Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rebuilding Together of the Palm Beaches volunteer event

Dear Volunteers,  Please see the attached we have come down to the transition day for the final clean up and wipe down for 2212 Collier Ave!  We will also have a couple of contractors stopping by to help us make a To Do list so we can enter the Rehab Phase of the long term project!
THANKS TO YOU!  We have made it this far along with our Partners:  Paint Your Heart Out, Rebuilding Together of the Palm Beaches, Lake Osborne Presbyterian Church and so many other groups!
We will be Digging out the Master Bathroom and wiping down all articles in the house tomorrow from 9am - 12pm....For those that do not want to work inside there is some weeding to be done in the yards.  Also a special thanks to Trixie's family for supporting us and to Michael Picard for helping with the yards :-)
Also Don't forget that tomorrow evening at 6PM is the Lake Worth Holiday Parade and should be GREAT fun for everyone if you are not busy in the evening!  Yours truly will be on hand with my COP Unit and hope to see everyone that can attend at the Parade!
Happy Holidays everyone!
Robert E. Waples II - President
Planning & Zoning Board Lake Worth
Vice-Chair NAPC -
PBSO C.O.P Volunteer Unit 109

Volunteer to make a difference today!

RT Event Registration Form-Neighbors helping neighbors lake worth
Trixie Kinder 12-11-10.doc
If you are able to come and help please show up or call me.

Joanna Aiken
Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County
Community Service Coordinator
7501 N Jog Road
West Palm Beach, Fl 33412
(561) 697-2700 ext 4701

358-2163 cell

Friday, December 10, 2010

Coffee with Mayor

Coffee with the Mayor December 13, 2010 from 8a.m. to 9a.m. at the White Apron Catering located at 1710 N.Dixie Hwy. Lake Worth, Florida. Residents are invited to join Mayor Varela for casual conversation and brief information on projects and initiatives taking place across the city.

Lake Worth Mayor Rene Varela announces he won't seek second term in 2011

Feh.  Click title for PBP article.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This is the handwritten note re residential electric rates that my friend received during his visit to Utilities Customer Service:

Does this inspire confidence?  Does it reflect transparent government? Does it show that our elected officials  and administrators care about keeping the public informed?

Where is our progressive City Commission on this issue?

Berkeley Considers Award for Bradley Manning
Bradley Manning is the Army private responsible for supplying the information used by Wiki-leaks. Aren't we supposed to be keeping up with the Berkeley's of the world? It would be nice, at least, if our City Commission  and administration demonstrated the importance of a reliable stream of REAL public information.

 One small example: A friend presented himself at Utility Customer Service this week and asked for a breakdown of residential kilowatt hour rates.  NOTHING WAS AVAILABLE IN PRINT.  He was given a handwritten note showing when a residential customer pays more per kilowatt hour.  He then asked about commercial electric rates as he was thinking of opening a business in town and he was told "they're about the same."  Yes, even though Lake Worth has the highest commercial rates for electricity in the state.

Why isn't simple information, like this, available?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tribute to John Lennon

Lake Worth won't end late fees on utility bills

Click title for link to PBP article from last night's meeting.

Public Records and the Sunshine Law

"Dear Friends, Family, and Supporters"

Thus began an e-mail sent by our one of our elected officials  - the city's titular head, the Mayor.  By any definition, our Mayor is a public official and the e-mail talked about his role as that public official.  In addition, the e-mail was entitled "An Announcement."

We live in Florida where elected officials are governed by the Sunshine and Open Records Laws.  A Public Record is defined as follows:

The Florida Supreme Court has determined that public records are all materials made or received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge. They are not limited to traditional written documents. Tapes, photographs, films and sound recordings are also considered public records subject to inspection unless a statutory exemption exists.

In Lake Worth, we have a sphere of voting residents that ranges between 8,000 in Presidential election years, 6,000 in mid term elections and around 3,000+ during municipal only election years.  These are the people that vote to choose our local government's representatives.  When Mayor Varela was elected in 2009, he won in a run-off election and gathered 1,629  votes.  I placed one of those votes for the Mayor and actively campaigned for him - as such, I would think that I would be termed a "supporter."  Of those registered voters that vote in City of Lake Worth elections, I imagine that there are about 300 people that are active participants at one time or another in monitoring, expressing their opinions and engaging themselves in the act of representative Democracy as it relates to our local government.  In essence, when you boil it down, we are very much a "small town."

On Monday, our Mayor, sent out an e-mail addressed to "Friends, Family, and Supporters."  I'm not sure of the size of the group that received the initial e-mail, but the message included information that he would not be running for a second term.  Once someone hits "send", the e-mail sender loses control of who sees and what happens to that e-mail.  You cannot "un-ring" the bell.  In the state of Florida, in my opinion, that also qualifies as a Public Record, if you happen to be an elected or appointed official.

