Call me a soothsayer – but I knew this shit was going to happen. . .
When the CDC announced the COVID-19 vaccine priority groups – which rightfully give precedence to the elderly and infirm over the young and healthy, as well as essential healthcare workers battling the virus on the frontline – I joked with friends that I was trying to figure a way to weasel my way to the front of the line, given the fact I can easily pass for 85 years old. . .
I knew in my heart that this sick joke of mine would eventually become a reality, as craven members of our “power elite” jump the line on the flimsy excuse of ‘setting the example,’ as they put their own selfish, lily-livered interests above those most at risk.
On Wednesday, my worst fears came true when Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry epitomized the arrogance of power by placing himself above his elderly, infirm, and most vulnerable constituents – abusing his status as a low wattage political hack – to receive the vaccine at Halifax Health ahead of first-responders, EMS personnel, police officers, firefighters, telecommunicators, postal workers, grocery clerks, truck drivers, aged shut-ins who have been living in near total isolation for a year, essential workers, your grandparents, etc., etc.
I mean, did he use the patented Henry “Do you know who I am?” technique – or the vainglorious “Look at me, I’m setting an example for you” ruse?
Rather than wait his turn behind those who are 65 and over – or the men and women who are bravely exposing themselves to provide care and comfort to those afflicted – in my view, Mayor Henry commits the dreadful act of a base coward – the equivalent of throwing women and children out of a lifeboat – in a craven move to save himself.
It was the ultimate in political privilege and gross entitlement – a gutless politician boasting of his elite status on social media from the very hospital where coronavirus victims lay sick and dying.
At a time when we desperately need service-based leadership from our elected and appointed officials – the essence of which is placing the safety and comfort of others before their own – we are forced to watch in utter disgust as tin-pot politicians shove the weak and susceptible out of their way.
In my view, Mayor Henry lost the moral authority to lead the exact second he ensured his personal protection over those who need it most.
Unfortunately, Derrick Henry is not alone.
Frightened politicians at all levels of government have shamed themselves in the face of this public health crisis on both sides of aisle, using their haughty positions to receive preferential treatment – while those who truly need it are forced to stand in queue for what remains – or die alone in a hospital bed.
This isn’t ‘politics’ – its a shameful lack of courage in the face of danger.
Fortunately, in the wake of Mayor Henry’s reprehensible act, brave leaders like Sheriff Mike Chitwood and New Smyrna Mayor Russ Owen have publicly condemned the spineless practice of politicians cutting the inoculation line.
According to Sheriff Chitwood, “We don’t need every Congressman, every Governor, every Mayor and every Sheriff in America taking a valuable vaccine dose just to send a message. The message I want to send is that those who need the vaccine should get it before any politician. Get the vulnerable onto the lifeboats first before you save yourself.”
That is what leadership looks like, folks.
We are hearing from a hodgepodge of social media sites, Tweets, and conflicting news blurbs that early next week, Volusia County residents 65+ will have the option of traveling all the way out to Daytona Stadium on LPGA Boulevard and entering “The Thunderdome” – a dystopian first come, first served drive-thru free-for-all where you may, or may not, receive an inoculation from what the Florida Department of Health has described as a “limited supply.”
The vaccination site is being “managed” by the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County in partnership with the City of Daytona Beach.
No appointments. No reservations. All the organization of a cattle stampede.
Because that’s how we do it in Volusia County. . .
In my view, Mayor Henry should immediately resign and make way for someone – anyone – with the physical, mental, and moral fortitude to lead during these dangerous and difficult times.