Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland asked Manager Jim Landon on Tuesday to make council meeting materials accessible sooner than on the day the council meets. Landon’s stunning answer, a rebuke to both the council’s and public’s right to examine city business before meetings: don’t bet on it.
Unique among local governments, Palm Coast does not post key portions of its public meetings’ agenda materials on the web, for public perusal,until the meeting starts. The County Commission, Flagler Beach, Bunnell and the School Board routinely post all their agenda materials, presentations and background several days ahead of time, as do most local and even state agencies.
In Palm Coast, delaying posting the material to the day of the meeting, which previous council members had on occasion complained about (among them the late Frank Meeker, Jason DeLorenzo and Steve Nobile) has been a way for Landon to control the information and limit public reactions until he’s had the time to frame the issue before the council.
Notorious for his obsessive control, Landon for the first time on Tuesday was publicly and repeatedly questioned about the method by Holland, who wants more time for herself and her colleagues to prepare ahead of meetings. Every member of the council has a full-time job in addition to council duties.
Landon proffered various excuses and mis-characterizations to explain why he could not usually accommodate council members in that regard: presentations are often completed only the day before the meeting. The council meets every week, so the “cycle” makes demands on administrative staff. “It’s not practical.”
Landon also repeatedly exaggerated the issue, as he is wont to do when he gets defensive: “I’m just saying if it’s not ready, I can’t get it to you. When you have a meeting every week, to expect staff to be two weeks ahead is not practical,” Landon said.
Holland never asked for meeting material to be ready a week before the meeting date. Generally other governments give their elected officials and the public 24 to 48 hours to examine the material. On the County Commission, former Commissioner Alan Peterson–a former Palm Coast Council member–on several occasions berated the county manager for including “slip sheets,” or place-holders, in place of actual background materials ahead of meetings: it was expected that the entire package should be complete and ready for commissioner and public examination.
For the public, it’s a way to be alerted to such things as, say, fee increases, rule changes or coming projects, encouraging or at least alerting public participation. For elected officials, it’s a way to come to the meetings prepared not only to be lectured–or manipulated–by the administration, but armed enough with information to ask questions.
Never a fan of public participation, Landon does not relish being challenged or have his staff’s rehearsed presentations thrown off its steps. Keeping meeting material unpublished until the last minute preserves that element of control.
“Most of the presentations you’re seeing,” Landon said, “lots of times they’re finalized Monday, just so you know. That’s why we’ll say in the agenda item is that we’re presenting something to you but they’re not final.”
Yet Landon himself expects much longer lead time on materials he wants on the agenda: “From my standpoint when I’m asked as the attorney to prepare something for the agenda packet, my deadline is like the Tuesday before the next Tuesday,” in other words, a week ahead, city attorney Bill Reischmann said.
Landon, likely surprised to be counteracted by his usually pliant attorney, jumped in: “It’s Thursday,” he corrected (still five days ahead).
“Virginia always tells me Tuesday,” Reischmann insisted, referring to the city clerk.
Presentations may not be completed until Monday because Landon’s method has never been challenged before. It is also somewhat misleading to suggest that the weekly meeting schedule prevents the administration from making materials more accessible sooner: the council holds two workshops and two “business” meetings a month, but business meetings are retreads of items discussed at the workshop: except for resolutions that are usually drafted well ahead of time (note Reischmann’s deadlines), business meetings are designed to ratify workshop discussions, not spring new material on council members.
“I know that each person on this council works a lot, and so I would like to see if we can get some of this in advance,” Holland told Landon, speaking especially of big-ticket items like the budget or utility issues. Landon had sat on a presentation about the utility department, including a proposal to raise rates 20.6 percent over the next four years, until Tuesday morning. “I want to be able to understand and look at the issue before I get to the workshop to really be able to say how can we understand this or how can we understand that,” Holland continued, “Even to be able to sit down with you and say, frankly, why are we doing this, and tell me why.” She noted the importance of being able defend her actions to constituents when asked about certain items.
Council members Nick Klufas and Vincent Lyon echoed Holland. “The finance department presentation is on the website. I couldn’t find any of the others,” Lyon said of Tuesday’s agenda, which had stretched the meeting past the four-hour mark, not counting a break for pizza. But neither council member pressed Holland’s point, ultimately leaving Holland to make her case alone and letting Landon off the hook.
