Friday, December 3, 2010

Breaking News: Rachel Smithson leaving

Within the month, Rachel Smithson will be leaving for Charlotte, North Carolina.  She has been Assistant to the City Manager here and lead person for the city on the beach project, among others.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association - Garage Sale - Last Chance!

Greetings everyone!

Just one last reminder that this Saturday, December 4th at 7am the Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Assoication will be having a garage sale on the corner of Lucerne & North F St. Given the location, I suppose it's actually a yard sale!

We can really use some donations! Clothes, toys, books, dvds, holiday decorations, etc. If you can't drop it off Saturday morning, we can come pick it up from you tomorrow.
Stop buy bright and early and help us sell, sell, sell!

Email: or for details! See you Saturday!

This is the comment that caused me to remind everyone how I allow anonymous comments.

And you used the beach tenant contributions Ad nauseam. 

Come on Wes, are your telling me that if Blockson and Maxwell were elected you would be posting the same report on them? 

Answer truthfully! 
O.K., if I answer truthfully and say "Yes" I would be accused of not being truthful and if I said "No" I would be accused of doing just what you thought I would do.  That's why I didn't post this comment.  

As far as using the "beach tent contributions Ad nauseam" - the whole beach project was used by McVoy and Mulvehill Ad nauseam during the campaign - how it's going to lead us out of our recession and that all is good and great with this rehabilitation project.  Good luck to those who ran on that platform and let's see how long the wheels stay on that wagon.  I would be pleased to be proved wrong.  In the meantime, consider your posting a comment here a privilege Mr/Ms Anonymous and trust my judgement in what I choose to publish and what I choose not to.  If not, there is another blogger in town that would love to have your readership.

The "beach tenant contributions" seem to have hit a chord.  It's like Commissioner Golden saying we shouldn't be focusing on the fact that Lake Worth has had record decreases in our assessed value for the past two years - more than any other municipality in Palm Beach County.  It seems not to matter to her - we have to get used to living in a ghetto according to her.  No one wants to be reminded of the REALITY here.  That is why I keep doing what I do.

Fort Worth streetcar discussion shows need for improved public process | Editorials & Opinion...

This is an op-ed piece by Joel Burns, City Commissioner in Fort Worth, Texas on a Modern Streetcar program being initiated and administered by the city of Fort Worth. You might remember Joel from his recent 15+ minutes of fame regarding "It gets better..." and his experience with bullying as a gay teen and a response to all the bullying that has and continues to go on in our country. Business goes on in Fort Worth and in this piece for the Star Telegram, he explains the importance of public involvement in the decision making process. I found his commentary eerily similar to what I would say about the importance of public input and how to change the process for the better. So, maybe we can take a lesson from Fort Worth, Texas as we at least we both share half of the same name. Click title for link. By the way, they have a representative Commission where there are at-large and district commissioners. The district commissioners represent only those in that district. They also have no Sunshine Laws in Texas that I am aware of - he speaks to his fellow Commissioners in the article which is not allowed in Florida.

Reminder to Everyone - this is still the only place that you can post a comment anonymously in Lake Worth.

I edit, but have a (very) light touch.  Please don't abuse the privilege.  The PBP doesn't count.

Lake Worth waste truck runs on vegetable oil — and smells 'like egg rolls'

More public purposes for John Gs - grease from their deep fat fryers can go to fuel our Vegomobile!  Vice Mayor Suzanne Mulevhill can head up the effort.  Click title for link.

Here's one for you: Northern Kentucky lands Noah's Ark park Tax breaks, donations to help fund creationism-themed amusement park

From the article - click title for link:

Ark Encounter developers seek to recover under state tourism development laws up to 25 percent of the project's cost by recouping sales tax revenue paid to the state on tickets, lodging and other goods.
While state support of a religious-themed project is probably not illegal, attorney Ed Kagin, called it questionable, said the Cincinnati Enquirer.
“They’re implicitly endorsing this project, and I think that is improper,” said the American Atheists board member.

From Wikipedia re "The Spoils System"

In the politics of the United States, a spoil system (also known as a patronage system) is a practice where a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its voters as a reward for working toward victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party—as opposed to a system of awarding offices on the basis of some measure of merit independent of political activity.

Click here to read more.

