Island Issues

Tell City Commissioners To Stop Spending Or You’ll Fire Them! Should Fernandina’s David Yulee Statue Stay Or should It Go?

Tell City Commissioners To Stop Spending Or You’ll Fire Them! Should Fernandina’s David Yulee Statue Stay Or should It Go?

For some inexplicable reason – other than it’s a characteristically senseless far-left Democrat concept – the March American Rescue Plan funds being distributed to states forbids using the $200 billion in tax payer money to lower taxes.

In other words, the Democrats in DC want to make sure we don’t get any of our money back. However, it doesn’t put any restrictions on how the cities and counties use their share of our cash.

Nassau County Commissioners, after hearing from local watchdog group Common Sense and following the lead of Commissioner John Martin and Commission Chairman Tom Ford did the right thing by unanimously voting to lower the county tax rate and giving the local tax payer a break in property taxes with the $1.4 million it has received so far. There’s much more cash to come. Let’s hope they keep giving back.

Fernandina Beach budget workshop.

Meanwhile the City of Fernandina’s battered tax payers are watching as City Manager Dale “The  Big Spender” Martin, Chip “The Blowhard Bully” Ross, and Mayor “Marxist Mike” Lednovich are gleefully humming the Steve Miller Band tune “Take the Money and Run”.

The city will allegedly get $5.5 million of the feds rescue money… taken from the tax payer. Politicians, nationally, statewide, and locally prefer to have us think it’s “found money” and they can do with it as they please without any input from those of us whose pockets were picked.

Why is it that voters never seem to understand that the money these elected spendthrifts squander is their money and those spending it work for them? If the City of Fernandina Beach was your company would you let your employees mismanage and spend your firm’s money like drunken sailors the likes of  “Marxist Mike” Lednovich, “The Blowhard Bully” Ross and “Big Spender” Martin?

We have to keep watching them to ensure they’re doing what we – their bosses – tell them to do. These folks are not the brightest bulbs in the lamp or the sharpest knives in the drawer. Since their mental elevators don’t go all the way to the top, they need direction and guidance. That’s our job. If they don’t like it, then we can fire them or have them investigated. Hey, Common Sense, what’s the status of the request for the state to take a look at the city’s books?

While the stimulus legislation forbade states from using our money to cut taxes, it said nothing about what local governments could do with it. However, it did specify that it should be used for the relief of households and for spurring local economies. What better way to do that than to cut property taxes?  When “Big Spender”, “Marxist Mike” and “The Blowhard Bully”, decide to fund programs they want and we don’t, and the stimulus money eventually runs out, who do you think will be left holding the tab? You got it! It’ll be you and me, the local taxpayers.

Don’t let “Marxist Mike”,  “Big Spender” and “The Blowhard Bully” look for ways to increase the city’s budget by flushing our money down a toilet with unnecessary boondoggles especially the $25 million bond idea this trio of losers have cooked up.

The Fernandina Beach bureaucrats don’t need a stimulus, the tax payers do. Tell them that. It’s our money and we want it back. Tell them to use the federal cash to cut our property taxes and to put the brakes on any further spending.

Even though the budget is a done deal keep the pressure on these guys or they’ll slip back into their old free spending habits. Let them know that you’re the boss!


Things I Wish I’d Said: “No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are No. 1 and No. 2.  Whatever is No. 3 is way far behind.” – Thomas Sowell.


Wait! What? Alert reader Steve Hall notified me that prisoners incarcerated in New Hampshire prisons stamp out license plates that read: “Live free or die”.


I Hear The Darndest Things: While enjoying a beer, watching a baseball game and the ocean at the Main Beach Sandbar & Restaurant recently I sat next to local wildlife columnist and zoologist Dr. Pat Foster-Turley and her husband Bucko, a nice guy who told me a fascinating story.

While living in south Florida Bucko had jobs working with oceanic institutions and remarkable sea creatures. He told me that he even dated the daughter of an infamous sea monster.

