Saturday, February 28, 2009

Did Deniece Williams ever live in Lake Worth?

She seems to have us pegged.

I just finished listening to the Commission Workshop meeting on the Beach Casino Design Agent

If you have have an extra two hours, I would suggest you listen to it.

First question that comes to mind is: Couldn't we have prepared the "site vision study" talked about by Michael Singer and prepare a site plan to satisfy the County requirement to keep the $500,000 last year? The site plan referenced in the interlocal agreement with the County is the same as the one contained in the development agreement with Greater Bay. That was always thought of as an "illustrative" site plan - one that was subject to changes. However, through out the process, that "illustrative" site plan was dubbed the permanent site plan for those who did not like the Greater Bay arrangement. My point here is that the need for a Chinese Fire drill sort of panic that we find ourselves in this year could have been avoided had we done this exercise last year. At last count, four of the five members of the Commission were there last year.

And wasn't Greater Bay faulted for not preparing a site plan? This is the same thing that we are asking this Beach Casino Design Criteria agent to perform, right? (Who still doesn't have a contract, by the way.) Then, I ask, why couldn't the city act, as part of its public private partnership arrangement, undertake the preparation of a site plan, with public input, consultants, whoever? The process, had the partnership continued to exist, called for the City to approve a site plan for its property for the developer to submit to the Planning and Zoning Board for review.

Even if the city had in its mind that it wanted to get out of the Greater Bay contract, there was still plenty of time to do what was contemplated in this two hour long workshop meeting - LAST YEAR or even the YEAR BEFORE THAT! Much of what was talked about during this meeting involved reviewing materials that have already been generated from extensive public input. How many times to we have to re-invent the wheel?

I am all for a "sustainable" and "environmentally responsible" beach redevelopment project. I have always wondered how environmentally responsible it is to continue providing 680+ parking spaces - which all takes up a certain and significant amount of property. It also says, as a policy statement, that the City of Lake Worth wants to encourage people to drive their cars to the beach well into the future - and provide plenty of asphalt, or the like, to accomplish that policy.

Now, regarding the process here, Kimley-Horn - our selected design criteria agent - regardless of what Commissioner Jennings says, is a capable multi-disciplinary firm and can perform visioning studies, site plans, "sustainable" construction and planning methods, etc. Commissioner Jennings, responding to the meeting she had before hand and the half hour commercial on the part of the Michael Singer group, said that this is an "artist doing a public works project" and that she couldn't imagine anyone else with that ability could qualify in response to an RFP or RFQ for the same. Commissioner Jennings, there are about 100 firms worldwide that could provide similar services. Would you now like to give them all the opportunity to make a half hour presentation to the City Commission? It would only be fair. The Post editorial from today pointed out the Commissioner Jennings generally adheres to process. WRONG! She only adheres to process when it helps push her issue - a good example of that is avoiding the zoning and building code issues with the shuffleboard court building housing the "resource center" and then spending hours of time trying to pick apart the Planning and Zoning Board decision on the Gulfstream Hotel.

I don't want to take anything away from the Michael Singer Group - but there should be a level playing field here.

Let's look at the time factor. According to the Mayor, while the contract with the County for the $5 million grant expires in October, any revision to it or extension of it has to be made by the County Commission at least 90 days prior to the expiration of the agreement. This means that the County Commission has to decide this issue in August. Which means, according to the Mayor, we have to get the County Commission a site plan with information on estimated cost by the end of April. Hmmmm. And include public input and include the creation of multiple plans and reach consensus - double hmmmmm.

Finally, the large pink elephant in the living room remains. Are we going to rebuild the existing building or are we building a new one? Which is more expensive? What are the objective reasons for doing or not doing either option? When is this going to be decided? It was only mentioned by the Mayor under his breath at the end of the meeting. It was mentioned by Rachel Bach as an important matter for the site plan to have the "building envelope" indicated on the site plan. As a planner, and logically speaking, one of the first considerations to the development of a site plan is where the building(s) will be. When is this decision going to be made?

Godspeed City Commission. Commissioner Jennings thinks that this new project will wow everyone that hears about it and that maintaining the funding from the County will not be a problem.

My opinion is summed up in the chorus of this great song:

More Mar-a-Lago Beach Cabana Construction Pics...

Some of the "in process" shots of the Mar-a-Lago beach cabana project I supervised.

