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:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-daytona-100-childrens-bicycle-event-tickets-44197704524

Have a great weekend, kids!

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Angels & Assholes for April 27, 2018

  1. This is one Elected Official who voted against 1/2 cent tax and probably the only one in Volusia County and proud of it.

    Like

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