Volusia County 2016: An Unforgiving Retrospective (Part 2)

August 2016

So, it’s our fault?

If I receive another arrogant lecture from a speculative developer scolding me and my neighbors because he can’t build an overpriced, high-rise theme hotel without copious amounts of tax dollars in the financing scheme – and a private beach – well, I’m going to vomit.

In August, we were collectively subjected to the whining and finger-pointing of the shamefaced Henry Wolfond, CEO of Bayshore Capital, who crowed, ad nauseum, over his failure to sprout the much-anticipated “Hard Rock Daytona” from the sand dunes.

The project was billed as the magic panacea to cure all the ills of east Volusia – and when it failed – the crash consumed more newsprint than the Hindenburg disaster.

The Overthrow of Mayor Clint Johnson

 In August, what I affectionately refer to as the “Debacle in DeBary” reached its nadir with the summary execution of the duly elected mayor, Clint Johnson, by his fellow elected officials on dubious charges that he violated certain provisions of the city’s charter.

If there was one bright spot (there wasn’t, but let’s pretend), the convoluted and incredibly expensive process used by the bureaucracy to protect itself from Mr. Johnson’s tough questions and red hot criticism exposed some very disturbing facets of what passes for governance in the City of DeBary.

The genesis of this cheap coup d’etat began months before when the now disgraced former city manager, Dan Parrott – I suspect in a panicky attempt to conceal his crimes and those of his toady’s in City Hall –  grasped at straws and came up with the idea of twisting a few of the Mayor’s more opinionated social media posts – coupled with a text message or two – into self-described “charter violations.”

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

What happened in DeBary is a travesty, and it will be talked about and analyzed far beyond the limits of this small town for years to come.

In the end, it will serve as a shining example of what happens when vengeful, small-minded politicians are left to their own dreadful devices.

We haven’t heard the last of this one, folks.

 September 2016

Corporate Welfare

Given Volusia County’s history of financially supporting speculative developers, private universities, retail outlets, various “business incubators,” and countless marketing and tourism boards – not to mention Forbes-listed billionaires – why wouldn’t our area be on the radar of every CEO seeking a corporate welfare check?

When you consider the tens of millions in tax dollars that have been diverted to private concerns in Volusia County – then search in vain for the public gain in core areas, such as East ISB, Midtown, the “E-Zone,” Main Street, etc. – one begins to ask the question, “Where is our return on investment?”

When you factor in the cash infusions, property tax abatement, tax increment financing, infrastructure, and innumerable other “economic incentives,” one can see how this artificial feeding of certain insider corporate interests can alter the natural balance of the regional marketplace.

In September, we asked the logical question – why do we do the same thing over-and-over while expecting a different result?

Because the right people are getting rich, that’s why.

October 2016

Hurricane Matthew – The Best We’ve Ever Seen

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, those big-headed shitgibbons on the Volusia County Council wasted no time in slapping each other’s back and congratulating their own performance.

As they tell it, we “dodged a bullet” – thanks to their smart planning and incredible leadership.


Using his patented “best/worst” spiel to full effect, county manager Jim Dinneen was quick to tell the media that the County’s response to the storm was, “The best effort he’s ever seen in his career.”

Double Bullshit.

Now, I have personal knowledge that Volusia County’s first responders did an outstanding job before, during and after the event.  However, many things about the Dinneen administration’s emergency response efforts were sorely lacking – starting with the timely dissemination of public information.

Little Jimmy might want to tone down his ‘best/worst” shtick.

There is a definite ‘Boy who Cried Wolf’ component to Mr. Dinneen’s public pronouncements that cannot be ignored.  In the aftermath of this natural disaster, we learned that residents prefer facts – not wild emotional speculation and self-aggrandizing tut-tutting from their elected and appointed officials.

A Call for Outside Intervention

In October, Barker’s View discussed the deepening divide at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – and Volusia County residents became members of the prestigious “Jack L. Hunt Society” of million-dollar benefactors – when the Volusia County Council made good on a demand by Mori Hosseini and ERAU Interim President Karen Holbrook for $1.5 million in our tax dollars.

Ostensibly, the money is needed to assist “struggling start-ups” at the new John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Complex – a multi-million-dollar taxpayer funded research and technology facility that will – to-date – house elements of aviation pioneers, such as, International Speedway Corporation, DuvaSawka medical billing, mega-law firm Cobb, Cole, FireSpring Fund, accountants James Moore and Company, Vann Data, and venture capital firm venVelo.

Wait.  These are all established local companies with little, if any, direct connection to the aerospace industry?  So why did we fund them with our tax dollars?

Where is Northrop, General Electric, or Boeing?

Apparently, these aerospace and technology giants are rapidly partnering with other colleges and research facilities that aren’t known as the personal fiefdom of Mortenza Hosseini.

Following a vote of no confidence by ERAU’s faculty senate against the Board of Trustees, as a benefactor of the prestigious university, I felt it important to roll-up my sleeves and lend a helping hand.

To that end, I called for an outside review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – the agency which accredits ERAU.

I’m still waiting. . .

November 2016

Daytona Tourism

Interestingly, the Halifax Area Advertising Authority – yet another tax-funded organization which duplicates the job of the Daytona Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority, and the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority, etc., etc. – has hired NASCAR doyen Danica Patrick to star in a series of digital media spots encouraging folks to come visit the Cousin Eddie of Florida vacation destinations.

The marketing theme?

“Forget what you thought you knew about Daytona Beach, because no matter what you’re into, this place is totally your speed.”

Wait a minute.  Forget what you thought you knew?

You read that right.

From the same bed-tax gobbling half-bright’s who brought you, “Seize the Daytona” – our new marketing hook is:  Blight?  Homelessness?  Crime?  Exorbitant beach tolls?  FUGGITABOUTIT!

No joke.

Lies and Damn Lies

In November, some nit-wit who ‘manages’ our county transportation system, Votran, which operates on $18.4 million in annual tax subsidies, announced that it would cost $400,000 to retool a bus line to serve the recently opened Tanger Outlet shopping mall.

In an interesting Op/Ed, Daytona Beach News-Journal Editor Pat Rice questioned the figure while rightly pointing out that with a new apartment complex (which ultimately received a bus stop), a proposed 3,400-unit housing development to the northwest, and the 900 new employees and thousands of shoppers traveling to Tanger daily – Votran might have considered some advanced planning a route analysis.

Not in Volusia County.

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

How about you and I make a pact not to take it anymore?

Deltona Politics

Saying that Deltona is a community in crisis is like saying the DeBary city council has a slight problem with situational ethics.

In my view, the growing shit-storm in Deltona best demonstrates that elected officials who propose legislation and “processes” that suppress our right to free speech, hamstring our ability to petition our government for redress of grievances, and erect barriers to elected officials who try to uncover government corruption and inefficiency – seriously underestimate the intelligence of their constituents.

Deltona has serious issues.  It also has some very smart watchdogs.

I am happy to report that the community has a core group of very bright, committed and inquisitive citizens – supported by Commissioners Soukup and Alcantara – who are actively monitoring and analyzing every move and sinister machination at City Hall.

My hat is off to them – and this one is going to be interesting to watch in 2017.

