I want to tell everyone who takes a few minutes out of their busy day to read these “missives from the dark side” just how much I appreciate your time.
As of this posting our little blog has received over 25,000 views since January!
Wow. Who would have thought?
Much of what I write about is based upon our universal concerns – issues that are near and dear to our collective hearts here in Volusia County. Whether you agree with my point-of-view or not, I hope you find something thought provoking in these ramblings when you visit.
Earlier this week I received some truly great advice from a few friends. These are people I respect – and when they tell me something, I listen.
One explained that my essays are too long. He’s right.
I think it’s a residual style from having written police reports for the past three decades.
In law enforcement we have a saying, “If it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen.” So, I tend to take a quip and transform it into a novella. I promised to do better, but given my proven lack of self-control, I’m not holding out much hope.
Another friend echoed the thoughts of several others who have told me, “You know these people you write about hate you, right?”
I could care less. I spent my life in a field where people actually tried to kill me.
So, if the privileged few who have run Volusia County like a private fiefdom get their pampered feelings bruised by one man’s opinion – well, that’s just hard cheese.
In order to read my twaddle one must look for it – it’s not delivered to everyone’s doorstep each morning. And the beauty is – like a radio or television – if someone doesn’t like the content, they can just turn it off.
No need to get your knickers in a twist, really.
Frankly, I hope those who are in a position to influence change despise me so much that their burning hatred wakes them to the realization that things must change – that the political process in Volusia County can and should be more than using big money to manipulate a patently corrupt system.
I’d like to think we’re better than that.
The recurring kernel of truth I hope readers discern in my epistles is our need for strong leadership.
Will we get what we deserve? Only this election will tell.
It’s clear to me that in Volusia County the current administration is either unwilling or incapable of recognizing that they have lost the public’s trust. They no longer have the consent of the governed – and the cheap methods they employ to convince and control us are tired and worn.
But that doesn’t stop County Manager Jim Dinneen from trotting them out time and again; invariably when he needs more of our money.
For instance, last week we heard more hand-wringing out of Deland as our elected and appointed officials once again sounded the Klaxon on the emergency du jour. Always a hyper-perilous, super-expensive conundrum that can only be resolved with an infusion of more tax dollars.
Once again Mr. Dinneen is prematurely rolling out the transportation infrastructure sales tax initiative – even after city officials effectively (and intelligently) tabled the matter until after the election season.
Like most requests from the cities, I guess Jim used the memo as toilet paper.
In March, area city managers suggested that further talks on the tax scheme, which would divide transportation infrastructure funds between the cities and the county, be put on hold to provide time for stakeholders to agree on a list of priorities.
You know, so citizens will know exactly what the money – estimated at $60.5 million – will be used for.
What a novel idea.
Last week the Daytona Beach News-Journal ran a piece entitled, “Pothole to Growth? Shortage in road funds could hurt Volusia’s economic development.” In the article, Dinneen explains the situation with his typical panic and hysterics:
“If Trader Joe’s wanted to come today, they wouldn’t be here. Tanger probably wouldn’t have come. Economic development would not be here. Period.”
Wow. “Period.” Scary stuff.
Despite Jim’s fear mongering, I’m still not convinced.
I believe these companies would have located here anyway. The fact we gave these projects millions of dollars in public funds, subsidies and infrastructure improvements was simply icing on the corporate cake.
And Mr. Dinneen’s theoretical bullshit is just a smokescreen.
Seemingly oblivious to the fact that he has lost basic credibility with anyone other than his power broker puppeteers, Jim Dinneen once again stages his tired Kabuki – always skillfully performed with just the right amount of drama and apocalyptic urgency to wring additional money from an already tax weary constituency.
It seems that deliberately arousing fear and raising false alarm has become the last arrow in Jim’s quiver.
One would think that for $350,000 in annual salary and benefits Volusia County residents might expect something more in return.
I think people are beginning to understand that a bureaucracy – especially one as bloated and festering as Volusia County’s – requires tax dollars like a leech needs the blood of its host. It’s very life depends upon it.
Let’s face it. The county budget has swelled to approximately $850 million. That’s serious money in a place where the center of the county is pine scrub and most of the municipalities provide their own core services.
In my view, if you can’t do it for $850 big ones – you can’t do it.
It is increasingly clear to everyone except our elected and appointed representatives that they no longer have our support and acquiescence.
We simply don’t trust them anymore.
Public confidence in county government has been slowly eroded by the steady flow of missteps, bullying, deceit and political slight-of-hand that invariably benefits a privileged few while always laying the financial burden squarely on the backs of the taxpayer.
Most telling is the fact that the very thought of reducing exorbitant executive salaries and limiting corporate giveaways in light of budget shortfalls is anathema to this administration.
That tells you all you really need to know about Mr. Dinneen’s loyalties and skills.
If our elected officials still believe the overburdened tax payer is going to blindly approve $60.5 million in additional sales tax, only to have it squandered and lavished on their corporate overseers – or pissed away by gross mismanagement – then they are delusional.
If someone hates me for pointing out that fact – good.