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Ex-Cops Begin Lineup To Challenge Sheriff Don Fleming, Who’s Declaring for a 3rd Term

| January 4, 2012

The cop contenders: from left, Ray Stevens, Don Fleming and John Pollinger.

Election campaigns are a slog. For sheriff, they’re something like the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Those campaigns, at least in Flagler County, draw out long lists of candidates (the $120,000 salary, highest of all the constitutional officers, has something to do with it), they stretch over 300 days instead of 900 yards, with primary melees thinning out the herd only to sharpen the horns.

When he first ran for sheriff in 2004, Don Fleming was one of four people hoping to beat Jim Manfre. Fleming, a Republican, beat two opponents in the primary and went on to beat Thomas Hutson (who’d beaten Manfre in the primary) with 56 percent of the vote. In 2008 seven challengers lined up to take on Fleming—two Republican, one independent and four Democrats, including Manfre, who ended up losing to Fleming by 836 votes. Ray Stevens, the independent, was a distant third.

It’s 307 days from Election Day on Nov. 6, but two candidates have already filed to run against Fleming in what promises to be one of the most contested local races on a very lengthy ballot. Stevens, a former cop from Ossining, N.Y., is running again, this time as a Republican. So is newcomer John Pollinger, an ex-police chief in Middletown, N.J., a township with about the same population as Palm Coast. Middletown is 47 miles to the south of Little Ferry, where Fleming had been police chief in the 1990s, though he says he never crossed paths with Pollinger until the two met in Palm Coast.

Pollinger, who managed within a month to gather the 600-odd signatures necessary to qualify (rather than pay more than $7,000, absent petitions)  has scheduled a formal announcement to launch his campaign on Thursday, at the Supervisor of Elections’ office in Bunnell. Stevens is more than half-way to his needed signatures, but he’s already filed his first campaign finance report, with $2,500 in his treasure chest—a loan to himself. Fleming hasn’t formally declared his candidacy, but will soon. “I’ll probably be declaring within the next two to three weeks,” he said earlier this week.

Fleming was not surprised by the early interest in the race and expects to see several more candidates join, though none from within the sheriff’s office. Four years ago, Mark Carman, Fleming’s Palm Coast precinct chief, ran against him as a Democrat, though at the time Carman had quit the Sheriff’s Office to work for Palm Coast as its police liaison—and as a police chief in training at a time when Palm Coast was considering having a police department of its own. Those days are gone (for now), and Carman is back at the Sheriff’s Office.

How They Say They’ll Run

Fleming says he’ll run on his record: declining crime, diminished gang activity, heightened neighborhood watch groups (42, up from around 20 in 2004), a new crime suppression team that targets particular high-crime areas and that’s made 70 felony arrests since its creation last year, a flat budget for almost three years running and what he describes as a more professional law enforcement agency.

Pollinger, a Palm Coast resident for two and a half years (he bought his Grand Haven home in 2009) and a 32-year veteran of the Middletown Police Department, including almost eight as chief, demurs when asked what’s compelling him to take on Fleming—what Fleming isn’t doing that Pollinger can do better. “I’m not running against the sheriff,” Pollinger said. “I’m running for sheriff. The difference I believe is, I’ll defend my positions and my record in law enforcement, and I’ll let the sheriff do the same.”

Nevertheless, Pollinger says “it’s time for a new vision and a change in the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.” People have been telling him so as they’ve encouraged him to run. Why? “The fear of crime, the daily break-ins, burglaries, the car thefts. They’re concerned about gangs, drugs and juveniles.” Issues similar to those Stevens raises, though Stevens adds fiscal responsibility to the mix: he doesn’t consider the sheriff’s tenure as frugal as the sheriff makes it out to be. “My main issue is two-fold,” Stevens says. “Number one is lack of fiscal responsibility, and secondly, his failure to deal not only with the crime problems but the quality of life issues.” The moratorium on new pain clinics that the sheriff got every local government to impose, for example, treated “the symptom and not the cause,” Stevens says, though it isn’t quite in law enforcement purview to treat a cause doctors, politicians and sociologists can find intractable. Unlike Pollinger, Stevens—who led the Ossining Police Department’s detective bureau and is also a 30-year police veteran—makes no pretense of playing nice with the sheriff: he is running against him.

Pollinger concedes that crime has declined locally. “It has fallen all across all categories across the United States,” he says, “but I believe that I can do it better. I believe the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, with proper direction, can do more to reduce crime, and the concerns that people have of living in quote unquote bad neighborhoods. I’ve heard this about the P Section and the R Section, that you should stay away from there or not buy in there or rent in that section of Palm Coast, and I don’t believe anybody anywhere should be living in any neighborhood that’s considered a bad neighborhood. If there is a neighborhood like that or it is identified by public officials then they should be doing something about it, and I don’t see that happening.”

Pollinger’s suggestions: target the areas using a partnership between policing and code enforcement, though he can be critical of code enforcement, too: “When you have people that are more concerned about the length of grass in somebody’s front yard rather than crack houses or houses that are in disrepair, it reflects on the entire community as a whole, but also it creates an atmosphere that this is a crime-ridden neighborhood.”

And he sees the wrong priorities, albeit based on anecdotal evidence and generalities—the lingua franca of most novice candidates for elected office. “The people who are talking to me,” Pollinger says, “it’s their belief that the deputies are focusing too much on minor traffic offenses rather than criminal activity within the community. And if the residents have that perception, then something must be wrong.”

Fleming on Fleming

Fleming says perceptions are not keeping up with reality, which has changed on his watch. “The gang problem was an issue until we arrested all those Bloods,” he says, referring to the arrest and conviction of Brandon Washington and several accomplices last year. “Once we arrested all the Bloods, the gang issue basically disappeared. We have gangs, but the gangs that we have are relatively juvenile related. They’re not high-crime type of gangsters. They total pretty much less than about 70, 75 people.”