When I sat on the CRA, the CRA attorney advised members of the board that any communication from them that involved business related to the role being of an appointed member of that board was a Public Record.  He advised members of the board to always communicate with the official e-mail address issued by the city.  This would make the consolidation of Public Records request easier.  If we used another e-mail account other than the one issued by the city, we became custodians of the Public Record and would have to produce those communications if asked.  Even if an elected official uses a separate e-mail account from the "official" account, it is still a public record and subject to the Open Records law.

Now, as a "supporter" of Mayor Varela, Rene should understand that "An announcement" that includes information about whether or not he will be seeking a  second term would be of interest to a large portion of the politically engaged population in the City of Lake Worth.  It would not stay "secret" very long in our small town environment that we hold dear and, in many ways, is why we choose to live here in the first place.  Had the Mayor, knowing that I have maintained a "blog" on the goings-on of Lake Worth politics for four years, contacted me - which is relatively easy to do - and said to me, "Wes, I am not going to run for a second term, will be sending out an e-mail and wish that you wouldn't publish it."  I would have honored that request - even if technically it was a public record.  But that would do little to squelch the public's desire to know or, in fact, find out eventually what the plans were.

The reason for the foregoing is that Mayor Varela expressed during the meeting last night that he had an issue with the "blogs" in town publishing and talking about his decision to not seek a second term.  Not only does this show ignorance of the Public Records law, in my opinion, it assumes that somehow this "secret" could stay that way in our small town environment and energetic political sphere.  This attitude also segregates those that voted for Mayor Varela in ways that only Rene could understand.  For whatever reason, I didn't fall into the category of friend, family or supporter - even though I thought that I fit in the first and third category.  I am sorry for making that assumption Mr. Mayor.

In reality, Mayor Varela has carried on the weak leadership at the Mayoral level in Lake Worth that has become a tradition in Lake Worth for at least the last three terms.  It seems to be something about the chair that the Mayor sits in that makes them lose their spine once they get into office.  A spine is a terrible thing to lose.  There is more to being a Mayor than playing the role, sitting in the middle chair and running the meetings.  It is widely acknowledged that, before leaving the Commission, Commissioner Jennings acted as de facto Mayor during the time our current Mayor has been on the dais.  Let's hope that our next Mayor doesn't suffer from spinal atrophy once elected - the city can't survive if that happens again.

To compare the publishing of his "Announcement" to Wiki-leaks (a little self-importance here?) shows ignorance of the Public Records law, under-appreciation of the passionate of the heated, small town political environment we find ourselves in and confirms that our current Mayor is uncomfortable standing by his decisions.  Blaming an organ that helped make residents more informed is wrong.  The decision to not run for a second term was his own and the same goes for the decision to send the e-mail in the first place.  The timing, whether to announce this now or later, was his and his wife's - one presumes.  A dynamic Mayor, a leader with a spine, would understand the role of "blogs" in our 24/7 news environment and their role in dispensing information that would enable responsible and capable leadership - making their job easier.  That Mayor would know how to use these tools to get the message out and lead us out of our problems. This Mayor doesn't understand this or doesn't want to understand.

I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors - and what remains of his role with the city.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Add/Delete for City Commission Meeting - 12/7

Click here for back-up material.  Item 9 (b) is the emergency item that was not acted on last week.

Announcement from City: City of Lake Worth 45th Annual Holiday Parade

December 11, 2010 The City of Lake Worth 45th Annual Holiday Parade "Light Up The Night" will begin at 6p.m. at the corner of Lucerne Ave. and Federal Hwy. come out and celebrate this Holiday season. For any questions call Recreation at 561-533-7363.

Calling out the Other Blogger

This is a portion of the comment section on the other blogger's post regarding the Mayor.  In it, she made it seem that Rene chose to post his announcement on a "friendly" blog - mine and here I correct the record.
Why I am sharing this is that the other blogger is apparently trying to prove that somehow she accepts anonymous posts.  There have been some other recent instances, since I made the pronouncement that this is the only blog that accepts anonymous posts, where there are comments from anonymous.

Here are snapshots of her policies as it relates to commenting on her blog:
So either she has changed her policy or she is pretending to accept anonymous posts to make a point or something else...who knows?  Since we have been talking recently about the importance of letting yourself be identified here when you comment, I thought it was an observation worth sharing.  I know that many people have offered comments that never saw the light of day since they didn't fit with her editorial leanings.  If you go there, read comments or try to comment, proceed at your own risk.

Historian Donald Curl, an original FAU faculty member, dies at 75

Click title for link to PBP obituary of Dr. Kurl. Dr. Kurl was the foremost authority on Mizner architecture - the person responsible for the predominant Mediterranean Revival architecture we have in South Florida. We had an opportunity to meet when I was working at Mar-a-Lago. For those of you who don't know, I was involved in the restoration of the estate and conversion to a private club. I remember being intimidated initially when he took part in one of my tours of the estate and grounds, but at the end of the tour he reported to me that he thought I did a good job. It's a shame to lose a person that had such a command of local history. A kind and gentle man, he will certainly be missed.

Don't think we've heard the last about chickens...

