“On Thursday, it was difficult not to get caught up in the pomp and circumstance that began the first Volusia County Council meeting of the new year as returning and newly elected council members participated in the traditional swearing-in ceremony that marks the transfer of power.
A formal demarcation, an exciting new beginning.
A cause for hope.
The opening remarks given by Chairman Jeff Brower and incoming District 3 Councilman Danny Robins were nothing short of inspirational, reaffirming their personal commitment to the protections and provisions of the United States Constitution, returning county government to the people, a message of unity set amidst a backdrop of national political and social divide.
Watching from the comfort of Barker’s View HQ, I noticed that during the first public participation opportunity before the new council, there was a welcoming lightness in the chamber – and I was impressed when Chairman Brower thanked each citizen who addressed the body – as others in the gallery applauded the contributions of their fellow citizens.
Unfortunately, it did not take long for old ways and simmering animosities to bleed through the fresh coat of optimism that Chairman Brower had so carefully applied. . .”
–Barker’s View, “A New Year and a Fresh Start,” January 11, 2021
And, as they say, the rest is history. . .
Like many of you, when Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower overwhelmingly defeated a well-financed, professionally managed, and solidly entrenched perennial politician during last year’s election, I allowed the promise of a bold new day to blunt my well-honed instincts.
In a pique of naivety, my joyful heart overtook the naturally suspicious nature of my softening head – and I was swept up in a building wave of hope and anticipation – something any professional gambler, or degenerate political junkie, will tell you is tailormade for crushing disappointment.
In my defense, I am not sure anyone (other than a Cassadega soothsayer) could have predicted how desperate Volusia County’s Old Guard would become in the wake of sweeping change as these stalwarts of the status quo watched their grip on power become more tenuous.
Add the success of Amendment 10 – a statewide initiative which rightfully returned autonomy to the “constitutional offices” – which resulted in the Old Guard mounting a pitched challenge to the voter-approved change to their historical way of “doing things” – which determined it was infinitely more manageable to hold sway over one malleable County Manager than it would be to control multiple elected officeholders with political accountability to We, The Little People.
Now, the sitting majority are making good on the goofy premonitions of former County Chair Ed Kelley, who, following the defeat of the misguided Amendment 10 challenge, told us scary stories of higher taxes – our collective punishment for having the temerity to seek greater citizen control after 50-years of cronyism and good ol’ boy politics – which has seen this bloated bureaucracy grow exponentially into a monstrous government requiring feed at the rate of over $1 Billion annually.
A so-called “conservative” majority who are intent on raising taxes on Volusia County residents even after the financial devastation experienced by small businesses and families last year– at a time when the bureaucracy is awash in over $100 million in coronavirus relief funds – so much money our elected and appointed officials have no legitimate idea how to spend it all.
Now, Pat Rice, that clueless knob who holds the post of Senior Comandante of The Daytona Beach News-Journal, a once proud local newspaper – now a regionalized rag of a national media conglomerate, desperately fighting on the far left flank of the culture wars – has the audacity to resurrect the tired old “consolidation” of area municipalities and services – the decades-old “Nuclear Option” ruse that our ‘powers that be’ trot out each time they want us to sit down and shut up.
A “You think its bad now? Wait until this cabal of lockstep marionettes in DeLand and their uber-wealthy handlers control everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tide” strategy that suggests residents of municipalities that supply superior essential services – cities with stable and responsive governments – would ever consider handing their lives and livelihoods over to this gangly shit-show that passes for Volusia County government or something like it.
How dumb do these power-addled assholes think we are?
Unfortunately, Mr. Rice’s uninspired Sunday piece “Consolidation would save money, but it will never happen,” speaks more to his complete lack of creativity and imagination – and his handlers lockstep refusal to stand behind the growing number of Volusia County residents who are taking to the streets, demanding their county government reign in spending, find responsible alternative revenue sources, strengthen land use regulations to limit the malignant growth that is destroying our natural places, and live within their sizeable means, before squeezing even more out of this exsanguinated turnip.
Why is it we never hear about a contraction of Volusia County government?
Pairing down this gluttonous brute which consistently ranks among the largest employers in Volusia County.
Rather than asking the cities to consolidate and handover exceptional, well-managed government services to some swollen oaf – how about we try restructuring the horribly failed beach management scheme, allowing those municipalities with the capability to provide emergency medical transport to better serve their residents, demanding a modicum of performance from our unimaginative economic development types who consistently mistake corporate welfare with civic progress, elevating the thousands of families trapped in a cycle of poverty wages and a lack of affordable housing, stop the practice of allowing rot and decay to consume publicly owned buildings and facilities in favor of Taj Mahal replacements, finding imaginative alternative revenue sources, get government out of the private sector to allow ingenuity, competition on a level playing field, and entrepreneurial investment to flourish, breaking down bureaucratic barriers, eliminating administrative diktats, strengthening private property rights, demanding the neighborhood level accountability municipal government provides, etc., etc., etc., etc.
Despite what our elected and appointed officials in DeLand tell us – I promise you that “right sizing” Volusia County government will not result in Armageddon.
In my view, it is time we tell these doomsayers and bullies – the Gang of Four on the dais of power (and their propaganda organ over at what remains of The Daytona Beach News-Journal) who are intent on destroying Chairman Jeff Brower and Councilwoman Heather Post, that We, The Little People, demand a change in the tired Big Government/High Tax status quo – where insiders with a chip in the game are assured a place at the public teat, while those of us who pay the bills are forced to eat the rancid effluent of the massive machine.
That important message begins at the ballot box next year.