Fleming adds: “The juvenile problem is something that should be paid attention to. I think the crime rate problems we have with juveniles are with burglaries and car break-ins, and we’ve been working with Judge Zambrano, work with probation and parole, so we have a listing of all the juveniles that are on home arrest, and we check them on a constant basis. What we’re doing is on the path of being where we want to be. We want to focus on the type of crimes that are relevant to Flagler County. We want to focus types of prevention, and the way we do prevention is we have 42 neighborhood watch programs that we have in effect, we have the citizen’s academy, we have the self-defense program for women, we try to focus people into our website so they take a look at our website and all the things that are there for the citizens of Flagler County to use.”

A Race Looking for Direction

The effectiveness of any political campaign is defined by its clarity—and clarity of purpose. In the sheriff’s race, that clarity is not yet apparent. There is no overriding issue candidates can use to attack Fleming, who reviles getting dragged into political controversies—whether it’s getting caught in the middle of the county’s debates over the future of the old courthouse (seen, on and off, as the future home of the sheriff’s office) or in Bunnell’s flirting with the notion of letting the sheriff take over policing in its streets.

Crime is down statistically. The Sheriff’s Office’s relations with Palm Coast, an occasional sore point in the past, are relatively good. The sheriff’s finances, after he granted 10 percent raises a year to his  staff three years in a row (to raise the ranks from poverty wages, Fleming claims), show little evidence of splurges. Stevens criticizes the sheriff doer using drug-seizure money to buy advertising for himself or the department in the Palm Coast Observer, at the local movie theater, on FlaglerLive and in civic organizations’ newsletters—what Stevens describes as taxpayer-funded campaign advertising. The sheriff says the same money in much larger amounts goes to innumerable civic and community programs. (The champion in use of drug-seizure money for self-advertisement is Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, who spent $225,000 last year advertising himself and his department on television, including on national shows). And Flagler deputies, aside from the occasional cruiser crash, have generally steered clear of controversy—at least the sort of controversy that’s brought to light.

Then again, 307 days will amount to an eighth of Fleming’s tenure as sheriff: plenty of time for issues to arise, or clarity to sharpen. And for more clarity on the challengers’ backgrounds, too.

Pollinger’s Sunset in Middletown

Pollinger’s tenure in Middletown was long and virtually spotless—until the end, when he had a run-in with the township administrator, Robert Czech, who had ordered him to post a cop at a particular location on election day 2004—a school that was still in session—because of a vague terrorist threat.  Pollinger refused to do so, ignoring the directive and saying that there was “no credible threat” to the school. Czech overrode him, placed an officer at the school and forced Pollinger to take a vacation until further notice—“without due process, without any hearing” as Pollinger put it at the time. He was incensed. Pollinger had actually announced his decision to retire by year’s end months earlier, but he changed his mind after the run-in, and retired several months later, calling the administrator “morally corrupt” in his retirement letter.

Here’s how Pollinger described the situation when asked about it this week: “After 9/11 we lost 37 of our residents in Middletown on 9/11, and I found my enthusiasm draining. I believe that anybody who sits behind a desk and just occupies space is no longer moving forward with any law enforcement agency, so I notified the town well in advance, in fact months in advance that I would retire at the end of the year. The unfortunate situation that occurred on election day was, the city administrator, who was a political appointee, was facing pressure to put police officers at polling –places on election day. The attorney general, the night before, the attorney general of New Jersey, who is the chief law enforcement officer of the state, ordered police officers not to be at polling places because of concerns of voter intimidation, and rightfully so. I followed the order from the attorney general.”

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82 Responses for “Ex-Cops Begin Lineup To Challenge Sheriff Don Fleming, Who’s Declaring for a 3rd Term”

  1. Joe A. says:

    Interesting article. Obvious distinct differences between each of the candidates. I find it intriguing that one is running for sheriff, the other is running against the sheriff. Seems like one of the candidates has made this personal. Good Luck to all!

    • Layla says:

      I thought you were always running against the other guy. Odd statement for Pollinger to make. Sounds like he is protecting something between he and the Sheriff?

  2. Truth says:

    It is definately a time for change in the Sheriff’s Office and many of us believe that John Pollinger is the man to do the job. Sheriff Fleming has lost touch with his department and the community, He seldom shows up to work and he uses favoritism and fear to supervise his department. He has created a department that is so “top heavy” that there are more supervisors than actual deputies on the road. Fleming has ignored deputies concerns for years. He has refused to provide even the basic cost of living increases in pay as deputies have struggled to survive while the put their lives on the line daiily. Even when he was refusing to give deputies cost of living increases he slapped them in the face by squandering tax payer money on replacing the band new stereo in his brand new unmarked SUV with a $2000.00 BLU RAY DVD Navigation system. He even bought Chief Deputy Look a new DVD system with taxpayer money(Sundown Stereo ST. Augustine) By the way,,,how long has Chief Look been out of work on full pay? I can go on and on.

  3. 20 plus year resident says:

    At first I wasn’t a fan of Flemming but his guy’s have confidence in him and they really have cracked down on crime. He now has roots here and his finger on the pulse of whats going on. Hope he stays to finish what he’s started, which making criminals and prospective criminals move out of Flagler County and move into jail.

  4. Badge says:

    Crime is down ? What city does Fleming live in ? I can’t even go to Publix without running into gang bangers and vagrants asking for money. My neighbors and myself look after each other. Cops now days just come out to give speeding tickets or take a report after the crime has been committed. There is NO MORE …Protect & Serve the Public .

    • Anonymous says:

      Sherriff Fleming and his Officers, Deputy’s, support staff, COP’S, and neighborhood watch groups all are doing a great job. The declining crime, diminished gang activity, a new crime suppression team that targets particular high-crime areas and that’s made 70 felony arrests since its creation last year, and a flat budget for almost three years running. We have many gems in Flagler county and one of them is the Sherriff’s Department, as I am always for change and new ideas ,we need to let Sherriff Fleming continue doing what he’s doing. IT IS WORKING WELL !!!!!

