Saturday, January 10, 2009

Click here for link to sobering/scary Merrill Lynch economic analysis - 1/08/09

19-year-old driver kills woman in Lake Worth crash

Greater Bay Letter 12/23: Another lawsuit, an injunction, damages, court costs, possible RICO violations?

Empty Blast E-mail Received from City this week...

Friends Used Book Sale

The Friends of the Lake Worth Library will be holding a used book sale on Saturday, January 31st from 9:00 am to 3:00 p.m. at the Cultural Plaza (414 Lake Avenue) across the street from the library.

There will be books, videocassettes, music CDs, and much more for sale. Prices range from $.50 to $5.00.

The Lake Worth Library is now accepting donations of gently used books, videocassettes, music CDs, DVDs, puzzles, audio cassettes and CDs and magazines. Please bring your donations to the library at 15 North M St., Lake Worth.

The library is closed Sundays and Mondays; open Tuesday and Wednesday 11:00 am to 7:00 pm and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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

More in the stream of information coming from the City of Punta Gorda

If you are receiving this for the first time; this is the city of Punta Gorda weekly report, it is an account of all the activities that have occurred during the past weekand compiled by the city manager. Currently my mailing is reaching well over 1000 residents.If you are already receiving this from one of my colleagues or if you just don’t want to receive it just email me back.


You have no doubt been reading about President Elect Obama’s financial insentive plan which may fund state and local capital construction projects. In preperation of that possibility we have comprised and are submitting a list of 9 projects totalling $74.5M. I have attached the that list along with the Weekly Report for your information.

Don’t forget the grand opening celebration of the Event Center on Saturday from 11AM – 1:30.

By the way, the reason that I show you this is to present an example of a community that makes a consistent effort to communicate with its citizens - by both its elected officials and its senior staff. Punta Gorda is not unique - it is more and more an example of part of the norm. It's Lake Worth that is out of sync.

If you click on the title of this post, you will be taken to the memo from their City Manager which gives a report of the week's activities. It's funny, but if you read the series of these memos, you end up knowing much more about Punta Gorda than anyone knows about what happened in Lake Worth over the past weeks.


And what are we doing to "front load" our public works projects in order to stimulate the local economy and keep people employed?

Former County Commissioner McCarty fighting for Raymond James bond underwriter

Her husband had connections with Raymond James. Click title for related PB Post Article. The discussion and vote occurred in 2003.

Friday, January 9, 2009


The United States Attorney's Office
Southern District of Florida

Press Release re McCarty charges, click title for link.

Reminder - Bicycle Network Studio - Presentation at 6 p.m. today

The studio is going on through the afternoon in the Commission Conference Room - City Hall. I went there around 12:30 today and there was a bit of a crowd. If you can, stop by and give them your reactions and input.

Surfrider Fundraiser - Little Munich - 1/23

From Tom Wranke:

Here's a heads up on our next event. There will be more updates soon but I wanted you to have the basics.

On Friday evening, January 23rd there will be a Palm Beach County Surfrider Foundation 25th Anniversary party and fundraiser in downtown Lake Worth at Little Munich restaurant. It starts at 7 PM.

The fundraiser is to pay for the cost of going to court to protect the surf breaks at the Lake Worth Pier from being ruined by the Town of Palm Beach's dredge and fill project planned for the area surrounding the Pier. The City of Lake Worth and ESA are also part of the effort to protect surfing at the Pier. All other dredge and fill projects will be affected by the judge's decision, which could happen any day now.

Members of the band "Truck Stop Coffee" will play, and there will be kegs of beer, raffles and great food all evening. Tickets are available at

26-story Tao Sawgrass in Sunrise sits empty

Another frame of reference different from ours. Click title for Sun Sentinel article.

