Angels & Assholes for February 24, 2023

Hi, kids!

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           Deltona Commissioner Tom Burbank

“I’ve traveled the world, I’m uncommonly well-educated and have had two successful careers. I’ve been a Squad Leader, a Supervisor, a Manager, a Director, a Chairman, and now I’m a Tribal Elder. Given that, I like to think I’m a fair judge of people. On the subject of Nick James Lulli I offer the following personal impressions:

IMHO…The man (I use the term loosely) is: A tool, a sycophant, a wannabe, a stooge (too diminutive to be a goon), a puppet, a kiss-ass, ingratiating, obsequious, an apple polisher, a parasite, mealy mouthed, a brown-noser, more follower than leader, a bottom feeder, a remora, a leech, (probably) an impulsive liar, in prison terms…somebody’s wet-butt boy.

I’ve run out of pejorative adjectives. I don’t get to use them much as I normally give people the benefit of doubt.

He claims to be a marketing professional and communication expert, and yet has no website to peruse. He accepts fees for his work and yet I can find no record of his having a business license.

He may have one, we’re looking into it.

The notion that anybody would elect him to lead is beyond comprehension. Tb”

–Deltona District 1 Commissioner Tom Burbank’s unprovoked cyberbullying following resident Nick Lulli’s announcement that he is exploring a run for the District 6 seat in 2024

Yeah.  Him again.

Every time I read that hurtful and homophobic diatribe from the sanctimonious shitheel Tom Burbank – the vitriol directed at a civically active resident considering a run for elective service – it makes my blood boil

Fortunately, I am not alone.

The parade of passionate Deltona citizens who approached their elected officials on Monday evening to condemn Commissioner Burbank’s vicious attack on a private citizen spoke to the true character of a community under siege by their own elected representatives – and the depth of dysfunction and idiocy that continues to destroy public confidence in Deltona government.

I was particularly moved by the fervent plea of one resident who challenged the remainder of Deltona’s elected officials to file individual complaints with the Florida Commission on Ethics over Burbank’s hateful smear – or be considered complicit in this abhorrent behavior. 

After facing a barrage of criticism from his angry constituents, in my view, the fact that Mr. Burbank did not have the moral courage to resign and put an end to the embarrassment and distraction that his vicious attack has caused the City of Deltona tells us all we need to know about his sense of honor, personal integrity, and political loyalties. 

Commissioner Tom Burbank

To add insult, during subsequent comments from the dais, Commissioner Burbank – mockingly wearing a rainbow shirt – dodged responsibility and gaslighted his shocked constituents:

“To anybody in the audience or the viewing audience who I may have been offended, by assuming my comments were meant to be homophobic, nothing could be further from the truth.  I had no idea when I wrote that that the target of my ire swung that way, I really didn’t.”

You read that right.  It’s your own damn fault for assuming – not his.

Ultimately, Mayor Santiago Avila followed his conscience – and the palpable sense of outrage in the room – when he relinquished the gavel and moved to censure Commissioner Burbank as an official (if inconsequential) expression of the elected body’s collective condemnation of the shame and disrepute his actions have brought to the community. 

(All while Deltona’s lame duck City Attorney Marsha Segal-George babbled from the sidelines about the potential legal liability of doing the right thing.  Marsha, Marsha, Marsha…)

To say it was the least they could do is an understatement.

The measure passed on a 6-1 vote with Commissioner Burbank still refusing to acknowledge or atone for his bigotry.   


Considering the scathing rebuke of his neighbors – and loss of confidence by both constituents and colleagues – what’s keeping Burbank on the dais of power? 

In the past week, disturbing information has been made public that in 2009, Mr. Burbank resigned his employment as a Planner II with the City of Deltona following a written reprimand, a documented series of “performance-related concerns,” to include his defamation of the Planning and Development Services Department in front of staff and members of the public.

Which makes me curious…

Is it possible that Mr. Burbank’s soiled reputation as a failed low-level paper-pusher – an incompetent do-nothing with a high opinion of himself who accepted public funds then failed to meet acceptable standards – left him holding a grudge against the community who had a right to expect more?   

Is that what motivates Commissioner Burbank to viciously punch down from his position of power? 

Does that explain his unprovoked aggression, self-aggrandizement, and abject arrogance? 

I’m asking. 

Because I’ll be damned if I can find another logical explanation (other than pathological hatred) for his repugnant dehumanization of a private citizen.

My hope is that the good citizens of Deltona will reject the timid response of their now compromised elected officials and demand accountability – continue to press for Commissioner Burbank’s resignation – or initiate recall procedures as specified in the city charter and state statutes. 

In my view, this is not a free speech issue.

Burbank’s bullying – especially when used as a cudgel by a sitting elected official to scare a citizen away from participating in our sacred democratic process – carries ramifications far beyond the fetid pit of Deltona politics. 

Frankly, the use of cyberbullying as a means of coercing a potential candidate should pique the interest of the Florida Commission on Ethics, the Florida Elections Commission, and any state or federal agency tasked with protecting civil rights.

During a week that saw disgusting antisemitic propaganda distributed throughout Volusia County by nameless cowards – bigoted scum who spew lies, hate, and promulgate prejudice – craven acts that have been roundly condemned by local law enforcement and conscientious elected leaders – emphasizes the fact that Mr. Burbank’s hateful debasement of a private citizen has no place in civil society.   

Where is the public condemnation by the Deltona Professional Fire Fighters Union who promoted Burbank’s candidacy?

Where is the outrage from our local legislative delegation?

In my view, enflamed Deltona residents are right.  When it comes to hate speech and vile political coercion – silence is complicity  

Angel               East ISB Coalition

“I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption.”

Dr. Victor Frankenstein, 1818

Throughout my professional life in law enforcement, my colleagues and I often used morbid humor as a psychological salve – a way of making sense of the nonsensical – of alleviating trauma and easing the shock of man’s inhumanity to man.

I’ve kept many of those inappropriate coping skills in retirement.

For instance, I make fun of the asinine machinations of local government and the drone of misplaced “positivity” from politicians and our hospitality gurus who must know better, yet insist taxpayers deny that which we see with our own eyes.

I have perversely joked that each year around this time, our ‘powers that be’ develop a weird dissociative amnesia – which allows them to traverse the abject blight, dilapidation, and human carnage that populates what passes for the gateway to our core tourist area on their way to the haughty State of the County address at the Ocean Center – where they nosh on a “free lunch” provided by government contractors and ignore the obvious as they toot their own horns…

How can civic “leaders” gather smack in the middle of this neglect and decrepitude and not be moved to tears by nearly three-decades of civic inaction?


Now, after years of panel discussions, coffee klatches, standing room only “Town Hall” meetings, News-Journal exposés, “public visioning” sessions, FDOT presentations, catchy videos, colorful renderings of luxury apartments, talk of a loop-de-loop at the busiest beach approach in Volusia County – and lots of hot air from every Chamber of Commerce president in recent memory – there is a glimmer of light in the darkness, and we may finally see substantive movement on the long-awaited East ISB improvement project. 

Stop laughing at me, dammit… 

I’m being serious here. 

Last week, in an informative piece by reporter Eileen Zaffiro-Kean writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, we learned:   

“On Friday morning, 13 years after the idea was conceived, those dozens of leaders who refused to let the street makeover die celebrated the start of what will be a roughly 17-month reinvention of the city’s main gateway to the beach.

“We never gave up,” said ISB Coalition Chair Maryam Ghyabi-White, who’s been a major force in several Daytona Beach road projects.”

According to the report, work on the estimated $30 million project is set to begin in April and should wrap in “summer” 2024.

“The project will widen East ISB between the Halifax River bridge and State Road A1A to create enough space for wider traffic lanes on the four-lane road, 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes between the bridge and Halifax Avenue, a 6-foot-wide sidewalk headed westbound, and a 10-foot-wide sidewalk headed eastbound.”

All kidding aside, in my view, none of this would have been possible without the dedication, perseverance, and organizational skills of the incredibly smart traffic engineer Maryam Ghyabi-White – who has the unique ability to bring massive egos together and mold a common vision – while making each entity feel it was their idea all along.

That’s no easy task.    

So, what comes next? 

Damned if I know.  But concrete and asphalt can only do so much.

I have a long-held belief that any substantive change to our decaying core tourist area will come from entrepreneurial investment – like the recent efforts of Dr. Charles Duva to improve the look and feel of the disastrous East International Speedway Boulevard with his restaurant and entertainment venue Beaches – visionaries willing to bring their talents and money to transform the current pattern despite what must be their best instincts to run west.

That requires a high level of support from local government, residents, and the business community to establish an attractive environment for private investors – innovators with the right set of eyes – who see beyond the blight, vacancy, and dilapidation to the potential of our beleaguered beachside.

In Daytona Beach, perhaps that means keeping the stagnant “economic development” types on a short leash – demand that they get out of the way – and stop the bureaucratic meddling and asinine obstacles that have driven many successful enterprises to other communities. 

Unfortunately, beachside merchants from the Seabreeze Entertainment District to Main Street and the East ISB Gateway, have long been ignored and maligned by city and county officials – victimized by blame-shifting and made to feel like an afterthought – while millions in public funds were wasted, incumbered, or lavished elsewhere. 

In my view, it is time to reverse that grim trend, develop a much-needed vision for our core tourist area, and begin the important (and expensive) process of rehabilitating the Daytona Beach Resort Area’s tattered brand. 

Now, let the progress begin! 

Happy Days are Here Again!  Again!

Hell, even Daytona Beach’s effusive Mayor Derrick Henry was struck dumb by the momentous occasion.

According to the News-Journal’s report:

“Moments like this are so good, so magnificent and so glorious that I was left without words to describe what a great day this is,” Henry said as he looked out at the crowd that included FDOT officials, city commissioners, business leaders, attorneys, city staff members and local residents.

The mayor said the city has wanted to improve East ISB for 20 years, but needed state funding to move forward. He thanked “the partners who helped Daytona Beach reach its destiny.”

Henry said the city needs to ride the momentum of the project and chase after more dreams.

“We never want to flatline,” he said. “The best is yet to come.”

Wow.  “Destiny.”  Goosebumps, eh?

Come-on you dream chasers in city and county government! 

Ride the momentum, dammit!

Let the East ISB renovation be the Frankenstein’s Plasma Ion Generator that reanimates the decomposing corpse of our beachside – returning decades of civic asystole to a normal and vibrant sinus rhythm! 

Would you please stop snickering at me?  Geez Louise!

