The Honor Roll 2021

Hi, kids!

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

Where does the time go?

At the end of each year, I like to recognize those intrepid souls who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life – or detracted from it – in some significant way as we proudly unveil the 2021 Barker’s View Honor Roll!

I know, I know – but it remains the only civic honor (however dubious) in Volusia County that our “Rich & Powerful” cannot buy. . .


From our social, civic, and economic elite – the ‘movers and shakers’ and entrenched insiders with infinite power and influence – to us lowly rubes who struggle mightily, eke out a living, and raise families in this weird artificial economy – we all have a vested interest in improving our lot here on Florida’s Fun Coast.  

That proposition has become increasingly difficult in an era where elected bodies enact draconian rules, often cloaked as “civility ordinances,” designed to protect the sensitive feelings of our elected officials and prevent substantive public engagement – a time when approaching The Monarchy for redress of grievances is a frustrating exercise in futility – as the important decisions are settled by “staff recommendations” and political insulation committees long before the choreographed theater of a public meeting.    

Now, the prevailing ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality has left many rightly convinced we deserve better from those who control our fate – increasingly willing to participate in our democratic process and elect likeminded neighbors – as we work to wrest power from the bloated bureaucracy (and those who control it) and return it to We, The Little People.

Thank you. 

You are my heroes. 

I honor those who fight the good fight – who persevere, overcome, and make a life here in Volusia County – those who stand for elective office for the right reasons and endure the slings and arrows of harsh criticism and the career civil servants who have devoted their lives to public service – the watchers, voters, and dedicated gadflies who courageously let their voice be heard – and those of us up here in the cheap seats who pay the bills and suffer in silence.

Thank you. 

To those hardworking civic activists who fight valiantly to protect our natural places, improve amenities, and enhance our quality of life – from visionary environmental advocates and those who fight for animal rights to beach driving supporters and beyond – your dedication and perseverance is inspiring.    

Thank you. 

I never lose sight of the fact that cynical blowholes like me do not matter

As Roosevelt said, the real credit belongs to those “who are actually in the arena” – who spend themselves in a worthy cause – and the grassroots efforts of neighborhood organizations and volunteers form the very backbone of our community.

Thank you. 

Six years ago, I launched Barker’s View to provide an alternative opinion on the news and newsmakers in east Central Florida – and I could never have imagined how many of you would take the time to read, welcome a different perspective, and consider these diatribes for what they are – and what they are not.

Thanks to your engagement, this blog continues to open doors and influence opinion – and I appreciate the opportunity to meet and correspond with so many wonderful people – including a few of those powerbrokers and politicians I take to the woodshed – some of whom still have the humility and sense of humor to laugh at themselves and our situation.

While I cannot know the hundreds-of-thousands of you who have visited this site – including readers from some eighty-five countries around the globe this year alone – I appreciate each of you for taking the time to connect with Barker’s View.    

Thank you. 

Invariably, whenever I meet readers of Barker’s View – you are incredibly kind to me – and take the time to offer your own unique perspective on the issues, point out where we agree or differ, and provide constructive criticism. 

Thank you. 

To everyone who reached out this year, stopped me in the grocery isle, wrote a note, or sat down next to me on a barstool to solve the world’s problems, pass some gossip, commiserate, share a joke, argue a fine point, or just lend a word of encouragement.

Thank you. 

I appreciate that more than you know.   

The problem with making lists is you will invariably (and inadvertently) omit someone most deserving and if I have overlooked your contributions, please forgive me – know it was not intentional – and let me know where I fell short.  The mistake is mine alone. 

While this Honor Roll is not all inclusive, it begins and ends with YOU.

Those who read, contribute, opine, comment, argue, agree, disagree, disparage, elevate, share, offer solutions, moderate a social media site, educate our children, speak truth to power, serve on an advisory board, plan for our future, think and care deeply, offer criticism, further the discussion, serve their community, care for the sick and infirm, save lives, raise the bar, give generously, provide hope and encouragement – political allies and foes alike – who can still be my friend when the heated debate is over.

Thank you.

But most of all, to the faithful readers of Barker’s View – the independent thinkers who analyze and contemplate my often-warped thoughts on the myriad issues of the day – vehemently and honestly disagreeing with my skewed views – and those who share these screeds to provoke a larger discussion in the community, an important exercise that can lead to innovative ideas and solutions to the problems we face.

Thank you.

You are making a difference!

In the coming year, the good Lord willing, I will be here – spectating from the Peanut Gallery – cocktail in hand – a rheumy-eyed witness to the machinations of our local players, powerbrokers, and politicians – providing you, the devoted members of the Barker’s View Tribe, with my jaded opinions and odd perspective on the issues that affect our lives and livelihoods. 

Thank you all – and may God bless each of you and this beautiful place we call home. 

That’s all for me in 2021, y’all!

Here’s wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

2021 Barker’s View Honor Roll

Aaron Delgado

Aaron Van Kleeck

Abraxas Books

Adam Bucher


Al Moore

Al Smith

Alan Burton

Alan Lowe

Alan Rosen

Alex J. Kennedy

Alexey Lysich

Alicia Page

Allan Brewer

Allen E. Harrell

Alvin B. Jackson

Alvin Mortimer

Alycia Severson

Amanda Brower


Amy Pyle

Andrea Totten

Andrei Ludu

Andrew Ethridge

Andrew Gant

Andrew Grosso

Andrew Hall

Andrew Sandall

Androse Bell

Andy & Debbie Cotton

Andy Dance

Andy Esterhay

Andy Grosso

Angela Dempsey

Angelique Nelson

Angry Mom

Anita Bradford

Anita Burnette

Ann Marie Sikorski

Ann McFall (RIP)

Ann Ryder

Anna Wright

Anne B. Evans

Anne Ruby

AnnMarie Groarke

Anonymous Teacher

Anthony DeFeo

Anthony Recascino

Arthur J. Byrnes

Astrid Deparry

Avalon Park Daytona

B&B Cheetah

Babe’s Blue Room

Barb Girtman

Barb Shepherd

Barbara Bonariggo

Barbara Deering

Barbara Kincade

Barbara Zimmerman Phillips

Barry Chantler

Barry du Moulin

Barry Gear

Beat Kahli

Bellaire Community Group

Belle Schumann

Ben Butera

Ben Johnson

Benjamin Bartlett

Benji Shiflette

Benjiman Jerkins

Benny Barker

Beth Legary

Beth Sutherland

Bethune-Cookman University

Betty Goodman

Betty Landrum

Big John

Biggins Gentlemens Club

Bill Albert

Bill Barber

Bill Bernardo

Bill Boots Bouthillette

Bill Chaffin

Bill Fletcher

Bill Hall

Bill Hyde

Bill Koster

Bill Lindlau

Bill Milano

Bill Navara

Bill Offill

Bill Orpinuk

Bill Partington

Bill Partington II

Bill Posey

Bill Willis

Billie Barker

Billie Wheeler

Billy Flash

Billy Rose

Blaine Lansberry

Blanca A. Maldonado

Bo Brewer

Bob Apgar

Bob Davis

Bob Finch

Bob Fitzsimmons

Bob Jagger

Bob Kates

Bob LaRue

Bob Lloyd

Bob Renforth

Bob Walker

Bobbi Glass Cline

Bobbie Stricklen

Bobby & Tracy Parks

Bobby Thigpen

Body Exchange

Brad Burbaugh

Brad Carter

Bradford Gonzalez

Brandon Young

Brandy Lee White

Brass Against

Brenda Hahn

Brenno Carillo

Brent Brown

Bret Douglas

Brian Lapointe

Brian Nave

Brian Smith

Brian Soukup

Britney Miller

Brodie Hughes

Brown & Brown

Bruce Heugel

Bruce Williams

Bryan Feigenbaum

Bryan Glaze

Bryan Soukop

Bryn Rawlins

Bryon White

Bub Robson


Bud Baldwin (RIP)

Bud Ritchey

Buz McKim

Buz Nesbit

Byron Cogdell

Byway Chairperson

Cameron Lane

Carl Persis

Carmen Balgobin

Carmen Rosamonda

Carrie Baird

Casmira Harrison

Cassidy Alexander

Catherine Craig Fisler

Catherine Robinson

Cathleen “Kat” Atwood

Catholic Charities

Cathy Wharton

Chad Lingenfelter

Charleen Smith

Charlene Greer

Charles “Chuck” Duva

Charles Cino

Charles Lichtigman

Charles Moskowitz

Charles Paiva

Charles Puckett

Charles Sintes

Charlie Lydecker

Charlotte Price Carr

Chase Herbig

Chase Tramont

Cheryl Bagshaw Frederick

Cheryl Espy-Dalton

Cheryl Reed

Chez Paul

Chief Tomokie

Chip Olden

Chip Wile

Chris & Christine Daly

Chris Belflower

Chris Bowler

Chris Challis

Chris Cloudman

Chris Graham

Chris Jarnagin

Chris Nabicht

Chris Via

Christian Miller

Christina Gerson

Christine Power

Christine Ratti-Sprowl

Christopher Alcantara

Christopher Cloudman

Christopher France

Christopher Kelly

Christos Mavronas

Chuck Collins

Chuck Gittner

Chuck Guarria

Chuck Marcus

Chuck Siple

Chuck Tindall

CiCi Brown

Cindy Hale

Cindy Rivera

City of Daytona Beach

City of Daytona Beach Shores

City of DeBary

City of Deland

City of Deltona

City of Flagler Beach

City of Holly Hill

City of New Smyrna Beach

City of Ormond Beach

City of Palm Coast

Claire Metz

Claudia Archer

Claudia Vanderhorst

Clay Ervin

Clay Henderson

Clayton Park

Clement Nadeau

Cliff Colby

Clinton F. Smith

Coach Morris Small, Jr.

Coastal Cloud

Colleen & Rob Corrozza

Colleen McDevitt

Conklin Center

Connie Colby

Connie McNamara

Corunna Stevens Goris

Costa Magoulas

County of Volusia

Craig Albright

Craig Capri

Crazy Eddie Colosimo (RIP)

CTO Realty Growth, Inc.

Cumiskey Consultants

Curtis Colee

Curtis Wayne

Cyndi Ritchey

Cyndi Stevenson

Cyrus Callum

D. Gray Leonhard

D. J. Lebo

D. W. Smith

Dale Anderson

Dallas Seibert

Dan Eckert

Dan Luby

Dan Merrithew

Dan Ravan

Dan Ryan

Dana C. Dougherty

Dana McCool

Dana Paige-Pender

Dana White

Daniel Apker

Dannette Henry

Danny Fuqua

Danny Oakes

Danny Robins 

Danny Yanesh

Darcy Lynn

Darlene Weincouff

Darren Zoeckler

Dave Jeffries

Dave Seyse

Dave Stokes

David Alfin

David Brannon

David Cromartie

David Foxman

David Hudson

David Isenberg

David LaMotte

David Loh

David Mims

David Romeo

David Romeo

David Santiago

David Simmons

David Smith

David Sosa

David Sullivan

David Vukelja

David W. Acuff

Dawn Fields

Dawn Glaczenski Petrella

Dawn Nichols

Dawn Starr

Dayle Whitman

Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance

Daytona Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau

Daytona Beach Police Department

Daytona Beach Regional Chamber

Daytona Dog Beach, Inc

Daytona International Airport

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona State College

Daytona Times

Daytona Tortugas

Deana Sallee

Deanna Newkirk

Deb Denys

Deb Lord Lafreniere

Debbie Darino & Justice for Ponce

Debbie Kruck-Forrester

Debbie Phillips

Deborah Joy Williams

Deborah Phillips

Debra Berner

Dede Siebenaler

Defend the Loop

Deltona – A City on the Move?

Deltona City Commission

Deltona Strong

Denise Brewer

Dennis Breo

Dennis Craig

Dennis Futch

Denny Hockenberry

Deputy Chief Jennifer Whittet

Derek Catron

Derek Lamontagne

Deric Feacher

Derrick Henry

Derrick Orberg

Developing Daytona Beach

Diana Malik

Diana Webster

Diane Carney

Diane Choquette

Diane Clow

Diane Crisp

Diane Kirvan

Diane Reynolds

Diane Vandervoort

Diane Whitby

Dinah Voyles-Pulver

DME Holdings

Don Bok

Don Burnette

Don Shinnamon

Dona Butler

Dona McIntire

Donald Freeman

Donald Moore

Donald Needham

Donald O’Brien

Donald Parks

Donald Williamson

Donna Craig

Donna Fitzpatrick

Donna Maxwell

Doris Catauro

Dorothy A. Fogg

Doug Kinney

Doug Pettit

Doug Quartier

Douglas Bell

Douglas Gibson

Dream Green Volusia

Drew Bastian

Dru Driscoll

Duane De Freese

Duffy Dyer

Durenda West Durrance

Dustin Wyatt

Dwight Selby

E. LaBrent Chrite


Earnest Murphy, Jr.

East ISB Dead Zone

East/West Volusia Forum

Ed Connor

Ed Danko

Ed Gist

Ed Kelley

Ed Noseworthy

Eddie Branquinho

Eddie Hennessey

Edgewater Environmental Alliance

Edith Shelley

Edward Gist

Edward Somers

Eileen Zaffiro-Kean

Elaine Barnicle

Elaine Gibilisco

Elaine Stewart

Elbert Bryan

Elizabeth Albert

Elizabeth Blackburn

Elizabeth Caswell

Elizabeth Fetterhoff

Elizabeth Lendian

Elizabeth Wade

Elliott Hagood

Emily Nice

Enrique Zahn


Eric & Vanessa Lewis

Eric Breitenbach

Eric Cooley 

Eric Lewis

Eric Sander

Erick Piskator


Eveline Kraljic

Evelyn Fine



First Step Shelter Board of Directors

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office

Fletcher’s Pub

Florida Department of Health

Florida Legislature

Food Brings Hope

Forough Hosseini

Foundation Risk Partners

Framework Group

France Family

Francis Snipes Himes

Frank Bruno

Frank Castle

Frank Costa 

Frank Fabrizio

Frank Fernandez

Frank Garaitonandia

Frank Molnar

Frank Sawyer

Frank Thomas Graham

Frank Van Pelt

Fred Costello

Fred Lowry

Frederik Coulter

Fredrik Coulter

FREE Daytona Beach

G. G. Galloway

G. L. Crews

Gail Gianfelice


Gary Libby

Gary Mostert

Gary Owens

Gary Smith

Gary Wandelt

Gene Crouch

Georgann Carnicella

George Anderson

George Butts

George Cameron Lane

George Colby

George F. Ritchie

George Mirabal (RIP)

George Pappas

George Recktenwald

George Smith

Gerald Fieser

Geraldine Morgan Clinton

Gerard Pendergast

Gerard Witman

Gigi Bennington

Gil Adams

Ginger Adair

Ginny Maccio

Glenn & Connie Ritchey

Glenn Irby

Glenn Ring

Glenn Storch

Gloria Max (RIP)

Godwin Kelly

Gordon Brown

Gordon Meyer

Greg “F-ing” Smith

Greg Akin

Greg Burns

Greg Gimbert

Greg Hansen

Greg Vernam

Gregory Trent

Gus Massfeller

Gwen & Rev. Larry Edwards

H.V. Grantham


Halifax Health

Hard Rock Daytona

Hardy Smith

Harold Briley

Harry Black

Harry Jennings

Harry L. Burney, III (RIP)

