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Pitching Two Proposals Back to Elections Supervisor, Palm Coast May Call on State to Resolve Conflict

| April 1, 2014

The agreements are again in Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks's court. (c FlaglerLive)

The agreements are again in Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks’s court. (c FlaglerLive)

In an effort to end a conflict that’s prevented Palm Coast and the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections to agree to terms for the supervisor’s running of the 2014 municipal elections, the city council Tuesday evening voted unanimously to convey two proposed agreements to the supervisor, leaving it to her to choose one. Failing that, the city is asking the Secretary of State to intervene (again) and mediate a solution.

“We do not want to conduct an election, we want the SOE to conduct an election,” council member Bill McGuire said, calling himself ready to do what’s necessary to get to that point and end what he termed the “trauma” the city and the supervisor’s office have been enduring. “I hope and I pray that we can bring this to a successful conclusion.”

Weeks, however, has so far shown no inclination to go along with Palm Coast’s approach.

The so-called interlocal agreements outline the responsibilities of the supervisor and the city in carrying out the 2014 primary and general election, in which two council seats are up. The city election will be carried ut in conjunction with county, state and federal elections for the first time, pursuant to a 2011 referendum when some 60 percent of voters agreed to change election cycles from odd to even years. The change saves the city money and will presumably improve turn-out, which has been a problem in city elections.

Weeks has objected top the way the city formalized the switch. She claims that the 2014 elections could lead to a lawsuit from a voter challenging the legality of the process. The county and city attorney, the state Division of Elections’ attorney, the Secretary of State himself and the attorney for the state elections supervisors’ association have all told Weeks that the city was on firm ground, and that she had no liability in case of a lawsuit. None of the opinions have satisfied Weeks.

She sent a proposed agreement to the city that was fraught with demands and conditions, among them the right to herself choose city facilities should the availability of precincts fall through, and to potentially upend a previous agreement with the city on how and when she may use what portions of the Palm Coast Community Center for early voting and election days.

The city council Tuesday evening said it would not agree to such demands, but that it would take Weeks’s proposal and make its own few changes to it. The word “agreement,” Mayor Jon Netts said, implies a negotiated agreement, not a one-sided demand. In case a precinct were to fall through, the city agrees to work cooperatively with Weeks to find an alternative. But it does not agree to the supervisor making arbitrary demands “because that was inconsistent with what this council has previously agreed to,” Palm Coast City Attorney Bill Reischmann said. That’s Palm Coast’s negotiated offer.

In an effort to further accommodate the supervisor, the city also approved a proposed agreement very similar to the one Weeks had in place with Flagler Beach when it ran its elections. The proposal red-lines a few items specific to Flagler Beach, substituting details specific to Palm Coast. But it is free of demands, and it is “consistent with directions from the secretary of state,” Reischmann said.

Two additional changes were proposed: to ensure that should a referendum qualify for the 2014 election (one such proposed referendum is in the works: to end red-light cameras) the agreements accommodate the inclusion. And should a sitting council member die, the agreements accommodate the possibility of a third seat being open at election time.

Both agreements will be handed to Weeks by Wednesday, a deadline she arbitrarily set for the city to have an agreement in place. Council members wondered about the April 2 deadline. It’s not in state law. “I cannot tell you why that date was chosen by the supervisor,” Reischmann said.

Should she reject both agreements, the city will call on the secretary of state to propose an agreement, though in essence that’s what the secretary did last week in a letter to Weeks, urging her to go along with the proposal similar to the one Palm Coast adopted from Flagler Beach.

Just five people addressed the council on the matter—three asking for clarification about the eventual election process, and two in support of Weeks.

Council member Jason DeLorenzo said he hoped the supervisor will negotiate “in good faith” rather than stick to certain demands. “I hope we can solve this now, finally, and have a good election, because that was the point, is to improve voter turnout by putting it on the ballot with the county.”

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15 Responses for “Pitching Two Proposals Back to Elections Supervisor, Palm Coast May Call on State to Resolve Conflict”

  1. Brad says:

    I think it’s important that we do look at a few other items that Ms .Weeks doesn’t seem to “get” when it comes to how the world actually works, what her actual role and responsibility is to voters, and what is appropriate conduct.