He related the story about the first time he went to pick up his date, who turned out to be the daughter of stunt actor Ricou Browning, the guy who played the Gill-Man creature in all of the underwater scenes in the 1954 movie “The Creature From The Black Lagoon.”

“When I walked into the house there in the entryway was the creature’s costume he wore while making the film”, recalls Bucko.

He didn’t say, but I’m sure Bucko was on his best behavior and got this date home in time to meet the creature’s curfew.


Today’s Puzzler: If a species is supposed to improve through evolution, then how does that explain all the liberals who live among us.


Is my time up?

High Noon For David Yulee? The past couple of weeks I posted a poll here asking readers if they approved or disapproved of the federal government depositing illegal aliens in Nassau County. Some 112 folks responded with 95% (107 folks) saying they disapprove and 4% (5 folks) saying dropping them off hereabouts was okay with them. If any of those five would like to explain why they think it’s a good idea for those illegals to be plopped down hereabouts I’ll be more than willing to give them an opportunity to explain why.

This week there’s a new poll asking folks hereabouts if they agree or disagree with Fernandina Beach Mayor “Marxist Mike” Lednovich that the statue of former Florida senator, slaveowner, real estate magnate, and Confederate sympathizer, David Yulee, should be removed from its platform in front of the old train station downtown.


 A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: Alert reader and former Pennsylvania resident Kathy Fisher alerted me to the billboard pictured below, which is getting former York County, PA state Senator Scott Wagner, national attention. This visual haymaker is just one of a dozen that Wagner, Pennsylvania’s Republican nominee for governor in 2018, said he spent about $15,000 to lease for two months to call attention to what he sees as Biden’s failed ending to the Afghanistan mission.


Local Housing Boom! Good Or Bad? During the second quarter of this year, April through June, the Florida statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes continued to increase with the median sales price reaching $351,000, according to Florida Realtors reports.

It said the statewide median price for condo-townhouse properties was $256,945.

From what I’ve seen on Amelia Island prices are going up here even faster and I’ve seen no indication that these skyrocketing prices are anywhere near the top. Within days of a house going on the market in our neighborhood, a “Sold” or “Sale Pending” sign pops up.

Many houses are selling even before a sign appears. Folks looking for properties can’t find anything available and those that do are finding themselves priced out of the market. For renters it’s even worse.

Is this a good or bad situation for those of us that live here? What do you think?


If you don’t like where you’re living it could be worse, like the Socialist paradise of Havana, pictured here.

Unhappy Places: If you’re unhappy where you’re currently living in Florida just be glad you don’t live in Florida City, which a recent report said is the most miserable place in the state to reside.

Using data from a variety of sources, including the FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. created a weighted index of 24 social, economic, and health measures to identify the worst places to live in every state. 24/7 Wall St., LLC is a New York City-based Internet financial news gathering organization.

Florida City, with a population of 11,928 and located just southwest of Miami, topped the state’s misery index, due in part it says to a 14.0% average five-year unemployment rate,  more than double the 5.6% statewide rate. Serious financial hardship is widespread in the area.

An estimated 40% of the nearly 12,000 people living in Florida City earn a poverty level income, compared to 14% of all Floridians who do.

Florida City also has nearly the highest violent crime rate of any city tracked by the FBI. There were a total of 2,619 violent crimes reported in the area for every 100,000 people in 2019 compared to the national violent crime rate of 367 per 100,000.

If you want to be miserable in Georgia then head to Albany, a city of about 73,500 in southwestern Georgia, which ranks as the worst place to live in that state.

A city that surprised me as an awful place to be was one where I was a newspaper reporter in the late 1960s. If you’re not miserable enough by the mess disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo created and high state taxes, then move to Binghamton, it’ll get even worse the report promises. A city of about 45,000 in the Southern Tier of New York, Binghamton, ranks as the worst place to live in the Empire state. Compared to the typical New Yorker, Binghamton residents are more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line and are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed.

