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.
Before we get started, its Friday Funday once again here at Barker’s View HQ!
Let’s play a little game I like to call Which is Which!
For those who haven’t played before, the rules are simple – take a wild-ass guess at the following questions by selecting either A. or B. from the photograph below.
Ready? Here we go:
One of these things has helped our community by cleaning the air, supporting wildlife habitat, reduced noise pollution, improved the soil, increased property values, stood tall and strong to provide protection, and beautified our environment?
The other is a dense, hard barked, thick trunked, deep-rooted impediment to the civic contributions of the other?
Guess which is which.
Take your time. . .
You’re right! The continuous contributions of an inanimate oak tree trump the civic obstructions and bureaucratic fumbling and bumbling of King Edward The Dullard every damn time! We need more of them!
(Trees that is. We have enough knot-head politicians. . .)
Thanks for playing everyone!
Let’s look at who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was.
Asshole Volusia County School Board
“Out of every one-hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”
Fear is contagious.
In the absence of strong leadership, trusted information and clear direction, the fear contagion can spread like wildfire, resulting in mass panic – and once widespread anxiety takes hold – it is almost impossible to control.
A good analogy is what I like to call Barker’s Theory of Herd Reaction to a perceived threat.
For instance, if fire breaks out in a crowded theater, most people will be instantaneously reduced to their primordial physiological instincts once they smell smoke in a confined space and the amygdala area of our brain sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus.
Then, several interesting dynamics begin to surface as adrenaline hits the bloodstream.
A small segment of the group will remain in their seats regardless of the emergent threat – paralyzed by fear – frozen in place – unable to move, think or reason for themselves.
A few more will sit together in the floor in a communal group, holding hands and singing Kumbaya – convinced that some higher being will ignore the many and save the worthy – while others form a committee and begin discussing “ideas and suggestions,” ultimately bickering over why more fire suppression equipment wasn’t engineered into the building design – or where to place blame for the origin of the fire – as the conflagration builds around them.
The majority will stampede in a blind panic.
Some will be lost in the crush of a terrified mass reaction without ever being threatened by fire or smoke – as the crowd reacts to any perceived positive or negative change – and individual thought and freewill are quickly replaced by a mob psychology.
In turn, the frightened pack will begin to mimic the behavior of those around them, ignoring convenient exits and obvious opportunities to escape in favor of going with the group.
However, in the midst of the chaos, one or two true leaders will emerge – men and women who remember their training, keep their heads about them, and instinctively employ best practices, demonstrate professional competence and exhibit strong leadership skills – setting a personal example of competence and courage that calms the mass hysteria, palliates fear, and restores individual confidence.
These leaders can, by virtue of trust, quickly disseminate the best information available on how the group can protect itself – then launch a logical and organized response that soothes the primal panic and shepherds the majority to a safe place.
Unfortunately, the Volusia County School Board’s dismal attempts to craft a cogent reopening strategy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic has been the antithesis of leadership, resulting in widespread fear and uncertainty among anxious students, parents, teachers, and staff.
On Tuesday, The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s front page headline ominously read, “‘I am afraid to death’ – Volusia teachers head back to classrooms despite unclear virus plans,” as more than 4,000 teachers and staff members returned to the classroom for “planning and professional development” before school starts in various forms on August 31.
Inexplicably, with just two-weeks before students return to campus, district administrators have yet to finalize opening plans – or release hard numbers on how many children plan to return to the classroom.
They also haven’t provided an adequate explanation as to why the district’s janitorial contractor has apparently been on a continuous smoke break since schools closed, rather than using the time to deep clean and sanitize facilities.
Meanwhile, our elected officials on the Volusia County School Board continue to wring their hands while clueless administrators are in desperate need of direction and leadership.
According to reports, Volusia United Educators, the union representing teachers, continues to negotiate a reasonable solution – including an option that would allow teachers and students to begin the year in a virtual learning format (in violation of state mandate) – as families and staff remain in limbo.
Some teachers have broken ranks and taken to social media to express their fears of reopening or garner support for returning to the classroom – and the VUE has rightfully posted photographs of the disgusting, wholly unsanitary conditions they encountered this week.
That’s not “crisis management” – that’s a tumultuous disaster in the making. . .
And the chaos continues.