    1. The letter from the Florida Secretary of State was written and addressed TO Kimberle Weeks. It was NOT written to the City of Palm Coast. The advisement was directed to Kimberle Weeks and NOT the City of Palm Coast. The attempt to spin that on her part is pretty poor since we ALL understand the letter pretty clearly.

    2. Palm Coast is a part of Flagler County. In fact, it is a large part of Flagler County. It consists of roughly 82% of the County population and contributes the large majority of the tax dollars that comprise the County General Fund which Ms. Weeks points out in her letter as to what funds her Office. Palm Coast homeowners pay a millage rate of 7.9906 to the County General Fund and a far less 4.2705 millage rate to the City of Palm Coast. Those are our tax dollars in the County fund AND in the City. In fact, without the City of Palm Coast the budget for that Office and Ms. Week’s own salary would be significantly lower. Her conduct and disrespectful selfish actions are not only wasting our tax dollars we provide to the County but also will most likely cost us more of our tax dollars we provide to the City.

    3. An Elections Supervisor is NOT elected to lord over any municipality within a community, and they are certainly NOT within their rights to hold elections hostage because of personal neurosis or vendettas. We elect them to serve us and uphold our rights to vote and have easy access to fair elections.

    4. Election signs placed out as direction do NOT improve voter turnout. Voting is not an “impulse buy” decision. Voters do not suddenly decide to vote because they saw a sign on the day of an election. Voters consciously make the decision in advance of the election day event. So it is extremely odd that the one who claims to “know the voters” so well does not see that those signs have had no influence whatsoever towards voter turnout whether present or not. In fact, voter turnout has significantly declined since she has taken office 5 years ago. It’s pretty obvious why as well since our SOE feels that ads on restaurant placemats and directional signs placed on election day are the solution to improving voter turnout. A plan I would expect from a 3rd grader but not the plan we should expect from the one we are paying $95,000+ of our tax dollars to.

    5. This is the most we have ever heard from Kimberle Weeks, and the ONLY other time we hear anything from her or her office is when she is attacking someone or some body of local government in the press. Perhaps IF we had heard more from her and her office during the last Palm Coast election it would not have been so extremely confusing and resulting in around 10% turnout.

    6. “Agreement” is defined as “a NEGOTIATED and typically legally binding arrangement BETWEEN parties as to a course of action.” It is NOT defined as something simply issued to another party for them to abide by. That is called a mandate. And the document she is demanding the City sign is NOT titled “Interlocal Mandate”, it is titled “Interlocal Agreement”. The appropriate and respectable behavior for the Elections Supervisor is to work WITH the City rather than make demands she has no authority to issue (and does not have such authority for good reason). Most professionals know that simply because someone opens an email message it does NOT imply they agree with the message. An “Read” response simply acknowledges that one has “opened” the email similar to one opening a letter sent to them. It, again, does NOT imply they agree with the contents.

    7. Ms. Weeks is NOT above anyone else. She is well aware that if an item is not on a Council agenda for a public meeting that the agenda doesn’t change simply because she chose to show up. IF she wishes to be heard, the adult thing to do is to stand up and address the Council at the appropriate time rather than scoff that they didn’t stumble over themselves to call on her because she was in the audience. The adult professional and respectful public servant would have the common courtesy to at least attend the meeting to discuss the matter. They would not decline to attend simply because the other party wished to have a discussion.

    The bottom line is that all of this is wasteful mess created by Kimberle Weeks who is obviously delusional as to who she actually is in the grand scheme of our community and what she was actually elected to do. I applaud the City Council and Mayor Netts for standing up for us as residents and voters to protect our rights and town against an out-of-control SOE and self-serving special interests.

    I think personally that there should be a lawsuit after this election. NOT about any charter or legitimacy of the election, but rather a class-action suit against the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections for the duress and extra costs she has caused the residents and voters of the City of Palm Coast. Enough is enough.

    • 166 says:

      Brad
      The proof is in the signs—Weeks was elected and reelected and had signs

      The last Palm Coast election voter turnout may have been low because the city reduced open voting locations from like 25 to 6

      The letter from the Secretary of State was addressed to Weeks rather than the City because the Secretary of State has no authority over the City.

      City taxes pay for County, State and Federal Elections and the operations of the SOE office, and when a city has a stand alone elections the current SOE doesn’t bill the city for regular staff time, but the former SOE did, and they pay for their own election costs. The SOE isn’t required to conduct municipal elections from what I have been reading on here, so it would be best for a city to work with the SOE.

