Volusia Politics: Rewarding Mediocrity

Have you noticed that everyone who is anyone in the Halifax area is getting an award this season?

Hey, don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy a good tribute to my own self-importance as much as the next guy.

Heck, I’ve got a whole “I Love Me” wall at Barker’s View HQ.

It’s anchored by the things I am most proud of, my Honorable Discharge at one end – and Nola’s graduation certificate from “Puppy School” at the other.

(Unfortunately, she couldn’t walk with her class after a disastrous misstep on the “Sit/Stay” test.  God bless her, she tried.  Eventually, Nola gave a reasonable showing and she was granted her sheepskin, minus honors. . .)

I think she holds a grudge, though.

Every time we go to Pet Smart, she has a bowel movement – half her body weight – near the Puppy School campus.  Every time.

Letting them know what she thinks of their dubious ‘academic standards’ I guess.

Nola lives the opulent life of Queen Nefertiti – spoiled in every respect – but she’s a Holly Hill Cur at heart.  And you know the saying, “You can take the girl out of Holly Hill, but you can’t take the Holly Hill out of the girl.”

I love her to death.

Nola Mae

Look, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but when the awards season comes to an end – you and I won’t be standing atop the podium, rubbing shoulders and slapping backs with the muckety-mucks.

So, don’t look for your name to be called when the illustrious “J. Saxton Lloyd Distinguished Community Service Award” or the coveted “Lou Fuchs Outstanding Leadership Award” is bestowed.  (I’m pretty sure Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Fuchs would be mortified if they could see the condition of the community they helped build.) 

No.  All we’re getting is another shit sandwich.

Just shut up and know your role, John Q.

But don’t get discouraged.  The point is that those who think they so richly deserve these accolades (mainly the rich) are actively working to make our lives infinitely better by encouraging our elected officials to give away our tax dollars to their uber-wealthy corporate friends who promise to create “good jobs” in Volusia County.

Hooray for us?  I guess.

Why, just last week I read where those election-rigging Russians are going to solve all our woes with a brand-new skyscraper of a hotel/conference center that will stand out like a huge shining Opal in the squalid dumpster fire that is our beachside.

We’ll all be swimming in it (not the pool, that’s for guests) – and relishing our new ‘hospitality jobs’ cleaning motel rooms, parking cars and tidying up the landscaping.

Milk and Honey, baby.

I sure hope so.

In the meantime, our power-elite are busying themselves passing around the same self-aggrandizing honors at high-end banquets and “public/private” galas.

And one things for sure – they don’t want We, the People, anywhere near them.

They only need us to pick-up the bill when it arrives – that’s what “public/private” means.

I recently read where the well-to-do Old Guard of the Civic League of the Halifax Area honored Glenn Ritchey, Peter Heebner and Dr. P.T. “Bud” Fleuchaus for their recent work on the Volusia County Charter Review Committee.

I’m assuming they received the “James T. Dinneen Award for Protecting the Status Quo” medal?

To be honest, I’m not sure what the once venerated Civic League actually does these days – except “study” the issues – oh, and give each other pretty plaques.

In addition to the “Award Recipients” section, the Civic League’s website is resplendent with haughty, league-funded studies entitled, “The Public Pension Crisis” (of which yours truly is the poster boy), “The Fire Study” –  An independent and objective study of fire rescue services in Volusia County (updated January 19, 2011?), and “The Tourism Report,” which concludes, “There is a need for leadership in government and the private sector to assist in accomplishing our common goals of the revitalization of the tourism industry and our quality of life for the area. Therefore, the Civic League must take an active role on these issues, especially working with the City and County in the redevelopment of the ISB gateway.

Obviously, the ‘tourism study’ hasn’t been updated in a while.

I guess the Civic League is big on suggestions – not so much on the whole “leadership” thing anymore.

Earlier this month, Team Volusia, the tax funded conduit for corporate welfare, held their annual gala dinner at the posh Mori Hosseini Center.  They used the occasion to trot out Team Volusia’s new three-year ‘strategic plan’ – Strategy for Success – for which we paid $55,000+ to a firm in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Little Rock.  I don’t make this shit up, folks. . .

Next month the Daytona Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce will be hosting their “97th Annual Gala” featuring guest speaker Nancy Grace – yes, that Nancy Grace – the viciously evil crone who embodies all that’s wrong with cable news.

She’ll be proselytizing to our assembled ‘movers and shakers’ on “Personal Inspiration and Motivation – Overcoming Obstacles.” 

Really?  Really.       

In addition, the upper-crust will make a few speeches and paint a pseudo-reality – all pap, no substance – doing their level-best to convince us yokels that our local economic outlook is peaches and cream.

At the end of the evening, those in attendance will “network” at the feted Dessert Reception, hosted by NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway, “featuring coffee, a multitude of dessert options, and more networking.”

Valet parking will be provided by Mori Hosseini’s own ICI Homes.

How absolutely Swellegant!

I don’t know about you, but I’ll savor that thought while I’m heating up my Swanson TV dinner.

Look, I know that I’m one of those “foul-mouthed east-Volusia naysayers” you hear so much about.  A degenerate malcontent who keeps pointing out the flaws in the sow’s ear and bringing unwanted attention to the perennial problems our power brokers try so hard to pretend don’t exist.

But, is it possible that I’m the only one on the “Fun Coast” who is sick and tired of the abject wasteland that is our core tourist district?  Or who sees the horror show that is the east ISB ‘gateway’, Midtown, or the Ridgewood Avenue commercial corridor, which increasingly looks like a scene from the zombie apocalypse (seriously)?

Leadership awards?

My God.

Maybe some civic-minded organization will smell the coffee and honor us with special recognition – the long-suffering taxpayers of Volusia County – the great unwashed hordes who continue to fight the good fight and struggle to make a living, serve the public, build a business,  swing a hammer, treat the sick, respond to emergencies, provide care, park cars, report the news, tend bar, serve food, mow grass, raise a family, and contribute their time and talents to make a viable community despite the self-serving efforts of our elected and appointed officials – and the blue-chip puppeteers who control our destiny.

Don’t hold your breath.

I think Nola has the right idea after all.

Dos Vedanya, y’all.



Florida Politics: Out with the old, in with the same

I’ve said more than once that Florida is the most corrupt state in the union.

Unfortunately, evidence in support of my calamitous assumption just keeps piling up.

Earlier this month, Florida Department of Environmental Protection secretary Jon Steverson announced he would be stepping down after a tumultuous two-years at the top of the agency charged with, among other important things, protecting our drinking water.

You may remember that Secretary Steverson was “widely criticized” last year over his failure to notify Governor Rick Scott, the citizens, or anyone else, about a massive sinkhole (billed by Steverson as a “water loss incident”) at Mosaic Company’s Mulberry phosphate processing plant.