Harry Newkirk

Harvey Morse

Heather Post

Heather Rutledge

Heidi Herzberg

Helene Wetherington

Helga van Eckert

Helping Hands Through Arts

Henry Wolfond


Highland Park Fish Camp

High Paying Space Jobs

Holly Hill Police Department

Holly Smith


Hometown News


Hope Place

Hornitos Tequila

Howard Bailey

Hubert Grimes

Hunter S. Thompson

ICI Homes

Ida Wright

Indigo Lakes Residents

IRL Council

Iron Head


J. D. Bushdid

J. D. McGurk

J. Hyatt Brown

J. Mark Barfield

J. Scott Green

J. Suzy Peterson

Jack D. Howell

Jack Driskell

Jack Jarrell

Jack Surrette

Jack White

Jaclyn Carrell

Jacqueline P. Kelly

Jakari Young

Jake Johansson

Jake Sachs

James & Ashley Brodick

James Alford

James Bland

James Clayton

James Connell

James D. Sass

James Fulcher

James Gillis

James Manfre

James Newman

James Pendleton

James Pericola

James Powers

James S. Purdy

Jameson Distillery

Jamie Haynes

Jamie Overfield

Jamie Seaman

Jamison Jessup

Jan Shinnamon

Jane Bloom

Jane Glover

Jane Mealy

Janet Kersey

Janet Nutt

Janet Tomlinson

Jared Crawford

Jared Thompson 

Jarleene Almenas

Jason Davis

Jason Greene

Jason McGuirk

Jason Raynor (RIP)

Jason Umberger

Jason Wheeler

Jay Barton

Jay Maher

Jay Young

Jayson Meyer

Jean Lord

Jeaneen Witt

Jed Smith

Jeff Boyle

Jeff Brower

Jeff Feasel

Jeff Martin

Jeff Miller

Jeff Phillips

Jeff Terzini

Jeff Thorla

Jeff White


Jeffery P. Terzini

Jeffrey Ault

Jeffrey Bender

Jeffrey Dees

Jennifer Finno Ellis

Jennifer Whittet

Jenny Nazak

Jerry Cameron

Jerry Chow

Jerry Ficco

Jesse Godfrey

Jessica Davis

Jessica Gow

Jessica Melton

Jessica Winterwerp

Jessie Thompson

Jewel Dickson

Jewish Federation

Jim Abbott

Jim Annett

Jim Arthur

Jim Berkley

Jim Cameron

Jim Chisholm

Jim Connell

Jim Evans (RIP)

Jim Fogg

Jim France

Jim Goempel

Jim Judge

Jim Kotas

Jim Landon

Jim Legary

Jim Meyers

Jim Morris

Jim Neviaser

Jim Pappalardo

Jim Purdy

Jim Rose

Jim Weite

Jim Whittet

Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy Paul

Jo Glennie

Joan Anthony

Joan Campanaro

Jodi Beard

Joe Bungart

Joe DeAngelo

Joe Forte

Joe Hannoush

Joe Mullins

Joe Petrock

Joe Pozzo

Joe Roebuck

Joe Stitch

Joe Wolfing

Joe Woody

Joel Paige

Joey Gallagher

John & Karen Bulman

John A. Peacock

John A. Peters

John Albright

John B. Henderson

John Boyer

John Bozzo

John Cavanaugh

John Clukey

John Danio

John Difiore

John Gibson

John Guthrie

John Hawkins

John Hill

John Kirvan

John Nicholson

John Penny

John Power

John R. Rogers

John Reid

John Reynolds

John Szaroleta

Johnson Bros.

Jon Cheney

Jon Wong

Jonah Powers

Jonathan Abraham Eid

Jonathan Brokaw

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Foley

Jonathan L. Squires

Joseph Hopkins

Josh Fogarty

Josh Vedder

Josh Wagner

Joyce Cusack

Joyce Shanahan

Juanita Garza

Judith Campbell

Judy Rock Bergevine

Julie Bowers

Julie Sipes

Julio David Sosa

Kadie Hayward Mullins

Kandi Schromm

Karen Chasez

Karen Foxman

Karen Jans

Karen Robey

Karen Stokes Stone

Karen Waters

Kat Brown

Kate Perez

Katherine Hurst Miller

Katherine Wanamaker

Kathleen Dulco

Kathleen McNeilly

Kathryn Disbrow

Kathryn Weston

Kathy Josenhans

Kathy Tew-Ricky

Kathy Yingling Weaver

Katie Kustura

Kayleen Garcia

Keith Chester

Keith Norden

Keith Prewitt

Kelli McGee

Kelly Frasca

Kelly Kwiatek

Kelly McGee

Kelly Schulz

Kelly White

Kelvin Miller

Ken & Deborah Strickland

Ken Bradley

Ken Bryan

Ken Doremus

Ken Edwards

Ken Fustin

Ken Sipes

Ken Smith

Kenny Franks

Kent Sharples

Kerry Orpinuk

Kevin Bowler

Kevin Callahan

Kevin Captain

Kevin Duffy

Kevin Gelnaw

Kevin Kilian

Kevin Lowe

Kevin Para & Ashley’s Ride 

Kevin Reid

Kevin Wallace

Kevin Walsh

Kiki Bobo

Kim Harty

Kim Morris

Kim Olden

Kimberly Hennessey

Kimberly Short

Kimberly Taylor-Bandorf

Krista Goodrich

Kristine Tollefsen-Cunningham

Krys Fluker

Kurt Ardaman

Kurt Swartzlander

Kyei Anchor Solomons

Kyle Capsaicin

Kyle Powell

L. Gale Lemerand

L. Ronald Durham

Langford Every

Larry Arrington

Larry Bartlett

Larry Denham

Larry Edwards

Larry French

Larry Newsom

Larry Steele

Laura & Greg Ward

Laura Berglund Weast

Laura Roth

Laurel and Mike Foley

Lauren Olsen

Laurie Cromie

Laurie Massfeller

Lea Bartos

Leah Case

Lee Ann Luedeke

Lee Strong

Leo J. Vidal

Leonard Marinaccio III

Les Cantrell

Lesa France Kennedy

Lesley Blackner

Let Volusia Vote

Libby Ann Higbee

Linda Ann Brownlee

Linda Cuthbert

Linda Gatewood

Linda Gaustad

Linda Leary

Linda Morse Dixon

Linda Parkin

Linda Scheibener-Boardman

Linda Smiley

Linda White

Linda Williams

Lisa Lewis

Lisa Martin

Lisa O’Neal

Lisa Rinaman

Lisa Scartelli

Liz Murdoch

Liz Wade

Lloyd Bowers

Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia

Lois Paritsky

Loren King

Loretta Arthur

Lori Bennett

Lori Campbell Baker

Lori Graf

Lori Koontz

Lowell Lohman

Lu Witton

Luke Delaney

Luke Zona

Lynda Kessler

Lynn Caniglia

Lynn Curley Ney

Lynn Swenson

Lynn W. Thompson

Main Street Station

Mainland High School

Manny Chevrolet

Marc Antonie-Cooper

Marc Bernier (RIP)

Margaret Hudson

Margaret Macduffie

Margaret Peggie Hart

Margie Padgett

Maria Summerlin

Maria Trent

Marilyn Ford

Marilyn Stumpf

Mario Bertolami


Maritza Avila-Vazquez

Mark Annitto

Mark Billings

Mark Gardner

Mark Geallis

Mark Harper

Mark Lane

Mark Nealon

Mark Soskin

Mark Swanson

Mark Watts

Mark Wolcott


Marko Galbreath

Marks Culver

Marla A.

Marla Abell

Marlene O’neill

Marshallann Marti Weeks Camp

Marti Jolley Winn

Marti Smolinski

Martin J. Favis

Marty Grimshaw

Marvin Miller

Mary Anne Connors

Mary Bruno

Mary Connor

Mary Feeley

Mary Forester

Mary Helen Moore

Mary Jolley

Mary Martin

Mary Mcleod Bethune 

Mary Reid Morelly

Mary Synk

Maryam Ghyabi-White

Matt Doughney

Matt Gable

Matt Metz

Matt Morton

Matthew Foxman

Matthew Hopson

Matthew Monroe

Maureen France

Megan O’Keefe

Meganne Sarau

Mel Lindauer

Mel Quinton

Melissa Holland

Melissa Lammers

Messod Bendayan

Michael Booker

Michael Chitwood

Michael Chiumento III

Michael Dorsett

Michael Dye

Michael Dyer 

Michael J. Arminio

Michael Kolody

Michael L. Young

Michael Lee Young

Michael Mc Bride

Michael McDowall

Michael Orfinger

Michael Pleus

Michael Politis

Michael Ray

Michael Schottey

Michael Sznapstajler

Michael Ulrich

Michael Von Kreuzfaufsteiger

Michael Waltz

Michelle Carter

Michelle Newman

Michelle Zirkelbach

Mike Bregg

Mike Chuven

Mike Denis

Mike Fincher

Mike Jiloty (RIP)

Mike Orfinger

Mike Panaggio

Mike Philbrick

Mike Poniatowski

Mike Read

Mike Scudiero

Mike Shekari

Mike Springer

Mike Synan

Mike Thomas

Mike Walker

Mike Waltz

Milissa Holland

Milverton Robinson

Mindy McLarnan

Minto Communities

Missy Herrero

Missy Phillips

Molly Cunningham

Mori Hosseini

Museum of Arts and Sciences

Nan Tarasi

Nancy Capo

Nancy Epps

Nancy Keefer

Nancy Lohman

Nancy Long

Nancy Maddox

Nancy Miller

Nancy Niles

Nancy Steele Lilly

Nanette McKeel Petrella


Natalie Brunner

Natalie Pilipczak

Neil Harrington

News Daytona Beach

New Smyrna Board of Realtors

Newton White

Nic Klufas

Nick Conte

Niki Yanakou

Nikki Ross

Noah McKinnon

Noel Bickford

Nola Barker

Noreen Morris

Norma Bland

Norma Guida

North Turn Beach Bar & Grille

Northern Mockingbirds

Oliver Du Bois

One Daytona

Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board 

Ormond Beach Historical Society

Ormond Beach Observer

Ormond Brewing Company

Ormond Einsteins

Ormond Issues

Ormond Strong

Ormond-by-the-Sea Association

P&S Paving

P. Barry Butler

Palm Beach Post (Daytona Edition)

Palmer Panton

Palmer Wilson

Pam Carbiener

Pam Clark

Pam Lawler

Pam Wilsky

Pamela Rodriquez

Parker Mynchenberg

Pat & Ed Northey

Pat Finn

Pat Hodgkins

Pat Jeffries

Pat Katzenstein

Pat Patterson

Pat Rice

Pat Zuegg (RIP)

Patricia Boswell

Patricia Heard

Patricia Miracle

Patricia Page

Patricia Stevenson

Patricio Balona

Patrick Opalewski

Patti Barker

Patti Starkey

Paul Carpenella

Paul Deering

Paul Milward

Paul Renner

Paul Rice

Paul Skinner

Paul Stevenson

Paul Zimmerman

Paula Reed

Paula Rossiter

Peg Brown

Penny Currie


Pete Lynch

Pete Zahn


Peter Grosfeld

Peter McGlashan

Peter Migner

Phaedra Lee

Phil “Father Phil” Egitto

Phil Maroney

Phil Vanderhoof

Phillip Hoffeld

Phyllis Beynon

Phyllis Butlien

Phyllis Clark Hogan

Phyllis Stauffenberg

Pictona at Holly Hill

Pierre Louis

Pierre Tristam

Port Orange Gov Forum

Preston Root


Psycho Magnet

Quanita May

R. J. Larizza

Rafael Ramirez

Rainer and Julie Martens

Randall Rowe, III

Randy Ast

Randy Cadenhead

Randy Dye

Randy Hartman

Randy Post

Raquel Levy

Raul Zambrano

Ray Evans

Ray Hill

Ray Max

Raymond Johnson

Rebecca Lynn Doremus

Rebecca Wade

Reed Berger

Regina Santilli

Reginald C. Williams

Rell Black

Rene Coman

Renee Richardson

Reuben “Lounge Lizard” Morgan

Rhonda and Walter Glasnak

Rhonda Kanan

Rich Felisko

Rich Malkus

Rich Waters

Richard Bellach

Richard Bryan

Richard Feller

Richard Frizalone

Richard Kane

Richard Klein

Richard Little

Richard Martinez

Richard Myers

Richard Nisbett

Richard Slaughter (RIP)

Richard Thripp

Richard Waters

Rick Basso

Rick Belhumeur

Rick Dwyer

Rick Goodsite

Rick Karl

Rick Rollins

Rick Rawlins (RIP)

Rick Staly

Rita Ware

Riverside Conservancy

River to Sea TPO

Rob Bobek

Rob Bridger

Rob Brown

Rob Gilliland

Rob Hougham

Rob Jackson

Rob Littleton

Rob Merrell

Rob Sabatino

Robert Augusto

Robert Augusto

Robert Barnes

Robert Barrett

Robert Burnetti

Robert Burns

Robert D. McFall

Robert Giebel

Robert Gilliland

Robert Greenlund

Robert Hawes

Robert Jagger

Robert Joseph Sorenson

Robert Maccio

Robert Mullins

Robert Riggio

Robert Sanders, Jr.

Robert Sprouse

Robert Stolpmann

Robert Taylor

Robert W. Krause

Robert Watson

Roberta Richardson

Robin Hanger

Rocky Lawrence

Rocky Norris

Rodney Cruise

Roger Accardi

Roger Eckert

Roger Sonnenfeld

Roland Blossom

Roland Via

Rommel Scalf

Ron Andersen

Ron DeSantis

Ron Kendrick

Ron Martin

Ron Nowviskie

Ron Wright

Ronald Donovan

Ronald Jungk

Ronnie Mills

Root Family

Rose Ann Tornatore

Rose Schuhmacher

Ross Janke

Roundtable of Elected Officials

Roxanne Hallahan

Roy Johnson

Ruben Colon

Russ Cormican

Russ Moulton

Russ Owen

Rusty Ford

Ruth Norman

Ruth Trager

Ryan Ossowski 

Ryan Ridder

Sam Bell

Samantha J. West

Samuel G. S. Bennett

Sanctuary Café

Sandford Kinne

Sandi Snodgrass

Sandra Bass Van Cleef

Sandra Chavous

Sandra Kay Watts Battiste

Sandra Upchurch

Sandra Walters

Sandy Kauffman

Sandy Murphy

Sandy Walters

Santiago Avila, Jr.

