Illegitimi non carborundum

For those keeping score, today we mark yet another small victory over COVID-19 as the Volusia County Council resurrects the ostentatious practice of packing the Ocean Center with local politicians, their respective camarillas, and various hangers-on, for a “free lunch” – complete with tall tales about “accomplishments” and how wonderful we have it here on Florida’s fabled Fun Coast.

It is the one day each year (outside the dreaded campaign season) when our elected officials come down from their gilded perch in the Ivory Tower of Power and rub shoulders with us rabble who pay the bills – slapping each other on the back and fawning over their political benefactors in an ostentatious display of public bootlicking that reminds all of us where the true power resides. . . 

In a departure from past years, when the soiree was funded by government contractors and other corporations and individuals who make their living on the public dole, we’re told there were enough private “donations” left over from last year to support today’s Bacchanalia of Bullshit.

My hope is that our “new” County Chairman Jeff Brower – a straight shooter who is working hard to stay true to his word despite withering opposition – will tell it like it is, rather than spin a fantasy yarn like his predecessors were so famous for.

As our ‘powers that be’ gather to be recognized, my mind drifts to the state of local politics – and a simmering undercurrent of organized treachery and deceit that has all the earmarks of a cheap coup d’état in the making – something that Chairman Brower should not dismiss going forward. 

For instance: 

A delegation of old fogeys from the Republican Executive Committee of Volusia County attended the Volusia County Council meeting last week to parsimoniously spurn the idea of spending ECHO funds (which uses a fraction of our property taxes to preserve and protect environmental, cultural, historical, and outdoor recreational amenities) for the purchase of 39-acres of, well, historically significant and environmentally sensitive land adjacent to Ormond’s scenic loop. 

In my view, their presence in the chamber had nothing to do with the expenditure of ECHO funds, and everything to do with an on-going concerted effort by the Old Guard to force Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower into the round hole of lockstep conformity – one that assures the development of public policy will remain the exclusive domain of a few uber-wealthy insiders with the wherewithal to pay-to-play. 

In Volusia County politics, regardless of party or political views, once We, The People elect someone we feel will best represent our interests, the ‘powers that be’ – who have crafted an oligarchical “government” in their own craven image – begin the process of forcing fealty to the “system.” 

Although Chairman Brower is a staunch republican and self-described “constitutionalist,” he boldly ran on a platform of returning government to the people of Volusia County – a notion that was rejected by both the Democratic party apparatus (who tried their best to torpedo Brower by insinuating a no-name third candidate) – and the fusty Republican hierarchy, who remained loyal to the conformism and conventionality represented by former Chair Ed Kelly, and his heir apparent, the now washed-up Councilwoman Deb Denys.

Then, on Sunday, The Daytona Beach News-Journal ran a Your Turn op/ed by guest columnist Tom Coriale – who also happens to be the Vice Chairman of the Republican Executive Committee of Volusia County – entitled, “Loop vote: Politics as usual,” which began: 

“OK, I get it. Politicians make promises. Our county chair campaigned that the ECHO and Volusia Forever funds would be transparent, follow the requirements and wouldn’t be used any longer as a slush fund. So, here we are and ECHO is being used to buy land to appease special interests for no-growth and land conservation.”

Then, Mr. Coriale threw in an odd line, “Of course, special interest groups cannot be denied and I expect that some will rebut me and label me.” 

Part of that whole self-affected partisan paranoia that is rife on both sides of the isle, I suppose. . . 

I am assuming these formidable “special interests” Mr. Coriale is referring to are the diminutive Suzanne Schieber – an Ormond Beach grassroots environmentalist – and Natalie Pilipczak – a Port Orange High School student, who worked hard to collect over 71,000 signatures and some $26,000 in private donations to help protect a historically significant section of the Ormond Scenic Loop which was in imminent danger of falling to a developer’s bulldozer? 

The fact is, while “politicians make promises,” precious few live up to those pledges – and while the concept of standing firm to one’s word may (understandably) be a foreign concept to partisan political operatives in Volusia County – Chairman Brower is working hard to change the tradition of bait-and-switch politics we have all come to expect. 

