Friday, August 13, 2010

Dalai Lama

It is self-evident that a generous heart and wholesome actions lead to greater peace and that their negative counterparts bring undesirable consequences. Happiness arises from virtuous causes. If we truly desire to be happy, there is no other way to proceed but by way of virtue: it is the method by which happiness is achieved. And, we might add, that the basis of virtue, its ground, is ethical discipline.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Postcards from Peaks Island and Casco Bay, Maine

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Ruination of Detroit - Lake Worth's Future?

Comment in bold - left under previous post on Detroit and art appearing out of the rubble:

As I recall, it was the CRA that pushed Lake Worth in becoming an artists' destination, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve that end—even hiring the boys from Paducah which were a total waste of money—not the Commission and certainly NOT Jennings or Mulvehill. You were a member of the CRA, right? Even to imply that Suzanne Mulvehill is an anarchist is ridiculous.

Response:  There is nothing wrong in Lake Worth becoming a destination for artists and there is plenty that is right with it. In fact, there are already many practicing artists in our community that find Lake Worth a great place to nurture creativity and collaborate with others. The idea that really sprang from the CRA was to move that notion forward in a tangible way with an organized program which had proven successful in other communities. Unfortunately, the plug was pulled on that particular program before it could bear significant tangible fruit. Cooperation on the part of the city administration and City Commission could have been better as well – it was this lack of cooperation which led to the disbanding of the program.

Regardless, there are artists that want to re-locate to Lake Worth from other cities in Florida and, I suppose, the nation and the world (let's not limit ourselves here), but find difficulty in finding support of the city in their efforts. Whether it be the availability of properties without encumbrances from unsatisfied city code liens or surplus city property which would be used for housing that is somehow "not available", nothing seems to gain traction. While I was gone on my extended trip this summer, a pair of artists from Coconut Grove used my house and watched my dogs in my absence. This turned out to be mutually advantageous since they have been actively looking to locate to Lake Worth for over a year now. Proximity began to be very important since time was such a factor in following up on the many details needed to tie-down a satisfactory property. Perhaps, once settled, they will relate their multiple trials and tribulations during the entire process. It seems that just now, they are making headway in securing property that meets their requirements.

Another product of the CRA - not the Commission - was the enticement of, and the successsful relocation of, the Palm Beach County Cultural Arts Council to a location in downtown Lake Worth. This will help immensely with the promotion of this sort of attraction effort and help to establish Lake Worth as the location for arts of all kinds within the county, region and the state. This organization will be able to put some marketing muscle behind this effort that the city and the CRA cannot afford to do in these troubled economic times. They will also be able to target their message much more effectively to the audience that we intend to reach.

Getting back to the Detroit example, being from the Midwest, specifically Michigan, I have an acute awareness of what shape Detroit finds itself in after years of industrial restructuring. Saddled with the impact of the predominance of the automobile on suburban growth and flight of wealth from the city, these have proven to be unconquerable forces in the decimation of great swaths of the city. I have mentioned the plight of Detroit many times in this blog and the conditions generally keep getting worse, not better.  One need only perform and Internet search of "Detroit" and "ruins" to see what I mean.

One of the results of this overwhelming decay is what we read in the article I linked to in the previous post from the New York Times. In many basic areas, the powers of government have completely broken down and allowed a “lawless state” to spring up in Detroit. For example, while attending the national Packard car club meet in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania this summer, I was fortunate enough to sit in on a presentation regarding the Packard factory property on East Grand Boulevard deep within the city of Detroit. The New York Times article mentions it many times and the property often comes up during discussions of the ruins that one of the great industrial cities has come to be. During the presentation, I learned that large pieces of the property which once made up the Packard plant, have no identifiable owner. The chain of title has been lost due to the evaporation of corporations that once held the property, deaths or imprisonment of principals of those corporations or any number of factors.

How can a city or local governing body, even if it had the resources, act to correct the blighted conditions there if there is ultimately no one responsible in the private sector? How many more years will an 80 acre plus property sit in limbo in what is already a "sea of nothingness" so that nothing can happen even if someone wanted it to? It turns out that there are entire areas of the plant that the city of Detroit will not respond to if there is a fire or another emergency. One of the major reasons for this is the physical safety of their own personnel. Whole sections of the plant have been so scavenged for scrap metal that there is little assurance that buildings currently standing would remain standing, especially during a fire emergency.

Thus, you have a situation where there is no law and order – there is only the sort of freedom that one finds on the frontier – as the article points out. Isn't that lack of law and order the ultimate goal of anarchists? This may attract those that might risk life and limb to stake a claim on this wild urban frontier, and many artists and creative people may find that appealing. That is what the Times article talks about.

My point is: Does Lake Worth have to get to a point where all law and order breaks down, that public services can no longer be relied upon and that the ownership of private and public property is ambiguous? Is then when there is finally “nothing left to lose” and people get out of their own way and let the phoenix rise from the ashes?

Or, is it better to stop the decline and decay now before Lake Worth reaches such a desperate level? The end game, if the current strategies are played out to their logical conclusion on the part of the majority of the current City Commission, would be this lawless, anarchist condition – it would be a complete “lack of order.”

And the two incumbents are linked by common supporters and if voters deny that, they are living in a fantasy world. We need to look no farther for a political operative that pushes for both of these incumbents up for re-election in November of 2010 that wears out her shoe leather during every election banging on our helpless neighbors' doors spewing what ever stream-of-consciousness comes to her lips that motivates a voter to get the poll for vote for her chosen candidates – This is one who was recently hired to help aid in the Census Total Count effort by those that she assisted into office. The same one that in elections past has distributed information from the group “Downward Mobility.”
Annabeth Karson
Well, isn't that all too true now. You get what you vote for.

So there is time to act before it is too late for Lake Worth and we can take a step back from the brink of ruin and elect new people to the Commission this November. Besides that affirmative action, we need to do everything we can to use the $23 million grant of Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds that the CRA applied for and received – before time runs out! This money can directly the affect the economic and social health of our city by addressing blighted residential conditions. We can also discard the notion that some city-run affordable housing program that would use unpredictable flows of Community Development Block Grant monies and take away funding from other needed capital improvement projects would somehow be as successful.

What is this Commission and city administration thinking? Let's hope that the voters end the foolishness in November.

(And let the record show that the money for the Cultural Redevelopment Program through the CRA came from money freed-up due to the city's contract with the Sheriff's for public safety services.  Due to the increased level of service of the Sheriff Department, the CRA didn't have to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to our former city police force for overtime pay.  Commissioner Jennings included this contribution from the CRA to the former city police department in her previous campaign materials.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

There are comments on a number of posts - my current access to the Internet is limited. Thanks for your patience.