Saturday, August 2, 2008

E-mail to Mayor and Commissioners re 431 N. L. Street

Mayor, Commissioners and Staff

The e-mail below is from a neighbor that lives close to 431 N. L. Street.

I want to thank you again for being responsive in addressing the integrity of this historic structure. It really will - someday - contribute greatly to the neighborhood, but - as the picture attests - we face some obstacles in getting there.

It turns out that the alcove that is on the east side of the building, while being one of its interesting historic features, also is an attractive nuisance to the area. It provides an easy place for people to sleep and, in the process, trespass on city property.

Can you take steps to cover this opening so that this does not provide a place for people to harbor? Also, what social service agency should be contacted regarding people that do not have appropriate shelter? I would like to provide assistance in some way.

Thank you.

Wes Blackman

Up-date: 431 N. L Street (time for another e-mail to the Commission)

Hello Wes,

I hope your weekend is going well.

In the past I have noticed "bedding" and other signs that people were sleeping on the front stoop of 431 N. L st. This afternoon around 2:30 I came home with my daughter and a female friend and saw someone sleeping on the stoop of 431. I got my daughter and friend inside my house and went back to 431 and told the "visitor" to please leave and to clear out all of his stuff . He complained about there being no shade elsewhere but did pack up and leave.

My friend often parks her car near 431 N L when there are other cars parked in front of my house. I will not let her do that anymore and if she will call me when she gets to my house so I can escort her from her car.

What a shame!

N. L. Street

Back-up Provided by City Manager Baldwin on 2008-2009 Budget Presentation - 8/5 Commission Meeting

Key Findings and Recommendations re Casino Building

Slideshow: Presentation to Commission on Structural Condition of Casino Building

Highly recommended that you click on frame above in order to adjust speed of slideshow and so that it appears larger for detail.

Presentation to be made at August 5, 2008 meeting.

Response to Post from Doctor Rene Varela

As I mentioned in the previous post, I had the opportunity to meet with Doctor Rene Varela, intended candidate for the District #4 Commission seat, yesterday at Starbucks. I planned to do more of an overall review and impression of our meeting in the future, but it seems that Doctor Varela is a little impatient and he wants it right away. Last night when I posted the item (briefly as I was pressed for time), I also capsulized and condensed his opinion regarding the beach. Apparently an unforgivable act it was. Here is Doctor Varela's response:
Now, now Wes.
It appears that you may have missed your true calling in life. Indeed, you managed to condense an hour long conversation (that I requested) into one, poorly phrased, manipulation of a sound bite. That was surely the envy of the corporate mainstream media. The blogoshere is supposed to be our oasis from that sort of mindless manipulation. As I said to you in our conversation, I fully expect and encourage to be challenged by Lake Worth's active citizenry, including you. This is the only way that we can insure elected officials are kept accountable. However, I am disappointed when your blog doesn't even attempt to extend the effort to mount a decent challenge to my entire point. How can we move forward in this city if we continue to dissect each other's words to form a damning sentence for publication.
As for our conversation, I continue to assert that when there is a stalemate in progress, some form of diplomacy must occur. It is the only thing that has historically overcome impasses. I also believe that there is much more that unites us than divides us. Some choose to focus on the divisions, but I remain hopeful that we can come together for a better Lake Worth. Hopefully, you can continue to work hard to be part of the solution for all residents. There is enough fuel for the divided factions in this city, why don't we break out of that mold and bring the majority of well-meaning residents to the goal that they all seek: A better life for them and their loved ones.

Rene' A. Varela

Intended candidate for Lake Worth City Commission District 4

Paid for and approved by Rene' A Varela for Lake Worth City Commission District 4.

***Must include that disclaimer, lest I annoy the author of the cute 'Dolphin Boy' blog entries. Maybe you can pass that along to him when you see him?
So, let's delve a little deeper into our conversation as it relates to the beach. We talked about many things during our hour long conversation and Doctor Varela comes across as a thoughtful and principled person but lacks knowledge of the history and background of the Lake Worth Beach odyssey and therefore is somewhat naive. A good example of that was his response to the question regarding the beach.

