Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pics from appearance on Haitian Talk Radio yesterday...

Yours truly at left, Scott Maxwell District #1 Candidate and Loretta Sharpe, Mayoral Candidate.




We will return each Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. on AM 1340 until the election. I have made a personal commitment that when elected, I will continue my appearances on a monthly basis to keep their listeners informed on what is going on with the City of Lake Worth.
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Florida property-tax revenues projected to drop by $730 million

Click title for link.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Here's a great Sousa March - "The Thunderer" - to fire up the troops!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Candidate Statement in the 10/8 issue of the Lake Worth Herald by yours truly...

Wes Blackman, Candidate for City Commissioner, District #3

Candidate Statement

Lake Worth finds itself at a crossroads. The November 3rd election will send a message by answering this question: Will residents act to take back control of their local government from extreme elements that have taken over the political process in Lake Worth? We need to return to a partnership between the residents and their elected representatives and perform basic city services well. We can no longer tolerate hastily called meetings that take place in the middle of the day – when most people are unable to attend or listen to what is going on in the Commission Chambers. We can no longer allow staff to present items the day of the Commission meeting and expect an informed vote by our elected representatives with no possible way for input from our residents. Decisions made with little or no study may have disastrous long-term consequences.

That's why my campaign platform revolves so much around the importance of open government. You, as residents, need to know when your elected officials know and what they know. And you need this as part of a regular information stream coming from City Hall. Likewise, the City Commission needs information from you on the problems you are facing that relate to crime, City services, utilities and facilities. I purpose to make both processes much easier than they have been for a very long time. When elected, I will make sure the Commission schedules regular monthly “listening meetings” in different areas of the city. These meetings won't be to listen to elected officials beat their drums. We've had too much of that already. They will be opportunities for you to tell the City what is bothering you, what you like and what you don't like about how the City is performing. This will raise your expectations about the City responding to your concerns – and the City will have to respond like never before. I'll make sure of it.

Being an urban planner, I am familiar with how local government works and how it doesn't work. I've learned from both good and bad examples. There is much that can be done to improve the interaction across the counter between you, the resident, and the city employee at the building department and utilities customer service. For whatever reason, my opponent has not made that a priority during her two year and eight month term of office. Beyond simple kindness, Lake Worth needs to become a place where you can expect the respect you deserve as a resident, a business and a taxpayer. I'm looking forward to working with staff and our other elected officials to make these revolutionary changes happen. Please vote for me on November 3rd!

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A campaign wish from Sir Paul...


By the way, I plan on being at The Bar tonight, across from Dunkin Donuts on Dixie hwy for karaoke. KJ Alex is participating in the Oprah Karaoke Star Search - videos will be made of contestants. Should be a great time - this week and next!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lake Worth agrees to help gay-lesbian Compass center with loan for $600,000 building rehab

Click title for link to PB Post article - one of the items on last night's City Commission agenda. This is a sample of the type of problems that come from a city that does not maintain its own buildings and a building department that can be uncooperative at best and obstructionist at worst.

I am pleased that it was a unanimous decision to help Compass out of a tight situation.

Candidate Statement in the 10/7 issue of the Lake Worth Forum

DISTRICT 3 by Nadia Sorocka

Wes Blackman, 48, said the knowledge he has as an urban planner will be put to great use if he becomes city commissioner. Blackman has lived in Lake Worth for the past 20 years, living in three different neighborhoods. This is his second time running against Jo-Ann Golden. He is former chairman of the Lake Worth Planning and Zoning Board, former chairman of the Lake Worth Historic Resource Preservation Board and former board member of the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency. He also has a blog pertaining to city issues at wesblackman.blogspot.com. He said he wants to make city government more accessible to the residents.

Blackman said the city would benefit from the following plan:

"There needs to be a redevelopment of the North Dixie Highway area," he said. He would like to see retailers that can create places for people to shop for the necessities, something Blackman said is lacking in Lake Worth. He also said that the Park of Commerce needs to be utilized in a way that will bring high-qualified jobs to the community.

He said that the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is doing a good job combating crime, although he feels the current commission is not allowing the department to utilize all its resources. He said another way to combat crime is to utilize neighborhood associations and neighborhood crime watches. "They are the eyes on the streets," he said. "We need to integrate neighborhood associations with capital projects."

"Residents of Lake Worth deserve to be treated with respect," Blackman said. This is why he says he plans to improve customer service at the building department and the Lake Worth Utilities.

If placed on the commission, Blackman said he plans to establish monthly listening meetings located in different areas around Lake Worth. "I would like to have it be a community event," he said.

"I will refuse to act on an item delivered late," Blackman said. "I will also not vote on items brought the day of the meeting." He said he will do this so that he has time to hear the public's concerns and ideas on issues.

This is the paper that comes around to your neighborhood and is usually dropped on your driveway. If you would like to see the profiles of other candidates, you can pick one up in the newspaper boxes on J Street, south of Lake Avenue. Reproduced here by permission.
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Frustrations listening to last night's (10/6) City Commisison meeting...

I listened to most of the meeting last night via the live Internet stream. Regarding the change in language for the Residential Planned Development (RPD) district - the change that will allow Publix to do what they need to do for a grocery store at the northeast corner of 2nd Ave. North and Dixie - there were a couple other ways to go about it. The best and surest way would have been to go through a land use plan change that would best reflect the commercial use of the property - but seeing as the City Commission has allowed our Comprehensive Plan to slip out of compliance, that was impossible at this time due to tight time constraints for the project to happen. Instead, the Commission voted to change the wording in the zoning code related to all RPD districts - which was over-reaching and unnecessary. RPDs typical involve a specific property and carry specific conditions related to that property that make it a "planned development." For some time now, the City had been getting away from using RPDs entirely - the Lucerne happens to be governed by an RPD. The Master Plan and the eventual code re-write was to have included more of a "form based" zoning approach - so that you could better predict what would be built there as a property redevelops. That seems to have gotten lost in the hype about the Comp Plan and all the late changes that the City Commission is ladling on it.

Speaking of the Comprehensive Plan, the Commission voted 3-2 to hold new buildings to 35 feet in commercial areas and to 30 feet (I think?) in single family residential areas. They sent the whole matter back to the Planning and Zoning Board for consideration at their next meeting so they can return a recommendation for the October 20th City Commission meeting when the changes will be incorporated into the version that is set up to the Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee. One thing I can't get over is how many times everyone talking about this process from the dais mentioned that "DCA told us to do it this way." I guess that's what happens when you have staff and elected officials that don't know much about the Comprehensive Planning process, the city's role in it and DCA's role in it. Alas...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Judge rules LW Commissioner Jennings' protest of Israel OK

Click title for link to PB Post article.

Sheriff's Office asks for help finding missing Lake Worth man

Sheriff's Office asks for help finding missing Lake Worth man -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

City Commission Meeting - Click here for live link - 10/6



Commissioner Mulvehill is attending the meeting by phone.

My "Chicken of the Tree"

A great BIG thank you...

...to those who attended the campaign fundraiser at the beautiful home of John Deese and Steve Locante. Great hosts and supportive guests - thanks for your acts of generosity and all the free advice too! It will come in handy on my way down the campaign trail. I was actually able to use some of it at the Tropical Ridge neighborhood association meeting after the get-together.

Off we go to a better Lake Worth!

Monday, October 5, 2009

West Palm Commission response muted to city's 117 pollution violations

Click title for link for PB Post article. Northern part of Lake Worth is drinking and bathing in West Palm Beach water.

Requests in to City Clerk's office...

The long overdue audit is at City Hall and I requested a copy. I hear that the Internal Auditor is gone - more on that later. Also, strangely, the July 20th City Commission meeting minutes are "not completed." There are minutes in this City Commission's agenda packet through the month of August. This is the meeting where the Commission discussed taking back the CRA - the one I mentioned below.

Hmmmmm.

If you have a while, click here to listen to the archived audio link of the 7/20 meeting.
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Sign order is in!

Thanks for being patient for those who have been waiting. If you would like one, e-mail the campaign at wesfor3@gmail.com with your name and address. Thanks for your support!!
Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Some more background on the Cultural Redevelopment Program

While on the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) board last year, I - along with other then-members of the CRA, initiated the Cultural Redevelopment Program and brought in Hands-on Consulting (principals involved in the Paducah "miracle") We worked on attracting the Palm Beach County Cultural Council and that is now playing itself out. The CRA also was THE applicant for $25 MILLION of federal Neighborhood Stabilization Grant (NSP-2) program money which will be combined with the Cultural Redevelopment Program to bring about the renaissance of one of our most blighted neighborhoods in the city. We'll find out if the CRA will receive the money early in December.

By way of contrast, the City Commission did little in way of assistance in putting together the application for NSP funds and, had it been up to them, no application would have gone in and we would never have a chance at the $25 MILLION of grant money. This even though our need score was "through the roof", according to our grant writer. It was after the CRA made the application for the money that the City Commission, led by Commissioner Golden, called for takeover of the CRA for more control over our spending. She even remarked that she wasn't sure about the application for federal money ($25 million) since they would tell us how to spend it and we know better how money should be spent here.

Now, Commissioner Golden claims she "took the lead..." in getting the Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant money in her campaign literature.

No she didn't - instead she played the role of critic and was unable to see how the $25 million would help the city.
Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Lake Worth sculpts image as cultural capital

Click link for excellent PB Post article by Leslie Streeter - some excerpts:

And in its biggest coup, the city has persuaded the Palm Beach County Cultural Council to move its offices here next year from West Palm Beach.

The city's community redevelopment agency also has launched an ambitious project called the Cultural Renaissance Program, a novel approach to economic redevelopment through the arts.

Launched in April, the Cultural Renaissance Program has a goal to make Lake Worth the county's cultural center. Its first project was spending nearly three-quarters of its $1 million budget for the just-ended fiscal year on moving the cultural council, an umbrella group representing the county's cultural organizations, to the city.

Its next move is promoting reduced-cost purchases of foreclosed or abandoned commercial and residential properties. The city hopes to entice artists to convert them into studios and work spaces, eventually eradicating pockets of blight, says CRA Executive Director Joan Oliva.

The program is focused on an area of about 130 homes, west of Dixie Highway between Second Avenue South and Third Avenue North and west to North D Street.

**********

While Paducah's project began with the purchase of properties, Lake Worth's began with a $700,000 incentive to woo the cultural council to town from its offices in a West Palm Beach high-rise.

"That was a completely different way to start, and in my wildest dreams we never thought we would start there," Barone says, "but I told (cultural council Executive Director Rena Blades), 'We gotta get this done.' "

Blades agreed. Four years ago, her organization created a strategic plan that called for its relocation to a downtown area accessible to pedestrians, where there would be meeting and exhibition space for local artists. When Barone called "out of the blue and said, 'We want you to move to Lake Worth,' " she knew they'd found a match.

"It's perfect, because of the history of (the city), because of what is already there, and because of its promised future," Blades says. "There are those fabulous buildings and cultural entities like the Playhouse, and all those art deco buildings. The history is very rich, and one we can tap into. In that groovy little place, this stuff is gonna thrive."

The cultural council hopes to have secured a location and begun its move within the next year, Oliva says. In the meantime, the CRA is preparing to buy properties, beginning with commercial property, within its target area.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Howard Thurman

Don't worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.

Listen to Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelly Vana 7 to 8 p.m. (10/3)

Click title for link. County Commissioner Vana is taking the place of City Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden on the Live Show with Jim Stafford.

Despite repeated attempts, Commissioner Golden did not return calls to set a date for an interview and answer questions from listeners regarding her campaign.

I appeared on 9/20 - an archived show is available by clicking #1 on the player in the right hand column of the blog.
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Lake Worth residents would lose hundreds of low-cost parking spaces in beach redevelopment deal

Click title for link to PB Post Article. The question must be asked: "Why is Lake Worth, again, at the last minute, trying to re-negotiate an agreement with the County?" We have known about this requirement as long as Commissioner Jennnings has been on the Commission.

Notice of Rent Increase...

This is being distributed to all residents of Lake Worth Towers - senior citizens on fixed income who can least afford an increase in their rent. The reason for the rate increases goes right back to the City Commission. They are the ones that put forward a 15% per year increase in water rates over the next five years to cover the cost of contract foibles and our new reverse osmosis water plant - that on top of our electric rates being at least 30% higher than FPL. Look for your new rate increases coming in your next utility bill - the one for usage in October.
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CS Lewis

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Video showing the newly-discovered coral off the Town of Palm Beach

From Tom Wranke, Surfrider Foundation:

This newly-filmed video was made to document and help save the recently discovered colonies of staghorn coral off the Town of Palm Beach. Many colonies were found to be flourishing, and one area was estimated to be hundreds of feet long. In 2006 staghorn coral was included for protection under the Endangered Species Act, since more than 90 percent of it has died in the last 25 years. But this portion of reef was not included as designated habitat since it was not believed to exist here. It was discovered during an initial search in areas not frequented by divers, and is now being documented and mapped in numerous locations just off the Town of Palm Beach.