DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Ed Kelley, Billie Egger Wheeler, Heather Post, Deb Denys, Joyce Cusack, Pat Patterson & Fred Lowry all have two things in common: 1. They are elected members of the Volusia County Council; 2. They have said nothing -- not even uttered one word publicly -- about Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood's spiteful exclusion of HeadlineSurfer.com from his law enforcement agency's email media alerts and his banning of us from press conferences.
These abuses started Jan. 3, when Chitwood was sworn into office, and have continued now for 200 consecutive days. This is Chitwood's way of exacting revenge against this small media outlet knowing full well we don't have the financial resources to go to court, but we are on a collision course in that direction.
So why are these blatant abuses occurring? Petty revenge and a weak spine on Chitwood's part. He can dish it out, but he can't handle it when the heat is on him. And hat's what happened five long years ago: We had the audacity of writing an investigative reports story in 2012, on alleged abuses of several women cops by a patrol supervisor Chitwood promoted to captain when he was Daytona's chief of police.
Headline Surfer's story won two awards later that year in the Florida Press Club's annual statewide journalism contest in the writng categories of public safety reporting & general news reporting.
County Manager Jim Dinneen also has said nothing publicly. Then again, he's had his own battles with Chitwood since he took office, at one point referring to the county manager as a "lying sack of shit," in a published story in the Dayutona Beach News-Journal.
The situation has become untenable with Chitwood's exclusion of Headline Surfer, which has won more journalism awards in the past five years than most of the Central Florida media outlets combined.