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 Daytona Beach Downtown Development Authority
“Sham: Cheap falseness, not genuine, having such poor quality as to seem false, a trick that deludes”
Despite the death song of some downtown merchants, and the growing protests of long-time residents, it is painfully clear that the City of Daytona Beach is moving full steam ahead with an asinine plan to destroy a serviceable streetscape on Beach Street and replace it with something, well, different.
When the process begins in a few weeks, I think it’s safe to say that not all of the small businesses that currently occupy downtown storefronts will be there when the project ends sometime later this year.
And maybe that’s part of the plan?
I cannot imagine how it must feel to put your blood, sweat and tears into something you built – only to have your own municipal government actively work against you – with the only logical explanation being that your shop or service doesn’t comport with some wealthy insiders “vision” of what they ultimately want downtown to look like. . .
Now, apparently to soften the blow of a terminal diagnosis, the City of Daytona Beach is announcing grand plans to “help” downtown merchants by suddenly changing tack from a cloistered, fuliginous, information black hole to what is now being described as a culture of “consistent communication” and a willingness to listen to “impacted groups” and solicit feedback.
In my experience, the only accurate predictor of future performance is past behavior, and anyone paying attention can call this sham a mile away. . .
Given the experience of some merchants during the Orange Avenue reconstruction – which began in August 2014 yet wasn’t finished until 2017 – and myriad other projects that drag on for months, even years, beyond estimates, nobody is holding out much hope for the proposed Beach Street “improvements” timeline.
And don’t get me started on the Tom Staed Veterans Memorial Bridge fiasco – a county project which, despite daily fines, finger pointing and official promises – has remained perpetually under construction since 2016. . .
Now, to calm the fears of some Beach Street merchants – or to salve their own tortured conscience – Daytona Beach officials are saying all the right things, promising to assist struggling businesses, and, now that the city has awarded the $4.4 million job to P$S Paving, actually listen to their concerns. . .
The Daytona Beach Downtown Development Authority, which just happens to be chaired by an attorney with Cobb Cole (a firm representing everyone who is anyone in the downtown development game), are exporting dollars to a Ponte Vedra Beach based marketing agency while flogging “special events” as a means of providing palliative care for the doomed – a too little, too late hospice for retail used-to-be’s.
One concerned reader forwarded me a copy of a colorful brochure, apparently sent by the Downtown Development Authority in resident’s water bills, touting Christmas events on Beach Street.
It arrived on December 31st. . .
Clearly, a select few in the Halifax area aristocracy have definite plans for what our downtown will look like over the next decade – including which businesses will be allowed to prosper and which will wither.
I believe their dream of creating a “destination” ultimately includes the commercial development of City Island – the real estate is simply too valuable – and all the right players are on-board – which means the rest of us are just along for the ride. . .
If it’s any consolation, in my view, the die was cast on the fate of downtown Daytona long before what passes for public discussion even began – and was cemented when His Royal Majesty J. Hyatt Brown callously held a proposed $750,000 children’s splash park in the “Brown Esplanade” hostage to the lane reduction project.
Unless the street project moved forward – the splash pad would be “eradicated.”
(And I’m a mean-spirited ogre? Whoa.)
To ensure there was no confusion where our exalted Ruling Class stood, J. Hyatt was bolstered in his hostile demand by our High Panjandrum of Political Power, Mori Hossieni, as the two titans rose before their hired chattel and gave them not-so-subliminal marching orders.
The great Bob Dylan said, “he not busy being born is busy dying” – and, in my view, that moment at the Daytona Beach City Commission meeting of December 18, 2019, marked the birth of “Hyattona” – and the death of anything that doesn’t comport with one man’s vision for the rest of us.
Angel Louis Fuchs
“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
— Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias”
Unfortunately, the Halifax area elite could give two-shits when it comes to curating our community history – and the memory of those who took us from a salty patch of palmetto scrub, across the Bell Curve of civic success, to where we are now.
Instead, Volusia County’s self-aggrandizing ‘powers that be’ seem more interested in assuring their own legacy (and currying favor) through the deification of our present-day pompous political insiders.
Even if their strange idea of civic glory only lasts a few decades.
In the 1960’s, a small group of local businessmen, led by the venerated J. Saxon Lloyd, formed the Civic League of the Halifax Area – one of those “membership by invitation only” secret societies that, to this day, continue to serve as the puppet masters who form public policy in their own image – and to their own advantage. . .
The Civic League, and those “Rich & Powerful” political insiders who populated it back in its heyday, were of the opinion that a clique of power brokers was more effective at community decision-making than our democratic system of politically accountable representatives, “which change administrations every year, because it will be permanent.”
No one was more ingrained in the local power structure of the day – or more dedicated to the future success of east Volusia County – than Halifax area business leader and community activist, Lou Fuchs.
In fact, Mr. Fuchs is the late uncle of the esteemed Dr. Hal Kushner, a former Vietnam Prisoner of War and true American hero, whose ophthalmology practice has served residents of the Halifax area since 1977.
It is reported that, as a boy, Dr. Kushner spent a couple of summers working at his Uncle Lou’s linen service.
Given the importance of Mr. Fuchs personal and professional contributions to our areas progress, the Daytona Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce named one of their most prestigious honors “The Lou Fuchs Leadership Award” – a prize which now appears on the political resume of every Old School Volusia County “mover and shaker” worth their salt.
In fact, the honor was so exclusive that recipients were nominated and selected solely at the suggestion of previous award winners.
