Vice Mayor Goes Full Monty

Vice Mayor Goes Full Monty

On June 1, I wrote an article titled “Keep the Bowling Alley Property – Expand MLK Park” and published it in the Winter Park Voice.
http://winterparkvoice.com/keep-the-bowling-alley-property-expand-mlk-park/

The next day, June 2, Commissioner Peter Weldon circulated an email to Winter Park residents with a link to his own blog, Winter Park Perspective. Weldon’s instruction at the top of the email was: “Fellow Winter Park Residents, Please share with friends and neighbors.” Having received this email and concluding I was not alone in receiving it, I heeded Weldon’s instruction and posted his email in the comments section below my story.

From: Pete Weldon
Subject: A Few Trees, Lots of Concrete, Little Expanded Park, Lots of Your Money
Date: June 2, 2017 at 10:10:05 AM EDT

Fellow Winter Park Residents,
Please share with friends and neighbors.

NEW POST:  A Few Trees, Lots of Concrete, Little Expanded Park, Lots of Your Money   (click to read on-line)
The editor of Winter Park Voice, Anne Mooney, has stopped her pretense of providing “news” and has gone public with her true purpose, that being to use her blog and Facebook page to promote her policy prescriptions for Winter Park. Notably, these prescriptions are underpinned by conspiracy theories and based not on fact, but on suspicion that those who actually spend their time serving the city must have some unjust ulterior motive, because they don’t share her views.

I am going “full monty” on this because the people of Winter Park deserve to understand the manipulation. I expect, and believe you deserve, city policy driven by full and thoughtful debate, not driven by political manipulation from people for whom a political agenda supersedes respect for the facts and respect for those who serve our community.

Ms. Mooney’s latest piece exposes her efforts as a significant disservice to Winter Park.
Please read: “Keep the Bowling Alley Property – Expand MLK Park,” and then go here for some facts.

Sincerely, Pete Weldon 
Vice Mayor of Winter Park

Who Puts Up Comments on Voice Site?

Only two people can post anything on the WP Voice website – the editor and the web developer. Comments input on the site are held for moderation and must be approved, and only then are they posted. Comments containing personal attacks and inappropriate language are not posted. Comments may be edited to remove inappropriate language. No reader has direct access to the site.

Originally, I posted Commissioner Weldon’s email under the title “Pete Weldon.” He did not post it; I did.

“John Dough” Weighs In

Very soon after, a person writing as “John Dough” responded to Weldon’s comment. I moderated Dough’s comment and posted it. It appears beneath Weldon’s post, as it was written in response to Weldon’s comment, not to the article.

Those of you who have posted on the Voice website know that there is a way for you to post with a pseudonym and a way to hide your email address. “John Dough” posts frequently and takes advantage of these features. When his or her post arrives via email, the only information visible to the moderator is the IP Address of the computer. The right to post an anonymous comment has been the policy of the Voice since its inception, and it will remain Voice policy.

Weldon Response

The next day, June 3, Commissioner Weldon sent the following email.

From: Pete Weldon
Sent: Saturday, June 3, 2017 9:16 PM
To: anne mooney <annemooney@earthlink.net>
Subject: Problem

Ms. Mooney,
I note a comment here: http://winterparkvoice.com/keep-the-bowling-alley-property-expand-mlk-park/ under my name that I did not post. It appears the person commenting anonymously as “John Dough” created the comment under my name so he or she could write a response, pretending it was a response to something I posted.

I ask that you immediately remove the comment using my name, along with the response.

I ask that you send me the identifying Internet information on the comment under my name. This would include email address and IP address along with other information tracked by your blog software.

I ask, as I have before, that you limit comments to the Winter Park Voice Facebook page where the author needs to have a verified identity. I hope you will someday contribute to minimizing politically motivated manipulation of the facts, rather than facilitating such behavior.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Another Email Arrived June 5

From: Pete Weldon
To: ‘anne mooney’ <annemooney@earthlink.net>
Subject: RE: Problem
Date: Jun 5, 2017 11:42 AM

Ms. Mooney,
The fraudulent comment under my name is still present: https://www.drphillipscenter.org/cart/reserve-seats.stml?perf_id=5797.[sic]

I am looking into legal action and encourage you to remove the comment and the response immediately.

I also ask that after removing the comment and response, that you post a comment noting what happened and tell your readers what changes you will make in your site policies to avoid abetting such fraud. I point out that your failure to have and to enforce policies intended to avoid such fraudulent behavior is a tacit endorsement of such behavior.

