Palm Coast

Palm Coast's Danko Leaves City Meeting After Bevan-Firing to Campaign


PALM COAST, Fla. – Ed Danko, Vice Mayor of Palm Coast, left the Palm Coast City Council meeting early on Tuesday to campaign at the Flagler County Public Library. He did so moments after the firing of Palm Coast’s now ex-city manager, Denise Bevan.

Danko’s departure was criticized pointedly by two of his colleagues: Councilwoman Theresa Carli Pontieri and Councilman Nick Klufas. Both not only questioned the optics of Danko leaving, but vaguely suspected him staying only for Bevan’s firing and illegally knowing in advance that it would be proposed by Mayor David Alfin. Florida’s Sunshine Law prohibits the discussion of current or future business items by two elected officials outside of a public environment with advance notice; if Danko knew Alfin was going to make the motion and then planned his day accordingly, he’d have broken the law.

“I was kind of glad that I got up and left, because I wasn’t feeling great about,” Danko said afterward. “It kind of took my mind off of it.” He expressed after the meeting that he wished Bevan well and regretted that he’d felt he had to vote for her firing. He also said he was unaware of the fact that she’d be on the chopping block, and that he was not planning on initiating that process himself at any point.

Danko left to set up a table at the library, which was being used Tuesday as a voting location in the Republican presidential primary. He was there supporting both the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, as well as his own campaign for the Flagler County Commission later this year. He Facebook live-streamed himself at the library, with the City Council meeting still underway across town.

“There was a violation of sunshine that occurred before today’s vote, because he showed up to clearly take the gavel to support the motion, and then he left,” Pontieri said. “If there was something so pressing that he had, why even come to the meeting today?” Pontieri stated during the meeting that she had ‘proof’ of Danko being at the library; Danko commented after the fact that he was making no effort to conceal the fact that he was there. He had set up before the meeting, he said, and returned after the Bevan firing. He also said he disagrees with the City Council having meetings on Election Day, and Councilman Klufas said afterward that he’d noticed Danko opt to be at a polling place instead of at  scheduled meetings in 2022.

Without Danko present, as Vice Mayor, the City Council would have to decide who among them would receive the gavel in the event Mayor David Alfin again had to pass it off. He’s required to do so in order to make a motion, and the vice mayor is the one to Chair a City Council meeting in the event the mayor is not present. If both Mayor Alfin and Vice Mayor Danko were absent simultaneously, the three remaining City Council members would have to appoint an acting mayor for that time, and all votes would have to be unanimous among them to pass.

Klufas concurred that certain public commenters appeared to him to have known Bevan’s firing would come up beforehand. If they knew and heard it from Danko, misconduct would likely be present. If they knew and heard it from Alfin or a non-Council member, it likely would not. It’s also possible they didn’t know at all, and that their comments informed Alfin’s decision to motion for Bevan’s firing. Danko denies accusations that he acted outside of the law to inform residents, or to become aware of the upcoming firing himself.

Danko suspected the reason Pontieri and Klufas took exception with his choice to leave was political. “I find it disheartening that so-called Republicans who are sitting on our City Council find it offensive to go out there and campaign for President Trump,” he said. “My signs were there, and I’m obviously a candidate […] but I believe in President Trump.” All five City Council members are Republicans, though the other four more seldom identify with Trump particularly. They tend to remain publicly agnostic on national politics, with rare exceptions.