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Progressive Pod People Infest Fernandina News Leader

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By Dave Scott- 3-15-24

The date the Fernandina News Leader was impregnated by Progressive Pod People can probably be traced back to its acquisition by the New York Times in the 1970s.

Once its liberal seed gestated, Mother Ship Times jettisoned its Nassau County progeny from the nest in 2000.  Its work here was complete.

However, instead of the progeny eagerly anticipated by the NY Times and its local acolytes, the unfortunate offspring exhibited the characteristics of a drunken one-night stand between the Babylon Bee and Rolling Stone resulting in a special needs People’s Daily.

Tracy Dishman, the latest editor/nanny of the Times’ sad descendant is a crotchety Miss Grundy displaying little to no news gathering experience or journalism training. Publisher/grandpa Foy Maloy was neutralized following the Pod People’s intrusion and acts solely as a zombie-like figurehead reduced to grinning at passersby and glad-handing advertisers.

News Leader reporters long ago abandoned the formula for a news story – the “five-W’s-and-an-H.” The paper’s remaining readers need to be reminded that the term refers to who, what, where, when, why, and how. Inside the News Leader pod objectivity is an alien concept.

With the exception of long-time journalist and part-time columnist, Steve Nicklas, and nationally acclaimed local fishing expert, Terry Lacoss, there isn’t a columnist at the News Leader who is the least bit interesting, informative, or humorous. They are either angry, bitter, left wing ideologues or as boring as the Sunday afternoon women’s club quilting session’s idle chit-chat and as bland as a mashed potato-green pea casserole.

Miss Grundy

Creativity and investigative reporting are nonexistent. Recent above-the-fold front page news stories include several about beached whales in Georgia, some 150 miles north of Nassau County, a retiring News-Leader production employee, and a three-quarter page article and photo of a school bus driver who told a child not to step in front of a truck. Nice, feel-good stuff. But hardly front page news.

Newspapers such as the News Leader validate a recent Pew Research Poll survey that found more than two in five Americans say they have little to no trust in the information they get from journalists. It also revealed that the total weekday circulation of locally focused newspapers – print and digital – fell by 40 percent between 2015 and 2020.

I recently submitted a letter critical of far-left columnist, Chuck Oliva, to Ms. Dishman, who informed me I violated the paper’s “Letters to the Editor Policy” by writing: “Olivia’s mug shot shows him perpetually gazing down at his shoes like a guy caught lying to his wife and ashamed to look at her.” Ms. Dishman printed my letter “Unhinged rubbish” in the Friday, March 15, issue with the sentence she objected to omitted.

When I objected to her omitting what I consider an accurate description of Oliva’s picture the “Miss Grundy” in her snapped back saying: “You disagree with what one of our columnists has said but there is no reason to comment on how someone looks.” At that point I gave up. It’s impossible to reason with Pod People.

She also attached a copy of her paper’s letter policy failing to indicate which portions of it she enforces and which ones she ignores.

Maybe he just dozed off.

For example, in the Friday March 8 News Leader there was a 786-word (Yep, I counted them} insomnia-curing letter, headlined: “New development should preserve character and charm.” The paper’s policy Dishman sent me clearly states in its very first sentence: “The word limit for a Letter to the Editor is 600 words.” Oh well, what’s an additional 186 mind-numbing words, particularly when readers dozed off  just 20 words into that snoozer.

“I have sent the News-Leader policy to you before but have attached it again to this email for your reference,” her Miss Grundy alter ego snapped. She failed to highlight those parts of the policy that apply only to me.

The News Leader is so ripe for parody in its blatant hypocrisy and liberal outrageousness that it’s surprising more locals don’t poke fun at it. Maybe because it only appeals to only a small hardcore Fernandina Beach liberal crowd and the rest of Nassau County ignores it. There’s certainly nothing to fear in it, as its snarling cadre of liberal contrarians, busily slurping kale smoothies, are as harmless as the psychedelic idiocy they spew onto its pages from their progressive South 10th Street pod.

Tomes in disguise

Ideological fanatics like the News Leader’s Oliva have carte blanche to write nonsense such as  Republicans “cheated” left-wingers Genece Minshew and Mike Lednovich out of City Commission seats by actually turning out to vote. He can screech “Russia, Russia, Russia” while staring down at his shoes and go unchallenged. His March 13 word jumble “Promises, promises” is a rehash of the mainstream media’s tired repetitive praise of Biden and condemnation of Trump. There isn’t an original idea or thought anywhere to be found.

The photo of Oliva’s equally extreme leftwing colleague, Mark Tomes, portrays a guy who also doesn’t want to be recognized on the street.  His picture shows him wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat shading his face. “Don’t dare question the way he’s disguised, at least not in our pod,” Dishman would likely scold.

The News Leader Pod is infested with ideological fury, dishonesty, hysteria, ineptitude and a collective venomous attitude. Anyone disagreeing with it must be silenced, vilified, and punished. Or put to sleep and bored to death.

The NY Times must be very proud of its Fernandina offspring.


Bioethanol, Ethanol, Ethtanol, Whatever, Just Get Outa Town: A News Leader front page story complete with this photo of a local resident named “Jack” who apparently doesn’t know “Jack” about spelling or possibly why he’s even protesting appeared in the pod paper’s front page Friday, March 8.

