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When will we see Warning Labels on Processed Meats?

When I was diagnosed with colon cancer less than a year ago, I thought it would be a good idea to immediately stop eating processed meats. As a kid who grew up on bologna sandwiches, Vienna sausages, and summer sausage, it was much easier to give up than I thought. A few years ago, we gave up fast foods, TV dinners, and most canned vegetables in an attempt to lose weight and eat healthy. When I began managing the local farmers market in September 2012, eating fresh, local and seasonal produce became second nature. Apparently, our changes in diet didn’t come soon enough for me.

Processed meat
In October 2015, the month after my diagnosis, the media reported that processed meat was classified as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans. Tobacco smoking and asbestos are also placed in this same class. Group 1 classification means there is sufficient and convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer.

So, why is there not a warning label on our lunch meat, hot dogs, canned meats, corned beef, and ham? Other meats are included, too, such as meats that have been transformed through processing ie: curing, salting, fermentation, smoking etc… they are all considered “processed meat”.

Red meat
Red meat is now classified as Group 2A – this means it is probably carcinogenic to humans. Health officials have long been telling the public to reduce their red meat consumption for a variety of health concerns, but now they suspect that red meat probably causes cancer, too?

If the World Health Organization says red meat probably causes cancer, and processed meats do cause cancer, I think there should be a warning label on these packages just like we see on cigarettes.

What if we just cook the Hell out of our meats, will that make it okay to eat? Nope – in fact, if you expose your meats to flame and high temperatures, it may even increase the risk – but the factual evidence leaves the experts with mixed opinions on that topic.

At the risk of repeating myself, please let me be perfectly clear, the World Health Organization says that epidemiological studies have shown eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer in humans. Period! Yet, they hesitate to make new recommendations regarding nutritional guidelines. The current recommendation is to moderate consumption of processed meats mostly to reduce the intake of fat and sodium, which are risk factors for obesity and cardiovascular disease. New guidelines aren’t expected until 2021!

Your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with the amount of processed meats you consume. “An analysis of data from 10 studies estimated that every 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18%.”

Well, how much is a serving compared to a 50 gram portion? A serving size of beef, considered to be 2 to 3 ounces of cooked, lean meat, by the American Heart Association, equals 75 grams, which is more than the 50 gram portion described above… not good news, huh?

In a January 2016 interview, Syndicated Columnist and Investigative Reporter Amy Goodman (host of Democracy Now!) reported, “Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer of the American Cancer Society, recently commented ‘The science on the link between cancer and diet is extensive. By omitting specific diet recommendations, such as eating less red and processed meat, these guidelines miss a critical and significant opportunity to reduce suffering and death from cancer.'”

Personally, I want anyone who reads this to know, I had colon cancer, and I remember very specifically saying, “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.” It was a horrible experience!

Some are even blaming the Obama administration for keeping this issue out of the spotlight. While many of the lobby donations to candidates have been to republicans, the highest presidential recipient, from meat processing and products donations, has been to Hillary Clinton.

Should you stop eating processed meats? Red meats? That is your decision, but I won’t wait for the government to publish new nutritional guidelines before I choose what to feed to my family.

Voting, Politicians, and the Salaries they Get Paid

Voting, Politicians, and the Salaries they Get PaidYou know it is election time because everywhere you look it is shoved in your face. From yard signs and bumper stickers, to billboards and television commercials, you just can’t escape the “noise”.

I vote, I have always voted, and God willing, I will always be capable of voting – it is my right and I choose to believe my vote counts!

Sorting out the options to select a candidate takes a little research on my part. I want to be confident that I’m selecting the names that best reflect my views. When I choose a candidate, I hope to select a leader – not someone who hops on this bandwagon, or that bandwagon, I am voting for “leaders” to help “lead” MY country in the best direction.

I will be voting in person, at my precinct, on August 30th, so I don’t have a lot of time to finish making my decisions.

Typically, I do not vote for the professional politicians. If you live the lifestyle of a politician for too long, how can you still relate to the “common” folk?

According to a document found on senate.gov, “The most recent pay adjustment for Members of Congress was in January 2009. Since then, the compensation for most Senators, Representatives, Delegates, and the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico has been $174,000.” The salary for a few others, Speaker of the House and House Leaders, for example, is higher. Representatives also receive a Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) to support their official duties such as $944,671 for personnel, a variable amount of official office expenses, and official mail. “The 2014 allowances ranged from $1,195,554 to $1,370,009, with an average MRA of $1,255,909.” The same document stated.

When we vote, we often times are electing someone to receive one hell of a paycheck!

Local level politicians are paid using a state mandated formula, based on the relevant population of their district, to calculate salaries. Florida’s elected officials and full-time members of commissions have set salaries ranging from $45,000 for Public Employees Relations Commission Commissioners, to $130,000 for the Governor.

Take a look at this chart… (click on the image to enlarge it) no wonder we have professional politicians! (Some salary figures may not reflect any special qualification salary available or performance salary incentives. That research is above MY pay-grade.)

salaries-county-school-officials-florida

Click the image to enlarge

When I am selecting candidates to vote for on a local level, I find it amusing to look at the relationships between the politicians; past, present and potentially future. Some connections are obvious like Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper and his brother Danny Leeper who is running for County Commission. Others, are not so obvious, but maybe I’ll save that for another article.

Please vote on August 30, 2016, but take the time to learn about each candidate before you cast your ballot; I know I will!

Everybody Has a Hungry Heart

13 Candidates and Look who's in the middle!

13 Candidates and Look who’s in the middle!

There is so much to write about, yet there is so little interesting stuff in the mainstream media that does not fall short of just rehashing what others like the local bi-weekly deem earth shattering. The wisdom in Bruce Springsteen’s song Everybody has a hungry heart (for publicity) still rings very much true.

It’s too late to talk about the idiot county clerk in Kentucky who thought it more important to use her religious beliefs to defy a law, than just doing the job she was hired to do. It’s also last week’s news to re-distribute my opinion on a Muslim airline stewardess (yeah I know I PC date myself. So what!) who for religious reasons refuses to serve alcohol to a passenger.

I’m way too late to call governor Chris Christie a bozo of incredulous stupidity after he announced that he was going to ask Fred Smith of Fedex founder glory to develop a tracking system for visitors to the US, as a deterrent to overstay their welcome. He actually said: “We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in.”

Oh, I’m sure foreign visitors will be amused when getting a surgically removable bar code sticker slapped on their arm and they get tracked like in the good old Soviet Union.

As a presidential contender, Governor Christie would have been smart to first consult with the US Commerce Department’s “National Travel and Tourism Strategy” , which has set out to attract 100 million visitors by the year 2021, with a total estimated contribution to our economy of $250 billion (Note: that’s only $250 per visitor; a little low in my opinion considering that many come off an expensive transatlantic/pacific flight and will spend a minimum of 7 nights in this country. Ergo I’d like to find a copy of the book ” Vacation the US on $35 a day”.)

