The Debacle in DeBary Continues

As long-time readers of this blog will remember, I cut my editorial teeth on The Debacle in DeBary, a strange time when – with the help of City Hall – developers made a stealth move on sensitive land known as the Gemini Springs Annex.

It was a clumsy attempt to set the stage for a ‘transportation-oriented’ development near the SunRail station – except the sleazy nature of the city’s behind-the-scenes involvement with a dubious environmental engineer with influence at the St. John’s Water Management District shocked the conscience of many in the small community.

Then, in the worst of small town theater, the former City Manager – in my view, a misogynistic shitheel with the ethics of a broke-back snake – along with several mewling bureaucrats set about unseating a duly elected mayor over a few opinionated Tweets and Facebook posts they claimed violated the malleable municipal charter.

The remainder of the City Council took on the role of judge, jury and executioner – while a few entrenched bureaucrats painted themselves as pseudo-victims during an illegitimate Kangaroo Kourt that ultimately cashiered former Mayor Clint Johnson – and ignored the will of the people who cast their sacred vote – turning what was once a representative democracy into an internal popularity contest.

In my view, this entire debacle was a failure of the unfortunate city attorney, Kurt Ardaman, who has made so many expensive and blatantly stupid mistakes in his representation of the City of DeBary that he should be drummed out for quackery.

It appears his stock in trade remains funneling legal work to outside attorneys under the guise of the latest civic melodrama to grip the community – and he has been the common denominator in every shit-storm to befall the citizens of DeBary.

Shameless.

Now, yet another elected official has fallen victim to DeBary’s weird brand of politics.

According to a report in the West Volusia Beacon, on July 1 the City Council will hold a “hearing” to determine the fate of Councilman Stephen Bacon on charges he violated the charter when he, “…improperly ordered City Clerk Annette Hatch to include some material in the minutes of a recent meeting.”

As I understand it, when Bacon attempted to hand Hatch some papers in her office – his speaking notes from a May meeting – she refused to accept them, saying, “she didn’t need them.”

A brusk interoffice tête-à-tête ensued.

Apparently, that exchange was followed by a spat between Mr. Bacon and the emotionally fragile City Records Manager Erick Frankton (who was a key player in Johnson’s removal) who demanded that a sitting elected official “apologize” to Clerk Hatch, and things went south from there.

In turn, City Manager Carmen Rosamonda “investigated” the incident and naturally supported Hatch’s view of things – then banned the duly elected Bacon from accessing any non-public area of DeBary City Hall.

Really? 

Look, Commissioner Bacon has a history of being something of a sharp-elbowed, acerbic asshole – and this is not the first time he has been accused of overstepping his bounds.

According to reports, in 2018, Finance Director Liz Bauer “…had complained about an unwanted conversation about religion Bacon had initiated with her at City Hall. Frankton related Bacon had asked him to look at or fix a computer that was his personal property, not city-issued equipment.”

That resulted in official censor by his “colleagues,” who ordered Bacon not to give orders to city employees.

As I have said before:

At the end of the day, Stephen Bacon – love him or hate him – is a duly elected representative of the people of the City of DeBary, and, in my view, the will of the people is omnipotent.

Florida law has specific provisions for the formal removal of an elected municipal official.

The statute sets out a precise process that requires the collection of verifiable signatures on a specifically crafted petition, which both names the official and explains the reasons supporting a recall election.

It also provides for due process and judicial review; and the setting of a special election by the chief judge of the judicial circuit in which the recall petition is filed.

The law says nothing about railroading an elected official out-of-office because he hurt the feelings of a couple of mid-level bureaucrats.

Never underestimate the creepy factor in DeBary politics.

I don’t know about you, but this all-to-frequent practice doesn’t smell right to me.

Never has.

Commissioner Bacon might be a pompous politician with a caustic personality – but the people of DeBary elected him to represent their interests – and if they don’t like the manner in which he governs, they can toss his haughty ass onto the ash heap should he stand for reelection.

