Who is the 'we'?
While grateful for the coverage of the silent reading protest that occurred on Jan. 23, at the Volusia County School Board meeting, I must clarify a statement regarding just who it is that is “watching” the book banning activities occurring in our schools. It is the many, many people here in Volusia County (and across Florida and the U.S.) who are passionate about the quality of our public education — they are, every one, included in the “We” I noted who must continue “watching.”
The countless hours, the money coming out of household budgets, the tireless tracking of what is actually going on in our schools is carried out by dedicated parents, teachers, and organizers many of whom were there, standing together in the Protest Zone that evening. Of note: Let Our Kids Read, led by Christine Cyrier and Heidi Kellogg who provide an understanding of how schools work that is invaluable. Other folks associated with the DeLand Quakers, DeLand Pride and Central Floridians for Social Equity were in the audience as well.
The free books were provided by the National Coalition Against Censorship, Kids Right to Read Network. It takes so many who give so much. As the old saying goes, if you want to go fast — go alone. If you want to go far — go together. Please join and support all the people here and across the state and nation in this fight against censorship.
A stalemate of two cities
Three years at the table and still no progress in water and sewer service negotiations between Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach, as confirmed by Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington in the Daytona Beach News-Journal: “This thing could be headed to multiple years of litigation.”
Eighteen months ago, the Daytona Beach City Commission hired a Tallahassee attorney “to untangle confusion about how the two cities should divide costs and responsibilities” for providing water and sewer services to their Avalon Park mega development.
Last year, the Avalon Park developer hired a local professional consultant to coordinate the site plan with both cities and with county government.
A 2006 court decision created the current dilemma in a ruling that allowed Daytona Beach to annex 3,000 acres north of its service area boundary while letting Ormond Beach retain the rights to provide water and sewer service to the annexed area. This decision left the cities to decide what amount of compensation Ormond Beach should receive from Daytona Beach in exchange for the services.
Ten questions that may never be answered: Is there a compensation number acceptable to both cities? Is such a calculation even possible? Should Ormond Beach be partially compensated for a second sewer plant, a second water plant, new wellfields, and infrastructure made necessary by the service needs of a potential 7,878 new homes paying property taxes to Daytona Beach? Has Ormond Beach done a cost-benefit analysis for providing water and sewer service to Avalon Park?
Why have the negotiations been kept private, away from the transparency of public government sunshine? When did Ormond Beach receive a mandate from its citizens to provide the services to a development of 7,878 homes in Daytona Beach? Does withholding the water and sewer services give Ormond Beach any leverage in having a say over how many homes ultimately get developed in Avalon Park?
Do Ormond Beach commissioners, three newly-elected in 2022, support the existing policy? If the two cities end up going back to court, is it possible a judge could award Daytona Beach the service rights to development within its boundaries, leaving Ormond Beach with nothing? Why doesn’t Ormond Beach sell the service rights to Daytona Beach, extricating both cities from a complex service partnership that may be impossible to construct?