Tanner Andrews: Consultant says ‘Hire me’; County does it

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County Council — Members of the Volusia County Council deliberate at a recent meeting. From left are County Chair Ed Kelley, District 5 representative Fred Lowry, District 4 representative Heather Post, and District 1 representative Pat Patterson. Not shown are At-Large Member Joyce Cusack, District 2 representative Billie Wheeler, and District 3 representative Deb Denys. Patterson, Denys and Lowry are up for re-election this fall, and Cusack’s seat will be open, as she has served the maximum allowed consec

County Council — Members of the Volusia County Council deliberate at a recent meeting. From left are County Chair Ed Kelley, District 5 representative Fred Lowry, District 4 representative Heather Post, and District 1 representative Pat Patterson. Not shown are At-Large Member Joyce Cusack, District 2 representative Billie Wheeler, and District 3 representative Deb Denys. Patterson, Denys and Lowry are up for re-election this fall, and Cusack’s seat will be open, as she has served the maximum allowed consecutive terms.

BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON

For many years, we have at least suspected that there was something rotten at the morgue. Either bodies were not properly refrigerated, or maybe we had an unreliable medical examiner. At any rate, things have stunk out on Indian Lake Road.

Naturally, County Manager Jim Dinneen has been busy denying that anything is wrong. He did not even giggle when the medical examiner concluded that Marlon Brown was crushed by a police car gently floating down from the clouds.

If only things would stay as quiet as the former medical examiner when it is time for trial testimony. True, after the Marlon Brown report, no one would believe Dr. Marie Herrmann’s testimony anyway. At least she finally had the good grace to slink away and be forgotten.

Not so much with the successor medical examiner. She came up and said that the facility was critically understaffed, with half the people needed for a facility this busy.

Also, there is not enough room and inadequate cooler space for the bodies, so they could not process the stiffs as fast as they should.

Never mind the slow toxicology reports. And please, please do not mention the loss of accreditation.

Naturally, Dinneen and Volusia County Chair Ed Kelley went into denial mode. No, there were no problems. No, the sheriff has no cause for complaint about the medical examiner and the morgue. No, the sun did not rise in the east this morning. No, do not worry about accreditation.

Unfortunately, Dinneen’s credibility is limited. While most of us would not come out like the sheriff, publicly saying what Dinneen is full of, we at least harbor some suspicions. That means he needed someone from outside to deny what everybody already knew.

Et voilà! How about a consultant? The county loves consultants. You could heat for the next two winters just by burning all the Ocean Center consulting reports.

And so it came to pass. When I say that Dinneen hired a consultant, I mean he spent our tax money to do it.

Naturally, the consultant said exactly what Dinneen and Kelley wanted to hear. No problems. Everything is fine. And everything even will be more fine next year when they get a new cooler.

Sure, there are some skeptics who might wonder about the consultants hired to produce favorable reports.

But, no need to wonder what this consultant was thinking — after his report, Dinneen gave him a $250,000-a-year job!

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of this column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.

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