On Volusia: The Survey Says!

“But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.  Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner room will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

–Luke 12:2-3

Even though I am an ordained minister I do not consider myself an overtly “religious” sort.  (www.ulc.org)

More spiritual, I suppose.

As a Man of the cloth and a True Believer, I say my prayers, seek the truth, hope for the best, and on stormy nights I like to take up the Bible and read aloud by the flash of lightening from the Book of Revelations – a downright terrifying, yet exhilarating, account of how this all will end – which, for most of us unrepentant sinners – involves being cast alive – screaming and flailing and demanding to speak to our attorney (who is, no doubt, right behind us in line) – into a fiery lake of boiling Sulphur.

If you’re a politician who routinely violates the public trust, and puts self-promotion and enrichment over the greater civic needs of your constituents – or if you pass time as a pack-a-day, besotted, foul-mouthed opinion blogger with no social grace – you better get your asbestos swim trunks on – you’re gonna need ‘em.

Heavy shit, man.

Another thing I take heart in is the comforting assurances found in scripture which tell us that all things will be revealed in time – what is whispered in the dark and slippery places will eventually be heard in the bright light of day.

Maybe right here on the often prophetic Barker’s View, eh?

This morning I read an interesting piece in the Daytona Beach News-Journal entitled, “Volusia sales tax survey advances – Private funds to pay for effort to gauge public support for increase.”

I don’t know about you, but whenever I read the words “tax” and “private funds” in the same lede, a foreboding sense of dread washes over me, accompanied by a clammy sweat, hand tremors and a metallic taste in my mouth – like biting into a dry cell battery.

According to the News-Journal, the auspicious CEO Business Alliance of Volusia County – a millionaire Star Chamber under the current leadership of the resurrected Dr. Kent Sharples (formerly of Daytona State College) – has hired Tallahassee-based Clearview Research to conduct a study gauging public support for the proposed half-penny sales tax increase – funds ostensibly to be used for transportation, and now, “other infrastructure” improvements.

Being the suspicious asshole that I am – after reading between the lines of the article, I came away with two immediate impressions:

1.)  The fix is in.

When you pay a pollster with private funds – the results of any study, regardless of how scientific or unbiased they may be – will forever be tarnished by the fact that the poll was taken by a private company in the paid employ of those who stand to benefit most from the results.

2.) Once again, the oligarchical fraternity that is the CEO Business Alliance of Volusia County is overtly protecting its private interests and investments by insinuating themselves into a very public – and very political – process.

“Mark – you conspiratorial turd – these guys just want to help!  How in the hell could these rich folks possibly benefit from public transportation infrastructure funds?” 

 Well, let’s have a look-see.

Earlier this year, work was completed on the Williamson Boulevard extension – funded with $15.8 million of our tax dollars – which directly served the needs of Mori Hosseini, the High Panjandrum of Volusia Politics and president of ICI Homes, who just happens to be building his swansong development – Woodhaven – which includes 1,300 homes and 400 apartment-townhouse units on 762 acres west of Interstate 95 and straddling 2.6 miles of the Williamson extension we paid for between Airport Road and Pioneer Trail.

Yep.  A while back, Volusia County entered a “partnership” with the Florida Department of Transportation, the City of Port Orange, and a quasi-governmental agency called a “community development district” which was set up through ICI Homes and the property owner – Mori Hosseini.

$15.8 million tax dollars.

That’s a lot of cheese – especially when our elected and appointed officials are crying poormouth over shrinking infrastructure funds, telling scary stories of $1.5 billion in current needs, and painting a picture of the apocalypse if We, The People fail to approve a one-cent sales tax increase – even as they continue to rubber stamp mega-developments from Farmton to the Flagler County line.

Now, something called the Volusia Roundtable of Elected Officials – a political insulator and groupthink tank – comprised of municipal mayors and managers which will ultimately be responsible for divvying up the cash – hopes to learn the following from the privately funded survey of some 600 Volusia County residents:

Will the public support a sales tax?

Will voters support a tax for water infrastructure or will it be for transportation only?

Is a half-cent or full-cent tax hike necessary?

Will it be better to place the question on a primary or general election ballot?

Look, I’m not some weird Cassadaga soothsayer – and I don’t have the mystic ability to read minds – but I can tell you right now how this dubious “study” is going to play out:

The News-Journal defined Rich and Powerful – the influential power brokers who rule their environment and ensure their financial interests by controlling what passes for local governance – will see to it that the “public” WILL support a one-cent sales tax – funds which will ultimately be used to provide transportation and utilities infrastructure for whatever project or development provides the most return on their investment.

If you think for one minute that the Volusia CEO Business Alliance is ponying up funds to a private research firm because they are looking to lighten the load on the taxpayer and protect your interests and mine – wake up and get your head in the game.

As I have written before, the good citizens of Volusia County have seen firsthand the inability of our elected and appointed officials to live within their means.

They have witnessed the mismanagement, the exorbitant executive salaries, raises and gold-plated benefit packages for County Manager Jim Dinneen and the county attorney, the “Taj Mahal” construction projects, the half-price sale of public lands to private interests, the dubious “economic incentives” and cash giveaways, and the County Council’s almost supernatural ability to fund every pet project, infrastructure improvement and private venture of these uber-wealthy political insiders.

My hope is that all 600 survey respondents remember these ugly and continuing insults to our collective well-being when answering on behalf of the other 507,000 of us.

Yeah.  Right.


(PS – Barker’s View will be on-the-road this week!  Please join me again next week for my twisted take on the news and newsmakers that effect our lives and livelihoods here on the Fun Coast!  Stay cool my friends – see you in a few days!)













Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s