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Disbelief and Legal Maneuvers Meet Chamber’s Refusal to Budge on Creekside Exclusion

| September 23, 2011

Creekside under a veil. (© FlaglerLive)

Few people can believe it—county commissioners, government and first amendment lawyers, political candidates and others: the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce is standing by its decision to exclude two non-partisan candidates in the Palm Coast City Council election from having booths at the Creekside Festival on Oct. 8 and 9, even though Democratic and Republican clubs and the tea party will have booths there.

The candidates—Dennis Cross and Bill McGuire—will be allowed to walk around the festival like any other person attending, but they won’t be allowed to hand out literature.

None of the five Flagler County Commission members are comfortable with the chamber’s decision, and three are stunned by its refusal to budge after commissioners sought a compromise on Monday, though commissioners are divided over what action to take next when they discuss the matter again at an Oct. 3 meeting.

“I think their decision is incredibly wrong,” Commission Chairman Alan Peterson said, “but maybe not legally wrong and therefore we need to determine that. I don’t think the county commission should impose its opinions upon any organization that would invalidate that organization’s rules and regulations. But I am very disappointed in the decision that the chamber has made. I think it will have long-term, detrimental impact to the effectiveness of the chamber.”

Commissioner Milissa Holland went further. “I fully intend at the next county commission meeting not only to raise this issue but ask that the chamber either reverse its decision, or ask by the unanimous support of the county commission to reverse it, and further set up a formal policy in regard to our public facilities.” The policy would ensure that similar situations would not arise in the future, since the county is on the hook for appearing to endorse the chamber’s exclusionary rule even if the county itself is not promulgating that rule. Most commissioners—with Nate McLaughlin’s and George Hanns’s exceptions—are especially concerned by the political backlash the chamber’s decision is having on the commission itself.

Barbara Revels, likely the most supportive member of the business community on the commission, is not behind the chamber’s decision, either. She was still waiting for legal opinions on the county’s liability, but even assuming that legally the chamber was entitled to exclude some people as opposed to others, Revels said she might consider compelling the chamber to change its rule. “At this time I would tend to say yes I would want to do that. I’m not saying yes, but I think I would want to,” Revels said Friday.

Commissioner George Hanns was less committal about what role the commission should play. Personally, he said of the chamber’s decision, “I don’t necessarily agree with it. If that’s the case they shouldn’t allow any political groups in there, including the Democrats and the Republicans.”

What Lawyers Say

Legally, there are different views on the chamber’s rights. The chamber is renting Princess Place from the county for the two-day festival. As a private renter of a public space, the chamber does have more say than the county would to set parameters on who uses the grounds, three lawyers said, but they disagreed on the extent to which those parameters apply.

“The fact that they’ve allowed the chamber to have a private event may have given the chamber a right to say no, to control the content of their activity,” Sid Nowell, Bunnell’s city attorney, said, “but I think the fact that it is dedicated public property outweighs the right of the chamber to restrict the content on the property.” Speaking as a government attorney, he said, “If you’re going to allow anybody on there, any party on there to spread whatever their political message is, then you have to allow everybody, you can’t pick and choose what message you want to be heard on public property.”

Kevin Wimberly, a private practice attorney with the Longwood-based Walters Law Group, which specializes in First Amendment law, said that if it was strictly a private event, the Creekside Festival, even on public land, gives the chamber the right to include some participants and exclude others—just as, for example, if a church held an event there and wanted to exclude atheists from participating. “The chamber is a private organization, and they’re not required to follow the first amendment,” Wimberly said. “The government would not be in the right to interfere with that private group’s internal rules.”

That said, Wimberly said, “this seems to be less a First Amendment legal issue and more of a common sense issue. If you’re going  to invite the main parties to your festival, you’re kind of making it a political issue even if you’re saying you don’t want it to be a political event.” From a common sense perspective, he said, “it just looks bad.”

Wimberly added another caution: if the county has a role in organizing the event, then the county’s imprint is in play—as is First Amendment law. It depends to what extent the county is involved.

The Chamber’s Costs and the County’s Involvement

Al Hadeed, the county commission’s attorney, was researching that very question Friday, saying that his legal opinion to the commission will depend on the extent of county involvement—including, for example, the use of county ambulance services, policing, county staff involvement, use of county equipment, what the promotional material says (none of it that’s been examined so far includes the county as a sponsor), and so on. Holland was particularly disturbed by the lack of clarity on public safety arrangements, though later in the day those arrangements became clearer, as did the chamber’s role: the county is not on the hook for any of those costs. The chamber is paying for policing, music, portable toilets, the ambulance, all the entertainment, and all the equipment.

It did not seem clear what sort of permits the chamber pulled for its special event. The absence of a permit where all event parameters would have been set out suggests that the county’s role is more direct than merely that of a landlord permitting an event at a distance. But the commission’s own actions may answer that question, since the commission is on record in each of the last two years as itself approving the festival and enabling the chamber to advertise with signs (which require a permit).

“If under the law our involvement is such that the First Amendment applies, then it’s our obligation to assure that the event is conducted in a way that complies with the first amendment,” Hadeed said.

Since Monday, there’s been somewhat of a scrambling within the administration to distance the county from Creekside, even though the county was involved in the planning of the event, in key respects, in ways that it usually isn’t with other events—including Carl Laundrie, the county communications director, attending planning meetings. But that involvement is nowhere near what it used to be when the county did, in fact, sponsor Creekside in its earliest days, back in 2005. These days, the chamber assumes virtually all but a few costs.

Commissioner Nate McLaughlin, who was staunchly against the chamber’s actions when the matter was brought to the commission’s attention Monday, reversed course Friday, saying that legally the chamber was within its rights. The issue for him, he said, was whether the county was a co-sponsor of the event. He said he was under the impression that it was, but that he’s since been told otherwise. Laundrie’s involvement, he said, was on a voluntary basis—on his own time, not the county’s time—an assertion Holland ridiculed.

“Our Involvement Is a Little Bit More”

On Monday, Peterson asked Craig Coffey, the county administrator, specifically how the county was involved, “other than the fact that the county’s property is being utilized.”

