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Palm Coast’s Redistricting McCarthyism: Rowdiness, But Same Disputed Outcome

| June 2, 2011

louis mccarthy palm coast redistricting commission

He doesn't have two hoots to spare: Louis McCarthy, redistricting commission chairman. (© FlaglerLive)

The second meeting of Palm Coast’s redistricting commission Thursday afternoon got rowdy. People walked out. The chairman, Louis McCarthy, got testy, and arbitrarily shut down public comment after three people had spoken and a fourth was asking to, mostly in disagreement over the commission’s perceived hastiness in redrawing the city’s voting districts—and its booting out a city council candidate from eligibility in the process.

McCarthy got vulgar, after the meeting, as he dismissed a question about a member of the public he wouldn’t let speak during the meeting. “I wouldn’t give two hoots one way or the other whether he filled out the sheet,” McCarthy said, referring to a sheet speakers were invited to fill out if they wanted to address the commission. “He sat down, he sat down on his right ass and waited until he could snap, and I can guarantee you he wasn’t the only one waiting in the wings. I can guarantee you. I’ve seen it before at the city council meetings. What they want is a debate.” McCarthy did not specify who they were.

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At city council meetings, Mayor Jon Netts, who controls meetings tightly, gives the public broad latitude and repeated opportunities to speak, once it’s the public’s turn, making sure—sometimes compulsively so—that no one is left out. County Commission Chairman Alan Peterson does likewise.

Peterson was in the audience Thursday. He said before the meeting he was trying to get pointers on redistricting, since the county commission will soon go through a similar exercise. “I think it was unfortunate that the public, that all the members of the public that attended were not given an opportunity to speak,” he said. “I would have gone by the rules that the city council has and that the county commission has, that anybody who wish to speak was given an opportunity to speak for up to three minutes. That was not provided to these people this afternoon.”

On the other hand, members of the audience called McCarthy a dictator, and one said she wouldn’t vote for him if he were running for dog catcher. “Me not being elected to dog catcher means a whole lot to me,” McCarthy said at the end of the meeting.

The disruptions may indeed have been planned. McCarthy thought so, and said so after the meeting, explaining that he was trying to keep the meeting under control. Some 40 people were seated in the Palm Coast Community Center for the 2 p.m. meeting, many of them supporters of Dennis Cross,  whose candidacy is in serious doubt because of the redistricting commission’s decision. He is the local tea party favorite. Tea party supporters are no strangers to rowdiness at public meetings, and Cross himself said he’d persuaded many not to come to the meeting to keep down the volume.

But the rowdiness had as much to do with McCarthy’s heavy-handed chairmanship of the brief meeting as with its outcome, which had been foretold a week earlier at the commission’s first meeting: Cross was disqualified when the commission accepted a plan that booted Cross’ neighborhood—Grand Haven—out of a district with a contested seat. Cross lives in the district that would now represented by Frank Meeker, whose seat is not up this year, assuming the Palm Coast City Council ratifies the recommendation on June 14.

Redistricting commissioners claim they never took political matters in considerations—indeed, that they were told not to as part of their guidelines as redistricting commissioners. Those guidelines were set out by the city administration, on the city attorney’s counsel. Most of the redistricting and election technicalities are outlined in the city charter. But the city mishandled the matter to some extent by not informing several candidates, including Cross, that eligibility criteria might be in doubt once the new census numbers were in. Both candidates and the city administration are now playing catch-up, with the redistricting commission’s tenor, if not outcome, being one of the consequences.

Dennis Cross was not thrilled. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Cross, who did address the commission, said he would take his case to the city council on June 14—and possibly sue. “I have people who want to start a legal fund-raiser for me,” he said. He had asked Sid Nowell, the private-practice attorney who also represents Bunnell, to attend the meeting and get familiar with the case, though Nowell is not working for Cross as of now.

Speaking to the commission, Cross objected to the redistricting recommendation on several grounds—the late timing (though that’s predicated by the city charter), the city’s contradiction of the Flagler Supervisor of Election’s certification of his candidacy, and the unbalanced way, he said, that the commission considered the various redistricting alternatives, giving two other alternatives short shrift even though they would have balanced district populations and kept districts compact, without eliminating Cross from eligibility. He also lamented a decision that reduces the potential number of candidates, which he said is not to the electorate’s advantage. “People want choices. They’re tired of elections with unchallenged and uncontested” seats.

Last week, in a 52-minute meeting, commissioners rejected two options that would have enabled Cross to still be a candidate, adopting instead the one that excludes him. The plans were prepared by the city’s planning department, which Cross had no issue with. Cross called the original meeting of the commission a “sham” for being too hurried and lacking deliberation. He was even more critical of today’s meeting, in which only McCarthy and one other commissioner spoke at any length as they explained why they’d gone with the plan they approved: in sum, geographic compactness and “natural boundaries,” among which McCarthy they included I-95.

It was after Cross spoke that the rowdiness began as McCarthy, without asking if anyone else wanted to speak, began deliberating with his fellow commissioners. Several people yelled out that the public comment period was never declared closed. Some walked out. Then, when McCarthy was explaining why the commission had settled on the redistricting option it had chosen, someone asked that the maps showing the other options be shown. McCarthy refused. “This is not a debate,” he said. “That isn’t what we’re voting on.” And when Cross himself later asked if he could pose a question, McCarthy curtly said no.

