Happy Friday, everybody! Let’s get to it, shall we?
It’s time once again to 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:
Asshole: Bethune-Cookman University Board of Trustees
Bethune-Cookman University is in real trouble.
A seemingly unrecoverable financial death spiral, and no one who should seems to care.
This week, B-CU’s National Alumni Association did the only thing they could to force positive change when they issued a desperate letter to Board of Trustee chair Michelle Carter-Scott demanding her immediate resignation – and they rightfully want her to take Joe Petrock and former Daytona State College president, and current hired hand of the CEO Business Alliance, Dr. D. Kent Sharples – with her.
I applaud their effort.
It takes courage to stand tall in the face of powerful forces and protect that which is important.
In my view, what has happened at Bethune-Cookman University is criminal.
In demanding the Board’s ouster, the alumni wrote:
“How is it that Kent Sharples, the former president of Daytona State College, Joe Petrock, the former board chair of Daytona State College, Jacob F. Bryan, a wealthy Insurance Magnate, and others on the Board of Trustees who share similar pedigrees, approve a dormitory deal that absolutely no one the Board of Trustees understood! How is it that the Board of Trustees, being such an eclectic group, to this day, cannot adequately explain why $85 million dollars was borrowed to build dormitories that cost less than $60 million dollars? Where is the other $25 million dollars Dr. Carter-Scott? Joe? Kent? If $25 million dollars was misplaced or misappropriated at Florida State University, it would be a matter of great concern, so you can imagine what $25 million unaccounted for dollars means to a small, private school like Bethune-Cookman University?”
Those in a position to know better – the Board of Trustees – had an ethical, moral and fiduciary responsibility to alumni, students and staff to ensure the best interests of this historic university were protected from the self-serving motives of former so-called ‘administrators’ and predatory shysters.
Instead, Petrock, Sharples and the others stood idle while the sharks fed.
As I’ve previously written, how many more local institutions of higher learning are we going to allow ol’ Kent to involve himself with?
I’m just asking.
Because only in Volusia County can you go from the American Music Festival disaster that rocked Daytona State College to the boardroom of the CEO Business Alliance and Bethune-Cookman University.
In most industries, senior officials are given one bite at that apple before they are exposed as inept jacklegs and cashiered out of the service, but not in what passes for Halifax area academia – or Volusia County Star Chambers.
Is it possible everyone was too busy accepting honorary doctorates and bullying whistleblowers to notice that Dr. Bethune’s beloved institution was being looted by the very executive leadership charged with protecting and promoting it – or was something even more nefarious afoot?
I mean, how could the Board of Trustee’s not have known?
According to B-CU alumni, during their rotten tenure – Carter-Scott, Petrock, Sharples and the other conveniently deaf, dumb and blind “trustees” are directly responsible for:
Taking the school’s bond rating from A+ to junk status.
The school being place on probation by the school’s accrediting association.
Getting the school embroiled in lawsuits costing thousands of dollars a month in legal fees
Denying alumni representation on the Board of Trustees resulting in a lawsuit filed against the board by the school’s alumni association.
The school being over $120 million dollars in debt.
Causing alumni to place restrictions on funds they donate to the school because of a lack of trust and the lack of ownership of the problems they created.
And for building dormitories that the school cannot pay for.
Gentle readers, this is a burgeoning tragedy of monumental proportions.
In my view, it is past time for federal authorities to move swiftly and intervene to stop the on-going abominations being committed against B-CU before it is too late.
It is also time that the community at large decides how many more opportunities are we willing to give Dr. Kent Sharples, or Joe Petrock, to stand around with their thumbs wedged firmly in their ass while this venerated place of higher learning is financially gutted on their watch?
In my view, not only should these ineffectual scumbags find the door – but they should be required to explain their almost strategic inaction to the proper authorities.
Frankly, the CEO Business Alliance should take a long hard look at the weird happenings at B-CU during the board tenure of their exalted president, Kent Sharples – and decide how much more damage and embarrassment the university – and our community – should be expected to endure.
If, in fact, our secret society of millionaires at the CEO Business Alliance truly care about the future of Daytona Beach and the health of our colleges and universities as the economic engines they are – then it’s time to put their money where their mouth is and get control of Dr. Sharples and this coterie of shameless posers that have brought a once proud institution to its knees.
Frankly, barring outside intervention, they are the only ones I know locally with the power to effect positive change.
I stand firmly with the Bethune-Cookman University National Alumni Association in their desperate efforts to save the institution – and preserve the important legacy of Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune – and all it means to our region and beyond.
Clearly, the current B-CU Board of Trustees lack the common decency to step down and permit strong, ethical and prudent leadership to take the helm before this crippled ship founders.
I sincerely hope the National Alumni Association is successful in returning sanity to this abysmal tragedy.
Angel: City of Holly Hill Police & Fire Departments
The good Lord blessed me.
A long time ago, we made a deal that he would allow me a lifetime of happiness in my dream job – the chance to perform work worth doing in service to others – so long as I agreed to do it with honor and integrity.
He lived up to his end of the bargain – and I tried like hell to live up to mine.
Although I failed time-and-again, the result was a career most can only imagine.
And, for over 30-years, I was given the wonderful gift of serving a grateful community in the company of some of the most talented, dedicated and courageous men and women I have ever known.
I hope I was faithful to my end of the bargain – and when the Great Scorer comes to write against my name – he will say I played the game well, and for all the right reasons.
The members of the Holly Hill Police and Fire Departments will always be my personal heroes.
Imagine my overwhelming sense of pride when I opened the newspaper last week and read the most heartwarming letter thanking the outstanding men and women of the Holly Hill Police and Fire Departments for their service at the scene of a recent fatal traffic crash near Flomish Avenue and Nova Road.
In her touching tribute, Ms. Mary Ann Trussell of Holly Hill wrote in The Daytona Beach News-Journal:
“I was recently involved in a motor vehicle accident.
I would like to applaud the Holly Hill Police Department, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department, the Holly Hill Fire Department, the ambulance emergency medical technicians and all the first responders.
There was also a gentleman in street clothes who was immediately assessing everyone involved in the accident, then informing the first responders as they arrived.
Professionalism, compassion and extreme competence were all displayed by this team. It did not go unnoticed! Thank you, and God bless all of you for your dedication to helping others during such frightening and helpless situations.”
The greatest privilege of my life was serving alongside these brave men and women for most of my adult life, and I am forever grateful just to have been counted in their number.
Asshole: Volusia County School Board
I wrote about this earlier in the week, but it bears repeating.
Recently, Volusia County School Board Member Melody Johnson crawled before the Deltona City Commission with her hand out – moaning the blues over the fact that the municipality had previously declined to be openly fleeced by the school district.
“I was very concerned when I was notified by our School Board chair that you declined to help our schools,” she said. “It is our intention to only ask for a one-year assistance — only 30 percent of what we need.”
“As you know it’s challenging to do something without any funding.”
Without any funding? My ass.
Folks, the sight of our School Board begging for change like some penniless mendicant is not only unbecoming of elected officials who know better – but it crosses the line on how our hard-earned tax dollars are allocated.
The Volusia County School District is an independent taxing authority with the responsibility and political accountability for managing public funds, organizing assets, preparing a budget and levying assessments to meet the needs of thousands of students, teachers and staff.
With a current budget approaching $900 million – the largest of any government entity in Volusia County – I find it incredulous that our elected officials on the School Board seem physically incapable of identifying internal funding cuts to provide for this priceless service to our precious children.
Where is it written that when a taxing authority fails to live within its means – or refuses to take austerity measures to prioritize and reorganize allocations to meet emergent needs – it can simply cry poor mouth and shame the cities into handing over tax dollars they collected from us for critical municipal services?
The School Board seems perfectly capable of lashing us with millions in debt for Taj Mahal building projects, on top of a half-cent sales tax increase, then engaging in serial poor decisions – such as appointing wholly unqualified middle-managers to fill the vitally important role of School Security Specialist, rather than finding the very best expert we can afford – or keeping Superintendent Tom Russell in place after some seventeen Volusia County schools dropped one letter grade or more last year.
Or how about the ham-handed “secret negotiations” that resulted in our elected officials approving a five-year contract with Florida Hospital – sorry, “AdventHealth” – naming the healthcare provider the “exclusive student education and student wellness partner of the School Board for all purposes and on all levels” – for just $200,000 in cash each year. . .?
The agreement ended some 15-months of shadowy, back-alley negotiations by district officials that resulted in an agreement that gives AdventHealth all the marketing exposure they could have dreamed for – including naming rights, sponsorship options, districtwide distribution of branded material, and graduate recruitment options, among other benefits.
One might have thought that given our current dire financial straits – a direct advertising campaign reaching some 63,000 Volusia County families might have been worth a tad more?
At a recent meeting, School Board member Carl Persis said, “It seems like with $21 million (in federal Title 1 funds) you can fix anything,” he said. “My whole point is we’re not doing well. Systematically we have failed. And it’s okay to say that we’ve failed. Now we have to do something about it.”
Here’s an idea, Carl – fire Superintendent Tom Russell and his toady’s in the “Superintendent’s Cabinet” (really?), then get some visionary leadership in place who can turn things around – someone with a clearly defined systemic action plan to save our students and teachers from this curse of mediocrity. Do it now.
In the meantime, we are left in the untenable position of having a decades old backlog of school infrastructure projects, complete stagnation in negotiations with our teachers – who are desperately seeking a living wage for their important work, along with benefit improvements to stop the hemorrhage of talent as educators continue to flee Volusia for more responsible districts or professions that appreciate their contributions – and the stark realization that we cannot adequately fund prudent and necessary security measures.
In my view, this situation is serious – and only getting worse. In fact, I can’t think of anything more important.
Now, it is time for the Volusia County School Board to stop bumming money from the municipalities in some weird double-dipping scheme and begin the difficult process of living within their means.
That will require taking the politically difficult steps necessary to adequately fund service delivery in this new reality and focus precious resources where they belong – in the classroom.
If they are incapable of doing that, perhaps it’s time We, The People, elect someone who can.
Asshole: City of Ormond Beach
Hey, Ormond Beach City Commission – thanks for nothing.
After sitting in utter silence for years as area residents living near the city’s main tourist corridor watched their property values circle the toilet bowl of dilapidation while the county-owned shopping center at Cardinal Boulevard and A-1-A physically rotted into the pavement – now that the eyesore is being demolished – our local ‘powers that be’ finally take notice?
According to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Ormond Beach Deputy Mayor and Developers Shill Troy Kent yammered, “I’m pleased that we are going to have more off-beach parking, but I wish it were on the east side of A1A. I have concerns about safety and convenience. When you don’t have to cross four lanes of traffic to get to the beach, that’s always a good thing.”
Now you have concerns?
Hey, Troy – where were you as this godforsaken blight generator was destroying the quality of life for hundreds of citizens, and thousands of visitors, whose last memory of Ormond Beach will forever be the mildewing wreck of a haunted shopping center in the very heart of our core tourist area?
Or the place was used as an open dumping ground by Volusia County Beach Management – a hodge-podge of overgrown weeds, signage and lifeguard towers haphazardly stored in plain view of a neighborhood?
We, the long-suffering residents of Ormond Beach didn’t hear a peep out of you.
And where were you, and the other lackeys who have ensconced themselves on the dais of power for over a decade, while Volusia County took some of the most expensive real estate in our community off the tax rolls in favor of “off-beach parking” and a warehouse?
A fucking warehouse?
(Hell – once someone explained it to him – even our doddering old fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, found that one tough to swallow. . .)
Now, Mr. Kent whines with pseudo-concern that his constituents have to schlep their children, beach gear and worldly belongings across four lanes of traffic to get to the beach?
After all the shit we’ve eaten, the horrible abuse we’ve suffered, and the damage to our image and quality of life caused by this festering shithole – Mr. Kent is worried about residents being inconvenienced?
Wow. I don’t make this shit up, folks.
I hope my friends and neighbors will join me in voting for someone – anyone – who stands for election against these compromised shitheel incumbents.
Let’s take our beautiful community back while there is still something left to worry about.
Angel: Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis
A Barker’s View tip o’ the hat to our intrepid Supervisor of Elections for her efforts to bring all but two of Volusia County’s mosaic of municipalities into the light of day.
In a wonderful effort to make things easier for area voters – and increase transparency in our cockamamie campaign finance system – Supervisor Lewis undertook an initiative to require municipal candidates for public office to file campaign treasurers reports electronically – allowing her to consolidate that important information in one convenient location on the County website.
I dig that.
The electronic filing allows voters a clear glimpse into our weird oligarchical system which allows a few well-heeled political insiders to openly purchase access and influence by funneling massive amounts of cash into the campaign accounts of hand-select candidates for local office.
Unfortunately, two east Volusia communities – Ponce Inlet and Ormond Beach – have refused to come out of the dark ages, preferring instead – for dubious reasons – to keep it business as usual.