“Every event in our county parks,” Coffey replied, “the county is involved. For example, we had a lacrosse tournament a few months ago, and our only involvement, our only fee collection was to offset costs, but we were involved in the planning, but only the outside, because we’ve got to plan for the garbage pick-up, cleaning the restrooms and all that stuff. Here our involvement is a little bit more, we do have a staff member that attends, because it’s a bigger event, so we’re a little bit more involved in this event than we would in a normal event. I’ll just say that. We have another event at Princess Place like the month after called Pangea. Pangea is a tourism-type event, they invite people from all over the country. Our involvement is just like any other event, we don’t dictate their policies and who they invite, and we wouldn’t want political people necessarily at that event. But they’re probably not allowing any political people, I would assume, at that event.”

The Gilyard flier about the planned Carver Gym concert that led county officials to stop the event. Click on the image for larger view.

Other matters are muddying the chamber’s decision and the county’s attempt to distance itself from the festival. Commissioners have wondered whether they have the legal right to decide what may or may not take place when an organization or an individual rents county space. In fact, the county had provided for Mardy Gilyard, the football star, to hold a night concert at Carver Gym the night before the Potato Festival (where Gilyard held a”field day” on the grounds near Carver Gym). But the county, acting on the sheriff’s advice, yanked whatever allowances had been made for the concert when officials deemed themselves uncomfortable about the promotional material Gilyard had sent out, and feared that those attending might have gang connections. (See the flier advertising the event to the right.)

In other words, the county has set precedent where it had endorsed a use of one of its facilities only to take back that allowance.

The chamber’s application for vendors or booths specifies that only four categories may apply: non-profits, handmade arts and crafts, retail arts and crafts, and food vendors. None of the political organizations granted a booth fit any of those descriptions: the Democratic, Republican and tea party organizations are not non-profit organizations by IRS standards: none has a 501-c-3 designation, nor can the Republican or Democratic organizations have that designation, since they overtly advocate for political candidates.

But they do fit under state non-profit status, Dan Parham, the head of the Flagler County Executive Committee, said, which may explain why they were permitted into the Creekside Festival. Parham disagrees with the chamber’s decision to exclude other political booths.

On Monday, Doug Baxter, the chamber president, said all candidates could have their campaign literature distributed at any of the booths. No longer: according to the chamber’s directive as of Thursday, Parham said, “they’re asking that we don’t have any campaign literature for any of the candidates and for the candidates not to work at our booths. So the party booths are going to be some dull places.”

The DeLorenzo Business

The main reason the chamber’s decision is raising a ruckus has as much to do with the First Amendment as with the appearance of favoritism.

Four candidates are running in two races for the Palm Coast City Council: Bill McGuire is facing incumbent Holsey Moorman in one, and Jason DeLorenzo is facing Dennis Cross in another, for the open seat being vacated by Mary DiStefano. DeLorenzo is married to Rebeccca DeLorenzo, vice president of the chamber. The chamber’s decision looked like a sweet deal for DeLorenzo, who, as of earlier this week, anyway, could have had his campaign volunteers at the Democratic booth or his campaign material there, in accordance with chamber allowances.

Now that that’s changed, DeLorenzo said Friday afternoon, no candidate could be seen to have any leg up on any other, “because we’re all in the same boat. None of us can be in the party booth and none of us can have our own booth so it doesn’t help one candidate, we’re all together.”

DeLorenzo himself is asking his volunteers to wear DeLorenzo campaign shirts and visit Creekside. DeLorenzo will be on the clock both days, working at the Home Builders Association’s Green Expo (he is the association’s legislative affairs director), a large spread at the Creekside Festival. Will he be wearing a DeLorenzo shirt? “I would anticipate yes, but I am on the clock so I would have to check with the board.”

One way or another, in other words, DeLorenzo will be in a high-traffic area, a mega-booth of sorts, interacting with people coming to him—presumably to talk about green matters, as opposed to politics—as opposed to candidates walking around hoping that people will listen to them. The set-up inevitably carries on some appearance of advantage that would have been eliminated if the chamber followed through on a majority of commissioners’ original proposal on Monday: to provide for a non-partisan area where any of the council candidates can distribute what they please and speak with whomever they please.

In the Chamber’s Defense

In a statement defending the chamber’s actions Thursday, Lea Stokes, the chamber board’s chairwoman, noted the chamber’s sponsorship of political forums (its August forum for the city elections, in conjunction with local realtors and home builders, was the best attended of any this season) places the chamber squarely on the side of educating voters, contrary to criticism about doing the opposite at Creekside. And even there, the limitations are few.

“All candidates running for city council are invited to attend Creekside Festival and to bring their friends and families,” she said. “However, we ask them to leave campaign signs, literature and canvassing behind so they, like all our guests, can enjoy what makes the Creekside Festival one of Flagler County’s most popular traditions: family fun, great food, live music, arts & crafts, and more in a picturesque, natural setting.”

For now, and putting aside the chamber’s jiggering of the rules again subsequent to its decision Thursday, commissioners have been taking criticism for the chamber’s action, and will likely continue to do so. “They’re making the commissioners who reluctantly feel that they are required to accept the chamber’s position pay a political price,” Peterson said. Yet he defended the chamber’s right to stick to its original decision, if it was on firm legal ground, and even if he, personally, objects to it. “If I think it is philosophically and legally permissible, then I think as an elected official I have to pay that price.”

But Peterson agreed with Holland that the case opens the door to revisiting the county’s special events policy.

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75 Responses for “Disbelief and Legal Maneuvers Meet Chamber’s Refusal to Budge on Creekside Exclusion”

  1. Good Grief says:

    it’s not a political rally it’s a family festival. if the politicians want to walk around and annoy people that’s their freedom pf speech and they have done it plenty at past festivals but I don’t see any reason that the COC should change their long standing rule of no political booths. I for one am sick of all this political bickering and am looking forward to the festival for what it is A FAMILY OUTING at one of the most beautiful places in Flagler. please don’t ruin by all your posturing. you’re all a bunch of self absorbed egotists.

  2. THE AMERICAN says:


  3. Good Grief says:

    Just let them have an “Independent” Booth, and the Independents, or non-partisans, can split the cost of the booth. Easy enough! Why on earth are they making this so much more difficult than need be? Not to mention the time and probably money being wasted on it!

  4. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    I think Mrs Wimberly said it best, “this seems to be less a First Amendment legal issue and more of a common sense issue.” Legally I think the chamber can probably restrict the candidates, and are either of the two really going to go to the trouble of filing a suit to demand access? But why does the Chamber want all of this fuss… just let all the candidates attend and be done with it. I recall a few years ago there was a Fair Tax booth with people advocating and lobbying for the Fair Tax (I was one of them!), did that make the festival any less enjoyable? I doubt it.

  5. tulip says:

    Well–isn’t this decision just wonderfully convenient for DiLorenzo. I have never in my life seen such a decision as this one and I am most disillusioned about the Chamber of Commerce and it’s officers.

    If I were a candidate I would be abhored at the COC’s discrimination and attitude. The time I was at the Creekside festival I was never accosted by any candidate, so I don’t understand why this decision has been made, except maybe to give DiLorenzo a privileged “boost” in his campaign.


  6. Sarah White says:

    Roger said it best….

    Thank you for keeping it about families and not politics!

  7. Ralph says:

    Very convenient for DeLorenzo. He’ll be in builder’s booths all over the festival. Non-profits? How are the builders considered to be non-profits? Will he be painting? Playing music?

    Why not just appoint him to the council? You’ve already put him on the planning commission.

    Sorry, but this one reeks. Policial corruption at its finest.

  8. PJ says:

    elections, campaining at events like state fair or county fairs and events like creekside are simply expected. The chamber? They have time to spend on such a foolish thing. They are supposed to spend more time on business. Politics is BIG business I think?

    Unless of course the chamber now runs ALL business! Wake up chamber they print flyers, signs and help with the local economy even if it is annoying to some……… DeLorenzo who ? Oh that’s right the guy with volunteers with his campain shirts on.

    HMMM this is ok to do because his wife is the President of the chamber. That’s how i read it!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. JR says:

    Well then, hello, if it is a common sense issue — and it very much seems to be — than the County Commission should butt its head out. if the Chamber of Commerce is renting the facility, than they have every legal right to oversee its use. And as far as the IRS is concerned, the answer is right there — the State of Florida considers political associations not-for-profit. The IRS is irrelevant.

  10. MC says:

    How are the builders non-profit? Somebody tell me that, please. did I miss something here?

    If two men have upset the apple cart, seems to me this county has much to hide. If you don’t want politics there, then you should ban all signs, campaign shirts, Republican, Democrat and Tea Party tents.

    Otherwise this is a blantant Chamber/Commission power play. And it’s an ugly one. A five year old can see what is behind this.

  11. palmcoaster says:

    I spoke today with some residents that will not attend this years festival given this issue unless BOCC over rules the Chamber. They are waiting the results.
    @PJ . Rebecca DiLorenzo is the Chamber Vice.

    @JR. Not legal right, on our public land….have them move the Event to Ginn’s or Thunder Gulch or else, if they want to discriminate. Then there they can do it.

    Lets do all we can from now on, against this Chamber political controls.

  12. tulip says:

    I would think the County Attorney would be looking into all the legalites– especially the County’s legal rights, and that could take some time.

  13. palmcoaster says:

    County Attorney Al Hadeed says that the amount of involvement of the county “as per his interpretation” may render a violation or not of the First Amendment…Well the involvement is big enough just by leasing the location. Isn’t that big enough the land 1,400 acres where is to be held, being public land?
    Lets do not forget that Mr. Hadded was instrumental on letting go the “first right of refusal” when the original ITT Water Utility was offered to be sold to us (then as an unincorporated city) under Flagler County jurisdiction. His advise to then BOCC then was that we would not want to confront the big legal team of Florida Water that wanted to purchase the utility as well. BOCC then follow the bad advise and let go the utility that we could have bought under or around 20 million from ITT, after over 30 years of service to Palm Coast. Then in 2002 about 6 or 8 years later the newly incorporated City of Palm Coast had to fight for it and bought it at 89 million, take it or leave it. Otherwise we will be fighting on rate increases to the potential owners in the Florida Panhandle funded by Wall Street hedge funds .Coincidentally all of the sudden then the County was interested on buying in it also. Peculiarly some of our local government lawyers at times have a strange way to interpret the law. To me illegality rounds up the denial from the Chamber and there is no need of years of law school to verify it.

  14. John Galt says:

    The light has been shined on the local corrupt crony-capitalism which is a micro version of the one in Washington. Like cock roaches exposed to the light the local elites are scurrying to protect their dark kingdom. They have been grooming Mr. DeLorenzo (a paid lobbyist for one of the controlling Chamber organization) to be anointed Councilman. With his wife as Chamber VP it’s a “sure thing” especially with faux Tea Party “leaders” Tom Lawrence and Jim O’Connell (also former Chamber officers) advising and supporting his campaign. Sound like miniature Washington, Chicago, etc.?

    Who is John Galt?

  15. Andy says:

    Good for the Chamber for sticking to their guns. The county is overstepping their bounds. What’s next… Are they going to tell me that if I want to rent the cottage for my wedding, are they going to tell me I have to invite certain people? No, its not their decision. It is not a county run event.

  16. tulip says:

    This situation was brought TO the BOCC by some of the candidates/managers. So now the BOCC has to look into this matter via Mr. Hadeed, as this has never occurred before.

    Creekside is a PUBLIC event on public property owned by the county, therefore the rules would be different than if a private party were to have a wedding, or anything else that would only have private members attending.

  17. MC says:

    Sticking to their guns? Their getting away with fraud and the county is helping.

    Don’t hold your wedding in a taxpayer funded park; hold it on private property. Too bad these guys dont have the money to sue. I’d pay to see that.

  18. MC says:

    Send out invitations and call it a chamber fundraiser for delorenzo with public money because thats what it is.

    Lets all quit the BS and be honest here.

  19. THE AMERICAN says:

    John Galt you are correct. Tom Lawrence sure does give the Tea Party a BLACK EYE!. The
    chamber of commerce should be thrown out with the united nations. They surely are not working in the
    city or counties best interest and all the commissioners are in bed with them. Tax Payers wake up before
    it is too late. The BOCC certainly are not working in your best interest. Check your Constitution, Bill McGuire has every right to be at Creekside, he has the right of the 1st Amendment, and the Chamber has no right telling any citizen OR TAX PAYER what they can or cannot do. County Commissiioners have you ever read the Constitution?

  20. Chamber Member says:

    The best we can all do at this time is attend the BOCC meeting on Oct 3rd. Have your voice heard and let the BOCC make the decision for us. That’s why we voted for them. Let’s show that we support the Flagler Board of County Commissioners and hope that we can sway thier vote to correct this issue. Remember, alot of the Chamber members live out of the area and and are not registered voters in Flagler County. Therfore, they have no say in the matter.

  21. THE AMERICAN says:

    Have any of you ever thought why the chamber of comnmerce and the BOCC do not want Bill Maguire and Dennis Cross at Creekside. It is because they are taking the wind out of DeLorenzo’s sails. Palm Coasters do you want an extention of Washington in your city?

  22. palmcoaster says:

    Good idea Chamber Member… We had to show up at the City of Palm Coast redistricting so Mr. Cross will no be out of this campaign what would have left DeLorenzo automatically seated as a city councilman and WE WON. Now they come up with a new trick. Oh boy these developers are at it!

    Lets please do no rely only on the advise of the county attorney?

  23. Dudley Doright says:

    In a word…Pathetic!

  24. PJ says:

    Palmcoaster thanks for the clearfication , your correct but in the reality of it all Vice President, President, chairperson of the board whats the difference?

    We all still got the same effect, and that’s how I see it!!!!

    P.S. I’m not attending and neither are my 11 family memebers….until a more positive change.

  25. Will says:

    Put on the brakes folks, please.

    Although candidates want to work any crowd they can, there are some places where too much politicing really turns people off. People at Creekside include many from out of Flagler County, and with a city election, there will be many Flagler County residents there from outside of Palm Coast who don’t want to be bothered by city election candidates.

    There’s really no political gaming going on here. I realize people who look for a conspiracy in every shadow won’t agree, but a lot of volunteers are working to have this year’s event be one for music, arts and crafts, & good food in a beautiful setting. Not everyone wants electioneering 24/7.

  26. Jim J says:

    Very convenient for DeLorenzo.

    How stupid of the Chamber – guess what I always go to the festival, but unless the Chamber changes. I will not be attending this year and will advise all my friends to boycott it as well.

    Way to go Chamber for reuining a good event

  27. Dudley Doright says:

    Do you think that this tactic may just backfire on Mr. DeLorenzo? Might also hurt Chamber future and current membership. This is just a major embarrassment for our community…one big black eye! Just what we need to help attract our corporate recruiting efforts. Well done COC.

  28. mamamia says:

    Everything this Chamber does is political control of the people here. if you don’t realize that you are late to the game. This entire election is about putting the lobbyist for the builder’s on the council. He is already on the planning commission, like a creeping vine. Money talks loud here.

    This is why these candidates are being banned.

    The commissioners are supporting delorenzo. Even the Tea Party is supporting delorenzo. It’s a done deal. You gonna get him wether you want him or not, a lobbyist on the council.

    Why vote?

  29. Jim N says:

    I think the county not only has the duty, but the authority in this case to require the chamber to ammend it’s rule to come into compliance with federal and state laws.
    You see the Chamber accepted direct tax payer funds. 12,500 in 2007/08, 12,500 in 2008/09, 0 in 2009/10,and 1000.00 this year in 2010/11. Acceptance of these funds requires the Chamber to operate in compliance with all state and federal laws.

    It is too bad our County attorney forgot about the funding when stating his opinion.

  30. Nick D says:

    You know, I read some of these posts and I keep seeing comments like;

    “…chamber of commerce and the BOCC do not want Bill Maguire and Dennis Cross at Creekside.”


    “Check your Constitution, Bill McGuire has every right to be at Creekside, he has the right of the 1st Amendment, and the Chamber has no right telling any citizen OR TAX PAYER what they can or cannot do.”

    No one (the Chamber or BOCC) has told Mr. Cross or Mr. McGuire they are not allowed to attend the festival. They are being told they can not rent a booth. Just as I would not be allowed to have a Nickolas Davis booth; I’m not an individual selling food, signing (God know you would not want me to), making a craft, and I’m not registered as a non-profit organization.

    I guess my question would be; if they where not running for office would they be attending the festival? If not…well…then they are the ones making this political.

    No one is stopping or telling them they can not attend.

    Jason DeLorenzo (again someone I do not endorse or support) will be there working for his employer; The Flagler Home Builders Association. Now if they allow him to wear his campaign shirt that is their right as a private organization and is a discussion for their membership and board of directors; not the general public. I would hope since he is there to represent the FHBA he would not be wearing any campaign material.

    I will be attending the festival (not in a booth) just as I hope Mr. Cross and Mr. McGuire will be. And although I’m not running for office I would not mind speaking to some of you; that’s if your willing to step out from behind your made up names on here and stand behind your comments.

    Hope to see you all at the BOCC meeting on October 3rd.

  31. Patrick Kelly says:

    First let’s get the facts straight. The Chamber is not excluding two candidates. NO candidates will be permitted to purchase booth space. Nobody is handicapped and nobody is given an advantage. The Chamber is adhering to a policy that it has had since 2008. Why is it only now an issue, because two candidates (out of four) want to have booths? It is really rather sad that so many want to see controversy and conspiracy where none exists.

    The free speech issue is BS. If NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association – yes it really exists) wanted to rent a booth, should the Chamber have to let them?

    If any of you are true people of conviction, put your name(s) behind your words. The truth is that your candidates of choice aren’t getting their way, and you are acting like spoiled children throwing a tantrum.

    This is my opinion & mine alone. I am not representing the Chamber’s view in this post.

  32. Chamber Member says:

    I concur Mr. Doright……..A major black eye for our community. I’ve been a member of the Chamber since 1989. I don’t know if I can continue being associated with them, in light of thier decision.

  33. Citizen says:

    Could the problem here be that only two candidates wanted a booth?

    I’m willing to bet you that the festival will be packed with people wearing shirts supporting their candidates, probably more than would normally attend now. Maybe the festival should have been scheduled AFTER the election in stead of right before? Then you wouldn’t be dealing with this at all.

    If you don’t want that, you’re going to have to ban it ALL. No political booths, shirts, signs, emblems of any kind.

    That is a policy the public would understand and support. That would be the right thing to do.

    What is so terribly difficult about all this?

  34. palmcoaster says:

    Patrick you are the Immediate Past Chairman of the Chamber now, prior to Lea Stokes. As such you spoke against us, the citizens of this county and you are wrong.
    We have the choice to revel our ID’s or not as witch hunting is well and alive in this county, not for the elite circle, only for the others, specially if local small business owners obviously.

  35. No whining zone says:

    Hey! Novel idea. In the interest of harmony and the public’s interest, why don’t the guys who have the booths offer their opponents some space and then the public who are interested in talking can get immediate feedback. I know I’d be more likely to vote for a politician who cares about “fairness” and “inclusiveness” and might give a chance to those who have less.

  36. The American says:

    Mamamia, you are absolutely correct, but wrong about him getting in and why vote. With your blog and
    mine hopefully we are trying to give our honest opinions and the tax payers of Palm Coast will see through
    the dishonesty and corruption. They have to spread the word and tell their friend about NPA people that are running. BILL McGUIRE and DENNIS CROSS. Never take a defeatist attitude.

  37. The American says:

    Citizen, the 1st Amendment says, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
    prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the FREEDOM of speech, or of the press, or the right of
    The people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for the redress of grievanances.

  38. PJ says:

    Patrick Kelly I can’t believe you would use NAMBLA a pig group of low lives. Politics is not the same. Politics may offend some but that other gorup offends every. No rights for them.

    Now lets look at the facts the creekside event is before the election and in reality is not a big deal to let polticians walk among the people that’s how we know who they are. Bad choice and leads me to suspect a delorenzo un-fair gain on one leg up on the compettion.

    Kelly your too well know in the politics of Flagler you should have picked a better example to make your point.

  39. MC says:

    Palmcoaster: There were people from the chamber at that redistricting hearing.

    Nobody is going to convince me this is accidental. Nobody.

  40. SAW says:

    Our County Commissioners should immediately move not allow any political campaigning in any of our parks, after all our residents, family’s etc. go there to enjoy ourselves, to relax, and get away from that B.S.
    Please commissioners, do your job, don’t exhibit Chamber Fear !

  41. conspirator2011 says:

    My conscience is forcing me to come forward.

    In February of this year I attended a clandestine meeting at a remote location. Present were representatives from the Chamber, Association of Realtors, Home Builders Assoc., CIA, NSA and former members of the Nixon administration. Rumors had been spreading that Dennis Cross, unable to get reelected to the Grand Haven CDD Board, had set his sights on a larger prize – the Palm Coast City Council. We Elite Few who control this county did not want to see an independent-thinking man such as Cross cut into our power base.

    The plan that was hatched was beautiful in its simplicity – we would have Dennis Cross redistricted out of contention. That would almost surely result in our boy DeLorenzo cruising to victory, or better, running unopposed. The plan would have worked had PC City Council members not caved to Mr. Cross’ righteous indignation, and that of his fervent supporters.

    We lost round one, but we would continue to work behind the scenes in our desperate attempt to maintain our control & power. Our last, best hope was to deny Messrs. Cross and McGuire from setting up shop at the Creekside Festival and spreading word of their campaigns to wrest power away from the Elite Few.

    After reading the posts here, I realize how wrong I was to be in league with these tyrants. I cannot reveal my identity for fear of retribution, but I hope that revealing this dastardly plot will help me sleep at night.
    Godspeed Dennis Cross, and may your righteous justice rain down on the Elite Few.

  42. palmcoaster says:

    Move this festival and give it to the staff and volunteers of the Agricultural Museum. Princess Place, Flagler Beach Museum, Palm Coast Historical Society, Friends of the Washington Oaks to set up, manage and run and as well keep the much needed profit, other than the Chamber. Perfect Solution. We the local other 90% bussinesses none Chamber members in this county will sure contribute more to the event in this way.
    No more private entities “with a political agenda benefiting a circle of exclusive elite”, using our public lands for their profit.

  43. Patrick Kelly says:

    @PJ The best way to highlight the absurd is through absurdity. But apparently you are comfortable with deciding who can and cannot rent vendor space at Creekside (NAMBLA out, candidates in). If you can decide, why can’t the Chamber (who is organizing the event) decide what kind of vendors are allowed?

    If candidates were allowed, the next accusation would be that Jason DeLorenzo was given a better space than the other candidates, or some other such nonsense. By precluding ALL candidates, the Chamber is being even handed.

  44. Ella says:

    If the NPA can’t have a booth then NO groups should have a booth. I am proud that the BOCC sees something wrong with this set up. Folks, if you really have these kinds of issues with our leaders, GET OUT AND VOTE! Make a difference. Get your friends, neighbors and even strangers involved. It is the ONLY way this is going to change!

  45. Ralph says:

    Patrick Kelly:

    You may be right. But as long as any campaign entity is there….repubs, dems or tea tards, shirts, slogans, signs, brochures of any kind, etc., nobody is going to believe you.

  46. John Galt says:

    Patrick Kelly, your Chamber association is really coming through verifying what those objecting to this heavy handed support for Mr. DeLorenzo (the chosen one). I am sure he will NOT mention even once in his 2 day at Creekside overseeing 20+ booths that he is a candidate. Not one booth but 20+ and he gets to be paid campaign. Is this a great country or what

    Will, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s probably a duck. Conspiracies do exist and most of us who are not blinded by Chamber loyalty know what’s going on in PC and Fllgler County – it ain’t pretty. Believe it or not we don’t wear tinfoil hats either.

    Who is John Galt?

