On Volusia: Carnaval Diabolique

Now things are getting weird.

For nearly a decade, Volusia County has been traveling a circuitous path toward strapping every man, woman, child and visitor with a half-cent sales tax increase – ostensibly designed to pay for transportation infrastructure enhancements in the shadow of massive growth.  Only in the last year have things really begun to gel.

Like most things County Manager Jim Dinneen’s administration is ultimately responsible for the push for a sales tax increase has not gone smoothly.

As the Daytona Beach News-Journal put it in a 2017 article, “Past attempts fizzled.”

There were the usual fits and starts – county council members hemmed, hawed and verbally attacked their municipal counterparts – with the always arrogant Deb Denys accusing local officials of hamstringing public buy-in with their lack of “clear vision.”

That’s rich. . .

Then the city managers came to the realization (with the prodding of incumbent politicians, I’m sure) that an election year was probably not the best time to place a tax increase on the ballot – so, in 2016 the initiative was shelved yet again.

Finally, a committee was formed which brought together all the cities – and bound them in a weird marriage with the secretive Star Chamber at the Volusia CEO Business Alliance –  where all our VIP’s discussed various ways to pick this turd up by the clean end.

Mainly, I think, it was little more than a political insulation committee to protect those cowardly dullards on the Volusia County Council – and get the almost universally disliked Jim Dinneen out of the mix.

With time, DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar and long-time South Daytona City Manager Joe Yarborough became the unfortunate faces of what many citizens came to recognize as a shameless money grab.

One year ago, county and municipal officials sat down and cobbled together a $1.6 billion wish list of unmet infrastructure needs – and in June, the Camera stellate known as the shadowy Volusia CEO Business Alliance – paid for a privately funded study (strategically exempt from Florida’s public records law) that we were told was designed to measure public support for the tax increase now being touted as a panacea for our looming growth pains.

At a now infamous “Eggs & Issues” breakfast in December (you remember, when our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, had a brain-fart and announced the county’s long-term plans to “move or relocate” the City Island Library?) Old Ed assured all of us that he had been lobbying the business community to support the sales tax increase, assured us our sacrifice would alleviate gridlock and brashly gave his personal promise that the measure is “going to be on the ballot.”

 In January, the results of the Star Chamber’s survey – which included a representative sampling of just 600 Volusia County voters (?) – were released, showing a “clear path to victory” for the initiative, so long as everyone in government was laser focused on “reeducating” their tax-weary constituents with, “. . .a disciplined, well-funded, and well-executed campaign plus strong and nearly universal support from the local governments through the county.” 

Many smart observers of all things government in Volusia County weren’t so sure.

Of course, the Volusia CEO Business Alliance volunteered to fund the re-education of Volusia County residents – even as the wet dream of $45-million in annual revenue began dancing like sugarplums in the heads of public officials countywide.

Nothing brings folks together like money.

Like estranged family members brown-nosing a rich old uncle on his deathbed – all 16 municipalities got in lock-step and passed resolutions supporting the half-cent money grab – the first time (perhaps in the history of Volusia County) that the mosaic of cities has unanimously agreed on anything.

It was like peace in the Middle-East.  Lambs lying down with lions – the solidarity was hailed by many rubes as an almost biblical example of what can happen when politicians feel that a massive influx of new revenue is within their grasp.

Then – as only they can do – the Volusia County Council tried their level best to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

In February, county council members refused to even discuss the issue of raising Volusia’s antiquated transportation impact fees – which haven’t seen an increase in over 15-years – with our own elected Rip Van Winkle “Sleepy” Pat Patterson explaining that us uneducated bumpkins were too stupid to understand the complexities of impact fee calculations, as Ed Kelley bobbed his head in agreement like the victim of a situational cognitive disorder, and Little Jimmy assured us the sales tax increase will “help support the new roads.”

Just like that, impact fees were off the table.

But many tax-strapped citizens in Volusia County began to openly question why increased fees are good for the goose, but not for the gander?

Why shouldn’t growth be required to pay for itself?

Why aren’t mega-developers – who contribute thousands of dollars in campaign funds to hand-select candidates each election – being asked to pay their fair share for the out-of-control growth our elected officials have approved from Farmton to the Flagler County line?

And how did our gasoline tax infrastructure fund – that sends .12-cents on every gallon we pump to Volusia County government – go broke? 

 Questions, questions. . .

Then, not satisfied with a 100% buy-in by the cities – some elected officials on the Dais of Power in DeLand demanded that an envoy from each municipality parade before the County Council, hat in hand, heads bowed like the slavish vassals they have become – before prostrating themselves and demonstrating their iron-clad support for the sales tax increase.

The incomparably arrogant Councilwoman Deb Denys said, “I don’t think it’s asking too much to ask those entities who have skin in the game to appear before council and make the request as a unified group.  Without a unified approach (read: spreading the political liability) – we do not send a unified message.  I’m expecting to see a full chamber – I won’t do it without everybody.”

My ass.

In the interim, the Florida Legislature passed a measure which requires any county or school district seeking a sales tax hike to submit to an independent performance audit with the results posted 60-days before the referendum appears on the ballot.

Then, on Friday, I heard a rumor from a very knowledgeable source, that the panjandrums at the Volusia CEO Business alliance were considering pulling the tax increase off the table once again – citing a growing negativity among Volusia County voters and a crowded ballot.

Other smart people speculated that Mr. Dinneen and our oligarchs who pull the strings couldn’t weather an external audit of a county government that seems to exist solely to transform massive amounts of public funds into private profits for a select few well-heeled insiders.

Who knows?

But, the rumor proved true when, on Saturday, the Daytona Beach News-Journal announced that Mayor Apgar was calling a “special” meeting of all area mayors amid “increasing concerns” surrounding the sales tax initiative.

That group will meet at Daytona “International” Airport beginning at 11:45am this morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, the outcome of this confab will be interesting – especially in terms of what their collective, yet never revealed, “Plan B” is should the sales tax fizzle once again.

They do have a Plan B, right?

I mean, we’ve been told transportation Armageddon is threatening our very way of life here on the beleaguered Fun Coast if the sales tax fails – and an increase in impact fees is verboten – so our ‘Powers that Be” must have an alternative funding mechanism at the ready, right?

Time will tell.

If we have learned anything to this point, it is that Volusia County government is a macabre circus – a dumpster fire of ineptitude and abject dysfunction – a rudderless ship of fools, totally reliant on the direction and guidance of outside forces.

Now, our municipal officials have exposed themselves as well.

Appearing like a weird clown troop who willingly bent over for those bullies in DeLand who have openly tormented them for years – simply for the promise of a few table scraps from the windfall they all knew was coming.

Once this latest foul mess is exposed, perhaps those we have elected to represent our interests will deliver their long-suffering constituents from Jim Dinneen’s incompetence once and for all.

Then place an immediate moratorium on unchecked development until the adults in the room can work the problem.

If not, it is high time we demand change at the ballot box this fall.




On Volusia: A Scary Diagnosis

The online reference site Wikipedia defines the study of Political Psychology as “an interdisciplinary academic field dedicated to understanding politics, politicians and political behavior from a psychological perspective.”   


Could a political psychologist have a field day in Volusia County or what?

Look, I’m no Sigmund Freud, but my layman’s psychoanalysis of our current crop of elected and appointed officials on the Dais of Power in DeLand finds a contagious psychosis at work – a virulent disorder that ensures malleability, lock-step conformity and a pathological ability to compromise themselves in their pursuit of power.

A shared illness that renders its victim’s completely devoid of independent thought or strategic vision.

When you expose those afflicted to an entrenched system that beats square pegs into round holes to protect the status quo, the disease spreads like a pandemic to other similarly situated local politicians.

The malady – let’s call it “Volusia Dysfunction Syndrome” – is marked by small-minded authoritarian personalities with enormous egos, a low ability for critical thinking and a voracious appetite for tax dollars.

Unfortunately, over time, these feeble victims of VDS are exploited and controlled, becoming drone-like servants to an insatiable machine which takes public funds and transforms them into private profits.

Just my weird diagnosis.  But is there another explanation?

I’m asking.

Perhaps it’s just good old-fashioned greed at work.

In his 2017 work in Politico, “The Boomtown that Shouldn’t Exist,” Michael Gunwald described Florida as a, “. . .precarious civilization engineered out of a watery wilderness, a bewildering dreamscape forged by greed, flimflam and absurdly grandiose visions that somehow stumbled into heavily populated realities.”

From its earliest days, the Sunshine State has been wholly controlled by uber-wealthy and incredibly influential political insiders who use large sums of cold cash to manipulate policy and ensure their direct access to an unlimited stream of public funds.

The examples are legendary – from big sugar to mega-developers – the width and breadth of this fragile paradise we call home has been environmentally and financially stripped by ravenous bastards driven by overweening greed in a never-ending pursuit of personal wealth and political power.

If you can’t see that pathology at play in Volusia County politics – you need new spectacles.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.

Our system of governance in Volusia County no longer bears any resemblance to a representative democracy – replaced by a weird camarilla of “Rich & Powerful” panjandrums who have turned our local elections into livestock auctions.

Now, there is a rumor circulating among well-informed people in our community that the Star Chamber at the Volusia CEO Business Alliance is strongly considering pulling the much-touted half-cent sales tax referendum off the November ballot – citing an increasing negative perception of this shameless money grab among Volusia residents – and a cramped slate which includes constitutional amendments, local seats and myriad other issues.

In my view, if true, this confirms once and for all the incredible power and influence a small group of ingrained political insiders, working totally outside the transparency and oversight of government processes, have on the direction of public policy even to the point of determining when We, The People can vote on important matters that effect our lives and livelihoods here on the Fun Coast.

I can’t think of anything less democratic – or more frightening.













Angels & Assholes for April 27, 2018

Hi, kids!

Welcome to the weekend!

Time for – as one astute critic recently described it – your weekly “tiresome load of crap”!

What an apt descriptor for these screeds!  I like it!

I was talking to one of our local ‘movers & shakers’ this week – a person who, unlike me, has real influence on the future of our region.  While we don’t agree on much of anything, we enjoy a mutual respect that allows us to politely debate our collective situation here on Florida’s Fun Coast.

During our discussion, my friend told me that he regularly reads Barker’s View, not because he concurs with my opinions, but because my take on the issues of the day keep him in stitches.

I appreciate that.

Look, I have a weird sense of humor, made dark by over three-decades in law enforcement, where gallows humor, based on shared experiences, helps bond first responders and alleviate the horror of the shocking incidents they are required to witness.

It was always understood that these jokes were just between us – never shared with family or the public.

In fact, in the quiet times when my mind wanders back to unpleasant places, it is the inappropriate stories and sick one-liners we used to ease the tension – rather than the terrible details that can contribute to post-traumatic stress – that I remember most vividly.

You laugh, rather than scream – and perhaps that’s the real benefit.

In today’s ultra-PC environment, police officers, firefighters and EMS professionals may have gotten away from the warped, tasteless humor that served my generation as an effective coping mechanism that built trust and unit cohesion.

Maybe that’s one reason for the incredible rise in PTSD and other stress-related disease in the emergency services?

I don’t know – but I think we could all afford to ‘lighten up’ a little in this country.

Regardless of your pursuit, it helps to find humor in the everyday events of life.

When we laugh at ourselves – find comedy in our differences and poke fun at our human faults and frailties, when we laugh with each other and not at each other, it keeps us humble – and binds us together.

The analytics provided by the platform which hosts this blogsite allow me to, among other things, track the number of views each post receives, see total visitors – and even review the search phrases and keywords that bring viewers to the site.

Last week, someone searching Google for information on an “incinerating toilet” was directed to Barker’s View.

I found that funny as hell.

I couldn’t figure out if it was a commentary on the quality of my writing – or an apt descriptor for what passes for governance here in Volusia County – both of which resemble a raging sewer fire.

Look, I’m not a religious guy – just another hopeless sinner who tries to be a better man today than I was yesterday – but the bible says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance . . .”

I hope you find the time to laugh today.

Now, let’s 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:             Daytona Blues Festival

Say so-long to another piece of what passes for arts and entertainment in this cultural wasteland we call home.

Last evening, late word was received from a loyal Barker’s View reader – and long-time festival volunteer – that the Daytona Blues Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation founded in 2009 to produce an annual blues music weekend at Jackie Robinson Ballpark (with all proceeds going to support health initiatives for women and children in Volusia and Flagler counties) – is closing the show for good.

According to a note on the foundation’s website, “Costs and competitive events have increased, and the festival can no longer rely on the amazing local sponsors that supported its production.”

That’s a damnable shame.

And another loss in a long-list of “used to be” events.

During its impressive 8-year run, the Daytona Blues Festival raised over $295,000 for women and children in our area.

While our various “committees,” “task forces” and community development dilettantes waste time wringing their hands about how we are ever going to pull ourselves out of this quicksand of blight, dilapidation and economic stagnation that plagues the Halifax area like a golem – perhaps we should begin by identifying those aspects of life on the Fun Coast that attract or repel quality investment.

Determine what’s working for us – and what isn’t.  You know, Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Many designers, urban planners, public administrators and creative elected officials throughout the nation are learning that a lively arts and cultural scene can improve struggling communities by building connections, creating a sense of place and improving the “livability” of an area.

By finding (and funding) ways in which people from all walks of life can come together in public spaces, meet and be exposed to their neighbors, we can encourage social interaction and civic engagement.

Celebrations and festivals help increase community participation (been to Mount Dora lately?) and draw people from outside the area.  In fact, two of our most successful local municipalities – New Smyrna and DeLand – each have a vibrant cultural scene, an active community theater and recurring public art and music events.

In my view, revitalization begins when people take true ownership of their community and engage both emotionally and intellectually in transforming it into a place they are proud to call home.

Local government can help by ensuring attractive amenities and common-sense regulations that encourage entrepreneurial investment – rather than pricing a day at the beach out of reach of families or tipping the playing field in favor of insiders with “public/private partnerships” and multi-million-dollar corporate welfare handouts.

I assure you, despite the “game changer” promises of those who stand to benefit – a new insurance building, or a tacky theme hotel – isn’t the transformative, God-gifted panacea the anointed ones are hoping for.

The following is a quote from the famed Justice Michael Musmanno of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Conrad v. City of Pittsburgh:

“The objective of a community is not merely to survive, but to progress, to go forward into an ever-increasing enjoyment of the blessings conferred by the rich resources of this nation under the benefaction of the Supreme Being for the benefit of all the people of that community.

 If a well governed city were to confine its governmental functions merely to the task of assuring survival, if it were to do nothing but to provide ‘basic services’ for an animal survival, it would be a city without parks, swimming pools, zoos, baseball diamonds, football gridirons, and playgrounds for children. Such a city would be a dreary city indeed.

 As man cannot live by bread alone, a city cannot endure on cement, asphalt and sewer pipes alone.

 A city must have a municipal spirit beyond its physical properties, it must be alive with an esprit de corps, its personality must be such that visitors—both business and tourist—are attracted to the city, pleased by it and wish to return to it. That personality must be one to which the population contributes by mass participation in activities identified with that city.”

How would you define the Halifax areas “personality”?

Angel:             Flagler Sheriff Rick Staley

According to Sheriff Rick Staley, serious crimes were down some 18% in Flagler County the first quarter of 2018.  That’s a significant drop, and something the Sheriff’s Office should rightly take pride in.

As a former police chief, I always tried to remain neutral when crime trended down – because I didn’t want to defend my agency when the numbers invariably went up – choosing instead to focus on those aspects of crime and community problem solving that law enforcement traditionally has a positive impact on.

Then again, I didn’t have to stand for re-election every four-years either.

I find it most impressive that Sheriff Staley isn’t resting on his laurels.

In fact, since taking office he has worked hard to develop innovative programs that address the causative aspects of crime – such as domestic violence prevention or monitoring habitual felony offenders – and, perhaps most important, a geographic patrol strategy for field deputies.

From quaint beach communities, to the core population center of Palm Coast and rural agricultural areas to the west – the unique nature of each region of the county requires different focus, assets and organizational specialties – something Sheriff Staley is working hard to identify.

In my view, residents of Flagler County are well-served by Sheriff Rick Staley and the incredibly professional team he has assembled.

Asshole:          Volusia County Council

Next week, those dullards we elected to represent our interests on the Dais of Power in DeLand will decide whether to ask voters if they want a half-cent sales tax increase, and – believe it or not – there is still some naïve speculation on the fate of this shameless money grab.    

I’m going to go out on a limb here – put on my Swami hat – and set the conjecture to rest with one of my Markstradamus Prophecy’s:

Folks, rabid red-eyed hellhounds couldn’t prevent that tax increase from going before Volusia County voters this fall. 

 In fact, many municipalities, like the City of Daytona Beach, are already salivating like Pavlov’s dogs at the mere thought of it – holding workshops and asking themselves (because they sure as hell aren’t interested in hearing what you and I have to say) how best to spend the windfall they just know is coming.

For many local governments, simply strapping every man, woman and child with a sales tax increase won’t be enough – they will use the additional revenue to secure massive bonds (read: debt) to further burden our children and grandchildren.

Trust me – this onanistic tax-and-spend wet dream is getting elected officials throughout Volusia County all hot and bothered.

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, under the current trickledown scheme, Volusia County will throw a $3.7 million table scrap to Daytona Beach annually.

 “Over 20-years, the half-cent sales tax could be worth $74 million to Daytona Beach. With distribution of the special tax collections based on population, the tally could push $1 billion as the number of Daytona Beach residents grows.”

That’s “Billion” – with a “B.”

In my view, the only thing you and I – the long-suffering taxpayers – have going for us is a new measure signed into law by Governor Rick Scott last month that requires an independent performance audit before the referendum can be placed on the ballot.

The requirement sent a shiver through local public officials like an ice water enema.

For instance, our mendacious fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, left little doubt how he feels about any measure that would add a modicum of oversight and transparency to his ability to tax the eyeballs out of his constituents:

“It’s a ridiculous process to have to go through,” Old Ed said.

“It takes away from home rule and the voter’s decision to do something. They (lawmakers) did this for control and for political reasons to say they are watching out for the people. It’s to show they have control. If this was not an election year I’m not sure they would have done it.” 

You mean like when Volusia County used public funds to file suit against its own citizens when they wanted a vote on beach access and management decisions?

Come on, Ed – even in your addled state you must remember when Jim Dinneen directed his weaponized county attorney to ensure that the Let Volusia Vote petition never saw the light of day, like you said, “for control and for political reasons”?

Well, those elected and appointed officials who support this sneak thievery might be in for a rude awakening come November.

If I was a sitting politician, I wouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch.

In my view, reality is finally coming home to roost – We, The People no longer trust the gross lies, deceit and political sleight-of-hand that keeps all the right last names firmly attached to the public tit – while you and I are strong-armed for more-and-more tax dollars.

I believe our collective frustration is going to have a real impact at the ballot box this fall.

Asshole:          Ormond Beach City Commission

Nothing pisses people off like having their intelligence insulted by those who accept public funds to work in the public interest.

Last week, many of my neighbors were incensed by the fact that the City of Ormond Beach hosted a faux-celebration of “Earth Day” even as the stench of rotting old growth hardwoods wafted from that muddy gash on Granada Boulevard – an environmental nightmare that traded a canopy of historic trees and natural buffers for another convenience store.

Many times, all it takes is one highly visible affront to awaken the sleeping masses to an important issue that, under normal circumstances, many would shrug-off as “politics as usual.”

But this was different.

There is a visceral, “scorched earth” component that shocked our conscience.

What happened to those beautiful trees and wildlife habitat was wrong – and all the self-serving bullshit being spewed by the developer and those who stand to profit won’t change that reality.

great oak

Equally offensive is when public officials attempt to salve-over our raw emotions by pretending to give two-shits about the environment, all while weakening land use regulations to accommodate speculative developers with a profit motive and paying lip service to residents who fear for the value and viability of their homes, now that the topography and character of their long-established neighborhoods has been radically altered.

Trust me – the all-male revue on the Ormond Beach City Commission have proven – by their actions – that they care more about a green dollar than our greenspace, our quality of life or the unique character of our beautiful community.

“Earth Day?”  My God.

These people should be ashamed of themselves.

Quote of the Week:

 “All of this obfuscation merely raises the notion that politicians have lost all credibility and respect from the people you claim to represent. We will not be bullied into raising our taxes for the convenience of elected officials who refuse to do the job they were elected to do.”

–Thomas Kehoe, Ormond Beach, letter to the editor “Not fooled by tax,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, April 25, 2018

I get the feeling that citizens of Volusia County are fed up with being openly lied to by elected tools who believe that We, The People are too stupid to understand the “complicated” nature of impact fee calculations and proportional share agreements.

In my view, so long as mega-developers continue to funnel thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of their hand-select candidates – the quid pro quo return will never permit an increase in impact fees or other regulations that require those who benefit from unchecked growth to pay for services and infrastructure related to it.

Our elected officials would rather gnaw their own arm off than approve any measure increasing costs that adversely affect a developer’s bottom line.

Why?  Because those same developers paid their admission to the to big dance, that’s why.

Mr. Kehoe is right.

The citizens have lost all respect and confidence in county government – a reality that should send a strong message to vulnerable municipal officials up for re-election who continue to stand in lock-step with these greedy shitheels – putting the lust for easy money over the trust of their constituents.

 And Another Thing!

 This is day 58 of the illegal beach blockade behind the Hard Luck Hotel, but who’s counting. . .

 If you’re like me, you’ve been champing at the bit to do something – anything – to express your growing anger with the Volusia County Council’s asinine decision to close 410’ feet of our beach behind the Hard Rock Daytona in violation of their own ordinance which spelled out strict performance and completion standards for the project.

Along with a drop-dead date of February 28th.

Although a “certification” was pencil whipped by Hard Rock International and readily accepted by Little Jimmy Dinneen, visible construction activity is still underway on the property today.

What gives?  And why are our elected representatives bending over for this shit?

I think we all know the answer to that question – but we don’t have to take it lying down.

Please join me and those intrepid members of Sons of the Beach – Florida’s premiere beach advocacy – for a peaceful protest on the strand behind Hard Rock Daytona on Sunday, May 20th (Mark the date!  Time and details will be forthcoming).

In matters of public policy – there is strength in numbers – and now is the time for us to come together and let our elected representatives know exactly how we feel about the closure of our beach – and those horrific posts they used to accomplish it!

Besides, a little civil disobedience from time-to-time is good for the soul – and our democracy.

Also, if you’re looking for a fun activity for the kids this weekend, consider the Daytona 100 Children’s Bike Ride!

On Saturday, children 8 and up can join Daytona Beach police officers on a 2.6-mile bicycle ride – then enjoy a fun day at the John H. Dickerson Center with games, food, music and more.

Best of all – the event is free!

The fun begins at 9:00am at the Dickerson Center, 308 Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, Daytona Beach.  All riders must wear closed-toe shoes and bicycle helmets (the Daytona Beach Police Department will provide helmets to registered participants if needed).

For more information, or to register your child for the event, go to:


Have a great weekend, kids!




On Daytona: Short Term Rentals – A Different Solution to an Age Old Problem

At first blush, I really didn’t think I had a dog in this fight.

After all, I don’t own rental property and my experience with short-term rentals is limited to my family’s increasing use of online “sharing” services like Airbnb and VRBO – sites that pair vacationers and business travelers with hosts around the world.

I enjoy the convenience of renting a larger space – such as a private home or condominium – often for less than the cost of a chain hotel.

If you haven’t tried it, I strongly encourage you to consider it.

The more I ruminated on the issue, the more I realized that anyone with a vested interest in the health and future of the Daytona Beach Resort Area should keep an eye on how our ‘powers that be’ ultimately settle the growing battle between the City of Daytona Beach and owners of short-term rental properties – both of which depend on a vibrant tourism industry.

On Monday, Circuit Judge Leah Case found merit in the property owner’s case and the lawsuit will continue.

As I understand it, short-term vacation rentals are currently prohibited in most residential areas of the city by an ordinance dating to 1993, which, among other things, sets rules requiring a minimum rental of six months duration.

Although current regulations permit the practice in certain “tourist zoning districts,” vacation rentals are a no-no in most neighborhoods.

Apparently, the city didn’t begin enforcing the prohibition with any regularity until 2015.

In my view, this expensive and time-consuming fight is unfortunate – and its time that the City of Daytona Beach and other municipalities in the mosaic of communities in east Volusia County awaken to the benefits of this growing segment of the state’s tourism economy.

You don’t have to venture very far into many neighborhoods in Daytona Beach – especially on the languishing beachside – to see the devastation that has resulted from a stagnating service-based economy, decades of neglect, a lack of strategic vision and almost non-existent code enforcement.

In certain areas, malignant blight is so prevalent that it creates a gut-wrenching visual.

The deplorable condition of once vibrant residential and commercial districts is defining our community in the eyes of residents and visitors alike – and that’s not a good thing for the future of tourism on Florida’s Fun Coast.

When investors purchase dilapidated properties and renovate them into a marketable short-term rental – it has a radiating effect in the surrounding area, slows the spread of blight and proves that pride in appearance can be equally contagious.

According to the intrepid Mary Synk, who owns short term rental property in Daytona Beach, these renovations are performed at private expense, without tax abatement or government incentives, and the construction and ongoing maintenance provides jobs, such as landscaping, property management and other trades while increasing sales at local businesses.

In addition, allowing sharing services to collect and remit occupancy taxes on behalf of hosts would contribute to the overall economic health of our community.

In fact, a recent study by Walt Disney World – no slouch when it comes to the art and science of tourism – found that vacationers who use short-term rentals spend five times more money during their stay than those who use traditional hotels.

To help educate the public and lobby for responsible regulation and ownership in this growing industry, Ms. Synk and her group Supporting Affordable Vacations for Everyone has developed an informational website at www.savedaytona.org – I encourage everyone to check it out.

Obviously, local governments must retain the right to enact common-sense rules to alleviate nuisance issues and ensure the health, safety and quality of life for all residents – but property owners should be permitted to market short-term rentals in an open and responsible way without oppressive government regulation.

In my view, many local hotel/motel operators are part of the problem.

For years they have refused to reinvest in their product, squeezed profits while paying shit wages for scullery work and allowed their facilities and amenities to deteriorate.  While some hoteliers have kept up with the times, many others on Atlantic Avenue and beyond have become little more than fleabags which contribute to the seedy sense of hopelessness that continues to plague revitalization efforts.

And those flophouses that dot Ridgewood Avenue from New Smyrna to Ormond Beach are essentially  crime incubators – places that harbor transient drug dealers, prostitution activity and provide an unsafe environment for unfortunate families caught between a week-to-week motel room and homelessness.

In my view, it’s time that our elected and appointed officials come to the realization that we simply must incorporate innovation and alternatives to the status quo.

It is also time for local government to get the hell out of the marketplace.

Why is it so damn difficult for public officials to grasp that when you create an aesthetically pleasing environment with responsible government regulations that encourage entrepreneurial investment and a level playing field, good things happen?

Trust me – the last thing east Volusia cities need to be wasting code enforcement efforts on is vacation rentals. . .

According to John Albright, president and CEO of Consolidated-Tomoka – who’s compensation package demonstrates that he is infinitely smarter than I am – recently said in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, “I think it’s an awesome idea to incentivize people to invest in these properties.” 

He went on to explain that many successful resort areas throughout Florida – all of which compete with the Halifax area – have embraced short-term rentals as part of their comprehensive tourism and marketing strategy.

“If they can have it, why can’t we? We can start with an area and see how it goes. You could go from Main Street to ISB and around the Ocean Center,” he said.

I agree.

If any good came from that wheel-spinning exercise that was the Beachside Redevelopment Commission, it’s that our community leaders are beginning to realize that doing the same thing for decades, while expecting a different result, isn’t working out.






On Ormond Beach: A Shock to the Conscience

I frequently receive heartfelt calls and messages from residents of the Halifax area who are increasingly dissatisfied by the direction our local political “leaders” – from New Smyrna to Ormond Beach – are taking us.

Especially in terms of irresponsible development.

In Ormond Beach, many remain horrified by the sight of the shocking scene of the environmental abattoir that now encompasses both sides of Granada Boulevard.

Recently, to make way for a commercial project spearheaded by local developer Paul Holub, a beautiful hardwood hammock populated by majestic old growth oak trees was clear-cut – I mean decimated and churned into sawdust – to make way for another convenience store, a chicken wing drive-thru and a mystery grocery.

An intrusive, noisy, high-traffic and completely inappropriate commercial beehive plopped at the exact interface of a long-established residential neighborhood and the Granada corridor.

Many times, all it takes is one highly visible insult our collective conscience to awaken the sleeping masses to an important civic issue that, under normal circumstances, many would shrug-off as “politics as usual.”

But this is different.  There is a visceral component to the devastation.

What happened to those historic trees and wildlife habitat was wrong.

I recently spoke with a citizen who lives near Mr. Holub’s muddy quagmire on Tomoka Road who, due to his homes proximity to the project, has real concerns about how the radical change in topography will affect flooding issues in his neighborhood and beyond.

The gentleman told me that he called a long-time Ormond Beach city commissioner who – astonishingly – dismissed the citizen’s concerns, then crowed that he had never made a mistake during his over 15-years on the dais of power.

Other neighbors that I’ve spoken to report similar responses to their concerns about the project – and it appears no one on the all-male revue that is the Ormond Beach City Commission seems to see a problem with this wholesale destruction of a natural space that has galvanized our community.

And that, my friends, is the crux of the problem we face.

During my service in municipal government, I learned that all people really want is to be listened to.

They want to know that those who they elect to make decisions that directly effect their lives and livelihoods care enough to hear their concerns – then factor that input into the legislative process.

It really is that simple.

The problem is, in government as in many pursuits where imperfect human beings are granted extraordinary power over others, a mild superiority complex – over time – morphs into unbridled hubris.

This isn’t universally true – I know several long-serving politicians who respect the high office they have ascended to and hold their sacred responsibilities to constituents above their own self-interests.

But it is increasingly rare at all levels of government.

The problem begins when the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker transition from engaged citizen to elected policy maker and begin the slow process of setting themselves apart from their constituents.

Very important people begin to fawn over them, they are invited to social events that they wouldn’t have been allowed to wash dishes at before the election – and the symbiotic relationship based upon, “I need your campaign contribution.  Good, because I need your vote on certain issues. . .” begins to blossom.

Once they sell their souls and compromise their independence – some politicians become everything they hated.

Soon after they assume a position of power, the media takes notice, and our newly minted royals are quoted on the front page of the newspaper, no matter how inane – or untrue – their every utterance may be.

They begin to buy into their own schtick.

Add to that the trappings of the office, and the near-constant kowtowing of the sycophantic lickspittles who often populate low-level government offices and elected officials begin to believe they are “different” from the rest of us – which reinforces an overweening sense of infallibility.

The checks and balances of self-doubt begin to evaporate and the “I’ve never made a mistake” pathology takes root.

In Volusia County, the Donor Class have perfected a political strategy of funneling massive amounts of money into the campaign coffers of their hand-select candidates for local offices early in the process – a tactic which scares away otherwise viable candidates without the financial wherewithal to mount an effective challenge.

In short, the electorate begin to feel that the outcome is a foregone conclusion – they are inundated by glossy mailers touting the bought-and-paid for candidate’s attributes and see professionally produced television advertisements of the wannabe and his perfectly coiffed family frolicking on the beach – and the voters natural instincts are dulled.

After all, if an astronomically successful billionaire believes Joe Schmoe is good for our community – who am I to disagree?

And the cycle continues.

It is heartening to see that from the utter shock of the Holub debacle has grown a grassroots effort in the form of CANDO II – a group of concerned Ormond Beach residents who are committed to environmentally responsible growth and accountability in future land use decisions.

So far, one quality candidate has emerged in Ormond’s Zone 3 race to challenge the status quo – who just happens to be – believe it or not – a woman (I mean, its an elected office – not the Ormond Beach Rotary Club, for Christ sake).

In fact, Sandy Kaufman – a veteran Volusia County Deputy Clerk of the Court – recently announced that preserving our greenspace and ensuring that the devastation seen at the Granada Pointe site never happens again is the very foundation of her candidacy.

Good for you, Ms. Kaufman – we need more like you in the mix.

I hope other citizens with a true desire serve their neighbors make the difficult decision to run as well.

In my view, the only way we can overcome the current political climate that has placed the whims and wants of political insiders over the real needs of residents is the power of the ballot box.

I fear it’s now, or never.

To quote Sheriff Mike Chitwood – Volusia County (and, I would add, many of its municipalities) – needs an enema.

In my view, it is time for voters to return a sense of humility and service-above-self to the Halls of Power in Ormond Beach and beyond.  We can do this by electing servant-leaders who have proven – by their actions, not the size of their campaign account – a willingness to work hard in the best interests of our county and communities.



Photo Credit:  The Daytona Beach News-Journal

Angels & Assholes for April 20, 2018

Hi, kids!

Never underestimate the extraordinary stupidity and dysfunction inherent to large bureaucracies in the absence of effective leadership and outside oversight.

What started out as a simple – but incredibly controversial – directive from County Manager Jim Dinneen to his toadies in the Coastal Division to close 410 linear feet of the beach to vehicular traffic behind the Hard Luck Hotel quickly escalated into the damnedest Keystone Kops farce ever foisted on a flabbergasted constituency.

Under the direct supervision of two highly paid senior department heads, a county contractor haphazardly stuck over $4,000 worth of horrendous, chemically-treated wooden utility poles in the sand.

God knows what you and I ultimately paid in installation costs.

Then, a vigilant citizen actually bothered to measure the distance and discovered that the slapdash blockade had been erected 20’ too far apart!

When it appeared on the front page of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, it was clear our dimwitted county council members were once again caught with their proverbial knickers around their knees – sputtering about another of “staffs” colossal howlers (careful not to mention the culpability of the Boss Clown) and gushingly assured us all that Summit Hospitality’s money would make it right again.

So, this week a new crew arrived (I’m sure with the required environmental permits in hand?) and replaced the round wooden poles with, well, square wooden poles.

new poles

To add insult, the county added EIGHT MORE POSTS to differentiate an emergency traffic lane cut right through the middle of where beachgoers would normally enjoy their beach.

According to our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley – the pillars will be “wrapped” in “something decorative like sea life, sea turtles, or shells, or fish.”

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.

You read it right.  The Enchanted Forest of wooden poles that are ruining the natural beauty and ambiance of our beach are about to be festooned with some artificial “decorative wrap.” 

(I promised a local pastor last week I would try my best to refrain from dropping the “F-word,” thus allowing him to share my posts with his flock without being publicly defrocked – but feel free to shoehorn that expletive in wherever you feel appropriate.) 

In my mind’s eye I can almost see Old Ed leading that troop of dunces he heads, pounding their fists and stomping their feet on the dais, gibbering repeatedly, “Square Good!  Round Bad! Square Good! Round Bad!” as bewildered citizens looking on from the gallery bury their faces in their hands. . .

Want to bet our friends at Summit Hospitality are beginning to wonder what in the hell they were thinking when they got in bed with these unctuous morons in Volusia County government?

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:             Bellaire Community Group

There are many things I don’t understand.  That’s obvious.

Among those are Japanese poetry, the mysteries of long division and the byzantine process of reporting Federal Income Tax.

When I was a young man, I dropped off my W-2 at the local H&R Block office, signed a 1040EZ, then cashed a small check a few weeks later.  Now, Patti handles our finances exclusively – God bless her – because I don’t know the difference between an itemized deduction and a hole in the ground.

With “assets” consisting of a high-interest mortgage on a wood frame cracker box and two used cars that we’re upside down on – trust me, we don’t have much to report – yet it now takes two accountants and a tax attorney to figure out what the high-rolling Barker’s owe the gov’ment?

Oh, well.  Like my mom used to say when I couldn’t throw a baseball very far, “You’re good at other things.”

During a long professional life in municipal government, I came to appreciate the inherent benefit in listening to the needs, wants and concerns of those I served.

I also learned about the power of committed citizens who mobilize in a noble cause – everyday people who band together and work cooperatively to bring about positive change in their neighborhood – or simply right a wrong – often against strong forces who seek to protect the status quo.

 Last evening, I had the distinct pleasure of speaking to the Bellaire Community Group – a caucus of civically-conscious neighbors working for the betterment of our lives and livelihoods in the Halifax area.

It was exciting – there was true enthusiasm in the room and a vested interest in the important issues.

In other words, it was completely unlike when I attend any local government meeting, which is like sitting in the wheelhouse of a sinking ghost ship on the Voyage of the Damned.

These aren’t loose cannons like me.  These are solid citizens with a unified interest in building a sense of community and improving our quality of life on the beleaguered beachside and beyond.

After a brisk Q&A covering a wide range of local topics moderated by the very astute Steve Koenig, the group gifted me with a special certificate – which, as promised, will occupy a place of honor here at Barker’s View HQ.


I enjoy being around smart people with good intentions in their heart – that’s how I learn – and I sincerely thank the intrepid members of the Bellaire Community Group for your incredible kindness and hospitality.

Asshole:          Flagler County School Board

In the tragic aftermath of the Parkland school shooting, the Florida legislature did what politicians always do, they had an immediate knee-jerk reaction without considering the means of implementation – or ultimate cost – of their always politically motivated “solution.”

It’s called an “unfunded mandate” – edicts that have long-term consequences for local governments.

In their mind, it is far better to do something – anything – quickly, even sloppily, then face the withering criticism that often comes when taking the time to get it right.

If that means trampling a few privacy rights and moving closer to an Orwellian dystopia with omnipresent government surveillance – where our collective “security” is decided by the powerful at secret meetings held behind locked doors – so be it.

Earlier this week, the Flagler County School Board met in closed session to approve a measure to pay a Vermont company, Social Sentinel, $18,500 annually to monitor social media and online postings for various words, emojis, keywords and hashtags that the security program’s “Artificial Intelligence” deems to be threatening or criminal in nature.

According to the news outlet FlaglerLive.com, last month when district panjandrums first met in secret session to hear a sales pitch from the company, not even Sheriff Rick Staley – the county’s chief law enforcement officer – was permitted to attend.

I find that confusing – and disturbing.

Then, in perhaps the worst case of contradictory political double-speak on record, school board member Andy Dance explained in the Daytona Beach News-Journal that the public was kept in the dark because, “Too much public information could reduce the effectiveness of security measures.” 

He then countered with, “…the district will have to “ensure to the public that this program is transparent and that we are not digging for information that’s not pertinent to school security.”

Wow.  I don’t make this shit up, folks.

I know many will say, “look, Barker – if I have to submit to 24/7 electronic surveillance of my online activity to keep our kids safe, so be it.” 

 The fact is, if I thought for one nanosecond that using a computer program to interpret the meaning of words and phrases on social media would provide a whit of protection I would agree.

But I don’t.

The fact is, law enforcement and security professionals know well what is required to physically secure a school – and they know the harsh reality of what it takes to neutralize an active threat.

Unfortunately, Flagler County school administrators would rather hire an out-of-state Big Brother to monitor the online communications of tens-of-thousands of well-adjusted, law-abiding citizens rather than make the uncomfortable decisions necessary to truly keep our children safe.

The reality is that many in academia – who have no idea what the term “security” means – are adamantly opposed to having trained personnel, outfitted with the life-saving tools to defend life, anywhere near a campus.

