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:
Asshole Flagler County Commission Chair Joe Mullins
I care about good governance.
If you are taking the time out of your busy day to read Barker’s View, I’ll bet you do too.
That commitment begins by demanding that elected officials everywhere adhere to the ethical tenets of the public service, the first of which is never using one’s position or power for personal gain, advantage, or favor.
Few things are more troubling for a police chief or sheriff than calls from Fat Cats asking that a ticket be “fixed” – which is both morally abhorrent – and a technical impossibility due to the way uniform traffic citations are adjudicated in the State of Florida.
More than once I had a good laugh with one of my fellow officers when someone they stopped implored – “I know Chief Baker!” – to which the officer would respond, as directed, “His name is Barker – and he ordered us to write his family and friends two tickets because they should know better than to embarrass him by violating the traffic laws in this community.”
In one instance, many years ago, I “took care” of a citation for an elderly lady – the widow of a retired police officer – by going down to the Clerk of the Court and paying her fine out of my own pocket.
Was it the right thing to do? I don’t know – but it seemed right at the time. . .
Last week, the excellent on-line news site FlaglerLive reported on the serial traffic violations of Flagler County Commission Chair Joe Mullins – who, on the evening of June 2, was alleged by the Florida Highway Patrol to have driven his Mercedes on I-4 at speeds over ninety miles per hour.
In fact, two troopers were required to run him down with lights and siren to affect the stop on a dangerous section of I-4 (hell, its all dangerous. . .)
You can read about it here: https://flaglerlive.com/178180/mullins-seminole-jail/
During the traffic stop, Chairman Mullins – who, in my jaded view, oversees the most consistently dysfunctional government in the metropolitan statistical area (and that’s saying something) – was threatened with arrest “…if he persisted with arguing after the ticket had been issued.”
According to the report, during the traffic stop, Chairman Mullins made certain the trooper knew who he was dealing with:
“After the trooper told him he was clocked at 91 on the trooper’s laser, Mullins immediately handed something other than his license. “What’s this?” the trooper asked. Mullins is then heard saying he chairs the county commission. “Yes, sir,” the trooper continues, “do you have your registration and insurance, please?”
Kudos to the FHP trooper for quickly shutting down Mullins’ douchebaggery. . .
It gets worse.
“After completing the paperwork, the two troopers then go back to speak with Mullins, standing on the passenger side. They explain the ticket to him, but then Mullins berates them for the way he was pulled over, claiming it was not safe. One of the troopers asks him if he thought going at the speed he was going was safe.”
According to a report, in May 2020, while riding as a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by a Flagler County deputy sheriff, Mullins “almost immediately identified himself,” then invoked the name of Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly.
That was not the first time. . .
Following a 2017 stop in St. John’s County – before Mullins became a Flagler County Commissioner (he was elected in 2018 and is up for re-election this year) Sheriff Staly recalled to FlaglerLive:
“He wanted to know if I’d call the St. Johns County sheriff because he’d been pulled over by one of his deputies,” Staly said, his voice at this point a bit indignant at the memory. “I told him absolutely not, this is Florida, and we don’t do these kinds of things, at least not with me. So I never called Sheriff Shoar. He’s a personal friend–I talked to him today–and I don’t know what happened with that ticket.”
Sheriff Staly’s personal example speaks to the unquestioned professional ethics and steadfast devotion to the finest standards of the law enforcement profession he brings to Flagler County.
In my view, Flagler County residents can be rightly proud of Sheriff Rick Staly.
Frankly, Mr. Mullins should be ashamed of himself for putting a man of integrity in such a terrible position.
Incredibly, Chairman Mullin was also stopped and cited by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper on June 19 after he was found driving a red Ferrari on I-95 in Palm Coast at 92 miles per hour. . .
Apparently, Mr. Mullins keeps a form letter tucked away addressed to the “Honorable Magistrate Judge” that he routinely trots out whenever it becomes necessary to mewl for mercy from the court after putting motorists and law enforcement officers at substantial risk on area highways.
Always “…asking for lenience as I am gladly to pay in full the amount owed (you know, like us little people are expected to do?) but would like the assessed points and my record not to be noted if possible.”
(I am assuming this grammatical nightmare was translated from the original Mandarin?)
Folks, in my view, these incidents epitomize the arrogance of power in action – and it is time for Flagler County voters to take notice.
It is one thing for a public official to make a mistake – and most people can forgive what they see themselves doing – but the repetitive nature of Mr. Mullins’ infractions and questionable interactions with law enforcement is, in my view, over the top.
As a reader of FlagerLive so eloquently commented:
“I don’t know why the voters in Flagler County keep re-electing this pompous asshole.”
Me neither. . .
