Saturday, January 23, 2010

Click here for the "last" City Manager's Report - week of January 22

From the report (emphasis mine):

A 1. DISCONTINUATION OF CITY MANAGER’S REPORT
I have been meeting with department directors regarding the need to reduce
organizational conflict and stress among city staff. During the next few weeks I
will be meeting with each City Commissioner to discuss these issues in detail and
to begin preparation for the City Commission goal setting retreat. However, one of
the more immediate issues that the directors did discuss with me, is the amount
of energy and time currently be allocated to the production of a city manager’s
report. As I have freely acknowledged, the City Manager’s Report was a very
extensive, collaborative effort among many City staff throughout each division of
the City organization. Simply stated, it takes a lot of work to collect the
information, edit and proof the submittals, and finalize the report for distribution.
It was the collective opinion of staff that the amount of effort that has been
devoted to producing the report could be reallocated to more important
operational issues in City departments.

While the weekly City Manager’s Report does provide the community with a good
deal of information about the status of city projects, programs and policy, I have to
acknowledge that the report has also generated conflict within the community. I
agree with the Department Directors that the time I am devoting to preparing this
weekly report might be better dedicated to face-to-face conversation with
employees, citizens and other governmental agencies. So, in summary, I will be
discontinuing issuing a formal city manager’s weekly report, effective immediately.
During the next few weeks I will be discussing the use of other approaches and
avenues for communicating and transmitting information to both the City
Commission and the community in general.

Tourism Opportunity?

Lake Worth city employees collect aid for Haiti relief

Click title for link to PB Post article.

Friday, January 22, 2010

From County Commissioner Steven Abrams - Palm Beach County Super Celebrations Event Schedule

In the next few weeks, South Florida will be hosting the Pro Bowl (January 31) and the XLIV Super Bowl (February 7). Both games will take place at the newly named Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. Over 120,000 visitors are expected to converge on the Super Bowl host city and the surrounding areas including Palm Beach County.

It is estimated that the average Super Bowl attendee spends four nights in a hotel, 85% are from another state, 70-90% arrive by plane, and the average fan spends $1,500 - $2,000 during his/her stay. Consequently, over the past few months, local officials and businesses have been working with the Super Bowl Host Committee planning local events for both visitors and residents to maximize the potential impact on the local economy.


A schedule of the events is featured below and everyone is encouraged to come out and enjoy the festivities!


Thursday, January 28

Super Art and Jazz on the Avenue, East Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach from 6pm – 10pm

Meet and greet NFL greats, interactive contests, Pass & Kick, FAU players, cheerleaders and Coach Howard Schnellenberger (former Miami Hurricanes coach), Atlantic High School marching band, football players and cheerleaders (www.downtowndelraybeach.com).

Friday, January 29

Meet & Greet Tailgate Block Party at Boston’s on the Beach, 40 South Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach from 5pm to 9pm

Wear your favorite jersey and interact with players from the past, present and future! Live music and food fest for an All-American football tradition (www.bostonsonthebeach.com).

Saturday, January 30

Pinball Palooza Family day at Old School Square in Delray Beach from 2:30pm-5:30pm

Meet professional football players from some of your favorite teams and enjoy arcade games. $5 family admission (www.oldschool.org).

Lions and Legends VIP Cocktail Party at the Old Homestead Steakhouse, Boca Raton Resort & Club from 4pm-8pm

Bringing together NFL Legends with autographs and an auction to benefit the Bennie Blades 36 Foundation. To secure tickets, visit www.ESMG.info or call 561-445-7066.

Youth Camp at Boca Raton High School from 8am -12pm

Interaction (for ages 6-12) with pro football players. Learn the basics of football including punt, pass and kick. Pre-registration required at www.esmg.info, 561-445-7066. Participants $15, Spectators $10

Monday, February 1

Habitat for Humanity “Super Build Day”, 721 NW 2 Street, Boynton Beach from 8am -5pm

Register to volunteer at www.habitatsouthpalmbeach.org. For more information, call 561-819-6070, ext. 208 or email ggraves@hfhboca.org. Free lunch provided.

