Saturday, September 5, 2009

Digging into the budget this weekend - I have a lot of questions.

One of them: Can someone tell me when the Commission officially decided to renovate the Casino building?

I'll have a more exhaustive post later on.

Woodrow Wilson:

"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand."

Sheenagh Pugh - Positive Thoughts

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
From bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
Faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
Elect an honest man; decide they care
Enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they are born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
Amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
That seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Campaign Contributions

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone for the many kind words of support and encouragement as I embark on my campaign to become the next Commissioner for District #3. I am running against an incumbent that will be well financed and have many feet on the street. We are finishing preparations for the campaign website, signs and other informational materials now. You'll be seeing the results of those efforts soon.

In order to mount an effective campaign, I will need resources in the form of your time and financial support. We have all been through difficult economic times and I realize it will be a stretch for many to contribute financially to a campaign as they have in the past. Don't let this deter you from offering other ways to support my campaign - be it placing a yard sign on your property, volunteering to call or walk and spread the word to your neighbors and friends, host a party, etc.

If you would like to contribute financially to my campaign, you may make out a check to the "Campaign to Elect Wes Blackman" and send it to Wes Blackman Campaign, 241 Columbia Drive, Lake Worth, Florida 33460. Maximum contributions are $500 per individual or business entity. If you make a contribution of more than $100, we'll need to know your occupation for reporting purposes.

If you would like to volunteer your time or other in-kind resources, please contact me at
I consider the city to be in a crisis situation. The Chinese symbol for crisis is made up of the symbols for danger and opportunity. Let's meet this crisis by addressing the opportunities before us the best way we can.

I ask for your vote on November 3rd.
Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Excerpt from an e-mail received today from a supporter...

I think if some Lake Worth residents found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, they'd just sit on it in case the price of gold ever went up (don't want to get short-changed), spend some money trying to turn it into silver and/or complain that it isn't platinum.

Green Building: Treasure Coast & Palm Beach Branch Annual Meeting: 'Get Up to Speed with LEED'

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lake Worth embraces PBSO, lower crime rates

Click title for link to PB Post article. Commissioner Golden voted against going with the Sheriff. She also promised "a cop on every block" in her first campaign. I am running against Commissioner Golden.

Please vote for me on November 3rd!

Click here for chart showing dramatic improvements.
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Lake Worth Bike Night September 3, 2009 Newsletter

What I'm hearing...

...from people as I walk around in my quest for the District #3 Commissioner seat. They paint an interesting picture of the state of the City.

One person moved here recently from Pittsburgh. He bought a home on N. G Street. He paid around $50,000 for it - thought it was quite a deal in relation to Ft. Lauderdale and liked the feel of Lake Worth for a variety of reasons. He recently received his proposed property tax notice and discovered that the taxable value of the property dropped from $80,000 last year to a little over $30,000 this year. After he applies for his double homestead exemption, he will pay a minimum total property tax of $460 per year. He is happy about this. But, think of the implications of this on a city wide basis. And we thought that this year's decrease in property values was bad - next year will be even worse.

I met someone else who grew up on South E Street, south of 6th Avenue. He and his family moved out of Lake Worth in the mid 1980s when crime became intolerable - he was about ten at the time. He remembers playing around the railroad tracks, finding railroad spikes, taking them home and painting them - making mobiles and stuff. His family moved to Palm Springs and his parents still live in that same house.

Another person on North O Street is renting a house from someone who is facing foreclosure. He's lived there at least 10 years and is just about the equivalent of a homeowner, he just doesn't have the deed. He has put a lot of money in the property - landscaping, paint, fixtures - the property is a showplace. He thought about arranging to buy the property and has good enough credit to do so, but can't justify doing that when an average summer utility bill ranges from $600 to $800 a month. He has given up trying to figure out when the trash and the green pick up takes place - he's been fined numerous times for putting things out in the wrong week. I told to refer to the schedule I have here on the blog - he's been doing that for a while now and says it helps - but the city doesn't follow its own schedule sometimes. He even cleared debris and vegetation from a neighboring property that was under foreclosure and then was cited for that as well. He probably has until the end of the year to move out. The bank sent an inspector to look at the property who just shook his head in disbelief that a property this nicely maintained will join the ranks of vacant, foreclosed properties.

Another property owner on North K has been battling the city over the condition and construction activity going on across the street. Between the vagrants and the squatters on one of them, to a perpetual blighting situation not helped by the city continuing to issue building permits for a building with running fines and one that the value of the improvements are more than 33% of the value of the building - meaning all code requirements need to be met, the property owner is losing all patience with the lack of response from City Hall. In talking with them yesterday, there does seem to be some progress in addressing the issue and they are crossing their fingers that this might be the beginning to the end of their problems.

