Friday, February 23, 2018

August 2nd, 2016 will go down in City of Lake Worth history as the most ‘inglor-
ious’ and embarrassing of all time.

SEND IT [water from Lake Okee-
chobee] SOUTH!

Do you remember the “inglorious demise” of Consent Agenda item 9C at the City of Lake Worth’s City Commission meeting?

“Resolution No. 38-2016 - implement a solution to long standing water discharge issues plaguing the City”

“[P]laguing the City”?
Our little City of Lake Worth?

This public meeting 1½ years ago was a huge source of embarrassment for one particular former City commissioner and for the City of Lake Worth as well.

Maybe this was an attempt to influence policy on the issue of water discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Or maybe this was a chance for one commissioner to take to the soapbox and get his name in the newspaper whilst the issue was still “hot” with flowcharts and a colorful PowerPoint.

Whatever it was, it failed quickly and ingloriously. Sadly too, a lot of people who drove down from Martin and Indian River counties in support of this item on the agenda never got to speak.

Instead, they were quickly and quietly ushered out of City Hall and told to go back home, by the very same people who had invited them down in the first place. Hard to believe but it’s true.

How did this whole kerfuffle come to be?
It’s actually very simple to explain.

In August 2016 then-Commissioner Chris McVoy, PhD (who 6 months later lost his re-election bid to now-District 2 Commissioner Omari Hardy in March 2017) requested that an item be placed on the City Commission agenda whilst there was the cry from some to “Send It [water discharges] South!” from Lake Okeechobee.

A little problem with this agenda item is McVoy didn’t give Belle Glade Mayor Wilson, Pahokee Mayor Babb, South Bay Mayor Kyles, or Mayor Roland in Clewiston a courtesy call and say, Hey, I think your cities should be wiped off the face of the Earth.”

When residents of the Glades region had their
chance to speak, well, one could say
that got everyone’s attention:
From editor Gil Smart at the TCPalm in a recently published editorial is even more to motivate residents of the Glades region in opposition,
“ ‘Coastal elites’ just sent wrong message in Sewall’s Point sewer fight”.

Another problem with McVoy’s item on the agenda was this: septic tanks were not cited as a factor in the Treasure Coast algae blooms, just conveniently left out. And the dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee which needs serious repairs, the Herbert Hoover Dike, was also not cited by McVoy, another major factor just conveniently left out as one of his concerns.

Around the same time in 2016 the Palm Beach Town Council also dealt with this issue, but in quite a different way. They had a resolution about Lake Okeechobee and below are three short excerpts from this article by reporter Aleese Kopf at the Palm Beach Daily News (aka, The Shiny Sheet):

     Town Council members agreed this week to adopt a resolution urging federal and state officials to spend more money on and speed up work to store, treat and move clean water to and from Lake Okeechobee.

and. . . 

     Specifically, the resolution urges lawmakers to speed up planning for water storage reservoirs south of the lake in the Everglades Agricultural Area, to speed up repair of the Herbert Hoover Dike and to eliminate septic tanks in the region. [emphasis added]

then this. . .

     Council members unanimously passed the resolution. Council President Michael Pucillo said it’s worded in a way that is not “particularly controversial.”
     “We’re talking about expediting planning,” added Councilwoman Bobbie Lindsay. “We’re not asking them to buy land.”

Once again, here is the ingloriously deleted Consent Agenda item C at the Lake Worth City Commission:
Resolution No. 38-2016 - implement a solution to long standing water discharge issues plaguing the City

“Plaguing the City”?

The Commission meeting had barely started when, at the 2:00 minute mark, consent agenda item 9C is pulled from the agenda. That’s right. Gone. Erased. Deleted. Ejected. Expunged. Wiped out.

Which raises some interesting questions:
  • Why did McVoy put the item on the agenda in the first place?
  • A sizable group of people showed up (or were invited) to support the resolution. Did he wave goodbye to them on their way out of town?
  • The vote was unanimous to delete it from the agenda. That’s right. McVoy voted to delete his very own agenda item! Why would he do that?
Below is the text of the brief that accompanied this item:

AGENDA DATE: August 2, 2016, Regular Meeting
DEPARTMENT: Commissioner McVoy
TITLE: Resolution No. 38-2016 – implementing a solution to long standing water discharge issues plaguing the City
SUMMARY: The Resolution urges the Federal and State governments to implement solutions and fix the problems of water discharge from Kissimmee River Valley, Lake Okeechobee, and areas west of the City into the C-51 Canal.
BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION: The current plumbing in South Florida allows for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to, at times of high water and for reasons of human safety, discharge waters from Lake Okeechobee into the Lake Worth Lagoon through the C-51 Canal. The discharged waters degraded quality and elevated nutrient status of Lake Okeechobee causes undesirable and widespread algal blooms.

Has anyone seen any “widespread algal blooms” in Lake Worth? Has the water been “plaguing” us? The “current plumbing”? Not exactly the language or terminology one would expect from a PhD, is it?

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