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

Dec. 12 Last Chance To Stop The Grinch From Descending Mt. Crumpit To Terrorize Locals

Following last Friday’s blog urging readers to vote for Fernandina Beach City Commission candidate Orlando Avila and not Chip Ross, I received an email from Ross saying: “Too bad you did not stay to the end of the forum last night …my closing statement was written with you in mind.”

Ross’ closing remarks at the Thursday, November 30 candidate forum, were directed at people critical of him for using social media to voice their opinions on why he’d be a nightmare as a Fernandina Beach City Commissioner.

Concerned Fernandina flibbertigibbet at work

The forum for candidates Ross and Orlando Avila, who were appealing for votes this Tuesday, Dec. 12,  was sponsored by an organization called Concerned Citizens of Fernandina Beach. From the description and demeanor of this group and its members, it’s the citizens of Fernandina Beach that aren’t in this kooky cabal that need to be concerned. At the beginning of the forum the group’s leader, Ron “Get off my lawn you little bastards” Sapp, explained the purpose of this anti-business group of tree-hugging busybodies. He conveniently forgot to mention that he is also Ross’ campaign manager. Imagine that? The organization might want to consider changing its name to the Fernandina Flibbertigibbets of BS.

Anyway, back to Ross, who negatively lit up the Internet again this week, as even liberal News-Leader columnist Joe Palmer (Cup of Joe) skewered the cranky, litigious candidate in a scathing Facebook post. In it he explained how one of Ross’ many misguided legal actions prevented John and Teresa Sauer from occupying their house on North 2nd and Broome that they spent close to $90,000 renovating for them and their blind special needs son.

In his comments Palmer explains how Ross’ law suit was tossed by an administrative judge in Tallahassee, but not until it cost the Sauers and the city, e.g. tax payers, buckets of money. To see the post go to During the past 15 years I can’t think of one thing Joe Palmer and I have ever agreed upon except why folks should vote for Orlando Avila and not Ross.

Unfortunately Palmer is not submitting his commentary to the News Leader since that paper’s befuddled editors have already decided to endorse Ross’ destructive, angry, anti-business, litigious and abusive brand over that of thoughtful local business owner and family man Avila.

The following line from Palmer’s commentary stands out: “The differences between the two candidates are stark. Whereas Avila is a warm, friendly man who listens to people, spends time talking to those in the know and makes a sincere effort to get along with even those with whom he disagrees, Ross is an arrogant and irritable fellow whose motto might well be, ‘My way or the courthouse way.'”

Not only did the very confused News-Leader management pen an editorial supporting Ross, they’ll print any claptrap confused readers send them in support of the NL’s preferred mean-spirited, crabby candidate.

For example, Lynn “The-eight-thousand-dollar-man” Williams, shoved a dictionary into a salad shooter, aimed it at a blank piece of paper, then sent the mess to the News-Leader, which published his word jumble Friday, November 24.

To understand why he backs Ross you have to try to understand Williams, a failed Commission candidate himself. About three years ago this guy, whose all too frequent sleep-inducing Commission presentations provide attendees with an excuse to use the restroom or take a quick snooze, described a Rube Goldberg contraption he wanted to design to remove silt from the city’s marina and convinced a gullible commission to give him an $8,000 check to build a prototype. He promptly deposited that check into his personal bank account and nobody I know has ever seen his mythical magic mud machine.

Newly elected Commissioner, Philip “The Listener” Chapman, also wrote supporting the angry unpleasant doctor. During his campaign “The Listener” said he would listen to citizens but failed to mention that he doesn’t comprehend anything he hears.

The Sauer family that Ross tried to keep out of their house for “years” submitted the following letter in support of Avila Monday, December 4 detailing Ross’ mean-spirited and litigious welcome wagon approach to them as his new neighbors. The NL didn’t run it this past Wednesday and if it isn’t in its issue today (Friday, Dec. 8) that means it didn’t run at all. I haven’t seen today’s NL so here it is just in case:

Runoff Election and Rezoning

“The runoff election between Orlando Avila and Dr. Chip Ross is critical to the city of Fernandina Beach on December 12th. There’s never been a more important election for my family. Dr. Chip Ross, I’m sure, is intelligent and hard working.  He came across very well at the forum this past Thursday. What you may not know is what the man is like as a neighbor. I met Dr. Ross on my front porch about a year ago when he introduced himself and his wife to me and my brother-in-law as we were working on our house at 205 Broome St. After he introduced himself he let us know in no uncertain terms that if we did not rezone as residential he would keep it in court for years. His haughty and arrogant attitude took me off guard. Everyone else we have met here have been so gracious and friendly. The main reason we chose C3 was to have options down the road. I have a special needs son and we may want to run a small cottage business out of our house. If you check the history of this area, you’ll see there were several different businesses on this block.