O’ ye, of little faith… 

Just stop – don’t give me your maudlin bullshit about “…we’ve heard it all before, Barker.” 

Didn’t you see all the right last names gather for the ceremonial groundbreaking last week? 

Pictures were taken! 

They even had those goofy golden shovels and cartoon hardhats…if that doesn’t say ‘progress,’ I don’t know what does

After 20-years, we have finally reached our destinyMayor Henry said so!

You Negative Nellies.  Just wait and see…

Angel               Tomoka Oaks Residents

“I tell ya, golf courses and cemeteries are the biggest wastes of prime real estate.”

–Al Czervik, Caddyshack

Despite the pleas of their claustrophobic constituents, the chaunt of those elected officials that owe their political souls to the largesse of well-heeled developers who invest heavily in their campaign is: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” 

That also happens to be the survival strategy of a malignant tumor

But here in the Sunshine State – arguably the biggest whorehouse in the world – unchecked greed knows no bounds and the justifications for this orgy of overdevelopment just don’t hold water anymore (literally).    

Now, developers routinely ramrod insane zoning changes that allow as many zero-lot-line wood frame cracker boxes per acre as possible by claiming it is their God-given right – then threaten crippling legal action against any local government who challenges the Devine Right of Kings.    


With many areas on the Fun Coast reaching build-out – and more subdivisions being thrown up so close to environmentally sensitive areas that even those who once supported “responsible development” are repulsed – the real Al Czerviks of the world have set their sights on shoehorning more, more, more onto what was once the primary amenity of many Central Florida communities: Golf courses.

Recently, some 250 residents of the long-established Tomoka Oaks community attended “developer-initiated meetings” to learn the fate of their quality of life as plans move forward to erect 300 homes on their former golf course.  

You read that right. 

In 2021, it was announced that a local “investor group” purchased the former Tomoka Oaks Golf & Country Club with plans for what some are calling a ‘development within a development’ – something that longtime residents believe will drastically change the character and livability of the established community. 

Now, existing homeowners in Tomoka Oaks, The Trails, and nearby Escondido Condominiums are rightfully concerned about the adverse impact of additional traffic and increased density on their daily lives and property values. 

Sound familiar?  It should.

In 2021, angry residents of Indigo Lakes in Daytona Beach pushed back against a proposal to develop single-family homes, townhouses, offices, light industrial space and a senior living facility on the now defunct 250-acre golf course that winds its way through their neighborhood.

Last year, despite some 20 months of intense opposition, the City of DeLand voted to allow a residential development on a contaminated former golf course and dump site known as Beresford Reserve.

In December, residents of LPGA International learned that Virginia-based Fore Golf Partners LLC, who has owned the two 18-hole courses since 2019, has plans to turn the golf community’s three-hole practice course into 154 single-family homes and 40 townhouses – all west of that Monument to Mediocrity that is the two-lane Tomoka River pinch point…

Fortunately, some visionary communities in Florida and beyond – who understand that once you pave over green space you never get it back – are purchasing and repurposing shuttered golf courses, turning them into public parks, trails, orchards, equestrian centers, community gathering space, outdoor fitness areas, and stormwater retention systems.  

But not here.

While the Tomoka Oaks project meanders through the planning stages – I encourage all residents of Ormond Beach and beyond to follow developments closely. 

If you have tried to crawl your way along Granada Boulevard – or (insert any area roadway here) – imagine the horrific impact of some six hundred additional cars entering and exiting the fray at Tomoka Oaks Boulevard…

Yeah.  I know.   

For additional information, please go to:

Quote of the Week

“At-Large Councilman Jake Johansson, who voted in favor of the ordinance, said the changes would help young couples buy an acre, start with a modest mobile home and upgrade to better housing over the years.

“I know the picture that some are painting that a mobile home might be this single-wide tin thing with tarps over the porch and some person with no teeth trying to cook a burger out back, when in fact my parents lived in a very nice double-wide mobile home that was better than any home I first lived in,” he said. “So I think it’s all a matter of who your neighbor is.”

–At-Large Volusia County Councilman Jake Johansson, as quoted in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Volusia Council OKs mobile home site expansion,” Thursday, February 23, 2023

I find it fascinating (and more than a little frightening) when we get a glimpse into the minds and internal deliberative process of our elected officials… 

On Tuesday, the Volusia County Council voted 6-1 to expand areas where mobile homes are permitted in what we are told is a move to increase affordable housing opportunities.   

According to the News-Journal’s report, “Councilman David Santiago was the lone vote against the proposal. He raised concerns about unintended consequences such as impacts on property values. He said he is an affordable housing advocate but didn’t think the ordinance was the right way to go about it. “I think we should resharpen our pencils and look for other options, Santiago said.”

I don’t know how to break it to Councilman Santiago, but in a place where gross rent now tops $1,148 a month – with a per capita monthly income of just $2,685 – it’s going to take a pretty sharp pencil to keep a roof over many of his constituent’s heads…

The move now opens 51,883 acres in Volusia County to mobile homes as primary housing across a variety of rural and agricultural zoning categories.

And Another Thing!

I want to publicly commend Volusia County Councilman Troy Kent for valiantly championing the cause of dog-friendly beaches for area residents beyond driving to New Smyrna Beach or Ponce Inlet.

He did it for the right reasons, and I appreciate that.

Then, I want to commiserate with my fellow Fun Coast taxpayers…

The fact is, none of this affects me, because I no longer visit Volusia County beaches. 


I’ve had my last run-in with officious beach wardens with beards, short pants, and a God-complex.

The fear of being slapped in irons for smoking a Marlboro.

The fact I can no longer access the stairs I helped pay for north of North Shore Park due to the phalanx of “No Parking” signs that have sprouted like foul weeds in traditional beachside parking areas along A-1-A all the way to the Flagler County line (while unchecked high-rise development is permitted on the crumbling dune line elsewhere…)

I prefer to not render unto Caesar twice.  Once in my property taxes, and again at the tollbooth.

That’s why. 

I’m not a huge fan of being lorded over by the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker, and I don’t care for my government regulating otherwise lawful activities – nuisances and practices that can easily be alleviated with a modicum of courtesy and commonsense rather than another ordinance (and corresponding signage, staff, etc.) – like picking up after your dog, packing your trash off the beach at the end of the day, and being a good neighbor and citizen.  

I also question Volusia County’s patented kneejerk response to any wrinkle in the stagnant status quo that immediately requires expanding the bloated bureaucracy by hiring additional staff to write citations whenever a resident or visitor misses one the thousands of “do this/don’t do that” signs, poles, and cones that litter the coastline.   

Look, this issue has been rehashed time-and-again, with previous iterations of the council opting for the path of least resistance and further overregulating a day at the beach.

So, why not try something different? 

Why is it that dog-friendly areas work in destinations across the globe, but not here on Florida’s Not-So-Fun Coast? 

Hell, why is it that nothing about our godawful beach management scheme seems to work here?  

I mean, do they fear the ramifications to Volusia County’s iron-fisted (and incredibly expensive) control if We, The Little People start enjoying ourselves on our greatest natural resource? 

God forbid.

As in years past, no one is asking that roaming packs of vicious curs be allowed carte blanche across all 47-miles of Volusia’s Atlantic coastline – just a few designated and properly regulated areas in coastal communities where pet owners can enjoy the beach with their fur babies.  

On Tuesday, following a three-hour discussion (yeah, I know) our elected representatives directed staff to prepare “options” (hold on to your wallets) for a test site at Bicentennial Park on the North Peninsula. 

According to an informative report by Sheldon Gardner writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal:

“Staff members will bring back options for the test program at the March 21 council meeting, including possible user fees for dog owners. The meeting will begin at 4 p.m. If plans advance, the council is expected to have a formal vote to establish the program at a following meeting.”

Wait.  “User fees for dog owners”? 


“Volusia County dog owners, COME ON DOWN!  You’re the next contestant in this weird game of Tax-Fees-Spend-Repeat!”

My GodWill those fee-grabbing parasites in DeLand ever stop? 


According to the News-Journal report, “The county will consider adding a new staff member to oversee the dog beach area, along with related equipment and services such as trash pickup and waste bags.”

So, there you go.  Volusia County’s unofficial motto in action: “Give with one hand – take more with the other.” 

One bright spot in the tedium came when Halifax area philanthropists and dog lovers Nancy and Lowell Lohman “…offered to donate $100,000 to help get the test program off the ground.”

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. 

Because this is how the bureaucracy exterminates the good ideas and campaign promises of our elected representatives by making implementation so onerous, expensive, and cumbersome that no politician in their right mind could vote to approve the costly end product.

It’s called the tail wagging the dog – and it will continue until the exact second our elected officials look County Manager George “The Wreck” Recktenwald in the eye and demand he better manage his massive existing resources to accomplish goals and implement policy. 

My God.

More staff.  More regulation.  More equipment.  More signs.  More, more, more… 

Whether you agree with dog-friendly sections of beach or not – just know it’s not about you.

It’s not about any of us. 

It is about shoveling more of our hard-earned cash into the maw of this insatiable machine by any means possible.    

That’s all for me.  Have a great weekend, y’all!

Angels & Asshole for February 17, 2023

Hi, kids!

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           Deltona Commissioner Tom Burbank

Each week I cling to the possibility that the Deltona City Commission has finally reached its nadir. 

It hasn’t. 

Unbelievably, Central Florida’s most shambolic and unstable elected body continues to plumb the depths of dysfunction – like a bathyscaphe exploring the deepest reaches of a bottomless shit-trench – and it is clear the assholery of some members of the Deltona City Commission knows no limits. 

Earlier this week, I received a note from Nick James Lulli, a resident of Deltona, who very courteously let me know that he enjoys reading Barker’s View – and is exploring a run for the Deltona City Commission in 2024. 

While I have never met Mr. Lulli – I get a lot of calls and emails from potential political candidates considering entering the fray (I’m able to talk most off the ledge) but he seemed sincere in his desire to contribute to his community – so, I congratulated his consideration of public service (then commiserated on the tragic loss of his sanity) and thought no more of it. 

Then, on Wednesday morning, Mr. Lulli sent me an incredibly disturbing cyberbullying social media post attributed to sitting Deltona City Commissioner Tom Burbank, which read as follows (verbatim):

“I’ve traveled the world, I’m uncommonly well-educated and have had two successful careers. I’ve been a Squad Leader, a Supervisor, a Manager, a Director, a Chairman, and now I’m a Tribal Elder. Given that, I like to think I’m a fair judge of people. On the subject of Nick James Lulli I offer the following personal impressions:

IMHO…The man (I use the term loosely) is: A tool, a sycophant, a wannabe, a stooge (too diminutive to be a goon), a puppet, a kiss-ass, ingratiating, obsequious, an apple polisher, a parasite, mealy mouthed, a brown-noser, more follower than leader, a bottom feeder, a remora, a leech, (probably) an impulsive liar, in prison terms…somebody’s wet-butt boy.

