Saturday, May 21, 2016

How Anarchists create riots: They take advantage of communities concerned about events and/or tragedies

You will want to read this entire 11-page document (with attachments included) from the Eric Garner Grand Jury Response in Durham [N.C.] (12/5/14). Here is an image from the first page:
"Anarchists use and take advantage of local citizens that are upset about a current event."
You would think intuitively no one wants riots in Palm Beach County, especially over the tragic death of Corey Jones but are some laying the groundwork for future violence? Maybe even with the help of the media and journalists? Many are working very hard in Palm Beach County to make sure the legacy of Corey Jones isn't about violent demonstrations and possibly more innocent people hurt or senselessly killed, but then. . .
"This County could use an uprising"
Use this link to read about the sign above. If you attend a protest, march, or gathering of any sort and see something suspicious immediately let law enforcement know or call 911. Don't let peaceful protests be hijacked here in Palm Beach County.

NYT: "The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter"

This is a spectacular article in The New York Times. How much things have changed since email, texting, and the digital age we live in. "Back in the day" people separated by distance mostly communicated by letter. Once you sealed the letter and sent it on its way you had days or weeks to think about what you wrote; and maybe regret a thing or two.

Here is an excerpt from Maria Konnikova on "The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter":

     WHENEVER Abraham Lincoln felt the urge to tell someone off, he would compose what he called a “hot letter.” [emphasis added] He’d pile all of his anger into a note, “put it aside until his emotions cooled down,” Doris Kearns Goodwin once explained on NPR, “and then write: ‘Never sent. Never signed.’ ” Which meant that Gen. George G. Meade, for one, would never hear from his commander in chief that Lincoln blamed him for letting Robert E. Lee escape after Gettysburg.
     Lincoln was hardly unique. Among public figures who need to think twice about their choice of words, the unsent angry letter has a venerable tradition. Its purpose is twofold. It serves as a type of emotional catharsis, a way to let it all out without the repercussions of true engagement. And it acts as a strategic catharsis, an exercise in saying what you really think, which Mark Twain (himself a notable non-sender of correspondence) believed provided “unallowable frankness & freedom.”

From the Associated Press: "Killer Nile Crocodiles in Florida?"

Below are two excerpts from this article:

     Step aside, Burmese python — you may no longer be Florida's scariest invasive species. Researchers have confirmed that three Nile crocodiles were captured near Miami, and they say it's possible more of the man-eating reptiles are still out there, although no one can say for sure.
     The big question now: How did they get to Florida?
     "They didn't swim from Africa," University of Florida herpetologist Kenneth Krysko said. "But we really don't know how they got into the wild."

[and. . .]

     Nile crocs are believed to be responsible for up to 200 fatalities annually in their native sub-Saharan Africa. Compare that with an annual average of six reported shark attack deaths globally.

A message of peace and non-violence from the family of Corey Jones

Now for a quite different message from the editor(s) at The Palm Beach Post:

"The emphasis now must be on assuring the entire community that this prolonged process will still render a just outcome. Because while no fuse has yet been lit — as it was in Ferguson and Baltimore — the powder keg remains."

Do the editor(s) at the Post know what the words "powder keg" mean?

Exciting new horizons for our dwindling community of Anarchs in L-Dub. . . in Cuba?

Above: A satirical take on Anarchy (click image to enlarge). Below: An actual flyer passed out in L-Dub (aka Lake Worth) promoting Direct Action ("Occupations", "Blockades" and "Lockdowns", etc.) at the Quaker Meeting House. 
"We can build the world we want – BUT FIRST WE GOTTA SHUT THIS ONE DOWN!" Who is 'We'?

Come out and help beautify Tropical Ridge Park today (Saturday, May 21st)

These are the ways our City gets better and better every day:
This would be an opportunity to meet all those hard-working folks in the Tropical Ridge neighborhood. Please note the sponsors and the Royal Poinciana neighborhood will be helping as well.

Friday, May 20, 2016

For all those people working so hard every day to make their city a better place. . .

". . . Greenacres is a little bit of everything and a lot of nothing."
Source: The Palm Beach Post (County's paper of record), April 6th, 2016.

Save the Date—June 7th: The Dynamics of Density in the New Millennium

For more information and to register use this link.

Next Thursday is "Red Nose Day" in downtown Lake Worth!

If you don't have a "Red Nose", they can be purchased at Walgreen's and all the proceeds go to the children. To learn more about Red Nose Day use this link. Click on image to enlarge:
Join Commissioner Andy Amoroso all you kids with your Red Nose and get free ice cream at Hoffman's Chocolates!
Please note: If you're just a clown with a red nose you don't qualify for the free ice cream.

Lake Worth business news: "Company moving headquarters to neighborhood undergoing revitalization"

This news is from yesterday (5/19) from reporter Brian Bandell at the South Florida Business Journal. From the article are these two excerpts:

     Florida Window and Door will relocate its headquarters, showroom and distribution facilities from Palm Beach Gardens to Lake Worth.
     The supplier in hurricane-impact resistant windows and doors is renovating and expanding the 18,000-square-foot building at 1125 N. Dixie Highway [emphasis added] and plans to move in with 25 employees in October. The company has room there for additional job growth.
     "Our new facility on Dixie Highway and U.S. 1, we believe, is located in a neighborhood on the brink of being rehabilitated,” said Florida Window and Door President Scott Berman. "We are investing over $1.5 million dollars in this area, as we want to be the main driver behind the revitalization of this neighborhood by significantly updating this property and increasing our workforce with local residents.”

[and. . .]

     “Overall, businesses are looking favorably at that Dixie Highway corridor,” said Maxime Ducoste, the assistant director of planning for the City of Lake Worth.