  5. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    every 4 years we have these retired cops from up north that show up just in time to qualify for residency try to run on a platform that basically boils down to “I’m from up north, I know better than you small town backwards Flagler county types therefore you should elect me”.

    Fleming’s not perfect (and was at one time a “I’m from up north I know best” type person) but overall he’s done a pretty decent job over the past 7 years, especially the past 4 in what have been pretty difficult times. I really don’t see any reason to make a change now.

  6. Geezer Butler says:

    I would have liked to see Jim Manfre in the mix again.

    • What?? says:

      Outta touch? You mean the same Jim Manfre that recently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the citizens of Flagler Beach on behalf of a woman who fell on a sidewalk?? Are you serious? We got rid of him in the past and we don’t need him back!

  7. eyeonflagler says:

    Sherriff Fleming his Officers, Deputy’s, support staff, COP’S and neighborhood watch groups are doing an excellent job. They are all well trained, dedicated, and always very professional. Sherriff Fleming is responsible for declining crime, diminished gang activity, heightened neighborhood watch groups , a new crime suppression team that targets particular high-crime areas and that’s made 70 felony arrests since its creation last year, a flat budget for almost three years running. Not to shabby in these tough economic times. We have many gems in Flagler County and one of them is the Sherriff’s Department.
    Let’s not loose a great team!!
    PS: Johnny taxpayer hit the nail on the head!!!

  8. whoever says:

    Johnny… Ray Stevens has been here for years. Manfre had been here for years when he ran. Often times insight from outside of the immediate area is a welcome thing. No one is saying Flagler is ‘backwards” but let’s face it…it’s not the most up to date place. IMO, it’s time for a fresh look at how many of these issues should be handled… and often times BEFORE they get out of hand. It’s also time for your prejudice to go back into the closet it came out of. :)

  9. Rain says:

    I’m curious how the Sheriff thinks he was dragged into “political controversies—whether it’s getting caught in the middle of the county’s debates over the future of the old courthouse (seen, on and off, as the future home of the sheriff’s office)” He stated he would move there, then stated he wasn’t moving the department there. No controversy, there is no money to make the revisions to the old courthouse to his liking. In the meantime the taxpayers of Flagler are paying to keep this building up and running at a cost of, so far, since 2007, close to 1 million dollars! Do you know how many deputies could have had a raise or how many other County employees could have benefited. In the last 3 years no raises for most county employees and most had an increase in their heath care coverage, seems like a pay cut. Does anyone else think that the million dollars could have been better spent. Perhaps some of it could have been spent on our children’s education. That building should have been demolished in 2007!

    • Honest and Truthful says:

      I have known John Pollinger both professionally and personally for over 40 years. He is by far the “BEST” person to bring the S.O. into this new millenium. He is a true professional and was well respected by his staff and the officer’s of the Middletown Township Police Department. Most of all he was respected by the community of Middletown and Monmouth County N.J.. He walks the walk and talks the talk. No phoney here. He was a very active Chief. He’s not afraid to get into the trenches when need be. He’s there for his men and woman. If you were to ask any one of his former department members or people in the community you would here nothing but the best remarks about this true professional law man..
      “Good Luck” John in your choice in becoming Flagler County, Florida’s Top Cop. I know that the people of this county will be overwhelmed with your professionalism once you are elected.

  10. Linda says:

    I’d like to make a comment here about the assertion that crime is down. I spent a lot of time at the library awhile back over several weeks and noticed drug deals going on openly at the front of the library. And it was the same cast of characters everyday, one guy even brought a toddler with him. At the same time, somebody was also tearing down the pretty gazebo built at the site which was intended to enhance the look of the library and provide a quiet place to sit. Instead, it became a hub for junkies who were destroying it, so it had to be torn down. The Library was so angry at the lack of police interest patrolling, they advertised for a Citizens Patrol.

    You can’t even go to the public library anymore and feel safe, even in broad daylight. You wouldn’t believe what you will see and these people are driving. The Sheriff keeps telling us he has it under control. Talk to the library folks. NOT TRUE.

    I am seeing the same deals going down at the new BP station on Palm Harbor Parkway, openly and in front of everybody. Looks to me like it has become THE SPOT for the local neighborhood kids to pick up their stash. Not surprising, this is going on outside the internet gambling parlor there as well.

    And as we all know, there are sections like the R and P sections that have been completely written off. If you happen to live there, tough.

    We also have a problem with the meters at the gas stations in several locations stealing your credit card numbers.

    Pedestrian fatalities are up and we had a recent bank robbery over by Publix a few months back. Do you want me to go on?

    If you’re going to have a sheriff’s election, let’s stop patting each other on the back about what a great job we’re doing. This community has some real issues going on right now. Let’s be open and honest about this, ok? We need real solutions, not more political rhetoric.

    If we can’t even keep the public library a safe place for everyone in such a visible location, then something is terribly wrong here and we need to find out what it is. Palm Coast is in decline.

  11. Badge1 says:

    Eyeonflagler–you must know a different Fleming than the one that I work for or you are one of the people who kiss up to him. Besides the people who have directly been given promotions and “special favors” for supporting him, none of the deputies I know think that he does a good job. He does not have a chance this time around. There will be a NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN! Remember, many of the crimes that are committed in this county never make the stat sheet. AND how many innocent people have died on our roadways in the last year since he disbanded the traffic unit and made it a motor unit that mostly spends its time out of county at special events. Gone are the DUI patrols and other traffic education programs. A good leader/sheriff would have seen long ago that more than 25 deaths in a year on our roadways must be addressed! He’s lost it!

  12. tulip says:

    No city or town is crime free and Palm Coast is not nearly as bad as others are.

    I find that sheriff Fleming has done an outstanding job in arresting criminals and in very short order. He has also contributed a lot to the community in the way of supporting P.A. L. and other activities that help kids.
    He’s been good for Palm Coast and hope he continues to do so, and I congratulate him on his new marriage–it’s good to find happines a second time.

