Angels & Assholes for March 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:

Angel               State Attorney R. J. Larizza

Last week, the nation was galvanized by the brutal beating of a paraprofessional at Flagler County’s Matanzas High School by a 17-year-old student.  This week we learned that the “student” has three prior battery arrests on his juvenile criminal history.

That video was hard to watch…

A school security camera captured the brutal image of the student – described by The Daytona Beach News-Journal as 6-feet, 6-inches tall and 270 pounds – rapidly advancing on the teaching assistant and delivering a Butkus-like body blow that sent the woman flying to the floor rendering her unconscious.

With his victim prone and defenseless, the student relentlessly punches, kicks, and stomps the woman – pummeling her limp body until staff members and School Resource Deputies intervene. 

According to the News-Journal’s report:

“A deputy’s body camera video shows the handcuffed student being led out of the school. As he walks by where the woman is being treated, the student tried to spit toward her and said he would kill her when he returned, according to the charging affidavit.

In the video the student is heard yelling “Stupid (expletive). I’m going to (expletive) kill you.”


Given what I witnessed on that video – that should be taken as a credible threat

From the vantagepoint of over thirty-years in law enforcement, this barbaric attack met all the elements of the first-degree felony crime of Aggravated Battery on a School Board Employee, and on Friday, Seventh Judicial Circuit State Attorney R. J. Larizza appropriately charged the juvenile as an adult, and he is being held at a Juvenile Justice facility in Daytona Beach.  

The victim – a mother of two from Palm Coast who works two jobs to provide for her family – was initially hospitalized due to her injuries and is recovering at home.

Now, let the handwringing begin…

Almost immediately, the “But, But, But…” crowd began their mewling chorus of – “But he was an Exceptional Education Student…,” never mind that each day thousands of special education students attend classes without physically mauling instructional personnel.

“But he was living in a group home…,” each day hundreds of students dealing with homelessness, abuse, and parental abandonment attend school and peacefully interact with students and staff.

“But it’s the school’s fault.  The district was negligent.”  Maybe so.  I don’t know what security procedures the district has in place to protect vulnerable teachers and staff from unprovoked acts of violence – but that does not justify the ferocity of this attack by a 17-year-old thug who it appears set out to beat his teacher to death with his bare hands.    

“But it’s not the child’s fault.  He is not a threat.”  Yes, he is.  Given the savagery depicted in the video – and his credible threat to kill the victim – in my view, the “child” (who is four-months shy of his 18th birthday) represents a clear, present, and on-going danger to the paraprofessional and the public.  

The fact is, there is no logical or legal justification for his shocking brutality, and if we are to reverse the grim trend that has turned many Florida schools (including Volusia County’s) into a dystopian Thunderdome – and the streets of Central Florida into a war zone – then it is high time the legislature gets serious about strengthening our horribly broken juvenile justice system.

And fast.

Recently, a teacher in Volusia County described being physically attacked, bitten, and verbally assaulted by a student in her classroom – apparently an occurrence that happens far more frequently than is reported – and a critical reason why so many educators are rightfully fleeing the profession in fear for their safety. 

For far too long, Florida’s shambolic juvenile justice system has been a farcical game of catch and release – a laughable revolving door where even violent offenders are shunted into various namby-pamby “diversion programs” – and allowed to return to the very environment that both countenanced and cultivated their abhorrent behavior and provided a ready supply of victims.

All while the Department of Juvenile Injustice expected a different outcome…

Last week, the world was shocked when a woman was shot and killed in Pine Hills – then the suspected predator returned to the scene and brutally murdered a 9-year-old child, a television news reporter, and wounded the child’s mother and a photojournalist. 

It was later revealed that the suspect is a 19-year-old with an extensive juvenile record.

“At 19, he has a lengthy criminal history to include gun charges, aggravated battery and assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and grand theft charges,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said during a news conference last week. 

A career criminal by 18 – a suspected mass murderer at 19 – and no one in the juvenile justice system saw this coming?


In my view, it is time Governor Ron DeSantis and our state legislature return focus on that which is truly important and start tackling the harsh reality of juvenile violence – a clear and present danger that is threatening the lives of residents, destroying our public education system, and causing potential visitors to think twice about vacationing in a combat zone…  

Kudos to State Attorney R. J. Lariza and his outstanding staff for having the courage to stand strong for the citizens of the Seventh Judicial Circuit and vigorously prosecute the suspected perpetrator of this horrific crime.   

Enough is enough. 

Asshole           County of Volusia

Buckle up, kids.  This one boggles the mind…

In 2019, Volusia County launched the highly successful Nurse Triage Program designed to alleviate pressure on advanced life support ambulances and EMS personnel by allowing nurses collocated with 911 dispatchers to handle non-emergency situations by phone from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Communications Center.

