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Worthwhile, Lake County to become a national focal point (1986)

On August 7, 1986 the Florida Sentinel ran its own endorsement of the Carlton Palms project, primarily rejecting the fears of potential neighbors. The article offered the facts...some very incorrect, such as "autistic children are totally non-aggressive" and "autistic youngers are incapable of delinquency" and "autistic children are not prone to wander and roam." My personal favorite, "Carlton Palms will make Lake County a national focal point for the teaching and training of autistic children." Yep. Lake County did in fact become a national focal point -- for the abuse and murder of children institutionalized in Carlton Palms and its sister facilities. Let us never forget that.

The Orlando Sentinel
(Orlando, Florida)
07 Aug 1986, Thu  • Other Editions  • Page 92

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A momentary interuption to lay the ground rules of public comment

Echo has existed for almost a year. She grew out of another blog, Children and Educators First, which after an eight year run has been retired, although some of those posts are archived on Echo. As C&E 1st, there was only one public comment rule - Families are off limits.  Nobody's kids or spouses or girlfriends. It could get gritty at times, snarky, and even brutal.  Education in Delaware brings out the ugly.  

But, Echo is a different beast.  A project. A challenge to write about a single topic blog, to tell the story of special education for very particular children through the decades since de-institutionalization became law.

It became very clear, very early on, that Delaware had a particularly special private special education program residing at the "gingerbread house" in Bear.  In once-upon-a-time horse country, the movers and shakers marveled at the owner, his wife, his horse, and his dedication to teaching the children most challenged by what is known today as the autism spectrum. And then the 1970s happened and the gingerbread melted away and what was left was a scathing five day series of stories to be followed by months and years of newsworthy updates about the facility once known as Au Clair.

For the last year, Echo floated the blogosphere, quietly collecting readers and research. However, recent events in Mount Dora, Florida, primarily lawsuits targeting community members for slander/libel have led Echo to establish HOUSE RULES on COMMENTS, although it pains us to do that:
1. No Slander/Libel. What will likely be the undoing of the current cases stem from the fact that the complainant must establish he is not what has been accused of being rather than the defendant proving that he is. However, we are so inclined, Echo cannot publish comments that are derogatory in nature. Sorry, no henchmen here. :) Those descriptions may be well-earned, but they will find no home on these pages. Comments may be edited to remove content that could inspire another fruitless lawsuit. We do not support further overburdening the judicial system with unnecessary combat.
2. Be good to each other. You never know when you need a saving grace.  And it is often the person least likely who will offer help. Never be too proud to take it.
3. Because we are bit tongue in cheek around here... you have to balance the pain, hurt, abuse, and death with some amount of humor and humility; this is a quiet zone.  QUIET ZONES are RIDING CROP, WHIFFLE BAT, and WRAP MAT-free.

Those are the house rules. Sorry for the intrusion. Perhaps tomorrow, if not Sunday, Echo will be back to work researching and writing about the entity that began as Au Clair, it's morph into Advoserv, it's expansion into other states, it's sealed settlements, and finally Bellwether, the latest owner. 

Sweet Dreams!

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Echo Goes to Florida where Silk is Better than Gold

Mazik in Dora

Echo's been busy packing for our relocation in Mt. Dora.  Of course, our arrival comes 35 years after Ken Mazik received approval to open an "educational facility" for the treatment of mentally disabled children while also providing on-the-job training for the then-next generation of specialist treating  children with similar disabilites.  It was, by all means, a rather compassionate action...  If you didn't know Mazik's history in Delaware. On July 31, 1986, the Lake Sentinel covered the story.

It wasn't Mazik's first visit to Florida, but rather part of an effort to grow Au Clair into a conglomerate of facilities. Mazik was making a move to become a leading treatment provider by utilizing his geo-political capital. The Sentinel cited the developer as Au Clair Properties. However, it wasn't just that easy. Mazik had to overcome the objections of neighboring land owners (2) and the vote for a recommendation to rezone the property to transform a former nursing home into a "public facility district" was a tight 5-4.  The Sentinel also mentioned that Mazik intended, some time down the road, to build another facility in Orlando.

