Mayor Milissa Holland and Vice Mayor Eddie Branquinho both rebuked Councilman Victor Barbosa during an April 13 City Council workshop for alleging that his fellow council members were corrupt because they hadn’t supported his efforts to fire the city manager.
"You’re not always going to get two others to go along with you. But that does not mean that we’re bad people, and it certainly does not mean that we’re engaging in behavior that’s not becoming of a council member."
— MILISSA HOLLAND, Palm Coast mayor, addressing Councilman Victor Barbosa
Barbosa’s dispute with City Manager Matt Morton centered around code enforcement: Barbosa, who’s driven around Palm Coast neighborhoods making Facebook videos of apparent code enforcement violations and reporting the violations to Morton by email, was displeased that Morton had told the city’s code enforcement manager to file Barbosa’s complaints under Barbosa’s name.
Barbosa accused Morton of having the violations categorized under Barbosa's name in order to undermine Barbosa's political prospects. Morton said he was doing it to keep track of Barbosa’s complaints.
Some of the violations for which Barbosa had been listed as a complainant weren’t ones he’d specifically mentioned by house number, but occurred on streets where he'd told Morton about a handful of individual violations and then added that there were others on the same street.
When Barbosa complained about the code enforcement issue at an April 6 council meeting and asked his fellow council members to second his motion to fire Morton, none did.
At the meeting, and again afterward in a Facebook Live video, Barbosa suggested that his fellow council members' refusal to fire Morton made them complicit in corruption.
But Branquinho, speaking at the April 13 workshop, said he didn't see Morton's behavior as evidence of corruption.
“Mr. Morton,” Branquinho said at the workshop, “If I ever come to you with a complaint stating that '1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 Eric Drive has violations, and also, there’s more violations on Eric Drive,' I would like you to do me a favor: Please, put my name on it. … Some people think that’s corruption; I think it’s professionalism.”
Branquinho, noting that it's illegal to drink and drive, said it should be illegal to drink and post on Facebook, too — implying, without evidence, that Barbosa had been intoxicated when posting his Facebook videos.
Barbosa interjected that he doesn't drink.
Branquinho reminded Barbosa that he’d need to be able to work with his fellow council members to get anything done.
“I don’t know if what you’re doing is a power trip,” Branquinho said, “because if it is, you should read the city charter and realize that the only power you have over here, it’s one vote out of five."
Branquinho said he had two bottles: a huge bottle of honey, and a small one of vinegar.
"The honey towards you, it’s almost down," he said to Barbosa. "The vinegar will start soon, and I think you’re going to taste a little bit of that today.”
Holland said that while Barbosa has free speech to post whatever he finds appropriate, calling fellow council members corrupt on Facebook doesn't promote the council's ability to work collaboratively.
"You’re not always going to get two others to go along with you," Holland said. "But that does not mean that we’re bad people, and it certainly does not mean that we’re engaging in behavior that’s not becoming of a council member. So please, just respect that in the future.”