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Charter – Yes and No

From Sec. 4.11: Action taken at a special meeting shall be limited to the purpose for which the special meeting is called.

The Mayor wanted to re-visit the “roll call vote” – this was not on the Agenda. There was a general notice: “Mayor and Comments”. It could be anything. Everything. Not good enough for a Special Meeting – not good enough for a Mayor calling for better communication.

Roll Call Voting – From the Charter 4.13: Roll call voting shall be required upon the specific request of a Council member and shall be recorded in the minutes; otherwise, voting shall be by ayes and nays.

A continuing resolution was passed calling for a roll call vote on each issue – so this provision has been satisfied. This current Council will be there next year. Each new Council should decide if they want to keep roll call voting – roll call voting is a better way to communicate one’s vote. Who wants better communication for the citizens? It’s hard to hear in the peanut gallery. Also, the Mayor does not always state his vote: he says unanimous or 4-1 if he dissents. So there is a leap to see how the vote went down. Clear communication? Roll call voting. It’s been addressed via a resolution. Does the Mayor really want each issue to have its own call for a roll call vote when that desire has been motioned for, discussed and passed by the Council?

CM Brady wanted a consensus on sending an email to VGMC – not on the agenda. A consensus is a vote and vice versa. The Mayor wants one on one meetings with Council members – not on the agenda.

So we violate the Charter on Special Meetings by talking about non-agenda items, only for the Mayor to try and enforce the Charter on roll call votes.

The Agendas are not being put together properly – and all of this came to me while I was watching the meeting – why not anyone up there – City Manager, City Attorney or the 5 Council members? Does it matter? Not for me to decide. But to enforce one part of the Charter and not the other – well…no…I guess friends of some party or other would say it’s fair: it all depends on whose ox is gored.

No public participation at special meetings for items not on the agenda - per the charter, a special meeting should only be taking up issues on the agenda and citizens may speak about those issues only – but when something as general as “Mayor and Council comments” appears – it’s not good governing or managing. Anything can and did come up - the agenda is not specific enough. It’s happened before with extending the City Manager’s contract. It should be addressed.

Are Councilmembers not asking for specifics to be put on the agenda? Or, are they asking for specifics to be put on the agenda and it is not happening? I don’t know.

One on one meetings will be publicly noticed and the public may attend. It should be at the 6 or 7 time slot in the evening so the public may attend. If it’s at 2PM, well…it’s called “Public office”.

I don’t think public participation should be included in these one on one meetings – perhaps I’m wrong. I think it should just be the Council members talking to each other and for the public to listen – this might be some ground on which the Mayor and I agree…oh, Lord…and the holiday season is almost upon us…could it be? Could it be?

Norm Erickson




Augury – it’s not what’s used to bore holes

I don’t think much will be changing over the next 12 months. Probably the biggest change will be CM Dwyer not bringing up his issues with the Mayor because he’s not getting enough backing from the other three Councilmembers. Let me be clear: CM Carson, Brady and VM Handy-Peters have all addressed the issues with the Mayor. That has happened – but not enough. I know CM Brady motioned for a censure with no second; censure should be re-visited and passed. I was not of that opinion before but the Mayor’s treatment and utter disrespect towards the Vice Mayor (as well as other issues) on the dais and on social media warrants a return to censure and/or a vote of “no confidence”.

But here is how I see it: we’ve had a couple of months where the agenda and agenda items have not been up to snuff. The “TOD Development” meeting should have been noticed as a “Council Workshop” with an agenda online. We had 4 Councilmembers present and “voting” with stickers – I don’t think CM Dwyer “voted” but still. Was this filmed? I hope so.

Update: I've been told that VM Handy-Peters gave her stickers away and therefore did not "vote" on issues. If that is the case with all Councilmembers, please let me know. It has also been reported to me that some tricky business was being done with the stickers: putting a green sticker over a red one to cancel it out.

With this going on at the staff level and the Council not working together – things are not properly being addressed. Twice the Council voted on the Cardroom issue this year and there was no formal application submitted – an affront to both the owner and DeBary’s citizens in terms of due process and fairness.

This will continue for the next 12-15 months because unless the Mayor steps down, there won’t really be a change in the dynamic until after next year’s election and then not until January of 2017 and even then it will take a few months after being installed into office. What will the change be after next year’s election?

Well, if two friends of Mayor Johnson’s are elected to office things will go from bad to worse. If we have two people who realize how dysfunctional things are going can get in and start to address it and get some support from CM Brady and the Vice-Mayor the ship can stop listing and tacking.

No, I’m not running for office; so I’m actually sharing my opinion in the hopes of getting two good people up there on the dais not promoting myself – sometimes people really do say what they mean and mean what they say without ulterior motives – but it is so rare in life and non-existent in politics that we never expect it.

And even then, when there is someone on the dais exhibiting those very qualities of principle and core beliefs, we do not perceive it.

Too few practice themselves; therefore, they fail to recognize it in others.

So, this is about as good as it’s going to get. CM Carson, Dwyer, Brady and Vice-Mayor Handy-Peters are all used to working with adult and mature people in public office and their respective jobs – so dealing with people like the Mayor or Mort is so foreign they are appropriately thrown off as to how to deal with this.

I’ve worked with teenagers for eighteen years, so I have an advantage.

CM Dwyer has taken the lead on this and the other three need to work together for the benefit of the City. Again, CM Carson, Brady and VM Handy-Peters have been addressing it, but the Mayor is not going to change – he doubles down after the “counseling” session(s) on social media and it just goes on and on.

Mayor Johnson has been the subject of two newspaper editorials by two different newspapers – unprecedented? Monarch, immature, laughingstock. He still believes he has nothing to do with it. That’s not going to stop. Mayor Johnson on Facebook said this about past Mayors on October 12th:

So please tell me, should I stop everything I've been working towards and go back to status-quo "do nothing that might be controversial" mayorship we have had for many years or keep fighting to move DeBary forward.

What Mayors is Mr. Johnson referring to? I’ll say this, Mayor Rosamonda took the CRA issue through the EDAC process, brought it to a vote for the Council via an agenda item, and when it went down 4-1 against Mayor Rosamonda, he never turned to any of his Councilmembers and told them they suck. Mayor Smith? Mayor Coleman or Mayor Garcia? Mayor Johnson needs to apologize to these individuals for impugning their character via social media. “Status quo ‘do nothing that might be controversial’”? Stunning. So disrespectful. So ignorant of past City history. And the Mayor that is stating this hasn’t brought anything to the table. He does not challenge the status quo, he preserves it with this double talking, loophole finding, can’t give you a whole and truthful answer behavior. This from the man who could not second the vote to start the process to change the language to allow cardrooms – an issue he championed at the same meeting for half an hour or more. He describes past Mayors as “do nothing”. Hypocritical. Insincere. Two-faced.

Get used to it. Because it’s going to be that way until at least January of 2017…and if Mayor Johnson has it his way, he’ll get two friends on the Council to keep the madness going by a vote of 3-2.

DeBary POP will not be around to cover any of it.

Then again, what good did POP do against the 56% that put Clint Johnson in office over experience and a steady hand to govern DeBary?

How’s that Clint Johnson vote workin’ for ya?

Pretty soon, he’ll blame you for voting him into office.

Norm Erickson


The Mayor has stated on Facebook that he does not like “trash talk”. Good. Now he knows how citizens in general and Glen Abbey residents in particular feel about Mort Culligan’s commentary. The Mayor doesn’t like trash talk? Good. Now he knows how VM Handy-Peters feels. What is closer to the truth is that it's not "trash talk" but "truthful talk" that is causing the discomfort.

There is a drumbeat on Facebook that “haters” are attacking the Mayor – who, by the way, has done all of this stuff – just ask him. The “haters” are just being mean and none of it is based in reality. It’s jealously. Bitterness. Hate. Negative thoughts or just negativity.

How dare people take issue with anything the Mayor has done.


Went up to the Vice Mayor and said, “You suck!”

Went up to CM Brady and said “That sucked!”

Put the whole City through the gyrations of the Cardroom/Gambling when no application was submitted.


Posted on Facebook “Liberal Lita” Do I embellish? And then the Mayor tries to turn it on VM Handy-Peters that somehow she is at fault for their inability to communicate.

Posted on TeamClint.com thoughts about an ongoing lawsuit and the City Attorney at the Oct. 7 th agreed that no such discussion should be had in public. Do I embellish?

Uses profanity at meetings which undermines at best or contradicts at worst the profanity aspect of the decorum policy on display during the meeting.


The Mayor hasn’t done any of these things or a litany of others. It’s the haters.

From the Mayor on FB – 10/12:
If you voted for me to change stuff and bring new ideas, well here I am, doing exactly that only to be met with relentless insult, critique, and negativity by my colleagues and a vocal minority of bitter residents.
I'm frustrated with the BS and lack of anything getting done so I can imagine you, the residents, are even more-so.

Ok. I’ve dealt with this before. What “new ideas” and “change stuff” has the Mayor brought to the City in terms of City issues? What? Lots of stuff that he could have done as a private citizen. He phoned it in during the City Manager interviews and offered nothing during the budgeting.

The Mayor will continue to beat this drum of bringing new ideas or trying to bring new ideas but it’s just talk. Repeat it enough and it will stick. It will become fact.

The Mayor is still stung over the gambling issue not going his way.

The Mayor, who is proud to operate in loopholes and gray areas has a problem with embellishments. The Mayor who stated: “…for every law, there's a way around the law, and I found my way around it. ” From Clint as it relates to the Mayor’s Mailbox: "Not going to be a true and whole answer."

This is a guy who has problems with embellishments? No, of course not. This is a guy who is tired of getting called out on his behavior and BS so he uses words like “hater” and “embellishments” and how people are trying to keep his innovations and revolutionary ideas from becoming a reality for a better DeBary, a better world and a better solar system. The Universe is something the Mayor will tackle in that second term. Ok, now that was kind of an embellishment…but just kind of.

I think the current four members of the Council should just move ahead – not because the Mayor deserves a pass on past behavior or current or future behavior, but because the City deserves peace – and focus on actual City issues that exist. Not someone’s patter about branding and voting on computers and tech corridors and all this stuff that the Mayor puffs up but still remains to be so much air.

The Mayor attends a conference in Washinton D.C. and comes away with the same two dozen ideas that everyone else comes away with. He sticks it in a memo and then is dazed and confused why this stuff isn’t being passed by the other Council members. Mayor, put it on the agenda, with summary sheets and information. Sell it, Mr. Entrepreneur. Stick it in a memo and then expect it to just exist? Are you kidding me?

I don’t know why the Mayor ran for office to work within a cumbersome, onerous government bureaucracy he can’t stand so he looks for loopholes to work around the system he campaigned to work within. Does he just want to do away with government and make it a business model?

Norm Erickson


Finally Talking

It was quite a meeting on October 7 th…and I’m not talking about what happened with Mort Culligan.

There was more going on up on the dais with the Councilmembers particularly the Mayor and VM Handy-Peters. Clearly they do not get along – a famous line by a former Councilmember…he knows who he is and he’s smiling right now.

While I give credit for the Mayor sitting there and going through the litany of issues that the other four Councilmembers have with him, what he had to say was met with quite a bit of concern.

As it relates to the Mayor’s Mailbox and whether it is private or public the Mayor’s response was, “I found the loophole in the law…a gray area.” And that’s where the Mayor’s Mailbox exists although I have the legal bills from the City Attorney when the Mayor talked to him about this issue. A politician looking for a loophole? It’s a replay of the Mayor’s signs when he was campaigning: since he received a permit, he could put the signs up for a longer period of time: a loophole.

It goes on.

In talking about the Mayor’s Mailbox the Mayor stated he’s going to “do what I want”. Including talking about a lawsuit that he shouldn’t have been talking about – per the City Attorney.

He accused VM Handy-Peters of being jealous as it relates to the Mayor’s Mailbox. The Mayor offered to apologize for his past behavior to the Vice Mayor but the apology was contingent on her accepting it and moving forward. Wow.

What does all of this mean?

It means we have a perfect storm up on the dais: We have the Mayor carrying water for Mort Culligan’s commentary because the Mayor detests government and bureaucracy as much as Mort Culligan – so we have Mort’s commentary as a distraction. And if I’m totally wrong on that, then we have a Mayor who claims he doesn’t know what nice language is and what isn’t. He’s so concerned to be fair and consistent and follow a decorum policy and not find a loophole to prevent citizens from being verbally insulted or at least discourage profanities…I told the Mayor after the meeting that he can’t enforce a decorum policy and not allow profanity at the podium if he’s using profanity himself multiple times during a single meeting. He agreed with me outside and I hope he watches it in the future. I’ve told him this before. “Damn” is in the Bible so we can use it at the podium? No. We have a decorum policy. The Mayor enforced the policy to kick two people out after Mort Culligan used profanity a couple of meetings ago. Interestingly, if you watch the October 7 th meeting, Mort Culligan, ultimately, was kicked out not for insulting residents or cursing, it was because he pointed to the back of the room. Really? Pointing but not cursing or calling people various names or the very real issue of not speaking to the agenda item.

We have a Mayor that will do anything and look for loopholes to start projects within cutting his Councilmembers out of the collaborative process yet spending taxpayer money. So we have those distractions. We have a start – stop - start situation with the City Manager. We have CM Dwyer going through six or seven issues with the Mayor complete with documentation to substantiate and no commentary from VM Handy-Peters or CM Brady or Carson. I don’t know if those three agreed or not with CM Dwyer – I know they were hit cold with the information which goes back to another issue: the agendas are not being put together as well as they should be - I don’t appreciate what is going on with the agenda. Both CM Dwyer and the Mayor need to know where the other three Councilmembers are on the issues raised by CM Dwyer. A perfect storm. When I told my wife about the last meeting she asked, “What city issues were covered?” I couldn’t even remember. A perfect storm wherein the issues of the City are being marginalized at best and lost at worst.

Ultimately it was a good meeting in that at least we are talking. The Mayor will not be back for the October 21st meeting or the November 4th meeting. Which means unless there is a workshop mid-November, it will be a month or six weeks before all five members will talk again. I know the Mayor wanted meeting dates moved but that did not happen. Regularly scheduled meetings should not be moved - unless a quorum can’t be reached. As to the October 21 st workshop…it wasn’t moved.

Mort Culligan did his thing and he will continue to do it. It’s up the Council to take care of that – every time Mr. Culligan speaks it is a good thing…it’s an opportunity for the Council to decide what is and what is not allowed. If the Council continues to abdicate that duty, then you're going to get what happened at the last meeting.

In the past I defended Mr. Culligan more than anyone and that’s fine. No problems. But he’s changed over the last months. Where he used to cite facts, numbers, etc,. he now talks about the flag, the constitution, other cities and none of it is a City issue and/or it’s not on topic to the agenda item. . This issue with Mr. Culligan has escalated. My guess is it will continue to do so; I’ve never wanted to be more wrong.

It’s not complicated to know what is allowed or not allowed. It is outlined in the policy and a general philosophy is needed – not an attempt to predict an infinite number of possibilities which is what the Mayor likes to do with this issue but not the Mayor’s Mailbox – he’ll just do it in a loophole.

Lastly, do not ban Mr. Culligan from open City Council Meetings, Councilmembers – instead, openly accept him and use it to decide what you will and will not allow. It’s a good thing. You can start by asking Mr. Culligan, "What is your City issue?" and go from there.

Norm Erickson



Before we get into this – all legal questions should be directed to the City Attorney – not answered by elected officials. Mayor Johnson has not followed this route. He just fires away with a response that can be used against the City and he does so on the Mayor’s Mailbox…is that really why he started it? Check out 9/19 Editorial below for full story...


The Mayor’s Mingle Mangle

Responding to the Mayor

Part 5 of 6 in Act II of a Five Act Series

From Clint Johnson – Posted of FB – my commentary is in red italics . Haven’t done this in a while and, yes, it is fun to do:

No one loves DeBary more than I do. I'll die here and I'd never trash it. You did trash DeBary to Team Volusia – you don’t remember that? You trashed our whole way of doing development here – did you offer any solutions to improve it or did you run for office to just complain about it?

But until we start seeing her for exactly what she is, we will never become all we can be. And only you can tell us what “she” is, right? And only you know that – not the residents. “We will never become all we can be.” Great rhetoric. What can we be? What are you talking about? You are no longer campaigning, Mayor. We campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Drop the flowery campaign rhetoric and contribute to City issues that are actually on the agenda.

I didn't say those things to Team Volusia to aimlessly kick people in the shins. I said it to kick people in the ass and get this conversation started and moving forward. But you ran for office – shouldn’t you be leading the conversation? Move forward how? By voting on projects that haven’t submitted an application? But unless you’re on Facebook, you don’t talk at Council meetings. Where is this “conversation” to take place? With you and your supporters only?

An aside: I’m telling you people, if the Mayor gets two friends on the Council next year, this City will fundamentally change. There will be no discussion – things will just be voted through or denied. POP will not be around covering things and as you can see by the DBNJ Editorial, by the time the newspapers get to it, it’s too late. Ok, back to it:

And I said it there (at Team Volusia meeting – Norm) because we are waiting for that worthless organization to save us but they simply aren't bringing anything to the table. You’ve brought nothing to the table. Not for the budget. Not for finding a City Manager. Going to conferences and asking for money and incubators – great job.

I certainly don't do these things because it's easy, actually it's the least fun thing I've ever done. But I believe I was put in this office to kick DeBary in the ass and get it going. And smooth talking diplomacy wasn't going to do it. Smooth talking diplomacy isn’t any better than whimsical high pressure sales pitches either, Mayor. You keep referencing DeBary and what she can be and where we are going and what we’re going to do. And it’s all pie in the sky. What exactly are you talking about? You use platitudes about “being better” and “going forward” and all of that – does that mean when a project comes along and you’re for it we all have to vote for it and if we don’t…then…we suck?

