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Charter Review Proposal Finally Dies Amid Accusations of “Political Ploy” and Straw Men

| October 20, 2015

steven nobile palm coast city council charter review

Palm Coast City Council member Steven Nobile’s six-month campaign for a review of the city charter failed for good at this morning’s council meeting. (© FlaglerLive)

There will not be a charter review in Palm Coast. Two motions attempting to create a review—one that would have been conducted by a citizens’ panel, one by the Palm Coast City Council itself—failed to garner so much as a second Tuesday morning during a strident segment of the council meeting.

It was an ugly end to a messy process dating back to council member Steven Nobile’s first attempt to launch such a review in May.


Nobile started the discussion this morning by asking for a vote on a charter review committee made up of residents. The committee would have been appointed by the council, but would then have acted independently, with city staff support, with the authority to draft charter amendments that would then have been placed on the next election ballot for voters to accept or reject.

Council member Jason DeLorenzo said he’d spoken to previous council members and other elected officials to get guidance on what makes the most sense. “I find myself conflicted because the actual charter review and the civic part of a charter review, I actually find to be a good idea,” he said, after seconding Nobile’s motion only for discussion purposes. “But I still cannot get over the fact that this is in my mind, this is still a political ploy, and nothing more than that. And I really think very little good other than arguing will come out of this. And that is why I cannot support it at this time, and I rescind my second.”

“Pfft,” Nobile reacted, “that’s pretty interesting. I take offense to that political statement because when I first made statement that I thought we should do a charter review, had I not been so brutally attacked because of the fact that this council was threatened by a third party, and they decided they were going to take action against me, because of what Dennis McDonald came into this council and said.” Until Nobile’s pitch for a review, the only other person to propose the idea to the council was McDonald, a director with the Ronald Reagan Republican Assemblies—the extremist Republican group that now dominates much of the local GOP committee structure—and a three-time candidate for various local offices who’s also sued the city twice. The Reagan assemblies have distanced themselves from Nobile’s charter proposal.

“So I take offense to that,” Nobile continued, his voice now booming. “I do not pander to anyone. I did not ask for a charter for no one’s request, but people who live in my district, Democrats, Republicans, Independents and like I stated last time, every single person who stood up here and said I’m against a charter review, ended their statement with—but if we do do one, I’d like to see this changed. This is not political. This is basic process that this council has decided on its own it will not do, and for that reason I continue to fight that because I am here fighting for the people who want their voice heard, not just the council. They want the council to represent them, not to tell them what they want. That’s why I brought it forward, not for any political advancement. That has been a ruse by many people in this town who have put it through the newspapers and have advanced their straw-man attacks on this, that Steve Nobile and his small group want to take over the city. Just how absurd does that sound? Does that not sound absurd to any of you?”

The council did not engage Nobile. Mayor Jon Netts immediately went to the procedural question, seeking a second to Nobile’s motion. He did not hear one. Shipley then proposed a different option: the council’s review. Shipley was not interested in committee appointees that would “think exactly like us” and don’t work in the council’s setting. She preferred a council-led review over the next few meetings, taking the charter segment by segment. That motion died too.

Netts said the charter is effectively open to discussion and informal review at every council meeting, whether by council members or by members of the public. The discussion might have ended there, but DeLorenzo wanted to make further points—that he represents close to 20,000 people in his district, and just because he did not hear from them, he felt compelled to represent and “protect” them as well.

Council member Bill McGuire was befuddled over what, precisely, had to be fixed through the charter review. “What cancer am I trying to cut out of the charter and what am I trying to fix?” he said. “It’s like if my wife comes home and says I need a new car. Well why do you need a new car? Well, everybody at the VFW says I need one, so I guess I need one.”

“You can’t compare that, please, come on, it’s like your retirement plan,” Nobile interrupted, prompting a rebuke from the mayor. McGuire then went on. “If there are specific things in the charter that cry out for correction, tell me what they are and I’ll probably get behind them, but just to have a charter review just to have a review, doesn’t make any sense to me. We’ve got real problems in this city that we’re trying to address every time we have a meeting, and while I commend you, Mr. Nobile, for your dedication, no one has as yet told me what’s broken.”

