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 Florida Senator Jason Brodeur, Seminole County
You don’t have to agree with me.
In fact, I learn best from those who look at civic issues through different eyes and engage in thoughtful debate – the vigorous competition of ideas and diversity of opinion that spurs a larger discussion of the issues we collectively face here on Florida’s Fun Coast.
Apparently that free and open exchange of ideas across the “blogosphere” is making some very important policymakers nervous – I guess because it lets them know We, The Little People are paying attention to how the sausage gets made.
In my jaundiced view, that is the true contribution of even crude blogsites like Barker’s View.
Before I became a hyper-opinionated blowhard, I enjoyed a productive professional life serving as Chief of Police for the wonderful community of Holly Hill.
As a visible representative of local government, I often took the brunt of public criticism – in coffee shops, on the streets, in living rooms, and over the phone – I listened to residents’ concerns, never forgetting the importance of accessibility and allowing an opportunity for citizens to ask questions, provide a suggestion, or just vent.
In retrospect, it was one of the most important and fulfilling parts of my job.
When serving a small town, you come to understand that acting as a sounding board for your constituents is a healthy part of community life.
Naturally, I was also subject to withering criticism – most of it deserved, some not – and sometimes the name-calling (especially those barbs questioning my lineage) became quite pointed and personal.
That comes with the territory.
With experience, smart public officials learn to use even misplaced criticism as a civic barometer – because there is often a kernel of truth in even the most cock-eyed point of view.
Unfortunately, some self-centered politicians take these gripes personally – an affront to their massive ego, political ambition, and the false sense of infallibility that often accompanies powerful positions where everyone laughs at your jokes…
The fact is, if you serve in government – that dark and cloistered place where tax dollars feed the machine that both makes and enforces the rules – then I suggest you grow some hard bark.
I subscribe to what remains of The Daytona Beach News-Journal because (occasionally) it contains the last remaining flakes of local reportage – area stories, explanations, and editorials told by some incredibly talented journalists who actually live here.
That’s important in an era where corporate media conglomerates are busy regionalizing and homogenizing hometown newspapers across the nation – and staying apprised of area happenings now comes with being lectured, ad nauseum, by some moonbat from the Palm Beach Post and other Gannett properties – all spewing slanted sermons that are bulk packaged and passed off as “news.”
But as an informed citizen – I hold my nose and read it anyway.
Then, I think critically about the issue, sort fact from conjecture, consider sources and motivations, view the information presented through the prism of experience and perspective, then form my own opinions – neither always right, nor always wrong.
Because the thought of living in an echo chamber controlled by partisan political tribes determined to suppress any message not in lockstep with their party line is grim.
In my view, censoring the views of others and demanding conformity – even fealty – to state-sponsored spin is counter to our democratic principles and inalienable freedoms.
Frighteningly, we seem to be inching closer to that dictatorial precipice everyday…
Now that local governments are doing everything in their considerable power to curtail the ability of the average citizen to address their elected representatives and make themselves heard on the issues – passing insidious “civility ordinances” and subjective rules of decorum that only apply to taxpayers (as our elected overseers behave anyway they see fit) while limiting when, where, and how the governed can prostrate ourselves before our increasingly monarchal rulers – blogs, podcasts, and social media platforms remain the few citizen soapboxes left for those who cannot afford to purchase a chip in the game.
In my view, this censorship cloaked in a velvet glove is morally and constitutionally wrong.
In fact, there is nothing more damaging to the fabric of an open society than state sponsored suppression of free speech, silencing alternative opinions, and squashing the unfettered competition of ideas – especially when those ideas stir strong emotions, challenge the status quo, and ruffle the feathers of those in positions of power.
Last week in this space, I hit the pinnacle of editorial unanimity by pissing off literally everyone who read my rambling screeds – especially my goofy take on Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower’s State of the County Address.
