Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some more thoughts...

...on yesterday's special meeting which included the swearing in of the new District #4 Commissioner. What I keep thinking about are City Manager Baldwin's remarks. When is this guy leaving? Was he ever really here? As I think more about what he said, it helps explain the techno-phobic approach of the Commission and staff. In praise of him, Mr. Baldwin called Commissioner Vespo something like the "electronic" commissioner due to his use of e-mail, being a proponent of wireless Internet technology, etc. He made it seem like all this was "beyond" him and commented about his lack of e-mail use himself (what year is it?). He then gave former Commissioner Vespo a pen so that he could write letters to him instead of e-mail. If Mr. Baldwin stays around, will we be putting in an order for 1000 IBM Selectric typewriters? In retrospect, it seems to be as if it was a kind of "slap" at someone who at least had a grasp of current technology over someone who had no clue - or of someone who was afraid of the trail it creates.

Have you looked at the city's website recently? Have you tried the search function? Have you tried out other city's websites - some with significantly less resources than Lake Worth - and experienced how their sophistication and ease of use is LIGHT YEARS ahead of where we are. Why are all Commissioner packets still delivered in hard copy format? Why can't they be distributed through USB thumb drives?

I'll ask again: When is Mr. Baldwin leaving? Why did we pay him so much money and ask so little of him? Who will be taking his place? I know what my crystal ball has told me and when I share that vision with others they say, "Oh no, we would never hire Mr. Bates." Oh, really?

We shall see.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Florida unemployment highest in 15 years

Swearing in Ceremony for Suzanne Mulvehill - Special Commission meeting 11/21

Click title for audio recording of meeting. Interesting comments by Mr. Baldwin. It started out sounding like a resignation speech but he ended up expressing his disappointment in dealing with one-year Commission terms - he thinks they're are too short. He also had nice things to say about former Commissioner Vespo.

Magnanimous remarks by Dave Vespo saying that he left Lake Worth safer than when his term began.

Commissioner Mulvehill thanked her supporters, holding back tears, and the entire community. Says that we have work to do in many areas - "full public control of our beach." - no commercial tenants? She said that Lake Worth treasures its people, its history and all that the city represents. Then she finished by quoting Socrates saying that we should not fight the past but build the future.

Some interesting people from the 20th Century...

Stumbled upon these on YouTube - geniuses both and involved with planning and the built environment.

And someone on the forefront of human rights and instrumental in the formation of the United Nations.

Boil Water Notices

Effective immediately there is a Boil Water Notice for the following addresses:

1232, 1230, 1226, 1224, 1222, 1220, 1300, 1332 South Dixie Highway

1307, 1319, 1325, and 1331 South L Street

between 5th Avenue North to 8th Avenue North and L and M Streets.

The reason for water interruption is to a repair a water main break. After the water service is restored customers will be under a boil water order and are requested as a precaution, to boil all water for a period of three minutes for drinking and food preparation.

The Dixie Highway addresses will be in effect until 8:30 p.m., Monday, November 24, 2008.

The 5th Avenue North to 8th Avenue North addresses will be in effect until 12:30 p.m., Monday, November 24, 2008.
Residents will be notified if additional water samples need to be taken and if the City needs to extend this notice. Door hangers will be passed out.

If you have any questions please contact the Water Systems Department at (561) 586-1719.

National Intelligence Council report: sun setting on the American century

Click title for link to article.

For an introduction:

Global Trends 2025: The National Intelligence Council’s 2025 Project (PDF; 33.5 MB) (Note: Link is working sporadically due to high volume of downloads. If you have trouble, try back later.)
Source: National Intelligence Council

“Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World” is the fourth unclassified report prepared by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) in recent years that takes a long-term view of the future. It offers a fresh look at how key global trends might develop over the next 15 years to influence world events. Our report is not meant to be an exercise in prediction or crystal ball-gazing. Mindful that there are many possible “futures,” we offer a range of possibilities and potential discontinuities, as a way of opening our minds to developments we might otherwise miss.

