Saturday, August 23, 2008
Keep it up guys - thanks for getting the word out about all the good things Lake Worth has to offer!
Friday, August 22, 2008
With that as a background, a friend of mine stumbled across this letter to the editor of the San Diego Union newspaper. It was from no other than our own Commissioner Jennings. Here is the letter:
Essentially, this letter acts as a billboard highway sign for all those looking to immigrate to the United States. It proclaims that an elected City Commissioner will be the champion of your cause if you follow her to Lake Worth, Florida. These actions contribute to population growth around the world and in our own city. So, in many ways, Commissioner Cara Jennings is the most pro-growth elected official we have.
As a freshman in college, I took a class called "Spaceship Earth" and it delved into issues that were emerging then - scarcity of natural resources and energy, global warming, destruction of the ozone layer, deforestation, water and air pollution, etc. Once you pealed all the layers of the onion away, the core cause to all of our environmental problems was over-population. This is again reflected in the exchange on CNN that I shared with you.
Now, we can expect population growth in our region and we can plan appropriately for it. We can position the city strategically so that we consist of a diverse population of all income groups living harmoniously next to each other in all parts of the city. Or, according to the Commissioner Jennings "plan", we can import a population dependent on social, educational, health and municipal services into our city and house them in conditions that are only slightly better than the conditions that they left - maybe. In the process, creating more of a disparity of incomes and the distortions in quality of life factors that creates, eventually draining every financial resource available to local, state and federal governments.
As far as the violence described in our Commissioner's letter, it is deplorable and should not be tolerated. We need to come to a way to control immigration that is humane and work on economic development/human rights issues in the native countries from where our undocumented population comes. We need to start taking care of our own resident population without draining resources accommodating new populations.
I am glad that the District #2 seat is finally up for election. Now the people can have a say through the ballot box about the kind of tactics used by this Commissioner to further her aims. And do we really know her and her group's end goal? Let's hope we don't get to find out by electing this Commissioner to another term in office.
This is coming from someone who voted for Commissioner Jennings the first time around. Fool me once...
August 26 Primary Election
U.S. Congressman, District 22
State Senator, District 29
State Representative, District 78
State Representative, District 83
State Representative, District 87
State Representative, District 91
Clerk of the Circuit Court
County Commission, District 1
County Commission, District 3
Port of Palm Beach, Group 2
Circuit Court Judge, Group 14
County Court Judge, Group 3
School Board, District 4
To locate your polling place,
This paid political advertisement, which is independent of any candidate or committee, is produced, sponsored and paid for by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
Joining me now are three experts on population growth. From Washington, D.C., Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. Norm, great to have you with us. Norm is co-author of "The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get it Back on Track."
Robert Engelman is vice president for programs at the Worldwatch Institute. Good to have you with us. Robert is the author of "More: Population, Nature and What Women Want."
And that is one of my favorite titles. And here in New York is Jane Delung, president emeritus of the Population Resource Center. Great to have you with us.
Let's begin. We're talking about an outright explosion. Almost 50 percent increase in our population over the course of the next four or five decades. That's crazy.
JANE DELUNG, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, POPULATION RESOURCE CENTER: It is an explosion. For every two people that are in the United States today, there will be a third person. And this explosion is occurring both because of immigration and descendants to immigration. All respective experts say that it's between 60 and 75 percent of that growth will be driven by immigration. No one talks about this.
This is the hidden elephant in the room in the United States. We will have immigration reform discussions and debates next year. And it is beyond me why the American public is not willing to talk about what size do we want to be and how fast are we going to get there? We're growing from 300 million people to almost 450 million people in 40 years. Three million additional people a year.
DOBBS: That's incredible. To put that in some context, that growth rate is in excess of 10, 15 percent greater number than the entire number of people living in this country in 1940. That's nuts.
DELUNG: It's double the population in the 1960s. We hit 200 million in 1967. We're going to hit 450 million in 2040. It's an extraordinary growth rate.
DOBBS: Robert, let me ask you this. The environmental impact -- at a time when this country is being criticized for consuming so much of the world's resources. At a time when we are finding ourselves running into limits in terms of this country's resources whether it be for building, for the production and manufacture of products and goods, whatever it may be, what is the environmental impact?