Public health issues like risky substance use are often more common in areas with limited economic opportunity, and in Broome County, where Binghamton is located, there are 32.9 accidental drug overdose deaths for every 100,000 people annually, nearly the most in the state and well above the 22.5 per 100,000 national drug fatality rates.

When I lived there industries such as IBM and Endicott-Johnson were thriving, and the population was close to 100,000. No major firms currently call Binghamton home, and the population has been halved. It wasn’t my favorite place, but it wasn’t as bad as it is today. To compound the residents’ misery, I’m sure the bitter winters are still brutal.


 Things My Doctor Didn’t Tell Me: Beer reduces the risk of developing kidney stones by 40 percent or so I read recently.


Overheard At A Local Drugstore: A man asked a female pharmacist: “Do you have Viagra for women?”  She replied: “Try the jewelry store across the street.”


Flagging An Issue: Local American Legion Post 54 is replacing its old, weathered state flags that veterans there plant at the Shave Bridge to commemorate special occasions and needs some financial assistance. There is a flag for each state, and it costs $35 to replace each one.

If you would like to sponsor a state flag send a tax-deductible check for $35 to the American Legion Post 54 and mail it or take it to them at 626 South 3rd St., Fernandina Beach, Fl 32034. Write in the memo section that the check is for a state flag. Tax documentation will be sent to you.


Speaking Of Legion Post 54: Saturday evening, September 25 from 5-7 pm American Legion Post 54 will be open to the public for a $15 Italian dinner and entertainment featuring popular Tuxedo-clad piano man John Springer and his sidekick drummer, Rob Taylor. It starts at 5 pm so get there early as this will be a jampacked fun event and the meals sell out quickly.


 Remember When? I recall when my school pals and I used to stand in line at the state fair to buy a ticket to see the fat tattooed lady. Now they are everywhere.


 Movie Review:  I don’t go to many movies, but wife, Linda, convinced me to join her earlier this week to see the new Clint Eastwood film “Cry Macho” at the B&B Theater on South 14th Street. I’m glad I did. The 91-year-old Mr. Eastwood did a remarkable job of directing and acting in the film featuring an odd cast of a 12-year-old kid, a rooster, and an actress who spoke no English. It all takes place in Mexico.

In addition to having polite, attentive, and efficient employees the tidy B&B’s concession stand also has a small bar. But don’t ask for a rum and Coke as whoever is in charge there had the good sense to not sell Woke-a-Cola, but proudly offers Pepsi. Good for them. I’ll be back.  


Curious Minds Want To Know: If Bruce Jenner goes missing, will his picture be on a carton of half and half?


Overheard at PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden: “I think my dog follows me into the bathroom because I always follow him outside when he does his business, and he thinks that’s the way it works” and “You come from dust, and you will return to dust. That’s why I don’t dust. It could be someone I know.”


Spouting Off:  Amicable Amelia Island resident Francis Lott managed to  snap this photo of a water spout headed toward his Fletcher Avenue residence before successfully shooing it off in another direction. What happens to a water spout when it hits land?  Does it become a tornado? Or does it sputter out when it runs out of water? Who can enlighten me?


R. Fine - 24. Sep, 2021 -

Hey, Dave, at least illegals don’t bitch and blame. They would be a welcome relief from your blowhard lies and misinformation about this Island. Your old white man anger is pathetic.

Coleman Langshaw - 24. Sep, 2021 -

I have witnessed a waterspout meandering over water and land, and from what I have been told, they are considered either, depending on whether they are over land or water. In other words, if a “tornadic waterspout” moves onto land, they are called tornadoes, and vice-versa.

Robert Warner - 24. Sep, 2021 -

Sounds to me like too many talk too much. “”The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. Hamlet.