Some of our preliminary assessments are highlighted below:

  • The whole international system—as constructed following WWII—will be revolutionized. Not only will new players—Brazil, Russia, India and China— have a seat at the international high table, they will bring new stakes and rules of the game.
  • The unprecedented transfer of wealth roughly from West to East now under way will continue for the foreseeable future.
  • Unprecedented economic growth, coupled with 1.5 billion more people, will put pressure on resources—particularly energy, food, and water—raising the specter of scarcities emerging as demand outstrips supply.
  • The potential for conflict will increase owing partly to political turbulence in parts of the greater Middle East.

Link to Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council Report - 11/12 Draft - TOD Charrette

Click title. It will take you directly to the report .pdf. You can then download it and save it to your hard drive. A "MUST READ!"

Do you doodle?

Cryptic City E-mails re 431 N. L. Street

Is this property finally getting some attention from city staff?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not that it matters now, but...

I just got back from walking my dogs around the neighborhood and bumped into the nice lady that lives across the street. She was asking me what happened in the election last Tuesday. I told her and she was disappointed - both she and her husband voted for Dave V. We had talked long before the November 4th election and I knew they were going to support Dave. However, Sunday before the election, a Suzanne Mulvehill sign appeared on the extreme northeast corner of their property. It was positioned in a way that it was really only visable from my property.

I wonder what they - the people who placed the sign - thought that proved. Just another reason to ban signs since many times they are just put in properties without the property owners permission. My neighbors didn't know what to do since it was before the election - they were afraid to touch it. And Dave V. bought a lot of signs and where did they go by the end of the campaign anyway? Did a big wind come along and just blow away Dave V. signs? Me thinks not. My signs were also disproportionately not represented either by the end of the campaign. Hmmm.

Then I hear stories of Suzanne supporters, some very prominent supporters (ehem), that had small fits thinking that someone touched one of their signs.

I hope they initiate a recycling program and promote it so that these don't end up in the waste stream. Or, don't they care?

A little gift of Disney Magic...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sustainability and Economic Opportunity

RE-POST: This was part of the subject at the CRA meeting tonight - 11/19/08. More on this later along with link to complete report.

This goes back to the Treasure Coast Transit Oriented Development Charrette and the information provided concerning the city of Lake Worth retail market. It is also a look at the city's ability to attract outside money in the form of tourist dollars in relation to that brought in to the total Palm Beach County economy. This information was put together by Robert Gibbs - one of the premier experts in retail markets - especially traditional downtown locations.

I also had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Gibbs during the week that the team was here and I will share some of that conversation as well.

The first thing that impressed him were the number of strengths and positive attributes that we possess as a community.The list above is the list of attributes and amenities that Lake Worth has based upon its geographic, market and socio-economic factors. Anyone of which a regular, garden variety community would covet. We have ten of them. Like me, Mr. Gibbs comes from the Michigan "Rust Belt" and traditionally we have been part of the "Sun Belt" growth economy. While we may be in a slow down now, our prospects for long term future growth are greater in comparison to other regional markets around the United States.

Of course, one of the greatest assets that we have as a community is our unique, historic, small town walkable character. We most definitely are not a "cookie cutter" community. I like to term this - our best quality - as "authenticity." And, as we were made aware of during the charrette, we are situated between two railroad tracks - one that is currently a transit route and one that is planned to become one in the future. Plus, we have two interstate exits - which did not destroy our downtown and beach access, since they are located north and south of Lake and Lucerne Avenues. This was a big factor in the city being able to hold on to its charm and authentic, historic nature.

Need we say more that we have beach front access consisting of our own beach. Regardless of its current condition and the long struggle it represents, it is a tremendous asset in any condition. It could be so much more - click on the "Beach" topic for more information.

Mr. Gibbs also identified the 27,000 student commuter campus at the western edge of the city as another top amenity sought by retailers and investors. We also have the potential for a major employment center within the city in the form of the Lake Worth Park of Commerce.