He said that 90% of the people in this town have lost faith that anything will happen at the beach. Half of the rest either don't want anything done there or just to make minimal improvements and half want to follow through with Greater Bay on the current plan. We agreed that the lawsuits create certain obstacles right now. He then mentioned the existence of other plans (?) and that everyone seems to want their version of what they think the beach should be. He thought it was a good time to, within a month's timeframe of public input, come up with what really should be at the beach. He did express that whatever is there should be able to feed our downtown and he didn't seem to shy away from some sort of commercial content on the beach. He expressed his opinion that if the casino building needs to come down due to structural concerns, that the reason for doing that must be based on objectivity and that information should be made amply available to the public. He believed that the City had some sort of moral obligation to assist in the relocation of the tenants there and not just let them find space in our downtown area, or other location.

This is why I think that Doctor Verela's thoughts are naive. How many different versions of beach redevelopment have we seen and been a part of over the past 30 years? Too many to count. All have come and gone and in the meantime we have the deplorable conditions of facilities there that we have today. To think that within one month's time we could come together as a community and do something substantially different than what is currently being discussed, which already does have support within the community, is wishful thinking at best. I also think that his estimate on the base of support for doing something like the current plan and partnership at the beach is grossly underestimated. That was not my experience in walking neighborhoods during my campaign last year.

What opponents of the beach plan, which seem to be Doctor Varela's early base of support, fail to realize is that Greater Bay is willing to adjust their site plan. In my many talks with Peter Willard, he has always shown a flexibility in what is proposed as part of the redevelopment plan. The initial site plan was an "illustrative plan" - meant to be discussed and amended as it went through the site plan review process - which hasn't happened yet. The City is in a partnership with this private entity to redevelop the beach which is founded on a contractual relationship. I fully expect that Greater Bay and the City can come up with a workable plan. Doctor Verela did not acknowledge that possibility in our discussion.

There will be more later on our discussion. I hope that the good Doctor Verela understands that and will rely more on himself getting out his platform through the campaign process rather than in me having to recount our conversation.

I did enjoy the opportunity to meet with Doctor Varela and I thank him for making the effort to contact me.

And, Doctor Varela, always include the disclaimer as it is required by state law.

Friday, August 1, 2008

City Commission Agenda - 8/5

Tons of interesting items coming up on the next regular City Commission meeting agenda, so I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of what I believe will be the sources of discussion. Consistent with past practice, the City Manager offers nothing in the way of back-up information related to the budget presentation. There is also a consent agenda item to create a City investment policy. The back-up to that item says that it is to coincide with the auditor's recommendation that the City conform to state law. Wow.

A lot to review over the weekend - including the latest structural report on the casino building at the beach. So stay tuned to this channel!

This afternoon, I had an opportunity to meet Rene Varela - the District #4 candidate who will be running against the incumbent Dave Vespo. Mr. Verela believes we should stop work on the beach and thinks that the City will be able to decide in a month through public input what should be done with it - once and for all. Hmmm.

E-mail response re Sheriff contract...

Thank you for the info. I will pass it along. The element of people that I have seen around here lately is scary to say the least. While sitting in Park Avenue grill Monday around 7:30 having dinner a man ran in the restaurant no shirt, pants falling off and shouting the f word. Outside the front door was 8-10 males carrying bats. I was really scared at that point. We called police from our cell phones they responded within 2-3 minutes. I feel bad for our cops for what they have to work with they do a terrific job. I am in favor of the merger along with 100% of the people I know. I have lived here now for 8 yrs. and have been victimized 3 times to many.


Concerned Lake Worth Resident

Friday Treat: Dudley-Do-Right and Barney Fife

Apparently, this particular episode was banned - one can understand why. But, with the Sheriff's merger in the offing, I thought a little Dudley-Do-Right was consistent with the theme.

And here is a little Don Knotts' comedic talent:

Crime in Lake Worth

The escalating crime in our city has to come to a halt! You have a chance to help make this a reality and not just wishful thinking.

On Monday, August 4th at 6:30p.m. at the Scottish Rites Masonic Center located at 2000 North D Street the City Commission will be voting on the proposed contract to merge our police department with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. This meeting is our last chance for this merger to take place.

Over 97% of the officers within the Lake Worth police department want this merger to take place and are willing to take a pay cut to make it happen. Why? Because our police department is understaffed, overworked and does not have the funds or resources necessary to fight crime effectively and keep its residents safe, and our officers know this merger will provide them what they are lacking.

Just over the course of last weekend there was an armed home invasion on 4th Avenue N and K; on 7th Avenue North (Park of Commerce area) a man was beat to death and his body burned; Saturday morning there was an armed robbery outside National City Bank on Lucerne Avenue; a shooting took place on the corner of 5th Avenue North and J Street, and there were 5 armed robberies by a group or gang that the police said are working the 12th through 16th Avenue South area on Dixie Highway in the past week.

