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Beth Hall
February 24, 2015

Thanks for this insightful piece. This aptly illustrates that there is a difference between a genuine adherence to ethics as opposed to merely giving lip service to the idea of ethical guidelines in the abstract. Does your choice for office actually walk the walk or does he just talk the talk? The behavior of the various candidates speaks to this ideological difference.

Personally, I telephoned the Orange County political party with which I am affiliated. I told them I was dismayed and disheartened by the fact that they felt it was OK to insert political partisanship into a non partisan race. I informed them that I felt it was very destructive. The danger as I see it, and as I conveyed to the party representative, is that people will vote along party lines and NOT for the candidate whose views on the issues most closely align with their own. In this way, it is possible for someone to unwittingly cast a vote for the candidate who views may actually oppose their views on critical city issues. In this way the parties are capable of inflicting great harm. My hope is that each voter will inform himself on the issues and vote accordingly rather than merely vote by party affiliation. Much is at stake.

February 24, 2015

Albert Einstein once said,”If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.” One with integrity would ask the meddling to stop, like Brewer & Mackinnon, in compliance with the City Charter. Leary’s consultant, Millennium consulting is the same consultant that the Orange County Republican Executive Committee is using for the handouts in the neighborhood. Big money coming in sideways! Much of that money is from the development community and their hired law firms. Leery or I mean Leary, continues to feign innocence but hasn’t protested too much (none in fact) thereby is complicit in making this a partisan race. Hopefully, WP voters are smart enough to figure out that potholes, land use and autocarts are rarely Republican or Democrat and that speaking the truth and integrity are still the most important traits in those we choose as leaders.

Winter Park 1999
February 24, 2015

Being a voracious reader of all stripes of political news, I googled both Steve Leary and Cynthia Mackinnon’s names several weeks ago to find out more about the candidates. Sure enough, Mackinnon comes up on various Democratic websites and Leary comes up on various Republican ones. I have also noted curiously enough that when reading certain publications online, such as the New Republic, Salon, Slate and other magazines on the “left,” Mackinnons web ads pop up. Apparently whoever places her web ads is pursuing an ideological strategy, if not a partisan one. By contrast, I did not see any Leary web ads on National Review or Reason magazine (which I also read to learn about the “right”.) Finally, I note that the Democratic websites Mackinnon first appeared on in my original google results, have since been scrubbed, which gives the appearance that someone is trying to erase this history. The internet, however, is forever. Cache versions of websites do not go away, hence one ca n still see the traces of Mackinnon being promoted on Democratic websites in earlier versions.

February 24, 2015

Please note the orange county democrats also posted a “canvass for mackinnon” event on February 11. The Democrats continue to also be involved.

Nancy Shutts
February 24, 2015

The Leary endorsement by the WPRWomen’s Federated was really bizarre. The vote by the board of directors was 4 -2 -1. Two of the 4 are non WP residents. The 2 no votes resigned their board positions in protest that the vote was not taken to the membership. Leary’s position on issues was never discussed.

Why would the Orange County Republican Executive Committee spend over $12,000 to support Leary in a non-partisan election!!!!!!

Count the Votes
February 24, 2015

At the end of the day, elections come down to votes.

There are more Republican voters than Democrat voters in Winter Park. And many Republicans refuse to vote for a Democrat under any circumstances,

At the end of the day, elections come down to votes. There are more Republican voters than Democrat voters in Winter Park. And many Republicans refuse to vote for a Democrat under any circumstances,

So a Republican who is known as a Republican has a vote advantage over a known Democrat in Winter Park.

It is what it is.

Mackinnon is smart enough to find other ways of winning this election, despite the “handicap,” to use a golf term, that she gives Leary as a vote advantage by refusing to change her party affiliation to Republican. Normally candidates don’t want to just give their opponent hundreds of votes right out of the chute like that.

The negative campaign postcards she sent last week are a good start, but we won’t know until election day if they are “too little, too late.” So a Republican who is known as a Republican has a vote advantage over a known Democrat in Winter Park. It is what it is.

Mackinnon is smart enough to find other ways of winning this election, despite the “handicap,” to use a golf term, that she gives Leary as a vote advantage by refusing to change her party affiliation to Republican. Normally candidates don’t want to just give their opponent hundreds of votes right out of the chute like that.

