When the Palm Coast City Council met on Tuesday, Ed Danko was sitting in the mayor’s chair. But for one marring cloud, the sun set that evening, and rose again this morning, and all was still well.
Danko began with a graceful nod to the absent David Alfin: “I want to extend my wishes along with council and with staff and our city manager that he have a very successful surgery and a very speedy recovery. Get back here soon, David. We miss you.”
At the end of the Feb. 14 meeting, Alfin had said he had “scheduled a surgical procedure to correct a chronic bout with diverticulitis. I will have several days of inpatient hospital stay followed by a short-term limited physical activity.” He asked his fellow-council members to let him participate in coming meetings by zoom “and keep my vote intact,” though Tuesday Alfin was unable to attend the meeting in any capacity, yielding the chair to the vice mayor.
While attempts to contact the mayor Tuesday and Wednesday have understandably not been successful (he essentially spent his 70th birthday on Feb. 20 under the knife), a city spokesperson today said he made it through surgery. “He is doing well, he is in recovery, he was up walking around, so all is good,” the spokesperson said. The mayor had no reason to be concerned about the stewardship of the council, either.
It wasn’t terribly long ago that Danko was at the receiving end of a pounding gavel, his anger and indignation stirred up by one council member or another, or by members of the public, as Alfin and the city attorney tried to keep the peace.
Two of the council members who dueled with Danko are no longer serving. Controversial issues have been few. Danko himself over the past year has undergone a metamorphosis in reverse, shedding an arachnoidal disposition for a more genial one, and helping to return the council to the more civil sort of panel it’s been for most of its history.
At 38 minutes, it was an unusually short meeting. Almost three quarters of it was taken up by proclamations. Only two people spoke during the initial public comment segment, including a sharply tuned one from Kathy Reichard-Ellavsky, president of the Palm Coast Historical Society. She is displeased with the possibility that Fire Station 22 could be leveled to make room for overflow parking to accommodate the Palm Coast Community Center. (The leveling of the station is only one of the possibilities, and it is by no means decided: the building could yet stay in place, if its refurbishment is not too cost-prohibitive, and the parking option Danko favors does not include the fire station’s acreage.)
The council moved on to its only major item of the day–the establishment of a community development district to govern the infrastructure in an eventual subdivision of nearly 500 single-family homes off Colbert Lane, near State Road 100. The CDC was approved, as were more routine items. The closing public comment segment drew one resident.
But then came council members’ comments–and that cloud: a possible procedural misstep by Danko.
Last week at the council’s workshop, when the panel hashes out issues but does not take votes, Council member Theresa Pontieri said she would seek to re-visit the Feb. 7 vote on the Harborside development at the Feb. 21 meeting. She wasn’t looking to overturn it, but to amend it.
Pontieri and Council member Cathy Heighter had voted against the controversial development, which will result in a large redevelopment of the Harborside area by the city marina. Pontieri was not comfortable with the vagueness of the language in city documents. The language as approved did require the developer explicitly to commit to certain conditions. Pontieri wanted that language “just buttoned up so that the actual goals that the city was looking for from the applicant were met, and that there wasn’t such a tentative or I guess lack of accountability for those goals.”
According to council rules, Pontieri could not herself bring up the matter for a vote, since she had voted in dissent. She asked one of her colleagues “to make a motion to maybe reconsider just that portion of the resolution” at the next business meeting, which would have been yesterday’s. Council member Nick Klufas, who had voted with the majority, showed interest. “I would I be curious about the amendments to the motion that we had passed the other day,” he said.
On Tuesday, Pontieri did what she’d said she’d do. Or tried to. After offering her best wishes to Alfin and noting the death of former Council member Holsey Moorman, she went on: “I also just want to urge my fellow council members who did vote in favor of Harborside, pursuant to Section 9(e),” Pontieri said, referring to council procedures, “to perhaps make a motion for reconsideration with regards to–”
Danko cut her off.
