On Volusia: Are our best days ahead?

Earlier this week I wrote a heartfelt post in support of ‘our’ hometown newspaper – The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

I meant every word of it.

That doesn’t mean we all have to agree with everything they publish.  Nor should we.

I have always advocated the philosophy that, “If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking” – because lock-step conformity is counterproductive to deliberative decision-making.

The purpose of editorial content is to sway public opinion, promote critical thinking on the issues facing our region and encourage readers to take action or vote a certain way.

The very nature of the editorial page is to be persuasive and convey the newspaper’s thoughts and opinions.

In my view, opinion writing is meant to not only express the editorial board’s point-of-view – but to stimulate a larger conversation in the community that can breakdown barriers and lead to solutions.

I tend to disagree with those who say they don’t subscribe to the News-Journal because they feel the newspaper “leans” one way or the other – or the content is too “liberal” or “conservative” – too slanted toward the needs and wants of Big Money players, etc.

Because any publication worth it’s salt (including this goofy alternative opinion blog) is, at various times, going to be all those things and more when held up to the prism of the readers own viewpoint.

But if it stirs your emotions – causes you to think differently about an issue, sparks discussion, or even heated debate, and lets you know how other people in the community are thinking – well, that’s money (and stomach acid) well-spent.

A good example of that can be found in today’s News-Journal editorial entitled, “On infrastructure, what’s next?” which continues to struggle with the idea that We, The People have spoken – and the fact our “Rich & Powerful” overseers can’t seem to come to grips with the outcome – an unfortunate circumstance that doesn’t invalidate our concerns, or our near universal distrust of Volusia County government.

Frankly, we’re getting tired of hearing the same flashlight-under-the-chin scary stories that our ‘powers that be’ told – ad nauseum – as a means of cramming the idea of a half-cent sales tax increase down our throats for the last two-years.

We’re also growing increasingly frustrated with the fear-mongering and sour-grapes threats that only reinforce the core belief of many that local government’s have been caught flatfooted by their long-suffering constituents – exposed as dysfunctional shills for an oligarchical system that truly doesn’t have a “Plan B” beyond financially exsanguinating their already overtaxed constituents.

“There may be tough times ahead. Property taxes could go up; services local residents expect may be cut. Our biggest concern is that Volusia County will see itself left behind as Florida’s economy crests, and in more pain than it deserves when hard times inevitably come. That’s why we recommended a “yes” vote on the half-cent sales tax: We thought it was the best available option. Other paths will be thornier.”

Says who?

Our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley?

That shadowy consortium of millionaires over at the Volusia CEO Business Alliance?

Government contractors who heavily financed the failed sales tax grab who won’t have the opportunity to gorge at the public tit now that their much-anticipated $42 million windfall went bye-bye?

Because the rest of us here in The Real World are damn glad Daddy finally took the T-Bird away. . .

It is asinine to expect residents and visitors of Volusia County to throw good money after bad, lavishing our hard-earned tax dollars on the same do-nothing dullards who got us into this quagmire of suburban sprawl and overburdened infrastructure on the hope and prayer that, when the time came, their constituents would simply rollover, self-inflict a sales tax increase, and bail them out of the social, civic, economic and environmental mess they created.

Doesn’t work that way. . .

Most agree that the way forward is not going to be popular with those who currently call the shots – the uber-wealthy political insiders, the real estate developers who have received maximum profits while paying little for the direct impacts of growth and the bought and paid for politicians who facilitate Volusia County’s unique brand of quid pro quo cronyism that continues to stifle true economic development and exacerbates the problems inherent to out-of-control growth.

It will require that we elect candidates who retain the ability of independent thought – visionaries who can think strategically and stop the waste, favoritism and corporate giveaways that have brought us to this desperately low place in our history.

True servant/leaders who are accessible to all of their constituents – and have a vested interest in stopping the tragic cycle that has left thousands of Volusia County families living at or below the poverty line while a few insiders continue to get fat – using public funds to underwrite private, for-profit adventures – always under the guise of “better paying jobs” that never seem to materialize for those who attempt to eke out a life here.

In my view, the table is big enough for everyone – and those who were wildly successful before the May 21st reckoning should understand that they can be part of the solution and still make a fortune – but it’s going to take a different mindset – one that partners with We, The People in decisions and priorities that directly involve the expenditure of our hard-earned tax dollars.

No one that I have spoken with – on either side of the issue – is under the mistaken opinion that the myriad problems Volusia County faces are going to get better on their own.

To the contrary.  The way forward will be difficult – and it will require hard work and tough decisions.

But I also believe our best days are ahead.

We now have the unique opportunity to restore trust in our sacred system of governance and the democratic processes that ensure a level playing field for everyone – not just those with the ability to pay-to-play.

We, The People can now negotiate from a position of power.

In my view, Volusia County is standing at the precipice of greatness – the opportunity to continue the grassroots momentum that stopped this shameless money grab and put our ‘powers that be’ on notice that we are tired of the status quo – as we work together to manage growth, restore our historic neighborhoods and core tourist areas and bring equal opportunities for success to anyone willing to invest in the future of Florida’s Fun Coast.

Despite what we’re being told – by our newspaper, our business leaders and those we have elected to represent our interests – the patch forward is bright.

The challenges ahead will test our mettle and there will be roadblocks as those who thrive in the status quo fight hard hold on to the old days and old ways – but those who see the opportunities ahead will not be deterred.

Persistence in omnipotent.

Keep the faith.

Never quit.













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