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 Holly Hill Police Sergeant James Patton, (Ret.)
Tomorrow I will travel to Statesboro, Georgia, to eulogize my friend and former law enforcement colleague Sergeant Jim Patton – who served honorably with the Port Huron, Michigan Police Department, Daytona Beach Police Department, and Ormond Beach Police Department, before embarking on a distinguished 25-year career with the Holly Hill Police Department.
Jim was sui generis. He was unique. He was of his own kind. Although I am certain that I never told him this – he was also a personal hero of mine and one of the toughest men I ever knew.
During his working life, I watched Jim defeat life-threatening cancer three times – continuing to serve the community with a chemotherapy port implanted in his chest – never missing a day during the ravages of his treatment.
Jim was born into a military family, spending much of his childhood in Germany and at Army installations across the United States.
After graduating from Marysville, Maryland High School and St. Clare Community College in Port Huron, Jim enlisted in the United States Army. Following Basic Training, he was stationed at Fort Dix New Jersey before assignment to a Pershing missile site in Germany attached to the 56th Field Artillery Brigade.
After returning to the United States, Jim transferred to the US Army Reserve, serving with the 5th Special Forces Group before joining the Air Force’s 403 Reconnaissance Air Sea Rescue Wing until his honorable discharge.
During his career with the Holly Hill Police Department, Jim served as a Traffic Homicide Investigator, Detective, Police Photographer, Field Training Officer, and Patrol Supervisor.
It is said that the finest compliment that can be paid to a police officer is “He or she was a Good Cop” – and Jim Patton most assuredly was a damn good cop.
During his exemplary service to the citizens of Holly Hill, Jim earned numerous meritorious service commendations and decorations – to include an award for valor when he courageously talked an armed subject into surrendering during a suicide attempt – and special recognition for his skill and perseverance from state and federal agencies, including the State Attorney’s Office, Seventh Judicial Circuit, for his expert handling of violent crimes and child exploitation investigations.
Jim Patton was a Cops, Cop.
Outside of work, Jim loved riding his motorcycle and was a long-time member of the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.
Sergeant Patton is survived by his wife, Elizabeth “Liz” Patton; his children, Heidi Friend (Allan), Heather Castro (David), Jennifer Roberts (Brian), Allen Garrett (Audrey); his sister, Gail Romain (Fred); Seventeen grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held tomorrow, Saturday, April 23, 2022, beginning at 2:00pm, at Deal Funeral Directors, 22757 Highway 80 East, Statesboro, Georgia. The Family will receive friends one hour prior to the service, beginning at 1:00pm.
The service will be live streamed via Facebook at Deal Funeral Directors https://www.facebook.com/dealfuneraldirectors
I have many funny anecdotes about Jim and his unique sense of humor (trust me, as a perennial victim of his pranks and practical jokes I knew it all too well…) but I will save those for his family and friends as we gather tomorrow.
Please join me in extending the condolences of a grateful community to Jim’s wife and family who mourn his passing last week at age seventy-one.
Asshole City of Ormond Beach
In my view, the City of Ormond Beach could learn something from a humorous phrase in an old Petticoat Junction episode wherein the loveable curmudgeon Uncle Joe Carson objects to a $6 tax increase the county levied on the Shady Rest Hotel:
“It’s not the principle, it’s the money!”
Except, there is nothing funny about the shearing of Ormond Beach residents in an asinine – and incredibly expensive – push to argue a point with the Volusia County Property Appraiser’s Office over back taxes on the now abandoned River Bend Golf Course.
In that mythical Land of Oz known as ‘government,’ spending and debt mean something completely different than what you and I are accustomed to in our household budgets.
When these increasingly bloated bureaucracies need more money – or want to flex their muscles – they simply tax our homes, property, assets, consumption, etc., etc., or borrow what they need – always placing the parasitic burden squarely on the shoulders of strapped residents.
On occasion, the waste and abuse inherent to a system where money is no object becomes too flagrant to ignore. . .
