For all the dreamy lovers of the arts…..

This was in last Wednesday’s paper (where I live – Fernandina Beach)

EDITORIAL ~~ What happens after the music stops playing?

Sound the trumpets. The city and county have committed to a two-year, $300,000-plus-expenses, no-bid, unbudgeted agreement with lobbyist Buddy Jacobs’ law firm.

This is all about “musical chairs,” the fanciful proposal to move city employees into a new city hall in the post office building downtown and build a new library/performing arts center on the site of the First Baptist Church downtown.

The $300,000 is a prelude. There are millions more to be tapped where that come from, that is, taxpayers’ wallets.

Sure, the agreement calls for lobbying to obtain grants on a host of projects, from waterfront redevelopment to police and fire additions, from stormwater improvements to upgrades at the airport and golf course.

But this is intended to be music to the ears of those who want to save the downtown post office no matter how much it costs and who has to pay for it; to city government minions who think they deserve new quarters in a refurbished building; to dreamy lovers of the arts who think our city sophisticated enough for a civic/cultural center especially if they don’t have to finance it; and to well meaning but misguided partisans of a new library that should be built in Yulee if anywhere.

That new library may ultimately stand as testament to our 20th century vision – like an oldie on the radio – but our children will pay for it for decades to come whether they ever read a book or not.

We may be able to watch the historic post office building decay from city inattention in the future, just as the once historic building on Ash Street that now houses City Hall has been tarnished by neglect.

Our cultural center will sit empty most nights, but we’ll pay the piper year-round.

We appreciate this symphonic vision of our future, but where is the financial foresight? Why are our elected officials so tone deaf to our declining economic fortunes? Who’s calling the tune here?

If this lobbying contract is so important, why didn’t the county or city budget for it before the fiscal year began Oct. 1? Why not bid this contract out to see if other firms would compete for it? How did we come up with the dollar amount we agreed to pay?

Commissioner Ron Sapp was the sole opponent of this deal; what have we come to when Sapp is the lone fiscal conservative on our city commission?

This musical chairs is no game. Remember, when the music stops, someone is always stood up. That would be you, the taxpayer – singing the blues again.

Story created Nov 13, 2008 – 10:57:51 PST.


I guess we are just a bunch of dreamy lovers of the arts in our household.  From what I understand there are a bunch or really pissed peeps at this editorial.  Can’t wait to see next Wednesday’s reply section.


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