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.
What heinous violation of Florida’s Code of Ethics 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 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
Asshole Former Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post
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?
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.
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.”
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?
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.
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!
5 thoughts on “Angels & Assholes for February, 10, 2023”
Dropping an f-bomb in public discourse is not “bold,” but stupid. Totally understandable in the heat of the moment – everyone is human. But it is foolish to honor and thereby encourage it.
The F-Bomb was NOT dropped in public. It was after a meeting, off camera.
Paving companies, oh hell, anything to do with automobiles are politically powerful. They have to be to survive. Combine that with real-estate and the possibilities of a big rip-off are inherent. That’s why the need for oversight is so important. Smaller cities do not have the resources to stand up against them sometimes. This fragmentation is the reason why the cities on Volusia’s east coast would not consolidate in the 1980’s. Those powerful groups knew that it would be more difficult to control a very large city than a hodgepodge of smaller political entities. This stuff will never end.
Reedy Creek was passed.Heather Post was much better and took more shit than Nikki Fried who hid a $700.000 home given to her by her man who is still married and they are engaged for 2 years and both heavy with marijuana lobbyists.Derrick Henry was found with mail in ballots and only was given a small fine and brain dead Charlie Crist made him quit as a commissioner.Screw him .Smoke all over Clyde Morris and Nova as you go down hand .Second fire there in 2 days under control as was 130 acres in flames .If you want the facts watch an Orlando cable news station as DAYTONA BEACH NEWS JOURNAL is brain dead.Got an email from the Palm Beach Post a Gannett rag that no comments allowed anymore .Gannett sucks as a news organization.Have a great day as I wait to find out who sent the balloon over Alaska today that we shot it down
Woman who shot her husband on the 11th floor the death floor at Advent will be prosecuted per a judge today.Married 52 years and he begged to take his life because we are not Canada that will let you die.How strange that the wife had a suicide pact but got a panic attack when she was to kill herself.Judge in the meantime we have lots of pieces of shit walking the streets of Daytona and Ormond who have 40 felonies and killed people.This woman is 75 .Waste our tax money and give her life in jail as you let shit walk the streets of our county who need to be jailed