Thursday, December 28, 2006

Last PZHRPB Meeting...

Above is a picture of the Planning and Zoning, Historic Preservation Board, less Anne Hoctor and Lisa Maxwell. December 20th represented my last meeting as a member of the Board. We squeezed this picture in as we were walking out the door after the meeting. From the left are Vicent DeVito, Jamie Foreman, Phil Spinelli, Wes Blackman, John Paxman, Don Skowron and Ed LeBlanc. Thanks to everyone on the Board for the time you devote to the continued improvement of our City. I wish you all the best and hope that I will be working with you in a new way after the March election. In the meantime, I will do my best to attend your meetings and balance the demands of the campaign. The PZHRPB will be the focus of much important work over the next year in the completion of the Master Plan related documents - Comprehensive Plan changes and new Land Development Regulations - not to mention completion of the Beach and Casino Zoning District. Good luck to you all!

I want to wish you all the best for this holiday season.

We had an extremely full agenda that evening - review of the Evaluation and Appraisal Report, a rather complicated variance request from a property owner on Wingfield and some changes to the historic Gulfstream Hotel. John Paxman was elected Chairman (see picture above) with Phil Spinelli keeping the Vice-Chairman spot. John and I switched seats and I participated as a regular board member through the meeting. Before the meeting, we had a reception that was prepared in my honor - thanks everyone! - but it seemed just like a nice holiday gathering among friends.

Here are some of the pictures from the reception - Thanks to Mary Lindsey for retrieving her camera to catch a few memories.

And here is a scan (below) of the nice "Going away" card from the group. Thanks for all the kind sentiments. Remember, each ending is a new beginning...

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Monday, December 18, 2006


Hey folks. I am fired up about the real election process. This is going to be a first for me and I am doing it with all the joy that I can muster.

My last meeting on the Planning and Zoning Board will be this coming Wednesday - our meeting on December 20th. The election of Chairman will be the first item on our agenda - an unusually long agenda, by the way. Please visit the City's website under "Volunteer Boards" for more detail. See link on the right side of the page. I plan to conduct the election portion of the meeting and then I will take a seat as a regular voting member and let the new chair run the meeting.

Before the meeting there will be a reception in the conference room at 5 p.m. before in honor of my last meeting - it's been eight years on the board and five years as Chairman. You are welcome to come by and say "Hi" - I'd like to visit with you.

There is a new website in the works - it will go LIVE in about a week or so and you will be able to sign up to volunteer, find out what events are planned and contribute to the worthy cause via PayPal. Stay tuned - I will provide a link here too. I will maintain this as a blog and chronicle my appearances and other issues as they come forth. And, of course, you can post your own opinions under the comments section at the end of each post.

Enjoy the Holiday season and look forward to coming discussion of issues by all of the candidates after the beginning of the new year - the year of Lake Worth!

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Food for thought...

A good friend of mine sent this via e-mail and I am sharing this here. There are some ideas that apply to our situation in Lake Worth, and elsewhere - sort of our current human social milieu.

The piece below is excerpted from Rob Brezsny's book
How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings"


Let me remind you who you really are: You're an immortal freedom fighter
in service to divine love. You have temporarily taken on the form of a
human being, suffering amnesia about your true origins, in order to
liberate all sentient creatures from suffering and help them claim the
ecstatic awareness that is their birthright. You will accept nothing less
than the miracle of bringing heaven all the way down to earth.

Your task may look impossible. Ignorance and inertia, partially
camouflaged as time-honored morality, seem to surround you. Pessimism
is enshrined as a hallmark of worldliness. Compulsive skepticism
masquerades as perceptiveness. Mean-spirited irony is chic. Stories about
treachery and degradation provoke a visceral thrill in millions of people
who think of themselves as reasonable and smart. Beautiful truths are
suspect and ugly truths are readily believed.

To grapple against these odds, you have to be both a wrathful
insurrectionary and an exuberant lover of life. You've got to cultivate
cheerful buoyancy even as you resist the temptation to swallow
thousands of delusions that have been carefully crafted and seductively
packaged by very self-important people who act as if they know what
they're doing. You have to learn how to stay in a good mood as you
overthrow the sour, puckered hallucination that is mistakenly referred to
as reality.

What can we do to help each other in this work?

First, we can create safe houses to shelter everyone who's devoted to
the slow-motion awakening. These sanctuaries might take the form of
temporary autonomous zones like festivals and parties and workshops,
where we can ritually potentiate the evolving mysteries of pronoia. Or
they might be more enduring autonomous zones like homes and cafes and
businesses where we can get regular practice in freeing ourselves from
the slavery of hatred in all of its many guises.

What else can we do to help each other? We can conspire together to
carry out the agenda that futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard names: to
hospice what's dying and midwife what's being born. We need the trigger
of each other's rebel glee as we kill off every reflex within us that
resonates in harmony with the putrefaction. We need each other's
dauntless cunning as we goad and foment the blooming life forces within
us that thrive on the New World's incandescent questions.

Here's a third way we can collaborate: We can inspire each other to
perpetrate healing mischief, friendly shocks, compassionate tricks,
blasphemous reverence, holy pranks, and crazy wisdom.

