(Be sure to check out this follow-up post from March 1.)
Herb Weiss authored the six page mail piece Winter Park residents received recently that details his concerns about Fleet Peeples Park. The following is my letter to Herb on the subject after speaking with him at length about these issues.
February 24, 2011
First let me thank you for investing so much energy into something you believe is important and for your time on the phone discussing these issues. As you have likely noted, I have been at it for several years and appreciate those willing to speak up when they are concerned. Your mail piece on the Fleet Peeples Park issue is notable for its volume, both in the amount of text and the voice with which it is presented.
I am concerned about both the style and substance of your mail piece. Herb, you and Bonnie Jackson will never be helpful in resolving these issues because you both continually attack the Friends of Fleet Peeples Park and continually sensationalize the circumstances. Your mail piece is but another example where you drive up the emotional quotient and divide our community unnecessarily. I appreciate and empathize with your concerns but on this issue our city needs leadership, not more inflammatory rhetoric.
You spend considerable energy writing up all this stuff and getting it printed and mailed, and setting up a web site and so on. But Herb! Your entire effort here offers nothing to improve the situation and serves only to argue your “side” of the issues, further alienating those who don’t see the issues in the same way as you. It is as if your intent is simply to invoke indignation.
I will not comment on every slanted or incomplete statement you make in your mail piece but I need to set the record straight on your sensational claims that “dog waste is slowly killing the park” and that the current use of the park is causing “environmental devastation.”
I recently inquired of city management on this very issue because we all understand that use of the park must be safe.
I copy below an email I received on February 8, 2011 from our city Environmental Resource Manager that directly refutes your claim that the bacterial levels in the lake are trending negative (“killing the park,” leading to “environmental devastation“). I also link the attachments I received which include the source data and summaries for your information and that of other readers. While the trend line for Lake Baldwin on the 13 year chart has an upward slope, overall levels remain within safety standards and the measurement history does not establish a statistically significant trend.
Herb, I thank-you again for presenting your views on this issue and hope all input from citizens and our city management leads us to policy that will be positive for current and future users of Fleet Peeples Park. Most of all, I hope we have city commissioners who can bring people together on this issue, demonstrating leadership, not divisiveness.
Regards, Pete Weldon
The bacterial data (through August of 2010) for Fleet Peeples Park and Dinky Dock Park are attached. In each file Chart 1 is the individual event averages (from 3 stations) for the beach and Chart 2 shows the annual averages for the period of record.
The State standard for swimming beaches is 200 colonies per 100 milliliter of sample and the standard for lakes in general is 400 colonies per 100 milliliter of sample. These levels are noted on the charts.
Each chart also shows a trend line based on a linear regression calculation. This analysis determines the “randomness” of the data. If the R2 value (which represents the slope of the trend line is low, the individual values are considered to be due to random fluctuation and not representative of a trend. If the R2 value is high, the data is interpreted to be representative of a valid trend.
The trick with environmental data is agreeing on what are high and low values for the linear regression equation. In normal population statistics an R2 value of 0.9 or greater would normally be needed to support the existence of a trend. In water quality data however, there is usually a high level of variance and a low frequency of sampling that creates more uncertainty in the interpretations of the results. Many lake managers accept much lower R2 values as being indicative of a trend in water quality data, than they might when analyzing other types of data. There is not widespread agreement on how low of a value is acceptable. Most people I know would like to see 0.6 – 0.7 before they would call it a valid trend, but some will accept as low as 0.4. As you will see on the charts the annual average data for Fleet Peeples has the highest R2 value at 0.3, but this is still not indicative of a trend toward increasing bacterial levels.
Please call or e-mail if you have any questions after reviewing this material.
Timothy J. Egan
City of Winter Park Environmental Resource Manager
Phone: (407) 599-3599
FAX: (407) 599-3417
Attachment 1 – Fleet Peeples Park Bacterial Summary
Attachment 2 – Dinky Dock Bacteria Summary
Mr. Egan followed up with another file that shows how the larger lakes in Winter Park look in relation to the new criteria recently adopted for the state by the EPA. The rule is currently undergoing legal challenges, but Mr. Egan concludes it appears that all of our state regulated lakes currently meet the proposed criteria, including Lake Baldwin.
PS – In our phone conversation Herb told me that a number of citizens funded the development, printing, and mailing costs of his piece and that these citizens wish to remain anonymous.
When people PAY MONEY to share their opinion but wish to remain anonymous, you have no choice but to question both the motives and the specifics. Period.
Anonymous? It doesn’t take a Jason Bourne to figure out who paid for it.
I think that rhetoric and highly colorful adjectives are the issue. If Herb had stuck to only the facts and not led with such polarizing statements, then his mailer might have more validity. I for one, am against a dog-only park, but that’s just my .02
Ben, you deserve a prize. The problem is that knowingly disseminating false and misleading information for the purpose on inflaming people serves no constructive purpose.
Even Inspector Clouseau has a strong idea who paid for Herb’s mail piece.
Guys, please consider Fleet Peeples Park is not even a ballot issue. What were his motives for sending an inflammatory letter? From the perspective of an experienced park friend, she felt his objective was to incite anger in the park users who knew how to sift through his lies and obfuscate those who aren’t up on the issue.
I think he was hoping for a negative reaction giving him another finger pointing opportunity like his multiple letters to the editor calling us ‘militant’, ‘mob’ and a ‘brigade’ instead of friends organization.
Pete, you hit the nail on the head. From my experience with Bonnie Jackson, her hostility and Herb’s weirdness paralyze decision – making, although now that Blair Culpepper is Chair the atmosphere has changed. Bonnie forced a Parks Bd Member to resign, filed false police charges against me (for touching her), and has sent multiple cease and desist letters to residents and FFPP threatening a lawsuit if we didn’t shut up. She is incapable of representing anyone who has a differing opinion from her extreme views.
Recently Mr. Weiss took it upon himself to go down to the park and enforce the fee. Why do we need a volunteer board member to act like a code enforcement vigilante? Is that his role and was it appropriate? Bonnie has done this as well with different issues.
A code enforcement officer was already present and doing his job.
Although he referred to himself as a citizen, the young girls were so weirded out, they called the police. I guess the cowboy regalia scared them.
He then left and ran into a roller blader in the parking lot and when she commented positively on the new sidewalk, he immediately took full credit for building it as a PR bd member.
I’ve received multiple angry e-mails from park goers – most WP residents – who mistakenly thought his EQUIPP mailer was an official statement from the Parks & Recreation board and department.
Here’s one comment:
“Please read this and spread the word about the insanity that is occurring in Winter Park. …. I know many of you are “outsiders” who paid for the present privilege to bring your dog to the park. See what Mr. Weiss and I assume the Parks Board think of your generosity.”
I would appreciate these city officers be respectful of people’s privacy and quit provoking discontent by creating problems where none exist.
Herb acknowledged to me that his intent is in fact to inspire further discord, to get hundreds of indignant Winter Park residents to flood city commission meetings to “change” city policy at Fleet Peeples Park. I could not tell if even Herb knows what that “change” is supposed to be but it relates to satisfying a resentment about all the “outsiders” using one of our parks.
Readers may also note Jackson’s latest mailer falsely posturing her opponent as “representing the region, not Winter Park.”
If the voters are dumb enough to fall for Weiss’s incitement and Jackson’s parochial nonsense they deserve what they get.
Ms. Jackson’s mailer is pathetic. More false accusations and implications. She would be dangerous on the city commission.
This is kind of along the lines of candidates declining to reveal their campaign manager’s name. Always makes me perk up, take notice, and wonder why. Transparency for thee… And yet that shadowy figure calling the shots is usually pretty easy to deduce.