Mackinnon, who continually points out she is a retired judge and lawyer, also continues to make false statements about the Paseo apartment project approval and send misleading mailers and messages about it.
At the University Club candidate forum on February 10 Mackinnon said regarding the Paseo apartment project on Denning, “I would never have approved that project like that.” Later, referencing Leary’s statement about potential Bert Harris law suit exposure related to the Paseo project, Mackinnon says, “that’s a correct statement of the law. I am a lawyer. I understand that. Those are not the facts the commission was dealing with at the time.” Mackinnon then states in the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board interview, referring to the likelihood of a Bert Harris action when the project was considered, “None of that was discussed at the time this project was approved.”
Mackinnon is wrong.
Discussions with counsel representing the both the city and the Paseo owners affirm that when the Paseo project was proposed the owner told the city it would consider pursuing a Bert Harris action (sue the city) if allowable density approved in 2006 was not reinstated. The city had discussions with the developer about this issue attorney to attorney and worked out an agreement that resulted in the approval of the project, removing the threat of legal action while also removing future allowable floor area (square footage) and density (residential units) from the five+ acre parcel that is immediately West of the Paseo project (also owned by the developer).
The facts support Leary’s statements that the Paseo project is actually smaller than what was approved by the city commission in 2006 and that the city negotiated the result in our best interest.
Mackinnons misleading messaging and pledge that she “would not have approved that project like that” continues a false narrative either;
- intentionally (meaning that she intends to deny development rights and invite law suits upon the city if elected),
- out of ignorance (meaning she does not confirm the facts before acting), or
- for purely political purposes (but her tag line says she is “not a politician”).
It doesn’t matter which reason you pick. None of them flatter Mackinnon’s qualifications to be mayor of Winter Park and all of them contrast with the reality that Leary has been straight with us.
See clearly. Vote wisely.
Regards, Pete Weldon
The Paseo apartments look great; you don’t even notice them until you are within 100 yards. The project is perfectly acceptable and in scale with its’ surroundings. I can think of no logical reason why any local residents would object to how they turned out, and where they are located.
I don’t think the whining is about logic. I think it is about misinformation and politics (which in many cases in Winter Park are the same thing).
Thanks for helping shine a much-needed spotlight on the misinformation and false narratives are coming from the Mackinnon campaign. Being a member of a 3-generation Winter Park family, I am deeply troubled by the continued divisive approach Mackinnon and her supporters have hoisted on our fair city. I have watched both debates and the Orlando Sentinel interview of both candidates, and am struck by Mackinnon’s lack of basic knowledge and understanding of the process of governing, (not to mention her racially dismissive comments in a conference room at the Orlando Sentinel, that were both unfortunate and very disappointing). Mackinnon represents this small, aging cadre of “One Winter Park” adherents that feel it’s okay to basically spread false information through whispering campaign’s and false innuendo, in order to attempt to regain a small lever of influence, not quite understanding that the world has passed them (and their antiquated ideas) behind years ago. The new generation of Winter Park residents have a much more progressive vision for our city, and demand representation that reflects the majority views, not those of a bygone era. Finally, Mackinnon’s reply to Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab, that she has no memory of writing two $1,000 checks to Barack Obama a couple years back, is equally troubling. Either she’s being purposely deceptive (especially now claiming her husband wrote the checks), or has significant memory challenges, and either one should disqualify her for public office. We and our city deserve better.
Thanks for the excellent analysis Pete. It corresponds with Steve Leary’s point in the Public Library debate yesterday. Mackinnon trumpeted that the city attorney’s opinion letter about the Bert Harris claim was written recently, and she tried to claim that the matter didn’t come up when the current project was approved. Leary replied that the commission was in consultation with counsel about the matter, and that you obviously couldn’t have counsel write an opinion letter in the middle of negotiations saying that the owner had a valid Bert Harris claim, because it would be Exhibit A in the owner’s lawsuit against the city. Winter Park voters need to know this.
Pete, are you an attorney?
As I see it, all posters here on this issue are missing the wider point. I don’t mean to sound impertinent. But remember “It’s the economy, Stupid”? Well, this is all about development. Lots of folks in WP don’t like what they have seen come to pass. It would appear that
Mackinnon was able to deftly expose that there is no written legal opinion, no documentation from counsel contemporaneous with- ie dated at or near the time the commission approved the development- or Leary would have produced IT yesterday instead. That would have been incontrovertible evidence. If Leary could have produced such a written opinion from that time I expect he would have. If he could have done so , of course voters could more easily accept the more palatable narrative that his “hands were tied” as it were, and that he had no choice but to approve the project. But instead, his vote and his own comments made at the time indicate that he was in favor of Paseo and thought it was great. Given a hotly contested election where overdevelopment is a hot button issue, the recently written legal opinion was self serving. Had Leary been on record as opposing Paseo at the time of the vote, such a recently produced document would be unnecessary. Mackinnon exposed a seeming inconsistency between Leary’s story now and his position at the time. Long ago discussions held behind closed doors and away from voters can not be discerned by voters by osmosis. Transparency. It’s key.
Sorry Beth, Pete Weldon might not be a lawyer but I’ve been practicing law for more than 30 years. I’m afraid you’re missing the point, and Cynthia Mackinnon, as a former judge, knows or should know better. There is no question that the Paseo owner’s legal counsel asserted the owner’s rights under Bert Harris. The city was negotiating with the owner to avoid a lawsuit and get a BETTER project with less density and more green space than the project approved in 2006. Successful negotiations often require that you not openly acknowledge what you regard as strengths in your adversary”s position. The City is entitled to confidentiality in such negotiations and in communications with its legal counsel during the negotiation process. Making a public or “transparent” acknowledgment at that time — either by city officials or by counsel — that the owner had a legal right to proceed with the project approved in 2006, and that the commission’s “hands were tied,” would have killed the city’s leverage in negotiating for the better project. What Leary was proud of was that the city succeeded in getting a better project than the one approved in 2006.
Who was the attorney that had discussions “attorney to attorney” on behalf of the city since the City Attorney Usher Brown recently wrote that he doesn’t recall ever being involved. (Feb 4, 2015). If “The City is entitled to confidentiality in such negotiations and in communications with its legal counsel during the negotiation process”, who did Pete talk to subsequently to find out this information, as we have established that Pete is not an attorney so could not have arrived at his declaration independently. And who was the counsel that Leary stated that, “the commission was in consultation with counsel about the matter…”? Either all of this is supposed to be confidential (???) or we should be able to find documentation of who said what to whom regarding what so we can end this all.
Gary, the attorney representing the city regarding the Paseo project was Catherine Reischmann of Brown, Garganese, Weiss & D’Agresta. The attorney representing the owners of the Paseo project was Rebecca Wilson of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A. Once threat of litigation has passed any city files pertaining to an issue become subject to public records requests. Please read Joseph Brock’s comment above yours carefully. You will also note that in the recording of the meeting where Paseo was approved counsel for the Paseo project refers to discussions with the city attorney about Bert Harris issues. Happy hunting!