ERAU: More intrigue at our Harvard of the Sky…

As usual – I’m confused. 

Not surprised.  Confused…

Last week, in an article by Mark Harper writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal entitled, “$155 million in state budget to accommodate growth, quality of life in Volusia, Flagler,” we learned:

“Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University landed $15 million to build a new, 45,000 square-foot Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, at its research park. It “will be designed with large, complex industry and Department of Defense projects in mind, providing for opportunities to collaborate with industry, various government agencies and strengthen the ability for students to work on obtaining security clearances,” according to the request.

ERAU also got $5 million for equipment at its research park.”


Look, it’s no secret that Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – our “Harvard of the Skies” – is the personal fiefdom of our High Panjandrum of Political Power, Mori Hosseini – the powerful chairman of ICI Homes – or that his undisputed political influence ranges far from the confines of the ERAU campus to the halls of power in Tallahassee and beyond.   

In February, first-year Rep. Chase Tramont of Port Orange filed an appropriations project request on behalf of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University seeking $15,000,000 for construction of a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).

You read that right. 

According to Rep. Tramont’s barebones request, he listed the most appropriate state agency to administrate the funds as the “Department of Education” – but stated that the DOE had not been contacted at the time of the request?

He also listed the “Requestor” of the appropriation as Rodney Cruise, the figurehead Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – and the “Contact for questions about specific technical or financial details about the project,” as Jeremy Ernest, ERAU’s Vice President for Research and Doctoral Programs.

In answer to the question, “What type of organization is the entity that will receive the funds?” – Rep. Tramont checked “Non Profit 501(c) (4)” (the Internal Revenue Code for a “social welfare or community organization”?) – rather than “University or College.” 

When the appropriation request asked, “What is the specific purpose or goal that will be achieved by the funds being requested?” Rep. Tramont explained:

“The SCIF, containing an aluminium (sic) barrier, will block radio frequency and electromagnetic frequency interference to protect both classified and sensitive information. The facility will allow companies and agencies the ability to complete highly confidential and classified projects. This secured facility will also provide access to taxiway sierra. The taxiway access gives faculty and students unique opportunities to work on highly classified, confidential, and sensitive projects.”

The questions continued…

“For Fixed Capital Costs requested in Question 13, what type of ownership will the facility be under when complete?”

Answer: “Non Profit 501 (c) 3.” (Say what?)

“Is there any documented show of support for the requested project in the community including public hearings, letters of support, major organizational backing, or other expressions of support?”

Answer: “No.”

“Has the need for the funds been documented by a study, completed by an independent 3rd party, for the area to be served?” 

Answer: “No.”

“Will the requested funds be used directly for services to citizens?”

Answer: “Yes.”

“What are the activities and services that will be provided to meet the purpose of the funds?”

Answer: “The addition of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility will strengthen the student and workforce experience by offering opportunities to work on sensitive projects. Students can obtain DoD Top Secret Security Clearance through these initiatives which strengthens their credentials post-graduation, entering industry.”

The “benefit or outcome” of the expenditure is listed as “Improve Quality of Education,” with the metrics for measuring success listed as:

“Create shared facilities and resources that enable collaborations and major proposals to our select areas of research.”

“This will be measured by the number of internships, opportunities for students, and high paying jobs created.”

(You can read Rep. Tramont’s appropriations request for yourself here: and you can find a list of his 2022 campaign contributors here: )

So, is Skunk Works coming to Daytona Beach, or is this a weird “build it and they will come” folly? 

Regardless, I’m not sure that’s the way any of this works – or why in the hell you and I are paying for it… 

A SCIF isn’t designed to “strengthen the student experence…” – it is an accredited facility built to strict U.S. government standards set by the Director of National Intelligence to prevent visual, auditory, or electronic eavesdropping or the interception of highly sensitive electronic information. 

All aspects of the building materials, construction, access, and operation of a SCIF are held to exact security standards because they serve to facilitate the secure handling of our nation’s most sensitive compartmented information (SCI).

Typically, an organization must have a U.S. government sponsor to get a SCIF accredited – and only government employees and contractors with the appropriate security clearances are allowed to enter the facility.   

Now, I realize the political realities of lawmakers who carry the water and keep themselves in Mr. Hosseini’s good graces.  And I also understand the ability of our “imaginative” elected officials to stretch the definition of a “public purpose” to the nth degree. 

I don’t know about you, but in my jaded view, using state tax dollars to build an incredibly expensive 45,000 square foot SCIF at ERAU seems like a stretch…

As always, when it comes to the nexus of public funds and private interests, there are more questions than answers.

What is the benefit of researching and developing advanced aerospace programs in the confines of a highly secure facility, then rolling out the final product onto the taxiway of one of the busiest airports by operations in Florida? 

I’m no mastermind in the ways of espionage, but it seems all a potential foreign adversary would have to do is post up at the Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club with their Kodak Instamatic.    

You know, real “Cloak and Dagger” shit…

While I realize that Rep. Chase “Secret Squirrel” Tramont did not contact the Florida Department of Education prior to filing a $15 million appropriations request for that agency to administrate – but I wonder if anyone involved bothered to contact the U.S. Department of Defense to determine if they are willing to partner with ERAU in conducting classified research on the busy ramp at Daytona “International” Airport? 

Look, I understand why there was no independent third-party study or public hearings to determine need – that’s not the way things are done here on Florida’s “Fun Coast” – but why didn’t any government organization, defense contractor, or Mr. Hosseini’s minion, ERAU President P. Barry Butler, bother to show their commitment to such an expensive and complex project by jotting out so much as a simple letter of support? 

In my uneducated view, something stinks over at Skunk Works South…    

Call me a skinflint, but with the myriad infrastructure, property insurance, environmental, housing, and growth issues facing Floridians, if ERAU has a direct need for a $15 million secret facility to further advanced research with corporations that develop and market products and processes to the Department of Defense – then the university, and its private partners who will financially benefit, should pay for it. 

2 thoughts on “ERAU: More intrigue at our Harvard of the Sky…

  1. Perhaps the governor will use his line item veto to eliminate this absurd expenditure, but unlikely considering who’s evidently behind the request… meanwhile the LPGA/Tomoka bridge remains unfunded.🤬


  2. Might be better than the shithole ISB and Daytona in that area and east are turning into.Bethune College admission office on ISB is an embarrassment.Stores going out of business.Dont see all the money the state used at the Cape hurt our state.Garbage bar and grills disappear.Not too many fine food restaurants in Daytona all fast food high priced franchises.


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