Angels & Assholes for October 28, 2022

Hi, kids!

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           Edgewater Mayoral Candidate Mike Ignasiak

Earlier this week, I watched a typical election season brouhaha erupt into a scandalous conflagration that resulted in criminal charges being filed against a well-known political candidate after incriminatory photographs were published on social media depicting Edgewater mayoral candidate (and the city’s former mayor and police chief) Mike Ignasiak removing campaign signs belonging to his young opponent, Diezel Depew, and Volusia County Council District 3 candidate Ted Noftall.

The video clearly shows Ignasiak placing both signs in his personal vehicle while leaving his own campaign sign standing at an intersection on South Ridgewood Avenue in Edgewater.   


According to reports, Mr. Ignasiak apparently felt justified in removing the signs because they were blocking his own (?) – and he claimed to have permission from a nearby business to place his sign on what was later identified as the public right-of-way – which is prohibited by city code. 


Regardless of his intent, it certainly looked to this old flatfoot like Mr. Ignasiak was caught in flagrante delicto – and all the yammering, stammering, avoiding media interviews, and after-the-fact “written permission” slips cannot erase that jarring image from the minds of Edgewater voters.   

In my view, by his actions, Mike Ignasiak has embarrassed himself, his family, his former profession – and the City of Edgewater.   

To show how ill-conceived personal attacks can come back to bite a not-so-bright candidate in the ass, back on September 20, Mr. Ignasiak posted a sanctimonious screed to his campaign’s Facebook page.

The grammatical nightmare came complete with a photograph he claimed was an illegally placed Depew sign:

This is an illegal/prohibited political campaign sign. My opponent has either chosen to deliberately ignore the Edgewater regulations regarding political signs or is plain stupid.

Every candidate received and agreed to follow Edgewater guidelines when they paid for their campaign sign permit and were given a handout of does and don’ts. All other candidates have complied and are/have operated within these guidelines. These prohibited signs are up at multiple locations within Edgewater proper.

Code enforcement has issued notices of violation for six different locations and ordered the property owners to immediately take them down or face fines. Removals are in process.

This is the third time Edgewater’s city clerk has had to issue notices of potential campaign violations and warnings over prohibited activities. Once, for a prohibited illegal campaign fund raising activity, once for illegal signage, and once for failure to place proper notices.

The self proclaimed boast of Ethics, Honesty, Integrity, all ring hollow by actions observed and not words said. Some believe that the rules don’t apply to them, those rules are for other people. As I have continued to state, Don’t listen to what they tell you, look at what they’re doing “. The proof is in the deed not the word.

Can you imagine if someone is deliberately ignoring our rules now what will happen they actually got elected to office?”


“Actions observed. . .”

“Some believe that the rules don’t apply to them, those rules are for other people.”

That didn’t age well. 

“Plain stupid,” is right.     

As a former law enforcement executive and veteran politician, Mr. Ignasiak understands the proper method of reporting illegally placed campaign signs – and knows he has absolutely no authority to enforce the codes and ordinances of the City of Edgewater.

I am equally certain he is familiar with Florida statutes governing theft – and as the city’s former mayor – he must know the importance of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety when seeking the public’s confidence.    

On Tuesday, the great Claire Metz, the grande dame of Volusia County newsgathering and a Central Florida treasure, reported on WESH-2 that the Edgewater Police Department has referred criminal charges against Ignasiak to the Office of the State Attorney for review.    

Mike Ignasiak has no one to blame but himself. 

In my view, a candidate’s honor and self-respect are usually the first casualties of modern political campaigns, and through his extraordinarily poor judgement, Mr. Ignasiak has violated the public trust and no longer possesses the moral authority to stand for high office. 

With his last shred of dignity, he should immediately withdraw from the Edgewater mayoral race – and those influential groups and individuals who have endorsed his candidacy should rescind their support and roundly condemn Ignasiak’s deplorable actions.   

Unfortunately, the theft of campaign advertisements (and general assholery) is a widespread problem in Volusia County elections.  This despicable trend is not limited to one race or campaign and is being experienced by most (if not all) candidates throughout Volusia County. 


How low does one have to stoop to get elected to a county or municipal office in Volusia County? 

And what power and prestige (or something much more lucrative?) is at stake that would drive someone to dishonor everything they once held dear to be elected “King Shit” in Edgewater, Florida?    

In my view, it is time for law enforcement and prosecutors to take a zero-tolerance stance to protect the public trust – including exposing, prosecuting, and punishing those contemptuous assholes who engage in political subterfuge.

Enough is enough. 

Those loyal Barker’s View readers who vent to me are tired of these bloody, arduous, and dirty campaigns – now complete with ‘glossy mailers’ bypassing candidates and trashing various party honchos – furthering the petty internecine wars the local partisan factions are famous for.

Citizens are rightfully sick of the threats and insults that camouflage the fabricated alternate reality painted by compromised incumbents with nowhere to hide from their abysmal record, other than the apathy displayed by far too many voters.   

It is time for We, The Little People to begin a discussion of returning a sense of honor and fair play to our democratic process – where a candidate’s character and willingness to follow the rule of law holds more sway than a well-placed political placard.    

Angel               Volusia County Special-Needs Students

The discriminatory policies and practices of Volusia County District Schools were back in the news this week.

Per usual, the revelations are disturbing.   

In an outstanding exposé by education reporter Danielle Johnson writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, we learned that the parent of a student with Down syndrome who attends Seabreeze High School under a deferred graduation program has filed state and federal complaints alleging discrimination against her son and other students with disabilities.

According to the report, “Anni Suadi says the district “warehouses” students with disabilities in segregated “building 15” at the high school “like it used to be back in 1950,” and that Volusia County Schools has not followed her son Lance Avery’s legally binding individualized education plan (IEP).

The actions, which she calls “immoral,” “unethical” and “illegal” in her complaint, have deprived him of opportunities to participate in electives and be included with general education students. She’s pulled him out of school until a change is made to include her son and other students.”   

My God. 

In my view, isolating students with disabilities in ominous sounding places like “Building 15” flies in the face of decades of research proving the benefits of students of all capabilities learning and interacting together in an inclusive environment – especially true for those with Down syndrome who are visual learners and thrive when in the company of typically developing students. 

This forced separation also promotes ugly stereotypes that children with physical and learning disabilities are somehow ‘different,’ or someone to be feared, which can lead to bullying and ostracization.   

Unfortunately, the story of Lance Avery is not unique in Volusia County Schools.

Before my retirement from law enforcement, I once responded to Holly Hill School where an 8th grade student was alleged to have made a veiled threat of violence.  When I arrived, I found the boy – who appeared slightly older than his classmates – dressed in all black, with a long overcoat inappropriate to the season. 

The young man was sitting with his head buried in his arms at a desk sequestered in a rear corner of the room away from his classmates.

After going through the formalities, I escorted the young man to a nearby administrative office to notify his parent (he was being raised by his father) and determine what was going on with him.

To make a long story short, the boy was having a bad day and had made confrontational statements to his teacher.

I asked him why he was sleeping at a desk set apart from the rest of the class?

He explained that due to learning and behavioral issues he was physically segregated from the other students and made to sit (literally) in the corner of the room.  As a result, the child simply accepted the figurative scarlet letter school administrators had placed on him and refused to participate in learning activities.

Would you? 

My blood boiled. . .  

Here was a child intentionally made to feel different, alienated, and set apart – physically and socially – someone best avoided during the most impressionable and formative years of his young life, labeled a misfit by trained school administrators who knew better – handmaidens of a bloated bureaucracy that claimed to spend over $11,000 in federal, state, and local educational funding per pupil each year. 


That kid should get his money back. . .     

I can assure you this was not the only child who was branded and allowed to fall through the proverbial cracks in Volusia County District Schools. 

Last August, the United States Department of Justice reached a settlement with Volusia County Schools after finding the district’s “systemic and discriminatory practices” were punishing students with disabilities for behaviors the students couldn’t control.”

That investigation began in 2017 after an attorney representing eleven students – nine of whom were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder – filed complaints on their behalf with the DOJ. 

According to a 2021 News-Journal report:

“The DOJ found the students’ claims to be true. The district relied on overly punitive disciplinary tactics and law enforcement to address behaviors that are known or should be known manifestations of the students’ disabilities. The district also “routinely sought to exclude these students by removing them,” by asking parents to pick children up from school or asking them to keep the children home, by suspending the children, or by using Baker Act procedures to involuntarily hold children at hospitals.”  

The resulting settlement gives Volusia County Schools three-years to revise discriminatory policies and procedures. . .

Among other protections, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that students with disabilities are entitled to learn in the least restrictive environment, which means, “…to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities including children in public or private institutions or care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled.” 

The IDEA act also requires parental participation in their child’s individualized education plan (IEP) – along with written notice of changes to the IEP and the right to due process in mediating disputes.

That’s the law – not a suggestion.

According to Ms. Johnson reportage, “Other parents and a former teacher have also voiced concerns over the district’s handling of special-needs students. Pushing back against the complaints, the district says it complies with disability laws and that class placements vary based on individual student needs and abilities rather than systemic exclusion, as Suadi suggests.”

The district also reported that of the 243 students participating in Exceptional Student Education programs at Seabreeze High School, 82% of them spend 85% of their time in a general education setting. 

As usual, something stinks in the Ivory Tower of Power in DeLand. . .

In my view, it is time the Department of Justice and Florida Department of Education stop mollycoddling these habitual offenders at Volusia County District Schools – entering into meaningless multi-year settlement agreements that allow these discriminatory practices to continue year-after-year – and establish strong in-house monitoring and enforcement to ensure Volusia County students with special-needs are no longer subjected to this ongoing institutional discrimination. 

Quote of the Week

With early voting now underway in Volusia County – and the wide disparity in campaign donations to certain candidates – I thought we would trot out this oldie but goodie:

“…politicians don’t beg for money; they sell a service: namely, use of government’s coercive power to achieve for interest groups what these groups cannot or will not achieve peacefully on the market. A politician seeking office gets his funds by begging no more than an accountant or an architect gets his funds by begging.

Like the accountant and architect, the politician offers a quid pro quo in exchange for campaign contributions. The difference, of course, is that the quid pro quo supplied by the accountant or architect—unlike that supplied by most politicians—isn’t a promise to reduce the liberties or confiscate the wealth of innocent third parties.”

