Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Dimensions in Mass Transit...

Miscellaneous ramblings...

I thought it would be good to catch up on a couple of things. I hope that you have a safe New Year's Eve and a prosperous/healthy 2010.

Thanks for your continued loyal readership and I am delighted to see people using the comment feature more. I do moderate comments and have had a very liberal policy in accepting them for publication. For the immediate future, I will continue allow "anonymous" comments, but may re-evaluate that in the future if it becomes problematic.

I enjoyed walking downtown today and bumping into so many familiar faces. The place was bustling and people seemed to be in a holiday frame of mind. Last night, I was reminded that we do live in a dangerous world and that we take our own personal safety for granted many times. A friend of mine had just dined at Smokey Bones in Wellington and was in the parking lot waiting for a cab. As he was getting in the cab, someone came from behind and grabbed his wallet that was in his hand. Instinct kicked in at that moment and he chased after the guy, tackling him in the parking lot. A scuffle ensued and the mugger got up and kicked my friend in the back of the head, knocking him out. The police and paramedics came and he ended spending the night at Wellington Regional under observation. The good news is that he is okay, but he did lose the contents of his wallet in the process. He's still shaken up over the event. Apparently there have been a couple of similar instances in that area recently.

Now, on a more mundane topic, I had the City come by twice this week to check my water meter. Two days in a row, by two different people that didn't know that the other one was checking it too. I was the only house on the street for such special treatment. I don't use that much water (last month was 2,000 gallons) - I live alone, take one shower a day and do laundry as needed - period. I'm not sure if I'm singled out due to my frugal water use or what - just thought it was unusual.

Thanks again for visiting here. Have fun tonight!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

12:45 p.m.

Sheriff helicopter is flying over College Park. Just came back from walking the dogs and, while outside, a cruiser came by. The officer said that they are looking for a black male in a white t-shirt. FYI.

Not particularly encouraging...

Our City Attorney is asking for "advise."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Appropriate for the New Year - Ring out, wild bells - Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Click here for a link to all the mega-cool computer applications the City of San Francisco has developed


The DataSF App Showcase celebrates the innovators and innovations who are championing their Mayor’s vision of a more collaborative and open government. The public can browse examples of new ways in which Bay Area constituents are using City data to improve San Francisco.

Another totalitarian regime at work...

Suggested Readings

These come from Mark A. Parrilla, a regular blog reader:

Libs Scold Black Conservatives: “Who the “H” Do You Think You Are?


Click image for legibility.
Thank you Mark for your contributions.

Product of bureaucratic bumbling and not living up to our agreements...

This has to do with Lake Worth being the administrator of this regional sewer system, not charging municipal clients for maintenance over time (10 years), billing the entire amount in arrears to each without communication, etc., etc., etc. We also had to take a loan out to pay for the maintenance improvements through SunTrust, which we are currently in violation of certain loan covenants. The action above would provide representation for all the municipal clients. I have heard they are calling for a forensic audit of the sewer fund.

January 2010 City Meetings

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mike Lopresti, sportswriter

"Those with the luxury of second and third and fourth guesses sit in perpetual judgment of those who only get one." in reacting to Florida football coach Urban Meyer's situation.

Click here for link to CRA Winter Newsletter

State advises Volusia to kill massive growth plan

Click title for link to Daytona Beach News Journal article: From it:

"The state planning agency has been flooded with similar requests this year as developers and governments rush to make changes before the Hometown Democracy constitutional amendment goes to voters in the fall. The amendment is widely expected to slow growth if passed."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thomas Mann

"Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols."

Lake Worth's Challenge:

While surfing around the Internet, I stumbled upon this graphic. In thinking it through, I believe that we could learn something about ourselves as a City by studying it. For those interested, this graphic is part of the public domain - a truth.

It seems to me that there is a war going on in our City against knowledge and the truth. There are those that think acting solely on beliefs will make something so or that a desired end can be achieved. This can be effective in the short term and particularly effective in political campaigns. But, over the long term, one cannot run away from the facts, or the truth. The eventual "day of reckoning" dawns. Many times it presents itself as a bitter pill that we all must swallow.

It is no accident that truth is one of the first causalities of an authoritarian regime. It is also no coincidence that those with "knowledge" are persecuted under such a political system as they might be sources of the "truth" that counter the accepted and prevailing "belief" structure perpetrated by the regime. There is no truth other than the belief structure or world view of that regime - anything else is considered blasphemy.

