SAFETY HARBOR – The website www.InformedSafetyHarbor.com has caused quite a stir since appearing on the local political scene a few weeks ago, publishing public records belonging to mayoral candidate Tanja Vidovic.
The site – “We find public documents, so you don’t have to.” – offers no commentary, no opinion and no sermons. It is nothing but facts, all acquired by official public records requests, established news outlets or Vidovic’s own social media posts.
Because those collection of facts paint Vidovic as a manipulative, untruthful bully with an extensive record of conflict and controversy with co-workers, employers and neighbors, and InformedSafetyHarbor.com was created anonymously (so they had no one to attack), her status-quo, zero-growth campaign supporters exploded with inferno rage.
As they often do, with no facts to support opinion, Vidovic’s camp targeted opponent and incumbent Mayor Joe Ayoub with allegations and untruths that he was to blame.
Now, the real story.
Dear Safety Harbor Residents,
Thank you for taking the time to read this website. I hope this letter will address some common questions, including why I created the site and why I’ve chosen to remain anonymous.First, Joe Ayoub had no knowledge of this site prior to its launch and in no way has contributed to it. He is in no way connected to this site.Also, I know there have been signs posted around town directing people to the website, however, I was not part of that effort.
Why Did I Create this Website?
I created this website to inform my fellow residents of a pattern of behavior, by both Tanja Vidovic and Saving Safety Harbor, that goes against what I believe are the core values of the town of Safety Harbor. A Facebook page would be open to being hijacked by lies and misdirection, but a website could provide objective information as free from bias and opinion as possible. Everything on the website had to be sourced with a corresponding artifact that could be referenced and verified. If it could not be verified by a public record, email, video, or Facebook post, then it was not included. That was the standard to which I adhered. I wanted to provide documented information and let the residents of Safety Harbor decide.When I began this journey, it started as a quest simply to learn what was happening in Safety Harbor. Why were there rumors of bullying? Did they have any merit or were they just gossip? I had no idea where it would take me. Like most of you, I had heard rumors of people being bullied by Tanja Vidovic and the group Saving Safety Harbor. I was skeptical but curious.I began my research by asking questions around town. After learning police had been called in a couple of instances, I looked to see if there were police reports. What I read in the police reports disturbed me. Yet I remained skeptical, even after reading the Philippe Park police report, thinking it could be an isolated incident, the result of someone losing their temper.However, after reading the police report for neighbor harassment and then seeing the video where Tanja sprayed a Mosquito Joe technician, my skepticism began to fade and the dots began to connect. I said to myself, “This seems true. The report says she sprayed him with a hose and here is a video showing her come outside and move the hose so it sprays over the fence. How can anyone refute this?” Believing these stories had merit and that they were not isolated incidents but rather a demonstrated pattern of behavior, I decided the residents of Safety Harbor needed to know.I also felt bad for the people bullied by Tanja Vidovic. If you have ever been bullied then you know the feeling. You have that pit in your stomach. You toss and turn all night replaying events from the day in your head and tormenting yourself. There is so much anxiety that you feel nauseous. You question your values. You question your integrity, and worst of all you question your self-worth. And what can you do? It’s depressing and lonely, particularly when the bully’s denials are louder than your claim. This website has served not only to inform Safety Harbor residents, but also to provide credence to the claims made by the bullying victims.
Quite simply put, I am scared. There were two alleged instances in which children were targeted, and if someone is willing to target children, then I question what limits they have.Tanja Vidovic posted a picture and address of a minor on her social media site. While I agree it was a bad mistake by the child, the response to target him online was unacceptable. Children are still learning social norms and should not be punished at the same level as adults. Even children who commit crimes do not have their identities posted online by media outlets.There was also the alleged bullying of a young girl who was called the “Pesticide Kid” and transferred schools because of the bullying, all because her parents used a legal pest control company to alleviate their mosquito problem. While there is not a lot of evidence to support this claim, the source has provided many other artifacts to support their other claims. They have proven credible with other claims by providing emails, videos, and a police report all corroborating their allegations. As I said previously, if this is true, and people are targeting children, then this is terrifying.I was scared, and am still scared of Tanja Vidovic and Saving Safety Harbor. In June of 2018 in the Facebook group Saving Safety Harbor, “there was a threat of violence made against the mayor by a resident earlier this month when a commenter said he should be sexually assaulted,” (Oxenden, McKenna. “Safety Harbor is no safe haven from cyberbullying.” www.tampabay.com. Tampa Bay Times. 22 June 2018] ). That is no small threat.There are also allegations of people targeting others’ employment. Tanja Vidovic was alleged to have harassed Mosquito Joe of Tampa Bay. Mosquito Joe of Tampa Bay said, “[Tanja Vidovic] has a large following that is also attacking us online and via phone with the intent to shut down our business because of the pesticide use she does not accept.”I feel that my decision to remain anonymous is not only justified, but prudent. A threat of sexual assault was made against someone with whom Tanja Vidovic and Saving Safety Harbor disagrees. There are two allegations of targeting children. There are allegations where people threatened the livelihood of businesses and employment of individuals. These are serious allegations of misconduct. The Vidovics and Saving Safety Harbor have called me names. They have called me a “coward,” “chickensh*t,” and claim they have a right to know who created the website. I have to wonder what they would do if they were to discover who I am.I also believe that being anonymous is not only a prudent but an acceptable choice. There is a long history of anonymous political speech in our country to protect individuals, and as stated above, I believe that I need protection. The Federalist Papers were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the pseudonym “Publius.” One of the most famous writings in American history, “Common Sense,” was originally published anonymously. In McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission the Supreme Court said, “Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority… It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation–and their ideas from suppression–at the hand of an intolerant society.”
Moving Forward with Facts
The citizens of Safety Harbor are entitled to a full picture, not misinformation. One of the few points on which Tanja Vidovic and I agree is that public records are a trusted source of information. In her efforts to undermine others, Tanja has pulled records on business deals, voting records, and public statements.Tanja Vidovic said she believes my site has lies, and they should be removed, and has accused me of slander. Though I believe she means “libel,” the written form of defamation, she is wrong. I have reported what was in public records without interpretation, allowing people to draw their own conclusions. I believe the public records and corresponding evidence, such as Facebook posts and YouTube videos, demonstrate the root cause of the issue: a pattern of behavior antithetical to good leadership.In her website post, “Truth and Love Will Overcome Lies and Hatred,” Tanja Vidovic claims she spoke to the City arborist “in a calm [sic] quiet, and respectful manner.” However, Tanja’s interpretation of the meeting is at odds with statements made by another meeting attendee, Charrie Moscardini. In the Safety Harbor City Commission meeting on August 19, 2019, Charrie Moscardini said, “One of the participants said something to this effect, ‘Art this community loves its trees and members of the public will support an arborist who advocates for trees, but if our city arborist does not advocate for our trees, then the public will advocate for replacing him.’ This is the moment I was referring to when I wrote in my email that the meeting went off the rails.” Charrie Moscardini is also on record saying, “I was sure that the meeting left Art feeling ambushed and threatened.”Charrie’s statement is echoed by statements from City Manager Matt Spoor and Human Resources Manager Kim Nicholls who interviewed the City arborist and reported, “Art stated that when TV [Tanja Vidovic] said at the end of the meeting that ‘if I (Art) wasn’t going to advocate for trees, we would find someone else for the job,’ he felt threatened. He went on to say he felt upset with the meeting.” A meeting at which one participant feels upset and threatened, while another feels it has gone off the rails, does not seem “calm and respectful.”Similarly, the other negative statements mentioned on this site come directly from public records and sourced artifacts, including the references to Tanja yelling profanities in Philippe Park while Southeastern Chemtreat Inc., was spraying weeds (Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office), as well as statements from Tampa Fire Rescue, Mosquito Joe of Tampa Bay, Charrie Moscardini, Art Finn, Matt Spoor, Kim Nicholls and any others mentioned.In the end, I created this website to start a movement to stop all of the bullying in Safety Harbor. I wanted a place where the victims of bullying could be heard over the yelling of Tanja Vidovic and Saving Safety Harbor and to let them know you are not alone. I wanted everyone to see what has been documented in public records, Facebook posts, videos, and emails to allow the residents of Safety Harbor to fully understand what is happening in our town. I wanted this website to inspire my neighbors to speak out against this reckless behavior.Sincerely,
Informed Safety Harbor
Election day is Tuesday, March 17th.