Angels & Assholes for April 28, 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:

I’ve got a confession to make. 

Despite living in blissful denial – I’m getting older. 

Look, I realize that my boyish good looks – the result of a healthy diet of Tullamore Dew and Marlboros – can be deceiving, but the evidence is mounting that I am no exception to Chaucer’s proverb, “Time and tide wait for no man…”

This week, I underwent cataract surgery to correct this horrid gauze-like glare in my left eye – and by the time you read this – the exceptionally talented ophthalmic surgeon Dr. Todd Geis and his wonderful team will have restored Superman’s X-Ray vision!     

Unfortunately, the preoperative drops have made it all but impossible to focus on this damnable computer screen…   

So, I hope you will forgive this week’s mercifully abbreviated edition of Angels & Assholes.

With any luck, your curmudgeonly scribe will be back next week with clearer vision – and more weird thoughts and asides on the political horseshit and civic machinations that make life here on Florida’s fabled “Fun Coast” so incredibly interesting – and infinitely frustrating… 

Thanks so much for your support and loyal readership.  It means more than you know.

Now, let’s take a look at the week that was:

Asshole           Volusia County Council

For the uninitiated, the term “Political Posturing” (a/k/a “Moral Grandstanding”) is defined as the use of hollow speech, handwringing, and superficial legislative action as a means of generating political support through emotional appeals. 

It often manifests as a weird form of limbic synchrony where elected poseurs ape the actions of politicians at the next level of government – mirroring the faux-concerns and partisan diversions of their counterparts by seeking solutions to problems that rarely exist – then tout their moral superiority while camouflaging the resultant censorship and heavy-handed overreach as necessary societal protections.    

Trust me.  This théâtre de l’absurde is not limited to one political party or the other…

Meanwhile, the real threats facing those unable to protect themselves from the true civic, social, and environmental evils that exist in our society go unaddressed while politicians primp and preen. 

Recently, the Volusia County Council used routine appointments to the innocuous Library Advisory Board to find answers to the non-existent problem of “inappropriate materials” in the children’s section of Volusia County Public Libraries… 

In fact, the “problem” is so infrequent we typically trust trained librarians to use a reasonable and effective vetting process to keep harmful material out of the hands of children. 

According to reports, of the tens of thousands of books available in Volusia County libraries, just four were challenged in the past two years. 

Only two were removed. 

But Councilman Don Dempsey is not satisfied with what works.  He feels we need a new, more controversial and timewasting mechanism for “monitoring” content.

“How can we monitor the materials that are put in the library, so that if we have something that’s been controversial, that we could vote on it – or this board could vote on it?” Dempsey asked.

“How do we monitor what’s been given to our kids?”

Let’s see…  How about trusting their parents? 

So, instead of relying on qualified librarians, vigilant parents, and proven processes, the County Council – sitting as self-styled omniscient inquisitors – will now use their infinite wisdom to rule on suspected heresies and sorcery – giving a thumbs up or down according to the rules of the Directorium Inquisitorum?


Look, as a grandfather of two children under the age of six (with one on the way!) I do not want them subjected to inappropriate material – especially at a public library – no parent or grandparent does.

And that is why there are effective processes already in place.       

Of the myriad civic and social issues we face here on the “Fun Coast” – serious threats to the public welfare, environment, beaches, infrastructure, and our quality of life that are within the actual purview of our elected and appointed dullards – public libraries are rarely on the list of things keeping Volusia County families up at night.    

What I found most disturbing was the fact At-Large Councilman Jake Johansson began the theatrics by making a motion to disband Volusia County’s Library Advisory Board altogether – a citizen committee that makes recommendations to the County Council, County Manager, and Library Services Director on matters relating to the development and improvement of one the few county operated services that works well.

In my view, by condescendingly bashing the contributions of committee members, Councilman Johansson telegraphed that he’s not interested in hearing from those who dedicate their time and talent to advisory boards – suggesting that if a group of people want to get together to discuss library issues and “wear the same color t-shirts,” they can merely genuflect before the Monarchy, prostrate themselves as any other villein, and express their suggestions during the allotted “public participation” period gifted to their subjects.

“I question the reasoning behind having this board, as well,” he told his fellow council members. “Is this more of a group of people getting together and chatting about how to make our libraries better? Can this not be done outside the constraints of a committee or a board?”

My God.  The abject arrogance of these ill-informed assholes is mind-boggling

And our ‘powers that be’ question why no one wants to serve on boards and committees? 

Equally disturbing, during the ensuing discussion, the two highest paid bureaucrats in all the realm – County Manager George “The Wreck” Recktenwald and County Attorney Michael “I’ll Get Back to You on That” Dyer, who collectively command a combined annual salary (minus benefits and perquisites) of some $478,000 – were unable to articulate the process by which books and materials are selected for Volusia County libraries.   


Another area that Mr. Recktenwald is personally responsible for – yet remains utterly clueless of the essential functions and processes he ostensibly oversees.

Why is that?

In my view, at the prices “The Wreck” commands, his bureaucratic ineptitude is getting too blatant to ignore.  Or are we expected to wait until another inmate is found tacked out in four-point restraints, in the nude, in the bowels of the Volusia County Jail – or worse? 

I’m asking.  Because those on the dais of power won’t – and this routine inability of senior appointed officials to respond to policymakers with even rudimentary answers in a public setting is concerning…  

At least it should be.

So, you and I will now be subjected to yet another infamously longwinded Dog & Pony Show to address a threat that does not exist (to be held at a time when Councilman David Santiago doesn’t have something more important to do and can attend the meeting) by Library Services Director Lucinda Colee (who, no doubt, has better things to do than read some phonics-based PowerPoint to our elected dullards).

Folks, this contrived virtue signaling and political posturing is what happens in the absence of strong leadership, commons sense, or substantive citizen input…     

Asshole           Thin-skinned Politicians

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

–Thomas Jefferson

Wow.  If Mr. Jefferson could see us now, eh?  

During my professional life, I was often accused of having “sharp elbows” – moving through the world, as William Safire wrote, “…giving and receiving offense” – a strong advocate for those policies and initiatives I thought were important to the community I served. 

Guilty as charged.

Only now, looking back, can I see both the necessity, and folly, in that aggressive approach…

With experience, career civil servants learn that, in government, sometimes the only way to make things happen is to challenge the status quo, make a conscious effort to avoid the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality, and develop relationships with subordinates, peers, and superiors that can survive honest differences of opinion and allow the vigorous debate of complex issues without creating animosity and destroying relationships. 