DAVID LOTT - 24. Sep, 2021 -

When Mr. Ragucci turns to individual attacks it causes one to further consider what is he trying to distract us from. I think most would agree that his less than forthcoming actions with regards to the more controversial aspects of the grant application were not conducive in building trust with OHPA, the City or the public at large. Perhaps Mr. Ragucci hoped the OHPA commissioners would remain asleep at the wheel and let him do whatever he wanted with a rubberstamp of approval as happened so frequently in the past. Fortunately, Ms. Hill is waking the other commissioners from their slumber and Commissioner Ross is taking personal action that the City Commission should have done to hold Mr. Ragucci and WWT accountable.
Mr. Ragucci’s doublespeak continues as he extols the positive business achievements of the Port that he has lead with increased employment and cargo movements; yet then he demands part of the CARES Act payment as reimbursement for the negative financial impact that the pandemic has caused. Which is it?

Christine M Corso - 24. Sep, 2021 -

Dave, you are correct in questioning the Ragucci doublespeak. All recipients of the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP/CARES Act) loans had to “certify” financial need. In the WTF Audited 12/2020 Financial Statement, the $790,197 loan and its accrued interest will be forgivable as long the use included payroll costs, rent and utilities and that the WTF maintained a specified level of payroll and employment. The Financial Statement also indicated an application for forgiveness was filed with the SBA. This is just another example of WTF, a private company, benefitting from the public largess whether nationally or locally.

Bruce Smyk - 24. Sep, 2021 -

You could have commented that the Binghamton High School was closed for a day last week due to nearby gunfire.
Why doesn’t the City take the $5.5 million rescue money and give it either to Binghamton or Florida City for civic improvements. If they spend it here, you know they’ll screw it up.

John Barrickman - 24. Sep, 2021 -

As a Nassau County resident, I want to point out incorrect statements made by Mr. Chris Ragucci in his Comment to this blog. Mr. Ragucci states, “When Nassau Terminals was acquired by Worldwide Terminals Fernandina LLC (“WWT” and/or the “Port”) in 2018, their first order of business was to PAY OFF $6.2mm of Nassau County debt. WWT also absorbed onto its books $4.6mm in debt OHPA owed to the previous Owner”. A paraphrase of that same statement was made by Mr. Ragucci in his Comment to last week’s blog. Worldwide Terminals did in fact pay off $6.2 million dollars of OPHA debt and absorbed $4.6 million owed to Nassau Terminal when it acquired Nassau Terminals and the operating contract for the Port of Fernandina. The statement that the repayment relieved Nassau County taxpayers from liability for these debts is not true. The debt paid off and/or absorbed was OHPA debt. Nassau County had NO liability for the debt. It should also be noted Nassau Terminals ultimately wrote off the $4.6 million.

Christine Corso - 24. Sep, 2021 -

I don’t support the Yulee statue removal. Focusing solely on the “slavery” aspect of Yulee’s life is myopic. For the short-sided (or perhaps and sadly the anti-Semite among us), please review this impressive bio:
David Levy Yulee was a Jewish American politician and the first person of Jewish heritage elected to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Yulee was born in St. Thomas on June 12, 1810. He was the son of Moses Elias Levy, a Moroccan Jew who made his fortune in timber in the Caribbean, then bought 50,000 acres of land near Jacksonville, Florida, hoping to create a New Jerusalem for Jewish settlers. Levy County and the city of Yulee are named after this family. Yulee went to school in Norfolk, Virginia and studied law in St. Augustine.
He served in the Florida legislature and was a leader in the campaign for statehood, serving as a delegate to the Florida constitutional convention in 1838. From 1841 to 1845, Yulee was the Florida territory’s delegate to Congress. When Florida was admitted to the Union in 1845, he became one of the new state’s senators and, at the same time, became the first Jew elected to the United States Senate. Yulee, a Democrat, was first elected in 1845 and served until 1851 and then served another term from 1855 to 1861, when he resigned his seat.
Yulee had been known only as David Levy to this point, but legally assumed the name of Yulee after one of his ancestors, soon after his marriage in 1846 to the daughter of ex-Governor Wickliffe of Kentucky. Yulee subsequently adopted a Christian lifestyle by raising his children as Christians; nevertheless, he was an object of anti-Semitic attacks throughout his career.
Yulee was a vigorous supporter of slavery and secession, and joined the Confederate Congress during the Civil War. After the war, he was imprisoned for nine months as a prisoner of state at Fort Pulaski until he was pardoned. He then returned to the pursuit of building the Florida railroad and served as president of the Florida Railroad Company from 1853 to 1866 as well as president of Peninsular Railroad Company, Tropical Florida Railway Company, and Fernandina and Jacksonville Railroad Company. Called the “Father of Florida’s railroads,” Yulee moved to Washington, D.C., in 1880.
He died in New York City, October 10, 1886, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Coleman Langshaw - 24. Sep, 2021 -