Resignation creates cloud over event promoting Palm Beach County ethics pledge

This is the actual ethics pledge. Will our Mayor and Commissioners sign this? Click title for link to PB Post article.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lake Worth Celebrates “Realizing Dr. King’s Dream”

On Monday, January 19, 2009 Lake Worth will hold its 15th annual commemoration Dr. Martin Luther King Day with a full slate of activities from morning to evening. The highlight of the day will be the Candlelight March through downtown Lake Worth. Participants will gather at 5 PM at City Hall and parade down Lake Avenue to the MLK “Ball” Memorial. A brief commemorative program at the end of the March will include the unveiling of a new addition the Memorial honoring Barack Obama, who, is to be inaugurated as the first African-American president of the United States on the following day. The remarkable confluence of MLK Day with the inauguration marks a historic step in realizing Dr. King’s dream of racial and social justice in America. The public is heartily invited to join in this special, once in a lifetime event.

At 6:30PM, immediately following the March, a Unity Potluck Dinner is planned at Calvary Methodist Church. The church is located at the corner of Federal Highway and First Avenue South. The dinner will provide an opportunity for warm fellowship across religious and racial lines in the spirit of Dr. King. Inspirational musical performances will accompany the shared “breaking of bread.” Participating religious and civic organizations will provide the food and beverages.

Earlier in the day, St. Andrews Episcopal Church will host an interfaith prayer breakfast from 7:30 – 9 AM. A brief spiritual program will feature comments from local representatives of the Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim and Baha'i faiths.

At 2:30PM, also at St. Andrews, the presentation of Ain’t I a Woman! is not to be missed. With music and drama Ain’t I a Woman! celebrates the life and times of four powerful African American women: renowned novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, ex-slave and fiery abolitionist Sojourner Truth, exuberant folk artist Clementine Hunter, and fervent civil rights worker Fannie Lou Hamer. The musical score is drawn from the heartfelt spirituals and blues of the Deep South, the urban vitality of the Jazz Age, and contemporary concert music by African Americans. Ain’t I a Woman! is a joyful exploration of the trials and triumphs of four passionate and accomplished women.

Dr. King’s Dream encompassed the hopes and dreams of all Americans. Members of every racial, religious and ethnic group in Palm Beach County are invited to join Lake Worth residents in their celebration of the progress that has been made in the realization of Dr. King’s dream. All events and meals are free to attendees. The events are sponsored by the Lake Worth MLK Committee, Kiwanis Club, Lake Worth Interfaith Network and the City of Lake Worth.

Full schedule of events for Monday, January 19, 2009:

7:30 – 9:00 AM - Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, St. Andrews Episcopal

2:30 - 4 PM - “Ain’t I a Woman!” Drama Presentation at St. Andrews Episcopal

5:00 – 6:00 PM – Candlelight March from City Hall to Cultural Plaza

6:00 – 6:30 PM – Program at MLK Memorial in Cultural Plaza

6:30 – 9:00 PM – Potluck Dinner at Calvary United Methodist Church

Transcript: Obama seeks unified fight against economic woes

Click title for link to transcript of speech made today. An excerpt:
We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime, a crisis that has only deepened over the last few weeks.

Nearly 2 million jobs have been now lost. And on Friday, we're likely to learn that we lost more jobs last year than at any time since World War II. Just in the past year, another 2.8 million Americans who want and need full-time work have had to settle for part-time jobs.

Manufacturing has hit a 28-year low. Many businesses cannot borrow or make payroll. Many families cannot pay their bills or their mortgage. Many workers are watching their life savings disappear. And many, many Americans are both anxious and uncertain of what the future will hold.

Residential Real Estate Sales - Last 30 Days - 33460 Zip Code

Click title for link. Check out the selling prices - you might want to load up on your antidepressants.

Boil Water Notice

Effective immediately there is a Boil Water Notice for the residents residing at 708 through 931 (inclusive) North F Street.

The reason for water interruption is to repair a broken water valve. 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. This will be in effect for 72 hours until 12:00 p.m., Sunday, January 11, 2009. Door hanger(s) have been passed out.

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.

