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Flagler County Democrats, at Low Ebb, Face Eviction From Their Palm Coast Office

| February 24, 2012

The shutters aren't a metaphor at the Flagler County Democrats' office on Hargrove Grade. (© FlaglerLive)

Past due on its rent since late last year, the Flagler County Democratic Party is getting evicted from the office it’s rented on Hargrove Grade in Palm Coast since September 2007.

Dan Parham, chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee, and Doug Courtney, as co-signers on the lease, were personally served eviction papers filed in Flagler County Circuit Court by their landlord, Marketable Enterprises Inc. They’re personally liable for the charges.

Democratic Party members have been divided over the validity of keeping an office, Parham said, and the membership has been slow to contribute money for routine expenses. “There are people who didn’t like the idea that we were spending money on the office,” Parham said. “Because of that, there were not contributions coming in, and so because of that the finances are not where they should be.” The group has less than $100 in its till.

“It’s not the way you want to look, and I’d much prefer that we didn’t look this way,” Parham said. “We’re going to look like a rinky-dink organization, and it’s going to be harder to get people to work with us.”

Others in the party see the eviction as reflective of Parham’s lack of organizational and managerial skills. There’s been friction between the executive committee Parham chairs and the Flagler County Democratic Club that operates under the committee’s umbrella. So club members who see their organization as more vibrant than the committee have been less eager to come to Parham’s aid.

The timing of the eviction, during a major election year is not helping, though Democrats aren’t the only local political organization having its issues this winter. Tea party activists are agonizing over dwindling numbers. And two days after the Democrats got their eviction notice, one wing of Republicans sued another—the Republican Executive Committee and its chairman, Nancy Prizer—over internal disagreements about who belongs in the organization.

The Flagler County Democrats’ office at 1 Hargrove Grade is a one-room nook in the larger office building. Rent is $334 a month. The last time it was paid on time consistently goes back to last summer. Since then, it was paid on time only in September. July, August, October and November rent was late, incurring an extra $100 fee each time. On Jan. 13, the landlord sent Parham and the Democrats an $869 bill and a three-day deadline to make good on it to avoid eviction proceedings. The bill wasn’t paid, and eviction proceedings started.

Parham said he’d know more next week whether the Democrats will continue to have that office. He’d prefer to keep it. Others are opposed. Divisions within the party have resulted, Parham, said, in part from his attempt to keep a tight rein on rules and procedures because of new state laws that easily penalize political groups that don’t follow the rules.

“The game has changed somewhat and there is a real, real threat to try to catch us doing something wrong,” Parham said. “The state party has been very explicit to come up with guidelines that we basically impose on ourselves” to ensure that no lawsuits are filed by the opposition—the type of lawsuits that could create problems for the president campaigning for reelection in Florida. “It doesn’t have to be something that’s sustained. All they have to do is create some kind of stalling tactic, tie you up in court.”

Having an office gives the local party more visibility and a focal point for people looking to get involved, Parham said (even though the Hargrove Grade location is not itself visible or much of a focal point: there is no random traffic going into the industrial and commercial zone. Unless people have business there, they don’t drive by, nor are there the sort of shops or eateries that may attract random traffic. “I do not think not having an office is really going to hurt with what we’re trying to do as far as actually going out and doing things,” Parham said. “Where it will hurt is, it removes a place where people who are not involved and they’re looking to get involved–they’ll  have a more difficult time finding us.”

The office is designed to help the local Democrats achieve their primary goal: to get more Democrats elected. That’s not been going well. Parham was disheartened by Democrat Holsey Moorman’s defeat in the last Palm Coast City Council election, which Parham blamed on lack of interest among Democratic voters. But he’s been less successful at getting qualified candidates to run for many offices.

Most local elected offices are controlled by Republicans, who have majorities on every local government except the county commission. Few Democrats are contesting Republican seats (though Republicans are engaged in free-for-alls for those seats), which diminishes activists’ involvement and contributions. Democrats hold just one constitutional office—that of the Supervisor of Elections. Democrats have few hopes of holding on to that office. Even Parham concedes that Kimberle Weeks is in “very, very, very deep trouble” if she doesn’t get support from both parties. Given Weeks’ abrasive relations with the county commission in the past four years, that support is not there. Three Republicans are running for the position.

“I’m not a person who just likes to run people. If a person doesn’t have what it takes or appears to have what it tales, all you’re doing is shuffling paper as far as I’m concerned,” Parham said.

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11 Responses for “Flagler County Democrats, at Low Ebb, Face Eviction From Their Palm Coast Office”

  1. How embarrassing says:

    Maybe Obama will give them a bail out deal. Did they spend all their money at the recent $30,000 a plate fund raiser for Obama they could pay the rent.

    Dan Parham has had big troubles for a long time, as has Doug Courtney…it is no surprise this is happening.

    Kimberle Weeks didn’t receive much help from Parham’s organization in 2008 when she and other Democrats ran for office. Weeks ran a great campaign, and has done a fantastic job running the elections office the past 3 years-even without the support of the commissioners. I know of plenty Republicans who supported, and continue to support Weeks. It is sad the Democrats, Republicans and the Tea Party are all in turmoil.

