Monday, March 7, 2016

In response to a candidate's bizarre claim about Lake Worth Commissioner Andy Amoroso

This was the message on one side of a mailer sent out by the candidate running for the District #3 seat, Frank McAlonan, who you may recall has gotten 70% of his campaign contributions from outside Lake Worth:
This mailer from McAlonan's backers is "throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks." And note there's no mention of where that "$5 million" came from other than someone's imagination.
I still can't figure out where this "$5 million" comes from, other than from desperation leading up to the election on March 15th. The City did receive grant money in the amount of $1.3 million from the Economic Development Administration and is waiting on additional money from the state legislature for the same purpose. The money will be used as a strategic economic development investment in the Park of Commerce so that the burden on residential taxpayers will be less. However, this money cannot be used on our residential streets and is tied to investment and job creation. Read more about that using this link.

This mailer (image above) is akin to throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. It doesn't have to be true or even make sense.

Something dawned on me over the weekend. It happened during an exchange on the Lake Worth Voice Facebook page. It followed a comment made by a former commissioner about the money raised in the current election cycle. I won't repeat it here, but if you are on Facebook you can check it out yourself.

As the thread went on, I recalled when I made the motion as a member of the CRA board to apply for the $23 million in NSP2 monies that were available at the time. Both the City and the CRA were eligible to apply for the funds. Leading up to the grant application's deadline, it became apparent that the City administration (Susan Stanton was the city manager in September 2009) and the City Commission (which included Cara Jennings, JoAnn Golden, and Susan Mulvehill) had demonstrated no interest in assisting the CRA or applying for the grant money itself. Wanting to make sure Lake Worth didn't miss out on this opportunity to address slum and blight in a big way the CRA went ahead and made the application itself, without any help from the City Commission at the time.

As I was chatting on this Facebook thread a former commissioner, Cara Jennings, claimed that she "never opposed" the NSP monies. It should also be added that she never did anything to promote the City filing its own application either. She went on to say that she thought that boards that handle a lot of money should be filled with persons who had been elected and not appointed. And this is consistent with what we hear from JoAnn Golden who unsuccessfully attempted to have the Commission take over the CRA's responsibilities and disband its appointed members on three separate occasions.

The point here is that an application for the $23 million in NSP2 money would never have been made had we relied on our elected officials at the time.

In fact, as a "Thank You" to the CRA making the application for $23 million in federal monies for OUR NEIGHBORHOODS, the Commission convened again (led by then-Commissioner Golden) in the last attempt to wrestle control of the CRA. Fortunately that failed to happen and the CRA was awarded the NSP2 monies in January of 2010. Since then, every candidate from both sides has fallen all over themselves claiming responsibility for applying and receiving this federal grant that rehabilitated over 160 houses and gave us our Artist Lofts project.

Commissioner Amoroso was Vice-Chairman of the CRA when the agency received the award and had a significant hand in overseeing staff and the successful distribution of this $23 million grant targeted to improving the housing stock in some of our most blighted neighborhoods. Lake Worth was one of 63 local government and agencies that received this grant.

It is more than a little disingenuous for McAlonan's "backers" to suggest that money was diverted from being invested in our residential neighborhoods. You really can't blame the candidate as he just became a resident in July 2014 and is clearly being fed a string of stories that he doesn't have the time or the inclination to investigate. Remember, these are the same people he will be answering to if he is elected over our incumbent Commissioner Amoroso.