Like all other elected officials in the county, in Florida and the rest of the nation, Flagler County commissioners swear an oath upon taking office that they will protect and defend the Constitution.
Commissioners don’t generally feel compelled to remind citizens of their oath, nor do local governments find it necessary to redundantly pass resolutions affirming their support for the Constitution, nor do they feel compelled to take up commission time and vote, through official resolutions, on their “firm resolve” to, say, abide by the county’s Land Development Code, its ordinances, the current form of government or next month’s schedule of meetings. They do have substantially more pressing things to do.
But on Monday, the Flagler County Commission agreed to vote on a resolution next week “in support of the United States of America’s Constitution.” Most of it, anyway. None of the commissioners objected to what appears to be the latest in a series of theatrical abdications of public-meeting time to political grandstanding clearly designed to give a commissioner or two the chance to leverage the moment for personal gain at the next election.
The idea originated with Commissioner Joe Mullins–a candidate in the next election, currently struggling in his public standing–who claims that in speaking with “many in the community about the Constitution and Second Amendment,” he was “struggling on how we as a county could do that, and move forward.” As he’s posted on his social media page and talked about in a radio infomercial he pays for, he was alluding to passing some sort of resolution making the county a Second Amendment “sanctuary” county.
The phrase is favored by right-wing ideologues in a few counties in Florida. A few local elected boards have declared themselves such, usually in the state’s most pro-Second Amendment counties, and based on false claims that the amendment is under threat. Flagler County, for example, with 16,664 licenses for concealed weapons, continues to rank among the state’s leaders in licenses per capita (14 percent of the population has a license, as opposed to the the state average of 10.9 percent). Its sheriff is a vocal Second Amendment advocate, as are many of its elected officials. There is no evidence that the amendment is under threat locally, nor on anyone’s radar to be threatened, and no one, Mullins included, has ever presented any evidence suggesting that it is.
Mullins has however falsely claimed that the current vice president “has already said, she’s going to go after guns, that they don’t need to be in the hands of people” (Kamala Harris has said no such thing).
On Monday, Mullins credited Commissioner Hanson with a “brilliant idea.” Rather than highlight just the Second Amendment in a resolution, “let’s cover them all,” Mullins said. So commissioners directed the administration to get to work and prepare a resolution. “And with your encouragement, and the help with staff, there’s a resolution and I’d like to read it real quick and put it on record, just showing the strength of this county supporting our, our United States Constitution,” Mullins continued.
He termed the Constitution “under attack,” again with no evidence (though Mullins had sponsored and joined a group of Flagler residents who went to Washington, D.C., in early January, seeking illegally to overturn the results of the November election, a brazenly anti-Constitutional act, so in that regard, Mullins was accurate: he had taken part in the attack. Mullins and his group have insistently claimed that they did not take part in the insurrection and assault on Congress that followed the Jan. 6 rally, and no evidence has turned up indicating that he had been part of the insurrectionists on Capitol grounds.)
Mullins then read the resolution, enumerating citizens’ “most cherished liberties to include freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, the right to be secure in their property and possessions, the right against self incrimination, the right to due process and fair trials before a jury of their peers, and the essential rights and protections necessary to a free to a free people.”
The rights Mullins notably did not mention: free speech, free press and the right to peaceably assemble.
“The form of the document is not complete. That’s a draft, you know,” County Administrator Jerry Cameron told commissioners when Mullins was done, and when they were considering adopting the resolution as is, right then. But when the administration provided the draft of the resolution already signed by one of the county’s attorneys, it included “Freedom of Speech, the Right to Peacefully Assemble, the Right to Petition the Government for Redress of Grievances.”
The rights of a free press, explicitly spelled out in the First Amendment, were still excluded. Neither Mullins nor Cameron are particular fans of a free press, and Cameron continues to forbid his staff from including FlaglerLive, among other news sources, on the county’s media list. Commissioners have not objected to the ban. So the exclusion of the right to a free press from the resolution they plan to pass later this month appears to be an attempt to be consistent with the commission’s current policy of selection and exclusion.