How far down this dangerous path is Lake Worth city government and its political atmosphere, generated by our elected and appointed leaders? I have my own set of examples which I will share, but am sensitive about not becoming too "preachy" about this topic. So, rather than lay it all out here and now, I encourage you to offer your views on the subject and I will respond with some of my examples along the way. What I hope to get to is at least a realization that knowledge is indeed power and that we need to find ways to preserve that in our deliberative process - hoping that will allow us a better opportunity to address the REALITIES that we face as a city, instead of furthering the "beliefs" of those that represent us.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

You know...

I'm not sure what you think about these heads of state doing videos such as the ones that President Obama and Queen Elizabeth did for the Christmas holiday. I think they are important tools to communicate some broad themes and ideas to the world. One thing that we have missed for the past two or three years is a State of the City address by the Mayor. Our former Mayor didn't like to lead or take responsibility for much of anything and a State of the City address for him would have really been going out on a limb. I hope that our new Mayor re-institutes the practice in a way that is meaningful and not just a puff piece put together by the City Manager.

So, Mayor Varela, if you are listening, that is my challenge to you for the new year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Direct democracy - The tyranny of the majority

Click title for link to an article in the Economist regarding ballot initiatives. The focus of the article is on California, but has implications for Florida as well. From the article:

"Put differently, it is the “tyranny of the majority” that James Madison, a Founding Father, warned about. His reading of ancient history was that the direct democracy of Athens was erratic and short-lived, whereas republican Rome remained stable for much longer. He even worried about using the word “democracy” at all, lest citizens confuse its representative (ie, republican) form with its direct one. “Democracy never lasts long,” wrote John Adams, another Founding Father. Asked what government the federal constitution of 1787 had established, Benjamin Franklin responded: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Something for your holiday get-togethers...

When I lived in East Lansing, Michigan, a college town with a lot of good and funky restaurants, I would frequent a Mexican restaurant called "El Azteco" If you ever have an occasion to go there, you must try their cheese dip. You can get it as an appetizer with corn chips, but they also use it as a base for their cheese enchiladas. It really is somewhat of a local legend and many people have tried to duplicate the "secret recipe," with varying degrees of success or failure. I have tried one recipe, but always felt that it wasn't quite right and that the holy grail was still left to achieve.

However, I have been assured that the following recipe is the REAL thing and will be trying it out sometime over the weekend. The important thing to remember is to let it sit in the refrigerator for a day at least - so that the flavors congeal.

Enjoy - let me know what you think of it!


16 oz sour cream
16 oz cottage cheese
16 oz shredded Monteray Jack Cheese
one dash worshteshire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 bag lipton onion soup mix minus the dried onions (you'll end up with just under 2 teaspoons of the spices)
3 minced jalapenos minus the seeds
1 and 1/2 bunches of scallions chopped.
I mix the sour cream, cottage cheese and then the W sauce, garlic powder, and onion soup mix. Stir it up and then I add the veggies and the Monteray Jack cheese last to thicken it up. It really does taste better the second day!

Is the City in such denial that it is erasing history?

Remember this closed-door City Commission meeting on the Greater Bay lawsuit? It was held December 9. Here is the list of City Commission meeting agendas as printed off the City's website today. Where is December 9th?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

North Miami Beach Hopes To Restore 1925 Fountain

Click title for link.

Publix pays $3.4 million for land on Dixie in Lake Worth

Click title for link to PB Post article.

Paul Boese

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”

PHOTOS Turned on: FGCU solar field switched on to provide power to part of campus

Click title for link to article and additional photos. If video is not working for you, click here to go to source page.

We should get a report from Commissioner Jennings on how our prototype project for ocean energy generation with Florida Atlantic University is doing. We heard a lot about it during her last campaign.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Census-centered afternoon...

Last week, I put action behind the notion to get involved in the Census. The Census is so central to much of what urban planners do, I had an interest in working to some extent in the effort - long before the local brouhaha - and my work flow was such that I had the time available. I called the local office, scheduling an appointment for this past Monday. There was some back and forth message leaving, but someone does eventually get back to you. The local number of the Census office is 561 207 7930.