In a strange stretch, Mr. Coriale harrumphed, “So, here we are. The ECHO funds are again being used as a slush fund. . .”

No, they aren’t.

But why waste a good opportunity to paint Chairman Brower as an irresponsible spendthrift – a tree-hugging dirt-worshiper whose only goal is to satiate rabid environmentalists with an agenda, eh?

Bullshit.  

Clearly, Chairman Brower showed the nimbleness to seize a fleeting opportunity to save a threatened section of the Old Kings Road and accompanying archeologically significant sites, while expanding a conservation buffer to protect sensitive wildlife habitat and specimen hardwoods – the very definition of Volusia ECHO’s purpose.   

And he did it in less than 90-days. . . 

In my view, that quick thinking, and ability to move rapidly to see the interests of his long-suffering constituents met in a timely fashion, has upset the stodgy Good ‘ol Boys Club who’s legendary can kicking has kept Volusia County dragging on the hind teat of Central Florida’s civic and economic growth for decades.

All while true special interests, a controlling cabal with all the right last names and the wherewithal to fund the political campaigns of their malleable marionettes, receive untold millions in corporate welfare, “economic incentives,” and perquisites all backed by public funds (read: our hard-earned tax dollars).

Something’s up, folks. . . 

Add to the mounting evidence last week’s goofy diatribe by District 3 Councilman Danny Robins – which now appears to have been a weird semaphore to commence hostilities against the Chairman – a self-aggrandizing screed that resulted in a synchronized attack from the dais – and the sudden appearance of Port Orange Councilman Chase Tramont – another Darling of the Donor Class – who threw his hat in the ring nearly two-years early for the District 2 seat now held by the lockstep loyalist Billie Wheeler – and one gets the idea this is a coordinated effort to neuter Chairman Brower and crush any opposition to the status quo. 

In my view, these treacherous machinations represent the true state of Volusia County government in 2021.

Rotting from the core and as screwed up as it ever was. . .

What does an incredibly popular elected official do when he is under direct attack by the forces of mediocrity? 

What can the Chairman of the Volusia County Council do when he finds himself equally hated (and feared) by the loyal Republican and Democratic apparatchiks who see their death grip on the public purse strings threatened by a return to an actual local government – one of the people, by the people, and for the people?

In my opinion, if he is true to those who cast their sacred vote in the fervent hope that they might have valued input in their system of governance – you live up to the promises made – damn the slings and arrows of those craven greed-heads who, up until now, have controlled everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tide here on the Fun Coast.

And, above all, you tell the truth.

Then, Chairman Brower can rest comfortable in the knowledge there is a tsunami of change coming in Volusia County’s 2022 elections – a quantum purge that will give these ass kissing loyalists who continue to mistake the size of one’s bank account with their civic vision something to think about as they sit on the sidelines.    

Rest easy, Chairman Brower – don’t let the bastards wear you down.    

15 thoughts on “Illegitimi non carborundum

  1. Vote in all elections this coming year as we need to get rid of what we have in local,state and national sludge.Your life depends on it and life is too short.Start getting younger people in politics not the good ole boys.Demographics are changing and one day you turn around and find out the home you inherited is going to be taxed 45% by an old man who played the game for 50 years.

