Saturday, January 12, 2008

Blog Banner

If you visit here regularly, you might have noticed the great expanding and contracting banner that leads the top of the blog. Today, it seems to be settling on a shorter version of the banner, rather than a taller one. It is intended to be the taller version. The Blogger help desk is full of complaints from people about it and they say something is in the works. In the meantime, we can watch as it shrinks and stretches from time to time.

But this attention on the banner gives me an opportunity to talk about the content of it (the picture) and a lingering, incipient City policy that you may not know about. It took me by surprise and to my knowledge it has never been discussed in a public forum.

To the right is the "official" City of Lake Worth "logo". On one of the early editions of my campaign flyers, I included this "logo" on the top of the back part of the hand bill. I was told by the clerks office that the City logo could not be used on campaign materials and that it had to be removed. So, we took the time to sufficiently cover each one of the offending pieces of literature with a sticker that obscured the image. In future editions of the same flyer, we removed the image completely. This being done even though the City does not have a copyright on the image and nothing is written down (in the form of an ordinance or a resolution) relating to restricting the use of this image. The rationale given for this "policy" was it might confuse people that somehow the City was endorsing the candidate - which, of course, is an absurd notion that the City would be endorsing any candidate. Furthermore, aren't all candidates running to represent the people of the City of Lake Worth and, as such, wouldn't the logo of that organization have a place on material related to any candidate? At the end of the day, it really didn't matter as the campaign complied with the "directive" given.

However, the issue reared its head again as one of my campaign mailers used an image of City Hall (the building at 7 N. Dixie Hwy) as the background and it included the City logo that can be seen on top of the electronic sign on the front lawn of the City Hall. Then I was told by the Clerk's office that a campaign couldn't use the image of a City building as part of its campaign materials and that, again, I used the logo. So, just so everyone is aware in case you plan to run for office - you cannot use the graven image of a City building in your campaign propaganda. Again - even though this is not part of any ordinance or resolution or state law or anything like that.

Imagine if this policy were carried out on a state and national level - no use of the flag, any government building in any promotional materials.

Given this, it would be well worth our while to set out strict policies about the use of the City's logo and other images. I really think that it is out-of-bounds to exclude images of the City's own buildings as that may be, and was for my campaign , one of the key parts of a candidate's platform. City buildings are public property and images of them would fall into the public realm, I believe. And, if the City is serious about protecting the use of its logo, then it should go about getting it copyrighted and be ready to act on any infringement of that copyright.

And, while we're at it, we should create regulations to better restrict the use of political yard signs. As our focus is on election related matters due to the coming ballot issues on January 29th, it might be a good time to do that now.

So, coming back to the banner used on this site - I decided to use the image of the former Casino building as the banner due to its symbolic importance as being on the City's flagship property and how it represents the aspirations of the City - realized or not. It is also not recognizable as a City building - in an attempt to avoid any infringement on this "policy". It's even harder to recognize now in its truncated version. And right now I am not running for anything.

Thought that you might be interested in this issue. And, just as I was finishing this post, the banner is back to its proper dimension. We'll see if it stays like that.

Friday, January 11, 2008

City Announcement re Office Closures

Over the next two (2) weeks, implementation and training of Lake Worth's core software program for several City operations will require the closure of the Lake Worth Building and Business License, as well as Code Compliance offices. The Building and Business License as well as Code Compliance offices, telephones and inspection services will not be available on the following dates:

January 11, 2008 - Building Services and Building Licenses
January 18, 2008 - Building Services and Building Licenses
January 22, 2008 - Code Compliance

Department operations will resume at 8:00 a.m. the following day when the departments shall reopen for business as usual. Customers requiring inspections, business licenses, or any other related service provided by any of the aforementioned departments are requested to contact the respective department prior to the dates noted above.

Building Services and Business Licenses Basement Level at City Hall (7 N. Dixie Highway) 561-586-1644

Code Compliance 130 N. Dixie Highway (former Gallo Building) 561-586-1652

Exception: The City Cashier (located in the basement level at City Hall) will be available for transactions.

We apologize for the inconvenience and know that you share in our common goal to provide the best service possible to our community.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Lake Worth Election Analysis - 2003 to Present

Thought this might be helpful to re-post given the ballot measure coming up on
January 29th. More on this later.

Wow, what's it like to have time on your hands? I'm starting to wind down after Tuesday and actually have time to do things other than campaign. The above is some information we used in my campaign about voting trends and turn-outs. It's interesting to review just to refresh your memory about what has transpired in the recent past.

A few notes here. The ultimate winner of an election is highlighted in yellow. Winning vote totals are in blue print. Also, the line that says "Total Votes" - the column on the far right has the percentage change between the general election and the run-off.

Kind of neat to study for a while. If you come up with any revelations, let us all know by clicking on the comment label below this post. And sorry, I didn't have the results of the District #1 race or Mayor's race from 2003. If you have access to those, let me know and I can include that here too.

From the Onion...

Somebody Should Do Something About All the Problems

The Onion

Somebody Should Do Something About All the Problems

Why isn't anyone doing anything about all the problems? We're living in a time with super computers and underwater sea stations and million-dollar laboratories. And still, everyday when I watch the TV news shows I see all sorts of problems!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

KaBoom! Playful City Grant Award

Unfortunately, we (Lake Worth) didn't win the grant. But we got the "Golden Kazoo Award for the Best Collective Footwork".

We'll have to try again next year. The video below was released at 1 p.m. this afternoon. - Longview, Washington - Atlanta, Georgia - East Cleveland, Ohio were the three big winners.

Where has all the money gone?

Long time passing. Where has all the money gone, long time ago? Where has all the money gone? Gone to consultants every cent. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Click here for PB Post article.

I remember last year about this time, during my campaign for the District 3 Commission seat, talking about the perception that "Money was flying out the windows at City Hall and there is no accountability". Well, here we are about a year later and the internal auditor's report is out pointing fingers at the problem - almost half a million dollars spent that was not approved or authorized by any City Commission action. There is now talk of the possibility of pressing criminal charges over the unauthorized expenditure without competitive bidding.

Let's look beyond the issue of these landfill related expenditures for a moment. What led the City to be in this most unfortunate circumstance? My money is on a series of weak City Commissions dating back 15 or 20 or more years. Over time, the polarity has been reversed so that the City Commission answers to City staff. This culture is one where the Commission ends up being the public relations arm of a City staff that knows best and is unchallengeable.

In this instance, staff omitted information or contorted information to continue unauthorized spending. Where were the questions from the Commission? Where was the overall policy related to the strategic vision for the landfill? Mayor Clemens is quoted as saying any sort of redevelopment of the landfill would be a "waste of taxpayer money". Nice sound bite, Jeff. But what is the City going to do with this substantial amount of acreage along its southern boundary line that isn't a waste of taxpayer money? Could we have a discussion on that please? Why not call a special meeting on just that issue?

And, let's have a series of meetings about establishing a policy related to procurement of professional services! Let's find a way to conform with State law as it relates to issuing contracts for professional services so that we are not under the control of Mock Roos (City staff asserts that the City's civil engineer is not subject to the bidding requirements under state law since the relationship started in 1957 - WRONG!).

This is where the hole in the SS City of Lake Worth is. Let's stop bailing out the water and fix the leak once and for all.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

So long Sharon...

If you read the Palm Beach Post today in the local section, you discovered that Sharon Jackson was released from her City of Lake Worth duties on Friday. She was the main staff support for planning and zoning issues for the City. In the article, Mayor Clemens acknowledges that the department was shorthanded (an understatement for a city the size of Lake Worth). I was surprised to hear that they have a replacement ready to start on Monday morning. Anyone think about a national search?

I am not sure if most of you are aware but Sharon and I go way back to when I first moved here. Back in 1989, I moved to Florida and worked for the City of West Palm Beach - in their Planning Department. Sharon was a senior planner in the department and during my time with the City - almost four years - we worked on many projects together. Our career paths then went their separate ways, only to cross again in Lake Worth during my tenure as Chairman of the Planning, Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board. I even interviewed for the position of Planning director for the City when Ed Breese left. When I applied, there was only one applicant for the position and Paul Boyer was about to offer the position to me. I encouraged him to go back out and find additional qualified people. My goal was to make sure we had the best Planning Director possible - and how would we know if I was the only one who interviewed for the position. And, besides that, it just didn't look right.

So Paul Boyer chose Sharon and the rest is history. I am glad things worked out the way that they did as it allowed me to establish my own planning practice and, had I been chosen as the city's planning director, would not have had the opportunity to run for the City Commission seat last March.

Things are meant to happen for a reason and I am sure that Sharon will be fine. In fact, someone just left a message for me that they have some opportunities that may interest her. As far as the City's new planning director - I do not know Marc LaFerrier and have not had many projects in Broward County or Ft. Lauderdale where other people I know many know him. Again, I hope that the City ended up with the best planner they could find - but was he the only one considered? In any case, good luck Mr. LaFerrier!

And, to Sharon, may you have good luck and success in in all your future endeavors.