In my view, anything else is disingenuous and a disservice to constituents.

In February, Orange City Mayor Gary Blair got his gilded knickers in a twist over a contentious encounter with another council member who (God forbid) addressed him using “foul language.”

As a result, Lord Blair took offense and called for a formal “code of conduct” for elected officials to “ensure a civil discourse at public meetings, in public arenas, or when communicating via electronic means.”


In my view, Mayor Blair – or any other elected official – who enforces “respect and courtesy” through official edict as a means of projecting a faux sense of collegiality is being less than honest with those who pay the bills – and setting a dangerous precedent for limiting free expression on the dais of power.

What is it with these thin-skinned elected officials today? 

Many politicians we elect to high office at all levels of government seem capable of the most despicable and meanspirited forms of personal destruction during what passes for political campaigns – real cutthroat politics – then, once elected, clutch their pearls, and suddenly transmogrify into a sniveling Caspar Milquetoast…  

Typically, the first time a politician learns that not everyone agrees with them – or fails to genuflect in reverence when they pass on the street – their massive ego recoils in horror and they begin looking for a legislative means of forcing “civility” from their constituents and colleagues.

Because a terse exchange in a public park “didn’t sit well” with Mayor Blair, the taxpayers of Orange City dished out public funds to City Attorney William Reischmann to research, craft, and present a meaningless “civility pledge” at a recent meeting. 

In an informative overview by reporter Chris Berger writing in the West Volusia Beacon, we learned:

“According to the pledge, the goal is to “ensure a civil discourse at public meetings, in public arenas, or when communicating via electronic means.”

Reischmann said he believes being kind to each other won’t be that difficult.

“I don’t think it’s a hurdle too high, but it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Reischmann told the council.

The pledge, Reischmann pointed out, was not a guarantee of civility but a recognition of it.

“This basically says we just all play nice in the sandbox and we treat each other with respect,” Blair summarized. “When we’re out and in public, we watch our language. You know, we just treat each other like decent human beings, as we should.”


Orange City needs a formal public policy for that?

Now that Mayor Blair has had his 15 minutes of unwarranted attention, I sincerely hope his delicate sensibilities have been soothed.  Because I am certain the taxpayers of Orange City will be thrilled to know their City Attorney’s valuable time can now be focused on more pressing civic matters…

Look, in my view, the legislative process should be raucous – a spirited debate of the issues – a freewheeling, transparent, and public competition of ideas with substantive input from those whose lives and livelihoods will be directly affected by the resultant policy – not some sterile exercise by restrained elected officials who fear offending the Mayor Blairs of the world… 

Robust debate is one of the foundational principles of good governance, but as recent bills filed by state lawmakers have proven, many politicians have no qualms using the power of the legislative process to silence their critics, preempt home rule, and further consolidate power at a higher, and far less responsive, level of government.   

In my experience, respect and professional courtesy are earned – not legislated.

If an elected official has cultivated the respect of their colleagues by admitting mistakes, giving credit to others, showing compassion to those who can do nothing to help them, holding fast to a strong moral compass, following the rules, setting an example, responsibly stewarding public funds, and diligently representing the interests of all citizens – they will naturally agree to disagree on certain issues, develop ways to compromise, and find common ground on those matters most important to their constituents – all without pledging allegiance to a toothless and artificial civility code.  

Angel               Charlene Greer & Jeep Beach 2023

Today begins the final weekend of Jeep Beach 2023!

Now celebrating its 20th year, Jeep Beach has become a true benefit to the Halifax area and universally embraced by locals as a quality annual event that gives back to the community.   

Unlike many “pop-up” invasions and “truck meets” – mechanized insanity that leave area residents trapped in their homes as rowdy enthusiasts turn our streets into a congested dragstrip and our beachside neighborhoods into Party Central during three days/two nights of gridlocked debauchery – Jeep Beach brings thousands of visitors to our area for a great week of fun at various venues throughout the area.

According to a recent article by Jim Abbott writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal:

“The hashtag this year is #chasingamillion,” said Charlene Greer, the event’s executive director and chairwoman, a reference to the goal of raising $1 million for area charities through this year’s weeklong celebration of the famed automotive brand that runs April 23-30 in Daytona Beach.

That total would exceed the $650,000 that was raised and donated to 70 area charities at the 2022 Jeep Beach. Incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity in 2017, Jeep Beach Inc. over the past decade has raised a total of more than $3.8 million to support recipients that include the Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia & Flagler Counties, the NASCAR Foundation and the Childhood Cancer Foundation.”

The event continues this weekend with “JB23 20th Anniversary Main Event Show at Daytona International Speedway,” a celebration of all things Jeep – to include an obstacle course, promotional giveaways, food truck vendors, live musicians, and sand sculptors – with a special performance by Colbie Caillat on Saturday beginning at 7:05pm. 

Tickets for all events are available at  

Kudos to Charlene Greer and her legion of dedicated volunteers who work hard to make Jeep Beach an incredibly special Daytona Beach tradition!  

Quote of the Week

“Conservative grassroots organization Americans for Prosperity-Florida and its Hispanic outreach arm, the LIBRE Initiative-Florida, are bringing on former Rep. David Santiago as LIBRE-Florida’s new Strategic Director.

Santiago, a Republican, brings extensive legislative knowledge to the AFP-FL team following his years of service as an elected member of the Deltona City Commission and the state House.

AFP-FL touted Santiago’s reputation as a “dedicated” Representative known for his work with grassroots leaders and his fellow lawmakers on what the organization described as “transformational policies.”

Santiago’s legislative product focused on the insurance industry, with priority bills tackling topics including workers’ comp, travel insurance, surplus lines insurance, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, pharmacy benefit managers, car insurance, reinsurance, civil remedies, rate making, construction defects, and condominium loss assessments.

Santiago represented the Volusia County area in the House from 2012 through 2020, when term limits prevented him from seeking re-election. Post-legislative service he worked for the law and lobbying firm Colodny Fass and held the top position at Floridians for Lawsuit Reform.”

–Publisher Peter Schorsch, Florida Politics – Legislative, Influence, and Policy, “Personnel note: David Santiago named strategic director at LIBRE-Florida,” Tuesday, April 25, 2023

When not otherwise occupied, David Santiago serves as the District 5 representative to the Volusia County Council…  

And Another Thing!

Are you getting your monies worth? 

It’s a legitimate question.

