February 15, 2011
Below is my letter to Scott Callahan noting I am voting for Steve Leary in the March 8th election.
I viewed the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board interview and will be supporting Steve Leary.
I doubt my decision as a single voter is particularly meaningful to you or to Steve but I wanted to share my thinking with you as you were generous with your time and attention when we met and spoke about your interest in running.
You say the Mayor has done a “mediocre” job. You equate leadership with accommodation in your critique. This can and will never be the case in any elected body. What you are really saying is that you support the people who have continually pressed what should have be dead issues, consuming untold amounts of energy and time of both the commission and city staff, energy and time that should have been invested in addressing issues that would positively impact our citizens and our community. You are a thoughtful person and I believe with greater perspective on the history here you will have greater respect for Ken Bradley’s contributions to Winter Park and to the commission.
On issues pertaining to the dog park fees and the commissioner salary increase you say the right things but reach the wrong position. It is as if you are supporting the decision of those that voted for these things because they are supporting you, rather than because of the facts. The decision to pursue the dog park fees has been a social and political disaster for our city. This is an issue (like many others) that has been created by certain political players for unknown and unproductive reasons. Beside the fact that the fees don’t pay for their administration and enforcement, the issue distracts us from the focus required to properly address important issues. The right answer is to kill the dog park fee and move on. The salary issue is another case where you have the reasoning right but the position wrong. The citizen’s voted to change the charter to allow the commission to change its salary. No argument there. However, forcing through an increase when the employees are being asked to shoulder much of our current economic burden is just bad judgment. We can raise the salaries for commissioners when the city raises them for employees.
Finally, your support of the super majority voting requirement to change the comprehensive plan is not tenable. It sounds wonderful to “stabilize” the development standards in Winter Park. The reality, however, is that the super majority requirement effectively freezes a comp plan that was written in large part by one person, Carolyn Cooper. I suggest you actually print and read the Winter Park comprehensive plan and then print and compare it to those of other notable Florida cities (Naples and Coral Gables, for example). I think this exercise will make it clear to you that we need a simple majority process to change what we have now (you can start here: http://www.winterparkperspective.org/category/development/). I am glad to see that Carolyn supports you because she certainly would not support anyone who would even entertain changing her plan for Winter Park, the most prohibitive comp plan in the state of Florida. This is not a nod to unfettered redevelopment of Winter Park. It is a call for common sense (that being an attribute I believe I am voting for in supporting Steve).
Scott, you can count on my candor on all issues whether or not you are elected to the Winter Park City Commission.
Enjoy the ride.
Respectfully, Pete Weldon