December 2016

The Screwing you get, for the Screwing you got 

We began the Christmas Season with the unsettling news that former Daytona Beach Assistant City Manager Gary Shimun is an accused whore monger with some serious character flaws.

Apparently this wasn’t the first time he attempted to screw someone over.

In the aftermath of this ugliness, a trusted Barker’s View contributor who has spoken out against racism, gender discrimination, and whistleblower retaliation by the City of Daytona Beach reported that Mr. Shimun was a principle on the personnel board that willfully denied a most deserving African-American candidate a management position with the city.

I also have it on good authority that our contributor recently received the go-ahead from the United States Equal Employment Opportunities Commission to sue the eyeballs out of the City of Daytona Beach in Federal court.

I’m told that lawsuit will be filed in January.

Trust that we will have more on this developing situation in the very near future.

Look, there’s so much more – One Daytona, Bio Tech Consulting, Enterprise Florida, the election, etc. – but you get the drift.

I recently read that the Merriam-Webster “Word of the Year” for 2016 is: “Surreal.”

I agree.

This has been a very interesting year – and you can bet we’re in for more of the same in the New Year.

You can also bet that I’ll be here at Barker’s View HQ – hunched over the ‘ol computer in my boxer’s – tilting at windmills – and stirring discontent among the power brokers, political insiders, and self-important assholes who pass for “leadership” in Volusia County.

Thanks for reading.  And all best wishes for a happy, healthy and most prosperous New Year!



Volusia County 2016: An Unforgiving Retrospective (Part 1)

Most of you have lives. You know, jobs and important activities that occupy your time and talents.

Pursuits that span beyond sitting at a computer in your boxer shorts, smoking cigarettes, pouring Rebel Yell in your coffee and brooding about local political corruption.

So, for those of you who want a condensed look back on the year that was – or a quick primer on the thorny issues we will face in 2017 – I’m putting my sedentary lifestyle to work for you.

Here’s my unadulterated retrospective on the year that was:

January 2016

Monument to the Mayor

We began the year with a look at the newly minted “Ritchey Plaza” – a sempiternal monument to former Daytona Beach mayor and founding member of the ‘in-crowd,’ Glenn Ritchey, which was built smack-dab in the smoldering remains of the once thriving Boardwalk – the epicenter of the now fading World’s Most Famous Beach.

With the scourge of crime, drugs, and unrestrained blight creeping in all directions, our own Daytona Royalty bestowed upon their long-suffering subjects this bright, shining opal – a park (?) resplendent with Adirondack chairs and eight (count ‘em) Royal Palm trees – strategically positioned around the bootlicking “I coughed up cash” plaques commemorating the largesse of the donor class.

In my view, the mega-wealthy camarilla that erected this shrine to their own self-importance in the center of what is left of our beachside should be ashamed of themselves.

But they aren’t.  The irony seems lost on them.

Trust me.  I’m the most ego-maniacal asshole you know, and this self-congratulatory bullshit made me blush.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

A bureaucracy, especially one as bloated as Volusia County, requires tax dollars like a parasitic insect needs the blood of its host.  It’s very life depends upon it.

In the summer of 2015, County Manager Jim Dinneen proposed levying a half-cent sales tax to pay for transportation infrastructure repair and replacement.  The process began with Little Jimmy’s usual hysterical hand-wringing, and claims that transportation funding would run dry if we didn’t collectively bend over and accept the increase.

In 2016, City leaders balked and the county council effectively tabled the initiative.

Or did they?

In Volusia County, no tax, once proposed, is ever really dead.

Look for this issue to rear its ugly head in 2017.

February 2016

Seize the Daytona

When masses of street people descended upon the county administration building on Beach Street, their disorganized, but effective, protest did far more than bring much-needed attention to the problem of chronic homelessness in the Halifax area.

It exposed the harsh realities that many didn’t know existed in local government, such as:

The ineffectiveness of what passes for “leadership.”

The lack of basic cooperation between the municipalities and Volusia County.

The fact that Jim Dinneen has little, if any, effective communication with senior constitutional officers on important issues.

And, most important, we saw the level to which our elected and appointed officials will sink when the pressure is on.

Enough is Never Enough

 Volusia County uses public funds to purchase “off beach parking” while simultaneously increasing tolls, removing beach access points, and establishing even more ‘traffic-free’ zones – then the county suggested charging residents and visitors for parking (up to $20 per day) at those very same off-beach lots and public parks.

The hits just keep on coming. . .

March 2016

Students or Victims? 

After months of wrangling, the Volusia County School Board settled the school uniform brouhaha in favor of a personal dress code for students.

So far, so good.  I guess.

In a far less publicized (but incredibly telling) move, the school board also voted to abandon the long-standing “pass to play” academic requirement for student athletes.

In keeping with the nationwide trend of “dumbing down” the academic process, Volusia overturned rules which held students who participate in organized sports accountable for maintaining passing grades.

When did raising the bar become a bad idea?

April 2016

Our Harvard of the Sky

In “Speaking Truth to Power” we examined the brewing unrest at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

In an open letter to students, faculty and alumni, some fifteen former members of ERAU student government artfully and courageously exposed the outsize influence of Mori Hosseini – Chairman of the Board of Trustees and High Panjandrum of Political Power.

We also learned for the first time that while he served as a member of the Board of Trustee’s, Hosseini-owned Intervest Construction took more than $1.5 million out of ERAU in “office space, utilities and aircraft charter services.”


In my view, this issue best exemplified – in microcosm – the detrimental impact the consolidation of political power can have on organizations, government, and our democratic process.

With a cobbled together search for ERAU’s new president underway, this issue is one to watch in 2017 – especially as Mr. Hosseini funnels even more of our tax dollars into his own private university.

The Debacle in DeBary

In April, we began the strange and terrible journey that would become known as “The Debacle in DeBary.”

Thanks to the Pulitzer-worthy reporting of the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Dinah Voyles-Pulver, we got our first glimpse of perhaps the most disturbing example of criminal arrogance to ever compromise a local municipal government.

And that’s saying something.

From the quid pro quo corruption of John Miklos to the public cashiering of the City’s duly elected mayor, this sordid affair reads like a Travis McGee novel.

I spent a lot of time on this issue in Barker’s View this year.  It has all the gritty elements of dysfunction, hubris and governmental corrosion; and serves as the ne plus ultra of petty greed and public corruption run amok.

Hold on.  This one is just getting started.

A Sad Day for Volusia County

In May 2016, I published what would become the most read post on Barker’s View.

It dealt with the frustrating aftermath of the 5th District Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold a lower court ruling in the Let Volusia Vote referendum question.

It read, in part:

“Interestingly, in most cases elected bodies welcome the referendum process.  It serves as a buffer, a political heat shield on controversial matters that periodically come before them.  In this case, our elected officials fought tooth-and-nail to retain “exclusive authority” over all matters related to the beach. 

What does that tell you?

When viewed from the perspective of a compromised Volusia County political system, one that has been bought and paid for by a few ultra-rich elites who throw huge sums of cash at select candidates through multiple, but individually controlled corporate entities, you get the impression that citizen input and opinion on matters related to our beach is neither wanted nor considered.  Simply put, you were out bid.

