Game Over – You Lost…

Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen has played the trump card.

On Saturday, in the wake of Property Appraiser Morgan Gilreath’s closing of his offices in the County Administration Building, Dinneen announced to the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he would close all operations at what has become the epicenter of the homeless debacle, perhaps permanently.

“We didn’t do this frivolously and we didn’t do it for effect,” Dinneen said. He added that the public bickering “wasn’t behind this decision. I wouldn’t do it that way. It looks like you’re retaliating, playing a game.”

Folks, this represents a direct slap in the face to every citizen of east Volusia County.

Of course Jim Dinneen closed the building for retaliation and effect – it’s the “nuclear option” – the “We’ll take our football and go home” strategy: Inconvenience thousands of east-side taxpayers to the point they heap so much hate on the City of Daytona Beach that they are forced to capitulate to the County’s demands.

It’s complete bullshit and the nadir of Jim Dinneen’s completely ineffectual reign as the worst executive in the history of Volusia County.  The only positive to this move is that Dinneen has now effectively set himself up as the sacrificial lamb when the political heat gets too much for our elected officials – and that will come sooner rather than later.  Trust me.

Perhaps more disturbing is that Councilman Josh Wagner has the temerity to accuse Morgan Gilreath of playing to the media!? That frigging blowhard has become the face and voice of that dysfunctional group of Shitheel’s in Deland – and if Wagner doesn’t realize that everyone identifies him as a massive part of the problem – then perhaps that tells us all we need to know about the Councilman’s political acumen. (And I thought his tactic of sleeping on the street for a few hours was the cheapest political stunt I’ve seen in a while – Wow. How low can these people sink?)

I also noted with interest that as Dinneen closes the administration building, he still plans to keep the affected public employees on the payroll by moving them to other offices around the County.

How is this possible?

If you’re no longer providing governmental services to the residents of east Volusia County in a manner and means that is convenient to the customer (look that word up, Mr. Dinneen – “Customer”) then the positions should be eliminated and taken out of the budget.  How typical of Dinneen’s arrogance to inconvenience the taxpayer while doing everything possible to accommodate the bureaucracy. . .

Another thought – where are our benevolent dictators when we need them? Not a word from Mori, Hyatt or Lesa! Maybe they’re busy erecting another monument to their own self-importance?

Why is it when the Big Three need something, the planet Earth stops revolving on its axis until the County Council publicly kisses the Triumvirates ass and ponies up tax dollars, incentives and giveaways like the good hired hands they are.

These three people hold in their hands the power to move political will with a mere phone call – or a nuanced suggestion in a public meeting – when it benefits their personal bottom line or that of an influential friend.  Yet when we need real leadership to get us out of a true quagmire that’s becoming increasingly embarrassing – a situation that is beginning to actually hurt “the brand” – we don’t hear a fucking peep.  Disgusting.

As viable, tax generating businesses continue to close, the response from Councilman Wagner speaks volumes to the mindset of our elected officials.  In a January 23, 2015, op-ed in the Daytona Beach News-Journal Mark Lane writes, “Replying to anger from the Downtown business community over his tent city proposal, Wagner was pretty dismissive. “Some of the arguments are flat-out silly. They just have a bad business model. It is not the homeless killing their business. The world has changed.”

I suggest that any potential investor in Downtown Daytona – or anywhere in Volusia County – chew on that statement long and hard before committing yourself to this sinking ship of fools.  I hate to sound hysterical, but if this growing debacle doesn’t speak directly to a disenfranchised electorate at the polls what will?…/160129761/101040



The Crucible of Conscience

The Episcopal Church of America was suspended this week from full participation in the Anglican Communion.  The move comes amid long-simmering tensions over the American church’s acceptance of same-sex marriage and the consecration of openly gay bishops.

During its three-year suspension the Episcopal Church will be stripped of voting rights and barred from the decision-making process “on issues of doctrine or polity.” The Anglican Church of Canada narrowly avoided a similar fate by buying time – it seems the Canadian’s “discussions” on the issues are on-going, and the church’s position has yet to be settled as a matter of doctrine.  Interesting tactic – but prolonging the inevitable is what it amounts to.

