Saturday, December 12, 2009

Interaction with Commissioner Mulvehill...(Re-Post)

This is a post from last September. I thought it would be good to bring it forward as Commissioner Mulvehill has put together an early campaign-like "Seasons' Greetings" e-mail.

Last Friday, while at Park(ing) Day, Commissioner Mulvehill stopped by where I was sitting and started talking about an e-mail she sent around regarding how some historic districts in Florida are threatened due to incompatible new development and she was worried about Lake Worth losing our historic designation. You can see a copy of her e-mail by clicking the title to this post.

She then mentioned an 82 foot high building in downtown as a prime example. I asked which one that was. She pointed and said, "The Lucerne." I told her that I knew that building was 65 feet to the inch and many decorative elements had to be removed in order to make it come in at that height. Buildings do not usually grow by themselves after they are built, but apparently can in the minds of elected officials if it suits their purpose. If you want to raise hysteria about height, make up the height of a building so people think its 17 feet taller than it actually is.

I am listening to the CD of the meeting this past Monday and that figure comes from Commissioner Jennings at the 49:05 minute mark. She said, "We don't want more Lucerne Condos...which by the way I found out that it's eighty-two feet tall, not 65 feet. I don't know how it got up to eighty two but look how that happens."

Note: The Lucerne turned out to be 65 feet - the 82 feet was the height as measured from sea level. This was never corrected on the public record.

Back to Commissioner Mulvehill's e-mail, in it she cites downtown St. Augustine as an example. Apparently, this oldest city in the U.S. - founded in 1565 has had new and incompatible construction within the district recently. It is NOT in jeopardy of losing its status, it is simply being resurveyed and restudied "in order to help the community of St. Augustine deal with new development."

She also cites the Pensacola Navel Air Station. As a result of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the Navy demolished all but 16 of 55 historic structures. This is no way relates to what has happened or what could happen in Lake Worth - save for a devastating hurricane or Act of God.

She also mentions Ybor City - in the Tampa area as a district that is threatened. But it turns out that is due to new construction and relocation of buildings due to a highway project - again not applicable to our circumstance.

Her Preserve America designation proposal is one that is worth pursuing, but it is more of an honorary title and would not add any additional layer of enforcement. In fact we are a Certified Local Government (CLG) and meet many of the requirements already.

I meet with Commissioner Mulvehill tomorrow regarding the proposed changes in the Comprehensive Plan. I hope to at least ratchet down the level of hysteria a couple notches.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Remember - 10th Avenue Ribbon Cutting Today

10th Ave. North Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Friday, December
11 at 1:30pm.!!!
Location: Corner of E Street and
10th Ave. North.

Regarding the signage and the use of the "quotation marks" for the lettered streets, I have confirmed that this is the new Florida Department of Transportation standard and all streets signs from now on will be made according to these new guidelines.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Definition and History of...

Political patronage

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Lake Worth Herald tomorrow. There will be another story on Annabeth Karson and her assistant heading up the City's Complete Count Committee for the U.S. Census. Both are being paid $15K as part-time employees of the City and both worked on Jo Ann Golden's and Laurence McNamara's campaigns. The suggestion to enlist the services of Ms. Karson and Ms. Coolican was made by Commissioner Golden and consummated by City Manager Stanton.

It is not about whether or not these two appointees will do a good job. The issues surrounding this revolve around their on-going work in local political campaigns and being paid to collect data that may be used in future local political campaigns. We need not look any further for an example of the existence of Old School Machine politics in our city.

What has it done for us lately?

Lake Worth commissioners agree to $5 million beach upgrade, reducing resident parking to 50 spaces

Lake Worth commissioners agree to $5 million beach upgrade, reducing resident parking to 50 spaces

Click link for PB Post article - check out some of the comments below the article as well.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Via BlackBerry:

Went to the Census meeting today. Palm Beach County is spending 25K on its Complete Count Committee. The population of Palm Beach County is plus or minus 1.4 million. The City of Lake Worth has a population of plus or minus 38K. We are paying 2 people a total of 30K.

"Closed Door" City Commission meeting tomorrow - 12/9

Elected officials can meet in a closed door session under the State's Sunshine Laws, but there are certain requirements. Section 286.011(8), Florida Statutes reads as follows:

(8) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), any board or commission of any state agency or authority or any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision, and the chief administrative or executive officer of the governmental entity, may meet in private with the entity's attorney to discuss pending litigation to which the entity is presently a party before a court or administrative agency, provided that the following conditions are met:

(a) The entity's attorney shall advise the entity at a public meeting that he or she desires advice concerning the litigation.

(b) The subject matter of the meeting shall be confined to settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to litigation expenditures.

(c) The entire session shall be recorded by a certified court reporter. The reporter shall record the times of commencement and termination of the session, all discussion and proceedings, the names of all persons present at any time, and the names of all persons speaking. No portion of the session shall be off the record. The court reporter's notes shall be fully transcribed and filed with the entity's clerk within a reasonable time after the meeting.

