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.
Asshole Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland & Challenger Alan Lowe
The Palm Coast mayoral race is a shit-show of epic proportion.
A true dilemma.
There – I said what everyone else is thinking. You’re welcome.
In my view, the City of Palm Coast is failing at the seams – a City Hall in shambles, as besieged City Manager Matt Morton is allowed to crash about, butchering the careers of long-time civil servants, some of whom dared call foul on Mayor Holland’s dual function as elected official/sales person for Palm Coast tech firm, Coastal Cloud – roles which seem to have occasionally intertwined to the advantage of everyone but the citizens of Palm Coast.
According to reports, “Coastal Cloud has a unique arrangement with the city to provide some digital services. The company is also Holland’s daytime employer.”
Many fear it runs far deeper than that.
In June, as part of an excellent exposé by former Daytona Beach News-Journal reporter Matt Bruce, we learned that two former Palm Coast employees have been interviewed by the FBI, apparently as part of a larger investigation into Mayor Holland’s “connection with Coastal Cloud.”
At the time, former City Manager Jim Landon confirmed that he was interviewed by two FBI agents one year ago regarding “…the relationship between Coastal Cloud, Holland and the city.”
It is apparent to anyone paying attention that this goes beyond election year gossip and allegations. . .
On Wednesday, the News-Journal reported that some 80% of donations to Mayor Holland’s campaign account – over $40,000 – originated from outside Flagler County, including a cumulative total of $11,000 from eleven different Political Action Committees – with $10,000 from “…businesses owned by politically connected Daytona Beach developer Mori Hosseini.”
As if things could not get worse, this week we also learned that Mayor Holland saw fit to wallow in the mud and play the worst form of dirty politics when she ran a horrible advertisement against her uber-weird opponent, Alan Lowe, essentially accusing him of being a thief – while callously besmirching the character and reputation of an innocent third party.
According to a News-Journal report, “The theft claim in the ad was for a minor complaint against Lowe 28 years ago, and Lowe said he was not even aware of it. It never reached the court system, and Lowe was never charged or arrested.”
But what rightfully angered many was the fact Mayor Holland’s malicious attack featured clear racial overtones when her campaign positioned a photograph of Mr. Lowe in the company of an unidentified person of color, which glaringly implied the subject was somehow complicit in the allegations against Mr. Lowe.
According to reports, the photograph was taken when Mr. Lowe was on the island of Dominica supporting relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
“She used a photo of me with a person of color in her racist political TV ad and directly implied this man, because he is Black, is a criminal,” Lowe said in the video. “Nothing could be further from the truth. This man has a name. It is Philip and he is a survivor of Hurricane Maria.”
Naturally, Philip was reportedly “shocked” by Mayor Holland’s obtuse insinuation – and her wholesale destruction of the innocent man’s reputation for political gain.
Things turned even uglier when it was revealed that Holland’s campaign apparently used a Panama-based website (?) to launch attacks against Lowe – which included the unsubstantiated theft charge and some dry manure about a mortgage foreclosure from over 20-years ago.
Look, we have seen some whale-shit level tactics used by various local campaigns this season – but Mayor Holland’s blatant hit piece smacks of gross racial stereotyping – and it should not be tolerated by her constituents, colleagues, or supporters.
I realize our state’s ethics apparatus has become the neutered lacquey of sitting politicians, but doesn’t the Florida Elections Commission monitor this low rent, anti-democratic misrepresentation?
In my view, Mayor Holland has repeatedly crossed a very bright line – both in the mercenary use of her elected position – and in stooping to new lows by engaging in despicable racial profiling as a means of disparaging her political opponent.
It gets worse. . .
A lot worse.
Now, we learn that Holland’s opponent, Alan Lowe, may well be a dyed-in-the-wool kook.
In a disturbing article by Brian McMillan writing in the Palm Coast Observer, we learned that Mr. Lowe has never voted in a presidential election – and, in 1993, he renounced his Unites States citizenship “…as part of a spiritual awakening.”
You read that right. . .
“With the election less than three weeks away, anonymous emails were received by the Observer with several documents attached that appeared to be stamped and recorded by the Flagler County clerk of courts in 1993. The documents, signed by Lowe, say that his name is now legally “Alan S. Lowe Ambassador for Christ,” rather than just Alan Lowe.”
