Winter Park-Maitland Observer Pulls 'Misleading Mailer' Article

Winter Park-Maitland Observer Pulls ‘Misleading Mailer’ Article

The Winter Park-Maitland Observer has removed from their website an article, published the week of March 6, that was referenced in a Letter to the Editor of the Winter Park Voice yesterday.

In an email to Commission candidate Wes Naylor, the Observer’s new owner, editor and CEO, Matt Walsh, wrote: “After extended discussions with Executive Editor Mike Eng, and given the late hour, I requested the story regarding your mailer be removed from the Winter Park/Maitland Observer website.”

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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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30 replies
  1. Vote Smart says:

    They seemed to pull it as a favor to Mayor Leary, who was caught lying in his online comment that was in response to the article on The Observer website.

    Pulling an article is not the same as a retraction. The Observer never issued a retraction. The Observer never said that Naylor didn’t mislead the voters. The Observer simply pulled the article from website after almost a week of it being on there.

    Almost all articles disappear from the front page after about a week anyway.

    Naylor is acting like he just won the potato sack race at the county fair because the article was pulled late last night. But the only thing Naylor won was more votes for Seidel. Naylor wasted valuable time fighting the local newspaper while Seidel was out campaigning, busy scooping up votes. And now Naylor looks pretty silly. If he didn’t like the article, he could have simply ignored it. But by drawing attention to it like some kind of infant, now almost everyone in town already read it. Nobody’s making up their mind today who they will vote for anyway. And today is the first day the article doesn’t appear on the website. Really dumb campaigning on Naylor’s part. REALLY dumb. We need a SMART commissioner.

  2. Election Analysis says:

    THE MAKING OF A COMMISSIONER 2017 – How Seidel Came From Behind to Win

    Former Navy Captain Wes Naylor’s strategy all along was to capitalize on his military service by scaring Winter Park’s senior citizens about crime. He also leveraged his Republican Party affiliation to win the support of voters who like to vote along party lines (Seidel is not a member of any political party). Naylor was able to talk real estate and development interests in Winter Park into making very large campaign contributions by convincing them that he would be their best friend if elected. And at least 50% of Naylor’s votes came from people who would vote for absolutely anyone other than any incumbent City Commissioner, due to “The Great Library Heist” of 2016. This was when commissioners angered residents by refusing a petition of over 2,000 Winter Park residents to bring to a vote preserving MLK Park from development of the proposed 50,000 square foot structure. Naylor was the “hare” who was off to a fast start with every reason to believe he would win.

    This might have been enough for Naylor, had he not deceived the voters by claiming that Seidel is a tax raiser who is soft on crime. That mistake was the prodding Seidel needed, who had rather easily won his last race against former Mayor Gary Brewer. There is no one easier to defeat in Winter Park than any former City Commissioner who chooses to run again for City Commission again after leaving office. They never win once they leave office. Seidel, as in his 2015 race, was like the turtle – slow to start – but quick to adjust to the failings of his opponent.

    About midway, Seidel came up with a campaign strategy that was one for the history books – at least the Winter Park history books – and absolutely brilliant. With no neatly pressed military uniform, dazzled with ribbons, to wow the voters with, Seidel chose very wisely not to play Naylor’s game of beating his chest like Tarzan. Instead Seidel took on the diminutive role of “Local Nerd” in his campaign communications. While some saw this as risky, even crazy, it stunned Naylor, who had positioned his campaign to be mano a mano, in a way he believed would force Seidel on the defensive his entire campaign. That error in judgment was ultimately Naylor’s undoing.

    Now, Seidel was the one forcing Naylor to compete with him in a contest of “Nerdiest” candidate – a contest Naylor could not and would not participate in. Then Seidel doubled down, running as “Local Nerd,” tough on both crime and taxes. So effective was Seidel’s strategy, that it completely reversed Naylor’s 53% to 47% lead in mail-in ballots. Seidel won 60% of the votes cast on Election Day. And although fewer votes were cast at the polls than through the mail, it was enough for Seidel to celebrate his victory Tuesday night.

    Every election has its winners and losers. Here are some of the winners and losers from Tuesday night:

    • Honesty
    • Nerds
    • Neighborhoods & Privacy
    • Motorists & Pedestrians
    • Power Line Vicinity Homeowners
    • Criminals
    • Government Mass Surveillance, Police Militarization, and Federal Bullying
    • Big PACs, Political Parties, and Liars
    • Reckless Developers (Good Developers are not losers)
    • Mayor Leary (2nd Winter Park election in a row that didn’t go his way, and he’s up for re-election next year)

    • Pitt Warner says:

      Another anonymous column. I guarantee this column would be 100% different if the person who wrote had to post their name. Free speech comes with a healthy dose of civic responsibility and civility. This has neither.

