Mike Cocchiola, the chairman of Flagler County’s Democratic Party, urged the Flagler County Commission today to issue a joint, written public statement that “it supports all citizens equally” and blistered Commissioner Joe Mullins for “inflammatory” language stating publicly that liberals should love “Trump county” or leave it while offering to provide buses and trains to help them along.
Several others echoed Cocchiola’s words, while some spoke in support of Mullins. It was the second time in three months that residents criticized Mullins at a commission meeting for making bigoted or divisive statements through social media. Though candidates for office have at times pushed the limits of civil discourse on social media or the campaign trail, no such conduct has ever been seen from a local elected official.
Mullins considers it his First Amendment right, and thrives on the seeming separation between his social media account and his title as commissioner, though he routinely uses the same account to feature his public-business appearances, make pronouncements as a commissioner and address public issues.
And for the second time in three months, commissioners demurred.
“We had a lot of comments this morning,” Commission Chairman Dave Sullivan said. “All five members of the commission were elected by the people to represent all the people of this county. However, when we come to these meetings, we don’t really need to get into political discourse from either side. We don’t need personal attacks. We don’t need bad language. We don’t need frivolous lawsuits. We want to get on with the business of the county.” He said commissioners aren’t here “to argue who’s right politically or who’s too aggressive in their private matter.”
Sullivan had effectively parried the request by Cocchiola and others by schooling them in red herrings. None of the speakers had used language anywhere near the personal attacks that Mullins has been leveling at residents, nor “bad language,” or threatened “frivolous lawsuits,” nor had anyone argued about who was right or wrong politically, or made political statements: the recurring request to commissioners this morning was the opposite–to make a clear statement of representative unity toward residents of all stripes. And it was focused on county business, and commissioners’ behavior as such.
“There’s no easy solution to this, there is disagreement out there, and I realize it, but that’s not the purpose of the board of county commissioners,” Sullivan said. “The purpose of the board of county commissioners is to provide governance with our staff to ensure that we have the best possible situation for our people, security, safety, and good roads, that kind of thing.”
But Cocchiola’s concerns were not disconnected from county business, even less so from concerns with security.
“Over the past couple of weeks there has been some inflammatory language against some Flagler citizens by commissioner Joe Mullins,” Cocchiola said. “First, he has indicated that he’s going to bring God and his religion into this board and into our public schools. Looks like he’s already made it to this board. That wasn’t a moment of silence. That was a prayer,” Cocchiola said, referring to Commission Chairman’s opening prayer, which in fact was not silent: in a shift from previous commissioners in recent memory, Sullivan invoked God in a clear, brief prayer (“we ask God to bless all the citizens of Flagler County and especially the men and women in the military…”) before an actual moment of silence.
“Second, he said he was going to make this county a Second Amendment county, so I would ask if any of you are armed, I’ll stop speaking.” (Local regulation forbids anyone from being armed inside the Government Services Building in Bunnell, but a state legislator has filed a bill, which has advanced through one committee, that would allow elected officials to arm themselves during government meetings.)
“Third, when pushed back on that by many citizens, he indicated that this is a Trump county–thank you for the hat, Commissioner Mullins, that was really non-partisan of you. Anyway, he has stated this is a Trump county and that anybody who doesn’t like it could leave, and offered to supply buses and trains to get people out of this county. Now, some of his supporters love the reference to trains. It was Holocaust remembrance day, and the trains brought that up.” (Jews and other minorities were shipped off to Auschwitz and the Nazi regime’s other death camps in trains’ cattle cars.)
“He’s also said,” Cocchiola continued, “he can’t imagine how this commission can support those who don’t believe what he believes. That means us. Me. And thousands of Flagler citizens. Now, that inflammatory language can only go so far before it causes conflict.” Cocchiola then referred to press reports about Montana State Rep. Rodney Garcia, a Republican, telling the audience at a GOP event on Saturday that it was OK to shoot socialists. (Garcia then told a reporter: “In the Constitution of the United States (if) they are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot.” No such clause exists in the Constitution or any state or federal law.) “Now such language, if it continues, is going to lead to conflict, and that conflict will do no good for Flagler County,” Cocchiola said. “It’s going to be a long, hot summer, and if that conflict turns to fighting, that fighting is going to spill beyond Flagler,” which would harm the county’s reputation, discouraging new residents and businesses from coming or encouraging some to leave.
