Skip to content

Let’s Cut-Thru the Nonsense

Something called “Winter Park Voice” has been sending emails around town under the pretense of providing useful information to the public. “Winter Park Voice” is controlled by a man named Tom Childers who spent his career in public relations (not journalism). Tom Childers accepts anonymous monetary contributions to “Winter Park Voice.”

“Winter Park Voice” recently sent out two emails focused on the city’s consideration of a Resolution to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) supporting a particular configuration of a proposed extension of Lee Road that FDOT may or may not construct. The “information” included in these emails deserves closer inspection.

The email of May 11 has the headline, “Commission in a Hurry to Approve Lee Rd. Cut-Thru.” How does Mr. Childers know that? The facts show that various means of extending Lee Road have been studied since the early 2000’s, that the current commission has been discussing the issue in public meetings for months, and that the city held an information session for citizens on the subject in April. Whose agenda is supported by giving readers the impression that the commission is “in a hurry?”

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper is presented in a 20 minute video in which she vehemently opposes the proposed Lee Road extension. She rails about needing more study while at the same time espousing unsupported absolutist opinions that the proposed extension will be sending traffic “cutting into our premiere neighborhoods,” is a “violation of the neighborhoods” that will “erode this valuable section of Winter Park,” “toying with property values.” In other words, she is never going to vote for any extension of Lee Road regardless of the conclusions of any study. If I were to believe Ms. Cooper I would necessarily conclude that my property is declining in value and that my children are at risk from sexual predators driving through Winter Park because the votes of the other four commission members do not agree with her unsupported opinions. Is it a curiosity that Ms. Cooper’s hyperbole is consistent with the posturing and innuendo of Mr. Childers?

The May 11th email also links to a 3 minute video of Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel stating that she is against a “punch through” of Lee Road. What Mr. Childers fails to note is that Ms. Sprinkel made these comments during her re-election effort in early 2014 and was referring to a “punch through” of Lee Road directly to Denning Drive. It is notable that the context NOT provided by Mr. Childers confirms the extensive consideration the city has given this issue over the past months and also confirms that directly routing a Lee Road extension to Denning Drive was not supported by a majority of the commission (respecting the interest of Winter Park residents exactly because of the potential of a direct to Denning route to add to cut-thu traffic).

What was supported by the commission in a 4-1 vote on May 12th was an extension of Lee Road that mirrors the current east bound traffic pattern from Lee Road onto Webster so as not to encourage greater cut through traffic than already exists. As the city’s professional traffic consultant concluded, “This Alternative also gives the most reduction in perceived cut-through traffic into the residential communities to the north and east of the site.”

Lee Road Change Proposal

  • Red Line – existing route: Lee Road heading east to 17/92 south to Webster Avenue east.
  • Orange Line: One of several routes considered for Lee Road extension directly onto Denning Drive.
  • Blue line: Route in Resolution approved by the City Commission on May 12, 2014 moving east bound Lee Road traffic intending to get to Webster Avenue, mirroring current pattern while removing left turn onto Webster from 17/92 without putting traffic directly onto Denning Drive.

Yet, Mr. Childers “Winter Park Voice” email headline on May 15th reads; “City Votes Yes Despite Strong Citizen Opposition. Plea for More Study Rejected,” noting that 15 citizens, likely prompted by or complicit with Mr. Childers’ posturing and innuendo of May 11th, spoke against the Resolution at the May 12th commission meeting. Do these 15 people constitute “strong citizen opposition” or is this “reporting” self serving nonsense of the highest order?

I could go on endlessly about the mis-information, posturing, innuendo, omissions, and bias in the emails sent out by Tom Childers on this and other subjects. The reason I go into some detail here is to caution readers about the intent, substance, and value of Mr. Childers’ efforts. It becomes more apparent to me with every email that Mr. Childers’ purpose is political and that his anonymous financial backers share this purpose and influence the subject matter he chooses to write about.

Just a head’s up to those who actually know what journalism and transparency look like, and value same.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Posted in Ethics, Money, Policy.

4 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Bob Heid says

    Thanks for your perspective, Pete. I always appreciate your spotlight, whether or not I always completely agree. In this case, I do. There has been a group in Winter Park, dating back to One Winter Park and beyond, that seems to preach obstructionism just for the sake of obstruction. Is it political? Is it merely an effort to make the opposition look bad, or are they simply opposed to anything that leads to ANY form of change? Looking back, I am not sorry the Carlisle (sic?) was stopped, but to oppose all growth and change, even thoughtful growth and change, in favor of isolationism will lead to stagnation and inevitable decline of Winter Park. I have lived in Winter Park for over 50 years and I have to say if it wasn’t for visionaries like Ken Bradley, tempered with a healthy dash of protectionism (as opposed to isolationism), Winter Park would not have grown into the vibrant, uber-desirable community it is today.

  2. Pete Weldon says

    I concur with your insight about obstructionism just for the sake of obstructionism. “Cut-thru gate” is as bad as “tree-trimming gate,” wherein Ms. Cooper sent pictures of ugly trees to thousands of Winter Park residents only to find out that those trees had been purposefully trimmed by specialists to the extreme for safety reasons related to their proximity to power lines before being removed by a regular tree service. They scream for the sake of being heard without offering anything constructive, and in the process deflects focus from real issues.

  3. John Hammer says

    Ok guys, the traffic study was outdated and useless. Have you been down denning recently? Uncontrolled and failed planning is the norm in city hall today. Your commissioners and mayor only talk with whom they want except ms. Cooper. She will talk with you. That is a politician for the people and not the select few. It is going to get testy in those meetings.

  4. Pete Weldon says

    John, what “planning” do you suggest? Can you state the problem in specific terms and offer a specific plan to address that problem? Also, each commissioner and everyone on city staff has always been responsive to my questions and available to talk. Can you give me examples of cases where you have not received a response to your personal inquiries? I would be pleased to follow-up with those involved as I believe very strongly in the public nature of our public process.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.