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.”

6 thoughts on “A Deafening Silence

  1. Of course, “obstructionist majority” is also known simply as “majority,” which of course is what should be in charge of any actual democratic republican institution in our system of government.


  2. Unless there is something illegal or unconstitutional being done by an institution, it most certainly has not “lost its legitimacy as a governing body.” Just because literally ANY particular individual doesn’t like it does not mean “legitimacy” (meaning “legal right to be” of course) has ceased to exist for any governing institution. That’s not the way America works.


  3. It would do well for the voting public at large to know and understand the old saw, “he who has the money makes the rules.” It’s always been true, will always be true, and if one wants to ever be effective in politics they most certainly either have to have (unlimited) funding of their own or be in the pocket of those that do.


  4. I usually comment on school issues (Cuthbert’s inability to hold anyone accountable makes it so easy to gripe!) so I really just want to ask a question about this… If toilet to tap is a state controlled issue, why focus our energy on county leaders who will have no say, and not where it belongs, with our state reps and governor to answer? Shouldn’t we be talking to them about where they stand on it? Leek, Wright, Renner, Tramont…where do you stand since it looks like you will have the final call…and yes, they are all on the ballot also!!!


  5. I love this blog.I was in Aruba 25 years ago with my wife and Aruba is surrounded by water like us and had the best tasting water from a desalinization plant.We should have started this decades ago.I am not a fan of builders but on 60 minutes they had a story about a man named Kitson who bought tens of thousands of acres 15 miles east of Ft Myers who is going to build 50 thousand homes.They have 5000 homes up and no damage but trees from the hurricane and building the biggest solar farm.The homes are concrete.This is the future .Lets not rehash lets move on and make this the best state.It can be done.Lets rebuild Daytona Beach.We need to think ahead.


  6. I bet Party Line Democrat Mayor Derrick Henry is beside himself as he cannot ride the publicity of a Charlie Christ for Governor. Lord knows when Derrick was backing ANDREW Gillum he made incendiary comments about DeSantis!
    But with his Democrat comrade CHRIST being the one who removed him from office for egregious voter fraud I guess he will just have to 🙈 hide.

    Oh the Government is Laughable
    So I laugh at it!🤡s


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