Sara Collins

Sara Crane

Sara Murphy

Sara Ragsdale Petroski

Sarah Bruce

Sarah Johnson

Saralee Morrissey

Scott Caldwell

Scott Fritz

Scott Gutauckis

Scott in Daytona Beach

Scott Lee

Scott Markham

Scott O’Connell

Scott Simpson

Scott Stiltner

Scott W. Spradley

Sea Dunes


Security First Insurance

Seminole Curmudgeon

Sen. Rick Scott

Sergia Cardenas

Seth Green

Sharon Raffel

Shawn Collins

Shawnerie Langford

Sheila Hancock

Shelia Prather

Shelley Szafraniec

Sheriff Guindi

Sheron Weatherholtz

Sherrise Boyd

Sherry Gilreath

Sherry Huskey-Hopson

Sherry Purdy

Sheryl A. Cook

Skip Andress

Snake Andress


Sons of the Beach

Sonya Wiles

Sophia Urista

Sophie’s Circle Dog Rescue

Spencer Stratton Hathaway

St. John’s River Keepers

St. John’s River Water Management District

Stacey Simmons

Stacy Cantu

Stacy Wager Day

Stan Kapp

Stan Schmidt

Stanley Escudero

Stasia Warren

Stephan Dembinsky

Stephanie Bidlack Cox

Stephen Bacon

Stephen McGee

Step-Up Volusia

Stetson University

Steve Aldrich

Steve Crump

Steve Koenig

Steve Parker

Steve Puckett

Steve Ridder

Steve Stinson

Steve Thomas

Steve Thorp

Steve Weaver

Steven Burk

Steven Henderson (RIP)

Steven Miller

Steven Narvaez

Stirling Gosa

Stony Sixma

Sue Barnes

Sue Lyle Reynolds

Susan Barrie

Susan Brehme Park

Susan Bussinger

Susan Cerbone

Susan Lutz

Susan Persis

Susan Scofield

Susan Skow

Susanne I. Odena

Suzanne Johnston

Suzanne Kridner

Suzanne Scheiber

Suzie Johnston

Sweetie (RIP)

Synergy Billing

Tadd Kasbeer

Tangela Hardy

Tanger Outlets

Tanner Andrews

Tariq Hamid

Taxpayers of Volusia County

Team Volusia

Ted Doran

Ted Hordecky

Ted Noftall

Ted Teschner

Tennessee Hills Distillery

Tere Arce

Terence Perkins

Teresa Martin Lawson

Teresa Morford Rice-Peck

Terica Charles

Terry Cady

Terry Heisler

The Avion

The Bridge

The Civitas Project

The Daytona Beach News-Journal

The Frye’s

The Lowe Down

The Nines Parlor

The Nowinski’s

The Pallet Pub

Theresa Doan

Thom Morris

Thomas Akin, Sr.

Thomas Burbank

Thomas R. Larrivee

Tiger Roberts

Tim Baylie

Tim Curtis

Tim Egnor

Tim Grigsby

Tim Harbuck

Tim Phillips

Timmy & Annemarie Groarke

Tina Louise

Tina-Marie Schultz

Tito’s Vodka

Todd Phillips (RIP)

Tom A. Wright

Tom and Kayti Caffrey

Tom Bertolami

Tom Clapsaddle

Tom Coriale 

Tom Goreau

Tom Laputka

Tom Leek

Tom LoBasso

Tom Maccio

Tom Morgan

Tom Rebman

Tom Russell

Tom Ryan

Tommy Jee

Tomoka Oaks Residents

Tony Cassata

Tony Goudie

Tony Ledbetter (RIP)

Tony Servance

Tony Walsh

Tonya Gordon

Travis Hutson

Tripp Parham

Troubled Men Podcast

Troy Crawford

Troy Kent

Troy Olson

Troy Shimkus

Troy’s Pub


Turner Hymes

US Coast Guard – NSB

Valencia Gallon-Stubbs

Valerie Duhl

Valerie Joiner

Valerie Manning

Valoree Mclean

Vanessa Blair-Lewis

Vernon Burton

Vic Baker

Vic Irland

Vicky Jackson

Victor Barbosa

Victor Ramos

Victoria B. Holmes

Victoria Fahlberg

Vikki Leonard

Voloria Manning

Volusia Building Industry Association

Volusia CEO Business Alliance

Volusia County Concerns

Volusia County Council

Volusia County Deputies Association

Volusia County Government Forum

Volusia County School Parents Forum

Volusia County Schools

Volusia County Sheriff’s Office

Volusia County Voters

Volusia Deputies Association

Volusia ECHO

Volusia Firefighters Association

Volusia Forever

Volusia Forever/ECHO Alliance

Volusia Issues

Volusia Political Scene

Volusia Politics

Volusia Tax Reform

Volusia United Educators

Volusia’s Old Guard


Wallace Bailey

Wanda Van Dam

Warren Shaw

Waylan Niece

Wayne Harris

Webster Barnaby

Weegie Kuendig

Welcome to Rockville


Wendall Ray DallaRosa

Wendy Alvarez

Wendy B. Anderson

Wendy Wilson  

Wesley Heidt

West Volusia Beacon

West Volusia Hospital Authority

Westplan Investors

Will Roberts

William Freebern

William Jones, Jr.

William Reischmann 

William Sell

William Whitson

Willie Kimmons


World’s Most Famous Brewery

Wray Gillette

Xiangjun Li

Yaupon Brothers Tea

Yetay Smith

Zetta Baker

Zev Cohen & Associates

All who contribute and wish to remain nameless

And, well, you know who you are. . .

The Balance of Power

“All power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. That government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people, which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty and the right of acquiring property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their government whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purpose of its institution.”

–James Madison

Does the hallowed concept of political power originating from the consent of the governed and exercised for our collective benefit sound anything like our system of governance here on Florida’s Fun Coast? 

I didn’t think so. 

This week, an excellent article by Mark Harper writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal gave an overview of the current political playing field as six seats on the Volusia County Council will be decided next year, and Volusia’s Old Guard – those stodgy stalwarts of the stagnant status quo – are clearly getting nervous.

They should be. 

In all things, the ‘political pendulum’ swings whenever We, The Little People awaken to the fact that our interests have become secondary to those of a few well-heeled insiders who control Volusia County politics (and feather their comfy nests) by taking advantage of a weird campaign finance system that allows those with the wherewithal to make massive contributions to hand-select candidates – cloaked under the various and sundry corporate entities they control – to enjoy undue influence in the hallowed Halls of Power.

In my view, by injecting huge sums of money into local political contests – dollars that skew the playing field – they ensure a return on investment through subliminal fealty to the oligarchic “system” that has been in control for far too long.   

This Turkish bazaar atmosphere has allowed a small group of uber-wealthy elites to exert extraordinary influence over local policymaking as they pull the rods and strings of those small and malleable minds willing to sell their political souls in a Faustian bargain for the power and perquisites of office.  

As a result, public meetings have become little more than bad theater, with choreographed “winners and losers” decided in advance as what passes for “public policy” becomes a foregone conclusion – any deviation met with eyerolling histrionics or outright obstructionism (See: Any idea or initiative endorsed by Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower or Councilwoman Heather Post.)

With a practiced eye, it becomes easy to discern the often-blurred line between a staged representation and the actual intrigues of what passes for the “people’s business,” especially when those who are elected and appointed to represent our interests form a lockstep majority and become enmeshed in petty power plays and slapstick skits designed to block any substantive change while ensuring the health, growth, and prosperity of the bureaucracy. 

Don’t take my word for it – just watch a painful replay of the recent budget cycle, when those who wear the trappings of “fiscal conservatives” displayed their true plumage by increasing property taxes and fees – arrogantly ignoring the fervent pleas of their strapped constituents – many living at or below the poverty line, unable to escape the scut work and warehouse jobs our “economic development” gurus have the balls to tout as “progress,” even as they serve as shameless conduits between private profit motives and the public teat.    

My God.

Now, the wagons are being circled as the Old Guard rolls out a few political fossils who attempt to rewrite history on the frontpage of the newspaper, telling scary stories about “fiefdoms,” and elected officials losing a sense of “free will,” wringing their hands that a potential “…slate of candidates running together — if that’s what it becomes — might smack of partisanship.”


This wholly compromised system that has served a select few for so long bares no semblance to a participatory democracy – with concepts like independent thought and “free will” forcibly beaten out of any newly elected official who dares break with the lockstep conformity or consider solutions outside the aging box of conventionality – and it is made crystal clear that the inner sanctum of power at the Thomas C. Kelly Administrative Complex is reserved for those who go along and get along.

Don’t take my word for it. 

Ask Chairman Brower and Councilwoman Heather Post the heavy price of political independence – then watch the Gang of Four crush anything resembling an innovative revenue source, tax decrease, growth reduction strategy, or spending reduction – a political shunning of duly elected members of the Volusia County Council as a means of limiting influence and forcing allegiance to the status quo. 

From time immemorial, Volusia County politicians have endorsed candidates, tried to ‘stack the deck,’ and form a like-minded majority (something unheard of in politics, right?).

But now that Chairman Brower has openly backed Paul Zimmerman for the District 2 seat, and David Sosa in District 5, the Old Guard is losing their feeble minds, suggesting “…Brower appears to be orchestrating an attempt to control the County Council,” and labeling the practice of political endorsements “unprecedented.” 

My ass.

Buckle your seatbelts, kids. 

This is what happens when an entrenched power structure starts to feel the heat from a fed-up constituency – those who have been ignored and marginalized for far too long – and the political hype and horseshit is about to wash over the Fun Coast like a tsunami as our “Rich and Powerful” see their decades-long control slipping away. 

I believe the unserved, overtaxed, and wholly ignored masses – who have been ordered to pay the bills and suffer in silence – are beginning to understand what those who have controlled our lives and livelihoods have known for years:  Elections have consequences. 

Fortunately, that awakening is beginning to change the political dynamic. 

If enough like-minded citizens hold firm to the basic belief that we can control our destiny by electing strong, ethical, and visionary members of our community to high office – servant-leaders not marionettes – who will stand firm in defense of the rights, responsibilities, and best interests of taxpaying residents who work hard to carve out a life here on Florida’s Fun Coast – we can once again balance political power and restore transparency, fairness, and the spirit of democracy in Volusia County government.

Merry Christmas!

And she brought forth her firstborn son,

and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger,

because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,

keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,

and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2

One of the greatest gifts in my life is the sense of purpose this blogsite has given me – the opportunity to participate in a larger discussion – all made possible thanks to your readership and support. 

Whether or not we agree on the myriad social, civic, and economic issues of the day, I hope we remain friends, grounded in the common purpose of seeking a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren through the vigorous competition of ideas. 

Here’s a special thanks to the loyal members of the Barker’s View tribe. Your awareness and activism are making a difference in our community – and your friendship has enhanced my life in immeasurable ways. 

A true blessing.

Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and all best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2022!


The Duality of Daytona Beach

“Disengaged Industry and Community:  . . .A very real current threat is the consistent indication of being uniformed and having no understanding of the effectiveness of current tourism initiatives. An aggressive and effective communication plan featuring understandable, measurable results is critical for the long-term support and success of tourism.  An additional theme in SAG’s meetings was the sense that it is going to be difficult to instill broad based confidence that is vital toward improved collaboration.”

“Product Deterioration: . . .Without resources – leadership and economic – the overall tourism experience in Volusia County will decline.  An overall collaborative strategy is needed.”

–“An analysis of Volusia County tourism marketing,” Strategic Advisory Group, (Final Report to the Volusia County Council – now moldering in some dead records morgue in DeLand) issued April 8, 2013, at a cost of $100,000

Any denizen of Florida’s Fun Coast is familiar with the word dichotomy.    

Because it represents our reality.

It defines a “stark division or contrast between two things that are opposed or entirely different,” the partition of a whole into sets or subclasses, something split and completely dissimilar.

When you point out a dichotomy, you draw an unmistakable distinction between two things:

Yin/yang, love/hate, night/day, follower/leader, east and west Volusia, “Old” Daytona and “New” Daytona.

A duality.  A polar opposite.

This vocabulary lesson begins our look at the two markedly different communities that comprise Daytona’s languishing core beachside tourist area – the ugly stepsister once known as “The World’s Most Famous Beach” – and the exciting investment and growth along Boomtown Boulevard and points west of I-95 in the retail, residential, and retirement mecca that I call “New Daytona.”  

I was reminded of this divergence while reading Jim Abbott’s excellent piece in Monday’s The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Tourism officials seek new ‘brand’ for Daytona Beach – Area’s appearance and past remain barriers,” a tale as old as time, the never-ending yarn of how our tourism and hospitality gurus continue to wring their hands over how to turn this sows ear into a silk purse – throwing good money after bad while repeatedly ignoring the observations and suggestions of highly paid “outside experts” – an exercise in futility that has gone on for decades. . . 

In my view, the Halifax Area Advertising Authority’s board of directors has a long history of paying whiz-bang marketing mavens to tell them exactly what they want to hear – while ignoring the same sights, smells, and sensory insults that you and I experience daily.

Depending upon who you talk too, the Daytona Beach Resort Area is either the best thing since sliced bread, recently dubbed the third best place to retire in the United States by US News  – or a shit sandwich served up in a dirty ashtray – a dingy place indelibly stained by spring break mayhem and monster truck events, that, as Mr. Abbott aptly said, “…thrust the city into chaos marked by ear-splitting train horns, molar-rattling sound systems and visitors who treated Daytona Beach like an open-air toilet and trash can.”    

A weird “Tale of Two Cities,” different sides of the same coin, with both perspectives having validity depending upon your vantagepoint – and resources. 

Look, I’m dull-normal on the Wechsler scale at best – certainly not as bright as those political appointees who have been anointed by the Volusia County Council to steward bed tax funds and determine how best to “brand” and market what was once the most beautiful stretch of beach on the Atlantic seaboard – back before we consolidated management and turned the strand into a forest of ugly do this/don’t do that signage and toll booths, punctuated by the malignant blight and stagnation of our core tourist area on Atlantic Avenue and beyond.

I might not be the brightest guy in the room, but I can interpret an intelligence report, and those perennial “Daytona Beach Visitor Profiles” which, for years, have been collected, digested, and produced by the HAAA boards favorite soothsayer, Mid-Florida Marketing and Research, Inc., tell me that “The Beach” – our greatest natural amenity – is repeatedly listed as the “Reason both out-of-state (and in-state) visitors choose Daytona Beach.”

So, why do our hospitality gurus continue to treat tourism marketing of our largest draw like a conundrum wrapped in an enigma

According to the News-Journal report, the recent HAAA “marathon brainstorming session” (oh, Gawd) reviewed interviews and surveys conducted by MMGY NextFactor, a tony destination marketing firm based in Vancouver, Canada, “…with 151 Daytona Beach tourism industry representatives, local government and business leaders and visitors related to the destination’s image and the issues contributing to it…”

What followed was the typical over-analysis of the obvious – a “discussion” focused on “…developing (a) strategic plan comprised of six elements: A vision statement; mission statement; goals; initiatives; measurable targets to track progress; and a statement of values.” 

(Yaaaawn. . .sorry.  Heard it all before – and so have you.)

“In MMGY’s survey results, Daytona Beach scored below average in its options for dining, shopping and entertainment, health and safety concerns, and offerings in arts, culture and heritage options…”

“Overall, the destination was characterized as exhibiting more weaknesses than strengths by all sectors of the survey respondents, ranging from tourism industry representatives to local community leaders and visitors.”

A lightbulb-like revelation that we need to “fix the broken things,” like “…the aging core beachside, and the unattractive gateway to the beach that is still East International Speedway Boulevard.”


It cost those Inspector Clouseau-like bumblers on the HAAA Board an investment of $50,000 and another “out-of-town expert” to tell us what we have seen with our own eyes (and been told by countless consultants) for decades? 

(Note to self:  Get into the travel marketing racket in 2022. . .)


So, what are we going to do about it? 

If history repeats – as it always does for those who refuse to learn from it: Nuttin’ much. . . 

Therein lies the problem.

With all due respect to those esteemed members of the HAAA Board – pull your head out of your ass and review the myriad “expert opinions” you have already paid for. Dammit.  

In their 2012 study, Strategic Advisory Group wrote in their detailed analysis of stakeholder interviews the following regarding our “Tourism Product”:

“The stakeholders expressed concern over the current condition of the tourism “product,” notably the beach side of Daytona Beach. There were many types of concerns expressed. Examples include:

Condition of hotels

Condition of storefronts in high volume areas

Lack of attractive streetscape in key tourism areas

There is widespread concern that there is no “plan” for who is leading the effort and how these challenges can be improved. The issue of improvement in the tourism product was a top priority in most of the interviews.”