      The city has had months to work out details with the SOE and seems to have been resistant and in denial at every turn. Communication is a two way street. Based on what I have been reading, the SOE has stated it took 3 months for the city to even tll her they wanted her assistance with their election, and that didnt come until like a month ago, and the SOE initally contacted the city in like September of last year.

      If the city doesn’t have plan “B” they should have come with their hat in thier hand instead of turning to the Secretary of State–that move would have pissed me off too. This woman was elected by the people, wants to do what is legal and right, and was willing to do the city election, and it was up to the City to choose to handle it how they choose Apparently, they are prepared to handle it regardless of the outcome.

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      Brad West: sour grapes, anyone? Did you not run the campaign for Kimberle Weeks’ opponent and have your butt handed to you in the election? If your guy had won, it would be you defending his behaviors now. Your personal attacks, bordering on slander, all based on your assumptions about Weeks’ mind, seemingly motivated by a deep resentment for the victor over your guy, simply fan the flames of some passionate misunderstanding of Weeks’ actual responsibilities and obligations. I refer you to Dennis McDonald’s response below, which includes Gary J Holland’s siting of Florida law about the SOE’s duties. Kimberle Weeks is not required to run municipal elections by Florida statute. The city may CONTRACT with her to do so, but if the city chooses not to, then the city must run its own election. With a city manager and attorney both drawing well into 6-figure salaries, I feel safe assuming that they both knew this long ago, but you didn’t. That’s OK, you don’t get paid to know, and you have the First Amendment Right to make loud blathering fabrications. But they get paid to know things like this to keep the city out of trouble, just like they did on Bulldog Drive. And the amazing “vertical WalMart.”

  2. Joe says:

    Jason DeLorenzo? Were you and the city negotiating in good faith? I think not! You all need to grow up and represent the people, I hope you ALL get voted out of office!

  3. Flatsflyer says:

    I guess that we really don’t need a SOE, the City has 90% of the population and see doesn’t want to do the job she was elected to do. So get rid of her and her position and let the City do it’s own thing.

  4. Really? says:

    Lets get over it. Focus on making the right to vote an easy and pleasant experience. Im tired of local and county government beating their chests like baboons. For once stop wasting taxpayers money and think of the good of Palm Coast.. Legal fees add up very quickly.

  5. Dennis McDonald says:

    I listened to Mayor Netts run through a list of items concerning the municipal election that the city is attempting to ” tag ” onto our County, State, and Federal Election. I am requesting that the SOE respond to each of the Mayor’s artfully delivered responses and check the veracity of each. I believe his one sided soap box venue needs a public response by submitting a rebuttal from our elected SOE to the news media.

    The Mayor believes he is an expert on all subjects and from my past experience I have found his facts woefully inadequate. His statement tonight that City Council Members may not meet with you to discuss the inter local agreement is pure fabrication and the public must be informed.

    We should be aware that a PC resident called Secretary Detzner’s office first thing on Monday and had a call back in one hour from Secretary Detzner. He said he has no authority over any of the 67 SOE’s because they are constitutional officers and if they disagree with him he must take them to court. It all sounds like Gary Holland’s email of 10/23/13 more than five months ago where nothing has changed including the City failing to insure that the Voters of Palm Coast have a fair and equitable Vote.

    This is truly amazing that we the Citizens will spend $757,000 this year for a City manager and attorney that have failed to insure this election.

    I am convinced that the reason the City will not seek the AG opinion is that the 2011 referendum in question being held at a Primary on a Primary ballot is contrary to Florida Election Law. If decided it was done wrong then Mayor Netts would lose his ” extra ” year and he would be termed out in November of 2015. DeLorenzo and McGuire would have terms that expire that year also.
    I include the email so we can decide for ourselves rather than wasting money on over priced legal Wonks !

    From: Holland, Gary J
    Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 6:52 PM
    To: Weeks, Kimberle
    Cc: Matthews, Maria I
    Subject: RE: City of Palm Coast

    Kimberle:

    The only requirement of which I am aware that the Election Code places upon you for municipal elections is that found in s. 101.002(2), Fla. Stat., which requires you to furnish the voter records for conducting a municipal election to the municipal election official. The intent underlying the Election Code is that municipalities are responsible for their own elections absent an agreement with the county.

    Please see this link for information about requesting Attorney General opinions.