Geologists later said that a child could have seen it was a pollutant-guzzling sinkhole, but in keeping with Mosaic’s PR damage control, Jon avoided using the “S-word” for some 19-days post incident.

Yep.  Jon kept us all in the dark for three-weeks while some 215 million gallons of acidic, radioactive wastewater drained into the region’s aquifer.

You know, where our potable water originates.

“Widely criticized?”  This bastard should have been hung by his fucking thumbs from a gallows in front of the State Capitol building as an example to any other dishonest whore who would turn a blind eye to his sworn duties and jeopardize the health of Florida residents.

Did Rick Scott launch his ass like a Saturn Five?

No.  He let Steverson get his solid gold parachute packed, then ‘honorably’ resign months later.

Although Steverson’s two-page resignation letter didn’t say peep about the Mosaic disaster, or his other mindbogglingly dumb ideas – such as allowing commercial timber and cattle operations on State Park lands – or increasing the ‘acceptable’ level of carcinogenic chemicals being dumped into our waterways – he did, however, tout Governor Scott’s pursuit of the manically expensive lawsuit against the State of Georgia known as the Tri-State Water War.

Wonder why he would do that?

Last week, when Floridians began to question Scott’s mental state after discovering that he has now thrown some $72 million of our tax dollars at the Tri-State suit – we learned that Jon Steverson will be going to work for one of the very firms billing taxpayers for the legal work!


Jon will join Rick Scott’s previous Department of Environmental Protection secretary, Herschel Vinyard, who already works at the same law firm.

With no resolution to this lawsuit in sight – two – count ‘em – former DEP secretaries, the very people who were charged with protecting our vulnerable water supply and overseeing our sensitive wetlands and environmental assets, will now be working for the very same firm that is hip-deep in the public trough.

In an excellent piece in the Orlando Sentinel, the always intrepid Scott Maxwell wrote:

“We have trapped ourselves in a wickedly stupid cycle.

 Whenever someone proposes we do something radical like not allow raw sewage in our rivers or dump fertilizer into our watershed, business groups pop up to scream: “That’s regulation! That’s overreach! That will kill jobs!”

 A few years back, businesses actually teamed up to coin a supposedly evil-sounding name for environmental watchdogs: “Big Green.” It sounded more silly than sinister. But the idea was to try to convince you that Florida’s true enemies are the people trying to keep your water clean.

 It sounds ridiculous. But Florida leaders parrot this claptrap. Gov. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam have all ranted about the EPA.

 And Scott — with the help of spineless legislators — has decimated environmental protections put in place by Jeb Bush, Bob Graham, Charlie Crist and others. They dismantled the state’s growth-planning agency, closed water-quality offices and put developers in charge of restraining development.

 So they allow our natural resources to get fouled and then bill you to fix the mess. Over and over again.”

 Sound familiar?

This is the same administration that has allowed Long John Miklos, Rick Scott’s hand-picked Chairman of the uber-powerful St. John’s River Water Management District’s governing board, to lobby for private clients of his Bio Tech environmental consultancy in front of, well, the St. John’s River Water Management District.

Only in Florida.

As Maxwell points out, the Tri-State lawsuit may have some merit.  But allowing participating law firms to bill Florida taxpayers up to $825 an hour is simply over-the-top.  After all, what incentive do they have to resolve the matter so long as the public tap is flowing strong?

Our tab for this year’s legal fees and costs associated with the suit is estimated at $41-million dollars.

And you can bet your bippy nothing settles until Jon Steverson gets his back-handed payback for taking the fall on the Mosaic disaster – among other environmental debacles.  After all, he did yeoman’s work holding the watchdogs off as long as he could.

Even as hundreds of millions of gallons of highly toxic waste whirlpooled into our drinking supply.

In an interesting side note, last week Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold announced he will also be leaving the Scott administration midway through the governor’s final term.

Per the Tallahassee Democrat, just hours after Boxold announced his resignation, “Capital City Consulting announced he was joining the Tallahassee-based group’s team of lobbyists.”

Sleep well, my fellow Floridians.

Sleep well.






Volusia Politics: Survival of the Fittest

I’m sorry.  I should probably listen to my best instincts and let this one go.

But I can’t.

When you’ve spent your entire life in law enforcement, there is something about unanswered questions that gnaw at you.

Loose strings.  Unfinished business.

I am referring to the deepening mystery of County Manager Jim Dinneen publicly, and unequivocally, calling Sheriff Mike Chitwood a liar in the Daytona Beach News-Journal – and the ensuing “This county ain’t big enough for the both of us” ego-feud between these two titans of local government.

Just two-weeks after Chitwood took office, the News-Journal reported that he was faunching at the bit over charter provisions that compel the sheriff to come before the county council – and Mr. Dinneen – to obtain permission for sheriff’s office expenditures.

For a guy like Mike Chitwood, that level of supervision is anathema to his free-wheeling style.

He likes to make decisions on the run, and he understands the importance of adapting quickly to changing threats and trends – tactics that run counter to the charter’s bureaucratic rigidity.

Then, during a local radio interview, the sheriff brought up a 2010 dust-up with Mr. Dinneen wherein the outspoken Chitwood called former Sheriff Ben Johnson a “moron.”

According to Sheriff Chitwood, Dinneen reacted by contacting Daytona Beach officials and attempted to have him fired.

During the same newspaper interview, the sheriff described a meeting with Dinneen during which Chitwood essentially explained that there is a new sheriff in town, and Dinneen shouldn’t expect him to play nice all the time – especially in matters relating to the welfare of his deputies.

The sheriff also stated, for the record, that the pair were working on their “relationship.”

When asked for his take on the quarrel, County Manager Dinneen coldcocked everyone when he said – pointblank – none of what the sheriff said ever happened.

Further, Dinneen emphasized the point by saying he would have been personally offended if it had.

Wow.  Powerful stuff that goes beyond establishing their respective turf.

Look, I joke around and poke fun on this forum – but this is significant.

In the aftermath of this Clash of the Titans, we got dribs and drabs from the News-Journal explaining the origin and purpose of the county’s home rule charter – and chirps about the need for these two extremely important positions to work collaboratively in the public interest.

But we never heard the other shoe drop.

We listened to the yada, yada, yada of charter issues, budget oversight, buffers, etc. – but what we really wanted to know was, who is telling the truth?  Dammit.


Then, last week, Volusia County trotted out a professionally produced video starring Sheriff Chitwood and Jim Dinneen which has the pair “partnering” to run the upcoming Daytona Half Marathon together.

Yep. Just two best bro’s meeting on the street, shaking hands, and chatting up the big footrace while wearing identical running jersey’s emblazoned with “Brown-n-Brown” and “International Speedway Corporation” logos – like they got dressed out of the same closet.


What happened to the great “Chitwood-Dinneen Blood Feud of 2017”?

I thought, “Either the newspaper got it way wrong, or Mike Chitwood should get the Oscar for best supporting actor in a dramatic fantasy video.”

I was confused.

Sheriff Chitwood cut his teeth on the mean streets of Philadelphia, then spent a decade policing the not-so-nice streets of the City of Daytona Beach, literally from the point of the spear.

As a veteran law enforcement officer, he knows that all a good cop has is his or her personal integrity.

So, why would he let some mealy-mouthed turd like Little Jimmy besmirch his well-crafted and all-important reputation for telling the truth – just the facts – even when it hurts?

And, if Dinneen is telling the truth (I don’t think he is), why would he stand idle while the High Sheriff openly lies about the nature of their professional relationship, and by insinuation, diminishes his standing with both the elected officials – and the public – by making him look like an umbrageous asshole?

Knowing the enormity of these two personalities, I found it odd that either one would simply ‘forgive and forget’ with so many unanswered questions floating around.

Didn’t make sense.

And it doesn’t appear the News-Journal is going to bring us closure anytime soon – and they should.

So, as I reported last week, I called my old friend Big John – who knows everything about anything related to Volusia County politics – and asked him, well, what the hell happened?

Per Big – just as things were heating up – J. Hyatt Brown, the uber-wealthy political insider who spent more money on last year’s District 4 county council race than most of us will make in the next five years – simply picked-up the phone and told Jim Dinneen to drop it.

Just like it never even happened.

In government, just like in nature, periodically there will be a clash at the top of the food chain that results in survival of the fittest.

One will stay, the other will go, and things will fundamentally advance.

This often occurs in the immediate aftermath of elections.

These internal battles represent the natural evolution of a governmental organization.  A pivotal competition that upsets the status quo and sets the stage for positive change and progress.

Like any complex and diverse ecosystem – with intricate, often symbiotic relationships – when we attempt to “play God” and artificially control the natural environment, the results are almost always disastrous.

Anyone who has ever kept an aquarium knows exactly what I am talking about.

For instance, when we remove apex predators from the ecosystem, we throw off the delicate balance that has evolved over time, resulting in unnatural behavioral change by other organisms.

By example, while alligators eat the occasional house pet, they also naturally consume prey species from the environment that would otherwise reproduce without check, off-setting the balance.

In government, petty squabbles at the top can result in serious dysfunction at all levels of the organization as people take sides, departments become polarized, working relationships deteriorate, and a “bunker mentality” sets in as the unresolved interpersonal conflict eats away at morale and productivity like a ravenous cancer.

Strong “Type A” personalities don’t let bygones-be-bygones.  They dominate.  It is their nature, and the lex talionis prevails.

As a successful business executive and finely tuned political player, Mr. Brown should know this.

We have a right to expect that in exchange for an unprecedented level of access, those who have purchased political power will refrain from using their significant influence to interfere in the delicate equilibria of government – and allow nature to take her course – before an even more toxic environment can emerge in Deland.



Volusia Politics: Nothing to see here, folks

I have a confession to make.

Try as I might, I’ve never been able to decipher the deeper meaning of poems.

Filthy limericks I get – poetry, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the fluidity and musical rhythm of reading a good poets work – but I’m just too damn dense to understand the nuances and fine distinction required to make sense of things.

I simply lack the mental dexterity, I suppose.  It’s like mathematics – anything north of simple division and I’m lost.

But when it comes to regional news – ‘current events’ – I consider myself as well-informed as the next guy.

Like many of you, I read the newspapers, watch what passes for national news on television, and try my best to make sense of the ponderings of local editorialists.  But, much like an idiot savant (absent the ‘savant’ part), I have a weird aptitude for figuring out the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of politicians, and the money behind them.

Or maybe it comes from witnessing the same comedic farce over-and-over again.

After all, I know most of the players, and over thirty-years of flailing away in the bureaucratic trenches gives me a unique perspective on the inner-workings of things – the rest I just make up.

In short, most of the time I feel confident about my understanding of local politics.

Then, like trying to interpret the collective works of T. S. Eliot, the state of local affairs conspires and I suddenly discover that I really don’t know anything at all.

Take the recent dust-up between Sheriff Mike Chitwood and County Manager Jim Dinneen.

Earlier this month, during an interview on local radio, Sheriff Chitwood took umbrage with provisions of the county charter which require that he approach the County Council, hat in hand, and seek permission for Sheriff’s Office expenditures.

In turn, he went public with a story that Jim Dinneen attempted to have him fired in 2010, when he served as chief of police for the City of Daytona Beach.

Incredibly, Dinneen unequivocally denied the sheriff’s allegations.

Later, Sheriff Chitwood told us that he and Mr. Dinneen recently sat down together and are actively working to mend their relationship.

Again, Dinneen told us the meeting Sheriff Chitwood described never happened. . .

Wow.  Now that’s news.

When the chief executive of county government is openly calling the highest law enforcement officer in Volusia County a bald-faced liar, that is cause for concern.  After all, if one of these two titans of government are brazenly lying to the public – well, we’ve got bigger problems than I thought.

No wiggle room.  Dinneen called Chitwood a liar – and that is a “Yuge Deal,” in the parlance of our times.

And, by all accounts, the Daytona Beach News-Journal thought it was important, too.

For a minute, anyway.

In an excellent article by reporter Dustin Wyatt, we learned “The sheriff said he confronted Dinneen about the past and present earlier this week.  But Dinneen said that conversation never happened.”

“He didn’t sit me down and explain anything to me,” Dinneen said.  “That is not true.”

But Chitwood described to The News-Journal things he said in a meeting with Dinneen.

“I told him about the past and he said if this is going to work, we have to work together,” Chitwood said.

“I had to let him know that I’m not going to sit in the sandbox and play nicely with everybody. I’m gonna do what’s best for my deputies.”

Said Dinneen: “I would never allow anyone to lecture me like that. He never said those words to me ever, I would have taken offense to it.”

 Holy shit.  Houston, we have a problem.

Then, on a recent bright Tuesday afternoon, while sipping a cold brew from DeBary’s own Central 28 Beer Company and skimming social media, I came upon a professionally produced video depicting a staged chance meeting between Sheriff Chitwood and Jim Dinneen in the quadrangle of the County administration building in Deland.

I leaned in closer, took a long swallow, and eagerly awaited the dramatic moment when the sheriff would haul-off and punch Little Jimmy right in the pie hole for besmirching his character and calling him a degenerate liar in the newspaper.

Didn’t happen.


