On Volusia: The Pageant of Power

I think most people who are still paying attention have come to the realization that our elected officials on the Volusia County Council aren’t the “best and brightest” we have to offer.

Not by a long shot.

But they know how to take direction, and their malleable situational ethics combine with a high opinion of themselves to make them the perfect tools for the uber-wealthy political insiders who manipulate public policy through the infusion of massive campaign contributions into local elections – and by providing political protection for what passes for county management.

When I began this experiment in alternative opinion blogging, one of my first sorties into county politics was an aptly headed piece entitled, “Qui Bono?” (Who Benefits?) expressing my frustration with Volusia County for its apparent inability to recognize that the base problem with the proposed half-cent sales tax initiative isn’t so much the tariff itself – everyone sees the need for transportation infrastructure – it is the fact that our elected and appointed officials in the county seat have lost basic credibility with their constituents.

I later updated my original screed when it became apparent this money grubbing tax wasn’t going away.

(Find it here: https://barkersview.org/2017/04/11/on-volusia-qui-bono-redux/ )

The bottom line is, We, The People, simply don’t trust them anymore.

And why should we?

Name one damned thing this clique of bought-and-paid-for political Muppets have done that would engender the confidence of their long-suffering constituents?

Go ahead, I’ll wait. . .

The fact is, time-and-time again, the members of the Volusia County Council have proven what they are – a rubber stamp for massive “economic development” incentives paid like clockwork to their wealthy campaign donors – spineless politicians (in the loosest sense of the word) who have no qualms about pissing backwards on campaign promises (remember your emotional assurance to NEVER vote to remove vehicles from behind the Hard Rock, Ms. Denys?  I do.)

Add to that the countless instances where our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, and his fellow elected dullards, have bent over, en masse, to accommodate the needs, wants and whims of yet another flimsy speculative developer by giving away the people’s century-old heritage of beach driving and access in exchange for a parking lot and another tasteless theme hotel.

Now that elected officials in all of Volusia’s 16 municipalities have followed the strict edict of those self-serving quadrillionaire’s over at the CEO Business Alliance and resolved to support the county’s half-cent cash snatch – the majority of our elected marionettes on the County Council are demanding that they grovel before the Dais of Power in DeLand and formally beg the Monarchy to put the initiative on the ballot this fall.

No shit.

(As though wild horses could keep Little Jimmy Dinneen from getting his obscene tax plan before the voters, right?)

Just when you thought these arrogant, morally bankrupt assholes couldn’t sink lower – they reached whale turd depths when they demanded that a representative from each city bow their heads and parade before them, hat in hand, like the slavish vassals they have become, to demonstrate lock-step support for strapping every man, woman and child of the third highest taxed county in Florida with an even heavier burden.


Because they were told to.  That’s why.

You see, the High Panjandrums of Political Power that call the shots here on the Fun Coast don’t limit their campaign contributions to just county elections – and if the cities want their share of the crumbs left after Volusia County takes the lion’s share – they will do as they are told and prostrate themselves before their superiors in a pathetic display of “solidarity.”

In my view, the ultimate goal of this shameless scam of a tax increase is to ensure that all the right last names have an even larger pool of our hard-earned cash from which to fund private projects, provide access to their mega-developments, or perhaps erect another phallic symbol to their own self-importance in the form of a glass and steel office building with their name at the top.


I mean, the backroom deals and cream skimming has gotten so out-of-hand in Volusia County that we now need something they’re calling a “sales tax oversight advisory committee” to ensure that our elected officials follow the rules and spend transportation infrastructure funds as they were intended.

Jesus.  What are we becoming?

I find it interesting that South Daytona City Manager Joe Yarborough – the longest serving manager in Volusia County – who coordinated this tax sham with the other municipalities –  acquiesced to this bullshit and agreed to debase his city council, and the residents of his community, by supporting this repugnant pageant of fealty to Volusia County?

My hope is that our municipal officials will search around the dusty corners of their various City Hall’s and find what’s left of their civic pride and dignity – then reject this lurid display of sycophantic groveling before their masters in DeLand.

My God.  Show some fucking backbone.

In my view, this orchestrated display of kneeling before the King’s Court sets the wrong tone and further weakens the independence of the municipalities and their right to self-determination.

To any city official within earshot:

Show some pride, dammit.

I guarantee the act of kissing the county council’s collective ass in an open public meeting won’t convince one more long-suffering citizen of Volusia County – you know, your cash-strapped constituents who work hard at the menial scullery jobs available in our artificial economy – to support the pilferage of one more nickel for our Rich & Powerful overseers.



Sons of the Beach: A Call to Action!

“Grassroots advocacy itself has the power to sway hearts and minds of elected officials, regulators and the media, tapping into public sentiment to feed itself and refresh its ranks with new activists that are unafraid to participate and anxious to contribute both in time and treasure to a cause in which they believe.”

 –Joshua Habursky and Mike Fulton, “The Future of Politics is Grassroots,” The Hill, March 2017

As an intrepid member of the Barker’s View tribe, you already know that our century-old heritage of beach driving in Volusia County is under attack by speculative developers, entrenched political insiders and the elected representatives they openly control.

Within days, another 410 linear feet of the strand behind the Hard Rock Daytona will be closed to vehicular access.


Since 1984, Sons of the Beach has been Florida’s premiere beach access advocacy, fighting hard to preserve our tradition of beach driving and the unique access it provides Volusia County residents and visitors.

Trust me – it’s not easy to challenge a well-established power structure with the ability to influence public policy through massive campaign donations and financial relationships with hand-picked political candidates.

But there is strength in numbers – especially when it comes to effecting political change.

Are you a member of Sons of the Beach?

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to go to www.sonsofthebeach.org and sign up – its free (although donations are accepted through the website).  Once you’ve done that, simply print your membership card and know that your participation is helping to preserve beach access for generations to come.

It’s important.  Now, more than ever.

I’m asking everyone who reads Barker’s View – whether you agree with my screeds or not – to please join me this Sunday, March 25th, for the Sons of the Beach Fundraiser at Crabby Joe’s Deck and Grill, 3701 South Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach Shores – on the Sunglow Pier.

It will be great to come together and enjoy a cold beverage at one of the most scenic locations in the Halifax area – and your fellow SOB members are some of the nicest, most civic-minded people you’ll ever meet.

The event will be held from 1:00pm to 4:00pm and will feature live music by Jeff and the Sons of the Beach Band, legal updates on pending legislation and SOB suits and planning information on the upcoming Hard Rock protest in response to Volusia County’s wholesale giveaway of our tradition of beach driving behind the hotel.

Please participate in fun raffles for awesome door prizes, the 50/50 drawing and grab a new SOB T-shirt and other cool swag just in time for summer!

All proceeds go to support the Sons of the Beach Legal Team as they work hard to protect OUR RIGHT to beach access in Volusia County.

If I could ask a small favor – please share this on your social media pages to ensure widest possible dissemination.

Thank you!  I look forward to seeing everyone Sunday afternoon!




On Volusia: Yesterday’s gone

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone. . .

–Fleetwood Mac, “Don’t Stop” 1977

If recent events are any indication, it appears to me that Hard Rock International cares even less about its employees than it does about the quality standards and guest experience at its franchise locations.

Effective next month, the company will shutter its corporate headquarters in Orlando – a move marked by the layoffs of nearly 200 central Florida employees.

