Trailer Park Home Owners’ Association

Trailer Park Home Owners' AssociationIn a recent comment to my blog ( 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, and can be reached at

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Conservative Columnists, the Redskins, and Will

Conservative Columnists, the Redskins, and WillMedia On Offense Against Offensive

The nation’s media is on the offense to protect the public from what they consider “offensive.”

Editors of several major newspapers in California, Washington State, and Oregon have said they will no longer allow “Redskins” to be used in print in their publications and syndicated columnist George Will’s opinion is no longer welcome in the pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The papers dropping “Redskins” from their reporting say they are doing so because they consider the 80-year-old name “offensive,” while the Post-Dispatch announced that it would no longer carry Will’s column, because a recent one argued that colleges’ efforts to combat sexual assault made being a campus rape victim a “coveted status” and they considered that offensive.

Amelia Island resident, friend and former Associated Press Correspondent Rick Scott says he sees this as “an example of intolerance in the newspapers, which apparently feel now that THEY too must always be politically correct.”

Says Mr. Scott, “When they say they are dropping a column (Will’s) because it’s offensive, they should just say it’s offensive to them. By the way, this would make me wonder how much other news is kept out because the editor finds it offensive. My point is it’s not offensive to everyone. So I guess newspapers now print only the news that, in its opinion, is not offensive to a majority/plurality of its readers!

“In my journalism days, we EXPECTED to offend readers (whether we agreed with a story or not) because it was believed important for readers to get all sides of a discussion in order for democracy to work. I guess that’s just considered nonsense in these polarized times.”

Will’s column offered an anecdote from a student at Swarthmore College, in which a woman reported a rape after a former sexual partner wouldn’t take no for an answer. Will implies that because the incident occurred “with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months,” she wasn’t sexually assaulted. “Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped,” Will wrote in his column about the Swarthmore student.

I don’t – and neither does George Will or Rick Scott – defend the crime of rape. What Will is saying is that campus rape victims enjoy a privileged legal status because they are not required to prove anything or present any evidence to slur for life a man’s name and character and deprive him of an education. It’s kind of a modern-day form of lynching.

The Washington Redskins football team is being lambasted by many journalists and their editors for its eight-decade-old name they have now deemed offensive.

As Washington Times sports editorial correctly says “The Redskins name controversy is not about discrimination, it’s about power, pure and simple. Power, that is, for politically correct bullies to impose their view of what everybody else should and should not be permitted to say. The latest salvo from the bullies came from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), which cancelled six Redskin trademarks.”

The Times adds, “It is preposterous to claim that anybody in America watching the Redskins on any given Sunday is doing so while savoring the horrors of Wounded Knee or lamenting Custer’s death at Little Big Horn. “This reality is why the claim that the name ‘Redskins’ perpetuates discrimination is a politically motivated pretext for nullifying the First Amendment and handing control over speech to politicians and bureaucrats in the nation’s capital.

As the editorial noted, the escalating tactics being used against the Redskins in recent months increasingly involve application of the full force of the federal government, including threatened prosecution by the FCC and the prospect of the IRS revoking the team’s tax exemption.

Closer to home, in the June 20 issue of the bi-weekly Fernandina Beach News-Leader Editor Michael Parnell in a lead editorial criticizing the dedication of a downtown statue to honor David Yulee began his anti-Yulee opinion saying, “I hate to agree with our former columnist Dave Scott on anything…”

My two-year-old weekly column, for which I wasn’t paid, was dropped from the paper in January because I was told “it was too heated” and some found it “offensive” and it is now obvious that one of those was the paper’s editor, Mr. Parnell. I was told once by the News-Leader publisher, Foy Malloy, that “our readers either hate you or love you Dave, there’s no in between.” So the ones that loved it lose, same as with Redskins fans and St. Louis readers of George Will’s commentary, not that I’m putting myself in their esteemed company, but am simply using my column’s cancellation as an example of how many of those that advocate for freedom of speech, only advocate it for those that think as they do.

It’s sad that the media, that were once the American public’s watchdogs have morphed into “politically correct bullies.”

(Dave Scott is a resident of Fernandina Beach, writes a weekly blog, and can be reached at

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Idiocracy is sneaking its way into the Dictionary

KK Klan at Paris WeddingIdiocracy is the sum of so many things that are wrong with America these days. While dictionaries and thesauruses are still struggling with a clear definition of the term that was magnified by the 2006 movie of the same name, the irony of the satirical flick must have escaped from the feeble minds of the KK Klan (Kanye and Kim Kardashian) and a couple of million Instagrammers, who expressed a liking for their atrocious wedding picture in front of a wall of flowers.

But of course as with everything that borders on insanity, this is not the end of the story, but merely the beginning.
Normally I just ignore anything that involves Paris Hilton’s trash successor Kim Kardashian, because trash is just that to me: something to be discarded as not useful or usable. But since I cannot find anything worth my attention on 600 channels of Prime Time TV this summer, I get bombarded by images of the proof that if you put nipples on 10 pounds of lard, the world stops turning, the newsmedia become mindless entertainment and every talentless hick without anything to show for becomes a celebrity.

Just a shame that this time it involves Annie Leibowitz, the artist celebrity photographer of a generation, with a track record of imagery excellence since before this world turned into an idiocracy.

She ruined KK’s honeymoon, says rapper husband West….because they had to spend four days fixing a hideous floral wall wedding picture instead of enjoying the beaches and high life afforded to them by mindless millions of fans. Kimmie apparently was too exhausted from working on correcting the photo to perform her wifey duties, which in turn pissed the other K off. Turns out that Leibowitz decided in good taste, that even though she accepted the gig to shoot the wedding, she refused to take this particular picture, which apparently was then taken by someone in the wedding party who had no idea about lighting, composition and artistry. Result, the couple spend 4 days trying to make sense of Photoshop to improve the disaster.

Now I’m not really surprised by Mr. West continuing poor attitude but I am shocked that Miss Leibovitz said yes to shooting one of the trashiest couples walking the planet these days. It’s almost as if she was hired to give real world validity to this extravaganza of futility.

I do wonder why these two still exist in the world of media and find it sad that we lose good people in plane crashes or disappearances, quickly forgotten to all but their direct relatives, yet these two morons who should spend four days fixing their IQ’s, continue to exist on magazine covers and homepages.

Of course I’m fighting a lost battle against Idiocracy, as witnessed by 2 million likes and 35,000 comments on another Internet waste called Instagram.

Here are two photographs by Annie Leibowitz, who I consider the best artistry photography alive today. Because of her talent the KK Klan made it to the cover of VOGUE and that saddens me to no end.

Johnny DeppSopranos

8th Street The Road More Traveled

8th Street The Road More Traveled By: Philip Griffin

Sitting in my office on 8th Street and watching the cars drive by, I have to wonder if the occupants are thinking the same thoughts I have when I drive the street, “What happened to this street that makes no one willing to invest in its future?” For many first time visitors to Amelia Island this 4 mile stretch of abandoned and worn out properties is unfortunately the first view they see on their way to “historic downtown Fernandina Beach”.

Rather than being a gateway to the downtown it has slowly decayed into a gauntlet of rundown shabby buildings and empty sites that is stuck in the past.

Why should anyone care about 8th street if they don’t own property, live or work there? The answer is because a healthy and beautiful 8th street is good for everyone. A revitalized strip would provide a clean and pleasant welcome mat to visitors and locals alike. Imagine a street lined with attractive buildings, beautifully landscaped businesses offering services, retail and even housing to meet the needs of residents and tourists. For locals a new and improved 8th street would mean job creation, higher property values, more tax revenue and the loss of an eyesore. To visitors and south Amelia Island residents a new 8th street would add joy to the drive and maybe give folks a reason to stop and shop or dine on their way to Centre Street. A pretty street is a happy street for all.

The positive benefits of improving a scarred and tarnished area anywhere in Fernandina Beach or on Amelia Island can also become the catalyst for more beautiful things to come. Investment tends to be contagious and could easily spread to neighboring streets and lead to revitalization of an even larger area, including the long blighted “just off Centre Street” CRA. Thinking of blighted streets and neighborhoods as a cancer that affects all of us is the only way for us to band together and make the needed changes.

Want to contribute to this endeavor? We need your input and guidance. Recently, a group of concerned citizens teamed up with representatives from Fernandina Beach and Nassau County to come up with a plan for revitalization. The New 8th Street group plans to meet monthly to envision and then implement a plan for the future. We will examine why no one wants to invest, what needs to change and how can the public and private sector work together to make it happen.

Please add your comments by taking a quick survey at and stay informed on progress by going to and look for updates on the home page or join us in future meetings.

