Friday, September 10, 2010

The kind of spirit we need in Lake Worth municipal races!

For what it's worth, I found out that he didn't get the nomination.

Dalai Lama

The kind of behavior that really is spiritual practice consists of refraining from falsehood and abiding by the truth, neither humiliating nor mocking others, being humble, and having a good heart and helping others.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Speed Bumps of the Future: Creepy Optical Illusion Children

New frontiers in traffic calming? Can holograms be far behind? Click title for link.

Thinly Veiled...

Another local blogger, who happens to be one of the tentacles of the "Yes on 4" movement, seems to be upset that the veil has been pulled back on her organization's true purposes.  She seems to think it was wrong for some "paparazzi" to infiltrate their ranks and record some of the reasons their supporters are for this amendment to the State of Florida's Constitution.  Passage of the amendment, which requires 2/3 affirmative votes to become law, would mandate that all changes to local Comprehensive Plans be subject to referenda.  The mechanics of this would be ponderous at best and would likely end up derailing any attempts our state has to adjust to the new economic realities that our nation is facing.

 That's why people that are against capitalism and for radical population growth control are in favor of this amendment.  This "direct democracy" would dismantle Florida's economy.  It's no surprise then that we would see our local anarchists supporting this amendment.  Think of the severed head at the end of the video as symbolic of Florida's economy if the amendment passes this November.

You can only perpetuate myths for so long.  Sooner or later the truth reveals itself.  Perhaps that is why Mr. Bergman submitted his resignation from the role of Community Development Director? A professional of any type would have difficulty working in an environment where standards, general accepted practices, laws, ordinances and the Constitution are not respected and habitually violated.

Commissioner Jennings, who appears in the video and talks about the need for population control (Is that what Amendment 4 is about?), was famous for saying that anyone against the labor center is a "thinly veiled" racist.  Amendment 4 then is a thinly veiled attempt to destroy the underpinnings of our society.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

E-mail to Commissioners re Urban Planners:

This issue came up during discussion about the requirements to be appointed to the newly formed Historic Resource Preservation Board.  The Mayor and Commissioner Jennings thought that there weren't any requirements for being a "land planner" - that you could just be one without documented education or experience.  With that point-of-view, everyone could claim to be one and, in the end, it would be the Commission that would determine if any applicant meets the professional requirements.

Next day update: I have heard back from the Mayor and the City Manager.  Commissioner Mulvehill thanked me for the clarification.  The Mayor and Manager said that the discussion was more about "land developer" versus "land planner."  But, none-the-less, it's good that they have this information as it looks they are going to be in the market for a certified urban planner now that Mr. Bergman is leaving.

Familiar, friendly faces...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Sustainability" is being used a lot tonight at the City Commission meeting...

...nothing is sustainable if it is not supported economically - period.

Don't know why I thought of this while listening to the Commission meeting...

For those using the automated utility payment service...

Please check your bank statements routinely.  A reader sent me an example of an instance where the city took the same amount that was due - twice.  Once the day before the bill was due and once on the due date.  I usually use the link on the city's website and hand enter my debit card information every month.  I have not had a problem with that method, but many people seem to have problems making sure that their payments are properly credited to their account.  This may explain the many people wanting to pay in person and get a receipt "in hand."

Let me know if you have problems with any payment method and I will pass it on or share it here.

Click here for live audio link to City Commission meeting (9/7)

Click here for agenda and back-up material

The on-street parking issue that has emerged is now part of the agenda - comments on that item will be taken when the Commission discusses it.  Apparently, the city staff has put together a map showing areas where on-street parking will not be permitted in residential areas.  This issue has taken many by surprise.

Commissioner Jennings is voting against the sheriff's contract due to the city's inability to control costs.  The Mayor pointed out that the amendment to the agreement allowed for the reduction in cost this year.  Commissioner Maxwell pointed out the the decision to go with the sheriff was made without the foresight of knowing that property taxes would plummet like they have and that the sheriff has reduced their contract.  Commissioner Jennings believes that keeping our own department would give the Commission better control over cost.  She, and all others, had nothing but good things to say about the sheriff's level of service and reduction in crime.  If you were spending a certain amount of money with our own department and not getting the results for it that money was being wasted.  Apparently Commissioner Jennings doesn't think that lower crime is worth spending incrementally higher rates for that service.  "Effectiveness" doesn't seem to matter and public safety is something that isn't of paramount importance to her.  How about working on the other side of the ledger - like finding ways to attract private investment to Lake Worth?

Now they are talking about the city fire truck going to Haiti - again, some more.  The ambulance has been shipped, but Commissioner Golden has a problem with sending a pumper truck to an unstable country.  They moved the issue to the Sister City board to follow through.

