Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January 22, 2021
Local resident Jack Knocke, president of Common Sense, a group of individuals who advocate a balanced, common sense approach to local government spending, called for a no confidence vote on the performance of City Manager Dale Martin at the January 19, 2021 Regular Meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC). He had previously emailed his bill of particulars to Commissioners and also published them in an opinion piece published in the January 6, 2021 edition of the News Leader.
Knocke said that while he had no issues with Martin as a person, his dissatisfaction with Martin’s job performance prompted his call for a no confidence vote. Claiming that his points reflected input from many people who were unhappy with Martin’s policies and treatment of citizens. He cited examples that included the city’s dealings with FEMA over the marina repairs, contract management with marina and golf course operators, and software expenses in the Building Department.
He claimed that many of the matters were “invented emergencies that could have been avoided.”
Vice Mayor Len Kreger acknowledged reading Knocke’s list of issues, but said he wanted to point out a couple of things. He agreed that there may have been some bad decisions at times, but that Commissioners had addressed the Manager’s full performance publicly in November. “Any Commissioner at any time can evaluate the City Manager,” Kreger said. “I don’t presume to speak for our new City Commissioners, but this is only their third meeting. We have a lot going on at this time. When I feel it’s appropriate, I will call for a special evaluation. I do not think the time is now.”
Mayor Mike Lednovich addressed his comments to Knocke. “As you know, I have given the City Manager two written evaluations. Does he do his job perfectly? No. None of us do. But does he do it better than the errors, and in my evaluation I believe he does. He has one of the most difficult positions I can think of. He has five bosses. My evaluations are public record.”
Lednovich turned to the other Commissioners and asked, “Is there any interest in having the City Manager’s performance placed on a future agenda or to hear a vote of confidence motion?”
Commissioner Bradley Bean replied that he currently agrees with Vice Mayor Kreger. “Being my third meeting here, it is too soon for me to jump on such a motion. I feel that we need continuity. Now is not the time, but we will be on the watch. I don’t want to look retroactively from my term.”
Commissioner David Sturges agreed with Bean. “I don’t have any current or past paperwork to evaluate his decisions. I am starting [my evaluation] from scratch.”
Commissioner Ross made no comment.
Mayor Lednovich stated that there was no consensus to move forward on a vote of confidence.
Knocke continued to plead his case, indicating that there is plenty of history to support his position backed up by details.
Mayor Lednovich thanked him for his comments.