–Dr. Donald J. Boudreaux, senior fellow of the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.  Boudreaux is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.

They say money can’t buy happiness.

But in Volusia County it can buy an election for those candidates who have been hand-selected by extremely wealthy insiders’ intent on furthering the slimy transactional politics that ensure the stagnant status quo. 

Don’t take my word for it.

Before casting your sacred vote, I encourage everyone to review campaign finance reports and see which candidates for public office in Volusia County are being groomed by our “Rich & Powerful” – those influential few who are spending heavily to ensure the public teat remains patent for all the right last names.

Please find those enlightening reports here:

Then pick your poison – and vote like your quality of life depends on it. 

Because it does.

And Another Thing!

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. . .”

I am of the belief that many of the world’s problems could be solved if people kept their hands to themselves.  The simple act of respecting the personal space and property of others is a moral imperative in a civil society and the foundational principle of being a good person and good citizen.

I was reminded of that this week when I read several reports on social media regarding the theft of campaign signs and the resulting finger pointing and counteraccusations between camps that detract from the significant issues we face. 

Unfortunately, during what passes for political campaigns in 2022 – a no-holds-barred blood sport where the politics of personal destruction and wholesale character assassination have replaced the debate of competing ideas and thoughtful discussion of the issues – anything goes, and the end always justifies the means.

For months, we have been inundated by political advertisements, unsolicited robocalls, silly glossy mailers, and the most visually revolting of all – the ubiquitous political yard sign.

Those friggin’ things have sprouted everywhere. . .  

I live up here in God’s Country – Ormond Beach – a place the late great Big John facetiously referred to as “The Fingerbowl District.”

It’s not, but our politicos have a pretty high opinion of themselves – now that they have succeeded in turning this once quaint jewel into just another mishmash of sticks-n-glue apartment complexes, zero-lot-line cracker box subdivisions, and the traffic congestion that naturally follows. 

However, our Chamber of Commerce-types are rightly proud of our “upscale” downtown – and local elected officials often point to the time, money, and effort that has gone into the revitalization of Granada Boulevard – transforming our once blighted “Mainstreet” into a “…vibrant, beautiful, and livable” space. 

Yet each election season we allow those same politicians and their hopeful opponents to trash our beautiful downtown with cheap campaign posters – sometimes multiple signs for the same candidate crowded onto one small spot – resulting in a repulsive patchwork of political placards littering the front of restaurants and shops creating a visual nuisance for residents and visitors.  

Screw it. 

I certainly don’t make the rules around here – but those who do could clearly give two-shits – because they are the same egomaniacal assholes trying get their names in front of voters before election time. 

In my view, any dipshit who casts their sacred vote based upon the number of political signs a candidate hammers onto a vacant lot should be frog-walked before Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis and have their voter registration card permanently revoked for terminal stupidity. . .


I recently had the pleasure of appearing on The Smoking Truth podcast – sitting in with the incredibly smart Eric Raimundo while co-host Dana McCool took a much-deserved few days off. 

Although I prefer to express my goofy thoughts in writing, I enjoy the broadcast medium – and the lively back-and-forth with Eric and Dana is a great learning experience for me. 

Besides, they allow me to smoke Marlboros and drink Irish whiskey, which keeps my mind reasonably limber, and makes for a fast-paced discussion on the issues of the day.

Please find Episode 10 of The Smoking Truth here:

That’s all for me.  Have a great weekend and Happy Halloween, y’all! 

A Deafening Silence

I am frequently asked to publish a Barker’s View “voter’s guide” – a list of those candidates and ballot measures I think you should vote for.    

Not gonna happen. 

Some will disagree with this, but I’m not running a pseudo-campaign site here. I don’t accept advertising and I’m too stupid to take money. 

Trust me – there are enough of those sites out there if that is what you are looking for.

Besides, I assume if you or someone you care about is standing knee-deep in fetid floodwater and still hear the sound of a bulldozer filling in a wetland nearby – you already know who to vote for. . . 

The fact is these long-winded jeremiads of mine are simply one man’s jaded opinion on the issues of the day – neither always right, nor always wrong.  

I have known some truly outstanding elected servant-leaders – but by repeatedly touching a hot stove, I have also learned that there are politicians I believed in and rallied for who eventually disappointed me once they became enamored with the trappings and perquisites of office, the schmoozing and backslapping of their “new friends,” and finally transmogrified into everything they hated when they got into politics.   

Because that is how the system works, and it is why I don’t get close with those running for high office. 

That said, it should be clear to anyone who reads these screeds which way I swing on the myriad issues we face – and those candidates I feel best represent (at least in their campaign rhetoric) the values and substantive change that we so desperately need in Volusia County government – and which represent more of the same. 

Or worse.

In my view, anyone who remains undecided on what that “substantive change” I crow about should look like owes it to themselves to watch the pernicious actions of the obstructionist majority during last week’s farcical Volusia County Council meeting – the culmination of a malicious campaign by influential insiders and their meat puppets on the dais of power to consolidate power and preserve the stagnant status quo.

In my view, just days before early voting begins, the suppression of open debate on an issue of critical concern represents the final return on investment for those well-heeled insiders who, through massive campaign contributions to hand-select candidates, have controlled everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tide here on Florida’s Fun Coast.

As anyone paying attention knows, the State of Florida is actively pursuing the implementation of potable reuse – the use of treated sewage to augment our dwindling drinking water supply in the face of massive overdevelopment – a process colloquially known as “toilet to tap” or “flush to faucet.” 

The legislature has already passed rules preempting local government regulation of treated wastewater based upon a 2020 report by the Florida Potable Reuse Commission and is now actively building a framework for implementation across the Sunshine State.  

According to the report, following evaluation of the process – including a standalone test project in Daytona Beach – the critical factor in implementation is “…public understanding that potable reuse is a safe and sustainable alternative water source.” 

So, how do they plan to convince wary Floridians that drinking our own recycled sewage is a good idea? 

Through publicly funded agitprop (“public outreach”) supported by “…increased experience and advancements in technology.” 

In other words, they plan to shove it down our throats (literally) – whether we like it or not.   

Last week, Chairman Jeff Brower rightfully asked that discussion of an ordinance or charter amendment limiting blackwater reuse be placed on the council agenda to stimulate action on this critical issue ahead of pending legislation. 

According to Mr. Brower, instead of artificially augmenting our drinking water supply, “…our focus needs to be on conservation, on the way that we grow, where we’re growing, preserving our water.” 

Unfortunately, conservation, environmental protections, or limiting growth – even in the face the statewide engineering and planning disaster that facilitated unchecked sprawl and contributed to the horrific flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian – are considered radical concepts by Volusia’s Old Guard.

In August, a similar measure brought forth by Councilwoman Heather Post (who, along with Councilman Danny Robins, was absent last week) died for lack of a second. . .

In an act of political cowardice that, in my view, represents the very antithesis of contemplative deliberation, citizen input, and the open competition of ideas that forms the basis of sound public policy – lame duck At-Large Councilman Ben Johnson made a motion to prohibit any further discussion of potable reuse by the current council. 

You read that right. 

Our sitting at-large representative moved to forever forbid discussion of an issue critical to the future of every man, woman, and child in Volusia County – an authoritarian move commonly associated with tinpot dictatorial regimes, co-opted political stooges, and oppressive oligarchies.

Sound familiar?  It should.   

I cannot think of anything more antidemocratic – more un-American – than suppressing open and honest discussion by policymakers as a means of protecting a bought-and-paid-for political agenda.      

When Chairman Brower asked our bootlicking County Attorney Mike Dyer for clarification on the legality of limiting discussion on issues of public concern – Dyer fell back on his obsequious talent for always knowing which way the political wind is blowing – and mewled something about the council having the ability to select which issues it wants to address. 


In turn, The Right Reverend “Dr.” Fred Lowry seconded Councilman Johnson’s motion – with Councilwoman Barbara Girtman joining Johnson, Lowry, and Billie Wheeler to pass the repressive measure on a 4-1 vote. (Et tu, Barb?)

Let’s call it what it is – the silencing of substantive debate by a majority vote of those whose “Toilet to Tap?  Never heard of it…” argument cannot stand up to the light of day – kicking the can even further down the dusty political trail – more concerned about protecting the profit motives of their well-heeled political benefactors than the potential health and safety of their worried constituents.   

In doing so, the Old Guard continued its weird Conspiracy of Silence – where certain elected officials choose to crush discussion on critical issues when they believe the personal/profit motives of their political donors differ from those of their long-suffering constituents.   

And the silence is deafening.   

In pursuing this continuing course of conduct, the Volusia County Council has lost its legitimacy as a governing body as these sullied sellouts expose themselves for the compromised shills they are. 

I cannot guarantee you that things will change if we elect the current slate of grassroot candidates who have pledged to support initiatives that slow out-of-control growth, set commonsense environmental regulations, and establish low-impact development measures to protect what remains of our natural places and our quality of life.

But I can assure you nothing will change if we don’t.

Like Thomas Jefferson said, “The government we elect is the government we deserve.”

Angels & Assholes for October 21, 2022

Hi, kids!

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               Hometown Heroes Pat Northey and Steve Parker

On Tuesday, the Volusia County Council honored Pat Northey for her long-time advocacy of the arts and our fragile environment as she rightfully received the prestigious 2022 Tippen Davidson Award from the Volusia County Cultural Alliance. 

According to the VCCA, “The Annual Tippen Davidson Award for the Arts was established to recognize leadership and long-standing support by individuals of cultural endeavors in Volusia County by the Volusia County Cultural Alliance.”

After more than 20-years of elected service – her continuing contributions as Chair of the Volusia ECHO Advisory Committee – and enduring commitment to promoting the county’s network of nature trails (which now span more than 67-miles) the County Council acknowledged that, “…at the heart of her community service is the desire to create a better quality of life for Volusia County residents, ensuring they have a clean and natural place to live with access to a variety of arts and cultural facilities,” in proclaiming October 18, 2022, as Pat Northey Day in Volusia County.

Well deserved, Pat!

Thank you for your significant contributions and tireless efforts to improve our quality of life and safeguard our environment. 