According to a statement issued in September, “Hard Rock International . . . will move staff headquarters from Orlando to South Florida, joining forces with ownership, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and The Seminole Gaming organization.  The opportunity to combine the world-class talent of all three companies will create an even more powerful organization.” 

At the time, insiders reported that Hard Rock intends to focus almost exclusively on the gaming side of the house, now that casino operations dominate.

Although Hard Rock International initially said Orlando-based employees would be provided pay increases, relocation assistance and professional outplacement for spouses making the move south – at the end of the day – only sixteen people were transferred, leaving 184 former Hard Rock employees out on their ass.

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel (the Daytona Beach News-Journal hasn’t touched this story with a ten-foot pole), former Hard Rock corporate executive chef Russell Booth said only a few people were making the move to South Florida – and he wasn’t aware of the company paying severance.  Chef Booth resigned in November.

Eventually, even a dullard like me understands that when it comes to corporate press releases and brand marketing bullshit in what passes for the “hospitality” industry – rarely is the truth considered or incorporated into the “spin” sold to the public.

It’s kind of like Volusia County government in that regard.

For instance, last month, when Hard Rock International was scrambling to certify their languishing Daytona franchisee in time to secure the county-offered “incentive” of the complete removal of our heritage of beach driving behind the hotel, the company quibbled that the property, “…will meet Hard Rock International’s aforementioned brand standards and franchise requirements…”

Then, they pencil-whipped the certification – and Volusia County accepted it – even though everyone could see the on-going construction, substandard condition of the external seawall, crumbling support posts and a forest of jack-stands in the parking garage.

Yet our gutless politicians, the strategically gullible Chamber of Commerce set – and even our local newspaper of record – jumped on the bandwagon and cheered what County Manager Jim Dinneen had the shameless impudence to call the most “luxurious” hotel in a hundred-mile radius.

Jesus.  Sheriff Chitwood was right.

How does that lying sack of shit sleep at night?

Now, anecdotal reports are that the hotel is using nearly half of our “public” parking lot south of the Hard Rock for employees and valet service – completely defeating the stated purpose of replacing vehicular access with “off-beach” parking – thus securing the semi-private strand we all knew was coming.

(Can’t say I blame them, I wouldn’t want to park in that rickety subterranean garage either. . .)

Soon, a phalanx of ugly, chemically-treated wooden utility poles will be driven into the sand behind the Hard Rock – adorned with officious signage notifying beach-goers of the traffic-free strand – and the pernicious pact between Hard Rock and their elected corporate shills will be complete.

Folks, we live in an environment where honesty, government transparency and a sense of fair play has been replaced with the ethos “it’s only wrong if you get caught.”

The result is a dull, blighted place where tacky hotels and “theme” subdivisions become more important than our collective quality of life – and those we trust to protect our interests allow speculative developers to churn sensitive greenspace into an environmental abattoir for another fucking WaWa.

It’ll be better than before – yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone. . .




On Volusia: The Faustian Bargain

Down in the Mississippi Delta near Clarksdale stands the intersection of Highway 61 and US 49.

A story is told about the legendary bluesman, Robert Johnson, who grew up in abject poverty on a plantation in rural Coahoma County.  He is said to have stood at the crossroads one dark night and sold his very soul to the devil in exchange for mastery of the guitar and the incredible success and ultimate escape it would bring.

It’s a tale as old as time, really.

Throughout history – from St. Theophilus of Adana to Doctor Faustus – cautionary yarns have been spun of men and women who, in a misguided pursuit of personal riches and power, fall victim to temptation and sell out who and what they are for what they desperately hope to become.

But what happens when folklore becomes reality?

In my view, Volusia County has become a despicable example of just how pernicious crony capitalism, through the corruption of the campaign finance system, can be when uber-wealthy individuals and their corporate entities repeatedly secure a political quid pro quo from local office holders.

In fact, it represents a legal return on investment in a system that permits a privileged few to develop financial relationships with potential and current office holders, then obtain direct access to the public purse in the form of preferential tax breaks, infrastructure and even direct subsidies for their private projects.

In exchange for the all-important financial resources and political clout local candidates receive as an anointing from Volusia’s “Rich & Powerful,” our elected officials are expected to perform their role like the bought-and-paid-for chattel they are whenever an issue directly involving the self-interests and profit motives of their campaign benefactors presents itself before the dais of power.

The result is a slow erosion of the public’s trust in the legitimacy of their own government.

In Volusia County – a region with some 17% of the population living at or below the poverty level – we see the results of these so-called “public/private partnerships” – a concept that generally means the right last names will be granted public funds to reduce overhead on the development of a private enterprise.

It’s most obvious at places like One Daytona and the newest and bestest “Game Changer” on Beach Street – the super-hyped Brown & Brown headquarters campus.

Just these two projects have taken a collective $50-million in public funds – all facilitated by County Manager Jim Dinneen – a flimsy excuse for a public executive whose sole purpose is to direct the priorities of the elected body away from the broader public interest and keep them focused on the needs, wants and whims of well-heeled insiders.

Look, I know I sound like a broken record, but, in my view, nothing has had a more deleterious effect on our economic viability, equal access to government decision-makers, or compromised basic fairness in the local marketplace like this sinister disease of cronyism and the ensuing backroom deals that are routinely sprung – ambush-style – on an unsuspecting constituency.

It also manifests in insidious tariffs – such as sales-based “enhanced amenity fees” at places like the taxpayer subsidized One Daytona complex – and money-grubbing sales tax increases, ostensibly for transportation infrastructure, which our local governments are actively groveling for  (don’t worry, the flashlight-under-the-chin scary stories of what will happen if We, The People fail to cough-up the extra half-cent will be coming later this summer. . .).

Add to that the absolute refusal of our elected dullards on the dais of power in DeLand to even discuss increasing impact fees or requiring that mega-developers pay a smidgen of their fair share of the cost to the public posed by lucrative unchecked growth, and you begin to see the seriousness of the problem in Volusia County.

Unfortunately, our newspaper of record, The Daytona Beach News-Journal, far too often ignores the obvious and tacitly supports the goals of this oligarchical system by touting the potential benefits of a massive entertainment/shopping complex built with the assistance of $40-million in public funds by the billionaire International Speedway Corporation – or wailing about what a boon the complete removal of motorcycle special events, or handing over a public park, to accommodate the wants of super-insider and High Panjandrum of Political Power, J. Hyatt Brown, will be for long-suffering Beach Street merchants.

But what if all this rosy, “Happy Days are Here Again, again!” horseshit turns out not to be the case?

What happens if the highly-touted Brown & Brown building turns out to be just what it is – another glossy glass-and-steel insurance office, where corporate drones arrive at seven – eat lunch in their cubical – then hit the gate at five-o’clock and return to the relative comfort of a zero-lot-line, wood framed gated community in north Ormond?

What if a few years from now, One Daytona finds that people aren’t so willing to take even more hard-earned cash from their own pocket to pay ISC for dubious “enhanced amenities” as a requisite fee for patronizing a shopping center they financially subsidized with their tax dollars?

And what about the wholesale squandering of public access to our most precious natural amenity – and giveaways of our century-old heritage of beach driving – as a means of “incentivizing” the developer du jour (who just happens to be emerging as a major campaign donor in the 2018 County Council election)?