What we have lost in Lake Worth is any measure of objectivity.  One would hope that at the advisory board level, appointed members would be able to objectively evaluate matters that come before them and their recommendations to the ultimate authority, the City Commission, would be free of bias and not be a result of a lack of independent thinking.  What is happening here is that people are being told how to vote, what issues to raise, who to be against by the very people that are elected by the residents.  New ideas and ways of doing things are discouraged - creativity abhors a vacuum.  There is little fresh air in the system so things stagnate.  Look about you.  Myths perpetuate themselves and are spewed at all doorsteps during election seasons.

One place where objectivity and professional experience is important too is at the city staff level.  Unfortunately, anyone that questions the direction of the City Commission or administration (City Manager) on a matter based on "best practices", fiduciary responsibility, professional opinion or established process seems to be shown the door - or they leave on their own accord.  In their place, we get "yes" people who do what they are told in order to survive in the system.  Objectivity ceases to exist and the right questions are never asked. At least we don't have city staff contributing to campaigns - that we know of.  Until we allow objectivity and reason back into the process, things at 7 N. Dixie Hwy. will continue to be like:

Adjusted - Suzanne Mulvehill Special Interest Campaign Contributions - 2010

This is an adjusted tally of Suzanne Mulvehill's campaign contributions.  I added her modest contributions to her campaign and deducted them from the total to determine the percentage of special interest contributions.  Strangely, these included under $10 worth for admissions to the pier.  I can't think of how this related to the campaign other than perhaps photos being taken for campaign literature and the like.  I also added contributions made by Laurel Decker - I described her relation to this faction in the post on Christopher McVoy's contributions.  Gael Sliverblatt, Chair of the Tree Board also gave a modest amount to both campaigns - I think $40 to each.

Adjusted - Christopher McVoy Special Interest Campaign Contributions - 2010

This chart probably does a better job at showing the proportion of special interest contributions in Christopher McVoy's campaign.  He lent the campaign over $4,600 of his own money.  Including that in the calculation throws off the actual percentage that comes from special interests or people with special access or ties to the candidate.  It ends up being about 1/5 of the total amount raised from other people and entities.  In this version, the duplicate Shauna Coolican contribution is removed.  Also, something I didn't mention before, Cary Sabol is current Chair of the CRA.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Note: McVoy lent a significant amount of money to his own campaign. I will back that out and revise the tally. The percentage will increase.

Christopher McVoy's Special Interest Campaign Contributions - 2010

Here we have the tabulation of Christopher McVoy's special interest contributions.  This is through the G4 report and the termination report is due later on, early in 2011.  But we do know that while now Commissioner McVoy was consistent with the party line on how great the current beach and casino building rehabilitation is, he didn't gather as much support from the tenants there as did Commissioner Mulvehill.  He did gather some and you can be sure he will be erring in favor of the tenants when decisions are made related to their interests.  He could surprise us and be more evenhanded, but that would indeed be a surprise.  I will be updating Commissioner Mulvhehill's special interest contributions as well to include Laurel Decker as she is a member of the Finance Advisory Board.  Ms. Decker has long lurked in the ranks of Golden and Jennings supporters and usually supplies "in kind" campaign finance software for campaigns such as these, as is the case here.  She also was a strong supporter of the casino financing proposal put forward by staff that uses the city's "cash portfolio" for interim funding of the casino rehabilitation project.  No one has yet identified where the permanent funding is coming from.  Shauna Coolican, pals with Annabeth Karson, shows up on the list and had a contract with the city to perform the Total Count Census effort this year.  Both are known political operatives within this camp.  Commissioner Golden appears on this list, along with her housemate and members of her extended family.  She serves as staff to the Lake Worth Community Development Corporation (CDC).  The CDC leases/leased (?) a city building near the Osborne Community Center that could be used for after-school and other programs needed in the area.   Likewise, Kathy LaCroix (staff) and Edward Grimm (Board Chair) serve on the CDC.  Mr. Grimm is also an appointee to the CRA and was interviewed and voted for by Commissioner Golden, an employee of the CDC, despite an apparent conflict of interest.  Lynda Mahoney, current Chair of the P&Z has worked for Commissioner Golden's campaigns and served as chair of the CDC for a while, as well.  Other contributors on this list appear on Commissioner Mulvehill's as well.

Editor's note:  I counted a $48 contribution twice for Ms. Coolican and will fix that later.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Click here if you want to leave a comment on YouTube re: Liana Werner-Gray, Suzanne Mulvehill, John G.'s video

!Emergency! !Meeting! cancelled due to lack of quorum.