The negative campaign postcards she sent last week are a good start, but we won’t know until election day if they are “too little, too late.”

Joseph Brock
February 25, 2015

As a lifelong Democrat and someone who places the highest value on the honesty and integrity of a political candidate, I feel I have a special stake in this issue. Unfortunately, Cynthia Mackinnon’s narrative of non-partisanship is refuted by demonstrable facts. On 2/17, Mackinnon sent out a campaign email claiming, among other things: “When the Democratic Party put an announcement of my candidacy on its Facebook page, my campaign asked them take it down immediately and they did.” Well, I checked that Facebook page on 2/17, and I checked it again today (as I’m writing), and that announcement is still there. And it specifically identifies Mackinnon as a “Democrat.” See (see post dated “January 5”: “Democrat Cynthia Mackinnon will kick-off her campaign for Winter Park Mayor…”).

Little did I know that this Facebook notice was just the tip of the iceberg. On 2/17, the same day as Mackinnon’s email claiming she had rejected and refused help from the Democrats “from the ver first days of campaign,” Pete Weldon of Winter Park Perspective went to the Orange Democrats’ website and made a pdf capture of the Democrats’ Cynthia Mackinnon News page, which he has posted at You will see a full page of notices for Mackinnon’s campaign, including solicitations for volunteers to “Canvass for Cynthia Mackinnon” and “Phone Bank for Cynthia Mackinnon” going deep into February 2015.

The “Phone Bank” silicitation promises: “Phone banking is easy and fun. Meet like-minded people and help elect a great Democrat for Mayor.” It lists the home address of Mackinnon’s neighbor, a $1000 contributor to her campaign [see *1, below]). The main notice is for “February 11,” but the “EVENTS” column on the right lists two subsequent “PHONE BANK for Cynthia Mackinnon” events at the same address on “FEB 18” and “FEB 25.”

The “Canvass” silicitation promises: “Help a great Democratic candidate win the Mayor’s race in Winter Park. Great opportunity to get out in wonderful weather and make a difference for Orange County Democrats.” It lists the home address of a $500 contributor to Mackinnon’s campaign [see *2, below]. The main notice is for “February 14” but the “EVENTS” column lists two subsequent “CANVASS for Cynthia Mackinnon” events at the same address on “FEB 21” and “FEB 28.”

Pete Weldon notes that on Feb 18, the day after Mackinnon’s campaign email, this page was no longer there. But it could hardly be more obvious that Mackinnon’s campaign was just trying to cover its tracks. Meanwhile, it could hardly be more clear to previous Democratic volunteers that Phone Banking for Mackinnon occurred every Wednesday and Canvassing for Mackinnon occurred every Saturday, at the same place and time.

Furthermore, the Orange County Democratic Party’s announcement of its endorsement of Mackinnon (which occurred on 1/5, more than two weeks before the Republican Party mailer on 1/23) STILL appears on its website.

Far from a case of Mackinnon’s campaign taking the moral and legal high ground, as you portray it, this is the rankest example of the pot calling the kettle black while trying to conceal its own blackness and hypocracy. If Mackinnon gets any votes by fooling people on this issue, then shame on her.
*1., at p.2, ln.6. *2. Id. at p.2, ln.22.

Just Ridiculous
February 25, 2015

Why doesn’t Leary’s statement surprise me, i.e., “Leary replied, “I would prefer a non-partisan race, but there it is, and I’m glad to have their endorsement” (The Republican Party).? This race has had its problems from the beginning, You have the Republican party and Pete Weldon voicing their statements. I’m happy to know that Winter Park residents have the good sense to understand what is *really* happening here. If you want big development to rule in Winter Park vote for Mr Weldon’s friend Steve Leary. If you want a Mayor who will consider the good of the residents, make fair decisions and help Winter Park maintain the ambiance that caused me buy my home here, vote for Cynthia MacKinnon. To steal Mr Leary’s statement, “there it is”.

February 25, 2015

How did the Republican Party get those crisp photos( PDFs) of Mr. Leary’s family, if not from him?

Joseph Brock
February 26, 2015

Why haven’t you revised your article or posted the comment I sent yesterday? You are blatantly misleading Winter Park voters into thinking that there is some truth to Mackinnon’s public claim that she has “refused” and “rejected” help from the Democratic Party “from the outset of her campaign (Mackinnon’s campaign email, 2/17), when I have presented proof that her campaign has been up to its ears in assistance from the Democratic Party throughout her campaign, including active recruitment of Democratic volunteers to “help a great Democratic candidate win the Mayor’s race in Winter Park.” You even continue to cite to the wrong page of the Orange Democrats’ website to persuade people that there is no endorsement of Mackinnon, when I pointed out that she continues to be endorsed at and on their Facebook page. That is fraud and hypocracy. You are telling voters th at Mackinnon is better than Leary because she has been obeying the rules and he hasn’t — a narrative which you know to be untrue. I am very disappointed.

Pete Weldon
February 26, 2015

This post continues to document information relevant to the “partisanship” issue Mackinnon has attempted to exploit to tar Leary.

Anne Mooney runs Winter Park Voice. Winter Park Voice is organized as a for-profit entity to avoid revealing it’s donors. I have no problem with this on its face. What is problematic is that Mooney continues to posture Winter Park Voice as a politically agnostic journalistic operation when it is not.

In her February 24, 2015 message Mooney says. In the mayoral race, Cynthia Mackinnon confirmed that at her January 7, 2015, kickoff party, volunteers from the Orange County Democratic Party offered to help her campaign. Mackinnon declined their offer, pointing out that local Winter Park elections are nonpartisan. Online advertising was removed from the Democrats’ website, and no volunteers from the Democratic Party organization have worked on Mackinnon’s campaign. Mackinnon did not “confirm” anything, nor has Mooney. Mackinnon told us weeks after January 7th that she had asked the Orange County Democratic Party (OCDP) not to help her campaign. Mooney’s language does not confirm Mackinnon’s claimed conversation occurred, or the date she first claimed she had the conversation, or who she had the conversation with. The only information here is Mooney accepting Mackinnon’s version of the story without evidence.

Mooney’s statement that “on-line advertising was removed from the Democrat’s website” leaves the false impression that this was done on January 7. I took a screen shot of the OCDP web site proving that as of February 17 the OCDP was advertising events in support of Mackinnon. While these listings are no longer present Mackinnon was receiving direct partisan campaign support of OCDP from at least January 5 to at least February 17, during the heart of the campaign.

Mooney says: Leary himself may not have consulted with OCREC, but records show his campaign has paid out more than $11,000 to Orlando-based Millennium Consulting, run by John Dowless, which also does work for OCREC and for Republican candidates for local, state and national office. To the best of my knowledge John Dowless is a professional campaign manager/consultant. The selection of a campaign manager is a matter of free choice and they tend to work for anyone willing to pay them regardless of party affiliation. Mooney does not disclose information on this subject about Mackinnon’s campaign. As of February 6 Mackinnon had paid $6,000 to Mercury Public Affairs LLC, 437 Madison Ave. 9th Floor, New York, NY. I do not know who Mackinnon works with from Mercury but their Florida staff includes Ashley Walker, 2012 State Director for Obama for America in Florida. What would the reaction be if I engaged in guilt by association regarding Mackinnon’s campaign consultants?

Any communication between a candidate and a political party would put a candidate in the position of “consultation” and would be unadvisable even if that “consultation” was to ask not to help, as even that request may be made with the intent of making an issue of an opposition partisan political party supporting a candidate of their choice.

The facts make clear that OCDP overtly supported Mackinnon at least from their January 5 endorsement until February 17 with their endorsement continuing to appear on their web site even now. Making an issue of whether or not Leary or Mackinnon did, did not, or should have communicated with OCRP or OCDP is irrelevant. Both OCRP and OCDP have overtly supported the candidate of their choice as is their right, regardless of the language of the Winter Park Charter.

In her tortured post of February 24 Mooney reveals herself as a Mackinnon supporter hiding behind a thin veneer of journalistic pretense. See clearly. Vote wisely. Regards, Pete Weldon

Cynthia Mackinnon
February 26, 2015

Running for office can feel like a game of baseball, where someone is trying to strike you out by tossing dirtballs. Anyone who follows baseball understands that it’s a waste of energy to swing at every pitch.

But as someone who is running for Winter Park mayor on a platform of transparency, I want to address the wildly reckless and false accusations that have been pitched as an attempt to distract voters from the real issues. The issue is that of partisan support, support that I have adamantly declined from day one of my campaign.

With total disregard to Winter Park’s policy of non-partisan elections, my opponent has embraced support from his political party of choice in terms of funding and awareness. Meanwhile, I have made abundantly clear to political groups that have offered to support me that this race is non-partisan and I decline their assistance.

My community-based campaign is not funded by the deep pockets of big political action committees. I don’t need it. My support comes from residents who simply want leadership and decisions that don’t sacrifice their quiet neighborhoods, create traffic congestion, and destroy tree canopies.

When I learned that information about our campaign had been posted without permission on a political website, I immediately demanded in writing that it be removed and it was. (“Dear Cynthia – All references to your candidacy have been removed from our site, and no further postings will be made. None of them were made at the direction of a member of your campaign…. Orange County Democrats.”)Posting information that was removed at my insistence is a tired attempt to revive false claims of partisan politics during an election that should be focused on issues that matter to voters.

In keeping with the non-partisan requirement, my ads and messages are targeted to one audience only – all Winter Park voters. I believe that my platform and values appeal to most residents.

As I have said from the beginning, I am running for Winter Park mayor because of my 40-plus years in this community and my deep and sincere commitment to change how business is conducted. That includes such dishonorable tactics and blatant disregard for our election policies.

Cynthia Mackinnon
Candidate for Mayor of Winter Park

i love WP
February 27, 2015

I believe you Cynthia. You have my vote! Leary has shown a propensity for remembering “too large” things he has done such as fighting hard for the first ever Urban Forestry Plan. Who did he fight? Bradley? Sprinkle? Cooper and McMacken were already supporters. Dru Dennison, staff, wrote the plan and it was an extension of many plans before (1885 Winter Park Improvement Committee directed by Loren Chase planted the first Oak trees that are now over 100 years old- that’s the first ever!) Next, his self serving purchase of Thomas Lumber in advance Minor League Baseball being installed next to an historic neighborhood…He voted to ask Orange County for an extension of the community redevelopment (CRA) funding timeline. The funding was to be used exclusively to build a $6m parking garage immediately across from his newly purchased, parking deficient building with 14 partners. No property would benefit more!!! Touting himself a business leader not a bureaucrat…buying a building without enough parking…doesn’t seem like a “good” business move and I would certainly wonder if he would handle the budget in such a haphazard manner. Scrambling to get enough parking once the baseball/parking garage fell thru ( citizens by pass the commission & went directly to Rollins Brd asking the ill conceived plan be dropped) so he can open up the center of the building seems like proof he was counting on the $6m in tax dollar to mitigate his parking problem. FINALLY, he is the only commissioner to vote AGAINST using the Peacock emblem on the City flag. Really!?! Inspite of staff recommendation, Arts Advisory brd recommendations and a long debate he had the audacity to claim that the bird made us look like a zoo…the iconic and noble peacock is a part of our culture & heritage, unique and beautiful, brought by Rollins President Hugh McKean in the 50’s and now adorns manhole covers, weathervanes on top of the SunRail station, Peterbrook Chocolate sells peacocks, and the newly installed Peacock Fountain in Central Park by an Eagle Scout honoring a friend. Leary doesn’t get Winter Park! He is the developer’s choice and if you like traffic congestion, portables on school grounds, frozen police positions as property crime rises, attempts to increase density on all 4 lane roads, minor league baseball next to your historic house, using scarce City tax dollars to support Orlando’s Democratic Mayor’s Performing Arts Center over local nonprofits, purchasing booby traps over the appraised value by $160k or attempting to buy a bowling alley for $3.2m without an appraisal (another bad business idea) then he is your man. For me, I am sticking with Mckinnon.

Joseph Brock
March 5, 2015

I had given up hope that you would print my comment, but I thank you for doing so. And thank you very much for video-recording the debates and making them available to everyone on Youtube.

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