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

Letter just received by e-mail: "Comm. McCarty is sad to announce her resignation from the County Commission."


As the result of wrongdoing brought to my attention by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, I will be resigning my position on the Palm Beach County Commission effective at the close of business, January 8, 2009.

Throughout my 18 years as a County Commissioner, I have worked diligently on behalf of the community that I love. I have always believed that public officials should be held to a high ethical standard and I failed in this regard. Within the next week I expect to plead guilty to honest services fraud.

As both a public official and moral person, I had an ethical responsibility to perform my duties free from any violation of law or ethics. Although I never set out to commit any violation or law, I have.

On multiple occasions, I failed to disclose free and discounted hotel rooms that had been provided to me by a company that had business with Palm Beach County. I also failed to recuse myself on bond issues that would benefit the companies that employed my husband. At the time, I rationalized these actions by interpreting their impact in a manner most favorable to me and not that most favorable to the community I was elected to serve. These were inexcusable and, in fact, criminal acts—something for which I should be prosecuted and for which I bear full responsibility.

I am sickened by the fact that my acts will result in continued scrutiny of the Palm Beach County Commission. Being aware of the challenges faced by the Commission following the prosecution of Ray Liberti, Jim Exline, Tony Masilotti and Warren Newell, I am disgusted with myself for placing the Commission that I respect so much in an untenable situation.

It is my sincere hope that by accepting responsibility for my actions and not making excuses, I will minimize the damage that my prosecution will inflict upon Palm Beach County.

I expect to be ordered to serve a significant term of incarceration as a result of my voluntary plea. As frightening as this reality might be, I recognize it as a consequence of my actions. It is my sincere desire to hopefully receive the forgiveness of each County Commissioner and of the community. I realize that this forgiveness will be earned by deed and not word. Please keep both my family and me in your thoughts and prayers as we work through the challenges I have brought down upon us.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lake Worth museum gets boost from library trust fund

This was one positive thing that happened at last night's meeting. We should create a 501c3 to raise funds, market and operate the museum and not rely on the trust fund for the long term.

Lake Worth delays decision on water contract with Palm Beach County

Word from Cara's Camp...

During last night's City Commission meeting and the seemingly endless discussion where Commissioner Jennings tried her best to prove a negative (how the Planning, Zoning, Historic Resource Preservation Board somehow lacked a piece of substantial, competent evidence in rendering their decisions re the Gulfstream Hotel), I approached Annabeth Karson.
For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Karson, she is what I would call a senior adviser to Commissioner Jennings - essentially the Carl Rove equivalent in Cara's world. When I pointed out to her the contributions made by Charles Celi to the Jennings and Mulvehill campaigns, she responded that wasn't pay to play. Something like, "It's only pay-to-play if you make money."


Free Workshop

Dear friends,

On Wed Jan 14 from 5 to 7 pm I'm giving a free workshop in Lake Worth. Here are the details -


Whether you have a shop on the avenue, an Internet-based business, or just sell things out of your home, this information will give you a way to get discovered by more people and turn more of those people into paying customers.

Introduction: How the Internet has changed the world of marketing, and how you can take advantage of it
Secret 1: Auto-connecting with the people who are looking for your product
Secret 2: Broadcasting your niche & brand-identity difference
Secret 3: Under-the-radar publicity
Secret 4: Social & viral marketing techniques
Secret 5: Search engine optimization (“getting to the top of Google”)
Secret 6: Honor-based relationship building
Secret 7: Super-conscious messaging
Secret 8: Upstreaming
Secret 9: Affiliate and associate programs
Conclusion: Putting it all together & making it grow

Presented by PJ Rebhan (Reb Han)
PJ is a successful artist, writer, composer, business owner, teacher and Fortune 500 consultant. He’s used these techniques to build his own career and to help others build theirs.

824 Lake Ave (between Dixie and J Street)
Lake Worth

Date & time
Wed January 14
5 pm to 7 pm

Best wishes to you for a great 2009,
PJ Rebhan

Lake Worth nixes plan to install cameras to catch red-light runners

Comments by yours truly last night re Gulfstream appeal...

