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:
I thought we might have some fun this week and resurrect a little game I like to call Name that Eyesore!
The rules are simple:
Contestants study the image below then swing a wild-assed guess which of the hundreds of local civic carbuncles is depicted.
C’mon, play along!
(Cue the Final Jeopardy theme)
- A weed-strewn blotch on Ormond Beach’s main thoroughfare?
- A suburban hog wallow?
- The Shoppes at Granada Pointe?
Any of the above would be considered theoretically correct – because it’s all those things!
So, give yourself a hearty pat on the back and a Gold Star!
Yep. The photograph depicts the current condition of a vacant parcel in the virtual epicenter of Ormond’s West Granada commercial corridor where the weeds are as high as an elephant’s eye!
What we were promised would be a tony retail complex has become a muddy unimproved parking lot – now bookended by a Wawa convenience store and a drive-thru carwash – that was once the site of hundreds of specimen oaks and hardwoods that an Ormond Beach developer was permitted to churn into a muddy moonscape in the name of “progress.”
In total, some 2,061 old-growth trees were clear-cut and ground into splinters when the urban wildlife habitat and historic natural buffer became an environmental abattoir in 2018 – the same year Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington had the unmitigated gall to accept a Tree City USA designation from some shim-sham called the “Arbor Day Foundation.”
Remember? I do.
Of course, us rubes (read: Ormond Beach taxpayers) were repeatedly promised a specialty grocer, complete with posh “shoppes,” upscale retail, restaurants, a bank, and other amenities – advertised as being no different from any other commercial development on the boulevard.
Yet, four-years on – much of the 32-acres (including 1.3 acres of “mitigated” wetlands) that were publicly sacrificed on both sides of Granada Boulevard remain vacant – with unsightly weeds, tall grass, and a washed out mudhole replacing the beautiful “reforestation” we were all promised.
Perhaps it is time for the City of Ormond Beach to begin evaluating past performance before rubber stamping additional projects for developers with unfinished business elsewhere in the community?
If you are tired of this bait-and-switch profiteering that is routinely facilitated by those developer shills on the Ormond Beach City Commission, I hope you will let your voice be heard at the ballot box.
You can bet your sweet ass I plan to. . .
In my view, it is time that we let these compromised perennial politicians know there is some shit we won’t eat. . .
Thanks for playing!
Angel Project Linus
Yesterday, my three-year old granddaughter was admitted to Halifax Hospital with chronic pulmonary issues, and, before I continue, please know she is doing well and (hopefully) will be released by the time you read this.
When she was admitted, the wonderful nursing staff in the Betty Jane France ‘Speediatrics” Center gifted her a blanket lovingly crafted by Project Linus volunteers – a national organization who selflessly provide “…love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.”
Look, I’m as crusty as they come, and I had no idea this service existed – but I was moved to tears by this incredibly compassionate gift.
From what I know, Volusia County has an active chapter of Project Linus dedicated to providing beautiful blankets to local children in need, and I could not be more thankful for their kindness.
Please find more information here: https://www.projectlinus.org/
On behalf of a grateful grandfather – the volunteers of Project Linus are doing God’s work – and I will forever appreciate the compassion they have shown my family.
Thank you. From the bottom of my heart – Thank you.
Angel Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune
On Wednesday, like all Floridians, my chest filled with immense pride as the glorious marble statue of pioneering educator, civil rights activist, and trusted advisor to five U.S. presidents, Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune, was formally enshrined at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Born the fifteenth child of former slaves, Dr. Bethune rose from humble beginnings in rural South Carolina to the hallowed National Statuary Hall after a lifetime of helping others achieve the American Dream through the opportunity of higher education and basic human rights.
According to an excellent article documenting this momentous occasion by reporter Eileen Zaffiro-Kean who traveled to our Nation’s Capitol to report for The Daytona Beach News-Journal – in addition to U.S. Senator Rick Scott, (R-FL) who as governor of Florida commissioned the statuary to represent our state in Washington – the observance was attended by some 100 local, state, and national dignitaries:
“Also in Statuary Hall to honor the 20th century champion for Black Americans were some of the most powerful elected leaders in the country: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL).”
In addition, the unveiling ceremony was also attended by a local delegation led by Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry, which included Bethune-Cookman University officials and alumni, the B-CU chorus, and Ormond Beach philanthropist Nancy Lohman, Chair of the Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune Statuary Fund Board, along with a distinguished group of six board members representing those Halifax area industries and individuals who so generously dedicated their time, talent, and resources to see this long journey to memorialize Dr. Bethune’s remarkable legacy become a reality.
