Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lake Worth Talk Message Board

Many of us electronically connected Lake Worth residents surf around to various websites, message boards and blogs to communicate and get information about what is going on in the city and surrounding areas.  I think for the size of community that Lake Worth is, we display a good showing in the virtual world of the Internet.

So it is with a sense of loss that one of the first, and some say the best, message board has gone dark.  The Lake Worth Talk Message Board's plug has been pulled and is no longer accepting posts.  During its life, it served as a "stream of consciousness" for Lake Worth. sometimes bawdy and rude, sometimes informative and knowledgeable, it was a way that we could talk as a community and gather information.  The message board was owned and hosted by Jim Stafford - maintained and supported by him for many years.  This was never a money-making operation for Jim, even when the board had active advertisers.  There is a cost in money, time and effort to run such a message board.  Nothing required Jim to do this other than having identified the need in the community to meet in this manner.

I think if Jim found a donor (really not that much money), he could turn it on again for at least a three month period.  If not, I think we will all miss the resource it represents to our community, especially as we approach the November elections.

If you are interested in underwriting the board, shoot me an e-mail and we can follow up with Jim.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Commissioner Cara Jennings et al $51,000 payday from City of Miami

I'm not sure if anyone is aware of this, other than the recipients and the City of Miami.  This $51,000 stems from a complaint regarding mistreatment by the City of Miami during protests related to the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas event in 2003.  A total of 34 people, including Commissioner Cara Jennings received $1,500 a piece from a local government.  I guess it pays to know how to work the system.

Update on Oil Spill and County Initiatives from County Commissioner Abrams

"I have been closely monitoring the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and share your concerns about the possible economic and environmental threat to Palm Beach County.   While I remain hopeful that this spill will not have a direct impact on our community, we all are aware of the reports that a change in the weather or failure to get the spill under control may cause contamination to our shore. 

As the county commissioner who represents the entire southern coast of the county, I have been working diligently with county officials in preparation of any potential crisis locally.  

Currently, the county has created a Deepwater Horizons Planning Task Force made up of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Health Department, PBC Division of Emergency Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PBC Environmental Resources Management, county and municipal fire-rescue hazmat response agencies, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, PBC Animal Care & Control and the Port of Palm Beach.

The Deepwater Horizons Planning Task Force will develop county-specific contingency plans to address mitigation, response and recovery operations.  Specific areas being addressed are:
    • Protection of the county’s four inlets
    • Availability and cost of booms, if needed
    • Environmental preservation
    • Potential health concerns
    • Wildlife protection
    • Available labor and material resource inventories 
The first meeting of the task force is scheduled for May 17 at 9:00 a.m. at the County’s Emergency Operations Center at which I will be in attendance.  Additionally, the state is holding daily conference calls with all Florida counties.   I will be in direct contact with the Mayors and City Managers of the eleven coastal municipalities I represent.  Palm Beach County Emergency Management is monitoring the situation and is participating in the daily conference calls. 

I plan to keep you updated as more information becomes available.  If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact my office at 561-276-1220.   For additional information, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of the Interior and BP have established
as official source of information on this incident. Here you will find regular news updates, projections of the path of the spill, photos and video and useful links. Those interested in volunteer opportunities may wish to visit"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Community Benefits Agreements and Comprehensive Planning: Balancing Community Empowerment and the Police Power

Click title for link to abstract of article.  Once there, you can download the full article from the link provided.  This is a bit on the "scholarly" side and may be too much so for some, but maybe not.

A little background on this issue:  Back in 2005, a group of about nine of us traveled to Philadelphia for a conference on "Advancing Regional Equity."  The trip was paid for by the Lake Worth CRA and included people like me, Annabeth Karson, javier del sol, Martha Wright, among others.  I happened to be chair of the Planning and Zoning Board at the time.  If you click here, you will find my notes from the conference.  Those that attended uniformly returned with a greater knowledge of disparities within regions based upon race and economic class.  To me, it reinforced that a lot of what Lake Worth was doing was right on track with many of the approaches taken to address these issues around the country - at least at that time.  Now, I'm not so sure.

One of the topics there included the concept of Community Benefits Agreements - the subject of this scholarly article.  In fact, Annabeth Karson and I made a presentation before the City Commission after the conference on this topic.  These agreements are typically used when a large employer comes to a community and are ways of how to integrate non-traditional stakeholder groups into the development review process.  Many conditions are then incorporated into these agreements based on that process.

One of the assumptions you would have to make, as it applies to Lake Worth, is that we are actually an attractive location for a large employer given our other branding issues.  You also have to ask if those that are elected would be honest brokers during the process, or would they be more about skewering potential future candidates - or current political foes.  If not acting as honest brokers, then we would either be dragged to court - yet again - or have nothing to show for our efforts other than a protratcted process with no tangible results.

I haven't read the entire article yet, but it focuses on the balance between the zoning "police power" and the power given to stakeholders in crafting conditions upon the project.  I hope you find it informative.

More from our New Zealand Correspondent Capt. Wm. S. Stafford:

Hi, Wes;
 I read with interest the article on your blog about the problems of South Pine Street. 
 By now you should have received the photos of South Pine Street from 40 years ago.  While it is now a dead-end (both literally and figuratively) to 6th Avenue South, you can see that probably not much has changed.  Seems to lend credence to the old saying 'the more things change, the more they stay the same', or over time get exponentially worse...
 South Pine Street and southwest Lake Worth was and has been very different from the rest of the city. 
 Essentially, it was a working class area, and many of the families from years ago took-up residence there beginning in the late 1940's, as there was a post war housing shortage. Whispering Palms came about in the 50's, just about the same time as Lake Osborne Estates.
 The CBS homes began filling-in many vacant lots east of South A Street, which gave rise to both post-modern and 1930's dwellings.
 There have always been problems on South Pine Street, but in those days it was basically kids who remained within their neighborhood during their socializing and play.There were also extended families of cousins who roamed about and caroused occasionally to the ball field on Sunset Drive, or played games on the street pavement.  But, there were always the fights, insults, etc. that seemed to exist only ion that part of town. I was stabbed twice during my 'tenure' there in the 1960's.
 But reading a Palm Beach Post Times article last year revealed that there were no less than 13 gangs operating in and around Pinecrest Cemetery. 
 If I were living there today, I would fully support razing the neighborhood as needed, and going with a corporate juncture at this point to enhance and improve the area as suggested by the corporate proposal to do so while changing the zoning and ordinances.  Pinecrest Cemetery needs to be high-gated, and the Sheriff's Department needs to build, staff and man a sub-station in the area. Even if it meant razing the old homestead, I would say 'go for it!'
 Enjoy the pics; one is of me at age 13 in front of the house on South Pine Street which I grew-up in, sitting on my Schwinn Sting Ray. I rode this bike all over the eastern part of the county in an effort to find other things to see and do away from southwest Lake Worth.  This was replaced by a Schwinn 5-speed Krate that gave me even greater range.  One could pretty much ride without fear of 'getting capped' on the streets., or losing 2-wheeled traction due to spent rounds rolling on the side of the pavement, or a flat tire from the hypodermic needles.
 As I said before, you could get quite a bit accomplished if you ran as a county commissioner for the precinct / district that is Lake Worth.  But then again, with all of the little power struggles, blame, and obstructive interference which hasn't really changed over the years, one could exhaust oneself and have no yielded results.
 Have a good week ahead.

Explanation re Paucity of Posts

As you surely know, life on occasion presents challenges that call you away from your routine.  My family experienced an event last week that came as an unwanted surprise and, as a result, I am tending to some urgent family needs right now.  I plan to be back to my usual routine soon, it is just impossible to say when exactly.  Thanks for your patience and your support in visiting this blog through the years.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lake Worth to residents: Don't throw away your organic waste - compost it

Click title for link to Palm Beach Post article.