On L Street, just north downtown, a friend told me about a visit from Commissioner Golden who knocked on the door asking for support in her re-election campaign. He told her about the problems he's having dealing with Citizen's and his windstorm insurance. They are telling him that he has to replace his roof with a metal one - which will range from $14,000 to $17,000. He is a doorman/security guard at a Palm Beach condominium and doesn't have access to that type of money. Commissioner Golden told him that she and the rest of the Commission are working on the problem.


When will these and other people see the beginning to the end of their problems?
Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

From the same PB Post article:

In a restructuring that includes the creation of an Office of Management and Budget, 26 jobs are being eliminated, including 10 in code enforcement, but another 26 positions are being created.


Lake Worth residents will pay more taxes under proposed budget

Click title for link to PB Post article. The ugly nitty gritty:

The changes are coming because the city is merging its fire department with Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue beginning Oct. 1.

The proposed 2010 tax rate cap of $6.30 per $1,000 taxable value, including debt service, is down from $7.88 this year.

But when the county's proposed Fire-Rescue rate of $3.46 per $1,000 of taxable value is added, the total proposed rate is $9.76. That's a 24 percent increase and is near the state-mandated property tax rate cap of $10 per $1,000 taxable value.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jeff Clemens distributed a letter he wrote to Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Jeff Koons, asking the county to reduce the Fire-Rescue tax rate to help cities and towns such as Lake Worth that have contracts with the county.

"I understand the purpose is to collect the same amount of revenue as last year," Clemens wrote. "But all municipalities and the county are having to institute major cuts to services."

The taxable value of property in Lake Worth plummeted 24 percent this year, to $1.48 billion.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Don't hike Palm Beach County fire taxes, Lake Worth mayor says

Click title for link to PB Post article. This is a serious issue, but how many times can we go to the County with our hat-in-hand? Fire MSTU tax, $5 million grant for the beach, County water contract, Park of Commerce I missing any? Where is our negotiating leverage on any of these issues?

Commissioners vote to send Lake Worth beach site plans to county

Click title for link to PB Post article on last night's meeting.

All too true...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

FYI - view of the back of dune area the Commission talked about a lot tonight...

South of existing pavilion, looking south
Looking east, just north of existing pavilion
North of existing pavilion, looking south.

Commissioner Golden on change...

under discussion related to the beach at tonight's City Commission meeting, she said, "You know, we all have to get used to change. Manny has to get used to living in a ghetto until things pick up around here."

That in response to public comments under non-agendaed items when Manuel Rodriguez complained about prostitution, over grown yards and other issues at 17th Avenue North and J Street.

Perhaps you will explain how things will pick up around here if you are re-elected or perhaps Manny just needs to wait until November.
Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Make No Bones About It: Archeology is a Good Thing

(This is a re-post of an item related to archeology. Commissioner Mulvehill, who acts like the tenants at the beach are her clients, has pulled another "bone" from the pile that points to not disturbing the existing building - this time due to possible pre-historic remains on the beach property. This issue last raised its head in August and September 2006. The existence of any sorts of archeological resources at the beach does not mean we can't go forward with any plan - remodeling or demolition/new structure - we just need to adjust the procedure to ensure protection of those resources. Commissioner Mulvehill simply found another way to say "no." The post begins by addressing the possibility of remains on the Sunset property and later addresses the beach.

This was written while I was serving as Chairman of the PZHRPB)

Re-posted on 9/01/09 - Since so much mention was made of the dune being an archeological resource, I thought it would be good to re-post this.

This is in answer to the following post in another thread on

"What about the historic building on the sunset property Wes ? What about the archaeological consideration there and at the beach both of which were described in letters to you from the county's archaeologist... When will you speak to these issues here in writing? You have answered none of these issues here."

In Christian Davenport's (PBC Archeologist) letter of June 5, 2006 to Mark Drautz regarding the Sunset Drive Property, he states the following:

"Since the property is located in the City of Lake Worth, I have no official jurisdiction in this matter." Further, "Since the City of Lake Worth is a Certified Local Government it must have means to account for cultural resources whether they are historic or pre-historic in nature." And, "Review of the map (of Known Archeological Sites and Conservation Areas)indicates no previously identified archeological or historic resources are known to exist on the property."

However, he goes on to say, "...the property should be considered an area of high potential for containing Native American cultural remains (artifacts and a remote (underlined) possibility of human skeleton remains)." And then he lists five factors that lead him to this determination.

