Corrupt & clueless County Councilman Doug Daniels calls internet news publisher's bluff on going to FBI

Perhaps he's so full of himself that he hasn't yet taken the hint that there's already been communication with the feds regarding his sweetheart deals & conflicts of interest

County Councilm,an Doug Daniels questioned by FBI on conflicts / Headline Surfer®Headline Surfer® graphic /
The snapshot image here is from the 2012 campaign website for District 4 County Councilman Doug Daniels of Ormond Beach, whose smugness is illustrated by his banner with the word 'for' missing in front of the office he sought and won, heavily bankrolled by NASCAR's Lesa France Kennedy and other high rollers. 
 

DAYTONA BEACH -- Doug Daniels really is clueless in dealing with investigative reporters, especially one whose award-winning stories are unparalleled in Central Florida.

Oh, Daniels likes to run his mouth on the dais, especially when the reporter in question, your's truly, isn't there. 

But let's be clear about one thing: Doug Daniels is nothing more than a two-bit lawyer who serves as a voting proxy for NASCAR's Lesa France Kennedy and her International Speedway Corp. board pals, Hyatt Brown and Mori Hosseini. 

And, of course, their hotel developer friends along the beach where he's adamant about having cars taken off the World's Most Famous Beach, a century-plus tradition, so the developers can push their time shares and luxury condo units with a private paradise on the hard sands of Daytona.

But let's be clear about one thing: Doug Daniels is nothing more than a two-bit lawyer who serves as a voting proxy for NASCAR's Lesa France Kennedy and her International Speedway Corp. board pals, Hyatt Brown and Mori Hosseini. And, of course, their hotel developer friends along the beach where he's adamant about having cars taken off the beach, a century-plus tradition, so the developers can push their time shares and luxury condo units with a private paradise on the hard sands of Daytona.

Not to mention the sweetheart deal Daniels got last winter for his former law partner, Jon Kaney, Jr., as the investigator and "inspector general" in the sham that is the County Council Waverly Media investigation that has netted his good buddy $150,000 so far as the meter continues to run with no end in sight.

Daniels' among the 'Gang of Four'

Then there was Daniels' own sweetheart deal with the City of Daytona Beach last year , a cool $125,000 to advise City Manager Jim Chisholm on the e-zone for the beachside, in addition, of course to his $41,000 county council salary.

And let's not forget all the sniping and sparring with fellow Democrat and colleague Joshua Wagner, who on more than one occasion, has questioned the conflicts of interest with Daniels pushing tourism dollars being diverted to the financial albatross that is the Ocean Center, led by a man named Don Poor, who makes a six-figure salary, as does Daniels' wife, Marsha Daniels, the monstrous facility's No. 1 marketer.

All of this is a prelude to Daniels' hyperbole on the dais Thursday near the end of an 8 1/2-hour session that began with supporters of beach driving and his whining later in the afternoon about a deal he thought was in place last month in a preliminary 6-1 vote to take cars off the beach behind the former Desert Inn in Daytona.

Daniels is among the "Gang of Four" on the dais with term-limited District 5 Councilwoman Patricia Northey of Deltona, District 1 Councilman Pat Patterson of DeLand and District 3 Councilwoman Deb Denys. Daniels and Northey, both Democrats, have forged a tight bond with two Republicans, Patterson and Denys.

But Daniels got sidetracked and grew irritated after his nemesis, Wagner, brought up the issue of getting closure as to whether Gene Sheldon, appointed to the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority last fall, met the pre-requisite of "doing business" in that taxing district.

Sheldon, 75 years-old and "retired" for two decades from the Florida East Coast Railroad, originally stated his true standing in his application for appointment to the tourism board, one of three regional authorities -- this one with an annual budget of $1.6 million. 

As publisher of Headline Surfer®, I made it clear in an e-mail to County Manager Jim Dinneen, County Attorney Dan Eckert and the seven council members prior to the meeting Thursday that unless Dinneen was willing to truly demonstrate with proof that Sheldon was either the owner or a principal in a business or at least a paid employee, that I was going to make an official complaint with the FBI alleging fraud on the applicant's part and complicity on the part of Dinneen's office in looking the other way.

Without any background on why the demand was being made for the umpteenth time, Daniels ran his mouth. First with Wagner seeking clarification and again with County Chair Jason Davis, also offering to seek out clarification, though in the chair's case, his presentation was weak and vacillating.

Daniels, however, was bold in calling out what he perceives as a threat or a bluff: "You get these threats from Henry to go to the FBI. Well Go to the FBI! Go! Have a good time! knock yourself out!"

