Mark Phillips, a frequent presence at city and county meetings who aggressively rushed the dais during the Palm Coast City Council meeting Tuesday to confront Mayor Milissa Holland, was trespassed from City Hall the next day, records show. He has the right of appeal. He says he will sue the city.
A statement by City Manager Matt Morton, who was on the dais at the time of the incident, described Phillips in a statement attached to the trespass warning as approaching the dais “in a menacing manner. He was attempting without authority to confront the Mayor during the ongoing conduct of the business of the City Council meeting.”
Phillips, a member of a group that calls itself the “Flagler Liberty Coalition,” had spoken to the council during public comments earlier in the meeting and done so respectfully, opposing a planned expansion of the city’s tennis center. “It’s absolutely insane that you’re bringing this up and trying to push this through,” he said. But after the council’s 3-2 vote approving the proposal, as Holland had announced the next item on the agenda–the council was not yet at the midway point of the agenda–and Morton had begun reading the summary of the next item, Phillips briskly walked toward Holland from her left side of the dais and stood in front of her before a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy stepped between him and the mayor.
Phillips is no stranger to Holland or council members: he and his supporters are in the habit of aggressively taking cell phones videos close to their subjects with or without consent (such consent is not required in public venues), and city staff have recently had confrontations with similarly aggressive individuals that have prompted the addition of armed security and, this week or next, the installation of a metal detector at the entrance to the Community Wing, where public meetings are held. So there’d been a string of unnerving precedents that amplified the uncertainty of Phillips’s behavior Tuesday. Holland, who later said she and her colleagues were in fear, unaware of Phillips’s intentions.
“This in no way is acceptable,” Holland said on Free For All Fridays this morning on WNZF. “In 11 years of local governments we certainly have dealt with our share of controversial issues that are on agenda items. I’ve always respected the public’s input tremendously, continue to do so. But when there’s a line that’s crossed that not only puts a serious sense of fear within those serving the public but those residents that attend these meetings to provide equal input, it’s not okay, and it should never be tolerated by anybody, and it certainly shouldn’t be minimized by saying there’s an overreaction to this moment.”
Phillips’s frequent attendance at city and county meetings would have familiarized him with the way meetings unfold. Meetings never recess or adjourn without explicit agreement from council members. Even to those who are just coming into the room, it is immediately clear when the council is in session, its members sitting at the dais, discussing or debating an issue, as was the case at that moment, and when they’re not, even if there’s shuffling in the audience.
Phillips in an email to Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly and a message to County Commissioner Joe Mullins, an ally, claimed it was “a simple misunderstanding.” In the message to Mullins, he claimed he was in the hallway, “and saw a bunch of people start coming out the doors and looked in the room and saw people standing and talking on their way out, so I went to ask Holland a question about how she could just reject the common sense motion Ed Danko put forth.” Danko, a council member, had proposed tabling the tennis center matter. His motion died and he voted in the minority. “I had no idea the meeting was still in session when I approached the dais, and when I was told to back away, I did immediately.”
While some members of the audience had gotten up to leave and the noise in the room was clearly elevated, Morton had raised his voice so his summary of the item could be better heard, and none of the city staffers had moved any more than council members as Phillips approached. According to video footage of the meeting, he was within eight or nine feet when Holland immediately told him, “No, sir! no, sir!” her voice rising as she gaveled and a deputy immediately approached Phillips. Phillips had gotten to within less than two feet of Holland before backing away a couple of steps, but not moving away just yet. He and the deputy exchanged a few words, Council member Eddie Branquinho spoke about taking “firmer action,” another member of the audience approached Phillips and, the deputy behind him, walked him away from the dais.
A sheriff’s body cam video captures Phillips’s exchange with a deputy immediately after the incident.
“I understand your heat about this issue, OK, you can’t approach the mayor like that. There’s obviously safety concerns that she has. She’s an elected official. I know you’re aware of it,” the deputy tells Phillips. “You may not agree that she was elected fairly, or whatever the case may be.”
“Please state the law that says that I cannot go up to the mayor and say a question,” Phillips asks, crossing his arms and pursing his lips.
There is no such law, and under most circumstances other than during a meeting, Phillips would have had every right to approach a council member, a staffer or anyone else in the meeting room: it’s a public space, and public officials are routinely approached at the dais by members of the public, the press, other officials before and after meetings, or during recesses. The difference, of course, was hat the meeting was still in session. A few months ago, Flagler Beach passed an ordinance amending its meeting rules to specify that no one was allowed past a certain point in front of the dais during meetings without the commission chair’s permission. There were no exceptions.
“Mark also stated he ‘thought the meeting was over,’ which is completely untrue,” Eric Cooley, chairman of the Flagler Beach City Commission, said today. “Mark knows how to read an agenda. Mark also knows what public comment is.”
The deputy sought to explain meeting procedures to Phillips. “This is a business meeting, OK, there’s procedure that’s involved, OK, this is city property, the city has asked you not to approach the mayor in that manner, OK?” he said.
“I talk to Staly on a regular basis, I will contact him tomorrow to clarify this,” Phillips said of Sheriff Rick Staly.
“And you’re welcome to. That being said, the mayor has requested that you be trespassed for approaching her in that manner, the manner that you did.”
“In what manner?”
“You approached her in what some could describe as an aggressive manner,” the deputy says, before Phillips protests, disagreeing and turning to his supporters, saying he was being trespassed. He said he did not have an ID on him. In a separate video he described himself as “the press,” though it’s not clear where, other than a YouTube channel with disparate, spur-of-the-moment videos taken of public officials or others, he disseminates his work.
Cooley, who’d reviewed the meeting video and only weeks ago experienced an issue with two anti-maskers who refused to leave a city commission meeting–and were trespassed and arrested–said: “Body cam footage from the meeting puts any lie or argument Mark Phillips had to rest. You can see intent and demeanor of mark at the meeting. If he is being confrontational with an officer, what would he do with the Mayor?” No body camera footage was provided of the initial encounter between Philips and the deputy inside the meeting room. The footage of Phillips and the deputy in the parking lot shows sarcasm and indignation, but not confrontation.
When the deputy asks him his first name, Phillips pauses, smiles, then says “Mark,” before asking if Staly could be contacted immediately. He then goes on to provide the rest of his information. “I’m going to go to sue the city now,” Phillips says. Throughout, Phillips;s supporters stood by at a distance, at times laughing in response to his sarcasm, at least one of them taking video of the encounter with the deputy, as Phillips’s group is wont to do.
The deputy went on to prepare the paperwork, and request additional back-up. “I just wanted somebody else here because there’s a bunch of them and they’re all relatively heated,” the deputy tells his back-up.
Mullins has sought to distance himself from Phillips since Tuesday’s incident. “I know you[‘re] desperate for muck-raking news but I can’t help you here,” Mullins told th News-Journal’s Frank Fernandez, whom Mullins, who frequently resorts to bigoted allusions and put-downs, would later disparage as “Francisco Fernandez” on his Facebook page before saying it “time to defund” the News-Journal. He told Fernandez that he’d given money to Trump and Republican groups, and that Phillips “was with one of those groups… But again I don;’t know him personally.”
In fact, Mullins had sponsored the bus trip Phillips had organized and publicized with Mullins on YouTube days before the trip as they stood in front of the Flagler County courthouse for a video. “We just want to thank Commissioner Mullins for sponsoring us and helping us out a little bit,” Phillips says. “Amazing time, it’s history, like Joe says, America is the last hope here for the world.”
“That is why there’s so many people going up there rallying,” Mullins said. “There are a lot of Democrats I’ve run into this said, Look, we don’t want to win this thing this way if this is the way it happened, we’d rather see Trump stay in, And I have appreciated their honesty with that.” He added, “I’m just excited to represent Flagler to be able to go with these guys and show that our community we voted we voted for Trump.” (In fact, Mullins flew to the rally and flew back. Of Trump, he said, “He is our president, and we’re gonna support him to the end.”
Mullins and Phillips again appeared together at a “security briefing” the sheriff’s office provided the demonstrators at the county fairgrounds before their trip to Washington. Before and since, Phillips has been at the forefront of attempts to push back against local covid-safety regulations such as masks. Last spring he either organized or was part of a demonstration in Flagler Beach protesting the closing of businesses, though such closings had been ordered by the governor, not by local governments.
And Phillips was among a group of demonstrators at a County Commission meeting where the group defied orders to put on masks. The defiance delayed the start of the meeting and required the intervention of Sheriff Rick Staly, who had calmed the group down and appeared to have moved them toward a resolution before Mullins sought to intervene from the dais. Dave Sullivan, the commission chairman, would not allow him to, though Mullins’s intervention had renewed the defiance in the audience.
Phillips did not return a call before this article published, so it’s not clear whether he intends to appeal his trespass warning. Defying the warning would result in a misdemeanor charge. On the sheriff’s warning, Phillips’s address was listed first as an address on Bristol Lane, but that was struck out and replaced by an address on Las Casitas Boulevard, in the relatively new development south of Lakeview at the north end of the county, where Phillips bought a house last September. The same document shows Holland’s name struck out as the requester of the trespass, replaced by that of Morton. “I left the dais, located Commander Reynolds and requested Mr. Phillips to be trespassed from City property,” Morton’s statement reads.
Charged with trespassing. If he shows up again, he should go to jail.
Concerned Citizen says
While I don’t condone his behavior.
This shows that our government is deaf to it’s constituents. And will use the law to their benifit not ours.