In my view, Michelle Maclin, a math coach at Southwestern Middle School in DeLand, said it best in a News-Journal article earlier this week:
“My philosophy is if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” Maclin said. “(District officials) have not been able to clearly articulate what the plan is.”
This glacial indecision, abdication of responsibility, utter ineptitude, and bureaucratic paralysis by elected and appointed officials simply cannot continue while the lives of students, teachers, staff, and families hang in the balance.
Angel Bethune-Cookman University’s Nursing Program
Like the institution as a whole, Bethune-Cookman University’s L. Gale Lemerand School of Nursing has faced almost insurmountable challenges over the past few years.
In February 2018, the Florida Board of Nursing placed the program on probation when students failed to meet national testing standards.
Then, in June of that year, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges placed Bethune-Cookman on probation for one year, threatening the university’s accreditation and placing the continued viability of Dr. Bethune’s dream in jeopardy.
Tragically, at that time, several students in the struggling nursing program failed to receive their nursing degrees and were offered “liberal studies” degrees instead – leaving some disillusioned participants with massive debt and no clear career path going forward.
Now, under the outstanding leadership of B-CU President Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite – coupled with a renewed enthusiasm by faculty members and a focused return to rigorous standards – this week we learned that the School of Nursing currently holds a 100% pass rate among spring graduates who have taken the National Council Licensure Examination!
That represents hard work and dedication, and B-CU’s spring graduates can be exceptionally proud as they take their place among today’s highly trained medical professionals.
Kudos to the students, faculty, and staff of the L. Gale Lemerand School of Nursing for this remarkable achievement!
Angel Volusia County Professional Firefighters Association
Here’s a Barker’s View ‘Thank You!’ to the brave men and women of the Volusia County Professional Firefighters Association for their recent endorsement of Jeff “Plan B” Brower for Volusia County Chair, and Danny Robins, who is running for the Volusia County District 3 seat!
Clearly, Volusia County firefighters and first responders have the best interest of our community at heart – and they did not disappoint.
On Monday, the VCPFA Local 3574 joined their brothers and sisters at the Volusia County Deputies Association in lending their support to the candidacies of Brower and Robins as our dedicated first responders join the call for substantive change in the vision and direction of Volusia County government.
In backing Jeff Brower, the VCPFA wrote, in part:
“The Volusia County firefighters promote candidates that we believe will prioritize the safety and well-being of our citizens, communities, and front line first responders.”
“We believe you are the candidate that best represents our high ethical standards and ideals. We are encouraged by your positive attitude and commonsense approach to problem-solving. We are truly inspired by your tenacity and follow through. You have not given up on your goal to help your community and citizens, despite the hurdles placed in front of you. You have not backed down from the establishment. In fact, you have risen to the challenge. This can-do attitude will serve you well in the challenges you will face as Volusia County Chair. . .”
In turn, the firefighters complemented Mr. Robins’ previous public safety experience and vowed, “We look forward to working with you and assisting you in your new position as District Three Volusia County Councilman.”
In my view, the extraordinary courage and contributions of our dedicated first responders in fire/law enforcement/EMS and emergency communications deserve the unwavering support of those elected officials who maintain budgetary and policy control over their respective disciplines.
Now, more than ever.
The members of the respective Volusia County Professional Firefighters and Deputies Associations comprise a sizable voting bloc – and their resolute endorsement of Jeff Brower is a clear indicator of how many county employees feel about the incumbent candidate – and where our intrepid first responders stand on the future of Volusia County government.
Conversely, it seems the only support Mr. Brower’s opponent – the always arrogant Councilwoman Deb Denys – can muster is a few tepid letters to the editor of the News-Journal from a gaggle of out-of-touch political has-beens who just woke from their afternoon nap. . .
In my view, receiving the coveted “Seal of Approval” of Volusia County’s fire service and law enforcement personnel should send a powerful message to voters where Jeff Brower and Danny Robins stand on the issues that are important to all of us.
Quote of the Week
“. . .we can push to end the ban on food trucks on the street (Main Street) so you don’t have to spend money on a kitchen build out. Maybe get someone who has one of the side of the road BBQ pits (not a food truck! )
And maybe we can push for financial investments and grants for business owners on the street to make upgrades or open a business!
We need to throw out the city plan that limits the type of businesses that want to open or make existing businesses harder to comply with or sustain!!!