Hey, “I call ‘em like I see ‘em,” and eventually I get around to goring everyone’s sacred ox…
However, that animus was quickly followed by real concern from many Barker’s View readers who were shocked by a now squashed senate bill introduced by Florida Senator Jason Brodeur, which, among other tyrannical edicts, would have required:
“If a blogger posts to a blog about an elected state officer and receives, or will receive, compensation for that post, the blogger must register with the appropriate office, as identified in paragraph (1)(f), within 5 days after the first post by the blogger which mentions an elected state officer.”
Under the proposed law, the failure of a blogger to file these state mandated reports would have resulted in fines of “$25 per day per report for each day late, not to exceed $2,500 per report.”
You read that right.
I cannot think of anything more patently un-American.
In my view, Bobby Block, executive director of the Florida First Amendment Foundation, said it best:
“From my own experience, the only places where journalists would ever have to register with the government have been apartheid South Africa, the countries behind the Iron Curtain, the USSR, Zaire, Burkina Faso, and socialist Ethiopia,” Block said. “… I don’t think Florida being in that company of those countries is a good thing.”
More to the point, last week, Charles C. W. Cooke, senior writer for the acclaimed conservative editorial magazine National Review, accurately called Sen. Brodeur a “moron,” and described his bill as “…an unconstitutional, moronic disgrace, and the guy who wrote it, Senator Jason Brodeur of Seminole County, is an embarrassment to the GOP.”
Finally, Governor Ron DeSantis – who is said to have been “caught off-guard” (?) by Brodeur’s proposal – addressed the growing national firestorm following his State of the State Address on Tuesday:
“Every person in the legislature can file bills. I see these people filing bills and there are these articles with my face on the article, “bloggers are going to have to register with the state,” attributing it to me. That’s not anything I’ve ever supported, I don’t support. I’ve been very clear on what we are doing.”
With that, Brodeur’s asinine legislation was dead on arrival.
Now, the darker questions remain.
How could a senior elected official propose a bill in direct contravention of the First Amendment and Florida’s state constitution which holds, “…no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press”?
And to what strategic purpose did Governor DeSantis wait so long to address this blatant attack on our fundamental right to criticize powerful policymakers without the chilling effect of requiring government registration?
Being an incredibly astute politician and Harvard trained lawyer, Gov. DeSantis must have known of Sen. Brodeur’s ill-thought intent to propose this baldfaced censorship and the righteous shitstorm of controversy that would ensue?
And what will become of our fundamental liberties if/when another despotic asshole ramrods a similar bill through a supermajority giving “elected state officers” the all-encompassing dictatorial power to do anything they damn well please without editorial challenge?
Because, at this point, the only thing I am certain of is that I will never register my personal and political thoughts with the “appropriate” Thinkpol office in Tallahassee.
Nor will I pay a fine for expressing my independent views and opinions on the ethics, acts, omissions, abject idiocy, and shady motivations of those who accept massive campaign contributions from influential special interests, then enshrine themselves on a pedestal in the Ivory Tower of Power.
Yeah. Not going to happen.
That’s not bluster and braggadocio.
It is an incredibly difficult and hard thought stand by a disenfranchised citizen who took an oath and devoted my life to public service – someone who, if Senator Jason Brodeur had his way, would be considered a criminal and formally sanctioned by the state for expressing an opinion contrary to that of the burgeoning Monarchy in Tallahassee.
Gideon Tucker was right: “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”
Asshole Volusia County Council
In 2020, Volusia County residents took a strong leap of faith, ignored their best instincts, and overwhelmingly voted to continue the Volusia ECHO and Forever programs.
Originally established in 2001, then renewed by voters in 2021, these tax supported programs were created to fund environmental, cultural, historic, and outdoor recreation opportunities and the acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands for conservation.
In fact, the ECHO Volusia Forever Alliance sold us on the continuation of the programs by answering the question, “What are ECHO Grant Awards?”
“They are matching funds that are granted to successful applicants to help pay for facilities that are open to the public, in one or more of the four ECHO categories.”
Further, the Alliance explained to wary voters, “To qualify for a grant, applicants must show that they have matching money equal to the amount of the grant they are seeking from the ECHO fund.”