C.W.S. Craft Cocktail Bar and Restaurant officially opens in Lake Worth on Tuesday, May 24th

Below are two excerpts from this article by the Post reporter Kevin Thompson about the building formerly know as 'The Cottage' on Lucerne Ave. across the street from the City's Lucerne building:

     The club, in the spot where The Cottage once stood, had a soft opening last week. C.W.S will officially open Tuesday, May 24.
     “We want to bring more people to the city and get more people spending money in Lake Worth instead of going to Delray Beach,” said Jeff John, the club’s owner and managing partner. “Why should Lake Worth not have something you can find in the rest of the country?”
     C.W.S. (short for Charles William Stache, the fictional proprietor) is an offshoot of Stache, a craft cocktail bar in Fort Lauderdale, featuring an inside whiskey den and an outdoor beer garden. 

[and. . .]

     The outdoor beer garden has a tented bar featuring 28 imported craft beers, Oktoberfest-style picnic tables, a gaming area and flat screen TVs.

If you have community news you want to share with the reporter from the City of Lake Worth, suburban Lake Worth, the Lake Worth Corridor and Greenacres here is how you contact the Post reporter:
Email: kthompson@pbpost.com
561-820-4573
Twitter: @kevindthompson1

Wes Blackman "Beating a dead horse": Converting the City's one-way streets back to two-way like they once were

The push-back I get writing about converting one-way streets back to two-way (here in Lake Worth, for example) is confronting deep held beliefs and biases the car culture has created: vis-à-vis keeping cars as far away as possible from other vehicles and people makes the street safer. It doesn't. Wider lanes and fewer obstructions gives motorists a false sense of security and hence they drive faster, most well above the posted speed limits.

Here is another article about this in CityLab titled, "The Many Benefits of Making One-Way Streets Two-Way". Here are some of the benefits they cite:
  • Traffic safety: Cars drive slower; have to be more aware of surroundings
  • Reduction in crime: Slower 'getaway' options for criminals and more eyes on the street from different directions
  • Property values: Read the section in article on appreciated home values on streets converted to two-way
Here are the opening paragraphs from the article in CityLab:

     From a traffic engineering perspective, one-way streets are all about speed. [emphasis added] Without the danger of oncoming traffic, one-way streets can feel like an invitation to hit the gas. But swift traffic flow isn’t the only factor by which progressive cities judge their streets, and as safety and livability become more important, a number of metros have found the case for converting one-way streets into two-way streets a compelling one.
     Count Louisville among the believers. In 2011, the city converted two one-way streets (Brook and 1st) in the Old Louisville part of town. Though originally designed as two-way streets, Brook and 1st became one-way after World War II, in keeping with the car-first engineering of the time. In championing the change, local official David James cited the need for calmer streets and economic development.
     A pair of planning scholars has evaluated just how well the safety and economic claims held up following the street conversions. In a word: very.

This is a post about an article in WonkBlog, Emily Badger's thoughts on one-way streets. Note that this is one of the most popular posts on my blog. I wonder why that is?

Do you know how speed limts are set? Ever hear of the 85th percentile?

This is a fascinating article by Anna Maria Barry-Jester titled, "Why The Rules Of The Road Aren’t Enough To Prevent People From Dying". This article explains from early on how pedestrians and cars interacted; cars, believe it or not, were once subordinate to pedestrians. That is very hard to imagine in today's world.

The excerpt below is near the beginning of the article and delves into the not-too-scientific method of how speed limits on roads are determined. The article states this is an old national standard (the 85th percentile) so would presume Florida's DOT also uses this method for speed limits in our Lake Worth state-owned roads, Dixie Hwy and Federal Hwy for example:

     In 2013, 32,719 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States, and 2.3 million were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Those numbers were down from the previous year, but motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death, and speed is a leading cause of accidents. [emphasis added] The NHTSA estimates a $277 billion annual price tag for those accidents, with an additional $594 billion for “harm from the loss of life and the pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries.”
     Given the social and economic toll of speeding, one might assume that we set speed limits with careful calculations aimed at maximizing safety. But that’s not exactly how it works, and a history of questionable applications of data is partly to blame.
     Here’s how speed limits are established in most states, according to Federal Highway Administration research: Traffic engineers conduct a study to measure the average speed motor vehicles move along a road. The speed limit is then set at the 85th percentile. From then on, 85 percent of drivers would be traveling under the speed limit and 15 percent would be breaking the law. Sometimes other factors are taken into consideration, but in most places, speed limits are largely determined by the speed most people feel safe traveling.

If you continue reading on in the article think you'll be interested in how "jaywalking" came to be.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lake Worth CRA sponsoring Committed to Community Day at the Tropical Ridge Fitness Park

"The Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), in cooperation with Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful, will be conducting a Committed to Community Day on Saturday, May 21st, from 8:00–11:00 at the Tropical Ridge Fitness Park located at 211 North ‘H’ Street in Lake Worth.

Interested individuals are asked to volunteer as we spruce up the park. Specific activities include spreading mulch/wood chips and litter/trash pick-up. Community service hours will be provided.

This event is made possible thanks to the support and donations from our sponsors including:
  • Community Partners
  • Neighborworks America
  • Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority
  • Planet In Action
  • Memory Trees
  • Troy-Bilt Mowers
  • City Commissioner Andy Amoroso
  • City of Lake Worth
The CRA, and our partners, are dedicated to improving this neighborhood and creating additional Greenspace and recreation for years to come.

For more information on the Committed to Community Day at the Tropical Ridge Fitness Park, please contact the Lake Worth CRA at 561-493-2550."

Videos from the Historic Resource Preservation Board (HRPB) workshop on Wednesday, May 18th

Going forward pay attention for upcoming neighborhood meetings addressing issues concerning historic preservation. The dates and times will be published on this blog, the City's website, and other places as well. This workshop set the stage for many conversations to follow, changes to the process, and ways to make the experience a much better and streamlined one for residents, homeowners, and the business community.

The video below is a playlist. In the top left-hand corner is the icon "1/6". Click that to see different parts of the meeting. I'll have much more on this issue over the following weeks and months. There were many ideas by the HRPB and the City staff and the discussion was a very helpful one.
The staff gave a brief overview of historic preservation through a PowerPoint. The first one didn't pick up well on the video, so you can click here to see a pdf copy of the presentation after the first agenda page. The second PowerPoint came out just fine after an adjustment to the lighting in the room.

