'Pastor Mike' Pastore sees himself in role of David vs Goliath in crusade against government on behalf of Daytona's chronic homeless

Not much has changed for this homeless beer man, featured in a previous Headline Surfer in-depth story last year. Here is a link: Post-Hurricane Irma: Daytona's homeless front & center.
 
Photos for Headline Surfer / Michael Pastore, an advocate for Daytona Beach's chronic homeless residents, has taken to using homemade signs to get his message across to the public regarding what he sees as shoddy treatment by city elders and the cops alike.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- 'Pastor Mike" Pastore does not accept the adage you can't fight City Hall -- not when it comes to the needs of the homeless.

On any given day in Volusia County, there are 900 chronic homeless men and women. More than two-thirds of them are in Daytona, Volusia County'ds tourism mecca, home to the World's Most Famous Beach and Daytona International Speedway. 

And with the continual focus on tourism, the homeless are left to fend for themselves. That's where Pastore, himself homeless at one time, sees a vacuum in leadership where he is doing God's work, at least from his point of view.

The sign on the street curb outside Daytona Beach City Hall by Pastore and his followers is is the same carried inside into the City Commission Chambers: "STOP War on the Homeless."

But the message appears to be falling on deaf ears among the power brokers.  

Michael Pastore, known on the downtown streets of Daytona as "Pastor Mike," sees himself in the role of David in the Old Testament, who is up against the mighty Goliath, the government, in his personal crusade to help Daytona's chronic-homeless residents.

Pastore said he is at wit's end in dealing with city and business leaders, who he says talk a good game when the opportunity presents itself for self-promotion, but they are not willing to roll their sleeves up and deal with the issues at hand that aren't popular.

"I have been asked 'Why are you so mad at the elected officials? They are the only ones who can help you.' " Pastore told Headline Surfer. "I have been asking, begging and pleading for four years. They don't want to help the homeless; they want to hide the homeless. They don't fit the vision of a tourist town. I am disgusted, but I press on, agitating for change."

Michael Pastore, shown here in front of City Hall holding up a sign promoting his Facebook page, and known on the downtown streets of Daytona as "Pastor Mike," sees himself in the role of David in the Old Testament, who is up against the mighty Goliath, the government, in his personal crusade to help Daytona's chronic-homeless residents.

Pastore said he is at wit's end in dealing with city and business leaders, who he says talk a good game when the opportunity presents itself for self-promotion, but they are not willing to roll their sleeves up and deal with the issues at hand that aren't popular.

"I have been asked 'Why are you so mad at the elected officials? They are the only ones who can help you.' " Pastore told Headline Surfer. "I have been asking, begging and pleading for four years. They don't want to help the homeless; they want to hide the homeless. They don't fit the vision of a tourist town. I am disgusted, but I press on, agitating for change."

The entire funding was approved in June of last year with the expectation groundbreaking would begin before year's end. But before the year was up, Daytona officials said because of differences in opinion as to the design and scope of the facility, it could be two years before the shelter could be built. No definitive explanation or answers have been forthcoming from municipal or county leaders since then.

Calls to County Chair Ed Kelley have gone unanswered. Likewise, Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry has not responded to inquiries specific to  the shelter.

All of this is a big letdown from 10 months ago when Daytona city officials agreed on June 6, to commit upwards of $400,000 annually over the next five years towards construction and operating costs of what is to be called the First Step Shelter, which would be run by Catholic Charities, with private donations expected to supplement costs. 

And on June 15, the Volusia County Council voted to approve $4.5 million in funding for the bulk of construction on a 10-acre county-owned site subsequently deeded to the city and annexed with the Daytona City limits.

Mark Geallis, formerly executive director of Halifax Urban Ministries, and one of Volusia County's foremost authorities on the homeless, said he is at a loss as to the apparent delay.

"I am baffled," Geallis said. "I attend most of the First Step board meetings and the official line of City of Daytona Beach government is to blame the architect for being slow Secondarily, they use excuses about the large scope of the project and sometimes permitting issues are discussed."

Geallis continued, "Near as I can tell the First Step Shelter Board is kept in the dark by the city and will not charged with construction. but will be mostly involved in operations and future funding. The board also is frustrated and can't understand the delays, several members are successful business leaders and have stated if this was a private project, it would get done in months not years. The Shelter will not only help many homeless it will help our community as a whole and is desperately needed and should be fast tracked."

But there is another issue with the shelter and it may be a prevailing one: The shelter's location is on the outskirts of the tourism-driven city on Red John Drive near the Volusia County Branch Jail. And that's a 20-minute ride from downtown where the chronic homeless like to panhandle.  

And though it has been heavily debated as to whether the homeless will even use the shelter, before years end, after the 10-acre plat was cleared, city officials said the actual opening could be delayed by two years.

And that has Pastore livid. After all, he was one of the more outspoken critics of the location but said the politicians were eager to find a location as far away from downtown as possible.

Pastore said he has sought counsel from his faith partners, such as Pastor Rick Tidwell of Ponce Inlet, who has told him, "Mike you are about Justice and I am about Mercy " Pastore readily agreed: "Well, that's true. I can make thousands of bologna sandwiches -- fill bellies for a moment -- but what I am after is Justice."

Jason Davis, who chaired the County Council for four years before losing re-election to then-Ormond Beach Mayor Ed Kelley, said he understands where Pastore represents the little people -- or as Davis describes the homeless, "the voiceless." Davis said in his leadership role, he understands the weight of the government on the community it represents.

"Pastore may see himself as David," Jason Davis said, "but he has an empty slingshot. And that is not going to make a bit of a difference. He may be right, but he is only antagonizing the situation. 

Davis, too, said he felt powerless against the forces of good and evil in his re-election campaign as he could not compete with the insider business connections that Kelley was supported with. Kelley amassed $194,672.29 while Davis managed a mere $23,308 in campaign contributions, none from any influential business insiders.

Most of Kelley's funding came from the likes of J. Hyatt Brown, chairman of Brown and Brown Insurance, Mori Hosseini of ICI Homes and Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of International Speedway Corp., the umbrella company of Daytona International Speedway and a dozen other racing track facilities across the country.

Brown and Hosseini serve on the ISC board with France Kennedy, and together, they are recognized as the Big 3 business insiders of Daytona and throughout Volusia County.

"Personally, I don't think that homeless shelter is ever going to get built," Davis said. "Mr. Pastore is going after these politicians, but they're not listening to him. They're just going to continue ignoring him."

Headline Surfer graphic / Homeless Counts for Daytona Specifically as shown in the infographic above. 
 
Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards. Frederick is enrolled online at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's a third of the way though the Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation will be in March 2018.