There are special and unique burdens and challenges for people that own historic properties. As a community, we should encourage and find ways to help these owners of historic properties maintain, improve and, if they are commercial properties, operate.

The Gulfstream's importance to our community is reflected in many ways. It's one of the few individual listings on the National Register for Historic Places, it's on the waterfront at the one of the entrances to the city, it's one of the taller buildings that exist in the city and it's a strong example of 1920s Florida "boom" period architecture. It is also part of the historic economic fabric of the city.

The Historic Resource Preservation Board has done its job. Please deny this appeal request as it creates one more obstacle in getting this property back on line and serving out-of-town guests that will contribute to our local economy.

Pictures speak a thousand words - Gulfstream item tabled

Commissioner Jennings did her trademark filibuster attempting to add a rational argument to what was being challenged by Charles Celi. He was appealing the Planning and Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board decision regarding what will happen with the Gulfstream Hotel. Let the pictures tell the story.

Pay to play anyone?

In the view of the law, the Commissioners and Mayor were acting as "impartial" judges in consideration of the appeal. Did anyone divulge these contributions as indicated in the Campaign Treasurer's report? The answer is "no!"

How about that "Pay to Play" ordinance Commissioner Cara Jennings?

Monday, January 5, 2009

1920s Postcard Showing the Gulfstream Hotel

I'm doing some research now about the 1920s in Palm Beach. It's leading up to a talk I will be giving in April. In the process, I am learning about a decade that experienced many technological advances and more than a few excesses - not unlike the period we are living through now. The decade of the 1920s was our "boom" period in South Florida. It really signaled the pattern of growth and retrenchment that has typified our regional development cycle. I'll be presenting more gems as I gather additional source material.

But for now, we have a chance to help out one Lake Worth's own signature historic properties from that era get back in service to the community. Please come out and voice your support for allowing the owners of the property to go forward with their plans to renovate the Gulfstream Hotel . If you cannot make the meeting tomorrow night, please contact any one of the Commissioners or the Mayor about the importance of denying the appeal of the Planning, Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board approvals related to the property.

One of my favorite songs from the pantheon of early 70s Country music artists...

From the barber's chair: A view of the economy and other tid bits

With the holidays over and a morning meeting canceled today, I had some time to get my hair cut. I go to a real barber shop with straight razors, hot towels, alcohol sprays - just a "regular Joe" kind of place. Today, they only had two barbers working and when I sat down in the chair the barber started talking about the economy. He told me how he's tried to pay off his credit cards and is vowing, as a New Year's resolution, to only pay cash for things. I asked how traffic has been in the shop and he said that business is off by 80% (!). He said that when gas prices were higher earlier in the year, that's when things started falling off. He said that most guys are wearing their hair really short and just keeping up with grooming by using their own set of clippers. He says it's rare now for anyone to bring kids into the shop - most are just taking care of them at home. He said that his customers now almost completely consist of people currently employed by the County that have to maintain their hair at a certain length, etc.

This is a barber shop that a regular run-of-the-mill haircut is $12. I usually tip $3. It's also one that's been around for at least 20 years.

And, back to Lake Worth for a moment: Can we all agree that a shopping mall never was proposed for the beach? There is a "blogger" - how she refers to yours truly - that insists that a shopping mall was proposed to be built at the beach. And, this "blogger" insists that the no lease over twenty years of City property charter amendment that was passed a couple of years ago was somehow violated since the Greater Bay agreement talked about a lease of 19 years and 360 or some such number of days. This somehow violated the spirit or intent of the charter amendment. This always begs the question with me - then why didn't you include more restrictive language in the Charter Amendment? Or is it just never quite right regardless of whatever is done? This was the impetus behind the lawsuit filed by certain aggrieved citizens - the status of which is unknown.

City Commission Workshop Meeting - 1/8/09 - "Goal Setting"

Time to make the popcorn!

