It’s time once again for Uncle Mark to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my view, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way during the week that was.
Now, let’s see who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – this week:
Asshole: Sen. Frank Artiles (R-Miami-Dade)
The architect of important legislation that may have ultimately returned constitutional sovereignty to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, despite the open obstruction of County insiders and lobbyists, has lost all credibility – and rightly so.
Last month, we learned that Sen. Frank Artiles, a state legislator from Miami-Dade, has become a frequent flyer on aircraft owned by lobbyists of Florida Power & Light – including a February junket to the Daytona 500 and Disney’s Epcot theme park for something called the “Drinking around the world showcase.”
Then, on Monday night – during an after-hours session at Tallahassee’s exclusive, members-only Governor’s Club – Artiles directed racial, and particularly offensive gender-specific epithets, toward Sen. Audrey Gibson.
When Sen. Perry Thurston intervened, Artiles continued his rant, blaming “six n_____” for allowing Republican Sen. Joe Negron’s rise to power.
When the Florida Legislative Black Caucus appropriately called for Artiles head – he attempted to mitigate blame by claiming he grew up in a racially diverse community where, “We share each other’s customs, cultures and vernacular.”
No, ya don’t, Senator.
For a politician who showed so much promise, Frank Artiles should know when it’s time to take his leave.
Resign, you scumbag.
Asshole: The DeBary City Council
Last year, I began a series of frustrated posts under the header, “The Debacle in DeBary” – an apt descriptor, I thought, for perhaps one of the most blatant examples of political stupidity and unchecked hubris ever foisted upon an unsuspecting small town.
This Greek tragedy has everything – greed, abject corruption, incompetence, betrayal and ineptitude – which ultimately culminated in four nitwits – elected officials who abandoned their responsibilities to their constituents, ignored our democratic principles, and confederated with a compromised city manager to oust the city’s duly-elected Mayor on trumped-up “charter violations.”
Now, the DeBary City Council – with three new council members in place – inexplicably voted this week to retain Ron McLemore as interim city manager.
In my view, McLemore is a contemptuous dirtbag who openly lied to the council during his job interview when he attempted to mitigate serious, and still unresolved, sexual harassment charges stemming from his employment with the City of Daytona Beach.
While McLemore is high in the running for “Asshole of the Year” – this week, the award goes to the DeBary City Council for approving a convoluted agreement which, among other atrocities, allows McLemore to spend just three days a week in the office while continuing his annual salary, equivalent to $130,000.
Ignoring the fact that it was upper echelon employees who got them in this ugly and on-going shit-storm in the first place, the DeBary City Council apparently relied on the fawning accolades of their department heads – the very same senior staff members who orchestrated the Gemini Springs disaster, testified in the city’s kangaroo court to jettison the mayor, and sat idle while a developer churned ecologically sensitive wetlands into primordial ooze with absolutely no accountability – when they sealed the deal with McLemore.
With an on-going criminal investigation, at least two federal lawsuits by former employees, crippling and compounding legal fees, and a vicious court fight with duly-elected Mayor Clint Johnson, the City of DeBary needs a strong, stable and effective executive to lead them toward the light.
Not an overpaid, part-time shit-heel with a proven track record of deception and creepy personal habits in the workplace.
How tragic. How utterly tragic.
Angel: The Daytona Beach News-Journal Editorial Board
As regular readers know, I don’t often agree with the opinions of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – but when they get it right – they deserve our accolades and appreciation.
On the heels of Eileen Zaffiro-Kean’s praiseworthy exposé on the trials and tribulations of Daytona’s blighted beachside, in my view, the newspaper hit it out of the park with the recent op/ed, “No more surprises for County Council.”
As I stated earlier this week, county manager Jim Dinneen’s outrageous conduct, and his continuing efforts to keep our elected officials in the dark on important policy matters, has left council members looking like a troop of out-of-touch clodhoppers with a cognitive disorder.
This cannot continue.
It is one thing for Mr. Dinneen to continue hammering away at beach driving, ramrodding the whims of his uber-wealthy handlers, and feathering the nests of every speculative developer and political insider in town.
It is quite another when he blatantly lies to our elected officials, thrusts blame for his political pratfalls on hapless department heads and mysterious “computer glitches,” while keeping everyone guessing about his motives.
These behind-the-scenes machinations erode public confidence in their government – and that simply cannot be tolerated.
It is time that our elected officials find the moral backbone and strength of character to terminate Jim Dinneen’s deplorable services and restore public trust in the county manager’s office.
Asshole: County Council Chairman Ed Kelley
Earlier this week, the Volusia County Council resurrected the ostentatious practice of packing the Ocean Center with local politicians, their respective camarillas, and various hangers-on, for a “free lunch” and tall tales about how wonderful we have it here on the Fun Coast.