Moving on, it’s probably too late to get on the Trump Train, because the man by now has alienated at least half of the population, in spite of his questionable frontrunner position in the GOP. Do the math people and you will see there is no chance in hell he’ll get into the White House, and if he does by an act of sheer insanity, have your exit plan ready, because a Wall works both ways to keep people out and keep people in. Ask former East Berliners and Iron Curtain countries how that works.

So in search for earth shattering news I turn to the local bi-weekly and find the front page covered with a bold title that says that the “Horses on Cumberland could be removed or fenced.

Wow, hold your horses (no pun), what idiot came up with that idea? Who is trying to erect a statue for himself here?

One paragraph into the story however it dawns on me that Park service superintendent Gary Ingram, is a smart man, who is testing the waters, much in the same way as the City commissioners tested the idea of parking meters on the beach several years ago. “It’s not on the radar anytime soon,” Ingram said, thereby avoiding a huge backlash, while still indicating that at some point in the future the wild horses will be a part of the Cumberland history; just as much as the horses history is not really native wild.

The center part of the homepage (right in-the-fold as we would call it online) delivers two stories about land swaps and government indecision that already scream boredom straight off its headlines, so when my eyes get distracted by the story of a former local announcing a presidential bid at the bottom of the page, I get excited. Steve Comley, a Massachusets native who bought a condo in Piper Dunes North in the mid 1990s, calls our local paper on August 31 with the news that he just filed a bid to run for the 2016 presidential election. How exciting!

But then comes the frown of confusion as I read that it took 10 days to arrange for a phone interview about his reasons for filing. That’s a little odd. Was the Labor Day weekend such an obstacle for a more timely interview or is 10 days old news still news? Excitement level drops to luke warm. When I read in the Newbury Port News that his appointed campaign manager is Jesus Christ, my eyes start rolling back into my head and when his paranoia embraces the NRC and Nuclear Power lobby as omni powerful, my deepest sentiments start wondering why this person gets so many columns in our local newspaper. It must be cucumber time as we say in the Netherlands.

Doing a little more research on Mr. Comley I find a 2004 article from well-known islander Jack Healan in the Jacksonville Business Journal, shedding a one sided light on the pitfalls for Florida out-of-state condo-owners. Aside from once again observing how influential people use their version of economic benefits and employment to get laws passed, I only learn that Mr. Comley was at best a part time resident of the island. Reading on I learn that Mr. Comley has a beef with the security behind nuclear energy, that he uses the military bandwagon like any other ambitious politician and that he envies Donald Trump media savvyness. Boredom by this time is making me want greasy fast food and a chance to kick someone of perceived importance.

Mr. Comley is a boring man with a conservative streak and a heart in the right place and as confused as anyone these days about economy, international affairs, energy, environment and procreation, who indulges in the fact that GOP frontrunner the Donald (that nickname used to be reserved for Donald Duck, wonder what he thinks these days) agreed with one of his nuclear fear mongering statements.

Turtle News

So in desperation my eyes wander to the bottom of the newspaper, still anxiously looking for something more than propaganda and sales messages and I see a piece of news that attracts my attention: Our Turtle Season sofar has produced 201 nests with 12,192 hatches, almost 50% more than in 2014. In addition to being news, that would have been qualified as good news if I hadn’t seen a special on PBS yesterday that declared most Sea Turtle Species to be extinct within the next 15 to 20 years. WHY?

Well first of all, scientific research indicates that now anywhere from 1 out of 7,000 to 1 out of 4,000 hatchlings will make it to sexual maturity of the age of 10. Netting, ocean contamination, crimping beaches, debris, obstacles and plastic; there are so many human barricades, that turtles are doomed from the start.

Now there is another problem added to the situation: it is reported that due to global warming increase of about 2°F over the last 10 years, turtle nests on the beaches now produce many more female offspring than male; actually to the rate of almost 10 to 1.

So reality reveals that out of the harvest of 12,192 hatchlings, one to two would actually live long enough to start reproducing at around age ten. Yes global warming and the rising of sea levels is a very serious problem and will effect the way we live sooner, rather than later, especially on a small barrier island.

Back to politics and the games we play: Maybe I think too much – I have definitely been accused of that “shortcoming” on more than one occasion. Maybe I just see only the negative, and yes that too has been put on my plate more than once. Yet when I got that defining clear moment during the presidential debates on TV last night, I saw the best candidate to lead this country loud and clear. This candidate could and would bring back the times when this country was the undisputed leader, guided by probably the best task dividing, value supporting and respect restoring writing in the history of mankind: The Constitution. The fighter for freedom and the provider of opportunities for everyone. I saw Carly Fiorina’s power of the word, Donald Trump’s entertainment value, Ben Carson clear thinking and humanity, Scott Walker’s energy and will to try and take responsibility, Jeb Bush’s intelligent experience and Rand Paul with the guts, honesty and down to earth thinking that runs in the family. This country is too big to be sitting on the shoulders of one person, who carries the responsibility, even if his name would be Frank Underwood.

Explanation of Police Harassment From Chula Vista

Explanation of Police Harassment From Chula VistaFound on the internet, original author is unknown.

Recently, the Chula Vista, California Police Department ran an e-mail forum with the local community (a question and answer exchange) with the topic being, “Community Policing.” One of the civilian e-mail participants posed the following question: “I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually harass people and get away with it?”

From the “other side” (the law enforcement side) Sgt. Bennett, obviously a cop with a sense of humor replied:

“First of all, let me tell you this… it’s not easy. In Chula Vista, we average one cop for every 600 people. Only about 60% of those cops are on general duty (or what you might refer to as “patrol”) where we do most of our harassing. The rest are in non-harassing departments that do not allow them contact with the day to day innocents. At any given moment, only one-fifth of the 60% patrollers are on duty and available for harassing people while the rest are off duty. So roughly, one cop is responsible for harassing about 5,000 residents.

When you toss in the commercial business, and tourist locations that attract people from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a single cop is responsible for harassing 10,000 or more people a day.

Now, your average ten-hour shift runs 36,000 seconds long. This gives a cop one second to harass a person, and then only three-fourths of a second to eat a donut AND then find a new person to harass. This is not an easy task. To be honest, most cops are not up to this challenge day in and day out. It is just too tiring. What we do is utilize some tools to help us narrow down those people which we can realistically harass.

The tools available to us are as follow:

PHONE: People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on a person for special harassment. “My neighbor is beating his wife” is a code phrase used often. This means we’ll come out and give somebody some special harassment.

Another popular one: “There’s a guy breaking into a house.” The harassment team is then put into action.

CARS: We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to harass the drivers of fast cars, cars with no insurance or no driver’s licenses and the like. It’s lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing more obvious than running a red light. Sometimes you get to really heap the harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, they are drunk, or have an outstanding warrant on file.

