An opinion submitted by Tony Crawford

New, more comfortable chairs for the public attending meetings at City Hall
New, more comfortable chairs for the public attending meetings at City Hall

This has got to be an all time bad example of judgment by whomever is running this place. We are fighting tooth and nail to get a budget that everyone can live with and what do we do. We spend over $8,ooo on new furniture and carpets.

I have fought with the Commission over their decision to cut charity funding. I have been told by one that ”every penny counts.” I wonder, if indeed every penny counts, did she ever count how many pennies are in the roughly $8,200 they just spent? I find it totally incredible that during a time when all we hear is cut, cut, cut, that a purchase like this could be made.

In the last few years we have cut back on our fireworks, putting a tremendous amount of responsibility on the shop owners and taxpayers to ante the up money should we wish this tradition to continue. We have told charitable organizations we can’t afford to give them a full $25,000. These organizations not only serve the people in the city, but save the city tax dollars through their collective efforts. We had to fight tooth and nail for the Commission to approve matching money with the county as well as the Friends of the Library to basically fix up a building that we own.

We have seen the Commission throw money away on projects already in the works and give back a loan with one of the lowest interest rates in history. We have seen them slim down City Depts. as well as add top level management positions. We have seen them turn over a great share of the maintenance of ball fields to parents and volunteer’s. We have seen them bust the chops of the shrimp fest organization and threaten to take away clean up money on a festival that brings in about $8 million to the City each year.

PrintI remember a lot of political garbage during the last election how potential candidates would help in overseeing City spending. I would say there are smart choices and down right dumb choices that go along with spending cuts.

This issue will be settled by the voters over time as Commissioners are up for re election. Many may think they are doing a fine job and many may not. That is the good part about the system we get to reevaluate their performance. Then there is the little issue that we are now at a time of negotiations with two City Unions. I honestly ask anyone with any labor experience, or common sense, does it look good to buy commissioners new chairs at this time because a few of them complained that the chairs were uncomfortable. I wonder how comfortable a fireman is in his gear climbing a ladder, or a cop is chasing a bad guy with a gun. I have attended many commission meetings, I can only speak for myself, it wasn’t the chairs that made me squirm with discomfort.

Perception is reality. I personally think this is one slap in the face to all those charities that begged for money to help our needy. It is also slap in the face to now walk into negotiations with two of the unions that put themselves on the line for us each day and try to convince them that the City has a monetary problem and that they have a responsibility to make sacrifices and help. What were they thinking? I only hope all those that have an opinion on this either way write, or call the commissioners and tell them what you think. They want our input, at least they should if they wish to be rehired.

Editor’s note:   Tony Crawford moved to Fernandina Beach from New York fourteen years ago.   An avid city watcher, Tony finds watching local government at work, interesting, comical, and sad.

September 30, 2013 1:00 a.m.

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12 Comments
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mike spino
mike spino
8 years ago

Tony, have you thought of running for City Commission. We need another rational voice!

martha connell
martha connell
8 years ago

I’m outraged!

Malcolm Noden
Malcolm Noden
8 years ago

Tony–well said!

Malcolm Noden
Malcolm Noden
8 years ago

Tony–well said sir.

John Stanton
John Stanton
8 years ago

Though we are not British, I believe the phrase “Penny wise, but pound foolish” may apply. Once again I believe that our elected staff goes out of it’s way to Major on the Minors. Thanks for your efforts Tony.

Andrew Curtin
Andrew Curtin
8 years ago

Let’s see. New commission chairs, 80 new audience chairs, room and stairs re-carpeted for 8200+.Sounds like a reasonable expense to me. Oh yeah, the old chairs are being used elsewhere.

Andrew Curtin

tony crawford
tony crawford
8 years ago

That great news.
The Chairs that weren’t good enough for the City are being used by someone else.
I bet that makes everyone feel a whole lot better about the spending priorities of the City Government. It actually tells us we spent $8,200 0n chairs good enough for others but not for us. I wonder if most of us would have thought that the money could have been better spent for humanity reasons or on projects that would effect a wider range of taxpayers?
It just seems like logic and common sense are not in our decision making process on this one

judith harris
judith harris
8 years ago
Reply to  tony crawford

I have a very bad back problem and sitting for any length of time is difficult and often painful for me. I did not find the chair I was sitting on during one of the budget meetings uncomfortable.Having said that, let me say; it was not the chair that made me squirm either at the meeting I attended. It was the unbelievable attitude that the majority of the Commissioners had about cutting funding to the non-profits that tirelessly serve this community. The penny-wise and pound foolishness of the majority of the Commissioners has done great harm to this town. This expenditure is another bad decision and shameless action on their part. An old carpet does not need to be replaced just because it’s old; unless it is causing a safety hazard. I did not see any safety hazard. Chairs that are still usable should not be replaced at all, most especially at a time when the Commissioners feel that they can justify causing our non-profits to loose hundreds of thousands of dollars from matching funds, because the city is so broke that they needed to save the cost of one cup of coffee a year per tax payer. If the budget was able to handle an expenditure of $8,200.00; then that amount should have been given to the non-profits. The non-profits are in desperate need trying to help people survive. The Commissioners and citizens who attend meetings were not in desperate need of new chairs and new carpeting. Thank you Tony for your service to this community. You should be given a medal for the sacrifice of time that you make and for your good sense. Unlike our Commissioners, you don’t get paid. It is impossible for me to understand how the Commissioners can defend this action.

Sara
Sara
8 years ago

The carpet was almost 20 years old.

tony crawford
tony crawford
8 years ago

Interesting to hear that the carpet we replaced was over 20 years old. I bet you that most of the people the Council Of Aging gives free rides and meals to are at least 20 years old. I would also suspect that most battered women who seek out Micah’s Place for safety are around 20 or more year old. These places came in second to 20 year old carpeting.

judith harris
judith harris
8 years ago
Reply to  tony crawford

You are so right Tony. It seems that children going without electricity in their homes and without meals is not as important to our Commissioners as their own comfort when they attend meetings. If I had to lay off employees and cause hardship to the neediest people in town; I would buy my own chair if I felt uncomfortable in the one provided for me. If I thought the carpet looked worn and ugly, I would either close my eyes to it, or I would get together with the other commissioners and donate new carpeting. I wonder how all those who donate tremendous amounts of their time volunteering in Fernandina’s non-profit organizations felt, when they heard about the city’s redecorating? During the budget meeting I attended, a man had pleaded with the City not to cut funding to the non-profit that had saved his mentally ill son’s life. It is heartbreaking to think of how he must have felt when he heard about the money spent on new chairs and carpeting that were unnecessary expenses.

Tom Orr
Tom Orr
8 years ago

Not this week- I live in the County

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