Fernandina Beach leaders: When the quiet ones speak, you’ve crossed the line

We recently wrote about the angst of the people of Fernandina Beach over the heavy-handed tactics of some in their city government. Eye was surprised at the amount of people who responded to our post and one gentlemen stood out from the rest, Mr. John Dodd.

John Dodd is a local architect and shares a goal we all have…to live in peace. He’s a quiet man and as we spoke I had the thought…

“When quiet men speak up, you’ve crossed the line.”

Mr. Dodd told us he was 100% dissatisfied with the Fernandina Beach building department…specifically Stephen Beckman. He said the department has become abusive and the community has suffered at the hands of the building department. He was equally upset at the indifference of the City Manager, Dale Martin who oversees Mr. Beckman.

He said he has personally felt the wrath of the over-enforcement and bullying of Mr. Beckman. He said, “I’ve been an architect for 30 years and have never had to deal with such a malicious department as the Fernandina Beach building department.” He even stated he was tired of “living in fear” of them!

In an article written by Mr. Beckman in the Fernandina Observer in October 2020, Mr. Beckman stated,

“I have spent most of my career as a builder and understand the needs of the builder and the codes that apply. I strive to enforce the building codes and local laws and ordinances in a manner that makes us more of a team player with the building community rather than a roadblock.”

Evidently those are hollow words to the majority of builders, contractors, developers and home owners who have come in contact with Mr. Beckman’s tyrannical tactics as noted in a survey conducted by the local Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Dodd also saw those words as hollow when he told us, “Mr. Beckman’s behaviors have absolutely destroyed the working environment for improving our lives and our buildings. Not only through his enforcement, but by his personality. He is incapable of rehabilitation and needs to be excused. His professional offenses and criminal behavior should have led to termination.”

Mr. Dodd, the quiet man, has had enough and was equally upset with City Manager Dale Martin’s response to the survey results. He felt Mr. Martin’s indifference to Mr. Beckman’s tactics is inexcusable and his lack of care and concern are absolutely ridiculous, shallow, reek of corruption and his lack of leadership over this situation is dragging the city down.

Eye checked out the mission of the City Manager for Fernandina Beach and in his words they are:

“The City of Fernandina Beach is dedicated to the provision of high-quality municipal services for its residents, businesses, and visitors. In order to fulfill this mission, the City Manager provides organizational leadership that: Fosters Teamwork — Builds the City’s capacity to provide quality service — and — Encourages a city-wide focus on customer satisfaction.

It appears there is a big disconnect between the words and mission of Mr. Martin. It might be time for a review and renewed interest in achieving the mission.

Mr. Dodd didn’t let the City Commissioners off the hook either. He said they have allowed this demon to grow exponentially and they are doing nothing under their watch to fix it.

Patience is running thin with many who took time to fill out the survey. Like Mr. Dodd, most everyone just wants to proudly and professionally do their work, enjoy their lives and live in a peaceful community. When you hear the statement, “I am past the point of caring about any repercussions from anyone I have called out about this situation” — you know the tide is turning in this beach community and the quiet ones will not tolerate this situation anymore.

Mr. Dodd and others who are speaking up are true patriots because they are boldly addressing how public servants should treat those they serve. Eye sends all a big Wink for standing up and speaking up against their local government officials’ behaviors.

We will leave you with this: A peaceful government sows a peaceful people.

It’s simple Fernandina city leaders – sow peace. If you don’t know how to do that, you should leave your positions of authority and let others take the lead because when the quiet ones speak, you’ve crossed the line.

Billie Tucker Volpe Founder of Eye on Jacksonville and Leadership Consultant to CEOs/Executives


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