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 Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young
Last week, I watched online as my friend and former law enforcement colleague, Jakari Young, was rightfully appointed the 17th Chief of Police for the City of Daytona Beach.
At just 42 years old, Chief Young has worked hard to gain the education, reputation and experience necessary – proving himself, both operationally and administratively – and has now reached the pinnacle of a stellar 19-year career with the Daytona Beach Police Department.
There are few positions more important to the day-to-day life of a community because police officers hold the dual role of law enforcement and public service – protecting, serving, and safeguarding while bringing those responsible for victimizing others to justice.
As the most visible arm of local government, how a city’s police department is perceived by residents, businesses, and visitors is important to civic harmony and progress.
It is a high-speed endeavor, and only those who have sat in the seat can understand the unique challenges.
Locally, the job also comes with a wonderful sense of collegiality and friendship from the other chiefs and directors throughout Volusia County who always stand ready to assist and support one another.
Under the expert leadership of former Chief Craig Capri – who served the community for 31-years with a personal care and concern that proved how much he loved the job and those he served – the Daytona Beach Police Department has become a shining example of diversity, engagement, and community partnership.
From my vantagepoint, Chief Young possesses a strategic mind and sharp intellect, honed by a wealth of practical leadership experience, and he embodies the strength of character and quiet professionalism that instills confidence in those around him.
I also wanted to recognize the good instincts of City Manager Jim Chisholm, who selected Chief Young without hesitation – a smart move that avoided the always painful “nationwide search” – which naturally creates organizational anxiety and destroys morale, especially when the logical internal choice is as polished and professional as Jakari Young.
Say what you will about Mr. Chisholm’s tenure at Daytona Beach – he has a true knack for picking outstanding police executives.
During his touching swearing in ceremony on the steps of City Hall last week, Chief Young said:
“You have a chief who will keep God first in all he does, with the professional courage to make tough decisions, who desires nothing more than to be a public servant and will keep the sanctity of life central.”
Powerful words from a humble man of service.
Godspeed Chief Young – and congratulations on this outstanding milestone.
Asshole Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Some politicians stick around long after their expiration date – too prideful to step aside – always searching for a vainglorious new way to remain relevant after their natural shelf life.
Like bad mayonnaise at a sweltering summer picnic, they sit around in their own stench and foul everything they touch.
Earlier this week, a press release from Governor DeSantis announced that our doddering fool of a lame duck County Chair, Ed Kelley, recently received a gubernatorial appointment to something called a “local government efficiency task force.”
You read that right.
Look, Governor DeSantis isn’t having the best week of his career – but this is over-the-top.
I must be missing something, because a legislative push for a local government task force (HB 7101) died in committee in March – and the State of Florida’s efficiency task force, which meets every four years – finished its work in September, so I’m not sure what this appointment means.
In my view, to mention Old Ed in any context of government efficiency, financial responsibility, or political accountability makes a mockery of the very concept.
I have argued that this political hack has not had an original thought since he accepted his first campaign contribution.
What vetting could Governor DeSantis possibly have done before naming this uninspired hayseed to anything – beyond holding his fetid elective career up as a cautionary tale of the Political Peter Principal in action?
Because he clearly hasn’t taken the time to study any of those hootenannies which pass for a Volusia County Council meeting that Chairman Kelley has bumbled, mumbled, and fumbled his way through for the past four-years. . .
Just when Old Ed was handed the greatest defeat of his political life as Chairman-elect Jeff Brower crushed his hand-select successor, Dishonest Deb Denys – rather than shuffle-off to that rotten ash heap of history where perennial politicians go when they are no longer of value – we are told Mr. Kelley will now be responsible for “…developing recommendations for improving governmental operations and reducing costs.”
Governor DeSantis has either bumped his head – or he does not realize that this meanspirited dullard couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions on the heel.
Look, there is nothing in Old Ed’s political past that would remotely qualify him to recommend anything – beyond how best to lick the boots of political benefactors and protect the ramparts of a crumbling oligarchical system, like some demented sentry, too stubborn and addlebrained to see his battle has been lost.
When is enough, enough?
Angel Vienna Capital
I want to welcome Los Angeles-based investment group, Vienna Capital, to the family!
Look, I realize I come off like Chuckles the Dunk-Tank Insult Clown in this space – using foul language and hurling slights at those who, in my cynical view, take advantage of our natural resources, abdicate their responsibility to represent our interests, act like officious assholes or interfere with our unique heritage and traditions – like beach driving and access.
But I truly support anyone who is willing to invest in the revitalization of our compromised core tourist area, using their own money, talent and resources to return the Daytona Beach Resort Area to its past grandeur and support a workforce that relies on our struggling hospitality industry for sustenance.
This week, News-Journal business editor Clayton Park wrote an encouraging piece on Vienna Capital’s $8.3 million investment to acquire a “controlling stake” in various important aspects of the resort – including “…the hotel lobby, 40,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa, the 14-story hotel’s two restaurants, a deli and lobby bar, and 100 guest rooms.”
Clearly, Vienna Capital believes in the potential of both The Plaza Resort – and Daytona Beach – as they look to make substantial improvements to the property and add amenities, such as additional restaurants, a lounge and entertainment.
According to the report, Jonathan Abraham Eid, the CEO of Vienna Capital, explained, “The whole thing is to bring it back to its heyday and to add value.”
I like that.
In his article, Mr. Park quoted Bob Davis, CEO of the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County, who recently met with Mr. Eid.
“He talked pretty big. He talked about revitalizing Seabreeze Boulevard and wants it to become a hub for entertainment,” said Davis.