Mazik presented a plan to serve 20 -30 children ages 7 to 18 and to provide them with 24 hour care.  Additionally, college grads in related fields would have an opportunity to work with Mazik's staff to gain firsthand experience treating children with autism.  It wasn't long after opening that the plan changed.

With the recommendation in hand Mazik was scheduled to face the county on August 12, 1986.

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Mazik v. Decision Making, Inc., 449 A.2d 202

Before we move into the Villa we've rented near Dora, there are just a few odds and ends that need tying up. Well, two really.  And since this one is the lesser of the two, we'll start with it. Below is the link to an original post from last January.

The litigious engagements in Mt Dora have led Echo to dig deeper into Au Clair's 1980 salvation and revival. As of 1980, Au Clair had been operating on nothing more than a pipe dream. On August 27th, the original Au Clair location in Bear, Delaware, received a 6 month provisional license after operating without a license for more than a year. That license was predicated on the hiring of independent program manager, Dean Alexander. 

On December 6th, 1980, Margaret Kirk of the News Journal reported that Mazik's new program manager, Dean Alexander was no longer with company.  He had lasted less than six months. Au Clair espoused that he left Delaware due to a critical illness of a family member in California. 

Au Clair's explanation was plausible and Mazik moved quickly to replace him. Thirty-seven years later, the real reason behind Alexander's departure may have surfaced in a little known court case, but oft referenced (in legal briefs anyway) Mazik v. Decision Making, Inc., 449 A.2d 202. It began on July 29, 1980 and took two years to complete the full judicial process. 

At the hearing, Kenia Casarreal Alexander [**3]  testified that she and her husband were unsophisticated in business circles and were quite reluctant to loan defendant the money which constituted a substantial portion of their life savings. Mrs. Alexander testified that, initially, defendant did not wish to be personally liable on the note and, instead, wanted the plaintiff to loan the money to Colonial House, Inc. which would then be liable on the note. However, the Alexanders were reluctant to lend money to a corporation and it was only after a "long night" of "laborious" negotiations that defendant agreed to substitute his own name for that of Colonial House, Inc. as maker of the judgment note. Mrs. Alexander also testified that she and her husband agreed to lend defendant the money only after he assured them that a judgment note was a safe proposition.

Mazik v. Decision Making, Inc., 449 A.2d 202, 203, 1982 Del. LEXIS 394, *2-3

Because this is an appeal, you have to read it backwards.  Mazik was appealing the decision of a lower court regarding a loan he took from Dean and Kenia Alexander. While he appears to be the plaintiff, he, in fact, is the defendant in the original suit which originated when he defaulted on a loan from his newly hired independent program manager, Dean Alexander. 
The defendant admitted at the hearing that his negotiations with the Alexanders took "quite a bit of time", and that their recalcitrance at the idea of lending money to Colonial Homes, Inc. was overcome only after he substituted his name for the corporation's name on the note and repeatedly assured the Alexanders that the judgment note would ensure the safety of their investment.  [**4]  Although defendant testified that he did not know that he was waiving certain rights when he signed the judgment note, he conceded that it was he who drafted the instrument and that he read it before signing it. The defendant stated that he had previously signed and made loans on behalf of the Au Clair School "as a matter of course." The defendant further testified that he utilized a store-bought set of legal forms as a guide in drawing up the judgment note.
Remember, read it backwards.  The original defendant, Mazik, admitted that he had to work his butt off to get the Alexanders to agree to the loan.  Furthermore, it was Mazik who drafted the loan documents using "store-bought set of legal forms as a guide in drawing upon the judgement note." And it was Mazik who defaulted on the loan and Mazik who attempted to seek judicial relief that he had already waived when he wrote his own note for the Alexanders to sign.  And it all culminated with a July 16, 1982 Superior Court opinion that fell on the side of the Alexanders. 

To really hammer home the point here's the timeline:

July 29, 1980, Dean Alexander has been hired and is both an employee of Mazik and tenant.  Mazik approaches the Alexanders for a loan.
August 27, 1980, Au Clair gets a provisional license due to Alexander's hiring.
December 6, 1980, Alexander severs his employment with Mazik to presumably care for a sick family member in California.
July 16, 1982, the appeals court finds on behalf of the Alexanders. 

What really happened between December 6, 1980 and July 16, 1982 was a series of legal maneuvers in which Mazik tried at every chance to get himself off the hook for the loan from the Alexanders, culminating with a Superior Court Appeal that held the judgement of the lower courts. With that loan document, Mazik had literally written himself into a corner. 

And for that, we say, Thank You, Mr. Mazik, for your contributions to "case law" otherwise known as "judge-made law" and for those cases that have followed the precedent you set. You continue to expound the law and will due so in perpetuity until such time as a judge rebukes your case law, this precedent, and redefines the applicable case law. For those keeping score, that's likely to never happen. And Mr. Mazik can derive no source of income either way - from the citation of his case by succeeding cases to the day a judge/courts change their reliance on this judicial opinion to a more sophisticated one. In the world of legal researchers, Mr. Mazik, you've just gone viral.

Confidential to Lauren:  This is why you don't get sued. You cite your facts. There exists no more weighted citation than one to the judicial court system, unless as matter of cause, you get to be part of a case that actually lands in the SCOTUS. And this particular one has been holding for 35 years. 

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Mazik has an Ally, Meet Lauren Ritchie

Lauren Ritchie is a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel.  She recently authored a commentary defending Ken Mazik and the lawsuits he's filed against those who write negative comments on social media criticizing what she calls a "reclusive property owner."

It's time to redline. For those unfamiliar with redlining, we take a story and refute the lies, line by line. If it's red, I added it into the story. Again, I urge readers to recognize that I cited this commentary in my introductory graph. 

What follows is why you need us.  Why do we need you, Lauren? How are you going to impact the financial success of that "charming little town" of which you write?
Admittedly, this cautionary tale is self-serving, Self-serving?  Are you also an internet troll guilty of using social media to criticize and critique businesses and those who run them? but it also may signal the happy turning of a corner on the social nastiness and disregard for the truth that has overwhelmed the internet and politics today. Ok, you know you're blowing smoke, right? There will come a time when the Supreme Court takes a case on certiorari that re-affirms the first amendment. You are relying on judge-made law and settlements. This type of law is not constitutional. It relies on precedent, of which settlements don't count.  And given that Amber Antonio's commentary is a matter of constitutional law, this latest effort by business to strong-arm citizens into silence will eventually land in the laps of our Supreme Court Justices. 
The local story starts in Central Florida’s most charming little town, Mount Dora, where businessman Ken Mazik is among the three largest downtown property owners — and not the most popular one. And there you have it.  Mazik has been criticized in his role as a property owner.  The fact that he is among the three largest property owners in Mount Dora conveys upon him the status of public figure.  Public figures, in their capacity of public figures, do not enjoy the same rights of privacy or protection that the common citizen does. He can be slandered and libeled as a public figure. 
Mazik, 77, for years has been a punching bag for residents angry that he has left some commercial property empty, and there’s even been talk of charging a “vacancy tax” — as if an owner doesn’t get to do what he wants with his property in the land of the free. What nonsense. Mazik can buy every store in downtown and board them up if he so desires. Get over it. As horrendous as it sounds, you are correct.  Mazik can buy all of Mount Dora, he certainly has the capital to do so.  For the sake of the residents of Mount Dora, let's hope he doesn't. 
The short version of the story is that resident Amber Antonio repeatedly attacked the reclusive property owner on Facebook, calling him a “crook,” “con artist” and “sicko.” She accused Mazik of corruption and alleged that he “stacked” the council with supporters to get construction of a five-story hotel approved. Crook, con artist, sicko, "stacked" these are all words that can be used to describe a public figure in their public capacity, especially "stacked the council". These are not personal words, and I won't offer any examples for fear of stirring up another Mazik flurry of letters that contain threats to sue. That's the trick to keeping a successful investigative blog going.  Everything must to attributed to an already documented, legitimate source.  As a journalist offering an opinion piece published by the Orlando Sentinel, you opened the door to dig deeper and create a more meaningful conversation that protects those who engage in it - like Antonio.
Never mind that Mazik never has proposed a five-story hotel. That piece of nonsense seems to originated from the keyboard of yet another amateur commentator whose blog declaring itself “news” in 2015 posted a picture of a gleaming reflective glass hotel on downtown property Mazik owns and declared it the “future” of the land. I have to admit that I can't find any reference online to Mazik or MSL wanting to build a hotel. But, I hear there's a great piece of property coming up in 2019 on Lake Jem that might be perfect for a hotel/resort.
Mazik sued Antonio for defamation. Here’s what the obviously stunned resident whined to a Sentinel reporter last week: “I just voiced my own opinion based on things I’ve heard, and it got me in trouble.” Let's reiterate that Antonio made comments about Mazik and MSL in a public figure capacity.  She didn't go after his personal life, didn't address employment, didn't comment about his family.  
Seriously? Do you really think you can spread disparaging rumors without checking their veracity and accuse a person of committing crimes you can’t prove and face no consequences? So many people who venture into the realm of public comment without the sort of training journalists have are shocked when it comes back to bite them.  And that's the problem with journalists writing commentary.  Public Comment is just that and it's a guaranteed right. You cannot tell me that had you called Mazik a "crook" journalistic protections would apply to you.  What protects you is that you write about people in their role as public figures.  That is where your protection lies. Members of the audience are entitled to the same as statutes and case law that govern defamation put the burden of proving defamation on the plaintiff and not the defendant.  The reasoning behind this is that we are a democracy and conversation and discussion, good, bad, or indifferent, is inherent to the success of a democracy.  If Mazik wants a dictatorship, he best heed your advice and purchase all of Mount Dora.  