Sound familiar?

It should.

I mean, how many ways can someone couch the obvious? 

So, the $50,000 question remains:

Has anything fundamentally changed in the decade since the SAG report was tucked away on a groaning shelf in a dusty records morgue at the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Complex – apart from a few high-end hotels we were told were a panacea for all our woes – who now clearly fear for their future on the crumbling beachside?

Unfortunately, the answer to that grim query is now crystal clear to anyone paying attention – and we remain horribly conflicted on just who, and what, we want to be as the stuck-on-stupid leadership of our challenged hospitality industry continues to generate hot air fomenting pithy slogans and recreating the most famous “brand” in the world – rehashing the obvious as the product continues to deteriorate – a “déjà vu all over again” absurdity that is destroying the trust of residents and visitors alike.   

The Monster Awakens

One of the requirements for writing a local political affairs blog is digesting the news of the day with discernment; sorting through the often-conflicting views of influencers, environmentalists, our ‘movers & shakers,’ policymakers, and long-suffering residents, turning a critical eye to the self-serving machinations of government, looking past the political posturing and preening, sifting through the rumors – trying to think strategically, connect the dots, maintain a fleeting situational awareness of current events – then form an opinion on the myriad issues and hope it furthers a larger discussion in the community. 

Most smart people understand that Barker’s View is just one man’s opinion on the news and newsmakers – neither always right nor always wrong – firmly rooted in the basic premise that We, The Little People, deserve better from those we elect and appoint to represent our interests here on Florida’s Fabled Fun Coast. 

And that doesn’t make me many friends among our social, civic, and economic upper crust who effectively control their environment (and ours) with massive campaign contributions to hand-select candidates in a lopsided campaign finance strategy that sees individuals, and the corporations they control, contribute tens-of-thousands of dollars to malleable candidates.

That’s okay.  I hate me too. . .

But, in my masochistic view, someone needs to say what many are thinking but dare not utter in an economy controlled by the same five people passing the same nickel around – and our newspaper of record has fallen distressingly short on the almost non-existent op/ed page – which is now relegated to a boring series of “I hate Ron DeSantis” screeds.

With The Daytona Beach News-Journal in its death throes – filling what remains of our “Local” section with “news” from Lakeland about where to see Santa Claus in Davenport, Frostproof, Lake Whales, and Mulberry (seriously, did you read Monday’s paper?) – I found it refreshing that the skeleton crew that remains in former editor Pat Rice’s wake found time to report on several prominent issues this week – including the ubiquitous tax breaks and “economic development” giveaways – the equivalent of tying a pork chop around the neck of Daytona Beach. 

On Sunday, News-Journal reporter Mark Harper published an important front page piece laying bare the most pressing issue of our time – the asinine “cart before the horse” growth strategy that allowed massive development in the form of Latitudes at Margaritaville, Mosaic, and the looming “City within a City” at Avalon Park Daytona – all trapped on the westside of a crippling pinch point at the two-lane Tomoka River bridge on LPGA Boulevard – which stands as a monument to the disturbing “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing” ineptitude at the highest levels of local and state government. 

For instance, when Mr. Harper inquired about a future solution to the building congestion on Boomtown Boulevard, state Sen. Tom Wright puffed out his chest and blathered, “It’s in the (Florida Department of Transportation) five-year plan. It’s funded and it’s set to go. The money’s there.”

Except it isn’t. . .

According to Mr. Harper’s report, the I-95/LPGA quagmire has received $3 million in funding for project development and environmental studies, which are underway, and $7 million for design, which is scheduled to begin next year – but the $60 million+ that will be required to reconstruct the tiny bridge and funnel-like interchange has yet to be budgeted.

“All that likely means actual improvements to LPGA are still years away.”

Damn. Not a good look.

Now the esteemed Senator Wright looks like a bald-faced liar or an uninformed dupe – neither of which is particularly good for one’s political future. . .

What I found most interesting was the conflicting opinion pieces in Sunday’s News-Journal – one from Daytona Beach attorney Glenn Storch, an influential member of our local literati who specializes in real estate, land use, land development and property entitlements for some of our areas heaviest hitters, touting the $4 million in corporate welfare the Daytona Beach City Commission recently gifted to Amazon, the wealthiest online retailer in the known universe – the other letter was from Chuck Tindall, a resident of Latitude Margaritaville, decrying the practice:

“Most of us are from other states; we are bringing our retirement funds and we are spending in the restaurants, shops, and malls (at least until Amazon puts them out of business) plus health services.

Has anyone calculated how many jobs have been created by us?

It is past time to stop the giveaway of tax funds to corporations for doing what they have to anyway, and that is hiring workers. We give enough already with the infrastructure and services at taxpayer expense.”


In my view, this represents the first time our new neighbors at Margaritaville (a burgeoning voting bloc that will help decide our future) have flexed their sizeable muscles on a local issue. 


Is it possible that, like Frankenstein’s monster, this growth at all cost strategy is beginning to backfire on our entrenched ‘powers that be’?

Have they forgotten that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction – and the laws of nature are irrefutable?

Perhaps it is time for our elected officials to decide in earnest which side their bread is buttered on – to get their heads in the game and stop making irresponsible and erroneous comments on the front page of the newspaper and start prioritizing – quit kowtowing to the Old Guard of oligarchical insiders – and begin listening to the growing number of residents who are flooding into the Fun Coast and don’t like what they are finding.   

The times they are a-changin’. . .    

Angels & Assholes for December 17, 2021

Hi, kids!

It’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way.

Let’s look at who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was.

Angel               “Entitled Daytonans”  

Look, I am not the most educated guy you know. 

The only thing that kept me out of college was high school. . . 

Fact is, I was given the best educational opportunities one could imagine – but things went south for me around the eighth grade when it became glaringly obvious that I was an unfocused daydreamer and mathematical illiterate – ill-suited for the rigors of academia.  

I am still incapable of doing even basic arithmetic without counting on my fingers, and, to this day, our postprandial ritual involves me staring confusedly at the bill until Patti takes it from me to calculate the tip.  

While I may be an uneducated bumpkin, I have been around long enough to know that even academics and intellectuals with advanced degrees are often full of shit – and, in my unschooled view, this week the venerable economist, Dr. Mark Soskin, got it wrong.   

Recently, the retired professor of Economics at the University of Central Florida chimed in on the outstanding exposé in The Daytona Beach News-Journal entitled, “New Daytona fulfillment center: Why will Amazon’s tax bill be over $1 million when NASCAR’s was $7,100?,” which pointed out some local applications of Florida’s dubious “Greenbelt Law” that allows developers and commercial property owners to park vacant land under lucrative agricultural exemptions by establishing a “good faith commercial agricultural use of the land.” 

The tax savings are enormous.

Writing on the Facebook public affairs forum Developing Daytona Beach, which is moderated by the articles author, News-Journal business editor Clayton Park, Soskin said:

“Yeah, let’s beat up on NASCAR (the only big player totally loyal to Daytona for 60 years) for the zillionth time. Nascar never took a dime from Daytona for it’s many upgrades of their track facilities, unlike every OTHER sports billionaire getting taxpayer paid-for stadiums, arenas, spring training while team owners get huge share of concessions and parking revenue. But ENTITLED Daytonans revile their friends instead of bribing some Race Teams to move down from the Carolinas to provide year-round revenue to the region.

It’s Daytona that FAILED Nascar, not the reverse; every other race track in the U.S. has been funded by state and local taxpayers EXCEPT Daytona’s!!! Hotel stock is so substandard that a large share of attendees stay in Orange Co. or Brevard. I long ago told Nascar they’re irrational to remain in Daytona: locals too are poor or disinterested to afford tickets, so most attendees travel from out of state; PLUS who else hold’s mega tourism events during off-seasons when Daytona is dead? My scientific study found its the primary or sole destination, has the most repeat visitors, longest length of stay, and most spent per visitor (as opposed to “family” visitors, spring break, and equal to bikers’).”

Guess what? 

A “scientific study” by The Amazing Soskin shows it’s all our fault. 

You ungrateful bastards. . .

According to the News-Journal’s report, “In 2021, NASCAR will pay just $7,100 on the 211 acres of property where Amazon plans to build its fulfillment center, records show. That rate is 27 times lower than the property tax rate for a vacant lot in the Midtown neighborhood, The News-Journal found.

The reason for NASCAR’s low taxes: the land is currently zoned agricultural as a result of a “Greenbelt Exemption” Florida law that originally passed to help farmers in the late 1950s.”

Apparently, NASCAR uses the acreage – and others like it – for off-site parking during events at Daytona International Speedway – then transitions the land back to a commercial hay operation to claim the lucrative agricultural emption.

Is that within the letter and spirit of the law? 

I don’t know – but it works.

According to a quote in the News-Journal’s article attributed to local blowhole and direct marketing magnate “Mad Mike” Panaggio, a self-anointed civic do-gooder and member of the mysterious CEO Business Alliance, skirting the spirit of the exemption is just “good business”:

“I don’t know for sure, but let’s face it, it’s a prime piece of parking for when they have the Daytona 500,” said Panaggio. “(NASCAR has) been looking for ways to maximize their return. You can’t blame them for making a good business move (by taking advantage of the state’s greenbelt exemption). It’s just a loophole.” 


According to the News-Journal report:

“In Volusia County, a number of other companies have also taken advantage of the greenbelt exemption, including CTO Realty Growth Inc., the Daytona Beach-based real estate investment trust formerly known as Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co.

After benefitting from the greenbelt exemption tax break for many years, CTO sold off more than 10,500 acres of former agricultural land in Daytona Beach over the past decade.

Today, those properties are home to several commercial developments, including Tanger Outlets and Tomoka Town Center shopping centers, the new super-sized Buc-ee’s gas station next to the Interstate 95/LPGA Boulevard interchange, as well as the rapidly growing Jimmy Buffett-themed Latitude Margaritaville 55-and-older community, and numerous luxury apartment complexes.”

Don’t you remember those massive commercial farming operations on LPGA Boulevard east of I-95? 

Me neither. . .

According to Volusia County Property Appraiser Larry Bartlett – “The system is the system.” 


Now, The Amazing Soskin would have us believe his cyphering has determined it’s all our fault – those “entitled Daytonans” – who haven’t handed over near enough of their hard-earned tax dollars to ensure the astronomical success of NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway – totally ignoring the $40 million in city/county incentives we gifted to DIS for construction of their “synergistic” One Daytona retail and entertainment complex.

Now, to show their appreciation, our friends on the Board of Supervisors at the One Daytona Community Development District shove a one percent “enhanced amenity fee” (a money-grubbing sales-related tax by another name) down our throats on each purchase we make at the publicly funded complex. 

What, you don’t want to support One Daytona’s “enhanced amenities”?

Tough shit.  Not an option.

If you want to patronize the shopping center that we subsidized – then pay-up at the register, rube.

My God.  When will we ever finish paying for this thing?

Yet, according to the esteemed Dr. Soskin, it is all our fault – the “poor and disinterested” taxpayers of Daytona Beach and Volusia County – the great unwashed hordes of asset limited/income constrained drones who fill the warehouse jobs and minimum wage scut work they are forced to underwrite with their hard-earned tax dollars – further strapped by incessant tax increases – hapless victims of an inescapable artificial economy who have “failed” their all-knowing and all-seeing benevolent benefactors who comprise our economic upper crust. 


Folks, our ‘powers that be’ are continuing their campaign to convince us that We, The Little People – the disenfranchised residents, the “discontents” and skeptics who question why what we see with our own eyes doesn’t comport with what we are told, the overburdened taxpayers who are expected to pay the bills and keep our mouths shut – are the problem, as they force feed us their horribly skewed version of our reality. 

Anyone who holds an opinion contrary to the party line is accused of using “half-truths” and “tainted facts” – discredited with claims our views are not grounded in “facts based in science.”

On Tuesday, just before gifting County Manager George “The Wreck” Recktenwald and County Attorney Mike Dyer a 4% retroactive pay raise – Councilman Danny Robins urged both men to become more active on social media, “Get more involved on social media.  You guys do so much behind the scenes and we have to get out the facts and the truth and present it to the people so they can give us direction.”

So, get ready for more official “facts and truth” oozing from the gilded Tower of Power in DeLand in 2022.

It’s called political gaslighting, designed to make us doubt our collective reality, and it is wrong. 

These self-important poohbahs malign and marginalize anyone who calls out the civic stagnation, secret backroom deals, and the incestuous political relationships that perpetuate the problem – with any public dissent or challenge to the status quo viewed as a violation of the law of lèse-majesté

Don’t take my word for it. 

I encourage you to read “Mad Mike” Panaggio’s late-night tirade I republished in last week’s Angels & Assholes for a prime example of how the Halifax area’s Monarchy view us lowly malcontents here on the Fun Coast.    

I don’t buy any of it – and neither should you. 

In my view, it is time to take local government back, to slow the out-of-control growth and bureaucratic swell, then return competence, collegiality, and citizen input to the process. 

Only Volusia County voters can curb the rapacious greed and insider influence that is threatening our quality of life, destroying our environment, and jeopardizing our grandchildren’s future. 

I hope you will remember that at the ballot box next year. . .  

Asshole           Volusia County Council

On Tuesday, your elected officials on the dais of power in DeLand voted unanimously to gift County Manager George “The Wreck” Recktenwald and County Manager Mike Dyer (the Council’s only direct reports) a generous 4% pay increase bringing their annual salary to $237,217 and $221,738, respectively. 

Oh, to add insult to the thousands of families in Volusia County who are considered asset limited/income constrained (read: Poor) – many struggling to make ends meet this Holiday Season as they languish at or below the poverty line, suffering under massive inflation, low paying jobs, and a dearth of affordable housing – Councilman Ben Johnson ensured that Recktenwald and Dyer will have very Merry Christmas by moving to make their raise retroactive to October 2. 

What?  You didn’t receive the same consideration for your arduous work schlepping boxes from A to B at (enter warehouse/distribution center here) this year? 

My God.  Shameless. 

The generous increase comes on the heels of a highly contentious budget cycle, with long-suffering taxpayers reeling from yet another hike in ad valorem taxes and fees – a well-choreographed charade where our craven elected officials wring their hands with faux-urgency and fan fears over what will become of us if we fail to feed the voracious bureaucratic machine – despite the fervent pleas of tax-strapped citizens and small businesses who begged for relief. 

In my view, meeting-to-meeting, Attorney Dyer sits quietly like a frightened little boy trying desperately to avoid the tumult and dysfunction at the adult table – as Mr. Recktenwald practices the art and science of selective communication (using indecipherable bureaucratese to mystify his bosses on the dais, who are too embarrassed to admit they have no idea what he’s talking about) and running interference for senior administrators whose contributions are limited to canned PowerPoint presentations – ensuring nothing of substance happens for months on end – always buying time using complex foot-dragging techniques. 

For instance, ever wonder what happened to the impact fee study Chairman Jeff Brower asked for a year ago while the bulldozers continue to roar?  Me too. . .

Conveniently, on Tuesday, Mr. Recktenwald used the tried-and-true “selective memory trick” to disabuse rank-and-file county employees – those who are actually in the trenches providing essential services – of the notion they will be receiving a $1,000 bonus like the council suggested they would in July.

I wonder what that takeback does for the ‘morale and retention’ of county employees?

Unfortunately, one of Mr. Recktenwald’s direct reports – Chief Financial Officer Ryan Ossowski – used “creative accounting” to lead our elected dullards into believing federal CARES Act funding would total a whopping $77 million – an enormous pile of unrestricted funny money that could be lavished on nice-to-have projects, including employee bonuses.   

Remember the time-wasting roundtable where the elected officials salivated over the federal manna and dreamed up a lengthy list of all the pie-in-the-sky pork and projects they could fund with the windfall?

Then, in November, Ossowski pulled the rug out from under them by revising his initial wild ass guess downward to between $33 to $65 million.

How embarrassing. . .and confusing.  

I guess that’s what happens when the fox outfoxes himself, eh? 

No harm/no foul. 

Because in Volusia County government, the idea of accountability commensurate with responsibility (you know, the very concept that justifies these astronomical salary and benefit packages?) is anathema.


Because when push comes to shove – those we elect to represent our interests can simply fall back on the political insulation provided by Mr. Recktenwald’s discerning amnesia. 

A talent which now commands $237,217 annually. . .  

Angel              Sweetie & Big John

I normally stick to original thoughts and opinions here in the wide-open space of Barker’s View, but this week, Volusia County icon – my friend Big John – penned an eloquent eulogy published in The Daytona Beach News-Journal honoring his beloved “Sweetie,” Barbara Ann Kincade – a fitting tribute to an extraordinary lady who lost her fight with pulmonary fibrosis in October:

“You all know a lot about me. I’ve been a lucky guy. News-Journal writers covered many of my exploits during 12 years on the Volusia County Council, serving as both chair and vice-chair. I was able to build, with the great Dennis McGee, Daytona International Airport which opened in 1992. I was involved in the original Ocean Center construction, rode a Barnum & Bailey elephant to the Ocean Center, served on the Serenity House Board for over 20 years, and saw a road named for me. I have done two strenuous hours a day on the radio for 20 years, earned a 30-year Ph.D. in Tireology, won Modern Tire Dealer’s Best Advertiser in the World and an Addy Award, and once welcomed a quarter of a million people to the Daytona International Speedway.

But my luckiest day was in May 2003, when I met Barbara Ann Kincade, aka Sweetie. Pretty, smart and strong-willed, she liked me despite my many idiosyncrasies. Her hard work writing and polishing speeches made her a distinguished toastmaster, one who mentored others and made many lifelong friends like Jean Linder Jones. When the roof blew off my home, Sweetie moved me into her apartment, saw me through two bouts of prostate cancer, and helped me build the Big House. She counseled me on my radio broadcasts and became my biggest cheerleader.

An excellent tennis player, Sweetie encouraged me to play and get in better shape, and she loved playing with Johnny, Manny, and Demetrius. A koi fish person of the year, she helped create our pond and wondrous natural garden. She worked with the Native Plant Society and volunteered at the Rose Marie Bryan Child Care Center on South Street, advocating for poor kids in the school system. Our property was honored as a National Wildlife Federal Certified Habitat, a University of Florida Friendly Yard and received a City of Holly Hill beautification award, all earned by my humble Sweetie’s hard work. Her fun bridge games included Weegie, Shelia, and Alice.

Sweetie loved her autistic nephew, Kevin, with her whole heart and soul. She was his No. 1 advocate when he attended Deltona High School. At home, she was his teacher and best friend, bringing him self-improvement tools and taking him to evaluations by Dr. Joellen Rogers and Easter Seals. When Kevin stayed with us at the Big House, he went everywhere with us as Sweetie loved to take him shopping and loved him for who he was, her inseparable companion. She loved her family, devoted to her two brothers, Ralph and Barry, two children Brent and CJ, four grandkids, April, Carlie, Tyler, Charlie, niece Lesley, nephews Austin, Chris, and David, cousin Duane, and great-grandchild Gabriel.

Spending 18 years of life with this fabulous woman made me the luckiest guy in the world, inspiring me to be a better man. In return, I did everything in my power to bring her happiness and a really good life. She saw the best in people, spent little money on herself, and gave her entire $1,200 stimulus check to the Jerry Doliner Food Bank.

Her dollars supported numerous other agencies to help anyone she could, encouraging me to do good deeds I might not otherwise have done. She fed and cared for our two giant Great Pyrenees dogs, Goliath and Major.

Sadly, she struggled with pulmonary fibrosis. Prescribed steroids led to steroid psychosis and exacerbated her lung problems. My Sweetie passed away at 10:30 p.m., Oct. 14, 2021.

Her care at Halifax Hospice was exceptional. They called to tell me she wasn’t doing well, and I was able to get there to spend her last hour holding her hand and letting her know how important she was.

I really miss my Sweetie, who had a great belief in God and succeeded in her mission to educate me about Him. Please forgive me for not mentioning all of her friends, she had so many that she loved and cared for.

I hope people who knew and loved her will be able to come to Our Lady of Lourdes Dec. 18 at 11 a.m., when Father Phil will perform a memorial service for Barbara Ann Kincade.”

Thank you, my friend, for gifting us with this touching tribute to a life well lived.    

We should all be so loved. . .

Quote of the Week

“There were two similar stories in the News-Journal this morning that got my attention: The first was about the Amazon fulfillment center proposed for Daytona Beach and supported by a city council that approved a $4 million rebate to Amazon and the second story was about the Toyota electric battery plant to be built in North Carolina with tax and infrastructure rebates from the state worth $430 million.

The Daytona Beach project promises 1,000 jobs and the battery plant promises 1,750 jobs. Some simple math says that we are paying $4,000 per job for Amazon and North Carolina is paying $245,000 per job to Toyota. While I must admit that makes the Daytona Beach investment a real bargain, I do not condone the secret proceedings that brought in more low skilled lower-wage jobs instead of high-tech jobs to significantly lift the average wage scale in our area and keep our graduates from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College in our community.”

–Jim Kotas, Daytona Beach, writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Letters to the Editor, “A tale of two cities,” Wednesday, December 15, 2021

And Another Thing!

Tampa-based developer Framework Group returned to the trough this week – this time seeking $7.5 million in tax breaks for a 300-unit apartment complex and parking garage on north Beach Street.

Sound familiar?

By unanimous vote of the Daytona Beach City Commission, on Wednesday evening they got exactly what they wanted. . . 

Per the usual, Daytona Beach Deputy City Manager/Fire Chief/Developer Shill Dru Driscoll represented Framework Group – the multi-functional bureaucratic Swiss Army knife and in-house pseudo-expert on downtown placemaking – who never met an “incentive grant” or corporate welfare scheme he didn’t like. 

Apparently, Mr. Driscoll spends most of his day concocting reasons why the residents he ostensibly works for should gift the developer du jour, or next super-secret “economic development” enigma, a multi-million-dollar spiff – drumming up elaborate memorandums to City Manager Deric Feacher selling the idea with stories of “untested” markets and super-secret projects that we later learn involve handing $4 million in tax incentives to the wealthiest online retailer in the known universe. . .


Last year it became apparent that Framework Group – along with Sir John Albright and our old friends at CTO Realty Growth (formerly known as the good ol’ boys investment club Consolidated Tomoka Land Company) – had a powerful advocate in the bowels of Daytona Beach City Hall.

In October 2020, Mr. Driscoll was taken to the woodshed by that iteration of the Daytona Beach City Commission for dragging a half-baked incentive plan into the light of day – with out-of-date support materials provided just six-hours before the elected officials were expected to vote on a plan that would have citizens gifting the Framework Group $10.5 million in property tax breaks for a proposed apartment complex and hybrid public/private parking garage on the long-vacant site of the former First Baptist Church at ISB and Ridgewood Avenue.   

Then City Commissioner Rob Gilliland described the rushed incentive shim-sham as “haphazard” – while The Daytona Beach News-Journal rightfully decried the lack of transparency and internal pressure to force a decision in effective darkness – placing blame squarely on former City Manager Jim Chisholm. 

At the time, News-Journal editor Pat Rice wrote:

“As the City Commission seeks Chisholm’s replacement, here’s hoping they look for someone who understands the need to communicate, the need for transparency, and the need to visibly be a cheerleader on behalf of the citizens.”   


I do.

To their credit, the Daytona Beach City Commission rightfully decided to take a deep breath and directed city staff to go back to the drawing board and develop hard answers to puzzling questions.

Ultimately, Framework Group dropped the project.

I guess the “Project Delta” apartment/garage was undoable without millions in public incentives to ensure a profit margin?    

Now, in selling the “new” north Beach Street plan (which looks a whole lot like the “old” plan) Mr. Driscoll had the brass huevos to blame Framework Group’s decision to abandon the project on an “untested market”:

“Assisting in furthering the City’s vision this is Framework Group’s second attempt to bring housing to the downtown market as they previously were under contract for the downtown property known as Project Delta. Unfortunately the challenges of the untested market didn’t allow for the project to come to fruition.”

Say what?

Things are different this time around?


In my view, Driskoll’s highly polished embroidery doesn’t do anything for the Framework Group’s credibility (who are returning to the same untested market?) with suspicious residents who are tired of seeing their hard-earned tax dollars used to underwrite the private, for-profit projects of out-of-town developers. 

What became of the “domino effect” we were all told to expect when we helped Brown & Brown locate its world headquarters downtown on promises a glass and steel insurance office would “…catapult the heart of downtown into a new stratosphere” – what former City Manager Jim Chisholm called “a game changer for the downtown area”?     

Now, we are being told downtown remains an “untested market” where potential developers struggle to get financing for the next game changing “catalyst in downtown”?

According to Driscoll’s memorandum to Mr. Feacher:

“The Downtown Redevelopment Area has not experienced a surge of new residential units on this scale in modern times, making it (an) untested market. Standard speculator developers are limited in their abilities to demonstrate financial viability to their financial partners in the untested market of downtown.”

My ass.

Now that Daytona Beach has a new City Manager in the effervescent Deric Feacher – why is he allowing senior bureaucrats to play the same tired games with the same tired players while expecting a different result? 

And why do Daytona Beach elected officials continue to rubber stamp them?   

Perhaps most important: Where do these tax giveaways end?

Eventually, many hope the City of Daytona Beach will come to the realization that the design and planning of public space is best accomplished with the input of citizens and stakeholders in an open, inventive, and transparent process – free of the hype and horseshit that breaks the community’s spirit time-and-again with the latest panacea project. 

In my view, if city government plans to continue meddling in the marketplace, then it is time to change a system where projects are hidden behind goofy cryptonyms and Secret Squirrel gameplaying – a patently unfair process that continues to erode public confidence and demands policymakers form decisions without adequate information or due diligence. 

While transparency might hamper the outsized “I know something you don’t know” advantage of a few local powerbrokers, it will ultimately produce something we can all take ownership of, while fostering a creative atmosphere and collective vision for the future of the Halifax area that backroom machinations and lucrative corporate welfare schemes can never produce.

That’s all for me.  Have a great weekend, y’all!

“The System is the System”

Taxation – as the principal source of government funding which pays for essential services like roads, utilities, and public protection – should be based on the concept of basic fairness – an equitable process of valuation and assessment which treats everyone equally – with impartiality and due process – each property owner paying their fair share, guided by rules which neither “soak the rich,” punish the poor, or allow unenforced “loopholes” to provide a lucrative advantage to some.    

Determining what constitutes ones “fair share” is why we have lawyers and tax accountants who specialize in navigating the maze of ever-changing codes and policies to ensure their client is taking advantage of all legal deductions and exemptions – because even proponents of ‘Big Government’ rarely say they want to contribute more in local, state, and federal taxes than they are required. 

Then there are the blatant abuses of the tax code that allow corporations and major commercial landowners to dodge their burden by parking large tracts under a questionable “agricultural exemption” until the market is conducive for developing the property.

A situation that happens far more than we might expect in Florida. 

On Sunday, The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s business editor Clayton Park wrote perhaps the most important article you will read all year, an eye-opening exposé on the local application of Florida’s dubious “Greenbelt Law” – which was originally designed to protect farmers engaged in bona fide agricultural operations by taxing their land at a lower rate – an exemption now used as a flagrant tax dodge by some land holders who manipulate the system for personal and corporate advantage. 

This isn’t new – it has gone on for years.

For instance, according to the News-Journal’s report, “In 2021, NASCAR will pay just $7,100 on the 211 acres of property where Amazon plans to build its fulfillment center, records show. That rate is 27 times lower than the property tax rate for a vacant lot in the Midtown neighborhood, The News-Journal found.

The reason for NASCAR’s low taxes: the land is currently zoned agricultural as a result of a “Greenbelt Exemption” Florida law that originally passed to help farmers in the late 1950s.”

By comparison, once the Amazon Fulfilment Center is constructed, property taxes will skyrocket to an estimated $1 million annually.

Apparently NASCAR uses the acreage – and others like it – for off-site parking during races and events at Daytona International Speedway – then transitions the land back to a “bone fide” hay operation operated under a subsidiary in order to claim the agricultural emption. 

According to a quote in the News-Journal’s article attributed to local blowhard and direct marketing magnate “Mad Mike” Panaggio, a member of the mysterious CEO Business Alliance, skirting the letter of the exemption is just “good business”:

“I don’t know for sure, but let’s face it, it’s a prime piece of parking for when they have the Daytona 500,” said Panaggio. “(NASCAR has) been looking for ways to maximize their return. You can’t blame them for making a good business move (by taking advantage of the state’s greenbelt exemption). It’s just a loophole.”  


Trust me.  This “good business move” is not limited to NASCAR. 

A few minutes of research on the Volusia County Property Appraisers website found numerous parcels in areas awaiting development currently enjoying the ag exemption – with one parcel off Boomtown Boulevard showing a land value of $503,000 (held by an “equity land trust” which protects the owner’s true identity) that will pay just $158.87 in ad valorem taxes based upon a “timberland” exemption.

You read that right. 

Something I found most shocking in the News-Journal’s informative piece was the involvement of some very big local “movers & shakers”:

“In Volusia County, a number of other companies have also taken advantage of the greenbelt exemption, including CTO Realty Growth Inc., the Daytona Beach-based real estate investment trust formerly known as Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co.

After benefitting from the greenbelt exemption tax break for many years, CTO sold off more than 10,500 acres of former agricultural land in Daytona Beach over the past decade.

Today, those properties are home to several commercial developments, including Tanger Outlets and Tomoka Town Center shopping centers, the new super-sized Buc-ee’s gas station next to the Interstate 95/LPGA Boulevard interchange, as well as the rapidly growing Jimmy Buffett-themed Latitude Margaritaville 55-and-older community, and numerous luxury apartment complexes.”

I find that disturbing. You should, too.    

Anyone remember seeing large scale commercial agriculture operations along Boomtown Boulevard before Tanger, Tomoka Town Center, or Buc-ees came to be? 

I’m asking, because other than a few haybales rotting into the ground, I don’t remember commercial farming and ranching taking place on LPGA east of I-95 either. . . 

So, what are those in a position of power doing to ensure that We, The Little People who shoulder the bulk of the tax-and-spend bureaucratic gluttony in Volusia County are protected from the abuse of “loopholes” and tax breaks that our small businesses will never know? 

Not much. . .

When asked by the News-Journal why the property taxes for the future Amazon site are so low, Volusia County Property Appraiser Larry Bartlett, said:

“The system is the system,” he said of the greenbelt exemption that gives a tax break to owners of agricultural land.”

Like so much of the inequity inherent to Volusia County government and taxation, “it is what it is,” I guess. . . 

My ass.

According to Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida and co-author of a book titled “Politics in Florida” (I’ll bet that’s a frightening tome, eh?) who was quoted by Mr. Park for his informative piece:

“The bad part about this for the average taxpayer is that it means there’s less money for much needed services such as roads, fire and police, and that the tax burden falls more on other commercial property owners as well as homeowners,” said Jewett. “After all, somebody has to pay for these services.”