It’s out of control, folks – and it’s getting worse.

And only the electorate of Volusia County can change it.

I encourage all voters to carefully study the legally required public campaign contribution reports for all local candidates for public office during the important 2018 election cycle – I assure you they tell an interesting story.

Then form your own opinion on these continuing Faustian bargains that have been so detrimental to our social, environmental and economic progress.


Angels & Assholes for March 16, 2018

Hi, Kids!

Wow!  It’s Friday once again!

As we enter the last exciting weekend of Bike Week 2018 (Wait, can I say the “B-W” word?  Or will the Chamber of Commerce threaten to sue me for trademark infringement like they’ve done to so many small local businesses this week?) I thought we might have some fun and play a little game I like to call, “What the Hell?”

As always, our friends at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Beachside Redevelopment Committee and Regional Chamber of Commerce are welcome to join in the Wide. Open. Fun!

For those who haven’t played with us before, the rules are simple – study the photograph below and take a wild-ass guess if the scene depicted is in: A. Colony Liaquat, Karachi B. The Dharavi slum, Mumbai or C. The Daytona Beach Resort Area: 

EV 1

If you picked the county-owned property at A-1-A and Cardinal Drive in Ormond Beach’s core tourist area – give yourself a Gold Star! 

Yep! This weeping chancre on the buttock of The Birthplace of Speed is wholly owned by us – you and me, the good citizens of Volusia County – even as the elected and appointed officials we pay handsomely to manage the property allow it to rot in place, dragging down our property values and discouraging visitors from ever returning to the Fun Coast!

Thanks for playing along!

For those who mistook the picture for a slit-trench latrine in Orangi Town – Sorry, close but no cigar. . .

There’s always next week!

It’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way.

Let’s see who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was:

Asshole:                      County of Volusia

 You may have noticed that County Manager Jim Dinneen, and our elected marionettes on the Dais of Power in DeLand, occupy a perennial place on this hyper-opinionated Shit List each week.


Because of their pomposity and haughty condescension toward the municipalities – and their constituents – in matters large and small.

That’s why.

Let me give you a recent example.

In early 2016, the County of Volusia and the City of DeLand – which is arguably the most progressive, well-managed community in the region – entered negotiations to swap a municipal annex currently being rented for $50,000 annually by the county, for the former Volusia County jail, a decrepit, now valueless county-owned building which occupies prime real estate on West New York Avenue near America’s best downtown.

One of the pinch points at the time came when County Manager Jim Dinneen had the petty gall to demand a promise from city officials that the “property would be used for development.”

According to a February 2017 article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Mr. Dinneen arrogantly tut-tutted, “We don’t want to swap property and for them to turn it into a park,” he said.  “We are really interested in creating jobs.  We want to know what kind of economic development plan they have.”

Hey, Jimmy – step outside your friggin’ office.

That’s what kind of an “economic development” plan DeLand has – in fact, it was recently named “America’s Main Street.”

What an insufferable ninny. . .

In my view, the only thing Jim Dinneen has “invested in” is his own self-interests and those of the wealthy insiders who provide him political protection.  Unless it involves handing millions in public funds to his political handlers to benefit private projects, Little Jimmy is clueless when it comes to the mechanics of actual “economic development” initiatives.

Rather than provide basic preventive maintenance – even to the building’s visibly shabby exterior – in typical fashion, Mr. Dinneen simply allowed it to decompose.

As a result, our building has become a worthless environmental disaster which will ultimately cost the City of DeLand some $200,000 to demolish and haul off.

You read that right.

Ultimately, it’s money well-spent.

Dinneen is sitting on a turd of his own creation – another publicly-owned building gone to seed on his watch – while demanding “promises” from the City of DeLand before they can fill the ugly “doughnut hole” of squalor that’s been holding up progress for decades?

Wow.  That takes sand.

In keeping with their commitment to ‘get it right,’ DeLand officials enlisted the help of a regional architectural and engineering firm to create a vision for how the property can best enhance the quaint dining and entertainment district on Georgia Avenue and beyond.

Now, the city is asking stakeholders – the citizens of DeLand – to suggest private investors and developers who would be willing to partner on the project.

(Can you recall the last time Volusia County asked our opinion on anything?) 

The fact is, Jim Dinneen and his highly-paid administration didn’t have a clue what to do with the “Old Jail” – and those dullards we elected to represent our interests were even less inspired.

If they cared a whit about public resource management, “jobs,” or a viable economic development plan, the building wouldn’t have been allowed to deteriorate into what the editor of DeLand’s hometown newspaper, The Beacon, called a “trash-strewn ghetto.”

Unbelievable?  Not really.

We’ve come to expect it.

Now that he’s standing for reelection, perhaps it’s time the citizens of West Volusia ask their elected representative – “Sleepy” Pat Patterson – exactly when he plans to get his head out of his ass and start representing their interests?

It’s the “vision” thing, folks.  You either have it, or you don’t.

Angel:             Palm Coast Councilwoman Heidi Shipley

Regular readers of this goofy forum frequently suggest various newsmakers for inclusion in this weekly column – and, because Barker’s View is a staunch supporter of the democratic process – I take these recommendations to heart.

This week, a few intrepid members of the BV tribe formally nominated Palm Coast Councilwoman Heidi Shipley for “Angel” status following her highly-publicized – and totally appropriate – dress down of City Manager Jim “Short-Timer” Landon, at the March 6 City Council meeting.

The fact is, under the council/manager form of government, most charters extend awesome powers to the manager – to include the autonomous ability to hire, fire, promote and (to a degree) establish pay and benefit packages for senior staff not covered by collective bargaining agreements.

In theory, this system protects government operations from petty politics, while allowing the people oversight through their elected officials, whose only real operational responsibility is to hire and fire the manager.

However, in this case, Mr. Landon has – as an obvious political survival strategy – announced that he will retire from public service next year.

As a veteran of the internecine political wars that Palm Coast is famous for, if Mr. Landon didn’t realize that telegraphing his departure would be fraught with unintended consequences – like having his every move scrutinized by critics as he makes his way toward the door – well, he should have.

Recently, Mr. Landon moved to appoint an underling to the lofty role of Assistant City Manager – then, unilaterally gifted his new second a $15,216 pay increase – apparently without mentioning any of it to the people’s elected representatives.

As the meeting wound down, Landon made a brief mention of the internal promotion – yet failed to report the enormity of the accompanying pay raise, something that took more than one sitting council member by surprise.

For a few brief months, I served as a municipal manager – the worst time of my career (I still have a permanent limp) – and I quickly learned that the one unforgivable sin for a public administrator is allowing the elected officials to walk into a public meeting without the facts as you know them.

All of the facts.

This “shoot it through the grease” method of informing the council of an important internal transfer took Councilwoman Shipley by surprise – and she let Mr. Landon know exactly how she felt about it.

That shit might work in a bastardized oligarchy like Volusia County, but it appears Palm Coast is slightly more sophisticated when it comes to fiscal responsibility – and administrative accountability.

In defense of her constituents, Ms. Shipley made a motion to curtail any further large-scale pay increases without council approval.  Naturally, Mr. Landon got his hackles up, calling Ms. Shipley’s challenge to his divine authority “offensive.”

