The Commission’s Rocket Man: Tim Poynter

Submitted by

City Commissioner Tim Poynter

Suanne Z. Thamm

Reporter – News Analyst

Despite the fact that three Fernandina Beach City commissioners last week voted not to fund July 4th fireworks, thereby upholding the decision made last year during budget deliberations, Tim Poynter seems to be the only commissioner taking public flak from this decision. Tim is anything but shy about explaining his positions on the issues that come before the city commission. He believes that it is important for the citizens to understand why commissioners vote the way they do, even if they do not agree with how they voted on any particular issue.

It is not difficult to find Tim, since he is a hands-on manager of two local eateries on North 3rd Street: Café Karibo and Timoti’s Fry Shak. He also holds an advertised, monthly town hall meeting at 7:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the courtyard behind Café Karibo, where his wife Theresa joins him for a frank exchange of ideas with interested citizens over iced tea and freshly baked cookies.

There is an intensity about Tim Poynter that can be a bit startling for those more familiar with the conventional politician who talks around issues. Tim tackles questions and issues directly, sometimes leaving those more accustomed to small talk a bit bewildered. When you chat with him, you have his full attention and get his honest, candid opinion. An expression not in his vocabulary: political correctness.

With respect to the recent fireworks flap, Tim had a lot to say. “When the commission made the decision to cut July 4th fireworks from the budget last year, not one person came before the commission to protest. We were dealing with the need to make lots of cuts, and this was just one of them. Fernandina Beach was not the only city to do so, either. Jacksonville Beach also had to eliminate this expense.”

But what about the public outcry this year? “Fernandina Beach will have July 4th fireworks this year,” Tim asserted. “The difference is that they will be paid for by the community, not the government. Many of the angry people who called me after the commission vote were not even people who lived in the city.”

So how will the fireworks be paid for if the city doesn’t fund them? “When the commission declined to fund the fireworks, local businesses immediately stepped up to the plate to raise the necessary money. The Historic [Fernandina] Downtown Merchants Association and the [Amelia Island Fernandina Beach Yulee] Chamber of Commerce are collecting money and pledges to make sure there will be fireworks. Isn’t this how things should work? The 4th of July is a time for communities to come together to celebrate our country’s birthday. If the fireworks are important to you in that celebration, why wouldn’t you or your business be willing to support the effort?”

OK, let’s assume that this year’s fireworks will be good to go. But what about next year? “You know, the next city budget is not going to be better. It will probably be worse. With all the calls out there for lower taxes and less government, the city can’t continue to do everything it has in the past. We can’t afford it. We have a whole year to raise funds for next year’s celebrations. Between the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Merchants, I’m sure we can come up with some great ideas to do this. I’ve even read that businesses in some communities have jars at the cash registers to collect contributions for fireworks. Why wouldn’t we want to find some easy ways for folks to help out whether they live in the city or Yulee or any other place? ”

While it did not come up during our chat, I discovered that Tim was one of the first merchants to contribute toward this year’s fireworks display. He has sent a check for a thousand dollars, representing a $500 contribution from each of his two downtown businesses. So if you think Tim Poynter is anti-fireworks or against July 4th celebrations, think again. If you or your business would also like to contribute to this year’s fireworks celebration, you may donate cash or checks (payable to AIFBY Chamber Fireworks Fund”). Contributions may be dropped off at the Chamber of Commerce, 961687 Gateway Blvd., Suite 101G, between the hours of 9-5, Monday through Friday.

Editor’s note:  As of 11:00 a.m. on June 14th, the A.I. –  Fernandina Beach –  Yulee Chamber of Commerce is reporting total monies received to date at $3035.00.


June 14, 2012 1:21

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John Campbell Elwell
John Campbell Elwell(@elwelljohnyahoo-com)
11 years ago

Excellent article. Rather than just hear one side of this issue that was printed in the local newspaper about Mr. Poynter, I find it extreemly interesting that he personally has contributed 33% of the monies collected so far for the July 4th fireworks. Budget time is coming, and the reality of where we are as a city, financially, will be very sobering. Every expense in every department will need to be examined and justified by line item including future firework displays. Thanks again for an unbiased and thoughtful look at the situation rather than the personal attacks that we can read in the NewsLeader.

Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith (@guest_84)
11 years ago

Are you kidding me? First of all, this was hardly an un-biased news article. Secondly, as we saw with the fiasco over the City Manager, Poynter has a history of backtracking on every decision he makes, as soon as he figures out it is not popular. His donation to the fireworks wasn’t altruism, it was an investment in his own business. And of course he donated to the fireworks fund, both of his businesses will suffer if the money can’t be raised. If there are no fireworks downtown on the 4th, there is no business downtown on the 4th. Perhaps if the city stopped duplicating services provided by other organizations (day care, barbecue cook-offs, etc.) or hadn’t made that ridiculous $40,000 mistake with the lighting downtown, we could afford fireworks without causing additional strain on the businesses and citizens of the community.

S.G. Foster-Kilpatrick
S.G. Foster-Kilpatrick (@guest_99)
11 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Smith

Exactly! I agree completely with this comment. Rocket Man….blast off to another community!

No BMW (@guest_89)
11 years ago

We have too many BMW’s in our lovely town.
Folks who Bitch, Moan and Whine over everything.
That’s usually a sign that they have too much time on their hands, and are always looking to blame someone.
I am no particular fan or friend of Mr Poynter, but kudos to him for putting his money where his mouth is.
In times of hardship, fireworks are a luxury. If it’s important to you, pitch in. Don’t BMW.
I went to the Palace Saloon fundraiser last night and did my part. Had a great time too!

Michael Love
Michael Love(@michaelclovecomcast-net)
11 years ago

Well written, Suanne. I enjoy your pieces very much!
Very kind of Mr. Poynter and other generous merchants to contribute to the fireworks fund.