As the tortured scribe of an alternative opinion blog, I often receive angry calls and messages from sitting politicians, and others in positions of high power and influence, who take me to task for having come down on the wrong side of one issue or the other – and I admit – I’m certainly not infallible.
But when I’m right – I’m right.
For instance, I harbor a sneaking suspicion that our elected and appointed officials in Volusia County government have dissolved into a weird clown alley of ill-informed lockstep conformists who do exactly what they are told to do – when they are told to do it.
And when they don’t get their way on an issue important to their uber-wealthy campaign donors – or in matters where their ineptitude may be exposed – they lash out like recalcitrant children, using the county attorney’s office as an offensive weapon, or simply becoming obstructionist assholes (a la “Sleepy” Pat Patterson, clenching his little hands, puffing up like a toad, and vowing to vote “no” on every issue coming before the SunRail Commission until his issues get resolved).
The fact is, evidence continues to mount that these dolts we have elected to represent our interests have the situational and political awareness of wallpaper paste.
Unless they are told exactly how to think, and what to do, by County Manager Jim Dinneen or some courtier from the camarilla of “Rich & Powerful” insiders who actually control our lives and livelihoods – our council members sits there like slack-jawed dementia victims fascinated by specks of dust floating in the air.
Clueless doesn’t come close to describing this level of blunted detachment.
For almost two-years, the laser focus of Volusia County government – when they weren’t busy approving “incentives” for speculative developers, closing off beach access or funneling massive amounts of public funds to private interests – has been set on developing a strategy to place a half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot.
Like any parasitic worm that burrows itself deep into the public tit – government needs increasing sources of tax revenue to keep the cycle of government spending, insane compensation and benefits packages for senior managers and corporate welfare projects – spinning along without interruption.
Now it appears our ‘powers that be’ became so distracted by the dollar signs dancing in their pointy little heads that they failed to keep an eye on happenings in Tallahassee – or maybe they truly are just a troop of ill-informed buffoons – regardless, they missed some important legislation that just may derail their sleazy money grab.
Back in February, State Representative Matt Caldwell, a Republican from North Fort Meyers, began formulating a plan to block a local option sales tax proposed by the Lee County School Board – a levy Rep. Caldwell vehemently disagreed with.
According to Caldwell, imposing a tax on every man, woman and child in Lee County was “avoidable and unwise,” and he linked the school boards financial difficulties to irresponsible spending and poor strategic planning.
So, during the waning days of the 2018 legislative session, Rep. Caldwell filed an amendment requiring county governments and school districts seeking to place a local option sales tax before voters to submit to an outside performance audit, which must be completed and posted for public inspection sixty days before the election.
Governor Rick Scott signed the measure into law on March 23rd.
Clearly the terms “outside” and “audit” brought peristaltic tremors to our elected and appointed officials in DeLand.
Frankly, I couldn’t be more tickled if I had a feather in my shorts.
Among other provisions, the Caldwell amendment requires that the audit explore alternative methods for providing county services and products, ensures the accuracy of public documents, examines the “structure or design” of the county government to accomplish its objectives and requires compliance with appropriate policies, rules and laws.
In short, the legislation ensures that government has explored all possible alternatives before siphoning even more cash from their tax-strapped constituents by imposing or increasing duties on goods and services.
It’s called basic accountability – and that is anathema to our current administration.
Now do you see why this important legislation – which is clearly designed to protect the public interest – has sent convulsing shivers down the spine of Volusia County government?
I thought you might.
Clearly, our elected and appointed officials were once again caught totally flatfooted – completely unaware of the Caldwell amendment and its potential ramifications – and now those on the dais of power are falling all over themselves to affix blame to anyone but themselves.
Our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley – who suffers from a rare form of selective memory which makes him oblivious to anything other than the personal whims of his wealthy campaign donors – blames Volusia County’s lobbying firm, GrayRobinson, Tallahassee insiders who receive $50,000 of our money annually to, well, keep our council members apprised of legislative happenings.
According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Old Ed said, “I thought our (lobbyist) would have let us know. My guess is that the lobbyist should have told us that,” he said. “Someone should have told us before today that that was there. I’m a little miffed that I wasn’t made aware of this.”
Get your head out of your ass, Ed.
How many times can our senior elected official feign cognitive ignorance?
Anyone remember back in May 2017, when Chairman Kelley and the others we elected to represent our interests got caught with their heads on the desk, snoozing in a pile of their own drool, when the state moved to limit local government’s ability to pass ordinances that impact private property rights, specifically as it relates to customary use of public beaches?
But in typical fashion – no one is ever held accountable in the Dinneen administration.
Not GrayRobinson, and especially not Mr. Dinneen.
I mean, where exactly does the buck stop in this shitstorm of abject mismanagement and ineptitude?
Certainly not with the hyper-arrogant Councilwoman Deb Denys.
In her typical haughty delivery, Denys deflected any responsibility, fuming with indignant criticism, “It’s bad law (?), bad legislation. We are regulating empty. There’s nothing there.”
You mean, except exposing out-of-control government spending, the open giveaway of public assets and the mysteriously opaque planning and spending policies coming out of the county manager’s office?
Folks, I may not get it right all the time – but I’m right when I opine that we are being “governed” by the most grossly out-of-touch gaggle of half-bright dimwits in the history of Volusia County.
And given our dismal history, that’s saying something. . .
In my view, there truly is no one awake in the wheelhouse – and this ship of fools is hopelessly adrift.
Based on the evidence at hand – am I wrong?