Saturday, November 15, 2008

Protesters in Lake Worth call gay-marriage ban setback for civil rights

Extra Special Treat - Shiba Inu - Puppy Cam - LIVE!

About Shiba Inu Puppy Cam
Tune in daily to see the cutest Shiba Inu pups... EVER! ;)

The six Shiba Inu pups (3 boys and 3 girls) turned 5 weeks old on November 11th. This is the first litter from their mom, Kika.

- Autumn (Purple collar) - 3 lbs 5.8 oz (as of Nov 11th)
- Ayumi (Yellow collar) - 3 lbs 3.4 oz (as of Nov 11th)
- Amaya (Red collar) - 3 lbs 6.6 oz (as of Nov 11th)

- Aki (Green collar) - 4 lbs 0.4 oz (as of Nov 11th)
- Akoni (Black collar) - 3 lbs 12.6 oz (as of Nov 11th)
- Ando (Blue collar) - 4 lbs 1.2 oz (as of Nov 11th)

If you would like to view the pups in a larger window, go here:

For more information on the Shiba Inu go here -

Please do NOT purchase pet store (puppy mill) puppies!
Do your research to locate reputable breeders in your area.

Another option would be to consider adopting a rescue Shiba

Go here for info on AKC breed standards -

Go here for info on Nippo breed standards -

No pity here for whiny owners of John G's

Letter to the editor from Erin Allen in today's paper. Click title for link.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shuttle launch as seen from my driveway...

Probably would have been better as a movie. All the neighbors that were home came out to see it - much excitement!

Night Shuttle Launch - 7:55 p.m.

Always fun to see at night if the weather cooperates. Great for the kids to see too. Click title for NASA link.

From the Lake Worth Herald...

Go Dave! You're raking in the endorsements
- let's make sure everyone votes this Tuesday!

Vote on the 18th - The Only Choice...

Return Vespo; fix runoff

On Tuesday, Lake Worth voters choose between two good candidates in a runoff for the District 4 city commission seat. The Post recommends incumbent Dave Vespo.

Since his election in 2006, Commissioner Vespo and his colleagues have made significant progress on many of Lake Worth's basic problems - crime, water, electricity, the public beach. Merging the city's police force with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office was the slam-dunk among the bunch, and Commissioner Vespo was the strongest supporter. The city has more officers on the streets and access to many more resources. His opponent, Suzanne Mulvehill, opposed the merger.

The Palm Beach Post gets it right. Click title for link. Also a good idea about an "instant run-off" instead of the current system.

West Palm Beach to spend $127 million to boost economy

"Business leaders at the meeting included representatives of banks and construction firms and Kelly Smallridge of the Business Development Board. Smallridge urged Frankel to make it easier for businesses to get permits.

And Frankel said she's considering a "buy-local" campaign that will urge holiday shoppers to spend their money in West Palm Beach."

Hello, Mayor and Commissioners of Lake Worth - what are you doing to help?

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has endorsed Dave Vespo in Tuesday's election On November 18th

On November 4, Dave Vespo received 42% of the vote -- more than each of the other two candidates. However, since the Lake Worth City Charter requires a runoff when no candidate receives a majority of votes, PBCHRC is asking all Lake Worth voters to go to the polls on Tuesday, November 18 and cast their ballots to re-elect Commission Dave Vespo.

Over the years, Dave has been one of our strongest supporters on the Lake Worth City Commission. In October, Dave sponsored the resolution by which the Lake Worth City Commission went on record opposing Amendment 2. Last year, Dave was outspoken in his support of the commission's successful effort to add gender identity and expression into the Lake Worth Human Rights Ordinance. In addition, Dave has always been a strong supporter of COMPASS and PrideFest.

Please go to the polls on November 18 and re-elect Dave Vespo.

