Saturday, August 15, 2009

Search in Lake Worth for robbers armed with AK-47s |West Palm Beach News, South Florida Breaking News, Forecast, Video from WPTV

Search in Lake Worth for robbers armed with AK-47s |West Palm Beach News, South Florida Breaking News, Forecast, Video from WPTV

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Notice from City re Online Bill Payment

The online bill payment system will not be available from 8:00 A.M. on Saturday, August 15, 2009 until approximately 4:00 P.M. on Saturday, August 15, 2009.

The online bill payment system will also not be available from 8:00 A.M. on Monday, August 17, 2009 until approximately 4.00 P.M. on Tuesday, August 18, 2009.

During these times the system will be not available to perform software updates.

This was posted on the City's website, but I did not receive an e-mail from Tropic-mail. I use this functionality to pay my utility bill and it's also a way to easily check your historical data.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Palm Beach County's own Damon Weaver interviews President Obama

Comment I made on my "Contrast" post

A local blogger points out that the Commission policy used to be to allow public comment of 3 minutes per heading (e.g. new business, public hearings, etc.) You would have to squeeze all your comments on perhaps 5 items into that three minutes (and in a crazy twist, before the City Commission commented.) To be fair, the current policy allows comments on each item and limits them to 2 minutes. But this is still more restrictive than before the time that Vice Mayor Golden joined the Commission. Three minutes per item was the previous limit.

I am for increased opportunities for public input and would propose that the Commission have a "listening" meeting once a month where nothing is on the agenda but public comment.

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Contrast Already Apparent...

Please, you owe it yourself to pick up a copy of this week's Lake Worth Herald (8/13 edition.) In it we learn that Vice Mayor Jo-Ann Golden refused to answer questions posed by the Editor, Pat Parrish regarding her campaign and her accomplishments during her term on the Commission. Her excuse was that she didn't want to respond to questions until she knew who was running against her and then used the excuse not to respond via her city e-mail account, as it was a campaign matter. That is wise and proper, but there are other ways to respond, including other e-mail accounts, on the phone or in person. After all, she is a sitting Commissioner and an elected official should always be responsive to requests for information related to her actions and the city she serves.

I have also received reports that she is already walking neighborhoods. The first report came in almost two weeks ago; the latest just yesterday. Which makes me ask the question: What is she saying at these doors that she is unable to say to the Lake Worth Herald?

In stark contrast, yours truly here is essentially an "open book." In fact, I just added 16 hours of audio with me talking about the last campaign and my thoughts on goings-on in the city over a three year period. As always, if you have any questions about me, my positions on issues - anything at all - please ask! The easiest way is by e-mail at

Expect continued evasiveness from the incumbent. After all, she is part of a City Commission that further restricted public input to 2 minutes per person per item at Commission meetings and she voted for creating barriers to access of public information in the form of fees for employee time involved in records retrieval.

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

It's Official!

Added a new blog feature: "Wes' Crystal Ball"

Look along the right hand column and you will find an embedded player that allows you to listen to past Truth Matters shows, along with other Internet talk show appearances over the past three years - a total of 16 hours plus of content! Please tell your friends about this resource!
(Surgeon General Warning: Do not attempt to listen to these in one sitting)

Interesting to see what the Town of Palm Beach's Ethics Committee is discussing:

Hopefully, we in Lake Worth will soon get the opportunity to discuss these issues in an open and productive forum. I would like to see an advisory board made up of the best and the brightest we have to include represents from clergy, legal professionals and regular citizens. We still do not have an ethics ordinance, except for the weak and self-serving attempt made by Commissioner Jennings last year.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office looking for missing Lake Worth woman

Missing Person

For Immediate Release
Contact: Media Relations


The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is seeking the public’s assistance in locating a missing adult. W/F CHASTITY CHEATHAM D.O.B. 3/24/84 has gone missing from her residence at 1019 N. “C” Street, Lake Worth. CHASTITY CHEATHAM has the mental capacity of an 8 year old. CHASTITY went missing about 10:00 am this morning. CHASTITY was last seen wearing a purple shirt, long blue pants, white tennis shoes, and riding a 20” boys bicycle, black in color. Anyone with information regarding CHASTITY’S whereabouts is asked to call the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office at 688-3400.