They cling to the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech. Of course, you can say what you want, but as reporters well know, you’d better be able to prove you’re right. Welcome to the grown-up world of adults where everyone is responsible for what they say or write. It might be best for everyone if the self-described “40-year-old housewife” got off the internet and returned to dusting knick-knacks in her living room. Again, journalists should not write public commentary.  You have devolved your argument into a case of "nanny nanny boo boo. I can do it but you can't too." You hurt your own reputation when you demean the subject of your stories.  The real welcome is the field of law and what constitutes defamation of character. Consider the following link a little bit of free professional development:
Across the country, similar suits are popping up in this era of new ways to get “news,” and those being trashed are winning. For example, an Asheville, N.C., woman is paying $500,000 for implying in a Facebook comment that a woman she had worked with got drunk and caused her child’s death. The child actually died in a gun accident involving a second child. While I don't believe in fake news, as our president does, I do believe in recycled news.  And this paragraph is simply recycled from other articles across the web.  It's a shame you didn't cite them.  It's more shameful that you didn't dig in and find additional cases to prove your theory. 
Businesses such as Mazik’s Main Street Leasing are fighting back against vicious, fake reviews on websites. Jewelers in Massachusetts won $34,500 after a rival business called them “thieves” on Yelp. This is not stare decisis. Wow! You've just equated the Mazik suit with Commerce Wars.  Black's Law help you understand "defamation per se. (1928) A statement that is defamatory in and of itself and is not capable of innocent meaning" as well as "Trade Defamation, (1933) the damaging of a business by a false statement that tends to diminish the reputation of that business." - Black's Law Fifth Pocket Edition, pages 228-229.  This is what occurred when one business call its competition thieves. Antonio's comments don't actually fall within either of these definitions.  If her comments are found to be slander or libel, they are better described by one or two of the many other facets of defamation.  Read Black's Law.  It'll help. 
Antonio has tried to spin this dispute into a David vs. Goliath contest, playing on Mazik’s wealth and her relative powerlessness, but there’s another way to look at things, and it’s this: Mazik, who has contributed heavily to Mount Dora’s civic health over the years, apparently finally got fed up with a decade of trash-talk and decided to strike back. Good for him. Childish. But, I will agree that Mazik and MSL has been very philanthropic within Mount Dora.  That, however, does not prove that Mazik has been defamed.  He carries his own reputation for a reason, for many reasons.  His business lies within his shadow and when it appears to operate as if it is intentionally keeping prime real estate vacant, it certainly does lead to public commentary. And let's set the record straight, Mazik is not a recluse, even at 77.  It's his practice that he will not comment to newspapers.  It dates all the back to his early years in Delaware.  He has always relied on his attorney's to comment for him whilst he hobnobs with the most brilliant local celebrities of the Who's Who of whatever town he resides in. If you are going to defend the man, perhaps you should first perform your journalistic diligence.
Certainly, there’s plenty to criticize Mazik about, if that’s the goal. Some of the facts surrounding his career are bad enough. 
He founded a facility in 1987 in the rural Lake Jem area of Lake County to care for seriously disabled clients. Now it’s being closed because of deaths and injuries that never should have happened. This is the man you are defending. Children died under his care. Children from other states died under his care, his duty. He faked his credentials and created a program that included beating students with a riding crop. This was how he defined therapeutic intervention.  He dunked the heads of children in a dirty, nasty swimming pool.  This was therapy. Random Blows to the head, beating by whiffle bat. And who can forget Pete's room? Again, this is the man, Lauren, that you are defending as being a reclusive property owner. None of these statements jive with being a "reclusive property owner." He is so much more than that.  You can't seriously tell me he has a good reputation or that he hasn't earned a bad one. What Ken Mazik has done is manage to slip and slide under rules and inspections while children died in care, all the while amassing a tremendous wealth.  Do you ever wonder what financed his early properties in Mount Dora? 
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities has stationed an inspector at Carlton Palms around the clock until all the patients can be moved. The deadline is March 2019. Mazik says he hasn’t owned the business since 2009 but still owns the property. Perhaps April 2019 will be the dawning of a new hotel?
In late 2015, the online investigative website Pro Publica wrote reams about Mazik and Carlton Palms, and they’re not getting sued. Neither is the Sentinel, which has harshly criticized some of the Delaware businessman’s ventures. Please don't call him a Delawarean.  We don't want him back.  You keep him.  
Real journalists rarely are sued because they put research into uncovering the truth, and they don’t base stories or columns on rumor. Frankly, it’s a relief to see Mazik sue. Hopefully, the action will send keyboard cowards scurrying for their lives, leaving real journalists as the last man standing. Lauren, you aren't really using an opinion piece to try to legitimize journalism while portraying your readers as ignorant miscreants? From the beginning to the end you have shown US why we don't need YOU.  Yes, we need journalism and reporting.  But, we don't need your kind of journalism. This entire piece has been an exercise in bad journalism.
And while I am at it - why aren't you writing commentary to protect the Starry Night House? It is amazing and deserves to stay! 