“So the motion is to include this in the next meeting’s agenda as an official proclamation, or resolution,” Commission Chairman Donald O’Brien said. Commissioner Dave Sullivan sought to pass the resolution then and there, but Cameron suggested waiting until the next meeting. Two members of the public lent their support to the resolution.
The morning meeting was not without its more serious and immediately relevant resolutions, all of which the commission approved–about health care, the rights of crime victims, sexual assault awareness, water conservation, child abuse prevention and fair housing.
Gary Perkins, the community relations advocate for the Family Life Center, was especially forceful in his statement to the commission about sexual assault and domestic violence awareness. “I want to challenge this commission, and our audience members to just speak to your children about it, you know, just make sure that they understand how to have healthy relationships because if someone’s not talking to their children, they’re going to learn it from the internet. They’re going to learn it from outside sources.
“So us being a small community, it’s very important that we have those conversations and we try to do everything that we can to eradicate sexual assault, especially as men, we need more allies, we need to be on the forefront of this because, honestly, a lot of times it’s the men that are committing such heinous acts. So I just want to just make note that if anyone has ever experienced sexual assault or domestic violence, they can give our crisis helpline a call. It’s open 24/Seven. And the number is 386-437-3505.”
Merrill S Shapiro says
We should applaud Commissioner Mullins’ support of Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist and Scientologist, etc. politicians now that he, Commissioner Mullins, has emphasized his support for the U.S Constitution, including Article VI, Clause 3 “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States!”
Tim McAuliffe says
Has the Commission taken a position on supporting the violent overthrow of the 2020 Presidential election on January 6, 2021? At least 1 member of the Commission led support to that cause by Flagler County residents to his ever lasting shame.
Ben Hogarth says
Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. Constitution was adopted as a “draft” as well, and then ratified. Because you know, this whole democracy thing is an experiment-in-motion, and it was always intended to be amended by the needs and wishes of future generations. Passing a resolution in support of a document that has been amended and supported by case law and policy advocates for more than two centuries is really not a step in a direction of addressing the needs of today’s populace.
For anyone who doesn’t remember the 1st Amendment text: ““Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Abridging the freedom of speech or the press is prohibited. Not because you don’t like what someone has to say. Not because you disagree with a point of view or the inconsistencies in media coverage. Not because someone painted you in a less than spectacular fashion. Prohibited. Period.
If someone defames your character or causes injury to you or your business, you have a right to petition for redress of grievance. But if what they say has a degree of truth to it and you don’t like it – oh well.
Ray W. says
In 1796, during a congressional debate about the intent of the founding fathers, Madison spoke of his belief that the Constitution had been a “dead document” upon publication and that he did not consider himself a “founding father.” In his opinion, the founding fathers were the members of the various state ratifying commissions, as they were the ones who breathed life into the dead document. Madison acknowledged that he had participated in the writing of the document, but that did not make his a founding father.
As one story about the constitutional convention goes, the members were considering abandoning the process because many could not agree on the wording of several of the proposed clauses. One participant then spoke of the need to consider the proposed constitution as nothing more than an imperfect document; he argued that the focus should not be on creating a document agreed upon by all members but, rather, on creating a document that a majority of the general public would accept. This story supports Madison’s idea of it being a dead document upon publication, as few, if any, of the signers agreed on the wording of all of the clauses in the document. Several days later, the proposed document was published and sent to the states for ratification. In that way, a “draft” of the proposed constitution was never adopted; it remained dead until the ninth state ratified it, finally giving it life.