Dr. Bethune’s statue is one of just two sculptures representing the State of Florida in the U.S. Capitol and the first Black person to stand in the state collection.
As Mayor Henry said during remarks last year when Dr. Bethune’s statue was displayed at the Daytona State College News-Journal Center:
“When history records how we as a community responded to our role as custodians of this great legacy, let the record read that Daytona Beach passed the test with straight superiors.”
A special thank you to everyone involved in this wonderful and important endeavor.
Angel Daytona Dog Beach, Inc.
The mission of Daytona Dog Beach, Inc. is to “put paws in the sand” by promoting the added amenity of safe, controlled, and environmentally sound dog friendly beaches on the World’s Most Famous Beach.
I like that.
Although my own beloved dogs – Nola and Benny – are ill-tempered curs like their old man who hate the thought of “socializing” with others, I know many people who enjoy spending time with their pets on the expansive dog-friendly areas of Flagler Beach.
Unfortunately, in Volusia County government, the instinctive answer to any public request is “No.”
Because many bureaucrats in the Ivory Tower of Power in DeLand abhor anything that requires a modicum of creativity – “No Way/No How!” is the pat answer to any grassroots suggestion that may improve our quality of life or enhance the beachgoing experience.
For the uninitiated, dogs have been effectively banned from Volusia County beaches since 1987, when the greatest civic mistake ever perpetrated placed all 47-miles of shoreline under the county’s dictatorial control.
As those who have spent our lives here will attest – things have never been the same. . .
Last spring, the Volusia County Council raised the hopes of many pet owners when they asked staff to research options for permitting dogs on identified areas of the strand in the Daytona Beach area.
As things often go when citizens seek change to paralytic and outdated public policies, enthusiastic and well-meaning residents took time away from their busy lives to prostrate themselves before our Elected Monarchy – who sat like stone-faced gargoyles gazing down from the dais of power – before opting to maintain the tired status quo.
Fortunately, those who support bringing a convenient dog-friendly beach closer to population centers in the Greater Daytona Beach area have continued their efforts to educate and partner with residents, visitors, and area businesses – to include a regular “Yappy Hour” at the beautiful Streamline Hotel.
Under the leadership of Nanette McKeel Petrella, Daytona Dog Park, Inc. continues to be a force for good in our community.
For the past two-years, this wonderful group of civically active citizens have dedicated themselves to monthly cleanups of a one-mile section of beach of between Seabreeze Boulevard and Zelda Boulevard.
According to Daytona Dog Park, Inc., the popular “People & Paws” cleanup event will take place tomorrow morning, Saturday, July 16, from 8:30am to 10:30am. To add to the fun, dogs will be allowed to accompany their owners under a special permit issued by Volusia County!
According to Daytona Dog Park, Inc.:
“Participants are invited to join us at the cleanup, with or without their dog. Rules include that dogs are leashed, under control, vaccinated, licensed and cleaned up after. Waivers will be mandatory for all participants, those under eighteen must be accompanied by an adult. An additional waiver will be mandatory for those bringing their dog.
Participants must sign in at “Daytona Dog Beach, Inc. Clean up Station,” which will be on the beach at the University Parking Lot area. After completing waivers, instructions and cleaning supplies and dog waste bags will be provided. Participants are asked to return to the station at the end of the cleanup for weigh-in of trash. We will keep a running tab of the amount of trash collected. We will also track volunteer hours for those wishing/requiring it. A prize will be given to the participant who collects the most trash.
Daytona Dog Beach, Inc. will provide complimentary breakfast items, and water. Dogs will be provided water as well.”
If you are interested in volunteering for this most worthwhile effort, free tickets are required in advance and available here: https://tinyurl.com/3kjwm9k4
Learn more about this wonderful organization and how you can help here: www.daytonadogbeach.org
Angel Daytona Beach City Commission
I opined on this amazing turn of events earlier in the week – but it bears repeating. . .
During their July 6 meeting, the Daytona Beach City Commission – after approving another 352 housing units near Municipal Stadium off LPGA Boulevard (with some 800 more on deck) – discussed a building moratorium for “New Daytona” along Boomtown Boulevard and areas west of the City’s Monument to Mediocrity at the Tomoka River pinch point.
I must admit, when a loyal member of the Barker’s View tribe made me aware of this, I initially thought they’d been drinking (I know I was) – I mean, a building moratorium?
In Daytona Beach?
