Palm Coast government worked out an agreement with WNZF Radio to air a weekly half-hour program, hosted by Mayor Milissa Holland. The city will pay the radio station $10,000 through October to buy the air time. The mayor and City Manager Jim Landon worked out the proposal with the radio station without discussions involving the rest of the council.
A $10,000 expense does not have to be approved by the council: it falls beneath the $30,000 threshold above which council approval is required. But two council members interviewed today say they should have been told about the initiative, and one of them, Steven Nobile, said he’s opposed to the idea on other grounds as well.
“Milissa Holland, we’ll hear you on your new radio show,” WNZF General Manager David Ayres told the mayor this morning at the end of her appearance on Free For All Friday, alongside Rep. Paul Renner and Florida Hospital Flagler’s John Subers. The first show is scheduled to air March 4 at 9:30 a.m.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s not going to happen,” Nobile said early this afternoon. “We can’t have a member of the council, whether it’s the mayor or another member, have an unfair advantage of taking their opinion out to the people without any discussion and without the public having a chance to talk back. I don’t know where they thought this was going to fly, not if I have anything to do with it.”
Council members were unaware of the radio show until some of them heard about it when Ayers and Holland discussed it on Free For All. They were unaware of the expense to taxpayers. They were unaware of the format, or that there’d been discussions that would have made them potential hosts of the show at times, if they wished.
Shortly after noon, and following a lengthy phone interview about the radio show during which she was questioned about various aspects of the initiative, Holland texted that she had requested that the item be placed on the city council’s workshop agenda for discussion Tuesday. By then, Landon had scrambled to call council members and inform them about the show and claim it was not a done deal, but that Ayers had only made it sound like it was, while a city spokesperson emailed that “we haven’t actually made a decision on the radio show yet,” and that it would be discussed at the workshop Tuesday.
Of course, there had been no plans to discuss the item at the workshop until Holland requested that it be added to the agenda, which, in early afternoon, still did not include the radio discussion item.
And in fact Ayers, in an interview, said all that was left to do was record the show ahead of its Saturday airing date. Holland herself said the show was set to go on. “I will write, produce and host the shows,” the mayor said this morning, “and then I’ll ask people to come on the show, where I’ll interview them, have my questions outlined. It’ll be more conversational.”
Holland isn’t new to radio: she hosted a show of her own on WNZF in 2012, “Milissa Holland Live,” pairing her show with columns on FlaglerLive. She’s always had a warm rapport with listeners and Ayers, who’s invited her almost as often as David Letterman would invite Teri Garr. Holland’s radio presence is engaged and sharp, displaying equal ease with banter and serious debate. She draws on a wealth of personal and political history in the county (she was a county commissioner for six years), Palm Coast and Tallahassee, where she worked for several years as a Southern Strategy lobbyist, enabling her to easily explain the labyrinth of state or local policy.
It was Ayers who’d brought the idea of essentially reviving the show to Holland, framed as a city-focused show called Discover Palm Coast. In a pair of meetings, Ayers, Holland and Landon worked out the details, suggesting that the half hour could be used to highlight city stories through city employees’ own voices rather than have to rely on the occasional appearances of city staffers or elected officials on Free For All.
The radio station offers its Saturday time slots to various businesses or organizations for a fee–$250 a week—such as Chamber Chat, the show about the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce, Southern Sportsman with Chris Davy and The Doctor Is In with Scott Klioze. Ayers could not say how many people listen to Saturday morning shows, which don’t get nearly the audience that weekday, news-peppered shows do. He estimated there’d be “a few thousand people coming and going during that time,” as listeners typically won’t sit through an entire show.
The city has an elaborate television and marketing operation of its own (its community relations budget is $415,000 this year). Its television productions have won awards, and it’s been pushing its social media presence, where radio-like podcasts or a television show featuring the mayor could be disseminated—all without significant additional cost to the city.
Holland said the radio approach is justified because of its broader reach and “built-in following”—and the fact that the city will own the show, and will be able to transform it into podcasts it can then make available online.