My hope is the good citizens of DeBary will eventually come to the realization that their sacred vote has become meaningless in an environment where bureaucrats with no political accountability can throw up their hands and theatrically shriek “I cannot work in this environment!” – setting the stage for an equally unaccountable city manager to orchestrate the removal of a sitting elected official who oversees his position.

In my view, if you care about good governance in your own community, you should care about good governance everywhere – and these convenient Tiny Town coup d’états must stop.

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “The Debacle in DeBary Continues

  1. Honestly, IDK anything about Debary politics; however, we’ve had our fair share in Ormond & it “smells” the same – it STINKS. I agree 100% with you – the will of the people is omnipotent – if only the people we elected into the office would see that!! VOTE IN NOVEMBER!!!

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  2. Jesus, Mark! And yet you would generally like the Mayor. She is a real no nonsense gal. I adore her. But this! Steven is a looney tune. But he was rightfully elected.

    Pat Northey. It’s about learning to dance in the rain! Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  3. Well I’ll say this ….the velveeta Voldemort in the nations capital does the same shit every day on Twitter and that BIG ol healing pile of dog shit has rolled downhill all the way the DeBary, FLORIDUH. Just sayin.

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  4. I was born and raised in Central Florida. With people like the DeBary City council having control over our environment there soon won’t be anything left. I haven’t heard a Quail sing since I was a kid. The last place where i recently heard one is right where the apartment monstrosity now sits. Say goodbye to wildlife…

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    1. I agree with Rudy on this one. I’ve lived here in DeBary for 55 years and I’ve watched every city commission screw over the residents ever since we became incorporated. Both residents and non-residents that believe that they can change what was built and designed to be a bedroom retirement community into the next Winter Park.
      Let’s spend tens of thousands of dollars to “beautify” 17-92 with classic street lights and large concrete flowerpots filled with dead plants and weeds. Or how about we give away Lake Conomac , that we were collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes for, so that the land can be re-zoned to R-1 and we can sell it to developers that want to fill it with homes that will flood out every time the summer rains start and plop down roads in a swamp where a road bed cannot be constructed. And of course, we simply could not allow the free $$ from the state to create a TOD around a train station that provides 1960’s style transportation to places no one wants to go, slip through our hands. And then we can try and create low income housing dead in the middle of the city with the highest residential real estate value in the county. And of course, the developers will not have to be held accountable for the hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide and maintain the required infrastructure to support their swampland blunder.
      And of course there’s the never ending “temporary” taxing to pay for the flood control fiasco. Drain and pump the water from the northern part of the city from lake to lake across the center of town and dump it back into the St Johns River at the south end of town, so the river that flows north can bring it back. It destroyed many of the lakes around which DeBary was built and hasn’t solved the flooding. So I guess we’ll just keep paying tens of thousands of dollars a month of our hard earned tax dollars to keep running those lovely pumps during the rainy season.
      Wildlife and the ecosystem be damned, we need to grow and expand and get more and more taxable structures and land that we can pump out the swamp and develop. I’ve seen lake Monroe completely flood over 17-92 from Dirksen drive to First Street in Sanford, so the city had better pray that we never wind up on the Northeast quadrant of a cat 5 Hurricane or damned near everything constructed in the past 20 or so years will be underwater.

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  5. The removal of Johnson was appalling, but it does not appear that he raised the right arguments during the process. The good news is that he is unlikely to be missed.

    And it may be the same with Bacon. No doubt he is less fun than the Looney Tunes I remember from my youth, but he did somehow get elected. Removal should be a drastic remedy reserved for cases more extreme than this.

    The only occasion I have heard from DeBary whichmight have justified some removals were the Golden-Gestner grant-writing scandal. And, of course, city atty Ardaman recommending bribes to a SJRWMD member and hiring his partner as a consultant. The elected officials involved in these things might well have been removed, and probably should have been tarred and feathered.

    But someone saying to incljude stuff in the minutes? Well, I cannot see that as viable grounds for removal. The good news is that, like Johnson before him, Bacon is unlikely to be missed.

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