The proposal the commission approved on Thursday was essentially the same it had approved a week earlier, with a two-voter difference. The biggest winner from the redistricting commission’s recommendation so far is Jason DeLorenzo, who is running for city commission from the same district that once included Cross, but no longer. With Cross out, DeLorenzo, the government affairs director for the Flagler Home Builders Association doesn’t have to face what would have been serious competition from the Grand Haven voting block, always one of the most influential–because highest in turnout–precincts in the city.

Thursday’s meeting lasted 38 minutes.

Before the fun. (FlaglerLive)

52 Responses for “Palm Coast’s Redistricting McCarthyism: Rowdiness, But Same Disputed Outcome”

  1. Linda Hansen says:

    The implication here is that the people in attendance today were Tea Party people. They were not. I know because I invited many of them myself. I say this only because no one in that room today could believe our eyes at the behavior of this committee. One of the committee members attempted to disallow any questions at all from the audience, while one of the others urged him to allow questions from those present. These people didn’t seem to know what they were doing and were quite uncomfortable holding this meeting with anyone else present, not a comforting thought. I’m wondering at this minute what their qualifications for selection to the committee are. I am certain the Mayor will tell us at the Council meeting on the 14th.

    When asked if the audience could see the other options that had been available, Mr. McCarthy responded with a resounding, “NO”. This is what started the jeers. Then he attempted to cut off any and all public questions.

    There were no “planned disruptions”.

    The purpose of attending this meeting for many of us was because the original meeting held last week was announced with little fanfare. If you were not watching this issue, you would have missed that the meeting was held at all. Seems a bit odd for something so important to the community.

    Why is this happening after the elections process has begun? The law says it must be completed 90 days before the election. The Council will vote on this on June 14 and the Primary Election is Sept. 13, less than 90 days. I understand that the City Attorney has stated the law refers to the General Election in Nov., yet at least two of our current Council were elected in the Primary and did not have to run in the General Election.

    These are only a few of the reasons why people were invited and encouraged to attend today. It is disparaging to think that Mr. McCarthy is blaming the anger on the Tea Party. The local Tea Party does NOT endorse candidates.

    I encourage any and all who are as upset about this as those of us in attendance today to contact the Mayor’s office and your Council and be sure to attend the Council meeting on June 14. This process is being abused and should NEVER have been started this close to the election.

  2. Linda Hansen says:

    One last clarification…..I am a volunteer on the Cross campaign. Dennis and Bonnie Cross are friends of mine and asked me if I would help them with the campaign.

    I went to this meeting today only to observe and asked others to do the same. What I observed disappointed me greatly, but it was not the behavior of the audience.

  3. Jack Howell says:

    The whole issue stinks! I am quite sure that the City Manager and the Mayor are well aware and probably crafted this redistricting plan months ago. Louis McCarthy’s handling of this meeting appears to have been preplanned. Of course, no amount of disagreement, by the public, has any significant meaning. The City will vote on this plan as selected by the McCarthy team. As a side bar, the way the redistricting members were selected is very interesting. One of the wizards on the City Council selected a person from a different voting district…..need I say anymore!

    Unfortunately, our community is lacking solid investigative reporting by the media. When the issues are polictical, our local media fold. I believe that the pen is mightier than the sword except when trumpted by the dollar. You see, in Flagler County there are several power brokers who call the shots behind closed doors. If they don’t like what is printed, they pull classified adds and the problem goes away. It’s time for change. However, the public is poorly informed about the unscrupulous deals made by these politicians.

    One last parting shot. My observation of the City Council’s relationship with City Manger is interesting. It appears that Jim Landon controls the City Council with an iron fist. He apparently intimidates them as none of them have put Landon in his place. The City Manger works for the City Council period. The City Council does not work for him. I guess the will never get that concept.

  4. elaygee says:

    Dennis Cross has no right to demand that districts be drawn just so he can run for office. He can move if his residence is redistricted. No one speaking on his behalf has any business asking for special political favors to allow him to run for office. The chairman overreacted but the issue remains the same.

  5. lou says:

    The whole issue stinks! I am quite sure that the City Manager and the Mayor are well aware and probably crafted this redistricting plan months ago. Louis McCarthy’s handling of this meeting appears to have been preplanned. Of course, no amount of disagreement, by the public, has any significant meaning.

  6. Linda Hansen says:

    To Mr. Elaygee: Political favors? The only thing any of us are asking for is a fair process here, which obviously it is not. This is precisely why many of these decisions end up in the courts. Mr. Cross isn’t asking for any “favors”. We are simply saying the law has not been followed in this case.

  7. tulip says:

    I think that the entire committee should be ashamed of themselves, especially the behavior of McCarthy.
    McCarthy was like a dictatorial, closed minded and unfair “chairman” and the rest of the committee followed suit.

    There were other options that could have been chosen that would not have eliminated any candidate, and they all could’ve run for the seat. The fact that it was done this way leads me to wonder about certain people “influencing” others.

    I do not live in Grand Haven and I personally do not know Mr. Cross. The issue is that this decision on which option to use was not a fair one, considering there were other options that were not thoroughly considered. The people that are on the committee should be abhored that they did not treat people as they would want to be treated, especially by McCarthy.

    I hope the City Council really looks into this before giving the final decision.

