Winter Park Candidate Forum
Meet the Candidates for Commission Seats 3 and 4
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.
This is it folks.
If you care about the future of Winter Park, attend this Candidate Forum.
An Open Letter to Winter Park Voice Readers
Residents have become more politically aware thanks to the work of Winter Park Voice during the past ten years.
Yet, Winter Park now has more apartments, hotels, bars, parking garages, construction and traffic than ever before.
Residents can be sure, that had it not been for Winter Park Voice, conditions would be far worse.
But most residents aren’t satisfied with “less bad.” Most residents want “good.” So how do residents make sure that the next ten years’ performance of their City Commissioners is good?
Residents have to step up their game a notch for that to happen.
Too often, residents find a candidate they like and trust, and once they are elected give them a free pass on anything they do. While it’s good to support the best candidates, it’s not good, once they are in office to look the other way when they stray from what the residents want. First thing residents can do when they disagree with their favorite Commissioner is send an email letting them know.
Human nature is what it is, and the same pattern always emerges. Candidates start out good, but once elected, they slowly compromise with the developers until the day they leave office.
How does that change?
Residents need to start grading their City Commissioners.
Take a lesson from the major interest groups that influence politics in Washington D.C. They all have “score cards.”
If your Commissioner votes the way the residents want on every issue they score 100%
If your Commissioner votes putting residents first 9 out of 10 times, the Commissioner scores 90%, and so on.
Such a scorecard would be updated after every City Commission meeting with the ratings continuously updated.
When they seek re-election, it will be clear to residents if these same Commissioners that residents once thought were “perfect” are even close to what they promised when they ran.
The following statistics may shock you:
No Commissioner in the past ten years would have ever scored 100%.
No Commissioner in the past ten years would have scored 90%.
No Commissioner in the past ten years would have scored 80%.
I’ll stop there in the interest of not bursting anyone’s bubble. But you get the idea. The key in designing a scorecard is to be very specific about the grading parameters.
Such as include Commission votes on:
Increasing Building Heights
Loosening Comprehensive Plan Resrictions
Expanding Bar/Restaurant Operating Hours
Number of new Bar/Restaurants Opened
New Apartment Units Approved
New Hotel Rooms Approved
New parking garages approved
New Buildings on City park land Approved
Number of cars on Winter Park roads during rush hours
In other words, FIRST…. Residents have to decide what they want to MEASURE during the next ten years to GRADE their City Commissioners’ performance.
Second…Residents have to decide HOW to apply the measuring criteria.
For example…. If the Commissioner approves one new apartment unit built in three years are the scored as badly as if they approved 1,000 units?
All of these details need to be worked out BEFORE the scorecard is launched. As well as who will design the scorecard. Who will update it. Who will make any changes needed along the way.
The purpose is to create a feedback loop for both residents and Commissioners to have a continuous “reality check” so everyone stays on the same page. Otherwise, ten years from now, Winter Park will have a worse quality of life than ever and be back to the drawing board once again.
If it’s important, MEASURE it.
I live in a 104 home subdivision that has as many homes as it did in 1965. I’m guessing, but I’ll bet the population of the neighborhood is significantly smaller now compared to 1965. People are living longer. Families are smaller. On my street there are 8 homes; 12 adults and 1 house has 2 kids. In 1975, there were 17 kids in the 8 homes. And if you could find some historical demographic data, I’ll bet again that using the boundaries of WP circa 1965, 1975, 1985,1995, our population hasn’t grown. Annexations have increased the city’s population not increased density or apartments within the boundaries. As far as traffic counts, you can log on to OC traffic counts. All traffic counts in WP for the last 20 years are flat or have an insignificant increase. Everything is OK today, but a city needs to grow to keep pace with inflation. Only 3 ways to do it: annexations, density or tax increases. Your choice as a voter is….
Is this what you call the City paying $50 million for that “thing” in MLK Park?
“needs to grow to keep place with inflation”
Pitt you sound like an old broken record.
Your arguments for unbridled growth are tired and lame.
Why don’t you tell us, Pitt.
How much are you in for?
How much do you have invested in Winter Park real estate LLC’s?
How in over your head are you?
If you want the residents to bail you out with a bunch of density just because you were foolish enough to put all your eggs in one basket, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
My experience is the opposite. Homes sizes and number of children in my 2-3 block area have increased dramatically. Lots splits and tear downs have meant no yards, less pervious space and far fewer trees. Kids have to play in their driveways because they have no grass. Million dollar homes are razed to make way for larger, more expensive homes. We need parks because many families have no yards.