This paid political advertisement, which is independent of Dave Vespo or his re-election committee, is produced, sponsored and paid for by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council. The endorsement was approved by Dave Vespo.
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 267, West Palm Beach, Florida 33402
(561) 845-6545

Foreclosures speed up across South Florida

Rally against Amendment 2 - Lake Worth City Hall - 11/15 - 1:30 p.m.

Click title for link.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pics and Video from Havana Hideout - Open Mic Night

Here's a little sample from Havana Hideout last night. Every Tuesday around 7 or so they have an open mic night. Plus, they have a great special on all sorts of tacos - $1 each! The nearly full moon was out and besides the occasional quick, light rain shower, it turned out to be a real good time. By the time I left around 9 or so, the place was hopping with people and good jams. Drop by some week and have a taco, a brew or two. Fun folks.

Announcement from City: City to Flush Water System

The Water Systems Department will be flushing fire hydrants within the City's water distribution system in an effort to assure the highest quality water is being delivered to our customers. Crews will be flushing hydrants beginning Monday, November 17, 2008, and continuing through Friday, November 21, 2008. During this period there may be temporary street flooding and complaints of dirty water and low water pressure.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Water Department Field Office at (561) 586-1719.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Used Book Sale


The Friends of the Lake Worth Library will be holding a used book sale on Saturday, November 15th from 9am to 3pm at the Cultural Plaza at 414 Lake Ave., Lake Worth.

Books, DVDs, music CDs, videocassettes priced from 50 cents to $5.00.

Donations of gently used books, DVDs, music CDs may be brought to the Lake Worth Public Library at 15 North M St., Lake Worth.

For more information please call the library at 561-533-7354.

Thank you,

Vickie Joslin

Click for Link to Today's Radio Show

Jim Stafford and I got together today and did about a half hour show regarding last night's City Commission meeting. We talked about the public comments from a business owner in the downtown, the plight of an air conditioning contractor being abused by the building department - but most importantly we talked about the proposed improvements to the shuffleboard court building and the exploratory work on the Casino building.

Please feel free to post comments or questions.

Designation Report - Lake Worth Casino Building - Historical and Cultural Significance (with commentary)


What follows are portions of the designation report for the Casino Building at the Lake Worth beach property. It was authored by Sherry Anderson of ACI (Historic Preservation consultants) in 1998. At the time, it was presented to the Historic Resource Preservation Board and we chose not to recommend designation for a number of reasons - the condition of the building, the prospect of something better in the future, the unspectacular nature of the current architecture, etc. However, as the report clearly points out, the entire property is tied to the development of Lake Worth and in many ways represents the hopes and aspirations of its residents. It has provided Lake Worth with a social and recreational destination on a rare piece of property.

Before Darrin Engle left, I had asked for a copy of this report and he just couldn't find a copy for me. Luckily, it was in a box that Frank Palen loaned me. Frank was chairman of the Planning, Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board at the time - and chairman of the Beach Steering Committee. The later being the group that studied the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council plan for the beach and prepared for the referendum on the general obligation bond issue. That referendum failed at the ballot box in March of 2002.

Anyway, here is the designation report. Like I said, it is a good capsule of the City's history and the role the beach has played in its development. For ease of reading, I will separate out different sections of the report in various posts. (Remember, images can be made larger by clicking on them)


So why has something that served to the unite the community in a common cause and be the focus of our civic and recreational life turned into something that has been used to divide our residents? The end result being a derelict public facility that is not reflective of its historic importance and the creation of warring factions fighting over the remaining carcass.

Let me offer a few thoughts on the matter. First of all, the nature of the barrier island has changed in many ways over the past 100 years. Imagine being a pioneer in the early history of Lake Worth. The barrier island at that time was wilderness, something exotic and powerful. Natural conditions and forces combined to create an "awe factor" that helped define what it meant to live on the mainland given the proximity to the Ocean. If you lived here during this time, you would have been concerned about your economic survival as well. Not only would you like something at the beach, on the barrier island, to make your visit more comfortable (bathrooms, changing facilities, etc.), but you would also desire a way to take advantage of this exotic location so that it became part of the Lake Worth experience. There was a need to establish a sense of place there and somewhere to recreate that differentiated this beach location from the thousands of miles of beach found along the edges of the State of Florida.