“It’s nice to have new ownership with expanded ideas. I like the idea of bringing back entertainment. I have a meeting set up with him and the Mayor when he comes back to town in December,” Davis said.”
Geeze, Bob. What gives?
I thought you were on our side.
Why do you have to go and spoil it by introducing our new friends to Mayor Derrick “Il Duce” Henry – who has single-handedly lorded over the most anti-business elected body in the history of the Halifax area – and established a culture at Daytona Beach City Hall that abhors entrepreneurial investment on the beachside and actively drives away small businesses?
This is why we can’t have nice things, Bob. . .
Here’s wishing Vienna Capital the best of luck as they become the next enthusiastic investment group to take a bite at this wormy apple that we call The World’s Most Famous Beach.
We need their fresh set of eyes – now, more than ever.
Asshole Volusia County District Schools
In my view, the callous and reckless nature of how our money was squandered this week should shock the conscience of every Volusia County taxpayer. . .
If you thought things could not get worse at Volusia County Schools – think again.
At Tuesday’s School Board meeting – in a late night “off the agenda” ambush – our elected dullards gifted our “new” Superintendent, Dr. Carmen “Blundering” Balgobin, a whopping 34% pay increase commensurate with what I believe is her illegitimate title (we currently pay her $579.00 per day).
Originally hired to serve as Superintendent Scott Fritz’ Deputy (you know, to fill-in when Dr. Fritz is absent), in September, the VCSB implausibly considered a formal resolution extending Balgobin’s interim status, which included a strange “Whereas” that set the tone for Balgobin’s stomach-turning pay increase:
“Dr. Carmen Balgobin is currently being compensated at a rate of pay below the duties and responsibilities of serving as the District’s Superintendent.”
Isn’t that what she was hired to do?
At the same meeting, Blundering Balgobin, in concert with our heartless elected officials, pulled something of a bloodless coup d’état, undermining School Superintendent Dr. Scott Fritz as he recuperates from cancer treatment.
With little fanfare, the VCSB simply dropped the word “Interim” from Balgobin’s title – and, just like magic – we have a “new” Superintendent.
And things have been a raging dumpster fire ever since. . .
At a time when the School Board just transferred $11 million from reserves to balance a bloated budget approaching One-Billion-Dollars – in the face of a pandemic and looming “financial crisis” – those we have elected to represent our highest and best interests thought now was the appropriate time to lavish an obscene pay increase on a ghostlike failed senior administrator?
As typically happens, this weeks VCSB meeting raised more questions than answers.
Did no one on the dais of power realize that Blundering Balgobin’s extravagant bump was far in excess of the paltry salary of most teachers, paraprofessionals and staff – and could have been used during these challenging times to support teaching and learning – you know, the district’s very reason for existence?
Is it just me, or did School Board Attorney Ted Doran overstep his role when he actively lobbied for Balgobin’s pay increase – while simultaneously providing political insulation for our elected representatives?
Was $150,000 a year not enough compensation for a foundering deputy superintendent who was simply asked to fill the role as her boss takes medical leave?
And is anyone else concerned about the massive exodus of experienced teachers and staff from the district for “personal reasons”?
I’m asking, because when you add this latest asinine decision to the long-list of five alarm foul-ups, gaffes, howlers, lawsuits, bloopers, internal scandals, negative press – and the paranoid refusal to substantively communicate with stakeholders – it is apparent our school system is in desperate trouble.
Fortunately, political novice Anita Burnette trounced entrenched School Board Chair Ida Wright last week, largely on a refreshing platform of “changing district culture by improving communication and making sure educators feel valued; prioritizing spending on classroom needs and tightening spending in administrative budgets; and closing the achievement gap for minority students.”
In coming months, it will be interesting to watch as our current elected officials – and their overpaid senior staff – set about beating any sense of independent thought out of Ms. Burnette in favor of the lock-step conformity that perpetuates this culture of malignant mediocrity.
Good luck, Ms. Burnette. You’re gonna need it. . .
Quote of the Week
“Thank you to all the candidates that ran in 2020 that put in their time to talk with voters about their solutions for the issues we face today!
Win or lose, you gave voters a choice that best aligned with the values of the voters that voted for you. I encourage anyone who cared enough to vote to continue to care enough to get involved in making improvements for whichever issue you care about at the city level, county level, state level, or federal level. Be the change you wish to see.”
–Joe Hannoush, Ormond Beach, former Libertarian candidate for Florida House of Representatives District 25, Letters to the Editor, Ormond Beach Observer, “A thank you to all that ran,” Monday, November 9, 2020
Well said, Joe.
Thank you for participating in such a meaningful way – and for running a clean, issues-focused campaign.
We need more of that.
You brought a touch of class to what is becoming a very dirty, divisive, and unappealing process in Volusia County and beyond.
And Another Thing!
The essential right of free citizens is the ability to change our leaders, make choices on public policies that effect our lives, defend against limitations on our God-given rights and express our collective will from the sovereignty and secrecy of the ballot box.
There are a lot of things wrong with Volusia County government.
Our ability to conduct free, fair, and trustworthy elections isn’t one of them.
Kudos to Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis and her outstanding staff for their hard work and dedication to our democratic principles during the record setting 2020 election.
In my view, Ms. Lewis and her staff were a trusted anchor during a very turbulent time – always mindful of the importance of preserving the public’s confidence in the system – and the courteous efficiency exhibited during early voting and on election day set a very high bar.
The Volusia County Supervisor of Elections office deserves the thanks and admiration of all area citizens who participated in our most sacred right of self-determination.
You did us proud, Ms. Lewis.
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend, y’all!