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Wednesday Briefing: Volusia’s Sheriff Johnson Retires, Cops Protest Tarantino at Palm Coast’s Epic, Science’s Gettysburg

| January 6, 2016

flagler beach city hall

The Flagler Beach City Hall’s board chambers, where the city commission usually meets, has been transformed into temporary office space as the city repairs another segment of its administrative building, which was the site of a water main break in December. (© FlaglerLive)

Today: high in upper 60s, lows in mid-50s. Details here.
Today’s fire danger is moderate. Flagler County’s Drought Index is at 370.
Today’s tides: at the beaches, at the Intracoastal Waterway.
Today’s document from the National Archives.
The OED’s Word of the Day: panegyric, n. and adj..
The Live Community Calendar
Today’s jail bookings.

Today’s Briefing: Quick Links

In Flagler and Palm Coast:

Note: all government meetings noticed below are free and open to the public unless otherwise indicated. Many can be heard or seen live through each agency’s website.

The Palm Coast Code Enforcement Board meets at Palm Coast City Hall at 10 a.m. See the full agenda of cases here.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #171 of Palm Coast will be protesting remarks the producer and director Quentin Tarantino made at a protest of police brutality late last year. The protest will take place in front of Epic Theater in Palm Coast’s Town Center. Tarantino’s comments have been frequently misquoted, with allegations that he condemned all police as murderers (allegations Ron Conklin, president of FOP Lodge 171, repeated in an email announcing Wednesday’s protest), though Tarantino said no such thing. His full comments were brief and as follows: “Hey, everybody. I got something to say, but actually I would like to give my time to the families that want to talk. I want to give my time to the families. However I do just also want to say: What am I doing here? I’m doing here because I am a human being with a conscience, and when I see murder I cannot stand by, and I have to call the murdered the murdered and I have to call the murderers the murderers. Now I want to give my time to the families.” He subsequently clarified in an interview with the Los Angeles Times: “All cops are not murderers. I never said that. I never even implied that.”

Wrestling: Flagler Palm Coast High School meets Matanzas High School, at FPC, 5:30 p.m.

Ribbon-Cutting: At A1A Beverages, 1842 A S. Oceanshore Blvd, Flagler Beach, 4 p.m.

Closure Note: Temporary road closure planned Wednesday at Bird of Paradise-Birchwood intersection: Palm Coast will be performing a road repair that will necessitate the temporary closure of Bird of Paradise Drive from Birchwood Drive/Birchwood Place to Burroughs Drive on Wednesday, Jan. 6, from approximately 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Detours will be posted. Residents of the B Section will be able to access their houses, but may have to follow a detour. Because the work is being done near the canal at Bird of Paradise/Birchwood, motorists will not be able to travel the length of Bird of Paradise between Matanzas Woods Parkway and Belle Terre Parkway.

Local News Recap:

Billboard Aims to Stoke New Leads Into Suspicious Vanishing in May of George Contos: For the sheriff’s office and Crime Stoppers, going the route of a billboard is itself unusual—it’s not been done in recent memory in Flagler County—but it also points to the fog surrounding the case since May.

Flagler School Enrollment Flat For 8th Straight Year Even as Population Continues to Grow: The latest figures show the continuation of a stubborn trend: while the county’s population has increased between 1,000 and 1,500 a year since the housing crash, the school-age population has not, an indication that what population growth the county is experiencing is mostly made up of retired or non-working people. Working-age families with children are moving too, of course, but not in enough numbers to more than replace those that are leaving. The net effect is flat enrollment numbers.

Sheriff Ben Johnson.

Sheriff Ben Johnson.

Volusia Sheriff Ben Johnson retiring: “It’s been a great run and it’s a job that I’ve absolutely loved, but there comes a time when all things must end,” Johnson, 65, said Tuesday in a tearful announcement reported by the News-Journal. “Much has been accomplished during my tenure in office but it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation and a new leader, someone with fresh, new bold ideas, someone who can take the Sheriff’s Office to the next level of success and achievement.” The retirement means Volusia will have a competitive race for sheriff for the first time in years. The News-Journal reports: “Each of his re-elections came easily and his terms, for the most part, have had little turmoil. Some of the most difficult times were in the past year and a half. Early last year an unarmed Deltona man was shot and killed by a sheriff’s narcotics investigator, who was cleared after a state investigation. The Sheriff’s Office is also the last of the large local agencies not to outfit its deputies with body or patrol car cameras.” (Story paywall-protected)

Sudden Resignation of Flagler Beach Firefighter Follows Allegations of “Unauthorized Absences”: Cpt. Bobby Pace, the fire chief, said the allegations centered on Dixon leaving his post, what’s technically referred to as taking unauthorized absences, “probably to meet someone nearby, that’s basically what I heard,” Pace said. “I asked him about it, he said it happened a couple of times.” Very quickly after that, he resigned.