Nobile suggested that the right comparison, rather than to a car, is to a retirement plan, or to a strategic plan—which is reviewed every year. “So please, with the straw man stuff, I mean the comparisons are terrible,” he said, discrediting the notion that decisions should be made based on email responses.

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24 Responses for “Charter Review Proposal Finally Dies Amid Accusations of “Political Ploy” and Straw Men”

  1. confidential says:

    Yes we need a charter review, that will also prevent the peoples will on a referendum be ignred and by passed and maybe next time at the ballot box these two new councilmen for reviewing the charter, may get also some new councilmen to work with them.

  2. Lin says:

    This little city government parallels the federal stagnant logjam where good ideas are not put forth for political reasons. A shame. And the reason, I guess, is political in that any look at the charter may open up opportunity for change and growth. DeLorenzo is claiming ploy and possibility of argument. And the others agree except for Nobile. How is closing the door on looking at the charter in the best interests of constituents?

    I like this analogy better than the new car
    I go to the dr for checkups to see if there is anything wrong
    I don’t say I look good on the outside & I may find something that needs fixing so better not go to the dr.

  3. Brad W says:

    Way to go Mayor Netts, Councilman DeLorenzo, and Councilman McGuire. Outstanding job. Mr. Nobile is NOT a victim and is simply being asked to specifically call out what is broken and needs fixing. Since he is not able or willing to do that it’s obvious there is some other agenda. Mayor Netts is exactly correct that there ar far more important matters than this junk Nobile wants to dwell on for self-serving reasons. It is absolutely disgusting that someone who supposedly cares about the City of Palm Coast and the people isn’t focusing full-on to work with the schools regarding over-crowding at our bus stops and adding more stops back in that were removed. Or working with the Sheriff’s office to demand more patrols that have been taken away and it’s noticeable. Or working towards improving the local economy which he committed to during his campaign. So thank goodness for the other Council Members who have sense enough to see through this junk and stand up against such utter junk.

  4. m&m says:

    Another situation when the people spoke up and it went on death ears. The city council doesn’t give a s- -t about what we want because it may expose the BS that goes on behind closed doors.

  5. Rob says:

    What are they so afraid of?

  6. Richard Mikola says:

    And the Tea Party / RRRA attempt to take over the council goes down in flames! The good people of Palm Coast are saved until their next stunt. They will destroy Palm Coast government, the same way they destroyed the Flagler and Palm Coast Republican Clubs, by banning anyone who disagrees with them. I’m sure there’s a ‘book burning’ on their agenda in the future.

  7. Karnack says:

    Good Ol Boys at Work – Council member Jason DeLorenzo said he’s spoken to previous council members and other elected officials to get guidance on what makes the most sense. When he states “he finds it to be ACTUALLY a GOOD IDEA ” he is ethically derelict in duty.
    Jason DeLorenzo is the one creating the political ploy not Mr. Nobile.

  8. YankeeExPat says:

    “The Reagan assemblies have distanced themselves from Nobile’s charter proposal.”

    Poppycock and Balderdash !

  9. CHOPSHOP says:

    Great job, special interest go’s down in flames, The citizens of palm coast have spoken. Now Mr. Nobile do it the right way with the thousands of people you claim to support a charter review , Get a referendum with signed signatures Instead of sneaking around behind voters back like a snake.

  10. layla says:

    WHAT political ploy, Mr. DeLorenzo? Thank you for doing YOUR JOB, Mr. Nobile. Too many in our local governments serving themselves instead of our local citizens. You are a rare bird in this community indeed. We are lucky to have you.

  11. Giada says:

    Nobile is not capable to say what is broken, he does’nt know himself.

  12. Bill says:

    So why is it a bad idea to “REVIEW” the charter?? Maybe because we might find something that can work better in out little City? Those that have the power here don’t want any Change even if it si for the good.

