Saturday, October 30, 2010

Message from City: Town Hall Meeting North F St.

Come join Commissioner Scott Maxwell on Saturday, October 30, 2010, at 10:00a.m. at the next Town Hall Meeting to Discuss Lake Worth Utilites and Benefits". This meeting will be held at the Iglesia Puerta Del Cielo located at 709 North "F" St. Lake Worth, Florida 33460.

I find this interesting.  This was sent out by the city yesterday at 4:21 p.m.  I guess things are going on as usual with the city still promoting these Town Hall meetings.  Good!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mad-scientist mailer, red X's mark the spot in nasty Lake Worth campaign ads

Lake Worth commish sneaks campaign plug into town hall meeting

Click title for link to latest propaganda from the Palm Beach Post regarding politics in Lake Worth.  The link above is another in the series from the same organization - can be considered in the same vein.  I will refrain from further comment about these instances until later - like after next Tuesday.

I would like to talk about the use of the city seal now, however.
Much was made, as indicated in the article, about the use of the city seal in the materials promoting and available at the Town Hall meeting put on last Saturday regarding the utilities.  To listen to the public comment from the Commission meeting on Wednesday night, you would think that its image generates a certain patriotic fervor when people see it, wear it and use it on printed material.  The Commissioner that seemed to have the most problem with its use was none other than Commissioner Jennings who is known for not saying the pledge of allegiance to our country's flag at the beginning of Commission meetings.  So it strikes me as peculiar that she would be so protective of the city's symbol when the flag of the United States, whose Constitution she is sworn to defend, doesn't rate as high on her list of important symbols deserving respect.  I guess we can chalk this up to just another one of the many hypocrisies we witness here in our city.

In my first campaign, I remember people having an "issue" regarding the use of the city seal on my handbill - the one that I would hang on doors and distribute to people during candidate forums, meet and greets and the like.  So, after a letter from the City Clerk indicating that campaign literature cannot use the city seal, we all took the time to put  round white stickers over the image so as not to waste the 1,000 piece batch of material.  On another mailer, I posed in front of city hall and received another letter that I couldn't stand in front of or have a picture of a city building on campaign material - and there was a small image of the city seal above the electronic sign in front of city hall.  I asked if the city seal was trademarked - I was told no.  I asked if there was ever an official policy on the use of the city seal and I was told no.  It just wasn't done.  Another successful Mayoral candidate years before had stood in front a city limit sign with the seal and got the same "push back."  Regarding standing in front of city buildings in a picture, I can't imagine anything that belongs to the public more than that.  Again, no official policy could be cited.  I note that both McVoy and Golden used images of city hall in both their campaign materials. The only thread that I could get is that somehow the use of the seal gave the image that the city was endorsing this candidate or the other - which would never be done anyway and I think the public is smart enough to realize that. That is why the city attorney had such a hard time coming up with anything definitive that prevented or restricted the use of the city seal.

And you have to ask yourself why a certain group clings to symbols like this, with some notable exceptions, in the first place.  It is an attempt to transfer legitimacy of the city on to themselves as elected representatives - one of the powers of incumbency.  This group is also using whatever legitimacy left by the Palm Beach Post endorsement as a free pass to justify their continuing dismantling of the city.  They wouldn't have much legitimacy otherwise, that is why they have such a cozy and cherished relationship with the Palm Beach Post.  What was the largest banner (about 6 x 10 feet in size) outside the Playhouse last Wednesday?  One that proclaimed the Palm Beach Post endorsed Mulvehill and McVoy.  Unfortunately, it is a formula that has a track record of success - to the detriment of our city's future.

If we are going to "hold the city seal so dear," then could we create a workable policy on its use?

I also found it ironic that the home page of the city's website doesn't have an image of the seal on it.
In fact, it took a little while for me to find a color image that I could snag for use in this post.  The one I used happens to be from a city employment application.  So much for the city's use of its most revered symbol.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Remember Aesop's Fables...

Well, in Lake Worth, we have LynnA's Tortured Tales, appropriate for the Halloween season.  This originally appeared on her blog in response to a BAC/PAC flier.  Her response so misrepresents the facts that it is probably the best representation of what is actually said at doorsteps throughout the city by the marauding hordes of door knockers in support of her candidate, Commissioner Mulvehill.  I will attempt to dissect the truth from what amounts to not even half of the truth - what appears in her blog is in bold - my response is in italics.

