Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stimulating Public Comment from Santa Cruz, California

Checkpoints set up for the weekend in Lake Worth and Martin, Indian River counties

Click title for link. Note:
Troopers will conduct a checkpoint looking for unlicensed drivers and checking for cars with unsafe brakes, worn tires and defective lighting equipment, according to an FHP report. The checkpoint will be on Lake Worth Road under the Interstate 95 bridge Saturday.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My CRA Board Member comments at the end of the 7/14 meeting...

YouTube description: This is what I am referring to as my anti-tyranny speech - in reaction to comments from fellow Community Redevelopment Agency Commissioner Ed Grimm regarding my positions and questions related to the Lake Worth Resource Center - operating out of a substandard city recreation building. The LWRC made an application for a grant before the CRA at this meeting and the request was approved on a vote of 4-2, with me casting one of the dissenting votes.

Commissioner Grimm suggested that it was somehow a conflict of interest by my attempt to register as a worker at the center - and I respond accordingly. In another related video, the CRA's attorney confirms that it was not a conflict.

At the time of the meeting, it looked like it might be the board's last as the City Commission was to meet the following Monday to discuss taking over the function of the CRA. It turns out that the CRA board will continue to exist for the near future and new applicants will be considered to fill the board's six vacancies. I have re-applied to continue on the CRA.

Thank you to Jim Stafford for his valuable assistance in putting together this video.

1 9 0 9 F o u n d e r s P a c k a g e

Now Through December 2009, depending on where you stay in Palm Beach County,
pay only $19.09 for an additional night after a stay of 2, 3, or 4 nights.
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In celebration of the County's Centennial.

Click title for details.

America's Healthiest Beach and Lake Getaways - Healthy Living -

America's Healthiest Beach and Lake Getaways - Healthy Living -

Link to article with complete listing.

Where's Lake Worth? Top Ten Healthiest Beach and Lake Towns

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Music to ponder the previous by...

Click here for the back-up item regarding the potential Beach Protection Charter Amendment(s)

This was left as a comment by Anon. under the Beach Protection charter amendment post...

And is worthy of being brought forward for more visibility:
Here we go again! Using the beach as a political football to further one's career, rather than really doing anything to improve access to, use, environmental function, or appearance of the beach. I can hardly wait to hear all the horror stories about the (straw)(boogie)men who are about to rape our glorious beach (that we have taken oh such good care of these many decades!). The threat of course will not include those concessionaires who have been engaged in systematic banditry -- with full City cooperation -- at the beach for years. There will be endless opportunity for self-righteous, self-congratulatory piety and chest pounding. Promoting a charter amendment is certainly a lot easier than actually doing anything useful at the beach. Not a single tree will be planted; instead, groves of trees must die to provide paper for political flyers and door hangers extolling the virtues of the Charter amendment's proponents and how much they truly "love" our City. Let's endlessly replay these stale political canards. Will we ever learn? It seems not...
Unfortunately, I agree. And it recalls the last election cycle of Commissioner's Jennings' ethics ordinance that had little to do with ethics and was supposedly designed to end "pay to play" campaign contributions. But, since it wasn't passed, Commissioner Jennings' used it in her re-election campaign as a sledgehammer to hit competing candidates over the head with. Never mind that her candidate for the District #4 seat took massive campaign contributions from beach casino tenants - all of who's businesses had contracts with the city in the form of their leases. Those contributions would have been outlawed under her supposed "ethics ordinance." Expect this to be another "litmus test" for candidates. Think how "Beach Protection Charter Amendment" will sound uttered by the lips of Commissioner Jennings' political machine - can you say "Motherhood and Apple Pie?"

I'll be at City Hall tomorrow and will try to get more detail. Expect this to appear on the August 7th Commission agenda to put it officially on the ballot. The timing is tight - the amendment has to be to the Supervisor of Elections by 5 p.m. and requires two readings...hmmmm.

HOPE Poster of 2009 - get your own by clicking here!

ALERT - Ballot Issue re Beach on Add/Delete by Commissioner Jennings

Lake Worth Downtown Dance Open House & Fundraiser: August 1st, 7:00 PM

Good Afternoon,

I would like to take this opportunity to inform you of an event taking place on August 1st at 7:00 PM at Downtown Dance, located at 811 Lake Avenue. The event is an open house at which the students and teachers will be performing modern, ballet, hip-hop and other pieces that they have been working on throughout the summer. Admission is free, however donations will go to the “Save the Space” fund, which was created to raise money for the purchase of the space to ensure that it can remain as a dance studio.