“Now, I ask this commission to draft a public statement that it supports all citizens equally, all the time,” Cocchiola said. “Commissioner Hansen already made such a statement, and I appreciate his leadership. I want the board, though, to do that.” (Hansen on his Facebook page on Jan. 26, not long after Mullins had made his “love it or leave” comment, posted: “As your County Commissioner I am proud to serve all of Flagler County….Democrats, Republicans and NPA’s. Even if you didn’t vote for me, I consider myself a representative of ALL of you. Every individual in this County is what makes us who we are…the greatest County out there!”)
“If any commissioner on this board cannot live with that statement, or cannot abide by the oath of office they took when they were sworn in as Flagler County commissioners, then that person must resign,” Cocchiola said.
Jill Reynolds, a Palm Coast resident of six and a half years and a nurse, quoted several of Mullins’s more inflammatory “vitriol,” as she described it, without referring to him by name, such as his statement that “liberals are truly intelligence-deprived” who should be helped to find the state line, and his “offer to pay for the bus charter, or we can do a train.” Reynolds said she’s been called “the most viled names imaginable” herself at public protests and been threatened by vehicles swerving her way.
“Language like the commissioner’s not only condones but incites and encourages this type of behavior. As a health care professional, had I made these public statements I would be deservedly fired and immediately censured by my governing board. The statements of one bring shame to this entire board, so I ask: what will you do then? This rhetoric goes beyond party differences and certainly doesn’t align with the Christian values that many of you profess to have.” She said “we will not be intimidated, we will not be muzzled, we will not leave and we will not yield. You answer to all of us.”
Edith Campins quoted Edmund Burke’s line: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” She said it was not a matter of free speech but of “hate speech,” and of Mullins “threatening to drive out members of the community because they disagree with his political views.” (Mullins’s statements have not actually been threatening, trending more toward bullying or trolling rhetoric.)
“Mr. Mullins,” Campins said, “you’re an offensive little man. I have been part of this community since 1997. I pay my taxes, I volunteer for a number of community organizations. I’m a good neighbor. I have helped make this a good, inclusive community for all. This is my home, and you and your threatening rhetoric will not drive me out. As to the rest of you commissioners, are you going to remain silent until some unstable individual, empowered by Mr. Mullins’s words, decides to take matters into their own hands and decides to come after those liberals and drive them out by force? We have seen enough of these types of incidents in this country. What will you do then. Will you just offer us your thoughts and prayers? You need to stand up for all of us here.”
George Mayo, a Palm Coast resident who is among the most frequent participants at county commission and Palm Coast council meetings, said that “lately it seems like I’m not feeling as welcome anymore in Palm Coast and Flagler County, and other people also, simply because I’m a registered Democrat, and I don’t think that should be the case. I’m sure not all of you on the commission agree with that.” He said many companies that look at potential hires’ social media postings may do the same about a region they’re prospecting in, and that businesses considering to relocate to Flagler might have second thoughts based on what they’d see on social media.
Ed Danko, the Palm Coast resident and candidate for the Palm Coast City Council, spoke in defense of Mullins–who’s given $7,000 to Danko’s Trump organization–wondering why his critics still followed him on Facebook. “I honestly don’t think this type of activity rises to the level of being presented to this distinguished body,” he told commissioners. He said the commissioners, the administration and employees “have far more important things to do than become involved with arguments on facebook. This has become a waste of time. It’s become a waste of taxpayer dollars. A waste of my taxpayer dollars.” He said opponents can vote against Mullins in two years or against Trump in November. He then suggested to the commissioners that they might consider a rule “that limits public comment to issues actually facing our county, and not personal disputes on social media.”