  8. palmcoaster says:

    Is not as easy to move your residence nowadays, elaygee. Now I find it even more unfair the redistricting before the incoming election denying Mr. Cross his candidacy. This as far is my impression is even illegal. I really hope that in the city meeting our Mayor and Council backs off the redistrict until after the election. Regarding the city attorney interpretation and advise, at times legal departments in at least our local government actually leave the law to “their interpretation for special interest” Have happened before. Example; when ITT was to leave, offered our county then (as this was before 1999/2000 before Palm Coast incorporation) to buy ITT’s owned utility company as we had rightfully “first right of refusal”. Then County legal counsel advise then Flagler County commissioner’s that Florida Water was bidding as well and that was not in the best interest of our county to get embroiled with the important big lawyers of the bidder legal department as that could be costly to county. In few words a bunch of crock as the ITT utility was serving unincorporated palmcoasters for over 25 years. That intentional ill advise made us loose to own our current utility company at around only 19 to 24 million buy out! After Florida Water held the very profitable utility for about 6 years(I think was) and thanks to the county attorney shameful bad advise, sold it to the newly incorporated City of Palm Coast for 89 million! One heck of increase in price. Palmcoasters had no other choice than pay for it (bonds) otherwise some little Florida panhandle cities funded by Wall Street investors would have bought it instead. Imagine having to go to the panhandle, to complain, every time the Wall Street boys will raise our rates? So better be aware of ill legal advise when it comes to our local government.,tll:1999,tlh:1999&prmd=ivns&ei=8tPoTbbDMsm2tgfE-pW2AQ&ved=0CFYQzQEwBQ&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=d2da7bf6259b98f9&biw=1259&bih=574,tll:2002,tlh:2002&prmd=ivns&ei=NdXoTeHJN4uTtwfil7DEAQ&ved=0CF0QzQEwBg&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=d2da7bf6259b98f9&biw=1259&bih=574

  9. Bob E. says:

    It appears that the actions of this chairman are totally in line with the Obama theory of keep the public silent and remove their right of free speech. Would this outcome have been the same if the candidate was a minority democrat?

  10. Linda Hansen says:

    To Bob E: I understand how you feel, but let’s please try and stick to the issue of fairness and open government here in Palm Coast.

    Partisan fighting hasn’t helped anyone and has done little good for anyone in this country. It is very important that we focus carefully on the flaws in this process if we want to have good government here.

    That is something we should all find agreement in, doing the best job we can and expecting nothing less of our local government.

  11. w.ryan says:

    Tea Party at work. There is only one objective comment in these posts. Lets change the rules when it’s advantageous to the right party. How about complaining to Tallahassee about their redistricting plans. While we’re at it we could halt the efforts to curb democratic voters for the upcoming Presidential election.

  12. vincent liguori says:

    Your article states that Mr. Cross is the local tea party favorite. This is false. The Tea party has never issued an endorsement for any local candidate. As to the rowdiness, can you identify the tea party members in the audience that are not wearing teaparty tee shirts? It would seem that there is a deliberate plan to relate overall public dissent and disgust with political actions to the Tea Party.

  13. palmcoaster says:

    w.ryan….I don’t believe is a party issue this one. But at just getting a pro builders lobbyist in the city council instead. In spite the fact that Mr. Cross is supposedly representing Tea Party and Mr. De Lorenzo supposedly a Democrat ,I am not incline for any of them right now. I sure hope more candidates will run. Both have their do’s and don’ts when it comes to qualities. But also both may seriously lobby for developers, as Republicans do it all the time. I do not have a problem with development and construction except when it affects negative the quality of life of the long time residents that were here first. Like happened already.
    By the way I have no likeness for Tea Party, but yes for fairness and is not fair what is taking place.

  14. tulip says:

    I watch most of the City Council meetings on tv, and I have seen McCarthy many times over the years I have seen him physically attend those meetings, and he has ALWAYS been allowed to speak whatever was on his mind, received answers and was treated respectfully.

    Why didn’t McCarthy allow the same courtesy to the people that wanted to speak about the redistricting and ask questions?

  15. palmcoaster says:

    After I read Mr. Liguori’s clarification, I would like for Mr. Cross to clarify if he is a Tea Party candidate or not. Because if not, he may have more chances to the council seat after hopefully our Council Members fairly will postpone the redistrict to post elections.

  16. D Cocchiola says:

    First let me say that I am a register Democrat and I do not belong to the “Tea Party” as Mr. McCarthy stated that they were the only organized party to attend the redistricting meeting and as a citizen was ashamed of the city in which I live in. From the outset I was under the impression that the commission (since all of their seats faced away from the public) did not want to entertain any concerns or listen to any comments that the public wanted to state. Mr. McCarthy in his capacity as chairman needs to go back to school as he showed that he lacks the skills necessary to chair a meeting of this importance. He was rude with his verbal comments and body language. Mr. McCarthy did not even look to his own agenda to see how to progress with the meeting and had to be told by the other commissioners. This cannot be the best that Palm Coast can offer. A book on Roberts Rules should be given to Mr. McCarthy as I do believe he needs to read up on conducting a meeting.

    I do not live in Grand haven but do know and have known Dennis Cross for a good many years. The implication that Dennis Cross is the Tea Party candidate is untrue as stated by Mr. McCarthy. Mr. Cross is running with a non-party affiliation. I have donated to Mr. Cross’s campaign and plan on working to get him elected as I believe he is the best of the two candidates . I only hope that the City Council will put aside the recommendation that this commission made in haste.