I know what the Mayor’s idea is because he told me back in May: he wants registered voters to log into their computer and vote on City issues. I don’t know where to start. How about we have a representative republic and not a democracy? How about hacking the system? How about, you do the job you ran for and make decisions? How about the Mayor does not invest all of this time, effort and energy into abdicating his responsibilities for which he campaigned? However, I could be wrong. So let’s wait.

Thus ends Part 5 of 6 in Act II of a Five Act Series. Part 6 will transition into Act III - a 7 Part editorial - wherein I will actually try to help the Mayor by using a time-tested book often cited by a former Councilmember...wait for it...

Norm Erickson


From the Mayor's Mailbox:

Hello Diane,

BOTH towers are hung up in lawsuits. The third tower that would have almost met the unrealistic city codes and been out of the way behind Riviera Bella on a 100 acre parcel of otherwise unusable land was stopped because the property owner was scared of the negative image he might create for his development by pursuing it.

I said once something along the lines of “no matter how accommodating the proposal in DeBary, you will be met with unreasonable city restrictions (highlights by Norm) & law suits.” The council subsequently apologized on my behalf for that statement. So I am not sure what I can say about this. I’ll let you decide.


From Norm:

Mr. Mayor, if we're being sued it would be best for you not to give ammunition and perhaps be called as a witness as to our codes. "Unreasonable" is not a word to be bandied about while sitting on Council and we're being sued. It's neglectful. It puts our City in harm's way legally. It exposes us to liability.

As an elected official, you may want to take the position not to expose us to further legal liability. You are to be protecting the City not exposing it to more liabilities with your postings. This posting could easily be used by the attorneys suing - if I see it, they do as well. If it occurs to me, it certainly must to them as well.

Please stop.

Please stop posting things on social media because it is not helping our City - and even I don't believe you want to do that - intentionally or not. Please stop. Pretty please. With whipped cream. And a cherry on top.

Thank you,

Norm Erickson


The Mayor’s Mingle Mangle

Part 4 of 6 in Act II of a five Act Series

The Mayor’s Magical Patter

*Patter: a prepared and practiced speech that is designed to produce a desired response from its audience. Many illusionists, e.g., card magicians, use patter both to enhance the show and to distract the attention of the spectators. Source: Wikipedia.

To this day one of my heroes from childhood is Harry Houdini. A man who proved over and over again that bonds or limitations of any kind are merely illusions. As Houdini was dying in a hospital bed eighty-nine years ago this Halloween, he said to the doctor attending him, “You do things that are real. I don’t.”

Houdini, once billed as “King of Cards”, used cards to trick people. To make us believe in something that ultimately isn’t true. Some use cards. The Mayor tried to use a whole cardroom.

The Cardroom issue and all that it entailed perfectly represents the Mayor: lots of talk about something, lots of misdirection, lots of discussion about a project that simply never existed on paper in a Development Agreement or on an application. He was angry that we were not taken in by the deception. Just believe in the magic. The idea. The sales pitch. Believe and be taken in by the Mayor’s magical patter. If you don’t, then, as the Mayor said to the Vice Mayor’s face, “You suck!”.

The Mayor is our wild card. He likes gambling? He was our gamble. Citizens gambled on his youth and inexperience in governing. They took their cue from his campaign patter and he pulled off a masterful trick: getting people to believe in the magic. The magic being Mr. Johnson’s ability to convince enough people that he knows everything from A to Z…but now after nine months, we know Mr. Johnson only knows everything from B to S.

Hey, where’s that incubator the Mayor wanted to happen on September 26th? Where is that group photo that was to happen for the Mayor's Mailbox? Where is the tech corridor discussion? Where is the re-branding of DeBary discussion? Fireball car drive down the coast? Money from the City. He wants to do it all. And all during the time period when we should be focusing on the City Budget and finding a City Manager – oh, but those are City issues…what the heck does that have to do with being Mayor and serving on the City Council. Actually, why did he run for office? I wonder if he really remembers.

Thus ends Part 4 of 6 in Act II of this Five Act Series. Part 5 will deal with what is going to happen at the Special Meeting on Wednesday…because…it’s going to be something, isn’t it? People are asking, “What did the Mayor do now?” instead of, “What’s happening in the City?”

Norm Erickson


The Mayor’s Mingle Mangle – Part 3 of 6 in Act II of a Five Act Series

The Mayor in response to a Citizen:


16 years of long time history and diplomatic ABC processes have gotten us 2 dollars stores, an auto zone, and 4 generations of cows. Perhaps you can appreciate that doing things different is a great way to see things change and that expecting anything else out of status quo politics is insanity.

I didn’t set this city back anything telling a bunch of blowhards at Team Volusia the truth about DeBary and look forward to working with the council to fix the development issues that exist if they are ready to work with me.


How do you want to do things differently, Mr. Mayor? How? How? What have you suggested? Moving public participation to Siberia? Giving you money to drive down the coast? Having a picture for your Mayor's Mailbox? An incubator?

What have you proposed?

The Mayor “look(s) forward to working with council to fix the development issues that exist…”?

The Mayor’s “plan” of expediting development in DeBary is to do…what? Imitate the gambling issue? Just have the Council vote on a project that does not exist on an application to the City, the Planning and Zoning or to the Council? Just vote on the idea of it? Is that the idea? The Mayor is a talker. Talks about stuff and hints at stuff but brings nothing of any substance to improve government. He doesn’t want to talk about any of it…just vote “Yes”.

We’ve all heard the Mayor’s patter: does not like the status quo. Antiquated system. Development issues. Let’s do things in a different way. Let’s revolutionize government and how we govern. Let’s have Mayor-Strong form of government.

He talks a lot about how our system does not work. But what has he proposed? Ask him. What specifically does he want to do? He doesn’t want to explain any of that.

The Mayor’s premise is change. Who is calling for it? Mr. Costa? No. People showing up at Visioning Sessions and at the gambling issue say the opposite: we want our small town atmosphere. But the Mayor wants to shove “change” down our throat as though “change” is banging at our door. As if we are turning away project after project after project after project.

No one is banging at our doors…and many people are just fine with that…but a minority of people are trying to convince us that if we just do something differently…if we just work with the Mayor…let him tell us what to do…just go against the status quo…the way things have been…it will get better.

We’ve grown from five thousand people to almost twenty thousand people…doesn’t look like the status quo and “ABC processes” has stopped our City from growing in a mature way. Maybe our Mayor should give it a try.

When Mayor Johnson posted on Facebook (7/9/15) about Swamp House Grill and urged people to experience it, some people spoke in favor of the restaurant, food, service, etc, but others did not. The Mayor’s response on Facebook:

What do all the negative comments serve to accomplish?
Other people like this place, no need to try and ruin it for them because you weren't satisfied.

Let’s throw the Mayor’s words back at him: Mr. Mayor, why all the negative comments about our City to Team Volusia? What are you trying to accomplish? Why not come to the Council with solutions? What are your solutions to development issues? Other people like our City - no need for you to try and ruin it for them because you aren’t satisfied.

We're doing the budget and looking for a City Manager, Mr. Mayor...just in case you wanted to know...

Thus ends Part 3. The next installment is titled “The Mayor’s Magical Patter”. It is Part 4 of 6 in Act II of a five Act Series.

Norm Erickson


Clint Johnson #1 – his words to Team Volusia – August 25th:

The fact of the matter is, the City of DeBary is an extremely difficult community to develop in.  You will face months of bureaucracy, a close minded and short sighted council, and an aggressive minority of residents that will sue you if you’re fortunate and persistent enough to happen to gain any semblance of the approval you initially sought.

Prepare to spend vastly too much money, time, and effort no matter how simple and accommodating the proposal, just to be met with more regulation and disapproval from city staff and residents years after opening.

On the bright side, If you’re lucky enough to survive the negative public relations your business will suffer from this 2-20 year gauntlet, you will be recognized as a titan of stamina and other more conservative business leaders, who choose more business friendly cities to invest in, will sing your praises for years to come; or until your business dies from a lack of surrounding commerce.

I’ll turn the mic over to our marketing director to put a little polish on this pig and bring back the warm and fuzzy because frankly, my dear. I don’t give a damn.

From Clint Johnson #2 on Facebook – September 3rd at 11:59PM:

“It’ll take a lot more than some “in-person facebook hate” for me to give up the mission of growing DeBary before my term is up.”

From Clint Johnson #3 on Facebook September 4th:

Furthermore, if I didn't give a damn about developing DeBary, I wouldn't have spent 2 days the next week in Orlando meeting developers and retailers from across the country and successfully inviting them to DeBary. Even the owner of the card room property had a big display at the conference to sell his land. You know who didn't have a booth at this event? Team Volusia.

Wait a second, the Mayor invited developers and retailers to DeBary where, to quote the Mayor, “ You will face months of bureaucracy, a close minded and short sighted council, and an aggressive minority of residents that will sue you if you’re fortunate and persistent enough to happen to gain any semblance of the approval you initially sought.

Prepare to spend vastly too much money, time, and effort no matter how simple and accommodating the proposal, just to be met with more regulation and disapproval from city staff and residents years after opening.

Why would he invite them here? Why would they come given what the Mayor has stated?

So does Clint Johnson (CJ) # 2 look at CJ #1 as “hate”? Does CJ#2 look at CJ#1 and say that he is being petty, hateful, and just doesn’t get it? Do the people on Facebook look at CJ#1 and respond: “if you don’t like DeBary, MOVE!!”?

Is CJ#3 frustrated by CJ#1’s commentary to business leaders in Volusia, so he ran to Orlando to try to gin up some business from them?

Does Clint Johnson want to be Mayor of Sanford and Orlando? Does Clint Johnson talk to everyone but his own City Council? Did Mayor Johnson tell his Council members what Clint Johnson intended to say to Team Volusia and get their “ok” to say it?

Who is Clint Johnson really representing? Did Clint Johnson tell those people in Orlando what Clint Johnson said at the Team Volusia meeting?

Mayor Johnson is not only not working with his Council, but he’s also working against himself. He can’t even get on the same page with himself.

He told developers, 70 business leaders, NOT to come to DeBary while inviting other developers and retailers in Orlando to come to DeBary while at the same time the Mayor will not give up the mission to “grow DeBary”. There is a division on the Council and within that division there is division within the Mayor. The Mayor’s self-imposed schizophrenia is not welcoming.

Clint Johnson from September 4th on Facebook after a Counseling session with Council and Citizens:

Will it slow my motivation to bring growth? No.
Do I respect Mike, Rick, & Chris? Yes.

I definitely take into account what all was said but also recognize who said it. People who have publicly admonished me since day one because of the Walmart I'm not going to put much weight in.
I'll continue to attempt to work with council with respect to their advice and communicate with my constituents. I'll make an effort to do these things in a little more tempered manner but do not anticipate not offending someone because people are super easily offended

The admonishment over Walmart was not so much about Walmart – it was about your behavior, Mr. Mayor. The Mayor is so socially ill-equipped that he doesn’t realize that he just insulted Vice Mayor Handy-Peters – again. Or, the Mayor can’t be that ignorant - he must have known that he just stated that he does not respect the Vice Mayor. As to slowing the Mayor’s motivation to bring growth – look at CJ#1’s commentary to Team Volusia.

“Super easily offended”? That’s the Mayor talking about himself again. The Mayor that shut down a meeting and stormed out when the four members were trying to have a conversation about what the Mayor was putting on Social Media. The Mayor that got “super easily offended” when Council members did not vote his way on gambling and he walked up to the Vice Mayor and said, “You suck” to her face. That kind of “super easily offended”? The kind that said words to CM Brady in the foyer after the gambling issue? The Mayor that slams the gavel and has had more than two silent temper tantrums on the dais? That kind of “super easily offended”?

The Mayor denounces behavior he mirrors. Classic.

Clint Johnson is the Mayor of Social Media. We need a Mayor for the City of DeBary. A Mayor whose commentary we can distinguish from Mort’s commentary about how horrible it is to live and develop in DeBary and we are a “pig” in need of “polish” as the Mayor stated to Team Volusia.

CM Carson said there is nothing personal about what the Mayor has done. Ask your Vice Mayor about that, CM Carson.

Thus Ends Part 2 of 6 in Act II of the Mayor's Mingle Mangle. Part III is written and gets to the heart of the Mayor's rhetoric over the last 8 months...

Norm Erickson



I Miss Mayor Garcia…

Act II of the Mayor’s Mingle Mangle

Part 1 of 6

Recent events happening at Council meetings force an Act II to cover what has been going on at workshops and during candidate interviews. Let’s start with the Mayor breaking a campaign promise.

On August 15 th, 2014 I received in the mail a campaign letter, glossy, colorful pictures and lots of words from Clint Johnson. He stated the following: “I will not vote to raise taxes.” The Mayor’s current response to this would be, “Embellishment.” No. Direct quote. Less than a year later the Mayor voted to raise taxes – the Stormwater Assessment tax was doubled. It was doubled to protect our 50 million dollar investment. Last year I wrote an editorial explaining why I was voting for Jack Lenzen. Part of that editorial was Clint Johnson’s ignorance of such a statement on this flyer of not raising taxes no matter what. Not only did the current City Manager see the necessity of maintaining our stormwater system but so did the two City Manager candidates on 7/27. So if this issue had gone through the budget and we raised the mil rate, the Mayor would have voted “No”?

So the Mayor has broken this promise right off the bat. He hasn’t brought much to the budget discussion so far and he brought very little to the City Manager interview meetings – but he sure has much to say on Facebook.

From my editorial on 8/23/2014 which is still on POP Archives 2014:

Mr. Johnson states he “will not vote to raise taxes”. Really? Even if an act of God that causes untold damage and clean-up costs are created and we need to raise taxes to get the City back in order? You won’t vote to raise taxes?

Lastly, I don’t think I’m alone when I ask, why is Mr. Johnson so insistent on being Mayor? I’ve never seen such an urgency and fever to want to be mayor and I've followed these things closely for the last 10 years. This energy of Mr. Johnson's cuts both ways: determination and passion are important and of course we like to see that. But for me there is a line where one seems obsessed with a goal for some reason I can’t fathom. And when I see the desire to elevate the position of Mayor above the Council with Mayor round tables coupled with this insistence of being Mayor, I’m concerned. Admittedly, this is my weakest reason as I can’t point to anything concrete – just intuition guided by experience – but I think many of us put a fair amount of weight on that kind of judgment in our own lives and maybe even when we cast votes.

I’m voting for Jack Lenzen because for the next four years I want Council members talking and listening to each other – that’s what Mr. Lenzen wants - Mayor Roundtables necessarily do not foster that kind of environment. Mr. Lenzen brings experience of both when the City was “flush with cash” and when for the first time we had less revenue coming in one year after another. Jack Lenzen brings an institutional and historical knowledge of the City. Mr. Lenzen has a record of being a good steward of the taxpayer’s money. Mr. Lenzen can be persuaded to another point of view given enough facts and evidence. Mr. Lenzen is open to talking to any citizen about any issue.

End of quote from last year's editorial...

Mayor Johnson extols the benefits of social media being a way to talk to citizens – yes, as long as you agree with him – once you don’t, he blocks you.

Thus ends Part 1 of 6 in this second Act.

Part 2 will cover what a citizen wrote in response to what I posted last year and to see how his concerns have been borne out by the Mayor’s behavior.



Before I get into the main topic of this article, I want to respond to Mayor Johnson’s editorial stating I “embellish” things.

Embellish – From Merriam: to decorate (something) by adding special details and features : to make (something) more appealing or attractive

Ok. Well, I don’t think I’ve been making the Mayor’s behavior more appealing or attractive. I think that’s what he did about himself on his application to be appointed on Council last year.

When I talk about the Mayor’s actual actions of adjourning a meeting without a second or not having a position on an issue he brought to the table, the bipolar nature of not supporting 24/7 business hours to help Glen Abbey while being pro-business and supporting 24/7 business hours – I’m not embellishing. But others may disagree and that’s fine. My opinion and “take away” from the Mayor’s behavior and seemingly lack of connection to the Council is definitely my opinion. Mayor has lots to say to everyone – no doubt –but not much to the Council members. So. Embellishment. Well. Let’s revisit the Mayor’s application to be appointed to the Council last year.

The Mayor filled out an application about himself. About himself. He wrote in his own handwriting that he graduated from Stetson two years after finishing high school. He didn’t graduate from Stetson. He doesn’t have a degree. If the Mayor is accusing me of embellishing, what did he do on an application about himself? Did he lie to make himself look better than he is? OR, he is so incompetent, bungling, unable and inept that he incorrectly filled out an application about himself? Give me embellishment all day long.

What would the Mayor have us believe? This is his response in an email to me that is public record to the question about the application:

“I hastily wrote in there (application –Norm) that I went to Stetson for Business which is true.”

He didn’t write that he “went to Stetson”, he wrote that he graduated from Stetson. Yes, he went there – that’s true, but he didn’t graduate. He then admits:

“I can see now how that could be taken differently than it was intended.”

Yes. If you write that you graduated from Stetson there are those out there that may take it as you graduated from Stetson. I literally just told a citizen this week that the Mayor did not graduate from Stetson – that person was surprised, “He didn’t?” Which means people out there think he did.

Mayor Johnson wants us to eat an excrement sandwich: that he didn’t write down he graduated from Stetson when that’s exactly what he wrote. Then he puts cheese on the excrement sandwich to make it taste better by saying it’s true he went to Stetson so there is some truth in there and…well…it’s all so much…not embellishment…but BS. And he thinks that people accept this.

And of course Mayor Johnson’s inability to fill out the application or lie is my fault because I’m a blogger with hatred in my heart and I’m jealous – yes, that’s why he filled out the application as he did – because there is an error in my behavior. Or your behavior. Or whoever is holding him accountable and expressing an opinion…speaking of which…

When Mayor Johnson posted on Facebook recently (7/9/15) about Swamp House Grill and urged people to experience it, some people spoke in favor of the restaurant, food, service, etc, and others did not. The Mayor’s response on Facebook:

What do all the negative comments serve to accomplish?
Other people like this place, no need to try and ruin it for them because you weren't satisfied.

Wait a minute…is the Mayor trying to tell people they can’t express their opinion? Isn’t that what got the Mayor so upset when he misconstrued what the Council was telling him: Don’t express yourself to the press?