John Erpelding, a Palm Coast resident, described Cocchiola’s and Reynolds’s language as “violent rhetoric” before asking the commissioners to declare Flagler a Second Amendment county.
Toward the end of the meeting, in the segment when commissioners make their own reports, Mullins mentioned where he’d be attending the president’s State of the Union message. “That’s a private meeting with one party involved,” Sullivan interrupted. “We don’t announce those meetings here.” But Sullivan and other commissioners did not speak of residents’ earlier concerns further.
Concerned Citizen says
You won’t get that type of statement from the BOCC.
Mullins has them cowed. Much like others have. For some reason they are afraid of him. What kind of Intel does he have? Must be good. Also most of them are just as corrupt as he is. So they will continue to allow his childish and immature 3rd grade sandbox behavior.
@ Joe Mullins
I strongly disagree with you and your Trump Wannabe bootlicking politics. I’m still wondering how you will make me leave this county. Will it be by force? Will you use deputies or armed troops? Just how do you intend on getting me on that bus/train? Why don’t you go back to Augusta and leave us alone. Oh wait you can’t.
@ Our BOCC
Your supporting Joe Mullins and his behavior makes you no better than him.
We the citizens of Flagler County demand fair and ethical representation of ALL CONSTITUENTS in this county. Not just those who agree with your politics or are special interests/developers.
We also expect you to do your job honestly and ethically. It’s time to start stamping out corruption in our county. Let’s get new Commisioners who will represent us like they are supposed to. Start making those calls to the State Attorney’s Office. If we can’t vote them out we can have them removed.
I intend to do my part at the polls to make sure no incumbents get re-elected. Will you? Change starts with us.
The Commissioners didn’t place Mullins on that Commission, YOU THE VOTERS DID. Stop trying to blame everybody else and vote him out. Simple. One man is corrupt so everybody is corrupt?
Flying bird says
I agree . I suggest starting tomorrow we all start calling Desantis office and file our complaints.Mullins is out of line his mouth is bigger than his brain .
Kathleen Brady says
I would just like to remind all of my fellow Flagler county residents to remember these incidents when it comes time to vote.
Danko supports Mullins verbally and monetarily? I was barely half considering voting for Danko, but the statement he made about supporting Mullins just made up my mind for me. Danko will get a NO vote from this household right along with a NO vote for Mullins.
Stan Gruchawka says
Perhaps Mr. Cocciola should run for a seat on the commission so he can have more sway. Since when are Democrats inclusive? Inclusive maybe only with those who agree with them?
Give it a rest. Three strikes and yer out.
“Mullins mentioned where he’d be attending the president’s State of the Union message.”
He has a television with cable subscription, watch it like the rest of America does ? Scale his income back, obviously making too much money if he can fly, lodging & schmooze to attend the SOTUA. I certainly hope it’s not a budgeted item that the taxpayer’s of Flagler county are funding ?
Tim McAuliffe says
Georgia Joe was at a local restaurant for the SOTU address He was aware that of a rally by Indivisible was scheduled At 5:00 on the 100 at Seminole protesting the Senate vote on Trump’s removal. Mullins organized a some of the other patrons to have a counter demonstration. Of course to promote as much chaos as possible, Georgia Joe suggested the MAGA boys and girls arrive at 4:30, before the Indivisible protesters arrived. The MAGA thugs grabbed both corners. One brave woman from Indivisible stepped up in the midst of about 7 thugs, displaying her disagreement with the Senate vote. As more of us arrived to support her, Mr Mullens’ desired goal was reached, a confrontation. Fortunately, the police arrived before any damage was done and the MAGA’s were sent across the street, and both parties were allowed to make their points of view.
The thing that sticks out the most is that Joe Mullens was not on the scene to be responsible for the situation he promoted.
He says dumb things. He is unabashedly pro TRUMP. He thinks being those two in conjunction is a winning tactic for him. IMO its not but… Vote for another person next time around if one is unhappy with hist rhetoric or his performance as a County Commissioner.