“I’m sorry, councilwoman, that was supposed to be done at the very next meeting, which was our last business meeting,” Danko said. “So that boat has sort of sailed, and we’re going to move on from there.”
The Feb. 21 meeting was the next “business meeting,” following the one when the Harborside issue was voted on. But the city’s policy leaves some room for interpretation, because it does not specify that the matter should be brought up at a meeting where votes are taken. It only refers to the next “meeting,” which might have meant last week’s workshop. But since votes aren’t usually taken at workshop, the business meeting–Danko himself used the words–would have been Tuesday’s, not the previous week’s workshop. (Danko today said he misspoke, and meant to refer to the workshop, not to the business meeting, and that he’d checked with the city attorney ahead of time as to the procedure).
Pontieri, at any rate, had at that workshop prepared the council for what she would do, without objection from anyone, including Alfin. She said she would hope to have that section of the city’s policy clarified.
Moments later, Danko adjourned the meeting.
The election season is not far off and may be playing a tempering effect: Danko’s seat is up. He may choose either to defend it or to run for a county commission seat, now that Commissioner Donald O’Brien has opted to run for a state House seat. O’Brien’s district and Danko’s overlap, making Danko eligible for that commission seat. Council member Nick Klufas, who is term-limited, has previously said he’d be running for a County Commission seat. He’s in the district currently represented by Commissioner Dave Sullivan, whose term is up in 2024. Potentially, Danko and Klufas, who also used to get under Danko’s skin but no longer does, could end up colleagues at the county.
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN says
Oh yes, they are running off those seats and think they are getting seats on the FCBOC, HELL NO, just look at how he silenced
Pontineri, he will do the same to Leanne Pennington and carry on with his developer friends in passing agendas for them and Kulfas
is a waste of a seat, another puppet. People get out there vote, PC and Flagler can no longer sustain these carperbaggers. A zebra doesn’t change its stripes, AND he aligned himself with Mullens who we don’t want back here.
2024 can NOT come soon enough….🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄. Just blatant arrogance…
Dennis C Rathsam says
Palm Coast… An institution of disfuction, at its best!
After reading this article it just proves that if you don’t have the rules of any topic…IN WRITING…It can be inturpided any way you want it to be….You all need to listen to the smartest person in this group…councilwoman Pontieri…People pay attorneys thousands of dollars for their expertise and your getting it for free….. Get off your pedestal swallow your pride and listen to a professional…let her do her job in looking out for the future taxpayers of Palm Coast…..When Alfin and Danko are no longer around ( after next year) and moved on WE the taxpayers will have to live with cluster mess……
The Harborside 3 to 2 rezoning approval against the opposition of the surrounding affected residents is spot zoning and violates applicable law!
Rezoned from resort destination with surrounding existing 8.7 units per acre, to 15.5 units and now to 21.9 is a totalitarian act against the safety, health and homes value of the current adjacent residents.
Siding with Pontieri on this one. The terms, or lack thereof, relating to the development were shaky at best. Danko needs to go back to CNN, if they’ll have him. He is not good for Palm Coast.
I'm the stupid guy he knows.... says
Danko is just a horrible person. Disrespectful mean spirited and only wants money for his campaign.
I promise you this as a resident of PC and Flagler County I will do everything I can to make him lose his bid for office in this area.
Celia Pugliese says
Danko on meeting laughing (should apologize) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84lQ1oTWU48&list=TLPQMjgwMjIwMjMsieMDrcMu5w&index=2 while referring to meeting dedicated speakers and right after our Palm Coast Historical Society pleaded with strong words for the preservation of Fire Station 22 our only left historical building, planned in spite of residents opposition, to be bulldozed over a parking lot for the community center. Build the parking lot around it or buy for $329,000 the adjacent for sale lot to the community center in #1805 Palm Coast Parkway SE and build the parking there other that commitment of 73 millions for the Town Center art plan or the millions for the mayor’s west of Rte 1 expansion benefitting vacant land owners and/or developers!