County Council praises hotel in Daytona, rips ad study consultant and caves to cities resisting tougher CRA regs

Show Me the Money: Volusia County

Headline Surfer videos produced by Serafina Frederick /  

DELAND -- In what could aptly be titled, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," Volusia County Council members sang the praises of Daytona Beach in landing a Hard Rock hotel/cafe, ripped a consultant's tourism report as a scam and then sheepishly caved to cities fighting tougher CRA regulations, literally in the 11th hour Thursday.

That Daytona Beach had secured the Hard Rock complex to be built on A1A in time for the 2016 Daytona 500 was the good. 

The bad was the council caving to the cities by County Manager Jim Dinneen, under murky circumstances that not only weren't explained, but went unquestioned by the elected body

And the ugly was a scathing rebuke of California-based consultant Dan Fenton paid $100,000 for a comprehensive tourism study on the effectiveness of the county's advertising authorities and the operations of the Ocean Center.

First-term council member Deb Denys who dismissed his findings critical of the Ocean Center's weak bookings as a sham with fellow newcomer Doug Daniels of Ormond Beach, saying his name should be a circuit court docket. 

The day started with a mere two dozen people in the audience to hear the the annual state of the county address -- the first for County Chair Jason Davis, who shared time with holdover council members Joyce Cusack, the at-large representative from DeLand, Joshua Wagner, the Daytona-area member and Pat Northey, representing the Deltona-area.

After four hours of these opposing camps taking to the podium, then it was on to a feel-good presentation on a kinder-gentler beach patrol, followed 

This was followed by what was nothing more than a simple non-binding resolution of support for the possible location of an aerospace facility in the Shiloh refuge south of Oak Hill, but with diametrically-opposed camps of people -- pro-environmentalists who were slightly outnumbered by those pushing jobs from the local chamber, college kids and business leaders, it turned into a near 4-hour affair of foot traffic to and from the podium.

All but Council member Northey, who introduced herself at the beginning of the day for the state of the county address as the "queen of (hiking) trails," voted in favor of the resolution, after the monotony of citizen divide, that culminated with one gentleman bringing up the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion back in the day when he lived up North.

The real fire works, though, in the Frank T. Bruno Auditorium, were delivered by newly-elected council member Deb Denys of New Smyrna Beach, ripping the study commissioned by the previoius council under former term-limited chair Bruno and holdovers Joyce, Wagner and Cusack.

Denys was highly critical of the $100,000 ad authority study done by Dan Fenton that he presented earlier this spring at the Ocean Center, where the consultant was especially critical of the Ocean Center staff and what he deemed lax in generating enough events to fill hotel rooms.

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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 for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.