Percy's mother says
1. Jill Reynolds, the nurse, who spoke out against Joe Mullins’ PRIVATE Facebook posts, and who took up taxpayer time to do so, mentioned that were she to post such comments (as Joe Mullins has posted) on her private Facebook page, her governing licensing body (State of Florida Department of Health) would censure her.
Sorry Jill, the Board of Health (MQA) in the State of Florida has much more important things to do than worry about a licensee’s private Facebook posts.
2. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of people bringing their personal issues to meetings meant for public taxpayer time and that includes school board meetings.
On listening to the comments by Mr. Cocciola, Ms. Champins, Ms. Reynolds, et al, I couldn’t help but wonder if there are other underlying emotional issues going on with these people. Why would any person(s) who apparently gets/get very upset and unnerved by Joe Mullins’ PRIVATE Facebook posts, willingly keep going on Joe Mullins’ PRIVATE Facebook account to keep getting themselves upset to the point that, in Ms. Champin’s words, she fears for her life and/or safety?
What the hell are you people doing with your time sitting on Joe Mullins’ PRIVATE Facebook page if you don’t like his comments? No one is forcing you to spend your time reading Joe Mullins’ comments on his own Facebook page.
How about signing off all social media and getting on with life in the here and now? Get a part-time job, start a cottage business, wear yourself out at the gym, go to an EMMA concert, start a nutritional program geared to feeding emotional health, volunteer at the humane society.
As Mr. Sullivan stated, there are much more important issues in Flagler County such as mental health, the homeless woman who came forward to comment on the homeless issue, and the ongoing saga of the sheriff’s operations center.
I think this ongoing issue with people getting distraught about what Joe Mullins posts on his PRIVATE Facebook pages is bizarre. I think keeping this narrative going on taxpayer time needs to come to a conclusion.
GET A LIFE PEOPLE! There are so many other positive and uplifting ways to spend your time.
Joe Mullins Facebook book page is NOT set to private it is public. No matter how many times you type the word Private in your comment it will still be publicly accessible. And to suggest people distract themselves to the point they don’t notice the bigotry makes no sense.
Oliver Hardy says
Hey Dave… they still have the option to not follow him and yet they do… why?
Edith Campins says
No, his comments are not posted on a “private” Facebook page. They are there for all to see. His behaviour is unacceptable for any public official. Have you actually read the threats he has made? Because his remarks are inflmatory and offensive by any standard of decent behavior. How are you suppossed to feel when a public officials says he is “coming for you”?
I do “have a life”.I volunteer for a number of community organizations and have been doing so for many years. Do you?
My fear is that some unstable individual will take matters into their own hands and decide to do Mr. Mullins bidding. We have seen enough instances of similar tragedies happening in this country. Do I fear Mr. Mullins coming for me? No, he is a coward who will rely on others to do his bidding.
Oliver Hardy says
Percy has a good mom
Mike Cocchiola says
Percey’s Mother… First, Joe’s Facebook page is available to the public. Second, no matter how we all saw what Joe has said, the issue is WHAT HE SAID! Sorry, got emotionally distraught there. But, anyway, the issues are PUBLIC! Sorry, can’t seem to control the emotional button.
Joe is, as you should know, a county commissioner. His words, no matter when and where he says them, carry the weight of his office. Those words have consequences. He has brought anguish and fear to Flagler with his hateful statements that “liberals” are treacherous and treasonous. He has clearly stated that if you, me or anyone else in Flagler County does not agree with his extreme religious and political views they should leave. This from an elected county official who swore an oath to serve all citizens of Flagler.
So, I would think this is a very serious public issue – hate speech, discrimination and exclusion with possible legal implications – that have been rightfully brought to the attention of the full BOCC. That’s what they are there for. It’s their job to listen. No one is wasting their time or your tax dollars.
Hope this soothes your troubled mind.
So if your a nurse, start to copy and paste the words Joe posts on his PUBLIC page, see what happens, if you aren’t a nurse you should educate yourself about professional online behavior and the consequences ( you can find 20 examples on google in about 2 minutes) also I spent my day, standing up for what I think is right, using my real name , in public.