 There is an ill-wind blowing across the breadth of Volusia County and it carries the stench of political corruption.  And at this point, it seems the powers-that-be no longer try to hide it.”

Despite the heroic efforts of Sons of the Beach and other grassroots initiatives, I’m afraid the die has been cast in the beach driving debate.  The county council election drove a stake through its heart – and We, the People, lost.

Look for even more giveaways in 2017.

June 2016

Calling it what it is

June saw our first foray into the local election season when I joined with others in calling bullshit on a dubious mailer sent to Volusia voters by County Chairman-elect Ed Kelley, wherein he championed himself an advocate for “beach access.”

Apparently, Ed’s double-talk worked.

Smart people understand that when politicians use the term “access” when addressing beach driving, what they mean is the ability to schlep your belongings to the shore from an “off beach” parking area designated by your government and paid for with your tax dollars.

Now, I’ve vowed to give Mr. Kelley a fair chance to prove himself – because that’s the right thing to do.  But I’m not optimistic.

Time will tell.

July 2016

Support your Local Police

During the long, hot summer of 2016, we took up the social epidemic of vilifying law enforcement.

Tragically, we saw deadly assaults on police officers in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and elsewhere – along with raging street demonstrations and violent riots in cities across the United States.

In July, I was asked to contribute to the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s “Community Voices” column and took the opportunity to support our besieged officers who bravely hold the line between order and anarchy.

My remarks were met with a cowardly, self-serving attack by former Ormond Beach Police Chief Larry Mathieson – a self-styled “consultant” – who opined that my “bias” in supporting law enforcement while condemning inflammatory media speculation, incendiary rhetoric, and our complete lack of political leadership (factors which I believe have contributed to the demonization of police officers) “are at the core of the problems with race, policing and violence in this country.”

In my opinion, Larry Mathieson remains the worst excuse for a police administrator I have ever had the displeasure of knowing.  Just a spineless asshole, and a continuing embarrassment to a proud profession.

I’m glad I got the opportunity to let him know that.

Eating the Elephant

There are many barriers to the revitalization of Daytona’s Beachside – and despite all the enthusiastic, but ineffective, ‘rah-rah’ speeches of the Regional Chamber of Commerce – we always seem to end up right where we started:

A urine-stained, trash strewn, Square One.

Perhaps more frustrating is the fact that the City of Daytona Beach appears to have abandoned any effort at code enforcement, infrastructure improvement, or effective change in our core tourist area.

In fact, Daytona’s community redevelopment funds are being given away – literally – in increasingly bizarre land deals that see hundreds of thousands in public funds spent on properties worth far less.

And still no explanation from City Hall.

Thanks to the noble efforts of a few intrepid residents who are actively purchasing and restoring blighted properties in challenged areas, there is hope.

Whether the City of Daytona Beach will assist these fledgling efforts remains to be seen.

Tomorrow we continue our look back at the people and issues that defined 2016.

Please stay tuned.

Complete Transparency

I’m a stickler for transparency.  It’s what builds trust.

As we complete our first year together, I thought it important to bring you up-to-speed on the state of Barker’s View – and provide insight on my thoughts for the future of this forum.

After all, we’re in this together, and this blog is as much yours as it is mine.

On January 1, 2016, I took a leap of faith and developed Barker’s View on WordPress, an on-line publishing platform that allows citizen journalists – or simple blowhards like me – a means of disseminating information and editorial content to the world.

But to be effective, political commentary needs an audience.

On balance, if you write an opinion blog and no one reads it, well, it would be weird to continue.

That would be more like keeping a public diary than publishing a political perspective blog.  But that’s what this site is, really – a series of panicked essays chronicling my worst fears.

It is you, the reader, that makes it relevant.

An alternative opinion blog must also deliver topical content that provides a window beyond the spin and political posturing that drives our governments symbiotic relationship with the mainstream media.

I suppose that’s where I come in.

After serving over 30-years in municipal government, I know how the game is played.  It’s like being a magician – once you know how the tricks are performed, it all becomes variations on the same theme.

In addition, the opinions expressed on an editorial forum must be critically analyzed by others – preferably those whose lives are most influenced by the news and newsmakers of the day – not just people who are simply validating their own point-of-view.

I have learned that the Barker’s View audience is composed of deep thinkers.  The ‘watchers’ who remain focused on that which is important and are not easily distracted by government slight-of-hand.

People who are smart enough to realize that they have become disenfranchised, excluded, and marginalized by those who accept public funds to serve in the public interest.

Citizens who have come to the sobering realization that we are being fucked-over by a compromised system that only needs our money – not our participation.

Interestingly, my first Barker’s View post grew from the horror and frustration I felt over the Volusia County Council’s annual evaluation of county manager Jim Dinneen – a ridiculous exercise that naturally results in a generous bonus for his skillful channeling of our tax dollars in all the right directions.

In my view, Dinneen’s “pay raise” best exemplified all the dysfunction, insider influence and open cronyism that passes for governance in Volusia County, and I could no longer contain my outrage:

“Anyone who can read the printed word and think critically cannot help but be moved to uncontrolled rage by the Council’s continued pandering to a few wealthy and influential insiders, multi-million dollar giveaways, lawsuits against their own constituents, open bullying by the County Attorney’s office, our cartoon character of a Council Chair, the sheer arrogance of the County Manager, and the Council’s continued indifference to the needs and opinions of those they serve.”        

And everything I have written since has been a riff on that same unsettling theme.

But how has it been received?

To my complete astonishment, literally through word-of-mouth and the awesome power of social media, in the past twelve-months the performance of Barker’s View has been amazing:

I wrote 132 individual posts on everything from “The Debacle in DeBary” to beach access issues, from the unrest at Embry-Riddle, to the cancer of corporate welfare and beyond.

These essays typically run from 500 to 1300 words – which drew some much-appreciated constructive criticism in the formative days of the blog.

Some readers enjoyed the longer format – others said it was unreadable at lengths over 1200 words, and urged me to shorten the articles to build readership.  In the end, I decided to write about the issues as I see them – just leave it all on the page – and somewhere along the line, we reached a happy medium.

Unbelievably – in the past year, Barker’s View has had 49, 202 views by 32, 710 visitors!

Wow.  How incredibly humbling.

Interestingly, the post which performed best appeared May 11th, entitled, “A Sad Day for Volusia County.”  It was my frustrated attempt to make sense of the disappointing news that the 5th District Court of Appeal upheld a controversial lower court ruling on the Let Volusia Vote beach referendum question.

That single post garnered 2,430 views in just hours.


I think we can learn something from this level of interest in a local alternative opinion source here in Volusia County.  Perhaps, collectively, we can put that information to constructive use as we work together for positive change.

Where do we go from here?

Earlier this year, we expanded the Barker’s View format to a regular interactive radio program hosted by “GovStuff Live with Big John” on WELE 1380 – The Cat.

At 4:30pm on the second Monday of each month, we present topical issues and take phone calls to discuss your take on the news of the day.

Per my friend Big John, we are gaining an audience, and I couldn’t be having more fun!

Our presence on Twitter is expanding as well, and if you haven’t already, please follow at @barkersview.

In 2017, I have plans to produce a weekly podcast specifically tailored to politics and topical issues facing those who live, work, play and learn in Central Florida.  Stay tuned!

