Sometimes I am astounded at just how tone-deaf our Halifax area ‘movers-and-shakers’ can be.
Call it an obtuse insensitivity to what the average Volusia County resident is feeling – or a complete inability to grasp what those trying desperately to eke out a living in this artificial economy experience in a skewed marketplace, where incentives and cash infusions go to some well-connected businesses, while others are allowed to wither and die – and you see just how out-of-touch some “very important people” in our community truly are.
In his usually cogent piece in Sunday’s Daytona Beach News-Journal, editor Pat Rice voiced the opinion that newly elected Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower is the one who needs to “mend fences” with the same uber-wealthy political insiders who did everything in their sizeable power to block his election while pouring massive amounts of cash into his challenger’s campaign account – collectively pissing away hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in the worse investment of their lives.
Now, Mr. Brower is the one who should make-nice and mend fences?
Despite Mr. Rice’s pathological need to publicly smooch the backsides of King J. Hyatt Brown, Mori Hosseini, Glenn Ritchey, and their cronies at that mysterious camera stellata over at the Volusia CEO Business Alliance – the fact is, Volusia County voters just sent a resounding message that they are sick and tired of business as usual – and, through their sacred vote – are actively throwing off the traces of pay-to-play politics and the long-standing good ol’ boy network that facilitates it.
Frankly, I find it rich that Mr. Rice, who lightly veiled his active support for Mr. Brower’s opponent in a gauzy attempt to avoid the appearance of bias, believes that our new County Chair should immediately acquiesce to the status quo, and embrace a system where a mega-developer – not those we elect to represent our interests – controls the flow of funding from the state legislature – and gazillionaires feed greedily at the public trough as they pad their private projects with our tax dollars and act like they’re doing us a favor.
And don’t get me started on that sham known as Team Volusia – which is little more than a publicly funded international travel club for its upper-crust do-nothings – who never met a low-hanging warehouse job they didn’t like. . .
When Mr. Rice mewls about how difficult it is to attract new business to Volusia County – and those elusive “high-paying jobs” that always seem just beyond our grasp – perhaps he should consider that many companies don’t want to locate their operation in an environment where a few well-heeled insiders have suppressed civic, social, and economic progress in favor of private profits, monopolized the political landscape by insulating city/county executives, and skewed the local marketplace for decades.
“In the end, the county chair is just another member of the County Council. The position’s power is largely symbolic. And mandates are fleeting.”
I wonder how different that quote from Mr. Rice’s lecture might have been had Dishonest Deb Denys come away from this knife-fight victorious?
In my view, it is high time that the editor of what’s left of our local newspaper – and those who have used wealth, power, and the privilege that comes when smart people in public office equate the size of one’s bank account with the clarity of their civic vision – comes to the realization that We, The Little People, have spoken.
And that rallying cry was not limited to the Volusia County Council.
In Daytona Beach, political newcomer Stacy Cantu routed entrenched incumbent Rob Gilliland – who never met a massive theme development he didn’t like – and championed the sprawl which now blankets our aquifer recharge areas off Boomtown Boulevard west of I-95.
Clearly, taxpayers are no longer content to discuss decades-old issues at contrived coffee klatches while our core tourist area and beachside gateway continues to rot – a malignant blight that is repellant to entrepreneurial investment – while established businesses find a way to relocate to surrounding communities who are welcoming them with open arms.
In Sunday’s News-Journal editorial, “A county faces change,” which was collocated next to Mr. Rice’s piece, our local newspaper opined:
“Brower, in particular, should reach out to groups like the CEO Business Alliance, ensuring the county’s participation on the economic-development team that helps recruit good jobs. He may have run against the local power structure, but as county chair he has a duty to build alliances that work toward Volusia County’s best interests.”
For far too long the power dynamic in Volusia County has required the peoples elected representatives kowtow before the insiders who hold title on their political future as they obsequiously genuflect before their monarchial overseers, hat in hand, and seek permission before invariably acting contrary to the interests of their constituents.
Now, it is time for our greedy former ‘power brokers’ to assume their place in line – no better or worse than any other taxpaying citizen of Volusia County – and participate in a true democratic system of governance where massive campaign contributions to hand-select candidates no longer rules the day – or influences lopsided policies that control our lives and livelihoods.
In my view, Mr. Rice should understand that Jeff Brower isn’t beholden to anyone but those elected him to high office – and he isn’t required to grovel to special interests – especially those who worked (and spent) so desperately to silence his message, besmirch his character, and protect the status quo.
The balance of power just returned where it rightfully belongs – with the citizens of Volusia County.
Get used to it.