In a current election season awash in insider money, you don’t need a hack like me to explain why some politicians might want to keep their benefactors close to the vest.
However, in my view, their reluctance speaks more to the dubious concerns of those trying desperately to hold onto positions of power, than to the needs of an increasing number of high-information voters.
Good work, Ms. Lewis.
Quote of the Week
“I think it stinks, forcing the issue to get what it wants. I think this is a terrible agreement. This city gets nothing from this. We get absolutely zilch.”
–Daytona Beach Shores Mayor Harry Jennings, speaking in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, after casting the lone vote to reject a ‘settlement’ with Volusia County that will turn prime oceanfront real estate into a county owned parking lot, a move that will cost the small community some $200,000 in tax revenue annually.
Some things are worth fighting for – like the sovereignty of an incorporated municipality.
For far too long, the County of Volusia has stomped around inside the cities like an aggressive behemoth – a rich tyrant with no qualms about spending our hard-earned tax dollars on lawsuits and threats against any city or constituent who dared challenge the omnipotence of the Monarchy in DeLand.
During a wild spending spree – more akin to a drunken sailor on shore leave from the USS Piss Money than a well-planned public property acquisition – in 2015 former County Manager Jim Dinneen slinked into the small village of Daytona Beach Shores, literally behind the back of city officials, and surreptitiously bought two parcels east of A-1-A in exchange for some $4.5 million of our tax dollars.
Two-years on, those arrogant assholes on the County Council shit on a proposal that would have provided the Shores a well landscaped off-beach lot with park-like amenities for residents and visitors, in favor of a spartan, high-density, 190 space parking slab.
Rightfully, Shores officials balked at this aggressive buggery and, for a time, mounted a tepid legal effort to fight for their independence from Volusia County tyranny.
Unfortunately, that effort was short-lived when Shores Councilman Richard “Caspar Milquetoast” Bryan, pulled his appeasement strategy, a cowardly unilateral move which resulted in divisive infighting between the elected officials, who ultimately agreed (wrongly, I believe) to capitulate, roll-over, and take it like the good little submissive serf’s they just became.
You know, I vehemently defended Councilman Bryan’s First Amendment right to speak his mind before the County Council – even though I felt what he said was wrong – and I still believe that elected officials must be permitted the same Constitutionally protected rights and responsibilities as everyone else without fear of having the will of the voters overturned in a cheap coup d’état.
However, I also believe the voters of Daytona Beach Shores should jettison his sycophantic ass from the dais of power at their first opportunity.
Bryan can crow all he wants about protecting taxpayer dollars from expensive legal bills – but if you are not willing to use the full force and might of the local treasury to fight for the community’s independence and right to self-determination – then I believe you are doing your constituents a true disservice.
In my view, standing down and cowering away from an aggressive bully only emboldens that despicable behavior.
Where does it end?
And Another Thing!
On Wednesday afternoon, Florida Today published the following interesting tidbit:
“The Naples City Council selected six city manager finalists Wednesday morning from a pool of more than 80 applicants. The finalists, in order of the number of votes received:
- Joyce Shanahan, city manager of Ormond Beach
- David L. Andrews, town manager of Carrboro, North Carolina
- Charlie Chapman, county administrator for Hendry County
- Mike McNees, city manager of Melbourne
- Jim Dinneen, former county manager for Volusia County
- Erdal Donmez, former city manager of Coral Springs
Finalists are scheduled to visit Naples for a tour and public reception Sept. 12, with formal interviews on Sept. 13 and 14. The Naples City Council is expected to make a decision Sept. 14.
Dinneen? I could care less – just so he’s not within 200 nautical miles of Volusia County.
Joyce Shanahan will be hard to replace.
Also, Sons of the Beach and Friends, a political action committee and sister organization to Sons of the Beach, Florida’s premiere beach driving and access advocacy, will hold a fund raiser this Sunday, August 19th, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at the Oasis Tiki Bar & Grill!
This will be the first fund raiser for SOB and Friends, and all proceeds will go to support current political candidates who have demonstrated their commitment to protecting beach access and stopping the privatization of our most precious natural resource.
If you are interested in meeting the candidates and talking issues, this is a great opportunity.
The Oasis Tiki Bar & Grill is located beachside at the Fountain Beach Resort, 313 South Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach.
Hope to see you there!
That’s all for me, have a great weekend everyone!