Last Updated: 11:34 a.m.
It was all strategy.
At least that’s how Palm Coast City Council member Eddie Branquinho put it. Branquinho says his storming out of the council workshop last week was pre-meditated. He did it to draw attention to his cause–opposition to most apartment construction in the city.
He said at the time that “I don’t belong here,” and that he would rethink whether he’d ever return. But he’s not self-evicting: Branquinho is returning to Tuesday’s council meeting, and he will serve out his term through early November. He’s opted not to run for re-election. But he says he may run for mayor, challenging David Alfin, in two years. (See: “‘I Don’t Belong Here,’ Eddie Branquinho Says, Storming Out of Council Meeting After Not Getting His Way.”)
“Of course I am,” he said, when asked Sunday if he intended to return to the council. “I have absolutely no intention to quit.”
Branquinho said he had orchestrated walking out of a council meeting during discussions leading up to the 151 percent raise council members voted themselves in April. Branquinho opposed the raise. But he said he decided to save the move for the apartment issue, because he could only do it once effectively.
“Of course it was strategy,” Branquinho said. “I got the attention. That’s the whole idea of this.” He said his walk-out drew articles in the local press and on the radio, he got phone calls and emails, and it resulted in his getting invited to a radio show on WNZF to talk about the issue further. That, he said, is all he wanted, knowing all along that his stance was a losing one with fellow-council members. Branquinho said he doesn’t see his decision to leave the meeting as damaging his image or his cause. “My cause was damaged to begin with,” he said.
Mayor David Alfin did not take kindly to the move. “I think it lack if respect and disservice to city staff and to the residents to formulate political strategies on ploys and baseless information,” Alfin said late this morning, after learning of the reasoning behind Branquinho’s exit. “It certainly is contrary to my investment in collaboration on the dais. We’ve worked very hard for almost a year now to create a level of collaboration which doesn’t necessitate agreement but does require decorum and mutual respect.”
Alfin’s overarching–and unquestioned–achievement since he became mayor was to turn what had been the most dysfunctional, combative local government board into a functioning panel, with former foes treating each other with respect and deference. “Setting precedent like this is contrary to the initiative of collaboration, and I don’t think it helps win the community’s respect that we’re doing our best to serve as city council members,” Alfin said.
Branquinho has almost reflexively opposed any new apartment zoning or construction, and most new single-family developments, claiming that they’re bringing too much density to the city. Drawing on his experience in Newark, N.J., he says the push for affordable housing will result in a degradation of housing through crime and subsidized housing, eventually making the city less desirable and only then causing housing costs to fall, because–again, in his view–fewer people will want to live here.
The claims are not backed up by fact: the surge in development, including the addition of several apartment complexes in Palm Coast, Bunnell and Flagler Beach, has coincided with a doubling of the median price of a single family home in less than four years, to $400,000 and, this year alone, the largest increase in property values in 16 years. Rents are rising out of reach for the working poor, and the housing supply in the county is down to a mere month, all indications that there is a severe housing shortage. Crime, meanwhile, as Sheriff Rick Staly frequently points out, has fallen by more than 50 percent in five years, to historic lows in Palm Coast and the county.
Still, Branquinho insists that apartments bring crime, and again made a comparison with Newark during an interview Sunday. Newark, however, is itself experiencing a surge in housing, to the point of gentrification.
Branquinho wants the city to survey residents on their support or opposition to apartments, and on the sort of lot size they deem acceptable for single family homes. The rest of the council thought the questions too loaded toward a pre-determined response, since they would be going to existing residents, most of them in single family homes built on ITT-era quarter-acre lots. Instead, the council favors a broader survey that examines residents’ long-term vision for development. The survey would inform the council as it redraws its comprehensive plan, the blueprint that sets out development patterns over decades.
The councilman said he would not presume to school fellow-Council member Nick Klufas on computer programming, or Alfin on realty, or Council member Ed Danko on television production. “But they can’t talk to me about safety and security and crime,” Branquinho, a retired cop, said, “and I recommend to them to take a look at a book called ‘Broken Windows.'” He was referring to the broken-windows theory of policing, which argues that the smallest infractions, including panhandling, graffiti, broken windows or jaywalking should not be tolerated because that would suggest that the community is not in control, and more serious crime would follow. The theory is controversial and by no means proven. Critics point out that it is a pretext for targeting minorities and petty infractions, leading to heavy-handed policing with graver consequences. But it remains current in police parlance.
