“Hey, Barker – you’re full of shit.”
“That’s asinine. You have no idea what you’re talking about, asshole.”
“That kook is the reason people are losing faith and trust in local government and our environmental regulatory agencies. . .”
I’ve heard it all. And I have been called it all.
Which makes this week’s moment of enlightenment – that second in time when the truth is revealed, frontpage, above-the-fold – that transformative instant when one’s opinions and purpose are validated – both sweet, and sickening.
As long-time readers of this blog will remember, Barker’s View cut its editorial teeth on The Debacle in DeBary, the sordid tale of a small West Volusia community that was set upon by a greed-crazed cabal of developer shills, working at the highest levels of the local government, who were intent on paving over sensitive land known as the Gemini Springs Annex.
In a sleazy attempt to push a ‘transportation-oriented’ development near the SunRail station – the city’s murky involvement with John Miklos, the former chair of the St. Johns River Water Management District – who also happens to own an environmental consultancy, Bio-Tech, which lobbied for clients before the same regulatory agency he oversaw (you read that right) – shocked the conscience of many throughout Central Florida and beyond.
So, when the City of Debary paid Mr. Miklos and his firm $38,500 (plus $155 per hour directly to Miklos for his involvement) to consult on a land acquisition process that everyone knew would ultimately come before the very board that he chairs, many saw the shit for what it was. . .
When I read the news this week that disgraced Seminole Tax Collector Joel Greenberg testified in a sworn deposition to state investigators that Miklos was being “greased off” to influence the approval of development permits in ecologically sensitive areas, it confirmed what many of us have suspected for years.
According to an excellent report by Martin E. Comas writing in the Orlando Sentinel:
“Let’s say (a development project) is not approved to be built because there are environmental issues,” Greenberg said this summer in a jailhouse interview with investigators with the State Attorney’s Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement, a transcript of which was released last week. “Miklos would get greased off or something, and then they would all magically be approved. And this was rinse and repeat, what they would do.”
(At the time of this writing, Miklos has not been charged with any crime, and in the past, he has repeatedly claimed to have recused himself on any permitting activity that his company brought before the SJRWMD.)
In my view, this was not a one-off aberration. This “fox running the henhouse” shit went on for years.
In fact, Miklos was the longest serving chair of the SJRWMD Governing Board, having first been appointed by then Governor Charlie Crist in 2010, then reappointed by Rick Scott to an additional four-year term in March 2014.
The Governing Board first elected Miklos as Chair in 2013 and re-elected him in both 2014 and 2015. He remained at the head of the snake until early 2019, when Gov. Ron DeSantis revoked his appointment to the board.
At the time, The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s intrepid environmental journalist Dinah Pulver Voyles reported that an analysis of records obtained from the St. Johns River Water Management District showed that Miklos’ company represented clients before the regulatory agency 117 times after he was appointed to the board in 2010 – and Bio Tech’s permitting activity before the district more than doubled when he became chairman in 2013.
At the time I wrote, “The News-Journal’s Dinah Pulver hasn’t just peeled the onion on this slimy land deal in DeBary – she ripped that sucker open like one of those greasy “Bloomin’ Vidalia’s” at a chain steakhouse.”
In my view, Ms. Pulver’s reporting on this gross corruption in plain sight deserved the Pulitzer Prize. . .
Disturbingly, according to a recent report on Greenberg’s testimony by Ms. Pulver in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “He (Miklos) now serves on the University of Central Florida board, appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Since 2016, as an individual and through two of his companies, Miklos has contributed more than $122,000 to candidates campaigning for state office, including $53,000 to Ron DeSantis and Friends of Ron DeSantis, and $1,000 to (embattled State Senator Jason) Brodeur.”
In most places that respect common decency and the rule of law, a scumbag who engaged in that level of open thievery would be slapped in irons, paraded through the streets, and publicly humiliated for high crimes against the environment and massive public corruption.
But this is Florida – the biggest whorehouse in the world – and the rules are different here.
Now, I’m just spit-balling here, but outside most third-world Banana Republics – promoting the interests of personal customers coming before the very same regulatory board that you chair is considered a colossal conflict of interest – if not a criminal misuse of public office.
Not if your John Miklos – or those greed-heads who found a for-hire workaround of Florida’s tepid environmental regulations.
In my view, Christ and Scott either knew, or should have known, that John Miklos is a congenital liar and a pathological sneak thief with no morals and a personal disdain for transactional ethics.
So, why would the incredibly popular Governor DeSantis appoint Miklos to serve on the UCF Board?
To my jaded mind, Miklos should serve as Florida’s poster boy for the basest form of quid pro quo corruption – something that has now become accepted practice at all levels of government in the Sunshine State.
With tens-of-thousands of dollars being funneled into local political campaigns by developers and those sutlers who make their livings off the crumbs left behind – coupled with the Pavlovian rubberstamp response to high density development by hand-select elected officials who benefit from the largesse – can you prove me wrong?
We are the victims of John Miklos and those who used him as a dull tool to exploit our sensitive environment to make way for more cookie cutter subdivisions and ghastly strip centers – the very wild places and natural resources he was charged with protecting.
This wholesale growth-at-all-cost/destruction-for-profit will have repercussions for our children and grandchildren.
Damn this scum.
Now is the time for Volusia County officials to ferret out and set a moratorium on any development applications or approvals for projects ramrodded by Miklos or his firm based upon Greenberg’s allegations and supporting anecdotal evidence.
Fortunately, it appears the worm is beginning to turn in this fetid political dung pit – thanks to the testimony of a convicted sex trafficker and all-around shitbag who violated the public trust, stole from his constituents, and is now cooperating with state and federal authorities prior to his sentencing in December, hoping to save his own foul skin.
But isn’t that the way it always is?
I was a police officer for over thirty-years and can attest that you do not find informants with access, or make cases against habitual offenders, in the hallowed halls of a convent – you find them down in the vile darkness.
When backed into a corner – facing years of fashioning anal bungs out of apple cores in a 6’x6’ prison cell – the rats and snakes always begin to feed on one another – and many powerful people are rightfully getting nervous.
Stay tuned – something tells me things are about to get interesting. . .