RUNNERS: Some people take off running just at the sight of a police officer. Nothing is quite as satisfying as running after them like a beagle on the scent of a bunny. When you catch them you can harass them for hours to determine why they didn’t want to talk to us.

STATUTES: When we don’t have PHONES or CARS and have nothing better to do, there are actually books that give us ideas for reasons to harass folks. They are called “Statutes” – Criminal Codes, Motor Vehicle Codes, etc… They all spell out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people. After you read the statute, you can just drive around for awhile until you find someone violating one of these listed offenses and harass them.

Just last week I saw a guy trying to steal a car. Well, there’s this book we have that says that’s not allowed. That meant I got permission to harass this guy. It’s a really cool system that we’ve set up, and it works pretty well. We seem to have a never-ending supply of folks to harass. And we get away with it. Why? Because for the good citizens who pay the tab, we try to keep the streets safe for them, and they pay us to “harass” some people.

Next time you are in my town, give me the old “single finger wave.” That’s another one of those codes. It means, “You can’t harass me.” It’s one of our favorites. Hopefully sir, this has clarified to you a little bit better how we harass the good citizens of Chula Vista.

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Help Evaluate Public Transportation Needs in Nassau County

Help Evaluate Public Transportation Needs in Nassau CountyNassau County, FL – You can help evaluate the public transportation needs in Nassau County, Florida by taking a quick survey.

Nassau County Transit Study
The North Florida Transportation Planning Organization (North Florida TPO), Nassau County and other partners are currently conducting a transit study to evaluate public transportation conditions and needs, and recommend solutions to improve mobility and access for residents and employees within Nassau County, Florida.

Let your voice be heard!
We are interested in learning about your transportation needs and opinions. Please take 3 -5 minutes to complete an online survey. Click on the below link to the survey.

Nassau County Transit Survey

We encourage you to share this survey link with others. The survey will be available online through Sunday, January 25, 2015.

If you have questions about this online survey, you may contact us at TransitStudy@etminc.com.

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Obama Reaction To Paris Terrorists – Terrifying

Paris Protests against Muslim Terrorism

Paris Protests against Muslim Terrorism

By Dave Scott

I’m mystified and frightened by the administration’s reaction to the psychopathic Islamic killers and the President’s and those in his administration’s refusal to call them what they are: psychopathic cold-blooded Islamic murderers, killing on behalf of their religion.
For example, the reaction by President Obama to the slaughter of the 17 journalists, police and others in Paris last week was as weak as his response to the 2009 killings in Fort Hood, Texas by an Islamic American US Army major that he labeled “workplace violence.”
The White House doused its comments in the stench of appeasement and cowardice when spokesman Josh Earnest refused to even call the Paris massacre an act of terrorism, and made sure to add the traditional non-sequitur, which now routinely follows Islamic terrorist attacks,  that “Islam is a religion of peace.” Obama issued his own statement keeping with his prohibition on using the term “Islamic terrorism,” he simply referred to the attack as “terrorism” — a vanilla expression conspicuously devoid of any descriptive term explaining the motivation behind the killings. At least he didn’t label it “workplace violence” but to the uninformed it could just as easily have been an act of eco-terrorism.

And even if Obama did threaten to act would anyone believe him? Remember the “line in the sand” threat to Syrian President Assad? Or his claim that he has decimated al-Qaeda? How about that he will eliminate ISIS? Obama and the apologists in his administration are origami experts, they just keep on folding.
Instead of fighting the Islamic madmen the Obama Administration has declared war on our own CIA and Department of Defense. And at Guantanamo he is releasing these maniacs back onto the battlefield faster than our armed forces could capture them.

The Paris killings are reminiscent of the Muslim reaction over the publishing of a series of cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2006. In that instance homicidal Islamic madmen caused rioting that resulted in scores killed and many embassies attacked and consulates torched. Any western country would do, since Danish flags for burning appeared to be in short supply and not easily identifiable by the ignorant, enraged Muslim mobs. And the heck with political correctness — Norway, the UK, Germany, who cares, all Europeans look alike anyway.

Back then I saw a newscast with a 12 year-old boy in Islamabad, Pakistan sporting a slogan reading “O Allah give me courage to kill the blasphemer.” Apparently his folks went to a Muslim riot and all he got was a crummy “kill an infidel” T-shirt. And who hasn’t seen the videos of Muslims joyfully dancing and cheering in the streets when they heard the “good news” of the 9/11 attacks and when they hear of Christian and Jewish women and children being massacred anywhere, anytime? Muslim Shia and Sunni sects slaughter each other and Christians by the droves in Iraq; Muslims massacre Christian and Jewish women, children and the elderly throughout the Middle East; They kidnap and slaughter classrooms full of young school children all over North Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc; Hijack ships in African waters and kill the crews if ransom isn’t paid; Gleefully behead people and videotape the acts; Continually attempt to blow up passenger airlines; Set off bombs in Boston; Hack policemen to death in New York and London; Kill families and fire rockets into cities in Israel, and on and on.

I can only imagine what these Islamic nuts would do if they wised up and got angry about their own government’s and religious leader’s corruption and totalitarian leadership that perpetuate their economic deprivation, inadequate health care, lack of education and mindless propaganda.
These rampaging hordes aptly reflect the Lenin quote “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” and their leaders have administered an overdose. I have yet to read or hear another logical explanation by anyone that otherwise justifies this Muslim mass horror.

The day after the Paris atrocity USA Today published a column by a London-based Muslim cleric, Anjem Choudary, headlined “People know the consequences” asking why France would allow the paper to mock Islam, and further excused the murders as justified under Islamic law and confirming my belief that Islam is anything but a peaceful religion. He stated in the very first paragraph: “Contrary to popular misconception, Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone. Therefore, Muslims do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression……” Normally I would condemn USA Today for printing such garbage, but by doing so it allowed this nut to verify what many of us already know, and that is that Islam is violent. How would you like to live next door to this fruitcake or any others that think as he does?

At a time when the world is facing a situation as dangerous as the one Nazi Germany and militant Japan posed in the late 1930s and early 1940s we have a President who is probably the least qualified, most inept, naive, and ill-prepared person to ever occupy the White House… a community organizer whose acolytes wind him up, push him on stage then pull the string in his back so he grins and spouts meaningless platitudes. He makes Jimmy Carter look like a fierce warrior. Oh, and just last summer it was announced that a Muslim, Fatima Noor, will be a special assistant in the Office of the Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security. Isn’t that comforting.

And as world leaders united in Paris this past Monday for a million man march displaying unity and voicing their opposition to Islamic terror, the US was conspicuously absent — with only its Paris-based ambassador attending. Some 40 world leaders including Israel’s Netanyahu and even the Palestinian Authority’s Abbas marched, but not Obama, Joe Biden or even John Kerry.