As with most programs administered by Volusia County government, in the lead-up to the vote to renew ECHO and Forever, taxpayers became concerned about the manner and means by which the funds were being administered – including a lack of transparency in the process – which resulted in the formation of citizen oversight committees.
It became known as the “trust issue” – and is the exact reason Volusia County voters rejected a proposed half-cent sales tax in 2019.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most Volusia County residents were under the distinct impression that ECHO funds would be used to bring new and innovative opportunities to life by partnering with non-profits and municipal governments with an innovative project of countywide interest who agreed to the grant match and performance requirements.
Instead, on Tuesday, by unanimous vote, the Volusia County Council approved a “Direct County Expenditure” bundled as a “5-year plan” which will now place divisional capital improvement expenditures – specifically the repair and replacement of existing infrastructure – on the back of the Volusia ECHO program.
Trust me. Our councilmembers did not come before the taxpayers with their hat in hand, a novel idea, and matching funds in their briefcase like other ECHO applicants are required to do.
Instead, with the wave of a bureaucratic wand, the Volusia County Council approved a list of 43 projects at 32 sites to be funded using $15.4 million in ECHO funds – with 24 of those projects identified as “improvement of current assets.”
Increasingly, council meetings are like Wednesday on the Mickey Mouse Club – “Anything Can Happen Day” – and it helps when you have a staff of professional shills, fluent in bureaucratese, who can justify any appropriation using a liberal application of bullshit, smoke, and mirrors.
For instance, Brad Burbaugh – who holds the lofty position of Director of Resource Stewardship (a title you will only find in government) said – “It’s a strategic investment plan, informed by the grassroots needs of our community that balances both improvement of current assets, new construction projects and restoration.”
Call it what your conscience allows, Brad – I call it sneak thievery – supplanting normal and recurring repair and replacement expenditures with funds earmarked for ECHO grants, then selling it to us rubes who pay the bills as a cost savings…
To ramrod the massive expenditure, Mr. Burbaugh exhumed a dusty 2020 resolution passed by the Volusia County Council authorizing the ballot initiative and permitting the council to use ECHO funds for “direct county expenditure for County government projects or by grants-in-aid awards.”
(You remember that resolution, right?)
In addition, Burbaugh masked the foul odor of another bait-and-switch shim sham wafting from the council chamber by assuring our “new” elected officials that their previous counterparts dipped into ECHO funds for 22 projects totaling $16,119,596 by “direct county expenditure” since 2007…
Look, I don’t know about you, but when I voted to extend the ECHO and Forever programs, I had no idea that those dollars would ultimately be used for cultural and historic amenities like repairing long neglected beach ramps, walkovers, and fishing docks, renovating public restrooms at county parks, and replacing aging playground equipment.
You know, those preventive maintenance, repair, replacement, and improvement obligations that most responsible government entities budget for each year – rather than quibble resolutions, twist ballot language, and stretch programmatic intent to shoehorn anything and everything that has long been overlooked but can no longer be ignored?
Apparently, Councilman Don Dempsey wasn’t concerned about the county dipping into ECHO funds, only why more of the loot wasn’t coming to West Volusia.
According to a report by Jarleene Almenas writing in the Ormond Beach Observer, Dempsey questioned:
“…why many of the projects were located on the east side of the county, with only a couple facilities in the northwest side of the county being included in the plan.”
Burbaugh said that the proposal was based on the county’s needs and that the projects were taken from the divisional budgets.
“It may be worth to look at finding more needs on the west side,” Councilman David Santiago said. “Balance it off.”
Seriously. I don’t make this shit up, folks…
Frankly, this harkens back to the bad old’ days, when ECHO became little more than a slimy slush fund – our tax dollars looted to purchase off-beach parking lots – and millions of dollars squirreled away to fund a mysterious (now defunct) plan to extend the Daytona Beach Boardwalk – with little, if any, public input in the process.
