Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another of the weekly information installments from Punta Gorda...

The spread of misinformation is not limited to Lake Worth - and sometimes comes from "legitimate" media sources. Check out this week's communique from our stalwart elected official. This comes to constituents as an e-mail message, with the City Manager's weekly report attached. I've highlighted some areas that deal with their water supply - apparently they are headed toward construction of their own reverse osmosis water plant (Click title for link to the City Manager's weekly report):

Good Day,

Well if you were around downtown last weekend your saw our city in full swing; hundreds of people crowded into the Event Center for the quilt show while hundreds more were at Laishley Park at the Peace River Art Festival, while at the same time a Corvette Car show was being judged at Gilchrest Park. The streets were packed and parking was at a premium.

Some of you may have seen an editorial comment from a Barb McCauley in Wednesday’s Sun Herald in which she made allegations that the city water supply caused her pipes to corrode and leak. I can’t imagine where she got so much erroneous information, she said, Punta Gorda water uses reverse osmosis purification and must super chlorinate the water” which creates “… a corrosive combination that severely shortens the lifespan of copper piping.” Punta Gorda does not even have reverse osmosis facilities; every ounce of water comes from the surface water of Shell and Prairie Creeks. We disinfect solely with a compound of chlorine and ammonia, which has no corrosive properties. And for 20 years we have added a stabilizer that renders our drinking water less corrosive than our raw water downstream supply. She went on to say, that PGI water (for which we pay a premium) …,” and, “We already pay more for water than other Charlotte County residences ….” Of the 14 surrounding communities in southwest Florida, Punta Gorda has the fourth lowest water rates. I have heard the stories over the years of some of the older homes having breaks in their water lines within the concrete slab; they have been attributed to the use of low grade copper piping during construction. How sad she didn’t call us and find out the right information.

You will read inside that we adapted an ordinance reducing the watering fines to a more reasonable level. Until last Wednesday a first offence for watering on the wrong day was $100 followed by $200 for the second offense these have been reduced to $25. and $50. respectively.

You will also see in the report that we approved moving forward with the design and construction of our first reverse osmosis facility. Until recently the governing authority SWFTMUD did not approve of RO installation and therefore would not assist in the funding of them.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Apparently someone thinks mighty highly of their meager effort...

So Messrs McNamara and McCauley withdraw their lawsuit over the length of the Greater Bay lease - not a big deal since the City exited the deal in December. What took so long? And I have never seen someone celebrate and issue a press release over the fact that the Judge didn't dismiss their lawsuit outright. I guess they were so surprised that the motion to dismiss on the part of the City wasn't granted that they have to make it seem like a Supreme Court victory. Such fertile and creative minds have these two.

By the way, a lease term of 19 years, 11 months and 28 days is less than 20 years. The City also made changes to the agreement after the lawsuit was filed that addresses their attempt to find a shred of minutiae to occupy our Court system and spend $40,000 to $50,000 of taxpayer dollars for the City to defend their lawsuit.

Perhaps a better use of that wasted money would be the funding of lifeguards at the beach on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Jobless rate bolts to 8.1 percent, 651K jobs lost

Thursday, March 5, 2009

From a resident: LW Utilities overcharging for water

Dear Fellow LW Residents, I have recently been overcharged for my house water usage, for a ridiculous amount of 900 gallons per day, for the last 5 months. The most recent bill has gone back to normal. It's a long story, so I will spare you the details.

I have found 3 other people who have also had unexplainable enormous spikes in their water bills.

At the next Parrot Cove meeting, March 26, I am going to talk about this to see if others have also been inexplicably overcharged.

If you know of anyone in this same situation, please have them contact me. My friend in College Park who was over charged is bringing it up at their next neighborhood meeting also.

I am not sure what to do, except for now just to find more residents who have been overcharged for water, look at the cases. and go from there.

With more people involved, I hope we can find some solution.

