Since November the United States has been battling the Big Lie–the pandemic-like fabrication of a stolen election that’s turned a shocking majority of Republicans into tinfoil-hatted charlatans forswearing IQ for QAnon.
Little Old Flagler County has been dealing with three Big Lies, not just the one, though the three share the same intellectual QNA. Flagler’s own Big Lie was that Palm Coast was ready for suicide by embracing the mayorship of the hyper-toxic Alan Lowe, an off-and-on citizen who’d never voted until his sixth decade and who’s spent a career as a Music Man of his own inventions. The third lie, kissing-cousin of the second, was that former mayor Milisa Holland was a Lady Macbeth of corruption, manipulation and criminality, and that the Ethics Commission complaint looming over her like the sword of Damocles would cut her to pieces and off her to prison.
Well, it turns out that both Big Lies unraveled for what they were all along this week, with David Alfin winning the special election for mayor and the Ethics Commission tossing out six of seven claims against Holland. It held on to one we all knew about and condemned long ago for its stupidity but also its pettiness: Holland’s misuse of her city account in two or three emails, out of seven trillion, that solicited work for her private employer. The commission is right to fine Holland, but the way a cop would be in the right to fine a jaywalker. No more.
And no more of these lies and slanders about the best mayor Palm Coast has had in its 20 years. Her predecessors made the swales run on time but the city never brimmed so much as cruised on their watch, largely through growth out of their control (before the bust, anyway), while Jon Netts’s latter years were marred by a loyalty to a city manager that at times edged past his loyalty to the city. Holland was the reverse. People could get bruised on her path. Her sights were set on the city more collectively than on its particulars (ask Matt Morton). No doubt she could be overbearing, meddlesome and thin-skinned. But that describes every high-achieving politico from here to Helen of Troy. Holland’s fate was to be a woman in a county still hung up on cavemen mentalities, compounding the cabal’s perverted desires to demolish her.
It almost worked, thanks to those three bales of lies: Alan Lowe, his BFF Ed Danko, and their punching bag Victor Barbosa, master of the own goal. That they imagined that Palm Coast was craving their three-ring circus gives you an idea of how disconnected they are from the city they claim to represent. That they chose Lowe as their second coming tells you to what extent their political instincts are as amateurish as their governance.
But we knew that from watching their not-ready-for-prime-time skits every two weeks on the city council. These people aren’t interested in doing their homework as councilmen. You can tell they don’t read their meeting materials. It’s all ideology to them, the Fox-OAN-talking points overlaid on Palm Coast, though one has nothing to do with the other. Danko wasn’t even interested in attending a budget workshop Tuesday, harassing what few voters cast ballots at the library instead.
Ideology isn’t governing. It’s not even politics. It’s fanaticism. It’s what blinded these individuals to their immorality as they spread lies about Holland and her daughter, as Danko went door-to-door playing McCarthy-in-Wheeling while the other two made sure not to impede the slanders.
As the muezzin of the most defaming lie–that Holland resigned to avoid criminal charges resulting from the Ethics Commission investigation–it’s now Danko’s responsibility to reveal from the same public dais who gave him that “confidential senior law enforcement” briefing. If he doesn’t, he’s covering up for a law enforcement officer who lies. And if, as is more likely, there is no such law enforcement officer and there was no such briefing (as the governor’s office itself has already made clear) then Danko, already under investigation for malfeasance, is the liar. There are no two ways about it.
He has no credibility and apparently no morals. But he remains the ringmaster of this shitshow, some of whose partisans are signaling vague if meaningless disputes of the results, if not more disturbing intimations of insurrection at the council’s chambers. So Palm Coast survived the election, but it must still contain the hurls of these incendiaries. On the other, more reassuring hand, the Q-tipped partisans and their big lies bring to mind the most famous lines in Macbeth, adapted here for the occasion:
[Danko/Lowe/Barbosa] is but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. [His] is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Palm Coast isn’t out of the woods. Lowe may have been rejected by 73 percent of the electorate, but Alfin’s 36 percent win, with less than 10 percent of the actual electorate, is hardly a rousing victory for an uninspiring campaign that won more by default than acclamation. Alfin’s work is cut-out for him. No one expects him, a rookie in elected office, to be Holland. And anyway the closest thing to that on today’s council is Nick Klufas, whose geekiness masks the sharpest mind on local boards (as long as he doesn’t start making Faustian deals as he sets his sights on the county commission). Klufas needs to be the Alfin whisperer. Alfin should understand considering that he starts every morning doing chores in his horses’ stable.
Alfin himself has always been more interesting and genuine in person than as a campaigner. His challenge is to bring his humanity–and please, the courage of convictions–to the task and leave the campaign’s robot behind. He saved the city Tuesday. But to quote that other line from Macbeth, there’s still tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.
