The Debacle in DeBary: After the Circus

“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown.  It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.”

–Charlie Chaplin

By any measure, we are living in strange times.

News reports from around the nation continue to document the bizarre phenomenon of people dressing in creepy clown maquillage and loitering ominously in residential areas, wooded lots and urban downtown’s, generally making folks uneasy and scaring the bejesus out of small children.

(Given the times they are growing up in, I really didn’t think there was anything that could frighten kids anymore. . .)

In true American fashion, now legitimate clowns are taking it squarely on their big red noses as business tapers off on the children’s birthday party circuit.

As the “Killer Clown” hysteria continues to build, some professional Klumpys and Bozos have taken to staging “Clown Lives Matter” marches in major metropolitan areas.

Who thought we would ever see Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey join the professional victim set?

Could riots be next?  Wild bands of rainbow-haired, harlequin-wearing circus performers piling out of clown cars, en masse, blocking traffic by juggling cigar boxes in intersections and throwing buckets of confetti at stone faced, armor-clad police officers?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concept of a performer covering one’s true identity and pretending to be something you’re not – I’ve done it for years.

After all, over-the-top carnival spectacles and the ludicrous pageantry of the circus is alive and well in the halls of governments all over Volusia County.

But let’s face it – when it comes to creepy clowns masquerading as public officials, the City of DeBary takes the pie squarely in the face.

Last week, as we collectively prepared for the approach of Hurricane Matthew, I caught a blurb in the Daytona Beach News-Journal reporting yet another attempt by the Fraudulent Four to kick DeBary’s duly elected Mayor Clint Johnson while he’s down.

In a scene that could only be acted out by the krazy klown troop at DeBary City Hall, the remaining members of the city council – you know, those who haven’t yet been cannibalized by the others over petty political disagreements and personality clashes – voted to allow the ethically crippled Interim City Manager Ron McLemore to march down to the State Attorney’s Office and file criminal charges against Mayor Johnson if he fails to turnover certain records that the council wants to get their hands on.

That’s the same State Attorney’s Office that is actively investigating the actions of former City Manager Dan Parrott, certain city staffers, and the Fraudulent Four on potential public records violations.

It’s part of the city’s continuing nutso strategy – no doubt dreamt-up by their dirty-handed accomplice and city attorney Kurt Ardaman – of “admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations.”

Unfortunately, as history has proven time-and-again, that dubious plan only works for a little while.

Look, it is time for DeBary officials to come to the sobering realization that D.B. Cooper got away with it because he acted alone.  No collusion lasts beyond the first round of interrogations.

Trust me.

(Just for the record – I’m not a criminal defense lawyer, but I suspect it is time to start cooperating with investigators.  Better to be identified as an unindicted co-conspirator than go down with the rest of the rabble.  Right, Lita?)

In Clint Johnson’s inimitable style, when pressed for the records, he responded with an invoice to the City of DeBary demanding over $3,000.00 in reimbursement for “extensive use of information technology and a great deal of clerical or supervisory time.”

Tit for Tat.

Just like when the city’s sniveling public records manager, Eric Frankton, submitted an outlandish bill for some $17,000.00 in response to attorney Doug Daniel’s request for records in Mayor Johnson’s defense.

So, in true DeBary form, the council hired yet another Fishback Dominick attorney, Lance King, to send Mr. Daniels a blowhard opinion that Johnson’s obviously facetious demand for payment is different than a request for public records where fees are statutorily authorized.

You might remember that Lance King is the same law partner of Kurt Ardaman who carted off $4,280.00 in taxpayer dollars in the lead-up to Mayor Johnson’s ridiculous “forfeiture hearing.”

Anyone care to guess what Counselor King made on this latest make-work, cut-and-paste project?

I don’t make this stuff up folks.

(Isn’t there an alarm that sounds at the Florida Bar whenever a small community is being actively raped by a series of predatory Winter Park law firms?  If not, maybe they should get one budgeted for the good of what remains of the legal profession’s reputation.)

As usual, Mr. Daniels was forced to point out the patently obvious to council members, and their cash-bloated legal representatives, when he advised that the city assessing costs to Mayor Johnson’s requests when he was an elected official is just as wrong as Johnson charging for records.

“Clint was making the point that it was wrong,” Daniels said.

No kidding.

As I’ve said before, the Office of the State Attorney does some of their best work at the nexus of politics and criminal conduct.  They have the unique ability to sort the wheat from the chaff.

I have no doubt State Attorney R. J. Larizza and his smart staff will see Mr. McLemore skulking into the office from a mile away.  They have seen it all before, and are not easily fooled.

In his best Emmett Kelly’s “Weary Willie” act, Council Member Rick Dwyer said, “We just want to bring closure,” regarding this raging shit-storm that has haunted this besieged community like a golem for months.

From the painfully obvious column: Mr. Dwyer and his fellow tragic figures on the DeBary City Council are living in some weird parallel universe where no one is held accountable for their actions – a cirque de l’absurde – where the deranged and openly exposed illusionists still desperately want you to believe their act is real.

The fact is, the Big Top is about to come down in DeBary.  And when the make-up is removed and the manure swept away, the good citizens of DeBary will be left with the realization that, in the end, this very expensive and elaborately staged farce really was on them after all.










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