“I’m not talking just about me, I’m talking about everyone’s time. I find time to really do my job responsibly as an elected person on this council,” Holland said. She was not suggesting that the meeting schedule should be changed. “But sometimes when I walk into these I might feel very overwhelmed by everything we’re seeing in a workshop. Not always. When it comes to budget items, it’s a lot of information to just digests and to sit there and think about, especially I will say this utility discussion is a huge one for me. I’m trying to understand how we fund all these projects that we’re talking about.”
Landon doubled-down: “You’re feeling overwhelmed, well, I’ve got staff, it’s crunch-time right now and I can’t make commitments to get things to you that aren’t ready,” he said. “Our schedule is such that it’s just not very practical to get this stuff to you.” Throughout the 12-minute discussion, Landon spoke as if the public’s interest in accessing the same materials was non-existent. He never mentioned it.
He said all budget items were before the council weeks before the September hearings when they are expected to vote on it. But that merely clouded the matter: Landon’s method applies all year to all key issues being presented to the council, budget or otherwise.
“I’m not trying to be difficult but I’m just trying to be practical,” he told Holland.
“And I’m just saying as soon as you get it it would be helpful for me,” Holland said.
Not hearing much more than Holland’s voice, Landon did not commit to making materials more readily available ahead of meetings.
No sympathy! Voters got the council a certain publisher wanted and council got the city manager THEY created. When faced with opportunity to fire Landon, council voted in favor of presenting him with his golden parachute, courtesy of taxpayers.
When was His Majesty crowned?
Narcissist get rid of this overpaid clown
Who works for who?? I’d like to smack that smug look off his face. Get rid of him already, what are you waitng for?
Time to document his behaviour for a sit down warning meeting between him and the mayor. She does his annual appraisal doesn’t she?
Look at that smug look on Landons face. He thinks he is the bomb. The city let’s him get away with it.
Nancy N. says
I will say it for the umpteenth time. WHY DOES THIS INSUBORDINATE LYING NARCISSIST STILL HAVE A JOB????
The only logical conclusion at this point is that the entire council has developed amnesia about the fact that Landon actually works for them. Because they seem to think that he is their boss.
Not a single sitting council member will get a vote from me in November if Landon is still collecting a city paycheck then. Period. This is insanity.
One of the many reasons things are not ready early enough is that concessions are made and allow people turning things in at the last hour not giving enough time for workers to complete things early. If you get what you ask for it will tighten the deadline on the applicants and may delay their projects. I thought much of it was discussed at the workshop in advance?
Concerned Citizen says
I work in the private sector and If I acted the way Landon is acting I’d get one warning to shape up. After that I’m pretty sure my boss wouldn’t put up with any crap like this afterwards.
I cannot understand why Landon is able to intimidate the Council and get away with outright insubordination. He must have really good dirt on them.
@ Jim Landon
You’ve been put on notice that the residents of Palm Coast are tired of your childish behavior. Yes you might not care but it’s your job to manage the city. All you are doing at this point is managing your interests until you decide to retire.
You might want to keep in mind it’s election year. You could easily end up with a new mayor and council that doesn’t give 2 cents who you are or what agreement you might have. With a change of government unemployment can come swift.
John Brady says
This man has been doing this for years. He is a master of distraction. Attend a Council meeting and you will hear him say”We’ve talked about this before”
We need the Colonel who has experience giving a direct order. Failure to follow a direct order would result in dismissal for cause. That would have him lose his golden parachute
Flaglerlive time to call the Council members again. Last time it was 4 to 1 to let Jim go but the 4 wimped out
Time to think of moving to a strong mayor Council form of governance. Might not be a bad idea on County level also. On County level Coffey replaced by elected executive. Voters would have more power.
Tipton and Howell badly needed
John Brady says
One further thought, maybe if all city managers did not have sit in on all Council meetings like birds on a wire, they would have more time to prepare material
Fool me once shame on you, fool me every Council meeting OMG
Diana L. says
The Mayor and the council have proven that they are spineless. Landon owns them. #Spineless
Dennis McDonald says
Very simple solution to a problem that has been allowed to fester for years. The Council needs to Vote on a cutoff day for any item to be heard on Mr Landon’s Agenda[the city manager makes the agenda]. If that date is exceeded then Mr Landon’s boss the Council ,VOTES Mr Landon’s agenda item off that meetings agenda.
