I’m no big fan of Matt Gaetz, nor especially of certain things he’s said and done lately. But I’m even less of a fan of the Pensacola News Journal’s editorial board member, cartoonist and opinion writer, Andy Marlette. Why am I telling the commissioners this? Because Marlette’s latest diatribe against Gaetz, “Gaetz Gaffes Part II”, further demonstrates what I’ve previously tried to say: Escambia County citizens’ minds have been needlessly and wrongly poisoned against fee simple title for Pensacola Beach leaseholders, and not only by the “yellow shirts,” but also by our own community newspaper.
And since you, esteemed commissioners, are the ones who - at least currently - have the future of fee simple in your hands, it’s crucially important that you, of all people, understand just how wrong it would be to institute a county ordinance blocking title for leaseholders based on the results of last November’s confusing two-part referendum, since those results were, in some unknown proportion, an outgrowth of ongoing misinformation and/or lies dished up over and over to an issue-ignorant public (NOT stupid people; just crucially lacking in knowledge of the issue’s complexities), thanks in no small part to the PNJ.
First of all, if you read (please do!) Marlette’s diatribe linked above, specifically where it addresses Gaetz’s fee simple legislation and the PNJ’s coverage of same, you’ll note that Marlette asserts that “...numerous stories by [reporter] Melissa Nelson Gabriel...covered all sides of the issue extensively, fairly and honestly.” This statement is beyond ludicrous, since, specifically on this matter, Nelson Gabriel is one of the most biased reporters this area has likely ever seen, eschewing meaningful interviews with knowledgeable pro-title individuals, but instead continually pounding into her readers’ heads not only the wording of the 1947 federal deed restrictions, but also blasting the headlines at every conceivable opportunity with scare tactic stories about conflicts between beachgoers and beachfront property owners at other Florida locations having nothing whatsoever to do with the facts of the situation here. Nothing!
In the same piece, Marlette says Gaetz called the PNJ’s reporting “lies,” until, Marlette asserts, “When challenged [by journalists], Gaetz conceded that the reporting was accurate and that he knew it was not lies, despite the fact he had told citizens otherwise.... At last, a moment of truth and revelation. The mighty congressman — a young man willing to lie to the people he serves.”
(Really? Don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to hear Gaetz’s side of that particular story.)
Marlette also castigates Gaetz for his “pushing” the “...so-called ‘fee simple’ bill that would have led to the end of Escambia County citizens’ ownership of many area beaches on Santa Rosa Island.”
That statement, highlighted by me, is the very essence of the spurious untruth (some would say blatant lie, but the effect’s the same) that’s been foisted time and again upon the minds of our citizens. As you should quite well know, under fee simple, ownership of the beaches themselves would not change, and the changed ownership of the adjacent properties would be entirely transparent to the beachgoer, exactly the same as with any other private property adjoining any other public park. (You may be sick of hearing this – heck, I’m sick of writing about it -- but it’s the absolute crux of the matter.)
But no, both the PNJ and the yellow shirts stubbornly continue to say “the beaches” would be stolen, walled off, whatever, and thus need to be “saved.” That’s just pure paranoid poppycock.
So, based on the untruths/lies/whatever one wishes to term them that Marlette and the PNJ continue to spout, I heartily agree with fellow leaseholder Tom Jardine’s PNJ.com comment on the subject Marlette article:
“I can hardly believe that Marlette has the temerity to accuse Matt Gaetz of lying about fee simple,” adding that the one who’s lying about the end of public ownership of Pensacola Beach is Andy Marlette.
Please also look for another email to follow soon, further illustrating with a particularly glaring example just why the well-meaning but woefully misinformed citizens’ November referendum vote should never be the basis for an ordinance blocking the fee simple title option for Pensacola Beach leaseholders.
Thank you for reading,