In Volusia County, want to guess who that “somebody” is?

Each year come budget time, taxpayers watch helplessly as our elected and appointed officials on the dais of power wring their hands and conjure the apocalyptic consequences that will rain down on us like a horde of locusts if they fail to raise our property taxes to feed the voracious bureaucratic excess. 

Then they cry the Poormouth Blues – wailing scary stories of how we are all doomed to snarl and gridlock unless we vote to increase the sales tax to pay for improved transportation infrastructure – as they incessantly approve more, more, more development – adding to the groaning burden while expecting you and I to bail out their asinine “cart before the horse” growth at all cost strategy. 

At election time, we witness real estate development interests skew the political playing field with massive campaign contributions to hand-select candidates who rubberstamp rezoning requests and keep impact fees low while placing the burden squarely on voiceless residents – who are expected to pay the bills and keep our pie holes shut – as our elected officials increasingly shut us out with little substantive input or access.    

In turn, we pay and struggle under the increasing burden while receiving little, if anything, in return – because, what else are we going to do – watch from the sidelines as our homes and property are ripped from our hands and sold to the highest bidder on the courthouse steps?

In my view, it is time for Property Appraiser Larry Bartlett and Tax Collector Will Roberts, as politically accountable constitutional officers, to commission an outside independent audit of previous and current agricultural exemptions in Volusia County with stiff tax levies and applicable penalties for any entity found guilty of submitting false applications, fraudulent claims, or fails to maintain a “good faith commercial agricultural use of the land.”

We should also demand that our legislators stop this pernicious practice of allowing developers to dodge millions in property taxes across the state by skirting the intent of the law using what has become known as the “Rent-a-Cow” scam.    

Who knows, with everyone paying their legitimate fair share, we might be able to build roads and improve infrastructure for a hundred years here on the Fun Coast, right?


Don’t hold your breath. 

According to Professor Jewett, speaking in the News-Journal, “It’s unlikely that we’re going to see any big changes because closing this loophole would affect some very powerful interest groups.”

My God.

Unfortunately, it appears no one who should has any interest in rocking the boat, closing lucrative loopholes, or disturbing ‘bidness as usual’ when the interests of our “Rich & Powerful” donor class are at stake.

And that, dear readers, is all ye know and all ye need to know about how things work here in the Sunshine State – the biggest whorehouse in the world. . .


Join Barker’s View this afternoon on GovStuff Live! with Big John beginning at 4:00pm as we discuss the local issues and take your calls on the fastest two-hours in radio!

Tune-in locally at 1380am “The CAT” or online at (Listen Live button).


Angels & Assholes for December 10, 2021

Hi, kids!

It’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way.

Let’s look at who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was.

Angel               DeLand Community Activist Dr. Wendy Anderson

How many ways does the DeLand City Commission need to hear it? 

Last month – during the fourth ‘first reading’ of a developer’s request for rezoning of the former Sandhill Golf Course – the DeLand City Commission listened to more than four-hours of testimony from area residents and environmental experts over fears of ground contamination at the proposed site of the 615 unit “Beresford Reserve” project.

At issue are very real concerns about pesticides and other contaminates found in the soil of the former golf course that also served as a municipal waste dump in the 1940’s and 50’s. 

Fortunately, DeLand residents have a champion in the impressive community activist Wendy Anderson Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Science and Studies at Stetson University, a member of both the City of DeLand’s economic development and brownfield program advisory boards, who also serves as chair of the Volusia County Soil & Water Conservation District.

As an environmental scientist, activist, and educator, Dr. Anderson has devoted her life to researching and improving sustainability and water quality practices, with a focus on promoting environmental education, natural resource conservation, and sustainable foods systems.

In a candidate statement supporting her 2020 run for the Volusia County Soil & Water Conservation District, Dr. Anderson said she “..believes that soil, water, and food are the foundation of all of society, and that protecting those resources to ensure food and water security for all people now and into the future is the most important work she needs to be doing.”

In my view, Dr. Anderson’s valiant effort to educate citizens and policymakers on the potential health and safety issues surrounding the proposed development of a former golf course, sitting atop a buried dump, is a testament to her personal and professional commitment to our environment and quality of life.

In an excellent piece in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Old golf course’s past as dump stymies plans,” business editor Clayton Park quoted Dr. Anderson as she implored the elected officials to postpone the rezoning request until further tests can be performed:

“Tonight is about history,” Anderson told the commissioners at the meeting. “It’s about the history of our city and the 20th century and the history that we’re making and recording tonight. The decisions you all make here tonight will have consequences (for current and future generations). This is not a perfunctory rezoning hearing for yet another green space, for yet more houses.”

Attorney Mark Watts, who specializes in land use issues for the venerable Cobb Cole and represents developer Elevation Development, countered that his client has voluntarily “…agreed to hold off on breaking ground until a more comprehensive and thorough environmental study can be done on the former Sandhill golf course site.”

That’s a good thing.

Because during the meeting, elected officials heard input from various environmental experts on both sides of the issue – to include the results of soil testing which showed the presence of “arsenic, barium, chromium, gasoline, a series of heavy metals including lead, copper, nickel, cadmium, mercury, silver, zirconium, nitrates, oils, solid waste (and) pesticides.”

Damn.  Has it come to this?

First, we foul our nest with pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, toxic chemicals, and other hazardous waste – then set about transferring the contamination to another site in something called an “environmental cleanup” – all so the lucrative land can be developed with a clean conscience – permitting single-family homes to be built and sold where these poisonous substances once lay, hoping against hope we get them all.

My God. 

Why is it we never err on the side of caution – or learn from previous mistakes?    

According to the News-Journal report, during the meeting, officials heard chilling anecdotal evidence from Donna Pepin, a resident of DeLand and member of the West Volusia Hospital Authority Board, who told a horror story of her service as a Hospice nurse treating terminally ill cancer patients living in Country Club Estates – a subdivision built on the site of the former DeLand Country Club. 

“The reason soon became apparent when several homeowners in that community filed a lawsuit after learning that their wells had become contaminated from pesticides used on the old golf course.”


Reports from the Volusia County Department of Health show that in 2011 and 2012 testing found that 116 wells in Country Club Estates were positive for the now-banned insecticide Dieldrin while 171 wells were found to have no detectable levels of the substance.    

At the time, internationally recognized environmental activist Erin Brockovich spoke to concerned residents in DeLand about the contamination found at Country Club Estates which ultimately resulted in a class-action lawsuit.    

Conversely, at the time, some in the golf industry referred to concerned residents as “enviro-lunatic homeowners” set on destroying a golf facility with “anti-pesticide nonsense,” citing the “miniscule” amounts of Dieldrin found in the water wells.   

Look, I’m no expert – but I know what I want, and don’t want, in my drinking water.

In 2019, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry listed Dieldrin at 18 on their Substance Priority List of 275 toxins commonly found at facilities on the National Priorities List, “…which are determined to pose the most significant potential threat to human health due to their known or suspected toxicity and potential for human exposure…”

Scary stuff. 

At the end of the day, the DeLand City Commission directed Mr. Watts and Elevation Development to return for a fifth “first reading” next month.

I applaud the excellent work of Dr. Wendy Anderson.  Her firm stand and dedication to protecting Volusia County residents from potential environmental contaminants is important. 

The decisions made by the DeLand City Commission, and other elective bodies throughout Volusia County, will have profound consequences on the health of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren – and those impacts will be the metric by which they measure the safety and sustainability of the environment, water quality, and natural resources we leave behind.   

In my view, that generational responsibility – our legacy of environmental stewardship – is all too often compromised by the insatiable greed of speculative developers who now see even toxic waste sites as an opportunity.   

Angel               City of Holly Hill and Pictona II

One year ago, over 70% of voters reauthorized the Volusia Forever and Volusia ECHO programs – initiatives funded by a capped ad valorem property tax that supports land preservation efforts and environmental, cultural, historic, and outdoor recreational facilities.

Last week, the ECHO Advisory Board – an oversight committee which reviews grant requests for applicability then makes funding recommendations to the Volusia County Council – approved an “exceptional grant” valued at $2.5 million to assist the expansion of Pictona at Holly Hill.

By any metric, this incredibly successful recreational and fitness draw is quickly putting Holly Hill – and Volusia County – back on the map.

The $6.3 million facility that opened in July 2020 is the exceptional vision of Rainer and Julie Martens of Ormond Beach – and has quickly developed a reputation as the epicenter of the fastest growing sport in America.

The ECHO grant will pave the way for the estimated $6 million addition to the facility, doubling the number of courts and adding a 10,000-square foot clubhouse, to include a championship stadium complete with a skybox and seating for 1,200 spectators.

In addition to hosting international pickleball tournaments, this multifunctional facility will be configured to accommodate stage shows as well.  Under the partnership, the City of Holly Hill will host monthly concerts and community events at the new stadium.      

In September, the Holly Hill City Commission approved $1 million in public funds to assist the expansion – just under the $1.2 million the community contributed to the initial plan last year – with construction of that facility assisted by a $400,000 standard ECHO grant and the bulk provided by the Marten’s charitable foundation. 

In my view, this represents the epitome of a positive public/private partnership – a project that has proven its success before additional funds were invested – a true community asset that will pay economic, recreational, and wellness dividends to citizens of Volusia County while providing a quality tourism product beyond the quick-buck “special events” strategy our hospitality gurus have relied on for decades.

Rather than the typical corporate welfare schemes foisted on Volusia County taxpayers under a cloak of secrecy – investment in regional recreational amenities like Pictona provides a demonstrable and sustainable public benefit beyond propping up some corporate bottom-line and skewing the playing field to the disadvantage of small local businesses.      

In fact, Pictona has had the opposite effect. 

For instance, the advent of Pictona II has spurred interest from local investors who are actively considering a luxury recreational vehicle resort for the former Bishop’s Dairy site off Flomich Avenue – vacant pastureland at the virtual center of the US-1 commercial corridor.

I understand the exclusive RV resort will cater specifically to motorcoach owners drawn to events at Pictona – in a natural setting uniquely situated to provide direct access to the Daytona Beach Resort Area – with the upscale comforts and amenities that will keep visitors returning to our area year-after-year.     

Kudos to the City of Holly Hill and Pictona II for raising the bar!

And special thanks to the Volusia ECHO Advisory Board for seeing the continuing civic and economic benefit in assisting the expansion of this extraordinary community recreational and fitness complex. 

Remarkable things are happening in The City with a Heart!          

Quote of the Week

“Mike Panaggio

When it comes to First Step Shelter thankfully we do not listen to the experts on Volusia Issues that make up the majority of our Volusia Discontents in the Daytona area. You know the ones who are constantly negative about everything. They rarely take the time to get the facts. Criticize everything and rarely give to any charity. Real warm Helpful people. Never offer any kind of solutions. Just talk about their hard earned tax money. They are forever upset that they have been left behind by those that actually do something about the problems. The ones who actually try to make this a better place. I am sick of the partial facts. Yes FSS is operating at about 50 beds. Our plan is to raise the money to actually buy more quality beds and to increase occupancy. We need to buy 50 more beds and they have to be super supportive and specially made. Not cheap junk like was donated several years ago. DR. Victoria Falhberg continues to find the money to expand the operation. No one has done the job of finding money like she has. Over 1 million in new funds since she took over. Yet our Amazing Discontents who usually have 20-30% 0f the facts go off half cocked and criticize because that’s what they do best. Criticize without knowledge. It makes you guys feel better doesn’t it. So how about this. Prove me wrong. I will match every donation required to buy the beds so we can make your dream of having a full FSS happen. I am betting that I get a few dollars from the regulars that actually do care like Ann Ruby and John Nicholson and Maybe Ken Strickland but the majority, I mean the huge majority do not actually give a dam. They do not give to charity they offer nothing but unfounded criticism. How about you Mr. blogger, you say you care what’s your excuse for not taking my challenge. How about a real great facetious quote, something real colorful and meaningless. Just put down that beer and give a few dollars. I am willing to continue to work my tail off for FSS like very few others do. Here is where you go whatever you donate to bed sponsorships I will match. We need 50 more beds. Its a lot of dollars but I have half of it as my responsibility.”

–“Mad Mike” Panaggio, CEO of DME Holdings, member of the CEO Business Alliance, and First Step Shelter Board of Directors, writing on Facebook’s political affairs forum Volusia Issues, Friday, December 3, 2021, 11:38pm

Folks, I don’t make this stuff up. 

Couldn’t if I tried. . .

The above grammatical nightmare was recently posted by Mike Panaggio, the prominent CEO of DME Holdings, a Daytona Beach direct marketing firm/sports academy and member of the mysterious CEO Business Alliance – a shadowy organization that claims its “sole mission” is to “…stimulate new job creation and capital investment in Volusia County,” (that is, when they aren’t trying desperately to raise your sales tax) – and long-time member of the beleaguered First Step Shelter Board of Directors.

He is also given to composing meanspirited, late-night jeremiads berating We, The Ungrateful Little People, always reminding us of the scope and capabilities of his extraordinary wealth and success. . .

Since neither Mr. Panaggio, the CEO Alliance, or the First Step Shelter has publicly disavowed, removed, or apologized for his highly offensive and derogatory missive which alienated thousands of potential donors on social media – I must assume it is authentic – because this is not the first time us foul Fun Coast malcontents have been on the receiving end of a Panaggio rebuke.    

That is why his latest embarrassment deserved a larger audience – especially given my not-so-veiled honorable mention:

“How about you Mr. blogger, you say you care what’s your excuse for not taking my challenge.  How about a real great facetious quote, something real colorful and meaningless.  Just put down that beer and give a few dollars.”

My God. . . Cringeworthy, indeed.   

Here’s a pithy quote for you on behalf of my fellow Volusia Issues contributors:

“Up yours, Panaggio. . .”

Was that ‘colorful and meaningless’ enough for you?

Because it damn sure comes from the heart. . .

I left Mr. Panaggio’s latest crudity in its original, unedited form – a raw stream-of-conscience virtue signaling tirade – so you can judge for yourself how our social, civic, and economic elite go about soliciting donations, inspiring confidence, and building community support for our publicly funded – and desperately challenged – homeless assistance center. 


Apparently, it is not enough that Mr. Panaggio sees himself as a do-gooder – in his self-absorbed world, it is more important that others see Mr. Panaggio as a do-gooder – perhaps that is why he paints himself a Tier-1 philanthropist during this “season of giving” – and if he has to call you a liar, belittle your opinions, disparage previous donations as “cheap junk,” and marginalize anyone he disagrees with in a braggy harangue to get that point across, so be it.   

Is it possible the All-Knowing and All-Seeing Great Wizard of Weirdness telepathically knows which charitable organizations you and I (branded “Volusia Discontents”) choose to support – and which we do not?

Look, I won’t get into the litany of perception issues, waste, mismanagement, toxic politics, and old-fashioned foul-ups that have plagued the First Step concept (whatever that is) since its conflicted inception – serious organizational bungling – including the tragic death of a client for lack of a simple public transportation plan (at a homeless shelter?) – in my view, these poor optics (or gross incompetence) has kept many potential donors at arm’s length. 

Now, we are being harshly lectured by a self-centered First Step board member – told that the real reason the facility has failed to thrive is due to shoddy beds – “cheap junk” – bunks that were no-doubt gifted by a well-meaning donor whose generosity is now being badmouthed by the very person who failed to inspect the suitability of the beds before they were accepted and pressed into service.    

Who does that?

In my experience, the Mike Panaggio’s of the world – shameless show-boaters who stage a Broadway production whenever they write a check – always look down their long noses at those of us here in the real world who do not see things exactly as they do. . .   

