Library Update: Citizens Petition Group Moves Forward to Block MLK Location
Despite City attempts to erect roadblocks, the Save Our Library PAC announced today that it will move forward with its Citizens Initiative Petition to prohibit building a new library in Martin Luther King, Jr., Park.
Public Meeting Wednesday, May 11, at the Community Center
The Save Our Library PAC, led by Michael Poole, Sally Flynn, Charley Williams, former Commissioner Margie Bridges and former Mayor Joe Terranova, will host a public meeting: Petition forms will be available for citizens to sign and circulate.
Winter Park Community Center –
721 W. New England Avenue
Wednesday, May 11, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
City Denies Citizens’ Request for Petitions
In an email to Save Our Library PAC President Michael Poole, City Clerk Cindy Bonham stated in part: “The request for petition forms . . . is not timely, as the petition forms you have requested . . . appear to constitute a reconsideration or referendum to repeal Ordinance No. 3020-15 and the City Commission’s decision to locate the library and events center in Martin Luther King Park . . . . Referendum petitions must be filed within 30 days after adoption of the ordinance to be considered.” (To view the entire email, click here.)
Ordinance Silent on Library Location
Ordinance No. 3020-15 is the Bond Referendum language that appeared on the March 15, 2016, ballot. It specifically omits any language pertaining to the intended location of the library/events center.
Citizens Initiative Petition
The request filed by the Save Our Library PAC was a Citizens Initiative Petition, not a Referendum Repeal. A group representative told the Voice they do not seek to overturn the bond referendum, nor do they seek to prevent the construction of a new library/events center/parking structure.
The group seeks to prevent a new library from being built in Martin Luther King, Jr., Park.
The Winter Park City Charter, Sec. 5.01. – Initiative, states: “The qualified voters of the city shall have power to propose ordinances to the commission and, if the commission fails to adopt an ordinance so proposed without any change in substance, to adopt or reject it at a city election.” No time limitation is specified.
City Attorney Advises
In email correspondence obtained from the City, City Attorney Kurt Ardaman advises Cindy Bonham that she is under no obligation to respond to the citizens group, but he suggests possible wording of a message she might send to Michael Poole, if she concludes that the Petitioner’s Committee Affadavit constitutes a Referendum rather than an Initiative.
PAC President Michael Poole stated that he believes the City’s position is politically motivated. “This is just another attempt by government to suppress the citizens’ rights,” said Poole. “We are going ahead with our petition drive.”
Asked why she had concluded that the petition in question is a Referendum Repeal rather than a Citizens Initiative, City Clerk Cindy Bonham replied by email.
The charter language.
Sec. 5.02. – Referendum
The qualified voters of the city shall have the power to require reconsideration by the commission of any adopted ordinance and, if the commission fails to repeal an ordinance so reconsidered, to approve or reject it at a city election.
The final decision to put the library/events center in MLK Park happened last October and was confirmed with the ordinance calling for a bond referendum that was adopted in November. The time to have made this challenge would have been within 30 days of that ordinance adoption in accordance with Section 5.02 and 5.05(d) of the City Charter.
Ms. Mooney, while I am normally quite in agreement with your excellent writing on City issues, I feel in this instance that you are not presenting the situation fairly. I read an article on the Winter Park Observer that includes more information from the City on their position which seems logical.
I am disappointed to see that you seem to be siding with this ill-informed and ill-intentioned group. I hope to see a return to your balanced and well researched articles for I learn much about the goings on in the City from your paper.
Thanks to Winter Park Voice for telling readers about our rights as residents.
If City Commissioners don’t like the current petition, consider the alternatives:
1) Petition to recall (remove from office) Commissioners and/or City Staff who attempt to illegally delay, debase, or destroy a valid petition effort.
2) Petition to require City Commissioners and senior City Staff to make public copies of their personal tax returns and a complete and current listing of all ownership interests in any corporations, partnerships, LLC’s and real estate, together with a detailed description of each.
3) Petition to make it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, for any Commissioner or senior Staff member to lie about anything.
While division within our community over the library and bond referendum is unfortunate and unsettling, what appear to be unfair or obstructionist tactics on the part of the city clerk and the city attorney concerning petition efforts are far more troubling.
The first thing we do is get out of the way any notion that I’m going to say anything bad about Mr. Seymour. He has told you how much he admires the library and has unselfishly devoted himself and his lovely Bride to serve the Library over many years and continues to serve today as well.
And now comes that awful word But–But Mr. Seymour no one is against the library, qua library. You are not arguing the issue being raised. The issue now raised before the public is the question of location. You have waxed warmly over the MLK Park without offering your convincing argument why that location is the best of all locations for all the citizens not only those living in proximity.
There is, however, Mr. Seymour, something more important at work that may perhaps not be so apparent. Is it not strange, that we now suddenly have friends and gentlemen questioning their motives and calling for a cession of argument on the basis that the vote is now history–get aboard and let’s not muddy the waters with “Jonny-come-lately” second thoughts. Friends are not adversaries. Hear them out.
What might have happened in Winter Park, Mr. Seymour, is not an unusual occurrence in municipal affairs where a desired outcome is sort of rushed through by officials with the authority to commit the citizens to a preferred outcome and repay a bond issue without a thorough agreement of citizens on the question of the library’s specific location. It may be legal but was it fair?
Let’s simmer down. Let’s question in an open and visible hearing on the relative merits of the location. The location is not yet cast in bronze –it’s not as if construction has already started. A reconsideration of the merits of the location would not be out of order and should be welcomed by the citizens if there is yet some question to resolve. That’s fair.