Angel Volusia School Board Members Jamie Haynes and Anita Burnette
“The Volusia County School Board hasn’t evaluated its attorney for 40-years.”
That shocking lede began a recent report by the Ormond Beach Observer’s Associate Editor Jarleene Almenas explaining the recent efforts of the Volusia County School Board to find an appropriate “tool” for evaluating the performance of board attorney “Teflon Ted” Doran.
During a meeting last month, School Board Vice Chair Jamie Haynes, along with members Linda Cuthbert and Anita Burnette (Ruben Colon and Carl Persis were absent), discussed a long-anticipated method for reviewing Mr. Doran’s performance based on examples of evaluations used by other districts from around the state.
According to Mr. Doran, none of those proven templates applied to his position. . .
The district’s in-house attorney, Kevin Pendley, advised the board that because Mr. Doran is an independent contractor (currently serving under the protection of a five-year agreement) only Clay County’s method for evaluating outside counsel matched their needs.
According to the Observer’s report, “If I were to sit down with one of the board members, I could explain each of these different criteria for evaluation, and I could explain why it does or doesn’t apply,” Doran said. “I think that out of all these, there’s definitely one that could be created.”
Spoken like a true lawyer, eh?
I’ll just bet Mr. Doran could stretch this process out for another forty years – or at least until after the election. . .
In her usual role as guardian of the stagnant status quo, Ms. Cuthbert did her level best to protect Doran’s tick-like tenure – despite a long-standing (and historically ignored) district policy discovered by Ms. Burnette that requires an annual vote to retain the attorney each July – by ensuring no such vote would be taken.
At every turn, Cuthbert did her best to drag her heels and question the process – finally making the inane argument that voting on the final product then using the tool to evaluate Mr. Doran at their meeting on July 26 (you know, doing their job) would take too much time. . .
To her credit, Vice Chair Jamie Haynes and Ms. Burnette stayed the course – with Haynes noting that the question of evaluating Mr. Doran’s performance had been brought up several times in recent months and the issue was finally up for discussion at the “ninth-hour.”
“Doran said he wasn’t concerned about an evaluation — only that he wanted to know the criteria of the evaluation in advance.”
“Somebody needs to be asking what the financial impact of the evaluation will be, because I can tell you that a lot of these criteria that I see [on these forms], I don’t spend time of them, and you don’t pay me,” Doran said. “If you tell me that’s what you’re going to evaluate me on, I’m going to do everything A-plus. There won’t be one category that you will be able to say that I did not complete with 100%.”
In turn, the whip-smart Volusia United Educators President Elizabeth Albert addressed the board and made it clear that “accountability is for everyone.”
Whether you agree with Ms. Albert or not – she can bring the heat.
During her remarks, Ms. Albert asked the cogent question, “Who else in the district gets to select their own evaluation tool?”
In discussing the disparity between employee evaluations and the fact the district’s attorney has not received a review in “four decades,” Ms. Albert stated:
“Do we think that’s appropriate? I don’t. When I hear comments made like, ‘I’m going to do an A-plus job,’ I’m led to wonder, ‘What kind of job is happening right now?’ When we talk about a financial consequence to actually do an A-plus job, that sounds to me like a threat, and it encourages me to perhaps put in a public information request to find out about billable hours, because now, I’m really curious.”
“What’s the fear? Again, we’re all held accountable.”
I think Ms. Albert is on to something. . .
At the end of the day, Vice Chair Haynes and Ms. Burnette are to be commended for their perseverance in setting a reasonable timeframe for implementation of an objective tool for reviewing Mr. Doran’s strengths and growth areas.
Because that is what transparent government organizations and taxing districts do when they are accountable to those who pay the bills – rather than entrenched insiders in the Ivory Tower of Power.
In my view, the real question is why it took four decades for the various iterations of the Volusia County School Board to find an objective way of evaluating the performance of one of the highest compensated positions, follow its own policies, and level the playing field for teachers, staff, students, and taxpayers?
Quote of the Week
“Set your watch – I’m going on the record right now:
The much-ballyhooed “Tony Grippa Beachside Redevelopment Committee” will have absolutely no substantive impact on the future stability and revitalization of our long-suffering beachside and core tourist areas.
I hope I’m wrong. But I’m not.”
–Mark “Barkstradamus” Barker, writing in Barker’s View, “Angels & Assholes,” July 17, 2017
Look, I hate to be an arrogant “I told you so” asshole (that’s not true, I relish it) – and I’m certainly not some prescient “seer” or political clairvoyant.
But when I’m right, dammit, I’m right. . .
I came upon this jewel in the dusty archives this week and just had to share it with you – along with another prognostication on the fate of “low-impact development initiatives” and environmental protections that are being booted down the political trail by developer loyalists on the Volusia County Council.
