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.
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.