Welcome to Spring 2017!
As usual, in Volusia County, everything is coming up roses!
This morning I read an interesting piece in the Daytona Beach News-Journal heralding the return of the haughty “State of the County Address” – a useless non-event, specifically tailored to assuage the out-of-control egos of our elected and appointed officials in Deland – while they blow hot smoke up our collective ass about how well we are all doing.
The price tag?
Don’t worry about it.
(But it’s more than the per capita income here on the Fun Coast.)
The $20,000 to $30,000 cost of a really nice lunch is being covered by the municipalities and some of the very companies who routinely benefit from Volusia County’s “economic development” largess.
We’re told the only expense for county taxpayers is the loss of productivity by staff – who have apparently been working since January to put the arm on the cities for $250 each – you know, communities that have suffered the daily abuse and bullying of county government for the past decade – and, of course, corporate sponsors with familiar names.
According to the News-Journal, to-date, the county has received over $22,000 in funding for this magnificent Celebration of our Greatness from ICI Homes, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida Hospital, Halifax Health System, Daytona International Automall, and “more.”
Question: How is it that some of the very entities who have the abject gall to stand in front of the County Council crying like Ma and Pa Joad to wheedle millions of our tax dollars, half-price land deals, and other corporate welfare can, in turn, squander thousands of dollars for nonsensical, zero-return bullshit like this?
I think they call it, “poor optics.”
It’s like running into someone who owes you a bunch of money enjoying a nice bottle of Beckstoffer Cabernet with their Filetto al Barolo e Porcini at The Cellar.
Four years ago, former County Chair Jason Davis – in perhaps the only constructive decision of his tenure – reigned-in this silly event, which had been puffed into an ostentatious display during the Bruno administration, and moved the ‘address’ to the council chambers where it belongs.
If it belongs.
“You went from something that had about 500 people to something that had about 50 people,” said County Manager Jim Dinneen.
Did anybody miss it?
Well, if nothing else, it gives our county staff a chance to open up and air-out the Ocean Center – which hasn’t drawn a crowd since the big reptile breeders banquet we were all so giddy about.
According to our exalted County Chair Ed Kelley, “I felt like (this event at the Ocean Center) was always well-received by the public,” adding that he hopes for a similar reception this time.
“I hope (the public) is able to see what the county has accomplished throughout the year and see the direction this county wants to go in.”
I’ll bet you do, Ed.
The fact is, “The Public” could care less.
In a past life, I was routinely forced to attend this annual event and found it populated by stuffed-shirt politicos, appointed officials, bored staff members, ‘economic development’ types, and every resort town grifter with access to a public nipple, all schmoozing it up with a bunch of preening elected officials. (Those in the know, tell me I’m wrong?)
What I didn’t see was Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public – or anyone else who had an actual life outside of local politics.
Look, regular readers of this forum know that I’m not a glass-half-full kind of guy – especially when it comes to the machinations of Volusia County government.
But do we really need to resurrect this over-the-top soiree just to hear Ed Kelley tell us how great it is that we used $2.3-million tax dollars – including pledges from Daytona Beach businesses to buy tickets – to payoff JetBlue?
Besides, wasn’t that deal inked in 2015?
How many county chairmen get to take credit for that pearl in the sow’s ear?
Maybe our Chairman can explain the county’s complete inability to work with the cities to find a compassionate solution to chronic homelessness?
Now that’s something I’d like to hear.
Oh, well – I suppose there is one positive to these awkward – though grandiose – gala’s celebrating the magnificence and self-importance of those we elect to do the public’s business:
It serves to remind us why we will hold-up our collective middle-finger to the powers that be the next time they whine the blues and tell us scary stories about the need for a half-cent tax increase for transportation infrastructure – or anything else.
After all, any government organization that can demand, then piss-away, some $30,000 dollars for a self-congratulatory luncheon can damn well afford just about anything they find important.
Note to Chairman Kelley: The benefits of a lavish State of the County address are lost on us uncultivated rubes who gaze in amazement at the cringe-worthy state of affairs in Deland – where our Sheriff has rightfully and openly exposed our County Manager as a “lying sack of shit” on the front page of the newspaper – and we keep rehashing corporate welfare projects and an increasingly artificial economy as “progress.”
Frankly, given our current imbroglios – it really is poor optics – either pure arrogance, or utter denial.
Neither of which instill confidence in our elected leadership during these difficult, and embarrassing, times.