Saturday, December 22, 2007


I think we can all agree that one sign of leadership in an elected official is the willingness and ability to make the tough decisions. Tough decisions are usually those that have major implications, are usually controversial and, once made, may not show immediate positive results. Regardless of the decision made, you run the risk of alienating the very people that elected you to that office. However, the test of whether or not that was a good decision may ultimately prove itself over time and create a larger community benefit that shows the worthiness of that decision. And there is always another major decision coming down the pike.

With our system of elections every two years, working for the greater good for the long term can be difficult to achieve. Thus, our elected decision-makers in Lake Worth are looking at how their decisions will play within a relatively short two year (at the maximum) time horizon. Remember, we have a chance to change that January 29th. Besides that, if your ultimate goal is running for another, higher elected position - say the state legislature - then the stakes are higher. Serving the community who elected you to your current position may not be your own first political priority.

In order to keep elected and appointed government officials from ducking their responsibility in the making of decisions, the following provisions were made part of the Florida Statutes:

Let's examine some of the highlighted sections of the above. F.S. 268.012 states that if you are a member of a municipal commission and present at a meeting - you must vote on matters before the governing body and not abstain from voting. The only time that this is allowed is when "there is, or appears to be, a possible conflict of interest" as defined further in the State Statutes.

Now comes our own Mayor Clemens. He has raised the issue that his employment with Morgan Stanley precludes him from voting on Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) issues in relation to Lake Worth because his employer invests in municipal and utility related securities. Certain others have raised this issue in the community as a rallying cry that corruption is rampant within the City (which it may be, but this is not an example of that in my opinion). So, Mayor Clemens, at this most recent December 18th meeting, said that, even though every attorney that he has talked to has told him that since his job does not involve the original underwriting or placement of such securities and that he is essentially a wealth management consultant for certain individuals that there is no conflict of interest, he still plans on not voting on issues related to FMPA.

However, at that meeting, he did vote in favor of bringing in a consultant to help advise the City Commission on decisions related to the City's electric utility. (Which the City Commission should have done long ago anyway).

Mayor Clemens - on this matter it is not a "pick and choose" proposition whether you vote or not.

Let's look at the provision under F.S. 112.313 which states that no officer of an agency (City) have or hold any employment that will create a "continuing or frequently occurring conflict between his or her private interests and the performance of his or her public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his or her duties." So Mayor Clemens, your real choice, instead of the one related to voting or not voting on FMPA issues, might be more of an issue whether or not you keep your current employment situation or position of Mayor of Lake Worth. That is if you continue to believe that somehow there is an appearance of conflict here. You cannot have it both ways.

Now, one might say that if it was a minor matter, let it pass. However, we are dealing with our electric utility which makes up at least half of our municipal budget (utilities make up about 2/3 of our budget, but also includes water and sewer charges). Our titular leader should not be able to select which items he votes on when there is no conflict of interest! Pandering to the public that rightly is skeptical of things governmental is not the way a leader should act. Education of the public as to the legal framework in which elected officials operate is the proper role of a leader. Making important, sometimes difficult decisions, is another mark of a leader.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Time to Catch Up

I haven't had a lot of extra time to post here for a while, but that is changing now as the week winds down. You might have noticed a little "widget" on the right hand side of the page. It's a cool gizmo that does a couple of things.

One is that it shows the world in "real time" - that is it shows which areas of the earth are experiencing day and night. At night, the white areas are reflected light from urban areas around the globe. This is important since you might gain the perception here in Lake Worth that we are somehow the only urbanized area on the planet and a dense one at that! Just a little reminder that we do share this globe with 6.6 billion other human beings.

Another thing that it does is that it shows where you happen to be when you log on to the site. For example, if you happened to be on vacation in Madagascar, and were lucky enough to find an Internet connection, a little red beacon would show off the southeast coast of Africa. When you left the site, a little yellow dot would remain showing that someone visited from that area. That dot is left for others to see as they visit the site.

Regarding the yellow dots, those are where the "hits" to this blog have come from since plugging in this widget last Friday. The size of the dot reflects the number of hits from that area of the planet. There are a lot of different ways that Internet access is routed so there is some "rounding error" as to the exact location of the computer being used to access this site and where it is recorded, but it still gives a general overview and indication of where traffic is coming from.

Finally, by clicking on the widget itself, you can bring up a larger, zoomed in picture of the world map. Make sure you disable your pop-up blocker for this site if you want to try this. There you can "mouse over" the various yellow dots and see the name of the area from where people have accessed the site. You can also click to see a list of current visitors and another for historical visitors - at least their locations.

