Saturday, May 31, 2008

Structural Report Out on Casino Building. But, what is wrong with this picture?

First, let me say that I am glad we finally have a new version, preceded by many previous versions (the last one being from 2001), of a structural engineer's report on the status of the Casino building at the beach. You have seen the pictures in previous posts of the spalling concrete, exposed rebar and other obvious deficiencies in the building as it exists today.

The report is included under "City Manager's Report" in the upcoming City Commission meeting agenda Tuesday night. This is the transmittal memorandum as penned by the City Manager. If you would like to read or review the entire report, click here and it will take you directly to its location on the City's website.

No surprise that there are serious problems with the building that need to be addressed. The next step will be to test the strength of the concrete, as indicated in the memo and the report. If it doesn't test out a a minimum of 3,000 psi, along with other performance measures, then there may be a need to close the entire building.

Why is it important that we acknowledge these facts? One reason is because it is a fact that we can't run away from. Another reason is that public safety is at stake. It also will push something to happen at the beach that will be different from the status quo. If the building is unsafe to be in, then we have to do something different regarding the tenants there. We'll either have to discontinue their leases and they will have to fend for themselves elsewhere. Or we'll be in a position where they realize the only alternative they have if they want to stay at the beach is to be part of the redevelopment project currently underway. At that point, those people that are holding up the current project at the beach through lawsuits and possible referendum will be seen as blocking progress - at least from the point of view of the tenants.

Now let's say the lawsuit prevails regarding the referendum on the beach land use plan change and rezoning. And let's say that referendum is not successful and the public turns down the army unleashed by those against the redevelopment beach. At that point we are already further along and perhaps don't have a building there period. Then it may just end up being a passive park. But, at least at that point it is off our agenda as a community and we can get on with more the more important issues that we face on the mainland - by focusing on crime, blight, declining property values, our image as a City, etc.

The thing that I can't understand is that I brought this up under public comment on unagendaed items at the last Commission Meeting - May 20th. It came up later in the meeting when Commissioner Golden asked about it during the discussion on the land use designation on the beach. At that time staff (Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Kroll, and confirmed by the Mayor) had indicated, in sort of "deer in headlights" way, that a structural study had been started but the engineer dropped the ball and couldn't be found or some such nonsense.

Then, in the very next Commission meeting agenda packet, we have a full structural report on the Casino building - dated May 2! Did they just make this public since I made an issue of it and have been sitting on it for all this time? It's easy enough to change a date in a report. What if I hadn't said anything, would these facts still be waiting to be publicly substantiated? Anyway, here's a little song for staff since I don't think they were being truthful about the status of the report - but at least we have it now!

"...loving you both is breaking all the rules..."

Florida Statutes - Conflict of Interest Laws re Lake Worth CDC Request for $300,000 from CRA and Commisison Takeover of CRA

Click title for link.

Commissioner Jo Ann Golden is retained by the Lake Worth CDC as a project manager. Her name is peppered throughout the "loan" application (actually a "grant or forgivable loan" application). Did she know that this "Project 6/E "was in need of $300,000 when she went after control of the CRA's duties? That was only two months ago. The application shows multiple other financing commitments in place, so someone close to the project would have to know about the project shortfall when those negotiations were going on.

If so, Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden couldn't even "participate" - see below - in the discussion let alone vote on the matter.

Information from Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations on Lake Worth Community Development Corporation

Detail by Entity Name
Florida Non Profit Corporation
Filing Information
Document NumberN41121
FEI Number650239821
Date Filed11/21/1990
Event Date Filed10/23/1995
Event Effective DateNONE
Principal Address
Changed 04/03/2002
Mailing Address
P O BOX 147
Changed 01/29/2000
Registered Agent Name & Address
Name Changed: 04/28/2003
Address Changed: 03/21/2006
Officer/Director Detail
Name & Address
Title PD
Title VD
Title TD
Title SD
Annual Reports
Report YearFiled Date

Link to State of Florida website.

Slideshow: Pics of Lake Worth CDC Property that was subject of $300,000 "grant or forgivable loan" request to CRA.

I took these yesterday of the property itself and of the general vicinity. Note that I have added a category under topics "Lake Worth CDC"

Friday, May 30, 2008

TV Nostalgia

Second Shooting this Week

Click title for details, below for item in PB Post 5/31 - another article draws a link between the Wednesday and Friday shootings - thought to be gang related.

"A man was shot dead in the 1300 block of 12th Avenue North"

2008 Estimate of Taxable Value - All Palm Beach County Taxing Authorities

Click images for greater detail. These are the raw figures from the Property Appraiser's Office. It looks like Lake Worth is down a little over 10%. I'll be working up something on these in the future as a way of comparison with other jurisdictions.

