Expect an agitated Palm Coast City Council meeting Tuesday morning.
The call went out late Friday afternoon from Flagler’s Ronald Reagan Republicans, the extreme right-wing group, to its members and local tea party members to come out and “support” council member Steven Nobile’s call for a “comprehensive” review of the city charter.
Last week, it did not appear as if Nobile would need help recruiting supporters: as he portrayed it to the council, he had people speaking to him of their interest in changing the charter. He would bring them. He did not name them, or their specific concerns, but nor did he suggest that there would be an orchestrated effort to, as it now appears, manufacture a show of force from the county’s ranks of those who generally know how to oppose government without necessarily knowing what they’re opposing.
Reagan group President Michael McElroy, in his emailed letter to potential supporters, had to explain and frame the issue explicitly: “The charter sets out the rules for how city government operates and legislates,” he wrote, noting that while “communities periodically review their charter to see if changes are needed,” Palm Coast has not done so comprehensively since its creation. All of that was accurate, but it begged the same questions council members asked Nobile last week: if no one has raised issues with the charter until now, where’s the problem?
Until last week and with perhaps one or two exceptions, no one in Palm Coast had shown concern about the city’s charter in any way. No one had appeared before the council to point out issues with it, ask for revisions, or ask for so much as explanations about it. No one had written or spoken to individual council members about it. No one had shown any interest in it beyond the council, whether through the press or social media.
Manufacturing a show of force from the county’s ranks of those who generally know how to oppose government without necessarily knowing what they’re opposing.
That would suggest, among other likely possibilities, that most Palm Coast residents don’t know about the charter, don’t have a problem with it or don’t care one way or the other: in Palm Coast as in most towns and counties, residents petition their representatives, in person or in writing, when they have an issue, when they’re upset about something specific, when they want something changed, reversed, enacted. Palm Coast residents aren’t shy about doing so before their council. Over the city’s 16 years many issues have galvanized vocal opposition to council actions.
But not on anything having to do with the charter. No even remotely, or when given the chance, at least without ideological puppeteering at play. The last time the council enacted a change–to voting cycles, by referendum–the most voters did was approve the proposal overwhelmingly at the polls. But there were virtually no public concerns about the change, nor did it inspire anyone to want more even though, ironically, the change lengthened by an extra year the normally four-year terms of two Ronald Reagan banes: Mayor Jon Netts and Jason DeLorenzo (neither of whom elicits from the group the apoplexy that Reagan group apostate Bill McGuire does).
That’s why council members over the last few weeks have been surprised, and last week were taken aback, by Nobile’s mounting insistence that the city have a charter review commission. Queried repeatedly by his fellow-council members as to why, where the proposal was coming from, to change what specifically, Nobile couldn’t say. He only got angrier, and at times louder, as he interpreted council members’ questions as a way to shut him down or prevent “the people,” as he would repeatedly say, from controlling their own charter-review destiny.
Nobile was right about this much: the council, leery about an open-ended, costly charter review process, spoke of the sort of strictures and parameters within which it would expect to have such a charter review committee operate, if it were to appoint one at all. But that only upset Nobile further, as he saw the council’s approach as a ruse to defeat any meaningful changes to the charter.
Still, when council members’ questions became more specific about what charter changes Nobile had in mind, especially from McGuire, Nobile wouldn’t say. He provided some clarity to a reporter subsequently, but those changes appeared to have more to do with procedural matters that the council could vote on than charter review matters. The one issue other council members had bristled over, assuming that that was the bur in Nobile’s boot, turned out not to be an issue at all: Nobile said he’s not interested in changing the form of manager-mayor government Palm Coast has operated under for a decade and a half.
Privately, some council members see Nobile’s maneuver as a larger strategy by the Reagan group to stack the council at the next election by, for example, changing the city charter requirement that elections be non-partisan. With partisan elections, the group could again do what it did in elections in 2012 when it fielded bogus write-in candidates with the sole purpose of closing primaries, thus amplifying the more radical, Reagan-group vote in Republican primaries.
Yet after the meeting, Nobile’s issue with the council last week did not fill council members’ in-boxes with complaints or pleas from constituents for a charter review. The city clerk said that a cursory review of council members’ email produced only two emails–to Nobile, at least through the city’s email addresses. The lack of response, echoing Palm Coast residents’ general indifference to the charter (or satisfaction with it), may have prompted Friday’s more aggressive call for support at Tuesday morning’s council meeting.
The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Palm Coast Community Center. The charter matter is not on the agenda. But it will presumably be part of the public comment period near the top of the agenda.
The issue here seems to be the Council is afraid to lose the city manager in favor of an elected Mayor who would run the city for far less and accountable for his actions.
And the problem with doing a study on this is what???? What is all the fuss about?
Another reason why I wouldn’t ever live in Palm Coast.
So now we are deciding which citizens are allowed to state their concerns. I don’t
think that is the way our representative democracy is supposed to work. Dictatorships get started that way.
FOR THE PEOPLE says
I am not a Ronald Reagan member, but commend them for standing up for the people. I know Michael McElroy and find him to be a very upstanding person, and am pleased to learn of people with character to stand up for what is right, and for us the people. It is about time the city council and Landon stop bullying the people and work for the people. it is not unreasonable to suggest that the city charter be reviewed. To not review the charter demonstrates ignorance and neglect. There is no reason for Netts, Delorenzo and McGuire to oppose reviewing the charter unless there is something they are worried about that may be changed after its review. To bring print a story about the RRR just becuase they beleive and support with their councilmen is trying to do does not make this a RRR issue. I am happy for once to see citizens stand up for those that work for us. McGuire is a wind bag and mouth piece for Landon. Hang in there Nobile. Is Shipley sleeping through all of this or was a gag order placed on her?
