“If officials listen, people will talk”
“Residents question if city is listening”
“Residents raise concerns over growth”
“Mayor gets earful at community meeting”
“Since the Fall of 2006, more than 1,800 citizens, residents, persons with a place of employment, business owners or full-time students in Daytona Beach have actively participated in public visioning meetings”
“Panel set for News-Journal meeting focused on homeless”
“A meeting at the Ocean Center on Tuesday night drew a standing room only crowd of local residents who discussed the challenges and opportunities on Daytona Beach’s Main Street”
“Passionate Debate: Meeting on Daytona’s beachside draws large crowd”
“Consider this your personal invitation to attend a “town hall” meeting focused on Daytona Beach’s core beachside area”
“Blighted Corridor: Daytona’s East ISB is broken. Can $25.75M fix it?”
“Daytona readers speak up at ‘Coffee with the News-Journal”
“PAT RICE: Coffee‘s on. Let‘s talk East ISB, Daytona’s beachside”
Is it just me, or does anyone else see a pattern here?
On Sunday, the editor of The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Pat Rice, announced that the newspaper will be hosting yet another community coffee klatch to discuss the malignant blight and dilapidation that has all but consumed East ISB and much of our languishing beachside.
According to Mr. Rice, “The lack of progress is discouraging. But things won’t change without dialogue and ideas.”
It doesn’t appear to those paying attention that much changes with dialogue and ideas, either. . .
They say the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.”
In Volusia County, we call that process “developing a strategic vision.”
While I admire the News-Journal’s persistence in attempting to stimulate a continuing dialog – the fact is, we’ve talked these specific issues to death – and there is still no substantive plan for turning the dismal tide and revitalizing our core tourist area and beyond.
In my view, the time for idle talk has come and gone.
Now, it is time for direct action at the ballot box.
The fact is, We, The People, have talked about the myriad problems on the beachside until we’re blue in the face.
Unless and until those we have elected and appointed to represent our interests actually listen to our concerns – all the “Town Hall” meetings and neighborhood coffees the News-Journal can muster will remain little more than hot air generators for citizens who have been marginalized and ignored by their own representatives.
For example, a year ago, some 75 people attended a meeting at the Peninsula Club where they “vehemently opposed” the construction of a roundabout at East ISB and A-1-A.
Then, last month, residents and business owners were told the Florida Department of Transportation would hold a meeting to provide information and solicit input on the very roundabout we resisted since it was a mere suggestion – only to have the session cancelled when it conflicted with the Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual soiree for our social and civic elite. . .
That meeting has been moved to late March when it’s more convenient for politicians who won’t attend it anyway. . .
Still, the problem remains – residents talk, commiserate, provide input, discuss, debate, argue, question, deliberate, weigh options, reflect, ponder and plan – but our fervent desire to be part of the solution, and have our concerns taken seriously, is invariably ignored by the decision-makers.
Why is it that you never see a widespread turnout of those we have elected and appointed to serve our interests at these “visioning sessions,” Town Hall meetings and coffee talks?
The fact is, they just don’t give a damn what you and I have to say – and it shows.
While East ISB – the gateway to what was once the World’s Most Famous Beach – continues to crumble, and we learn it will be at least three-years until the promised revitalization project gets underway, millions are being spent on a weird rework of the perfectly serviceable and eye-catching streetscape in Downtown Daytona. . .
Because His Exalted Highness J. Hyatt Brown recently lorded over his bought-and-paid-for minions at a Daytona Beach City Commission meeting and demanded it, that’s why.
In fact, he cruelly threatened to remove a children’s splash park from the Brown Esplanade if anyone had the audacity to cross him.
They didn’t. . .
In turn, last week, the City of Daytona Beach spent some $100,000 to move the historic (if not itinerant) Josie Rogers House from its spot across Beach Street from the Brown & Brown headquarters to the western end of the Main Street Bridge.
We are told the move was necessary to make way for renovations to Riverside Park – which is being hailed as the Crown Jewel of Hyattona – something Daytona Beach taxpayers will be responsible for maintaining for the next 50-years – all while our core tourist area continues to openly decompose.
(Besides, you can’t have some claptrap house in view whenever Hyatt paces the gilded ramparts of his glass and steel monument and settles his gaze across the width and breadth of his kingdom, right?)
Whatever. . .
Talk is cheap.
So is beachside real estate, once you let it rot into a decrepit hole of blight and dilapidation.
Perhaps that’s been the plan all along, eh?
The News-Journal’s meeting is set for 7:30 to 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, February 25, at Henry’s Pizza, 336 East ISB, Daytona Beach.
Normally, you won’t find an elected official within a mile of any event where their constituents might voice their views – or, God forbid – ask the difficult questions about how we got to this dismal place in our history. . .
However, this is an election year – so, I’ll bet you won’t be able to swing a dead cat inside that pizzeria without hitting a sitting politician who is busy shaking your hand, slapping your back and begging for one more bite at this rotten apple.
Hey, never hurts to talk, right?
Unfortunately, when it comes to fundamentally changing the beachside’s death spiral, rescuing our imperiled hospitality industry and protecting our very quality of life – voicing our concerns doesn’t seem to help, either. . .
Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal
Join Barker’s View this afternoon on Gov Stuff Live with Big John! beginning at 4:00pm.
Please tune in locally at 1380am “The CAT” – or on the web at www.govstuff.org (Listen Live button).
I’ll also be streaming the forum live at: https://www.facebook.com/mdbarker1
We’ll be talking the issues of the day and taking your calls at 386-523-1380 – I hope you’ll join us for the Fastest two-hours in Radio!