Something strapped families ask themselves all the time when evaluating where to trim their monthly budget amid rising inflation and precious few of those “high paying jobs” our economic development shills keep promising…     

When it comes to Volusia County government, are you getting the best bang your buck

After all, it is your money. 

The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Sunday edition included an informative article by Sheldon Gardner, “Who Takes Top Salary?” which provided a shocking list of the highest paid bureaucrats in Volusia County government:  

“Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald tops the list of highest-paid government officials across the county government agencies surveyed, earning just under $247,000 per year followed closely by Volusia County Schools Superintendent Carmen Balgobin at $245,000.”

Not including benefits…

According to Volusia County mouthpiece Kevin Captain, “The county benefits package has a total that rivals the amount paid in salaries/wages.”

Whoa.  And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg…  

When you figure that every department, division, and donjon within County government has a bevy of directors, deputy directors, managers, assistant managers, supervisors, dinosaurs, sloths, protégés, consultants, mandarins, toadies, arbiters, etc., etc., etc. – also drawing six-figure salaries, that adds up to real money.

For those of us here in the real world, anyway…

In my view, one inherent problem with perpetually expanding bureaucracies is their top-heavy structure – where a few senior executives command exorbitant salaries in exchange for running interference and providing political insulation – while those delivering public services at the tip of the spear often make less than their counterparts in entry level jobs in the fast-food industry. 

For instance, according to the report, “The county is offering starting pay of $15.94 an hour for full-time emergency medical technicians, $17.88 for paramedic trainees, and $20.49 for paramedics,” while Buc-ee’s is advertising a starting pay of $17.00 an hour for cashiers, cleaning and maintenance attendants, and grocery stockers.

But everyone is fat and happy in the Ivory Tower of Power in DeLand…

Yet, time and again, We, The Little People, who are expected to pay the bills and suffer in silence, watch in slack jawed amazement as these highly compensated dullards are repeatedly caught off guard or learn of internal scandals after the fact – incapable of answering simple questions regarding governmental processes and systems they are directly responsible for – always couching requests with “I’ll get back to you on that” – an effective means of creating time and distance to avoid any level of official accountability.   

Now, Councilman Jake Johansson is suggesting throwing citizen advisory board members “out of the club,” and – one assumes – only receive information from inside the tightly controlled confines of a bloated bureaucracy where grossly overpaid senior officials both manufacture and monitor the narrative while steering public policy from deep inside the inner-sanctum.    

Make no mistake, they do consider our government a very exclusive “Good Old Boys Club.”

One that you and I will never be members of – until we begin electing true servant-leaders who care more about the needs of their constituents than protecting this incredibly lopsided system… 

That’s all for me.  Have a great final weekend of Jeep Beach 2023 weekend, y’all!

Angels & Assholes for April 21, 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           Protogroup

“The city still lacks an overall strategy as it relates to A1A and the beachside corridor, and this is what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket.”

At this point, however, completion of the project is imperative, Grippa said.

“It would be absolutely devastating to have, in addition to all the old boarded-up buildings, now a new partially completed building,” Grippa said. “That sitting vacant and empty would really hurt the beachside, optically, economically and emotionally.”

–Chairman Tony Grippa, Volusia County Beachside Redevelopment Committee, as quoted in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, October 2018

Tony Grippa was quite a soothsayer, eh? 

Despite my penchant for strong drink and its deleterious effect on both the structure and function of what remains of my pickled grey matter, I distinctly remember my gut reaction to a November 2018 article by Eileen Zaffiro-Kean writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal entitled, “Shell Game“:

“Oh, shit…” 

In my view, that eye-opening exposé of Protogroup and the many questions surrounding financing for its $192 million Daytona Beach Convention Hotel & Condominiums, was a forewarning of things to come – a portent sign that should have triggered official inquiry, heightened oversight, and clear performance assurances.   

Not to travel too far down that dark and treacherous road known as Memory Lane, but you may remember that Protogroup’s proposed twin-spires were once touted by some very heavy hitters – including former Daytona Beach Mayor Glenn Ritchey, who reportedly negotiated the original “deal” with the Russian developer – as the next “game changer.”

The great panacea project that would solve all our civic and social ills, serve as the catalyst for reversing decades of neglect and resultant blight, and return the Halifax Resort Area to its former prominence as a world class destination.

But to weary Halifax area residents, it sounded an awful lot like that proverbial egg basket Mr. Grippa described…

Then, as many feared, the wheel came off the cart. 


While the south tower s-l-o-w-l-y went vertical, the rusting bones of the languishing north tower remained frustratingly stagnant. 

Through the years, concerned residents complained as the on again/off again project blocked traffic on A-1-A, constructed an unpermitted “contra-lane” on Oakridge Boulevard, obstructed beach access, mysteriously swapped contractors, sat idle, ignored deadlines, and refused to respond to questions from the working press, while everyone in a regulatory position seemed to treat the developer with kid gloves – careful not to upset what passed for “progress.” 

Then, in September 2022, the City of Daytona Beach issued a condemnation and demolition order citing the lack of construction activity and questions surrounding the structural integrity of the exposed rebar – ordering that the site be cleaned up and that an engineer create a plan to ensure the columns are strong enough to support the proposed 31-story tower – which, if it ever sprouts, would be the tallest structure in Daytona Beach.

Unfortunately, many were disappointed when that order was rescinded, and a new work order issued – good for six months – so long as Protogroup adhered to a city mandate to “keep things rolling.” 

Obviously, that did not happen…

Then, earlier this month, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that the project had once again stalled out and quoted Daytona Beach Chief Building Official Glen Urquhart:

“When the city agreed in September to give Protogroup another chance, the company was told it would have to show work was well underway on the condo tower by April 9 and undergo a city inspection by that date. Urquhart said the agreement was clear: No progress and no inspection, no more construction permit.”

To Mr. Urquhart’s credit, this week the City of Daytona Beach made good on its promise, pulled the construction permit, and denied the Protogroup’s request for a 180-day extension. 

I know, I know, “We’ve heard this ruse before, Barker – just another time-buying exercise by perplexed city officials who don’t have a clue how to clear this monstrous eyesore from the epicenter of our core tourist area and prevent Mr. Grippa’s prophetic words from coming true.”  

Well, maybe you infernal naysayers are right.

Time will tell. 

But in my role as Volusia’s resident Pollyanna, I am willing to give Mr. Urquhart and his colleagues at City Hall the benefit of the doubt.