Will (#1) says
Just FYI, it’s no secret that Heidi Shipley’s mother is quite ill, and that Ms. Shipley is in New England caring for her. She’s accessible through her city email.
Manager-Mayor style government, how do you all feel about this?
the fun begins for the RRR attempts to control another entity in Palm Coast. Their past actions indicate their mission of CHANGE—but to what is the question !!!
Brad W says
Here’s what’s funny as I read through the comments here after reading the article . . . everyone supposedly for this review have not reached out to any council member nor have they shown up at council meetings asking for a review or raising an issue themselves. There’s no issue.
People need to wake up, and should be very very concerned. Not with the Council but with this RR group. What they really want to change is having Council elections being partisan as FlaglerLive points out. This way they can do exactly what they did in 2012 with Charlie Erickson and use the write-in option to “close” the election to anyone not a Republican at the primary when there is no other party running (which is often the case anymore). The election then becomes decided at the primary for who sits on our Council and it’s only decided by Republicans. That is something that the community was truly outraged over in 2012, and this group wants to take away the protection our Council placed in the Charter to protect us as voters. So be careful what you are getting behind “geniuses”.
Brad W., how is this Republican government working out for you? Not so well for many others. Sorry, couldn’t resist saying that. I think we’re talking about choices here and holding politicians accountable for the decisions which they make, aren’t we?
The voters have the choice in all this, or they would if they bothered to show up and vote.
Have never seen so many panties in a wad!
Derrick R. says
The city charter is linked in the very first paragraph of the article. ~FL
Is The Cities Charter available to view on line ? If so then there seems to no valid reason to expend more money for a review for at this time a unknown purpose. The Taxpaying Property owners can review it pick out matters that concern them , contact their representative or appear in person at a city meeting. Sounding more like Noble is another drama queen akin to Ms. Weeks. I also believe there may always be room for reform to keep pace with society, but without specification, often wastes time & money.
a tiny manatee says
Ronald Reagan: FBI informant and McCarthy supporter, the president that purged social security of the disabled, the president that championed FYGM trickle-down economics, the president that enabled the DEA to become what it is today via the war on drugs, the president that was ok with covertly selling weapons to Iran and then redirected the funds to the Contras in Nicaragua, the president that muzzled his Surgeon General when it came to HIV/AIDS thereby allowing it to progress as an epidemic and get into the blood supply. The republican jesus.
That’s who the RRR’s are named after.
Will (#1) says
He should have stayed with the 20 Mule Team Borax ads… Well said Tiny Manatee.
Carol Mikola says
As an FYI, the local Ronald Reagan “Republicans” are nothing like Ronald Reagan in their actions or in their values. This can be a good or bad thing depending on your view of President Reagan but, nevertheless, that is the truth.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. He was not the greatest president that lived. He was a Hollywood Actor for gosh sakes.
In response to Brad’s post about closing a race, if a candidate wants to run, why not run as an NPA, then that person will be guaranteed to run in the general election and the race will be fairer and an RR member such as Erickson was/is in 2012 and any future RR candidates won’t have it so easy to win.
This is what bullies look like. That tells me all I need to know.
Nalla C says
This is starting to look like a real con. Keep an eye on these people and those who support them, so they don’t in fact “stack the council”. If they attempt to do that, it must be met with an equal show of support for “other ways to do things”.
You know, like the appropriate ways to do things. Sounds like this guy wanted to bluff, bluster and bully his way around, trying to intimidate the currently-seated council members. That has to be stood up to, his behavior as noted here does not seem to be the least bit appropriate.
Flagler Live, you have a good news story replacement for Kimberly Weeks here. I do not think you could make up better script. These are real people. Wow! Paranoidia, backstabbing, conniving, organized deception, manipulation, psychopolictics. I will be reading to see if real Republicans can defeat the radical RRR.
Brad W says
That would be the case in the event an Npa or democrat ran. Unfortunately that has been less and less the case.
In any event why remove a voter protection to avoid that situation and close an election loophole?
The charter review was discussed at council meeting this morning. While I was not there to support the review and I’m a registered democrat so I didn’t get the teabagger memo, it was interesting none the less. I like the review idea. I think it’s an issue that transcends party lines. If nothing else, it may make some city employees and elected officials more accountable in the process. It’s all about accountability and communication. Well, this issue is stimulating communication and accountability. Besides, as the 10th worst city in Florida, what have we got to lose? The status quo is not exactly a success.
Sherry E says
Two great comments Brad W! I don’t live in Palm Coast, but follow their political stories here on FL.
Our citizens are divided enough without creating more and more politically partisan positions and issues.
I agree Tiny Manatee, how soon we forget the Voodoo Reaganomics that greatly contributed to the demise of our middle class! It’s amazing how supposedly intelligent people still worship Reagan.
The Tea Party RR Club in Palm Coast is very dangerous! Apparently Mr. Nobile is a champion of their cause. Beware Palm Coast citizens!
Edith Campins says
Why spend time and money to review the charter? What are the specific issues “the citizens” want to change?What is the issue? All I’ve heard is a lot of vague, hot air from the wingnuts and no specifics. We have more important things to focus on .
Palm Coast, in fact all of Flagler County, needs to be very wary of the RRRA’s motives. Clearly, this radical group seeks to “politicize” city and county management. There’s little question in my mind that a review of the PC charter will lead to a push by the RRRA to eliminate the city manager’s position, transferring much of that authority to the mayor. Then they’ll run their candidate for mayor. They are insidious and relentless, and they sow discontent and divisiveness. Their aim is to take over Palm Coast, and if they do, there goes our bipartisan and cooperative city government.