But once I had a chance to review a video archive of the meeting – I was incredibly impressed with the sincerity and openness of the discussion into something that has been considered verboten across the width and breadth of Volusia County.
While listening in, I was surprised how little the elected officials seemed to understand about their vital role in growth management or their collective authority when approving new projects – and I think they were as confused as I was by the soporific tone of Deputy City Manager Jim Morris’ sleep-inducing explanations. . .
I also found it interesting that Mayor Derrick Henry appeared in complete agreement with Commissioner Ken Strickland on the always contentious topic of a moratorium.
Let’s face it, during this period of explosive growth, little consideration has been given to the quality or quantity of approved projects – as evidenced by the dull appearance of those zero-lot-line behemoths that continue to sprout from slash-and-burn moonscapes – with no consideration for developing a comprehensive sense of place.
While cogitating on what this bombshell notion of a moratorium might mean, I was reminded of the tragic story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his hellishly ambitious determination to create the Monster – and, in the end, his equally driven motivation to stop his terrible creation before it could do more damage. . .
Regardless of the Commission’s true motivations – I am afraid it is now or never. . .
For instance, in an excellent article by Charles Guarria writing in the Hometown News, “More warehousing, more houses, just more in Daytona,” we learned of a gargantuan 893,000 square feet of warehousing, cold storage, and retail space collocated with some 400 apartments and townhouses to be built on sixty-five acres at the northwest corner of US-92 and Tomoka Farms Road.
You read that right.
According to reports, the Daytona Beach City Commission will hold a workshop to discuss the fine points of a possible building moratorium on August 24.
With thousands of new homes and apartments already built – and thousands more waiting to break ground (with some 9,000 units already approved on LPGA Boulevard alone) – many Halifax area residents are saying a temporary halt is too little, too late.
Of course, at the mere mention of a slowdown, some commercial realtors are already crowing about how the measure will stifle the city’s ability to attract “jobs” and already non-existent “affordable housing.”
The very thought of a pause to allow infrastructure to catch up with even current demands will go through the development community like an ice water enema – because anything that disrupts the boom/bust cycle of rapid growth and quick profits in favor of a measured strategy is anathema to those hauling cash out of what remains of our threatened pine scrub and aquifer recharge areas west of I-95.
This one bears watching. . .
Quote of the Week
“I run the county.”
–Flagler County Commission Chair and King Hell Blowhard Joe Mullins describing his ‘Authoritah‘ to a Florida Highway Patrol trooper during a traffic stop for speeding on Interstate 95 in Flagler County, June 19, 2022
Last week in this space, I opined on a disturbing article in the online news outlet FlaglerLive regarding the officious assholery of Flagler County Commission Chair Joe Mullins as he tried to flex his muscles and wheedle his way out of at least two traffic citations last month after putting motorists and law enforcement officers at risk on area highways.
According to media reports, it wasn’t the first time Chairman Mullins has thrown his weight around with law enforcement. . .
This week, additional information was released by FlaglerLive and other print and electronic media, to include The Daytona Beach News-Journal, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail, and Orlando network television affiliates, representing an international embarrassment to the citizens of Flagler County.
According to FlaglerLive:
“Just as the trooper was telling him the citation would have to be paid within 30 days, with three options, Mullins interrupted him. The trooper did not understand at first. “I’m sorry?” the trooper asked him.
“I run the county,” Mullins tells him.
“You run the county?” the trooper asks him, clearly nonplussed for an instant–as Mullins says he’s the “chairman of the county commission,” a ceremonial role that requires him to run commission meetings, when he is there to run them (the task has on a few occasion gone to Greg Hansen, the vice chairman, in Mullins’s absences), but that does not give him any more power than other commissioners, let alone the authority to “run the county.” Doing so would be a breach of law. The actual running of the county is the responsibility of Heidi Petito, the county administrator. Commissioners only set policy and direction for Petito to follow, without administrative interference from commissioners. Not all commissioners understand or respect the boundary.”
Equally egregious, in a report by Frank Fernandez in the News-Journal, we learned that an FHP report detailing another June traffic stop on I-4 “…described Mullins as a “county commissioner” and “extremely condescending, belligerent, illogical and disrespectful,” and noted that he “flashed his business card to get out of ticket.”
“The trooper who spoke to Mullins warned that if he got out of the SUV, he would be arrested, according to the audio from the dash cam. According to the dispatch notes from FHP, Mullins “stated it would be a carrer [sic] ending move if I arrested him for failing to obey a lawful order.”