We all know someone touched by crime. Bruce and Maryanne Webber’s son was robbed at gunpoint inside his condo in downtown Lake Worth across from Paradiso Restaurant. This is the same building our son lives in. The list goes on and go. We all see the proliferation of prostitutes on the streets. With prostitutes come drugs and crime. We need more officers on the streets. This merger will provide that!

We need the Commission to know we as a community support this merger. PLEASE take a quick minute to call or e-mail the Mayor and Commissioners below to let them know how important their support of this merger is. Just say "please vote for the merger." City Hall is 586-1730.

Mayor Jeff Clemens:
Commissioner Retha Lowe:
Commissioner David Vespo:
Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden:
Commissioner Cara Jennings:

If you are able, please come to the meeting to speak on behalf of this merger. If you don’t like public speaking, come and fill out a comment card that will be read into the record by the Mayor. Once it is submitted you don’t have to stay if you can’t. This is sooooo important for your safety and everyone's safety who lives in Lake Worth. We need to have a BIG voice for this to pass. Feel free to pass this on to your friends/neighbors.

Erin Allen

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thank you Commissioner Vespo for Getting the Word Out.

The City Commision will be voting on the proposed contract to merge with Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office at the special meeting being held at the following:

When: Monday August 4th at 6:30pm
Where: 2000 North D Street at the Scottish Rites Masonic Center

Everyone is invited to attend. Thank you.
Dave Vespo
City Commissioner
District IV

This was sent out as an e-mail today regarding the meeting next Monday. See previous post for map to meeting location.

A few notes...

Karaoke didn't take place last night - the air conditioning wasn't working at Club A.J.s. So, come back next week and we'll try again.

Also, the CRA retreat that had been scheduled for this Saturday has been re-scheduled for August 9th. This is due to a death in family of one of the board members. I will post the agenda here as a reminder. The retreat will be held in the Lake Worth Golf Course Club House from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Karaoke Tonight - Club A.J.s

The great Deborah Harry.

Summary of Key Provisions of H.R. 3221 - The Housing Stimulus Bill (as of 7/30/08)

H.R. 3221, the “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008,” passed the House on July 23, 2008, by a vote of 272-152. On Saturday, July 26, 2008, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 72-13. The President signed the bill on July 30, 2008. The bill includes the following provisions:
  • GSE Reform – including a strong independent regulator, and permanent conforming loan limits up to the greater of $417,000 or 115% local area median home price, capped at $625,500. The effective date for reforms is immediate upon enactment, but the loan limits will not go into effect until the expiration of the Economic Stimulus limits (December 31, 2008).
  • FHA Reform – including permanent FHA loan limits at the greater of $271,050 or 115% of local area median home price, capped at $625,500; streamlined processing for FHA condos; reforms to the HECM program, and reforms to the FHA manufactured housing program. The downpayment requirement on FHA loans will go up to 3.5% (from 3%). The effective date for reforms is immediate upon enactment, but the loan limits will not go into effect until the expiration of the Economic Stimulus limits (December 31, 2008).
  • Homebuyer Tax Credit - a $7500 tax credit that would be would be available for any qualified purchase between April 8, 2008 and June 30, 2009. The credit is repayable over 15 years (making it, in effect, an interest free loan).
  • FHA foreclosure rescue – development of a refinance program for homebuyers with problematic subprime loans. Lenders would write down qualified mortgages to 85% of the current appraised value and qualified borrowers would get a new FHA 30-year fixed mortgage at 90% of appraised value. Borrowers would have to share 50% of all future appreciation with FHA. The loan limit for this program is $550,440 nationwide. Program is effective on October 1, 2008.
  • Seller-funded downpayment assistance programs – codifies existing FHA proposal to prohibit the use of downpayment assistance programs funded by those who have a financial interest in the sale; does not prohibit other assistance programs provided by nonprofits funded by other sources, churches, employers, or family members. This prohibition does not go into effect until October 1, 2008.
  • VA loan limits – temporarily increases the VA home loan guarantee loan limits to the same level as the Economic Stimulus limits through December 31, 2008.
  • Risk-based pricing – puts a moratorium on FHA using risk-based pricing for one year. This provision is effective from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009.
  • GSE Stabilization – includes language proposed by the Treasury Department to authorize Treasury to make loans to and buy stock from the GSEs to make sure that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae could not fail.
  • Mortgage Revenue Bond Authority – authorizes $10 billion in mortgage revenue bonds for refinancing subprime mortgages.
  • National Affordable Housing Trust Fund – Develops a Trust Fund funded by a percentage of profits from the GSEs. In its first years, the Trust Fund would cover costs of any defaulted loans in FHA foreclosure program. In out years, the Trust Fund would be used for the development of affordable housing.
  • CDBG Funding – Provides $4 billion in neighborhood revitalization funds for communities to purchase foreclosed homes.
  • LIHTC – Modernizes the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program to make it more efficient.
  • Loan Originator Requirements – Strengthens the existing state-run nationwide mortgage originator licensing and registration system (and requires a parallel HUD system for states that fail to participate). Federal bank regulators will establish a parallel registration system for FDIC-insured banks. The purpose is to prevent fraud and require minimum licensing and education requirements. The bill exempts those who only perform real estate brokerage activities and are licensed or registered by a state, unless they are compensated by a lender, mortgage broker, or other loan originator.

