It’s not about you. . .

It was never about you. 

In keeping with tradition, Tuesday’s final hootenanny of this painfully dysfunctional iteration of the Volusia County Council dissolved into a self-lovefest – an onanistic last chance for outgoing members to lavish praise on themselves and “staff” in a weird egotistic and timewasting gush before slinking off to the political ash heap of history. 

It was also an opportunity for our elected dullards to obsequiously flatter (and handsomely reward) County Manager George “The Wreck” Recktenwald and County Attorney Mike Dyer, the true power duo that facilitate it all by crafting an agenda that first, last, and always protects and perpetuates the stagnant status quo.

During an unmarked agenda item mislabeled “Leadership,” council members took up the annual charade that has become the “evaluation” of the County Manager and County Attorney – a farcical shim-sham that bears no resemblance to a legitimate performance review – little more than a smokescreen of hollow accolades and baseless praise.   

In my view, it was a foregone conclusion – amid serious turmoil, controversy, and on-going investigations of alleged inmate abuse at the Volusia County Jail – that saw our elected officials (who are charged with providing politically accountable oversight) referring to their direct reports as beloved “friends.”

At the end of the day, like clockwork, both Recktenwald and Dyer were gifted a hefty 4% pay increase on the 5-1 vote – which equated to an approximate raise of $10,000 each. 

It’s nice to have friends. . .

Only Chairman Jeff Brower had the savvy to couch his lone “no” vote with, “For me, I think it’s premature to evaluate and discuss a raise until the results of that investigation are done, because I believe that the county manager and the county attorney are serious about having an independent, fair evaluation, and I believe that’s underway.”

Whatever.

If you are a struggling small business owner in Volusia County – or labor against massive inflation at a tax-supported industrial warehouse that our “economic development” types continue to spend public funds to attract – I wonder how your Christmas bonus was this year? 

What I found most telling (although not surprising) was how our elected representatives, in their final official addresses from the dais – droned on, ad nauseum, sugarcoating their “service” and “accomplishments,” rewriting recorded history, marginalizing detractors, labeling critics “liars,” and vehemently denying that their vote was influenced by the massive campaign contributions of those influential insiders that got them elected in the first place – all while heaping accolades on senior staff members who tell them exactly what they want to hear.

You and I – the long-suffering taxpayers of Volusia County who feed the machine – were an afterthought, if we were mentioned at all. . . 

That sense of elitism springs organically in the hallowed Halls of Power where the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker become convinced of their own infallibility – a cloistered environment where influential people (their “new friends”) who wouldn’t look twice at them outside of politics – suddenly laugh at their jokes, slap them on the back, and make them feel part of the snobbish social and economic inner-circle where you and I aren’t welcome – an ego-massage reinforced by fawning senior administrators who know which side their bread is buttered on. 

A weird Fantasy Land that exists only in the minds of these self-important dullards – a place of diversion and procrastination where that which is important is kicked down the dusty political trail while the non-sensical machinations of government and vicious personal attacks on their “colleagues” are passed off as the “people’s business.” 

Bullshit.

Look, I’m not some Cassadaga clairvoyant who saw this coming in a crystal ball.

I spent most of my life dragging on the public teat, and I have seen this all before, and human nature being what it is – most politicians fall victim to the trappings of office and perquisites of the monarchial system that fosters this Us vs. Them mentality – then, over time, become everything they hated when entering politics.

This lackluster group was no different.

If there is one positive to emerge from this self-congratulatory pageantry, it is that We, The Little People get a peek at how these political hacks see themselves in the mirror – and how little those of us they are sworn to serve matter to them personally, professionally, and politically.   

(This is where I normally say, “Don’t take my word for it” then link the archived meeting video. Apparently, the perennial audio/visual “difficulties” that constantly plague these meetings and effectively dissuade citizens from watching the sausage being made prevented Volusia County from posting the meeting video… Don’t worry, George – no one who should seems to give two-shits.)

As things come to an unceremonious end for this iteration of the Volusia County Council, like you, I contemplate how my life – and that of my grandchildren – is appreciably better (or worse) economically, environmentally, and civically for all the timewasting bickering and bitchery that marked their contentious reign? 

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, all we can do is lament what “could have been” had the spirt of cooperation and collegiality prevailed over meanspirited one-upmanship and this shameless self-promotion. 

Sadly, it was never about us.

In Volusia County, it never is.   

3 thoughts on “It’s not about you. . .

  1. So well said Mr. Barker, it made me laugh while also bringing tears to my eyes and anger to my heart. The place I have called home since birth has been turned into a heap of shit while those assholes have played their games for their own profit and egos. I am not excited about who will be seated on the new County Council, however, I sure the hell am glad to see Fast Freddy, Smile and Giggle Girtman, and Sellout Ben gone. However, I fear some of them will continue to hang around like so many of our former County politicians have. They are like dangleberries you just can’t get rid of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. KLC .My wife and I started at the Granada bridge and then went west on Speedway.Seven sidewalks are high up in the air with water almost touching them and you cant just put new concrete down as nothing to lay it on.Speedway is a shithole until you get to Nova and would be scared to walk at night there.What the hell is the Mayor of Daytona do all day just count his money?.Even the new park by the river looks like crap and dead at 1PM more stores are empty and dead during Christmas across the delapidated few streets and stores along the new park.Glad I live in Ormond.

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  2. How did we elect these two clowns with mega campaign war chests, when men that are our peers, the type of men the Founders were and who wrote a great Constitution, were running for VCC at large and district 3? Was it the ‘poopy water’?

    Like

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