    The Secretary of State has no jurisdiction over municipal governments; so, I doubt if he would take any further action regarding the filing of the charter amendment absent a court order. As a filing officer for charter amendments, he serves merely as a ministerial officer. Also, based upon the guidance found at the above link, I doubt if the Attorney General will render any opinion that decisively rules about the propriety of the city’s action unless it was asked by the city’s governing body. The AG opinion is advisory only and not binding on anyone – that’s one of the reasons I mentioned that it would take a legal challenge to decide the issue. If people are concerned about this matter, the proper approach is to tell them to seek relief from a court assuming they get no satisfaction from the city itself.

    Regards,
    Gary J. Holland

    I listened to Mayor Netts run through a list of responses to public comment concerning the municipal election that the city is attempting to ” tag ” onto our County, State, and Federal Election. I am requesting that you respond to each of the Mayor’s artfully delivered responses and check the veracity of each. I believe his one sided soap box venue needs a public response by submitting a rebuttal from our elected SOE to the news media.

    The Mayor believes he is an expert on all subjects and from my past experience I have found his facts woefully inadequate. His statement tonight that City Council Members may not meet with you to discuss the inter local agreement is pure fabrication and the public must be informed.

    We should be aware that a PC resident called Secretary Detzner’s office first thing on Monday and had a call back in one hour from Secretary Detzner. He said he has no authority over any of the 67 SOE’s because they are constitutional officers and if they disagree with him he must take them to court. It all sounds like Gary Holland’s email of 10/23/13 more than five months ago where nothing has changed including the City failing to insure that the Voters of Palm Coast have a fair and equitable Vote.

    This is truly amazing that we the Citizens will spend $757,000 this year for a City manager and attorney that have failed to insure this election.

    I am convinced that the reason the City will not seek the AG opinion is that the 2011 referendum in question being held at a Primary on a Primary ballot is contrary to Florida Election Law. If decided it was done wrong then Mayor Netts would lose his ” extra ” year and he would be termed out in November of 2015. DeLorenzo and McGuire would have terms that expire that year also. Included is the email from the DOE we need to decide for ourselves at the ballot box and stop wasting time with overpriced legal Wonks !

    From: Holland, Gary J
    Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 6:52 PM
    To: Weeks, Kimberle
    Cc: Matthews, Maria I
    Subject: RE: City of Palm Coast

    Kimberle:

    The only requirement of which I am aware that the Election Code places upon you for municipal elections is that found in s. 101.002(2), Fla. Stat., which requires you to furnish the voter records for conducting a municipal election to the municipal election official. The intent underlying the Election Code is that municipalities are responsible for their own elections absent an agreement with the county.

    Please see this link for information about requesting Attorney General opinions.

    The Secretary of State has no jurisdiction over municipal governments; so, I doubt if he would take any further action regarding the filing of the charter amendment absent a court order. As a filing officer for charter amendments, he serves merely as a ministerial officer. Also, based upon the guidance found at the above link, I doubt if the Attorney General will render any opinion that decisively rules about the propriety of the city’s action unless it was asked by the city’s governing body. The AG opinion is advisory only and not binding on anyone – that’s one of the reasons I mentioned that it would take a legal challenge to decide the issue. If people are concerned about this matter, the proper approach is to tell them to seek relief from a court assuming they get no satisfaction from the city itself.

    Regards,
    Gary J. Holland

  6. confidential says:

    The city council needs to stop further delay by generating controversy for a well presented 10 page interlocal agreement that the SOE presented protecting the rights of all city of Palm Coast voters.
    The SOE does no leave any gates open on her presented interlocal that would allow for voter inconvenienced on elections day. So sing up the SOE agreement as presented and stop playing the public against the SOE. I see this incoming city elections being challenged …and then we will remember our good SOE honest stand to preserve the voters rights and funds.

  7. 166 says:

    The supervisor of elections is responsible for the elections and the city of Palm Coast should cooperate with her. She knows what’s needed, the ciity doesn’t have a clue- shame on them. The city has shown gross disrespect to the supervisor to change her agreement and another for another for another city for an entirely different election and give them to her. If the city can’t accept what she has to offer, do it yourself. Just like the city hall that was on the ballot we didn’t want, you shoved it down our throat, you finally came across someone that won’t stand for your bullshit. Play by the rules, or she may not let you in the game. Running to the Secretary of State was used to threaten the Supervisor, and she showed you too that where that will get you. If you didn’t learn anything by the first letter, why did you threaten her with the Secretary of State again? He supports the Supervisors around the state, he is there to help the Supervisors. His letter of encouragement to Kimberle was sent to her and not to the City because he has no jurisdiction over the City, and he hoped Kimberle and the City would work the issues out. The City has no one to blame but themselves for this screwup.