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Oh Dora Ann, We're Moving In

And now back to the show and tell.  I was recently contacted by Mount Dora, Florida.  No, really, Dora, herself, found me, Echo. The sleepy little farmer-artist, Dora, residing in her own personal paradise, a homesteader of sorts, near the crossroads that once carried the sweet aroma of orange groves. In the boom town years, the plateau was named for her. Mount Dora, Florida. It is with a quiet voice that Dora confides, she isn't sleeping well lately.  It's been a rough decade for her.  Her home, upon a rare plateau overlooking lakes Dora (yes, named for her), Bertrude (her sister) and Beauclair (her brother) and home to three fresh water light houses, is in a state of disgrace. The once-upon-a-time hamlet, now-grown - hosts events dedicated to the arts, tourism, and kitschy festivals of every kind. Hardly a month goes by without a special community event. However, Dora's problem isn't with the community, tourists, or even the guy who painted his house to look like Van Gogh's Starry Night.
 BTW, Lake County, imo Starry Night should stay. 
It's a rockin' piece of living graffiti art.

Nope. These are not Dora's concerns.

Dora's problem is real estate and uncontrollable egos that can't be caged. Perhaps Dora needs to invest in a riding crop. I know someone who can lend her one. However, what portends to be a real estate problem is truly one sympathetic to Echo and a local facility that goes by the name the Carlton Palms Education Center... once known as Au Clair Florida.

Here's the buzz:

Mount Dora Landlord Sues Local Woman. Well enough,  Landlord-Tenant Cases are a dime a dozen. Almost none deserve a blog post, especially here on a blog dedicated to an ill-famed internet villian who beat a child with a riding crop, unless... 

Unless the plaintiff is Ken Mazik, THE Ken Mazik, who, now at 77, has been able to elude offering anything substantial (except for a letter to the editor on "crack babies") to newspapers for nearly two decades while building his real estate holdings in Mount Dora, Florida, where he also operated the ill-fated Carlton Palms Educational Center which describes itself on its website as:
         ...well-known throughout the southeastern United States for its success in treating serious behavioral problems. Our clinicians expertly design an individualized, comprehensive behavioral plan for each individual admitted... I think I can find some families that disagree. Unless death is a comprehensive behavior plan.

But, I've digressed.

We'll get to why this Au Clair sister school is ill-fated soon enough. Because, if you thought Mazik worked Magik in Delaware, you'll be even more impressed with his infiltration of Mount Dora.

Back to Dora. It all begin with this headline: Mount Dora Landlord Sues Local Woman.  
In July, an attorney for Main Street Leasing (MSL) and its owner Ken Mazik, a prominent downtown Mount Dora businessman, sent a missive to a local woman demanding a public apology for critical opinions she expressed. The letter dictated that her apology must include arguably demeaning language about herself in order to avoid a defamation lawsuit.  The resident, Amber Antonio, refused and was sued on August 16.  
Mazik's attorney claims that Amber Antonio defamed Mazik on social media and at a town meeting. You can meet Antonio here:, where she tells her side of the story. And where you will quickly learn that Mazik will have an uphill battle proving she defamed him. That's one of the great things about the first amendment and defamation suits.  The weight of proof, a preponderance of evidence must be proven by the plaintiff, not disproven by the defendant. A true innocent until proven guilty situation. One in which the "offending" Antonio will be free to walk the streets until her December court date.

And this defamation thing, it's a real thing, a catchy little thing that businessesmen have hung their hats on to shut-down free speech and critical criticism:
Mazik, 77, is part of a growing trend of businesses and companies that have struck back against accusations and online comments they say are untrue and harmful to their business.
Mazik’s lawsuit says Antonio’s statements have “diminished profits” for his business, Main Street Leasing. The comments have had a “harmful effect on Main Street’s reputation and good standing in the community,” the suit says.
But Antonio is standing her ground. She refused to apologize and shot back that she was simply stating her opinion and that his business already suffers a bad reputation.  ------- Orlando Sentinal
Antonia is right about one thing -  Mazik already has a bad reputation when it comes to local leasing.  A visit to a friendly MSL website does show that the company currently has 10 commercial properties in need of tenants. Ten of 24 company owned units, a 41% (being generous and rounding down here) vacancy rate.  Some properties are rumored to have sat empty for 1 to 2 decades. In a town that relies on tourism it's difficult to understand why a local leasing company would let 41% of its assets go idle. It raises some eyebrows. Tax shelter perhaps? No. Not the Magikal Mazik. He's about income...not losses. Rent too high? That's an indication of whole other issue, aging. He is 77, not the pretty young thing he was when faked his credentials and opened Au Clair.

Ok, if you don't already have your giggle on and you haven't figured out that Mazik's case will be thrown out in December as it's junk clogging up the judicial system, and an affront to the legal system,  you're going to love this one last twist in the story Dora told me.  Ready. Antonio wasn't the only one who received a threat to sue from Mazik.  John Sharp, a relative unknown, who isn't even a resident of Mt. Dora received a warning indicating that if he didn't apologize for his facebook comments, Mazik would take legal action against him.  Suffice to say, he isn't planning to apologize. 

Mazik should be enjoying his golden years. Why is he wasting time and resources scouring facebook? There's a name for that. Trolling.

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During the Interlude...

I've taken the last three months off.  Why, you wonder, because life happened.  Children needed care and ushering back to school and I joined them, adding some key credentials to my resume of muckraking. When you have two on the autism spectrum, it can get pretty needy, chaotic, and brutal.  The reality is that I know first hand what the families who turned to Ken Mazik were experiencing, which is why I so passionately and patiently dove into a new blog dedicated to nefarious causes. It's taken tremendous concentration to dedicate myself to one topic when so many louder and angrier topics dominated blogosphere. When I finally unravel the magic, I will pick-up another long haul writing project. I like to challenge myself. Until last year, I had been writing a once popular and now waning education blog on my home state, started when I ran for the very not-supposed-be-but-political-nonetheless position of school board member in 2009. I won. I happen to live in a happy state that pays all elected officials except locally elected school board members.  And for that, I made it clear, you can't buy my love. Or even my respect.  And if you want to hold yourself and your ventures up on a golden pedestal or live next door to DJ Jazzy Jeff  you better be pretty damn sure that it's the hard kind of gold, not the soft stuff that after enough rubbing and polishing and rubbing some more starts to bend and bow and sometimes break. And yes, I am talking the one and only Fresh Prince of Bel Air DJ Jazzy Jeff  who lives next door to the original and still operating Au Clair/Advoserve/ Bellweather Behavior Health in an estate deep off the road featuring among other amenities an awesome helipad for when Will comes to visit - yes. That Will.  West Philadelphia born and raised...

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Hide and I will Seek...

Available research shows that Claire Mazik was largely absent from Au Clair after her divorce from Ken. She may have held a 49% interest in the school, but her passion was more for horses than the special needs children being cared for at Au Clair.

However, Ken developed another obsession, growing Au Clair and his empire, and during the 80s and 90s he took the school from being an old horse farm to a massive real estate and equity holding conglomeration.  In 2006, ownership of Au Clair was transferred to entity called Kirkwood Holding Company.  While I haven't been able to pin down exactly when Au Clair became Advoserv, the name change likely occurred in the 1990s or early 2000s.

In fact, Ken had a penchant for playing the for profit system by developing companies that supported other he owned companies, always keeping funding close to home.

Ken Mazik has been a been a principal organization member for 43 different entities incorporated in Flordia:

1. Member - Mount Dora Hospitality Group LLC  (2015)
2. Managing Member - CServ LLC (2014)
3. Chairman and President of Modernism Institute Inc. (Florida) (2013)
  • A rare Mazik Non-Profit
4. Chairman - Modernism Museum of Mount Dora, Inc.  (2013)

5. Managing Member - The Mount Dora Museum Store LLC (2013)
6. Managing Member - Cidget LLC (2013) -
7. Managing Member - Amazik Vehicles LLC (2011) 
8. Managing Member - Mount Dora Lakeside LLC (2010)
9. President - Premier Restoration and Construction, Inc. (Florida) (2009)

10. Managing Member - K&D LLC (2007)
11. Chairman - Forty Acres Holding Company (Florida) (2005)
12. Manager, - Chloe LLC (2005)
13. Manager - BeauClair LLC (2005)
14. President - Cnow Inc. (2002)
15. Director - Mardi Gras of Mount Dora Inc. (1997)
16. Director and Treasurer - J.P. Donnelly Company Inc (1997)
17. Chairman, President, Treasurer, and Director -  Jovius Foundation, Inc.  (1993)
18. Director - Lake Norris Holding Co. (1992)
19. Director - Championship Productions, Inc. (1992)

20. Director - Gilbert Holding Companies (1992)
21. Director - 699 Holding Corporation (1992)
22. Director - Bainum Holding Corp. (1992)
23. Director - Durden Holding Corp. (1992)
24  President, All Care Group Home, #1 (1991)
25. Director - Kizam Corp.  (1991)
26.. President and Director - Orlando Financial Corporation (filed in Florida with holdings only in   Delaware. ((1990)
  • 1701 Shallcross Ave Wilmington, DE 19806 
  • 4185 Kirkwood St Georges Rd Bear, DE 19701 
  • 4185 Kirkwood St Gorges Rd Bear, DE 19701                                                                             
  • 4542 Kirkwood St Georges Rd Bear, DE 19701
27. President, Treasurer, and Director - Florida International Realty Investments (1989)
28. President and Director, Main Street Leasing Company (Florida) (1986)
29. President, Treasurer and Director - Harlem Heights Leasing Company (1986)
30. President, Treasurer and Director - WaterOak Farms Inc (1986)

1. President and Director - The Mount Dora Museum of American Fine Arts and Crafts Inc. (2013)
2. Manager - Lake Jem LLC  (2009)
3. Managing Member - 846 Fifth Ave. LLC (2006)
4. Director - Advoserv of Florida (1996)
5. Director - Baker Street Gallery Inc. (1994)
6. Director - Wateroak Holding Corp. (1992)
7. Director - Cox Holding Corporation of Lake County (1992)
8. Director- Lake Carlton Company (1992)
9. Director - All Care Group Home #2. Inc. (1991)

10. Director - 431 Corporation (1990)
11. Director - Carlton Palms Educational Center Inc.  (1986)
12. Treasurer, Director - 431 Donnelly, Inc. (1986)
13. Treasurer, Member - Orange Villas Education Center Inc. (1986)

Precisely 43 different directions to find, vet, and link.  Some might call Mazik a mastermind.  I find him to be an outlier - the right place, the right time, the right opportunities, the right lies. Ken Mazik's success is not a meritocracy. 

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Where's Waldo?

Despite Mazik's propensity to avoid directly commenting to the press, he appeared to a have a penchant for leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for journalists to follow. (Yes, by this part in the series, we are mixing fairy tales.)

By February 20, 1983, Mazik was again making headlines. The News Journal actually dedicated an entire page to Mazik and his "ventures."  And the name dropping... Stoltzs', DiSabatino, Poppiti, Oh My! Magness, Brooks, and Acierno. OH MY! Mazik had certainly been hobnobbing with some powerful friends and true legacy names in the small state of Delaware.

When his focus should have been Au Clair, Mazik had other perhaps more lucrative plans.  He had enlisted Delaware builder Joseph Capano to invest in a new Harness Racing Track in Washington state. Every potential investor had to be vetted by Washington State's Securities Officer.  Capano didn't pass the vet and was forced out of the money making deal. 

Washington also announced that "Mazik's own personal and financial background" were being investigated. He would eventually pass the vetting and even was hired to sugarfoot the build. But, in the end, the names were just names. He was the only Delawarean to fund the Washington race track.
Meanwhile, during this same period of time - two Mazik trainers came forward with claims that he had failed to pay them. His attorney claimed they were owed nothing. However, Mazik, in turn, was suing his ex-wife Clair for a share of the profits in the Silk Stalkings Syndicate. After their divorce, Mazik had purchased Silk Stalkings' 1980 foal for $145,000 and established his own horse syndicate. In Florida, perhaps?
Then there were the rumors that mired the foal, Temujin. Allegations arose that  Joe Capano had been a "silent partner," a violation of the rules set forth by the US Trotting Association. Then it was learned that Temujin had raced twice at Brandywine despite Mazik's failure to register the horse in Delaware - another Trotting Association requirement. 
Clair Mazik, through her attorney, responded to the entire debacle with one particularly precise allegation - Mazik was using funds from the school for personal purchases while failing to declare dividends.  Claire asked the state to put Au Clair into RECEIVERSHIP!

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The Sound of Silence

One of the questions The Echo seeks to answer is:  what is the sound of silence?  We urge our audience to bow your heads in a moment of silence for Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard.

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2nd chances are rare. 4th even rarer.

On the racetrack, everyone knows that
only the first place finisher wins the golden purse.
The story isn't nearly over yet.
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Oz Receives a Reprieve - Earns 1 year License.

One day before the second license expired, May 15, 1982, it was announced that the school would receive yet one more conditional license - for 30 days.  On June 16, 1982, Au Clair received its fourth provisional license - for five days.  Though more than a year had passed since Au Clair had lost its permanent license, the State of Delaware just couldn't bring themselves to close school. In those last 35 days, Mazik was unavailable for comment because he was in Florida.

And then, on June 22, 1982, it happened -

Oz received it reprieve.
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