We’re being lied to.
I believe what we are experiencing today is a pernicious and well-organized disinformation campaign perpetrated by Volusia County government and certain corporations – complete with distortions, illusions and outright lies – designed to help force implementation of a proposed half-cent sales tax while providing the local real estate development industry yet another opportunity to avoid the recently imposed impact fee increase.
All the players are present.
Our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley – a hubristic simp who hasn’t had an original thought since he accepted his first campaign contribution – has fought any substantive increase to transportation infrastructure impact fees (which help growth pay for itself in terms of keeping streets, roadways and utilities infrastructure on pace with the massive population increase that is the natural result of suburban sprawl) – which haven’t been increased in nearly two-decades.
Add to that the massive campaign contributions to hand-select County Council candidates – with $1 of every $5 in recorded contributions in the last election cycle originating from developers – and you see just how cozy (and incredibly lucrative) this age-old suppression of impact fees has been.
After their constituents made the logical connection between a push to lash every man, woman and child in Volusia County to a sales tax increase ostensibly for transportation infrastructure – while well-heeled developers continue to receive a pass on impact fees, a realization that threatened to derail the lucrative money grab – last November, our elected officials in DeLand cobbled together a phased plan to increase impact fees by 2020.
At that time, Old Ed began reciting a litany of ways in which this logical hike would hurt growth, “punish” low income families (but a sales tax increase won’t?) and damage the chance for uber-wealthy developers to put even more cash in their pockets.
Sir John Albright, CEO of the good old boy’s investment club over at Consolidated Tomoka Land Company – who has made millions of dollars selling off pine scrub to fuel the current building boom – telegraphed the coming drama last September when he said, “Such a drastic immediate increase may be problematic for developers as they are facing major cost pressures on materials and labor. Not the best time for this,” he said, adding that he’d prefer the council gradually increase rates over time. “I would recommend a staggered, consistent increase rather than a dramatic jump.”
Now, after pouring massive amounts of cash into the campaign coffers of currently sitting council members during the 2018 election – the building lobby, in concert with their paid puppets on the dais of power – are orchestrating an ugly bait-and-switch designed to create a loophole to the impact fee hike by allowing developers to pay early on building permits currently under review to avoid the legitimate fees being implemented next month.
To ram that point home, last week, Minto Communities – who is actively building Jimmy Buffett’s faux beach community directly on top of our aquifer recharge areas west of LPGA – announced they were pulling the plug on a 3,000 home Phase II – citing (virtually verbatim) the issues Old Ed Kelley teed up back in October 2018. . .
Boo-fucking-hoo. . .
In my view, it’s too clean, too well-organized not to have been choreographed in advanced – and anyone who consistently pays attention to the ham-handed machinations of Volusia County government, and the ‘Rich and Powerful’ oligarchs who pull the strings, know that none of this evolved by accident.
What you are witnessing is, as a smart friend of mine likes to say, “corruption in plain sight.”
It is the insidious result of a campaign finance system that allows an industry to infuse a disproportionate amount of funds into strategic local races with the sole expectation of receiving a return on that investment in a legal quid pro quo scheme that benefits developers and the donor-class over the needs of their long-suffering constituents every time.
I encourage everyone to witness this unfold at today’s Volusia County Council meeting.
It’s important to let them know we’re standing silently – watching.
Let’s see if those we have elected to represent our interests have the guts to resist the powerful influence of their political benefactors – or whether they complete the corrupt circuit that began when they accepted massive campaign funds from those who stand to benefit most from their official action.
Listen to the Volusia County Council meeting live beginning at 9:30am here:
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