Saturday, October 16, 2010

In case you are reading the post by the other blogger re Soma Center...

I was never Chair of the CRA and the item she refers to was approved, right or wrong, on the consent agenda.

From my beach visit yesterday...

I parked in the upper lot, walked to the parking ticket dispenser - the good news is that it was working, sort of.  It is now $1.25/hour to park at the beach.  I looked at my cellphone for the exact time that I put in my 5 quarters.  It was high noon.  When I got my ticket, the time printed on it after which it expired was 12:52 p.m. - eight minutes short of an hour.  That is almost half a cent a minute more than the published rate.  I happened to take a lot more time at Benny's than I thought and got back to the car around 1:30 p.m. - there was no ticket.  Effectively, this was almost a cent less a minute of the actual rate. Is there any enforcement?  How often is this repeated day after day? How much revenue is lost?  Attended parking would collect 100% of the parking fees and would be self-enforcing.  Why is this consistently discounted as a way to collect parking money from the beach?  Maybe just impose it for the upper lot?

Zero Cost-of-Living Adjustment to Impact Most Vulnerable Older Adults

Click title for link to article on lack of cost of living increase for retired seniors on Social Security.  There is talk of a $250 one time payment, but I'm not sure what help that would provide and it would have to pass through Congress.  This is the first time since the payments have been indexed to inflation (1975) that there have been two years back-to-back without an increase.

Think about what this means locally for those, for example, in Lake Worth Towers.  Each year their rents are increased based on utility costs and other factors that support the building.  What possible benefit would these people receive by paying the "conservation fee" on their utility bill?  No conservation officer can do anything with Lake Worth Towers to conserve energy and water.  Let's not forget water rates that are going to increase for the next three years in order to fund our reverse osmosis plant.  What are these seniors going to give up in order to support a program that they don't benefit from?  How about Murry Hills or another complex with a high concentration of retirees?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Today's trip to Benny's on the Beach

Early voting for the November 2nd Election

To encourage greater participation in elections and to meet the needs of people who want more options than just voting on a single day at a specified location, Florida law permits voters to cast the ballots during the two weeks prior to each election. 

To participate in early voting, all you need to do is show up with your current photo and signature identification between October 18 and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 31, and cast your ballot. Voting hours and locations are listed below: 
Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to - 6:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance recommends that you bring our list of endorsed candidates with you, so that you may support those candidates who support our community.
Please keep in mind that once you have voted by early voting, your vote is cast and final.

Any voter registered in Palm Beach County 
may vote at any one of these Early Voting Sites:
Jupiter Library
705 Military Trail

Gardens Library
11303 Campus Drive
Palm Beach Gardens

Okeechobee Library
5689 Okeechobee Boulevard
West Palm Beach

Supervisor of Elections Office
240 S. Military Trail
West Palm Beach

Wellington Library
1951 Royal Fern Drive

Belle Glade City Hall
110 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Belle Glade

Lantana Library
4020 Lantana Road
Lake Worth

Hagen Ranch Road Library
14350 Hagen Ranch Road
Delray Beach

Delray Beach City Hall
100 NW 1st Avenue
Delray Beach

West Boca Branch Library
18685 State Road 7
Boca Raton

If you have any questions, please call the office of
the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections

Main Office: (561) 656-6200
Toll Free: (866) 868-3321
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance
is dedicated to electing public officials 
who will work towards ending discrimination based on 
sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.  

Not all of the candidates listed below will appear on your ballot.  
In addition, in some races, there are no endorsements.

United States Senator
Kendrick Meek 
U.S. Representative, District 19Ted Deutch (Dem.)
U.S. Representative, District 22
Ron Klein (Dem.)
U.S. Representative, District 23
Alcee Hastings (Dem.)

Alex Sink (Dem.)

Attorney General
Dan Gelber (Dem.)
Chief Financial Officer
Jeff Atwater (Rep.)

Commissioner of Agriculture
Scott Maddox (Dem.)

State Senator, District 25
Kelly Skidmore (Dem.) 

State Senator, District 27
Kevin Rader (Dem.)
State Representative, District 83
Mark Marciano (Dem.)

State Representative, District 84
Mack Bernard (Dem.)

State Representative, District 85
Joseph Abruzzo (Dem.)

  State Representative, District 87
Hava Holzhauer (Dem.)
   State Representative, District 88 Mark Pafford (Dem.)
State Representative, District 89

Jeff Clemens (Dem.)
State Representative, District 90
Irving "Irv" Slosberg(Dem.)
State Representative, District 91
Barbara Ann Stern (Dem.)

County Commission, District 2
Paulette Burdick (Dem.)
County Commission, District 6
Jess Santamaria (Dem.)

County Commission, District 7
Priscilla Taylor(Dem.)

Port of Palm Beach, Group 4
Blair Ciklin (Dem.)
School Board, District 3
William G. "Bill" Graham
School Board, District 4
Jennifer Prior Brown
School Board, District 6
Marcia Andrews
County Court Judge, Group 7
Marni A. Bryson

Lake Worth City Commission, District 2
Carla Blockson

Lake Worth City Commission, District 4

Lisa Maxwell
Suzanne Mulvehill

            Palm Beach Gardens City Council, Group 5
Ken Menard

Constitutional Amendment 5 - Legislative Redistricting

Constitutional Amendment 6 - Congressional Redistricting 

This paid political advertisement, which is independent of any candidate or committee,
is produced, sponsored and paid for by
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance.  

The endorsements have been approved individually by each of the listed candidates.
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance
Post Office Box 267, West Palm Beach, Florida 33402
(561) 586-0203                               

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association - Update - Raffle Tickets on Sale Now!

Make sure to buy your raffle tickets today!  There's only a few days left.
This beautiful stained glass window was created and donated to the Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association by McMow Art Glass. The window, measuring 32 1/4" wide by 18 1/4" high features cut stained glass in shades of pink, green and lavender with clear glass bevels. The piece is lead camed and comes ready for hanging. The retail value of the window is $530.

The winning raffle ticket will be drawn at the November 1st Tropical Ridge Neighborhood meeting and the winner need not be present to win. Tickets are $5 each and all proceeds will go to support the Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association Banner Program.

Purchase tickets and learn more at

Announcement from City: Town Hall Meeting

Come join Commissioner Scott Maxwell on October 23, 2010 at 10:00a.m. at the next Town Hall Meeting to Discuss Lake Worth Utilites "Understanding the Costs and Benefits". This meeting will be held at the Calvary United Methodist Church at 301 1st Ave. S Lake Worth.

From the City Manager's Letter re Budget - Just how bad things are in graphic terms RE-POST

The above is very telling about the impact of poverty on the City of Lake Worth.  Notice that of all the zip codes in Palm Beach County 33460 has the highest number of poverty indicators of ANY.  These figures were prepared by the Children Services Council as risk factors.  Here we are talking about the very future of human beings in society.  To this day, from my time on the CRA, I hear Annabeth Karson's voice ringing in my ears how the "people" want to attract the very low and low income groups to the city.  Well, Ms. Karson, here is the result of what happens when you have that sort of concentration of poverty in one city - are you happy now?

The above I will supplement with data from previous years.  I think it is interesting to note that history, as shown in the graph, begins with 2007, which is convenient for a number of reasons.  Note too that this graph just indicates the total number, not the total dollar value represented by the permits themselves.

The above graph is what results when you multiply the city's plunging assessed property value by its millage rate.  I have prepared a spreadsheet that starts in 1997 and goes through the fiscal year ending in 2011 - the budget that is in front of the Commission now.

The above shows where Lake Worth stands with all other utilities in the state as it pertains to commercial users of power.  If you have to ask, we are the red line at the far right hand side of the graph - the highest in all of the state of Florida.  Do you think any commercial enterprise, of any size, would seriously consider locating in Lake Worth over other locations based on this criterion alone?  I frankly do not.

This graph is how the city of Lake Worth stacks up with other municipalities in terms of cost for high-end users of residential power.  It is any wonder we have close to a revolution when some people are getting $1,500 and $2,000 a month utility bills?  To be fair, low users of electrical power end up paying about the same as they would with FPL, but this is usually used as window dressing for political campaigns.
When you have high utility rates to begin with, you add the impact of the economic downturn (putting it mildly) and a significant population of people that use Lake Worth as Palm Beach County's housing of last resort, you are going to have a larger group of people late on their utility bills.  I don't know of anyone, by the way, that has managed to keep their power and water when they are 90 past due on a balance with our utility department.