The group’s next meeting will be in City Hall commission chambers beginning at 3:30 on Tuesday July 15, 2014. Other group members will be offering viewpoints in future issues so stay posted.

Philip Griffin frequently writes articles on public policy and business matters. He is a licensed commercial real estate broker on Amelia Island, Florida and has a degree in Business Economics from Syracuse University. He can be reached at

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A Commencement Speech That Tells The Truth

Balancing on top of the World

Feeling Like You’re On Top of the World

Oh I know, this third installment of my trilogy about Higher Learning, is not going to make me a bunch of friends. By contrast I expect to be severely flogged for the following observations, especially from a good number of friends and acquaintances proudly parading their graduating offspring on Facebook. Graduation has become a sort of Rite of Passage to include fun, partying and a little bit of nostalgic reflection of a childhood that is now over. In essence the tender formative years of the graduating child are supposedly over and life’s reality comes at you with the speed of a bullet.
I know, I’ve been there; did the expected, High School, College all the way up to post doctorate. In the much more sober culture of my tender years (Dutch), commencement speeches were unknown. Coming across the pond almost 35 years ago, I was invited to the graduation of my business partner’s son and taken by surprise by the whole circus that surrounds a graduation. Hearing my first commencement speech was a bit like watching a cactus field turn into a rose garden, slightly boring and loaded with false hopes for the future.

There are slightly under 4,500 colleges and universities in the US. Using this approximate count, there were at least 4,500 commencement speeches in recent days and weeks in front of several million kids on the verge of entering an overwhelming reality, at least that’s what we like to think. With regards to High School Graduations, this speech is not about you, but directed at you as well, as it does concern your potential decision to step into Higher Education, whether you elect a 2-, or 4 year stint or the All the Way program.

Please consider this a warning, not an advice, directed at those who have elected to continue their professional education at an institute of higher learning.
And before I try to shed some light on entering the real world, I’d like to share a couple of noteworthy statistics to look back or forward to, regarding your time spent in college.

• The typical student is in school at most 30 weeks a year with on average 30 hours of attendance, that means she or he ideally is spending about 900 hours on curriculum studies. A good case can be made that college is increasingly sort of a country club with elaborate recreational and living facilities but also with a curious mix of academics and hedonistic excesses, where booze, drugs, and sex claim at least equal time with academic studies.

• Many students these days, consider the job market and decide to engage in credential inflation, by going to school for even more years, simply to get a chance at jobs for which much of that education is useless.

• Read TWELVE INCONVENIENT TRUTHS ABOUT HIGHER EDUCATION, an 18 page Policy Paper written by Professor Richard Vedder, Distinguished Professor of Economics at Ohio University, Director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Dear Class of 2014

Many of you are already in debt or are on the verge of committing to a $100,000 plus investment in higher education. The banks/government lend you money so you can pass it along to the education industry. Where did they get the money? And how come it’s so expensive to go to college that you have to borrow heavily to afford it? Hey, didn’t they teach you anything in college? Allow me to enlighten you on how your economy works these days and why is it so expensive to go to college here in the US?
It’s a long and intricate story. But the short version is that the economy has been rigged by collusion between industry and government. This collusion started about 100 years ago when the roots of the Federal Reserve were firmly established and dollar manipulation became a favorite pastime for DC.

I insist that anyone who isn’t a saint or a mental defective wants more status, more money and more power. The easiest way to get these things is to rig the economy in your favor. Who can rig the economy and get away with it?
Yep the government, of course. But the story doesn’t end there because government is just a means to a goal; the objective being to deceive people into thinking they have control
So following the thread of manipulation the next question is: “Who can get the government to do what it wants?”
The oligarchs who control it with their lobbyists… their campaign contributions… and their voting blocks.

Why Cheap Money was Created

When the Dollar Became FIAT (paper) Money, no longer backed by gold, American productivity ended up on a long downward slide.
Even in the immediate aftermath of uncoupling gold and the dollar, up until the early 1980s, Americans made things and sold them to the rest of the world.
You didn’t need a college degree to make things. And you didn’t have to make campaign contributions. You just had to learn… and work hard… and sell things at a profit. Then you could earn a decent living and live a decent life. Made in America stood for something and the US Dollar was backed by the universal currency that was gold. That all changed in August of 1971.

Actually in February 1968, Democratic President Johnson asked Congress to end the requirement that dollars be backed by gold. He needed money to continue the war in Vietnam and depleting gold reserves where standing in his way of borrowing what he needed.
Well in August 1971, Republican President Nixon stopped honoring commitments to settle foreign accounts in gold. Then the feds started replacing money with credit and the economy started to change. Slow at first but then much more quickly.
Gold had limited the amount of money and credit in the economy. But Tricky Dicky’s new money was unlimited, thanks to the magic of printing presses and the inference that the US Government could be trusted for its debts. It made it easier and cheaper to buy things made by other people than it was to make them ourselves. Since 1980, the US spent nearly $10 trillion more overseas than it received from overseas sales of products Made in America.
Gradually, making things in the US became less and less profitable. So, if you wanted to earn a good salary, manufacturing was not the way. You had to go somewhere else. Finance, administration, accounting, law, education or health care. Services without a direct contribution to value or GDP. But also service industries in which the good jobs required a college education. That’s why you’re here at yet another year’s commencement speech, with a diploma that is supposed to catapult you into a bright future.

The Effects of Easy Money

Of course there’s more to the story. For example unlimited and easy credit also made it easier to support a growing group of parasites. To be fair I call them parasites because they don’t produce anything worthwhile, with no tradable value at all; they just suck the blood out of the other parts of the economy – reduce output and add costs. But in a democracy even parasites are entitled to a vote, which makes them prime targets for politicians who buy votes from democratic sub-contractors: voters who need to be bought off to maintain social peace and the illusion of fairness from villages to metropoles.
Government connived with industry to create quasi-monopolies… cartels… subsidies… guarantees and price supports. And the feds could add bureaucracy… controls… rules… and regulations all they wanted. It’s where many jobs went.
But for a concerned insider it’s nothing new that the education industry added few teachers, but lots of “educators” and policy coordinators. The health-care industry added relatively few doctors – but a boatload of paper-pushing insurance workers and ambulance-chasing tort lawyers. A drive down to Jacksonville on I-95 will expose you to multiple billboards for at least 10 law offices offering to sue someone for you, as well as at least half a dozen billboards advertising hospitals and medical services.

The whole system is rigged against you, yet it is done in such a way that you have no choice but to follow the yellow brick road.
And on that road, college is a major stop. Did you ever wonder why you went to college? And why it was so expensive? You pay an average of $30,000 a year, plus another $10,000 for room and board! You look to the future with anticipation and expectation but did you realize
that 90% of the population, real wages have been flat since 1968. The other 10% had jobs that were mostly for college graduates – specifically in finance and administration. That’s why you did this whole higher learning thing: You wanted to be in that small group of Americans with rising incomes.
The last four years should have been the best years of your life. You were as alert, energetic and strong as you ever will be. And what did you really get for it? Did you learn more in school than you would have learned in real life? I doubt it, (again this comes from someone with post graduate education) who still has to unschool himself almost daily, 40 years later!!

Real Life

Real life is tough. Infinitely complex. Treacherous in its subtlety and ambiguity.
You never know when you’ll be tested in real life… and you never know what the test will cover or if you were prepared for it. So you have to be on your toes. In college you can get through courses with CliffsNotes and cram sessions. In real life, you have to use the agility of your brain to survive and stay ahead.

In college, life is stripped down, simplified to the point of multiple choice. People are translated into one dimensional entities. History, politics, sociology, psychology, government, economics – all are reduced to simple narratives that can be taught, studied and learned.
An infinite variety of facts and nuances must be distilled into just a few, usually at the discretion of the going flavor in the college halls of wisdom. The flesh must be boiled off the bone. What you end up with is bare – with 10% useful insights… and 90% hogwash. And we don’t even need to mention literature, art, and gender studies.

Now that you’re graduating, you must think you know something. But unless you’re in the factual sciences or engineering, what you know is probably not worth knowing. It’s not how real life works. And the longer you spend in school studying this artificial world, the less able you are to function in today’s real world.
Most of history’s successful contributors spent little time in formal education. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Aristotle, Hannibal, Abraham Lincoln, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Ford, Charles Dickens. And thousands of others. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college. Yet today, big employers want you to have a college degree. Especially the biggest employer of all: the government. The requirement is a weird effort for self preservation, as it turns out that hundreds of thousands of college graduates perform jobs that can easily be done by High School graduates.

job leveling







Heck, today Jesus of Nazareth could apply for a job as a social worker in any town in the US. He wouldn’t get it. He didn’t have a diploma. Socrates could offer to teach a class in philosophy; almost every university would turn him down. “Where’s your PhD?” they’d ask. Archimedes, the greatest engineering genius of all time, wouldn’t be allowed to design a county storm drain. What kind of a system wastes strong backs and ignores strong minds?