They told me to go to the Trinity Church on Military Trail, south of Hypoluxo, at 1 p.m. They made a big deal about bringing the required identification for completion of an I-9 form and that you could go on-line to get an application. They said it was a good idea to complete the items before, but that it would still take some time to process everyone that was attending at that time. They indicated that the test would be given then and there. There were sample questions that you could check out as well on-line.

I show up Monday around 12:30 p.m. and the location turned out to be in temporary buildings in the Trinity Church parking lot. I entered one of the nondescript trailers and the room was filled with people sitting anywhere they could in the small room. Most were at a series of four or five long tables, others in waiting room chairs and others standing in line. The ones in line, it turns out, were waiting to have their local code determined, based upon where they lived. This was not at all clear what was actually going on at the time, but those that were already there (and very early for a 1 p.m. appointment) told the rest. Once you met with the representative to determine your code, you were given a folder with an I-9 form and an application. This whole process took about 45 mins from the time that I entered the room.

It was clear that the Census representative seemed overwhelmed at the number of people in attendance (from all over Palm Beach County) and expressed frustration that so many had been told to be there at that particular time and location. He expected about 20 and there were actually 35 that ended up staying the entire afternoon.

After that, a very tedious process began where everyone had to individually approach the Census representative with their proofs of identification. He had to certify each document on the I-9 form. If there was a discrepancy in some document, it took more time. This process took about 1 hour and 15 mins.

By 3 p.m., we went line by line through the application form so that people could check their filled out forms to see if they were correct and so that others could fill theirs out if they hadn't done so before. There were many questions from the group during this process - which took about another 45 mins. We then took a break and gathered back in the room to take the exam.

The exam is 28 questions and you have to get at least 10 correct in order to pass. I found it a bit tricky and you really have to be thorough and deliberate in reading the instructions for each question and looking at all of the four multiple choice answers. Skills necessary for the Census to be sure. I had enough time to finish, but others I could tell felt rushed and some did not finish all of the exam. The representative determined immediately after the exam was finished who passed and who failed (five did not pass from our group.) Those that passed were told as we left that we would be "in the pool" and would be getting a call later in February, subject to our background checks going through and we would be given instructions on what to do then.

Once you are in, a couple days worth of training is given at various times during the week or on weekends. You are paid for your time in training. Emphasis was placed on the fact that this is mostly a self-paced, temporary, part-time job that may last three or four months at the most. Most of what we would be doing would be the collection of Census information at doorsteps.

If your schedule allows you to take part in this effort, I would encourage you to do so as it is one of the important foundations of our representative democracy. I'll keep you posted on what happens from here on out.

Check out this presentation sent to me by a colleague...

Use pause as needed to read text.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Special City Commission Meeting - 5:00 p.m. today (12/21)

Click title for back-up. Both these items are following direction given by the Commission at previous meetings. If you intend to attend, note that the meeting is at the Osborne Center.

Despite economy, Pinellas beaches still draw visitors from abroad

Click here for link. Below is an excerpt from the article:

"Pinellas received 403,019 visitors from the area’s top overseas markets — the United Kingdom and Ireland...But Germany along with Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands accounted for 186,333 visitors in the same period, up 1.4 percent from 2008."

"Statewide numbers from Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing corporation, show that tourism from the United Kingdom was down about 16 percent and tourism from Germany was down about 11 percent for the first two quarters of 2009."

What are we doing to get a portion of this tourism revenue? Is the Michael Singer plan really up to the task?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Tom Ramiccio dismissed from Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce.

For information on the piece by Grieg and the artwork used in the YouTube video, please refer to the liner notes contained on the YouTube website.

Benefit Dinner for Trevor Guevara

On Wednesday, January 13th, from 5:00pm to 8:00pm, at the Murray Hills Ballroom located at 3240 Cynthia Lane the Residents of Lake Osborne Heights (ROLOH) Neighborhood Association and Citizen Observer Patrol (COP) organization will be holding a benefit spaghetti dinner that will include a salad, non-alcoholic beverage and dessert. Tickets will be $7 in advance and $8 at the door. Proceeds will Benefit Lake Worth citizen and PBSO COP, Trevor Guevara. Trevor’s wife is in need of medical transport to bring her from the Northern United States to Lake Worth so she can be with her family.
If you are interested in buying tickets or assisting in the sale of tickets for this event, please email
ROLOH Neighborhood Association

Lake Worth commissioners OK $250,000 loan for gay, lesbian center Compass

Click title for link to PB Post article. I was able to hear most of the meeting over the Internet while working yesterday morning - missed a little bit of the end. It seems to be a reasonable solution to an unfortunate problem - having to do more improvements to the building than originally anticipated due to deferred or no maintenance by the City or the County - and triggering 2008 code compliance due to exceeding 33% of the building's value.

