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:
Remember when you were a kid and saw those colorful movie posters outside a cinema that were emblazoned with the glaring teaser: Absolutely no one will be seated during the last five-minutes of the film!” – which meant, you were a little scared of what you might see – but you were definitely going to watch the movie. . .
Last week I was taken to the woodshed on social media by a reader who worked herself into a froth over something I wrote, a swipe which culminated in the exasperated question, “How much more of this tired, trite nonsense must we all put up with?”
The fact is – you don’t have to “put up” with anything!
Stop/turnback/ walk out of the theater right now – if you are offended by an alternative opinion to your own views on the myriad issues of the day, just stop reading!
You won’t hurt my feelings. Promise.
I assure you, absolutely everyone who reads these screeds will eventually be pissed-off over my goofy take on the news and newsmakers of the day – if not this week, then next – but it will happen. I guarantee that if you care even a smidge about the state of governance here on Florida’s Fun Coast, you will feel something after reading these screeds – rage, encouragement, discouragement, laughter, sadness, hope, futility – sometimes all at once.
Because that is the raw nature of our current civic affairs.
Look, I’m not twisting anyone’s arm to read this “tired, trite nonsense” (which is an incredibly accurate descriptor). I write this blog more as a cathartic salve for my own frustrations, rather than the entertainment or edification of a larger audience.
So long as we have a right to free expression in this country, I will continue to vent my spleen on the political condition where I live and pay taxes – and my only hope is that these hyper-cynical views will be used by smart readers who “get it” to further a more logical discussion of these important issues in our community than I am capable of.
Now, dear readers – consider yourself forewarned. The concession stand is in the lobby.
On with the shitshow. . .if you dare.
Asshole Volusia County Council
Who saw this one coming?
On Tuesday, another “Special Meeting” of the Volusia County Council was held to discuss growth management, zoning amendments, and planning regulations.
Yeah, right. . .
Unfortunately, this important, and much-anticipated, meeting was sparsely attended – by our elected officials that is.
Conversely, concerned residents turned out in force to speak out on all sides of what many consider the seminal issue of our time.
For reasons that were never made completely clear – “Dr.” Fred Lowry, Billie Wheeler, and Heather Post had more important things to do – leaving a thin quorum which required an announcement from a highly compensated county attorney that should any sitting member need to use the restroom – a recess would need to be called to facilitate the trip. . .
It quickly became apparent this was not a public meeting. It was another farcical production of that timewasting kabuki dance that passes for the “people’s business” in Volusia County.
You see, it is easier to mewl and coo that decisions should not be reached when large swaths of the county do not have a representative at the table – when those lame duck, politically unaccountable “representatives” are conveniently absent from the table. . .
(Giving Ms. Post the benefit of the doubt, she has been on injured reserve for weeks following a nasty fall in a county owned building.)
In my cynical view, the Old Guard’s tried-and-true strategy of protecting the status quo by kicking the can down the road became evident early when Councilman Ben Johnson and his ventriloquist dummy, Councilman Danny Robins, cautioned that nothing happens with a sense of urgency in Volusia County government, stressing the importance of more procrastination before anything of substance is ultimately voted down on a 5-2 vote.
To that end, Councilman Johnson explained in his patented cornpone, “I’m not comfortable doing anything that will be railroaded through. I don’t want to just do something to do something. And if we do some things too fast, we’re putting ourselves in major liability.”
To his credit, Chairman Jeff Brower did his best to convey the urgency of communicating a comprehensive growth management strategy to concerned residents.
In an informative article in The Daytona Beach News-Journal by Eileen Zaffiro-Kean entitled, “Volusia’s rapid growth concerns,” Brower was quoted:
“We’re not known for railroading. We’re known for dragging things out,” Brower said. “We don’t have an infinite amount of time. I’m asking that we don’t put it off another year without taking action.”
“Brower was reacting in part to a report from staff members saying they were awaiting the outcome of a grant application for money that would be used to look at implementing low-impact development in Volusia County. Staff said it would take until May 2023 to complete that review of low-impact development, but everything else could be studied in the meantime.”
“Awaiting the outcome” of a grant application? To pay for another study?
Does anyone see a trend developing here? I damn sure hope so.
During the “special” meeting, much hot air was generated over the importance of slowing down the process – “pumping the brakes” on an intentionally sluggish, protracted, and ineffectual shim-sham that has yet to produce so much as a definition of what the terms “low-impact development” and “smart growth” mean – let alone how to codify those concepts into planning and development regulations.