Right before my eyes, the Clash of the Titans dissolved into a mincing love-fest as the two previous rivals – resplendent in running shirts prominently emblazoned with J. Hyatt’s “Brown-n-Brown” logo, and the International Speedway’s corporate emblem – clasped hands and partnered for a footrace called the “Daytona Half Marathon.”

“Wait!” I thought, “Aren’t we smack dab in the middle of a good old fashioned political brouhaha?  An ego-maniacal ‘This county isn’t big enough for the both of us’ Battle Royale?  A burgeoning charter crisis that spawned no end of editorial yammering from local media and became the ‘sujet brûlant’ whenever neighbors met on the street?”

Yes, I’m almost sure I remember that.

Whenever I’m tragically confused (which encompasses most of my waking hours) I called my old friend, Big John – Volusia’s social conscience and learned sage on all things politics – and asked, well, what the hell just happened?

According to Big, the brewing tempest between the sheriff and county manager was salved-over when J. Hyatt Brown – one of our High Potentates of political power – simply called Jim Dinneen and told him to drop it.

Just like that, the whole sordid mess just withered up and dropped off the vine.

“Nothing to see here, folks.  Move along.”

And never mind that little man behind the curtain.

If Big said it, I believe it – and you should too.

Because that is the way things work here.

Is our High Sheriff a liar?

Is our County Manager a fraud?  (Yes, he is, but that’s for another day.)

We will never know, because I doubt any hard news outlet in the region would allow one of their reporters to touch it with a 10-foot pole.

And that’s a shame.

So, we are left to analyze what little evidence we have and draw our own conclusions on the veracity of these two important political figures – one a proven public servant, the other a political hack with the situational ethics of a brokeback snake.

I have my thoughts.  How about you?


Volusia Politics: Welcome to the Club

Hey, Daytona Beach Shores, welcome to the club!

Last week, we added the citizens in the condo canyons of Daytona Beach Shores to the long list of hapless victims who have had their lunch money stolen by their elected and appointed officials in Volusia County government – the proverbial Scut Farkus of political bullies.

Officials in the Shores were banking on using their limited supply of beachfront property for additional vertical growth to support the communities tax base.  You know, the whole idea of managing local resources to meet the collective needs of residents?

The quaint notion of controlling your own destiny through self-governance might work elsewhere, but not in Volusia County.

That concept is as outdated as a creepy Norman Rockwell painting.

Somewhere along the way, We, The People, were out bid.

Here, the ulterior motives of a powerful few trump the needs, wants and desires of local government – and the long-suffering citizens who pay the bills – every time.

For the last several years, county manager Jim Dinneen, with the acquiescence of our elected officials, has been spending public funds to purchase incredibly expensive parcels of beachfront property (both east and west of A-1-A) like a drunken sailor.


In fact, he spent all he could from the county’s general fund, then tapped into our ECHO monies – you know, the program that taxes county residents for “cultural, historical and outdoors projects,” but now serves as Jim Dinneen’s real estate slush fund?

(Which is just one reason no one in Volusia County should ever trust a tax initiative again.)   

Last July, the county purchased the Surf N’ Sand Motel in Daytona Beach for $2.7 million.

In May 2015, Volusia agreed to a $1.7 million price for property adjacent to the former Desert Inn (which is undergoing an endless renovation project).

A month earlier, the county bought the former Ellinor Village Shopping Center in Ormond Beach for $1.8 million.

In addition, Volusia County also bought property on Hiles Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach for $370,000; the Argosy Motel in Ormond-by-the-Sea for $1.25 million – along with a lot, and the Jasmin Motel, in Daytona Beach Shores for $2.95 million and $1.4 million respectively.

In total, the county has spent some $12.1 million of our money on seven beachside properties since 2013.

These lands are set to be turned into ‘off-beach’ parking lots – the precursor to eliminating beach driving and parking once and for all.

Look, you can’t offer the Big Enchilada of “economic incentives” – a traffic-free beach – to every foreign speculative developer who blows into town if the lumpen masses keep driving up and down the strand.

Won’t work.

They must make it so onerous for residents that we simply give-up and go away.  You know, like our visitors did. . .

It looks to me like Jim Dinneen and Company have determined the time is nigh to end the public pleasure of beach driving and set the stage for implementing the wants of the High Panjandrums of Political Power – the uber-wealthy insiders whose mere presence direct our elected representatives and control virtually every aspect of our lives here on the “Fun Coast.”

Per a recent report in the News-Journal, Daytona Beach Shores officials hoped to modify the county’s plan to pave some of the most valuable real estate on the east coast of Florida and put up parking meters.

Apparently, the residents of the Shores had the audacity to request some amenities – a playground, fitness areas, and a picnic facility – in exchange for their collective financial sacrifice.

“We are not crazy about having a parking lot on that parcel,” Shores City Manager Michael Booker said, calling one of the parcels, across from the Red Lobster, “one of the most valuable properties in Volusia County.”

In some weird sleight-of-hand designed to delay the inevitable (while still appearing to give a shit), Jim Dinneen pulled the controversial item from last week’s county council agenda, assuring us that he wanted to give staff more time to listen to “new ideas” from the city.

My ass.

In this first skirmish over beach access issues since our new council took office, our chairman, Ed Kelley, and council member Billie Wheeler – both former municipal representatives – should have used this opportunity to stand up to Dinneen’s aggression, slap his nose with a rolled-up agenda package, and say enough is enough!

Instead, they telegraphed which side of the ball they plan to line up on when it comes to protecting our heritage of beach driving – or mending fences with the cities, for that matter.

Most smart people could have called this one in November.

Last week, Jim Dinneen explained to us (and our elected officials) exactly what the councils “plan” will be when it comes to beach access issues:

“Our goal is to look long term for the entire county,” Dinneen said. “The key is making sure long after we are gone that people have access to the ocean. That’s the plan of the council.”

And by access, Little Jimmy is referring to hauling your kids, chairs, umbrellas and beach gear across four lanes of Atlantic Avenue from a scorching metered parking lot.

Unfortunately, Ms. Wheeler has already caved to Dinneen’s entrenched “Us vs. Them” stratagem for steamrolling the municipalities.

While stating that she “cares deeply” about the needs of Daytona Beach Shores residents from one side of her mouth, Wheeler immediately agreed with Dinneen’s “100-year beach access plan,” stating that she met with city staff just last week to “communicate and try to get them on our side.”

Our side?  Really?

That didn’t take long.  You learned your role quick, Billie.

Thanks for nothing.

Want to speculate on which way Chairman Kelley will lean on this one?

Come on, Ed.  Surprise us.  Do the right thing, for the right reason, and stop Dinneen’s belligerence against your constituents.

After all, wasn’t repairing relationships a core plank of your campaign?

Yeah.  Right.

Do you ever feel like you’re just along for the ride?