Mr Landon CAN NOT CONTROL the Councils Vote. Any member may make a motion at the beginning of the meeting to pull an item off the agenda. It then takes a second and then three Votes for a final action.
So are there THREE VOTES to get this done ? I believe there are two new Votes on the way that would favor this remedy coming in this election.
Hang in there Mayor help is on the way…the Colonel will be pleased to make the motion because as Chairman you are not allowed unless you give up the gavel !
The most unusual city government that I have ever experienced.
I’ve lived in Michigan, California, Texas and Florida…
Rick Kahn says
Why is this JERK acting like Hillary? Serve the public or get the Hell out NOW!
If he can’t get it done then get someone who can. He would not last in a private company with those replies.
This entire city council needs to go. I am so sick and tired of one person holding the entire city government hostage while he laughs all the way to the bank. Fire him already! Buy out his contract. We will be dollars ahead when you drain the Palm Coast swamp!
Hey council members—YOU ARE THE BOSS OF LANDON AND HE CAN BE TERMINIATED IF HE IS INSOROBRNATE. It sounds like the County is just as guilty, just not to the degree that Landon is. The county puts place holders in on the materials that they don’t want to share until the last minute. How many times have we read on here that the county slips things in at the last minute that aren’t even reflected on the agenda or they slide things in on the consent agenda and pass them without even knowing what they approved. The perfect example of that is the Sally Sherman rehire at $190,000 the following date after her retirement. Holland too was a county commissioner and is very familiar with the game. Holland is trying to make brownie points to hold a political position because she is well aware that we tax payers are fed up with Holland, Landon and current incumbents and are voting in new blood.
So basically Palm Coast is not a Constitutional Republic with any form of True Democracy, as the elected officials are simply “puppets” Congratulations, you will ALL probably not be in office much longer as the people have grown tired of Lord Landon and his fiefdom. I don’t care what political affiliation you are, were, and when you “changed”, you ALL need to go, as well as Lord Landon, and his pompous Ar$e. In the meantime, Palm Coast is crumbling.
Landon a class narcissistic jerk. His cocky attitude should be grounds for removal.
What a bunch of fannywaste running Palm Coast
Fire Landon now
Little Bird says
Having spent decades In both public & private sector the way it works everywhere else is there are cut-off times and dates for agenda items to be submitted and publishing of the agenda happens minimum 24hrs in advance. There may also be an “other” section at the end of the agenda, which the meeting leader may allow for participants to briefly address or mention items not on agenda as time allows but these would not be anything serious or items a vote is required and such is often governed by time (1-3 min per topic/pereon). I’m utterly sick of “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality so rampant with Palm Coast city sheep! Y’ALL have been brainwashed by Landon!
Side note says
Meanwhile, this Landon crap is so boring and never ending the geezers in the background are listening to Led Zeppelin on their headsets.
Trailer Bob says
I am sickened to see how Palm Coast government is run. I was an elected official for decades up north and we had checks and balances, information prior to meetings, and no “city manager”. If you have a mayor, council, and finance director, what do you need a manager for? You have taken away the power of the people via a vote in deciding who represents them. It is obvious that Landon is an egotistical ass who thinks he is a king. Like other have said here, regardless of party affiliation, all current representatives of Palm Coast should be thrown out in November. By the way, we are paying this city manager more than any other official gets paid even in Connecticut. Wake up folks. Get lost Landon.
Rob Jr says
Don’t blame Mr. Landon.
He is only benefiting from a system that allows the process to exist.
Blame those who perpetuate it.
The city really needs a strong mayor gubment and ditch the over paid town manager gubment.
Replacing Mr Landon won’t change anything but the face and the name.
Wait a minute says
Wait a minute. They meet every week? Why the hell do they meet every week. I know folks don’t like Landon but in fairness if you’re meeting EVERY week how the hell can staff prepare anything in advance. This seems very dysfunctional approach that would only set the stage for a very rushed, erratic and reactionary type planning. Why don’t they meet twice a month like most other bodies. Stepping back I can see the frustrations of both sides. It seems some people only read the headline. This is an organizational function that seems way off and ineffective.