ROBERT ENGELMAN, WORLDWATCH INSTITUTE: Well, first of all, it's probably worth pointing out that these projections sometimes change. This is actually an increase in what the census was projecting just a few years ago. Probably more because of increases in births than actual increases in immigration.
But let's assume the number is more or less accurate, it's going to be fairly close to that. It's interesting that this discussion is occurring at a time when everyone from President Bush on down has recognized that one of the reasons Americans are paying more for gasoline, more for food, is increases in demand. Demand matters and we're starting to lose confidence that I think we used to have that we can always produce more, we can always find more of everything we might need, so it doesn't matter how many people are consuming.
It clearly does matter and what we're seeing in America is a high consuming country that will need to consume about 50 percent more of the energy of housing. Whether it's John McCain's numbers or our own individual houses. We're going to be consuming more living space and more transportation. All of these things that we're worried about right now will need to find a lot more of.
DOBBS: So where is - where are the environmentalists on this? The impact is tremendous on the environment, on water supplies, on air. It's extraordinary and we're not hearing any discussion at all of what is a critically important issue from the environmental sector.
ENGELMAN: I think the whole topic of population has become very sensitive. It's scary, it's very difficult for the environmental movement as a movement to take on. And it's one of the difficulties with a lot of things we face.
DOBBS: Sensitive and scary. Why should any American in any quarter ever be scared?
ENGELMAN: People like to have safe conversations at least when they're not on television.
DOBBS: On this broadcast, we would like to have honest conversations. We want to tell everybody in this country who watches the broadcast, it's OK talk straight. We don't have to be politically correct. We don't have to be bound up with some silly orthodoxy on the left or right, some partisan nonsense. And it is all nonsense, coming from the right or left in this country. Feel free.
ENGELMAN: Fine, I do. But for those who are trying to raise funding, for those who are trying to gain members, when you're looking at a phenomena that's basically about births and immigration, it has a lot to do with sex. It has a lot to do with contraception, touches on abortion.
DOBBS: You mean life itself?
ENGELMAN: Yes, it can sometimes be sensitive and that's one of the difficulties of population. It's not like technology in just saying if we put up enough windmills, we'll be OK.
DOBBS: Let me put this in an expression of one of my daughters. Is the environmental sector about ready to man up on this issue?
ENGELMAN: I don't know if I would put it that way. But I think we're going be forced more and more to examine where we're going demographically, because it is so important. At some point, we're going to have to decide whether we're going to cap our greenhouse gas emissions. Then it will get very interesting as our population keeps growing.
DOBBS: To me, it's already interesting, Robert, to be honest, and troubling. Let me turn to you, Norm. The idea as Jane just pointed out that we're not having a conversation. We don't hear from John McCain or Barack Obama, despite all of their nonsense on the campaign trail, we're not hearing from either of them about what the country will look like, how should our country function. What should we be thinking about in terms of the resources we will demand for the population one or two generations out? We're talking about finances on some levels at the margin. But we're not talking in any real terms about population growth, environmental impact, scarce resources, all of the tough issues.
NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTUTITE: You know, it's almost inevitable in a political campaign that you look at short-term driving things. Right now, it's $4 a gallon gasoline. You mentioned the word that I think is an absolutely critical one, Lou, which is water. There will be an international water shortage. Safe potable drinking water, for other purposes that will make the oil crisis look pale by comparison.
And we really need to have a discussion of this. It's not going to happen in a political campaign, I'm afraid. We're going have to have a discussion about transportation. As more and more people move to exports, how are we going to afford to or find the vehicles or ways to get them around? And it's certainly great to have this conversation now.
You know, I might add one other thing, though. Keep in mind that as we look at our projections, in Europe the projections are exactly the opposite. They're going dramatically falling birth rates. They're actually going to have fewer people. They're going to have a whole lot more older people with very few young people to pay for the services that they've grown used to having. There's going to be crises in a lot of different ways and a lot of places, Lou.