Much blame was heaped upon officials that are no longer with the City, so they couldn't defend themselves.

Overall, this represents a sound solution to a complex set of circumstances.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Good News Department: Energy Audit Testimonial

From a resident: "I contacted the utility department at 586 1665 to setup an “Energy Audit” of my new house on Lakeside. The appointment was scheduled for 9am and the two gentlemen showed up exactly on time. They spent over two hours going through everything in my house. I was with them the entire time and they did a very thorough job. They were very patient answering all my questions. I was quite impressed. They were very knowledgeable and gave me several ideas to lower my electric and water usage. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this free service. They even leave a kit with some energy efficient items and literature. They will also do a full report and come back to review it with me. It was a very positive experience and I wanted to share. This is a new program and I hope more people will take advantage of it."

Brendan Lynch

Another 10 a.m. City Commission meeting today - this time re Compass

Click title for back-up. Click here for live Internet stream during meeting.

Churchill's "Iron Curtain" Speech

Miami Herald asks online readers for donations

Click title for link to AP article.

Lake Worth's census coordinator resigns amid swirl of e-mails, politics

Click title for link to PB Post article.

"Much blood has been spilled at the altar of objectivity," Karson said in a letter read by Vice Mayor Jo-Ann Golden. "It's important to remember there are 30,000 residents who have not sent e-mails."


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Add/Delete for tonight's (12/15) City Commission meeting...

Notice item (F) under new business - a continuation of the Karson/Coolican caper concerning the Census Complete Count Committee. Commissioner Golden (see memo below) is asking the Commission to put this on the agenda to "give direction" to the City Manager regarding retaining Ms. Karson and Ms. Coolican in the city's employ. The way the City Manager/Commission form of government works is that the City Manager is the one that hires and fires staff - not the Commission. To even put this on the agenda is perverting one of the foundations of our city government - if "direction" is given and no action is taken before, who knows what will happen.

Film at 11.

Below is a "draft" memo from the City Manager regarding the matter. In it she says that she will be terminating Ms. Karson and asking that the Community Relations Board (CRB) take over the Complete Count task (a good idea!) This was read into the record last night at the CRB's meeting. Expect this to be a source of discussion if the above item makes it on the agenda.

A must read!

Christopher Morley

"Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not in Lake Worth, but worth seeing...

Amazing Grace Techno - Computer Controlled Christmas Lights from Richard Holdman on Vimeo.

A handy term to know in Lake Worth:

  1. A smoked herring having a reddish color.
  2. Something that draws attention away from the central issue.

[From its use to distract hunting dogs from the trail.]

Community Relations Board

The Community Relations Board meeting time is 6 p.m. at City Hall on the second Monday of every month. Tonight, the Planning and Zoning Board met for a short meeting, recommending approval of the plat for the future Publix property. Their meeting was over around 6:15 p.m. and I was able to listen to it over the Internet stream. There is no audio stream for the Community Relations Board meeting. Click here for area under Volunteer Boards for a description of the board. The only link available is a log of the members of the board. There is no agenda available.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blog Users:

FYI - I have changed the settings for comments so you have go through an authentication step - just type the word that you see and that should be all you need to do. The blog was being hit by a lot of "bots" - hoping this cures the issue. Let me know if you experience a problem.

You'll notice that I added back the world map showing real time and historical blog hits. There was a bug that has been fixed and it seems to be working o.k. now.

Thanks for visiting!

Rare Commodity in Lake Worth - the Truth...

Case in point: The situation surrounding the hiring of Annabeth Karson and Shauna Coolican as chair and assistant to the 2010 Census Complete Count Committee.

Let me say at the outset that I am completely for promotion of the Census effort and looking for ways of identifying groups that have been traditionally under-counted in the Census. In fact, there is a lot of evidence that Lake Worth has experienced under-counting in past Censuses and we have all experienced the effect of that. It amounts to under-representation in the state and national legislative fields and under-funding in potential Federal and other programs that base need on Census data. Indeed, many of the bases of the planning profession are founded on the compilation of sound Census data. Its main purpose being to get a sense of the real and TRUE picture of community populations throughout our country.

