Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lake Worth: City Redevelopment Agency adds three board members

Link to Sun-Sentinel article.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Nice Message from the Bathroom Place

Hi Wes -

I am the owner of Bathroom Place, one of the businesses you featured in your blog about the old Blue Marlin building. One of my customer's let me know about your blog -- I think it is great; my wife and I appreciate the attention you gave the new activity happening in Lake Worth.

You are welcome to come in, look around, and see the products we offer to the community. You are welcome to take some interior photos and post on the blog ... I would be receptive to offering a 10% discount to any customer purchasing a vanity set if they come in as a result of reading your blog...

Thanks again for posting the happenings in Lake Worth! I am attaching a showroom pic... you can see our other showroom locations on our website @

Sean White
Bathroom Place Corp.
1101 N Dixie Hwy
Lake Worth, FL 33460

Lake Worth rail plans subject of Saturday meeting

Guerrilla gardeners green their city on secret moonlit missions

Friday Treat - Behind the Scenes with Rocky and Bullwinkle

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Salute to "Dump the Pump" Day

Being the Planner that I am, I like to "walk the walk" as much as possible. Since I had never taken a Palm Tran bus before, I thought today would be a good day to do so seeing as it is national "Dump the Pump" day. I already had two scheduled appointments in downtown Lake Worth, back to back. So instead of hopping in my car, I grabbed the camera and headed off to the nearest bus stop on Dixie Hwy.

That stop is by McDonalds, part of the Arbor Shopping Plaza. I got there around 12:50 p.m. or so. At about 1 p.m., the southbound bus appeared.

I, along with a mother and child, climbed aboard.

Once inside the bus, I paid the fare. The woman in front of me had a pass that she just waved at the driver. I put a dollar bill in the fare box, along with 50 cents in the coin drop slot and took a seat about midway back, on the aisle. The bus was about 70% full and was made up all ages, races and descriptions of people that you could think of.

The woman seated directly ahead of me was a familiar face for those that travel north and south on Dixie Hwy. She was the woman in the blond wig and overcoat that saunters up and down the sidewalk all day long. Besides the odor emanating from her, the bus was clean and the air conditioning was refreshing after waiting outside for the bus to arrive.

About half way to my destination at Lucerne and Dixie Hwy., a young man got on board and started talking very loudly about equality, genocide and mass killings. The bus driver gave him a warning to be quiet or he would have to get off the bus. That worked for about a minute, then he started up again. By then we were where I needed to get off. The bus stopped and many people exited and entered the bus in front of the CVS right across from City Hall. The guy with the loud voice got off and went south on Dixie Hwy.

From there I walked to the Shuffleboard Court building and waited for my appointment. The entire trip on the bus was about 7 minutes. With the walk to the stop and the wait for the bus, the total trip time was about 20 minutes. I was early for my meeting with the folks from Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council concerning the Charrette this coming Saturday (see previous post). So, that gave me time to look over the maps they had laid out to stimulate thought and discussion.

Once the meeting finished, I walked out into the larger room where I overheard part of a conversation between Miss "T" and another lady. She was telling her about how the day before someone got robbed at gunpoint right outside the door to the shuffleboard courts. She had called the police immediately, but after 20 minutes they had yet to show up. The guy who pulled the gun had gone off and walked west down Lake Avenue. There was more to the story, but I didn't stay around to hear it all as I was a little late for my next appointment.

That appointment was with Joan Oliva, Exectuive Director of the CRA. She had called earlier in the week to set up an orientation meeting with me related to my appointment to the CRA. We talked about coming meetings and likely agenda items. I talked about some of my priorities that I would like to see come about. She was able to give the packet for next Tuesday's meeting to me as well.

So, I headed back to the bus stop, with a quick side trip to CVS for something cold to drink. The northbound bus came in about 15 minutes. While waiting, I bumped into a neighbor of mine that uses the bus quite frequently to take care of errands. She is older and has trouble seeing. Her children a few years ago encouraged her to give up her car, which she eventually did. I usually see her walking her dogs around the neighborhood. Instead of getting off the bus around College Park, she went on to Winn Dixie to do her weekly shopping.

