Saturday, April 2, 2011

The dangers of selective enforcement...

It hasn't been two weeks yet that the City Commission met about cutting staff and reducing levels of service relating to basic quality of life factors in the city due to the city's declared "financial urgency."  We are also waiting for a study which will try to answer the question: "How best can Lake Worth meet its law enforcement needs and at what cost? "

Imagine if the city had its own police force, as referenced in previously posted e-mails from City Manager Stanton, whose priorities might be tilted towards enforcement of the noise ordinance rather than responding to a property crime call in another area of the city. Members of the Commission were rightly concerned on the way the community will react to what is perceived by most as a low level of service now without the planned cuts.

Many people already think that code enforcement  is completely ineffective given its current level of allocated resources.  The city policy is that code enforcement only responds to complaints - there are no anonymous complaints and code enforcement cannot proactively take on an issue that does not spring from a complaint.  This creates a system where the squeaky wheels get all the grease.

In the case of the Cottage, it seems that the same wheels are squeaking after a lot of grease has been applied.  Let's ignore the fact that the Cottage is usually the host of unsuccessful commission candidate parties and supports candidates that have not won the past few elections.  Let's ignore the fact the Cottage hosts a gay "Tea Dance" and is a gay-friendly business in the downtown.

Read this e-mail exchange between Mr. Waters, Planning and Preservation Administrator, Ms. Stanton, City Manager and Commissioner Mulvehill.  Mr. Waters discusses how seemingly different standards for different businesses in similar situations seem to have no rhyme or reason.

Instead, let's ask the question: "Is enforcing a noise ordinance the best use of extremely limited resources in a city with an unlimited set of needs?"  And, if we decide as a community that enforcement of a noise ordinance is important enough so that other services are not rendered to the public, then we need to make sure that noise ordinance and other code enforcement activity is done uniformly and equitably throughout the entire city.

You need to read the back-up for the additions to the agenda for the April 5th City Commission meeting.  Reading the item on the noise ordinance issue, you get the sense that this is suddenly all about Susan.  It is not.  First of all, I don't know how anyone can claim that one has kept their personal life personal if they have had a three hour CNN documentary on a very personal part of their life.  But our City Manager makes that claim in the back-up material.  And her reaction is one where she offers "reaffirmation" of the city's anti-discrimination ordinances in defense of the Cottage claims of discrimination.

Actions do speak louder than words and the proper thing for the city to do is what is suggested by Commissioner Maxwell (also part of the same back-up material linked above) - undertake a thorough examination of how code enforcement has responded to noise complaints throughout the city and look at how the city has enforced other code provisions on the business community over the past few years.  If a disproportionate amount of time, effort and resources have been applied to businesses that cater to the gay, lesbian and transgender community, then we have objective data that indicates that some sort of selective enforcement has been employed by the city.  Until we can objectively look at the record, we only have smoke - which there seems to be a lot of - and not fire.

Going back to the City Manager's response, I can think of  some other regulations and situations that need reaffirming, while we are at it.  Here is a short list:
  • Let's reaffirm the ethics ordinance passed last year that requires members of the Commission to declare campaign contributors that benefit from their actions on the dais.
  • Let's reaffirm how any agency that rents a city building must have a current lease and pay for their own utilities.
  • Let's reaffirm that boarding houses are not allowed in single family zoning districts, even if they are run by a certain former City Commissioner.
  • Let's reaffirm that the city is actually demolishing the casino building instead of saving it from demolition.
  • Let's reaffirm that how this city is run is not all about Susan, but that it is all about how our city manager does her job in that capacity.  
  • Let's reaffirm that the Charter requires an Internal Auditor hired by the City Commission!
  • Let's reaffirm that Lake Worth is not an island in the middle of Palm Beach County and must behave as a responsible municipality amongst other local governments.
Our City Manager's evaluation is coming up later this month

7 comments:

Mark A. Parrilla said...

Wes,

Susan attempted to use the transgender attack defense when she was in danger of loosing her job in Largo City and it didn't work there. I hope that she doesn't succeed with that here either. It is obvious at this point that she was the wrong choice for the job of City Manager man or woman the attitude wasn't removed in the surgery unfortunately. That statement in the agenda addition back up material where she says she has put every effort into keeping her personal life private evoked a fit of mirth as I pictured the cameraman who passed out in the OR while filming the gender re-assingment. Correct me if I am wrong but agreeing to have CNN film your conversion from man to woman is a far cry from keeping your personal life private. You are absolutely right, she is trying to make this about her, to distract from the REAL issue. I hope that there are enough people with double digit + IQ's to not buy into this and drink the Jim Jones Kook Aid that Susan offers in her pity party document she calls a memo.

Anonymous said...