According to the report, Lowe said he never registered to vote until this year because “I just never had any interest.”
In turn, Lowe claims his oddball renunciation of his citizenship was due to a “spiritual awakening” during a “deep study” of the bible (?) – but to anyone paying attention – it looked like for a period of his life, Lowe embraced the strange sovereign citizen movement in a big way. . .
Honestly. I don’t make this shit up, folks.
You can read all about it here: https://tinyurl.com/y65o7rjg – or take an even deeper dive at FlaglerLive here: https://flaglerlive.com/158097/alan-lowe-sovereign-citizen/
Now that he’s hip-deep in the Palm Coast mayoral race, Mr. Lowe attempts to shuck off this abject nuttiness, and assuage the fears of nervous voters, by chalking the whole thing up to a “temporary mindset?”
Right. . .
Talk about a Morton’s Fork, wrapped in a dilemma, inside a Hobson’s Choice. . .
My God. This is what passes for political alternatives in a major Central Florida city in 2020?
Good luck, Palm Coast. You’re gonna need it. . .
Angel City of Ormond Beach
This week, 100 Ormond Beach ‘movers & shakers’ donned their finery and gathered at the swank Oceanside Golf and Country Club to hear a video message from Mayor Bill Partington talk about “navigating new horizons” (whatever that means) during the State of the City Address.
I wasn’t there.
And neither were you.
Because all the tickets were purchased by the event’s “sponsors” in advance.
I’m told Commissioner Troy Kent yammered about a Federal Aviation Administration grant to fund improvements to an airport taxiway (something like five people in the world give two-shits about) – while Rob Littleton galvanized the crowd with talk of a wastewater project on North US-1. . .
I’m just being petty. I’m sure ol’ T-roy, Rob and the rest of the Funky Bunch said much more than that – but, after a while, it all sounds like hauteur gibberish to me. . .
According to reports, the final elected official to virtually address the crowd was Commissioner Susan Persis, who sent an encouraging message about the revitalization of Ormond’s historic downtown and improvements made to Cassen Park.
I know some of you will disagree with me on this – to each their own – but I believe the City of Ormond Beach is on target with planned improvements to the Cassen Park bait shop and restroom complex.
Recently, the Ormond Beach City Commission agreed to fund the design of new riverfront amenities that will incorporate an improved bait house and restroom facility, along with a covered pavilion to provide “a sense of place, opening/providing visual views, enhancing the walking experience, and providing access to the water.”
Whether or not you agree with the construction of the new floating docks on the southwest side of the Granada Bridge – which was paid for with a combination of Community Redevelopment Funds and grant money – clearly the marina is becoming a popular attraction for area boaters and will factor prominently in the continuing transformation of Ormond Beach’s thriving downtown.
As Jerry Janaro, a member of the Ormond Beach Mainstreet Board of Directors recently said in an op/ed for the Observer:
“It is hard to believe that a beautiful community like ours with a great river flowing through its center has taken so long to develop a plan that will allow thousands of boaters access to all our downtown has to offer. The dock at Cassen Park is a first-class facility that will be bringing vitality to our downtown for years to come.”
In my view, the extraordinary vision of downtown developer Bill Jones – who, with an eye toward creative historic preservation, has taken what was a languishing stretch of tired storefronts and nondescript buildings and transformed it into something remarkable – has set the tone for great things to come.
It is important that city officials assist this private investment when and where they can – not with handouts and giveaways – but by providing improved public amenities to invigorate the waterfront focal point, help build a sense of place, and improve walkability and access in Ormond’s historic downtown.
I believe that visionary revitalization and inspired entrepreneurship – coupled with symbiotic public investment – is the key to civic improvement.
Can it be risky? You bet.
But from what I have seen in vibrant communities that have invested smartly in revitalizing traditional downtowns – the risk is well worth the reward.
Asshole County of Volusia
I wrote about this earlier in the week, but it bears repeating.
On Sunday, Halifax area residents were treated to another excellent exposé by Eileen Zaffiro-Kean writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, this time pointing out the seasonal occupation of beachside parks by homeless persons – and all that brings for area residents and visitors when the great unwashed hoards return. . .