Daniels, however, was bold in calling out what he perceives as a threat or a bluff: "You get these threats from Henry to go to the FBI. Well Go to the FBI! Go! Have a good time! knock yourself out!"

The issue was raised during County Council member comments at the tail-end of the meeting with Wagner saying he was tired of receiving my emails and he wanted closure on the issue and wished Sheldon was more forthcoming.

County Manager Dinneen said he sent me a copy of a letter proving Sheldon is employed. What Dinneen didn't say, however, was that this was the third time Sheldon's employment description had changed.

First, he claimed he was "retired." When he was told by the deputy county clerk that retired people can't serve on the tourism board, he said he was a "consultant." When we challenged his veracity on that, then he claimed through Settle-Wilder Funeral Home in New Smyrna Beach that he was a "part-time employee on call."

Davis suggested perhaps a w9 or a w2 to show income, something to put an end to the speculation, as emphasized by Wagner.

Councilwoman Northey snottily responded: No, it will not end."

Colleague Deb Denys added: Just because it keeps coming doesn't mean we have to keep feeding it, with all due respect."

Daniels added, " I don't care if we end it or not. It's just Frederick out there publishing what he wants to publish. He's going to publish something derogatory about somebody sometime. if not this it might as well be something else. It might as well be this guy. Lets not feed the flame. Let's not give it any credence. Let's just move on."

Daniels added, " I don't care if we end it or not. It's just Frederick out there publishing what he wants to publish. He's going to publish something derogatory about somebody sometime. if not this it might as well be something else. It might as well be this guy. Lets not feed the flame. Let's not give it any credence. Let's just move on."

Davis suggested he could knock on the door of the employer, but that drew the ire of Councilman Pat Patterson of DeLand, who said, "You've got other advertising other advertising authorities. Why are we harassing one?"

Patterson added, "I don't think it's fair. He had the credentials. He met the criteria. I think it's absolutely ridiculous. I think Mr. Sheldon is being harassed, I don't think it's fair."

But this is where Patterson is wrong. Dead wrong! There's nothing definitive to show Sheldon meets the criteria for doing business in the tourism taxing district.

Davis said he wasn't intending to harass anyone, adding he didn't know why this was continuing to be an issue, but he wanted it to stop.

The devil is in the details, something they all seem to lose sight or or in the case of Daniels, Denys, Patterson and Northey, that forgetfulness is on purpose.

In Davis' case, he's just not prepared to present a case for something with facts and historical context so it means something.

But let's be clear about something: Daniels, Denys, Patterson and Northey "made their bones" in October when they had Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority Chairman Palmer Wilson removed because as Denys shamelessly pleaded with her colleagues, "We need to finish this!"

Finish what? Oh, yes. Finish off Wilson, the last vestige of ethical responsibility for the taxpayer on the slush fund that is the tourism authority, one of three countywide.

The volunteer Wilson, a retired lawman with integrity, the only chair ever appointed by two consecutive county chairs in Frank Bruno and current office holder Jason Davis, ensured that the 2012 County Council unanimously-imposed ban on tourism funding for the Flagler Avenue Merchants Hospitality Group of New Smyrna Beach, whose slogan is "The Party's on Flagler," was enforced.

Despite County Manager Dinneen's constant imploring that the ban remain in place, Denys repeatedly sought to lift it after she took office in January 2013.

Dinneen's edict came in the wake of SVAA Executive Director Nicole Carni's firing in January 2012. Wilson wasn't on the board at that time, which was chaired by David Kosmas, son of former Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas.

The edict was no funding for the Flagler merchants group so long as Carni had an outstanding debt of $47,000 from allegedly over-paying herself, according to the county auditors.

The original motion for the ban was made by Denys' predecessor, Joie Alexander, R-Port Orange, who attended every SVAA meeting since the issue of Carni's financial issues were raised in the latter months leading up to her firing.

Denys, despite coddling of Watson has rarely attended SVAA meetings and has been a cheerleader for giveaways to the merchants and chamber groups routinely with images and comments on her Facebook page, despite no demonstrated showing of overnight stays, which is the mission of the tourism entity -- or commonly referred to as "putting heads in beds."

For the better part of two decades, the merchants -- led by Adelle Alletti-Hodson and Elaine Statakis, the latter for whom the Internal Revenue Service has a $1 million lien against for non-payment of taxes -- were lavished with hundreds of thousands of dollars in tourism bed tax monies to promote alcohol-fueled street parties and pub crawls.