“It’s justified because we’re communicating every single thing we do in the city,” Holland said. “It’s a way to further educate, inform our residents of what’s going on, and what I liked about it when David first brought the idea was, often times it’s difficult to –as he put it—there’s not a human component to our government. We talk about our fire department, but often we don’t have a conversation with those that work in our fire department.” Same with utilities and other aspects of city government, Holland said. Human interest stories will also get great attention, as will harder-edged concerns, whether it’s complaints about Holland Park or other unresolved issues.
The city’s marketing department will help lining up guests and thinking up ideas, along with Landon, who will suggest topics, Holland said.
“This isn’t something that’s going to be excluding our council, I’m hoping to gauge them as far as ideas and topics,” Holland continued. “They could be part of the show, do some interviewing themselves.” (Council member Nick Klufas, who supports the idea, said he’d be willing to do so.) “I would never do anything to dismiss my council. I value each of their input as well as what they bring to the table.”
Holland said the expense was within the city’s budget, and would come out of the recycling program’s dollars. A city spokesperson wasn’t as precise about the source of the money: “We have started looking at possible funding sources – same funding sources we use for other marketing and branding efforts,” she wrote.
Klufas isn’t opposed to the expense even though he acknowledges that it will be difficult to gauge the number of listeners or its effect on engagement with the city. “Using the radio as a means of communications is fantastic, I know there’s a ton of listeners,” he said. “The problem with radio shows it’s pretty difficult to measure listeners anyway.”
He added: “It comes down to whether or not we are communicating more effectively and seeing our return on that investment, not necessarily in dollars but in citizen’s engagement.”
Klufas was not aware of the $10,000 expense until he was told by a reporter.
“I would prefer that it had been discussed,” Klufas said, referring to a council discussion about the money. “The only thing is, since it’s below the threshold that requires city council approval, I can’t be too upset.”
Nor was council member Heidi Shipley aware of the expense—or the show itself: she was aware of Holland’s recent radio appearances, but was under the impression they were one-time things.
“We’re paying $10,000? I don’t understand why we’re paying $10,000 to have her on a show, but it’s under $10,000, so it wouldn’t come through the council,” Shipley said. (The city manager is not required to bring expenses below $30,000 to the council, but he’s not prohibited from doing so, either, especially when the expense may carry a heavier perceptible price than its dollar figure alone.)
“I like that she likes to get out there and she likes to speak to the people, I think that’s great, but a little heads up would have been nice,” Shipley said, referring to the city administration. “She’s as transparent as they get, but I think I’d have liked to have known.”
Holland is a frequent speaker at community presentations and events. She sees the radio show as a similar kind of outreach, just to a broader audience. Nobile doesn’t.
“It’s different,” Nobile said. “First of all it’s the recognition of a radio show. There’s no request for the presence of a council member, it’s just a weekly show, it gives it undue credibility, and I don’t mind if we take time like that on a radio show to advertise events, to talk about events, and the goings on. That’s fine. But there cannot be any discussion of any issue that has a possibility of coming before the council. It just can’t happen. We can’t have someone giving that kind of unfair voice to the public.
Nobile said in council meeting he’d occasionally hear Holland refer to issues as directing the manager to do one thing or another. “The things she says I haven’t heard about,” Nobile said, “so I asked Landon and said, ‘I hope you aren’t doing things that aren’t coming to the council and aren’t being directed by the mayor,’ and he assured me no. And then this happened.”
“I’m a little upset that this wasn’t brought before the council to talk about,” he said. “It just doesn’t sound, feel, or smell right.”
Council member Bob Cuff was non-committal in a brief interview later Friday afternoon, though he, too, had not been aware of the radio show, or its cost, until he got calls this morning from the city. “Depending on where the money is coming from and whether the money is worth it and so forth I guess is what we’re going to be discussing at the workshop, but nothing has been presented to me,” he said. “I can’t tell you I’m against it, but until I find out more about it I can’t tell you I’m for it either.”
Pat Patterson says
An absolute waste of money. We need sidewalks, not this!
Gayle Molesworth says
Higher taxes now?????
Diana Becker says
How about having weekly townhalls? Meet with residents. Hear from them, we don’t need to listen to you.
Michael Wisher says
Council meetings are open to the public and there is a question forum for the members.