During the discussion conservative factions in the Anglican Communion, such as the Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, reaffirmed their entrenched belief that the Episcopal Church’s views are contrary to the teachings of Scripture and established policy.

In a statement to the Primates before walking out of the meeting, Archbishop Ntagali called for sanctions against the Americans “until they have repented of their decisions that have torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level.”

I was baptized, raised, and educated in the Episcopal Church.  While I have fallen out of practice, I consider myself an Episcopalian and always will. The church I know taught acceptance and inclusion for all the faithful – gay, straight, whatever.

Through the years I have watched the Episcopal Church’s increasingly liberal sway (especially on deeply divisive issues common to both Episcopal doctrine and Roman Catholicism) ultimately culminating in the 1988 consecration of our first female bishop, Barbara Harris, an African-American divorcee; and later, Bishop Gene Robinson, the first Episcopal bishop to live openly with a same-sex partner.

Generally speaking I am rather conservative in most aspects of my life – but I have long held a deep belief that the church should be open and welcoming of all people who believe, demonstrate their faith, and live in peace.

If not now, when?  If not the church, where?

Have we not reached a point in the human experience where we can accept the basic humanity of permitting people to love openly, live peacefully, and worship their god with a shared sense of basic fairness?  A shared sense of basic dignity and mutual understanding?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand how difficult it must be for the Anglican leadership in places like Uganda and Nigeria – where incurable disease, abject poverty, political corruption and anti-Christian factions are perpetual threats and homosexuality is punishable by death.  Places where the last bastions of the strength of the old British Empire is projected by the Church of England, and the sense of protection and stability that must provide in some very difficult and dark places of the African continent.

I also understand Archbishop Ntagali’s need to hold firmly to the church’s policies that provide him a chip in the game.  The political clout that comes from controlling a large portion of the population and helps reinforce strict obedience to the archaic laws of the State.

As I sorted through my feelings I was drawn to re-read an essay by the renowned Welsh artist Ralph Steadman on the enduring relevance of the 1948 United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights:

“We are all guilty of gross negligence or convenient choice.  We have chosen to turn a blind eye to the constant injustice of our own species against our own kind.  We no longer deserve to belong to the animal kingdom.  We have betrayed an innate sense of survival, the one instinctive law which protects all creatures from extinction.  Compassion has been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.”

As much as I despise the United Nations and the open corruption and legitimization of tinpot dictators, murderers and thieves that it has bestowed through the years – I think they may have been on to something in 1948.  Interestingly, several Arab nations abstained from the ratification vote on the Declaration, claiming that it was incompatible with Sharia Law – but that’s for another day. . .

In my view, we find ourselves in a world rife with religious bigotry and extremism, ideologies bent on global domination through the murder of innocents in the name of God – a place where open greed is worshiped and the ruthless and cruel admired for their accumulations of wealth.  We have simply come to accept this.

What I, perhaps, am not ready to accept is the fact that the very church which formed my basic understanding of what it means to live and act as a morally conscious being is mired in such an immoral and ugly argument.

As an Episcopalian, if suspension from the Anglican Communion is my punishment for standing firm to the fundamental principal that denying basic human rights to the LGBT community – or any community –  is patently and forever wrong – then I will accept it.  Willingly, and with all the grace and faith I can muster.

Seize the Daytona

Step right up folks and witness ineffectual governance at its worst.

The increasingly visible issue of long-term homelessness is nothing new in Daytona Beach – those of us who have staked our claim to the American Dream in east Volusia have lived with it for years.  Let’s face it, the stereotypical street person is as ubiquitous to the Halifax Area as “Going Out of Business” signs in a burned-out beachside strip center.

Over time, we’ve simply come to “accept it”, like high taxes, substandard chain restaurants and political corruption.  They’re just part of our landscape here on the Fun Coast.

Hell, our universal experience isn’t beach driving – it’s that slightly uneasy feeling we get whenever driving south on Ridgewood Avenue near North Street. . .

Just north of the J Food Store you instinctively shift uncomfortably in your seat, hit the door lock, issue your best Clark Griswold “Roll ‘em up!” and stare straight ahead knowing if you can just make it to the South Daytona border the human carnage to your right and left will miraculously disappear.

In the past, if you had an out-of-town guest in the car, Beach Street was your only viable option for getting south without hearing an audible gasp, followed by the natural but embarrassing questions (“Are those prostitutes!?  “Is that man urinating?”  “No!  What?  Just urban outdoorsmen enjoying our Sun Country weather, Aunt Alice. But isn’t the new Dollar Store a nice addition?” ).

Now, Beach Street is no longer the scenic route. . .

As a continuation of local government’s long-term public policy that institutional humiliation is the best means of “controlling” the homeless population; last week the City of Daytona Beach closed access to restrooms, benches, and the relative concealment of soggy cardboard boxes and dirty blankets tucked into the scrub palmettos and oyster middens of Manatee Island.

The equal and opposite back-fire to the City’s misguided action was a mass migration of homeless from the shadows to their current very visible perch outside the County Administration building at 250 North Beach Street.

And it appears the great unwashed aren’t going anywhere soon.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an intractable problem for government – I dealt with it to various effect for years.  The issues are infinite – available funding is not.  When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  I get it.  But don’t act like this issue just popped out of the bushes last Tuesday.

By coming into public view, the homeless population have perhaps done more to break the City-County impasse that has hampered progress and plagued taxpayers in Volusia County for decades than they have to help themselves.

Unfortunately, we are seeing the typical response we’ve come to expect whenever any municipality is forced to deal with Volusia County government on a matter of mutual concern.

The discourse begins with a very public proclamation from the County Manager’s office that “the problem” (whatever the issue du jour may be) is the City’s responsibility, followed by open threats from tough guy Josh Wagner to change his allegiance/support on the matter, culminating in strong-arm tactics escalating to open thuggery from the County Attorney.  Just wait and see.

Add to this the abject dysfunction that permeates the bureaucratic nightmare that is Daytona Beach City Hall and you have quite a cocktail.  Once again our “leadership” have been caught flatfooted, and it shows.

City spokeswoman Susan Cerbone wrote in an email to the Daytona Beach News-Journal on Thursday that City Manager Jim Chisholm would not be making any public comments on the matter until after he had spoken with county officials about their plans.  “Other City Commission members did not immediately return messages seeking comment. . .”  Indeed.

Then, in his patented “throw money at it” reaction, our own one-trick-pony County Manager Jim Dinneen suggests erecting a fence around the administration building – at a cost of $200,000, naturally.  (This is the strategic thinking and creative problem-solving you expect from an administrator commanding over $300,000 in salary and benefits annually, right? RIGHT?)

In the end – once our benevolent dictators decide which political insider will be allowed to get snout-deep in the $4 million set aside for construction of a homeless camp – we may well see movement (however temporary) on the collective City-County public relations nightmare on Beach Street.

I mean, our bread-and-butter “Special Events” period is just over the horizon, eh?  Hordes of drunken vagrants fronting Beach Street is poor for the image – whatever our “image” is – and we can’t have that, now, can we?  Seize the Daytona, y’all.

Make no mistake, at the end of the day it’s about who gets the money – and that rabble squatting on the steps of the Tag Office is the least of Dinneen, Chisholm or Henry’s concern.





Cui Bono?

The Volusia County Council’s inability to sell the half-cent sales tax initiative this summer is indicative of a larger problem. In my view, our elected officials are missing the key element of any successful marketing strategy – or tax proposal: Trust.

 Oblivious to the fact that they have lost basic credibility, County officials are once again staging their tired Kabuki, dramatically performed with equal parts apocalyptic prophecy, name calling, and threats against the municipalities, all designed to wring additional dollars from a tax-weary constituency.

Councilman Doug Daniels surmised that the cities hesitation was the result of a “failure to communicate.”  Mr. Daniels and his fellow council members should understand – we read you loud and clear – we simply don’t trust you anymore.

 Given the number of grassroots efforts seeking accountability, it is increasingly clear to everyone but County officials that they no longer have the consent of the governed.

 I believe the seeds of this institutional distrust germinate in the County Managers office.

