Saturday, September 3, 2011

"The blogs will always complain. These blogs are 15 individuals who lie to one another." - Mayor Rachel Waterman

"Honesty is as much saying everything as it is saying what is true" - Richard A. Snelling, elected five times to the Office of Governor, State of Vermont.

The top quote, in the title, is from the August 29, 2011 City Commission meeting made by our Mayor for-three-and-a-half-months Rachel Waterman and showed up in the Lake Worth Herald this week.  Ms. Rachel Waterman better study the quote, placed below her's, of a person who was no stranger to the electorate and understood the importance of the public input in our almost 250 year experiment in self-government.  For me, it underscores the importance of transparency in everything involving the city of Lake Worth.

We need, and have a right, to know everything and our elected officials and city administration need to know what the public is thinking...good, bad or indifferent.  This cannot be solely through the 2 minutes selectively dispensed to the public that is interested and engaged enough to attend City Commission meetings.  It cannot be the generally one-way communication by people challenged by the truth at the doors of likely voters during campaign time.  The people knocking at those doors are selling a product, only instead of a Fuller Brush, they want you to buy what they're saying and get you to the voting booth for their candidate.

So, what tools does the public have left to be informed about what is going on in their local government, arguably the  level of government that most impacts them?  Can they rely on the "local paper of record" that endorsed all five of our current City Commissioners?  Can it rely on a local beat reporter for that paper who has a cozy relationship with the city administration? Can we rely on a small local paper with a small circulation and no Internet presence, with little interactivity?  No, we can't.

So, in this day of the Internet, personal computers, laptops, I-Pads, smart phones and any other electronic device capable of sharing information, it is logical to think that people would find their own way of following what is going on in their local government through the use of any of these tools.  And, this can be frightening to those that we elect since it allows for the democratization of information distribution.  In a state that has at its foundation something called the Sunshine Law, this can be a very powerful tool for the public - but, unfortunately, our elected officials like to see it more as a weapon than a tool.

For a long time, I have maintained that if we can agree on the facts, we can have different opinions about them and have that as the basis for public debate.  The problem comes when facts are manipulated by those in power to such an extent that we are no longer dealing with reality.  Instead, we are left to see the world through someone's eyes as how they would like us to see that world.  That is no way to run a representative democracy - that is a way to run a totalitarian regime.  Any organ that dispenses a truth contrary to those in power is dismissed as either unimportant or the source of distortion.  See Mayor Rachel Waterman's quote above for proof.

I maintain this blog, and have for the past 5 years, in order to encourage public discussion and distribute information.  I don't do it for financial gain - hardly! Regardless of what some might think, I have been to more than a few rodeos in my day and know my way around local government.  I try to bring that expertise and experience to this forum to try to make this city a better place to work, live and play.  It's where I call home and that is the extent of my self-interest in doing what I do.

I try to do a good job at backing up my opinions and pronouncements with research and references to original sources - if I am not doing that, I expect my "15 readers" to tell me.  I am not even going to go into how much traffic this blog gets.  I just know that anyone that is running for "re-election" for Mayor should at least show respect to the resident(s) of her city that spends the time and effort in providing a public forum for her citizenry to discuss what is going on in her city.

If she chooses not to, then use your right to vote in November accordingly.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hurricane Katia's Forecast Track as of 11 a.m. 9/2/11


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shooting at 10th and Dixie Hwy - according to WPTV Channel 5

From FaceBook:
I am hearing that the entire area from 7th Avenue North to 10th is closed and they are evacuating people.


Up-date:  Dixie Hwy. is closed from 3rd Avenue North to 10th and North Grade Elementary is on lock-down (standard procedure)

Demolition of Shuffleboard Courts Delayed

According to a small notice in the print edition of the PBP, demolition of the shuffleboard court area was to begin next week.  Perhaps with a twinge of conscience, the city will be holding a meeting about use of the space as a green area before work actually begins.  Perhaps someone is realizing that consulting the public on the elimination of public park amenities or the spending of public money is necessary.  It may be part of a new defensiveness, since the city administration now knows that it not only has to answer to the people, but it has to answer to possible inquiries by the Inspector General.  Seems to me there was a building in town that was the subject of years of debate that just "disappeared" - oh, I'm sorry, it didn't disappear, it is being "repaired."

