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"