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 Voters
In every political contest there is courage and cowardice, honor, and ignominy – and in Volusia County – some very important people spend incredible sums of money each election season to ensure their hand-picked candidates for public office prevail.
Unfortunately, that pattern of stuffing the war chests of select sock puppets with artificially high contributions continued unabated this year.
Now, many voters are asking:
Do these massive expenditures represent a campaign contribution, or an investment?
Given the strange state of affairs on the Volusia County Council, it is a legitimate question – and the answer is increasingly obvious.
To We, The Little People on the outside looking in, it appears this pay-to-play system places intense pressure on the beneficiaries of this well-connected largesse to win at all costs – then do that which they were hired to do – and serve the wants, whims, and profit motives of those who own the paper on their political souls.
Is there another answer?
If I sound cynical – that’s because I am. . .
Elections stir strong emotions because the outcomes have profound consequences on our lives and livelihoods, and these contests bring out the best – and worst – in candidates and their camps.
As a result, many see our local democratic process as a blood sport – a pitched battle between good and evil – an arduous and polarizing exercise pitting neighbor against neighbor, fueled by hyper-partisan rhetoric, outright lies, and dark money infusions from shadowy ‘political action committees,’ open warfare marked by scorched earth tactics designed to annihilate one’s opponent through the ruthless politics of personal destruction, rather than championing innovative solutions.
Unfortunately, that divisiveness and acrimony now carry over to the dais of power once the victors assume high office – and absolutely nothing of substance is accomplished – beyond more obstruction, bickering, and procrastination.
Gone is the time when local elections focused on the competition of ideas and well-thought platforms served as a showcase for a candidate’s unique vision for the future – a demarcation between what is and what could be.
This cut-throat chicanery is turning more voters away from the polls as apathetic citizens throw up their hands and adopt the late great P. J. O’rourke’s philosophy:
“Don’t vote – It just encourages the bastards…”
As election day approaches, I have spoken to several well-respected civic activists – good citizens who have devoted themselves to serving others, protecting our environment, and bettering our quality of life in Volusia County and beyond – who have vowed to leave the public arena if certain candidates are elected, and the stagnant status quo prevails.
Others lament the fact that we have entered an era where the best we can hope for is to replace one robotic lockstep voting bloc with another – and to hell with old-fashioned notions of deliberation, compromise, and collegiality.
I get it. It is tiresome – and tempting as hell to throw up one’s hands and say to hell with it – and the palpable weariness and frustration of many civically active residents saddens me.
Keep the faith.
Fostering substantive change – building an inclusive representative democracy on both sides of the Palmetto Curtain that values the input of all residents and works toward a system of good governance based upon collaborative policymaking and the thoughtful stewardship of public resources is a marathon, not a sprint.
An admirable work-in-progress that transcends any one race, ideology, or political season.
Being an active and involved citizen means accepting political victory and defeat – then persevering – never losing sight of that which is important, just, and fair – never forgetting that, irrespective of our status or political persuasion, we are all in this together.
At least we should be.
Thank for taking the time to educate yourself on the issues – and for casting your sacred vote.
Regardless of Tuesday’s outcome – I hope everyone continues the good fight to return a government of the people, by the people, and for the people to Volusia County.
Asshole Deltona City Commission
“The pending contract for Chisholm’s services as Deltona’s temporary manager awaits ratification by the Deltona City Commission. When the City Commission approved the tentative appointment of Chisholm to the post Oct. 12, the elected body named City Commissioner Dana McCool as its negotiator with Chisholm. McCool declined to give specifics about the draft contract, saying only that the agreement will be released later this week.
“Yes, a salary was negotiated,” she told The Beacon. “He didn’t get the salary he asked for.”
For comparison, former Acting City Manager John Peters received an annual salary of $165,000. Deltona’s last permanent manager, Jane Shang, was paid a salary of $175,000 per year.
McCool also said Chisholm will receive no deferred compensation, sometimes called “a golden parachute.”
“Absolutely not,” she added.”
–Deltona City Commissioner Dana McCool as quoted by The West Volusia Beacon, “Deltona reaches tentative pact for temporary chief,” Monday, October 31, 2022
Last month, against all reason, controversial former Daytona Beach City Manager Jim “The Chiseler” Chisholm was brought out of hibernation to assume the acting role in Deltona on a 4-2 majority vote (Commissioner David Sosa was absent) with Commissioner’s McCool and Loren King rightfully voting against.
The vote – which felt like a foregone conclusion by a terribly fractured City Commission – placed one of the most polarizing political figures in Volusia County in charge of the most dysfunctional local “government” in Florida.
