FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – When you think of a mayor, chances are you don’t picture someone tending bar at the local watering hole. But Fernandina Beach Mayor Johnny Miller wears both hats – and he was recently busted for serving booze to a minor.
It was during an undercover sting sometime Thursday in Fernandina that Miller, a bartender at the iconic Palace Saloon downtown, was cited by the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco for serving alcohol to an underage customer.
“The incident at the Palace Saloon was under the auspices of the State Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. It is that agency that will apply, if warranted, appropriate penalties to either the establishment (Palace Saloon) or the server (Johnny Miller),” City Manager Dale Martin said.
Multiple attempts by News4Jax to reach Miller for comment were unsuccessful.
Ordinarily, the Palace Saloon checks customers’ identification at the door in the evening. But News4Jax has been told that this incident happened during the day when bartenders are told to check IDs at the bar before they serve someone.
The citation has people in Fernandina talking. Those we spoke with expressed mixed feelings about what happened and whether Miller's job tending bar has anything to do with his official duties as a city commissioner and the mayor.
"He wasn't doing it in our daily routine of being a mayor," said Timothy Maye. "It was his job on the side. I think they have to be completely separate."
"I have different thoughts about him being mayor after some of the different things that have gone on in town," resident John Kurts told News4Jax. "Probably (need) somebody a little more professional in that capacity, and it showed with Amelia Bluff and the lack of professionalism showed."
News4Jax reached out to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The agency responded with an email that acknowledged it was investigating the incident, but did not go into detail:
“The complaint and all information obtained pursuant to the investigation by the department are confidential and exempt from (public release) until 10 days after probable cause has been found to exist by the probable cause panel or by the department, or until the regulated professional or subject of the investigation waives his or her privilege of confidentiality, whichever occurs first.”