I’ve run out of pejorative adjectives. I don’t get to use them much as I normally give people the benefit of doubt.

He claims to be a marketing professional and communication expert, and yet has no website to peruse. He accepts fees for his work and yet I can find no record of his having a business license.

He may have one, we’re looking into it.

The notion that anybody would elect him to lead is beyond comprehension. Tb”

You read that right…

Commissioner Tom Burbank (Who apparently missed the “Dress to Impress” class during his prestigious education…

Clearly shocked by Burbank’s blatant character assassination, Mr. Lulli responded to protect his character and reputation – accurately calling Commissioner Burbank’s vitriolic smear exactly what it is was – “a homophobic attack” – before stating, “There is no room for hate in Deltona, Commissioner Burbank must step down immediately.” 

(Find Mr. Lulli’s full response here: )

In my view, Mr. Lulli is right.  Burbank needs to resign. 


Following his hateful screed, one of Mr. Burbank’s constituents gave voice to what many Deltona residents are thinking in a subsequent social media post:

“Tom Burbank you are my commissioner and you should be ashamed of yourself for the hate you are spewing! You need to immediately resign! This diatribe (I can use big words too) proves you cannot competently and without prejudice represent all the diverse people in your district!”


In my experience, whenever someone prefaces a statement with “I’m uncommonly well-educated” followed by their résumé, I know instinctively what I am dealing with:  A pretentious twit with a high opinion of themselves – and Commissioner Burbank’s ad hominem attack on a constituent and taxpayer proves just how accurate that metric can be.    

You may remember that Mr. Burbank’s self-absorbed nature was first exposed last year during his campaign for the Deltona seat in a haughty remark to the West Volusia Beacon:

“Burbank said he wasn’t planning to run for office, but he made the leap because he is “something of a figure in town,” and many people have asked him to.” 

My God, what a sanctimonious asshole…

I don’t make this shit up, folks.

As you may recall, last week I opined on another whale-shit level personal attack wherein Deltona’s bullying Vice Mayor Maritza Avila-Vasquez filed a formal complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics alleging Commissioner Dana McCool somehow violated the State Constitution when she dropped the “F-bomb” during a heated off the dais tête-à-tête.

This week, in what was clearly a one-two punch, I learned that Commissioner McCool was recently threatened and intimidated by an unnamed former public official, apparently for doing her fiduciary duty and asking the hard questions during the city’s contract negotiations with its firefighter’s union…

Again, I don’t make this shit up, kids. 

Couldn’t if I tried.

Look, I don’t live in Deltona. 

But if you care about good governance in your community, you should be concerned about good governance everywhere – and as Volusia County’s largest municipality by population – the fetid rain from its continuing civic shitstorms falls across the remainder of the metropolitan statistical area – and Deltona’s abject dysfunction is a big reason Volusia County rightfully remains the laughingstock of our much more successful neighbors in Central Florida…

Yesterday, I sent a formal request to Commissioner Burbank’s official email account seeking an explanation for the inexplicable – namely how an “uncommonly well-educated” public official could possibly justify this vicious and hateful attack on a private citizen?

It was my futile attempt to understand in what context a sitting elected representative would refer to a constituent and taxpayer as “…somebody’s wet-butt boy.”

Not surprisingly, Mr. Burbank did not respond. 

In my view, the fact that Mr. Burbank has not vociferously apologized to Mr. Lulli, publicly denounced this hateful rhetoric for what it is, and formally resigned to protect the integrity of his high office speaks volumes about his abysmal lack of character and bullying cowardice.   

Maybe the Lost City of Deltona has finally reached its lowest possible point?

Unfortunately, given the never-ending churn in City Hall, I doubt it. 

Stay tuned – this latest scar on Deltona’s reputation is far from over…

Angel               Flagler Beach City Commission

I have a great deal of respect for those who answer the call to public service – who weather the slings and arrows of criticism and dedicate themselves to a cause greater than their own self-interests – spending their time and talents furthering the greater good.

Conversely, I have nothing but distain for anyone in government (elected or appointed) who accept public funds to serve in the public interest then feather their own nest – and those of their “friends” (read: “special interests”) – while wallowing in mediocrity, running interference for the stagnant status quo, and allowing their own ineptitude to hamper progress while the needs of their constituents are ignored. 

Unlike larger bureaucracies, in small towns the acts and omissions of senior administrators are more readily apparent because they are felt more acutely by those who pay the bills.

Rather than hide in the Ivory Tower, chief executives in smaller communities are required to get their hands dirty, speak directly with constituents, work shoulder-to-shoulder with staff, lead from the front, and set the example – which means there is no place for wooden figureheads who do little more than dodge accountability and orchestrate agendas from on high. 

To say things are changing in the quaint ‘Old Florida’ hamlet of Flagler Beach is an understatement – and, in the opinion of many, not for the better.

Last week, Flagler Beach City Manager William Whitson was summarily fired on a 4-1 vote of the City Commission. 

Given his disgracefully lackluster performance, no one was surprised.

The action came after what FlaglerLive! described as “…a humiliating, public dressing down,” during which Whitson’s many missteps and missed opportunities – including ignoring the deadline for a $700,000 tourism grant, the cancellation of the city’s successful July 4th fireworks celebration, a failure to plan for the departure of key staff, the deteriorating aesthetics of the community, low morale, and an unexplained failure to implement pay raises for city employees that had been previously approved by the commission, to name a few – were paraded across the chamber…  

With just less than two-years on the job, in the view of many, Whitson’s termination was long overdue. 

Unfortunately, this civic instability comes at a time of significant change in Flagler Beach – including preliminary plans for replacing the city’s iconic fishing pier, construction of a 100-room resort hotel literally on the town square, and a critical coastal renourishment project. 

On Monday, the City Commission took the sound approach of allowing time and distance between Whitson’s departure and their selection of an interim manager. 

According to reports, the list of potential candidates has been narrowed to three. 

The process will now move to meetings with department heads, a public meet and greet, and one-on-one discussions with commissioners ahead of a vote on February 23. 

Tene lupum auribus.

When a council or commission wades into that dark trench and begins sifting the glitter from the turds – sorting through the cheap grifters, refugees fleeing the frozen north, lard asses looking for a cushy retirement gig, fakes, phonies, and “managers in transition” – the elected officials truly take a wolf by the ears… 

(Use The Lost City of Deltona as a cautionary tale – because it is.) 

Good luck, Flagler Beach.

Something tells me you’re going to need it…

Angel               City of Ormond Beach

With apologies to Charles Dudley Warner, “Everyone complains about the devastating effects of flooding, but nobody does anything about it…”

It is apparent to everyone except those elected officials beholden to real estate developers that the malignant sprawl across the width and breadth of Volusia County has contributed to widespread flooding in the aftermath of significant weather events.

Look, I’m not an expert in fluid mechanics, but even an uneducated rube like me can deduce that water will seek the most efficient route to the lowest topographical level – so radically altering the elevation of the land, the proliferation of impervious surfaces, building on top of natural recharge areas, and insufficient onsite retention cannot help but adversely affect adjacent properties.   

Recently, the City of New Smyrna Beach took the commonsense measure of a short-term residential building moratorium in flood prone areas until an independent engineering firm can complete an analysis to determine if recent development contributed to widespread flooding during Tropical Storm Ian. 

This week, we learned in an informative article by Senior Editor Jarleene Almenas writing in the Ormond Beach Observer that “Over the next decade, the city of Ormond Beach is planning more than $19.6 million worth of capital improvement projects for its stormwater system.”

During a workshop earlier this month, the Ormond Beach City Commission reviewed a consultant’s study which included suggestions for several capital improvement projects to control flooding primarily west of the Halifax River, “…and include recommendations for flood studies, infrastructure upgrades and evaluations of stormwater capacity.”

According to the Observer’s report, “Commissioner Harold Briley asked about the improvements needed to the North U.S. 1 corridor, where runoff also affects the nearby Ormond Lakes subdivision. City Public Works Director Shawn Finley said the city is working with developers to address stormwater impacts.

“Part of the need for looking at this is to stay out in front of it, so that some of the development in the future doesn’t reverse some of the benefits that we’ve gained — doesn’t exasperate some of the issues that may be out there,” Finley said.”

The word Director Finley was searching for is exacerbate – which means to worsen or aggravate a current situation.

Ormond Beach residents whose tax dollars pay his salary are exasperated – which means frustrated, annoyed, and infuriated… 

Perhaps Commissioner Briley identified part of the problem?

I think we can all agree that putting the fox in charge of the henhouse is rarely a good compliance strategy.

In my view, it is high time city and county regulatory authorities stopped “working with developers to address stormwater impacts” and start requiring their strict adherence to existing land use and stormwater retention regulations – to include taking enforcement action against projects found to have contributed to flooding.

In addition, the stormwater master plan study also recommended some $4.15 million for water quality projects to reduce pollutants entering the Tomoka River Basin and the Halifax River – both of which have been designated “impaired waterways” by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 


Are these recommendations essentially closing the barndoor after the old gray nag has bolted, run down the road, and is now stuck in traffic somewhere on Granada Boulevard?   

You bet it is.

However, planning for much needed infrastructure improvements – especially transportation and stormwater management – represents a step in the right direction as local governments begin the incredibly expensive and cumbersome process of playing ‘catch-up’ after blindly permitting unchecked residential and commercial development countywide.   

Better late than never.

Angel               Sons of the Beach

Sons of the Beach, Florida’s premiere beach driving and access advocacy, has stood tall defending our interests in the never-ending battle to protect our most precious natural asset from government overreach and those who would trade public access as a cheap spiff for out-of-town developers with a profit motive.

Now, amid growing concerns of further beach erosion, Sons of the Beach has been actively lobbying for a moratorium on new development east of A-1-A. 

In consultation with environmental scientists and experts on coastal erosion, this grassroots organization is making a convincing argument for the emergent need to limit future building on the natural protection of the dune line east of the Coastal Construction Control Line.

Despite the dodgery and procrastination of our ‘powers that be’ – Sons of the Beach recognizes the need for a different, more holistic approach to beach management and renourishment – a substantive departure from the ineptitude and gross maladministration of Volusia County that has left our coastline an overregulated forest of distracting signage, ugly poles, and traffic cones. 

