Columnists

Thu
05
Jul

Barb Shepherd: A cautionary tale for those who seek the public trust

Rights in action — West Volusians exercise their First Amendment rights in recent days, here, in worship at New Hope Baptist Church of Deltona in May.

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Rights in action — West Volusians exercise their First Amendment rights in recent days — here, in worship at New Hope Baptist Church of Deltona in May.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

If one of your city commissioners told a woman she needed to pay back some money he gave her — in “ass or cash” — should you know about that?

You have not only the right, but a duty to know it, as a citizen of DeLand, painful as it may be to read or hear.

City commissioners dictate the property taxes you pay. They govern the operation of our police department, determine how well our roads are maintained, make rules for the development of your real estate, and decide how well our firefighters are funded.

You bet we have a right to know who they are and how they behave.

According to police investigators, that crude demand was made by DeLand City Commissioner Jeff Hunter, in a voicemail from Hunter’s cellphone that was harvested by police. 

Investigators also have evidence, they said, that Hunter offered the same woman drugs from his stash of prescription opioids.

Thu
05
Jul

We stand with the First Amendment

A reader contacted us, concerned that The Beacon might cover up our big front windows in the wake of the murders of five journalists at The Capital Gazette in Maryland, beginning with a shotgun blast that came crashing through that newspaper’s front glass.

“Thank you; please, please don’t close up,” our friend wrote in an email.

Not a chance.

We cannot be afraid to come to work in our newsroom, any more than you can be afraid to go to church or a concert or to send your children to school.

It may be tempting to pull back, but we cannot succumb to fear, because fear would paralyze us, and there’s work to be done.

For us, that work includes shining our Beacon light on the good, bad, ugly and beautiful in local topics, from the workings of local government to the activities of local people. 

Thu
05
Jul

Letters to the Editor: Lifeguards at DeLeon Springs, racism and more

Thanks for bringing back lifeguards at DeLeon

Editor, The Beacon:

I want to thank The Beacon and DeLeon Springs State Park for working together to bring back lifeguards to the park. Earlier, the Division of Recreation and Parks had decided to do away with lifeguards at DeLeon Springs. This may have lessened the number of children coming to the park.

Beacon reporters contacted the state in their investigation, and the state decided to reinstate lifeguards to the park. The staff at the park have been extremely welcoming to the lifeguards.

On the morning of June 29, I watched more than 200 elementary-school children in blue shirts enjoy our amazing park! They were having so much fun, laughing, being active, and actually learning water skills. 

They were later eating a picnic lunch under trees that were growing when Ponce de Leon entered Florida for the first time.

Thu
05
Jul

Pastors: Immigration reform needed now more than ever

BY PASTOR JAMES COFFIN AND THE REV. BRYAN FULWIDER

The Interfaith Council of Central Florida acknowledges that President Donald J. Trump has rescinded — at least in part — his administration’s brutal, heartless, unjust, inhumane, immoral policy of forcibly separating children from their parents when would-be immigrant and refugee families seek safety and security in the United States.

Although it appears additional children will not be subjected to the barbarity of separation, the change in the administration’s policy by no means heals the deep wounds already inflicted on thousands of innocent children. 

Nor does the president’s executive order call for the reuniting of hundreds of shattered families.

Many with direct knowledge of what has transpired question whether governmental record-keeping has been adequate to ensure all the children can ever be reunited with their parents. 

Thu
05
Jul

Tanner Andrews: It’s complicated; you would not understand

Tanner Andrews

Tanner Andrews

The toy companies invented and produced talking Barbie dolls, and also talking GI Joe dolls. When you pulled her string, Barbie would say things like “Math is hard” or “Let’s go shopping.” GI Joe would say, “Eat lead, Cobra” or “Vengeance is mine.”

It has been 25 years since the Barbie Liberation Front swapped GI Joe and Barbie voice boxes, returning the dolls to stores. Yet some of us still remember the prank. It was well-done and hilarious. Barbies announced that their enemies could “eat lead,” while GI Joes lamented that “math is hard.”

While the Barbies are long gone, the lesson remains. County Manager Jim Dinneen pulls County Council Chair Ed Kelley’s string, and Kelley announces that impact taxes are too complicated. But now, Kelley wishes the string was less obvious.

Mon
02
Jul

Letter to the Editor: Let’s welcome people fleeing oppression

Let’s welcome people fleeing oppression

Editor, The Beacon:

As a kid, I lived across the street from John Eickhoff. He and his family escaped from Germany and settled in Connecticut, where he eventually managed a wonderful grocery store, Gristedes.

When I was in high school, my classmates, Yolanda and Nelson, fled Cuba in the first wave of departures from the Castro regime. My college classmates included people from Latvia and Lithuania, escaping Soviet oppression.

Since then, I’ve traded with grocery stores and shops run by Vietnamese refugees who settled in Florida. I recently bought some bread from a woman who is from the Balkans. A person of Mexican descent fixed my refrigerator, and a Venezuelan engineer works in my office.

Mon
02
Jul

Russ White: Longtime conservative leaders begin leaving the GOP

Russ White

Russ White

The percentage of support for President Drumpf has remained rock-steady among Republicans since the inauguration. Statistically, he is more popular among his base than any previous Republican president, except a short period of overwhelming approval of George W. Bush after 9/11. Drumpf’s approval among Republicans approaches 90 percent.

On the surface, that’s quite impressive. But, those numbers are deceiving.

A Gallup poll prior to the 2016 election showed 42 percent of Americans self-identified as Republicans. A Gallup poll conducted recently shows that number is now 24 percent. That’s a 43-percent decline.

So, while the president’s approval among his hardcore base remains strong enough to cause cowering by Republican politicians in primaries, his actions are destroying the GOP (still the Government of Putin).

Mon
02
Jul

David Rauschenberger: The left heckles and protests Trump appointees

David Rauschenberger

David Rauschenberger

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders can’t eat at The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. Owner Stephanie Wilkinson decided her moral compass required her to act.

Some of Wilkinson’s employees are gay. They were offended. Huckabee Sanders left quietly.

A Mexican restaurant was the scene of another “assault” this past week. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled until her dinner party exited the MXDC Cocina Mexicana Restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The real bullies are, once again, the left. A few days later, the malcontents piled on a second time, protesting Nielsen at her home. I’d turn on the sprinklers, but I digress.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi had to deal with the same treatment as she exited a movie theater. The irony that the movie was Won’t You Be My Neighbor? about Mr. Rogers doesn’t escape me. Who would Mr. Rogers call the bully?

Mon
02
Jul

Tanner Andrews: Scooping up after the white elephant

Tanner Andrews

Tanner Andrews

The last time we checked in on the Ocean Center, things were not going well. How badly were they going? It was so bad in 2013, that the county was diverting half of the West Volusia tourist money just to pay the bonds.

That check-in was about five years ago. They had just hired a $100,000 consultant to tell them what the $350,000 consultant had said. The new consultant said, in essence, they needed to hire more consultants.

Unfortunately, the Ocean Center does not produce enough revenue to pay for the consultants. Of this year’s $12,469,294 budget, a little less than 15 percent actually comes from rents for the Ocean Center. The other 85 percent comes from somewhere else, and with government there is but one other source.

Mon
02
Jul

Al Everson: Our Declaration of Independence — needed now

Al Everson

The Fourth of July is a time when many Americans head for the beach, a favorite lake, a river or a park for good times with family or friends. Others catch up on household chores and perhaps take time for a barbecue or cookout, with a nightcap of fireworks in a public display or in their backyards.

Often lost in the celebration is the reason for the holiday. Now is a good time to read the Declaration of Independence, especially if you have not read it lately or pondered its principles. As an American, you owe it to yourself to know what this charter of freedom contains. Our nation’s birth certificate is timeless. It is just as relevant for us today as it was for our forebears 242 years ago.

Consider a key passage:

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