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Palm Coast Wednesday, Jun. 15, 2022 1 week ago

6 letters: on candidates, Republican registration, teachers and the lack of Flagler Beach fireworks

Here's what your neighbors are talking about this week. Do you agree or disagree?
by: Guest Writer

Candidates, elected officials, and residents are invited to submit letters to [email protected].

Don’t forget why Pontieri is no longer with the FCSO

Dear Editor:

Theresa Carli Pontieri, a local attorney, has entered the race this year for District 2 on the Palm Coast City Council and becomes an additional problematic candidate for that office. She has joined a disheartening list of controversial candidates with questionable pasts looking to govern our city and county.

Pontieri, who was hired by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office last year as their general counsel, was discovered to be the host of a social media blog called “More Than White Noise.” And the emphasis of that blog name seemed to be on the word “white,” because in the view of Sheriff Rick Staly, after noting the blog’s content, described her comments as racially insensitive, offensive and inflammatory and to such an extent that her presence at the Sheriff's Office would create a strained relationship in our community. As a result, Staly asked for Pontieri’s resignation shortly after she was hired.

Given that our well-regarded sheriff, usually a pretty measured guy, used those striking adjectives and was so worried about what he saw in Pontieri in the form of racial bias, our diverse Flagler community should have serious concerns as well.

Jill Stein

Palm Coast  

Editor’s Note: See Sheriff Rick Staly’s opinion piece on Pontieri’s resignation here:


Why it makes sense to register Republican

Dear Editor:

In 22 states, at least one political party conducts open primaries, including our neighbors, Georgia and Alabama. It's past time to open Florida's primaries so independents and other minority party voters can vote in primary elections for candidates of their choice.

I also want to state, at this time, I have no intention to return to the Democratic Party, and hopefully will have an opportunity to vote for Mike Pence in the 2024 Republican primary. As a previous moderate Democrat, I have voted for many Republicans, including in presidential and gubernatorial elections; I also have donated to a Republican running for a congressional house seat.

As for ethics, I could provide a litany of unethical activities recently propagated by our governor and some of our legislators. The top two being, gerrymandering to prevent minority candidates from holding office and chastising school children for wearing protective masks.

I simply want to vote for candidates who represent my moderate views instead of radicals on the far right or far left. To me, at this time in history, it seems more important to be a moderate Republican voting in the GOP primary.

David Cox

Palm Coast 


A legal way to counteract ‘zombie-like’ Republicans

Dear Editor:

The feigned surprised response of the letter writers to Mr. Brady’s recommendation of switching party affiliation in order to vote in the primary for a candidate that has at least an outside chance of defeating the incumbent, Mr. Mullins, reminds me of the scene in the movie “Casablanca” where Captain Renault is “shocked” to learn that gambling is going on at Rick’s.

One only has had to not be living in a cave somewhere to see all the lies, crooked deals, and incompetency of elected officials in our community, state and country while Mullin’s people have been in power. Add to that Mr. Brady knows Republican voters in all those places just mentioned march to the polls, zombie-like, to cast their ballots for whoever has a capital R by their name. In addition, the individual Brady is against led the Flagler County contingent to the capital for the Jan. 6, riots, and, I am sorry, but I just do not take his word that he was a little lamb there. Perhaps a wolf in lamb’s clothing. If people want something different, then legally vote for something different, and that is exactly what Mr. Brady is doing.

Jeffery C. Seib

Palm Coast


Who’s to blame for lack of July 4 fireworks?

Dear Editor:

On June 10, the Palm Coast Observer posted a story explaining the details regarding the Flagler Beach City Commission’s decision to cancel the beloved fireworks show again this year.

It is pretty common knowledge that Independence Day is an annual event celebrated on every Fourth of July. With that in mind, one would think that those responsible for the executive management of this city would have that in their calendars, and, perhaps beginning on July 5, 2021, the bid process for 2022 would commence.

According to the report in this newspaper, City Manager William Whitson told the commissioners last April that the city did not have a vendor for the fireworks show. So, my first question is, why did the city manager wait so long to put the fireworks show out to bid? As a result, the preferred vendor was already booked for July 4, 2022. That must have come as quite a surprise to Mr. Whitson.

My next question is, of all the various fireworks companies with excellent reputations, why did he give the bid to a company without any due diligence? The first red flag should have been the low bid of $1,000 below the commission-approved request for proposal and the vendor’s claim that the fireworks had to be shipped from Illinois.

The bid awarded to Mr. Ryan Allen’s pyrotechnics company sent up more red flags than a fireworks show at the Super Bowl. Previous articles in The Observer told us all that this was coming. The multiple excuses provided by Ryan Allen should have been a warning to Whitson and the Flagler Beach City Commission. The most egregious example was the fact that Mr. Allen could not provide the $5 million insurance as stipulated in the city RFP. That fact alone should have disqualified the bid.