In the brutal aftermath of Hurricane Ian, true “hometown heroes” have emerged on both sides of Volusia’s Palmetto Curtain – resolute servant-leaders lending a hand when and where they can – working hard to keep their neighbors informed of available resources and inspiring a spark of hope in those who have lost so much.   

In my view, Steve Parker – moderator of the incredibly popular social media site “What’s Happening in Port Orange” and the local public affairs podcast, “What’s Happening Live!” – does more than just talk about the issues we face, he gives generously of his time, talents, and sweat to help make life easier for his neighbors in need.

This week, a loyal member of the Barker’s View tribe let me know that Steve has been working tirelessly in the heavily impacted Summer Trees subdivision, a 55+ community in Port Orange – helping elderly and disabled residents in removing flood damaged furniture, cabinets, floors, and fixtures – doing the heavy lifting for those unable to recover from the devastating effects of this disaster on their own.  

God’s work, Steve.

I have always taken comfort in a quote by the great Fred Rogers – better known as children’s television host Mister Rogers, who said:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Our ‘hometown heroes’ Pat Northey and Steve Parker are two of those intrepid helpers who, through their selfless service to others, bring optimism for our collective future in Volusia County. 

Thank you, both. 

We’re glad you passed our way. 

Angel               New Smyrna Beach Resident Sharon Adams

It is no secret we live in a time when political affiliations are hurled like vile epithets – another sign of our horrible national divide – where even local candidates and their supporters launch the terms “Democrat” and “Republican” like boiling oil at their opponents, as though these labels alone will tell voters all they need to know about a candidate’s character and lineage.    

Us vs. Them.  Red vs. Blue.  Good vs. Evil.  Compromise is weakness.   

Earlier this week, a report by Mark Harper writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal entitled, “Candidates in NSB race trade barbs after illegal partisan ad,” caught my jaundiced eye.

In the nonpartisan New Smyrna Beach District One race – a contest populated by incumbent Commissioner Mike Kolody and his opponent, Valli Perrine, both of whom “identify” as Republicans – a dust-up occurred earlier this month when a glossy mailer sent to potential voters by the Kolody campaign noted his political affiliation.

That is a violation of state election laws.

Mr. Kolody blamed the error on the printing company – which may be factual – however; according to the News-Journal’s report, Ms. Perrine alleges that Commissioner Kolody has also been “going door-to-door telling (voters) I’m a Democrat. Which is insane in a nonpartisan race.”

The accusations, misinformation, and petty politics did not end there:

I approached him at a farmer’s market,” Perrine said. “I said, ‘What you’re doing is in violation of state law.”

“And he says, ‘You’re a Democrat.’ He started yelling at me … which is crazy because we were standing next to the Democratic Party tent. He’s not really a rational person.”

Kolody didn’t have nice things to say about Perrine.

“I have an opponent who is a very nasty person,” he said. “I sent an email to her saying we should have a face-to-face debate. She refused, saying, ‘You’ve had four years. Go live in the mountains and don’t ever email me again.’” Kolody accused Perrine’s camp of taking some of his yard signs down.

Perrine said her supporters didn’t remove his signs. She said it was Republican Party officials who took them down from in front of the GOP headquarters.

She accused him of parking a vehicle in front of her house displaying campaign messages.

“She is telling people I’m a nasty person who hates women,” Kolody said. “She’s not the type of person you want to have running for public office.”

In a most worthy act, Sharon Adams, a resident of New Smyrna Beach who describes herself as a registered Democrat who claims she does not support either Kolody or Perrine, filed a formal complaint with the Florida Elections Commission.

According to the report, Adams told the News-Journal that she “…isn’t a supporter of either candidate but believes public officials ought to know and follow laws.”

“I do think it’s a big deal,” she said. “Because with everything going on in our country, every little violation matters.”

The notion of nonpartisanship in local races might seem antiquated to some, but Adams said an embrace of the concept is the best way to govern locally.

“I think people ought to be judged not on the party affiliation. They ought to be judged on their qualities.”

Look, I don’t know Ms. Adams personally, and I certainly have no idea about her politics, but I respect the fact that a lone citizen saw fit to stand on principle – and take action to preserve that which is right and fair at a time when local political contests have become a blood sport.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”

Thank you, Ms. Adams, for having the courage of your convictions.   

Asshole           Volusia County Council

Heliograph signals.

Semaphore lines.

The Cooke and Wheatstone electrical telegraph.

Apollo’s S-Band Transponder that transmitted Neil Armstrong’s first words from the moon.

Hell, last week, I watched a spaceship intentionally crash into the side of an asteroid 6.7 million miles from my Barcalounger in Ormond Beachand the pictures beamed to my television moments before impact were so clear I could count the pea-sized pebbles on its rocky surface. 

Advances in long-distance communications continue to evolve at the speed of technology, but in 2022, I still cannot watch a bimonthly meeting of that shambolic hootenanny that passes for a Volusia County Council meeting without an ear trumpet and an oral transliterator. . .

What gives?

For years I have poked fun at the sound quality of broadcasts from the gilded Volusia County Council chamber – which have a pitch, tone, and consistency just shy of Alexander Graham Bell’s harmonic telegraph – as a way of calling attention to the embarrassing lack of reliable technology (that you and I paid for) at the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Building in DeLand. (Admittedly, the place is often reminiscent of the dark side of the moon, but still. . .)

After struggling through Tuesday’s indecipherable shitshow – which saw our elected dullards, participating residents, and disinterested staff members straining to be heard due to “audio/visual difficulties” that disrupted the meetings live feed – it has become evident that these chronic communications failures simply must be a strategic maneuver to keep Volusia County residents in the dark on the important issues we face.

Is there another explanation? 

I’m asking.

With a recently approved budget topping $1.06 Billion and a long history of technological disruptions – along with the asinine refusal of our elected officials to embrace a public access television channel to allow residents the opportunity to observe their county government in all its glorious inaction – it is patently clear that our elected officials want to make it so onerous for us to watch the sausage being made that We, The Little People get frustrated and go away. 

Jesus.  Enough already. 

What has been a chronic annoyance is now empirical evidence of the gross mediocrity and lack of attention to detail that pervades the executive suites at the TCK building.

Regardless of whether they have the self-awareness to notice, it also reflects poorly on our elected officials, who are left looking like addled buffoons every time a microphone fails, and a flummoxed staff member is forced to equip Chairman Brower with two tin cans and a waxed string. . .

What little I was able to decrypt on Tuesday involved a weird appearance by Daytona Beach City Commissioner Stacy Cantu, who took to the podium to lambast Chairman Jeff Brower for “playing politics” when he appeared at a meeting in Daytona Beach and explained how overdevelopment contributed to post-Ian inundation during a discussion of issues surrounding recurrent flooding in perennially neglected Midtown neighborhoods.   

Yeah.  It’s Brower’s fault. . .    

From the first days of his campaign, Mr. Brower has decried the pace and magnitude of malignant sprawl across Volusia County and has spoken of its detrimental effects on our water quality and insufficient utilities infrastructure.  In fact, controlling explosive growth has been Chairman Brower’s cause célèbre – and his controversial stance has brought the wrath of his compromised colleagues – who are desperate to maintain the status quo for their political benefactors. 

Given the fact Commissioner Cantu has a sworn obligation to address the issues affecting Midtown residents, in my view, her odd performance on Tuesday was the textbook example of political deflection – something not lost on long-time political watchdog John Nicholson. 

When Mr. Nicholson spoke, he pointed out the absurdity of Ms. Cantu’s accusation, saying “She (Cantu) plays politics all the time,” before rightfully calling for politicians to stop placing blame and support a unified effort by the City of Daytona Beach and Volusia County to find a solution to the repeat flooding in Midtown – a recurring disaster which Mr. Nicholson noted has been going for “forty years.” 

I don’t always agree with John Nicholson – but I have long admired his thoughtful take on the issues of the day and near-constant presence at public meetings. 

On this issue we are of a like mind: The good residents of Midtown deserve better.

Later in the meeting, I was shocked (but not surprised) by the result of a tepid and one-sided discussion of a “Toilet to Tap” measure previously proposed by Chairman Jeff Brower in the face of pending state mandates which will forever limit local governments regulation of recycled sewage to augment our dwindling drinking water supply – bureaucratically known as “potable reuse water.”

In the view of many environmentalists, the disgusting process of using treated wastewater to alleviate increasing pressure on the aquifer due to overdevelopment will allow even more unchecked sprawl across the width and breadth of Florida.   

In August, a similar request for action on this critical issue supported by Chairman Brower died for lack of a second. 

To ensure that a wooden stake was driven through the heart of any substantive action that would in any way impede the ability of their well-heeled political benefactors in the real estate development community to haul untold millions out of our paved over pine scrub – lame duck At-Large Councilman Ben Johnson made a motion that the topic of potable reuse water never be discussed by this iteration of the Volusia County Council again.   

You read that right.

Of course, The Very Reverend “Dr.” Fred Lowry dutifully genuflected – kissed the sizeable asses of his political masters – and seconded Old Ben’s motion. 

With Danny Robins and Heather Post absent, Councilwoman Barb Girtman once again ensured a majority for Volusia’s stodgy Old Guard when she voted to ensure the status quo, joining Johnson, Lowry, and Billie Wheeler in effectively quashing any further consideration of protecting our threatened drinking water supply until at least January. 

My God.

By way of explanation for her vote, Ms. Girtman said she could not understand why Chairman Brower chose to bring the matter back up at this time?  (Obviously insinuating he was staging a political stunt ahead of the election.)

Because acting proactively and getting ahead of an approaching issue that will soon affect every man, woman, and child in Volusia County is anathema in a place that now exists to dally, defer, and dawdle. . . 

If that isn’t playing politics with our future – with the health and safety of our children and grandchildren – I don’t know what is.

No wonder our elected dullards don’t want anyone watching. . .

I hope you will remember this perpetual block and stall strategy at the ballot box next month.

Quote of the Week

“Twenty years ago, Consolidated-Tomoka Land Company proposed the annexation on the condition we abolish our city’s strict wetland protection rules. I and other commissioners voted against the annexation when it became clear the will of the people of Ormond Beach demanded we keep the wetland rules to preserve trees, greenspace and flood control. Aware that growth does not pay for itself, our citizens overwhelmingly rejected a massive expansion of our city.