Facebook exists to allow expression – especially the open forum on which the Mayor expressed his. What gives?

Is the Mayor a King and DeBary his fiefdom and if he states something no one can rebut?

So the Mayor can express his opinion and no one else can. This is what is going on in lots of places. The Supreme Court hands down a verdict on gay marriage and the minority of judges that dissented are attacked by those who won on the issue (see George Takei and Clarence Thomas and Google: http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/03/politics/george-takei-clarence-thomas-star-trek/ ) – those who dissent are attacked even when the issue is passed. Look at Walmart. Mort Culligan wanted Walmart. He got Walmart. What is his reaction? He’s upset that citizens challenged the issue and lost – again. Mort goes up to the podium and attacks them after he has won on the issue – this is how winners react? Mort calls others whiners when after he wins on the issue he whines.

It’s not enough to win on the issue – oh no, there are some who will not allow a dissenting voice to exist – they must be made to love what they disagree with. No dissenting voices – Nyet! Verboten! It’s the very ending of George Orwell’s novel 1984 where the main character must be made to love Big Brother – love what he disagrees with. No dissenting. Only one opinion is allowed to be expressed.

It used to be that parties could disagree – but now it’s changing. If you disagree, you will be targeted until you not only agree but “love Big Brother”. Nationally and locally I see it. I see it in our Mayor’s words telling citizens: do not express dissension with what I post.

Norm Erickson

P.S. If you haven't read the article below, please do so. It was at the meeting referenced below that I noticed the Mayor's disconnectedness to the Council and lack of leadership...since then I've only seen more of it and I've put it on POP.



The Elephant(s) in the Room

My original “Elephant in the Room” was kind of a tongue in cheek diddy about how everyone is talking privately about the following: “When in the heck is that Dunkin’ Donuts going to be built?” And then I was going to riff on how WaWa is having their opening before Dunkin’ Donuts (DD) and how the new Police Station will be open before the DD and how the new Walmart will be open before DD and even the 2016 Presidential election will be decided before I can enjoy a cup a coffee, a glazed donut and an angioplasty.

But after attending last night’s workshop, I’m convinced there is another elephant in the room: Clint Johnson does not like being on the City Council.

I don’t mean that in a cynical way or a passing comment. What I saw last night was Mayor Johnson disconnected from this Council. Mayor Johnson certainly connected to the public. 56% of the vote. Besting two former Councilmen. Ok. Great job – really. But now he needs to connect to this Council.

Last night Mayor Johnson, in my opinion, came across as a community liaison. He shared with the Council how he has talked to Merrill Lynch about funding for the new fire house. About how he has talked to Graphic Source about the signage in town. How he has talked to this person about this project and that person about that project. But the feeling I got was that he was on the Council but not of the Council. He was in an advisory capacity to the Council and sounded more like a City Manager than a City Councilmember – sharing information for the other four to possibly take action on.

He’s off doing his own thing and bringing it back to the Council to see what they want to do.

Mayor Johnson was not ready with his short list of City Managers – this is the most important issue any Council will face – but Mayor Johnson had lots to say about social media and his desire to communicate to everyone except the Councilmembers.

This culminated in the Mayor talking about “personal vendettas” against him and “craziness”. He stated the words, “This is why we need a strong mayor type of government.”

I think Mayor Johnson is stymied and frustrated by the fact that he can’t go out to the public and developers and make deals and then NOT be able to come back to City Hall and get to work. He has to talk to THEM (Council) about it.

In the end, the Mayor threw a tantrum and pulled two items from the agenda and shut the meeting off. Before he just willy nilly ended the meeting he asked the Council, “What can I do better?”

I have your answer Mr. Mayor: talk to your Councilmembers as much as you talk on Facebook and to other citizens. You won the election. You connected with the people – connect with the Council. Here’s what you should not do: pull items from the agenda, shut it down, shut down the Council and just adjourn the meeting like a dictator. That’s not winning hearts and minds.

To the other 4 councilmembers: you guys need to come together. If Mayor Johnson leaves, carry on with the meeting – you have a quorum.

Budget: I was wrong. This is quite the budget. Highlights of upcoming spending:

  • Police contracts will be up 4%
  • Fire contracts up 5%
  • Personnel Services salaries and health insurance will see an increase
  • New Fire house: 1.9 million
  • No Name Pump: 400K
  • Technology: 70K
  • Public Safety Building Note comes due: 335K first of 3 annual payments
  • The Stormwater Note needs to be refinanced before it balloons at 4 million next fiscal year.

These are the highlights. Why the fireworks was even mentioned at, I believe, 25K is beyond me and we all know how I feel about that. We’ve got real spending issues now and we can’t afford any more meetings like last night. It’s up to the four Councilmembers to work together.

End Times?

Everyone should be concerned when I tell you that I, Norm Erickson, was finding so much common ground last night with the Carsons, Lombardis, Butlein’s, and CM Carson that I came home and read Revelations, kissed my daughter twice while she was asleep in bed and moved my last will and testament folder to the front of my filing cabinet. I was waiting for Rod Serling to step out from somewhere. I truly felt as surprised and confused as Charlton Heston when he looked up and saw the ape on the pony.

Outcome: given the behavior of the Mayor, certain people are finding that we are going to have to work together despite past disagreements to keep this City on the rails.

Lastly, I shared with CM Carson my idea of building a Visitor Center down at Sunrail. There are no bathrooms down there. There isn’t much of anything down there. A Visitor Center with bathrooms, shelter and food, newspapers, and advertisements for other businesses, events, etc, might be a good idea. I ran it up the flagpole – we’ll see. We should own it and pay for it. Businesses that start developing down there might contribute to the cost – I don’t know. But if others see the City investing in the area maybe it will draw others. Yes, maybe it’s a 1-2 million dollar outhouse, but we have to get something going down there and maybe we have to do it. Maybe it can be connected to some development that is being discussed.

I don’t understand how Sunrail Station in DeBary was constructed without building a structure with bathrooms – it seems that a regulatory agency would have made it mandatory.

The next Council meeting is Wednesday next on July 1st.

Norm Erickson



CM Dwyer – Staying or Going?

Just the facts…and a little speculation

Fact: I attended the last Council meeting about the horse track – a project that was not going to be discussed as stated by Mr. Costa.

Fact: At that same meeting, CM Rick Dwyer asked approximately 87 questions about a project that was not going to be discussed.

Fact: During the Walmart issue at the first meeting, CM Rick Dwyer asked approximately 172 questions – too many of these questions were 2 or 3 part questions.

Fact: Citizens, at meetings and/or on Facebook, routinely criticize CM Rick Dwyer for asking too many questions solely so that he may cast an informed vote.

Fact: Tomorrow night at 8PM on ABC a new show premieres called: 500 Questions.

Fact: I know of only one person who could, on a weekly basis, ask 500 questions: Council Member Rick Dwyer.

And so I’m speculating that CM Rick Dwyer is going to leave the Council for greener pastures to pursue a hosting gig on the ABC TV show: 500 Questions.

Since the show airs on Wednesday nights, it conflicts with his duties on the Council.

Tell me I’m wrong.  I know citizens have asked CM Dwyer about his plans.

Has CM Dwyer denied it? Has he?

Has he?? 

I didn’t think so…

Norm Erickson



The May Mingle Mangle

Part I

Roads don’t pay for themselves either.

I know, but 87% or so of commuters use the roads. Sunrail uses about 2%, I’m being kind, and it is 27 million in the hole after its first year that had a boost of free rides. We are promised that it will make more money next year. The yearly cost is 34 million.

It very nearly met its goals of ridership – and it’s 27 million in the hole. “A good first year,” Mayor Dyer. Not Dwyer…Dyer…as in Orlando. “It’s not a bust,” CM Carson.

This is the cheapest and best year it will ever have.

Sunrail brought in 7 million in revenue. Fares actually account for about 5 percent of SunRail's revenue, but another $5.2 million came in from advertising and rent from the CSX railroad company and Amtrak for using tracks owned by SunRail.

In South Florida, the Tri-Rail commuter train, which has been running since 1987, covered just more than 21 percent of its $75.3 million budget with fares.

Google “Sunrail red” and start reading all the articles. They are out there.


Went over a power point I had on development around Sunrail. Wow, interesting stuff. This was presented to the Council in 2014 by Coldwell Banker Commercial Group.

The power point explains why restaurants like Outback will not build around Sunrail as well as why Dunkin’ Donuts will build in DeBary: population. Dunkin’ wants 10,000 in population – 15,000 in residential – we have that. Outback wants 75,000 population within 5 miles – we don’t have that. Outback wants an average minimum income of 60,000 dollars. Bahama Breeze wants 80% of the population to be a college graduate.

Cheese Cake Factory wants 250,000 people within 5 miles and an average income of 75,000 dollars.

Debary, Orange City and Deltona population total: 115,000. Average income: 63,000 in 2012. 2017 projection: 71,000. We don’t have the population (rooftops) and we barely have the income and as for college graduates, I don’t have the information. I know Rudolph Conoley has five degrees (though none are in “Not Quitting”) and Clint Johnson has one from Stetson University; so the net number of degrees from these two people is four.

Quite simply, we don’t have the population or income to bring the kinds of businesses some people want to see come into DeBary. We would have to literally become something we are not. So, we get Dollar Stores and Dunkin’ Donuts because that is what the market dictates. There is no judgement here. It’s the market and what certain businesses require to do business. We do not fit that model for all businesses and we do for others. To make the argument that we should just whore ourselves to get any and all businesses in town doesn’t not bode well for some or perhaps many of the citizens. But this information in the power point was echoed by Mr. Costa: rooftops. Also, income and, to a lesser degree, college degrees.

Within three miles of the TOD we have anywhere from 21,500 to 36,000 traffic count. On I-4 those numbers are from 86,000 to 95,000; hence the businesses in Orange City right off of I-4.

While it was the hope of the horse track and card room to generate visitors, I don’t know how it could generate the population numbers needed as cited by this presentation. All numerical information contained in these paragraphs originate from the power point.

Mayor Johnson:

Regardless of all the postings on Facebook, the Mayor, quite simply, is a “serial entrepreneur” by his own admission. He talked about CAPITALISM at the Walmart meetings. He spoke in favor of the horse track project. He made it quite plain he was in favor of the project. And then he did not second the motion to simply start the process to change the language to hear the project. Three others joined the Mayor in not seconding. So this should go no further. I talked to Mayor Johnson about this issue of his silence. He told me he wanted to hear the project. I asked him why he did not second the vote. He told me he did not want to vote on it that night. I told him I completely understand that point of view; however, three Council members put it on the agenda to be voted upon. He’s in a leadership position. He spoke in favor of the project. He knocked on over 5,000 doors to become Mayor and vote on issues even those he speaks in favor of – yet he was silent. CM Dwyer and Brady simply asked questions and then remained silent – I assume they are not in favor of going forward. VM Handy-Peters said, literally, two sentences – I saw no evidence of these three of being for or against the project until they remained silent. There is no contradiction of words and non-action – not so with the Mayor.

Coming Soon: May Mingle Mangle Part II



In 2008 I voted against bringing in gambling and the horse track to DeBary. I stand by it. Whether it was a good vote or a bad vote is up to citizens to decide.

It’s 2015 now. We have Sunrail. The hope is that the same project from 2008 would bring enough people, traffic, and visitors to DeBary to motivate other commercial projects to fill in the property with other businesses, a town center, etc,. That is the hope. DeBary, as stated by Mr. Costa and in a presentation months ago to the Council, does not have the traffic or population for certain projects to come here. I’ve read Facebook (FB) postings about Olive Garden or Red Lobster or other such restaurants to come here…we don’t have the traffic or population. Look at Orange City: no Sunrail – booming commercial projects. But, their mil rate is 7.0 or so and ours is 3.0. That might be a false comparison – but what has commercial gotten Orange City? We're a bedroom community. On FB a number of people are happy the project was not heard. "We should be who we are and not try to become something we are not" - that is the general response. We do not have the traffic or population - why create that? In that sense, one asks: was Sunrail put in the wrong spot? Wasn't Saxon Blvd as originally intended a better place? Just questions.

But all of that aside, I would have thought the Council would at least look at the project. To do that the language has to be changed. Sent to Planning and Zoning – passed to Council. Talked about. Passed again at a City Council meeting. At least two meetings. At least. If not a workshop in-between. But this was not wanted. Not even by Mayor Johnson.

Now, if you were at the May 6th meeting or have watched it, I’m sure we will all agree that Mayor Johnson spoke in favor of this project. Of how the million dollars a year is wanted/needed. That no other project, and Johnson listed a number of them, have not come to Mr. Costa for consideration. In short, Mayor Johnson made it abundantly clear that this project needed to be at least heard – if not actually passed at some point.

CM Carson did the right thing: he made a motion “to initiate the process” for language changes. It would go to the Planning and Zoning, etc,. CM Carson made the motion. And...No second. Nothing. Nada. Crickets. Crickets.

I’m stunned still. The Mayor clearly wanted to hear about this project. CM Brady did not want to vote on the issue – but three other Council members did – so, you vote. That’s the leadership position you ran for. Now, I heard no indication that CM Brady was for or against this project. He asked pointed, intelligent questions. VM Handy-Peters said two sentences. CM Dwyer he asked questions. Then he asked questions. And then he asked questions. I couldn’t tell where he was at on the project. But after two hours of a one-sided discussion in favor of a Horse track/Poker room project: no second. Nothing. Even after what Mayor Johnson said in favor of it.

Kudos to CM Carson. I mean it. He knows what he wants and he makes a motion for it. He made the motion. I wanted to at least hear the project – we need to pay for Sunrail and get something going down there. But clearly there is no support for even hearing this project even from the Mayor who spoke so highly in favor of it.

Kudos to CM Dwyer for motioning to put it on the agenda to see where the Council sits on the issue. Putting it on the agenda and making that motion revealed the situation. I know some didn’t want to vote for it right then, but golly gee, it was talked about for two hours in very specific ways: jobs, revenue, layout, etc,. There was more than enough to know if you wanted to move forward or not. And that’s what Mr. Costa wanted to find out.

Has anyone checked on Mr. Costa? Is he ok? Charles Wayne Properties gave Mayor Johnson 150.00 dollars on 7.14.14 for his campaign. Edward Lightman from Charles Wayne Properties, gave 100.00 dollars. Mayor Johnson’s vote cannot be bought. Hell, he can’t even second a motion to hear about a project he praised.

A supermajority of the Council does not want this project enough to give it a second. And that’s just to hear it. So, our new TOD Director has some work to do. Now, who will run our City after the end of the month?

Norm Erickson




Ocala Star Banner



Letters to the Editor for April 7, 2014

Published: Monday, April 7, 2014 at 6:30 a.m.

Race track farce

As the Ocala Star-Banner is well aware, harsh criticism by a number of highly reputable equine organizations and individuals has been leveled against today's opening of what is represented to be a pari-mutuel horse track. Since this so-called track presently consists of a modular construction trailer with Porta Potties as a clubhouse, and a plowed swath of ground in a cattle pasture surrounded by a wooden fence as the track itself, this criticism is well-founded.

As a practicing attorney and horse breeder in Marion County for the past 42 years, I am extremely disappointed that our zoning personnel and County Commission has enabled this so-called race track to be open to the general public as a pari-mutuel racing facility in its present condition.

Where will the patrons sit? What happens if it rains? What provision has been made for traffic to and from the facility? None.

The special-use permit was issued based on 50 people attending, by invitation only. Who in the world would open a pari-mutuel race track with an attendance limited to 50 people? Perhaps someone looking to validate a racing license allowing application to run a casino/card room.

Why would the zoning personnel not see through this? Furthermore, why would they limit the maximum size of the clubhouse but not require at least a reasonable minimum size for the comfort of the patrons, which is the way the special-use permit is crafted.

Maybe someday a real race track will be constructed, although it is suggested by some that the emphasis for these folks will be on the casino/card room aspect of the operation. But it is absolutely atrocious that our local government would allow this farce to be perpetrated on the residents of Marion County in its present state.

Irwin J. Weiner


Thoroughbred threat

My take on the County Commission's discussion of the proposed Oxford Downs “racing meet” is quite different than the Star-Banner's coverage of April 1. The lack of previous attention to this important matter by the Star-Banner makes me wonder just how much influence Steve Gray holds over the newspaper and the County Commission.

It would benefit the Star-Banner to take a trip to Gretna, Fla., and observe the other bogus quarter horse racing that is conducted there. Between Gretna and Oxford, neither is sanctioned by the American or Florida Quarter Horse Associations.

Neither the Star-Banner, nor the commission seem to care that the thoroughbred industry is critical to the economy of Marion County. We provide thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to the area and provide green space that is known throughout the world. Marion County is one of the top four places in the world to raise thoroughbred horses.

Oxford Downs and Gretna are simply “fronts” for other forms of gambling. With one small barn full of quarter horses to make it go, there is no need for the thoroughbred horse. These two entities want to blow FTBOA (Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association) and FHBPA (Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association) out of the water so they can eliminate the need for any thoroughbred horses.

Please do all your homework on this matter before choosing sides. Oxford Downs could be the end of Marion County's thoroughbred industry. Are you willing to live with that?

Bonnie Heath III




The Mingle Mangle

Part V

In 2005 philosopher Harry Frankfurt , a professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University and who previously taught at Yale, published a nonfiction bestseller, that spent twenty-seven weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. The title of the book: On Bullshit.

For someone to lie, there must be a truth to contradict. In finding that truth the liar can then be brought to justice. But there is something worse than lying. This thing worse than lying is often easily perceived by people but difficult to point out because it’s not as definite or conspicuous or obvious as the outright lie. It is called bullshit. And one who bullshits is a bullshitter. The bullshitter does not reject the authority of the truth as the liar does. Indeed, the bullshitter pays no attention to the truth at all which is most treacherous.

Frankfurt claims on page 61 of this book that, "...bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.” Why? Because while the liar deliberately makes false claims, the bullshitter is simply uninterested in the truth. A statement made by a bullshitter is grounded neither in a belief that it is true nor, as a lie must be, in a belief that it is not true. It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth – this indifference to how things really are – that Frankfurt regards as the very essence of bullshit.

Frankfurt continues to explain that it is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. For the bullshitter, all bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.

This is important because bullshitters can’t be called liars since they have no concern for truth; yet there is a motivation for spreading bullshit. Bullshitters aim primarily to impress and persuade their audiences. What he cares about is what people think of him. He wants them to think of him as someone with deep thoughts. While liars need to know the truth to better conceal it, bullshitters, interested solely in advancing their own agendas, have no use for the truth so concludes Frankfurt.

This is important when we think of what Cicero expressed over 2000 years ago: “Even a virtuous man can be corrupted by oratory (bullshit) though he cannot be corrupted by a bribe” (Cicero: On Government, Penguin Classics, pg. 190). The most honest and trustworthy yet unlearned individual can be taken in by bullshit.

Frankfurt ends his book by explaining that bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic exceed his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This discrepancy is common in public life or running for office.

Mario Cuomo said, “We campaign in poetry but govern in prose.”

Sadly, it’s proven that we’ve just installed someone on the Council who campaigns in lies and bullshit. His governing, prayerfully, can only improve.

And what I’ve presented here isn’t because I’ve gone around town asking people about Mayor Johnson – that’s next. No, this is just from reading the newspaper, reading the Mayor’s literature that he mailed out, attending some meetings and…well…thinking about things. Looking at all of it and drawing some conclusions. I’m not going to make any friends with this editorial – especially since everything in it is true – that’s the worst thing about this. And it’s public record – mailings, applications, newspaper accounts, meetings.

From Rick McBride: Clint…made sure that EVERY resident knew who he was and ran a masterful campaign.

No, Clint Johnson made sure each citizen heard what each citizen wanted to hear.

If Clint Johnson won’t discuss himself to avoid certain truths, why would I discuss any City issue that is multi-faceted in its complexity with him? He might leave out stuff to avoid a truth or truths. Unfortunately, the Council will have to wade through all that stuff – but for me, there isn’t a much of a reason to talk to Mayor Johnson or believe what he says – there’s a trust issue – a truthfulness issue that he has created with his own words and in his own hand.

I tried having this conversation with Mayor Johnson back in late October of 2014 – he simply would not answer my questions about his background. I asked him exactly what degrees he does have and he didn’t answer – yet he stated on his application he has a degree from Stetson. Again, I don't have an issue with Mayor Johnson having degrees or not - he does - he's the one putting it down on applications as though he earned one.

Who else thinks Mayor Johnson graduated from Stetson? Who else has he told that he graduated from Stetson? Who else has he led to believe he has a degree when he doesn’t while at the same time stating he rejects the need for credentials? What is this…April… of the first of four years?

Well…Rick McBride is right: at least Johnson’s campaigning was masterful…no doubt about it…and the citizens were taken in by it – overwhelmingly…

My name is Norm Erickson – and I voted for Jack Lenzen – a person who actually rejects credentialism in favor of honesty, knowledge and just being straightforward…maybe that’s why he lost. Hey, Jack, next time just put down you graduated with some degree from South Hoboken Institute of Technology (SHIT)… A degree from or in SHIT seems to woo the voters…I guess because…well…it’s masterful.

Part VI of the Mingle Mangle: The Orange City Connection...










Our current political system ensures not that the worst will get on top--though they often do--but the best will never even apply (Paul Jacob)

Why do so few people run for office? And can anything be done about it? Those are not hard questions to answer? There is enough blame to go around, from government wanting to have total control of all decisions to elected officials, who mean well, but do not have a clue of how the system works. They just wanted to run to make a difference but ended up getting manipulated by special interest groups, developers, and lawyers.

Then you must ask yourself, is the challenge worth it, can you make the difference you believe you can? Can you deal with the individual cost of running? Can you handle the disrespect you will receive?

I’ve put together a list of some of the not-so-nice things that a candidate or incumbent will have to deal with and the consequences they will pay;

  • Political Scandal
  • Blogs (nasty things written about you and/or your family and of course the cowards won’t even sign their name)
  • Piled On
  • Hammered On
  • Threats (to you and/ or your family)
  • Rumors
  • Innuendos
  • Jokes
  • Mocking
  • Marginalized
  • Baited

Then there is the financial costs (fund raising). The large amount of money a challenger has to raise the better he/she will do. But remember the incumbent has set up his network of donators years in advance. You can come up against the big political machine candidate that can raise a lot more money than you can, period. More money means being able to get their message out to more people (mailers, signs, newspapers, etc). Some politicians understand the only way to get reelected is by delivering to their constituent’s requests. Right or wrong! If you are serious about campaigning, you will go door to door explaining your platform. This takes a considerable amount of time to accomplish. And if you should win, the work load is tremendous, day after day, and places an enormous amount of stress on both you and your family. Then the incredible amount of time you will spend away from your family, and lastly, the giving up of your personal time.

You can lose good friends if you do not agree on some issues. It’s an ongoing situation where people just don’t understand how the system works. You are guided by rules and laws, you take an oath to uphold these rules and laws; yet there are some who will be angry with you if you do not support their position. When you are in front of your constituents, you feel their demands at all times to deliver. This causes a tremendous amount of pressure because there are things that just can’t be addressed because of those nasty rules and laws. Now the rub comes in, do council members go by the rules or laws, or appease their constituents or some other special interest group by allowing a vote that is against said rules or laws? Good-bye friend!

One of the most misunderstood situations I had to deal with while sitting on the Council, was to vote “NO” on an item that came up for a vote that was not permitted by codes, City ordinances or State statures. To vote “Yes” was not an option. Many times an agenda item came before council that by the rules and laws “NO” is the only option that is allowed. But many feel that you should say Yes even it’s wrong because it affects them directly. Even if it’s wrong, this time it affects me so it is alright just this once, to hell with the rules and laws! You just can’t have it both ways.

If good has been done, certain groups will accuse you of selfish hidden motives. Do well anyway. Then the name calling starts by certain groups, especially on the blogs. This is when the cowards go to town and write whatever negative, degrading, inhuman, bullshit they can come up. Writing all the bullshit they can and not having the courage to sign their names to the end of their tirades. Are you proud of yourselves?

DeBary has had a high percentage of uncontested political races. This is not something new, this has been going on for a long time, not only in DeBary, but throughout the Country, and this is why apathy is so thick. This is another reason why people don’t run for office and people don’t go out to vote. There is no interest in running, and the voter feels their vote means very little. This is all caused to a large degree by uncontested elections. Voters should have choices when they vote and this is the way democracy should be. Democracy is better served when the people have more and better choices at the polls. I would speculate that there is a larger voter turn out in DeBary whenever we see multi-candidates in each race. This alone will bring about a heavier turn out at the voting precincts. When there are more choices, more debates, the voter’s knowledge on the issues increase and democracy operates at a higher standard.

What has gotten us to this dismal state of political competition? It can be summed up in one word, APATHY!

The questions you have to answer when you consider something like this is do you think you can make a difference? Is it going to matter? If you are considering about running for political office, what you must ask yourself is, will anything I do make a difference? If someone decides to run for office, there is a good chance they will have a problem with this question, and do not know how to respond. I’m sure we all believe in our hearts, if we run that we will make a difference and bring change for the better. If someone decides to run and truly feels that he/she can make a difference, don’t feel badly when the reality sets in that you are held up by rules and laws. Then, there is the political machine that will undermine you if you are not in agreement with their visions. It’s not easy to make the right decisions when pressures are applied, and when some are not willing to abide by the codes.

I ran in 2008 for city council because I thought I could make a difference. The fact is, if I had known more about the dark side of DeBary city politics (believe me it exists) I probably would have thought twice about running. I am glad I ran and won. I was optimistic enough to believe I would make a difference and I did. As tough as it became at times, I feel I did accomplish a lot of good for the City and its people. I know I left the City in much better condition than when I first started.

It's a difficult task from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong, there are some rewarding times, which are great little breaks, but few and far between. You must be willing to put in the time, take your lumps, do your homework and hold the line on right and wrong. If you can do all this, then go for it, you have a good chance of being successful.

Lenny Marks




City Contradiction Meeting


Two Issues: Code Enforcement and CM Vihlen Abstaining from Voting on a Ft. Florida issue.

CM Vihlen stated that he has been trying to get potable water in the Ft. Florida area for 19 years and a spokesperson with various Councils for 17 years. A citizen at the podium wondered if there was a Sunshine violation or conflict of interest problem for CM Vihlen voting on this issue.

The City Attorney stated there was no conflict present to prohibit CM Vihlen from voting.

However, CM Vihlen had already decided prior to the meeting that he would abstain so that, “…no one out there in the citizenry can trump up some kind of gossip or charge – I will abstain.” (2:46 or so of the meeting)

“Quite honorable, “ responded Dan Hunt.

No, quite inappropriate. If this is the basis to abstain, I don’t know how any voting would occur.

If Council members are going to abstain to prevent trumped up charges or gossip which both are necessarily unfounded, on what issues will members vote?

“I’m going to abstain so no one can bring charges or gossip that there is a conflict.” That’s not how it works. You only abstain if it’s been proven that there is a conflict.

While this issue may seem minor, it isn’t when one thinks about recent past voting practices:

We had Nick Koval and Chris Carson voting to give taxpayer money in support to CPPI – an organization that had Koval’s wife on it as President and relatives of Carson’s on it as well. What about that? What about Carson putting on agendas items to get more money over to CPPI? What about that? Should these two have abstained?

Voting for parks to be built in neighborhoods where Council members live and benefit directly – or their relatives, nieces, grandchildren, etc,. Why were these Council members allowed to vote?

Did they do the dishonorable thing by voting?

What about when Sandra Wilson came to the Council just a month ago to ask for money, CM Vihlen? CM Vihlen shared the fact about his warehouse space that he allows the GCA to use for them to build props to use in plays. Talk about a conflict – why not abstain to avoid what is clearly a conflict? And actually, this isn’t a conflict legally, but it sure is closer to it than the Ft. Florida Rd. issue on which the City Attorney passed judgment that it was ok for CM Vihlen to vote and was then contravened by CM Vihlen and the rest of the Council who allowed it.

It’s not up to a Council member to decide if he or she abstains. It should come from the lawyer – full disclosure – and continue to the state statutes. And the City Attorney stated that there was no conflict. CM Vihlen should have gone to the City Attorney first. But he didn’t want to do that, because he just wanted to abstain – period – end of sentence.

The only other possible reason is that CM Vihlen, somehow, does directly benefit from the vote and he did not disclose that information. I find that hard to believe.

This is such folly. I’m really disappointed in the City Attorney for not taking a proactive stance on this.

Code Enforcement:

It was disbanded two years ago because VM Hunt did not want citizens interpreting ordinances – VM Hunt said he didn’t know how to interpret ordinances – VM Hunt didn’t realize that interpreting ordinances is routine business for Council members.

It was agreed two years ago when that Council disbanded the CEB and replaced it with the Special Master that cases were not to be appealed to the Council. Now, they are reversing themselves and CM Dwyer is trying to persuade his council members to the position they held two years ago.

VM Hunt said he wanted to get it into the hands of a professional – now it is – so why should there be any issues? If there are, you need to fire that professional.

Regardless, the CEB was comprised of citizens who volunteered their time has been replaced by a Special Master at the cost of 6 or 7 thousand dollars a year - and citizens might end up back in front of the Council anyway. All that has changed is now we spend money to do what was once free.

As usual, the only one really talking about this issue was CM Dwyer. VM Hunt and CM Vihlen added their thoughts. CM Vihlen would like to see citizens be able to appeal to the Council.

The funny part of all this is that CM Dwyer interviewed Hunt, Koval, Carson and Handy-Peters two years ago about this issue. He talked to each one of them individually. This interview is posted below.

The consensus was that these four Councilmembers wanted the CEB disbanded and for cases not to come back to the Council.

The focus was on getting rid of the free CEB and replace that with a Special Master that we now pay – the “why” is absent which leads me to the final reason that is was personal – not some common sense or rational rationale for doing it. Because now we pay for something that was once free and performed by willing and able citizens – and the appeals process is still in place.

CM Dwyer then as now, realized and realizes that, except for the cost of the Special Master we currently pay, nothing, nothing has changed. So, what Rick Dwyer was stating two years ago about this issue, is now being validated by Hunt, Carson and Handy-Peters.

Now that’s vision, Mrs. Crotty - and it’s at the low, low cost of critical thinking. Hey, what happened to those 140 visions from the summer? I’m going to keep asking… as should the citizens who participated. But that’s another editorial…for another time…

Norm Erickson



“I’m not qualified to interpret, nor am I even asked to interpret, ordinances. And I don’t think our citizens are either.”

Council member Dan Hunt

City Workshop 2/15/12 1:46:46

From Norm Erickson: Of course, interpreting ordinances are routine matters for Council members - but this is one reason why VM Hunt wanted to disband the Code Enforcemet Board (CEB).

First posted on POP on July 17th, 2012 - Rick Dwyer was not on the City Council - he had not even announced running for office -but he was unknowingly preparing for the current issue facing the City Council about appeals coming back to Council even after the Professional Special Master has dealt with it. I am re-running this editorial to pave the way for an editorial I will be posting on POP later this week wherein I reference the editorial below:

I, Rick Dwyer, have served on the DeBary Code Enforcement Board (Board) for over six years. I, like every other Board member, serves as a volunteer giving freely of our time for a couple of hours each month to the benefit of our beloved city, DeBary. The purpose of the Board is to serve as a quasi-judicial body to hear the facts of alleged violations of our governmental code of ordinances (code) and based on the facts issue a finding of compliance or non-compliance and levy a fine against the property owner as may be appropriate. The purpose of a non-compliance finding and fine is to encourage the property owner to resolve the underlying code violations to maintain the esthetics and safety of the community.

The Board meets once each month and hears cases brought to it by the DeBary Neighborhood Improvement Officer (NIO). Contrary to popular belief, the Board does not go out looking for violators, nor does the Board direct the activities of the NIO and has no authority to require the NIO to search for code violations.

In years past, the NIO had the responsibility to proactively identify code violations and work with the property owner to resolve the underlying issue. Only when the NIO was not able to bring the property into compliance would the NIO bring the case before the Board.

In recent years, the NIO’s direction changed from proactive to reactive. No longer is the NIO to seek code violations. Instead, the NIO responds to complaints brought to his attention by other property owners. This means that your neighbor’s property may be in violation but nothing will happen to resolve the violation unless you call and complain. The result of this reactive approach is that some properties in the City are in violation of the codes resulting in the value of every surrounding property and DeBary as a whole being negatively impacted.

The DeBary City Council (Council) is on a mission to replace the Board. I met with four of the five Council members and was astonished to learn that they each have a different definition of the problem, but all agree that the solution is to replace the volunteer Board with a paid Special Master. In my opinion, what is even more astonishing and truly amazing is that replacing the Board does not achieve their goals at all. That said, the following are summaries of the conversations with the four Council members, their definition of the problem, and my explanation of why replacing the Board will not realize a single goal.

Before I begin let me state that I did not speak with the Mayor since he is already on record, as the only Council member that understands why replacing the Board solves nothing. Let me also be clear that I support any Council action that results in a cost savings to the DeBary resident. However to date not a single Council Member has been able to produce the facts to support a cost savings. Conjecture yes, facts no.

Council Member Koval

Problem Definition: “Bring more cases before the Board and enforce the city codes, be proactive; remove the Council from the appeals process.”

Council Member (CM) Koval’s problem statement is well articulated, clear, and measurable. Every one of his objectives is attainable but replacing the Board will not achieve a single one of them.

Enforcement of the codes begins with the NIO. No case comes before the Board until the NIO brings it. Replacing the Board with a Special Master does not result in more cases. The Special Master, just like the Board, hears only cases brought by the NIO. The objective cannot be achieved until the NIO brings more cases to the Board.

Relative to being proactive, this too is not something that the Board or the Special Master can change. The NIO takes direction from the City Manager, who takes direction from Council. The City Manager must direct the NIO to be proactive, but the Council must first give the same direction to the City Manager. Therefore, replacing the Board with a Special Master does nothing to realize the proactive goal. The Council must first issue instructions to the City Manager, who in turn passes the same instructions down to the NIO.

Regarding the appeals process all the Council needs to do is to make a decision to leave the appeal with the Board, or turn the appeals process over to the Courts. Notice that this procedural change must originate with the Council. Replacing the Board with a Special Master contributes absolutely nothing to realization of this goal..

The Council holds the key to achieving CM Koval’s goals; entertain a motion to be proactive, and another motion to move the appeals to the Board or the Courts. None of CM Koval’s goals are achieved by replacement of the Board.

Council Member Handi-Peters

Problem Definition: “I want to streamline the process.” CM Handi-Peters also went on to say that, several “other cities are using a Special Master, so it must be good.”

CM Handi-Peters’ problem definition relative to streamlining is vague and not measurable. The only metric she provided was in her reference to her participation as a Board member many years ago. She claims that cases had to go before the Board several times before the Board made any decisions.

I checked with Mr. Pulver who is the current Board President, and was President when CM Handi-Peters was on the Board. Mr. Pulver reported that the process is no different now than it was when CM Handi-Peters was on the Board. He went on to say that, all cases then and now are dealt with in the single Board meeting, and quipped, “Had she (CM Handi-Peters) attended more than just a few meetings she would know that.”

The Board hears all cases brought before it in one sitting. Cases are disposed of in that single sitting. Replacing the Board with a Special Master does not change or streamline the process in any way. The Special Master only adds cost.

Regarding what I term the Lemmus Syndrome and doing something just because someone else did it is a clear demonstration of an inability to exercise independent thinking. Prior Councils had the common sense to recognize that just because another city has adopted a policy, the policy may not be in the best interest of Debary. They defined the problem, analyzed it, identified alternative solutions, analyzed them, and only after having all the facts would they make a decision. Good thing that the Deltona council has voted against allowing homeowners to raise chickens in their yard, otherwise DeBary may be on the way to being in the egg business.