Regardless of intent, perhaps Mr. Landon should understand that, as a lame duck manager with one foot out the door and the other on the proverbial ‘Nanner peel, some skeptics might misinterpret his generous personnel action as feathering the nest of a friend in his waning days – something the City Council has an ethical and fiduciary responsibility to prevent.

In my view, we need more elected officials like Heidi Shipley, good people who aren’t afraid to speak truth to power – throw some sharp elbows when necessary – and demonstrate the political courage to stand up for the best interests of their constituents and community.

Angel:             Volusia Bureau of Investigation

 Kudos to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and member agencies of VBI for their outstanding efforts in dismantling a regional heroin trafficking organization operating in West Volusia and beyond.

According to reports, earlier this week, simultaneous search warrants were served on target locations in Deltona, Debary and in the Orlando area, raids which resulted in the seizure of 3.3 pounds of heroin having a street value of more than $150,000, along with cash derived from the sale of this deadly substance.

This represents important work by many dedicated officers and agents, men and women who work aggressively behind the scenes in the shadows of a very dangerous underworld to keep our community safe from the scourge of illicit drugs.

Congratulations to Sheriff Mike Chitwood and the Volusia Bureau of Investigation for their good work in bringing these despicable bastards to justice.

Asshole:          Daytona Beach City Commission

 I mentioned this a few days ago, but it bears repeating.

As Bike Week 2018 ends, we will begin the long goodbye for a special event that has, in many ways, come to define the Daytona Beach Resort Area as much as beach driving or NASCAR.

For some 77-years, Daytona Bike Week, the nation’s premiere motorcycle rally, has brought millions of visitors to the Halifax area – many returning year-after-year to enjoy the unique festivities each spring.

I’ll be honest, it’s never been my “thing” – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been on a motorcycle – but its popularity in years past was a boon to local restaurants, bars, hoteliers and small businesses throughout the region.

There’s no doubt the event has developed a large footprint, and sometimes the interface of loud pipes and normally quiet neighborhoods becomes a friction point, but, by and large, I think most locals have come to accept the event for what it is, secure in the knowledge that come Sunday afternoon it will be like it never even happened.

Other smart people have argued for years that Main Street cannot undergo the transformation we have all been hoping for unless and until the rally is moved from its traditional epicenter on the beachside.

I dunno.

Progressive communities like DeLand seem capable of hosting a variety of arts, entertainment and special events throughout the year – right in the heart of a very vibrant and walkable commercial corridor – a place with many attributes (and storefronts) like those found on Main Street.

Unfortunately, I happen to believe that the entire core tourist area of our beachside is a tempest of competing interests – marked by entrenched property owners with a profit motive – a few of which possess the financial and political clout to keep any substantive change to the lucrative status quo in check.

I think the impressive members of Volusia’s Beachside Redevelopment Committee are still coming to grips with just how pig-headed some of these factions can be.

However, when it comes to spreading the wealth with Bike Week events on Daytona’s mainland – things, they are a changin’.

In December 2017, Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm sent a legally required notice to the city’s current host for Bike Week’s itinerant vendors on Beach Street, informing them that the contract will not be renewed after Biketoberfest this fall.

Then, in January, the Daytona Beach City Commission voted to terminate that agreement, which sounds the death knell for biker-related events in Downtown Daytona – something made popular by the late Bruce Rossmeyer – before small-minded officials in the City of Daytona Beach drove his enterprise out of the community, signaling the birth of the hugely successful bike events in north Ormond Beach.

Unfortunately, no one from the City of Daytona Beach had the common courtesy to tell merchants, including area motorcycle-related businesses who have invested heavily in the success of our beleaguered downtown – only to be left high-and-dry when it came time to shut the carnival down to make way for the next “bigger, better and bestest” game changer.

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the long-time dealership, Indian Motorcycle of Daytona Beach – a business who receives 85% of their revenue during the 14-day biannual special event periods – was caught completely unaware of the move to eliminate the festival of vendors on Beach Street when they recently renewed a five-year lease on their downtown showroom.

Who does that to a year-round business who has struggled to maintain a presence and a viable enterprise on Beach Street?  

Where’s the oversight?

My God.

Tragically, it appears our elected and appointed officials at all levels of government have all but abandoned residents and small business in a blind clamor to please their feudal lords – using even more of our limited public amenities, and precious few special events, as “incentives” on top of the millions in public funds we have already showered on totally private projects of dubious public benefit.

I mean, when is enough, enough?

With J. Hyatt Brown working overtime to “rezone” Riverfront Park and Manatee Island – a large swath of public property stretching from the south slope of the Main Street bridge to the Josie Rogers House east of Beach Street – it’s clear he has no use for a bunch of gritty bikers milling around his new headquarters, and adjoining “public/private” greenspace, twice each year (you know, the building many of those local bikers and businesses helped underwrite with their hard-earned tax dollars?)

So, like magic – the whole Beach Street special events experience just went away.

I wonder what long-suffering Beach Street merchants must be thinking now that one of the few draws to the area has been quashed to make way for the “next big thing”?

Asshole:          Volusia County Attorney’s Office

I happen to be a huge fan of The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s editorialist Mark Lane.

He brings a sideways view of the news of the day – and explains complex issues in a fun, common-sense style that I enjoy.

Unfortunately, I disagree with his recent piece, “We need to plan now for a different beach in 2031.”

Let me explain:

During a recent mediation with the City of Daytona Beach Shores over Volusia County’s hostile seizure of prime beachfront real estate – parcels which will ultimately be removed from the tax roll and converted into “off-beach” parking – Deputy County Attorney Jamie Seaman, an odd savant who always seems to know everything about anything that will further the county’s hidden agenda, announced that the clock is ticking on beach driving and access, whether us yokels like it or not.

In typical fashion, Seaman got the collective hand-wringing started when she cast doubt about the future of a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which allows beach driving under certain onerous conditions.

“I know that we have lost a substantial amount of beach, our elevation has changed, our tides are higher. I think it’s going to be a challenge … in 2030 to get that permit renewed.”

Now, Mr. Lane has added credence to the county’s latest gloom and doom beach forecast by calling for the development of alternative access and parking plans should driving be eliminated by federal edict in 2030.

Look, I realize that a dozen years is nothing in “government time,” where any public issue, other than handing over an “economic incentive” to a local millionaire, can take a decade or more to come to fruition.

Frankly, I don’t want the current County Council – or County Manager Jim Dinneen – to come anywhere near our future beach policy.

Let’s just say “planning” and “visioning” aren’t their strong suit and leave it at that, okay?

In my view, Jim Dinneen – and this current crop of bought-and-paid-for dullards occupying the Dais of Power in DeLand – have proven time-and-again that they couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

It’s like watching a bad Three Stooges skit on continuous loop.

When you couple that with the fact our “unified beach policy” has been an absolute disaster for a decade or more, rational people come to the unmistakable realization that perhaps we should take a deep breath and gather a few more facts – beyond the chattering of a deputy county attorney pushing an agenda – before making important decisions on the future of our greatest natural amenity – choices that will alter the economic landscape of the Daytona Beach Resort Area forever.

Jesus, take the wheel. . .  Please?

Seriously.  Take it, dude – ’cause this ship of fools is out-of-control.