I'll let you know when this meeting has been scheduled.  Why don't they refer it to the Planning and Zoning Board?  It is in the board's stated purpose.  From the code:

23.23.01.03. Duties and authority.
A.
The duties and authority of the city planning and zoning board shall be primarily to suggest plans for the arrangement of the city with reference to its general improvement, growth demands, and the extension, improvement and changes in public utilities and city works; also with reference to transportation, streets, alleys, sidewalks, highways, waterfronts, seawalls, docks, wharves, public buildings, parks, playgrounds, city-owned property, and other such matters as may be of a municipal nature or lawfully under municipal jurisdiction. However, the duties and authority of the city planning and zoning board shall not include any matter which is the responsibility of one (1) or more other city boards, unless the city commission specifically refers such matter to the planning and zoning board for recommendation. The city planning and zoning board shall be designated the local planning agency, pursuant to chapter 163, Florida Statutes. The planning and zoning board shall review and recommend to the city commission on all changes to the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Palm Beach County Commission presses staff auditor to find corruption before inspector general does

Well, imagine that! Did this sort of discussion occur last night regarding re-instituting the Internal Auditor position? Or, is it as I assume, that the general opinion is that there is no fraud, waste or corruption in the city of Lake Worth. Here are some excerpts from the PBP article (click title for link):

Palm Beach County commissioners on Tuesday said they wanted to conduct "more aggressive" internal audits of county departments, a move they hope will reduce the need for the county's Inspector General to investigate cases of waste and fraud.

AND


"You should be robust and aggressive enough so that the IG should have nothing to do," Commissioner Karen Marcus told Bergeron Tuesday. "I am questioning why they are doing the Palm Tran audit and not you all. I would think that would be something, as a county department, that you would jump into."
Bergeron is one of three county employees, including County Administrator Bob Weisman and County Attorney Denise Nieman, who report directly to the seven-member commission.
According to the City Manager, there are/were seven (7) active investigations being undertaken by the Inspector General's office of some aspect of the city of Lake Worth - one of them relates to the beach.

Talent Quest Every Tuesday


Additional e-mail correspondence between resident and Mayor re Internal Auditor position...



Message from County Commissioner Steven Abrams - The Redistricting Process: Resident Input Requested


Just as the U.S. Congress and the Legislature have to redistrict their seats every 10 years, so does the County. 
The recent 2010 census count resulted in a 16% increase in population for Palm Beach County.  So that all of the County’s seven districts have as equal population as possible, the district I represent (District 4) needs to acquire an additional 17,000 people. 
The following criteria, approved by the Board of County Commissioners, will be used to guide the redistricting process:
-      Achieve population equity among commission districts (10% or less variance)
-      Adhere to the Voting Rights Act of 1965
-      Follow major natural and man-made boundaries
-      Maintain integrity of communities of interest
-      Encourage compactness
-      Ensure contiguity
-      Preserve the core of the existing voter’s districts
County staff is currently reviewing and analyzing 2010 Census data based on the above guidelines. Revised district boundaries will be presented to the board in the fall and adopted prior to January 2012. For more information and to provide the Board of County Commissioners with your input, please visit http://www.pbcgov.com/redistricting/.
Thank you for your time and please contact me if you have any questions or comments. 
Commissioner Steven L. Abrams
Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners
District 4

Monday, August 29, 2011

Breaking News from FaceBook:


Read this and weep...this is the attitude of our illustrious City Manager as it relates to enforcement of Nuisance Abatement cases:




How are the property owners going to comply with their Nuisance Abatement order if the city cannot assure compliance?  This is beyond the pale...

Correspondence between Lake Worth residents and the City Commission re Internal Auditor position...


Mayor, Commissioners and City Manager,
I am contacting you to express my extreme dissatisfaction at reports that you plan to thwart our City's Charter AGAIN by not "funding" the position of Internal Auditor. (Not an "Office of Internal Auditor")
I will be happy to join any action, petition, complaint or other such action as deemed sufficient to ensure our Charter, our City's  Constitution is adhered to. After hearing how many of your constituents adamantly demand this vital position be filled, it is almost criminal to ignore them AND the Charter.
This decision must  be revisited. To that end, I request this item be placed on the next agenda so that the citizenry may, again, express our opinion on this important CHARTER REQUIRED POSITION.
Sincerely,
Bernard F. Guthrie Jr.

Later:


Thanks to one and all for the support and information. Thanks to Vice mayor Mulvehill, who sent me the archive, I found that the commission is considering a couple options in regards to the Internal Auditor. One is to hire a CPA at upwards of $80K to $90K plus benefits bringing the budget item to around $120K. The other is to not fund. Commissioner Golden and McVoy are pretty much against funding the required position. Vice Mayor and Commissioner Maxwell are pretty much in favor of funding and the Mayor, on the archive, can go either way, but in fairness has stated to me she is on the majority side of funding the position.
If you have time to listen to the tape and listen to the arguments for and against, it is interesting how they get to not needing this position and compare it to a charter requirement to have our Police Chief and Fire Chief live in the city. A stretch.
Thank you again Suzanne for this link.
Chip


and...