Newly seated District 4 Volusia County Councilman Troy Kent recently announced his support for the right of Volusia County residents to enjoy vehicular access to our beach without being squeezed twice – once in our exorbitant property taxes and again at the toll booth.

The idea of removing onerous beach tolls for residents has been a key goal of Sons of the Beach for many years – because it is the right thing to do.   

I believe Councilman Kent has found an ally in his fight to improve beach access for Volusia County families.   

The strength of any organization lies in the willingness of its members to get involved – to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of furthering its goals and objectives – and no one has worked more diligently to improve our unique coastal lifestyle than SOB president Paul Zimmerman and his dedicated membership.     

Now, this important beach advocacy needs your help. 

In my view, Sons of the Beach is the perfect place to use your talents and enthusiasm to make a positive difference – working with fun, likeminded people – each dedicated to preserving our unique heritage while improving the beachgoing experience for residents and visitors. 

If you are interested in preserving our long-standing tradition of beach driving – and protecting our shoreline from the threat of further erosion, privatization, and mismanagement – please join Sons of the Beach tomorrow morning for their annual meeting at Schnebly Recreation Center, 1101 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach, beginning at 10am.

Everyone is welcome!

Topics will include a pause on new oceanfront development, with expert guests providing information on future tropical storm projections, sea level rise, meteorology, and the ongoing threat of beach erosion.

Sons of the Beach is a non-profit organization whose only membership requirement is a willingness to preserve the beauty and accessibility of Volusia County beaches.

For more information – or to claim your free SOB membership – please go to

Quote of the Week

“How could you?

How could you tear down the memories?

DeLand gets to be a streetlight city with no history left, no landmarks, no memories left.

How can you tear down that historic, once-beautiful hotel, our Hotel Putnam?

One look at those weary walls now – walls that speak of my story, your story, our story – one must stop, listen, weigh in. We must shore up those walls and stories, meet one another, sample the menu, hear the music, learn the lessons, create new stories together.

Shore up those worthy walls!”

— DeLandite Dot Brown, 95, who married into the Hotel Putnam family in 1953. She recently shared her memories of the historic hotel, which were compiled by her daughter Terry Brown, and published in the West Volusia Beacon, “An Ode to Lady Putnam,” Monday, February 6, 2023

On Monday, the historic Hotel Putnam met its grim fate.   

By Tuesday morning, the century old Grande Dame of West Volusia was reduced to a pile of splinters and dust – another victim of what some believe was willful neglect and strategic rot in the name of progress…and profit.

How sad. 

Don’t worry – the Utah-based real estate investment group that purchased the hotel last year reassured us that the firm is “…committed to finding a use for the Putnam site that pays tribute to the once prestigious hotel and the history of DeLand that it reflects.”


Feel better?

Me neither. 

And Another Thing!

While reading accounts of Flagler Beach City Manager William Whitson’s recent removal – to include a gloomy photograph of Whitson dejectedly moping off the dais – I kept waiting for his Golden Parachute to deploy. 

Then I saw it in an informative piece by the News-Journal’s Frank Fernandez:

“Whitson’s termination is effective April 10, but he will be on administrative leave until then, and will still receive his salary. Since the termination was with “no cause,” Whitson will also receive a 20-week severance with applicable deductions in a lump sum and any accrued vacation time. The city will pay his health insurance for the 20 weeks.”

Jesus.  Not bad, eh?    

“No cause”?  Really?

My ass.

Given the host of omissions and ham-handed slipups that ultimately resulted in Whitson being booted out on his ass, his cash-cushioned landing could only happen in government…   

Maybe its time for financially responsible communities to change that? 

You’ve heard this nattering from me before, but with the Lost City of Deltona, and now Flagler Beach, on the hunt for their next chief executive, it bears repeating.

Regardless of jurisdiction, the one constant in local governance is that city and county managers enjoy professional protections that those in the private sector will never know – even when their decisions and behavior are far from professional.

Look, I get it.  But when is too much, too much?

From the vantage point of over 30-years in municipal government, I know a little bit about the perils of political instability, competing agendas, and the internal strife that comes from ideological clashes and petty bickering between competing factions.

As a result, I’ve seen good managers demonized – pilloried for trying to do the right thing despite the prevailing political winds – left with no alternative but to move along and ply their itinerant trade elsewhere.

And I’ve seen the worst-of-the-worst hang-on by their fingernails, destroying the morale of dedicated public servants, while various city/county management fraternities defended their weakest link… 

As a result, I understand the need for both reasonable legal protections – and strong oversight.

A good chief executive is worthy of a competitive, performance-based salary and benefits package that adequately compensates their contributions – but why should a bumbling shit-heel that fails to live up to community expectations receive an extortionate severance package? 

I’m asking.

Like you, as a resident of Volusia County, I’ve seen some of the most quisling, totally inept assholes ever to worm their way into public management thrive – at least for a while – as they cloak themselves in internal and external political and contractual protections while sitting on their sizeable ass protecting the stagnant status quo – then saunter away with a sack full of cash when their gross incompetence became too brazen to ignore.

In most local governments, the only thing standing in the way of a chief executive transmogrifying into a tyrannical despot (or a do-nothing hump) is the elected body – politically accountable policymakers charged with the direct oversight of one extremely powerful individual.

But what happens when that supervisory responsibility becomes little more than an end-of-the-year afterthought – a perfunctory pat on the head leading to an automatic pay increase for the chief executive – a shim-sham “evaluation” which leaves most taxpayers shaking their heads because nothing resembling that happens in the meritocratic private sector where performance counts?  

And why is it that once we elevate the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker to high office they make asinine decisions with our money – risks they would never take with their own business or egg money – like offering astronomical employment contracts to city and county managers – many of whom have a checkered track record?

For instance, those dullards on the Deltona City Commission, in an off-the-agenda ambush, recently extended the contract of Interim City Manager Jim “The Chiseler” Chisholm – which includes $87,400 per six-month period, all the benefits and perquisites of a full-time employee, and 80-hours of personal time off – with Deltona taxpayers ponying up the full premium for health, dental and vision coverage for The Chiseler and his spouse (say what?) – including contributions to a private pension plan, and use of a vehicle “including insurance, maintenance, repair and fuel” and “without restriction of personal use.”


For an interim city manager?

In 2011, the Florida legislature put limitations on public employee severance pay – providing that payouts may not exceed an amount greater than 20 weeks of compensation – and a prohibition on severance when the employee has been terminated for misconduct as defined in Florida Statutes.

In my view, it is time for further caps on these lopsided “Golden Parachutes” – incredibly expensive padding that has become de rigueur in City Halls and County Administrative offices everywhere.

Those reforms should include raising the bar for severance eligibility to include a failure to meet reasonable performance and professional standards – rather than the current practice of lavishly rewarding even short-tenured poor performers.     

Anyone else enjoy that kind of gilded safety net?

Hell, does anyone else here in the Real World receive free gasoline? 

Yeah.  I didn’t think so. 

That’s all for me.  Have a great 65th Daytona 500 weekend, y’all! 

Angels & Assholes for February, 10, 2023

Hi, kids!

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           Deltona Vice Mayor Maritza Avila-Vasquez

“I, therefore, Deltona Vice-Mayor Maritza Avila-Vasquez request to press Ethics charges against Commissioner Dana McCool for her disrespect towards me and those present at the time she used inappropriate language towards me. I trust that whatever actions are taken towards her disrespectful behavior will deter other elected officials from doing the same.”

Sounds like the Vice Mayor is full of herself.    

She’s full of something else, too…

Who in the hell anointed Vice Mayor Maritza Avila-Vasquez of the Lost City of Deltona the arbiter of free expression?  And when did engaging in speech that this self-righteous political elitist subjectively deems “disrespectful” rise to a violation of the Florida Code of Ethics for Public Officers?    

Last week, many were shocked to learn that as the utterly dysfunctional Deltona City Commission begins its latest “process” of luring the umpteenth city manager in its brief history – another distracting shitshow emerged when thin-skinned Vice Mayor Avila-Vasquez filed a formal complaint against Commissioner Dana McCool with the Florida Commission on Ethics in December.   

Maritza Avila-Vasquez

What heinous violation of Florida’s Code of Ethics is Avila-Vasquez alleging?

Graft?  No.

Public corruption?  Not even close.

Nepotism?  No.

Violating the State Constitution?  Nah.

Financial disclosures and voting conflicts?  Not hardly.

According to Ms. Avila-Vasquez – Commissioner McCool engaged in conduct far more toxic and deleterious to the public trust when she used inappropriate language during a testy off-the-dais exchange in October. . .

Yep.  Commissioner McCool dropped the “F-Bomb” to the Vice Mayor.

Good for Ms. McCool.   

In my view, the abject obscenities that have been foisted on the good citizens of Deltona by Avila-Vasquez and her “colleagues” – the political roil, staff turnover, behind-the-scenes machinations, rubber-stamping land use changes, off-the-agenda public policy by ambush, “golden parachutes,” discrimination suits, utter dysfunction at City Hall, “suspensions” of senior officials, and the destabilizing game of musical chairs in the executive suit – has been far more detrimental to the public trust – and city coffers – than any frustrated tirade by a passionate elected official who cares.

But in the Vice Mayor’s world, all that matters is her delicate sensibilities – and the politics of personal destruction.   

Commissioner Dana McCool

This entire bullshit bruhaha began when Avila-Vasquez threw her weight around and publicly lambasted former Deputy City Manager Stacey Kifolo from the dais after she failed to act on the Vice Mayor’s demand that the city advertise an event she supported.

Several other elected officials, including Commissioner McCool, took exception to the Vice Mayor’s meddling.  

Ultimately, the dispute resulted in a behind-the-scenes tête-à-tête during a subsequent commission meeting wherein Avila-Vasquez claims Ms. McCool used the “F-bomb.”

According to Avila-Vasquez’ grammatical nightmare of a sworn complaint:

“I walked down to the chamber to ask a staff member a question.  When I turned to walk out the back door, I was confronted by Commissioner McCool who questioned me as to why I told her to stay away.  She went on to say she was sick of my attitude**comments, & complaining and used many F-bombs.  She said – Who the hell did I think I was?  She kept on using the F-bombs towards me and was very threatening with her words.  I believe at one point I had the opportunity to ask her what her problem was, she responded by saying, “You and your F-bombs words” She walked away still cursing at me., Her final words were; “It is ok.  You have 4 F-bomb weeks left and then your F-bomb Ass will be out of here”.  Elections were 4 weeks away from that day.  There are witnesses to this exchange – both Staff and the Mayor.”