Again, Dr. Ross, is a smart, hard working man. He’s just not humble, friendly or caring. I would think being a public servant would require some listening and caring for local families. I’m sure Dr. Ross had no intentions of causing problems for our family especially a blind special needs young adult. But again he never asked or listened to our needs.  How can we expect him to listen to the citizens of this community if he is elected to office? Also, if he is so concerned with our town why would he have the city endure extra expense ($20,000) to fight all of his appeals? Plus, we have seen how he talks down to the people of this community at the City Council Meetings by treating us all as if we were ignorant.  I’m tired of selfish politicians, aren’t you?  I want someone who truly cares for our community and its people!

We will be voting for Orlando Avila, a family man that cares about local families and businesses. A common sense public servant that listens!

By the way Chip, next time you introduce yourself to a neighbor, bring cookies or a bottle of wine.”

John & Teresa Sauer

Avila has the backing of a wide cross section of area residents including State Senator Aaron Bean, current Mayor Robin Lentz, Commissioner Tim Poynter, newly elected Mayor Johnny Miller, former Mayor Ed Boner and former Avila commission opponent Medardo Monzon, as well as many other well respected members of the community such as: former 12-year city clerk Mary Mercer and architect Benjamin Morrison, a Planning Advisory Board (PAB) member, a group that Ross was booted off of because he couldn’t get along with other members. Contributors to his campaign (Nick Deonas, Eric Corbett, John Cascone, John Stillwell, etc.) include a mixed bag of long-time politically diverse residents and respected business people.

And when Mayor Lentz, whose seat Ross and Avila are running for because she decided not to run again, voices her disdain for Ross, I know I’m not a voice in the wilderness crying out in vain. Here’s what the well-respected Ms. Lentz had to say this past Wednesday:

Dr. Grinch unsuccessfully schmoozing voters.

”Ok…. I have really tried to stay off of social media because it’s negative. However, negativity has reached my mailbox five days before the runoff election! For my city voting friends, please know the mailer you received is another lie from Dr. Ross. First, please note that all of his ”positives” are really forms of opposition. I’m not sure what he stands for because he opposes everything. He filed a lawsuit against the city for trying to rezone property (at a property owner’s request) from light industrial to central business district (same as Centre Street). Dr. Ross, who stood up against the port would rather see industry than mixed use of residential and business? Doesn’t make sense. To make Orlando Avila out as a person who has been absent from the community is absurd. He is very involved and in touch with working families. We need his representation on the Commission. I ask for your vote for Orlando Avila to move forward on positive initiatives for the city. We have to have smart growth and Orlando understands that.”

Voters casting ballots for Ross would be encouraging a man with a “heart two sizes too small” to descend from Mount Crumpit, and convert our town of warm-hearted Whos into a Grinch controlled nightmare that would make Henry F. Potter proud.


Things I Wish I’d Said: “When you go in for a job interview, I think a good thing to ask is if they ever press charges.” — Jack Handey.


Riveting Rhetoric: The large crowd at local resident Deb Boelkes’ We the People event at the Plantation’s Walker’s Landing Monday, December 4 were riveted to their seats during conservative commentator Neal B. Freeman’s remarks that included topics ranging from Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign and Trump’s unexpected victory to William F. Buckley’s 1965 NYC mayoral race and Ronald Reagan’s legacy.

Amelia Island resident Freeman, one of the fathers of the modern conservative movement at the right hand of Buckley and a polished public speaker, recently had his new book “Skirmishes” published, a 320-page hard-to-put-down tome consisting of his mesmerizing commentary, columns, speeches, essays, humor, and thoughts, in a breezy literary style he has been sharing with the American public for more than  50 years.

If you ever have an opportunity to meet Mr. Freeman, or if he speaks at any other local event, take advantage of the opportunity to hear what he has to say. No matter your political persuasion, you’ll walk out glad you attended.

Currently if you want a copy of his book it can be ordered at for $25, which includes handling and shipping.

If you want to get on Ms. Boelkes mailing list for upcoming We the People events contact her at On January 8 her group will feature a talk by Bob White, a candidate for governor of Florida.


Common Sense Department: “Government does not tax to get the money it needs; government always finds a need for the money it gets.” – Ronald Reagan


ABC’s Fake, Fraudulent, Fallacious & Phony Reporting: An ABC News morning special news report that aired Friday (Dec.1) said that Donald Trump, as a candidate for president, had asked Michael Flynn to make contact with Russians. That report wasn’t true and caused a 350 point drop in the stock market, which eventually rebounded after ABC corrected its lousy and incorrect reporting.