Ms. Waterman, 

Your comments in the meeting about the internal auditor position being something that only 15 people or so who maintain blogs in this City desire is not surprising to me at all.  It is just continued confirmation of how out of touch you are with what the people of this city want;  the very same people you so zealously state "you represent".  This desire is probably about as equal, among the majority, as the desire to keep PBSO in Lake Worth.  Too long has our City run amuck with fiscal irresponsibility with Lake Worth Utility rate hikes to pull its derrière out of the fire.  I add my voice to the more than 15 or so people who desire that their City budget for and hire an Internal Auditor.  Oh and by the way...I don't maintain a blog.  This trivializing of the taxpayers loud outcries for help will not help this City to move forward.  Anyone with a hint of leadership skills would be aware of that.  

In closing I will reiterate that you and the other commissioners will not find it easy to continue ignoring our demands that our local government abide by the charter of our City and do the right thing and bring an Internal Auditor on board to begin to unravel the tangled bowl of spaghetti that is our City's books right now.



Best wishes,
Mark A. Parrilla



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Seek and Find Game: Find the building being repaired, win a stuffed pony!



From the City Manager's report from last Friday...these pictures are dated 8/19/11.

Observations: Notes from the Great American Highway...

For those of you who do not know, I have been on the road since August 11 - the day I slipped the surly bonds of Lake Worth and headed north.  Since then, I have traveled a total of 5,000 miles by vehicle - first to Madison, Indiana where my father lives, then we both went off to Michigan where we met up with friends from long ago.  Then it was back to Madison for a few days and then off to Massachusetts and then to Portland, Maine and then back to Massachusetts - before the storm hit there, as it turned out!  I was watching Irene and the forecast track last Monday when we were in western Mass and actually bought "insurance" plane tickets for last Wednesday back to West Palm Beach if the course of Hurricane Irene hadn't changed like it did.  We are now back in Madison and will head up to West Layfayette, Indiana tomorrow so that I can meet up with one of my college roommates and my Dad will chase down another Packard car contact.  Then I fly back home to Lake Worth on Wednesday.  When all is said and done, I would have traveled a total of 5,300 miles plus or minus - probably about one hundred hours in a vehicle.

This traveling is the major reason that I have been lagging on the posting here recently.  Between that and sparse Internet access in western Mass.  Catching up on the Lake Worth goings-on, it seems that the other blogger has realized that the people she supported on the dais can no longer allow her to continue to pay the lowest property taxes allowed by law, so she is a little upset.  It seems that she has a new found interest in testicles and the protection thereof.  Well, she should, as we should all be concerned about such things.  So, I imagine later this week, I will get back into the swing...of things and post more about current events.

But, before I do so, I thought I'd share with you some things I saw along the road that made me pause, think or contemplate more than is usual and some do have some relation to Lake Worth.  Many concern planning issues and the like, so here we go:

Georgia:  Have you traveled on I-75 recently through this state?  You could go daffy reading all of the highway billboards.  They seem especially congested in the southern part of the state, but the proliferation throughout the entire state is off-the-charts.  Most of these billboards are stacked two high.  Most are repeatedly redundant - lol.  Entire towns - Tifton, GA comes to mine, go all out as well to tout themselves and the oodles of food and goodies that await just off their exit.  It is actually distracting to drive as I found myself reading them more than looking at the road in front of me from time to time - probably the effect is something close to texting and driving at the same time.  Where there is a thick tree canopy, they can then tower what looks to be 200 and 300 feet above the ground, making them almost illegible.  Enough about those, the cows are definitely out-of-the-barn and it looks like no one cares about getting them back in.

Madison, Indiana:  This is where my father lives now and I spent much time last summer here (where I am writing now) - it is a historic community in the southeast part of the state, right on the Ohio River.  It is famous for its historic downtown and was the first National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street Program community.  It's downtown area, near the river, is like a time capsule of the early to mid part of the Nineteenth Century.  If you are here for any length of time, you discover that there are essentially two parts of the town - one that is by the river and the one that is on the hill.  The one that is on the hill is a child of the mid to late Twentieth Century, for the most part, and is dominated by the automobile and uses that support it.  Strip commercial retail centers, car dealerships, a technical school and some single family curvy road subdivisions.  The two physically are very different, but Madison's identity is tied to its historic downtown, the waterfront and one of the relatively few bridges across the Ohio River that connect Kentucky and Indiana.