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  2. BRAVO Mr. Barker! A well written and complete assessment of the Republican “leadership” of this county (the word leadership put in quotations because their actions are anything but leadership….unless you develop property or have a big checkbook). As a lifelong Republican….the first in my family of staunch Southern Democrats…….I have grown increasingly disgusted with the national Republican party over the past 25+ years. In the past several years I have extended my displeasure to the Volusia County Republican Executive Committee. A few years ago, in an effort to “get involved” for my community, I actually attended several of the REC meetings. I was so nauseated by what I saw that I had to leave the room before I found myself projectile vomiting. My disdain for the local apparatus culminated in their actions/inactions/behavior in last year’s November election. To demonstrate how inept the REC is at representing the citizens, prior to last year’s election they couldn’t even figure out to change the voicemail at the Republican Headquarters leading up to one the the most meaningful elections in American history. I guess this voicemail technology thing stumped Paul Deering, because a call to the Republican Headquarters in October 2020 found the caller routed to the voicemail of the deceased former Chairman of the REC giving directions on how to place an order for his business. A look back at the record of the REC over the past six months finds them 0-3, having conspiculously (to anyone paying attention) backed Deb Denys and Barbara Bonnarigo in races that were supposed to be “non-partisan” (the Republican Old Guard of this county never saw a non-partisan election they didn’t feel the need to poke their nose into) and now The Loop. In some sports leagues a record of 0-3 would get the coach fired. So you might think that after these defeats at the hands of the residents of the county the REC would see a need to change their ways. But, alas, the introduction of one of their own, Chase Tramont, into the county council race two years before the election…..and to “coincidentally” coincide with Billie Wheeler’s announcement…..would make it appear not. So, what to do for a Republican that wants change? We can take a lesson from both Jeff Brower’s victory and from the efforts of Suzanne and Natalie. We need a groundswell of Republicans to push for a different candidate in District 2, then support that candidate using the same anti-establishment strategies that won Jeff Brower his seat. Second, we need to take the lesson from Suzanne and Natalie that a grassroots effort can be effective. We need a grassroots effort of Republicans who, like me, are fed up with the status quo and want to see someone besides the long-term players lead the party. Change should be coming. Change MUST be coming if the citizens of this county are to expect their interests are being represented and not just those of some well-heeled or well-connected donor class. A “quantum purge” indeed.

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    1. Douglas I am a registered Dem for 50 years from Brooklyn NY but only because I am too lazy to change to Independent.Most politicians are corrupt thats why they become politicians.I dont vote Dem other than the primary as I see this country going to hell under Dems.We spend too much time talking baby shit about Volusia County.Have no idea how you people let Deny ot Derrick Henry with a nasty past get in office.Someone who is not a good ole boy gets to replace Deny and now you all bitch.Watch Biden tonight and see your 401k go to hell .Must be a government worker to keep a pension.My friends daughter when she started to work for the post off ice was told by her fellow workers to slow down you make us look bad but now she is a postmaster but that is government workers thinking .The Dem progressive socialists wlll destroy thus country.I am very happy to live in Ormond beach than when I lived in Coral Springs or West Palm Beach. By the way tried calling the Daytona NAACP after Orlando invades Daytona and no one picks up their phone either.My wife and I live on social security and our 401k and thats it.Dems stick together and the GOP have no loyalty to other members.

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  3. Brower got off to a rocky start with his advocating STR, short term rentals in residential neighborhoods.
    Hope you’re not for that right, which is a justification to ignore our codes and protect family neighborhoods.

    My guess is you’re in danger of losing supporters also.

    He’s not as sharp as you give him credit for.

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  4. Tremont, are you kidding? He is on the First Step Shelter Board who is overseeing the ineptness of running the first step shelter. A woman was killed in an auto accident while going to her first job while participating in the first step shelter “Program”. Why, cause the director of the shelter is running the shelter into the ground and is a 9 to 5 director.

    Transportation is availble to the shelter participants if needed to their jobs.
    Not that morning though when the lady was killed. The shelter director neglected to provide a ride to work for the lady who got killed. Total incompetence. And Tramont is the the shelter board.

    Wheeler? are you kidding? Did nothing all this time and continues to do nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dwayne Akin you must not have your eyes on the future. Vacation rentals are now a thing in all the most successful Florida counties. The people are demanding it in much the same way they demanded Uber/Lift, legal booze (prohibition), and women voters (suffrage). If Volusia doesn’t get on the bandwagon, it WILL be left behind. AirBnB/VRBO have created the demand. If Volusia doesn’t provide the supply, tourists will go to where there is a supply. Ask your local business owners “You are okay with limiting the amount of visitors to the county, right?” I guess you would like more big corporate hotels to come in with their low-wage no benefit jobs instead of empowering homeowners to capitalize on this new trend in vacation travel. Volusia businesses need every advantage to recover post-covid. Why would you push away the income?