On a related note, the Sheriff's helicopter was flying over my house most of the night with its searchlight dancing around my yard.

Great News! Chastity has been found safe by WPBPD around 4:45!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I met with Pam Lopez today and opened a campaign account for District #3. Should be official on Friday.

"Kara" Jennings in Tallahasee

Click title for link to news article and video - this time no screaming and no white sheet or stilts. Being there, she missed the discussion on the state of the beach project in humble Lake Worth - which is turning into a 19 acre parking lot. I guess local issues weren't as important to her as appearing before the Governor's cabinet. I guess this beach thing isn't glitzy enough - no TV cameras and the like.

Not that I am a conspiracy theorist, but in this digital age one letter or one digit does make a difference to the search engines. Is that why it's "Kara" instead of "Cara" in the article? I have seen similar "C" and "K" change outs for another community activist close to Commissioner Jennings. Hmmmm....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chevy Volt to get 230 mpg rating

The car can go 40 miles solely on electric power - only after that does the gas motor kick-in. 80% of commuting in the US is a distance of 40 miles or less.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tomorrow Night's (8/11) CRA Workshop Agenda

August 15th Summer Fun Event 10am-2pm

Why I Committed Career Suicide by Charles Perez

Charles Perez, the gay news anchor fired by his Miami ABC affiliate after filing a discrimination claim over a bump to weekends, says he couldn’t forgo marriage and children just to stay in the news business.

"Democracy demands a free and independent press as a check on those who govern us. The Founding Fathers must never have imagined, however, that we would abdicate that responsibility for a quick buck."

Click title for link to article.

Recovery Spending Federal Buildings

Stimulus Funds Locator Map: the General Services Administration has received $5.5 billion in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The GSA has designated more than 250 projects that will utilize these funds to build new federal buildings (courthouses and ports of entry) that are energy efficient, as well as weatherize existing buildings to improve efficiency and reduce water and energy consumption.

Three robbers pistol whip man, fire shotgun into Lake Worth house with 7 people inside; several hurt

Click title for Palm Beach Post article.

Click here for link to Delray Beach's Budget Review and Approval Schedule

Does Lake Worth have one as clear and concise as Delray Beach? And, no, if Lake Worth had one we would not be like Delray Beach. This is only another example of how a municipality can inform its residents on what is going on regarding an important item like its annual budget.

Click here for link to our Finance Department's page on the city website - under "Budget." The latest that is available is the 2008-2009 approved budget.

FYI - Last year, our former "drive-by" City Manager had his recommended budget out August 4th.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Some observations...

Just replaced my keyboard so that explains the small break in new posts here. I use my laptop like a desktop when not mobile and the old wireless keyboard developed problems working regularly - and more than a little clunky. So, now I'm back in the saddle again.

If only Lake Worth's problems were as easy to solve. I've heard some feedback from the Thursday meeting regarding the affordable housing projects - one for 52 units of rental workforce housing on 6th Avenue South and F street with 6 units being affordable rentals and another for 126 units of Senior rental housing on the NW corner of Lake Worth Road and Boutwell with 13 units being very affordable. The Commission voted 3-2 (Clemens, Lowe, Golden in the affirmative) to grant $200,000 each - but whether the projects receive the money will depend on a housing tax credit lottery.

There were some comments made by Commissioners that concern me - that people have reported to me. The meeting was at 10:30 a.m. and I happened to be consumed with other tasks - as I am sure that most of Lake Worth's working population was. And, it so happens that the latest audio of a Commission meeting available on the city's website at the current time is from the special meeting of July 23.

Apparently, one prominent Commissioner made comments to the effect that the city is essentially built out, that the Gateway zoning district needs significant changes and that instead of building buildings, we should be creating parks. Parks good - any development bad - shut off mind and open mouth.

If this Commissioner is serious about this, then I suggest she work on calculating the value of all vacant and derelict properties in the city. If she needs help in finding them, we can examine an aerial map or perhaps drive around the city. Areas that I would guide her to would be along any of our major transportation corridors in the city. Once we determine the value, we would add a factor to reflect just compensation for the property owners. Then we'd sharpen our pencils and look at the net effect of taking all of that private property off the tax roles. Remember, we were the municipality with the second highest decline in property values in Palm Beach County - 24%. Then we multiply that over a good number of years - maybe the term of the length of bond to support the city's purchase of that private property. Finally, we compute the final figure and have the voters pass a multi-million dollar bond issue to support all of these land purchases for parks. Oh, and we can't forget the cost for maintaining and improving the parks (buildings, huts, sheds.)

