Also, readers says local government officials do not take into account what citizens want.
Biketoberfest permits issued in Ormond Beach
It looks like the City of Ormond Government caved in and will jeopardize the safety of it’s residents by permitting Biketoberfest to invade our city. The Wild West normally happens in Daytona, but even they have come to their senses. Shame on Ormond City leaders.
I was a member of the charter Deltona City Government when it incorporated in 1995, so I have first-hand knowledge of inner workings of local government. Many times, governments do not see the impacts their decisions (good or bad) will have on its citizens. With this pandemic still not under control, or vaccine not yet available, large gathering such as Biketoberfest should not be permitted. My two-cents.
Ormond Beach governs without consent of the governed
When the Ormond Beach City Commission weakened our wetland rules in 2009 and cut down 2,061 trees on West Granada Boulevard in 2018, they ignored a 50-year citizen mandate to preserve our city’s environment and historic character.
Since 2017, citizens have been ignored by their elected officials when they protested the trampling of their adjacent property rights at seven separate locations where the city granted rezonings for commercial interests: four locations on West Granada, 1 on North Halifax, one on north U.S. 1, and one on New Britain Avenue.
Commissioners annexed Plantation Oaks in 2019 and agreed to sell water and sewer services to Avalon Park by 2006 agreement without a public referendum or public input.
The city spent $1.3 million on a concrete floating boat dock, bought a church for $780,000, and made plans to relocate the police station with little or no reason given. We would have helped them with these expensive decisions, but nobody asked.
Regarding each of the above items, maybe the city commission knew that, had they asked, Ormond Beach citizens would likely have said "no."
Under our system, governments are supposed to ask, and take major actions only with the consent of the governed, and not just for the benefit of the few.
'People will come anyway'
Our incumbent mayor of Ormond Beach has abdicated his moral responsibility for leadership in this COVID-19 pandemic. While neighboring Daytona Beach has curtailed permits and is “pulling the plug” on Biketoberfest, our mayor tells the News-Journal: “People will come anyway."
Instead of prioritizing our fellow citizens' and neighbors' health and safety, our incumbent Mayor and his fellow commissioners are entertaining issuing permits allowing crowds of out-of-town folks to party here.
In the midst of a pandemic is not the time to party. Has our mayor learned nothing from the bike rally experience in Sturgis, South Dakota that generated 260,000 new COVID-19 cases? Has our incumbent mayor and commission gone beyond turning a deaf ear to citizens raising concerns about local issues before the dais? Is our mayor now ignoring scientists and experts like Dr. Fauci who is saying “hunker down” through the fall and winter?
On July 9, the Observer published my letter imploring the city of Ormond Beach to require wearing face masks in public places. My plea fell on deaf ears, and there was no assertive leadership. Instead, the mayor issued a “proclamation” full of “whereas” statements but saying nothing.
Daytona Beach requires face masks in public places as do a number of surrounding cities — but not Ormond Beach. Daytona Beach is cancelling and not issuing Biketoberfest permits — but not Ormond Beach. Daytona Beach would have welcomed negotiating an interlocal agreement with Ormond Beach regarding Biketoberfest activities, but our incumbent mayor apparently doesn't recognize that the COVID-19 virus doesn't respect city limits.
So, our current mayor is willing to gamble with the health and lives of our Ormond Beach residents for parties for out-of-town folks.
The COVID-19 virus won't magically go away in November. I fully expect, as your next mayor, to have to make hard decisions. But, let me assure you that having a party will not supersede your need for safety. I will not be reckless, irresponsible or neglectful of our citizens' public health.
Editor's note: Rob Bridger is running for mayor in the city of Ormond Beach.
Thank you Persis
I live in Zone 4; been in Ormond Beach for almost ten years. I'm writing this letter to compliment City Commissioner Susan Persis for voting no on permits here in Ormond Beach for Biketoberfest. She got it exactly correct when she cited that our law enforcement personnel have no authority to enforce something as simple as wearing masks, never mind complying with physical distancing.
I am a biker. I ride my motorcycles around Ormond Beach every day. I wear a mask, even when I'm riding, to try to set an example and show respect for others. This same courtesy is not likely to be standard operating procedure when our city hosts Biketoberfest.
Thank you Commissioner Persis for being conscientious and not voting with Mayor Partington and City Commisioners Kent, Littleton and Selby on hosting Biketoberfest.
While I appreciate their support for local businesses, I appreciate far more your sensibility in just saying no to the health risks holding Biketoberfest presents to the community-at-large.