Saturday, August 6, 2016

More news from this week's Herald: "Pre-paid Utilities To Be Workshopped By City"

Remember, it was the Herald that broke this news last year: a pitch by two commissioners to spike up the City's electric rates. The Commission majority (Mayor Triolo, Vice Mayor Maxwell, and Commissioner Amoroso) rejected that.
Earlier posted this news from The Lake Worth Herald about more CDBG funds coming to Lake Worth to beautify one of our community parks in the City. Much of the news you'll read in the Herald is too mundane for publishing in the Post, a newspaper that relies more on conflict and simple good/bad scenarios to attract readers.

The news below on the possibility of pre-paid utilities coming to Lake Worth seemed like a simple agenda item, that is until Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell let his thoughts be known. Last Tuesday's (8/2) City Commission meeting was a short one and this discussion about the utilities took up a big part of the time. Although I was unable to attend watched parts of the meeting via live streaming video.

From the discussion this looked like a 4-1 vote to approve but Maxwell was persistent there were too many unanswered questions. Maxwell's major point was the fear Lake Worth would become known as the City to move to if you wanted to sign up for utilities cheaply. He also pointed out the wisdom of changing course when the City has made big strides of late when it comes to customer service, to name one. He made other points as well but this one was the zinger, paraphrasing Maxwell:
"If this is such a great idea why isn't FPL doing it?"
It was that line I think won the day and there was no vote. Instead the decision was made to workshop this. On August 25th is a scheduled workshop but no agenda as yet. Below are excerpts from the Herald about this:

     The City Commission agreed to workshop a prepaid account management system software agreement with Exceleron Software, LLC. Staff has recommended the City enter into an agreement with Exceleron by piggybacking on a contract the City of Ocala has with Exceleron.
     The Exceleron’s prepaid account management system software will allow residents to pre-pay their Electric and Water, and Sewer usage. The software will also help customers who can’t afford large deposits to still move into the City’s service area. [emphasis added]

[and. . .]

     Customers that sign up for the Pre-Paid Utility system no longer receive a paper bill or a final notice letter. This alone results in an annual savings. In addition, these customers will not be a risk to the City for incurring bad debt and write-offs.

If issues such as this are important to you then I suggest you subscribe to The Lake Worth Herald:
To subscribe to the Herald use this link.

Opening night for "The Male Form": A look at Pedro Gabriel-Antonio's art

For more about the gallery use this link.
Pedro Gabriel-Antonio, the artist. Enjoy this video from the opening:

Friday, August 5, 2016

News in this week's Lake Worth Herald*: County approves Domino Park for CDBG Funds

Should the neighborhood have reason for concern? Possibly Commissioner Ryan Maier should be consulted to see if there is any risk of gentrification to nearby areas? Anyhow, below are excerpts from this week's Lake Worth Herald:

     Palm Beach County has agreed to make a total of $34,813 in unspent Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds available to the City to make improvements to an unimproved parcel of land in the public right of way on South G Street between South 8th Avenue and South 9th Avenue.
     The location is currently being used by residents as an informal location to play checkers and dominoes on makeshift tables and chairs. These funds are comprised of CDBG funding balances remaining from the recently completed 10th Avenue South, 9th Avenue South and 5th Avenue North right-of-way improvements projects.

[and. . .]

     The project entails improvements to this parcel, commonly referred to as Domino Park, in order to better accommodate the needs of the residents through the provision of a more attractive venue that is better protected from the elements. Proposed improvements include clearing and grubbing of the site, installation of a concrete slab, purchase/construction of an open pavilion with amenities, equipment, landscaping and other site improvements consistent with park projects.

*To subscribe to the Herald use this link. To pick up the print edition go to City's newsstand at 600 Lake Ave. across the street from Paws on the Avenue.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Last Sunday's blaring Palm Beach Post headline: "Charles Whitman of Lake Worth: The Madman in the Tower"

Poor taste by the 'Culture' editor. "Arts & Travel" news about Lake Worth?
This headline was on page 1, above the fold, in the "Arts & Travel" section. Try to wrap your head around that one. Arts & Travel? Really?

Then, as if that wasn't enough, on page A1 above the fold was this to grab your attention:
MADMAN IN THE TOWER: In 1966, a massacre at the University of Texas by a Lake Worth man shocked the nation
Why publish this recycled garbage in the Sunday Palm Beach Post? Who knows.

Interestingly, buried on page B3 of the same Sunday paper was this article by Kevin Thompson titled:
City [Lake Worth] spruces up stop signs to prevent deaths on roadways
Here is an excerpt from the article:

     "This will keep people from blowing through stop signs,” said Nadine Burns, Rotary Club president. “There are a lot of people in Lake Worth who are on foot and who walk everywhere. A lot of families and children live in those neighborhoods.”
     Yolanda Vasquez, who lives in Royal Poinciana, said she’s glad the panels are being installed. “I’m excited that the CRA (and Lake Worth Rotary Club) are focusing on safety,” she said. “We are important.”
     In late 2014, the Rotary Club approached the CRA about the project, Chris Dabros, the agency’s deputy director, said.
     The city didn’t have the time or manpower to take on the project, so the CRA stepped in.

Now ask yourself this question: Why did the story about Charles Whitman, which you can read about on the Lake Worth Wikipedia page, an event from 50 years ago receive such attention and the work by the Lake Worth Rotary and CRA gets buried on page B3?

Remember, the story about Charles Whitman is an old, recycled one. There wasn't one single new piece of information provided by reporter Sonja Isger. On the same page in the Arts & Travel section were these headlines also:
  • Demons and doom: The Whitmans of Lake Worth
  • He killed his mother 'to save her embarrassment'
  • How many Americans have died in mass shootings since 1966?
Is it any surprise why the Post circulation numbers are so pathetic? And, if anything, this is proof why it's so important to support your local newspapers like The Lake Worth Herald. If you rely solely on the Post for 'community' news you're missing out on a whole lot.

"Engaging Youth to Create Community Places". . . and bold ideas for the future of the City's Casino

Below is an excerpt from the Project for Public Spaces written by Cheryl Millard:

     "Young people use public spaces just as much as anyone else, if not more. And yet, too often young people, or young adults between the ages of 12 to 25, are not included in the process of Placemaking and end up “loitering” in other spaces. [emphasis added] Some communities frown upon loitering, which can create a negative image for young people and just contributes to the stigma surrounding them, especially those who are at risk. By being actively engaged in youth-friendly spaces, young people can feel like they have investment in their community and they can develop a strong sense of ownership in these places.
     Parks and public spaces are often built with small children and adults in mind, with an emphasis on playgrounds for the children and benches for the adults watching them. Alternatively, some public spaces are simply devoid of activity or amenities – conducive to picnicking or maybe playing ball, but offering little else for young people. With nothing to do after school, they hang out at train stations, shopping centers, and local parks."

The conversation will begin soon, hopefully, on how to fix all the problems at the Lake Worth Casino. As part of that conversation, with the City's downtown loitering problem in mind, wouldn't part of that discussion be how to keep the younger people, teenagers for instance, more 'busy' and engaged? What better place, or space, for that than the Casino complex at the beach?
Photo of Lake Worth Casino Complex by Skyline Aerials, LLC.
What could be at the Casino complex to attract more young people and keep them excited? Not all of the younger people get excited about laying on the beach or surfing. How about a skate park? There is plenty of space for one. Volleyball courts with stands for the community to watch? Or an outdoor auditorium for plays and other activities?

Ideas like this can be very upsetting for some people. But remember, it was the failed ideas by a previous City administration that opens up some very real opportunities going forward to fix this mess. Here's another idea: How about shuffleboard courts?

Visit downtown Lake Worth and take a nice walk to the City's Visitors' Information Center

"In the heart of Historic Downtown Lake Worth, the Visitor Information Center is the place to pick up a map or brochure, and speak with a volunteer who can assist you in making your visit easy, enjoyable and unforgettable."
Here is more information:
  • Call the Visitor Center at 561-540-5304
  • Located at 414 Lake Avenue, the City Hall Annex
  • Hours: Monday–Friday, 10 am–4 pm
  • Email (copy and paste): lakeworthvic@gmail.com
  • They are also on Facebook
  • Finding a hotel room is easy! Just a few minutes north is West Palm Beach and their Visitor Center will assist you. 
Make Lake Worth, "where the tropics begin" part of your visit to central Palm Beach County!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

[LATEST UPDATE] Volunteers needed and more bad news about Lake Worth's Sister City Board. How am I going to explain this to Lappeenranta?