The need to stand out and become an attraction for tourists is at the root of our city's beginnings. This is especially true in light of other municipalities in the area. Look at the advantages that West Palm Beach had during the same period of time. The barrier island just east of their City was the source of wealth, tourism and inhabitants. There you found Flagler's hotels, a larger (wider) expanse of island and labor needed to support that economy. Our forefathers and mothers needed something for Lake Worth to stand out in the crowd. Fortunately or not, our section of the barrier island was much narrower than that across from West Palm Beach and could not be developed in the same manner. So to establish a "destination" there was important for our pioneer families' economic livelihood - one could even say their economic survival.

And, as the text above indicates, they were successful. The civic pride created by the property and the casino building brought forth the boom times for Lake Worth - the premature growth of the 1920s, and then the most significant impact to development of the city in the 1940s through 1960s - what really can be considered Lake Worth's development peak. Thus, the city that we know today would not be what it was if it weren't for the beach property, the casino building and the other public land in the city.

So what is different now? Many things are not the same as they were. For one, the barrier island has developed to such an extent that it doesn't resemble the conditions that were present when our founding residents established the first casino building. It appears like other areas of the South Florida coastline and is more likely the home for snowbirds nesting in their high-rise condominiums than native birds nesting in the canopy of a coastal hammock.

There are also many other inhabitants of our South Florida region. We are part of a 5 million person urbanized area - all with various interests competing for the same dollars and the attention of tourists and residents alike. We are awash in a sea of multiple distractions. When you add the competition of the entertainment industry, the Internet, making a living, raising a family, other options for recreation, changing demographics - suddenly our beach and casino building gets overcome by the noise of the 21st Century. It becomes part of the background and not part of the foreground as it once was.

The generation that danced the moonlight hours away at the casino is withering away. Those families that built the homes we are living in have, for the most part, up and moved away. Their children dispersed as well. The mom and pop vacation motels and tourists homes that benefited from an attractive beach property are of another era and the structures left behind blight our current landscape. Thus, the notion that the beach is really important to the economic health of our city has lost its original constituency.

It is also interesting that the designation report refers to the city as providing for the recreation needs of the middle class. And, we all know that the middle class is shrinking in the country and more and more it is a choice between the haves and the have nots. How this has played out in Lake Worth is that it is a choice between the new and the old, the nice cars vs. the not-so-nice cars, and disposable incomes vs. the low or very low income groups. The group opposed to the redevelopment of the beach is concerned it will cater to the rich as there are fewer and fewer members of the middle class available. This is a macro-economic trend not unique to Lake Worth, but the city gets caught up in the struggle.

We are left with a diverse and fractured population, many of which do not speak the same language. Years of economic stagnation have left little reserves for the re-investment in public facilities like parks. So the beach becomes a shell of its former self. Full of potential but also wrought with perils. What about the environmental impacts? What about maintaining access to the beach? We need convenient parking! Why is there so much asphalt here? Where is the green space? Why is it so expensive to maintain? Who needs the "best dance floor in Florida" when nobody dances like they did and we have a rampant crime problem that needs attention? How can we stop the ravages of a developer taking away our public beach property and how can we redevelop it with minimal public money?

All those questions lead to a situation that we have now. It becomes a feeding frenzy for those that want an issue to overwhelm the political dialog of the community - to further their ends and not necessarily the ends of the City. Therefore, we spend so much time talking about what we are going to with the beach and what it's going to be that it takes attention away from the real problems on the mainland side of the City - crime, blight, proliferation of gang activity, reliable and economic provision of public utilities. It becomes the perfect diversion from our real problems - but it gives people ample time to point out the weaknesses of the latest beach redevelopment plan.