But, it wasn’t until 8:00 p.m. that evening, during the “World News Tonight,” that ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross said the source who had provided the initial information for his story later told him that it was as president-elect, not as a candidate, that Trump asked Flynn to contact the Russians. Ross was subsequently suspended by the network without pay for four weeks because of his blunder and his bosses said he will no longer be permitted to cover the President when he returns. He should’ve been fired.

Ross said: “A clarification tonight on something one of Flynn’s confidants told us, and we reported earlier today. He said the president had asked Flynn to contact Russia during the campaign. He’s now clarifying that saying, according to Flynn, candidate Trump asked him during the campaign to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other world hot spots. And then after the election, the president-elect asked him to contact Russia on issues including working together to fight ISIS.”

That now discredited network also was reproached for using the weasel word “clarification” and changed it to “correction” in later reporting. However, by now the “false news” item had been imbedded in thousands of web sites around the world and initiated an embarrassing victory shout and celebratory jig by far-left kook Joy Behar for the View’s handful of viewers.

So, where has President Trump gone wrong calling out the main street media as biased and fake news organizations?


“There’s Someone For Everyone” Department: If you’re single and have trouble snagging a date you might consider moving to Canada where a flyer announced a “LGGBDTTTIQQAAPP” one-hour inclusiveness training session hosted by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (EFTO). Those who saw the eye-popping acronym used to refer to gender and sexual minorities were understandably perplexed by the 15 letters (which according to the flyer stands for Lesbian, Gay, Genderqueer, Bisexual, Demisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Twospirit, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Allies, Pansexual and Polyamorous) and questioned whether or not it was real. It was. This is indeed a notice that was used to publicize an EFTO-run inclusiveness training session. I’m not sure what’s going on in Canada but when I grew up there as a youngster there were just two such groups: M&F.


A Chip Off The ‘Ole Blockhead: An old high school pal reminds me that black politically controlled cities in America are similar to the principalities in Europe of the last 1,000 years. If you are the boss, king, or number one you pass it on to your son. U.S. House Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), who for weeks has been the target of sexual misconduct allegations, announced that he will retire from the House. Conyers, the lower chamber’s current longest-serving member, told a Detroit-area radio station that he is endorsing his son, John Conyers III, for his seat. If Democrats ever regain the majority in the House or Senate again I’m sure that Democrats being Democrats will try to pass legislation to do away with time-consuming and costly elections and make their seats hereditary.


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Sean McCarthy, Hot Shot-Carter and Ernie Ealum One of the island’s most popular and talented groups will perform downtown this evening (Dec. 8) at the 3rd Street Green Turtle, starting at 7  while just a block over folks can listen to the equally popular Hupp Huppman as he takes the PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden stage at about the same time. PJ Dave tells me that 10 percent of his profits from this evening’s take will be donated to Authentic Impact, an organization that provides food to the needy. Check ’em out at And Tony Merz, an entertainer I’m not familiar with, will perform at the Sandbar this evening also at 7. Oh, and the delightful downtown Dickens on Centre starts today at 5 p.m. and runs through Sunday. Wear something warm, bring an umbrella and extra cash. At 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, the Sandbar features the popular Macys, with my favorite, Kathy Maphey, who has what I believe is the best stage presence of any entertainer around. If you don’t like any of the Friday, Dec. 8 musical choices then head to the Fletcher Ave. Surf where you can do it yourself with Karaoke starting at 7 p.m. And if you want to hang out on the south end of the island, the Amelia Island Wine Company, at 4924 First Coast Highway, has a champagne tasting from 5-7 p.m. tonight, Friday, Dec. 8.

  • Comment (11)
  • Tip O’Neill, long time Speaker of the House once famously said, “All politics is local.”
    I used to believe that, but not so much any more. Here in Minnesota a poll yesterday found that almost 70 percent of the state’s voters side with Al Franken and believe they, not his mostly female Senate colleagues, followed by the ‘me too’ men should decide whether he is qualified to continue to serve. Or at least they think he should be afforded due process through an investigation, perhaps by the Senate Ethics Committee. Those poll numbers include a lot of Republicans as well as his fellow Democrats.
    In the case of Franken the politics appear to be national. In my view nothing Franken did even comes close to meeting the commonly understood definition of sexual harassment. Yet his “friends” throw him under the bus to gain a questionable political “high ground”
    The hypocracy so rampant in this country is nauseating. On the one hand we throw sex at people at every turn. Any 7 or 8 year old can watch pornography freely on the internet. Most movies have at least two or three explicit scenes clearly depicting intercourse, often violent in nature. It’s not hard to find a bar where totally nude women dance for dollar bills. Yet a possibly innocent pat on the butt is verboten?
    And called harassment? Unbelieveable.
    I know I’m rambling, Dave. But I will look forward to a blog that reveals your take on all of this. As I’ve said before, I always enjoy reading your writing. Every bit as good as Garrison Keillor’s. And by the way, I knew Garrison. A real talent, but he was an asshole. Nevertheless he doesn’t deserve the treatment he got, either.