    • Begonia says:

      Have to differ with you here, Tulip. For its size, the crime rate in Palm Coast is MUCH higher than many cities. It may be a budget matter, but let’s not kid ourselves, it is there.

      I am tired of hearing the Sheriff say, “I’ve got it under control” when he doesn’t. Many of us have questions we’d like to ask he and the other candidates. That probably won’t happen in this election because lately our debates don’t allow questions from the audience. I don’t want to hear what some candidate has memorized. I think we deserve answers. I hope the citizens of Palm Coast will be allowed to speak and ask hard questions at the upcoming debates. It’s OUR city. And the winner is gonna be our sheriff.

      My concerns about the sheriff are not related to his community service activities. I voted for a sheriff, not a PR guy. While it is quite admirable to have a program where deputies take children shopping, I’d much rather see a more constant public presence and less time in the stores and donut shop.

      Fleming is a good man, but maybe it’s time for a new sheriff.

  13. Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

    My question to the guy Pollinger would be if your not running against the Sheriff, do you have some kind of arrangement with him? Talk around town is that you do. And remember, this is a small town. Doesn’t take long to hear things here. What I heard is that you have some sort of “arrangement” with the Sheriff, a team up against the third guy, Stevens? Sheriff is expects to win, hires you as his chief? Is this for real?????? Guess we’ll find out. I’m waiting for the gloves to come off.

    I’m also not buying the BS about crime being down. From what I have seen in just the last 2 years, I’d say this might be the drug capital of FL. You have open deals going on here in broad daylight. They make no attempt to hide it. We call, nobody shows. There are major parts of this city no longer safe to be at after dark.

    The only business thriving here is gambling parlors and drug deals. This is a town in decline. Paint it anyway you want, that’s the truth. Otherwise, the gangs wouldn’t have come here in the first place and thats why the druggies are being so bold. They know you won’t touch them.

    Who is kidding who? Maybe the sheriff should apply for a PR job.


      I know John Pollinger since I am 13 years old and he would never decide to run to take votes away from
      Ray Stevens so that they could help the current Sheriff get re-elected. John Pollinger is running for Sheriff
      to make a change in Flagler county and to make it a better place to live. to get rid of the gangs, drugs and to bring back the Traffic Bureau to take down the many deaths by auto. John Pollinger is a man who gets things done,and doesn’t mess around and as far as the election day mess he was listening to the chief law enforcement officer of the county and state of New Jersey not the city administrator who has no say over law matters that the attorney General is in charge of.

  14. Just my 2 cents says:

    It is time for some new blood, Lets get the good old boy network out. Flagler it is time we start thinking like a large city becouse we have large city crime going on right now. Ray Stevens will bring the change we need with the big city knolage we need. We have a major drug problem here now. It needs to be cleaned up !!! Ray can do it.

  15. fazool says:

    After reading this article, I come away with some questions. Mr.Pollinger’s decision not to provide police service when he was requested exhibits poor judgement on his part. The police motto has and always will be “to protect and serve”.Mr.Pollinger apparently deviated from this motto in defiance to his superiors. Is this the kind of Sheriff we want for Flagler County? In another question, why did Mr.Pollinger leave his duty as Chief abruptly?Was he forced to resign or did he leave without giving notice?
    It is apparent in this article that Mr.Pollinger is in this race for one and only one reason. That is to draw votes away from Mr. Stevens who without a doubt is the best qualified candidate for sheriff.

    • sunshine says:

      He followed the direction of the State Attorney General who is the ultimate law enforcement authority in New Jersey. He had previously informed his superior of his intention to retire.

  16. Joe A says:

    Fazool – he retired. Didnt you read the article? Why are you reading into things? He said he was going to retire and did. I learned a lot when I did a google search. I suggest you do the same.

    • Begonia says:

      oh yeah? I did a google search too. it wasn’t all wine and roses. one of the things that interests me about Stevens is that he has a current resume instead of the usual “retire to Palm Coast, find a cushy government job and finish out your time.”

      The fact that Stevens is still working gives him an edge up in my look see of the two new candidates. He just seems more youthful.

  17. Anthony says:

    In my humble opinion there is only one person running for sheriff who has a proven record which can be viewed on his website
    Go to it and see exactly what this county needs. A sheriff that is proactive and not reactive. A sheriff with fresh innovations that are proven to be effective in combating the “urban ” type crime that has made it’s way in to our community.

  18. Magnolia says:

    Look what I found:

    Ray is a retired Detective Lieutenant from New York where he was Commanding Officer of the Detective Bureau with Ossining NY Police Department. As Senior Command Officer, he was also the Designated Acting Chief of Police.
    For a portion of his career, Ray was assigned to the New York DEA task force, working major narcotics cases in New York City.
    Upon retiring from the Ossining PD after 25 yrs, Ray and his family moved to Pinellas County, Florida where he was employed as a Deputy Sheriff until accepting a position in 1998 with the state of Florida as an Investigative Specialist.
    After moving to Palm Coast in 2004, Ray was an adjunct professor at Keiser College teaching Crime Scene Investigation. From January 2009 to August 2011, Ray was a Volunteer Consultant /Cold Case Investigator with the Daytona Beach Police Department.
    Ray is a graduate of Pace University, the FBI National Academy, and the DEA School for dangerous drugs and narcotics investigation and case management. He attended the NYC Police Academy and successfully completed their course of study for Homicide and Major Case Investigators. He received Management and Human Resource training conducted by the N.Y.S. Chiefs of Police Association and completed the Law Enforcement Executive Development Program given by the N.Y.S Bureau of Training and Education.
    On a personal note, Ray is a husband and a father. His wife is a nurse at the Flagler County Department of Health and they have a nine year old daughter who is enrolled in the Flagler County public school system. He and his family are active members of many local groups.
    Ray Stevens wants to be your sheriff and sincerely asks for your support.
    Vote Ray Stevens for Flagler County Sheriff in 2012!