Really nothing much has changed in the balances of power ? Those that were aligned, still are in whatever capacities they are. Alfin is seen as an acceptable replacement in a Holland-like alignment. So that leaves the City Manager resignation to fill beyond what Morton was replaced as an interim, which seems to be working out fine in the moment. Would appear that it’s the same deck of cards that Flagler politics has always had, only that Holland & Morton cards were dealt & played, so those cards return to a pile of ineligible cards for the rest of this poker hand. Is the candidate pool going to look any different at the next election ? How effective will this be is what the citizens & voters are anxious about.
Joseph Shabotz says
Let’s make sure we, and everyone else are protected from this stupidity again and build a file for these three clowns to share with the next city they try to infect.
Let’s keep this information fresh on our minds for the next generation.
We will c what happen with the new Mayor. I hope the city will turn in the right direction. Time will tell. It would be nice if the tax payers money is used the way it should be. Doubt that will happen. Very seldom tax dollars are used the right way. Time will tell. I am a Democrat. We need more Dems in the city Politics and we need a diverse of people in the city politics. White Repubs are not doing the people of the city right. Time to register and vote my fellow Democrats. Trump was voted ouuttheseRepubs can meet the same fate.
Pump the brakes, Scooter. Florida voted Trump in last election…the rest of the country voted him out. So “meeting the same fate” doesn’t quite work when the electorate hasn’t changed.
Also, Palm Coast is NOT a trashy town. So, really, things have gone fairly well under past leadership. Now, we can’t get a lot of things right, but more right than wrong has happened here.
Pissed in PC says
Stanko and Mullins will be shipped out to Georgia in 2022. The people have had enough of the continuing circus. I want to see these Lowe, Stanko and Mullins supporters charge the new mayor and get in his face like they did Holland which was nothing but trying to intimidate a female in power. If Alfin has a shred of decency he will have these non city living mouth breathers trespassed and charges brought against them.
David Schaefer says
The old saying stupid is stupid does now Ed Stanko and Barbosa have got to go please…..
Pierre Tristam says
Three hours after this published I learned that Victor Barbosa announced being in the hospital, fighting Covid. This disease—any disease—is nobody’s due under any circumstance. Best wishes for a full recovery.
The virus has been quite ironic in this way. Many people mocking it and the protections against it are catching it and dying. Seems biblical almost that the false believers are being punished by our lord and savior.
Hopefully he survives this battle to come back on the right side of God
Let the circus continue. Just please remove all the political signs from all over the place.
Charlie Ericksen Jr says
Let’s see how, The City Council meeting of 8/3 , opens and develops before we cry ” foul” ..It will not be good in my opinion, but I look more towards solutions, while others yell FOUL.
The quick election, and poor list of candidates did nothing to help.. The elected position, the need for a new City Manager, name calling between political parties did not help.
There are many stories about the City and it’s past.. Just who in the City shadows is/are controlling and making making decisions , ought to come out some day.. Big businesses , making major leadership decisions, yet never making the news are scary..
Let’s see what happens.. I will be sitting close to a deputy
Mike Cocchiola says
I just hope that Mayor Alfin lives up to his promises. I have little faith in most Republicans, but I’ll give Alfin a pass for the time being. We’ll see if he is strong enough to withstand the bullying and fractious behavior of Danko and Barbosa.
Our city and county remain in grave danger. We’ll have to await the next moves of Danko, Barbossa, McDonald, Mullins, and the Trump and Flagler GOP clubs. Will their implacable and unrelenting penchant for destruction and chaos consume us? Will our abysmally low voter turnout eventually give them the power?
I find it interesting that the photo posted with this article showing the sign that says No Campaigning or distribution of literature beyond this point and there’s Danko and the campaign lady with a brochure for Lowe, (from the ” Law and Order party ” right behind the sign. Pretty much sums it up. I’m sure that Danko will say it was the only place to pitch his tent that had shade in the entire parking lot area of the library.
The picture was take looking west. The sign applies to the area behind the camera angle. Danko was positioned legally, just outside the no-soliciting boundary.
Very nice article regarding the way Mayor Holland ran the council. Wether you were a fan or not she did work hard for the city. She had to be on 24/7 because everyone knew her in this community.
Mr Alfins win does make me feel better about the election in general. Being loud and having the most signs didn’t win. I think people are just done with the crazy politics. We are on stage for everyone to see including businesses and new residents.
Our main goal now should focus on an experienced city manager as knowledgeable as Jim Landon and a thorough investigation should be done on the candidates last job.
With that said : Mr Barbosa is in my prayers that he makes a quick recovery.
Let’s hope no one else attending the event he was at gets ill.