Take a magical local history tour: Can you find these historic markers?

In recognition of Palm Beach County's 100th Anniversary, the PB Post put together a list of places with historic markers. Click title for link to article.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Important Item on City Commission Agenda 1/6/09 - Gulfstream Hotel

I've re-posted some items related to the Gulfstream Hotel as an appeal of the Historic Resource Preservation approval is before the City Commission this Tuesday, January 9, 2009. The above picture is from a postcard circa 1950s - when the hotel was in its heyday.

What the owner of the property plans on doing is to restore the historic hotel and establish four (4) unlighted tennis courts on the hotel's western property (along South Lakeside), along with a small tennis pro-shop along Lake Avenue. The owner has agreed to drop plans for the larger spa/hotel that was planned for the same part of the property. What is being requested are changes that will allow this historic hotel to operate and contribute to the economic vitality of Lake Worth for the foreseeable future.

Please try to attend the meeting and speak in favor of allowing the property owner to continue their renovation plans and to deny the appeal. This is one of the few properties in the city that has individual placement on the National Register of Historic Places. It is integral with the identity of Lake Worth and is sorely missed when not in operation. If you cannot attend the meeting, please e-mail or phone your elected representatives on the Commission and tell them how strongly you feel about getting the hotel operating once again.

Below is how the item appears on the Commission's agenda.

Please contact me at for more information. Thank you!

More on the Gulfstream Hotel - Site Plan and Elevations

Note: This is a re-post from July 2008 when the item was before the Planning, Zoning and Historic Resources Preservation Board. This is part of what is the subject of appeal at the City Commission's January 6, 2009 meeting. It concerns the rehabilitation of the historic hotel and the establishment of four, unlighted tennis courts and a small tennis pro-shop along Lake Avenue.

These are additional exhibits related to the amended Gulfstream Hotel improvements. Remember, this is an attempt to move the project forward so that the work on the historic hotel can be completed in a timely manner. It will allow an interim use of the western property on the block in the form of tennis courts and a tennis pro-shop facing Lake Avenue.

Remember to click on the images for greater detail.

Part I: Reflections on the "New" Beach Proposal

I thought it would be good for me to let the "New" Proposal for the Beach gestate in my mind for a while before I start offering a response to it. For easier reference, I created a new topic called "New" Beach Proposal on the list of topics on the right hand side of the blog. The "New" is in quotes as this is only the latest in uncountable versions of what should be done at our 18+ acre oceanfront property, known as the Lake Worth Beach, spanning a period of 30+ years. "New" in quotes is also appropriate since the version that Straticon et al have put forward has what could be considered an "old" look to it, but in actuality it is actually more "new" than "old" as I will explain further.

Right now, the status is that the City is waiting for an "RFP" - request for proposals - to be prepared by an engineering firm. This is expected by the end of January and then the RFP would go out to architectural and engineering firms that would respond by the end of February. It's my understanding that, according to the proposal but together by Straticon and from the comments by the City Commission at the December meeting when this was discussed, that the proposal will entail rebuilding the existing structure in some manner, in the same location. At the one regular December meeting, the Commission directed that a feasibility for the site work also be part of the proposal.

You can refer to the post summarizing the Straticon proposal but the basics are a building of 50,000 s.f. with an estimated cost of $10,000,000. A feasibility study is underway for a possible bond issue, as well.

My comments to the City Commission at the time were that by doing this they are saying that the building is o.k. in this general location and that there isn't a better location for it on the property. With the proposed expansion of the existing building footprint to the east, there could be real issues related to the Coastal Construction Control Line. I reminded them that they did have to go out for bid for architectural services and couldn't just sign up Straticon without going out for bids from other firms/teams. I also urged them to consider what will happen with the entire site and not just the building. I thought that the sitework might well equal the $10,000,000 estimated for the building. Also, the financial workings of the project - what the lease rates will be for the tenants and what subsidy that represents needs to be calculated and made part of the overall equation. I then suggested, as I have here, that if they really want a "green" project on this public property, they should eliminate or greatly restrict the amount of parking on the property itself. Parking for the beach could be provided downtown and then a shuttle arrangement could be devised so that the portal to get to our beach would be through our downtown commercial district - encouraging beach traffic to stop in our downtown, hopefully spending money there along the way. It would also provide surplus parking for visitors to the downtown in the "non-peak" times of beach usage - i.e., at night. This would coincide with the peak parking demand in the downtown due to the number of restaurants we have there.

