Regular readers of this forum know that I harbor a conspiracy theory that, based upon mounting evidence, our ‘powers that be’ have secretly constructed a “Grand Plan” for the future of the Halifax area – something the rest of us, to include our current elected officials in municipal and county government, know nothing about.
In my warped mind, this well-orchestrated blueprint was hatched by Volusia’s powerful camarilla of political insiders – the uber-wealthy donor class who have gained near total control of our democratic processes through massive campaign contributions to hand-select candidates – and a willingness to groom and protect County Manager Jim Dinneen, despite his many glaring shortcomings.
I also believe that this scheme was clandestinely advanced under cover of darkness without any public input and outside any normal or reasonable budget, planning or oversight processes.
To ensure that all the right last names receive maximum return on their financial investment in developing and fostering this bastardized political process we call “local government” in Volusia County.
Pay day is coming – and everyone who is anyone is already posted at the trough.
In fact, I believe we have been seeing the puzzle pieces drop into place for the past several years.
For instance, take the $40-million dollars in public funds that were gifted to the Forbes-listed France family to subsidize their One Daytona project – a “symbiotic” shopping and entertainment complex built in the literal shadow of their Daytona International Speedway – or the surprise, off-the-agenda announcement that Mr. Dinneen will unilaterally borrow an obscene $260-million for construction of a Taj Mahal courthouse/office complex on Beach Street.
In furtherance of “The Plan,” our former government services complex at 250 North Beach Street – which conveniently housed everything from veteran services to the tag office, is currently being allowed to strategically mold over from flooding until it reaches the point of irreparable damage to force its complete demolition.
And, if our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley’s, verbal slip can be believed – we can kiss public facilities and amenities on City Island goodbye when they package and sell that sweet slice of the pie to some speculative developer.
(Trust me. City Island is necessary to complete the “package” – and they will be coming for it.)
Then, last fall, the recognized High Panjandrum of Political Power, J. Hyatt Brown, demanded (by threatening to take his football and move to Atlanta) and immediately received, some $15.5-million tax dollars to develop a monolithic headquarters with his name at the top, also in Downtown Daytona.
(Interestingly, that figure almost exactly matches the $15.8-million in public funds Volusia County used to extend Williamson Boulevard to permit direct access to Political Potentate Mori Hosseini’s Woodhaven mega-residential development in Port Orange.)
Now, our own Camera stellata over at the Volusia CEO Business Alliance – a private consortium of quadrillionaires who, under the stewardship of the American Music Festival’s own Dr. Kent Sharples, figure out inventive ways to use our money to fund their projects – is spending freely to “educate” the great unwashed hoards who exist solely to fill scullery jobs and pay exorbitant fees and taxes – on why we should welcome yet another money grab in the form of a half-cent sales tax this fall.
Think about it.
When you consider the quantum changes to large sections of Daytona Beach, from Ballough Road to Ridgewood Avenue, and beyond – to include prime riverfront property that has been gobbled up by billionaire Jim France for his tony private yacht club – or the residential areas to the west that are being allowed to atrophy as a means of driving property values into the toilet for future acquisition (most likely after the Brown & Brown headquarters is complete), to public parks near the future Brown & Brown campus that are actively being “rezoned” (for purely aesthetic reasons?), and the wholesale giveaway of our beach to “incentivize” the developer du jour, and you begin to see that something is afoot behind the scenes – and whatever “the plan” may be – I can assure you, it doesn’t include us.
Now, as Bike Week 2018 ends, the next phase of their Grand Plan will signal the long goodbye for a 77-year old special event that has, in many ways, come to define the Daytona Beach Resort Area as much as beach driving or NASCAR.
In December 2017, Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm sent a letter to the city’s current host for itinerant vendors during Bike Week, informing them that their contract will not be renewed after Biketoberfest this fall.
Then, in January, the Daytona Beach City Commission voted to terminate the agreement, which sounded the death knell for biker-related festivities on Beach Street – something made popular by the late Bruce Rossmeyer, before small-minded officials in the City of Daytona Beach drove his enterprise out of the community, giving birth to the hugely successful bike events in north Ormond Beach.
Inexplicably, no one from the City of Daytona Beach had the common courtesy to tell area merchants, including local motorcycle-related businesses who have invested heavily in the success of our beleaguered downtown – only to be left high-and-dry when it came time to shut the carnival down to make way for the next “bigger, better and bestest” game changer in the form of a 10-story monument to self-importance.
According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the long-time dealership, Indian Motorcycle of Daytona Beach – a small business that receives 85% of their annual revenue during the special event periods – was caught completely unaware of the “plan” to eliminate vendors on Beach Street when they recently renewed a five-year lease on their downtown showroom.
Who does that to a year-round established business who has struggled to maintain a presence and a viable enterprise on Beach Street?
I wonder how many other downtown businesses bought into J. Hyatt’s sales pitch about what a boon his new headquarters will be for the area – only to later find out he’s putting a cafeteria in the building so his employee’s never have to leave?
If you get the idea that bike events and the small businesses that survive off them are no longer welcome, you’re right.
And neither are we.
In my view, The Plan formulated by what the News-Journal has described as our “Rich & Powerful” is being aggressively executed in an environment where our elected officials – in some disgusting Faustian bargain with their wealthy political benefactors – have adopted strategic ignorance as way of plausibly ignoring the true economic and social needs of their constituents.
How long will it take the electorate of Volusia County to realize who ultimately benefits – and who pays the bills – in this oligarchical system where public input in the future of our area is neither solicited nor wanted?
Welcome to Brownsville – now, get the fuck out of our park.
Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal