On Volusia: Destroying the “Brand”

When you look at successful businesses and organizations they all have one thing in common – they get the small things right.

All the time.

For instance, if you take a trip to any Disney property, you can tell that customer service and satisfaction has been studied down to the subliminal level – sights, sounds, color, texture, aroma, lighting, host interaction, atmosphere – all carefully crafted to ensure that each guest receives the same consistently pleasant experience.

Every time.

Flexibility is reserved for those dealing with incidents of customer dissatisfaction, accidents and service disruption.

The core standards of the brand are never compromised for any reason.

This laser focus on the comprehensive “customer experience” is true of successful restaurants, retail outlets and vacation destinations.

Trust me.  This doesn’t happen by accident.

Success is universally the result of effective professional management and oversight which ensures the impeccable standards, values and ideals associated with the destination are adhered to by every person and entity associated with the “brand” – all the time – constantly and emphatically.

Without identifiable standards, chaos ensues.

When the carefully crafted system is subjected to favoritism and undue influence – the natural result is disorder and turmoil.  Equilibrium can only be restored by harmony and balance.

The same holds true for “successful” governments.

The development of acceptable regulations – followed by fair and consistent enforcement – serves to uphold standards and enhances the quality of life and marketability of the community.

Ask yourself this question:  Does any of this resemble the “Daytona Beach Resort Area”?

Hell, does any of this resemble Volusia County government?

In my view, the Daytona Beach News-Journal has done outstanding work of late.

Their ‘Tarnished Jewel’ series documenting the historic mismanagement and colossal incompetence of our beachside Community Redevelopment Areas – negligence that saw hundreds-of-millions pissed away over 30-years – coupled with the City of Daytona Beach’s quick response to correcting these deficiencies – shows the benefits of bringing difficult issues into the sunlight.

City officials are going back and reexamining what works – and what doesn’t.

They are dusting-off and updating tired ordinances, developing innovative code enforcement strategies and giving officials the tools and support they need for success.

Most important – they are holding those responsible accountable.

Last week, the City of Daytona Beach announced that it is aggressively pursuing some $4.46-million in past due fines and fees from some 395 violators – with nearly 300 of those owing more than $10,000.

The sad reality is that each of these violations represent a dilapidated – even dangerous – structure, many of which are being used as commercial rental properties, and all of which bring down adjacent property values and erode community standards.

That effects all of us.

It’s easy to point a finger at the police department or code enforcement officials – but the reality is, the blame lies squarely at the feet of elected officials who have historically lacked the vision and foresight to set community priorities – then insist that the city’s administration direct assets to enforce and maintain those standards.

As I said earlier this week, Daytona Beach City Commissioner Aaron Delgado is proving to be the kind of change agent we have needed in local government for far too long.  His ‘See a need and take charge’ attitude, and unique ability to build consensus on difficult issues like homelessness and code enforcement are truly impressive.

I believe that effective revitalization efforts and the power of creativity and enthusiasm can be just as contagious as cancerous blight.

The key is strong and effective management – something that is universally accepted as Problemo Numero Uno here on the Fun Coast.

For instance, for the past decade, County Manager Jim Dinneen has proven that his lock-step loyalty to deep-pocketed political insiders – coupled with the near continuous bullying of the municipalities – is counter-productive and contrary to progress.

Don’t believe me?  Take a look around.

Why are our elected officials so afraid of positive change?

When pressed, County Chairman Ed Kelley falls back to his goofy corn-pone delivery and points to worn out “accomplishments” and tax-funded private projects which continue to create and expand an artificial economy totally dependent upon the infusion of public funds.

All while our core tourist district rusts and rots into oblivion.

No vision.  No leadership.  No hope.

I challenge anyone in a position of authority to look at the condition of the Daytona Beach Boardwalk – and other areas where beach driving has been removed – and study the malignant blight that is literally destroying one of America’s great tourist destinations, right before our collective eyes.

It is time to face the hard facts that the failed ideas of those who control our collective fate – the Five Families of Volusia County who pass the same nickel around – are ruining our “brand” and diminishing our quality of life with their self-serving edicts and focus on profits over progress.

If you haven’t seen first-hand the desolation of a private beach, I suggest you visit one.

These barren places are the antithesis of a tourist destination.

And all the off-beach parking lots in the world won’t change that.

Folks, I know I can sound like a broken record – but I am convinced that by bringing attention to our deficits we can grow and become something stronger than we were before.

We simply cannot accomplish that with the failed leadership, gross mismanagement and lack of effective vision that has brought us to this tragic place.

Hell, our current administration has proven they can’t manage a portable toilet emergency on the beach – let alone access and development issues.

I guess Mori and Hyatt haven’t gotten together and given Jim direction on the matter just yet. . .

In my view, the solution to our collective problems begin and end with effective management – not exorbitantly paid posers who lack the will, creativity and vision to speak truth to power and begin the difficult process of correcting the sins of the past.


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