Thursday, February 4

Super Clematis by Night, Clematis Street, West Palm Beach from 5pm-9pm

This is the largest free football celebration event in South Florida. Includes 2 stages of entertainment, featuring Starship with Mickey Thomas performing top 40 hits “We Built this City” and “Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now.” Meet and greets with pro football players. Interactive sports and “fan”tastic contests.

Saturday, February 6

Youth Camps

Dan Calloway Recreation Complex in Riviera Beach from 8am – 12pm

Interaction (ages 10-17) with pro football players to learn the fundamentals of the game. For more information about this free event, contact Riviera Beach Parks and Recreation at 561-845-4070.

Glades Central High School in Belle Glade from 8am – 12pm

Interaction (for ages 6-12) with pro football players. Learn the basics of football including punt, pass and kick. Pre-registration required at www.esmg.info, 561-445-7066. Participants $15, Spectators $10

Boynton Beach High School in Boynton Beach from 8am – 12pm

Interaction (for ages 6-12) with pro football players. Learn the basics of football including punt, pass and kick. Pre-registration required at www.esmg.info, 561-445-7066. Participants $15, Spectators $10

Please contact me if I can be of assistance or if you have any comments and/or suggestions. I can be contacted at sabrams@pbcgov.org or at my office at 561-355-2204 (West Palm Beach) or 561-276-1220 (Delray Beach). Please visit my Web site at http://www.pbcgov.com/countycommissioners/district4/ for updates and links to county departments and other governmental agencies.

More correspondence from New Zealand - "Ridge Street pineywoods" - What do you know?

Capt. Wm. S. Stafford (Ret.)

Master of Science Degree (AvSciTech)

Commercial Pilot ASMEL

Instrument Airplane

FCF Flight Engineer C-130B, E & H

Airframe Mechanic

Royal New Zealand Coast Guard Boatmaster # 37155

Canterbury,

South Island,

NEW ZEALAND

23 January 2010

Mr. Wes Blackman

Via E-Mail

Dear Wes;

Cheers for posting my letter on the blog earlier. It was good hearing from you as well.

I know that from reading your extensive blog site, you have learned quite a bit of history of old Lake Worth, especially with regards to the historic areas, buildings, and records. As we say in KiwiLand, ‘Good on ya, mate!”

I wrote to the Mayor and the LW Library a while back concerning an area of land that was east and parallel to the SCL Railway, which ran north and south from 6th Avenue South to 12th Avenue South. To the east of this strip of land was Ridge Street. I wrote asking about any historical knowledge of that area of Lake Worth, but nothing came back.

As a boy who grew-up on South Pine Street in the late 50’s and 60’s, there were still a few wooded lots around which had not yet been developed. Most of those areas we kept out of due to the impenetrable nature of the scrub brush, cactus, fire ants and the occasional rattlesnake, and, in swampy areas, the ever-present water moccasin The sandspurs were ever rampant, so riding one’s Schwinn Sting Ray into these areas always resulted in a flat tire, scratched legs, and insect bites of one form or another.

But there was an area of land that ran north to south, between the SCL and Ridge Street. This land is now long gone due to I-95, but prior to I-95 and the 6th Avenue South interchange, and the area was one of a local mystery.

There was a row of Australian Pines that ran parallel to the railway tracks, and Ridge Street. In addition, there was also some old sand seal pavement, with modern day concrete curbs with steel lips, most of which was overgrown. Among the scrub brush and cactus, we discovered the concrete foundations of what appeared to be long-gone houses, with cisterns and in-ground concrete septic tanks which were open and exposed. All of these were overgrown with vines, bushes, and tortoise dens that harboured the occasional rattlesnake.

There was a pathway running from north to south, which one could walk or ride a bike. In later years, we would ride our Honda Trail 70’s and Trail 90’s along this path which was fairly navigable. One might say it was an early BMX or Scrambler Track before such became a fashionable activity.

A few of the house foundations showed signs of a fire, and we found many 1920’s telephone pole insulators laying about. We would also find 1920’s & 1930’s era Coca-Cola bottles, and some old car parts which were clearly from a Model A Ford (I researched this in my JC Whitney Model A catalog of the time…). We then found a hub and spokes of a wheel assembly, but no metal rim. There were also some household items (ie an iron skillet rusted, flatware, and early wrenches) in the area. Coins from the area had minted dates ranging from 1908 to 1932.

