The eleventh hour proposal to reduce Clearwater Downtown Development Board’s ex-officio seats by one raised questions for many including this writer.
In the interest of clarity and fairness we reached out to Elise Winters, the DDB’s attorney for comment.
Elise Winters, P.A.
1006 Drew Street
Clearwater, FL 33755
April 12, 2021
My name is Stefani Hutchison. I am currently working on an article for my Blog, Confront and Shatter, about the recent proposal made, ostensibly by you, to the City of Clearwater’s Downtown Development Board concerning the removal of one of the ex-officio seats.
I had some questions for my piece that I am hoping you might be able to address on the record.
During the meeting of April 7, 2021, you represented your initiative as appropriate due to care and concern that one of the ex-officio members was faced with a lack of things to do thus should be freed to better utilize his time elsewhere.
As it quickly became obvious that you had done no information gathering from either of the men who’s seat you are attempting to render redundant, I am curious as to why, after almost 20 years, this was suddenly so important to you?
Certainly the Mayor would not feel that his time with the DDB would be better spent elsewhere?
Which leaves you presuming to speak for Mark Bunker.
It is reasonable to suggest that prior to seeking this voluntary position Mr. Bunker would have acquainted himself with the responsibilities involved.
When asked by Mr. Bunker who it was that had originated this idea you stated that you brought the proposal to DDB Chair Morfopoulos.
As you are not a member of the DDB, rather you are the hired attorney for the Board, is it within your purview to arbitrarily make decisions to draft resolution proposals concerning Board structure?
For you to create such a proposal, for which you would be paid by the DDB, either you spent billable hours without approval or you consulted with Paris Morfopoulos prior to your efforts and were approved by him for the project.
If the latter scenario is true, then there was ample time for you to have consulted with both the Mayor and Bunker for their input surrounding their potential removal.
Why then were neither Hibbard nor Bunker apprised in a timely manner that you had decided (as you stated, this was your idea) to potentially remove them from their seat? Instead Mr Bunker was sent an email only an hour before the meeting which gave him no real chance to defend himself.
The circumstances surrounding this sudden, altruistic concern for the valuable time being wasted by two men who are voluntarily giving to the City seem suspect. Especially as you never asked them if this was a true interpretation on your part.
In fact, given the tense relationship between Mr Bunker, Scientology (and Paris Morfopoulos in particular), the way this entire situation unfolded could be interpreted by onlookers as an attack against Mr Bunker for reasons that have no bearing whatsoever on his ex-officio seat.
It appears that in your misplaced zeal to spare Mr Bunker any further ennui your “good intentions” may further fuel fires better left alone.
I look forward to hearing from you concerning this issue and thank you in advance for your time.
Mrs. Stefani A. Hutchison
In response we were directed by her clerk to watch the video. A reply that, while convenient for Ms. Winters, contains no answers.
When we clicked on the link for “Agenda” we were met with completely unhelpful, useless pages.
None of the additional links in blue lead to anything pertinent at all. There is no mention of Winter’s proposal, no transcript, nothing.
As for the video link, Aaron Smith-Levin already provided this and it is the impetus for our questions in the first place.
It would seem that Elise Winters has no interest in clearing up the issues surrounding her bizarre resolution proposal of April 7, 2021.
What is clear to those of us who watched the meeting is that her given excuse for attempting to remove a volunteer who cares enough about the City of Clearwater to give of his time without remuneration falls flat. Rather than a benefit, Winters’ actions have only served to stir an already boiling pot of tension. Beyond this, one cannot help but ask; is Elise Winters working for Clearwater and the best interest of the city?
Winters’ ill thought, ill planned debacle feels less like a positive for Clearwater and more like a biased action that only benefits the interests of the Scientology majority board who approves her pay.