Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood calls council members 'scumbags'

Chitwood lashes out after council votes to challenge Amendment 10

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood lashed out at the Volusia County Council Tuesday, calling its members the "scumbags of the week" after they voted to legally challenge Amendment 10.

Chitwood, who held a news conference Wednesday to further address the situation, launched the attack on Facebook, also calling for Chairman Ed Kelley, who he called a "useless puppet," to step down.

The County Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to challenge the amendment, which was passed by voters in the November election. The amendment would give Chitwood more power over his budget and make the county's tax collector job an elected position.

"Volusia County is a sunny place for shady people. (Tuesday), six members of the Volusia County Council voted to spend YOUR tax dollars fighting a constitutional amendment that the voters approved, that the Florida Supreme Court upheld and that every other county in this state has accepted without a fight," Chitwood wrote. "So this week, Dan Eckert, County Chair Ed Kelley and Council members Deb Denys, Pat Patterson, Joyce Cusack, Billie Wheeler and Fred Lowry are our SCUMBAGS OF THE WEEK in Volusia County."

Councilwoman Heather Post was the lone dissenter on the vote to file a lawsuit, which took place at the end of a seven-hour meeting without being publicly posted beforehand.

Critics of Amendment 10 said the measure will cost millions in tax dollars to implement.

"Whether you voted for or against Amendment 10, you should be appalled at this blatant disregard of our election process," Chitwood said.

Even with the County Council's lawsuit, Chitwood said he'd "bet his badge" that the amendment still gets implemented, partially because he and members of the Florida Sheriffs Association plan to fight the lawsuit tooth and nail. He said that fight could take years, but he expects to be successful in the end.

He said the lawsuit will come at a huge expense to taxpayers, but Chitwood couldn't estimate that cost because he said he has no access to even see the county budget, including that of his own department.

Taking control of his budget, hiring, firing, transferring, promoting and giving raises will be Chitwood's main priorities once the amendment is enacted. He'd also make the county budget publicly accessible so residents know where their tax dollars are going.

Amendment 10 will make county processes more transparent and Chitwood said the fact that the County Council members are fighting against it proves that they have something to hide.

“Why are you fighting so hard to preserve this? The reason is they don’t want the taxpayers in Volusia County to know where the money goes,” Chitwood said.

Kelley said the County Council is planning as if Amendment 10 is going to be enacted, but is also challenging whether the county's charter will be affected.

"That's what the attorney wants, is clarity on whether or not it should go forward and affect us because our charter was set by the legislature," Kelley said.

He also said it was "rather childish and inappropriate" for Chitwood to refer to council members as "scumbags."

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