This week, Ormond Beach residents received a disturbing wakeup call from the intrepid Mark Harper writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Ormond Beach, Volusia 4 years into court battle: Legal fees top $330K in fight over $271K in taxes.”
You read that right. . .
According to the report, “Property Appraiser Larry Bartlett says Ormond Beach owes $271,000 in back taxes on a former golf course property, money the city claims it doesn’t have to pay because of its status as a municipality.”
This is a familiar tale, with various counties and municipalities having engaged in this legal tug-of-war around the state of Florida. The confrontation typically erupts when publicly owned properties are leased to for-profit enterprises.
In this case, “The land owned by the city was in 1988 leased to the River Bend Investment Group, which operated a golf course on that land adjacent to the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport.”
In 2010, the lease was transferred to new owners who went out of business at the end of 2020, “…citing the pandemic and the tax fight as contributing factors.”
According to Mr. Bartlett, examples of similar taxable properties include DaVita Labs in DeLand, Joe’s Crab Shack in Daytona Beach, and a restaurant operated by a private company at the publicly owned Cypress Head Golf Course in Port Orange.
Astonishingly, Mr. Bartlett also cited The Angler’s Club in New Smyrna Beach – a controversial ‘not-for-profit’ corporation – which sits on some incredibly valuable publicly owned waterfront real estate on New Smyrna’s North Causeway. The Angler’s represents the current iteration of a club formed in 1914 which was chartered exclusively for “white male citizens over 21 years of age.”
For the privilege, the lily-white sausage club has paid the City of New Smyrna Beach a paltry $25 a year for decades.
Don’t worry, its all perfectly legal.
As these things often go whenever a citizen has the temerity to challenge City Hall, in 2020, a Circuit Court judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a New Smyrna taxpayer who questioned the all-too-cozy arrangement which, in the view of many, allowed discriminatory membership practices on public property which was leased far below fair market value.
In the Ormond Beach debacle, as of last month, residents were on the hook for $338,208 in legal fees to dispute a tax bill of $271,000. . .
Look, I am not a lawyer – just another well-fleeced rube, like you.
But I am certain that government attorneys, those who serve as our representatives and advocates, have a fiduciary responsibility to put the interest of the taxpayers first – especially in a case where the cost to litigate an issue far exceeds that which would be gained – and act as any reasonable and responsible person would in the management of his or her own affairs.
Does this sound like something you would instruct your family attorney to do?
I didn’t think so.
According to Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington (who happens to be a lawyer), “Cities don’t pay taxes” (no shit), “If we didn’t defend the taxpayers and allow the city to be responsible for the taxes, that’s a dangerous road to go down,” he said. “Our job is to protect the residents and not allow the residents to be steamrolled by an aggressive tax appraiser.”
Wait. Did Hizzoner say, “defend the taxpayer”?
So, the legal strategy is to waste hundreds-of-thousands of tax dollars to protect the taxpayer?
Only a perennial politician thinks that way – and Mayor Partington is a walking billboard for term limits (or mandatory Wechsler testing for political candidates. . .).
In my view, former Ormond Beach City Commissioner Jeff Boyle summed it up best in the News-Journal’s informative exposé:
“It probably won’t be settled for another year. It’s probably going to go to (the 5th District Court of Appeals). Who the hell made the decision in Ormond Beach to spend ($338,000) so far to try to … beat the rap on $271,000?” Boyle said.
“Ormond Beach will not win that case, because there’s precedents all over town. The other local communities pay property taxes on any property where they have a profit-making enterprise.”
Boyle said he expects the city’s legal bills to keep climbing. “That meter is still running,” he said. “It’s going to head up to $400,000, and the public is just now becoming aware of it.”
Honestly. You can’t make this shit up, folks. . .
Asshole Palm Coast City Commission
“Ask not what you can do for your community, ask what your community can do for you.”
