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Palm Coast Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 3 years ago

Push for city charter review ends as council members reject Nobile's proposal

No council members seconded Councilman Steve Nobile's motion to establish a charter review committee.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Palm Coast will not create a committee to review its city charter.

City Councilman Steve Nobile, who has for months pressed for a citizen committee-led charter review with little support from his fellow council members, brought the matter to a vote at the council's Tuesday, Oct. 20 meeting.

No one seconded his motion, nor an alternate motion by Councilwoman Heidi Shipley that the council itself review the charter. Both motions died for lack of a second.

"I still cannot get over the fact that this is, in my mind, this is still a political ploy, and nothing more than that."

—Jason DeLorenzo, city councilman

Councilman Jason DeLorenzo seconded Nobile's motion briefly only in order to explain why he wouldn't back it, rescinding his second after he'd said what he wanted to say. 

"I find myself conflicted because the actual charter review, and the civic part of a charter review, I actually find to be a good idea," DeLorenzo said. "But I still cannot get over the fact that this is, in my mind, this is still a political ploy, and nothing more than that. And I really think very little good, other than arguing, will come out of this. And that is why I cannot support it at this time."

"I take offense to that political statement," Nobile replied, his voice rising. "Because when I first made statements that I thought we should do a charter review, had I not been so brutally attacked, because of the fact that this council was threatened by a third party, and they decided they were going to take action against me because of what Dennis McDonald came into this council and said — so I take offense to that."

Dennis McDonald, who ran unsuccessfully for county commission in the last election cycle and has sued the city of Palm Coast twice — once over trees in the Palm Harbor Shopping Center and once over a personal injury matter — is a member of the Ronald Reagan Assembly of Flagler County, which backed Nobile in the City Council election.

McDonald had also expressed interest in a charter review, and rumors spread that Nobile's charter review proposal was actually an attempt to rework the charter to somehow favor the Ronald Reagan Republicans.

"This is basic process that this council has decided on its own it will not do. And for that reason, I continue to fight that, because I am here fighting for the people who want their voice heard, not just the council. They want the council to represent them, not to tell them what they want."

—Steve Nobile, city councilman

Nobile called the rumors "absurd" and "conspiracy theories," saying in previous meetings that people from across the political spectrum had expressed support for a charter review.

Ralph Lightfoot, the head of the local Democratic Executive Committee, came to council meetings and said he wanted a review, too. 

"I do not pander to anyone," Nobile continued at the Oct. 20 meeting. "I did not ask for a charter for no one's request but people who live in my district — Democrats, Republicans, independents. ... Like I stated last time, every single person who stood up here and said, 'I'm against the charter review,' ended their statement with, 'But if we do do one, I'd like to see this changed.' This is not political. ... That has been a ruse by many people in this town who have put it through the newspapers and have advanced their strawman attack on this, that Steve Nobile and his small group want to take over the city. And just how absurd does that sound? Does that not sound absurd to any of you? Do you not get it, that you are pandering to the few people who have loud voices, and you're ignoring those who are out there working every day who are asking me to be their voice?"

Mayor Jon Netts called for a second on Nobile's motion to create a charter review committee. No one seconded it.

Shipley motioned that the council review the charter on its own. No one seconded her motion, either. 

City Councilman Bill McGuire said he couldn't back the charter review without any idea of what it would aim to change. 

"I just would like to know what we’re trying to fix. … If I had a list of, 'OK, here’s some things that are objectionable and can be fixed through a charter amendment,' I could  probably get behind it," he said. "I’m performing surgery here; what cancer am I trying to cut out of the charter and what am I trying to fix? It's like if my wife omes home and says, 'Well, I need a new car.' 'Well, why do you need a new car?' 'Well, everybody at the VFW says I need one so I guess I need one.'"

"You can't compare that. Please. Come on," Nobile interjected. "It's like a retirement plan —"

Netts cut off Nobile to let McGuire finish. McGuire said he commended Nobile for his dedication, but said, "No one has yet told me what's broken."

Nobile said if the charter was going to be compared to anything, it should be compared to a retirement plan, because periodically "you review it, to see that your'e maximizing what you're doing there."

"We go through this thing every year," Nobile said, holding up a city strategic planning document. "If it's not broken, why do we look at this every year, the strategy? Why? Because we might be able to do better."

Netts said council members or residents can bring up any issues they see in the charter during City Council meetings.




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