  8. KMedley says:

    As provided by an ever present voice, Mr. Holland’s e-mail of 10/23/13 included the following:

    “Also, based upon the guidance found at the above link, I doubt if the Attorney General will render any opinion that decisively rules about the propriety of the city’s action unless it was asked by the city’s governing body. The AG opinion is advisory only and not binding on anyone – that’s one of the reasons I mentioned that it would take a legal challenge to decide the issue. If people are concerned about this matter, the proper approach is to tell them to seek relief from a court assuming they get no satisfaction from the city itself.”

    Please note the Attorney General’s Opinion is advisory ONLY and IS NOT BINDING. Even if the City were to request such an opinion, it still would not satisfy Weeks or the core group who continues to Recall, Recite, and Regurgitate Weeks’ misinformation. It’s like an infant being spoon fed pablum; taken in, spit out, and a mess created.

    The Attorney General has issued previous opinions on the very issues raised by the Supervisor. Rather than welcome the additional information, the Supervisor chose to chastise the City for providing “40 year old” opinions. The last time I checked, Roe v. Wade was more than 40 years old and still relied upon by courts. The Attorney General’s own website provides circumstances whereby an opinion WILL NOT be issued which include:

    questions requiring factual determinations
    questions involving an interpretation only of local codes, charters, ordinances or regulations

    As she has consistently done, Supervisor Weeks failed to acknowledge these words and continued, for months, 210 days and counting, to press the City on this point. If the City were to have complied with her “request”, again, reading the words of the Attorney General, rendering such an opinion may have intruded “upon the constitutional prerogative of the judicial branch”.

    Words, also played a role in the reported amount of time it took the City to finally say “yes” to Supervisor Weeks. Because the City provided Ms. Weeks with the number of open seats to appear on the ballot, requested copies of standard interlocal agreements, requested a meeting to specifically discuss the 2014 municipal election, indicated a willingness to work with her office, and finally indicated the City would like to have its two seats listed on the county ballot for the county election which she is conducting, and did not simply say “YES”, the City is accused of dancing around the issue; yet the real dance began on September 4, 2013, the day after the City Council postponed a decision about Weeks’ demand for exclusive use of the Community Center.

    I would like to close using the words of Gary Holland:

    “If people are concerned about this matter, the proper approach is to tell them to seek relief from a court assuming they get no satisfaction from the city itself.”

    To the group obviously behind this endeavor to have the results of the 2011 Palm Coast elections nullified, if you are so convinced the City has failed and conducted the 2011 elections improperly, an election process contracted with and conducted by SOE Weeks, one she touted as a stunning achievement by a Florida Supervisor of Elections for using 6 central voting locations, then by all means, file your complaint with the Clerk of Court and request the declaratory judgment you and SOE Weeks insist will put this to rest. After all, weren’t you equally convinced a former candidate for sheriff should have been prevented from being on the ballot?

  9. Root Cause says:

    The root cause of this dilemma is the Red Light Cameras. Face it; nobody in Flagler County likes Palm Coast because of the Red Light Cameras!

  10. m&m says:

    When the state says do it, what part of that doesn’t she understand??? Who is her boss??

  11. madams says:

    I really wish I knew what is going on. Can anyone explain it to me? A brief explanation as to the facts?

  12. Mike says:

    Me. Weeks has become a political disgrace, step down or be removed, either is a better option then what we currently have with you at the helm. You are the SOE, not the queen nor a dictator, please just do your job or step aside so you no longer waste my tax dollars

  13. confidential says:

    City council needs to stop further delay by generating controversy for a well presented 10 page interlocal agreement that the SOE presented protecting the rights of all city of Palm Coast voters.
    The SOE does no leave any gates open on her presented interlocal that would allow for voter inconvenienced on elections day. So sing up the SOE agreement as presented and stop playing the public against the SOE. I see this incoming city elections being challenged …and then we will remember our good SOE honest stand to preserve the voters rights and funds.

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