Angels and Assholes for June 16, 2017

Hi, Kids!

You know, I’m the first to admit – I don’t have all the answers.

Truth be told, I’m just as clueless as the next guy when it comes to formulating lasting solutions to the difficult, often intractable, problems we communally face here on the Fun Coast.

But that doesn’t stop me from complaining. . .

Fortunately, there are a few people in Volusia County who have the will, vision and strength of character to stand for high office – then actually live up to their campaign promises and work in the public interest to improve our quality of life and nurture true economic development.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with Daytona Beach City Commissioner Aaron Delgado when Barker’s View visited Govstuff Live with Big John.

In fact, despite my goofy interjections, I thought it was a pretty good two-hours of substantive local radio.

During our discussion of wide-ranging topics from homelessness, to aggressive code enforcement and the opioid epidemic – I found that Mr. Delgado has a fresh perspective and a courageous willingness to speak his mind, even when his views do not necessarily comport with the boat anchor policies of politically correct groupthink.

That’s refreshing – and the kind of creative leadership we’re going to need if we have any hope of clawing our way out of this shit-pit of blight, dilapidation and crushing governmental ineptitude.

In what has become a virtual mantra on this blogsite – I have had my fill of self-serving (often self-enriching) politicians that continue to stand in direct opposition to progress – especially in areas that have a day-to-day devastating effect on our quality of life.

For instance, how anyone could openly oppose a compassionate shelter option for homeless persons – a hard-fought plan that brought together thirty-two faith-based congregations representing over 30,000 residents, municipal governments, diverse social service organizations and people from all walks of life who are dedicated to making Volusia County better than it is – strikes me as wrongheaded and counter-productive.

Especially when that opposition comes from officials elected by the people to work in our collective interest.

Yet, this week Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys – followed in lockstep by the Very Reverend Fred Lowry (who apparently played hooky the day they taught humility and compassion at the seminary) – voted to oppose the First Step shelter project citing increasingly dubious nuts-and-bolts arguments which, frankly, no longer make sense.

“Sleepy” Pat Patterson was absent.

At the end of the day, the forces of that which is right and good prevailed – and we are finally moving forward with tangible solutions to this incredibly vexing problem.

I hope you will join me in congratulating those members of the Daytona Beach City Commission and the Volusia County Council who had the foresight and courage to stand with the clear majority of residents to support this important first step in alleviating the devastating social and economic effects of homelessness.

Well, alrighty then!

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 – during the week that was:

Angel              Volusia Council Chairman Ed Kelley

Look, no one has been more hyper-critical of Chairman Ed Kelley than me – and for good reason.

However, I thought he showed sound leadership in emphasizing the positive during the First Step shelter vote.

Rather than build a wall of political insulation, you know, the “I hope it works and you prove my whining and nay-saying wrong, but if it doesn’t work, I’m on record as having said, “I told you so” tack of the incredibly self-serving and mean-spirited Deb Denys – Chairman Kelley struck a tone of cooperation and consensus building – something that will be sorely needed in the months to come.

Rather than focus on himself – or take selfish credit for the shelter project – Mr. Kelley steadfastly championed those who committed themselves to finding solutions and helped to develop a unified vision.

Then, he reassured his constituents – the ones who will pay the bills with their hard-earned tax dollars – that the project “Will Work.”

In my view, that is just the kind of positivity and top-shelf support this project deserves.

Asshole:          Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys

If there is one consistent obstruction to substantive progress on the myriad issues facing residents of Volusia County it is the abject arrogance of Councilwoman Deb Denys.

On issues large and small, Ms. Denys always finds a way to protect “the system” – to ensure the best interests of county government are protected, while the true needs and wants of her constituents are ignored or openly opposed.

From her bald-faced lie on preserving beach driving, to her blatant obstruction of a compassionate solution to homelessness, Deb Denys exemplifies all that’s wrong in Deland.

As Councilwoman Joyce Cusack led the majority vote approving county funding for the First Step shelter – an intractable Denys voted in opposition – then continued to grandstand with her self-important “prove me wrong” challenge.

Screw that.  How about helping for a change?

After countless years and setbacks, public, private and faith-based organizations came together to see a plan to fruition that will, for once, provide basic shelter for homeless persons and serve as a catalyst for alleviating an issue that has hampered true economic development and contributed to the malignant blight that effects all of us.

How do you oppose that?

In addition, at the same meeting, Ms. Denys gave us all a brief glimpse into the future when she openly voiced her support for increasing beach access fees for out-of-county visitors – you know, the “tourists” we’re always crowing about – and spending to attract.

How terribly sad.

As usual, Deb – thanks for nothing.

Asshole           Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen

 It’s patently obvious that I’m not the brightest bulb in the box – but I know when something stinks – and this “land-share” deal between the City of Daytona Beach and Volusia County reeks.

In March, with zero public input, the Volusia County Council approved a mysterious deal concocted by County Manager Jim Dinneen to spend $970,000 taxpayer dollars for 34 parking spaces fronting Main Street deep in the City of Daytona Beach, effectively removing the parcel from the tax rolls in perhaps the City’s most economically depressed redevelopment area.

This weird deal was shot through the grease so fast that even City Manager Jim Chisholm – and members of the County Council – were caught flatfooted and left looking like a passel of rubes with a collective cognitive disorder.

Our input wasn’t required – and apparently the say of our elected officials wasn’t important either – only their vote to approve.

Now, we are led to believe that Mr. Chisholm has had a cosmically strange change of heart – and his reasoning just added confusion to the conundrum of why it is necessary to spend nearly one-million of our tax dollars for a few parking spaces for the wholly underutilized Ocean Center complex.

According to Chisholm, At this point it’s a holding place that’s being provided by the county until we have a development plan that could perhaps change it. That’s their intent.”

Oh, and Daytona can use it for parking whenever they want – and if the right developer comes along – the county has agreed to sell it in the interest of progress.

A holding place?

For $970,000 tax dollars?

Look, even though a parking lot wasn’t part of the “long-term vision” for Main Street – at the end of the day – Friends Bank (who just happened to be represented in the deal by now Deputy City Manager Jim Morris in his previous life as a real estate attorney) will make a pretty penny, and you and I will be left holding the bag for another dubious, overpriced land purchase orchestrated by the preternaturally self-serving  Jimmy Dinneen.

Kudos to Daytona Beach Commissioner Aaron Delgado for having the foresight to postpone formal action on this steaming turd until more information is known.

They say that everything is revealed in time.

I can’t wait to see who is actually benefiting from this burgeoning debacle.

Angel              Daytona Beach Code Enforcement Officer Glejuanda Davis

In an outstanding show of resolve, on Tuesday the City of Daytona Beach presented their well-prepared case against slumlord Jack Aberman before the incredibly bright Special Master David Vukelja.

In my view, Mr. Aberman’s GEA Seaside Investments represents a continuing criminal enterprise – whose predicate acts include gross and continuing consumer fraud, violations of life-safety codes, housing regulations, and open evasion of the rental inspection process – a corrupt organization that has defrauded and endangered dozens of tenants in substandard housing throughout the Halifax area.

For Code Enforcement officers like Glejuanda Davis, addressing the malignant blight in large swaths of the city must be like trying to eat an elephant.

It can be accomplished – but only if you focus on taking one bite at a time.

The efforts of Ms. Davis, and the staff of the Daytona Beach Code Enforcement Division, are commendable – and I hope that the elected officials and city administration will provide them the high-level support and resources required to turn the tide and revitalize this long-suffering community.

They have a lot of hard work ahead.

Asshole           Daytona Beach Shores City Commission

This week the Daytona Beach Shores City Council voted 3-2 to overturn a 20-year, voter backed, 12-story height limit.

In doing so, Mayor Harry “Tight-lipped” Jennings, Councilwoman Peggy Rice and Councilwoman Lorraine Geiger gave their collective middle-finger to the will of their constituents – and the recommendations of their planning board.

Anyone who has been to Miami Beach has seen the impact skyscrapers can have on the appearance of a beach community.  The canyon-effect – and wide shadows that all but block out sunlight from wide swaths of the beach – monolithic structures that contribute to an almost claustrophobic feel.

I’m no political scientist, but I suspect that the residents of Daytona Beach Shores will have something to say about this at the ballot box in 2018.

And they should.

Asshole           Hard Rock Hotel – Daytona Beach

Earlier this week I needed to restock the bar here at Barker’s View HQ and stopped at a liquor store on the beachside.

Since, as a Volusia County taxpayer, I’m now a quasi-investor in the project, I decided to take a drive past the languishing Desert Inn/Weston/Hard Rock project to check on our progress.

The place looked like a ghost town.

The only thing moving that afternoon was some torn plastic sheeting waving in the late afternoon breeze.

What one would have expected to look like an anthill, still had the feel of a project being completed by two guys working on the weekends – especially with Summit Hospitality Management Group still announcing an October due date.

Maybe the interior was alive with construction workers and craftsmen creating the “phenomenal amenities” both the Volusia County Council and the Daytona Beach News-Journal have been promising us for the past three-years would somehow make up for the continuing loss of our heritage of beach driving.

Hell, don’t take my word for it – cruise by the site and have a look for yourself.

This week, Hard Rock International issued a flashy press release finally letting us all know the hotel will actually carry the brand – which was the final hurdle to ensuring the removal of cars from the strand behind the property.

According to the News-Journal:

“From the gorgeous beaches to the NASCAR races that draw in hundreds of thousands of people each year, we’re thrilled to bring our product to visitors and locals alike in Daytona Beach,” Marco Roca, executive vice president of global hotel development at Hard Rock International, said in the company’s formal announcement.


Quote of the Week:

“It will work. It will work. It will work.  It’s the right thing to do. People who are putting forth support for this will make sure it will work.”

–Volusia County Chairman Ed Kelley responding in the Daytona Beach News-Journal to Councilwoman Deb Denys continuing defense of Jim Dinneen & Company’s failed policies and lack of strategic vision on the countywide problem of homelessness

Have a great weekend everyone!




2 thoughts on “Angels and Assholes for June 16, 2017

  1. First, Daytona Beach is not getting a Hard Rock. It is getting a hotel managed by the Hard Rock.
    Quite a difference. No casinos, no Hard Rock themed events, no concerts. Regarding driving on the beach behind the new hotel, no company will affix it’s brand to a hotel where it’s guests and kids will have to watch out for and negotiate cars while walking onto the beach and finding a place to sit out for some sun. Mr. Barker was recently in Ft. Lauderdale, was there driving on the beach there? Of course not, hotels will not allow driving on the beach because of the danger to it’s guests.

    The new shelter, nice concept but in a terrible location. I agree with Ms. Deny’s and Mr. Lowry’s votes. No people who are challenged will spend their days 12 miles west of Daytona. Homeless love to walk, talk, pan handle, create obstacles for the general public. That is how they spend their days. Homeless will not stay out in the country, they may stay there at the shelter at night, but the next morning, the Votran bus stop will be busy. The homeless will work their way back to Beach St. So Big John, you finally got your Votran Bus Stop. Or, as with Margaretivlle Latitude, may be the County can have shuttles back and forth from Beach St. to the new shelter. This new shelter will be a huge waste of money.

    I understand the County has $523,000,000. in reserves. That is even after a major hurricane. I suggested to the County Council and Mr. Dineen, to appropriate $200,000,000. or more from that fund to go toward highway improvement or expansion. Methodology-Each of 16.5 cities in Volusia submit 2 road projects to the County Engineer and those road projects would be funded by the $200,000,000. One project from each City will be funded and then the money would be equally be given toward remaining projects. I sent this idea to the Council members and County Manager, no one responded.

    Thanks Mr. Barker for your Blog, may be you can eliminate the curse words…


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