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Revels + 8 As Commission Appoints Economic Development Council, With Dash of Snub

| November 8, 2011

It's Revels Time: Barbara Revels will be chairing the county's two highest-visibility boards in 2012, coinciding with her presumed re-election campaign.

The Flagler County Commission finally set its economic development council’s membership. A list of 35 applicants, most of whom interviewed with each commissioner individually for a few minutes last month, was narrowed down to a short list of 10 from each commissioner before the panel voted on its final choices Monday morning in a swift anti-climax to nearly a year of gridlock and bickering over local governments’ direction on economic development.

The nine-member council will have seven men and two women, with Barbara Revels named chairman, though the court still beats the all-white council on racial diversity. The council’s business-background diversity is richer.

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Revels is in line to be chairman of the county commission for the first time when commissioners vote on the gavel’s next custodian later this month, making 2012 the year of Revels. A timely coincidence: Revels will be running for reelection, too. The higher visibility is double-edged. The county has raised expectations for itself and its economic development council, which will oversee an annual $400,000 budget, half of which will be spent on salaries. If council and county don’t directly produce jobs soon (as opposed to taking credit for job creation that would occur regardless), they’ll likely pay a heavy price in credibility (for the council) electoral chances (for the commissioners). Revels’s advantage is that she likely won’t be judged on the council’s Year One performance so much as its mere existence, with talk of learning curves pre-empting substantive accomplishments, though absence of some accomplishments beyond procedure will prove a tasty target for her challengers.

The establishment of the council—officially called the Economic Advisory Opportunity Council—almost ends nearly a year of maneuvering and posturing by local governments and business interests over the role of government in economic development. Enterprise Flagler, the previous economic development partnership between governments and the private sector, was abruptly disbanded when the county and Palm Coast pulled their funding. Palm Coast split off to do it on its own venture, primarily through a more surgical, low-cost approach in partnership with the University of Central Florida’s Business Assistance Center. Palm Coast only nominally recognizes the county’s economic council as the voice of the entire county. Flagler Beach and Bunnell aren’t sure how, precisely, they’ll be represented, as the nine-member board has no direct political representation from other governments.

The names aren’t exactly household stuff, and there was an undercurrent of tit-for-tat in the nominations. None of the county’s established business interests that reigned on Enterprise Flagler and at the series of county-wide summits on development earlier this year applied. It was an intentional snub in response to the county’s clumsy and graceless disbanding of Enterprise Flagler after that group had come up with an attempt to re-invent itself in a way palatable to the county’s intentions. The closest those interests came to the application pool was through recommendations for some of the candidates, but in the end even they were rejected. (See the original list of applicants here.)

Nevertheless the nominees reflect the county commission’s wish to bring in people with vast and varied experience in business development, with a focus on technology, marketing and government relations.

Here are those who did make it. The names are linked to each individual’s application to the post. Some of the candidates included their resumes, some didn’t.

Robert Cahill: He describes himself as a “supply chain professional with extensive experience in all aspects of demand planning, forecasting, inventory management, distribution, warehousing, and production planning for domestic and international operations,” including Oracle and Reebok. He’s been retired from that world since 2003, serving as a guardian ad litem (representing the interests of children going through the court system) and on the Adult Education Advisory Board. He’s from Palm Coast.

Wanda Clegg: Clegg submitted a skimpy, two-page application that merely noted her 12 years of formal education, her self-employment in agriculture for 23 years (Clegg Sod Farm) and her three references: Carla Taylor, the principal at Pathways, the school district’s alternative school, Trevor Tucker, the school board member, and Revels, who went to school with Clegg. Clegg is from western Flagler County.

Greg Federline: An electrical engineer and computer scientist with an MA from Johns Hopkins and continuing education credits from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, says in his pplication that it is “important to re-engineer the Flagler economy into a diversified engine that retains its strong tourism and construction sectors but no longer rises and falls with these sectors.” Federline led the U.S. Census Bureau’s technology department for this region for the 2010 Census. He’s been in the top management of several companies, including Hughes Network Systems, RadiSys and Mathech Inc. He was also a member of the Special Forces in the U.S. Army. He’s from Palm Coast.

Mike Gill: Other than Revels, Gill will be the only member of the council with elected-office experience. He served 13 years on the city council in Leawood, a small suburb of Kansas City, where he helped foster a mixed-use development that, he says in his application, has produced to date some 3,000 well-paying jobs. He was also instrumental in turning around the town’s bankrupt mall, personally traveling to Cincinnati to successfully woo Macy’s to Leawood and revive the mall. Gill is currently a senior executive with Accenture, the Fortune 500 management and consulting firm. He lives in Palm Coast but still works in Overland Park, Kans.