What? Huh? What do tricks and mischief and jokes have to do with our
quest? Isn't America in a permanent state of war? Isn't it the most
militarized empire in the history of the world? Hasn't the government's
paranoia about terrorism decimated our civil liberties? Isn't it our duty to
grow more serious and weighty than ever before?

I say it's the perfect moment to take everything less seriously and less
personally and less literally.

Permanent war and the loss of civil liberties are immediate dangers. But
there is an even bigger long-term threat to the fate of the earth, of which
the others are but symptoms: the genocide of the imagination.

Earlier I cited pop nihilist storytellers as vanguard perpetrators of the
genocide of the imagination. But there are other culprits as well: the
fundamentalists. I'm not referring to just the usual suspects—the religious
fanatics of Islam and Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism.

Scientists can be fundamentalists. So can liberals and capitalists, atheists
and hedonists, patriots and anarchists, hippies and goths, you and me.
Those who champion the ideology of materialism can be the most
fanatical fundamentalists of all. And the journalists, filmmakers, novelists,
critics, poets, and other artists who relentlessly generate rotten visions of
the human condition are often pop nihilist fundamentalists.

Every fundamentalist divides the world into two camps, those who agree
with him and like him and help him, and those who don't. There is only
one right way to interpret the world—according to the ideas the
fundamentalist believes to be true—and a million wrong ways.

The fundamental attitude of all fundamentalists is to take everything way
too seriously and way too personally and way too literally. The
untrammeled imagination is taboo. Correct belief is the only virtue. Every
fundamentalist is committed to waging war against the imagination unless
the imagination is enslaved to his or her belief system.

And here's the bad news: Like almost everyone in the world, each of us
has our own share of the fundamentalist virus. It may not be as virulent
and dangerous to the collective welfare as, say, the fundamentalism of
Islamic terrorists or right-wing Christian politicians or CEOs who act as if
making a financial profit is the supreme good or scientists who deny the
existence of the large part of reality that's imperceptible to the five

But still: We are infected, you and I, with fundamentalism. What are we
going to do about it?

I say we practice taking everything less seriously and less personally and
less literally. I suggest we administer plentiful doses of healing mischief,
friendly shocks, compassionate tricks, blasphemous reverence, holy
pranks, and crazy wisdom.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

In anticipation of Post Article on EAR and Impact to Land Use Plan Change re Beach and Casino District

The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has said to all communities in the State of Florida that they need to have approved Evaluation and Appraisal Reports (EARs - due every 7 years and EARs evaluate how a community meets the goals, objectives and policies in their current Comprehensive Plan) before they review any Future Land Use changes or text amendments. This is a result of recently changed procedures at the State level. We have close to a finished version of the EAR from the Master Plan consultants in our possession now. If you are interested in getting a copy, you can call the Planning Department and they can prepare one for you. I am also working on getting an electronic copy for distribution. The Planning and Zoning Board will be reviewing this document as part of its regular meeting on December 20th (not January 10th - January 10th is the date set for further Planning and Zoning Board special meeting to review of the beach rezoning and creation of the new Beach and Casino zoning district regulations).

The Planning and Zoning Board will review and may make a recommendation to the City Commission, along with whatever suggested changes/edits to the EAR at the meeting on December 20th. The consultants will make any recommended changes between that meeting and the City Commission meeting on January 16th. They can then approve the EAR by resolution. They may also re-affirm their previous action on the two land use plan change requests (beach and Amanzi properties) and then transmit those to DCA. There is no material change to the request, the land use plan change requests just have to be found consistent with the EAR. There is nothing in the EAR which is not consistent with the two land use plan changes (beach and Amanzi properties) and vice versa.

This actually represents a concession on the part of DCA as they usually put off review of an amendment request until it is ultimately adopted - pushing it out to the mid part of next year. They are willing to review the land use plan change requests with submittal (not upon approval) of the EAR..

The EAR eventually will lead to the future adoption of or new Comprehensive Plan that will have the results of the visioning and other community meetings that has been part of the Master Plan process over the past two years.

It's important to realize that even if the EAR had not been raised as an issue by DCA, the second reading on the land use plan change by the City Commission would have been after the March 13th election. By the way, once the Planning and Zoning Board makes a recommendation to the City Commission on the rezoning - subject of its January 10th meeting - the first reading of the rezoning could actually happen before the March 13th election. The second reading of the re-zoning would happen later, at the same time as the second reading of the land use plan change.

Now, about what happens when DCA receives a Comp Plan or Future Land Use plan change. It reviews the change request and issues what is called an "Objections, Recommendations and Comments - ORC" report. Since the land use plan change for the beach represents the inclusion of commercial uses, a traffic study should accompany the request as part of the back-up material.

When the land use plan change is sent up after the Commission's meeting on January 16th, we have an opportunity to send a completed traffic study which shows the effects of the land use plan change with it. Greater Bay or the City needs to contract with a Traffic Engineer now in order for this to be included in the eventual re-submittal. We need to encourage this and emphasize the importance of this to the overall timeline. If the EAR had not been an issue, the lack of a traffic study may have caused a delay in the timeframe to respond to the ORC report issued by DCA - again pushing it farther out in time from the March 13th election. This is an opportunity to address the traffic study now and save time on the critical path.

