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November 6, 2014

Jack S. Grasty is but another one of the insiders who have taken New Smyrna Beach down the road to drunken bar crawls, fat cats getting richer off of tax money, and continued failure to develop the city economically. His constant rant to raise taxes ( he has never voted to reduce them) in order to feed the pockets of the unions, again at your expense, is a fact. He claims that these tax increases are just a small amount every month (that’s because he pays very little on his property tax for what only can be called a “run down, cracker box” of a house.)

He has no leadership training or demonstrated capacity for the same. He is inarticulate and does not understand government management from a public trust perspective; he only knows how to take care of his friends. He has no business background, so demonstrates a complete lack of understanding how to run a government. His performance in the past has been lackluster and has been focused on his friends at the Marine Discovery Center and the Anglers Yacht Club, neither one of which contributes economically to the City’s tax base (one lives free on your property at the old high school and the other pays a ridiculous $25.00 per year for a multi-million dollar piece of your property that is on the water.) In both cases he has been the champion for the status quo and gone out of his way to prevent any changes to this continued give away; case in point voting against forcing the Anglers to the table to re-negotiate the lease to a more favorable position for the common tax payer.

We will be going through his pathetic history as a City Commissioner and his over all lack of background to be mayor in future articles. Stand by and come back to see what we have.

The Judge Notes:

As You Can See By The Results We Were Pretty Much In Tune With The Voters. We Have Some Quick Notes Below and Will Be Bakck On Monday With Some Suggestions For The New Mayor and Commissioner

Pretty strong words, even for us here at the Shadow, but we feel strongly about it. In fact we just can’t come up with any reason why a former, admitted drug dealer, who has few if any redeeming characteristics, should be a member of the Planning and Zoning Board, except that his long time buddy James Vandergriff needed his help to get his Alba Court property re-zoned so he could make a profit. We say that knowing him well for many years and the bottom line is he a fringe member of the Vandergriff “mafia” and hangs in there with the same special interest groups that have sucked this town dry for many years, including many of the current City Commission.

Steve fancies himself a mover and shaker; just take a gander at the picture that has made its way around town lately with him sucking on a big cigar while out playing golf with the in-crowd from the Chamber and others from the Anglers Club, both of who think they own this town. Remember the SEV Chamber lives rent free in one of you, the taxpayer’s buildings, while the Anglers Club sit fat, dumb and happy on your waterfront property worth close to $3,000,000, while paying a mere $25.00 per year. And they got that deal through a backroom 100 year lease in the 1940’s that a well regarded law firm on Orlando said was not valid from the beginning. Now just what kind of legitimate politician gives a club of white only males a 100 year lease for essentially nothing for 100 years? None that could be called transparent or tax payer friendly.

Add into that the freebies that are continually bestowed upon the Marine Discovery Center, again at our, the taxpayer’s expense, and begging to see the breath of Jim Vandergriff’s behind the scene empire. The Marine Discovery Center was his brainchild under the guise of economic development and it has managed, we believe, to not only not bring in any tax revenue to the City or increase tourism spending. It has evolved into the opposite, a tax guzzling monolith that never seems to get enough of your money or land. Recently, a group even had to fight the City to get taxpayer funded and owned dock opened back up after the Marine Discovery Center locked it off from public access and posted no trespassing sign. And the City, through its Assistant City Manager, was not forthcoming and remained evasive until the State stepped in threatened removal of previously approved grant monies. Since then, the gate has since been removed. This is more handiwork supported by Vandergriff and Steve Sather is his runner and handyman.

In addition, it has come to our attention that Mr. Sather owes money on beachside since the early 2000's and despite his claims of business success in his campaign literature, he has not paid this money back. In fact he claims he does not have it. If he can't manage his own finances why would you want to let him have access to your tax dollars?

In summary, Sather demonstrated that he can’t be trusted when he decided to both sell and use drugs, in many cases to the determent of children in this community. He has further demonstrated that he has no independent thought and merely does the bidding of Vandergriff; in fact that is why he got into the 2009 election as well as this one. More Vandergriff insider maneuvering. We will be do more stories on Steve in the future, but for now suffice to say he does not deserve your vote if you want transparent, tax payer focused government, free from undue influences by the special interest groups who could care less about anything but their own profit margins and freebies paid for by you the tax payer.