The land would be ultimately sold by Consolidated-Tomoka to unknown developers. Once annexed, the Ormond Beach brand would drive up the price. So would eliminating our wetland rules and allowing a much higher development density. Daytona Beach annexed the Consolidated-Tomoka acres and broke a long-standing boundary agreement with Ormond Beach to do so. Twenty years and two resales later, the current owner of the proposed Avalon Park property will construct 10,000 homes, large water retention ponds and extensive commercial development.

Even if the city had annexed the land, Ormond Beach would now have little or no control over how Avalon Park is developed. We gave up our only effective protection against overdevelopment when the city abolished our model wetland rules in 2010. Then-Commissioner Bill Partington joined a 5-0 vote to adopt the more liberal St. Johns Water District rules, which allow urban wetlands to be destroyed if the developer will purchase mitigation acres for conservation in a distant, rural ecosystem.

As for Consolidated-Tomoka, in 2016, the land company paid a $187,500 fine to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency to resolve allegations that the company, over seven years, illegally dredged and filled 163 acres of wetlands west of I-95 and north of LPGA Boulevard. The EPA concluded Consolidated violated the federal Clean Water Act by altering and filling wetlands adjacent to tributaries of the Tomoka River. The wetland restoration cost was estimated at $1.7 to $1.9 million and Consolidated agreed to the fine with no admission of wrongdoing.

The commission now plans to sell Ormond water and sewer services to Avalon Park. The deal will require Ormond Beach to construct a second sewer plant and will enable high-impact development on our doorstep by a city that reneged on our last agreement.

Twenty years ago, I kept an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the laws of my city in voting against annexing the Consolidated-Tomoka land. I would cast the same “no” vote today.”

–Former Ormond Beach City Commissioner and Civic Activist Jeff Boyle, writing in the Ormond Beach Observer, Letters to the Editor, “Truth Retold,” Monday, October 17, 2022

Earlier this week – despite the serious concerns of residents still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian – the Ormond Beach City Commission approved by majority vote the controversial Tattersall at Tymber Creek project – described as a 129-home subdivision located on 84-acres at the northwest corner of Tymber Creek Road and Airport Road. 

On Tuesday, the first reading of the development order passed following five previous denials on a 3-2 vote with Mayor Bill Partington and Commissioner Troy Kent voting to deny the request.


The next time you find yourself sitting through three cycles of a traffic light on Granada Boulevard, ask yourself – if the roles of power were reversed – with the specter of Avalon Park, that gargantuan “City within a city” looming on the horizon, and numerous high-density sticks-and-glue apartment complexes already approved – would you rubberstamp another development in Ormond Beach?

Me neither.

Vote like your quality of life depends upon it.  Because it does.  

And Another Thing!

“Beach driving is one of Volusia County’s most distinct features. It’s also one of its most enduring controversies. Larry Arrington, who as Volusia County manager in the late 1990s oversaw the establishment of no-driving sections of the beach, died Oct. 5 at age 72 after an illness.”

–Reporter Mark Harper writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Larry Arrington, former Volusia County manager and consultant, dies at age 72,” Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Following his retirement from a life in public service, Larry Arrington understood the growing animus and “trust issues” facing local government when he admirably founded The Civitas Project, which he described as:

“The mission of The Civitas Project is to help create a sustainable, good society to the extent humanly possible. This is done by building civitas through quality initiatives including education, leadership development, conflict resolution, informed research and commentary, and well-designed and facilitated collaborative labs that bring people together to develop strategic consensus about responses to complex public problems.

Our main goal is to practice deliberative democracy and to promote balanced and informed public reason about the collective challenges we face. We seek to build moral and transformational leadership capacity and quality political institutions.”

Earlier this week, I found the project’s website has been abandoned – I assume because the lofty goals and principals Mr. Arrington envisioned are no longer “humanly possible” in this fetid slit trench that passes for “governance” in Volusia County. 

To be clear, I did not agree with what is now being touted as Mr. Arrington’s “biggest accomplishment” – the removal of vehicles from sections of Daytona Beach – something I still view as craven capitulation to what the Orlando Sentinel described at the time as, “…the ambitions of deep-pocketed developers and powerful business interests.”

Mr. Arrington pushed the removal of beach driving by labeling our long-standing local tradition as “dirty, dangerous, and damaging,” – then drummed up support for his “beach driving is bad for tourism” push by using the same marketing research firm that has received public funds to tell our policy makers what they want to hear for decades.

In my view, the campaign crafted by Mr. Arrington was complete bullshit – but it was supported by all the right last names – and served as effective camouflage for the real reason our movers-and-shakers wanted vehicles off Volusia County beaches. 

In reality, limiting beach driving and access was a well-orchestrated plan by a few influential insiders – some of whom long ago declared bankruptcy and fled the Daytona Beach Resort Area with a sack full of cash and broken dreams in their wake – to establish a de facto private beach for the Ocean Walk development, which was among the first “panacea projects” we were told would cure all our civic and social ills from malignant blight to head lice and pave the way for a “new Daytona Beach.”


I do. 

How has that worked out for us nearly 23-years on?

Well, much of the East ISB gateway still has the appearance of a stagnant third-world shithole (I know, I know, change is coming, just wait another year or two…), the long-neglected Main Street entertainment district hasn’t significantly changed in decades, and what remained of the iconic Daytona Beach Boardwalk will soon be leveled to make way for another “luxury” hotel.


Although we disagreed on beach driving, I admired Mr. Arrington’s efforts to establish The Civitas Project and his ardent promotion of contemplative deliberation by policymakers, inclusiveness, and citizen involvement in our democracy to foster a more “balanced and informed public reason about the collective challenges we face.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Arrington’s vision of moral and transformational leadership no longer has a place in Volusia County government – replaced by a politicized farse of a policymaking process – a dysfunctional shitshow – controlled by compromised sellouts incapable of compromise or consensus, an ongoing embarrassment to the residents of Volusia County and a cautionary tale for our more successful neighbors in Central Florida. 

Rather than live up the values and vision Mr. Arrington championed, it is increasingly evident that the raison d’être of Volusia County’s controlling Old Guard is to strategically procrastinate on the pressing issues of the day while a select few feed greedily on what remains of our natural places – then fight like rabid badgers to remain in power.

Rather than govern, these hacks now exist to kick the can down the dusty political trail – and block substantive discussion of the intractable issues we face – putting time and distance between meaningful public policies and commonsense regulations to allow maximum profit for those influential insiders who hold the paper on their political souls.

Now, Larry Arrington – a statesman, leader, and important voice for good governance – has been silenced too soon.

That’s all for me.  Have a great ‘Unsanctioned Truck Event’ weekend, y’all! 

Hard Lessons Learned.

Last week, the horribly conflicted Deltona City Commission held a sham “Special City Commission Meeting” during which they went through a time-wasting “process” of asking fourteen finalists for the interim city manager role a series of softball questions via Zoom ahead of an obviously orchestrated vote. 

Against all reason, controversial former Daytona Beach City Manager Jim “The Chiseler” Chisholm was tapped for the acting role on a typical 4-2 majority vote (Commissioner David Sosa was absent) putting one of the most polarizing political figures in Volusia County in charge of the most dysfunctional and wholly compromised local “government” in Florida. 

That low whirring you hear is Big John spinning in his urn. . . 

Despite my best instincts, I watched as much of the weird Kabuki as I could stomach. 

During my productive life, I served in positions of increasing responsibility in the long-established City of Holly Hill, a quaint slice of Old Florida on the banks of the beautiful Halifax River.  My long tenure included a stint as Interim City Manager following a tumultuous period of political upheaval.   

It’s a hard dollar. 

Although much smaller than the City of Deltona, the political pressures in a small town are often amplified, and dealing with the various factions, internal and external influences, and the challenges of an aging infrastructure made it both the best, and worst, assignment of my career. 

Although I had no formal training in public administration, through the years I worked for a series of chief executives whose leadership styles ranged from itinerant narcissistic nutjobs to the absolute best in the business – which meant I had a good idea what not to do. 

During my mercifully short appointment to the Cat Bird seat, I tried my best to calm the seas and return a sense of trust to citizens and staff after the bull left what remained of the china shop. 

With the help of a wonderful group of professionals and the support of our elected officials, I managed to keep the ship off the rocks until a replacement could be found, then I returned to my role as Chief of Police where I could at least fake a semblance of competency. . . 

As an uneducated bumpkin, what I know of leadership was gained from experiential learning, observing those skills, abilities, and personality characteristics I respected in others – dismissing their bad behaviors, faults, and foibles – then working hard to emulate those admirable traits as I clawed my way up the ladder to middle management (then hung on by my fingernails until retirement. . .)

Trust me. I made my share of mistakes – valuable lessons that served me well.

Unfortunately, the Deltona City Commission did not display any of those attributes I came to recognize as “good governance” during their cockamamie selection process last week. 

In fact, it felt like the appointment of Jim Chisholm was a foregone conclusion. . .

After years of internecine warfare, secretiveness, political chicanery, and “Us vs. Them” divisiveness that has plagued Deltona, in my view, the most pertinent question asked of the applicants was perhaps the simplest:

“As a newly appointed interim city manager of Deltona, what are some techniques you would employ to create an atmosphere of trust and unity within the city administration or government and the community?  What experience will you draw upon to assist you in the transition?”

Clearly, trust and unity are in short supply at Deltona City Hall – and it appears some of those on the dais of power are beginning to recognize that fact as the general election draws near.  

Hard lessons learned on both sides of Deltona’s Great Divide.   

Given Mr. Chisholm’s notorious lack of transparency and sycophantic deference to influential insiders in the City of Daytona Beach – I was convinced his well-publicized track record would be a dealbreaker once commissioners got passed the stilted “interviews,” performed due diligence, spoke to other elected and appointed officials in East Volusia, met with former rank-and-file employees, or reviewed open-source information regarding Chisholm’s often contentious reign.  

As I listened to the question repeated to each of the finalists, I thought:

“Surely Deltona’s elected officials have families, and, at some point, they had friends and enjoyed the trust of at least 51% of their district’s electorate.  On some level, they must understand the interpersonal dynamics of uniting their community and developing trust, right?”