I have tried to be as detailed and as accurate as possible regarding this complicated and intricate process. If you have any questions, please call me and I can clarify the above. To review, the critical dates are as follows:

December 20th - Planning and Zoning Board meeting to review EAR

January 10th - Planning and Zoning Board meeting to review new draft of the Beach and Casino zoning district

January 16th - City Commission meeting - adoption of EAR by resolution and first reading of beach and Amanzi land use plan changes - transmittal to DCA with traffic study as contracted by Greater Bay or City.

March 13th - Municipal Election

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Catch the essence of my 8 year tenure on the Planning and Zoning Board...

...on the archived "Live Show" hosted by Jim Stafford on Lake Worth Click here to go directly to the feed. I reviewed the major highlights in anticipation of my last meeting on December 20th. Thanks Jim - you are a fine host.

Oh, come by before that meeting - around 5:30 or so - and I understand there will be a reception in the Conference Room in honor of it being my final meeting. Stick around for the meeting too - we have an unusally long agenda and will be dealing with some important issues - including the Evaluation Appraisal Report for our Comprehensive Plan. We will also be deciding the new Planning and Zoning Board chairman - film at 11. Check the City's website for the agenda at the end of the week.

Thank you City of Lake Worth for the opportunity to serve!

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Thanks to Colleen and John Rinaldi...

...for hosting my first "meet and greet" today at the Sabal Palm House Bed and Breakfast. What a nice assemblage of people concerned with the future of our City of Lake Worth! We settled into about a 2 hour discussion about the issues facing our City. There are no shortage of issues and I hope those in attendance got a feel for how I would address them as Commissioner. I think we all came away with the conclusion that there is no lack of work to do. You provided some great direction. Thank you for the opportunity and it is through this dialogue that we become the future Lake Worth that we all want to see. I brought my camera, but it stayed in its case - this time. I'll have to come back again and we'll capture some memories.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Friday, December 8, 2006

Need for Broader Geographic Representation on Advisory Boards

I can't help but think that if the composition of the Planning and Zoning Board - currently or at the time we reviewed and made a recommendation to the City Commission regarding the Sunset Drive property - included representation from residents living west of Dixie Hwy., the City would not be experiencing the discord as it relates to that issue to the extent that it is. Ever since I have been a member of the Planning and Zoning, Historic Resources Preservation - we have not had representation from the western part of the City. The predominate representation has been from the College Park, South Palm Park and Downtown areas of the City.

With broader geographic representation, I think a greater understanding of how issues affect the entire City would take root. The 5-2 recommendation of approval for that particular project by the Planning and Zoning Board might well have been different given a more geographic representative mix on the Board. I would think that the end result would be the same, however there would be a such greater understanding.

I didn't want this to get lost in the post regarding the ballot measure. One of my priorities as a City Commissioner would be to appoint representives on our advisory boards from all areas of the City - and that ultimately there would be balanced representation. Neighborhood associations would be a good place to look for qualified and concerned residents that are willing to serve.

The following was received in an e-mail from Jack Simons in response to the above:

Wes,Who would argue with geographic representation on
P&Z and Historical, except of course if it was accomplished only at the expense of not selecting the best qualified.I
have observed you for 3 years in your capacity on P&Z. While I do not think you vote politically, I am concerned that the supposedly objective function of P&Z may appear to be compromised with the implication that geographical
representation will lead to fewer objections from the public.It is hoped that you establish Neighborhood Associations in all areas of LW and that they have
recorded remarks submitted to P&Z at part of Staff presentation like Staff Comments on Site Plan Approval.Wishing you good health and happiness for the
Holidays and New Year,Jack

Thanks for your response Jack. I guess what I am saying is that since we have had a long-standing imbalance in representation on the board that when we make appointments to advisory boards, we make an attempt to appoint qualified people from a variety of locations throughout the City. We need to be aware of any geographic imblance that we may be creating. It may be possible to arrange applicants for boards to be sponsored by each commissioner - who would identify qualified persons from their district - and then go through the vetting and interview process as the Commission does now.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

"Super Majority" Ballot Issue

The above is text from the petition that has been circulated through the City of Lake Worth. You might have seen the article by Nicole Janok in the Palm Beach Post yesterday which reported on the filing of the signatures with the Supervisor of Elections. They have now been delivered to the City Clerk and will likely be on the ballot in the March municipal elections. I happened to be quoted in the article and referred to the "Super Majority" as a misnomer and that it should be called a "Super Minority" measure since it tilts the table in favor of the minority faction of the Commission - currently our 2 of 5 votes on the City Commission for most major decisions.

What didn't make it in the paper was my expression of how this goes against one of this nation's foundations of democratic governance - that of majority rule. It is really a bedrock of our democracy in the United States. Given that, I would be surprised that people would approve such a measure. However, scaring people into signing and voting for a petition has become a pastime for a group here in Lake Worth. For example, the following is an excerpt from their second page of the petition document:

Now, we can all agree with the first sentence of the above. If you look at the zoning map and future land use for the City of Lake Worth, you will realize that nearly half (acutally 43%) of the City is single or two family residential. Most of that area east of Dixie Hwy. is also further protected by historic districts. The second sentence is misleading - it states the Lake Worth City Commissioners regularly overturn zoning laws that protect our neighborhoods by only 3 votes. In reccent history, there have been two former single family lots (on my street, by the way) that were rezoned to multi-family to allow the Courtyards project to proceed. The other rezoning was part of an annexation of a 4 acre parcel from unincorporated Palm Beach County into the southwest portion of the City. (Without going in to great detail here about that annexation, future land use plan change and rezoning, you can do a search on this site for "Sunset" and that will take you to a complete summary).