At last night's (8/2) City Commission meeting Commissioner Ryan Maier, during commissioner comments, said a Sister City Board meeting is scheduled for Monday! Could it finally be? So far there is nothing on the City calendar and no agenda as yet. So stay tuned and don't let up looking for more volunteers! Read on to find out how we've gotten to this point:

If you would like to volunteer to serve on the Sister City Board please use this link. Or if you wish call Silvina Donaldson, the City's Volunteer Coordinator at 561-586-1730, email sdonaldson@lakeworth.org or contact Maryann:
An urgent appeal for help from a Sister City Board member, Maryann Polizzi: Call 561-685-6010 or email poli510@bellsouth.net
I received information on July 18th that the Sister City Board had finally reached a quorum, after 3 months. But I've come to learn this may be false according to a trusted source. What I've learned is two more people got booted off the board for non-attendance, something Commissioner Ryan Maier knows a thing or two about, since he was also booted off for not attending meetings.
For more backup on this letter use this link.
Commissioner Ryan Maier is the City's liaison to that board. Whether he's not providing direction or not inspiring his board is a moot point now. It's simply inexcusable to not reach a quorum for 4 months in a row.

The City Commission needs to take action to resolve this situation once and for all. Our Sister City in Finland deserves better:
Image from Wikipedia. I met Finnish visitors last month and they told me all kinds of wonderful things about the city. .
"Lappeenranta has a colourful history, lying as it does on the border between two different cultures . . . In 1649 Queen Christina of Sweden signed the instrument of foundation, including an emblem, a savage, for the new town. The town received its Swedish name Villmanstrand ('wild man’s shore') from the savage figure in the emblem."
The Finnish people share a long history with our City of Lake Worth. Kerhotalo, the American Finnish Club, is located not far from the City.

Excerpts from Palm Beach Post editorial following defeat of LW2020 Bond vote in August 2014

Prior to the 2014 bond vote the editorial  board wrote these words and then afterwards wrote this. . .
     "The defeat is a hard blow for the city, where some residents live on unpaved streets and potholes inundate the roads just blocks from the city’s popular downtown strip. The proposal for a bond referendum was Lake Worth’s best chance to begin pulling itself out of a decades-long quagmire. Instead, a divided city has endorsed the status quo.
     The status quo, however, is unacceptable. In this city of 36,000, the second-poorest in Palm Beach County, residents have long suffered a city government that squandered money when it had it, and now lacks the financial wherewithal to make up for years of neglect."

[and. . .]

     "But absent borrowing money to undertake these much-needed projects, it’s hard to see how the city can make the investments needed to prosper. The roads will not fix themselves, and every year they get worse. State and federal grant money could offset some of the costs, but those dollars are more likely to come if the city already has a viable plan in place.
     Lake Worth’s tiny road-repair budget today amounts to a few hundred thousand dollars. This is barely enough to fill potholes when they emerge. It is certainly not enough to undertake serious infrastructure repairs. Done piecemeal, it will take the city decades to repair itself." 

There is an elected official who was crucial in defeating the 2014 bond and the same person leads the opposition to the bond vote this coming November: Commissioner Chris McVoy.

Question: Then why is McVoy getting a pass from the Post when other elected leaders like Commissioner Amoroso, who fought hard to pass the bond, get treated unfairly in recent press coverage? Just something to think about.

This just in. . . from the Royal Poinciana neighborhood:

The Mayor and the City have succeeded at our request for stop signs!

Here is the response from Jamie Brown:

"We are going to be converting B, C, D, and E to 3-way stops at 3rd Ave South and F to a 4-way. Awaiting quotes to complete the installation of the reflective strips."

To learn more about the Royal Poinciana neighborhood use this link:

Boundaries: The Royal Poinciana Neighborhood extends from Lucerne Avenue to 6th Avenue South and from the west side of Dixie Highway to I-95.
Meetings: Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month at Couco Pazzo restaurant, 915 Lake Avenue.
Membership: Membership is open to all residents and business owners in the Royal Poinciana neighborhood. Yearly dues are $10 per household and $25 per business.