Percy's mother says
The State of Florida Department of Health (MQA) oversees it’s licensees. NOT Google. As a nurse, you surely know that. You don’t renew a healthcare license through Google . . . you go to the State of Florida Department of Health website to update your continuing education, and as well, pay your fee to renew a license.
The State of Florida Department of Health doesn’t have time to monitor it’s licensee’s Facebook posts.
No, not a nurse, much much more education in healthcare than that.
LPN, RN, BSN, MSN, ARNP? Which are you?
Oh “Perceys mom” I am well aware of who and where my license comes from, if you’ve ever renewed a license there is a question : HAVE YOU EVER BEEN FIRED AND FOR WHAT REASON , I know this because I have been licensed in 5 different states over my distinguished career. I mentioned google because I encouraged you to do some research on your own as I am not your research assistant. And if you are MUCH MUCH more educated than a nurse , this would all be common knowledge to you. Wish you the best
Under Florida law, only the Governor May remove a sitting Commissioner. All complaints need to be sent to Governor Ron DeSantis in Tallahassee. This man is a fraud and a buffoon. However, you need to blame the voters for this mess.
Merrill Shapiro says
Layla, do you mean
Office of Governor Ron DeSantis
State of Florida
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Name (required) says
Wow. Americans have lost their wits with regard to their political fervency. Does anyone ever stop to consider that a**holes hide behind politics to further their a**hole agenda? Such a sniveling group of blowhards, chomping at the bit with their falsely fueled political jargon, nothing more than mind vomit and self satisfaction through bullhorning their zealot ideologies on the internet. You’ve all ruined Facebook. You’ve ruined your abilities to understand tolerance and affection for humankind. Community. Neighbors. Human people. You tout your advantages as some “earned Hierarchy,” an thus stand on your soapboxes with your message of righteousness. The irony is that any normal person can see the total hypocrisy in your devout positions, vs. actions and opinions. The asinine struggle of today’s political arena has trickled into local politics and it’s disgusting. Grow up, be someone who is worth remembering. There are no modern statesmen… just zealots for their own personal agendas. Installed (voted, lol)under a guise of political righteousness. none of you know what you’re doing; and all of us can see that. Get your Sh!t together.
Ya’ get what ya’ pay for, folks!
John R Brady says
According to Google threatening is defined as follows: (of a person or situation) causing someone to feel vulnerable or at risk.
“she was a type he found threatening” Therefore I dispute your statement, ” Mullins’s statements have not actually been threatening, trending more toward bullying or trolling rhetoric.)”Threatening is an adjective and is a feeling and therefore if a person feels threatened they feel threatened contrary to your judgement.
Remember I asked about a code of conduct for county employees and sadly my question was not answered. In the world I worked in, a person making the statement that Commissioner Mullins made would be receiving at least an oral warning and perhaps a written warning. A second offense would be days on the street.
As anyone who has followed my letters to the editors and comments here know, I have been a frequent critic of the Commission and Palm Coast City Council because of their repeated failure to recognize their supervisory responsibility. Kudos to Palm Coast because their City Chaster there is a provision to remove a wayward Councilor .
Only the Governor may remove a sitting Commissioner. That is Florida law, passed by your state representatives. Why is it the voters don’t want to take any responsibility in any of this?
Write your letters to the Governor. Why is it I am the only person here who understands this law? Easier to gripe? Apparently so.
CB from PC says
I wonder also why these people who are offended by Mullins PRIVATE FB page continue to look.
Kind of like when we were kids and the old Dracula movies scared us, but we watched them anyway for the crazy stimulation.
Just remember, to put it in perspective, Joe is “just like a crazy old Uncle that nobody pays attention to”.
Real simple: don’t like him, vote him out.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
THIS IS AN E-MAIL SENT TO ME and to Joe Mullin’s Georgia Attorney, not licensed in Florida demanding I contact his lawyer to avoid being ‘sued’. THIS WAS SENT OFFICIALLY ON FLAGLER COUNTY E-MAIL , AND SIGNED IN HIS CAPACITY AS COUNTY COMMISSIONER, DISTRICT 4 . Our County Attorney did nothing.