Regards, Pete Weldon

June 6 — Weldon wrote to correct the typographical error in the link.

From: Pete Weldon
Sent: Jun 6, 2017 12:17 PM
To: ‘anne mooney’
Subject: RE: Problem

Ms. Mooney,
The link below is a typo. The correct link is: http://winterparkvoice.com/keep-the-bowling-alley-property-expand-mlk-park/.

I trust you will remove this fraudulent comment using my name and the related response. It has now been 3 days since the initial request.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Comment Heading Revised

In response to Weldon’s request, I changed the heading above Weldon’s comment to read, “Emailed to residents by Peter Weldon and posted here by WP Voice staff.”

On June 19, Weldon sent the following message.

From: Pete Weldon
To: anne mooney <annemooney@earthlink.net>
Subject: Using my Name without my permission
Date: Jun 19, 2017 4:41 PM
Ms. Mooney,

I see you have changed the title of the fraudulent comment under my name. Link: http://winterparkvoice.com/keep-the-bowling-alley-property-expand-mlk-park/.

The title now reads: Emailed to residents by Peter Weldon and posted here by WP Voice staff
June 2, 2017 at 4:20 pm

This is dishonest.

What would be honest is for you to:

Remove the comment along with the response by “John Dough.”
Write a story that you email to your list and post on the WPV Facebook page with a detailed history of how you allowed an anonymous source to fraudulently post a comment under my name and then allowed comments on the fraudulent comment.
Clarify that your [sic] chose to pretend “WP Voice staff” posted the comment when in fact you did not.
The story would include a link to my actual blog post referenced but not linked in the fraudulent post: http://www.winterparkperspective.org/2017/06/02/no_trees_lots_of_concrete_no_park_lots_of_money/.

I certainly hope you come to better understand your responsibility as a paid commentator.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Enter: The First Amendment Foundation

Although I never personally responded to any of Weldon’s emails, I did seek assistance from the First Amendment Foundation.

On June 20, First Amendment Foundation President, Barbara Petersen wrote to Mr. Weldon advising that, as an elected official and public figure, his correspondence constitutes public record. Since Mr. Weldon sent the emails to the Voice editor, they were obtained lawfully and the Voice has the right to publish them. As editor of the Winter Park Voice, I am a journalist protected by the First Amendment.
[To read the full text of the First Amendment Foundation letter to Mr. Weldon, click here.]

Weldon Responds to F.A.F.

From: Pete Weldon <pete.weldon@cityofwinterpark.org> To: Barbara Petersen <Sunshine@floridafaf.org>
Cc: anne mooney <annemooney@earthlink.net>
Subject: RE: Letter from FAF concerning emails to Anne Mooney, editor, Winter Park Voice
Date: Jun 20, 2017 7:06 PM
Barbara,

It is indeed humorous to receive your letter!

I am a supporter of the sunshine law and take it very seriously. I feel badly that you took your time to write a two page letter informing me of what I already know and act upon.
I never questioned anyone’s right to re-publish anything.

It is Ms. Mooney’s sanctimonious request for you to question my requests to her that should receive your attention. Ms. Mooney has a long track record of pretending to provide “news” to Winter Park residents when the facts are clear that she is purely a political actor, offering commentary and writing on subjects only supportive of her positions, and those of residents who confidentially fund her. While legal, there is nothing transparent in the “Sunshine” sense about anything Ms. Mooney writes or distributes. She blatantly coordinates behind the scenes with commissioners and others to push out emails and blog posts timed and designed to promote a political agenda (exactly the back room dealing the Sunshine Law is intended to prevent). Her request to you to admonish and question me about transparency and the sunshine law is the laughable height of hypocrisy.

You are being used.

Here are the facts:

On or about June 2nd someone posted a copy of an email I wrote as a comment on Ms. Mooney’s blog. There is no problem in duplicating what I wrote, provided the person posting the comment identify themselves and note that they are copying my email. The problem is that this comment was shown as being placed on the blog by me under my name, when in fact I did no such thing. Further, the comment was something I would never have offered on Ms. Mooney’s blog. Someone fraudulently used my name as the person posting the comment. The content of the comment is not in question. Fraud includes a person or thing intending to deceive others. Someone, perhaps Ms. Mooney but she has not come forward, posted the comment pretending to be me, thereby intending to deceive others that I in fact posted the comment when I did not.

Shortly after, someone commented on the comment falsely ascribed to me, indicating that the commenter either believed I had posted the comment or was the person posting the comment using my name, and did so to create a context to provide their comment.