David Yulee took an oath to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution of the UNITED States, then spat on that oath when he supported the violent rebellion against the UNITED States…but I guess its okay to have statutes of traitors erected and supported in perpetuity. Maybe we should erect a statue of Benedict Arnold while we are at it, maybe at West Point? how fitting!

Art Adams - 26. Sep, 2021 -

Biden, Harris, Pelosi, Schumer, etc. also took similar oaths but all they have done is spit on that oath. What do you suggest we do with them?

Joe Blanchard - 24. Sep, 2021 -

I would like to recommend that all those Haitian immigrants, in Texas, should be bused to Nancy Peloci’s and Maxine Waters’ houses since they are their sponsors. Another idea would be to send them all to Delaware since that is Biden’s home state and he is acting as sponsor. I’ll bet his neighbors will really appreciate it.

Joe Blanchard - 24. Sep, 2021 -

Yes, a waterspout is just a tornado over water and if it comes ashore it will be a tornado if the vorticity is still present.

Vince Cavallo - 24. Sep, 2021 -

Dave, our immigration law used to require individuals relocating to the US have a sponsor. The sponsor was responsible for their care to ensure they did not become a burden on society. Perhaps those five in the survey who believe the US needs to take in those scurrying across our borders would be so generous to step up and cover ALL of their life’s expenses like food, clothing and shelter plus other costs like education (not ESL), healthcare, retirement and the like. Maybe they would not be so generous with other peoples’ money if they bore the entire costs for breaking the law regardless of what the administration thinks. There also used to be a time in the US when the elected representatives were primarily concerned about the citizens of our country. Not so much today. If Biden were president in 1812, he probably would have put the British troops on social security, medicare and EBT cards if available then.

bobby carter - 24. Sep, 2021 -

Removing statues:
This idea of removing statues simply confounds me. Firstly, I can’t imagine how removing a statue makes the past any better. Then, removing a statue should require ALL statues be removed? Are there any persons of old that were perfect enough to please everyone today? Many think that a statue is a way to honor the currently unacceptable acts of yesteryear. I disagree. I think it honors the efforts and the public good that was recognized then. If Mr. Yulee was such a bad person, perhaps we should reverse all his accomplishments too, such as the very town we live in. All this nonsense can quickly get out of hand.

Coleman Langshaw - 24. Sep, 2021 -

David Yulee took an oath to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution of the UNITED States, then spat on that oath when he supported the violent rebellion against the UNITED States…but I guess its okay to have statutes of traitors erected and supported in perpetuity. Maybe we should erect a statue of Benedict Arnold while we are at it, maybe at West Point? how fitting!

DAVID LOTT - 24. Sep, 2021 -

Much the same could be said about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, etc. in accepting grants from the King of England and pledging allegiance to him and to England and then leading the “violent rebellion” against England. All leaders have “high and low” moments in their lifetime. I don’t see where the David Yulee statute in any way extols slavery (something all the forementioned supported during their lives) or treasonous actions but would encourage people to research his life and learn about the good and bad parts of his life.
As to Benedict Arnold, watch the series Turn to gain a better understanding of his military career and what led him to the traitorous actions he made. Not an excuse, but an interesting perspective. If you are on the winning side you are a hero, but if on the losing side you are a traitor or criminal. Such is the fickleness of fate decided by much more than one person.

