In Answer to ‘A Letter to Winter Park Residents’Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.
Guest Columnist Peter Gottfried / February 2, 2021
Peter Weldon, a former Commissioner, recently wrote to “fellow Winter Park Residents” outlining his opposition to Phil Anderson’s candidacy for Mayor. Mr. Weldon, as many of you know, ran for City Commission three times. He was elected to one term 2016-2019. He lost in 2008 to Phil Anderson, and again in 2019 to Todd Weaver.
In his recent letter, Mr. Weldon seeks to lay what he sees as the current Commission’s shortcomings at Phil Anderson’s door and to question Anderson’s character in the process. These questionable arguments deserve closer examination.
First, Weldon claims, “the actions of Commission members Weaver, Sullivan and DeCiccio bring Phil Anderson’s judgment into question.” If you think about that even for a minute, you’ll realize it’s a bit of a stretch.
Mr. Weldon wants you to believe that the current Commission . . .
- “Voted to increase the property tax rate 11.5%.”
FALSE: The tax rate (millage) did not change in 2021 and has not changed for 13 years.
- “Voted to “rescind” the Orange Avenue Overlay, changing our Comprehensive Plan in violation of our laws, resulting in legal action against the city (case number: 2020-CA-004388-O).ci”
MISLEADING: Absolutely no laws were violated. In fact, the judge recently granted the City’s motion to dismiss the Orange Avenue Overlay developers’ lawsuits against the City.
- “Spent several hundred thousand dollars for consultants for additional Orange Avenue traffic studies and to plan a design they (the Commission) like for the City owned Progress Point property on Orange Avenue. Their plan has no professional planning input, and they offer no strategic justification for it, nor clarify who they expect will pay for implementation (you?).”
MISLEADING: This statement is very misleading. Professional planning input has been provided at every step through contracts to professional architectural and engineering firms; in addition, many professionals have donated their time, free of cost, to advise the Commissioners during their many work sessions.
- “Commissioners Sullivan and DeCiccio recently voted to spend $2,800,000 from our emergency reserves outside the annual budget process with no planning and they tried to hide the expense by “borrowing” the money from our water and sewer emergency reserves.”
MISLEADING: This is again misleading. First, there was no attempt to ‘hide’ the expense, it was openly discussed and had the support of Mayor Leary. The funds the current commission plans to borrow will be replenished with funds made available from soon-to-be retired bonds for the Public Safety Building. There is some irony in the fact that Weldon supports a mayoral candidate who gave $1million of taxpayer money to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Arts as a “donation.” No other City in central Florida, except the center’s home city of Orlando, gave a penny.
- “Insisted on a “back yard chicken” ordinance. Do you want chickens in your neighborhood?”
TRUE: The chicken ordinance was limited to 25 permits on a limited two-year trial basis. So far, two permits have been granted, a third application is still pending, but as yet, we still have no chickens. As a self-proclaimed property rights guy, Mr. Weldon might have been expected to support such a measure. Backyard chickens are already approved in Orange County, Maitland and Orlando, and all three jurisdictions report no problems so far.
- “Voted to diminish our city’s sovereignty by committing Winter Park’s support to an unaccountable state mandated planning agency.”
FALSE: This regional planning initiative does not in any way affect our sovereignty. It is a Memorandum of Understanding with the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council. It requires no City funding, only cooperative planning efforts. Considering we have approximately 1,000 new residents coming into central Florida every week, why wouldn’t it be prudent to ask for regional planning assistance, especially if it is free? Wouldn’t we want to be a part of the regional planning that directly affects our traffic, roads and water resources?
- “They are now considering spending millions of dollars to buy land on Fairbanks to ‘improve traffic’ without having any idea whether traffic will improve or not.”
MISLEADING: This from the same person who voted to sell City-owned land that was adjacent not only to Fairbanks Avenue but also to Martin Luther King Park. We all know Fairbanks traffic needs improvement, and professional traffic engineering firms are actively assisting the current Commission in their planning efforts.
Thank you Mr Gottfried-
It is a shame that so much time needs to be spent correcting the facts.
Mr. Weldon‘s diatribes sadly serve to mislead and divide our community- when most of us are ready for community unity and facts not fiction. Thank you for setting the record straight in such a clear and straightforward fashion.
Well put, Peter G.
Peter, belated thanks for your past service on the Commission. What a breath of fresh air you offer during these times when false and misleading assertions go unchallenged and are too often accepted as truths. And yes, perhaps a bit of sour grapes attributed to Mr. Weldon’s slanted observations.
I don’t know of any instances that Mr. Weldon spoke negatively of Mr. Anderson’s Character. Please explain where I missed this comment. Thank you, Mary Langley
If Sarah Sprinkel’s Plan for (250,000 new) People is so doggone “brilliant” then why doesn’t she see that using Peter Weldon as the chief spokesman for her plan is counter-productive?
Pete Weldon: Plz spend more time feeding the ducks
Thank you, Peter Gottfried, for promptly addressing and dissecting the disturbing allegations of Peter Weldon!
I encourage the curious to explore the linked documentation at https://winterparkperspective.org.
Dear Pete Weldon, since you seem to feel that you and your opinions/policies are best for the City, why aren’t you running for Mayor?
Perhaps you already know how that would turn out. Batting .333 is great in baseball – in politics, not so much.
One hopes that Mr. Weldon would take up a constructive hobby, since the “PeteWeldonPerspective” blog is neither enlightened or popular with the vast majority of voters of Winter Park. His backing of candidates seem to be their kiss of death in the past few election cycles.
Hardly a uniter, his support of the latest “Uniter” will prove difficult since all 4 current Commissioners are on the “Friends of Phil” list. It is difficult to understand why someone with no support on the Commission would even want to run for Mayor.
Thank you Commissioner Gottfried for your eloquent rebuttal here on the Winter Park Voice.
It is a historic first in Winter Park, Ladies and Gentlemen. A genuine “TWO-FER” from the looks of things. A political BOGO.
In a classic case of BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE !…if you vote for Sarah Sprinkel, judging by the amount of ink Pete Weldon is spilling in an effort to shore up her flagging campaign, you will also be getting Pete Weldon as a bonus gift. No additional charge, just pay shipping and handling.
You know how a really few big bully businesses took over Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and then took over the City Commission for more than a decade?
Well, turnabout is fair play, right?
Here’s an idea . How about somebody contacts everybody who signed a petition in Winter Park that was rejected by those elected to City Commission prior to 2019 and asks them to join the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.
They don’t have that many members. MOST Winter Park businesses ARE NOT Chamber members. You don’t have to be a business to be a Chamber member. You can be an individual and still be a Chamber member. All it would take would be a few hundred people to join up and say, “You know what, we’re going to change things here. Winter Park Chamber of Commerce is going to start working FOR THE RESIDENTS from now on.”
Elect a new board. Name a new CEO. And Bingo. Chamber ceases to be part of the problem and becomes part of the solution.
If the Chamber bylaws prohibit such a change in power, start a NEW Chamber of Commerce – the Winter Park RESIDENTS Chamber of Commerce, and ask the City Commission to cancel the existing Chamber’s lease of the property across from City Hall and move in the RESIDENTS Chamber in its place.
Winter Park residents have been fighting a battle with one hand tied behind their back because they don’t realize the strength they have if they stand up to the bullies who are taking their quality of life away from them every day.
The best defense is a good offense. And the residents have been playing defense for far too long, satisfied with the crumbs of political power, when much more is there for them if they take the bull by the horns.
A video camera (see YouTube link below) at Winter Park Welcome Center, recorded the confrontation between Anderson and Gardner Eckbert immediately following the Friday February 5th mayoral debate.
Though the quality of the video is imperfect, you can clearly see in it both Anderson and Gardner Eckbert.
Contrary to the Chamber of Commerce statement (see link below) about the incident, the video recording proves that Gardner Eckbert never asked Anderson if she was being threatened – not even once. And Anderson doesn’t seem to be behaving in a way that is at all unusual for him.
I am deeply offended by The Voice’s characterization of me as Norman Bates from the Hitchcock movie “Psycho.”
Therefore, today, I announce that as mayor of Winter Park, my first official act will be to sponsor an ordinance prohibiting any media or individual(s) from offending me in this manner ever again, with a maximum fine per occurrence of $500 and a maximum time in jail of 60 days. I have the support of two other Commissioners to make this a 3rd degree misdemeanor – a criminal offense.
Further, today I have directed my attorney to sue The Voice for one hundred fifty million dollars.
Of course, this is not REALLY Phil Anderson writing this, but merely his Desk – a few ordinary pieces of wood fastened together that Phil can put his coffee cup on and slide his chair under when he reads his email. Phil’s Desk thus has no more sense than an armadillo walking into someone’s headlights and couldn’t sue anyone if it tried.
It’s only a story to illustrate that when politicians become offended at residents’ free speech, maybe someone should ask who these politicians REALLY represent.
Electing Sprinkel would a giant move backwards, a signal of willingness to give up all the gains that have been made in handing power back to the residents. Don’t do it!
Sprinkel (and her henchmen) are peddling a false narrative of a dark and scary Chamber debate. Yeah right. Betsy did not cudgel Anderson but she might as well have. Betsy could beat the tar out of Rhode Island.
Planting an incendiary explosive device sort of question meant to harm not just Phil but the entire City Commission was a deliberate and intentional act. It was meant to do grave damage to 4 duly elected people and their reputations.
Voters, run toward the light. It is clear. Anderson is the light. Sprinkel is a step backward. She is the antithesis of fair play.
In addressing the sandbag question posed by some Chamber of Commerce shill, Sarah Sprinkel said she was used to answering tough questions. Really? She can’t even address the blown library budget and the missing parking structure.
The question was tough all right. But it wasn’t tough on Sarah, just on the 4 sitting commission members with whom she would serve if she is elected in March.
It accused all of them of highly improper and illegal behavior.
What was Sarah “The Team Builder’s “response?” She never batted an eyelash. Never furrowed her brow. Accusing other elected officials of illegality was just fine with her. Not worth a mention. She condoned it with her silence.
Maybe it was over her head? OR Maybe this question did not come as a surprise to her. After all, it was the Chamber debate. Not the League of Women Voters. Her allies populated the space.
A lobbyist as a moderator? Neutrality be damned.
Vote for Phil. The only innocent in the room.
In ignoring the reprehensible charges leveled at the City Commission by the Chamber leadership. Sprinkel condoned them. She showed us exactly who she has always been and will continue to be- the willing tool of an agenda behind the curtain.
One can imagine the nature of the relationship she would enjoy with her fellow commission members (the “team” she is always yakking about building) if voters are misguided enough to elect her.
Two observations from this latest little teacup tempest.
1) this town is full of disingenuous pearl-clutchers that feign false outrage for partisan advantage
2) the amount of bitter vitriol and ad hominem smears in just the comments to this thread is nauseating particularly when advanced by those who sufffer from a delusion that THEY are the fair minded, kind, and tolerant citizens. Y’all need to look in the mirror and work on yourselves before tearing down your neighbors.
Don’t be the kind of resident that makes our nice little town a gross and nasty turf war venue. Yeah fat chance I know – you didn’t get to this place in life by being kind and generous to all. See you in church, fakers.
Sweetheart: You must be new to the city. Politics in WP is blood sport. Land is so expensive that developers have to seek ever greater permissions and exceptions. Essentially their efforts end up dividing the village into 2 camps. If you are the least bit squeamish you might want to stay off of any of the platforms that follow political happenings in the city. Cage match fighting on cable might prove a calmer venue if you take offense easily. That or cock fighting in the outskirts.
Wonder how Sprinkel will roll ?
1. In her nine years on the commission, Ms. Sprinkel did nothing to diversify board membership and in her final year, she voted against the charter amendment to allow anyone but the mayor to make board appointments.
2. When given the chance to do otherwise, Sarah Sprinkel voted to oppose allowing the single member district issue to advance to a ballot for voters to decide.