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Palm Coast Councilman Frank Meeker Petitions for Civility Manifesto in 2012 Elections

| February 28, 2012

'I am outraged that we’ve allowed this to go on for so long,' Frank Meeker says of the level of discourse in elections. 'Then we wonder why we don’t have quality candidates to vote for.' (© FlaglerLive)

By Frank Meeker

Once you enter politics, people comment about how dirty it must be. They’re often right because we don’t demand better. After witnessing what’s unfolding in local, state and federal races, I for one am concerned that candidates and their supporters do not, or will not strive to work in a more courageous and honorable manner. They believe that anything goes in politics, as long as you win. This can include lying, cheating, character assassination and civil hooliganism.

When I was running for Palm Coast City Council, Jerry Full, Sean Burns and I had a group interview with the editorial board of the News Journal. While we were from different parties in a non-partisan election, we respected each other enough to discuss our vision and views, and would not attack each other’s character. I remember turning to Burns after he discussed one of his views on growth management and said, “You know Sean, that’s a really good idea. If I get elected, I’ll do what I can to make that happen.”

Members of the editorial board were stunned. “Wow, you guys actually get along together don’t you?,” one of the interviewers said. It was true, we did. We focused on issues, not personal attacks. Sad to say, since that time, local politics has degenerated into the type of campaigning we see at the state and federal level. That doesn’t show those currently elected or those seeking election in a very favorable light. The climate is so negative that it likely explains why voter turnout in Flagler County elections is getting lower. Both sides are losing the independents and the rational members of their respected parties. Citizens don’t see anybody worth voting for.

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I have no doubt 2012 will set new low marks for dirty tricks and disgusting political campaigning. From what I’m seeing within local clubs, the flames are still burning. To me, this behavior is an embarrassment to civility and demonstrates a lack of moral strength from those who ask to be our community leaders. They should be ashamed, but instead, hide behind their party, Political Action Committees and volunteers and feign no knowledge of what’s going on. Amazing.

Whether a candidate is worthy of political office should be decided by free and clear elections, not tainted by character assassination and media hype. I am outraged that we’ve allowed this to go on for so long. Then we wonder why we don’t have quality candidates to vote for.

I have no personal interest in whether any specific candidate is elected or not, but I have decided one thing. I have decided I won’t take part in activities that condone actions which routinely violate the kind of moral standards and civil integrity I was brought up with and try to uphold. I’m not here casting the first stone as I certainly don’t hit my own mark at times. But at least I try and often apologize when I fail.

Therefore, I submit the following statements to the citizens of Flagler County for consideration. Call it “A Statement on Election Fairness.”

During the coming elections, as Leaders and Citizens of the Community, we should have the courage to:

1) Welcome those with diverse views.
2) Restore civility in local elections regardless of what goes on elsewhere.
3) Take responsibility for our actions and words while working for candidates, and demand the same responsibility from those we choose to support.
4) Be a leader in seeking civility, fairness and unity when promoting candidates and their causes.
5) Reconcile with those who have tried to harm us in word or deed.
6) Treat others with kindness, respect and compassion.
7) Move on together when a decision has been made even if we still disagree.
8) Do the best we can to work with integrity during a campaign, and demand integrity of those we work with.
9) Not support candidates, or political action committees of candidates, who choose to promote their candidate with negative campaigning as opposed to an open and fair discussion of the facts or issues.
10) Live responsibly, working for the betterment of our community.

Consider how your actions might help in unifying our city, and the county. I ask you all to be courageous in standing up for a just society that takes the high road starting now in 2012 with local elections. Let us be people of character, demanding the same of those who would lead us.

If anybody out there agrees with me, especially if you are a leader in the business, religious or political community, take the time to write a short note to the editors of local newspapers, chat rooms and blogs to let them know you too plan to stand up, and be a leader with courage. Is there anybody else with me on this?

Frank Meeker, a member of the Flagler County Republican Club, represents District 2 on the Palm Coast City Council. He’s not up for re-election this year. Reach him by email here.