This was essentially, and interestingly enough, a ghost town within the city limits itself. One kid who lived next to this land on Ridge Street said that it was haunted, and that he had seen lights and apparitions floating about. It was an interesting observation, as he never ventured into the area. We thought it may have been an excuse due to his parents ordering him to stay out of the place, and to keep off the land.

A few of us boys in the neighborhood decided that this would be a perfect hiding place to skip school, and avoid the other kids, as well as our parents! We thus began to procure materials for our already-intact underground forts!

Working tirelessly with the same energy one would have in building a tree house, we were able to make use of the underground concrete tanks. After a thorough clean-out of the weeds and trash, we found some old white paint and went to work on the interior walls. We reasoned that it was better to be underground, as the hurricanes blew away tree houses, and lightning from thunderstorms eventually would burn down the same. Underground offered protection, and invisibility! Pretty cool strategy, we thought…

We also thought that the larger concrete structure may have been a grease-pit for servicing vehicles, as we discovered a rusted flange in the middle of the floor when we cleaned the largest structure out.

We managed to reconnoitre the area and found what appeared to be the concrete lids to some of the other structures under thick brush. It took a while to roller these to the 4 walls and placed them on top, but the overhang was perfect. We also sawed old telephone poles and placed them inside our underground forts for extra roof support. Then we repeated the same for the other two smaller intact structures nearby. We were always on the look-out for intruders in the area and quick to stop work and hide in the brush in the rare event someone might be walking by and spot our ‘secret project’!

Then, we covered the two structures over with sand, and threw some of the cleared scrub back over the top for camouflage. We insured that these hiding places would only be known to the 4 of us. Oftentimes, we did such a good job that we would have to look really close to find the entrances. In time the scrub re-grew, and this made for a greater blend with the area.

Our underground fort served us really well. We fitted that baby out with lawn chairs, Eveready 6 volt lanterns, snacks, a transistor radio, and at one point a battery-operated TV! (It was great to watch Weaver the Weatherman whilst underground at 5:55PM on WTVJ Channel 4!!!) Usually our bikes would be put into the smaller underground structure, and then we retreated to the main fort. We always had tangerines, oranges and mangoes from our parent’s and neighbor’s fruit trees to sustain us during our times of retreat from school, home and other kids who we didn’t want to be around.

Over the years, I thought about the old Ridge Street ghost town, and I have always wondered who lived there and why the area was abandoned. Did the houses burn as the result of a passing steam engine that ignited the homes with sparks and cinders? Or, more interestingly, was this a neighbourhood that was devastated by the 1928 Hurricane and later burned and abandoned? The artifacts that we found pointed to that era of time.

In your studies of past historical Lake Worth, and some archaeology involved with the same, have you come across any old street maps or cancelled titles and deeds to that area that I have described? I would be curious and interested to know more about the area.

On www.ghosttowns.com, under Florida, I can’t find anything that describes this area of Lake Worth.

Cheers for any info that you may have come across, Wes; & no problem with posting this to your blogsite, as someone may know more about the area.

Kia Ora, Mate-

Will

Some headlines from Florida newspapers...

Sen. Nelson helps hurt Haitian kids get care in U.S.

Fortune again names Publix one of best employers

Thursday, January 21, 2010

John G's Restaurant Owner Dies At 81 - John Giragos - Established Iconic Beachfront Eatery In 1973

Click title for link to WPBF announcement.

Get a free "Queer the Census" sticker!

Subject: Get a free "Queer the Census" sticker!

Dear Friend,

The census is not necessarily the topic you've been waiting to hear about, I know, but bear with me for a moment.

It's coming up in March or April, and while it's supposed to be an accurate count of everyone in the country, there's no question that asks if someone is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

This is a huge problem. The data collected has a direct impact on issues that are critical to every American--issues like health care, economic stability, safety. And when LGBT people are not counted, individuals, families, and communities suffer.

The good news is that we can change this. Show your support of a census that counts everyone--say it right on your census envelope with your free Queer the Census sticker! And make sure to sign the petition telling the Census Bureau to make sure everyone is counted.

Click here for link

Click here for 1895 map of the state of Florida

Notice "Jewel" in "Dade County" - soon to become Palm Beach County.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

One of our local City of Lake Worth businesses helping our Haitian friends...


See below for a list of neighborhood businesses where tickets are available.

McMow Art Glass
701 North Dixie Hwy, Lake Worth

Ragtops Motorcars
2119 South Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach

Webber Galleries
705 Lucerne Avenue, Lake Worth

Cyber Business Center
824 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth

Information is a commodity...

... or a public good. Getting relevant and timely information should be like going to your water faucet and opening the tap to get water or turning on the light switch to see in the dark. One of the most important duties of local governments is providing a reliable and timely stream of adequate information for its citizens. The delivery of that information should be neutral of political interference regardless of the contents of that information. Regular readers of this blog know that this is a particular bug-a-boo of mine. That's why one of the main planks of my campaign platform was reforming the way the city dispenses information to the public, including the repeal of the "research fee" for public information requests. Barriers to the access of information is a favorite technique of totalitarian regimes across the world.

One of the most important ingredients in the delivery of information revolves around time-sensitive communications. Many times in government and regulatory environments you need to respond within a certain required amount of time. This is true for the local government, but the general public also needs to have notice if there is an opportunity to respond within a certain time frame in order to protect their interests. One of those interests with a high dollar value is the bundle of property rights and the preservation of same.

Recently, the City received a letter from the Department of Community Affairs dated December 30, 2009. It appears below:





This letter states that the City's Comprehensive Plan was found "in compliance" by the state agency that regulates changes to it. This set of changes to our comprehensive plan included major changes that affect property rights in Lake Worth having to do with height (maximum of three stories), re-designation of the beach property's future land use to "Recreation and Open Space" and removing the medium density multifamily land use from the Sunset property. There are MANY affected persons (those with the actual legal definition and those that will be impacted) by this finding.

Note the following:

You have a 21 day window - which ends this Wednesday at 5p.m. to challenge this action. If you don't take advantage of this, you have not taken advantage of all of your administrative remedies. This could create problems in a court of law should you choose to protect your property rights and attempt to get compensation from the city for a "taking" of your property.

Very unceremoniously, this was placed on the city's website on January 5th. No mention had been made at a public meeting that I am aware of that this action had taken place. Given the nature of these changes and the broad impact that they have, it is definitely beyond a courtesy to provide notice on behalf of the city. But, this is something that we have come to expect from this regime.

What is this?

Link on the city's website - supposedly to an interactive map described as:

"The City of Lake Worth has partnered with Dolph Maps to provide an Interactive Map of business located in the city."

Well, guess what! Poke around the map and it takes you anywhere there is a Lake Worth mailing address - which includes a substantial portion of unincorporated Palm Beach County. After five minutes, I had yet to land on a business within the actual City of Lake Worth. It's misleading to the public - giving them the thought that Lake Worth is bigger than it actually is and may actually be hurting city businesses as it directs them outside the city.

Oh, and then the site crashed.

What does "partnered" mean? - Did the city pay money to Dolph Maps for this service?

Here is another solution to an unasked question. Advice to city: Back away from the keyboard.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thinking about housing...

I really enjoyed my time on the CRA last year. In many ways, I think we did more to move Lake Worth forward with some long term improvements and programs in a shorter time than others did or could - one of the benefits of an independent CRA. All during the time that I was on the board, we heard the cry for using money to reinvest in residential neighborhoods. The thought was, and is with some current sitting members of the board, that since most of the CRA's revenue came from the residential areas that money should go back to where it came from to improve blighted conditions. I maintain that situation is a distortion since much of our commercial property within the CRA district is underutilized or vacant. If we experienced redevelopment along our major commercial corridors in the CRA district, the multiplier effect would be much greater and more funds would be available for non-commercial areas within the district.

So, it is with great satisfaction that the city will be enjoying the benefits of the $23 million NSP2 grant issued by the federal government. Commercial properties are not eligible for these funds. It will target low and moderate income persons and upgrade housing in the area pictured below:

You can see the number of foreclosed and city-owned properties within this area - so it really is not about displacement of people that already live there. There is now a great opportunity to stabilize this area for the long term - removing slum and blight in the process. This is the main charge of CRAs. One of the grant writers that we used, who has done many of these throughout the state, really thought this application stood out since it is such a concentrated area and such a lot of money would be available. This should result in a demonstrable improvement in the area in a relatively short time.

I've reported on the reluctance of the City Commission to really endorse this NSP2 program and in many ways we were taken to task for making the application. Last Monday, before the grant award was announced, the City Commission decided to make an application for CDBG (also federal money) through Palm Beach County for an expansion of the Osborne Gymnasium and for traffic calming on various north/south residential streets - for a total of $250,000 of money for this year's program. There is apparently around $600,000 left over from previously granted, but unspent CDBG monies which will be used to start the City's own housing program. This is how the City Manager explained the process in her January 15th report.

Note that it might be a good idea not to use a dark colored background if you want information easily read in future reports.

This is the area that the City's program is targeted:

Notice the overlap between the two areas. Also notice that the City's $600,000 is only 2.6% of the total money available through the NSP2 program. The City's smaller amount also covers a larger area. Coincidence or potential conflict? The odds on bet is that the City Commission will make another run for control of the CRA given the amount of money involved here with the NSP2 program and as a way to further solidify the city's housing program. Where does the Lake Worth Community Development Corporation fit into this? Do not forget that we have a commissioner that works for that agency.

I've also thought a lot about Haiti and the amount of money needed to give immediate emergency aid and long term investment to rebuild a good portion of their capital city. What we are dealing with here in Lake Worth is the result of disinvestment and disenfranchisement over generations and in some ways, while it took longer and was more subtle, some of our problems here in Lake Worth are similar to Haiti's in terms of the need to attract investment and provide for the health and safety of our own population.

Another CRA success story will play out on Tuesday of this week with a formal presentation by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council and their moving of its headquarters to downtown Lake Worth. This was encouraged through a grant to the organization from the CRA and is part of the agency's cultural redevelopment program - as is the NSP2 grant.

Maybe we need to re-look at some other uses for that CDBG money. Here are some other projects suggested for funding through the program gathered during the two public hearings soliciting input from residents and neighborhoods. Using the money for a city housing program that is already dwarfed by what amounts to another housing effort funded through the NSP2 program, takes money away from these other needed projects. Why?



Let's take another look at these before we send our request for CDBG funding to the County.

Lastly, one of the reasons the goal of 50,000 is being touted for the 2010 Census is that, at that point, Lake Worth would become a federal entitlement city. It would not have to rely on applying for County CDBG money (Palm Beach County administers money for non-entitlement municipalities.) We would get our own allotment from the federal government. My point of view is that may be all well and good, but we need to find out how many people actually live in Lake Worth and not go after a "goal." I personally doubt we are at 50,000. We shall see.

You Are Invited to Lake Worth’s 16thAnnual…

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. DayCelebration

The Dream Lives On:

Nonviolence is the Answer

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Gospel Choir Concert - 6 PM

Calvary Methodist Church (O Street & 1st Ave South)

Free Admission

Monday, January 18, 2010

Interfaith Prayer Breakfast – 7:30 to 9:00 AM

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Lucerne Avenue & Palmway)

Free to All

Candlelight March – Gather at 5 PM

Beginning at Lake Worth City Hall (Lake Ave & Dixie Hwy)

MLK Commemorative Program – 5:45 PM

Cultural Plaza, Downtown Lake Worth (Lake Ave & M Street)

MLK Fellowship Dinner – 6 to 9 PM

First Baptist Church (M Street & 2nd Ave South)

Call Retha Lowe at 586-7276 for further information

Sponsored by City of Lake Worth, Kiwanis Club and Lake Worth MLK Committee

Interfaith Breakfast Program
Master of Ceremonies - Paul Blockson
Blessing
Breakfast
Welcome to St. Andrews - Rev. Paul Rasmus
Lift Every Voice - All Sing
Reverend Betty White - Grant Chapel AME
Shauna Coolican - Quaker Meeting
Ted Brownstein - Baha’is of LakeWorth
Yvonne Bratcher - Praise Dance
Reverend Tony Cato - New Hope Missionary Baptist
Tranquelino Gonzalez - Iq-Valam (Maya)
Joy DuPont - Buddhist Tradition
Noam Brown - Musical Selection
Pastor Jacques Destine- Helping Hands Mission
Rabbi Barry Silver - Synagogue L’Dor V’Dor
Retha Lowe - Announcements
We Shall Overcome - All Sing