Let's assume that the total amount of residential land that was "up-zoned" (a term which is also misleading) was 6 acres in the recent history of Lake Worth. That represents less than .36% (that's a third of one percent) of the total amount of single and two family residential land within the City. This hardly qualifies as something that is done "regularly" by the City Commission. The residential re-development in the form of multi-family projects along Federal Highway conformed with the long standing zoning designations and densities in place on the property. The Hammond Park project currently under construction just north of the downtown area along Dixie Hwy. actually was part of future land use plan change from commercial to residential, along with a corresponding zoning change - same for the Courtyards project at the north end of Dixie Hwy.

Let's touch on the term "up-zoning" which is widely used by the people behind the petition. There are many aspects to any zoning district - there are dimensional requirements and limitations, a list of permitted uses and uses that are permitted by special exceptions (meeting higher standards) and other provisions. In the process of adjusting these regulations over time (which the City is about to undertake next year in the form of a "re-do" of the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Code) there is not a clear interpretation if more than one change is made if that is up-zoning (meaning allowing more building, etc.) or down-zoning (tightening the requirements in the zoning district).

If you read the petition language above, you will see that it refers to any change - not just up-zoning as many of the proponents assert. As part of the finalization of the Master Plan process this coming year, there will be areas that we are tightening the regulations, especially in the residentially zoned areas around the downtown - further protecting the historic character of that area in line with the Zoning-in-progress that is already in place. The same provision in the ballot measure would apply to that area and the adoption of our new Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code.

Now let's talk about practicalities and implications here. Hypothetically, let's say there is a proposal that makes it to the City Commission for exactly what the proponents of the petition want to prevent - rezoning from a single family district to a multi-family district. Under the current code (according to majority rule, an excepted standard in our democratic process), the rezoning would require at least a majority to pass - a vote of 3-2. Let's say that A,B,C vote for approval of the rezoning and D, E vote against. Now, under a super majority rule, D and E individually have the power to overturn the desire of the majority. If either vote for or against, they determine the outcome of the proposal. That places a lot of power in the hands of one person who could be unduly influenced by anyone interested in the result. Do we want to institutionalize this in our City Code? Remember, this would apply to any change in the Comprehensive Plan, zoning or land use designation. Coincidently, this will be a big work item at the Planning and Zoning Board and City Commission for the next two years.

Our election cycle in Lake Worth is already a short two years. If some action by a Commissioner so infuriates you, you can and should remember that come the next election cycle. You would either vote against that Commissioner/Mayor by voting for their opponent or you would run against that person yourself. That is the essence of our representative democratically elected government. We also have to realize that of the 15,000 some registered voters in the City, only about 5,000 or so come out for a large turn out municipal election. Thus, the fate of our future rests with a minority of registered voters and an even smaller minority of the 40,000+- residents of the City of Lake Worth. Do we need to allow for a further distortion of majority rule by adopting a super-majority stand as it relates to land use decisions - effectively creating a super-minority? I think not.

I know that this is quite a lengthy explanation of my view of the process and the implications. Do you think that each one of the persons who signed the petition was given as full an explanation and that each one understood the implications? Do you think that they were given the examples that I gave about the limited amount of "up-zoning" that has taken place in the City of Lake Worth? If so, then the item deserves to be placed on the ballot. I personally doubt that each person who signed the petition had a thorough understanding of the measure.

But, be that as it may, the measure will be appearing on the ballot for our next municipal election on March 13th. Please choose wisely when you vote "yes" or "no" on the measure.

Personally, I choose to vote against the measure.

I would like to hear what you think by commenting here. Thanks and let's be true to our representative democratic traditions - including the free exchange of ideas and information and the right to agree or disagree with one another.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Another busy week...

Time to catch up on a couple of things. With this dreary, cool and wet weather today, it's a good time to cocoon myself in the house, dogs by my side, and put together some entries together for posting here. We had the City Commission meeting this week, our Planning and Zoning Board meeting, the Stakeholders Advisory Committee meeting, announcement that the "Super Majority" petition garnered enough signatures to earn a place on the March 13th ballot and more. So, there is a lot to discuss.

Also this week, I was an impromptu guest on the Lunch Box hosted by Jim Stafford at along with John Rinaldi of the Sabal Palm House. If you'd like to check out our discussion, you can click here and it will take you to the archived show area of the site. I'll be appearing on Live Show with Jim on Sunday night at 7 p.m. discussing my eight year stint on the Lake Worth Planning, Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board. Be sure to dial your browser there and have a listen.

Tomorrow, I plan on being a spectator for the Holiday Parade and hope to bump into some of you. If you see me there, stop and say "Hi" - it would be nice to chat.

Also, for your information, I have added a link to the Supervisor of Elections website where you can register to vote if you have recently moved or for whatever reason are not currently registered. Just click on the link on the right side of the page (under the picture of the tower on the corner of the current City Hall) and fill in the required information. The deadline for registration for our March 13 municipal election is February 12.

Thanks for checking out my blog and stand by for more entries.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Great People, Nice Day

This was a real nice day. I fired up my printer and prepared all sorts of paraphernalia for my campaign - table tents, name tags and business cards. This was in preparation for my first organized fundraiser. The Blogger-sphere seems to be having an issue with the posting of pictures and I have some real nice ones of the event - so those will be coming shortly. But, let's start with the first stop of the day.

My good friend Nancy Jarrell (who I hope to have as my volunteer coordinator - Coach Nancy - I need to get her a whistle to hang around her neck!) joined my and we have some pictures from that too. And, lucky day, we have pictures now! Timing is everything. That's Nancy and me in front of the tree at Tea's Etc. - 1800 Block of North Dixie Hwy. - right next to John Paxman's office. They have been there for a year, but decided to hold an open house in advance of the holiday season. Stop in and check them out - they are direct importers of loose teas from around the world. A nice addition to the Lake Worth retail community. And, who did I bump into - none other than my friends Charles and Ray (also known as "Ray/Charles" in Karaoke circles). I haven't seen them in a while and believe me - they were a real scream (literally) at Karaoke! I hope they come back and share their unique style with us at a Thursday night session.

So, after sipping some tea and having some nice nibbles, I dropped Nancy off and went on to Mark Geier and Bill Martin's for my first fundraiser. I should say "fun" raiser! I met some wonderful people, mostly neighbors of Mark/Bill and it was a great chance to get to meet some of their neighbors and their concerns/issues about being a homeowner in Lake Worth. This was really my first stop on the campaign trail. Thanks also to Jim Lewis who helped with the food and organizing the event.

North O is one of my favorite streets in Lake Worth. The house where we gathered was built in 1948 and the homeowners are lucky to have pictures of the house under construction and with it as a newly finished. I remember seeing the property with a friend who was looking for a house at the time right before the new owners purchased it about 8 years ago. Mark and Bill have really transformed it. The pool is a great addition.

Here are some pictures from the event:

And what would a political event be without a candidate and baby picture! That's little Eva looking cute.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Saturday, December 2, 2006

More Good News and a Funny Story...

Yesterday was an interesting day. I happened to be part of a meeting that including State Representative Mary Brandenburg and we were talking about legislative priorities and the effect of current conditions on the residential housing market. Others that were part of the meeting talked about ways to make the property insurance burden less and other affordability factors affecting the housing market. What the market is anticipating is the eventual portability of the Save Our Homes initiative (limiting the increase of taxable value to 3% annually for homesteaded property) and that is keeping people in their current place of residence. Instead of moving up in their housing to accommodate a growing family, etc, they are choosing to stay put and improve their own homes. That is good news for our existing housing stock and it also underlines the importance of having a responsive Building Department (one that does not lay blame at the foot of the homeowner).

But that's not the real good news. The good news is that one of the people that was in attendance was Mr. Robert J. Kanjian, a member of the Palm Beach County School Board. We were chatting about various things and he did not know of my association with Lake Worth. And he volunteered that he likes what is happening in downtown Lake Worth and that he really likes taking his family to Lake Avenue. He recommends coming here over Delray and West Palm Beach. He then commented that on Thursday night on Clematis Street the police had to use mace.on a group of teenagers. And he went on to say that despite our very public political in-fighting, we are out-pacing our surrounding communities. It was then that I told him about my association with Lake Worth. A nice guy and I couldn't agree more with him. We all know, however, that we still have work to do.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Text of My Announcement Speech

This is a re-post of my announcement speech made on September 5, 2006. I am re-publishing it here so that you can get a general sense of where I stand on the issues, without having to circum-navigate the blog. I encourage you to review my previous posts here ( you can do so by topic and by date/title in the right hand, lower part of the page) and there will be some new ones, to be sure. My active campaigning time will begin upon my resignation from the Planning, Zoning, Historic Resource Preservation Board - my last meeting will be on December 20th.

If you have questions about where I stand on the issues, I encourage you to contact me via e-mail at or at 540 5341. If you happen to see me around town, stop by and say "Hi!" and we can chat about the issues that are important to you. I'll also be making my way through the neighborhoods later this month.

Looking forward to the campaign season! Here is the original post:

· Welcome
o Thank you for coming out this afternoon – on an Election Day. I am Wes Blackman and I want to be your District 3 Commissioner. I ask you for your support.
o The number of candidates that have already announced for Mayor prompts me to make this announcement – to end the speculation of what Wes is going to do and to move on with the important work that needs to be accomplished in our City.
o This announcement today is not about Wes Blackman running for office. It’s about us. It‘s about the City of Lake Worth. It’s about teamwork. It’s about rolling up our sleeves. It’s about agreeing to disagree. It’s about getting over it. It’s about identifying and channeling the positive energies of our citizens. It’s about how we will address the urgent issues facing our City and how best to meet the needs of its residents. It’s all about making progress and accepting the changes that progress represents. It’s about making Lake Worth a better place to live.
· Why am I running?
o Ladies and Gentleman, the City of Lake Worth is in critical condition.
o I could stay in my position on the Planning Board for two more years and then decide what my plans would be, but I truly believe that our City is best served by me running for elected office at this pivotal point in time.
o We need no less than a revolution in the administrative culture of our City so that the citizen comes first. We need to adjust the management structure of our City so that procedures are followed, ordinances are enforced and expectations are met.
o Political discussions in the City of Lake Worth are not an open invitation for mayhem in place of an educated and concerned discourse about the course of our City. I will bring order and focus to the dais so that there will be opportunity for everyone to be heard. I will encourage public participation in many ways.
o We need people with the ability to think strategically – to better know what is just around the corner and to anticipate it – rather than reacting to a situation or being forced into an 11th hour decision.
o We need dedicated, experienced people from every corner of the City to be involved in making Lake Worth the best place to live in Florida – a lofty but an achievable goal.
· What are the major issues facing the City and what can be done to address them?
o The City Commission, advisory boards and the City Administration all need to be more responsive to the citizenry – we will open closed lines of communication and find new ways to get the word out and to solicit public input. Televising, Internet streaming of all City Commission and Advisory Board meetings are essential to this effort.
o We need accountability at each and every level of City Government. We must have annual reviews of all employees and institute progressive discipline procedures.
o The Electric Utility – We need to keep improving the distribution system and still look for ways to lower the cost of electricity, including getting out of or amending our FMPA contract
o Beach – We need to keep pushing for the renovation of the City’s second most valuable asset. We need to make sure all the agreements with Greater Bay are watertight and protect the City’s interests.
o Oh, what is our City’s most valuable asset? It’s people. W
e will find ways to address the needs our immigrant population in a humane way through the establishment of an advisory board charged with that function.
o We need to make sure our employees are paid salaries and wages commensurate with similar positions throughout our labor market by implementing the results of the MGT study over time.
o We will abide by state laws regarding the competitive bidding of contracts and examine all existing contracts with any large provider of goods and services to the City of Lake Worth. Our citizens deserve no less.
o Our development review process needs to be clear, fair to all parties and, most importantly, understandable.
o Basic functions of municipal government – police, fire, code enforcement, planning and utility delivery must be equal to the demands placed upon them – they must be funded and staffed appropriately.
o I will make sure that the City’s facility needs study is completed and that we explore converting the existing City Hall into a public auditorium that will be utilized for Commission meetings, as well as establishing a venue for the performing arts, adding another cultural destination to our downtown. We will also examine the opportunities for the construction of a brand new City Hall.
· What are my qualifications?
o I have lived in Lake Worth for the past 14 years and in three distinct places – the southwest, the downtown and now College Park.
o Having been a member of the Planning, Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board for eight years and its Chairman for the past five, I know how to make the tough decisions, I know the importance of public input and I know the failings of our Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code.
o My 23 year career in Urban Planning will give the City expertise where and when it is needed most – on the City Commission when the changes to the Comprehensive Plan and the City’s Land Development Regulations are being considered.

I am used to challenges. In many ways, today reminds me of the time back on May 13, 1993 when I spoke in favor of Mar-a-Lago becoming a private, non-discriminatory, private club in Palm Beach. I was speaking in favor of saving a National Historic Landmark from being subdivided in the face of vocal, powerful and capable opposition. Against what seemed like insurmountable odds at the time, we were able to convert Mar-a-Lago into an adaptive reuse that was kind and true to the property’s historic character.
o Our City needs someone with a strong background in historic preservation on its ultimate decision making body – the City Commission.
o I have a construction management background and will use that experience in making sure that the construction of our new beach facilities are done correctly and to our specifications.
o I know when to lead and when to follow. As moderator of the beach negotiations, it was a place to use my skills in running an efficient meeting and making sure that issues were addressed. We finished those initial negotiations early, giving additional time for public input.
§ My decision to run for the District #3 Commissioner seat shows that I am able to respond to public expressions of support for my campaign.
· How can you help?
o You can contact 540-5341 for information on how you can contribute your time, money or energy to the Wes Blackman Campaign for Commissioner District #3.
o Thank you again for your show of support and let’s work together to move our City forward.
o And if you haven’t voted yet today, there is still time!

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Campaign Graphic...

About to go to press, what do you think?

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Friday, November 24, 2006

Gateway Zoning District - 11/21 City Commission Meeting

Well, it's Friday. I just had my favorite at Rotelli's tonight - spaghetti and meatballs - and now I'm seated in my courtyard with the tiki torches burning. A real nice tropical night. There's some jasmine in the air too. Anyway, time to catch up on the some of the week's happenings.

You might want to grab a refreshing beverage, as this entry may be a long one.

It was a rather light City Commission agenda last Tuesday. The "meaty" item was the Gateway Zoning District 1st reading regarding a change in maximum density from 20 (with a possible City Commission bonus of 10 additional units an acre for public benefit) to 30, with the same bonus provision - bringing the total allowable up to 40. The Commission ended up turning it down on a vote of 3-2, with Lowe, Jennings and Drautz in the majority.

Now, how did we end up passing this way again? It was only early this year when the Gateway zoning district was established along 6th Avenue South and 10th Avenue North.

Let's go back to the whole Gateway initiative that has had a life span of at least 3+ years. This really represented a joint effort between the Planning and Zoning Board and the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). We worked together to improve the appearance and the long term economic viability of the area along both of our major east/west roads leading from I-95. The CRA portion was primarily the physical improvement of the right-of-way and we see the result of the first phase of that coming to a completion now in the form of our 6th Avenue South improvements.

The Planning Board's task was to create a regulatory framework in terms of a new zoning district that would buffer the interior neighborhoods along these major thoroughfares, encourage the assemblage of smaller lots into larger parcels, provide incentives for the redevelopment of the corridor with increase density (the former zoning as capped at 7 units to an acre, but the district allowed a mix of uses which included professional office) and provide design standards and limitations. These limitations really represented a "form based" zoning district - unique in the City and growing in popularity nationwide - that allowed for some predictability in the types of structures allowed in the district.

If you really want to get into the "nuts and bolts" of the district, you can go to, look up the Lake Worth Code of Ordinances. Under Zoning, Chapter 23, you will find the regulations for the Gateway zoning district.

One of the major features of the zoning district is that it allows for greater height along the 6th and 10th Avenue frontages, along with the possibility of commercial uses on the first floor. The allowable height and the variety of uses is increasingly restricted as one goes further north and south in the blocks that line both avenues, creating a transition to the surrounding residential neighborhood. Height along the avenues is a minimum of two stories, with a maximum of three. A total of five stories are possible, if granted by the City Commission for the provision of certain public benefit items.

At the time that the Planning Board made its original recommendation (about a year ago), we had a protracted discussion regarding what the maximum allowable density along these corridors. I must say too that the creation of the Gateway zoning district was a subject of many of our meetings and the CRA as well - over at least a three year period. Likewise, much effort was made to educate the public in other forums regarding the creation of this new zoning district and the public improvements to be undertaken by the CRA.

Back to our story: After much discussion, the Planning Board was really torn between allowing 20 or 30 units to an acre, with the bonus of 10 units an acre possible. As I remember, we erred on the side of 30 units to an acre in order to provide the greatest incentive for redevelopment and realizing that there were other significant controls on development that would limit the intensity of development.

When the ordinance reached the City Commission, the Commission elected to reduce our recommended to a max of 20, with the possibility of an additional 10. This was done at the urging of the CRA chairman - who later indicated he misspoke. The motion passed and the Gateway zoning district became part of the zoning code.

When I heard the news, I thought to myself, "Well, at least it is in place. We'll see if it works and apparently others had similar concerns regarding the density at 30 units to an acre." Again, our recommendation had much to do with providing the most incentive for redevelopment of the corridor. The long and short of it was, I was o.k. with it at 20 units to an acre and so was the rest of the Planning and Zoning Board.

Then, along comes the CRA meeting of May 23 where they asked that a letter be sent to the Planning and Zoning Board regarding the need to increase the allowable density to 30 units to an acre in the Gateway district and address the allowable commercial uses so it included a broader selection. All in the purpose of creating incentives for the redevelopment of the corridor.

The item eventually land back on our Planning and Zoning agenda where we re-affirmed our original recommendation, after compelling testimony from the chair of the CRA and other members of their board. I know that I respect the recommendations of the CRA, as do other Planning and Zoning Board members. This really helped to re-confirm our original thinking regarding the density.

In between, there was a joint workshop meeting between the Planning and Zoning Board, the CRA and the City Commission on the issue - with Commissioner Jennings asking most of the questions.

So, it ended up at last Tuesday's City Commission meeting. There were more questions from Commissioner Jennings and things got a little "testy" between the Commissioners, as explained in today's Lake Worth Herald. I spoke briefly during public comment and recited the general history of the discussion and the establishment of the district. The Chairman of the CRA was not in attendance. And after public comment, the vote ended up what I reported before - a 3-2 denial of the change.

I am essentially left with the same feeling as before. We have gone through an elaborate public process which established a new redevelopment zoning district along our major east/west corridors. Everyone involved also made the decision that this could go ahead independent of the master plan process as it preceded it and was worthy of enacting prior to its completion. I am also o.k. with the density where it is and has been, although there would be more incentive for redevelopment with a higher allowable density. We also have to keep in mind that eventually there will be a passenger transit option for the FEC (eastern) railroad tracks and that will rely on additional density along the corridor to be viable.

It is something that we will have to monitor and will end up addressing if needed in the future. That is what a community in tune with the needs of the public does: keep the zoning code as a living and breathing document that can change over time and reflect the desires of the community in the process. And, what we are left with is the result of a very open public process - this is not where one really jumps for joy over the actual result, we should just all be satisfied that the public process has produced a worthy result.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving...