More and more, I hear people say that they would be willing for Palm Beach County or the Town of Palm Beach to take over our beach property. At least then we could address our real issues and move on as a community. What a sad commentary that once was the city's flagship property now is making its way to the discard pile as we are willing to forfeit our leadership role due to continual infighting.

I am still hopeful that the current plan on the table will go forward and the more progress that is shown and the sooner - all the better.

Company to propose a restoration plan for Lake Worth casino building

Special Truth Matters Show Today at 11:30 a.m.

Show today with Jim Stafford where we'll talk about last night's City Commission meeting - Day Labor Center, the Casino Building and other horrors. Click title for link.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama launches Web site to reach public

Click here for link to web site. Click title for link to CNN piece.

When will our Commissioners and Mayor realize the importance of reaching out to the public in this way?

Let me say this...

As I jumble around in my head the contents of the previous articles, I am hoping that you understand the levels of economic distress there are - in our region, as well as nationwide and even worldwide. This sort of crisis calls for original thinking in order to respond effectively. It calls for a change in how we see government, especially local and quasi-governmental/non-profit agencies. And, it really requires the discarding of old feuds and political divisions. We need to reassess our standing in the marketplace and look at the cold hard realities if we choose to do nothing. The status quo in the way of doing things through institutions - and specifically the city of Lake Worth - must undergo a re-working. It does not make long-term sense to cater and accommodate the low and very low income populations. The focus needs to be on how we preserve our neighborhoods and improve areas of the city through the encouragement of home ownership. In this environment, that would be a challenge for any community. Within in ours, it is more of a challenge due to the loser-take-all (and in the end we all lose) political mentality that pervades within our boundaries.

In terms of our upcoming elections, it also means that it is important to rely on people that you trust, that have clearly identifiable records of public service and those that do not represent extremist groups.

Let's take a step outside our 5 mile by 5 mile city, learn from what others are doing and incorporate the best fit for what will the future Lake Worth.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Compare Commissioner Jennings' Campaign Video with Swearing-in Speech

Cara's Visions for Lake Worth

Click title for swearing-in speech (audio begins at 15 secs.)

A $350,000 jewel of an item courtesy of Commissioner Cara Jennings...

Those of you that subscribe to the city's Tropic-mail service might have received this announcement last week:
The Grand Opening of the Lake Worth Resource Center, located at 1121 Lucerne Avenue, Lake Worth, Florida is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 8, 2008 and is expected to run through 1:00 p.m.

The Lake Worth Resource Center seeks to improve the quality of life for all Lake Worth by bridging and enhancing communication between the different ethnic, cultural and religious groups within the community.

A coalition formed by several agencies, community based organizations and churches (the City of Lake Worth, The Mentoring Center, Palm Beach Community College, Our Lutheran Savior, Cristo Es la Respuesta, Maya Ministry of Diocese of Palm Beach, PBC Environmental Coalition, Buena Fe Center, Maya Quetzal, Grupo Broadway, Lake Worth Global Justice, Organization of Mayan People In Exile, Adopt-A-Family, Interior Dimensions Group, Church of the Nazarene, Trinity Church International, and Society of Friends of the Quaker) have collaborated and joined efforts to find solutions to various social dilemmas and are committed to support the initiative by providing services such as educational programs, immigration orientation and public safety to name a few.

(You really need to check out the links in the above paragraph. Remember, this went out in a city press release.)

The partnership exemplifies what government, community organizations and citizens can do when they join efforts to find solutions to social dilemmas. "Education is the key to economic growth both in family and community and we are very excited about our role at The Lake Worth Resource Center" said Monica Delgado of the Dr. Kathryn W. Davis Global Education Center at PBCC.

The center allows registered workers to meet with registered employers and obtain work for wages. Occupational training, language and literacy instruction, counseling, health education, legal and other services are available to any Lake Worth resident registered with the center. Workers and employers will be educated about their rights and responsibilities while assuring workers are paid fair wages. Additionally, the center provides K-12th grade academic tutorial classes, adult education classes, public safety education programs, and computer education classes in the center's computer lab.