Then we will for once and for all be able to say goodbye to all that nasty development, tear up our Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code. We'd spend our days working to pay off the bonds, paying our high millage rate and planning barbecues in our new park system.

And you say, Wes, that could never happen, have you lost your mind? And I would answer that when I hear that one answer to the Sunset property morass is for the city to buy it, it leads one to think that the scenario I painted is indeed possible. If that was an option at the time the Planning and Zoning Board was considering the original proposal, wouldn't that have saved everyone a lot of time, money and grief! But how practical a solution is that when the City decides it doesn't like what a private property owner is proposing for their property. I would say it would get to be a fairly expensive proposition.

Isn't that going in the wrong direction? Wouldn't the smart thing to do be to make the city an attractive place to do business and invest - so that we could rely on our own property values to support funding of our basic services and cover our utilities' fixed and operating costs - while keeping our millage rate below confiscatory levels?

New investment dollars are out there - it's a matter of creating a stable and predictable regulatory environment so that investors believe that they have a chance at a decent return on that investment.

That stable and predictable regulatory environment does not exist in Lake Worth. Instead, we have a Comprehensive Plan that is not in compliance after over a million dollars spent in a visioning and plan creation process that has yet to bear fruit. It's been two and a half years since I have been on the Planning and Zoning Board and at the time we were meeting every week - working on just that task. This month it may finally make it across the finish line, only to be held up by a possible injunction on the part of the owners of the Sunset property - which could result in more years of "limbo."

I responded to someone asking questions about historic rehabilitation in Lake Worth - what the process would be for someone to come in and take one of our more notable historic structures, restore it (the real definition of restore) and move their headquarters here. I started by suggesting they talk to our city planner - who is barely out of school and has little historic preservation experience other than this job. Then I said that they'd have to make an application before the Historic Resource Preservation Board, which is part of the Planning and Zoning Board. Then I remembered that the Commission wants to separate the Historic Preservation Board from the Planning and Zoning Board - so I told them of that situation. I said that you really don't know right now who would be sitting on that board, so I wouldn't know who you should talk to. And then I thought about having them talk with someone on the City Commission and thought better of that. So this potential restoration of a historic building in our downtown that could be a destination and an employer is just left with layer upon layer of uncertainty.

Uncertainty does not attract investment. Investment with money in the city is not necessarily all bad - message to those on the Commission who adhere to the policy of "no."

You could actually craft a Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations (a zoning code) that give predictable results for all sides of the equation - public and private sectors. You can even craft ways for the development to pay for its impacts to offset infrastructure costs. If the regulations are perceived to be fair and relatively unchangeable, then investment money will flow. Until then, we will continue to be red-lined by anyone with significant money to invest in our community.

Building permits, inspections and customer service all create more levels of uncertainty in Lake Worth.

Why isn't anyone addressing the need for stability and predictability in our regulatory environment? I believe it's because they understand the facts as I have laid them out here - that it will send development away. In a way, it's a passive-aggressive way to say no to investment. Let the process, or lack thereof, give them the answer of whether or not to invest in Lake Worth's future.

The means become the end.

By encouraging investment in our community, we could be correcting imbalances identified by Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council that show we have to travel in our fossil fuel burning vehicles to places outside the city to meet many of our basic needs to live - food, clothing, housewares, etc. We could be doing more to plan for a more diverse way to travel to and from our workplaces. We could attract employers that actually pay a decent living wage and use our languishing Park of Commerce. We could jointly plan with our neighboring municipalities on sharing of resources and coordinated planning.

Or, like the current City Commission chooses, not to go after $23.3 million of Federal dollars to address real needs in our neighborhoods suffering from the foreclosure crisis. Or, like the current City Commission chooses, we could balk at adhering to any and all agreements with other government entities - making sure that the message is sent "Lake Worth is unpredictable and uncooperative."

Enough for now. I'm starting to sound like someone running for office.