The Brannon Center Public Dock - Again!
The recent article in the News Journal about the dispute between the City and the Water Taxi Express operator Mathew Dvorak over using the dock for picking up passengers for trips on his boats, just reemphasizes the way this City government is always manipulating issues to their benefit or that of their special interest friends. And as usual, the NJ never asked the right questions and for the most part just regurgitates whatever the City hands them.

Lets look at the origin of this issue goes beyond Mr. Dvorak and his water taxi services. The City petitioned the Florida Inland Navigation District (F.I.N.D.) for funding to remodel the park bulkheads and docks associated with the Brannon Center, as well as install a new floating dock system. That floating dock system was specifically provided in response to a City identified need to provide day docking services to facilitate boaters visiting Canal Street to shop and eat. In spite of that provision, the City chose to manipulate the situation for their benefit and at the expense of the rest of taxpayers, and restrict almost 2/3rd of the floating dock space to 15 minute loading and unloading, or another words, granting Mr. Dvorak somewhat assured exclusive access to the dock for his profit making business. In fact, the City originally attempted charge him a fee for docking and that was stricken down by F.I.N.D. as inconsistent with grant award conditions.

So they went ahead and wrote a contract with Mr. Dvorak where in exchange for use by his profit making taxi service of the publicly funded dock, he would advertise the invisible Waterfront Loop dreamed up by the City employed former chiropractor. Once this was found out by the State DEP, it was determined that the City would have to pay a fee for what had been a fee free submerged land lease for the waterfront area associated with the Brannon Center. The previous submerged land lease had been free since it was dedicated to public use. So, in a nutshell, the City usurped a dock dedicated for day docking by the public, tried to make a profit off it by charging Mr. Dvorak for its use, and ended up having to pay the State for the submerged land lease. In fact, Ms. Brangaccio, by her comments in the article, only verified the extent of her scheme to rent out the dock to Mr. Dvoark and prevent the tax paying boater access. She furthered this scheme by attacking the people who argued for F.I.N.D. to make the dock accessible to taxpayers who paid for it, through her public comments and orchestrated email attacks.

Now they want him to pay for their behavior and despite our previous opposition to his use of the dock (and we still feel the reserved space should be eliminated), we think the City is trying to have its cake and eat it too. But then that is just another example of the continued and on-going bad faith operations of our City manager, who, as her previous employers have stated, just does not play well with the taxpayers or citizens. Enough is enough and we need to desperately get some new and more transparent leaders in place on the City Commission and the Mayor’s chair. While we have that opportunity with both Sachs and Hathaway, we also desperately need a change in the City Manager and we hope these two men have the fortitude, once elected, to suggest that she move on and conduct her backdoor operations in somebody else’s city.

We will keep you posted as this scenario plays out. 


We just threw away an opportunity to rid ourselves of an inept and double-dealing politician in the District Three race for the County Council. We can assure you it will be more of the same old insider, contribution fueled and paid for legislative games for Volusia's District Three.

But we have a chance with the At-Large Seat and others still pending for the general election. And right here in NSB we have a crisis in leadership that can only be cured by new blood or at least re-vitalized old blood in the case of one candidate. Citizens of NSB must stand up to the Vandergriff machine and draw a line in the sand while saying Enough is enough and No More Backroom Deals. We will be addressing these races in our next edition, so please stand-by.

Boy, Maybe I should switch over and work for Hathaway and Sachs as the County Chair seems to have disappeared.
Vandergrift and Barringer Machine is Repudiated in NSB

It was encouraging the other night to see that the voters clearly said no to the Vandergrift and Barringer insider Machine by electing Jim Hathaway and Jake Sachs to the City Commission. Both will hopefully bring a new transparency and common sense to what has been machine run operation with complete  disregard for the taxpayer. The voters clearly said that Grasty’s history of never voting for a tax reduction and Steve Sather’s unfortunate legal history as a former drug dealer and Vandergrift insider “best boy”, were not what they were looking for as their City leaders.