Cops in schools: A Senate Democrat on Tuesday proposed a bill that would require school-resource officers or school-safety officers at every public-school campus. The bill (SB 1368), filed by Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, would tighten a law that allows school boards to decide whether to establish school-resource officer programs. It would require school boards to establish the programs and would require that at least one officer be present at each public school from 30 minutes before classes start until 30 minutes after classes end. The bill is filed for the legislative session that begins next week. (News Service of Florida)

More Than 13,000 Rape Kits Remain Untested Statewide as Crime Labs Strain: The report — based on a survey conducted from mid-August to mid-December — shows that 13,435 untested rape kits are waiting in the evidence rooms of 279 law-enforcement agencies. That’s in addition to about 3,500 rape kits that come to FDLE each year.

In State Government:

Note: Most proceedings below can be followed live on the Florida Channel.

The State Board of Education is expected to discuss a series of issues, including “cut” scores for the Florida Standards Assessments. Among the other issues will be reports related to performance funding for Pasco-Hernando State College, Pensacola State College, College of Central Florida, Northwest Florida State College and Daytona State College. (9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.)

–Compiled by the News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive

In Coming Days in Palm Coast and Flagler:

Click on the links for more details:

  • Jan. 7: Romeo & Juliet, Performed by The State Ballet Theatre of Russia, at the Flagler Auditorium, 7:30 p.m. Founded by legendary dancer and former principal dancer of The Bolshoi Theatre Ballet, Maya Plisetskaya, The State Ballet Theatre of Russia – now under the direction of award-winning dancer and Moiseyev Dance Company soloist Nikolay Anokhin – presents the most passionate romantic tragedy every told. This full-scale production is choreographed by Bolshoi Theatre Ballet Choreographer Michael Lavrovsky, and based on William Shakespeare’s timeless tale of tragic love. The State Ballet Theatre of Russia presents 55 of Russia’s brightest ballet stars to bring this celebration of true love onto our stage and into our hearts.
  • Jan. 8: Celebrate the Flagler County Public Library’s 16th birthday at 2 p.m. Music will be provided by well know musician and resident of Flagler Beach, Capt’n Nick. Dancing encouraged. Cake will be served. Sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Any questions, call 386-446-6763.
  • Jan. 9: Palm Coast’s Christmas Tree Recycling Event.
  • Jan. 13: Mayor Jon Netts will be the featured speaker at the Indian Trails II Neighborhood Watch meeting at the Flagler County Public Library, 6 p.m.
  • Jan. 30: The City of Palm Coast’s Town Center Park will host the Color Vibe 5K – the first-ever “colorful” walk-run in Palm Coast. The Palm Coast Color Vibe 5K will be held Saturday, Jan. 30, at Central Park in Town Center, 975 Central Ave.

PR Releases:

Click on the link for more details.

In the Press, In the News:



Fact-Checking the Knaves:

Palm Coast Construction and Development Progress Reports

The following is an update of ongoing construction and development projects in Palm Coast, through Dec. 15:

Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church and School, 1 percent done: Located at 5625 North US Highway 1, the school received a Development Order for a new 13,794 sq. ft. early learning center to be located on the south side of their 8.6-acre site. The architecture of the new one-story building will be very similar to the existing church and school facilities that are located just north of the proposed new building.

Holland Park, 48 percent done: Grading and installation of perimeter sidewalk continues. Electrical conduits being installed to new restroom. Restroom plot has been cleared and graded. Water service has been installed at restroom site. Surveying for basketball court and roadway has begun..

County’s I-95 Interchange Matanzas Woods Reclaim Water, 76 percent done: Retention ponds are being excavated and fill continues for the ramps. (Not in the Dec. 15 update.)

Palm Harbor Parkway Roadway Extension, 38 percent done: The headwall for the double barrel stormwater pipe has been installed and tied in. The water main and reuse main have been extended towards Forest Grove Drive waiting on the
closure of the road next week to make the road crossing.

Colechester Bridge, 93 percent done: Seawall has been completed on the east side, slope pavement has begun.

North Old Kings Road Extension to Matanzas Woods Parkway, 19 percent done: Asphalt was installed on the new section of roadway adjacent to the old roadway at the intersection of Old Kings Road and Forest Grove. (Not in the Dec. 4 update.)

Old Kings Road Force Main 83 percent done:: Contractor has completed the Force main up to the pig launch points and restored the site and trail. The area for the pig flush was completed and flushing has started. (Not in the Dec. 15 update.)