I hope this serves as a wake-up call for those lethargic watchdogs on the ECHO and Forever Oversight Committees – those We, The Little People who pay the bills rely on to recognize these shameless money grabs – and preserve the integrity of these vital programs for future generations.
In Volusia County, the more things change, the more they stay the same…
Asshole Deltona City Commission
Some conspiracy theorists define a “Shadow Government” as:
“…a family of theories based on the notion that real and actual political power resides not only with publicly elected representatives but with private individuals who are exercising power behind the scenes, beyond the scrutiny of democratic institutions. According to this belief, the official elected government is subservient to the shadow government, which is the true executive power.”
If you live in Deltona, that should sound eerily familiar…
At this abysmal time in the city’s history, is there another explanation?
On Monday evening, despite the vehement objections of civically active residents – and two incredibly capable alternatives, the Deltona City Commission sidestepped the venerated century-old Daytona Beach law firm of Cobb & Cole – and Winter Park attorneys Fishback Dominick, who have served Central Florida for over eight-decades – instead opting on a 5-2 vote to recycle the civic lightening rod Marsha Segal-George as the city’s “new” legal counsel.
To their credit, Mayor Santiago Avila and Commissioner Dana McCool stood firm for the residents of Deltona – remembered the hard lessons of history – and voted against doing the same thing while expecting a different result…
Following the most divisive period in Deltona’s shambolic history, why would any conscientious elected representative vote to retain an attorney who is still listed as a “senior associate” with the very law firm they opted to fire just weeks ago?
Shocked Deltona residents were extremely vocal in their opposition to more of the same from Segal-George – who has been enmeshed in every civic nightmare this tormented community has experienced in recent years.
Before the vote, one by one, citizens approached the dais and used terms like, “screwed us over,” “hasn’t served the city well,” “has brought division,” “too much baggage,” and “someone who has wronged us in the past,” to express their experience with Ms. Segal-George during her tenure as city attorney.
When the vote was taken, the uproar from the outraged audience required that Mayor Avila gavel a five-minute recess.
In my view, a recent social media post by Deltona civic activist Dayle Whitman accurately summarized the crooked road that brought the commission back to the very place they started – and gave voice to the utter exasperation many residents are feeling:
“They pretended to be interested in the candidates, who gave up their time to be put on display, so the commission could make us feel like they gave a shit, when they didn’t.
The request to get residents input on hiring a new legal team was in fact Deja Vu, an instant replay of the October 12, 2022, special commission meeting.
Well guess what Deltona they pulled the same shit sham on all of us last night.
The only hope we have is to get outside help involved in saving our corrupt city.
It’s going to take more than the handful of people who stand up and fight for our city at every commission meeting.
And I’m not sure we can do it. Deltona is the laughingstock of Volusia County, maybe even the state.”
A “shit sham” is right…
For instance, despite the raucous opposition of residents – and with questions still unanswered about when and how Interim City Manager Jim “The Chiseler” Chisholm will be replaced by a permanent charter officer – on Monday, by unanimous vote, the City Commission contractually ensconced him in the position for another year.
With The Chiseler now commanding “$200,000 per year in equal bi-weekly payments of $7,691.31” plus the perquisites and privileges of a High Potentate – concerned residents are demanding to know when a legitimate process will be finalized to recruit a permanent manager.
Unfortunately, per Mr. Chisholm’s modus operandi – hard answers to these important civic enquiries are less than forthcoming – leaving more Deltona taxpayers beginning to question exactly who, or what, is controlling this puppet regime behind closed doors…
Deltona’s leery residents are right.
Something stinks in Deltona.
Quote of the Week
“For the low, low price of $3 million, you could be the next owner of the parcel that once housed the Hotel Putnam in Downtown DeLand.
Earlier this week, a for-sale sign sprung up outside of the dirt lot that, as of just last month, no longer boasts the 100-year-old hotel. The building was torn down when an engineer reported that it had become structurally unsound and could collapse at any time.
Realtors with Colliers are hopeful that Florida’s hot real estate market will lead to a quick sale.