Democrats should be ashamed that their current standard bearer has dismissed the words of President John F. Kennedy who declared, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

The western world appears to be waking up and just maybe this hideous act by psychopathic barbarians in Paris rang the alarm, but apparently not one that can be heard by our do-nothing apologist and Community-Organizer-In-Chief who we are stuck with until January 2017, a very long and frightening two years distant.

Dave Scott writes a weekly blog at www.davescottblog.com

 

Publisher’s Note: Maybe some of our readers disagree with using the Searchamelia platform to express an opinion of such grave  consequence, but with the writer of this opinion, it is our belief that tolerance is a virtue that can only be earned through respect and understanding. Fanatics of all religions (except a small number of Eastern Religions) have historically tried to impose their absurd, maniacal beliefs on the world. They were always met with overwhelming force that would ultimately eliminate the extremist position. But to get there, it requires decisive, independent, smart leadership and not puppets executing agendas of a different interest.

Life is a Fleeting Fantasy

screenshot

Stories lost in the background universe of Fantasy

What you see in the picture dear reader is a screenshot of one of my 30 inch monitors filled with stories I intended to publish on Searchamelia over time. Mostly true, mostly cynical, mostly infuriating, increasingly defeatist.
Stories about global warming’s effect on wine production, stories about self serving economists/authors like Krugman, Gruber and Friedman who sold out their professional integrity to the highest bidder, stories about how we are losing the republic to the empire, stories about the growing militarization of law enforcement, stories about Bin Laden’s legacy and the crippling price of security, stories about abuse, corruption and simple ignorance, individual tragedy stories such as the one of Orville (Lee) Wollard who is serving a 20 year mandatory minimum sentence for protecting his family against a violent individual in his Florida home by firing a warning shot.  Nobody was injured or hit. But unless Governor Rick Scott grants him clemency, Lee will be in prison until he’s 73, stories about elections and why on the state and federal level elections don’t mean a thing, stories on politicians, bureaucratic choke holds, taxation without representation, the Raisin War, special interest corruption, Big Pharma, Military Industrial Complex and the precious media who sold out critical observation years ago. And more stories about piss poor education results, security requirements in high schools and the size of a required nest egg for retirement.

I realized that none of it really matters when I checked out of the Supermarket the other day when the conversation landed on fuel prices and a short discussion on why and for how long they would stay this low and right then and there I realized that I knew the reasons and answers, but nobody would want to stand there in the check out line for 30 minutes to learn the real why. Life is a Fleeting Fantasy. At that moment my alarm clock went off and I woke up from a nasty dream that began when I was ‘enlisted’ into an experiment what years later became officially known as the Marshmallow Experiment, and was the only one in my group who saw the benefit of delayed gratification. Maybe a story for later.

In the meantime stock markets go up and down, Presidents and heads of State behave as divine rulers with the right to tell people what to do and people believe ever since antiquity that their leaders were (are) divinely appointed – which is really a step up from the believe that they were Gods before.
Today most people believe that God has nothing to do with it. Voters elect their leaders, who do what the public wants them to do.
Or so we think, because we all like to live in a world of Fantasy. And that realization made me wipe my monitor screen clean.

We all play our roles in the big Fantasy: rulers, advisors and recipients.

From the Egyptian Pharaos to Montezuma and Genghis Kahn, from Caesar to Caligula to Charlemagne, from Louis The XIV to Napolean and from George W to Obama, they all played their role in the fantasy. Contrary to previous beliefs I now have to admit that the typical voter is probably no dumber than the typical person he votes for. Voters have better things to do than to study the rampant folderol of the legislative process. It would be time wasted, anyway, because he can do little to nothing about it.

Besides, he is just doing what he should do: playing his role in the fantasy.

French king Louis XIV reportedly believed God gave him his job assignment. The king was supposed to rule; the population of France was supposed to submit to his rule. Each had a role to play.

Likewise in today’s America, the elite who control the workings of the government are supposed to pretend they are acting on behalf of the voters. Voters are supposed to believe it.
Voters could perfectly well understand what is going on if they invested the time and energy to look at it closely.

But what would be the point?

The system depends on the cooperation of the connivers as well as the goobers. Both must work together to make a more corrupt world.
USA Today helped elucidate the mechanics of the fantasy in an article on “dark money” last week.

Big Pharma sets up “advocacy groups” that pretend to be genuine public interest outfits, but whose real purpose is to push drugs.

The nuclear power industry operates a “Clean and Safe Energy Coalition.” It sounds like a citizens’ lobby; in reality it is an extension of the industry’s lobbying efforts.

And the Center for Consumer Freedom is a front for the junk-food industry, says USA Today.

Why do I wanna do something to stop it?

Like an alarm clock going off at 4 a.m., it disturbs the dream.

Lie to Me

 

Suppose they give an election and no one shows

Suppose they give an election and no one shows

As I’m watching yet another set of idiotic political messages on TV, dealing with Charlie Crist’s attacks on Rick Scott’s company illegally feeding from the public trough while Scott’s campaign centers around flipping Crist being responsible for 800,000 job losses during his tenure as Florida’s Governor, I wonder why people love to be lied at, better yet apparently demand it from their leaders.

We already knew about Scott’s shady past before he was elected last time and to make Charlie Crist – not the cleanest one himself either- responsible for 800,000 job losses in Florida, when the world dove into an economic tailspin after the 2008 crash on Wall Street, is ludicrous to anyone with a basic sense of economics. Yet, millions are being spent on these messages trying to sway the voters left or right.
And then my thoughts go to the local political arena and my recent encounter with one commissioner in the local halls of social exchange, the grocery aisles at Publix Supermarket and for a brief moment I actually felt sorry for a certain class of politicians in today’s world; those that chose this path in life out of the urge to create a better society.

The commissioner in question “applied” for his job several years ago with the very best of intentions, wanting to make life in this wannabe Mayberry-town better. But as we talked, I could see that he was worn out and slightly bewildered by the facts that his constituents not really want him to fix things.
I might normally have interpreted that as some kind of excuse, but he seemed especially open at that moment, so I asked him what he thought. He sighed and told me that he really wanted to put some progress and future into this town but when he thought he had an opportunity to actually deliver on most of the things he had campaigned for (reduced government, less meddling in people’s lives, plans for a solid economic future, stuff like that) he quickly learned that whenever the issue became a “tit for that” situation, requiring a small price to pay, nobody stood with him.

“And?” I asked.
He looked at me in a worn out way and said, “No one would pay even a small price or take some minimal action to get what they said they wanted.”
I could only nod as other people we both knew pushed by with their shopping carts. I felt a bit sorry for him and thought there is so much wisdom in song lyrics, softly singing inside my head Jonny Lang’s first hit:
‘Lie to me,
Lie to me and tell me everything is all right
Lie to me and tell me that you’ll stay here tonight
Tell me that you’ll never leave
Oh, and I’ll just try to make believe
Come on and lie to me’.