No Back-up Information Available for Monday City Commission Meeting on PBSO Contract??


An Inconvenient Truth -- A Convenient Remedy: Walkable Urban Neighborhoods

News Bits and Pieces - Florida Planning


The 2008 Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Climate Change, hosted by Governor Crist, was held June 25-26 in Miami. This year's Summit focused not only on the need to pursue alternative fuels for environmental reasons, but also for the economic benefits brought about by the infusion of green technologies. Panels and keynote speakers emphasized the need to lead this important effort. If you were unable to attend, many of the presentations were videotaped and and can be viewed online at


A recent report published by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) proposes that high gas prices will result in quantum shifts in driving behavior in the U.S. CIBC World Markets Inc. experts Jeff Rubin and Benjamin Tall, in their ''Heading for the Exit Lane'' report, expect the 57 million Americans with both cars and direct access to transit to act more and more like Europeans, who have long paid much higher gasoline prices since the 1950s. The analysts predict that some 10 million Americans will stop driving over by 2012. Read this report at


In April, the Florida Division of Emergency Management brought online a new website,, to provide information on Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and the Citizen Corps. The Florida Division of Emergency Management supports the Community Emergency Response Team program which trains residents to be prepared for emergency situations in their communities and neighborhoods. Local CERT teams receive training in disaster preparedness, disaster fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, terrorism, communications, disaster psychology and team organization. CERT teams provide immediate assistance to victims, collect disaster information to support first responder efforts and provide the first neighborhood help in the immediate hours following a major emergency. The new website will allow those interested to apply to become a member of a CERT team and find information on CERT teams and Citizen Corps councils in their local area.

The American Public Transportation Association has created an online tool to help you calculate the savings you could experience by riding public transportation. This calculator will help you compare the price of using public transportation with the price of paying at the pump and then parking your car in town. This calculator has been set with default values based on national averages for June, 2008; however, you may set variables such as the price of gas and the length of the round trip to match the price of gas in your area and the length of your round trip. To see what you might save, go to

The Congress for New Urbanism has developed a new video highlighting how walkable urbanism can reduce driving and slash carbon emissions. Entitled A Convenient Remedy to the Inconvenient Truth, the video points out that the design and location of neighborhoods plays significant role in your overall energy use and carbon footprint. That's largely because the typical American subdivision and its surrounding environment is designed completely for driving. To meet their daily needs, residents have no choice but to drive over a spread out landscape of homes, stores, office parks, schools and other destinations. The video uses a number of revealing examples to show how the choice of a walkable, mixed-use transit-connected neighborhood can slash in half or more the 21,250 miles per year the average U.S household puts on its cars and trucks. View it at

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Coral Reef 'Glue' May Not Stick Under Climate Change

As of 8:25 a.m. , no notice of special Sheriff/Police meeting on City website...

Let's say for instance that there is a meeting today "in the shade" which is not public in order to discuss contract negotiations - one of the very few things that an elected or appointed body is allowed to close its door to the public. At a minimum, there should be some sort of public posting that the meeting is taking place, where it is taking place, why it is taking place behind closed doors and who is part of the meeting.

For example, this is how the Town of Palm Beach provided notice for a closed door meeting regarding the Surfrider Foundation lawsuit. I received this as part of a blast e-mail from the Town - as everyone who signed up for that service would have. I am sure that it was available in other public places as well.