So, there is reason for organization and oversight of the Census count process on the City of Lake Worth level.

But, then it comes down to how the city goes about it. The suggestion to utilize Annabeth Karson came from none other than Commissioner Golden, who obviously was impressed with Ms. Karson's organizational abilities and voter identification efforts in her recent campaign and the campaign of Laurence McNamara - Commissioner Golden's choice for Mayor. What better way to reward the efforts of a tireless campaign worker than to put her in the public eye in an attempt to build some legitimacy and get her out amongst the "people" - most of which probably know her on a first name basis anyway from her frequent campaign appearances at residents' front doors. Being an official representative of the City would surely help in future campaign efforts. I have cited a good working definition of political patronage in a previous post and our local example could be found in a textbook on the subject.

For the record, I was also one of the "crooked candidates" identified in a flier - along with former Commissioner Lowe and former Mayor Clemens - circulated throughout the city by Ms. Karson in the 2007 election cycle.

It turns out that Ms. Karson required payment for her services in this effort and an assistant. This is where City Manager Stanton stepped in and "advertised" the positions. Depending on who you talk to, Ms. Karson was the only applicant or up to one of eight applicants. I know two people personally who applied for the position but were not called for an "interview." Neither of the two that I know of worked on recent campaigns to a great degree. Public information requests made by a concerned citizen yielded incomplete information - this avoided shedding light on the truth.

At a Commission workshop, Commissioner Jennings - in response to e-mails she received against the hiring, added this matter to the agenda for discussion and direction to the city manager on keeping Ms. Karson in this position. The split was of the 3-2 variety, with the expected elected officials falling in line with expectations. It was then left to City Manager Stanton to "handle" the problem.

Additional e-mails against the hire were sent to City Manager Stanton. By this time, word had gotten to Ms. Karson and her assistant who, thinking their jobs were in peril, sent out e-mails soliciting support for them to remain in these posts. These e-mails were probably to the same people they communicated consistently with through the campaigns. City Manager Stanton in her weekly report dated December 11, 2009 includes nearly 44 e-mails that she received regarding the issue. Only five (5) urge that she reverse her decision on the hire. She said that this was all and that they were listed chronologically. However, she deleted the usual date and time sent on the e-mails, along with the names of the people that sent the e-mails in this report. Other e-mails were sent against the hire do not appear on the list. There is also no indication of the action she will take or not take regarding the situation.

Today, we are left with an incomplete picture of the public record regarding this important matter. In public service at the local government level, staff is expected to relay factual and complete information to residents, elected officials and employees. Slanting that information one way or another not consistent with the facts is tantamount to lying. Publishing these e-mails without the entire information and not publishing others is being dishonest to the community our City Manager serves. We have left an anonymous attack and defense of the already made decision - something that is corrosive when employed by a local government in an official way.

Regardless of what you think about the matter - the fact that we are having this discussion at all should serve notice to those who think that it is o.k. to hire a political operative in a position that requires neutrality and even-handedness - not "slight of the hand."

Can we have the whole truth, please?

City Commission Agenda 12/15 Meeting - Click here for complete back-up

Fairly light agenda...most likely due to holiday period.

From the NY Times: Houston Is Largest City to Elect Openly Gay Mayor

Houston Is Largest City to Elect Openly Gay Mayor
Published: December 13, 2009
The city controller, Annise Parker, who avoided making an issue of her sexual orientation, won a run-off election.

Click title for link to full article. Click here for link to her website where she thanks Houstonians for her victory.

A good day at the beach as Lake Worth puts conflicts aside

A good day at the beach as Lake Worth puts conflicts aside

The Palm Beach Post editorial board once again proves that there is insufficient fresh air delivery within their paneled corner offices. What we have, for 30 years, is a new County parking lot(s) at our beach, some landscaping and infrastructure improvements that we will never see and have a more difficult time appreciating. And, the whole project and point is most likely moot now due to the foibles of the City Commission in exiting the contract unilaterally with Greater Bay. Good luck City in the defense of the indefensible.

The rehabilitation of the Casino building is nothing but a fool's errand and I am sure that the potential respondents to the architectural RFQ will soon, if they haven't already, come to the same conclusion. The residents and the future of Lake Worth take another couple of hits.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Interaction with Commissioner Mulvehill...(Re-Post)

This is a post from last September. I thought it would be good to bring it forward as Commissioner Mulvehill has put together an early campaign-like "Seasons' Greetings" e-mail.