Quote of the Week:

“Let’s stop pretending the sales-tax increase will benefit all of us. The reason county officials want the tax increase is because they wasted the last one, a gasoline tax, by giving away incentives to new businesses and allowing artificially low impact fees so the developers can make bigger profits.”

–Mr. Don Miller, Port Orange, writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Letters to the Editor, “Just say no to new road tax,” March 15, 2018

Well said, Mr. Miller.

Have a great weekend, my friends.








On Volusia: The Grand Plan

Regular readers of this forum know that I harbor a conspiracy theory that, based upon mounting evidence, our ‘powers that be’ have secretly constructed a “Grand Plan” for the future of the Halifax area – something the rest of us, to include our current elected officials in municipal and county government, know nothing about.

In my warped mind, this well-orchestrated blueprint was hatched by Volusia’s powerful camarilla of political insiders – the uber-wealthy donor class who have gained near total control of our democratic processes through massive campaign contributions to hand-select candidates – and a willingness to groom and protect County Manager Jim Dinneen, despite his many glaring shortcomings.

I also believe that this scheme was clandestinely advanced under cover of darkness without any public input and outside any normal or reasonable budget, planning or oversight processes.


To ensure that all the right last names receive maximum return on their financial investment in developing and fostering this bastardized political process we call “local government” in Volusia County.

Pay day is coming – and everyone who is anyone is already posted at the trough.

In fact, I believe we have been seeing the puzzle pieces drop into place for the past several years.

For instance, take the $40-million dollars in public funds that were gifted to the Forbes-listed France family to subsidize their One Daytona project – a “symbiotic” shopping and entertainment complex built in the literal shadow of their Daytona International Speedway – or the surprise, off-the-agenda announcement that Mr. Dinneen will unilaterally borrow an obscene $260-million for construction of a Taj Mahal courthouse/office complex on Beach Street.

In furtherance of “The Plan,” our former government services complex at 250 North Beach Street – which conveniently housed everything from veteran services to the tag office, is currently being allowed to strategically mold over from flooding until it reaches the point of irreparable damage to force its complete demolition.

And, if our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley’s, verbal slip can be believed – we can kiss public facilities and amenities on City Island goodbye when they package and sell that sweet slice of the pie to some speculative developer.

(Trust me.  City Island is necessary to complete the “package” – and they will be coming for it.)

Then, last fall, the recognized High Panjandrum of Political Power, J. Hyatt Brown, demanded (by threatening to take his football and move to Atlanta) and immediately received, some $15.5-million tax dollars to develop a monolithic headquarters with his name at the top, also in Downtown Daytona.

(Interestingly, that figure almost exactly matches the $15.8-million in public funds Volusia County used to extend Williamson Boulevard to permit direct access to Political Potentate Mori Hosseini’s Woodhaven mega-residential development in Port Orange.)   

Now, our own Camera stellata over at the Volusia CEO Business Alliance – a private consortium of quadrillionaires who, under the stewardship of the American Music Festival’s own Dr. Kent Sharples, figure out inventive ways to use our money to fund their projects – is spending freely to “educate” the great unwashed hoards who exist solely to fill scullery jobs and pay exorbitant fees and taxes – on why we should welcome yet another money grab in the form of a half-cent sales tax this fall.

Think about it.

When you consider the quantum changes to large sections of Daytona Beach, from Ballough Road to Ridgewood Avenue, and beyond – to include prime riverfront property that has been gobbled up by billionaire Jim France for his tony private yacht club – or the residential areas to the west that are being allowed to atrophy as a means of driving property values into the toilet for future acquisition (most likely after the Brown & Brown headquarters is complete), to public parks near the future Brown & Brown campus that are actively being “rezoned” (for purely aesthetic reasons?), and the wholesale giveaway of our beach to “incentivize” the developer du jour, and you begin to see that something is afoot behind the scenes – and whatever “the plan” may be – I can assure you, it doesn’t include us.

Now, as Bike Week 2018 ends, the next phase of their Grand Plan will signal the long goodbye for a 77-year old special event that has, in many ways, come to define the Daytona Beach Resort Area as much as beach driving or NASCAR.

In December 2017, Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm sent a letter to the city’s current host for itinerant vendors during Bike Week, informing them that their contract will not be renewed after Biketoberfest this fall.

Then, in January, the Daytona Beach City Commission voted to terminate the agreement, which sounded the death knell for biker-related festivities on Beach Street – something made popular by the late Bruce Rossmeyer, before small-minded officials in the City of Daytona Beach drove his enterprise out of the community, giving birth to the hugely successful bike events in north Ormond Beach.

Inexplicably, no one from the City of Daytona Beach had the common courtesy to tell area merchants, including local motorcycle-related businesses who have invested heavily in the success of our beleaguered downtown – only to be left high-and-dry when it came time to shut the carnival down to make way for the next “bigger, better and bestest” game changer in the form of a 10-story monument to self-importance.

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the long-time dealership, Indian Motorcycle of Daytona Beach – a small business that receives 85% of their annual revenue during the special event periods – was caught completely unaware of the “plan” to eliminate vendors on Beach Street when they recently renewed a five-year lease on their downtown showroom.

Who does that to a year-round established business who has struggled to maintain a presence and a viable enterprise on Beach Street?     

My God.

I wonder how many other downtown businesses bought into J. Hyatt’s sales pitch about what a boon his new headquarters will be for the area – only to later find out he’s putting a cafeteria in the building so his employee’s never have to leave?

If you get the idea that bike events and the small businesses that survive off them are no longer welcome, you’re right.

And neither are we.

In my view, The Plan formulated by what the News-Journal has described as our “Rich & Powerful” is being aggressively executed in an environment where our elected officials – in some disgusting Faustian bargain with their wealthy political benefactors – have adopted strategic ignorance as way of plausibly ignoring the true economic and social needs of their constituents.

How long will it take the electorate of Volusia County to realize who ultimately benefits – and who pays the bills – in this oligarchical system where public input in the future of our area is neither solicited nor wanted?

Welcome to Brownsville – now, get the fuck out of our park.


Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal








On Volusia: The Price of Trust

Earlier today, our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, posted a quote from Albert Einstein on his social media page:

“Stay away from negative people they have a problem for every solution” So True.”

Mr. Kelley, you’re no Einstein – trust me.

Two-years ago, when Barker’s View was in its infancy, I wrote one of my patently “negative” pieces entitled “The Cost of Incompetence,” a little ditty about Volusia County government’s complete lack of preventive maintenance on county-owned properties on both sides of the Palmetto Curtain – even when a parcel becomes a “blight generator” for surrounding areas.

“Under Mr. Dinneen’s management, we allow public infrastructure to literally crumble into the ground as a means of demonstrating the need for another county-owned Taj Mahal.  Then, in this weird Twilight Zone where nothing is as it seems, we allow the very public officials responsible for creating the problem to tell us how best to correct their own mismanagement.”

I’m not alone in that assessment.

Last week, the esteemed Daytona Beach News-Journal columnist Mark Lane wrote an excellent opinion piece highlighting the recent Pockmarked Paradise series, a comprehensive overview of glaring blight and vacancies on A-1-A.

In his insightful article, Mr. Lane observed, “. . .It’s just down the road from the dead shopping center that Volusia County says it will turn into off-beach parking. The county bought it three years ago and has been letting it sit around ever since.”