Many people are upset about the storm water fee on their tax bill - many from the Park of Commerce and others with commercial properties.  No one can determine how their fee was calculated.  This is a "catch-up" fee from 2004 and is being made up now.  According to the City Manager, this was a mistake by the property appraiser's office.  Joe Kroll is doing his best, as requested by the Mayor, to answer the questions.  They tabled the item until next week.

They are now talking about the parking restrictions in residential areas - and there are a lot of people there to speak on the issue.  A flier was distributed about this matter over the weekend by concerned residents.  After a lengthy explanation by Joe Kroll and everyone saying that this is not ready to come to the Commission yet and nothing is being done about on street parking prohibition.  Commissioner Jennings used this as an opportunity to say how different things were now - that maybe before there might have been decisions made without neighbor and resident input, but we are beyond that know and that any decision that is made now is done with public input.  (burp)  Much back-peddling happening now on everyone's part - saying it's not a priority, it's a third or fourth tier problem, etc., etc. Commissioner Maxwell asked if this opens the city to liability issues - "Can the door be closed once it is open?" - Mayor.  Commissioner Golden, "It wasn't an issue until it was an issue."  Brilliant.

Just a quick note here - the largest crowd that I remember ever for a Planning and Zoning Board meeting was when revision of the recreational vehicle storage part of the code appeared on our agenda.  We chose not to pursue any changes.  Any issue like this is guaranteed to pack a room.

People are using this opportunity to talk against parking meters in the downtown too.

City Manager: "The money just is not there.  You are looking at a situation where the economy and the tax base in this community have deteriorated over the past 10 years."

Statewide Utility Rate Comparison - Residential and Commercial - July 2010

This appears on the last page of the most recent City Manager's Report 9/3/2010

An alert reader pointed out...

...that the third page of the agenda is page 500 (the last page) of the back-up material for tonight's meeting.

Again, the packet amounts to over 100 megabits of data in a .pdf  It's important to point out that the current chair of the Planning and Zoning Board is insisting that her packet be printed and that she can physically pick it up at City Hall (per this set of minutes - page 8 of this attachment)  Has anyone notified the Tree Board?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Regular City Commission Meeting 9/7 @ 6 p.m.

Click title for link to agenda and back-up information.  Be warned that the back-material amounts to over 100 megabits of data, which even on a cable modem takes some time to download - good luck if you are on a slower connection or dial-up.

There might be a third page to the agenda, but it isn't in the packet on-line.  Also, when did it become policy that there is no public comment on consent agenda items?  It used to be if a Commissioner wanted an item pulled, then those items allowed public comment.  Did this change?  It actually should be this way:  If anyone from the Commission OR the public has a question on an item, wants their opinion known or for whatever other reason wants to make a comment, they should be able to.  This would require the public to have the ability to pull an item for discussion.  But that might resemble democracy too much.

The separation of the Planning and Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Boards has finally made it on the agenda.  Click here and you can read the back-up for just that item.  This is interesting on a number of levels.  First of all, the staff is presenting this, but not recommending it due to the extra burden that it will put on staff and is anticipating that overtime of approximately $10,000 will be needed to cover the additional staff time needed.  Really?  The new board will be made up of seven members plus two alternates.  There is not a requirement that one live in a historic district and only five of the members have to be from professions that actually would have experience in historic preservation or similar backgrounds.

The Board only will have to meet quarterly - it can meet more often if necessary.  No criteria are given for when it would "be necessary."  This leaves potential applicants in a lurch since they wouldn't be sure when in the future their applications would be heard and it may hold up their projects' timeline.  This sort of delay could hamper someone trying to be heard.  A bad idea and one that may make people question whether it is worth owning a historic property.

This is part of our land development regulations - which aren't going to be done until June 2011.  This creates another level of uncertainty for anyone owning property in Lake Worth - regardless of whether or not it is historic.  What regulations do you go by in the meantime?  Right now our zoning code/land development regulations do not reflect what is in our Comprehensive Plan in terms of height limitations and other details and our Comprehensive Plan still is in a state of limbo.  Would you want to come in with any type of project in Lake Worth given the uncertainty of this regulatory environment?  The answer is "no" which apparently is just fine according to the make-up of the City Commission now  and the constitution of the Planning and Zoning Board.

This is just another extension of the "de-facto" moratorium on redevelopment that we have in Lake Worth.  Who is going to pay the city's bills in the future?

Sign being seen around town:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

$2 million Palm Beach County project aims to turn Lake Worth natural area into a haven for fishing

Click title for link to Palm Beach Post article.  This is good news but wouldn't you know everyone is lining up to take credit for this project when most of the present Commission definitely was not involved in the original project - the environmental work in creating Snook Islands.  They might have had a small role in the park project, but in the end, it is really Palm Beach County driven.  And it is the same group of people that are quoted in the article who find every opportunity to blame our current financial situation on the actions of past Commissions and staff - except when it benefits them and the news is good.  That attitude shouldn't sit well with the public - or are they snowed by this sort of spin?