Click title for link to article from the Herald-Tribune regarding Sarasota's planning board reviewing a proposal to allow chickens in residential neighborhoods.  Our progressive Commission is sure to get a whiff of this.

And, in an unrelated topic, I hear that there is "news" regarding the casino building.  There is a presentation by the beach "team" scheduled for the December 14th Commission work session - has been for a while.  Will we learn more then?

Monday, December 6, 2010

City of Lake Worth Annual Bicycle Raffle

The CRA and the City of Lake Worth are collecting donations for the City’s second annual bicycle raffle.  Raffle tickets are given to the first 300 children to attend the event that is scheduled for Saturday, December 11th @ 4pm prior to the City’s 45th Annual Holiday Parade.  We encourage you to make a donation in an effort to meet our goal this year. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact Juan at the City at 533-7359 or Emily at the CRA at 493-2550. Thank you for the consideration.

We really need your help. If you can donate, please stop by the CRA office and drop off cash or a check so we can assist the City and purchase the bicycles. Staff will be going to the store this Thursday to pick them up.

Announcement from Mayor Rene Varela:

Dear Friends, Family, and Supporters,

As most of you were instrumental in my initial desire to campaign for the office of mayor, I thought it best to write to you at this moment regarding an important recent decision that I have made. 

For the past several months Tanya and I have been faced with the troubling reality of her employer making poor business decisions and his worsening professional treatment of her. Rather than continuing to accept this treatment, I asked Tanya to begin seeking other employment. However, given her specialty and fairly high standing in her field, job openings in close proximity to Lake Worth were non-existent. Within the past two months, Tanya was courted by quite a few prospective employers and just three days ago, we decided on the one where Tanya will work... and we will eventually call home. As it turns out, this excellent opportunity will require us to move to Maryland. Tanya will begin working there within three months and I will follow her after I finish my term as Mayor and sell our home.

This of course means that I will not be seeking a second term as Mayor of the City that I love. And while this is a point of great disappointment for me, I will certainly be much more content placing my family first, within their proper place. While I may not have shown it at every moment in the past 13 months, I have the deepest admiration and respect for each of you and the residents of this City. The next 11 months will be spent by me making sure that I reengage with each of you and begin to force the much needed changes within our community/government, that up until now I have patiently shepparded. Now there won't be a moment to waste!

Tanya and I look forward to seeing each of you in the coming days and months to personally express our gratitude for the love, friendship, and trust that you have shown us.

Until then, I wish you all well.
Yours truly,


Rene' A. Varela, MS, VMD, MPH

Click here for Winter 2010 Lake Worth CRA Neighborhood Newsletter

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Tuesday, December 7, 7:00pm
St. Andrews Church, 100 North Palmway

This year’s final meeting will be a presentation by a commercial grower of bromeliads and orchids in Florida who will teach us what works, or doesn’t work, in south Florida gardens.

He will present an overview of the three easiest orchid genera to grow with lots of easy growing tips.  He will also explain which bromeliads are best for the soil, sun and oceanfront conditions in Parrot Cove and will show some everyday and holiday designs featuring both types of his favorite plants.

Bring your questions for the expert!  There will also be a raffle of two items donated by Bud.

Bud has written articles for Southern Living and other publications, spoken at garden clubs throughout Florida and teaches the bromeliad course for Master Gardeners in Seminole County.  He bought his first bromeliad in 1968 while looking for landscaping material for his garden in Orlando. Bromeliads soon moved from hobby to career.  He bought land in Sanford and began growing bromeliads on a commercial level in 1974, adding orchids in 1985.

The general meeting is open to everyone, you don’t have to be an Association member or live in Parrot Cove to attend.  In addition to Bud’s presentation, we will get an update from Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and review 2010 events.

Agenda for December 7, 20010 City Commission Meeting

Click title for link to agenda and back-up.  Does anyone else find it strangely odd that the City Commission will be approving 12 sets of minutes dating from July at the December 7th meeting?

Here is the list:
If you're running as an incumbent, it makes it easier to hide from your record if there is no published record.  The Sunshine Law requires that minutes be available in a timely basis.  You can decide if this is timely.  Last year, the special City Commission meeting minutes where Commissioner Golden said that the city didn't need the $23 million dollar grant and chastised the CRA for making the application, suddenly appeared on the first regular meeting after the election.  The meeting was held July 20th.   The minutes only show her acknowledging that the CRA had applied for the money.  She had used the $23 million grant in the list of her accomplishments on campaign materials.  The term "let the record show" means something different in Lake Worth apparently.

Transparency?  Click here for audio from the special July 20, 2009 meeting.

Plastic foam’s days may be numbered in Highland Park — Highland Park & Highwood news, photos and events —

Highland Park is an enclave within the city of Detroit. It's peak population was 52,000 in 1930. The 2009 Census estimate is 13,000. It was the former home of Ford and Chrysler manufacturing plants.

Could former Congressman Foley overcome sex scandal to win West Palm city hall?

Click title for link to PBP article.It would be an interesting race to watch if it comes about.