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.

 

4 thoughts on “On Volusia: A Convenient Untruth

  1. As a lifelong resident of this area I have seen our elected officials turn a once prosperous area into a blighted waste land waiting for unscrupulous developers to snatch it up. I would challenge every voter to send a message to the pigs that we run the farm and Farmer Lil Jimmy should go!!!

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  2. OK. this helps explain why Volusia County is failing while most of Florida prospers. And this is just the 1/2 % sales tax wolf call, what about our beloved beach access? Echo Funds? Needs some changes in Deland folks, and in many of the 16 City Halls! The theme seems to be “fight the poles in the polls!” and/or “Let the ECHO die out”, and so on. Mark has hit them all over time.

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” Margaret Mead

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  3. Thank you Mr. Barker and thank you to the two who made the comments. It is not just coming from a couple of grumpy old people who like to complain. Many of us fear the future that is being created for us and our children and grandchildren here. The growth that we are being forced to help fund is not positive or “SMART”, it is destructive to our natural resources and quality of life. During the various hearings pertaining to the I-4 AutoMall project, there were several speakers who were against the AutoMall who said they had moved up to this area from South Florida to get away from the poor quality of life that had been created for them. That same thing is happening here and once the developers and politicians have destroyed our quality of life, in part on our dime, they too will move on leaving us here to deal with the shit hole they created. And just in case Ed, Pat, Deb, Billie, Heather, Fred, and Joyce read this I want to say to them GOOD JOB SHITTING ALL OVER the people who elected you to represent them. You folks are fucking with our and our children and grandchildrens’ futures. You can not downplay what is going on it is clear to many of us. Do your fucking jobs and represent the people and not just the rich and the developers. And you are not there to represent the County. County Government is supposed to serve us and you are there to ensure it. Whatever happened to having some integrity?

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  4. History says, Don’t hope
    On this side of the grave,
    But then, once in a lifetime
    The longed-for tidal wave
    Of justice can rise up
    And hope and history rhyme.

    Like

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