On Volusia: History Repeating

“…politicians don’t beg for money; they sell a service: namely, use of government’s coercive power to achieve for interest groups what these groups cannot or will not achieve peacefully on the market. A politician seeking office gets his funds by begging no more than an accountant or an architect gets his funds by begging. Like the accountant and architect, the politician offers a quid pro quo in exchange for campaign contributions. The difference, of course, is that the quid pro quo supplied by the accountant or architect—unlike that supplied by most politicians—isn’t a promise to reduce the liberties or confiscate the wealth of innocent third parties.”

–Dr. Donald J. Boudreaux, a senior fellow with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.  Boudreaux is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.

They say money can’t buy happiness.

But, in Volusia County, it can buy an election for those candidates who have been hand-selected by uber-wealthy oligarchs intent on preserving the status quo, ensuring the slimy transactional politics that continue to shunt public funds to the for-profit projects of those who manipulate the process with massive campaign contributions.

Don’t take my word for it.

I encourage everyone to review campaign finance reports and see which candidates for public office in Volusia County are being groomed by big money developers, insurance executives, government contractors and others to ensure the public teat remains patent.

You can find those reports here: https://tinyurl.com/yc36vnj2

Once you identify the names – and  the corporations under their control (check the addresses) – research the direct link from those individuals and industries to the handouts, tax abatements, corporate welfare schemes, and “public/private partnerships” that use public funds to underwrite private projects for all the right last names.

I think you will be surprised by the similarities. . .

In Volusia’s County Chair race, the always arrogant perennial politician Councilwoman Deb Denys is facing off against Deleon Springs farmer Jeff “Plan B” Brower for the catbird seat.

Of course, some no-name has thrown his hat in the ring to muddy the waters – but many political prognosticators believe Jeff is poised to pull off an upset à la former Chairman Jason Davis in 2012.

I sure hope they’re right.

At last check, “Dishonest Deb” has accumulated a massive campaign war chest totaling over $104,000 (for a county chair race?) bequeathed by our wealthy overseers who have historically swayed elections by ensuring their handmaidens have the wherewithal to get their smiling visage on glossy mailers, television advertisements, and billboards – as their outspent opponents slog door-to-door in sweat soaked shoes trying desperately to make that all important physical connection with voters in a time of social distancing.

Clearly, the livestock auction that marks the start of the campaign season here on the Fun Coast is in full swing. . .

For instance, in the District 4 race, on just one day in June, political newcomer Barbara Bonarrigo – who is facing incumbent Councilwoman Heather Post – accepted some $10,000 from entities controlled by our High Panjandrum of Political Power Mori Hosseini and his ICI Homes empire.

Then, just days later, Ms. Bonarrigo hauled in $10,000 from Beat Khali, the Orlando-based developer who, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, is “proceeding full-speed ahead” with his Avalon Park Daytona – a gigantic project that will put some 10,000 new homes and over one-million square feet of commercial space adjacent to the malignant sprawl of Latitude Margaritaville and Mori’s Mosaic, near the southwest border of Ormond Beach.

Interestingly, when I went to Ms. Bonarrigo’s webpage (www.barbarabonarrigo.com) to learn more about her message, platform and vision for Volusia County – the only thing I found was a “Donate” button. . .

While Ms. Bonarrigo may not know squat about the topical issues facing Volusia County residents – she’s clearly mastered the act of wielding the political begging bowl – and, in this environment where winners and losers are picked well before a vote is ever cast, perhaps that’s enough. . .

Currently, Ms. Bonarrigo has accumulated some $60,000 from Volusia’s “Rich & Powerful” – while Ms. Post has garnered just $22,000 in contributions – most coming from individual donors contributing less than $100.00 each.

Anyone else see a pattern here?

Way back in 2017, I opined that you don’t need an MBA from Harvard Business School to understand that only rubes invest large sums of money without expecting a return.

After all, the road to the poorhouse is paved with the bones of those who failed to properly calculate ROI – Return on Investment – and, in my view, that is exactly what these colossal campaign contributions represent.

Trust me, these well-heeled insiders have not become incredibly successful by shoving money down a rabbit hole expecting a bean stalk to rise to the heavens where the Golden Goose resides.

These are extraordinarily smart and savvy businessmen and women who are very skilled at building – and keeping – personal and corporate wealth.

In short, they understand that you don’t last long in business throwing good money after bad.

Now, I don’t have J. Hyatt Brown’s money – but when I spend what little I have – I expect something in return.

I’ll just bet when Mr. Brown throws around $1,000 campaign contributions from any of the many corporate entities and limited liability companies he controls – like Zambezi LLC or Swakopmund Inc. (which, I think, in the Oshiwambo dialect means “You get what you pay for”) – he expects a return on that investment as well.

Let’s face facts:  The local donor class make massive campaign contributions with the full knowledge that their personal, civic, and professional interests will outweigh those of John Q. Public every damn time.

In the end, deferential treatment and immediate attention by their boot-licking sycophants on the dais of power is what they consider an appropriate return on money spent – and given the astronomical amount of “economic incentives” that our elected officials have showered upon this exclusive group in recent years – I would have to say they’ve done extremely well on the risk/reward scale.

Is what we experience in Volusia County quid pro quo corruption – something for something, give and take, tit for tat, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, one hand washes the other, an IOU?

I don’t know.

But it has a whiff of the shit about it – and it is painfully clear that our horribly broken campaign finance system must be overhauled if we ever hope to break this insidious cycle.

Don’t hold your breath. . .

What I do know is that when these very same powerful insiders appear – individually or en masse – in the Volusia County Council Chambers, invariably – and I mean 100% of the time – the issue, project, or development they support is obsequiously handed to them on a gilded platter – while you and I are treated like something they don’t want to step in.

Now, I may be crazy, but I’m not a fool.

And neither are you.

Why would a few influential power brokers spend a small fortune – tens-of-thousands of dollars – to support select candidates for local elective office?

Look, maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe everything is on the up-and-up – perhaps all is fair and bright here on Big Rock Candy mountain – after all, it is perfectly legal for individuals and the corporations under their control to make campaign donations to any candidate they want.

However, we – the voters of Volusia County – have the power to change this despicable and corrosive tradition at the ballot box.

If history is allowed to repeat, I fear We, The Little People, can expect (and deserve) more of the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “On Volusia: History Repeating

  1. Look back at the contributions in the District 4 Council race. It was one of the most expensive races in County history. Apparently Ms Post didn’t do very well because her ‘investors’ (as you call them) have abandoned her this time around.

    Also look at the District 3 race this year. If you’re a cynicyou could almost make the case that the Sheriff and his associates are trying to buy a seat on the council. The same candidate has also piled up home builder money and insurance money.

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  2. Nothing has changed and nothing ever will change. These politicians are at the mercy of these crooked bastards who continue to line their pockets with cash and other goodies to get what they want in spite of what is good for everyone. J (Jackass) H. Brown is is one of the biggest offenders and the slimiest of the bunch. People in this county don’t realize that the worst is yet to come and in the not so distant future this town will be a miserable place to call home.

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  3. I do believe every member of the Brown family as well as many of his holdings, each contributed $1000 to the Denys coffers. That speaks volumes to me. Combined with her realtor, automotive, paving and developer contributions ol’ Deb ought to have quite a war chest built come November. Jeff Brower needs the support of every one of us if we’re to take control of this corrupt council.

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  4. With a third guy in the contest this could be over in August if Deb gets 50% plus 1 vote. If you wait until November you could be too late.

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  5. “Quid pro quo corruption” – so true! I’ve seen it in Ormond Beach & County of Volusia – we’ve tried before & we’ll try again – I can only hope that with what has happened the people will vote correctly & more people will vote this year & we’ll win!

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