DOBBS: We're going to don't talk about just exactly that when we continue with our panel here. Stay with us, we'll be right back. We're going talk about how in the world is the planet going to support over 9 billion people in the next four decades.
DOBBS: Jane, let me turn to you first quickly. The projections here for population growth. Do you believe that we're going to be growing faster than the rest of the world? Is it possible that it would even be growing even faster than these projections?
DELUNG: I do not think we're going to be growing faster than the rest of the world. But as Bob said, there's a real possibility that we will actually grow faster than these projections. I believe we will. The last population projections were in the mid-1990s. These projections have us with 45 million more people than they did in the mid-1990s.
DOBBS: So we continue to underestimate.
DELUNG: The growth has accelerated. We are underestimating the population that we're going have.
DOBBS: That's even more troubling. Robert, the environmental impact here, the political correctness issue, the sensitivity if you will as you described it here, there's a point of which, when we look at the issues of clean water, the energy demand that is resulting, natural resource demand. Why in the world would the environmental groups not now coalesce around this issue and start dealing with political issues that are going to have to be made in this society?
ENGELMAN: Well I think one of the things that we need to communicate better is there are reasonable choices to make. One of the big factors in this that doesn't get talked about is the high level of unintended pregnancy in this country. If we had universal health care, and I might say if we had health care that was accessible to people who are not documented here as well as people who are undocumented here so that everyone, whether you're legally here or not, could at least get access to good family planning service, we could eliminate a large proportion of the pregnancies and thus the births that are occurring in this country. That's something we don't tend to talk about, environmentalists.
DOBBS: So it's politically incorrect to discuss illegal immigration, but it's politically correct to talk about substituting the national birthrate for immigration.
ENGELMAN: I'm not sure which is politically correct.
DOBBS: We'll have that debate later. I want to turn to Norm very quickly. Norm, the choices that are here. We're talking about political choices. How do we get the political choices involved with exploding population growth on the national agenda?
ORNSTEIN: You know, we're going to have to among other things hope that we can have more than three structured presidential debates. Have a different way to focus on all of the policy implications that flow from larger population. Some are positive. We're going have young people who at least can pay into a social security system and perhaps provide some of the resources to pay for health care for the elderly population and a whole lot of others that aren't.
DOBBS: You make them sound like social security slaves that we can bring in for the great entitlement plantation.
ORNSTEIN: For our age, that's something we've got to think about, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, I didn't dismiss it out of head. Norm, thank you very much. Robert, thank you. Jane, thank you. So much, all three of you for being here to help us examine this. Come back soon, please.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Then I heard about what happened during the regularly scheduled Planning and Zoning Board meeting last night. Seems that people unfamiliar with City Hall and not sure where they were supposed to be periodically filled up the Commission Chambers last night looking for the meeting on the Day Labor Center. Probably irate already with the City and its processes, they were told that the meeting wasn't last night and they were to go home.
This is no way to run a railroad.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Per the back-up memo above, the following people will be on the November 4th City Commission ballot:
Thanks Tom! These are great. I especially like the moody skies over the ocean - vivid color.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
So how did the city do on this "test run?" Overall grade: D+ (the plus for identifying the need to communicate to the public; the "D" for doing it poorly)
The following was the first word that I received from the City regarding Fay's impact on city services. The e-mail - the one with actual words in the message - arrived at 5:15 p.m. yesterday. It appears below.
First of all there is no mention of the name "Tropical Storm Fay" in the message. The title of the e-mail is "Public Services Emergency Schedule". By reading the message, we find out that the beach and pool were closed "today". We also find out that the library closed at 5 p.m., reading the message sometime after it already closed. This sentence contains the first mention of "severe weather conditions." And we find out that public works is going about storm preparations - which they should be doing before the storm, one would assume. We also learn that emptied trash receptacles will be placed on "S/W." We are left to guess "S/W" means sidewalk? We are left with the following questions - what about garbage pick-up on Tuesday, will City Hall be open on Tuesday and will the City Commission meeting be canceled?