Screw that.   

Given the well-publicized turmoil and controversy, many believe First Step has become little more than an income source for multiple layers of staff and management – with  little, if any, measurable impact on the still prevalent ‘homeless problem’ we were all promised was the “shelters” incredibly expensive raison d’être.

Those negative perceptions are to be expected, given the complete lack of an effective public communications plan, beyond Mr. Panaggio’s midnight ravings. . . 

Is there another explanation – or is it my fault for pointing out a pile of shit so my neighbors don’t step in it?  Again? 

Given the facility’s recurring $113,000 monthly nut (2020 figures) I am surprised the shelter’s charitable giving strategy seems limited to a sitting board member throwing angry insults on Facebook then groveling for handouts?

Weird approach, eh?            

In September 2020, the Volusia County Council directed some $1.09 million in CARES Act funding to the needy First Step shelter – a cash infusion of public funds that we were told would be used to hire even more staff, build a 1,000 square foot addition, dedicated computer room, a floor-to-ceiling partition for the multipurpose room, with the remainder of the federal manna being used to:

“…hang microfiber curtains around bunk beds to prevent germ transmission; install motion-activated faucets, urinals and toilets; add UV air disinfection units; build outdoor patio roofs; buy patio furniture; purchase high-grade washers and dryers; hire a housing coordinator who would help find residents places to live; and add another new full-time employee who would monitor residents for up to 12 months after they moved into permanent housing.”


I do.

So – just one year on – what happened

With all the brainpower we have purchased with our “hard-earned tax dollars,” you mean to tell me no one thought it might be smart to purchase replacement beds with the windfall? 

Really? Touchless toilets but no beds?

At a homeless shelter?

In my view, Volusia County taxpayers have continuously given much more than their fair share to support that expensive debacle in the hinterlands – a homeless “shelter” in name only – and it is high time for the First Step concept to stand or fall on its own two feet.

If not, let the City of Daytona Beach simply dissolve it – chalk it up to former City Manager Jim Chisholm’s promising, but financially unsustainable, idea that became a perpetual parasite on the neck of Volusia County taxpayers.

Then our ‘powers that be’ can use the land for what many believe was its intended purpose all along:

Allowing P$S Paving a lucrative source of fill dirt until the whole shebang can be sold to the developer du jour and developed into the next lakeside “lifestyle” community. . . 

And Another Thing!

Santa Claus came early for many on the Fun Coast when Pat Rice, editor of The Daytona Beach News-Journal and Commissar of the Political Education and Propaganda organ of Volusia County’s Old Guard, announced his much anticipated retirement this week.    

Rather than doing what a conscientious captain should and go down with his ship and skeleton crew – after some 12-years at the helm – Mr. Rice is conveniently abandoning the flaming wreckage of the foundering daily after overseeing the outsourcing of editing, printing, inserting, etc., etc. – as the once bustling newsroom dwindled to a precious few after many talented journalists jumped ship – while others were summarily “downsized,” or simply run off, in an exsanguinating bloodletting Editor Rice dubbed “restructuring.”  

Right or wrong, Pat Rice became the area poster boy for all that is wrong with modern newspapers – willing victims of a decade-long corporate feeding frenzy when once hyper-local papers were gobbled up by hedge funds – traded like chattel – then homogenized, regionalized, and forced into the stable of faceless international media conglomerates who demand fealty to an increasingly progressive slant and a “profit over quality” ethos that continues to lower the bar industrywide.

Then they wallow in self-pity, lamenting the ‘death of print journalism.’ 


Rather than rage against the dying of the light, it seemed Mr. Rice simply acquiesced – becoming  a blunt tool of corporate greed – unable, unwilling, or incapable of producing a marketable product in an increasingly conservative and rapidly growing metropolitan statistical area with a resident population pushing 700,000 – a place desperate for an independent watchdog – an environment where our crude political system is fueled by a few uber-wealthy insiders, a “donor class” comprised of the same five people and industries who control our artificial economy and feed greedily at the public teat.

Unfortunately, those same “Rich and Powerful” (the News-Journal’s description, not mine) happen to be members of an exclusive club that became conversationally known around town as “Friends of Pat” – in my view, an unhealthy fraternization with newsmakers that Mr. Rice flagrantly flaunted – posting social media photographs rubbing the right shoulders, publicly enjoying his chummy relationships with politicians, power brokers, business leaders, and the crème de la crème of the Halifax area’s civic, social, and financial elite. 

You know, those who control everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tide here on the Fun Coast – the very set Mr. Rice should have been aggressively questioning and reporting on?

In my view, Pat’s convenient “friendships” demonstrated just how intertwined the Volusia County triumvirate of ‘Big Money’ donors, the malleable candidates they buy like cheap livestock through exorbitant campaign contributions, and the News-Journal – who always seemed too close to the other two legs of the stool for comfort – have become. 

Over time, disenfranchised News-Journal readers watched as their elected and appointed officials came to arrogantly ignore Mr. Rice’s toothless “watchdogs” (a/k/a the working press) – as they simply cut out the middleman and began communicating with us through in-house spinmeisters – highly paid public mouthpieces who tell us exactly what our government thinks we want to hear in canned press releases that are willingly regurgitated by the News-Journal.

All while good reporters – and the readership they serve – are left to endure the resultant coldshoulder routine, “Multiple attempts were made without success to get comments from (insert powerful public official/developer/powerbroker here).”


I suppose the handwriting was on the wall.  It was clear to anyone paying attention that Mr. Rice has been phoning it in for a while now.  (Because what else is he going to do, now that the News-Journal offices are vacant and the building up for sale?) 

For instance, Mr. Rice recently used his prominent standing space in the Sunday News-Journal to call for even more censorship and infringement of our right to free expression on our last alternative voice – the wide-open space of social media.

I found it odd that a working journalist and self-described defender of our sacred First Amendment protections was openly lamenting the fact that since We, The Voiceless Little People have had our fill of being spoon-fed horseshit – and many have taken to the everyman’s soapbox of social media to rail against government overreach, the bureaucratic tax-and-spend gluttony, and out-of-control growth that is threatening our quality of life – more government regulation is required:    

“(Some blogger/trolls criticize me or The News-Journal in one paragraph while quoting our fine reporting in the next paragraph. I guess, deep down, they appreciate content built on facts.) But the unfair and grossly inaccurate and meanspirilted (sic) comments Facebook and other social media allow in the name of making us all “friends,” and the damaging tribalism they’re created at the community and national level, and their willingness to allow foreign adversaries to plant false information – all of it making the owners of Facebook and their investors billions of dollars every quarter – have convinced me that regulation is needed.”

Unless there is another “blogger/troll” on the Fun Coast that I am not aware of, I egomaniacally presumed Mr. Rice was referring to me and I have worn the disparaging moniker as a badge of honor ever sense. . .

What Mr. Rice failed to mention was the fact his newspaper – and its parent Gannett – have been on the frontlines, fanning the flames of the insane ‘culture wars’ – doing their level best to politicize the pandemic, further dividing us, pitting neighbor-against-neighbor along every perceived difference and viewpoint – then blaming long-suffering taxpayers for the Us vs. Them mentality and historic lack of trust in local government – blaming what he described as “social media pundits,” and maligning elected officials who live up to their promises as “misguided zealots” and liars who “fudge the facts.”   

Unfortunately, it always appeared to me that Mr. Rice was completely out-of-touch with our reality – and his quote in reporter Jim Abbot’s benevolent swansong, “Editor Pat Rice to retire this year,” sounded eerily as if he was having a sudden realization of his true purpose – perhaps a crisis of conscience after selling his once idealistic soul to the devil of corporate media in some weird Faustian bargain:

“A newspaper is really a public trust,” Rice said. “You can be owned by a company or individual, but I have always felt it’s a public trust to do the right thing for the community. A lot goes into that.

“You have to be watchdogs of government; you have to be fair and accurately cover all segments of community, no matter what. You have to cover both the good things as well as the things that need improvement. I don’t want to hold up a specific story other than to say we’ve fulfilled that obligation really well to our readers, and I know the staff will continue to do that.”

Better late than never, I suppose. . . 

Hey, just spit balling here, but perhaps Mr. Rice can find work crafting a more positive message for fellow civic do-gooder “Mad Mike” Panaggio and the struggling First Step Shelter?  

At the end of the day, I admire Mr. Rice’s decision to step aside – to move on to “something else” – because it is the right thing to do for News-Journal subscribers, employees, and the community.

As we watch the stern rise on the sinking SS News-Journal, don’t expect anything to fundamentally change. 

I expect the last act performed by Editor Rice will be to tamp down the grave of our once proud local newspaper, a crumbling pillar of this community now reduced to a bedraggled “holding” of a multinational media conglomerate – a previously trusted source that we have helplessly witnessed devolve into a regionalized rag – the unfortunate legacy of a principled newspaperman turned corporate shill.   

That’s all for me.  Have a great weekend, y’all!   

Past, Present, Future

This weekend an observant friend and I took advantage of this Chamber of Commerce “winter” weather and took a drive – getting lost in the very place we call home – exploring from Ormond Beach south to New Smyrna on South Williamson and Pioneer Trail, then southwest along 415 past Lake Ashby to Osteen, Enterprise, Deltona, and Deland – before looping home north on 17 to US 92. 

I’ve lived in Volusia County virtually my entire life – and I know the Halifax area and places east of the Palmetto Curtain like the back of my hand – but I must admit, when I get over to Wild West Volusia, I activate every electronic device and locator in the Lone Eagle – and even with the best of modern GPS navigation systems working in my favor – sometimes finding my bearings means driving aimlessly until I run into a familiar landmark, like the bumper-to-bumper parking lot that is I-4, then trundling northeast toward home.

To assist the cross-county economy, I picked up a new pair of Wrangler’s at Skip’s Boots in Osteen – and while in Deltona, we shopped Fresco y Más – the delightful Hispanic and Caribbean supermarket opened last month by Jacksonville-based Southeastern Grocers on Providence Boulevard, where I loaded up on my favorite refresher/mixer, Topo Chico, and rounds of delicious queso fresco

Moving north into Delightful Deland I guided east of 17 to avoid the closed streets and building traffic ahead of the 73rd Annual Downtown Christmas Parade – skirting the Holiday bustle of Woodland Boulevard along North Amelia Avenue to International Speedway Boulevard then LPGA Boulevard – passing the massive developments at Mosaic, Margaritaville, etc., etc., through the pinch-point at the Tomoka River bridge and up the causeway of the I-95 overpass where the sprawl of Boomtown Boulevard emerges like a tableau of retail and apartment complexes from AdventHealth Hospital near Ormond Beach to Daytona International Speedway and beyond – punctuated by the black muck of recently cleared pine scrub as developers make the wet earth ready to bring us more “progress.”

As we drove through what remains of the bucolic countryside of south Volusia – the working ranches, nurseries, and active agricultural areas that marked our rural past – then the hulking mega-warehouse that is Amazon’s Deltona “Fulfillment Center,” and a hideous string of under construction wood-frame apartment complexes and cookie cutter subdivisions that mark our future – I couldn’t help but wonder if our forefathers would approve of the voracious appetite of developers and complete lack of planning by our ‘powers that be’ that brought us to this dismal place in our interesting history.  

As we drove along, I felt increasingly like the introspective Marlow of Joseph Conrad’s novella, Heart of Darkness, traveling unavoidably toward the reality of our amoral and irrational decent to a place where our sensitive environment and quality of life is being bought, sold, and developed in an economy of greed. 

It is said ‘for an understanding of the future, look to the past,’ and ours is an interesting one.

Way back in December 1854, the Florida legislature split Orange County, leaving six hundred unfortunate souls languishing on a plot of sandy scrub about the size of Rhode Island, nestled between the St. John’s River and the Atlantic Ocean.

They named us after our largest city at the time, “Volusia,” with some historians claiming the Spanish dubbed us Volusio, after the famed Roman jurist who tutored Marcus Aurelius – others believe it derives from a 19th century B-list magician whose schtick was turning wetlands into money. . . 

Who knows? 

What we know for certain is that Orange County went on to enjoy the fruits of Disney World, theme parks, and metropolitan prosperity – with the rest of Central Florida dragging along on their lucrative coattails – while we became a cautionary tale, the weird drunk uncle who resides at the eastern terminus of the I-4 corridor. . .    

The fact is, we never quite “got our shit together” – falling victim to every rogue pirate in the world – some who brandished a tricorn hat, cutlass, and blunderbuss – now wielding gunslinging land use attorneys – but the rape and pillage of our natural places remains the same. . .    

Yep.  A lot of history here on the Fun Coast – good and bad. 

Many fear Volusia’s enduring legacy will be proving the axiom, “Failure to plan for known problems and predictable outcomes is planning to fail” – a disastrous civic strategy that has been fully embraced by our compromised elected and appointed officials who continue to ignore the natural limitations imposed by our finite water quantity and quality, the fact our transportation infrastructure is already woefully overstressed, or that our utilities and essential services have failed to keep pace with the out-of-control growth that is spreading like a greed-fueled malignancy along the spine of Volusia County – sprawl that will have us drinking our own recycled sewage in the not too distant future. 

Don’t take my word for it.

On Wednesday, December 8, beginning at 9:00am, the City of Daytona Beach will host a tour of the city’s “former direct potable reuse demonstration testing system” which recently complete two-years of testing what has become colloquially known as Toilet-to-Tap“…processed treated effluent and produced purified water, which was then returned to the wastewater treatment process and was not placed in the city’s drinking water supply.”  

“…the two-year data gathering effort of the system is complete and the results are being reviewed as a final report is being prepared” – whatever in hell that means. . .

While the bulldozers roar – the sound of money to a speculative developer’s ear – does anyone care to guess what the recommendations of the tests will be? 


I am told by a reliable source that the City of Daytona Beach is having trouble finding enough interested residents to make a tour. 

Due to “limited space” at the facility, the event is capped at 15 people – with a minimum of 10 participants required (?) – which is strange, given the convenient scheduling of 9:00am in the middle of the workweek and requirement that anyone interested in visiting a glorified sewage treatment facility complete a “Educational Tour Registration Form” (Find it here: ).    


For anyone interested in the past, present, and future of Volusia County – might I suggest you take a few hours on a driving tour for an up close and personal look at where we came from, enjoy the last remnants of our pastoral beginnings, the beauty of our lakes, springs, and rivers – juxtaposed with the frightening reality of our present.

Then stop by the City of Daytona Beach’s “full-scale direct potable reuse demonstration testing site” for a cold glass of our grim future.   

Angels & Assholes for December 3, 2021

Hi, kids!

It’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way.

Let’s look at who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was.

Angel               Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post

When faced with challenge and adversity, many politicians opt for the comfort of conformism – the craven “go along and get along” strategy that avoids critical evaluation of the issues and an authentic debate of ideas – retreating from their campaign promises and core values for the protection of groupthink and obedience to the status quo.

Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post knows something about political adversity. 

Since Post took the District 4 seat in 2017 – winning reelection in 2020 – she has been the victim of a vicious gaslighting campaign by Volusia’s Old Guard, those stalwarts of the status quo, who have marginalized and discredited Ms. Post at every turn.    

It became apparent early in her first term that Ms. Post would not be beaten into the round hole of political conformity, and her staunch resistance made her the personal punching bag of craven politicians and their well-heeled puppet masters. 

