Assessing Mismanagement and Malfeasance in Winter Springs

Assessing Mismanagement and Malfeasance in Winter Springs

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee has approved a request for an operational audit of the City of Winter Springs.

WINTER SPRINGS, FLORIDA, USA, January 27, 2023 / EINPresswire.com / —

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee (JLAC) unanimously approved a request for an Auditor General to conduct an operational audit of the City of Winter Springs. The Auditor General is a state Constitutional Officer which investigates various local governments and other agencies in order to “promote government accountability and stewardship and improve government operations”, according to its website.

“I am aware of concerns regarding activities of the current Mayor, City Commission and City Manager,” State Senator Jason Brodeur said in a letter requesting an independent audit. “The residents of Winter Springs have compiled extensive material showing rampant mismanagement and even malfeasance which is harming the 38,000+ residents of the City of Winter Springs.”

The scope of the audit includes investigating issues related to wastewater, third-party contracting, Consumptive Use Permits, public records requests, testing documentation, ethics, fraud, and the City’s Code of Conduct.

The request letter from Senator Brodeur for an independent audit included concerns about “rampant mismanagement and even malfeasance”, “[s]uspected violations of state ethics laws”, “a complete lack of transparency and censoring residents”, “taxpayer funded misinformation campaigns”, and “[p]ossible public corruption and profiteering with a commissioner”.

The independent audit will proceed following the unanimous vote of the JLAC. The broad scope of the inquiry could lead to referrals to other state agencies. The letter from Senator Brodeur’s office states if “fraud is suspected, the Auditor General may be required by professional standards to report it to those charged with the City’s governance and also to appropriate law enforcement authorities.”

Jesse Phillips, President of the Winter Springs Community Association, made the following statement: “The issues facing our City necessitate an independent review. We need to stop the finger pointing and to understand how we got here and to find solutions to fix the problems affecting our health and livelihoods. We received hundreds of responses to our annual survey and 9 out of 10 Winter Springs residents support the idea of an independent audit of the City of Winter Springs. We strongly recommend City leaders fully cooperate and allow this independent audit to be conducted in full transparency.”

About Winter Springs Community Association: The Winter Springs Community Association (WSCA) was created to help our community become “One Winter Springs”. We are “Living, Growing and Promoting One Heart, One Pulse, One Community, One Winter Springs.” The WSCA serves Winter Springs residents and business leaders who wish to contribute and propel the most positive Community rebuilding effort ever undertaken in our City. Winter Springs is woefully short on entertainment, dining, medical and other important professional services and our Association seeks to serve you, our neighbors by helping any new business wishing to join our community to enhance your quality of life.

Jesse Phillips
Winter Springs Community Association

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Winter Springs Babe Ruth Opening Day

Winter Springs Babe Ruth Opening Day

When: Saturday, February 18, 2023 | 9 AM- 11 AM

Where: Central Winds Park

Play Ball! Opening day is a cherished tradition in Winter Springs. Celebrate teamwork, dedication, & sportsmanship with Winter Springs Babe Ruth at Central Winds Park.

Thank you, WSBR volunteers and sponsors, for making this program possible! Everyone is invited to come out and show their support, see you at the park!

For more information on Winter Springs Babe Ruth, click HERE.

Kevin Cannon Nominated to Receive Key to the City

Kevin Cannon Nominated to Receive Key to the City

Mayor, Commissioners, and City Manager,

Please read below regarding former Commissioner Cannon’s nomination to receive the Key to the City.

Item 500: Consideration of Presenting Kevin Cannon with the Key to the City. 

When I learned that Kevin Cannon was under consideration to be awarded the Key to the City, I was appalled. If you were to ask most, if not all, City Commissioners in all six cities in Seminole County, our County Commissioners, and State Representatives to describe Winter Springs government and politics during Mr. Cannon’s time in office, you would hear words like toxic, dysfunctional, and even corrupt. This was especially true since 2018 and 2020, when Mr. Cannon was successful in getting his friends elected who were more than willing to support his agenda. 

On many occasions, Mr. Cannon tried to intimidate his critics, usually Winter Springs residents, with legal tactics such as cease and desist orders that were meritless. In 2021, Mr. Cannon, along with the entire Commission and Mayor, weaponized our city government against their political rivals and predecessors to deflect blame away from their own failures and incompetence by serving subpoenas and conducting a “Show Trial”. This public theater, paid for with public funds was an abject failure as it merely shed light on how corrupt our Mayor and Commission had become. The irony of it all, was that Mr. Cannon was a City Commissioner for the duration of the time-period in question and should have been subpoenaed as part of the investigation, if it was honest. 

In 2020, Mr. Cannon threatened all 394 households in the Winding Hollow subdivision that he would try to collect, as a licensed private Attorney, $2,000 to $3,000 per household if his client’s lawsuit prevailed. At that time, Commissioner Cannon threatened to take approximately 

$1million (stated in his legal filing) from an entire neighborhood of citizens that he swore to serve while defending a man (former WH HOA President) whom that neighborhood was suing for stealing from them. The document that I just referenced was filed July 10th, 2020. We were four months into the government lockdowns for the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of Americans had lost their jobs, many in Winter Springs, and a sitting Winter Springs Commissioner was trying to get rich off the citizens, many of whom had just lost their job. This is not the act of a selfless citizen representative who deserves to be honored for service to his community by being awarded the Key to the City. To the contrary, he deserved to be kicked out of office, and he was. 

If all these facts were not evidence enough to deny Mr. Cannon recognition for service to his community, then the fact that he was arrested for assaulting his wife should seal it. Obviously, any one of these facts disqualify Mr. Cannon from even being considered for recognition in our community. Mr. Cannon’s nomination, however insulting, was not a surprise considering the Commissioner who made it. That Commissioner was Ted Johnson, who himself had an Election Fraud complaint filed against him a few months ago for using his elected office and public funds to support and promote his 2020 election campaign, and I believe those election law violations are felonies under Florida Law. 

These are just some of the reasons why Mr. Cannon should not be awarded the Key to the City.

Best Regards,

Geoff Kendrick

Former Winter Springs Commissioner

7-11 at Winter Springs Blvd and Northern Way Closing

7-11 at Winter Springs Blvd and Northern Way Closing

7-ELEVEN 898 GARY HILLERY DR WINTER SPRINGS FL 32708-6103

Word on the street is that the 7-11 at Winter Springs Blvd and Northern way is closing due to huge rent increase. We wonder what the owner is planning to do with this property? We heard some one say the rent was going to $12,000 a month! We just can’t see who would rent that space for that kind of money with limited parking. 

Some ideas shared by residents:

Sports Bar

Coffee or bagel shop

Small Apartment or Condo Building

Another convenience store, but remove 7-11 brand

Cannabis dispensary

Storage Facility

Small park or green space

Retention pond to improve drainage in area

Any other ideas? Please share your thoughts.

Proposed Winter Springs Storage Unit

Proposed Winter Springs Storage Unit

Back in 2013/2014 county officials urged the City of Winter Springs to enter into a joint planning agreement concerning the enclave properties. The city was not interested. The city failed to effectively negotiate with these property owners in these enclaves to effectuate voluntary annexations into the city. This is why the present issue involving the storage unit on the former high flavor meats property exists. It’s just another example of the COWS incompetence and lack of foresight. This matter is presently a development application that is before the County commission. The County commission is legally applied to consider the development proposal in accordance with the zoning and future land use designations that relate to the property. Many County officials believe the zoning for this property is compatible with what is being proposed to be developed on the property. For the County commission to do otherwise would be to invite a legal challenge which most certainly would be successful.

So there you have it. We’ll have no opportunity to vote on this development because the city didn’t have the foresight to see this coming down the road.

Proposed Storage Unit on Seminole County lands within Winter Springs on Tuskawilla Road
Winter Springs City Commission Honors Outstanding Staff and Police Members

Winter Springs City Commission Honors Outstanding Staff and Police Members

Winter Springs City Commission recognized several city staff and police members for their outstanding efforts before, during, and after Hurricane Ian at the City Commission meeting held on December 12, 2022. Winter Springs received unprecedented levels of rainfall in a short period, which caused severe damage to our roads, bridges, and local community homes. These employees went above and beyond to make sure key infrastructure was protected and operational, as well as protecting residents from the damage brought by the storm. As a result, Winter Springs experienced zero fatalities and has made quick efforts to restore our beautiful city. “Everyone of these folks went way beyond what we would ever ask them to do… we couldn’t stop them if we wanted”, said City Manager Shawn Boyle. The following employees worked day and night to restore our city back to normalcy as soon as possible.

Please join us in celebrating:

Andrew Cortez, Earl Williams, Michael Downing, Troy Cooper, Kendrick Miller, Al Britos, Jason Simpkins, Brian Dunigan, Kevin Maddox, Clifton Mullis, Philip Bower, Scott Johnson, Melanie Stallard, Capt. Kevin Presley, Capt. Doug Seely, Lt. Brad Heath, Lt. Keith Whitmore, Lt. Bill Mayhugh, Captain Nick Romano, Lt. Aaron Wilkins.

Relief for Floridians Impacted by Hurricane Ian and Nicole

Relief for Floridians Impacted by Hurricane Ian and Nicole

Florida Legislature held the fourth special session this year, during which legislators focused on three main pieces of legislation that would provide relief to Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian and Nicole. Today(12/16), Governor Desantis signed Senate Bill (SB) 4-A and SB 2-A. The following is a brief overview of the bills approved.

SB 2A- Property Insurance Reform

SB2A is the most significant property insurance reform bill in recent history. The bill aims to stabilize the residential insurance market and lower consumer costs. The bill also aims to address abuses with the assignment of benefits, frivolous litigation, and concerns about Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. 

  • Eliminates one-way attorney fees in suits arising in residential or commercial property insurance.
  • Eliminates a policyholder’s ability to execute an assignment of benefit for all property insurance policies.
  • Reduces the time limit for providing notice of a loss to a property insurer from two years to one year for initial or reopened claims and from three years to 18 months for supplemental claims.
  • A new optional state reinsurance program, the Florida Optional Reinsurance Assistance, was created to address shortages in the reinsurance market. The bill also requires insurers to communicate, investigate and pay valid claims more promptly.

More Information

SB 4A- Disaster Relief

SB 4A packages several disaster relief efforts to aid those impacted by Hurricane Ian and Nicole. The bill provides $750 million for the communities impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, as well as:

  • Extends the due dates for property taxes levied in 2022 for property owners whose property was destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by Hurricane Ian or Nicole.
  • Authorizes property tax refunds for residential properties that were made uninhabitable for at least 30 days by either hurricane for the portion of the year that the residence was unusable.
  • Appropriates $350 million from the General Revenue Fund to the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) to provide the full match requirement for FEMA Public Assistance grants to local governments affected by the two hurricanes.
  • Appropriates $150 million from the General Revenue Fund to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation: $60 million shall be provided to local governments to assist persons with the repair or replacement of housing, relocation costs, housing reentry assistance, and insurance deductibles.
  • $90 million shall be used to fund the Rental Recovery Loan Program to promote the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing in affected areas.

More Information

SB 6A- Toll Relief

SB 6A directs the Florida Turnpike Enterprise to establish a toll relief program effective January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2023, for all Florida toll facilities or Florida toll facility entities that use Florida-issued SunPass transponders.

Toll road users who record 35 or more qualifying transactions per transponder per calendar month will be eligible for an account credit equal to 50% of the amount paid in that calendar month for the qualifying transactions.

This would include tolls along the Central Florida Greenway SR 417 and East-West Expressway SR 408, which are prevalent routes in Central Florida.

More Information

Finding an Alternative to the Building Moratorium in Winter Springs

Finding an Alternative to the Building Moratorium in Winter Springs

On Monday, December 12, around 11pm; the City of Winter Springs approved a 90 day Ordinance for a Temporary Moratorium to stop development in Winter Springs. I voted NO for this unnecessary measure, which will exhaust unnecessary time, energy, resources and money. The proposed moratorium will negatively cast Winter Springs as a city “that is not open for business” and deter investors. The adoption of a moratorium is serious business. When Winter Springs set its intention to adopt a moratorium, residents were up in arms! This Moratorium does not solve the existing issues that we have with our current infrastructure; we need to prioritize maintenance, our systems have not kept up to par with the existing lift stations, stormwater ponds and clearing the creeks. The solution is simple and we don’t need 90 days to evaluate our options. The solution is to maintain and pump our current stormwater ponds, clear the creeks and evaluate our lift stations and wastewater plants vs. halting new development.

Alternative: I do believe the City should implement a system that requires developers to adhere to stricter standards for stormwater pond construction and maintenance. These regulations should go beyond the 25 year flood standards and should work to create a system that priorities regular maintenance of stormwater ponds. Developers should also be required to keep records of their maintenance practices. The City should incentivize developers to participate in regular maintenance that are proven to offer consistent and effective stormwater management.

This decision does not need 90 days! Government is already slow, why put us behind even further? We need to solve the correct problem, and not push it out to our new potential partners.

A national grocer is currently evaluating options to utilize the property behind Mobile Gas Station on SR 434, and this moratorium could potentially turn away new projects that would enhance Winter Springs; and our quality of life!

We need to be focused on Maintenance of our existing structures. That is the Solution. I ran on the platform of Pro Environment, Pro Economy. And this 90 day moratorium to halt development is unnecessary for the economic unintended consequences of this decision.

 


 

Other Highlights:

The city also gave an update on the improvements that are being done with the stormwater system design around the Town Center and the new Hickory Grove development. The update shared includes large pipe improvements which will drastically reduce the flooding in at Village Park and Michael Blake. It was also recommended by Michael Blake himself during public input that the city go back and look at the maintenance schedules originally approved for these developments and get back to maintenance schedules required. Advocacy for these types of flood prevention improvements is how we can solve the flooding problems.

Pickleball court conversation was tabled to give commissioners more time to research. Recent cost estimates have the project $250,000 over budget. Also questions remain about the number of courts. Do we really need 14 courts? Are the courts tournament compliant so that the option of future city revenue from group events is possible? 

The City Manager admits water system failures of the past have forced him to rent equipment the city may need in the event of more water plant failures.  Boyle admits the condition of water plants is worse than he thought. Engineers working on plant repairs say the plant has not been properly maintained for over 10 years. Boyle estimates the cost to rebuild the plants is $75M and that he has a clear path to pay for them. Yet rate study being done early next year could show that costs to replace are much higher. During public input former Commission Kevin Cannon spoke and said the previous City Manager kept him in the dark about the plant conditions. Clearly trying to distance himself from accountability.

Meeting started at 6:30 and ended at 11:30pm. Moving forward we will need to address the length of these meetings. We can accomplish this by streamlining the agenda, asking commissioners to meet with department heads prior to the meeting. These meetings should be no longer than 3 hours. When it goes for a vote to extend, it should not pass and the meeting should be over immediately. No last public input, no reports, nothing. If needed we can reconvene at a future date.  This ensures the Citizens business is being done in the sunshine and not in the middle of the night.

 


 

Articles/Audio of Meeting:

Winter Springs could stop development while it studies flooding | Oviedo Community News

https://oviedocommunitynews.org/2022/11/30/winter-springs-stops-development-while-it-studies-flooding/

Residents urged the Winter Springs Commission to temporarily halt new development | Oviedo Community News

https://oviedocommunitynews.org/2022/12/14/development-moratorium-moves-forward-in-winter-springs/

 


 
MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2022 – 6:30 PM
CITY HALL – COMMISSION CHAMBERS
1126 EAST STATE ROAD 434, WINTER SPRINGS, FLORIDA

https://winterspringsfl.granicus.com/player/clip/608?view_id=1&redirect=true&h=f095bcbf51d7a07a76c2db76615692f9

Victoria Colangelo is the New Voice of Winter Springs 

Victoria Colangelo is the New Voice of Winter Springs 

“The future is bright in Winter Springs and under my leadership, Winter Springs will remain one of the best places to raise a family, educate children, and operate a business.”— Victoria Colangelo

WINTER SPRINGS, FLORIDA, USA, November 30, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/

Victoria Colangelo had an impressive victory over Kevin Cannon, eight-year incumbent for the Winter Springs City Commissioner District 2 seat, receiving 53% of the votes. In her campaign, Colangelo raised awareness to issues impacting residents like the Parkstone Artesian Well, water infrastructure challenges facing Winter Springs, and the maintenance of ponds and lakes. In addition, Colangelo spoke about the communications from the City of Winter Springs’ social media accounts, which limit the number of comments on their channels. “Political discourse is essential to the strength of our community, I will make myself accessible and ensure that your voices are heard,” said Victoria. Colangelo will focus on providing residents with access to information from these meetings and tackling the water infrastructure issues that have plagued the city for years.

Colangelo has an eighteen-year career in the environmental industry as the CEO of The Mitigation Banking Group, which preserves and restores wetlands across Florida. Since starting The Mitigation Banking Group, Colangelo has facilitated the collection of over $50 million from developers making investments to protect local environments. In addition, she has collaborated with numerous city and county employees, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the St. John’s River Water Management District, and other agencies in and around local politics. Colangelo has promised to make her availability known, and her goal is to be a voice for all residents and guide Winter Springs into the future, while preserving what makes Winter Springs a great place to live.

About Victoria for Winter Springs: Victoria Colangelo has lived in Winter Springs for 15 years. Colangelo is a passionate advocate about preserving our water and wetlands. She has a vision for what Winter Springs can be and the experience to preserve what makes Winter Springs a great place to live. For more information about Victoria Colangelo, please visit https://victoriaforwintersprings.com

Victoria for Winter Springs

+1 407-960-5787

friends@victoriaforwintersprings.com

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