Email from PBSO Cpt. Baer to Royal Poinciana Neighborhood Assoc.

Click on image to enlarge.

Parody of a TED Talk

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Latest news about bond referendum from the City, official language, and what you won't read in The Palm Beach Post

Use this link for the latest news from the City; an excerpt:

"Voters will be asked to either vote for, or against, authorizing the City of Lake Worth to issue a forty million dollar bond exclusively for the purpose of improving our neighborhood streets."

Here is the official language for the bond referendum on November 8th:

Bonds for Road Improvement Projects in Lake Worth

Shall the City be authorized to issue general obligation bonds for the exclusive purpose of improving local roadways and eliminating potholes in an amount not to exceed forty million dollars, payable from annual ad valorem taxes maturing no later than thirty years from the date of each issuance and bearing interest at a rate not exceeding the maximum legal rate with all expenditures reviewed by a citizens advisory committee?

For bonds________ Against bonds________ 

The local press (other than The Lake Worth Herald) will not report this very crucial fact:

Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell's challenge on July 7th was accepted by critic (Mrs. McGiveron of the CAUT PAC) of the City's bond and had twelve (12) days to complete it prior to the Commission meeting on July 19th. All they had to do was craft their own, alternate, ballot language for the City Commission to consider. They failed or maybe didn't even try.

However, just minutes after Maxwell's challenge citizen/reporter Peggy Fisher took this video of Commissioner Chris McVoy, PhD, and asked him two questions:
"Maybe we can get Commissioner McVoy's input about what he proposed?"
"I want his plan. I haven't heard his plan?"
Both questions remain unanswered. So much for leadership.

A short video: In and around East Lansing the last couple of days

A few pics from the Farmers Market:
Fresh from Michigan.

"Hmmm, is there a way to watch Lake Worth City Commission meetings Live Streaming?" Yes!

To watch the City Commission meeting tonight (August 2nd) Live Streaming is very easy. Use this link a few minutes after 6:00 and click on "Video/Audio of Public Meetings". If the meeting doesn't appear wait a few minutes and try again. Below are excerpts from the agenda with highlights:

City of Lake Worth
City Commission Meeting, City Hall Chambers
Tuesday, August 2nd at 6:00
1. Roll Call
2. Invocation or Moment of Silence
3. Pledge of Allegiance
4. Agenda: Additions/Deletions/Reordering
5. Presentations (there is no public comment on Presentation items)
A. Neighborhood Association Presidents Council update


[and if you've been following this kerfuffle. . .]

9. Consent Agenda (public comment allowed during Public Participation of Non-Agendaed items)
F. Ratify the appointment and reappointment of board members to the Recreation Advisory and Sister City board


It's a fairly short agenda. If you attend this Commission meeting, or if you watch online, pay close attention to commissioners Ryan Maier and Chris McVoy. Watch the tactics they use to delay items and/or monkeywrench the proceedings:
The antics by Maier and McVoy are eerily similar to a 1944 CIA handbook. "Talk at great length", "haggle over precise wordings", and one of their favorites: "raise the question".

Town of Palm Beach: Community Forum on the Zika Virus

For the entire press release use this link.
"The Town of Palm Beach, in collaboration with the Palm Beach Civic Association and the Citizens’ Association of Palm Beach, will host a Community Forum on the Zika Virus on Wednesday, August 3, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. in the Town Council Chambers, 360 S. County Road in Palm Beach."

Dark Skies? Listen to what happens at the "Cosmic Campground"

Click here for story.

Monday, August 1, 2016

"Visiting the BEST college football stadium. . .

. . . in the United States of America. I hear their team plays good ball and their specialty is winning. They never lose their games, all of them in which they fight. It's right on the banks of the Red Cedar River. There is a school known to all there and it's part of that whole operation."

East Lansing Valley Court Park

This park is on the western edge of downtown East Lansing, just north of the Michigan State University campus. They have a farmer's market there during the warmer months, community wifi in the parks, entertainment and new residential medium-rise development right next to it. It is also surrounded by quality residential housing. The city has a "way-finding" coordinated and attractive signage program so that you can find where you are in the downtown area.

