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 Sheriff Michael Chitwood
I mentioned this in a widely read blog-post earlier this week, but it bears repeating.
In my view, campaign finance reform is the most pressing issue facing Volusia County – because, if done right, it can make elective public service more accessible, less about which influential individuals and industries can skew the playing field, and more about citizens having substantive input in their government.
Trust me. Even the mention of changing the status quo makes our ‘Rich & Powerful’ extremely uncomfortable.
I have no doubt Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post knew the personal and political ramifications when she made the motion to put a charter amendment on the November ballot that would limit the auction house bidding for influence and ensure reasonable fairness for all candidates – ensuring that our elections are no longer bought and paid for by wealthy insiders.
And it was no surprise to anyone paying attention that News-Journal editor Pat Rice would support his many prominent friends by painting Ms. Post’s suggestion as sour grapes in Sunday’s newspaper – pointing out that Councilwoman Post didn’t kick when she was the recipient of similar largesse in 2016 – a race that saw an obscene amount of money showered on both Post, and her opponent.
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.
Sheriff Chitwood said, in part:
“With so many businesses really struggling to pay the bills, it just doesn’t sit right with me that so much federal aid is given to someone who can afford to spend thousands on politicians.
That Payroll Protection Program wasn’t intended to keep politicians on their donors’ payroll.
These County Council members on the ballot are going to be deciding the future of development in Volusia County.
Does it sit right with you that they are so heavily funded by the biggest developer around?
Does it sit right with the News-Journal, or are they too cozy with Mori Hosseini’s establishment to call it out?
Almost 20% of Deb Denys’ campaign money is from Mori Hosseini. Same for Barbara Bonnarigo as she tries to unseat Heather Post. Hosseini is also throwing multiple donations at Billie Wheeler, totaling about 13 percent of her campaign account.
We know money in politics is a problem, but the solution is in our hands, as voters.
I’m looking for candidates who will serve the PEOPLE of Volusia County, not the Politically Savvy.”
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.
Then, earlier this week, Ms. Post responded to the News-Journal’s criticism in a letter to the editor entitled, “For constituents,” which read, in part:
“This election is much different, as noted in Pat’s column. Why is that? Typically, a popular incumbent enjoys a fundraising advantage over challengers.
The difference is that those large donors from my last campaign have discovered that I serve only my constituents and what is best for the residents of Volusia County, regardless of who donated to my campaign.
The difference is that several of my fellow council members are openly hostile to my expectations of transparency and service. The difference is that no one owns me. My obligation is to those who elected me.
Not only are many of those large donors and power-broker elected officials now supporting the challenger, they actively recruited her to run against me, in order to assure that they will have a more pliable “friend” sitting in the council chambers for them.
The people of Volusia County deserve representatives who serve them, who listen to their concerns, and vote to protect and support our residents.
I am proud to be that representative.”
Well said. And painfully accurate. . .
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.
Angel Mindy McLarnan, Ormond Beach
I have a soft spot in my heart (some would say on my head as well) for those who take a bold stand – who speak up when others won’t – and fight to preserve those things that enhance our quality of life.
I don’t know Ormond Beach resident Mindy McLarnan, we’ve never met, but I recall back in 2015 when she spoke out in a letter to the editor of the News-Journal regarding the ill-thought slaughter of nearly 300 black bears during a weekend “hunt” authorized by the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission – a state sponsored means of “managing” the bear population.
Now, I don’t have a problem with hunting – as a young man, I enjoyed getting out in the woods with friends on deer and dove hunts – a rich tradition that responsibly manages and conserves wildlife.
But the idea of paving over black bear habitat to make way for another damnable strip center, wood frame apartment complex or theme housing development, then destroying bears who have become desensitized to the trappings of human beings, wild animals with nowhere to go, didn’t seem sporting to me.
In fact, it was wrong – and, in my view, epitomized the arrogance of those who don’t give two-shits about preserving our natural places and sensitive ecosystems – choosing instead to profit from destroying habitat, then killing off what annoys them.
Now, Ms. McLarnan has established a petition on Change.org expressing “…major concerns about the impact of the proposed high-density Tymber Creek Apartments located at the northwest of the intersection of West Granada Boulevard and Tymber Creek Road.”
As you may have heard, with many Halifax area residents worried about the horrific impacts of the proposed Avalon Park Daytona – a development that will see some 10,000 homes and over one-million square feet of commercial space – a city-within-a-city – on the city’s southwest doorstep – now, Daytona Beach developer The Jaffe Corporation, in cooperation with an out-of-state mega-builder, seeks to put a 300 unit “multifamily” apartment complex on Tymber Creek Road just north of State Road 40.
You read that right.
The developers are seeking to annex land that is not already incorporated into the city, and a land use/zoning amendment from commercial and rural agriculture to a “planned residential development.”
In addition, Ms. McLarnan’s petition seeks to educate Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington and his merry band of pro-development shills on the City Commission about the multifaceted impacts this proposed development will have on established residential areas – and the debilitating effects of increased traffic – which will exponentially compound with the advent of Avalon Park.
If you care about the quality of life of existing Ormond Beach residents, I encourage you to sign Ms. McLarnan’s petition at https://tinyurl.com/y6rvlpp9 – then attend next weeks “neighborhood meeting” at Coquina Presbyterian Church, 2085 West Granada Boulevard, Ormond Beach on Thursday, August 6, 2020, beginning at 6:00pm.
For those wishing to join the meeting virtually, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 386-238-8383 for more information.
Kudos to Mindy McLarnan for establishing this petition – which, as of this writing, has over 500 signatories – representing concerned friends and neighbors who are committed to protecting that which makes Ormond Beach so wonderfully unique.
Asshole Palm Coast City Commission
The hits just keep on coming. . .
Incredibly, just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, the rotting onion that is the City of Palm Coast keeps peeling its fetid layers – exposing the depth of dysfunction and intrigue that naturally result when those who accept public funds to serve in the public interest forget who they work for and ignore their sacred oath of office.
On the heels of allegations that City Manager Matt Morton continues to manipulate the city’s internal waste and fraud safeguards – muzzling the compliance manager, then using taxpayer funds to bring in an outside firm to apparently tell him what he wants to hear – now we learn that Morton and Mayor Milissa Holland took a partially taxpayer-funded junket to a tech conference in San Francisco last November.
I say “partially,” because the Manager and Mayor’s hotel accommodations were covered by Palm Coast tech consultant, Coastal Cloud – and it appears all the public servants had to do was shill for the company’s customer service software.
According to a recent editorial in The Daytona Beach News-Journal:
“In a half-hour session, the two Palm Coasters presented a glowing review of the system’s functionality during the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian — with the emphasis on the Salesforce software that forms the backbone of Palm Coast Connect. That, in itself, is not all that surprising: Holland’s official job with Coastal Cloud is to convince other governments to buy similar systems.”
Damn. . . this stinks.
In my view, it is time for Palm Coast taxpayers to come to the realization that things at City Hall have come off the proverbial rail – and the highly questionable actions of senior leadership have the potential to harm one of the most important municipalities in the region.
I mean, what business or industry in their right mind would consider establishing themselves in the ethically challenged quagmire of Palm Coast, given the startling revelations that continue to pour out of Matt Bruce’ outstanding investigative reportage?
Perhaps the answers Palm Coast residents deserve begins with one posed earlier this week by the News-Journal:
“Why should Palm Coast taxpayers be burdened with costs associated with Holland doing her job, marketing Coastal Cloud’s software?”
Asshole Volusia County Chair Ed Kelley
I must admit – I don’t watch the News-Journal’s virtual “debates.”
Frankly, that type of political theater bores me to tears – because I never learn anything that I didn’t already know.