Because you are.

While Ed Kelley struggles to get his sea legs, this ship of fools remains tragically adrift – and the bilge rats still control the wheelhouse.

Right before our eyes, Dinneen and his lock-step elected lackeys are ramrodding their “vision” of traffic-free (read: private) beaches to encourage “additional development” – even if it takes castrating the growth and stability of every municipal tax base on the beachside.

Trust me.  All the pieces are falling into place nicely – this council will take more of our beach –  and they will do it using our own tax dollars.

If you don’t like it, talk to County Attorney Dan Eckert.  He’s the muscle.

The council’s cheapjack thug.  A mean-spirited prick who’s made a cottage industry out of suing his own constituents whenever they dare raise issue with Dinneen’s avaricious beach policy.

At the end of the day, there’s not a damn thing you or I can do about it.

The fix is in.

Unless and until the cities make it abundantly clear that we will no longer tolerate this unchecked aggression from Deland, then we are doomed to remain victims of a system that neither wants or needs our input – only our money.














Volusia Politics: Return on Investment

“Mr. News-Journal, meet Mr. Reality.  I’m so glad you guys finally had the chance to get acquainted.”

I thoroughly enjoyed reporter Seth Robbins’ excellent piece, “Money Game” – “Six wealthy donors gave large infusions of cash in record-setting Volusia race” – in Sunday’s Daytona Beach News-Journal.   

For the first time, in a long time, the News-Journal peeled back the gauze on the singular issue that has plagued Volusia County politics like a festering chancre for years.

We ill-fated masochists who observe regional politics with a critical eye have long understood that the Volusia County economy is essentially based on the same tight group of uber-wealthy power brokers passing the same nickel around.

Unfortunately, with increasing frequency that nickel originates from our tax dollars.

Last October, just before election day, I wrote that the outsized influence of the economic elite on Volusia County politics is best exposed during periods of transition.  In times of political change, the behind-the-scenes work of cheap fixers and bagmen, like county manager Jim Dinneen, are more difficult to conceal.

By all known metrics, the 2016 election season was arguably among the weirdest on record, but it confirmed my suspicion that Volusia County truly is a mini-oligarchy, controlled exclusively by a core of powerful insiders who buy and sell political candidates – and ultimately shape public policy – through unnatural infusions of cash and personal influence.

What mystifies me is why we continue to tolerate it?

Clearly, there are many residents who have, over time, given up and come to accept this bastardized form of governance – and still others who simply owe their soul to the company store.

Let’s face it, a significant number of people either work directly for companies under the control of the Volusia Triumvirate of Mortenza “Mori” Hosseini, Lesa France-Kennedy and J. Hyatt Brown – or are employed by their subsidiaries and contractors.

That list includes, but is not limited to, Daytona State College, Halifax Health, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, ICI Homes, International Speedway Corporation, and a host of insurance, banking and financial services corporations.

This insidious influence begins each election cycle when Hosseini, France-Kennedy and Brown – joined by other wealthy players like Consolidated Tomoka, George Anderson and Theresa Doan – inject huge sums of money into the campaigns of hand-select candidates for local offices through their countless corporate interests, political action committees, and often shadowy business alliances.

In some instances, they hedge their bet by donating simultaneously to different candidates in the same race.

Now, why would someone do that?

Look, these individuals did not accumulate massive personal wealth without the ability to control their environment, and that is exactly what the political influence they purchase provides.

It also places them at the very nexus of public funds and private interests, and buys them a chip in the incredibly lucrative game of corporate welfare masquerading as economic development enticements.

In the News-Journal’s article, my old friend Mike Scudiero – a highly respected hand whose understanding of the art and science of political campaigns is infinitely more advanced than my own – is quoted as saying it was “baseless speculation that the large infusions of cash seen in the District 4 race were intended to sway council votes.”

Sorry, Mike – I did a spit-take with my Folgers Breakfast Blend when I read that one.

“People should not expect that it is going to be the new norm,” he said. “What happened is that it became an arms race between a couple of well-to-do business folks.”

 I disagree.

You don’t need an MBA from the Harvard Business School to understand that one does not invest large sums of money without expecting a return.  After all, the road to the poor house is paved with the bones of those who ignored the simple analytical formula – Net Profit v. Cost of Investment.

No, these individuals have not become incredibly successful by shoving money down a rabbit hole expecting a bean stalk to rise into the heavens where the golden goose resides.  These are extraordinarily smart and savvy businessmen and women who are very adroit at building – and keeping – personal and corporate wealth.

In short, they understand that you don’t last long in business throwing good money after bad.

Now, I don’t have J. Hyatt money, but when I spend what little I have, I expect something in return.

I’m funny that way.

How about you?

Let’s face facts:  The local donor class make massive campaign contributions with the full knowledge that their personal, civic and professional interests will outweigh those of John Q. Public every time.

In the end, that is what they consider an appropriate return on investment, and given the astronomical amount of “economic incentives” that our elected officials have showered upon this exclusive group in recent years, I would have to say they’ve done extremely well on the risk/reward scale.

Is what we experience in Volusia County quid pro quo bribery – dollars for political favors?

I don’t know.  But it has a whiff of shit about it.

What I do know is that when these very same powerful insiders appear – individually or en masse – in the Volusia County Council Chambers, invariably – and I mean 100% of the time – the issue, project, or development they support is handed to them on a gilded platter.

Now, I may be crazy, but I’m not a fool.  And neither are you.

Why would a few uber-wealthy power brokers spend a small fortune to support select candidates for local elective office?

In my view, that question was best answered by the Brennan Center for Justice, a law and policy institute at the NYU School of Law that seeks to improve our democracy and system of justice:

“There is a growing disconnect between average citizens and elected officials.  Part of the blame lies with a campaign finance system that unfairly stacks the deck in favor of the few able to give exceptionally large contributions.”

 Sound familiar?

Daytona Beach: It just doesn’t work

A frequent complaint from the “movers and shakers” in the Halifax area – often repeated by the Daytona Beach News-Journal – concerns the prevailing sense of base pessimism and cynical distrust that seems to possess the local narrative like a diseased dybbuk.

Do alternative opinion outlets like Barker’s View contribute to that?  Guilty as charged.

Let’s face it, blowing smoke up the collective ass of our local elected and appointed “leadership” is not my bailiwick – and I’ve seen far too much with these jaundiced old eyes to buy into the Regional Chamber of Commerce’s syrupy “everything is beautiful, in its own way” prattle.

In a recent op/ed, the News-Journal finally recognized that the long-suffering residents of Volusia County come by their sense of skepticism honestly.

