Monday, June 23, 2008

Something you might be interested in...

These are a series of questions posed to me by people on the Lake Worth Media site.  Many of them revolve around utility issues - water, waste water and electricity.  You might find my responses interesting, or maybe not, but at least they are here for you to see.  There is a link to Lake Worth Media on the right hand side of the page.  If you visit there, it is under the forum topic "POLITICAL PLATFORMS".

Anyway, here it goes:

Their questions

1. What should be done with our power generators? 
2. Should we get out of FMPA? 
3. Do you think Jo Ann shouldn't have brought up the CRA? 
4. Do you think the CRA acted in the public interest on the Pugh property? 
5. Do you think we should stick with the county water deal? 
6. Do you think we should stick with giving our waste water away for 30 years? 
7. Do you think the water deal was decided properly? 
8. Are you in favor of yanking 6 to 10 million from the electric upgrade to fund the county water deal? 
9. Have you studied these issues carefully?


. What should be done with our power generators? I understand that they are out of date and are only used during peak demand periods. We were supposed to receive some had-me-downs from Ft. Pierce that were marginally more efficient through FMPA - that was through all requirements program. Is there a secondary market? 
2. Should we get out of FMPA? A qualified yes. If we want the added burden of bargaining for our own power deals and making sure we are independent and produce power ourselves. That may open opportunities for more green alternatives that we could do on our own. However, it is a commitment and perhaps worthy of a referendum. We also have to think our unrepresented consumers of our electric power - Palm Springs, unincorporated PBC, etc. 
3. Do you think Jo Ann shouldn't have brought up the CRA? She should not have been the one to bring it up, especially since within two months of pounding on a volunteer board her agency applies for a $300,000 grant or forgivable loan from the CRA - for a mismanaged project and one that there was no budgeted program for. Communication is key here and I really put most of the blame here on the Mayor since he was the former chair and could have played more of a liaison role - he didn't which brought on the crisis. 
4. Do you think the CRA acted in the public interest on the Pugh property? I would not have gone along with the option. I go back to 2005 when the P&Z was one vote away from approving MVTransit on that site. They had a seven year lease, would have improved the property and provided a needed service to many of our citizens. We could have even worked a deal with them on a trolley/shuttle type service. When their lease was up we would have had land next to the FEC that could be utilized for a station? I never thought that was the best lot anywhere on 6th for residential of any-kind, but especially not rental. 
5. Do you think we should stick with the county water deal? Yes, alternatives should have been investigated and the RO decision and process was flawed, but the decision has been made. This is one where the city reacted when it should have been much more proactive. I'm not sure why WPB is suddenly the undeniable choice on this board. Palm Beach has had terrible results with WPB water and I am not sure of the integrity of their system. They may want us to shore up their budget. I'm suspicious. I think we could have investigated a deal with Palm Beach and our RO, but that would have taken more time than we had. I have an issue with going back on our word after we have made a decision. 
6. Do you think we should stick with giving our waste water away for 30 years? Again, moral issue about going back on our word. I have a problem about giving away anything that is ours without negotiating to our best advantage. If there is any opportunity to re-open the deal, I would push for it and get something out of it for us. 
7. Do you think the water deal was decided properly? See above - the problems with the outfall permit shouldn't have snuck up on us and the City had been consistently behind the ball on this issue. 
8. Are you in favor of yanking 6 to 10 million from the electric upgrade to fund the county water deal? I'm afraid that bond issue is being used as a piggy bank to make up for a whole bunch of mistakes. It should be used what it was intended for. I expect that the City will be issuing another bond for the electrical upgrade. 
9. Have you studied these issues carefully? Not as thoroughly as some (eh hem), but I would base my decisions on recommendations from qualified professionals.

My miscellaneous responses - please go to their site if you want to see what additional comments other posters had.

RE Jo Ann - read the state statute on conflict of interest. It does not have to cause a personal gain or loss - it can be to your employer. I'm not saying this has to be a Federal case, but for the high level of sensitivity you give anyone or anything for being corrupt, I think this at least rates a place on the radar screen. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. 

Remember, I was accused of having a conflict because my previous employer - some 12 month hence - came and darkened the P&Z board with an application. One of your faithful made that an issue in my campaign.

What about the most obvious issue, wasting millions of our dollars. Does that not count for anything. Would that not be the moral and ethical and responsible thing to do, bring it back to the Commission. What if someone had come before Congress and had proven their case that there were NO weapons of mass destruction. Would you rally your constitutents and end our invasion? Or would you stay in because it was going back on your original vote, spending trillions of our Treasury for a mistake?

Didn't we determine that there were no WMD in Iraq? Yes, there were none. Haven't we until now stayed in Iraq? Yes, but failed policy and wasteful action on many counts. 
Are we going to revisit this long standing policy once someone new is in the place of Commander and Chief? Yes, especially with the Democratic choice. 

