September 20, 2016 at 10:14 am

Corrupt, Biased, and Dishonest News Media Exposed!

Exclusive  #  BREAKING NEWS  #  Exclusive

Corrupt, Biased, and Dishonest News Media Exposed!

Secret Lauren Ritchie Email Shows Support for Conner While Slamming Breeden

The majority of Americans agree with Presidential Candidate Donald Trump that the news media is corrupt, biased, and dishonest and there is no exception when it comes to the propaganda printers here in Lake County.

In a breaking news exclusive to the Right Side of the Lake, we have obtained copies of emails that were exchanged between Lake Sentinel Columnist Lauren Ritchie and Republican County Commissioner District 3 Candidate Wendy Breeden, which demonstrate Ritchie’s unbridled support for incumbent Jimmy Conner.  However, these emails also suggest Ritchie may have coordinated attacks with the Conner campaign, which are blatant campaign violations because her columns were not treated as “in-kind” donations.

On Friday, August 12, 2016 at 9:10 p.m., Wendy Breeden responded to an email from Lauren Ritchie wherein she was trying to bait the candidate into a position on sand mines, which was clearly being orchestrated on behalf of the Conner campaign.  Breeden wrote in her email to Ritchie, “I pretty much know who this article will favor.”

At 9:23 p.m. that same day, Ritchie responded with an email encouraging Breeden to change her mind on the response and then she wrote the following, “You are right that I do favor Jimmy, not so much for his sparkling personality as for his voting record, which I have found to be pretty stable and generally up my alley.”  Lauren Ritchie’s admission of support for Jimmy Conner disqualified her and the Lake Sentinel from being unbiased news reporters and columnists.  It is at that point she became an official part of the Jimmy Conner campaign.

Not only can we prove that Lauren Ritchie attacked Wendy Breeden on behalf of Jimmy Conner, she did so with the total and complete backing of the Orlando Sentinel.  Consider the following columns and information printed in the Lake Sentinel after Ritchie declared her support of Conner to Breeden.

August 12, 2016 — “Stooge robs vote from thousands” by Lauren Ritchie
In this column, Ritchie quotes Conner and tries to make a case that something was done wrong by Breeden when the race between Conner and Breeden was closed by a write-in candidate.

August 12, 2016 — “Conner, Breeden meet in contentious race” by Ryan Gillespie
In this so-called news story, a prominent picture of Conner is used and the majority of the article is an attack piece that could have been easily written by the Conner campaign.  Breeden is forced to defend herself against Conner and the Lake Sentinel reporter.  There is no semblance of fairness.

August 13, 2016 —“‘Issues’ in Conner-Breeden race are smoke screens” by Lauren Ritchie
This was a campaign commercial for Conner defending his record and championing his positions, especially on the sand mine.  Ritchie hatefully wrote of Breeden and went so low as to try to make a campaign point for Conner by discussing Breeden’s property taxes.  Ritchie wrote of backroom deals while making one of her own with Conner.

August 18, 2016 — “Impact-fee position would benefit family” by Lauren Ritchie
In this column, Ritchie now says that Breeden is not only getting money from the sand mine companies but she is running for the commission seat to help her brother’s company by rolling back impact fees so developers can build 16,000 homes.  She spews a narrative that is completely fabricated by the Conner campaign without one shred of truth and devoid of any facts.  It is a total lie and merely a hit piece to bolster the Conner campaign.

August 27, 2016 — “Maxwell: Truth? Lie? Time for Malarkey Meter” by Scott Maxwell
In this piece of biased reporting, the Orlando Sentinel defends Conner for being called a “liberal bully” in a mailer by a political action committee.  First, it’s true, and no one in their right mind can defend Conner’s abusive behavior.  But why does an Orlando Sentinel columnist feel the need to defend Conner on a typical political mailer?  Our guess is that he is trying to sway the election.

September 8, 2016 — “Chump of the Week: Wendy Breeden” by Sentinel Editorial Board
This was a week and two days after the election and it proves the corrupt, biased, and dishonest position of the Orlando Sentinel and Lake Sentinel.  They called Wendy Breeden the “Chump of the Week” because she ousted incumbent Jimmy Conner on a vow to reduce impact fees on home builders.  That is a lie.  Wendy Breeden did not run her campaign on impact fees nor on a vow to reduce them.  In fact, she told the local home builders association she supported impact fees.

Based on the current advertising rate of the Lake Sentinel, the Jimmy Conner campaign should declare $6,700 for “in-kind” donations and we believe this is an actual violation of state election law.  An actual complaint could be filed against the Lake Sentinel and the Jimmy Conner campaign for their coordinated efforts.

Lauren Ritchie Violates the Orlando Sentinel’s Code of Ethics
When Lauren Ritchie declared to Wendy Breeden that she supported Jimmy Conner, she then wrote three columns endorsing Conner’s positions while slamming Breeden.  She violated her newspaper’s own code of ethics.

The Orlando Sentinel’s ethics policy states:

“Political Activities.  Political organizations present particular challenges.  Donor lists are public information, so there are no “private” donations to a party or cause.  For that reason — and because it would be impractical to police exceptions — no Editorial staffer, whether involved in political coverage or not, may donate to or be active in such groups.”

Later in the policy, it states is section #5 — The Florida Statutes exempt editorial endorsements as being considered a contribution.  It does not exempt columnists and reporters.

Two facts about Lauren Ritchie.  When she said she favored Jimmy Conner and then acted accordingly as a political operative, Ritchie became active in the Conner campaign.

Then, by her own columns which can be considered nothing but endorsements for Jimmy Conner, and given she is just a reporter and columnist, she is not exempt from the campaign laws of the state of Florida.  In essence, Ritchie made “in-kind” donations to the Conner campaign.

Do we think the Editors of the Orlando Sentinel will follow their own ethics policy?  Hell, no!  That is the reason why the media is so corrupt.  The purpose of this column is to demonstrate clearly how corrupt, biased, and dishonest the media is and that nothing Lauren Ritchie writes should be trusted.

If the Orlando Sentinel has any integrity they would immediately terminate Lauren Ritchie for her clear violations of their ethics policy and for destroying the integrity of their newspaper.

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September 13, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Lake County School District’s Self-Inflicted Money Woes

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Bill Mathias and the School Board Should Accept Responsibility for Financial Mess

 If you listen to Lake County School Board Chairman Bill Mathias, the taxpayers in Lake County are not paying enough toward education and that all of the Lake County School District’s problems are because of growth.  Goodness!  It’s time to put the facts on the table.

First and foremost, the Lake County School Board has made horrible decisions with the construction of new schools—from outlandish upgrades, poor value engineering, and horrendous land deals.  Plus they added student stations where none were needed.  Instead of putting resources to teachers and supplies they have invested in overpriced building projects by out-of-county contractors who gave huge donations to former board members.  The district is strangling on a debt load that was $368.2 million in June 2015.  The amount they are paying in debt service in one year alone could build a couple of schools.

Here is a list of the revenues received by the Lake County School District:

  • Because of an improving economy and growth, estimated taxable values for the district is expected to be 6.1 percent better.  That is a huge increase in money without doing anything.
  • The total school tax millage rate is 7.197 per mil and that includes a 1.50 mil for capital outlays.
  • Last year, School Board Chairman Bill Mathias worked with Lake County Commission Chairman Jimmy Conner in shaking down vendors and forcing a special $440,000 election on the Infrastructure Sales Surtax Referendum (Penny Sales Tax).  He claimed the one-third cent portion of the tax could fix ailing schools.  In fact, the taxpayers were told that was the problem solver for the district to fix schools.
  • Lake County has one of the highest school impact fees in the state and nation, with a single-family residence costing $9,324; a mobile home costing $5,856; and, an apartment costing $8,045—this is the reason why rents are so high in Lake County.
  • Plus they get millions in state and federal regular funding as well as money through special grants.

To put Lake County’s taxes and impact fees into perspective, simply look at neighboring Sumter and Marion Counties.

  • Neither Sumter nor Marion County School Districts receive any part of their county’s Penny Sales Tax revenues.
  • Neither Sumter nor Marion County School Districts charge school impact fees.
  • School property tax millage rates are lower in Sumter County by 18.7 percent.
  • The millage rate in Marion County is less than 1 mil higher than Lake County and that is because the people of Marion County voted for a 1 mil school tax to pay for school improvements.

What makes no sense about the money issue ailing the Lake County School District is that the heavy retirement mix in the county should make the district flush with money.  According to the United States 2015 Census, 26.1 percent of Lake County’s population was over 65 years old compared to 13.3 percent nationwide.  That’s nearly double that of most areas.  There are tens of thousands of seniors who are paying school property taxes in Lake County, who will never utilize Lake County Schools.

The 2,050 homes being constructed in Fruitland Park by The Villages is a cash cow for the Lake County School District, because these retirees will be paying school taxes while having no impact on the system. 

Lake County doesn’t have a money problem; rather, they have a leadership problem.  Sadly, teachers and students are suffering from the gross incompetence of the Lake County School Board.

The constant money drumbeat by School Board Chairman Bill Mathias is a distraction from the real issue.  Since Mathias has joined the Lake County School Board, the Lake County School District’s grade has dropped to a “C”; discipline has broken down at all levels; and, they have been mired in one off-the-wall distraction after another.

Money can’t fix bad leadership and terrible decisions.  It’s about time School Board Chairman Bill Mathias and the Lake County School Board take responsibility for the mess they have created and stop blaming taxpayers and businesses for not doing enough.

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