  47. Layla says:

    “The set-up inevitably carries on some appearance of advantage’…….

    Ya think?

  48. Donna says:

    People, people people…. our country’s greatness was founded on the fact we had our 1st amendment rights… Now please remind ourselves on how many state and county fairs our then candidate Abraham Lincoln attended? Since the beginning of our nations history, public campaigning has been around. No better way to expose yourself as a candidate is at these public functions. Shake hands and ask for the people’s vote is how our country’s political system has been operating for many, many years. We are so quick to say that this “may offend” some people. This political correctness is destroying our democracy. NOT being able to shake hands with a candidate that is running for office offends me. Not being able to put a Christmas tree in a public place offends me. Christmas seems to offend some people, but not when it comes time for their “Christmas bonus”. Oh wait, lets correct that. “Holiday Bonus.” When will it all end? The Chamber is wrong on this.

    It appears that they want to stifle and suppress some certain candidates. Yes it does. However, I do believe that this will sink DeLorenzo’s candidacy. Too bad that his wife was a part of that decision making.

  49. Hank Rearden says:

    Patrick Kelly, your comment: “If any of you are true people of conviction, put your name(s) behind your words. The truth is that your candidates of choice aren’t getting their way, and you are acting like spoiled children throwing a tantrum.” is laughable at best.

    If we all had a WNZF microphone every week to join Brian McMillan in denigrating and attacking with a condescending and arrogant attitude those who dare write letters critical of the Chamber to Brian’s “Obscurer”, then we would feel free to engage in open and honest dialog. Your radio spot skewering anyone who objects to the policies of the local power structure is just more evidence of its existence. Keep it up.

    Who is John Galt?

  50. palmcoaster says:

    Appearance of bias …only?
    And the BOCC is waiting for the October 3 meeting for a desition that should have been taken a week ago? Isn’t this Creekside festival schedule for October 8th? This darn local pre-elections campaigns are all rigged now! Shame!

  51. vincent liguori says:

    People A Correction: The Tea Party is not and does not support any candidate!

  52. The American says:

    Does it seem to you all that we have the Washington progressiveness leaching into Flagler County?? People, please read all about AGENDA 21, is a program run by the United Nations related to sustainable
    Development and was introduced in 1992 at the UN Rio Summit, the planets first summit to Discuss global warming related issues. It is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by
    Organizations of the United Nations System, Government, and Major Groups in every area in which humans
    Impact the environment. “Sustainable Development” has become the popularized expression of AGENDA 21
    A few of these sustainable developers objectives are: The end of national SOVEREIGNTY, The abolition of
    PRIVATE PROPERTY, The restructure of the family unit, Increasing restrictions and limitations on mobility
    and opportunity, Human beings are to be concentrated into HUMAN SETTLEMENT ZONES, IRRIGATION –
    Unsustainable, Grazing of live stock – Unsustainable, Farmlands – Unsustainable and much much more. This
    has and is leaching into our county. Be very careful of your Chamber of Commerce and some of your
    County County Commissioners. They have their agenda and they are not in the CITIZENS best interest!!!

  53. Patrick Kelly says:

    @Hank Rearden (or is it LH?): Hank Rearden would never have hidden behind an obscure screen name. If you are truly confident in your beliefs and/or opinions, you shouldn’t care what others think or say. If you actually listened to my radio program you would know that I criticize the “local power structure” as much as, if not more than, anyone else. The difference is that my criticism of politicians, beaurocrats and advocates is based on their policies, actions and words – not pure conjecture about conspiracies that don’t exist.

    Here is a prime example of conjecture: MC posted

    “Palmcoaster: There were people from the chamber at that redistricting hearing.
    Nobody is going to convince me this is accidental. Nobody.”

    I can’t recall who else was there “from the Chamber” (there was no Chamber staff present), but I was at the 2nd meeting of the Redistricting Commission so I could be informed so as to discuss it on the radio. Because of this, MC (another brave sole criticising in anonymity) takes this as proof that somehow the Chamber controlled the process. I even had Dennis Cross on my show that week to talk about his predicament – but let’s not let facts confuse the situation.

    Here is an inconvenient fact – the PC City Council did not select the redistricting option that would have precluded Dennis Cross from running. If there had been an attempt by the Chamber to control the process it failed, so why all the wailing?

    I’m not sure why I’m even bothering here. Some of you want to believe in conspiracies, and are not open to the actual facts. But here they are anyhow: NO candidate running for office in a non-partisan election (which the PC City Council is) can associate with a political party. Therefore, the presence of the Democrat Club, the Republican Club and the TEA Party at Creekside does not create an advantage nor disadvantage to any one candidate. NO candidate can rent space as a vendor, therefore no candidate is at an advantage nor disadvantage. Anyone can attend the event. If a candidate wants to have a cadre of supporters don his t-shirts and walk around at Creekside, they are free to do so. If a candidate wants to show up and shake hands & kiss babies, they are free to do so (just like Lincoln did). The 1st Amendment does not guarantee anyone the right to be a vendor at any particular event. Can some sane person tell me how this policy is unfair and how anyone’s 1st Amendment rights are being violated?

    Disclaimer: All posts on this site are solely my opinion and do not represent the opinions of the Chamber of Commerce or any of its members or WNZF or its management or advertisers.

  54. palmcoaster says:

    Are you kidding me Patrick…? I was at the last meeting of the redistricting and there was Doug Baxter present on the right hand side seating about 3 or 4th row facing the council, no far from DeLorenzo, commissioner Peterson and others. I totally agree with Hank R. or whatever he wants to call himself. He is correct.
    Also Patrick you should be aware that many and some outstanding citizens but none in the elite circle in this community, think your commentary is totally slanted to one side. But after all, most media outlets are. Why should you be the exception?

  55. Chamber Member says:

    Mr. Kelly you speak of Mr. Rearden, I quote:
    “Hank Rearden (or is it LH?): Hank Rearden would never have hidden behind an obscure screen name.
    Yet you hide behind a disclaimer: I quote:
    “Disclaimer: All posts on this site are solely my opinion and do not represent the opinions of the Chamber of Commerce or any of its members or WNZF or its management or advertisers”.

    Whats up wit dat?

    If you choose to use a disclaimer for WNZF or it’s management or advertisers, I could accept that. Being “On The Air” with your comments, is your “freedom of speech”.

    Yet you defend the Chamber, in my opinion, when they are in a deliberate violation of Freedom of Speech. To also include the Chamber of Commerce in your disclaimer, brings to mind your history and show of favoritism with the Chamber. You are an officer/past officer of the Chamber and frequent most, if not all of thier functions. Is that not correct. Are you not “In the Know” so to speak. Were you one of the officers that voted not to “Budge” on thier (C of C) decision. Were you at that meeting and expressed your opinion?

    I on the other hand I am a paying member of the Chamber and an advertiser on WNZF and it’s affiliates. I do not attend any meetings of the C of C, I support them blindly….until this issue came up.
    I am also a veteran and know what fighting for our freedom is all about. If the Chamber puts any restriction of freedom of speech or uses any kind of discrimination towards anyone, They need to change thier ways.
    They are “Not For Profit” and to uphold that not for profit status, I believe they must uphold the laws of Florida and the Constitution of the United States. Is it worth the risk to loose that “Not for Profit” status, because they won’t allow a couple of candidates to have a booth? I don’t think so.

  56. The American says:

    Vincent Liguori, why don’t you ask the head of the Tea Party, Tom Lawrence and his buddy Jim O’Connell
    Past Chamber Buddies, who they are supporting this race? I am sure it is not Bill McGuire or Dennis Cross.

  57. The American says:

    Patrick Kelly, I can tell you how anyones 1st Amendment rights are being violated. First of all Princes Place
    Belongs to the TAXPAYERS OF FLAGLER COUNTY not the Chamber of Commerce or our County Commissioners. Our County Commissioners if they new our Constitution, the 1st Amendment protects us with FREEDOM OF SPEECH of which you can reference back in one of my blogs I wrote out the 1st Amendment. Bill McGuire and Dennis Cross have every right to be at Creekside. The County Commissioners should have had the intelligence to tell the Chamber anyone can participate instead of waiting until October 3 to discuss it at their meeting and come to a conclusion. Now the County Commissioners are spending tax payers money on attorneys for their interpretation. Can you not
    see this clear picture of how our county and the chamber conduct business?

  58. Linda Hansen says:

    Patrick Kelly: I haven’t the foggiest idea who here is posting as Hank Reardon, but I agree with him/her completely. You made an example out of me for simply writing a letter to the editor. I suggested to the editor that might make people reluctant to write; he didn’t seem to think so.

    I have first hand experience with being featured on your radio show. I know how it feels to be mocked on the radio. And I have to tell you quite honestly, I stopped listening to your show the very first time I heard you and Brian begin mockiing.

    And because I stated to you that I thought this chamber policy was unfair, you are now going after me again? You told me at that time that you are tired of people attacking the chamber, that you take that personally.

    You should not, unless you put this policy in place without thinking it through. Perhaps it is time to begin asking yourself why people are upset with the chamber?

    16 people spoke at that redistricting hearing. I understand you mocked that on the radio as well. Warning to anyone speaking up, you will be mocked.

  59. PJ says:

    BLAH, BLAH, BLah, the fact remains the chamber is slanted and for a good reason ask Mrs. DeLorenzo. The chamber thinks they are more powerful then they are and they try to make fools of the rest of us common folks with their non-stop bullying.

    Wake up chamber and start worring about the businesses not the politics and we will all be better off.

    Patrick Kelly you are entitled to your opinions. The problem is yout comment on FL seemed slanted. You may not realize it but ” that’s how I read it!”

    I still like your show keep up the good work…..

  60. Donna says:

    Here may be the reason why Patrick Kelly can mock, or stress any of his opinions in a free and clear manner. He is not held to the same standards as our political candidates are. Free speech is in his corner because of the business he is in. However, what would his opinion be, if he were regulated in such a manner. Here is a direct quote from Mark R. Levin, radio talk show host, and Constitutional Attorney:

    ” During the debates leading to the enactment of McCain-Feingold, Congressman Steve Chabot noted how the media was exempt from anit-corruption campaign reforms: “(Campaign finance) would ban corporatons, labor unions, social welfare groups and political groups from advocating issues important to them during specific times in campaigns, subjecting them to not only new speech restrictions, but also increased penalties beyond those imposed by current law. At the same time (McCain-Feingold) exempts the media.

    And so it does. The media is not regulated by campaign finance law-not that it should be, of course. Besides specifically protecting free speech, peaceable assembly, and petitioning the government, the First Amendment also singles out freedom of the press for protection. But interestingly, this is the only First Amendment right entirely exempt from McCain-Feingold’s reach.

    It is troubling to note that, with its own freedom preserved, much of the press rushed to embrace McCain-Feingold.”

    I love your radio show Patrick, however you out of anybody should understand the importance of us exercising our right to free speech.

  61. Billie Maher says:

    @ Chamber Member

    “They are “Not For Profit” and to uphold that not for profit status, I believe they must uphold the laws of Florida and the Constitution of the United States. Is it worth the risk to loose that “Not for Profit” status”

    The Chamber is a NFP organization? Then we should be able to report them and have them stripped of their NFP status. They are not deserving of taxpayers money.

    Isn’t the Homebuilders Association responsible for the overbuilding and subsequent glut of abandoned homes in PC that has our local economy in shambles? Now why on earth would we want Mr DeLorenzo’s business acumen involve in our government? Heaven help us all!

  62. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Linda for keeping us informed…as I first ever hear from you, that Patrick and Brian have become the local Rush Limbaugh/Fred Beck’s of this county, mocking the brave citizens that have the courage to take a stand for justice. That is why he is so adamant about people here revealing their ID’s. Sure they will go along with the elite circle against any business owned by any resident taking a stand for justice in any community/government business or in the media. I done that and suffer the consequences as I am not in the elite circle. Can’t wait to fully retire, then will sure find out about my ID. No other media source is as open informative and does so much for our community as Flagler Live now. Thank you again.

  63. vincent liguori says:

    To The American: Sir: Tea Party members are free to support whomever they desire.

  64. kmedley says:

    I attended the Sept. 19th meeting of the BOCC and heard Mr. Cross, Mr. Ruffle, Mr Caroe and Mr. Baxter speak to this issue. I also listened to the County Commissioners. My son was with me because he is working on his Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge. I thought this was a great item for him to focus on because it goes to the heart of our Republic and brings home the importance of the First Amendment. The genius of the Founding Fathers lies within the First Amendment, for it was designed to especially protect political speech. Speaking against the Crown was treasonous and an act of sedition. Our Founders wanted to insure We the People could speak out and hold our government accountable.

    What I find most troubling are the voices from whom we are not hearing. The Republican Club, Democrat Club and the Tea Pary should all be speaking in unisome to defend the solution put forth by Commissioner Revels, to have a booth labeled NPA. This would allow the candidates to meet and greet the electorate and it would satisy the Chamber’s issue of not wanting candidates to walk around and interrupt familes who do not wish to talk politics.

    I enjoy Creekside Festival and like many, I go to the booths that interest me. Those that do not capture my fancy, I simply walk by. It’s called choice and I suspect those that attend and do not want to include any political booth as a part of their family day will simply walk past all of the political booths.

    Political speech and even political discourse is good for this country and this community and given the abysmal voter turnout numbers, it seems to me if an opportunity presents itself that would help to educate and involve the electorate, we as a community should encourage such events.

  65. Linda Hansen says:

    Donna, in fairness to Patrick Kelly, he did invite me to go on his show as a guest to talk about about my letter and the election results with he and Melissa Holland and he was a perfect gentleman. Patrick does not have fangs and neither do I. I was reacting here when I saw him direct his comments at me once again.

    WNZF is a great station and a good and welcome addition to our community.

    I like his show, just not the mocking. Patrick’s show is on every Friday morning, 9-10am. It is called “Free For All Friday.”

    If you have never heard it, I would suggest you listen in. He also accepts calls during the program.

  66. Justice for All says:

    I got to witness Patrick Kelly’s bullying first hand at the League of Women Voters presentation on Amendment 4. What I thought should have been a neutral venue to listen to the facts turned into a spectacle. He asked for a show of hands on who thought they would support Amendment 4, and proceeded to berate those who raised their hands. So much for an honest discourse.

    I seem to recall WNZF logos on other public events in Flagler Beach and Palm Coast. Maybe it’s time to stop taking its sponsorship.

  67. Hank Rearden says:

    Patrick, you protest like the little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar! It’s easy to rant about the socialism coming from Washington through crony-capitalism like you do on the radio. But blinded by your own affiliation with the local “powers that be” (loosely centered on the Chamber and local elected officials) you along with faux Tea Party leaders Tom Lawrence and Jim O’Connell ignore the obvious same i/ssues in PC and Flagler County. It’s not a conspiracy but just the elites doing what is best for us ignorant masses.

    Who is John Galt?

  68. palmcoaster says:

    Some on the circle of elite in this county, lately housed, appointed/elected by the local Chamber, I see have the audacity to even mock or bully the residents that take a stand for justice taking advantage of their media control. Not only content attacking some of those residents businesses, but now even the none business owners as well?
    Maybe is time that more members leave this Chamber….honestly how many of you ever got a real benefit form the over $250/year membership? The money is used to exercise complete control in this county and its cities all in favor of the elite circle. No wonder I see several real business crooks, as officers. After all if you really pay as much attention as Mr. Murphy hotel owner here does to the none benefits his business receives from his TDC tax contribution, you will find that this Chamber probably works by outsourcing the services or products that your business needs to be successful at times.
    Maybe this local Chamber should be reported to the US Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington DC on their bias to these NPA or Independent candidates? After all their mission reads:
    ” As the voice of business, the Chamber’s core purpose is to fight for free enterprise before Congress, the White House, regulatory agencies, the courts, the court of public opinion, and governments around the world.” .

  69. Billy Bob says:

    Ban ALL political booths from the Creekside Festival and let them campaign elsewhere. Too simple?

  70. palmcoaster says:

    US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC copied on this issue today.
    Lets see if they will find a conflict and or may want to get involved and influence in a positive way their local branch. Lets hope for the best and fair resolution.

  71. Alex says:

    Chamber showed it’s true color.

    Chamber can handle/manage two parties.

    There is no room for independent candidates.

    We are no longer planning to go.

    Good work Chamber

  72. Boycott says:

    Is the Chamber another Flagler Enterprise/Enterprise Flagler…another unnecessary money pit? How does the Chamber benefit locals? What are the salaries of Baxter, DeLorenzo and other leaders of the Chamber? Is the Chamber funded with tax dollars?

  73. palmcoaster says:

    @ Boycott. The local Chamber is sustained supposedly with their member businesses fees I believe like over 250/year now. Also they have fundraiser’s like Creek Side Festival, The Taste of Flagler and monthly breakfast and other speaker’s gathering where they charge fees to attend. Chamber portrays that they contribute to scholarships with part of the fundraising funds and I seriously doubt it now. Would hope something to the contrary would be copied here so I would apologize then.
    They do receive some taxpayers monies “to outsource their publications” in all that media that you see around when County, City or TDC logo’s shown, that means tax payers monies were contributed , as is a requirement to do so. Their magazines, phone book, city and county promotions etc. For more detail need to ask Patrick Kelly here as is the Immediate Pass Chairman. Because as a private organization only the members are entitled to ask that information.

  74. Hank Rearden says:

    Vincent, as Americans we are ALL free to support the candidate of our choice. However when we voluntarily accept leadership roles in grassroots organizations such as the Flagler Tea Party, we should also be willing to support the values of that organization. Supporting a paid lobbyist to the PC Commission as a candidate for Commissioner would NOT seem to be in keeping with the stated Tea Party values. Would some Tea Party members please ask Tom Lawrence, Jim O’Connell, Vincent Liguori, & Anne Martone how supporting acceleration of crony-capitalism in PC squares with Tea Party values?

    Who is John Galt?

  75. The American says:

    Well written Hank.

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