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24 Responses for “Palm Coast Councilman Frank Meeker Petitions for Civility Manifesto in 2012 Elections”

  1. Jan Reeger says:

    Great statement, Frank. Your own personal integrity shines through again. I wish others would take it to heart.
    Jan Reeger

  2. tulip says:

    Frank, I am in complete agreement with your statements! Between the Presidential campaigning and the local campaigning, there is so much BS and negative, nasty things being said that It makes people continually angry and discouraged, and it’s nice to see someone publicly saying something.

    Good article!!!!

  3. Layla says:

    What “BS and negative, nasty things are being said”? I see a man who is upset that Republicans decided to sue the REC because they were illegally screening people out of their organization.

    Is that what this is about? I hear they have it all recorded, Mr. Meeker.

    • Wishful thinking says:

      What does the republican suit being filed and recorded conversation have to do with Mr. Meeker or his comment?

      The media is to blame on fueling the trash talk by keeing it going on and on. The trash talk is even in the headlines to draw people into it. Much of the time more opinion is being reported rather than facts.

  4. PalmCoast says:

    Fabulous thoughts!! Palm Coast (Flagler County) surely could benefit more from this kind of thinking!! Thank you Mr. Meeker for your words of wisdom!

  5. palmcoaster says:

    @ Lyla, Bingo!

  6. palmcoaster says:

    More important now is a notice just sent by Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson aimed at stopping the gouging at the pump. I we think is worth lets support it:

    Copy of the proposed legislation:

    Dear Friends,

    Gas prices most places are pushing $4 a gallon – again. And news reports say it could be $5 or more by summertime. That’s outrageous – and unjustified.

    Whether it’s the continuing threat of unrest in the Middle East or the lure of quick profit, the price of oil is driven in big part by traders, speculators and, of course, fear.

    There’s been unrest in the Middle East for thousands of years, as we’re seeing right now with Iran and the Strait of Hormuz. Every time we’re faced with this international uncertainty, especially in the Middle East, we’re reminded why we must get off of foreign oil. Nothing’s going to eliminate the volatility in oil prices like becoming less dependent on foreign energy sources.

    But we’ve also got to stop a new brand of oil trader who has emerged in the last decade, a middle man of sorts, who’s also driving up the price we pay at the pump.

    Many experts agree we should not allow these traders to bid up the price of oil and flip futures contracts like condos. Yet in the last ten years the share of the oil market controlled by investors and speculators has more than doubled.

    During the same time, American drivers have seen the price of gas at the pump go from about $1.56 per gallon to around $3.61 per gallon or more. By bidding up oil futures, speculators also increase costs for our airlines, industrial energy users and other businesses. And these higher costs are passed on to consumers like you and me.

    Fact is, the level of speculation in today’s energy markets greatly exceeds the historic norm. If you want to know the truth, it’s partly the fault of broken-down policies from a Congress dominated by partisanship and extremism. Congress deregulated oil traders in December 2000. And it hasn’t tackled a comprehensive alternative energy policy since Nixon and Carter first talked about one in the 1970s.

    Anyone can push for gas-tax holidays and the Keystone Pipeline. In fact, I support the pipeline as long as it’s in an area where it’s not as much of a threat to the entire Midwest water supply and we require that the oil stay here at home and not be sold to foreign countries.

    We’ve already given the oil companies more than eight million more prime acres in which to drill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now we should curb the activities of speculators. And, in the long term, we must develop alternatives to gasoline.

    I think Congress should pass legislation that aims to drastically limit the ability of speculators to artificially drive up energy prices. If this bill passes, there would be the first-ever limits on how much of the oil market speculators can control. The chief cosponsor of my bill is Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).

    Plain and simple: the legislation says no single investor could hold more than 5 percent of the oil futures market, thereby greatly reducing speculators ability to manipulate prices.

    Does this sound like an idea you could support? Please let me know. Also, let me know what else you think we could do to bring down gas prices.


    Bill Nelson

  7. Frank J. Meeker says:

    Well what can I say. A couple of you get it,…two of you don’t. That’s Ok. As for my comments, I don’t recall mentioning anything about the legal challenge this site covered a couple of days ago. But if that’s what your read, nothing I can say or write will change your mind.

  8. Joe A. says:

    Excellent editorial Councilman.

    Dating back to the dirtiest Presidential Election of 1800 with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Back then it was not Occupy Movement vs. Tea Party it was the Democratic-Republicans vs. Federalist. 212 years later we are still bearing witness to mudslinging and name calling. The names of the candidates have changed, but the games are still the same.

    When will we see a positive campaign for once?

    • Layla says:

      Joe, we will see more positive campaigns when we have an administration more interested in uniting us than dividing us, when citizens actually know what is on the ballot instead of listening to others and when they show up to vote and once again regain control of their own destiny.

  9. palmcoaster says:

    Changing the subject. The following great idea from Councilman Meeker should be adopted! Creating jobs in this city should be our primary goal now! Never mind the party woos.
    As I suggested it a long time ago, is a good proposal and should be applied only to invite/bring businesses attracted form “outside Florida to move here and non competitive with the already existing businesses in the City of Palm Coast”.
    I can’t believe the arguments against it by DeLorenzo, Netts and Landon. Sure no arguments when they spend millions in blunder projects like the over 6 million in the Old Kings Road North to welcome a Super Walmart that never showed up. The millions wasted on the Palm Coast Data for hundreds of jobs never materialized. But when it comes to reward local residents or business owners to attract uncle Joey’s or buddies Doe’s to move their operations from other states to our city, then that is “too risky, too costly” Are you kidding us? Are you afraid that this good idea will flourish enough to overshadow the thousands spent in the current city BAC and the few employed there will have to be let go as we demanded Enterprise to cease?
    When one Councilman has a great proposal, the others should collaborate and lets give it a try and within a set of strict rules that can be easily outlined and previously evaluated by our city attorney as any other when implemented.
    That we residents “may question our taxes wasted” paying a earned reward over bringing a new non competitive business from out of state? Have you asked us if we wanted Enterprise to the tune of over 100,000/year before or the untold $$$ spent by the current city BAC? What is so costly about paying a portion in reward for a new generated larger revenue of a new business setting roots in town? Is better less revenue to pay a reward, than non revenue at all. Majority city council thinks we ar dumb?
    After all the advertising/contacts done by local residents or business owners will be at no cost to the city from the start. Kudos to Councilman Frank Meeker and lets give you all our support on your proposal!!

  10. elaygee says:

    Since the Republican Party bases its party platform on hate and discrimination against anybody who isn’t a right wing homophobic Xtian, I doubt they will agree.

    • Layla says:

      They are not all Republicans, or does that matter to you, elaygee. I take it you don’t agree with either of Mr. Meeker’s proposals.

  11. Frank Meeker says:

    PalmCoaster – thanks for the comments on my posse idea. It shouldn’t have taken this long to get back to council for approval. In order to have the intended effect, it will have to be fairly promoted by the staff, the BAC, social media sites, the chamber and I’m sure I’ve missed some others. When I say “fairly” promoted, I mean it will have to have advertising, and not be pushed back into the corner of the website. Further, the reward needs to be worthwhile for the effort. I don’t mean to degrade the value of the dollar to those experiencing hard times now, or like my mom, have experienced hard times in the past, but if somebody is going to put forth the effort to earn the posse reward, the reward must be worth earning. Ten bucks per new employee for a relocated company, in my mind, would not be worth any effort. If I offered you $10,000 per new employee for a relocated company,…I might just grab somebodies interest. There is a happy medium in between we have to sort out. The good news in all of this is if nobody takes advantage of it, we’re not out a dime. Oh sure, we’ll have been taxed to get the seed money for the program, but at the end of the year, it will roll over to the general fund, reducing the need next year for the same amount of money to be used on something else. At least, that is what I intend to happen.

    Frank J. Meeker,
    Palm Coast City Council, District 2

  12. Bill McGuire says:

    Frank Meeker= Good ideas, lousy pizza

    • Joe A. says:

      I am not sure what you mean by your comment Councilman McGuire. But I do not believe it offers anything of value to Councilman Meeker’s remarks. I was not a fan of Councilman Meeker in the beginning, however after seeing the true content of his character, I am impressed.

      I am however not impressed with you Sir. I believe your comment is a small attempt to diminish what Councilman Meeker had to talk about. If I could come up with my own mathematical formula of your performance it would be as followed:

      Bill McGuire = Lousy Ideas, Lousy Leadership

      I want to have faith in my elected leaders. I hope that one day you are able to win my support and prove that you are a man of strong character. I want to see my Council work together not be politically divided. We are too small of a community for partisan politics.

      [Joe A., McGuire was merely stretching a joke that had started during a council meeting a couple of weeks back, and in which Meeker happily participated. The council was discussing a proposal that would allow home-based bakeries to operate in the city. Meeker and McGuire started talking about one eating the other’s pizza and getting sick from it (hypothetically), and what the city’s responsibilities would be. A little humor is never a bad thing.–FL]

  13. palmcoaster says:

    @Councilman Frank Meeker. Great idea and good details that you pointed to be consider into the project. The advertising should not be that costly at all, to start. Once the guidelines are set and reviewed by the city attorney in order to make it legal, to be put forward and implemented.Then the first and inexpensive thing to be done is advertise with flying colors to all residents and businesses in the Palm Coast newsletter that we all receive enclosed in our water bills. How often is published and enclosed in our utility bill, quarterly? Will be free advertisement. You are correct about the worth value of that reward, otherwise will not create interest. What about the local radio station WNZF will host you for a chat about this new reward program to attract new businesses from outside Florida to our “Palm Coast work and play Paradise” . I bet our Flagler Live, the News Journal and Observer will probably be more than happy to write you an editorial over this innovative idea intended to create jobs. The task should not be that huge and not impossible as there are few thousand jobs that we on;y need here, is not that great of a number as is not the whole nation….just Palm Coast.
    Start small via Palm Coast newsletter then wait and see, if there are results. If you get the Chamber involved from the start, will make it expensive right up front, as per my personal experience and also they would take the credit as well.
    Palm Coast has already program time that pays on TV correct? Use some of that paid time, curtail other less important issues reported and advertise this new prospective. Do this like a small business start small, wait and see what results are achieved and if positive then proceed. We do not want to be overwhelmed either during the learning process in case success will reward the idea.
    Do not forget foreign tourist and foreign investors thru our foreign investors visas program, as a second target. Example, now Brazil with a flourishing economy selling soy and other agricultural products to China and their automobiles to their neighboring countries, is sending tourism to us, that is why the President exempted them from tourist visas. You are our city Councilman, set up a visit to the closest (maybe Orlando) Brazilian Consulate/Embassy and lets make a formal invitation for their tourism to come this way. Lets attract some of that tourism as we have plenty of attractions, Fishing, Golf, Tennis, Boating, Sailing, Kayaking, Surfing, Kite Surfing, many hotels/resorts some beach front, besides the proximity to Orlando’s Disney and the other attractions and…. Palm Coast is the prettier city around.
    Maybe the Ginn resorts (and their Sundancer), Hilton Garden Inn or other local hotels will contribute with a complimentary night/meal, for a couple of those embassy officials to come and visit Palm Coast so they can be shown around and then promote our destination for some of their Brazilian tourism. Go visit them and take along at least one of our local Portuguese speaking business leaders distinguished lady, like as a suggestion, Maria Amaral as our cordial welcome community ambassador and husband Tony, as well, if wishes to participate. Could be someone else Portuguese speaker…of your choice. Makes it very appealing and welcoming to hear one’s language on foreign land and…. breaks barriers. Does anyone remember vacationing overseas?. Hope your suggestion gets implemented soon. Wish you best success Mr. Meeker! You should be welcomed by the hospitality business with your idea and they will sure collaborate with that small complimentary request and any of us small businesses can contribute if even in a modest way. After all we will all benefit if this venture will be successful.

  14. palmcoaster says:

    In a positive note!! Today the NAVY BAND plays for free, among others in the Park at Flagler Beach 6PM-9PM.
    Lets cheer, go and have a good time!

  15. Bill McGuire says:

    Joe: No offense taken. Frank and I are often on the same side on issues and i wouldn’t purposely disparage him.

  16. Donna says:

    Frank, help me out here. You wrote, “They believe that anything goes in politics, as long as you win. This can include lying, cheating, character assassination and civil hooliganism. ” Who are “They?”

    Exactly who’s campaign is doing this? Maybe I am not reading you clear. I saw no dirty politics in the latest Mayoral’s race, Ericksen vs. Netts. These two men were very cordial to each other. McGuire, Cross, Delorezo and Moorman ran extremely decent hard working campaigns. No lies, cheating, and civil hooliganism going on there.

    Infact, what I have been seeing in the press, is that some our elected officials are getting in the way of the “people’s” work. It is the “people” that are witnessing lying, cheating, and hooliganism. It is the “people” of this county that are trying to vett good candidates for office, and work hard to keep our good officials in their seats. It is the “people” thay may be intimidated by some of the incumbents that are getting involved. The political clubs and organizations should be run by the “people”, and not by the elected officials.

    If there should be bad leadership in any club, organization or elected seat, it will be up to the “people” of this county to set it straight. We live in a democracy, with freedom of speech and it is the “people” that put in place the power. If there should be a tyrant at the helm of any organization that lies, cheats, disenfranchises the “people”, then it will be the “people” that will see that they are removed.

    Unfortunately, campaigning are not beauty contests. In a democracy, the “people” are just trying to get to the truth about who they are going to put in power. Frank, sometimes that power is abused and that is where the character assassinations come into play. But in the end, the truth always sets us free.

    So I will ask you, to please let the elected officials do there jobs, and get out of the way of the “people” trying to get their work done.

    By the way, I do love your spirit….. and your concerns are much appreciated.

  17. Donna says:

    I have great faith in our Councilman McGuire. He is a man that truly cares about this community. He’s not in it for his own personal political gain, like some others. Great sense of humor, and can make you laugh on any dark day. Always upbeat and sharp as a tack. He will bring great things to Palm Coast. What impresses me too, is that he cares about the kids in the community. A very fine man indeed. Thank you Bill for all that you do!

  18. palmcoaster says:

    @our Councilman Frank Meeker. I read your great idea also printed in the Observer . Something caught my eye and was the 5 minimum employees for a business moving to Palm Coast/County. First please, make sure those employees are to be hired here and should be current unemployed one’s.
    We are trying to create jobs here correct? They can bring 5 employees if they hired 5 more from the local unemployed pool. Also personally I think 5 minimum is a bit too much to ask to start. You also mentioned in the Observer interest in wide publicity and Chamber, others involvement and that is costlier, specially if you invite the local “S”hamer of Commerce that, by the way, has no affiliation whatsoever with the US Chamber of Commerce, that I found out thru the years a great tool of real help in business. Mr. Meeker do not go overboard, go step by step and firm on uncharted by promising territory.
    You may become the modern Christopher Columbus discovering the way to really bring Economic Development to Palm Coast …at no cost!! Imagine that.
    Remember to duck, like I do, when some arrows may go your way.

  19. Think first, act second says:

    I think this whole civility conversation, posted out of the blue without any enticement is nothing but a political plea of Mr. Meekers. I hear he was in the Supervisor of Elections office last week asking when was the last date he could pay the fee to run for a county commission office. Great timing to attract voter attention. Since he lives in Hollands district, does this mean she is going to cut short her commission tenure to run for the redistricted House of Rep seat which favors Flagler County?

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