    • Minnesota native Bill Dean is a former Army buddy and a newspaper colleague of mine. He is a talented writer, former PBS employee and a writer producer, and creator of many documentary TV shows.

  • Dave, I’m sure that Neal Freeman gave a great presentation at the recent We the People event and I wish I had heard it. I wanted to give a shoutout to his son, James, who writes a daily piece in the Wall Street Journal opinion section section called “Best of the Web”. As a very thoughtful writer with a nuanced sense of humor he comments on various topics as presented by other sources. I highly recommend the article.

    Obviously, I know nothing about haiku, but here is mine anyway.

    what we all know
    there is too much no
    no, no doctor “no”

  • Amazon has: Skirmishes Hardcover – September 4, 2017
    by Neal B. Freeman (Author)
    5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
    See all formats and editions
    from $193.66
    2 Used from $193.66
    1 New from $223.70
    Wonder how many copies have been sold? I was the Young Republican Nat’l Committeewoman from my state for 8 years prior to moving to FL. Hard to get more conservative than I, and I was a delegate to two national conventions. However, I never bought a book for that amount that wasn’t extremely rare. Can’t wait to see if the library has it in stock. Still, I wish I had been able to go to Deb’s to listen to the speaker.

    • Ms. Wyatt, I just heard that Neal Freeman’s book “Skirmishes” is now available in our local Centre Street Book Loft for a not so lofty $25. Tell your friends and those that you want as friends.

  • Dave, as now a non-resident I don’t have a dog in the city commission election hunt, but in the interest of “fair and balanced” I think some additional comments are in order. I have only met Chip one time when I was back visiting and have never met Orlando, so I can’t really speak about their personality. While I did not think Chip’s filing an administrative appeal had much of a chance, the underlying tenants about the requirements in FL statutes and the Comprehensive Plan are pretty straightforward and the City did not fulfill those requirements. That being said, I put a lot of the blame on the City in that if the City had approved an R-2 zoning for the Sauer’s as they wanted, all would have been fine. In fact, you go to any city planning primer and it will advocate a “step down” process in zoning from a pure industrial or commercial zoning designation down to some form of zoning permitting residential usage. For reasons I don’t fully understand as I haven’t viewed all the documents, the City Planners pushed for an expansion of the Central Business District (C3) which other than an industrial designation, is about the most intensive zoning there is in terms of allowable height, parking requirements (or lack thereof) and zero setbacks; instead of providing the R-2 zoning. Of course, some say the reason was that they were influenced by developers who wanted the more intensive usage in order to gain the highest profit from redevelopment. I don’t believe there are many, if any, of those structures that are considered as “contributing” structures so there would be very little problem in being able to demolish the existing structure and rebuild.
    Always a chance of surprise, but I believe that Orlando will win by a large margin as there is a lot of historical precedent to the leader of the general election not winning a run-off; but when there is a poor overall turnout, they will sometimes win if they can keep their troops rallied.
    On another note, when a resident I was also an active member of the Concerned Friends of Fernandina and our “membership” was a diversity of citizens; some such as Ron & Julie were strong environmental activists while others, such as myself, were a bit more centric (some would say we were all eccentric). But CFOF was instrumental in getting the “Greenway” bond approved, keeping the City’s tree ordinance from being neutered, protecting beach accesses, holding candidate forums and other activities which most would agree have help make FB the wonderful place that it is.
    All the best,

  • Gosh, Dave. I’m touched, touched I say. All we need do now is join hands around the downtown Christmas tree and sing “Fah who for-aze! Fah-who for-aze! Welcome Christmas! Welcome Christmas!”
    We could sell tickets to the event and donate the money to charity.

  • Hi Dave. Great to be back on Amelia. Like the Giants over the Dodgers { Thompson HR } or Jets over Baltimore Colts { Joe over Johnnie } I’m putting all my money behind Orlando.
    Had a great NYC trip.
    PS, Cal in Quality for rehab. Rm. 172B


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