Angels & Assholes for November 22, 2019

Hi, kids!

It’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way.

Let’s look at who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was:

Asshole           First Step Shelter Board

You’re not going to believe this – because I certainly don’t – but this week we learned that the long-awaited First Step Shelter will open its doors to homeless persons seeking assistance (and their law enforcement escorts) on December 16 – and welcome other unfortunates not in police custody, so long as they make an appointment in advance. . .

After years of fits and starts, the long-suffering citizens of Volusia County are being told that, in less than a month, the languishing shelter will be staffed and operational – even though the facility has “. . .a few major tasks left uncompleted.”

According to a report by Eileen Zaffiro-Kean writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, those odds-and-ends include:

“There’s no hot water yet because a valve is needed for the propane gas that will heat water. There is no phone or Internet service yet because there’s no agreement with a provider. Washers and driers haven’t arrived yet.

All security equipment has yet to be installed, and contracts still need to be finalized with the two companies that will supply security employees and equipment such as cameras and high-tech door locks. A large portion of the bare concrete floor has to be ground down and covered with a stain, urethane and a new mat finish.

Outside, work has yet to start on building the fenced-in “safe zone” where homeless people can stay for part of a day when they’re accused of committing a minor crime and exercise their legal right to choose the spartan holding area over jail.”

Oh, and the parking lot is only half paved – you know, to save money and all.

I guess our partners at P$S Paving have given all they can. . .darn the luck, eh?

Other than that, folks, it’s all “rah-rah-sis-boom-bah!” out in the hinterlands on US-92.

Unfortunately, things remain clear as mud over here in the Real World.

Don’t take my word for it.

Even our new First Step Executive Director, Victoria Fahlberg, has been kept in the dark on when the controversial “safe zone” – perhaps the most important element of the entire operation – will ultimately be completed.

According to Director Fahlberg, she “heard” plans are being drawn up – but, “. . .that’s all I know for now.”

Even the contractor doesn’t know for sure if his company will be asked to construct the safe zone if/when plans for the spartan “safe zone” are complete.

But if/when it is finished, it appears only the security officer monitoring the area 24/7 will be provided shelter from the elements in the form of a “guard shack.”

We’re also unsure of the zone’s size, whether the floor will be a poured pad or bare dirt, how much the site will cost – or who will ultimately pay for it. . .

Weird.

I wouldn’t look for much more in the way of hard information in coming weeks.  Even our neutered “representatives” on the First Step Shelter Board continue to be openly ignored by the City of Daytona Beach.

That’s what happens when you sign a lease on a half-finished building which only provides a modicum of control over the operation and absolutely no authority over the still active construction. . .

On a positive note, the News-Journal also reported:

“When everything is in place and the Catholic Charities shelter staff that will operate it has been trained, clients will be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis, Fahlberg said. Those not brought in by law enforcement officers will need to make an appointment to be considered for a bed inside the shelter, she said.”

In my 31-years of dealing with the homeless population, one thing I came to respect is their painstaking attention to detail and Swiss watch punctuality when making appointments and keeping commitments. . .

But I continue to hope for the best.  Because hope is all we’ve got at this point.

Last weekend, my wife and I were driving home on a rather blustery Saturday night after enjoying dinner in downtown Daytona Beach.

As we stopped for a traffic light on Ridgewood Avenue, we saw two mounds of tattered blankets heaped in the filthy doorway of a long-shuttered business – then heard the croupy rattle of a tubercular cough emanating from under the makeshift shelters.

Unfortunately, neither of us were shocked by the scene.

God help us.

Like thousands of other Halifax area residents (and potential donors) over time, we’ve become numb to that all-to-familiar level of human suffering on our streets – and the foot-dragging and political gamesmanship that has denied this vulnerable population help for too damn long.

I just hope those two hopeless souls Patti and I encountered make their appointments – then begin the long, arduous march toward whatever assistance the First Step Shelter will ultimately provide before the cold, damp winds of winter begin to blow. . .

Angel              Coach Alvin Wyatt, Sr. & Coach Steve Ridder

From the Barker’s View Sports Desk:

This was a banner week for Halifax area collegiate sports with two legendary coaches reaching milestones in their impressive careers.