In my view, Jim Dinneen’s mismanagement of this and other important public policy issues best exemplify all that’s wrong with County government.  Team Dinneen wants higher taxes because they need higher taxes; and spending cuts, the reduction of exorbitant executive salaries or curbing insider handouts are inconceivable.

A bureaucracy – especially one as bloated as this – requires tax dollars like a parasitic insect needs the blood of its host.  Its very life depends upon it.

 Public confidence in County government has been slowly eroded by the steady flow of missteps, bullying and legislative slight-of-hand that invariably benefits a privileged few while laying the financial burden squarely on the back of Volusia County residents.

As a result, we no longer assume Council decisions serve the common good.  Now, we instinctively ask ourselves the darker question, “Who benefits?”

Justice Stevens was wrong.

“Justice Stevens wrote that legislative bodies, not the courts, are best suited to determine appropriate firearms regulations. But does he truly believe in that doctrine?”  Washington Post, April 16, 2014

This is probably the canned response you expected from me, and I’m certainly not equipped to argue with Justice Stevens’ legal mind, but I could not disagree more with him – or those under the misguided perception that disarming United States citizens will somehow make us a more civil and safe society.

From the founding of our country, millions of law abiding citizens have owned weapons and firearms for sport, hunting, collection interests and self-protection.

That firearms are misused as a tool of mass destruction around the globe – specifically in areas with the most stringent gun control laws in the world – tells me that legislating weapons out of the hands of responsible Americans is not going to solve the serious and present threats facing our society.  

I served in the military. I was a law enforcement officer for 31-years. I have seen up close and personal how the criminal element and those who seek the destruction of our way of life operate, and I understand the psychology and ideology of the domestic and international threats we face.

Based upon my training and experience, I can assure you that prohibiting the personal possession of weapons by citizens of the United States will not alter the methods, mindset or operational strategies of these individuals and factions.

They are apex predators – and they will not be dissuaded by well-intentioned laws, civil debate, or your outrage and overriding need to “do something” to ban the tools they use to commit these horrific acts. They don’t care about your sensibilities – they want to kill you and those you care about. They want to take your insecurities and use them against you. They want to rape, rob and take the possessions you care about and have worked hard to achieve.

Weakening our individual liberties, and our ability to protect ourselves from those who seek to kill us and destroy our free society (and make no mistake – that is their goal) as a personal/national security strategy is both naive and contrary to a way of life that values personal freedoms, self-expression and the right to self-protection from crime, victimization and tyranny.

Frankly, it’s akin to a herd of sheep that must rely on the vigilance, sharp claws and teeth of the sheepdog for their very survival because they have no other means of protection – other than huddling close and hoping the wolves are satisfied with taking a few weak members.

I’m not prepared to do that.

For me and mine, we will support the police, the military and our government but we will not rely on those institutions for our self-protection.

We will use our lawfully owned weapons, training and proficiency to do that. We will defend ourselves. By our strength of will and vigilance, we will prove more dangerous to the lives and welfare of those who seek to victimize us than they are to ours – and that alone will keep them at bay. We are not looking for a fight – but if it comes to our door, we are prepared.

If you choose to rely on the protection afforded by law enforcement and our government that is your right. I pray that when you need them most their response is swift and their aim is true.

But in the end, I suppose that’s what this is all about – my right to live my life in the lawful manner I choose, just as it is your right to live your life. I remain ready to defend that basic principle.

Reef balls. . .

August 2015

Mark Lane has a good op-ed in today’s News-Journal exposing our half-bright County Council Chairman and his latest cockamamie scheme to line the pockets of his cheap suit at our expense.

Here’s a guy that can’t plumb a toilet – yet he’s come up with a $37-40 million dollar plan to restore Mosquito Lagoon by burying pipes under the barrier island and placing “reef balls” under private docks, ostensibly to foster marine growth.

So, Davis forms a not-for-profit with a friend and somehow gets a resolution supporting their completely unvetted idea before the County Council. No science. No engineering. No shit?

Then, in one of his typical fantasy opinions, County Attorney Dan Eckert said it’s ethically sound for the Council Chair to vote on his own outside ventures. Really? REALLY?. (In my view, Eckert’s complicity can no longer be ignored. He’s either paid for – or just dumb – but either way, he has no business representing the citizens of Volusia County.)

Fortunately, only Cusack and Wagner (speaking of the ethically challenged) voted with Davis to support the plan.

Of course, Davis said he wasn’t asking for money – just the Council’s “blessing.” My ass.

Is it possible that the level of abject corruption in County government has reached the tempo where these vile Greedheads no longer make even cursory attempts to hide it? Has their hubris reached a point where they openly lie and loot with total impunity?

In my opinion, Jason Davis and his elected co-conspirators are cheap thieves who have lost the capacity for shame. This band of scum continues to pervert the system for their personal gain – and for the enrichment of their uber-wealthy handlers who have bought and paid for them like pigs in a market. I shit on everything these swine stand for. If anyone in my sphere of influence votes to keep even one incumbent on the Volusia County Council – please “unfriend” me.  It’s time these cheap grifters learn that there is some shit we won’t eat.

Daytona Beach News-Journal – August 20, 2015

Thoughts on Veterans Day 2015

On the eve of Veterans Day 2015 I came upon this old photo of my Military Police School training platoon (11th Battalion, Delta Company 1st Platoon) at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, 1979. (That’s my goofy face, next to the last row, third from the left.)

My best friend Mike Lowe and I enlisted on the buddy plan when skipping classes at DBCC got old. . .

I want to begin by saying that my time pales in comparison with others – in fact, it doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same company with those of you who served in combat, deployed or actually sacrificed during peacetime. I never did, and you have my utmost thanks and respect this Veterans Day, and everyday.

To say that we had more fun than any Army Privates before or since is an understatement. Today, when someone asks me what I did in the Army I say, “I can’t tell you.” And they ask, “Classified?”, and I say, “No. Statute of Limitations. . .”

While Mike was promoted to Spec 4, I was actually reduced in rank due to company-level discipline three times – I spent A LOT of time on KP and extra-duty – and I deserved every miserable minute of it. (In fact, I think I’ve personally cleaned out every grease trap in every mess hall from here to West Point. . .)

While I’m not real proud of my personal contribution – I am extremely proud of what the Army contributed to my life:

They took an irresponsible, stupid little boy and made me become a man in a short period of time. (Thank you Sr. Drill Sergeant Ainsworth.)

They taught me valuable skills that formed the foundation for my law enforcement career – in fact, Military Police School was the finest police training I ever experienced – and that includes the FBI National Academy.

They taught me to respect tradition – and the importance of committing yourself to something larger than your own self-interest.

They taught me how to put ego aside and work cooperatively with a group of diverse people to achieve a common goal.

They taught me to never quit – and that you can always put one foot in front of the other – despite how tired, sick and beat-
down you may think you are.

They gave me a sense of pride and patriotism that only someone who has endured basic recruit training in the armed forces can appreciate.

And best of all, the experience allowed me the opportunity to meet and serve with some of the finest men and women I have ever known – some of whom went on to serve with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan – all of whom remain life-long friends.

To the NCO’s and Officers I put through the mill – I apologize. You deserved better (except you, Lt. “Motorola” – you’re still an asshole in my book – but thank you for your service.)

After six years – by the grace of God – I received an Honorable Discharge (Pvt. E-1) from the 345th MP Company (EG) U.S. Army Reserve. And while the Army may not be proud of me – I am extremely proud to have played a very, very small part in it, and I always will be.

Take your punishment

Kudos to the City of Holly Hill for standing up to these bloated bastards and refusing to be extorted for $25,000 by Volusia County.

Now, they plan to punish us by shutting down Calle Grande for two months while they make $118K in repairs to the arches – which they will ultimately tear down, rather than recast (mark my words) because you don’t need historical features and community amenities as much as Jim Dinneen needs a pay raise – or more money for their cronies, tax breaks and giveaways. . .

The repair could have been made and the roadway kept open for a fraction of what you and I are paying to “renovate” the Commission Chambers ($545,000 with the work being awarded to Councilman Josh Wagner’s brother-in-law – I don’t make this shit up folks).