According to reports, between December 2019 to March 25, 2021, the triage program managed 2,167 calls and assisted nearly 400 patients avoid an emergency response, which freed advanced life support ambulances 176 times.   

In 2021, Volusia County’s E-911 Redirect Triage Program received national recognition from the National Association of Counties. 

At the time, former Volusia County Emergency Medical Services Director Jason Brady said, “…the even bigger reward is seeing the positive impact that this program has had on our county’s emergency response system and the residents who rely on it to serve their medical needs.”

In the view of many, the success of the triage program was measured in lives saved as advanced life support services were kept available for those who truly needed them, while helping alleviate the crush of patients who are regularly stacked like cordwood at area emergency rooms, now that our elected dullards have allowed massive overdevelopment to surpass available healthcare resources, utilities, and transportation infrastructure.    

Interestingly, Volusia County prominently features the benefits of the nurse triage program on their paramedic recruitment site, telling potential EMS employees that it “…helps identify low-acuity calls for service that could receive treatment at an alternate care site, thereby freeing up ambulances and emergency rooms for patients with higher acuity complaints.”

So, is this award-winning program being expanded? 

No.  Not here.   

This week it was announced that the triage program is being scrapped by Volusia County – with the five part-time nurses assigned to the program summarily dismissed in “good standing” at the end of the month.

According to a recent report in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Those familiar with the decision also said the program cut came as a surprise to people on the team.”

I’ll bet it did.   

It probably came as quite a surprise to some of our elected representatives on the Volusia County Council as well…

Want another surprise?

Those Volusia County employees who have recently been charged with Driving Under the Influence and relegated to “administrative duties” will be assigned to carry on parts of the program going forward.

That’s right.  This once nationally recognized program has become a dumping ground.

What will become of the remainder of the program’s budget – which was advertised at $284,000 when it began in 2019, you ask?    

Well, according to the News-Journal, Director Judge tells us, “The county plans to divert funds that would have gone toward the program “into other areas” to keep residents safe, Judge said.”

Talk about a convenient (if not skeevy) way to “divert” previously allocated public funds, eh? 

I don’t make this shit up, folks…

Of course, the official spin is that some of the non-emergency patients assisted by the triage nurses were ultimately transported to area emergency rooms because many federally qualified urgent care facilities have waiting lists and require a copay (cha-ching) – which means those without the ability to pay must be seen at an ER – ultimately, not as many patients were sent to alternative facilities as senior officials would have liked.  

According to the News-Journal report, as a result, Volusia County Emergency Services Director Jim Judge said the program “…wasn’t worth keeping financially.”

“And so, you know, as a result of that, ultimately the patients ended up going to the emergency room, and many times going by ambulance to the ER.” Judge said. 

Yeah.  You know…

So, what does that mean for Volusia County residents who relied on the program – and the demoralized EMS personnel who have long-decried adverse working conditions, wait times, lack of support, the hemorrhage of qualified employees, and gross mismanagement that have placed those of us who pay the bills and suffer in silence at risk for years

In my view, this insightful blurb from those in the trenches says a lot:   

“People familiar with the decision to cut the Nurse Triage program, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns about hurting their careers, said they are concerned that the change will end up hurting residents. They expressed concern that people with true emergencies might have to wait longer as more resources are devoted to non-emergencies.”


Whenever I read “…spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns of hurting their careers,” and, “(Director) Judge said Emergency Medical Services “did have a couple of DUIs,” it tells me all I need to know about the culture, discipline, and leadership of Volusia County Emergency Services – and the clear organizational need to lower the bar and keep even compromised employees because they cannot recruit and retain qualified personnel.

Which begs darker questions…

Like why was the E911 Nurse Triage Program selected as the parking spot for county employees who have been charged with a serious criminal traffic offense? 

In my view, the spate of DUI arrests should sound a klaxon with someone (anyone?) in what passes for upper management in the Ivory Tower of Power in DeLand. 

Is it unaddressed traumatic stress?

A toxic work environment? 

A failure to recognize and assist employees in crisis?

A lack of organizational discipline and professional standards? 

All of the above?

Trust me.  We will never know

I doubt most of our out-of-the-loop elected representatives will either.

Because introspection and strategic thought – the evaluation of strengths and challenges, seeking internal and external input, listening to the concerns and suggestions of first responders, and improving service delivery – requires accountability and responsibility, which is anathema in the senior echelons of Volusia County government.

Unfortunately, don’t expect anything to change.

This culture of mediocrity and fierce protection of the status quo will continue until our elected representatives finally have their fill and demand that County Manager George “The Wreck” Rectenwald begin meeting the oversight requirements of his incredibly high paid position beyond the bare minimum required to avoid external scrutiny.   

With a budget now in excess of $1 Billion, Volusia County taxpayers deserve better.

