The graffiti appeared sometime last week in bold, red letters on the side of the house at 64 Midway Drive: “Texas called… Landon.”
Whoever did it doubled down since, with black and a suggestively obscene graffiti, in spite of a notice of a code enforcement violation. Graffiti on city buildings is illegal.
The graffiti is is on a west-facing wall of the 1,500-square-foot house (the property appraiser categorizes it as a warehouse), immediately across from the high-traffic Wawa parking lot. Anyone driving or walking by can see it, and can now see the added drawing that can be interpreted as an upside down gun or something more anatomically suggestive, on top of the enigmatic letters: “N.O.W.”
The word “promises…” has been drawn below a window (the windows are all shaded), above an inexplicable marking: “Bloh” or “B/oh,” and the word “Property” added next to “Landon.”
Palm Coast government officials did not know what to make of the red graffiti, precisely, since the words could be read different ways. But its timing and location was ominous. It appeared days days after the school massacre in Texas.
Jim Landon was the former Palm Coast city manager, but he was fired four years ago and though he still lives in the city, he hasn’t had anything to do with city business since. Before his 11-year tenure in Palm Coast, he’d been the city manager in Lancaster, Texas, a detail Lewis Ames, in a brief interview today, noted.
Ames does not live at the property. He is responsible for what appears on his property’s walls, and said he was contacted by the city’s code enforcement department. “It means I’ve got to either paint the building or get a lien on the property,” Ames said, before calling Landon “a bad guy.” But the city does not think Ames is the author of the graffiti, so much as his son, Andy Ames.
Andy Ames has had a running feud with the city, since the attempt to acquire the property and that of the nearby auto sales business for the Wawa development. Neither acquisition attempt was successful. (Lewis Ames said he does not consider his property to be in the city, because he says he does not get water and sewer, but the city does.)
Andy Ames was once a traffic engineer with the city, but was fired many years ago. His name is among those that once appeared on a list of residents the city had kept and called “Difficult Citizens List.”
The list was populated with some three dozen names or incidents that involved mostly threats, insults or attempted violence against the city’s customer service, code enforcement or other employees. It was designed as a caution for employees when dealing with particular people, similar to such lists maintained by law enforcement or first responder dispatch centers, who warn those they dispatch when the person or persons getting a service call may have a violent history. But because the city administration never publicized the list, giving it the appearance of a secret document–as it in fact was, in effect–and because it gave people on it no avenue of appeal, the city council a year ago ordered it scrapped.
Andy Ames’s name appeared in an entry titled “Harrassment [sic.] or Continued disruptive behavior,” dated Feb. 19, either in 2019 or in 2020, with a further allegation: “Mr. Ames is a disgruntled citizen (also a former employee). He is having an issue with the building department regarding the land his family owns next to WaWa. He left a meeting on Feb. 20 extremely agitated.”
On June 28, Palm Coast Code Enforcement opened a case regarding the graffiti. A city spokesperson said the notice of violation would be issued to the property owner by mail, because the city did not want to potentially endanger its code enforcement officers by sending them in person. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is not involved in the matter, a sheriff’s spokesman said this week. But Lewis Ames had clearly become aware of the specifics of the notice of violation.
The description of the violation is of “graffiti or similar markings,” and the directive is to “remove graffiti from building structure or paint over it with matching color,” according to the case file. A note indicates that the owner was notified by phone and by mail. At the time, only the red graffiti had gone up, so the violation refers only to that. (The city first documented the graffiti on June 27).
“Owner stated that he will have his son contact the City,” the case file notes. It’s not clear if Andy Ames has done that.
“My son is the creator of that,” Lewis Ames said shortly into the phone interview, “I should have you talk to him.” He put Andy Ames on the phone. Andy was at first cordial, but when asked about the markings, he quickly became defensive and truculent. “I don’t know what they did,” he said. “I don’t know anything.” He claimed not to know anything about any graffiti. “I don’t, the city probably knows,” he said, but then suggested: “Let’s talk about it July 15.” Asked about the significance of that date, he said, “it’s significant to me,” before adding, “I don’t need to explain a fucking thing to a fucking person. Thank you.” He then hung up.
Moments later he called to say that neither he nor his father speak to media, but spoke again at some length about the city’s attorneys, something about Michael Chiumento III, a land use attorney in Palm Coast, and when told that the questions were referring only to the graffiti, he said, “put on your glasses, buddy, ’cause I don’t think you’re current.” But as of 11 this morning, after the call, the red and black graffiti were still there.
Section 35-75 of city code, under public nuisances, states: “The property shall be maintained free of graffiti or similar markings by removal or painting over with an exterior grade paint that matches the color of the exterior structure.”
The property owner has until Tuesday to comply with code enforcement’s violation notice.