It’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way.
Let’s look at who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was.
Angel Barker’s View Readers
My beat-up old heart is the size, shape, and consistency of a Honey Baked Ham, but from the bottom of what is left of it: Thank you!
In recent weeks, the Barker’s View tribe has grown leaps and bounds with so many of my fellow rubes (read: local taxpayers) reaching out with questions, comments, compliments, and complaints regarding my cockeyed views on the prominent issues of the day.
I suppose this growing readership is the result of a dwindling number of outlets for political commentary – especially now that the extraordinary voices of Marc Bernier and Big John have been silenced far too soon – and the News-Journal’s intrepid columnist Mark Lane has taken up the rocking chair.
Perhaps it is just a seasonal surge in folk’s searching for an alternative view during what will be a sizzling summer of local political warfare as election year shenanigans always bring out those on the periphery of politics. I don’t know.
But I believe those who take the time to search out, read, and digest these long-winded jeremiads are what I call informed voters – the tens of thousands of good citizens who use this space to gain situational awareness on both the mechanics and machinations of their local government – then vote with their conscience.
Regardless, I would like to welcome readers old and new to Barker’s View!
For the uninitiated, I like to think of this blogsite as a modern-day salon where people can come together – agree or disagree – and further a discussion of our civic and societal problems, debate solutions, then influence political action. But at its core, Barker’s View is simply one man’s jaded opinion on the myriad issues of the day – neither always right, nor always wrong – and should never be mistaken for fact-based reporting.
I am certainly not a “journalist” by any stretch of the modern definition – far too leaky a vessel to adhere to journalistic standards, grammatical structure, and professional practices – and too easily distracted by my many vices, demons, faults, and foibles. . .
But on occasion – thanks to some incredibly smart inside sources – these screeds provide a peek through the greasy pane in the portcullis of the Ivory Tower of Power where the decisions that affect our lives and livelihoods are made. That shadowy place behind closed doors, where information is power, and those we elect to represent our interests go out of their way to exclude our input.
In the information vacuum that has been created by the secretive nature of “The System,” it is only natural that many taxpayers take to blogsites and social media for answers as they seek clarity and validation of their suspicions – speculating on the who, what, why, when, and how of policy decisions – and trying desperately to determine who ultimately benefits?
It also gets confusing when elected officials (or their proxies) wade into the contentious swamp of social media to harangue their confused constituents for taking a position contrary to the carefully crafted official narrative – odd behavior from those holding positions of trust – that breeds more questions and solidifies the notion that citizen input in the process is universally despised by decisionmakers.
Now, with our quality of life being eroded by for-profit interests/political insiders who influence our elections, exploit our natural places, and overburden our public infrastructure with out-of-control sprawl – the illusion of truth is no longer enough.
If any of this sounds like what you are searching for: Welcome Home.
Whether we agree on the issues of the day, or you hate everything I stand for – please know that I appreciate your interest, your participation, and your friendship.
Thank you for reading Barker’s View.
Asshole Volusia County Politics and Politicians
I typically don’t wade into the political slit trench until after the qualifying period ends in June – when things become reasonably clear – as county and municipal contests begin to take shape.
Not this year. . .
The unbridled shitshow that marks a typical Volusia County election season began last Sunday with a controversial “debate” organized by something called the Volusia Teenage Republicans (oddly abbreviated TAR?) held at DeLand City Hall.
As I understand it, the TAR “board” – comprised of partisan youth chaperoned by Terri Brower, the wife of Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower, and overseen by the Brower’s teenaged son – invited Volusia County Council At-Large candidates Jake Johansson, Doug Pettit, and Andy Kelly (a registered Democrat) to participate in the weird Q and A.
However, the TAR organization failed to ask candidate Sherrise Boyd, who is also a Democrat, and the lone female African American in the race.
Now, shit has rightfully hit the fan. . .because omitting Ms. Boyd from the discussion – regardless of the reason – was patently wrong.