For more information, contact Lisa Wilson, Mentoring Center COO at 561-670-1147
I highlighted some of the above where I thought there were sweeping assumptions or pronouncements that have yet to be proven.

So, on the agenda tomorrow night is item buried again on the consent agenda relating to the $350,000 of un-budgeted city funded improvements to the building that are necessary in order to accommodate this new use in a city recreational facility. Seems that Commissioner Cara Jennings, Commissioner Golden and Mayor Clemens not only ignored the zoning issues involved with the establishment of the Day Labor Center - they also ignored the building code implications from the change of use category from assembly to business. See the following back up material on the item:

In contrast, Compass is leasing a city building and funding over $500,000 (and counting) of improvements including mold eradication and the installation of an elevator. This is coming from Compass' own resources. It should be noted that Commissioner Cara Jennings voted against that lease.

Once the city spends this $350,000 for the roof, windows, access issues and ADA modifications, we will have a facility that will be marginally improved. However, its life may be short due the prospect of a new city hall or other municipal facility on that land. In a sense, spending the money on this building encumbers it longer and makes it less attractive for another municipal use. The phrase "trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" comes to mind.

Oh, and per the press release (one of the precious few issued by the city) it's open for business - lacking required improvements. This also exacerbates the feeling that the City doesn't have to comply with codes it enforces on everyone else. Talk to anyone currently enduring the certificate of use process or doing permitted work through the building department.

So Commissioner Jennings and your ardent supporters, there are more reasons to question the use of this building as a Day Labor Center other than racism. Playing that card - especially on election day - was inappropriate on many levels.

Reminder: City Commission Meeting is on Monday - November 10

Due to the Veteran's Day holiday. Here is the agenda. Notice the last item (S) on the consent agenda. Post to follow:

Editorial from the Palm Beach Post: Can John G's be saved?

Click title for link. This is a picture of what was left of the Casino building after hurricanes in the late 1940s. You can see that the entire second floor is essentially gone. The building as it is now was grafted on to the remains of the original building.

Below is a section of the letter included in the back up material related to the item to be discussed on the City Commission agenda MONDAY night.

Straticon proposes to do structural evaluation services at no cost to the city. They will be using a structural engineer. My question is how many structural studies do we need of this building in order to determine its condition? And, let's say that this report somehow finds the building in better condition than previous reports have documented. What will we have when we are done? Will we have a building that fits the city's and tenants' needs - or if rebuilt (essentially a "new" building) will we have a boutique Palm Beach-like building that might be nice to look at but not be functional in 21st Century terms? And would it make sense to reconstruct on a $ per square foot basis and use public money to do that?

We also have to realize that "Straticon" is a company that makes money by repairing concrete buildings. "Straticon" is not a disinterested party here - it would like to get the work and determining that the building can be repaired would be beneficial and profitable for them. This company does not offer a magic wand. How would we be sure that their numbers are realistic?

I ask again, what would we have when we are done? And, is the building in the best place that it can be on the property? I happen to think that it isn't. And how does this jive with the contract the City has as a public partner in a private/public partnership to re-do the entire beach property and relocate the casino building? Answer: It doesn't. Would the city be in breach of the contract by pursuing this effort? Has anyone from Greater Bay even been involved with this discussion?

As for John Gs, I have little sympathy for their "plight." They have enjoyed below market rent in a city owned building on the beach for 20 plus years. It's an all cash business serving $10 breakfasts. They should be given first right of refusal for any "new" building built there, as a tenant, but little else.

Here is a slide show which shows the different alterations of the building over time in somewhat of a chronological order:

Click here for all beach related posts spanning the past 2 years.

And we can be sure that this was placed on the agenda through a push by Commissioner Cara Jennings to help her adopted commission candidate get press for her "cause" prior to the run-off election.