  19. Dudley Doright says:

    One only has to look at the size the police department in Ossining, New York and you can easily come to the conclusion that Ray Stevens (small town cop) has had no real command experience. A LT is not running a police agency…just another cog in the wheel. I have heard Ray talk about his “TasK Force” experience with the Feds and NYPD. No supervision or leadership required here. Just paper pushing! By the way, how big of a budget was Ray responsible for? None. He might have assisted in budget preparation for his small detective division but, his chief was totally responsible for the budget.
    Just listen to him embelish his experience. Those of us with law enforcement command experience know what he is capable of and its not being sheriff. He did not pull the wool over the eyes of those with real command experience 4 years ago. He is not about to do it this time either. The only thing Ray has going for him this time is the ignorance of the Flagler County voters.

    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      Two points. We’re a small town, and Pollinger was a Lt when promoted to Chief. What’s the problem? Sour grapes?

    • w.ryan says:

      Just the Fact Dudley…just the facts. The campaign is in full throttle already. Must say though that.the element that is missing is the relationship with the community. What has these candidates done in regard to their community? Is showing up for work good enough? I would like to see these candidates attend art shows and other social events to show their full commitment to Flagler. I must say that Sheriff Fleming supports youth activities and has been supportive of the arts in some way. That shows sensitivity which when it comes to Law Enforcement doesn’t seem to matter.

  20. Big Questions says:

    No, crime is not down, but the stats may be. Or maybe the SO is redefining crime? What with the new hydroponics store here on US 1, and the upper ranks of the SO and black chargers visiting, hanging out, chatting casually, something’s not adding up. Can we say “Operation Green Merchant”? And if it’s not OGM, then it’s something way more serious – it would be a stretch to define that as ‘proactive patrolling’, LOL! Time for change, time for change. How about we have a black man from the South run for Sheriff? C’mon, step up to the plate!

  21. Monster Motorcycles via Facebook says:

    Sheriff Fleming is doing a great job.I think we should keep him for another term!!

  22. Donna says:

    It is apparent to me after reviewing the bio’s of the 3 candidates, that Ray Stevens possesses the most
    diversified law enforcement experience and is best equipped to effectively deal with the big city type of
    crime that we have been experiencing here in Palm Coast and in Flagler County.

    • Dudley Doright says:

      What are you smoking? Open your eyes and you will see Ray Stevens does not have the experience, given his background, to be sheriff.

      • Layla says:

        It appears to me from looking at his bio that Stevens is at the same point in his career as was Pollinger when he was appointed chief. He also appears to have youth on his side. Just sayin.

        Will there be forums where we can ask these gentlemen questions?

  23. shoregal says:

    I have had the opportunity to get to know John Pollinger. He is a very professional, intelligent, articulate man that has a strong presence. He is the type of person that does not “Play Games” and is a straight shooter. This is the new sheriff that Flagler County needs. I ask that everyone do their homework, meet the candidates, talk to them see what they are about. I notice that this county loves “gossip” and always thinks that there is a conspiracy going on…..Lets all be more educated and less paranoid.

  24. Donna says:

    As for Pollinger? The Republicans had no problem in having the police at the polling stations…. that was to avoid voter intimidation. It was the Democrats that preferred “not” having them there, and having there own security like the “Black Panther’s” present.

    I question why Pollinger would refuse to have police at the polling stations.

  25. Joe A. says:

    I have been a card carrying Republican my entire life. I support my party in good times and bad. What I find interesting and would love for Mr. Stevens to explain is why he is courting the Republican Party for support. If I am not mistaken it was only four years ago he was “the independent candidate for Flagler County Sheriff….. (He) opted to run with no political affiliation….” I don’t know about everyone on here, but how hypocritical. It just goes to show Mr. Stevens is a RINO (Republican In Name Only). Furthermore he has violated the President Reagan’s 11th Commandment, “Thy Shall Never Speak Ill of a fellow Republican.”

  26. Honest Abe says:

    Ray Stevens was in charge of a small town detective squad…very small town, very small detective squad. He has no experience in managing a budget the size of the FCSO nor does he have any experience with the detention/jail deputies. If you watched and listened to his debates four (4) years ago, it was quite apparent that he shoots from the hip. I recall he once said he worked for “a” New York Police Department. Sounds a bit misleading as though he was talking about the big city and not the small little country town that is Ossining, New York. Resumes are like smoke and mirrors…make it to the debates people and then cast an educated vote.

  27. Hank Rearden says:

    So the Flagler/PC saga played out in 2011 PC elections continues into 2012. I have heard the same story as “Oneofthe10%whovoted” that the incumbant has promised Pollinger a job if he runs as a Republican and has a deal with the Democrat Party not to run a candidate (Netts startegy) and underrstand he was regutered as a Democrat in NJ. With the August primary split 3 ways name recognition favors the incumbant (remember Netts “primary” win?) and no General election in November. Folks we have become NJ/Chicago style politics with elected officials “selected” not elected by the few and the powerful. Its time to wake up or find the answer to the question: who is John Galt?

  28. Hank Rearden says:

    Reply to “Joe A.” & “Honest Abe”:
    We are talking about a Republican primary and “courting Republicans” is bad thing? Honest Abee or some of Mr. Pollinger’s other supporters ask him about his loyal republican history. Also supporters of the incumbant would you please ask him about his loyalty to the Republican candidates in past local elections (including the 2011 PC elections. The fix is in folks.

    Who is John Galt

  29. Honest and Truthful says:

    I know all three canidates personally. Fleming promised many people special favors if elected. He also promised some that got the shaft. Now he rules with an iron fist. He demands loyalty to those he promoted as a favor. Stevens was a small town cop with small town experience, period. Flagler County has grown very fast and will continue to grow. John Pollinger ran a large police department. Has large police department experience. And hands down is the “BEST” candidate. Flaming has become stagnant as our Sheriff. It’s time for a change and to move forward with a honest,educated,professional as our Sheriff. When you read between the lines, and out of the smoke screens you WILL realize John Pollinger should and will be our Sheriff in 2012.