He also indicates that the City may designate the farmstead as historic if it chooses.

He recommended that the City require the developer to hire a Cultural Resource Management firm to perform a phase one resource assessment prior to the beginning of construction. (A recommendation similar to that was made in Robert Carr's letter dated October 3, 2005).

One of the more important final points he makes is the following:"...even if cultural resources are found on the property it does not mean the project could not proceed. The property should meet one of more of the criteria set forth by the National Register of Historic Places to determine the significance of a historic resource. If none of these criteria are met, than (then) the property should be allowed to be developed without further delay. Even if one or more of the criteria are met the property can still be developed. All that will be required is the adverse effects to the historic resources be properly mitigated prior to development."

Note the date of the above letter. On November 15, 2005, the City and the petitioner/owner of the property entered into an annexation agreement. Item #9 specifically addresses what happens if archeological artifacts are discovered, the stopping of construction and notification of applicable agencies.

Remember - this is only the annexation agreement. They still have to apply for a special use permit for town homes (if that is what the choose to build) and receive site plan and community appearance approval. With that review will come conditions, if the project is approved. I can assure you that I will urge the Board to track the language in Mr. Davenport's letter (stronger than the annexation agreement) as a condition of approval.

We can also take action to designate the site as a landmark and if that is done - any change to the landmark - including demolition or relocation - would have to be approved as a Certificate of Appropriateness. I would encourage you to read the designation procedure in the code, one of the more important portions appears below: eligible to apply for designation. Applications for designation shall be initiated by the city commission, by any city commissioner, by the owner(s) of a potential site or (in the case of a potential historic district) by petition of not less than fifteen (15) percent of the affected land owners.

So, further review is required for this project to go forward and it is highly likely that the historic character of this property will be a key consideration during the review process.

You can refer to, under City of Lake Worth, and see where our historic preservation ordinance deals with archeological resources.

Regarding the beach, I refer you to Nicole Janok's article in the Palm Beach Post of August 15th which reads, in part:
"...county archaeologist Chris Davenport recommended last week that an archaeologist or cultural resource management firm oversee the recently approved project.

In a memo sent to city and county commissioners as well as state preservationists, Davenport wrote that there are "substantial and significant archaeological resources identified in the area of the proposed project."

Davenport listed two known archaeological sites near Lake Worth beach where human remains have been found. He also noted a third known archaeological site in the area listed with the Florida Master File — the archive and computer data base that lists all known historical structures and archaeological sites in Florida.

"The city should consider the properties around these sites to have a higher probability of containing unknown cultural deposits based on the proximity to known resources," Davenport wrote.

Davenport's recommendations came after Lake Worth City Manager Paul Boyer and beach developer Peter Willard learned of the possibility of artifacts from Lake Worth resident and archaeologist Dorothy Block. Because Lake Worth does not have its own archaeologist, they asked Davenport for advice.

"We knew that there were concerns and we wanted to be proactive," Willard said.
Willard said he will meet with Boyer later this week to hammer out a plan that suits Davenport's recommendations.

"As of right now, we're working with the city to go forward to see what the needs are for this project," he said."

The fact is, we rely on the County for information regarding archeological sites and this is how the process is supposed to work. Is it practical for the City to have it's own staff archeologist? Not given our current budget situation. And, no archeological resources have been disturbed. Both projects still will be subjects of further Planning and Zoning Board and/or City Commission review.

I hope this helps in the understanding of our process regarding the protection of archeological and historic sites.

This is a new one...

in discussing the plight of the restaurants downtown and the revised lease with FDOT which requires an additional foot - making less space for sidewalk tables and including the requirement of stanchions, Annabeth Karson pointed to the "new construction" downtown which raised the rents as the source of economic distress downtown.

In reality, our downtown is becoming an entertainment district and, as such, the rents are skewed upwards due to the predominance of restaurants and bars - which demand higher rents than regular retail space.

And, in the alternative, would we really be wanting property values to decrease in the downtown?

Do the Casino buildng tenants retain their decal parking under the Commission's beach plan?

The 19 spaces west of the casino building are untouched. Where do the decal holders park? Are the casino building tenants protected more than residents? There was supposed to be a colored plan issued yesterday - I've checked the website and there isn't anything there. The meeting begins in four hours.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel in order to be tough."