This next e-mail came from the city at 7:09 p.m. The title says "Tropical Storm Fay" - but contains no words in the text area of the message. Still no official word from the city other than an empty attempt to get some sort of message out to people who are on the Tropic-mail e-mail list.
Apparently, this was the intended content of the above e-mail transmission. This was part of a press release sent out to media outlets:
Here we (at least those fortunate enough to receive a full message) find out that the city will be closed on Tuesday and that the City Commission meeting is canceled. The way the message is worded makes it sound like the City Commission meeting (a "special meeting") is scheduled for Wednesday. We are left to guess whether or not that is the rescheduling of the regular Tuesday meeting that had been canceled or if it is another meeting. I have it on good authority that there is just a "special" City Commission meeting tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. to set the ballot and deal with other time sensitive issues. I am not aware of when the "make-up" meeting will take place. Oh, and if you go to the calendar on the City's website, we are told the meeting will take place at 12:30 a.m. - something that is not out of the realm of possibility? And we still don't know about garbage pick-up but I hope that most did not put out their trash cans given the high winds we experienced overnight.
By way of contrast, here is the simple and informational press release sent out by the City of Delray Beach:
Delray sends a minimum of a half dozen press releases each week on a variety of topics. I understand that they send theirs out in "HTML" - computer friendly text and in PDF documents - both. Lake Worth sends out only PDFs which require an Adobe reader and are a little more complicated for the unsophisticated computer user to access.
On Monday, I received the following "Summer 2008" - we are about 30 days away from Fall - City Times newsletter. This was one of the priorities discussed at the City Commission retreat in MARCH of this year - the need to get information out to the public. So, the City took almost six months to get out a newsletter on heavy, shiny stock and send it to all residents in the City. I am not sure of the total budget on this but for what was spent and what was delivered, I don't think we got our money's worth.
On the front page of the newsletter, we find out about the Grand Opening of the pool - that happened in May. Then we have a schedule of recreation program offerings. Very little information is offered - the most consistent message is "call for information". The entire document is also in Spanish - a good thing. But I notice the "Learn to Swim" class is translated "Aprenda a Nadir." "Nadar" is the verb for "to swim" in Spanish. "Nadir" means nothing in Spanish, but would translate from English as "mas bajo" - so maybe that means that one can learn to end up at the bottom of the pool? This error makes me think that there are other grammatical errors in the Spanish translation.
The interior facing page has the same background from the third page relating to hurricanes, but that page has no information that pertains to hurricanes. What the image of blowing palm trees does is create less contrast between the text and the background - making it harder to read - especially for elderly and people with eye conditions.
The rest is just sort of "blah". How many of these do you think will be kept and referred to over time?
Let's at least have some one - it could even be in a part time capacity - to act as the city's Public Information Officer. I would much rather have a continuous stream of simple, understandable and useful information that the dribbles that we now receive. I hope that you will bring this up to the Mayor and City Commissioners - this is something that must change.
City of Lake Worth residents, businesses and employees are advised that City services, facilities and offices will be closed on Tuesday, August 19, 2008.
The August 19, 2008 City of Lake Worth City Commission Meeting has been cancelled.
A special City Commission Meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, August 20, 2008.
(per city website)
Monday, August 18, 2008
Beach and Pool are closed today, lighting and power outages. All light objects (trash cans) etc are picked up and secured. The middle and south gates are closed and locked; all traffic in and out of the beach area goes thru the main entrance.
The Library will close today at 5 PM instead of 8 PM due to severe weather conditions.
All storm drains are being inspected and cleaned accordingly making sure we have free flow for proper drainage. Streets are being swept to try and eliminate lose debris from washing and blocked the storm drain.
Sanitation crews will put emptied trash receptacles on S/W after they are empties so street sweeper can work in street.
All public property is being policed for light and loose articles to be secured from blowing around and causing damage.
Currently, the Emergency Operations Center is operational and decisions will be made later today concerning other closures (county government facilities, schools, etc.). I will keep you advised as these decisions are made.
Comm. Mary McCarty
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Look what appears as Item N. on the Consent portion of the agenda (highlighted above): A lease agreement between the Mentoring Center, Inc. and the city for use of a portion of the Shuffleboard Courts building to serve as a "resource center."
You might recall the Jennings, Golden and Clemens vote to pursue a lease with a non-profit organization to operate a DAY LABOR CENTER out of the city's shuffleboard court building. This was about 4 months ago or so. The motion directed Commissioner Jennings to work out the details and come back with a lease that addressed some of the concerns raised at the meeting. I was one who spoke at that particular meeting and I brought up certain zoning/process issues that needed to be addressed prior to the establishment of a facility - if that indeed is what we want to do as a city. I also voiced my concern about the city aiding in the potential exploitation of workers who might access work through this program - in terms of physical injury (or worse) and how do we know that these people are being paid a fair wage. By letting this group use a city facility, it would be as if the city is sanctioning and encouraging this activity.
If nothing else, Commissioner Jennings has mastered the art of obfuscation - the ability to hide controversial items - buried in the Consent portion of the agenda and with no discernible obvious mention of what actually is being allowed there through this lease. "Resource Center" is much more of a politically palatable combination of words than "DAY LABOR CENTER" I guess making issues difficult to be aware of and to discuss is o.k. if she wants something controversial passed - you won't hear any mention of workshops or special meetings or things "moving too fast" this time. No, she'll present this as if it's ready to go, all the Commission needs to do is approve the consent agenda.
Commissioner Jennings - I am very disappointed.
I am also disappointed that no where do I see the issue of zoning and land use addressed. Commissioner Jennings acknowledged that this would be an issue the city would have to deal with and it was one of the items to be addressed in the interim. This lack of addressing the zoning and land use issues is in stark contrast to the detail and time Commissioner Jennings lavished on the land use and zoning change for the beach. I guess here it's not as important since it doesn't further her aims.
No, these are not insurmountable issues related to zoning and land use. There are ways, which I will lay out, that would be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and consistent with proper planning/zoning practice. By bringing these issues up, I am sure that Commissioner Jennings would say that I am just being an "obstructionist" and not wanting the labor center to happen. Well, we know what happens when the city doesn't follow the proper procedure on controversial topics - lawsuits ensue, delays happen and money is spent in defense of an action that could have been prevented. I guess if that's what Commissioner Jennings wants - the city to be mired in lawsuits - maybe that is one way that she can promote her anarchist agenda.
Anyway, here are the Comprehensive Plan, land use and zoning issues related to this proposal. First, it's always good to get a sense of the physical surroundings of where we are talking about. This aerial is taken from Google Earth - north is the top of the image. The FEC railroad tracks run north/south through the picture. Just to the left of the tracks - west - is the parking lot for the Shuffleboard Courts and building. The green areas in the middle of the image are the Shuffleboard Courts themselves. At the right edge of the picture, you can see City Hall.
The map below is a page taken from the city's Comprehensive Plan. By way of review, Comprehensive Plans are mandated by the State of Florida. Local governments can amend them up to twice a year. The plans and all amendments to them are ultimately reviewed and approved by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) - if found consistent with other parts of the plan and reflective of the state and regional Comprehensive Plans. Areas throughout the city are assigned future land use designations. These are broader and more general than zoning districts - and subject to DCA approval.
The Future Land Use Map below shows a more detailed view of the area surrounding Lake and Lucerne Avenues - our downtown area - and the areas assigned a variety of future land use designations. This map doesn't have a north arrow. If it did, it would be pointing to the left.
Remember to click on the image to see greater detail.
Now, let's focus on the two publicly owned (by the City of Lake Worth) properties in this area: City Hall and the Shuffleboard Court property (which includes the building, the parking lot and the shuffleboard courts.) City Hall has a future land use designation of "P" for "Public" and the Shuffleboard Court property has a future land use designation of "PROS" for "Public Recreation and Open Space". Alert readers will recall that the future land use designation was formerly "PROS". It is now "Beach and Casino" after the creation of a new future land use designation and the creation of new language. This change was reviewed and eventually approved by DCA - however a court case is pending regarding whether or not the property can be subject to a referendum on the land use and zoning change - but that's another story.
Below is a portion of the Future Land Use element of the Comprehensive Plan and the governing language for these two land use designations:
So we see from the above that a "P" future land designation is more permissive as it includes the broader category of municipal facilities - which is spelled out in greater detail in the zoning code. The zoning code is what implements the future land use designation in the Comprehensive Plan. The "PROS" designation is much more restrictive and only allows "parks and other outdoor open space areas intended for active use." Note the end line in both future land use designations: "...should not be used for other than public recreation/public purposes without careful consideration of the most appropriate use and a properly enacted amendment to the land use plan."
The following gets a little complicated but the key point you have to remember is that the current future land use designation and zoning district do not allow DAY LABOR CENTERs. A change to the Comprehensive Plan and the zoning designation need to be made to allow DAY LABOR CENTERs. There are two ways to do that - but none are currently proposed.
These are the critical points:
- The current "PROS" land use and zoning designation of the property do not permit Day Labor Centers. It is my belief that these designations best reflect the use of the property as an active recreation center.
- If the existing land use and zoning designations stay in place, then the language in the Comprehensive Plan has to change to allow Day Labor Centers in the "PROS" district. That would open up all parks in the city to Day Labor Centers.
- A new future land use designation and zoning district could be created that tailors the specific use of a Day Labor Center to the property. Doing this on such a small, disconnected property would be sanction what is referred to as "spot zoning". This term has been used in connection to the beach which is not an accurate reflection of the reality of it being an 18+ acre parcel of land. Applying a brand new land use designation and zoning district is not proper planning practice.
- The city could change the future land use designation to "P", which is the same designation carried by the City Hall property. I believe this would be consistent with the use of this public property as a recreation and administrative center for the city. Recently, there have been discussions regarding the eventual moving of City Hall further west and this property has been identified as a possible location. A future land use designation of "P" would best reflect the current and proposed use of the property - as well as the potential future use. This would follow good planning practice - but would also involve a future land use map change which is an amendment to the city's Comprehensive Plan.
- If the future land use designation is changed to "P", then the property would also need to be rezoned to "P" which is the corresponding zoning district to implement the land use designation.
- Changes would need to be made to the "P" zoning district in order for the language to support and allow Day Labor Centers.
- Additionally, that specific use "Day Labor Center" should really be made a use that is permitted through a "Special Use Permit". This would require an additional level of standards that could be applied in the review of the application before the Planning and Zoning Board.
Of course, Commissioner Jennings would like you to ignore this situation completely. In reality, much of this could have already been underway if the city had the foresight and the staff to react normally to situations that require a change in the future land use designations and rezonings.
Let me know if you have any questions or if there is something I can clarify or amplify. I'll chat more about this tonight on my Truth Matters show.
I heard that Laurence McNamara did a robo-call prior to the meeting regarding the sheriff merger. How are these calls being paid for? Aren't they like things Political Action Committees do? There was no disclaimer in Ms. McGiveron's call. And how did they access my cell phone number?
As we know, at least those of us who are active in the Lake Worth political universe, there is never a lack of topics and issues to discuss. This is especially true during an election year and November 4th fast approaches. For this first show of the season, I will chat about announced candidates in the two races, talk about some of the ballot items that will come before the voters and whatever else seems to come to the forefront. Having the show on Monday night is an opportune time to review the upcoming City Commission agenda.
I'd also like to make an offer. For now, I am comfortable doing the show myself, but I would love to have someone join me at the mic. Time goes much faster and it's much more interesting for listeners to overhear a conversation between two people. My compatriot Greg Vannier's work schedule has changed since we last aired a show so he is unable to join me during the evening hours. If you would like to participate and share the mic with me, let me know through e-mail (address is at the right hand side of the blog). You might end up joining Mars, Venus and me in my living room for the show. If enough people are interested, we can alternate or do a "round robin" sort of format. It will all depend on the level of interest shown.
So, I hope you'll join me during the live show. Shows will be archived and I will supply the link in case the time is inconvenient for you to hear it live. I'll also be taking questions from the message board - or you can post them here under the comment tab at the bottom of the post.
Thanks for your interest in things Lake Worth!