  30. Honest and Truthful says:

    Pollinger says he was told to leave
    Long Branch NAACP backs chief
    BY KAREN E. BOWES Staff Writer
    Staff Writer

    Middletown Police Chief John Pollinger remained off the job Monday following an Election Day dispute with a township official over whether or not to police polling places.

    “Without any due process, without any hearing, I was ordered off on vacation until further notice,” Pollinger said last week. “It appears I’ve been relieved.”

    According to the chief, Township Administrator Robert Czech told him “you’re out” early Election Day morning over a disagreement concerning police presence at polling places.

    The trouble began in mid-October when the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office issued a directive that placed police officers at every polling place in the county, including Middletown.

    Pollinger said that since there was “no credible threat” to Middletown, he decided not to enact the directive. Also, since there are over 40 polling stations in the township, “we would’ve needed every police officer.”

    St. Leo the Great’s School in Lincroft was the only polling place in Middletown that was in session that day. According to both Pollinger and Czech, calls were received from a school official requesting a police officer the morning of the election.

    Pollinger said he denied the request because if he were to provide an officer at St. Leo’s, he would have to provide one at every polling place. He added that children were at greater risk going to and from school than in school.

    Czech disagreed, saying there was a credible threat on Election Day. He cited a recent attack in Russia where a group of terrorists took over a school and held the students hostage, killing many. Czech also noted that the floor plans to a Rumson school recently showed up on a computer in Iraq.

    According to Pollinger, the directive to provide officers at the polling places was canceled late the night before Election Day.

    “Late last night, Congressman Frank Pallone voiced concerns about placing police officers because it might cause some kind of intimidation … Pallone contacted the attorney general of New Jersey. The attorney general contacted the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor rescinded the order, but the administrator [Czech] continued to order me to place an officer at St. Leo’s School, ” Pollinger said.

    Czech disagreed, stating that the order was not canceled but “modified” to allow officers to be outside on routine patrols of all the polling places. At St. Leo’s, because it was a school in session, a plainclothes officer would be placed inside the building.

    Pollinger left the building and officers were assigned to patrol all polling places under the direction of Deputy Chief Oakes, Czech said.

    After Pollinger was ordered on vacation, he said he had plans to contact an attorney and the State Chiefs Association. It was unclear at press time when or if he would return to work.

    According to Township Attorney Bernard Reilly, “He was not fired. He was not disciplined. He was told to take the rest of the day off. He was sent a notice that states the vacation leave you were requested to take is now over. It was anticipated that he’d be back at work today (Monday.)”

    The NAACP issued a statement on Monday, backing Pollinger and condemning Czech.

    “This was a direct violation of mandates from the State Attorney General’s Office, and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office … There is no excuse, in the opinion of the NAACP, as to why this mandate would be violated by this Administrator Czech. The sole reason why police officers were not to be stationed at polling places was so voters would not be intimidated by police at the polls. As a result of his actions, there is no reason to support the decision of Administrator Czech, and every reason for this body to ensure that the practice of intimidating voters at the polls is not allowed in practice, accepted in theory or allowed to continue in any way, shape or form,” Long Branch NAACP President Lorenzo Dangler said in a press release.

    Czech calls the statement a “total misrepresentation of the directive.”

    “That’s an overreaction,” Czech said. “A response without all the facts. We were trying to address legitimate safety concerns.”

    Pollinger said he has had clashes with Czech in the past.

    “This isn’t the first time he’s threatened me,” Pollinger said. “The board gives him carte blanche to continue what he’s doing.”

  31. Big Questions says:

    If a picture’s worth a thousand words, which character from “The Sopranos” does “the Don” resemble, in the photo above? Just sayin….

  32. Joe A says:

    Hank: courting Republican voters is fine. But not when you ran against that party four years ago. It’s no different than Charlie Criist trying to run for Senate again, but as a Republican. When Mr. Stevens ran four yeas ago, he actively campaigned against the Republican Party as the independent candidate.

    It is all rumor and completely unfactual that any candidate would have a deal. Sometimes people run for office for the right reasons. Some times people stand up for their core principles and do the right thing because it is the right thing. But if you have factual knowledge of it, prove it. Do it revert to telling elementary school lies.

    As of the start of the year I was very open minded and willing to listen to all candidates and their ideas. What turned me off is right out of the gate, Mr. Stevens was trying to be the aggressor and adversarial. If you have to start your campaign with negative campaigning, especially false negative campaigning, it shows me your not the choice. Maybe you can prove me wrong one day, but as of now I am turned off by your message.
    I called it when I first saw it, your making it personal by running against the Sheriff, not for it.

    But I will listen to the debates and what the candidates say on here. I will not listen to the banter that goes on the blogs because they are unreliable. I could come out and say Don Fleming believes the sky is blue and all of a sudden we get 10 different interpretations of what he meant and then the usual conspiracy theory that Don Fleming has a deal with God to make the sky blue.

    Let’s stop making this a personal attack, look at only the facts and listen to the candidates. Be responsible, not a pawn for any sheirff candidate hopeful. I expect all the candidates to be gentlemen and run a positive campaign.

    I wish all of them luck and all I ask is them to be a good Republican and stay positive. Damage you do now to the Party will hurt us in the general election.

  33. Angie says:

    Fleming hasn’t even announced. He isn’t registered with the elections office. But he sure has no problem wasting our tax dollars with cheesy (but expensive) ads at the movie theater & everywhere else. Looks like he took a chapter out of Manfre’s old campaigning-on-the-taxpayers-dime handbook.

    Pollinger is just Fleming’s Delaney part 2. You watch. He will never say a bad word about Fleming & Fleming wont’ say anything bad about Pollinger because they are in bed together. Just like Netts and the democrats in the last election. Pollinger is only in the race because Fleming knew he couldn’t win running only against Stevens. And the economy is likely to keep the number of candidates down this year. Pollinger is a diversion. Pollinger comes off as articulate and seemingly nice guy, but just do a little internet research.

