This piece was originally published on April 7, 2017, in the immediate aftermath of County Manager Jim Dinneen’s surprise announcement that Summit Hospitality Group would be requesting a franchise change for the languishing Desert Inn/Westin/Hard Rock project – to include an extension of the completion date to February 28, 2018.
If the performance standards set in the ordinance were not met by that date, we were assured that beach driving would not be removed from the strand behind the hotel.
It is increasingly clear that construction on the “Hard Rock” won’t be completed by the date specified in the ordinance.
Now, we will get a unique opportunity to see who’s interests our elected officials – and county attorney – really represent as the bait-and-switch games begin.
How stupid do they think we are?
When it comes to the intrigues of the Volusia County Council, I’ve had my intelligence insulted more than once – so have you – but Thursday’s “breaking news” act by County Manager Jim Dinneen takes the cake.
Hell, it takes the whole damn bakery.
Just after the prayer and pledge, Sneaky Jimmy creeped his way onto the dais, leaned over Chairman Ed Kelley’s shoulder – speaking sotto voce – and gave Old Ed his marching orders for some whale shit-level political flimflam.
It’s amazing what a microphone picks up, eh?
Jimmy: (Whispering) “Mr. Chair, I want to bring up the thing with Abbas.”
Jimmy: “And then we start right after consent – before you get into the public hearing.”
Ed: “Bring it in then?”
Jimmy: “Yeah. So it’ll be – right before we do public hearing – before you do number two (yeah). If you’ll give it to me I’ll introduce him and tell about the letter we got on the Hard Rock – okay?”
What happened next was something straight out of a Theater of the Absurd – with you and I playing the starring role of the hapless dupes who are supposed to be overtly astonished by the grand revelations of the Boss Clown.
As directed by his handler, Chairman Kelley dutifully threw it to Little Jimmy right on Que.
With all the dramatic flair of a fart in church, Mr. Dinneen proceeded to tell us what we all knew in our heart-of-hearts was coming, sooner or later:
It appears that Mr. Abbas Abdulhussein, the owner of Summit Hospitality Group, who for over two-years now has been renovating that haunted house formerly known as the Desert Inn into what we were originally told would be a “4-Star” Westin hotel – a languishing project that looks like it’s being finished by two guys working on weekends – needs more time.
Among other things.
According to Little Jimmy, Mr. Adbulhussein is requesting an extension of the date of completion – and permission to change the franchise from Westin to – wait for it – Hard Rock.
Something about Starwood Hotels being sold to Marriott Corporation, yada, yada, yada.
Hummmm. What difference would that make?
Something tells me there’s more to that story than meets the eye. . .
Regardless – when the announcement was made, the room fell apart in over-the-top ebullience and unbridled joy.
The cheers, applause and faux excitement in the chamber added weight and drama to Little Jimmy’s “Grand Reveal.”
Just eight months after Canadian developer Henry Wolfond packed up his troubles in his old kit bag and publicly called us all a bunch of obstructionist assholes for not bending over for his elegant plan to bring a Hard Rock hotel and condominium to Daytona Beach – at the expense of having even more beach driving areas removed – it looks like we’re getting one anyway.
In 2015, the county council passed an ordinance which would remove traffic from 410 linear feet of the beach behind the Desert Inn, so long as certain extremely specific performance guarantees were met.
The developers agreed to complete the project, with the Westin name confirmed and all standards for opening met by May 7, 2017.
If Summit failed to meet this exacting deadline, we were promised by our elected officials that the deal would be off the table and there would be no curtailment of beach driving. Period.
But since when did things like “date certain” or “standards of performance” mean a twiddling-shit in Volusia County?
Just one month before the drop-dead date of May 7th – Jim Dinneen once again throws one of his patented “Surprise Partys” – bringing an incredibly controversial issue before the council – completely outside the printed agenda – and cloaked as some “This just in – Breaking news!” bullshit to deflect attention from his true intentions.
It’s public policy by ambush, and Jim Dinneen is a past-master at it.
Then, the very people we have elected to represent our collective interests, immediately succumb to excited incontinence and piss all over themselves in mock surprise and jubilation – immediately voicing their complete and utter support for the developer’s request without hearing the first shred of testimony, analyzing a statement of need, or even receiving a basic explanation for the extension request.