      • John Dough says:

        Speaking of “anonymous,” can you please explain this:

        City election records show that the on 2/6/17, Mr. Nayor took $1000 from Cavalier, which, according to SunBiz, is owned by, and shares the same address in Kissimmee as Leary Management Group. Mayor Leary is listed as Vice President of LMG.

        It sure looks like Mayor Leary gave Mr. Naylor $1000 to help him get elected, but didn’t want his own name to show up on Naylor’s published list of contributors.

        Where’s the civility (and transparency) there? Is is common practice for sitting officials to involve themselves in their fellow officials’ elections?

        Just wondering…

        • Pitt Warner says:

          Owning a local business does not prevent a person from donating to a local campaign. You were easily (I hope) able to look up corporate names and I don’t know for sure, but I doubt Steve Leary would assume his donation was intended to mislead. If you’re looking up donation lists, you’re looking up sources. For example, one candidate in the last election took money from a Federal PAC based in Kansas. I tried to get an explanation from the candidate and was told I would be answered. Still waiting, but what does a Federal PAC registered in KS want in WP? Personally, I’d rather have local businesses giving to races than outsiders with no tie to the city, but what can you do? .

          • John Dough says:

            Nice try changing the subject. I assume that you’re referencing Seidel’s $250 that he took from Terracon PAC. That seems like a courtesy donation to a friend in the civil engineering biz, not a real effort to buy favors.

            Wes Naylor, on the other hand, accepted from 21 out of state entities, and multiple in-state ones who want to exert influence over Winter Park elected officials (like the Dog Shooter who gave $5000 and is a self-proclaimed luxury lakefront developer).

            I see “local” businesses, like the multiple LLCs that each gave Naylor $1000, as more dangerous than a Kansas testing lab, because they are much more likely to bring out of scale projects before the board, and ask for help from the politicians they paid real $ to help elect. Can you say pay for play?

            If Mr. Leary wanted Mr. Seidel out so badly, he could have at least been brave enough to be transparent about it.

            You honestly don’t see a problem with this? Wow

      • A Stitch In Time says:

        Mr. Warner, before you flaunt your ignorance any further, you might learn a lesson from history. If you choose to criticize anonymity on blogs, realize that you are also criticizing Pete Weldon, who frequently allowed anonymous comments on his blog, And I might add, not only Pete Weldon do you condemn, but indeed the Founding Fathers of our United States of America, who frequently wrote anonymously so that you can live in a free country today.

        And unless you wish to be quoted during Commissioner Weldon’s next campaign as having attacked his blog, Winter Park Perspective, I suggest you watch this short video and learn what it means to be an American. Because you obviously missed that day at school.

        Your comments are more consistent with King George III than Ben Franklin. Perhaps you’d enjoy life in England better anyway – more government surveillance cameras there.

        • Pitt Warner says:

          I admit to being an Anglophile, but your comment is laughable. Pete has suspended his blog while in office but if you review the history whenever somebody made an anonymous accusation, he called them out. Bigly. I don’t see any counterpoints on here. I think this should be a forum that promotes civility and community. WPV has a responsibility to be fair. Allowing juvenile comments is absurd.

          • Civility says:

            You’d be more credible if you had given your civility lecture to Mr. Naylor. Today, you frankly sound like a sore loser, who thinks the solution is shutting up the winners.

            But, give it time. Next week Leary will be calling you to ask if you can help him meet his $1,000,000 fundraising goal for his 2018 re-election bid. And you’ll be so busy dialing for dollars that you’ll forget all about us.

          • John Dough says:

            Pete also sanitized his blog to prior to running so that voters couldn’t read some of his extreme comments before deciding if he was fit to hold office.

            He used to put some really interesting stuff and nasty attacks out there before he decided to be a politician.

            Just sayin’…

      • Double Standard says:

        When you start including the names of the current owners of the homes you put up for sale in the advertising listings you write for potential buyers, we’ll listen to you.

        But you won’t. Because you know that whoever the current owner is has nothing to do with the utility of the home for a future buyer. And you also know that putting the name on there might put you at a disadvantage. So you write listings and leave off the current owner’s name.