Lake Worth's beach priority

Click title for link to PB Post editorial. They're on to something here. At this point, it's all about the:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Click for link to audio from last night's (2/26) meeting re Design Criteria Agent for beach

Commentary to follow.Mr. Singer's presentation begins at the 20:00 minute mark. About two minutes before, Commissioner Jennings asks for his presentation "cause we kinda don't know what we are doing..." Their formal presentation ended at about the 50:00 minute mark, which amounted to a half hour advertisement for their services.

House Prices Compared: What USD $500,000 Buys Worldwide

House Prices Compared: What USD $500,000 Buys Worldwide

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Now appearing at 7 N. Dixie Hwy!

Michael Singer

Click title for link. More on this later. At the City Commission workshop last night on the design agent for the beach, the Commission entertained a presentation by artist Michael Singer. Action may be taken on Tuesday at the regular Commission meeting to give him $25,000 to consult on the design/concept for the beach.

Is public input important anymore with this Commission? Was it ever?

Unfortunately, due to a work commitment, I was unable to attend the meeting. I have asked for the CD and will try to track down the Powerpoint presentation given by Mr. Singer.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Darn, wish I had my camera!

We in College Park were just treated by visit from two Sheriff officers - on horseback! They stopped at a house down the street while I was taking Mars and Venus for their midday walk. I didn't have an opportunity to talk to them as they were headed away from my house. My neighbors on Columbia we all out and chatting with them. One officer told a guy driving past to buckle his seat belt. Mars barked at them and Venus tried to slip her leash. She wanted back in the house in the worst way - I guess she thought she had met her match. She talks a big game - but she's the first under the bed when she hears thunder - and now, apparently, when she encounters horses.

Announcement from City - Kick-off Event for Bicycle Month - Ride this Saturday!

March City of Lake Worth - Meeting Schedule

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Glad to see this is happening...

We need stronger ties with PBCC. This sort of meeting has been needed for a long time.

Lest we forget...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Welcome! Record Number of New Visitors Today!

A conversational potpourri with...

(my responses in bold - from a 2/8/09 conversation)
I am confident that Commissioner Mulvehill will fully disclose any contributions from beach merchants at the time of any vote on the beach.

Didn't she already vote to get out of the contract with Greater Bay? Didn't she vote for the various issues surrounding the RLI and RFP? I didn't hear any disclaimer The main reason I am making an issue about this is the proposed "pay to play" ordinance, how if you have a contract (a lease) with the city then you and your relatives can't make a contribution. It really points out the flaws in the proposed law. Most of the tenants at the beach do not live in Lake Worth and have benefited from a de facto subsidy of below market rents for a very long time and are more prosperous for it. Our focus should be on what is good for the tax-paying residents of the city of Lake Worth - not cater to a handful of tenants that could easily do business elsewhere.

She should make the disclosure prior to any discussion related to the beach...period...whether she votes or not. Cara would not want it any other way, would she??

The Pay to Play Ordinance is only in discussion. Personally, I think the Commission got carried away and bogged down on stupidity at the commission meeting on Ethics. Commissioner Mulvehill is not negotiating their leases at the beach. The merchants there are a by-product of saving the casino. That is all that they are. Whether a new building is built or that one is restored, the merchants have the opportunity to lease space at the beach regardless of Commissioner Mulvehill's quest to save the casino.

Also, I don't know why people are against our merchants and the rents that they have been paying. The City has done nothing in ten years to that building and the tenants have had to work around squalor at the same time making repairs to a building that does not belong to them. Revolting.
Cara Jennings is one vote.

So I guess it's a good thing that it didn't pass in September, huh?

That what didn't pass in September?

The Pay to Play ordinance

Wes, some of these Commissioners took the Pay to Play discussion to a whole new level of paranoia.

I know, the whole Commissioner Lowe thing and then Commissioner Vespo not voting for it. You're right.

Wes--Lowe was found guilty. She will now be fined for what she did.
Everyone should have voted for an ethics policy. I just don't want to see them get carried away because of all the corruption happening here in PB County. They should vote in a reasonable ethics policy as other municipalities and cities have implemented instead of making ours so stringent to the point of being ridiculous.

Besides Lowe's violations, the whole P2P ordinance was based on preventing bundles of maximum contributions to campaigns from people doing business with the city. Yes, let's have a sound ethics and not a patch for just one problem and then call it an "Ethics Ordinance" as C. Jennings did often on the campaign trail. She then used it to beat D. Vespo over the head with it.

Ok--we are getting closer.
Have a good evening.

You too XXOO

(from today 2/23/09)

It is not a tenant at the beach who supports Commissioner Mulvehill who wants to preserve our history and refurbish the Casino. She is not directly benefiting from the outcome.

These are special interest contributions: Why did they support her campaign so heavily? To influence the decision making so that they keep their sweetheart deals at the beach. As Commissioner, she should represent the interests of all citizens - which would include waiting for an objective analysis of costs for the two alternatives - refurbish or build new. She is acting on the tenants behalf here, not the broad interests of Lake Worth residents.

It is not Wes Blackman who took a campaign contribution from Adam Schlesinger, owner of The Gulfstream Hotel, for $500.

Big waste of money that was, huh? If I had gotten elected, you might have had a point. But if I had been elected, you can bet your boots I would have declared this contribution before any discussion on the Gulfstream at the Commission. Commissioner Mulvehill hasn't mentioned these contributions once on the dais.

First of all, Wes, I don't agree with you on any issue where it pertains to our beach and Casino. You can believe what you want and there might be some people influenced by what you "believe" and what you write but I would imagine that most people understand what pay to play is and what special interests are.
As far as Schlesinger giving you a campaign contribution, you are joking, right? You were the Chair of the P&Z, the very Board (corrupt in the minds of a lot of residents here) that gave him exceptions and extensions. It does not matter that you lost the election. He was counting on you to win. And if you had won, great...DISCLOSURE is a must when it comes to the Commission voting, something Retha Lowe did NOT do. Just because you lost the election, the Gulfstream is a HOT issue in this city and one in which you are still involved. Right now you sit on a major Board and The Gulfstream is in your CRA District, is it not?
As far as Mulvehill, she is acting on my interests. The tenants just happen to be a handful of people who want to keep their businesses after having them there for over 30 years. She is acting on the interests of those who voted for her, campaigned for her and gave her money for her election...people who believe in her. She is acting on behalf of all those people who signed the petitions for We Love Lake Worth PAC who want to keep the beach in the same configuration as it is now and retain the PROS zoning. She is doing exactly what she promised to do, which is a hell of a lot better than most elected officials today.

Last I looked, the beach property had "Beach and Casino" Zoning and Land Use designations, not PROS.

Perhaps, perhaps not. The DCA has not approved it. There is still a cloud or two hanging over it. You and Rinaldi are barking up the wrong tree. The last you looked it was changed by the City to BAC and they have even paid money to put it on the official MAP, a little pre-mature of them. Right now the P&Z is trying to push forward all the zoning changes recommended by---YOU.

I seem to remember resigning from P&Z in December 2006 - that's about two and a half years ago. Lots of water under the bridge since then.

What issues are left at the DCA level? The only clouds I know of come from your close group of associates.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Violinist in New York

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston
and the seats averaged $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

(Verified through

Casino landmark windfall celebrated in Lake Worth

Feh....regarding contents of article (click title for link.) The REAL party was in downtown today with the second day of the street painting festival. It was not the one held by some self-appointed "leader" that is head of a political action committee. The PAC should actually be called "Tenants Come First." Strange headline - the building isn't landmarked, the only windfall is the one that will be going to the firm preparing "shoring plans" for $18,000+ dollars and to the contractor that is awarded the work to "shore up" the building that is estimated to be in the range of $40,000 to $70,000 to complete (money we'll never see again), the tenants get more months on their way-below-market rents and we get to continue looking at a sad, sorry building at the beach.

The only positive in the expenditure of this money is that public safety will be better protected - something everyone should be concerned about.

Any celebration is premature and Commissioner Cara Jennings is tight with me on this one. She wants to wait to see what the cost of a new building would be in comparison to "rehabilitating" the existing building. You go Cara! Commissioner Jennings has the luxury of not having taken money from the gaggle of tenants at the beach. Commissioner Mulvehill "will walk through the fear" with them for a price. See details below:

Stimulus Projects in Florida...

Where is Lake Worth? The Mayor's claim that we don't have any "shovel ready" projects is another in a long list of excuses. Please click here for what the rest of the civilized world is expecting to benefit from the stimulus package passed by Congress. If you accept the Mayor's word that we don't have any "shovel ready" projects, then you need to ask the next question: "Why don't we?" Unfortunately, opportunities to ask such questions are few and far between in this regime.

From my quick perusal of the list, these cannot all be "shovel ready" projects. For example, Fort Lauderdale identifies the need to structurally repair the 48 bridges maintained by the city. Do you think that there are engineered plans ready to go out for bid for each of those bridges? Think about the condition of the seawall at Bryant Park or even the improvements needed to the shuffleboard court building. How many more can you think of?