Fur Flies Over Library Location

Stack of Legal Documents Grows

Fur Flies Over Library Location

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On September 9, the Save Our Library WP Political Action Committee filed suit requesting the court to overturn the City Commission’s approval of the City Clerk’s Certificate of Insufficiency of Petition.

PAC Sues the City to Accept Petition

Save Our Library PAC members circulated a petition proposing an ordinance to prohibit a library from being built in Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Park. They gathered the required number of signatures, had the signatures certified by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, and presented the petition to the City. The Winter Park City Clerk declined to accept the petition on grounds that it was “insufficient.”

Referendum Ordinance or Petition Ordinance?

The Clerk’s finding of “insufficiency” was based on the claim that the petition represented a referendum ordinance rather than a petition ordinance. Basically, a referendum ordinance calls for the repeal of an ordinance the City has already passed – in this case, the $30 Million bond referendum. An initiative ordinance seeks to adopt a new ordinance – in this case, that no library may be built in MLK Park.

WPPL Trustees Speak Out

An “Open Letter to the Winter Park Community“ from the Board of Trustees of the Winter Park Public Library states, in part, “Efforts to halt the construction of the library in Martin Luther King, Jr., Park ARE actions against the new library.” The Trustees’ letter continues, “They [the efforts] are also significant in that they are an attempt to overturn the results of an election by eliminating the only viable site for the library-events center project. . . .”

For the full text of the letter, click here.

The Library will launch an e-newsletter to keep citizens informed on the library progress. Readers may subscribe by going to the wppl.org website.

City Sues State & WP Taxpayers for Bond Validation

Meanwhile, the City has sued the State and all Winter Park property owners, requesting the court validate the issuance of bonds for the purpose of building a library, events center and related parking structure. Although both the ballot language and the public notices that preceded the election were silent as to the location of this structure, the City has proceeded assuming the location was generally understood, and has included language specifying the MLK location in its Amended Complaint for Validation.

Legal Question? or Political Question?

Today, Assistant State Attorney Richard Wallsh filed a Motion to Strike Portions of Amended Complaint and a Motion to Vacate Order to Show Cause, asking the Court to strike references to the MLK Park location in the City’s Amended Complaint that seeks validation of the bonds. (Case No. 2016-CA-6063-0, Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida, in and for Orange County, Florida)

In Paragraph 7 of his Motion to Strike Portions of Amended Complaint, Wallsh writes: “The selection of MLK Park as the construction site was never a portion of said ordinance or referendum. The inclusion of the site is not a proper subject for determination by this court. . . . That is a political issue for the city to resolve.”

Wallsh continues, “Plaintiff city is overreaching in its attempt to obtain judicial imprimatur for a hotly contested political decision regarding the location of the project for which bonds have been sought to finance.”

Hearing Set for October 20

Wallsh has requested the court either set a hearing for his motion prior to October 20 or move the October 20 date forward.

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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12 replies
  1. Stop the Mischief says:

    Commissioners are playing with the City Clerk’s office like kids with a new toy. On the agenda for approval at Monday’s City Commission meeting is an ordinance change that moves the qualifying deadline back for those candidates seeking Commission Seat # 2 in the upcoming election (currently held by Sarah Sprinkel) by almost three weeks.

    If approved, any candidate who “didn’t get the memo” and who in good faith brings their completed filing papers to the City Clerk 35 days ahead of the February City election (like the existing ordinance says) will be told, “What do you mean you didn’t know the new rule is 57 days? You don’t qualify to be on the ballot. Try again next time.”

    You’d think Commissioners would have more respect for the City Clerk and her office (and the residents) than to incessantly abuse them for their own political devices.

    Reply
    • Ellie Warner says:

      Stop the Mischief: Why not use your name? You obviously have important info to impart about rampant abuse and we could all thank you personally. Why so shy?

      Reply
      • Jonathon Stapleton Wigglesworth-Windsor IV says:

        You’ve really got to wonder about anyone more concerned about DOX’ing commentators than addressing any real substance whatsoever. Automatic fail.