This is not about the difference of resources between the Town of Palm Beach and the City of Lake Worth. This is about the desire, or lack thereof, to notify the public of what is going on in their local government.

This is about our municipal police service. Will the public have any input at all?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Drama in Real Life - Lake Worth Utilities Customer Service

This is a REAL chronological e-mail account of a situation experienced by a Lake Worth resident of seven years. The residents' name has been changed to protect their privacy. It's best to re-read this a couple of times and you will get a sense of the us versus them mentality at your local utility customer service found in the City Hall Annex.

Sent: Wed 7/23/2008 1:05 PM
To: Jo-Ann Golden
Subject: utilities

Dear Mrs. Golden,
I have called you and emailed you. The reason I am sending this is something happened last Friday. On Thursday someone from Lake worth utilities came to shut off the electric. My husband called and talked to Sheila she said they do not have access to the yard. We have a dog we told them numerous times someone is always there just knock on the door we will bring the dog in. Any way she called back and left a message to come in . I was going to do that anyway because we were not sure if they received our last payment. Well in the morning we went and I spoke with Sheila and explained that I will get my check this morning and then my husband will bring back the payment. The girl gave me the total for 810.00. I still felt that was wrong but okay no problem. As I am cashing my check my husband called me and said they are here to cut the line. So my husband asked the guy can you give me about 15 minutes my wife is on the way. ( I started work at 930 when he cut it the time was about 1030) Now my husband gets the $ and goes and pays now we owe 1100.00. they will not accept the800.00 and bill me the rest. So he calls me back. Now I leave work and go to the utilities. The girl leaves her desk and Daisey comes she cannot explain how we owe so much. My late bill was 575.00 we all agree. My payment for aug was 313.00 due Aug 14. Now the bill is 1200.00 because I tampered with the water. How do you turn water off of a home owner with two elderly people and 4 kids that is inhumane. Sheila would not talk to me Daisy could not explain why I was supposed to pay more than 575.00. So my check was 807.00. So how am I supposed to pay 400.00 extra dollars because they turned me off. That was not right. I also asked for a form for my father in-law because he has a respirator they (daisy and Sheila) said I have to get it sent in the mail.
I had to buy a generator and spend the electric money just because these two women. On Saturday I got my new bill and the total due is 923.00. So can you explain why my family was treated this way I am not the only person after last night I could smell fumes from the machine so we shut it off. I am very upset that I have not gotten any responses from neither you nor Jeff when he knows me and my family.
Thank You,
Lake Worth Resident of Seven Years

Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 10:16 PM
Cc: Thomas Rutherford
Subject: RE: utilities

Dear Mrs. Lake Worth Resident of Seven Years,
I understand the hardship caused by such a high bill, and yet I understand that you have spoken to Mr. Rutherford at Customer Service and that he explained why the bill was so high. We all have the responsibility to pay our bills on time, or try to make an arrangement before your payment is due. There also are some agencies that will help. One of these is Community Action. But, what I am most concerned about is that you say a member of your household is on a respirator. If this is the case you need to contact Tom Rutherford. The Utility Department does not turn power off if they are aware than someone in the household is on a respirator.

I am sorry for this late reply. I do not remember getting a previous e-mail from you and if you sent one I apologize for not responding. Again, please let Customer Service know that you would like to register someone in your household uses a respirator.

Please call if you need further assistance: 561 459-7291.

Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden
District 3
City of Lake Worth

Sent: Friday, July 25, 2008 3:00 PM
To: Thomas Rutherford
Subject: utilities

Dear Mr. Rutherford,

Last Thursday we were told we needed to pay our bill on Friday. My husband spoke to Sheila and she said they needed access to the yard. He told her as I have told the customer service that someone is always home at our house just knock on the front door and we will bring the dog in. At 8:00 on Friday I went in to get the exact amount we owe. She wrote down810.00. In the back ground Daisy was telling her that it was 923.00. Fine I told her that I had to go to work at 930 I have to get my check and cash it and my husband will bring back the money. Fine my boss got to work at 1030 I got my check and went to cash it. As I am at the bank my husband called because a man was there to cut the electric and my husband told him we were just in the office she is on her way to pay. He said he did not care he was cutting it anyway. My husband went in to the office and they would not accept the 800.00 now they told him it was 1100.00. So my husband came home and called me back. I left work to go back in there and now my total is 1232.00. The lady at the counter left Daisy came and sat down. I asked her to check if they had received my last payment on 6-25 she said yes we agreed my past due was 575.00. Everything still did not add up because my new bill was not due until 8-14. My electric should not have been shut off I told them we would pay and I always do. I was not told any specific time but I was cut at about 10;30. I also asked for a respirator paper I was told it would have to be sent in the mail certified that was last Friday and still I did not receive anything. I have called in and had other people call in to ask the question they were told as I was just come in the office and show your id to get a respirator paper.

On Saturday I received my bill it is923.00 Due in August which did confirm my past due amount. What I don’t understand why I was cut after coming in and making an arrangement and how I was treated. I am working with some agencies and I need to know my total amount. Can you please contact me so I can give the agency the amount.

Thank You,

Lake Worth Resident of Seven Years

Sent: Friday, July 25, 2008 4:20 PM
Subject: RE: utilities

Lake Worth Resident of Seven Years,

At this point, in accordance with the policy requirements of City Resolution 18-2008, you need to pay the full outstanding bill amount of $934.28, plus a $200 meter tampering fee, plus a $140 fee to re-connect the service at the pole. Total amount required for reconnection of service = $1,274.28. This amount must be paid in full prior to restoration of service.

Thanks – Tom Rutherford

Community activist announces she will run for Lake Worth City Commission seat

Meeting on Sheriff takeover?

From the WPTV website: "The Sheriff has given the city a deadline of August 1st. The city commission is expected to vote on the merger July 29th. At this point, it appears the merger has enough votes to pass."
As of 8:16 p.m. Monday, July 28, 2008 from the City's website:

Okay, so the unions and the Commission seem to be making compromises to make this happen after staff got the necessary information together - finally - to make a decision. But, is there one more meeting in the "shade" before a public vote is taken on this? Or, is there a public hearing, as reported on the 6 p.m. WPTV Channel 5 news, tomorrow - that isn't on the website but somehow meeting the minimum requirement for public notice?

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw's ultimatum was to get him a decision by August 1st, or his department is moving on.

Why do we have to wait 'til the last minute on momentous decisions such as these? How long has the staff and Commission known this was in the offing? I remember talking about the prospect of it during my campaign early last year.

Let's do it but can we do it with less drama and without a ticking time bomb in the background during the negotiations? And, can we do a better job informing the public about the process? Have the pros and cons of this ever been discussed at an actual City Commission meeting?

Just 99 Days left to help Say No 2!

With just 99 days to go, the 2008 Election Countdown is in double-digits and is, well, counting down.

The race is on. It will be tight. And with just 99 days to go until it's all over, now is the time to sign-up, join in and speak out.

Sign-Up: If you haven't signed the SayNo2 Pledge, add your name to the hundreds of Floridians who have already committed to SayNo2 putting the government in our private lives.

Once you've signed the pledge, use the link on the website or at the bottom of this email to ask your friends to SayNo2 also.

Join In: With the Election just 99 days away, financially support the campaign with your donation of $99 – just $1 a day.

Every dollar we raise from now on this campaign will go directly – every penny – to telling Florida voters the hard truth about Amendment 2.

Speak-Out: Make a personal commitment today to tell nine people that you're voting against Amendment 2.

Nothing is more effective than person to person communication about Amendment 2. Everyone knows nine people and in less than five minutes you can write their names down on your list and make plans to talk to them. Drop them an email, chat at work or give them a call.

With 99 days to go, we need you now more than ever – we're really counting on you to sign-up, join in and speak out today!

- The SayNo2/Florida Red and Blue Team

P.S. We're delighted to announce today that Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has joined the SayNo2 Advisory Board and will SayNo2 Amendment 2! In opposing Amendment 2, the Congresswoman said:

"In Florida, the term marriage is already defined as a relationship between a man and a woman. Amendment 2 will involve the government in our personal lives by dissolving locally recognized domestic partnerships, endangering the legal rights of unmarried couples, and weakening business responsibilities such as healthcare and retirement benefits."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Slideshow: Peanut Island

This was our ultimate destination Saturday. (Click title for link - here for more for more details on park - click slideshow frame for larger image.)

If you haven't been to Peanut Island recently, you owe it to yourself to go. Here is the Google earth image showing the island and surroundings.

You can read about the details from the links. Jim and Gina Stafford, the boys and I got there around 6 p.m. and anchored the boat on the west side of the island. I took some time to walk around and take pictures - the subject of the slideshow. A couple things impressed me. First of all, this is the spoil island created from the original opening of the ocean inlet and, over time, became overwhelmed by Australian Pines. There was a coast guard station which doubled as cover for the bunker to be used by President Kennedy if there was an attack deserving that sort of protection while he was visiting Palm Beach. That has been restored and tours are available.

There is also camping available on the north side of the island for only $16 a night for a campsite. It was plenty busy as I walked by that area of the island. It looked like there was an area for an organized campfire too. Some people chose to just camp out on the beach too. Which is interesting to think about. In some ways, the impression that I got was that this was an urban park - much in the way Central Park is for New York City. You have have these intense land uses all around - save for Palm Beach - you have the water, and then you have this oasis in the middle of it all.

As we were headed back toward Lake Worth, we passed by the Golf course Clubhouse. We began talking about the missed opportunity for some day docks there to welcome boaters as a wayside stop along the Lake Worth Lagoon. We also thought of the notion, which has been thought of before, that the walkways planned and soon to be built by the County further south along toward the Lake Worth Bridge, be extended north - leading to the golf course. We then talked about all the opportunities to partner with other public agencies in doing such a project and how we wouldn't have to do it alone. Then we came back down to earth when we asked ourselves where the leadership would come from to do this sort of project - from the City's side of things.

By the way, we also so people fishing from the older, condemned bridge as we headed under the Lake Worth bridge. That soon will be torn down according to the interlocal agreement with the county. Remember, there are some people that are against the referendum that would allow a 99 year lease to the County to do that project.

To sum up, if you want a different sort of vacation without really going away and in the mean time enjoy a unique outdoor environment, think about Peanut Island.

Details on Congress' Mortgage Rescue Package

Excerpts - click title for additional information

Create an affordable housing trust fund. In the first three years of the FHA refinancing program, fees paid by Fannie and Freddie - based on a percentage of their new mortgage activity - would help defray potential government losses from loans that end in default. The fees would later pay for a permanent fund to promote affordable housing. Critics question, among other things, how Fannie and Freddie will be able to pay the fees if they are as undercapitalized as many say.

"It's not only bad policy, it's irresponsible," said House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., during the House floor debate Wednesday. He noted that a year ago the GSEs had $106 billion in market capitalization and today they have roughly $20 billion.

Give grants to states to buy foreclosed properties. The bill would grant $4 billion to states to buy up and rehabilitate foreclosed properties. The funding had been opposed by the White House, which said it would benefit lenders and not homeowners. But given the administration's push to get a Fannie and Freddie rescue proposal in place quickly, Democratic leaders decided to keep the provision in the bill, sensing the president wouldn't kill the bill over it given its other priorities.

How housing rescue bill can help you

The legislation - likely to be enacted soon - devotes $300 billion to helping troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure.(Click title)

Slideshow: Yesterday's Boat Trip - Lake Worth Lagoon

With mention of the Emerald City...

The Seekers singing Emerald City, Written by Kim Fowley (Keith Potger) and John Martin a Christmas hit for the Seekers in 1967. mixed with footage from the Wizard Of Oz.

West Palm Beach Skyline at Night

During our boat trip last night, I was able to get this shot as we cruised by West Palm Beach. Due to the movement of the boat and the long shutter opening needed to capture the light, it was difficult to get one without a lot of camera movement. This one above was the best of the batch. I have always thought that city skylines at night, especially those by bodies of water, have a magic "Emerald City" quality to them. Like it or not, large cities with bigger buildings represent an outer manifestation of human achievement and creativity.

There are others that see cities, and their resultant skylines, as representative of avarice, corruption and oppression. Which in many ways is too bad to take such a negative view on something that is such a human trait - the need and ability to build things. Lake Worth will always be the "yin" to West Palm Beach's "yang." In the world that is Lake Worth, this picture comes pretty close to waving a red piece of cloth in front of a bull. There is a salaciousness about it that just seems unseemly - so big, so tall, so brash, so bright - so not Lake Worth. As we well know, avarice, corruption and oppression are not confined to larger cities.

It may help to think of the contrast in this way. "Yang" energy is not bad - "Yin" energy isn't inherently good. They just are. As opposites, they need eachother to help define the other. West Palm Beach is making the most of its "yang" energy - is Lake Worth making the most of its "yin" energy?