People often ask me why Volusia County politicians routinely insult the intelligence of their constituents and seem to live in an alternate universe separate from the rest of us – a fantasy land of falsehoods – where they fabricate a bogus narrative, then flog the storyline incessantly, in a vain attempt to make us believe things that simply aren’t true.
It’s a form of political “gaslighting,” where those who hold themselves out as a self-important “authority” use manipulation and misdirection to sew confusion and delegitimize our perception of reality.
Once you recognize the method and motivation, it’s easy to spot when elected officials are blowing smoke up your ass. . .
I keep a running list of these recurrent “trust issues” – and trot them out whenever talk turns to resurrecting the rotting corpse of the sales tax initiative that voters roundly defeated last year.
Since taxpayers shot down their bold money grab, Volusia County politicians – and their handlers over at the secret society of millionaires known as the CEO Business Alliance – keep trying to frighten us with tall tales of losing space related businesses because we don’t have the infrastructure in place to accommodate them.
At a November 2019 meeting of the Knights of the Round Table – a shadow government comprised of area mayors and managers that serves as a political insulation committee for difficult public policy decisions – the always arrogant Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys said with that sense of faux-urgency only a politician running for higher office can muster:
“We’re at a crossroads, Volusia County,” Denys continued. “If we get another Blue Origin or Space X (or other aerospace companies considering expanding to Volusia) and they need infrastructure, what’s your answer going to be?”
To bolster the narrative, last week, Team Volusia – that do-nothing “public/private partnership” which ostensibly exists to lure new business and industry to Volusia County – held their annual soiree at The Mori Hosseini Center at Daytona State College.
In years past, The Daytona Beach News-Journal has described Team Volusia’s elegant schmoozer as “big on enthusiasm, short on details” – and this year’s gathering of our stuffed-shirt politicians, their oligarchical handlers and that fawning coterie of “economic development” shills they bankroll with our money was no different.
This year, the keynote speaker was none other than Scott Henderson, Florida site selector for Blue Origin, the private commercial space company formed by Amazon’s Jeff Bazos.
During his speech, Mr. Henderson made the ambiguous comment that our assembled big shots had been waiting to hear – a mustard seed of vague hope that will be perpetuated by Councilwoman Denys, and everyone who makes their living telling people what they want to hear, throughout this years election cycle:
“We’re going to launch something from this county before it’s all said and done.”
And pandemonium ensued. . .
In fact, Volusia County Councilman Fred Lowry took to social media to toast the big announcement, “Attending Team Volusia Annual Dinner. Blue Origin in Volusia County!!!!”
While Ms. Denys touted her recent appointment to something called “Florida’s Space Caucus” (whatever the hell that is) – another nonsensical title only Tallahassee insiders could dream up. . .
Is it just me, or does anyone else see a recurrent theme here?
Look, maybe “when its all said and done” Blue Origin will be blasting rockets into space from Volusia County – sending missiles over your home and mine – fouling the sensitive estuaries of the Mosquito Lagoon and Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge with frightening regularity – getting “outside the fences, away from the federal bureaucracy,” (and prying eyes and federal environmental regulations, etc.) at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral (you know, where the launch pads are located? Where we’ve launched rockets since their inception?)
But it won’t be anytime soon.
And anyone who suggests differently is – for reasons that are becoming increasingly clear – manipulating the facts to meet their narrative.
You see, five years ago, back when “Project Panther” – another super-secret “economic development” sham which perpetuated the idea that the Shiloh area of Southeast Volusia was poised to become a “spaceport,” to include a rocket manufacturing plant near Oak Hill – then United States Senator and Freeloading Political Astronaut Bill Nelson said:
“I’m not going to sweet talk anything, I’m going to tell it like it is, Shiloh is not going to become a spaceport.”
He was right.
Now, in a front-page article by Clayton Park in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Deb Denys is quoted as saying, “The possibility of Volusia becoming home to a commercial rocket launch site “is always in play.”
Where? When? Why? How?
My God. How cruel?
Have you been to Brevard County lately?
Trust me. The Titusville, Coco Beach, Melbourne metroplex has enough vacant office buildings, strip centers, warehouse space and vacant land – the carnage left in the wake of the original space programs exodus – to house hundreds of aerospace, support and supply chain businesses, literally on the front porch of the launch complex. . .
While Ms. Denys continues this sham of attracting “commercial space jobs” – all while touting the need for a sales tax increase to pay for the infrastructure required to support it – the good citizens of Volusia County continue to suffer under the debilitating social, civic and economic issues that are ruining our quality of life – including our own growing local transportation issues, water availability, looming environmental catastrophes and overwhelmed utilities.
Yet, she breeds false hope for struggling families with fabrications of imminent space related jobs – and an almost pathological indifference to the real needs of her long-suffering constituents.
The reality is, while Ms. Denys wastes time in Washington and Tallahassee perpetuating this odd space fantasy and painting herself as a subject matter expert to bolster her campaign for County Chair on our dime – some 43% of the population here on the Fun Coast are unable to meet basic living expenses each month – while uber-wealthy insiders continue to enjoy an endless flow of public funds for private projects – as the affordable housing crisis continues, even as our sensitive natural places are paved over for yet another massive “luxury” community, etc., etc.
And that, friends and neighbors, is when superfluous, non-committal comments at a rubber chicken banquet becomes something more sinister.
Expect to see our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, spill more of this Buck Rogers bilge water during his annual “State of the County” hot air generator next month – when the same shim-sham artists gather to tell us all what they think we want to hear. . .
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of this orchestrated sleight-of-hand designed to divert attention from the pressing needs of Volusia County residents.
“When all is said and done” I hope voters will put a stop to this malicious farce while there’s still something worth worrying about.