Friday, January 28, 2011

FYI - Comments have been going to my G-mail spam folder. Correcting the problem now.

I think it's back to working as it should.  Let me know by e-mail ( if you have placed a comment and don't see it come up within a reasonable time.  I turn away very few.

Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association - Alley Clean-up

Good Afternoon Friends & Neighbors!

Please join the Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association tomorrow morning for an alley clean-up!
Who: Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association

What: Alley Clean-up
Where: Alley-ways behind G & H St. beween 3rd & 10th Ave. North
When: Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 8am. Please meet and park in the rear of the Burger King parking lot.

Garbage bags, bottled water and pickers will be provided. Please bring gloves! If you have any questions, you can contact me at jessica@tropicalridge.orgor 561.635.7766.
See you there!

Click here for letter to City Commission from loyal reader regarding dogs being allowed in Lake Worth parks.

I do not share all of this reader's views, but I think that a six month analysis of any change that would allow dogs in parks would be a good idea.

Click here for link to a collection of contemporary black and white photos of Dixie Hwy architecture and environment by Lake Worth photographer Steve Barry.

Top Secret

This is from my tracking software that is part of the blog.  Besides the numbers (thank you for visiting), I thought it was interesting to see the variety of platforms that access this blog.  I just changed from my Blackberry - which was almost useless for Internet items - to an Evo now.  This allows me to approve comments - assuming that is working o.k. - while away from my computer.  I can also easily access the blog and post from the EVO too - it happens to fit perfectly on the screen when the keyboard is slid out.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

There appears to be a problem with the comment feature of the blog. I will investigate tomorrow. In the meantime, I ask for your patience.
Still not sure what happened or is happening, but there is much to read.

Daddy/Daughter - Mother/Son Date Night - 2/12

Click here for registration form.

Some other thoughts about the role of advisory boards...

One of the frustrations of being an engaged resident of Lake Worth, and at times for the members of the City Commission, is the amount of meetings that take place during the typical working hours of the weekday.  Most of these are "work sessions."  During these sort of meetings, action cannot be taken.  However, many time "consensus" is reached during these sessions - which in my opinion stretches what should be allowed during "work sessions."  But, whatever the case, many things are discussed at these meetings that could be handled by one or more of the city's advisory boards.

Here is a link from the city's website showing the number and type of advisory boards.  I already notice that it isn't a current list since the Finance Advisory Board, Community Relations Board and Marketing Task Force aren't included on the list.

If the city were serious about getting the best ideas, it really could use its advisory boards in a more productive way by parceling out some of the items dealt with by the City Commission in work sessions to these boards - asking them for a report back on a given topic.  That is, unless you are afraid of the answer that you will get in return.  Remember, this Commission is one with a sitting City Commissioner that led a petition drive to repeal ordinances.  That Commissioner seems unable to recognize this fact as the city goes forward utilizing what is enabled in those ordinances.  This is not an example that representatives who are supposed to speak for the "people" should follow.

Public opinion is not a political plaything.

You either are listening to the "people" or you aren't.  Using the array of advisory boards is one to way to do that better.  Otherwise, you are regurgitating ideas amongst the Commission and senior administration without any additional input.  Remember too that public comment is not allowed during work sessions.  I guess the current format fits the current regime's vision of public involvement just fine - or it would change.

Click here if you want to see the back-up for Palm Beach County's Evaluation and Appraisal Report for its Comprehensive Plan.

It will be the first item on the Board of County Commissioner's workshop of January 25, 2011.  I am still going through it, but it is a good example of what a professional planning staff is capable of.  I am sure there are items that might impact what Lake Worth will become in the future.  I'll share any revelations after reading the back-up information.

Mark Shields - PBS

"There was one observation that was made this week I just have to pass on to you by a friend of mine, Allen Ginsberg, who is an historian up in Maine. And he said, this week, we saw a white, Catholic, Republican federal judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic woman, member of Congress, who was his friend and was Jewish. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American college student, who saved her, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon."

Palm Beach County property values down 5 percent; commercial hardest hit

Ominous - click title for link to PBP article. Remember, Lake Worth's commercial properties are also saddled with the highest electric utility rates in the state. The decline here in Lake Worth will be much more than the 5 percent predicted for the County as a whole. No breakdown by municipality, but one would think that those numbers are available to the cities for help in budget preparation and forecasting.

Update:  I just called the Property Appraiser's office and a breakdown by municipality is not available yet and this is just a general projection at this point in time.

