On Volusia: An Illusion of Truth

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

This quote is attributed to Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propagandist and one of the most inherently evil men to have ever lived.  Unfortunately, this practice is still actively employed by politicians and “spin doctors” the world over.

It’s called the “illusory truth effect” – defined as our human tendency to believe information to be correct after repeated exposure – regardless of how outlandish it may seem at first.

It doesn’t require a high degree of sophistication – just keep repeating an untruth until the line between fantasy and reality blur.  It’s accomplished with misdirection and diversion, selective facts, burying bad news and fostering an organizational culture where information is held close to the vest and doled out sparingly as a control mechanism.

The consolidation of power begins with information control.

Sound familiar?

To say that the wheels have come off the cart in Volusia County government is an understatement.

As the various layers of this rotten onion are peeled away, those of us who stand on the outside looking in – the long-suffering rubes who are expected to pay the bills and accept what we are told at face value – are beginning to see that things are not as neat and tidy in the Palace of Emperor Jim Dinneen as we have been led to believe.

In fact, it’s an abominable mess.

A festering quagmire of ineptitude and mismanagement that has reached epic proportions – and continues to threaten the delivery of essential government services, such as emergency medical transport, public asset protection, the medical examiners function, impact fees, infrastructure and growth management, to name but a few.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal recently published an informative article by the intrepid reporter Dustin Wyatt, “Volusia officials hope to turn the page,” which further exposed the siege mentality currently gripping the executive offices at the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Center – the last bastion of a failed oligarchy trying desperately to control the illusion of truth as the shitstorm rages around them.

Last week, in a series of video presentations to her constituents, District 4 Councilwoman Heather Post courageously spoke out on the issues of the day.

Admittedly, I’ve been hypercritical of Ms. Post – but I think she has finally realized that her silence and acquiescence has become an extreme detriment to the lives and livelihoods of her constituents.

At least I hope that’s her reasoning.

She still refuses to speak with local media outlets (something she might want to rethink) appearing instead as a weird disembodied talking head on a canned Facebook page.  That makes it difficult to ask questions and gain insight from our elected representative – but it’s a positive crack in the information void that defines county government.

The News-Journal described Ms. Post’s social media vlogs as calling out “Dineen’s “deplorable lack of transparency after she said she couldn’t get questions answered about the morgue’s operations when she showed up unannounced and without an appointment.  In a video posted Friday, she apologized to the county’s outgoing medical examiner, Sara Zydowicz, saying she’s “appalled, disgusted and outraged” that county leaders would “vilify” the doctor.”

Of course she showed up unannounced.  How else does one properly inspect an office which has lost total credibility and become the focus of intense public interest – make an appointment and ask Mr. Dinneen may I visit your morgue, pretty-please?

My ass.

In typical fashion, as soon as Councilwoman Post broke ranks – her insubordination to the unwritten rules of lock-step conformity resulted in a broadside from her “colleagues” on the dais of power – an attack led by our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley.

“The county chair called Post’s videos unacceptable and accused her of getting too involved in day-to-day operations at the morgue, which council members aren’t supposed to do. “I think (the video) was very out of order,” Kelley said. “If you reach a point to where what you are doing is interfering with the operation of a county department, I think it’s dangerous.”

You know what’s out-of-order, Ed?  Your mushy cerebral cortex.

She’s not interfering with the operation of a county department, you bootlicking jackass – she’s exposing the maladministration and budgetary neglect of an essential public service that lost its professional accreditation in 2015 for many of the same reasons Dr. Z reported to state regulatory authorities!

Old Ed then went beyond the boundaries of human reason when – during his half-bright defense of charter government in Sunday’s News-Journal – he exposed himself as the second biggest lying sack of shit in the realm:

“In rereading the column by Sheriff Chitwood on May 20, I would like to know who are the select few deep pockets and government officials he refers to who control our county and who will stop at nothing to keep a grip on power. Who are the “powers that be”? Maybe he will tell us. In my 16-plus years of public service, with the city of Ormond Beach as a commissioner and mayor or as chair of the Volusia County Council, I have never been influenced by or asked to vote on a matter based upon a campaign contribution by anyone. This, too, I believe to be true for those I serve with on the council.”

