Well, Mark has his knickers in a wad again.
Yep. “Barker the Bitcher” is at it again. It’s the little things that set me off like a Roman candle.
In my experience, you can tell the strength and quality of an organization by the way they handle the “small stuff.”
And it’s all small stuff.
In author Michael Levine’s excellent 2005 work, “Broken Windows, Broken Business,” he opined that organizational problems – large and small – often result from managements inattention to seemingly insignificant details.
You see, an organizations true priorities are exposed by the trivial.
According to Levine, “There’s a significant psychological impact to dingy surroundings—to stained carpets and broken toilets.” He believes that you simply cannot convince those you serve (or your own employees) that you truly care about them if you are constantly sending subliminal signals that you don’t.
Whenever I get away from Barker’s View HQ – even if it’s just to run a few errands – I use the time to consciously observe my surroundings.
Like anyone else, I can become desensitized to the contributors to blight – such as that zombie house in the neighborhood that hasn’t been inhabited since the Great Recession – or an overgrown, trash-filled vacant lot.
After a while, you tend to ignore these things and just drive right by – they become part of the everyday landscape of our lives.
But imagine being a visitor – someone new to the area who is looking to relocate a business or purchase a home – seeing our area in living color for the first time in their lives.
I mean, they’ve heard all the hype and splendor espoused by our redundant chamber of commerce/advertising authorities/visitor bureaus, and let’s say they bit on an expensive Danica Patrick ad.
Or maybe you’re a conventioneer – say, a member of the big Shriners International “mega” get-together – a group somewhere south of 10,000 that we threw some $400,000 in public funds at to coax them to Daytona Beach this year and next.
We got’em. They’re here.
I can assure you these folks aren’t blind to the blight, dilapidation and neglect that permeates many highly-visible areas of the Halifax area.
And I’m not talking about the archetypal, Snidely Whiplash-looking Daytona Beach slumlord here.
I’m talking about Volusia County government.
Late last week, I was (naturally) leaving a liquor store on South Atlantic Avenue in Ormond Beach when the blatant “do as I say, not as I do” arrogance of Volusia County government hit me like a ton of bricks once again.
If you happen to be a taxpaying citizen of Volusia County – I think you’ll feel the same way.
In 2015, at the direct recommendation of County Manager Jim Dinneen, the Volusia County Council approved the expenditure of general funds (and stolen ECHO dollars) for the purchase of 1.8 acres of property on the west side of State Road A-1-A in Ormond Beach for $1.8 million.
$1.8 million – of our tax dollars.
This dubious purchase was part of a frenetic land-grab – a spending spree spurred by Dinneen, as he encouraged our elected officials to piss away multi-millions of our hard-earned tax dollars on any and every available space where Little Jimmy felt he could shoehorn an “off beach” parking lot.
At the time – in perhaps his only cogent thought during a brutally uninspired term – our former cartoon character of a council chair, Jason Davis, doffed his goofy fedora and said, “We keep buying all this property, which is part of the prerogative of this council, but there’s still underlying costs that are going to come up for development,” he said, estimating costs of redevelopment could reach $50 million.”
“We’re buying all this land for parking lots, but where are we getting the money to build the parking lots?”
Well, apparently, “we” are getting at least some of it by openly ignoring even routine maintenance and upkeep on these incredibly expensive parcels – and blatantly violating city codes and ordinances in the process.
In the photograph above, you see that the rear of our despicably unkempt $1.8 million county-owned property at the northwest corner of Cardinal Drive and State Road A-1-A is now being used as an open storage yard for a lifeguard tower and various beach speed limit and directional signage – some carelessly toppled– all set on the cracked asphalt of a weed strewn parking lot of a faded, abandoned building that sits like a long-dead carcass in the epicenter of Ormond Beach’s tourist area.
To add insult to injury – it’s off the city’s tax rolls as well.
Tragically, this dumping ground is almost purposely exposed to public view – a neglected shithole set on the fringe of a residential neighborhood – an open eyesore for residents and visitors alike.
With millions being spent on dubious “economic development” incentives – and all of us being urged by the “powers that be” to use less water, clean up our lawns and properties, and pay more-and-more in taxes and fees – just who in the hell do these people think they are?
Still think Jim Dinneen and our historically arrogant and completely out-of-touch members of the Volusia County Council give two-shits about us and our quality of life?
Not if you live anywhere near a county-owned facility they don’t.
And if I hear one more insult from some stuffed shirt millionaire or politically active CEO about how beautiful things are here on the Fun Coast – I’m going to vomit.
When this latest debacle – this government-funded blight generator – makes it’s circuitous way back to DeLand, you can bet your bippy our responsibility-averse County Manager will once again publicly blame the “Coastal Division” for yet another five-alarm fuck-up and our $97,000 per year “All Things Beach” Director, Jessica Winterwerp, will make yet another public apology before cashing her paycheck.
Hey, Jessica – maybe you can use more of our money to hire another Miami-based consultant to tell you how to properly store your division’s equipment? You know, so that it doesn’t contribute to the appearance of a Third-World pigsty?
Something else Mr. Levine proposed is the novel idea that senior leadership should eject poor performers from the organization as quickly as possible, letting everyone know that the issues have been effectively dealt with.
Not in Volusia County government – you go along, you get along – and your strategic ineptitude will be handsomely rewarded.
How much longer will we – the long-suffering taxpayers of Volusia County – be subjected to this level of gross mismanagement, embarrassment and abject neglect of every reasonable expectation of community standards and aesthetics?
As I’ve said, ad nauseum, in government, as in most progressive organization, accountability exists when a responsible individual – and the services they provide – are subject to oversight.
This occurs when the person with the paid responsibility is required to provide articulable justification for their actions, omissions, expenditures and performance.
Despite the obscene amount of corroborating evidence proving that Mr. Dinneen is physically incapable of holding his senior staff responsible for this continuing pattern of gross mismanagement – rather than demand accountability – our elected officials continue to praise Dinneen’s performance and reinforce his arrogance with staggering salary and benefit increases that have reached the point of absurdity.
The most visible symptom of the abject dysfunction at the top of the county’s organizational chart is consistently the bureaucracy’s inability to properly manage and maintain county-owned facilities.
Look at the photograph again – or better yet, load up the family and check it out for yourself.
Maybe snap a few pics for your elected representative.
Then consider the ramifications of openly storing a bunch of faded wooden sign frames and a big red wooden tower in your backyard – you know – in plain view of your neighbors?
See what happens.
I guess what pisses me off most is the fact that County Chairman Ed Kelley sold us a bill of goods.
He claimed to be a responsible “everyman” who served Ormond Beach for many years. So why does he allow the very government he oversees to foist this irresponsible and highly-visible dumping ground on his most loyal constituents?
Because Ed Kelley and Jim Dinneen don’t give a damn about you – we were outbid during the election – and they prove it every day.
Pay the bills and shut up, John Q.
We dump publicly-owned property and equipment when and where we want to.
We misplace traffic cones and inexplicably prohibit parking on a section of beach during the busiest season of the year – with no explanation or accountability.
We bully and trash the municipalities with impunity.
We engage in an on-going series of missteps, foul-ups, administrative gaffes, bureaucratic bloopers, weird “oversights” and outright errors in sound judgment with absolutely no reasonable oversight or professional accountability.
We pay incompetent shitheels hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in salary and benefits each year while expecting nothing – nothing – in return.
In short – we do what we want, when we want – and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
Am I wrong?
In my view, Ormond Beach City Manager Joyce Shannahan – a true bright spot in the fetid wasteland of local government – should direct code enforcement officers to take immediate and decisive action against Volusia County until this blatant eyesore at Cardinal Drive is remediated.
I can assure you they would do the same for you or me.