Some might disagree, but I’ve always considered myself reasonably “tuned-in” to local current events, and sensitive to the shifting winds of life here on the Fun Coast.
Hey, it’s not rocket surgery – I just read the paper and bitch.
What else do I have to do?
Having made a life in the Daytona Beach Resort Area for over 55-years, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly – and you don’t need a study from Harvard University to get the idea that things are increasingly “challenged” here.
That’s why I was surprised by the recent announcement in U. S. News & World Report – a “recognized leader” in rating everything from colleges to cars – that Daytona Beach ranked #7 on their “Best Places to Retire list.”
Obviously, our beleaguered Chamber of Commerce-types seized the news like a famished rat on a moldy piece of cheddar.
After all, they haven’t had much to feel good about for, oh, the last 30 years.
Then, our local “movers & shakers” got on board – patting each other on the back, beaming with pride, and performing their best “We’re Number Seven!” rah-rah routine for the always easy to please Clayton Park, business writer for the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
According to reports, the U. S. News & World Report listing was based on an analysis of “housing affordability, retiree taxes, quality of health care and overall happiness of each area’s residents.”
Generally, I take these “best of” lists with a grain of salt.
When I served as a Chief of Police, I always downplayed the importance of crime statistics and our community’s per capita ratings – given the fact that law enforcement has very little influence on the civic issues (local economy, social disorganization, etc.) that contribute to crime, blight and dilapidation – it just didn’t pay to get excited about it.
I tried not to fret when rates were high – or take undue credit when reported crime dropped – and simply focused on ensuring that my department was operating as effectively and efficiently as possible while developing strategic crime prevention and enforcement programs to address emerging threats.
In government, it is generally best to be responsive to the needs of your constituents, control what you can, and not beat your chest when the very next “study” might have a whole different outcome.
For instance, last year, CBS Money Watch listed Daytona Beach as the 3rd Worst Real Estate Market in the United States (Buffalo was #1) – and the online site Homesnacks ranked us 6th in their “10 Worst Places to Live in Florida.”
(See why it’s never good to cherry-pick statistical lists?)
In addition, the international travel website Smart Travel Tips ranked Daytona Beach #3 on the “10 Worst Neighborhoods in Florida” list – with Roadsnacks placing us in the #1 slot for the “10 Most Ghetto Cities in Florida” (I don’t know what that means, but it can’t be good. . .)
In 2016, Bankrate.com – a trusted source of financial planning information – listed Daytona Beach among the worst places to retire in the nation – 144 out of 194 – with a “cultural vitality” rating of “poor.”
Considering the Daytona Beach News-Journal recently reported that our area’s median income for renters, and the availability of affordable housing, are among the worst in Florida (15th in the nation) – and our property taxes are the second highest in the state, with residents packing town hall meetings to voice their frustrations over abject blight and economic stagnation – I wonder if whoever researched these statistics bothered to visit Volusia County – or read the local newspaper for that matter.
In this week’s Volusia/Flagler Business Report’s “The Buzz” column, Clayton reminded us of the #7 ranking – and tapped the always over-enthusiastic Wild Bill Bullock, Senior Vice President at Minto Communities for comment.
Wild Bill linked the news to a recent Bloomberg article which described Minto’s “Latitudes at Margaritaville” as “the future of retirement.” (God, I hope not. . .)
Trust me. Our doddering fool of a county chairman, Ed Kelley, will dutifully parrot these dubious accolades during his next “State of the County” address – and the U.S. News & World Report listing will be distributed like confetti at every rubber chicken banquet and “economic development” gala in town for the next decade.
Mind you, Old Ed won’t understand the statistical analysis, or how these debatable rankings were arrived at (no one else does either), but he will regurgitate the “We’re Number Seven!” chant for the benefit of our “movers & shakers” who have towed the party line and kept their head comfortably in their collective ass for decades.
It’s a big part of why we’re in this condition, but nobody who should seems to care – even as the social crevasse dividing us continues to grow.
Depending upon who you talk to, life on the Fun Coast is either the best – or the worst.
How’s things by you?