Thanks for your time, MARIA KARKI
You can give my email to anyone in the same boat.

NOTE TO BLOG READERS: Please write down your experiences related to this problem of overcharging and forward them to me at We will assemble them and present them at one time to city officials.

Residential Real Estate Sales - Last 30 Days - 33460 Zip Code

Click title for link. Sales are happening, but look at the relationship of listing to sales prices.

What the rest of the civilized world is doing...

City of Delray Beach
City Reaches Out to Community with Citizen Survey

March 4, 2009: The City of Delray Beach is interested in residents' feedback on the community and local government. In an effort to reach out to citizens, randomly selected households will receive a survey questionnaire in the mail during March.

Since 2007, citizen surveys have provided the City with important information. Citizen surveys can help measure service performance, assess community needs and provide information for strategic planning. Conducting a survey also provides a means to obtain opinions from a broader range of citizens whose voices may not be heard at meetings or other public events.

A pre-addressed, stamped envelope will be included in the mailing to return completed surveys. All answers are kept anonymous.

If your household receives a citizen survey in the mail, please complete and return the survey. Your participation is important; please take time to let your voice be heard.

For more information, please call (561) 243-7190.

City of Delray Beach
Public Information Office
(561) 243-7190
City Commission:
Rita Ellis, Mayor
Woodie McDuffie, Vice-Mayor
Gary Eliopoulos, Deputy Vice Mayor
Fred Fetzer, Commissioner
Mackenson Bernard, Commissioner

Palm Tran Rolls Out New Hybrid Buses

Press Release from Palm Tran

In keeping with its dedication to environmental friendliness, Palm Tran, Palm Beach County's public transportation agency, has purchased three hybrid buses. The purchase was funded through a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for the Martin County Express Route, slated to begin service this summer. The new hybrids are similar in body style to Palm Tran's existing BRT buses, with the attractive rolling wave design and rounded edges.
Passengers may experience a smoother ride in a hybrid bus, in addition to decreased noise. The seats have higher backs and more leg room for passenger comfort, and the continuous domed interior lighting system is less harsh than the fluorescent lighting found in most transit buses.
The diesel-electric hybrid buses are expected to be more fuel efficient than traditional diesel transit buses. This improved fuel efficiency should make the hybrids less expensive to operate. Introducing these three hybrid vehicles into the fleet now will allow Palm Tran to test the technology prior to making further investments.

Palm Tran's new hybrid buses are in line with the company's focus on green operations. In 2008, Palm Tran implemented the use of bio-diesel fuel among other programs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lake Worth residents to pay more for beach parking

Click title for PB Post summary of last night's City Commission meeting. See item below for purpose of special meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. today - is this enough notice? I don't think so.

*Scheduled a special commission meeting for 4 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the possibility of hiring artist/urban designer Michael Singer to work on the design of the property around the beachfront casino.

From the City Charter - Article 3:

Sec. 8. Procedure.
(a) Meetings. The city commission shall meet regularly at least once in every month at such times and places as the city commission may prescribe. Special meetings may be held on the call of the mayor or of a majority of the members upon no less than twenty-four (24) hours notice to each member and the public, except for emergency sessions, which shall not require twenty-four (24) hours notice.

What's up with this?

This came in today from the City Clerk's office regarding the addition of a special City Commission meeting on March 4th - where they can take action! The City Clerk sent this out at 8:45 this morning but it's just the calendar. Today is March 4th! There is no agenda on the city's website for this March 4th special meeting. Note the disclaimer on the calendar - "Meetings are subject to change without notice."

Doesn't the Sunshine Law apply here? Shouldn't the minimum notice be 24 hrs. before the meeting?

I am picking up a CD from City Hall of last night's meeting

Florida judge rules to protect Palm Beach County reefs

Administrative Law Judge Robert E. Meale, in a 277 page decision, recommends the FDEP deny the Town of Palm Beach a permit to dredge 724,000 cu. yds. of poor quality sand onto local beaches.