Then, in some weird spontaneous utterance, that doddering fool Ed Kelley blurts out that he would prefer that the amended ordinance – authorizing every substantive change the developer asked for and more – should include an open-ended completion date, you know, in case we have a hurricane or other “Act of God.”
(Trust me. If God were in anyway involved in this farce, the Desert Inn would have been publicly razed during an ancient exorcism ritual and the earth beneath it incinerated to cleanse the horrific atrocities that ruined the lives of so many children within its cursed walls.)
In similar fashion, the mean-spirited Councilwoman Deb Deny’s, and the unfortunate “Sleepy” Pat Patterson, quickly got in on the Desert Inn/Westin/Hard Rock orgy of adulation – fawning and cooing about how “fantastic” it all is – and ensuring us yokels, for the umpteenth time, how this panacea project will be the nostrum for all the ills and horrors of Daytona’s festering beachside.
In my view, this political bait-and-switch serves as a crystal example of why nothing – and I mean nothing – these shit-heels say can be trusted.
In their world, the uber-rich power brokers pull the strings – and promises, hard deadlines and specific standards of performance mean nothing.
To our elected officials, these exacting requirements are no more than an arbitrary whim – empty words designed to calm the immediate fears and concerns of the villagers, knowing full-well that when the time is right, they will openly lie to us and simply pass “amended legislation” which will allow the developer du jour anything and everything he desires – including the removal of our heritage of beach driving.
In Volusia County, nothing is as it seems – and “standards” are meaningless.
Having read the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s exposé on the squalor that is Daytona’s beachside, I’ve come to the following conclusion:
The reason no one wants to throw good money after bad down this festering cesspool is that they have watched the skimming by special interests and influential insiders – and they have seen first-hand the abject corruption inherent to the process that has made Volusia County generally – and Daytona Beach specifically – look like a fucking Banana Republic.
The open chicanery and bald-ass lies we have been subjected to by these wobbling fools we elected represents the worst form of political cowardice and treachery.
Rather than hold firm to the promises they made to the people of Volusia County – or even have the common human decency to advertise this incredibly contentious issue and allow public input before aggressively supporting the change request – this Confederacy of Dunces sells us out at the first opportunity.
In perhaps the most egregious slap in the face to Volusia County residents since former Councilman Josh Wagner turned-tail and stabbed us in the collective back on the beach driving issue, that excruciatingly pompous ass, Councilwoman Deb Denys, was quick to make a motion placing Summit’s wants and whims on the very next council agenda for April 20, 2017.
This from the same Deb Denys who, at an April 2015 News-Journal political forum, stated unequivocally that she would never vote to have cars taken off the beach behind the Westin.
In the video, Denys bravely crowed, “So I am on record. I’m not changing. I have the courage of my convictions. Even if I’m the one vote.”
Yep. It’s amazing what a microphone picks up – and keeps for all eternity, eh Deb?
In my view, these scumbags have taken our faith in the best traditions of government and democracy and shit on them, repeatedly abandoning their sacred responsibilities to the people who elevated them to high office and power – pissing backwards on their promises and putting a dubious “letter of intent” from Hard Rock corporate over the true wants and needs of their long-suffering constituents.
There is much more to this sordid story, folks – trust me – all is not as it seems.
Still need empirical evidence as to why not one incumbent on the Volusia County Council should be retained?
4 thoughts on “Best of Barker’s View – On Volusia: A Confederacy of Dunces”
im not surprised at all. need to completely clean house of all of them, then pick out enough homeless folks and let them run the city. i guarantee itll be an extremely better experience from that point on.
the minute I saw the nj article I knew they were screwing us….now I know how….thanks….
The general manager for the contractor working on the Desert Inn project appeared at our Belair Community Group meeting months ago (when it was still slated to become a Weston) and said that he didn’t think his backers were making a good investment. Maybe that’s why we’re now seeing them back out and a “new” pool of money/influence appear in the form of Hard Rock. Hope springs eternal!
It’s very obvious that A LOT OF MONEY exchanged hands in the previous Hard Rock promotion and a whole lot of nothing came of it. Guess they figure that Hard Rock worked so well once, it can again. And considering the source it probably will.