My God.

This brain-addled dipshit would actually have you and I believe that J. Hyatt Brown, Mori Hosseini, Lesa France-Kennedy and other “Rich & Powerful” insiders have absolutely no political influence in Volusia County?

That they infuse hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaigns of hand-picked local candidates, yet expect nothing in return for their investment? 

Yes, they really think we’re that stupid.

For instance, earlier this week County Manager Jim Dinneen employed a disgusting tactic that has served him extremely well through the years when he hand-selected his own expert to conduct a walk-through of the morgue, talk to a few employees, then generate a short report confirming the opinions voiced by his chief defender, Ed Kelley, in the newspaper days earlier – a report he then used to besmirch the professional reputation of the only county department head other than Sheriff Chitwood with the guts to bring serious deficiencies to light and cast doubt on Mr. Dinneen’s management and oversight of critical services.

To further compromise the “independence” of this half-assed faux-audit, Mr. Dinneen makes an offer of employment to Dr. Jon Thogmartin – his cherry-picked assessor whose findings precisely matched the public narrative clumsily spun by Dinneen and Kelley to deflect accountability.

Unethical?

You bet your ass it is – and in my view, potentially criminal – given the fact that public funds are being lavishly expended in the most self-evident case of bureaucratic Cover Your Ass in the history of Volusia County government.

In his goofy condemnation of the social media firestorm resulting from these raging debacles, the Very Reverend Dr. Fred Lowry squawked from his high perch on the county council – “I wish people, before they got on social media or Facebook (to complain) would really investigate what is going on.”

Trust me, Freddie – the last thing you goons with a political title want is a legitimate investigation into “what’s going on.”

In my view, these cheap attempts to dodge responsibility and protect the status quo pale in comparison to perhaps the most egregious violation of the City and County Management Code of Ethics, and common human decency, on record when Jim Dinneen – our petty pipsqueak of an appointed county manager – cut deep into Councilwoman Post, resurrecting her controversial dismissal from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office in 2010, following an internal affairs investigation that found she lied under oath.

Extraordinarily, Mr. Dinneen said to the News-Journal, “I think you all forget the circumstances of why she doesn’t work here anymore.”

What Dinneen failed to mention was that Ms. Post filed a wrongful termination lawsuit and received a $44,000 financial settlement from Volusia County.

Look, as a citizen and taxpayer, I have the right to criticize the acts and omissions of my elected officials – but as an appointed government executive and recipient of public funds, Mr. Dinneen does not.

According to our sacrosanct county charter – Dinneen works for Ms. Post, and six other duly elected officials who are politically accountable to their constituents every four years.

This clear violation of our council/manager form – and the professional ethics one expects of an appointed official who wields incredible power – simply cannot stand.  That level of political insulation, flagrant disregard for the checks-and-balances of power and lack of even basic accountability to higher authority is the foundation of a dictatorship, not a representative democracy.

Again, this cannot stand.

In my view, regardless of whether they agree with her or not – Ms. Post’s fellow elected officials have a moral duty to rally to her defense and immediately terminate Mr. Dinneen’s out-of-control destruction of the professional reputations of whistleblowers – and the gross character assassination of a sitting elected official.

It’s dangerous – and has no place in a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

If Ms. Post’s fellow elected officials fail to acknowledge and rectify this horrific abuse in the most expedient means possible, then nothing prevents him from doing the same damn thing to any one of them should they find cause to question his motives – or his seemingly omnipotent authority.

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “On Volusia: An Illusion of Truth

  1. I concur with every word you’ve written in this article. It is blatantly obvious that Dineen AND City Manager Chisholm are not supervised by or answerable to their respective Boards/Commissioners . A revolt is LONG overdue! If your county council person or city commissioner won’t vote to fire these two, then vote for a candidate that WILL!

    Like

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