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.
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.
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.
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.