Very well said Wes. It seems to be that Mr/MRS city Manager Stanton is discriminating. The Cottage is doing nothing that any of the other lake Worth clubs are doing. Perhaps the cottage is guilty of the same thing I am, the inability to kiss the ass of the city officials? I remember when the city manager was seeking that job, and I said, "Not enough qualifications". I was shut down quickly by a very well known Grandstanding member of the gay community with "Well This is an opportunity to show just how open minded the City of Lake Worth is, by having a Transgendered City Manager". I quickly answered "Hiring someone just because they are transgendered doesn't qualify them to take care of business, I have no issues with a transgendered anyone, but find one that is qualified and has the know how if your going to push this". Of course that fell on deaf ears, just as my plead not to elect a one term mayor who was going to use the city as a Stepping stone. It seems that the Government in the City of Lake Worth has been reduced to nothing more than a place for photo ops, discrimination, grand standing and parties. Heaven help you if you don't agree with the popular agenda. Then the popular group will do anything that they can to crush your business. It seems to me this is exactly what is happening to the Cottage. I have personally signed the petition in support of the Cottage. I think though rather that signing petitions what we need to look at, is a high power attorney, and some CNN coverage to show what the Lake Worth City manager that they gave so much extensive coverage to, is actually doing. Then people need to wake up, Stop kissing asses, and looking for photo Ops, and for once in your life, make a decision that affects more than just Gay rights. As a Gay man, I'd like more too, however if we spend all our time focusing on that, and not enough time focusing on EVERYTHIHG that makes our lives go round, we will all end up broke. What good is a Marriage license if we can't put food on the table, or keep our power on because the power company went bust, or all our homes are robbed and mobbed by Gangs because there is no money to pay for a police force? Sorry folks time to get everyone's heads our of their asses, and stop patting each other on the back for the popularity contest. High School's over, this is real life. Leave the Cottage alone, let them earn their living as well. They are hurting NO ONE. I think also the City manager has failed to look at just how many tax dollars are brought into Lake Worth by the cottage. So being the City is already in trouble, it's a better Idea to keep all the businesses going, the City needs the money. Out with the City Manager and the rest of the popular crowd. Bring in some average people, who actually are interested in something other than a photo Op.

Jessie Odell

Bill Webb said...

I've lived in and around Lake Worth since 1963. It's the same old song and dance. Nothing has changed except the dancers. The tradition of old-boyism goes back to the late Tom Smith and his buddies in an unbroken line. Can't say if it extends further back, but it would seem that 48 years is far enough.

It's time for the new people in town to take up the reins -- and I'll guarantee you that's what has the establishment spooked: too many queers and little brown people for comfort.

Me, I say let's go find some more. And that's the plan...a gay-unfriendly community so that the political opposition will remain weak and (excuse me, Ms. City Manager) emasculated.

Bill Webb

Anonymous said...

As usual Wes spot on. Now how do we hold them all accountable to reaffirm all these issues?
Is a bar playing loud music REALLY the top priority of a city with all the daily problems we are faced with? I've seen and heard resident after resident complaining about the blight for years and nothing is done.
Putting aside the politics of the matter- why is this sooooooooo important? Because it's easy. Difficult jobs the city can't handle are ignored. The real issues that should be the primary focus of "the best city manager" and "the best commission ever" are too difficult to tackle so they focus on dogs and kayaks and music.

Anonymous said...

The problem is, LW has a city attorney who a. doesn't know anything about local gov't law and b. even if she did, doesn't have the cahones to stand up to Stanton to let her know what legally defensible code enforcment action is. You really going to get anywhere when the city attorney won't stand up to the city manager?

Anonymous said...

The noise ordinance is, in my mind, one of the stupidest things the Commission has ever done. I resolved not to vote for anyone who supports it. Our downtown needs a virbrant night life, we were on the way to carving out a niche as a fabulous live music spot in Palm Beach Co. The city hosts music in the plaza and we had music all weekend long at Bryant Park this weekend that I could clearly hear from my house 5 blocks away. But of course the City and the Festivals are exempt, sure that makes sense, while the City beats up on the small businesses that we need to keep our City going. I hope the Cottage sues.

The City has much bigger, more important problems than noise in the downtown area. In fact, more noise would be welcomed as it would mean stronger businesses and a better tax base.

Anonymous said...

Stanton has reached her level of incompetence. It is far easier to bully others,waste time and money, than to actually get the real work done.Does she have any great ideas to make LW the cool town it could be? Is this like the old grump who didn't get invited to the party so they call the police? Is she so conflicted she is taking it out on LW? Her emails/letters are vaque, unprofessional,and disrespectful of coworkers. Very odd. We care about our town,not Susan's personal issues.