Council Member Hunt

Problem Definition: CM Hunt is of the opinion that the offending property owner is not receiving notices of the alleged violation and therefore not given sufficient opportunity to resolve the violation before a fine imposed.

CM Hunt’s problem definition is clear and well understood. Not understood by CM Hunt however is that the neither the Board nor the Special Master have the authority to alter the notifications process, and that responsibility to serve the notices is with the NIO, and not the Board or Special Master.

CM Hunt also fails to recognize that the NIO is following the process as prescribed in Florida Statues. I explained that Florida Statue defines the notification process and that the NIO currently follows that process to the letter. To that, CM Hunt replied, “well it is time for a change anyway.” Unfortunately, such a response indicates that too little thought has really gone into a definition of the problem, and less mental energy expended in the arrival of a solution to the undefined problem.

Additionally, CM Hunt stated in a previous Council workshop his preference for the NIO continue in his proactive role. Attention CM Koval; a part of your problem sits next to you. Perhaps you should expend your energies getting two other Council members to agree to your wants for a proactive NIO before making a change that changes nothing relative to that goal.

Council Member Carson

I departed the meeting with CM Carson in a mental fog. I am therefore at a loss to regurgitate to you his definition of the problem. What I gleaned from our conversation is that he believes that a Special Master affords the City a level of legal protection not currently provided by way of the Board. I am not an attorney and therefore am unable to challenge CM Carson’s logic. It may be well founded but is beyond my knowledge base. Besides, CM Hunt is already on record by saying the citizens of DeBary are not qualified to interpret codes, so I dare not attempt to challenge CM Carson.


I appreciate the time that each member of Council spent with me. I have to give them credit for listening. I feel however that my words entered their ears but fell short of challenging them to apply any cognitive consideration to the solution. The Council has not collectively defined the issue they are trying to solve and seem unwilling to perform any level of analysis of the problem and how to achieve resolution.

Elimination of the Board does not solve a single problem as currently presented. The Council however does have the ability to change the role of the NIO from reactive to proactive, and to remove the Council from the appeals process

Regarding the proactive role of the NIO, they need to by a majority vote direct the City Manager to instruct the NIO to take on a proactive role; simple. Relative to the appeals process, they need to by a majority vote assign appeals to the Courts, or leave the decision to the Board; again simple. At the risk of being overly redundant let me say that the solutions truly are that simple, very similar to the minds of those that has taken us down this path.

Rick Dwyer



Budget – An Abdication of Duty

On August 20 th there was the final workshop about the budget. CM Parrott told the Council, in effect, speak now or forever hold your peace. Any changes? Now is the time to speak. CM Handy-Peters stated strongly her views on the upcoming requirement of attending four, 1-hour classes on Ethics. Huh? Exactly. Nothing to do with the budget. Mayor Carson talked a little bit about fees and the use of parks. That was it. Nothing else.

So then it really was rather a shock when, 13 days later, Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters changed their mind on the mil rate and voted against the 2.99 and changed it to 2.9247 which resulted in a 93K drop in revenue. Where to cut?

That discussion was to be had that night so said the City Manager. To their credit CM Vihlen came up with the LED Sign (45K) to be cut along with the Bus Shelter and the Basketball Court at Glen Abbey. That totaled 81,000 dollars. CM Dwyer was in agreement with the Basketball court. The City Manager was in agreement with “taking the low hanging fruit”; that is to say, new capital projects to be cut such as the three mentioned. VM Hunt wanted the tax increase so he appropriately sat out of the conversation except to say what was happening was a mistake. I’ve been critical of VM Hunt but I’ll say this: he knows what he wants. He knows what he wants to do with tax revenue and he knows he wants, I’ll even repeat CM Vihlen’s description, a “moderate tax increase” to go to, basically, events, Parks and Rec, etc,. Disagree with VM Hunt and I do, at least he is consistent in his policies and voting. The nice thing about me is I don’t have to kiss anyone; if I disagree, I state it. Here I agree with VM Hunt’s response. It’s Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters who were derelict in their duties.

And so, the two people who flipped, Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters abdicated their duty and responsibility to contribute at all to the discussion of what to cut to make the budget fit the new mil rate. This is not leadership. This is not being responsible. This is not maturity on display.

Go to the budget meeting of 9/3/14. You need listen only from 1:08 to 1:22 to see the inability of Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters to contribute anything. What you will see is a juvenile outburst by our Mayor when it comes to possibly cutting the Basketball court from his neighborhood while offering nothing in terms of direction to the City Manager. Mayor Carson decries cutting 5,000 dollars from the fireworks – yet he ended up doing it anyway.

If you watch this discussion, you will note that the only consensus present was to cut the LED Sign, the Bus Shelter and the Basketball Court. It was there for CM Vihlen, Dwyer and the City Manager as well. Yet, two of those items stayed in the budget two weeks later.

It also proves that this budget was not discussed “in the sunshine” but behind closed doors where personal pet projects were pushed. Mayor Carson, VM Hunt and CM Handy-Peters pushed the Basketball Court for Glen Abbey because the other two Councilmembers did not want it. Yet, I must admit, this is conjecture because none of this was discussed in public as the City Manager stated: you’re going to have to decide what to cut tonight.

At 1:21 it was stated that it was not worth saving the Basketball Court and the Bus Shelter.

At 1:31 it was stated that delaying the hiring of the TOD Director was not an option. Two weeks later it was voted to delay it. Why? Who decided this? Not discussed in public.

To CM Vihlen’s great credit, he, on the fly, came up with the cuts to meet the new mil rate established by Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters flip-flop. But then it was quickly deflected due to Mayor Carson’s pouting at cutting something in his neighborhood as a result of his new position.

Now, there was something else discussed but not acted on two weeks later and it was this: the Re-organizing of staff. Re-structuring of the organizational chart – the staff. There was consensus on that. Where is it? When will that discussion be had and will it be in public? Actually, what was meant by CM Handy-Peters when she brought the topic up about re-structuring the organizational chart?

I’m not making this stuff up. Watch the meeting. I cited the times. My commentary on the facts may be something you disagree with or simply don’t care about. The latter is more than likely. But I think it is the height of irresponsibility of Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters to flip on the mil rate and then offer nothing to their fellow members or the City Manager. The City Manager should have listed a number of items to cut and let the Council decide. As it is, a budget was passed with no public discussion on it but for CM Dwyer and CM Vihlen agreeing with CM Dwyer. Case in point:

CM Dwyer actually went through the budget and suggested we put 80K into Stormwater related issues. He cut such things as Councilmembers’ cell phones, registration fees at conferences, other wants and not needs and the cuts were indigenous to Council members not citizens.

“No”, was the response from all but CM Vihlen who saw validity in the reallocation of the monies. I wonder if VM Hunt, Mayor Carson and/or CM Handy-Peters ran on a campaign platform of Stormwater? I wonder if they had that as a priority over cellphones and conferences?

Norm Erickson

p.s. On the Facebook page “You live in DeBary if…” there is a conversation about experience or lack thereof in our elected leaders. Clint Johnson has no experience being elected to office. Chris Carson has, I believe, more than anyone else. Yet when CM Dwyer amended a motion, Mayor Carson had to turn to the City Manager to figure out what to do.

Mayor Carson brought none of his 11 years of experience on various Councils to bear on the budget process I just outlined in this editorial. CM Handy-Peters has been up there a while – she brought nothing to the table per her new mil rate position. Look at Congress: most are re-elected back into office – how’s that experience working for ya? That is to say, experience in and of itself or lack thereof, guarantees nothing. Having experience doesn't guarantee anything. Lack of experience doesn't necessarily prevent anything.



Visions – Past and Present

If you go to the May 21 st meeting and listen to CM Dwyer starting at the 13 th minute you will get an idea of his vision of the Visioning process established by Marilyn Crotty. What do we do with the over one hundred visions? What is the value? What is the vision? Beyond the warm and fuzzies – what will Ms. Crotty do with all of these visions?

Ultimately, Ms. Crotty asked the Council for their vision – their plan and then said that the visions from the Citizens may not fit into the visions or plans of the Council. Huh?

When Mrs. Crotty asked for the Council’s vision on September 13 th, she pitted the Citizens’ visions against the Council’s because she then, as I stated above, told the Council that the Citizens’ Visions may not agree with the what the Council discussed. Why did Mrs. Crotty ask for the Council’s vision when the idea was to hear from the people and prioritize their ideas? Why did she do that? Because that’s what she spent most of the 7 hours doing on that Saturday: dealing with the Council’s ideas, not the Citizens’.

In May CM Dwyer stated that what Ms. Crotty provides the Council with as a report doesn’t get us any closer to actualizing the visions of the Citizens. In fact, Ms. Crotty’s statement that the Citizens’ visions might not fit into Council’s visions does the opposite.

If you listen the May meeting and move the bar over to the 22:50 and listen to just 26 th minute or so, you will hear Mayor Carson stating that “we are here to represent people”. How he wants the people to start talking. He wants ideas. No one is speaking up. CM Parrott followed up with the statement that the Council will have to implement the ideas or it is all meaningless and that the visions from the people will have to be prioritized with the budget – none of this happened. Not at the fault of either the Mayor or the City Manager – but that was not what the 7 hours…7 hours on that long Saturday set out to focus on. When Ms. Crotty asked the Council for their vision…their plan…she created a fork…a disconnect between the People and the Council.

If you listen to that May meeting, CM Dwyer’s concerns have now been realized and validated – he was right in his statements. The rest of the Council firmly believed that the visioning process would result in a prioritized list of ideas from the Citizens that could find its place in the budget – that did not happen. Even though it was on the “to do” list on September 13 th. It hasn’t happened – why, Ms. Crotty?

Let’s explore that question. Maybe the final list didn’t happen because Mrs. Crotty didn’t get the memo. Let’s face it, what she was expected to deliver, she delivered – that’s why CM Dwyer wasn’t for it in May. The discussion in May was about hearing from the people and prioritizing that list and working with the budget with that list. One out of three is bad. But what will the other Councilmembers do now?

The process isn’t over -

There were 7 big pages of paper hanging around City Hall on that September 13 th workshop – what will happen to them? The final list of items that the Council found consensus on – what will happen to them?

I know this is a process – but we are still in the beginning of it or, at best, the middle…I assume Ms. Crotty is just starting the process.

I spoke out in May that the Council doesn’t need any of this. The Splash Pad, the Police Station, the Basketball Court at Glen Abbey, and a host of other visions have come to fruition none of which came out of a workshop. No goals or objectives were written down. None of the things Mrs. Crotty said to do with the list of items from the Council. The football field that garnered 7% support from 150 citizens received 40% support from the Council – Hunt and Carson.

CM Dwyer has been right on the Visioning process and the mil rate. He was correct in suggesting we wait until after the primary to appoint a Councilmember. He may be proven correct again when we get final plans for the Police Station – is there enough room for growth? Is it big enough? Yet, despite his ideas and suggestions being validated after the fact, he is marginalized. Dismissed.

It's often the case with people who actually have leadership abilities - they are dismissed by Politicians for no other reason than they have the votes to do so and they can't contravene the ideas being presented. Case in point:

CM Dwyer actually went through the budget and suggested we put 80K into Stormwater related issues. He cut such things as Councilmembers’ cell phones, registration fees at conferences, etc,. No, was the response from all but CM Vihlen who saw validity in the reallocation of the monies. I wonder if VM Hunt, Mayor Carson and/or CM Handy-Peters ran on a campaign platform of Stormwater? I wonder if they had that as a priority over cellphones and conferences?

But mostly, I wonder if the 150 citizens who attended the two part workshop to share their ideas, care that they are in no small way, with the exceptions of CM Dwyer and CM Vihlen, being ignored and marginalized by the very people elected to represent them?

Norm Erickson


West Volusia Summit

Part II: Sunrail and Septic Tanks – two different issues

Information about Sunrail was presented by Noranne Downs and Tawny Olore.

Presenters stated, with a straight face, that Sunrail ridership has dropped since school started. While it was at 4300 a day, it is now 3100 a day. It was stated that Winter Park actually voted for Sunrail about 7 years ago – I don’t remember us having that choice. It was stated that 10-20 people from the East side of the County ride Sunrail. Also, 8 moms with kids were seen riding Sunrail – these stats were stated, I’m not making this up.

Back in May of this year, FDOT stated that there are 1.5 million commuters on I-4 per day.

Using Sunrail's own numbers of projecting 4300 riders per day, Sunrail would reduce congestion by less than half of 1 percent (15,000 is 1% of 1.5 million). Even if we double Sunrail's desire and projection to 8600 people a day, that is just a little over half of 1 percent of commuters being taken off the roads for 1.2 billion dollars.

It was stated that the toll road aspect of I-4 could reach “capacity” so I don’t know if they would then close that aspect of I-4 or what – but I found it interesting that the toll road portion that they are building on I-4 could reach a “capacity”. Of course, the presenters stressed how hellish I-4 will become so everyone will go to Sunrail.

Phase II of Sunrail will start in 2016 or early 2017. Phase II is going to Deland and farther South.

Phase III is a connector to OIA to get citizens on Sunrail to some kind of connector over to OIA.

Elected officials at the table noted, commented and questioned the following:

  • From Deltona it was noticed that on Federal Holidays the Sunrail does not run, but some people, medical people, still work. That’s an issue.
  • Tap on and tap off are not close to the train – why? Because…
  • People are riding for free as there is no oversight. Presenters admitted that conductors cannot check everyone.
  • It was stated twice that staff is needed on platform to help people, explain things and explain the ticket machine – it’s confusing.
  • And then Orange City brought up the “elephant in the room”: no station in Orange City. Why? Well, to extend Saxon and Smith Blvd. was cost prohibited so it is at Ft. Florida. Presenters said that they are double tracking as they move north and that YOU (Orange City) can build a station. Nice.
  • Deltona stated loud and proud that it is not difficult to figure out that a station should be placed at I-4 and 472. “If you want successful ridership put it near the 86,000 citizens living nearby.” It’s going to be a nightmare with I-4 – Deltona needs better access to Sunrail.

It was stated by our Vice Mayor Hunt that as it relates to Sunrail there are naysayers. I don’t know if he was referring to the elected officials or not – it seems they were just commenting on how to improve the service – I’ve emailed VM Hunt to explain his commentary – as of this writing, no response.

The presenters stated emphatically how great the turnout was when Sunrail was free.

Mica stopped by and talked.

“All Aboard” is a private company doing high speed rail in Florida. It will go from Miami to OIA. And eventually to Tampa and Jacksonville. Sunrail will eventually take us somewhere where we can then connect to OIA. Oh, in other news, the 150 citizens at the Visioning Workshops stressed the small town atmosphere they want to keep.

Mica didn’t think it was wise to spend billions on a train to go to Tampa and just dump them there with no services available to take them somewhere. That would be like spending over a billion on Sunrail to take people to Sand Lake Rd, or Orlando or DeBary without connectivity already available…wait a second..I’m sounding like an elected naysayer…

Mica said that what he wanted originally was not Sunrail – it was DMV train cars he wanted with leased tracks – so don’t connect him to Sunrail.

Also, the Bayou needs partners to help clean it up. Seems that there is not much faith in the Army Corps of Engineers report: wherein a government agency clears another government agency of any wrongdoing in screwing up the Bayou. SHAZAM!

Sunrail will go to Deland and then Daytona Beach eventually. The costs will exist forever.

In May of 2021 the Counties are on the hook for costs for Sunrail…just as I-4 is finishing its face lift. When Sunrail started years ago, the idea of paving as any kind of response was meet with so many naysayers it wasn’t funny. Now we’re paving, paving, paving. 2.2 billion…biggest project in the history of Florida infrastructure.

Hitting the Fan?

Senator Simmons stopped by to talk septic tanks: no cost to homeowner to hook up – to sewer. He wants to start with the worst case scenarios. He said many times it was free – so, no monthly bill for septic/sewage? Yeah, ok. The bill has passed and this is being addressed. So we will have to continue to follow it as it goes.

It was a great Summit meeting.

I’m working on two more editorials. One is on the Visioning Committee Workshops – I’ve been reviewing past meetings to hear what was said the Visioning Process would be and what it would create and, now that we’re through it, what is actually being presented – what a disconnect. Particularly the May 21 st meeting CM Dwyer, again, was spot on.

CM Dwyer has been correct about the Visioning Workshops, about waiting for the primary to pass to appoint a Council member, about putting money into Stormwater and about the mil rate - - and yet the other Council members have ignored him and marginalized him at every turn although CM Dwyer’s judgment has been proven to be prophetic. I will say that CM Vihlen has agreed with CM Dwyer on two of these issues and that should be noted.

Also, I’m working on an editorial about the Budget. The childish behavior of Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters on this issue needs to be discussed. From the Workshop on August 20th to the September 3rd meeting – it will all be gone over again. Kudos to CM Vihlen, Dwyer and Hunt on knowing what they want and what they don’t want. Carson and Handy-Peters, as you will see, flipped on the mil rate and then did nothing – totally abdicated their responsibility as elected officials to then explain what to cut – and that discussion was actually occurring on September 3rd as it should have only to have Mayor Carson erupt in immaturity, poppycock, twaddle and balderdash. So we’ll get into the specifics.

Until then…

Norm Erickson



West Volusia Summit

Part I

It was quite a meeting on Saturday the 20 th. Good information about what is coming up. So let’s get to it. This is a two parter given all we need to cover. The first part will cover I-4 and Part II will cover Sunrail and Septic Tanks.

I-4 Ultimate Project:

Presented by Frank O’Dea from FDOT.

This is a 2.3 billion dollar project – the largest infrastructure project in Florida’s history. It is a 21 mile widening and replacing of I-4 from Kirkman to Longwood/434. There will be toll roads in the middle lanes – you will need to use Sunpass to utilize these lanes. It will take 6 to 6.5 years to complete. It will start in 2015. This is a private/public partnership – tolls will be done by FDOT. No trucks allowed in toll lanes – that is to say, only two axle vehicles allowed. No info on amount of toll for passengers.