Instead, there was much talk of slowing the train, pulling the reigns, (insert foot-dragging euphemism here) – accompanied by grumbling from a few “landowners” who could clearly give two-shits about preserving what remains of our sensitive environment – so long as they can do whatever they want on their slice of their pie – and to hell with yours.
Others (who couldn’t be bothered to take their hats off at the podium, because decorum only applies to voices which disagree with the Gang of Four) qualified their remarks by touting their Volusia County pedigree (“My family arrived in La Florida with Hernando de Soto, bought a two-acre ranchette from Mr. Haney and Arnold Ziffel, and we been living our own humid version of Yellowstone ever since…”) – while another pooh-poohed the notion of symbiotic ecosystems by erroneously stating that what happens on his land doesn’t affect what happens on mine.
One went so far as to mock the ongoing development-fueled atrocity in the Mosquito Lagoon when he crowed, “I don’t like being told what to do with my property,” adding that he doesn’t want to “pay more taxes because someone wants to see the bottom of the Indian River.”
My guess is these “landowners” have yet to come to the realization they don’t “own” anything – they lease it from the government. Don’t believe me? Stop paying property taxes and see how much of your slice of heaven you actually “own.”
I have no idea what these guys have been told – or by whom.
These self-styled land barons should understand that these proposed low-impact development policies, environmental protections, and zoning regulations are also designed to protect their properties from the malignant sprawl and slash-and-burn clear-cutting that is inching closer to our remaining rural and agricultural areas every day. . .
Regardless of where you come down on growth, it was refreshing to see a robust citizen turnout – and to know there remains a wide range of emotions and viewpoints regarding development and environmental protections.
But at the end of the day, absolutely nothing was accomplished on Tuesday.
In my view, much of the meeting appeared painfully orchestrated in advance – a textbook example of how to interminably prolong issues of public concern (or at least push them past the election) – effectively stopping any substantive discussion in favor of passing the buck on growth management off to yet another contrived political insulation committee.
Specifically, the Volusia County Council plans to waste even more time forming another iteration of the Environmental Resources Advisory Committee to prioritize and make recommendations on issues that should rightfully be debated and voted on by our politically accountable elected representatives.
Anyone remember the “recommendations” of the first Environmental Resources Advisory Council that was disbanded in 2004? The Smart Growth summits of 2003 and 2004? Or Clay Ervin’s Great Smart Growth PowerPoint of November 2008, with its ominous conclusion, “Where do we go from here…” How about the good advice of the blue-ribbon Beachside Redevelopment Task Force? The Smart Growth Policy Review Committee of 2013-2014”? Oh, how about the Smart Growth Policy Review Committee of 2015-2016”? Or the last Green Ribbon Panel?
How about the results of the long-anticipated “Impact Fee Study” Mr. Ervin has been promising for, oh, over a year?
Me neither. . .
Because that’s how things are strategically lost in the shuffle here on the Fun Coast.
“Pump the brakes,” my ass. . .
Frankly, the outcome of this horseshit “special meeting” appeared blatantly choreographed by those do-nothing marionettes Councilman Ben Johnson (who actually found a way to lobby for clear-cutting?) and his sycophantic toady, Danny Robins – along with their backroom enablers County Manager George “The Wreck” Recktenwald and Growth Facilitator Clay Ervin.
Many of my worried neighbors across the width and breadth of Volusia County are beginning to throw around terms like “ego,” “mediocrity,” and “incompetence” when discussing these bought and paid for handmaidens of the “Rich & Powerful” – and this “special” meeting is a prime example why the political tide is about to change for these dull tools who do the bidding of an influential few.
One smart friend described it as “creepy” – saying once you see it, you cannot “unsee” it – like the weird optical illusion it is. . .
Don’t take my word for it, watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7Uqw5mD_FQ
Depending upon the outcome of this election – I believe we are going to see some high-ranking, incredibly well-paid, bureaucrats on the unemployment line next year as We, The Little People seek a clean slate and a bold new direction.
That decision begins and ends at the ballot box.
Please remember, your vote counts just as much as the Fat Cats who shovel $1,000 donations into the campaign coffers of those flexible lickspittles who protect their benefactors place in the public teats suckling order.