        Reply
  2. Laurel says:

    I am so dreadfully sick and tired of this. It was abundantly clear the intended location. The voters voted!

    This is the most proper location to bring about the most benefits to the community. I want our little ones to have a lovely library right beside the playground and ball fields. Our young families are so in favor of this!

    Where else shall we locate the library that hasn’t already been ruled out due to cost, size, or suitability?

    The current location is alongside a busy thoroughfare near a hotel that will surely grow. And how to fit a library and events center on such a small lot?

    Near City Hall might be convenient for some, but would require an enormous parking garage and a big block structure of a library and events center right next to the railroad tracks, which is not ideal at all for noise or for little ones!

    What about the Post Office site? Besides being extremely expensive to acquire, surely the same individuals worried about MLK Park would also oppose a busy and large structure to replace the existing postal building?

    It is all so silly! I will be very happy when they lose their ridiculous lawsuit and meanwhile I will NOT thank them for wasting taxpayer money in pursuit of their narrow-minded interests!

    Reply
      • Laurel says:

        When you elect a politician or vote for a constitutional amendment as we just did a few weeks ago,,the implications of policy and outcomes to follow are not word for word on the ballot either. But as a responsible voter, you research and understand what you are voting upon.

        Reply
        • John Dough says:

          Laurel,

          Sorry for the inconvenient FACTS.

          Laws are made using very specific language.

          When you vote, you are voting for the item as stated – nothing more & nothing less. I’ll wager that the court will see it the same way.

          Of over 10,000 ballots cast, the issue went pro-library by 214 votes 1.1%) – hardly a landslide. The voters spoke, but 48.9% said NO.

          I know that you want this to go your way, but the facts are that the ballot item did not specify a location, and so the opponents have a valid point.

          Voters have no obligation to be “responsible,” just eligible. They are presented with information on the ballot, and they make their choice accordingly. The City Commission was intentionally vague, and now are paying the price for that decision.

          I bet that if the MLK location was on the ballot, the issue may not have passed in the first place.

          If the voters are that motivated to pass this project, then simply put it back on the ballot with all the details, and see what happens.

          I’ll still be solidly in the “no” camp.

          Reply
  3. NIMBY-10stepper says:

    I’m no lawyer, but if the ballot didn’t specifically state MLK park, then the voters didn’t specifically vote for MLK park. I was about to vote for the library initiative until I found out the truth didn’t match the ballot wording, nor the simplistic signs to vote Yes for the library. I don’t like deceit even if it’s for good intentions. Why not be transparent? Then to be told We should have known? Well only those of us involved in the process maybe, the ballot was intentionally dumbed down to be a feel good vote for something we all care about. It’s an insult and hope the courts rule as such! I still believe in the new library but let’s put entire package ( trade deal ) on the table once this gets kicked back to voters.

    Reply
  4. Non Fiction says:

    It appears that the Library Trustees have been spending too much time in the Fiction section again.

    Imagination is all well and good. But when basic facts about what voters saw on the ballot are imagined by those who are entrusted with a very important aspect of our children’s education, it might not be a bad idea to check the card catalog and make sure nobody over there has shuffled the Fiction section into the parts of the Library that people come to rely on for factual information.

    Residents expect certain things from the Library Board. Hallucinations are not one of them.

    Reply
    • Ed Sabori says:

      Dear Non Fiction, I could have sworn that I was not hallucinating as I sat through endless discussions over a 2-3 year period listening to the Library Trustees as they reviewed all the issues and recommendations, including the cost associated with each of the different location options.

      In terms of hallucinations, be assured that my penned name is really me and not a figment of my imagination.

      Reply
      • John Dough says:

        Congratulations, Ed. Your cardboard cookie is in the mail.

        Unfortunately, the ballot is the thing that’s legally binding, so all of that other stuff is irrelevant.

        Sorry. Laws can be so inconvenient sometimes, just ask the Mayor and his cronies.

        Reply

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