A Place at the Public Trough

Anyone else get to attend the weekend confab between Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry and County Chairman Jason Davis? Me neither. So much for open, transparent, participatory government in the sunshine, huh?

One might think that a matter which has generated this level of community concern, discussion, newsprint and interest might warrant – I dunno – a public meeting? But no – Henry and Davis know what’s best for you. They don’t need your goddamn input, and more important – they don’t want it. In fact, the public’s participation in local/county government is anathema to these assholes – you are a hindrance to their self-serving “plan”, a turd in their punch bowl, and they certainly don’t need the opinions of a bunch of rubes. Know your place, dammit. Conform to your role, John Q. All they want or need you to do is pay for it! Open your wallet, you working stiff – give it up, or else!

And hey, City Commissioner Rob Gilliland – while you’re patting yourself on the back over your cowardly capitulation to the County Council – here’s a piece of advise: I PAY COUNTY TAXES! YOU CANNOT EXCLUDE ME FROM COUNTY SERVICES – LIKE BARRING ENTRY TO THE PROPOSED HOMELESS SHELTER FOR MUNICIPALITIES WHO DON’T KNEEL BEFORE THE COUNTY AND PONY UP MORE MONEY! You scumbag. You elitist, exclusionary asshole. IT’S MY FRIGGING MONEY THAT’S HELPING TO PAY FOR IT – GET IT!? Even more bizarre is City Attorney Marie Hartman’s stellar advise that Gilliland’s suggestion is somehow “plausible”?


Where in the hell did Marie Hartman get her law degree? Where was she the day they taught law in law school? You have an obligation to speak the truth – to let self-serving, stupid politicians know when they have crossed the line. You sniveling sycophant.

In my view, the likes of Henry, Davis, Gilliland and the rest of these zeros wouldn’t know real leadership if it jumped up and bit them on the ass. We are royally screwed – and we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves. We keep electing these incompetent shitheels to important offices, then act surprised when they ignore us, line their pockets at our expense, direct tax dollars to influential insiders, mismanage important issues until true crisis results, and generally ignore the core needs of their constituents.

If politics is the art of controlling your environment – we, the people, lost. . .

As time moves on, it’s becoming patently clear to everyone that this “homeless” debacle was orchestrated and directed by a common resort town grifter, “Pastor Mike”, and that equally greedy bastard Josh Wagner, Esquire. Mark my words, kids – this entire sordid mess will become clear as spring water the minute our elected officials and their puppet masters decide who is going to get hip deep in the $4+ million that’s being set aside to warehouse and service the “homeless.”

If Wagner’s in-laws can get $600K to renovate the County Council Chambers – do you think he’s not going to get his filthy snout in this multi-million dollar trough? Unlikely. Josh Wagner represents the lowest of the low – he is a shameless scumbag who has no more concern for the progress and welfare of the citizens of Volusia County than a broke-back snake. I hate everything he stands for.

Folks, this is our wake-up call. Take a look around you, Daytona Beach. Look hard at the Beachside, Ridgewood Avenue, Downtown, East ISB, your tax bill, your children’s school, the crime rate, YOUR BEACH, etc., etc. – and ask yourself: I’m I better off? Has there been one single, solitary improvement to my life and community under the “leadership” of Derrick Henry and Jason Davis and their respective administrations?

Clowns masquerading. Sickening.

The Classic “Reverse Robin Hood”

Is anyone sick and tired of giving away tax dollars to private business for dubious returns that only seem to benefit the uber-wealthy owners in the end? I know I am. If you can’t make it on the returns of your own hard work, why should government subsidize you with mine?

Locally, Daytona’s Forbes-listed France Family is getting increasingly close to their slice of the millions in state sales tax rebates professional sports complexes in Florida are eligible to receive.  This week the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) determined that professional sports stadiums, to include the newly renovated Daytona International Speedway, now qualify for even more tax funded corporate welfare.

In 2014, in response to unprecedented lobbying efforts by billionaire owners of various sports franchises around the state, legislators changed the manner in which public funds for stadium improvements are allocated by creating a pseudo-competitive process.  Under the change, owners are ostensibly required to demonstrate job creation and economic growth that wouldn’t happen without the infusion of tax dollars.  In effect, this would allow state funding only for projects with the greatest return on investment.

But who judges the competition?   The Scott administration?  The DEO, a governmental “economic development” bureaucracy lead by a Scott appointee who has so far refused to even rank applications for funding as required?