Evidently another Commissioner, other than the two that were known to be out of town, cannot make the meeting tonight.

Question:  Will the sun rise tomorrow?

Special City Commission Meeting Tonight at 6 p.m. "Emergency Ordinance!"

Remember back in September, the night the City Commission had to adopt the budget by law, there was an unsettled issue about Police pensions.  The Commission went ahead and passed the budget by a 4-1 vote, Maxwell dissenting, with the intent of the City Manager to go back and work out the details with the union.  Well, the chickens come home to roost tonight when the City will likely have to swallow a $1.6 million dollar hit to the current fiscal year budget.  The "emergency" is that the pension changes must go into effect December 1 - tomorrow.

What sort of negotiating position did the city think it would have with the delay?  Now, again some more, at the eleventh hour, the Commission has to make this final.  Commissioners Maxwell and Mulvehill are both in Colorado at the National League of Cities conference.  Ring, ring?

John G's Menus



Here's an idea for our progressive and transparent City Commission...

When the city issues the RFP for space in the newly rehabilitated Casino Building, they should require that any restaurant wishing to occupy space in this city-owned building use only organically and locally grown produce, incorporate raw foods in 80% of their menu items, limit proteins to soy-based or organic dairy products, use free trade coffee or anything that is imported and the list could go on.  How about retailers not being allowed to sell goods manufactured in China or anywhere there are documented human rights abuses - insist on local or at least domestic retail products for sale.  This would be in-keeping with the professed public purpose of our Commission majority, would justify a public subsidy of what would be market rent for oceanfront property and be consistent with the city's often heralded "environment first" branding.

What are the chances of this?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Go to Benny's - it's much better.

To the tune of "Mission Impossible..."

It seems that our District #4 Commissioner is confused between what a building is, what a private business is and who owns the location.  I forgot I discovered this sometime in April of this year.  Who is she working for?  Unfortunately, we get her for two more years.

"Hotels"?  When? "Location, location, location..."  Isn't it the "people's" location, location, location?

Think that an International network is out of the question?  Click here for more information on Liana Werner-Gray.  This is from the Wikipedia bio:

Werner-Gray is the creator of The Earth Diet, a diet plan designed following her Miss Earth Australia 2009 People's Choice win. With the environment in mind and health of the world population, she pursued the idea of eating only foods that nature intended for 365 days. Werner-Gray started a daily online blog to share her journey with the world[20]. She began the diet on Saturday, October 24, 2009. Although the original purpose of the diet is to eat foods that nature intended, word of the diet spread and quickly gained popularity as a means to lose weight[21]. The Earth Diet is sponsored by The Balance Health and Wellness Center and Big Al's Family Fitness.[22]

Click here for her blog.  Somehow, extolling the virtues of John G's fish and chips and French toast doesn't seem to fit in with her "brand." Can we find anyplace in the world more pregnant with hypocrisy?

Suzanne Mulvehill's Special Interest Campaign Contributions - 2010

The above list is compiled from the various campaign treasurer reports as submitted by this incumbent Commissioner.  Consistent with her first campaign, Commissioner Mulvehill gathered a significant amount of financial support for her 2010 campaign from tenants at the Casino Building.  These contributions are from companies, individuals and other entities that have an interest in the city-owned building.  As we know, one of the major projects touted by Commissioner Mulvehill during the campaign was the rehabilitation of the existing Casino Building and somehow this will be an economic catalyst for the entire city - but it would also seem to benefit these contributors to her campaign more than any city-wide impact.  There are many decisions yet to be made regarding this project - the number of existing tenants that will be retained in the renewed building, the ultimate terms of the leases, what - if any- arrangements will be made to benefit the tenants during the 15 (?) month construction period.  This is a period of time where they will not be able to operate out of the building.  The impact of this issue was not really addressed prior to the election.  According to the "Ethics Ordinance" proposed by former Commissioner Jennings, Commissioner Mulvehill couldn't vote on these items as these individuals and entities have a contractual relationship (i.e., a lease) with the city.

