Sheriff Mike Chitwood & PIO Gary Davidson complicit in stomping on internet news outlet's 1st amendment rights

Sheriff Mike Chitwood and PIO Gary Davidson abuding stomping on this media outlet / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer photo illustration / Sheriff Michael J. Chitwood and his $100,000 senior civilian PIO, Gary Davidson, in the span of seven days have barred Headline Surfer from the agency's press conferences, removed the internet news outlet from the agency's media distribution list and removed Headline Surfer from its publicly-funded website.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer
People Places & Things

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- There has been a significant setback in my recovery from last March's life-saving invasive surgery.

Let me put it out there: My life expectancy is precarious. I am not going to get into specifics or rehash what most of you already know. I have and continue to make recovery my No. 1 priority. And part of my healing is reporting & publishing; though overwhelming at times, they are positive factors: I love the public-service journalism, which has been my life.

I am committed to my wife, Sera, and my young grown son, Henry IV, who is making his way in the world (work & college), and my family back in New England. I embrace my fate (even the real possibility of death on the horizon) because of my Christian faith.

But let me be perfectly clear in no uncertain terms as to what is disturbing, despicable and an affront to my first amendment rights of freedom of the press; to what has unfolded with extreme malice in a week's time: The organized scheme by Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood and his $100,000 civilian PIO, Gary Davidson, complicit in restricting Headline Surfer's access to news in that law enforcement agency, funded by Volusia County from the taxpayers.

It is my fervent hope that the public and the county's elected leaders learn what has developed behind the scenes and that they understand why this ugliness must be dealt with swiftly. Because as the saying goes: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The years of exclusion from competing for government advertising, from being disallowed from covering politicians at functions, etc., are over.

From this point forward, Headline Surfer documents it all, reports it and publishes it. And if government does not police itself and soon, then I will turn to the federal courts for swift intervention, even if I have to file pro se. Life is too short and just because we are a small operation does not mean we are going to be continually stepped on just because we don't have the financial resources or the political clout. 

Many are asking why this attack by the VCSO in the span of seven days? Chitwood is an ego-maniac who has been pampered and primped by the mainstream media. He does it because he can. And Davidson is nothing more than a hanger's on after 23 years and now kissing the behind of his third sheriff. Davidson is the ultimate opportunist who is looking out for No. 1 -- the continuation of his fat 6-figure paycheck.

From this point forward, Headline Surfer documents it all, reports it and publishes it. And if government does not police itself and soon, then I will turn to the federal courts for swift intervention, even if I have to file pro se. Life is too short and just because we are a small operation does not mean we are going to be continually stepped on just because we don't have the financial resources or the political clout. 

Many are asking why this attack by the VCSO in the span of seven days? Chitwood is an ego-maniac who has been pampered and primped by the mainstream media. He does it because he can. And Davidson is nothing more than a hanger's on after 23 years and now kissing the behind of his third sheriff. Davidson is the ultimate opportunist who is looking out for No. 1 -- the continuation of his fat 6-figure paycheck.

Chitwood sees the need to marginalize me immediately as he pushes hard on Volusia County government to open up its wallet. Let's face it: The mainstream media isn't going to stand up to him. Chitwood needs to keep his outrageous campaign promises or he knows the deputies are going to turn on him like many of the cops did on him when he was chief in Daytona. If Chitwood doesn't come through with promises of big pay, then he's one and done. He knows it. He knows that I know it and so he's abusing his authority and stomping on this media outlet and its award-winning journalist.

After all, who is going to stop him: County Chair Ed Kelley? The rest of the County Council? So far, not a word.

Only in Volusia County can a politician like Chitwood, buttressed by as much PR as one can get -- can get away with creating havoc for a media outlet that demands transparency of those who tell the public one thing and do another.

But for how long and at one cost to the taxpayers of Volusia County because there's no way we are going to allow him and his PR henchman Davidson to get away with these abuses.

Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet in Daytona Beach, Florida, via HeadlineSurfer.com. Specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with dozens of journalism-industry awards.

View his stories archives here