Unfortunately, I was wrong in my stupid assumption.

My life is blessed with a small handful of dear friends – close intimates I have known and loved most of my life.

I maintain these important relationships by being trustworthy, keeping promises, being open, honest, and sensitive to their feelings, always present during times of crisis, being communicative, sharing, and open to constructive criticism, truly listening to their needs and concerns, being a cheerleader, celebrating accomplishments and sharing defeat – I have their back and trust they have mine – being respectful of their priorities, admitting mistakes and offering sincere apologies, and always striving to be loyal, forgiving, compassionate, and trusting with those I care about.

Over time, a mutual trust develops – the bond strengthens – and I know my efforts and feelings will be reciprocated in an authentic way.   

Through these enduring personal connections, I learned that when we put the needs of others ahead of our own self-interests, good things result as people respond in kind, giving their trust and respect when it is earned.   

In my view, the same characteristics that form the basis of close friendships work equally well in developing strong professional relationships – qualities that carryover to the administration of government – and help build organizational confidence during labor negotiations, management decisions, budget allocations, staff recruitment and retention, and assist in returning the public’s trust in their municipal government.      

Because the foundation of true servant leadership is putting the needs of others first – a selflessness that creates an inspirational workplace where people take pride in doing work worth doing – it improves essential service delivery, empowers a “people-first” atmosphere where excellence is valued, and breaks down internal and external barriers.

Perhaps most important, these principles help nurture an organizational culture where passionate professionals can debate differing ideas then try new and innovative strategies without fear of failure, reprisal, or political meddling.   

With many Deltona residents still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian and a municipal election less than a month away – it seemed suspiciously urgent that this iteration of the commission ramrod The Chiseler’s appointment – something that has added to the instability and left people much smarter than me asking what influential faction has set their sights on exploiting Deltona this time?

Time will tell.

Unfortunately, it looks like Deltona government has more hard lessons ahead. . .

Angels & Assholes for October 14, 2022

Hi, kids!

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               Volusia County Sheriff’s Office  

I cannot think of a greater calling – or responsibility – than protecting vulnerable children, teachers, and staff from unthinkable evil. 

Following the 2018 tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I repeatedly urged members of the Volusia County School Board to employ a recognized school protection specialist – an experienced professional with the tactical, technical, strategic, and administrative skills to plan for, staff, equip, train, and respond to active assailants on school campuses with the sole focus of neutralizing the threat and saving lives.

Instead, in February 2020, the School Board appointed controversial retired Sheriff’s Lieutenant Michelle Newman to serve as Director of Safety and Security – a post Newman held until just after classes began in August when she abruptly resigned and followed equally contentious former Volusia County School Superintendent Scott Fritz to the Early Learning Coalition of Central Florida where she is now listed as “Chief Operating Officer.” 


Rather than seek an experienced school security expert, following “Chief” Newman’s departure, Chastity Burke – a former Sheriff’s detective who has been with the district since last year – was tapped to fill what I believe is the most sensitive, responsible, and highly technical position in Volusia County.

Following the Robb Elementary massacre in Uvalde, Texas, school administrators around the nation began reassessing internal and external response protocols and the importance of strong leadership before, during, and after an active threat. 

On Tuesday, our school board rightfully voted to approve an Interlocal Agreement with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office which will appoint a sworn law enforcement executive – along with sufficient operational and administrative support – to take the lead in securing campuses, protecting students and staff, and address the rise in violent criminal activity in Volusia County Schools.

I applaud Sheriff Mike Chitwood for having the courage to wade into the namby-pamby fantasyland that passes for reality in the Ivory Tower of Power at Volusia County District Schools – a realm where at least one board member, Linda Cuthbert, seemed to view lifesaving security drills as an inconvenience and disruption – while the remainder of our elected officials came off as uncomfortably clueless to the stark realities of the safety and security function. 

Under the terms of the agreement, a senior member (Captain) of the Sheriff’s command staff will be appointed to coordinate with Superintendent Carmen Balgobin and her cabinet supported by a Lieutenant and Administrative Assistant.  

Now, a qualified law enforcement professional will oversee this vital role – with access to all resources of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office – and the authority to develop countywide emergency response protocols, standardize training, and improve coordination and preventive intelligence sharing between Guardians, School Resource Officers, and other agencies.      

During his presentation to the board, Sheriff Chitwood explained how having a VCSO commander embedded with the district’s administration will increase communications and the effectiveness of the long-anticipated Volusia County Juvenile Assessment Center. 

The JAC will screen juvenile offenders for a variety of threats and factors – to include mental health, family, and substance abuse issues – and will house a range of assessment and intervention services, to include officials from the Department of Juvenile Justice, Halifax Behavioral Services, SMA Healthcare, and social workers from Volusia County Schools.   

Kudos to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office for assuming this important responsibility in service to the students, teachers, and staff of Volusia County District Schools.    

Asshole           Deltona City Commission

“More controversy in Deltona this week. . .”

Volusia’s largest city descended further into civic chaos this week after what many consider a sham “process” brought controversial former Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm out of hibernation – selected as the city’s latest acting manager by a 4-2 majority vote of a horribly conflicted City Commission after nonsensical “interviews” with fourteen applicants.

You read that right.  Jim “The Chiseler” Chisholm will now serve as Deltona’s interim city manager.   

Last week, the obvious choice for the acting role – Deltona’s deputy city manager Stacey Kifolo – was conveniently “suspended with pay” after an apparent contretemps with current Acting City Manager/City Attorney Marsha Segal-George. 

Ms. Kifolo now joins former Interim City Manager John Peters on Deltona’s growing “getting paid for sitting on one’s ass” roster. 

On September 19, Peters was sent packing on a typical 4-3 vote when he submitted his resignation from the acting top spot with a request to return to his former role as Public Works Director.

During that marathon shitshow, a Pandora’s box of ugly issues came to light – including raw political friction, the power and influence of Deltona’s fire union (especially during an election year/contract negotiation), whale shit level morale, and a veiled reference to sealed ‘secret files’ apparently related to former Human Resources Director Richard Adams and his recently settled lawsuit alleging retaliation and discrimination by Mr. Peters.  

As an outsider looking in, to me, Ms. Segal-George always comes across as a discombobulated spectator – too busy fidgeting with her phone to get ahead of the gross dysfunction happening around her – a mental disengagement (or self-defense mechanism?) best exemplified by a recent controversy surrounding Mr. Peters’ unsigned employment agreement, which left Segal-George rewinding video of a past meeting in an attempt to determine the Commission’s “intent” – followed by another gaffe that called the legitimacy of her appointment to the interim role into question when Mayor Heidi Herzberg failed to call for a vote to extend her reign. 

Yeah.  I know. . .

This isn’t Marsha’s first rodeo. 

Ms. Segal-George has bounced around local governments in various roles for the past 40-years – including stints as manager in Lee County, Florida, and Ft. Meyers Beach – and she now serves with Fowler, O’Quinn, Feeney & Sneed, the firm who contracts legal services with Deltona. 

When Peters was effectively fired in September, City Attorney/Interim Manager Segal-George agreed to mind the switch for no more than two-weeks.  When that time expired, she was (apparently) magically anointed to remain in the role by a weird “silent consent” of the Commission – rather than a formal vote – that kept her in the wheelhouse until a poorly thought quizzing of potential victims, er, “interim candidates” could be held on Wednesday.

Jesus.  What a frigging mess.

According to a recent report by The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s intrepid Wild West Volusia reporter Katie Kustura, “…the city had received 15 applications for the role of interim city manager…”

Interestingly, during a September 26 meeting, Commissioner Anita Bradford mysteriously validated a rumor that had been swirling around Deltona like an unpleasant odor when she confirmed interest from the clairvoyant Jim Chisholm, who by then was already measuring the drapes in the city manager’s office. . . 

This week, residents and interested onlookers had access to the resumes of those vying for the interim position – and I was surprised (not really) to learn that Mr. Chisholm’s submission was dated September 13, 2022 – six-days before Mr. Peters was effectively terminated by the majority of the City Commission (and two-days before Peters announced his intent on the commission agenda. . .)


Look, Deltona has never been known as a beacon of openness and transparency – now many are speculating whether someone ‘in the know’ was talking out-of-school to Mr. Chisholm – or if Peters’ ouster was an orchestrated coup arranged in advance of the public meeting?       


For many, Deltona City Hall has become a cloistered fortress – a place where citizens and elected officials who find themselves outside the tightknit circle of trust are required to jump through hoops and pay exorbitant fees for simple public records requests – and civically active citizens have felony charges referred against them, their lives turned upside-down, for merely participating in their city government. 

Now, more shadowy internal “investigations” are in the works, more political intrigue afoot, more stealthy power-plays, deck stacking, and behind the scenes manipulation during the city’s caustic negotiations with its influential fire union – and questions about who wants to take advantage of the chaos and malleable majority to exploit Deltona next?

In my view, Mayor Herzberg now has the dubious distinction of presiding over the most dysfunctional and compromised local “government” in Central Florida – if not the entire State of Florida.

A shambolic trainwreck that desperately needs outside inquiry and oversight to protect the integrity of statutorily required processes, the stewardship and protection of public funds, and restoration of government in the sunshine as the distrust and frustration of Deltona residents continues to grow. 

Just don’t expect things to change under Mr. Chisholm’s administration.

In a March 2020 editorial reminiscing on Mr. Chisholm’s retirement, The Daytona Beach News-Journal said, in part:

“For all his accomplishments, Chisholm has drawn criticism for a close-to-the-vest decision-making style. While he has been sporadically available to the public — as when he appeared to answer questions recently at The News-Journal’s forum on the decay along East International Speedway Boulevard — his natural habitat is behind closed doors.

It’s an approach that has blindsided potential allies, cut off the city from benefits of wider partnerships and new information, and more often looks to outmaneuver rather than convert critics.

For the next phase of the city’s evolution to be successful, City Hall will need to be a more open place.”

Now, one of the most polarizing figures in Volusia County politics is at the helm of this desperately divided and vulnerable community.

To the good citizens of Deltona: Welcome from the frying pan into the fire. . .