        Likewise, the ideas and viewpoints expressed on this site are valuable on their own, independent of the actual names of the authors.

        As Wes Naylor once said Pitt, “You can’t have it both ways.” You can be a hippopotamus. But don’t be a hypocrite.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Pulled” the article. Hmmmm, where I come from if an article is wrong or misleading a retraction is printed or at the very least another article written to clarify the issue. Makes you think there were some strong arm threat tactics behind the scenes or back room boys club favors called in, doesn’t it???

  4. Woody Bernstein says:

    Somebody got their hand slapped this week ….and so what is the takeaway, folks? That reading certain local ‘newspapers’ is a waste of time….unless you like a rag that only lets you read what the local power brokers approve of you knowing.

  5. Beth Hall says:

    There will be far more for concerned citizens to say, and to do, about the pulling of the Babcock article on “Naylor’s mailers”. But for starters see if for a moment there is any way that you can conceive of visiting the website (or archives) of ANY reputable newspaper because you would like to find a past article. Then imagine that when you put the desired terms in the search bar instead of the article, in it’s place what pops up are the words “The requested page could not be found.” That’s right you can’t do it. You can’t imagine it because -with any reputable newspaper- this could never, would never occur. The article would still be there because that just is not the way reputable newspapers function. What Walsh did was reprehensible. It is the stuff of state controlled media. Retractions are infrequent but they are the appropriate redress for falsely reported stories. That is not what this was. The facts of this story are not in dispute and were appropriately sourced. I contacted Babcock shortly before the story was vaporized into thin air. He stood by it. I cannot begin to even imagine the powerful fight that must have raged between existing Observer staff, Eng, and the new owner. This did not happen gently or soundlessly. I imagine some staffers may even bear “defensive wounds” in the aftermath, figuratively speaking. The resignation word may have been uttered. In sum, Walsh may have won the battle but he certainly lost a great deal more. Credibility, for a paper, is it’s only currency. Do you believe that Walsh’s removal of the article was appropriate? What new filters will Walsh be applying to reportage? What actions ought readers take?

    • Sandy says:

      I could not agree more Beth. The news haters must continually threaten the WPMO finances. It’s a shame a few have so much influence over a media outlet. You can tell Babcock does meticulous research to provide accountability and transparency of politicians when so few bother. I hope Babcock didn’t resign. His bravery and professionalism are assets to the community.

      • Beth Hall says:

        It is clear that someone pressured new WPMO owner Matt Walsh and that Walsh caved to the pressure. Since individual subscriptions don’t support the WPMO we know it had to be advertising revenue pressure or another powerful form of pressure that was brought to bear. And because the Voice was advised of the pulling of the article in some form that included the e-mail to Naylor stating that the article was pulled, how can one possibly conclude that anyone besides Naylor or forces strongly aligned with Naylor were behind that pressure?
        No legitimate newspaper or news outlet would “vaporize” an article once published.
        Matt Walsh has not gotten off to a good start with his newest acquisition in his Observer conglomerate. Anyone know what his reputation is in the other 10 or so Observer towns in FL?

        • Newspapers Not Truthpapers says:

          I believe The Voice is the future of Winter Park political discussion for thinking people.

          The Sentinel axed its editor just before its never ending series of Orlando Pulse articles, combined the jobs of the two top executives responsible for sales and news, and gave the combined to job to the sales guy.

          If you don’t like pseudonyms, don’t read the Sentinel. Because the Orlando Pulse series has more author names than the paper has writers on staff.

          Now, The Observer has been sold to a company that says its “mission” is, “To inspire our communities with extraordinary local content and to help our partners prosper.” Note what’s missing: to tell the readers the truth about what’s really going on in local government.

          When you go to church, you hear the truth. When you read the newspaper, you’re reading stories, some of which may be more or less true, depending on the owner and how much money and/or power the owner can get by inclining your thinking towards a particular agenda.

  6. Anonymous says:

    If Naylor was truly a Renaissance man independent of either side he would’ve attacked Seidel’s support of the library and reminded voters of being screwed by Steve Leary’s 13th hour plot – after the referendum passed – steering everyone not to give the residents the opportunity to vote on a location. He also denied Cooper’s motions to include the location on the ballot early on. Proof positive he’s as dishonest as they come.

    Naylor lost me when he started campaigning he was all about reasonable growth yet he gladly accepted donations from the biggest development violators in the city.