In my view, the crux of the matter was revealed in Avila-Vasquez’ “Statement of Facts,” wherein she claims, “Commissioner McColl (sic) was openly politicking for my opponent and was using these events to try and embarrass me in a public meeting.”

Sounds an awful lot like old-fashioned political revenge to me. . .

What a crock o’ shit.

What I find more intriguing than Ms. Avila-Vasquez’ meanspirited diversion is that – on or about October 7, 2022, Deputy City Manager Stacey Kifolo was mysteriously “suspended with pay” for reasons that were never made clear – taking her out of the running for the interim role just as the City Commission took up a less than deliberative “process” (one that had all the earmarks of a foregone conclusion) which ultimately led to former Daytona Beach City Manager Jim “The Chiseler” Chisholm being tapped to replace the hapless John Peters in an acting status.

So, what fate befell Stacey Kifolo after her run-in with the almighty Vice Mayor Avila-Vasquez?

Your F-bomb guess is as good as mine – so, I filed a public records request with the City of Deltona to find out.

The request for records regarding Ms. Kifolo’s suspension and termination was denied citing an exemption of records pending termination of litigation and settlement of claims. 

That’s right.  Bend over Deltona taxpayers, here it comes again. . .   

This constant political churn, followed by the shadowy disappearance of a senior city official, is what is increasingly referred to as “typical Deltona” – an unstable dumpster fire with no resemblance to a representative democracy – that has destroyed the integrity of the local government.

Unfortunately, Commissioner McCool recently announced that she is battling Stage 4 bone cancer – yet, she continues to serve the community with great dedication and enthusiasm – which, in my view, makes Avila-Vasquez’ continued pursuit of this sanctimonious vendetta even more reprehensible.

My sincere hope is that Commissioner McCool will keep fighting the good fight – personally and politically.

We need more bold souls challenging the stagnant status quo and doing good work in the public interest – and less faux-shrinking violets playing petty games for their political advantage.

Angel               City of DeBary

At the risk of picking civic scabs, the small Wild West Volusia community of DeBary hasn’t always been the most ecologically friendly spot in Volusia County. 

In fact, I like to say this blogsite cut its editorial teeth on what was known as the Debacle in DeBary – a grim time in the city’s history when greed overcame the common good – and developers, with the help of City Hall, made a stealth move on sensitive land known as the Gemini Springs Annex.

It was a blundering attempt to set the stage for a ‘transportation-oriented development’ near the SunRail station – except the sleazy nature of the city’s behind-the-scenes involvement with an environmental consultant who had powerful influence at the St. John’s Water Management District shocked the conscience of many in Central Florida and beyond.

In fact, it was a sordid saga that could only have happened in Florida – where the act of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse is considered sound public policy…

Fortunately, it appears things have changed for the better in DeBary.

Photo Credit: West Volusia Beacon

Last week, Mayor Karen Chasez authorized the transfer of 170 acres in the bend of the St. Johns River known as Alexander Island to public ownership.    

The ecologically sensitive land will be set aside for conservation and passive recreation. 

According to an excellent report by reporter Al Everson writing in the West Volusia Beacon:

“DeBary purchased the land, situated in the very turn of the St. Johns River from west to north, for $3.5 million. The city tried to secure help in saving the environmentally sensitive tract from development by applying for help from the state under the Florida Forever program, but state officials passed over the opportunity to aid in saving the property.

Owned by the Recicar Trust, Alexander Island was for sale in Florida’s hot realty market. Though much of the property is low terrain, there are some 17.5 acres of uplands that could become upscale homesites for those wanting a view of the river and access to launch a boat. City leaders felt the need and the pressure to preserve the land’s natural state as the perfect place for a park and habitat for wildlife such as rare birds, tortoises, bears and boars.”

To the city’s credit, they ultimately shunned a dubious “interlocal agreement” with Volusia County that would have seen the citizens of DeBary pay $1.3 million – with the county contributing some $2.2 million from Volusia Forever – to purchase Alexander Island and create a conservation easement.

According to the Beacon’s report, under the terms of the rejected deal, “…the city would own the land and the county would manage it. However, the agreement also contained provisions the city would not accept, notably giving the county the power to regulate construction of amenities on the site, such as restrooms, pavilions and docks.

Moreover, in the event of a violation of the conservation easement by the city, the inability to “cure the violation” would authorize the county to “enact any of the enforcement actions, as it chooses,” including “the right to recover 100 % of the [county’s] contribution towards the purchase of the property plus interest.”

Yet another enforcement action would be for the county “to invoke its fee transfer rights,” including requiring DeBary to give Volusia County “all right, title and interest in the Property if the terms of the easement are violated by” the city.”

F-bomb that…

In November 2022, the Beacon reported that “disenchantment” with the county’s stance prompted City Council Member William Sell to propose that DeBary purchase the land on its own using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to pay for it.

“I want it to be our park. I don’t want the county involved,” Sell said. “I’m just totally disappointed in this process. … Personally, I’d say forget about trying to get money from the county.”

Smart move.

My hat is off to City Manager Carmen Rosamonda, Mayor Chasez, and the DeBary City Council for heeding the hard lessons of history and recognizing the grim fate that awaits unsuspecting municipalities who get into bed with Volusia County.

Well done.

Asshole           Former Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post

I’m sorry. 

No one feels more empathy for former Councilwoman Heather Post than I do. 

That’s why I hate to exhume the festering carcass of her tumultuous political career from its final resting place on the ash heap of history – but the always controversial Ms. Post was back in the news this week following a citizen complaint to the Florida Commission on Ethics alleging she violated the Florida Constitution by failing to file a required financial disclosure form in 2021.

Normally, Fun Coast residents could look on this as just another in a long line of attempts to besmirch Ms. Post’s reputation and tamp down any future political ambitions – however, former Councilwoman Post is no stranger to fumbling the rules on this important requirement of public office.

As you may recall, in July 2021, the ethics commission found probable cause that Ms. Post violated the Florida Constitution and disclosure laws by making inaccurate “Form 6” filings from 2017 to 2019.

Apparently, the matter was settled when Ms. Post’s modified the statutorily required submissions to add her home, a $300,000 asset, and the salary of about $45,000 paid by the county.

At the time, a press release issued by the commission explained:

“Probable cause was found to believe Volusia County Council Member Heather Post violated Florida’s Constitution and disclosure laws by filing inaccurate 2017, 2018 and 2019 Form 6s. However, no further action will be taken by the Commission due to the particular circumstances of the matter, including the filing of amended disclosures.”

And here we are again?

Heather Post

According to the Florida Commission on Ethics, financial disclosure is required of elected officials (and some government employees with purchasing authority) because it enables the public to evaluate potential conflicts of interest, deters corruption, and increases public confidence in government.

That’s no easy task here in the Sunshine State. . .

In an informative report this week by Sheldon Gardner writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, we learned:

“…a DeLand resident filed a complaint with the ethics commission about the issue saying, “local officials should be held responsible for fulfilling the requirements of the position,” according to a preliminary investigation report.

On Jan. 27, the Commission on Ethics found probable cause to believe that Post “violated Florida’s Constitution and disclosure law by failing to timely file her 2021 Form 6,” according to a press release.

The Commission on Ethics reached out to Post multiple times via email, phone and regular mail to remind her of the missing form.

Post called the Commission on Sept. 12 and said she was injured falling down a flight of stairs in April 2022 and that “she would ‘take an Uber to get the form overnighted’ to the Commission,” according to the report. But the form didn’t come in.”

Now, fines against Ms. Post have accrued to the maximum of $1,500 and the Commission has apparently turned the matter over to a collection agency. 

What gives? 

Councilwoman Post understands better than most that harsh criticism and close scrutiny comes with the territory, and that political accountability is vitally important to the integrity of the process.  

From the beginning of her political career, it was clear Ms. Post had sharp elbows and was not afraid to speak truth to power in service to her constituents.   I admired that.

For her willingness to pushback against an entrenched system, she became a political punching bag – the target of powerful political insiders and their elected chattel on the dais – who tried desperately to pound a square peg of independent thought into the round hole of conformity.

She also became a lightning rod for time-wasting controversy – with a penchant for the shameless self-promotion that has become an essential quality of politicians everywhere.

For good or ill, Councilwoman Post was a polarizing figure – and you will rarely speak to anyone familiar with Volusia County politics who have ambivalent feelings about her service.

But this is different. 

Ethics rules help avoid potential conflicts of interest and undue influence – and Ms. Post should understand the importance of that – especially in Volusia County.   

In my view, the filing requirement is equally important to campaign finance disclosures – an itemized reporting which allows We, The Little People to see which insiders and industries are attempting to purchase the loyalty of malleable candidates for elective office with massive contributions. . .

In my view, public officials have an obligation to follow the rules that ensure trust through transparency and protect our system of governance from the cancer of corruption.    

Quote of the Week

“Mayor Derrick Henry gave out several awards to local leaders who have helped the shelter flourish. Recipients included Chitwood, Halifax Health President and CEO Jeff Feasel and AdventHealth Daytona Beach CEO David Weiss. Chitwood gave his award to Alphonso.

The mayor also recognized P&S Paving head Tim Phillips for getting into an agreement with the city to harvest and buy dirt near the city-owned First Step property that helped fund shelter construction.

“Tonight is really about saying thank you to those who made the shelter come to fruition,” Henry said.”

–Reporter Eileen Zaffiro-Kean, writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Shelter fundraising gala raises $247,000, celebrates successes and benefactors,” Monday, February 6, 2023

I don’t make this shit up, folks. 

You read that right – Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry thanked P$S Paving for “getting into” a no bid, “behind closed doors” agreement which allows them to haul incredibly lucrative fill dirt from city-owned property.


I have no idea why Mayor Henry would bring up what has become the most contentious aspect of the incredibly controversial (and expensive) First Step Shelter, but I am glad he did, because it gives us an opportunity to take a sentimental stroll down a very dark and slippery Memory Lane.

You may recall that in December 2018, the News-Journal’s Eileen Zaffiro-Kean broke the story, “Daytona homeless shelter $2 million dirt deal upsets competitor,” which shined a bright light on how former Daytona Beach City Manager James “The Chiseler” Chisholm – who is now Interim City Manager in the Lost City of Deltona (?) – quickly cobbled together a no-bid arrangement with P$S Paving ostensibly to pull his fat ass out of the fire over runaway expenses related to the First Step Shelter construction:

“When budget numbers for First Step Shelter construction were released Aug. 29, the figures showed the project’s total cost had soared to nearly $6 million — twice the amount discussed publicly.