Public comment was taken and each board member presented a list of their concerns and issues. There seems to be a push to make more of a distinction between contributing and non-contributing properties. That line has blurred over time which results in non-contributing properties being held to a higher standard as if they were contributing. I mentioned the need to look very hard at the interface between the city's bureaucracy and the resident when dealing with historic preservation issues. The message cannot just be that it is more expensive and takes longer to get things done in a historic district. More education needs to be done with the public and the real estate community about the benefits of historic preservation.

From The Real Deal: "Former CRA directors talk Delray Beach, WPB development"

Note: For new residents to Lake Worth there's a special treat below. From the article in The Real Deal by Dan Weil:

     Branding a blighted downtown as an arts and entertainment district, making streets more pedestrian-friendly and luring new restaurants helped redevelop the urban cores of Delray Beach and West Palm Beach, according to two former community redevelopment leaders who have turned their experience into a book.
     Christopher Brown, former Community Redevelopment Agency director in Delray Beach, and Kim Briesemeister, who held that position in West Palm Beach, have just put out a handbook on urban development, “Reinventing Your City.” 

[and. . .]

     In Delray Beach, when Brown started on the job in 1991, the city looked like “Death Valley” after 5 p.m., with no one on the streets, [emphasis added] he said. Brown and his colleagues started by branding downtown as an “arts and entertainment” destination. Atlantic Avenue was narrowed, sidewalks were widened, utilities were placed underground, and streetlights were added. Then decrepit parking lots were renovated. 

[and. . .]

     Today, Briesemeister is impressed with the government’s [West Palm Beach] continued focus on the waterfront, as evidenced by the encouragement of a hotel/retail/residential development on the site of the old City Hall at 200 2nd Street. She also lauds the city’s efforts to develop the Northwood and near Northwest neighborhoods.

If you're a new or recent resident to the little City of Lake Worth you will learn a lot reading this about Lake Worth's CRA, the $23 million NSP2 grant, and pay special attention to who was opposed to applying for the money which the CRA later received. This video from 2012 will also explain a lot:

From The Lake Worth Herald: "Commission Approves Purchase of Chamber of Commerce Building"

Also in this week's (5/19) issue of The Lake Worth Herald is news about Vegetation Amnesty Week, the upcoming Crime Walk on Sunday, pictures of the REAP Grant recipients, a list of events, and so much more including ads for local businesses.

To subscribe to the Herald use this link or visit the City's news stand at the corner of 'L' Street and Lake Ave. in the downtown to pick up the print edition. Below are excerpts from the news about our downtown 'Chamber' building located across the street from the Cultural Plaza:

     In 2004, the Lake Worth City Commisison approved assigning a $200,000 County grant to the Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce to assist the Chamber with the purchase and renovation of the property located at 501 Lake Avenue.
     The City Commission conditioned the assignment of grant money on a "reverter” clause, requiring the Chamber to return the $200,000 to the City if the Chamber ever ceased to exist and the property was sold.

[and. . .]

     The Central Palm Beach Chamber has leased “most” of the building to “Gratitude House” which has kept the front lobby area as a sort of visitor’s center.
     Jo Englessson, owner of Gratitude Training told the commission “We already allow people to come use the conference room. That’s our deal that we have with the Chamber right now.” Englessson continued, “Anyone can come rent it, use it as space. Nobody really has so I don’t know if people just don’t know about it.”

[and. . .]

     The City and Chamber have tentatively agreed on a price of $250,000. According to the Palm Beach Property Appraiser, the Property’s total market value for 2015 is listed as $374,987. City Manager Michael Bornstein said it is typically assumed that the listed total market value with the Property Appraiser is at least 20 percent less than the true market value.

[No surprise, it was another in a long line of 3-2 votes in opposition to almost everything. . .]

     The Commission voted 3-2 to move forward with the purchase. Commissioners Christopher McVoy and Ryan Maier cast the dissenting votes.

Heavy sigh.

Dr. Kearn: Spent 15 years in jungle studying anteaters and he's had enough

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Just a few thoughts on last nights (5/17) City Commission meeting

Wasn't able to attend the meeting but did catch some of the action via the City's web feed. Here are some thoughts and observations:
  • The double-standard by commissioners Ryan Maier and Chris McVoy was on full display: They want to know every future possibility vis-à-vis the future of the downtown 'Chamber' building but are just fine with upzoning residential neighborhoods (allowing 'home occupations') when no one has any clue what the future may hold if that should ever happen? How does one square those two positions?
  • The much-heralded Sister City Board revival by Maier wasn't able to muster a quorum at their first meeting. Hopefully that will change at the next meeting; if there is one.
  • After the presentation by the County on cats and the TNVR program it's clear any hope to save our native birds is over for good. The cats are firmly in control now. Time to move on to the next battle. Take pictures of the birds while you still can.
  • Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell had an interesting observation: The Coast Guard Auxiliary gave a presentation and they noted the 650 boating fatalities last year nationally. Maxwell later noted all the overdoses (500+) in just the County as a matter of perspective. Something to think about.
  • And Commissioner McVoy just loves the NAPC now! Funny how the upcoming March elections next year put a new perspective on things. Will back massages for the NAPC presidents be next?

Big news about the Briger Forest, errrrrr, Alton Tract in Palm Beach Gardens

What happened in Palm Beach Gardens (PBG) over the last five/ten years or so vis-à-vis the Briger Tract/Forest and development just happened to be a very good thing for the little City of Lake Worth: it kept our good friends here in LDub, the Anarchists of EarthFirst! (EF!), too busy up there to cause even more trouble here in the City. Well, that situation in PBG came to an end when EF! suffered a huge loss.

After that loss the EF!ers started trying to cause more havoc here in LDub. Ryan Hartman, the Anarchist candidate, is just one example and all the 'protests' and hyper-focus on the homeless is another. Expect even more 'actions', 'musicals', and entertaining stunts as the City inches toward the March elections next year.

