Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

In honor of Patsy Cline - one of my favorties...

Had a great time at the LW Playhouse last night...

"Always Patsy Cline" is playing through May 3 and I recommend that you go see it. Lisa Millls, who plays Patsy Cline is a dead ringer for her. She has a tremendous voice and her command of Patsy's songs is unbelievable. Lots of costume changes too. Neat story is that Ms. Mills was introduced to Lake Worth by coming up from Broward County to the Street Painting Festival. She saw the Playhouse was auditioning for this show and the rest is history. If your a fan or even if you're not, I bet you would really enjoy this show. Thanks Playhouse for a great time!

Don't scramble your eggs yet...

Frank Cerabino on our egg produce(r) crisis.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Last night's (4/22) CRA/City Commisison meeting on Setting Priorities

I thought you would be interested in what happened at the joint CRA/City Commission meeting last night, held at Compass. All were present but for Commissioner Lowe. At our meeting back in February, we refined the priorities identified from last year and came up with a revised list. The City Commission and CRA board members were asked to rank the projects/issue areas from 10 to 1 - with 10 being the highest priority. There is a spreadsheet showing how each person ranked the items and the overall result as a web page that accessible by clicking the above title. It shows some interesting common points, as well as some key differences. The overall priority is reflected in the order of the items on the spreadsheet.

It seems that everyone is generally excited about the cultural redevelopment project. Mark Barone with "Hands On" consulting is still getting up to speed on everything - actually started last Wednesday - and gave a brief presentation on what he is looking at in order to build the information he needs to get moving.

A couple things were discussed that you might find revealing. One was that Vice-Mayor Golden suggested that we should look at ways for the CRA to create revenue. She gave an example of a situation where if the CRA boundaries included parks, then the CRA may be able to share in revenue from the concession stand - my hand to God! I suggested that it might be a better way for the CRA to create revenue by getting someone to build something in Lake Worth and add to the tax base. One of the obstacles to doing that is the nightmare in the building department - permitting, plan review and inspections. I said that many contractors and people with money to invest in Lake Worth aren't - they have essentially red-lined the city and refuse to do work here. CRA board member Lynch referred to this as "adverse selection" which ends up costing each Lake Worth resident more money and less of a quality result whenever they try to improve their property or better their place of business. I asked what the elected officials have done to improve the situation.

Surprisingly, Mayor Clemens took the blame for this saying that he could have done more over the past two years to make it better. He pointed to the new city manager coming on board at the end of April and at the same time realized that is not an answer. He said that he tried to work out some easy permitting process, but that went no where. He acknowledged the problem. Vice Mayor Golden says that they are doing more training now. Commissioner Jennings was silent on the issue. Later, Commissioner Mulvehill acknowledged the problem of long lead times and the effect that has on businesses.

Many board members identified the need to come to a conclusion about fixing the re-appointment process where 6 board positions are up for renewal at the same time. Attorney for the CRA said that he can work on an answer and have something by the end of the month. I suggested that, even though I don't know if I'll be re-applying, that the board is working well together, has good discussions and communication with the City Commission is better - so I encouraging the Commission to keep the same composition as much as possible.

Commissioner Jennings noted that Dixie Hwy seemed to be getting worse with more vacancies - she has noticed this while riding her bike along the road. She suggested that the culutural redevelopment program - which ranked universally high amongst most responses - include some blighted neighborhood area that abutts Dixie Hwy. I agreed and suggested - as I have before - a way to capitalize on our past as being a beach town that grew up around US 1. Let's find a way to honor that history as an asset and make it a redevelopment theme along the corridor. This could be done in junction with West Palm Beach, as well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ethics commission looks into Lake Worth commissioner's financial disclosure filings

The PB Post picks up on the Lake Worth Herald article. Click title for link.

Earth Day Aerials

Cool reminders of the beauty and peril of this planet. Click above for link.

Antique Surfboard Being Presented for Exhibition at Museum of the City of Lake Worth

Palm Beach County Surfing Pioneer Dave Aaron will be in Lake Worth on Friday, April 24th to present his antique balsa wood surfboard for exhibition at The Museum of the City of Lake Worth. Mr. Aaron was one of the first people to ride a surfboard in Palm Beach County and is participating in a local project to preserve the history of local surfing. The antique surfboard is ten feet long and has been meticulously restored to its original 1940's condition. Possibly shaped by one of the world's most famous early surfboard shapers, Bob Simmons in California, the board traveled to Hawaii before Dave began riding it at the original Palm Beach Pier as a teenager in the 1940's.

Mr. Aaron is an inductee to the East Coast Legends Surfing Hall of Fame. In the mid-1960's he was a founder of the Palm Beach County Surfing Association, which included more than a dozen local surfing clubs from Boca Raton to Jupiter. At that time the Association spearheaded a legal challenge to a surfing ban by the Town of Palm Beach, and won the case in the Florida Supreme Court with the pro-bono help of a then-young attorney, Joel Daves.

Dave Aaron will be attending meetings of the newly-formed non profit organization, The Palm Beach County Surfing History Project, while in town. The group is organizing exhibitions of local surfing photos, boards and memorabilia from local collections in Palm Beach County. For more information visit the website at: surfhistoryproject.org

The public presentation will take place at the museum on Friday, April 24th at 3 P.M. Mr. Aaron will be available for interviews and photos at that time. The Museum, located at the City Hall Annex, (414 Lake Avenue) showcases the history and culture of Lake Worth and the surrounding areas. Displays throughout seven rooms are packed with artifacts and photographs of early Lake Worth.

Admission to Lake Worth's Historical Museum is free. Hours are 10 to 4 weekdays (closed noon to 1 P.M.).

For more information visit the website at: surfhistoryproject.org or call Tom Warnke at 561-236-0155.

Annabeth Karson tries to find ways to get around the Sunshine Law...


This is from the City Commission meeting last night regarding the Community Relations Board. The Commission eventually tabled action and scheduled another reading of the ordinance since many changes were made to the version that was available to the public. This only after the acting City Attorney reminded them that there may be legal and definitely were clerical issues why the item should be re-heard and not voted into law last night. Commissioner Jennings thought her eight (8) changes were minimal.

The video shows another attempt by Annabeth Karson, one of Commissioner Jennings faithful, to get around the Sunshine Law issue. She sounded the same horn regarding the Affordable Housing Task Force from a few years ago. Mayor Clemens, in response to her plea, said that he's looked for ways to get around it and there aren't any, but - heavy sigh - it's good for open government. What a thing for a Mayor to admit to - that he's looked for ways to get around the Sunshine Law.

Regarding the chicken and duck issue, expect to come back later more refined than this time. Most spoke in favor of it. Staff, already over-burdened, is going to work on allowing bee hives.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Another example of dirty pool on the part of the City Commission Agenda...

This came out today at 4:58 p.m. - how is this adequate public notice for a City Commission meeting? Especially sensitive is the item under IX Unfinished Business - Direct the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance regarding changing the zoning to SF-7 on property located at 826 Sunset Drive.

This is no doubt a result of the joint Planning and Zoning Board/City Commission last week where Richard Grosso, Esq. spoke. I have explained in a previous post how SF-7 would not equal 7 units to an acre on this property as the minimum lot size and dimension required cannot be accommodated on this size or shape of property - with the necessary roadway dedications.

Why the secrecy? Why slip this in as an "add/delete" - are you afraid that someone might actually have a good argument to keep the current zoning? All in all a cowardly act not in keeping with the spirit of the Sunshine Law.

Excuse the watermark - I am trying out a new file conversion software.

Laptop's back...

They did have to wipe out the hard drive so it's back to the basics for a day or so. Lots of drivers and programs to re-load. Sure runs faster! Where did I put that pesky home wi-fi password?

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Business - Item C - City Commission Meeting 4/21 - Chickens, Ducks and Bees

Commissioner Jennings has placed an item under New Business that suggests the amendment of the City Code to allow chickens, ducks and bees in the City of Lake Worth. This is, at this point, just a suggestion to the Mayor and Commissioners to consider this and is not offered as an ordinance or public hearing at this time. (Click title for link to back-up)

O.K. - I get that we need to be closer to the source of our supply of food. The infrastructure that supports our food delivery system is very energy intensive and contributes to global warming. I also get that eggs are a good protein source and having the means to do that relieves people that are of meager means from shelling out money for protein.

What I don't get is how does this make sense in the environment we know as Lake Worth? Generally speaking, we have 25 and 50 ft. wide lots through out most of the city. The way this is proposed, this would allow 6 chickens per person plus 6 ducks per person. That means if you have a property with a family of six, you could have a total of 36 chickens and 36 ducks. Think of the amount of manure produced by the birds during a week's time, multiplied by 52 weeks a year. Commissioner Jennings mentions the creation of "nitrogen rich" fertilizer - exactly how much can be accommodated on one property? We would be creating another waste stream that would ultimately be the city's responsibility to take care of, right? Do we add another day to the already overly complicated trash collection schedule for the collection of bird waste? Do we then establish a program that uses the waste in city parks? Who is going to enforce the number of animals per person? Don't we have a problem enforcing the number of people living at a property already? Can we afford to have another burden placed on our already over-burdened code enforcement personnel?

With chickens come roosters - there are already some in the city which crow when the sun comes up. Chickens in a coop, as described, will need to be permitted and some sort of zoning review would be needed to make sure the setback is not being violated. Chickens may not be confined all the time and their natural tendency is to roost at night, in trees. These trees may be on the lot of the chicken owner, or on the lot of a neighbor that may or may not like chickens. Chickens do not understand the concept of property lines.

One would also assume that periodically, if there is a rooster present, that there will be chicks and at some point the magic number of six per person would be breached. At that point, we can predict that one of the older chickens may become dinner. What happens to the offal created by slaughter of chickens? Feral cats colonies are all over the city - how do they play into this newly created ecosystem? Has anyone considered avian flu?

So, there are a lot of questions - and many of the same would apply to ducks. What is too bad is that Commissioner Jennings doesn't want us to ask these questions. If you dare ask questions about this you are labeled as someone who supports mechanized farming, promotes global warming and continues to perpetuate oppression of the masses - or just plain evil. Just like if you were against the labor - oops, Mentoring Center - then somehow you were a racist.

Why bring this up now at a time when we already have enough situations in this city that need to be addressed? Adding another controversial item to the to-do list isn't the way to address the city's real problems.

I wonder, did Commissioner Jennings army of door knockers tell those in College Park of that her "Grand Work Plan" - her words - included the introduction of chickens to the city?

I'm still looking into the bees and will probably have more on the chickens and the ducks later.

At the Compass Cyber Center...

This is really a great resource. It's perfect for me while I wait for a diagnosis on my laptop problem. Don't forget about this being here. They also have wi-fi throughout the building - no charge.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

City Commission Agenda - 4/21

One of the items that jumped off the agenda - besides the one about the birds and the bees - comes from Commissioner Mulvehill about the banning of Blackberry and other devices that send and receive messages during a City Commission meeting. The memo from the Commissioner is very general and doesn't just refer to City Commissioners and the Mayor. Which it should.

We in Florida are protected by the Sunshine Law which has a broad public infromation law that makes any city related communication public information to and from an elected or appointed official - and city staff. I have always had a problem with officials using those devices during meetings to send or receive messages. I also have a problem with Commissioners calling in for attendance during meetings for many of the same reasons. The public has a right to know what is contained in those messages if it relates to the proceedings going on at the time. If it is regarding other city related business, that is part of the public record as well. This has been schooled into me during various annual initiations on the various public boards that I current sit on, or have been a member in the past. That includes text and e-mail messages from private e-mail accounts. Especially sensitive would be any communication during meetings - and this is even more true during quasi-judicial hearings (like appeals) where the City Commission should only be presented information on which to base their decision at that particular public forum - not from another source.

So, yes, I favor the ban related to people on the dais using such devices. The way the memo is written makes it seem like it would ban the use of the same devices by the public. This is something that can't happen - freedom of speech comes to mind at the top of the list, but what about the simple convenience of having someone in the audience that is monitoring the progress of a meeting. Many times I have been able to text to people that were waiting for an item to appear that it was about to come up so they wouldn't miss it. Likewise, there are family emergencies, both small and large, that periodically need attending to and the need to know about those is important. If the ban did include the public, it is just another way the city is limiting the way information is delivered about the goings-on at public meetings - something that we have come to expect with this Commission - with it's mid-morning meetings, hardly publicized meetings and the like.

Update...

Well, here I am, back in Lake Worth. I spent the last half of the week in Washington, DC as you can tell from the some of the photos that I posted here. The reason for my trip was to give a talk at the Hillwood Museum on 1920s Palm Beach society. That was on Wednesday night and I was able to spend some extra time wandering around the city. I got back on Friday, but not before my laptop refused to boot-up for me at National Airport. So, now it's in the shop and I am using a friend's computer to post this. I'll find out what is wrong with the computer and let's hope it's not too serious. It turns out that the camera's SD card with more pics of where I talked and others of DC in general are with the laptop, so when it gets back I'll be able to post those too. In the meantime, there is lots to talk about.

"Here a chick, there a chick, everywhere a chick, chick.."