Beyond the I-4 Ultimate:

Expansion to 472 and to Tampa.

DeBary Bayou: culverts will be used to improve circulation. Pat Northey said we need more than culverts to flush that Bayou.

Dirksen will have direct ramps to east and west bound destinations.

This will provide 1500 jobs.

Congressman Mica stopped by and said after Longwood/434, they want to keep working on I-4 east to the bridge – St. John’s. And from Kirkman to 192. There will be bad traffic problems on I-4 during this six year period. From 2015 to 2021. Sunrail numbers may spike high. Then I-4 will be finished just at that 7 year ending of Federal dollars for Sunrail in 2021 – May actually. So then I guess people may jump on the wider, nicer, faster I-4 as the Counties take on the costs, forever, of Sunrail in 2021. So we need to get our ducks in a row now to cover those costs.

CM Hunt announced that “…we’re New Jersey now” referring to all the tolls.

So in 2015 prepare for I-4 to be a hectic thing. If Sunrail is an option for you to get to work or to where you want to go, start looking into it now. Winter Park is benefitting most from Sunrail.

But Sunrail is what Part II is all about…so stay tuned faithful reader…

Norm Erickson




A Community Recreation Center and Wellness Center (CRCWC). From 40,000 to 100,000 square feet. This will feature a full gymnasium, community pool, exercise gym and dojo for the martial arts and a full auditorium for performances such as drama and dance. The Wellness Center is a place for discussions and consultations about healthy eating, alcohol and tobacco cessation programs as well as stress management. Classes for our seasoned citizens on exercise, safety and how to protect themselves from the many scams they are subject to is also a must. An outdoor concession stand would, of course, be a must.

We need a sports stadium with capacity for 10,000-20,000 people. Concession stand and tailgating is a must.

Lastly, we need a full size skateboard park and bike park for competitive wilderness biking and these need to be connected to an outdoor municipal swimming pool. We need kids out of the house, away from the television and exercising. A concession stand would, of course, be required.

We need D.O.T.: DeBary Outdoor Theater for both adults and children to display their talents to the citizens under the sun and stars. A concession stand would, of course, be required.

Lastly, we need to build a full sized Parkour Park: as DeBary urbanizes we want to bring this form of activity to our community. Parkour is an international discipline, sport and hobby that is best described as the art of forward motion in spite of obstacles, or to put it simply: the art of movement. Parkour's chief aim is never to move backward but instead to overcome obstacles fluidly, with strength, originality and speed. Kids jump over whatever is in their way: trash cans, walls, small buildings, etc,. A concession stand would, of course, be required.

Norm Erickson

p.s. Mayor Carson, Vice Mayor Hunt, Sandra Wilson - this is satire. Please do not think that I am actually suggesting any of this. I just wanted to show that I can come up with this stuff, too - it's not that difficult. Thank you.


I assume in a spirit of fairness that the GCA has already been to Orange City and Deltona to ask them for money. Right? Right? I mean, it’s not the DeBary Gateway Center for the Arts. GCA serves many cities.

GCA is a private corporation. The GCA building not a public building open to the public. In October of 2013 Mort Culligan was escorted out of the GCA by police. This was during a political debate that the public had been invited to attend, Mr. Culligan had an email from the organization that was putting on the debate stating that he was invited. But Mr. Culligan, who was sitting one person away from me, was just sitting there doing nothing when he was approached by GCA members and later escorted out by police, given a trespass warning and was told if he ever returned to the building, he would be arrested.

GCA has the right to do this – period. It is a private corporation existing in a building that is not open to the public. Given these facts, it is inappropriate for the Council to give public monies to this private corporation. If any of you voting to approve this do so by hanging it on the reason, “It’s only 290.00 dollars – what’s the big deal?” The deal is it tells me you don’t understand the principle involved: giving public monies to a private corporation – having said that, GCA still gets plenty of public monies from taxpayers – none as much as DeBary citizens.

Every DeBary Citizen supports the GCA with their taxes.

Artists are the ones that challenge conventional thinking. They doubt. They question. They push the envelope and push us out of our comfort zone. They get us to think about things differently and see things differently – and we are told to appreciate that and hold it in high regard. So, let’s look at the big picture for this issue. Let’s evaluate what it is we are being asked to believe and accept without question.

I’m a public school teacher and I could afford the 290.00 dollars that the GCA is asking of the City Council.

No, I won’t be making a donation. The point is that I, a public school teacher, could afford this request. So why has a private corporation that has 88,000 unrestricted dollars in the bank and is charging 5 dollars a head for this event and will make, by their own estimates 6,000 dollars, asking for this money?

Is it so we can partner with the GCA? No. DeBary Citizens have been and always will be partners with GCA regardless of whether or not they receive money tonight or ever again. DeBary Citizens have given at the City, County, State and Federal level in grants to GCA. We gave them 100,000 dollars outright when they started. Waivers. Free advertising. We are partners with the GCA every day. Without DeBary citizens, GCA would be nothing. Yet the premise is thrown out there with GCA: some people support it and other don’t. No, every DeBary citizen supports the GCA with their tax dollars and not just at the City level.

So, why is a private corporation taking up our time asking for 290.00 dollars? It isn’t to create a partnership – we have that. I think it’s political. I think it’s to put certain people in a frame and to create certain optics for the election. Who supports the arts? Who doesn’t? Whose friends support the arts? Whose don’t? Every Council member and every Council member’s friend supports the arts – through their taxes. If any GCA member says of anyone, “They’re not with us. They don’t support us.” That’s not true. It was the DeBary Art League that left “DeBary” out – not the other way around. Just 7 weeks ago GCA received 23,000 dollars from the Volusia County Council. That’s DeBary citizens’ tax dollars as well.

Certain GCA members have given 500.00 dollars to Pat Northey’s political campaign. But not 290.00 to your own organization for this event?

In 1961, a hundred and sixteen thousand people strolled the hallways of

the Museum of Modern Art in New York City over the course of 47 days to drink in the beauty and simplicity of Matisse’s

Le Bateau. Clouds, water, a sailboat. They all looked right at it, and not one of those 116,000 people recognized that it was hanging there upside down. This must be the right way to look at it! But it wasn’t. Now here, the GCA would be delighted if not one of you questioned their request for this money.

Why is a private corporation with 88,000 unrestricted dollars in the bank and an expectation of making 6,000 dollars at the upcoming event asking for 290.00 dollars tonight? The picture is upside down.



Webster tells us that a “fait accompli” is “…an accomplished fact, something that has already occurred; presumably a done deal.”

I hope this is not the case as it relates to this persistent rumor that Nick Koval is to be appointed to the City Council. I hope this rumor is just that. To begin, Rick Dwyer will not be present due to a death in his immediate family. When CM Hunt was not able to be present at the beginning of the year for the send off to Mr. Koval, the Council moved the meeting. CM Hunt was then absent a month or two later. He has one absence. He should have two. Will CM Hunt motion to at least table this issue of appointing a councilmember so CM Dwyer may be present? If being present to induct new members is important to Carson, Hunt and Handy-Peters, hopefully having all four members present to appoint a council member will rank as equally important - we will see tomorrow night at 7pm.

This whole issue of absences is absurd and should be reversed. It was just a way for Carson, Hunt, Koval and Handy-Peters to slap Mayor Garcia but makes no sense. This Council or the next new one needs to revisit it. Why should CM Dwyer be punished for a death in his immediate family and CM Hunt avoid a punishment by having a meeting moved? No Councilmember should. It worked fine for years the way it was.

Back to the issue: If the Council is not going to table the appointment issue, I really hope Mr. Koval is not appointed. So do 878 citizens who voted against Nick Koval just 8 months ago. That’s hundreds and hundreds of people, CM Hunt. They turned out and said, “No mas. No mas.”

What will these three Councilmembers do as it relates to this appointment? Table it? Put Mr. Koval back? Or something else? How will Mayor Carson handle this? Will he take a leadership position or quickly toss it off to City Staff or the Attorney to create a legal foundation to bring Mr. Koval back? Mayor Carson has been elected four times. He’s been in municipal government for 20 years total – so read his campaign literature.

How will he lead on this issue? Will his commentary make any sense? Will he make light of the situation or try to?

We will see. July 2 nd at 7PM.

The appointment of a Councilmember should be tabled until August when all 4 Councilmembers are present. Do for CM Dwyer on this serious issue what was done for CM Hunt to include him in a meeting of pomp and circumstance. Mr. Koval should not be appointed – the people have spoken – 58% of the votes cast said, “No”. We will see if that means anything to Carson, Hunt, and Handy-Peters. This isn’t about whether or not Koval can put in the for the appointment; Mr. Koval may apply for whatever he likes. This is about three Council members listening to the people or turning a deaf ear. We will find out July 2 nd at 7PM. And then we will celebrate Freedom and Fireworks on Friday…or perhaps all of us except the 878 whose votes were ignored. As it relates to the appointment of Mr. Koval, we will see if this is a fait accompli.

Norm Erickson





A week or so ago, Rudolph put me in his company and Danny Allen’s company as a “political activist”. In his last editorial, Rudolph says he influences up to 200 people in DeBary in elections. He’s proud of that. He needs to say that about himself. Rudy also says that Danny Allen influences about 200 people. They are both political activists according to Rudolph. Rudy says I influence about 5 people. That makes me a political activist? Does Rudy mean anything he says…or when he’s “caught” does he pass it off as “satire” or just personally attacks people calling them Machiavellian or delusion or pathological or anything other than disagreeing on an actual City issue because Rudolph doesn’t really discuss City issues.

I think Rudolph gives me too much credit to say I influence five people. I have no idea if I influence anyone. I hope I don’t. I haven’t really thought about it. So, let me think about this. Rudolph is at home on his couch. He is thinking to himself, “I wonder how many people I influence in an election season? 75? No…no…more than that..I’m Rudolph Conoley…it must be 100 to 200 people…yes…that’s the number.” And how does Rudolph arrive at 100 to 200 for Danny Allen? Is that news to Danny Allen? That Rudolph actually has a number is quite something. I believe in free will – Rudolph wants to boast about how many people he can control. Wait! Isn’t that what he accuses others of doing? Controlling others? Is that “Machiavellian”? Why couldn’t Machiavelli have had “Jones” as a last name? Speaking of which…

Rudolph shared this with Ashleigh Hart on his blog:

Ms. Hart, I do not know you.  I wish you the very best.  I believe that you will come to understand Mr. Erickson, but your understanding may only happen after Mr. Erickson has used you to promote his own Machiavellian delusions. )

No, Rudolph. That is you with the Machiavellian mindset. You are the one in control of 200 people…not me. I only influence 5 people and my four year old daughter has me around her pinky already so it’s down to four. My wife…that’s three.

Any accusation from Rudolph is simply Rudolph describing himself.

Well, I think I’ve cleared the air. I would need a whole other website to keep up with Rudolph. Please note that no where will you find actual City issues being discussed on Rudolph’s website. When he discussed JJ’s chickens he ended up talking about Congress up in Washington.

From Rudy’s blog a few days ago:

I would be a fool, like Norm Erickson, if I continued to respond to his foolishness. 

So…I am responding to your foolishness, Rudy? At least you admit that what you write is foolishness. Good to know Rudolph is not so foolish as to respond to any of this foolishness…but I had to bring some common sense to the insanity and nonsense that has been spread around.

Oh, and, yes, this was fun to write. It is Part Two of a six part series I’m doing.

The title of the series is:

Rudolph Conoley: He’s “in over his head” more than a gay dwarf hitting on Shaquille O’Neal - thank you Dennis Miller.

Norm Erickson

p.s. Remember, Rudy, all of this started because you put on your blog how great a City Manager Dan Parrott is and how you were a part of the Council that hired him intimating that you voted to hire him – only to then be called out by me on your vote NOT to hire Mr. Parrott.

So your judgment now of Mr. Parrott was absent the day the rest of the Council hired him years ago. You failed to assess, evaluate and judge the applicant. Now you want to re-write history in your favor and mislead people – isn’t that something else you accuse others of doing?

When I called you out on that contradiction on your blog, you went personal on me. I simply corrected the record. I will continue to correct the record if I find out that you’re trying to mislead people.

That people are now aware of what kind of snake you are under the flower you put forth to the public has been educational for many, I believe. And remember, if you respond to this, according to you, you are a fool. But then again, you following the same directions you give others has never been your trump card.



From Rudy's blog:

I would be a fool, like Norm Erickson, if I continued to respond to his foolishness. 

A Foolish Editorial that Rudolph will not respond to…or…according to his own definition of foolishness…he would be a fool. So we’ll see. That was last week…

A few things to correct.

I didn’t remove Mayor Garcia from his office. I made a motion. It received a “second”. I initially had a super-majority agree with me. The final vote was 3-2. So, Rudolph demonstrates his intellectual dishonesty in saying “I” removed Mayor Garcia. The previous Council restored that physical office only to have CM Hunt make a motion to take it away. No second to that motion but CM Hunt was illuminated. I still hold the position that no elected official should have a physical office in City Hall – it’s a City issue, Rudy – you know nothing about that. Also, Rudolph, Jack Lenzen voted to remove Mayor Garcia – did you even know that, Rudolph? So please comment on that – sorry, Jack but facts are facts.

After Rudolph quit he called the four remaining Council members all kinds of names. Unethical. In many ways criminal. On and on. So, now Rudolph you’ve changed your mind as it relates to Mr. Garcia and Mr. Lenzen? But since then, you’ve said on your blog that they are both your friends and are decent people. So, were you wrong when you said all of those things a few years ago – or did it just suit you at the time to explain your quitting? Did you not mean it? Did they somehow become ethical and not criminal? Did you lie that day with the promise of unlying the next day? I have the answer: Rudolph simply says what is convenient for him to say that day. And if he says something is horrible or unethical one day and then he acts in that very same manner on Wednesday…oh well.

Next, only Rudolph Conoley could give a financial contribution to a candidate and not call it a financial contribution. Rudolph gave Clint Johnson a financial contribution to his campaign, but Rudolph wants everyone to know, sorry, Clint, it was NOT in support of his candidacy – it was only to defray the food costs. Reminds me of 2007 when Rudy put my sign in his yard to support me. He also put my opponent’s sign: Patrick Fulton. He also put another person’s sign. He “supported” all of us. Where I come from, that’s called a political whore. In DeBary, they are a little more tactful and use the words political whore. There are ten people running for office this year at last count. Who is Rudolph really supporting?

Just one: Rudolph. He wants to get his strings and hooks into as many people as possible.

Here is an interesting line from Rudy’s blog:

What really bothers Erickson more than anything else is that I suggested to Marshall that he and I stop and talk to Mr. Brady on Saturday.

It “bothers” me? How would you know? I didn’t even know you suggested Marshall meet Mr. Brady so how could I be “bothered” by it? Again, Rudolph loves to write about how other people “feel” about things or “think” about things or what other people are “thinking” about or what they are “plotting”. This is a man who can’t accurately represent his own voting record on the City Manager but he knows what is going on in the minds of others. And Rudy says I’m delusional.

Next, I am not “bent out of shape” because Rudolph is neutral on Race 4. Rudolph is not neutral. He is out for Rudolph and if you do not do as he says, he will burn you. Ask Dawn Pizzo and read Rudy’s blog. Dawn did not do as he said so he burned her and insulted her and continues to do so. Also, read this from Rudy’s blog:

Mr. Erickson’s hate speech and sleaze can best be seen in the 2013 election when Erickson reported a strange incident where one of Rick Dwyer’s opponents placed a letter on Dwyer’s car.  Erickson reported this strange incident and referred to the lady involved as a ” fat and ugly” woman.  Now that is just plain nasty.  Since both Mr. Dwyer and Mr. Erickson knew the exact name of the person involved, I believe that Mr. Dwyer should simply have stated the name of the person involved and stated that he did not approve of that behavior.  I spoke with Mr. Dwyer and told him this directly.  Unfortunately, Mr. Dwyer chose to use Mr. Erickson as his ” hatchet man ” in this event.  It is Mr. Erickson who is damaging Mr. Dwyer. 

A couple of things right off the bat: Rudolph, it seems the two of us both have the name of the person who left that disgusting note on Rick’s vehicle – who know the name of that lady as I do.

Rudolph, instead of complaining that I didn’t put the name on POP, why not put the person’s name on your blog? Show everyone how strong you are and how weak I am by putting that name on your blog.

Secondly, you told Mr. Dwyer what to do. That Mr. Dwyer “should” do something. Mr. Dwyer “had” to do something – isn’t that the kind of language you interpreted as being psychotic when I used it in my May editorial – yes, I remember reading that on your blog. Isn’t that the language I used on you, telling you that you “had” to reply to my May editorial and you got all bent out of shape about it? And then Mr. Dwyer “unfortunately” did not “do” as Rudy “told” him to do. So, Mr. Dwyer suffers. Because he did not do as Rudolph had instructed him – that’s how it works with you, eh? Sadly, yes.

Again, Rudolph is what he says he despises. If you do not do as he says, he threatens to withdraw his support for your political candidacy. He’s an arsonist – posing as a fire marshal – a good line deserves a second time around.




Corrections, Suggestions and a Workshop

I find myself once again correcting Rudolph Conoley’s blog. He wrote that in 2007 I asked him to be my running partner and he declined. It never happened. I only asked Lenny and said to him if he ran, I would run. Lenny said the same to me and off we went. My first suggestion: refrain from talking to Rudolph Conoley; it may, may prevent him from recounting a conversation he never had with you. Rudolph said that when he first met me I was a horrible, terrible person – yet when I ran for office he supported me, campaigned for me and voted for me. That would only make sense to Rudolph.

