The Week that Was: A Glimmer of Hope in DeBary

In an age that is utterly corrupt, the best policy is to do as others do.

 Marquis de Sade, 1788

Whoa. That’s a heavy thought to ponder on this beautiful early summer day but somehow it serves as the perfect explanation for how a small West Volusia town became the poster child for all that’s wrong in government.

That said, I’m happy to report that things are looking up on the beautiful banks of the St. John’s River.

This week’s departure of DeBary City Manager Dan Parrott is welcome relief after months of controversy.

In the end, he ran like the self-serving rat he has always been.

I thought his classless exit was a fitting bow for his tumultuous career.  When it came right down to it – it was all about Dan.  From the eleventh-hour amendment to his employment contract which allowed him to skulk out the back door with nearly $90,000 in severance and buy-backs, to his unwillingness to accept personal responsibility for the devastation left in his wake, Dan Parrott proved he didn’t give a tinker’s damn about the citizens of DeBary.

You can tell a lot about a person’s character by the way they leave the field.

Dan would have us believe “It just wasn’t fun anymore.”

I guess not.

Being the subject of an active criminal investigation by two Florida law enforcement agencies, named in a federal gender discrimination lawsuit, and being exposed as a cockeyed fraud in front of your peers, friends and family is a tough nut.

I’m actually surprised he lasted as long as he did.

In a way I feel bad for Dan.  It is a damnable shame whenever anyone ends their career as a brutal public failure who brought shame to himself, his office and his family name; but he has no one to blame but himself.  The dangerous but attractive triad of hubris, arrogance and greed are a deadly combination for career civil servants – or anyone for that matter.

Unfortunately, Dan took his leave with many unanswered questions still swirling around this besieged community.  Since when do you receive severance for turning-tail and running away like a yellow dog?  Since when does the elected body – officials with a sworn fiduciary responsibility to serve as good stewards of public funds – permit someone to amend their own employment contract for maximum personal benefit on the way out the door?

Has Dan Parrott’s service to the good people of DeBary warranted the honor of being paid for sitting on his ass in St. Augustine for the next two months?

I’m still not clear whether or not the city council actually approved this “amendment” or if they just stood by while Dan helped himself to the last of the silverware on his way out the door?

I suspect in coming days we will get answers to these and other ugly questions as more than a few of his self-absorbed co-conspirators attempt to fix blame for the sleazy land deal firmly on ol’ Dan.

There will be finger-pointing, horrible accusations, deceit and human treachery at City Hall that will rival the last days of Gaius Caligula.

Now that Dan Parrott has fled like a diseased rat, he will be painted by the others as the mastermind of a cheap attempt to exploit over 100-acres of sensitive conservation land for private gain and in the process pissed away tens of thousands of tax payer dollars to prepare the playing field – including hiring the King Rat who arrogantly advertises his chairmanship of the St. John’s River Water Management District’s Governing Board as a goose that lays golden eggs for his clients at Bio Tech Consulting, Inc.

Although Dan Parrott may be gone, he should remember one thing: You can run, but you can’t hide.

In my view, he was an abject failure and a scandalous loser who fled in the night.  But the specter of his crimes will haunt the halls of city hall like Grendel for many years to come.

Dan Parrott will not be missed.

In other developments, this week DeBary City Councilman Rick Dwyer assumed the role of that creepy television hotel room huckster ‘Captain Obvious’ when he announced to the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s intrepid reporter Dinah Pulver, “I want to just pull the plug on all of it.”  “The city needs to abandon the plan to acquire the 102 acres and go back to the drawing board.”

Ya, think?

How prescient, Rick.  Are you clairvoyant like one of those eerie soothsayers from down the road in Cassadaga?  Are you channeling the ghost of Grover Ashcraft?

Where the hell have you been for the past year when we could have used your prophetic wisdom?

Even the elegant Maryam Ghyabi, a member of the SJRWMD Governing Board, changed her tune from supporting a cheap compromise that would have given the City of DeBary a small portion of the conservation lands for a “retention pond” (read “water feature” for the highly touted but patently corrupt Transit Oriented Development).

Now, Ms. Ghyabi thinks it’s best we just forget the whole thing and transfer the lands to Volusia County, you know, like it never even happened. . .

You gotta know when to hold ‘em, and more important, know when to fold ‘em.  Smart lady.

So at the end of the day, the Volusia County Council seized the second opportunity to get County Manager Jim Dinneen and his staff off their dead asses and actually accept the 102-acres in questions – a transfer the SJRWMD first suggested nearly four years ago.

On Thursday, the County Council passed a three-page resolution, which read, in part:

“Utilizing any portion of the Gemini Springs Addition to support development or redevelopment is contrary to the stated mitigation purpose of the property.”

Duh.

My question is who dropped the ball?  Why did it take Volusia County four years from the 2012 SJRWMD land holdings review to take ownership of the conservation lands?  Why didn’t Dinneen follow-up on this transfer well before this brutal mess in DeBary was even conceived?

Understand – these questions will never be answered.  Hell, they won’t even be asked – not by the right people anyway.  In Volusia County government the very thought of personal accountability or the concept of actually holding career bureaucrats responsible for their acts and omissions is anathema.

And in some weirdly tenacious allegiance to her master, John Miklos, SJRWMD executive director Anne Shortelle is still hoping for a meeting with county officials to discuss deeding some 20-acres of the disputed land to DeBary. (Sounds strangely like the original Ghyabi “compromise.”)

That’s sooooo last week, Anne.

Maybe she didn’t get the memo – or perhaps she’s just dumb-loyal to Miklos, who all but hand-selected her for the job – but regardless, Ms. Shortelle better get her head in the game, and I mean quick.

When the chum is in the water and the feeding frenzy begins, you enter the food chain like everyone else – even if you’re the executive director of a powerful state regulatory agency.

I strongly suggest that given the shit-storm of controversy and open deceit surrounding this plagued land deal, rather than keep these sensitive lands under government control, they be transferred to an independent private conservation entity such as the Nature Conservancy.  (www.nature.org)

Obviously, this won’t happen.  The Conservancy’s first core value is “Integrity above reproach” and that clearly has no correlation to Volusia County government.

While this transfer may resolve the matter for the immediate future, in my experience the word “perpetuity” means “about 10-years” in government parlance.  I guarantee you this will not be the last move to develop these lands if they are left in the care of elected officials who are bought and paid for by speculative developers.

Have a great weekend, kids!

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Week that Was: A Glimmer of Hope in DeBary

  1. Here here! Excellent synopsis of the developments leading up to the current situation. And YES, the land should be controlled by a group with ACTUAL ethical standards such as the Nature Conservancy.

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  2. As We have seen before, THIS often is the result of A City Manager running the program, Someone once so eloquently said “The Tail wagging the dog”. When a Council (governing board) and a Manager Work together COHESIVELY, Good things get done correctly. Once someone in the group starts working for their own selfish “best interests”, things descend rapidly into a bubbling pit of . DeBary would do well to opt out of paying this guys severance, and any benefits extending past the time period of his welcome departure.

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