Saying that a city government survey question about gender was too "woke," Palm Coast’s vice mayor proposed at a March 21 meeting that the City Council vet city surveys in the future.
Vice Mayor Ed Danko said he received multiple calls and complaints from residents about the survey for the joint city and county Planning Our Parks initiative. During council member comments at the end of the meeting, Danko motioned that City Council should receive the surveys for review before they are available to the public .
The specific question is at the end of the survey and asks participants what gender they identify as. Participants could select one of the following as answers: “male,” “female,” “prefer not to answer,” or “I identify as:” which also has a fill-in text box.
Danko said the question had nothing to do with parks and facilities and that he considered it a part of “insane liberal wokeness.”
“This is nothing more than woke indoctrination to me,” he said. “I don’t ever want to see a question like that again.”
This is nothing more than woke indoctrination to me ... I don’t ever want to see a question like that again. — Ed Danko, Palm Coast Vice Mayor
Mayor David Alfin said he had an issue with the survey, too, but for a different reason — he felt the survey's length could deter people from finishing it.
While none of the council members explicitly agreed with Danko about the gender question, the council unanimously reached a consensus to review surveys before they are released to the public.
"That's a great expectation to have that we'll have at least one shot to look at it as a council before it goes out to the public," Klufas said.
The city and county typically contract with a third party for surveys. Consulting firm Berry Dunn was contracted for the Parks Master Plan, and the firm contracts with another company for the surveys, Palm Coast Director of Communications and Marketing Brittany Kershaw told the Observer.
The gender identity question is one of several demographics questions at the end of the survey. Kershaw wrote that Berry Dunn indicated that the demographic questions are standard questions.
The demographic questions also ask participants their age range, if they need ADA accessible facilities and services, if they own a dog or have children, rent or own their home, are a registered voter, what race they consider themselves and their household’s income range.
This has been the second time a survey's question did not meet the "vision" of City Council, Alfin said, though neither he nor Danko remembered the time of the initial incident.
Danko told the Observer that the survey in the first incident had contained leading questions. As a result, the council asked to review future surveys, but, he said, nothing came of that.
Danko said he made the motion at this business meeting to ensure action would be taken in the future.
It has to be established that this is what we expect as a council. ... [The public] thinks it's our policy now. And it's not our policy. — Ed Danko, Palm Coast Vice Mayor
"It has to be established that this is what we expect as a council," he said to the Observer. "[The public] thinks it's our policy now. And it's not our policy."
Going forward, staff will send the proposed surveys to council members individually. If any member has an objection, the survey could discussed during a council meeting.
"People think we wrote this, they don't realize that staff put it together," Danko said. "So we're accountable."
City starts grant application for second phase of Waterfront Park construction
Palm Coast's city staff will be applying for a $360,000 Florida Inland Navigation District grant to prepare for the second phase of construction at Waterfront Park.
The City Council unanimously approved staff's request to begin the application process during a March 21 meeting.
The second phase of construction would expand parking and amenity accessibility, Director of Stormwater and Engineering Carl Cote said.
The second phase of the project is budgeted at $1.18 million dollars. The city expects to pay $688,528 for the project, with another $134,852 set aside for contingency costs.
Construction on the first phase of the project began in October 2022.
The project will add a non-motorized boat launch, kayak launch and prelaunch staging area.