Now, what does this have to do with the water and waste water agreements?

Never mind which water option you think is best, it all boils down to a staff that is misinforming the commission and who is benefiting from it? Staff actions have precluded any informed decision making and they know, by the time you see the results it’s too late to fix it… and responses like this are what keeps corruption comfortably in place.

I agree with this 100%. That is the problem with the question that I was asked. I am not sitting up there. If I had not been given thorough information, and I am a good judge of that, I would have called them out on it and not be made to rush to a decision. What we really have to do is to get the people that are up there to understand that there may be other information out there to consider that wasn't considered before. As it applies to the water deal, I do not think that WPB is somewhere to run to for the answer to our water woes. 

My point is we shouldn't even have been put in this position where it was again an all or nothing, time is of the essence proposition. What works is when you have LEADERSHIP that is equipped with even a moderate range radar and a staff that looks at information as a commodity that is neither good or bad - all information needs to be examined so that we know what the possibilities are. And we need to have alternatives if Plan A goes south. All has to be presented so that all the positive and negative implications can be weighed. 

But we are in this position and the decision has been made. The key to this rests in the current Commission. The Mayor is not the leader he said that he was. 

Wes, is that how you think the problem of city staff lying to the commission should be handled… make the taxpayer pay for it and do nothing to stop it?

No, I think if the staff lied, then we fire the staff for misrepresenting critical information needed for a decision and then we revisit the decision - if indeed that was the case. Me, private citizen, recently appointed to the CRA, can only do so much. And I really need to be walked through all this "new information" that wasn't considered to really understand its significance. But, I do work, participate in my community, enjoy my private life and currently do not hold elected office. Thus my question, "Why are you so interested in what I think?" 

This county deal is nothing more than a gravy train for Mock Roos and company.

I believe that is entirely possible. Mock Roos has miliked the gravy train since 1957 and no one is doing anything to stop it. Mary Lindsey and I researched the way to do that - Went to Northern PBC Improvement District where they extracted Mock Roos' tentacles from the operations - it has been done, but it takes time and political will by our LEADERS. 

Think about it

I am.

By saying this, I don't mean to belabor the point, but I do find it hard to believe that, if not an out-and-out conflict of interest (although it may be), rational people able to read this message board do not at least see the hypocrisy in the following series of acts: 

Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden leads the charge for the City Commission to take over the CRA. 
* Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden's reasons for doing so include the need for City Commission budgetary oversight and financial responsibility in CRA dealings. 
* Two months later, the Lake Worth CDC, where Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden is a paid employee and whose title is Project Manager, applies for a $300,000 "grant or forgivable loan" from the CRA. 
* The subject property was given to the Lake Worth CDC by the City in January of 2003. 
* The property is one block to the west and across the street from the Pugh property. 
* The Pugh property was the catalyst for Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden to call for the takeover of the CRA, citing the $15,000 per month option contract on the property among other factors - including the establishment of more rental housing in the area. 
* Commissioner Retha Lowe went on record as wanting only single family homeownership in the area. 
* The reason for the $300,000 grant cited by the Lake Worth CDC was that estimated project costs increased from $761,000 to $1,300,000 since 2003. 
* That is a 71% increase over 5 years - not the 50% as mentioned in the back-up material. 
* The total number of affordable RENTAL housing units proposed is four (4). That amounts to a grant of $75,000 per unit. 
* In comparison, the Pugh property represented 55 affordable rental units and 15,000 square feet of commercial space. 
* Hammon Park was given a grant by the CRA in the amount of $50,000 to support green construction efforts. Spread over its 137 homeowner units, that's an investment of $365.00 per unit. 
The $300,000, if granted, would have to be transferred from another account since the item was UNBUDGETED. 

Commissioner Jo Ann Golden is retained by the Lake Worth CDC as a project manager. Her name is peppered throughout the "loan" application (actually a "grant or forgivable loan" application). Did she know that this "Project 6/E "was in need of $300,000 when she went after control of the CRA's duties? That was only two months ago. The application shows multiple other financing commitments in place, so someone close to the project would have to know about the project shortfall when those negotiations were going on.

So then I am frankly presented with a credibility problem. All the people here that have a very sensitive nose for anything that smells of conspiracy, corruption, "pay for play", whatever chose not to attend the CRA meeting when this application was presented for funding. You also chose not to talk about on this site, while that is all that I could talk about on my blog. And then I am being asked why I would let something go after a decision has been made - and it wasn't my decision to make. 

Frankly, I question the figures, the discussions, the sources, the record, because all that I know about an alternative is from this site. I really do want to believe something - trust me on that. And I understand that a lot of work has gone to preparing these analyses and that effort should be commended - if it is grounded in reality. 

But I hope you understand my reluctance on believing all of the information that is presented here - the above is only one of the more recent examples.