What you learn in college is the way things are “supposed” to work. But few things in real life are as simple as they’re “supposed” to be. Our government is not run by the people for the people. Government is merely a way one group of people – the insiders – take advantage of other people – the outsiders. The proliferation of that system is becoming exceedingly clear in these times.
You can call it democracy or dictatorship; it hardly matters. It can be gentle and broadly tolerable… or brutal and widely detested. What makes it a government is, that it has a legally enforceable monopoly on the use of violence; ultimately, the insiders use it to get what they want and examples of this have littered the course of history.

As for the economy, you have learned about our capitalist system. You have been told to accept that it needs regulation by the SEC, the Fed, the Department of Justice, the FDA, the FTC and other agencies to keep the capitalists honest. You have been lied to.
It’s not a capitalist system; the feds took the capital out 40 years ago. Now, it depends on cronies and credit. It’s a corrupt system – the product of collusion between industry and the agencies meant to regulate them. Its real purpose is to transfer more wealth and power to the insiders.

Economist William Baumol understood.
He observed that goods-producing businesses – such as an automaker or a maker of a widget – could achieve high productivity growth, thanks to labor-saving automation and supply-chain efficiencies. He also noticed that productivity stayed more or less static in service-sector jobs, such as nursing and teaching. (Basically, a nurse needed to spend just as much time with a sick patient… and a teacher needed to spend as much time with a student.)
Despite this simple observation, wage increases in service-sector industries – education, healthcare and government – tended to keep pace with wage increases in industries where rising wage growth was justified by growing productivity. In contrast, the service industries started requiring college diplomas in an effort to protect their status.

That’s part of the reason your TVs are cheap… but your health care has become so expensive. Not only is health care largely protected from competition and grossly distorted by third parties who pay the bills, including the government and insurance companies, but also wages for health-care workers rise, even though productivity stays more or less static: a nurse today does essentially the same type of job as 40 or even 100 years ago.
This also helps explain why a university education is eight times more costly than it was in 1978… even though you’re still getting more or less the same education. And yes, college was optional to a decent income in the 1970s. Now, it’s almost obligatory. Did I say almost? It is obligatory if you want a job.

When everything is rigged, the riggers have the money and the power. Lobbyists, lawyers, accountants, administrators: Whether you want to take a business public… or just build a house… you come face to face with someone who can stop you, with paperwork, legal razzmatazz and nauseating administration. Now that you’re a pawn in the game too, you are left with no choice but to play the game. You $100,000 student debt will make sure of that.

I’m going to leave you with Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs’ closing remark when he gave his commencement speech a month ago, while receiving his Honorary Doctorate from Howard University, where he dropped out of in the late 1980s to make a career in Rap Music.

Before ending his speech, Puff Daddy, aka P.Diddy said “I can’t wait for you to live in a world that you are about to create. I can’t wait to witness the crazy dreams that you’re gonna make real. I can’t wait to watch you change the world.”

Publisher’s Warning: Keep in mind that Dr.Combs dropped out of college to follow his passion in the real world, but is now part of the inner circle, where any type of change is seriously frowned upon.

Boner Questions Williams in Dave Scott’s Latest Blog

Boner Questions Williams in Dave Scott's Latest BlogBelow is your advanced copy of Dave Scott’s blog which can be found at There is a lot of stuff in this week’s opinion piece, so please feel free to comment. (I’m particularly interested in asking for a no-questions-asked deal from the city of my own. -Judie)

Need Cash? Then Ask City Hall For A Taxpayer-Funded No Contract Check

If you’re running short of funds and could use a few thousand extra bucks then head downtown to City Hall and ask the Fernandina Beach City Commission to dip into the taxpayer’s till for a “no questions asked, no contract” deal and see if they’ll ask City Manager Joe Gerrity to cut you a check.

Four of the current commissioners did exactly that more than a year ago when failed commission candidate and community gadfly Lynn Williams was granted $8,000 for a dredging plan that has yet to materialize and for which he won’t or can’t account. In fact Williams became downright indignant when Mayor Ed Boner rightly asked him how the money is being spent and Williams spouted some mumbo-jumbo answer about “turbidity” and state environmental and fish and wildlife bureaucracies.

Mayor Boner proceeded to question Williams for an accounting of the eight grand saying, “I’ve had several people ask me how much money has been spent so far to construct the working model. Just some requests for basic accounting: how much has been spent, how much is left?”

An indignant Williams unashamedly told the mayor, “Ask them to call me. In our proposal there was never any intention of trying to itemize or be specific on what this would cost. To this day, I don’t know what it will cost to see it to the end.” At one point Williams said he spent about $3,600 of our tax money on hardware for his test machine, but didn’t produce any evidence.

When the mayor pressed Williams saying “I need to get more numbers” Williams blatantly replied, “I’m not giving you more numbers. I don’t have them.”

Some of the commissioners apparently lost sight of whose money they are dealing with as evidenced when Commissioner and Vice Mayor Sara Pelican, who voted to cut Williams a check in March 2013, also told Mayor Boner to tell those who called him to call Williams. Huh? Excuse me lady but you voted to hand over $8,000 of our money more than a year ago and now you want US to go find out what happened to it? Aren’t you up for reelection in November? It’s obvious that you have been sitting to close to Commissioner Pat Gass and have been strangely influenced by the voices that don’t vote and never attend commission meetings that congregate in Ms. Gass’ head.

Not satisfied with Williams’ responses Mayor Boner said the next time the city Commission cuts a check he would like to see “some sort of accounting,” which further irritated an always irritable Commissioner Charlie Corbett, not the brightest bulb in city hall and one also severely limited by a lack of tact, manners, and an understanding of parliamentary proceedings, who also voted to cough up the cash last March. “Are you telling us what to do?” Corbett spit out at the mayor. According to a report in the online Fernandina Observer Corbett is the same commissioner, who when Williams initially requested the money, asked Williams “You think you can do it for $4,500 but you’ve asked for $8,000?” to which Williams replied, “Yep, because I don’t know how it’s gonna work.” That was good enough for Corbett.

Last March Corbett, Pelican, Boner and Gass all agreed to have the city cut Williams a no strings-attached check. Former Commissioner Arlene Filkoff was the lone dissenter and Johnny Miller, who fortunately defeated Williams among others for a commission seat, was not a member at the time.

A tip of the hat to Mayor Boner, who in my opinion should never have voted for the initial request, but has the integrity, hindsight and the community’s best interests at heart by asking for an accounting. And as far as Pelican and Corbett are concerned, we can be thankful that the polls will be open in November enabling us to correct mistakes made in previous elections.

This has been an $8,000 lesson on how not to handle the public’s money.


Fernandina’s Bernie Madoff? Numerous articles about David Yulee and the dedication of his statue in front of the old downtown train station Thursday, June 12, (Statue of David Yule coming home, 6/11/2014, Jacksonville Times-Union and David Yulee’s History, Fernandina Beach News-Leader, 6/11/1014), two by Fernandina Observer writer Suanne Z. Thamm and a gushing piece by former local museum director Ron Kurtz, all glossed over some interesting details about this controversial historical figure. The Times-Union article by reporter Dan Scanlan was mostly a factual piece probably written from a press release while the Page one News-Leader story, was a puff piece with lots of extra puff, written by Amelia Island Museum of History’s Gray Edenfield. The Observer articles were all as puffy as the one written by Mr. Edenfield, conveniently glossing over key factors in Yulee’s past.

All of the articles conveniently forget to mention that artist Chuck Oldam turned the opportunity to sculpt Yulee’s statue down, saying in a letter last year to the News-Leader: “I discovered a shocking truth. David Yulee was not only a slave holder but one of the most ardent proponents and defenders of slavery in his day.” In fact, according to the recently published A Disease in the Public Mind, a New Understanding of why we Fought the Civil War, author Thomas Fleming points out that only six percent of the Southern population owned slaves, grouping Yulee into a small, immoral class of folks.

The statue depicts a likeness of Yulee holding a pocket watch to check on the next scheduled train, a bit odd since the only ride Mr. Yulee ever took on his ill-fated rail line was to escape the advancing Union forces. That was the one and only trip Yulee’s train ever made until after the war as Robert E. Lee had the rails ripped out and shipped to more strategic and defensible Confederate locations north of Florida.