Another story is that when members of the Pennsylvania ratification convention set the matter for final vote, a number of anti-federalists then fled into the countryside, leaving the federalists short of a quorum. Hunting dogs were used to track down a few anti-federalists who were caught and brought back long enough to take a head count. With enough members present to declare a quorum, Pennsylvania federalists ratified the Constitution. The existence of a significant number of anti-federalists in every state led to compromises. In total, some 40 different versions of individual rights were proposed during the various ratification debates, but the issue was whether the ratify the document, which would give limited powers to the federal government, reserve other powers to the state governments and the people would retain those powers not given away, not whether to modify the proposed constitution. The concession given by the federalists to get enough votes for ratification was to agree to adopt a Bill of Rights when congress met and the many different versions of proposed individual rights were boiled down to 10. By ratifying the Constitution, the people gave up some of their powers. After all, when one gives something to another, it is no longer theirs. In a fairly recent opinion, the Connecticut Supreme Court rebuked a state argument that Connecticut had the “right” to execute an individual. The Court wrote that only people had rights, not the state, and that states only possess those limited powers given to them by their citizens.
Ha, Ha, Ha.
Willie Jones says
Excuse me for my ignorance about the Constitution of the United States. While I get the gist of what Joe Mullins and Jerry Cameron are up to, I can’t for the life of me find in the Constitution that Free Speech is negotiable and selective. I must have the Constitution five times today and could not find such verbiage. God forbid that we go against the wishes of Joe Mullins as I know he is the most powerful politician in Flagler County government. But, then I realize he is the Buffoon part of the Republican party along with Don jr. Matt Gaetz and many others. Then I got to thinking about many of the womanizing antics of Joe Mullins I thought to myself he is just a wanna be Matt Gaetz and it is only a matter of time before he takes the fall from grace. Anybody, in this county, who holds Joe Mullins in such high regard I feel sorry for.
Mr. Perkins would like to see you run for County Commissioner in place of Mullin he needs to go. He is radical, does nothing more than start trouble every time he opens his mouth.
So, please consider replacing him, you got my vote.
Deborah Coffey says
Okay, then. Let’s make LYING by elected public officials…a FELONY that carries a 10 year prison term. America will not survive the LIES.
There would not be a politician not in jail. It’s sad, it lies continue everyday. Never trust any politician.
Andy Montgomery says
Manipulative bullies like Joe Mullens try and hide evil accusations and causing dissent by identifying with our blessed constitution and even the house of God.
In Hamilton’s day, Joe would have a line calling him out to duel. We need to find a more humane methodology, maybe the ballot box.
People of character and holy men are not known for their ability to abuse, insult, lie, be unkind, etc. Ya know, you really do know them by their fruits – both Angels and demons.
Joe, whatever is in your heart, it ain’t love, my friend. Wish we lived in Hamilton’s day and I was first in line. Be quite a legacy to stop a destroyer of people such as yourself.
why me says
God Joe Mullins gives me gas! Where’s the Beno and Malox
Our county commissioners badly need to just STOP with the asinine petty political posturing! Horrific Joe Mullins is obviously trying to use his position to “indoctrinate” others in our community into his “CULT” of “Alternate Reality” where scientific fact does not exist and the free press is the enemy. . . right along with anyone who is not lily white, educated, or independent female.
The fact that Mullins hasn’t even been censured by the commission tells you everything you need to know about the “do nothing” “COWARDS” in that group of useless old white guys. . . DISGUSTING!
This group of officials are like the contestants for the Gong Show of old.
As “Bless your Heart Joe” a withering on the vine Trumplican syncophant in FPC swirls around the drain of the Swamp on his short journey to Political anonymity its anything at any cost to stir up the muck by this graceless bottom feeder. What Joe doesnt realize is he is repulsive and unimpressive. Mullins continual grating in the Public forum is to get attention and stay relevant in his eyes. The wall that is to climbed in the next Election constructed by his smart mouth will prove to be formidable. As for the brown nosing clique that surrounds the little circus he projects totally pathetic. Cameron the Head useless old fat White guy especially is irrelevant.His Term is up Kick him out sooner than later send him back to the St. Johns County Dunkin Donuts where he belongs. These folks only want to enrich themselves and power grab IMO. The end result is in the hands of the Constituents of Palm Coast. VOTE ACCORDINGLY. GL
De gustibus non est disputandum says
The Constitution is under attack? What dark forces are conspiring against historical documents? I bet it’s the same people who tear random pages out of those little bibles in hotels. Or maybe it’s even the Gideon’s themselves! Who would stand to gain more from bibles with missing pages than the Gideons! They probably tear the pages out when they leave them in the hotel rooms. That way they have to keep going back again and again.