That brought me to another subject, but I was hesitant to bring it up. Politician or not, this man was feeling a lot of sadness and I didn’t want to pile on. But he always was a stand-up guy, and he got there himself, so I said: “You know what that means, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I do. It means that no matter what they say, they don’t really want change… they’re not willing to ‘suffer’ for it. All their slogans are just brave-sounding words. They need politicians, so that there’s always someone to blame.”

I agreed, even though it’s not often that I feel sorry for a politician, but on this occasion I had to. This man had started with good intentions. And regardless of how badly his electorate had let him down, what really pierced his heart was learning that his voters didn’t really want what they said they wanted. That made everything he was doing meaningless. It’s tough to watch that kind of realization spreading over the face of a guy passing the prime of his life.

Some politicians really do serve as “icons of blame” for a huge number of people. Regardless of which political party you love or hate, there’s always someone to blame for your troubles: The Blues are ruining the world, the Reds are ruining the world, The Tea Party is dangerous, the “establishment” is ruining the world, bureaucracy is ruining the world.

The truth of the matter is that the productive people of the world — those of us who create and supply products and services — have the ultimate say over what happens on this planet. If any serious number of us decided that we really didn’t like what politicians were doing, we could simply withdraw our support and the political systems would crash, rather quickly I would guess. But for what it’s worth, we live in a state of special interests and that’s why this mid-term election is the most expensive one in history: $4 billion dollars of empty promises and slogans!

Tuesday is another election day that no-one is really interested in even though slightly more than $4 billion dollars is spent on this mid-term, which probably get less than half of the registered voters enough energized to make it to the polling stations. And do we really think Crist or Scott are fundamentally different people. In spite of all the slogans and accusations, they are not.

And on the Federal level, to make sure that life stays in the balance of a happy status quo, Washington and the Feds predictably put out some upbeat statements about the economy and GDP last week, so we all( except for realistic economists) can sleep in financial peace, because our wise politicians and their appointees have saved the global economy and everything is fine now. Wall Street goes through the roof on credit and debt, gold is down and the banks still don’t loan, unless you bring a truck load of cash and your first-born with you. In the meantime health insurance premiums go up 10%, Florida Power is granted another 5% billing increase and we’re all scrambling to make ends meet. The price of oil is now down to a price level ($80 a barrel) at which our newly found shale oil operations cannot make profit anymore, so expect a reversal of that Christmas gift to be coming soon.
“Lie to me and tell me everything is all right.”
Yes, I pity the poor politician who seeks office, especially in a small town, to try and improve things, to come and find, that his reason for existence is anchored in a lie. People don’t want to change, they just want someone to blame. Keep that in mind when you’re voting today.

The vast majority of politicians lie, steal, and cause lots of harm, but they persist because people want them to persist.

News-Leader’s Unhinged Editorial

News-Leader's Unhinged EditorialThe Fernandina Beach News-Leader is part of the privately owned Community Newspapers Incorporated chain of weeklies and it can print whatever it sees fit. But there is little virtue in having editorial and news pages that the paper’s masthead says are “…dedicated to the truth, integrity, quality and hard work” and whose aim is to expand the horizons of its readers if those pages contain sycophantic suck-up endorsements and blatantly false claims, and its news pages are edited to paint a picture preferred by a stridently prejudiced publisher and editor on personal vendettas, who knowing they can’t win intellectual arguments, seek to influence opinion by portraying those they oppose with an editing pen dripping with bias, animosity, innuendo and omission. Its editorial pages bear a greater similarity to a psychological disorder than they do to standard political discourse.

The Internet and the online upstart Fernandina Beach Observer newspaper have helped expose the paper’s demonization of those not in its favor, but it is still up to what’s left of the News-Leader’s readers and subscribers to sort the wheat from the chaff, but sometimes they need assistance.

For example, the paper has dutifully been running verbatim press releases on the bottom right front page submitted by candidates running for the Fernandina Beach City Commission. However, readers wouldn’t know if these releases have been edited if they haven’t seen the original press release as was the case with candidate Tim Poynter when the paper’s editor and/or publisher struck the following from Mr. Poynter’s submission: He was the only commissioner to oppose the proposed FY2012-13 city budget that called for both higher taxes (a 15 per cent increase, the highest in ten years) and higher franchise fees.

Maybe that sentence would make the paper’s endorsement by its publisher, Foy Maloy, of the two folks (Charlie Corbett and Sarah Pelican) who have actually increased taxes, but are running on a platform of lowering them, appear awkward and foolish. Maloy also credited Corbett and Pelican with accomplishments (library expansion and train depot restoration) that belong to the last commission which included Poynter and were paid for with funds from the Forward Fernandina project, a program that an obviously confused Maloy criticized with all the finesse of a guy leaping into the nosh pit just as the crowd parted.

But the heartiest yuks came this past this past Wednesday in an above-the-fold front page piece headlined “Restaurateur seeks commission ‘seat'” bylined by the paper’s editor, Michael Parnell, that was a detailed story about all the laws, permitting rules, and regulations that Tim Poynter meticulously followed while opening and expanding his downtown eateries.

Parnell, doing an exceptional imitation of a Mother frantically searching for a Playboy Magazine hidden under her son’s mattress, tried his best to portray Poynter as someone who took advantage of his commission seat to get around the various permitting and regulations, but came up empty handed.

His story asked: “Did the then city commissioner receive favorable treatment from the city in obtaining his permits?” The answer was a resounding “NO.” City Manager Joe Geritty said he didn’t. Parnell even stated that there is “No evidence that Poynter or his businesses acted illegally…” Oh, Parnell failed to mention that Poynter received almost a $10,000 refund on impact fees proving that he paid what was due, but apparently that didn’t fit into Parnell’s story line. He also failed to mention that Poynter laid out thousands of dollars to redo inside and outside doors and storage areas of his existing restaurant to comply with a city inspector on his first day on the job. Oh, by the way, Poynter’s businesses employ some 55 local people, more I’m betting than the News-Leader. So what was the point of the article Mr. Parnell?

Obviously the facts got in the way and Parnell, on a tight deadline, was left with a non-story to plug a gaping hole on the front page that certainly raises questions about the credibility — not of Poynter — but of the paper and Parnell’s “journalistic” credentials. In its rush to print what they hoped would be a scathing expose it ended up scrambling to publish a piece that is an embarrassment to the paper’s owners and its staff and leaves no doubt as to why it is losing subscribers and advertisers faster than passengers abandoning a cruise ship with an Ebola outbreak.

While the News-Leader buries, forgets, ignores or lies about gaffes, misstatements and blunders by the current Curly, Larry and Moe commission trio it enthusiastically and blindly endorses, it comically does pratfalls as it tries to conjure up images of those it opposes as frivolous ne’er-do-wells. News-Leader targets can take comfort in the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s comment: “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

Personally I’m voting for Poynter, a former commissioner and owner of two downtown businesses, whose four kids grew up here and who has a vested interest in the community’s success and understands city government inside and out; and Robin Lentz, a bright and energetic young lady and county educator so dynamic she was named teacher of the year her rookie year and who has two young children she wants to grow up in a vibrant, healthy community that she can help shape.