Just for fun, I have some Barker’s View bumper stickers (displayed above) on order – which I assure you will immediately improve the look of any vehicle upon which they appear – and we may even have some t-shirts and other swag available in the next few months.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to government access and public integrity organizations working hard to protect the citizens of Florida.

If you want one, please drop me a note – I sincerely appreciate your support!

As we close out this important first year, please know how much I appreciate each of you – the readers and contributors – who take time out of your busy day to read and comment on my convoluted thoughts.

I also want to thank the news-makers who write or call to take me to task, or express an opinion, and sometimes provide the occasional peek behind the scenes.

In my view, politicians who can accept criticism, even when its biting, and use it to better understand the mood of their constituents are practicing statesmanship at its best.

This exercise only works because of you – and I am forever grateful that you have returned purpose and passion in my life.

For now, let me end this humbling, but incredibly exciting, first year on two important words:

Thank You.


Merry Christmas from Barker’s View to you!

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

– Luke 2:4-14

Amen,  So let it Be!

May peace be with you and those you hold dear.

From the Barker family to yours, Merry Christmas and all best wishes for a happy, healthy and most prosperous 2017!

Mark & Patti

Hard lessons learned

We live in very interesting times.

This morning, we woke to breaking news that Daytona Beach Assistant City Manager Gary Shimun is the subject of a criminal investigation after he allegedly responded to an “escort” ad on one of those tawdry on-line sex-for-hire sites.

Preliminary reports indicate that Shimun contacted an undercover Sheriff’s deputy and sent her a series of salacious text messages, ultimately arranging a meeting to do the dirty deed.

Apparently, Shimun went so far as to meet with the deputy and display cash, before getting wise and coming to the stark realization that life, as he knew it, had just changed forever.

Two days later, Shimun submitted a letter of resignation to City Manager Jim Chisholm wherein he states, “…I have decided to take some time and re-evaluate my commitment to the profession and to take some time to just be of service to myself.  As you most assuredly understand, our line of work is very stressful, and sometimes it makes sense to just step away for a while.” 

 Wait a minute.  Isn’t servicing himself what got him in this mess in the first place?

(Bada-Bing!  I’m here all week, folks.  Try the veal!) 

Sorry.  It was a cheap shot, but someone had to say it.

Look, I’m not judging Mr. Shimun’s personal weaknesses, “stress level,” or peccadilloes; and if he wants to bang hookers while serving in a high-profile position, well, he undoubtedly knew the ramifications.

On a serious note, these things are never pretty – during my career I worked or commanded hundreds of vice suppression operations – several of which resulted in the arrest of public figures or people I knew personally.

Stopping sexual exploitation and human trafficking is noble – and difficult – work, and these operations are key to effective enforcement.   I applaud the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and the Daytona Beach Shores Department of Public Safety for their commendable efforts.

Perhaps from this personal tragedy the City of Daytona Beach can find someone to fill Mr. Shimun’s key community development role who will have a more positive effect on the challenges facing struggling areas of the city than he did.

Sad, really.

Now, let’s get to today’s rant, shall we?

During three-decades in government service, I learned a few things:

You can’t buy institutional knowledge of your water distribution system, any situation involving dogs, children or the elderly better have your undivided attention, and the restriction of public participation during open meetings is the first sign of an elected body in crisis.

This phenomenon takes several forms – requiring participants to sign-in or complete a form, moving “public participation” to the end of the meeting, turning off the video live feed, or just cutting speakers off in mid-sentence as Deltona Mayor John Masiarczyk recently did.

Regardless of the method employed, the message remains the same: “Zip it, John Q!  We don’t give a damn what you vassals have to say.”

To say that Deltona is a community in crisis is like saying the DeBary city council has a slight problem with situational ethics.

In recent months, Deltona has become terribly – and perhaps irreparably – fractured over a series of gaffes by City Manager Jane Shang, and her hired gun, City Attorney Becky Vose.

The rift became public when Commissioner Brian Soukup stood in the best interests of his constituents and asked pointed questions regarding Shang’s promotion of Deputy Fire Chief William Swisher.

Interestingly, Swisher’s promotion included a lucrative mid-career payout of accrued leave totaling some $93,000.00.

During the dust-up, Soukup openly accused Shang of lying by omission, claiming the bonus was higher than he had originally been told.

I have previously discussed the incredible power – and responsibility – that the City Manager holds in municipal government.  Under most charters, the chief executive has near carte blanche authority to hire, fire and administrate the day-to-day operations of the government.

However, the city manager has a duty to speak the truth to the elected body and ensure that pertinent information is provided equally to all council members.  The debate and adoption of reasonable public policy demands that each decision-maker have uniform facts upon which to form an educated opinion.

When that process breaks down, allegations of favoritism and bias can move with the ferocity of a wildfire, resulting in distrust and a toxic atmosphere at City Hall.

Trust me.  I’ve seen it happen.

Shang was appointed by the city commission in April of last year, and recently received the “City Manager of the Year” award by the Volusia League of Cities (a useless frat that ensures our elected and appointed government officials receive all the self-congratulatory awards and accolades they believe they deserve.)

Shang’s tenure has not been without controversy – and her gross mismanagement of several high-profile and extremely controversial issues has left the city in turmoil.

Most recently, City Attorney Vose took it upon herself to physically remove the hard drive from her city-issued computer and take it home with her.

Why?  Well, we don’t have the complete answer to that – or what she may or may not be trying to hide.

What we do know is that in a ham-handed attempt at CYA, Vose compounded her problems by independently spending public funds to engage outside counsel who opined (naturally) that the possible private manipulation of a public computer storage device was perfectly above board.

When the Information Technology Manager, Steven Narvaez – you know, the guy that is personally responsible for the integrity of Deltona’s database – realized that Vose had compromised system security, he notified his boss, who, in turn, contacted Shang.

That’s when things went south for the IT guy.

When Shang received a copy of Narvaez’ email detailing Vose’s digital shenanigans, suddenly Narvaez transformed from a technology manager to a disgruntled shitheel who should have been unceremoniously fired months ago.

Unfortunately, (for her), Shang has apparently been unable to produce any significant record of internal discipline or other solid evidence demonstrating a pattern of misconduct by Narvaez.

Naturally, this has prompted even more questions from members of the commission – and the public.

Now, rather than simply ventilating the issue in public, Mayor Masiarczyk wants to fundamentally change the way in which the City Commission operates.

If there is a bright spot in all of this, Deltona residents have true advocates in Commissioner Soukup, and newly elected member, Christopher Alcantara.

These two public servants are courageously changing an entrenched system of cronyism and outside influence in Deltona’s political process; while seeking hard answers to uncomfortable questions surrounding irregularities with city contracts and processes that I have no doubt we will hear much more about in the new year.

I agree with Mayor Masiarczyk, it is past time to change the utter dysfunction that has invaded Deltona government like an infectious plague.

I’m just not sure effectively gagging your constituents is the best way to do that.

By affecting positive change in the city’s senior management ranks – and allowing open and honest public participation in finding solutions to long-term problems – the community can begin the important process of rebuilding public trust in local government.


Daytona Beach: Separating the Political Elite

Someone needs to say what everyone else is thinking.

The City of Daytona Beach is grossly overreacting to potential threats against the elected elite by installing magnetometers, ballistic glass and other physical barriers to separate commissioners from those they serve.

They claim the measures are still under consideration; however, the metal detectors have been purchased and the staff trained on their use.

Trust me.  Daytona Beach City Hall is about to go on lock-down.

Have there been specific threats?  No.

Acts of violence?  An imminent public safety concern during public meetings?  No.

Has there been growing public sentiment, meeting-after-meeting, that the city’s administration and elected officials are acting contrary to the will of their constituents?

Vocal evidence that citizens are awakening to the fact that the city is effectively ruled by a few self-serving politicians and their uber-wealthy campaign financiers?


Look, there are reasonable and effective solutions to the difficult issue of securing public meetings.  Effective measures that provide sensible levels of protection, while respecting the all-important democratic elements of access and free speech.

Nobody wants to make security decisions in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy – I understand that.

Most government agencies have had contingency plans in place for years – and if the City of Daytona Beach doesn’t – why the hell not?

Perhaps an unobtrusive solution isn’t the motive here?

Perhaps the city commission has heard enough of our angry cries for change and would prefer to make it so onerous to enter and petition our government for redress of grievances that we simply give up and go away?

As usual, there are more questions than answers.

According to Commissioner Rob Gilliland, “It has never been as angry as it has been with a small group of people who have made very negative comments,” he said.

People are weird that way, Rob.  They feel like they’re getting the shaft, and the next thing you know, they go all “negative comment” on your ass.

Why is it that government officials never seem to understand that when they have an angry mob berating them from the podium, perhaps it’s time to listen and change tack?  

 These wild-eyed villagers with the metaphorical flaming pitchforks are their constituents – you know, the mass of unwashed citizens who took the time to listen to the campaign rhetoric and cast their vote – an act consecrated in the blood of those who fought for our freedom.

These are the very people who participated in our nation’s most sacred process, and elevated the elected members from the rank of common citizen to high office.

Our one request?  Put the collective needs of the community above your own, and serve honorably in the public interest.  

 Is that too much to ask?  Apparently.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Daytona Beach city commissioners are mere handmaidens of City Manager Jim Chisholm’s dysfunctional administration.  In the complete absence of leadership from Mayor Derrick Henry – or anyone else on the commission – the bumbling starts, stops and missteps are too frequent, and too similar, for smart people to not make the connection that the tail is wagging the dog.

Take the on-going public social punishment of our homeless population by city administrators.

Let’s face it, the city’s strategy to remove last winter’s homeless encampment from the county administration building on Beach Street ultimately took the form of a bizarre game of musical chairs.

We watched as the destitute were shuffled from the relative security of the Salvation Army, to subsidized rooms in Ridgewood Avenue motels, to social and religious support organization.

Finally, when the music stopped, those unfortunate souls who were left without a viable chair were unceremoniously dumped on a vacant piece of public land near Clyde Morris Boulevard and the Bellevue Extension.

(You know, right across the street from the property the Volusia County Council just sold to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for half – that’s right, half – it’s appraised value.  But I digress. . . or do I?)

The amenities:  A water spigot and two portable toilets.

The caveat:  The homeless are permitted to use the “safe zone” only between sunset and sunrise.

Now, from his warm office in a locked-down high-security area of Daytona Beach City Hall, City Attorney Bob Jagger put his feet up on his desk and handed down the edict that persons using the “safe zone” are not permitted to erect tents – you know, primitive shelter from the elements.

When area homeless advocate Mike Pastore began collecting funds for military-style tents and enlisting other support groups to assist with basic services at the city-designated safe zone, the city attorney’s office put aside their important work writing lucrative real estate contracts which would have us paying $826,000 for parcels worth a fraction of that, and launched into action, citing dubious liability concerns and ordinances prohibiting camping in public ‘parks.’

Hell, even Daytona’s “Community Relations Manager” (?) L. Ronald Durham originally gave the go-ahead – as any compassionate public official would – then did his best crawfish routine following a “brief meeting” with Mr. Chisholm.

How humiliating must that have been for someone who is quickly becoming the face of the homeless problem in Daytona Beach?

I guess Rev. Durham exceeded the limits of his authority.  Whatever that is.

But L. Ron quickly got on-board – once he was told what his official position on the matter would be – and explained to the community that, “We do not want to encourage a tent city.”

I guess an annual salary of $75,000 in public funds – plus full government employee benefits – will engender that kind of flexibility.

Even the hapless Mayor Henry weighed in, saying tents were “not the direction I’d like to head in as a city.”

Whatever that means.

Exactly what direction would you like to see the city take, Mr. Mayor?

Trust me.  The citizens of Daytona Beach would love to know what your plans are – because, I can assure you, another term of utter stagnation is unacceptable.

When you add the tragic mishandling of the homeless issue to the myriad other problems facing the long-suffering citizens of this community, you get a better understanding of why people are outraged by the ineffective bureaucracy that has become Daytona Beach government.

Instead of listening to the very real concerns of their constituents, Mr. Chisholm and company play games – turning off the video feed during public participation and marginalizing citizen concerns as self-aggrandizing rants.

Perhaps the most illuminating comment on the matter came from the great legal mind of City Attorney Jagger, who said, while he’s not aware of any security threat which would require the use of metal detectors, in his view the city is “fully within its rights to put up the machines.”

“Entry is still voluntary,” he said.  “People can choose not to enter.”

Still think the political elite want your participation in their government?

The Age of Hide and Seek

“Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of regular government.”

— Jeremy Bentham

It is no secret that Florida’s government agencies have a serious spending problem.

We know it.  And they know it.  So why try to hide it?

History tells us that no good comes when unsupervised government employees – and their friends – are permitted unfettered access to the public trough.

Take, for instance, the news out of Tallahassee last week when something called “Visit Florida” – yet another tax funded marketing agency which received some $78-million in public funds last year alone – attempted to cover their tracks with a disturbing new trend.

It seems Visit Florida administrators placed a “confidentiality clause” in a contract with the artist Pit Bull – an agreement that paid the performer $1-million in our tax dollars for a series of goofy activities promoting Florida beaches and hotels.

A lawsuit filed by Florida lawmakers found that the ‘proprietary information’ contained in the confidentiality agreement was no more than a breakdown of prices for services performed by the entertainer.

It also found that there were no performance metrics to measure our potential return on investment.

On Friday, another tax-funded private/public state agency – Space Florida – reaffirmed a $1-million-dollar line of credit for an unnamed company operating under the mysterious visage, “Project Ice.”

Typical of agencies in the Scott administration, a recent audit of Space Florida found a need for additional “accountability and efficiency” – and called for further review of the agency’s “unique funding mechanisms.”

The cover-up is always worse than the crime.

Sound familiar?

This summer, I filed a formal public records request with the City of DeBary seeking a copy of a non-disclosure agreement between Roger Van Auker and an “unnamed developer” whose existence has been discussed in hushed tones at several public meetings.

Given the fact that the city’s ‘transit oriented development’ as originally envisioned has been effectively halted with the transfer of the Gemini Springs Annex to the County of Volusia, I was certain that the confidentiality agreement would be considered null and void at this point.


I received a missive from DeBary’s Public Records Manager, Eric Frankton, who assured me that – while there was no “secret developer” for the disputed 102-acres (his words, not mine) – the city attorney determined that the agreement remains exempt and I am not entitled to it under Florida’s Public Records law.

Now, I didn’t want argue with Eric – he’s a very sensitive guy – but isn’t the fact that the identity of the land developer is being held confidential the textbook definition of a “secret developer”?

My simple request was followed-up by yet another legal opinion, from yet another DeBary contract attorney, who went into detail regarding why I wouldn’t be receiving the information requested under Florida’s open records law.

Who knows what that cost the good citizens of DeBary.

(And people wonder why the city’s corpse is being picked clean by these vultures?)

At the end of the day, this level of concealment and skulduggery told me all I needed to know:

The City of DeBary is doing business with someone they don’t want you to know about.  Just pay the bills and shut the fuck up, little man.   

They think it keeps us from connecting the dots – but ultimately, it best exposes these shitheels for what they truly are.

Last Thursday, before our new elected representatives could be seated, the Volusia County Council took the first steps to develop a 300-acre parcel of public property at Daytona International Airport – a project that will ultimately cost us tens-of-millions to again benefit a few well-positioned insiders.

Apparently, all we need to start our latest panacea project is a county-funded $400,000 engineering study.

Oh, and $10-million for construction.

To that end, last week the county council requested state funds, putting the development costs on its legislative priorities list for 2017.

In a recent article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, we learned that this incredible urgency to spend, spend, spend comes from the county’s continuing exuberance over the “imminent arrival” of Embry-Riddle’s research park – the Micaplex – which, to-date, has limited commitments from a handful of incestuous local companies who have absolutely no connection whatsoever to the aerospace industry.

According to Mr. Karl, “There’s momentum, there have already been businesses interested in that property.”

“We’ve had two confidential prospects this year alone.”

Here we go.

In typical fashion, County Manager Jim Dinneen began prepping us with all the subtlety of the night before a colonoscopy with his usual over-the-top enthusiasm for gifting public money to private interests with a profit motive.

“It’s the kind of jobs the state is looking for,” Dinneen said. “We are talking high-tech jobs.”

Not just jobs.  High-tech jobs.

He added, “If you’re late to the party, there ain’t no party.”

I’m not sure what that means.  But I suspect our tax dollars will be the only thing that ultimately gets invited to Little Jimmy’s soiree.

If history has taught me anything, it’s this:

When government tries to rush something past the taxpayer – with dubious claims of ‘jobs’ and ‘strike while the iron is hot’ urgency – we are about to get screwed.


In this new era of state and local government secrecy, you are expected to take the foxes word for the security of the hen house.

Again, Jim Dinneen sets the rules – and our elected officials roll over and piss on themselves like a nervous cur.

Hold on, kids – 2017 is shaping up to be quite a year.










Volusia Politics: The Final F-You. . .

Like water, anger and frustration cannot be compressed.

These forces are incredibly strong, but when properly focused – like in hydraulic systems – negative emotions can be used to affect positive change.  However, if allowed to reach critical pressures, these feelings will eventually cause irreparable damage to your health and mental stability.

These corrosive feelings begin when you discover entrenched issues that have a direct impact on your family, your livelihood, and the greater community – yet, you feel helpless to intervene.

In Volusia County, this feeling of vulnerability is becoming more prevalent as taxpayers realize that our core needs are being ignored in favor of the wants of an influential few.

People are awakening to the fact we are ruled by a bastardized system that rewards mediocrity and fiscal irresponsibility, so long as the right people are allowed open access to the public teat.

Please understand, the ‘system’ is specifically designed for self-protection and perpetuation.

Like a cancer cell, county government rapidly adapts to threats to the status quo.  That process includes marginalizing opposition, suppressing dissent, and rewarding incompetent enablers all while feeding voraciously on its long-suffering host.

If you read Barker’s View, you are obviously a thinking person.

I’m not blowing smoke up your ass.

People who reason critically and view the world around them with an analytic eye tend to read and evaluate differing points-of-view – including alternative opinions that are counter to official political posturing.

If you do this regularly, the exercise reveals that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Last week saw the final goodbyes of Volusia County Chairman Jason Davis and council members Doug Daniels and Josh Wagner.

Look, I didn’t always agree with Mr. Daniel’s politics – and he pissed me off more than once during the beach driving wars – but I always felt his heart was pure and I believe he worked hard in the public interest.

Plus, he has that snarky sense of humor I like.  He never took himself too seriously.

In keeping with the professionalism he demonstrated during his tenure, Mr. Daniels did not attend the ‘Theater of the Absurd’ that was this council’s final meeting.

Too bad Wagner and Davis didn’t show the same class.

After distributing various parting gifts – and playing a self-aggrandized ‘video montage’ prepared (no doubt) at our expense by county staff – Mr. Wagner breached the decorum of the council chambers and confirmed his narcissistic “look at me” obsession when he brought out a guitar and forced his family to join him in a butchered version the Billy Joel standard “We didn’t start the fire.”


Seriously.  It was weird.

Don’t take my word for it, go watch it on YouTube – just know that it’s a minute-and-a-half of your life you’ll never get back.

If there is a positive – Josh Wagner, the poster boy for term limits and perhaps the most openly crooked politician to ever grace the local stage – is out-of-office.  I hope he enjoys his new beachfront home as much as I enjoy the fact he no longer directs public funds.

Unfortunately, two bright spots in county government – Sheriff Ben Johnson and Property Appraiser Morgan Gilreath – are also departing after many years of exemplary service to the citizens of Volusia County.  I’m truly sorry that the public send-off for these good and faithful public servants was lumped in with the likes of Josh Wagner and that cartoon character, Jason Davis.

It didn’t seem right to me.

I hope that their families and respective organizations hold more intimate retirement commemorations for Sheriff Johnson and Mr. Gilreath.  Their service deserves better.

After Wagner’s over-the-top, maggot-gagging hoopla was complete, the sitting members of the council “evaluated” the respective performance of County Manager Jim Dinneen and County Attorney Dan Eckert.

In their last sloppy “Fuck you” to the good citizens of Volusia County – perhaps the most dysfunctional and ineffective county council ever to convene – voted to give Dinneen and Eckert 3% pay raises.


This brings ‘Mean Little’ Jimmy Dinneen’s total compensation package to approximately $375,000 annually.

You read that right.  $375,000.00.

I encourage everyone to play a little game.  Go on-line and research where Dinneen’s base salary – $241,793 – compares with other public administrators around the nation.

It’s fun.  Go on, give it a try.

Start with the Vice President of the United States ($230,700) and end with the Mayor of New York City ($225,000).

Don’t forget, the national average for a government chief executive is about $190,000.

The very first blog post I brought to this forum appeared January 1, 2016.  It was entitled, “Really?”

In that first crude attempt to bring you my jaundiced opinion on the issues and newsmakers of the day, I wrote in disgust how the Volusia County council ignored reality and gifted Dinneen and Eckert with pay raises.

Now, just one-year later, here we are back at square one.


In what has become a mere formality, prior to gobbling up his $7,000.00 compounding treat like a trained seal catching a sardine, Mr. Dinneen rattled off a laundry list of rehashed “accomplishments” (interestingly, these were the same dubious ‘achievements’ that every other government or taxpayer funded organization in the county has taken credit for this year).

During the Dinneen/Eckert love-fest, Delusional Deb Deny’s cooed, “We are good hands legally, we are in good hands with management and we are in good shape financially.”

 With the exception, you can’t fund infrastructure repairs and replacement without a tax increase.

With the exception, you can’t find a compassionate solution to the homeless problem.

With the exception, you have a toxic relationship with literally every municipality in the county.

With the exception, you continue to throw massive amounts of public funds at private interests with no expectation of a return on investment.

With the exception, you – oh, the hell with it.  You get the gist.

I guess Deb doesn’t frequent the same parts of Volusia County that I do. . .

After ensuring a very Merry Christmas for Mr. Dinneen, the council turned their generous affection toward County Attorney Dan Eckert, who spent most of the past year suing his own constituents.

Yep.  Dan got 3% – bringing his annual salary to $211,951.00.

Rather than caution Mr. Eckert to stop abusing his authority, drop the extended lawsuits and appeals against grassroots community organizations, or quit serving as a high-paid thug every time the county council feels the need to punish a dissenting voice – our own Pat “Sleepy Time” Patterson took his one opportunity for an honest performance evaluation to suggest Mr. Eckert wear blue jeans on ‘Casual Friday.’

I used to laugh when our elected leadership said shit like that – but I don’t anymore.

In perhaps the best analogy of the day, our goofy comic strip caricature, Jason Davis, showed those assembled in the council chambers his own farewell video:  Fittingly, it was a horse’s ass riding off into the sunset.

And I’m not talking about his mount.

Good riddance – and thanks for nothing.

Stupidity deserves no sympathy.






Debacle in DeBary: Tidying up the mess

“In an age that is utterly corrupt, it is best to do as others do.”

Marquis de Sade—

Misuse of Public Position

Public officers and employees, and local government attorneys are prohibited from corruptly using or attempting to use their official positions or the resources thereof to obtain a special privilege or benefit for themselves or others. [Sec. 112.313(6), Fla. Stat.]

Conflicting Employment or Contractual Relationship

A public officer or employee is prohibited from holding any employment or contract with any business entity or agency regulated by or doing business with his or her public agency. [Sec. 112.313(7), Fla. Stat.]

A public officer or employee also is prohibited from holding any employment or having a contractual relationship which will pose a frequently recurring conflict between the official’s private interests and public duties or which will impede the full and faithful discharge of the official’s public duties. [Sec. 112.313(7), Fla. Stat.]

When we ignore the rule of law, we undermine the very foundation of our society.

While the twisting and crowing of lawyers might muddy the water, it can’t change that fundamental fact.

As you may have heard, last week the Florida Commission on Ethics – meeting behind closed doors – ignored the findings of their independent investigator, blocked any opportunity for an administrative hearing, and acquitted John Miklos on charges that he used his appointment as chairman of the St. John’s River Water Management District’s governing board for personal gain.

The Ethics Commission previously authorized an investigation into a citizen’s compelling allegations of official misconduct by Governor Rick Scott’s handpicked appointee to the powerful regulatory board when convincing evidence surfaced that Miklos was personally being paid to influence the very agency he oversees.

Ultimately, the investigation found probable cause that Chairman Miklos violated state ethics laws while working for the city of DeBary.

Now, you don’t have to be Elliott Ness to deduce that Long John Miklos has made a cottage industry out of lobbying the St. John’s River Water Management District on behalf of clients of Bio-Tech Consultants – a company he personally owns and operates.

It’s not enough that Miklos sets the table by exerting his powerful influence among SJRWMD staffers and administrators, then steps aside should the matter come to a vote of the governing board.  In my view, his very presence in support of permit applications, or other regulatory actions, constitutes excessive and corrosive pressure that cannot be ignored.

This is especially true after Governor Scott and Miklos physically gutted anything resembling an environmental regulator from the district offices, and replaced them with a puppet administrator and compliant staff who understand which side their bread is buttered on.

And the Commission on Ethics damn well knows that.

During the hearing, Ethics Commission Chairman Matthew Carlucci and member Michael Cox (two of only three commissioners on the nine-member board who aren’t attorney’s) logically suggested, “If you are routinely making a living doing certain projects that eventually will go to certain boards for approval, then you might not want to take a position on that board.”

Instead, Miklos, “took a position on the board knowing full-well” the type of work his company engaged in could lead to potential conflicts.

Unfortunately, influential member – and DeBary resident – Tom Freeman (a retired circuit court judge and real estate attorney) who apparently acts as something of a legal Pied Piper for his fellow commission members, opined that “There’s no way in the world that you have enough facts or a firm foundation to find that he violated the ethics of Florida and we should in manner of justice find that there’s no probable cause for going forward and prosecuting under the ethics laws of Florida.”

 You mean other than the fact your own investigator testified that he found probable cause to prosecute Miklos?

 You mean other than the fact Miklos routinely accepts $155.00 per hour to personally influence the decisions of the very regulatory agency he oversees?

Per Judge Freeman, “The matter at this point is pure conjecture.  The issue was never submitted to the St. Johns River Water Management District for approval.  He never took a position and voted on it.”

You mean other than the fact that earlier this year Miklos represented the district at a meeting with DeBary officials and water district staff – while in the paid employ of the city of DeBary?

My God.

This is the same screwy reasoning that routinely saw Judge Freeman ranked at the bottom of the barrel by his judicial contemporaries in the 18th Circuit.

In a 2001 poll by the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, he ranked 37th out of 38 judges.

His lowest marks came in the important categories of legal knowledge and freedom from bias.

That same year, the Florida Department of Children and Families asked the 5th District Court of Appeal to remove Freeman from all cases involving domestic violence, due to his perceived bias.

Freeman responded by withdrawing from all child-abuse and neglect cases.

In addition, a Central Florida domestic violence support organization, Families Against Abuse, felt that, based upon Judge Freeman’s actions on the bench, he “didn’t believe in batterers intervention or any help for men” who engage in spousal abuse.

In one of Freeman’s most controversial decisions, he ordered the release of suspected murderer Michael Stoll on $100,000 bail – without setting any conditions.  Freeman said Stoll had been sitting in jail too long, and that state law allows a judge to set bail if the evidence of guilt is weak.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Freeman said, “They haven’t brought him to trial in two years. I reviewed the proof (of first-degree murder), and I felt the man deserved bail.”

Prosecutors were shocked.

Despite Judge Freeman’s pre-trial assessment of the evidence in the local media, Stoll was later convicted of brutally killing his wife with the help of an employee of his carpet business.

He was sentenced to life in prison.

The apparent motive?  Stoll was angry over a previous arrest for domestic violence and child abuse.

In my view, Freeman showed his political pliability by switching parties – at least three times – in keeping with the sitting governor’s party affiliation.

He retired from the bench in 2003.

Now, Judge Freeman brings this same loyalty and commitment to protecting the public interest to the Florida Commission on Ethics.

Did I mention he lives in the city of DeBary?  I thought I did.