For the umpteenth time…

According to reports, if the City of Daytona Beach has the courage to allow this latest punitive action to hold – Protogroup will be required to apply for a new construction permit – subject to current building codes and a site inspection, including the requirement that a structural engineer sign and submit plans demonstrating how the exposed columns will “…be fortified to support 31 stories above them.”

Let’s face it.  Barring some Copperfield-level legerdemain, this fetid shit show is going to remain an ever-present splinter in the public eye until the north condo tower either comes out of the ground or the corroded bones of its foundation are demolished and hauled away.

And the public’s patience is waning…

Angel               Volusia County Councilman Troy Kent

I have not always been kind to District 4 Councilman Troy Kent in this space. 

During his long political tenure with the Ormond Beach City Commission, I opposed his stance on growth management, and often took exception with the development approvals that continue to tax our grossly inadequate infrastructure. 

However, I can also remember a time when Mr. Kent worked hard to protect the character of Ormond Beach by supporting building height limits, his willingness to listen to concerned residents, and strong advocacy for beach driving and access.

In my view, as Volusia’s Old Guard continues to walk the crumbling ramparts of this bloated bureaucracy to protect the stagnant status quo from innovation, ingenuity, or reform – it is nice to see Troy Kent’s sense of grassroots representation being resurrected in service to his long-suffering constituents.

Upon taking his seat on the Volusia County Council in January, rather than spout a laundry list of pie-in-the-sky ambitions with no articulable plan to accomplish them – Mr. Kent outlined a set of attainable goals – including free beach access for double-taxed residents, the establishment of a dog friendly section of beach, and returning entertainment offerings to that white elephant known as the Ocean Center.

For reasons that were never made clear, over the past decade, the Ocean Center went from one of east Central Florida’s premiere concert venues to little more than an extravagant (and terribly expensive) home for quilting bees, the annual “State of the County” soiree, and myriad underpublicized specialty events and trade shows.  

For instance, did you know that during March Madness the Ocean Center played host to a four-day Division 1 college basketball tournament with the championship game nationally televised on ESPN2?

No one else did either…

Long-time residents of Volusia County have fond memories of attending top tier concerts, sporting events, and productions at Ocean Center – big names, such as Jimmy Buffett, Elton John, AC/DC, Alan Jackson, standup comedians, semi-pro hockey games, rodeos, and professional wrestling events.     

Then the curtain fell on high-end entertainment options at the Ocean Center 

The official reasons behind the Ocean Center’s fall from grace with national touring acts were never fully explained to disappointed taxpayers – even as we watched the popularity of the St. Augustine Amphitheater and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall blossom – attracting quality artists virtually every weekend.

Thanks to Councilman Kent’s initiative, earlier this month, the Volusia County Council voted 6-1 to change the restrictive booking model that has caused concert promoters to give Ocean Center a wide berth. 

While Volusia County has no qualms showering millions of dollars in risky “incentives” and corporate welfare “gimmes” to attract a no-name airline to Daytona “International” Airport – and gifting tax breaks, infrastructure, and public funds to all the right names – when it came to bringing quality entertainment to the masses, our ‘powers that be’ had previously adopted a disastrous “all for me, and none for thee” approach. 

According to Ocean Center Director Tim Riddle, the county’s “virtually zero risk” booking policy – which allowed the Ocean Center to keep all revenues, including lucrative ticket fees and proceeds from food and beverage sales – leaving the event promoter only the net proceeds of ticket sales, “…is not getting a lot of traction out there in the live entertainment world.” 

Really?  Who woulda thunk it?    

God knows how much revenue Volusia County has lost in recent years as tour buses bypassed the Ocean Center for packed arenas in Melbourne, Orlando, and St. Johns County before Mr. Riddle and other senior administrators finally came to the painfully obvious realization that their booking model was flawed? 

In my view, none of these highly compensated dullards gave a damn.

Because in the bureaucratic donjon of the Thomas C. Kelly Administrative Building, performance and outcome have never been a metric of success – or failure – for senior staff.   

After years of sluggish stagnation and low-hanging fruit – prove me wrong? 

In my view, had Councilman Troy Kent merely fell in line and accepted the status quo – you and I would still be required to leave Volusia County to attend quality music and cultural events…

In addition, Volusia County is considering raising beach tolls for out-of-town visitors – and the possibility of charging tourists for off-beach parking – both were suggestions Mr. Kent brought forth as a means of generating additional revenue to alleviate the burden of beach access fees for taxpayers. 

During his sales pitch to his “colleagues,” Mr. Kent explained that Nassau County allows resident beachgoers to drive on the beach for free, while charging out-of-towners to take their cars onto the strand.

Unfortunately, this well-thought plan fell on deaf ears…

In response to Kent’s radical idea of affording citizens more liberties and access, Councilman Don Dempsey crowed, “C’mon, there’s no free beach. I’m more concerned about not raising taxes than I am about people driving on the beach for free,” while At-Large Councilman Jake Johansson reminded us helot’s that “Parking on the beach is a privilege. I’m pretty comfortable with paying for that privilege.”

It didn’t used to be. 

There was a time before this money-grubbing bureaucracy assumed its iron-fisted control of our beaches when driving and access were a right of all taxpaying citizens – and the “third rail” of Volusia County politics.  

I don’t think Mr. Johansson has lived here long enough to remember those freedoms – but Mr. Kent certainly has.

As history repetitively proves, any Volusia County councilmember who demonstrates a smidgeon of independent thought will ultimately be crushed under the bootheel of conformity, forced to kowtow to the foot-dragging strategies of County Manager George “The Wreck” Recktenwald and his lethargic legion of bureaucrats who monitor and control the narrative and steer public policy from behind closed doors.    

With this latest revelation of lost opportunities (and revenue) comes the gnawing question:

How many other antiquated policies and sacred cows are being protected in the inner sanctum of Volusia County government simply to avoid upsetting the bureaucracy’s delicate applecart? 

Quote of the Week

“When it comes to the Tymber Creek Apartments development proposal, Ormond Beach City Commissioners face two options: approve as presented, or risk the possibility of a higher density development.

Though the public hearing for the development’s rezoning and development order requests was held on Tuesday, April 18, the commission decided to table the items until its May 16 meeting due to the impact of a new law that would allow developers to circumvent local land use and zoning regulations if their developments set aside at least 40% of units for affordable housing.

The Live Local Act, previously known as Florida Senate Bill 102, was signed by the governor on March 29 and will go into effect on July 1. It affects properties currently zoned commercial, industrial or those with a mixed use zoning, and would allow developers to build multifamily or mixed-use residential buildings at the highest allowed density.”

