Saturday, August 16, 2008

IMPORTANT - Florida Attorney General Advisory Legal Opinion

The following advisory opinion was provided by David Tolces, the CRA board attorney at our retreat last Saturday. I'd like to thank Mr. Tolces for uncovering this and presenting it for discussion. It has relevance to any elected or appointed member of a board or commission that either maintains a blog or a website - or to any elected or appointed member of a board or commission that may want to comment publicly on an item presented on a blog or a website.

The reason I maintain this blog is to have a reliable and ready source of on-going information about events, issues and policies that apply to people living in and around Lake Worth. In my opinion, the function of this blog is made more important due to the lack of a regular stream of reliable information coming from City Hall. As many of us know, there is a wide variety of conflicting information that takes the form of rumor - both inside and outside the electronic universe - that can be used in a nefarious manner to influence decision making and public opinion. So, I hope that you find the information here useful and that it helps in fighting the spread of misinformation or disinformation in the city.

I originally started this blog two years ago. At the time, I was on the Planning and Zoning Board and anticipating that I would be running for office in the near future. I saw the blog as one way of introducing me to the public and sharing my views on the issues of the day. It turns out that I didn't realize just how much of a pioneer I was in doing this. Since then, there have been many articles written on the brave new world of planners, elected and appointed officials maintaining blogs as a means to distribute facts, expand upon the basis for making a particular decision, etc.

Of course, in Florida, we have the Sunshine Law and Public Records Law. Apparently, being as "public" as these new Internet media are, they can run afoul of those laws if one isn't careful. I encourage you to read the following opinion - remember to click on the image for a zoomed-in version. As many of you are aware, I was recently appointed to the CRA - which is subject to the above two laws. As such, according to this opinion, I can present completely factual information relating to an item coming or likely to come before the CRA without a problem in the eyes of the Florida Statutes. I can also safely express my opinion about an upcoming matter or a matter likely to come before the CRA. However, another member of the board cannot interact and offer a public comment on my opinion as expressed on the blog. On page 3 of the opinion, it states the following:
"The use of a website blog or message board to solicit comment from other members of the board or commission by their responses on matters that would come before board would trigger the requirements of the Sunshine Law. Such action would amount to a discussion of public business through the use of the electronic format without appropriate notice, public input, or statutorily required recording of the minutes of the meeting. While as noted above, the mere posting of a position does not implicate the Sunshine Law, it would appear that any subsequent postings by other commission members on the subject of the initial posting could be construed as a response which would be subject to the statute."
So, as it applies to this blog, as long as I am a member of the CRA, I ask that other CRA board members do not respond by using the comment tool that appears below each post. While this would only apply to items related to current or potential business of the CRA - in the abundance of caution, I would advise not posting at all. You can read it all you want, it is when interaction takes place that the problem arises.

For my part, I will attempt to only portray factual information on items that will be appearing on a future CRA agenda - and then report the results of the meeting where the item appeared. This goes beyond the advisory opinion below and there may be times that I will waiver from this self-imposed restriction. There are many other non-CRA items on this blog where I will continue to opine away as usual.

Anyway, I hope that this is useful and it would be wise for this information to be presented on other blogs and message boards operating in our city.

Track of "Fay" as of 2 p.m. - 8/16

Friday, August 15, 2008

National Park(ing) Day

Click title for more information. This came up at the end of Tuesday's CRA meeting. It is a national event that takes place on September 19, 2008 and is sponsored by the Trust for Public Land. The goal is to temporarily convert parking spaces into landscaped areas as a reminder of the importance of parks and green space in urban areas.

News from the Lake Worth CDC...

The following was distributed at last Tuesday's CRA meeting...

Apparently the CDC will not be applying to the CRA for another $300,000 or for any amount to provide "gap" funding for the project at 6th Avenue South and E Street.

Florida's unemployment rate highest in 13 years

Simulated Drive-by at Murry Hills 8/15 a.m.

Pictures taken at Murry Hills - 8/15 a.m.

Screen Shots from YouTube Video

E-mail exchange from this morning...

Lynn Anderson: Just one question--how come you hate to such a degree that it clouds your judgment--that you can even put this on your Blog?

Me: It's not about hate. It's about the truth. It is what it is. It is a good example of someone using bad judgment. Something from which we can all learn something. I'm sorry if the truth hurts.

Lynn Anderson: This is a fake video--has nothing to do with Ron Exline and you know it.

Me: Can you describe how you know it is fake? I would be interested to know. Seems pretty real to me.

Lynn Anderson: It is not Murry Hills, Wes.

Me: Then where do you think it is, Lynn?

Lynn Anderson: Look, you are into character is and and has been sport to you and your buddies. You can do much better sticking to the truth rather than inventing a scenario to make your point. Hammer on the points but by showing a video that was NOT the incident is a LIE. This is really kid's stuff. You have a very different code of ethics. Wes, do what you want here but it will come back to you. It is much better taking the high road than the low. I know you don't have to resort to this. You have the intelligence to stay with the truth. You, by advocating this video, are distorting what happened with a video that had nothing to do with the Exline incident. Truth matters, right?

Me: You are saying this is not Murry Hills? I am taking the high road today and taking pictures of Murry Hills and we will compare them to what is seen in the video. Is that not a Lake Worth COP car? This was put on YouTube by a guy that is really into skateboarding - see his other videos. Is that fabricated too? How is this scenario invented and what kind of point would I be making with it? What kind of point are you making saying that it wasn't real?

Lynn Anderson: Wes, you are spinning words now- I did not say that the video was NOT REAL. I said it had nothing to do with Ron exile [sic]. Big difference. and I have no idea what kind of car it is. It could be an electric one for all I know. You must have a lot of precious time.

Me: So the car just started itself and hit the car with the kids in it? So how many COP cars have been in incidents recently at Murry Hills with kids interested in skateboarding?

Lynn Anderson: WES--CAN'T YOU READ. I said this video had nothing to do with Ron Exline. Can we now end this charade?


Me: I know - we should put it on the ballot and let the people decide.

Lynn Anderson: LOL

Friday Treat - A little taste of Pinocchio!

Forecasters watching tropical disturbance moving toward Bahamas, Florida

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Look what I found on YouTube!

Click here for link to YouTube page. Be sure to read the comments and description.

Caution: This video contains a vulgar slang.

Tax swap removed from ballot

Tropical disturbance likely to strengthen into depression

Libraries report record number of visitors

Reading this article from the Sun-Sentinel makes me wonder - does our Lake Worth library have wireless internet? And does anyone know what happened to the proposal for citywide highspeed, broadband Internet availability? I'll do some checking around and see what I find out.

Just a quick look and I found this from the Library's portion of the City's website:

Lake Worth Library Wireless Hotspot - Wi-Fi
Welcome to the Library’s Wireless Internet System. Free access is provided to all with a wireless-enabled laptop, table PC, or PDA. The library’s network is open to all visitors free of charge for two hours per day. Please visit the reference desk for the day’s login ID and password.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

From the CRA Retreat last Saturday - 8/9

Last Saturday members of the CRA were part of a retreat that took place at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center. All board members were present, with the exception of Brendan Lynch and Wayne Marcinkoski. We reviewed the state statue framework that enables Community Redevelopment Agencies and the CRA's by-laws. We also reviewed the state of Florida open meetings act and recent Attorney General opinions regarding Sunshine Law issues relating to electronic communications in the form of e-mails and websites. This will be the subject of a future, separate post.

The pictures below show the lists of goals and priorities as prepared by staff ahead of the retreat. Board members were given stickers and asked to place the stickers by what they thought were the most important CRA priorities for the next year. Remember to click on the images for more detail:

Once that task was completed we enjoyed a lunch provided by White Apron catering - which recently moved into the new building in the 1700 block of N. Dixie Hwy - and is also a CRA facade grant recipient. We were then able to discuss the priorities in more detail and add to items. This accumulated information will be presented at a future CRA meeting. Thanks to staff and all who attended for making the retreat such an interesting way to spend a Saturday morning!

Inspection reports of health facilities now available online

And who says we should've gone with West Palm Beach water?

Deal fines West Palm, allows 10 years to fix water plant

West Palm Beach has a real hot line on how to get into hot water - F. Cerabino

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Yesterday's City Commission Workshop Meeting - 8/11

First of all, I was unable to attend last night's workshop meeting. I understand that it was available streaming over the Internet, which is good. However, given my computer situation and other competing priorities, it was impossible for me to listen to it. Today, the Clerks office was kind enough to make a copy of the CD recording of the meeting, so I'll be able to listen to it as time permits.

A couple things that I have heard since this meeting disturb me and I wanted to share them with you. I understand that Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Bates were not in attendance last night. The administration was represented by Laura Hannah. Mr. Karns was also there as well as Mr. Kroll from Public Works. Rachel Bach, Director of Community Services was there as well as Corey O'Gorman - who is the city's project manager for the beach redevelopment.

There is much talk about the City issuing a new "deadline" for the site plan to be submitted - October 17th. Let me ask a what should be an obvious question - how can the City Commission decide to require anything through a workshop? They aren't allowed to take action at a workshop. Furthermore, if they are talking about a new deadline, aren't they talking about some sort of amendment to the development agreement with Greater Bay? And, isn't a contract an agreement between two parties - not just agreement by one? I am hoping that Mr. Karns was able to point this out to the Mayor and the City Commission.

Yes, most of us would like to see progress and it would be nice to have the site plan to review and adjust as needed. But there are certain conditions that need to preceed that. Apparently, the City has not been hastily responding to the various legal actions. Each day that passes makes those that want to keep the beach as is, or just not see the Greater Bay project go forward, happier and happier - now nearly to the point of giddiness. Is someone making sure, in a behind-the-scenes sort of way, that progress doesn't happen here?

And the demolition of the existing building was discussed - but no funding source has been identified to tear it down. I hope that those in decision-making positions realize that once the tenants are out - March 31st, 2009, it will take a lot more to work after that to prepare the building for demolition and restore the site to something that will be appealing to view. I would be surpised if there isn't some sort of asbestos abatement required.

I'll keep looking for more information and let you know more after I hear what transpired at the WORKSHOP meeting.

By the way, in case we have forgotten: - Get the definition of public private partnership on

In the interim...

While my 21st Century machine is being worked on, I brought back to life a machine from the 20th Century. It's not quite as old the one pictured and manages to do the basics. I'll try to squeeze in a couple of posts throughout the day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Computer Crash and Aftermath

Just to let you know that my computer problems continue. I hope to be back posting on a regular basis by the end of this week. Right now I am using a friend's machine to log in and keep up with the electronic conveyor belt.

Things that I will be reviewing when I am back on full time will be our CRA retreat from this past Saturday. CRA Attorney David Tolces found an Attorney General's opinion regarding blog/website use by elected or appointed board members in relation to the Florida public meetings statute. Interesting and it may have some impact on how users of this blog react to posting related to CRA matters. We also have our regular meeting Tuesday night - the applicable back-up is on the city website.

Thanks for visiting and continue to check back - I might have some more updates as the week progresses if time allows.

Deerfield considers cleanups of homes in foreclosure