Last week, it was announced that renowned Bethune-Cookman University Coach Alvin B. Wyatt, Sr. is one of five 2020 inductees into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame!

According to B-CU Athletics, the former Wildcat football All-American took over as head football coach in 1997, leading Bethune-Cookman to their first-ever Division I bowl game in 1998 when the Wildcat squad appeared in the Heritage Bowl.

“Wyatt is both the all-time winningest coach in Bethune-Cookman football history at 90-54 and in women’s basketball program with a career mark of 245-207 from 1978-96 that includes the 1984 MEAC Tournament championship with a 62-61 overtime win over South Carolina State and an 84-63 victory over Rust in the 1981 AIAW Regionals.”

Congratulations, Coach Wyatt, on this richly deserved recognition for your lifetime of dedicated service to B-CU Athletics and a grateful community.

Equally impressive is Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Basketball Coach Steve Ridder, who earned his 700th career win on the first night of the 2019 Daytona Mitsubishi/Kia Shootout beating Spring Hill College 109-76.

Eagle Basketball reports, “For Ridder, his 700 victories came in just 986 games over 31 seasons with Embry-Riddle. He is the 29th coach to get all 700 wins at one school and the 16th active coach in collegiate men’s basketball to reach the 700-win plateau.”

 Kudos to Coach Ridder and Coach Wyatt for their incredible contributions to area collegiate sports – and, by their shining example, for  positively influencing the personal, athletic and scholastic development of our leaders of tomorrow.

Well done, gentlemen.

Asshole           Daytona Beach City Commission

It’s been clear for some time now, that – damn the torpedoes – the City of Daytona Beach will steam full speed ahead with their expanded “plan” to turn downtown Beach Street upside-down early next year.

Although the Daytona Beach City Commission did a good job feigning tacit interest in the concerns of frightened business owners and critics who believe that tearing up the current streetscape, only to replace it with another streetscape, will crush many small businesses – it has been clear for weeks that this was a fait accompli.

According to reports, the multi-million-dollar plan to reduce traffic lanes (?) and widen sidewalks will begin in February, with completion expected sometime in “early” 2021. . .

During Wednesday’s Daytona Beach City Commission meeting, the elected officials sat up straight and tall as His Royal Highness J. Hyatt Brown –  and Dr. Kent Sharples of that secret society at the CEO Business Alliance – did their Smithers and Mr. Burns act – sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on the front row – which is the patented “Halifax area High Sign” that signals to their hired chattel on the dais of power how to vote.

The Academy Award for Best Dramatic Performance went to Mayor Derrick Henry for his eerily convincing recital that the commission asked City Manager Chisholm for a “plan” to assist and promote businesses during construction, “should we decide to move forward” – almost as if the result wasn’t a foregone conclusion. . .

In perhaps his best Ebenezer Scrooge impersonation to date – Mr. Brown sealed the deal when he admonished his assembled subjects that he “was going to have to reconsider some things in the $18 million rebirth of Riverfront Park” if the streetscape project doesn’t proceed.

According to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Brown said he’s been looking at spending up to $775,000 for a state-of-the-art splash pad in the park. But research shows mothers won’t want to cross four lanes of traffic to get to a splash pad, he said.”

 “I don’t want to spend that amount of money if it’s two lanes,” said Brown, chairman of the board of insurance broker giant Brown & Brown.”

Wow.

His Majesty has no qualms taking a splash park away from the very children who are now saddled with the exorbitant bill for upkeep on his “Grand Esplanade” for the next 50-years if he doesn’t get his way on Beach Street.

You see, it doesn’t matter if the long-suffering villeins of Daytona Beach ponied up millions of dollars in tax abatements and infrastructure to underwrite Mr. Brown’s over-hyped insurance building on Beach Street, The Monarchy rules – and if you don’t bend over and submit to the King’s every fancy – “No splash park for you!”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the way things are “accomplished” here on Florida’s fabled Fun Coast. . .

Just one question:  How long are We, The People going to be held hostage by what Mr. Brown will and won’t do in Riverside Park if our elected officials don’t acquiesce to his every whim?

Angel              Ponce Inlet Police Chief Frank Fabrizio

On Monday, Ponce Inlet Chief of Police Frank Fabrizio announced he will be stepping down next month, culminating some 37-years of committed public service – the last seven to the grateful citizens of the Town of Ponce Inlet.

I can attest to the fact that, even on a good day, a police chief’s job is a hard dollar – and those who do it well deserve our respect.  In my view, few have done better by their department and community during these challenging times than Frank Fabrizio.

I have steadily admired his handling of several high-profile incidents that rocked the quaint seaside town.  Perhaps most memorable was his unyielding support for residents who were outraged by the gruesome beating death of a Labrador puppy in 2017.

The tragic incident galvanized many – both in Ponce Inlet and around the globe – who banded together and fought hard to seek legislation that ultimately became known as “Ponce’s Law” – which will bring stiff penalties to those foul pieces of human excrement who would torture and kill defenseless animals.

The law, which went into effect on October 1, will permit judges to ban convicted abusers from owning a pet, place their names in a database of shame and increase the likelihood that these sadistic offenders will be sentenced to jail time for their horrific crimes.

In my view, his efforts to assist the passage of this important legislation speak to Chief Fabrizio’s character – and the depth of his personal concern for the community.

Chief Fabrizio also dealt with the internecine squabbles that befall all law enforcement agencies from time-to-time – to include the internal and external criticism that can make the job incredibly difficult – and extract an equally hard personal toll.

After a stellar career with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Chief Fabrizio was appointed by Town Manager Jeaneen Witt in January 2012, following the death of my dear friend and close colleague, the incomparable, Chief Wayne Lurcock, who passed away unexpectedly the previous September.

As Chief Fabrizio departs, Ms. Witt has tapped veteran Lieutenant Mark Walker to lead the agency forward until a new chief is named.

In my view, having known and worked closely with Lt. Walker for over three-decades, you will not find a more dedicated or able public servant anywhere.

I’m proud to call Mark my friend.

Lt. Walker’s quick wit and incredible skill – both as a servant-leader and police administrator – are only eclipsed by those hard to define “people skills” that endear him to those he serves and the officers in his charge.

My sincere hope is the Ponce Inlet Town Council will consider appointing Mark Walker to the position, rather than engage in an expensive and unnecessary search.

Congratulations to Chief Fabrizio on your well-deserved retirement from a lifetime of exemplary public service – and thank you for a job well done, sir.

Asshole           Volusia County Council

Another stage production of “Ed Kelley’s Cornpone Carnival” is in the books – and, as usual, our doddering fool of a County Chair didn’t disappoint. . .

If you’re not attending these obscene shit shows in person, I completely understand.

I don’t either.

After all, most people work during, well, business hours on Tuesdays and simply can’t be there (I think that’s the plan) – but that shouldn’t stop you from tuning in for the live feed online.

Best slapstick in town. . .

In this week’s episode, two concerned constituents who live in unincorporated Ormond-by-the-Sea attempted to address the still raw topic of septic-to-sewer conversion on the north peninsula.

Before the first citizen could formally address his elected representatives, Chairman Kelley –  clearly annoyed that he had to speak with a commoner – began abdicating any county responsibility for the utility issue with his patented histrionics and a disjointed lecture that had a chilling effect on both citizens, who took time out of their lives to appear before their haughty overlords in DeLand.

When the second resident took exception to being publicly scolded by the very elected body who ostensibly represents her interests – she logically asked Old Ed, if he doesn’t represent north peninsula residents, “Why are you here?”

Damn fine question.

Unfortunately, that legitimate query triggered Chairman Kelley, who initiated a shouting match with the residents after they left the podium in disgust.

The disturbing back-and-forth included Mr. Kelley’s always petty, not-so-veiled, swipes at Councilwoman Heather Post – and culminated with his unhinged raving from the dais, “I am not the bad guy!”

Wild.

In my view, it was one of Old Ed’s better Captain Queeg moments. . .

As the Theater of the Absurd continued (I don’t want to say “progressed,” it didn’t) – following a super-secret selection process known only to County Manager George Recktenwald – we witnessed the anointment of a Jonathan Edwards as our long-anticipated Internal Auditor.

During the discussion, unidentified “critics” were taken to task from the dais for even suggesting that Mr. Edward’s appointment was a slap-dash, thrown together decision – with Councilwoman Post alluding to the fact our elected officials apparently held surreptitious off-the-record interviews with Edward’s at some point in the recruitment “process.”

