Just when you thought you’ve seen everything – you suddenly realize – you haven’t seen anything.
If there is any DeBary resident that needs further evidence to support the fact that the current city council is in an unrecoverable tailspin, then welcome home from the dark side of the moon and please read Dinah Pulver’s excellent piece in today’s Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Developer squabbles with DeBary, faces penalties for clearing.”
As I commented last week, in one of the most ham-fisted political maneuvers in the history of municipal governance, the council voted to table a plat approval request from the Henin Group for Riviera Bella Unit 4 – a parcel of land under development on Fort Florida Road – which is literally a stone’s throw from the 30-acres of old growth forest that Henin plowed into a primordial ooze sans permit or authorization. Just did it.
It was evident to everyone that tabling the plat approval was inextricably linked to the illegal land clearing – a point not missed by Mr. Henin’s very smart Orlando-based attorney, Tera Tedrow.
Hell, City Attorney Kurt Ardaman couldn’t have telegraphed the council’s intentions any better if he had hired a skywriter.
According to the News-Journal, Ms. Tedrow wrote a strongly worded letter to the City of DeBary, essentially saying what the rest of us already knew, “…it was “clear” that issues pertaining to the land clearing “may have been the true motivation for tabling the plat approval.” She stated the developer would pursue a legal remedy if the plat is denied or “continues to be unnecessarily delayed.”
One would think that, given Mr. Henin’s environmental misconduct and open disregard for the rules and laws at Riviera Bella, he might have thought it prudent to let the dust settle and maybe build a little goodwill with residents in the area who are still staring at the hideous gash he left in the earth.
Instead, Mr. Henin says in essence, “Know your role, city council. You’re holding up my money – do it now or I’ll sue your eyeballs out!”
Yes, sir. Three bags full, sir. “SPECIAL MEETING, Y’ALL!”
In my view, this is akin to the armed robber who cuts his finger while ripping the cash register out of the wall – then sues the convenience store for his medical bills.
Now, let me get this right: The Henin Group willfully and unlawfully – and in my view, with a well-formed criminal intent – clear-cuts some 30-acres of sensitive land from the face of the planet, then, in perhaps the greatest show of unbridled hubris since Gaius Caligula, threatens legal action against the victims (the citizens of DeBary) when they have the temerity to temporarily stop further construction while they investigate the crime and analyze appropriate sanctions?
Then, the arguably insane Mayor Clint Johnson – whose outrageous antics have embarrassed the community and absolutely alienated him from his fellow elected officials – acts completely in contradiction to the wishes of the majority of the council and schedules a special meeting to approve Henin’s plat request.
You know, the very request that the council voted in the majority to table just last week.
The Mayor would have us believe that he called the urgent meeting out of concern for the city’s mounting legal bills – and his hand-wringing over the community’s reputation with would-be developers.
Mayor Johnson, do you honestly believe in your heart-of-hearts that you can improve the obscene reputation of this council by pandering to a developer that gutted 30-acres of land right under your nose without so much as a city tree removal permit – let alone any official authorization from state or federal regulators?
Do you think that blatantly ignoring the will and direction of your fellow council members – and your constituents – will somehow restore your “reputation” in the speculative real estate industry?
My God. It’s like currying favor with a ditch pig in hopes the other greed-hogs still find you attractive. At the end of the day, you’re still wallowing with filthy swine.
While Mayor Johnson attempts to paint himself as “pro-growth” – in reality, he has flagrantly exposed himself as the craven toady of Jerome Henin.
I might not have my finger on the pulse of DeBary residents, but I’ll just bet they don’t give a tinker’s damn about Henin’s “severe financial detriment” or “multi-million-dollar closing.”
I know I don’t.
In fact, I couldn’t care less.
In my view, the Henin Group – much like the DeBary City Council – has demonstrated an absolute disdain for ethical conduct and completely ignored the public’s welfare.
The difference being, the Henin Group is a private business trying their level best to scratch-out a profit, even if they have to pay a few pesky fines along the way for their appalling crimes against the environment.
It is time for the residents of DeBary to come to the sobering realization that this council needs to be recalled (a nice way of saying, the bums should be thrown out of City Hall on their asses).
In an environment where goofy tweets and Facebook posts constitute grounds to spend piles of taxpayer money in an attempt to remove a sitting mayor – one might think that the conflagration of utter dysfunction, quid pro quo corruption, staff complicity and total incompetence (coupled with the open pandering to the very developer that told what passes for city “regulators” to go pound sand as they scoured the land) would be enough to launch these feckless assholes.
Clearly, we have gone far beyond the point where any thinking person can say with a straight face that this council has any semblance of the citizen’s interests at heart.
When they aren’t blathering tirelessly about Mayor Johnson’s pending “forfeiture hearing” or wasting precious time plotting how they can “build around” protected conservation lands, they are busy spitting and spatting about their quirky internecine wars from the dais.
All while nine months into the budget cycle the long suffering townsfolk still do not have the first inkling of what next year’s budget might look like.
All the citizens know – or apparently need to know – is that the cost of legal expenses is going to be astronomical.
Damn your infrastructure repair and replacement.
Damn your recreation and leisure budget.
Your friggin’ leech-like lawyers are going to make bank. Handsomely.
According to the News-Journal’s report, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officials said one of the agency’s gopher tortoise agents and “city officials” investigated the Riviera Bella property and didn’t find any evidence to support concerns from nearby residents that protected turtles lived on the land that was cleared.
Naturally. Nobutty saw nuttin’.
I wonder how many residents of Fort Florida Road were interviewed?
Now, I’m no “gopher tortoise agent,” but I would be curious how one makes a determination that no endangered tortoises lived on that tract – when the land has been compacted and graded level by excavators – coupled with the fact the little buggers live everywhere else in the neighborhood?
It’s my understanding that persons living in the area reported that the roadway looked like the floor of an abattoir – littered with the carcasses of dead wildlife – in the immediate aftermath of the land clearing.
A friend and I have personally visited the site twice – once immediately after the clearing was reported, and again last week.
Of course there is no evidence of gopher tortoises, or anything else.
The land has been clear-cut, graded, and seeded. Now, it’s in the process of being staged to look like a Swiss meadow.
These things happen when you allow the suspects to clean-up the evidence.
Reminds me of the time in the not too distant past when the hero of the Gemini Springs Annex debacle, John Miklos, through his company Bio Tech Consultants (you might remember them), felled an American Bald Eagle’s nest on property under development near Vero Beach.
According to Mr. Miklos, it was all one big “misunderstanding” – seems he thought it was an osprey’s nest. . .
A subsequent investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission failed to result in criminal charges, but concluded that there was a “financial relationship between Bio-Tech and the (then) chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.”
Federal wildlife officials also failed to act – or to comment on the source or significance of Mr. Miklos’ relationship with then FWC Chairman Kenneth Wright.
State records indicate that Miklos and Wright formed Gulf Mitigation Solutions, Inc. in 2010, and China Grove LLC in 2014.
That’s right. They were in business together.
I’m not sure what the corporation does – other than apparently mitigate speculative developer’s chances of being indicted for environmental crimes.
Meanwhile, back at City Hall, Mayor Johnson and the gang quibble over the meaningless while DeBary burns.