Unfortunately, the newspaper then attempted – once again – to pitifully fan some fleeting spark of optimism over a plan by a mysterious Russian developer, Protogroup, to construct two 300-foot (plus) convention hotel and condominium towers, cleverly named, well, “The Daytona Beach Convention Hotel & Condominiums.”


Happy Days are here again.  Again.

Not since those heady days before the Hard Rock deal collapsed like a cheap beach chair – and the resulting blame game by the Canadian developer – have I heard such jubilance and positivity over a speculative development.

Not since the intoxicating reign of Bray & Gillespie – or the Ocean Waters Development saga, the slow downward spiral of the promised Main Street upgrades, the expensive (and now shelved) “E-Zone Master Plan,” etc., etc. – have I heard such rich enthusiasm swirling in the salty air of Daytona’s Beachside.


The powers-that-be are still giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to their horribly failed notion that a “Grand Hotel” can be the panacea for all our ills – the mythical regenerative Phoenix rising from the sandy ashes to magically heal the decades of blight and inattention that have left our core tourist area a virtual wasteland.

Stop shitting on our dreams, Barker.  You Debbie Downer.

After all, the Russkie’s put up a parking garage – what more assurance do you need?

At the risk of sounding like a typical east Volusia cynic: Now that we’re back at square one, it appears to me our politicians are reluctant to give up on the “cure all hotel” strategy because they know speculative property developers will throw money in all the right places, and pockets, while actual revitalization efforts require an investment of blood, sweat, and tears – hard work – and a commitment to the important ideals of perseverance, vision and collaboration.

I’ll be damned if I can figure out why ostensibly smart public officials keep dragging the lifeless corpse of this failed approach around like some weird scene from Weekend at Bernies.

It just doesn’t work here.

Why is it so difficult to understand that, generally speaking, most people don’t want to vacation, or invest, in a blighted shithole?  (It really is that simple.)

What about code enforcement, reinvestment, strategic demolition and remediation, “cleaning and greening,” subsidies for citizens and organizations with a proven track record of revitalization, changing the current culture that permits vacant and neglected properties, and embracing practical efforts to stop the adverse effect of blight on the health, welfare and economy of the beachside?

Why don’t our elected representatives get it?

In a recent letter to the editor published in the News-Journal, a member of the Daytona Beach-based grassroots initiative Citizens 4 Responsible Development, wrote:

“…I and a few others took a walk down Main Street, two blocks from the Ocean Center and the Hilton. Here’s what we saw: Temporary banners tacked up over many establishments. Lighted neon signs saying “Open” in the windows of locked-up stores. A parking lot littered with broken bottles. Dirty store fronts. Lovely planters filled with weeds. Store windows plastered with over-sized signs. Harley logos on the asphalt street. Crumbling stucco facades. A discarded organ sitting under a canopy. A glass case displaying event information from 2015…”

Our representatives could learn something from that.

 Sadly, in their recent editorial, the News-Journal made the analogy:

For more than a century, “Wait til next year!” became the annual rallying cry for Chicago Cubs fans after season after season of failure. Just as the Cubs finally broke through with a World Series title in 2016, Daytona Beach appears to be on a winning streak with the opening of the Tanger Outlets mall, the first phase of One Daytona taking shape, (yawn) and now the Protogroup project about to launch. It’s enough to make optimism fashionable again.”

 There is another old rallying cry: “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.”

It’s high-time our elected officials stop this exercise in repetitive denial and begin the difficult process of building a strong foundation for real, long-term, economic redevelopment in the Halifax area.


(Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment Corporation)


Volusia Politics: We Don’t Get Fooled Again?

Meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss.

It’s true – the more things change, the more they stay the same here on Florida’s “Fun Coast.”

Earlier this month, in a retrospective on the year that was, I wrote that Volusia’s half-cent sales tax issue would soon be resurrecting itself – like some macabre ghoul crawling out of a misty cemetery where government money-grabs go to die – right after the elections had been decided.

After all, no one wants to run a heated political campaign while lashed to the ball-and-chain of rising taxes, eh?

Like clockwork, now that our anointed monarchs have been enthroned, county and city officials are once again trotting out the sales tax increase as the magic potion for our crumbling ‘transportation infrastructure.’

Yep.  According to Jim Dinneen and Company – we’re going broke when it comes to road funds (not executive salaries, thank God) and its past time for you and me to pay up.

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, County Engineer Jerry Brinton put a “real-world” spin on the problem for all us yokels:

“Think of it like this: You’re an employee who has never gotten a raise, while rent, the cost of goods and utility bills continue to increase. Meanwhile, appliances start to break (roads or bridges) and family members (the taxpayers) keep asking for stuff.”

“Your kids want those new sneakers,” Brinton said. “What do you do?”

 Hey, Jerry?  With all due respect – shut the fuck up.

Your condescending bullshit is not what the long-suffering taxpayers of Volusia County need right now.  Okay?

The County Engineer’s half-baked analogy would work – I suppose – if the individual referenced wasn’t spending someone else’s money like a drunk methamphetamine addict on a crack cocaine binge.

(Quick question – who is responsible for managing media communications for county department heads?  Anyone? I guess in an organization that abhors responsibility as much as it does accountability, well, anything goes.)  

Interestingly, our own Master of Diplomacy and imminently self-important doyen, County Council Member Deb Deny’s, used the occasion to once again deflect blame while openly bashing the cities, “I think the public will buy in once their elected leaders have a clear vision,” Denys said, something that’s been lacking in the past. “There has been no clear vision.”

This from one of the “visionaries” who just voted for outrageous salary increases for Jim Dinneen (who, with benefits, is currently shoveling over $350,000 of our tax dollars out the door annually – even as our transportation infrastructure apparently crumbles around us?) and County Attorney Dan Eckert – who spent most of last year suing you and me, you know, his constituents. . .

At a recent “roundtable discussion” between Volusia’s municipal officials, Deland Mayor Bob Apgar, normally someone who shows leadership and good judgment in these matters, suggested forming a “committee” – with a seat for every city – you know, sort of like the meeting they were all sitting at (?) – that will come up with a plan the “public would be willing to vote for.”

The committee, of course, will be comprised of non-political types with very familiar names who will naturally suggest some scary potential funding sources and chilling doomsday scenarios – then settle on recommending the half-cent tax increase, like they are throwing us a collective bone.

On the bright side – the “committee members” will fade the political heat for our elected officials – so, ultimately, no one is answerable!


As if by magic, an additional $43 million dollars of our hard-earned money will transfer from our bank accounts to government coffers annually – while our elected and appointed officials continue to piss good money after bad.

Food for thought:  What will the next emergency be?

In a January 2016 Barker’s View piece on this very issue entitled “Cui Bono?” I asked the malignant question on everyone’s mind:

“The Volusia County Council’s inability to sell the half-cent sales tax initiative last summer is indicative of a larger problem.  In my view, our elected officials are missing the key element of any successful marketing strategy – or tax proposal:  Trust.

