Volusia Politics: Cage Match, Baby!

Wow.  Really.  While we have guests over. . .?

The Clash of the Titans in Deland just hit a rolling boil – and both the tone and tenor of the discourse is dropping fast.  (Where’s my popcorn?)

The Great Chitwood/Dinneen Blood Feud of 2017 continues to spill out onto the street like a good old timey bar brawl.

Unfortunately, it comes at a time when we have a hundred thousand bikers and college students in town for their respective annual Bacchanalia – all potential customers of a “brand-immersive lifestyle” in Jimmy Buffett’s tequila-fueled faux utopia in the wetlands just west of I-95.

Well, except the college kids.

They need actual jobs to payback those soul crushing student loans, and, well, all we can offer is part-time positions folding shirts at a retail outlet – or warehouse work at a place where our demographic will support the loading dock, but not the upscale grocery it supplies.

Nothing like having friends over, then trotting out your dirty laundry and parading it around the living room.

While blowing a kazoo, crashing a cymbal and beating on a Tom-Tom.

Ah, well.  Shit happens, even in the best of families.

When I opened this morning’s Daytona Beach News-Journal and skimmed reporter Dustin Wyatt’s excellent piece, STANDOFF – Volusia County power struggle between Chitwood and Dinneen escalates, I thought for a minute there I was reading a Barker’s View blog post.

Chitwood called Dinnen a “lying sack of shit.” “I don’t want to be in the same room with that liar,” Chitwood added. Replied Dinneen: “Is he afraid of me? If he has something to say about me, he can say it to my goddamn face.”

 And things went south from there.

A politically astute friend of mine remarked that perhaps it’s time for one of those WWE Steel Cage matches – you know, a “two men enter, one man leaves” Battle Royale – to solve the issue once and for all.

I think he may be onto something.

Our County Council Chairman Ed Kelley – who throughout this mess has demonstrated the leadership skills of a wilted Lilly – proclaimed, “They need to build bridges and just get over it.”

Memo to Chairman Kelley:  The “bridges” these guys built back when this riff first became public now look like spans over the Rhine after World War II – a mass of flaming, mangled wreckage.

Now it’s up to you – as our elected Chair – to provide some frigging guidance and control (look it up in your ICCMA elected official’s handbook).

In my view, Ed can start by getting a handle on the likes of Councilman “Sleepy” Pat Patterson – who openly lied to his constituents in Sunday’s News-Journal when he pompously tut-tutted that exempting Volusia County from pending legislation to return constitutional sovereignty to the sheriff was a “done deal.”

According to Patterson, our high-priced lobbying firm in Tallahassee had already met with the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Frank Artiles, and that “he agreed to” remove Volusia from the mix.

Bullshit.

According to Sen. Artiles, “At this moment, the language does not exclude Volusia County” he said.  “(The bill) currently creates uniformity among the 67 counties in Florida.  We are willing to work with anybody and hear everyone’s opinion to make this bill better.”

 Wow, Pat.  That’s not what you told us last week?

 Talk about a lying sack of shit.

You see, Sleepy Pat is a retread politician (with an unfortunate sleep/wake cycle) who likes to use ambush-style, cheapjack tactics like – rather than advertise the people’s business on the public agenda – he strategically brings up actionable items during his goofy comments, then – as if by magic – he receives an immediate unanimous vote of the full council without so much as consulting Sheriff Chitwood, reading the text of the bill, or (cough, cough) communicating about the issue beforehand.

Pat Patterson now has all the credibility of a feral hog caught in a cage trap – it was easy getting in, grabbing some headlines and trashing Sheriff Chitwood like the sycophantic toad that he is –  but not so easy to extricate himself once the senator who actually wrote the bill called him out publicly.

Go back to sleep, Pat.  We liked you a lot better when you were pitching out of your chair like a narcoleptic bear on Ambien.  Don’t worry, Little Jimmy will bring you up-to-speed on what you need to know – when you need to know it.

While we’re on the topic – that little $1-million-dollar land purchase deep inside the city limits of Daytona Beach didn’t help the County Council’s credibility much either.

Unfortunately, (for us) our elected officials are literally paralyzed with fear and completely neutered when it comes to holding Jim Dinneen to any reasonable level of accountability.

Little Jimmy is protected by the uber-wealthy insiders – the power brokers who artificially inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into local elections and now control virtually every aspect of county government.

And you can bet your pippy Mr. Dinneen isn’t going anywhere.

Neither is Sheriff Chitwood.

As a duly elected official, the Sheriff has the political insulation of the people who voted for him – and make no mistake, Mike Chitwood is extremely popular with residents of Volusia County.

As I’ve said before, Sheriff Chitwood is passionate about what he does – and he has demonstrated incredible ethical and physical courage during his impressive public service.

Conversely, Jim Dinneen has proven – time-and-again – that he is a cheap bagman, beholden to the special interests and two-bit grifters who gorge at the public trough and have no plan to stop anytime soon.

In my view, this dispute will ultimately result in Dinneen giving Chitwood a wide berth – the freedom to administer his department without the petty micromanagement he’s known for – and Chitwood will eventually be brought to heel by a system that neither wants or needs progressive input – or any substantive change that might result in improvement to service delivery and fiscal efficiency.

At the end of the day, it’s not about We, The People.

And it’s damn sure not about improving public safety in Volusia County.

It’s about protecting the mechanism that permits the right people access to the bloated coffers of a government that has been sold to the highest bidder.

 

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