The Corbett-Pelican duo scare me, because if re-elected they might violate their long-standing political credo of “Don’t just do something. Stand there” — thereby creating havoc within the city.

The saddest part is that ridiculous and insubstantial candidates can run for city office and, until recently, no one ever knew because the News-Leader didn’t report it, worse they endorsed them. That is all changing.

(Dave Scott writes a weekly blog www.davescottblog.com)

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No Ottawa was not an Act of War!

Fear catapults ignorance, which turns to Hate

Fear catapults ignorance, which turns to Hate

I walked into the gym for the cardio part of my newly established exercise regime the other day, when the large flat screens reported that Terror Had Struck in Ottawa and Canada’s parliament had been evacuated. For the entire hour I sweat on my treadmill and rowing machine, the headlines kept screaming of War and Terrorism and Global Threats and more crap that the media machine and its pundits can come up with to keep people chained to fear.
Getting home I researched what was going on in Canada and my eye catches the Wall Street Journal putting out the following under the header Terror in Ottawa:

The Global War on Terror remains very much global. The war now being half-heartedly waged against ISIS and other jihadist groups is not some faraway struggle, but part of a war also being waged on Western streets.

Intentional inference? Executive order? Who allowed the Ottawa event to be escalated into making ignorant people believe it had everything to do with global terror threats?
Where do they even come off sharing this type of pure crap with us, when the truth is so much more trivial?
Why would a single crime, the perpetrator of which is now at room temperature in the morgue and no further threat to anyone, cause a whole nation and its giant neighbor to the south to panic? Yes as it turns out, a man whoclaimed the devil “put voices in his head” has killed military guard in Canada and the news reports war headlines.

Tell me is that war? Is that global terrorism? Is that anything else than another nightly TV episode of CSI or Action News reporting from Jacksonville’s Westside about deadly shootings night after night? If so than damn the torpedoes and let’s all arm ourselves to the teeth and get carry permits. Stop putting fear into the lame brains of those who believe ebola is as easy to catch as a common cold and Isis has landed on the shores of the first coast and is now claiming Canada’s parliament.

And then I calm down and wonder: Why such a hysterical and outsized response from the Wall Street Journal?
Only one reason: Because it pays to sell us fear. Actually fear is the best selling product in the world!
Don’t believe me, then take an honest look at your life and see how much of your budget these days is spent of taxes, goods, products, medecin and services that promise you safety and security. Never mind that if you would actually get entangled in a real threat, none of these products or services will do much of anything to change the outcome.

Hillary Clinton Can Relate to the Common Folks

Hillary Clinton Can Relate to the Common FolksI keep reading and hearing about how 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is weighing in on the side of working class people and the middle class and how she and other party muckity mucks can relate to them, but I’ve yet to see where she or anyone else in her party has defined those terms. If her understanding of working class and middle class is based on her actions, then I think we may be miles apart.

For example, Ms. Clinton received a $250,000 fee, and demanded and received round trip transportation on a $39 million, 16-passenger Gulfstream G450 and the Presidential Suite in her luxury hotel all for her total 90-minute visit, which included her talk to the University of Las Vegas Foundation, according to documents obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal through the state public records law. And she doesn’t travel alone, relying on an entourage of a couple of “travel aides,” and a couple of advance staffers who check out her speech site in the days leading up to her appearance.

According to her contract, Clinton will remain at the event no longer than 90 minutes; will pose for no more than 50 photos with no more than 100 people; and won’t allow any press coverage or video – or audio-taping of her speech. The only record allowed will be made by a stenographer whose transcription will be given only to Clinton. The stenographer’s $1,250 bill, however, will go to the UNLV Foundation. The foundation, meanwhile, is prohibited from advertising the event on radio, TV or billboards. Mail and website ads are allowed, although Clinton staffers must approve in writing any promotional material.

What in the world does this woman have to say that would be of the least bit of interest or benefit to students or the school’s foundation that would be worth this kind of lavish spending? And how can she pretend to “relate” to the working or middle class unless in her bubble world she thinks that’s how they also survive. The size of her fee has come under fire from critics who question the large expense in an era when students are hard-pressed to cover tuition and leave school saddled with massive debt. UNLV student leaders have sent a letter to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which collects the $250,000 fee, asking that Hillary Clinton donate all or part of the money back to the university. They’ve received no reply.

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Monkey Movies Are Dumber Than Those That Make Them

Monkey Movies Are Dumber Than Those That Make ThemWhen I was a young sports writer for the Tampa Tribune many years ago a good friend was the theatre and movie critic who I used to tease about being paid to watch movies and stage plays.

He returned fire saying I was a hypocrite since I picked up a weekly paycheck to attend sporting events, a job that had no value whatsoever as the competitions I reported on had no lasting value.

He had a point, but over the years as I’ve read reviews, of movies in particular, I’ve become convinced that film critics surely must be on the studio’s payroll because their slobbering, over-the-top evaluations of dreadful films and interviews with insipid actors and actresses read like fawning studio press releases and People Magazine pap.

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apesJohn Podhoretz, the movie critic for the conservative Weekly Standard is an exception. If he’s ever done an interview with an actress or actor, I’ve never seen it, and his critiques of films are a delight to read as he takes no prisoners, with his commentary “Monkey Business” in the July 28 issue on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes being one of my favorites.

I saw the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and suggested to my wife, Linda, less than halfway through it, that I go to the box office and request our money back, but she nixed that thought. These days I don’t go to many films, but the reviews of that one were so overwhelmingly positive and the creativity of the 1960s original Planet of the Apes staring Charlton Heston were still vivid in my mind, so I sucked it up and sat through what today I call “that stupid monkey movie.”

Podhortez wasn’t impressed with the film I saw either and his opinion calls this new cinematic disaster, “…the comedy highlight of the summer – even though that’s the last thing it wants to be.” For example Podhoretz questions the film’s logic when he reports that an ape who is supposed to be verging on genius points to San Francisco and says, “Human. Home.” then says, pointing to the suburbs; “Ape. Home.” If they’re so smart asks Podhortez: “Why can’t they speak in complete sentences?”

But my favorite part of his review is when he compares the stupid ape geniuses to the late comedian Ernie Kovacs’ 1950s Nairobi Trio, a threesome of apes that wore bowler hats and long coats, with one conducting with a banana and sucking on a cigar, while the other two played the piano and a drum and they all moved around like they were wind-up dolls. I won’t attend this or any other monkey movie, but I sure would like to see some of those hilarious Nairobi Trio segments again.

(Dave Scott writes a weekly blog www.davescottblog.com that includes musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more.)

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Dave Scott Does Nothing and Still Wins

Dave Scott Does Nothing and Still WinsFor doing absolutely nothing, I won a $50K Car, trips, and more! Or did I?

