Volusia Politics: Lies and Damn Lies

The Chinese zodiac calendar tells us 2017 is the year of the Rooster – a period of righteousness, justice and logical efficiency.

Rooster years are dominated by the Fire element, and the presence of a predominant element governing the annual cycle is never seen as the best of omens.

But it marks the year in which I will no longer accept being lied to by those who are elected and appointed to represent my interests.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of living outside the circle.  The one who oils the machine of local, state and federal politics with my tax dollars – only to be openly deceived by the “system.”

In 2016, the American people learned that once trusted institutions – such as our national media networks – were openly lying to us when reporting the “news” of the day.

Once venerated outlets, such as the New York Times, have admitted to “false balance” and outright lies in their coverage of this year’s election.

It turns out the elegant Gray Lady is a cheap whore, and last week the publisher promised to “rededicate” the newspaper to honest reporting in the future.  As though we are supposed to forgive and forget the biggest journalistic fraud in the history of the free world.

The sudden realization that organizations and traditions we once accepted as the truth were no more than half-baked façades raised chilling questions.  We soon learned that the political elite on both sides of the spectrum were manufacturing the record, so much so that we needed “Truth o’ Meters” to sort the wheat from the chaff – and even the “fact checkers” were wrong.

Now, we feel like victims of a carnival scam.

Let’s face it – we are rubes, screwed by sophisticated grifters who have lost any semblance of integrity and laugh in our face as they line their pockets with our hard-earned tax dollars and shit on everything we hold dear.

For instance, while collectively traumatized by the effects of a Category Three hurricane – our County Manager, Jim Dinneen, tells us that the mountains of debris lining our streets will be cleaned-up in just twenty short days.

Understand, Mr. Dinneen had no basis for his feel-good prognostication.  He just pulled it out of his ass – a quick answer to the media with a fabricated time-frame that got the people off his back for a few more weeks.

Rather than calm our fears, Little Jimmy simply exacerbated our growing frustration as his arbitrary promise came-and-went, leaving many still dealing with the stinking piles of rotting vegetation at the curb.

Last week, some twit who “manages” our county transportation system, Votran – which operates on $18.4 million in annual tax subsidies – would have us believe that it will cost $400,000 to retool a bus line to serve the recently opened Tanger Outlet shopping mall.

In an interesting Sunday op/ed by Daytona Beach News-Journal editor, Pat Rice; he questioned the figure while rightly pointing out that –  with a new apartment community located northeast of Tanger, a proposed 3,400-unit housing development to the northwest, and the 900 new employees and thousands of shoppers traveling to the mall daily – Votran might have considered some advanced planning and route analysis.

Not in Volusia County.

Here, incompetence rises like curdled cream and time-honored organizational management practices like accountability and responsibility are abhorred.

I have decided that I’m not going to take it anymore.

As a taxpayer, I have a right to expect that those who are elected to represent our collective interests will tell the truth on important issues facing our community.  We also have a right to expect that when elected and appointed officials tell us bullshit falsehoods – and use thinly veiled scams to siphon-off our tax dollars to private interests – that they will be held accountable for their actions like the cheap sneak thieves they are.

Is that too much to expect?

Apparently.

In Volusia County, we have come to understand that a few uber-wealthy political insiders control Halifax area commerce and politics through a not so sophisticated system of co-opting our elected officials with enormous campaign contributions – then take massive returns on investment in the form of tax incentives, “economic development” funds and bargain basement prices on the purchase of public lands.

Add to that the dubious “agriculture” and other tax exemptions on the vast landholdings of certain companies and individuals, the arbitrary granting of traffic-free beaches, or the gifting of unrestrained density and height allowances for projects years in advance and you begin to understand the depth of the problem.

While everyone may be equal – in Volusia County, some are more equal than others.

Rather than hold these mega-donors at arm’s length and work in the best interests of their constituents, our elected officials never miss a chance to goo-goo over their masters and prostrate themselves like the caviling sycophants they are.

Don’t take my word for it, just watch re-runs of any county council meeting visited by J. Hyatt Brown.

Recently, the High Potentate of Volusia County, Mr. Mori Hosseini, was recognized with the “2016 Outstanding Philanthropist” award by something called the Volusia/Flagler Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not knocking this special recognition – I’m positive the Hossieni’s personal and corporate giving is infinitely more than my own.

But what about the taxpayers of Volusia County?

Where’s the gratitude and fancy luncheons?

Where’s the cooing and over-the-top fussing whenever we walk into the council chambers?

I guarantee no single group of people contribute more in corporate welfare and outright cash giveaways than the long-suffering citizens of Volusia County.

Under the current “economic development” scheme, We, the People, have financed – or at least mitigated the financial risk – on every project from Ocean Walk to One Daytona and Tanger Outlets, etc., etc.

We recently handed an untested social service agency over $5-million in taxpayer dollars and transferred public property – no questions asked – for a homeless service facility in the heart of the challenged Derbyshire neighborhood.

In September, you and I became honored members of the Jack R. Hunt Society at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University through our generous $1.5 million cash infusion – not to mention the county council’s sale of public property to ERAU – a private entity – for half the parcel’s appraised valued.

Half.

I hope you’ll join me in rejecting the dishonesty of those who accept public funds to perform a service in the public interest in the new year.

We deserve better.

 

 

 

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