  13. layla says:

    Karnack: Your comment is spot on.

  14. Edith Campins says:

    Good. Now can we move on and review Landon’s performance?

  15. caro mikola says:

    Nobile should resign from the council or the Ronald Reagan Assembly. Resigning from the council would be my 1st choice for him.

  16. JLS says:

    I’m not opposed to a review… or change for that matter, it is the unilateral consistent. However, I must admit the hesitation and absurdities posing as threats on both sides of the position seem nothing more than political bias. Here is my request: rather than cars, retirement plans, doctor appointments, and all other analogies… SHOW me. I believe Mr. Nobile has thrown some talking points into the mix… salaries, districts, representation, etc. do some homework, please. Present an examined, logical plan that illustrates the current charter versus proposed charter changes, or some kind of overarching goals, direction and rationale that may allow the common folk… i.e. me, to first understand and then be able to support your proposition.

  17. Algernon says:

    M&M, Unless you have a crystal ball, how can you claim to know this? If you have proof, tell the world. Contact the authorities. Tell Flagler Live!

    If you’re just blowing off steam, please stop for it’s insulting to all five council members who are serving for the people of Palm Coast.

  18. Steve says:

    What happened to transparency? How could anyone accept a council who shuts out the citizens? Since they are so headstrong on not having a charter review, that makes me more curious as to what is in the charter that they don’t want us to know. Palm Coasters should never accept a council that Is not willing to be transparent to it’s citizens. Time for a new council next election.

  19. SadieS says:

    @Steve here is a link to the Charter, it is Public Record, nothing hidden. How is the council not being transparent when the Charter documents are and have always been public record?

    https://flaglerlive.com/wp-content/uploads/palm-coast-charter.pdf

  20. Brad W says:

    Steve,

    I’m curious why you think the City of Palm Coast and the Council is not “transparent”. Let’s take this Charter Review matter for example:

    1. The Charter is accessible as a PDF download for everyone to access and read
    2. The Charter allows for citizens to bring specific matters up to the Council to be addressed either by Council vote or vote by the general public if appropriate
    3. Meetings of the Council are public with the agenda, results, audio, and often video available online

    So my question is how much more transparent can you get? What should the Council or City do to be more transparent?

    In all honesty, as I read through comments in favor not one person is mentioning specifics for a reason why and that includes Steven Nobile. And often the comments say that nearly all of the people in favor of a year-long review are just wanting to do it for the sake of doing it. It’s just silly.

  21. Vincent Neri says:

    It seems hard to believe that after all these years the charter not been reviewed already. The review process is the path in which discovery is made for the possibility of change to happen. If we are unwilling to review the charter then how could changes ever be made. Management and leadership teams in business review and make changes all the time and that is what keeps them a going concern. If this is understood to be a common practice in the business world they why is Steven Nobile so wrong. For the purpose of making something better it must be examined or reviewed. If their is no willingness to at least revew what is going on then no changes can ever happen. Everything in my academic training and experience tells me that an unwillingness to review the charter is symbolic of a stagnant and backward looking local government.

  22. Steve says:

    Sadie and Brad. Of course the Charter is public. It is the lack of transparency of the council members reasons as to why they don’t want to have it reviewed that is not transparent. What is it in the charter that they don’t want to risk having potentially modified because of a review. What harm would it do to have a review? Ideas and strategies may need to change as time goes on. I think that the council doesn’t want to risk change in the charter, hence, the decision not to review. No where did any council member give a reason why the don’t want a review and the implication that it doesn’t need one is unacceptable.

  23. layla says:

    Vincent, “stagnant and backward looking local government”? Oh honey, if you only knew!

  24. Oldseadog says:

    Fortunately, the STATE itself has no choice in a real review to gain CITIZEN INPUT!

    http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/education-effort-underway-before-next-florida-constitution-revision/2251446

    PERHAPS we in Palm Coast could petition or at least not vote for Council Members who HIDE from the mere thought of a REVIEW of our existing City Charter……………….?

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