The other day at our house someone named Alex representing “The Notification Center” called and left a message saying that he had “excellent news” for me.

On the recording he said I “had been selected in an official contest, that I or someone else may have entered in my name” and I had won either a “$50,000 home makeover or $25,000 in cash” but I needed to call 888-207-3176, extension 224 and ask for Alex to claim my winnings.

With visions of a backyard swimming pool and a round-the-world trip dancing in my head, I excitedly did as I was instructed and called the number but was connected to a lady named Lauren, not Alex. She informed me that my name was “pulled” and I had indeed “made the final round and could win either a new vehicle worth $50,000, $25,000 in cash, or a $25,000 shopping spree.” She volunteered that she wasn’t selling anything – not “time shares or travel club memberships.” The home makeover that Alex told me about in his message wasn’t mentioned, and not wanting to appear greedy I didn’t bring it up.

But the goodies were piling up. Lauren added that since I was married, not over the age of 75 and because she was confident that I could pay the taxes on all my loot, that I had also raked in a $100 dinner card, a round trip airfare for two anywhere we wanted to go or a cruise on one of a selection of cruise lines to a variety of locations. To pick up all these goodies my wife and I merely had to travel to 9454 Phillips Highway, Suite #1, 32256 in Jacksonville on Wednesday or Thursday at 3 or 7 pm, fill out a survey, and take a look at something called “Direct Buy Warehouse,” to see all the other stuff we could pick up if we were shopping spree winners. The whole thing wouldn’t take more than 1-1½ hours of our time she said.

Lauren said I wasn’t under any obligation and while there I would pick up a key to see if it was the one that unlocked a box holding the really big prizes. She said I had “a really good chance of winning” and gave me the claim number of ECM1985, and her cell phone number (315) 623-0796, telling me when I asked, that she was in Constantia, NY.

“Darn,” I said, “as excited as I am about all this,” I told Lauren that I was unable to make it since I practice my trick sleeping technique on those days and sadly hung up the phone. However, I’m sure that anyone reading this can take my place next week or later by giving Lauren a call, and you’re welcome to use my claim number. If she answers the phone I bet you’re a winner, and the least you can do is buy me a cold beer for steering you toward this bonanza. Good luck.

(Dave Scott writes a weekly blog www.davescottblog.com that includes musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more.)

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Dave Scott Comments on Steve Nicklaus’ Columns

Dave Scott Comments on Steve Nicklaus' ColumnsDave Scott’s column hit our inbox a little later than usual, but that is fine with us! This week he discusses his feelings about Steve Nicklaus and his recent comments in Steve’s recent columns. Enjoy:

Steve Nicklaus, an island financial adviser who writes a weekly “Steve’s Market Place” column for the Fernandina Beach News-Leader, is an entertaining and fun guy to join for a couple of cold beers, and his columns are well written, interesting and amusing.

I’ve discovered that he is most always factual and rarely lets things get by him. That’s why I was surprised by two of Steve’s recent columns criticizing former Fernandina Beach City Commissioners for a variety of issues that were, in fact, not of their making and giving credit to current commissioners for good works they don’t deserve. In fact Steve just flat out got a lot of the facts wrong or he got them from a source that spun a distorted view.

Here’s my take on Steve’s recent comments:

Golf Course: Steve says the former commission gave Billy Casper Golf a “lucrative $100,000 annual contract that does not contain performance clauses”. In reality the contract is for $84,000 and the RFP (Request for Proposal) and Casper’s proposal contain a lengthy list of clearly stated performance requirements. What Steve should have asked is why the current commission and the city manager aren’t enforcing them and why did this city manager and commission disband the unpaid Golf Course Advisory Board, a group of dedicated golfers who added oversight and know more about the course that the five current commissioners and City Manager Joe Gerrity combined. The RFP itself (10-100), is available at City Hall for those who want to read it, and if Sara Pelican thoroughly read the contract as she recently stated, then perhaps she needs to take a reading comprehension refresher course. There’s probably only one sitting commissioner that knows one end of a golf club from the other.

Downtown Twinkling Lights: They don’t twinkle and never have. Yes, they were removed, but for tree trimming purposes and it was thought that after they were taken down they could be replaced by ground-based lights, a move that two former commissioners tell me they regret as that certainly didn’t work out well. Lights were reinstalled in the trees, not by this current commission, but by the efforts and funds of former mayor and commissioner, Beano Roberts, who deserves a standing ovation.

Impact Fees: Steve says the past commission “secretly assessed $800,000 in impact fees on local restaurants,” when in fact nothing was done in secret since all decisions on impact fees were public. Interested citizens can simply go to the city website and key in “impact fees” in the search field and a fee schedule pops up, not a very good place to keep secrets. However, I do agree with Steve when in his July 9 column he called impact fees “anti-capitalistic fees on new business.”

Felix: Steve says the past commission tried to restrict Felix, our peanut-selling, harmonica-playing, bike-pedaling pal from selling his products downtown. But the city staff blew that one and the commission was late in stepping in and fixing it, but it did get fixed, as it should have, after a great public out-cry.

Forward Fernandina: Steve says the commission “pushed through a $15 million downtown restructuring plan without allowing citizens to vote on it.” The $15 million number appears to have come out of the air with even Commissioner Pelican who was on the commission then, mentioning it but failing to say that she may have heard that number from one of the voices in the head of Commissioner Pat Gass. In fact the resolution was for $6 million, with $2 million eventually being borrowed. In Section 2 of resolution 2011-11-8 signed August 11, 2011 it says “The City of Fernandina Beach City Commission authorizes and directs the city manager to proceed with the implementation of the Strategic Plan which will be funded through non –ad valorem resources including a revenue bond/ bank loan proceeds not to exceed six million ($6,000,000.00) dollars to be made in up to three draws by 2015.” Part of the money was earmarked for the library expansion, which the current commission is now taking undue credit for following through on. Oh, and don’t we elect our elected commissioners to make important decisions for us without tossing them back at us in expensive referendums?

Airport Lawsuit: When the majority of the past commissioners were seated they inherited an airport lawsuit that was already in mediation with a court appointed mediator. They did not, as Steve implies, fight and lose the court battle, as decisions had been made four to six years previously by former commissions to enter into a lawsuit, and by this time is was in the hands of judges and beyond anyone’s control.

Pursuing Taxes and Raising Revenue: Steve claims the past commissioners raised taxes and pursued revenues vigorously to grow government but fails to provide examples. He also conveniently leaves out the fact that the current crop of commissioners approved what may be one of the highest tax increases in the city’s history with a millage rate jump of 15.95 percent, the largest bump since the early 1990s, a rather startling omission.

The Current Commission Balanced The Budget: Um, OK, but he forgets to say that ALL Florida municipalities are required by law to “bring forth a balanced budget” something that decades of commissioners have done, good and bad. Steve’s claim is like saying they got dressed and came to work.

