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Raising Issues of Accuracy, Canvassing Board Rejects Elections Supervisor Weeks’s Minutes in Latest Strains

| October 22, 2014

Kimberle Weeks's idea of documenting meetings does not mesh with the rest of the Canvassing Board's idea. (© FlaglerLive)

Kimberle Weeks’s idea of documenting meetings does not mesh with the rest of the Canvassing Board’s idea. (© FlaglerLive)

An election is going on. Wednesday was the third day of early voting. Absentee ballots are coming in by the crate-load (3,265 absentee ballots by this morning, more later). They had to be opened and processed today under the supervision of the Flagler County Canvassing Board, a laborious and meticulous job, followed by re-processing certain questionable ballots.

But what took an hour’s time of the Canvassing Board—so much time that at one point its chair, County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens, had to excuse herself to go across the street for arraignments for an hour—was another labyrinthine discussion about Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks’s minutes.


Unlike most local government bodies’ minutes, Weeks’s version are more like epics of editorial judgments and tendentious spin running to reams of single-spaced typed pages for each meeting. A majority of the Canvassing Board members—the judge and County Commission Chairman—have already put Weeks on notice to write more government-appropriate minutes. They did so by vote on Sept. 12. Weeks has ignored them.

Today, five days after the board rejected Weeks’s attempt to remove County Attorney All Hadeed from his responsibility as Canvassing Board attorney, the board rejected Weeks’s minutes. It was a striking vote of no-confidence in the accuracy and veracity of Weeks’s version of events that Moore-Stens made even more striking by her decision to include a written statement–essentially, a disclaimer–on each set of minutes stressing that they are not the official minutes of the board, but Weeks’s own.

“I am not going to endorse or say those minutes are accurate or correct,” the judge said, “because I don’t know if they are, because I’m not going to sit and listen to three and a half hours of a recording to determine of those minutes are accurate. We had a vote that they were only going to be action taken. Those minutes are not what we as a board voted on. And so those minutes are rejected by myself as the chair.”

It was the first time that the judge pulled rank on Weeks, who so far this election season has portrayed herself as the board’s leader. But Moore-Stens was clearly not inclined to parry today so much as to let the board majority rule and move on. It didn’t quite work out that efficiently. But she also made clear that Hadeed remains very much the board’s attorney, and it was to him that she deferred to outline issues with minutes.

“I have basically three general comments. One, the timing of the distribution of it, two the content of it, and then I have several corrections,” Hadeed said. “As to the distribution of it, I’ve raised this before, I think it’d be very helpful if these be emailed out in advance of the canvassing board meeting so there’s some opportunity to review them. One primary reason is that there are a number of spelling errors and other kinds of errors even if they were to be adopted wholesale, without any changes or corrections. That is the common practice of collegial bodies that have minutes, that the members receive them in advance. That’s my first comment. I think that would result in a lot of correction of grammar and spelling. Plus give people time to read it so you’re not having to jam through it in the few minutes between ballot canvassing. Second, as to content, I think the content of these minutes go beyond what the canvassing board voted, because there is an attempt to partially reproduce conversation through dialogue, and it is not strictly limited to actions.”


A vote of no-confidence in the Supervisor of Elections’ minutes’ accuracy and veracity, in the middle of an election.


Hadeed pointed out as an example of omissions that when the board last week discussed Commissioner Charlie Ericksen’s contribution to Commissioner Frank Meeker’s campaign, the discussion included reference to the state Division of Elections clearing such contributions as not illegal—a detail Weeks did not include in the minutes. He pointed another omission as well.

“In reviewing them I had noted that they were not in accordance with the vote that we had on Sept. 12, for it to be just actions, so it was my intention to reject those,” Moore-Stens said. “As was voted on Sept. 12, Commissioner Hanns and myself voted that the minutes shall only be action taken, who voted which way, and that there was the recording” that could be made available for a fuller accounting.

Weeks disagreed. “I agree they don’t need to be verbatim, but I believe they need to be transparent and as much information as possible as to what transpired needs to be included in the minutes for the public to review.” She then went on to re-interpret Canvassing Board history dating back to when then-Judge Kim Hammond was a member—and completely mischaracterizing the sunshine law by stating that it “doesn’t matter whether they are current Canvassing Board members or prior Canvassing Board members. They were Canvassing Board members and you shouldn’t have been being a conduit between the Canvassing Board members.”

Weeks was wrong and incorrectly accused Hadeed of being a “conduit,” a serious violation of Sunshine—but one that does not apply between former members of the Canvassing Board, or even a current member and a former member of the board any more than it applies between current and former members of any local government body. It is that sort of distinction that Weeks refuses to make, even after being corrected. Yet she nevertheless mangles the falsely incriminating information in her version of the minutes, while her partisans echo similarly false information to cast aspersions on the Canvassing Board attorney or other members of the board who are not in line with Weeks’s versions.