Just one more shining example of how petty these common assholes truly are. Make no mistake – Jim Dinneen is scolding the citizens of Holly Hill for not giving in to the County’s demand that they provide $25,000 for “flagmen” to direct traffic – something that should have been factored into the repair cost.

The County Council are like an unruly group of recalcitrant children – schoolyard bullies who consistently pick on those who cannot defend themselves. Remember this at the ballot box and let these corrupt bastards know there is some shit we won’t eat.


Calle Grande Roadwork

Just Resign. You Leach. . .

Sorry kids, this one is like a bone in the throat:

Debary Mayor
DeBary Mayor Clint Johnson

When I first read about DeBary Mayor Clint Johnson’s antics this summer I thought, “Hey, here’s a dude who speaks his mind, shakes things up a bit, kind of interesting.” Now, I see he’s just a common flim-flam artist who tried to ripoff a small business using his position of trust.

Apparently Johnson was wearing a shirt with the official seal of the City of DeBary when he obtained a Cannondale and riding equipment from a small bicycle shop for some half-baked personal bike ride from Tallahassee to Key West ostensibly to bring attention to bicycle trails (he rode down the west coast of the state to bring attention to trails on the east coast?)

When the trip was over – he stiffed (“Schlonged him” in the parlance of our times) the small business for the cost of the bike, etc. Only when the shop owner confronted the City of DeBary (who he was led to believe was bank rolling the Mayor’s trip) did Johnson pony-up – but failed to pay sales tax – you know, like the rest of us have to – which lends more credence to the fact Johnson used the City’s tax exempt status when he obtained the goods and services for his trip.

During over 30-years of public service I worked for a couple of dirt bags with no personal or professional ethics – so I have a pretty good idea what the citizens and employees of the City of DeBary are going through. It’s embarrassing – and it hurts everyone involved – but just like those I suffered, the light has finally been focused on this scumbag.

It’s right and good that the News-Journal expose these assholes for what they are.

The vast majority of politicians and officials I worked with through the years were some of the most honorable and giving people I have had the honor of knowing. But when elected or appointed officials misuse their powerful positions of trust they destroy public confidence in the process – and that is inexcusable.

Just resign, you leach. You blowhard. The people of DeBary deserve better.

Daytona Beach News-Journal

Monument to the Mayor

“This is much more than a ribbon cutting, this is a true celebration,” said Lesa France Kennedy, chief executive officer of International Speedway Corp. “We celebrate Glenn’s tireless public service, his countless community and charitable contributions and his dedication and devotion to our city, the City of Daytona Beach.”  Daytona Beach News-Journal – December 17, 2015

“I am a France.  We own this town.” –  Russell Van Richmond, October 2009

Indeed, Mr. Van Richmond.  Indeed.

“Let them eat cake” is the traditional translation of the French phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche“, supposedly spoken by “a great princess” upon learning that the peasants had no bread. Since brioche was a luxury bread enriched with butter and eggs, the quote would reflect the princess’s disregard for peasants.

With the Beachside literally crumbling and unrestrained blight creeping in all directions, our own Daytona Royalty have bestowed upon their subjects Ritchey Plaza – complete with Adirondack chairs and eight (count ’em) Royal Palm trees – along with the the requisite “Remember – I coughed up cash” plaques.

This monument to the mega-wealthy member of the Volusia County Triumvirate Glenn Ritchey was the brainchild of Lesa France-Kennedy, and (naturally) unanimously approved by the Daytona Beach City Commission.

Honestly, have these people looked across Atlantic Avenue from the very spot they’ve erected this monument to self-importance?

Would any of them allow a family member to walk the streets around the Bandshell alone? Or better yet, actually live down there?

Trust me, I’m the most ego-maniacal asshole you know, and this self-congratulatory bullshit makes me blush. When did people lose the emotion of embarrassment and shame?

But hey, enough of my maudlin ravings on Glenn’s special day. . . Merry Christmas, Y’all! Everything’s great at the Worlds Most Famous Beach! (Keep your doors locked. . .  And enjoy your brioche.)