Diana Becker says
I understand that and do attend when I’m able. I like the more informal aspect of maybe a coffee talk in different areas around the city.
Dave Wettlaufer says
Cancel it! You can live stream for free!!!!
Sara Celena Mullen says
That’s what I was thinking and or podcasting it for free.
Mary Lynn Crosby says
what a waste of money – guess I won’t vote for her in the next election.
Tameka McDowell says
I like the idea; but the way the article reads; it seems like a classic case of
“cart before the horse.”
Looking forward to the Weekly Radio Show, though!
Dirk Noel Theriault says
Hmmm…Why is a news radio station charging the city for airtime to broadcast news in the public interest? Shouldn’t the station be finding sponsors for this programming? Do the FCC Public Service Announcmwnt (PSA) guidelines apply, since this would be in the public interest? Are federal subsidies available? Will anybody listen? So many questions…..!
Jess Krak says
Maybe that’s the bigger plan? Invest 10,000 but get back more in return with funding?? That’s all the positive I could come up with.
Dirk Noel Theriault says
That’s not how commercial radio works. There are FCC regulations limiting the time allotted for PSA’s. As a free enterprise, the station cannot be commandeered by any government entity, except in emergency situations. What you are suggesting would infringe on the first amendment rights of free speech, free enterprise and very likely FTC regulations.
George Chambers says
This is so wrong, the list of reasons is to lengthy to list.
Eileen Nunez says
Holland is campaigning and using our tax dollars to do so. She and Landon are what Landon and Netts once were. This council now needs to fire Landon and change the policy that anything over $1,000 needs to be brought before the council. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky…..Holland was a lobbyist and we the voters must be idiots to think voting her in was the best choice! Time for an investigation and some changes or the council members will again and again be played for fools!!! I don’t listen to this radio station so it doesn’t matter to me, and I am sure the majority of the county doesn’t either. This was a terrible waste of tax payers money and a way for Holland to showboat. She would serve us better to hold Town Hall meetings. Steve Nobile is right on so many levels, but will he do anything about it, I doubt it. Now we will see what the council is made of and if this was enough disrespect for them to fire Landon and make needed changes.
August Maxwell says
I agree with Nobile is not a fair plane field game to the rest of the council members, Milissa should have put it to approval of Council public meeting first!
Eddie Lang says
This is a waste of 10k. The mayor and council need to work on the charter for palm coast. It hasn’t been updated at all. Work on getting absent owners of lots to take care of them and get them cleaned up
Michael Wisher says
Sounds as though it my be some future political move. If you want to inform market council meetings instead.
Hold on Here we go!!
I got stuff I’d like to say! Will the City buy me some air time?
WOW, she should resign immediately!!!!
Or city council impeach her!!
Travis Kaufman says
lol i love it
Princess Paggina says
Chutzpah at it’s best !
Travis Kaufman says
she’s a lobbyist and a mayor so everything she does is for her Legacy not us holland park huge waste now this 8million dollar community center lol and we dont even have a police force wtf?
Kendall C Acques says
She was not the mayor or a member of the city council when the Holland Park deal was done.
Travis Kaufman says
it was in preparation of her term im sure
Dee Louden says
The city of Palm Coast wastes money to much. Every year more palm trees and plants on Belle terre just buy sustainable plants instead of pulling them up and re planting every year
Kendall C Acques says
Things like this need to be addressed and decided (or at least make the public think they are) in the open.
It is absurd to pay the radio station $10,000 to a radio station for Milissa to talk about her life in Palm Coast and local government. Somehow, I can’t imagine too many people getting up on Saturday mornings and rushing to the radio to listen to it. Too many other things to do or projects to get done on the weekends, especially for the working people, and the young ones could care less., As far as “Discover Palm Coast” people do that all by themselves in their own time frame.
It’s a waste of money and seems to be a little underhanded the way it was done. I hope the city council cancels the plans.
vincent A. Liguori says
Why not have a town hall meeting at the city hall?. No expense and the radio station could record.
How about a TV show for Landon?
for real says
I don’t know about this move…but wnzf was there when we needed them.During matthew they were the ones who gave us local news. That and facebook was all we had. We need need to support this asset we have in our community. Good job David. And staff as well. Thank you.