Instead they selected a former long term commission member, who did vote to reduce taxes and seemed to thoughtfully consider issues before him during his eighteen years on the commission. He also comes to the table with college education and business experience as a small business man. This, in stark comparison to Jack Grasty with only a two year degree, no business experience and basically a government pensioner from the Utilities Commission. While Jack is certainly a decent person, it was clear that the voters wanted someone more attuned to their needs and one who truly understands budgets and analysis, and would watch the government purse. In the end we think they wanted somebody with more transparency and a rethinking of the previous way of doing business on the commission exhibited during his former elected terms. Hathaway campaigned on prioritizing the needs of the community to spend tax dollars more wisely; we could not agree more and he could start by eliminating the continued under the table monetary support for the MDC and replacing the overpaid City Attorney with a less costly option. He also said that promote common sense approach to decision making and reduce taxes by eliminating non-essential expenditures; our suggestions above hold true here also. Although at times the SHADOW had its differences with Hathaway, times have changed and we think Jim has also, at least by his comments during the election, and hope that he does what we have discussed and we think he will.

In Sachs, a first timer in politics, we think the voters saw an honest and articulate guy who was not part of the local machine run by Vandergrift and his adopted political “son” Barringer. Jake has worked in government from the other side and understands the need to get back to basics as opposed to the previous willy-nilly rampage of money give aways that served no long term purpose. In our conversations with Jake we found him focused and even though a newcomer, right on target on where NSB should be headed.

Voters clearly did not want Sather, another cigar smoking insider with a less than squeaky clean legal  history and questionable success as a businessman who was and is apparently unable to manage his own finances with a serious debt on beachside. Sather’s under the table appointment to the P&Z Board did little to tamp down his insider machine credentials, but it was, in our opinion, his cigar swagger picture on the golf course that brought back the question of his behavior years ago and his machine connections today.

Sachs brings a fresh, taxpayer focus to the Commission and we hope he continues to ask those important questions when the machine tries shove through the under the table deals such as the questionable retirement of former chief Pagano, the evidence fiasco in the police department, the questionable sudden return from the FBI National Academy and immediate retirement of Broullette, the special deal of over one million dollars to satisfy the machine’s friends on the North Causeway, and the questionable operations of the CRA. But most important, the continued retention of the grossly overpaid City Attorney. We hope that he insists that the Commission change its citizen interaction behavior to that of a fully transparent and partner mode with open discussion . We hope that he fights to reduce the consent agenda back to what it was created for, rather than a mechanism to push through special interest bills. And we hope he stands firm on focusing the City’s limited resources on essential service like police, fire, and public works, while reducing the giveaways to non-performing hobbies run by the elite few.

Again, congratulations to the winners and a vote of appreciation for the losers for at least taking on the race itself. We deplore the fact that no one would stand up and go head to head with Ms. Reiker, who has done little to support a re-election, much less a re-election without opposition. She is one of the weaker members of the Commission and one who has, in some cases more than her peers, funded the efforts of her special interest friends with your money. Remember Flagler Ave is her backyard and not only does she participate in the bar hopping drinking games, she has done nothing to clean up this sleazy side of NSB nightlife. She is a champion of one of the biggest leaches in the City, the Marine Discovery Center and has refused to do anything about the illegal lease with the Anglers Club, despite her campaign promises during her first campaign. And finally, she travels on the taxpayer dime along with her mentor Guy, the puppet master. She needs some competition and the SHADOW will do what he can to make that happen next time around, while at the same time monitoring her behavior during her second term.

At the County level, our most sincere congratulations to Joyce Cusack for her decisive victory over Pat Northey. We favored Joyce this year and in previous elections because she is a class lady and excellent legislator who always look toward the impact of her actions on the dais would have on the voters and taxpayers. She was attacked in the most despicable way by Ms. Northey in the last week of the campaign with a vile post card mailer that stretched OLD facts from 2010 to fit Northry’s needs. We think the public saw that for what it was and answered at the polls. Pat Northey should have never run this race and should have quietly retired from the public view. Her on-sided view of eco-based initiatives at any cost was cumulated in the property grab she orchestrated against the citizens of Osteen last year. It was, as usual, Pat’s way or the highway and that does not count her campaign money dump from the developers.

But what we should note here is that the developers have been hurt big time here and will so in the future as Joyce opposes them when needed, such as giving them private beaches by taking the cars off the beach to appease them. Again, our congratulations to Ms. Cusack for a job exceptionally well done.