Anyhow, here is the latest news about the "former Briger tract" in PBG from the Post reporter Sarah Peters titled, "United Technologies’ 300+ new jobs highlights growth in Gardens":

     Palm Beach County is poised for the biggest growth in the central-western communities in the next 20 years, but there’s one part of Palm Beach Gardens that’s seeing lots of new development now.
     It’s the former Briger tract off Donald Ross Road and Interstate 95, where Florida Gov. Rick Scott attended a groundbreaking for the United Technologies Center [emphasis added] for Intelligent Buildings Tuesday morning. It’s also where Kolter Homes built the first neighborhood of the Alton community and about 350 apartments known as Atlantico are approved.
     United Technologies’ project alone accounts for a $115 million capital investment in a building showcasing its products and housing corporate headquarters for its Climate, Controls & Security unit. What’s more, the center will employ at least 450 employees; of those, 380 will be new to Palm Beach County.

And on the subject of EF!, Ryan Hartman, the "former Briger tract", and protests do you remember the famous "battery in the lake"?
Out of the 1,000+ ways to disable a vehicle, the EF!ers chose the worst one for the environment: they threw the battery into a lake.

Confused about TV news in Lake Worth and who does what and where and how? And what TV news should you turn to?

There is some sort of TV news ratings cycle going on now and you can usually tell because Katie LaGrone takes it to a high level of earnestness. It's a sight to behold, trust me. She gets so intense the dogs jump off my lap and run away.

Personally, when I watch TV news my choice is NBC5/WPTV because they have the best reporters by far and really strive for fairness. So, what are the TV news stations in Palm Beach County you ask, and specifically Lake Worth? There are four major network-affiliated stations:
  • NBC5/WPTV is the one I turn to (Channel 432 on Comcast); Alex Hagan, Michelle Quesada, and Charlie Keegan have done nice work in Lake Worth. Their website, though, is getting clunkier all the time and taking longer to load. Too many ads and pop-ups?
  • Fox29/WFLX is also very good and is affiliated with WPTV (they share reporters and information). Both WPTV and WFLX have the Post as their "news partner", or did. Why did the Post run ads for WPBF last weekend (Sat. 5/14 and Sun. 5/15) in the online edition?
  • ABC25/WPBF I check now and then to correct them on news locations vis-à-vis the City of Lake Worth. Once in a while one of their reporters stumbles into the City by accident. The one trait all the reporters seem to share at WPBF is they couldn't find the actual City if you gave them the whole day, directions, and smoke signals. They probably think Lake Worth extends into the Everglades and a mile or so into the Atlantic Ocean as well. Pretty much everything that happens in central PBC is in "Lake Worth".
  • By far the worst of them all, in my opinion, is CBS12/WPEC. They've done some real doozies. And who can forget the "Holy War Brewing" in the City? A classic if there ever was one. And the "Prayer to Satan" with Lake Worth's Christmas tree in the background? Not what you'd call a high point for TV journalism. 
The "Holy War Brewing" is a CBS12 classic. That was later upstaged by the "Forced Relocation".
CBS12 had some real high points and one of them was reporter Jonathan Beaton. He transitioned from radio to TV news and it started off real rocky. He got better all the time though and did some real good news segments in Lake Worth. Did you pick up on the past tense? Yes, that's right, he's no longer at CBS12.

The next City workshop will be on what topic? Maybe about "That Beach Complex"

It's old news that the Casino complex is a failed business plan. The terrible state the building is in has been well documented here. Remember all the "green" parts of the building that were "value-engineered" or "Greenwashed" out to bring the building in on budget? One of the good things to come out of the since-ended Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) process was the people responsible for this mess, JoAnn Golden, Cara Jennings, and Commissioner McVoy, et al., are being called out and made to answer for their folly at "THE BEACH!".

The Lake Worth Herald had an editorial on this titled, "That Beach Complex" and pulled no punches:

     Through the years, Lake Worth Beach has been a political football. In the haste to get a new casino building, politicos [see image below] sold the citizens out for an inferior complex.
     Now, the citizens are saddled with a complex built with inferior material and a space no one wants to lease.
     Had the building details meant more to politicos than getting something done to put their name on it, Lake Worth would not be facing the issues it now faces.
     There was no consideration given to the pool and pool buildings, which sit adjacent to the new Casino Complex. The pool is a major expense to the city and should have been considered in the original plans. Politicos realized they would never get the money necessary to build the building they wanted if they had to include the pool facilities.
     Compounding the problem, they forced a guaranteed maximum price on the builder, who had to “value engineer” the property. Now we have what they asked for, and we have to deal with it.

Note that those responsible for this terrible mess have never had another group photo taken since the building opened:
There's not much more time left to keep "kicking this down the road". Another mess left over from the 'visionaries' in a previous City administration. Do you see the one holdover?

The case for eliminating one-way streets and designing narrower lanes in Lake Worth

Many times on this blog have written about the inherent danger of one-way streets. One-way streets increase vehicular speed, narrow a driver's focus, and increase the risk to pedestrians and bicyclists. Many people complain in Lake Worth about the speed of vehicles on their particular street and many times those streets share two common characteristics: the street is too wide and the street is one-way. 

In urban areas it's been demonstrated that changing one-way streets to two-way increases property values, increases traffic to businesses, and takes away a decided advantage to the criminal element (having to look both ways for passers-by and PBSO). In the long run two-way streets are better for the environment: a decrease vehicle miles driven and the amount of fuel used. 

From Planetizen have more on urban streets and safety: street width.

     A new study indicates that the safest urban streets have lanes that measure 10-10.5 feet wide. Narrower and wider lanes have higher crash frequencies, and wider lanes have higher crash severity.
     The "forgiving highway" approach to traffic engineering holds that wider is safer when it comes to street design. After decades of adherence to these standards, American cities are now criss-crossed by streets with 12-foot wide lanes. As Walkable City author Jeff Speck argued in a column last year, this is actually terrible for public safety and the pedestrian environment.

[PINNED POST*] Spread the Word—Workshop tonight by City's Historic Resource Preservation Board (HRPB)

To learn one reason (among many) why this workshop came to be use this link.

Yesterday afternoon the agenda for the HRPB meeting was uploaded to the City's website. Here is the link.

