Sunday, April 30, 2017

Another reason why elections last March were indeed “seismic”? A theory about City of Lake Worth politics.

The change in City politics can be called “palpable” following the elections last March. Below is a theory about what happened vis-à-vis the shift in political power. New residents in this City will be surprised to learn this: Prior to the election of Omari Hardy on March 14th, District 2 was represented by a self-proclaimed Anarchist (Cara Jennings) from 2006–2010 and then Chris McVoy (who the Post editor finally got around to calling a “gadfly”) from 2010–2017.

Over those eleven years not much happened between Dixie Hwy. and I-95. Going forward many believe that will change. So. Without further ado. . .

If the theory proves right (explained below), there has been a major shift of power here in this little City of Lake Worth. You can call it, “the rise of the middle”. A local politico (to go unnamed) has bandied about this theory for many years and it does help to explain a lot of things. Our City has, or had, three major factions vying for political control. Two of them were dominant for many decades, forming an alliance; but that dominance is now over following the elections last March.

The elections changed everything and they were indeed “seismic”, including the passage of the referendum extending terms of the electeds from two to three years. But maybe seismic for other reasons too, other than just the obvious. Because two of those City factions, the theory goes, had a coalition that’s now in tatters and one of those factions is now in total, complete disarray.

Don’t misunderstand: this blog is still an “OFFICIAL ELECTION-FREE ZONE”. Meaning not until after the July 4th Raft Race will the elections in 2018 or any current or future candidates be discussed on this blog. However, that in no way suggests looking at past elections will not be addressed.

Prior to the elections last March the mantra from “the other side” was Messrs. Omari Hardy and Herman Robinson would just be two more “rubber stamps” for the majority: Mayor Pam Triolo, Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, and Commissioner Andy Amoroso.

However, commissioners Hardy and Robinson, if you’ve been paying attention, have wasted no time putting that ‘rubber stamp’ label to rest. Remember, these two are fresh off the campaign trail and they’ve heard all the complaints. Many of those complaints were about the majority on the City Commission, not just all about the former do-nothing commissioner in District 2 or the former lame duck commissioner in District 4.

“We’re working on it”, isn’t going to fly with Omari and Robinson. They both clearly want to see results. The Commission meeting on April 18th bears this out. For example, Robinson took on the issue of body cameras for PBSO and Hardy dove right into the topics of a City Facebook page (the tortuous reasoning to not begin one) and he took on the issue of panhandlers as well, what the City is and isn’t doing to fix the problem. Read more about that meeting using this link.

Do both Hardy and Robinson have reason to be so confident pushing forward their issues of importance and concern? According to the theory the answer is “Yes, absolutely”. The balance of power is now either 3-2 or 4-1 in their favor.

Here is the theory, briefly, and will delve into this in depth some time later on. The three factions are:
  • Lake Worth East (LWE): the boundaries are Federal Hwy. east to the Intracoastal, including the Casino and Beach.
  • Lake Worth West (LWW): West of I-95 in the City limits, including parts of Suburban Lake Worth, and other groups west of the City with political interests at stake.
  • Lake Worth Middle (LWM): Everything between Federal Hwy. and I-95 including the Downtown and Dixie Hwy. Corridors.
For at least 20–30 years, the theory goes, LWE and LWW both have held sway on the City Commission. Up until the elections last March both Districts 2 and 4 remained both solidly in the LWE/LWW faction. LWE still has a significant presence on the Commission, but less so after the elections. For LWW, however, it’s a totally different story — they’re in total disarray now — again, as evidenced at the last Commission meeting when they sent one of their core members “laying on the charm”, to the new City Commission. A change in demeanor that didn’t go unnoticed.

LWE has little use for LWW now. The future power arrangement will be one between LWE and LWM.

Very few people here in Lake Worth expected this all to end on March 14th. Chris McVoy, PhD, was the incumbent and would at least force a run-off with the newcomer, Omari Hardy. Herman Robinson’s race was seen as a toss-up. But Hardy and Robinson both won their elections outright and that shocked almost everyone. That night the word, “seismic” started being used around the City. Why? Because the election results rocked the status quo over the last few decades.

What’s to be determined now is if that new power of LWM translates into getting people out to vote. Because, except for select precincts in LWM, the vast majority of residents don’t bother to come out and vote (ergo the failed “LW2020” bond referendum in 2014). And that’s where commissioners Hardy and Robinson come into play: they both have to keep “the middle” excited, engaged, and the public needs to see real and tangible results.

There’s little time left for “We’re working on it”, coming from the City Commission, administration, and staff.

The job of LWW now, if you follow the theory through, is to do everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen, that both Hardy and Robinson don’t succeed and that every obstacle possible is thrown in their way.

If the theory above is valid — or until proven otherwise untrue — well, expect the political changes going forward to be indeed “truly seismic” for our little City of Lake Worth: The “rise of the middle”.