New Smyrna Beach and meetings galore

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen and the County Council should be applauded for his intervention with the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority and its visitor's center here in New Smyrna Beach. It's really ashamed he can't do the same with the city's Community Redevelopment Agency. The two are scandal-ridden with questionable practices (possibly even criminal) in how business has been conducted.

Why? Because they are cash cows for business insiders, inept politicians and overpaid city administrators looking to take care of each other.

Why did five seasoned CRA board members leave within a six-month period with no real reasons given? Tonight at City Hall brings City Manager Pam Brangaccio's continued push on so-called "infill housing" for Canal Street in a joint meeting between the city commission and the planning board followed by the regular commission meeting. The same Canal Street that will lose its CRA funding in 2015, after 30 years of taxpayer money having come back into the district.

Brangaccio and Canal Street merchant head Cindy Jones have trumpeted Canal Street's revival since Christmas. The problem is they've been the only voices crying for it in print media, which has been handsomely rewarded with CRA advertising.

Make no mistake about it: The infill is an important consideration, but where's the focus on jobs and helping small businesses across New Smyrna Beach?

What plan of action is the city manager and elected commissioners doing to help citizens across New Smyrna Beach cope with trying to keep their lights on, for those lucky to out for dinner once a week to be able to continue doing so, and for restaurants and other small businesses as they struggle to hold on in this terrible economy?

Where's the priority for the city's understaffed police force and its cops, who haven't gotten a raise of any kind in the last three years?

Where's the focus on dealing with the unfunded and mounting pension issues with the firefighters?

The infill is self-serving for the city manager who has to justify her six-figure salary. Brangaccio speaks out of both sides of her mouth on Canal: She says it's on the upswing while behind the scenes, while she's pushing for a new CRA with Canal as the ultimate prize.

The name of the game right now is good press and as long as they're getting that 20-inch front-page story in Wednesday morning's Daytona Beach News-Journal, they're all looking pretty good, aren't they?

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-Orlando metro area via, launched April 7, 2008, as Florida's first around-the-clock online newspaper. Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with scores of regional, state & national journalism-industry awards for nearly 100 breaking news & investigative reporting stories in Florida, New York, Massachusetts & Connecticut.
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