From the painfully obvious file, I’m not a runner.
Since I retired from police work, I’m not chasing anybody – and nobody is chasing me. Besides, my military service cured me of two things: Camping and running for pleasure.
While I understand the health benefits of lacing up some fancy neon shoes and pounding the pavement – it’s just not for me.
My doctor is a great medicine man who has kept me tuned and patched for nearly 20-years now, but he is absolutely consumed with long-distance running and biking. He and I are about the same age, and he routinely competes in various endurance races and physical contests that border on masochism.
I have another friend who thinks nothing of getting on a feather-lite racing bicycle and putting in 60-miles in an afternoon. He claims to receive some euphoric feeling – a sudden release of endorphin’s (I think). It apparently has an addictive effect and keeps the pedals churning.
Whenever I come upon him peddling along in my traffic lane, I give him a taste of the chrome just to nudge him over and ensure a healthy respect for the motoring public.
I hate to say it, but I get the same giddy sensation from a quick six pack of Bud heavy. And, when done right, I don’t need a shower afterward.
At 5’-11” and 230lbs., with a pack-a-day habit and a permanent ashen complexion, I’m what doctor’s call a “high miler.”
Hell, even my own aerobically-obsessed physician knows that running would pulverize my knees into powder and grind what’s left of my hips into bone splinters.
No. I avoid running at all costs.
Besides, I don’t look good in spandex.
Neither does County Manager Jim Dinneen, but that doesn’t seem to stop him.
Naturally, Jimmy is a runner – it’s ostensibly a hobby, but he still finds a way to burn through public funds while he puts in the miles.
Last weekend “thousands” (although the actual number of participants is still being argued) of runners gathered at the Daytona International Speedway for the highly-touted “Daytona Half Marathon” – sponsored by DIS, Brown-n-Brown Insurance, and, well, you and me.
Yep. Mr. Dinneen is convinced the annual event will become the “next big thing” so he has no problem throwing our tax dollars into the mix.
Exactly how this expenditure of public funds benefits the greater public interest has yet to be fully explained (I’m sure it has something to do with “jobs”) – but anytime Brown-n-Brown or DIS is in the mix, it seems our hard-earned tax dollars aren’t far behind.
This year, you and I contributed some $40,000 to the Daytona Half Marathon (not counting services), money that was washed through the tax-funded Halifax Area Advertising Authority ($25,000), the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority ($15,000), and the West Volusia Advertising Authority ($5,000). (Whew! That’s a lot of advertising authorities!)
You know what gives me the pre-race diarrhea?
The fact that our elected and appointed officials have the utter gall to whine, ad nauseum, that we are completely and horribly broke in terms of transportation infrastructure funds – while we continue to throw precious tax dollars at every bullshit whim, want, and corporate welfare scheme of our uber-wealthy power brokers – and mismanage what is now a horribly bloated $800+ million-dollar annual budget.
It gets back to the age-old question of what government should do, and how much should it tax to do it?
In my view, one positive to come out of our $40K investment in Little Jimmy’s latest folly was the fact that we finally got our Volusia County council members in ‘racing suits’ – coveralls emblazoned with the names and corporate logos of their sponsors.
I’ve been advocating this for years.
Given the massive amount of corporate campaign contributions in county races, in my view, our elected officials should be required to put the insignia of their patrons on the sleeve of their jersey – right out there for everyone to see.
The symbolism of News-Journal Editor Pat Rice as the cream filling in a sandwich of council members Heather Post and Billie Wheeler, each wearing suits festooned with Brown-n-Brown, International Speedway Corporation, etc. etc. insignia, was not lost on us yokels up here in the cheap seats.
It’s what we call in the business, “bad optics.”
Speaking of the bought-and-paid-for class, Jimmy’s fun run came on the heels of the highly-feted Team Volusia Gala at the tony Mori Hosseini Center.
In a follow-up article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal entitled, “Team Volusia dinner big on enthusiasm, short on details,” business correspondent Clayton Parks wrote, “Team Volusia’s annual dinner was long on celebration but somewhat short when it came to offering details regarding how the group can take its efforts to boost the local economy to the next level.”
But the photographs which accompanied the article just oozed swank.
Our movers-and-shakers, all in their finery, rubbing elbows, air-kissing, and sipping white wine – wow – simply elegant.
I didn’t attend the soiree.
Instead, I took a somber drive around the beachside – our core tourist area, and the main economic engine of our county – and took in the unkempt streets, the blighted commercial and residential properties, the empty storefronts and weed-strewn vacant lots, the stumbling homeless, the knocked down fences with boards and slats akimbo, and the gaudy airbrushed signage on the temporary storefronts which anchor our “here today, gone tomorrow” economy where a few get fat on tax-funded ‘economic incentives’ and the rest eat shit and die.
And I thought to myself, “How in God’s holy name can these people look at themselves in the mirror after accepting awards and empty accolades for their “leadership” of this unfathomable debacle – this economic and humanitarian tragedy?”
I still don’t have an answer.
I’ll just bet they don’t either.