Saturday, July 11, 2009

Street Pianos in London - Why not Lake Worth?

Click title for link. Cool performance art idea.

BBC - Link - Art project puts pianos on street

Celi Appeals Dismissed re Gulfstream

I'm informed that the Circuit Court denied two of three pending Celi appeals. He then voluntarily withdrew the third one. Click title for link to Circuit Court website. These were against the City of Lake Worth for various Gulfstream approvals and time extensions.

Mr. Celi is famous for taking hours of the City Commission's precious time trying to convince them that the Planning and Zoning Board and or Historic Preservation Board didn't consider an important fact in granting various approvals.

This is wrong on many levels...

Click here for PB Post article that appeared after the meeting. They provide a little more detail regarding the contracts that were involved. Be sure to listen to the end of the February 26th workshop meeting by clicking link above. There was no clear direction given. Minutes of the meeting appear below. Re-post from last week.

Where do I begin with this one? This appears on the New Business portion of next Tuesday's agenda. I have included a link to the audio record of the meeting. Click on the title and that will bring up your Windows Media Player. Go towards the end of the meeting by clicking your mouse on the right side of the moving blue line at the bottom of the player. Go to where it says you're at the 1:55 mark and click to hear the actual discussion on employment contracts referenced in this memo.

Below are the two pages from the minutes of this workshop meeting when this item was discussed - no action could be taken. The minutes were approved May 5, 2009.

This is Commissioner Mulvehill asking the Mayor and the rest of the Commission to bring in outside attorneys to sue former City Manager Robert Baldwin for not following the direction of the City Commission - supposedly made clear at the workshop meeting of February 26, 2009 - and executing contracts for certain employees, resulting in an obligation of the city to pay severance pay.

If you listen to the audio, you hear Commissioner Mulvehill saying that she agrees with Commissioner Lowe that this item should not be discussed at this meeting. She suggests that the item be work-shopped so that a clear policy is developed. The minutes reflect this. There was no direction given to Mr. Baldwim other than to talk with the various elected officials and act accordingly. While there was one specific employee situation discussed, that employee was never identified and there was no discussion of other contracts. The only need identified was that the Commission have a workshop to clarify its policy. I am sure that those Lake Worth residents that dwell in the hall of mirrors will conclude differently. They'll be the ones in attendance Tuesday night talking about how we should spend money on attorneys and further embarass the city.

Now, I am not a defender of Mr. Baldwin. In my mind, he was essentially a "drive-by" City Manager that over-delegated responsibilities and never really invested himself in the future of Lake Worth. But, I am a defender of process and the City Charter. Here are excepts from the Charter that address the separation of powers between the City Commission and the City Manager:
So, we have a clear "over-reaching" of the City Commission into the administration of the City. Listening to the audio, we hear Mr. Baldwin asking for clarification of a Commission policy regarding contract employees. Reading between the lines, we get the sense that it involves the amount of severance pay attached to such contracts. But the Commission fails to give direction and the person writing the "let's see if we can sue" memo doesn't even want to discuss it.

Now, there are two things that could have happened. One is that the City Commission and/or City Manager never scheduled a workshop to further refine the policy before Mr. Baldwin's departure. These employment contracts were on his desk, were the last order of his business and acted in his capacity as City Manager to consummate the contracts before leaving. Or, and this is the more problematic scenario, he went around to our elected officials and gained "consensus" behind closed doors and out-of-the-sunshine. We'll see if anyone can shed light on this.

Commissioner Mulvehill's memo says that the policy was clear from that meeting. Listening to the audio and reviewing the minutes, it is clearly NOT CLEAR. If anything, the Commission is to blame from not making it clearer in a public forum before push-came-to-shove and the contracts got executed per the City Manager's powers as given in the Charter.

More troubling is the message this says to the world about being a professional employee for the City of Lake Worth. What this potentially says is that, "If you work for the City of Lake Worth in an administrative capacity, even if you adhere to the City Charter and policies enacted by the City Commission, you are liable to face a lawsuit for your actions once you leave our employment - even if the action was prompted by the inability of the City Commission or Mayor to articulate city policy as it related to your action." I blame the Commission here not being more PUBLICLY explicit and it was really treading outside its Charter mandated powers in the first place.

And here we have the city now using the services of Ms. Hoffman to recruit a new professional for the position recently vacated by Ms. Bach in the form of the Community Services Director. How does this sort of statement go over with the pool of potential applicants for that position or any other high level administrative position with the city? Not well is the answer. Like so many things in Lake Worth, we will be left with adverse selection. The better candidates will not bother with our recklessness and confusion and will go to places where there is a clear direction and established procedures are followed.

Lake Worth - left to chose from the worst of the worst, instead of the best of the best.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Special CRA Meeting 7/9 - click for back-up

Received: Apology Letter from City re Cancelling of CRA Interviews

I hope this helps to not turn-off the other 30 people that wanted a chance to participate in making their city a better place to live. Would you be encouraged to serve the city having received this letter?

More support for changing copyright law to help newspapers

More support for changing copyright law to help newspapers. Dinosaurs' last gasp?
After the panel discussion concluded, I asked Klein whether his remarks mean that NNN or NAA plan to get behind the proposal put forth by brothers David and Daniel Marburger, a First Amendment lawyer and an economics professor. Their plan would limit the ability of "parasitic aggregators" to summarize and link to news stories. Klein declined to comment specifically on the Marburger plan, saying he wasn't familiar enough with its details.

Breaking All Previous Records for Blog Visits - Thanks for stopping by!

Municipal Lawsuit attacking SB 360

Cities suing to block lawmakers' growth-management re-write

posted by Aaron Deslatte on Jul 8, 2009 9:26:23 AM

TALLAHASSEE -- A group of South Florida local government has filed a lawsuit to block the growth-management re-write lawmakers passed last spring, which would dramatically scale back the state's requirements for developers to build roads around their projects.

