Campaigns of politicians bankrolled by millionaire developer Mori Hosseini
DAYTONA BEACH -- ICI Homes builder Mori Hosseini was in the Volusia County Council chambers to speak against a rival developer's plans for a strip mall anchored by a Publix just a couple of miles from his proposed lavish Woodhaven mixed-use community.
After all, Hosseini has invested money in the campaigns of four of the seven County Council members in either the 2012 elections, the current election cycle or both in Deb Denys of New Smyrna Beach and Pat Patterson, both up for re-election this year, as well as Pat Northey of Deltona, term-limited in her current seat, but running against at-large council incumbent Joyce Cusack and Doug Daniels of Ormond Beach, whose first term runs two more years.
In the case of Denys, she's also received funding this election cycle from Jim Russell, a friend of developer Sheldon Rubin, who had an application in with the Country Council to build a Publix Publix on on a vacant lot near Samsula in unincorporated Volusia County, sandwiched between Port Orange and New Smyrna Beach; a short distance from upscale developments -- some of them gated -- like Water's Edge, Venetian Bay, Cypress Head and Spruce Creek Fly-In.
The Frank T. Bruno County Council chambers were packed with Rubin supporters and the request by Rubin was scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, but just after lunch and a few minutes before the hearing was to get under way, it was announced that County Chair Jason Davis had visited his doctor and was not returning for the afternoon session. Davis, 52, and mid-way through his first term in elective office, had suffered a heart attack the weeks before.
Davis told Headline Surfer® later in the day he was ordered by his doctor not to return to the council meeting and instead go home because it was too soon after after surgery where a third stent was implanted for his heart. Davis had delivered his state of the county address during the morning session.
Rubin's attorney asked for the continuance and it was granted despite objections from Denys and Councilman Joshua Wagner of Daytona Beach.
Wagner told Headline Surfer® on Friday afternoon he favors Hosseini's plan despite the politics involved. Denys, beholden to both camps because of the campaign financing, did not return calls for comment.
Andrew Gant, a staff writer with the Daytona Beach News-Journal shown here, wrote a story headlined, "Conflict over new grocery store faces county vote this week." But what Gant failed to mention in the is the 'obvious conflict' of ICI Homes millionaire Mori Hosseini bankrolling the campaigns of four of the seven County Council members in Deb Denys, Pat Patterson, Pat Northey and Doug Daniels.
Denys was initially quoted in an advance story by the Daytona Beach News-Journal saying she hadn't made up her mind how she would vote, but the newspaper in describing the Rubin application as a conflict between rival developers, left out of its reporting the conflicts over campaign contributions by either developer and the elected officials.
Headline Surfer® pointed out the extent of the campaign funding in a story published the morning of the County Council meeting along with the cartoon pointing out the campaign funding provided to the aforementioned council members and Hosseini, a millionaire.
The Publix is part of Rubin's large-scale mixed-use development called "Pioneer Square" on a 10-acre parcel is on a vacant lot across the street from the entrance to Venetian Bay and less than two miles from Hosseini's even larger "Woodhaven," which also calls for a Public grocery store.
Besides a Publix, Hosseini's massive development includes in a 650,000 square-foot commercial complex with shops, restaurants and offices, some 1,400 luxury homes. But Hosseini's project is further away from construction as he continues making preparations to try and shore up public approval for public funding from state and county officials for an Interstate 95 interchange extension built, which could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
At Thursday's council meeting, Rubin was looking for approval of two pre-requisites in order for the Publix to become a reality; which he will seek again on May 1:
1. Change land-use from agricultural to commercial;
2. Change zoning from agricultural to a business planned unit development.
But Hosseini is opposed; so much so that he he told the News-Journal he would show up in person in front of the council and make his case, which he did.
A message left for Hosseini with his administrative staff at ICI Homes went unanswered.