Weekly comments from Dale Martin – “Safer at Home Order”

By Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
April 3, 2020

City Manager Dale Martin

We are all about to embark on perhaps the most significant challenge of a generation. With Governor DeSantis’ statewide Safer at Home order (Executive Order 20-91), the full extent of the threat should now be obvious.

For those otherwise oblivious that need to still be reminded: stay at home, only go out for essential purposes, and when out, maintain spacing and avoid groups. Those precautionary instructions have been plastered everywhere for several weeks- now is the time to actually adhere to those instructions.

Rarely has the entire nation been simultaneously confronted with such an immediate threat. A hurricane ravages Florida, a tornado rips through Oklahoma, a flood roars through Pennsylvania, towers crash in New York- emergencies and disasters are typically local. Communities stagger under the blow, regroup, then recover. That cycle will inevitably repeat itself again, but on an unprecedented national and global scale.

My focus, obviously, is first on my family- doing my best to ensure their health and safety. Take care of your family. A sobering aspect of the conronavirus is that, in our likely moments of grief to come, we will not be able to comfort each other as we traditionally have. We’ll receive word that a family member has become ill, and we’ll have to refrain from rushing to be at their side. We won’t be able to attend far away funerals. Cherish the moments now, because families and friendships may not be the same in as few as two short months.

My second focus is on our community, and continuing to provide the level of services and support that this community has come to expect from City staff. I am extremely confident that City staff will rise to this challenge. As soon as the Governor’s Executive Order was announced, nearly every Department Director called immediately to ask, “What can I do? How can I help?” In times of crisis, some step up; others step back. This City staff will step up confidently, willingly, and repeatedly to serve this community.

The City Commission remains firmly in front of and guiding the City’s response. While I speak with each Commissioner daily, it has been nearly a month since a formal meeting of the City Commission has convened to perform its governing function. The governance and operations of the City must continue. On Tuesday evening, the City Commission will conduct its first “virtual” meeting.

The meeting will be based out of the City Commission Chambers at City Hall, but only four people will likely be present: Mayor Johnny Miller, City Clerk Caroline Best, Mr. Dana Whicker (Information Technology Director), and myself. The remaining Commissioners and necessary staff will participate remotely, likely from home. It will be a “work-in-progress” that unfortunately will be repeated several times. Please be patient as this new format evolves. The meeting will still be broadcast via television and online as meetings have been in the past.

The agenda for the meeting has been parsed. Public proclamations and presentations have been eliminated. With no public in attendance, the portion of the agenda designated for Public Comment will be changed, too.

Public comments are always welcome at any time and many are received daily through email during the course of normal business. Please continue to share comments or concerns in that fashion. Those messages are permanently archived on City servers.

If you wish to make comments to be included as part of the formal City Commission meeting record, though, please submit those comments via email to me at [email protected] on Tuesday, April 7, beginning at 5:00 PM. To be considered, all comments must include the name and address of the sender (as is normally required at City Commission meetings). Public comments to be included in the formal record will be accepted until the Mayor closes the Public Comment portion of the agenda (approximately 6:30 PM). Comments received will be shared with City Commissioners and, as indicated, made part of the formal record (and, under Florida statute, become public records).

City staff is working with County staff to provide daily news related to the current public health emergency. On the City’s web site, an Emergency Alerts page has been activated http://www.fbfl.us/AlertCenter.aspx. If interested, you can request to be notified when new information is posted by utilizing the Notify Me button on the City’s home page. Similar information to what is posted on the web site is also posted on the City’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CityofFernandinaBeach/.

This will be a challenge, but if we work together, the challenge can be overcome in a matter of weeks. It will involve the disruption of daily routines, but the sooner we can pull through, we can return to enjoying the many things that make this community so wonderful.

Take care of yourselves, your family, and others, if possible. Thank you for those efforts.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Dave Lott
Dave Lott(@dave-l)
3 years ago

It is unclear as to at what point will an individual’s public comments submittal will be provided to ALL the commissioners. Will all commissioners read every public comment before they vote on a particular issue? There are a number of controversial items on the 4/7 meeting agenda such as proceeding with eminent domain actions, sole source recruiting services for what I presume is for the position of Assistant City Manager, and purchase of equipment for the golf course. Perhaps such actions unless deemed emergencies should be deferred until such time as normal proceedings can resume and full citizen participation can be had. Given the devastating economic impact of the local, state and national economy the City needs to revisit its budget and adopt measures of austerity.

Teri D. Springer
Teri D. Springer (@guest_57110)
3 years ago

It would be nice if I could actually read this. Unfortunately the ads along the side cover about ¼ of the page. I know sponsors are needed to fund this but, how about placing them on the page so they don’t interfere with the actual POINT of the page?? That being, the article.

Marc Williams
Marc Williams(@willimarcgmail-com)
3 years ago

If you are reading this article on an Internet browser that supports “Reader View”, then use that option for a clear image of the text. If you are reading this on an iPad you can either use Safari’s Reader View or turn the iPad into portrait mode. Both work.

Nicholas Velvet
Nicholas Velvet (@guest_57129)
3 years ago

Sole source recruiting services is on the 4/7 addenda ? Now to hire an assistant City Manager? Is this real or a joke People?

Our City government has yet to internalize the facts that with a 90% elimination of tourist dollars and a 30% plus(current US government projections) unemployment rate, just who in hell do they think will not be submitting a tax valuation appeal as sales tax revenue, rent income, etc. has ceased to exist or will have their annual property tax funds to pay? I.E. do they even “get” that any budget they took a year to put together( and which one commissioner a few weeks ago stated “there is nothing to cut”) has ceased to even be relevant?

Less weekly civics lessons on how city government works are long overdue. Please do the job Mr. City Manager you were hired for. Manage. IMMEDIATLY your absolute sole function is to review essential city services only(water/sewer, fire/EMT and police), assume a absolute across the board 30% reduction in salary(including your own) based upon expected loss of room, sales,rental ,etc. tax revenues. Write all the official proclimations needed and submit to the Commissioners. You have one week. Your second task is to revisit the entire process in the preceding sentence and assume a need for a 50% reduction. I do not think you’ll need a second week. Forget set asides for $500,000.00 parks or purchase of conservation lands.

As has been said before in the last two weeks or so, most around you(exception city/county government employees) are out of work and awaiting their $1,200.00 C-19 checks so a 30% reduced salary or for that matter a 50% reduced salary is better than none, i.e. a half of a loaf of bread is better than none. Instead we’re going to read sometime in the coming weeks that once again decisions have been made for our greater good, and yes, we’re going to pay for them. What do we know.

Don’t believe the above is going to happen? Again, I have a wonderful fairytale for you.