Otherwise, the trip north was uneventful and after a brisk walk from the Dunkin Donuts, I was home a little after 3 p.m.

Would I do it again? Sure. I'm not sure that it is economical for short trips like this one. I don't think that I would have used $3 worth of gas getting to and from downtown from my house. But to and from downtown West Palm Beach might be another story. If I was headed to the Tri-Rail stop, it would be worth it. I would've had to transfer to the east/west route at Lake and Lucerne to do that. In no way was it objectionable to me, especially if you keep in mind this is a public bus. As long as you are comfortable being with people of all types, it's a good way to get from here to there.

Press Release - Transit Oriented Development Charrette - 6/21

The time of the charrette is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A follow-up presentation will take place the following Friday, June 27. Time and location will be announced later.

International Surfing Day @ Lake Worth Pier - 6/20

Tips on Saving Gas...

1. Cars lose fuel efficiency at speeds above 55 mph,

and fuel efficiency really drops off at speeds over 60

mph. Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph reduces

mileage by about 7 percent.

2. While you are waiting in line at the drive-thru, you are

getting zero miles per gallon. Park the car and go inside

the restaurant. You’ll save gas and get some exercise!

3. Maintenance is the key to peak performance. A

dirty air filter and under-inflated tires can increase

your fuel cost up to 13 percent.

4. When it’s time for a long trip, think about what

you really need to take. A loaded roof rack can

decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent because of

the drag. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces

a typical car’s fuel economy by 1-2 percent.

5. If you can eliminate just two discretionary trips per

week, you can save several dollars at the gas station.

Combine trips by share driving chores with neighbors

or carpooling to work. Several short trips from a cold

start can use twice as much gas as a longer, combined

trip to the same places when the engine is warm.

6. “Flooring” the gas pedal while moving away from

the light usually doesn’t get you to your destination

any faster, and it wastes gas. Drive evenly and sensibly.

7. Don’t start and stop your engine needlessly. Idling

your engine for one minute consumes the gas

amount equivalent to when you start the engine.

8. Drive steadily. Avoid tailgating. The driver in front

of you is unpredictable. Not only is it unsafe, but it

affects your economy if you have to slow down unexpectedly.

Slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel.


Yesterday's Rainbow

This was taken around 8 p.m. from my driveway. It was raining lightly with the sun setting in the west. Now, just where is that pot of gold?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Karaoke Tonight!

At Club A.J.s, South J Street.

Hurricane Preparedness

From Mary McCarty's Office:

The official start of hurricane season was June 1st and I would like to remind everyone the importance of being prepared! County officials and staff have worked diligently on a comprehensive Web site and manual providing essential information on hurricane preparedness such as shelter locations, generator safety, pet shelter locations, etc. Please take some time to review the information provided which will help to insure the safety for you, your family and friends.

For pet owners, please visit for details on preparing your pets/animals in case of an emergency.

In addition, the 2008 Storm expo is scheduled to be held at the South Florida Fairgrounds on June 14 (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) and June 15 (10:00 am – 2:00 pm). The event includes educational seminars, local hurricane preparedness exhibitors, children’s activities and much more. Admission and parking is free. For further information, please contact 561-712-6378 or email:

Lake Worth explores limits on campaign gifts

From the PB Post article:

Citing the series of local investigations into political influence-peddling in recent years, Jennings asked commissioners to "take a proactive stance on what I see as a prolific ethics problem in our county."

State law limits campaign contributions from individuals and committees, other than political parties, to $500 per election.

With the tougher ordinance, she said, "We won't have to sit here and worry about conflicts of interest. They wouldn't exist."

Earth to Commissioner Jennings - there is more to conflict of interest than who supports your campaign!

Check out all the information regarding Commissioner Golden's attempted take-over of the CRA and then her employer's grab at $300,000 of un-budgeted CRA money in the form of a "grant or forgivable loan" to bail out a mismanaged project. Click here for details.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

City Commission Action on "Pay to Play" Ordinance

On a vote of 5-0, the Commission sent the item to be reviewed by the Attorney General's office. However, this was after a plea from Commissioner Jennings to go ahead, pass it and let someone challenge the City in the Supreme Court.

Thanks Commish, great advice.

"Mac" McKinnon Endorses Jim Stafford for District #2 Commissioner!

Called by many Lake Worth's most popular Commissioner ever, Colburn "Mac" McKinnon gave Jim Stafford his endorsement for the District #2 Commission seat recently. In his letter, Mac noted Stafford's "energy" and "knowledge" as true assets. The note itself can be viewed at Commissioner McKinnon was a multi-term commissioner and a favorite coach and Athletic Director during his employment at Lake Worth High School. "Mac" still lives in District #2 which he represented as Commissioner.

Jim Stafford, age 31 is married (Gina) and has two younger boys. He has lived in Lake Worth for the past five years. Stafford is running for the City Commission seat to improve the conditions of District #2 - specifically improving the City's ability to address code enforcement problems and to improve the City's recreation facilities and programs. This is the first year that the Lake Worth Municipal elections will be held to coincide with the National elections scheduled for November 4, 2008. Information on how to donate or other campaign events can be found at jimfor

Link to Letter

*Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Jim Stafford for Lake Worth Commissioner District 2

"Pay to Play" Ordinance - Commission Discussion - 6/17

Here we are wading into the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and freedom of political speech.

Can we try to do better at customer service, rather than appear before the Supreme Court?

Let me say this before going further. We need to have an ethics task force, formed and only to be in existence for a limited time. This task force would make recommendations on the ethical standards and behaviors of persons appointed and elected in the City of Lake Worth. It would be a wholesale look at what constitutes our definition of what is considered ethical behavior - much in the same way that West Palm Beach did in the wake of the ethics crisis facing their elected officials.

This represents a piece meal measure that is meant to address what? A specific instance? Would it apply to all "professional business entities"? Does that include police and fire unions? What about the time frame here? Let's say some "professional business entity" contributes to a candidate's campaign. That person is elected. Does that mean that the "professional business entity" is precluded from doing business with the City of Lake Worth in any capacity as long as that person retains office?

Or, are we governing by press release - so that we can say that Lake Worth has a "pay to play" ordinance so that after that anyone of a number of evils can pass for being ethical? Hmmm.

And who would really benefit from this ordinance? It would be those groups and campaigns which rely on human capital rather than financial capital to win elections. Under whose name is this memo authored? Hmmmm. Is this the same person that would stand up for someone who is applying for a $300,000 grant or forgivable loan for their employer (whose project is 71% over budget) from the same agency that they beat up two months before for financial accountability?

Probably so.

We need to see this measure as exactly what it is - another roundabout way to grab power. Remember the super-majority? Remember how decisions can be repeatedly revisited by the non-prevailing side? And on and on and on...

Again, we need a task force formed with a limited time horizon to come up with comprehensive recommendations on the conduct of elected and appointed officials. We also need to be careful when we attempt to challenge something that might have Constitutional implications.

And while we're at it, can we ban political yard signs? Nothing saps more of a campaign budget than those, it does nothing but create visual clutter and it gives people the opportunistic temptation to mess with opponent's signs. Trust me, I know. Remember, signs don't vote, people do. And as long as we are trying to out "green" all others, let's pause to think of the impact to the waste stream that these nearly indestructible signs create.

Lake Worth apartment fire deemed arson, set by tenant, police say

Monday, June 16, 2008

Delray Beach's Old School Square: From eyesore to ideal

No, we're not another Delray Beach. We actually have many more important community assets than that community, but we are split and without adequate leadership to meet the challenges. In some ways, I think that our very strengths are what hold us back. Even if we don't try hard, we can get by. Well, in the new realities brought to us courtesy of the economy and Amendment 1, we will not have that luxury. Do we have the resources to be the home of last resort of the very low and low income persons that some what to live here? What if that vision actually plays out? Who wins in that scenario? What do we lose as a community?

The article highlights some of the reasons and the ingredients involved in turning around Delray Beach. No, we don't have to become another Delray Beach in order to be successful. What we do have to become is a better Lake Worth - doing so would outshine all the other communities that share this South Florida region.

"I'm voting Republican because..."

FIRE at 914 4th Avenue North

Just got back from the scene and the aftermath. I picked up on the news by my feed from the PB Post that you can find about halfway down the page on the right hand side. I posted the link to the article below and decided to take my camera and check it out.

The property is just west of the alley from Lupita's at 4th Avenue North and Dixie Hwy. Here is what I first saw as I got out of the car.

From what I could tell, there were two people in the building at the time, one male and one female in separate units. The man I knew from the Mad Hatter and friends Dale and Terry were there already making sure their friend was o.k. The Red Cross was there too and they will give temporary aid for a few days. Both tenants had cats and the animals were safely rescued.

WPBF was there as well and interviewing the firefighters and investigators. Apparently, a representative from the State Fire Marshal's office had already visited the site and it is likely a case of arson. The fire started in the downstairs apartment. The guy upstairs heard noise from downstairs just before the fire began and heard "sloshing" of some liquid. The female tenant smelled gasoline right before the fire started - sometime after 5 a.m. this morning. According to accounts, the tenants of the downstairs apartment were a source of trouble and hadn't been seen in a while.

Above: one of the rescued felines in the travel cage along with one of our firefighters. Below are views of the north side of the building. I was offered a chance to go in the upstairs apartment, but declined.

Other notes: There are no historic districts on the west side of Dixie Hwy. Sneakers has cameras mounted outside the building that might have captured some of what happened. The Fire Department responded quickly. Remember to make sure you have a working fire/smoke detector - especially if you rent!

I tired to pull up the property appraiser's data for this property and couldn't find the address on 4th Avenue North. If you have better luck, print the card to a .pdf file and forward it to me. Thanks.

Please include the people affected by this fire in your thoughts and prayers.

Firefighters battle fire in Lake Worth apartment house

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Don't Forget - This Thursday 6/19

Palm Tran

Tri-Rail Trip Planner

Tri-Rail Dump the Pump Promotion

Public Transportation Facts for the Third Annual National Dump the Pump Day

Public Transportation Ridership:
  • In 2007, Americans took 10.3 billion trips on public transportation - the highest ridership level in 50 years.

  • 34 million times each weekday, people board public transportation.

  • Since 1995 public transportation ridership is up 32 percent.

Energy Conservation - Reducing National Dependence on Foreign Oil:

  • Each year, public transportation use in the U.S. saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline. This represents almost 4 million gallons of gasoline per day.

  • The “leverage effect” of public transportation, supporting transportation efficient land use patterns, saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline – more than three times the amount of gasoline refined from the oil we import from Kuwait.

  • Public transportation use saves the equivalent of 300,000 fewer automobile fill-ups every day - 108 million fewer cars filling up annually.

  • Each year, public transportation use saves the equivalent of 34 supertankers of oil, or a supertanker leaving the Middle East every 11 days.

Individual Cost Savings:

  • Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary alternative to driving.

  • Each year public transportation households save over $1,399 worth of gas.

  • Transit availability can reduce the need for an additional car, a yearly expense of $6,251 in a household budget.

  • The average household spends 18 cents per dollar on transportation, and 94 percent of this goes to buying, maintaining and operating cars.

  • Americans living in areas served by public transportation save $18 billion annually in congestion costs.

    Public Transportation Reduces Greenhouse Gases and Conserves Energy:
    • The “leverage effect” of public transportation reduces the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually – equivalent to the electricity used by 4.9 million households. To achieve similar reduction in carbon emissions, every household in New York City, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Denver and Los Angeles combines would have to completely stop using electricity.

    • People living in households within one-quarter mile of rail and one-tenth of a mile from a bus stop drive approximately 4,400 fewer miles annually as compared to persons in similar households with no access to public transit. This equates to an individual household reduction of 223 gallons of gasoline a year.

    Tell why you decided to "dump the pump" due to high gas prices and ride public transportation.

    Tell how this decision has made a difference in your life, what you are doing with the extra money you have saved or what public transportation means to you.

    Please send to

Items of Interest on the City Commission Agenda - 6/17/08

Click title for link to City website and agenda. Once there, you may click on individual items for additional information and staff back-up. The highlighted items below are the ones that caught my eye.

Separate posts coming on "pay to play" ordinance and attendance policy re advisory boards.

New Businesses on Dixie Hwy. - Former "Blue Marlin" Building

In your drives up and down North Dixie Hwy, have you noticed the changes and increased level of activity around the former "Blue Marlin" at about 11th Avenue North, on the west side of the road?

For those of you who may have forgotten, the "Blue Marlin" was a Lake Worth bar famous for its after hours business due to its 5 a.m. license. Now Sneakers has cornered that market a little farther south, but about 10 or more years ago the title belonged to the "Blue Marlin". If any of you have pictures of the building or of its interior back in the day, forward them to me and I will post them here.

After the bar ceased to exist, the building languished. Actually, the building continued to languish - the bar was the working definition of a "dive". Once used as a kitchen supply retailer, the building stayed mostly vacant much of the time. However, now the building has two new tenants. One is a bathroom supply showroom which occupies the south end of the building. I popped my head in there and it looked like they had some nice products if you are looking at redoing your bathroom.

The other, on the north side of the building, is called the "Shred Shed". It's a place for skateboards, supplies, clothing and shoes. Check out the pictures. I chatted with the owner and one of the guys that works (and lives - upstairs) there. They came from the shopping plaza at the northwest corner of Congress and Forest Hill. They had an o.k. amount of business there but the landlord starting jacking them around so they looked for a new place and landed in Lake Worth. They're very optimistic about the prospects for success here and are looking for ways to promote skate parks locally. I'm going to lend my hand to see if there are some creative locations we can capitalize on.

Drop in and say "hi". By the way, they have a whole section of shoes on sale for $25. I was lucky enough to find a cool pair in my circus animal size (13) so they may have some that would fit your needs for just bopping around.

They are also giving away a retail showcase that they do not have a need for after the move. It's probably about 6 to 8 feet long, lighted with sliding glass doors.

It's nice to see this building put to use again and by retailer - all on Dixie Hwy!

Slideshow: Beach Pics

These were taken at the beach today during my COP tour of duty with Karri Kasper. Pretty good crowd there today; about a quarter of the lower lot was full when we cruised through around 3 p.m. Nothing unusual to report during the rest of the outing - we hit all of Karri's hotspots for criminal activity, but pretty quiet all in all. Thanks for driving Karri - and for your sparkling conversation!

PBCC plans state's first green campus

Sounds like we would have an attentive ear if the City approaches PBCC about a transit link to our downtown, Tri-Rail, Palm Tran Route #1 etc.

A Good Omen...

On Friday, I paused for a moment when I saw some twigs on top of my mailbox. It happens to be mounted just to the left of the front door, below the front porch light. Well, I looked above and saw the makings of a nest! This morning I caught the Mourning Dove there as I came out the door with the dogs for our morning constitutional.

This from, the first on-line fung shui magazine (click title for link),
"most things associated with birds tend to spell good fortune, such as when birds fly to your home and start making nests in and around your house. While bats bring abundance, birds bring good news and opportunities. The next time a flock of ravens, pigeons or magpies come to your home, feed them with bird seeds. Birds are also said to be powerful protectors and guardians. Even crows are said to be messengers of the Gods. So welcome birds with open arms."
There are other memorable bird messages and symbols in my life. The day that I left Michigan, as I walked down the sidewalk to my car loaded with things to take to Florida, I spotted a dead Robin in my front lawn. That always said to me that I wasn't meant to come back to live in Michigan - the Robin is the state bird.

My mother loved to see Cardinals in the yard and would make an effort to point them out whenever she saw them. She grew up in the State of Ohio whose state bird is the Cardinal. Upon her death, we decided to have a Cardinal etched in her gravestone. On the stone, the Cardinal is resting on a White Pine, the state tree of Michigan - which is where she spent most of her adult life. Now, whenever I see a Cardinal, I think of her.

Probably too much information, but never forget to look for clues and symbols from nature in our everyday life, they can serve as powerful reminders or confirmations.