“You’d think the county would at least spring for a sign that said, “coming soon!” But no. It hasn’t even summoned the initiative to lie to us. It’s content to be the bad neighbor who doesn’t care what his property looks like.”

As usual, the News-Journal’s harsh critique was met by cricket chirps from Mr. Dinneen’s office – with highly paid county mouthpieces robotically repeating the in-house spin: “Big Things – Soon Come.”

After all, Mr. Dinneen is not required to respond to the reasonable questions of a free press – or anyone else.

So long as J. Hyatt Brown and others control the campaign purse strings, then Mr. Dinneen will remain unburdened by any reasonable oversight, accountability or administrative controls – and if he believes that expediting the removal of beach driving requires turning the most important commercial intersection in the core tourist area of the City of Ormond Beach into an off-the-tax-roll parking lot – so be it.

That shit-hole former shopping center will sit just as it is until Little Jimmy is damn good and ready to pave it over – not a minute sooner – and there is nothing you, me or the Daytona Beach News-Journal can do about it.

Where I part company with Mr. Lane’s view is, in my opinion, Mr. Dinneen is perfectly willing and able to lie like a cheap rug to his constituents – and our elected officials – whenever a blatant falsehood serves his purpose or those of our uber-wealthy political insiders.

Don’t take my word for it.

Sheriff Chitwood was right.  He’s a “lying sack of shit.”

In fact, I believe Mr. Dinneen is a pathological liar with a compulsion to fabricate situational responses on the fly – a strategy that has ultimately cost our county government the people’s trust.

For instance, in 2016, the City of DeLand – perhaps the most progressive, well-managed community in the region – entered talks with Volusia County to swap city-owned property currently being rented by the county, in exchange for the “Old Jail” – a vacant eyesore taking up prime real estate on West New York Avenue near the heart of America’s best downtown.

At the time, DeLand’s hometown newspaper, The Beacon, approached county officials and inquired about a tour of the shuttered building to assist in their reporting on the proposed swap.

The newspaper’s request was rejected out-of-hand by our omnipotent County Manager, who claimed the jail facility was “unsafe.”

In a May 2016 editorial, The Beacon expressed concern about Dinneen’s autonomous denial:

“Unsafe?” we wondered. Myriad questions abounded. We knew it was ugly, we suspected there might be some rogue birds and spiders, but unsafe to walk through?” 

“Once we got past asking ourselves what could be unsafe enough about the building to disallow a reporter — fully covered under The Beacon’s workers’ comp insurance — from taking a quick peek inside, we began to question why this public asset would be allowed to atrophy for long enough to pose such a hazard.”

The paper’s editor went on to rightfully explain that the building, and everything inside it, is owned by the taxpayers of Volusia County – and they deserved a look at how the space is being maintained.

Some seven-months later, in December 2016, the building suddenly became “safe” again, when DeLand city officials and surrounding property owners were finally permitted access to the interior of the building and their observations were grim.

In fact, I’m told by those “in the know” that the building looks exactly as one would expect after a decade under Mr. Dinneen’s “preventive maintenance” schedule.

Make no mistake – Volusia County government does what it wants, when it wants.

If that means allowing a former jail facility to become a weeping chancre on DeLand’s efforts to revitalize their downtown – or completely ignoring a county-owned former shopping center as it physically rots in plain view, destroying surrounding property values and dragging down an entire community – then that is exactly what will happen.

And the growing laundry list of examples is far too long to recite on this glorious Sunday morning.

As I’ve written before, it is this staggering level of ineptitude, government waste and lack of resource management under the Dinneen administration – and the continued political shelter by big money political insiders with a permanent post at the public trough – that has created an almost institutionalized lack of oversight by our elected officials that allows this atrocious course of conduct to continue.

Another quote by Albert Einstein that I’m particularly fond of states, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”

In my view, Mr. Kelley and his fellow elected marionettes on the Dais of Power in DeLand should understand: Losing the public’s trust is the true cost of incompetence.

Angels & Assholes for March 9, 2018

Hi, Kids!

It’s Friday – how about a bit of fun to end our week?

Let’s play a little game I like to call, “What the Hell?”

As always, our friends at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Beachside Redevelopment Committee and Regional Chamber of Commerce are welcome to join in the Wide. Open. Fun!

For those who haven’t played with us before, the rules are simple – study the photograph below and take a wild-ass guess if the scene depicted is in: A. The Lagos slums  B. The bowels of Kolkata or C. The Daytona Beach Resort Area?

midway 1

If you picked the Daytona Beach Boardwalk give yourself a pat on the head!

That’s right!  The same code compliance folks that pencil-whipped a Certificate of Occupancy for a still under construction hotel have apparently given tacit approval for this mish-mash of exposed wiring and grime located smack-dab on Ocean Avenue in our core tourist area!

Thanks for playing along!

We’ll do it again soon – I’ve got hundreds of them!

Well, it’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way.

Let’s look at who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was:

Angel:             Dr. Sandford Kinne

I’m what doctor’s call a “high-miler.”

Like ol’ ETC said, now that “I’m out of my prime and out of my mind,” it’s important that I have a support system around that cares enough to look after my general health and welfare – even when I don’t.

For the past 20-years, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Sandford Kinne on my team.

In an era where medical care is dictated by mega-HMO’s and faceless “insurance” conglomerates, Dr. Kinne is a physician in the classic sense – he truly cares about his patient’s wellness and provides an unsurpassed quality of care and true compassion.

He does more than poke, prod and test – he truly listens.

Over time, Sandford and I have developed a level of trust and friendship that transcends the modern homogenized provider/patient relationship.  Trust me, if you don’t enjoy a similar rapport with your family doctor – you should.

Although we are close in age, Dr. Kinne sets a positive example of life well lived – running, bicycling and swimming while training for triathlons and such, then relaxing with his wife yachting on the Intercoastal – all while I slowly dry cure my aging innards with blended whiskey and Marlboros.

Despite his desperate attempts to change my horrific life choices, Dr. Kinne possesses the incredible skill, reasoning and patience to keep me in fighting trim – and that’s no easy task – even for a modern medicine man.

He has a warm, generous spirit and a wonderful sense of humor and irony – good traits that keep him reading these nonsensical screeds of mine.  I enjoy his thoughtful insights whenever we have time together.

Through the years, we’ve been through everything from head colds to life-changing colon surgery – and, most recently, a pitched battle with my hateful prostate – which is now the size of a ripe cantaloupe (TMI? Whatever.  We’re friends here. . .) – and through it all, he has expertly treated whatever ails me with his always kind demeanor.

I’m glad to have Sandford Kinne in my life.

If you’re looking for an old school physician that truly cares about your family’s holistic health and quality of life, please take time to partner with Dr. Kinne – now seeing patients through Azalea Health in Daytona Beach.

Angel:             Daytona Beach Police Department

Kudos to Chief Craig Capri and the Daytona Beach Police Department for their highly effective Roadway Safety Program, an initiative targeting pedestrian safety at intersections.

We’ve needed this for some time now.

While Chief Capri is careful to explain that the program does not specifically target panhandlers – let’s just say an unintended benefit of the effort is helping keep aggressive beggars out of busy traffic lanes.

In the past month, I’ve traveled through several major metropolitan areas, and nowhere did I see the heavy concentration of panhandlers like we experience here on the Fun Coast.