    • Begonia says:

      Pollinger also campaigned for DeLorenzo, a democrat, in the council race. That’s not rumor and inuendo, Joe A.

      • Joe A. says:

        @Begonia. I followed the city races last year, but I felt I needed to check on this. I found out that this statement is just a rumor. Do you have physical proof? Or are you going off of what you heard at the local pot lock supper? As Ronald Reagan once said, “There you go again.”

        • Begonia says:

          Ask the members and board of the Italian American Club. It was the board members who stopped it. And ask the good folks at the Republican club. They saw him.

          Don’t need to explain anything to you. That was probably you with him. There is more, but I don’t think you want me mentioning it here.

          The damage has been done, Joe. He is a fraud.

  34. Honest Abe says:

    Joe A, well said… Let’s all now just go and cram the debates and see two men run a gentlemen campaign while the other attempts to sling false mud. Remember, numbers don’t lie and liars use numbers. The bottom line… is Palm Coast over the past four years and under the conditions of lowest unemployment in the state, prescription drug epidemic and plethora of foreclosed homes the best place it can be under those conditions and are the cops doing the best job they can, trained well and professional? Let’s all get off the computers and to the debates to make educated decisions.

  35. JohnnyLaw says:

    Angie, thank you so much for the laugh I needed this morning. If Stevens was so sure he wouldn’t have asked Polinger to drop out and join him to help defeat Fleming. Stevens is a bully and I expect the same result for him we saw 4 years ago.

  36. JohnnyLaw says:

    @ Truth, I would ask how long you’ve been there but your post reeks of someone who hasn’t been there more than a just few years with a what have you done for me lately attitude. The question that comes to my mind while reading your comment is what are you doing that you have enough time to check when Fleming is or is not there?

  37. patty says:

    “We have many gems in Flagler county and one of them is the Sherriff’s Department”.

    Did “eyeonflagler” and “anonymous” have their comments drafted by the same person? Just asking.

  38. JohnnyLaw says:

    Conspiracy theories ……. When there just isn’t anything else.

  39. JohnnyLaw says:

    Truth, obviously you weren’t with the department prior to Fleming. Back then deputies qualified for govt assistance.

    • Begonia says:

      Now they live in waterfront homes on canals with pools, docks. Not a bad living now, I’d say.

      • JohnnyLaw says:

        Really Begonia? So far all of your comments lack facts. If you’re not going to educate yourself prior to commenting it’s only a waste of time. It’s a turn off and certainly not helpful to a candidates campaign when supporters such as yourself have to fabricate or embellish issues.

        • Begonia says:

          Really? To which comments would you like me to supply the facts? Did I say something to upset you? I didn’t intend to. But I wouldn’t have made the statement, if I couldn’t back it up.

          Most of it is pretty common knowledge. Maybe you should get out more, away from that donut shop.

  40. JohnnyLaw says:

    Angie, in reference to the movie theater ads for safety, how about checking into how long those ads have been running (couple years now) all part of the community policing aspect of law enforcement.

    • bling says:

      JohnnyLaw–I would guess that you are just one of the people that have greatly benefitted from Fleming’s reign. Perhaps you drive a brand new SUV and do mostly nothing. If you know any officers (the few that are left that are not supervisors) ask them what they think of Fleming. He is NOT respected and he has to go. The pople on this blog that talk like he is doing a good job don’t see what is happening and they are just sheep in a herd.

  41. JohnnyLaw says:

    Linda, is the library such a dangerous place? I dont recall hearing any time recently of any victims of crime there. Did you notify law enforcement when you saw these “deals” going down? I see sheriffs office cars roll through the parking lot at the library quite frequently.

    • Linda says:

      Johnny Law, would you mind identifying yourself so I know who I am speaking to?

      For the weeks I was there, the only time I saw law enforcement was when I finally got mad and called them.

      I spoke to the library volunteers first and then the supervisor. He told me they call all the time and rarely does anybody come. Would you like me to go and take some pictures there? Would be more than happy to do that. I also have plenty of witnesses and other complaints. We never saw a patrol car until we called one.

      I was on poll duty with a retired undercover drug cop and we watched the deals going down in broad daylight. The same people through two election cycles. The gazebo has been dismantled because it was disappearing piece by piece. Seniors won’t go there after dark.

      I think we’re all victims if we don’t feel safe enough to pull into that parking lot. We asked the sheriff about it and he said, “I’ve got it handled.” The very next day there was an article in the paper about how the library was tired of the lack of law enforcement there and they were asking for civilian volunteers to patrol the premises.

      Does somebody have to be robbed or shot there first?

  42. JohnnyLaw says:

    Begonia, if you could back it up then why wouldn’t you from the start? Because really you can’t. Upset me? Not a chance and i love the Donut shop comment… Better that i spend too much time there than my favorite watering hole…

    • Begonia says:

      I believe it was Joe A. who brought up the party loyalty. Yes, elections should be about the best candidate. But I also want a truthful candidate and this one is not being truthful.

      I want a candidate, especially for sheriff, who is truthful. Mr. Pollinger sits on the board of the Republican Club and campaigns for Democrats. I don’t care who he campaigns for or who he votes for, but he should not be on that board. He may even have taken a loyalty oath. Big no no there. It boils down to a matter of trust.

      As for the canals, take a boat ride.

      And with all due respect, Johnny, you are beginning to put on a few pounds.

  43. Liana G says:

    What’s with the party loyalty brainwash? Elections should be about electing the best person to do the job and NOT about party affiliation. Humans adapting lemmings’ behavior? The lemming myth is just that, a myth.

    A Chief of Police making $120,000 a year. I now know for sure that other gov’t employees in this district are ridiculously OVERPAID given the nature of THEIR jobs. Time to restructure these salaries or have them accompany Mr Landon. These burdens being imposed are too heavy for taxpayers to shoulder in these hard times.