–Senior Editor Jarleene Almenas writing in the Ormond Beach Observer, “City Commission tables decision on Tymber Creek Apartments,” Wednesday, April 19, 2023

It seems every piece of legislation coming out of the 2023 session is designed to consolidate state government’s power and authority over every facet of our lives and livelihoods – from corporate governance to local home rule.

In my view, there is a concerted effort to undermine the ability of county and municipal governments to control their destiny by preempting local decisions to the state – coupled with direct attacks on our inalienable right to the free expression of grievances and criticism of those bold enough to hold themselves out for high office (and do the bidding of their campaign contributors) – yet fold into shrinking violets when We, The Little People complain about it…

Depending upon how you look at it, the Live Local Act was either a godsend for strapped Floridians who have been priced out of an exponentially expanding housing market (in Volusia County, estimates show that some 56.22% of households who rent are overburdened) with many living far below the national median income – or a boon for developers looking for the next lucrative workaround of local land use and zoning regulations.

For instance, I can’t see where this legislation does a damn thing to help stabilize Florida families who are currently struggling to meet monthly living expenses – but you can bet your sweet bippy a few developers of large-scale affordable housing projects are about to make bank…

Did I mention that a recent exposé by business editor Clayton Park of The Daytona Beach News-Journal found that over 40% of current Florida lawmakers have direct financial ties to the real estate and development industry? 

Yeah.  I know…

In addition to circumventing local land use requirements, the Live Local Act throws $711 million into affordable housing, and provides additional tax incentives to attract affordable housing projects – including changing zoning laws to allow building in commercial and industrial areas – while effectively crushing community self-determination and banning local governments from enacting rent control measures for existing low-income workers.  

Ain’t no money in that handout shit, right? 

Unless, of course, you happen to be an industrial warehouse, insurance conglomerate, or billionaire with a profit motive demanding millions in publicly funded corporate welfare…


The act also places the Ormond Beach City Commission in an untenable position vis-à-vis frightened existing residents of neighborhoods along Tymber Creek Road:

Either approve the proposed 270-unit apartment complex and shoehorn more traffic onto already packed local roadways east and west of I-95 – or risk the possibility of an even higher density development once the Live Local Act takes effect in July. 

With the Florida legislature, it’s always give with one hand and take with the other – so be careful what you wish for, folks.   

Oh, I almost forgot – to add insult, last week, the oddly named Ormond Beach “Planning” Board voted 5-1 to recommend the City Commission approve a zoning map amendment, development order, and preliminary plat allowing a developer to build 286 units – including 84 “duplex townhomes” – on 103.45-acres along Plantation Oaks Boulevard north of the Village of Pine Run. 

So, while our elected dullards on the Ormond Beach City Commission clutch their pearls for the amusement of anxious Tymber Creek residents – their political insulation committee hilariously titled the “Planning Board” is leaving the backdoor wide open for more, more, more

In my view, this is one more glaring example of why electing the same compromised shitheels while expecting a different result is the true definition of civic insanity.

And Another Thing!

“Recently, you may have seen headlines in the news highlighting the aggressive push by Sheriff Mike Chitwood to assume control of the law enforcement officers currently working under the Beach Patrol, (Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue). The Sheriff’s argument for doing so hinges on the looming passage of two state bills that are working their way through the Florida Legislature. If they pass, the sheriff’s powers could be greatly expanded. This is the main reason why he has spent the last few years lobbying in support of those bills. It’s a power grab, plain and simple.”

–Retired Beach Patrol officer and founding past president of the Volusia Waterman’s Association Bryon White, The Daytona Beach News-Journal Community Voice Extra, “Battle Over Beach Patrol,” Sunday, April 16, 2023

“This transition to the Sheriff’s Office has been described as a “power grab” by the sheriff, as if I had anything to do with the legislation that’s been proposed by state lawmakers I’ve never met, spoken to or had any contact with. That’s just another lie the beach union is peddling. The truth is this is part of a larger legislative initiative to establish uniformity of authority of sheriffs and other constitutional officers across the state of Florida.”

–Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, The Daytona Beach News Journal Community Voice Extra, “Status quo on the beach isn’t sustainable under the existing state law,” Sunday, April 16, 2023

Normally I am a sucker for a good “point-counterpoint” dueling op/ed – a no holds barred debate of competing ideas fueled with simmering animosity – but Sunday’s escalating Battle Royale between the union representing the Volusia County Beach Patrol and Sheriff Mike Chitwood just left me feeling sad…

I know Bryon White and Sheriff Chitwood, both former colleagues, each of whom care deeply about Volusia County. 

They are also passionate bareknuckle scrappers with the smarts, agility, and tenacity to hold their own in a fight.  However, in this case, I give the advantage to the incredibly popular Sheriff Chitwood – because he holds all the cards.

What saddens me is that this internecine bickering and resulting bad blood seems so – unnecessary. 

Like two family members fighting over something neither can control, using words and tactics that can never be taken back.   

Now, this growing legislative bruhaha is dividing residents as various factions begin to take sides – and that is the last thing we need in this horribly polarized age where divide and conquer is the operative ethic.   

I disagree with Bryon White on one point – this is not a “power grab” by Sheriff Chitwood. The proposed law is not specific to Volusia County and the bills originated in South Florida. 

The current iterations of the house and senate bills working their way through the legislative maze in Tallahassee state that there will be an elected sheriff in each Florida county and reaffirms that the sheriff shall have exclusive law enforcement authority in all unincorporated areas, and concurrent jurisdiction within the municipalities.

That’s nothing new – and it certainly doesn’t “greatly expand” Sheriff Chitwood’s powers.   

Where the proposed law directly affects the Beach Patrol is in prohibiting a county’s legislative body from establishing or maintaining a separate “policing entity” in any unincorporated area of a county, stating that “Only the duly elected sheriff may provide such policing and police functions in the unincorporated areas of any county.”   

The law would also protect the budgets of municipal law enforcement agencies by providing a means for either the state attorney for the circuit – or a member of the municipality’s governing body – to request a hearing before an administrative law judge and challenge any funding reduction of more than 5% as compared to the current fiscal year’s operating budget. 

This matter will ultimately be settled by vote of the Florida legislature and Governor DeSantis’ signature. 

While the bills are supported by the Florida Sheriff’s Association – I haven’t seen any overt lobbying efforts by Sheriff Chitwood as the Volusia Waterman’s Association suggests. 