Rats, roaches take over home in Lake Worth

Click here for Channel 12 video. Click title for PB Post story. Click here for PB Post video.

Lake Worth CDC - Recent History

Right after the election, I thought it more than interesting that Lynda Mahoney became President of the Lake Worth CDC. You might recall that Lynda Mahoney was Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden's campaign manager. She is also the same person that used County funds to demolish a contributing historic structure on North O Street. Apparently, she didn't possess the correct combination of leadership skills to remain in that position for long.

Ed Grimm is the new President. Ed is a nice guy that I have known for quite a long time and has a significant amount of redevelopment experience. He is finishing up a major project on South K Street at this time.

Water Main Improvements on South "C" Street

Announcement from the City: The City will be installing a new 8" water main on "C" Street between 6th and 7th Avenues South. The work will start on Monday, June 2, 2008, and should be completed within the week. Normal work hours will be Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Traffic flow during the construction period will be limited, but on June 3rd and 4th "C" Street will be closed. The City will make every effort to minimize customer inconvenience during this period.

Please call (561) 586-1719 if you have any questions or concerns regarding this project.

CRA Open House

Announcement from City: The Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is moving forward to beautify the Gateways to the City and provide the necessary infrastructure needed to encourage redevelopment in the City. The very successful 6th Avenue South Gateway Project was completed in 2007 and we are now embarking on the beautification of 10th Avenue North. The concept to redesign and reconstruct the roadway was vetted by neighborhood groups, citizens and officials several years ago. The CRA Board is extending an invitation for everyone to join us for a presentation on the planned improvements. Please join us for an Open House at the City Shuffleboard Courts (1121 Lucerne Avenue) on Thursday, June 5th, 2008, at 4:00 p.m. to view the design plans and provide input. The redesigned 10th Avenue North will create a livable, pedestrian-friendly street that will be a catalyst for future economic development opportunities and overall neighborhood revitalization. For more information please call (561) 493-2550.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Copy of Deed used to convey City property to Lake Worth CDC

Information contained in Lake Worth CDC's application to CRA for $300,000 "grant or forgivable loan"

As posted previously, the CRA rightly denied this application this past Tuesday night. Here is a copy of the application narrative with some pertinent sections highlighted and comments here and there. By the way, this information was listed as Exhibit A on the back-up material on the City's website, but not available on-line. Click here to check it out. This information was provided to me by a CRA board member and is supposed to be public information. Intentional? You decide.

Notice above that this was a request for "permanent loan financing" from the CRA, but only in the form of a "grant or forgivable loan". The CRA did not have the money budgeted and would have had to transfer money out of their Land account to make the $300,000 "loan". Remember the cries about providing $25,000 for the upgrade of the Paradiso restaurant downtown? And that was part of budgeted and funded program that didn't utilize all of its allocation this fiscal year.

Does "publicly supported" organization mean that it pays minimal rent in a City building? By the way, the Lake Worth CDC is repeatedly asked to provide financial statements when their lease is renewed for the building. Requests made by me for follow-up have gone un-answered. Said one commissioner, "Some things just don't get followed through on around here."

Above, under total project costs, we are witness to the explanation of the 71% project cost over-runs. The main reason given is that "some missing components" were "identified by the new contractor" and costs have risen over the past five (5) years.

This $300,000 of CRA money would be used for a small, 6,340 square foot, two story building. Upstairs are four (4) rental units targeted to those families of low and very low income (under $66,000 for a family of four).

Page 2 of the application narrative above: "Since 2005, LWCDC has paid out $90,000 in predevelopment costs from equity sources..." And what would those be? Then it goes on to say that this development organization is suffering from the residential slump as will and hasn't been able to bring the "developer fees" it expected to provide additional equity in the project. Hmmmm.

It then mentions its "15 member board of Directors" and is proud of its "80% attendance" at board meetings and "CDC events". Strange thing to boast about. There have always been questions about the make-up of the CDC board. For example, how many are actually Lake Worth residents living in the community they target their services to? More on the board later. It is interesting to note that the Lake Worth CDC's board is not listed on its website. Intentional? You decide.