The lawsuit filed was filed in Leon County Circuit Court against Gov. Charlie Crist -- who signed the law last month -- as well as legislative leaders on behalf of the City of Weston, the Village of Key Biscayne, the Town of Cutler Bay, Lee County, the City of Deerfield Beach, the City of Miami Gardens, the City of Fruitland Park and City of Parkland.

Jamie A. Cole, the lead attorney for the group, said Wednesday in a statement that the bill (SB 360) would have a detrimental impact on local governments, forcing "unfunded mandates" on them to build the infrastructure needed to support unbridled growth -- once it returns someday.

“We believe that the enactment of the Act was unconstitutional, violating both Article III, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution, which requires that every law embrace only one subject, and Article VII, Section 18, which prevents the legislature from imposing unfunded mandates on local governments without following certain procedures,” he said.

Abandoned Housing in Detroit

Ghost of Lake Worth's future? Click title for link.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Shout-out to White Apron Catering - 2nd time this week I went for the veggie pita and braised kale - Superb!

White Apron Catering Weekly take Out menu July 6-10

Take-Out Menu Date: July 6-10, 2009

Sandwiches: (Price includes one Side dish of your choice)

* Grilled Free Range Chicken Caesar Wrap with crisp romaine and shaved parmesan reggiano $8.50

* Ham Salad with baby greens, sliced tomato and served on a fresh baked croissant $8.50

* Garden Vegetable Pita: Carrots, radish, tomato, cucumber, arugula, sprouts with a zesty hummus on a whole wheat pita $7.50

Dinner Entrees: (Price includes one side dish of your choice)

* Crab Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp with a lemon-saffron aioli $14.50

* Beef Braciola: All natural skirt steak, rolled with a spinach Fontina stuffing, seared and braised until tender $14.00

* Caribbean Jerk Style Chicken: Free range chicken breast roasted and served with a Caribbean salsa $14.50

Soup: Butternut Squash, Apple, Pear Soup $4.50


* Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with a coconut Curry Dressing $8.50/lb

* Watermelon, Arugula, Red Onion Salad $8.50 1/2 lb

* Orzo salad with Black Beans, Garbanzos and Sweet Pepper, Cilantro-lime $ 8.50/lb

* Braised Kale $8.00/lb

* Grilled Garden Vegetable Platter $8.50/lb

*Chefs Selection of Freshly Baked Desserts: Priced per piece

Lake Worth moves forward with reverse-osmosis water plant

PB Post summary of last night's meeting. Click above for link. Not in the write-up, but apparently the Commission thought that it was more their fault for not giving clear direction to former City Manager Baldwin than it was his fault for executing the contracts. Reason and sanity prevailed - this time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My two cents on the water issue...

Prediction: We will not be able to get out of the County contract and we'll go ahead with the Reverse Osmosis plant. The end result will be more water than we know what to do with - which may not be a bad position to be in if we start improving our reputation - read "brand" - and are able to sell our water to other municipal neighbors. This isn't happening because someone planned it, it's happening in spite of ourselves. The RO plant will erase any long term capital savings by going solely with the County.

We'll see what transpires tonight. It would be nice to get a fix on costs - broken down in thousand gallon increments for comparison, but I don't think that will happen.

Something you won't read on other sites: I could be wrong.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tonight's (7/7) City Commission Agenda

Click title for link and full back-up material.

Found on YouTube - 1950s era Florida Tourist Ads

These are fun. Part of the propaganda that led Florida to be the fourth most populous state in the US - and why we remain wedded to a tourist based economy, but not as much as before. If you are short on time, make sure to watch the second one: "Roads to Romance." It was sponsored by Chevrolet and features Coral Gables.


San Franciscans can Tweet to City Customer Service

Click title for link. Examples of what you can use this for include:

* Street Cleaning
* Graffiti Removal
* Pothole and Sidewalk Defects
* Abandoned Vehicles
* City Garbage Can Maintenance
* Department Information (office hours, location, phone numbers)
* ... and much more!

The service is operation 24/7/365

Sunday, July 5, 2009

American propaganda - Capitalism (1948) - or "Mr. Brown Sells Weenies"

Interesting from a historic perspective at the dawn of the Cold War era. It's a little corny and little campy, but still reminds us about the economic system that our country is built upon - and is going through a major overhaul at the current time. One of the major themes here is the notion of private property rights. Zoning is not dealt with in this piece, but it is a police power exercised by government to control the impacts of land uses on the general public - essentially restraining the rights of property owners.

Now, grab some popcorn and let's learn a little about Mr. Brown's weenies...

Successful City Secrets and The Truth About Green Jobs

This comes from "Smart City Radio" - a series of programs on urban planning and how a city works. Click title for a link to the page where you can hear the show on how cities can be successful, sustainable entities. A lot of discussion about how density is the key to sustainability and how iconic landmarks are important for a city's signature (hmmm.) This is really from a worldwide perspective and is eye-opening.

The second interview talks about the economic development potential in green jobs and how cities are responding to the threat of global climate change. Surprisingly, they don't see much advantage by a city having its own utility in ways to encourage resulting industries and cites Austin, Texas as an example.

This episode aired on May 13, 2009.

I'll make it a point to look over some other shows and share them from time to time.

For those who don't think buildings can fail structurally...

"...building didn't meet city codes..."

EDITORIAL: Buying a ticket to oblivion

Click title for link to Palm Beach Post editorial on Tri-Rail finances. They're relying on former capital replacement monies to fund operations. This in the hopes the state legislature comes up with some sort of funding source (like the $2 rental car fee) in the next legislative session.