We want change in this county. And need it badly. We have had the same people in office for years. And they are trying to run this county into the ground. They rule by intimidation and corruption. And the same voters who keep voting them in are responsible for allowing this to happen.
We need qualified candidates who want change to step up. And modernize our city/county.
This term corruption that keeps being tossed around. It’s the “boy who cried wolf” and the rally cry for the under-informed, misinformed and malicious. Don’t like something – corruption. A bug hit your winshield today—no other explanation, it’s Apparantly corruption.
Disagreement is not corruption. What else are we but a nation of laws- so using the law as intended is nefarious now?
I don’t even have to talk to you to know your definition of “qualified” is that they embrace your ideology 100%, and the minute they do not you will call them corrupt.
Theres enough shady Real estate deals done to warrant the use of Corruption. Dont kid yourself. PS Its not the only form IMO
Concerned Citizen says
Thank you for your underqualified judgement of me. Since you do not know who I am personally you made a lot of assumptions. And we all know what the first part of assume means.
I can only guess by your eager tail wagging you are an ardent supporter of our current administration. And don’t pay attention to what has been going on. So here is just a few snippets.
1.) Joe Mullins is under a Federal. Not local mind you law suit for attempted fraud
2.) Joe Mullins was considered for censure by fellow BOCC. But BOCC were scared.
3.) Joe Mullins made criminal remarks on air calling for the beheading of people.
4.) The current Sheriff protects Mullins and does not seek to hold him responsible for threats.
5.) Numerous real estate deals involving compromised buildings with no due diligence
6.) Mayor Holland uses Coastal Cloud email and the busniess for City Busniess but no big deal
7.) Victor Barbosa runs around bullying and threatning staff. When he doesn’t get his way. (Read unethical conduct)
I could go on but you’ll argue all of these in defense. Even though they are well documented.
Now I don’t know about you but in the private work force if I created a hostile work environment, misused company assets or had a lot of complaints in short order I would not have a job.
But somewhere along the line we have said hey it’s Ok they are our elected officials. And can act anyway they want. No more accountability.
COMMON SENSE says
If a precedent like this starts where anyone can run up to the dais and approach officials during a meeting in progress whether the person knew or not the meeting was still in progress becomes a dangerous situation for all. This person is known for his past aggressive behavior and he needs to be put in check despite political differences. Even Mullins knows that he was wrong which is why he is taking a pass on this one, and for all of you big mouths out there defending him you just don’t like the Mayor which has nothing to do with the situation. This Mayor has been caught in the middle of heated arguments with officials and had to be escorted to her car a few times. Everyone can make their voices heard during election time and during public comment at these meetings. And as for the people who did not want to wear their mask before the vaccine that was your choice but don’t disrespect the people who wanted to wear theirs by showing up in public meetings where there was a mask mandate.
Dennis C Rathsam says
The city council in Palm Coast, has lost the art of comunication, they are afraid of their own shadow. At no time was anyone in danger. Your all grown ups now, 1 a retired cop…plus the sheriff ‘s deputy was there. Maybe if the city council, did their job,and stop doing things the people of Palm Coast dont want, and listen to all the people. Palm Coast was nicer, went we had less folks, less crime, and less petty crap government.
Percy's mother says
“Stop doing things ‘the people of Palm Coast’ don’t want”
Sir (Dennis Rathsam). please DO NOT speak for everyone in Palm Coast (“the people of Palm Coast”).
You speak ONLY FOR SOME in Palm Coast.
There are many in Palm Coast who are sick and tired of the rhetoric and the antics.
Why don’t you and your group “LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE”. This group is nothing but a fringe element, not the majority and certainly not ALL.
COMMON SENSE says
To Percy’s mother says: AMEN and this was a statement made by “a retired cop” , I respect the men in blue but thank God he’s retired!
COMMON SENSE says
Dennis C Rathsam: So what you are saying is that someone who feels unsafe or threatened because of someone else’s aggressive behavior towards them should not feel that way? Not buying it! That’s the way you perceive it! Others perceive it differently and yes people are afraid. I as a resident here wouldn’t want to be in meetings where there are rowdy disruptions by any individuals whether it be the officials or private citizens, and it’s also called a matter of respect which is a lost virtue. You know as a cop this would never be tolerated in a court of law and the perpetrator would be dragged out by their collar, so why should this behavior be tolerated at city/county meetings? So this is not your Mayberry USA anymore and yes there are going to be even more folks moving in therefore good examples need to be set and rules need to be followed, especially in these crazy times.
Trump made these people think they are above the law, above prosecution, and above facing consequences. They’re not. The legal world is coming for Trump, for the insurrectionists, eventually the enablers, and soon people will learn that bad decisions can and should lead to appropriate punishments. Somewhere along the way a subset of people forgot that and believed they floated above the law. Nope.
