Letter: Ethics Commission rejects attempted Flagler SLAPP suit

Letter: Ethics Commission rejects attempted Flagler SLAPP suit

Dennis McDonald
Palm Coast

Dear Editor:

Friday January 22nd, the Florida Ethics Commission rejected the attempt by Flagler County Attorney Hadeed and all five of the Flagler County Board of Commissioners to allow a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP suit, all to be financed by the TAXPAYERS of Flagler County.

This decision maintains the system the Florida Legislature set in place years ago to provide a structured process for taxpayers to report ethics misdeeds. This system of reporting and due process was created to prevent the need for citizens from having to enter the courts and hire a lawyer to compel compliance with ethical behavior standards by Florida’s officials, both elected and appointed, as provided by state regulation.

What County Attorney Hadeed and all members of the Flagler Board of County Commissioners did was to attempt to Bully the public they are supposed to serve. Mr Hadeed has been orchestrating this abuse because he does not want to tell the Flagler Voters who the Commissioner is that he personally saw commit a FELONY (His own words as recorded). Additionally, he does not want the public to know about his conversation at a public meeting where he discusses with George Hanns, Chairman of the County Commission about Commissioner Revels using her public office. Hanns states….. “She’s [Revels] making money, she’s pulling all kinds of deals and she’s benefiting by being a Commissioner”. Most ironic was Hanns calling Gail Wadsworth the County Clerk “a snake”, and former County Clerk Mr Crosby a “rat bastard”. The mere thought that the Flagler County Attorney and Chairman of the County Commission are aware and discussing these allegations in public session and not reporting them to the States Attorney is cause for removal from office. And, yes, this conversation is ALL in the public record.

Mr Hadeed has been operating in “Panic Mode” ever since he was informed at a 1/31/2014 meeting, which included the county information officer, that then Chairman McLaughlin had polled the vote (a very serious crime that allows for jail time and fines) on the $1.23 million dollar purchase of the old uninhabitable blight-ridden hospital that was valued at not even $400,000. Adding further credence that this foul purchase was not a positive move for our community was Sheriff Manfre’s request to locate the new HQ at the Emergency Operations Center with five acres directly across the street from the BOCC at the old jail that we already OWNED as a backup option.

Commissioner Revels was fined a record $2,500 dollars by the Ethics Commission in the spring of 2015 because Commissioner Revels was a “business associate” of the sellers of the old hospital. Commissioner Revels has a pending ethics complaint regarding her significantly increased credit line at the Intra Coastal Bank, where the bank president was Commissioner Revels’ “business associate”. This may also become a federal/state banking investigation as the $97,000 increase in Commissioner Revel’s credit line appears not to have met existing underwriting guidelines.

County Attorney Hadeed must then answer the Florida Bar Complaints that have been filed and are under investigation. Mr Hadeed will be compelled to answer why he did not report a crime that he witnessed and labeled in his own statement a “felony”. Mr Hadeed’s excuse that this was attorney client privilege is a sham, as the law provides that only the client may make that claim. Commissioner Ericksen has never made claim and to his credit Ericksen even said to Hadeed “then don’t tell me” prior to Hadeed’s retelling of the felony to Ericksen at a public Canvassing Board Meeting 8/25/2014. This is a very serious situation for a legal practitioner in the State of Florida and one that the Florida Bar is compelled to address.

County Attorney Hadeed’s insistence that a publicly announced and advertised Canvassing Board Meeting has an expectation of privacy is a claim that should make all Florida citizens shudder. It has been well determined by the Florida Courts that there are only to types of Public Meetings, Open and Executive session which are closed to the public.

With the full backing of all the Commissioners, County Attorney Hadeed received a recent automatic renewal of his multi-year contract with significant increase in salary. ALL Flagler Voters need to pause and take note of how these current Commissioners are SERVING the Flagler Voters.

Retirement for every one of the Flagler Commissioners is a viable option. The 2016 Elections are 9 months away and three of the five seats are on the ballot making this an excellent opportunity to correct the misdeeds of the present BOCC. Become an engaged Voter to be prepared to select those who will best serve the Taxpayers of Flagler County.

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