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Don’t Be Duped!

I received the following from Ellie Warner of Winter Park. I publish it here as a service to my community. Vote wisely on March 10.


Remember the good old days, not so long ago, when sitting commissioners and the mayor remained impartial and thought it uncouth to even place a town candidate’s sign in their yard?  That was then. This is now:

Winter Park Citizens For Good Government: the anonymous unregistered PAC with a curiously familiar sounding name that sent out the Mayor’s bulk mailing in support of candidate Beth Dillaha with no money trail and with a bogus PAC address. [The Winter Park Good Government Group is the registered long-standing and respected town group which had nothing to do with the mailing of the Mayor’s letter.]

Knowing the ruthless methods of local political operatives, there’s no doubt the name of the unregistered PAC was purposely chosen to dupe Winter Parkers into thinking it was coming from and advocated by a non-partisan, long-standing, and well-respected town organization.  Why, Mayor Strong? Will last minute tricks by bogus unregistered PACs be a factor in your reelection?

Those intent on unethical tactics can’t be stopped, but they can and should be punished in the voting booth. In the Winter Park I used to know, these tactics would never be ignored and excused as they are by the Mayor’s vocal and ironically self-righteous supporters.  So is shame officially dead in Winter Park?  Is gargantuan hypocrisy now all the rage?  Is the new rallying cry the end always justifies the means? Are standards of behavior, decorum and honest transparent campaign dealings just for the other guy? Aren’t they an integral part of the quaint charm of Winter Park we hear so much about preserving, or is all that talk just shallow window dressing: a cheap facade to be saved through unethical power plays and at the expense of real substance and value?  How do we assess the value of a cute looking town with no soul? I think I saw that movie once.  It was called the Truman Show, the story of just one innocent citizen being duped by a powerful puppeteer, instead of the thousands being duped and muted in Winter Park.

So who sent Mayor David Strong’s letter to Winter Park voters on the eve of the last Winter Park election?  Who paid for it? Sneaky unregistered PACS sending 11th hour bulk mailings with no money trail must be OK with the Mayor since he allowed his letter to be sent out this way. Ethical? This letter signed by Mayor Strong defends his legal yet record breaking series of LLC donations, as a sitting Mayor, to candidate Beth Dillaha who now serves on the commission under him, and who is against these very contributions for other candidates and speaks often of the need for both campaign finance reform and ethical and transparent behavior from donors, candidates, elected officials, and the general public.

So why didn’t the Mayor just send his campaign letter for Dillaha himself?  Why the need for sneaky last minute cover from a bogus unregistered PAC that sounds like a well-respected group in town?  One can easily conclude it was sent this way to thwart any inquiry or rebuttal and diminish the unseemly nature of a sitting Mayor further influencing a town campaign. Mayor Strong, can we expect more of these highly questionable campaign tactics during your reelection campaign?  Citizens of WP: be alert in the last days of his campaign!  Don’t be duped by the puppeteer and his ever busy understudies stringing us along any way that furthers their power.

Posted in Election 2009, Ethics.

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