Paul Manning: A neighbor of Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts’s, Manning is a co-founder and director of Wireless Cable of Florida and Digital Wireless Cable, assembling “wireless cable channels covering nearly 1 million homes in Ft. Pierce, Sarasota, Pensacola and Tallahassee, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia,” according to his resume. He was a co-managing partner of a venture capital fund and led or managed communications companies. He has an MBA from Nova Southern University and divides his time between Ponce Inlet and Palm Coast.

Joseph Marotti: A self-employed consultant since 2007, Marotti has been a human resources executive for several companies, including Newell Rubbermaid of Atlanta, a 44,000-employee corporation, and American National Can Company of Evansville, Ind. “As an executive in a large corporation,” he wrote in his application, “one of my functions was to look for possible expansion sites for our businesses. I was required to contact and meet with the different politicians, both local and state, from the governor to the county and town representatives. I have a good basis for what the companies look for and the way they choose [an] area.” He lives in Palm Coast.

Jim Ulsamer: A member of the Flagler County library board with extensive involvement in local government issues—most recently and successfully as a member of the opposition to Ginn-Lubert Adler’s plan to build an oceanfront condominium and hotel at Hammock Dunes, which was blocked by the Florida Cabinet—Ulsamer is retired from Baker and Taylor, the Charlotte, N.C.-based distributor of books and media products (the world’s largest). He brings background in sales, marketing, operation, and distribution as well as customer relations at various government levels.

Frank Zedar: An ethics instructor with the Flagler Realtor Association—always handy in a place like Flagler—Zedar spent 20 years as an army officer and 25 years as a real estate broker. He works with ParkSide Realty in Flagler Beach and lives in Palm Coast, and blogs at Palm Coast Unplugged.

Commissioners held a mini-playoff between Clegg and Rick Fraser of the Center for Business Excellence, with Commissioner Milissa Holland insisting that Fraser had to be on panel and Revels, pushing for Clegg, and others noting that Fraser has pledged to be involved regardless. Holland conceded.

Next up for the council is the appointment of an executive director. The council will go through the dozens of applicants and make a recommendation to the commission, which will make the final decision. A meeting schedule for the council has not yet been set. Its meetings will be broadcast on cable and through the web, as are those of the Tourist Development Council.

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9 Responses for “Revels + 8 As Commission Appoints Economic Development Council, With Dash of Snub”

  1. Art Woosley says:

    Wonderful , so now that the commissioners have their much anticipated and well funded Economic Development Council up and running, we wish it luck. Maybe it is time to also create an “Environmental Council” a council that would better protect our counties special places, such as our very own “Tomoka Marsh Aquatic Preserve” for example.

    That council would require little to no funding, but would help protect at the very least our preserve from any further abuse, thereby allowing future generations to enjoy it. As some may know, the DEP’s failure to perform due diligence, has permitted non-compliant docks to be constructed within our preserve in violation of their own rules and regulations per. FAC 16-20.

    In the near future, this gross error could well be compounded by the much diluted manatee speed zones coming down the pike.

    If our commission is truly concerned about the wording and placing of these important manatee safety signs, they could step up to the plate and request that the FWC cover the entire length of our preserve with NO WAKE SHORE to SHORE signs.

    After all this preserve is not something new it was here when P.C. was a small village, it was designated back in 1969 by then Gov.Claude Kirk, and awarded this higher designation in order to better protect it. This of course was before the ever increasing and much larger boats, arrived on the scene.

    Correct signage is extremely important in the southern zone’s case, because these same long non-compliant docks, docks which by the way nobody at the county level appears much interested in, and appear reluctant to request that the DEP bring them into compliance ?

    These very same docks are placing the manatees at greater risk of injury or death, simply because they often travel in family groups back and forth between Gamble Rogers State Park, and the Mirror lake channel to the north near Marker # 21.

    To make that trip, they must use the main channel the ICW, and by doing so are then placed in much greater danger, this is the very reason the entire length of the preserve should have NO WAKE SHORE to SHORE signs nothing less..

    Certainly the boating lobby can go just a bit slower here, as the distance is not that far, and it is only a couple of months manatee season, we are talking about.

    As we do not have an environmental council in place, we can hope that our elected officials will do the right thing, and give OUR preserve the priority it deserves going into the future,so that all can enjoy this special place.

  2. John Ell says:

    Economic Advisory Opportunity Council with $400,000 to spend with half going for salaries. Hold on a minute, I thought that the nation and the world were going through severe economic crises. Nations are defaulting, banks are closing and this European crisis will be reaching our shores before long.

