Flagler County Commissioner Donald O’Brien was named to the Board of Directors of the Florida Association of Counties, the statewide organization that advocates and lobbies at the Legislature on behalf of Florida’s 67 counties, with a focus on home rule and preservation of revenue for government services.
The association’s board of directors has 46 members, with 40 members named from each of the state’s senatorial districts, and six members named as at-large members. O’Brien is an at-large appointee. He was elected to the County Commission in 2016, defeating 24-year incumbent George Hanns. O’Brien has since forged an independent path on the commission, focusing on stricter financial oversight but also proposing concrete alternatives–whether it’s cutting the budget or finding new money for beach restoration.
“I had told some of the leadership that I wanted to step up” for a greater leadership role on the association board, O’Brien said.
“I think it helps give us more stature with our representatives, Hutson and Reenner, that they see we’re involved in a statewide organization.” Flagler is represented by Sen. Travis Hutson and House Rep. Paul Renner, whose ears are generally more attuned to voices that represent sizable interests. “FAC is very well respected in Tallahassee,” O’Brien continued. “There’s a lot of policy-writing that goes on with FAC, so to the extent that I can participate with that and possibly get our voice heard on things even more, that’s a big part of it.”
For example, the association played a significant role helping Flagler and other counties keep a 2014 law on the books that preserves local authority in regulating short-term vacation rentals. That fight is likely not over. As for what specific initiatives O’Brioen intends to bring to the association’s attention, he said he would have a clearer answer after the group’s initial policy meeting.
O’Brien also serves as a policy leader on the Finance, Tax and Administration Policy Committee for the association. The committee sets the legislative and policy priorities for FAC with respect to statewide or regional financial, taxation and administrative policy proposals. The committee also participates in the lobbying efforts with state and federal officials in support of the policy proposals.
O’Brien is also on the Board for the Audit and Finance committee, which is responsible for financial oversight of FAC itself.
“Your commitment to public service and your leadership role in the community are valuable assets to the Association and the people of Florida,” Karson Turner, president of the Florida Association of Counties and a Hendry County commissioner, was quoted as saying in a release issued by O’Brien’s office last week.
In July, O’Brien and fellow-commissioners Greg Hansen and Dave Sullivan graduated from the association’s Certified County Commissioner Program, a voluntary program of study designed to enhance skills relevant to the duties and responsibilities of county governance. It requires the completion of 45 hours of course work, taught by a team of university faculty, government officials, and professional speakers over a period of 12-18 months. Commissioners Charlie Ericksen and Nate McLaughlin are alumni of the Program. (The county administration in July issued a release about the commissioners completing the certification, but it did not issue a release about O’Brien’s nomination to the association’s board. A spokesperson explained that the administration found out about O’Brien’s appointment through his own release, and since it’d already been issued, there was no need for an additional one.)
Joseph Pulitzer says
A commissioner for all the people. Keep up the good work Mr. O’Brien we appreciate your hard work.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Congratulations Commissioner..wonderful news..
So glad to know you are actively engaged in saving (whatever we have of) home rule in regulating ‘vacation rentals’. As a homeowner and broker/realtor they frighten me with a very real potential for devaluing our single family home’s value as well as right to quiet peace and enjoyment 24/7 currently not subject to weekend tenants who have big loud parties etc.
Commissioner O’Brien is correct. All our local governments are under attack by the Florida Vacation Management Association, AIRBNB, HOMEAWAY, VRBO, Florida Realators Association and their lobbyist. Beware of Lori Killinger the lobbyist for the Florida Vacation Management Association. She has caused this destructive behavior in our single family communities. It was her bill in 2011( Senate Bill 883) that remove home rule from our local municipalities and strip our local property zoning which would have prevented this incompatible busniess use in our backyards. Now this industry is backing Joe Mullins attempting to delute our ordinances in Flagler County.
Senator Hutson said he was in support of home rule. But we all know now that statement was false when he voted in favor of a State takeover of vacation rental regulations from our local governments. He sided with the vacation rental industry over his own constituents and local representatives. I am challenging our representatives to introduce a bill this legislation session repealing 2011 Senate Bill 883 return full home rule authority to regulate vacation rentals. Along with our right to properly zone these transient public lodging establishments.
Hey Donald, how about start leading in your position on the BOCC and stop worrying about distractions as this. It is way past time that the BOCC took their positions seriously and gained control over their staff, like Hadeed and Coffey. You didn’t demonstrate that you were a very good leader when you allowed the Sally Sherman robbery to be slipped through the consent agenda at our expense. You have not stepped up to the plate with finding a suitable location for the Sheriff Operations Center. You have not stepped up to the plate regarding the health and safety of those affected by the sick old Bunnell Hospital/Sheriff’s Operation Center. It is time for the BOCC to get their act together and lead this county and stop worrying about how many ribbons you can collect and how many other boards you can be on. The BOCC has been a huge disappointment to this county for many years. It is time that Coffey and Hadeed be fired and you do the job you were elected to do.
Silence is golden from the Mullins camp on restricting short term vacation rentals to areas zoned exclusively for transient public lodging establishment businesses.
Mullins where are you on this issue? It looks like Jane believes this is a breach of our local property zoning laws put in place to protect our single family communities from this incompatible use.
Will you fight for your constituents or side with the vacation industry and their investors? What do you stand for? Other then being a Trump Republican. I am a republican but I can not support a candidate that will not protect his neighbor from this abuse.
Renting a home maybe a right. But using ones home as a hotel is a busniess operations and was never a property right until the State removed home rule authority in 2011 when they pass Senate Bill 883. This use is not a rental. This use uses a licensing agreement. Big difference between a permanent occupancy and a transient occupancy. Each single family home owners rights to peaceful enjoyment of their homes where violated when the State passed Senate bill 883.
Any lawyers out their will to file a class action laws suite against the State? For a Burt Harris claim. I surveyed many homesteaded residents asking them if they would buy a home or live nextdoor to a dwelling that was being used as a transient public lodging establishment business, AKA vacation rental. Guess what over 95 percent said NO!
So Joe Mullins where are you? Will you protect your neighbor? Do not give us the line, I am for home rule.
Congrats. Most Florida residents (and businesses that depend on residents like doctors, dentists, hair salons, auto parks, etc.) support controlling investor-owned buildings in residential neighborhoods. These investors ruin neighborhoods, decimate hotels, lower the quality of life for residents, and shrink the volunteer base in the county. Don’t make neighborhoods strangerhoods. People move into a community for neighbors, not rotating groups of weekly strangers. You are well-supported in your stance.
We’ve been sorely disappointed in our so-called “representatives” Renner and Hutson.