  17. Edith Campins says:

    I am not a member of the Tea Party, I m in fact, a liberal democrat. I went to the meeting because I wanted to know what made “Option 2”, a better choice for the citizens of Palm Coast. Instead I found an incompetent committee chairman, who obviously doesn’t know about the “Sunshine” law in Florida. I asked a simple question that had nothing to do with candidates or politics and he refused to answer. He also refused to show any information on the other available options. This information is a matter of public record.

    I am glad I went because now I realize that the whole process is obviously being orchestrated by someone behind the scenes and the committee is merely a white wash. It turns out that the appointees don’t meet the stated criteria of someone from each district. They have not met the timing guidelines and their behavior toward the citizens in attendance was shameful and offensive.

    As a reasonably intelligent person I want to know what it is that makes one option better than the others. As a citizens I am entitled to a logical answer. If the other options also meet the criteria why was this one selected? What are the actual population numbers in the other options? How much of a change from natural boundaries do they entail?

    I would ask the council members who appointed the committee members to review the records of both meetings and ask themselves if this is the way to treat their constituents. The fair thing to do is to do this over again or I can see this costing the citizens of Palm Coast may dollars fighting this in court.

  18. Linda Hansen says:

    One last time here folks, Dennis Cross is NOT the Tea Party candidate. He is being beaten up unfairly over this. The local Tea Party WILL NOT endorse candidates precisely to avoid this sort of thing.

    Mr. W. Ryan: Many of those folks present were good old fashined Democrats. I know, they are friends of mine. So let’s cease with the name calling, shall we?

    I can assure you that the people in the audience yesterday were only there to be sure the rules are correctly followed…..which is NOT happening. This should concern everyone in Palm Coast.

    We’ll have to wait until June 14 to see what the Council does about it.

  19. Bob Hamby says:

    This whole situation appears to “thug-Chicago” politics in action.

    1. Who chose the Chairman since this was the first Committee Meeting?
    2. What was the criteria that only Option 2 met and who established the criteria?
    3. Since the “independent” committee did no research or work on their own but just chose “…the only option of the oprtions prepared by County Manager and County Staff with only 0ne meeting this mysterious criteria (also apparently prepared by Landon and staff), the Mamger and staff decided this and santized through a phony committee to take the Commission and Mayor off the hook. They can claim “the devil (committee) made me do it.”

  20. Jack Howell says:

    Unfortunately, the outcome of the June 14th meeting has probably been made in the backroom of city hall. I would also point out that voter apathy coupled with the macro-economic theory of the rational ignorant voter is alive and well in Palm Coast. I don’t see any other rallying on this issue except the Tea Party. All of our citizens need to brought up to speed on this issue. All should stand up and be counted. Of course this won’t happen because of the sheeple effect!

  21. w.ryan says:

    Linda Hansen says: First I commend you for using your real name. I appreciate the sincerity that exists in this manner. I am obviously a Democrat also. My concerns are for fairness as well. From what I’ve read the redistricting was based on population. I can say that I don’t know what is afoot behind closed doors. I merely trust in the system that everything is on the level. If the population is the basis for this decision I’m alright with this decision. Mr. Cross shouldn’t get special consideration.

  22. Linda Hansen says:

    W.Ryan, you are correct, the redistricting is based on population. But there were 5 possible plans submitted to the committee. In their first meeting which lasted just 52 min., the first 12 min. of the meeting was taken up by giving the committee their instructions. Two of the members are heard on tape saying they are having trouble understanding what it is they are supposed to be doing. The Chairman, Mr. McCarthy, tells them HE has been studying it and the best option is Option 2. There is a 22 min. discussion of Option 2, subsequently changed to read Option 1 and no discussion of the other options. Coincidentally, Option 2 is the ONLY option which eliminates a candidate from the race. In their FIRST 52 MINUTES of meeting as a committee, there is a unanimous vote of 5-0 in favor of Option 2. These people have never discussed this before and are making a quick decision based upon the Chairman’s recommendation and not their own. People at the meeting on Thursday simply wanted to see the other options that were available and to ask WHY Option 2 was better. The Chairman would not allow it. If you were there, you would understand why these people are so upset. It was an embarrassment for the City and for us all.

    The other problem is that all of the candidates are already legally qualified through the State of Florida and have collected all their signatures months ago. They are in the middle of their campaigns. The City has known about this since March yet it comes out now, in the MIDDLE of an election? This isn’t fairness.

    Please understand there is more involved here than just the population formula. By the time the City votes on whether or not to accept Mr. McCarthy’s recommendation, there will be fewer than 90 days until the Primary Election on Sept. 13. This is a violation of the redistricting law.

    Never trust in the system, w. ryan. Because when we do that we no longer have good government. Hope to see you at that City Council meeting on June 14.

  23. Frank Meeker says:

    Thank you Linda Hansen for trying to keep this whole issue in perspective. Not bothering to check for spelling or grammar and as always with great trepidation on getting involved in chat sites, here I go.

    Folks, let me try to clear the air with some facts, (at least facts as I understand things),

    Section 10(4)c of the City Charter directs the Districting Commission to prepare a report containing a
    recommended plan for adjustment of the council district to comply with the following

    1. Each district shall be compact, contiguous territory and boundary lines shall follow center
    lines of natural and manmade separations such as canals, streets, etc., where possible

    2. The districts shall be based upon principle of equal and effective representation as
    required by United States Constitution and as represented in the mathematical
    preciseness reached in the legislative apportionment of the state.