Then, the good citizens of Deltona waited to see how much this latest crap shoot would cost them, and Commissioner McCool was tapped to look out for their interests during the city’s contract negotiations with The Chiseler.
Late this week, Deltona taxpayers learned that a tentative agreement has been reached which will have Mr. Chisholm (and his wife) farting through silk for the foreseeable future.
The incredibly lucrative package includes:
Compensation of $87,400 for each six-month term, paid in equal weekly payments of $3,361.54, (that’s $174,800 a year – equal to former full-time City Manager Jane Shang – and about $10,000 more than John Peters received for the same work), along with top-shelf perquisites that include full health, dental, and vision coverage for Chisholm and his wife – publicly funded private pension contributions – and a vehicle, paid for by the citizens of Deltona, which includes insurance, maintenance, repair, and fuel expenses with no restriction on personal use. . .
The Chiseler’s employment agreement will be voted on by the City Commission on Monday evening.
I found it interesting that Mr. Chisholm took the helm of that crippled ship of fools that is Deltona City Hall without having a formal employment agreement in place.
Interesting. But not surprising.
In my view, there is a reason Jim Chisholm (and those external forces that influence the city’s elected officials) set his sights on Deltona – and I don’t think it has anything to do with “helping out” during the community’s latest tumultuous transition – and everything to do with some mysterious opportunist(s) who wants to take advantage of a bad situation in Wild West Volusia.
I could be wrong.
But based on Mr. Chisholm’s readily available history, I don’t think so. . .
If you live or do business in the City of Deltona, let me leave you with a parable:
“There once was a tender-hearted woman who rescued a poor, half-frozen snake from near death in the winter cold. “Take me in, oh tender woman,” the snake cries out. “Take me in, for heaven’s sake.”
So, the tender-hearted woman takes the snake into her own home, warms it by the fire and feeds it milk and honey: “If I hadn’t brought you in, by now you might have died.” But instead of saying thanks, the snake gave her a vicious bite.
“I saved you,” cried the woman. “And you’ve bitten me, but why? You know your bite is poisonous, and now I’m going to die.” “Oh, shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin. “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”
Don’t say you weren’t warned. . .
Angel City of New Smyrna Beach
On Monday, the City of New Smyrna Beach’s Planning and Zoning Board will meet to discuss a temporary moratorium on land use rezonings, including Master Plan amendments, site plan approvals, plats, and variances on residential subdivisions of ten acres or more.
The measure is being taken in the wake (literally) of Hurricane Ian’s floodwaters as planners seek time to study whether existing land use regulations are appropriate, “…or whether improvements should be made to the Land Development Regulations and/or the Code of Ordinances should be revised relating to the regulation of stormwater management and drainage or floodplain management…”
I think anyone who spent the last three-weeks ripping moldering drywall out of what was once their living room already knows the answer to that question. . .
If the ordinance is approved by the City Commission, the moratorium would remain in effect until February 23, 2023.
For decades, Florida environmentalists have sounded the klaxon on overdevelopment’s effect on natural hazard vulnerability in a place where greed knows no boundaries, nothing is sacred, and the only thing that matters is money – and we are now reaping the whirlwind of this growth-at-all-cost strategy that has drastically changed the topography of the land and paved over the natural recharge areas and wetlands that protect inland areas from storm surge and flooding.
Recently, the regressive Volusia County Council voted on a formal policy that forbids this cowardly iteration of the elective body from even discussing the idea of protecting the quantity and quality of our drinking water supply – choosing instead to protect the greed-crazed profit motives of well-heeled insiders in the development industry over the health and safety of our children and grandchildren.
Why is that?
Look, I am not “anti-development” – but like most thinking people, I am against a continuation of this shove ten-pounds of shit into a five-pound bag strategy that has allowed malignant growth to far outpace our aging and inadequate transportation and utilities infrastructure.
Unlike certain sitting politicians who kowtow to their political benefactors using the “property rights” argument – speculative developers have no more right to flood neighboring properties than I have a right to build an industrial waste incinerator in my backyard.
That is why we have land use, engineering, and zoning requirements.
As I have crowed, ad nauseam – Mother Nature has now 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!”
All while dragging their leaden feet on reasonable low-impact development strategies, environmental protections, and impact fee increases.
While some cynics believe building moratoriums like that proposed by New Smyrna Beach are mere political insulators for vulnerable incumbents who fear their constituents are preparing to clap back on the wholesale rubberstamping of more, more, more development – in my view, this tap of the brakes represents a common-sense approach to determining the effects of massive growth on flooding and our environment – and how we can better plan to protect existing residents.
Quote of the Week
“My job is to get entitlements,” Jay Livingston, the Palm Coast attorney representing the developer, said today in response to a question about rising interest rates’ effect on the project. “The guys that ultimately figure out how to build things are concerned with that. If it becomes a reality, a long term reality, we’re going to have to to learn how to live with it. We can’t stop building houses.”
–Land Use Attorney Jay Livingston as quoted by FlaglerLive!, “Developer Planning 750-Home Subdivision, One of Palm Coast’s Largest, at SR100 and Old Kings Road,” Wednesday, October 26, 2022
According to the FlaglerLive! report, current plans for the massive development known as Coquina Shores call for minimum lot sizes of 40 feet wide on 4,800 square-foot lots and homes of 1,200 square feet – with side-yard setbacks of just five feet.
All regular traffic from the development will be channeled onto SR-100. . .
And Another Thing!
When it comes to Volusia County government, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This morning, The Daytona Beach News-Journal is running a front-page/above the fold story headlined, “Abuse of Volusia jail inmates alleged,” – an investigative expose by Frank Fernandez with disturbing details alleging that inmates have been physically beaten – and evidence that the one person who tried to stop it, Corrections Director Mark Flowers, is now being retaliated against for blowing the whistle.
Damn. Not pretty.
Sounds like County Manager George “The Wreck” Recktenwald has some explaining to do, eh?
Let’s take a look at what else happened (or didn’t happen) in the cloistered Halls of Power in Deland this week:
On Tuesday, the Volusia County Council was visited by what must have been the entire Orthodox Jewish community of West Volusia who approached those elected dullards on the dais of power and very respectfully asked for their help with a chronic nuisance in their neighborhood.
One by one, the concerned citizens spoke of their love for the safety and solitude they found in West Volusia after moving from New York City.
Each speaker explained how happy they were with their new home, how different the tranquility of Deleon Springs is from the challenges of living and working in big city chaos, and of their significant contributions to the local economy through business interests, educational pursuits, and real estate acquisitions.
Since the community relocated here, a bar has been allowed to open along US-17 abutting their rural residential area.
They described the cacophony of music and raucousness inherent to a busy night club (especially one with an outdoor bandstand) that has brought persistent noise, trash, and other nuisance conditions which has had a detrimental impact on the community’s quality of life.
In short, it was a typical noise complaint – obviously long-simmering – a problem common when commercial areas closely interface with residential neighborhoods.
As members of the community repeated their collective concerns, the councilmember’s sat taciturn and motionless, gazing down from their monarchical perch like straw-stuffed scarecrows.
When the group was finished voicing their concerns, our elected officials sat slack-jawed – physiologically incapable of addressing a matter of community concern – struck mute by a pathological need to ignore their constituents and avoid even the appearance of an open, responsive, and representative elective body.
What must this group of obviously well-intentioned citizens have thought when their sincere entreaty was effectively ignored by the one group they put their faith in?
Rather than offer a brief explanation of the code enforcement process – or simply acknowledge their constituents concerns – the Volusia County Council maintained lockstep conformity with their asinine diktat of refusing to interact with taxpayers, sidestepping any direct communication with those who elected them, even when addressing a run-of-the-mill code enforcement issue in chambers would take far less time than turning it over to the bureaucracy.
In fact, after an awkward back-and-forth between our elected elite on why they cannot speak directly to citizens, County Attorney Mike Dyer explained that someone would contact a representative for the group and explain how they can contact someone else so a formal noise complaint can be filed.
Then the matter can be investigated by a separate entity, decibel readings taken and analyzed, the subsequent report reviewed and approved by a supervisor, the nuances discussed in a staff meeting, an explanatory email sent to the County Manager and County Attorney, the County Council briefed on progress sometime after the Holidays – then another staffer can be assigned to stop by the bar and ask if they can keep it down. . .
Good luck, folks – you’re going to need it.
In another welcomed development on Tuesday, I upchucked in my mouth a little as undeserved laurels were draped on The Very Reverend “Dr.” Fred Lowry by his “colleagues” as he announced his departure from elective service after “resigning to run” for the Volusia County School Board earlier this year.
Mercifully, incumbent School Board Chair Ruben Colón beat Lowry in an unreasonably close election this summer.
When Lowry first took the District 5 Volusia County Council seat in 2014, he quickly solidified his reputation as a benign lump – rarely weighing in on the issues – more of a phantasmic presence in the gilded chamber than an active participant, another stalwart of the stagnant status quo, and a reliable rubberstamp for Volusia’s Old Guard.
Then, Chairman Jeff Brower was elected in direct contravention of our “Rich & Powerful” oligarch’s efforts to return their hand-select marionette to the dais – and everything changed.