We have a relatively affordable housing stock in relation to what surrounds the city in the rest of Palm Beach County. We have the potential to tap the wealth of neighboring communities - some of very high wealth - to support more of a retail market within the city. Palm Beach County itself is known as a desirable retail location nationally and internationally. Lake Worth happens to be in the center of it.

Why we have all these strengths that other communities have but have little to show for it in comparison could fill volumes. Maybe that's why there are so many entries in this blog. We could be so much more and have a higher quality of life - not just from an economic point of view - than we have now.

For example, this is how Lake Worth performs in attracting money from general Palm Beach County tourism in comparison to other key locations:

And this is how the city (downtown Lake Worth) compares with other sorts of normal tourist activities:

Imagine the impact that we would feel as a city on an economic basis if we just increased our share for 4 or 5 percentage points. Think of the "new" dollars that we would be bringing into our city economy and the spin-off effect that would have on employment, crime and tax base. How and why have we succeeded in walling ourselves off from the rest of the world? Is that our intent, really? If so, we are suffering the consequences right now.

This is probably the most alarming result from a lack of viable retail choices within the city of Lake Worth. Due to the fact that stores do not exist to meet our needs within the city, we have to get in our fossil fuel burning vehicles and drive for basic necessities. The following is a map Mr. Gibbs prepared showing a 5 mile radius around the city of Lake Worth charrette study area. Only the Boynton Beach mall and Cityplace really entered that radius, but not by a whole lot. Think about the number of trips and the gallons of gas that we would save if we had more retail opportunities available to us within the city.

Now, don't think I am talking about a new mall here or something so out of scale it wouldn't be Lake Worth-y (yuck yuck) Here are the sorts of stores that we could support, according to Mr. Gibbs, that we do not have now:
Here are some of Mr. Gibbs conclusions, based upon his analysis:

Let's review these. The downtown is not a functioning "shopping district" due to the lack of a significant concentration of retail stores - and no significant "anchor." We are under-served for our core goods and services which in turn causes excess travel and the exporting of wealth outside of our city limits. In fact, 90 to 95 percent of our spending is outside the city - how is that sustainable? We live in a very economic prosperous area and still have quite a number of tourists coming to the county, but we capture only 1.3% of spending in Palm Beach County.

So, does our non-friendly reputation for business and our hostile building department cripple our future prosperity and contribute to global warming? Me thinks they do. This information is just from the preliminary report given at the end of charrette week - we will be getting a final report presented to the CRA, Planning and Zoning Board and the City Commission in a few more weeks. In the meantime, consider this food for thought.

Response to one of the comments under a Suzanne Mulvehill post...

This was left under the John Gs post:
Suzanne won.

1. She won by more than 500 votes.
2. She won despite Vespo receiving the endorsements.
3. She won despite the silliness you put up on your site.
I can assure that Cara was quite jolly last night despite the picture you posted of her. However Suzanne was even more excited. It was her night.
And still there was a morning after.
A damn nice one.

As with all the Neo Cons who have to choke and gag when they say President Obama. You have to say Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill. It can be followed up with a desert of Commissioner Cara Jennings. The Walgreens has agreed to stock extra Pepto Bismol.
This really deserves a response where everyone is able to see it easily. First of all, I - and the rest of Lake Worth - acknowledge that Suzanne Mulvehill won and is now Commissioner-elect, representing District #4 in the City of Lake Worth. You will have to admit that it's an absurd notion that the run-off represents the "majority" given the moving of the election to November. This is not trying to offer an excuse for the results being what they were, but it is evidence that the run-off election is superfluous at best. How can 2,999 people represent more of the majority of the electorate than the 8,000 that came out in the general election held on November 4th? All the run-off tells us is that given the choice of these two candidates, those that came out on November 18th chose Mulvehill over Vespo nearly 60/40 percent. Can we stop thinking that somehow the run-off election creates some magic notion that a majority of voters in Lake Worth supports one candidate over another? I suggest we find a workable way to address this situation and possibly eliminate the run-off through a second choice selection the day of the general election when most people come out. Again, nothing about this election was "invalid" - the choice was a result of the rules in place at the time the election happened. Congratulations to Suzanne and her supporters for getting their people out to vote.