The City's calendar has an error for today's meeting. It IS NOT a joint workshop with the Planning and Zoning Board as the calendar has it.

Public comment (3 minutes) will be allowed at this meeting so if you have comments or concerns about historic preservation in Lake Worth make plans to be at City Hall at 6:00. 

Again, please share this information with your neighbors, neighborhood, and others interested in this very important topic in this City.
*A pinned post is kept at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down for new content and Thank You for visiting.

What happens when historic preservation becomes overzealous and onerous: There needs to be a balance.

[Below is a post from last January which followed a particularly memorable meeting by the South Palm Park neighborhood here in Lake Worth. What happened at that meeting spread throughout the City quickly and received a lot of attention. It was that meeting that prompted me to write the blog post below. This issue was a major topic at Mayor Pam Triolo's State of the City Address. The public desire to have a workshop on this issue was always strong but since then has gained steam. This workshop is finally a reality and will be at City Hall beginning at 6:00 this evening (Wed. 5/18). 

Although you may not wish to speak publicly it's very important to show up and watch the proceedings and learn more about this issue. I encourage everyone to be respectful to staff and the HRPB despite your thoughts about historic preservation in this City, one way or the other. The blog post from last January follows:

In July of 2015 I resigned as the chair of the Historic Resource Preservation Board in Lake Worth. The reason for that resignation had nothing at all to do with my thoughts that follow.

First some background: There are six different historic districts in Lake Worth. They take up a good portion of the eastern half of the city. If you happen to own property there, commercial or residential, the changes that you make to your building are regulated to a greater degree than if you own property outside those districts. What kind of roof, windows, doors, siding, additions and new construction all face a higher level of scrutiny than do properties outside of a historic district. Owning property in a historic district, over time, has been proven to increase the property's value. However, there is a fine balance between maintaining the historic character of a district (or neighborhood) and the inconvenience, or worse, for the property owners within that district.

I did not attend the meeting of the South Palm Park Neighborhood Association but have heard a lot about what happened; there was discussion about how the property owners and residents can get out from under the regulations related to being in a historic district which they feel have become unduly onerous. This is disquieting news for someone who is a strong advocate for reasonable historic preservation efforts. However, I hear more and more complaints from people who are trying to improve their properties within historic districts and how the process has become cumbersome. The complaints range from the time it takes to review a request/permit, to not being able to communicate with staff, and to property owners being treated abruptly and with little sympathy.

There are sound reasons for the establishment of historic districts, but everyone must be aware of the impact those regulations have on the property owners and, more importantly, how they are administered. I think that Lake Worth is crossing the line in terms of being overzealous in the way it deals with requests, for both contributing and non-contributing properties. The scale needs to be tipped back towards the side of reasonableness and with a keen awareness of the need for an efficient review of applications in a timely manner. My fear is if the city continues its present approach we are in jeopardy of losing the benefits of a respected historic preservation program and it will appear to be more of a burden than it is worth to investors, homeowners, and possible future residents.

If you've had an issue I encourage you to speak out. If you wish to document your experience you can email me at wesblackman@gmail.com. Please try to refrain from using specific names of people at the City you have had interaction with and use the generic term "staff" in your comments. I will gather all this information and then decide how to proceed. I will follow your instructions on whether or not you wish to keep your anonymity.

Thank You,

Wes

The Royal Poinciana neighborhood meeting is TONIGHT (Wednesday, 5/18 at 6:30) at the Lake Worth High School

Please note: Anyone from any neighborhood in the City and others from outside the City as well interested in what is going on in Lake Worth are encouraged to attend.

Learn more about the Royal Poinciana Neighborhood Assoc. (RPNA) using this link. There are way too many items to be discussed at tonight's meeting but below are a few:

     RPNA will be in the raft race again this year! The theme is "Toys out the Box". Please submit any ideas by May 20th to Chakeit@gmail.com 
     Neighborhood Crime Watch signs will be up within the next two weeks. Please contact Yolanda at: snake.biting.its.own.tail@gmail.com if you are interested in being a block captain or signing up for the PBSO Citizens Observance Patrol (COP program).
     We are attempting to have more STOP signs placed within our neighborhood. Please submit any high traffic concerns or ideas for stop signs to binky0612@aol.com 
     This months guest speaker is Mary Lindsey from the Little Free Libraries. 
     This months cleanup has been rescheduled for May 21st. Our concentration will be on South 'B' and 'C' Streets, the alleyway in between, and from Lake Ave. to 6th Ave. South.

Sarah Malega 
President, RPNA

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"Record-breaking 29.8 million tourists visited Florida in 1st quarter"

To read the entire article by the Post's Jennifer Sorentrue use this link.* Here are two excerpts:

"A record-breaking 29.8 million tourists visited Florida during the first quarter of the year, marking the highest tourism count ever recorded from January to March, according to data released Monday by Gov. Rick Scott’s office.
     The governor announced that 29.8 million tourists visited the state between January and March, a 4.8 percent increase from the same time period last year."

[and. . .]

     "Palm Beach County tourism have also seen record-breaking growth.
     An early Easter sent revenue from the county’s tourism tax, also known as a bed-tax, soaring to an all-time high in March.
     March tourism tax revenue totaled $7.9 million — up 17.6 percent, or $1.2 million, from March 2015, according to the county’s Tourist Development Council."


*For those of you in Lake Worth expecting visitors or if you happen to meet a tourist looking for hotel lodging please direct them to this helpful website.

AN UNHEEDED CALL TO ACTION—From the Palm Beach Post editors: Cats and why TNVR needs to be abandoned

Remember, it was a Palm Beach Post editorial on May 27th, 2015 (nearly a year ago), that started the big debate and all the news about Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Release (TNVR) and the horrible devastation of bird populations here in Florida. Eliot Kleinberg wrote an article about this titled, "Wildlife groups: Returning cats to streets a bad idea", and Wayne Washington had one titled, "Palm Beach County mayor urges rescue groups to stop bringing in non-local animals".