Effective physical security protocols are “scary” and “distasteful,” often deliberately inconvenient, so they throw the concept of liberty – and what’s left of “privacy” in 2018 – out the window in favor of technological invigilators that they believe can detect what amounts to thoughtcrimes – or as a Social Sentinel representative phrases it, “the language of harm” – and identify anyone suspected of harboring ideas or opinions which the government finds threatening.

In the immediate aftermath of the Parkland atrocity – everyone associated with that campus – students, parents, teachers and administrators alike – knew the exact identity of the shooter, with many saying within minutes of the bloodshed that they were convinced this homicidal maniac was a ticking time bomb years before his horrific act of violence.

In fact, local, state and federal law enforcement authorities were repeatedly made aware of the growing threat posed by this sick bastard, yet either ignored the warnings, or were hamstrung by a system that coddles juvenile criminals and has no effective mechanism for treating children (or adults, for that matter) who suffer from serious mental illness.

Trust me – over-medicating and desensitizing children with violent video games isn’t working out – and all the social media watchdogs in the world won’t change that.

And don’t get me started on the lack of effective action to curtail bullying in schools – an unchecked malignancy on our educational system that contributes to thousands of aggressive encounters, suicides and increased student dropout rates each year.

Perhaps it’s time we come to the difficult realization that academic policy wonks and eggheads with Ph.D.’s (and no life experience) aren’t necessarily subject matter experts on the physical security of high-population dynamic environments.

Just maybe it’s time school administrators begin listening to the suggestions of law enforcement and private security professionals, even though these effective strategies make sensitive educators queasy.

I think it was old Ben Franklin who said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Let that one sink in.

Whoever still believes that our Founding Fathers couldn’t have envisioned the physical and intellectual treats to our fundamental rights and freedoms in 2018 are sadly mistaken.

Welcome to 1984, Flagler County.

Asshole:          Volusia County Government

I wrote about this topic earlier in the week, but it bears repeating.

Regular readers of this forum know that there are two recurring issues near to my heart – beach access and government accountability.

Here on Florida’s Fun Coast, so long as public officials continue to haggle away our beach as an “inducement” to private developers, these two subjects will remain interconnected at the molecular level.

I also have a problem with our county government’s insatiable appetite for tax dollars – and the depths to which our elected officials will stoop to squeeze more of them from our wallet – all while allowing political insiders to get snout-deep in the public trough.

In an explosive exposé in Sunday’s Daytona Beach News-Journal, reporter Dustin Wyatt gave specific examples of how We, The People are being openly lied to by our mendacious County Manager Jim Dinneen and his brainwashed tools on the Volusia County Council.

While the municipalities prepare to pay fealty to their masters on the Dais of Power in DeLand – promenading before our elected royalty in a gutless demonstration of their lock-step support of Volusia County’s proposed half-cent money grab – smart people are beginning to question why every man, woman and child is being asked to contribute to transportation infrastructure, while those who stand to benefit most – the developers of these mega-communities – refuse to pay their fair share in impact fees.

And our elected officials refuse to even discuss it – using the insulting excuse that you and I are too damn stupid to understand the concept of making unchecked growth pay for itself.

In Sunday’s piece, our own elected somnambulist, Councilman “Sleepy” Pat Patterson, had the stones to lecture taxpayers on just how “complicated” this bait-and-switch scam really is, “In politics, you make a one-minute statement that requires a one-hour response that would put people to sleep.  And in this case, it’s several inches of print in the newspaper that really takes many, many inches to really get all the facts out. … It’s a lot more complicated than just saying ‘Raise the impact fee.’”

My ass.

While Sleepy Pat is merely a washed-up political hack repeating the party line – the uber-arrogant Councilwoman Deb Denys is either pitifully ignorant of the mechanics of this important issue – or she’s a compulsive liar.

Perhaps both.

According to the obviously ill-informed Ms. Denys, “We have existing impact fees, but developers are paying proportionate share fees on top of impact fees.  This strategy is brilliant.  It really is.”

Yep, it’s a brilliant sham, alright.

The problem is – it’s total bullshit.

In Dumb Deb’s defense, she is only parroting what County Manager Jim Dinneen told her and the rest of those dullards we elected to represent our interests – and trust me, that group isn’t known for doing its own independent research.

The fact is, developers that enter into proportional share agreements – a process designed to ensure that developments have the necessary infrastructure to move forward on schedule – do not pay “prop share” fees on top of impact fees.

Developers who pay into a proportionate share agreement save on the impact fees they owe Volusia County – fees which haven’t been increased in the past 15-years – or they receive “credits” which they can then sell to other developers who can then also save money on impact fees.

In my view, Professor Arthur Nelson of the University of Arizona – who literally authored the book on impact fees – best simplified Volusia’s lopsided deal with speculative developers, “Since 2003, road construction costs have risen 74% or roughly twice the 36% increase in the cost of living.  Road impact fees should be adjusted regularly to account for increases in costs.  If they aren’t?  It may fall further behind because (proportionate share) is based on current (construction) costs, while impact fees are based on older, lower costs.” 

 There now – that wasn’t so hard to understand, was it?

In most civilized areas of the free world, when sitting politicians and appointed officials get caught in bald-faced lies  – especially while trying to force their grubby fingers deeper into the pockets of their overburdened constituents – they do the right thing, resign their lofty positions, and slink off to that dark and slimy place where those who violate the public trust go to hide from the scornful gaze of their neighbors.

But this is Volusia County – the rules are different here.

Quote of the Week:

 “He (Dinneen) told me he was going to under-calculate and make it 408 feet instead, we don’t want to rush on how this is going to look. We want to make sure we do it right.”

 –Volusia County Councilwoman Billie Wheeler, speaking in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, regarding the replacement of the beach blockade after the original poles were placed too far apart.

Don’t want to rush?  Really?

After all the embarrassing slapstick and non-stop gaffes behind this shameless beach grab, a stupid move that has forever embarrassed our elected officials, confounded anyone with the smarts to read a tape measure and shattered the public’s trust in their county government – now this godawful debacle has exposed the fact our $300,000+ autocratic County Manager is intellectually and operationally incapable of simply putting the Tinker Toys in the right place.

Come on!  It’s not rocket surgery, Jim!

Jesus, the ordinance specified 410’ feet – not 408’ – why is that distance so hard to measure?

And since when does Jim Dinneen have the authority to violate the letter of the law by arbitrarily deciding for the rest of us that the blockade will now be two-feet shorter than required?

Questions, questions. . . always with the questions, Barker. . . 

And Another Thing!

Here’s a reminder that your Sons of the Beach – Florida’s premiere beach access advocacy – will hold a fund raiser this Sunday, April 22nd from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at Oasis Tiki Bar & Grill, 313 South Atlantic Avenue (oceanside of The Fountain Beach Resort).

Enjoy lunch and a cool beverage while listening to the live sounds of Tom Redmond, Buddy Kays and Paul Hart – and don’t forget to support the cause by joining in the 50/50 raffles – and pick up some cool SOB t-shirts, koozies and much more!

All proceeds go to help protect OUR right to beach driving and access.

If you aren’t already a member of SOB – joining is simple:  Just go to www.sonsofthebeach.org and sign up – then print your membership card!

Best of all, it’s free!  However, donations are accepted on the site.

It’s a great opportunity to get educated on the latest legal updates from the hard-working SOB legal team, and our dedicated Head Honcho – Paul Zimmerman – will have information on the planned peaceful protest of Volusia County’s wholesale giveaway of our century-old tradition of beach driving behind the Hard Rock Daytona.

Hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend, kids!






On Volusia: A Convenient Untruth

Everyone has heard the old Aesop fable about the boy who cried wolf – a tale of a mendacious young shepherd who found sport in falsely alarming the villagers that their communal flock was under threat.

You remember, the little bastard would sit up in a tree and scream, “Wolf!  Wolf!, while panic-stricken villagers quickly armed themselves with pitchforks and ran up the hill to protect the herd – only to find the sheep safely grazing nearby – and the boy laughing at them from his perch high atop the tree.

Well, as the story goes, this game went on for a while – until one day a big bad wolf skulked toward the sheep from the wood line – teeth bared and ready to attack.  The boy freaked out, scrambled up his tree and began screaming hysterically, “Wolf!  Wooooolf! Help!

A gentleman walking on the street heard the boy’s cries and asked, “What’s going on up there? 

Several more villagers became concerned about the commotion, but an elder calmed their fears, “Don’t worry, it’s just that asshole shepherd boy messing with us again – pay him no mind. . .”

 You know how the story ends.  It’s a moral as old as time.

But have you heard the old Barker’s parable, “Little Jimmy: The Lying Sack of Shit”? 

To make a very long and sad allegory short, Uncle Mark’s folktale involves an incredibly well-paid farm manager – Little Jimmy – who, over-time, develops a symbiotic relationship with a select few greed-crazed pigs and begins providing them with direct access to the feedtrough.

In turn, as the swine grow stronger, they protect the farmer from the rest of the hungry and increasingly angry animals on the farm.

The pigs know that if they throw a few extra carrots to the seven braying asses – powerful, but dumb beasts who have been tapped by the other animals in the barnyard to pull the cart, tend the fields, allocate the chicken scratch and ensure the welfare of the rest of the livestock – then they will also support Little Jimmy and let him pretend to run the farm.

So, Jimmy praises the not-so-bright asses for their good work, sets them apart from the rest, tells them how special they are and diverts their attention by spinning fantastic yarns about how important the gorging swine are to the farms viability.

As time goes by, the other animals realize they are suffering under a farm hand who now works exclusively for the pigs – pinching more-and-more of their feed to give to the pigs, ignoring the farms basic needs and lavishing the hogs with everything they need – all while the asses they rely on to protect their interests follow Little Jimmy and his pigs blindly, hoping for another carrot and a scratch behind the ear.

Even the swine are embarrassed by Little Jimmy’s cowardice and near-constant lies, but they keep him around to ensure a never-ending stream of fresh slop.

