Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Editors Note: The Voice has received the following letters. First is a response to a post on the Facebook page of “Jim Fitch for Mayor.” The second is a response to City Manager Randy Knight from FL Representative Bob Cortes.

 

To the Editor:

On March 7 at 2:40 pm, Pitt Warner posted to the Face Book page of “Jim Fitch for Mayor.” Although Warner subsequently removed his comment, I still believe it deserves an answer.

Pitt Warner wrote, “If the election cost the city a few thousand $, I’d say let’s indulge you. But $50,000 cost of an election is real money. I see no benefit to you, the city, different factions in WP. A total waste of energy and time.”

We have a Mayor who used a State of the City address to attempt to shame all those who would dare to criticize actions taken during his tenure or to question his priorities and agenda.

Now we see a vocal and ubiquitous supporter of the mayor suggesting that the elections process in Winter Park needs to be curtailed in some way because the $50,000 cost is too great and it is a waste of energy and time.

Is it just me or is there something not only offensive in Mr. Warner’s remarks at the candidate’s FB page, but some darker, more sinister element in the faction that feels emboldened by what they see as a lopsided victory for Leary on Tuesday?

I feel the comments by Pitt Warner are disrespectful, and I believe they seek to undermine the very foundation of the rules by which we live in a free society.

Is the idea that someone must achieve a certain percentage of the vote before they’re entitled to file to run? Is the idea that opposition to a popular mayor ought not be permitted?

Some residents in Winter Park might feel that the donation of $100,000 per year to DPAC is a waste of money. Which expenditure has the most value for the typical Winter Park resident?

Has this always been the political climate in this city? I am taken aback by it.

Thanks for your thoughts if you care to share them with me.

Beth Hall

 

 

In Response to the City Manager

Download Letter as PDF

  • author's avatar

    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.

  • author's avatar

30 replies
      • Pitt Warner says:

        Hey Anne: If you’re not going to post my response to Sally Flyn that I made a few weeks ago, please take this post down. You’re leaving it up there with no response allowed. That’s not fair. (I know you don’t care about being fair, but some of us do care)

        Reply
        • Pitt Warner says:

          Wow! This is a great new site, First Amendment tra la la….

          My response to Ms. Flynn was, more or less, “No, it’s shameful to spend $50,000 of taxpayer money to host a half-baked campaign”. Can’t remember exact words, but you get the gist.

          Reply
  1. For Home Rule says:

    I am disappointed with Representative Bob Cortes’s vote in favor of Governor Scott’s $400 million pork barrel spending scheme which was cleverly disguised as a “school safety” bill. I don’t recall Representative Cortes asking Winter Park residents how they wanted him to vote prior to the bill being speedily railroaded through the Florida legislature last week. Had he asked, he may well have been surprised that Winter Park residents would have preferred legislation that addressed safety in an honest way, without all the theatrics, drama, and heist of such an excessive amount of tax dollars.

    That said, I do believe Representative Cortes has a point about the legislative process regarding home rule. Winter Park City Commissioners pay a lobbyist a lot of money each year to lobby in Tallahassee for the city. If Winter Park sends a letter to residents and asks residents to contact representatives directly to lobby on behalf of city commissioners, what’s the point of paying a lobbyist with Winter Park tax dollars? Is the lobbyist only to be used to advocate for legislation that Winter Park City Commissioners would rather the residents not know about?

    Lessons learned for both State representatives and City Commissioners: Start listening to constituents BEFORE you lobby, legislate, or regulate. If you do you will get better laws, and better results for your constituents. If you don’t, how can you expect people to mark the ballot with your name on Election Day?

    Reply
  2. Anonymous says:

    The candidate has not been available for questions or comments. On his website, he asks for comments with a link to his fb. I’ve left 2 comments on his FB page (not yours or WPV) to let him know what I thought. An earlier comment elicited a response from him . In this case I wanted him to know that $50,000 to run a half-contested election is bad form. (In my opinion). Again, it was on his fb page. I think it’s important for all sides to be heard in a WP election. We take our elections seriously with important issues to be debated. Not giving a chance for your supporters or the opponents supporters to see you think on your feet, deal with tough questions and communicate with residents is not good. Again, just my opinion. Nothing dark or sinister. If you don’t like it, I’m sorry. My solicited comments were left for the candidate. Pitt Warner

    Reply
    • Beth Hall says:

      Pitt,

      Every person has a right to his opinions and to his beliefs. This is without question. The freedom to share one’s thoughts openly is a wonderful hallmark of life in America- and the same is true right here in WP. After all, isn’t this the reason that we all visit the Winter Park Voice website in the first place?

      In truth, you did make a very similar post at the WP Voice FB page about the cost of this election. You will recall that you drew a detailed response on election costs from Pete Weldon at that time. (You deleted that one too.)

      It wasn’t until much later that you posted at the candidate’s campaign FB page that the election was a waste of money and time and served no one.

      The question becomes why you would make the posts at both FB pages and then, after they receive responses, delete them from public view?

      Could it be because you really do know that elections between willing candidates with varying policy positions give people CHOICE?

      I’m thinking that was probably it.

      Thank you for taking the time to reply to my letter. I may not agree with everything you say but I highly value your right to say it.

      Reply
      • Pitt Warner says:

        I’m thinking you missed my point. I want a figurative battle of ideas. IMO, we missed a great opportunity to question the current mayor, a prospective challenger. And a missed opportunity for residents to hear the details of important recent decisions. You’ve got meet people to get their vote. Not debating or providing public access is not campaigning. Again, my opinion.

        Reply
  3. John Dough says:

    Good ‘ole Pitt. Carrying the water for his man, Steve Leary. Give him credit for his consistency.

    Minus points, though for posting and then removing it. Kind of weak for a guy willing to call out others for using pseudonyms.

    What’s that old saying about glass houses? Just sayin’.

    I, for one, am voting for Fitch, so Leary won’t get all the votes. What would Pitt say to all those businesses, LLCs, and PACs who donated the $98,000+ to Leary’s reelection campaign? Well he only spent $25,000, so he is sitting on a nice war chest of $75,000.

    What becomes of the “leftovers $?” HMM…

    Reply
    • Craig DeLongy says:

      Civility and tolerance are the words of the day. In defense of Pitt Warner although he needs none At every opportunity Mr Fitch has not allowed his views to be heard in public. I for one wanted to truly hear how MR Fitch could improve specifically on our present mayor and our commission. I agree with Pitt that if Mr Fitch wanted to truly be relevant than he should have debated and shared his views. Not just obersvations. By carrying on what truly was a limited campaign he did a disservice to the residents of Winter Park A paper tiger if you will. I mean no ill will just this man has been invisible to most Winter Park residents. Have I mis-spoke?

      Reply
  4. Love the Park says:

    Beth:

    I wish you had been Winter Park’s watch dog 10 years ago. David Strong would have beaten Ken Bradley. We would not have suffered under his ill temper and rudeness at commission meetings. We would not be carrying more than our share to the county for SunRail and DPPAC. Nor would we now have Bradley’s heir apparent as our mayor.

    It’s almost laughable that Leary paints himself as the Preserver of Winter Park’s Village character when that image belies his vested development ambitions.

    Reply
  5. Grateful says:

    Many thanks to WPV for publishing Ms. Hall’s letter and Ms. Flynn’s article, and many thanks to Ms. Hall, Ms. Flynn, Mr. Fitch, and other WP community leaders engaging in much needed political discourse.

    If not for this attempt to shame Mr. Fitch for running for mayor, many in my neighborhood would not have known about, thus read Mr. Fitch’s FB page, which is filled with relevant facts, including photographs of high-density projects in WP. His positive, dignified, and professional tone and attitude impressed us.

    It is difficult to fathom why some in the current elected city government want to shut out the political participation of well-informed, educated, richly experienced residents who want to renew WP’s charm, graciousness, and save what is left of WP’s natural and material cultural heritage.

    Reply
  6. Voting Controversy says:

    The Orange County Supervisor of Elections website describes the machine that collects people’s votes on Election Day.

    http://ocfelections.com/votingequipment.aspx

    However, on the official web page, the Supervisor uses the word “process,” and not the word “count” to describe what the machine does with each ballot cast in the election.

    This may seem trivial to some, or simply a synonym – one word meaning the same as the other. But the definition of the two words couldn’t be more different:

    DEFINITIONS

    Process: to carry out operations on (data or programs)

    Count: to check over (the separate units or groups of a collection) one by one to determine the total number; add up; enumerate

    So, were Winter Park’s votes counted – or merely “processed?” If only “processed,” then exactly how was the winner and number of votes determined?

    And why does Orange County “process” Winter Park elections? Why aren’t Winter Park administering Winter Park elections? How do we know who really won?

    In case you hadn’t noticed, there is no “Home Rule” when it comes to elections. And that seems just fine to our City Commissioners, who always seem to get re-elected, even as they insist on Home Rule for tree trimming regulation and other matters that don’t affect their candidacies.

    Reply
  7. Cigar says:

    Something don’t smell right about the election results. Can’t quite put my finger on it though. Just don’t smell right to me.

    The total number of votes cast is low, very low for a Winter Park mayor’s election.

    Ballpark number of votes for an election like this in Winter Park is about 7,000, and yesterday it was about 4,500 give or take.

    When Fitch announced, some of you might remember I chimed in here to opine that he wouldn’t be elected. But that was based on my expectation that the total votes cast would be about the same as in prior Winter Park mayor’s races.

    But in this election, we’re looking at roughly one-third fewer votes cast than in elections past. Very unusual. Very unusual. That’s a huge difference in total votes cast than in past elections. Huge difference.

    When that happens in a race where an incumbent is defending his seat, it almost always means that his support is weak. He just can’t get enough people motivated to take even two minutes to mark the ballot and vote for him. Maybe they don’t vote for his opponent but they don’t vote for him either.

    At 4,500 total votes, I would have had to say that Fitch had the edge. Because what happens in these low turnout races is that the challenger always has the advantage. That’s because there are all the folks who don’t like one thing or another that the current mayor did, and they all show up to vote. And the mayor’s folks didn’t show up in numbers yesterday – at least not in the numbers that have won re-election for Winter Park mayors in past elections.

    Folks, I’m not saying yesterday’s election results are inaccurate. I’m just saying I don’t see how they can be accurate. I know what that sounds like. And I don’t like to hear it myself. But, I’m telling you, I’ve seen Winter Park elections since some of you were still learning to tie your shoes, and this dog don’t hunt.

    Reply
      • Inquiring Mind says:

        Pitt, welcome back. Long time no see, buddy!

        I think Cigar has a point, don’t you? I mean, Pitt, how do you explain the weird tally? Cigar seems almost embarrassed to admit that some time ago he said Fitch would lose. He could have bragged that he was the first to say Fitch would lose and brag he was right and tell us “I told you so,” but he didn’t. Instead, Cigar seems to be very concerned about the integrity of our voting tabulations, because he can’t see much sense in the election results provided by our government.

        If you and your fellow Leary entourage were doing your job, as I’m sure you were, getting every possible Leary voter to the polls, how do you explain the weak turnout for Leary?

        Aren’t you in here every day claiming that Leary’s policies are good for Winter Park? If they’re so good, Pitt, how come Leary got nowhere near the same number of votes he got even three years ago, and nowhere near the number of votes Ken Bradley got when he ran for re-election?

        Old Jimmy Fitch barely broke a sweat on the campaign trail, and your guy Leary still maybe couldn’t even get enough votes to stop an old mule!

        Why is that, Pitt?

        Reply
  8. Community Garden for Winter Park says:

    WP has many residents who work in the real estate, construction, and real estate, construction financing/condo, property management, and mortgage financing industries. Most of those residents probably voted for Mayor Leary.

    He also has a support base among past and present administrative staff at Rollins College and the Alfond Inn.

    He is an affable and well-liked parishioner at St. Margaret Mary, which has a membership in the thousands.

    He also received votes from some vocal followers of WPV who think his administration has been good, except for his attitude towards and dismissal of residents who disagree with his preferential support of some out-of-control developers and realtors, and the Rollins policymakers who pushed the new library project so they can expand the Alfond Inn at the current library site.

    For not campaigning outside of the attendance of a few events and creating a FB page, Mr. Fitch received a great result, around 30 percent of the 20 percent of WP voters who took the time to vote. Although he has not lived in WP long, he and his lovely wife reminded my neighbors of the long-time WP residents who used to live in the Virginia Heights neighborhood during a gracious period in WP history.

    The current elected members of the WP city government seem have no idea how idyllic and cultured WP used to be. They did not experience what those of us who have been here for decades, many since childhood, have experienced: a sense of place and community, oak canopies lining our streets, relaxing parks, Old New England and traditional African American cultural heritage, quiet streets, the calls of peacocks in the evening. WP used to operate small, well-kept buses just for the community, if this memory is not a dream. These memories, roots help fuel the passion of those who want to preserve Winter Park.

    Mayor Leary listened to residents opposing the proposed assisted living facility on Howell Branch, across from Via Tuscany, and some other high-density, high-traffic development in downtown WP. He has a chance to make positive changes by listening more to these longtime residents who are unhappy with the pace, scope of high-density construction in WP, because they and their parents are the ones who created the charm, graciousness, culture and beauty of this community. It didn’t just appear out of nowhere.

    We are still hoping that he might change his mind and support a community garden.

    “Gardens, scholars say, are the first sign of commitment to a community. When people plant corn they are saying, let’s stay here. And by their connection to the land, they are connected to one another.”
    – Anne Raver

    Reply
      • Community Gardens says:

        Yes, the organic community garden at Mead Garden is a good start, along with the faith-based Our Whole Community garden!

        “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

        – Aldo Leopold

        Reply
        • Pitt Warner says:

          If you see any land getting abused in WP, let me know. All I see are private citizens spending thousands of dollars a year on lawn and grounds, city employees spending their whole career in town working on the land for maintenance and beautification. Our city codes for landscaping are pretty good, too.

          Reply
          • In response to WP's Resident Plangloss says:

            “If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?”

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