The backlash was immediate, and so was the effort to bring down the price. City documents The News-Journal recently obtained show that within a day or two, City Manager Jim Chisholm was already working on a plan to raise at least $2 million to help cover the shelter bill.

The fundraising idea centered on a deal with the Daytona Beach company doing foundation and site work on the shelter, P&S Paving. The idea was for P&S Paving to slash its charge by more than $1 million, and then send another $1 million to City Hall in exchange for exclusive rights to dig a 40-acre retention pond on city property and keep the valuable fill dirt extracted from the huge hole in the ground.”

Naturally, that didn’t sit well with other local contractors who weren’t entitled to the same access to publicly owned dirt that P$S Paving received:

“The arrangement, which the City Commission approved a month later, also gives P&S Paving a shot at digging at least one more retention pond on the sprawling 626-acre city property that includes the 10-acre shelter site.

But not everyone is thrilled with the agreement.

With the recent construction boom leaving fill dirt in more scarce supply, Halifax Paving President Tad Durrance would have loved a shot at digging that pond and hauling off the dirt. But he never got a chance, and neither did anyone else.

Bids were never solicited. The agreement with P&S Paving was hammered out behind closed doors, city records show.”


I do. 

Who cares about transparency and basic fairness in the public procurement process when Mayor Henry and The Chiseler needed quick political insulation after the massive price increase was revealed for that White Elephant in the hinterlands west of town, eh? 

My ass.   

Now, things seemed to have worked out swimmingly for everyone involved.

Unless you are a Daytona Beach or Deltona taxpayer…

In May 2022, the Daytona Beach City Commission gifted P$S Paving a 21-month extension on a 6-1 vote allowing them to continue hauling dirt from the taxpayer owned site without a price hike. 

According to a News-Journal article, earlier this week, in an off-the-agenda ambush, the Deltona City Commission opted to extend the incredibly lucrative contract for Acting City Manager Jim Chisholm – gifting him a salary and benefits package worth $200,000 – including $87,400 per six-month period – 80-hours of personal leave, and “…the city paying the full premium for health, dental and vision coverage for the manager and his spouse. The city also will contribute to a private pension plan in an amount equal to the Florida Retirement System. The city also will provide Chisholm with a vehicle “including insurance, maintenance, repair and fuel” and “without restriction of personal use.”


So, how’s things around your worksite or small business?

According to a 2022 United States Census report, the per capita income in Deltona is just $25,711 – with 11.1% of residents living in poverty…

Yeah.  I know.   

Sounds like The Chiseler’s patented “behind closed doors” sleight-of-hand is paying off. 

For him, anyway.   

It’s times and absurdities like this when I really miss Big John…

And Another Thing!

Admittedly, I’m biased – but I could not be prouder of the City of Holly Hill!

This week, Pictona at Holly Hill – the $6.3 million state-of-the-art sports, wellness, and entertainment venue that began as a public/private partnership between the City of Holly Hill and founders Rainer and Julie Martens – attracted over 1,100 players from throughout the nation to the Association of Pickleball Professionals Daytona Beach Open.

The tournament will see players of all skill levels participating in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles matches, with some 750 amateur and 350 professional pickleball players participating.   

The tournament will continue through Sunday. 

In a real boost for area hospitality advertising – livestream coverage of the tournament will begin tomorrow on ESPN+ – with a Championship Sunday broadcast Sunday evening at 8:00pm on ESPN2. 

This national exposure speaks to the increasing popularity of the sport – and serves as a much-needed marketing opportunity for the Daytona Beach Resort Area.  

Photo Credit: Daytona Beach Visitors & Convention Bureau

Pictona at Holly Hill is a beautiful 49-court facility which includes twelve covered courts – and a covered championship court seating 1,200 – which can host professional pickleball events with seating for 1,600 during staged arts and entertainment events – along with a clubhouse, restaurant, education and wellness facilities, and other amenities open to both members and the general public. 

Last year, at the urging of city officials, Pictona at Holly Hill received the largest single grant in Volusia ECHO history when the Volusia County Council approved a $2.5 million public investment in expanding the facility.

I can tell you from personal experience that Holly Hill City Manager Joe Forte, the elected officials that comprise one of the most stable local governments in Volusia County, and the city’s dedicated staff get the most from every tax dollar they receive while providing a full range of responsive and efficient essential services to a grateful constituency.

In fact, Holly Hill sets the gold standard for fiscal stewardship, inclusivity, and the lasting benefits of working cooperatively to reach civic goals – and the community’s burgeoning success has been hard-fought – and a longtime coming. 

In my view, Pictona at Holly Hill represents the essence of what a successful public/private partnership should be – a mutually beneficial investment which pays solid economic dividends across the host community and the region.   

Kudos to the “City with a Heart” – and Pictona at Holly Hill – for hosting another worldclass event!

If you are interested in watching some exceptional match play between some of the best pickleball players in the sport, general admission tickets for the APP Daytona Beach Open start at $15 with premium box seats, stage seating, and second floor suites overlooking the championship court available. 

Doors open at 8:00am daily!

Pictona at Holly Hill is located directly across from Holly Hill City Hall at 1060 Ridgewood Avenue (US-1).

That’s all for me.  Have a great weekend, y’all!      

WTF? Petty Politics Reaches a New Low in Deltona

You are going to see this again on Friday in something I call “Angels & Assholes.”

Something tells me you will be able to decern in which category it will appear. . .

I’ve seen some petty shit in my day – but Deltona’s spiteful Vice Mayor Maritza Avila-Vasquez takes the cake.

During three decades in public service working with elected officials of all stripes, I learned a lot about human nature, hubris, and the effect of power and position on small minds – but I’ll be damned if I have ever seen anything like the continuing shitshow staged in a dumpster fire that passes for “governance” in the Lost City of Deltona. 

Maritza Avila-Vasquez

As many frustrated residents will attest – I am not alone in that assessment.  

As the utterly dysfunctional Deltona City Commission begins the expensive process of hiring the umpteenth city manager in its brief history – once again, another distracting sideshow was staged when the thin-skinned Vice Mayor Maritza Avila-Vasquez filed a formal complaint against fellow commissioner Dana McCool with the Florida Commission on Ethics in December.    

What heinous violation of Florida’s Code of Ethics for Public Officers is Avila-Vasquez alleging?

Graft?  No.

Public corruption?  Not even close.

Nepotism?  No.

Violating the State Constitution?  Nah.

Financial disclosures and voting conflicts?  Not hardly. 

According to Ms. Avila-Vasquez – Commissioner McCool engaged in conduct far more monstrous, toxic, and deleterious to the public trust when she used inappropriate language during a testy off-the-dais exchange in October. . .

Yep.  Commissioner McCool dropped the “F-Bomb” to the Vice Mayor.

Good for Ms. McCool.    

In my view, the abject obscenities that have been foisted on the good citizens of Deltona since Avila-Vasquez and her “colleagues” were elected to high office – the political roil, massive staff turnover, behind-the-scenes machinations, rubber-stamping of land use changes, discrimination suits, utter dysfunction at City Hall, and the destabilizing game of musical chairs in the executive suit – has been far more detrimental to the public trust – and city coffers – than any frustrated tirade by a passionate elected official who cares. 

But in the Vice Mayor’s world – all that matters is her delicate sensibilities.

Commissioner Dana McCool

In July 2022, Avila-Vasquez became angry when she did not get her way following a request to then acting City Manager John Peters and Deputy City Manager Stacey Kifolo demanding that an event she supported be advertised by the City of Deltona. 

During an August City Commission meeting, the Vice Mayor publicly excoriated Kifolo from the dais – openly embarrassing a senior city official at a public meeting – something that did not sit well with several of her colleagues, including Commissioner McCool.

According to Avila-Vasquez’ formal complaint, “After that meeting I was verbally attacked by residents accusing me of disrespecting Ms. Kifolo and demanding my resignation due to breaking charter rules and malfeasance.  None of which was legally proven to be correct.”

(To be completely transparent, there was never an independent hearing to determine if the Vice Mayor’s conduct violated provisions of the charter – merely the opinion of the contracted city attorney and assistant city attorney. . .) 

During a subsequent meeting, things boiled over when then Commissioner David Sosa took exception to Ms. Avila-Vasquez’ lambasting of Ms. Kifolo, resulting in Mayor Heidi Herzberg calling a five-minute cooldown. 

Behind the scenes, Vice Mayor Avila-Vasquez approached Sosa outside the public meeting (?) and inquired “what that was all about.”  According to the complaint, during that exchange, Avila-Vasquez observed Commissioner McCool approaching her and “I asked her to stay away from me and walked back to the dais.”

When the meeting ended, according to Avila-Vasquez’ grammatical nightmare of a case in chief:

“I walked down to the chamber to ask a staff member a question.  When I turned to walk out the back door, I was confronted by Commissioner McCool who questioned me as to why I told her to stay away.  She went on to say she was sick of my attitude**comments, & complaining and used many F-bombs.  She said – Who the hell did I think I was?  She kept on using the F-bombs towards me and was very threatening with her words.  I believe at one point I had the opportunity to ask her what her problem was, she responded by saying, “You and your F-bombs words” She walked away still cursing at me., Her final words were; “It is ok.  You have 4 F-bomb weeks left and then your F-bomb Ass will be out of here”.  Elections were 4 weeks away from that day.  There are witnesses to this exchange – both Staff and the Mayor.”

In my view, the crux of the matter is revealed in Avila-Vasquez’ “Statement of Facts,” wherein she states, “Commissioner McColl (sic) was openly politicking for my opponent and was using these events to try and embarrass me in a public meeting.”

Sounds an awful lot like F-bomb political revenge to me. . . 

In September 2022, Acting City Manager John Peters was removed from office after he asked to resign from the role and return to his former job as Public Works Director.  

Then, on or about October 7, 2022, Deputy City Manager Stacey Kifolo was mysteriously “suspended with pay” for reasons that were never made clear – taking her out of the running for the interim role – just as the City Commission took up a dubious “process” (one that had all the earmarks of a foregone conclusion) which ultimately led to former Daytona Beach City Manager Jim “The Chiseler” Chisholm being tapped to replace Peters in an acting status.

So, what fate befell Stacey Kifolo after her run-in with the almighty Vice Mayor Avila-Vasquez? 

Your F-bomb guess is as good as mine. . . 

Nobody who should seems to know – but everyone is certain that another F-bomb lawsuit is most probably in the works.  

