Vice Mayor Goes Full Monty

On June 1, I wrote an article titled “Keep the Bowling Alley Property – Expand MLK Park” and published it in the Winter Park Voice.
http://winterparkvoice.com/keep-the-bowling-alley-property-expand-mlk-park/

The next day, June 2, Commissioner Peter Weldon circulated an email to Winter Park residents with a link to his own blog, Winter Park Perspective. Weldon’s instruction at the top of the email was: “Fellow Winter Park Residents, Please share with friends and neighbors.” Having received this email and concluding I was not alone in receiving it, I heeded Weldon’s instruction and posted his email in the comments section below my story.

From: Pete Weldon
Subject: A Few Trees, Lots of Concrete, Little Expanded Park, Lots of Your Money
Date: June 2, 2017 at 10:10:05 AM EDT

Fellow Winter Park Residents,
Please share with friends and neighbors.

NEW POST:  A Few Trees, Lots of Concrete, Little Expanded Park, Lots of Your Money   (click to read on-line)
The editor of Winter Park Voice, Anne Mooney, has stopped her pretense of providing “news” and has gone public with her true purpose, that being to use her blog and Facebook page to promote her policy prescriptions for Winter Park. Notably, these prescriptions are underpinned by conspiracy theories and based not on fact, but on suspicion that those who actually spend their time serving the city must have some unjust ulterior motive, because they don’t share her views.

I am going “full monty” on this because the people of Winter Park deserve to understand the manipulation. I expect, and believe you deserve, city policy driven by full and thoughtful debate, not driven by political manipulation from people for whom a political agenda supersedes respect for the facts and respect for those who serve our community.

Ms. Mooney’s latest piece exposes her efforts as a significant disservice to Winter Park.
Please read: “Keep the Bowling Alley Property – Expand MLK Park,” and then go here for some facts.

Sincerely, Pete Weldon 
Vice Mayor of Winter Park

Who Puts Up Comments on Voice Site?

Only two people can post anything on the WP Voice website – the editor and the web developer. Comments input on the site are held for moderation and must be approved, and only then are they posted. Comments containing personal attacks and inappropriate language are not posted. Comments may be edited to remove inappropriate language. No reader has direct access to the site.

Originally, I posted Commissioner Weldon’s email under the title “Pete Weldon.” He did not post it; I did.

“John Dough” Weighs In

Very soon after, a person writing as “John Dough” responded to Weldon’s comment. I moderated Dough’s comment and posted it. It appears beneath Weldon’s post, as it was written in response to Weldon’s comment, not to the article.

Those of you who have posted on the Voice website know that there is a way for you to post with a pseudonym and a way to hide your email address. “John Dough” posts frequently and takes advantage of these features. When his or her post arrives via email, the only information visible to the moderator is the IP Address of the computer. The right to post an anonymous comment has been the policy of the Voice since its inception, and it will remain Voice policy.

Weldon Response

The next day, June 3, Commissioner Weldon sent the following email.

From: Pete Weldon
Sent: Saturday, June 3, 2017 9:16 PM
To: anne mooney <annemooney@earthlink.net>
Subject: Problem

Ms. Mooney,
I note a comment here: http://winterparkvoice.com/keep-the-bowling-alley-property-expand-mlk-park/ under my name that I did not post. It appears the person commenting anonymously as “John Dough” created the comment under my name so he or she could write a response, pretending it was a response to something I posted.

I ask that you immediately remove the comment using my name, along with the response.

I ask that you send me the identifying Internet information on the comment under my name. This would include email address and IP address along with other information tracked by your blog software.

I ask, as I have before, that you limit comments to the Winter Park Voice Facebook page where the author needs to have a verified identity. I hope you will someday contribute to minimizing politically motivated manipulation of the facts, rather than facilitating such behavior.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Another Email Arrived June 5

From: Pete Weldon
To: ‘anne mooney’ <annemooney@earthlink.net>
Subject: RE: Problem
Date: Jun 5, 2017 11:42 AM

Ms. Mooney,
The fraudulent comment under my name is still present: https://www.drphillipscenter.org/cart/reserve-seats.stml?perf_id=5797.[sic]

I am looking into legal action and encourage you to remove the comment and the response immediately.

I also ask that after removing the comment and response, that you post a comment noting what happened and tell your readers what changes you will make in your site policies to avoid abetting such fraud. I point out that your failure to have and to enforce policies intended to avoid such fraudulent behavior is a tacit endorsement of such behavior.

Regards, Pete Weldon

June 6 — Weldon wrote to correct the typographical error in the link.

From: Pete Weldon
Sent: Jun 6, 2017 12:17 PM
To: ‘anne mooney’
Subject: RE: Problem

Ms. Mooney,
The link below is a typo. The correct link is: http://winterparkvoice.com/keep-the-bowling-alley-property-expand-mlk-park/.

I trust you will remove this fraudulent comment using my name and the related response. It has now been 3 days since the initial request.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Comment Heading Revised

In response to Weldon’s request, I changed the heading above Weldon’s comment to read, “Emailed to residents by Peter Weldon and posted here by WP Voice staff.”

On June 19, Weldon sent the following message.

From: Pete Weldon
To: anne mooney <annemooney@earthlink.net>
Subject: Using my Name without my permission
Date: Jun 19, 2017 4:41 PM
Ms. Mooney,

I see you have changed the title of the fraudulent comment under my name. Link: http://winterparkvoice.com/keep-the-bowling-alley-property-expand-mlk-park/.

The title now reads: Emailed to residents by Peter Weldon and posted here by WP Voice staff
June 2, 2017 at 4:20 pm

This is dishonest.

What would be honest is for you to:

Remove the comment along with the response by “John Dough.”
Write a story that you email to your list and post on the WPV Facebook page with a detailed history of how you allowed an anonymous source to fraudulently post a comment under my name and then allowed comments on the fraudulent comment.
Clarify that your [sic] chose to pretend “WP Voice staff” posted the comment when in fact you did not.
The story would include a link to my actual blog post referenced but not linked in the fraudulent post: http://www.winterparkperspective.org/2017/06/02/no_trees_lots_of_concrete_no_park_lots_of_money/.

I certainly hope you come to better understand your responsibility as a paid commentator.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Enter: The First Amendment Foundation

Although I never personally responded to any of Weldon’s emails, I did seek assistance from the First Amendment Foundation.

On June 20, First Amendment Foundation President, Barbara Petersen wrote to Mr. Weldon advising that, as an elected official and public figure, his correspondence constitutes public record. Since Mr. Weldon sent the emails to the Voice editor, they were obtained lawfully and the Voice has the right to publish them. As editor of the Winter Park Voice, I am a journalist protected by the First Amendment.
[To read the full text of the First Amendment Foundation letter to Mr. Weldon, click here.]

Weldon Responds to F.A.F.

From: Pete Weldon <pete.weldon@cityofwinterpark.org> To: Barbara Petersen <Sunshine@floridafaf.org>
Cc: anne mooney <annemooney@earthlink.net>
Subject: RE: Letter from FAF concerning emails to Anne Mooney, editor, Winter Park Voice
Date: Jun 20, 2017 7:06 PM
Barbara,

It is indeed humorous to receive your letter!

I am a supporter of the sunshine law and take it very seriously. I feel badly that you took your time to write a two page letter informing me of what I already know and act upon.
I never questioned anyone’s right to re-publish anything.

It is Ms. Mooney’s sanctimonious request for you to question my requests to her that should receive your attention. Ms. Mooney has a long track record of pretending to provide “news” to Winter Park residents when the facts are clear that she is purely a political actor, offering commentary and writing on subjects only supportive of her positions, and those of residents who confidentially fund her. While legal, there is nothing transparent in the “Sunshine” sense about anything Ms. Mooney writes or distributes. She blatantly coordinates behind the scenes with commissioners and others to push out emails and blog posts timed and designed to promote a political agenda (exactly the back room dealing the Sunshine Law is intended to prevent). Her request to you to admonish and question me about transparency and the sunshine law is the laughable height of hypocrisy.

You are being used.

Here are the facts:

On or about June 2nd someone posted a copy of an email I wrote as a comment on Ms. Mooney’s blog. There is no problem in duplicating what I wrote, provided the person posting the comment identify themselves and note that they are copying my email. The problem is that this comment was shown as being placed on the blog by me under my name, when in fact I did no such thing. Further, the comment was something I would never have offered on Ms. Mooney’s blog. Someone fraudulently used my name as the person posting the comment. The content of the comment is not in question. Fraud includes a person or thing intending to deceive others. Someone, perhaps Ms. Mooney but she has not come forward, posted the comment pretending to be me, thereby intending to deceive others that I in fact posted the comment when I did not.

Shortly after, someone commented on the comment falsely ascribed to me, indicating that the commenter either believed I had posted the comment or was the person posting the comment using my name, and did so to create a context to provide their comment.

Sometime recently, at least 10 days after I brought this to Ms. Mooney’s attention, without responding to me, Ms. Mooney changed the author text of the comment to read, “Emailed to residents by Peter Weldon and posted here by WP Voice staff June 2, 2017 at 4:20 pm.” Which is false. Ms. Mooney conveniently removed my name as the author of the post many days after the actual posting, not on June 2nd. All those reading the post prior to Ms. Mooney’s edit were misled and Ms. Mooney has done nothing to correct the record. She has either committed or abetted fraud, or both.

My apologies on behalf of Ms. Mooney for wasting your time.

Regards, Pete Weldon

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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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