Mention is also made above of the "organization's annual reports". Why weren't any submitted with this "forgivable loan" request? Members of the CRA said that these should have been submitted with the application. Why do these reports remain a mystery?
Here the application proclaims that the Lake Worth CDC has increased the number of residents on its board and the current president is a resident of Lake Worth. An admission of past guilt, but how many live in Lake Worth now - what portion of the board?
Here City Commissioner Jo Ann Golden is identified herself as the Lake Worth CDC's "Project Manager". Under the heading of Governmental Relations and Advocacy, it is proclaimed that the "LWCDC has won respect at City Hall..." perhaps having a sitting City Commissioner as part of your staff helps? This new found "respect" has resulted in office space, operating support grants, lot donations (like this lot - see copy of deed in the above post) and building permit fee waivers. Hmmmm .

And I don't count or see all fifteen board members listed here - who makes up the balance? Do we have a right to know?
Admission here above that the CDC is happy with the donated space from the City - that would make a great recreation facility for the youth of the neighborhood where the building is located, by the way. The application also states that it will retain ownership of the proposed mixed use building. Hmmmm.

$72,000 is a high figure for soft costs - engineering and architecture - for this size of property. Dirt is ready to fly in July of 2008? How likely is that had the LWCDC received the "forgivable loan/grant?"

County property values drop 7 percent in the sharpest decline in 30 years

Click title for link to PB Post article.

No word on Lake Worth values. Here is Jupiter's situation:

In Jupiter, officials plans on eliminating about 25 out of 400 full-time town positions, said Town Manager Andy Lukasik. Town officials were already looking at layoffs due to decreasing state sales tax revenue and less money from town building permits, said Lukasik.

Severance packages are expected to be offered to employees. While layoffs will hit all departments, Lukasic expects engineering, parks and recreation and public works to lose the most employees.

"Jupiter is no longer a growth community. The morale around here is very stressful," said Lukasic.

See the future if Hometown Democracy ever becomes law...

Click here for Tampa Tribune editorial

"Voting On Everything Dispirits Tourist Business In Tourist Town"

PAL Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser

A spaghetti dinner fundraiser to benefit the Lake Worth Police Athletic League (PAL) Warriors Tackle Football League will be held June 25, 2008, from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., at the Old Family Recipe Restaurant, located in the Lake Worth Towers at 1500 Lucerne Avenue.

Tickets are $7.00 per person and the dinner includes: a spaghetti dinner, salad, non-alcoholic beverage, and dessert.

For tickets, or more information, please contact Officer Mike Mahoney at 586-1611 Ext. 188.


that there is a new mailing put out by an anonymous source regarding Greater Bay and the beach redevelopment project. Through a call from Bill Coakley, I understand that there is some sort of reference to me (maybe not by name) along with the accusation that I may have worked for (been paid by) Greater Bay in the past or present.

Mr. Coakley will be publishing this latest letter soon on Lake Worth Media. He wanted to confirm with me whether those allegations were true. I told him that I never have worked for Greater Bay in any capacity. I meet with Peter Willard from time to time when he visits Lake Worth, as many of us do. My comments related to the beach project are my own and are in no way directed by Greater Bay or anyone associated with the project.


Teen shot near Lake Worth High

Click title for link to PB Post article.

Winston Churchill - "There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion."

This is a re-post from June 2006 which summarizes many of the basic facts surrounding the Sunset property - which is currently subject of a lawsuit initiated by citizens to force the item to a referendum. The initial ruling is being appealed by the City. The League of Cities and the City of Boca Raton have filed amicus briefs on the matter. I repost this now due to the fact that when this blog experiences heavy volume, it always shows up as one of the more popular posts. You can find other posts regarding the process and my take on the court's ruling under the "Lawsuits" tab on the right side of the page.

I have added some graphics from the original application package that you may have not seen before.

In reference to Lady Hereford's article in the Neighborhood Post on June 21, 2006 here a few facts related to the Sunset Drive annexation, land use plan change and rezoning application:
  • The property was an unincorporated "enclave" - surrounded on three sides by the City of Lake Worth.
  • "Enclaves" are discouraged by the State of Florida in that they promote the inefficient distribution of municipal services, resulting in wasted tax dollars.
  • What surrounds the subject property is the Murry Hills condominium complex which carries a zoning designation of MF-30 (allowing multi-family development at 30 units to the acre). The Murry Hills property is more than two times the size of the subject property.
  • The property was annexed into the City in November of 2005.
  • The City and the owner of the property entered into an annexation agreement in November of 2005.
  • The property, if it remained in the County, could be developed to at least 9 units to the acre and consist of many potential uses, including rental apartments. The City would not have any authority to control the development of the property if it remained in the County.
  • The Planning Board held at least three public hearings on the application by the property owner - encouraging and soliciting public input to identify neighborhood concerns.
  • The identified concerns were incorporated into the Annexation Agreement that runs with the land, not just with the current property owner.
  • The City of Lake Worth has the following residential land use designations: single family residential, medium density residential and high density residential.
  • Medium Density residential allows MF-20 and MF-30 zoning districts as implementing that land use category. There is no zoning category allowing density between SF-7 and MF-20.
  • The property is sandwiched between MF-30 and SF-7 zoning districts.
  • The Annexation Agreement allows the property to be developed to a "maximum of 40 units" roughly 10 units per acre.
  • After a thorough review of the application, the Planning Board recommended on a 5-2 vote to approve the annexation, annexation agreement, land use plan change and rezoning.
  • The City Commission voted 3-2 to transmit the land use plan application to the State of Florida for their review.
  • The State of Florida Department of Community Affairs did not issue an "Objections, Recommendations and Comments" letter, even after a significant amount of material against the land use plan change was also submitted for their review by opponents.
  • The City Commission approved the land use plan change request at second reading on June 6, 2006.
  • Any project contemplated for the property still must go through site plan and special use review in order to be built. The claim that the City approved a 40 unit townhouse development is incorrect.
These graphics date from late 2005 when the project was last before the Planning and Zoning Board.

Note that the total number of units was reduced in the final decision by the City Commission, limiting the number of units through the development agreement to a total of 40.

Note that this is just an illustrative site plan. If the project stays as townhomes, it would be the subject of a special use permit application that would be heard before the Planning and Zoning Board. That has not happened to date.

Demand for paper trail, Florida's jilted primary share ironic link

For latest Tony Plakas article in the Sun-Sentinel, click title above.

Record Day - Thanks for Visiting!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Famed architect's last home in Palm Beach may be razed

Click title for PB Post article.

Scare at Farmer Girl today!

Click title for story.

One of the thrills of my career...

In 1998, I had an opportunity to meet with Philip Johnson in his Glass House. At the time I worked for Donald Trump who happened to be a friend of Mr. Johnson. In fact, he was the architect on the Trump International building (formerly the Gulf and Western building) at Columbus Circle in New York City. Local architect Rick Gonzalez and I flew up to New York to see if Mr. Johnson was interested in working on the new ballroom at Mar-a-Lago. We ended up meeting for about an hour or so at his estate in New Canaan, Connecticut. It turned out that he wasn't interested in the project - mostly due to the conservative Palm Beach architectural style of Mediterranean Revival. He thought that would be too constricting for his creativity.

After meeting in the Glass House, Rick and I toured the property. Speckled all around it were examples of different periods of Mr. Johnson's work. The last one and one of the most memorable was call the "Monster" that served as sort of a gate house at the entry to the property.

As the video states, the property is now under the auspices of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is open as a museum. If you are in the area this summer, you might want to stop by and take a look at architectural history.

It was truly a memorable event and one that I will always cherish.

Click here for latest "City Times" newsletter

The most recent addition available on the City's website - dated July 2006

City Advisory Board Vacancies

The City of Lake Worth is currently seeking volunteers to serve on several City Advisory Boards with vacancies.

Contact the City Clerk's Office at 586-1663 for further information.

The application may be downloaded from the City's website at and must be submitted prior to Friday, May 30, 2008, at noon.

Note: That is this coming Friday.

MSNBC’s Olbermann Tells Off President Bush

If the DNC is having trouble finding the cash, maybe more "special comments" like this will help.

Gas boosts electricity costs for Lake Worth residents

Click title for PB Post article.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Celebrating our Great Leader Mayor Jeff Clemens...

While we're at it...

Here is the City Attorney's report for the City of Oakland Park. When was the last (or first) time we have seen one of these?

City of Oakland Park - Broward County - Economic Condition and Outlook

Click on post title to take you to the City's DELUXE and up-to-date website.

PLEASE click on these images and focus on the highlighted areas. This is a community about Lake Worth's size in the eastern part of Broward County. Look under the heading "Main Intiatives", the redevelopment plan, the "Federal Highway (their Dixie Hwy) Mixed Use Business and Entertainment District".

Also of note is the following - worth quoting verbatim: "The City has also undertaken a new initiative in our permitting process, allowing a much quicker turnaround. The walk-through building permit program, where on any Wednesday a permit applicant may walk in with a minor permit application and walk out with a permit has proved to be extremely popular with contractors and homeowners alike and participation in Walk-through Wednesdays continues to increase."

Florida Redevelopment Association - Annual Conference - Tampa - 10/22 - 10/24

Propaganda: North Korean Style

Click title for link to KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY of DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea).

Propaganda on Kim Jong Il - the Great Architect:

Click here for CNN Video and Christiane Amampour's visit to Pyongyang, North Korea. I stumbled on to the special this morning on CNN. It highlighted the New York Philharmonic's trip there - the first cultural exchange between the US and the DPRK since before the outbreak of the Korean War.

One of my Dvorak favorites, the New World Symphony, performed by the New York Philharmonic in Pyongyang.

There are no traffic lights in Pyongyang, so they employ traffic "ladies" at intersections. See video below:

Compare and Contrast: Lake Worth is to Palm Beach County as North Korea is to the rest of the World? Discuss.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lake Worth Talk Closes its Doors

Many of you probably received this e-mail from Jim Stafford today:
Good Day,
As of Sunday May, 25, 2008:
I will no longer be providing message Board services for the City of Lake Worth. For the past three years I have tried to provide a free and open forum. The costs of providing this forum have exceeded what I'm willing to subsidized with my consulting income. I want to thank all of the sponsors and moderators, with out your help and support I would not have made it this long. I would also like to thank all of you who have supported the site and I wish all of you the best in the future.
We will continue message board services for all other sites. UtalkNews is extremely popular and I will that service thanks to the folks at Ed Morse Honda.
Any post relating to the city of Lake Worth on any other forum will be deleted! I guess the nay sayers got this one wrong!
Again, thank you for three great years!
Jim Stafford
This is a turning point in Lake Worth's cyber-world. You know, the Internet, message boards, blogs and the like are all "budding" applications of computer technology. We have not been here before as humans. This is a revolutionary experience, much like the publishing of the Gutenberg bible - and I don't think that is an exaggeration. The full ramifications of this new medium have really yet to be seen and experienced throughout the world, our nation and our city.

And being on the leading or sometimes "bleeding" edge of technology, there are bound to be growing pains and rough edges. Lake Worth Talk began as a place to vent about the sad state of our electric utility infrastructure, but then grew more into a way to discuss many Lake Worth topics that were meaningful to the people who posted comments there. Yes, there were the ugly moments brought on by the ability to remain anonymous in your comments. The ability to hide behind your keyboard and monitor tapped into some of the destructive tendencies of human nature. But, even through all that, it did tap into the need that people have to communicate about things that they find important - one of those is the civic life of the city we live in.

I was first introduced to the concept of Internet message boards through a site dedicated to Michigan State University sports. Called, it brought together people who follow the fortunes of Spartan sports teams. I still visit it to this day and it's an example of a nicely designed and moderated website that has a wide following. It was this board that started me scratching my head on how this medium could be applied to allow public discourse and community affairs. It was then that I bumped into Jim Stafford's site, which inspired me to start this blog.

This type of site and Internet discussion board takes a lot of time dealing the technical issues, monitoring what is said on the board for public decency and the costs related to software and hosting on servers. It is a big undertaking. While this blog is "free" to create, it does cost in time and effort - something that is not a burden since I enjoy doing it and hope you find the information you find here helpful.

So, for one person to take on the creation and maintenance of a local discussion board in a politically charged environment such as Lake Worth's really amounts to a monumental undertaking. For a while, sponsors were able to bear some of the financial burden that the site demanded. However, between "ad bot" attacks soliciting any number of items from Viagra and all varieties of pornography and negative attacks from those who did not agree with what ever political stance they thought the site represented, advertising support dropped off enough where continued operation of the site became too much of an individual burden on one person. That is completely understandable.

However, the need still exists for this type of discussion forum. Of course, you are free to use the comment tab at the bottom of each post and interact that way on this blog. I do moderate the comments here and I must say that only a few times have I received comments that were too objectionable to post. I also may edit them for clarity, but do not alter the intending message. I will also be looking into adding a widget that will provide a message board alternative as a part of this blog, but that will take some experimentation and research on my part.

There is another alternative in town and that is the Lake Worth Media site. There you do have to register with the administrator and he will know who you are when you post there. This bothers some people. I have posted there and entered into some intelligent dialog- right now I happen to be taking a little vacation from there for various reasons. I may resume in the future. Of course, it is your choice whether or not you visit any site. And I really do appreciate you stopping by here to get a sense of what I am thinking about.

Remember we are pioneers here and that is something of which we can be proud. My hat is off to Jim Stafford and all the people who contributed to the success of this brave new effort in providing a forum where we can discuss the important issues that face Lake Worth.

In Honor of Memorial Day

Taps Buglers, past and present, at Arlington National Cemetery sound the twenty four notes of Taps in all types of weather paying tribute to those who have served. For more information on Taps visit

Link to U.S. Air Force Band website click here.