Fear and Censorship on the Fun Coast

Your friend Barker here – still tilting at windmills. . .

In the early 1600s, Miguel de Cervantes wrote the classic The Ingenious Gentleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha, commonly known as Don Quixote. 

In its simplest explanation, the theme surrounds Don Quixote’s out-of-touch chivalrous ideals, describing a series of misadventures as the middle-aged knight-errant takes up his lance to defend the helpless from perceived enemies using idealistic justifications that are totally counter to the reality of the changing world around him.

I know how that poor bastard felt. . .

Since starting this blog six-years ago – a purely cathartic vehicle for venting political frustrations and purging the guilt of my own faults and foibles during three decades in public service – friends and former colleagues have cautioned that seeking to change an entrenched system by speaking your mind to the masses makes one a target of the power structure.

I accept that.  It comes with the territory. 

A personal benefit of this blog’s popularity (the only one, it seems) is that some of our “movers & shakers” who possess the self-awareness not to take themselves too seriously and have the ability to laugh about the absurdity of politics, sometimes find the time to argue the fine points with me and discuss the issues over a cold beer.

More often than not, we agree to disagree.

Frankly, I enjoy the spirited debate that often ensues – because that is how I learn. 

Trust me, I can give as good as I get, and my experience tells me that good things come from a robust discussion of competing ideas – and terrible things can happen when a lack of transparency, an ego-driven sense of infallibility, and the arrogance of power combine to silence voices seen as counter to those in control of our lives and livelihoods.

During my many years in the fishbowl, I came to understand that those who hold themselves out for high office and accept public funds to serve in the public interest should grow some hard bark, because condemnation and harsh critique come with the job. 

I also learned the importance of listening to pointed, even caustic, personal criticism – using the concerns of those I served as a barometer of community sentiment – knowing that for every citizen with the courage to speak truth to power there are thousands more with similar beliefs who suffer in silence. 

In time, I came to understand the importance of accepting personal responsibility, admitting mistakes, understanding all sides of an issue, and maintaining the bureaucratic agility to reverse course and make things right – safe in the knowledge that not all errors are fatal to one’s career (political or otherwise) – and that most people can forgive what they see themselves doing, especially when it comes to the Sophie’s Choices inherent to politics. 

What I cannot abide is censorship.

The suppression of thoughts and ideas by powerful elected officials who seek to ‘cancel’ anyone who disagrees with their position on matters of great civic importance – especially in an era where local elected bodies use oppressive “civility ordinances” and legislative sleight-of-hand to limit citizen input at public meetings, deciding by decree the who, what, when, where, why, and for how long We, The Little People can approach our Monarchical leaders for redress of grievances.  

Unfortunately, I was on the receiving end of that pernicious treatment last week.

And it stung.

A distressing sign of the times – or something more telling?       

Last month, most of the Daytona Beach City Commission voted to approve a $4 million economic incentive package for Amazon – the largest e-commerce retailer in the known universe – something that did not sit well with many in the Halifax area. 

One of those voting in the majority was the powerful City Commissioner Stacy Cantu – who has been outspoken on the issue of the coming Amazon Fulfillment Center and ancillary issues which directly affect her district.

After voting with the majority to approve the economic incentives which paved the way for the massive warehouse operation, Ms. Cantu was quoted in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “I love this project.  I think it will put us on the map.”

Then, Ms. Cantu’s neighbors in the tony Pelican Bay community learned that the Volusia County Council had previously approved an extension of Pelican Bay Drive from the Amazon warehouse to Beville Road, poorly planned logistics which will dump cargo and employee traffic at an entrance to the gated community.

At that time, Ms. Cantu commiserated with her neighbors, describing the situation as a “nightmare.”  

Because it is.

The Pelican Bay Drive extension resulted in finger-pointing between Daytona Beach and Volusia County, including allegations that elected officials had been kept in the dark by staff, resulting in a public meeting attended by several public officials and some 275 concerned citizens from throughout the Halifax area. 

In recent weeks, like many, I have expressed my thoughts on the coming Amazon Fulfillment Center – and a recent announcement by NASCAR and their partner, Hillwood, revealing plans to construct even more commercial and industrial space on adjacent land near Daytona “International” Airport under the name “Commerce 500.”    

I questioned how any sitting official who voted for the Amazon incentives could have failed to consider the radiating impacts on the community inherent to a five story, 2.8 million square foot industrial warehouse? 