Road and Interstate Construction:

Forest Grove Drive connection to Palm Harbor Parkway to be closed starting Dec. 18: Effective Friday, Dec. 18, the City of Palm Coast will be closing the Forest Grove Drive connection to Palm Harbor Parkway. This road closure is required as part of construction operations for the Palm Harbor Parkway extension, which is currently under construction. Palm Harbor is being realigned and extended to connect directly with Matanzas Woods Parkway where it intersects with Old Kings Road. Message boards will be placed to advise motorists and other travelers of the upcoming change, and a public meeting has already been held for residents living in that area. Both the Palm Harbor extension and a separate extension of Old Kings Road are being built in preparation for the new Interstate 95 interchange to open next June at Matanzas Woods Parkway. As part of the projects, traffic patterns around Matanzas High School will be changing. One goal is to turn Forest Grove Drive back into a residential street as it was originally intended to be. The upcoming road closure of the Forest Grove Drive connection to Palm Harbor Parkway is part of that project. Forest Grove will be turned into a cul de sac on that end. Once the separate Old Kings Road extension is completed, in June 2016, the Forest Grove Drive access to the high school will be closed because it will no longer be needed. Instead, motorists and other travelers will get to Matanzas High School via the new signalized intersection at Matanzas Woods, Palm Harbor and Old Kings. For more information, please contact Palm Coast Communications Manager Cindi Lane at 386-986-3708 or

Cultural Coda:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Defends Science in 272 Words

From Bill Gates: “Neil deGrasse Tyson is amazing at explaining science. He also makes a great argument for why science matters. Earlier this year, inspired by the short and eloquent Gettysburg Address, he made his case in an equally short, eloquent speech. Here it is:”

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8 Responses for “Wednesday Briefing: Volusia’s Sheriff Johnson Retires, Cops Protest Tarantino at Palm Coast’s Epic, Science’s Gettysburg”

  1. Dirk Noel Theriault says:

    The Idea that Tarantino’s remarks have been misquoted is an absurd allegation. Tarantino’s comments at the BLM protest in New York when his egregious statements implied that police generally have murderous intentions are recorded, in context on video. He only tried to back away from his statements when he realized that public outcry might hurt him at the box office with the upcoming release of his latest violent film. Tarantino is a sanctimonious hypocrite

  2. PCer says:

    RE: Flat enrollment in schools…. Has enrollment in the charter schools, private schools, or homeschooling options gone up? Many parents are not happy with the education students are getting in Flagler schools (I am one of those parents) are are opting to go different routes with their children.

  3. PCer says:

    …. and he makes some of the best films the world has ever seen AND has the Constitutional right to say what he feels. His remarks were not anti-police, they were anti-murder.

  4. Veteran says:

    Tarantino is a typical Hollywood liberal jerk.

  5. Barry Hartmann says:


  6. BIG JOHN says:

    Since when is it un-American to criticize law enforcement.
    Are cops exempt from the same moral restraints that the rest of us must follow?
    Does their job–difficult that it may be at times, thankless most of the time–give them a free pass to abuse people whom they wish….even act as judge, jury and executioner?
    Our system is based on the rule of the law and the common law and when an agency of the government violates these laws IT MUST BE STOPPED!

  7. Retired says:

    I am retired LEO and a member of the FOP. I totally disagree with their thinking and protest. Someone will always scrutinize and interpret what some says or writes with negative connotation no matter what the true intentions were. Hell people are going to disagree with me. I have always been opposed to painting with a broad brush so I will say this Good COPs suffer at the hands of the BAD ones because the public and media paint with that broad brush. I believe that “all lives matter.” I also believe there are just as many bad COPs who are people of color. I am fascinated that no media outlet has reviewed those statistics, and if they have, why aren’t they being published. ALL BAD COPS NEED TO BE WEEDED OUT OF OUR NOBALE PROFESSION!

    In regards to the movie, my wife and I went to watch it. It was a typical bloody Tarantino movie. For all of you protesters, I will say this, Tarantino had an opportunity to show he did not like COPs in the movie. Samuel L. Jackson (A man of Color) killed many people in the movie, but not Walter Goggins, the Sheriff elect in the movie, who is white. The two lived and partnered together. I believe if he didn’t like LEO, he would have had the Sheriff taken out as well.

    Mr. Conklin, please rally your members and spend your money on a more worthy cause. Put food on the table of a hungry person. Give shelter to a homeless family. Tutor a struggling student. But don’t waste anyone’s time with your foolish politics.

  8. PCer says:

    Tarantino never said anything about cops.

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