Palm Coast City Council member Ed Danko said he objected to being singled out at a Tuesday city council meeting for supporting a boycott of a news website of the Flagler County, so he tried to shut down the critic.
But Mayor David Alfin refused, hitting his hammer twice to silence Danko and telling him to allow lawyer Scott W. Spradley to speak.
It all centered around the Flagler Trump Club’s call to boycott FlaglerLive. Flagler County Commission Vice Chairman Joe Mullins, a Republican and Trump supporter, also backed the boycott.
Danko said during the meeting that he was dismayed that Alfin had allowed Spradley to speak. He repeated the same point of view in an interview with The News-Journal.
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The council’s latest boondoggle came shortly after Flagler Beach’s Spradley walked to the podium to speak during the portion of the meeting where members of the public were offered three minutes of time.
Spradley, who advertises on FlaglerLive, said his Flagler Beach law firm has helped 54 companies obtain PPP loans in the past two years of the pandemic. Spradley said he employed four women, all mothers, all Palm Coast residents.
“You represent them all, including Mr. Danko,” Spradley said.
Danko, who is vice-president of the Flagler Trump Club, cut him off
“Point of order, Mr. Mayor. Are the Flagler Trump Club and its agency on the agenda of our city council? Danko asked.
“It’s public participation. The public is allowed to speak, so reserve your comment, ”said Alfin.
Spradley went on to say that two weeks ago Danko launched a social media campaign asking people to boycott FlaglerLive and companies that advertise the website. Danko, who is vice chairman of the Flagler Trump Club, interrupted Spradley again, saying it was the club that initiated the boycott.
Alfin told Danko to let Spradley finish: “Respect the audience first,” Alfin said.
Spradley sued again, saying Danko posted a call to boycott 21 local businesses on his Facebook page and shared the post with 91 other people.
“And the only reason for his request to boycott these companies, including my law firm, is that we are doing it, or we have been advertising his nemesis, FlaglerLive,” Spradley said. “That’s it. That’s the reason why.”
Spradley added: “This particular fellow is saying out of the corner of his mouth that he supports business …”
Danko interrupted him again. “I’ve had enough of this mister mayor,” said Danko. “The Trump Club is not on the agenda of this council.”
Alfin hit the hammer three times and exclaimed, “Mr. Danko! “
Danko spoke to Alfin and said “No, I’ve had enough of that guy’s garbage.”
“Well, then get off the platform,” Alfin said.
“I am appalled that you allow this,” Danko said.
“The public has the right to speak. Let them finish, ”Alfin said.
“He is not allowed to come here and present false facts,” Danko said.
Spradley said he was not talking about the Trump Club but Danko. Danko replied that he had republished a press release from the Trump Club.
Alfin struck the hammer again.
Then city attorney William Reischmann stepped in, saying the mayor had the power to remove any member of the public or council who did not follow the mayor’s instructions.
Reischmann also said Spradley’s comments were not high enough to force the mayor to arrest him.
Alfin told Spradley to continue.
“The message I’m hearing from businesses is, ‘Come to Palm Coast. We love business unless you are advertising with the wrong guy. Then we’re going to do everything we can to undermine you and take your employees’ wages away, ”Spradley said.
When Spradley was done, Alfin gave Danko time to respond.
Danko said the Trump Club decided to boycott FlaglerLive after a member suggested it. Danko said the entire Trump club voted on the issue and approved the boycott.
“I am appalled”
“And a personal attack, like that, frankly, Mr. Mayor, I’m appalled that you allowed it,” Danko said.
In an interview with the News-Journal on Wednesday, Danko said that another company on the boycott list is the real estate company where Alfin works.
Danko complained about the content on FlaglerLive, claiming among other things that they were critical of Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. FlaglerLive is run by Pierre Tristam, a former News-Journal columnist who started FlaglerLive 11 years ago.
In an email, Tristam said of Danko: “He’s an angry, unimaginative man. So he went for a boycott by six and a half people and their cell phones. Flagler’s media consumers are smarter than that. As you can see from Mr. Spradley – a Tory Republican – we don’t have the kind of advertisers who are likely to be stray book burners. ”
Danko said he did not write the Facebook post calling for the boycott, but simply reposted it.
The Facebook post reads in part “The worst of all, while Pierre Tristan [SIC] Constantly attacks Republican elected officials with blatant Liberal lies, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, he keeps his most poisonous left-wing venom for President Trump and his supporters.
The Trump Club is also calling for a boycott of the real estate company where Alfin works.
“Maybe that’s the reason he didn’t want to stop this guy,” Danko said.
“Absolutely not,” said Alfin, who said he’s just trying to maintain decorum.
Alfin pointed out in a telephone interview that the city of Palm Coast is also on the boycott.
Danko said he saw no conflict in supporting a boycott against his city.
“I don’t run the staff,” Danko said. “I don’t do the marketing, I don’t tell them what to buy and what not to buy.”
Danko said the Trump Club board of directors voted to bring the boycott issue to members for a vote and members voted on it.
“It’s not me, it’s the Flagler Trump Club,” Danko said.
When asked if he supports the boycott, Danko replied that he did.
Danko added that if Spradley wanted to criticize him about something that was the city’s business like the tax rate, that would be okay.
But Danko saw no link between an elected official calling for a boycott of businesses in his community.
“I don’t have a connection there,” Danko said. “I am still a citizen. I still have rights. My club has rights and it is not my club. I happened to be elected vice-president in the last election. (Spradley) tried to attribute it to me directly and Alfin let him.