The statue was pushed through by a small group of folks in Fernandina who conveniently overlook the fact that Yulee’s railroad was built by slaves and the US Senator Yulee-controlled consortium was paid with tax payer money by the Florida state legislature at Yulee’s request. Following the Civil War, the ardent slavery proponent and turncoat Yulee was imprisoned for treason in Ft. Pulaski, GA. After he was released he entered into even more railroad schemes and in the 1880s state money went to pay off debts Yulee failed to pay on his railroad plans.

T.D. Allman’s book Finding Florida (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013), which was favorably reviewed by the Times-Union last year, details much of Yulee’s controversial life, and in a light that the statue proponents would rather ignore. In addition to the statue we now have a town (Yulee) and a Florida County (Levy, his real name) named after this man of dubious character. Upon his death in 1886 a Tampa editorial said “From beginning to end Mr. Yulee has shown himself a trickster,” yet that didn’t stop the state of Florida from naming this racist turncoat and flim-flam man a “Great Floridian” in 1999, a blatant act of revisionist history.

Dedicating a statue to David Yulee in Fernandina Beach in front of the train station is like New York City erecting one of Bernie Madoff in front of the NY Stock Exchange.


A Catch 22 Fish Tale: Searching for an answer for a guest who asked if he needed a license to fish on the beach, Amelia Oceanfront B&B Innkeeper Johan Ramakers clicked on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission web site and was overwhelmed with our state’s version of “The Most Dangerous Catch” as in Catch 22 and more. The list of licenses, exceptions and options found on the link read strikingly similar to the pointless activity witnessed by Alice in the “Who Stole the Tarts” trial during her travels through Wonderland when the White Rabbit said “I gave her one, they gave him two; You gave us three or more; They all returned from him to you, Though they were mine before.” For example this is a verbatim paragraph Han found in our state’s Catch 22 Fishing Commission: Residents who are fishing for a saltwater species (other than mullet in fresh water) from land or from a structure fixed to the land are required to have a no-cost saltwater shoreline fishing license unless they have a regular saltwater fishing license or are exempt. Could Lewis Carroll have said it any better? When the folks that write this gibberish go home after work it must be terribly embarrassing when they try to explain to their family and friends what they do for a living.


Shrimp Boats Are A Coming: This past Thursday Captain Kevin McCarthy restarted his annual Eco-Shrimping Tours that involve an interactive exploration of the St. Marys River Basin, where guests are coached on the operation of an Otter Trawl shrimp net, which they will actually deploy and retrieve if they wish. Don’t bring a fork or tarter sauce though because the sea creatures are released back into the water after being displayed and identified in an on-board aquarium while the boat glides through the backwaters and tidal creeks that make up the area’s local estuary. Developed in Fernandina, the net is similar to those nets used by the commercial shrimp industry today. Reservations for the two-hour Thursday to Saturday 10 am trips are recommended and can be made by calling (904) 261-9972 or visiting the white kiosk in the North parking lot of the downtown Marina.


Sidewalk Brouhaha: Jenn Niles, the striking blonde paraplegic, who successfully got the attention of the feds after she was ejected from her wheelchair when she tried to maneuver the Front Street area of gravel, railroad tracks and busted up pavement, and was ignored by local politicos, had an eloquent letter printed in the Fernandina News-Leader (June 6, 2014, Sidewalk to Somewhere) to rebut lawyer John Cascone’s May 30 letter, “The sidewalk that never was.” Unlike Cascone, the New England resident cited ordinances, references, surveys, etc. that show a sidewalk has existed in an area where Mr. Cascone and Marina Restaurant owner Patricia Toundas say there never was one. Because of Ms. Niles efforts the feds under the auspices of the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA) visited the site, met with city officials and from what I heard are not happy, an attitude that may well cost Fernandina taxpayers plenty and eventually lead to a much safer walkway to other Front Street businesses such as the community-minded owners at the Salty Pelican. Thanks to Ms. Niles the town’s good ‘ole boy network appears to be as broken down as the sidewalk it claims doesn’t exist.


More From A Clueless President: The following excerpts, which I agree with wholeheartedly, were sent to me by island resident Cal Atwood, a decorated World War II Marine, who fought on Iwo Jima and who devours three books a week as well as a variety of periodicals, are from Why Team Obama Was Blindsided by the Bergdahl Backlash written by retired Army officer and former enlisted man Ralph Peters: “Congratulations, Mr. President! And identical congrats to your sorcerer’s apprentice, National Security Adviser Susan Rice. By trying to sell him as an American hero, you’ve turned a deserter already despised by soldiers in the know into quite possibly the most-hated individual soldier in the history of our military. I have never witnessed such outrage from our troops. President Obama and Ms. Rice seem to think that the crime of desertion in wartime is kind of like skipping class. Team Obama and its base cannot comprehend the values still cherished by those young Americans “so dumb” they joined the Army instead of going to prep school and then to Harvard. President Obama never stopped to consider that our troops and their families might have been offended by their commander-in-chief staging a love-fest at the White House to celebrate trading five top terrorists for one deserter and featuring not the families of those soldiers (at least six of them) who died in the efforts to find and free Bergdahl, but, instead, giving a starring role on the international stage to Pa Taliban, parent of a deserter and a creature of dubious sympathies (that beard on pops ain’t a tribute to ZZ Top). How do you say ‘outrageous insult to our vets’ in Pashto?”


More Colorful Baseball Names: Atlanta friend and sports broadcaster Gary McKillips, after reading my post last week on colorful baseball names, reminded me that I left off former Dodger pitcher Van Lingle Mungo while local retired Binghamton, NY attorney Bruce Smyk says Mungo was honored in a 60s song and says I should have also listed former big leaguer Candy Maldonado. All good picks. Any more I missed?


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Executive Chef for the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton Thomas Tolxdorf, who was killed last Saturday in a single car accident on US 17, leaves a lasting legacy of many in the island’s hospitality industry who worked with him, knew him as a friend and learned from him. Tolxdorf who relocated to Amelia Island thirteen years ago will be missed, but not forgotten.

If you have never heard the combination of Dan Voll, Michele, Nico and “fiddle girl” Amy Basse then you have a special treat in store because last Friday evening they did an impromptu on the porch of the Green Turtle that was a foot-stomping, toe-tapping humdinger with Amy performing Dan Voll’s signature “Everybody’s Got a Cousin in Miami,” something I’ve never heard before on the fiddle.

Tim Poynter asked some friends and I to sample a hard cider he says his North 3rd St. downtown Karibrew Brew Pub will be serving this summer and which we declared “refreshing and tasty” and unlike any other bar offering I’ve tried hereabouts. He’s also conducting a contest to name the beverage, so stop by, order a glass, and pick a name, which, if you win, will provide you with a certificate for a dinner for two and bragging rights.

The Bloody Mary wars have headed into the kookie phase as last weekend Crystal Foster built a Hammerhead version that included a Krispy Cream sausage and French Toast while Johnny Miller put his creativity into overdrive with a pickled okra, stuffed olives, pickle, mozzarella cheese, prosciutto peppers, a slice of baguette and corn chips topped off with a glazed doughnut, for a creation he called the “Sunday Brunch” at the Palace Saloon. Urp!

American Legion Post 54 at the corner of Gum and South 3rd St. is providing lunches and dinners at prices you’d be hard pressed to match if you cooked at home. Oh, and if you want to eat at home they’ll deliver. Menus are subject to change but here’s a sampling of Pam “Big Red” LaClair’s menu of luncheon specials that are served 11:00 am – 1:30 pm:
Monday – meatball sub & chips $6;
Tuesday – Club sandwich & chips $6;
Wednesday – Beef stroganoff & salad $7;
Thursday – chicken tenders & fries $6;
Friday – tuna melt sandwich & pasta salad $6.

Dinner is served from 5-7 pm with recent meals including:
Wednesday – pot roast with potatoes & carrots $7;
Thursday – wings .50, hotdogs $3;
Friday – Prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes & salad $14.00.

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Local Cops Have Crime and Criminals on the Run

dave-scott-fernandinaDave Scott’s blog this week talks about our local city and county police departments, outrageous retirement packages, local treasure hunting, Atlanta and more… and you can read it first on!

While it appears that both Nassau County and Fernandina Beach law enforcement agencies are doing bang-up jobs it also appears that a few of those that do commit illegal acts hereabouts have elevators that don’t go all the way to the top.

Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper reports that crime fell by 17.2 percent county-wide, well below the state average of 4.7 percent, and Fernandina Beach has the lowest crime rate in its recorded history despite reducing its force from 35 to 30 full time officers, Fernandina Police Chief James Hurley, tells me.

According to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) statistics provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) there were 247 fewer county crimes overall in 2013 than 2012 in Nassau County.

