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Gov. Scott Visiting With Flagler Commissioners Friday But County Keeps Meeting Veiled

| January 26, 2017

Half the parking lot on the beach side at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park was carved out by the force of Hurricane Matthew's storm surge, and the dunes there were wiped out. A makeshift dune was built since, but more repair is needed. (© FlaglerLive)

Half the parking lot on the beach side at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park was carved out by the force of Hurricane Matthew’s storm surge, and the dunes there were wiped out. A makeshift dune was built since, but more repair is needed. (© FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 7:11 p.m.

Gov. Rick Scott is visiting Flagler County Friday morning, his fourth visit since Hurricane Matthew, to survey the storm’s damage and needed repairs at Washington Oaks Garden State Park, where he will speak with Flagler County commissioners.


The meeting with commissioners is set for around 9 a.m. County Administrator Craig Coffey informed county commissioners to meet him at 8:30 a.m. at the end of Malacompra Road in the Hammock, where he is to drive them with all-terrain vehicles on the beach, north to Washington Garden State Oaks.

Three county commissioners confirmed the meeting: they were reached by phone by the county administration in the course of the afternoon. Coffey confirmed it after he was reached by a reporter at 5 p.m.

Just before 6 p.m., an advisory from the governor’s office said Scott “will make a major announcement on Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts at Washington Oaks State Park.”

Coffey has not noticed what amounts to an informational gathering of the county commission, which will be engaged directly in an issue in front of it currently–beach restoration is the dominant issue on commissioners’ agenda. However informally, commissioners will be discussing issues of immediate and direct relevance, even more so if they are to speak with the governor later on, where Scott is expected to engage in conversation with them. As such, the gathering is not dissimilar from a meeting of the commission, and should be noticed under the state’s open meetings law.

Coffey disagrees. “It’s a public event being held by the governor so it’s not a public notice issue on our part,” he said. “I don’t think he’s going to be there long, my understanding is he’s going to make a brief presentation.”

“We found out literally at 2 o’clock, ” he said. “That’s when we found out and I really didn’t confirm it until 3 or 3:30 so I didn’t get told, so join the club.” The governor’s office informed the state park manager at Washington Oaks of the visit at 2 p.m., Coffey said–when the state park manager was in Coffey’s office.

Gov. Rick Scott during a visit to Flagler in October, at the county's Emergency Operations Center. (© FlaglerLive)

Gov. Rick Scott during a visit to Flagler in October, at the county’s Emergency Operations Center. (© FlaglerLive)

Coffey’s office has also not informed the local media or other local officials who have reason to see the governor: Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland, for example, or Flagler Beach officials, were not informed of the meeting. Holland said she’d want to be present.

It isn’t the first time the county has not informed press or key members of the community from knowing about the governor’s visits: On Oct. 31, it was only by luck that then-Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts learned of Scott’s visit to the county’s Emergency Operations Center, where Scott wanted to meet with local officials to talk about what went right and what went wrong with the response to Hurricane Matthew, and what the state could do to help the county. Palm Coast was very much part of the equation after the storm, yet the county did not extend an invitation to the mayor, claiming, in Coffey’s word, “it’s not our show.” What he meant was that the governor’s office had initiated the visit. But it very much was Flagler’s show: the governor wasn’t visiting Niceville or Ocheesee.

The county administrator again today said it wasn’t the county’s deal: “We don’t handle the media relations or the press releases, and for security reasons we let the governor handle that.”

The commissioners–four of whom will be there–were asked to gather at Malacompra Road, Coffey said, because there’s limited parking at Washington Oaks Gardens (where the parking lot was devastated by the hurricane’s storm surge). So the administrator thought it best to have the commissioners driven up from the beach side.

“The only thing we know is he’s gonna go to Washington Oaks Park, delivering a brief speech at 9, and leaving fairly quickly, and potentially speaking about the dunes,” Coffey said.

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12 Responses for “Gov. Scott Visiting With Flagler Commissioners Friday But County Keeps Meeting Veiled”

  1. Dave says:

    The nice shade provided by the beautiful trees at Washington Oaks should be the perfect setting for these shadey ass politics.

  2. Joseph says:

    You don’t think our Gov. Scott would ever do anything that was illegal do you?

  3. Ramone says:

    Four elected commissioners meeting about any issue should be noticed, minutes should be kept. Clear Sunshine Law violation in my opinion. If somehow they can technically argue it’s not, the appearance of impropriety is certainly an issue.

  4. Sherry says:

    YOUR governor Scott is doing all he can to have meetings and make decisions that are “critical” to our community. . . completely without our “public” knowledge or input! What a Fascist way to run a government!

  5. Ben Hogarth says:

    Ironically enough, this would be a circumstance where only a court could make an interpretation if such meeting violated Florida Law. It would also depend upon the circumstance.

    The Governor as a “sole actor” is not required to publicly notice any such meeting as his office does not represent a “board” or “commission” of a state or local agency. If the County Commissioners in attendance of the Governor’s meeting were ONLY there for fact gathering or as a means of obtaining information from the Governor, no such violation would be occurring. However, if the meeting were to include discussion and deliberation among those County Officers, then the County and not the Governor would be in violation for not noticing said meeting.

    From my interpretation of their “plan” to discuss issues relative to a future item BEFORE the Governor’s meeting, they would be in violation and I believe any reasonable court would rule accordingly. As I stated before, only a meeting that is solely and exclusively operated by the Governor as a means of disseminating information to the County Officers would be exempt from public records law.

    Please remember however, I am not a board certified attorney and thus am not qualified or authorized to provide legal advice. This is merely a personal interpretation of the Sunshine Law through my own personal education and experience.

  6. Sherry says:

    AND, the County leaders seem to be right there with Scott. . . in lock step. . . keeping the eyes and the ears of the public. . . AKA “the journalists” . . . in the dark.

    As ALT RIGHT’s Steve Bannon . . . YOUR new counselor to YOUR president says:

    “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile.”

    “The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work.”

    “You’re the opposition party. Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party. The media’s the opposition party.”

    The Republicans are now attempting to restrain the “Freedom of the Press” guaranteed in the first amendment to our constitution:

    The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press

  7. Wishful Thinking says:

    Reminds me of Flip Wilson ( Geraldine)
    ” Let’s meet in the booth, in the bottom, in the back, in the dark:……If a decision on one dime of any of our money made my humble opinion is that all participants who represent Flagler County are in violation of the Sunshine Law. It is not the Governors responsibility to notice such meetings, it is our local officials. If the governor met with ONE singular commissioner there would not be any alleged violation .

    Oh well Business ( monkey) as usual in potato land.

  8. Sam says:

    well Sherry if you are putting up your money to rebuild the Dunes you have a right to dictate where that money goes, but since you or I are NOT giving the county money for dune restoration out of our pockets we have little room to talk. , I see it as money coming to this county which is better than NO money at all. And who cares if the county stooges are walking in lock step. I would bet money if you were a county commissioner your feet would be right at the back of the Govs. In all tricky Scott could have said, Flagler County with your 100k residents you figure it out or get it from the Federal Govt..

  9. Fredrick says:

    Sherry your tinfoil hat may be a bit tight.

    Where you just as disappointed when basically the same thing was said by the Obama administration about one of your “favorite” news channels?

    By the way whether you like it or not, If you are a US citizen, Trump is your President too or have you relinquished your citizen ship? I put up with 8 years of Obama and had to bight my tongue, you can now to the same. Election is over. You lost. Get over it.You will survive.

  10. Sherry says:

    @ Sam. . . what in the world are you talking about???

    As a TAXPAYER. . . I AM putting up the money! Just like you all are! Scott certainly isn’t taking it out of his own “bulging” pockets!!!

    Therefore I do have, not only the right, but the obligation to make all our political leaders accountable regarding how and where they spend our hard earned tax dollars! At least for the moment, the USA IS still a Democracy. . . not a Dictatorship, as some would like it to be!!

  11. Sherry says:

    Trump will Never Be My President! @Fredrick. . . “I” still have a right to free speech, just as you do!
    As long as Pierre will continue to post my comments. . . I’ll continue to be right here defending my rights against people like you. And, by the way, it’s “bite” NOT “bight”. . . get a dictionary, will you!

  12. Sherry says:

    Trump will Never Be My President! @Fredrick. . . “I” still have a right to free speech, just as you do!
    As long as Pierre will continue to post my comments. . . I’ll continue to be right here defending my rights against people like you. And, by the way, it’s “bite” NOT “bight”. . . get a dictionary, will you!

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