When it became clear to Branquinho that his colleagues would not support his approach–that they would “bury” his questions, as he put it–he stood up and left. The bulk of the workshop agenda was still ahead, including discussions on special events, the expansion of the tennis center, and a rather critical discussion on the budget. The council Tuesday evening is scheduled to set its tentative property tax rate for next year, based on that discussion.
Asked if he regretted not running for re-election, Branquinho said he did not. “I regret not running for mayor,” he said, before saying that he would likely be running in two years. Branquinho is not moving, so he cannot run for the seat he occupies now, in the district where he lives. That leaves only the mayor’s race open to him. “Probably I’ll come back in two years, you never know,” he said.
Alfin said “the good news is that in the City of Palm Coast, anyone can run for mayor.”
The dude says
If this crime infested shithole is 50% better than it was 5 years ago… I just don’t even know what to think.
I carry a gun here. Something I never felt compelled to do in my 35 years in Atlanta.
David S. says
I would vote for him over Alfin every day of the week. Alfin is nothing but a do nothing realtor with no common sense . He doesn’t belong in any political position..
ULTRA MAGA says
Alfin is WRONG for Palm Coast! The Master Plan is a JOKE because Developers continue to get Zoning Changes that will increase their PROFITS but will cause an INCREASE in Property Taxes!
Councilman Eddie why give citizens of PC a survey about building apartments when the City Mayor doesn’t listen to when we have taken survey’s before. You will recall how he gave himself a raise when the taxpayers were against it. And also another survey about Waste Pro and most said they were satisfied with their service but now we read City of PC and dropping them.
It is obvious the City Officials that beg for our votes when they are running and once elected they do whatever they want and taxpayers views don’t count anymore.
Exactly, Palm Coast just keeps growing & for the worse. Blame shift is inflation, but it starts with Joe Biden. The Build Back Better has dried up. typical Democrat, Obama-Biden policy where 90% become government recipients for rent, food , healthcare & whatever else the “unaffordable” lowball of that fantasy of socialism/communism & pay inequality has always been. Trust me, if you can pay $ 1.6-2K/month for one of these new apartments, why shouldn’t one have a house with a mortgage for considerably less than that. America, Palm Coast included has become flipper’s paradise for used cars & residential housing. The Alfin era, found a way to even make waste pickup cost more by going with a competitor that wasn’t even the lowest bid in a low bid RFP. Now we’re locked into that. If anyone thinks one waste company is any appreciably better than another at waste pickup is fooling themselves. There are no style points for a 2X a week pickup schedule.
Just have mixed feelings that anyone currently elected has anyone’s best interests beyond the political career. Some of the problems are obviously an inheritance from the Holland era. Speaking of inheritances, how is the Splash Pad fiasco coming along. This is the government’s status on that.
“The current Splash Pad Status is : Closed
The Splash Pad is closed for the season.”
The side note of unavailable & down for maintenance & repairs:
“The playground at Holland Park will be closed Tuesdays until 11am for preventative maintenance.”
Jimbo: they can pay the rent at that rate. Especially when you have roommates, which is what I used to do. What renters don’t have is the $30k-60k down payment.
Branquinho did permanent damage to both is reputation and the city overall. He claims this was a calculated effort? I don’t believe it for a second. If it was, it is even more disrespectful than walking out on the job because he was emotional. This guy is full of drama that we don’t need in this city. The dais is not for political stunts, which Branquinho now claims he did deliberately. Good riddance. He shouldn’t even return to the dais, at this point.
How nice would it be if-
All these elected politicians grew up and acted their age, did their job professionally and gave a dam about the people they work for. Grow up leave your egos elsewhere. All you of you from here to Washington DC you only care about your selves . It is nothing less then flat out discussing to say the least!!!!!
The ORIGINAL land of no turn signals says
At this point anything would be better.
Right. Throw a hissy fit temper tantrum just like a 2 year old, then come back and try to spin it as “strategy”.
Just retire already. Thanf woo for yer servwich. Go golf or pickleball or something. I mean dammit, enough with these old white guys coming down here trying to be a big fish in a small pond, all the while acting like spoiled entitled brats. Retire and stay retired ya old effing dinosaurs.
The dude says
This… exactly this.
Time for the thinking that got us here to move on and enjoy their twilight years.
While the rest of us get stuck with their tab.
David Schaefer says
Tell that to Danko and the mayor……..
Again I say, today I mailed my ballot.
If you are in, you are out. Fellow Palm Coasters follow my lead!
Hoping you have some knowledge of those you voted for. That seems to be the biggest problem here. We end up with people who are not qualified to hold these positions.
Hoping you have some knowledge of those you voted for. That seems to be the biggest problem here. We end up with people who are not qualified to hold these positions. Joe Mullins was once the new guy on the ballot. And we lost of of the best County Commissioners we’ve seen because of voting like this.
Dennis C Rathsam says
Once again I state, I witnessed the apartments in Newark N.J, he is not lying….Crime, drugs, rape, robbery was rampant, Look it up! Steady Eddie speaks truth, not the crap that comes from some members on the council. Some times in life, you get fed up, when you know your right yet some ignoant fools think they know better! At least someone in Palm Coast government has some balls, and I welcome his hat in the next mayoraltiy race. Besides, Stuff Em In Alvin has shown his true colors, as we witness the killing of Palm Coast!
Dennis: I’m from Jersey, and we are VERY FAR off from being Newark. Gimme a break! Saying this place could be like Newark is a BS scare tactic, and nobody is buying it. Vote out Alfin or whoever, but agreeing with Branquinho’s logic only means we know not to pay attention to you too…
Branquinho is slowly turning into a borderline political scam artist. He’s constantly disruptive, he pulls stunts like this (apparently deliberately) and grandstands all the time. We need people who want to work on the council, not walk out. He’s a quitter…let him quit.
Dennis C Rathsam says
It was an old Ital;ian neigberhood, with many different european cultures. I pick up Italian bread, for my bread route, Giordano,s best bread in the day. I watched the decline…It went from a nice place to live, into a war zone. People fled to the suburbs, my family too. It wasnt safe. Schools were a mess, everything was getting worse. Yes Palm Coast is not Newark, But why would you want to turn it into anything that resembles that ? I’ll bet your dying for a Jimmy Buff Hot Dog, as you read this.
Concerned Citizen says
So you walk out of a job as Councilman? And expect us to jump to elect you if you run for Mayor?
I’m sorry Mr. Branquinho. You need to full fill your current responsibilities ethically and fully at all times. Before we give you a chance with more duties. What happens when you throw another temper tantrum. And walk out leaving the city leaderless?
I think this comment nails it on the head. If you’ll pull a stunt like this as a councilman, why should we think you’ll be more mature as a mayor? Any public official who pulls stunts to get attention is more interested in themselves than any constituent.
We need new blood in all levels of government in this state. We have to make changes if we expect better. Keeping any of these people is just accepting more of the same.
Great comment, Concerned Citizen! Maybe you should run for council/mayor?!!!
Concerned Citizen says
Thanks but no thanks!!
I’ve done my time on various councils back home. And now as my wife and I both near retirement she says No. We retire for good.I had enough politics working in the public safety sector for almost 30 years. LOL.
I see some new names this time around. So hope springs eternal that we can break the cycle. I intend to do my part at the polls. And hope others do as well.
South of the Boarder says
I no vote for him…..
Purveyor of Truth says
Most politicians are attention seekers.
However, they are usually not as honest or dopey, depending upon your view, to admit they tried pulling the wool over your eyes.
Tsvi Feldstein says
Phrases like “taxpayer” and “hardworking American” are dogwhistles for wh*te
Phrases like “rampant criminality” and”drug addicted degenerate” are thinly veiled dogwhistles for Blackness and Colored Bodies
Lev Goodman says
Why isnt anyone talking about this??