of the recession than we had at the beginning? That isn’t success. It is failure.’” – Arthur Brooks, “The Conservative Heart: How to Build A Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America”
Return To Sender: Local friend and all-around nice guy, Colson Hillier, reminds me that when you get those “pre-approved” letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope. Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular postage, ‘if’ and when they receive them back and it costs them nothing if you throw them away!” The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, do what I’ve been doing for years now and get rid of some of your other junk mail by putting it in these postage-paid return envelopes. Send an ad for the lawn care company to American Express, a chain pizza coupon to Citibank, a mortgage application to the extended car warranty folks, and if you didn’t get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back shredded. If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn’t on anything you send them. You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them 60 cents. Let’s help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that’s why they need to increase postage costs again .
Things I Don’t Get: While arguing about the disparity of income inequality in America and how CEOs are paid “lavish” salaries compared to those of servers, handymen, etc. how do the Clintons explain Chelsea’s $65,000 fee for a 10 minute talk at the University of Missouri at Kansas City to celebrate the opening of a women’s hall of fame? The school passed on mom because her tab would have come to $275,000. Chelsea’s fee for a 10 minute talk that was nothing but inane blah, blah, that no one will ever remember, is more than many folks earn in a year. The word “hypocritical” comes to mind. Also, how does the school justify a fee that works out to $390,000 an hour? With twits like this running universities it’s no wonder college tuitions are rising so rapidly and the education standards dropping just as fast.
Funny Stuff: Harry King, a friend from the local McArthur YMCA, a good guy, and one of the island’s treasure hunters, gave me a copy of a local Maryland publication, “The Lake-Front” his long-time pal, Skip Carr, edits and it contained several amusing tidbits including this one from Skip: “Sometimes you are required to read books in school that you don’t fully understand and appreciate until later in life. For instance, I am now convinced that Ernest Hemingway wrote “A Farewell to Arms” about the Boson Red Sox pitching staff” and this: “As a young boy I dated the girl next door, a lawn distance relationship.” Too bad Skip doesn’t live hereabouts as he’d be a valuable asset to the next issue of the “News-Wrecker”.
Beware Of Greeks Bearing IOUs: I have a suggestion for American unions that have experienced shrinking membership for the past many years. They should step up their recruitment efforts in Europe. For example the European Union is fed up with Greece but the socialist inhabitants of that country appear to be exactly what American unions such as the American Federation of Teachers and Service Employees International are seeking. When the Greek government ran out of money to fund a full retirement beginning at 50, health care, maternity leave for both parents, free education, and more, Greece turned to Germany to pick up its tab. They’d be right at home here, where even illegal immigrants get tax payer funded benefits. What’s another 11 million living off the American teat when we have many more illegals than that already doing the same. Maybe they’ll send us some olives in gratitude, since that’s about all those folks produce these days.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: The award-winning Bar-B-Q team Smoke N Da Cockpit, a talented and zany group of air traffic controllers, will be at their BBQ stations this Sunday, July 26 beginning at 4 pm at the Green Turtle in a special fund raiser for the Special Olympics. Tickets are $25 a plate, and believe me, this is very, very good BBQ. Friday evenings between 5 and 7 wine lovers can always head over to 4924 First Coast Highway’s A Taste of Wine By Steve and sample his latest selections along with assorted cheeses, meat slices and crackers and crusty bread. The Amelia Island Hospitality Group of Sheffield’s properties has gotten in on the act as well with Amelia Liquors next to Publix on Sadler Road offering a trio of wine, beer and liquor samples along with bacon wrapped shrimp and crab fluffs in the same time frame this evening. If you want a fun evening on the water for a couple of hours, then you need to contact ameliarivercruises.com and inquire about their BYOB, or as the locals call it, the “Booze Cruise.” Or call ’em at 904/261-9972. They also have a kiosk at the downtown harbor where you can buy tickets for a cruise with live music, fascinating captains, and much more.