    Apparently, our County Legislature believes in the government lies and hype about good times just around the corner, otherwise why would the Commissioners have acted so irresponsibly in forming and expensively funding another fiasco organization? Is it any wonder that folks are disheartened, disgusted and hostil to see their hard earned taxes wasting away on such a folly. Let’s closely observe the results and achievements of this Council.

    It is hard to determine whether it is the air or the water or somehting else that is affecting the mentality of the Legislators in Flagler.

    John Ell
    Flagler Beach

  3. palmcoaster says:

    I totally agree with you John. This commissioners do not have the faintest idea about how to really promote ED. They are all wrap around the wasteful finger of Baxter and his elite group at the local Chamber, that is the biggest outsourcing of work and jobs entity in this county along with some government one’s like the schools and other private ones that we use a lot, like the local hospital as just one example of many . Other than wasting in all those salaries, should use those funds in real advertisement at national and international level as well. If Revels, that had tried already but unsuccessfully, will really look into the local government and other entities buying policies and our local generated contracts outsource in this county, if this outsourcing will stop, right there will be created hundreds of jobs by the local suppliers and manufacturers. No, they turn around and want to dig deeper in our pockets then, to fund their ED while outsourcing our work. Reason is the clicks for personal interest fullfilment of many in the elite group that controls this county, will be at stake then. Also that waste of time and money they spend on trying to lure these huge corporations here needs to change and instead lure the small business that will create 5, 10 or more jobs in small scale and that will not ask for millions in tax breaks and free rides like the mega corporations do and then stick it to us without complying…(PCD, Cakes Across, Centex, etc.)
    Other than wasting in all these useless VIP’s compensations, why don they start with real ED campaigns spending in something like in Gainsville Florida they have done:
    The above can be done already by local high paid employees like Carl Laundrie Cty IT, not justifying his pay rate right now. Sure these pseudo ED or TDC costly rocket scientist receiving our tax dollars in high compensation will not come up with less costly and more rendering ideas like this one…because some of their pockets will not get a penny then.
    We have these local financial predators representing us in the Fed also. Example John Mica head of the FTC(Federal Transportation Committee) with his billions sucking proposals to “re due and improve” our FAA technical system @ 160 billion when “NOW AMERICA IS BROKE” . Also to place some more of our Federal Interstate Highways under toll systems. Then we will have to get a loan to go visit grandma by car, just to pay the gouging at the pump and the tolls he proposes.

  4. palmcoaster says:

    Sorry, was to read “These” commissioners.

  5. The American says:

    Remember three of these commissioners are up for vote in 2012 and Barbara Revels is one of them along with Alan Peterson and Melissa Holland.

  6. palmcoaster says:

    For sure Holland and Peterson should go unless they stop advocating for taxpayers funds waste and do more to stop outsourciing of local contracts for people and services.

  7. tulip says:

    PALMCOASTER–I must have missed something—what contracts are you talking about that were outsourced?

  8. Bob E. says:

    Palmcoaster, your post is rather rambling and full of inaccuracies and surprises. First for the surprise, you condemn the local chamber with “They are all wrap around the wasteful finger of Baxter and his elite group at the local Chamber” and then you then propose that “they” whoever “they” are, start a real ED campaign like the one you link to. The link is to the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. So do you or do you not like the chamber of commerce? Is the director in Gainesville inept as you say Baxter is? Do you know him/her?
    You condemn the NextGen upgrade to the FAA air traffic control. Do you really know anything about it? If you only look at your own link and what the experts, the FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt and Marion Blakely, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, say about it you will see that they say it is efficient, more convenient, more dependable and it will improve safety and save 1.4 million gallons of fuel and in that it will also eliminate 14 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, saving the environment. So which one or more are you opposed to, safety, the environment, fuel savings meaning less drilling, efficiency, convenience or dependability?

  9. palmcoaster says:

    @ Bob E. Sorry I missed your comment.
    I never suggested that all Chamber of Commerce are inept and that is why I linked the one in Gainsville as a good example to follow. Our local Chamber has no alliance with the US Chamber or others.
    Regarding Mica’s proposed NextGen no matter the “here say” for the several benefits to be achieved, that have to be taken with extreme caution as the current cost of 160 billion I do not believe we can afford right now. I receive with most reservations astronomically costly, politicians proposals for government contracts, that can go the way of cheaper Solyndra at 500 million and anyway a total failure.
    @Tulip is very simple, ask for purchasing files, Chamber, TDC and County.

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