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The FBI’s Palm Coast Visit and Jim Landon’s Accuracy Problem

| February 4, 2015

Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon at the council's ethics training session earlier this month. (© FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon at the council’s ethics training session earlier this month. (© FlaglerLive)

At the end of Tuesday evening’s Palm Coast City Council meeting, councilman Bill McGuire asked City Manager Jim Landon if there was “any upshot to the FBI investigation.” McGuire was referring to the FBI interviewing two public works officials on Jan. 21 in connection with Tony Capela and his recent resignation as the city’s street superintendent.

pierre tristam flaglerlive editor's blogLandon chuckled. “You must be listening to the media because I don’t know that there is an investigation,” he said, and went on to say that he “actually got a kick out of that because the media showed up like we had a raid going on, and they were reporting, which wasn’t the case at all.”

Landon is notoriously thin-skinned and often disdainful of media that don’t act like extensions of his PR machine. That’s the norm for people in his position. But at least he’s not dishonest, which is not necessarily the norm for people in his position.

Tuesday evening, he was. He accused the media of mis-characterizing the FBI visit. But it was Landon who was mis-characterizing the media, distorting the record and deriding the local press in a way he never would dare—or that council members should never tolerate—if he were referring to any other local business.

In none of the reporting by the News-Journal, the Observer or FlaglerLive was it stated either that the FBI visit was an “investigation” or that a “raid” had taken place. The mater was explicitly described as a visit, an interview or an inquiry and placed in the context of the Capela background, on city spokeswoman Cindi Lane’s lead. Capela before he resigned in December had been investigated by the state ethics commission and by the city itself.

Each of the three outlets refrained from speculation and waited on the city’s official version before running stories. Each of the three outlets referred to previous investigations, quoted Lane’s references to those investigations, and cited the FBI’s standard practice of neither confirming nor denying whether an investigation was taking place. There were no assumptions or leaps of reporting beyond that. If Landon is suggesting that an FBI visit to city offices in the context of the Capela history is not relevant as news, his understanding of the press and people’s right to know their city’s business is even more wobbly than I feared.

“We had someone that came and chatted with one of our employees,” Landon told the council Tuesday. “There’s a big difference between having an investigation and having a meeting where they call and say hey, we would like to talk to you. And to tell you the truth, we have law enforcement come see us all the time. There are a variety of reasons why they come to see us, because of what we’re involved in day in and day out, and the fact that we were closely with the sheriff’s office.”

Again: no media portrayed the matter as an “investigation,” though Landon comparing a visit by FBI agents to the routine interactions with local cops is, well, worthy of Landonesque derision. The FBI doesn’t get involved in routine matters. It doesn’t even get involved in state matters. Its jurisdiction is federal crimes, which rise in seriousness just a tad above red-light camera infractions and vandalism at city parks.

Landon, who attended his council’s ethics-training course just last week, is the sort of guy who likes his media to be deferential and respectful. A good place to start, Jim, is with you attitude and example, to say nothing of a greater respect for accuracy. And for local businesses, whatever their stripe.

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14 Responses for “The FBI’s Palm Coast Visit and Jim Landon’s Accuracy Problem”

  1. Nalla C. says:

    When will this city be relieved of this ineffectual blow-hard?

  2. David B. says:

    There has to be something going on for a federal agency to show up at the cities door to want to speak to a Manager of Public Works, and the Director of Utilities. about a former Street Superintendent, when many State Agency’s had questioned this employee work record. Perhaps the State felt the FBI needed to get involved.

  3. confidential says:

    Now Weeks is out of the way, then they aim at the media.

  4. m&m says:

    I’m not surprised at this, it was long in coming.

  5. Groot says:

    “Landonesque derision”. I love it, absolutely love it! What a perfect description of the man’s demeanor. The FBI stopped by for a chat? Tell you what, if it the FBI stopped by for a “chat” when I was working for state government, it would not have been categorized as a “chat”. Did they serve tea and cookies to the FBI guys? “Chat”? Ha, right. FBI guy says, we was just driving by and we thought we’d just stop by and give ya the FBI hey, hey!

  6. downinthelab says:

    The raid is coming, time to delete the emails and crank up the paper shredder!

  7. tomc says:

    Why is the FBI here? Get ot out my city and find some Muslim terrorists.bY

  8. Tomc says:

    “The FBI doesn’t get involved in routine matters. It doesn’t even get involved in state matters” ?

    You must be kidding. The FBI has become very politicized and very intrusive under the Obama administration.

  9. Swale Hollow says:

    I bet the FBI got in involved when one of their “retired” agents complained about water in his swale and the city put him off like they do EVERYBODY else who complains.

    • Brian Riehle says:

      So Pierre, why didn’t you ask Landon why the FBI was here and then report on his answer or non-answer to the question ?

      • Pierre Tristam says:

        Landon directed Cindi Lane to answer all those questions on Jan. 23, and that was reported. That’s what made his reinterpretation inappropriate. What he says in that council meeting to his council members is what matters. Keep in mind: he doesn’t consider FlaglerLive part of the media landscape.

  10. Joe says:

    He should apply for Brian Williams job, he would be a natural at it!

  11. Anonymous says:

    What was the FBI wanting to know from those they interviewed and will they be back? Did the FBI talk to Landon at all? It seems to be quite typical that when there is an issue, Landon claims everything is a non issue. Just sayin.

  12. mr bill says:

    palm coast , has had rats in their wood pile for years wasting money ,like cameras that are illegal ,and the police can park in the sections ,this only gives the look that there is trouble in the section for buyers of homes ,and we need them to use a less 4 cars of police at every stop of a car ,waste of money on redoing land scape were they have to hire more workers to keep ,and why do you need them to tell you how many tree in your yard is someone in the city have a interest in a landscape company, all dealings with local gov. a no where trip ,like pissing in to a fan and think you not going to get wit ,start from top mayor ,middle to bottom , basic saying is the hold bush is useless as the tits on a bore hog …….

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