On Volusia: Yesterday’s gone

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone. . .

–Fleetwood Mac, “Don’t Stop” 1977

If recent events are any indication, it appears to me that Hard Rock International cares even less about its employees than it does about the quality standards and guest experience at its franchise locations.

Effective next month, the company will shutter its corporate headquarters in Orlando – a move marked by the layoffs of nearly 200 central Florida employees.

According to a statement issued in September, “Hard Rock International . . . will move staff headquarters from Orlando to South Florida, joining forces with ownership, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and The Seminole Gaming organization.  The opportunity to combine the world-class talent of all three companies will create an even more powerful organization.” 

At the time, insiders reported that Hard Rock intends to focus almost exclusively on the gaming side of the house, now that casino operations dominate.

Although Hard Rock International initially said Orlando-based employees would be provided pay increases, relocation assistance and professional outplacement for spouses making the move south – at the end of the day – only sixteen people were transferred, leaving 184 former Hard Rock employees out on their ass.

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel (the Daytona Beach News-Journal hasn’t touched this story with a ten-foot pole), former Hard Rock corporate executive chef Russell Booth said only a few people were making the move to South Florida – and he wasn’t aware of the company paying severance.  Chef Booth resigned in November.

Eventually, even a dullard like me understands that when it comes to corporate press releases and brand marketing bullshit in what passes for the “hospitality” industry – rarely is the truth considered or incorporated into the “spin” sold to the public.

It’s kind of like Volusia County government in that regard.

For instance, last month, when Hard Rock International was scrambling to certify their languishing Daytona franchisee in time to secure the county-offered “incentive” of the complete removal of our heritage of beach driving behind the hotel, the company quibbled that the property, “…will meet Hard Rock International’s aforementioned brand standards and franchise requirements…”

Then, they pencil-whipped the certification – and Volusia County accepted it – even though everyone could see the on-going construction, substandard condition of the external seawall, crumbling support posts and a forest of jack-stands in the parking garage.

Yet our gutless politicians, the strategically gullible Chamber of Commerce set – and even our local newspaper of record – jumped on the bandwagon and cheered what County Manager Jim Dinneen had the shameless impudence to call the most “luxurious” hotel in a hundred-mile radius.

Jesus.  Sheriff Chitwood was right.

How does that lying sack of shit sleep at night?

Now, anecdotal reports are that the hotel is using nearly half of our “public” parking lot south of the Hard Rock for employees and valet service – completely defeating the stated purpose of replacing vehicular access with “off-beach” parking – thus securing the semi-private strand we all knew was coming.

(Can’t say I blame them, I wouldn’t want to park in that rickety subterranean garage either. . .)

Soon, a phalanx of ugly, chemically-treated wooden utility poles will be driven into the sand behind the Hard Rock – adorned with officious signage notifying beach-goers of the traffic-free strand – and the pernicious pact between Hard Rock and their elected corporate shills will be complete.

Folks, we live in an environment where honesty, government transparency and a sense of fair play has been replaced with the ethos “it’s only wrong if you get caught.”

The result is a dull, blighted place where tacky hotels and “theme” subdivisions become more important than our collective quality of life – and those we trust to protect our interests allow speculative developers to churn sensitive greenspace into an environmental abattoir for another fucking WaWa.

It’ll be better than before – yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone. . .




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