Mulvehill did not vote to stop the restoration of the Gulfstream Hotel. Mulvehill voted each and every time to uphold the appeal of previous Historic Preservation Board approvals made by Charles Celi.  Mr. Celi was a $500 contributor to all of her campaigns.  Through her vote, she stalled progress on the restoration of the building and the re-opening of it. Schlesinger, the owner, kept coming before the Planning & Zoning Board (Her opponent was a member of this Board and wanted to give the owner his variances even though they were against our Ordinances and City Charter)) constantly asking for variance after variance to build on the west side.  The variances were generally for unique conditions related to the fact that this was an historic property and could not meet all of the current zoning requirements, some of his requests were simply for a time time extension for the original approval.  Each and every time, Mr Celi ($500 contributor to her two campaign efforts - general election and run-off) would make his long-winded nonsensical plea before the Commission - sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  Each time, Commissioner Mulvehill voted in favor of Celi. His first scheme was wanting to erect a 100 foot building in violation of our City Charter. This building would have loomed down on the rest of the neighborhood.  The owner of the Gulfstreram never asked to build a 100 foot tall building.  Adhering to the height allowed by the zoning code at the time, there was a building proposed for the western side of the property.  It was 45 feet high in front (along Lake Avenue) and then 65 feet for about 3/4 of the rest of the block to 1st Avenue South.  This was approved, but the approval was then withdrawn by the owner of the hotel when market conditions changed.  At that point, the focus was the restoration of the hotel - period.  But still he faced the obstacles thrown at him by Mr. Celi. He wanted to take over all the off-street parking and have a Valet service to utilize all city parking on city streets in that area. None of the residents around that surrounding area would have been able to park. At one point when the larger building was still on table as being approved, it included a parking garage that would have utilized a valet system.  This would have kept all parking for the hotel off of the street - which is better than the existing condition if the hotel would open "as is" - it was built at a time before a parking requirement and most of the early guests arrived by train.  Mayor Varela's mother lives across the street from the vacant land at the Gulfstream that the owner wanted to develop. Perhaps we should ask her what she feels about the matter and why her son is supporting Mulvehill's opponent, the very one who wanted the owner to get everything he asked which was not in the best interests of the citizens. This is where the other blogger shows her contempt for a Mayor who is supporting other candidates that he thinks will do a better job representing the people than Commissioner Mulvehill.  I'd like to know what is more in the best interest of the citizens than the opening and functioning of this historic downtown hotel.  It is Schlesinger, the owner of the Gulfstream, who stopped the restoration of this hotel which is now in bankruptcy. He could have restored this hotel when he bought it but he delayed over and over again. The owner owes everyone money.  The obstacles placed in front of the owner of the hotel in the form of appeals levied by Celi and supported by the clan on the dais that benefited from his $500 campaign contributions did a lot to make a bad situation worse for the owner.  Instead of the city trying to help, it added to the owner's difficulties.  Not a good way to treat a landmark historic property that always, since the day it opened in 1925, has been through difficult financial times -  having only a few years of real success in the 40s, 50s and 60s.
And never mind that the citizens passed a charter amendment in 1996 that allowed building heights up to 100 feet east of Dixie Hwy and up to 65 feet west of Dixie Hwy.  Which is a moot point, since the zoning code was never amended to reflect this limits and which is made more moot now due the the draconian height limits enacted by the current Commission.
And with Aesop's fables, there was always a moral.  With LynnA's, well...?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Special City Commission Meeting Tonight (10/27) 6 p.m. at City Hall

Click title for back-up (be prepared for long download times in that the complete file is over 100 mb of data - larger than my first laptop's hard drive.)  Click here after 6 p.m. for live link to meeting.  I plan on listening from home and will comment as the meeting goes on.  There are some major items on this agenda.  I understand that Commissioner Jennings - this is the last of her meetings as Commissioner - will be asking for a consultant to examine the police and fire contracts for further budget cuts.  Oh, the powers of being a lame duck.

An additional item "D" was added at the request of Commissioner Jennings to discuss Commissioner Maxwell's Town Hall utility forums.

You can't hear Steve Carr - one of the city's financial experts describe the resolution needed for a revenue bond for the beach.  But you can hear Dee McNamara just fine.  Commissioner Maxwell says that he is for the beach project, but against the way we are financing it and, unlike others, he will not claim credit for the project or say I told you so if it turns out badly.  He was the sole "no" vote.

CM at Risk:  City Manager laying wreaths at the feet of Rachel Smithson about "fast-tracking" the project.  Morganti is the number recommendation by staff.  Mulvehill agrees with that choice.  She said that she didn't do it all herself - please.  Commission Golden echoes the same thing and is so impressed with staff evaluating the respondents.  More wreaths needed here and throwing some Commissioner Mulvehill's way too.  Commissioner Jennings has questions about the contract.  She says that she has heard "out in the community" that the contractor could abandon the project.  There is a human performance bond associated with the contract.  Staff says that it is the contract favors the owner (city.)  They keep talk about this being the "contractor" - is it?  Jennings wonders if there is a requirement to use local labor.  The Morganti representative states that they will honor every requirement of the contract and that they have already reached out to the community.  Also questions about public relations the use of social media - there will be a web cam and a monthly public website update on the progress of the project.  Everything is communicated on a "team basis."  Commissioner Mawwell is marveling that we are having this discussion within 24 hours of the information being available.  $6.5 million with architect fees.  What if it goes over the alloted amount?  There is a pre-construction period that will be extensive - they are saying that the project can be done for under $6 million - better life span for life cost will be the determining factor.  Life of building would be 40 years.  They are reassuring that the project is very doable for the price.   Tenant build-out would be after the timeline of April 2012 is over.  The Mayor needs more wreaths.  He says, "We can't afford to fail."  

Maxwell makes the motion to approve the contract.  Seconded by Commissioner Mulvehill.  And now the "all important public."  Commissioner Jennings is reaching for more wreaths.  "100% public nature of the beach" - really?  Her last meeting and recalls one of her first meetings when wrong thinking people approved the Greater Bay contract and she says she'll be at the ribbon-cutting.  Unanimous decision.

Review of Police and Fire Rescue contracts:  This is an item added by Commissioner Jennings - she is reading the back-up for the people listening on line.  She wants a complete study of all options and all combinations of police and fire rescue for cost-effectiveness.  The Mayor thanked her for the well-worded presentation.  Mayor agrees with the concept.  The City Manager thinks they can do a lot of that at the staff level.  Jennings refers to the City of Pompano Beach and their look at re-establishing a city police department, etc. and the level of services with other local governments.  Commissioner Golden makes the motion - reading something already prepared - convenient.  Jennings seconds it - it would be a consultant, the City Manager thinks it can be done at the staff level.  Lawrence McNamara says we should look into a volunteer fire department - my right hand to God!

Commissioner Jennings is talking about the use of the city logo and staff and any electioneering that was going on.  She says that it infers that the City Commission is not taking action on lowering utility rates.  She is taking him to task and saying it's ironic that he claim that given that he voted for the original contact.  She says that the City Manager should direct staff not to go.  And that it's using the city logo - what is it about the city logo anyway?  Golden is jumping in with the same complaints.   She doesn't want the staff there.  Commissioner Mulvehill asked who paid for the flier - Commissioner Maxwell said he paid it with his own money.  The Mayor said he wasn't going to comment, but asks if there is a motion.  Commissioner Jennings asks the city attorney if a motion is appropriate regarding the use of city staff.  More about the city seal...what is it about the logo?  It's not a trademark.  The City attorney is clueless and doesn't know what to say.  The City Manager says that he talked to Commissioner Maxwell and he understands that the city staff won't be used in the future.  The City Attorney says they need to create a policy on the use of the city seals.  Commissioner Golden is saying that half of the utility revenue going to the general fund isn't true.  Maxwell asks why isn't that true.  
Commissioner Jennings makes a motion for the city attorney to look into the legality of using the city seal and the use of staff or other city resources.  Seconded by Commissioner Golden.  She says it's electioneering and it's inappropriate now.  Maxwell agrees to take the logo off any material and says that the meetings will continue.  Commissioner Golden says it's misleading and she is not supporting what is being said here.  She doesn't agree with the elimination of the conservation surcharge.  "It's not a Town Hall meeting, it's your meeting."  The City Manager says that a 25% drop in utility rates in three years or now - Commissioner Mulvehill claims that there will be a 30% drop once we get out of the FMPA contract.  And, in reality, the rates could go up - City Manager says that the rates will absolutely go down.  But it's too early to tell.

Much back and forth - Commissioner Jennings suggests Maxwell look at his own actions about lowering utility rates.  Commissioner Mulvehill says that his motives are obvious - the message and the timing.

The Mayor says there is no magic bullet for lowering rates and its always talked about during the election season.  It's the single biggest issue in the city.  Tugs at the heartstrrings - he said he didn't campaign for lower rates.  Commissioner Golden says that there are other months other than October and November...the two "like" commissioners comment was too much to bear.  Maxwell says that this program is designed to go into the future, beyond election time - into January.

They are at public comment now.  I am signing off.  Please continue under comments if there is anything else I missed.

Contrary to what you may read on your computer or hear on the street...

The Carla Blockson campaign has not accepted, nor will accept, campaign contributions from SWS, any of its subsidiaries or individuals related to the company.  This was the firm that was involved in the landfill which is found along the city's southern limits.  You can check out her already filed campaign reports by clicking here.  This comes from a knowledgeable source with the Blockson campaign and also relates to any as-yet unreported contributions.

Notice 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:Replace old fire hydrant with a new fire hydrant located at 1500 4th Ave South. Water will be turned off from 9:00 A.M until 1:00 P.M. 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 13 customers six unit's and includes the following addresses: South B Street 330- 326- 320- 318- 314- 310- 304. South C Street 301-305-309-313-317-321.
This precautionary boil water notice will remain in effect: 72 hours until October 31th 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 out Should you have any questions please contact the Water Systems Department at (561) 586-1719.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Click here for text of Lake Worth Herald endorsement of Blockson and Maxwell!

Amendment 4 is Bad News for Us

An article by yours title to read!
There is a 6 p.m. Joint meeting between the CRA and the City Commission - I can't leave a meeting until 8 or so... Those that claim the $23M grant in their campaign literature need to step up!


I have been using the Mulvehill Method of energy conservation for the past 3 weeks.  My A/C is on the fritz and, in a move toward the New Lake Worth Austerity Era, I have chosen not to get it fixed - for now.  So, I am working at home, windows open and fans on.

Instead of "Feeling Groovy", today I'm feeling gooey!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I love all these people - more than I can count on my fingers and toes - that ask me who to vote for in Lake Worth as they go to vote early!

Click here for link to PowerPoint presentation from Energize Lake Worth Workshop

This workshop was held last Saturday in the Lake Worth Golf Course club house.  It took place at the same time as the Town Hall meeting on utilities.  There is a time schedule and lists of the sorts of topics this effort will address.  I understand that there about 10 residents in attendance, city staff and two commissioners (do not know which ones)

Utility Town Hall Meeting - 10/23 @ Calvary United Methodist

Click here for one of the handouts distributed at meeting.

Following up from this past Saturday's Town Hall meeting on utilities put on my Commissioner Maxwell.  I would say about 40 people attended.  The format was odd in that the meeting was broken down into three sessions.  Staff came around and delivered cards so that you could write questions down after each session - general overview, conservation and customer service.  Well, the 3x5 cards were soon filled with questions front and back from me.  Those were dealt with at the end of the three sessions - I had to leave around noon and could not stay until the end.  I think that they were overwhelmed by some of the questions and they seemed to skip quite a few.  The crowd was a little testy - saying they didn't trust the city and wanted a forensic audit of the utility.  There weren't convinced that they were just paying for the cost of electric and not other parts of the city budget.  They were also not convinced that the conservation program is not "free" in that there is a tax on their bills that funds the program.

They said that they would put the answers and some other information on the city's website...we'll see.

This was later confirmed by Commissioner Maxwell.  He said that he is only one of five votes and he needs two other Commissioners to vote with him in order for things to change.  He urged the audience to contact the other elected officials on the Commission and tell them to take off the conservation surcharge from the bills and discontinue the program if other funding can't be found.  He also said to urge them to commit to a 25% decrease in average cost of utilities for residents over the next three years.  He also said that it is important to vote for candidates that feel this way about the utility.  He suggested that the time is now to stop the milking of the utility to feed other items in the city's general fund.

I found this slide interesting regarding customer service.  Click the image to make it more legible.  Let me know what you think about these measures.
Joel Rutsky, the Conservation Services Manager, said something that has stuck with me since the presentation.  He said that Lake Worth was a beach town and asked how many had jalousie windows.  Some people raised their hands.  He said that was because people used to get the sea breeze that way until buildings were built, "progress", and now we don't have a breeze anymore due to the buildings.  I don't know about you Joel, but I am sitting in my Florida Room this morning with the door open and am enjoying a nice breeze - and I even live closer to West Palm Beach -LAND OF TALL BUILDINGS.  Also, jalousie windows were usually replacement windows for the beach cottages or part of Florida Room and porch additions.  Some of the houses built during the 50s had them as standard equipment.  It just got me to thinking, is this what paid city staff is telling people and isn't this just adding to certain myths that some like to perpetuate?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Click here for an article by the Gulf Coast Business Review about the devastating effect of Amendment 4

Planning by ballot box?

This is a fun video supporting planning and zoning's importance to a community...

If Amendment 4 passes, a world without growth management may be one of the unintended results.  The state legislature could gut the requirements for Comprehensive Planning for local governments and we would be left without the protections that we have in place now.

While this video is a take-off on "It's a Wonderful Life," which usually is shown during the winter holidays, the dream sequence is nightmarish enough to qualify for the Halloween season.

Please vote no on Amendment 4.