Sometime recently, at least 10 days after I brought this to Ms. Mooney’s attention, without responding to me, Ms. Mooney changed the author text of the comment to read, “Emailed to residents by Peter Weldon and posted here by WP Voice staff June 2, 2017 at 4:20 pm.” Which is false. Ms. Mooney conveniently removed my name as the author of the post many days after the actual posting, not on June 2nd. All those reading the post prior to Ms. Mooney’s edit were misled and Ms. Mooney has done nothing to correct the record. She has either committed or abetted fraud, or both.

My apologies on behalf of Ms. Mooney for wasting your time.

Regards, Pete Weldon

A Masterplan to Nowhere

Guest Columnist – Charley Williams

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

A Masterplan to Nowhere

One week ago, the Winter Park City Commission voted 3-2 to move forward with the sale of a gateway property contiguous to one of the city’s benchmark parks: MLK Park, future site of the new Library/Events Center complex. The 1.5 acre parcel, known as the Bowling Alley property, could have become a functional green space entranceway to our city. But a gateway argument did not capture this Commission’s imagination.

Illustration Courtesy of Michael Planning

Citizens are now left with serious questions about how all our expensive studies, workshops and summary reports can come together to form a cohesive plan for parks, ball fields, green space, partnerships, trails and connectivity, supported with the necessary implementation budget.

Our Parks Masterplan (2008 Wade-Trim) is now 10 years out of date. This is the document which should be guiding our next steps, not only with current decisions surrounding MLK Park, but all our future parks discussions. First things first.  Let’s hope the City Commission adopts a budget for this badly needed roadmap (estimate: $120,000) and expedites implementation. We are coming late to this party.

If you are not familiar with the 2008 Parks Masterplan, I invite you to take a look: Scroll down to the very bottom of the page:
https://cityofwinterpark.org/departments/parks-recreation/administration/publications/

Other questions which merit attention: Will Winter Park have a “Great Park” one day? Where is that plan?  What is the vision? What green space parcels has the City acquired in the past 2 years? 4 years? 6 years? Are we keeping pace with need and more importantly, with our required 10 acres of park space/per 1,000 resident formula, now that our population has reached 30,000?

The 2008 Parks Masterplan states that “seventy-nine (79) acres of additional parkland are required by 2028 (note: that’s in 10 years) to meet existing and projected demand for parks and recreational facilities” (Recommendation 3.1).

Where will this new park land come from? At what price?

According to Wade-Trim, “The estimated cost to meet projected demand for parkland by 2028 is $41.3 million. This would require approximately $13.1 million of land acquisition every 5 years, or approximately $2.6 million annually.” (Section 7.2, Estimated Costs Associated with Projected Demand)

The report also highlights an 8 multi-purpose playing field deficit for our children by 2028. (Recommended Action 3.4)

And let’s not forget this recommendation. “City of Winter Park Parks and Recreation Masterplan should be updated at least every 5 years to reflect any shift in development trends and desires of the community.” (Recommended Action Step 3.5)

It would appear that we are making decisions in a vacuum. The budget for the MLK Park future usage exercise with GAI consultants is in the range of $50,000 in CRA monies. Yet there is apparently no cross-reference with our own Winter Park Parks Masterplan needs and capacity issues, because it is 10 years out of date.

Interesting as well, our Winter Park Vision plan was submitted on June 9, 2016, and has been sitting on a shelf for the past year. Why pay $200,000 for a plan we are not going to fund or implement? Are these exercises meant to be moot?

Said the Cheshire Cat to Alice, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
From ‘Alice in Wonderland’
By Charles Lutwidge Dodgson writing under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.

Charley Williams provides the marketing for a local civil engineering firm working on such infrastructure projects as Sunrail, Wekiva Parkway, I-4 and the new South Terminal at Orlando International Airport. He has been a Winter Park resident for twelve years. 

Bowling Alley Gets the NOD

For Sale Sign Goes Up

Bowling Alley Gets the NOD

Pleas of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and the citizens to move more slowly fell on deaf ears Monday night as Commissioners voted 3 to 2 to put up the For Sale sign on the bowling alley property at 1111 W. Fairbanks.

A 20-foot setback along Fairbanks will be retained to build a turn lane onto 17-92. The property is zoned C-3 commercial. According to Planning Director Dori Stone, the City will exclude proposals for banks, fast-food restaurants and automobile services (gas stations, repair shops, etc.) at this location.