Suddenly the dynamics shifted, and Lowry’s ‘Caspar Milquetoast’ persona metamorphosed into an aggressive attack dog – cutting into Brower at every opportunity, openly shitting on the Chair’s initiatives and campaign promises – while he led the charge to marginalize Councilwoman Heather Post, denying her constituents in District 4 proper representation.
Magically, Lowry blossomed into an expert parliamentarian who took delight in pointing out the Chair’s every procedural fumble – tut-tutting along with the craven Gang of Four with his annoying habit of grunting “hear-hear!” as his confederates put the boots to Brower tag-team style.
His hubristic horseshit reached its nadir last year when Lowry stood before his congregation at a Deltona church and gave an unhinged sermon – a widely circulated diatribe from the political lunatic fringe – ranting about bizarre conspiracy theories and claiming the pandemic was a hoax.
In a scathing op/ed by the Orlando Sentinel in June 2021, the editorial board brought national attention (and embarrassment) to Volusia in rightfully calling for Lowry’s resignation.
Look, I don’t give a damn what The Very Reverend “Dr.” Lowry preaches from the sanctity of his pulpit, which is his right, (just as it is mine to tune him out) and how he chooses to tend his flock is only limited by his conscience and the collection plate.
But as an elected representative serving the citizens of Deltona and parts of West Volusia, many felt Lowry crossed a very bright line at the nexus of politics and religion.
At the time, Rev. L. Ron Durham, a Deltona resident, joined concerned citizens from across the political spectrum in expressing the community’s outrage.
Speaking to the blank stares of the Volusia County Council, Rev. Durham said:
“When any of your councilmembers take a detour from sanity, it behooves all of you to step in and take action to save our community from disastrous consequences,” he said. “The council should be enraged.”
They weren’t. . .
The Very Reverend “Dr.” Fred Lowry did his best to serve a higher power during his uninspired and unaccomplished tenure – not a heavenly deity – but a lockstep fealty to those influential power brokers who control everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tide here on the Fun Coast by purchasing the loyalties of malleable politicians like him with massive campaign contributions each election season.
Sorry, but I’m not sorry.
In my view, Fred Lowry represented everything wrong with Volusia County’s stagnant status quo, and I hope he finds redemption in his new role as a dilettante farmer. . .
On Tuesday, our collective way forward is back in the hands of Volusia County voters.
Vote like your quality of life depends upon it.
Because it does.
That’s all for me. Have a great weekend, y’all!
7 thoughts on “Angels & Assholes for November 4, 2022”
In regards to the article about inmate abuse please see Volusia case # 2020 30336 cici. This inmate was beaten to the point his nose was broken and he had a fractured eye socket and was left unconscious. I contacted Mark Flowers myself and he could not have cared less. I don’t believe he made any effort whatsoever to stop any inmate abuse.
Great stuff as always. Missed you at the Halloween festivities.
I can’t believe Lowry’s all-orange farewell suit didn’t win you over🙄!
Just a few thoughts .Will local news like DBNJ have more layoffs or just close as Gannett is announcing a 60 million dollar loss and stock at $1.75 a share ?.Thought two.Partington has run for mayor against Bridger 3 times.When I fill the ballott in I told Partington as he emailed me for our votes I am not a fan of his but cant vote for a 3 time loser and never saw him.Is this how democracy works?Does someone pay Bridger to run so we have no choice.?As a Jew lets talk antisemitism during bike week and truck week as Nazi shit is sold under those tents on Main Street in Daytona and on RT 1 in Ormond.Just saying.
We all know who is the recipient of Chislhom’s elevation to the job.Build-at-all Bradford and her company.She can deny all she wants but why would someone so in Peters corner,then totally turn on him and get correspondence from the present ICM even before the happenings of Sept.19 Deltona City Commission meeting
As soon as the Citizens of Deltona get a load of the Chiseler they can call Ken Strickland or Paul Zimmerman to get the balance of their left over…..
“Fire Jim Chisholm Now Signs”
They probably would be more happy to see those signs get another use than the Chiseler Himself….
He will rape and pillage Deltona like he did Daytona and will probably STOP Public Comments like Daytona when he doesn’t like what you have to say when the little people call him out…
The Chiseler is Spoiled and Rotten Milk
A Boil that will have to be LANCED by Dr Pimple Pooper
And Sheriff Mike “ENEMA Pokitical” Chitwood will never to anything about it because of their Omertà…
And we already know this because Chitwood stated. Sic
“They are All Corrupt,
And have a nice day!
I read the reporting on the jail issues and there seems to be a lot he said-he said or he said-she said. I also learned Mr Flowers is a retired Sergeant -Major.
Let’s see, who are we to believe? The Sergeant – Major or the politicians? I’ve got a pretty good idea who my money is on!