In Fernandina Beach Chief Hurley has done a number of things to bolster his department’s law enforcement presence including using many of his retired officers and organizing a crack volunteer auxiliary force in a variety of effective ways. He added that “social media is also becoming a rapidly developing tool, as you would expect, as is technology in general.

“Faster communications is important when you are looking for information or just to get the word out about a trend or incident and the folks we have do a terrific job,” he says. But, he’s not complacent saying “I’m reluctant to poke the crime devil… this job is sometimes about holding your breath.”

It also appears that many criminals on Amelia Island stay out in the sun too long. For example a would-be bank robber, who after bungling his first bank heist, had his girl friend drive him a few blocks away to a second bank and then attempted to escape across Shave Bridge where the cops, alerted by employees of the first failed robbery, had blocked the bridge, and tracked him in the stopped line of traffic through a GPS device located in the stolen loot.

And then there was the guy who assaulted a woman in her car and then called her on his cell phone he left in the back seat and arranged to meet her so she could return it to him. She brought the police along to help in the transaction with this dimwit.

We are indeed fortunate to have a chief and a police force and a sheriff and deputies that are the envy of many much larger municipalities.

A Voice Of Reason: I’ve never met Fernandina Beach resident Gary Fierro but based on his Jacksonville Times-Union “Lead Letter” City cannot afford current pension deal (Sunday, June 1, 2014) he factually and logically shredded Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown for approving “outrageous retirement packages” and a “weak city council” for “refusing to stand up to the transgressions of past office holders.” He rightly said it was “another sad example of out-of-control government abusing its power by taking advantage of citizens they purportedly serve.” Hurrah for Mr. Fiarro for accurately describing a situation that the folks in Fernandina Beach will soon be facing as well, but whose elected commissioners would rather not discuss and deflect by spending their time on such “vital” issues as back-yard chickens, beach water slides, seating arrangements, and whether dogs can eat on restaurant patios. Mr. Fierro, have you ever considered running for the Fernandina Beach city commission?

Speaking Of Outrageous Retirement Packages: Our next door neighbor Georgia’s state and local governments face a deficit of more than $23 billion for the lifetime health benefits promised to public workers when they retire says the Atlanta Journal Constitution and they have no alternatives left but to substantially reduce the benefits or require employees, retirees and taxpayers to pay more. And that’s on top of a $23 billion shortfall in pension funds. We have a lot of Georgia retirees hereabouts who will be hit by this, including teachers who live here and teach in St. Mary’s or other nearby Georgia towns, and others who plan to move here from the Peach State who may have to change those plans because of politicians promising tax payer money that doesn’t exist and ignoring the issue until it’s too late. Tax payers will not only get hit eventually with higher rates but also with fewer services, while the city will have less money to hire employees and provide salary increases. Not a pretty picture.

Have Local Treasure Hunters Found Their Pot Of Gold? It is estimated that more than $2 billion in treasure is buried in sand just off the south end of Amelia island in what is left of the Spanish galleon San Miguel, which sank in August 1715 and has been the object of island treasure hunters who hang out at the South 8th Street Maritime Museum and poke around in the ocean floor from their research and recovery vessel Polly L. They recently plucked a silver coin from their designated site with a date on it that indicates they are very close to hitting the jackpot, and if so they stand to rake in 80 percent of the loot, a sum that would make Mel Fisher’s famous Key West find look like a kid’s piggy bank. The state takes the other 20 percent.

Dogs Purge “Poet Laureate”: The University of Georgia recently shed itself of four players arrested this past spring with three of the miscreants headed for the Louisville football team with the latest being safety Tray Matthews, who was preceded by safety Josh Harvey Clemons and cornerback Shaq Wiggins who so eloquently tweeted “my boy tray coming to da Ville wit me and day boy JHC. It’s gone get ugly.” I doubt Mr. Wiggins is majoring in English Literature and assume the school has hired someone to read the team’s playbook to him.

Beer Stuff: When the new brew bar at the corner of downtown’s Centre and S. 4th Street opens sometime next spring it’ll feature eight of its own special brewed beers and four brewed around the first coast. It will also hopefully be licensed to serve liquor. The Salty Pelican’s Al Waldis and T.J. Pelletier tell me that the name has yet to be determined but that the brew-pub will seat 150 and feature European food, possibly with a German accent. And speaking of beer, T.J. and Al’s Front Street Salty Pelican boasts 14 draught beers plus many more in bottles and if you want to try something really different not related to beer and introduce a few more very tasty calories to your system ask for the Pelican’s special beignet with chocolate sauce on the side.

Things I wish I Had Said: Friend Benita Dodd of Georgia’s Public Policy Foundation put the “terrorists for US Army deserter swap” in succinct simple words saying, “My apologies. I thought President Obama had negotiated with terrorists. It now appears I was wrong. In fact, he did not negotiate with terrorists. He just gave them what they wanted.”

Things I Didn’t Know Department: 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Georgia Tech bolting the SEC due to a scholarship issue that caused then Coach Bobby Todd to yank the Yellow Jackets out of that football powerhouse in January 1964, an organization Tech helped found in 1932. Tech was more than competitive too, with winning records against Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama and Georgia and tied with Florida from 1951 to its departure and winning the national championship in 1952, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley.

The Detroit Of The South: Despite crumbling and corrupt school systems; failed transportation initiatives to unclog massive traffic congestion; horrible crime; political cronyism; an almost bankrupt public transportation system run by inept bureaucrats; corrupt and indicted public officials; city agencies raging from the Watershed Department to Workforce Development being used as private piggy banks, the city of Atlanta is pressing ahead to build a $1.2 billion new football stadium for its NFL Falcons to replace the perfectly good 20-year old Georgia Dome, with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting that up to $400 million will be coming from locals and visitors through various taxes. And if that isn’t enough, it appears that recently feral pigs have been discovered crashing through some Atlanta suburbs, some that didn’t even appear on local ballots. Oh, and the Atlanta Braves have abandoned downtown for the Northern suburbs of Cobb County asking voters there to cough up millions for a new stadium while Atlanta’s 17-year-old Turner Field sits vacant, and surrounded by derelict neighborhoods. Will the Braves bring along Atlanta’s panhandlers, muggers, street hawkers, filth, etc? These are all good reasons I am delighted to have that Southern cesspool in my rearview mirror.

Redefining Poor: “Thanks to America’s free market system the average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France or the United Kingdom. In 1970, the year I was born, only 36 percent of the U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning. Today, 80 percent of poor households in America have air conditioning and 96 percent of poor parents say that their children were never hungry at any time in the preceding year because they could not afford food.” – U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Russian Journalism: The RT (Russia Today) Broadcasting Network International broadcasts in a number of languages in some 100 countries and is just one of many foreign TV networks where we can tune for their version of news and entertainment. I am skeptical of its “news” reporting but it recently broadcast a story that caught my attention despite the network’s dubious credibility, when it reported that some 400 TSA agents in the US have been fired for stealing in the past 10 years but so far not one terrorist has been discovered by them. Well, folks I don’t recall a single news story about TSA nabbing a terrorist but I do recall many about TSA folks stealing passenger’s stuff. Maybe the RET Network actually did some factual reporting.

“Holy Cow” As Harry Carey Used To Say: Unlike football, basketball and hockey, baseball seems to attract players with colorful catchy names and there are several currently playing that are labeled with my favorite monikers: Felix Pie and Coco Crisp, outfielders for Cleveland and Oakland respectively; and Buster Posey, catcher for San Francisco. Players of the past whose names caught my attention included Mookie Wilson, Pokey Reese, Trot Nixon, Chili Davis, Catfish Hunter, Oil Can Boyd and Bobo Newsome. And those a bit older will certainly recall the names Dizzy and Daffy Dean, and my hall of fame best baseball names of all time: Bo Belinsky and Minnie Minoso. If a colorful name was criteria for making the majors then former Atlanta minor league catcher Scooter Tucker would have been a shoo-in.

Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Despite rumors that outrageous impact fees drove him away, Demy Martin, owner of seven Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robins shops in Northeast Florida, tells the Jacksonville Times-Union that he’s opening one of them in the abandoned Wendy’s fast food site on South 8th St. but didn’t say when. A sign has popped up recently in front of the shuttered Cotton Eye Joe, saying “Bucketz Oyster Bar & Tavern,” but no indication of when it will open its doors. This Highway 200/A1A location just west of Shave Bridge has been home to four different eating and drinking joints the past five years if my memory serves me right. Wines By Steve will be moving at a date to be announced from its current location to Palmetto Walk, 4924 First Coast Highway across the parking lot from Barzin says Steve Raszkin, claiming the new location will provide more room for tastings and browsing and even include a porch. Call ’em at (904) 557-1506.

