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.”
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.
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: https://tinyurl.com/4jtaapbf
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.
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: https://tinyurl.com/3txw5s39
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend and Happy Halloween, y’all!