Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

The Times-Union Lays Another Editorial Egg Inspiring The Jaguars PR Staff To Celebrate

The Jacksonville Jaguars public relations department must have slapped themselves silly with high fives last Saturday when they picked up the Florida Times-Union newspaper.

While subscribers and casual readers were left scratching their heads over the front page lead story headlined “What will new Jags uniform look like?” the football flacks at Everbank Stadium were probably awaiting a call from the PR Hall of Fame to announce the date of their induction.

I worked as a reporter for major daily newspapers and have been involved with corporate and agency public relations organizations for more than 40 years, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a newspaper publish such an incredible “there’s-nothing-to-see-here” story as the lead story on Page 1, March 17.

There can only be two  explanations: 1- It was “Get drunk at work day” or 2 – Somebody in the newsroom got season tickets in a luxury box this coming football season.

I’ve never seen a news gathering organization stoop to such an embarrassing low to suck up by reporting such a big nothing unless it’s the New York Times, CNN or the Associated Press reporting on the Democrat Party, Special Counsel  Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian election meddling by the Trump organization, or anything Hillary Clinton says, does, or trips over.

This is the second time this year the paper’s newsroom laid an egg. On Thursday, January 11, the TU Life section a ran a front page, lead story with a six column headline that screamed “Make hard-boiled eggs the easy, painless way.” Under the headline was a full color, four column photograph of a hard-boiled egg cut in half and remnants of its shell. This was followed by a two-column recipe headlined “Hard-Boiled Egg”, and a 14-inch article that accompanied the photo and recipe.

In a “we can top that” effort, half of this sad newspaper’s March 17’s front page was devoted to what color uniforms the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team might wear this coming season.

Some poor sap named Matt Soergel bylined the piece that contained the following spellbinding text of team president Mark Lamping’s opinion saying: “The team’s color palette of teal, black, white and gold won’t change…. though he didn’t divulge which of those colors would be the dominate one. But this seemed like a big wink-wink clue…” and on-and-on ad nauseum with the mindless blather jumping to page 2A where it continued with another 24 inches of embarrassing drivel.

I’m thinking Mr. Soergel lost a newsroom bet on how much material he could write about such a boring, gratuitous topic. I read to the  mind-numbing end because I was convinced somewhere it would eventually say: “Hey, I’m just kidding.”

What next? An article on what the new Jacksonville-based CSX CEO wore to work? Did his tie coordinate with his shirt and suit? Were his shoes shined? Were his pants pressed and creased?  Did his subordinates follow his lead and dress appropriately? Did the CSX Board of Directors approve? Curious minds need to know these things.

In 2012 my annual subscription to this newspaper was $222.30. This year it jumped to $612 and for that 175 percent increase I’m getting a newspaper that has shrunk in size, shifted to the left editorially, and apparently has no news judgment when it considers a football team’s uniform colors and a recipe for hardboiled eggs front page news.

The Amelia Island News Wrecker, which is scheduled to be published again during this year’s Shrimp Festival, could use crack reporting like this.


Talking Trash: I have trashy neighbors.

Almost every day my neighbor, Christine Harmon, can be found combing sections of Amelia Island’s beach collecting bags and bags of trash.

Ms. Harmon and her husband, John, who  live a few houses from me in the Seaside subdivision just a couple of  blocks from Main Beach, were so dismayed by the amount of rubbish they  discovered while walking the beach that instead of just complaining they took action.

To help collect the litter Ms. Harmon decided she could use some help and created and self-funded an organization along with fellow beach comber and litter cleaner, Toby Tovar, called the Amelia Island Beach and Marine life Protection Task Force. They say the group was formed to “Safeguard marine life and shorebirds from human debris left on the beach along Amelia Island.”

According to Mrs. Harmon their task force has four objectives: 1- coordinating beach cleanups; 2- conducting outreach to government officials, the business community, environmental groups and citizens; 3- researching topics involving the impact of beach debris and discovering ways to combat it; and 4- communications between the group and the community.

According to statistics provided by Ms. Harmon her organization has its work cut out for it as she says there are some 268,000 tons of plastic debris floating around in the world’s oceans that include five trillion pieces of plastic.

While conducting their beach cleanup chores Ms. Harmon and her crew have discovered lots of that clutter including an amazing variety of junk ranging from boogie boards and disposable diapers to beer bottles and busted chairs.

People interested in assisting Ms. Harmon or joining her organization can contact her at or Toby Tovar at People can also go to Facebook: Amelia Island Beach and Marine Life Protection Task Force.

Ms. Harmon is also available to make presentations to local civic groups and clubs.


Community 1 Goofballs 0: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved a development project on a 23-acre site in Fernandina Beach that will have prospective apartment dwellers eagerly anticipating its opening and extremist City Commissioners Chip Ross and Johnny Miller frantically flapping their Chicken Little wings.

Last Friday, the Corps issued a long overdue permit to developer Spurgeon Richardson of Liberty Development, which is planning a commercial and residential project with 224 apartments along South 14th St. and Lime St.

Commissioner Miller or Ross?

The project, which was first proposed more than a year ago, sits on an area that loopy extremists say contains 9.1 acres of wetlands, but more logical minds realize is actually a makeshift dump and low lying area containing stagnant rain water and homeless encampments. The hotheaded Miller and Ross duo predicted that if permitted the complex would cause giant cracks in the earth’s surface, locust swarms, famine, and plague.

According to the online newspaper NCFL Independent Senior Planner Mark Evans, who signed the permit, said the Corps’ focus was ecological and the project does not adversely impact the environment. “I find that the proposed project is not contrary to the public interest.” he said in the report. Mr. Evans told the Independent that the Corps has a “narrow purview” to look at the impact on the environment, including fish habitats and endangered species. “As far as direct ecological impact, there isn’t any,” he says.

According to the Independent The Corps also said the online newspaper, Fernandina Observer, played a role in its decision with Mr. Evans saying the Corps publicizes news about permits on its website, by email and notices to adjacent property owners and that the Observer played a positive role in getting that information out.

The apartments will provide much need housing on the island that has long been suffering from a lack of available units.  Meanwhile Commissioners Ross and Miller will be busy wringing their hands and slapping their foreheads.


The Squeaky Wheel Department:. My wife, Linda, is the prideful owner of a 1997 Jaguar XJL, that she bought new more than 20 years ago and has only managed to put less than 80,000 miles on since. The car, which she loves, and will not part with,  is in show room condition and despite her constant care, time has taken its toll on items such as the radio, wipers, brakes, and other items that Jaguar no longer offers for vehicles that old. And she has no intention of driving to visit an indifferent dealer in Jacksonville.

That’s why we were fortunate to discover Mike Burdett and Laura Shea, the owners of First Choice Goodyear, 463670 State Road 200 in Yulee, a mechanical duo that  may possibly be two of  the most conscientious and honest proprietors of an automotive facility we’ve ever encountered.

Many times Linda has returned from taking her beloved car to First Choice Goodyear to return home and show me what I considered a incredibly low invoice and tell me that the master mechanics there told her that additional work she thought was necessary wasn’t needed.

This exceptional business can be contacted at 904/225-2775 or at its website at


Hey Olaf Some Reporters Are Here! Thanks to a misguided, paranoid, progressive busybody a group of happy Norwegians in Seattle celebrating their country’s amazing medal haul in the recent Winter Olympics were startled when newspaper reporters interrupted their pickled herring munching and aquavit drinking festivities.

A couple of weeks ago the Seattle Times, always eager to tramp down anything that might hurt their readers left wing sensitivities, jumped on a news tip that there was a Confederate flag flying beneath the American flag in a city neighborhood, and residents were very concerned reports the, in a story by reporter Emily Zanotti.

Only, it turns out, it wasn’t the Confederate flag. It was the flag of Norway, and a group of friendly Norwegians were just trying to express their patriotism and support for their Olympic team when their very concerned but dim neighbors contacted local media.

“Hi. Suddenly there is a Confederate flag flying in front of a house in my Greenwood neighborhood. It is at the north-east corner of 92nd and Palatine, just a block west of 92nd and Greenwood Ave N.,” the tipster wrote, according to the Times. “I would love to know what this ‘means’ … but of course don’t want to knock on their door. Maybe others in the area are flying the flag? Maybe it’s a story? Thank you.”

“That’s a Norwegian flag,” said the Norwegian owner of the flagpole in question told a Times reporter who hightailed it over there to view the offensive banner. “It’s been up there since the start of the Olympics. I’m a proud Norwegian-American. My parents emigrated here in the mid-1950s.”

Happy people enjoying themselves is always suspicious and very annoying to the humorless, cranky curmudgeons on the left, who are always seeking  dubious reasons for their joy.


The  Definition Of Despicable: I’ve never been a big fan of Florida’s Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, who has always voted for his party’s best interests ignoring the people he is supposed to represent. Voting against the tax cut’s late last year is a recent example.

Any smidgeon  of respect I had for him evaporated in the wake of the Parkland massacre of 14 students and three teachers, when Nelson used a rally, not to express sympathy or offer solutions, but to raise money for his reelection campaign.

To politicize a tragedy that left his constituents grieving may be one of the most unsavory actions by a politician ever. As despicable as they are I don’t think even the dim duo of the dreadful and unhinged  minority leader Nancy Pelosi and the equally awful senate minority leader Chuck Schumer have ever stooped this low.

Florida’s senior senator began blasting out fund raising emails — three pieces the week of the shootings — proclaiming to be Florida’s savior from guns and,  preying on constituents’ raw emotions to collect.