Unfortunately, it appears the hostility between the Beach Patrol and Sheriff Chitwood is growing more confrontational by the day.   In a subsequent article by reporter Sheldon Gardner writing in Sunday’s News-Journal, we learned that Sheriff Chitwood is now challenging the Beach Patrol’s legitimacy. 

“The sheriff writes in his column that Volusia County Beach Safety officers might not have law enforcement authority anyway. “The section of the Volusia County Charter granting that authority was repealed in 2020. The legality of every ticket, every arrest, every law enforcement action taken by Beach Safety since 2020 is now called into question,” he wrote.”

Of course, the Volusia County Council disputes that assessment, and in a move to protect the status quo – reminiscent of the former council’s asinine pushback on Amendment 10 which brought the Sheriff’s Office from under the yoke of a politically unaccountable County Manager – “…recently voted to send a letter to its lobbyists and lawmakers to try and get a change to the proposed legislation to exclude Volusia County, and if that effort fails to give the county more time to adjust to whatever changes may come.”

Look, I understand the best instinct of the Volusia County Beach Patrol to fight like rabid badgers to preserve their agency’s identity and proud history of providing law enforcement, lifesaving, and beach-related services to residents and visitors – and Sheriff Chitwood has the right to defend himself (in his own inimitable way) when he feels unfairly attacked. 

There is no denying that the Volusia County Beach Patrol brings a lot of experience and expertise to the table – a specialized, well-equipped, and well led agency staffed with triple-certified professionals adept at providing law enforcement, lifesaving, and emergency medical capabilities in a dynamic environment.     

According to preliminary reports, Sheriff Chitwood has committed to incorporating a majority of the 58 Beach Patrol members into his agency – with remaining personnel assigned as lifeguards or to other beach safety responsibilities – with no anticipated change in pay or benefits. 

How that ultimately shakes out is yet to be seen, and there are a lot of moving parts to sort through, but this week Sheriff Chitwood announced to the Volusia County Council his willingness to cooperate with county officials – while reassuring Beach Patrol members all is not doom and gloom:

“Don’t throw everything away in a panic mode. This is going to be a really good thing. I know I’m a knucklehead, but jeez I’m never going to hurt my employees, for crying out loud.”   

My hope is that anxious Beach Patrol officers – and Volusia County residents – will see a more fully formed transition plan soon.     

I feel confident that Sheriff Chitwood and his staff – with a modicum of cooperation, collegiality, and compromise from county management – can accomplish an orderly and effective transition without the apocalyptic upheaval that naturally accompanies any substantive change in Volusia County’s lockstep bureaucracy. 

Unfortunately, with the busy summer season looming, this building animus could prove a real impediment to the strategic planning, identification and alignment of goals, engagement with stakeholders, and the systemic and personnel integration that will be required to ensure the best possible outcome for all concerned.     

That’s all for me.  Have a great Jeep Beach 2023, y’all!

Best of Barker’s View: A History of Deception

(Note: Angels & Assholes will return next Friday. In the interim, I find it fun to look back and see how much things have changed – or stayed the same – here on Florida’s “Fun Coast.” During a trip to Virginia last week, I saw firsthand how unchecked sprawl has inexorably changed the character and landscape of Volusia, Flager, St. Johns, and Duval Counties – with more development on the way – and precious little evidence of the infrastructure expansion and improvements we so desperately need to cope. Here’s a look back from April 2022 on the most important topic of our time – now from the vantagepoint of 20-20 hindsight… See you next week!)

“A favorite theory of mine [is] that no occurrence is sole and solitary but is merely a repetition of a thing which has happened before, and perhaps often.”

–Mark Twain

I am an observer – and a student of history.   

Rather than participate officially, I watch the action and analyze things from the sidelines – with a hard-earned ability to discern both the minute and significant – gaining insight into all aspects of a situation, determining patterns, and comparing modern issues with historical outcomes. 

Invariably, motivations become apparent once you learn that leopards are incapable of changing their spots. . .

With practice, one can see through the cosmetics, drapes, and disguises used by politicians (and those who control them) to craft an image of themselves relative to the perennial problems we face – especially true during an election year – hoping those they “govern” won’t peek behind the well-crafted façade and connect the dots (and the dollars).     

In time, we find the issues we face bear striking similarities to other events in our history and ignoring this convergence often results in that painful sense of “déjà vu” – the experiential learning that only comes from touching a hot stove twice.

These recurrences are often called “history repeating itself” – and, as Winston Churchill warned, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

This week, I took notice as a giddy sense of excitement built ahead of Tuesday’s Volusia County Council “growth management and development permitting workshop” – which will be held in council chambers between the intentionally inconvenient hours of 9:30am and 2:30pm – putting it off the table for most concerned citizens who work for a living. . . 

Incredibly, some smart people are pinning their hopes to yet another hot air generator – one more mind-numbing PowerPoint presentation hosted by the same do-nothing “growth management” drones who remain comfortably mired in the same incestuous relationships with real estate developers and insiders – another time-wasting diversion for the masses while the bulldozers continue to roar. 

No thanks.  I have seen it all before. 

Look, I hate to be the proverbial turd in the punchbowl – but I remember the sense of excitement I felt in the leadup to the “Smart Growth summits” of 2003 and 2004.

And who can forget the Great Smart Growth PowerPoint of November 2008?  With its ominous conclusion, “Where do we go next?”

(Unfortunately, hindsight tells us the answer to that question was a “cram ten-pounds of shit in a five-pound bag” growth management strategy that continues to allow our elected dullards to maintain their paralytic grip on the stagnant status quo while ensuring their political benefactors can squeeze every dollar they can out of our decimated natural places. . .)

Remember that heady horseshit?

“The concept of Smart Growth emerged as communities have been increasingly impacted by “sprawling” development patterns and related infrastructure and service delivery costs. Locally, this pattern cannot be sustained without permanent destruction of vast ecosystems and wildlife corridors”?

I do. 

Or how about that collective feeling of keen anticipation ahead of the exalted “Smart Growth Policy Review Committee of 2013-2014” – the council commissioned Blue Ribbon political insulation committee charged with recommending a host of planning and zoning policy initiatives? 


Oh, I know!  How about the “Smart Growth Policy Review Committee of 2015-2016”?

Just me?  Okay.

Wait, I’m certain you will recall the impressive presentation by Clay Ervin, our long-serving director of Growth and Resource Management, at a Volusia County Council meeting in January 2019.