The graph above shows the number of times the Piggy Bank has been robbed to balance the budget or to come up with money for some unexpected or "favored" items by the City Commission.  Aren't they predicting a busy hurricane season this year?

As foreclosures increase and residential property owners find it difficult to sell due to declining property values, the only alternative left to rent out your house and minimize your loses.  An already out-of-balance statistic in Lake Worth will become even more out of balance - a disproportionate number of renters as compared to owners in the city.  This is no longer limited to certain geographic areas of the city - it is everywhere!

So why the sudden "doom and gloom" from the City Manager that is the darling of Commissioners Jennings, Golden and Mulvehill?  Either she has truly "seen the light" and is sharing her version of reality as she learns what the real Lake Worth is all about after getting her feet wet here or it is something else.  I will be exploring that further.

In the meantime, enjoy what is left of the Lake Worth we know and love, because there isn't much left.


Joel Burns Media Appearances - re: Bullying

The Early Show on CBS at 7:30 a.m. Eastern - Friday

CNN Newsroom with Ali Velshi at 1 p.m. Eastern - Friday

Some results from a Google image search for "Silk Politicians"

Click here for link to Joel Burns' website

From his FaceBook page:

"The outpouring has been overwhelming. I apologize that my personal FB page is now maxed on friend requests, etc. Please check out my Councilmember page below and website to follow along in this conversation."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lesley Blackner, Aimee Carlson offer differing views on Amendment 4

Click title for link to a Palm Beach Daily News (the Shiny Sheet) article of a presentation by pro and anti forces regarding Amendment 4.

This is very powerful...

I had the opportunity to get to know Joel while participating in a Victory Fund class in Houston back in 2006.  We need more politicians like this.

Three ring circus?

If you follow the world of Lake Worth politics and official goings-on, last night was a triple-header.  The only problem was that the three events all overlapped. I started at the City Commission meeting which was the first reading of the noise ordinance.  Next door was the CRA meeting in the City Hall conference room.  I had to leave a little before 7 to attend the candidate debate hosted by the Parrot Cove neighborhood association at St. Andrews.  Sometimes I wonder if this is done intentionally - double and triple booking events.  I still think there should be a policy about the CRA and the City Commission not meeting at the same time - unless they are having one of their rare joint meetings.
At the special City Commission Meeting re Noise Ordinance
First, on the noise ordinance, it was obvious that the task force appointed to put the ordinance together did a commendable job.  They researched many other cities and how they handled noise issues.  They blended many different element into an ordinance for Lake Worth.  The existing code language is vague and subjective in determining what is "loud and raucous."  While I was there - and I left before public comment started, there was a lot of talk by the Commission on the enforceability of the ordinance and the possibility of misidentifiying the source of the noise if there is a complaint.  For example, if someone calls in a complaint from North M Street, the sheriff will go to that property.  If the noise is clearly audible, then they will go to the offending business and attempt to determine the source of the noise.  In the time in between, the type of music and volume may change. Likewise, noise reflecting off of the Lucerne may make the noise seem it is coming from someplace it isn't.  The ordinance carries a 90 window so that if you get four violations within a 90 day period, you could be facing criminal charges.  If you don't have another violation within 90 days, then your record is clear.

The 140 noise calls for downtown music complaints came from 10 different names.  This compares to a total of 900 some calls for noise complaints citywide.  The City Commission, especially Commissioner Mulvehill, made a big deal about this being a long standing issue and it was good that the city was finally doing something.  Staff pointed out that they had found a memo from 1983 regarding noise.  Difficulties in enforcement were pointed out but they said that it will be a learning process.  They plan to publish pamphlets to get the word out before it is enacted.  Still didn't get a good answer why they moved the date up for second reading.  They ended up passing it on first reading with some changes.