A tableau of public urination/defecation, splash pads turned rudimentary washing machines, exposed bathing in beach showers, sleeping in pavilions, fouling picnic amenities, aggressive panhandling, open drug use, hypodermic needles littering the ground, raging alcoholism, and mental illness laid bare in our core tourist area.
Make no mistake – this is not a ‘policing problem’ – and no one has done more to alleviate the problem where the rubber meets the road than Chief Craig Capri.
If we’ve learned anything, it is that a community cannot ‘arrest’ or humiliate its way out of this intractable social issue, because homeless persons have a right to be – just like the rest of us – and many simply want a safe low barrier alternative to the mean streets, something we don’t offer in East Volusia.
In my view, Chief Capri and his staff have done a masterful job reducing the horrific visuals and impact in our core tourist area and beyond.
The Daytona Beach Police Department has been on the cutting edge of innovative solutions, including championing last year’s panhandling ordinance that saw roving bands of professional medicants removed from every intersection in the area virtually overnight.
That’s what happens when law enforcement has the tools to do their job.
Astonishingly, we now learn that after battling the nuisance crime and public sanitation problems inherent to the interface of homeless camps and our core tourist area, “up until about a week ago,” Volusia County had failed to post rules in beachfront county parks – a necessary and commonsense measure that would allow Daytona Beach police officers to enforce specific prohibitions.
My God. . .
I guess county officials were preoccupied posting No Parking signs in upscale beachfront neighborhoods and increasing fines for Volusia County residents to show how responsive Dishonest Deb Denys is to her well-heeled political benefactors, eh?
According to the News-Journal, Daytona Beach City Commissioner Quanita May asked the valid question – with the Volusia County Beach Safety headquarters located immediately next door to the county-owned park – “why the situation hasn’t been dealt with sooner.”
Commissioner May is right to question this mess.
This is inexcusable.
Sadly, Volusia County Councilwoman Billie Wheeler claims she has been getting complaints from residents for “a few months,” and has passed citizen concerns to county staff “every day.”
So why hasn’t anything of substance been accomplished?
Because, when I was playing government – if my department failed to address the legitimate concerns of a sitting elected official – my ass would have been slow roasted, thin-sliced, and served up with braised carrots and a fine Beaujolais. . .
That is why this latest blunder has many asking exactly which Rip Van Winkle in the executive suite at Volusia County Beach Safety Department Councilwoman Wheeler plans to hold accountable for ignoring her?
In my view, County Manager George “The Wreck” Recktenwald has an obligation to serve the elected officials with equal enthusiasm – and ensure that the department heads are fulfilling their obligation to the public they exist to serve.
When Councilwoman Wheeler states in the newspaper that she has been forwarding complaints of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at a county-run park on a daily basis for “months” – that is a serious problem – and one that should not be ignored by our highly compensated County Manager.
I know he’s a nice guy – and I know nobody on the dais wants to hear it – but the fact is, when it comes to the operational elements of county government the buck stops with Mr. Recktenwald.
At least it should.
If Ms. Wheeler is too timid, or weak-minded, to formally address the issue and stand up for her long-suffering constituents – perhaps she no longer deserves a seat at the table?
This is unacceptable, folks.
Frankly, with her election just two-weeks away, Ms. Wheeler should be screaming from the rooftop of the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Building – while she still has a voice relative to the discussion. . .
When will those who receive public funds to serve in the public interest in Volusia County’s Ivory Tower of Power be held accountable for their acts and omissions – like failing to simply post a list of enforceable rules in county-run parks before residents and visitors are set upon and our publicly owned amenities ruined?
Quote of the Week
“To the developers and their friends who are without doubt howling about this grotesque assault on their profit margins, I say the following: No one is forcing developers to develop in Daytona Beach. If they can find greener pastures elsewhere, please go. If they are unwilling to invest in the well-being of our entire city, why should we subsidize their profit?”
–Civic Activist Anne Ruby, guest columnist, The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Developers should back affordable housing,” Sunday, October 11, 2020
And Another Thing!
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.
Which means I have become surly, brooding – given to jabbering and raving – with a steady diet of Irish whiskey and unfiltered cigarettes.
My friends keep their distance, and our neighbors are getting nervous.
When they lean over the fence and ask my wife, “What’s going on over there?” Patti just makes the sign of the cuckoo and whispers, “It’s the election season – my husband’s not right in his head.”
And there are still two-weeks to go. . .
We have reached that point in the election cycle where information overload – also known as infobesity or infoxication – results in many uninformed voters having problems making important decisions.
In his best selling 1970 book Future Shock, Alvin Toffler said:
“Information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity. Decision makers have fairly limited cognitive processing capacity. Consequently, when information overload occurs, it is likely that a reduction in decision quality will occur.”
Maybe that is what some incumbent politicians are counting on?
For instance, in the highly contested Volusia County Chair race, Dishonest Deb Denys has redundant, around-the-clock, attack advertisements running on television and radio – backed by dishonest glossy mailers – contemptable hit pieces which employ mischaracterizations, deception, and outright lies, all cleverly designed to sully the character and capabilities of her able opponent, Jeff “Plan B” Brower.
It is wrong. It is dirty. And it has become the accepted modus operandi of desperate candidates and their shameless shit-slinging operatives in this foul year 2020.
As a result, many low-information voters are led to believe they are doing the right thing in returning a perennial politician to the dais of power – a craven lapdog whose personal arrogance, ignorance of the serious issues facing Volusia families, and total submission to political profiteers who stand at the nexus of public funds and private advantage – who has done little more than protect the status quo that has kept Volusia County the laughing stock of Central Florida for decades.
For years I have railed against this pay-to-play system where a return on investment beats the needs and wants of long-suffering Volusia County residents every time – and a well-heeled clique routinely controls the outcome of our local elections – the commonweal be damned.
Don’t take my word for it.
Read the readily available campaign finance reports, consider the interesting make-up of the highbrow “Host Committees” sponsoring Denys fundraisers, then ask yourself why a few well-fixed real estate developers, phony powerbrokers, government contractors, sitting elected officials, and parasitic insiders would donate nearly $200,000 to Dishonest Deb’s campaign account – with another $49,500 coming from just eight donors to a shadowy Political Action Committee absurdly known as Volusia Citizens for Good Governance?
To determine the outcome of a county chair race?
Do you honestly think these people have your family’s best interests at heart?
Earlier this week, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood took to social media and reiterated that he has not endorsed anyone in the County Chair race, then clarified Mr. Brower’s stance on public safety:
“In all my conversations with Jeff Brower, he’s made it clear that he believes law enforcement and other core public safety functions of government are not up for “defunding.” He and I agree that adequate funding for law enforcement is part of the foundation of a prosperous Volusia County.
In this political season, lies, exaggerations and misinformation are everywhere. These are just a couple of examples involving people I know personally. Don’t believe everything you see on a mailer or in a TV ad. Do your research and vote for the candidate who you believe will do the most good.”
In my view, Ms. Denys should be ashamed of herself.
Unfortunately, she seems to lack the basic human qualities of conscience, principles, and integrity. . .
Tragically, the obscene nature of what now passes for political contests in Volusia County (and elsewhere for that matter) all but ensures the spoils go to whomever can stoop the lowest, hit the hardest, and operate most comfortably in this blood-soaked slit-trench where nothing is considered immoral, unethical, or unfair.
Despite the fact the deck has been stacked against We, The Little People – with staggered terms and other pernicious protections designed to ensure the status quo survives at all cost – I believe we can protect our interests and bring positive change through the ultimate power of the ballot box.
It is time Volusia County voters begin the process of exercising our will – and replace this detestable oligarchy that has, by strategic design, ensured that the selfish wants of those political puppeteers who deftly manipulate the rods and cables of county government always outweigh the needs of those who are expected to pay the bills and suffer in silence.
Let’s return a sense of sanity and restore the public trust in our county government.
This one’s important.
Please vote Jeff Brower for Volusia County Chair.
Angels & Assholes will be on hiatus next week as we take a short pause before the final push to election day – A&A will return on Friday, October 30th!
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend, y’all.