Weeks then went on to lecture Hadeed: “I don’t even know why you were sitting here critiquing how we do our minutes and raising issues about our minutes that if Judge Stens or Mr. Hanns or myself have an issue with the minutes and the accuracy of the minutes is what needs to be looked at, but that should be our call, not for you to grade our minutes and make your opinions of what you believe about the minutes.”

Again, she was wrong: Hadeed speaks up on matters of concern, whether regarding the record or the law, because as Canvassing Board attorney—a responsibility ratified by Moore-Stens and Hanns last week—the board, obviously with Weeks’s exception, expects him to speak up.

Either way, the judge was not swayed by the supervisor of elections as she cast doubt on the accuracy of Weeks’s minutes. Remarkably, Weeks rejected Moore-Stens’s point and lectured the judge on the law, saying “they could be rejected by you” but that minutes are not required to be approved, only taken. Weeks said she polled other supervisors around the state who told her that the minutes are merely taken, not approved. That may well be true, but supervisors’ operations in most counties tend to be humdrum and non-controversial, with minutes likely written as the overwhelming majority of government board minutes are: as the judge described them. That’s not been the case during Weeks’s reign. And while the law may be silent on minute minutiae, it is not silent on affirmative board votes, which decide how business is to be conducted.

In essence, Weeks was declaring a 2-1 vote of the Canvassing Board, and its chair’s reiteration of that decision, null and void in Weeks’s eyes.

“You can reflect that they are the supervisor’s minutes but they’re not the official minutes if they don’t comport with what we as a majority of the board have voted on,” the judge said. “So I can specifically write on there that I as chairman reject those minutes and find them to be not the official minutes and have that placed in there, or you can change the title from official to supervisor’s minutes, and we won’t even look at them moving forward. If you’re saying that we don’t need to approve them, then we don’t need to pass them around, and you can write that they’re your minutes, not the Canvassing Board’s minutes. And we’ll have the county prepare minutes in accordance with the vote from Sept. 12.”

Again deciding as a writ of one, Weeks countered: “County is not going to conduct the minutes, do the minutes or prepare the minutes,” she said, asserting that “nobody’s going to the minutes for this office.”

Again, Weeks was incorrectly conflating “this office,” as she referred to her constitutional office, with the Canvassing Board, which is a separate entity entirely, not one that falls under the authority of the supervisor’s office in any way, beyond the one-third vote the supervisor controls when she serves on it (when the supervisor is unable to serve, it is the County Commission chairman, not the supervisor, that names her replacement, again reflecting the board’s independence from the supervisor’s office.) Remarkably, she finished by saying she wasn’t going to let the minutes “be manipulated.”

The judge said she’d let Hadeed put on the record all the objections he had to the minutes, “and I’ll just write on the minutes each time that as chair I am not approving or endorsing what’s contained therein.”

Hadeed made one last stab at cooperation: “If you can just email me the minutes,” he said, “I’ll go through and I’ll correct any typos for you. I’m sure it would be—I’m assuming it would be welcome.” It was not. Moments later, the judge decisively ended the conversation on minutes, noting the irony of holding lengthy discussions on historical matters that shouldn’t be included in the minutes.

“We’re spending more time discussing the accuracy of previous minutes from years ago when we as a board have taken action that all this detail shall not be in there,” the judge said.

It didn’t work. Weeks pressed her case, lecturing Hanns, who’d been spared until then, finishing on a remarkably disingenuous flourish: “I just ask for the needed cooperation and the games to stop.”

Earlier today, the Palm Coast Observer reported that the county administration had requested that the State Division of Elections send an observer to Flagler for the election. “There are still unresolved issues, I know, with Palm Coast; I don’t think they’ve been mitigated,” County Administrator Craig Coffey told the Observer. “I think that outside observation might be prudent in this case.”

In a separate matter, Ericksen resigned as the commission’s alternate member as a result of the $50 contribution he made to Meeker, and was replaced by Commissioner Barbara Revels.

“To me, an impression of impropriety  is not something I want said about my actions or behavior,” Ericksen said. “Even if  there is a hint of impropriety, it’s wrong in my standards.”

In a brief interview, Hanns termed “ridiculous” the way Canvassing Board meetings have been stretched out over “distractions,” considering that the work of the election is proceeding apace. “It’d be such a pleasure to conduct Canvassing Board meetings and do the job that’s to attend to without these distractions,” Hanns said, going as far as describing his time on the board as his most difficult in three decades of public service. “I know it’s Halloween, but for God’s sake, every meeting it’s trick or treat.”

The treats have been rare.

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18 Responses for “Raising Issues of Accuracy, Canvassing Board Rejects Elections Supervisor Weeks’s Minutes in Latest Strains”

  1. Anonymous says:

    What does it take to get rid of Weeks? How much bigger does her head have to get before she can’t fit through the office doors? She has got to go.

  2. Kathy says:

    Our County, in many areas, just looks silly. Most of our officials seem silly.

  3. Carol Mikola says:

    Is it any wonder that the Flagler County Ronald Reagan “Republicans” are in her corner? Weeks is playing their game.

    If you are as sick and tired of this type of game playing as most residents, vote for Heidi Shipley, Bill Lewis and John Fisher. They are the real deal.

  4. Michael says:

    This woman needs to go back to working in the tag office handing out car registartions, seems she let the power of her office go to her head. At what point does someone in the state step in and susspend her pending an investigation? how long does is Ms. weeks allowed to go on making her own rules? remove her before the election she is a disgrace to the county

  5. Edman says:

    Weeks will soon be unemployed and I doubt she will ever find a $90+k job again. Too bad county residents have to put up with her nonsense until we can help her collect unemployment.

  6. confidential says:

    Good for you SOE Weeks great move by the state to send a canvassing board watcher and you welcoming this outcome. Was time as there is too much local government intended manipulation of our election process and pointing fingers to dedicated poll workers and SOE, when the real lack of integrity is shown by those government officials and their administrators. What did they expect not to show in the minutes also that FC Commissioner Ericksen sat at the canvassing board after contributing to his buddy commissioner Meeker campaign, creating concern to the voters in spite not deemed illegal by elections law? There was a long canvassing board discussion and the minutes should reflect it whether Judge Moore Stens, Hanns and Hadeed like it or not. The political pressure exercised by the FCBOCC is obvious within our local court system from Judge Perkins. It is not obvious the poisonous environment when one incumbent commissioner has the audacity to refer to our SOE constitutional official with a 5 letter (B….) word..?

  7. Lin says:

    If Weeks was concerned about the conversation between Hadeed & Commissioner Ericksen she could have brought the recording to the State but no she sent it to RRRs & media for political reasons

    Don’t understand the function of Canvassing board filled with our local politicians watching our elections

    Why isn’t the “former Commissioner” who was looking at ballots prosecuted?
    What is judge Stens function?

    • KMedley says:

      Lin

      The Florida Statutes provide for how the Canvassing Board members are selected, section 102.141, Florida Statutes. The members are to be the Supervisor of Elections, the County Judge and the Chair of the Board of County Commissioners. Think of it as a balance of the three branches of government, the judiciary, the legislative, and the executive.

      You are correct with your observation as to why Weeks chose to release the recordings to the local media and the RRR. IMO, had she been truly concerned a wrong by a former Canvassing Board member had been committed, the proper venue would have been the State; but, an investigation would not produce the immediate, political results she seeks. The alliance with the RRR serves both her personal and political goals, which is to, in my opinion, bring about actions of vengeance against anyone who dares to disagree with and/or question her.

      Judge Moore-Stens, by statutory provisions, is the Chair of the Canvassing Board, although one would never know it by witnessing how these meetings are conducted. This is not a criticism of either the judge or Commissioner Hanns. The confrontational and Machiavellian atmosphere created by Weeks, and that has existed since 2009, does not provide an environment conducive for collegiality. Judge Moore-Stens has finally started to assert her authority and for that I applaud her.

      Weeks’ position is designed to represent the executive branch of the government’s role with the elections process and she has adopted the “king, (or in this case, the queen) can do no wrong” approach. She presents herself, and seeks legal counsel willing to accept compensation for total agreement, as the absolute authority for the Canvassing Board and dismisses the vital role both the judiciary and legislative branches of government play with our elections process. She is currently represented by two attorneys and will attempt to submit the invoices to the County with the final charges for the election.

      As long as SOE Weeks continues to be re-elected, the headlines will increase; and, in my opinion the demands she seeks will permeate across the County. With the exceptions of Marineland, and possibly Bunnell, I cannot recall a single municipality that has not experienced her, shall we say, less than professional encounters. Marineland conducts their own elections. The relationship between her office and the RRR needs to be thoroughly examined as there are many unanswered questions and it appears the same confrontational atmosphere is expanding beyond the perimeters of the office.

    • Incognito says:

      F.S. 102.141: The county canvassing board shall be composed of the supervisor of elections; a county court judge, who shall act as chair; and the chair of the board of county commissioners.

  8. confidential says:

    Lin, maybe because there was a chance that the recorded tape would have been swept under the rug..?

    • Michael says:

      @ confidential, yes its all a conspierecy against Ms. Weeks, pull your head out of the dark and look at what an idiot she really is. For heavens sake she used to work in a window at the tag office handing out car registartions, what experience does she have to be the SOE? She has brought this on herself by her “I amd the queen of elections” attitude, honestly she is a disgrace (as are many in this county) to politics and what is wrong with todays political sysytem.

  9. Lin says:

    Confidential
    Can she document that it was swept under the rug?

  10. confidential says:

    This morning I get up so disgusted…but what is increasingly going on all around us for the past ten years and getting worst every day, starting with the latest, this foreign hacking of this local news serving our community. The attacks on our SOE and poll workers, the very appreciate local REP Chair Mr. Sullivan defending the integrity of our elections in the 10/17 canvassing board meeting versus the low punches inflicted to our elections process by the FCBCC Chair Hanns, Meeker, Ericksen and Administrator Coffey. The city limiting and manipulating the use of the peoples community center for the most important event of our country our ELECTIONS forcing us to share the reduced parking space with crowded council meetings, bridge games and/or motivational speakers, sports classes etc. as shown in the Community Center Schedule for incoming November 4 General Elections day. The city council rushing to approve the ground breaking of a “7.4 million to start with” city hall opposed by referendum, before potential new elected councilmen are sworn. But there is no city taxpayers monies to enforce and resolve the blight taking over our water front canals with collapsed seawalls and derelict yachts sinking on neglected vacation absentee owners homes that contaminate the very waters frequented by our manatees and other marine wildlife or to repair and expand our decaying city sewers to prevent rain water entering the system and inundating our city with sewage..
    The Feds allowing travelers from the Ebola affected countries to get visas and arrive among us without being quarantined first in the ports of departure, costing us the millions we don’t do not have. Blight taking over our water front canals with collapsed seawalls and derelict yachts sinking on neglected vacation absentee owners homes that contaminate the very waters frequented by our manatees and other marine wildlife.
    The memories of our beautiful Sheraton/Palm Coast Resort and the 300 jobs on it forever gone exchanged by a concrete wall of pretentious condos many in foreclosure lately, thanks to our past and present city failed government and FCCOC cheering then Centex deceitful renderings printed in the FCCOC handed shirts at the Flagler Auditorium Event held by them, city and Centex…The incoming waste of over a million dollars of hard earned tax payers $$ on an special elections to be held thanks to Senator Thrasher. No wonder gloomy times keep coming, unemployment high, our taxes keep raising and our services failing.

  11. Biker says:

    The SOE is incompetent in her elected duties. Her role is to supervise the elections. She has failed miserably at this. When you have poorly trained poll workers handing out the wrong ballots how do you expect the voting public to have faith in the election results? How do the residents know the results are accurate? Instead of fighting with local governments about non issues . How about just doing the job you are paid to do. Supervise!

  12. Lin says:

    KMedley
    Thanks for your explanation but obviously (to me anyway)
    The checks & balances aren’t working
    To have a canvassing board opening ballots of their co Comissioners who are running sometimes with their help campaigning is a conflict of interest.
    Weeks is just so politically motivated she has forgotten her fiduciary duty
    And not sure about the Judge

    The statutes are not working for Flagler county.

    I need coffee. Thanks, KMedley

  13. kmedley says:

    Lin

    There are teams of workers who assist with the canvass of the absentee ballots process. First, the envelopes are opened, in the presence of the Canvassing Board, by elections staff. Each team is given a precinct. The ballots and secrecy sleeves are removed from the envelope. The envelopes are retained and counted. The secrecy sleeves and ballots are separated such that it cannot be determined which ballot came from which envelope. The process is involved and quite honestly, no one, not even Canvassing Board members have time to look at who is voting for which races. During the first day, more than 6000 absentee ballots were processed.

    If in fact a canvassing board member is determined to be “an active participant in the campaign or candidacy of any candidate who has opposition in the election being canvassed”, s. 102.141(1); then he or she is unable to serve on the Canvassing Board. The Division of Elections had been made aware of Commissioner Ericksen’s contribution and they proffered the opinion the lone act of contributing to a candidate did not meet the test as outlined by the statute. Now, I understand how many would see this as a conflict of interest; however, it was for two tickets; and, even sitting Commissioners are not denied their First Amendment rights. Commissioner Ericksen put the interest of the elections first and stepped aside so that there would not be any appearance of impropriety to detract from the duties of the Canvassing Board.

    I do thank you for taking the time to consider my points; and, yes, coffee sounds wonderful.

  14. Lin says:

    kmedley
    It is not my intention to single out a commissioner on the canvass board for performing a duty he had been given legally– but I do think the process is flawed. That anyone is opening or handling or looking at ballots for a Co-Comissioner that they may be campaigning with and for is just wrong in my opinion.

    But I get your point. Now a glass of wine & I’ll put this to rest & read a book.

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