First, we were told the shutdown was about “flattening the curve.”
Now, it’s about “finding the cure.”
The goalpost keeps moving.
In my view, it is not about a virus anymore – it’s about the money. . .
Earlier this week, the Volusia County Council took steps to accept $96,543,792 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds – and applied for an additional $1,021,988 from the Florida Department of Transportation for Votran’s Gold Paratransit services – along with $21,218,428 in Federal Transit Administration CARES Act relief for our public transportation provider.
I found it interesting that the resolution supporting the application and acceptance of these funds doesn’t include a factual basis of need, a breakdown of how these funds will be spent, who will oversee and audit the allocation, etc. – only that Volusia County “has the authority” to apply.
Look, I’m mathematically illiterate, but by my ciphering that’s $118,784,208 and we’re not even through “Phase 1” of something called “Relaunch Volusia.”
Earlier this week, I tried to read the glossy supplement touting the Relaunch Volusia program – I felt it important to learn the intricacies of how county government plans to use this cascade of federal dollars to breathe life into our local economy – and get the thousands of area residents who have been financially devastated by draconian local, state and federal response protocols back to work.
I turned to page one – “A Message from the Volusia County Council” – which began:
“The Volusia County Council is working tirelessly during these extraordinary times to address the unprecedented challenges we face as County Government and as a community. We’ve enacted policies to protect the public and our employees and ensure that critical services continue with little or no interruption.”
Then, I retched into my wastebasket and poured three-fingers of Irish Whiskey in my coffee cup. . .
I just couldn’t stomach that load of tripe.
In my view, it is telling when an elected body puts their own dubious “contributions” above the hardship and sacrifice of those they serve – and any bureaucrat with two synapses still firing knows the pitfalls of openly whining about how “tirelessly” elected officials (who haven’t lost a dime in salary or benefits since this shit show started) are “working,” while those they were elected to serve are suffering mightily.
Perhaps those clueless dullards on the Volusia County Council should have flipped the text of their staff-contrived narrative, which ended with the glaring afterthought:
“We also would like to thank the public for its cooperation, understanding and patience. We are truly all in this together, and we will make it through together to a better tomorrow!”
From what I could gather, the remainder of the “Relaunch Volusia” plan contained loose metrics for reopening county government – you know, getting bureaucrats comfortably back in their cubicles – while creating more questions than answers on when you and I can expect our lives, businesses and livelihoods to return to whatever passes for “normal” in the aftermath of this debacle.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of the “we’re all in this together,” feel-good gibberish. . .
Because we’re not.
While Volusia County government takes delivery of some $119 million in federal aid, small businesses, hospitality workers, home-based enterprises, personal service professionals, etc., who have unfairly carried this lopsided response on their shoulders continue to suffer while waiting for benefits.
I recently saw a post on social media where a business-owner announced that the company she built with her own hands was closing permanently due to the financial pressures of the government-imposed shutdown.
Admittedly, I got emotional watching the now unemployed entrepreneur (who won’t qualify for assistance) explain how she was taking a “day for grieving” before deciding what comes next.
How terribly sad. . .
This week, during yet another “special” meeting, the Volusia County Council finally approved a program that applies a paltry $10 million – divided into $3,000 grants – to struggling small businesses who meet ever-changing government-mandated criteria and can “document” an economic loss of $3K or more – although a week ago we were warned that grant funds could not be used for lost wages or revenue – so, I guess the actual permitted use will remain a mystery for now.
If you think your small business qualifies, the first-come-first-served Thunderdome competition begins this morning at http://www.volusiabusinessresources.com
As I understand it, the current version of the program limits “assistance” – whatever that ultimately means – to just 3,300 small businesses out of the 12,000 currently struggling to do business in Volusia County.
I found it interesting that the same explanation of need and other documentary requirements don’t apply equally to the avalanche of federal dollars Volusia County is receiving now that county staffers have interpreted CARES Act guidelines to mean the funds can be used for just about anything creative bureaucrats can link to COVID-19. . .
Still think any of this is about us?
In my view, the needs of those who pay the bills and attempt to “communicate” our concerns to our elected representatives through email messages and video technology – artificial input that is openly dismissed as an annoyance as they legally flaunt the spirit of our open meeting law – are unimportant to our elected and appointed officials.
Apparently, so long as The Monarchy continues to greedily extend the “State of Emergency” every seven-days – anything goes.
Meanwhile, as Volusia County officials continue to stuff the coffers with federal funds – thousands of area residents continue to languish in breadlines, seeking sustenance for their hungry families, as many fall victim to a “recovery” that is proving to be just as disjointed as the “response.”
Incredibly, in last Sunday’s Daytona Beach News-Journal, we were clued-in to a recent study that proved, “…among the most affected are income-constrained families who face a greater risk for financial ruin.”
Apparently, those who are living at or below the poverty line are at greater risk of financial disaster that those “essentials” who have experienced little, if any, inconvenience over the past eight-weeks.
Who would’ve thunk it?
Not surprisingly, that “study” also found that some 72,519 households in Volusia County met the textbook definition of “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed” as of 2018, the last year data was available for review (say what?).
Collateral damage in the “war on an invisible enemy” that is proving incredibly lucrative for Volusia County government.
And don’t expect anyone currently in power to do anything about it – not so long as the bucket brigade of federal relief funds continues to consume our elected and appointed officials in the bunker at the “TCK” building in DeLand.
One thing remains clear – a self-serving bureaucracy will always take care of its own.