Government, in its purest form, provides for and protects the welfare of its electorate – not the self-interests of its practitioners.
An institution where representatives are elected to high office by their fellow citizens to exercise legitimate authority and provide effective leadership in furtherance of the community’s collective needs.
Quality government is marked by oversight, accountability, collaboration, an institutional respect for the rules, and efficient stewardship of its resources. It ensures that political and economic goals are based upon consensus – which requires that all views be heard and weighed equally during the decision making process.
Most of all, good government requires strict adherence to the basic doctrines and democratic principles that form the very foundation of our Constitutional Republic.
In recent weeks I have been criticized by a few unfortunate residents of the City of DeBary for speaking out on the myriad problems facing the community – a small minority who still believe that a good old fashioned coup d’etat is still the best means of manipulating political change.
“Don’t listen to him! He doesn’t live here!”
Your right, I don’t.
But when did living in the city limits of DeBary become a prerequisite for having an opinion on the ghastly form of governance the elected and appointed officials have foisted on the people there?
I’ve never lived in Mogadishu, but I understand the macro effect of how what happens in Somalia can have a direct impact our lives and livelihoods here in the United States.
Public corruption, transparency, respect for the rule of law and basic accountability to those who are affected by the actions of the elected body directly relate to the stability of the community, the region, and beyond.
I equate DeBary and the other municipalities in Volusia County to a group of people sitting quietly in a restaurant while one guest at the table acts out inappropriately, screaming and fighting like a recalcitrant child, throwing food, pocketing silverware and generally being sloppy.
It’s beyond embarrassing because it paints the entire dinner party in an unfavorable light.
On a good day, the DeBary city council operates like some weird third world junta – relying almost exclusively on a poorly constructed and extremely malleable “city charter” that is interpreted as the group of four sees fit by what passes for a “city attorney.”
If you don’t like what the duly elected Mayor has to say – or the manner or means by which he said it – just conjure up some dubious “charter violations” – lend legitimacy by hiring yet another attorney to prosecute a bizarre “forfeiture hearing” – then launch the people’s choice into the political stratosphere like a Saturn 5.
Damn the Florida statutes governing the recall of elected officials.
Damn the basic constitutional protections of free speech and governance of the people, by the people, and for the people.
In DeBary – four misguided council members and a greed-crazed lawyer control everything. The “charter” is all they recognize.
For all these reasons and more, I was not the least bit surprised when I read in the Daytona Beach News-Journal that the City of DeBary and their preternaturally stupid former city manager, Dan Parrott, was being sued in federal court yet again.
This time by the former City Clerk, Stacy Tebo.
According to her suit, which was filed last week, Tebo was summarily demoted and then fired after she dared to complain of gender discrimination against female municipal employees.
This lawsuit comes on the heels of a similar federal discrimination action filed by former Assistant City Manager Kassandra Blissett.
In March 2015, both Tebo and Blissett filed gender bias complaints with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Parrott implemented a compensation plan that gave the city’s male employees a 12.54% pay raise, while female employees received a 2.13% increase.
Of course, Parrott has denied the claim, telling anyone who will listen that he was merely following a “consultant’s study” that showed male maintenance workers were underpaid – while female administrative employees were not.
How convenient. How disproportionate, but convenient.
If nothing else, this ugly exercise has exposed the extent to which the use of “consultants” has contributed to the breakdown in our representative form of government.
Elected and appointed officials at all levels of government routinely employ these overpaid pseudo-experts – usually has-been’s with pliable opinions – who serve as the middleman on every decision from employee pay to massive transit oriented developments.
Because these whiz-bang “authorities” on all things government come with their own asbestos suits – tailor-made to fade the political heat when things go sideways. Period.
You see, they haven’t been elected or appointed to anything.
Now, I don’t want to paint the entire industry as racketeering charlatans. Hell, I have close friends who bill themselves as consultants and do a great job of facilitating progress in their respective fields of expertise. But I suspect even they are vaguely amused at how easy it is to wring green dollars out of the public teat.
Look, how long do you think it would take for the average human resources director to research a regional compensation and benefits analysis and present an accurate in-house report to the decision makers?
You can do a reasonable job just by reviewing readily available open source information or even through a brief phone call to local personnel directors.
Trust me, I know. I’ve produced highly touted governmental “studies” before lunch, doing little more than cut-and-paste.
But hardened mercenaries like Dan Parrott – administrators who have survived internecine political wars and have the scars to prove it – know the first rule of government service: CYA – Cover Your Ass.
So, they take the cowardly – but extremely safe – route of hiring an outside consultant to “look at the issue.” Doesn’t really matter what it is – and after all – it’s not their money.
Unfortunately, most of these highly paid “advisers” know which side their bread is buttered on from the moment the contract is awarded – and their initial discussions with the city manager generally tells them all they need to know about the preferred tone, tenor and “direction” that their final recommendations should take.
Let’s face it, in a crowded field, most consultancies understand that independent thinkers are rarely asked back. They serve, by-and-large, as a rubber stamp – a guy from out-of-town with a briefcase – and they play an incredibly useful purpose to risk-adverse government officials.
