Friday, November 12, 2010

Coffee with the Mayor

The next "Coffee with the Mayor" event will take place on Monday, November 15, 2010 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at Lake Worth High School located at 1701 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, Florida. If anyone wishes to attend please check in at the front office and you will be escorted to the meeting site. Residents are invited to join Mayor Varela for casual conversation and brief information on projects and initiatives taking place across the city.

Heard that the Commission wants to discuss putting March elections on the ballot again...

I'm all for it as long the resulting extension of terms doesn't benefit anyone currently in office.  If it gets on the ballot in March - for a special election - then it should become effective in two years.  If it is immediate, the current District #3 Commissioner would have one full extra year in office, without the benefit of the public voting for her for that year - just one example.  And, if we have a special election in March for this item, we should also put the expanded Commission idea (7 seats -  three at-large including the Mayor, four that are elected solely from the districts they represent.)

I hope you continue to read, learn and grow...

The research continues today.  Hope you're having fun!

Lake Worth Commission races still up in air as 100 ballots need to be checked by hand

New article - click title for link. Another act in the comedy of errors:

Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said her staff finished counting the missing 500 absentee ballots last night, but more than 100 of those ballots still need to be checked by hand.
More than 100 ballots were damaged last night in the recount machines, Bucher said. She added that her staff would begin checking those ballots about 2 p.m. today.
Bucher said an announcement on what kind of impact -- if any -- those recounted missing ballots have on the Lake Worth City Commission races will be made later this afternoon.

Ex-Rep. Foley questions results in Nov. 2 Lake Worth commission election

Click title for link to PBP article.

Click here for Andrews wins as Palm Beach County School Board recount ends, but other races may be in limbo An excerpt from the article

However, razor-thin victories for two Lake Worth City commission candidates could be reversed depending on the results from the 500 ballots. And the margin of victory could change for a referendum that helped kill a proposed marina project in Riviera Beach.

Apparently this writer is not part of the public relations arm of the McVoy/Mulvehill/Jennings/Golden apparatchik headed by the editorial board.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 some people studying content on here.

This is a graph of average time spent on the blog by any one visitor.  It stays fairly constant - the blue line represents average time on site for the last two months - the green is a comparison of the previous two months to the last two months.  Today and yesterday are serious blips over the usual behavior.  Hmmmm.  

Read away!

Click here for updated PBP article on uncounted ballots...

From the article:

"Wow," Lake Worth Mayor Rene Varela said. "I'm incredulous over this. In small cities such as Lake Worth, 500 votes can make a big difference in the outcome of an election."

Just to add a little more drama...

Some other things to think about...

Does anyone think the timing of the Earth First announcement being after the election is a coincidence?

I hear that the city is talking about layoffs to be announced soon - sometime around the first of the year?  This after being told by Mayor Varela and others that this budget involved no lay-offs of city employees.

One gets the sense that the wheels were meant to stay on the wagon until just after the election.  After that point, the wheels fall off and we're left experiencing what we have known all along.

My prediction:  The beach is the next wheel to come off the wagon.  Groundbreaking in June 2011 according to Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill during the campaign - $6 million for the building, no more.

Channel 12's report on the uncounted ballots:

Click here for recently discovered discussion board - City Data

It will take you to a new comers experience in Lake Worth and our utilities department.  Thank you reader for this link!

Reactions to recent events and linkages...

Let's talk about this missing box of uncounted 500 ballots from last Tuesday's election.  First of all, how can we be sure that there isn't another box of uncounted ballots?  We can't as that would be asking to prove a negative, which many of us know is impossible, but some in Lake Worth like to throw out questions like that due to their impossible to answer nature.  Surely if you can't answer a question, it proves some sort of conspiracy.  But we are led to ask that question since we have become distrustful of what should be a sacred and trustworthy system.

But we really don't have to do that here as there is enough circumstantial evidence from various elections in Lake Worth that call into question just how level the playing field is.  Don't forget (the PBP seemed to) that there was a 831 vote drop-off in the total number of votes between the District #2 and District #4 results.  The only way that this can be logically explained is that the design of the ballot caused 831 people that voted in the District #2 race not to vote in the District #4 race since the later appeared on the back of the sheet where all the other candidate races were located.  Instead, the District #4 race squirreled away in the upper left hand corner of the ballot alone with all the Amendment questions on the right hand side of the page.  If you ask me, this is like losing a box of 831 uncounted ballots related to that race.  How would the results be different if the 831 voters in the District #2 race also voted in the District #4 race?  We will never know since those ballots never made it into a box to not get counted.  How is this accurately reflective of our representative democracy?