“Developers are still very active in these challenging times. They’re looking beyond what people think will be a short-term recession,” Colliers Executive Vice President Casey Babb told The Beacon. “Florida continues to grow very well, and we don’t see that slowing down in Central Florida.”
The location is a prime piece of real estate, he said, and he thinks the City of DeLand will be receptive to a housing project that looks to capitalize on the Putnam’s history, possibly allowing as many as 120 units on the site, which has Downtown Commercial zoning and is in the Downtown Historic District.
Real estate firm Axia Partners purchased the building in September 2021 for $2.3 million. When The Beacon spoke with a representative from the company in January, he said the plan, if the building were to come down, would be to build something “meaningful” in its place.
A representative from the company was unable to immediately be reached…”
–Reporter Noah Hertz, writing in the West Volusia Beacon, “FOR SALE: The site of the former Hotel Putnam,” Wednesday, March 8, 2023
Welp. There you have it, folks.
Now that the historic Hotel Putnam has been reduced to dust and hauled off – 100 years of West Volusia history and memories gone in a roar – it’s salvaged bricks now being sold as a fundraiser by (ironically) the West Volusia Historical Society – the vacant lot is on the real estate market…
So much for the assurance from our now uncommunicative friends at Axia Partners – the Utah-based real estate investment group that purchased the hotel last year and promised DeLand resident’s that the firm was “…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.”
Personally, I like the idea of Beacon readers Frank and Kim Schnidman, who suggested asking “…Axia to simply deed the property to the City of DeLand for the purpose of a downtown park and green space The lasting legacy Axia Partners can create for themselves and their investors is to donate the $3 million property to DeLand for a City Park, “Putnam Park, a gift of Axia Partners.” Then the company and its investors can take a tax deduction for this charitable contribution. This would truly “leave a lasting legacy in the market”!!
Don’t hold your breath…
And Another Thing!
“Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on (political) offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.”
Things are beginning to heat up for the 2024 elections with Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington announcing his run for the District 28 Florida House seat now held by incumbent Rep. Tom Leek who has filed to run for Florida Senate District 7.
The announcement came following Tuesday evening’s Ormond Beach City Commission meeting.
I found it incredibly interesting that political opportunist and sitting Ormond Beach City Commissioner Susan Persis filed to run for Mayor Partington’s still warm seat on Tuesday morning at 11:00am…
Personally, I lost all confidence in Commissioner Persis in September 2022, when – with Hurricane Ian’s winds still raging outside – I received a message from a Barker’s View reader who was rightfully mad-as-a-hornet over tone-deaf “Vice Mayor” Persis, and her husband, Volusia County School Board member Carl Persis, aloofly posting their European vacation photographs on social media while their frightened constituents were weathering the howling onslaught here at home.
What I found most cringeworthy was when Vice Mayor Persis doubled-down on her cluelessness by marking herself safe from Hurricane Ian – from Europe…
Although Commissioner Persis evacuated to Europe and wasn’t there for Ormond Beach residents when we needed the leadership of our Vice Mayor most – it appears her unbridled hubris and pathological political ambition won’t permit her to do the right thing and step aside for someone (anyone?) who would put the needs of their constituents over their own when the chips are down.
Old Thomas Jefferson said something else that rings true:
“The government you elect is the government you deserve.”
That’s all for me. Have a great final weekend of Bike Week 2023, y’all!
14 thoughts on “Angels & Assholes for March 10, 2023”
THANK YOU !!
I am so grateful you share this information
But at least you make it amusing Barker!
“And what will become of our fundamental liberties if/when another despotic asshole ramrods a similar bill through a supermajority giving “elected state officers” the all-encompassing dictatorial power to do anything they damn well please without editorial challenge? ” Keyword: supermajority. The idea that one party should rule (seemingly the driving force in politics today) will ultimately be the end to our republic.