Or Director Ervin’s subsequent ‘Dog and Pony Show’ at the Knights of the Roundtable conclave in June of that year, to “…explore the idea of “smart growth” within the county, with the input from municipalities and other community stakeholders.”

If it sounds like “déjà vu all over again,” that’s because it is… 

Have you seen evidence of “smart growth” initiatives or “low-impact” development rules resulting from these decades-old shim-shams?

Me neither.

So why are we so eager to expect a different outcome?

This weekend, a very smart friend of mine sent a front-page clipping from the Tallahassee Democrat – published 50-years ago this week – with the glaring headline, “Halt Florida’s Chaotic Growth, Experts Plead.” 

The lede, written in April 1972, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mike Toner of the Democrat-Miami Herald News Service, explained, “Florida’s growth is outstripping the efforts to plan properly for it, and, in some parts of the state, growth should stop until planning can catch up. . .”

In the report, Mr. Toner quoted the recommendation of two groups with seemingly competing interests – the American Institute of Architects and Florida Defenders of the Environment – who promoted a list of “temporary solutions,” which included “A halt to all major transportation programs, especially I-95 and I-75 in south Florida and I-10 in north Florida, while a comprehensive study of their environmental impact is made,” and “…a moratorium be placed on areas “of new and potential growth” where the growth is certain to affect natural resources…”


The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

The one common denominator is a long stain of compromised politicians – and the developers and special interests who own the paper on their political souls – who continue to approve malignant sprawl (with a building tsunami of approved projects already on the books) that look us in the eye and tell us there’s “nothing we can do/hands are tied” while approving zoning changes, increasing density, and always ensuring a malleable “planning process” that is quickly destroying our environment and quality of life.    

In my view, tomorrows “growth management workshop” represents more bureaucratic gaslighting, more nonsensical rehashing of “low-impact” development concepts that have been intentionally suppressed for years – yet another diversionary tactic – a means of putting time and distance between now and any substantive action to reduce the malignant sprawl that has already outpaced our transportation and utilities infrastructure and is now rapidly threatening our water supply. 

They do it because we allow it, and in this election year, it is time to determine who has our back and who is content with ‘more of the same.’

I often sound like some demented Henny Penny, but as I have previously said, please take a moment from your busy lives and truly reflect on what the basic principles at the heart of these matters mean – not for us – but for our children and grandchildren. 

As we have seen in recent elections, there remains one fundamental mechanism which, if exercised broadly, will allow us to prevail over the political insiders and well-heeled donor class that seem intent on promoting this “growth at all costs” insanity for personal enrichment:

In this election year, it is the ultimate power of the ballot box.

In truth, it is the only thing that strikes concern in the heart of these self-serving bastards who are actively selling their political soul – and our unique quality of life – all while wasting precious time with these insulting diversions.

Don’t be fooled again.


Thanks for reading.

A&A will be back next week. Have a great weekend, y’all!

Flying Blind: Another Corporate Welfare Scheme at DAB

There’s an old joke that asks:

“Want to make a little money in aviation?”

“Start with a lot of money…” 

This week, Volusia County taxpayers learned the hard lesson of that punchline as the majority of our elected officials in DeLand ignored the lessons of history, threw caution to the wind, and entered a lopsided “partnership” with the then unknown “ultra-low-cost air carrier,” Avelo Airlines. 

So, beginning in late June, you can wing your way from Daytona “International” Airport to the “premium destinations” we were all teased with:

New Haven… 

(The second much sought-after destination remains a mystery?)

I find it fascinating that ostensibly bright elected officials can be sold a pig in a poke – literally appropriating our tax dollars to support some enigmatic entity who remains cloaked in secrecy until the corporate welfare demand is approved – then theatrically sweeps from behind the velvet curtain for the ‘Grand Reveal’ – as We, The Little People who pay the bills scratch our heads and silently muse:

“New Haven…?”

Yeah.  I know.

During Tuesday’s VCC meeting, the very capable Cyrus Callum, Volusia County’s Director of Aviation and Economic Resources, switched hats – morphing into a highly effective shill for the two-year-old airline that, we were told, originally demanded $3 million in a “minimum revenue guarantee” scheme on a promise of twice-weekly flights to two “premium destinations.”  

As the sales pitch droned on, Director Callum held our clueless council members in suspense like a cagey gameshow host, dropping perplexing hints like, “Somewhere in the Tri-State…” and “The Mid-Atlantic area…”

If our elected decisionmakers still had the capacity for shame and self-awareness – the spectacle of them playing twenty-questions with a senior staffer before being asked to appropriate public funds for a secret private entity would have been mortifyingly embarrassing…

According to Mr. Callum, after “negotiations,” he and the DAB team were able to reduce the impact of Volusia County’s assurance to $1 million in guaranteed revenue – a fund described as a weird insurance policy to be held in reserve and used as a bailout if/when the carrier fails to meet quarterly estimates.

In keeping with the typical cloak-and-dagger horseshit that allows corporations with their hand in our pocket to keep their identity legally secret until giddy politicians can be convinced to vote in the blind – Mr. Callum did an extraordinary job of anesthetizing the council – glossing over our abysmal history of underwriting airlines who invariably leave us in their jetwash after gorging greedily at the public trough – ultimately coaxing a 4-2 vote (Councilman Jake Johanssen was absent).  

To their credit, Councilmembers Danny Robins and Don Dempsey had trouble reconciling the fact that Volusia County does not routinely cover overhead for local small businesses – and, in my view, it appeared they were struggling with the current logic that has government skewing the playing field and meddling in the marketplace.

Unfortunately, the remainder of our self-described “small government/fiscal conservatives” were somehow able to convince themselves that – despite our hard-earned experience with JetBlue, Silver Airways, Sunwing, etc. – risking public funds to cover the operating and start-up estimates of a small airline with just 24-months experience in a highly competitive industry (that already offers flights from Orlando International Airport) is a rational financial decision.

In a free and fair marketplace, entrepreneurial investors take educated risks based upon an estimated return on investment – while government stewards our tax dollars to deliver those services, infrastructure, and utilities we cannot provide for ourselves.   

In my view, when government insinuates itself into the marketplace – picking winners and losers (or, in the case of enticing airlines to DAB, pissing away good money after bad), voting in the blind, ensuring ludicrous minimum revenue guarantees, building private infrastructure, gifting tax breaks, and lavishing public funds on private entities – it flies in the face of fairness and is counter to the time-honored principle of due diligence – mitigating risk by entering “partnerships” with eyes open, terms negotiated, and all players identified – rather than gagged and blindfolded in the ultimate act of fiduciary irresponsibility.   