My major issue with the imposition of the ordinance is saddling law enforcement with yet another responsibility.  The sheriff said that everything they do is on a priority basis, so noise complaints probably, one hopes, would take a backseat to normal mayhem and misdeeds.  To me, the noise ordinance in Lake Worth is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, but it looks like we can put the issue behind us - unless it proves impossible to enforce.

I made it to St. Andrews around 7 for the District #2 and #4 candidates' debate put on by Parrot Cove.  Upon walking up to the door, I was greeted by Laurel Decker, perennial supporter of the wrong candidates, who stated, "This is kind of outside your area, isn't it?"  Well, no Laurel, it's not.  It seems like they would like it just fine if no one comes to the debates - too much truth-telling going on.  This was the first debate that I attended this season and Parrot Cove makes it clear that anyone can come.  In fact, they have a neat "social" membership category that allows you to become a member of their neighborhood association if you pay dues - you just don't get voting rights if you don't live in the neighborhood.  When I have attended before, either as a candidate or audience member, the room was usually standing room only.  It was full, but not as crowded as I remember it from before.

Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill was taking part in the aforementioned City Commission meeting.  She eventually came, but it was after the other three candidates had finished their five minute presentations and answered all of their questions.  In fact, when it was announced that "she was on her way" - it was then that most of the audience left en masse, so Commissioner Mulvehill played to an emptier house.  If someone was there during her part of the show, you can tell us about it by leaving a comment.

The candidates that were there drew numbers and Carla Blockson (District #2) went first.
Of them all, I thought Carla came off the most confident and sincere.  She explained that in her job, she is used to working with a large bureaucracy and making it understandable for the people she oversees.  She was clear that the City's priorities should be quality delivery of basic services, making sure that roads are paved and making sure the trash is picked up.  She said that the main misconception that her opponent is telling people about her is that she wants hi-rise buildings everywhere.  She flatly said that is wrong and that there are very few places left in Lake Worth for tall buildings.  If a proposal came in for one, it should be looked at in relation to where it is and evaluated on its own.  All three candidates said that they would not stop the beach renovation project or the Casino building rehabilitation if elected.

Next up was Chris McVoy (District #2).
Well, this may seem biased since I am not voting for him, but he came across as a know-it-all and kept waving the fact that he was a "scientist" and this made him able to talk to experts that others wouldn't otherwise talk to.  He said he knew a lot about water (he works for South Florida Water Management District) and electricity (he said he uses a soldering gun.)  He read from a paper because he is a scientist and likes to not miss anything.  You got the impression that if he were a Commissioner, things would be constantly over-analyzed and nothing would ever happen - which seems to be just fine for his supporters.  He continues to insist that he worked to keep the beach 100% public, even though his petition drive didn't result in any action by the Commission or the electorate.  And how can our beach property be 100% public when it has for-profit tenants operating out of a city-owned building?  Or does he somehow consider those tenants an extension of the city, like the Lake Worth CDC that uses a city building?  For a scientist, I would expect him to be a little more exact.  Even though the fact that he was on the Planning, Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board and it gets top billing on his campaign materials, we find out that he may have been to a total of six (6) meetings as he was only on the board for two months.

Next up was Lisa Maxwell (District #4)
Lisa came off as the candidate that had the most real world experience in dealing with municipal issues.  she has a no-nonsense approach and wants the city to get back to the basics - like enforcing codes that are on the books and adhering to zoning requirements.  She got one of the bigger applauses of the night when she compared the subsidized tenants at the beach to the retail tenants in our downtown that have to pay market rates.  She talked about how uncompetitive Lake Worth is when it comes to a decision to locate a business here due to having the highest commercial electric rates in the state.  She was concerned about the number of group homes that are moving into single family residential areas.  She said that she attended around 67 Planning and Zoning Board meetings since she was on the board for over three years.  After the Commission altered the attendance requirement that retroactively removed her from the Planning and Zoning Board, they stacked the board with political cronies of those in power.  Check out the previous post on the change to this policy.

And speaking of cronies, I made a special effort to talk with Annabeth Karson last night.  She had stationed herself near the door.  For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting her, she is a major player in the Cara Jennings' camp, pulls many strings and is a teller of many tall tales.  On my way out, I leaned down (she was sitting) and said pointedly "How are you?"  She responded that if she thought I was sincere, she would answer the question.  I told her that I was sincere in wanting to know how she was and then I said that we could get a lot more done if we worked together and weren't at odds all the time.  I suggested we meet and talk.  She said essentially "nothing doing" and then said she might consider it if I didn't write the things I did about her.  I asked, "What things?"  She said she didn't want to go into to it right now.  I guess we won't be having lunch soon.  

This is the same person that in a Commission meeting complained how she couldn't find audio recordings of the Planning and Zoning Board meetings (this was prior to me running for office) and that in reading the minutes, it wasn't how SHE remembered things happening.  Her response was that she would just have to use three or four people at the doorsteps of voters, instead of a smaller number.  This was said at the podium and if you want, I can retrieve the link.

Announcement from City: Boil Water Notice

A precautionary boil water notice will be issued for the area served by the Lake Worth potable water distribution system described below. The reason for this notice is:Repair of 4 inch water main break. Water will be turned off from 9:00 AM to 12:00 AM on October 13th 2010.Therefore, as a precaution, the Utility is advising that all water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, or washing dishes be boiled. A rolling boil of one minute is sufficient. This notice affects 50 customers and includes the following addresses: 6th Ave South to 9th Ave South between C Street and D Street.
C Street 802-806-810-814-818-822-826-830-606-614-616-622-626-632-702-706-710-712-720-724
D Street 701-705-709-715-717-721-725-731-801-805-809-815-817-821-825-831-629-627-621-619-615-611-605
This precautionary boil water notice will remain in effect:for 72 hours until October 16th  2010. Residents will be notified if additional water samples need to be taken and if the City needs to extend this notice. Door hangers will be passed outShould you have any questions please contact the Water Systems Department at (561) 586-1719

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"...going to the candidates' debate..."

Lake Worth Playhouse Candidates' Debate - 10/20 - 7 p.m.

Announcement of Closed-door Session on 10/19:

You are required to tell the public what the matter being discussed is.  They obviously don't want the public to know about the number and seriousness of the lawsuits that the city faces.  If anyone cares, this could be fodder for those suing the city - unless the REAL intent is to bring the city to its knees through the payment of large sums in the form of judgments

Notice Change of Date for Second Reading of Noise Ordinance...any theories?

This came via-email around an hour or two ago.

Notice: Sign Ordinances mean nothing if you are an incumbent...

Overlooking Lake Worth Golf Course - way too big according to code, but will anything be done?  How is this not an example of corruption?  It's also an example of how people from this "team" ignore that Commissioners are supposed to represent the district they live in.  Makes it convenient to launch their own agendas and forget about what really matters in the neighborhoods.


Meet the Candidates on Tuesday, October 12 at 7:00pm, St. Andrews Church, 100 North Palmway
All Commissioner candidates will attend and speak then take questions from the audience.  Carla Blockson and Christopher McVoy are running in District Two.  Lisa Maxwell and Suzanne Mulvehill are running in District Four.
After each candidate gives a five minute presentation, the podium will be open to questions whcih should be submitted to the moderator, in writing, during or prior to the presentations.  Questions should be directed to a specific candidate who will have one minute to respond.  All questions will be anonymous.  After completion of the formal meeting, canddates will remain so they can speak to individuals in break-out format and distribute their campaign materials.
As in past meeting, no banners, signs or demonstrations are allowed.  Candidates deserve our respect and a fair hearing.

Special City Commission Meeting Tonight (10/12) re Noise Ordinance

Click title for link to back-up material.  Upon first glance, I have a problem with the point of measurement for noise "being at the measured at the closest curb or property line closest to the source of noise" or if it is "clearly audible at 150 feet."  That's the language in the ordinance.  However, the staff memo doesn't really reflect this ordinance language:

This is the actual language from the ordinance.  See the difference?
What problem are we trying to solve anyway?  Is the solution worse than the "problem?"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dalai Lama

While people are often content to criticize and blame others for what goes wrong, surely we should at least attempt to put forward constructive ideas. One thing is for certain: given human beings' love of truth, justice, peace, and freedom, creating a better, more compassionate world is a genuine possibility. The potential is there.