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There were protests after protest to……
“Fire Jim Chiseler Chisholm” for years
So easily everyone forgets
Google the Asshole, and he is a Royal Asshole🤡
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Lived in Palm Beach and the Post is a Dem rag like what Gannett did to DBNJ.Getting disgusted with the Ormond Beach Observer as the Palm Coast Observer seems to run it and now left wing News Service of Florida got in and less local news and lots of anti DeSantis dislike.Partington won hist last two races because he had a non contender that lost twice to him.Partington and others got money from PACS with money from ICI home and that great Tomoka land company plus many others who own these politicians.Glad I am old and don’t have to grow up in this shit run country of corruption,crime,open borders and horrible public schools.Life was great when I grew up even in Brooklyn and we had the weekend family dinner like on Blue Bloods.
Bikers go away, this region is not large enough for your thousands of disrupters.
You people are rude and cause noise pollution.
Elected leaders, cancel next year, do what Mr. Brown of Brown & Brown did, banned biker events on Beach Street.
Day 13 of being held hostage in my home by bike event. The roads are terribly clogged, I95 rolling backup yesterday of 16 miles due to accidents. 5 traffic light changes on rt. 40.
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I completely agree with the sentiment that a free and open exchange of ideas is essential to a healthy democracy. It’s unfortunate that some politicians feel threatened by this, as it only serves to further alienate them from their constituents. However, I do have a question – how do we ensure that the competition of ideas remains respectful and productive? It’s easy for discussion to devolve into name-calling and personal attacks, which ultimately detracts from the larger issues at hand. How do we foster a culture of constructive debate and disagreement?
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There would be a lot less name calling if you could just eliminate all the Corrupt Political Assholes….
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Joanna has a great point! These days it’s so hard to just have a conversation about anything that people don’t agree on without people getting upset, offended or angry/nasty. It’s a shame we can’t simply listen and learn anymore, although we have so many hot topics that push people’s buttons…
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In the last few years as I watch in amazement neighbors,friends and family have become divided over politics , policy and social issues of this country.I have friends we don’t see or talk to anymore because of the heightened rate of hate if you belong to a different political party then them.Shame we now have neighbors we dont go out to dinner with because all they talk about is politics.Our family which is across this country has a rule and that is no discussion at all about politics .This country is in a great division and I have no answer.We must unite or we are no longer the greatest country in the world. We will always have asshole politicians and bikers.
Given what passes for democratic process on the Fun Coast, it is not surprising that many citizens forgo the privilege of voting and participating in civic discourse simply because their participation won’t change the outcome. The fix is always in, and the selection of people with questionable ethical standards like the Jim Chisholms and George Rechtenwalds of our slice of the world are a reminder that we get the government we elect.
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ECHO…. REALLY MARK? REALLY? The citizens committee that is there to oversee the ECHO program voted unanimously to approve the recommended expenditure requests. AND MARK 70+ percent of the voters voted to approve ECHO…Don’t you remember? HOLY F—! If you didn’t listen to the ECHO committee meeting from February 17, 2023 you should. Don’t blame the County Council they were just following the recommendations of the ECHO Committee. Oh my how I remember the ass beating I took as I begged to not have the renewal of ECHO go back before the voters before the rules and the successes and failures of ECHO could be reviewed. I certainly also mentioned my fear of budgets being padded with ECHO funds, do you remember? 70+ percent of the voters get what they deserve and the rest of us have to deal with it. Hypocrisy much? This is what happens when we care about our own favorite projects being completed and we are willing to toss our ethics and morals into the wind. Don’t complain when you allowed yourself to be part of the problem, you know part of the 70+ percent. I remember you and Big pushing back and I remember you both talking about how we would be protected because there was a citizens committee. But But But there was going to also be a citizens committee for the 1/2 cent sales tax as well. We agree on much but you sold your soul on this one.
Amazing how Senator Brodeur’s cencorship bill was immediately liked by the high princes of the schoolboard Jesse Thompson…we shouldn’t be surprised as the picture of her wearing panties on her face for a mask is still making the rounds….appropriate since her face is so far up the Governor’s a$$h01e…why can’t New Smyrna get a “real person” on the school board? Someone who can actually think for themselves? Here we go again…