Does Melissa get paid anything from WNZF for doing the shows? If so that would be a conflict of interest, if not illegal. At any rate, she would be getting a lot of free publicity for herself by be keeping her name before the public, and probably would not have to spend as much on her next campaign. Remember she has run for state office before and has lofty political aspirations, so being on her own Radio show would definitely be in keeping with another run for state office. Stay Tuned.
Sandra Blair says
Eddie Lang, your absolutely right! They should be made to clear cut them and keep it that way.
Silver Bak says
how about Holland park is still closed and over a year late! not to mention they closed the community center too. what happened to finish 1 thing before you start another. 1 whole side of the town has no recreation!
Larry W Mock Jr says
More wasteful spending
Tim O'Donnell says
Who’s going to make sure council members aren’t listening to the show? Wouldn’t it be a sunshine law violation if they listened to her speak about city business outside of the council meetings?
Eddie McMaster says
Sounds like a waste of money. And probably for only some hot air.
Chris Adkins says
Get a job
Craig Goldberg says
Did not vote for her. She’s always running for something. Seems like she’s more into it for recognition.
Karen Witalis says
Waste of tax payer dollars. Where do they get off wasting OUR money on stupid self serving propaganda?
Kat Birdsell says
Waste of money really!!!!
Her ethics have always beenweak.
Elections have consequences
Roll on 2 says
Good example of why Flagler needs an NPR station!
john dolan says
No way Miz Holland. You are not broadcast material and have no pedigree in journalism or broadcasting. You are the winner of the gene pool lottery, and daddy made it so. I don’t want one dime of my tax money so you can become the Oprah of Flagler. You were a terrible County councilwoman costing many talented people their job when you reorganized the Road and Bridge Dept. in Flagler. It wasn’t the ditch cleaners, who got laid off who were the problem, we need them now more than ever. It was the overpaid white shirts making the six figures and still are ,like you, who are the root of all the wasted spending.
Just another case of doing whatever they want with impunity. Fix the roads or improve a park.Cant wait to get outa here.
Mark J. Strama says
How about more street lights and stop lights instead of this!!
Sherry Paulovich Ulrich says
Do we get to give our input!!!
Candy Schaffer-Bogley says
this city thinks its got a bottomless pit of $$
Judy McGovern says
Perhaps Mr. Landon will help pay for it with his new raise???Do you think?
I don’t think Steve Nobile is right about it. He’s saying that all should be able to go on air and give their input, They can all do that on line.
Kitty Mayhew Jones says
How about some sidewalks, that are desperately needed, as well as street lights.. SMFH
People still listen to the radio?
Frank Ernst says
What’s new a city hall we didn’t want, $6000.00 raise to the city manager he didn’t deserve and we didn’t want and now HERE’S MELLISA and $10,000.00 we don’t want to spend. Time to drain the Palm Coast swamp too.
Bon Bell says
… good to see a Brad West post…
Brad W says
I have to agree with Mr. Nobile and Ms. Shipley that the manner this came about and the expense are very questionable. Mr. Klufas makes really good points to as to how to measure the effectiveness.
I like the idea of wanting to engage the residents, but radio isn’t the medium to do that. A better option to test that would have little to no expense would be to use Facebook Live broadcasts through the City’s Facebook page. Pages have the ability to broadcast using better video equipment connected to a laptop so you can have a professional-grade broadcast. Depending upon the format you want in the show, viewers can comment and ask questions. Those questions and comments can be addresses then if it’s a Q&A or you address the feedback and comments later on the post or elsewhere. The video stays hosted on the page for residents to view later and the content can be embedded or downloaded for use elsewhere. All the while that content drives residents (and outsiders) to the City’s Facebook page and website increasing the exposure of other things going one while increasing engagement with the City locally and beyond.
I don’t think the idea of using media to engage the public is bad, but I don’t think we should be spending $10,000 for on elected official to be self-promote on a medium that has a limited audience with little to no real way to measure effectiveness.