Last week, Commissioner McCool responded to Avila-Vasquez’ allegations in an article by Al Everson writing in the West Volusia Beacon:

“She is entitled to her opinion about protocol and decorum, and I’m entitled to my opinion,” McCool said. “People get mad. They work through it, and they move on. I got mad about it. I did some self-inventory. We need to move on.”

I have known Dana McCool since she decided to run for office on a platform of reforming the city’s horribly broken water billing system in 2018. 

As you may recall, Ms. McCool made national headlines when she engaged in a peaceful protest of Deltona’s suspiciously escalating utility bills – paying a disputed $500 water bill in pennies – noting that each of the coins represented a resident that needed a voice. 

Then, she became that voice.

Since being elected to the District 4 seat in 2020, Commissioner McCool has been a staunch, provocative, and outspoken advocate for her constituents. 

While I do not always agree with her politics – I know Ms. McCool arrived at her stance on the issues from hard work, research, and a clean heart.    

Most recently, Ms. McCool joined Eric Raimundo to launch The Smoking Truth Podcast – a lively discussion of political issues and topical concerns in Volusia County and beyond – and I have enjoyed participating in three episodes of the popular podcast. 

In my experience, Dana McCool is enthusiastic, blunt, and forthright – often passionately profane – shooting straight from the hip with no spin or equivocation – all the attributes one wants in an elected representative but rarely gets. 

Unfortunately, Commissioner McCool recently announced that she is battling Stage 4 bone cancer. . .

In my view, Vice Mayor Avila-Vasquez filed a frivolous ethics complaint as a means of political revenge – meant to destroy the character and reputation of a fellow sitting elected official.  In using the Florida Commission on Ethics to her pernicious advantage, Avila-Vasquez helped clog a system that should be working in shifts to ferret out true acts of public corruption in the Sunshine State – not used as a blunt instrument by petty politicians seeking to embarrass a colleague they disagree with.   

That’s F-bomb bullshit.

My hope is that Commissioner McCool will keep fighting the good fight – personally and professionally. 

We need more bold souls doing good work in the public interest – and less faux-shrinking violets playing petty games for their political advantage. 

I’ve said it before, if the City of Deltona is to restore the public trust, then the elected officials must begin the painful process of sorting through the divisive baggage and set a collective vision, putting aside the mean-spirited “gotcha” politics, collusions, and accusatory maneuvers to find a means of working cooperatively with community stakeholders to achieve civic equilibrium.

The good citizens of Deltona deserve better.

Angels & Assholes for February 3, 2023

Hi, kids!

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           City of Ormond Beach

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

— George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

There is never a dearth of things to fume about here on the Fun Coast.

Each week I am faced with the dilemma of selecting who, or what, to opine about in this space. From the petty to the profound, sometimes I get it right – sometimes I miss the mark entirely.   

My editorial sieve is based on a weird ‘unreasonable man’ standard – a simple assumption that if something bugs me, it probably bugs you.

So, here goes:

Over the past week I have watched Granada Pointe – much of which remains an unsightly weed-strewn blotch on Ormond Beach’s main thoroughfare – a place where 2,061 specimen hardwoods were clear-cut and ground into splinters to accommodate a Wawa and drive-thru car wash – transform into an urban campground and commercial parking lot.

What the developer promised would become a tony retail complex with a specialty grocer, posh “shoppes,” upscale retail outlets, a bank, restaurant, and other amenities – advertised as being no different from any other commercial development on Granada Boulevard –  has dissolved into an ugly unimproved veld – complete with a mudhole that rivals a Namibian warthog wallow – an overgrown stain that now serves as the centerpiece of Granada Boulevard – a highly visible monument to the malleability and acquiescence of the Ormond Beach City Commission. 

Inconceivably – five-years on – much of the 32-acres (including 1.3 acres of “mitigated” wetlands) that were publicly sacrificed on both sides of the street remain vacant – with tall grass and a washed-out dirt road replacing the “reforestation” we were promised.

For nearly two-weeks, a large conversion van has been parked on the shabby lot with a hand scrawled placard on the side announcing, “Need Help with Auto Repairs.” 

Each time I pass a gentleman can be seen sleeping soundly behind the wheel while his traveling companion tends to housekeeping duties through an open door. 

Look, I don’t know if our new neighbors are in legitimate need, or merely practicing a variation on the age-old “stranded traveler” ruse, but how much longer before they declare permanent residency?    

If you’ve lived in the Halifax area for any time, chances are you have become anesthetized to the plight of beggars plying their trade, but this is different. 

This isn’t about panhandlers – it is about broken promises – and a disturbing lack of pride in place and appearance that continues to lower the bar in Ormond Beach.     

The citizens of Ormond Beach lost something of real substance in this lopsided trade – a long-standing natural buffer of old-growth suburban wildlife habitat was sacrificed at the altar of progress – on the assurance of an up-market retail center that would complement the character of our community.   

Now this? 

In my view, it is time for the City of Ormond Beach to begin evaluating past performance before rubber-stamping additional projects for developers with unfinished business elsewhere in the community – and hold those who have been granted extraordinary latitude for shaping our main commercial corridor accountable for their broken promises.

Asshole           Gannett Co., Inc.

Earlier this week, those precious few who still subscribe to The Daytona Beach News-Journal learned from executive editor John Dunbar that the newspaper will no longer allow reader comments on its website. 

After explaining that “public discussion and civil debate are crucial to our society,” and the importance of media engagement – which I think means listening to the diverse opinions and perspectives of readers and the all-important competition of ideas that can lead to social and civic change – Mr. Dunbar wrote:

“But for all their benefits, we also know that comment sections across the internet can quickly devolve when they’re left unmonitored. We wanted to be different. Involvement from our journalists in the discussion and moderating when things got off track helped us provide a better experience.

Now, it’s time for a reset and we are hitting pause. Starting Feb. 1, the “View Comments” button will disappear from our articles.”


The fact is, Gannett, the corporate media behemoth that owns hundreds of paid daily and weekly newspapers across the nation – including The Daytona Beach News-Journal – made the decision for Mr. Dunbar. 

Last year, the failing news giant reported it was cutting editorial content across the network after “research” found that “…editorials, guest commentary columns, op-eds and letters to the editor have lost relevance in an age when opinions overflow on social media.”

In addition, Gannett’s crystal ball also suggested that “contemporary audiences” are too stupid to differentiate between objective reporting and opinion content. . . 


The fact is, this was a purely cost-cutting move for a media conglomerate that has been awash in red ink, laying off veteran reporters, selling buildings and assets, eliminating Saturday editions, then homogenizing and regionalizing newspapers while keeping the masthead and lightly peppering what passes for the “local page” with just enough area reporting and headlines like “Roach activity found at (insert Daytona Beach restaurant here)” to keep it marginally relevant to Volusia County.

There appears to be a move afoot across our most sacred institutions to silence citizens – from the machinations in local council and commission chambers to the Fourth Estate that once served as an effective watchdog – our sacred right to participate in our government, and express our individual thoughts and opinions, is under attack.

Increasingly, small-minded politicians and entrenched bureaucrats go to great lengths to quash dissent and civic activism by cloaking their overweening censorship in “civility ordinances,” “rules of decorum,” and other asinine suppressive measures eerily mimicking those of the Khmer Rouge. . .

It has become obvious that some local governments would prefer citizens acquiesce to orchestrated “public meetings” – choreographed shams where predetermined policies and expenditures are rubber-stamped – while the ‘people’s business’ is hammered out behind closed doors and shaped by insider influence, far from the prying eyes of us tax strapped rubes. 

Now, Gannett – the nation’s largest newspaper owner – has decided to ignore the thoughts, concerns, suggestions, and opinions of its readership as a mean of squeezing more profit for some private equity firm or global hedge fund by pushing those of us who consume the “news” deeper into the static and chaos of social media.    

Is it simply the end of an era?   

Or the beginning of something more sinister, darker, and more suppressive, where our ‘powers that be’ pay lip service to our right to free expression, but effectively remove the soapbox from the public square?

A place where We, The Little People receive governmental diktats through canned “press releases” spun by “Community Information Directors” – regurgitated word-for-word by a handful of “journalists” who are handcuffed and gagged by their corporate overseers in Tysons Corner?


Angel               Main Street Merchants

For the first time in a long time, beleaguered Main Street merchants – and Halifax area residents – have real cause for hope. 

In an informative piece by business editor Clayton Park writing in last Sunday’s Daytona Beach News-Journal, we learned that Teresa Doan – the long-time owner of numerous historic commercial buildings on Main Street and beyond – has sold some seventy area properties to CTO Realty Growth, LLC for a reported $5.4 million.

The sale includes fixtures like Dirty Harry’s Pub & Package, the Full Moon Saloon, The Bank live music club, Biker’s Den building, and the Hog Heaven Bar B-Q restaurant, a residential property on Wild Olive, and several vacant lots currently used for itinerant vendors during special events.   

In addition, Ms. Doan sold the former Corbin Building to the City of Daytona Beach last year for a reported $3.1 million. 

According to the report, Doan has entered a lease agreement with CTO which will allow her to operate the current businesses “for the next few months,” which means most of these classic spots will be open for Bike Week 2023 in March.    

Then, the sky’s the limit.

Because things can’t get much worse. . .

For decades, residents and long-time observers have watched as the economic stagnation that devastated much of our core tourist area spread like a malignant chancre. 

As the smart money moved west to Boomtown Boulevard, much of the beachside came to represent an old, ugly, and intractable problem, an embarrassing shrine to human greed and government ineptitude – a turnip squeezed dry – a grotesque thing no longer worth the effort and expense of saving.

Over the years, revenue generated from the “Main Street Community Redevelopment Area” went to bond big ticket items – like the Ocean Walk Shoppes – with many beachside residents complaining that the investment east of A-1-A hasn’t had the “trickledown effect” they were promised.

Another issue has been storefronts that remain vacant most of the year – only open during Bike Week and Biketoberfest – leaving several blocks looking shabby, abandoned, and depressed.

Most agree that the piecemeal strategy of redeveloping Main Street one dilapidated building at a time has been a painfully slow process – but year-round businesses like the popular World’s Most Famous Brewery have proven that Main Street can be more than the twice-a-year epicenter for motorcycle events.

According to the News-Journal’s report:

“Tom Caffrey is the co-owner along with business partner Krista Goodrich of The World’s Most Famous Brewery at 816 Main St.