Angel               Daytona Beach Shores Director of Public Safety Stephan Dembinsky

Last week, the grateful residents and officials of Daytona Beach Shores celebrated the honorable retirement of my friend and former colleague Director of Public Safety Stephan Dembinsky – a true professional who embodies the best attributes of a community-focused servant/leader – following his 25-years of exceptional service. 

Director Dembinsky was born in northern Canada and moved to South Florida when he was a teen.  He graduated from Florida International University 1977 and began his law enforcement career in Dade County, retiring as assistant chief of police for the City of North Miami Beach in 1998. 

He is a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy at Quantico, Virginia. 

Fortunately, Director Dembinsky continued his impressive service with the City of Daytona Beach Shores where he transformed the agency into a modern, fully accredited, public safety agency. 

In addition, Director Dembinsky provided his outstanding leadership at the state level serving as President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association.   

In a beautifully written article in The Daytona Beach News-Journal this week, reporter Patricio Balona explained how Director Dembinsky was instrumental in changing the culture of his highly respected agency through the implementation of written policies and the development of a “succession strategy” that prepared members of the agency for promotion within the department. 

With Director Dembinsky’s retirement, the very capable Mike Fowler will now lead the agency – a veteran public safety officer who has served in every operational and administrative role in the department during his long and honorable career with the Daytona Beach Shores Department of Public Safety. 

Congratulations and all best wishes to Director Dembinsky and his lovely wife Sandi on their well-deserved retirement!

Thanks.  We’re glad you passed our way. 

Quote of the Week

“Young children, infants, and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults,” the EPA states. “A dose of lead that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child.”

Low levels of lead in blood for children can result in behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia. Low exposure has also been linked to central and peripheral nervous system damage.

In adults, it can cause cardiovascular effects, decreased kidney function and reproductive problems.”

–Reporter Danielle Johnson, writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Volusia elementary school tests for high lead levels in water; extent of exposure unclear,” Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Late last month, the Volusia County School Board adopted an emergency declaration based upon a disturbing single page memorandum by the district’s Coordinator of Design and Construction Thomas Brown, which read:

RE:       Sugar Mill Elementary – Potable Water Lines

“After investigation, it has been determined that water at some fixtures have above normal levels of lead that exceed EPA permissible limits.  Due to suspected piping issues, water to these areas have been temporarily shut off.  This piping needs immediate replacement or relining to ensure that water being distributed is within required limits when restored.

In order to avoid potential health/safety issues, I am recommending that the Board declare an emergency and expedite the process of securing a contractor to perform the necessary work.  The estimated cost of the work at this time is $350,000.00.”

Equally disturbing was that the expenditure was couched on the Board’s consent agenda and approved without discussion.

On Tuesday, we learned in an informative article by News-Journal reporter Danielle Johnson that drinking water samples taken from various Volusia County schools earlier this year found lead levels which exceeded United States Environmental Protection Agency standards at more than twenty other schools throughout the district.

“Testing from Sugar Mill in April returned 13 samples over the action level. Spruce Creek High School also had 10 high samples from April. More than 20 other Volusia County schools have had one to five samples above the EPA action level during 2022.”

Damn.  If officials knew about the contamination in April, why are they just getting around to addressing this incredibly dangerous issue in September? 

And is this the first time water samples have been tested at Volusia County schools? 

I’m asking, because when I read the News-Journal’s report, the first thing that came to mind was the 2014 travesty in Flint, Michigan, where thousands of residents were exposed to lead contaminated drinking water following a change in the city’s water supply during a budget crunch. 

Flint’s public health crisis is still being felt – and several high-profile elected officials have been charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice, misconduct in office, and neglect of duty – in addition to scores of civil lawsuits.

According to studies, children are particularly at risk from the long-term effects of lead poisoning, which can include a reduction in intellectual functioning and IQ, and an increased chance of Alzheimer’s disease.

In my view, the Volusia County School Board’s typical ‘whistling past the graveyard’ response does not begin to address the potential health affects to some six hundred students and 130 teachers and staff at Sugar Mill Elementary – or the thousands of children and adults who may have been exposed at other schools identified during the investigation. 

And it damn sure does not explain how these unwitting victims will be cared for and compensated now that lead exposure has been confirmed and documented by independent testing.   

According to an asinine official comment provided to the News-Journal by the district’s communications department:

“When compared to other counties or school districts that have conducted similar testing, these samples are relatively low,” the statement said.”

My God. 

In other words, ‘We may be poisoning your kids, but when compared to other Florida counties and school districts, we’re poisoning them at a far slower rate. . .’ 

Take comfort in that.

Now is not the time for Volusia County District School’s patented strategy of responding to crisis situations with canned press releases and dodgy soundbites.

Not this time. 

In my view, parents, students, teachers, and staff affected by this startling revelation deserve hard answers – and a comprehensive plan to protect their health going forward.   

This one warrants your attention. . .

And Another Thing! 

“Disengaged Industry and Community:  . . .A very real current threat is the consistent indication of being uniformed and having no understanding of the effectiveness of current tourism initiatives. An aggressive and effective communication plan featuring understandable, measurable results is critical for the long-term support and success of tourism.  An additional theme in SAG’s meetings was the sense that it is going to be difficult to instill broad based confidence that is vital toward improved collaboration.”

“Product Deterioration: . . .Without resources – leadership and economic – the overall tourism experience in Volusia County will decline.  An overall collaborative strategy is needed.”

– “An analysis of Volusia County tourism marketing,” Strategic Advisory Group, (Final Report to the Volusia County Council – now moldering in a dusty records morgue in DeLand) issued April 8, 2013, at a cost of $100,000.

Almost a decade later, anyone see any substantive change in our tourism and marketing strategy based upon the incredibly expensive recommendations offered by the county’s consultant? 

Me neither.

With the “Daytona Beach Resort Area” locked in its perpetual identity crisis, like clockwork, on October 1 we got a fresh marketing slogan (and new advertising agency) and, once again, “rebranded” how we present ourselves to potential visitors around the globe. 

Doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting a different result is the textbook definition of insanity – and the entrenched policy of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority. 

Because I am an infernal optimist (or maybe a masochist who takes pleasure in having the rug pulled out from under me), I maintain perpetual hope that one day our hospitality guru’s will realize that “The World’s Most Famous Beach” is universally embraced as our signature slogan – one that has brought families to our area for generations

Maybe next year. . .

Now, the widely panned “Wide. Open. Fun.” has been replaced by the equally weird catchphrase “Beach on” (excuse me?) – the product of our newest tourism advocate, Tallahassee-based marketing firm The Zimmerman Agency – who took over from The Brandon Agency, the Myrtle Beach-based company whose contract expired September 30. 


Yeah.  I didn’t notice either – another lucrative contract cycle, another quirky marketing campaign adopted by those oddballs at the HAAA board. . .

In another hit to area tourism, this week the News-Journal reported the fate of longtime Daytona Beach Boardwalk concessionaires Dino Paspalakis and Lisa Psaros following a protracted 20-year legal battle with developer George Anderson and investors seeking to put a hotel complex on the site:

“A Volusia County Circuit Court judge has ordered the operators of Lisa’s Gift Shop and the Joyland arcade, two kitschy tourist draws that reach back to the days when Daytona Beach was a top destination for family vacations, to pack up and move out within 30 days.”

I guess that sounds the death knell for the iconic boardwalk attractions – the sounds, aromas, games, and confections – that locals and visitors have known for decades. 

Also, yesterday marked the official beginning of Biketoberfest 2022 – the 30th iteration of the annual rally that brings thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts and millions of dollars into our community each fall. 

With many homes and businesses still drying out in the horrible aftermath of Hurricane Ian – I have heard some grumbling if this is the right time to host hordes of bikers on our still soggy streets and roadways?

My response is to take a long swig of whiskey and groan, “What the hell else are we gonna do?”

The fact is, many of our neighbors are reliant on the revenue generated by these annual events to feed their families and it is important to the economic health of our region to put our best face forward and make hay while the sun shines in hopes the much-needed income will help those who were devastated by Ian’s floodwaters. 

On Wednesday, I was perched on a barstool at my favorite watering hole and was heartened to see so many early bird out-of-town bikers enjoying some wings and spending money around town.

Besides, our options are limited. . .   

Perhaps it is time we simply admit we are what we are – a slightly down-at-the-heels resort area, a past its prime beach town, totally reliant on a continuing cycle of boom/bust “special events” – doomed to repeat the sins and mistakes of the past as the smart money continues to ignore our downtrodden beachside for the promise of “New Daytona” along LPGA’s Boomtown Boulevard.

Then, let’s demand that our elected representatives finally do something to improve our tourism product – and our collective quality of life.

Keep the faith – and Beach on, y’all. . .

That’s all for me.  Here’s wishing everyone a happy, safe, and prosperous Biketoberfest!

Angels & Assholes for October 7, 2022

Hi, kids!

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               Hometown Heroes  

The courageous response of our law enforcement, fire, EMS, public works, emergency management personnel, and hundreds of volunteers to the catastrophic events of last week proves once again these lifesaving heroes represent the very best of us. 

In my view, Volusia County and the municipalities did a fantastic job of keeping residents safe and informed before, during, and after the storm.   

I am normally not complimentary of the Volusia County School Board, but during this “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, district officials made complex decisions under pressure and on the side of caution.

In the aftermath of any disaster there will be criticism of those making the tough calls, a perfectly natural reaction, and one that can lead to improvement if the right people have the capacity to put ego aside and listen

But what about those decision-makers that couldn’t be bothered to show up?

Last Friday morning with winds still raging, I received a message from a Barker’s View reader who was rightfully mad-as-a-hornet over tone-deaf Ormond Beach Vice Mayor Susan Persis, and her husband, Volusia County School Board member Carl Persis, actively posting their European vacation photographs on social media while their frightened constituents were weathering the howling onslaught of Hurricane Ian here at home.

What I found most cringeworthy was that Vice Mayor Persis doubled-down on her cluelessness by marking herself safe from Hurricane Ian – from Europe. . .


Yeah.  I know.   

In my view, some of our elected elite live in a weird parallel universe that has nothing in common with those who eke out a living here on what remains of the Fun Coast – a life of extraordinary social and political privilege that We, The Little People will never know – and that’s okay. 