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Want To See A Photo Of My Cat?

Want To See A Photo Of My Cat?The Austin Lounge Lizards, a group I have followed for a number of years, wrote a song called “Old Blevins,” that tells the tale of a guy who retreated from a domestic squabble to a bar only to be trapped next to Old Blevins, an incoherent, non-stop yakker, a situation that is similar to what takes place electronically on Facebook daily.
Just like Facebook, Old Blevins grabbed the fellow’s attention and wouldn’t let go as the song relates:

I could tell he had some wisdom to impart
Some story that was etched and burned and stamped
Upon his heart
Then his eyes began to glisten
‘Cause he could see that I would listen
We sat there at that bar ’til nearly three
And this is what Old Blevins said to me
He said “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
In Tijuana blah blah blah back in 1963
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
You should have been there blah blah blah”
Is what Old Blevins said to me
I sat there and I listened to his words
As they flapped around my head like little birds

Had he gone plumb ’round the bend
Or could I just not comprehend
His lips were writing lines I could not read
When suddenly, it all came clear to me
As he said “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
Then crazy hippies blah blah blah blah no effect on me
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
The great depression blah blah blah”
And he would not leave me be

If I was sitting next to Old Blevins at the Green Turtle, Dog Star, etc. and he pulled out photos of his cat, today’s lunch plate, a nephew, his long-dead parents, a recent trip to Upper Montclair, New Jersey, his girlfriend’s cleavage (No, wait, that’s ok), said a prayer, handed me a tofu recipe, and then asked me what kind of vegetable or dog I most represent it probably wouldn’t take me long to begin edging a few stools away from what I figure is a guy who has had a few too many or is an unhinged, narcissistic loon. And so would most of you.

If that’s the case then why do we sit and stare at exactly the same stuff on our cell phones, lap tops, iPads, etc. as this river of nonsense flows through Facebook to us from our “friends?”

And speaking of friends, I noticed the other day that I have almost 300 of these friends on my Facebook page. I have no idea how that happened as there are no more than five people who I would actually call friends, people who if I got arrested, would probably be in the cell next to me. But in order to communicate on the Internet in real time via Facebook with people you know, who have been introduced to you, or who requested that you “friend” them, you have to accept their request or reach out and ask them to be a “friend” and the numbers quickly add up. I scrolled through my list of almost 300 “friends” and discovered that there are many that I’ve never met, some I don’t recall, and others I’d just as soon forget. In other words these are not 300 who would fight to their death at Thermopylae on my behalf much less make bail for me.

Now I understand that folks who are entertainers, own a restaurant, a shop, or a tourist attraction, want to attract as many “friends” as possible, as it’s good for business. But why do I care about people that I have absolutely nothing in common with or are total strangers? And why do they want me to look at pictures of their cat, show me what they are eating for lunch, and insist I forward a religious or political message to others? If these people knocked on my front door with these same requests I’d find that disturbing and I’d probably call my neighbors to warn them after contacting the authorities.

And the darn thing can actually be vicious and dangerous as last week a 16-year-old student from Poinciana, a town just south of Orlando, was arrested on attempted murder charges after he stabbed a classmate over a Facebook posting.

So I’ve been rethinking this Facebook stuff and I’m considering going back to the old fashioned “face-to-face-have-a-cup-of-coffee-or-beer-conversation” and written forms of communication where no one has ever shown me a picture of their cat or attempted to stab me for my comments, no matter how disagreeable they think I may be or how silly my observations.

And if I do, it is more than likely that this final verse of the Lounge Lizards’ song will apply to me:

And my memories of that evening fuel an inner mounting fear
That I might become Old Blevins anywhere that they sell beer
And I’ll say “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
I don’t remember blah blah blah blah blah blah
Mistakes were made
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
How ’bout them Redskins?’ blah blah blah
Like Old Blevins used to say

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The Journey from Republic to Empire

Today this is archived under Inspirational?

Today this is archived under Inspirational?

A country’s journey from Republic to Empire is a natural progression. No country starts out as an empire. Countries start out as relatively modest undertakings. Whether a monarchy, a dictatorship or a republic, the initial scope is limited in means and territory, mostly controlled by leading citizens, either through their influence on the autocrat or alternatively by shaping public opinion. It’s always private interests that shape the initial formation, whether or not backed by a web of ulterior motivations of the clergy, the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, the bankers, the armed forces and finally the tax farmers.

Interesting is that when studying empire building, it becomes rapidly clear that there is no distinct line between republic and empire, or for that matter any other form of government. It’s a bit like sailing from the Arctic to Antarctica. While sailing you do not cross any marked lines that prepare you for upcoming headwinds, yet many influences and circumstances become decidedly different over the course of the journey. Of course in hindsight there are always certain snapshots that clearly mark turning points, but in general the journey from Republic to Empire goes mostly unnoticed to the untrained eye.

Growing up as a ‘kid of the sixties’ I despised the big brother control that comes with the empire, and even though I’m still not a fan, studying history has convinced me that empire building is an inevitable human desire. It comes with the territory, the nature of the beast, to use another vulgar justification of  our motives and the ultimate regrets that go with it.

In the infamous Roman Empire, Julius Ceasar was cut down by the right wing guards, the conservatives, who saw him as a dictator building his empire. The old guard wanted the Republic back, but didn’t face the fact that Romanization of the surrounding countries had been going on for almost 5 centuries, long before Julius was born.
By the time he became the Emperor, Rome had troops spread far beyond the Homeland, mostly around the Mediterranean and northwest to the North Sea, not unlike the USA today.
Ceasar’s successor Octavian (Augustus adopted the title imperator, instead of emperor, as he had no wish to stir up resentment among the republican partisans and follow the route of his uncle. His motto was: “Let the Empire evolve but don’t mention it”.

His speech writers could have been straight from the School of White House Alumnis as his inauguration speech carefully played to the old sentiments: “And now I give back the Republic into your keeping. The Laws, the troops, the treasury, the provinces are all restored to you. May you guard them worthily.” Historic words, even though the old republic existed no longer, other than in their dreams. Rome was an empire. Just as the US today is an empire.

The Revolution into a Roman Empire took centuries to accomplish. In America it took only 58 years (1913 – 1971) and wondrously enough, was hardly noticed by the people, because the changes have been neatly manipulated to appear gradual and mostly agreeable.

Even though several presidential predecessors had almost nonchalantly retired the US Constitution in the early years of Empire Building, it was John F. Kennedy who lectured the American population in his inaugural speech to “ask not what the country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country,” acknowledging that the Republic was no more, as the Empire officially had stepped onto the world stage with a role that resides beyond the control of the citizens. With this speech the American public all at once found its government, which was constitutionally created to be ‘by, for and of the people’ way out in front of them. It was pretty much the defining moment when Americans became servants to its government and no longer its masters.

In the United States constitution it is expressly stated that the people are sovereign, not the government, but ever since those words were spoken and adopted by Americans as a shield of pride and patriotism, the Constitution became something not-quite-what-it was-meant-to-be.

The changes before and since have been gradual and generally agreeable. But we can not forget that the Constitution was written with the idea, that what people want in their private lives matters. That idea passed away when we moved inevitably and almost invisibly from a Republic to an Empire.
Empires are living things with a logic all their own. They are born from human desire, they will die from human over-reach. No one conquers without eventually being conquered. What goes up must come down and no bubble expands without eventually blowing up. History has seen the rise and fall of more than fifty empires concluding that there are no exceptions to that rule. As for timing: be aware that in most historic empires the years of rise match the years of fall surprisingly close.

Beer, Spirits, Oysters, Patio Dining On Tap for Downtown Fernandina

Beer, Spirits, Oysters, Patio Dining On Tap for Downtown FernandinaAuthor Dave Scott offers interesting blogs on his new site,, and this time he talks about beer, spirits, oysters, and patio dining… and they are all on tap for historic, downtown Fernandina Beach, despite town’s anti-business impact fees.

“It appears that entrepreneurs are shaking off Fernandina Beach’s restrictive and arbitrary impact fees as reports of a rash of new businesses sprouting up downtown range from a distillery and a brew bar to a raw bar and a new outdoor dining venue, all in the very near future.

This capitalistic optimism is certainly not fueled by the comatose crew of indifferent elected and full-time city officials but may instead be sparked by Circuit Court Judge Brian Davis’ ruling earlier this year that the city’s anti-business impact fees on new users are “arbitrary and irrational” and are “in violation of the law,” a ruling bungling city officials are vainly appealing to the Florida Supreme Court, another ill-advised action that will cost local citizens thousands of dollars in tax dollars on wasted attorney fees.