Quote of the Week

“What remains of a long-planned effort to create a model community and an economic-development showcase between DeLand and Orange City is morphing into something different.

Something with more warehouses and more densely packed housing, perhaps.

With a 5-2 vote Feb. 16, the Volusia County Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission voted to recommend that the County Council amend the old Southwest Activity Center blueprint.

One change would add warehouses and distribution centers — such as the Amazon facility in Deltona — as permitted commercial uses. The second change would set the residential density at four to eight units per acre and reduce the minimum lot sizes for single-family homes from 7,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet.”

–Reporter Al Everson, writing in the West Volusia Beacon, “New vision takes shape for Activity Center,” Friday, February 24, 2023

Sounds like the same old “vision” to me. The disastrous strategy of shoving ten-pounds of shit in a five-pound bag to maximize profit over quality of life and labeling it “progress.”   

And Another Thing!

Did you watch the State of the County Address this week?

Me neither. 

I just couldn’t bring myself to waste another hour of my life being schmoozed by smiling elected and appointed public officials, who, after gorging themselves on a “free lunch” paid for by government contractors (hoping We, The Little People won’t notice how badly it reeks of reciprocation), try to convince us how great we all have it here on Florida’s Fun Coast

Rah, Rah, Rah – Sis, Boom, Bah…

From what I’ve read in the funny papers, it sounds like County Chair Jeff Brower expended a lot of hot air trying to convince himself (because none of the “Who’s Who” of Volusia County give two-shits what he has to say) that after being publicly humiliated and politically castrated by Volusia’s Old Guard for the past three years, somehow he still holds out hope for “working cooperatively for positive change” (?).

Of course, the spectacle was punctuated by an incredibly expensive choreographed production emphasizing how this wholly compromised system somehow “works for us.” 

Kum ba yah, my Lord, Kum ba yah…


Honestly, I just could not do it this year…

According to reports, Chairman Brower went on one of his ineffective but passionate rants about “controlling growth” – now that malignant sprawl has all but overtaken the width and breadth of Volusia County – and you can bet there was happy talk of “responsible development” – a subjective term that, to many sitting politicians, means it is irresponsible not to monetize every square inch of this sandy piece of land – flora, fauna, and existing residents be damned.   

According to a synopsis by reporter Sheldon Gardner writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Chairman Brower also used the opportunity to eulogize area springs, lakes, and rivers:

“Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower said improving water quality should be the council’s top priority in a speech Tuesday at the State of the County event at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach.

“Those rivers are sounding an alarm. Those springs are sounding an alarm that require immediate and continuous action,” Brower said. “Swimming is not permitted in three of our five springs because bacteria counts are too high.”

“Four of our rivers, including the Halifax, which is the northern part of the Indian River Lagoon, the Indian, St. Johns, Tomoka River, as well as Spruce Creek are all on the Impaired Water List of the Clean Water Act,” he added.”

My God. 

I think I would have had greater respect for Chairman Brower if he had simply approached the podium, held his head in his hands, and openly wept for three-minutes…  


I was also baffled by a section in the pageant’s 45-page glossy program that clearly misplaced Low Impact Development under the “Protecting natural resources” section (sandwiched between advertisements for P$S Paving and Masci General Contractors) which touted a “…$75,000 grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity” to develop “recommendations” to fill a “companion guidebook.”

Wait.  Recommendations?

Say what?

Volusia County government has been kicking the rusty low impact development can down the dusty political road for years – no closer to requiring developers adopt runoff management, pollution control, and effective flood protection measures now than they were five-years ago when our Director of Growth and Resource Mismanagement Clay Ervin first hit the trail with his horseshit LID dog-and-pony shows.

Remember?  I do. 

Now, Volusia County plans to spend $75K to compile suggestions for local governments and property owners? 


In keeping with the redundant (and repugnant) year-over-year smokescreen of “Things are looking up!” Brower ended with the sanguine trope:

“That’s who we are. We are a special place and a special people. It is that love for place and neighbors that can make our county with God’s help the best place to live, work and blah, blah, blah…”

Sadly, we’ve heard it all before. 

Look, I may be a rube – but I understand the basics of classical and operant conditioning – and, over time, the simple formula hot stove = pain has taught me to not put too much faith in what a politician says while he or she is belching their “free lunch.”

I prefer to trust that which I see with my own eyes, rather than what some slick tax-funded agitprop would have me believe.

As someone who pays attention to our deteriorating surroundings, ruminates on the effects of uncontrolled sprawl while trapped in four light cycles at (insert East Volusia intersection here), sees the abysmal condition of our beach and core tourist area, stands slack jawed amid reports that inmates have been tacked out nude in the inner recesses of the county jail, drives by massive glass and steel monuments to corporate welfare, reviews campaign finance reports to identify who (and what) is controlling my destiny, watch as residents are bled dry with fees and taxes while humbly begging permission for a three-minute audience with their exalted monarchy, and looks on helplessly while what remains of our wildlife habitat and green space is slashed-and-burned to satiate some greedhead’s perverse idea of “progress,” as hundreds of our neighbor’s homes repeatedly flood due to overdevelopment, it takes a lot more than a slick video and a neutered politician in a garish necktie to change my perceptions.