This dyslexic twist on John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inspirational inaugural address – a true call to service for the betterment of humankind – came to my warped mind when I read of the on-going self-enrichment scam being perpetrated by the Palm Coast City Council despite the fervent protests of those citizens who pay the bills – and will no longer suffer in silence.
How far some of our elected “leaders” have strayed from the egalitarian and moralistic imperatives of public service – the selfless pursuit of good governance in the public interest – and the social, civic, and economic advancement of all citizens, eh?
Look, I realize the point is infinitely arguable, but in my jaded view, the Palm Coast City Council is inhabited by the most egocentric, greed-crazed dipshits ever to sit atop a gilded dais – and given the sorry state of local governance in the Deltona–Daytona–Ormond Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area (which includes Palm Coast) – that’s quite a distinction.
I mean, who do these mammonistic assholes think they are – DeBary City Manager Carmen Rosamonda? Just this week, Mr. Rosamonda received a $46,000 pay raise when he claimed he was being “recruited” for a job with a larger organization that paid more.
Talk about the Land of Oz. . .
Following the gluttonous lead of Mayor David Alfin, on Tuesday, the Palm Coast City Council voted 4-1 to give itself at whopping 151% pay increase – with the mayor receiving a 164% raise – to become effective after the election in November.
To his credit, beleaguered Vice Mayor Eddie Branquinho was the only member to vote against this shameless money grab.
For the record, on a previous vote, the Palm Coast City Council approved a proposed increase of some $35,000 – which would have taken councilmember’s salary from a reasonable $9,600 to an obscene $44,670 annually – with the mayor’s haul going from $11,400 to $46,470.
Based on the revised salary figures, councilmembers will now bank $24,097.61, and the mayor $30,039.47, for their “service” to the community.
Did I mention the mayor and councilmembers will also command annual cost of living raises and healthcare benefits – all paid for by their constituents – or opt to receive a cash equivalent if they already have health insurance.
You read that right.
Of course, the argument for hefty pay increases is always couched in the altruistic tripe, “It’s not for our personal benefit, better salaries will attract better candidates. . .”
Have you seen any evidence of that? At any level of government?
Look, no one is asking politicians to – God forbid – volunteer their time for the greater good.
Because volunteers are civic heroes, driven by altruistic instincts to help others for the betterment of their communities – as opposed to money-grubbing politicians gorging themselves at the public trough.
In fact, I do not know of any sitting elected official who is not adequately compensated and reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses related to their duties and responsibilities.
When did elective service become a path to personal enrichment?
(Don’t answer that. . .)
Regardless of jurisdiction, the fact is, most perennial politicians spend a lot of energy begging We, The Little People for our sacred vote each election cycle – asking us to permit them the privilege of public service.
Then, once on the throne, between the bickering and bitchery on the dais, they spend an inordinate amount of time feathering the nests of their political benefactors and figuring inventive ways of excluding our participation in the process.
In my view, if an elected official is not willing to attend rubber chicken dinners, photo ops, ribbon cuttings, ceremonial functions, and the many bone-crushingly boring meetings, summits, and workshops required of the role – knowing in advance what the part-time job pays – then they should not hold themselves out for public office in the first place.
In my view, Palm Coast City Councilmembers, and other craven politicians seeking self-enrichment on the public dime, should remember that President Kennedy’s seminal speech ended with the admonishment to citizens, “…ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds. . .”
Quote of the Week
“It is with profound disappointment that I have to announce my withdrawal from the race for Volusia County Council, District 2.
As the result of an unexpected outcome of a doctor’s visit this week, and subsequent medical findings, that my health will not allow me to continue in the race. My disappointment is not only personal but also knowing how hard Trish, my campaign manager, and the wonderful team of volunteers who have worked to gather qualifying petitions and who have campaigned for me knocking on countless doors across District 2.
I can’t help but feel I have let you down. I want to express my gratitude and pride for your efforts in attempting to make Volusia County a better place for all of us to live. I will continue to work, as I have for the past 20 years, to effect positive changes in how Volusia moves forward. Thank you to my supporters, I have no doubt we would have won.”
