About nine months ago, City Council member Ed Danko suggested that the city start planning how and when to dredge the saltwater canals. Is the city making progress? And can the city do anything to address growth? Danko met with the Palm Coast Observer in the PMG studio to discuss those topics as well as his favorite topic of all: Trump.
Last time we talked was April and you said you wanted to get on top of the saltwater canal dredging. Why is that so important, and are you happy with the progress?
I'm happy that we're finally looking at hiring consulting firms to come in and tell us exactly what we need. Because we can sit around and guess all day long, “Are we going to spend $40 million? $50 million?” We don't know what it's actually going to cost.
But these canals definitely need to be dredged. Last time they were dredged was back in the 1990s, before Palm Coast became a city. We’re responsible. The city's responsible for these canals. They're part of our stormwater system. (Editor's note: According to city staff: “The saltwater canal’s influence on the stormwater system is controlled by tidal fluctuations, and dredging below the waterline has no effect on the city’s stormwater system. For these reasons, the city has not, to date, performed any dredging or regular maintenance of the canals.” For more, visit https://tinyurl.com/pcostory.)
They're our biggest amenity, our biggest attraction. And it's not just the people that live on the canals — anyone can access those canals with their boats. So this is something that we finally have to get on top of. And the only way we're going to do it is to hire a firm.
Do we put in our own permanent dredging equipment like they did in Coral Gables? They have hundreds of miles of salt water canals; we've got 26 miles or so. Do we make that investment? Or do we just hire out periodically when we need to do it? I don't know. A consultant firm is the next step.
I was very disappointed in the survey question that was sent out by the city. It was tainted. It was a leading question. And as I told council, at the last meeting, “As far as I'm concerned, you've poison that question.” Anything that comes back on that question, I'm not going to take seriously. You can't just scare people about environmental hazards.
This is not some form of class warfare. Some people say, “Oh, dredging, the canals, that's for those rich people that live on the canals.” Well, I don't live on the canal; I live over in the W Section. If you live in another section of town, and you need something done, well, you know, this is a city; it's our responsibility to take care of all of our residents. So I want folks to understand this is not just for people that live on a canal.
They’re a major attraction, possibly to future industry. If I'm bringing in a high tech company to Flagler County, or Palm Coast, and I'm going to create 200 jobs, and I'm the president of that company, I probably make enough money where I'm going to want to live on a canal and have a boat. So if that's an attraction that we can offer businesses and their leadership, I'm all for it.
That's what makes the world go round. This is America. I love business owners. Who doesn’t?
"This is not some form of class warfare. It's our responsibility to take care of all of our residents. This is not just for people that live on a canal."
Growth continues to be a major concern for a lot of people. What grade would you give the city on handling growth?
I'm not going to give it a grade. We don't have a choice but to handle growth. You've seen the play the movie “Brigadoon”? Where every 100 years they wake up and nothing has changed?
We're going to see growth and certainly now with all the people that are fleeing the Northeast and New York, New Jersey, fleeing California from the high taxes and the high crime and the mismanagement. Florida is a great place to come.
We have a lot of land that's not been developed. Developers have rights: You own property in Florida, you have the right to build. And so we're going to see some growth.
I hear people complain about traffic. I mean, yeah, I've seen an increase in traffic. But I've lived in major cities in my life,. Go live in Washington, D.C., or Chicago, or Dallas or Atlanta. This traffic's not that bad.
People don't seem to understand that we just can't say no. If you own a big parcel of land, and it's zoned for something, and you want to build on it, Brian, you have every right, unless we can show that you're really doing damage to the city. But putting up office buildings, hospitals, even apartment complexes, is part of our master plan.
What do you look for in the next city manager?
Someone who can do the job, someone who has experience in a city this size or larger. But if your only experience is government, I actually don't really want you; I want you to have a experience in the free market. I would love to have a retired CEO of a big corporation move here and and want to be our city manager.
I'm very disappointed that we abandoned [the previous applicant list]. I don't understand why. And now we're going to be spending upwards of $30,000 to hire a firm
I think we need to go back and look through the candidates that applied. I think we owe them that; they made the effort to apply.
In the 2022 elections, Eddie Branquinho has said he will likely not run for re-election for City Council District 4, and Victor Barbosa is running for County Commission instead of re-election on City Council District 2. With two seats open, what do you feel is at stake in the city elections?
At stake is control of the council. You know, there's five people there. If you got three votes, you run the city.
"At stake is control of the council. You know, there's five people there. If you got three votes, you run the city."
ED DANKO, on the 2022 elections
We'll see who steps forward. I know Alan Lowe has stepped forward to replace Victor. I'm going to support Alan Lowe. Obviously, he's on the board of directors of our Trump Club; we'll be endorsing Alan.
We also have School Board seats, seats coming up. That's so important. And then, of course, we have county commissioner seats coming up. Greg Hansen is running for re-election. And Joe Mullins is running for re-election. And as I said, Victor is actually going to run against Joe Mullins.
A few weeks ago, Joe Mullins, offered Victor a round-trip first-class air ticket to Costa Rica with luxury accommodations for a weekend if he would just fly down there and prove to us all that he not committed any crimes, that he's not wanted for any crimes, in Costa Rica. If I was him, and I was innocent, I would grab that vacation on Joe in a heartbeat.
You recently posted on Facebook an endorsement for Scotty Moore for Congress, saying he is a “solid Trumper.” What does it mean to be a solid Trumper? And why would it be important for a local candidate to be one?
As we've just seen on the School Board with the book that Jill Woolbright was able to get tossed out? Yeah, it is. It's a conservative Republican Trump thing, because you're not going to get that from a liberal left wing socialist, a “blame America first” Democrat.
Any endorsement that we give, as a Trump Club, obviously, it has to be someone who believes in the policies of Donald Trump.
Brian McMillan and his wife, Hailey, bought the Observer in 2023. Before taking on his role as publisher, Brian was the editor from 2010 to 2022, winning numerous awards for his column writing, photography and journalism, from the Florida Press Association.