Just a thought says
This is the first time I’ve seen the video made prior to the bus trip to Washington. The video is the definition of irony.
A whole lot of it and then some. Foreshadowing of Events to come by No Alter Anarchist Group but their own Trump backers. I have a problem with FCSO at this going away party but will leave it as that for now
Yes, Steve that’s what stood out to me in this story! Was the FCSO there to give these dangerous insurrectionists who want to damage our democracy their BLESSING? A disgrace and a slap in the face of taxpayers!
Just wondering says
I’m sorry but he’s not even a resident of the City of Palm Coast. Neither one of his addresses are City of Palm Coast addresses. So why is he even concerned it’s not his tax dollars!
Mike Cocchiola says
This is part of the Mullins Mob’s efforts to physically and verbally confront city and county officials at every opportunity. They and the Trump Club must figure that they can gain and hold complete political power through fear and intimidation. It won’t work.
James M. Mejuto says
This is a creature aligned with Joe Mullins and Danko who are ready to create a second Jan.6th.
These are dangerous trump loving lowlifes who will stop at nothing to create havoc and assault
on our system of governance and justice. They need to be separated from society . . . maybe,
on an island in the South Pacific with all the other NRA nutcases !
Bill C says
This guy is power crazy.
“That is why there’s so many people going up there rallying,” Mullins said. “There are a lot of Democrats I’ve run into this said, Look, we don’t want to win this thing this way if this is the way it happened, we’d rather see Trump stay in, And I have appreciated their honesty with that.”
“lot of Democrats ….”
Are there now? Name three …
Edith Campins says
I am willing to bet I know far more Democrats than mullins and not a single one has or would say anything of the sort. I also know quite a few Republicans who wouldn’t say that either. The fact is there was no fraud.
What ? A “Throw the Bum Out” right here in Palm Coast !
Jane Gentile-Youd says
So Mr Phillips is going to sue… Hmm is Mullibs going to pay Chiumento to represent Phillips? I can see it now.. Palm Coadt sued for violating the Joe me me me Mullins ‘I own Flagler County’ newest Ordinance? Just wondering…
john stove says
Mullins, Phillips, Trump, DeSantis…..all cut from the same cloth: Loud Mouths, Bullying Tactics, Bulls**t artists……and liars.
If these folks really have constructive criticism or disagreement on an issue are they not capable of delivering it in a manner that doesn’t involve yelling, lying, name calling and puffing their chest out? Perhaps a more eloquent discussion with the other side might provide some insight in your disagreement? Is that too hard for them to do?….apparently so.
Quite clearly their disagreements are so weak and based in “alternative facts” that they think yelling and acting like jerks makes them more believable when in fact it just makes them sad imbeciles.
Charles F. Ericksen, Jr says
This man is quite the character.. First, he appeared at the first County Commission that required masks.. He refused, He distrupted , the meeting , flipped us ( Commissioners) off, and in a whinny voice said ” tell me how to wear a mask..: ..He and others of his kind caused 6 additional deputies and Sheriff, to get order , but with lots of threats.. At this time he was one of many “paid” employees of Mr. Mullins
He’s a super punk,
Interestingly, at the next Commission meeting he appeared in suit and tie, mouthing , congrats to MR. MULLINS , all combed and quiet.
Kinda scary and the next attempt should be rewarded by a night in jail..
You cannot change the stripes , on this tiger..
Getting like the county, piddling away millions of taxpayers money. Make NO sense to poor millions into a white elephant that already loosed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just like the new city hall, do as you want and not what’s best for Palm Coast financially.
The Voice Of Reason says
There are many republicans that need to be indicted ASAP! Starting with trump. He deserves to rot in jail. Hiding behind lawyers and the courts is cowardly. He and they need the rug pulled out from under them. Here we have spineless mullins, phillips and their ilk creating a stench. The Flagler County Commission is a gutless joke. The Palm Coast City Commission is becoming infected with cancer. danko, barbosa and their traitorous supporters are disgusting. rush limbaugh, (in his 1 star hotel cell in hell, the bullshit factory fox news headed by satan’s henchmen rupert murdoch and roger ailes. They are the beginning of our country circling the porcelain bowl. Democrats, kill the filibuster, keep winning elections and sweep the foul remains of the republican party into the dumpster fire of hell. Silence the ignorant, gullible morons who are proud of their stupidity at the ballot box. Don’t let republican voter suppression silence you! Vote at all costs, legally.
I don’t know if he is a patriot or a mad dog. Either way that behavior is unwarranted at any meeting. Seems like he won’t respect anything but a good old ass whooping and he knows that in today’s climate, nobody is gonna give it to him. They might get sued.
He’s going to sue? Who is going to act as his counsel–Rudy Guiliani…Sidney Powell?
I am afraid he may be disappointed. They’ve got some legal issues of their own to deal with.