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: