Nonprofit groups spring to life when people come together over a specific issue. That happened in Davenport some 13 years ago when an aggressively vocal group that called itself Davenport Concerned Citizens (DCC) came into being.
Then in about 2012, they organized a movement that would allow septic-tank owners to keep their systems in the face of the city’s desire to compel residents off of them. The plan was for all to be connected to a municipal-wide system.
According to The Ledger, with this project, there would’ve been an infusion into the city of “$2.325 million” from the USDA, scot-free. There would’ve been a loan and city funds pooled into this effort to make it happen but it didn’t.
DCC was instrumental in this non-project.
At that time, six years ago, the city was run by a manager inept at informing residents about the issues surrounding this topic. She didn’t even try to debunk what DCC was saying nor was she inclined to put the facts about it on the city’s website. Likewise, Davenport had a mayor who for 16 years lacked the stamina to talk to his constituents and address their concerns. (He allegedly preferred spending his time chit-chatting with staff.)
Thus, with two top leaders out of sync with residents, a leadership vacuum was created. What sprung to life from that vacuum was DCC.
DCC could not see past the city’s attitude towards its residents, and — with both a personal vendetta coupled with a charismatic mayoral candidate — DCC rode a wave of popularity that ended in 2017 when that mayor, Darlene Bradley, was charged with two felonies. In that populist wave, they persuaded a majority of residents to vote against the USDA’s proposed inoculation of money and simply killed the entire project, one that would’ve surely yielded a very different Davenport than the one we have today.
Except for its early days, general support for DCC has waned. It’s notable in the number of votes corralled by former-mayor Bradley over the years. For example, she counted 356 votes in 2013, yet in 2017, she managed 307: a significant drop in Davenport terms. That drop could be explained by what happened just a couple of weeks before Election Day: DCC piped up.
I believe that most residents would agree that up until 2017 (some say since 2013 when Bradley ran against former-mayor Peter Rust), elections in Davenport were civil. Opponents took sides on policies, procedures, and city business. They didn’t attack each other and they didn’t send disparaging emails out to the world. DCC took a different approach last year, one they had been specifically advised not to take by yours truly.
They sent out an email clearly meant to smear Bradley’s opponent, the likable theater activist Abel Gonzales. No mind was paid to how DCC’s nastiness would impact future elections nor how it might impact other potential volunteers and activists in the community. DCC wanted Bradley to win without regard and at any cost.
Next week starts Davenport’s latest election season and DCC’s already sounded the alarm with another email-diatribe aimed at upsetting voters. This time it was about the old school and it was a doozy.
What started as nothing more than a short communication from Polk County to the city about re-opening the school, turned into a DCC missive of demands, lies, arrogance, and insults. In their four-page email, DCC promulgated conspiracy theories and treated un-based facts as true, so many misstatements actually that, unless you ask me for it, I will not be sharing their email.
What I will do, though, is set the record straight, that is, as straight as I can. But, just one thing, before I try my hand at correcting DCC’s opus of hyperbole, just one thing about them, this group with the transparency of a black hole: I get a lot of questions from folks about them, the primary one of which is, “Who are they?”
That would be important information to know considering that they’ve shown their intention to create a ruckus again this election season. So who are they, really?
To be sure, they are the ones who organized the annual Reading of the Constitution on July 4th; and they are the same ones who organized the “Candidate Forum” during the elections in 2017, after which they launched their smear campaign against Mr. Gonzales.
So are they bad or are they good?
My answer is neither, although there may be a bad hombre in there somewhere. My answer is that they aren’t even a legitimate group. Here’s why I say that.
First, as best as I can tell, DCC is not actually an association of people or at least they’re not a group in that sense. They were at one time but they haven’t officiated a meeting of their members in years, so it makes one skeptical as to who they claim to represent.
They’ve been around for 13 years and in all that time DCC has never bothered to set up a bank account nor establish itself as a nonprofit. Up until at least May 2017, former commissioner John Lepley has claimed to be chairman of DCC. (Since then he’s been claiming that a resident named Bob Avery is the chair but refuses to reveal the names of any of the other officers.) Other than these two, DCC does not have established officers, but if they do, they’re not telling anyone.
Per voter registration records, the PO Box that DCC advertises as its own is, in fact, Lepley’s mailing address. (Bradley’s mailing address is different from her husband’s. Go figure.)
When DCC does write, no individual takes credit. When they write, it’s in Lepley’s inflated style, one that claims it is concerned about Davenport in a fashion that’s in your face, as though they’re in a perpetual shouting match with their readers.
Since the days when they had meetings, DCC appears to have morphed from few old folks watching too much Fox News into an organization of two: Bradley and Lepley; then into an organization of one, just Lepley. In the end, DCC today is little more than an email list consisting of considerably less than 75 addresses.[i] It is a front for John Lepley’s agendas.
It is a gossip mill, where a pinch of truth is sprinkled in for good measure. If there were a law against false representation, Lepley’s DCC would nail it.
Pretty powerful language?
Bear with me on this one, since equally powerful is the theory that goes like this: the current DCC was born from a grudge Lepley has had with the city since his days as a disgraced commissioner.
Since shortly after his assault of a 19-year-old in 2008, Lepley tried to get re-elected for his commissioner’s seat but lost massively against newcomer Crystal Williams. He knew he’d never be elected again, so he easily persuaded his very capable wife to run for mayor while he worked background in the form of DCC.
Success was born when Bradley overwhelmingly won the election and DCC faded into the background, occasionally rearing its disquieted head whilst residents called to ask me, again and again, “Who are these people?“
In short, DCC is John Lepley and John Lepley is DCC. That’s it.
In addition to being both racist and misogynist, Lepley’s arrogantly incapable of admitting when he’s wrong, has referred to himself in public as part of the “witness protection program,” and, true as my mom is Hispanic (and she is), he fancies himself “a secret agent man.”
Seriously! He’s been heard to say those exact words at parties of people. It perfectly explains why he hides his identity behind the acronym DCC.
Secret agent man’s latest communication about the school took a short email with a question from Polk County and expanded it way out of proportion to the county’s intent. It was the proverbial making a mountain out of a molehill, except Lepley/DCC blew up the mountain.
Word on the street is that Lepley/DCC has done this to the school board before with some saying the school was more arrogant. This issue of who was more arrogant is yet to be debated but here’s another possibility.
Was his bluster so profound, perhaps, because bringing back the old school would bring increased traffic in front of Lepley’s Bay Street house? Maybe?
If not, would it have anything to do with the Fresh Start “delinquents,” as Lepley/DCC put so succinctly in his email, the ones he also claims are the cause of crime in Davenport? Or was it his newfound love for TheatreWorks staying at the school, an organization he’s also tried to smear in the past?[ii] Or is it because he spent “thousands of dollars” on a new amendment to our city Charter and he doesn’t want to lose his money?
Whatever it is, it’s all about him, not any concern he has with the city at large. Whatever it is, it can be debated at City Hall with our trusted commissioners, the ones who need to know that any communication from DCC is communication from John Lepley and that Lepley/DCC does not represent Davenport. Lepley/DCC only represents himself.
[i] DCC’s number of email addresses as of February 21, 2017.
John Lepley, Davenport Concerned Citizens (DCC) Spokesman – Home: 215 East Bay Street, Davenport, FL 33837; Home Mailing Address: PO Box 2791, Davenport, Florida 33837; Work: Retired; Email: email@example.com; Phone Number: 407-923-7447.
Darlene Bradley – Home: 215 East Bay Street, Davenport, FL 33837; Home Mailing Address: PO Box 3318, Haines City, FL 33845; Work: Terracon, 1675 Lee Road, Winter Park, FL 32789; Email: Darlene.Bradley@terracon.com; Phone Numbers: 407-923-7447; 407-683-3918.
Bob Avery, DCC Chairman – Home: 307 Maple Street, Davenport, FL 33837; Home Mailing Address: PO Box 1502, Davenport, FL 33836; Work: Retired; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone Number: 863-852-7545; 863-956-7141.