I have to commend Mayor Suzie Johnston’s diligence in asking if there were any changes to the contract before she signed it. That is a very responsible question when you are a government official. When she learned that the contract had been altered and that Mr. Whitson did not inform the commission of the alterations, he should have been fired on the spot.

I must ask Mayor Johnston: This total lack of credibility on Mr. Whiton’s part was caught this time, but how many other documents or contracts have you signed that he affirmed were true and accurate? 

But, Madam Mayor, you, all the other city commissioners and the city attorney, in some part, are all culpable in this mess. You all knew or should have known that the citizens and business owners of Flagler Beach were looking forward to our first fireworks show since the pandemic. You allowed a city manager to fail to act responsibly for the benefit of those you were elected to represent. I call upon you to dismiss the city manager for cause.

In conclusion, I wish to personalize the damage you have done. I invited my young granddaughter to come to Flagler Beach from Virginia Beach to watch the fireworks with us. I wanted her to see how small-town America can come together to celebrate the birth of the greatest nation in the world, especially in this time of record inflation, record gas prices and extreme political divide. We were so excited when she accepted our invitation.

Now I have to tell her that, due to gross government incompetence, there will be no fireworks show.

Jim Billberry
Flagler Beach


Why we should not re-elect Joe Mullins

Dear Editor:

The Flagler County landscape is once again peppered with campaign signs for the upcoming elections this year and also once again the signs for District 4 Commissioner Joe Mullins outshine other candidates by number and size. Mullins is savvy. Sadly, he knows that voters are often impressed and can be swayed by the candidate with the most campaign signs. 

Mullins knows well the value of advertising, and he has the wealth to easily fund the signage and his campaign. However, this year it could be that the overly abundant signage is an attempt to obfuscate his checkered past and the seemingly endless controversies we endured during his last four years as county commissioner.

Voters may not be aware that before entering our local political scene, Mullins failed a Georgia legislative run in 2015, garnering only 15% of votes cast, possibly in part because of a controversy that he had falsified his residency with a fake tax return and also had been caught spreading false information about a Georgia radio host, resulting in a restraining order filed and upheld against Mullins. An allegation and investigation of “revenge porn” directed at and claimed by his ex-wife surfaced around that time as well. Also emanating from his time in Georgia, he is now facing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit claiming fraud and racketeering in an alleged scheme to sell invalid sporting event tickets in that state.

Further, Mullins has become well known for his ill-mannered, and controversial behavior at commission meetings, as well as his crass, often hate-filled, and bullying interaction with constituents on social media. On public airways, he actually called for the beheading of liberals. He has spouted false and misleading COVID information, attempted to use his influence to fix a traffic ticket, and settled after being accused of illegal campaign contributions.

Very disturbingly, in an attempt to overturn and subvert a democratic election, Mullins proudly organized and led busloads of Floridians to the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, which he described as an “army” ready to “stand and fight,” the kind of language that was enabling to the resulting violent attack on the Capitol.

In 2018, the Palm Coast Observer described Joe Mullins as a “flawed candidate.” Later our well-regarded fire chief described him as a “hack” and a “wrecking ball.”

Given what we now know of Mullins, these were and are, more than apt descriptions. Georgia figured out who Joe Mullins was in 2015, the Observer prophesied problems with him in 2018 and hopefully, by now Flagler County, unimpressed with his plentiful signs, has had enough. 

Robert Gordon

Palm Coast 


Teachers should focus on teaching, not ‘extra roles’

Dear Editor:

I recently read the My View written by Courtney VandeBunte, a former teacher who is running for the Flagler County School Board.

First, a little background on me. I started school in 1939, during the Great Depression. Corporal punishment was in vogue at this time, and it worked; misbehave in any way, and you were punished or expelled. Back then, the purpose of school was to give children the education they would need to find a job and better themselves. The school didn't give us free meals; wasn't concerned with our mental health, our happiness or substance abuse; didn't give us free pencils, paper or backpacks. They taught us the basics. If you learned, you were promoted; if you didn’t, you were held back. The teacher were not counselors, shrinks or mommy and daddy; they were teachers.

Why do teachers now take on these added roles? When they do, they claim they are overworked and need a big raise.

The My View mentions mental health five times, conditions causing anxieties seven times, but there is not one word about improving education!

I'm living proof my teachers back then were very good. I dropped out of school in 1949, joined the U.S. Navy in 1952, got discharged in 1956 and decided to go to college in 1957. I graduated in 1962 (dropped out one year to earn enough to finish). How did I do it? I probably learned more in my nine years in public schools than most do in 16 years today.

Today, teachers are more concerned with mental health, depression, substance abuse, suicide, happiness, hardships the children are experiencing, and other things that are the responsibility of the mothers and fathers, not the teachers.

Douglas R. Glover

Palm Coast 

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