Secondly, let's talk about the subject of endorsements. I had a whole slew of them in my campaign last year for the District #3 seat, but for the Palm Beach Post. Even they were on the "fence" in their endorsement, but settled on Jo Ann Golden in the end. Endorsements are important, but they are not the thing that gets you elected. What does is the organization and database that a campaign has to identify voters and how they are able to motivate them to get to the polls on election day(s). That is something that Cara, Jo Ann and Suzanne's crew has down to a science now. They continue to up the ante in every election or cause where walking/knocking on doors is required.

Thirdly, laughter is the best medicine. This was a very tough loss for soon to be former Commissioner Vespo, his family and supporters. If we can't or couldn't laugh at our collective selves, then the world would be a pretty dismal place. I hope the person that left the comment doesn't think all the content on this site is "silliness" - there are a lot of very important issues raised here. It's important to point out the hypocrisies of candidates and commissioners that scream "corruption" at the top of their lungs and then accept campaign contributions from people who will have items coming before them should they be elected. You know the saying, "People living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." Just look at some of the topics covered here and you will see that it is not "silliness" for the most part, but from time to time I must warn you that there will be an attempt at levity. Please indulge me in this decidedly human trait.

Personally, I think it would do Cara well to lighten up and not be so morose, but she's a Scorpio and they are prone to that sort of demeanor.

I am glad that you all had a nice time celebrating your hard work last night. Havana Hideout is a fun place and nice to have in our downtown.

Fourthly, and this is one that really gets my goat: Don't assume that because I voted for Dave Vespo that I am a "Neo Con" that has trouble saying President-elect Obama. I voted for Obama and have voted for every Democratic candidate for President since I could vote. I have very liberal social policy beliefs and dislike those that interfere in the private lives of people for what they think are "moral" reasons. This was a local, non-partisan race. Dave Vespo as Commissioner had a great record in addressing the issues that concerned me most. That's why I voted for him. I wish that Commissioner Jennings, the de-facto head of your "party", would understand that there are many law abiding citizens that give a lot of time in service to their community and just because they dont' agree with her are not "corrupt", "Neo Cons", or "sleazy lackeys for corporate greed and fascist xenophobia" (that was a label put on me by p. tsolkas), etc. If she would acknowledge that and value the contributions of all people that live in Lake Worth, this would be a much better place to live, work and play. Where is your olive branch Suzanne and Cara?

And Walgreens can stock up on all the Pepto Bismol it wants, I won't be needing it.

Special City Commission Meeting - Swearing in of New Commissioner - 11/21

In Celebration of Suzanne's Victory - Special at John Gs today: $9.25 Club Sandwiches!

Watch them achieve more revenue in the next
three months than they did all last year!

There's Got to be a Morning After...

There's got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let's keep on lookin' for the light

Oh, can't you see the morning after
It's waiting right outside the storm
Why don't we cross the bridge together
And find a place that's safe and warm

It's not too late, we should be giving
Only with love can we climb
It's not too late, not while we're living
Let's put our hands out in time

There's got to be a morning after
We're moving closer to the shore
I know we'll be there by tomorrow
And we'll escape the darkness
We won't be searchin' any more

There's got to be a morning after
(There's got to be a morning after)

"Everybody's got to be smiling, just like their finger, just like the smile on your finger...."

Get ready to use your fingers Lake Worth - meet your new District 4 Commissioner.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Suzanne Mulvehill - What is she hiding from?

First we get the news from City Clerk Pam Lopez that she didn't file her run-off election treasurer's report in time therefore denying the public access to information about who funded her immense run-off campaign. Then, I get this text message from Maura Hennesey who attended the Bryant Park Homeowners Association meeting tonight. This is her report:
I'm at the Bryant park neighborhood assoc and dave vespo is here but suzanne mulville is not. She declined minutes before. Dave Vespo did great! Really great!
please vote tommorrow in the run off and tell your neighbors , please it's really really important for our city ! Your friend and neighbor, Maura
This is not what we need from a Commissioner - someone who cancels an engagement at the last minute - perhaps in order to avoid having to address what is actually being said by her legions at our neighbors' doors. Who are these people that have been pounding our doors down anyway?

