Close to $600,000 of our Fernandina Beach tax money has been needlessly flushed down the toilet as Adam Kaufman reports in the online newspaper Fernandina Observer last week that the city has spent almost that much prosecuting and defending the two indefensible cases involving its imposition of “impact fees” on new water customers as a result of its purchase of the City Water Utility in 2002.
According to Kaufman’s articles attorneys for the parties in the long standing “impact fee” litigation involving Joanne Conlon and the city have jointly advised the First District Court of Appeals that discussions toward a potential settlement are continuing. They have informed the court that “the discussions have progressed to the point that the parties are exchanging drafts of settlement documents” and have requested that the court defer any action until October 20, 2014 when they will file a report with the court on the outcome of the discussions. Good grief folks, the legal fees are just the beginning. How much will the settlement cost the tax payers?
In January of this year Circuit Court Judge Brian Davis found that the impact fees imposed by the City did not comply with Florida law and that the fees were determined to have been used by the City to purchase the water utility in violation of the law and the amount of the fee was found to have been arrived at “through a wholly arbitrary negotiation process.” The city appealed that ruling and has apparently failed, wasting well over a half million dollars of our tax money on outside lawyers. Of that outrageous sum, only $10,000 in fees was paid to a local law firm, Jacobs, Scholz & Associates, while the bulk went to law firms located in Miami and Orlando.
The final approval of any settlement agreement must come from the City Commission at a public meeting and in my opinion anybody associated with this shameful waste and the anti-business impact fees should be fired and that includes City Manager Joe Gerrity, who was mayor and instrumental in the 2002 fee agreement; the ill-tempered John Mandrick, the local utilities department director; and City Attorney Tammi Bach, who obviously mishandled this entire legal debacle.
Kaufman’s coverage of this sad affair the past few months in the Observer has been eye-opening and revealing as the semi-retired mediator and attorney from New York, has ably waded through piles of legal mumbo-jumbo and deflected loads of flak to concisely and accurately report on this issue so important to our community.
Oh, there is no insurance coverage for this gross mismanagement of tax funds and so far I’ve heard nothing but silence from the city as far as an explanation for this outrageous waste of our money and a fix for the incompetent management running the city’s public utility department, its legal department and the city manager’s office.
If anyone thinks I’m all wet on this issue then please tell me where I’m going wrong.
Social Media & Elections: Barack Obama’s handlers and campaign operatives were experts on social media and that’s one of the reasons he won the last two presidential elections. I’m also convinced that one of the reasons that Johnny Miller won his seat on the Fernandina Beach City Commission is his skill in utilizing social media and he, and Mayor Ed Boner are still the only sitting commissioners who address he voters via Facebook, etc. Charlie Corbett, Pat Gass and Sarah Pelican are silent in cyberspace and I’m betting that candidates Robin Lentz and Tim Poynter will soon step up their electronic efforts as the election campaign begins to heat up. However social media can be a two-edged sword as Commissioner Miller also posts a lot of his non-local left leaning positions on social media which can come around to bite him at the polls among conservative voters if he decides to seek another term.
Speaking Of The City Elections: Fernandina Beach City Commission candidate Robin Lentz has been alerted by officials at city hall that someone is using the name Rob Lentz and sending emails to city officials among others commenting on various local issues and requesting public records. Requests have been sent to this person requesting their identity but no response has been received. Candidate Robin Lentz’s email is email@example.com. If you receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org, it is NOT from Ms. Lentz, a long-distance runner who is running for city commission and is a full-time educator in the Nassau County School System.
More Election Stuff: The public is invited to an Amelia Park hosted Fernandina City Commission candidate forum this Tuesday, Sept. 30, 5- 6:30 pm in the Social Hall at Holy Trinity Church, just off Citrona on Lake Park Drive, across from the McArthur YMCA, with Jacksonville Times-Union reporter Dan Scanlan acting as moderator. All candidates have been given a set of seven questions to answer. Those running for the two available seats on the City Commission — Charlie Corbett, Robin Lentz, Sarah Pelican, Tim Poynter, and Roy Smith, Jr. — have been invited to participate. Ms. Lentz is challenging current Vice Mayor Pelican for Group 3. Poynter, and Smith are challenging current commissioner Corbett for Group 2. Another candidate forum hosted by the online Fernandina Observer newspaper is set for Thursday, October 16 at City Hall, 204 Ash St. at 7 pm and I’m willing to bet that incumbent Corbett is a no-show for that one since participants haven’t been provided the questions in advance thus leaving the less than mentally agile Corbett at a distinct disadvantage.
The News-Leader’s Diva: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that Pat Foster-Turley is the best columnist-writer to appear on the pages of the bi-weekly Fernandina Beach News-Leader as her observations on the island’s wildlife, environment, and more never disappoint. Last week her Wednesday column on locals enjoying the tourist-free beaches was a delight, painting a colorful picture of her and her friends enjoying a romp on the empty beach along with unseen underwater critters. You could almost hear the gulls squawking, the waves splashing onto the shore and smell the salt air. As a rule the News-Leader doesn’t pay its local columnists, but I hope that in the case of Ms. Foster-Turley it makes an exception as her writing surely attracts subscribers and advertisers unlike my Dave’s World column, which that newspaper’s publisher implied caused them to flee like silverfish under the refrigerator when the kitchen light was flipped on.
The World’s Going Mad Department: The “Hide the women and children!” admonition often used in western films when the cattle hands rode into town on Saturday night is now more appropriate for game-day Sunday as National Football League players are battering their wives, girl friends, kids and even dogs in ever increasing numbers, accumulating DUI’s, and committing so many other felonies and misdemeanors you need a scorecard to keep track. But instead of focusing on this important issue there is still a clueless politically correct crowd mindlessly busying itself trying to ban any semblance of the 80-year old Washington NFL team’s name “Redskins” as witnessed by Pennsylvania high school faculty newspaper advisor Tara Huber being suspended without pay by the twits that run that state’s Neshaminy High School because she allowed the school paper to run an opinion-editorial containing the word “Redskins,” which the school staff has decided is offensive even though it is the school team’s nickname. The school paper also had $1,200 docked from its funds. Good grief people of Pennsylvania rise up against these public school loons and never let them near your children again, ever.
Speaking Of Dim People: Adoring sports writers have consistently described Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston’s “big smile” when writing about the alleged rapist and thief, and after his obscene, vulgar public tirade in front of hundreds of students at the university’s student center, maybe they should substitute the phase “little mind.” Also, ESPN continued to show Winston’s smirking face on the sidelines during the Sean Maguire’s led FSU overtime defeat of Clemson, when he should have been banned from the stadium. I attended FSU and have always been a fan, but enough of this crap please, Winston is a disgrace.
Fernandina Officially “Quirky:” Attention quirky Bob Tidball, owner of the Addison B&B, your title is now official as according to Travel & Leisure Magazine Amelia Island is one of America’s 20 “Quirkiest” towns, having been designated that in its September issue, it says by taking “quirkiness to another level” due to its “vibrant main streets, coffee bars and eco-friendly vibe.” Apparently they didn’t visit the Hammerhead, meet Pajama Dave, go on a booze cruise, listen to some of our local musicians like Dan Voll on the Green Turtle’s porch, sit in on a Tuesday evening city commission meeting, eat at T-Ray’s lunch counter, or a myriad of other attractions that take “quirky” to a level obviously too high to measure on that magazine’s rating scale. Asheville, NC came in first while we landed in 19th place. Anyway, I like the fact that we’re quirky….I have a Canadian cousin like that whose company I always enjoy, just like Bob T.
Odds Are They’ll Be Forsaken: President Obama is looking more and more like Sheriff Will Kane in the film High Noon as he tries to round up an international posse to take on the ISIS terrorists and it appears he’ll be on the street alone with the other countries peering through their window curtains as the clock keeps ticking. But unlike the character played by Gary Cooper in the 1952 Academy Award winning western film, Obama will probably high tail it out of town with his boots still in his saddle bags leaving the civilians in the Muslim version of Hadleyville at the mercy of sadistic, bloodthirsty killers. And it won’t stop there.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Mark your calendars for Friday, October 3 and dust off your dancing shoes because Sandy Bottoms is bringing back the Amelia Island Big Band to its Main Beach venue beginning at 7 pm for just a $5 cover folks. If you haven’t been to one of these then brace yourselves because you’re in for a real treat and if you have been then you’ll be like the rest of us and will get there early for a good seat as these shows are usually packed with people you know or will soon want to know. This is a great venue to take your out-of-town guests and give them something to talk about for a long time once they get home. And if you want to combine the entertainment with dinner there will be a special $15 prime rib dinner with a vegetable and potato available that night. Oh, and if you are like me and crave one of Sandy Bottoms’ thin crust, square cut pizzas, the buy-one-get -one-free starts again this Thursday, Oct. 2 and every Thursday thereafter for Nick Hartley’s 8, 12 or 16 inch pies, which I think are some of the best on the island. Oh, only one topping on the complimentary pie please and no call in orders. There are lots more Bottoms’ specials coming and I’ll detail them later. Call ’em at 904/310-6904. Railroad employee Tony Colucci is the new conductor of downtown’s Centre Street’s Courtyard Pub & Eats and I understand he’ll continue with the piano bar featuring John Springer Thursday, Friday and Saturday but will also have other entertainment as well with Trivia on Monday nights and College Game Day & the NFL Ticket on the four new big screen TV’s, which will not interfere with the popular piano-man. I’m told that Brian Hyers, who worked at Joe’s 2nd St. Bistro, has joined Tony’s kitchen team and came up with a new menu which will now include lunch. Take a look at it on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thecourtyardpub or call ’em at 904/432-7086. But while the Courtyard has changed hands three island restaurants have closed their doors the last 30 days or so including the south end’s Amelia City Sushi next to Harris Teeter, 8th Street South’s Merge and downtown’s Palate. There are also persistent rumors that Kelley’s Court Yard on South 3rd St. is changing hands and will become a pizza parlor, but I can’t find anyone to deny or verify that.
I too have had trouble with the name calling by my uncle, Dave. I’m just hoping we call ALL rise above it. Keep up the great blogging. I enjoy and look forward to them, even when we disagree a little…
Dave when you raise the City’s purchase of the water service from FPU thereby affixing a 25% surcharge on county residents who came along with the purchase, I simmer in my juices again. Over protestations from the Nassau County Commission, Gerrity and his rag tag bunch at the Commission made the purchase relying on this revenue shot and the “impact fees” to foist an over priced utility upon the public. To make sure it was not opposed, they used Revenue Bonds to fund the purchase so as not to need a vote. Ten years plus later, the bond obligation is unchaged as the city used the revenues for other purposes. Now the chickens have come home to roast while the guilty take cover behind “settlements” after delaying judgment through the courts as long as they could.
Eric, I know you and like you and I admire you writing in defense of your Uncle Charlie Corbett. I have also been a victim of juvenile name calling as your uncle has made a point many times of directing his verbal abuse in my direction by loudly singling me out in public places (Sandy Bottoms, City Hall, American Legion Post 54, etc.) and shouting “Hey, Cheap Shot Scott” and “Bozo the Clown” while I have been in a social setting with friends and relatives. You are correct that I am displaying questionable judgment and a lack of class by lowering myself to the same level as your Uncle Charlie Corbett.
Charlie Corbett is less than mentally agile, Dave? I take offense at your taking this shot at him. You know me and you know I rarely agree with my uncle when it comes to politics, but having known him almost all of my life I’d never describe him that way. You may not agree with him either, but that is no reason to question his outright intelligence or mental agility. Do I need to remind you he graduated from the very same esteemed University that you did? I’ve always found my uncle to be very intelligent and have enjoyed many debates with him over our politics yet we’ve not stooped to the level of name calling. Your doing so shows questionable judgment and a lack of class. Let’s leave the name calling to the fourth graders, ok?
I hope your predictions will prove wrong. But given the inevitable tendency of “boots on the ground” to come back home in body bags, and after more than a decade of war with a staggering human and monetary cost, is it really so difficult to give this President just a little credit for attempting a measured (and international) response to a complicated situation, rather than condemning him upfront? By the way – “five or six small countries” is some pretty loose rounding. I count at least 13, most of which would not consider themselves “small”, and some reports have been considerably higher than that.
Rich, what I was attempting to say was that he is having trouble rounding up a coalition and this war will not be won without troops on the ground. The US and five or six small countries dropping bombs is not exactly a coalition and who is fighting these ISIS killers on the ground? My bet is he’ll just hope it goes away after a while, like he does all other key issues, and ISIS will eventually take over larger and larger chunks of territory and the world will become a much scarier place. I want him to fight the war, but I want to win it too and we won’t with Obama’s half-baked “strategy” he admitted he didn’t have a week ago.
Dave – Not sure I understand the point of your “Odds Are They’ll Be Forsaken” item. Are you opposed to an international coalition? Opposed to fighting ISIS? Or have you just become so accustomed to including at least one criticism of the President each week that you had to resort to criticizing something that hasn’t happened but you think (hope?) might? At least we “left-leaning loonies” usually waited until George W actually screwed up before criticizing…