Ken Fisher - 24. Sep, 2021 -

Correction to brother Dave, the American Legion Italian dinner night is Saturday the 25th. Shrimp Alfredo will be the main course. The musical entertainment remains the same, additional feature N.Y. Style Cheese Cake for desert. Sure to sell out early.
Come and help support the Legion.

David Scott - 24. Sep, 2021 -

Thanks Ken. It has been corrected.

Chris Ragucci - 24. Sep, 2021 -

OHPA Commissioner Miriam Hill, fresh off her involvment in the Jacksonville Electrical Authority tax-payer scandal where she “represented” the individuals who alledgedly tried to scam the taxpayers out of millions of dollars, is ACTIVELY working to ensure Nassau Terminals DOES NOT GET millions of dollars in federal grant money for much needed infrastucture work to the Port.

This is, of course, a violation of her oath as Commissioner and, more importantly, OHPA’s Operating Agreement with the Port, specficially Section 7.5, which provides the following:

“When OPERATOR is providing services to the public users of the Port, PORT AUTHORITY agrees to take no action which would impede OPERATOR’s ability to fully perform its obligations pursuant to this Operating Contract or its obligations to service the customers of the Port.”

It should be noted that Nassau Terminals PAID for the Grant application ($150,000, which should have been paid by OHPA – see below) and all improvements/equipment WOULD BE IN OHPA’s name. She is EXACTLY like Marxist Mike and Blowhard Obnoxious Chip Ross and also needs to be removed from office IMMEDIATELY.

Please be reminded:

When Nassau Terminals was acquired by Worldwide Terminals Fernandina LLC (“WWT” and/or the “Port”) in 2018, their first order of business was to PAY OFF $6.2mm of Nassau County debt. WWT also absorbed onto its books $4.6mm in debt OHPA owed to the previous Owner. In other words, even before WWT opened its doors for business, it had already made a $10.8mm investment in Nassau County/Fernandina Beach (not including the purchase price of the port operating company). Subsequent to that initial investment, during its three+ years tenure at Nassau Terminals, WWT has continued to reinvest in the community as evidenced by following:

• Since 2018, the Port has increased its labor force from 30+ employees to more than 60+ full-time employees. Accordingly, the Port has been an economic driver for a region desperately in need of higher paying wages for local residents, consistent with OHPA’s Charter.

• In addition to the initial $10.8mm investment, WWT has invested tens of millions of ADDITIONAL dollars over the last three years and has created momentum that Nassau Terminals has not seen over the last 30 years. These investments are evidenced by the three new cranes, warehouses, and innovative equipment acquired by WWT all on behalf of OHPA for Nassau Terminals.

• Working with the Army Corp of Engineers, WWT commenced and concluded the deepening of the port dock and the long-overdue dredging of the Federal Channel to further facilitate new and existing clients.

• Have financed over $4mm of OHPA’s “Local Share” of State Grants facilitating the investment of over $10mm into the port’s infrastructure and equipment, including state and federal grants that we have been awarded in OHPA’s name.

This list is certainly not exhaustive and is just a sample of the direct economic contributions made by WWT.

What has Miriam Hill done? Outside of collecting her $2,000 per month salary paid for by Nassau Terminals (she cannot seem to get a job in the private sector, similar to “Marxist Mike”): NOTHING

Think about that please!

Christine Corso - 24. Sep, 2021 -

Highlighting WTF’s contributions to port operations and the community are appropriate. However, WTF should also recognize the value and role of OHPA to WTF in facilitating in 2018 the $27.6 million Bond Indenture. Proceeds from the $19,100,000 series B were used to refinance $9,311,285.84 in debt used to acquire Nassau Terminals and proceeds of $6,804,765.89 (net of state grants) from the $8,500,000 series A were to be applied to 2019 “projects”.

Thank you for paying higher wages to local residents and receipt of the $790,197 in Paycheck Protection Plan (CARES Act) funds in April 2020 must have been warmly received by the WTF employees.

As noted, WTF and port operations have benefitted greatly from the combination of public debt and government grants facilitated by OHPA.