I'd like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I plan to enjoy the feast with a group close friends later this afternoon. Here is an assortment of Thanksgiving prayers and sayings that help convey the meaning of this special day:

For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food,

For love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends. - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Do not get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. - Galatians 6:9

We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. - ritual chant

Once, when my feet were bare, and I had not the means of obtaining shoes I came to the chief of Kufah in a state of much dejection, and saw there a man who had no feet. I returned thanks to God and acknowledged his mercies, and endured my want of shoes with patience - Sadi, The Gulistan

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence. --William Jennings Bryan

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. --WT Purkiser

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Check Out the Campaign and Public Meeting Calendar

After some experimentation, I was able to include a calendar as part of this blog. It rests right at the bottom of the page. You can reach it by scrolling down, using the navigation bar at the side of the window. The calendar will let you know where I am and what I am generally doing. I plan to put fundraiser information, what neighborhoods I am walking and when, etc. I've also included the public meetings that I plan on attending. My time on the Planning and Zoning Board is growing shorter by the day. If you want to see me in action, you really should check out our meetings in December. As I am running for office, I will need to resign from the Board before the qualifying period.

As always, let me know if you would like me to speak at your neighborhood association or civic group. You can get a sense of my general availability by referring to the calendar.

Oh, and this afternoon I worked with Jim Stafford on the preparation of my campaign graphics for literature and yard signs.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to go "live"!

Thanks a bunch and see you in the movies!!

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dwight D. Eisenhower

A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

I can think of nothing more boring for the American people than to have to sit in their living rooms for a whole half hour looking at my face on their television screens.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

May we, in our dealings with all the peoples of the earth, ever speak the truth and serve justice.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizens cannot cure.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

When you appeal to force, there's one thing you must never do - lose.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

When you are in any contest you should work as if there were - to the very last minute - a chance to lose it.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1953

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech to the Republican National Committee, January 31, 1958

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Where's the 2005 Audit?

50 plus days late and counting. If there's bad news, it's not going to go away. Any longer and it will just make the whole matter worse. The line from the staff is that it's the auditor's fault it's late. This sounds less and less plausible with each passing day. The latest word is that it will be coming out today.

The City has already had to make up payments to the pension fund. Any longer and we move closer to losing state funds.

We are again left with the perception being fostered that the City has something to hide. This is no way to build trust in City government. Good or bad, let's see it so that we can deal with it.
Please, no more of ths:

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Victory Fund Training Session - Houston, Texas

I had some time in the Houston airport before getting on the plane back to West Palm Beach, so thought it would be good to give a quick review of the conference and the training session that I have experienced for the past 4 days.

Let me begin by saying - WOW! There were about 20 people in our class that either have an interest in running for public office or managing a campaign. All those attending the class were openly gay, bi-sexual, lesbian or trans gender (GLBT). The Victory Fund puts on these training exercises in various locations throughout the country. This one happened to coincide with the 2006 International Gay and Lesbian Leadership Conference. More on that later. The Victory fund also offers financial support for openly GLBT candidates - but only after completing a rigorous vetting process. They don't require any adherence to a program, other than candidates must be pro-choice if that is relevant to the position they are running for. More information can be found at the
Victory Fund website.

My class had about twenty attendees from all over the country. I also bumped into a guy in class who is looking to run for an at-large seat in Houston (the fourth largest City in the nation). He and his partner have lived there for many years. Other people in the class included the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board for the City of Palm Springs, California, who happened to work on the Jimmy Carter Campaign in 1976 and worked in the West Wing of the White house after. Fascinating stories he had and we shared a lot in common with our similar positions in local government. We also had a gentleman who worked for the successful
Patricia Todd campaign for a House of Representative seat in the Alabama State Legislature (!!). There was also someone who is about to run for a seat on the Miami Beach City Council, among others.

Here are some pictures from the event and training session. Look below the pictures for a description:

Here are some of the people that were on my team. We were in class during the day and then had homework assignments at night that involved the preparation of a campaign plan for a fictional candidate. Our candidate happened to be an African-American, socially and fiscally conservative Republican that was running against a liberal lesbian candidate for a state Senate seat. The homework assignments got progressively more involved and complicated in preparation for our final presentation before our expert teaching staff - that took place this morning. Here to the right is an image of the direct mail that we prepared for our candidate. We finished up around 3 a.m., after preparation of direct mail pieces and a complete Powerpoint presentation outlining all aspects of our campaign. In the photo above, you see Rick Hutcheson, seated against the wall - he is the gentleman from Palm Springs. Next to him is Joseph Hernandez who will be running for a district seat on the Dallas City Council. And closest to the camera is Lynn Schulman from Queens, NY who also plans a run for a local government seat.

Above is the winning team after our presentations this morning. You might recognize a familiar Lake Worth/West Palm Beach face there - Scott Fox in the front row on the right. Their team really put on a great presentation, as did all the groups - but the idea was to please the judges and that is just what they did.

Here's another face you might recognize - Howard Dean. After the training session was over, we stayed around for parts of the conference program. Yesterday, we heard from the only openly gay member from the Bundestag, Volker Beck - who described his assault by a Russian mob during a gay event in Moscow last year. Mr. Dean was there to give us his robust assessment of the mid-term elections and the major issues will we be facing as we head to the 2008 Presidential election.

And, last but not least, here is yours truly looking like I have had about two hours of sleep. This was taken this morning in a room that Mr. Dean was about to occupy for a photo op.

Here's the entire group that took part in the training.

So, now it's time to get to work on my campaign - expect to be hearing from me in the near future about how you can help.

Time to get on the plane, more later.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"