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Just the Facts
January 4, 2015

An engineer has to know the difference between what is real and what is pretend.

That’s why Mr. Seidel’s candidacy is a welcome addition to this race.

Delusions and engineering don’t mix.

Nor should wild imaginings and public service.

Consider these recent examples:

1) Today, we have in Winter Park, a City Commission that doesn’t know the difference between a dangerous criminal and a nice old Christian lady quietly reading her Bible on the public sidewalk. The Commissioners have been running up a mighty hefty cost to the taxpayers since 2012 by making up an ordinance then to give them an excuse to prosecute the sweet old lady, later losing a challenge to the same ordinance in federal appeals court, and continued harassment of the lady and her companions to this day. In 2014 the Winter Park City Commission paid $300,000 for litigation, an undisclosed portion of which was used to unlawfully, and shamefully, prosecute peaceful public Bible reading in Winter Park.

2) We currently have a City Commission who thinks that the new government surveillance cameras protect us, even though all the evidence shows rising crime and traffic accidents since the creepy cameras were installed both here and in other cities that have installed them.. Florida cities without the cameras report a decline in crime and Florida crime overall is at a 43 year low while Winter Park’s crime rate is rising in recent years. What gives Winter Park Commissioners the right to spy on Winter Park’s 29,000 residents who have done nothing wrong? There is also an indisputable cause and effect link to rising traffic accidents and red light cameras. Not only do red light cameras cause dangerous rear end collisions at the red light camera intersections as they force drivers to slam on the brakes or accelerate dangerously through the intersection to avoid the gigantic ticket given for a perfectly safe but miniscule fraction of a second technical driving maneuver violation, but th e red light cameras are also having the effect of diverting traffic to more dangerous intersections that may have only a stop sign or not even that as drivers increasingly avoid the predatory red light camera intersection altogether, choosing more dangerous routes to get to their destination than they did before the cameras were installed.

3) We now have a City Commission who thinks that the Orlando Performing Arts Center in downtown Orlando is within the city limits of Winter Park. They said as much, calling it “Winter Park’s Performing Arts Center,” when they approved in September 2014, handing over $1,000,000 of Winter Park residents’ taxpayer money to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to bail out their cronies in the failed over development boondoggle that almost no Winter Park resident will ever set foot in. No other city in Florida except Orlando has given even one cent to Buddy Dyer’s Performing Arts Center, but Winter Park residents’ paid more dollars in real estate taxes this year so that our Commissioners could indirectly give it to their cronies and hope we wouldn’t notice the money missing from needed public services.

I have never met Mr. Seidel. But I have to think that if elected, someone with an engineering background such as himself could provide a much needed understanding of reality to what has become a City Commission that has far too often has lost touch with reality and the interests of the residents of Winter Park.

Cookie Butter
January 7, 2015

Mr. Seidel is a welcome candidate to the Commission seat vacated by Mr. Leary. I have to agree with the poster above who questions whether there was an imaginary candidate in this race. Just yesterday right AFTER the polls had closed we learned the other contender vying for the seat against Gary Brewer had dropped out of the race which, without Mr. Seidel, would’ve left that seat unopposed.

Gary Brewer
January 8, 2015

Dear Mr. Facts, or would you prefer I use your given name, “Just The”? As chairman of the Winter Park Civil Service Board I take exception to your comments about surveillance and red light cameras. These tools are very effective in preventing and helping to solve criminal activity. Red light cameras have served to reduce incidents of accidents at intersections where this technology is installed. Survelience cameras on Park Avenue permitted the WPPD to apprehend armed robbery suspects who recently committed assault on New England Avenue. Speed monitor trailers employed near neighborhoods that have experienced a rash of home breaking and enterings often assist in identifying vehicles that seem to often be present when these crimes occur. Times and technology are changing. Modern policing strategies should always be employed to protect our citizens. Handicapping our law enforcement because you don’t like the intrusion only helps the criminal, because believe me they are using every technological advantage available to them. Unfortunately we are not living in Mayberry and Barnie with a bullet in his pocket no longer works. In the future I hope you have the courage to disclose your legal name. If not please keep your comments to yourself.

Just the Facts
January 8, 2015

Thank you Winter Park Voice for allowing the use of pseudonyms to protect residents comments from the abuses of power of the stagnant “old regime” at City Hall. I’ll try to be brief in response to Mr. Brewer’s comment.

Well, I guess Mr. Brewer’s comment provides a glimpse of how Mr. Brewer may respond in the future to any concerned citizen on any issue of importance to residents should he be elected Commissioner. The kind of dismissive, rude, and inaccurate retort is characteristic of a desperate candidate more interested in attacking anyone who may disagree with is views, than in admitting obvious problems and exploring responsible public policy solutions. Notice how Mr. Brewer boasts about his long time position on the Civil Service Board, but fails to back up his flimsy arguments with any actual facts such as changes in NUMBER of crimes and NUMBER of accidents (all which have gone up) in Winter Park since the creepy cameras were installed. It’s all part of the smoke and mirrors strategy which is: Don’t anyone look at the facts, just scare the residents that if the cameras go away like they were gone before crime and accidents started going up in Winter Park that the boogey man will come to eat everyone in town. It’s small consolation to the senior citizen who was attacked in downtown Winter Park that a “suspect” was identified by a camera. The point is, why was she attacked at all in what is promoted by Winter Park politicians to be a “safe” area because of their new government surveillance cameras? It’s quite obvious to residents that when the cameras went up (without any public notice to residents) that the criminals see the presence of government surveillance cameras as a white flag of surrender to the criminal element – that the City had abandoned sound principles of public safety and instead chose a risky course to act as if silly cameras could protect anyone. And that’s why crime has gone up in Winter Park. The same pattern is repeated almost everywhere similar government cameras are installed. They’ve never stopped a crime anywhere. Look no further than the City of Orlando which has the same camera infatuation and the same rising crime since they were installed.

When one reviews the minutes of the Civil Service Board that Mr. Brewer noted in his comment that he chairs (available to anyone on the City’s website under the “Government” tab), one can clearly see, that Mr. Brewer has been asleep at the switch as Chair, failing the residents he was appointed to serve. The minutes indicate, plain as day, that Mr. Brewer has never used his position to conduct the kind of rigorous and transparent citizen oversight of the City’s public safety function mandated by the City Charter. Instead the minutes appear more like a mutual admiration society where those in attendance present awards to one another and tell everyone in attendance what a great job they are doing (that is when the Board does anything at all which is rare according to the minutes). That’s not a service to the residents of Winter Park nor to those who serve the City in a public safety function who depend on constructive criticism and insight to do a better job.. All deserve better.
Residents want more accountability in their government.

And that may be the real reason for Mr. Brewer’s defensiveness. Perhaps, should he lose the election, he could seek a position with the government surveillance camera business because by his comments, he’s obviously bought into their slick pitch. Should he win the election, he might want to work on his insistence that concerned citizens of Winter Park should just shut up. The United States Constitution First Amendment guarantees the right of every citizen freedom of speech for redress of grievances with their government.

To see Mr. Brewer’s approach to crime, one needs to go no further than his campaign website. His primary goal as stated on his campaign website (as of today) is continued accreditation of the police department. Not reducing crime. Not the safety of residents. Not responsible management of public funds in what is the largest budget line item in the City. Not Constitutional law enforcement. For Mr. Brewer, it’s all about pleasing an outside accrediting organization which represents no Winter Park residents. But apparently an organization that the government surveillance camera business enjoys a very profitable relationship with.

Gary Brewer
January 8, 2015

Dear Ms or perhaps Mr. Butter,

I welcome Mr. Seidel to the race for Winter Park City Commission Seat 1. I agree with you. No public office should go unopposed because that does damage to our republic form of government. I applaud any citizen who is willing to offer their candidacy for election to public office. I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Seidel, but shall attempt to remedy that in the near future before the campaign begins to unfold. When Ms Shamback and I announced our intention to seek this office I invited her to have lunch so we could get to know each other better. I was disappointed that she elected to withdraw from the campaign. She called me the morning before she announced her decision. She informed me that after Mr. Seidel entered the race she believed it would not afford her adequate time to advance her campaign before a February 10th primary election. We had a cordial conversation and later on my Facebook page I encouraged to seek office again in the future. She in turn offered her support to my campaign and wished me luck. I believe our political relationship is a good model for political discourse in this country. I for one am troubled by the polarization of politics in America today. I believe I have the background and experience to fulfill the role of City Commissioner and I suspect Mr. Seidel believes his credentials prepare him to do the same. The decision lies with each citizen who cast their ballot on March 10. This is what I love about local politics in America. I will be the first to congratulate Mr. Seidel if he prevails and I hope he will do the same. Let the campaign begin.

In the future I hope you will choose to use your legal name when commenting. Speaking your mind without fear of retribution is at the foundation of our democracy in America. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

Franklin Remembered
January 21, 2015

Benjamin Franklin, a founding father of The United States of America, the history books tell us, frequently used pseudonyms. This all started when he was a young man working in a printing shop in Philadelphia. It is said that Franklin used both male and female pseudonyms in his writing.

Were it not for the acceptance of pseudonyms then, it’s entirely possible that we would not have a United States of America today.

The value of a pseudonym, in addition to shielding the writer from unwelcome consequences from those in power, is that it encourages the free expression of ideas, facts, and opinions.

A bad person can have a good idea. And a good person can have a bad idea. It’s only when a pseudonym is allowed that the public has a chance to experience the thought of another without prejudice regarding who the writer may be.

Locally, only the very best media has the courage to allow the use of pseudonyms. The major publication in Orlando recently discontinued the practice, when those writing under a pseudonym were exposing some truths that the publication’s editors did not want the public to know about.

No one need fear pseudonyms, except those who don’t want the sunshine to take over the darkness.

Kudos to The Voice for their pseudonym policy!

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