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  6. Dwayne Akin you must not have your eyes on the future. Vacation rentals are now a thing in all the most successful Florida counties. The people are demanding it in much the same way they demanded Uber/Lift, legal booze (prohibition), and women voters (suffrage). If Volusia doesn’t get on the bandwagon, it WILL be left behind. AirBnB/VRBO have created the demand. If Volusia doesn’t provide the supply, tourists will go to where there is a supply. Ask your local business owners “You are okay with limiting the amount of visitors to the county, right?” I guess you would like more big corporate hotels to come in with their low-wage no benefit jobs instead of empowering homeowners to capitalize on this new trend in vacation travel. Volusia businesses need every advantage to recover post-covid. Why would you push away the income?

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  7. Enjoyed your post. I was at the State of the County. The only thing better than Chairman Brower’s comments to close was that bourbon bread pudding.

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  8. I pray Chairman Brower and his family have the pluck and wherewithal (and I fervently believe they do!) to deflect the slings and arrows of the corrupt. Please, Mr. Brower, take heart — you are obviously over the target(s)!

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  9. By the way, the entrenched utterly despise the fact that Chairman Brower has immense popularity and support from we the little people. Remind you of anything?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yep. The County Republican leadership is Anti-Trump. Against its rank and file’s wishes. Denys distributed Anti-Trump fliers, which the leadership did not condemn . She had Kelly’s wife fleeing an early voting venue in tears. And most of the rest of the council, except Heather Post, in my opinion, are “running dogs” for the real estate developers. Wake up Volusia County. You get the exact kind of government you deserve. Right on target Barker. Expect flak.