A grisly story and timely reminder to vote for Dave Vespo from Maura Hennesey

Dear Lake Worth Friends,

I have a little crime story that had a happy ending. I was on my way to the Wellington 10 miler Race last month. As I came out on Dixie I saw a guy chasing another guy with a crowbar and he had the look of murder in his eyes. If you haven’t seen this look, think of Freddie Kruger on a really bad day. It was a miracle I didn’t hit both guys in my sleepy slumber at 5am. I make a quick U turn and called 911.

I couldn’t locate the crowbar attacker or his victim who was begging for his life according to the body language I saw. I drove around for awhile and couldn’t find them, went home and got sick.

Once I was composed, I headed back out again for the race only to find multiple Palm Beach County Sheriff’s and an ambulance. I asked if this was from the call about the crowbar attack and they said yes. I pulled over explained I was the witness and I did a police report. They had already caught the guy!!! They pulled him out of the car for me to identify him and it was crazy eyes. His victim was taken to the hospital with head injuries and his condition was serious but he will be OK.

Crazy eyes was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and possibly a hate crime. The victim was a gay man and the crowbar attacker kept yelling anti gay slurs while he beat him with the crowbar. This happened on Dixie just outside College Park. After doing the Police Report and making my eye witness ID, I was very pumped up. Went out to Wellington and ran like the wind! I did 10 miles in 1 hour 27 minutes. That was one happy ending. I visited the victim Jose in the hospital and he was going to be released and he will be OK, the real happy ending.

The moral of the story other then trying to stop an attack and running like the wind is we have a crime problem that we need serious help.

Dave Vespo brought the PBCSO to Lake Worth. The Lake Worth Police took a pay cut so they could be part of the merger. I have spoken to many police officers and they feel that their lives were at risk every night because of the limited # of police on the street before the merger and our crime problem. We are only 2nd in crime problems to Riviera Beach. After living in Lake Worth during the mid to late 80’s I can tell you, it can get very bad very quickly. The fact that Dave Vespo cared enough to Fight the hard Fight to bring in Palm Beach County Sheriff’s should get him re elected.

Please go out to the polls tomorrow Tuesday November 18th and vote.

If you wan to go for a run let me know, I’m always up for it, beginners are always welcome and I promise not to go hunting for crowbar attackers to get pumped up for a race.

Your Neighbor and Friend,

Maura Hennessey

Note from Wes: I heard about this story from someone who owns a business on North Dixie Highway. They too commented on the speed and professisonalism in how the entire situation was handled by the PBSCO. Something that Maura didn't mention - Suzanne Mulvehill would have been against the Sheriff department merger, right in line with Cara Jennings and Jo Ann Golden - her biggest supporters. Vote Dave Vespo tomorrow for two more solid years of service!

No Treasurer's Report from Suzanne Mulvehill Campaign for Run-off Election

Per e-mail from City Clerk Pam Lopez at 4:15 p.m. today.

Hmmmmm. I guess the voting public is denied knowing the extent of her special interest contributions and how many beach tenant related contributions she used to fund her sign and mailing blitz.

Special Treat - Connie Talbot singing "Over the Rainbow"

She was runner-up in Britain's Got Talent competition and will have a holiday album out soon.

It's a tie between her and the puppies as to who is cuter!

Thank you Commissioner Cara Jennings for appearing at the Amendment 2 protest

This is her speech that took place about midway through the gathering. I do sincerely thank her for appearing before the group and representing the City of Lake Worth and the City Commission. The crowd and the organizers were clear that the City of Lake Worth was not the problem - especially as it relates to passage of Amendment 2. Many there commented that it would be great if all of Florida and the nation were more like Lake Worth in recognizing all sorts of human adult relationships and not discriminating between one form or another.

But, I do want to point a few things out regarding the content of Commissioner Jennings' comments, her record on GLBT issues and her quick shirt change prior to speaking.

