I normally save ditties like this for Friday and a little compilation I like to call “Angels & Assholes” – but sometimes I just can’t wait. . .
Like many of you, I’ve been routinely gobsmacked by the buffoonery of our Volusia County Council – but I really hoped-against-hope that the “new” iteration seated last month would bring a modicum of stability and decency to the dais of power.
With time and experience, I have come to the unfortunate opinion that our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, is suffering from some strange political delirium – a disorder that manifests as a rambling schizophasia of incoherent babbling on important issues – leaving his long-suffering constituents horribly confused as to his point and purpose.
During a recent Volusia County Council meeting, Old Ed suffered “one of his spells” when our elected officials were asked to approve a personal injury settlement with Michael Wade, who, in December 2015, was literally hit by a Votran bus, suffered apparent injuries requiring surgery, then filed suit against the county to recoup the $130,000 in medical bills he incurred.
In perhaps the first maneuver of its kind here on the Fun Coast (at least in my foggy memory) our weaponized County Attorney Dan “Cujo” Eckert wielded an obscure law that allows a government body to countersue and collect reimbursement from plaintiffs who prevail in lawsuits that have previously been incarcerated in the jurisdiction.
Apparently, way back in 2012, Mr. Wade was held in the Volusia County Jail for 366 days following a marijuana conviction.
Look, I have no problem with the practice – so long as the law is employed in a uniform, timely and consistent way – and not used as a cudgel at the whim of the County Attorney – a concern shared by District 4 Councilwoman Heather Post.
According to Ms. Post, “If county legal is interested in filing claims for reimbursement against every inmate that’s released from incarceration then that’s wonderful, and I would absolutely be open to discussing that in a future council meeting.”
What I found most shocking was the fact that, after The Daytona Beach News-Journal obtained a copy of the in-vehicle video footage which clearly shows Wade being struck by the bus, even though he had the right-of-way, Old Ed transformed from policymaker into a demented judge, jury and executioner – belittling Mr. Wade’s injuries and calling his claims “bogus.”
According to the News-Journal, Kelley yammered, “He’s perfectly OK,” upon viewing the video for the first time Friday. “I think the claim is bogus.”
“At some point, we are going to have (to) pay a quarter of a million dollars to defeat these” types of lawsuits, he said, wondering if this type of payout will have other consequences. “What’s going to stop more people from jumping in front of the bus?”
Jesus. I didn’t realize that throwing oneself under a moving transit bus was epidemic?
(Although, if we continue down the same uneven economic path we’ve been on for a decade – I can see the practice catching on. . .)
Look, Despite Ed’s twisted logic, this wasn’t some ‘sue and settle’ sham – even Votran determined that the accident was preventable – and Councilwoman Deb Denys and freshman member Ben Johnson had the good sense to stay in their lane.
In my view, Old Ed’s bizarre outburst was more about countering the very real concerns expressed by Councilwoman Post (because that’s just what her “colleagues” do whenever she tries to make a valid point) and less to do with his faux concern over saving taxpayer dollars. . .
So, gird your loins fellow Volusians – if this doddering dipshit has his way, we’ll be throwing astronomical amounts of our hard-earned tax dollars at “Cujo” Eckert and his team of firebreathers to challenge personal injury lawsuits regardless of merit – even when the county is demonstrably negligent – rather than ethically negotiate settlements for a fraction of the cost to defend.
Why? Because that’s how public policy is decided in this otherworldly environment where the County Chair no longer even pretends to recognize his fiduciary responsibility for the people’s assets.
But, in my view, it was his take on Councilwoman Heather Post’s recent attempt to defend herself against the Volusia County governments seemingly concerted effort to besmirch her professional reputation and sully her work history with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office that really shows what a meanspirited wank Ed truly is.
In a letter to county officials, Post’s attorney, Kelly Chanfrau, indicated that Volusia failed to live up to the terms of a separation agreement by not correcting employment records – coupled with a near-constant attack on Post by senior administrators and elected officials – who have treated her like a cheap piñata since she took office.
According to Ms. Post, “If the County acts in such a manner ‘because they can get away with it’ and they will do this to one of seven highest government officials in the County, then how many other settlement agreements are they not abiding by and in fact blatantly disregarding?”
Specifically, Post and her attorney cited an insubordinate swipe by former County Manager Jim Dinneen who said during an open public meeting, “I think you all forget her circumstances of why she does not work here anymore.”
But rather than fire him on the spot for his insolent outburst – our elected officials simply rallied behind Dinneen – further shunning and isolating Ms. Post.
In response to Councilwoman Post’s very valid concerns of systematic workplace retaliation – our County Chair issued the type of cogent and well-thought response we’ve come to know and love:
According to the Ormond Beach Observer, “County Council Chair Ed Kelley attributed Post saying she’s “standing up for everyone that has no voice” as “total political rhetoric.” She’s setting the stage for her next run for office, he said.”
“Everyone has a voice,” Kelley said. “Anyone that is in a situation like this has a voice.”
(Yes, he Really said that. . .)
My God. I guess the game isn’t so fun when the piñata hits back?
Then, in his typical nonsensical word salad, Old Ed added:
“Kelley also said he was disappointed with Post calling herself “one of seven highest government officials in the County.” He said she is making herself out to be important.”
“I don’t consider what I am as important,” Kelley said. “I consider what I am is a public servant doing what I was elected to do, and not that it’s important.”
No, really, what the hell is he trying to say, eh?
If stewarding a &700+ million-dollar budget and setting public policy for a population of nearly 540,000 souls who depend upon our elected and appointed officials in Volusia County to set a strategic vision for our very future – and providing essential services we need to ensure civilization on this patch of overstuffed pine scrub – isn’t “important” what is?
In my view, it is high time for this addled asshole to issue a simple apology (if he’s capable) to both Ms. Post and his flummoxed constituents – then resign to the ash heap of political history where these cartoon characters go when they have exposed the depth of their incompetence – and cruelty.