    People are tired of getting screwed by Leary’s administration of big boxes, traffic gridlock and the city’s cover up of crime. Naylor promised more of the same if you looked closely – strongmen government lead by thugs.

    • Pitt Warner says:

      “as dishonest as they come”. “biggest development violators in the city” “getting screwed by Leary’s administration of big boxes, traffic gridlock and the city’s cover up of crime. Naylor promised more of the same if you looked closely – strongmen government lead by thugs.” Why is this nonsensical rambling allowed? This is promoting a wonderful civic dialogue? Disgraceful!

      • John Dough says:


        The proof is in the pudding.

        Let’s see how the commission votes on the New England and Orchard Park projects.

        If these projects are allowed to move forward (probably with 3-2 votes) with the major parking deficits and other warts, then the voters will know which members of the commission are upholding the spirit of our laws, and which are bending to the will of the developers, citizens be damned. Property Rights!

        Winter Park residents (you know, the people who actually live here) are finally starting to pay attention to what goes on at down at City Hall. Business as usual is now under scrutiny.

        Maybe some day it won’t be as easy as hiring Becky Wilson to scare commissioners with the threat of lawsuits any time you want to build without regard to planning and zoning rules.

        • Pete Weldon says:

          Dear Mr. “Dough,”

          I have enjoyed reading all the comments here. For the record, I like Greg Seidel, He is a truly decent person and so is Wes Naylor. I wish Greg success in his term as our commissioner. The only disagreement I have with Greg is on a few policy issues, which is all we really do on the city commission.

          I also want you to know that, among other false statements above, your assertion that I “sanitized” Winter Park Perspective prior to running last year is a complete falsehood. I have intentionally left every word ever written so that citizens and have the complete picture. It is called transparency and you insult me by claiming otherwise.

          Your comments are typical of the suspicious and nonconstructive residents who choose to hide their lack of knowledge and their unwillingness to actually talk about the substance of issues by, well, hiding.

          Feel free to contact me at pete.weldon@cityofwinterpark,org should you choose to actually engage in something constructive.

          • $$$ says:

            For the record, losing candidate Naylor listed on his Campaign Treasurer’s report filed with the City, on March 1, 2017 two VERY interesting contributions totaling $2,000.

            One thousand dollars each from Peter Weldon TTEE, and Frances Weldon.

            Occupation listed is “Retired.” Does this mean he won’t be voting at the next meeting?

          • Curious says:

            Anybody know what the “few” policy issues he’s talking about are?

            Did he really think Naylor would agree 100% on everything with him for the next three years?

          • Millage Mania says:

            I seriously doubt that if Commissioner Weldon drew an opponent in the next election who told everyone that Weldon was a tax raiser, simply because Weldon voted AGAINST the 4.09 milage rate, that Weldon would describe his opponent as “decent.”

            Weldon, quite courageously I might add, and correctly in my opinion, has voted AGAINST the 4.09 millage rate recently. Kudos to Commissioner Weldon for understanding that Winter Park’s millage rate is too high.

            Weldon, as the only commissioner with financial expertise (he’s a Chartered Financial Analyst), could provide the leadership that is missing on the City Commission regarding financial matters. And if he’s a little more persistent and a little more diplomatic, both the City’s finances and the residents’ checkbooks could be the winners, with quality of life not a loser!

            Cities with red light cameras are obviously financially mismanaged. Putting the public at risk of rear end collisions due to sudden acceleration at yellow lights, or slamming on the brakes at yellow lights, to avoid the dreaded red light camera fine, is both irresponsible and immoral. A million dollars in revenue to plug budget waste is no reason to create traffic chaos in the city. Of note, Seminole County and all of its cities has not even a single red light camera, yet it has fewer accidents, and manages its finances just fine.

          • John Dough says:

            Dear Pete,

            Why did you and your spouse give Wes Naylor $2000 for his campaign?

            Sure, nothing is illegal about it, but comes across as kind of tacky.

            At least you had the courtesy to put your name on your donation, unlike Mr. Leary, who tried to hide his donation to Naylor with an LLC.

  7. "V" Winter Park Day! says:

    Cat really caught Mayor Leary’s tongue Monday at the swearing in of Commissioner Seidel.
    The mayor uncharacteristically had few words to say.

    I suppose it would have been too much to ask for Leary to declare Monday as “Victory in Winter Park Day” in honor of Commissioner Seidel’s stunning victory at sea a couple of weeks ago against Leary’s hand picked candidate.


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