    That’s it. While the city manager recommended that each council member appoint somebody from their specific district, it is my understanding there is no legal requirement that the composition of the commission be made up of one person from each district. Clint Smith was my choice to represent my concerns and the citizens within District 2. I’ve read the minutes of the meeting and believe Clint did me proud.

    I take great offense at those who believe the council participates in back room deals on these issues. That is not true, and is childish We will have an open and fair public hearing on the matter when it comes before the council. I will not state my position or opinions on this issue in this forum. I probably will go on and enjoy the weekend. Please remember, council members should remain impartial and hear all the “facts” before rendering their vote. This is a primary concern for anybody who is elected to public office. Those who think otherwise are ill informed..

    On May 26, 2011, the Districting Commission met at a duly noticed public meeting to discuss
    alternatives for redrawing the City Council District boundaries. They met, as a cinnussuib they picked a chairman at that meeting, as a commission they picked a vice chair at the meeting, and although staff was acting as the recording medium for the minutes, as a commission they picked a secretary and discussed to what ever degree, the criteria mentioned above.

    There is no criteria regarding consideration of the impact of changing boundaries on the election potential of possible candidates. In fact, I doubt in reality impacts to currently seated council members being left out of their district is a consideration, although if I had my choice, I’d rather be left within mine!

    They were given a number of options via a presentation. I’m not going to comment on how the meeting was run. An option was picked, staff prepared a report based on that vote, a second meeting was held, the recommendation is now forwarded to concil, and everything will be presented to council for a decision. We can accept their recommendation, amend it, or reject it. If we take no vote on it, the committee’s recommendation stands.

    As provided in Section 10(4)d of the City Charter, City staff provided technical assistance to the
    Commission. They took the raw population data, they applied GIS mapping technology to the data, and proposed some options which included the current population of each City Council District, the proposed target population for each district, and a minimum and maximum district population threshold for each district. It is my recollection when I looked at the original maps, one was close to meeting the criteria, but just missed by being in excess of the 5% value. I believe three options did meet the criteria.

    Based on the 2010 U.S. Census, the populations within the existing district boundaries are as

    District 1- 17,247
    District 2- 11,922
    District 3- 22,064
    District 4- 23,947

    You can see that our population grew in some of the younger Districts leaving an imbalance in District 2. The imbalance in the population distribution within each district indicated a need to redraw the district boundaries in order to meet the requirements of the U.S. Constitution and City Charter regarding the principle of equal and effective representation.

    In order to meet any reasonable test of equal and effective representation, they take the 2010 U.S. Census City of Palm Coast population (75,180) and divide by four council districts (the mayor represents the city in total and doesn’t represent any one District). Therefore, the ideal or target district population is 18,795 (total population divided equally into each district). Flexibility in the district population distribution of +/- 5% is generally acceptable. Deviations greater than 5% will come under strict scrutiny and require strong justification for creating such a deviation.

    That’s the best information I have at this time. I’m confident all concerns will be heard if you just show up to the council meeting and ask to speak. You won’t be able to ramble. Please stick with facts remembering you’ve got three minutes. On a personal note, please leave the consiracy theories at home unless they are supported by more than just belief. I’d also ask that civility be maintained and personal attacks directed at council or the commission not be tolerated by those present. That kind of sillyness needs to stop.

    I hope to see you there,

    Frank Meeker, Palm Coast City Council
    District 2

  24. Jim Neuenfeldt says:

    I would think that to be fair, since Mr. Meeker is now representing a block of People who did not have the opportunity to elect him, his term would legally have to be shortened and he would have to rerun if he wanted to retain that position of councilman of a new district.

    Mr. Meeker would be running on a 2 year term instead of the normal 4 year term.
    That is what fair representation would be about, a representative elected by the people he represents, right?

  25. palmcoaster says:

    Appreciation to Mr. Meeker ‘s input. Now, like Regan said “Trust but verify”. As conflict of interest abound nowadays in some of our government decisions that affect in a very undermining ways the best interest of all residents tax payers at times, and to justify our concerns I attach the following link: See Mr. Meeker..?.. not all governing officials are as honest as you portray around us. Same happened with some school board members in Broward county not long ago. Is the color of money that rule only for some, while imposing financial detriment to most.

  26. Justice for All says:

    There are a few key words that the City Council needs to keep in mind “where possible” and as noted earlier, there are alternative district configurations that meet the “where possible” criteria. The public record shows that the City staff had two missteps and had to be reeled back in by the (hired) City Attorney. The first misstep was attempting to create and approve the redistricting boundaries in house and then with “officers of the City” by asking an existing advisory board to approve the boundaries. The second misstep is one of timing.

    If the City WOULD REALLY LISTEN to the residents and have bona fide committees instead of hastily concocted ad hoc appointees to rubber stamp what staff already came up with, we would not be in this situation.

    Mr. Meeker – how many times did you and other Council members meet “one on one” and “off site” with Neoga Lakes and Old Brick Township representatives? And the public gets three minutes to find out about what the City worked on behind the scenes for years? Give me a break.

  27. Linda Hansen says:

    Mr. Meeker, with all due respect, you were not at either meeting. This commission did no one proud. This has been handled very badly from the very beginning. Even the City Manager is quoted as saying it’s a very bad system. How/why were each of these people appointed? We have the right to ask that question. We have the right to see the other 4 options and to hear each committee member’s reasoning on how they as an individual came to the decision to which they did and not because the chairman recommended it. Are we supposed to be comfortable that something so drastic was done in just 52 minutes? This is precisely the reason why we have sunshine laws.