Sadly, the rest of the flock – the chickens, goats and sheep – eventually acquiesce to the fact that the farm now exists merely to supply the pigs with everything they need for a comfortable life, and they continue to work hard and peck for the scraps, all while the barn falls apart, the well is fouled and the pigs continue to prosper in their elaborate gated pens where they live in relative luxury.

Ultimately, the farm goes to seed.

The best and brightest animals try hard to figure out a way to save it, but Little Jimmy’s lapdogs keep yapping incessantly, insinuating themselves into the process and ultimately water down any substantive ideas and insulate Jimmy and the pigs from any responsibility – all while the dazed animals continue to give more-and-more of their hard-earned feed to supply the insatiable appetite of the swine.

Now, even as Jimmy tries desperately to convince them that the pigs are doing their fair share – none of the animals believe anything the farmer says.

They have seen too much.

Again, it’s a message as old as time.

In an explosive exposé in Sunday’s Daytona Beach News-Journal entitled “Fare Share?” reporter Dustin Wyatt gave specific examples of how We, The People are being openly deceived by County Manager Jim Dinneen and our elected officials on the Volusia County Council.

While the municipalities prepare to pay fealty to their masters on the Dais of Power in DeLand and show their lock-step support of Volusia County’s proposed half-cent money grab – smart people are beginning to question why taxpayers are being asked to contribute to transportation infrastructure, while those who stand to benefit most – the developers of these mega-communities – refuse to pay their fair share in impact fees.

Something our elected officials refuse to even discuss – using the insulting excuse that you and I are too stupid to understand the concept of making unchecked growth pay for itself.

In Sunday’s piece, our own elected Rip Van Winkle, Councilman “Sleepy” Pat Patterson, had the stones to lecture taxpayers on just how “complicated” this bait-and-switch scam really is, “In politics, you make a one-minute statement that requires a one-hour response that would put people to sleep.  And in this case, it’s several inches of print in the newspaper that really takes many, many inches to really get all the facts out. … It’s a lot more complicated than just saying ‘Raise the impact fee.’”

My ass.

While Sleepy Pat is merely a tired political hack deftly repeating the party line – the uber-arrogant Councilwoman Deb Denys is either pitifully ignorant of the mechanics of this important issue – or she’s a compulsive liar.

According to the obviously ill-informed Ms. Denys, “We have existing impact fees, but developers are paying proportionate share fees on top of impact fees.  This strategy is brilliant.  It really is.”

 Yep, it’s a brilliant sham, alright.

The problem is – it isn’t true.

In Deb’s defense, she is only parroting what County Manager Jim Dinneen has told her – and the rest of those dullards we elected to represent our interests – and trust me, that group isn’t known for it’s collective intelligence, or for doing its own independent research on the issues of the day. . .

The fact is, developers that enter into proportional share agreements – a process designed to ensure that projects have the necessary infrastructure to move forward on schedule – do not pay “prop share” fees on top of impact fees.

Developers who pay into a proportionate share agreement actually save on impact fees they owe Volusia County – fees which haven’t been increased in the past 15-years – or they receive “credits” which they can then sell to other developers who can also save money on impact fees.

In my view, Professor Arthur Nelson of the University of Arizona – who literally wrote the book on impact fees – best simplified Volusia’s lopsided deal with speculative developers, “Since 2003, road construction costs have risen 74% or roughly twice the 36% increase in the cost of living.  Road impact fees should be adjusted regularly to account for increases in costs.  If they aren’t?  It may fall further behind because (proportionate share) is based on current (construction) costs, while impact fees are based on older, lower costs.” 

Or, I suppose you can just tax the eyeballs out of every man, woman and child to pay for infrastructure improvements, while developers – you know, your campaign sugar daddies who control our system – continue to haul cash to the bank in dump trucks.

Sounds to me like a “complicated” smokescreen to divert our attention as they terrify the masses with horror stories about what our future will look like if we fail to shut up and pay up.

The problem is – given the frequency of the lies and half-truths – how do we trust anything they say at this point?

Sounds kind of like that little dipshit who constantly cried wolf, eh?

In most civilized areas of the free world, when sitting politicians and appointed officials are caught in brazen, bald-faced lies  – especially while trying to force their grubby fingers deeper into the pockets of their constituents – they do the right thing, resign their lofty positions, and slink off to that dark and slimy place where those who violate the public trust go to hide from the scornful gaze of their neighbors.


On Volusia: A Matter of Life and Death

Last Friday, we were graced with mega-developer and High Panjandrum of Political Power, Mori Hosseini’s, smiling visage on the front page of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – beaming with pride as he kicked off ICI Homes’ marketing campaign for his new Mosaic “full life” community.

The 1,200 home development joins Latitudes Margaritaville – the Jimmy Buffett-inspired faux-beach community currently under construction on top of our sensitive water recharge areas – bringing the total number of homes and commercial structures in that area to over 11,000 in next five to six years.

That doesn’t include out-of-control growth which has already been approved along the spine of east Volusia from Farmton to the Flagler County line.

As I like to say, “that’s a lot of Walmart shoppers, kids.”

In announcing the big Mosaic grand opening, News-Journal business writer Clayton Park said, “Another big piece is being added to the white-hot development puzzle already taking shape just west of Interstate 95.”   

Puzzling indeed.

Our own doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley – a sycophantic bootlicker who didn’t miss a prime chance to kiss Mori’s sizeable ass – was quoted in the article, “It’s going to have a big impact on the area.  The rooftops are going to help support more businesses in the area.”

You bet your bippy it’s going to have a “big impact,” Ed.

And not just on roads and water. . .

So – absent strapping every man, woman and child in Volusia County with a money grubbing half-cent sales tax increase – exactly what are you and the rest of those dullards we elected to represent our interests doing to ensure this massive growth pays for itself?

This summer, we will all be regaled with flashlight-under-the-chin scary stories from our elected and appointed officials warning of the traffic gridlock – and the horror of drinking our own wastewater – if we don’t vote to increase our sales tax, even as they refuse to even discuss impact fees, much less consider a moratorium on unchecked development.

You want to know what frightens me?

In 2016, the Volusia County Professional Firefighters Association, a public employee union representing fire and emergency medical personnel, sent a letter to County Manager Jim Dinneen and the Volusia County Council warning that staffing shortages were limiting their ability to provide ambulance transport service to the nearly 80,000 calls-for-service received each year.

“It has now become normal to be at a patient’s side for 15, 30 and even 40 minutes or more, waiting for an ambulance to arrive,” the letter said. 

When the serious concerns of our first responders were met with deaf ears in Deland, in February, WFTV reporter Mike Springer combed through reams of data and determined that the response times for Volusia County emergency services have been slowly increasing year-over-year.

That’s serious.

In one of the worst displays of arrogance ever captured, when Springer attempted to interview Mr. Dinneen on camera – he became openly hostile, threw up his little hands and refused to answer legitimate questions, or even attempt to explain his administration’s position on perhaps the most serious issue facing Volusia County residents – before stomping off like the petulant shitheel we’ve come to know.

Adding to the incredibly unprofessional scene was a county mouthpiece repeating, “We’re not making any comments, we’re not making any comments” while running interference as Little Jimmy beat his cowardly exit from the hot zone.

Don’t take my word for it, watch it here:  https://www.wftv.com/news/local/union-volusia-county-ems-understaffed-to-point-of-significant-delays-for-emergency-services/698628791


On the afternoon of April 12th (just two days ago) the emergency services union made an urgent announcement on their social media page warning, “There are currently no available VC EMS aka EVAC ambulances in West Volusia County.” 

You read that right:  On Thursday afternoon there were no ambulances available in West Volusia.

Scary?  You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Within the last hour of this posting, the Volusia County Professional Firefighters Association announced:

*Announcement* Due to no available VC EMS aka EVAC ambulances in west Volusia County, both Rescue Engine 44 (Pierson) and Deltona Firefighters Rescue 61 are currently being used as transport units. RE44 is the transport unit for a medical call in DeLeon Springs.  (Saturday, April 14, 2018, approximately 9:40am)

That’s today – as in, “Right Now.”

What can we do?

Pray and hope for the best, I guess. . .

Or call your county council member and raise primordial hell until something – anything – happens to change this incredibly dangerous situation.

Much of what I write on this blog represents the everyday blunders, mistakes, faults, foibles and fuck-ups of a county government with no real leadership or accountability – and I realize Barker’s View can take on the appearance of a wacky blooper reel exposing one convoluted, almost comical mess after another.

But this is something else.

Ladies and gentlemen – if your family needs emergency medical services this morning, this afternoon, or next week – time is of the essence – and it doesn’t matter how good our local trauma center is if a patient can’t be transported there in time for doctors to make a difference.

We’re talking life-and-death here.

How many people will die before our elected officials come to the realization that another critical county service has gone haywire on Mr. Dinneen’s watch?

I’m asking.  Because the place seems to be on autopilot.

While Mr. Dinneen remains employed by keeping our elected officials laser-focused on approving massive “economic development” incentives, tax breaks and infrastructure improvements to meet the insatiable appetite of their uber-wealthy campaign sugar daddies – council members seem frighteningly paralyzed – or painfully oblivious – when it comes to meeting the serious needs of their constituents.

Like ensuring the effectiveness of emergency medical and ambulance services to over 500,000 people.

My God.  And these do-nothing assholes have the gall to stand for re-election? 

I’m sorry, but how do they look at themselves in a mirror?

I mean, their own families – and ours – depend on this essential service, right? 

In all honesty, if County Manager Jim Dinneen is unwilling or incapable of effectively managing this acute emergency – a problem that our brave first responders are shouting from the rooftops to expose – then he should step down immediately and make way for someone with the administrative and leadership skills to ensure the safety of Volusia County residents.

And – perhaps more important –  if our elected officials don’t have the political guts to ensure these essential life-saving services – it’s high-time they step aside for someone who will.



Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal


Angels & Assholes for April 13, 2018

Hi, kids!

As Barker’s View grows in popularity, I’m often asked by new readers to explain the difference in the colorful monikers I use to describe those who appear in this Friday Fun House I like to call Angels & Assholes.

It’s relatively simple.

Do you ever read the paper or watch the six o’clock news and find yourself mumbling “what an asshole” under your breath?  Well, that’s kind of how I form my goofy opinions on the newsmakers of the day.

“Angel” status is typically bestowed on someone who, in my opinion, has by a selfless good deed contributed to our collective welfare in some exceptional way – those who go ‘above and beyond’ to enhance the lives and livelihoods of us hapless rubes here on Florida’s beleaguered Fun Coast.

It can refer to the good work of an individual or organization – an act that shows great character, accountability, exceptionalism, artistry, sportsmanship or moral courage in the face of a physical, ethical or political challenge.

Those who give comfort to the sick, protect, serve and guard the vulnerable from victimization.

The term refers to those who, as President Theodore Roosevelt described, “…strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at best know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

It is the high-praise reserved for servant-leaders who make the collective interests of those they serve their highest priority – and give the whims of political insiders no more weight than the needs of struggling taxpayers who form the backbone of our economy.

In short, it is people just like you who get up every morning and work hard to improve the lives of your family – and our community – in so many unique and wonderful ways.

The everyday heroes who see a wrong and try to make it right.

Conversely, the term “Asshole” describes something very elemental, yet incredibly complex.

It is best described as the energy which directly opposes an angelic action in the Barker’s View Theory of Balance and Harmony.

The term is fittingly described by Merriam-Webster as “a stupid, annoying, or detestable person” and “the least attractive or desirable part or area – used in phrases like asshole of the world.”

According to Aaron James, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of California Irvine, “The job of foul language like “asshole” isn’t to describe the world, but simply to express one’s disapproving feelings, in an ejaculatory or cathartic burst facilitated by inherently emotive words.”

Yeah, what he said.

It’s all those things, and so much more.

But in the context of this alternative opinion blog, it describes my cynical view of the acts and omissions of those in our community who have a responsibility to defend our rights – to serve everyone equally, with basic fairness and a sense of social, economic and legal justice with malice towards none but those who wish us harm – yet abdicate those sacred responsibilities in favor of pursuing their own warped self-interests.

It also describes my feelings toward greedy speculative real estate developers – whose appetite knows no bounds – and have no qualms churning what’s left of our natural places into sawdust.

The term aptly defines the motives of astronomically wealthy political insiders who seek physical control of our democratic systems by the infusion of massive amounts of cash into the campaign coffers of hand-select candidates for local office – then command a weird quid pro quo which directs public policy by virtue of their mere presence at a public meeting.

It describes my jaded opinion of those craven politicians who kiss our collective ass at election time – then transmogrify into imperious, egotistical knobs with a haughty view of their own self-importance.

Please don’t confuse either of these apt descriptors with, say, those arrogant bastards who insinuate themselves onto the governing boards of colleges and universities – then engage in distracting drama, name everything from a new cafeteria to a two-hole privy after themselves, then refuse to provide the administrative and fiscal oversight required to protect students and staff – or those shysters masquerading as public servants who continue to push for an obscene half-cent money grab in the face of gross mismanagement and wasteful spending.

I call them, ‘dipshits.’

The conundrum for me – the moderator of this wacky forum – is when someone who is clearly an “asshole” breaks form and does something angelic, even virtuous, in the cause of improving our collective situation (even when their singular positive act has a whiff of self-interest to it.)

So, I choose to take these things as they come – giving credit where credit is due – and calling the balls-and-strikes as I see them.

Just remember: The beauty of this space is that you don’t have to agree with me – and many don’t.  You can form and share your own unique opinion on the issues of the day, and that, my friends, is what allows us to learn something new about our collective experience.

There now, I hope that clears-up any confusion!

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:             Daytona Beach Homeowner Chris Noe

I admire a man who can’t be bought.  That’s rare in today’s day and age.

Kudos to Chris Noe, who owns a historic home located literally in the shadow of what will be the new publicly subsidized headquarters of billionaire insurance intermediary Brown & Brown.

According to a recent article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Historic home complicates Brown & Brown’s Daytona Beach plans,” Mr. Noe has owned the beautiful property on Wisconsin Place for the past seven years – and he has no plans to move anytime soon.

The report states that realtors working for Brown & Brown made an initial offer of $150,000 for the home in December and have since upped the bid to a whopping $375,000.

No dice.

“If I was greedy, I would have just taken the money, but I want to save that house,” Noe said.

Instead of taking the money, Mr. Noe is sticking to his belief that the notable structure should be preserved – and has countered with an offer to have the house moved to a lot on Lexington Drive a few blocks away – a project that is estimated to cost in excess of $500,000.

(Perhaps J. Hyatt would like to open a satellite office up here in north Ormond?  Or maybe he could just use the old Barker house as a tool shed?  Trust me, if he offered me $375K for this cracker box, I’d be gone like a scalded dog.)

After years of strategic rot, Brown & Brown is now purchasing distressed properties in the area surrounding what will be its new campus – a project that everyone who is anyone is convinced will be the catalyst for all good things to come in Daytona’s beleaguered downtown.

In my view, the Halifax area has a dismal record of protecting places with historical significance.

Once they are gone, they are gone forever.

According to the News-Journal, Mr. Noe said, “They are offering me money I don’t need, I have peace and I don’t want to destroy it with the upheaval of moving to a new house.  I just want them to be responsible.  I want them to save the house and pay to move it.  Or I’m not leaving.”

Good for you, sir.  Good for you.

Asshole:          Volusia County Council

Well, here it is Friday the 13th, a spooky day that puts fear in those who are superstitious about such things.

But I’ve got to be honest – nothing scares me more than the weird machinations of what passes for governance here in Volusia County.

There is a disturbing trend afoot in the hallowed ‘Halls of Power’ over at the ivory tower known as the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Center in DeLand.

I have a real problem with our factually challenged county manager, Jim Dinneen, openly encouraging our elected officials to take credit for things that, quite frankly, never happened.

Such as spreading the damnable lie that the Volusia County Council has been at the “forefront” of protecting our heritage of beach driving and access.

My ass.

I also take issue with elected officials who privately scold constituents who have the guts to speak out and challenge their self-serving policies and stand up for that which they believe is right.

It’s called good citizenship – and the ability of free men and women to petition their government for redress of grievances – and vehemently criticize the decisions of our elected officials is a fundamental right of all Americans.

In fact, without the right to free expression and peaceful opposition – We, The People become indentured serfs who exist solely to pay the bills and acquiesce to the inherent greed of our bastardized political system.

Recently, the moderator of a social media site dedicated to providing an open forum for residents of Volusia County was taken to the woodshed by an unidentified sitting county council member who apparently didn’t appreciate his “tone” on discussions surrounding the Hard Rock beach blockade debacle.


As the author of an alternative opinion blog based on the premise that the exercise of our constitutionally protected right to free speech is important to our democracy – I don’t give a tinker’s damn about the sensitivities of those who stand for high office and embrace the power while eschewing the corresponding political accountability.

I suggest that if you occupy an elected or appointed position of influence, it’s probably a good idea to grow some hard bark – and open your mind to the fact not everyone agrees with your sense of infallibility and omnipotence.

And we are sick of being lied to by over-compensated appointed officials, dammit.

In my view, smart politicians can use the slings-and-arrows of civic dissent to their advantage by listening to opposing views, understanding the principal concerns of their constituents, then using that valuable data to gauge public opinion.

Even when that criticism stings.

We are citizens – not sheep – and it’s high-time these hyper-sensitive dunces we elected to represent our interests and steward our tax dollars understand that.

 Angel:             Florida Governor Rick Scott

Look, this goes against every fiber of my being – because by any metric, Slick Rick Scott is high in the running for “Reptilian Asshole of the Year” – but I simply must commend his recent veto of the super-weird ‘toilet-to-tap’ bill – an idiotic measure that would have been disastrous for Florida’s sensitive aquifer by polluting our sole source of drinking water for generations.

Of course, in my view, Governor Scott only took this important action because he’s running for the United States Senate – absent that, I think we all might well be drinking our own ordure. . .

The thing I find most disturbing is that ostensibly smart people – elected officials with a sworn duty to protect the health and welfare of their constituents – felt it was a good idea to permit wastewater utilities to pump sewerage effluent into our fragile drinking water supply as a means of permitting real estate developers to clear, fill and pave even more natural recharge areas of our increasingly thirsty state.

In fact, it boggles my mind that a majority of lawmakers would vote to approve such an astronomically reckless idea.

But they did.

Fortunately, Governor Scott succumbed to a rare instance of common sense (and the political threat of forever being known as “Governor Poopy Water”) when he nixed the controversial measure last Friday.

Look for similar asinine legislation to rear its ugly head in future sessions.

In Florida, bad public policy – like user fees, sales tax increases or shitting in our own nest – never really go away.

Angel:             Interim Chief Gerald Monahan, Jr.

In the immediate aftermath of former Chief Ron Wright’s abrupt departure from the helm of the South Daytona Police Department, I can only imagine the sense of hurt and confusion the officers and staff must be experiencing.

Sudden change always brings uncertainty.

During dark and difficult times, sometimes the right person steps in at just the right time to calm the waters; a trusted hand with the strength and insight to shepherd us through the storm.

I commend the City of South Daytona for selecting retired Port Orange Chief of Police Gerald Monahan to lead the department in an interim status until a permanent replacement can be found.

In my view, Chief Monahan is one of the finest law enforcement executives I had the pleasure of serving with.  He is intelligent, thoughtful and incredibly well-versed on the strategic management of law enforcement operations and emergency management.

He brings a calm, friendly demeanor to a very difficult and dynamic job – and his personal stability and professionalism inspire the confidence of subordinates and peers alike.

This was a solid move – and the good citizens of South Daytona will be well-served by Chief Monahan’s outstanding leadership.

Asshole:          Bethune-Cookman University Board of Trustees

I fear for the future of B-CU.

Last week, we learned of yet another lawsuit against the historic university – this time by Wells-Fargo alleging breach of contract in the convoluted dormitory scheme that may ultimately result in a crippling $306 million exposure.

Reports state that a company which built the dorms, and now rents the structure to B-CU, has not made a mortgage payment since November 2017.  According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, in coming days, back payments owed to Wells-Fargo will total nearly two-million dollars.

If the conflict can’t be resolved, the bank plans to sell the dormitory at auction – a move that could adversely affect some 1,200 current students.

While the strange saga that was the tenure of former B-CU President Edison O. Jackson has ended – what remains firmly ensconced in the cloistered halls of academia is the same bumbling Board of Trustees who sat idle while the college was apparently turned into a private piggy bank for a privileged few.

The very group who had both an ethical and fiduciary responsibility to students and staff to provide effective administrative and fiscal oversight instead turned their backs on those who needed them most.

Regardless of the outcome – can we all agree that local big shots like Joe Petrock, who served as chairman during the tumultuous reign of Dr. Jackson, has enjoyed enough bites at the higher education apple?

I mean, really.

From his adventures on the Daytona State College board – to the B-CU debacle – how many times do ostensibly smart people allow Mr. Petrock – and others like him – to steer a ship that is in serious danger of foundering?

Angel:             Guss Massfeller

I have to hand it to loyal Barker’s View contributor and long-time area activist, Guss Massfeller.

To help our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, visualize the depth and scope of Volusia County’s gross negligence in closing 20’ more of our beach behind the Hard Rock than was specified by ordinance – Guss conveniently gave Old Ed some great examples.

In a recent email to Chairman Kelley, Mr. Massfeller pointed out that twenty-feet is:

  1. About as tall as a giraffe
  2. About three-fourths as long as a London bus
  3. About one-and-a-half times as long as a Volkswagen Beetle
  4. About half as tall as a telephone pole

Our Chairman’s madcap response:

“As you are aware the poles were placed at the property lines of the Hard Rock, which is 430’ however the ordinance called for 410.’  A mistake was made and will be corrected at no cost to taxpayers that will be more ascetic (?) than the telephone poles.”

 For the record, “ascetic” means “austere in appearance.”

Conversely, the word our senior elected official was obviously grasping for – “aesthetic” – is defined as “something that is visually appealing.”

Let’s hope this is just another example of Old Ed’s limited vocabulary hamstringing his already challenged communications skills – and that he didn’t actually mean that these hideous utility poles will be replaced by something even more forbidding – like razor wire and gabion barriers.

Honest – I don’t make this shit up, folks. . .

Angel:             Daytona Beach Police Department

Since taking office last year, Chief Craig Capri continues to use technology to enhance how his agency provides important services to the public.

This week, the Daytona Beach Police Department became the first law enforcement agency in Volusia County to develop a mobile app to improve communications in the digital age.

I understand this progressive project was headed by the agency’s talented Public Information Officer Lyda Longa – an outstanding public servant who is working hard to improve the way residents receive important information on topics such as crime trends, emergencies and wanted persons.

Citizens can also use the app to file police reports and communicate anonymous crime tips.

Folks, this is what the future of policing looks like – and DBPD is clearly on the cutting edge.

Congratulations to Chief Capri and the Daytona Beach Police Department on this significant accomplishment.

Angel:             The Jantzen Bathing Beauty

The World’s Most Famous Beach lost another cultural icon this week.

With little fanfare, on Monday the 20-foot fiberglass diving girl in the red swimsuit that graced the front of Stamie’s Swimwear Shop on Ocean Avenue for over 50-years was unceremoniously removed from her decades-old perch and hauled away.

According to those in the know, the glamorous girl who became as much a part of the Daytona Beach Boardwalk as that tireless saltwater taffy machine in the front window of Zeno’s Sweet Shop, was one of only six of the timeless advertising symbols ever made.

In fact, she was so unique that Roadside America – a website that catalogs oddball tourist attractions – listed our bathing beauty as a must-see when visiting Daytona Beach.

Word on the street is that, even after all these years, the old gal remained the property of the Jantzen Company, and they recently decided to stick her in a museum – in Washington state, of all places.

I also understand that the shop’s new owner – a commercial artist – plans to replace our treasured “Jantzen Girl” with another distinctive piece, but somehow it won’t be the same.

Besides, I don’t have another 50-years to fall in love with something “new.”

So long, old friend.  You will be missed.

 Quote of the Week:

“Local leaders, I have one thing to say: Wake up or get voted out. The taxpayers are tired of paying for things we are now too poor to use, thanks to their fine leadership.”

–Ray Shaffer, Jr., Port Orange, writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Volusia: Fees and taxes to death,” April 10, 2018

And Another Thing!

Despite my urgent warnings to reconsider, those intrepid grassroots activists at the Bellaire Community Group have invited me to be their guest and discuss civic issues of mutual concern at their April meeting.

These are good people, working cooperatively to reduce crime, build a sense of community and improve our quality of life in the Halifax area.

The group will meet next Thursday, April 19th, at the Schnebly Recreation Center, 1101 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach.  Doors open at 6:00pm with supper provided for a $4.00 donation.

The program begins at 6:30pm.

Please join us!

Have a great weekend, everyone!



On Volusia: The Character Question (Part II)

I can’t take credit for this – Sheriff Mike Chitwood beat me to the punch – but Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen is a lying sack of shit.

How can you tell when he’s lying?  His lips are moving. . .

At a recent County Council meeting, Mr. Dinneen told a whopper when he said, “The council needs to stop and remind everybody that when it comes to protecting access to the beach and driving on the beach that repeatedly the county is at the forefront of protecting that.  And we get no credit.  We probably have the most access (on the beach) of anywhere in Florida, and the fact that we try to fight for that – I’m not sure people understand.”

 Jesus.  This guy knows no shame.

At present, Mr. Dinneen and his beach management bureaucrats are wiping egg off their funny faces after being caught in yet another public gaffe when they made the beach blockade behind the Hard Rock some 430 linear feet instead of the 410’ specified by county ordinance.

Not smart.  Really, it’s poor form.

Given that the removal of beach driving has caused an on-going countywide controversy, one would think that the installation of this hotly contested barricade would have been handled with the laser-precision of a surveying instrument – or a frigging Ace Hardware yardstick for that matter.

Instead, it appears the county contractor hired to jet the ugly, chemically-treated wooden utility poles into the sand just eyeballed it – “close enough for government work” as the old saying goes, I guess – while Beach Safety Chief Ray Manchester and Coastal Division director Jessica Winterwerp stood around watching them do it.

This carelessness wouldn’t be acceptable at a Dairy Queen – so why do we tolerate it from highly paid “professionals” on the public payroll?    

I’m asking.  Because for the life of me I can’t understand it – this continuing pattern of negligence is intolerable – and expensive.

This entire exercise to accommodate a semi-private beach for the Hard Rock has been a travesty from the beginning – and has exposed what a supreme embarrassment Jim Dinneen’s lack of effective leadership has become.

The fact is, under the Dinneen administration – with encouragement from the cash-bloated campaign financier and master political puppeteer J. Hyatt Brown and other insiders – our elected officials have done everything in their power to shutdown our century-old heritage of beach driving.

If the calculations of beach driving advocate and county council candidate Jeff Brower are correct, Volusia County has now restricted vehicular access from some 64% of our once free and open beach.

From spending public funds to sue their own constituents and prevent them from having a vote on beach closure issues, to pissing away the tradition as an “inducement” for tacky “theme” hotels, arbitrarily closing beach ramps, increasing fees to price a day at the beach out of reach for many Central Florida families, spending millions of our tax dollars on “off-beach” lots, yet never opening them, suggesting parking meters be installed in parking spaces paid for with public funds and generally dragging their feet on the repair and replacement of storm damaged walkovers – the Volusia County Council’s track record on beach access is abysmal – and getting worse.

In fact, many long-time residents I speak with claim that the worst decision ever made was removing control of our beaches from the municipalities in favor of a “unified policy” under county control.

I agree.

To add insult, our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, who has openly opposed beach driving for years under the guise he supports “beach access” – which means he’s cool with the idea of you schlepping your children, chairs, umbrellas and coolers across four-lanes of heavy traffic from an off-beach parking area, said, “If we hadn’t been diligent and looking after our rights, beach driving could have been swept away completely, this shows that we do care about beach driving and the obligation that is written into the charter.”

If Ed Kelley’s idea of “diligence” is our elected officials sitting around with their thumb wedged in their ass, getting publicly blindsided time-and-time-and-time again by important legislation out of Tallahassee or being caught flatfooted by another of Mr. Dinneen’s “public policy by ambush” surprise announcements – perhaps he should look up the definition of the word – or, better yet, stop squawking about things he knows nothing about.

There is a quote that’s been attributed to everyone from Mark Twain to Abraham Lincoln that would serve Chairman Kelley well in future public communications: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth a remove all doubt.”

Now, Old Ed is telling constituents that their anger over this colossal waste of tax dollars is unwarranted – given the fact Summit Hospitality has agreed to clean-up Volusia County’s mess and purchase new poles (he’s suggesting “totem poles”?) – and poo-pooing their very real concerns that allowing a private entity to install barricades on a public beach could establish certain ownership rights and jeopardize Volusia County’s customary use ordinance.

(Chairman Kelley, I’ll try to phrase this in terms even you can understand:  We, The People DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING YOU SAY OR DO.)

Of course, the uber-weird shameless self-promoter Councilwoman Heather Post – who has apparently stopped communicating with her constituents by any means other than a canned social media presence – is blaming the “media,” saying they are working an angle to “cause misinformation” and making things “unclear to some in the public.”

Say what?  Misinformation?  

Hell, Daytona Beach News-Journal Editor Pat Rice even left the office – got a little sand on the ol’ Florsheim Imperials – and measured the damn things himself!

(My God.  Did Weird Heather drink the Kool-Aid or what?)

What I find most chilling – and perhaps the one quirk which best supports Sheriff Chitwood’s spot-on assessment of his character – is Mr. Dinneen’s frightening ability to compulsively lie and quibble facts when the truth would serve him – and the rest of us – far better.

In my view, he can get away with a lot of things – but claiming to be a beach driving advocate isn’t one of them. . .