Judge Meale determined the engineering consulting firm for the Town of Palm Beach, essentially played a numbers game to obtain the necessary project permits. On page 127 Judge Meale states “…CPE's reliance on GENESIS [sand transport model] was an embarrassment, and its predicted limits of longshore transport were worthless. Frankly, the main effect of GENESIS in this case is to cast doubt on CPE's other assurances concerning the performance of this project…

The judge took a firm stand on reef protection (page 231): “Because of the rare confluence of conditions required for its creation, the Florida Reef Tract cannot be replaced in any timeframe short of geologic time, so its protection, even from remote risks, must be a matter of exceptional regulatory concern.” “…the performance of the beach, filled with excessive fines, poses a potential threat to the offshore reef. Storm-driven plumes of unnatural turbidity can carry these particles from [the fill area] Reach 8 to the offshore reef, where they may settle on the coral, obviously harming or killing this critical resource.

The ruling reads like a laundry list of potential crimes against nature:

  • Palm Beach has failed to undertake a monitoring program to assure that the project does not have an adverse impact on the Florida Reef Tract.
  • Palm Beach has failed to provide adequate engineering data concerning shoreline stability and performance, post-construction, and the potential impacts of the project upon the beach-dune system of Reach 8.
  • Palm Beach has failed to provide sufficient mitigation to assure the performance of the Permit with respect to the covering of hardbottom.
  • Palm Beach has failed to provide reasonable assurance that the direct and indirect coverage of hardbottom will be limited to 6.9 acres, so it has failed to provide adequate mitigation.
  • Palm Beach has failed to provide any mitigation whatsoever for the expected deaths of five juvenile green turtles from the loss of 6.9 acres of hardbottom and additional juvenile sea turtles from the loss of additional hardbottom.
  • Palm Beach has failed to provide any mitigation for the turbidity that would result from the project and deprive a wide range of species from the use of these beach and nearshore habitats, other than the mitigated hardbottom, for a period of about one year.
  • Palm Beach has failed to justify the scope of this project, given the large overfill factor that results from the relatively large discrepancy between the mean grain size of the sand source and the existing beach.
  • Palm Beach has failed to establish that Reach 8 is eroding, especially the majority of it that is not designated CEB [critically eroded beach].
  • Palm Beach has failed to justify the use of a limited resource--offshore sand--to restore considerable lengths of nonCEB, especially where they may be other, dissipative beaches that are CEBs…
  • Palm Beach has failed to show that the proposed project would produce a net positive benefit to the coastal system. To the contrary, the project would produce a net negative impact to the coastal system, again due to the use of excessive fines in the fill. The impacts from turbidity are unmitigated; the impacts from hardbottom coverage are only partly mitigated.
  • Palm Beach has failed to protect all of the environmental functions of Florida's beaches by proposing to fill Reach 8 with fill whose mean grain size is little more than half the mean grain size of the existing beach and will not maintain the general character and functionality of the beach, dune, and coastal system of Reach 8.
  • Palm Beach has failed to provide reasonable assurance that the project protects the water resources of the district from harm.
  • Palm Beach has failed to provide reasonable assurance that the project is not contrary to the public interest.
  • Palm Beach failed to show that the project would satisfy any one of the public-interest criteria except the criterion concerning archaeological and historical resources; even for the criterion of temporary versus permanent, the recurring nature of beach nourishments, on a cycle of probably two or three years, lends to the project a certain permanency.
  • The project would affect the property of others in essentially closing the Lake Worth Municipal Beach and Lake Worth Pier for about one year. The project would interfere with public safety by elevating the turbidity of the local waters, so as to raise the risk of shark...

Having sat through many weeks of the hearing, trying to stay awake during hours of esoteric technical testimony, I was elated to find Judge Meale “got it” and understands the significance of protecting the coastal ecosystem and a 7,000 year old irreplaceable coral reef.

Let’s hope FDEP Secretary Michael Sole heeds the judge’s recommendations and signs-off on the ruling to deny the dredge and fill permit to the Town of Palm Beach.

Congratulations to the Surfrider Foundation and their legal counsel Collins & West.

Ed Tichenor

Palm Beach County Reef Rescue

561 699-8559

See the 277 page ruling @:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sense of Wonder Video Screening Update

The Palm Beach County Planning Congress (PBCPC) Board is excited to announce the following updates for the upcoming video screening of "Sense of Wonder: Rachel Carson's love for the natural world and her fight to defend it."

We are pleased to announce that the panel discussion will include Melissa Meeker, Patricia Walker and Rosa Durando and a brief bio for each panelist can be found on the updated flyer for the event at

Also, the PBCPC Board has applied for 1.5 AICP Certification Maintenance (CM) credit hours for the event and will hope to have an answer shortly from the American Planning Association (APA).

With consideration of these updates we are extending the RSVP deadline. So please RSVP to Chris Barry ( by noon on Wednesday, March 4, 2009.

As a reminder this event will be taking place on Thursday, March 5, 2009 from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM.

Let me know if you are interested in attending by emailing me at

Due to popular demand...

...I have added an e-mail forwarding button. The envelope that appears at the end of each post can be clicked on and you can send the body of the post to someone on your e-mail list. Many people have asked for an easy way to do this and I am happy to comply with your requests.

Also, you will notice that the commenting feature is now in a pop-up window. I set it up this way originally and I think it works better than the way it worked most recently. We'll see how this goes. Finally, I disabled the type in word/phrase before you enter your comment. We'll see if that becomes a problem, but it should make commenting easier.

Thanks, as always, for visiting the blog.

Lake Worth, Fla. Editor Jennifer Merritt visits a family-friendly enclave in South Florida.

Wall Street Journal travel article that's making the rounds today. Click title for link. Check out the slide show too. This is good news and a refreshingly optimistic view of our city.

Reef Rescue News & Upcoming Events

Sea Turtle Day Celebration March 7


Kick-off turtle nesting season by joining Reef Rescue at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center for the fourth annual Turtle Day. Celebrate sea turtles, marine life, and our oceans in a fun-filled family day of environmental education. Over 30 exhibitors, games and crafts for the kids. No admission fee; $5 donation per person suggested.

We will have our brand new 40 minute DVD - Underwater in Palm Beach - available for the first time at our booth. Shot entirely in Palm Beach County, it contains 10 minutes of video exclusively dedicated to marine turtles. Click to watch DVD movie trailer.

Saturday March 7, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Boca Raton.

Get directions


Earth Day Kayak-a-thon April 18

It is time to sign-up for the annual Earth Day Kayak-a-thon: a 15 mile trek along the Lake Worth Lagoon through the mangroves to J D McArthur State Park, Singer Island, Peanut Island, Palm Beach and downtown West Palm Beach.

Kayakers have family, friends, associates, organizations and local businesses sponsor them for the event, just like a walk-a-thon. This has become a major fund raising event for Reef Rescue. We depend on your participation and support of the Kayak-a-thon to help fund our coral reef protection programs. Top fund raiser wins two free round trip tickets anywhere JetBlue flies

Visit: to learn more and sign-up.


Reef Rescue launches anti-anchoring public education campaign

Our coral reefs are disappearing. Boats anchored on the reef damage and kill coral.

Reef Rescue volunteers are bringing the message to the boating public by erecting signs at boat ramps and distributing flyers. While damaging coral is already illegal in Florida, enforcement has been lacking. New federal protections under the Endangered Species Act went into effect on November 21, 2008. Damaging Florida threatened corals can now result in federal prosecution.

Reef Rescue divers are underwater video taping boats anchored in coral and the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection is issuing enforcement letters. Fines can be as high as $10,000 per incident and if ESA listed corals are damaged federal law allows for fines of $25,000.


We have installed a few boat ramp signs and are already getting a positive response, but we need about 40 more, just for Palm Beach County. We are seeking corporate sponsorship for the anti-anchoring campaign. If you or someone you know are in a position to help fund this program please call us at: 561 699-8559.


Reef Rescue Files Federal Petition to Protect Palm Beach County Corals


The final critical habitat designation for elkhorn and staghorn (Acropora) corals listed under the Endangered Species Act went into effect December 2008. All Palm Beach County coastal waters were originally proposed to be designated habitat critical to the survival of the species. But when the final rule was published half of the county was eliminated. NOAA claims, in comments published in the Federal Register, they had no knowledge of Acropora coral historically or presently occurring north of the Boynton Beach Inlet.

Following this ruling, local divers took to the water and documented numerous staghorn coral colony locations from the Boynton Inlet northward. As a result of these findings Reef Rescue was able to file a formal petition with the federal government to include all these locations and designate all of Palm Beach County coastal waters habitat critical for the survival of the species. The feds have until the end of March to respond.



Click here to view NEW Reef Rescue PSA on YouTube



Palm Beach County Reef Rescue

PO Box 207 * Boynton Beach, FL 33425 *

Monday, March 2, 2009

March Library Programs @ the Lake Worth Library

@ the
Lake Worth Public Library

All programs are free and open to everyone.They will be held in the
City Annex Meeting Room
(414 Lake Ave., across the street from the library)
For more information please call the library at 561-533-7354.

"Food Attack"
Friday, March 13th -- 3 pm
(45 min.)
Flor Doylet, RD, LD/N Senior PublicHealth Nutritionist from the Palm Beach County Health Department is here to helpus celebrate National Nutrition Month with a wonderful program everyone'sfavorite subject - food. Ms. Doylet will be discussing the comparison between food portion sizes in the past andpresent and how active you'll have to be to control your weight.

Blood Components and Typing
Saturday, March 14th -- 10 am (1 hr.)

Blood, is the fluid oflife that flows through our veins. Join Dr. S. Kramer, licensed physician andeducator, for a look at answers to these questions and more. What is blood? Howis plasma different from blood? How much is in the human body? What is in theblood? What are red blood cells, platelets, white cells and what happens if youhave too few or too many? Why and how does blood clot? What are blood type andblood typing?

Finland and the "New" Baltics
Friday, March 20th -- 3 pm
(60 - 90 min.)
Join world traveler,Grant Eccles, on an exciting travelogue taking you to Finland and the"new-old" Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania.Experience and see the modern-day culture and traditions and learn oftheir unique history. Journey through amazing Finland and explore the blend ofold-time traditions an d modern-day life of this compact nation of 5 millionpeople that extends north, well above the Arctic Circle. From anotherrecent trip to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, seehow these Baltic countries are adjusting to the challenges ofrediscovery following their independence in 1991 from the former USSR and theirvery recent joining of the European Community.

Grant Eccleshas intimately explored Canada from the Atlantic Ocean to the PacificOcean and to the Arctic Ocean as well as 52 countriesworld-wide. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada and now living inBarrie, just north of the city, Grant's immediate roots are in the Sudbury areaof Finnish grandparents on one side and sixth generation Irish on the other. Throughmeans of a digital slide presentation, Grant looks forward to sharing thisimpressive and beautiful region of Finland and the Baltics with you.

Résumé Help and JobInterviewing Tips
Saturday, March 28th -- 9 am (2 hrs.)

Having trouble getting hired? Scared in an interview? Don't have thatimportant résumé? Don't know what a résumé is? Diane Clark, City of Lake Worth Human ResourcesManager, will present a look at what managers look for in a resume when hiringnew personnel. She will discuss how to fit your résumé to the type of job you are trying to get, the importanceof a cover letter, interviewing etiquette, answering tough interview questions,dressing for success and much more. Diane will be reviewing résumés at the end of theprogram. Bring yours and get free help on how to improve it.

Thank you,

Vickie Joslin
Library Services Manager

Lake Worth Public Library

15 North M St.

Lake Worth, FL 33560

It's Loquat Season!

The Loquat tree in my front yard is filled with fruit. If you like loquats, now is the time to get them. They are good in jellys, chutneys or just by themselves. Let me know if you are interested or just come by and pick away.

Links to Resources re Michael Singer Studios as provided by Jason Bregman

The EDF white paper (related to infrastructure)

The 2004 NYTimes article on Michael

The Metropolis Magazine (about Whole Foods and Community) podcast link from 2006

Metropolis continuing education section

Full PDF

Click here for Kimley-Horn's website (the city's design criteria agent for the beach RFP/Q)

Excerpted from the book "Here if You Need Me" by Kate Braestrup:

In his book The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, Brian Swimme offers the following exercise:

Invite someone to visit you who lives at least twenty miles away and who has never visited you
before. You can give verbal instructions on how to get to your abode...but the one rule is this: in
your directions you may refer to anything but human artifice. You may refer to hills, oak trees, the
constellations of the night sky, the lakes or ocean shores or caves....ponds, trails or
prairies...estuaries, bluffs, woodland....creeks, swamps...and so on.

No houses, no traffic lights, no streets or streetlights, no firehouses or Home Depots.

Could you do it? And Swimme would argue this incapacity is symptomatic of an estrangement from our "local universe" that has become endemic in our time and place.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Inside Harry's Open Door on N. Dixie

Friends and I dropped by this local institution last night - also known as "Harry's Banana Farm" - - well known for its ever-changing sign copy out front. Happened to have my camera, so I thought a few shots of the indoor decor would be interesting to share. The variety of stuff, not all suitable for prime time, on the walls and everywhere really is something to take in. Does anyone know if that old metal fish sign in the second picture up from the bottom was on this building in years gone by? If not, do you know where it came from? Anyway, we had a good time and it's one of more and more places around that somehow YOU feel out of place if you don't have some kind of tatoo showing.

Is this when it happens? Appointment of Acting City Manager on 3/3 City Commission Agenda

This is being introduced by Commissioner Mulvehill. She has been extremely supportive of removing the requirement for municipal experience for city manager candidates. She says that she is looking for someone like Frank Brogan.


And another thing...

Apparently, the Mayor will be meeting with County Commissioner Vana, County Administrator Bob Weisman, County Parks and Rec Director and others on March 12. This to inform them of the city's progress on the beach redevelopment project. The Mayor discussed this during last Thursday's workshop meeting. Commissioner Lowe pointed out that the beach is in Commissioner Greene's District. The $5 million grant for the beach came through former Commissioner Newell's district, but Commissioner Lowe indicated that they will look to the Commissioner whose district it is in for direction and guidance. The Mayor seemed surprised by this.

Here we are playing out our collective fate in a familiar role. Comes now Lake Worth again - late, scattered, hat in hand, little to show and in no position to negotiate anything worthwhile on behalf of its citizens.

This scene repeated itself as late as last week when Commissioner Golden approached the County Commission asking to renegotiate the County water contract. What possible motivation would the County have to renegotiate a contract where the ink was barely dry? They had acted in good faith in performance of their duties under the contract. This request was rebuffed by the County Commission on a 3 to 3 vote - which points out the importance of who is going to be filling the currently vacant District #4 County Commission seat. Governor Crist is taking his time in making the appointment.

At some point we are going to have to come up with a better negotiating position than the equivalent to "I'm sorry teacher, the dog at my homework."

And why are soon to be former City Manager Baldwin and City Attorney Karns mute during public meetings? Have we ever thought that it might be better not to have them there at all as their silent presence lends tacit approval of what is transpiring before them.