On Monday, that political insulation consortium comprised of our “best and brightest” gathered at the slightly misleading Daytona Beach “International” Airport, as the exalted Volusia Round Table of Elected Officials assembled to solve the most pressing issues of our time.
“The group is composed of one elected official from each of Volusia’s cities, county government and school system. It meets every other month to discuss countywide issues and concerns. The Volusia County Council hosts the meetings.”
Never heard of it?
That’s okay. Not much gets accomplished (as evidenced by our dismal civic, economic, and political condition).
The group’s seminal moment came several years ago when they were openly led around like a dazed bull with a ring its nose by that mysterious camera stellata over at the CEO Business Alliance, who tried desperately to use their hired hands to levy a half-cent sales tax on Volusia County residents ostensibly to fund transportation infrastructure projects, even as the bulldozers roared on more “theme” communities in a disastrous “putting the cart before the horse” growth strategy.
Fortunately, Volusia County taxpayers overwhelmingly voted down the money grab – refusing to give even more of our hard-earned money to the same dullards who got us into this gridlocked mess in the first place – after we witnessed them lavish funds on the whims of their political benefactors, like the infamous “road to nowhere,” where $15.8 million was squandered extending South Williamson Boulevard to accommodate Florida’s King of Kings our own High Panjandrum of Political Power, Mori Hosseini, and his Woodhaven development.
This month, our brain trust at Hooterville’s own Bilderberg Group assumed an exhausting agenda which included staying awake through a boilerplate Coronavirus update, a minutes long affordable housing update (what “affordable housing”?), and a riveting briefing on the foremost existential threat to our quality of life that is universal pet licensing. . .
You read that right. . .
Yep. Heady stuff.
According to our distinguished political watchdog, Big John – host of the daily political affairs radio forum GovStuff Live! – who took one for the team and valiantly sat through the confab so we didn’t have to – he waited patiently for someone, anyone, to address the fact Volusia County has no discernable transportation infrastructure plan in its $1.1 billion budget.
When it was clear the meeting would adjourn without any substantive progress on the most critical issue facing Volusia County residents – Big John disbelievingly asked why the powerful group of preeminent politicos were not addressing the 800-pound gorilla in the room: Roads?
No doubt begrudgingly, the esteemed group agreed to take up the issue at its January 2022 meeting. . .
With unchecked growth continuing along the spine of Volusia County – including the malignant sprawl west of I-95, where the pinch point at the antiquated two-lane Tomoka River bridge tells us all we need to know about the level of strategic planning that went into preparing for these massive subdivisions and those yet to come – it is shockingly clear that our elected and appointed officials are now caught between a rock and a hard place with no identifiable plan.
Unfortunately, I’m not seeing much hope on our political horizon.
For instance, this week, former Daytona Beach City Commission Zone 2 candidate Larry McDermott, who lost to Commissioner-elect Ken Strickland in a special election earlier this month, wrote a confusing Letter to the Editor of The Daytona Beach News-Journal asking (I assume seriously?) the question, “Where the floods go.”
“During my campaign for the Daytona Beach City Commission Zone 2 seat, one of the planks in my platform was the efficiency (or lack thereof) in our community’s stormwater drainage system. The various canals and stormwater management lakes in our community cannot hold the water produced by a storm of the type that we had this weekend.
Previously, our whole premise was to move the water east into the Halifax River. But as this storm and previous storms have shown us, this does not work if the tide is high and the wind is blowing from the east. I am not an engineer, but my engineering advisors strongly believe that Daytona Beach (and its surrounding communities) should move the water west toward the recharge area.
Perhaps some of the COVID funds that the city has received could be spent to relieve our area from this nemesis. This could also have the added benefit of putting the water in the recharge area where it will filter back to our aquifer and provide much needed drinking water to our area.”
Hey, Lar – guess what?
That aquifer recharge area where you want to pump the abundant stormwater that is inundating homes, businesses, and roadways in Old Daytona and beyond is now called New Daytona – the faux-beach community of Latitudes Margaritaville, Mori Hossieni’s Mosaic, and the looming monstrosity that will be Avalon Park.
That’s why we’re soon to be drinking our own recycled sewage. Get it?
So please spare us that maudlin bullshit about what your “engineering advisors” believe – because here in the real world all that matters is what our incredibly influential and extremely wealthy insiders think.
(Check your campaign contributor list for a few of their names. . .)
My God. If you are going to be a political player – get your head in the game, Mr. McDermott.
Unfortunately, it is abundantly clear to anyone paying attention that some very important people in our community believe the continued erosion of our land development codes, rolling over for speculative developers, and paving over our natural places to make way for more cookie cutter, zero-lot-line, cracker boxes that allow out-of-state developers to haul even more money out of the pine scrub constitutes the “highest and best use” for the thousands of sensitive acres that once comprised the source of our drinking water.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is time We, The Little People on Florida’s Fun Coast get comfortable with the fact we are hapless victims of a power dynamic that is defined by abject greed – and the strategic stupidity of those we have elected and appointed to represent our interests who populate do-nothing timewasters like the Volusia Round Table of Elected Officials – wholly compromised phonies who continue to fiddle while what’s left of paradise falls to slash-and-burn land clearing to make way for the next ‘game changer.’
Good luck. We’re going to need it.
See you next week, kids.
Thanks for reading – and furthering the discussion of the important issues we face.