The "Other Special Interest" category includes people that either have involved themselves actively in major issues decided by the Commission, actively participate in campaign activities, hold some sort of advisory board position or have an unusual interest in the candidate.  Celi and Maroney are representatives of the anti-Gulfstream Hotel contingent and without their activities/contributions, we might have an open and operating signature hotel on our waterfront today.  Ms. Coolican has distinguished herself in her association with Ms. Karson, as a campaign operative on this side of the ledger, as well as heading up the Census Total Count effort and benefited from a contract with the city to perform those services.  Commissioner Mulvehill voted for that team over the Community Relations Board - volunteers - to perform that effort on behalf of the city.  Mr. Taylor is the real estate agent whose "farm area" is west of Dixie Hwy. and regularly is the agent of transactions related to low value residential properties.  He benefits from falling residential property values and takes an active role in campaigns of candidates of this sort.  Many on this list are current members of the Planning and Zoning Board or CRA and might reflect their leanings and disposition on certain matters coming before those boards that relate to the platform espoused by this group.  

There are a whole series of people that have a connection to the Lake Worth Community Development Corporation and one that is on its board as well as the CRA - which of course is appointed by the Commission.  He has also been recently re-appointed and Commissioner Golden was allowed to interview him, even though a board member of the CDC, and to vote on the appointment. The CDC has/had a lease of a city building from where it operates, is staffed by Commissioner Jo Ann Golden (one relative of hers appears on the list as well as her housemate.)  She did not make an individual contribution and identify that as such.  You might ask why?

All tolled, this makes up a little less than one third of the total amount of contributions made to Commissioner Mulvehill.  I did not include others that typically vote or campaign for this sort of candidate since they are not on city boards and are, in essence, private citizens.  Does this mean that for the rest of the residents in Lake Worth that we are served by two-thirds of a Commissioner?

Click here for link to source of treasurer reports - make sure to use Internet Explorer as I have found other browsers, like Chrome, can have problems with .pdf downloads.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Volunteer Opportunity 2212 Collier Ave

Dear Volunteers,
Please note the new email address that will allow me to keep track of the email list in a more efficient way.  Please add to your contacts list so it does not go into spam.
We will be back at 2212 Collier Ave for the last bathroom clean out and wipe down of more furniture on Saturday, Dec. 11th.  I was originally planning on Dec. 4th but ran into a scheduling conflict.  This step on Saturday, Dec. 11th is very crucial as we have and will achieve the last leg of the clean out.  We made GREAT progress on the last clean out and thank all the volunteers that came to help. 
As we all know this is one of the toughest cases that we are working on and we are so blessed for the help that Paint Your Heart Out and Rebuilding Together of the Palm Beaches as provided and volunteers that they have sent to our project.  THANKS JOANNA AND RUTH!!!!  and all our friends with both organizations!!!
Dec. 11th we need 5-10 Volunteers, two will be moving the last of the trash out of the master Bathroom so others can bag it and then we need to clean down that bathroom and wipe all the furniture and facilities down to get the rest of the "dust" off of them and help remove the smell.
We are moving into the rehab phase of the program and will need some big hearts and help to bring this home up to code and ready for Trixie to move back in!  Please come by on Saturday, Dec. 11th, if not to volunteer but to help check the wiring, plumbing and all other "fix it" items to help make the list so we can go forward with finding the funding and the donations to finish this home.  Again I personally want to thank everyone that has helped in so many ways during this HUGE Event! 
Please remember when you go back to your neighborhoods, your family and friends, look around and see if there is a person in need where you live!  Don't just be a good neighbor!  be a GREAT NEIGHBOR by referring those in need to the charities that can help them!  Please find links to various groups and if you have a charity that is not linked and want to have one please send me an email with the web address. 
NHNP is not just about working in our area but helping link others to the help they need where ever you live!  And remember that all projects and volunteer opportunities help support your community service hour requirements!
Robert Waples
Neighbors Helping Neighbors Project
Volunteer to make a difference today!

Balance and Geographic Representation on Appointed Boards

This is an attempt to map out the locations of members of appointed boards in Lake Worth.  The red figures indicate careers related to the work of the advisory board; yellow figures indicate no relevant career related experience.  For the CRA, occupations were not given on the city's website, but there are also no professional requirements to be on the CRA.  There should be a preference for a resident or business owner to have an interest in property within the CRA district.The figures also indicate whether they are male or female.  For purposes of this post, I chose to look at the Planning and Zoning Board, the newly created Historic Preservation Board and the CRA since, in my opinion, the work they do is most dependent upon projects, their impacts and general location considerations.  It should go without saying that one would have a greater familiarity and sensitivity with the general area around where you live and, in the case of the CRA, where you work.