Rudolph also made public private comments I made to him seven years ago about a personal incident that happened to me twenty years ago. That Rudolph would make this personal, private conversation public on his blog concretely paints a picture of what kind of person Rudolph is. I could repsond in kind, but I don't play those kind of games; so Rudolph will have to play with himself. It says nothing about me that Rudolph would take something I said so long ago, about an incident that happened two decades ago and make it public. Suggestion number two: if you ignore my first suggestion, I advise you not to tell Rudolph anything you wouldn’t want made public. If you don’t do exactly as he says, he will turn on you and burn you – witness me, Dawn Pizzo, Rick Dwyer, and soon Marshall Lee after Mr. Lee loses outright on August 26th to Ashleigh Hart Seat 3. And while you're there, Dawn Pizzo Seat 4.

Other than that, Rudolph still has problems with POP using names other than a person’s real, legal name. That is to say, Rudolph Conoley, who campaigned and introduces himself with the name of “Van”, can’t stand it when anyone else does not use their real, legal name. I find myself as confused as Charlton Heston when he looked up to see the monkey on the pony.

Rudolph took issue with my editorial in May telling Rudolph that he “must” respond and he “has to” respond. I was actually using Rudolph’s own phraseology that he uses with his people he is “befriending”. He constantly tells people they “must” and “have” to do things in a certain way. That Rudolph interpreted his own phraseology as “delusional” and in need of psychological help…well…we finally agree on something, Rudy.

Lastly, Rudolph labeled me as a “political activist”. I’m not. I don’t even know what that means. Rudolph defined himself that way and that’s fine. He defined Danny Allen as a political activist as well. Rudy, just stick with defining what you are. You love to frame people in a premise that isn’t true and then build off it. Suggestion three: don’t be taken in by Rudy’s premises – they are usually gossamer and diaphanous. Rudy likes to use those words yet he can’t accurately depict his own voting record in not hiring the City Manager.

So, I think I’ve cleared the air and if I see some kind of contradiction on Rudolph’s blog in the future, I will call him out on it and give him a little spanking. He will respond with personal attacks which is what people do when they can’t defend their position. Oh, and to do some preventative maintenance, Rudolph is not and has never been my daughter’s Godfather. He was incessant in asking to be my daughter’s Godfather and I never said yes. He announced at a meeting he was, but that’s not true. Given Rudy’s penchant for creativity, I thought I would get out in front of this now. I’m a little upset with myself for paying my mortgage the past several years because apparently I’ve been living rent free in Rudolph’s head.



The Mingle Mangle

The Council moved forward with a “Visioning” session at 3400.00 dollars. The vote was 4-1 with CM Dwyer dissenting. This is a waste of time and money. As I said at the workshop on this issue, Carson, Hunt and Handy-Peters need no visioning workshop. For years now literally they have spent over a million dollars on their “visions” of splash pads, parks, land on the avenue for police and fire as well as other visions. None of these came out of workshops. Citizens and former Councilmembers voiced their disagreement on the Splash Pad – to no avail. So, why now? Why now have visioning sessions in an election year with a new council coming on?

There has been talk on Facebook about how CM Hunt and VM Carson joked during the break at the last Council meeting. CM Hunt joked about passing spending measures on visions while CM Dwyer was still not back from the break. VM Carson mentioned a skateboard park. I believe that this was all done in jest. Just joking around. Having said that, with Mayor Garcia now seeking higher office and not allowed to be on the City Council, Carson, Hunt and Handy-Peters can vote in anything they want as they have these last few years. So, whether CM Dwyer is there or not, the spending can, and may, continue on personal pet projects – skateboard park – did that come out of a workshop? That was put down years ago. Football stadium? Did that come from a workshop?

Appointing a new Councilmember to replace Mayor Garcia starts soon. I went through this process after Rudolph Conoley betrayed the over 5,000 votes he received and quit after a year of service on the Council. After Rudolph quit, we had to appoint a citizen to replace Rudolph. Fact is, Rudolph is campaigning for Marshall Lee to win a seat Rudolph could be sitting in had Rudolph not quit. The good news is, the appointment to replace Mayor Garcia, who is not lawfully allowed to seek higher office while being in office, will happen after the window closes for citizens to seek office. That is to say, the appointed person cannot then seek an office on the Council. Citizens seeking office currently should not be considered for appointment as it is not fair to others seeking office as well – in my opinion. While Mayor Garcia is capable of sitting in office while seeking office, the law does not allow it. Rudolph’s quitting and then blaming his quitting on others is what is expected of quitters.

I've been told that Rudolph has personally attacked me on his blog because I called him out on his inability to accurately represent his own voting record when he was on the Council before he quit. Rudolph seemed eager to congratulate himself on hiring City Manager Parrott when Rudolph voted against hiring CM Parrott. It’s fact. It’s reality. See editorial below for re-cap.

Only a narcissist would fabricate or recount the event in such a self-congratulatory manner. Odd that someone who when he started his blog said “No personal attacks”, personally attacks people – in a manner that is unconnected to actual City issues.

Why can’t Rudolph say what he means and mean what he says? I know I’ve heard him demand that of others.

Why does Rudolph insist that others use their real, legal name, but Rudolph goes by the screen name/alias “Van”? Why two different sets of rules: one for Rudolph and one for everybody else - that is what Rudolph says he despises most about government.

If I went to the podium for public participation at a City Council meeting and used the name “Mike”, is that allowed? Would Rudolph say, “Hey, Erickson, you have to use “Norm”, not “Mike”. That’s not your real, legal name!” Acutally and sadly, yes, Rudolph would probably make such a statement not realizing the schizophrenic and bipolar aspects of the statement.

If Rudolph called upon half the tenacity and energy he has for personally attacking people and, instead, employed that tenacity and energy to serve on the Council and fight for open, honest and clean government, he probably would not have quit.

Metaphorically speaking, Rudolph Conoley is an arsonist, posing as a fire marshal – and that’s about all I have to say about that.

The development at Glen Abbey (Walmart and several other businesses) will move forward. I think everyone on the Council right now ran on a campaign platform of “Jobs and Businesses” – well….we’ll see. The zoning and usage are in place. Square footage is a little less than what was approved for the YMCA. This development is the commencement of what I call “Debary 2.0”. With Sunrail here, we need to shift to pro-commerical ala Orange City. What does this do to the “bedroom community” aspect of Debary? Well, we’ll see – but DeBary 2.0 is here and we need commercial activity to pay for the bills coming due for Sunrail. If gambling is going to be offered again down around Sunrail – it is probably time to say “Yes” after thoroughly reading the proposal from the applicant.

When the agenda for next week’s workshop is made available, I will post it here.

Norm Erickson

***This is my editorial from May where I called out Rudolph's poor or perhaps merely narcissistic commentary:


This is what Rudolph Conoley has written on his blog as of May 15th 2014:

I consider Dan Parrott to be a highly effective and highly qualified city manager who has managed the city of DeBary very well.  I believe that the Council that hired Dan Parrott deserves a lot of credit for a wise decision. 

                          R. Van Conoley  ( Editor’s note: The council that hired Dan Parrott consisted of: 1) Mayor Robert Garcia, 2) Vice Mayor Norman Erickson, 3) Councilman Lenny Marks, 4) Councilman Van Conoley, and Councilman Jack Lenzen ) 

HOWEVER, here are the minutes of the ACTUAL VOTE:

January 27th, 2010:

Vice Mayor Erickson made a motion to offer the city manager position to Dan Parrott, subject to his execution of the employment agreement acceptable to the City Council.

Mayor Garcia called for a vote on Vice Mayor Erickson’s motion. The motion passed

4 –1, with Council Member Conoley dissenting

SHAZAM! Looks like Rudolph is re-writing history by making his blog posting appear to be congratulating himself on hiring Dan Parrot when in fact Rudolph voted AGAINST hiring Mr. Parrott.

Rudolph went on to make a motion to "accept" Mr. Parrott - not "hire" him as Rudy put on his blog. As the minutes prove, Rudolph voted against hiring Mr. Parrott.

No judgment here – no personal attacks - just the facts as printed on Rudolph’s blog and in the minutes and to correct Rudolph's blog with the record which is clear.

Rudolph, you have to respond to what I’ve written here soon or within the next eight weeks to explain yourself. That is something you must do. You have to do it. No personal attacks - just respond to the contradictions when one reads your blog and then the record. Thank you.

Norm Erickson




To view meetings referenced herein:


From 34:00 to 38:00 at the January 15th, 2014 City Council meeting, Rudolph Conoley was speaking. Until he used the word “dimwitted”. At that moment with the Mayor present, VM Carson said, “Mr. Mayor. Mr. Mayor”. Clearly, VM Carson took offense to Rudolph’s wording. And then CM Handy-Peters said these incredible words, “Out of order.”

CM Hunt went on to say how Rudolph could be removed by the police officer.

The Mayor was present at this meeting.

From 1:10 to 1:12 of the May 21st, 2014 City Council Workshop, Allan Gochal of the DeBary Diner said the word “F****” twice.

The Mayor was present.

Not a word from VM Carson, CM Hunt or CM Handy –Peters.

I loudly raised my objection to such language. When I said something about the silence of VM Carson and left, CM Hunt’s response was, “He’s (Carson) not the Mayor.”

Well, VM Carson wasn’t the Mayor on January 15th. Neither were you CM Hunt. Neither was CM Handy-Peters who objected to “dimwitted” and called “Out of order” but was silen on the word “F****” .

I’m not the Mayor either – but I called out the incredibly foul language because it violates the decorum rules of Robert’s Rules of Order – decorum CM Handy-Peters and Carson and Hunt used to censure the Mayor – remember that?

Carson, Hunt and Handy-Peters are not outraged by Rudolph’s or Mr. Culligan’s words – they do not like them as people. If vulgarities were the issue, then those three Councilmembers would not have been quiet at the Workshop with the twice used word “F****”. It’s not the issue of being vulgar – it is about the person.

So, CM Hunt basically abdicated the Council’s responsibility as it relates to enforcing the rules of decorum. So, if I go up there and curse and the Mayor doesn’t care – the rest of the Council will be silent? What if Mr. Culligan or Rudolph does it?

As for CM Dwyer, I believe he was shell-shocked as most were in the room. I think the Mayor was shell-shocked at the use of the F-word. I know CM Dwyer is chiding himself for not saying something just as I admonished myself for not speaking up for Mr. Culligan last October when Sandra Wilson and her stormtroopers accosted him at the public political debate from which Mr. Culligan was removed and given a trespass notice.

I'm glad I stood up for Mr. Culligan at the workshop in calling out the conspicuous double-standard in play against individuals like Mr. Culligan. And Rudolph.

But Carson, Hunt and Handy-Peters who were and have been so quick to call out lack of decorum as it relates to Rudolph and Mr. Culligan and the Mayor have no excuse – only the position that it’s the person and not impoliteness that guides their commentary and outrage.

Norm Erickson


This is what Rudolph Conoley has written on his blog as of May 15th 2014:

I consider Dan Parrott to be a highly effective and highly qualified city manager who has managed the city of DeBary very well.  I believe that the Council that hired Dan Parrott deserves a lot of credit for a wise decision. 

                          R. Van Conoley  ( Editor’s note: The council that hired Dan Parrott consisted of: 1) Mayor Robert Garcia, 2) Vice Mayor Norman Erickson, 3) Councilman Lenny Marks, 4) Councilman Van Conoley, and Councilman Jack Lenzen ) 

HOWEVER, here are the minutes of the ACTUAL VOTE:

January 27th, 2010:

Vice Mayor Erickson made a motion to offer the city manager position to Dan Parrott, subject to his execution of the employment agreement acceptable to the City Council.

Mayor Garcia called for a vote on Vice Mayor Erickson’s motion. The motion passed

4 –1, with Council Member Conoley dissenting

SHAZAM! Looks like Rudolph is re-writing history by making his blog posting appear to be congratulating himself on hiring Dan Parrot when in fact Rudolph voted AGAINST hiring Mr. Parrott.

Rudolph went on to make a motion to "accept" Mr. Parrott - not "hire" him as Rudy put on his blog. As the minutes prove, Rudolph voted against hiring Mr. Parrott.

No judgment here – no personal attacks - just the facts as printed on Rudolph’s blog and in the minutes and to correct Rudolph's blog with the record which is clear.

Rudolph, you have to respond to what I’ve written here soon or within the next eight weeks to explain yourself. That is something you must do. You have to do it. No personal attacks - just respond to the contradictions when one reads your blog and then the record. Thank you.

Norm Erickson




Councilmember Dwyer’s Issue with Ethics

CM Dwyer broached the subject of ethics and non-profits at the last Council meeting. It’s something that he worked on previously when he was on the Charter Review Committee. He desired some language for the Council, citizens and non-profits to guide the process and keep it all transparent. What those three parties should and should not do.

It all stems from the involvement of CM Carson and Mr. Koval and their associations with CPPI, Inc. Carson’s mother, uncle and aunt were members of that non-profit as well as Mr. Koval’s wife being present. CM Carson was adding agenda items to allocate tax payer monies to a non-profit with his family members on it and a fellow Council member’s wife as president. Illegal? No. Jail time? Not hardly. Good governing? Far from it. The fireworks process was a journey of circumventing the budgeting process, discussion and basically a position that the ends justify the means: it ended with the then president of CPPI Ms. Steele putting a gun to the head of the City: If you don’t do the fireworks show, it will fold and the Council will be blamed for not continuing something they weren’t supposed to be doing anyway.

No, I don't want the fireworks show to go away. I want some ethics followed as it relates to process and not let "the ends justify the means" to be the motto of the DeBary City Council as Carson, Koval and Hunt seem to want. Of course, the Koval's history with this topic flip-flopped after CPPI violated their own mission statement. It's all on the record and for those who have followed it at the meetings or reading about it here on POP, they know that guidelines on paper are needed for all parties involved.

Other events that CPPI were putting on but getting funding from the Council via these Councilmembers isn’t something we want duplicated.

When CM Dwyer brought this topic up, CM Hunt started mentioning the VFW, the Eagles, and other non-profits to muddy the issue: no one has raised objections to how those non-profits have operated. Only CPPI, Inc. Whether or not CM Hunt doesn’t understand the actual issue or doesn’t want to understand it, I do not know.

CM Carson, obviously, didn’t have a problem with the process that had been followed and saw no need for clarification of ethics as it relates to this issue. CM Dwyer and the Mayor spoke in favor of having some guidelines in writing so that everyone can be on the same page. CM Handy-Peters said nothing, but nodded her head to indicate she wishes to move forward on this issue.

Norm Erickson

PS: I saw a picture in the Deland Beacon newspaper of 15-20 people standing in line at Lil Sammy's convenient store by the Sunrail. At least Lil Sammy's has put DeBary on the map as a destination City: restrooms and water. Yes, there are water fountains at the DeBary Sunrail station...but they don't work.



This is the cheapest it will ever be:

Round trip from DeBary: 8 bucks:

From the Orlando Sentinel: It runs from DeBary in Volusia County through downtown Orlando to Sand Lake Road in south Orange County. The base fare will be $2 one way, with an additional $1 charge for each additional county.

It will stop at stations every half-hour from 5:06 a.m. to 10:10 a.m., depending on location, and in the afternoon and evening from 3:30 to 8:18, again depending on location. In midday and late evening, the train will run about every two hours, with the last one pulling out from Sand Lake Road at 9:15 p.m.



Quick Mingle Mangle:

There is a City Council meeting on April 2nd at 7PM. I have the link below for you to check out. Click on the blue links to read the background material.

Things are happening in DeBary: businesses being talked about around town are in the wind - one is on the agenda at Glen Abbey with Ray Hagood. Check it out. It's mentioned that the piece of land Mr. Hagood is interested in doing something with has a future land use designation which permits convenience commercial uses. Funny, the Splash Pad had a future land use designation for commercial uses - not Public Institutional - so when the Council did that they violated the Future Land Use Map. That violates the Comp Plan. It was never the "vision" of the Comp Plan to have that land used as Public Institutional - that is to say, for it to be used as a park.

There will be talk about sidewalk repair as well as paying for the new fire truck pumper.

There will be a City Council workshop on April 16th.

Check out the full agenda:

Click here for full City Council agenda



Did You Know?

I have three articles from the Sentinel. One is from March 5 th and the other from March 8 th. Two are straight articles and the third is from Beth Kassab’s column.

Did you know that people aren’t able to buy passes online? The online process is not up and running. You have to buy them at community events and workplace events.

Did you know the commercial that was made was widely panned by enthusiasts on Facebook? They hated the commercial.

Volusia County Council members – especially Pat Northey – are worried that too many people don’t know about Sunrail. Kassab mentions that people think it goes to the airport, Tampa, Miami. No. No. No.

Did you know Sunrail DOES NOT run on the weekends? It’s only running during the weekdays.

Did you know the train runs from 5:30-10AM. One trip at noon. Then 3:30 to 8PM.

Did you know FDOT is paving I-4 for 2 billion bucks? Did you know the following was written in the Sentinel, March 5 th:

The work (paving) is expected to last at least five to six years, and Sunrail is designed to serve motorists fleeing the inevitable backups and congestion caused by the construction.

So, after the six years, Sunrail’s business will go down? Talk about government spending: spend 2 billion to push people to use a 1.2 billion dollar train. Wow. I remember a few years ago when Sunrail was being voted on the second or third time, people like Mica were saying we can’t pave our way out of this problem. Now we do both.

Did you know Nick Koval showed up at the February 19 th workshop and urged the Council to move quickly on the police/fire station? Talk about cojones. This guy loses conspicuously and then goes to the Council to tell them what they should be focusing on. Um, Council, if you want to hear from the people, as you said at the same workshop, do not listen to Mr. Koval. The citizens you want to hear from spoke at the last election and soundly rejected three years’ worth of spending.

Did you know that the City is maintaining the park at Alexandra Woods in Glen Abbey where Carson and Koval live? Did you also know the City is paying HOA dues to Glen Abbey on those same parcels where the park is? We are maintaining and paying to maintain the parcels in Glen Abbey. Council, please address this. Does anyone know if Koval was on the HOA at Glen Abbey when he was voting for a City Park in Glen Abbey?