In my view, in the face of the most prolific period of malignant sprawl and clear-cut environmental destruction in the history of Volusia County, this stalling and quibbling is a slap in the face to residents, environmentalists, and investors seeking some semblance of political stability and leadership.
Once again, these antics have exposed the extent to which “pay to play” politics has penetrated this bloated bureaucracy – a pernicious chancre on the heart of Volusia County government – that has destroyed the public’s trust.
As the bulldozers continue to roar. . .
As a member of the public said in his closing remarks before the “special” meeting was clumsily adjourned, “If we don’t change the status quo, we’re doomed.”
Vote like your quality of life depends upon it.
Asshole Ormond Beach “Planning” Board
Those acquiescent rubber stamps on the Ormond Beach “Planning” Board unanimously approved a request to erect a multi-story apartment complex at the former Regal Theater site on an already congested Williamson Boulevard.
Who didn’t see that coming, eh?
But what about the low-impact businesses we were expecting – the pharmacy, the RV storage, the drive-thru, the car wash? What about the increased density and traffic?
Screw you, rube. Stow your stupid questions – stop standing in the way of “progress.”
According to an excellent piece by Associate Editor Jarleene Almenas writing in the Ormond Beach Observer:
“The Ormond Beach Planning Board unanimously recommended approval for a Planned Business Development amendment on Thursday, June 9, to allow the construction of an apartment complex with a maximum of 312 units at 215 Williamson Boulevard, the site of the shuttered Regal Cinemas.”
Regardless of where you fall on the issue of Ormond’s “cram ten-pounds of shit in a five-pound bag while ignoring the giants gathering on your border” growth management strategy, you got to love how these shills convince themselves to believe what they are told – rather than what the rest of us see with our own eyes.
For instance, “City staff also outlined that the traffic analysis determined the apartment complex would reduce average daily trips by 1,850 and 51 peak hour trips, as the movie theater generated 3,912 average daily trips and the apartments are projected to generate 2,062 average daily trips.”
“This is an infill project that we’ve all been looking for,” Planning Board member GG Galloway said.”
You read that right. . .
While board member Al Jorczak sold the massive complex (with rental rates ranging from $1,600 to $2,400 per month) as alternative housing for well-heeled residents of Or-mond’s fingerbowl district:
“Whereas some of our more affluent people are moving out of their homes and they don’t want the maintenance expenses, having an upscale development like this would be something that would be fairly attractive to them,” Jorczak said.”
You read that right, too. . .
Meanwhile, I guess those struggling families trying to keep a roof over their children’s heads in this artificial economy – and existing residents who are sitting through three light cycles at the intersection of Granada Boulevard and (you name the intersection) can suck shit through a straw?
Because in Ormond Beach, developers eventually get what they want – even if they have to pull a bait-and-switch end run on worried citizens who now have zero representation at City Hall.
My God. . .
Folks, this issue will come before the Ormond Beach City Commission on July 19 – well before the August 23 primary election – which includes Commissioners Troy Kent and Rob Littleton, both of whom are now running for the Volusia County Council District 4 seat.
Please pay attention to how Kent and Littleton come down on this amendment – and don’t expect a political leopard to ever change his spots. . .
Quote of the Week
“What a complete and total crock of shit! This project has been renamed MULTIPLE times to sneak one passed the residents of Flagler County. Almost 400 homes in the most fragile and important ecosystems in Flagler County. We are allowing developers to absolutely destroy and strip these natural treasures. This commission is bought and sold by the developers with Chairman Mullins offering them an everything goes pass. People need to wake up before we become South Florida. Unfreaking real.”
–“Smart Growth” writing anonymously in FlaglerLive! in response to the informative article, “The Gardens, Now Veranda Bay, Clears Last Hurdle Before Construction of First 56 of 334 Homes,” Monday, June 6, 2022
Crock of shit, indeed. . .
Something tells me We, The Little People across the region are mad as hell and no longer willing to have malignant sprawl shoved down our throats by a passel of greedy speculative developers hiding behind the “property rights” dodge – which now means they get to do whatever they want on their land – even if it forever impacts existing residents.
This swelling anger is no longer limited to committed environmentalists or a handful of dirt worshiping tree-huggers who oppose all development. Now, people are awakening to the growing threat and fear is taking hold with average citizens who see the debilitating affects of unmitigated sprawl on their quality of life firsthand.
Again, change begins at the ballot box – vote your conscience.
And Another Thing!