This is a very BAD idea, which is why both Landon and Holland hid it from the TAXPAYERS. Is Palm Coast incapable of doing business honestly? I am beginning to think that it is. It is time for a new, more transparent system of government here, one with no City Manager. How much money has been wasted in expenses under $10,000? I’m betting a lot. And most would call that theft.
Lynda Misiewicz says
Sounds like the town hall we voted no and it still got built
Gwen Dolina says
not Landon’s money Palm Coasters…see how easy it can spend it..and yes, poor city manager who got 7k raise.. the rest of us don’t have a job or are moonlighting and he had to live on $165k b4 the raise..so sad.. come PC peeps..wake up..
John Yankovich says
Looks like Holland finally gets her payback for supporting Landon’s raise. What’s the problem it’s OPM!!!
Town hall’s instead should be held to hear our concerns…and I have one right now that Jacoby Corp. bought all Centex-Pulte held properties here including the area of the driving range of the Palm Harbor Golf Course held originally, after Centex donated the course to the city, that area to build some villas!
Were are we standing with this part of the deal after we spent over 5 millions to redo the damaged court by the neglect of Centex? Now Jacoby is going to build those villas..? and why if so city would allow that after over six years passed? Can a golf course survive without a driving range? or is the city planning to take our Palm Coast Golf Course away? Please Mayor and Council answer my concern as my home value like over 500 other homes will be seriously undermined if allowed. http://gotoby.com/news/article/2897/Jacoby-Development-Buys-Palm-Coast-Resort-Property-from-Centex
Thank you in advance. We need town halls not radio broadcast monologues.
I’m baffled. On one hand, City council isn’t getting paid enough and the expectation can be unrealistic ( though they singed up for it). On the other hand city council isn’t doing what their constituents want them to do. This is a new city council by far with issues they came into but so far they seem to be caving in to what is expected by the establishment. That is not good. The new community center, for one, is a sore that is destined to fester along with unearned pay raises for the city manager. 10 thousand can go a long way in the support of the arts and other enrichment programs for our kids. Two community centers can exist with the money spent and slated for the renovation of this one. Think forward and be guided by the people of Palm Coast. The safer alternative of radio may work depending of the format. ( Phone Calls). Town hall meetings should be a norm. The money can be spent wiser.
Always easy to spend other peoples money!
steve miller says
Shame on you Milissa …I thought you had your head on straight..that’s why i voted for you…why are you paying for something that should be free? You have disappointed me and will think twice next election cycle…
USA Lover says
@ Pat Patterson. The subdivision developers are responsible for the sidewalks,not the city.
For a moment there I felt like I was back in New Jersey – corrupt politicians wasting taxpayers’ money and justifying it all.
BILL HARVEY says
wasn’t the mayor involved in a radio gig a couple of years ago? maybe that is her “True Love”
Jeff Lazaruis says
How much money does the city have to waste before people finally wake up and get responsible people to run our city .
My street lights on a1a and club house road have been out for a year and they want to spend money on old fashioned communication that is so expensive
BILL HARVEY says
I guess they forgot about the young boy who was killed on his bike weeks ago on old kings road because of no sidewalks and a low life coward person that has yet to be caught by the FHP. I think about him every time I drive down that road and see his roadside memorial. when politicians talk about how human life is a top priority its all BS
Ken Dodge says
If Palm Coast residents can “help shape the future of their city” by filling out the 2017 Citizen Survey which is available online at http://www.palmcoastgov.com/survey or on the homepage of the city’s website, why can’t it work both ways?
Liars ,ego,your doomed Palm coast public, town managers gets a raise and the mayor. Gets a radio show so thankful I moved out of the emerald city
So, we have two members of the council who seem to be against the show, one who can’t figure out to measure the effectiveness and another who doesn’t know what he thinks. A Mayor with bigger aspirations. A city manager who does not think that a political hot potato like this needs to see the light of day because it is less than $30K. What will they do? Pat Jimmy boy on the head and give him another raise? GET A SPINE! Regardless of the dollars, this should have gone to the council for their input and consideration.
If she can do it for free that’s one thing. But they just raised property taxes and gave our city manager a massive raise so he makes MORE than the Los Angeles City manager does! So this citizen says NO THANK YOU.