In the interest of saving his constituents from further embarrassment, humiliation, and distraction – it is high time for Chairman Mullins to resign his lofty position of trust and withdraw as a candidate for the Flagler County Commission.
In my view, it is the buffoonery of self-important shitheels like Joe Mullins – whose antics play to every despicable stereotype of the entitled Fat Cat politician – that is destroying the public’s trust in our government.
By his own arrogant instincts, Chairman Mullins has lost the moral authority to lead.
And Another Thing!
Yea! We’re Number One!
Wait. . .
According to an informative report from Smart Growth America, you are more likely to be killed while walking in the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach metropolitan statistical area than anywhere else in the nation.
Anywhere else in the known galaxy, for that matter.
That grim statistic is the finding of Dangerous by Design 2022, an in-depth study by the Washington based non-profit which analyzed federal pedestrian safety data between 2016 and 2020.
According to the report, some 140 of our neighbors died in the region during the study period – that’s 4.25 deaths per 100,000 people.
While local and state government spinmeisters are working overtime this week to convince us otherwise, in my view, it appears the dangers inherent to piss-poor planning, nonsensical land use and zoning decisions, and massive overdevelopment are coming home to roost.
It makes one wonder – now that we’ve hit rock bottom on pedestrian safety – what else have our ‘stewards of the public trust’ failed to address while allowing their political benefactors in the real estate development community to “make hay while the sun shines”?
In the view of many, there are more civic pitfalls ahead as our greenspace is scraped and burned to make way for more, more, more – even as transportation experts like the esteemed Maryam Ghyabi publicly sound the klaxon on potential gridlock and increased dangers on LPGA Boulevard and beyond – and We, The Little People continue to hear official murmuring of ‘toilet-to-tap solutions’ to the looming water shortage.
That’s not fearmongering. These are legitimate and on-going discussions happening in government offices throughout Volusia County.
Unfortunately, our fervent concerns are increasingly answered by compromised elected officials who bellow the catchall phrase “Private property rights!” – which is complete horseshit – as every private property owner who has ever tried to do anything on their slice of the pie without paying the government for the privilege will attest. . .
Hell, in Volusia County, our ‘powers that be’ cannot even spell “Smart Growth,” let alone define it.
According to Smart Growth America:
“Smart growth means reinvesting in America’s downtowns and main streets, the economic engines of big cities and rural towns alike. Smart growth means creating homes for families of all income levels alongside one another in locations where daily needs are close by. Smart growth means diversifying our transportation system so Americans have a choice in how they get around. Smart growth means building streets that are safe for people walking, bicycling or using any sort of assistive device, as well as driving. Smart growth means protecting our open green spaces for generations to come.”
Any of that sound familiar?
Yeah. It didn’t ring a bell with me either. . .
Unfortunately, for the past decade or so, various iterations of the Volusia County Council have been dragging their well-worn heels on the idea of transportation capacity and low-impact development regulations – allowing unchecked development on top of our aquifer recharge areas (?) – then failing to even outline the concept of “smart growth” or, God forbid, tap-the-brakes to allow common-sense concurrency before shoehorning another garish “theme” community west of I-95.
Smart Growth America believes planning and design can have a tremendous impact on traffic safety while “fostering distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.”
For instance, the organization promotes developing within existing communities, rather than filling every acre of undeveloped land to take advantage of existing roads, bridges, utilities, and other public infrastructure – which speaks to the infill and revitalization that is desperately needed on our ignored and terribly blighted beachside.
It all begins with community involvement, a civic atmosphere where elected officials solicit and value the perspectives of everyone with a stake in how, when, and where we grow – rather than sitting on the dais like catatonic knobs being hypnotized by some staffer’s PowerPoint – before approving more development with Pavlovian conditioning.
This controlled growth strategy should include encouraging developers to build quality projects, ensure adequate infrastructure to manage the increased demand, and require a range of housing opportunities, all with an eye toward environmental sustainability.
Trust me. For all the spiffs and say-sos developers have been granted – those concessions are not too much to ask.
In the view of many, it is time for a quantum shift in the way our ‘powers that be’ prioritize Volusia County’s myriad needs – a fair and balanced democratic system where our elected and appointed officials give as much consideration to the safety, security, and quality of life for existing residents as they do when rubber stamping the wants and whims of well-heeled speculative developers.
That change begins at the ballot box. Choose your representation wisely.
I can assure you those with a real chip in the game are working hard to ensure the status quo – and protect their place in the suckling order at the public teat.
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend, y’all!