It’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way.
Let’s look at who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was.
Angel Daytona Beach Deputy Chief Jakari Young
Daytona Beach Deputy Police Chief Jakari Young is a good man.
He is also one of the most talented and accomplished young law enforcement commanders in the nation.
Deputy Chief Young came to Daytona Beach from South Florida to attend Bethune-Cookman University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration.
In 2001, he joined the Daytona Beach Police Department as a patrol officer before becoming an investigator, later serving as a SWAT officer, then holding operational and leadership roles in virtually every area of the agency, including valuable experience as a sergeant and internal affairs investigator before earning promotion to lieutenant in 2012.
In addition, Deputy Chief Young is a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy at Quantico, Virginia, the Southern Police Institute, and the FDLE Florida Leadership Academy.
If I may put on my tattered “former police chief” hat for a minute, during three-decades of service in law enforcement, I encountered a few men and women who were true servant-leaders in the classic sense, who not only led and inspired others by example, but excelled at their own desk as well.
And you never find these standouts feathering their own nests or currying political favor for self-promotion.
They earn the trust and confidence of others through their own merit and accomplishments.
In my view, Deputy Chief Jakari Young epitomizes these important leadership traits.
At the end of the year, Chief Craig Capri will enter retirement following a stellar career with the City of Daytona Beach – a 31-year legacy of service, in the finest traditions of the law enforcement profession, something he can be extremely proud of.
In 2017, Chief Capri recognized Deputy Chief Young’s incredible contribution potential and rightfully tapped him as second-in-command of the agency – and the pair have made a formidable team when addressing the challenges facing the community – undaunted, strong, and united.
Any honest police executive will tell you the importance of their command staff to the success of the organization – and, under Chief Capri’s exceptional leadership – the Daytona Beach Police Department has set the example as a values-oriented, community-based law enforcement agency that works hand-in-hand with residents and stakeholders.
As a result of his outstanding performance and extraordinary credentials, it has long been expected that Deputy Chief Young would naturally ascend to the helm when Chief Capri retires.
That’s why I found it unfortunate that Mayor Derrick Henry, his sister, Commissioner Dannette Henry, and Commissioner Paula Reed joined civic activists and NAACP President Cynthia Slater in diminishing Deputy Chief Young’s outstanding record of service to the citizens of Daytona Beach by introducing race into the discussion.
In a recent article by Eileen Zaffiro-Kean in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Daytona’s Top Cop: Who’s next?,” rather than simply support Young’s candidacy, Mayor Henry and the others appeared to be forcing lame duck City Manager Jim Chisholm’s hand – complete with Ms. Slater’s saber-rattling – and threats of legal action by Hemis Ivey, a former Midtown Redevelopment Board member.
In my view, it created a tempest that didn’t need to be.
Conversely, I also found it disingenuous when Mr. Chisholm said he, “…hadn’t even thought about how he was going to handle Capri’s departure until City Commissioner Dannette Henry asked him about it on June 16.”
“I like Jakari,” the city manager said. “I think he’s been a good police officer for us, and a good deputy chief. But I haven’t looked at him in a different light yet.”
“I haven’t even begun to evaluate if Jakari or anyone else over there is capable of doing it,” he said last week.”
In my view, it is incomprehensible that Mr. Chisholm has not yet recognized the inherent benefit and potential of a proven asset like Jakari Young with just six-months before Chief Capri departs.
Law enforcement leaders who possess Jakari’s education, experience, and achievement do not come around often – and Chisholm should be actively cultivating him for promotion – ensuring that he does not pursue other opportunities before Chief Capri’s retirement.
In my experience, there is an intrinsic value to promoting from within whenever possible – it gives credibility to the concept of “career development” – and is a true boost to the morale of an agency when officers know that with hard work, dedication and commitment to the community they can aspire to the top spot.
To his credit, Deputy Chief Young addressed the issue with incredible class on Sunday evening:
“I chose not to comment on this but after reading the article I regret that decision. Whoever chooses to support me in becoming DBPD’s next Chief, do so based solely on my resume and years of experience. Not the color of my skin.”
Powerful. And a testament to the depth of Jakari Young’s character.
When I was appointed Chief of Police in the City of Holly Hill, the city manager at the time was an experienced hand and dedicated civil servant who recognized the importance of stability.
So, when my former chief left for another job – rather than drag out the process and allow the guessing game of politics to take hold – then City Manager Tim Harbuck quickly appointed me to the role as the natural internal progression.
To his credit, Mr. Harbuck told me he would not belittle my years of service by forcing me to compete against outside candidates – and he would not disrupt the department by taking applications from within.
That let me know I had his confidence – and it reinforced my commitment to the community.
No drama. No speculation. No discontinuity.
That’s what decisive leadership looks like.
My sincere hope is that Daytona Beach officials will recognize the importance of this accomplished resource to the future of the community – ensure stability by foregoing an expensive “national search to see what’s out there” – and give Deputy Chief Young the respect and consideration he deserves.
In my view, Mr. Chisholm should stop the corrosive conjecture and make it clear that Jakari Young will serve as the next Chief of Police for the City of Daytona Beach.
It’s the right thing to do.
As Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood so eloquently explained in a recent News-Journal Community Voices column:
“The Daytona Beach Police Department has made huge strides under the leadership of Chief Craig Capri. All of us in Volusia County owe Chief Capri our sincere appreciation for a job well done as he moves on to the next chapter in his life. While his retirement is a loss for the City of Daytona Beach, it’s also an opportunity to select another outstanding police chief who will lead the department into its next successful chapter. Jakari Young is the transformational leader to do that.”
Asshole Volusia County School Board
The opposite of schadenfreude – deriving pleasure from another person’s misfortune – is called fremdscham, or “vicarious embarrassment syndrome.”
People who experience this condition tend to feel a sense of red-faced mortification over someone else’s mistakes and calamities.
Those who know me well will tell you it takes a lot to embarrass me.
I live for the thrill of offending people – an impetuous asshole who finds great humor in making others feel uncomfortable with my slovenly ways.
But there is no denying it – this week I was brought to my knees with a horrible case of sudden onset fremdscham when I learned of the latest blooper to befall Volusia County District Schools.
I was gripped to my core with stunning, toe-curling, vicarious embarrassment for the vainglorious literati of the “Superintendent’s Cabinet” who just cannot seem to get it together.
My God. I blush just thinking about it. . .
Let’s face it, this utterly dysfunctional bureaucracy has suffered a shit-train of gaucheries – a series of Five Alarm Foul-ups that have eroded the public trust and left families, students, and staff in a near constant state of chaos and confusion – something akin to a bad slapstick comedy on loop.
Earlier this week, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported on yet another colossal blunder when the much anticipated school reopening strategies were prematurely posted on the district’s official website last Friday evening – allowed to fester overnight – then abruptly removed from the site by 10:00am Saturday morning.
The teacher’s union immediately got their knickers in a twist, justly claiming they were “blindsided” by options they had not yet discussed or signed off on.
Look, this wouldn’t be the first time Volusia County Schools dispersed important information on a Friday evening – so, many parents took the information as coming from the burning bush in DeLand.
Because it did.
I’m sure anxious nerves were salved when district mouthpiece Kelly Schulz explained to News-Journal education reporter Cassidy Alexander, “It was a flat-out, honest mistake.”
No shit, Shultz. . .
But how many of these “honest mistakes” are Volusia County taxpayers expected to endure?
More chaos. More confusion.
Unfortunately, the district’s knee-slapping gaffes did not end there. . .
Inexplicably, on Tuesday, we learned that a weird COVID-19 “liability waiver” that had been “inadvertently” sent to some Volusia County coaches and student athletes – essentially holding the district harmless if either student or staff contracted coronavirus during an “extracurricular activity” – was recently recalled by the district’s legal counsel.
Naturally, the nature of the district’s abdication left many families concerned about the safety of kids participating in sports – and caused them to question the advisability of reopening schools at all.
As I see it, the waiver – written in that strange legal-gibberish that keeps attorneys employed – asked students and coaches to essentially sign away their rights:
“I recognize that VCS cannot limit all potential sources of COVID-19 infection. By signing this agreement, I acknowledge that I alone have to determine the sufficiency of any safety protocols, rules or precautions that I decide to take to minimize the risks of participating in (extracurricular activities).”
Now, recently appointed general counsel Kevin Pendley claims the district has “withdrawn these requests, and does not intend to rely on the waiver in the future.”
Then why in hell were the disclaimers released in the first place?
More Chaos. More confusion. . .
On Wednesday, the School Board met to discuss three malleable options for reopening schools in August – traditional school, virtual learning and a new option that would have students interacting with a teacher via video chat.
According to Interim Superintendent Carmen Balgobin these strategies are not “set in stone,” and, with just one month to go, the plan remains “fluid.”
During the discussion, School Board member Ruben Colon attempted to illicit advice from Volusia Department of Health Administrator Patricia Boswell, asking the logical question – based upon the best public health information available to her – is it safe to reopen schools?
Of course, Ms. Boswell, the chief of Volusia County’s public health service, shirked any professional responsibility or moral obligation when she squirmed and explained that her bosses in Tallahassee demand a level of non-commitment that borders on malfeasance:
“We’ve been advised (by state officials) that our role here is to advise what we can do to make the environment in schools as safe as possible with COVID19,” she said. “It is not to make a decision on whether or not to open a school.”
My God. . .
In my view, given the level of fear and disorientation surrounding school reopening – with pressure mounting from all sides of the equation – it is time for someone to get a grip on the internal slip-ups, mistakes and administrative faux pas that continue to erode the public trust and add to the awkwardness and uncertainty at Volusia County Schools.
Perhaps it’s time for our elected officials on the School Board to get off their ass and identify the source(s) of the problem in the Ivory Tower of Power in DeLand, embrace the concept of accountability and responsibility, and take definitive steps to correct the maladministration that continues to beset Volusia County Schools.
This problem did not come about yesterday – base ineptitude in the district’s senior ranks goes back years – however, reopening schools during a pandemic is an unprecedented dynamic that requires strategic thought, clarity, and decisive action.
In my view, it is time for state and federal education authorities to back-off the “emergency mandates” and political posturing then allow local school boards the space to ensure safety and find what works for their district without arbitrary start dates and external pressure.
It is also time for the Volusia County School Board to quit feeling sorry for themselves – stop the hand-wringing and “Woe is me/Weight of the World” horseshit – and start making the tough decisions their elected positions demand.
Quote of the Week
“As they attested at the (FAITH affordable housing) rally, Volusia County Council members, Heather Post, Barbara Girtman, and Billie Wheeler already know the injustice that exists with a lack of affordable housing in their districts. Councilpersons, Post, Girtman, and Wheeler already know what is required of them by confirming their commitment to call for and find funding for a $7 million per year Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Unfortunately, they do not have the power to see this through without the support of other Council Members. Thus, I ask:
Council member Fred Lowry, you already know what is required of you – what say you to creating a more just community through an Affordable Housing Trust Fund?
Council member Ben Johnson, you already know what is required of you – what say you to preventing homelessness in Volusia through an Affordable Housing Trust Fund?
Council Member Deb Denys, you already know what is required of you – what say you to reducing the cost-burden of housing to tens of thousands in Volusia through an Affordable Housing Trust Fund?”
–Reverend Kathy Tew Rickey, co-chair of FAITH (Fighting Against Injustice Toward Harmony), writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Community Voices column, Sunday, July 12, 2020. She serves the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ormond Beach.
And Another Thing!
You can tell a lot about people by the choices they make.
Especially when the chips are down.
Typically, the decision-making strategies of individuals and organizations are governed by their “core principles,” qualities that are often defined as the fundamental truth that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior – a chain of reasoning that keeps some true to their moral compass when under stress – or in the hyper-competitive arena of the modern marketplace.
At one time, these principles held true in government as well, but not anymore.
Now, money controls access – and those who can pay to play are handsomely rewarded by the decisions of those elected officials they have bought and paid for through our campaign finance system.
Earlier this year, the coronavirus swept across our nation like a viral wildfire, and our ‘powers that be’ decided it best to essentially shut down our local, state, and national economy as a means to combat it – putting millions of workers on the street – and jeopardizing the viability of small businesses, many of which continue to shut their doors at an alarming rate.
During this downward spiral, in an exceptionally rare bipartisan agreement, Congress rapidly approved a $2 trillion coronavirus relief act which was signed by President Trump in late March.
Among other things, this safety net created the Paycheck Protection Program, a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll – with an assurance from the Small Business Administration that the loan would be forgiven “…if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses” – essentially turning the “loan” into a federal grant.
I know some local businesses who have utilized the PPP to ensure their very existence during these unprecedented times – and others who could have used the loan, but did not take advantage of it.
They didn’t want to place an increased burden on the program and potentially take away from others in our community who are relying on it to stay alive.
They felt that was the honorable thing to do.
Earlier this week, Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal wrote an interesting article entitled, “PPP loans help area businesses through pandemic.”
In his insightful piece, Mr. Harper explained that, during the early days of the pandemic, Florida lost some one-million jobs – and I know many more companies were left on the brink of collapse – making the PPP a true lifesaver for small businesses who are struggling to survive.
According to the report, “To get loans, businesses were required to certify they were in need of funding and couldn’t get it from another source.”
After touting the success stories of local businesses who have benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program to ensure payroll and retain employees – bartenders, waitstaff, hospitality workers, housekeepers, service industry professionals, etc. – Mr. Harper turned to the darker side of the PPP issue, something that shook me to my core:
“But some businesses associated with other powerful, elite business magnates in Daytona Beach did apply for and receive the loans. These include five businesses affiliated with Mori Hosseini, including ICI Homes Residential Holdings LLC. The businesses borrowed between $3 million and $7.7 million to help protect 354 jobs in real estate, development, golf course and property management.”
Now, I don’t care if Mr. Hosseini – or anyone else – takes advantage of a relief program to ensure continuity of operations and keep hundreds of our neighbors employed if that is the only option available – but when I see some of the very same corporate entities that are being buoyed by PPP loans handing over tens-of-thousands of dollars to the campaign accounts of hand-select candidates for public office – that rubs me wrong.
For instance, the limited liability company listed in Mr. Harper’s article – ICI Homes Residential Holdings, LLC – which, according to the report, “borrowed between $3 million and $7.7 million” in forgivable “loans” – has given thousands of dollars to candidates in county and municipal elections.
You read that right.
According to the intrepid civic activist Anne Ruby, in the City of Daytona Beach alone, Mr. Hosseini and his associated businesses are reported to have given $10,000 to incumbent candidates (as of June 26, 2020) – and Volusia County Council Chair candidate Dishonest Deb Denys has received some $10,000 from entities with the same address as Mr. Hossieni’s ICI Homes office on Beville Road in Daytona Beach.
That includes a $1,000 donation to the Denys camp from the PPP supported ICI Homes Residential Holdings, LLC. . .
I’m not condemning Mr. Hosseini for individually donating to candidates of his choice – he certainly has the right, and wherewithal, to spend his money as he sees fit.
However, I question whether it is right and fair for highly successful corporate entities under his control, like the politically active ICI Homes Residential Holdings, LLC, which is relying on millions of dollars in federal payroll protection loans – entities that were apparently required to “certify they were in need of funding and couldn’t get it from another source” – to hemorrhage thousands of dollars financially supporting political campaigns as a means of influencing the outcome of local races?
That doesn’t smell right to me.
Am I wrong?
I’m asking – because I don’t have the answer for any of it.
Perhaps anything goes in this foul year 2020, and rubes like me are just along for the ride. . .
Kudos to Mark Harper and The Daytona Beach News-Journal for having the courage to bring this disturbing and difficult topic to view – an issue that should shock the conscience of anyone trying to keep a small business afloat during these unprecedented times.
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend, y’all!