In the interest of full disclosure – I damn near hit an ambulatory drunk square-on while maneuvering the Lone Eagle east on ISB from Nova Road earlier this week.

It was scary close.

Let’s face it, wandering mendicants weaving their way through stopped traffic has become a ubiquitous sight at intersections from Ormond Beach south.

The activity not only contributes to the seedy appearance of blight – it also inhibits the natural flow of traffic and places both the solicitor, and the distracted motorist handing over the gratuity, at risk of serious injury.

Those who argue that these programs are discriminatory or serve to “criminalize homelessness” are off the mark on this one.

This practice simply cannot be allowed to continue.  There are infinitely better ways to help.

In my view, itinerant street people occupying all four quadrants of every major intersection in east Volusia is counter to our collective goal of improving the aesthetics, economic viability and quality of life in our community.

While vagrants may have a right to solicit handouts on a public sidewalk – residents also have an expectation of clean, safe streets and open thoroughfares – free from the omnipresent hobo with a “Why Lie?  I Need A Beer” sign scrawled on a dirty piece of cardboard.

I hope you will join me in supporting Chief Capri and his hardworking officers and staff as they continue to develop innovative safety and enforcement programs.

These dedicated public servants are working hard to solve the problems of crime and victimization in Daytona Beach, which lays the groundwork for community revitalization, and they need our help and cooperation.

Good work, Chief.

Angel:             City of Holly Hill

 It’s no secret, ‘The Hill’ occupies a very big part of my heart – and it always will.

We’re the underdog.  A wonderfully eclectic mix of eccentric characters with an incredible sense of hometown pride.

It seems our little city is always unfairly maligned by those who have never lived or done business there – and while we recognize our blemishes, we have never let them define our community – or diminish our willingness to overcome challenges.

Next week, the Holly Hill City Commission will take up several innovative ordinances which, in my view, will go a long way toward ending the cycle of stagnation that has hampered economic development efforts citywide.

One ordinance will authorize tattoo parlors, and several other commercial designations, by special exception in the redevelopment overlay district – essentially the commercial corridor along Ridgewood Avenue.

Another seeks to eliminate the pervasive problem of “zombie houses” by requiring that mortgage holders maintain their vacant foreclosed properties to the same community standards as occupied residences.

Nothing brings down property values, destroys a neighborhood or contributes to shabbiness and dilapidation like an overgrown haunted house – owned by some disinterested out-of-state bank – which is simply allowed to rot in plain sight.

I’ve said this before – modern tattoo parlors are not the dens of iniquity they were once portrayed to be.  In fact, many local artists have established beautifully appointed spaces, many revitalizing long-vacant commercial centers, which improve the surrounding area while contributing to the tax base.

And many have a weeks-long waiting list for an appointment.

In the recent past, many of these highly regulated establishments have been forced to jump through onerous and expensive hoops – or denied a business tax receipt altogether – whenever they asked to set up shop in communities throughout the Halifax area.

Fortunately, times and perceptions are changing.

I applaud the City of Holly Hill’s inclusive “can do” approach to economic development – and the political courage and foresight of elected officials in developing a permanent solution to the last remnants of the foreclosure crisis – abandoned properties which continue to have a debilitating effect on the city’s charming residential areas.

If you’re considering opening or relocating a business – or looking for a quaint small town to call home – I encourage you to consider the “City with a Heart.”

You’ll be glad you did.

Asshole:          State of Florida

The word Extinction is a stark descriptor, defined as the complete elimination of an organism or group of organisms, with the moment of extinction marked by the death of the last individual of the species.

Once that occurs, an entire genus is lost forever.

This week, the Miami Herald reported that a rare prairie bird, the Grasshopper sparrow, found only in the rapidly disappearing marshes and grasslands of southern Central Florida, will vanish from the face of the earth later this year.

The reason:  Out-of-control development.

To meet the insatiable appetite of real estate speculators and developers – and to fuel Central Florida’s ravenous desire for even more “theme” communities, strip centers, convenience stores and upscale “boutique” grocery stores – we have once again sacrificed an entire species of wildlife by churning their natural habitat into muck – then filling it for flood control and covering it with “decorative pavers.”

We starved these small creatures out – then placed so much environmental stress on the remaining population that disease and predators are taking care of the rest.

If you think the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – or the State of Florida – are coming to the rescue, think again.

As always, money is the predominant factor and “budget uncertainties” have all but assured this tiny sparrow’s fate.

I find it incomprehensible that our local governments can funnel $15.5-million dollars in public funds to subsidize an office complex for a billionaire insurance company – on top of $40-million to underwrite a goofy shopping and “entertainment” complex next to the speedway – yet regional conservationists can’t squeeze $150,000 from the federal government to protect an entire species from vanishing from the planet?


When did our basic priorities get so fouled up?

When did greed dominate everything in our lives here in the Sunshine State?

With the Volusia County Council approving massive developments from Farmton to the Flagler County Line – perhaps its time we take a step back and consider the unintended consequences to our fragile environment and ecosystems before we pave over even more sensitive habitats and water sources in the name of “progress.”

Yeah, right.

Fuck the sparrows – they don’t buy houses.

Angel:             CANDO II

The late cultural anthropologist Margret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

In Ormond Beach, a growing group of committed citizens have formed a grassroots civic organization known as CANDO 2 – which hopes to bridge the communication chasm between residents and their elected officials in matters of quality development.

CANDO 2 is spearheaded by Ormond Beach residents Ken and Julie Sipes, and the intrepid community activist and former city commissioner, Jeff Boyle (who, as it happens, was my high school civics teacher. . .)

Clearly, this important effort was born from the utter outrage many felt over the clear-cutting of majestic oaks and greenspace near Tomoka Avenue and Granada Boulevard, all to make way for a new WaWa.

The organization has vowed to remain apolitical – neither endorsing candidates nor financing campaigns – however, it does encourage rigorous public participation in the functions of government.

I’m told that last evening’s CANDO 2 meeting at the Ormond Beach Library was standing room only.

That’s a good thing.

For more information on how you can get involved, please contact Ken and Julie at jules0524@gmail.com or Mr. Boyle at jeffboyle79@yahoo.com – I hope you will consider taking part.

Trust me, this one’s important.

Angel:             Daytona Landshark Bar & Grill

Look, I’m not going to subject you to a long-winded puff piece on the attributes of our new Daytona Landshark – you can read all about it in the News-Journal’s Business section.

What I will say is:  We could use 213 more just like it on the beachside.

Last week, I had the pleasure of passing a warm afternoon at Daytona Landshark’s outside bar – sipping a cold beer just off the beach and dining al fresco.

A spinach dip appetizer, chicken Caesar salad and four beers = about $44 before tip.

Politics and density variances aside – this is the kind of casual, yet upscale, option we’ve been seeking for years.

You know, most people instinctively hate me (I understand that, because I hate me too), so I tend to give folks a wide berth whenever I’m out.  But I must admit, I met some truly nice people at Landshark – mostly tourists idling away the afternoon – each of whom remarked what a great addition this is to Daytona’s tired landscape.

In my view, it is clean, bright and professionally operated establishments like Landshark – places that expertly complement the beleaguered beachside’s natural attributes – that will ultimately save the Daytona Beach Resort Area from its current path, which appears hell-bent for self-destruction.