David T Schaefer says
What a joke. Wake up people.
Mayor Holland once again, how many times can taxpayers in PC tell you that we want Landon gone. You are in control and was elected mayor of PC, not Landon. Do right for PC and get Landon out and out NOW.
It is time to have a WORKING MAYOR. Enough of this manager style management, the new manager after this one will not be any better but our cost will increase.
Tom Davies says
if Landon spends all his time defending himself, how is he effective for the good of the city.
If he’s so hated, how in the world does he sleep at night. (he just doesnt care?)
whats his background, where up north did he come from, did he pull this stuff there, does he have a history. and what town got rid of him up there?
Landon should have been canned long ago. I am enjoying the useless council reaping their just rewards for having no spine.
To Side Note, in regards to your comment about the old geezers in the background–the one in the striped shirt is a man named Jack Carroll who has attended just about every city council meeting for about 20 years. He is around age 90, and the headsets that he wears allow him to hear. The other man is Mr McCarthy, I don’t know how old he is, but he attends and participates also almost all the time and he too uses the headset to hear.
Most of us never attended even one city council meeting. These gentlemen care very much about their city and county and I give them many kudos for having the energy and stamina at their ages to be so involved.
Landon has repeatedly been as disrespectful as any official I have seen. Mayor Holland and the rest of the commission should hold him in contempt if the documents are not provided as the law and the board deem necessary. Though he fancies himself large and in charge – he is not! He needs to be reigned in or fired if he cannot do his job according to the rules and expectations. He has been a pompous ass for long enough!
Jack (No Tax Jack) Howell says
Jim Landon is no fool. As long as the spineless members of the City Council allow him to get his way, this is what you get. Of course, we must also remember that he was hand picked by Mayor Jon Netts! I have not been a fan of Landon since the day he started.
Trust me, when elected, I will not tolerate his arrogance and he will provide all information requested by Council in a timely manner. Failure to do so will be deemed as insubordination and I will do everything feasible to terminate him on the spot! I want to remind him that when a member of Council directs him to do something, that is a direct order. I don’t want a bunch of excuses as to why he can’t get it done by my time lines. He is in for a rude awakening when dealing with me. I know he likes to bully and lie his way out of sticky situations. If he tries that nonsense with me, I will put him in checkmate. I will also teach him something about Marine Colonels he will regret.
It is time for change and I will bring it to this lack-luster group of City Council members!
Born and Raised Here says
The agenda should be posted so I can read and prepare myself for the subjects that will be covered at the council meeting.
John Dolan esq. says
Perfect example of what ruined Palm Coast. Big ego’s with no solutions or creative ideas. Shameful.
Mr Howell said that Mr Netts hand picked Landon. I am of the understanding that candidates for city manager were selected, and the 5 council members interviewed each finalist individually and then each council person cast a vote for their choice and the finalist with the most votes won..
I wish there was a way to find out how Mr Netts actually voted. I wonder how far back the records go?
Louis Lashinsky says
If any of the existing council members run for reelection without firing Landon I will never give them my vote. If the sitting council members do not have the balls to get rid of Landon then I think the residents of Palm Coast are past ready to elect people who will fire Landon.
Are you surprised that the Mayor or at least one member of the City Council failed to comment on this very important issue.
Are they really so isolated from the public?
Ron Anderson says
Get rid of Landon!
Mr Landon has obviously not learned anything in the last 2 years. if you want to run the government the way you do, to garner more public support you need to hold some rallies and blame all the problems in this city on Mexicans, Democrats, fake news, the deep state, China, the EU,”the swamp” etc etc etc…, Let the people know that you, and you alone, are our savior. Landon/Netts 2018! Make Palm Coast Great Again
@Snapperheaad, maybe you prefer a President who has relations with a 20 something year old intern in the Oval Office, not to mention all the African American families he broke up with his mass incarcerations. You see Both parties have their trash, and you shouldn’t judge them all based on the actions of one or the few, that is the textbook definition of being PREJUDICE.
It’s really an old tactic – giving out agenda, minutes, etc AT THE TIME of the meeting. Minor errors are placed to be corrected as a form of diversion. Anyone who has control of the information can’t be questioned or refuted. Information is power. Information given should be given time to be digested & verified.