“Any new blood and new businesses in the area I’m happy for,” he said regarding CTO’s plans for Doan’s Main Street properties. “Hopefully, those buildings don’t get torn down. There’s a lot of history there, but I’m happy that she sold them and welcome any new businesses that come in. I’m super excited about the future.”

I agree. 

Anything is possible with the right vision.

With any luck, the City of Daytona Beach will get out of the way – eliminate the bone-crushing red tape and syrupy-slow pace of the traditional “redevelopment” process that has sent many potential investors to surrounding communities – and allow intrepid entrepreneurs to transform Main Street into the vibrant draw our beachside so desperately needs.

Quote of the Week

“The tolls were budgeted to bring in about $5.5 million this past fiscal year, continuing a recovery from the big hit they took during the pandemic. How big a hit the county will take from last year’s hurricane damage remains to be seen.

Since the start of county beach management in 1988, this money was always meant to supplement the costs of running the beach. It doesn’t come close to paying for everything.

Free local beach driving would likely wipe out about $1 million of beach toll revenue. That means the money would need to be made up somehow just when the county is scrambling to pay for storm damage along the 47-mile beach and toll collections are down because of beach ramp closures.”

–Columnist Mark Lane writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “The return of the endless beach toll debate in Volusia County,” Sunday, January 29, 2923

I’m a huge fan of the venerated columnist Mark Lane. 

His Footnote column is the first thing I turn to each Sunday – the last vestige of purely local flavor in what remains of our regionalized ‘hometown’ newspaper.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the “endless beach toll debate” – he got it wrong.

Mr. Lane is not a beach driving enthusiast – preferring to visit traffic-free sections of the beach – and that’s okay. 

To each their own, I say.

But I disagree with his basic premise that Volusia’s Atlantic coastline somehow needs to be “run” by demonstrably inept bureaucrats who have turned the beach I grew up on into an overregulated, uninviting, and sign-polluted money grab that bears no resemblance to the great natural resource we all enjoyed before the county assumed “management” in 1988.

To be clear, the current debate is not over beach driving – but the right of Volusia County residents to enjoy vehicular access to our beach without being forced to render unto Caesar twice – once in our exorbitant property taxes and again at the toll booth.

A free and open beach was a major draw for families visiting the World’s Most Famous Beach before Volusia County erected gates at approaches – with toll booths staffed by contract tariff collectors – who lecture beachgoers with a litany of rules, regulations, and a final admonishment to follow the confusing mishmash of do this/don’t do that signage, wooden poles, and traffic cones.  

Many long-time locals that I talk with cannot tell you the last time they enjoyed a day at the beach – turned off by the double-taxation of a $25 annual duty to Volusia County for the privilege of participating in our century-old tradition of beach driving – and legendary run-ins with officious county wardens.

Others are still righteously pissed over the pernicious gifting of 410 linear feet of our beach as a cheap spiff for the developer of the Hard Rock Daytona.


In 2018 when Sons of the Beach – Florida’s premiere beach driving and access advocacy – stood up for our interests and filed suit to challenge the removal of cars behind the Hard Rock – Volusia County flexed its muscles and sued taxpayers with our own money while confederating with a private entity to limit our access to a public beach.  

That abject greed and bureaucratic aggression left a festering wound that has never quite healed.

With the Volusia County Council now comprised exclusively of self-described “conservative Republicans” – ostensibly committed to the freedoms and liberties only possible with smaller government, lower taxes, fewer fees, and less regulation of our everyday lives – why such a hurdle to talk openly about this prominent issue at a public meeting?   

The decision to discuss removing beach tolls for residents resulted in handwringing from Councilman Danny Robins – who mewled that eliminating tolls would cut off a prime source of government revenue – namely the $5.5 million that is shoveled into the greedy maw of the insatiable machine each year from beach tolls – before trotting out the boogeyman of raising property taxes to cover the loss.

Not a peep about cutting the thick rind of fat off that bloated hog. . . 

Unfortunately, Councilman Matt Reinhart signaled his own opposition to removing beach tolls, saying “Let’s get our beach back before we worry about [a] free beach,” before claiming that most people he speaks with say they want the county to keep the fees.

My ass.

At the end of the day, the vote to merely discuss this hot button issue passed on a 4-2 vote with At-Large Councilman Jake Johansson and Danny Robins voting against even talking about fee relief for their strapped constituents.

Where does District 5 Councilman David Santiago fall on the issue? 

Good question – he’s still on vacation. . .?    


Hey, I’ve got some ideas!

How about we get Volusia County government off our beach and allow the coastline to heal itself naturally – then pare down the bloated Coastal Division and eliminate those parasitic six-figure salaries, limit their scope to access maintenance, lifesaving, and sanitation services – remove barriers to free entry, limit building east of the Coastal Construction Control Line, and stop spoiling the natural beauty of the shoreline with ugly poles, signs, and barriers.

While we’re at it, how about we move toward a more open and transparent government in Volusia County – and become a place where We, The Little People get the values we voted for – then demand that those who hold themselves out as ‘conservatives’ put this swollen bureaucracy on a diet, reduce fees and taxes, “right size” county government, start holding highly paid senior administrators accountable, and limit regulatory intrusion into a day at the beach?

Food for thought:  Knowing what we know now – I wonder what the result would be if the 1986 referendum that granted Volusia County control of our beaches were placed on the 2024 ballot? 

And Another Thing!

Welp, another season of rubber chicken galas celebrating the contributions of our civic elite is well underway and it appears that, once again, your intrepid scribe has fallen short. . . 


Look, I don’t want to burst your bubble, John Q. – but when the haughty “awards season” comes to an end – you and I won’t be standing atop the podium, rubbing shoulders and slapping backs with the Halifax area upper crust

So, don’t look for your name (or mine) to be called when the illustrious “J. Saxton Lloyd Distinguished Community Service Award” – or the coveted “Lou Fuchs Outstanding Leadership Award” – is bestowed.  (I’m pretty sure Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Fuchs would be mortified if they could see the condition of the community they helped build. . .)

Nope.  Not this year.

Or any other year, for that matter. 

Because it’s not about us – and it never will be.

The point is that those who think they so richly deserve these ostentatious accolades (mainly our “Rich & Powerful” overseers) get to pass the same “awards” amongst themselves year-after-year-after-year – much like they pass the same nickel around – while you and I, the great unwashed hordes who are expected to pay the bills and keep our pieholes shut, look on admiringly. . .


Last week, the exclusive Civic League of the Halifax Area – Volusia’s stodgy Old Guard – which bills itself as “a non-profit and nonpartisan group of community leaders dedicated to civic engagement,” bestowed the “Cici & Hyatt Brown Lifetime Achievement Award” on our High Panjandrums of Political Power, Forough and Mori Hosseini, at the organization’s annual soiree at the equally private Oceanside Country Club.

(Don’t get too excited about adding your voice to the Civic League’s discussion – membership is by invitation only…cuts down on the riffraff, I guess)

In a recent article by reporter Jim Abbott writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, we learned:

“Forough and Mori are two very special people,” Cici Brown said in presenting the award. She praised Forough Hosseini for her dedication to Food Brings Hope, the non-profit that provides food and educational resources to 1,500 underprivileged children in 32 schools in Volusia and Flagler counties.

In his remarks, Hyatt Brown focused on Mori Hosseini’s accomplishments as chairman of the Board of Trustees of both the University of Florida and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In accepting the award, Mori Hosseini called education “the fuel to the fire of our democracy.”


Unless, of course, you happen to be a child living in abject poverty in the tiny hamlet of Pierson who went to bed hungry last night after the omnipotent House of Hosseini pulled Food Brings Hope’s nutrition and educational programs following a David and Goliath powerplay with the Town Council in December.


I do.  

And if you are one of the 35% of children living below the federal poverty line in Pierson – I will bet you remember it too.

Every time your empty tummy rumbles. . .

Screw that maudlin crap, Barker!  Not NOW!

This is the time set aside each year for our ‘movers & shakers’ to don their finery and fawn, preen, and celebrate the success of all the right last names – namely our godlike oligarchs who control everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tide here on Florida’s Fun Coast – not be reminded of hungry and homeless children, okay?


On Tuesday, the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual awards banquet at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort beginning at 6:00pm. 

Interestingly, the evenings “feature presentation” includes a Q&A with Senator Ben Sasse who was recently named president of the University of Florida.

According to reports, Senator Sasse will give his first address at the Chamber gala – not in Gainesville…


Because he was told to.  That’s why. 

According to the News-Journal’s business editor Clayton Park:

“Mori Hosseini, chairman of UF’s board of trustees, confirmed Sasse’s public remarks at the event will be his first as university president.

“I asked him if he would do it and he agreed,” said Hosseini, who lives in Ormond Beach and is the owner, chairman and CEO of Daytona Beach-based ICI Homes.”

I’ll bet he did…

In addition, Mr. and Mrs. Hosseini’s daughter, Nellie Lupoli, will be installed as the chamber’s 2023 board chair. 

Here’s hoping Ms. Lupoli will be the first Chamber Chair to finally get some movement on the long-promised (by every previous chair in recent memory) revamp of the tragically blighted East International Speedway Boulevard gateway. 

Now, here’s the big news:

According to the Daytona Chamber’s website, this year’s “J. Hyatt Brown Enterprise Award” – the Big Enchilada of Halifax area accolades – will be presented to…

Wait for it…

No.  The winner is not your small business that kept local families employed during the darkest days of the pandemic, or a Downtown Daytona shopkeeper who struggled mightily to keep the doors open and lights on during the interminable bridge project, multiple streetscape “improvements,” and fought to stay afloat as the floodwaters rose during back-to-back tropical storms.

Sadly, it is not the intrepid Ted Teschner, who kept the torch burning at his iconic family-owned restaurant Mr. Dunderbak’s for 47-years as the Volusia Mall crumbled around him.    

No.  Not this year.   

Drumroll, please:

On Tuesday, the “J. Hyatt Brown Enterprise Award” will be presented to – Volusia County Emergency Management… 

Yeah.  I know. 

I know. 

Last week, a dear friend – anticipating how completely devastated I would be when the recipients of this year’s various civic awards were announced and, per usual, Barker’s View wasn’t on the list – presented me with this coveted honor to recognize my continuing penchant for jousting at political windmills: 

I’m honored. 

Under the circumstances, it was completely appropriate.

That’s all for me.  Have a great weekend, y’all!


Please join me on the latest edition of The Smoking Truth Podcast with Dana McCool and Eric Raimundo for a raucous and wide-ranging discussion of the issues with the irrepressible political strategist Mike Scudiero which is out this week! 

Please find Episode 20 here: