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Jack Howell Excoriated Over ‘Lock and Load’ Analogy as Palm Coast Council Fixes Manager Shortlisting Error

| February 26, 2019

City Council member and retired Col. Jack Howell spent three decades in the Marines and likes to speak freely. (© FlaglerLive)

City Council member and retired Col. Jack Howell spent three decades in the Marines and likes to speak freely. (© FlaglerLive)

Bill Shelly was not happy with Jack Howell, the crusty, low-filter Palm Coast City Council member doing his best to maverick his way through his first months on the council.

“During the Tuesday meeting of February 19 of city council, the statement was made, and I quote, ‘lock and load,’” Shelly said.  


Shelly was referring to Howell’s recurring comments that the council should drop its search for a new manager and appoint Beau Falgout, eliminating the interim from Falgout’s title. Howell, a retired Marine who spent three decades in the service and rarely makes a point without some reference to his military background, had proposed ending the search in a letter to the Observer, and was proposing doing so again last week.

Howell often speaks freely and sometimes explicitly, dispensing with the diplomacies of government language: it’s part of his electoral appeal. Inevitably, it sometimes misfires. His more fully loaded statement was: “What I want is a full-time manager, let’s lock and load, move forward, and we’re kind of still chug and chug, we’ve got the reins on the boy, but we’re not letting him loose to do his true thing, and I know he can do his true thing.”

“This is completely inappropriate for any city council meeting or any public gathering,” Shelly told the council this morning during a special meeting. “With the climate of gun violence in our schools and our nation, I think an apology is needed to the mayor, the city council members and the city of Palm Coast who he represents.”

He did not get an apology, at least not during the meeting, nor did the council discuss Howell’s verbiage: Howell motioned to end the meeting minutes later, the council’s purpose of correcting an error it committed last week having been accomplished.

But Howell acknowledged Shelly’s point in an interview afterward.

“Obviously I’m a military guy,” Howell said. “When I used the term lock and load that meant let’s move forward smartly. Now, not everybody understands that terminology, it had certainly no intent on my side to indicate violence. That wasn’t the intent, it was just to move smartly. You know, we always say that, let’s lock and load and go–trying to push the council members into making a decision on the Beau scenario, that’s all it meant. If he didn’t understand that, well, you know, I’m sorry, but I owe no apology to anybody.”

Describing himself as “an old dog” with language,  he recalled how he’d gotten flack a decade ago when he was running for Flagler County sheriff and called the Hammock “the boondocks.”

Within moments though he said he understood where Shelly was coming from and was fully aware that students in schools and some adults are now routinely arrested for what they say rather than what they do–language that sounds aggressively threatening, if not quite comparable to the “lock and load” metaphor. Still, the metaphor, and others like it, reflect a frequent and not always judicious use of military lingo by elected and other public and business officials, whether they have served or not. Howell said there’s room for care in using that kind of language these days. 

“It’s not my intent to make anybody upset,” Howell said, “and I’ve learned from him, I’ve learned to kind of stay away from military terminology, I’ve got to catch myself, you know.”

In any case, the council had already heeded Shelly’s other point: nothing is done yet regarding the manager’s appointment. The council last week decided to stick to its planned interviews of candidates. The special meeting today was not to revise that decision, but to fix an error.

Last week the council narrowed its candidates to be interviewed for city manager to six. They’d in fact narrowed the choices to fiveFalgout, Donald Kewley, James Drumm, Matthew Morton and Robin Hayes. The council’s consultant, Doug Thomas of Texas-based Strategic Government Resources, made a mistake by including a sixth candidate, Ken Kelly. Thomas had misheard council members’ votes.

FlaglerLive later that day pointed out the error to Mayor Milissa Holland and City Clerk Virginia Smith. The administration consulted with its attorney, and within hours decided to hold today’s special meeting to fix the error and eliminate Kelly in an official vote. Meanwhile, Drumm dropped out. The pair of 4-0 vote today was carried out without discussion other than to wade through the technical precision of the matter (Holland, who has the flu, was absent). That leaves four candidates short-listed: Falgout, Kewley, Morton and Hayes. Every time a candidate drops out, Falgout’s chances, already significant as the insider choice, increase.

Shelly had started his remarks by saying the city had adopted a process to find a manager. He did not want the process circumvented, as Howell had proposed in the letter to the Observer. Howell wanted the search for a manager ended and Falgout appointed. Calling it hearsay, Shelly cited Howell’s claim that “in our heart of hearts, my fellow council members know that Beau is the best choice.” (Howell said today he was only speculating about other council members’ positions, based on all of them voting for Falgout in two rounds of short-listing.)

“Our city council after our last meeting,” Nick Klufas, who was chairing today’s council meeting, said, “really came to a consensus that we were going to follow through the process that we originally decided as a council to go forward with. I don’t anticipate that we’re going to have any break of unison between our council members and our mayor.”

Candidate interviews are now scheduled for Thursday and Friday, March 7 and 8. Saturday had also been slated for interviews. With the reduction of candidates to four, the Saturday option was eliminated. The council will meet in special session on March 12 to vote on a new manager.

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19 Responses for “Jack Howell Excoriated Over ‘Lock and Load’ Analogy as Palm Coast Council Fixes Manager Shortlisting Error”

  1. JohnDewitt says:

    Lock and load is not an offensive term except to dumbass snowflakes! I’m more offended by the Wannabe P.C. Policeman Mr. Shelly. Get a life Mr. Shelly

  2. good news says:

    Tell it like it is Jack,…, You have my vote next time you run for re-election,,, Or even MAYOR!

  3. Fredrick says:

    Bill Shelly…… get over it.
    Don’t you have something real to work on as a member of the city council? Is this really what you want to be known for? If this is all you got then please run for congress as you will fit right it with the do nothing people we send there over and over again.
    . I would bet that you are also upset with Howells use of the terms “old dog” in the article above. We are in a time when animal cruelty is has been all over the news and we should all love our 4 legged friends regardless of age.
    Really? Is this what you want to be known for?

  4. Steadfastandloyal says:

    Dear lord, spare us the PC nonsense, what he said was in context of carry on, move on. What’s with these candy ass board members looking for issues where there are none? Let’s get this right, federal officials say “m-fer” yet he’s ostracized over this..please

  5. atilla says:

    GO Jack. Semper Fi.

  6. David S. says:

    A bunch of old farts…..

  7. Concerned Citizen says:

    The world might be better place if people spent less time being offended and more time addressing real issues.

    Mr. Howell coming from a former Airman thank you for your service. Lock and Load and let’s move forwrd addressing more important issues.

    Mr. Shelly besides trying to disparage a Council Man who is trying to make a difference what have you done to help Palm Coast?

  8. Rebecca says:

    How disrespectful to speak of a veteran that way. You’re business is words.. try and choose them more carefully. How you think you could take such a condescending tone against an American hero.. ignorance revealed. Shame on you kid.

  9. palmcoaster says:

    C’mon Mr. Shelly our excellent councilman Jack Howell just “meant charge and move forward” is military slang language and he is right. Even myself just as a Palmcoaster taxpayer realize as well that Mr. Falgout after 12 years of service knows our city ins and outs to perform as expected specially without Landon’s authority no more over him.He will also be less costly to the city. I perceive also that our good councilman Jack Howell may want to avoid the rest of the candidates their personal expenses to be present here for the final interview “without reimbursement”, etc. Mr. Shelly please try and catch the real bigger fish to fry as there is a lots out there!. Let a good councilman that really cares for us “the people” do his hard work without your negativity! Kudos Councilman Howell Semper Fi!

  10. Wow says:

    Wow yes aggressive bombastic arrogant politicians spouting nonsense. Could work.

  11. John Brady says:

    Mr. Shelly maybe you need your time to study and less time fixating on specific words used in a context other than the one you imagined in your mind. If you spent time learning about why Jack was elected and what he is trying to accomplish with no support maybe you understand what the problem is. The three hold overs from the old regime are do at saying PC things but either doing the opposite or doing everything possible to wastefully spend your money and keep the citizens as far away from their decision making as possible.

    Pull up a chair and listen up. Our Mayor preaches shop here and support local but at the same time supports retaining a part time , out of town attorney who’s firm was paid over 500K and his personal share was 330K. BTW this attorney has a proven nebulous understanding of the word “shall”

    The three hold overs are bane to involve citizens and missed a chance to follow the example of the Flagler County School Board when they had to pick a new Superintendent. The school board hired a search firm for 30 K as opposed to 100K. The school board had a citizens panel of 25 citizens review 45 applications and narrow the field to 5 and those 5 were the ones the school board interviewed and selected a Superintendent. Did you see anything like that here.

    Did you know that the City is in debt for close to 200M. Now according to the former Mayor the City was not in debt yet it is his signature is on every note. See Page 84 of last budget for proof.

    Yes Jack is colorful and that is his charm but you had to really read a long way into this comment to get to where you are.

    Mr Shelly I think you missed the forest because you were staring at a tree.

  12. John Brady says:

    Jeez on a lighter note, I was to be Jack’s PC coach, I guess that didn’t work out.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe we are even talking about this Lock and Load . This was always used on the range when you were training . It means get ready and move. Society is screwed up with the snowflakes I suggest u stay in your bedroom with your iPhone , computer or teddy bear and lock your door oh and maybe suck on your pacifier

  14. Palm Coast taxpayer says:

    I am confused why “retired” police and military believe that they know better and voters elect them.
    No to mention that they move here, after getting huge NJ pensions

  15. Michael Cocchiola says:

    Hey… give Col. Jack a break. He’s a Marine. He’ll always be a Marine. Marines use that term to get people to move out quickly. It is not a call to arms… it is a call to action.

  16. Will says:

    The last thing our town needs is Speech Monitors. On the other hand, Council, don’t rush the process. Hopefully, we’re going to live with your decision for a long time. Do your homework, interview and evaluate the top five.

  17. Brian says:

    My my aren’t we so sensitive…….some people are always looking for the next thing to be offended by.

  18. hawkeye says:

    I didnt vote for Howell and dont like him, however , he did nothing wrong here.

  19. John Tipton says:

    I know Col. Jack Howell and I know as much as he’s done for the youth in our community with his Teens In Flight program (and our country as a Marine,) no one is more aware of the issues affecting them (gun violence being one of them). His language was intended to get the attention of the community to rally behind him on this issue being discussed at the time (selecting new City Mgr). Jack is doing EXACTLY what he said he’d do when he campaigned. We elected him BECAUSE HE’S LOCKED AND LOADED!!! Don’t allow the focus on his language to cause us to lose sight of what he’s trying to do and SUPPORT him…not criticize him!! This is one of the reasons why we can’t get good honest (speaking AND acting) people to serve in public office. Fortunately, Col Howell IS a Marine and can take it!! Get em Jack!!!

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