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Opinion
Palm Coast Tuesday, Sep. 8, 2015 3 years ago

Two sides to every story: the ongoing struggles of Flagler County

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Former candidate Dennis McDonald takes on sheriff's headquarters, Princess Place, Matanzas interchange — and defends his own failed legal action.

By Dennis McDonald, Guest Writer

Editor's Note: The following is a response to County Commissioner Frank Meeker’s response to Dennis McDonald’s criticism of the handling of several county decisions.

Princess Place

Frank, as a county commissioner, you have a primary responsibility to safeguard public assets. Giving over our preserve, purchased by public referendum, to private enterprise is "stealing" from all the Flagler residents who paid for it.

The proper way to avoid these errors in judgment, if you insist on continuing to employ a county administrator that is sub par, is to have the County Commission put a policy in place defining the limits of use. This would prevent County Administrator Craig Coffey from future giveaways and not allow a sellout of the taxpayers. It would be good to get started on that right away to avoid further embarrassment to the commission under your chairmanship.

Sheriff’s Office construction

The new sheriff’s headquarters should never have had any old lumber left in place on a $7 million renovation. The tie-down walls are the issue, as they are a major component of the wind-loading calculations. Having decayed and fatigued walls supporting a new very expensive roof structure is a sign of nonprofessionals on the job. The walls in question do not meet present-day code. When you review the photos you see three new treated plates attached and bearing on nontreated old lumber that is grossly fatigued. Surely, you can see a problem!

You have stated that the rotting fascia boards had been addressed on a $1,500 change order. Why? The tie-down walls should have been included under the scope of contract during the demolition stage. These tie-down walls should have been demolished and replaced before the new roof structure was put in place. That's how it's done by professionals!

This is another indication that the County Commission and county administrator fail to grasp the seriousness of this failure. More to the point, our deputies do not deserve a compromised work environment at any price! The pictures do not lie.

Plantation Bay water

As for Florida's most expensive third world water company, I see that on Sept. 16, the Board of County Commissioners will have a workshop regarding Flagler County assuming full control of this "asset."

Once again, Bunnell knows when they are in over their heads. Kudos to Bunnell commissioners and manager.

Having personally built and operated private water companies, I can tell you that this water company was grossly overpriced and poorly maintained, if maintained at all. The number of service interruptions and boil orders were well beyond excessive.

The responsibility for this water company in its franchised area was the responsibility of the state of Florida, which approved this monopoly. The state of Florida failed to compel the owner to provide service equivalent to what you and I once received from Florida Water Co. here in Palm Coast.

The statement you made about Flagler County being able to buy the ITT Water Co. for $37 million is fiction. Ask County Commissioner George Hanns. He will confirm that they never had a real chance to buy it. ITT wanted out, and standard business practice would be to want as many bidders as possible to drive up the price. So, basically, the county had no chance but was used for ITT's benefit.

You must stop listening to "Netts Story Time" and then personally commit to not accepting campaign donations from corporations that are directly aligned with the former owners of this failed water/sewer utility company that you voted to purchase for $5.5 million.

Frank, how does little Flagler County with 100,000 residents have the money to bail out the state of Florida? Your "big brother thinking" has once again burdened us unreasonably.

Legal action

Your statement regarding the wasting of tax dollars on my tree legal action is pure 100% Netts/Landon speak, and they have trained you well! The cost of attorney Knight's failure to properly represent me in this action was paid back to the city, and you are well aware of that.

Your "spin" on what was a very troubled time for Mr. Knight is abusive. Mr. Knight filed the legal action and never responded to the court after the initial hearing, leaving me unaware, but as the client responsible (per statute) for half of the costs due to his actions. Unfortunately, it was much later that I learned my attorney had been in rehab during this case. A very unfortunate turn of events.

The statute that forced me to pay one half for my attorney's actions is flawed. Welcome to another stupid law by the Florida Legislature (mostly lawyers), the same folks who gave us the red light cameras that you voted to install — all 43 of them here in "Camera" Coast.

Had my attorney been "on his game" maybe the city would have had to plan within the covenants and restrictions it was bound to, and today we would still have the beautiful trees that for decades buffered the gas station and bank.

Your comment leads me to believe you must be in favor of adding to the  "retaining wall look" that ABC Liquor offers, something you endorsed when you were a city councilman. It's too bad Palm Coast, also known as the Tree City, could not live up to its marketing.

Matanzas interchange

It has been one month since I came to the commission and asked how the construction of the Matanzas interchange could be planned and built with no signalization or street lighting to protect pedestrians in what is clearly a school zone.

What I have learned was that the Florida Department of Transportation said Flagler County is the lead agency in this design and construction. To date I have received zero response from the county commissioners, including you, Frank!

Stop raising our taxes and focus your efforts, as the chairman, on keeping our pedestrian students safe when crossing the Matanzas I-95 federal highway ramps. Remember you are the "lead agency" on this project. 

Dennis McDonald, of Palm Coast, is a former County Commission candidate, opposing Frank Meeker.

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