Then, a citizen made public a post by Commissioner Cantu originating on a private social media site for residents of Pelican Bay that began, “Consider the third gate off the table!  It was just (an) idea to help relieve traffic that I could put in the Hilwood (sic) PD.  Believe me they didn’t want to pay for it in the first place,” which some believed concerned a possible amendment to the Hillwood planned development which would have the developer pay for a “third gate” into her neighborhood while a large-scale land use amendment is pending before the Daytona Beach City Commission. . .

You can read the post here: https://barkersview.org/2022/01/26/commerce-500/

Because I asked uncomfortable questions and expressed community concerns, Commissioner Cantu responded by labeling me a “Clown” and “Carnival Barker” – all while continuing to send mixed signals to her baffled constituents in subsequent soundbites in the News-Journal:

“We are not happy that over 600 semi-trucks will be coming out of the front of our east gate of Pelican Bay,” said Cantu. “We were told it’s part of the master county plan that they have been working on for years. We would like it to come out on Williamson.”

As for the Amazon facility itself, Cantu said, “Most of the residents here are OK (with it). We do need the jobs. Amazon has agreed to pay 95% of the tuition for their workers to go to college and you don’t have to have a career with them. That really sold me.”

Apparently, Commissioner Cantu’s voice is the only one that matters. . .

Inexplicably, last week I learned that Commissioner Cantu filed a complaint with Facebook – alleging that the Barker’s View post regarding the “Commerce 500” project published on the popular public affairs forum Volusia Issues constituted “harassment” – in my view, a scurrilous, thin-skinned, and bald-faced attempt to censor an opinion which opposed her own. 

Admittedly, I was taken aback and did not want to believe it – until the complaint was forwarded to me. . .

Anyone who read my piece understands that it was not intended as harassment (a grammatical nightmare and an insult to one’s intelligence maybe, but not harassment).

My God.  I must admit, I did not see that cheap shot coming. . . 

One thing is certain, Commissioner Cantu and her colleagues on the dais of power hold all the cards – with the power to approve or deny these incredibly lucrative projects and spiffs for some immensely powerful people.

So why the need to silence a rube like me? 

Was it because I took a position counter to those of powerful policymakers on a matter of great interest to our community – or a spiteful attempt to silence a dissenting opinion and ‘cancel’ my voice while important land use changes are pending?   

Let’s face it, there are many bureaucrats, elected officials, and those who hold the paper on their political souls roaming the Halls of Power here on the Fun Coast who are anxious to see citizen forums like Barker’s View and Volusia Issues muzzled and brought to heel – limiting freedom of expression and restricting the message to one they control.    

If petty-minded politicians and influential insiders who seek public funds to underwrite private, for-profit projects are successful in silencing my thoughts and yours – that leaves only their voice in the echo chamber – a lone “official narrative” expressed without challenge.

That’s frightening.

As George R. R. Martin said in A Clash of Kings, “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

When it comes to the pettiness of politics, not much bothers me. 

But I must admit, this one hurt.

18 thoughts on “Fear and Censorship on the Fun Coast

  1. You were stung by a Facebook complaint for speaking out? 3 years ago I wrote to one of our local judges, criticizing her for accepting $1000 campaign contributions from out of town law firms while having hundreds of their cases pending in her division. My reward? The law firms (including one in which Dan Newlin is an unnamed partner) sued me for defamation. The result? I spent thousands of dollars defending myself, the Florida Supreme Court transferred the case to a Jacksonville judge because several other Volusia judges had also accepted money from the lawyers, and after 2 years the case against me was dismissed. The judge I criticized took an early retirement. And the lawyer behind all the money, her mother, her brother and sister-in-law (now with Mississippi addresses) have now each sent $1000 to another Volusia county judge up for reelection, who has just been re-assigned to a new division where he will hear the lawyer’s cases. I think it may be time for me to get sued again.

    Like

  2. I saw a post where her husband went after someone else who spoke out against her. Evidently he’s doing her dirty work for her now.

    Like

  3. I refuse to be thin skinned and when I see stories on Yahoo witten by Fox,CNN,MSNBCor Buisness Insider I email them back like Randi Weingarten the President of the AFT the teachers union who gives 95%of their donations to Dems and called parents in a tweet racists who dont agree with school boards racist got so much backlash she backed off.There is Joe Rogan who gives both sides on spodify is threatening to fire him for letting people give both views on the pandemic today.You are a big boy get hard skinned and dont take it personally because unless I puposely lie and give real false information fuck them all.Wait for the 2022 vote that this 73 and family were Dems for 55 years until last week.I even go on the contact the White House site and if they dont like it arrest me.Have CNN and the FBI come to my home at 4 in the morning with a swat team like you did to Roger Stone.Censure culture is not in my culture.

    Like

    1. The entrance is on the north side of the four Lanes highway known as SR400/I-4 that already has a traffic light and MOST OF ALL doesn’t go into said gated community ! The nightmare is in her mind and that’s all.

      Like

    1. Marc my NY lawyer came down to Naples after being disbarred for taking 300k in escrow from 6 people and found out he is drug rehab.Meanwhile he has all my original wills etc.I dont trust anyone and dont believe anyone .This guy was like a brother..Dont let anyone cancel your thoughts because they dont give a shit about you.The most important thing not to ignore is vote for your school board because parents are shit to the teachers union.They think we are racists.Never had kids but paid school taxes for the last 35 years and still paying.

      Like

  4. This is just as bad as our governor and his press secretary. They denounce BLM protests of racisim and people dieing because they might not be supporters. But when Nazis take the road , they ignore it? Call it for what it is! Cancel cutlure rewriting history at its worst is denying people like this exist. Even if they like the Governor, the Gov should say LOUDLY he doesn’t like them!!!

    Like

    1. Mad Mom guess you did not hear the antisemitic bitch Whoopie Goldberg said about the holocaust and so much backlash and ADL was out yesterday giving her hell..The day the ex Jew Soros who as a teen ratted out his Jew neighbors to Hitler as they went to ovens and the teen and his family kept all the posessions of the dead.Soros the mega billionaire is the one who pays for all the wokes who are DAs who dont prosecute and no bail. 60 MINUTES interviewed him and asked if he was sorry for what he did and he answered NO.DeSantis said he wants the cops to investigate to see if they were paid to do this shit like the new Governor in Virginia had Dem organizations fake who they were when they protested .As of now I will vote for DeSantis.He went on the path of monoclonals that we cant get because of Biden so stop the Nazi crap until we find out who they really are as no one was arrested.Protesting that it is not violent is still legal no matter how much you hate it not like the violent ANTIFA or the violent BLM.We do investigate Jan 6.7

      Like

    2. Mad Mom today I read disgusting crap from the media that called high tech Children who could change their phone numbers.One shit media calls them juveniles another calls them teens .They threatened 6 to 10 black colleges that they were going to blow up.Social media destroyed this country as you can see how META or Facebook took a shit on the stock market.Mad Mom do you watch what your kids who are doing on social media ? It is not your kids fault it is your fault.
      Had enough of woke bullshit and you are stupid enough to let a 6 year old to read this crap.It is your fault and take the Nazi crap that you read on social media and DBNJ and shove it.Media is dirtbag lying skum like Brian Stelter and CNN.I cant read anything Nikki Fried writes .

      Like

  5. If I were in your shoes I would feel proud – you poked the lion, made it roar, and now the lion looks a little ridiculous for roaring so loud. So many times those who yell the loudest are the ones covering their behinds and mis-directing so the truth is not seen. Keep up your good work calling out those hypocrites who bend truths and spread obfuscation in order to further their agendas.

    Like

  6. I know all about being censored! Volusia Issues founder censored me for defending Ken Strickland about the apartments deal that was a deal before Ken even ran for office. And because GG(WG) didn’t like the way he voted ,he lambasted Ken and I a true friend got banned from posting for a month. Wallace can do what he wants on his page but not in reality! You ain’t stopping me !

    Like

  7. Censorship; a literary tool employed by an inordinate fool As a display of their own abject dumbassity. See also cheap local politician.
    The only known cure for abject dumbassity is liberal application of common sense at the ballot box, come election time. Even then, results can vary.

    Like

  8. it will most interesting to watch the fallout when amazon is dismantled.
    monopolies have a tendency to create bad weather days, everyday, for
    small businesses and hopeful entrepreneurs.

    despite this huge problem for some, politicians, acting as pragmatic
    public servants, while actually being solely corporate whores, think it
    is a great idea to pay homage to jeff bezos with taxpayer dollars.

    the breakup will happen.
    good things take time.
    onward.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s