CRA Appointments

Ed Grimm 4 votes, 2013
Michael Hyde 4 votes, 2013
Cary Sabol 4 votes, 2013
Andy Amoroso 3 votes, 2011
Jessica Rockstein 3 votes, 2011
Peter Meyerhoefer 2 votes, 2010

My objection regarding Commissioner Golden interviewing and approving CRA candidates was no reflection on Ed Grimm. I respect Mr. Grimm and enjoyed working with him while I was on the CRA. My objection was based on the inherent conflict between employer and employee. All I can say is that the City Commission's dedication to procedure and ethics needs some work.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Click here for live stream - CRA Interviews (8/31)

I missed the first few minutes of the meeting so didn't hear if any discussion took place regarding the recusal of Commissioner Golden - I assume it did. Ed Grimm, the first on the agenda, is being interviewed now. Commissioner Golden apparently brushed off the request to declare a conflict of interest as she was the last Commissioner to ask him a question.

Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to recuse oneself is made by the person with the apparent conflict. So noted.

Later on, the Mayor made it a point to ask if a real estate attorney applicant would have problems with potential conflicts of interests with clients in Lake Worth. ??

Still later on. Listening tonight gives me hope for the future of the CRA - there are many good applicants and many new people that are interested in serving the city. You could see this from the applications - it's too bad they were treated the way they were with the initial interview date. Those that stayed on the list to be interviewed showed great enthusiasm.

I have a problem with Commissioner Jennings "discarding" people on the basis of what she thinks were "terrible" decisions in the past for positions on the CRA - such topics as the beach and Sunset were brought up that have nothing to do with the CRA. And, my hand to God, she and Commissioner Golden still bring up the Lucerne. Does anyone wonder why? It shows an oversimplification of complex issues and dismisses the decision process used to come to those decisions. And keeps the fear burning in the hearts of the voting public. You might call it a "litmus test."

Commissioner Golden did not mention Ed Grimm in her comments - he received four votes from the Commission. At the end, she did disclose that Mr. Grimm held a fundraiser for her and contributed to her past campaign.

Just in: Amended CRA Board Interviews (8/31)

Click here for link to NY Times article:

After Century of Growth, Tide Turns in Florida
Published: August 30, 2009
The Sunshine State, whose economy is tied to population growth, is in a pall after taking hits during the recession.

Click here for full back-up material re Commission CRA applicant interviews tonight (8/31)

Is anyone else having trouble seeing all of Edward Grimm's application? Just asking.

Sent this morning to the Acting City Attorney, City Manager, Mayor, Commissioners, the Palm Beach Post and the Lake Worth Herald

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

Great Disparity between Residential and Commercial Electric Rates

The City Manager includes this chart in her reports to the Commission. While Lake Worth is still above FPL in residential electric rates, it is below the average of all municipal electric providers. We rank as the 11th least expensive - strange way to look at it - as of July 2009 for residential customers.

By comparison, we are near the top in commercial electric rates - nearly $600 more than FPL and almost $400 over the average provider. There are actually only three providers that provide more expensive electricity to their commercial clients than Lake Worth.

Is this how the City Commission is promoting economic growth? This is, yet again, another negative message for those businesses looking to locate in Lake Worth.
Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mood Music...

Since my opponent has not come forward with her accomplishments and plan for a second term...

You might want to review what she said when she ran two years and eight months ago. Click title for link.
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Interesting, albeit expensive, option...

Does anyone else think this is a little backwards?

This is from this past week's City Manager's report. The City Commission is having its first reading on the 2009-2010 budget on Thursday, September 3rd. The City Manager is asking for the Commission to prepare "extensive and comprehensive" goals within 7 days - and this is somehow supposed to be integrated into the budget process for this year. And it is interesting that the City Manager brings up the process for the Park of Commerce. There is $250,000 of city money that is supposed to be used as matching money for a federal grant to perform an infrastructure needs analysis - which is what the city exactly needs to do in order to go on with the development of the Park of Commerce. I am afraid that the grant-phobic Commission has other ideas. More on this later...
Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

As a contrast, click here for Punta Gorda's City Manager Report

Note that they are already preparing for the 2011 budget year and they will be applying for TIGER (transportation related stimulus funding) funds. Is Lake Worth?

Click here for City Manager's Report for 8/28

Above is the City Manager's discussion regarding a selection committee for the Community Development Director position. Just so everybody is aware, this panel would be subject to the Sunshine Law. I wonder who will end up on it?

Think about this: It is the City Manager's job to hire and fire department heads. But, here she is asking for the Commission to appoint people to review the applicants and make a recommendation to her. It's a way to give the City Manager cover for her decision, but it also politicizes the decision in a way the Charter does not allow. Hmmmm.