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! 

7 thoughts on “Angels & Asshole for February 17, 2023

  1. Hopefully Flagler Beach does it better than Deltona as they hire a city manager interim. I wonder why one of their three finalists, Katrina Powell, “forgot to mention” on her resume she worked for the city of port orange last year for only a hot minute? I hope New Smyrna never goes through this mess!


  2. I generally agree with you but this Beach toll thing is ridiculous. Come on for a Volusia resident it $25 a year. If you really love the beach as much as you like your bourbon you’d not blink paying that. Give that up and focus on erosion and other threats to it.


    1. Marc you forgot spring break ends April3.Traffic from snow birds and overbuilding are making driving rough.Avalon and 10.000 home,DR Horton 1000 homes and back from the dead 250 units. on Tomoka and 40 behind Walgreens .Is it moving time yet?Restautautants with long waits from New Smyrna to Flagler.


  3. A few years ago, I was researching a route for my boat from the St. John’s River south to the Intercoastal Waterway. I happened upon many ancient hydrological studies. It seems that, even in the 1880s, that the Deltona area was a well-known swamp. The Mackle Brothers drained the swamp to build Deltona. They, apparently, left the swamp creatures unscathed. As for the Ormond Beach water problems, the western development in Ormond and Daytona Beach has caused the infrastructures in the eastern cities, (i.e.: Holly Hill, Daytona Beach east of Clyde Morris, South Daytona, and New Smyrna Beach) to deal with the discharge of fluids that are no longer absorbed by nature. Yet, the people who are complaining seem to elect the same people to address the problems and expect a different result.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you live in Ormond Beach and the guy who is running against the mayor is a 2 time loser against him whats wrong with this scenerio?.Property sold at Williamson and Hand to a assisted living facilitiy .Building on wet lands as my development of 250 homes gets flooded when they fill it in.


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