Yes, our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, really is that thick.
Old Ed’s weak-minded attempt to defend Volusia County’s charter government in the Daytona Beach News-Journal quickly turned into a mean-spirited hatchet piece, further besmirching the character and professional reputations of former medical examiner Dr. Sara Zydowicz and Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
Rather than explain to his constituents the benefits of home rule, Mr. Kelley used his recent Community Voices column to further discredit two high profile critics of a system run wild – a bastardized oligarchy that consolidates enormous power in the hands of one little man with a raging Napoleonic complex and no apparent situational awareness of the operational and administrative issues that have plagued his reign for years.
In fact, the only section of Chairman Kelley’s nervous meltdown on Sunday’s editorial page even remotely linked to our charter form of government was his wobbly opening statement, “Yes, the current council/ manager form of government spelled out in our charter does work for all departments and residents/taxpayers of Volusia County.”
Now, you and I – the long-suffering “residents/taxpayers of Volusia County” – know that Ed’s unsupported gibberish is complete bullshit.
Because we live and scratch out a living here – and most of us have the cognitive ability to think critically – which places us head-and-shoulders above those lumbering dullards we elected to represent our interests on the dais of power in DeLand.
If Old Ed’s treatment taught us anything (it didn’t, but let’s pretend) it is that he’s a whole different guy under pressure – transmogrifying from the dotty grandfather into a vengeful loup-garou who goes for the jugular whenever he perceives any real threat to the status quo.
I already knew that – I’ve seen Ed in action before – but I’m glad his constituents are getting a front row seat to this latest no-holds-barred, wholesale destruction of his critics – and anyone else with the audacity to question the self-serving motivations of his handler, County Manager Jim Dinneen.
And if you think he gives any deference to a fellow council member – a colleague, duly elected by the citizens of Volusia County – think again.
Since taking office, Chairman Kelley has done everything in his power to keep District 4 Councilwoman Heather Post quiet and contained – lest she get “out of order” and expose the base ineptitude in county government that has hampered any substantive progress on the Fun Coast for a decade.
The cross-dais criticism has been unmerciful.
It’s like watching a group of gandy dancers driving a square spike into a round hole.
Any independent thought expressed by Ms. Post was immediately met with withering condemnation – and any attempt to question Mr. Dinneen brought blistering ridicule and counter-allegations of official impropriety in her fact-finding attempts.
I can only imagine how Ms. Post must have felt – because it was painful to watch. In fact, the always arrogant Deb Denys did everything but throw her Jimmy Choo at her recoiling “colleague.”
It was like a weird Milgram Experiment on obedience to authority figures – only the electric shocks contained real voltage.
As a result, Ms. Post entered a self-imposed silence, refusing to take questions from reporters, preferring to communicate with her constituents from the relative safety of a canned social media page where she controlled both the content and the message.
Then, last week, it appears Ms. Post finally cast off the oppressive yoke, kicked free of the corral and broke ranks – refusing to conform to the unwritten rule of lock-step conformity that has paralyzed the council/manager process and allowed Jim Dinneen to physically control the elected body for years.
In a series of extraordinary Facebook vlogs, Ms. Post publicly discussed her outrage at the myriad management blunders that have come to light – everything from the debacle at the medical examiner’s office, to the complete lack of transparency in an information black market wholly controlled by the Dinneen administration, where knowledge of the important issues is doled out only to those who agree to play along.
She even did the unthinkable and formally apologized to those who have been victimized in Dinneen’s crude attempt to deflect accountability – and empathized with county employees who strive valiantly to provide essential services in an increasingly toxic environment of mismanagement and flagrant incompetence.
Frankly, I find Ms. Post’s newfound independence refreshing. However, the acid test will be at tomorrow’s Volusia County Council meeting.
You can bet your bippy Old Ed’s fangs will come out as he does everything conceivable to silence critics, discredit detractors and maintain control of this building shitstorm. It’ll be like watching some crazy yahoo trying to rope the wind – but, like the bully he is – Chairman Kelley will try his best to protect the system at all cost.
How Ms. Post stands up to that aggressive defense of an entrenched system that seemingly exists to funnel public funds to the private profit motives of uber-wealthy political insiders (a power structure that Old Ed would have us believe doesn’t exist?) will tell us all we need to know about her commitment to fundamental change and government accountability.
Any reasonable person can see that in recent days this comical farce has taken a darker, more ominous tone as the ugly truth comes to light.
For instance, Mr. Dinneen’s brutal assassination of Ms. Post’s personal character in the Daytona Beach News-Journal should result in widespread outrage, the unequivocal support of her fellow elected officials, and an ethics investigation by the Florida City and County Management Association.
For an appointed county manager to ambush an elected official in the newspaper by dredging up her 2010 dismissal from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office – a personnel action Ms. Post successfully fought and received a $44,000 settlement – most likely violates a slew of human resource policies and the tenets of the International City/County Management Association’s code of professional ethics.
It crossed a very clear line – and Mr. Dinneen knows it.
In my experience, most smart politicians, especially those standing for reelection, know when its time to distance oneself from blatant liabilities – they step over the steaming piles of noxious dung, not in them.
But sometimes, despite their best instincts, ostensibly smart elected officials can’t help themselves – rather than avoid the shit – they lay down and wallow in it.
Apparently, everyone except our addle-brained County Chair understands that Jimmy Dinneen has become a very heavy millstone to wear during this election cycle.
Now is the time for our representatives to drop this farcical defense of the indefensible – and if Mr. Dinneen doesn’t have the common human decency to resign and end this interminable distraction from the important business of the day – they should jettison him as efficiently as possible.
Only then can they begin the difficult process of rebuilding the public’s trust in county government.