Why can every other Main Street have antique shops and coffee and ice cream and novelty, but we are limited to bar, t-shirt, or leather for the whole street?! Can you imagine if these store fronts were filled with unique shopping, different foods and exciting atmospheres that literally gave the tourists on the street something to wall to and explore?!
I never understood why we dumped so much of that and so much money into beach street, where tourists can’t walk to. They don’t even know it exists. Many of them fly in and don’t have a car and can’t get there… But right across from the boardwalk and hotel we get nothing, aren’t allowed to open anything, and can’t make it diverse and interesting like other tourist towns.
The bikers loved beach street and it had a lot for them to experience. But we kicked them out of there. They loved shopping and sightseeing and antique collecting! But somehow we think if we had diverse businesses on the street it would hurt the bikers. It wouldn’t! It would give them more reason to come! They drink coffee. The women love to shop, they like to be able to get food and drinks. We should offer them a total package! Not 10 different t-shirt shops that all sell the same thing for two weeks of the year.
What are we trying to do with the street? There is no reason it should be a ghost town! We should offer something for everyone sitting on the beach to get out and explore!!!”
–Jennifer Finno Ellis, owner of Victory Tattoo, Main Street Daytona Beach, writing on social media in response to The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s, “Daytona’s Main Street struggling through virus impacts,” Monday, August 10, 2020
And Another Thing!
I have seen some shit in my time.
However, I’m not sure any of us has experienced the level of abject buffoonery and pure, old-fashioned ignorance and unsophisticated hubris currently on display by our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, as he bungles his way through this campaign season.
Old Ed is clearly nervous about the upcoming County Chair race – and he should be.
In many ways, his bizarre, mean-spirited behavior – both from the dais and on social media – has glaringly exposed all the reasons why many Volusia County residents are demanding fundamental change in their government and a different vision for their future.
For instance, during the recent News-Journal “debates” featuring Jeff Brower and his opponent – Dishonest Deb Denys – Chairman Kelley took to Facebook Live and clownishly snipped-and-sniped at Mr. Brower – all while voters tried desperately to consider the candidates unique take on the issues.
Instead, Old Ed pestered and baited viewers from the sidelines, while ridiculing the fact Mr. Brower makes his living with his hands, besmirching hardworking Volusia County residents with his effete snobbery.
It was an artless, but deliberate, distraction – a strategic diversion from Dishonest Debs abysmal record, which, when viewed in the light of day, becomes a mirror image of Ed Kelley’s own disastrous history of kowtowing to his well-heeled political benefactors, obfuscating facts to fit the narrative, and ignoring the needs, wants and input of constituents while protecting the status quo at all costs.
Like Ms. Denys, Old Ed has served on perhaps the most ineffectual council in recent memory – and that’s a damnable shame – because several of its current members, like Ben Johnson, Barb Girtman and the bruised and battered Heather Post – had some high-minded ideas at times.
Unfortunately, the contributions of other council members were often overshadowed by Dishonest Debs near-constant grandstanding – her loyal shilling for uber-wealthy developers and willingness to weaken environmental protections in the name of “economic development” – all while crowing, ad nauseum, about her unimpressive role as the ceremonial figurehead of various do-nothing transportation and environmental political insulation committees.
Yet, despite Dishonest Debs demonstrable record of flip-flopping and backpedaling on important issues like beach driving and access – Old Ed continues to pace the ramparts of the Ivory Tower of Power – dutifully protecting the interests of well-heeled political insiders and running interference for their darling like some demented sentry still holding firm to a lost cause.
I’d like to (once again) tell Chairman Kelley that it’s time for him to set the gavel down and retire – quietly shuffle off to that fetid ash heap where washed-up, lame duck political hacks go when they have nothing left to offer those insidious insiders they once thought were “friends.”
But I won’t.
Frankly, Ed Kelley has done more to promote the candidacy of Ms. Denys opponent and ensure her flaming defeat than any glossy mailer or radio advertisement ever could – and our doddering fool of a County Chair will have no one else to blame come election day.
Besides, I take a perverse pleasure in watching Old Ed get his ass handed to him whenever he engages in “petty wars” with his long-suffering constituents on social media – fed-up citizens who obviously find great gratification rubbing the Chairman’s nose in the rotten remains of his odious political career.
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend, y’all!