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  11. Mark Barker, I’ve got to hand it to you with your no-holds barred segment on the latest political theater on and off the dais of the Frank T. Bruno Jr. County Council Chambers in DeLand. You and I certainly have different approaches in presentation and appearance, but we are not all that different in trying to get to the bottom line as to why or why not political paralysis is in play. We go back 25 years to the mid-’90s – you as Holly Hill police chief and yours truly as the metro cops & courts reporter at the Daytona Beach News-Journal when it actually allowed legit news coverage outside of politics or the arts (the latter the Davidson Family’s priority). Before reacting to some of your key concerns in your latest blog supporting Jeff Brower, let’s take a walk down memory lane for a cost comparison between the recent Loop funding approval and politicians of yesteryear who doled out 55 times as much without blinking an eye.Having worked over county politicians and influential insiders, some 6 to 8 times as much as the $1M for the Loo preservation funding. But as much as they (patriarch Tippen Davidson and the DBNJ’s general counsel, Jon Kaney, leaned on the politicians yo get their insider friends to pony up cash, but with reality setting in that unless they could come up with another $11 million, their Taj Mahal was nothing more than a pipe dream. So they turned to Plan B, raiding their minority partner’s finances – sight unseen. After all, Cox News’ home turf was Atlanta. A federal lawsuit followed (which I had to cover) in US District Court in Orlando, my stories re-written with a directive from the attorney – never mind the facts had to be excised for the ownership’s benefit – damned be the public and byline reporter the next morning. Kaney & Co. were counting on this magistrate favoring the home team, considering he lived in Daytona. The Davidsons lost everything, but not before Tippen Davidson, died suddenly, before the court-ordered fire-sale to make Cox whole led to the ruination of a daily newspaper that had a paid daily circulation of 102,000 and ranked at the tail-end of the top 100 largest metros. Because I was among the highest paid reporters ( $55,000 salary matching the 55  journalism awards – more than anyone else) I was among the first batch of staffers shown the door. By the time the paper finally had new owners (glad handing Pat Rice given the reigns of the newsroom, what had been 900-plus employees prior to the lawsuit, was down to a couple hundred. In the last several years, the total number is less than 40 – printing presses dismantled and editing done from a warehouse in Texas among a multitude of sister papers under upstate-NY based Gatehouse Media, a bottom feeding chamber friendly approach to news for advertising crumbs, there was a merger with Gannett (USA Today flagship), Rice has had to further refine his glad-handing, taking his cues from County Manager George Recktenwald for unabashed promotion of two insider billionaires — J Hyatt Brown of Brown & Brown Insurance & NASCAR CEO Jim France trying to stop the bleeding at Daytona International Speedway in recent years (and worsened in this pandemic). But it’s not Brown nor is it France – throwing a few pennies Rice’s way. It’s Recktenwald & his overpaid underlings. Consider the fact that the influential insiders are the ones who bankroll the political campaigns of politicians expected to submit no matter how ludicrous as there is no shame in Recktenwald or his predecessor Jim Dinneen facilitating making it all sound so necessary when it is the taxpayers getting fleeced. Who can forget the billionaire France Family squeezing a collective $40 million from the county and municipal politicians for their One Daytona retail/condo complex across from the Speedway.So yeah, County Chair Brower deserves credit for the unanimous vote to green light the Loop. But that wasn’t because of Brower as much as the countless Loop activists reminding these bickering politicians that with $70,000-plus signatures on a change.org petition, most, if not all seven of these politicians could be  politicians could be replaced by candidates willing to support this cause. When you have a retired Circuit Judge in Joe Will using his charm in support of the citizens with their rally signs, would you have expected anything less than a unanimous vote? No! But here is where I feel Brower is his own worst enemy in being ganged up on. Yes, Brower-Heather Post is a potent 1-2 punch, but still not the 4-3 needed for Brower to turn on the jets. You dismissed fellow newcomer Danny Robins, but he had the right to take a stand. Then he showed up on Bernier and retreated.  The real paralysis that will hold back Brower is the paralysis of Ben Johnson-Heather Post. Brower and Post can huff and puff until the cows come home, but for the next year, it will remain 2-5. Lowry and Wheeler will be out of thr picture a year from now, but with a seasoned Chase Tramont replacing Wheeler, it will come down to who takes Lowry’s seat and what direction Barbara Girtman does. I have no issue with you. I have no interest policing Brower or anyone else. I have learned over the years that in the long run, the journalism I practice may be vastly different from your blogging self-expression. I owe nothing to Brower, Post, Johnson, Girtman, Lowry, Wheeler or Robins. I have amassed 115 journalism awards to date, more than half online since 2012. With mu. second COVID shot moving closer to the two-week window, maybe sometime I can drive over to Dasytona and we can get lunch. Would also welcome the two of us on a radio show looking at the big picture as we see it and what if anything can be done to let the masses know what we know and why it should or could matter to them. Never a dull moment…
    Thanks, Mark

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    1. Henry Frederick I see you publish Headline Surfer online.Most current story I read today is two days old.You sound like a has been with one advertiser a pet place.I have my place to read about Volusia and that is with Barker.See ya somewhere.Guess you went on here to get your name out there.Guess he has more people reading him than you.

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      1. Peter whatever your last name is (too cowardly to identify yourself by full name), why the need for the personal attack? A “has been” with one advertiser – a pet place? “A has been” you say? No! Not by a long shot: Just a member of the working press who continues to deal with serious recurring health issues stenmming from an aneurysm five years ago. So easy to judge someone you don’t even know or whose life circumstances once in focus make you look as small as a cockroach. As for one advertiser – a pet place – that would be “Pro Pet Place” in Deltona. Would I like more ads? Of course, but there’s this global pandemic of the past year or so called “COVID-19” aka the “coronavirus.” Stick with Mr. Barker – he’s a cool dude. You, Peter (whatever last name) are uncool. As or your guesses, you are clueless on both counts, but that’s OK considering: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers; A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?” Go figure…

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      2. Henry Frederick this is a reply to your pickled peppers.Had two major operations this year and get my stitches out Wednesday and on chemo for a year.Want to take a bet on who lives longer.LMAO at the pickled peppers.Maybe I will see you being interviewd on tv or radio one of these days.Have a great life.Yours truly the cockroach

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