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.

Really?

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!

 

 

2 thoughts on “Angels & Assholes for April 13, 2018

  1. Mark. I’m a big fan of yours and life long Daytona beach resident. I believe you and I are about the same age

    I plan on being at schnebly center to hear you speak next thursday night, I’ve lived in that neighborhood for 65 years. Would like to meet you. I send your blog to all of my like minded friends. Don’t mean to sound lik a groupie but you write about every thing that many people of this area feel. KEEP IT UP.

    Like

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