Didn’t Jacksonville Jaguars owner and billionaire tycoon Shahid Kahn “donate” $250,000 to Rick Scott’s political action committee “Let’s Get to Work” during his re-election campaign?   Now, the Jaguars EverBank Field receives $2 million annually in state tax dollars under the same funding scheme sought by the France family.  Now that’s a return on investment!

Wait, didn’t the City of Jacksonville just borrow $45 million to underwrite upgrades to that very same EverBank Field?

Sound familiar?  You bet it does.

Let’s face it, Rick Scott never threw an incentive dollar that didn’t in some way benefit him or his wealthy cabal of influential insiders, and this latest smoke-and-mirrors scam is no different.

In the interest of full disclosure – I’m not a race fan.  Never have been.  I just have a fundamental problem when my hard-earned tax dollars are used to fund billionaires.  Call me loopy – but it just rubs me wrong – I’m the kind of guy who needs to see actual, physical benefits for money spent.  Theoretical pies in the sky don’t do it for me anymore.

(Listen, if you’re a race fan, that’s cool. Please don’t try to change my mind. I’ve lived here most of my life, been around it, etc. I just don’t get it.) But what I do understand is the sport seems to have a diminishing fan base by any measure (mine is seeing an enormous number of empty seats whenever I’ve seen television coverage from tracks around the nation).

In her excellent piece on the topic in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Eileen Zaffiro-Kean found at least one voice of reason in Chris Hudson, state director of Americans for Prosperity – Florida:

“In 2015, lawmakers stood strong against handing out public money to privately owned sports teams, and we implore them to continue to put their constituents ahead of special interests,” Hudson said, “DEO is making some fatally risky assumptions that these activities would not have taken place without the incentive money, especially considering that all three applicants have already started undertaking their renovations, and some are almost completed. Government is not a bank and should not be at the disposal of wealthy sports franchises to enrich themselves on the backs of taxpayers.”


Perhaps I’m wrong, but explain the rationale in committing $90 million in state tax dollars over the next 30-years to prop up what we already support with millions of dollars in City/County subsidies? (Remember that measly $40 million we handed over for Daytona One just last year?)

I mean, when is enough, enough? Where does it end? For the life of me, I’m just not seeing the return on our investment in the communities, on the street – at the grassroots – you know, where the funds originated in the first place.  Can our elected officials really continue to tax the working people of the State of Florida for the benefit of the most wealthy privately-owned enterprises in the world?

In my view, perhaps the most telling aspect of the Volusia County Council’s action on the $20 million “Grant” to the Daytona One project is the fact they had to take a vote on the award twice. Yep.

Seems they forgot to hear public comments before the first vote.

I don’t make this up, folks. . .

A Story That Deserves to be Told

I enjoyed my friend Pat Rice’s very thoughtful piece written in the aftermath of the City of Daytona Beach’s showdown with Volusia County over the “homeless” debacle.

Unfortunately, I disagree with Pat’s key assumption.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the very thin line a local newspaper walks in a tourist economy – between exposing a community’s slimy underside and promoting the positive attributes that draw a crowd.

I get it.

However, I do not believe, as Mr. Rice suggests, that we have “City and county leaders, members of the business community, health officials, religious leaders, activists, and interested citizens are working hard on solutions to homelessness”.

Some of what Pat wrote is spot on (I was especially intrigued by the temerity of a local “business leader” who asked that coverage of the crisis be moved off the front page during the Rolex 24) but what is overlooked is the fact that this debacle exposed a harsh realities that many didn’t know existed in local government until now, such as:

The ineffectiveness of our “leadership”.

The lack of trust and basic cooperation between the mosaic of municipalities and the Volusia County Council.

The fact that our County Manager has little, if any, effective communication with senior constitutional officers, such as Property Appraiser Morgan Glireath, on important issues.

The level to which our elected officials will sink when the pressure is on, and the power a few uber-weathy and deeply self-serving insiders have to influence political will and move tax dollars.

In my view, this is a very important facet of the “homeless” story that deserves to be told. They say that the best disinfectant is sunshine, and if we hope to see significant and lasting change on the issues that face our area we need to expose these ugly elements for what they are.

The fact is, real change will not come unless and until we elect people who will fundamentally change the manner and means of governance in Volusia County – who will put the will and needs of the people first and let the influential few know that while they have a place at the table, their “my way or the highway” mentality is contrary to participatory problem solving.

Another equally disturbing segment of the problem begins and ends at the door of the County Manager’s office. If you want effective change – Jim Dinneen must go as well.

Read Pat Rice’s thoughtful piece here: