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Holsey Moorman: The Live Interview

| November 6, 2011

Holsey Moorman (© FlaglerLive)

For background on the Live interview, go here. For the Bill McGuire interview, go here. And if you’d like to take the Palm Coast City Council election poll, or see those results, go here.

The Questions in Summary: Quick Links

Candidate Basics

The Candidate: Holsey Moorman

Date of Birth: May 18, 1938

Principal jobs: Principal jobs over the course of your career: Joined the Army as enlisted Combat Engineer. Attended Officer Candidate School. Assigned to officer positions from Platoon leader to brigadier general. Some of my key assignments were with Chief National Guard Bureau, Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (Army), Assistant Secretary of the Army, Secretary of Army and Deputy Adjutant General for the New Jersey National Guard.

Party Registration: Democratic Party.

1. Palm Coast has 18,000 undeveloped lots; the city has also approved four DRIs (Developments of Regional Impact) totaling 17,000 homes and 9 million square feet of commercial and industrial development. Set aside Flagler County’s and Bunnell’s own ambitions to grow, and assume, generously, that the housing market recovers reasonably well soon. First, was it smart to approve such an abundance of residential development in the rubble of the great housing crash. Second, given that abundance of approved developments, how is Palm Coast to avoid another damaging housing glut? Third, how are property values going to recover when, assuming the rules of supply and demand haven’t changed, that abundance of supply will naturally keep prices low?

These are your standard lots that not all purchasers may desire. The DRIs have a concept where the residents may desire to walk or ride their bicycles to shop, school, church or recreational areas, etc. Some of the lots may be large lots and not of the standard sizes. The DRIs will have workforce and age restricted housing. Please take into consideration that the developers came to the city and requested to be annexed. The property owner developed the plan and vision. The Northeast Florida Regional Council and Florida Department of Community Affairs approved the DRIs. These DRIs are plans for the future with a 25 to 30 year build out. All of this will be accomplished as the market dictates.

We heard that one before: “As the market dictates.” The market crashed, and conditions in Flagler were among the worst in the nation because policy makers, including you, approved developments without heed. How is that to be prevented in the next round? Where is the council’s role, if any, in tempering markets?

Jump to McGuire’s answer

2. What defines a great city—beyond its employees, its manager, its council, its great people and its beautiful medians—and what will you do (or, in Moorman’s case, what have you done) to make it so? Please give at least three specific examples within the scope of what’s doable by you as a member of the council. Also, give at least two examples of where Palm Coast is failing as a city, outside of infrastructural or economic issues.

Other than the areas that you have eliminated, I am involved in the community even though I may not represent the council. My activities reflect positively upon the city. I serve on four boards which include Florida Hospital Flagler Foundation, Florida Hospital Flagler Board of Directors, Community Partnership for Children, Flagler Board of Education African American Male Mentoring Program and Mount Calvary Baptist Church Trustee Board. The city is failing in the area of public relation due to the negative publicity that is being voiced by some sources. We must accentuate the positive and stop tearing down the city’s attempt to move forward.

The question goes to your abilities and effectiveness as a council members. You did not provide examples to that effect. The question also goes to what you see as two failings in the city. It seems the last thing the city’s PR machine can be faulted for is its absence or ineffectiveness.

Jump to McGuire’s answer

3. City Market Place, Roma Court, St. Johns Plaza, Palm Harbor Shopping center, Town Center: Every one of those commercial areas, old or new, is suffering from gaping vacancies or inactivity, or, in two of those cases, decay as well. If you’re the incumbent, this happened on your watch. What has the council done, and what can the council do, concretely rather than rhetorically, to improve matters, keeping in mind those 9 million additional square feet of commercial space in the city’s future?

The commercial areas that are referenced were there before my election to the council. The city government did not cause the national economic downturn. The City of Palm Coast Prosperity 2021 “Plan for growing our Local Economy” was developed to address these exact concerns. We have addressed these issues in our annual goal setting sessions. A couple of things we did was to reduce the permitting fees and revised the impact fee structure. Along with the Business Assistance Center, the above two items and the expediting of permitting process will ease the efforts of those persons attempting to do business in Palm Coast. As far as rental rates and landlord tenant relations, the city has no authority intercede in these matters.

Jump to McGuire’s answer

4. What have you done for culture lately? How have you supported the arts locally (beyond, say, signing your name to a proclamation or attending a show)? What have you done to support the arts as a member of the council, or what would you do as a member on the council? Palm Coast’s budget for the arts has been declining: $33,000 in 2009, $24,000 in 2010, and $20,000 budgeted for this year and next year. Why the decline, and should a city of this size be so stingy when it comes to the arts?

I have been a member of the Flagler County Art League, The NAACP and AACS for a number of years. I have supported the grant program to include advising the applicants that inquired of the proper application process. The monies were awarded based on prior years applications. The budget was reduced due to last year’s awards. If the taxpayers want to increase expenditures, they (not just applicants) must advise the city council of their desires by attending the budget workshops and council meetings.