The only way Mr. Mullins loses the election is if he is out clowned by some other buffoon. So he’s got to keep it going. I have complete confidence that no one in this town can outclass him. He’s just that good.
I think the criticism of the resolution is unfair. Mr. Cameron has probably never read a book in his entire life so can you really blame him if he jotted down the cliff notes version of the US Constitution?
Part of me wonders though if the resolution to support the Constitution is really just a cover for not supporting it? I mean who doesn’t support the Constitution? If you want to be seen very publicly “supporting” the Constitution, what are you really hiding?
The Tables Have Turned says
Cameron refuses to allow Flaglerlive on the County media list?! Cameron and Mullins want a vote on part of the Constitution that includes the right to bear arms and forget the rest?! Mullins is working up to endorse the Florida Legislature who proposes to strip First Amendment Rights of Protestors. All of the above is anti-American. Cameron, Mullins, Florida Legislature. Their proposal is a metaphor for autocracy. And the Commissioners are going along with this tomfoolery? All the Rs voted for these clowns.
Trailer Bob says
What an embarrassment to Flagler County. The other commissioners seem to have no balls, or are being threatened or paid off by the little guy. You can be conservative, support hunting, personal handgun carry, freedom of speech, America first, etc, etc, etc, without being crude, rude, and radical.
Mullins has no place here in Flagler County. He moves here from Georgia and feels the need to inject his hateful, crazy beliefs on our county, and the other commissioners act as if he is there babysitter?
Next year is going to be quite the election.
Folks, just remember the name Mullins, and don’t vote for him. Vote for ANYONE else. No one could be as incompetent, cruel, and out of touch with reality. There are those of us out here who are TRUE REPUBLICANS. He’s just nuts.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Mullins has the most vicious mouth, the most evil mind, the most disrespectful , the most vulgar, the most irresponsible and is the most worthless of any commissioner in the history of Flagler County in my opinion. It’s more than a year since he promised to come up with a humane dog tethering ordinance; almost three years since he promised his constituents in the west he would make sure they could get good internet connections; he’s just too busy trashing and threatening everyone who doesn’t share his warped ideals ( my opinion). He is Flagler County’s number 1 agitator and instigator of vindictiveness and hate. Gee, I wonder if I left any of his ‘attributes’ out.. Oh yeah almost forgot – Joe Mullins top and only priority is Joe Mullins.
It is disgraceful that the majority of the commissioners have no shame or remorse for going along with his warped proposals, none of which have anything to do with the job he was elected to do and which we taxpayers pay him to do. Money certainly talks apparently because integrity ; honor are nowhere to be found and the sunshine law appears to have been banished altogether by Mullin’s worshipers. The door ,thank goodness, is open for anyone to run to take the seat away from this foul mouthed buffoon in 2022; I recently opened that door myself. Nobody could be a worse elected official than Mullins, absolutely nobody on this plant not just Flagler County.
Only Me says
The taxpayers in Flagler County and Voters want Mullin gone it is going to be a pleasure when he is up for re-election to vote him out because the taxpaying citizens of this county are tired of him and his behavior.
Honestly, I think it is time we voters get rid of all the Commissioners it is time for new ones that care about what the taxpayers and voters want none of them seem to understand that.
Vincent T. Lyon says
Setting aside that the resolution only selectively identifies some rights and not others, and that it incorrectly claims that the right to due process is in the Bill of Rights (it’s in the 14th Amendment), this is a resolution to uphold the Constitution.
They all swore an oath to uphold the Constitution.
I guess Mr. Mullins is signaling just how little his oath is worth.
How about equal under the law. We don’t need to “affirm” the constitution we need to read and understand it. Bill of Rights (all of them) included. This is just pontificating.
Points to Ponder – Rewards of Socialism vs Rewards of Capitalism:
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing wealth.