She correctly points out that the City Commission passed a resolution opposing passage of Amendment 2. However, she didn't say they did that unanimously - which they did. This nuance left people to question if there was someone who did not vote for the resolution. It would have been magnanimous of Cara to mention the unanimous vote, especially since she was wearing the t-shirt of an opponent of a current City Commissioner who also voted in support of the resolution.

And, Commissioner Dave Vespo is endorsed by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council and neither Commissioner Cara Jennings or Suzanne Mulvehill were endorsed by them. This is a guess, but most likely the lack of endorsement on Commissoner Jennings' part was due to her "no" vote on the Compass lease and her disingenuous negotiations related to the lease. As for Suzanne Mulvehill, I think it's due to her being an unknown quantity and lack of a track record. It is also due to Commissioner Dave Vespo's strong pro-GLBT voting record.

The other odd thing that Commissioner Jennings said in her remarks had to do with a concept that the majority shouldn't be making rules for the minority. Let's hope she remembers this if the candidate she is backing happens to win the run-off election tomorrow.

Let's also hope that in her second term she is able to put more action behind her words in support of the GLBT community.

Slideshow from Saturday's Amendment 2 Protest

Lake Worth voters back at polls Tuesday

PB Post article from today - click for link. I wish they wouldn't use the word "restore" when they talk about about the casino building and returning it to the 1920s design. It is actually a reconstruction - you can't restore something that is not there to begin with. Again, a picture of the original design after hurricanes of the late 1940s.
But this group has never been known for letting facts get in the way of their message. I guess that's what you get for the money.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Special Truth Matters Show Today at 7 p.m.

Click title for link. Jim Stafford and I will be getting together for a show this evening. I will post the re-run when the show is uploaded. You can imagine the topics as we head towards the run-off election on Tuesday.

Seen inside John G's...

Estimated Taxpayer Subsidy for One Beach Tenant with 2,500 square feet over 35 years:

This is part of an e-mail message I put together after the 11/10 City Commission meeting:
Last night as I was leaving after the casino building discussion, Suzanne Mulvehill grabbed me and introduced me to Wendy Yarborough - an owner of John Gs. Suzanne asked excitedly, "So what do you think about this?" (meaning the Commission allowing "Straticon" to go forward, explore the building's structure and come up with a price for "free") - I told her that it wasn't going to be an objective evaluation on whether the building could be saved or not because this company wants the business. I also told them that no one is asking if the building we would end up with would actually meet our needs and who is going to pay for it.

Then asked Wendy if she knew what retail/restaurant oceanfront space was going for. She said she did. (I am guessing at least $50 a square foot at a minimum) I told her the difference between that and what they have been paying (lets say $18?) amounts to a subsidy from the citizen's of Lake Worth. Suzanne then said that made it sound like the tenant's fault. I said that ultimately it is the city's fault but that over the years John Gs has influenced the political process around here to make sure that situation stayed the same - so one hand washes the other. Then I looked at Suzanne and said this is your special interest you're representing. She then said that at least they have good french toast.
So I did a quick and dirty analysis. Assuming that the annual lease rate for the casino building space is $18 per square foot and that the "market" rate is $50 per square foot for oceanfront retail/restaurant space, what does that subsidy amount to over a span of 35 years? That is the length of time that John Gs has been a tenant there. See below:

Without figuring in inflation but reducing the cumulative subsidy by 70% to compensate for that results in an approximate subsidy by the tax paying residents of the City of Lake Worth of around $2,000,000. This represents just one tenant that has 2,500 square feet of space. What if that money had been available to maintain the building the way it should be maintained?

That's pretty expensive french toast Suzanne, regardless of how you slice it.

As if there was any doubt...

From the rally yesterday in front of City Hall. Proof that a vote for Suzanne Mulvehill is a vote for another Cara Jennings on the Commission. Use your vote wisely. Commissioner Jennings said that the majority should not impose their rules on the minority. Isn't that what she will be doing if Suzanne wins in the run-off?

Who is Suzanne anyway?