Those who serve in law enforcement have a unique window on the darker side – frequently sorting out the entanglements of people on the worst day of their lives – dealing with the ravages of substance abuse – and observing the horrible cycle of madness, violence, ancillary crimes, and human destruction it brings.
In Holly Hill, many years ago we had one ‘frequent flyer’ – the term for those who are no stranger to the criminal justice system by virtue of their tragic lifestyle – his name long forgotten. An elderly gentleman, tall, thin, and frail – another bindlestiff who became a fixture in the Halifax area riding his rickety bicycle around town and sleeping where and when he could.
Officers on patrol looked out for him as best we could – ensuring he had a semi-regular meal – and someone to talk with other than the demons in his own mind. . .
I once found him sleeping in a gutter (literally) on a street near Hollyland Park, his body covered with so many ants I thought he was dead.
At that time, there were few options available for obtaining adequate shelter and services for the homeless (a problem we still face) and he had burned many bridges with the few area social service organizations of the day.
Following one of his many arrests for minor crimes, we discovered that this dirty and disheveled man was a military veteran – a former United States Air Force officer, in fact.
Unfortunately, like so many veterans, he had long-ago fallen through the cracks of a horribly flawed system.
Over time, the courts became a revolving door for him, more a means of emergency shelter, medical care, and sustenance for one of the forgotten heroes who, by choice or circumstance, live on the streets, secreted in the underbrush on the periphery of society – out of our sight and out of their mind – one of those lost souls who fall somewhere between pitiful victim and reviled nuisance.
This American hero’s heartbreaking life came to an equally tragic end when he was found bludgeoned to death in a neighboring community. I have long forgotten the details of one man’s sad death – but the sense of utter hopelessness I felt remains fresh in my mind.
Fortunately, in 2013, the legendary former Volusia County and Circuit Court Judge David Beck, a US Army veteran, founded the first Veterans Court – “…an initiative in the 7th Judicial Circuit designed to focus on the distinctive needs of veterans in the criminal justice system.”
“Military veterans are unique in that they undergo vigorous physical training emphasizing survival, endurance, and courage. They are also molded to respect authority, serve selflessly, and abide by the codes of duty, honor, and patriotism. Although these are admirable traits, these characteristics have the potential for extreme emotional and mental strain for those leaving military service and reintegrating to civilian life.
The military acknowledges that veterans have distinctive needs and that many veterans require treatment to deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), substance abuse issues, mental health issues, and suicidal thoughts. The courts have also recognized these needs and in 2008 the country’s first Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) was implemented in Buffalo, New York. Since then more programs have been implemented throughout the country, including several in Florida.”
Although Judge Beck passed away in 2017, his legacy of service lives on in the “Judge David B. Beck Veterans Court,” which continues to provide substance abuse and mental health services, peer mentoring, and alternatives to traditional judicial outcomes to support the unique needs of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves, or National Guard; including current or former Department of Defense Contractors, and current or former military member of a foreign allied country who have been charged with an eligible crime.
I can assure you the many benefits to our community are measured in lives saved.
This month, our friends at the famous Main Street Station are sponsoring a fun raffle in support of the Judge David B. Beck Volusia County Veterans Court!
Donations are $5.00 per ticket – or five for $20.00 – for a chance to win a “Booze Wagon” – I’m talking a regular Radio Flyer, folks – chockfull of premium liquors, with all proceeds going to support the Veterans Court “Giving Beck Fund”!
It’s a party in a little red wagon!
Now, even if you don’t enjoy the occasional adult beverage, I will just bet you know someone who does (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) and this incredible selection of top shelf liquors would make a wonderful gift for anyone planning an event or stocking a home bar.
Tickets can be purchased at Main Street Station, 316 Main Street, Daytona Beach.
While you are there, please say hello to the always friendly and civically active Phaedra Lee and Steve Stinson while enjoying some of the best live music anywhere!
The drawing will be held on Sunday, June 26, 2022. You need not be present to win.
I hope you will join me in supporting this outstanding cause!
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend, y’all!
Thank you for reading Barker’s View!
Angels & Assholes will take a break next week to rest and recharge before the political shitshow starts in earnest!
Feel free to peruse the voluminous archives at the bottom of this page – and, as always, whether we agree or disagree on the issues. please continue to further the discussion. It’s important – now, more than ever.
Get involved. Get informed. Vote!
Angels & Assholes will return on Friday, July 1!