“From: Joseph Mullins
Sent: Monday, October 28, 2019 2:37 PM
To: janemay; [email protected]
Cc: Al Hadeed; [email protected]
Subject: Re: Unacceptable behavior, lies and harassment from a commissioner
I appreciate all you do and am sorry this continual silliness is wasting your time and the county’s money.
I am copying my attorney on this issue. I also am copying my personal email. Since these two insist on sending to county email subjects of my personal business. My partners in my company are going to seek a gag order for these unhinged actions by Ms. You’d. We have been operating in Fla for well over 10 years with several different LLC. Some are Florida and some are foreign corporations but all are normal business structures for the state of Florida.
I don’t mind tolerating the silly comments and attacks on me but since she and her husband have decided that attacking me isn’t enough that she has escalated to my business and personal family I think it’s time to involve my personal attorney.
Ms Youd please provide the name of your personal attorney so we can see if this is possible of resolving before we move to civil litigation options. And be advised they are watching all dialogue on social media. Please find a new hobby before this one cost you a great deal.
County Commissioner District 4
E: [email protected] | V: 386-313-4001 | W: http://www.flaglercounty.org
Flagler County Board of County Commissioners
1769 E. Moody Blvd., Bldg #2
Bunnell, FL 32110″
Chelsea Hawk says
That was October. This is February. Do you have anything new? Clearly not. Come on Jane. Repeating the same thing over and over again is just one more thing that reflects incredibly poorly on you.
Jane Gentile-Youdoud says
Mentioned because Commissioner Sullivan said it was all on social media which is untrue
David Gillon says
The residents of this community deserve public servants who respect us — all of us. Instead, we have Joe Mullins. Let’s get him out of office before he hurts someone.
Mullins is acting like a petulant child and following in the footsteps of his mentor, Donald Trump with the tantrums and the bullying and lawsuit threats. These are not the character traits of a stable person.
Flagler County Commissioners are as guilty as Mullin in his bully tactics against Democrats in Flagler County. Sooner or later he will come out with more bully tactics and you will regret your not doing something about his childish behavior. He is a want to me Donald Trump in Flagler County and the voters will not forget him in his next election. Those that voted for him already regret that they did. He has no business holding any kind of position in this county. He is a small person trying to act bigger then he really is.
Trailer Bob says
Wow! It is going to be a long two years, I guess.
I am a Republican ( a sane one) and am thinking of running for Mullins position. Much more political experience and a true love and concern for Bunnell and the County.
I am a conservative, not a hater.
But boy, it is going to be a LONG two years…lol
Haha Bob, I am a staunch liberal but may help you campaign:) good luck !!
This Napoleon Syndrome piss ant isn’t worth the ink to write about. . Ignore and move on already. VOTE him OUT.
Concerned Citizen says
That’s interesting that he admits to having “foreign companies”
Someone should do some investigative journalism. Make sure these “foreign companies” are legitimate.
@ Joe Mullins
In the private sector it’s generally frowned on using time at work and company resources to handle personal disputes. I’d prefer you spend your time on the BOCC ethically representing ALL constiuents.
I’m a NJ resident. I’ve been looking at various homes for sale in Flagler. I fell in love with Flagler County when I visited a few years ago. Guess what? I will definitely NOT be buying a home in Flagler county. If an elected politician can voice this hate and intolerance of another’s political view (offering to put people on a bus or train…..seriously??) without any denouncement from the board, then I need to find a better, inclusive county. Bye.
Trailer Bob says
You let one small man decide where you live? This is a great place to live and work. If you don’t read about Mullins, he doesn’t exist. There is a Mullins in all towns in America.
Cori running for BOCC , c’mon who else out there running we need new faces in those seats. Hope Mullins gets picked by Trump to overstay his visit at his speech last night. We don’t need him back, a divisive commissioner concentrated only on on feds issues more than local ones while denigrating the local residents taxpayers.