Requiem for a Lightweight

On Sunday afternoon, a politically astute friend called to say:

“Pat Rice just won the District 4 County Council race for Heather Post.”

That prognostication came after Mr. Rice’ recent column in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Post’s about-face on campaign contributions,” wherein he piled on with the likes of our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, the demonstrably dishonest Councilwoman Deb Denys, and the other poohbahs on the dais of power to slam Ms. Post for daring to raise the specter of campaign finance reform.

Frankly, Mr. Rice should have stayed out of the ring.

It was an unsophisticated attack.  But an attack, nonetheless.

And it demonstrated just how low the Volusia County triumvirate of Big Money donors, the malleable candidates they buy like cheap livestock through exorbitant campaign contributions, and the News-Journal – who always seems too close to the other two legs of the stool for comfort – will go to protect the status quo.

In 2016, Ms. Post, then a political newcomer, benefited from a bidding war between members of the well-heeled donor class during her race against Al Smith for the District 4 seat – a contest that saw over a half a million dollars in donations for a seat that pays some $43,000 a year.

Most telling, more than half of the $503,000 in campaign contributions to Post and Smith came from just six uber-wealthy political power brokers and corporate entities under their control.

According to research done in 2017 by former News-Journal investigative reporter Seth Robbins:

“…the largest contributions in the District 4 race came from companies and donations associated with George Anderson, developer of the Ocean Walk and a real estate investor; J. Hyatt Brown, chairman and chief executive officer of Brown & Brown Inc.; homebuilder Mori Hosseini, chairman and CEO of ICI Homes; Theresa Doan, whose beachside properties and investments include three Main Street bars; businesses affiliated with International Speedway Corp. and its president, John Saunders; and companies affiliated with Consolidated-Tomoka, a land holding company.”

Anyone care to guess why these individuals and industries would invest so heavily in a Volusia County Council seat?

Look, I haven’t always agreed with Heather Post – she voted with the majority on many issues I disagreed with – and continues to play the role of a self-promoting professional victim – something I think detracts from the many positive qualities that have endeared Ms. Post to her constituents.

I also watched as Ms. Post transitioned into a cagey politician – sometimes quibbling and arguing semantics with me on important issues – and shunning any News-Journal reporter who tried to get her take on an issue – relying instead on a canned social media presence (which she controls exclusively) to communicate with those she serves.

But, by and large, she has been her own person – holding firm to that which she felt was right – always personally accessible to her constituents and committed to helping wherever needed – even when it chafed her fellow council members.

It became apparent early in her term that Ms. Post would not be pigeonholed, or beaten into the round hole of political conformity, and her staunch resistance made her Ol Ed Kelley’s personal punching bag.

Time and again, Chairman Kelley took great delight in verbally pummeling Ms. Post – complete with his dramatic eye-rolling, deep sighs and other histrionic gestures – as Mr. Kelley obediently did as he was told and defended the status quo.

Unfortunately, Old Ed’s mean-spirited bullying transferred to many of Ms. Post’s “colleagues” on the dais of power – each of whom opportunistically landed a few blows of their own – or just willingly joined in with the dismissive shrugs and parliamentary blocking maneuvers which painted Post as an ineffectual nonconformist.

Then, during what passed for a Volusia County Council meeting earlier this month, Ms. Post had the courage to seek change to Volusia’s no-holds-barred campaign finance system which allows well-heeled political insiders to control the outcome of local elections with massive infusions of cash into the coffers of hand-select candidates.

In my view, campaign finance reform is the most pressing issue facing Volusia County – something I have been bellowing about like a wounded wildebeest for years. . .

I have no doubt Ms. Post knew the personal and political ramifications when she made the motion to put language on the November ballot that would limit the auction house spending and level the playing field for all candidates.

That is why it was no surprise to anyone paying attention that Mr. Rice would support his influential friends by painting Ms. Post’s suggestion as sour grapes – pointing out that Councilwoman Post didn’t kick when she was the recipient of similar largesse.

Then, someone Mr. Rice’s own size stepped into the ring. . .

On Sunday, Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood boldly wrote a social media post taking Mr. Rice to task for his attack on Heather Post – and decrying the fact that politically active companies linked to mega-donor Mori Hossieni are currently accepting federal funds under the Paycheck Protection Program, all while making large cash donations to Dishonest Deb Denys and other local political campaigns.

According to a subsequent post by Sheriff Chitwood – after he had the temerity to challenge the way things are – he was reminded by Pat Rice that he accepted some $8,000 from Mr. Hossieni and company during his 2016 campaign.

In his own inimitable style, Sheriff Chitwood responded, “That is absolutely true, and had I known then what I know now, I would have sent it straight back. Instead, I have repaid him ever since by calling out the pay-to-play political system he runs in Volusia County.”

Good for you, Sheriff!

Clearly, Mr. Rice was fighting outside his weight class.

And it is equally clear that Sheriff Chitwood will not be bullied – or compromised – by anyone.

Perhaps it’s time that Mr. Rice, and his chums in the Halifax areas social and civic elite, understand that those of us here in the ‘Real World’ have had our fill of mercenary politicians and those who seek to profit from massive investments in local political campaigns.

Welcome to the change Volusia County residents so richly deserve.

 

Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal

 

 

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Requiem for a Lightweight

  1. Mark, one of these days I will get you interested in the $1,000 campaign contributions going to certain 7th Circuit judges and judicial candidates from certain lawyers and their chiropractor clients involved in tens of thousands of PIP suits. Check current Circuit Judge Candidate Anna Handy’s campaign finance reports for an eye-opener. Look at how current County Judge Candidate Nora Hall started her campaign account. Call me sometime when you have a computer and a cup of coffee in front of you, and I’ll show you some interesting connections between an Ormond Dairy Queen, a dead Portuguese fighter pilot, Dan Newlin, and doctors of chiropractic, all $1,000 contributors to certain specific judicial campaigns since 2016.

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  2. This is not a first for Pat Rice going after Heather Post .He got on her for trying to get an extension for a guy who she claims was stalking her.As a former cop and has a husband who is a Volusia sheriff they both know of cop hate.Daytona News Journal had a circulation in 2015 of 59.000.As of Jan 2019 it was 29.000 and cant get non transparent Gannett to post new numbers.I lived in Palm Beach for 8 years with the PB POST a dem rag who has an editorial in the boring Pat Rice rag today.Chitwood is right on and I read his Facebook page for Covid numbers that are much better than the Journals.Beat Kahli wants a seventy five million dollar bond because he cant use impact fees to fix existing roads so his bond wll fix the LPGA bridge and he wants his impact fees to pay for the bond.He wants an overpass over Hand to his property.That overpass is in Ormond not Daytona.Beat Kahli wants to get water from Ormond and at a lower rate than I pay.I dont worry about Pat Rice as I pass his building on Nova and it looks abandoned .We need good local news on cable because the Daytona News Journal is a dead issue in the next two years.Dont forget all the tens of millions Tanger and One Daytona got from our tax money.Money talks.

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  3. I totally agree with you and wish I could’ve said the same thing so eloquently! WE HEED CHANGE! We have a great opportunity here to vote these bags of greed OUT! Thank you for your insight and not backing down from calling out these pawns of the wealthy!

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  4. Mark,
    Your right about Rice…but Heather Post, not so much.
    Sorry, I just can’t get past her hypocrisy…she loses the support of big donors, THEN she finds the courage to lash out at the system! And the picture she used of her standing in the pulpit to promote national prayer day that she took during a septic to sewer neighborhood meeting, a program that she denounced for votes, even though it would be good for our environment. Talk about a bait and switch!
    She is a shameless self promoter! Time for a change!

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    1. Do you know about the guy who was stalking her and the courts would not extend the stalking warrant even though he asked would it be ok to wear armour to council meetings .Judge would not extend the order.She is being used by the opposition and was a cop..Then Pat Rice makes another story about her.Please read the NY POST if you want to know the real news .Jerry Nadler said Portland and ANTIFA are a myth.Please use your brain when you vote.Guess you have no problem with Derrick Henry that Charlie Christ got rid of and then a plea deal and a bit of money to the courts and now a mayor.

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  5. Time for plan..
    B
    C
    D
    E
    F
    And this time.. NO RICE for anyone!
    He’s just another transplant wanna be trying to push his own liberal views of this is how we did it..
    From Whereverville!” He’s from!
    We have seen Clowns like this come n go for decades in Volusia. And they always, and sadly, leave a wake from their path, which usually needs correcting over time.
    Chitwood is the only one… I have seen make a true difference.. And is trusting..who came in, made change, kept his promises..and wasn’t tainted by the good ole boy east volusia honky tonk club of eliteist that have used politicians for puppets since I was born here!

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