On Volusia: Caveat Emptor, Y’all

Caveat Emptor.

According to the venerated Black’s Law Dictionary, that’s Latin for “Let the buyer beware.” 

“This maxim summarizes the rule that the purchaser of an article must examine, judge, and test It for himself, being bound to discover any obvious defects or imperfections.”

Similar to the old horse-trading phrase, “Sold as is. . .”

There is a lot of money moving around during this rotten summer of 2018 – some of it mine – and politicians are working overtime to win our sacred vote now that nut-cutting time is here.

Next week’s primary will cull the wheat from the chaff – and not all who were called will be moving forward.

Last weekend a smart friend and I enjoyed a beautiful late summer afternoon at a fundraiser for Sons of the Beach and Friends, a recently formed political action committee, and sister organization to Sons of the Beach, Florida’s premiere beach access advocacy.

The SOB and Friends PAC provides financial support for candidates with a proven commitment to beach driving and stopping the privatization of our most precious natural resource.

I laid a hundred-dollars down for what I hope were the right reasons.

As the late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was fond of saying, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

I rail against our weird campaign finance laws that permit uber-wealthy political insiders to spend hundreds-of-thousands of dollars collectively to openly buy access and influence on the dais of power in DeLand and beyond.

Unfortunately, money greases the political wheel, and it allows candidates to purchase those glossy mail-outs, radio and television ads and ugly, yet ubiquitous, yard signs.  In fact, with enough of it – a politician’s rapid ascent to a position of power is all but assured – a fact that has left Florida’s Fun Coast in one hell of a predicament over time.

During the fundraiser – I met a lot of folks who have boldly ‘thrown their hat in the ring’ and are running for high office.  Some I agree with – others I don’t – but it was nice to press the flesh and talk issues with people who think enough of their neighbors and community to stand up and try like hell to make a difference.

For all my demeaning bluster and satire toward politicos – I admire that.

I spend a lot of time fixated on the machinations of Volusia County government.

It’s not that I’m some weird masochist who derives perverted gratification from pain and humiliation, I’m just fascinated by the fact that ostensibly smart people who hold high public office continue to allow local government – and our important civic, social and educational institutions – to wither and die a grotesque and painful death.

Yet, no one who should seems to care.

So long as all the right last names get their share of the pie, everyone involved knows the cycle will continue and our anointed insiders will get what they need from it, i.e., a campaign contribution, an elective office, a job, a promotion to a position they are wholly unqualified for, an ‘economic development’ handout, etc.

Those we elect and appoint to administrate Volusia County government have exposed themselves as half-bright dullards – wholly-owned chattel or compromised bureaucrats who have learned that simply serving the needs of the highest bidder in lockstep conformity allow them to avoid the difficult process of strategic thinking and visionary leadership.

Instead, our ‘powers that be’ seem to feel they can simply do as they are told by their wealthy political benefactors – then feign moral outrage when We, The People, take a dissenting opinion and point out our heartbreaking reality – the blight, dilapidation and prevailing sense of hopelessness all around us – and demand positive change.

When we oppose clearly lop-sided public policies – or question the who, what and why of a nonsensical arrangement that allows the same people to remain firmly ensconced in positions of power and influence as Rome metaphorically burns – we are marginalized, chastised and told we are not “paying attention” or are simply too stupid to understand the difficult concepts.

Bullshit.

In my case, I’ve been labeled a contrarian, a radical, a troublemaker and a malcontent; and I’ve become virtually unemployable – something best kept at arms-length.

And they’re probably right. . .

The fact is, I am an outcast who would rather reveal my troubled opinions on the important issues of the day – to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves – and expose the flaws in our deteriorating system to the disinfecting light of day – even if it costs me the approval, security and financial gain that come from ‘going along to get along.’

Trust me, I’m no more courageous than the next citizen – I just don’t have that much to lose – and I can no longer, in good conscious, stand idle.  While I may not have any direct influence on the situation – or even an articulable solution – I can damn sure shine a light into the dark places.

The base arrogance of our elected elite seems to have given the rest of us a collective inferiority complex.

Now, during the heat of an election year, incumbents who have run roughshod over our wants, needs and dreams stand before us, and – with a straight face – tell us that public confidence in county government remains high, and that if we only give them one more bite at the apple, they will use their “experience” to our advantage.

Yeah, right.

In my view, when we spend hard-earned money to support the candidate of our choice – just like Mori Hosseini, J. Hyatt Brown or any of the other “King Makers of Volusia County” – it is important to vet, scrutinize, and clearly understand the views and motivations of those we contribute to.

Are they an empty suit – a pretty talking head on the television who seems clueless about the issues whenever they are forced off-script?

Are they in the race for the right reasons?

Do they have a personal and professional record of serving others – putting the needs of their community above their own self-interests?

Do their values and beliefs align with yours?

If they are an incumbent – do their past actions and statements comport with their campaign rhetoric?  Or have they leveraged their position and compromised themselves to the ‘Rich & Powerful’ special interests for personal or political gain?

Simply put – are they in it for us – or themselves?

I realize it’s hard to tell.  But I also know a Leopard doesn’t change his spots, either – and the only true predictor of future performance is past deeds.

Look, I don’t particularly care about ideology – I’m neither a Republican or Democrat – just an ‘every-man’ who still believes in the sanctity of governance, and the notion that we are all equal under the law – that everyone deserves to be heard, and have real input in the process of local government – regardless of socio-economic status or the power of our last name.

Perhaps naïvely, I still believe that political power and self-determination should derive from the people, by the people and for the people – not just those fortunate few who can afford to ‘pay-to-play.’

Caveat Emptor, folks.  It’s important this time.

 

 

 

One thought on “On Volusia: Caveat Emptor, Y’all

  1. Yesterday, in broad daylight, I was accosted at the Ormond Beach public library by three ‘normal-looking’ people who wanted to give me a “non-partisan” voter guide. Naively, I thought it would be a thick fact-based summary of candidate’s views. I was horrified to discover it was simple half-page hand-out which merely told me who to vote for — all of them Republican candidates of course. They encouraged me to vote on-the-spot (early election option) but I said I needed more time to research the candidates. Then the bombshell: “Oh you don’t need to do that … we’ve done the research for you, just follow the voter guide” The implication of course was “you’re too stupid to understand the difficult concepts” … btw, I’m independent too, neither Democrat or Republican.

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