Now, a couple of comments regarding this quote from Mayor Clemens in the January 1, 2009 edition of the Lake Worth Herald. Here is the quote:
"It's the beach - always the beach." Mayor Jeff Clemens says, "But at least we have everybody approaching from the same angle and I think we will really get something accomplished this time."
You know, dictatorships are one of the more efficient ways to govern. Democracies are by nature, inefficient. I am not sure that "everybody" even knows what is being proposed. Didn't we have many public meetings, subcommittees, workshops, design charrettes on the more recent proposals? So far, there has been one meeting regarding this proposal.

I also think it is too early to say that the City gets a free pass in voting to terminate the public/private partnership with Greater Bay. What is to say that Greater Bay wasn't capable of doing the same plan that is envisioned here? I am not an apologist for Greater Bay, but I think it is foolhardy to think that we have heard the last from them.

The next installment: Part II: The Three "Rs" of Historic Preservation.

South Florida exodus appears to be picking up pace

New Year’s Resolution: Read Agenda for a Sustainable America

Posted by: Patty Salkin | January 3, 2009 in the Law of the Land blog (click title for link)

Widener Law School Professor John Dernbach has pulled together what may be the most important book of 2009 for lawyers, planners, officials at all levels of government and the general public – Agenda for a Sustainable America. With thoughtful contributions from 41 leading scholars, scientists and lawyers, a compelling case is made that we are indeed at a tipping point when it comes to sustainability, and that the United States can and must take a leadership role at home and in the international arena.

As Professor Dernbach explains in Chapter 1, “This book starts with a simple but powerful premise: Sustainable development would make the United States more livable, healthy, secure, and prosperous. Policies that promote sustainability would reduce risks to our national security, improve our economic efficiency and productivity, enhance our health and communities, improve the lives of the poorest among us, and foster greater human well-being in other countries. And it would achieve these things while protecting and restoring the environment for our generation and for generations that follow.”

The book not only includes an assessment of how the United State is doing with respect to sustainable development in 28 areas of American life—including forestry; transportation; oceans and estuaries; religion; and state, local, and national governance (which is not as good as people might want to believe), but it offers lawmakers, policymakers and members of the public more than 100 concrete recommended action items for the next five to ten years that will make a difference. These recommendations, which can be organized around the following ten themes, are explained in detail throughout the book:

1. The United States should systematically reduce its ecological footprint.

2. The United States government must adopt, as soon as possible, greenhouse gas emission reduction programs that will reduce U.S. emissions to our fair share of safe global emissions.

3. The United States should create more employment opportunities in environmental protection and restoration, and make it easier for unskilled and low-income persons to enter and remain in the workforce.

4. Sustainable development should be an organizing principle for all levels of government.

5. Nongovernmental actors should play a major role in achieving sustainability.

6. Individuals, families, and consumers should have more sustainable options in the decisions they make.

7. Sustainable development should become a central part of public and formal education.

8. The United States should strengthen its environmental and natural resources laws.

9. The United States needs to play an international leadership role on behalf of sustainable development.

10. The United States needs to improve the information and data available to the public to make decisions for sustainability.

This book, published by the Environmental Law Institute, is set to be released the week of January 12, 2009, and can be ordered from Island Press here. The book will also be available through Amazon here. This book is a follow-up to the 2002 Stumbling Towards Sustainability.

For more information, visit the book’s website,, or Professor Dernbach’s website: