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As New Commission Chairman, Nate McLaughlin Quickly Flexes Unyielding Muscle

| December 5, 2012

Nate McLaughlin’s District 4 plate on the county commission dais was replaced with his chairman’s plate Monday. (© FlaglerLive)

Every year around this time the Flagler County Commission parcels out committee assignments to its members. There are 24 such committees or councils, some clearly more weighty, and more sought after, than others: everyone wants to sit on the Tourist Development Council or the Public Safety Coordinating Council because money, power or influence is involved. Most don’t know what the “Management Advisory Group for GTMNERR” is, let alone what the acronym stands for, until they have to serve on it, and the Artificial Reef Technical Advisory Committee has never had a waiting list of interested commissioner. (See the full assignment list below.)

On Monday, Nate McLaughlin, in his first full business meeting as chairman of the commission, wasted no time asserting his powers and signaling that he would use the chairmanship to do so: He took the chairmanship of the Tourist Development Council and the Public Safety Coordinating Council, saying it was his prerogative as chairman to do so. It is: it’s in state law. But it’s also the chairman’s prerogative to yield to another interested commissioner. As Chairman in 2011, Alan Peterson had done just that, yielding the TDC chairmanship to Milissa Holland, and that of the Public Safety Coordinating Council to Barbara Revels, as both women were immersed in hands-on work on both councils. Revels, as chairman until November, had yielded the TDC to Holland again, and kept hold of the coordinating council.

But McLaughlin said all seats that may go to the commission chairman—that is, to him—will do so.

Revels wanted to keep serving on the Public Safety Coordinating Council, which has been far more active in the last two years than it had been in the past. And it has been the policy somewhat, unspoken policy of this commission for the last five or six years, that everybody shares in the workload regardless of the requirements,” Revels said, raising an objection to McLaughlin’s move.

There was a tense moment during the 20-minute discussion and parceling out of assignments, with McLaughlin saying he’d stick with his decision.

“I would like to respectfully ask that you reconsider,” Revels persisted, “and my point on this is, along with department of Juvenile Justice, Carver Center and the fact that we have two new judges that are going to be sitting on that body, a new sheriff, probably other new sheriff’s representatives, other representatives from other agencies, I’m kind of like the lone person standing that’s going to be returning to that to get some things done, and would like to be able to bridge the gap of that learning curve for those people as they come on board there. We do a lot of good stuff, and I’d like to retain that.”

“I thank you for that narrative. I still would like to bring that to the chair.”

Continuity and what will amount to the Public Safety Coordinating Council’s only institutional memory, Revels had another reason for wanting to stay on: “We’ve just landed the safe haven grant that I’m going for training this week on, and that is out of that committee, to sit on the core committee for the safe haven visitation center.” The commission approved the work of the council, emerging from a $400,000 federal grant that will create Flagler County’s first such safe-haven visitation center for sundered families, when children must see one or the other parent, but when parents must be kept at a distance, and under safe supervision. The center will be located in a section of building adjacent to the Bunnell public library branch.

“ It’s been a really long haul on that, and I certainly want to see that through. So that’s another issue there,” Revels said.

McLaughlin didn’t yield. And Revels got no support from fellow-commissioners: Frank Meeker and Charlie Ericksen are newcomers on the board and are McLaughlin allies. George Hanns had begun the discussion by saying that even though he wanted to serve on the tourism board, “that’s certainly the chairman’s discretion. I’m certainly not offended by him taking that if he chose to do so. I’d just like to say I was looking for something new to do, and emphasize the fact that I’m flexible and available for a number of things.”

But he then asked Ericksen to yield to him so Hanns could stay on the public library board. Ericksen did so. (Ericksen was the biggest yielder of the day: he’d asked to be on the juvenile justice board. He yielded to Hanns on that too. Ericksen had asked to be on the A1A Scenic Pride Committee. He yielded to Meeker on that one. He’d asked to be on the chamber of commerce committee. Hanns took that one, too.)

Hanns got all he wanted, except TDC. When Revels’s turn came to keep the one assignment she wanted most, she was alone, with Hanns going so far as twisting the knife a little as he recalled the time when he himself had surrendered the position to Revels: “Again, when it was my turn to pass it along to Ms. Revels, it was her prerogative as chair, and she chose to have it, and I really had no problem with it, because I know of your dedication, you’re going to do as well or enhance what I’ve done, and I think it’s important that it moves around a little bit.”

Revels asked the county attorney whether McLaughlin could assert himself without appeal. But he could: that’s state law. And he did. McLaughlin, as a real estate broker, had briefly worked for Revels many years ago. That relationship did not work ideally. Echoes of that dynamic may yet be heard in the next 12 months.

The full committee assignments are below.

Flagler County Commission Committee Assignments

CommitteeWho may serve2012 Assignments2013 Assignments
A1A Scenic Corridor Advocacy Byways GroupAny commissionerNate McLaughlinFrank Meeker
A1A Scenic PrideAny commissionerMilissa HollandFrank Meeker
Artificial Reef Technical Advisory CommitteeAny commissionerGeorge HannsGeorge Hanns
Canvassing BoardCommission chair or designeeNate McLaughlin (alternate), Milissa Holland (alt.)Nate McLaughlin, George Hanns (alt.)
Early Learning Coalition of Flagler & VolusiaAny commissionerBarbara RevelsBarbara Revels
Economic Opportunity Advisory CouncilAny commissionerBarbara RevelsBarbara Revels
Affordable Housing Advisory CommitteeAny commissionerNate McLaughlinCharlie Ericksen
Chamber of Commerce & AffiliatesAny commissionerAlan PetersonGeorge Hanns
Department of Juvenile Justice CouncilAny commissionerGeorge HannsBarbara Revels
Carver Center Governing BoardAny commissionerBarbara RevelsCharlie Ericksen
Heritage Corridor Advocacy GroupAny commissionerGeorge HannsGeorge Hanns
Land Development Code Advisory CommitteeAny commissionerNate McLaughlinNate McLaughlin
Library Board of TrusteesAny commissionerGeorge HannsGeorge Hanns
Management Advisory Group for GTM Research ReserveAny commissionerGeorge HannsFrank Meeker
Northeast Florida Regional CouncilAny commissionerMilissa HollandFrank Meeker
Princess Place Preserve Citizen Support OrganizationAny commissionerGeorge HannsCharlie Ericksen
Public Safety Coordinating CouncilCommission chair or designeeBarbara RevelsNate McLaughlin
School Planning Oversight (two members)Any commissionerAlan PetersonFrank Meeker
Tourist Development CouncilCommission chair or designeeMilissa HollandNate McLaughlin
Marineland CRA BoardAny commissionerNate McLaughlinNate McLaughlin
Transportation Disadvantaged Local Coordinating CouncilAny commissionerAlan PetersonCharlie Ericksen
Workforce Development Board of Flagler & VolusiaAny commissionerAlan PetersonFrank Meeker
Value Adjustment Board (two members)Any commissionerAlan Peterson, Nate McLaughlinNate McLaughlin
Volusia Transportation Planning OrganizationAny commissionerNone assignedBarbara Revels
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12 Responses for “As New Commission Chairman, Nate McLaughlin Quickly Flexes Unyielding Muscle”

  1. tulip says:

    Well, no surprise that the “real Nate” tyrant is coming forth. How sad that he couldn’t even let Mrs. Revels stay on the committee she was on. She works very hard for the county and has been very successful in many things. Ericksen is just as bad for not suggesting that Barbara keep the position. Of course Ericksen is in alliance with Nate, so that explains that. Hanns got what he wanted, so said very little, except to zing Barbara a bit.

    This BOCC is not going to be a good one, very sad.

  2. gator says:

    mr.mclaughlin about time some one spoke up,some of these pople think we can’t like with out them. wrong, ( you go)

  3. Nancy N. says:

    The power grab by McLaughlin is all about him consolidating power and definitely NOT in the best interest of the county and its residents. If he had interests other than his own at heart he’d leave those committee seats in the hands of people who have experience. I guess we know who he’s really serving.

  4. Magnolia says:

    Tough audience.

  5. Ben Dover says:

    He only did that because Mrs Revels questioned them about their dirty red light camera doings , she told them what she thought of them , that they were hurting tourism and keeping people from coming to Palm Coast to shop, I hope the supreme court shove`s them camera`s down their greedy lying throats, and makes them pay everyone they`ve ripped off with them back, too bad they can t throw them in jail where they belong!!

  6. Boo who says:

    Revels needs to learn to get along with others and not have an attitude when others don’t see things her way.

  7. Charles Gardner says:

    Imagine that.

  8. "My Daily Rant" says:

    Mostly the same useless faces, The reason they like the tourism board is “bed tax dollars”.I work in the Hotel/ Motel business and have forgotten more than any of these people will ever know.An example I would have know that spending $150,000 on a Marina at Marineland which is privately owned wasnt going to put people in Hotel/ Motel beds like the tax was designed to do.This place is never going to change until we get rid of the old faces and bring in new,also get rid of the greety ones like McLaughlin.
    Flagler County R.I.P. Ive been here 34 years and have seen it all.

  9. Will says:

    From what I’ve heard, George Hanns and not Charlie Ericksen will be the commission’s representative to the Chamber.

    [Thanks for catching that Will. The story had it right, the chart didn’t. It’s been fixed. –FL]

  10. PJ says:

    Nate great work to shake things up.

    Change is good.

    If Revels can’t take it too bad/ Revels you know what to do. The door is just down the hall.

    Nate is one of the few Commissioners that is seen at every event. You can talk to him anytime he actually listens. Good luck Nate keep up the good work……..PJ

    • Why says:

      Being at everything doesn’t mean you care…it means your campaigning. Let us not forget Nate McLaughlin’s personal financial picture looked pretty bleek according to the Form 6 Financial Disclosure Statement Ed Caroe filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission and which Nate McLaughlin was later fined based on the validity of the complaint. If it weren’t for McLaughlin filling his pockets with our tax dollars where would he be. Isn’t it interesting how cocky one can get when they get a little jine in their pocket?

  11. Diego Miller says:

    None of the affor mentioned characters have any pedigree or knowledge of running or serving on any government organization. God help us. Give them whatever committee they want. Its all about the free dinner and the puffing of their egos. You’d better get to work on some transportation committee. Do you have any plans for natural gas for Public Works and County vehicles? The money the county has wasted on diesel fuel over the last decade is inexcusable. What is the Commission doing on green projects and how about recycling. Forget the Committees and lets get something done that will make a real difference.

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