Another piece of our heritage died today.
Our “Rich & Powerful” political insiders – the paymasters who shamelessly purchase the souls of cheap political whores with malleable ethics and massive egos, and strategically ignore the base ineptitude of an out-of-control county administrator, to further their own self-serving goals – have taken away another 410 linear feet of beach driving in their horribly failed strategy of “incentivizing” the one amenity that made the Daytona Beach Resort Area unique.
This morning at 5:00am, under cover of darkness and the personal supervision of Beach Chief Ray Manchester, a series of hideous chemically-treated poles were driven into the sand behind the slapdash Hard Rock Hotel – completing the pernicious pact between Summit Hospitality, Hard Rock International and their elected corporate shills in DeLand.
I am often asked by well-meaning people “how does this happen, Barker?”
My best answer is – the uber-rich power brokers who have seized control of our government accomplish this by appearing before their elected Muppets on the dais of power in DeLand – as J. Hyatt Brown did when this sinister scheme was hatched way back in the spring of 2015 – or funnel secret directions through their utterly compromised bag man, County Manager Jim Dinneen – instructing their chattel to hand over more of our limited beach access in exchange for dubious promises from the speculative developer du jour.
Then, when grassroots advocates like Sons of the Beach, attempt to challenge these despotic edicts from on high – they are blocked by lawsuits filed by weaponized county attorneys (using our own money) to silence any opposition or legal arguments.
Invariably, a jumbled appellate court process determines that the long-suffering taxpayers of Volusia County, who are increasingly asked to pay-up and shut-up, have no “standing.”
As I have written before, under this bastardized oligarchy we call governance in Volusia County, We, The People, no longer have standing in much of anything – except, of course, when it comes to footing the bill for a new “synergistic” shopping center for ISC or subsidizing a ten-story phallic monument to Hyatt Brown’s self-importance – oh, and to serve the dual purpose as headquarters for his billionaire insurance company.
Our elected officials have given tens-of-millions in tax incentives, infrastructure improvements and other inducements to these slimy puppet masters and a slew of itinerant developers – and this morning, they made good on their “inducement” to a gaudy “theme” hotel built on the bones of the haunted Desert Inn Hotel – a place that will forever remain notorious for the atrocities against children that were committed within – when they drove a phalanx of ugly utility poles into the sand and blocked vehicular access forever.
In May 2015, in a piece entitled “A sad day for Volusia County,” I wrote a prophetic line has finally come home to roost:
“We are now at the cold mercy of these goddamned grifters – smug shitheels in expensive suits and Gucci loafers who play with other people’s money and openly fuck with our beachside lifestyle. And when they go belly-up – as they always do (just ask Bray & Gillespie, remember them?) – we are left holding the bag as they trot back to South Florida, Canada or Russia.”
It’s cold comfort to say I told you so – but, welcome to our future.
The fact is, we are in the grip of a system so abominably corrupt that it may well be impossible to correct without outside intervention.
Apparently, those who are paid to monitor, detect and investigate the conduct, integrity and ethics of sitting public officials are asleep at the switch – or have been equally co-opted by those with a permanent place at the public tit – despicably complicit by their inaction in a ruse to monetize our public beach, manipulate our system of governance and alienate the many to feed the ravenous greed of a few.
That “ill wind” I talked about so many months ago continues to blow across Volusia County – and on it is the foul stench of quid pro quo public corruption and corporate gluttony.
I still believe in my heart that we are better than this – that we fundamentally deserve fair and equal treatment under the law and basic representation by those we elect to protect our interests.
I also believe that there remains one fundamental mechanism which, if used properly, will allow us to prevail over the self-serving insiders and well-heeled Donor Class that seem intent on shitting on our century-old heritage and handing the right to the traditional use of OUR beach to outside interests and speculators for backdoor personal enrichment:
It is the ultimate power of the ballot box.
I like to humor myself into believing that we still have some fragments of a democratic process remaining – like the sacred tradition that permits one person, one vote.
I believe that if enough like-minded citizens hold firm to the basic belief that we can control our destiny by electing strong, ethical and visionary members of our community to high office – servant/leaders who will tell powerful self-interests to go fuck themselves, and stand firm in defense of the rights, responsibilities and privileges of taxpaying residents who work hard to carve out a life here on Florida’s Fun Coast – we can once again balance political power and restore transparency, fairness and the spirit of democracy in Volusia County government.