Candidates providing canned answers to Pat Rice’s tepid questions in a stilted boardroom tells me nothing about how that person will govern – or their true motivations for entering the fray.
If a political candidate interests me, I take the opportunity to research the individuals accomplishments (and failures), read what they may have written in the past, meet with them and ask pointed questions – and if that person is an incumbent politician – I closely study their prior voting record and positions on the important issues.
Many time, just watching how a politician conducts themselves when interacting with constituents tells me all I need to know.
For instance, last evening during the News-Journal’s virtual debate between the Volusia County Chair Candidates – Jeff Brower, Deb Denys, and the also-ran vote splitter Gerard Witman – our doddering fool of a lame duck County Chair Ed Kelley gave us all a parting shot of his true character.
During the exchange, a loyal Barker’s View reader pointed out to me that Chairman Kelley was actively mocking Jeff Brower – repeatedly interjecting himself into the comment section of Facebook Live debate – apparently trying desperately to divert attention from the fact his candidate, the always arrogant Deb Denys, was on the ropes most of the night.
For instance, during the debate, our highest-ranking elected official in Volusia County posted:
“Jeff (Brower) Works for the people yes he does have a lawn service”
Ladies and gentlemen, in one poorly constructed sentence, Old Ed told us everything we need to know about his true feelings on small businesses in Volusia County.
Ignoring the facts – and Mr. Brower’s exceptional background as a farmer, landscaper and permaculture expert – Ed Kelley uses a workingman’s profession as a cheap jab – a low blow – which earned the disdain of citizens who were disgusted by his crude abuse.
In turn, Daytona Beach resident and environmental activist Jenny Nazak immediately responded:
“Holy mother of God, did you actually just say these words??? Is this really how you feel about the working class and small businesses in our County? Not only is your comment shockingly disrespectful; it is also false. Jeff Brower is a farmer and also owns an eco-minded landscaping company. He is well-versed in permaculture design (a toolkit for meeting all basic human needs while IMPROVING the health of ecosystems). And he is well-versed in bioswales, living shorelines, and other natural methods for mitigating some of our biggest woes such as septic problems and drought-flood extremes.”
Perhaps the best advice for Chairman Kelley came from viewer “Carolina Bob,” who exclaimed:
Ed Kelley, pipe down, the voters are talking here. Nobody needs your BS excuses!
Perhaps Mr. Kelley should have Bob’s cogent sentiment engraved in stone – a fitting memorial to a long-winded political career – a hack who hasn’t had an original thought since he accepted his first campaign contribution – a loyal, dim-witted lapdog for those influential insiders he mistakenly thought were his “friends.”
He will not be missed.
Quote of the Week
“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you the voter but due to the potential inaccuracy of the polling system, we feel it’s in the best interest to protect the candidates by removing this poll starting effectively immediately. We are looking at other options to reopen this poll at a later date.”
–West Volusia Regional Chamber of Commerce, Hob Nob 2020, Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Interesting. . .
The West Volusia Regional Chamber of Commerce made quite a show in the lead-up to their virtual “Hob Nob 2020.”
“It’s Straw Poll time, make your voice heard, cast your vote! Starting Monday our Poll will be open, so don’t forget to visit our website and vote for your favorite candidates! Special thanks to Simplicity Solutions for setting this up for us we really appreciate it!”
The Board of Directors and staff flogged the event on social media – offering candidates for Volusia County elective offices the opportunity to place advertisements (for a fee) on the chamber’s Facebook page and website – and encouraged everyone to cast a ballot for their favorite candidate in the WVRCC straw poll July 27 to August 14.
“Make your voice heard. Use your vote.”
Just days after opening the straw poll, it became increasingly evident that the biggest contest in Volusia County – the race for County Chair – wasn’t going the way many of our areas social and civic elite had hoped.
Clearly, Councilwoman Deb Denys – the darling of the Big Money power brokers – was falling woefully short of her challenger, Jeff “Plan B” Brower.
In fact, when the straw poll was mysteriously taken down on Wednesday, the tally was as follows:
Jeff Brower 54% 300 votes
Deb Denys 42% 233 votes
Gerard Witman 5% 26 votes
Of course, when things didn’t go as planned, there was suddenly a “potential inaccuracy of the polling system.”
Which candidate(s) were the West Volusia Regional Chamber protecting?
I mean, it couldn’t possibly be that We, The Little People are sick and tired of Dishonest Deb’s lies, misdirection and flip-flops – or that those who try and eke out a living here on Florida’s Fun Coast are weary of fighting on a skewed playing field where those who pay to play win every time, right?
I encourage everyone to reach out to Jeff Brower and ask him the difficult questions – seek answers to the issues that are important to your family – and see for yourself the quantum difference between Jeff’s bright vision for our future – and the stagnation of the status quo that do-nothing perennial politicians like Dishonest Deb continue to force upon us.
This one’s important.
We simply cannot afford another impetuous dipshit like our current lame duck County Chair, Ed Kelley, to lead us down the road to civic perdition.
And Another Thing!
To mask or not to mask? Blah, blah, blah. . .
How many more pages of newsprint can be devoted to beating this dead horse?
I don’t know about you, but a few months back, the folks at the Centers for Disease Control suggested that we could slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a cloth face covering.
So, we did. And it had nothing to do with fines and draconian enforcement measures.
Typically, the wearing of masks as a means of controlling infectious disease is reserved for those who are actually sick – because covering the mouth and nose prevents aerosolized droplets from being widely distributed – but they don’t filter out the virus.
Regardless, in this weird, topsy-turvy response, experts have directed that everyone “mask-up” because, well, there are apparently “asymptomatic” vectors lurking among us.
And the vast majority of us followed the reasoning – even though with almost 100% compliance in public indoor spaces – we are told the increasingly sketchy “numbers” continue to climb astronomically, with provocative headlines screaming “Florida shatters daily death record!”
Doesn’t make sense, right?
Yet, we wear the mask – not because we were told to do it by dictatorial assholes like Generalissimo Derrick Henry of the Despotic Duchy of Daytona Beach, a “Mayor” in title only, who has continuously used this pandemic as a shameless platform for political self-promotion – but because most people will do the right thing, for the right reasons, when given good information upon which to make a decision.
It’s very similar to local elections – where we take in all available information – then make an informed decision that will have long-term consequences on our lives and livelihoods.
Our neighbors – the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker – stand for high office, espouse their unique vision for our future, assail us with glossy mailers, canned soundbites, and upbeat voice-overs on television and radio, ostensibly to provide us with all the reasons why we should give them our sacred vote – and the opportunity to serve our interests and steward our hard-earned tax dollars.
And, like the non-stop yammering about masks – the 24/7 campaign advertisements, yard signs, “debates,” and other political white noise will ultimately reach a pitch that will have most of us tuning it all out.
In the end, with what we hope is the very best information available, some of us will enter the voting booth (or fill out a ballot at home) and take a leap of faith that we’re doing the right thing for our families, our businesses and our quality of life.
Others have become so jaded by past experience and the corrupt motivations of mercenary politicians that they simply ignore the process altogether – as local “politics” are seen as more of an annoyance than a civic obligation.
Most of the time, those we elect turn out to be little more than cheap hucksters – spewing horseshit and supporting positions that always seem to serve the economic interests of the ‘Rich & Powerful’ while ignoring the needs and wants of their constituents.
And even more of us become jaded to the process. . .
I’m asking you to keep the faith.
I hope you will take the opportunity to educate yourself on the issues, research the voting records of incumbents, speak with the candidates individually – then cast your sacred vote for those who best represent your values and vision for our future.
Participate in the process. Get informed. Get involved.
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend, y’all!