That's in addition to hundreds of thousands more from the New Smyrna Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, again, taxpayer dollars that are supposed to be used for blight.

In the last five years alone under Mayor Adam Barringer, the New Smyrna Beach CRA has invested $2 million in the rehabbing of bars and pub crawls, including cheesy New Year's Eve fireworks, Halloween bar drunkfests that often spilled out into the streets, and ultimately what Headline Surfer® had predicted would put a damper on the party atmosphere: An alcohol-related death.

That tragedy occurred in the aftermath of the 2013 Cinco de Mayo when a Port Orange mother of three was leaving the party on Flagler, but she never made it home to her three young daughters. She crashed her SUV into the concrete median on the crest of the South Causeway Bridge.

Both she and her new husband, a front seat passenger, were thrown through the windows as the vehicle rolled  several times before coming to rest on top of her lifeless body. The autopsy revealed she was nearly three times the legal limit for alcohol intoxication and had cocaine in her system.

You'd think a year later, taxpayer money wouldn't go for these pub crawls. But the very first event promoted for this year's version of NSB Beachweeks was none other than Cinco de Mayo (we'll have a separate story on that affair, along with the videos, which reinforce the trashiness and waste of taxpayer money).

Sheldon, approved the Beachweeks program with heavy promotion on the Cinco de Mayo to start it all off.

But all of this is of little interest to Daniels, Denys, Northey and Patterson, who seem to have their own agenda., which apparently is doing the bidding of their friends.

In Daniels' case, he's dared me to go to the FBI or as County Manager Dinneen added, it's like the person who keeps saying they're going to sue. Well, that's a possibility, too, but I don't have an endless money pit at the expense of the taxpayers.

Daniels is truly clueless with his bold statements when he suggests, "You get these threats from Henry to go to the FBI. Well Go to the FBI! Go! Have a good time! knock yourself out!"

But Daniels doesn't really have a clue who I am or how bold I can be at going for the jugular of corrupt individuals and entities -- in a literal sense, obviously. For it is the corrupt politicians who are cutting the jugular of the taxpayers either for themselves or their friends or both.

You think Daniels is smart enough to know that either directly or indirectly I haven't done so well before now?

After all, he was notified by Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm earlier this Spring that his $125,000 sweetheart deal as an advisor for the so-called e-zone for Main Street and the surrounding blocks in the heart of Daytona's beachside tourism area was no longer active after having received an initial $25,000. 

County Chair Jason Davis told me that the FBI read my stories questioning the legitimacy of Daniels' deal, especially with all of the inherent conflicts of interest with his elected position as a County Councilman. After all, why should he be paid a full salary if he can't do the full job?

County Chair Davis told me he received a surprise visit to his Edgewater home prior to Chisholm's edict from the FBI with an agent mentioning my stories on Daniels;' sweetheart deal as well as stories I wrote about Daniels pushing for the Waverly investigation and his former law partner Jon Kaney, Jr., benefitting financially for doing the work as an investigator.

To date, the county has approved $150,000 for Kaney and that figure could easily double at the rate things are going with a big court battle looming between Kaney and those challenging his legitimacy to investigate anything. Among those fighting Kaney are 2012 County Chair candidate Ted Doran, Justin Kennedy, who challenged Denys in 2012 for her seat and Waverly Media principals Ramara Garrett and Jim Sotolongo and Waverly office manager Kimberly Was.

Of course Denys was motivated to support the Waverly investigation, where candidates received in-kind campaign contributions that in some ecases exceeded the amounts allowed, but that has already been under investigation by the State Attorney's Office, which won't give Kaney the time of day. 

Denys was hoping the investigation would scare off a run against her in the upcoming elections by Kennedy, but he's running against her any way. It should be noted that Kaney never bothered to interview Jim Hathaway, who won the 2012 primary over Denys and Kennedy, but came up short in the primary.

And term-limited Pat Northey stood to benefit from the Waverly investigation so she could make at-large Councilwoman Joyce Cusack look bad because she, too, received Waverly in-kind contributions. These two are engaged in a three-way battle with Deltona City Commissioner Webster Barnaby the third candidate.

The State Attorney's Office already interviewed Kennedy and Cusack and didn't implicate them. And Doran never took Waverly contributions, but Kaney seems eager to prolong an investigation that is likely to go nowhere, except to put more money in his pocket at taxpayer expense. Thanks, of course, to Doug Daniels.

 

 

 

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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 since 2008. 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 close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.