But when you accept public funds to serve in the public interest and your constituents and community are under threat, we expect those we elect to be there for us. 

Anything less is unacceptable. 

From the vantagepoint of three decades in public service, it is a moral obligation – a willingness to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who are suffering – and demonstrate strong leadership when it is needed most.

In my view, the many elected officials throughout Volusia County who exemplified service above self under dangerous and difficult circumstances, joined with volunteers to help in recovery efforts, worked to feed hard-hit residents, and pushed information to constituents deserve our praise and respect.     

Meanwhile, our brave first responders and emergency management personnel were away from their families – living in austere conditions, working long hours, staffing emergency operations centers, assisting at shelters, filling sandbags, and bravely preparing to go in harm’s way and save lives when the relentless winds subsided. 

When the tragic extent of the storm’s wrath became evident, those brave men and women boldly ventured into flooded neighborhoods – repeatedly wading into the foul soup to physically carry victims to safety – willingly putting their own health and safety at risk to protect the lives of others.

Within hours of Ian moving offshore, power restoration crews fanned out across the region – linemen and electrical technicians from across the nation – working under dangerous conditions to return power to area homes and businesses while heavy equipment operators cleared debris to open blocked roadways.    

In addition, numerous area restaurants have donated meals to those in need.

Heroes all.

During times of calm, those who live under the blanket of safety and security these brave souls provide are often hyper-critical of those who serve and protect.     

In recent years, we have heard asinine calls to “defund the police,” and vocal criticism of the specialized equipment necessary to preserve life when the chips are down, such as high wheelbase former military vehicles that can safely enter flooded streets to access trapped residents.    

The fact is, if we paid these men and women their true worth, we couldn’t afford them.

Unfortunately, when the floodwaters recede and politicians return to the primping, preening, and self-promotion of an election year, I fear the uncommon heroism of these brave souls will be forgotten – leaving them to process the mental and physical impacts of the things they have done and observed while protecting others – even as their own families and property were at risk. 

With many leaving the police, fire, and EMS services for greener pastures, it is heartening to know that the best-of-the-best stayed – holding the line like generations before – true to the finest traditions of their service. 

In the military and law enforcement, there is a custom of decorating those brave men and women who perform with distinction under extraordinary circumstances – a grateful recognition of their bravery, service, and sacrifice. 

While these heroes do not put their lives on the line for ribbons; I believe we have an obligation to honor their conspicuous gallantry. 

If you are an elected or appointed official at any level of government, my sincere hope is that you will recognize the courage and commitment of those officers, firefighters, EMS personnel, emergency management personnel, utilities workers, equipment operators, public information professionals, support staff, volunteers and the other unsung heroes in your organization who responded when we needed them most.    

On behalf of a grateful Barker family – Thank you all.

Your courageous service and sacrifice under life-threatening conditions will never be forgotten

Angel               Dana McCool and Eric Raimundo  

I have a kinship with those who further a larger discussion of the issues in Volusia County and beyond.  Those bold few who express an authentic opinion, put themselves out there, and speak truth to power – whether we agree or disagree – especially in an environment where the rods and strings of public policy are manipulated by very influential insiders with a profit motive.

Because the vigorous exercise of our First Amendment right is vitally important to the cause of democracy. 

I realize my neighbors don’t need to hear more of my bloviating and bullshit – but we desperately need more avenues for community dialog in a place where our newspaper of record is now unrecognizable.

In my view, a greater conversation of the issues is critical at a time when politics has dissolved into “Us vs. Them” partisan warfare – each side retreating further into their respective echo chambers – and I am blessed to have friends who I disagree with politically but can count on for a spirited and good-natured debate. 

That’s how I learn.

Recently, Deltona City Commissioner and longtime civic activist Dana McCool – a left-leaning Democrat – joined forces with Republican and longtime Tallahassee hand Eric Raimundo to produce The Smoking Truth podcast, two strong personalities with diverse opinions who find common ground over good cigars.   

Before Ian, I had the pleasure of spending time with Dana and Eric at Mike & Mike Productions – a professional sound studio located downstairs of The Cigar Hustler – a phenomenal cigar and craft beer lounge in Deltona, Florida. 

I appreciate their hospitality. 

If I am ever invited to your home or business, I will arrive self-contained in a cloud of cigarette smoke – complete with a designated driver and my “travel bar” – which always includes a fine whiskey, a couple of beers, Topo Chico, a bag of fresh ice, limes, my trusty Zippo, and a pack of Marlboros – all the ephemera and security blankets I need when away from homebase.   

During our fast-paced episode, my hosts more than accommodated my eccentricities and I felt right at home, sipping Power’s Irish Whiskey while talking issues in comfortable surroundings with these two very smart people.

Trust me.  Dana and Eric do not disappoint. 

Past episodes are available and include lively discussions with great personalities like Sheriff Mike Chitwood, Daytona Beach City Commissioner Stacey Cantu, Congressional Candidate Joe Hannoush, and others. 

I hope you will tune in here:

Quote of the Week

“Bryan Collyer of Crunch Construction said a lot of people were trying to figure out what to do with the 121 E. Granada Blvd. site. The solution came as he drove past and thought about the city’s goal to add residential downtown.

“If we can’t go around it, let’s go over it,” Mr. Collyer said. “Let’s put a condo on it.”

William Chapin, architect for the proposed six-story condominium, said the design is a unique mix of styles to solve the problems posed by the site.

“We came up with really what amounts to two buildings, one on the north end, which faces the golf course (Oceanside Country Club) and one on the south end which is right on Granada (Boulevard),” Mr. Chapin said.”

–Reporter John Bozzo writing in Hometown News Volusia, “Condo planned for ‘challenging’ site in Ormond Beach,” Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The vacant lot at 121 East Granada Boulevard in Ormond Beach – a 100’ by 350’ sliver of land that once held the defunct JC’s Lobster Pot and is now home to a Florida Power & Light utility vault – is slated to become a two building six-story condominium complex shoehorned between an office strip center and a Starbucks drive-thru. 

You read that right.

With the scarcity of available greenspace, many communities throughout the nation are embracing the concept of “pocket parks” – publicly accessible spaces that turn small or irregular shaped lots into a place of refuge and relaxation that softens the urban landscape, increases walkability and value, while providing character to the community. 

But not here. 

In Ormond Beach, rather than consider innovative environmentally friendly alternatives to increased density and impact, our sitting officials allow developers to “put a condo on it.”   

According to the report, meetings to allow public input on the future of the land have not been scheduled – although Ormond Beach Planning Director Stephen Spraker told Hometown News the “project is under review.”

Hey John Q.: 

In Ormond Beach, so long as this current crop of developer shills are in control, your thoughts on the future of your community will always be an afterthought.


In my view, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, city planners and the elected officials who provide direction should reevaluate when, where, and why we develop – moving away from the build at all cost strategy of increasing density and filling every available open space.

When will we get beyond the notion that a few well-heeled developers should get fat while those malleable politicians they control piss away our quality of life for another campaign donation?   

And Another Thing!

I have been accused by a few defenders of Volusia County’s status quo of politicizing the effects of Hurricane Ian – “…playing politics and blaming developers for a natural disaster.” 

Damn right I am. 

With five of our neighbors confirmed dead and preliminary damage estimates now topping $156 million in Volusia County, on Tuesday, the spineless Gang of Four – Volusia County Councilmembers Ben Johnson, Danny Robins, Billie Wheeler, and The Very Revered “Dr.” Fred Lowry – were joined by Councilwoman Barb Girtman in blocking a courageous push by Chair Jeff Brower and Councilwoman Heather Post for discussion of a temporary moratorium on future growth and development.

Rather than perform their sworn duty and act decisively, the Gang of Four opted to wait for an unwieldy 14-member Environment and Natural Resources Advisory Committee to debate the obvious while putting more time and distance between this devastation and reasonable growth management initiatives. 

With thousands of Volusia County residents still impacted by persistent floodwaters, millions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses, our coastal dunes destroyed, and sections of area roadways compromised by erosion and standing water, experts agree that paving over natural buffers and wetlands significantly contributed to the horrific damage seen across the breadth of Central Florida. 

Now that Florida’s insurance apparatus is insolvent – with homeowners bracing for astronomical increases in the cost of coverage (if they can get it) – many responsible local governments are actively discussing limiting future growth until existing infrastructure and mitigation initiatives can be discussed. 

But not in Volusia County.

Look, it doesn’t take an environmental engineer to see that artificially changing the topography of the land, filling wetlands in an asinine “help here/hurt there” mitigation strategy, raising the elevation of massive developments, and paving over recharge areas with impervious surfaces that increase the speed and volume of stormwater runoff without adequate retention or utilities infrastructure is a calculated gamble that increases profits for real estate developers while leaving new and existing residents vulnerable to catastrophic flooding.

Guess who lost that bet? 

Rather than accept the fact their failed “cram ten-pounds of shit in a five-pound bag” growth management strategy bit them on the ass when Mother Nature demonstrated the fragility of our inadequate infrastructure – these sycophantic marionettes revert to their worst instincts and remain beholden to their well-heeled political benefactors – running interference and quashing any reasonable effort to stop the spread until commonsense low-impact development initiatives and infrastructure improvements can be implemented.

My God.

Inconceivably, with many of their constituents still suffering, these craven tools stood firm with their “Rich & Powerful” overlords in the real estate development community and (per usual) opted to kick the can down the eroded and debris-strewn road – diverting and procrastinating, falling back on another meaningless political insulation committee to do their thinking for them.

This week, “Mad Mike” Panaggio – the raving social media maven of that secret Camera Stellata over at the CEO Business Alliance – has taken to Facebook with another of his rambling grammatical nightmares to blame We, The Little People for our own victimization – once again lecturing in his condescending way that we should have stood aside while he and his cronies ramrodded a sales tax increase down our throats:

“Again Brower and Barker are playing politics and blaming developers for a natural disaster. Hate to tell you but our county needs better storm water systems. Jeff has had two years to get something done. However it’s easier to blame others for not allowing him to lead. Jeff leadership is not based on your business card it’s earned.

Success is a choice and it’s time to get along and get something done. If you notice where the biggest problems occurred it was not at Margaritaville. It was in Holly Hill and South Daytona where storm water systems are badly in need of upgrades. New construction fared pretty well.