Even Rich Anderson of Peggy Adams Animal Rescue chimed in with a Post opinion piece that, frankly, didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Anyhow, read the blog post below from May of last year about the Post editorial that started all the fur flying (pardon the pun):

Once a cat has been trapped, neutered, and vaccinated, many times they're released into the neighborhood or into the wild (such as the Everglades). Cats are causing havoc on the ecosystem and you can read about that here. Here is a Florida songbird that is threatened by cats:
The Florida Scrub Jay, image from Wikipedia.
The Palm Beach Post editorial board has this to say about a PBC Commission vote coming up in June:

     "In June, 2015 commissioners will take a final vote on the proposed TNVR program. They should pause before they do. [emphasis added]
     The county’s proposed policy, as written, has some good features. It would prohibit the release of the cats in parks and protected natural areas, and it would focus on sterilizing only healthy-looking cats that are clearly being fed and cared for by neighborhood animal lovers. These cats would be returned to their place of origin once 'fixed,' microchipped and vaccinated.
     That sounds like the perfect solution, except that it’s not really. Even well-fed cats retain their hunting instinct, and continue to kill significant numbers of wild birds and animals. One study found an outdoor domestic cat is capable of killing 60 birds and 1,600 small mammals in an 18-month period."

There is also another possible solution to the feral cat population:
The Nile Monitor Lizard eats feral cats and it is gaining a foothold in Palm Beach County.

The Haitian Heritage Month ceremony will be at City Hall at 5:15 today (Tuesday, May 17th)

The Haitian community of Lake Worth has distinguished itself through their participation and outreach efforts in numerous organizations, businesses, and community. The City of Lake Worth and the Haitian community share in the belief that the contributions and participation of people from all cultures and backgrounds is what makes Lake Worth a great city.
     Mayor Pam Triolo will hold a ceremony in front of City Hall to proclaim May 2016 as Haitian Heritage Month in the City of Lake Worth. The Haitian National flag will then be raised in honor of Haitian Flag Day.

A message from Publix:

Lake Worth Traffic Advisory: 6th Ave. South road closure begins today

All Aboard Florida (Brightline) will be closing the portion of 6th Avenue South at the Florida East Coast (FEC) railroad tracks from Tuesday, May 17th, at 7:00 am to Friday, May 20th at 6:00 pm. Use this link to see all upcoming road closures. For ways to get around the closure use this link.

"The Problem With Palm Trees—They may look pretty, but fronds hurt cities' sustainability efforts"

Palm trees—Another thing for 2 Lake Worth enviros who are among the "19 Best Environmentalists in South Florida" to think about: an excerpt from this article:

     A recent study of three different tree groves in Tel Aviv, for example, showed that palms provide the least amount of shade and needed the most water, up to 1,000 liters per day. Ficus and Rosewood trees, meanwhile, have much lower water needs and managed to cool the surrounding area by seven degrees and three degrees, respectively. The palms chilled the air less than one degree.
     A similar study on oases in southern Israel found that palms actually managed to warm the surrounding area.
     “From a climatic point of view, it’s useless,” says Oded Potchter, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University. Potchter has tried to convince cities in Israel to stop using palms, to little avail. "They say it is nice and they will continue to use them," he says.
     Stateside, though, it’s another story. Many palm-worshipping cities are seeing to it that the fronds no longer dominate the landscape in a bid to add shade and carbon-trapping to their tree cover. "We are not using palms, but not because we don’t want to. We want to increase canopy coverage," says George Gonzalez, chief forester for the city of Los Angeles.

City Commission meeting tonight (Tuesday, 5/17), how to watch Live, and what's with all those "waived" board appointments?

Instructions on how to watch a City Commission meeting 'Live Streaming': A few minutes after 6:00 use this link and then click on "Video/Audio of Public Meetings". If the screen is blank wait a few minutes and try again. It's that easy.

To see tonight's Commission agenda for yourself use this link and scroll down to "May 17, 2016 Regular Meeting" and click on "Full Version". Below are excerpts from the agenda, with highlights, and why did Commissioner Maier twice waive his "right to this appointment"?

City of Lake Worth City Commission Agenda
City Hall, 7 North Dixie Hwy
Tuesday, May 17, at 6:00 pm
1. Roll Call
2. Invocation or moment of silence
3. Pledge of Allegiance led by Commissioner McVoy
4. Agenda: Additions/Deletions/Reordering
5. Presentations (there is no public comment on Presentation items)
A. Presentation by Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control on Feral Cats Ordinance [use this link to learn more] 
B. Proclamation declaring May 15-21, 2016 as National Public Works Week
C. Proclamation declaring May 21-27, 2016 as National Safe Boating Week
D. City Recreation Advisory Board
6. Commission liaison reports and comments
7. Public participation of non-agendaed items and consent agenda
8. Approval of minutes
9. Consent agenda (public comment allowed)
A. Ratify board members to the various City advisory boards

[Note: This is where it gets interesting.]

Ratify board members to the various City advisory boards
Summary: This item is to ratify the appointment of members to the City Tree, Sister City, Planning and Zoning, Recreation and Library Advisory Boards.
Background and justification:
     On February 5, 2013, the Commission adopted an ordinance amending the board member appointment process to allow for the selection of board members by individual elected officials. In accordance with the ordinance, the board appointments would be effective upon ratification by the Commission as a whole.
     On November 4, 2014, the Commission adopted an ordinance to provide for an elected official to waive his or her right to make an appointment. It also provides for the next elected official responsible for an appointment to make it. The following appointments are requested to be ratified.

[Below are excerpts from the appointments on the agenda] 
  • Commissioner Amoroso’s appointment of Maryann Polizzi to the Sister City Board to fill an unexpired term ending on July 31, 2017.
  • Commissioner Maier’s appointment of Ricardo Martin to the Planning and Zoning Board to fill an unexpired term ending on July 31, 2017.
  • Vice Mayor’s appointment of Maryann Polizzi to the Recreation Advisory Board to fill an unexpired term ending on July 31, 2018. This was District 4 appointment; however, Commissioner District 4 waived his right to this appointment to the Commission.
  • Vice Mayor’s appointment of Theodore Johnson to the Library Board to fill an unexpired term ending on July 31, 2020. This was District 4 appointment; however, Commissioner District 4 waived his right to this appointment to the Commission. 
Ryan Maier is the commissioner for District 4. Why would he be waiving his right to make board appointments? By the way, Maier may be up for re-election in March of next year. To read about that look in the right-hand column for "Deadline fast approaching to get your name on March 2017 ballot".