Did you know Saundra Gray was on the St. John’s River Water Management board from 1985-1993? From their website:

Saundra H. Gray

Dates of service: 9/26/1985–3/1/1993

Governing Board responsibilities:

Secretary, 12/1987–4/1989

Vice Chairman, 5/1989–10/1989

Chairman, 11/1989–10/1991

Personnel Committee

Represented the Middle and Upper St. Johns River basins

Occupation: Owner and operator of Gemini Springs Ranch

Did you know River Oaks with the Bayou problems was built around 1993? Did you know that land was originally ESL (Environmentally Sensitive Land)? Did you know that to get that changed so it was buildable required a vote by…drumroll….the St. John’s River Water Management Board of Directors…sometime around 1988-1991 or 1992? They had to sign off on it. Did you know we’re going to be stuck with a bill for the Bayou when we didn’t cause the problem? Did you know that we could “lend” them the money and then tax the people living there much as we’re doing with bringing water to the folks on Fort Florida Road – they want to pay their way. Will the River Oaks, folks? We’ll see.

Did you know that Ashleigh Hart and Dawn Pizzo are running for Seats 3 and 4 respectively? Now you do. This is an election year. It’s time to speak out on the spending that has been going on the last 3 years. Let me share a headline with you from the Beacon Newspaper:

DeBary debates where to put police, fire stations

This was from the February 19 th workshop where CM Dwyer asked all kinds of questions about the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent for a fire station. I mean a police station. I mean both. I mean only police. Get the picture?

Here’s the article to back it up:

Council Member Rick Dwyer questioned why the rest of the City Council was ignoring the advice of experts, including a 2008 Volusia County Fire Services study that “with orders of clarity” listed sites best suited for station construction.

Dwyer said the study determined the city’s best option would be to rebuild on the existing Fire Station 33 lot; if not there, then on the old City Hall site, now the home of a splash park, and so on.

Dwyer’s questions prompted Council Member Dan Hunt declared, “My priority is a police station, not a fire station, if I have anything to do about it.”

Vice Mayor Chris Carson countered, I believe we need both fire and police,” to be housed in a joint structure. Carson said neither of the current fire and police stations near Highway 17-92 and Colomba Road “meet today’s standards.”

Although the City Council has discussed police and fire stations many times, Dwyer’s opening statement deplored the lack of discussion about the joint structure’s placement.

So, did we want to get around the study by forcing the splash pad at its current location? The past Council, Mayor excluded, spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars and didn’t really agree or know they disagreed on what they were spending it for or on.

From the article:

Dwyer said this (a study) would “ensure they choose the best available option and not waste taxpayer dollars on a bad site.”

No dice. Current Council not interested.

CM Hunt and Handy-Peters spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and then debated where to put police and/or fire stations somwhere. Seats 3 and 4. Hart/Pizzo. It’s time to finish what was started last November. After that election, Carson helped to embarrass our City in front of no one less than the literal world with his no-stance on the chicken issue with JJ. He voted it down. Said he wanted to help the situation. Came to the table with no solutions. Happy with that vote for Carson? It’s not often we get a second chance to get it right. That second chance is November 4 th this year. Hart/Pizzo. Seat 3 and 4.

Norm Erickson



The Mingle Mangle from a Muckraker

What a workshop it was on February 19th. It was started with Mr. Koval stating from the podium that the City needs to build the buildings on the purchased property, formerly Rumors, sooner rather than later.

CM Dwyer then went into a discussion about the fire services being situated on that very same land. It goes against the 2006 study. CM Dwyer wanted to know why the Council ignored the study’s experts. CM Handy-Peters stated that not much has changed since 2006 – CM Dwyer countered that is why it doesn’t make any sense: if not much has changed, why go against the recommendation of the study? Ultimately, in my opinion, the previous Council just wanted it. CM Hunt didn’t think fire services were being included. CM Handy-Peter’s presented a Powerpoint about why she was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for the property: fire services. Huh? Anywho, no further studies on whether or not the land purchased really fits the needs of what is to be built on it. It is purchased, so lets move forward. CM Carson’s response to all of it was garbled and made no sense.

Next up was VM Carson saying we need a visioning session to find out what to do. He wants to hear from the people. Mort Culligan’s response from the podium was, “I’ll tell ya what a consultant will tell you – what you pay them to say.” Carson says he wants to hear from the people - didn't I hear in December concerning the whole JJ's Chickens thing that it's the Council's job to educate the citizens - which Council member stated that it was the Council's job to educate the citizens? I know it was stated...now they want to hear from the people.

Compliment to Council members Carson, Hunt and Handy-Peters: you don’t need a visioning session. You’ve spent well over a million dollars the last three years on parks and acquiring property for police/fire services. It didn’t flow from hundreds or thousands of people saying, “Spend money!” It’s didn’t come from a visioning committee or workshop. You knew what you wanted, there was opposition from the podium and you did it anyway. Now you want a visioning committee? You want to hear a vision if it’s the vision you want to hear. Carson’s football stadium: it didn’t come from a visioning session. I think this is an attempt at some fence mending for the upcoming election. There has been no hesitation in the last three years from these three to spend big bucks on their vision.

Clean water is coming to the Ft. Florida area of the City. The City will front the roughly 500K worth of work and the residents will pay an assessment fee via their taxes to repay the City. Sounds like an excellent plan for River Oaks and their Bayou project: we’ll front the money and they can pay the money back via assessments on their improved properties which will result in higher values, taxes, etc,. Sounds fair. Also, and I don’t recommend this, but even if the City paid for the improvements at Ft. Florida road for say, 700K, it would be a true investment with a return of development, higher home values, and higher taxes. After all, the previous Council spend 500K on a splash pad that is only open five months of the year and NO return on the “investment”. So even if the City just paid for the Ft. Florida improvements, the City would see an actual return on this actual investment. I can’t imagine living on Ft. Florida and seeing your Council spend 500K on a splash pad that no one asked for and did not come out of a visioning session. I’m glad the residents down on Ft. Florida will finally be getting some clean, potable water.

VM Carson stated that Mr. Koval is popular in the City - he might be able to run the visioning committee.

VM Carson stated that he is not, NOT a member of the Gateway Center for the Arts. It states on the City website that " He is a volunteer umpire for the DeBary Little League as well as actively support many of organizations such as the Gateway Center for the Arts, Community Partnership Program..." Ok, I got it. So when he says he supports the Gateway Center for the Arts, he means he supports it with YOUR money. Also, if I were Sandra Wilson, I would be insulted that VM Carson ISN'T a member of the GCA. Why isn't he a member? VM Carson: Putting YOUR money where HIS mouth is. Incredible. Is VM Carson a member of CPPI, Inc. ? Or does he just support it with YOUR money? Also, I'm going to post and shred like a head of lettuce VM Carson's information on the City website. Apparently no one as really read it...I've saved a copy as I'm sure it will be corrected in due time. Wait for it...also, Joyce Cusak is not someone I can get behind for County Office...more on that later.

In other news: The West Volusia Athletic Club(WVAC) is in trouble. I have emails and phone calls saying how they are looking for sponsors. Also, team sponsors for financial support cost 325$. Team Banners cost 499$. Also, parents are not happy with the way things are being run. Get this: it costs 85 dollars to join the WVAC. Then they had an “Extreme Team” and everyone made it. Cost: 40 dollars. Maybe they will have an “Extra-Extreme Team” level where everyone makes the team and that will be another 50 dollars. Players met and then just two days later they started playing. It’s not going well. It was not done the right way and the “partnership” with the City was insulting to make this kind of change and not tell your “partners”.

And that’s the mingle mangle.

Norm Erickson



I want to talk about the short, ugly, fat woman in the white SUV that put a flier on Rick Dwyer’s car - Rick Dwyer witnessed it and although Rick Dwyer did not call the woman fat and ugly – I am. The person in question was at the last City Council meeting and was perhaps wondering why people were looking at her.

This fat, ugly woman – a Koval supporter – wrote on the flier some ignorant responses to what were printed on the flier. Of course, as mentioned before on this website, it was addressed, “Dear Dickhead” – which is so telling of the individual putting the flier on the windshield – what kind of father would raise a daughter to act in such a way -

Nick Koval - voted against a reduction on a fine against a soldier who had been stationed in Iraq, in response to that fact, the fat, ugly woman wrote: “…being overseas you still have to maintain your property.” I think the individual leaving the flier kind of helped to make the case for Nick’s callous disregard for this soldier’s situation.

In response to Nick Koval’s continued financial support of CPPI with taxpayer dollars even though Nick knew it was never to take taxpayer money, the fat, ugly woman wrote this:

“All city council members supported this – even the Mayor – maybe you should go to some events.”

Well, Nick was the one running for office. That others also voted to use taxpayer dollars in support of a non-profit that was never to take taxpayer dollars…well…I’m sure that this issue will come up again in about 8 months.

Lastly, as it related to the vote to censure Mayor Garcia, this is what this fat, ugly woman wrote:

“Censured him because he did not act professional. And he was an A **.”

Wow - using that criteria...

Ok, well…I guess this supporter of Nick Koval had the inside information. So that is why Mayor Garcia was censured – had nothing to do with principles or rules or anything – other than what this fat, ugly woman wrote. Oh, did I mention Nick is running for Mayor this year? Can’t wait.

What a City! But you know that Lenny Marks and Norm Erickson…such mean people writing those words on POP. They are the ones to watch out for. The people putting fliers on windshields, calling people “Dickheads”, ejecting Mort from a public evet paid for by the public in a public building, people sending letters from lawyers to shut people up – these are the actions of the people complaining about how mean other people supposedly are.

There are people in this City acting in worse ways than the ways they say they detest. People who dislike editorials are doing far worse actions to citizens who simply share their opinion. Incredible. It's an effective tactic: look over there at those people so you don't see the real problem in my actions.

It’s an election year…I can't wait...

Norm Erickson

Ps. The flier ended with: “YOU SUCK! GO TO O.C. (Orange City – Norm)” Well, Rick can’t go to Orange City – he won the election in a landslide victory so he has to stay here.




At the podium for public speaking Mort Culligan spoke passionately about spending at all levels of government. There was also an issue at DeBary Golf and Country Club that was brought to the attention of the Council. It was discussed that Rick Dwyer is on the HOA and there may be a conflict of interest. I doubt it, but we must be cautious. We wouldn’t want a Council member voting on an issue that they may directly or even indirectly benefit him or her. For example, we wouldn’t want VM Carson, and Koval voting to expend taxpayer money to support a non-profit that family members and a spouse sit on – would we. We wouldn’t want VM Carson voting to spend taxpayer money in support of a non-profit and then VM Carson receive an award for his work in conjunction with that same non-profit, would we? So, yes, let us make sure that Rick Dwyer has no direct or indirect conflict of interest in his voting on this issue…you know…perception is reality.

Oh, but wait a second. Chris Carson and Nick Koval voted "Yes" on a 100K park in Glen Abbey where they live . Doesn't Nick live near there and he enjoys it with his grandchildren? But, did anyone raise the issue or suggest they recuse themselves? Too funny...

Next, the brownfield issue. 4-1 with CM Dwyer dissenting. Here is my take: I thought we were told…wait…we were told that Sunrail was going to bring development to the area. That developer were going to want to build and provide jobs. However, it works like this: we use taxpayer money to build Sunrail and then more taxpayer money to give credits and breaks to developers and then more and more taxpayer money to maintain the Sunrail. I would have given Sunrail a year to give the free market a chance. People with no contamination are now labeled as a brownfield. I commend CM Dwyer for being the lone “No” vote as it always shows principles at work rather than just following the votes. There was a discussion about the brownfield not being the CRA. CM Hunt spoke against the CRA at the time it happened – but that did not stop the Council from appointing Mayor Carmen Rosamonda as the Christmas Parade Grand Marshall – Mayor Rosamonda still voted in favor of the CRA against the 500 people who showed up to say “No!” How we forget.

Next, flood projects are moving forward. 75% in FEMA money to help pay for the projects – this is a good thing.

CM Carson screws up – again. CM Carson, after being elected to four terms in office, can’t handle appointing a citizen to the Historic Preservation Society. He had an application from a citizen the Society wanted to be on the committee. But Carson thought aloud about putting someone else one who had not been asked much less had filled out an application. It is so difficult to get volunteers and VM Carson blew this one. Merry Sussman has lived in this City for over 40 years. What VM Carson did was so insulting. She filled out an application and VM Carson didn’t even call her.

Lastly, it was announced by the Mayor that there is a rumor about Gambling coming back to DeBary via Costa. Mayor Garcia also mentioned that he will be talking about DeBary Little League – seems the people that say they love DeBary so much, leave it. I love DeBary and I’m staying.

CM Hunt let the cat out of the bag: Nick Koval still has it in him to run for office again…

These were the relevant happenings at the meeting.

Norm Erickson


The Election:

How do we explain Koval being removed by the same people who voted to keep Carson? I don’t have a handle on that truth. Many reasons I suppose having to do with popularity, unpopularity, friendships, special interests. I wonder if voting records and actual issues figure into it?

Harts, Koval, Carson and Lawyers/Censorship and Cojones/Mort’s incident at GCA:

It seems that VM Carson’s misused wording of “cojones” made its way around the whole City. Carson’s lawyer sent a letter to Mr. Conoley trying to silence him. It didn’t work. Mrs. Koval sent a letter to the Harts trying to force another apology concerning fruit trees or legal action may be pursued. It seems that expressing one’s opinions is a right reserved for only some people – witness Mort’s ejection for trespassing at a public event to which he had been invited. Sandra Wilson told me she just didn’t understand why someone who has said the things about the GCA as Mort has would want to be there. So she talked to the police about what steps she could take and she took them. That’s it. That’s justification for trespassing in DeBary – thought crimes – that's an expression from the novel 1984 by George Orwell - his real name was Eric Blair.

Raising Taxes:

They were raised. There was an attempt by Mr. Koval to say taxes did not go up because his taxes did not go up. That’s because the value of his home dropped significantly. Oh well. 1.6 million on Parks and Recreation – I don’t know who asked for that spending – other than friends and family members of three Councilmembers one of whom was voted off the dais.

I don’t see taxes going down given the commitment to spending that occurred during the last three years. This Council has spent money in a way and manner that commits the City to a level of spending that will never stay the same or go down. It will forever have to be maintained and/or upgraded. Meanwhile, they took 3 properties off the tax roll on the main avenue which doubles the hardship.

Looks like I've worked through my list of topics for 2013 save R. Van Conoley and the woman in the SUV handing out fliers...stay tuned faithful reader...

Norm Erickson



Key Democrat and impeached judge Rep. Alcee Hastings:
“All this talk about rules. There ain't no rules here. We make them up as we go along.”

On December 18th at the 1:49:32 minute of the meeting, CM Hunt had a little meltdown. Look, I know he was probably frustrated about how the chicken issue went sideways and around the world. He listened to the public speak for over a half an hour – sometimes with a “thousand yard stare”. However, he also had time to think about this issue while reacting to what was said at the podium. What he said was this, in essence, :

“We don’t want any rules. Let’s get rid of all these silly rules. That’s what I’m hearing.”

Well, that’s not what people were saying.

Actually, the Fair Housing Act is all about implementing the rules. It’s about following the rules. It’s about JJ exercising his rights. People were saying “Follow the rules.” The Council had no choice but to grant JJ his chickens.

CM Hunt’s commentary, perhaps born of frustration, once again illustrates his inability to really grasp the issue.

But let’s go further:

The time for CM Hunt’s rant to be expressed was on December 4th when the RV exemption issue was before the Council and the resident was saying, “Let’s not follow the rules.” That is when CM Hunt should have said, “We don’t want any rules!” Because that is what he was hearing from the resident and all his neighbors: don’t follow the rules.

When Dollar General was looking for approval of variances during a workshop instead of the quasi-judicial proceeding that is legally called for, CM Hunt could have yelled: “No more rules!” Because variances and waivers and exceptions and exemptions are all “No more following the rules!” We want to be exempt from the rules.

When VM Carson added two minutes to Mr. Maquire’s time with no motion or discussion – I told you this on Dec. 18th – no response – in essence you were saying, “No more rules!”

What CM Hunt said was the right act but for the wrong show on Dec. 18th. Anytime a waiver or exemption comes up, then CM Hunt can call out what he said on Dec. 18th – if he wants to. Fact is, Councils exist to grant waivers and exemptions, in other words, not to follow the rules, because to follow them would be onerous on the resident. It would be unjust and an undue burden not to grant the waiver. A burden to follow the rules – hence an exemption from the rules. Now, whether or not it really is a burden on the resident is the up to the Council - they can say yes or no.

But for CM Hunt to say what he did on Dec. 18th just goes to show how wrong he was in understanding the issue and how governing works. He was wrong and he was wrong at the top of his voice.

I know he was being sarcastic and satirical – intentionally or not. But CM Hunt, if he’s to be taken seriously, should ask himself the following: why is January 15th the first meeting for the City Council? It should be, according to the Charter, January 1st. Ok, New Year’s Day, we get it. So, January 8th right? No. No more rules – especially when CM Hunt has a union meeting that night. So we change the rules for one person. Why did the Council do that? No more rules –especially for CM Hunt on January 8th.

CM Hunt cursed “Hell ya, let’s get rid of all these rules.” I thought Robert’s Rules called for some kind of decorum. Isn’t that what this Council talked about when they censured the Mayor? May we curse at the podium without comment from the Council?

If you watch CM Hunt’s comments on the City webcam, keep watching to listen to VM Carson’s comments that follow. He makes as much sense as Bob Dylan singing “Louie, Louie” in a wind tunnel. But hey, he was re-elected so he must be competent and proficient, right?

Finally, CM Hunt’s preamble to his remarks were: “I’m sure this is political suicide (his commentary) – I’m sure not to get re-elected.” Your commentary was not political suicide. Your total misunderstanding of the issue heard around the world will be. Your spending on personal pet projects will be your political suicide and your legacy which is committing all future Councils to service levels the People do not want – witness the last election. Your lack of understanding of basic governing will be your political suicide.

Basically if the Brady Bunch and Sam the Butcher had voted against Carson, we would have had two incumbents removed.

Next year the People will be looking to remove two more.

Norm Erickson