Volusia Politics: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Our much-anticipated election has come and gone and our sensitive liberal friends are in the midst of a national nervous breakdown.

It may be cold comfort, but trust me – this too shall pass.

Perhaps its time to finish the hot cocoa, put the fuzzy woobie away, pick-up the soaked crying towels and get back to school, work, or whatever it is you do to contribute to our societal welfare.

I’m kidding of course.  I understand the agony of loosing a tough contest, but I still believe that American’s can fundamentally disagree on political issues and still care about one another – in fact, I can’t think of anything more purely American.

It’s time we all come together behind President-elect Trump and support the peaceful transition of power.

We owe it to our democratic process – and our nation.

On the local front, the Volusia County Council has a new chairman-elect in Ed Kelley – and the District 4 seat will be filled by Heather Post – following a weird, hard-fought campaign against her opponent, Al Smith.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate both Mr. Kelley and Mrs. Post – and extend my best wishes for success.  After all, they will represent our collective interests and be accountable for serving as good stewards of our hard-earned tax dollars.  They deserve our support until their actions prove otherwise.

In my view, given the train wreck that is county government, they have nowhere to go but up.

They say the devil is in the details – and in Volusia County – that old maxim continues to hold true.

I recently wrote a screed venting my spleen on the Volusia County Council’s latest buggering by uber-wealthy power broker, Mori Hosseini, President of ICI Homes and Chairman of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Board of Trustees.

mori-hosseini
Mori Hosseini

You may recall the shameless money-grab by Mr. Hosseini and ERAU Interim President Karen Holbrook which ultimately netted the private university some $1.5-million in taxpayer dollars – cash – coupled with the “sale” of public property near Clyde Morris and Bellevue to the college for half its appraised value.

Now, you might think strutting out of the council chambers with over $2-million dollars in public funds and assets would have satisfied the big guy.

Not hardly.

When you’re the High Panjandrum of Volusia County, you get what you want – when you want it.  Unfortunately for us, this most recent debacle will be the gift that keeps on giving.

Check this out:

Prior to the county council’s vote to literally give publicly owned property to ERAU, Mr. Hosseini had the brass to ask (read: direct) County Manager Jim Dinneen to use even more of our tax dollars to fund any environmental clean-up that may be required prior to the transfer.

I’ll give Mori this – he’s got some stones.

For years, the land in question housed the county’s B-1 Barn – a heavy maintenance and storage facility.  You can bet your bippy that there will be extensive hazardous materials remediation required, such as oil and fluids in the soil, chemical contamination, etc.

Do you think your elected representatives took the opportunity to remind Mr. Hosseini that you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?

Or that, given the bargain basement price, perhaps the university should foot the clean-up costs?

Do you think they looked out for our interests at all?

No.  They didn’t.

But they damn sure made certain that Mr. Hosseini’s concerns were met.

According to the official minutes of the meeting, “Mr. Dinneen said if it turned out to be a problem, he would take the matter to the council.”   

So, Mori and ERAU walked out of the council chambers with our money – and our land – and now you and I are also stuck with the bill for environmental restoration that I have no doubt will be far more than the $10,000 to $15,000 Little Jimmy estimates.

You may remember he also said Hurricane Matthew debris would be collected in just 20-days – knowing that was physically impossible.

Let’s face it, Jim Dinneen has proven time-and-again that he is incapable of telling the truth.

In fact, he’s a baldfaced liar.

For instance, to make certain this slimy land deal comports with laws prohibiting just these types of quid pro quo transfers of public assets for private advantage; the resolution was constructed with the patently fraudulent verbiage, the “County owned real property is not needed for county purposes and required for public or community interest and welfare.”

Please don’t tell me that ERAU’s research park – the “Micaplex” – will benefit anyone’s “interest and welfare” other than Mori’s hand-selected business partners.

In my view, the evidence increasingly suggests that Mr. Hosseini is using the university as a conduit to access public funds – and Jim Dinneen is facilitating the con through sleight-of-hand and old fashioned mismanagement.

It’s painful to watch.

During the meeting, council member Pat Patterson all but prostrated himself before the Master and evoked his role as the county’s representative to “Team Volusia” – our government funded do-nothing “economic development” experiment – in supporting the public property giveaway.

With the timing of a Swiss watch, the half-priced sale of public land to a private entity was unanimously approved by the full council.

As though the outcome was ever in doubt.

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