As a resident of the Lake Worth area, a member of a company that does work for the City of Lake Worth, and a strong supporter of the arts, I feel it is important that the downtown area preserves its unique character and variety by retaining businesses like Downtown Dance.

If you would like more information please go to , call Anna Nunes (Director of the studio) at (561) 588-3828.

Thank you,

Suzanne Dombrowski, P.E.

Let's not follow the South Korean model...

South Korean Parliament members in a cat-mouse fight which displays a serious fight between two opposing parties.

Readers on 7/23 - Click here for live link to City Commission Budget Workshop

No other back-up provided. FYI - I meet with Ms. Stanton for the first time tomorrow afternoon.

PB Post EDITORIAL: A shock to Lake Worth

Click above for link. An excerpt:

"The real terror for residents has not been fear that power might go out. It's been opening utility bills that come in the mail. Lake Worth has been working to improve reliability and lower rates. And it appears that the security "breach" was, at worst, the result of overheated imaginations."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Click here for the now working audio recording link to last Tuesday's (7/14) CRA meeting

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions/Answers re CRAs from the Florida Redevelopment Association

One of the figures being bandied about last night...

by many at the meeting was the ratio of 80% of CRAs in the state/nation, what have you, that are solely run by elected officials and 20% of CRAs are made up of appointed/non-elected members.

I took the time today to go to an official source and put together a spreadsheet listing all 201 redevelopment agencies in the state of Florida and their composition. You can click the title for a link to the spreadsheet.

The results: 26% appointed; 66% elected officials; 9% a hybrid of the two.

While the numbers are still in favor of elected officials acting as CRAs, it is not as one-sided as reported during the meeting. The figure used last night also didn't consider hybrid boards, which is what it sounded like we were headed for if the motion to dissolve the CRA passed. For what it's worth, it is the least popular option of the three.

I believe the moral to the story here is that it really depends on the goals of the community and how open elected officials are to points of view that may be different than those of their own.

Lake Worth votes to maintain Community Redevelopment Agency

PB Post article re last night's meeting - click title for link.

In the wake of last night's meeting...

and Vice Mayor Golden's call for the need for transparency, I placed another "hot button" issue in the right hand column of the blog. It will bring up posts related to the Lake Worth CDCs application for a $300,000 grant or forgivable loan from the CRA - the week after the last unsuccessful attempt - led by then Commissioner Golden - to take over the CRA function. If you haven't already read these, they should add light to the current situation.

Note: The application was turned down by the CRA before I joined the board in August of last year.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back from City Commission meeting: CRA lives to see another day or two...

Motion to dissolve the appointed CRA fails on a vote of 2-3. Golden and Jennings voted for dissolution. More later.

Do not be fooled by the words/figures uttered by Colonel Half-truth!

The current Mayoral candidate quoted above should be more accurate when speaking at a public meeting - lest others get the wrong idea. Surely someone who has desires to become an official acting in the public interest would be interested in spreading factual information. I am sure this is just an oversight.

The $800,000 "spent" on property located on 6th Avenue South was actually $152,160.68.

Demolition Costs CRA paid: $62,760.68 (CRA was responsible for ½ of the costs)

Option payments for property: $89,400.00

I am sure that Colonel Half-truth's figures being off by $647,839.32 can be attributed to rounding errors.

CRAs: The difference between "spending" and "investing"

Community Redevelopment Agencies are economic development tools established by state legislatures across the country. When a new CRA is established in a community a base taxable property value is recorded. All increases in taxable value from that point in time on, through the existence of the CRA, create the revenue that funds the CRA. In Lake Worth's case, property taxes on that increased valuation that would otherwise have gone to Palm Beach County and the City of Lake Worth general fund can be used to eliminate and reduce slum and blight conditions within the CRA district. The 2008-2009 annual operating budget for the Lake Worth CRA was around $5 million. (Note: There is now a separate capital budget that reflects payments on bonds, etc.) From this revenue, bonds for redevelopment projects related to public infrastructure can be supported. This is how improvements to 6th Avenue South and 10th Avenue North were, and are being, accomplished.

Click title of post for interactive map showing the CRA district boundaries.

Here is what one current mayoral candidate thinks about the CRA. This is taken from the June 8th City Commission meeting when the status of the CRA became an issue.

This is where it is important to separate money being "spent" and money being "invested." Money spent is generally not expected to have a return - money invested carries an expectation of a return. The expenditure of monies on the Gateway projects was in anticipation of the increased taxable value of those properties through their ultimate redevelopment. It is money that the city will see again, in addition to eliminating the blighting influence caused by the former run down condition of those streets.

Had we waited for the County to come along and upgrade/maintain those streets - we'd still be waiting.

Special City Commission Meeting - 5:30 p.m. today re Future of CRA

Tonight is when we find out what the disposition of the CRA will be. At issue is whether the CRA board will continue to be an independent board appointed with volunteer citizens as it is now, or if it will be absorbed by the City Commission. Back on June 8th, interviews were to be held where more than 30 people, many with strong qualifications, planned to be interviewed. These people were turned around at the door with little notice the day of the meeting that the very future of the CRA as an independent board was at stake.

The reason for the abrupt turn about stems from an issue related to the terms of CRA board members. State statute requires staggered terms for a CRA board so that the make-up of a board is not radically altered from one appointment cycle to another - something that promotes continuity and institutional memory - commodities that Lake Worth is usually short on. Had the City Commission gone ahead, it appeared that the new appointments would not have been staggered and the possibility existed that six (6) new people could have been appointed to the seven (7) member board at one time. This non-staggered term issue was a long standing one. Staff and the city attorney were asked to research how it came to be long before the June 8th meeting. True to form, information on the how and a little bit about the why came late in the week before the June 8th meeting.

Even though take-over of the CRA was never mentioned during two joint CRA/City Commission meetings earlier this year, Vice Mayor Golden, project manager of the Lake Worth CDC used this as an opportunity to grab control of CRA money and consolidate power. Here is an excerpt from the minutes of the June 8th meeting:

You may recall the Vice Mayor Golden's agency applied to the CRA for a $300,000 grant or forgivable loan after her previous failed attempt to take over the functions of the CRA. Regarding the reference to "turmoil" - I'm not sure what she meant about various members of the CRA being in turmoil. In the year that I have served on the CRA, I haven't experienced any turmoil. Our discussions have always been focused on the issue at hand and up until recently, communication with the City Commission has been better than in the past.

The Commission was about to take action right then and there, but then decided it would be best to give proper notice of such a takeover - thus we have the meeting tonight.

Here is how Commissioner Jennings saw this possibility - taken from the minutes:

I guess Commissioner Jennings sees this either as an opportunity to make political appointments - not based on whether or not an applicant has knowledge of redevelopment. It seems like some of the discussion tonight will revolve around the CRA becoming an advisory board - one that makes recommendations to the City Commission.

We'll see what happens tonight. Click title for link to complete back-up material.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Excerpt from Larry King Live re Walter Cronkite Passing...

The host was John King of CNN. Here he is talking with Sam Donaldson.

J. KING: We see there pictures, Bernie Shaw, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw and Walter Cronkite on the screen. Sam Donaldson, my friend, is on the phone.

Sam, will we ever live in an age where people trust those of us giving the news on television? I have worked alongside you, I've competed with you, I've watched you as a colleague, nobody works harder than Sam Donaldson.

But will people ever trust us as they did in the days of Cronkite and of course, you've mentioned, of course, you know, your former colleague Peter as well?

DONALDSON: Well, I hope they will. I mean all we have to sell is our credibility. I mean certainly in my case you may be, I think you're an exception, we don't sell our handsomeness. We don't sell anything else. But when we say something we want people to understand that we think we're telling you what is actually there.

We may be wrong. We'll have to correct it tomorrow if we find out that we didn't have enough information. Or we didn't know how to process that information, but that is so important in the business.

The fear is, I believe in all flowers blooming, the Internet, the bloggers, let everyone have a say, but the fear is that if you watch or listen to people who don't care about the facts, they simply care about their opinions and their political agenda and you take that as factual, then we come on with something that sounds different, how are you going to make the distinction?

I think in the end, though, people will sort it out. They'll find the websites that really bring you information and not just opinion. They'll listen to people who have something to say and they may say it with very great passion, but it's based on factual material and not just opinion.

I think in the end it'll be alright. But at the moment, John, we're going through a transition period.

J. KING: Sam Donaldson, thank you for your thoughts and reflections tonight. Sam is a great friend. Walter Cronkite a great man we have lost as the age of 92.