Going back to the "found" box, would we even know of its existence if there wasn't a recount in the School District race?  The city has already recorded the results and the State of Florida will be certifying the results Sunday at noon.  Given the vagaries in counting votes around here, could that be rushing things?  It's sort of like in college football, when the team playing on offense has a play that could go either way, but is called to their benefit, races to get off the next play before an adequate review is done of the questionable call so that they "lock in" the results.

Then we have the difference in tone between the article about the swearing in ceremony and how the results were decisive and the new direction for Lake Worth is on solid ground etc, and then we have the latest article talking about the slim victory in the two Lake Worth races that could be overturned.  Not quite the same tone given different authors' take on events.  The later article about the uncounted ballots paints a different picture of the supposedly decisive victory portrayed in the previous.

Then we have a situation where assigned and approved "poll watchers," who actively campaign for certain candidates and are very recognizable figures in the community, freely go between being outside waving signs for their candidates and then go inside the polling locations showing badges indicating some sort of official capacity and function.  Hmmm.

Then we have instances when canvassing neighborhoods where houses that are vacant or address numbers that can't seem to be found, have a record of voters casting ballots in previous elections.  Then you have what I have heard to be the "anarchist map" which the opposition maintains showing locations of their people recruited to certain properties, perhaps in time for voter registration deadlines, who are told who to vote for and become part of the ground forces of the opposition during campaign time.

Then we have another recent election where absentee ballots, destined for Lake Worth prior to an election, somehow were lost inside the Supervisor of Elections building too late to be mailed out  to those that requested them.  How many voters did that represent that did not have their vote counted and how did that alter the results of that election?

Then we have the time, back in March of 2007, when I happened to be at the Shuffleboard Court area waving signs on election day.  A man approached me speaking very little English.  He was holding a simple printed flier on regular paper with a picture of my opponent on it with her name and little else.  He asked where he could go to vote "for this woman."  I pointed to the door where people went in to vote and, like a good candidate, went to my car to get one of my fliers saying that this is who he has to vote for.  He repeatedly insisted, "No, I MUST vote for this woman."  He refused to take my flier. Hmmmmm.

Then we have a situation of disproportionately low property values relative to other municipalities in Palm Beach County, or I venture to guess all of South Florida - especially given our coastal location.  The cause for the severe drop in property values lays at the feet of those on the City Commission that make decisions which ignore this fact - in essence furthering the slide of property values relative to other communities and this is held up as a triumph - a goal achieved.  Then you have certain real estate agents whose stock-in-trade is the buying and selling of sub-par west of Dixie properties (now east of Dixie too) that feed on the bottom of the market - hastening the fall of prices.  This is the same real estate agent that calls specific people in his "farm area" to place signs on their property for candidates which, when elected, help depress property values - hmmmmm.

Then you have what must an international network of people ready to move here - evidence the Earth First! relocation - who now can move to a community where cheap housing is readily available.  The wrecking crew has already done its job and now its time for the bulk of the "pioneer species" to move in.  No need to worry about retribution or interference in what you are doing since a "beachhead" has already been established in advance.  Those in power will look the other way - they have already extinguished debate and subdued to the opposition (regardless of the means.)

I could go on, but won't for now.  Feel free to add your comments.

Radical Earth First! movement relocating its national journal's headquarters from Arizona to Lake Worth

Click title for article re Earth First Journal's move to Lake Worth.  More commentary later.

Andrews' lead cut to 46 votes in Palm Beach County School Board race after 500 absentee ballots discovered

Click title for link to PBP article re lost ballots and impact on LW races

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

ALERT: Box of 500 absentee uncounted ballots found at Supervisor of Elections office which could affect results in LW races

We are not alone...

Apparently our Ace Reporter from the PBP is hot on a story that the group Earth First is moving its headquarters from Arizona to Lake Worth.  Expect to see something in the newspaper - on line please, no need to create more newsprint.  I'm not sure what kind of "headquarters" they have now, but I don't think they'll be moving into the office building at the corner of 2nd Avenue North and Federal.  Just a guess.