Were you invited to participate in Mr. Edward’s selection and vetting? 

Were you aware of other finalists, if any, that Mr. Edward’s may have competed against for the job?

Were you told what selection criteria was used – asked to provide interview questions – or advised of what qualifications and experience put Mr. Edward’s over the top?

Will Edward’s be permitted to make direct referrals to law enforcement on instances of fraud, misuse of public funds, theft, false representation, misappropriation of public resources, etc. – or will the county’s legal department and senior leadership make that decision?   

Are you aware of what he’s being paid, who he reports to, if his office will be internal or external, what administrative or investigative assistance is he being provided, or even what his responsibilities and scope of authority will be?

Me neither. . .

Look, all I know is that one month ago – on October 24, 2019, to be exact – The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported in an informative piece by Dustin Wyatt entitled, “Volusia still hasn’t hired internal auditor,” there was absolutely no mention of Edwards, or anyone else, being considered for this highly sensitive role.

Why is that? 

And how did we go from zero interest to making a job offer in fifteen working days?

I don’t know about you, but for a highly-touted position that was resurrected following the universal distrust of county government that saw the death of a very expensive sales tax initiative – and has destroyed the public’s trust – one would have thought the recruitment and selection process might have been slightly more transparent?

Even during the confirmation process at the public meeting – all we really learned about our new auditor is that he was a deputy finance officer in some suburb of Charleston, that, according to Ed Kelley’s razor-sharp insight, has some great bar-b-que and seafood restaurants. . .

No word on his success as a public finance watchdog.

Once again, what could have given constituents a feeling of buy-in and substantive participation was dashed by Volusia County’s cloistered, almost psychopathic, need for secrecy and backroom machinations.

Whatever.

Good luck, Mr. Edwards – whoever you are. . .

Quote of the Week

“Enjoy the wooded ride on Maytown Road with its beautiful plant life and possible wildlife sightings while you can.  For soon, thanks to the greed of investors/developers and attorneys, 30,000 or so houses will be built.  How many creatures will be displaced or eliminated?  How many plants will join the growing list of plant extinction?  Prepare for the demise of our aquifer, urban sprawl, and all its problems.  Video your ride so that your future kids can see how it used to be.”

–Sonny Ellison, Bethune Beach, writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Letters to the Editor, “Act now to save natural beauty,” Tuesday, November 19, 2019

We’re ruining it all for our children and grandchildren. . . 

Slowly but surely – thanks to voracious  greed – we watch in horror while land rapists and speculative developers continue the slash-and-burn wholesale destruction of our natural places to make room for more garish “lifestyle” communities and depressing, half-empty strip centers.

The astute writer featured in today’s quote is obviously referencing the long-anticipated environmental atrocity known as Farmton – which, beginning in 2026, will bring some 25,000 homes to the natural area between Osteen and Oak Hill – complete with a planned 4-million square feet of commercial space.

That represents a lot of new Walmart shoppers, folks.

I just hope they don’t drink water, drive cars or excrete waste like the rest of us. . .

Interestingly, on last Sunday’s editorial page, the News-Journal asked why more residents aren’t “lending their voice” to local governments on environmental issues and resiliency:

“What too many aren’t seeing is their place in the discussion. They don’t see opportunities to adapt to changing conditions. They aren’t speaking out to demand their leaders do a better job of managing threats to the way of life they treasure. Many — make that most — don’t even vote in local elections.”

Perhaps it’s time we collectively inform our tone-deaf ‘powers that be’ that average citizens no longer see our “place” in anything local government does.

Until We, The People use the electoral process to jettison these greedy whores and faux-environmentalists who masquerade as “public servants,” citizens will continue to stand helpless while even more sensitive lands are rezoned and more “planned unit developments,” often owned by campaign contributors, are permitted while the bulldozers roar over a moonscape, paving over aquifer recharge areas and planting more gaudy “theme” communities on wetlands and wildlife habitat that are never coming back.

And Another Thing!

Guess what?

After marginalizing our opinions, suing their own citizens for having the temerity to petition their government for a say in the future of our beach, intentionally suppressing publicly funded studies urging significant increases in impact fees, obstructing public input, ostracizing whistle-blowers, ignoring concurrency regulations, approving massive sprawl from Farmton to the Flagler County line while completely disregarding transportation and infrastructure needs, then bowing to every whim of their uber-wealthy campaign donors – now, those same elected dullards in DeLand and beyond want to sit down and talk “issues” with you naysayers. . .

Bullshit.

I suppose when all else fails – and your complete lack of respect for those you represent has been repeatedly exposed – then it’s time to feign sincerity, fan the flames of pseudo-urgency and engage your disenfranchised constituents in some stilted tête-à-tête to make them believe now you care what they have to say. . .

How stupid do these pinheads think we are? 

Too little, too late.

Inexplicably, rather than address the very real “public trust” issue that doomed the half-cent sales tax referendum earlier this year, the exact same players – a weird amalgam of pompous profiteers and the lickspittle politicians who are indebted to them – are back for another bite at this moldering apple less than six-months after their money grubbing plan went down in flames.

On Monday, over a lunch you and I paid for, the Knights of the Roundtable – that shadow regime comprised of mayors, managers and parasitic hangers-on – met while you were at work to get their collective stories straight on perhaps the most pressing issue of our time:

How to fund improvements to our wholly ignored, now totally inadequate, transportation infrastructure and maintain water quality in the face of crushing over-development when no one trusts you anymore?

According to reports, the preliminary “plan” is to slap together another “committee” – this one  comprised of Dr. Kent Sharples, the doyen of the camera stellata at the CEO Business Alliance, and Jim Cameron of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce (?) – along with a smattering of elected officials who aren’t up for reelection next year. . .

Oh, I almost forgot, the klatch will also include a few token “naysayers” (the Roundtable’s insulting moniker, not mine) apparently selected from those who stood in opposition to the tax hike the first time around.

As the recognized Crown Prince of Volusia County Critics, the Nabob of Negativity, the Monarch of Misanthropes, the Sultan of Suspicion, the Potentate of Pessimists, the Maharishi of Malcontents, the (oh, sorry) – I wouldn’t add credibility to their damnable disinformation campaign by sitting on their faux-fence mending committee if they paid me.

Don’t worry, they won’t.  Something tells me the Knights of the Roundtable don’t want me anywhere near their committee. . .

In my view, this is the nadir of political chicanery – and speaks to the depths our compromised politicians will go to ignore and disrespect the Will of the People.

Because he’s a true gentleman, Holly Hill City Manager Joe Forte advised the tone-deaf group that branding a large and growing segment of their constituency as “naysayers” was inappropriate – but the damage was done.

Frankly, to watch the likes of the always arrogant County Councilwoman Deb Denys – backed by Dr. Kent Sharples and his Merry Band of Millionaires (who shouldn’t be within a hundred miles of a sales tax referendum) lecture us on how much we collectively stand to lose in the next “12 to 18 months” when Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon take their mythical high paying “aerospace jobs” elsewhere – is nauseating. . .

It’s also a gross insult to our intelligence.

If a sales tax increase were passed this afternoon, it would be 12 to 18 years before the level of transportation and utilities infrastructure meets current demand – and no one in their right mind, let alone sitting public officials – should expect us to forgive, forget and hand over more of our hard-earned money to those who have proven unworthy of our sacred trust.

As always, thank you for reading, and for furthering a larger conversation on the myriad issues we face.

You are making a difference.  Never forget that.

A&A will take a break next week as we join with family and friends to give thanks for the many wonderful blessings in our lives.

Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and a most Joyous Holiday Season!

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Angels & Assholes for November 22, 2019

  1. Go Fund Me page should be initiated for mental rehab, anger issues, general meanness, for Ed Kelly. Perhaps he can find the answer with the aid of counseling to the modest question, “Why are You here?”

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  2. City of Daytona commission meeting wed , lot to take in! I don’t like the idea only one bidder for beach st and now city is negotiating with contractor. And commissioners not aware that city had put beach st out for bid. Money coming out of general fund.

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  3. Mark Barker, you absolutely hit the nail on the head every time. Your depiction of Hyatt Brown’s good old Florida boy, good buddy description of “no splash park for you” was spot on. Kudos to you! And continue to speak the truth. Just watch your back—look what happened to David Lee Davis.

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