Unfortunately, I guess Lou’s contributions to the halcyon days of the “World’s Most Famous Beach” just don’t measure up to those of our current nobility – who have successfully built a “New Daytona” in the piney woods west of I-95 – then collectively turned their backs while the rest of our once vibrant community, including our beleaguered beachside, decomposes into dilapidated oblivion. . .
In keeping with their obsequious trend of renaming awards after our present crop of uber-wealthy overseers – it was announced this week that the Chamber has callously shit on the revered memory of Lou Fuchs – and will now refer to the honor as “The Glenn Ritchey Leadership Award.”
What happened to honoring Mr. Fuchs’ dedication and contributions?
Hell, what happened to the common human emotion of shame?
The Chamber’s unabashed brown-nosing follows closely on the heels of their equally boot-licking move to rename the annual “Enterprise Award” after the current King of Kings J. Hyatt Brown. . .
(Which, by the by, will be bestowed on the do-nothing, publicly funded Team Volusia at the Chamber’s elegant soiree later this month. . .you read that right.)
Damn. . .
Sorry, Lou. Your legacy is lost to whatever passes for our malleable and capricious history now.
In the end, I wonder how the Halifax area’s mutable historical record will remember this damnable period of our civic, social and economic existence – and the contributions of our current crop of Exalted Monarchs and their shameless “Pretensions of Greatness”?
Quote of the Week
“Deltona, where the trust of the commissioners and city manager was lost a long time ago, only added to that mistrust.
When I read the Opinion page (“Big News: It’s Amazon”) and it lists all the “obvious people” who were aware of what was going on, I just shook my head.
The residents were told: Non-Disclosure Agreement, we can’t say anything.
When you’re approving $2.5 million in incentives, the residents have a right to know a bit more than “We can’t say anything.”
The city’s DeltonaTV page posted “It’s all pretty exciting #amazon is coming to #deltona and the residents FAITH in City of Deltona, Florida has never been stronger.”
In my opinion the city missed a big opportunity to regain some of that FAITH and residents trust.”
–Dayle Whitman, Deltona, The Daytona Beach News-Journal Letters to the Editor, “Deltona’s Amazon secrecy strained trust,” Sunday, December 29, 2019
Well said, Dayle. Thank you for your important contributions to the betterment of Deltona and beyond.
Also, a Barker’s View tip o’ the hat to Mr. Andy Brachhold of Daytona Beach for mentioning this humble blog in his recent News-Journal editorial, “Keep Beach Street unique and vibrant.”
Besides, anytime my name is evoked (without spitting on the ground in disgust) it apparently pisses off all the right people – that can’t be a bad thing. . .
And Another Thing!
Look, I get it.
And, I admire the effort.
Recently, it’s become increasingly clear that a few of our Halifax area aristocrats and their fawning minions are enlisting the help of others in the community to answer my hypercritical screeds on social media.
The typical response usually takes the form of reminding me that I “don’t speak for everyone,” and end with some tripe about “how dare you besmirch the altruistic efforts of the Great and Powerful J. Hyatt Brown to gift us nice things and elevate us from this foul and fetid wasteland.”
Then, they question what I’ve done in my life to better our community. . .
Unfortunately, my detractors – who always telegraph their intent by admitting they were “asked to comment” – seem to come from that segment of the population who still equate the quality of a person’s civic vision with the size of their bank account, and belittle my supporters with arrogant comments like, “I pay more taxes than most of you combined!,” then remind everyone of their former relevance and standing before they were hypnotized by daytime television. . .
Because they obviously don’t have a clue about current events, local politics or the innumerable problems brewing outside the guarded entrance to their tony gated community.
I suspect we’ll see more of this orchestrated resistance to my rambling thoughts and jaded opinions on the issues and newsmakers as our local governments – and those organizations and hangers-on who make their living suckling greedily at the public teat – egotistically succumb to the need to answer my rants.
Look, I live for the feud – so keep them coming.
Frankly, I enjoy the challenge – because it validates in my own inflated ego that Barker’s View is making a difference in the life and direction of our community – and I’m flattered that anything I could write would result in this much angst in the Ivory Tower of Power.
Maybe our “Rich & Powerful” should consider the source – then think long and hard about the source of this growing civic frustration.
Despite the incredible popularity of this site, I remain, quite simply, a half-drunk everyman – a star-crossed rube banging out my political vexations – then floating them out on the ether, hoping against hope to encourage a larger discussion in the community.
And, maybe it shouldn’t be so dreadfully easy for a few well-heeled insiders to use influence and backroom deals to force their myopic vision on everyone else?
I’m positive that our democratic system of governance works better with the open debate of competing ideas – an all-inclusive discussion that incorporates a variety of opinions into public policy design – a process which values the diverse input of all stakeholders, rather than succumb to the dictatorial edicts of a few.
In my view, at this dawn of a new decade, it is not the loquacious blathering of some ‘keyboard warrior’ like me that our wealthy overseers need to worry about as they frantically work to protect the status quo.
As I said in my New Year greeting earlier this week – it is the awakening that is slowly taking place across the breadth of Volusia County that threatens their grip on power – and, at the end of the day, our haughty ‘powers that be’ will have no one to blame but themselves.
In my view, the thousands of independent thinkers who read these posts every month – who share these views throughout the community, form their own opinions, then vote their conscience at the ballot box – will ultimately return power to We, The People and set a bold new course for inclusion, fiscal responsibility and equality in local governance.
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend – and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year – everyone!