The article was bylined by a News Leader  “reporter” with the fortunate name of “Julia Roberts”. Ms. Roberts extensively quoted area gadfly Margaret Davis, who never misses an opportunity to publicly preach to Fernandina residents and local businesses about what they should or shouldn’t do.

Both Ms. Davis and wannabe Brenda Starr reporter Roberts appeared highly disappointed they couldn’t find any antagonistic Rayonier executives to engage them in verbal combat. There were no exploding corncobs (ethanol is also a derivative of corn} or sneering executives, only articulate and knowledgeable Rayonier employees who politely and articulately answered questions.

A couple members of  the tiny group of four or five misguided protestors happily predicted their typical unsubstantiated “end-of-the-world” prophesies, which Ms. Roberts hungerly reported.

Once again Rayonier’s engineers and professional PR team smoothly and accurately fielded  question after question with ease without having to initiate a call to its bullpen. They’re as skillful at explaining the benefits of their products and safety procedures as they are at producing, implementing and marketing them.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said it will approve a permit for Rayonier to produce bioethanol. I’m sure the tiny contingent of protestors will conduct an emergency meeting and invite Ms. Roberts to join them in their handwringing session.

Fernandina Beach is fortunate to have such a good corporate citizen and employer.


The News Cavalry Arrives: A cavalry of balanced reporting has arrived in Nassau County both in print and online.

A couple of years ago southern California refugee George Miller arrived here and set up shop with his digital newspaper https://www.citizensjournal.net. He successfully published a similar product in southern California and his startup here is gaining considerable traction. There is no print version. Miller and his staff do an excellent job of analysis and covering events ignored by the News Leader.

Publisher Matt Davis, a former Ohio police officer and Lowe’s traveling sales manager, is making a big splash with his print and online Yulee News and recently hired the Ponte Verde Recorder’s Amber Lake, as editor. The paper is continuously adding more pages, writers and features as its advertising revenue increases. Racks of the now free print edition can be found at various shops in Nassau county or by going to www.yuleenews.com

Both publications carry this column.


Speaking of The Cavalry Riding To The Rescue: Following the February 10 Chili Cookoff in downtown Fernandina Beach my wife, Linda, toppled off her bicycle while cycling home from the event.

Kevin Ross, a first responder member of the Rescue 1, A Shift of the Fernandina Fire Department administered medical treatment while rushing Linda by ambulance to Jacksonville’s UF Medical Hospital.

Kevin notified me through my pal Pajama Dave as we were cleaning up following the event. Good friend Bill Cimino drove me to the Jacksonville facility where Linda was being treated by the emergency room medical staff. It was determined she didn’t have a concussion but suffered a head laceration and two fractured ribs. She spent two nights at the hospital for observation and treatment.

The incredibly fast response by Mr. Ross and the others at the FBFD was more than impressive. We are indeed fortunate to have such a dedicated, efficient, and sympathetic crew of professionals serving our community. Their incredible work goes mostly unnoticed and unrecognized. They deserve a truck load of accolades for their service and professionalism.

Not only did Kevin’s speedy response and professionalism get Linda the fast medical care required, but he went beyond his duties. When I returned home from the hospital that evening Linda’s bike was parked in front of our garage. A few days later day Kevin stopped by with an envelope containing one of Linda’s earrings he found at the accident site.

This is our second introduction to this crew’s incredible response and competence. In 2013 they responded to Linda’s 911 call after I suffered a stroke at home and arrived at our house within 10 minutes, providing treatment and transportation to the Weaver Stroke Center at Jacksonville Shands that probably saved my life.

We are beyond grateful for the care, courtesy and concern displayed by this group of dedicate public professionals. Thank you!


Florida Home Insurance Dilemma: Premium increases greater than 50% on homeowner policies by two insurance companies will be considered in hearings by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

The requested rate hikes are a result of natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding and rising reconstruction costs. They come as Florida’s legislative leaders grapple with proposed solutions to the state’s rising rates.

According to Center Square news service Castle Key has asked for approval to increase its average rate for its Homeowners Multi-Peril Condominium insurance by 53.5%, and Amica is asking to increase its statewide average premium for dwelling fire insurance by 54.1%. Some insurers have abandoned Florida altogether saying it’s too risky.

It isn’t helping residents hereabouts that the Nassau County School Board and Fernandina City Commission are piling on with their pet projects further adding to taxpayer misery. Those increases are on top of the last school tax increase encouraged by devious Superintendent Kathy Burns,  property tax increases, high interest rates on mortgages, and increased utility rates, thus leading to high rents and mortgage payments.

These increasing financial burdens are driving many families to reconsider moving here, locals to abandon the area, and others to forsake any hope of purchasing or renting a residence

Residents should keep all of this in mind when they enter the voting booth this year.


Attention General Austin Wherever You Are: If they can find him Pentagon officials may want to introduce Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to the Israeli Lieutenant colonel who, when asked if the Israeli Air Force had any initiatives to increase diversity in its ranks, responded saying: “While there are efforts to recruit a broad swath of Israeli citizens assignments and promotions are based on ability. A person has to earn the pilot’s seat in an F-35, because when Israel is at war, Israel must win. It can’t afford to embrace such a divisive and destructive ideology.”

Republished with the author’s permission. Read The Dave Scott Blog– subscribe Free

Veteran reporter, publicist, blogger Dave Scott of Fernandina Beach

The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.

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