Boardwalk: Again, stretching to find any positive accomplishment by this current commission, Steve credits them with building the new boardwalk at Main Beach. But, as President Obama so famously said “You didn’t build that!” Money for the boardwalk was budgeted for a number of years and its construction was delayed by the Department of Environmental Protection, as the last commission worked to try to get it closer to the beach or at least in the same place as the old one. The boardwalk, like the library, fell into the lap of the current commission and trying to list any of this commission’s accomplishments is similar to listing Hillary Clinton’s while she was a US Senator from NY or US Secretary of State.

This coming election in November will be vital for the city and its residents. Two very qualified, energetic, enthusiastic and intelligent candidates will be challenging two incumbents that need to be shown the door.

Educator, mother, and community volunteer Robin Lentz is running against Sarah Pelican and former commissioner, businessman, and city restaurateur Tim Poynter, is running against the curmudgeonly Charlie Corbett. This city will be much better off without Ms. Pelican and the cranky, clueless Corbett and will, in my opinion, see a marked improvement with Mr. Poynter back on board and Ms. Lentz adding a refreshing new face.

I know both Ms. Lentz and Mr. Poynter and I truly believe that they will do more than bring a “to do list” with them to the commission chambers, but instead will work to draw up long-range, realistic goals that best serve the community and make the most efficient use of our tax money.

It’s time to break up the Curly, Larry and Moe majority that has turned the commission chambers into a burlesque venue, and get on with seriously representing the citizens of the city and run its affairs without the nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

(Dave Scott writes a weekly blog www.davescottblog.com that includes musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more.)

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Trailer Park Home Owners’ Association

Trailer Park Home Owners' AssociationIn a recent comment to my blog (www.davescottblog.com) city resident and tax payer Bill Kremler asks some interesting questions about the $8,000 the Fernandina Beach City Commissioners gave to local gadfly Lynn Williams for a Water Injection Dredging (WID) project saying:

“Are we, as tax payers supposed to pay for equipment that Lynn Williams allegedly purchased to do a job that he was hired for? And also are we to pay for his travel expenses, to where, may I ask!! And are the items which were purchased (pump, valves, and gauges), now the property of the city of Fernandina Beach or will they remain with the contractor? My point is this, when a contractor is hired, doesn’t he bring along the tools to do the job.””

Mr. Kremler makes some valid points as I’ve never expected to pay for a contractor’s tools or travel expenses for work they do on my house or car. But the city agreed in a document signed May 15, 2013 that materials purchased will remain the property of Williams and David Cook. How come, since the tax payers paid for them?

If this $8,000 Water Injection Dredging (WID) idea has drawn critical local media attention and angst among his supportive Curly, Larry and Moe trio of city commissioners it should set off alarm bells about what else might be going on with our tax dollars down at city hall on a much larger scale.

I’m sure that Lynn Williams is indeed a fine person with good intentions; however, I also believe that this “water injection dredging” concept or “the miracle mud machine” as I’ve heard others refer to it, is all wet for a variety of reasons and here’s why:

In a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the City Manager Joe Gerrity, City Attorney Tammi Bach, Williams, and David Cook it says in item number 3 that “Williams and Cook agree to provide a prototype equipment suitable for test and demonstration of WID” and in item 4 Williams and Cook agreed that they will deliver a report with photographs describing the apparatus, test work and results at the conclusion of their work. That was well over a year ago.

They must not be anywhere near close to completion because nothing has been photographed or reported to date and when Williams was asked for an accounting by Mayor Ed Boner last month, he became testy and the Curly, Larry and Moe trio of commissioners supported his lack of activity, with one, Pat Gass, falling all over herself apologizing for the mayor’s inquiry. What’s up with that?

What happened to the $30,000 worth of dredging studies conducted by Advanced Technology Management (ATM) that was submitted in November 2011 that included a Water Injection Dredging solution? And why didn’t the city hire a company adequately staffed and qualified in WID operations instead of the Williams one-man-show?

Why did the city have to pay for a $250 permit to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the WID project modifications this past March? Why didn’t that come out of the $8,000 given to Williams?

Why did Mr. Gerrity in a May 15, 2014 memo to Beverlee Lawrence of the Army Corps of Engineers in response to her inquiries on the WID project say, “We want to avoid costs and time in responding to a request for public notice?”

From everything I’ve seen the only activity that’s taken place to date is Mr. Williams showing a promotional video of a Dutch firm’s WID capabilities at a commission meeting last month and signing a check made out to him and depositing it in his personal bank account on May 31, 2013. With the exception of Mayor Boner and Johnny Miller, the other three city commissioners have only criticized those that question the city’s funding of this project who are asking Mr. Williams to account for the tax money he received.

And since the city insurer’s risk management authority said the WID experiment should not be conducted on city property due to liability issues, where is David Cook in all of this? His property south of the city’s marina was supposed to be the site of the test, and he signed the MOU, but he has been suspiciously quiet and no recent correspondence I’ve seen includes him. If Mr. Cook’s property isn’t involved where will this WID test take place?

Local attorney Clinch Kavanaugh interestingly and colorfully described this situation when he told me that the current chaotic city management resembles a cross between “a Criminal Enterprise and a Mobile Park Home Owner’s Association.”

Folks, you need to attend some of these city commission meetings to track the use of your tax money, ask questions, and then vote in the November local elections for those you think will be the best stewards of your cash. From what I’ve seen it is not the Curly, Larry and Moe trio currently Nyuking it up at city hall.

***

But This Group Deserves A Medal: One city organization that works like a well oiled machine is the Fernandina Fire Department under Chief Jason Higginbotham, which I credit along with my wife, Linda, for saving my life when I suffered a stroke last August 11. This professional group of no-nonsense responders were inside our house about two minutes after I hit the floor and Linda called 911, and they had me hooked up to a variety of devices and on the way the Jacksonville’s Baptist General’s emergency room and its stroke victim ICU, which they were in constant communications with from the ambulance. But the other day I wondered out loud to Commissioner Johnny Miller why both an ambulance and fire truck responded and he posed that question to Chief Higginbotham, who said there are a variety of very good reasons; including the fact they never really know what they may face when responding to an emergency. For example, they could be up against anything from a HazMat incident to a high angle and confined space rope rescue with broken bones, even with a stroke or heart attack victim. If, like me, you need these folks in a hurry you won’t care if they bring along a platoon of Navy Seals and the Radio City Rockets, because they know what they are doing and they are the most polite and proficient city employees I’’ve dealt with anywhere I’ve ever lived and that covers a lot of territory. So, if you see an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing near you pull over and be thankful we have such an expert staff available to serve us. This is tax money well spent and I don’t begrudge a dime of it, in fact these people are probably under paid.

(Dave Scott is a resident of Fernandina Beach, writes a weekly blog www.davescottblog.com, and can be reached at davidnscott@bellsouth.net)

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