The decisions of all three of these boards can have multi-million dollar consequences - a little less likely with the Historic Preservation Board, but still possible.
2010 Planning and Zoning Board (*=Alternate)
One of the major weaknesses of the then Planning, Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board (PZHRPB) when I was on it was that we never had representation from west of Dixie Hwy.  This was true during my entire eight year tenure.  While it was something that I attempted to correct by recruiting through word-of-mouth, ultimately it was the City Commission's decision on who to appoint and re-appoint.  In dealing with the Planning and Zoning function, you also face the added challenge of finding people that have experience or are professionals in some area of land development.  In my opinion, you also need a good assortment of lay people that would likely come from neighborhood association recommendations.  During my tenure, most if not all of the people that we had on the board had experience or professional association with land development.  The important point here is to strike a balance geographically and professionally.  If the City Commission errs too much to one side or another, your board's action can be accused of bias or lack of sensitivity, whether that is the case or not.  Perception is many times reality.

It is clear looking at the above map the Planning and Zoning Board is under-represented in the entire District 4 area (southeast quadrant), the area between I-95 and Dixie Hwy south of Lake and Lucerne Avenues and the District 2 area north of 13th Avenue.  There is also a concentration of members south of 10th, east of Dixie Hwy and north of Lake Avenue.  I am glad that there is more representation west of Dixie Hwy. than when I was on the board, but it is still not enough in my opinion.

I am not sure about the stated professions listed on the newer members on the log for the Planning and Zoning Board.  I do know that Erin Fitzhugh, one of the alternates, is a planner in the Palm Beach County Planning Department.  It's important to realize that "taint" works both ways.  A member might be perceived to be "tainted" - a term that I have heard used a lot recently by multiple people - if they are over politically involved in campaigns or too close to certain Commissioners or the Mayor.  Likewise, if they are associated with the real estate industry, the "taint" that some people perceive from that association can easily be confused with experience that is needed on the board.  What I have the most concern about now is that we have balanced geographical representation and the ability to have honest debate.  In my opinion, a member can have an association with the real estate industry and not be "tainted."  Anyone does have to be aware of a potential conflict of interest if the result of their action would accrue a gain or a loss to the member personally, through business relationship or through immediate family.
2010 Historic Preservation Board (*=Alternate)
The map above shows where the appointees to the new Historic Preservation Board reside.  This is the new board that was carved from the former PZHRPB.  Three of the new members served previous terms on the other board, which is a plus for continuity.  One of them, Mrs. Mittner, was on the board briefly but then she assumed the preservation planner position with the city of Lake Worth.  She served in that position most of the time while I was on the board.  She now is on the planning staff in West Palm Beach serving the same basic function there.  Right now, we really don't have a historic preservation planner, so her addition on the board is key.  However, there is a danger that the board may rely more upon her acting "like" staff in the absence of anyone qualified in our planning department.  I don't think that she will fall prey to that but it does highlight the need to have that expertise on city staff.  Also, since many of the decisions of this board are based on context, it's best that members - especially of this separate board - live within historic districts.  All of the city's six historic districts are east of Dixie Hwy.  With the exception of one of the members, they all live in historic districts.  It is too bad not to have someone representing the College Park historic district - one of the two districts that are on the National Register.  The member that is not residing in a historic district is an attorney, but the same caution goes with this member - he should not be called on for legal advice.  That should be supplied by a paid member of city staff that is qualified to make legal interpretations, etc.
2010 CRA Board (no alternates)
The map above shows the location of the residences were the current CRA members live.  It appears that all but two live within the CRA boundaries.  When I have listened to meetings of this board over the Internet, I think they have the most foggy notion of their purpose.  Some people on this board believe that money should not go to commercial redevelopment - where the highest return to the CRA to fund additional residential programs is likely - and instead direct that money to residential properties since that is where most of the revenue for the agency comes from.  This is a distortion due to the lack of higher value improved commercial property in the district - something that needs to be the focus of the CRA.  I've also heard some board members complain about increasing property values - which is just the opposite of what people on this board should be concerned about.  The current board also leans toward providing all assistance and enticements to very low income persons/families.  This is the wrong direction based upon the city's already strapped resources and already having the highest concentration of at-risk youth factors of any Palm Beach County zip code (page 9).  It would be good have an owner of commercial property on this board - I don't think that is currently the case.  I am also concerned about some of the close relationships people on this board have with current and former City Commissioners.  This is the board charged with adminiistration of the $23 million grant from the federal government as part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2.