Jump to McGuire’s answer

5. Palm Coast is already a consolidated city: it contracts with the sheriff for law enforcement services, in effect ensuring that it maintains the higher level of law enforcement services that it wants through that contract while avoiding the cost of a police department of its own. Would you support a similar model with fire and EMS services, if it was shown to save the city money?

Consolidating Fire and EMS with Flagler may save on your city portion of the tax structure, however, the firehouses and equipment have been paid for by the taxpayers and I would expect the county to reimburse the city for those expenditures. The salaries of the firefighters and EMS personnel would add to the county payroll. Considering the county will be adding these cost to your tax bill, may not save the taxpayers overall. If it would save on my total city and county taxes, I would give it favorable consideration.

Jump to McGuire’s answer

6. When and where will, or should, Palm Coast annexations stop? Would you support a Duval-like government for the entirety of Flagler County?

Palm Coast only annexes at the landowners’ request. Duval-like government is a county issue and can only be answered by the county commissioners.

The answer is incomplete: Palm Coast also annexes as a condition of extending utilities to residents outside of its boundaries. Again: understanding how the legalities of annexation work, when and where should Palm Coast annexations stop?

Jump to McGuire’s answer

7. The argument has long been that the city’s lopsided dependence on residential property taxes is unsustainable. Yet council members happily tout Palm Coast’s tax rate as the second-lowest in Florida, for cities Palm Coast’s size, while the administration recently put out a long list of accomplishments and council members repeatedly speak about the bang for taxpayers’ buck. Explain the contradiction.

The tax structure is overly dependent on residential taxes because we do not have sufficient commercial or industries. We do tout the fact that we have maintained the second lowest tax millage rate of a city our size. We have reduced the city budget by $8.1 million dollars in the past four budget cycles, reduced staffing by 26.59 units and have not sacrificed any services in the process. It was done by reorganizing the staff and consolidating some positions. I do not think there is a contradiction. We have maintained the required services with the same tax rate.

If no services were sacrificed, are you suggesting then that those 27 employees were redundant all those years? Why did it take an economic crisis to make the city more efficient. We were told at recent council meetings that capital projects and infrastructure improvements—as one example—took a serious hit for lack of funds.

Jump to McGuire’s answer

8. The Palm Coast City Council often appears to be in lockstep: unlike other local governments, dissent is rare, discussions and decisions, even in workshops, often appear pre-determined, and closed-door, one-on-one meetings with the city manager appear to play a large, and largely invisible, role in decisions. Please give us your assessment of council dynamics and transparency.

I can’t speak for other council persons; however, I do my assessments and homework prior to the workshops and council meetings. I talk with staff and get clarification on issues. I am not a loud mouth that talks to be heard or impress anyone. I speak when necessary for me to get an understanding for my own decision-making. I have one on one with the city manager periodically but not to determine how to vote. As a matter of fact, I feel that I do not meet with him as frequent as I should. I have been complimented because of the lack of dissent and in-fighting that goes on in the council. Being a member of the council is a pleasure due to the civility that is exhibited.

Jump to McGuire’s answer

9. Please give us your assessment of race relations in Palm Coast, where improvements are needed, and what you’ll do to push those improvements along.

Race relations in Palm Coast is acceptable. I have lived in the north and south. People have different prejudices that show themselves in different ways in different situations. During economic hard times as we are in currently, people act out of fear that one group is taking something that they might think is their entitlement. We all have a right to live, work and play in a safe and peaceful environmental without a regard for race, religion or national origin. Palm Coast is just like any other place in the United States; no better or no worse. I will continue to treat everyone with respect and would expect to be treated the same.

Jump to McGuire’s answer

10. Give your assessment of the city manager’s and the council’s handling of the renewal of the city’s garbage contract. Explain what and how you would have done things differently. If you’ve accepted any contributions from any garbage haulers, cite how much and from which company, and explain how you don’t see that as a conflict of interest, given the timing.

Being that hindsight is 20/20, I think I would have put it out to Request For Proposal (RFP) the first time around. I have not been contacted by any garbage haulers and if I had, I would not accept any contributions. My personal view is, it would be a conflict of interest if I were to be elected to the council and expected to vote on a contract.

Jump to McGuire’s answer

11. What makes for an effective council member, what makes for a lousy council member? Give examples of both and rate or evaluate yourself.

An effective council member is attentive, studies the agenda, researches, ask questions, makes decisions that have a favorable impact on a majority of city voters and responds to all voters without regard for the district of residence. A lousy council member is a person that is only interested in self, showing favoritism to special interest person or groups, speaking to show how knowledgeable they might be and missing many meetings. I would rate myself as a seven out of ten or a work in progress.