The measly half cent sales tax increase promised upgraded roads and storm water improvements. 30% of the tax being paid by non residents. But no Jeff and his gang of discontents said we don’t believe we need to pay that extra 50.00 a year for these much needed services.

Well we are paying.

Look this was an unavoidable disaster. It was natural not created by the bogeyman or developers. Let’s stop overdevelopment. Let’s elect people that can lead. By suggesting a total moratorium is just cowardly. The County will continue to grow. Let’s find leaders that have some brains and can lead us when things get tough.”

In his patented “blame the victim” strategy, once again Mad Mike trots out his panacea – a “…measly half cent sales tax increase” – while conveniently ignoring the “trust issue” and gross political cowardice that continues to plague Volusia County government – always sidestepping the fact that, for years, taxpayers have watched helplessly while these same compromised shills showered public funds on private interests with a profit motive and intentionally suppressed impact fees while ignoring our transportation and utility needs. 

And I’m politicizing a natural disaster? 


As these stalwarts of the stagnant status quo watch the chances of their pro-development candidates (funded by the same influential insiders that brought us the current crop of malleable do-nothings) swirl down the storm drain (literally), they are scrambling to deflect blame for the obvious.  

It’s not working.

In my view, a month before election day, Volusia County voters have come to the hard-earned realization that the political cowardice, strategic foot-dragging, rubber-stamped zoning changes, and abject obstructionism must end – and this collective demand for a responsive government of the people, by the people, and for the people is going through Volusia’s Old Guard like an ice water enema.

I’ve said it before – vote like your quality of life depends upon it.

Because it does.  

That’s all for me.  Have a great weekend, y’all!

The Consequences of Political Cowardice

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, it is becoming increasingly clear that this natural disaster was turned into a catastrophe by base political cowardice. 

With at least five of our neighbors dead and preliminary damage estimates pushing $131 million in Volusia County, on Tuesday, the spineless Gang of Four – Volusia County Councilmembers Ben Johnson, Danny Robins, Billie Wheeler, and The Very Revered “Dr.” Fred Lowry – were joined by Councilwoman Barb Girtman in blocking a courageous push by Chair Jeff Brower and Councilwoman Heather Post for consideration of a temporary moratorium on future growth and development.

Instead, these craven tools stood firm for their “Rich & Powerful” overlords in the real estate development community and (per usual) opted to kick the can down the eroded and debris-strewn road – once again, falling back on another meaningless political insulation committee to do their thinking for them.

My God.

Secreted on the Council’s “consent agenda,” was the rubber stamp of the final plat of eighteen townhomes and three single family lots as requested by our High Panjandrum of Political Power, Mori Hosseini, at his oceanfront Verona subdivision just west of A-1-A in Ormond-by-the-Sea.

To his credit, with contaminated water still standing in many homes throughout Volusia County, Chair Jeff Brower suggested a conscientious pause on new development until decisions can be made on growth management and flood control.   

After our Growth and Resource Mismanagement Director Clay Ervin explained to our elected dullards that lockstep approval of the Verona plat was a formality required by state law (?) – a forced “Yes” vote under an unspoken threat of a potential lawsuit – The Very Reverend “Dr.” Lowry tut-tutted that he didn’t want to be “unfair” to the developer before moving to approve the request.  

Unfair?  A mere tap of the brakes to discuss the issues we collectively face is “unfair”?


With people’s lives at stake? 

With residents of Lowry’s own district having food delivered by airboat?   


In a valiant (if futile) effort to advance the conversation, Councilwoman Post moved to discuss a potential moratorium on future development at their next meeting.


The only sound emanating from the dais were the squeaks of the clenched assholes of those compromised shills who have, for years, accepted massive campaign contributions from developers, as they nervously gnawed the Naugahyde from the seats of their wingback chairs. . . 

Of course, Ms. Post’s motion died for lack of a second. 

The mere suggestion went through the craven Gang of Four like an ice water enema. 

According to an excellent report by Senior Editor Jarleene Almenas writing in the Ormond Beach Observer, “Her (Post’s) motion, despite pleas from Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower to give them an opportunity to discuss this, died for lack of a second.

The remainder of the council felt that this was an issue they should first hear from the recently formed Environment and Natural Resources Advisory Committee.”

In keeping with his role as the Old Guard’s Chief Deflector and Procrastinator – the now wholly compromised Councilman Ben Johnson covered the bright yellow stripe down his back using the current iteration of the Environmental and Natural Resources Advisory Committee – crowing that even discussing a moratorium would be “usurping” the committee’s authority (only the committee doesn’t have any “authority.”)

See how the game is played, folks? 

There will always be one more roadblock, one more postponement, one more study, one more expensive consultant, one more hoop to jump through, one more bullshit “committee” to hear from, one more nonsensical reason why doing the right and honorable thing is prohibited by state law, one more motion that dies for lack of a second – and years pass as the bulldozers roar without any substantive movement on the most pressing issues of our time: Malignant sprawl, environmental destruction, and overdevelopment.

With thousands of Volusia County residents displaced due to persistent floodwaters, millions in damage to homes and businesses, and experts in agreement that paving over the natural buffers and wetlands has significantly contributed to the horrific flood damage and deaths seen across the breadth of Central Florida – these sycophantic marionettes remain beholden to their well-heeled political benefactors – running interference and quashing any reasonable effort to stop the spread until commonsense low-impact development initiatives can be implemented.

In my experience, these sellouts have repeatedly proven – in both word and deed – that they don’t give two-shits what We, The Little People have to say. 

In my view, with so many of their neighbors suffering, those recent political appointees to the advisory committee should resign – en masse – and tell our gutless elected officials to own their dirty work and foot-dragging.


Because with fetid piles of trash, standing water with the rotting carcasses of wild hogs floating in the swollen swales, and vegetative debris lining residential streets, it is disingenuous to trot out an unwieldy 14-member committee to put more time and distance between this death and destruction and the profit motives of influential insiders who have controlled Volusia County government for far too long.  

In my view, this is the textbook example of a morally corrupt and dysfunctional system – and the Gang of Four’s political legacies will forever be tainted with a whiff of the shit.   

How do these shameless assholes sleep at night? 

My hope is that those incumbents standing for reelection feel the consequences of their abject cowardice at the polls next month.

Don’t take my word for it.  Watch the archived video of Tuesday’s meeting – then vote like your children and grandchildren’s quality of life depends upon it. 

Because it does.

Too Soon or Too Late?

“What this is basically showing us is that developers, if there’s money to be made, they will develop it,” said Stephen Strader, an associate professor at Villanova University who studies the societal forces behind disasters. “You have a natural wetland marsh … the primary function of those regions is to protect the inland areas from things like storm surge. You’re building on top of it, you’re replacing it with subdivisions and homes. What do we expect to see?”

–Dr. Stephen Strader, as quoted by Jake Bittle writing in Grist, “Hurricane Ian was a powerful storm. Real estate developers made it a catastrophe,” September 30, 2022

What?  Too soon?

Screw that.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, many believe it is too late.

Floridians can’t say we weren’t warned. 

For decades, Florida environmentalists have sounded the klaxon on natural hazard vulnerability and overdevelopment in a place where greed knows no boundaries, nothing is sacred, and the only thing that matters is profit.

In turn, our elected dullards and those uber-wealthy insiders who own the paper on their political souls, have marginalized those voices of reason – flippantly dismissing concerns while facilitating explosive development across the width and breadth of this sensitive spit of sand – even concocting non-sensical laws in Tallahassee that give large tract land owners/speculative developers carte blanche (while providing political insulation to local elected officials) to do anything they damn well want – wherever they feel like doing it.

Even if it means slash-and-burn clear-cutting, artificially changing the topography of the land, threatening our finite supply of clean water, or drowning their neighbor.

In the fallout of Ian, horror stories are beginning to emerge of entire neighborhoods inundated with water after wetlands were filled under an idiotic “hurt here/help there” mitigation strategy – and existing residents saw the runoff from nearby new development sitting atop what was once our aquifer recharge areas – while underwater residents of Midtown continue to suffer from years of neglect when civic attention turned to “New Daytona” west of I-95. . .  

Now that our worst fears have been realized – with thousands of our neighbors sitting in the dark, their homes, cars, and worldly belongings ruined by standing floodwater, the death toll rising, and thousands across Central Florida left homeless – perhaps it is time we reevaluate our priorities in the Sunshine State?

Politicians tell us that some 1,100 new residents move to Florida everyday – therefore, existing residents are told we have some cockamamie obligation to squeeze-in and make room – sacrifice our quality of life (and our very lives) to accommodate the asinine “build it and they will come” mentality that continues to pave over our wetlands, wildlife habitat, and natural buffers.  


So that some fat cat real estate developer can buy another vacation home in North Carolina or Snowmass?   

In my view, Hurricane Ian should be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

Now that the results are undeniable, more development in areas where fill is required – or allowing multi-story buildings east of A-1-A where coastal erosion is already threatening existing structures – isn’t just risky, it should be criminal.     

Mother Nature has exposed the fallacy we have been fed – stripped away the cheap façade – countered the political rhetoric of those cheap tools who accept thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from developers – then look us in the eye, shrug their shoulders, and tell us “Nuttin’ we can do, hands are tied – If you’re not growing, you’re dying!” – while dragging their leaden feet on reasonable low-impact development strategies, wildlife protections, and impact fee increases. 


With the core of our state in tatters and our insurance apparatus insolvent – who will stand up and accept responsibility for the cowardly chain of events that led to one of the most expensive catastrophes in the history of the world?   

Nobody.  That’s who.

With elections approaching, the federal government will print more money (during the worst economy in years) and shower cash on the state of Florida.  What is not gobbled up by recovery contractors, misspent by local governments, (or outright stolen) will trickledown to those who need it. 

But it will take time.

The ugly fact is, most victims will be left to hire bloodsucking lawyers to haggle with what remains of their parasitic insurance company who will lowball them, quibble claims, and dodge responsibility for years

And we’re all victims. . .

My hope is that the November elections come before “Disaster Amnesia” returns – before the glossy mailers convince us to doubt what we see with our own eyes – before we forget the fear and trepidation many of our neighbors’ felt as the floodwaters continued to rise.   

Santayana was right – “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”