    How many years is the lease for? Why didn’t Parham and Courtney terminate the lease before it came to this embarrassment?

  2. Imagine says:

    Weeks certainly didnt win election in 2008 with just republican support. It doent mean squat if she has the support of the commissioners or not. More than likely she didn’t have their support in 2008 because their staff member Carl Laundrie ran for the same office. Maybe this explains the tense relationship between the commissioners and Weeks-conflict of interest.

  3. SAW says:

    Hope springs eternal, maybe just maybe, America can still survive the liberal onslaught which threatens the very future of our our grandkids. As one very smart lady Margaret Thatcher once said, ” “Socialism only works till the other guys money runs out ” just look at Greece for example.

  4. palmcoaster says:

    @SAW Greece was taught by capitalist vulture Goldman Sachs how to cook their books and you think they did it for vocational purposes only..?
    I doubt Thatcher as a good example we sure do not need her for show and tell, as Britain today endures Thatcher’s broken society.
    “the truth is that we are suffering the impact of the massive increases in income inequality under Thatcher, which Blair and Brown have since failed to reverse. In the 1980s the gulf between the top and bottom 20% widened by a full 60% – much the most dramatic widening of income differences on record”

    • Begonia says:

      We’re so busy arguing about inequality and class warfare, nobody has noticed we have lost our liberties, our support.

      Now that sounds like a plan any politician would love to have executed.

      All class warfare will get you is more class warfare and dictators.

    • B. Claire says:

      Thank you Mr. Parham and staff for all your hard work and dedication. It is most appreciated.

      The Conservatives/Republicans are firmly holding their ground, living in the 1950’s…without a 21st century clue…and will make our job of re-electing President Obama all the easier. They can’t even muddle their way through to locate a viable candidate. All the while, the President continues to make steady gains in fixing the horrible mess THEY left behind.

      So long as there is social media, email, just give us a shout out re what the campaign to re-elect needs to get the job done.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    @H embarrassing. Have you read the latest soap opera regarding the local Republican Party members suing each other? Typical image for conservatives and liberals…think about it:
    Democrats loosing their offices over “being broke” for lack of money, failing their landlord, aka 99%.
    Republicans “flashing their plenty greens” paying for lawyers over who gets the fryer handle, aka 1%.
    We all here scratching our heads, trying to make sense of it all in an election year.

    • Linda says:

      Palmcoaster, I would advise you to read that lawsuit that FlaglerLive was so kind to put on this website. It involves descrimination by the Republican Party of Florida. I’m not sure how that equates with the 99% v the 1%. As Republicans we are supposed to be rich? Is that what you mean? Descrimination only applies to Democrats? Is that it?

      Sadly, neither one of these local parties is functioning as they should be but then neither are the voters so I guess it call comes out even in the end. Imagine that. Class warfare wins and we all lose.

      From reading the comments posted here, it is not difficult to see how that happened.

  6. palmcoaster says:

    @Linda You misunderstood my message about seeing from a humorous point of view the two local parties current woos. Being myself a registered Republican still, in all the years residing in this county never attended neither once any of the party meetings, after I met in business gatherings… Nancy Prizer! The lady controls the days in and days out operation with an Iron Fist with a strong back up and better don’t get on her wrong side! I don’t enjoy tyrannical environments. Discrimination is endured by all at any given time, not that should be that way.
    If we were to get statistics will find out that most Republicans fair economically better than most wether Independent, Democrat or Non Party Affiliation. If you don’t believe me drive around ocean front, river front or high end neighborhoods on election times and read their political favorite candidates signs.
    Sheldon, Trump, Koch brothers and most billionaires are Republicans.
    We do not create the class wars, they imposed them on us by:
    Tax breaks/benefits/no taxation or much lower taxation to the wealthy.
    Compensation/reduction and pension reduction, cuts to all public service workers. (middle class)\
    Firing workers and disbanding their labor unions.
    Doing away with labor laws.
    Cuts for education.
    Health Care prevention and treatment only for the wealthy.
    Many elected ones in Washington for the past 20 years to now, do not govern for most of us:;

    • Linda says:

      My apologies, Palmcoaster. But I see nothing humorous about it. We have been trying to mediate this for a long time. I see sad similarities in both groups. My heart goes out to these people.

      I don’t like being labeled as anything other than a citizen who has had enough, who will fight back. None of those things are acceptable to me.

      I vote, but if the others won’t we may as well do away with the system. What’s the point? Without representatives who will listen to us, voters who will vote them out if they don’t, our freedom is gone.

      We are witnessing it.

  7. Hank Rearden says:

    To Palmcoaster:
    “…most Republicans fair economically better than most wether Independent, Democrat or Non Party Affiliation. If you don’t believe me drive around ocean front, river front or high end neighborhoods on election times and read their political favorite candidates signs.
    Sheldon, Trump, Koch brothers and most billionaires are Republicans” ?

    Why did you forget to mention some of the prominent Democrat donors and supporters (Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, most of media and entertainment big wigs, etc.)? Al Gore is also doing alright for himself pretending to be raised as a poor little Tennessee farm boy (who was really raised in a DC Penthouse). Class warfare is destroying what was a great country.

    Who is John Galt?

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