By Mike Lednovich
Fernandina Beach Golf Club General Manager David DeMay sent tremors through the city’s Golf Course Advisory Board, lecturing members that the committee’s role was limited only to making recommendations to the city commission.
“This advisory board is to make recommendations, whether it’s bigger issues or bigger challenges, things at the golf course to the commission. They’re not to advise me on operational issues,”
DeMay told the board members at their October meeting. “The commission is fully behind me and they’ve been very supportive of everything we’ve done. They’ve given me everything I’ve needed for the golf club.”
DeMay’s clarification of the duties of the board in the 2017 city commission resolution that formed the Golf Course Advisory Board was in response to why DeMay cancelled the board’s September meeting.
“When there isn’t an item on the (Golf Course Advisory Board) agenda that is commission-able, meaning the board has a discussion for something that needs to be brought to the commission, I don’t find a reason to have a meeting,” DeMay said.
He added, “This talking about operations and different things going on and me reporting to you is not how this is designed. I think its gotten way off track with me reporting to you on daily operational things. Really that’s not how it is designed. I have leaders and bosses at the city I report to.”
Since its inception, the city’s golf course general manager has provided monthly performance statements such as the number of golf rounds played, marketing initiatives and financial information for the board’s discussion. It was also not uncommon for board members to bring issues about the condition of the golf course, customer service and other operational matters to the general manager’s attention.
“I think it’s broader than that and I disagree with you a little bit,” said board Chairman John Pelican. “I think part of our job is staying totally on top of the golf course. And even if there isn’t anything actionable, just being knowledgeable. What’s going on, the sentiment, the finances. It may just sit there, but people come and go all the time, the superintendent may get a better offer somewhere and they’re gone. And, in a situation like that it’s better to have the corporate knowledge of how things are going and what do we do now. That’s where I’m coming from.”
DeMay again reiterated his position on the role of the advisory board.
“This board is not to gather information. This board is to make recommendations to the commission on items,” DeMay said. “If there is a fee question, you and I can talk about it … we can get you the information ahead of time and you can bring it and discuss it here and we can decide if we want to bring it to the commission.”
But board member Jim Rauschenberger, a lawyer, countered that statement and homed in on a specific section of the city resolution.
“It says the role of the board is to review activities at the golf course with the management team,” he said. “The plain meaning to me is what’s going on (at the golf course). Which is more than having an agenda item because you don’t have an agenda item unless you know what’s going on.”
Newest member Charlie Corbett said board members can only discuss issues at their monthly meetings because of the restrictions of the Sunshine law.
“I can come to you for information, but I can’t share it with the other members unless we have a monthly meeting,” Corbett told DeMay. “We need to be able to discuss things not on the agenda, a rumor for instance, if somebody has found something and want to know whether it’s true. That’s the reason to have a monthly meeting.”
Rauschenberger added, “The golf course has made tremendous improvements and to the extent we still see items of concern that’s not us not praising the golf course that’s us striving to from our perspective items for improvement.”
When the board began to debate how often they should hold meetings, DeMay told them, “I’m not anti-monthly meeting. I want to make sure we’re following the resolution. You’re giving me things for the agenda, we’re discussing them and they need to be commission-able items, meaning it’s something we would take to the commission. That’s how this (the resolution) reads.”
The board ultimately voted 5-0 to continue meeting monthly.