Following are businesses that are proceeding in spite of the city’s impotent incompetence:
-Brew Bar: The name of the brew bar at the site of the now shuttered O’Kane’s has been determined by patrons of Front Street’s Salty Pelican, when they were handed a ballot and asked to select from one of the following: Amelia Island Brew Tavern, Amelia Island Brew & Chew, Amelia Island Beer Works, Centre Street Brew Tavern, Amelia Island Bierwerks or Centre Street Beer Works. Voting ended last Monday for the name of the enterprise that will be operated by the Pelican’s T.J. Pelletier and Al Waldis and Espana’s Roberto Pestana with an opening date yet to be announced. I like Bierwerks, sort of the BMW of beer.
-Palate: The Amelia Island Omni Plantation is obviously a terrific training ground as many seasoned professionals leave that island resort and start their own area businesses and now it’s long-time Omni employee Tammy Barnes turn, as she has been busy refurbishing the closed Benito’s at 614 Centre St. to be renamed Palate and featuring downtown’s first raw bar. Ms. Barnes hopes to be open in time for Shrimp Festival with 12-year Omni veteran Chef Matthew Kennedy handling the menu’s steak and seafood offerings. I’m told that a regular bar will be open in the back area with the raw bat up front.
-Marlin & Barrel Distillery: Capitalizing on the island’s history of rum-swilling pirates, a distillery will call downtown Fernandina Beach home, settling in at 115 South 2nd St., with former Air Tran Airways executive Robert Morenc saying he’s starting with rum in his Marlin & Barrel Distillery, because of the area’s rich pirate history. Hoping to be opened in time for this year’s Florida-Georgia football game, he said he’ll be adding vodka, gin and American rye whiskey and will act as the facility’s head distiller.
-Leddy’s Porch Expansion: Ernie Saltmarsh is expanding his South 3rd St. Florida House Inn’s Leddy’s Porch facility, opening an outdoor dining area between his popular Green Turtle Tavern and the Florida House, enabling diners to kick back and enjoy the beach music on the Turtle’s porch and the offerings of Chef Marshall Sands’ Florida House kitchen, particularly his signature buttermilk fried chicken, in a beautiful courtyard atmosphere. When the Turtle porch is silent, the Florida House has installed a new sound system surrounding the dining area, with conversational music coming from speakers designed to look like the surrounding landscaping and those in charge are discussing the possibility of jazz brunches.
-Beech Street Grill: Saltmarsh is continuing his restoration activity on the Beech Street Grill facility the corner of South 8th St. and Beech St., with plans within the next few weeks to move a 1900 shotgun house at 217 S. 8th St. next to the restored Grill and he says it will replace one that burned at the restaurant site in the 1990s and it will be restored as a retail spot. He said a restaurant may well be opened on the site this summer but declined to say what it would specialize in and who was involved.”

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Here is Dave Scott’s Latest Blog

dave-scott-fernandinaDave Scott is a former Florida and New York daily newspaper reporter, international corporate public relations executive and PR agency head who has lived on Amelia Island the past three years. His “Dave’s World” column ran for two years in the Fernandina Beach News Leader and he currently writes a blog:

Here is Dave’s latest blog:

“Coming to a News Stand Soon: The Fernandina Beach News Wrecker

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

Just like Amelia Island, the folks in Durango, Colorado celebrate their town’s heritage with an annual festival, an event called “Snowdown,” a celebration devoted to “fun, commerce and tourism” that includes parades, costumes, musical performances and more.

But Snowdown has something we currently don’t at our yearly Shrimp Festival. My Indian Rocks Beach, Florida cousin, who splits his time between this state and Durango, presented me with a 16-page edition of The Snowdown Sneer, a hysterical spoof of the town and its winter fete that was held this year, January 29-February 2.

The tabloid parody pokes harmless fun at Durango’s liberal population, the festival, and other area sacred cows with a front page headline reading “City will ban toothpicks to save trees” saying anyone needing a toothpick will have to pay 10 cents, money that will go to the annual Arbor Day celebration, and quotes community activist Payne Dias who says “having a chunk of food between your teeth is not justification to chop down the forest.”

A page 2 article headlined “City’s new parking meters will cost $7.25 per hour” and reports that motorists who need to visit downtown will have to pay minimum wage to shop in stores where employees make minimum wage. It quoted parking enforcement officer Cy Tayshun as saying “Would you rather spend an hour’s time with a disinterested, mouth-breathing, Facebook-posting retail clerk or get one hour of rock-star quality parking?”

To take advantage of Colorado’s new legalized marijuana law the paper’s Business & Technology section details how two local “depots” – Office & Home – will concentrate on selling pot to capitalize on their revised names of Home d’POT and Office d’POT, while a story in the same section claims the city will spend an estimated $31 million to subsidize the downtown’s essential service industries of T-shirt shops and restaurants to ensure they remain open in the off season, an act designed to keep city staffers from “finding real jobs and working hard.”

Another article explains how Durango High School was forced to pawn its shop tools for $672 to help keep its doors open after voters rejected a school tax hike. It reported that other school fund raising options include a marijuana pancake breakfast and a Buy-A-Grade program in which parents can purchase higher marks for their under-achieving kids.

The paper’s weather forecast for the Snowden event ranged from “squiggly lines on a map and a devastating drought to swarms of locusts and a wildebeest stampede” while the local electric company announced that the coal-fired generator that “activists complained about because it spewed carbon” will be replaced with an alternative “53 bazillion kilowatt massive nuclear reactor complex” to be located on the banks of a local recreational and scenic river.

The classified ads contained some of the funniest material with the Business Opportunities section touting chances to earn cash by laundering money for a worldwide crime syndicate and another one urging readers to respond to a “$10 million from Nigeria” offer. A “Livestock & Pet” ad offered a “mean dog free to a good home. A really mean dog that chews furniture, isn’t housebroken and bites children” while the same section advertised “Take My Chickens! What was I thinking? Raising chickens in the backyard? Bad idea. They are noisy and my shoes and carpets are smeared with chicken poo. You can have the whole flock. Oh, they are a couple of years old and don’t lay eggs anymore…”

A “Help Wanted” ad seeks people to “Make expensive coffee for lazy people” while “Homes/Apartments Available” offers a “Dump. $2,995/mo. Drafty, small, depressing, no parking, lots of crime.” In the “Miscellaneous for Free” ads this one stood out: “Free. Online newspaper access. Click on and read the paper. It’ll cost you nothing! Oh wait. Never mind.”

Who wants to join me to produce a similar publication, sort of like a local version of the National Lampoon, both print and online, to distribute prior to and during our annual Shrimp Festival, maybe not in time for this year’s event, but certainly for the next one? I’ve already secured the domain name: The Fernandina Beach News Wrecker. If it proves successful we’ll publish as often as financially practical and we’ll have good fun grinding sacred cows into hamburger.

Submit your story ideas to me here or to Also, let me know if you want to be on the editorial staff of the Wrecker. Imagine how much fun it will be because “fun” will be your only compensation and our first editorial meeting will be at a local watering hole?

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Whacky Law Has Beer Lovers Growling

Whacky Law Has Beer Lovers GrowlingAnother great opinion from Dave Scott follows:

Because of a Florida law that State Senate President Don Graetz says he can’t explain but will continue to support anyway, beer aficionados awaiting the opening of a micro brew pub in downtown Fernandina Beach at the site of the now shuttered O’Kane’s, will not be able to purchase the popular half-gallon growlers, that are currently OK in 47 other states.

Long before six-packs became popular, most beer was consumed in a bar and folks who wanted to drink beer at home filled a small pail called a “growler” to carry it. According to when the beer splashed around in the pail it created a “rumbling” sound as gases escaped through the lid,” causing what sounded like a “growl.”

In an Associated Press story filed earlier this week Senate President Graetz says he doesn’t know why growlers are illegal in Florida and even admitted that the law appears to be overregulation, but added that a repeal of it isn’t in the cards because a close friend of his asked him to continue to support legislation that hurts the state’s fledgling craft beer businesses. That friend is Lewis Bear, a distributor of Budweiser products in Republican Graetz’s district and Graetz says he does what he’s told by his friend.

“We know we can’t compete with Budweiser, but we should have the opportunity to sell our own beer in a growler to our customers who want it,” says Al Waldis, who along with his Salty Pelican business partner, T.J. Pelletier, and Espana’s Roberto Pestana are opening the yet-to-be-named craft-beer pub on Centre St. “The big boys don’t sell growlers, since their product is available in every store. Growlers are sold strictly in brewpubs and brewery tasting rooms for customers who specifically would like to take a certain beer home from their favorite micro brewery,” says Waldis. “There is no other avenue for them to have this beer at home.”