Hope you have fun with this and it always is good to remind ourselves of the larger world around us.

Future post forecast: Eco-density, the Mayor removing himself from voting on FMPA matters, Commissioner Golden's "canned" presentation at this week's City Commission meeting and an update on Hammon Park. And, if there is a time when you are hungering for material on Lake Worth, remember that there are over 450 posts on this site dating back to May of 2006. You can use the search function - a popular one happens to be "sunset" - I wonder why? (not really). You can also peruse the posts by category or review posts by month. I am planning on doing something "BIG" to celebrate the 500th post on here - if you have any ideas, let me know.

Again, thanks for visiting and Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fun with Puppets!

Inspired by last night's Commission meeting.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Tips for a Happy and Safe Holiday

During the year-end Holidays, people are busy, excited and sometimes careless. By making this holiday season safer, it will also be more enjoyable.

Be cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave your house, apartment or condo, even if you are leaving for a few minutes. It only takes a few minutes to become the victim of a burglary or theft.

We all like to leave our curtains open to display our beautiful tree sparkling in our front window. That’s fine, but please don’t put your gift-wrapped packages under the tree until Christmas Eve. A thief walking your neighborhood can look in and make a mental note of all of the gifts, and come back when your house is not occupied, which brings up another point. Always make your house look occupied when leaving. Put lights on times and leave a radio or television on.

On Christmas day, don’t leave the boxes from your new gifts on the curb for trash pickup. Cut them up and place them inside or your garbage pail or recycle bin. Don’t advertise your new TV’s, VCR’s, or computers in the house.

If possible, shop before dark and try to coordinate shopping trips with a friend. Never park in an unlit lot or area, no matter how convenient it is. Lock your packages and gifts in your vehicle’s trunk. Never leave them on the back seat where they can be viewed by passerby. Try to avoid leaving the store with an Arm-Load of gifts, placing them in the trunk and then going back into the store. Someone in the parking lot could be watching! They now know that there are gifts in the trunk and could attempt to break in while you are back inside the store. If you must go back in, place the packages inside the trunk, get into your car and drive off, and then park again on the other side of the mall.

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check, credit card, or debit card when possible. Don’t carry more checks or credit cards then are actually needed.

“To discourage purse-snatchers, do not over-burden yourself with packages”. Use handbags that have a zipper and locking flap, and carry them securely with the flap close to your body. Carry wallets inside your coat or side trouser pocket; never carry them in your back pants pocket unless you have a button or some way to secure that pocket. Place a rubber band around your wallet or money clip so that you can feel it if a pickpocket attempts to remove it.

While checking out at store registers, shield your credit card from people around you. Someone might attempt to get your credit card number. Save your credit card receipts to compare with your billing statements. Carry your credit cards in a separate zippered compartment in your purse, not just as holiday time, but all the time.

Be cautious when using an ATM. At a drive-up ATM, keep all the windows closed, except the one you are using, and all the vehicles doors locked. If you drive to the ATM and then exit your vehicle to use the ATM lock all of your doors and keep your keys handy so that you can re-enter your vehicle quickly. Al alert for anything suspicious, especially two or more people in a nearby vehicle, particularly if no one else is at the ATM, or someone appears to be hanging around the area. Never approach an ATM if the lights at the site are not working. If you are using an ATM after dark, take a friend along. Have the friend sit in the car with the vehicle running and park it as close to the ATM as possible in a well lighted area. Try not to use an ATM if there are large bushes or obstructions that someone could possibly hide behind.

When having friends and family over for the holidays, make sure to have non-alcoholic beverages on hand for the designated drivers. We all want to be the perfect hosts. When we see a guest with a half-empty glass, we immediately want to replenish the drink. Don’t push drinks. People don’t need to drink in order to have a good time. Some guests may not wish to appear rude, and will accept drinks they don’t want. Don’t let guests mix their own drinks. Have one person serving the drinks and have that person try to keep track of the size and number of drinks that guests consume. Stop serving alcohol 90 minutes before the party ends. Serve a great dessert with coffee. Remember, coffee won’t sober up your friends, but time will. As your party breaks up and guests are leaving, encourage them to wear their seat belts and be alert for impaired drivers.

Let’s work together for a safe and happy holiday season.

Joel Morganstern

Lake Worth Police Department

Crime Prevention Specialist (COP Coordinator)