Sunshine Sate News reports that the most egregious of Nelson’s Dumpster-dollar-dives came from a “survey” email his campaign sent out asking gun-control questions, a ploy to collect email addresses for future fundraising solicitations. It was written the day after a televised CNN town hall with Parkland students, parents and community members. According to Sunshine News Nelson had the gall to ask for donations of $5 to $1,000 because “America is long past due for a hard conversation about gun violence.”

Nelson has been in Washington feeding from the public trough for half a century … under Republican and Democratic presidents, Republican and Democratic Congresses — all the while with zero gun control bills or legislation to show for his tenure.

Even the liberal CNN thought Nelson’s actions were questionable. Chris Cillizza, CNN’s editor at large wrote a scathing commentary after a CNN townhall directed at Nelson: “Look. Scott  (Rick) should have shown up on Wednesday night. Not doing so was a mistake. But I thought Nelson made a major mistake, too. That town hall wasn’t about racking up political points on a likely opponent. It was about trying to get beyond all of that — even for a night — to just have an honest conversation about guns.”

By the way Governor Scott, though absent from the CNN event, had been in Parkland four out of five days that week seeking advice and help from students, families, teachers, townspeople and law enforcement.

I hope voters remember Nelson’s vile, offensive  behavior on election day.


 Drinking, Dining & Dancing: The last place I expected to find cheap cold beer, wings, and trivia competition was a coffee shop, but every Friday at 6 p.m. the downtown 207 Centre Street  Fernandina Beach Amelia Island Coffee Shop hosts a group of locals that gather to socialize and compete for prizes. It also offers one of the best deals on the island with a bucket of five bottles of domestic beer for just $12, two glasses of wine for $10, a Reuben sandwich $8, a Philly cheese steak $10, and Buffalo wings just $6. Call ’em at 904/ 321-2111 or visit their website at And following trivia competition folks are within walking distance of more than 20 local restaurants and bars if they’re still hungry or thirsty. I was fortunate to be asked to be a judge at last weekend’s BBQ event at Main Beach conducted by  former Fernandina Beach Parks & Recreation Department’s Jay Robertson and his dad, Guy. I ploughed through more wings and ribs than I thought possible washing it all down with bottles of WATER, assuming it best to keep my senses when judging BBQ that experts from around this area and south Georgia spent years perfecting and hours preparing. Besides beer wasn’t available on the grounds. Winners were: Chicken Wings – Belly Up BBQ, Jacksonville; St Louis Ribs- Smoke Rising, Blackshear GA;  Baby Back Ribs – Tortoise Q, Jacksonville, overall champion – Full of Bull BBQ, Tampa; Team of the Decade – G’s Slow Smoked BBQ, Middleburg. This coming Thursday, March 29, Major League Baseball will celebrate opening day with every major league team scheduled to play, a first for the majors. To celebrate this event the 12 South 2nd Street PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden will tune  its big screen TVs to the opening day schedule, provide free hot dogs, Cracker Jacks and peanuts. More than 100 craft, imported, domestic, bottled and draught beers will also be available for sale as well as a variety of wines.

  • Comment (5)
  • OK Dave – just how high do the the Florida Times Union have to raise the annual sub in order to stop you reading (and commenting on) their inanities? ??

  • Dave, save your $612 and go downtown to the library and peruse the TU for the latest and greatest! Then you can spend your hard earned money on something more palatable like a cold brew.

  • Good point Dave L – he could even afford an occasional real (room temp) Brit beer!

  • Dave, I hope you are as diligent and vocal in monitoring the developer’s promise to deliver affordable housing on the 14th and Lime development as you have been “calling out” those who opposed the project. As noted in your blog with a reference to the NC Florida Independent article on the approval by the Corps, early indications are the developer does not intend to develop “affordable” housing on the property. The application for a change in zoning allowing increased density and developing wetlands approved by the Commission indicates the developer will build a “Class A” multifamily development and high-quality building infrastructure including a pool and clubhouse offered at a “market” rent. This is not generally considered affordable housing which HUD defines as the resident commits no more than 30% of their family income to housing including utilities. The 2016 Median household income in Fernandina Beach according to the US Census Bureau was $52,448, The average salary for a high school teacher in Nassau County is $47,190 and police/firefighter salaries are comparable.
    The City did not restrict the property to “affordable housing” e.g. a deed restriction. To avoid the “misunderstanding” at best or “bait and switch” disagreement currently occurring between the East Nassau Community Planning Area aka Wildlight and the County Commissioners, the City must formalize its understanding with the developer of the 14th and Lime project. The City must use any opportunity e.g. permits, variances, exceptions to the Comprehensive Plan, impact fees, request for services i.e. water and sewer to formalize into perpetuity a commitment to provide “affordable housing”.

  • Jax Times/Union free. Fired them last month. Wife and I pick up a USA Today at Harris Teeter or Publix. $600+ in our pockets which is exactly half of my yearly HOA fee. You can do it Dave boy!!!


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