On Volusia: A Comparative Analysis

I find the best way to study a problem is often a simple comparative analysis – such as an examination of results over time – that give us an idea of where we’ve come, and where we are going. 

Tomorrow, our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, will join with his fellow political flapjacks on the dais of power – along with our ‘movers & shakers’ in local governments across Volusia County and the puppet masters who control them – to pat each other on the back and try their level best to deflect attention away from the train wreck that was 2018.

In my view, the only positive change to occur last year was when former County Manager Jim Dinneen fled the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Building like a diseased rat with a sack full of severance money and apparently a new job in the commercial real estate industry. 

But what’s changed? 

In a recent Daytona Beach News-Journal Editorial, we all learned that interim County Manager George Recktenwald – who was Dinneen’s second during some of the most tumultuous shit-storms in the history of Volusia County – is now “interested” in taking the job full-time – after originally assuring us he wasn’t. . . 

(Until the waters calmed, anyway.)  

So, given the fact the majority of our elected officials have already telegraphed how they plan to vote on the issue, effectively dissuading any decent candidates from throwing their hat in the ring, you can bet your bippy we’re all going to take a ride on the “Georgie Go-Round” in 2019 – because the only thing our entrenched bureaucrats, and the oligarchs who greedily feed themselves off their skewed decisions, abhor more than oversight and accountability is change to the status quo. 

Other than that – we’re swimming in the same slit trench we were this time last year – only now – our ‘powers that be’ are working overtime to shove a sales tax increase down the throat of every man, woman and child in Volusia County to clean up the mess after they strategically permitted speculative developers to build thousands of new homes and commercial developments without adequate transportation and utilities infrastructure to support  them. 

Am I wrong?   

Now, even as those we have elected and appointed to represent our highest and best interests tell us what an apocalyptic calamity we face if We, The People don’t pony up and approve their outrageous tax increase – these callous assholes have the temerity to stand before their peers and constituents to crow about all they have “accomplished” in the past year?

My ass. 

So, I thought it would be helpful to take a look at a piece I wrote this time last year immediately following the “2018 State of the County Address” and let’s take a comparative look at what has changed – and what has not – during the year that was:

On Monday, the annual political bacchanalia known as the “State of the County Address” was held at the languishing Ocean Center – a beautiful county-owned facility with a 42,000-square foot arena, and seating for over 9,000, that has been reduced from staging Elton John and Bob Dylan concerts to hosting quilting bees.

Everyone (who is anyone) dutifully gathered for this spectacle of vanity run amok – an orchestrated opportunity for our elected officials to showcase dubious “accomplishments and achievements” – slap some backs and take credit for the work of others during the past year.

According to News-Journal reporter Dustin Wyatt, (who relegated their coverage of the soiree to page C-1), the theme of the event was “Accelerating to new heights.”

It beats “Going to hell in a hand basket,” I suppose.

This year, just like every year, our delusional elected officials in DeLand aptly took credit for their true role in the Dinneen regime – facilitating “local financial support” (read: corporate welfare) for all the right last names – to include gifting millions of dollars in public funds to Brown & Brown, the billionaire international insurance intermediary, for a new headquarters building.

Oh, Old Ed threw in a few zingers – like claiming responsibility for a couple of public parks and nature trails – and grabbed the glory for “opening” beach ramps that were arbitrarily and inexplicably closed years ago.

(I’m not sure giving back something we already had can be considered an “accomplishment” – but here in the Twilight Zone, anything is possible.)

Of course, our High Panjandrums of Political Power took time to grovel for their handlers, and gush appreciation for their “sponsors” – comprised almost exclusively of county contractors or political insiders – who ponied-up the estimated $30,000 so our movers & shakers could enjoy a “free lunch.”

Free lunch?  Yeah, right. . .

I noticed Mr. Kelley didn’t take credit for the strategic neglect that has left county-owned facilities throughout Volusia County in a state of utter dilapidation – to include prime real estate held off municipal tax roles as potential “off beach parking” – deplorable conditions that contribute to blight in Ormond Beach and elsewhere – or the recurring gaffs and mistakes, open theft of our heritage of beach driving, off-the-agenda sleight-of-hand, tax addiction, lack of infrastructure planning, astronomical fee increases, or the pathological secrecy that shrouds everything this administration does or says.

And I’m sure Ed didn’t mention the bizarre “public policy by ambush” strategy that has become Mr. Dinneen’s modus operandi, a Machiavellian scheme that continues to seriously undermine public trust in Volusia County government

Perhaps most mindboggling was Mr. Kelley’s warm embrace of recent hard-won homeless initiatives as a county “achievement.”

My ass.

For years, Volusia County fought tooth-and-nail to obstruct any reasonable solution to the homeless problem; that is until the City of Daytona Beach, Mrs. Forough Hossieni and other local leaders took the reins and developed workable solutions to this pervasive countywide problem, one that continues to hamper real “economic development” and adds to the overall sense of hopelessness that pervades many areas of east Volusia.


When this snoozefest was resurrected last year, I wrote:

“Note to Chairman Kelley: The benefits of a lavish State of the County address are lost on us uncultivated rubes who gaze in amazement at the cringe-worthy state of affairs in DeLand – where our Sheriff has rightfully and openly exposed our County Manager as a “lying sack of shit” on the front page of the newspaper – and we keep rehashing corporate welfare projects and an increasingly artificial economy as “progress.”

Frankly, given our current imbroglios – it really is poor optics – either pure arrogance or utter denial.

What’s changed?

The 2019 Volusia County State of the County address by County Chair Ed Kelley and County Council Members will take place tomorrow afternoon from noon to 2:00pm at the Ocean Center, 101 N. Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach.

 The event is open to the public – you’re not welcome, mind you – but by law a public meeting must be, well, open and accessible to the public.  Reservations are required and seating (for peons) is limited—RSVP by phone at 386-943-7026.

 Enjoy your “free lunch.”   


Join Barker’s View this afternoon on GovStuff Live! with Big John beginning at 4:00pm as we discuss the issues facing the long-suffering denizens of Florida’s fabled Fun Coast on the fastest two-hours in radio!

Listen locally at 1380am The Cat – or internationally at www.govstuff.org (Listen Live button!)


Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal

One thought on “On Volusia: A Comparative Analysis

  1. I often ponder if all the other counties and cities go through the same shenanigans. Great article and radio show, keep up the good work.


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