 Oblivious to the fact that they have lost basic credibility, County officials are once again staging their tired Kabuki, dramatically performed with equal parts apocalyptic prophecy, name calling, and threats against the municipalities, all designed to wring additional dollars from a tax-weary constituency.

 Given the number of grassroots efforts seeking accountability, it is increasingly clear to everyone but County officials that they no longer have the consent of the governed.

 I believe the seeds of this institutional distrust germinate in the county manager’s office.

 In my view, Jim Dinneen’s mismanagement of this and other important public policy issues best exemplify all that’s wrong with county government.  Team Dinneen wants higher taxes, because they need higher taxes – and spending cuts, the reduction of exorbitant executive salaries, or curbing insider handouts are inconceivable. 

 A bureaucracy – especially one as bloated as this – requires tax dollars like a parasitic insect needs the blood of its host. 

 It’s very life depends upon it.

Public confidence in county government has been slowly eroded by the steady flow of missteps, bullying and legislative sleight-of-hand that invariable benefits a privileged few while laying the financial burden squarely on the back of Volusia County residents.

 As a result, we no longer assume council decisions serve the common good. 

 Now, we instinctively ask ourselves the darker question, “who benefits?”

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury who decides the fate of this insane money enema – the case is clear:

In my view, common sense – hell, common decency – demands that We, the People, not permit one more penny of our hard-earned money be sent to Deland unless and until our current elected and appointed officials stop the life-draining hemorrhaging of public funds in the form of ridiculous salaries, “economic incentives,” half-price land sales, open cash giveaways, and back-handed corporate welfare checks to Forbes-listed billionaires and multi-millionaire land developers.

Look, if Volusia can’t do it for $850+ million annually – in a county where most municipalities provide their own core services – they can’t do it.  Period.

The fact is, Mayor Apgar and the rest of these lily-livered municipal officials damn well know that it is high-time they stand up to county government’s insane arrogance – and hyper-spending – to demand accountability, reallocation, collaboration, and respect.

Enough is enough.






Volusia Politics: Clash of the Titans

Last week, my best friend of over 50-years and I lit out for the territory on a great adventure to explore the incredible beauty of the low country sea islands and marshland between North Myrtle Beach and Jekyll Island – with stops to enjoy the rich history of Charleston and Savannah.

A wonderful trip.

Trust me, the comparison between the vacation destinations of Myrtle Beach and Daytona Beach wasn’t lost on me.

The similarities are unmistakable – and the differences in the way the two entities have dealt with the unique challenges of an aging beachside tourist community are equally striking.

I hope to bring you some observations on that later in the week.

They say, “You can’t make old friends.”  That’s true.

I haven’t gotten a lot right in my life, but having the privilege of a lifelong friend is something I consider more important than gold.

Friendships are vital because they require that you put selfish needs aside and elevate another person’s feelings and interests above your own.  And when someone reciprocates that generosity of spirit – you have the foundation for something very special.

The effort required to build trust and cultivate a true friendship can’t help but teach you something deeply important about yourself – and the subtle, esoteric things that make life so rich and rewarding.

Professional relationships are important too – especially when you serve in the public interest.

Last week, I read an interesting article by the intrepid Lyda Longa, writing for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, regarding the escalating feud between our new Sheriff Michael Chitwood and County Manager Jim Dinneen.

Well, that didn’t take long.

I know something about both of these incredibly strong personalities, and I can assure you, this spat isn’t going away anytime soon.

During my working life, I had several occasions to interact with Sheriff Chitwood during his tenure as Chief of Police for the City of Daytona Beach.

I found him to be incredibly passionate, hardworking, and someone who kept his own counsel.

However, as chief of the second largest agency in the county, in my view, he didn’t take the time to develop professional relationships with his colleagues in the local law enforcement community.

I hope that changes now that he holds all the cards.

Many police department’s in Volusia County rely on the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office for specialized equipment and services – such as SWAT, K-9 and explosive ordinance disposal.

To his credit, Ben Johnson was incredibly open, cooperative, and supportive – always willing to lend personnel and resources in support of law enforcement operations, regardless of jurisdiction.

I am sure the nagging question among area police chief’s right now is what level of cooperation they can expect from our new sheriff.

And that’s a legitimate concern.

It’s no secret that Sheriff Chitwood and I have had our differences – never personal, always professional.

When big egos work in close proximity, there will naturally be the occasional jurisdictional argument or difference of opinion.  I have always felt the honest debate of competing views makes for good public policy – and I know Sheriff Chitwood does too.

But it also helps to have a strong, collegial, relationship as well.

Let’s face it, Mike has the work ethic of the Amish.  He truly loves the law enforcement profession – and the men and women who pin on the badge and serve in an incredibly difficult and dangerous environment.

Most important – he leads from the front.  I respect that.

However, I also know that he can be extremely unforgiving with those who cross him – something he will need to work on going forward.

Clearly, Sheriff Chitwood is not afraid to mix it up, or challenge the status quo, to get the best possible results.

In my view, our new Sheriff’s passion, strength of character, and strong leadership will serve all of us well as he takes the agency to new levels of professionalism and service delivery.

Now, Sheriff Chitwood is coming to the difficult realization that his authority – and independence – as a duly-elected official is purposely limited by the strict provisions of the County’s home rule charter.

This puts his progressive programs and aggressive crime fighting plans at the mercy of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker on the historically dysfunctional County Council – and worse yet – subject to the petty-minded machinations of Little Jimmy Dinneen.

Regardless of your thoughts on the merits of the charter, in my view, the elected High Sheriff shouldn’t be required to come before Dinneen and the council with his hat in hand every time he needs to fund a project.

In a very telling aspect of this mounting dust-up, Sheriff Chitwood described how, in 2010, he learned that Mr. Dinneen attempted to have him fired from the City of Daytona Beach after the now infamous exchange in which he referred to then Sheriff Johnson as a “moron” during a dispute over a county anti-theft ordinance.

This weasel-shit behavior by a political hack like Jim Dinneen is eerily familiar.

You see, in 2013, Dinneen called my former boss to make issue of the fact that a police vehicle I was driving for official business had been paid for with Community Redevelopment funds.

Perfectly appropriate, given the policing provisions of the CRA – and our focus on problem-solving initiatives in the Ridgewood Avenue commercial corridor.

Mr. Dinneen demanded that I – as chief of police – find another vehicle to operate while on-duty.

Naturally, my immediate reaction was to ask Mr. Dinneen to mind his own fucking business – and I expressed this sentiment to my city manager.

After all, why would the county manager pee on my rug?