Last Friday, while at Park(ing) Day, Commissioner Mulvehill stopped by where I was sitting and started talking about an e-mail she sent around regarding how some historic districts in Florida are threatened due to incompatible new development and she was worried about Lake Worth losing our historic designation. You can see a copy of her e-mail by clicking the title to this post.

She then mentioned an 82 foot high building in downtown as a prime example. I asked which one that was. She pointed and said, "The Lucerne." I told her that I knew that building was 65 feet to the inch and many decorative elements had to be removed in order to make it come in at that height. Buildings do not usually grow by themselves after they are built, but apparently can in the minds of elected officials if it suits their purpose. If you want to raise hysteria about height, make up the height of a building so people think its 17 feet taller than it actually is.

I am listening to the CD of the meeting this past Monday and that figure comes from Commissioner Jennings at the 49:05 minute mark. She said, "We don't want more Lucerne Condos...which by the way I found out that it's eighty-two feet tall, not 65 feet. I don't know how it got up to eighty two but look how that happens."

Note: The Lucerne turned out to be 65 feet - the 82 feet was the height as measured from sea level. This was never corrected on the public record.

Back to Commissioner Mulvehill's e-mail, in it she cites downtown St. Augustine as an example. Apparently, this oldest city in the U.S. - founded in 1565 has had new and incompatible construction within the district recently. It is NOT in jeopardy of losing its status, it is simply being resurveyed and restudied "in order to help the community of St. Augustine deal with new development."

She also cites the Pensacola Navel Air Station. As a result of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the Navy demolished all but 16 of 55 historic structures. This is no way relates to what has happened or what could happen in Lake Worth - save for a devastating hurricane or Act of God.

She also mentions Ybor City - in the Tampa area as a district that is threatened. But it turns out that is due to new construction and relocation of buildings due to a highway project - again not applicable to our circumstance.

Her Preserve America designation proposal is one that is worth pursuing, but it is more of an honorary title and would not add any additional layer of enforcement. In fact we are a Certified Local Government (CLG) and meet many of the requirements already.

I meet with Commissioner Mulvehill tomorrow regarding the proposed changes in the Comprehensive Plan. I hope to at least ratchet down the level of hysteria a couple notches.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Remember - 10th Avenue Ribbon Cutting Today

10th Ave. North Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Friday, December
11 at 1:30pm.!!!
Location: Corner of E Street and
10th Ave. North.

Regarding the signage and the use of the "quotation marks" for the lettered streets, I have confirmed that this is the new Florida Department of Transportation standard and all streets signs from now on will be made according to these new guidelines.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Definition and History of...

Political patronage

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Lake Worth Herald tomorrow. There will be another story on Annabeth Karson and her assistant heading up the City's Complete Count Committee for the U.S. Census. Both are being paid $15K as part-time employees of the City and both worked on Jo Ann Golden's and Laurence McNamara's campaigns. The suggestion to enlist the services of Ms. Karson and Ms. Coolican was made by Commissioner Golden and consummated by City Manager Stanton.

It is not about whether or not these two appointees will do a good job. The issues surrounding this revolve around their on-going work in local political campaigns and being paid to collect data that may be used in future local political campaigns. We need not look any further for an example of the existence of Old School Machine politics in our city.

What has it done for us lately?

Lake Worth commissioners agree to $5 million beach upgrade, reducing resident parking to 50 spaces

Lake Worth commissioners agree to $5 million beach upgrade, reducing resident parking to 50 spaces

Click link for PB Post article - check out some of the comments below the article as well.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Via BlackBerry:

Went to the Census meeting today. Palm Beach County is spending 25K on its Complete Count Committee. The population of Palm Beach County is plus or minus 1.4 million. The City of Lake Worth has a population of plus or minus 38K. We are paying 2 people a total of 30K.

"Closed Door" City Commission meeting tomorrow - 12/9

Elected officials can meet in a closed door session under the State's Sunshine Laws, but there are certain requirements. Section 286.011(8), Florida Statutes reads as follows:

(8) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), any board or commission of any state agency or authority or any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision, and the chief administrative or executive officer of the governmental entity, may meet in private with the entity's attorney to discuss pending litigation to which the entity is presently a party before a court or administrative agency, provided that the following conditions are met:

(a) The entity's attorney shall advise the entity at a public meeting that he or she desires advice concerning the litigation.

