The “truth” died in Volusia County a long time ago. . .
As much as I would like to throw up my hands and surrender – simply accept the dirty lies, carefully crafted misdirection and self-congratulatory horseshit of the campaign season – and finally admit that We, The People have been soundly defeated by Big Money and the forces of mediocrity – I can’t give up.
Not because I still hold naive hope of “bringing positive change” – but because too many important questions remain unanswered.
Deep-rooted mysteries that continue to have an adverse impact on our lives and livelihoods – the answers to which you will not learn at some “virtual” News-Journal debate where candidates for county office yammer through bland inquiries that explain nothing – that mean nothing.
The questions that trouble me each election cycle go deeper – like why is the always arrogant Councilwoman Dishonest Deb Denys’ campaign being financed by massive contributions from real estate developers and the insurance industry – and what do those who have invested heavily in her continued presence on the dais of power expect in return?
And why is Dishonest Deb openly misrepresenting her position on tax increases?
After serving as the point person for Volusia County’s money-grubbing push for a half-cent sales tax increase last year – during which she shamelessly terrified her constituents with scary stories of the collapse of our transportation infrastructure – screeching ominously that there was no “Plan B” – leaving the only option being taxing the eyeballs out of every man, woman and child in Volusia County.
Now, after the sales tax hike was soundly defeated during an incredibly expensive special mail-in election – Ms. Denys inexplicably attempts to reinvents herself as a fiscal conservative?
By the same reverse logic, Deb’s duplicitous, flip-flopping vote to give away even more of our beach driving would comport with her previous campaign promise to never close more of our most precious natural resource for the private benefit of developers – so that makes her an advocate for beach access? (Remember the video tape? I do.)
And why – with large sections of our county being clear-cut and consumed by malignant sprawl, unchecked growth that is threatening our sensitive environment, straining our drinking water supply, and overburdening our compromised roads and utilities infrastructure – should we give Dishonest Deb yet another bite at the apple while expecting a more responsible approach in the future?
How much longer are we expected to accept these bald-faced lies?
For example, after the Volusia Deputies Association bestowed their coveted endorsement on Jeff “Plan B” Brower – Dishonest Deb posted a list of every expenditure request of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office that came before the County Council since 2013 – insinuating that her legislatively required vote somehow demonstrates her “support of law enforcement.”
Ms. Deny’s shenanigans aside, the question that continues to torment me is:
In the history of Volusia County’s weird system of governance, has there ever been a sluggardly asshole more oppositional, argumentative, or openly hostile to his fellow elected officials – or constituents who seek input in their government – than our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley?
On Tuesday, I sat through the bulk of what passes for a Volusia County Council meeting – a continuing insult to Robert’s Rules of Order and the intelligence of taxpayers – a contrived tragicomedy that has been clearly orchestrated in advance to ensure that controversial issues are voted on and approved before members of the public can have any substantive input in the decision.
For instance, the published agenda contained some sixty consent items – ten of which were just added the Friday before. . .
To her credit, Councilwoman Heather Post asked that, in the future, the consent agenda be broken into more manageable bites to allow sufficient time for our elected officials to actually read (yeah, right) what they are voting to approve.
Unfortunately, Ms. Post’s request was overshadowed by Old Ed’s mean-spirited snapping and eye-rolling assholery that added even more confusion to the “discussion” – and the interminable meeting rolled on down the rutted trail with the usual dysfunction and inconsistency.
But it did not end there.
During her closing comments, Ms. Post brought forth very serious concerns about the accuracy of the public record – specifically as it relates to the council’s “follow-up list” – essentially an internal tracking mechanism for staff action taken on behalf of a council member’s request made during a meeting.
In short, during the May 12 meeting, Councilwoman Post suggested logical modifications to CARES Act funding which would open up mortgage assistance to a broader range of citizens in need – a damn good idea – and one that other elected officials obviously wanted to hitch their wagon to after the fact.
Disturbingly, when the follow-up list was posted – Ms. Post found that she was not credited with the suggestion.
Instead, her name was replaced with the term “Multiple CC Members.”
When she made inquiry, Councilwoman Post was told that “…lower staff said that they were told to change it by upper staff – upper staff advised “what did I want?” – could they put me and another council member on there?” with Post explaining that her concern was for an accurate public record – rather than demanding credit for the suggestion.
We later learned that the “other council member” was none other than Dishonest Deb Denys. . .
The follow-up list revelation earned Ms. Post a demeaning swipe from doddering Old Ed – you know, the “Champion of Decorum” – who pompously accused Post of grandstanding – even as he brazenly attempted to take the glory for the CARES Act mortgage relief change by suggesting he mentioned it ten-days before during a private meeting with George Recktenwald – then accused Post of beating him to it!
If Post’s allegations of falsification of the public record are proven true, that’s against the law – because fudging on seemingly insignificant documents leads to bigger frauds – and the practice erodes the public’s trust in their government.
If that is the way Volusia County government is being administered behind the scenes – with undue influence by sharp-elbowed elected officials with no qualms about ordering staff to change the public record for political purposes – then we have bigger problems than we know.
Frankly, these allegations should be investigated by outside authority.
They won’t be. . .but they should.
Then, in the waning minutes of her comments, Ms. Post had the incredible courage to do what I have never seen happen in the Volusia County Council chambers – ever – and suggest meaningful campaign finance reform.
You read that right.
During her remarks, Ms. Post boldly announced she has spoken with the county attorney’s staff regarding the possibility of adding a charter amendment to the November ballot limiting campaign contributions to ensure a fair and level playing field for all candidates – not just those “well connected” few (some of whom were sitting to her immediate right. . .)
A palpable silence fell over the council chambers – and you could almost hear Ms. Denys’ bowels locking up as she sat high atop that mountain of campaign cash – courtesy of Volusia County’s “movers & shakers.”
To her credit, Councilwoman Barb Girtman seconded Ms. Post’s motion to allow discussion – then spoke eloquently about her desire to open elective public office to everyone.
Then, Ms. Post’s “colleagues” masterfully turned things around – the old Volusia switcheroo – cravenly suggesting that the current system, which has all the earmarks of a legalized quid pro quo scheme, actually ensures that incumbent candidates do not enjoy an unfair advantage.
Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the archived video.
At 7:09:22, you will be treated to Councilwoman Denys hemming-and-hawing her way through something that sounded a lot like Otter’s speech in Animal House – couching the debate as a patriotic “First Amendment issue.”
The only thing Deb didn’t do is lead her colleagues off the dais while humming the Star-Spangled Banner. . .
Painfully, Ms. Denys stumbled and fumbled through an essay by the Institute for Justice – a libertarian law firm which opposes even reasonable campaign finance regulations on free speech grounds – while ignoring the corrosive influence of big money on local races where individuals and industries out bid John Q. Public for the loyalty of their elected officials every damn time.
The reaction of the majority was embarrassing – a telling aperçu – which exposed the true mindset of those on the dais of power who have proven they are willing to ham-handedly slug through the mechanics of government – waiting patiently until they are needed by their uber-wealthy overseers – then used like dull tools as a means to an end.
Folks, I hate to give advice, but this abject idiocy cannot continue.
If you care about the future of Volusia County – the horrific legacy we are leaving for our children and grandchildren – then I ask that you cast your sacred vote for Jeff Brower as our next County Chair.
It is time that we stop accepting this “more of the same” philosophy that has our highest elected office serving as a common shill for big money influencers intent on maintaining the patency of the public tit – and bring commonsense, responsiveness, and the spirit of public collaboration back to Volusia County government.