A generous pour of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey into a large earthen mug. Top with hot, bold, dark roast coffee, preferably Café Bustelo – enjoy, repeat as necessary.
I don’t work anymore. That’s obvious.
Partly of my own slothful volition, but mostly because no one in their right mind would hire me. . .
Now, I mainly criticize the handiwork of those elected and appointed officials who accept public funds, ostensibly to “serve” in the public interest.
As a result, I can enjoy indulgences like a wee dram or two in my morning coffee – an anesthetic of sorts, for my twisted thoughts and opinions on the insanity of the world outside my window.
My avocation requires that I be a voracious consumer of the news.
I read multiple online newspapers, public affairs journals, several local sites along with a broad sweep of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – a daily regimen that keeps me reasonably up to date on the issues.
In addition, I sometimes idle away the morning reviewing archived video of various government meetings as a means of masochistic self-torture. . .
The real curse is, I’m often drawn to the minutia of events – the seemingly esoteric parts of public meetings and official press releases that are so often used to obscure and deflect the true issues.
Perhaps that’s a reflection of my years as an entrenched bureaucrat – but reading between the lines has become my stock in trade – the art of deciphering the pettifoggery inherent to administering the people’s business.
Unfortunately, that means my morning whiskey is becoming more of a necessity than a treat.
On Tuesday, the Volusia County Council held its bimonthly théâtre de l’absurde, a farcical stage production of bizarre performance art that leaves both staff and constituents mourning the fact that what passed for a public meeting represents hours of their lives they will never be able to reclaim. . .
It can be both infuriating and terribly disheartening.
For instance, one rather benign item was listed on the agenda as “2020 state legislative agenda.”
As is their habit, this time of the year, most local governments – and the do-nothing ancillary organizations they fund – engage in the annual make-work exercise of setting “priorities” for the coming year.
Normally, these urgencies are wide-ranging and flexible – like “We support legislative efforts to improve water quality!” – so that literally any nexus to a reasonably sanitary glass of water can be hailed a rousing success by our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, during his obnoxious “State of the County” address in January.
This year’s hodgepodge of legislative desires was no different.
During his painful presentation, our in-house lobbyist, Government Affairs Director John Booker, yammered, stammered, spit, sputtered, fidgeted, fumbled and stumbled his way through the short list of Volusia County’s legislative agenda – all but admitting that “over the past year or so” he’s wasted precious time collaborating with like-types on how other jurisdictions stage their own list of priorities – then um, ah, eh, he “took a stab” at creating a 20-page glossy booklet (the first five pages of which is an elaborate tableau vivant of our illustrious county and state politicians). . .
Look, I don’t mean to be a nitpicking, mean-spirited asshole – and I realize that some folks just aren’t comfortable public speakers, but, like an emergency room doctor who can’t stand the sight of blood – awkwardness in front of a governmental audience usually doesn’t inspire confidence in lobbyists – who spend most of their time, well, speaking publicly in front of a government audience. . .
So, don’t take my word for it.
Watch Mr. Booker’s disastrous performance for yourself – then ask if we are getting the most from our $90,000 annual salary in the Government Affairs role – which was created for Mr. Booker when Volusia County promptly fired former professional Washington lobbyist Jamie Pericola, after he dared speak truth to power regarding the utter dysfunction in county government.
The council’s “priorities” also include a cockamamie one-sentence authorization to permit the Historic North Turn Legends Beach Parade – which everyone who is anyone outside of Volusia County government agrees is a non-issue.
Considering state legislative committee meetings are already underway – and the 2020 session starts in January – even Mr. Booker admits we’re “ah, a little bit late in the game” in getting our agenda together – but what do you want for $90 grand, eh?
Jesus. . .
The meeting continued with the usual gibberish and ham-handed attempts to stitch together some semblance of public policy – which ultimately required that Deputy County Attorney Jamie Seaman attempt to demystify the previous official actions of the council dealing with a simple special exception for a rural event center.
That humiliating exercise resulted in this nearly verbatim jabber by the clearly parliamentary and cognitively challenged Ed Kelley:
“Motion to amend the additional amendment to remove the amendment to the amended. . .”
(In an attempt to shorten the embarrassment, something in that mess was moved by Rev. Fred Lowry – I think – then passed unanimously?)
“Need a motion to approve the amended motion that was amended.”
(Again, something in that prattle was moved by Councilwoman Girtman – I think – and passed unanimously?)
Look, I don’t make this shit up, folks.
You couldn’t possibly exaggerate it. . .
In my view, we stand at a crossroads in Volusia County – a government clearly run amok with no clear order or direction – which continues to hold firm to the ‘old ways’ which allow the same tired puppets to occupy the same seats of power and “play government” – until they are needed to rubber stamp the wants of those who truly control the rods and strings.
As a result, I believe that after these nonsensical “meetings,” County Manager George Recktenwald, with the help of other senior officials, simply interpret what they think our elected officials might have meant when they took official action from the dais, authorized expenditures, passed resolutions or established critical public policy – then blend it all together into some semblance of order that will ultimately effect our lives and livelihoods for years to come.
Is there another explanation?
I also happen to believe it’s intentional.
Because there is no other logical reason for this continuing dysfunction and confusion.
Talk about an eyeopener. . .
In my view, the fact that Chairman Kelley – knowing full-well the utter chaos, disorder and nervous snickering which continues to plague any meeting he presides over – can still stand and face his bewildered constituents and ask for another four years at the helm of this ship of fools – speaks to his egomaniacal inability to put the true needs of those he is expected to serve over his own self-interests.
Enough is enough.
Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal