Saturday, January 16, 2010

Click here for link to latest City Manager's Report - Week-ending 1/15

No longer is the report linked to the current week's regular City Commission meeting agenda. You can find it under City Manager in the left-hand column of the city's website. Some editorial comments of mine will follow in a separate post.

If you have time - Listen to this very informative news conference held yesterday with Secretary of State Clinton (1/15) re Haiti Crisis

Note from Joan Oliva re NSP2 Grant

All,

The Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is thrilled to announce that it is the recipient of $23,237,500 from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help stabilize neighborhoods and rebuild communities. The Lake Worth CRA is one of only seven organizations in the state of Florida to receive these funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

These funds are granted to states, local governments and non-profit housing developers, under HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), to spur economic development in hard-hit communities and create jobs. Nationwide, nearly 60 grantees are receiving these awards which total almost $2 billion. A full list of grants awarded can be found on HUD’s Recovery Act website: http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/documents/nsp2grantchart.docx

The CRA was the lead applicant on this grant which includes a consortium of 20 community based organizations and local companies that plan to address the distressing effects of foreclosed properties in the heart of Lake Worth. This consortium plans to address the stabilization and revitalization efforts through acquisition and rehabilitation of property, demolition, new construction of residential property, homebuyer counseling, subsidy programs, access to employment training and land banking.

I have attached a Memo prepared by Staff back in November to provide you with some details of the application and the formal letter of award.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you all so much for your support and I look forward to all of working together.

Joan

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/hud-secretary-donovan-announces-2-billion-recovery-act-grants-stablize-neighborhood

Joan C. Oliva

Executive Director

Lake Worth CRA

Martin Luther King Jr.

“Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it politic? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular- but one must take it simply because it is right.”

From FaceBook: Current Status of Many Friends

UPS is shipping anything under 50lbs. for free to Haiti. You can send food, clothes or shoes...and American Airlines is taking doctors and nurses to Haiti for free. Please call 212-697-9769. Spread the word...Red Cross needs Creole speaking volunteers for a 24hr phone bank. Call Mr. Wilfrid @ 305-776-6900 ASAP....Please repost this info.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

From the City's website: City of Lake Worth Organizes Earthquake Relief for its Sister City St. Marc, Haiti

The City of Lake Worth’s Mayor and City Commission come together with local Haitian Leaders and residents to devise and implement a relief plan for its Sister City St. Marc in light of recent tragic events following Haiti’s earthquake.

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, centered just 10 miles from Port-au-prince, crippled Haiti. This is the strongest earthquake to hit the area in over 200 years. Communication and infrastructure networks have been severely disrupted but the widespread devastation of this disaster is being revealed by the hour.

Mayor René Varela and the Lake Worth City Commission last night met with many Haitian community leaders to devise a community based approach to bring relief to its sister city, St. Marc. Many in attendance stated that their desire is to ensure that a solid plan is formed so that the relief supplies and resources go directly to Haitian people with the highest need. For this reason, a consensus was reached to establish a list a recommended non-perishable goods for donation (below), multiple drop-off locations for supplies within the city, a list of volunteers, and a resident committee named Lake Worth Haitian Relief. This new committee, led by Dr. Aurora Francois the principal of Barton Elementary School, will develop a plan for coordinating middle and long-term post-earthquake relief efforts on behalf of the residents of Lake Worth. Dr. Francois can be contacted at 561-540-9101 or francoa@palmbeach.k12.fl.us. In the immediate term, the Mayor recommends that residents make monetary donations to the following organizations: The Red Cross (text "HAITI" to "90999" and $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross, charged to your cell phone bill) or (http://www.redcross.org/), Helping Hands Mission, Inc. which is based in Lake Worth (561-433-8123, 561-502-4775), or Doctors Without Borders (http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/), all of which have relief personnel on the ground in Haiti and need financial contributions to reinforce their efforts. Additionally, the city and community have established thirteen drop-off locations for nonperishable goods (below). The continued generosity of the people of Lake Worth will be the life changing difference that will bring hope to Lake Worth’s friends in Haiti.

Recommended Supply Donations & Drop Off Locations

FOOD & SUPPLIES
Cereal
Pop Tarts
Sardines
Can Goods
Carnation Mild Powered Milk
Diapers
Wet Naps
Tents
Sleeping Bags
Flash Lights & Batteries
Candles, Matches
Clothing
Plastic Flatware
Powdered Drinks
Construction Gloves
Construction Rags
Umbrellas
MEDICAL SUPPLIES
Band Aids
Gauze Pads
Medical Tape
Hydrogen Peroxide Pads
Alcohol Pads
Antibacterial Ointment
Toilet Paper
Latex Gloves
Tampons
Sanitary Napkins
Aspirin
Surgical Mask
Asthma Inhaler

Recommended Drop-off LocationsP. Agneau Georges (561-424-6102)

Pastor Leonce Estimable (561-201-3470)
Pastor Arnold Principal (561-540-3801)
Bishop St Hilien Tica (561-273-3882)
Jean Marie Dossous (646-377-9434)
Pastor Elie Louissaint (561-856-2536)
Pastor Jacques Louis (561-502-4069)
Pastor Charles Duperval (561-577-0583)
Pastor Marcel Vincent (561-502-2638)
Pastor Gregoire Saint Louis (561-254-7351)
Pastor Ralph Pierre Louis (561-577-5869)

Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce, 501 Lake Avenue (561-582-4401)

Barton Elementary School, 1700 Barton Road (561-540-9101)

Click here for link to Message from County Commissioner Steve Abrams

On how to go about finding the missing in Haiti.

GREAT NEWS! Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) gets $23 million plus NSP2 Grant!

Click title for link to document. Many communities and agencies applied and did not receive funding. Highly competitive and this will help stem the foreclosure crisis in an area of critical need within Lake Worth.

This is the grant that the CRA applied for in July while I sat on the board. A month later, the Board was called before the City Commission and chastised for acting independently. Commissioner Golden said that we shouldn't have applied for the grant as we know how to spend our money better than the federal government does - we don't need to be told how to do it.

She used the application for the grant in her campaign materials.

The amount of the grant is a little more than half of the city of Lake Worth's annual general fund budget.

Florida

$ 348,311,034

City of Sarasota

$ 23,000,000

Habitat for Humanity International, Inc.

$ 74,698,534

Housing Authority of the City of Tampa

$ 38,000,000

Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency

$ 23,237,500

Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida, Inc.

$ 89,375,000

Neighborhood Lending Partners of West Florida, Inc.

$ 50,000,000

Palm Beach County

$ 50,000,000

From this morning...



Lake Worth follows county's lead, begins charging for boat-ramp parking

Click title to link to PB Post article.

Go Rachel!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I am hearing that there is an emergency City Commission regarding aid to Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake, 7 p.m. @ City Hall.

Reminders about how the Complete Count Committee conundrum became political...

  • Commissioner Golden suggested that her chief campaign organizer become the chair of the Complete Count Committee.
  • In a reflex reaction, the City Manager follows that suggestion, knowing that it pleased the "majority"
  • That person, Annabeth Karson, would not do it for free and required an assistant - another political campaign operative.
  • Not only would the "potential" be there for the "appearance" of unethical behavior in terms of gathering information for future campaigns, this highly visible position working with leaders from churches, community groups, civic organizations would undoubtedly elevate the stature of that person in the eye of the general public as someone of authority working for the city.
  • Before you know it, that lovely person (or persons) who organized the Complete Count Committee is knocking at your door in a future campaign.
Do not think for a minute that these indirect effects were not considered. This is the same Commission majority that didn't see a conflict with Commissioner Golden interviewing her boss for a position on the CRA, cares little about the amount of campaign contributions to Commissioner Mulvehill's campaign received from beach casino building tenants. There are more examples.

How is that Ethics Ordinance coming?

And did anyone on the dais last night who was "surprised" about the lack of respondents to the RFP ever think that it might be due to the city's poor reputation in abiding by its contractual obligations or its turbulent political environment?

Click here for Center for International Disaster Information

Haitian Prime Minister estimates death toll at over 100,000

Click here for link to U.S. Department of State Website and Haiti Information

Click here for link to Red Cross - Haiti Information - Donations

Click here for The White House Blog - Help for Haiti

Lake Worth decides to hire two workers to boost Census participation

Click title for link to PB Post article on last night's meeting.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Click here after 6 p.m. for Live Feed from 1/12 City Commission Meeting

They switched the order of the items on the agenda and will be dealing with the Justice Action Grant first and then the Complete Count Committee.

Commissioner Maxwell made a motion to discard both bids from the RFP. The motion failed due to a lack of a second. He questioned the need for this process. Discussion is going and they will be discussing the applications tonight. This even though both are considered incomplete.

Annabeth Karson stepped to the podium and is asking for questions from the Commission. Commissioner Golden asked why the signature page wasn't signed. She responded that it was in done in a rush and there were problems with the indemnity clause - after consulting with professionals. They received word late that the Commission could delete that requirement.

Interesting. Commissioner Maxwell is asking about what other community organizing activities, specifically, Ms. Karson has been a part of in the City of Lake Worth. He is asking questions about many of issues that I raised in the previous post.

Commissioner Maxwell made a motion identical to his previous motion, which failed for a lack of a second. This was after public comment. Commissioner Jennings then made a motion to give the contract to the Karson/Coolican team. Commissioner Mulvehill seconded it. Many people commented on the political nature of this issue. Guess who is up for re-election this year and look who made the motions. Commissioner Jennings thought the response from Karson/Collican proposal was very complete and addressed the city's needs.

Commissioner Mulvehill says that this decision "vindicates" the City Manager and reinforces that this is a political decision. She thinks this might create problems within the CRB, if the board was given the task.

Commissioner Maxwell made a plea to focus on doing the city's business and not be political all the time on every issue. He says that this is going down the way everyone predicted. He is also concerned about the goal of hitting 50,000 as our population - the result is the result, not whether we meet a "goal."

Commissioner Golden says that people work on elections in a democracy. She delivered some very nit-picking questions about the CRB operations and did not clearly understand the actions of the board.

Mayor Varela thanks those that applied and wonders why there weren't more. Wants to change the tone about how we treat folks here tonight and how they treat staff. He knows we are going to get a good job done here. He will be consistent with his views on process - these were two non-responsive bids. He is voting against this due to that and would do the same for either respondent.

City Attorney says that any action should be contingent upon them signing the response and agree to the indemnity and a hold harmless clause. This would protect the city if the two commit a negligent act, it couldn't come back to the city.

3-2 passed, Commissioner Maxwell pledged the city's cooperation.

They then went to discuss aid to Haiti related to the earthquake today. He is pushing for releasing of the emergency apparatus (ambulance/fire truck)

Chasing our Tail...

One of the items on tonight's City Commission agenda concerns the RFP for the Complete Count Committee. In previous posts, I detailed the situation and the problems with having political operatives being paid to head the City's effort in the 2010 Census. Others noticed this too, and after a few weeks in the position, the political operatives were released of their duties. This came after many stops and starts and after "much blood spilled on the altar of objectivity." The whole situation was handled poorly by the city administration. The Commission acted to solve the problem, acting on a somewhat urgent basis, and put together an RFP for a "firm" to head-up the complete count effort. The due date for responses to the RFP was last Friday.

One of the alternatives, only at the last moment identified by the City Manager, was to have the Community Relations Board (CRB) head up the effort. This made great sense as it was a new board that already counted among its members people of the community with links to neighborhood associations and other groups in the city that could assist with getting residents counted. Their combined connections could achieve the Complete Count Committee goal and do so on a volunteer basis - not on relying someone to be paid to conduct the effort.

In order not to miss the bus, the CRB actually responded to the RFP. While not technically a firm, it wanted to assert itself as an entity that was already existing, politically neutral - or at least representative of the make-up of our community, and present itself as a choice for the City Commission to consider when reviewing the other proposals when they were opened.

As it turns out, no "firms" responded to the RFP, but the same political operatives that were released from their duties previously responded, along with the CRB. According to the back-up material, both are considered "non-responsive" as the city believes the CRB did not have the authority to sign the form and that the other response lacked some of the required information. That being said, the City Commission still has the right to alter the requirements, discard all responses or essentially do whatever it wants as a body.

Back at the beginning of this episode, the City Manager asked the Commission - one assumes members of the current "majority" - for ideas to head up the Complete Count effort. In an act of potential political patronage, Commissioner Golden recommended Annabeth Karson. The City Manager assumed this would be on a volunteer basis, but it turns out that Ms. Karson required payment for her work and she needed a paid assistant as well. The total amount allocated for these two positions was $30,000.

In turns out that for the period the two worked, they were paid $4,000. There is some question as to whether or not any work product, information, contacts were retained and available to whoever would end up doing the work. That work product is really property of the city - actually the public-at-large since these are all public documents. It may be a more serious problem if that information is produced for whoever ends up doing the work.

If you look over the responses, it becomes clear that the City gets more "bang for the buck" using the CRB, with the bulk of money going towards actual outreach efforts, collateral material, etc rather than most of the money going to pay salaries of individuals.

So, what the City Commission should do tonight is scrap the notion that there ever was an RFP and give the job to the rightful entity - the CRB. If it doesn't, it really amounts to a snub of another volunteer board (like has been done through past poor treatment of the Planning and Zoning Board and the Community Redevelopment Agency). If the City Commission chooses to go with the political operatives, then they send a message that Lake Worth is the home of machine politics and that to matter here you have to subscribe to the prevailing ideologies exposed by the three person majority.

Many think they know what the answer will be tonight - how unfortunate it will be if they are correct. The best outcome would be for Ms. Karson and Ms. Coolican to abandon their requirement to be paid and work with the CRB. In the end, an accurate Census count is critical for the City and they should work on it in a volunteer basis, as they do in various political campaigns. I guess we should assume they aren't paid for those duties, but who really knows?

John F. Kennedy's "Peace Speech" - June 10, 1963

Commencement Address at American University. John M. Reeves Athletic Field, American University. Washington, DC.

"Truly, as it was written long ago: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth."

"So, let us not be blind to our differences -- but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."

"But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because freedom is incomplete."

It is the responsibility of the executive branch at all levels of government -- local, state and national -- to provide and protect that freedom for all of our citizens by all means within their authority. It is the responsibility of the legislative branch at all levels, wherever that authority is not now adequate, to make it adequate. And it is the responsibility of all citizens in all sections of this country to respect the rights of all others and to respect the law of the land.


"All this is not unrelated to world peace. "When a man's ways please the Lord," the Scriptures tell us, "he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights -- the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation -- the right to breathe air as nature provided it -- the right of future generations to a healthy existence?"

"The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough -- more than enough -- of war and hate and oppression. We shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we labor on -- not toward a strategy of annihilation but toward a strategy of peace."

Monday, January 11, 2010

There is a notice on the City's Calendar for the Justice Assistance Grant - Meetings and Events

You get here by going to the "Meeting and Events" tab along the left side of the homepage.

Is this adequate notice? Why no agenda?

Titanic To-Do List: Re-arrange Deck Chairs

You might want to click here to be brought to a page on the City's website where you can take a poll about plastic bags. You can click here and page through the same presentation made at the last City Commission meeting.

It turns out....

...that if you are interested in the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) for which the City is eligible, you should attend a meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at the Compass building. The proposal is to fund two full time code enforcement officers who will work in coordination with the Sheriff's office. The grant would fund the positions for two years.

Part of the grant application process requires the following:

So, it would make sense to have what amounts to a public hearing on the program around the same time that the City Commission is meeting regarding CDBG funding.

The only problem is, how is anyone going to know about this 6 p.m. meeting today if it is not included on an agenda? There is nothing about this on the city's website. Was this advertised? Is the City Commission attending? Are they going to be discussing options on the use of funds? Does anyone care?

Let's always err on the side of over-advertising and over-communicating, rather than being insufficient or having none at all.

You can read more about the program under the back-up information on this Tuesday's meeting.

Two Important City Commission Meetings this Week:

Click here for back-up re Monday's meeting.
Click here for back-up re Tuesday's meeting.

A couple of interesting articles from around the state...

January freeze to send February utility bills soaring

Movers show state population growth stalled in 2009

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Intracoastal Rights-of-way Meeting - 1/13 - 5 to 9 p.m.

Alternatively referred to as "Pandora's Box" - and, if anyone cares, it is the Intracoastal Waterway.

This is a very important meeting to be aware of this week. It's about opening up the various dead-end rights-of-way along the Intracoastal. If you live around one, you definitely need to attend - many unintended consequences may be unleashed in implementing this program. I know of one lawsuit already filed by an adjacent property to one of these areas.

I'd be interested in hearing your comments. I can forward them on to Commissioner Mulvehill - the one leading up the effort.

Click here for current inventory of Florida House of Representatives bills filed - total of 313