For the record, Volusia County Council races are nonpartisan, but that does nothing to discourage the partisan eye-gouging that marks every campaign season.
It is no secret that Chairman Brower has grown tired of being on the losing end of 5-2 votes for, oh, the entirety of his term – which is why he is desperately trying to recruit like-minded candidates in a year when every seat is up for grabs but his.
Conversely, to maintain the stagnant status quo, the top tier of the horribly fractured local Republican apparatus (and the uber-wealthy insiders they represent) drafted Mr. Johansson (the darling of the Donor Class with a current war chest totaling nearly $61,000) to ensure a continuation of the same obstructionist strategy that has left Mr. Brower as ineffectual as a neutered dog since he took office.
Chairman Brower has enthusiastically endorsed Doug Pettit for the At-Large seat as he seeks to stack the deck going into the second half – and Mr. Pettit has eagerly piggybacked on Brower’s popularity – essentially running on a promise of becoming the Chairman’s rubberstamp. . .
After the “debate,” once the Little Republican’s omission was pointed out to him, Mr. Johansson published a sanctimonious screed on the popular Facebook forum, Volusia Issues, broadsiding Brower with a thinly veiled insinuation regarding the “motivations” behind why Boyd was not invited, which read, in part:
“I am a person of integrity and ethical values. My integrity is not for sale either. I find it appalling that Chair Brower, and Terri Brower, who were both in attendance, advised or otherwise allowed the TARS to have a debate that included Doug Pettit, Andy Kelly and myself while choosing to omit Candidate Sherrise Boyd. The reasoning was not explained when asked by a citizen at the event, which further puts into question the motivation for excluding one candidate while including the others.
We talk about transparency in government, trust in government and voting for people who will do the right thing. I choose to do the right thing and call it like I see it.
This was either a gross misjudgment or a blatant omission and a poor example of leadership for our youth. I don’t blame the kids. It became obvious after the event this was not the doing of the young adults but a call by the advisors. I leave it to the voters to judge who and what motivated the exclusion of Ms. Boyd.”
Appalling I say! (Please read using your best Claude Rains impersonation. . .)
I don’t know about you, but – as a fellow sinner – I am always suspicious of anyone who feels the need to remind me of their “…integrity and ethical values.”
So, why didn’t the righteously indignant Johansson hike up his skirt and flee the dais in all his pious outrage once he became aware that the Junior GOP had snubbed Ms. Boyd?
In my view, if elected, Jake “The Snake” Johansson will fit right in with his fellow marionettes of the “Rich & Powerful” on the dais of power in DeLand. . .
At one fell swoop, Johansson exposed who, and what, he truly is – and I suspect the vast majority of Volusia County voters who elevated Chairman Brower to power over another entrenched (and incredibly well-financed) establishment backed opponent do not like what they see.
Unfortunately, rather than remain above the fray, Chairman Brower – the senior elected leader of Volusia County government – succumbed to the mindless urge to respond to Johansson’s opportunistic tripe with his own grammatical nightmare on Volusia Issues:
“Jake it is interesting to see your strategy as a bully and a liar laid out all over Facebook. Interesting team you have. It was obvious in the forum you were desperate rude and uneasy, calling your opponents jokers and informing the crowd you wanted to get in the britches of Tom Leek and Tom Wright, whatever that means. (Wait? Excuse me?)
But when you attack my wife, son, and the rest of the teenagers on the board I will not let it stand. These young people are not on Facebook, they are busy studying, working, and taking action. You are clearly the candidate of big government republicans led by Paul Deering and Vic Baker who accompanied you to video your performance.
The adult who invited you was my wife the Student Advisor. She did so at the request of the TAR’s board. I know that doesn’t sit well with Deering or Baker because they can not control her or the board. However, this is not about the adults. TAR’s is about the teenagers learning about civics and government. Sadly they are learning about the corruption in government at all levels. Thank you for your instruction.”
(“And the Academy Award for the most Bombastic Pettifoggery by a Sitting Elected Official not officially in the race goes to. . .”)
The fact is, Ms. Boyd should have been invited to participate in the debate – because excluding her is patently unfair – both to the candidate, and the public.
And Mr. Brower should know that.
In my view, if Mr. Johansson was truly offended, he should have taken his leave – not sat through the “debate” gaining whatever horseshit advantage is transferred by a group of politically exploited teenagers (who, in my view, should spend more time in an English class and less debating the fine points of local partisan politics. . .)
Unfortunately, rather than seize the opportunity to be the adult in the room, rise above the bickering and demonstrate true leadership, Sherrise Boyd – someone I consider a politically astute influencer, advocate, and civic activist – also went on a self-serving Facebook rip that, in my view, has bruised her image and credibility.
In her wide-ranging, numbered, collated, and itemized rant, Ms. Boyd – who, according to reports, had already been heard by the TAR’s group before Kelly entered the race – accused Chairman Brower of colluding with Pettit, feeding him “notes” ahead of the event, and encouraging Andy Kelly to run as a means of shunting votes away from her, before questioning the Volusia Teenage Republicans lineage:
“As for the hosting group, they knew I was a candidate and I was not invited, which was 100% intentional and morally disgusting. Future leaders already being ethically corrupted… inbred may be a better terminology.”
Unfortunately, rather than exemplifying the sangfroid the citizens of Volusia County are desperately seeking in our elected leadership, Ms. Boyd opted to wallow in the muck with an emotional overreaction:
“F*ck Jeff Brower and his ENTIRE cheating ass assembly team. People are seeing Jeff for what he really is.”
The fact is, I like Ms. Boyd.
She has invited me on her social media forum in the past and clearly has some important things to add to the conversation. In my experience, Ms. Boyd is a person of great poise and grace – and she has become well respected in Volusia County for her community advocacy role.
While I am a leading proponent of the inspirational “votes beat money” chantey – with just $2,280 in the bank less than three-months ahead of the August primary election – it does not appear Ms. Boyd’s message is resonating with grassroots voters this year.
Unless she is running for the name recognition alone, perhaps it is time for Ms. Boyd to resume her important work as an influential voice in Volusia County civic affairs and leave this unbecoming mudslinging to the professionals?
Look, I realize we live in a time when anything goes in the political arena, but many I have spoken with were taken aback by Ms. Boyd’s response. Regardless, I hope she feels better after venting her spleen, because following that over-the-top diatribe she has as much chance of winning this election as I do. . .
In my view, Jake Johansson – who started this silly brouhaha like the cheap shot artist he has now proven himself to be – has some significant questions of his own to answer:
Like what he knew, and when, about the raging scandals that rocked the Port Orange Police Department during his tenure as City Manager – to include what role, if any, Johansson played in trashing the courageous young whistleblower who brought to light serious allegations of corruption by a former member of the department’s command staff?
What exactly did Mr. Johansson mean in his mysterious memorandum of resignation to the Port Orange City Council less than two years ago, when he cryptically limped away:
“After many hours of thought as well as discussions with family and friends I have decided to resign as the City Manager of Port Orange to concentrate on my family, my health and explore new opportunities.”
“My current situation precludes me from devoting the time necessary to adequately concentrate on the city in the manner that is enough to meet the needs of our citizens and at the level that you and I both expect.”
And why are Volusia County’s influential insiders – those oligarchs with a real chip in the game – making massive contributions to Mr. Johansson’s campaign if he isn’t of a like mind with those who seek to cram more overdevelop into our dwindling natural places, expect a Pavlovian response to their every want and whim, and have a demonstrated need for keeping the public teat patent for all the right last names?
Don’t take my word for it – enjoy the “Who’s Who” of Volusia County here: https://tinyurl.com/ypn454y5
Voters have a right to know.
In my view, it is also time for Chairman Brower to stop embarrassing himself (and us) with these desperate political blunders that undermine the public confidence.
Didn’t he learn anything from Old Ed Kelley’s near-constant bloopers, gaffes, and five-alarm foul-ups?