R. E. Olds Car Show in downtown Lansing, July 30th

Very timely indeed. News from The Lake Worth Herald: National expert to speak at PBSC on ethics and the media

This news couldn't come at a better time for cities like Lake Worth that have crucial votes upcoming. The reporting by The Palm Beach Post and others like CBS12/WPEC leading up to the 2014 bond vote, which lost by just 25 votes, was legendarily bad. Would accurate, unbiased news reporting have resulted in a different outcome? That's hard to tell. But now that we're heading into another bond vote to fix our roads things do not look promising.

Below are excerpts from last week's (7/28) Lake Worth Herald on a visit by a member of the Poynter Institute to talk about "traditional journalism and its ethics" (links added; registration information at end):

     Palm Beach State College’s [PBSC] Center for Applied Ethics will host award-winning journalist Al Tompkins in an engaging, interactive session exploring the challenges journalists face today that are transforming the foundations of traditional journalism and its ethics. Titled, “Navigating the News in the New Normal,” the presentation will be held from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8 at the Public Safety Training Center Conference Room 108 on the College’s Lake Worth campus. The event is free and open to the public. [emphasis added]

[and. . .]

     “We live in a media saturated world and are consuming more than ever before,” said Kim Ardila-Morgan, director of PBSC’s Center for Applied Ethics. “Therefore, it’s important to not only recognize the kinds of content you’re reading, but to analyze its sources and evidence so as not to be misled. Al will not only help attendees learn how to look at a story differently, but discover the deeper, more critical questions that consumers should be asking.” 
     Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcast and online in St. Petersburg. He has 43 years of experience as a reporter, investigative reporter, producer, photojournalist and news director. He helped author the national codes of ethics for both the National Press Photographers Association and the Radio and Television Digital News Association.

[and. . .]

     During his two and a half decades as a journalist, Tompkins won a National Emmy Award, Peabody Award, the Japan Prize, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel for Court Reporting, seven National Headliner Awards, two Iris Awards and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. Tompkins is also the author of “Aim For The Heart: A Guide for TV Producers and Reporters,” which was adopted by more than 150 universities worldwide as their main broadcast writing textbook.

Registration information:
Call 561-868-3545
Email: ethicscenter@palmbeachstate.edu
Or register using this link

Sunday, July 31, 2016

At the R. E. Olds Car Show in Lansing, Michigan yesterday with my Dad and his 1983 Oldsmobile Toronado

Now a very rare car with "luxury and styling in a Convertible. . ."
Dad in his 1983 Toronado Convertible. Let's take a ride and listen to that engine:

Dad, Yours Truly, and Lansing Mayor Virgil "Virg" Bernero.
The R. E. Olds Car Show with Lansing City Hall in the background. Mayor Bernero handing out the awards:

Story in the little City of Lake Worth no one in the media wants to tell

This would be a really good assignment for an enterprising reporter at The Palm Beach Post, would it not?
How many potholes could be patched for $64,000/month?
Former Commissioners JoAnn Golden and Cara Jennings could be contacted as part of the story but doubt they would care to comment. There's also the story about the Greenwashing of the Lake Worth Casino (and a possible default declaration too). How many tax dollars were wasted on that white elephant?

(Here are directions: This capped gas line is located on Lake Osborne Drive. Driving south on Lake Osborne Drive it is on the east side of the road past Erie Street. If you see Griswold Drive you went too far. )

However, we still have that happy picture when everyone was so giddy and hysterically festive right after the Casino opened to the public with a short period of fanfare and proud quotes aplomb. If they only knew then what we know now. . .
The 'visionaries' in the only known group photo at the Casino. No one is laughing any more.

The Lake Worth Rotary meets every Wednesday in our Downtown (details below)

"Thank You Rotary for your 111 years of service to communities all over the world. Whatever heights of achievement we reach, it is only because we stand on the shoulders of giants like you. Congratulations to Lake Worth's own Lauren Bennett for also receiving the Fellowship award as a City of Lake Worth employee."
—Mary Lindsey at Rotary award event held at Callaro's on June 22nd.
Pictures from the Rotary event:
Nadine Burns is the new president of Lake Worth Rotary.
City's Marketing and Events Manager Lauren Bennett (center) received the Rotary's Fellowship Award.
To find out more about the Rotary they meet every Wednesday for lunch at Brogues in Downtown Lake Worth.