Now that time has proven me right on the abysmal state of infill and revitalization efforts on much of the beachside, I’m going to don my glittering swami hat, perch cross-legged on a pillar of pillows, slip into a cataleptic trance, and foretell the future as it relates to Volusia County’s recent proposal for a Frankensteinian reanimation of the do-nothing Environmental Resources Advisory and Political Insulation Committee as part of the Old Guard’s patented procrastination strategy to stymie still undefined “low-impact development” initiatives.
Here goes. . .
“Ommmmmmmm Mani Padme Hummmmm…Volusia County’s much-ballyhooed Environmental Resources Advisory Committee will have absolutely no substantive impact on malignant growth, our overburdened transportation and utilities infrastructure, or the implementation of environmental protection regulations whatsoever…Ommmmmmmmm.”
(Damn. These preternatural predictions always give me a headache. . .)
Don’t get me wrong, the committee will make suggestions for lukewarm amendments to land use regulations, environmental protections discussed, and recommendations will be made to our ‘powers that be’ – then the process will dissolve as follows:
The Volusia County Council will:
- Accept and Endorse the Committee Report.
- Set date for Council Workshop to further discuss.
- Establish a cumbersome timetable for implementation – then forget about it.
Again, I hope I am wrong.
But I’m not. . .
As I have previously pontificated: Elections have consequences.
Vote like your quality of life depends on it.
And Another Thing!
As regular readers of these silly screeds know, I am a registered No Party Affiliate. Which means both sides of the partisan divide are clamoring for my vote, while bashing moderates as fence-straddling deserters in the raging culture wars. . .
For many years, like my father and grandfather before me, I was a staunch card-carrying Republican.
Let’s face it, as a pasty-faced over-sixty Anglo-Saxon protestant supporter of the Second Amendment who served the bulk of my adult life in law enforcement – if I don’t fit the GOP’s “demographic” – I’m not sure who does. . .
Several years ago, I had a sincere concern over a series of policy decisions in Washington that resulted in a Republican led government shutdown. I was confused (and incensed by the accompanying Congressional buffoonery) so I wrote a letter to the Republican Party of Florida seeking answers.
My question was ignored. Crickets.
Because I am a cynical asshole, I assumed some staffer at the Florida GOP offices in Tallahassee opened my letter – and when a check didn’t fall out on their desk – simply placed my correspondence in File 13 and moved on to the next. . .
The Democratic Party clearly wasn’t an option as, in my centrist view, they have also become completely batshit on the issues important to me. So, later that week, I changed my voter registration to “NPA” and never looked back.
Besides, I always found both Republican and Democratic affiliates, clubs, committees, and assemblies to be bastions of gamesmanship, snobbery, backslapping clubbiness, and shameless ass-kissing – typically ruled with an iron hand by some arrogant party boss who always seems angry about something – even when their party is in power.
And, yes, I’m still confused – because there are always more questions than answers. . .
Now, I purge my political frustrations, poke fun at the absurdities of local government and those who practice it and hope to further the discussion with an alternative opinion in this space, keeping my focus on the candidates, governance, and myriad issues we face – not the party.
After all, most local races are by definition “non-partisan,” right?
Right. . .
This week I was reminded of all the reasons I left Big Party politics behind when I read an informative article by reporter Mark Harper writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal entitled, “Legal threats, calls for resignations: Volusia Republican primary endorsements rankle some.”
As I understand it (and I’m not sure I do), last week the Republican Executive Committee of Volusia County – who bills itself as the only officially sanctioned apparatus for the horribly fragmented Fun Coast GOP – held what some have described as an “emergency meeting” to endorse a slate of “establishment” candidates to be placed on a “voters guide” that will be mailed to voters ahead of the August primary.
Not one of the “grassroots” candidates for the Volusia County Council seats supported by Chairman Jeff Brower made the cut.
That started an internecine shitstorm between local Republican factions – with allegations of chicanery and deception – which culminated in ugly swipes, legal threats, and hard feelings.
In my view, at the end of the day, the whole bruhaha was one big nothingburger with cheese. . .
We, The Little People – those who are trying to protect our quality of life, preserve what remains of our natural resources, or raise a family on a warehouse workers wage – no longer care about intraparty bickering and bitchery.
Our concerns are far too dire for more treachery and diversion – and we demand and deserve purposeful leadership, strategic vision, and innovation – not more of the same.
Whenever I speak with John and Jane Q. Public on barstools, grocery aisles, and barber chairs, I get the impression they already have an internal “voters’ guide” in mind – one that has everything to do with the substantive issues that affect their lives and livelihoods – not the wants and whims of political suckfish with a chip in the game.
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend, y’all!