What I think this underscores is that the political machine we see in action here is really only a small part of an overall network that is international in scope.  I am starting to sound like Hillary Clinton's "vast Right-wing conspiracy," but it is obvious that the degree of organization, preparation and strategy is not solely home grown.  What do you all think about this theory?  Mine goes beyond what I have said here, but anymore divulging of what I really think will make me sound slightly paranoid or overly wise.  Neither of which I wish not to be at the moment.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Burns' speech on gay suicides targeted for discussion | Fort Worth | News from Fort Wort...

BOO! Click title for link to article.

Town officials say voters didn’t understand ethics ballot funding

Palm Beach not happy with the passage of county-wide ethics ordinance - say they send a lot of money to the County already for not much in return. Click title for link.

Tropical Ridge NA | November Update

Good day friends & neighbors!
This past Monday we held our regularly scheduled November meeting. Following is a list of news and upcoming events.

Art for I.D. - Lauretta Zugner is the lucky winner of the Art for I.D. raffle. She takes home the grand prize, a beautiful stained glass window donated by TRNA members Shannon & Phil Materio, owners of McMow Art Glass. In addition to the $450 in ticket sales TRNA member Steffanie Mayo & TRNA Director Bob Elliott donated $75 each to purchase two additional banners. To learn more about Art for I.D. or to find out how you can support the neighborhood identification effort, please visit the TRNA website here.
November Clean-up - With the return of the beautiful fall weather we will be resuming our monthly neighborhood clean-ups. Please join us this Saturday, November 13th at 8:30 am at Compass Center. We will be cleaning and mowing the two empty lots at 211-215 North H Street. Garbage bags and water have been generously donated by TRNA member Steffanie Mayo. Clean-up should take no more than two hours and is a very rewarding way to spend a Saturday morning. We hope to see you there.
December Garage Sale - On Saturday, December 4th we will be holding a garage sale to finish raising money for the neighborhood identification project. We are looking for the following:
Items to sell - such as
  • children’s clothing***
  • toys***
  • holiday decorations***
  • shoes
  • bikes
  • books
Volunteers to - 
  • To pick up items for donation
  • Help advertise! Newspapers, craigslist and signs throughout the neighborhood the week before the event.
  • Help us sell, sell, sell bright and early Saturday morning.
Upcoming Elections - Kevin McAvoy, Phil Materio and Bob Elliott were selected for the Nominating Committee. They will pick President, Vice-President & Secretary/Treasurer candidates from the list of eligible members. These names will be presented at the December meeting. At that time, any other eligible member may choose to nominate themselves. Elections will be held at the January meeting.
501 (c)(3) - Also at the November meeting was a vote to spend approximately $400 to submit the 1023 application to the IRS. Those present unanimously agreed to lay out the funds to apply for the special non-profit designation. President Ryan Anderson applied for and received a grant from Palm Beach County that will reimburse the Association for the funds once the 501(c)(3) status is granted. This process can take 4-6 months. The application will be submitted by November 30th.
 If you have any questions or would like more information about the Association and it's activities, please

Click here for a link to what I have always thought would be a good idea for Lake Worth...a ZipCar outlet

Basically it's a service that allows you to rent cars by the hour.  I am not sure about the minimum requirements for franchises, or if this is something that could be sponsored by the CRA or the City.  The idea is to provide access to a car when needed, without people having to incur the usual costs of auto ownership - insurance, monthly payments, maintenance, etc.  Many larger cities and college campuses are going to this.

* self-service access to cars 24/7
* low hourly and daily rates include gas and insurance
* reserve online or using your mobile device – in seconds
* cars located strategically around town
* good for the environment

Dalai Lama

I feel that compassionate thought is the most precious thing there is. It is something that only we human beings can develop. And if we have a good heart, a warm heart, warm feelings, we will be happy and satisfied ourselves, and our friends will experience a friendly and peaceful atmosphere as well. This can be experienced community to community, country to country, continent to continent.

Something else that's unfortunate about the election results...