Monday, May 16, 2016

Helene Jarvis does it again: Cuts through all the nonsense at The Palm Beach Post

Helene Jarvis has another 'Letter to the Editor' published in the Post (Sunday, 5/16) smacking down the political monkeywrenching in that satirically-challenged article by Frank Cerabino. Excerpts from that letter are below. Use this link to read Jarvis' letter to the Post about Commissioner McVoy's silliness concerning Mayor Pam Triolo's baked ziti and false allegations of Sunshine Law violations. McVoy has since gone completely silent about this nonsense.

Funny how effective really good satire can be, isn't it? Anyhow, below are two excerpts from Jarvis' latest satirical effort:

"I have read all of Frank Cerabino’s wonderfully funny books. I stopped reading his columns when he decided to become a political pundit who lost his sense of humor toward anyone not in agreement with his political views.[emphasis added]
     His column on Tuesday, 'Lake Worth’s classical-music offensive is winning wrong fans,' caught my eye because I am a resident of Lake Worth. He took the city to task for their use of classical music in our town square — done to annoy anyone using the square as 'home.' "

[and. . .]

     "I am still laughing hours after reading his advice, and am hoping our mayor and city commissioners consider his suggestion of 'It’s a Small World' playing morning, noon and night.
     Anyone subjected to that might just consider a fast walk to the other side of the street. Problem solved. Thanks, Frank."

Very well done, Helene, and Thank You for taking the time and effort pointing out all this nonsense.

Ribbon cutting ceremony for completion of major roadway project tomorrow (Tuesday, 5/17)

For more information contact Public Services Director Jamie Brown at 561-586-1720 or email at JBrown@lakeworth.org

     "The City of Lake Worth is pleased to announce the completion of the 6th Ave South Roadway Improvements Project which spans from Dixie Hwy to Federal Hwy.
     The City will be performing a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the much anticipated reconstruction of this gateway entrance into the City. The ceremony will be held tomorrow (May 17th) at 2:00 pm at the intersection of 6th Ave South and South K Street.
     The project consisted of the installation of new curbing, sidewalks, ADA compliant curb ramps, traffic calming, drainage improvements, landscaping, pavement reconstruction, new striping and signage.
     Please join us as we celebrate another successful construction project enhancing the community and providing for a safer Lake Worth."

Despite problems the future looks promising for our business community but why won't two of our elected's "take the walk"?

The Gulf Stream hotel, hopefully in the near future, will be coming back to life and contributing to our City and downtown. The City's Park of Commerce long held back from its potential is finally moving forward but more funding is needed and hopefully Governor Scott and the legislature will help despite that unfortunate veto.

Did you know there are 38 cities in Palm Beach County and only two, Pahokee and Belle Glade, fared worse than Lake Worth during and after the Great Recession? Lake Worth's "LW2020" bond vote failed by just 25 votes and it was a former City mayor, who now lives in Atlantis, a city with wonderful streets and infrastructure, that had a key role in that outcome (remember the CAUT PAC?).
Remember these signs? Many of these signs lined 'J' Street north of Publix. That terrible stretch of road everyone complains about would have been fixed already if the bond had passed.
But despite all these challenges our business community for the most part has remained loyal to our City. Michelle Sylvester is one of those business owners. She's been working with businesses and the City to solve many of the issues and the headwinds that business owners face and she's had a lot of success bringing attention to this issue. She had organized "walks" with City leaders for them to see first-hand the problems along with the successes. Lake Worth Mayor Triolo and Commissioner Amoroso (both re-elected by landslides) took one of these walks but they didn't have to. They both own businesses in the downtown. They know what is happening because they see it every day.

But two commissioners in Lake Worth have refused to walk the "walk" and they've ignored the invitations offered by Michelle Sylvester. The video below is from the Lake Worth City Commission on January 19th. The video quality is poor because it was recorded off a TV screen but the audio is clear. She thanks those who walked the walk with her. And you can clearly hear the frustration she feels trying to get the attention of two City commissioners who have thus far ignored her invitations: commissioners Ryan Maier and Chris McVoy.

What Sylvester said at that City Commission meeting caused quite the stir and much was written about it on this blog and other places. Watch the video for yourself then ask yourself this question: Why won't Maier and McVoy take the "walk"?

Read below about the "Lake Worth Arts Plan" and Phase 1 of the rollout.

Also note that last week's issue of The Lake Worth Herald featured important news for the Haitian American community, a County Update by Commissioner Shelley Vana, the "Simply Lake Worth" art exhibit, list of events, a picture montage from Mayor Pam Triolo's "National Day of Prayer", and so much more including ads for local businesses from all over town.

To subscribe to the Herald use this link or visit the City's news stand at the corner of 'L' Street and Lake Ave. in the downtown to pick up the print edition. Below is the news about the "Lake Worth Arts Plan":

     "Jan Rodusky, Chief Grants Officer for the Cultural Council of the Palm Beaches, Jan Baily-Bryant of Jan Stover and Associates and Priya Sircar of the Lord Cultural Resources are the professional team helping the community of Lake Worth through Phase 1 of the 'Lake Worth Arts Plan.'
     The team was engaged by the Cultural Council, located at 601 Lake Avenue. 
     Three other agencies have joined the Cultural Council of Palm Beach: the Community Foundation of the Palm Beaches and Martin Counties, the Lake Worth Arts (LULA) and the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). But, most importantly, it includes the residents of Lake Worth."

[and. . .]

     "This Arts Plan will be user friendly, functional, direct, and will provide protection for the future. Residents are welcomed and encouraged to visit the website for current news and updates. 
     This is your opportunity to shape the core of downtown’s future."