City ‘Pre-Marketing’ the Property

The Notice of Disposal (NOD) will be publicly advertised, and bids are due 30 days from the publication date. The city realtor, Bobby Palta from CBRE, noted there was already considerable interest in the property, and that the City had been doing some “pre-marketing for the past couple of weeks” with various developers.

The property is appraised at $2.96 million, which will be the minimum bid price – $60,000 more than the City paid when they bought it from Rollins in 2016. The Commissioners will, however, maintain flexibility in their choice, giving preference to plans that include less tangible assets like tree planting and additional green space.

Skipping Steps in the Process

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper expressed her discomfort with the process by which the Commission arrived at the decision to sell. She noted the process had gone from the public GAI workshops to the Commission without first going through the advisory boards. During the GAI public meetings, the bowling alley property was not supposed to be part of the discussion, but actually played a prominent role in the discussion that occurred at both meetings. Cooper suggested the decision to sell the land be tabled and returned to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board so they could bring their recommendations back to the Commission at a later date.

‘There’s Still Much We Don’t Know’

Cooper enumerated new pieces of information which the Commissioners had not had a chance to factor into their decision. As examples, she cited the GAI public workshops and the letter from the Parks & Rec Board requesting the City not move to sell the property. P&R letter

She noted other information the City doesn’t have yet, like an evaluation of the storm water retention requirements that will be created by the new library-event center, and new corridor design standards for West Fairbanks, which have yet to be completed.

Premature Decision

“From my perspective,” said Cooper, “we are premature, we have not utilized our boards and we are not listening to the requests of our citizens.”

Involve DOT

Commissioner Greg Seidel proposed Commissioners delay the sale to give them time to involve the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT). Instead of assuming an extra turn lane is the best solution, FDOT could do an intersection control evaluation at Fairbanks and 17-92 to give the City the benefit of their expertise. Seidel argued that the City could work to persuade DOT to prioritize a determination about what technology would be most appropriate at that location.

Cooper’s motion to table, for no time certain, failed for lack of a second. Greg Seidel then moved to table for a time certain of three months. His motion was seconded by Cooper, but failed on a 3-2 vote.

‘What’s the Rush?

Public comment, with one exception, opposed selling the property before there was a chance to weigh the consequences of this action. Former Mayor Joe Terranova pointed out, “We don’t need that cash money now. You’re going to make payroll the next time it comes around.”

Terranova went on to note, “We still don’t know what the 800-pound gorilla in the northwest section of the park is going to do,” referring to the library-event center for which there are, as yet, no plans. “How can we say what the rest of the park is going to be like, and that we don’t need that piece of land?”

‘Just How Serious Are You?’

Beth Hall argued for the aesthetics of a major City gateway. “I wish I could count the number of times I have heard the Commissioners discuss their desire to improve the Fairbanks corridor and the western gateway to the city,” said Hall. “Your efforts have run the gamut from spending large sums to improve sewer and utilities on the artery to making zoning changes to encourage development. I’d like to ask: just how serious are you?”

Don’t Resign it to Mediocrity’

“Wouldn’t converting this site to parkland further your mission?” she asked. “Adding the land to the park would signal a paradigm shift in the way our City views this gateway. Don’t resign it to mediocrity. Elevate it. Please reverse your decision to sell the land.”

‘Commercial Land — Never Meant to be a Park’

In an email sent the day following the Commission meeting, Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel explained the rationale behind the vote to sell the bowling alley property. “The city purchased the property for the turning lanes,” she wrote, “did not use park acquisition dollars and never intended to turn that piece of commercial property into parkland.”

Need to Build Back the Reserves

In answer to the question of why the Commission had not sought the input of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Sprinkel wrote, “The boards have a charge and since this was commercial property used for traffic alleviation it was not considered part of their [Parks & Rec] charge. The 3 million dollars returned to the fund [the City’s General Fund] will allow wp [sic] to continue their strong 20-25% reserves,” reserves that may play an important role in the next election cycle.

MLK Park Master Planning Still Underway

Bob Bendick pointed out that the City is in the midst of creating a Master Plan for MLK Park, and that the decision to sell land that is contiguous to the park is premature.

“Thinking has also evolved about parks planning,” said Bendick, “including the need to go beyond direct recreation needs and to better integrate parks, open space and pedestrian and bicycle transportation into the fabric of communities.”

Missed Opportunity

Bendick noted a reasonable desire among some Commissioners to recoup funds spent to purchase the bowling alley property, but cautioned that once sold for commercial development, the opportunity to incorporate the land into the park would likely be gone forever.

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