Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland today said her incensed and immediate reaction at a council meeting last week, when a man aggressively approached her at the dais in the middle of proceedings, was driven in part by fear that he might have had a gun.
“You know the gentleman that approached the dais, I mean it was startling to me, it really was, and I think it was because frankly he wasn’t stepping back,” Holland said late this morning, toward the end of a council workshop. “I’m appreciative that we have incredible law enforcement partners that were able to provide a very quick response to a moment that could have been bad. And let me just state that my being startled and then following that I had a physical reaction, because I just wasn’t sure if there was a gun that was brought into chambers and could have been utilized. Those are real experiences that other governments have had to experience across our country.”
Mark Phillips, the 43-year-old resident of unincorporated north Flagler County, was not armed when he briskly approached Holland after a vote on an issue that displeased him, and was subsequently trespassed from City Hall. He claimed he’d only intended to speak with the mayor, unaware that the meeting was still going on, though every member of the council, the attorney and the clerk were still seated, as was the city manager, who was introducing the next item. Holland was escorted out of the building to her car for the second evening meeting in a row, and deputies followed her home for safety, though she had not requested that they do so.
Three of the council members discussed the incident at the end of a three-hour workshop today, when there’d been a distinct, contrasting breeze of courtesy as public speakers took to the mic before the panel at the beginning of the meeting. “Thank you for your service and thank you for allowing me this opportunity,” one speaker said by way of introduction. The half dozen or so speakers who addressed the council–raising issues with Cimmaron Drive or Slow Way (the two headaches currently throbbing up the city’s north and south cortex)–did so with respect and reserve.
If there was an exception, it had more to do with a wild exaggeration rather than discourtesy as a homeowner, calling in her comment, questioned the “$34 million” pickleball courts the city wants to build. There is no such cost. The city is beginning a $5.7 million expansion of the Palm Coast Tennis Center into a regional racket club, with the construction of a dozen pickleball courts, among other amenities. The $34 million figure appears to be the flowering of a gross misrepresentation last week by Alan Lowe, a candidate for a council seat, that watering the center’s tennis courts would cost that much. (“$34,461,840 worth of water to moisturize the courts,” Lowe had said, going on to make further false statements.)
“It’s absolutely false. There’s no truth even in the realm of order of magnitude of $34 million,” City Manager Matt Morton said. “It’s a few thousand dollars,” which irrigate the entire grounds of the center, not just the courts. “So I would love to correct that on the record. (The city’s entire customer base, including commercial customers and the barrier island, doesn’t consume more than $25 million worth of water in an entire year.)
It had been that very topic–the planned expansion of the tennis center–that had generated a stream of speakers at last Tuesday evening’s meeting, some of them rude or angry, eventually leading to Phillips’s mid-meeting strut.
“What we approved the other night, obviously, we had opinions on both sides and I have great respect for those that came forward to speak on this agenda item,” Holland said this morning. “When meetings are disrupted and encouraged to be disrupted, it’s really counterintuitive of what we’re trying to do here as a collegial body.” Holland spoke of her daughter, who’s required intense (and at long stretches in hospital, intensive) care for several years. “And so when I drive out of here I just need to make sure that I am kept safe in order to keep her safe and give her the best chance possible of recovering from a very serious, serious surgery. So we are literally all in this together.” Holland said she wanted the meetings refocused on the business of the day, calling on keeping “the temperature as low as possible in these meetings.”
Council member Eddie Branquinho had moments earlier started the discussion about last week’s meeting. “I will not be intimidated by anyone,” he said, going on to caution against making wild or false claims. He gave an example: a friend from New Jersey called him recently and asked him about the council member arrested for corruption. There was no such arrest but Branquinho’s friend had misinterpreted Council member Victor Barbosa’s attack last month against Morton, baselessly claiming corruption.
“I think it’s time that we stopped with incendiary words like, ‘Show up to the government buildings,’ ‘Take control before it’s too late,'” Branquinho said. “Sad, this is the new America. Well, these are heavy words. This will instigate some producers or some weak minded people, borderline wackos, to come here and do what one punk did here the other day.” (Branquinho said he was calling Phillips a “punk” after Charlie Ericksen, the former county commissioner, did so, recalling a run-in with Phillips at a commission meeting Phillips and others disrupted last fall.) Phillips said he would sue the city over his trespass warning.
Council member Nick Klufas, too, gave an example of what he described as “doubt that we cast upon our city without actual details,” which he termed “frustrating but also dangerous.” He described how, speaking to a contractor about installing a new roof on his house, the contractor told him he was being delayed by the city. “‘And you know how they are,'” the contractor told Klufas. “And my response is always, I do know how they are, and I don’t accept that as an excuse and if you actually have a city issue I want to know it. And if you don’t, then you’re lying to me. And when I confront these people I have not had one yet tell me an actual issue.”
Council members Barbosa and Ed Danko did not address the matter.
Seriously. She sounds like she just watched a episode of Law and Order.
Mike Cocchiola says
Our community has to speak out forcefully against the lies, fear and intimidation that are hallmarks of the anti-maskers/vaxxers and the Trump Club (perhaps they’re all one and the same). We need to hear a clear condemnation from the BOCC, but the Cowardly 5 is unlikely to upset their base.
Right now the three men who seem to enable, facilitate and goad the disrupters are Joe Mullins, Victor Barbosa, and Alan Lowe. We have got to get these people out of political office, and even better, out of Flagler. Perhaps they’ll see greener pastures elsewhere. Wyoming would be great.
Steve Kalabokes says
Fully agree with you. In fact Mullins took part in the January 6 events that turned seditious. He is uncouth just like the followers you mentioned and shouldn’t be holding public office.
Maybe we all need to be civil and kind to one another. While what is happening at these meetings is completely inappropriate, the same goes for people like yourself that try to lump everyone with a differing opinion into a box. You use these generalizations to discredit, besmirch, and stigmatize people who don’t believe what you believe.
This is every bit as bad for us locally as well as nationally. This type of us versus them mentality is creating a divide that will cause irreparable damage worldwide. It’s time for everyone to grow up. Respect varying opinions. Stop generalizing and criticizing. If you believe in a cause, fine support it. If you choose to debate your stance, do so politely and respectfully. But don’t treat people negatively to try to accomplish whatever goal you’re seeking.
I don’t have a crystal ball. But from my view we’re heading down a very dark path. I fear for all of us.
I disagree These Alt-Reality misinformation spreading lying Spin Doctors need to be called out from today until the next Election so they disappear. Just short of a sign around their neck, a DF tattoo on their foreheads or tarred and feathered. Make them look like the one way hurray for me immature pathetic imbeciles they are until there gone. That body and their Rhetoric are the Divisors its the only game they know until Voted Out
Nope Call them out every chance you get up to Election time to expose them for what they are Fools
Sue Urban says
Can someone please explain to me what a P3 Park is? As this is what Mayor Holland stated that this is what this Pickleball/Tennis Stadium will be. That the Tole Brothers New Development will have a direct pathway to and have private use of. How is that possible if this a city park paid for with tax payer funds from the parks and rec? This sounds like a back door deal for the city to pay for a new Developments amenities and maintenance?
Bill C says
Is there something in the water? How pathetic that our local officials feel they need security escorts to their cars and are in fear that they might be shot by maniacs who are convinced they are “the good guys with guns”. 431 people died of gun violence this week. Sorry gun fetishists, this country needs gun control.
You will never have gun control because it is too easy to get a gun.
Florida Voter says
So you’re saying that we “will never have gun control” because (wait for it) we don’t have gun control?
We have gun control but (wait for it) it doesn’t always get enforced. Also, you can get a ghost gun or a gun from the black market. Now, tell me how are you going to control that Florida Voter?
Percy's mother says
For God’s sake, is there a normal intelligent educated person out there (with high moral standards) who’s willing to step up to the plate and run against:
1. Alan Lowe who’s running for Palm Coast City Council.
2. Victor Barbosa who’s running for Flagler Board of County Commissioners.
3. Joe Mullins who is most likely running for reappointment to the Flagler Board of County Commissioners.
Someone please think seriously about it.
I want to also add that there should be no bogus claims about having an education that one doesn’t really have, having a license that doesn’t exist, having been arrested and jailed, etc. I know it should go without saying, but we’re here in Flagler County, the place a lot of people relocate to to create a new life and persona that never really existed anywhere else and which has no basis in reality.
If there were no guns or they weren’t certain there was a gun, then let’s stick to the actual of what really happened & not what could’ve happened. I mean, one of them could also be walking into the chamber(s) with explosives too. And since they’re all R’s, it’s not a party hate crime, same race, so that can’t be fabricated, the only thing we have is a potential gender difference here that anyone could wildly apply with a vivid imagination ? I think the dude needs to keep a non-threatening distance by staying out of a neutral, “no fly” zone, known as the Dais in a non-threatening/non-intimidating manner. I can understand why they would implement a screening check point like the TSA has a airports for security. Is that in place at the front of the building like the courthouse has for folks that are required for jury duty. State of FL CCWP or 1st & 2nd Amendment rights don’t empower approaching and violating the Dais.
Trump/Covid 2020 says
Well if you follow politics recently you’ll notice an R by your name doesn’t mean much if you’re not an avid Trump cultist. Look at January 6th, the cultists wanted to hang the Vice President because he didn’t follow marching orders of Fuhrer Trump.
The States passes laws allowing guns in almost all facilities except for the ones where politicians meet, I wonder if some of them fear they will shot for issues they support and votes they cast and bribes they accept?
I will totally agree for a metal detector if needed in city hall to scan all attending meetings…as our government officials elected , administrators and employees should not have to put their lives on the line over their work and also to protect the residents attending these meetings. This is unspeakable what is taking place with aggressive behavior by an individual that is not even a city resident to be sent to harass the mayor also his minions to harass council members or city employees with total disrespect and derogatory addressing. Typical bully trumpers they need to remain west of Rte One and do not come out to harass city residents or city government on business that do not affect them. Just go take your grievances to the county commission were you belong. Unfortunately the same FCBOCC that also takes the biggest chunk of my ad valorem PC yearly tax in my house when our city is the one that provides most of our services. Meanwhile I pay the $170,000 plus benefits salary to a county departmental head employee that has the audacity to insult my origins thru you tube after seeing me speak my 3 minutes in the city council meeting of April 6th published on you tube and just because I supported the Mayors mask mandate to preserve our health. Do we have the KKK and Q and their minions running this county? He also mentioned our city Manager in a doubtful accusatory demeanor. Do not forget that if not for ITT and all of us Palmcoasters tax revenue ya’ll wont even be in the map today and getting paid your 170,000 and up! Do not mess up with Palmcoasters because we get out and vote and may do it in droves next time around. To our Mayor, Council, Administrators and city employees being harass please file charges as we need some peaceful environment for a change not Q, White Supremacist or seditious Trumpers in our City Meetings! All be safe.
Mullin is a little man following in Trumps parade of trouble makers, chaos, attacking anything related to our government. They claim to be patriots and they are no more patriots than Putin is.
Mullin is a walking time bomb and his lid will explode at any chance he is given. It is just a matter of time.
The Flagler County Commissioners are his enabler like the Cult Trump Republicans who are too afraid to stand up to his dictatorship.