I was the little guy in the sandbox – I couldn’t help him, or hurt him, if I wanted.

So why rough me up just because you can?

At the end of the day, I’m not sure it ended the way Jimmy intended.

You see, my wife, Patti – in her own inimitable way – immediately made a series of targeted public record requests for information relating to the cost of Mr. Dinneen’s office renovations – and the ugly (and as yet fully explained) theft of his county-issued SUV during which his golf clubs were stolen.

After that, the whole tempest in a teapot just seemed to evaporate.


It seems Little Jimmy didn’t want to answer the type of questions my wife was asking – and he backstroked faster than Michael Phelps – later claiming the issue had been brought by an unidentified county council member – and assuring that he wouldn’t presume to tell me what vehicle I should drive. . .

At least that’s what I was told.

Still, I never received an apology for his outrageous bullying.

Now, I can assure you this, the one thing you will never find in Sheriff Chitwood’s issued vehicle is a set of golf clubs. . .

To hear Mr. Dinneen tell it – the confrontations that Chitwood so intricately described to the News-Journal – well, never happened.

 “I told him about the past and he said if this is going to work, we have to work together,” Chitwood said. “I had to let him know that I’m not going to sit in the sandbox and play nicely with everybody. I’m gonna do what’s best for my deputies.”

Said Dinneen: “I would never allow anyone to lecture me like that. He never said those words to me ever, I would have taken offense to it.”

 Hummmmm. . .

Jim Dinneen just called Sheriff Chitwood a bald-faced liar.

The gauntlet has been thrown.

The tale of the tape?

Mike Chitwood has proven that he tells the truth.  Even when it hurts.

Conversely, Jimmy Dinneen will lie to us when the truth would serve him better.

This is going to be an interesting Battle Royale.

Love him or hate him, despite his sharp-edges, Sheriff Chitwood is a highly driven, alpha personality with a proven track record of serving honorably in the public interest.

In my view, Jim Dinneen is a mean-spirited asshole with a God complex who has proven – time-and-again – that he best serves the self-interests of a few well-connected insiders above those of his constituents every time – all the time.

In this Clash of the Titans, my moneys on Mike.








National Affairs: The Death of Trust

“And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”

 –Revelation 18:2

I am prone to saying that we live in interesting times.

And by that, I mean we live in perhaps the most fucked-up and totally insane epoch of repugnant treachery and open deceit ever perpetrated in the history of the Union – if not the world.

“Now, get a grip, Barker. Don’t go off the deep end, you crazy bastard – here, have a drink – it can’t be that bad?”

Look, don’t take my word for it – open any newspaper in the Free World this morning and let me know what you think.

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, I wrote extensively how our once venerated media compromised themselves in an almost universal frenzy to delegitimize the frontrunners – with specific and near constant emphasis on now President-elect Donald Trump.

I opined that all it cost us was the collective loss of any real confidence in the national press – and our democratic process.

Well, gird your loins, folks – it’s gotten worse.  As if that were possible. . .

This morning, as good people throughout the nation awake, brew the morning joe, and tune in to their favorite talking heads, they are learning the ugly pseudo-facts about an incredibly salacious story that has been quietly making the rounds of Washington media-types, politicians – and the intelligence community – for months.

It seems that an oddly written, and completely unverified, 25-page dossier allegedly compiled by a former British intelligence officer – hired to develop opposition material on Trump – was obtained by Florida-based GOP political operative, and confirmed hack, Rick Wilson; who then trotted it around to anyone, and everyone, who would read it – including, apparently, the Central Intelligence Agency.

(You remember Rick Wilson.  He coined the phrase “Cheeto Jesus” – and led the ‘Never Trump’ movement from the very point of the spear – then spent the better part of last year viciously trashing the Republican nominee while serving as a “top GOP consultant”?)

To take this absurdity to its ragged edge – this morning we will also learn that top officials of our intelligence community used this unconfirmed “report” to brief both Mr. Trump, and President Barack Obama, as hard evidence of the width and depth of Russian involvement in our 2016 election.

On a more nefarious – and completely over-the-top – note, the report cites information from unidentified covert ‘sources’ that Russian intelligence is currently in possession of extremely embarrassing material that could be used to compromise and blackmail Mr. Trump – also suggesting Russia has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump in the years leading to his candidacy.

The report – parts of which sound like an old Penthouse Forum segment – include a weird story of Mr. Trump hiring Russian prostitutes to engage in “golden showers” on a bed once occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Obama in the Presidential Suite of the Moscow Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

As I understand it, Wilson took the bait – hook, line and sinker.

In turn, Wilson turned the report over to the Central Intelligence Agency, who quickly shared it within the intelligence community, before adding it to briefing materials presented as a fact-based intel product to the highest officials in the United States government.

Frankly, it reads like some perverted twist on a John le Carre novel – where clandestine dead drops and secretly palmed Minox cameras are replaced with tawdry piss-play. . .

Then, in some onanistic frenzy to break the next big Washington “Got’cha!” the online “news” source Buzzfeed – a strange hybrid website composed of hard journalism and pop culture bullshit – actually ran the raw dossier (complete with Sharpie highlighted passages) last night for all to see.

Understand, the material was billed by Buzzfeed as an “unverified memo” – but the damage was done.

They know it, and you know it.

Now, the rest of the story.

Although this is an actively developing disaster, as the hours pass it is increasingly clear that this dubious “intelligence report” – the contents of which made it all the way to a presidential briefing – originated as a bogus troll post on some obscure online bulletin board (4chan.org).

This morning, the site posted a claim that the “infamous golden shower scene” in the unverified dossier was a hoax, fabricated by an anonymous member of the chatboard as “fanfiction” – then sent to Rick Wilson – and ultimately, the CIA.

Is it possible that the most sophisticated intelligence agencies on earth – along with some of our nations most seasoned journalists and outlets (read: CNN) – have been shamefully duped by the proverbial 300-pound dude sitting on a chat forum in his mother’s basement?

You bet it is.

In a chock-a-block attempt to explain the matter, zerohedge.com summed things up better than I can:

“From here on out, assuming this is all true – it doesn’t matter how “legit” any report, document, or declaration is from any agency regarding Russian involvement in the US elections.  Even if there is credible evidence in the case (there’s not), it simply won’t matter after today.”


We are witnessing the death of trust.

I hope, in the end, our two corrupt political parties – with the full support and acquiescence of our now defiled media establishment – realize the depth of harm they have done to our great nation with their detestable machinations.

Earlier today, President-elect Trump took to Twitter and denounced the report as “fake news,” stating, “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me.  Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

Given the malevolent fallout and internal treachery we’ve seen in the wake of Mr. Trump’s electoral victory, I’m afraid I can no longer answer that question with any degree of certainty.

Can you?