No potential for conflict there, I guess. . .

Folks, I’ve said it before, we live in the most corrupt state in the union, and cockamamie decisions by the very tribunal charged with protecting us from government buggery – findings that fly in the face of reason and explicitly reverse the conclusions of professional investigators to thwart an independent finding of fact – is prima facie evidence that We, the People, are screwed.

In my view, John Miklos epitomizes the worst-of-the-worst – a leech who preys on the very constituency he is sworn to protect – and those who can do something about it have been exposed as cheap enablers and appointed fixers.

By suspending logic and reality, Miklos’ attorney, “Bucky” Miller, convinced the commission that the city of DeBary did not provide compensation under the Bio-Tech contract with the hope that it would influence Mr. Miklos’ official action as chairman of the district’s governing board.


Instead, Bucky argued – with a straight face – that Bio-Tech was hired because of Miklos’ “long-term business relationships with Matt Boerger, the city’s growth management director, and David Hamstra, the city’s engineering consultant.”

Long-term business relationship?  I’ll bet.

If I’m not mistaken, didn’t DeBary’s duly elected mayor, Clint Johnson, attempt to tell anyone who would listen just the opposite?

Prior to his political lynching by the ‘fraudulent four’ of the DeBary City Council, didn’t Mayor Johnson assure us that the city wouldn’t be moving forward with the Gemini annex land deal without assurances from Bio-Tech that it could get the required approvals from the St. John’s River Water Management District?

Hell, didn’t DeBary’s Transit Oriented Development Director, Roger Van Auker, all but tell us the same thing?

Yes, I’m sure I remember that.

Now, Clint Johnson has been summarily executed by those still clinging to power – and John Miklos has been exonerated of his crimes.

How clean.

What we don’t know, won’t hurt us. . .














Volusia Politics: Piss Poor Planning = Problems

Whoever said reason and common sense problem-solving ever factored into Volusia County government operations?

In an excellent piece in this morning’s Daytona Beach News-Journal, reporter Dustin Wyatt lays out the quintessential example of why Tanger Outlets need Votran bus service – then deftly steps back and exposes the base ignorance of our so-called political leadership and their open abdication of an important civic responsibility.

In the process, we get a fleeting glimpse into the continuing mismanagement and utter dysfunction that remains the very hallmark of County Manager Jim Dinneen’s tenure.

As the story goes, Mr. Wyatt introduces us to a young lady who works at a sandwich shop in the Tanger complex.  She relies exclusively on public transportation.  We also meet her frustrated store manager, who has taken to driving his employees to-and-from work to ensure timely continuity of operations at his establishment in the absence of bus service.

Understand, this story is not unique – the Halifax area is chock-full of strapped individuals struggling to make ends meet in a service-based economy.

The vicious cycle includes safe housing options that remain just out of reach, a lack of reliable personal transportation, child care concerns, and a precious few opportunities for steady employment that would help to alleviate the other parts of the equation.

Anytime our local government officials set their sights on corporate giveaways, the justification always involves job creation.


In my view, these retail jobs are a mere unintended consequence of throwing huge sums of public money to well-connected insiders, who now factor tax dollars into any speculative project that catches their eye.

As proof that they could care less, even when we succeed in attracting jobs, our elected and appointed officials refuse to provide even basic support services – like public transportation.

In the case of Tanger Outlets, we gifted the developers $4.5 million in public funds split between Volusia County and the City of Daytona Beach.  These “economic incentives” were earmarked for infrastructure costs.

That’s right – $4.5 million dollars of our money – and not one discussion regarding the public transportation needs of this crucial east Volusia job center.

Not one.

Apparently, rather than budget for additional bus service to Tanger Outlets and the nearby Trader Joe’s distribution center, Mr. Dinneen’s strategic plan was to put the arm on the City of Daytona Beach to fund the route.

I recently came into possession of some interesting internal county communications wherein Votran general manager Steve Sherrer confirms that Jim Dinneen directed him to write Daytona regarding the cost of extending bus service.

Responding to a question from an elected official as to why he would contact the City of Daytona Beach in the absence of any interlocal agreement requiring municipal transportation funding – or county council authorization – Sherrer explains:

“In June of 2015 the County Manager directed me to reach out to the city of Daytona Beach to ascertain the level of interest in having transit service at the Tanger complex.  This outreach was directed as it was assumed there was a level of expectation that service would be provided.  However, there was no official request for service from Tanger or the city of Daytona Beach.  As you saw, the city of Daytona Beach was not interested in funding transit to the site.  Nor has Tanger reached out to Votran or the County to discuss their expectation of public transportation service to their mall.  The manager directed me to explore this with the city in order to see if there might be other resources available to assist in funding new service outside the general fund of the county.”

 Wow.  Sherrer was quick to put his boss under the bus (pun intended).

 Just for the record – and at the risk of tooting the Barker’s View kazoo – this email confirms my previous assertion that this entire homegrown problem was yet another money-grab by Jim Dinneen.

Tragically, Mr. Sherrer would have us believe that Votran conducts evaluations three times each year to see if routes need to be adjusted based upon ridership.  Yet, by their own admission, two rarely used stops on LPGA Boulevard still have routine service.

So close, yet so far.

Interestingly, neither Sherrer – nor anyone else at Votran – has adequately explained their initial scare tactic that adding a stop at Tanger/Trader Joe’s would cost $400,000.

However, in an internal email on the subject, Mr. Sherrer finally admits that routes could be modified to provide a “no-cost option” to serve Tanger.

Unfortunately, he also quibbles that the option would require the elimination of several high ridership locations within those routes so the buses will stay on-time – and claims that the hours of operation would not coincide with those of the outlet mall.

Let’s see – it’s possible to provide service if Daytona Beach pays for it – but absolutely impossible otherwise.

Hum. . .

Sounds like a government manager trying to cover his well-paid ass to me.

But that is standard operating procedure in the Dinneen administration – a cabal of pathological liars enabled by ineffectual elected officials and their uber-rich beneficiaries.

Look, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but something tells me that a competent public transportation official – you know, like a smart guy who is paid to serve as the general manager of Votran – could sit down and figure out how to incorporate a quick stop in an area that employs some 1,400 area residents.

Maybe not.  But without even discussing the issue, how will we know?

In perhaps the best example of outgoing County Chair Jason Davis’ monumental stupidity, he said:

“The budget is already done. It isn’t going to happen until next year,” he said. “How much of a call is there for a Votran bus to go to the Tanger mall? Is there a lot of people who even want to do this? Those who are buying Polo and Louis Vuitton handbags … are those the people that need to ride the bus?”

No, dipshit.  The people who work there do.

We’re gonna miss his intellect and grasp of the issues around here. . .

Perhaps the only elected official on the dais who understands the importance of transportation forecasting and transit management when considering taxpayer funded projects is Councilman Doug Daniels.

He said the county should have planned for bus service before Tanger arrived. “It’s not fair, it’s not reasonable, it makes no sense and shows a serious lack of planning.”

He’s right.

Unfortunately, unless our newly elected County Chair Ed Kelley and the other cartoon characters on the council are willing to terminate Dinneen’s services immediately – you can expect the same abject incompetence in 2017.