Repeatedly, Ms. Post’s “colleagues” took great delight in verbally pummeling her from the dais – complete with dramatic eye-rolling, deep sighs, and other histrionics – as the lock-step majority opportunistically painted Councilwoman Post as an ineffectual nonconformist, alienating her with cheap parliamentary maneuvers, and denying her constituents the representation they deserved. 

(For a primer on how political shunning works – the physical and emotional rejection of a duly elected member of the Volusia County Council as a means of coercing behavior, limiting influence, and forcing allegiance to the status quo – just watch how this pernicious process is being wielded against Council Chair Jeff Brower.)

Look, I have not always agreed with Ms. Post – or been kind to her in this space.

But I have come to respect her independence, work ethic, political acumen, and willingness to hold senior bureaucrats accountable in an atmosphere where any elected official who dares question the “why” of things is ostracized – permanently relegated to the sidelines – while the entrenched Gang of Four run roughshod.   


Last week, Ms. Post announced that she has filed to run for the at-large seat in 2022! 

That’s good news. 

It has been an open secret that current at-large Councilman Ben Johnson will not seek reelection next year – which resulted in backdoor speculation that at least one retread politician would climb down from the ash heap of history and make another run – a scary proposition that harkened back to the “bad old days” of Volusia County politics.

With Councilwoman Post running for the at-large spot, it was recently announced that (so far) Ormond Beach City Commissioner Rob Littleton will challenge local business owner Ken Smith for the District 4 seat. 

Mr. Smith ran unsuccessfully in 2020 against insider incumbent Troy Kent for the Ormond Beach City Commission.

In a recent interview with the Ormond Beach Observer, Smith said, “I wanted to work in the city level, but when that opportunity came up, I just couldn’t turn it down.  That’s my main motivation — to take the momentum Jeff (Brower) and Heather have made and carry through with it.”

Conversely, Commissioner Littleton has been part of the pro-growth Ormond Beach City Commission where, most recently, he ignored the impassioned pleas of his constituents and made the asinine decision to destroy the historic Union Church on North Beach Street.

Why?  To make way for a shell parking lot. . .

While campaigning in 2018, Mr. Littleton was quoted by the Observer at a candidate forum crowing about the city’s “smart and responsible” growth.

“Don’t allow the rhetoric to blind you to the facts,” Littleton said.

“He stated his priorities were keeping property taxes low, maintaining a responsible city budget and preserving “a great quality of life.”  

Which, as we now know, is complete bullshit – given that Mr. Littleton just voted to raise taxes for Ormond Beach residents. . .

I think we have had enough of perennial politicians climbing the ladder – slick hustlers who say one thing at election time and do another come budget time – all while reminding us not to listen to the “rhetoric” (which is defined as anything that contradicts their slash-and-burn growth strategy) as they try hard to convince us we should believe their spin over what we see with our own eyes and feel with our own pocketbook.     

Trust me. Our well-heeled ‘powers that be’ who, for far too long, have controlled everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tide here on Florida’s Fun Coast are beginning to get nervous.

With the obstructionist Gang of Four under serious threat of being tossed out on their collective ass next year the long-suffering taxpayers of Volusia County have a real opportunity to take back our government and stop the insidious process of paying exorbitant taxes while receiving nothing in return. 

Exciting times are on the horizon, kids.  Stay tuned! 

Asshole           Team Volusia and the “Economic Development” Sham

“The City will pay the Annual Grant to the Company within 60-days after the Company has submitted a proper invoice. . .”  

–Boilerplate “Economic Development Agreement” by and between (ENTER CITY/COUNTY GOVERNMENT HERE) and (SECRET/REDACTED) in order to “…incentivize the Company to implement the project.”

The giveaway is always followed by a paragraph of carefully constructed legal drivel that defines the “public benefit” of gifting corporate welfare to massive conglomerates for allowing us the privilege of hosting their next warehouse:

“…will provide a public benefit to the City’s residents and businesses, including by generating significant new ad valorem taxes (including for the public school system); adding jobs to the local employment base; and creating induced and indirect jobs and other economic effects which will have a positive impact on local small businesses.”

Because without an identified “public benefit,” gifting incentives and siphoning our hard-earned tax dollars to a private for-profit entity would be considered undue government intervention in the marketplace, favoritism that creates a skewed playing field – if not organized fraud. . .   

So begins another incredibly expensive corporate welfare sham at the hands of those dullards over at Team Volusia – our publicly funded “economic development” facilitators that have made a cottage industry of bringing scut work and warehouse jobs to Volusia County by writing checks that you and I are responsible for cashing – then labeling it “progress.” 


On Wednesday evening, the Daytona Beach City Commission was asked to vote on a resolution allowing $4 million in tax incentives cloaked as a “grant” for the mysterious Project Tarpon – a shadowy five-story, 2.8 million-square-foot distribution and logistics center to be developed near the Daytona Beach “International” Airport at the desirable nexus of I-95 and the I-4 corridor. 

In the most ludicrous scam of the night, the people’s elected representatives were also asked to vote on a future land use change to accommodate the secretive project – without being told why.

You read that right.

To their immense credit, Commissioners Ken Strickland, Quanita May, and Ruth Trager voted against the land use change, citing the fact they would be deciding in the blind, completely unaware of why – or for whom – the change was being enabled. 

“If you don’t want to tell us what you’re doing or what’s going to happen with that land, it doesn’t really make sense for us to vote to change it when we don’t know what we’re voting for,” Strickland said.

The Secret Squirrel shenanigans continued well into Wednesday’s meeting – with the company’s identity revealed just before Daytona Beach taxpayers were asked to gift the massive tax break spaced over five-years to what everyone correctly suspected was the on-line behemoth Amazon – which earned $21.3 billion in profit on more than $386 billion in annual sales last year. 

You read that right, too. 

The City of Daytona Beach just handed $4 million in incentives to the largest on-line retailer in the known universe while allowing them to build a gigantic warehouse immediately next to Daytona “International” Airport at the intersection of two major interstate highways which allow direct access to ports at Tampa, Canaveral, Miami, and Jacksonville – and the heart of Central Florida – on the promise of jobs paying an average of just $15.00 bucks an hour – which equates to an annual salary the astute watcher Anne Ruby noted falls short of current local rental rates, which are now skyward of $1,000 a month. 

My God.  

Given the many advantages of the location, you might think our “economic development” gurus would reverse the burden, you know, broker a “deal” beneficial to residents and existing businesses beyond promises of low-paying jobs servicing an automated “fulfilment center” – but not here. 

In Volusia County, the rules are different – depending upon who you are – and who is “negotiating” on your behalf. . .

For instance, it appears the true beneficiary of the project will be our friends at NASCAR (d/b/a Event Equipment Leasing, Inc. and Southeasern Hay & Nursery, Inc.) – who made the incredibly smart decision to maintain ownership of the land and ink a long-term lease with Amazon.    

Of course, the horseshit hype started well before the project stepped from behind its enigmatic cryptonym when Daytona Beach Deputy City Manager/Fire Chief/Economic Development Shill Dru Driscoll wrote in a highly embroidered memorandum to his boss, City Manager Deric Feacher, which read, in part, the “$200 million” facility “Complimenting the planned growth of the Embry-Riddle Research Park to the east, this proposed facility is anticipated to attract similar and/or ancillary businesses. . .” blah, blah, blah.   

Apparently, Mr. Driscoll forgot to reach out to Embry-Riddle for specifics on just how the project will “compliment” the university’s nearby business incubator, because in a recent guessing game played out on the frontpage of the News-Journal, Business Editor Clayton Park quoted Rodney Cruise, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Embry-Riddle, who seemed less convinced of Driscoll’s exaggerated assessment:

“We haven’t had any involvement (with Amazon) to this point, but we look forward to supporting any company that comes to the area.”


Was this another embarrassing faux pas by a senior bureaucrat wearing too many hats – or simply more cheap hucksterism from City Hall – something we all hoped Mr. Feacher would put a stop to?

You be the judge.

Under the current shim-sham of statutorily assured corporate anonymity, the taxpayers who absorb the cost, tolerate the traffic, and shoulder inducements the average small business could never dream of must suffer the corporate intrigue that allows cheapjack hagglers like Team Volusia to “negotiate” our money away behind closed doors – while We, The Little People are left to guess if we are vying for another distribution center, a modern manufacturing operation, or a toxic waste incinerator – we simply don’t know until it’s a done deal – because in this Turkish bazar political environment everything is for sale and anything is possible. . .

It has become a bad “Let’s Make a Deal” episode – where elected officials are asked to make land use decisions and give away our money on dubious corporate welfare schemes with little, if any, advance knowledge of the surprise waiting behind door number three.

That’s wrong.

When the Amazon distribution center in Deltona was being “negotiated” by Team Volusia under a similar cloak of secrecy (which ultimately gifted Amazon $2.5 million in “incentives” from the citizens of Deltona in exchange for a promise of 500 warehouse jobs by the end of 2023) it resulted in civic turmoil when some elected and appointed officials were told of Amazon’s interest in putting a warehouse facility in the community, while others were treated like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed bullshit.

These secretive games rightfully concerned many Deltona residents – the natural result of keeping essential information from key decisionmakers – while allowing select insiders advanced knowledge that could be used for a variety of advantages.

By any metric, this backroom skullduggery is inherently unfair, the antithesis of true economic development, and counter to the concept of inclusiveness in the planning process and government in the sunshine.

In my view, any elected or appointed official who thinks it is a good idea to advocate or make public policy decisions in effective darkness – without any substantive review or due diligence – is either dumb, deluded, or guilty of gross nonfeasance. 

It is time to eliminate that expensive ruse over at Team Volusia in favor of supporting community-based economic development practitioners who will recruit diverse businesses and industry in an open, honest, and transparent way – based on a strategy that fosters a fair and competitive environment – putting the highest interests of residents over the depths of corporate greed. 

Quote of the Week

“My biggest concern is the 1,000-pound gorilla in the room: where is the water going to come from (for all the new homes and businesses)? Where are we going to get the clean water from?” Brower said.

Noting the surge in new homes, apartments and commercial developments that Volusia County is seeing, much of it in the nearby LPGA area directly south of the Avalon Park Daytona property, Brower said, “We’re pumping water out of the aquifer faster than it’s being replenished. At least with Avalon, you’re going to get a commitment to protect the environment, but some developers are simply building as many homes as they possibly can.”

“And if there’s enough water in the aquifer, why are Blue Springs and other springs in Florida pumping out less water?” Brower asked. “I think we’re on dangerous territory and that we need to pause and look at what is the projected outcome?”

–Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower as quoted by The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Business Editor Clayton Park, “Developer pushes back start date for 10,000-home Avalon Park Daytona to early 2022,” Sunday, November 28, 2021

A tip o’ the cap to Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower for continuing to ask the tough questions – and for holding true to the promises he made to the citizens of Volusia County.    

And Another Thing!

In W. W. Jacobs’ 1902 horror story “The Monkeys Paw” – a fairytale surrounding a mummified simian paw that grants three wishes to anyone who grasps it – the moral lesson is, “Be careful what you wish for – you may receive it.”

I was reminded of that age-old truism this week when newly minted Daytona Beach Zone 2 City Commissioner Ken Strickland appeared on the public affairs forum GovStuff Live! for a Q&A with the program’s razor-sharp moderator Big John – the most civically astute and influential pundit in Volusia County politics – one who does not suffer fools, or ill-prepared politicians, graciously.      

With just two-weeks on the job, chalk it up to the bustle of the Thanksgiving holiday, campaign fatigue, or the lack of situational awareness inherent to entering a fast-paced game already in progress – it became painfully apparent that Commissioner Strickland was not as prepared to discuss the nuances of current events as he should have been for his first public appearance. 

In my experience, Ken Strickland is an impressive guy. 

A long-time civic activist who has championed the cause of the little guy, fought for basic fairness in forgotten Midtown neighborhoods, spoke truth to power, and worked hard to protect our heritage of beach driving and preserve our unique quality of life here on the Fun Coast.

Regrettably, it was obvious that Commissioner Strickland had not done his homework.

Knowing Ken as I do – I would be willing to bet that will not happen again. . .

Let’s call it a well-deserved baptism by fire – or a ‘rookie mistake’ – but one that requires an immediate change of tack (tact?).   

During Big’s interview, Commissioner Strickland gave a telling anecdote about his recent trip to the Daytona International Speedway corporate offices to ask about another super-secret project (widely rumored to be Costco) slated for the publicly funded One Daytona – the retail and entertainment complex owned by DIS that you and I helped underwrite to the tune of some $40 million in county/city tax breaks, infrastructure, and lucrative incentives.  

Rather than brief a sitting elected official on the benefits and challenges of the proposed project – a reasonable inquiry given the scope and potential impacts of another megastore – Commissioner Strickland’s question was met with an arrogant “smile and grin” as DIS officials refused to identify the company involved. 

Frankly, I was shocked when Big John announced that other elected officials had already been briefed on details of the project – essential information that was apparently denied to Commissioner Strickland.  

If accurate, that represents a complete lack of respect – an obstinate slap in the face to both Commissioner Strickland and his long-suffering constituents – a risky strategy for a company with no qualms about asking for government handouts when it serves their needs. 

Given the insular nature of many local government bureaucracies, there is a steep learning curve for any neophyte elected official – good citizens who enter the arena for all the right reasons – who can quickly be taken into the maw of the system, flattered by obsequious senior staffers, and told exactly what insiders want them to hear – a slippery slope that often results in the same frustrating and ineffectual groupthink that prompted them to run for office in the first place.

Add to that the legions of “new friends” with all the right last names that convince newly elected politicians they know what is best for the rest of us and you have a tried-and-true formula for protecting and promoting the stagnant status quo.

On Wednesday evening, Commissioner Strickland proved his mettle when he said no to a land use change without first knowing why – then cast the lone vote against gifting Amazon $4 million in corporate welfare. 

That sends a strong message – and proves that Ken Strickland will not go along to get along.   

Elective service is a difficult role, and, despite my bluster and second-guessing, I have a great deal of admiration for Mr. Strickland and others with the courage to stand for high office – even those I consistently disagree with – who strive to vote their conscience despite the often-withering criticism of supporters and detractors alike. 

Because what they do is important.

It is nothing personal – its politics – and I understand better than most how the game is played.

During over thirty-years in government, I was often accused of being “sharp-elbowed” – a term found in political dictionaries that describes “…being aggressive and assertive when it comes to pursuing a legislative agenda or pushing one’s point of view.”

The term is said to have originated from a quote by the Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle, who said, “No man lives without jostling and being jostled.  In all ways he has to elbow himself through the world, giving and receiving offense.”

Seeking the truth and working hard to represent the unique needs of one’s constituency is no place for the faint-of-heart. 

Standing up for those things you believe to be right and just is especially important in an era where local political contests have become more a blood sport than a democratic process – and public policy decisions are often made by compromised elected marionettes, beholden by massive campaign contributions – who cast votes on issues they rarely understand to placate their well-heeled benefactors.   

In my experience, there is a time for diplomacy, compromise, and acquiescence – and there is a time for those we have elected to represent our dwindling interests to take a bold stand, command respect, demand answers, make the tough decisions, and protect our hard-earned tax dollars and quality of life from those who seek to exploit both for personal and corporate profit – even when it means going against the established grain.

In time, Commissioner Strickland will find his footing – just as Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower has done, despite overwhelming opposition – and his important contributions will prove pivotal to reclaiming government for the people of Daytona Beach, not just the well-heeled few who have enjoyed far too much influence for far too long.

It is readily apparent that voters are demanding change across the width and breadth of Volusia County – and those we place our trust in should not let that energy go to waste.   

That’s all for me.  Have a great weekend, y’all!