One of the major draws to the historic downtown Madison area - the lower part - is the existence of a full service, regional hospital.  It turns out, as some of the locals tell the story, when the hospital first located or expanded its campus in a significant way many years ago, it displaced many in the African-American community.  It was an area of town where family properties and histories went as far back as the town's as a whole.  The location of the hospital in its current location uprooted and did a lot to upset community unity and identity.  When controversy erupted over this, way back when, the hospital vowed never to leave downtown so that it could play a key role in its overall economic success.  It pledged to aid in the preservation of the town's history by providing an economic engine that would eventually include adaptive re-use of surrounding historic structures into doctors' offices and clinics that had ties and required proximity to the hospital.  Visitors to the hospital and patients going to doctor appointments in the downtown were drawn there - it was a destination.  Someone going downtown on a health-related trip may stop at a grocery store, a bank, the post office or a restaurant or all of the above.  This relationship worked well over the 40-to 50 years since that original, questionable decision was made in the first place.

Guess what - now the news in town is about layoffs at the hospital.  The hospital bought a significant amount of property "on the hill" and is underway with an entirely new hospital.  This new hospital required water and sewer extensions to serve it.  It's location is east on the same strip as the other automobile related uses.  Any guess where the sprawl will now be headed?  Word is now that the existing hospital will be closing its doors downtown within a year - by the time the new hospital on the hill is built.  People are generally and genuinely concerned - what do you do with an empty hospital in your downtown area?  What about all the clinics and doctors' offices that occupied space in historic building's surrounding the hospital's property?  Where will the dollars go that used to come from people using the hospital as a destination to spend money in the downtown?  People are concerned that this is a blow from which Madison may have a hard time recovering from...

As far as the hospital is concerned, its decision remains shrouded in mystery.  The community hears of problems related to a tired physical plant in the form of the existing building - but there are cures for that, aren't there doctor?  It also seems that the new hospital will be almost exclusively single occupancy, private rooms...hmmmm.

Michigan:  My father started his career in the education field as a seventh grade teacher in social studies and math in North Muskegon, Michigan.  He went on to get his doctorate in education, as did my mother, at the Ohio State University.  My father was a professor of education at Michigan State University for 35 years and had many doctoral advisees of his own.  Anyway, he never forgot about his seventh grade classes and the students in them - he was at North Muskegon for five years.  He went back for every graduation and, now, he tries to attend the reunions of those classes.  This year was the 55th reunion of the Class of 1956 and it was held at a charming resort in Whitehall, a small community north of Muskegon.
The Class of 1956 - circa 1950-1- my father is the tall one in the back row.
Unfortunately, many from this class are no longer with us.  But, of the ones that attended the reunion, it was fascinating to hear of the long relationships and large families these young people created over the years.  Some were second marriages, some more.  It just got me to thinking what the expectations of the people of this Class of 1956 were and what the expectations of the Class of 2016 are.  How will our society and environment change over the next 55 years with the expectations of our youth?

Here are some pictures from the location of the reunion...Michigan is still a great place for a vacation!  We sure see enough "Pure Michigan" commercials in Florida reminding us of that.
To be continued...

Slideshow from Tour of Cincinnati's Union Terminal


Best watched in "full screen" mode.  You will want to either adjust the transition speed so that you can read the captions - some are rather lengthy - or go through the slideshow manually.  I am still polishing and adding to the captions this afternoon.  Enjoy!  Click here for a link to the Cincinnati Museum Center website.

Tour of Cincinnati's Union Terminal


Yesterday, my father and I were fortunate to take part in "1940s Day" at the Cincinnati History Museum which is housed in this magnificent art deco building. The building still operates as the city's Amtrak station - with very limited service, especially compared to the peak era for train travel in this country.  As part of the day, vintage cars, a big band and people in period costume were part of the setting.  This particular video shows the main facade of the building along with a decorative fountain that makes up the center of the drop-off area for the building.  We were able to take a behind-the-scenes tour, led by one of the docents of the museum.  I've put together a slide show that will be available shortly which shows some of the colorful and artistic detail of the interior of the building, along with some tidbits of the building's history.

In short, the building's genesis was a collaborative venture between seven different railroads that unified the location of what had been a set of five different train stations throughout the city.  Construction began in August, 1929 - and opened in 1933 during one of the most severe years of the Great Depression.  The building was designed to accommodate 17,000 rail travelers per day, but only reached that level as the U.S. neared World War II.  During the war years, an average of 36,000 people per day utilized this building as a train transit hub in the center of the country.  During the post war years, increased prosperity allowed people to afford more private automobiles, better roads in the form of the Interstate Highway System and eventually more affordable air travel combined to reduce passenger train travel to a level that could only be supported by federal subsidies.  Regular use of the building stopped in 1972 and it remained essentially vacant for many years until the establishment of the various museums present in the building today.

Check out the slide show which will be best seen in "full screen" mode.