Frankly, this weird Siamese Twin sideshow act that Brower and Doug Pettit are staging is wearing thin with a bone-weary constituency desperate for change.
By all accounts, Mr. Pettit is a good guy – a political outsider and a viable candidate – perfectly capable of presenting his own views on the issues of the day without Jeff Brower manipulating him through his lower colon like a sock puppet.
At least I hope he is. . .
Regardless, whatever the Volusia Teenage Republicans represent, in my view, a youth organization should never be used as a dull political tool – especially one less than arms-length from the sitting Volusia County Council Chair.
The reasons for that should now be self-evident.
I don’t make this shit up, folks.
This is the type of abject buffoonery that deflects from the issues and passes for political discourse in Volusia County – and why we remain the laughingstock of other Central Florida communities who rightfully view the eastern terminus of I-4 as a cautionary tale. . .
With all the issues we face in Volusia County, this is what its come to?
Sadly, I am not sure why I expected better of the current crop of candidates – but I did.
Screw it. Let the games begin. . .
Quote of the Week
“Even with two adults in the household working, large numbers of Volusia County families — about 45 percent — are struggling to afford housing, food and health care.”
–Noah Hertz, writing in the West Volusia Beacon, “Report paints grim picture of local families,” Saturday, May 21, 2022
Recently, residents of Volusia County received grim confirmation of what nearly half of working families here on the Fun Coast already know: Someone you know is struggling mightily to meet basic living expenses.
“Essentially what it means is our community’s working poor,” United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties President Courtney Edgcomb told The Beacon. “They might have a car, own their own home, they have assets of their own. They, however, are not making enough to survive in this community.”
Unfortunately, the data compiled in the United Way’s recent ALICE statistics (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) is from 2019, which means current impacts (did I mention I paid $4.49 a gallon to fill up the Lone Eagle this week?) may be worse than reported. . .
In other “News of the Absurd” – with tens-of-thousands of local families fighting to stay off the street (literally) – in December, the Volusia County Council – who continues to drag their clay feet on doing anything of substance to address the affordable housing crisis – voted to give County Manager George “The Wreck” Rectenwald and County Attorney Mike “Nuttin’ to Hide” Dyer a generous 4% pay increase, bringing their annual salaries to $237,217 and $221,738 respectively.
These people work for you and me. How do you think they are doing?
Last week, our tone-deaf elected dullards on the Volusia County School Board opted to gift our “new” Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Carmen Balgobin, a $245,000 salary, a district-owned car, and other lucrative perks that bring the total package to a whopping $283,583. . .
This extravagance in a place where the median household income is $52,407 – while the required living wage (2 adults both working/1 child) is now estimated at $63,537 annually – with over 82,000 Volusia County families living below the poverty level?
You read that right.
What? You didn’t receive the same consideration for your arduous work schlepping boxes from A to B at (enter warehouse/distribution center/big-box store here)?
Despite what we will be told on the dusty campaign trail this summer, no one on the dais of power in DeLand gives two-shits. . .
Vote like your quality of life depends upon it.
And Another Thing!
Happy Days are here again! Again!
For some, anyway. . .
This week another top-secret enterprise – code named Project Success (of course) – was unveiled as a “massive members-only” Costco Wholesale to be constructed at the publicly underwritten One Daytona shopping and entertainment complex.
As I’m sure you know, One Daytona is owned by the billionaires at NASCAR – and was the beneficiary of some $40 million in taxpayer-funded “incentives” – lucrative spiffs and props that I just bet your mom-and-pop wasn’t offered when you were jumping through the myriad bureaucratic hoops required to start a small business in these parts. . .
According to an excellent report by business editor Clayton Park writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal this week, we learned the 150,000 square foot behemoth will be built on 17-acres west of the CMX multiplex.
“They’re coming to One Daytona and more importantly they’re coming to Volusia County,” said Roxanne Ribakoff, the president of the One Daytona entertainment/retail complex.”