Asshole:          Jim Dinneen & the Volusia County Council

This week, Daytona Beach Shores sat down with Volusia County officials in a court-ordered mediation to settle a long dispute over the county’s aggressive acquisition of prime beachfront real estate for “off-beach parking” – property Daytona Beach Shores rightfully wanted to vertically develop to support their geographically limited tax base.

The tit-for-tat started in 2015, when Volusia County – in typical fashion – slithered into the small municipality, and without so much as a phone call to City Hall, used $4.5 million in public funds to purchase two parcels of premier oceanfront real estate less than one mile apart.

That represents a potential loss of some $200,000 in annual tax revenue for the small community.

In turn, the Shores attempted to exert its independence.

In self-defense against the county’s belligerent intrusion, the city commission passed an ordinance prohibiting the construction of parking lots east of A-1-A.

Yeah, right.

As they are inclined to do – Volusia County quickly used our money to file three lawsuits against the small town, asserting its Absolute Right to Rule – signifying to its subjects that the county is subordinate to no earthly authority – and reminding us lowly vassals that nothing can restrict its Divine Right.   “A Deo rex, a rege lex.”

In short, our Moronic Monarch, Jim Dinneen, will do whatever he damn well pleases, wherever he chooses to do it (so long as J. Hyatt Brown is in total control of our elected marionettes, anyway) or County Attorney Dan Eckert will be directed by royal edict to sue the citizen’s collective eyeballs out with their own money.

During the meeting, Daytona Beach Shores Mayor Harry Jennings reminded his superiors across the table that, “the city is not a colony, and the county is not the English Parliament.”  Which, I’m sure, was met by maniacal howls and snorts of laughter from our self-anointed aristocracy on the county council.

At the end of the day, Volusia County is going to do exactly what it set out to do when it used our funds to purchase the property in the Shores.  After all, the prerequisite to the complete removal of beach driving is “off-beach” lots – and make no mistake – that is their goal.

During the mediation – like some demented quidnunc spewing unwelcome advice – County Manager Jim Dinneen suggested the Shores consider building a “hotel over the parking lot” (?) or install parking meters to generate revenue and double-screw residents who want to use their beach.

Say what?

Even our pathologically mendacious County Chair, Ed “That’s what I said, not what I meant” Kelley, chimed in, saying he’s willing to consider any suggestions the Shores may have – so long as they involve putting parking lots on the county-owned parcels.

Say what? 

Which option do you think will happen?

In my view, when Volusia County took control of our beaches in the late 80’s to form a “unified policy,” it marked the death knell for the Daytona Beach Resort Area.

Like everything else the county has control of – our beach policy has slowly transformed into a shitshow, one convoluted and highly expensive screw-up after another – all brazenly designed to monetize the strand, “incentivize” the developer du jour and restrict access for long-suffering residents who pay the bills.

Perhaps its time We, The People look at a different approach to beach management – before its too late.

Angel:             B-CU Women’s Basketball

 A great story from the Barker’s View Sports Desk:  Today, just 96-hours after giving birth to her second child, Bethune-Cookman Head Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis will lead the Lady Wildcats in the MEAC Tournament 2018 semifinals against Virginia’s Hampton University!

Congratulations, Coach!  Go Wildcats!

Quote of the Week:

 “It hasn’t even summoned the initiative to lie to us.  It’s content to be the bad neighbor who doesn’t care what his property looks like.”

 –Columnist Mark Lane, writing in the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s “Footnotes,” describing the County of Volusia’s refusal to clean-up – or even acknowledge – its appallingly blighted property at Cardinal Drive and A-1-A in the heart of the Ormond Beach tourist district, Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Have a great weekend, kids.

Enjoy Bike Week, and please be careful out there!


On Volusia: Neutered Leadership – The Crisis on the Beachside

As I wrote earlier this week, the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s two-part Pockmarked Paradise series was an exceptional look at perhaps the most intractable issue of our generation:  The complete economic and social stagnation of our once vibrant beachside. 

But did it go far enough?

Our local newspaper of record has many internal and external challenges – but there is no denying that the crew over on Sixth Street excels at in-depth investigative reporting.

Anchored by the remarkable journalistic talents of Eileen Zaffiro-Kean, the News-Journal’s Tarnished Jewel series was benchmark reporting and served to expose the waste and perpetual ineffectiveness inherent in redevelopment efforts on our beleaguered beachside.

That outstanding exposé was the impetus for several SRO town hall meetings and other public awareness efforts which ultimately resulted in the Beachside Redevelopment Committee.

The piece moved us.  It angered us.  And it stirred many to grassroots action and political involvement.

Unfortunately, what it didn’t do is jettison those bureaucratic lumps with direct responsibility for fostering and managing desperately needed revitalization efforts – people who accept public funds to serve in the public interest –  yet continue to fail miserably in this important role.

We keep the same senior redevelopment staff, perennial politicians and administrative hacks and blowholes – all while expecting a different result.

Now, Ms. Zaffiro-Kean has hit it out of the park with the hard-hitting series, Pockmarked Paradise – a grim look at the economic and social impact of hundreds of vacant and dilapidated properties along the spine of our core tourist areas from Ormond Beach to the Shores.

These deep dives into the continuous cycle of blight on the beachside have left many of us wondering how the same people can remain at the controls of a rudderless redevelopment apparatus – a process designed exclusively to funnel huge sums of public funds to political insiders – while our main draw in a tourist economy continues to openly rot.

After reading the first installment, I took a swipe at our ‘movers & shakers’ who contributed their comments and opinions on “what to do” about the situation we find ourselves in.

My frustration results from the fact that many of these individuals have been in positions of public and private power for years – literally sitting in ivory towers looking down as this steaming squalor permeated once vibrant neighborhoods – and looked away as over $100-million in redevelopment funds was squandered or evaporated.

In reading Pockmarked Paradise, we saw terms like, “First and foremost,” “We need to,” “Got to be a solution,” “We’re trying to make it a family-oriented place,” “You’ve got to get it going,” “I think that things are turning around,” “Some people are scared to come,” etc. – phrases that were followed by general suggestions and observations with no cohesive plan for progress.

Add to that the complete disconnect between area politicians – each with near identical problems, but obviously no collaborative effort to address these common issues – and you begin to see the core issue more clearly.

In short, I thought it was a great two-part series, and I sincerely hope it serves as an ignition point for positive change.

However, in my view, Pockmarked Paradise still missed the mark on what I believe is the ultimate contributing factor for the obstructionism and lack of vision on our afflicted beachside.

 A recent editorial in the News-Journal, “Stop spinning wheels on A-1-A,” served as Cliffs Notes on the Pockmarked Paradise series for our powers-that-be who still cannot read critically, form an independent opinion, or think for themselves:

What’s needed now is “Leadership.”

In my view, there can be no strong political leadership in our oligarchical system, where a few uber-wealthy insiders consolidate incredible power through massive campaign contributions to hand-select candidates for public office, then use that influence as leverage to control everything from redevelopment to infrastructure projects to the local marketplace – even the elimination of our heritage of beach driving.

I believe this represents the crux of the issue that no one – especially not the Daytona Beach News-Journal – wants to talk about.

So long as our government processes are openly manipulated by a handful of powerful political insiders – whose common trait is a voracious appetite for public funds to fuel private projects – nothing, and I mean nothing, will substantively change on the Fun Coast.