(d) The entity shall give reasonable public notice of the time and date of the attorney-client session and the names of persons who will be attending the session. The session shall commence at an open meeting at which the persons chairing the meeting shall announce the commencement and estimated length of the attorney-client session and the names of the persons attending. At the conclusion of the attorney-client session, the meeting shall be reopened, and the person chairing the meeting shall announce the termination of the session.

(e) The transcript shall be made part of the public record upon conclusion of the litigation.

I really think that the City has to state what "the litigation" is - I would assume by title. The City of Lake Worth chose not to do this in their notice. How else are we to know that subject matter concerns an item related to currently pending litigation? One, however, is left to believe that it might be over the Greater Bay lawsuit. Perhaps we are not including it to conceal the lawsuit from the County? Wouldn't the Palm Beach County Commission, who is poised to grant the City $5 million, have an interest in whether or not there was an existing lawsuit regarding this property and the City of Lake Worth?

This is how the Town of Palm Beach provides notice of a closed door session. Note that they specifically mention the case under discussion:

Monday, December 7, 2009

This is what was supposed to be in the previous message from the City:

CDBG Public Meeting

A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Public Meeting will be held Monday, December 21, 2009, from 6:00 - 8:00 PM at the Osborne Community Center, 1699 Wingfield Street.

During the meeting, City staff will describe approved uses of CDBG funding, provide a list of possible CDBG projects, and hear public input on the best uses of this funding opportunity.

For more information, please contact the Community Development Department at (561)586-1687.

Highly Informative E-mail from City!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I got a kick out of this skit...but still a serious matter...

Special City Commission Meeting re BEACH - 12/8 @ 7 p.m.

Click title for link to complete back-up material.

Glimmers of hope...

This is the agenda for the City Commission work session scheduled for Tuesday. Note that these meetings had been taking place during the afternoon, making it difficult for the public to attend or listen. This one is scheduled for 6 p.m. Click title for link to City's website for a .pdf agenda and links to back-up material.

The presentation by the County on the Snook Islands access project should be interesting. This has been slated for a while but I haven't heard an up-date on timing of the improvements. Included here would be day docks and walkways that would create links between Bryant Park and the south part of the golf course to the recently created Snook Islands. The former bridge still needs to be removed by the City and we will hopefully get that done soon as it is an attractive nuisance. This sort of improved access to the water makes sense. The back-up material does not contain any graphics showing the improvements, so I will keep an eye out for those.

The Commission will also be discussing digitizing their packets in order to eliminate, or severely reduce, the amount of paper and materials used under the current way to distribute agenda back-up material. The Clerk estimates that this will save a little more than $400 a year in paper - which I know is way too low. It will be interesting to have a true accounting of the savings once it's been in effect for a year or so. I think we will all be astounded. Coincidentally, I mentioned this in a previous post "Greenwashing - Lake Worth Style" a few weeks ago as an easy way for the Commission to show a commitment to the Climate Control Task Force recommendations. At last Tuesday's Commission meeting, Pangiotti Tsolkas brought up the need for a report on how the City is doing at meeting it's stated environmental goals. Apparently, someone is listening. Let's hope this leads to a more exhaustive effort and check on the City's performance in this area.

The next item regarding the East Coast Regional interlocal agreement appeared on the Commission's agenda last Tuesday. This is about a thirty year extension of an existing agreement related to our regional sanitary sewer system. The staff has prepared some extensive back-up, so refer to that if you want some more detail. What's important to note is that the Commission, at Commissioner Jennings' suggestion, wanted to discuss this in greater deal so that they could assess how this affects the City strategically in the on-going conflict among municipal members. This is where the City was not collecting maintenance money as it should have been from other client municipalities, discovered it and then billed them all the full amount at one time. That did not sit well. Item E on the agenda explains the status of the default on the bond covenant violation - which is a matter related to this whole affair. The good thing about this is that it appears we are getting a handle on this and we are aware of our relationships with other municipalities. Where have we heard this before?

Also at last Tuesday's meeting, at the urging of Commissioner Maxwell, the Commission voted to suspend the second deposit provision if someone made a late payment to the utility. It turns out that the City has approximately $4.6 million in deposits, of which almost $1 million relate to the second deposit assessment. There's almost $6 million in unrecovered billings dating from many years ago - all still in collections. I encourage you to read the entire back-up material, but the sheets below provide a good summary overview of the process/timeline before and after the change.

Lastly, there is discussion regarding a day-long retreat to discuss the City's mission and mission statement. City Manager Stanton believes the "Working Together" slogan and associated current mission statement doesn't reflect the City's soon-to-be focus on customer service. By the way, if you have ever seen the current "Working Together" statement hung on various City Hall office walls, you know that it is completely illegible as they used black letters on a dark background - it's illegibility says a lot, period. Let's hope that this new discussion leads to something that can be the basis for concrete action and improvement.