Electric cars and an unintended result: is greener making people meaner?

The New York Times had this item you can file under "Unintended Consequences":

     "Of all the states, California has set the most ambitious targets for cutting emissions in coming decades, and an important pillar of its plan to reach those goals is encouraging the spread of electric vehicles.
     But the push to make the state greener is creating an unintended side effect: It is making some people meaner. [emphasis added]
     The bad moods stem from the challenges drivers face finding recharging spots for their battery-powered cars. Unlike gas stations, charging stations are not yet in great supply, and that has led to sharp-elbowed competition. Electric-vehicle owners are unplugging one another’s cars, trading insults, and creating black markets and side deals to trade spots in corporate parking lots."

On City's agenda tomorrow: The always-contentious issue of feral, roaming, and 'community' cats

The problem of feral and roaming cats in Lake Worth is a regular topic on this blog (here is one), especially as it relates to the devastation of our native bird populations and human health concerns.

This issue will be on the City Commission agenda tomorrow (Tuesday, 5/17) in the form of a County Proclamation. Want to see this for yourself? It's easy. Use this link and scroll down for "May 17, 2016 Regular Meeting" and then click on "Full Version" to download. Here is an excerpt from pages 5–41:

"WHEREAS, Section 125.01, Florida Statutes, authorizes the Board of County Commissioners of Palm Beach County to adopt ordinances to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens and animals of Palm Beach County"

[and. . .]

"WHEREAS, in order to reduce the overpopulation of cats, which are euthanized every year at alarming rates, the Board has determined that all cats must be spayed or neutered by four months of age unless certain exemptions apply; and
WHEREAS, spaying and neutering all cats by four months of age, before they are sexually mature and able to reproduce, will prevent unintended breeding and unwanted litters of kittens; and
WHEREAS, the Board recognizes the need for innovation in addressing the issues presented by the overpopulation of cats and, to that end, it recognizes that there are often community members providing care for cats that have no apparent owner"

[and. . .]

"WHEREAS, it is necessary to amend the Ordinance to provide for consistency with state law; to amend certain definitions; to delete obsolete provisions; to reduce hold times for impounded animals; to provide restrictions on the redemption of animals; to remove regulations pertaining to honeybee hives"

[and lastly. . .]

"to amend language pertaining to livestock; to amend provisions related to hearings before special masters; to shorten the time in which the Division must hold an animal impounded when an owner is involuntarily unable to care for the animal; to amend regulations pertaining to trapping animals and to make other changes necessary for the efficient operation of the Division and in the best interest of the citizens and animals of the county."

Have questions about new street lighting project? Electric Utility Dir. will be guest speaker at Parrot Cove today

To learn more about the Parrot Cove neighborhood use this link.
     "The Parrot Cove meeting for May will be today (May 16th), 7:00 at The Beach Club located at the Lake Worth Golf Course.
     Our guest speaker this month will Jack Borsch, the Lake Worth Electric Utilities Director. Jack will be answering all your questions on the electric utility, including discussing the capital improvements to the system resulting in improved efficiency and reliability, the new online app to check on and report power outages, as well as discussion of the current ongoing project replacing all the street light fixtures in the City with new LED fixtures. The presentation will also include which types of replacements are taking place, where, as well as the locations of new poles for additional lighting throughout the city, including Parrot Cove. The new 2-megawatt solar power production plant at the old dump site in the City's south end will also be discussed.
     Mitch at The Beach Club continues to extend the Happy Hour menu and pricing on drinks to our group during our meeting.
     This will be a very informative presentation on one of Lake Worth's common topics of discussion among residents. Please join us and let your neighbors know too."

For more on the City's street lighting project use this link to watch the recent news segment by NBC5/WPTV's Michelle Quesada.

On public policy and 'Critical Thinking': Would you believe me. . .

Would you believe me If I told you there was a city commissioner in the City of Lake Worth who:
  • Has a PhD in science
  • Gives near-constant warnings about sea level rise
  • Offers reminders on a regular basis about climate change and melting glaciers
  • Is a strong supporter of "Green" technology and "Green" energy
  • Warns of our possible "climate refugee" status
  • Supports "Best Practices" and "Critical Thinking"
  • Claims expert status on "sustainability" and "resiliency"
  • Demands accountability from his fellow elected's on the dais. . .
. . . supported constructing a large public structure east of the Coastal Construction Line and immediately west of a beach on the Atlantic Ocean WITHOUT PILINGS? You wouldn't believe it would you?
That's right. Lake Worth Commissioner Chris McVoy, PhD, supported constructing the 'new' Casino building without pilings. And to make matters worse the seawall protecting the Casino was never properly inspected. 
So much for 'Critical Thinking' in Lake Worth.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

News from the NAPC: County's REAP grants for neighborhoods and non-profits in Lake Worth

You can also read about this on the Neighborhood Assoc. Presidents Council (NAPC) Facebook page. For a list of neighborhoods, contact information, and other useful factoids go to the NAPC website. Below is the latest news:

Congratulations to all the Lake Worth Neighborhood Associations and non-profits whose grant applications were recommended for approval at the REAP graduation ceremony. All in, we brought home $36,050 for neighborhood improvements—just shy of 30% of the total amount awarded to all of Palm Beach County. A partial list in no particular order:
  • Cottages of Lake Worth: $5,000 for printed material to promote Lake Worth's cottages
  • Tropical Ridge: $5,000 for signage and other outreach materials including street banners
  • Friends of the Lake Worth Library: $3,200 to help furnish a homework study zone
  • Friends of the Lake Worth Library: $5,000 for Little Free Libraries
  • Eden Place Neighborhood: $1,900 for a Crime Watch program
  • NAPC: $5,000 to fund street banners for neighborhoods
  • Whispering Palms: $4,000 to build a community garden
  • Vernon Heights: $2,000 for Crime Watch program
  • Royal Poinciana: $1,500 for neighborhood clean-up tool and supplies
  • Royal Poinciana: $650 for neighborhood outreach printed material
  • ROLO: $2,000 for Crime Watch program