I’ve never met Mr. Graetz but based on the AP story I don’t think I’d like him as he sounds like the kind of guy who invites you to join him for a cold one and then stiffs you with the check.

I’m sure the folks at Budweiser will do just fine as long as there are people around like my friend Pajama Dave Voorhees, an avid die-hard Bud Light drinker, but comments like the ones the senator made to the AP give members of the GOP a bad name, making them sound as foolish as District 5 Democrat Congresswoman Corinne Brown and her loony supporters.

Responding to Graetz’s position some influential local business folks are questioning state Republicans’ sincerity with one saying, “They’re the ones that preach competition in the marketplace; anti-regulation; always saying they are pro-business; and that small business owners are the ones who create jobs. But this law goes against all those values.”

Mr. Bear and his Belgian-owned beer company have been very generous with their monetary donations to Senator Graetz, the state GOP, and other state GOP candidates. And it appears that the state senate president favors folks that’ll pick up the tab for him and his pals over Florida’s craft beer bars, their employees and patrons.

A Tampa Bay Times article reported that a sign behind the bar in Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing sums up the craft beer community’s frustration with Florida’s growler law and attitudes of politicians like Graetz:

“We sell growlers in two sizes: 32 oz. and 128 oz. The industry standard in most states is the 64 oz. (1/2 gallon) growler but Florida law has a whacky, nonsensical law that prohibits us from selling them. Ridiculous, isn’t it?”

T.J. and Al have been wildly successful with their popular Front Street Salty Pelican despite indifferent, inept and incompetent city commissioners and town officials. They have survived impact fees that a district court ruled illegal in a case now headed to sure defeat in the Florida Supreme Court; a disputed sidewalk to nowhere that’s supposed to lead to their eatery; and railroad tracks that make reaching the Pelican on foot an adventure in athleticism. Meanwhile politicians like the Moe, Curly and Larry trio on the city commission, oblivious to what’s going on around them, continue to “Nyuk” it up as Public Utilities Director John Mandrick wrecks havoc with impunity on restaurant and bar businesses wielding his impact fee axe with the fury of a crazed Carrie Nation. And City Manager Joe Gerrity, who signed off on the fees while mayor, is missing in action.

I submit that a statue of these two entrepreneurs, Al and T.J., be erected in front of the old downtown train station as a tribute to overcoming adversity and as examples of perseverance. Imagine what they and other local businesspeople could accomplish if they were freed of these bungling bureaucrats and do-nothing, slapstick commissioners.

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Impact Fees Creating Empty Store Fronts in Fernandina

Impact Fees Creating Empty Store Fronts in FernandinaHere is another thought provoking piece by Dave Scott where he discusses Fernandina Beach impact fees and how this may be contributing to the empty store fronts in historic downtown.

“During a conversation at the Centre St. Amelia Island Coffee Shop the other day an acquaintance and life-long island resident told me that he counted 15 empty store fronts in the downtown area, a number he attributed mostly to the negative effect of the city’s reckless impact fees.

I may have missed it, but so far I haven’t seen a single letter, opinion-editorial or article in a local blog, online news site, in the bi-weekly News-Leader, or in a Jacksonville business or news gathering publication in support of Fernandina Beach’s controversial impact fees, just the opposite. In fact, I’ve never even met anyone who has voiced support for the fees and earlier this year even Circuit Court Judge Brian Davis ruled against the city’s fees in a bond validation case that is now headed to the state Supreme Court.

The only folks claiming they are beneficial are petty city bureaucrats led by its attorney, who have wasted some $600,000 of taxpayer money in legal fees trying to defend this indefensible “no-growth” formula.

Philip Griffin and Pat Keogh, two prominent local citizens, who are both active in area real estate development and have vested interests as well as the city’s best interests at heart, vehemently oppose the fees with Keogh calling them “highway robbery under the guise of government” and Griffin saying “they have contributed to the lack of reinvestment by the private sector in the city.”

City Manager Joe Gerrity was mayor when the fees were imposed and has been suspiciously silent during the controversy while Public Utilities Director John Mandrick continues his imitation of “It’s a Wonderful Life’s” Harry F. Potter, cackling and smirking as small businesses plead upon deaf ears for relief.

It is past time for the current crop of city commissioners who ran on “pro-business” platforms to do something: eliminate the fees and stop shoveling our tax money to lawyers to defend a no-growth and apparently illegal policy. Good grief folks, the law firm the city hired to defend these reckless fees isn’t even local.

Oh, at least the impact fee issue is masking another problem nobody at city hall wants to discuss, and that’s bringing the city’s future pension and employee benefit obligations in line with economic reality.

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Maneuvering Front Street in a Wheelchair

Maneuvering Front Street in a WheelchairDave Scott is entertaining us again this week when he described City Commissioner Johnny Miller’s attempt to maneuver Front Street in Fernandina Beach, in a wheelchair. The fact that our city streets are not negotiable in a wheelchair is worsened by injuries and more lawsuits that will inevitably come to our little town if something is not done soon to fix the problem.

Maybe we can all take up a collection for a piece of sidewalk, like we did a couple of years ago to pay for fireworks on the 4th of July when the City felt it just wasn’t in the budget. Perhaps we can all find a little something in our garages and attics to donate to a “Let’s Restore our Sidewalk Sale”?

Here is Dave’s latest SearchAmelia contribution:

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

…With Wheelchairs, Walkers & High Heels

Miller Time: To prove a point our newest city commissioner and Palace Saloon barkeep Johnny Miller took off in a wheelchair the other day to try and maneuver the downtown Front Street area from the corner of Centre Street to the entrance of the Salty Pelican and discovered what those who use wheelchairs regularly already know… it can’t be done.

On a second attempt he did manage to cross to the other side of Front Street and make the short trip, but it put him smack in the middle of the road and precariously close to the train tracks.

OK folks, something really has to be done about this before there is a tragic accident, more law suits and additional groups of disgruntled pedestrian locals and tourists thumbing their noses at all of us.

Oh, and when I brought the topic up in this space a few days ago, a few ladies informed me that it isn’t just folks with wheelchairs, baby buggies, walkers, and canes that can’t navigate the obstacle course to the Pelican, it is women in high heels that find the going impossible as well.

I don’t understand why the folks who operate the Marina Restaurant do not understand that the foot traffic generated by a sidewalk alongside that Front Street eatery would be good for their business too, not just the Pelican.

I do like Mr. Miller’s methods though and soon expect him to prove another point by attempting to maneuver the street in a pair of stiletto heels.

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The Other Side of Fernandina’s Downtown Tracks

The Other Side of Fernandina's Downtown TracksThe following is another interesting piece, Being on the Fast Track is Not Always Best, by local author Dave Scott who has a knack for seeing more than the casual observer. Be sure to check out his new blog at, and we hope you enjoy reading him from time to time here on SearchAmelia, too, where we have always welcomed guest authors and differing opinions.

“Marina restaurant owner Patricia Toundas suffered a fate many saw coming for others… her car was whacked by a train as she left it parked on the tracks while she unloaded supplies for her eatery.

Ms. Toundes is involved in a property dispute with the city of Fernandina Beach claiming the disputed space between her restaurant and the railroad tracks is hers alone for parking.

Currently the gravel, train tracks, busted pavement and cars parked alongside Ms. Toundas’ restaurant make it almost impossible for folks using wheelchairs, walkers or crutches or pushing strollers or baby carriages to maneuver the treacherous path.

Following my stroke, when I was using a cane, I was unable to walk from the corner of Front and Centre Street to the Front St. Salty Pelican and folks involved with the Americans for Disabilities Act are now involved, prompted by wheelchair-bound Jennifer Niles, who was caught in the street flotsam and jettisoned from her chair while attempting to cross Front St. to get to the marina last year.

Jennifer, an attractive, perky blonde isn’t one to let people push her around (pun intended) and told me that she will soon be moving to Fernandina permanently from her home in Massachusetts, so will be better able to cooperate with the federal government in its complaint against the city over the disputed right-of-way.

Watching this closely will be Al Waldis and T.J. Pelletier, who at their own expense built a sidewalk in front of their Salty Pelican and would love to have it extended to Centre Street alongside the Marina restaurant, since in addition to alleviating many of the safety issues, the foot traffic along Front St. created by the walkway would generate business for their popular eatery as well as the Marina.

So why is Ms. Toundas so stubbornly opposed? And why hasn’t the city acted to diffuse this issue? The city’s legal department so far has an unenviable Jacksonville Jaguar-like record in handling law suits with loads of our tax dollars handed over to plaintiffs in lost cases.

Odds are the taxpayers are facing another hosing due to incompetence at city hall.”

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