“What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate. . .”

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate. . .”

–Strother Martin as “The Captain,” Cool Hand Luke, 1967

My wife Patti and I have been together for many years – more than half our lives (or so it seems) – and we still have trouble communicating on a basic level.   

In fact, we have been together so long that we mostly make ourselves understood through a series of grunts, body language interpretation, or crude proto-cuneiform notes that only we can decipher – a weird marital telepathy that I get right about 40% of the time.

Just yesterday I was explaining some abstract concept to her about my plans to go to the grocery store – and she looked at me like I was speaking some obscure Běifānghuà dialect, an ancient Sinitic language not heard by human ears since the Great Yuan dynasty – and, without breaking her blank expression, said:

“What the hell are you talking about?”  

I leaned in and clearly enunciated each syllable: “I-am-going-to-Publix-do-you-need-anything?” 

And, through our impenetrable uncommunicative fog, my wife and I finally connected!

On this singular issue, for one brief moment, we actually understood each other – as it turns out, we needed milk. . .

In Volusia County, we have experienced a collective feeling of alienation – an almost mass miscommunication that has left many feeling unacknowledged on the important issues of the day. 

When I sit on a barstool and talk local politics with the taxpayer sitting next to me or discuss mutual concerns with my neighbors on the street, most tell me that the malignant sprawl west of I-95 in the City of Daytona Beach is the single greatest threat to our quality of life.

A close second is their collective anxiety over the horrible mismanagement of our beach by a detached bureaucratic apparatus that has left our hard-to-access and overregulated strand looking like a haunted forest of wooden poles, plastic stakes, and do-this-don’t-do-that signage – all while our disconnected ‘powers that be’ continue to tell themselves that the price of a day at the beach is still within reach in a place where 40% of households do not earn enough to consistently cover basic living expenses. 

40 percent.    

When you add a growing sense in our neighborhoods that the individual has no real say in the civic direction of the Halifax area and beyond – a perception that the needs of families and the contributions of their struggling small businesses are ignored – there is a growing perception of marginalization as we watch those with influence openly access public funds to underwrite private profit motives and downplay those simple quality of life issues which are important to us. 

When Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower ran for office against an entrenched insider who everyone who is anyone just knew was a shoo-in – he did something unheard of in local politics and took the time to listen to his neighbors – not while sipping chardonnay at flashy fundraisers sponsored by uber-wealthy powerbrokers, but at bar-b-ques, small gatherings in living rooms, and in those places where real people live, learn, work and play – and his campaign took on a grassroots importance – a feeling that he was interested in those issues the “average citizen” (read: you and I) find important in our daily lives.

It is almost like We, The Little People, and those we elect to represent our interests on the dais of power are on two different frequencies – a ‘bad connection’ that has left us unable to communicate on any substantive level. 

It is part of why I abhor the overformal pageantry of things like the State of the County Address – where our elected Monarchy get dressed in their finery, luncheon among their “Rich & Powerful” benefactors, and spend a couple of hours talking down to their long-suffering constituents through stilted video productions leaving no legitimate way of sharing ideas, exchanging information, expressing our feelings, and gaining mutual understanding.

To add insult, what passes for ‘Public Participation’ in government meetings throughout Volusia County has taken on an insulting sense of unwanted formality – where our elected officials limit their audience to three-minutes and give off a palpable vibe they would rather be anywhere else than listening to the yakety-yak of concerned residents who took the time out of their day to be heard. 

In my view, it is this fundamental lack of effective communication that has resulted in much of the dysfunction and distrust that has hampered substantive progress for far too long.

On Sunday, The Daytona Beach News-Journal ran a frontpage feature by business writer Clayton Park entitled: “Fears of Volusia overdevelopment: Surge in new homes, commercial projects raises concerns over green space, water resources.” 

It was clear that both sides of the very contentious issue of overdevelopment are speaking two different languages – distinct mindsets where one side sees the benefits of greenspace, protecting our sensitive ecology, and ensuring a safe supply of potable water for future generations – while those in the development and real estate industry never saw a virgin forest (or golf course, cemetery, etc.) that they didn’t at least subliminally consider how many homesites they could shoehorn onto it at the cheapest possible price.

For instance, while Chairman Brower was concerned about the “floodgates” opening on new home construction, apartment projects and commercial development throughout Volusia County – the effects of which we can already see, feel, and experience with our own senses – Carl Lentz, a former Daytona Beach City Commissioner and current managing director of SVN Alliance Commercial Real Estate Advisors, who, according to Mr. Park’s report, have brokered many of the land sales along the Boomtown Boulevard area of LPGA, would have us believe:

“The LPGA area was planned for this kind of growth,” he (Lentz) said. “People are getting sticker shock at seeing it all at once as opposed to gradually. Had it been gradual growth over the years people wouldn’t be complaining about it.”

Whose fault is that? 

There is a reason the word “planning” typically comes before “development” – and given the pressure on our already overburdened transportation infrastructure and aquifer recharge areas – anticipating issues and preparing for them is something Mr. Lentz and his fellow elected officials had no apparent interest in when they served as rubberstamps for aggressive developers. 

It appears like this breakdown is an almost strategic ignorance – saying one thing while knowing full well the destructive possibilities of the monster you have created.  

Regardless, it is not “sticker shock” – because we had no say in the sale – rather, it is a well-founded fear among existing residents that we have permitted too much, too soon – and the adverse effects are beginning to show themselves areawide. 

Perhaps now it is becoming clear why we were placed in this dangerous predicament in the first place, eh?

The more disturbing question is how deep into our municipal and county government processes does this strategic ignorance go – this intentional failure to communicate

An entrenched system where ignorance serves as a productive asset and allows those in positions of power to plausibly deny culpability in the aftermath of this looming crisis.

Points to ponder while you are sitting in gridlocked traffic on Granada Boulevard this week. . .

9 thoughts on ““What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate. . .”

  1. Granada ave ,should remove all center islands, and remove all green spaces and set backs. What makes me laugh is lots of people living in ormond had a hand in Daytona’s boom. Now they can enjoy fruits of their labors while sitting in traffic on Granada. meantime traffic in Daytona beachside is pretty sparse except during events. Thank you ormond for helping with traffic problems from overdevelopement. Barker great observations as always.


    1. What did Ormond Beach have to do with Minto,ICI or Avalon.?You have no traffic in beachside Daytona because it is an old shithole with crime and drugs.You can no longer drive down Williamson from Advent south without construction to on both sides of LPGA.Widening LPGA from Strickland south but leaving Advent one lane in each direction.Talk to Derrick Henry if you want to see who wants Daytona tuned into Palm Beach County.Ormond Beach will get those wanting to drive to the beach.At 2:30 Granada is a standstill at Tomoka Elementary.Ted you talking out of your butt. Ted what ever happened to Avalons million dollar bond or the widening of the LPGA bridge Beat Kahli was going to do.Now they are talking about expanding Dunn and a Hand Ave bridge.This has to stop for a while.Media wants a sales tax kike to pay for infrastructure .Raise the inpact fees as I paid in my taxes in West Palm Beach 500 dollars a year for ten years to widen a road in front of my deverlopment.I am married 49 yers Mark and know the feeling.


      1. Shithole comment is a ad hominem. Enjoy your traffic on Granada. Traffic is only going to get worse. Most people who put down Daytona don’t live in Daytona. Enjoy your palm beach traffic along with higher taxes.


      2. Ted What did Ormond Beach have to do with the shit in Daytona? .We did not elect your mayor.the dope.Who the hell are you to tell us to remove the beautiful center islands now with palm trees.Maybe we caused the traffic on route 1 during bike week or jeep week in Ormond.I am embarrassed to bring guests to Daytona Beach.Even your restaurants are garbage.We did not get 40 million for one Daytona or the perks for Tanger Outlet.My family drove here 2 weeks ago and laughed as they said now Daytona in known more for Buc-ee’s that the speedway.Have you been in your midtown or main street lately? Have a great life in Daytona.One more time .WHAT DID ORMOND BEACH HAVE TO DO WITH YOUR CLUSTER?Talk to your garbage mayor you people reelected who will keep building getting a wholesale rate for water and sewage from us for Avalon.Henry sees dollar signs while Henry charges retail for water and sewage for Avalon.That garbage mayor should have had the LPGA bridge widened before anymore building.


    1. Daytona is going to continue to grow. Study years back talked about Granada redo. Thank u Control your anger when driving in bumper to bumper traffic on Granada . Traffic is only going to get worse . Maybe high and mighty ormond should talk to Daytona about ormond s traffic problems. I’m sure Daytona will give u some great advice on what to do !😂 Enjoy your palms when sitting in traffic. Daytona rules ormond drools.😂


  2. That was well written Mark. I discussed the LPGA cancer with Clay Ervin at a meeting with Attorneys from Tallahassee, and that is so dead to the point in what you mentioned regarding sticker shock. I was bewildered at that meeting however, I noted a light between the lines of that dialog we all had, that being, if someone or somebody got off their ass, and with some elbow grease, much of this growth could be adverted. But it would be a fight. I don’t believe anyone now or in the future who wish to run for a local office has that ability to truly fight for their community, it is already broken. The charm is gone. Further you plagiarized (Another words, you stated my sentiments) my thoughts of Granada, even this morning as I tried to go to work here in HH.


  3. I’ve never gone to a Volusia County CC meeting, but I’ve been to MANY City of Ormond Beach CC mtgs & after about 3 years of steady attendance and speaking your piece when necessary (& you don’t give it to someone else as they only allow 3 stinking mins), I gave up – what’s the point? They don’t listen – they’re like petulant children! Granada Boulevard was brought up a couple of years ago (maybe 3?) – it’s COB’s only access to the beach & our only main east-west thoroughfare. Also, the Hand Avenue extension – as far as I know, none of the residents want it and it will only make the traffic worse – and the cost? It increases every time they bring it up (shocker – I know) – no one would benefit from that (with the exception of the new Daytona residents going in Avalon (or whatever) – so they’d have a 2nd road to avoid Granada – but like the boys fighting above – they both make valid points – the LPGA bridge should have been widened PRIOR to any home building. I’ve been focused on OB because that’s where I live & work (full time) – I know plenty of people who are involved/volunteer (I used to back in the day when I worked part time) and I just can’t get involved w/County – I voted for Jeff & Heather & I know they’re doing their best, but I can’t vote the other clowns out of office – I tried w/COB CC & we got closer, but we’re still stuck w/the good old boys & we have development everywhere – pretty soon we won’t be able to fight as there’ll be no oxygen left as all the trees will be gone . . . .


  4. Daytona will never be West Palm Beach because of one thing “CLIMATE” rich Yankmees moved from the cold to be warm year round and Daytona still gets Cold ! Yes no snow but living here for 5 or more years thins your blood. Also there aren’t enough golf courses or Mega Marina’s along the coast. POOPYWATERS can dream but that’s all it is ! Plus he’ll be gone soon enough!


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