Jump to McGuire’s answer

12. Evaluate Jon Netts as mayor. Understanding that no one is perfect, what more would you like to see of him as mayor?


Jump to McGuire’s answer

13. Evaluate City Manager Jim Landon’s performance in your view, citing strengths and weaknesses. His total compensation package is close to a quarter of a million dollars. Is that appropriate for a city this size the city weren’t under budget constraints, would you give him a raise?

I think Mr. Landon is doing a good job for the city of Palm Coast. He only has the interest of Palm Coast at heart. He works tirelessly seven days a week. His number one concern is the welfare of the city, the residents and its staff. He is very knowledgeable about city, county and state issues. He has very little patience for self centered, lazy and ineffective persons that may put their interest ahead of the city’s. His compensation package is not one quarter of a million dollars. His base salary is $168,000 and overall taxable compensation for 2010 was $183,001.02. His salary package is in the middle of the rage for cities our size with a city manager form of government. His raise would be based on the council’s evaluation and budget considerations.

[Note: the figures about Landon’s compensation package are inaccurate. It does not reflect deferred and other forms of compensation, which do push the total package to close to a quarter million dollars a year.]

Jump to McGuire’s answer

14. With Frank Meeker’s exception, the council is made up of individuals well into retirement, working either part-time or not at all (council duties aside), and living off of pensions, Social Security, and government-subsidized health care. How are you representative of a majority of residents who don’t fit in that category (though a large portion do), and how can you relate to the unique issues and stresses facing working-age residents facing unemployment, foreclosure, lack of health insurance and other similar everyday strains?

With a majority of residents on pensions, social security and government-subsidized health care does not mean I can’t represent those persons younger than me. I hope that wisdom and experience has merit in representing the voters. My experience in the 2007 and this election has demonstrated that the younger voters are genuine and trusting. A recent Candidate Forum sponsored by the Young Professionals indicated that those in attendance were not fully aware of the election processes and issues confronting the candidates. I would encourage the younger voters to become more knowledgeable and involved. I can understand and sympathize with those enduring the hardships even though I am not experiencing the same.

Jump to McGuire’s answer

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8 Responses for “Holsey Moorman: The Live Interview”

  1. Dudley Doright says:

    Oh please Holsey, cut the crap about your military service. When you enlisted in the National Guard it was during a time when we had a draft. Most younmen joined the Guard or the Reserve to avoid the draft and possible service in combat. So, you stayed with the Guard as a “Weekend Warrior” never, ever seeing combat. Odd for a “Career Officer”! Oh, I forgot, your promotions were controlled by the New Jersey Governor and New Jersey Adjuant General. When I attended your debates and heard about your military accomplishments I was in awe……not about what you did, but the way you embelished it. You were just a staff officer pushing paper…be honest. In the profession of arms, officer’s lead in the field…not from behind a desk in Trenton, NJ.

    Now lets look at your record of performance as a city council member. Your attendance at meetings has been fair. Your knowledge of what the issues are is questionable. I think you said that you liked to be quiet. Could it be you had no clue? As a career military “Flag Officer” I don’t see you putting Landon in his place…ever! Seems to me that Landon’s one on one meetings is the way he manipulates you and you don’t even know it! If I understand the policy here. The City Manager works for you. Outward appearance shows you work for him as he gets his way. When are you going to put him in lockstep? I guess we won’t see as your too nice of a guy. One last thing “NICE GUYS FINISH LAST”!

  2. PJ says:

    Mr. Moorman,

    I voted for you the first time and thought with your vast military experience you were going to make a big diffenence you did seem to move things but now nothing. You seemed to get too comfortable and non-responsive. It even shows in your interview You have nothing to say that stands out. I do wish you luck and if you should get re-elected can you do your job and question what our city manager really does?

    I still don’t understand how you can run for office and say “being hindsight is 20/20” we should have put out a RFP? That’s your job but to question the city manager. $35m in contract just handed back to the current contractor, WHY? How are you doing your job? Better yet what the heck is Landon thinking?

    Then with poor advice like the garbage contract presented by Landon in this interview you still think this man should get a raise or at the very least he has earned the salery he gets. This is just pathetic!

    It’s this kind of thinking that should put you off the council. wake up sir and I do mean this literally!!!!!!!

  3. Layla says:

    I have to agree with PJ. Cannot vote for Mr. Moorman this time.

  4. Doug Chozianin says:

    Holsey Moorman is in favor of more spending and higher taxes. Enough said.

  5. Hazel says:

    Mr. Moorman, no matter how this election turns out, you are to be congratulated both for your lifetime military service and your service to our city.

  6. palmcoaster says:

    Holsey still got my vote!.

  7. Anon says:

    What has he done to deserve yours or others vote?

    And what does military service have to do with being a competent representative of the people’s interests?

  8. more rules are't the answer says:

    Holsey Moorman is just another northern liberal who believes high taxes and big government will solve everything. This New York/New Jersey code enforcement crazy mentality needs to go.

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