In my jaded view, the true state of Volusia County is a harsh reality for those working hard to feed and house families in this artificial economy, and the daily experience of many of our neighbors is a far cry from the shameless puffery and whoopla staged on Tuesday…

Better luck next year.

That’s all for me.  Have a great first weekend of Bike Week 2023, y’all!   

9 thoughts on “Angels & Assholes for March 3, 2023

  1. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has been a horrible failure for decades. It does absolutely nothing other that suck up taxpayer money. I was indirectly involved with them for 30 yrs of my career. To say it was frustrating is an understatement. Many of the children continued to be involved, and move into the adult system.


  2. Unfortunately we have state attorneys letting people with over twenty prior and no bail to create another crime the next day..DeSantis is going after the Orange County State Attorney for lack of prosecution.This is the same man proposising to give parents the money it costs for their kids going to a public school and let them use that money towards charter or private schools.Yes my friends who are teachers are getting hit by thrown books etc across Florida.If Randi Weingarten cared her union instead of donating 95% of donations to the dem party took care of its members we don’t need her ranting about student loans.Brower is weak and all the building going up in Daytona and Ormond proves it as property zoned on my corner of Willianson and Hand for an adult facility is now rezoned for rentals.Lost respect for the man I voted for.Hope you all stay safe driving this week as we will count all the bikers who will crash.


  3. Perhaps the term “agitprop,” which is basically designed to get the recipient to actually do something is misapplied. If anything the slick (but well done) presentation was pablum designed to let recipients know everything is in good hands. “Agitprop,” portmanteau of the Russian words “agitatsiya” (agitation) and “propaganda” (propaganda), refers to an intentional, vigorous promulgation of ideas – to agitate. (It did seem to agitate you, but that was probably an unintended consequence…)


  4. Now begins 10 days of being held hostage from traveling by these rude bikers. I witnessed bikers (6) driving erratically on rt. 40, no cops around.

    Living in this daytona area reminds me of the comedy F Troop.
    From the school system of placating staff to county elected officials who lead by the past.

    One thing I look forward to is reuniting Gonwandaland.


    1. Marc for some reason restaurants not saloons in Ormond are empty for dinner.We were at Houligans off Granada at 6PM last night and it was empty.Is it people are afraid of bikers like the moron who was chased from old Dixie highway giving cops the finger and going past a red light on Granada and get t boned by a pickup a lesson for those doing 65 in a 30 and like you said not a care in the world for people who I’ve here as they group up.
      Watched the news on TV yesterday and in too many states the FBI has been given the names of parents protesting the stupid decisions of school boards and they are also being sued by the state.Private or charter schools if you can afford it as DeSantis is going to sign a bill to give what the state pays public schools to the parents to decide.


  5. For years the “powers” in our political system have allowed for the denigration of our public schools. I see it both statewide and in our county. Object: divert students from public schools to private schools. Of course some disadvantaged students are allowed to go to the private schools. Are they cherry-picked? As the best students are weeded out of the public schools, the public schools become less favorable. This has been an insidious trend since Brown VS the Board and the schools became integrated. Add to it school prayer. My tax dollars to teach someone else’s religion. Now, because the public schools are mixing the “Exceptional Education Students” with the other students they have to take on that burden. Private schools do not have to do that. Teachers have several choices. Leave education entirely, teach private schools at lower pay and less benefits, or continue being mistreated by parents, the legislatures, and the so called children they teach. When I graduated from DBCC, I went to UCF to further my education as a teacher. When I told that to the person who was to sign me up, he told me to see Mr. Jones. He was one of the Counsellers . He told me that teaching was a very bad choice. They are disrespected, constantly harassed by politicians, and their pay was low. He suggested, law enforcement. I took his advice and I’m glad that I did. That was in 1972. Things are worse now.


  6. Mark, I am surprised you didn’t mention the governor as an a-hole for picking on two of our local school board members for his political gain. I hope your not scared to do that like many are. While Persis may be as WOKE as the governor says, Mrs. Burnette is nowhere near that! She is all class!!! She believes in accountability and backs it up. I hope the young girl who represents us in District 3 can learn from Mrs. Burnette on how this is supposed to be done!


      1. Don’t know that what you assert is actually happening since you don’t provide a source despite posting about it a few times, but anyone can legitimately report a concern to the FBI. Whether the FBI acts is another thing; they sure didn’t when they got tipped off about the Parkland school shooter.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s