On Volusia: Ignorance is Bliss

In aviation – where risk mitigation is the sum of everything a good pilot does – it’s called Situational Awareness.

You either have it or you don’t. . .

According to one model, situational awareness is achieved by perceiving the current status and dynamics of elements in one’s environment – processing that data to comprehend the current situation – and then extrapolating this information forward in time to anticipate future status.

Perception, comprehension, projection.

What is happening now?  What can I expect to happen next?  

When I served as Chief of Police for a law enforcement agency in east Volusia County, I quickly learned how to mentally weigh hundreds of pieces of often unrelated information against known facts to constantly assess and respond to threats.

I tried to remain hyper-vigilant and cognizant of what was happening in and around my community because people counted on me for their safety and security.

For instance, I would often good-naturedly quiz new supervisors with seemingly inane questions, like: “Which way is the wind blowing this morning?”  

Initially, my query would be met with a shoulder shrug and blank stare – or worse, a “What difference does it make, Chief – I’ve got more important things to worry about. . .”

I would then explain that in the unlikely – but potentially deadly – event that we experienced a train derailment where hazardous materials were present, or there was a release of toxic gas from a compromised storage facility, knowing wind speed and direction would allow our officers to immediately initiate evacuations and secure the scene while avoiding the danger zone without unnecessary hesitation while the incident commander tried to determine which way the plume was moving.

It was an exercise in getting those responsible for serving and protecting others to think comprehensively – to consider the bigger picture – and remain aware of relevant issues in their environment that could assist in both time sensitive and strategic decision-making.

Because that’s what people who accept public funds to serve in the public interest are expected to do.

Like many of you, earlier this week I read a disturbing article by reporter Eileen Zaffiro-Kean in The Daytona Beach News-Journal entitled, “Volusia County says Daytona left it out of City Island plans.”  

The piece found Volusia County officials whining over the fact that Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm, and others in the municipal government, who were working overtime to see deed restrictions on the publicly owned land at City Island removed to allow the commercialization of the area by greed-crazed speculative developers who, for years, have salivated over the mere thought of putting up condominiums and strip centers on one of the most picturesque spots on the Fun Coast, apparently kept them out-of-the-loop on their grand plans. . .

My ass.

Look, this is nothing new.

Like every other community in the area – the City of Daytona Beach learned a long time ago that Volusia County officials cannot be trusted – and this latest move in the internecine battle has overtones of good, old-fashioned tit-for-tat business as usual. . .

Anyone remember the March 2017 sneak attack when former County Manager Jim Dinneen waited until the morning of the County Council’s vote to spend some $970,000 on a parcel of land fronting Main Street to let Mr. Chisholm know their plans?

I do.

At the time, Chisholm said he wasn’t made aware of the purchase until Dinneen telephoned him the very morning of the council meeting.

Even after voicing concerns about the appropriateness of a parking lot under the city’s “Entertainment Zone” planning tool – Mr. Dinneen failed to advise county council members that Daytona Beach had questions until after the vote had been taken.

Speaking at the time, Dinneen explained, “There’s no obligation to call (Chisholm) at all.”

Now, it’s Volusia County officials who have been exposed for the clueless assholes they truly are. . .

It should be clear to anyone paying attention just how little substantive conversation there is between Volusia County and, well, any other entity in the region on the important issues of the day.

I guess when you take your marching orders from the same group of oligarchical puppet masters, there is little, if any, real need to collaborate?

After all, Big Money interests have taken the need for our elected officials to think and plan out of the equation.  As a result, those who manipulate the campaign purse strings of sitting politicians also control our areas strategic vision – and define what passes for “progress.”

At the June 4 council meeting, County Councilwoman Billie Wheeler exclaimed, “I’m really, really, really concerned about this.  The county did not give the city the authority to petition on its behalf.”  

Now, We, The People, are supposed to believe that no one in that bloated bureaucracy in DeLand had any inkling that Daytona Beach officials – in concert with state Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff – were actively attempting to have the Florida legislature remove deed restrictions which maintained the property for ‘public purposes forever’ and release the $8.77 million ransom enacted by former Governor Slick Rick Scott and his cabinet?

Really? 

As Mr. Chisholm essentially said:  Doesn’t anyone over there read the paper? 

Not surprising, our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, was recently quoted admitting his abject ignorance of what anyone with a Glasgow Coma Scale above “No Motor Response” knew was in the works since at least February.

According to the News-Journal’s report, “I don’t know that any of us were aware that was going on,” said Kelley, who’s been the county’s top elected official for two and a half years.

Say what?

Because that’s not what Old Ed said previously. . .

In late 2017, Chairman Kelley boldly announced at a goofy Chamber of Commerce “Eggs and Issues” breakfast:

The time is right to relocate the City Island Library and free the land for commercial development.

Naturally, Mr. Kelley’s bombshell resulted in a strong response from, well, anyone and everyone who cares about the future of the Halifax area – something Mr. Dinneen immediately attempted to walk-back.

Chairman Kelley’s monstrously stupid idea resulted in a landslide of angry questions – and fueled speculation that Volusia County is planning to remove established public amenities from City Island to make way for private development.

Then, Ed just kept digging the hole as he explained to everyone what he didn’t say:

“My statement was, ‘Yes, we should look at it,’” he said. “I think anytime there’s an opportunity to make something better, you look at it. Who would want to have a closed mind about something?”

That’s not what you said, Eddie.

You specifically said, “Now would be the time.”

Let’s look at the facts – Chairman Kelley told a room full of like-types that he supports reallocating funds to move the City Island Library as part of a larger plan to demolish the Courthouse Annex and turn the property over for private development.

Later, Kelley went so far as to describe the land’s potential use to a reporter, “It could be a private use that could generate jobs or provide residences, but it’s not up to me to say what should go there. … We (the council) should evaluate the situation.”

Now, this doddering asshole has no recollection that Daytona Beach was attempting to have deed restrictions removed?

Seriously?  Less than two-years ago he wanted us to believe it was his idea!

Gentle readers, in my view, this latest kerfuffle between the City of Daytona Beach and county government is far more disturbing than it may initially appear.

If it is proven true that our elected and appointed leadership in DeLand were caught totally flatfooted by the city’s efforts to open City Island to private development – then this foundering ship of fools truly has no rudder – and this level of abject ignorance and lack of even a cursory understanding of the important civic issues facing our region should frighten all of us.

Because the alternative is that we have once again been blatantly and spuriously lied to by senior county officials as they attempt to control the narrative and seek standing in any lucrative future plans for the commercial development of City Island.

Neither scenario is acceptable.

 

 

2 thoughts on “On Volusia: Ignorance is Bliss

  1. One would think that nothing would surprise us any more about the incredibly shallow and secretive manner in which Daytona Beach approaches almost everything, but this has shocked even one so jaded to them as I. If they are such geniuses of development, why does only the west side of Daytona Beach show any substantial improvement? What should be the jewels of our area – the river- and ocean-fronts – continue to struggle from the fallout of gross mismanagement over the decades. A few examples; high-rise section 8 (low-rent) housing on prime river-view land where luxury condos exist virtually next door; the News Journal Center, a facility that should be focused on what is happening inside the building, on prime riverfront land; the former Rodeo Drive of Daytona Beach known as Seabreeze Boulevard now home to strip clubs and tacky bars; east ISB that looks like a war was recently fought in the area. The riverfront park that the Browns graciously proposed to bring back to its former grandeur was gorgeous in the ’60’s and ’70’s. Why did the city allow it to deteriorate to the point of requiring multi-millions of dollars to restore it? I could go on, but the point is made, I hope. Please let your legislators know immediately that you did not appreciate a “yes” vote to steal the rights-in-perpetuity that are attached to the public land of City Island. Representatives need to be reminded that they are re-elected every two years.

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