  44. JohnnyLaw says:

    Bling, you guess wrong. Are we assuming or are we going to go with facts? So far everything posted here has been an attack on the incumbent. Nowhere do I see anyone commenting on their candidates attributes and what it is that they will bring to the table. I do not drive an SUV but perhaps it is you who stands to benefit from a new sheriff (we can play that assume game all day long). I’ll have no problem continuing a debate with you when you bring some real issues to discuss. Preferrably dialogue that doesn’t refer me to a third party. If you’re going to chime in, know something about that which you type. I don’t think that’s asking a lot.

  45. JohnnyLaw says:

    Bling, oneofthe10%, Attacking me here is pretty funny. Can’t take either of you seriously. In my opinion you do more damage to your candidate than good when belittling Someome because they may support someone else. 4 years ago we saw the bullying by one candidates supporters to the point of following a supporter of the then incumbent to her residence. Again, how about discussing what your candidate has to offer? Surely there’s more than the nothing you have offered so far.

    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      My candidate????? Officer johnnylaw or whoever you are, I don’t have a dog in this race. From what I read here, I’d say it is you who needs to put forth some facts.

      You seem to be the one doing the bullying. I hope that isn’t a department mentality.

      • JohnnyLaw says:

        10%, Did you not make the comment that i’m probably blogging here from a patrol cruiser while on shift? As if that should scare me somehow. You also commented about Pollinger supposedly having some arrangement with Fleming to team up against who? But you don’t have a dog in this fight… LOL. You’re free to state your opinions and I respect that but you are another of those who heard from someone who heard from someone else that a cousin of so and so said it so it must be true. Also funny how i’m labeled as law enforcement because of my user name? You’ll deny the job the sheriffs office has done under Fleming when its out there in the open for all to see but you’ll claim im a cop sight unseen?? I admit I am for the incumbent. In my opinion 10%, the burden of laying down factshere lies with the supporters of the newcomers…

        • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

          Was not “trying to scare you” or insult you. Just making a comment, that’s all. Obviously hit a sore spot. You have made nearly 19% of all comments here. All 3 of the candidates have taken hits here, Nothing wrong with stating what people are seeing. All 3 will have the chance to state their case. Fleming being the incumbent should not give him the edge. All 3 need the opportunity to show what they got.

          We’ll find out what kind of a job the sheriff has done when the piddly few here vote.

    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      Not a problem, Johnny. Not taking you too seriously either.

  46. palmcoaster says:

    No wonder our Sheriff didn’t send a deputy to Francoise’s hit and run. Cover up for his buddy, naah?
    I wish the truth to this sad and unnecessary death by hit and run, will be discovered by Francoise’s daughter’s attorney and the perpetrator properly punished, no matter the connections.
    Is outrageous that we call 911 for a fallen resident on a street shoulder and the deputies are told not to show up and instead send only the emergency services ambulance? Bias law enforcement/services naah? We have in my street a neighbor that parks his cars in the pavement overnight, one of them with a cover and all, that in the dark makes it even less visible as there is not street light there. Not that they don’t have enough room on their driveway. Just laziness endangering us, all while driving by at night. The sheriff called over and over again to enforce the no street parking ordinance, to no avail. Maybe is his buddy this one also?

  47. Joe A. says:

    @palmcoaster – thank you for sharing this, I did not see today’s news paper. I find it really hard to believe that the Sheriff would try to cover something like this up. You would think that someone in that position of authority is not stupid enough to get caught in such a scandal as this. Especially with this being an election year, politician’s are trying to look their best.

    To be fair and balanced, I really think that some outside agency should come in and investigate this claim. If there is indeed a cover up or an obvious neglect of duty on the part of the Sheriff, then he should be removed from office. It really bothers me when I read this article over and over. The message I got reading the article was that cronyism is overwhelmingly more powerful than protecting and serving the community.

    This just reconfirms my distrust and dislike of politician’s.

    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      Joe A., “I have been a card carrying Republican my entire life. I support my party in good times and bad.” Your words.

      I’m beginning to think you ARE a politician, or a candidate.

  48. Joe A says:

    It was 8 years ago that Zell Miller gave a stirring speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention. He stated that his party had left him. I feel the same way. I feel people like Don Fleming, Rick Scott and Larry Craig have destroyed our party.

    I am not a politician and I am not a candidate. I am one angry Republican who does not have faith in those who were elected to serve. They are too busy serving themselves, not the people. Why can’t people we elect be more like Mr.Smith Goes to Washington?

    One of the 10% what are you campaigning for this year? County commissioner?


    All the suspicion and assumptions about Sheriff Fleming and John Pollinger being “in bed together” is the furthest thing from the truth. It seems as though Mr. Pollinger is playing dirty since he posted an article about our current sheriff on his political facebook page which questions his ethics and motives.

    I will answer the question here by stating the Sheriff Fleming has worked wonders on Palm Coast since he has been in office. He was worked with the increasing population while still managing to reduce crime, better the school system, and has continually remained loyal and honest to his county. He is passionate about his work and keeping Flagler County a safe a desirable place to live.

    With all the changes Flagler County has faced since the millennium, I don’t think anyone could have done a better job than Sheriff Fleming. Another four years of the work he’s doing and I can only imagine where Flagler County will be! Re-Elect Sheriff Fleming!

    • Joe A. says:

      I suppose the News Journal is dirty for writing today editorial or publishing the story last week? I suppose Ray Stevens is dirty for making a you tube video about the library? I suppose that Mr. Fleming has a great job if you ignore all of the other obvious facts (traffic fatalities, gangs, drugs, larcenies etc.)

      The reality is that it is time for change. It is not good by any measure for an incumbent going into an election to have the inkling of a scandal hanging over his head. There may be truth, there may not be truth to the story related to Sheriff-Fischer-Phone-gate.

      As a word of advice. If you are going to speak on behalf or endorse a candidate, speak highly of your candidate. Tell us of their accomplishments. Sell us on why we should vote for them. I am very turned off by immediate mug slinging. Just because “everyone else is doing it”, doesn’t make it right. If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you?

      Stay positive.

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