Well, yes. Costco is coming to One Daytona, ipso facto, they are coming to Volusia County – but, when touting another “win-win” from Team Volusia, I suppose no point is too insignificant not to blow out of proportion, eh?
Once again ignoring the potential unintended consequences of “progress,” Daytona Beach City Commissioner Stacy Cantu was in an absolute swoon over the news, apparently because it will benefit her personally:
“I’m happy we’re going to have a Costco here so I don’t have to drive to Orlando,” she said. Cantu is a past member of the chain, but switched to the Sam’s Club wholesale store on LPGA Boulevard because she got tired of making the long drive to the Costco at Altamonte Springs.
“I’m a member of Sam’s, but I prefer Costco,” Cantu said. “I think they have a better quality of stuff.”
Cantu said the city planning staff has had preliminary discussions with One Daytona for a prospective tenant identified by the codename “Project Success” but didn’t know that it was going to be a Costco store. “All they knew was that it would be a big box store with a gas station,” she said.”
Look, I think it’s swell that Commissioner Cantu took to the front page to educate us on her brand loyalty, but what about:
The city’s consideration and mitigation of potential impacts to area small businesses?
Strategies for dealing with increased regional traffic on International Speedway Boulevard?
The continuing lack of public input and transparency in the development approval the process?
Well, unlike the rest of us rubes, at least city planners had a heads-up that it was a “big box store” and not, oh, a medical waste incinerator, right? Because ‘jobs-are-jobs’ in the fast and loose game of “economic development” here on Florida’s Fun Coast, where anything is possible. . .
Courageously, those who have rolled the dice, met the exorbitant lease requirements, and located small boutiques and specialty shops in the One Daytona complex (where many others have failed and fled) appear to be masking their trepidation with faux-excitement – the same fear a guppy must feel right before it is swallowed whole by a Great White Shark – as the fifth largest retailer in the solar system prepares to plant itself next door.
“Nicole Mabry, owner of the Ashley Lane Boutique women’s apparel shop at One Daytona, said she was thrilled to learn that Costco is coming.
“I hope it makes One Daytona even more of a destination than it already is,” said Mabry. “I think it will help draw shoppers from an even wider area.”
Mabry opened her store at One Daytona in August of last year. “We’re doing good,” she said.”
I would be scared shitless – screaming through my tears to anyone who would listen, “Who thought it was a good idea to locate a warehouse club selling bulk merchandise at rock bottom prices in my parking lot?”
Look, I’m not an expert like those “planners” at the City of Daytona Beach and Team Volusia’s self-perpetuating “economic development” shim-sham – but I wonder if our mystics have factored the fallout of locating a big-box retailer in the “symbiotic” setting of the One Daytona campus – and its unavoidable impact on the interdependent relationships of its much smaller tenants as Costco naturally absorbs sales?
In addition, the question for many remains – will the usurious “Enhanced Amenity Fee,” a one percent before sales tax levy on all goods and services purchased at One Daytona, also apply to Costco?
And whatever became of all the “amenities” we were told this tax by another name was supposed to provide?
Look, despite the enraptured cooing from our elected dullards, we all knew it was coming.
After all, those Parrotheads moving into the gazillion zero lot-line cracker boxes crammed into the faux-beach community of Margaritaville, and the thousands locating to the “lifestyle” subdivision of Mosaic, the future residents of the “city within a city” at Avalon, our new neighbors in those sticks-and-glue “lux apartments” on Boomtown Boulevard, and the. . . (you get the picture) expect things like Costco, right?
Given our newfound demographical cachet, I’ll just bet Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and other “upscale” retail concerns will be sniffing around as well.
Times, they are a changing’ – and if you own or are employed by a small business in Volusia County – welcome to the “progress” we were promised. . .
I hate to be the proverbial turd in the punch bowl but be careful what you wish for.
You just might get it. . .
That’s all for me.
I hope you will join me in taking a solemn moment this Memorial Day weekend to remember those brave souls who secured our freedom by making the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great nation.
A Hero Remembered Never Dies. . .