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.
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?
Public corruption? Not even close.
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.
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.
5 thoughts on “WTF? Petty Politics Reaches a New Low in Deltona”
This needs to be broadcast far and wide! If the dysfunctional City of Deltona is ever going to garner any level of credibility the F-bomb ing unless F-bombing Vice Mayor needs to be run out on a rail! How does she retain office!? She brings nothing to the table other than her holier than all bullshit attitude. A certain C word comes to mind. An f-bombing C word at that.
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“All the Chisler’s Children”
This is classic key stone cops diversion so the “Chiseler” can run wild hand picking a successor that is Amenable to the “Entrenched Rotten to The Core Corruption” of the “Chisler Regime”
Seems like somebody (perhaps Commissioner McCool is the bigger adult) should start out by simply apologizing for the language. It’s actually the right thing to do. Then perhaps the other will do the same. Either way the “ethics complaint” will be laughed at and given short shrift.
After tonight’s Commission meeting hijinks, the answer is they are working hard to NOT gain the public’s trust. This is regarding Jody S bringing forward the motion to extend Chisolm’s contract by 2 years. The man’s contract allows them to extend 6 months at a time, so why not just do that instead of being a drama Queen. 😡
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If that chick can’t stand a little salty language, she’s in the wrong business. She sounds like a typical bully who can dish it out but not take it. I wonder how she’s going to react to appearing in the Asshole column?