And County Chair Ed Kelley didn’t disappoint the faithful.
The extravagant $20,000 to $30,000 soiree – apparently paid for by some of the biggest recipients of the County’s bountiful largesse – was long on feel-good pap and fluff – and short on the realities of our collective situation.
From Votran to homelessness to blight and dilapidation to beach access to Jim Dinneen’s cockamamie cycle of bloopers and political gaffes, I’m afraid there is very little we can take pride in – and recycling tired “achievements” like JetBlue and in-progress FDOT projects doesn’t inspire confidence.
Let’s hope our “new” County Council can find a way to pull their collective head out of their backside and use this embarrassing period in our history to full advantage, change perspective, and work to find real solutions to the serious economic and social problems facing Volusia County.
Asshole: Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys
During what is being described by the News-Journal as “tense talk” on the First Step Shelter proposal by Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry, Councilwoman Deb Denys came unhinged.
Without warning or provocation, Denys viciously attacked Mayor Henry from the dais – launching into a personal assault and making a bizarre claim that Mr. Henry threatened a homeless sit-in at this summer’s Shriner’s Convention at the Ocean Center if she didn’t acquiesce to his demands for a compassionate solution to the homeless crisis.
Trust me. It was weird.
Councilwoman Denys went into great detail about how she physically threw Mayor Henry out of her office – then bounced him from the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Center – before running breathless to a county attorney who was loitering in the hallway to tattle.
Clearly, Ms. Denys used this important presentation as a prime opportunity to disrupt proceedings, focus attention on herself, and misconstrue the Mayor’s warnings as a means of nasty political posturing.
In my view, Councilwoman Denys’ highly disrespectful display represents the very nadir of political arrogance – and perfectly exemplifies the depth of dysfunction that has irreparably damaged the county’s relationship with the municipalities.
Angels: Sons of the Beach
Kudos to Paul Zimmerman, David Lee Davis, Ken Strickland, Linda Bourquin-McIntyre and other members of the Sons of the Beach for their eloquent and very passionate defense of our heritage of beach driving at this week’s County Council meeting.
Speaking on the issue of Summit Hospitality Groups failed efforts to open a “4 Star” Westin Hotel on the site of that haunted house formerly known as the Desert Inn, the members of Daytona’s premier beach advocacy group worked diligently to convince our elected officials that radical changes suggested by the developer violate the provisions of a 2015 ordinance which set in law that beach driving would not be removed from the strand behind the project if specific performance metrics were not met.
They weren’t. But when did that mean anything here on the Fun Coast?
The intrepid Linda Bourquin-McIntyre dropped a MOAB when she announced that, in fact, Summit Hospitality does not have a contract with Hard Rock – merely a cheap ‘letter of intent’ from the brand.
Of course, it was a fait accompli when Mr. J. Hyatt Brown ominously rose before his hired hands on the dais and gave them their marching orders. Strange how just the physical appearance of one of our High Panjandrums of Political Power at a council meeting seems to settle issues very quickly. . .
I’ll have more on this debacle next week – but please join me in commending the extraordinary efforts of Sons of the Beach.
Better yet, make a financial donation to assist with legal fees and other expenses related to the on-going fight to preserve beach driving in Volusia County.
Asshole: Volusia County Councilman “Sleepy” Pat Patterson
How dare “Sleepy” Pat chastise that doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, for allowing long-suffering Volusia County residents to express their appreciation by applause for movement on the issue of chronic homelessness?
During Thursday’s County Council meeting – following an encore performance of the Theatre of the Absurd – Chairman Kelley brought the First Step Shelter presentation to a close – prompting members of the audience to clap and show their collective gratitude that the matter would (finally) be negotiated by city and county officials.
In turn, Councilman Patterson openly ripped Mr. Kelley’s knickers – growling, “Your job as a chair is to make sure there is proper decorum in here when it comes to the audience.”
Interesting, at the previous meeting – when the developer and Jim Dinneen ambushed us with the grand reveal that Summit Hospitality would be seeking a franchise change on the languishing Desert Inn/Weston project to a Hard Rock – the council chambers fell apart with applause, cheers, catcalls, excited incontinence and over-the-top ebullience.
Without a peep from Pat Patterson asking that “proper decorum” be observed.
Quote of the Week:
“This deal represents a substantial leap forward (for Daytona Beach), and we need to take advantage of this.”
–J. Hyatt Brown, speaking before the Volusia County Council moments before our elected officials gave the developer everything he wanted – and then some.
Have a great weekend, folks!