It’s rare that I put out two blog posts on the same day – but I’m mad as hell – and you should be too.
Now, the evidence in undeniable.
For months, I’ve railed about the ugly fact that County Manager Jim Dinneen has utterly failed in his duty to maintain public assets, ensure essential services and provide sound and ethical stewardship of our hard-earned tax dollars.
The anecdotal and physical evidence of my claims are too long to mention – but if you need a quick reminder, I encourage you to take a drive by the dilapidated county-owned shopping center at Cardinal Avenue and A-1-A in the heart of Ormond Beach’s tourist district.
It’s a godforsaken heap – an off-the-tax-roll blight incubator – sitting smack-dab at the nexus of a residential neighborhood and a once scenic roadway traveled by thousands of visitors – who we spent handsomely to attract to our area.
The deplorable condition of public buildings and assets that have been allowed to become mold food on Dinneen’s watch are legendary – just ask anyone who owns adjacent property (or the City of DeLand, who put up with that noxious dump known as the “Old Jail” for years until they were able to find a workable solution to demolish it and make way for actual progress in the best downtown in America.)
Ignoring preventive maintenance and allowing brick-and-mortar buildings to decline and melt into irreparable condition so he can ask for money to build a Taj Mahal replacement facility has been Mr. Dinneen’s modus operandi for over a decade.
In my view, a crumbling abandoned jail – or an overgrown dumping ground for beach signage – is one thing, but when one of the most highly compensated county executives in the state knowingly permits a sensitive and essential public service like the Medical Examiner’s Office to wither on the budgetary vine – ignoring requested improvements, crucial equipment and staffing requests to the point the office loses its professional accreditation – and ultimately deteriorates to the point county employees are at physical risk – borders on official misconduct.
In my view, if that’s not criminal malfeasance – it damned well should be.
In a recent article by the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Dustin Wyatt entitled, “Medical Examiner: Volusia facility ‘potentially dangerous’” we learned the true reason why Dr. Sara Zydowicz fled Volusia County like a scalded dog after just one-month on the job:
She could no longer jeopardize her professional reputation – or physical safety – working in a critically understaffed and substandard shithole that no longer serves the needs of the citizens of Volusia County.
Rather than sweep this fetid mess under the rug, to her credit, Dr. Z had the personal fortitude and professional ethics to report these deplorable conditions to the state regulatory commission that oversees medical examiners and their critical work in service to the citizens of Florida.
According to the News-Journal, “Since Volusia County is one of only a few charter counties in the state — the rest have medical examiners that are appointed by the governor, not hired by a county manager — the county has to formally request aid from the state to right the ship.”
Now do you understand why our duly elected Sheriff Mike Chitwood wants out from under the charter-imposed yoke of this incompetent little shitbird?
Inexplicably, Mr. Dinneen didn’t bother to solicit input from Sheriff Chitwood, the chief law enforcement officer in Volusia County – or the State Attorney’s Office – when he hired Dr. Z, something the chairman of the medical examiners commission described as “unheard of.”
Sadly, Deputy County Manager George Recktenwald was forced to become the unfortunate face this latest/greatest debacle – valiantly attempting to lean into the building shitstorm and take it square on the chin for his cowardly boss, who to this writing refused to even return a News-Journal reporters telephone call.
Frankly, George Recktenwald should be given a medal – then he should be fired for not having the guts to stand up, speak truth to power, and publicly expose this craven little bastard for the incompetent hack he truly is.
During his tenure, Jim Dinneen has facilitated the wholesale giveaway of tens-of-millions of dollars in public funds couched as “economic development incentives,” orchestrated the discounted sale of public land to private interests, pissed away our heritage of beach access to appease the overweening greed of speculative developers, concocted patent falsehoods about the pressing need for new, astronomically priced courthouses, public works facilities and other county buildings – even as those he is currently responsible for maintaining literally rot into the ground.
If this staggering bureaucratic ineptitude and gross mismanagement doesn’t send a chill up your spine, let me tell you something that will:
When made aware of this incredibly serious situation by the News-Journal, at least one of our elected dullards on the Volusia County Council – who all are now personally and politically responsible for what happens next – had the temerity to question why Dr. Zydowicz went outside county government to report this emergency to the proper state regulatory agency.
You read that right.
According to the News-Journal, when questioned about this startling revelation, County Councilwoman Deb Denys said, “Everyone is aware of the situation, including Dr. Z. What’s most surprising is that she circumvented the county and went directly to the state. We never heard complaints for (sic) her before this.”
Deb Denys is a damnable liar.
Hell, anyone who pays even marginal attention has heard the horror stories for years – that’s why the ‘powers that be’ have been promising a new “$13-million” replacement facility for years.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is why Deb Denys has absolutely no business serving as an elective official on the Dais of Power in DeLand – and showcases that the complete abdication of any reasonable accountability has become an institutionalized protocol in the executive suites of the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Building.
To prove my long-held belief that our doddering fool of a County Chairman, Ed Kelley, only understands what Mr. Dinneen feeds to him with a rubber spoon, Old Ed responded to the news like the perennially uninformed dunce he is, “It was explained to me that (the office) wasn’t that bad.”
Who explained it to you, Ed? And why did you ask the question in the first place?
And how in all that’s holy would a dipshit like you know what constitutes “that bad” in a forensic science environment?
Trust me – Ed Kelley can’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions on the heel – let alone determine the competency and protocols required of a very active medical examiners office.
That tells me something must have piqued Old Ed’s blunted interest – caused him to ask Little Jimmy, “So, how’s everything over at the morgue?” – I mean, that’s not exactly a question that forms out of light chit-chat over a taxpayer-funded lunch at the Roundtable of Elected Officials meeting, right?
Was it the fact that over 200 autopsy reports are sitting incomplete because of inadequate staffing?
Or the gruesome scene of dead bodies – you know, the loved ones of Volusia County residents – stacking up like cord-wood or languishing in hospitals due to lack of available space?
Perhaps it had something to do with Mr. Dinneen’s administration utterly refusing to provide the medical examiner with requested budget information, respond to funding requests or so much as hire temporary employees during an all-out crisis – like someone to answer the fucking phone?
My God! What in the hell is going on over there?
This is, quite simply, over-the-top – even by Volusia County government standards.
Now, our elected officials on the Volusia County Council are left in the untenable position of actually having to hold Mr. Dinneen personally accountable for his acts and omissions – his abject failure of leadership – and his pathological inability to accept responsibility for anything, all while pocketing hundreds of thousands in salary and benefits.
The political ramifications are clear – the time has come, Mr. Dinneen must go.
If our elected representatives don’t take swift and decisive action to protect their constituents from this base ineptitude and restore honor and competency to the county managers office – I can assure you the voters will demonstrate to incumbent county council members the concept of political accountability come November.