Interestingly, I just read where the City of DeBary has hired yet another Winter Park-based consulting firm – Associated Consulting International – ostensibly to tell the city council what types of businesses should be placed around the SunRail depot.
That’s right – $18,000.00 in taxpayer funds to tell us what the city’s highly paid Transient Oriented Development Marketing Director, Roger “Low Profile” Van Auker, should – at the very least – already know.
I mean, Parrott hired him for his institutional knowledge and incredible expertise, right?
Now, you might remember that in 2015, the DeBary City Council appropriated in excess of $75,000.00 in public funds for an extensive market-based Transit Oriented Development Master Plan which was researched and completed by the mega-planning consultant, Littlejohn.
As I recall, one of the key elements of this incredibly expensive report – which Interim Mayor Lita Handy-Peters now pathetically refers to as the “pretty picture book” – was a market analysis which spelled out in very specific terms the types of businesses one would want in the TOD:
“Demand from residential development within the TOD Core area for neighborhood-oriented retail will attract convenience stores in a village center setting. When a critical mass of development is reached, community-oriented retail will materialize, such as a drug store, grocery, dry cleaners, barber shop, fast casual restaurants, and a bank. Office developments are unlikely to occur in the TOD areas due to the station’s undeveloped, rural setting and distance away from major employment and retail centers. Small-scale office space catering to real estate offices, banks, outpatient and dentist clinics, and other supporting services are more appropriate to establish in the TOD Core area.”
Now they want to spend an additional $18,000.00?
To tell them what? The difference between a Domino’s and a Papa Johns?
According the West Volusia Beacon, DeBary’s own Secret Squirrel, Roger Van Auker, is already drumming up some type of business or another in the TOD – even without the all-important ACi study in hand:
“There is some activity in that TOD right now, but it is confidential right now,” Van Auker continued. “Things are happening, but they cannot be announced right now.”
So, Rog – you need the eighteen grand feasibility study or you don’t?
I’m soooo confused. . .
I guess it just makes sense that when the chips are down, Dan Parrott instinctively falls behind the shield of yet another consultant’s report.
Dan can hide – but what this treacherous asshole can’t do is dodge his stupid and wholly inappropriate remarks about female employees in the workplace.
“Women don’t think clearly because they are too emotional.”
Speaking of DeBary City Hall, “There’s too much estrogen here.”
Don’t misunderstand – I knew Dan Parrott was a bungling, wholly incompetent little shitheel – I just didn’t realize what a misogynistic tyrant he was. In fact, some of his more blatant missteps have caused smart people to question his very mental stability. There really is no other rational explanation – other than greed, I suppose – the oldest motivator in the human experience.
I’m just spit-balling here, but what do you suppose the chances are that an ill-humored Schweinhund like Dan Parrott – a simpering bully who would demean the service and contribution of women in the workforce, then fire them out-of-hand when they dared to complain about it – would cobble together a few bogus charges against an elected mayor who was asking all the wrong questions?
Am I the only one who could imagine something like that happening?
I hope when these ladies are through with Dan in federal court that he walks like a eunuch the rest of his life.
To those few ostriches who still believe everything’s hunky-dory down in River City, the evidence is beginning to back-up like I-4 at rush-hour – and the putrid stench of political corruption and mean-spirited power mongering is getting too vile and pervasive to ignore.
Note to DeBary residents from the patently obvious file:
A few of your elected and appointed officials are positioning your community for a Grade A Prime screwing by their real estate development friends – while fattening up every law firm and consultancy in Winter Park in the process. And as long as they can interpret your charter and land development codes any way they damn well want, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Trust me. You don’t have to live in DeBary to see that.
4 thoughts on “The Debacle in DeBary: Damn Outside Agitators. . .”
Basically why is the City of Debary getting into the development business? Most cities/towns draw up a plan and let the developers bring their plans to them for approval after the proper vetting. Yes, the so called leadership is taking the minions down the flowery path of least resistance and greater profit . Personally, I’d love to see the state pull the city’s charter and turn everything back to the county. The only reason Debary even exists is because of fear they were about to be annexed by Orange City. And the only reason they went south of Dirksen is because they need the tax money the FPL plant generates. And by the way, these morons have no idea what sensible development entails and don’t get me started about Sunrail. Thanks for another good read
Good insight, John.
Enjoyed the writing but sickened by the content. I realize Clint Johnson was unconventional and his speech was sometimes caustic but he did manage to shine a light on some stuff. Team Volusia included. Roger said we needed to put them in the budget yet again last year ($10,000.) and still nothing almost 100 thousand dollars and 10 years in. Rick Dwyer campaigned on cuttting them loose and voted for this waste yet again. When will we see some ROI? From them and all these studies. I see after reading your essay that the biggest purpose for the studies is so the council doesnt have to make decisions.
Sad that Clint committed political suicide for nothing. He actually made the most sense up there. Still can’t believe the charges that did him in. I agree with John. Go back to the county. We have proven we can’t handle the responsibility and there is no light at the end of this tunnel.
Well Mark, you need to just chalk this up to not understanding that Debay has it’s own version of ‘Under the Dome’. We can complain about Sanford and any other place else our little hearts desire, but woe be the Carpet Bagger that treads on our space.