    Anytime citizens witness a spectacle such as this in the MIDDLE of an election, it does not speak to fairness. And you’re not going to convince anyone that you have our best interests at heart.

    Your constituents are requesting that you not accept the recommendation of this committee. I can only hope you will listen to them and act accordingly.

  28. palmcoaster says:

    So do I, Linda. Well said…and I am not a tea party supporter at all and hope Mr. Cross neither. Also hope more candidates show up for this race.

  29. tulip says:

    The people on this committee either did not really study it, or understand it, and willingly accepted the viewpoint of ONE person and accepted his decision. That should never happen at ANY meeting where a decision needs to be made, EVERY aspect of the situation should be looked at and discussed. The CC should also question the way this decision came about and demand some answers as to why ALL options were not thoroughly discussed.. It sure seems political.

    Shame on the committee and especially the Chairman of it.

  30. Jack Howell says:

    Linda and Palm Coaster…your input on this issue is spot on! I really appreciate the supporting documentation refrerences. Keep on hammering away on this issue. I liked the response to Councilman Meeker Linda. You nailed it.

  31. Edith Campins says:

    Thank you, Mr. Meeker, for that information. It is true that your appointee was the only one that made any effort to address the concerns of the citizens in the audience.

    However, I still do not have an answer to my question. Since three of the options met the criteria, what makes Option 2/1 the best choice? I went to the meeting thinking that this situation was a misunderstanding that the committee would be able to clear up. Had the chairman allowed us to view the other two options and simply and clearly pointed out the advantages of the one he selected this would not have gone further. Certainly, some people would not have been pleased but the facts are the facts.

    Instead, by refusing to show the other options, by abruptly and without notice cutting off public comment and by the committee’s general behavior they have given rise to even more controversy.

    For me, this isn’t about political factions or who gets elected, it is about treating the citizens with respect and allowing us reasonable access to information that will impact our lives. Please show the options side by side, list the clear advantages and save us all the cost of the lawsuits that this will engender.

    Thank you for “listening”.

  32. Concerned Palm Coaster says:

    “One last time here folks, Dennis Cross is NOT the Tea Party candidate. He is being beaten up unfairly over this. The local Tea Party WILL NOT endorse candidates precisely to avoid this sort of thing.”

    Linda how do you know the local Tea Party’s policies? You said you were working on Mr. Cross’ campaign but You know they’re official stance on endorsing candidates. Why? How?

    I also believe in having a transparent, legal process of governing. I don’t feel that the rules to benefit or hinder any candidate but the people of Palm Coast do deserve Equal representation. So what is the answer?

    I am no easily fooled by what I read on the internet and I will be at the meeting on June 14th.

  33. Frank Meeker says:

    Well,…I tried. And my comments were based on the minutes.

    Frank Meeker, Palm Coast City Council
    District 2

  34. Layla says:

    To Concerned Palm Coaster: I know what the Tea Party policies are because I served on their Executive Committee last year. And I am proud to say that we held the largest ever PIBARTISAN candidate night in this area of Central Florida last year at the Knight’s of Columbus on Old Kings Road. over 1,000 people attended in a little over 3 hours and had the opportunity to talk personally with the candidates. I’m sorry you missed it. They will be holding it again this year in July.

    “THE FLAGLER COUNTY TEA PARTY is a grass roots, nonpartisan group, dedicated to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize fellow citizens to support public policy consistent with constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, strong national defense, and free market principles…AND…to elect public servants committed to uphold the United States Constitution.”

    Mr. Cross is running with No Party Affiliation.

  35. Edith Campins says:

    Well, Mr. Meeker you did not answer my question either.

    Can anyone out there tell me what the advantages of Option 2/1 are over the other two options that also met the criteria? One advantage? Anybody? Surely this is a pretty straight forward question?

  36. Debbie Laury says:

    I have carefully read each of the posted comments. Based on the press coverage of this issue, my personal observations during the course of last Thursday’s meeting, my review of the minutes of the initial meeting of the commission and my understanding of the legal principles involved here, I would strong concur with Linda Hansen’s evaluation of what has transpired. Notwithstanding any admonition that the commission may or may not have received concerning whether it would have been appropriate for commission members to have taken into account the status of any incumbent or any candidate vis-a-vis his or her residency, the fact remains that there are several candidates who have already been designated as legitimately qualified to run by the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections. If the recommendation that the commission intends to put forward to the City Council is accepted, one of those legitimate candidates stands to be eliminated. I agree with several of the postings here that point out that there were several other alternatives that the commission could have considered, each of which would have accomplished the objective of balancing the voter roles with out the negative effect of invalidating the candidacy of one of the legitimate candidates. At no time during either its first or second meeting did the commission consider any of these options, nor has the commission been willing to explain its unwillingness to consider or evaluate these alternatives. This is very troubling. Therefore, it would be my hope that City Council might be willing at its next regularly scheduled meeting, June 14, to reject the recommendation that the commission intends to put forward and to decide instead to select one of the other options submitted to the commission that would accomplish to objective of balancing the voter roles without the negative effect of invalidating the candidacy of any individual who has already met all of the stipulations set forth by the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections.

  37. Charles Ericksen, Jr says:

    I was present for the first meeting and want to add these comments to the on going discussion. Was the first meeting actually “noticed” by only being listed on the City web site.? Was the second meeting also “noticed properly, with it only be on the city web site, and posted, the day before the meeting? Just who gave the technical information and legal information to the City staff, that was charged with the job of presenting the information to the Commission. While Jose Papa, , who always does a good job on presentations, neither he nor Mr. Tynor, wrote up the presentation, nor the rules to come up with the five options presented, .. Just how long had The City had the census data, to develop the maps. Rumor has it, that the information was available as early as mid-March, but that is only rumor. No where in the Candidate handbook, did it mention NOR CAUTION any candidate, that the numbers required to qualify WOULD be adjusted upon the avaialbility of the census data. Right now, even with speed the factor, the City will not have the ability to approve the recommendation, prior to July 1st, the last day to qualify via, the petition method. Thus, all would be rushing to gather the correct number OR pay the 10%, of counclmen salaries, to qualify.. The delay in getting the information out, and an appropriate warning, to the public/candidates does not reflect favorably on the City, Actual or perceived… .they will be the judge. Early warning at least gives the candidate time to gear up, instead of reacting. Someone, either the City Manager or the Council, should have thought of impending problems, and communicated this, rather than send 2 staffers out to take the grief. Redistricting affects us all, and sense tells us to allow public input fro m ALL districts. Suspicion was also raised, by having 2 Commission members from each of the incumbents districts, and none, in the present largest district. We should anticipate resident and voter concerns, and answer them up front , not after the fact like we have now..Let the debate continue..

  38. Concerned Palm Coaster says:

    To Layla,
    I do understand that Mr. Cross is not running as a Republican or a Democrat. Based on your own and Linda’s statements I also understand that the Tea Party will not endorse any candidates to “avoid this type of thing”. So stating that he has no party affiliation does not mean that he is not your candidate. In fact it points to the fact that he most probably is your candidate.
    The reason this would affect my opinion of him is because I do not like any politician that puts his or her own ideologies above the citizens he serves (ie: Florida’sGov. Scott).
    None of this has anything to do with the fact that our county had to redistrict to give all areas equal representation. Again I state that my concern is that the redistricting is done by the letter of the law and that everything is transparent. I would only hope that the people who comment here are also equally as transparent.

  39. Dorothea says:

    @ Layla:

    Nice sound bite on the goals of the Tea Party. Too bad the goals of the tea party as stated are not the true goals. The Tea Party has, in my opinion, been the most destructive force in American politics in this decade. It has hastened the destruction of the middle class, supported regressive labor and social policy, and furthered the decline of our economy. It has also brought the Republican Party so far to the right that it makes even Ronald Reagan look like a flaming liberal.

    I don’t know about the actual events of this meeting other than what I’ve read here. However, I would never vote for anyone connected to the Tea Party, especially from Grand Haven. Anyone who is actively involved in Palm Coast politics knows that Grand Haven residents considers themselves an entity unto themselves and that they have no interest in the rest of the city other that to deprive them of the good life that they themselves enjoy. I don’t want knee jerk no tax nuts running this city into the ground, while reaping whatever benefits they can for Grand Haven. The residents with concerns about redistricting should have been allowed to speak. However, the other citizens of Palm Coast, who are not tea party supporters, better wake up before they allow this national phenomona that is destroying the fabric of American society to become a part of the Palm Coast City governance.

  40. Layla says:

    Dorothea: your LOCAL Tea Party has decided not to endorse because they are STRONGLY bipartisan and want to encourage people to run for office. I have to assume you weren’t at the Candidate Night last year, either.

    Your local Tea Party has done an excellent job of getting out the information on the candidate positions on the various issues and making it easier for people to meet and address these candidates, ALL OF THEM. You are most certainly entitled to your opinion. I would urge you to attend the next candidate night in July. I think you will be surprised. The goal is to have an informed voter. If you consider this to be “destroying the fabric of American society”, then there is not much anyone can do to change your mind.

    And you can certainly understand why others might consider Jason DeLorenzo’s profession as the Chief Lobbyist for the Building Assn. to be a conflict of interest in running for a seat on the City Council.

    The issue here, Dorothea, is whether or not the Redistricting Commission and the City followed the law on redistricting. Why won’t they disclose the other 4 options? That’s a violation of the Sunshine Laws.

  41. Dorothea says:

    Layla, if you believe that there is a violation of the Sunshine Laws, then do something about it. You are, as is any citizen, permitted to request and receive public records from the city of Palm Coast. You also have the right to file a Sunshine Law complaint. Contact the First Amendment Foundataion, for assistance. Also read Section 286.011 and Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes.

    As for Jason Delorenzo’s run for the city council, I have the option not to vote for him. He, as a citizen, has the right to run for office.

    There are many groups out there running candidate nights from the League of Women Voters to the African American Society. One niche that actually needs filling is a local group to sue Governor Scott, a tea party backed candidate, who is violating the Constitutionally protected civil rights of state employees and Aid to Dependent Children applicants by collecting their urine for drug testing without suspicion of any illegal activity. Such testing is also a drain on the state budget. Since YOUR tea party’s goal is to protect the Consitution and to be fiscally responsible, why are you not protesting that? In fact, how could you even associate your group’s supposedly benign activities with the vile activities of the rest of the tea parties.

  42. Layla says:

    Dorothea: I have the statutes, thanks. That’s what this website, this story has been about.

    As far as the urine testing goes, many employers these days maintain the option to test. The United States military has their urine tested. Most state employees are subject to the same thing. I have no problem with testing ANYONE who is receiving taxpayer dollars. I realize that makes me “vile” in your opinon. And I’m sorry about that.

  43. Dorothea says:

    Layla, should we drug test all who receive taxpayers dollars? That’s a long list from legislators to contractors, even the governor. However, whether you approve or not, it has already been established in the courts that drug testing of most government employees who are not exhibiting suspicious behavior is unconstitutional. The governor is taking us down a very expensive path, both for the cost of the tests and for the court challenges to come. Can we really afford this and is it worth the expense? Knowingly proceeding with this and signing the act into law in spite of the facts is reckless and yes, vile.

  44. Layla says:

    Dorothea: No, I don’t think we need to drug test unless there are signs of drug use. Most drug testing is done randomly. Many of our recent laws are going to be in the courts for some time to come. It is a world gone mad. The days of common sense are gone. Everybody is angry.

    There is much I do not think we can afford right now, but government seems to be the last to realize that.

    Have a good Sunday, Dorothea.

  45. Concerned Palm Coaster says:

    For what it’s worth the original map along with the 4 alternate maps are listed in the above article where it says ‘click here’. In fact the entire final report is documented there. I encourage everyone to click on the links and see the changes to the map for themselves.

    The current district map is under, ‘’

    The alternate maps are in the final pages of the report under, ‘’.

  46. Bob Hamby says:

    without sounding like a conspiracy theorist (for Mr. Meeker’s benefit), acn anyone answer my previous concerns of how the City Staff generate 5 options but only one met the “criteria” ber the committee chairman? Also who developed the criteria and what exactly is y=the criteria? I’m sorry but as hard as I try to remain reasonable this smells like a conspiricay to me.

  47. peggy says:

    Palm coaster to w. ryan – you have no “likeness” for the Tea Party. Well, sir, the Tea Party does NOT ENDORSE candidates. And as to your “likeness” for the tea party, may I remind you of the Herbert Spencer quote, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation”

    My question, palm coaster, is how many tea party meetings have you attended that cause you to have no “likeness” for it?

  48. Steve Wolfe says:

    I am a resident of Northern VA, about to retire from the Federal Government, and I am considering, among other locales, relocating to Palm Coast. I have read this article and comments with interest. I am proud to read of the great interest on the part of the participants, although the issue is of concern to me. I don’t want to relocate to a district with a “Boss Hog” political structure, however, if I do choose Palm Coast, for its many other qualities, I assure all of you that I will become active in your political life, and I intend to be a force for open and honest government. I would make sure that politicians who take advantage of people, and thwart the structure of law, to come to know my name, and hate it. I would frustrate them to no end. I think that one of the most effective ways to do this is to learn and understand the laws, enlist local legal support, and make sure the laws are followed. Politicans can manipulate the public if the public is not vigilant.

  49. palmcoaster says:

    To Peggy;
    If I am the Palmcoaster that you refer too. Just in case I reply to your question. I do not like the Tea Party because they have supported and elected individuals like Rick Scott in Fl, Walker in Wisconsin, Crist in NJ, and all the other governors in 2010 that are nothing else than public employees and unions bashers and lobby to exempt the multinationals and the wealthy for their fair share of taxes . Tea Party elected even worst some racist one’s like Jan Drinkwine Brewer in AZ a woman that moved form California as her prejudice won’t fly there, but will flourish in the fertile grounds of once beautiful Arizona. Tea Party held very aggressive demonstrations often in the corner of Representative Giffords in Tucson AZ against her, because back then her vote on proposed Health Care passage. Look at the tragic outcome. Not that Tea Party did it, but aggressive rhetoric works in sinister ways with the very mentally unstable that but the way go around all armed and loose.. The basic idea of Tea Party to save us and keep our taxes down was excellent but….actually a progression to extremism based on unjustified reasons made me dislike it. Hope I answer your question. Furthermore I don’t believe now that any of our public service workers; teachers, law enforcement, fire fighters, nurses hospital workers, administrative workers, unionized or not and any Latinos and or any other minorities except of Cuban ancestors, will vote for any more Tea Party/GOP running candidate in 2012.

  50. Layla says:

    To Palm Coaster: This issue is not about the Tea Party, even though you are intent on making it that. We will never be able to have good open government if government is unwilling to listen to the people. I hope you will visit your local Tea Party before passing judgement.

    I hope everyone will attend the Council meeting on June 14. This issue is being dealth with in other cities and all are taking citizen input and that is important. Hope to see you there.

  51. Dorothea says:

    The subliminal issue IS the tea party. These comments appear to be part of an organized effort by tea baggers to take over Palm Coast government and destroy the city just as it has the rest of the country. They run in primary or off-year elections with small turn outs, turning out in droves to defeat the more reasonable candidates. Once in office, you can bet that half the city employees will get the pink slip, including the fire department that is currently protecting us from wildfires. Maybe our city taxes will go down a few dollars, but so will our quality of life. That’s why they are raising such a ruckus over the redistricting which appears fair to me. The redistricting destroys their very organized plan. Perhaps the chair of the redistricting committee could have been more tactful, but I’ve heard this group get up one by one and rant the same opinions over and over and he mistakenly tried to bring it to an early end. Don’t get taken in by the Trojan horse.

  52. palmcoaster says:

    Thank you Dorothea and for sure keeping a watchful eye….on the local Tea Party goals. We had enough damage inflicted by them already at state and federal level.

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