Angels & Assholes for May 27, 2017

An adage says there are two types of people in the world – doers and complainers.

I tend to agree.

Regular readers of this forum know that I am a classic faultfinder.

You know, always bitching about the way things are, comparing current situations to times gone by, and, like Roosevelt said, criticizing those in the arena, pointing out where the strongman stumbled or the doer of deeds could have done them better, quicker, more efficiently.

That guy.

I am fortunate to have friends who are not afraid to call me out and set me straight when I get too far afield.

We all need that in our lives – one or two very close friends with the wisdom to recognize our faults and foibles – and the courage to give us a helpful shove back on the track of righteousness.

If you don’t have that in your life, I suggest you start cultivating those relationships.

You can’t make old friends – and they are invaluable to a happy and healthy life.

It was recently pointed out to me by someone I trust emphatically that this blog tends to be long on grouchy complaints and short on proposing actual solutions to the myriad problems here on the Fun Coast.

He surmised that pointing out problems without a corresponding solution is just whining.

Perhaps he’s right.

I’ve thought a lot about that in recent days, and my self-centered arrogance has led me to the conclusion that there is merit in bringing difficult issues to light – then providing a contrasting opinion that challenges the status quo and looks beyond the official spin – even if I don’t have all the answers.

Hey, it’s not much – but it makes me feel relevant.

This reflection reminded me that there really are people in our community who see a problem and work hard to make a true difference.

The doers.

People like Amy Pyle, Linda Smilely and members of Citizens for Responsible Development, Mike Denis and the South Atlantic Neighborhood Association, the intrepid Paul Zimmerman and Sons of the Beach – Florida’s premiere beach advocacy effort.

The list of people working for change is long – and more names are being added each week.

Residents of the Halifax area who have had it up to here with government inefficiency, the quid pro quo corruption of our local campaign finance system and the proliferation of malignant blight and corruption.

Barker’s View is fortunate to have developed a loyal following of regular readers who sometime agree with my screeds – and sometimes vehemently disagree.

I think that’s what makes this page interesting, and furthers the important discussions.

I even get a few very nice notes and encouraging calls now and again, some from people in high places – folks you wouldn’t expect to be fans of this blog.

That’s humbling – and incredibly touching.

But like my friend reminded me, the true credit belongs to those bold souls who are actually down in the trenches making our community a better place, heroically fighting for lasting improvements, often in the face of incredible opposition by rich and powerful forces who benefit from the status quo.

That takes courage – and I, for one, salute everyone who gives such incredible effort and personal sacrifice to make the Halifax area a better place for all of us.

Wow!  Could a week have passed already?

It’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my humble opinion, either contributed to our quality of life or detracted from it in some significant way.

Let’s see who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – this week:

Angel              “Radio Mike” Johnson, The Voice of the B-CU Wildcats

Last week, we learned the sad news of the passing of Mike Johnson, former play-by-play announcer for the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats.

During his tenure at B-CU, “Radio Mike” called over 150 football and 450 basketball games. More importantly, his contributions left an indelible mark on the University – and our community.

He will be missed.

Please read Bethune-Cookman University Senior Writer Dan Ryan’s touching tribute to Mr. Johnson here:

Asshole           Reed Berger, Daytona Beach Redevelopment Director

On Wednesday, Amy Pyle posted an outstanding piece on the Daytona Beach University Facebook page, entitled: “Open Communication: Chamber Members and City Staff Walk the Beachside.”

If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do.

Ms. Pyle does an excellent job of recounting a recent walking tour of the ruins of Daytona’s beachside by Chamber and City officials, accompanied by several concerned residents.

In my view, walks and windshield assessments like this are invaluable.

Why?  Because it’s hard to quibble the facts with your constituents when the sights and smells of blight and dilapidation are staring you in the face – up close and personal.

According to Ms. Pyle:

“As I speak to City staff about these problems, I get the feeling A: They have never seen many of the issues before, even though they have stood for decades, and B: The broken-down look of the entire area almost seems acceptable to them.  I felt I had to stress, over-and-over again, why these problems are detracting for new business and creating an image of Daytona Beach that none of us can be proud of.”

Acceptable?  That chaps my ass.

Let’s be honest.  With over a decade in office, Daytona Beach Redevelopment Director Reed Berger has done absolutely nothing to change the downward spiral of large swaths of the community – to include the nightmare that has been the Main Street redevelopment area.

I, for one, am sick and tired of watching Mr. Berger stand around like a neutered dog, stroking the elected officials and agreeing with concerned residents that we have a problem – while doing absolutely nothing to correct it.

Look, I understand that the redevelopment and revitalization of a suburban wasteland takes time.

But isn’t 10-years of complete inactivity enough?

At some point, don’t responsible elected officials and municipal administrators come to the realization that perhaps the City’s Redevelopment Director should be held personally responsible for – I dunno – Redevelopment?

In my view, it took the Daytona Beach News-Journal to bring substantive attention to the deplorable condition and open corruption that doomed our beachside and core tourist areas – and I have publicly supported the City’s new code enforcement initiatives – but it is high time that those who accept public funds to serve in the public interest are held accountable.

We simply cannot move forward with the same tired ideas and lack of organizational enthusiasm embodied by the likes of Reed Berger and others whose ineptitude is on full display literally everywhere you look.

My view: Time for a change.

Asshole           County of Volusia

This week the Daytona Beach Shores City Commission made a sound defensive move in their burgeoning Battle Royale with the County of Volusia, who is intent on paving over some extremely valuable real estate east of A-1-A for beach parking.

(How else are they going to remove beach driving once and for all?)

For a small coastal community like the Shores, vertical growth represents the lifeblood of the City’s tax base – and, in my view, anything that threatens that deserves a hard fight.

The Shores City Council – in a 3-2 vote – passed an ordinance which would prohibit the development of parking lots east of State Road A-1-A – which is exactly where Volusia County wants to put “off beach” parking on property it purchased several years ago with public funds (read: our money) totaling some $4.25 million.

In April, the Volusia County Council gave a unanimous middle finger to the good citizens of Daytona Beach Shores when they nixed a request for a park and other amenities, which would have helped to salve over the loss of some $200,000 in municipal tax revenues.

Unfortunately, the Shores City Council was somewhat more divided in their response.

Vice-Mayor Peggy Rice and Councilman Richard Bryan voted against the ordinance.

While Rice expressed fears about changing the city’s land development code during negotiations with the County – Mr. Bryan still believes there is room for compromise.

Trust me.  Volusia County government is not in the habit of “negotiating” or “compromising” with anyone.

County Attorney Dan Eckert will put his boot on the citizens’ collective throat and forcibly bleed this small community for as long as it takes to put 190 parking spaces on the county’s property.

Don’t like it?  Tough shit.

The Volusia County Council is comprised of some the most openly dumb politicians ever to grace a public dais – but they are smart enough to do as they are told.

The citizens of Daytona Beach Shores should know that they are in for a long and nasty fight – and, in the end, it will get down to the ugly fact that Volusia County can, and will, outspend you.

Isn’t that the textbook definition of “justice” in 2017?

The side with the most money wins by attrition.

Remember this the next time Billie Wheeler asks for your trust.

Angel              Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly

If there was ever a law enforcement agency in need of strong, ethical and effective leadership it is the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.

To say that former Sheriff Jim Manfre was a soup sandwich is an understatement – and the good men and women of the department deserved better.

Earlier this week, three FCSO detention deputies resigned following an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into allegations of sexual misconduct with an inmate of the Flagler County Jail.

I applaud Sheriff Staly’s quick action.

Following Manfre’s near constant ethical missteps and administrative blunders, some of which resulted in massive lawsuits, the agency was left with a sullied image.

And that’s unfortunate.

Sheriff Rick Staley is a veteran law enforcement officer with a difficult responsibility: Restoring the public’s trust in his office – and his deputies.

By bringing in an outside agency to investigate serious accusations of official misconduct – charges that could truly undermine the agency’s professional credibility – Sheriff Staly demonstrated that he is committed to transparency and accountability.

Speaking in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Sheriff Staly said, “I was elected to bring strong ethical practices and leadership to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.  This bad behavior tarnishes the badge and will not be tolerated under my administration.”

In my view, Sheriff Staly’s aggressive response to domestic violence, drugs, and the growing problem of violent crime in Flagler County is impressive – and he has populated the Sheriff’s Office with some of the finest, and most respected, law enforcement professionals in the region.

This includes Under Sheriff Jack Bisland, a retired FDLE agent and veteran of the Office of the State Attorney, who is perhaps the best criminal investigator I have ever known.

Kudos to Sheriff Staly as he sets a very positive tone for his new administration.

Quote of the Week:

“Why hurry to pass the ordinance now? You’re basically pouring oil on the fire.  I think some grownups need to get involved and find a solution short of court action. We can find a win-win situation.”

–Daytona Beach Shores Councilman and Hapless Victim Richard Bryan, speaking to the Daytona Beach News-Journal on why he believes it best to capitulate and compromise with a bully – rather than fight like a Mad Dog for the rights and welfare of his constituents.

Here’s one thing we can all agree upon:  Let’s join together in recognizing and honoring the enormous sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price of freedom.

Have a reflective Memorial Day Weekend, my friends.




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