When we question the practice, Volusia County’s economic development shills – career bureaucrats who accept public funds to serve in the public interest – assure us this grift is now a required practice in the murky world of corporate welfare and “public/private partnerships” – where our tax dollars are used to underwrite the for-profit motives of private entities. 


I wonder if Chairman Jeff Brower and Councilmen Matt Reinhart, Troy Kent, and David Santiago would invest their family’s personal savings in a mysterious business entity that refused to identify itself? 

So, why are they comfortable doing it with our hard-earned money? 

Now, we’re being told that another anonymous airline has designs on a spot at Volusia’s patent public teat…

In my view, it is time our ‘powers that be’ stop playing this expensive game of corporate hide-and-seek which requires the allocation of public funds with no substantive information, public debate, or transparency.

Daytona “International” Airport: Another Pig in a Poke

Only in the weird world of Volusia County government – where throwing caution to the wind and playing fast-and-loose with other people’s money is considered a professional competency – could our “economic development” shills shamelessly dream up the asinine acronym MRG (“minimum revenue guarantee”) on the hope of luring the umpteenth “ultra-low-cost” airline to Daytona “International” Airport. 

On Tuesday, senior staff will use wildly subjective booking and economic impact estimates to sell the Volusia County Council another pig in a poke – a shadowy undisclosed air carrier that has apparently agreed to provide twice-weekly flights to two equally mysterious “premium destinations” (which, I assume, means anywhere other than Atlanta or Charlotte?)

Wait.  Haven’t we heard this horseshit before?  (More on that later…) 

Here’s the rub:

According to reports, the “secret” carrier wants Volusia County taxpayers to secure “start-up shortfalls in revenue” (read: operating overhead) with a pot of public funds – dubbed a “minimum revenue guarantee” – to be held in reserve, just in case they need it. 


According to an informative article by business editor Clayton Park writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal:

“If approved by the County, the proposed minimum revenue guarantee fund would only be made available to the mystery airline if the revenues it generates from the new service at Daytona Beach International Airport were to fail to meet its pre-determined minimum targets. Should that occur, the airline would only be able to draw from the fund the amount needed to make up for its revenue shortfall.

The money for the fund would come from the county, with the source up to the discretion of the council to decide. Helga van Eckert, the county’s economic development director, confirmed that her division, for example, does have several million dollars in reserves to be used for “business support and economic development programs.”

Van Eckert said she would not be opposed to designating a portion of those reserves for the airline fund, but added that option would be up to the council, not her.”

As only happens at the nexus of government and corporate welfare schemes, our elected representatives will be directed by senior staff to put $1 million in the proverbial brown paper bag to be doled out to the unnamed airline in the event the carrier fails to meet arbitrary revenue levels conjured up by the company itself…

Sounds logical, eh?    

I mean, your small mom-and-pop business – the one that jumped through myriad government hoops to get started, pays taxes, employs area residents, spends local, and scrimps and saves to make it in this artificial economy – receives monthly bailouts from the several million dollars Helga keeps squirreled away in the cookie jar for “business support programs” whenever you fail to meet monthly revenue goals, right? 


Look, I no longer possess the cognitive skills to remember all the bargain basement carriers that have attached themselves to the public teat, slobbered down hundreds-of-thousands in incentives from Volusia County taxpayers, then left us in their jetwash – but here’s a few:   

Anyone remember our short-lived relationship with JetBlue – who, in 2016, entered the Daytona Beach market following a $2.3 million package that included the use of local hotel bed tax revenues from Volusia County’s three tourism advertising agencies to market Daytona Beach in the New York market, waiving airport fees, and promises by numerous local businesses to fly JetBlue via a “travel bank” established by the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce?

Despite those lucrative perquisites, in late 2018, JetBlue flew off into the wild blue yonder while senior airport officials mewled about what a “blow” the carrier’s departure was for the community…

So, rather than learn from their very expensive mistake – those with a fiduciary responsibility to steward public funds in a rational and responsible manner did the same damn thing while expecting a different result.

In JetBlue’s wake, “Silver Airways” accepted a publicly-funded goody bag filled with expensive inducements which included some $100,000 to market a once daily Daytona Beach-Ft. Lauderdale route, a partnership agreement with the Daytona Tortugas organization (remember Tortuga One?), waiving landing fees and “facilities costs” (read: rent and utilities), a year of free ground handling services (estimated at $91,250) and a quarterly payment of $25,000 for one year to help “offset some of the airlines startup costs.”

For travel to Ft. Lauderdale?

In 2019, Silver suspended service at DAB, explaining “…the flights were not operating at a fare level that is financially sustainable to continue in current market conditions,” – which (I think) translates to English as, “No one wanted the hassle of flying from Daytona Beach to Ft. Lauderdale when they can drive it in just over 3-hours…”

So, rather than step back and analyze why DAB is routinely jilted by “low cost” domestic carriers, our powers that be opted to throw more Chanel No. 5 on the hog – spending $12 million renovating the terminal – because if millions in economic incentives aren’t working, it must be the carpet, right?   


Then came our short fling with the Canadian tour operator Sunwing

According to a 2018 News-Journal article:

“Sunwing agreed to give nonstop Toronto-Daytona Beach service a try in part thanks to an offer of economic incentives from the airport, the CVB and Visit Florida, the state’s tourism arm. The agreement calls for the airport and visitors bureau each to chip in $125,000 towards a tourism marketing campaign aimed at the Toronto market, with Visit Florida providing matching funds as well as funds provided by the airline.

The airport also has agreed to waive facility and landing fees for the first two years of service here by Sunwing.”

Despite these money-flushing incentives, freebies, and marketing funds – when Canadian flights resumed in 2021, our friends at Sunwing apparently forgot to return DAB to the list…

Now, senior county administrators are asking Volusia County taxpayers to underwrite some enigmatic “ultra-low-cost-carrier” to the tune of $1 million – even though the council agenda package confirms that neither the terms of “MRG agreement,” nor the airline use/lease rental agreement, have been negotiated? 

Wow.  Talk about a pig in a poke…

Rather than take advantage of the valuable hindsight gained from our failed strategy of “throw more money at it” – tomorrow, the Volusia County Council will be blindly sold on another “game-changer” – led like lumbering oxen by our highly paid resident “experts” and encouraged to piss even more of our hard-earned money away on a mystery carrier that isn’t sure it wants its name associated with us at this point. 

My God…

George Santayana was right: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”