County Commissioners Darby should shut up. He and Hanns should get out of the way

In office for 16 years each, Darby blames the business community and Enterprise Flagler for the lack of effective economic development.

Palm Coast, Florida – September 5, 2008 – Flagler County has Florida’s highest unemployment rate. It surely has one of the lowest rates of industrial development. Monday, the County Council voted against placing a referendum on the fall ballot to fund an ongoing economic development program. The decision was probably the correct one given the poor timing of the measure, but comments made by Commissioners Hanns and Darby were so false, misleading, and egregiously self-serving that they cannot go unchallenged. is a real estate news website. I venture into politics only when I feel politicians or their staff are wrong on issues related to or affecting the real estate sector and sound business and economic development. In this case, both jobs (our local economy) and equitable property taxes are at stake. I must speak out.
Commissioners Jim Darby and George Hanns have served on the Board of County Commissioners since 1992. That’s 16 years. Darby was Chairman for over 14 of those years, from August 1993 until November 2007. In comments supporting the concept of the proposed resolution, both commissioners touted their strong continuous and ongoing support for Flagler County’s economic development. Yet, after 16 years under their watch, less than 1% of the total current tax roll of Flagler County is comprised of developed industrial property. The burden of funding government falls too heavily on homeowners. 
Darby pointed the finger at Enterprise Flagler for any lack of success. In a bombastic diatribe, Darby also lectured and admonished the business community for not doing enough. This is the same Darby who reportedly told the Enterprise Flagler Airport Task Force to "keep your hands off my airport." His airport? This is the same Darby who didn’t sponsor a development bond resolution years ago when economic times were better and voters more likely to assent?
Now new members have joined the board and there is $1 million in the county budget to support economic development. With Darby out of the chair, with new blood on the board, and new county and city managers working together with Enterprise Flagler and the business community, things are starting to happen. Hopefully, in the next weeks we will see the fruits of their combined efforts as details of "Project Continental" are revealed.
Flagler County and Palm Coast must move forward with a sustained economic development effort. Our critical need for more jobs and a more balanced property tax base demand it. I ask our elected officials to give Enterprise Flagler their economic support. I ask them to be vocal in their support of sustained economic development. It is not the sole responsibility of the business community, as Darby would have it, to educate voters of the need for development. If we succeed in attracting good clean industry with high wages, the business community is not the only winner. Every citizen of Flagler County will be better off. They deserve elected officials who will champion this effort, not those who mouth support while doing nothing. If you can’t lead such an effort, get out of the way.
Darby lost his position as chairman last fall when Jim O’Connell was nominated. In a pathetic display of self-absorption, he nominated himself but received no support other than his own. He chose not to run for reelection to the board this fall. I thank him for his decision but regret I won’t be able to vote against him. It is too bad George Hanns didn’t choose to join Darby in his decision not to run. I will be voting against him. And every Flagler voter who would like to see more jobs and a broader tax base that does not rely so heavily on residential property should do likewise.
5 replies
  1. H Gordon
    H Gordon says:


    Point well taken, Toby. I am anxious to see what rebuttal comments both Darby and Hanns have to your opinions, and surely they will have (two sides to every story, yada, yada). Do you know what medium (e.g. Flagler Times, News Journel, etc) they may use in defense of their positions?

  2. JSA
    JSA says:

    Comment on County Commissioners Darby and Hanns sh

    I say Amen to Toby. These two have gone progressively worse over the years. Possibly they think they’re God’s gift to Flagler County. Sixteen years is a long time, we have gone from not being in the map, to being one of the most favorable place to live in the country but they continue to think like small town USA.

  3. Dave
    Dave says:

    I can’t wait!!!

    I can’t wait for Darby and Hanns to be off of the Board of County Commissioners. Darby voluntarily(about time) and Hanns defeated in the coming election. Both of them have been significant hurdles to economic development in this county and they have the audacity to blame Enterprise Flagler who has been trying to do the job, but, is constantly hamstrung by both of these commissioners. Enterprise Flagler is a convenient scapegoat for both of them, but it is their meddling that is derailing progress. They think that since the County provides approx 1/3 of Enterprise Flagler’s support that they can veto any initiatives that they want, and in the past they did just that.We are very fortunate to have Tom Cooley as Exec Director of Enterprise Flagler, his prior accomplishments for economic development in other locales is outstanding. He needs to be let to do his job and it will be successful as long as he doesn’t have the shackles that the Commissioners have put on him thus far.Much of that was due to both Darby and Hanns.Thank goodness that Darby has decided not to run and hopefully Hanns will be defeated in November!!!

  4. PC
    PC says:


    Thanks for citing your position on Hanns and Darby. I know it take "guts" to go public on a sensitive issue like this, but I think you’re right on! When are you going to run for County Commissioner?

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