On the morning of May 20, as the May 21 edition of the Palm Coast Observer was being finalized and prepared for press, an email showed up in the inbox of our publisher, John Walsh. It was from Mark Richter, and it was so disgusting that it needs to be revealed to the community as a cautionary tale.
First of all, the email is unintelligible. In it, Richter claims that he is forwarding an email that was sent to him that morning. The forwarded email is a call to action: “Boycott FlaglerLive.com!” There is no explanation for the purpose of a boycott. Richter hints that “this is what happens when media crosses that line!” He does not explain what line was crossed. Based on the interview Richter did with Tony Holt, of the Daytona Beach News-Journal (reprinted here at FlaglerLive.com), Richter may have been referring to a photo of two people in Muslim attire posted on FlaglerLive.com.
To prove the point (whatever the point may have been), Richter includes an illustration of Osama bin Laden’s head on the body of a naked man who is having sex with a camel.
The email is offensive, disturbing and just plain mean-spirited. It’s possible that Richter intended the image to be a joke, but if he did, it is an indication of how far away from the norms of our society that he really is.
And this is not the first offense. If you recall, Richter wrote to the county attorney an email about Tristam last September, in which he makes a big deal about Tristam having changed his name from Pierre Fouad Haddad, as if his name made him a security threat.
Now, why is this a cautionary tale? Because Richter, a bully at heart, ran for a seat on the County Commission nine months ago and had such support from the Republicans that he lost to the incumbent in the primary by just 237 votes.
Think about that.
This man, who has such poor judgment that he would send to the Palm Coast Observer, FlaglerLive.com and the News-Journal an image of Osama bin Laden having sex with a camel, could have been elected by a popular vote in Flagler County.
What does this say about us as a voting public? Is this the kind of community we want to live in? Where someone like Mark Richter actually has a chance of representing a whole district? Where someone like Mark Richter is entrusted to make decisions about how to spend our tax dollars?
Are we so desperate for a change that we will even vote for Mark Richter?
The next primary is a long ways off — it’s not until Aug. 30, 2016. But let this be a wake-up call to all prospective candidates and voters in Flagler County: Let’s not get complacent. If we want to have a government we can be proud of, we need to support candidates we can be proud of, and then we need to vote.