(b) The subject matter of the meeting shall be confined to settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to litigation expenditures.

(c) The entire session shall be recorded by a certified court reporter. The reporter shall record the times of commencement and termination of the session, all discussion and proceedings, the names of all persons present at any time, and the names of all persons speaking. No portion of the session shall be off the record. The court reporter's notes shall be fully transcribed and filed with the entity's clerk within a reasonable time after the meeting.

(d) The entity shall give reasonable public notice of the time and date of the attorney-client session and the names of persons who will be attending the session. The session shall commence at an open meeting at which the persons chairing the meeting shall announce the commencement and estimated length of the attorney-client session and the names of the persons attending. At the conclusion of the attorney-client session, the meeting shall be reopened, and the person chairing the meeting shall announce the termination of the session.

(e) The transcript shall be made part of the public record upon conclusion of the litigation.

I really think that the City has to state what "the litigation" is - I would assume by title. The City of Lake Worth chose not to do this in their notice. How else are we to know that subject matter concerns an item related to currently pending litigation? One, however, is left to believe that it might be over the Greater Bay lawsuit. Perhaps we are not including it to conceal the lawsuit from the County? Wouldn't the Palm Beach County Commission, who is poised to grant the City $5 million, have an interest in whether or not there was an existing lawsuit regarding this property and the City of Lake Worth?

This is how the Town of Palm Beach provides notice of a closed door session. Note that they specifically mention the case under discussion:

Monday, December 7, 2009

This is what was supposed to be in the previous message from the City:

CDBG Public Meeting

A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Public Meeting will be held Monday, December 21, 2009, from 6:00 - 8:00 PM at the Osborne Community Center, 1699 Wingfield Street.

During the meeting, City staff will describe approved uses of CDBG funding, provide a list of possible CDBG projects, and hear public input on the best uses of this funding opportunity.

For more information, please contact the Community Development Department at (561)586-1687.

Highly Informative E-mail from City!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I got a kick out of this skit...but still a serious matter...

Special City Commission Meeting re BEACH - 12/8 @ 7 p.m.

Click title for link to complete back-up material.

Glimmers of hope...

This is the agenda for the City Commission work session scheduled for Tuesday. Note that these meetings had been taking place during the afternoon, making it difficult for the public to attend or listen. This one is scheduled for 6 p.m. Click title for link to City's website for a .pdf agenda and links to back-up material.

The presentation by the County on the Snook Islands access project should be interesting. This has been slated for a while but I haven't heard an up-date on timing of the improvements. Included here would be day docks and walkways that would create links between Bryant Park and the south part of the golf course to the recently created Snook Islands. The former bridge still needs to be removed by the City and we will hopefully get that done soon as it is an attractive nuisance. This sort of improved access to the water makes sense. The back-up material does not contain any graphics showing the improvements, so I will keep an eye out for those.

The Commission will also be discussing digitizing their packets in order to eliminate, or severely reduce, the amount of paper and materials used under the current way to distribute agenda back-up material. The Clerk estimates that this will save a little more than $400 a year in paper - which I know is way too low. It will be interesting to have a true accounting of the savings once it's been in effect for a year or so. I think we will all be astounded. Coincidentally, I mentioned this in a previous post "Greenwashing - Lake Worth Style" a few weeks ago as an easy way for the Commission to show a commitment to the Climate Control Task Force recommendations. At last Tuesday's Commission meeting, Pangiotti Tsolkas brought up the need for a report on how the City is doing at meeting it's stated environmental goals. Apparently, someone is listening. Let's hope this leads to a more exhaustive effort and check on the City's performance in this area.

The next item regarding the East Coast Regional interlocal agreement appeared on the Commission's agenda last Tuesday. This is about a thirty year extension of an existing agreement related to our regional sanitary sewer system. The staff has prepared some extensive back-up, so refer to that if you want some more detail. What's important to note is that the Commission, at Commissioner Jennings' suggestion, wanted to discuss this in greater deal so that they could assess how this affects the City strategically in the on-going conflict among municipal members. This is where the City was not collecting maintenance money as it should have been from other client municipalities, discovered it and then billed them all the full amount at one time. That did not sit well. Item E on the agenda explains the status of the default on the bond covenant violation - which is a matter related to this whole affair. The good thing about this is that it appears we are getting a handle on this and we are aware of our relationships with other municipalities. Where have we heard this before?

Also at last Tuesday's meeting, at the urging of Commissioner Maxwell, the Commission voted to suspend the second deposit provision if someone made a late payment to the utility. It turns out that the City has approximately $4.6 million in deposits, of which almost $1 million relate to the second deposit assessment. There's almost $6 million in unrecovered billings dating from many years ago - all still in collections. I encourage you to read the entire back-up material, but the sheets below provide a good summary overview of the process/timeline before and after the change.

Lastly, there is discussion regarding a day-long retreat to discuss the City's mission and mission statement. City Manager Stanton believes the "Working Together" slogan and associated current mission statement doesn't reflect the City's soon-to-be focus on customer service. By the way, if you have ever seen the current "Working Together" statement hung on various City Hall office walls, you know that it is completely illegible as they used black letters on a dark background - it's illegibility says a lot, period. Let's hope that this new discussion leads to something that can be the basis for concrete action and improvement.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Emily Dickinson

"Hope" is the thing with feathers --
That perches in the soul --
And sings the tune without the words --
And never stops -- at all --

And sweetest -- in the Gale -- is heard --
And sore must be the storm --
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm --

I've heard it in the chillest land --
And on the strangest Sea --
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb -- of Me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pedal-powered Christmas tree lights Copenhagen

Click title for link to article on Copenhagen climate conference.

Left under post re utility billing:

Anonymous said:

A day late & A dollar short they cut me 2 day (includes an additional $300.00 water deposit.)Because of a water leak that wasted over $350.00 in water (re; new block billing)Didn't matter that $740.00 was paid on my account last month and I wasn't 30 days late on Dec. payment of approx. $350.00.

They have cut me many times in the past (including my water) knowing, I have children on breathing equiptment. I had provided doctor letters in the past and they just made me give them another one last week (noterized) and still cut me.

Oh yeah what happened to the $11.00 late charge now mine ranges from $15.00 to $40.00

So, much for single parents...

Thank God Mr. Maxwell is addressing this issue!!!

IMPORTANT: I shared this message with Commissioner Maxwell and he would like whoever left it to contact him immediately.
His e-mail is:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Unbelievable! Received Add/Delete for tonight's City Commission meeting at 5:35 p.m. today...

And look what is on the agenda: The Revised Beach Site Plan and the Casino and Decal Parking issues. How can the City get away with such short notice on such important topics that have generated so much public interest? These were presented by the City Clerk and a motion was made to add these to the agenda. No one objected. Listening right now.

This is the last that I have read about the beach project - from the November 20th City Manager's Report:

Notice that the last line talks about having a workshop and then a meeting for the City Commission execute the new Interlocal Agreement. When did that workshop happen?

Here is the site plan referred to in the City Manager's report.

Yeah for Mayor Varela for bringing up the importance of having information available for the public well in advance of a City Commission meeting. It's supposed to be heard for a vote after the workshop scheduled for next Tuesday. There are two options - I'll get more information - but it's a choice between 50 or 90+ decal parking options. The County is more agreeable to the 50 space decal plan and would cost the City much less than the 90 decal space option due to having to include design costs that wouldn't be reimbursed by the County money.

They set a "time certain" of 7 p.m. next Tuesday the 8th to take final action on the agreement. The Casino building was not discussed at this meeting tonight.

Mayor Varela has moved public comment to immediately after a motion and a second - before Commission discussion, staff comments or reports and then Commission discussion. This is how it was during the early part of Mayor Clemens' term. Public comment should come before the vote and after discussion by the Commission - it was working fine before.

This is a great idea put forward by Commissioner Maxwell for tonight's (12/1) meeting...

The last item under new business at tonight's City Commission meeting would potentially bring an end to the imposition of additional deposits when late on utility bills. The money doesn't figure into the revenue for the utility anyway and is a tremendous burden on people who already may be suffering financial hardships. There has to be a more compassionate way to handle this situation for people who are having bona-fide difficulty in making ends meet. The City is all too quick to turn off electric and water for late or non-payment. According to Commissioner Maxwell, it is against public health laws to turn off water into homes due to sanitation reasons and a basic human need for fresh water. Perhaps this will be discussed as well.