I found this clip on YouTube that may be of interest to you.  Rosa Parks, to hear her tell the story of that day, was tired of just "giving in."  Her personal act of defiance on that day in 1955 galvanized the Civil Rights movement, led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and led people to challenge segregation on a much broader and meaningful basis.

I am not going to enumerate all of the characteristics of the present mix on the City Commission, but for a community as diverse as ours it is disappointing that the current composition of the Commission really doesn't reflect the diversity that everyone seems to talk about.  It also seems that Commissioners rely on certain populations in the city to get elected, but I wonder how effective you can really be as a representative of that group if your experience is markedly different than the people you represent.  I don't see a lot of effort in building leadership to address this situation and make the Commission, even appointed boards, more reflective of our community.  We had an opportunity for a more diverse City Commission until the election results came in last Tuesday night.  I consider this another missed opportunity on the part of the city.

Ladies and gentleman, it's time to walk the walk. One of the structural ways that we could address this representative imbalance would be to enlarge the City Commission to seven (7) seats.  Three seats, including the Mayor, could be elected at large, as they are now with the difference being that they could live anywhere in the city.  Then there would be four seats that are based on the proportional representation of four (4) districts in the city.  These would have to be redrawn from the current districts so that they are roughly equal in population.  When I worked in West Palm Beach, we routinely had to go through this exercise when new Census data became available.  These four (4) seats would only be elected from the district they serve, hence, in theory, being more responsive to the very area they live.  The current practice of not really caring much about representing your actual district would likely become a thing of the past.

This could be done by a Charter amendment.  It might be a good idea to establish a Charter review committee to look at this possibility as well as other areas of the Charter that may need attention.  I don't think there has been an overall examination of the Charter in a systematic basis for years.  If we are going to make a "big thing" about our Centennial in 2013, an effort like this would be one way to acknowledge that milestone in a proactive way.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Asking for your sympathy...

I am in the process of reviewing a whole bunch of City Commission minutes from 2009.  Every now and then I find something that is amusing.  This was an exchange between Laurence McNamara and a response by Commissioner Golden:
Critical item regarding MUSIC ON HOLD here that I now remember being discussed.  I wonder if it was resolved to everyone's satisfaction?

Here's an idea:
Not too musical, but it does convey a point.

Here's the Manhattan Transfer's version from 1985.

Links to recent PBP articles related to Lake Worth:

Lake Worth commissioner takes shots at sheriff's contract on way out

Voters approve ethics reform countywide

A couple of comments on the above.  Now ex-Commissioner Cara Jennings taking a swipe at the Sheriff's helicopter is emblematic of her tenure as Commissioner.  First of all, the helicopter flew over Lake Worth before the switch-over to the Sheriff department.  In talking to law enforcement officials, it is used as an "eye in the sky" to protect officers who are in pursuit of perpetrators - many times armed and dangerous.  It's there for the protection of law officers' lives.  To ex-Commissioner Jennings, it represents a visible "thing" to implant in people's brain that somehow the helicopter represents excessive cost, excessive police presence and, perhaps, excessive invasion of privacy.  So, in her mind, every time someone hears the helicopter overhead, it's like an ad for how ex-Commissioner Jennings thinks about law enforcement and the Sheriff specifically.  And I still remember her taking credit for the CRA providing money for police overtime under the City Police department in her last campaign literature.  When the appropriation of a similar amount (around $250,000) came up on the CRA's budget after the Sheriff takeover, we decided (I was on the CRA at the time) that money was no longer needed due to the superior service offered by the Sheriff.  That money was then released and directed toward the Cultural Renaissance Program.  This was "found money" due to the Sheriff takeover, but ex-Commissioner Jennings refused to recognize that as a benefit - instead she questioned, and still questions, about the program's potential to gentrify Lake Worth.  Alas, she may be gone, but will not be forgotten, and her agenda will still be pursued by the majority of this Commission.

Regarding the other article, the County's municipal voters overwhelmingly approved adoption of the County's Ethics Code and eventual oversight by the County's Commission on Ethics.  Work is underway to establish an Inspector General's office that will provide ethical oversight and investigatory powers of actions within the County's 38 municipalities.  Last Friday, I took part in the Palm Beach County Planning Congress'  fourth annual seminar on ethics.  Click here for a document which has links to about 2,500 pages of back-up information related to some of the issues addressed during the seminar.