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Classroom Experiment in Application of Socialism – 2012
When the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all). After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D — and no one was happy.
After the 3rd test, the class average was an F.
As tests were administrated through the remainder of the semester, the average scores never increased — bickering, blame and name-calling all increased, resulting in hard feelings, anger, etc. — and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. At the end of the term and to their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
When the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. It could not be any simpler than that.
Deborah Coffey says
Obama’s socialism? Oh, my. Would you care to explain what socialism that was? Dividing wealth? Oh, my. Are you speaking of the trillions of dollars Republicans have given to the top 1% beginning with the Ronald Reagan presidency? Did that 1% WORK HARD for all the money the GOP has delivered into their pockets? Come on, get a grip! And, most people in this country who do receive government benefits…WORK! This is an easy Google search. Facts matter.
Ray W. says
Poor erky. He remains confused about the definition of socialism. Mirriam-Webster’s primary definition of socialism should set him straight: [A]ny of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
Obama’s administration never engaged in socialism, nor has any other administration in American history, though we did ration many goods during WWII for the obvious reason of winning the war.
Erky, therefore, started with a losing argument. While theoretically not impossible, in practice it is very difficult to win an argument when starting with a losing one. However, if erky’s goal is to make himself feel good, he may be a winner and a loser at the same time.
I suspect erky is caught up in the thinking based on the Laffer Curve, made famous among neo-conservatives some 40 years ago. The Laffer Curve stands for the theory that when government takes all of the rewards from work, people stop working. However, Laffer himself understood that the curve was geometric, not arithmetic; that is why it is called a curve, not the Laffer Line. He knew that taxation in and of itself did not directly affect one’s work ethic. Laffer’s theory posited that if tax levels rose above an undefined point, the motive to produce would be affected. If the maximum tax rate is 25%, it might not affect anyone’s motivation to work. However, a 90% maximum tax rate might affect everyone. Indeed, during the 70’s, the highest tax bracket for individuals was 70%. During Reagan’s administration, a Democratic House passed taxation reform that reduced the top bracket to 38%. Republicans of the day proudly pointed to a significant level of economic growth during Reagan’s years in office after the tax code was revamped. Obviously, the theory behind the Laffer Curve did not reflect a loss of motivation to produce at the 38% tax level. Since our current top tax bracket for individuals is below 38%, the theory behind the Laffer Curve should not reflect any reduced motivation to work on any worker, despite erky’s flawed understanding of the theory.
If erky is somehow attempting humor, he fails at that, too. And, there is always the possibility that erky is simply talking to hear his head roar.
As for erky’s talk of bickering and blame, we had 10 years of positive economic growth during the last 7 years of the Obama administration and the first three years of the Trump administration, a term of years unprecedented in our nation’s economic history, all of which occurred during a Republican effort to undermine Obama and a Democratic effort to undermine Trump, so erky really wastes his time on that point.
Regardless of the several possible motives for erky’s post, erky’s argument cannot be said to be a good one at any level, on a good, better, best/bad, worse, worst scale. Like many others, erky rates a bad on the scale of arguments. It is not the worst to grace this site, and many others have posted worse arguments, but one can never call a bad argument good, no matter what you compare it to.
Please explain what your comments have to do with the article? Did you just feel like scribbling or did you try turning facts into alternate facts? I am sorry for you it is not easy to see the chosen one to be just a sore loser.
You mean like freedom of speech and press? Really? Come on man……….
It’s past time to get ride of the clown Joe Mullins.
Michael Cocchiola says
I will… yes, I’ll say the words – I will vote for anyone, even a Real Republican, to get rid of the plague that is Joe Mullins. He infects our community, poisons our dialogue, threatens the fabric of our community.
Anyone but Mullins!
Your name says
“A well regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Show me where that statement says to ban “assault” weapons. Where does it say to run background checks? Where does is say to implement gun control?
If you want gun control, you need a constitutional convention otherwise piss off with all the incremental gun control laws.
Flagler county, a red county, needs to implement Second amendment sanctuary laws.