–Paul Zimmerman, President of Sons of the Beach and former candidate for Volusia County Council District 2, Saturday, April 16, 2022
And Another Thing!
Last night I participated in a civic forum at the invitation of the Bellaire Community Group where I shared the dais with Steve Koenig, Jeffrey Boyle, and Paul Zimmerman for a freewheeling discussion of the issues.
I always learn more than I contribute during these discussions, and it was an absolute pleasure to join these astute civic influencers and hear their insight.
For anyone new to the Halifax area – or those looking for constructive insight into the civic, social, and economic issues facing Daytona Beach and beyond – I encourage you to attend a meeting of the Bellaire Community Group, which meets the third Thursday of every month at the Schnebly Recreation Center, 1101 N. Atlantic Avenue, beginning at 6:00pm.
Those who follow the ebb and flow of local politics know that Paul Zimmerman stands alone as a grassroots civic activist and volunteer who has worked tirelessly to preserve our unique lifestyle here on Florida’s Fun Coast.
He is best known as the long-time president of Sons of the Beach, Florida’s premiere beach driving and access advocacy – along with his efforts to protect our sensitive environment from overdevelopment and our most precious natural amenity from the constant threat of government overreach.
In recent years, Paul has been the beachside’s de facto representative – doing what those who were elected to the job should have done, but could not be bothered. . .
His community involvement includes service on the Beachside Redevelopment Committee and leading a very public effort to hold developers of the Hard Rock Daytona (who were gifted 410’ linear feet of traffic-free beach) and Protogroup – who are responsible for the controversial and still unfinished twin-span condominium/hotel complex at Oakridge Boulevard and A-1-A – accountable for performance, appearance, beach access, and building safety standards.
In November 2021, Paul announced his candidacy for the Volusia County Council Zone 2 seat, having collected over $8,200 from his supporters – not one dime of it from fatback developers and extremely wealthy special interests.
This lion of grassroots advocacy left the arena this week after health concerns prohibited him from continuing with the stress of a hotly contested fight.
Good for him.
As I have said before, modern political campaigns have become a blood sport – a fetid shit-trench where the stakes are far too great for some to leave to chance – a “system” where massive campaign contributions from our “Rich & Powerful,” and those business entities and dubious corporate entities they control, funnel massive sums of cash into the war chests of hand select candidates who always seem of like mind when issues their benefactors support come before them.
Once qualifying ends in June and the field firms up, I will have more on the good, the bad, and the ugly of this election season.
For now, I want to thank Paul for having the courage to enter the fray – and the wisdom to take his leave with such honesty and transparency in the best interests of his health, family, and community.
Trust me. We need strong influencers now, more than ever, and through his involvement with Sons of the Beach, the well-informed Bellaire Community Group, and other activists and advocates, Paul can have far more sway on the issues that affect our quality of life than he ever could wallowing around in the filth with those compromised empty suits on the dais of power in DeLand.
Kudos, Paul. Keep up the good fight.
Looking for a way to make a difference in our community?
Help preserve our unique heritage of beach driving and access by joining Sons of the Beach at their fundraiser tomorrow, Saturday, April 23, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, at Crabby Joe’s Deck & Grill on the beautiful Sunglow Pier, 3701 South Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach.
The Sons of the Beach band will perform and there will be new and classic SOB t-shirts and swag available!
I hope you will consider a donation to this worthwhile cause.
In my experience, Sons of the Beach is a wonderful grassroots organization doing great work to protect our unique heritage and lifestyle. Most important, it provides an opportunity to get involved and learn more about the issues we face here on Florida’s Fun Coast, and it is a great way to become acquainted with other civicminded citizens who are working hard to preserve our quality of life.
Membership is free!
To join, please visit www.sonsofthebeach.org to register and download your membership card today!
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend, y’all!