It’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way.
Let’s look at who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was:
Angel: Root Family Foundation
A grateful “Thank You” to the Halifax area’s first family of compassionate philanthropy for their recent donation of $10,000 toward progress of the First Step Shelter project. The Root family is a long-time supporter of good causes, to include innovative woman’s and children’s health initiatives in Volusia County.
In my view, the Root family sets the premiere example of generosity and exceptional community service.
Angel: Concerned Constituents Committee for B-CU
Last year, it became painfully evident that one of America’s most venerated historically black colleges had been systematically fleeced by a combination of greed and mismanagement.
At that time, concerned alumni began to speak out in increasing numbers to defend the honor – and future – of their alma mater.
When the news broke, I opined that an important first step to returning sanity and solvency to Bethune-Cookman University required jettisoning Board of Trustee’s Chairman Joe Petrock – and anyone else in a top leadership position who stood in the way of a top-to-bottom rehabilitation of the university’s management, administrative and financial practices – to include an investigation of the acts and omissions of those who are charged with overseeing these important processes.
When evidence of financial and administrative mismanagement began to seep out, a courageous former president of B-CU’s National Alumni Association had the personal courage to live up to his ethical and fiduciary responsibilities as a trustee and question the fiscal mischief that has left the struggling school with millions in operating losses, a declining endowment and mired in a fishy student dormitory scheme that may ultimately cost some $306 million over time.
Now, a brave coalition of concerned alumni have come together to demand accountability, transparency – and the ouster of twelve B-CU board members.
According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal:
“Trust is lost,” and a major shakeup in leadership is in order, said Sumner Hutcheson III, a 1972 B-CU alumnus, former B-CU vice president for Development, and now Co-Chair of the Concerned Constituents Committee for B-CU, which is advocating for the resignations and board reform.”
Look, it’s easy to point blame at former B-CU President Edison O. Jackson – and he deserves the criticism. However, Dr. Jackson worked for the Board of Trustees – the university’s governing body who set the institutions strategic direction – including financial and academic policies.
There is strength in numbers, especially when battling entrenched forces within the cloistered confines of academia, and I commend the brave leadership and members of the Concerned Constituents Committee for B-CU as they search for the truth – and demand accountability.
Angel: Big John
It has been my pleasure to call Big John – who I consider the political conscience of Volusia County – a friend for over 30-years now.
As regular readers of this forum know, Barker’s View enjoys a monthly two-hour show on GovStuff Live! – Big’s very successful “educational, informational, inspirational” local public affairs radio forum.
In my view, Big John is the preeminent commentator on regional politics, with an incredible depth of institutional knowledge, wealth of insider contacts and a loyal following of “19 listeners” who serve as sharp-toothed watchdogs in the halls of political power.
While many of our local “movers & shakers” are afraid to join him in open debate on the radio – it is refreshing to note that I have never once heard Big treat an in-studio guest in a rude or inhospitable manner. In fact, he is almost personally protective of those who join him to discuss the important issues – whether he agrees with them or not.
His ability to stick his thumb squarely in the eye of those pompous politicians who seek to feather their nests (and those of their uber-wealthy handlers) and explain serious governmental issues with a unique sense of humor – brings these lofty topics, and egos, down to earth where they can be examined and understood.
In my view, Big’s greatest asset is his ability to never take himself too seriously, and he certainly expects the same of others – especially those in influential positions.
If you are seeking a greater knowledge of the civic issues facing us here on Florida’s Fun Coast, I encourage you to tune in to GovStuff Live! Weekdays beginning at 4:00pm – 1380am – or online at GovStuff.org (listen live button).
You’ll be glad you did.
Asshole: Volusia County Council
You know, I don’t really care when the Volusia County Council meets – or if they meet at all.
In my view, Gideon Tucker was right, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
I would add, “No taxpayer’s money is safe when that cabal of addle-brained buffoons meet in DeLand.”
But I wish our doddering fool of a Council Chair, Ed Kelley, would stop crying the blues over how overworked he is.
“It makes for a real, real long day,” Kelley said. “And then we have events on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I need a break. People expect us to be at every event that happens.”
“A break”? My ass.
According to Old Ed, the traditional Thursday morning meetings are just too onerous for our elected officials, and, after all – Ed was inconvenienced once when he was forced to skip a Volusia Manufacturers Association meeting to do the people’s business – you know, like he was elected to do?
(We all know what happens when Eddie’s oversized sense of superiority gets inconvenienced. The last time, it cost us a massive increase in beach access fees to $20.00 per day.)
This move will also give the uber-weird Heather Post an opportunity to “see-and-be-seen” at any meeting of the Florida Association of Counties without her pesky duties in Volusia getting in the way of self-promotion.
More important, God forbid the gang miss a bi-monthly klatch of the Volusia League of Cities – a farcical do-nothing organization designed to reinforce the overweening sense of self-importance of our local elected officials by conferring ridiculous “awards” and public ass-smooching’s.
In my view, the true reward for public service is the sacred privilege of serving your community in a position of high responsibility and trust. The honor of dedicating your time and talents to something higher than one’s own self-interests.
The prize is found in hard work, protecting public confidence in our democratic system, never straying from our core values and abiding by the highest ethical standards – always focused on providing fair and responsive local governance.
That is the very nature – and gift – of selfless, purpose driven public service.
If you want to move the meeting day – do it.
Just stop whining to your constituents about how tough you have it.
If any of these shameless connivers on the dais of power – who prove time-and-again that their true allegiance is to their own egotism and the wants of their wealthy campaign benefactors – need a “break,” perhaps its time they resign their lofty position and make way for someone with the physical stamina and strength of courage to represent the good citizens of Volusia County.
Angel: Flagler County Sheriff’s Office
Hearty congratulations to Sheriff Rick Staly on his agency’s recent acquisition of a $161,542 grant from the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Last year, Sheriff Staly formed an impressive working group focused on developing innovative strategies to stem the rising tide of family violence in Flagler County. In my view, the Sheriff’s aggressive, community-based approach is an excellent example of local intervention and inventive problem solving.
The grant funds will be used to add an investigator and crime analysis, both dedicated to domestic violence cases, and to assist with community outreach and in-service training needs.
In my view, Sheriff Staly and his team of professionals are demonstrating the true potential of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office – and returning credibility and public trust to this great law enforcement agency.
Asshole: Volusia County Elected Officials Round Table
On Monday, We, The People were treated to the Grand Reveal of a privately funded study designed to gauge public support for the proposed one-cent sales tax increase – a shameless government money grab we are told will be used for transportation infrastructure improvements.
The survey – a process which involved less than one percent of Volusia County’s registered voters – was conducted by Clearview Research, a company that recently helped Palm Beach County pass a one-cent sales tax.
According to Clearview’s study, if the measure were placed on the ballot later this year, a half-cent tax increase would overwhelmingly pass.
Look, I’m no statistician – but not one person has told me they support a sales tax increase (except Big John, who supports the measure with clearly identified projects).
Clearly, our powers-that-be aren’t completely convinced it’s a home run, either.
According to the Clearview study, “The half-cent option, while a little closer than we would like, can pass but will require a disciplined, well-funded, and well-executed campaign plus strong and nearly universal support from the local governments through the county,” the report states. “This effort begins in a good (but not great) place with excellent messages. If a disciplined well-executed campaign is launched, there is a clear path to victory.”
That’s some scary shit – and gives us a behind the scenes peek at what happens when private interests drive public policy.
Sounds like something out of a Pol Pot manifesto, doesn’t it?
You will get your mind right.
You will ensure a clear path to victory for Little Jimmy’s autocratic regime.
According to the Florida Department of Revenue, a half-penny sales tax increase would generate an estimated $45 million – half of which would go to county government, with the rest split among Volusia’s 16 municipalities.
That’s a lot of cheese.
In my view, past performance is the only true predictor of future behavior.
Volusia County has the third highest tax rate in the state of Florida. Our gasoline tax has been maxed out and our elected officials have gifted millions of our hard-earned tax dollars for the private projects of billionaires, built infrastructure to benefit wealthy political insiders and continue to give exorbitant salary and benefits packages to the pimps who lurk under the dim streetlight at the corner of public funds and private interests.
What part of that would indicate our elected officials in DeLand are interested in fiscal responsibility?
Why do you think the millionaire members of Volusia’s CEO Business Alliance are so determined to see this tax increase become a reality?
Now there is a move afoot in Tallahassee which would permit tourist-development (“bed”) tax dollars to be used for “infrastructure” projects. I wondered how long it would take for them to worm their way into that Pot o’ Gold. . .
When is enough, enough?
Screw these piggish greedheads – and their “well-executed” campaign to wring even more tax dollars from an already strapped constituency.
It’s time Volusia County government learned to live within its means – and that process begins at the ballot box.
Quote of the Week:
“The trust in Volusia County government administration is at an all-time low.”
–Big John, former county council member and radio personality, speaking the unvarnished truth at the Grand Reveal of the Volusia CEO Business Alliance funded survey to measure public support for a sales tax increase.
Have a great weekend, friends.