Lake Worth's HR director leaving $98,000 job to pursue other options

Click title for link to PBP article. Guess Mr. Howard wasn't given the press release on the recent adverse decisions against the city regarding its labor unions. An objective reporter would have mentioned that in this piece - alas. Check out some of the comments at the end of the article.  Perhaps the "other options" include maintaining her sanity?

The brain-drain continues from city staff. I am currently reading Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Synder. This is beginning to recall the targeting and persecuting of the intelligentsia.

Mayor Varela State of the City Address 2011

Lake Worth Mayor, Renè A. Varela, will be issuing his second annual State of the City Address on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 at 7:00 pm in the Lake Worth Playhouse. 

During his address, the Mayor will provide a report on the current condition of the City and outline his plan and vision for improvement. Highlights of the speech will include updates on the current state of the City’s finances, utilities, blight and crime statist
ics; providing Lake Worth residents and business owners with a better understanding of where the City currently stands and how these challenges can be overcome. The address is designed to be a continuing commitment by the Mayor to deliver an annual State of the City Addresses to the residents and business owners of the City. Mayor Varela feels that this effort extends the promotion of transparent government and keeps the community informed and up to date on the progress being made. The event is free of charge and open to all interested residents of the City. 

Good News! Rotary Donation to LW Athletic Director

Hi Wes,

Thanks for the info on the need for a high jump/vault pit cover at LW High. I started the process for possible support after reading here.
The LW Rotary Past Presidents fund was able to help with $500.00. The LW High AD received the check today. Again, Rotary was happy to support this worthwhile community need. LW Rotary has been active in the LW community since 1925. Thanks for getting this in motion through your blog.

John Endruschat

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Theodore Roosevelt

"Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong."

Someplace where independent thought and expression is discouraged:

What is meant by "getting political?"

Another local blogger is suggesting that the Finance Advisory Board is "getting political."  What exactly does that mean?  First of all, the City Commission is elected through a political process.  "Politics" are defined roughly as getting things done through a governmental process.  Through politics, we express our opinions.  People appointed to advisory boards are meant to offer their opinions on issues faced by the city related to their specific board's function.

What I have found is that the term "getting political" in Lake Worth is usually used as a negative epithet.  Part of why we appoint people, also a political process by the way, to an advisory board is to solicit their unique perspectives based upon where they live, their professional experience and their intelligence.  Suddenly we hear about a board or someone "getting political" in Lake Worth when that person's or board's opinion may be at odds with the current policy promulgated by the Commission or the administration.  Some times, the independent thought that can occur at these advisory board meetings is the first indication that there may be a problem.  Advisory boards can act as "guard rails" around a sharp curve or a noisy inversion of a canary in a coal mine.  Anything should be game for discussion as it relates to input necessary for better policy decisions in the future.  This is the strength of independent thought and is something that should be encouraged.

What many would like to have is a series "rubber stamp" advisory boards that don't question policies or directions in which the city is headed.  See the previous post on political machines.  We are not served well as a community when opinions of those on appointed boards can be predicted based upon who appointed them or whose campaign they worked on.  I remember hearing the complaint from Commissioner Golden that, while I was on the CRA, the "bashing" of the Commission had to stop.  Well, it may have, but is the city better for it?

So, my message to anyone on an appointed board in Lake Worth is to not worry about "getting political" - instead focus on having original thought and be capable of expressing the results of your critical thinking.  Many times it is not the answer that counts but the asking of the right question that is important.

Newsworthy items from around the state and the nation...

Compassionate Code Enforcement in Cape Coral

Martin County considering competing against Comcast for broadband cable customers
Quote from article:  "We're the little guy; they're the giant," Ciampi said. "It would be similar to other municipalities that run their own (electric) utilities competing against FPL. I think that makes perfect sense that the county look at opportunities for revenue generation that does not involve taxpayers."

Bondholders Left in the Dark - Concern Grows Over Lack of Disclosure by State and Local Governments
Quote from WSJ article: "Amid governments' financial woes, meanwhile, angry investors are finding themselves blindsided by bad news.  Those concerns are reflected in a forthcoming study that shows that public issuers routinely file information about their financial health well beyond the date they promise to bondholders, if at all."

West Palm Beach - Top City for hospital care in nation?

Definition of "Political Machine"

political machine (or simply machine) is a disciplined political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses (usually campaign workers), who receive rewards for their efforts. Although these elements are common to most political parties and organizations, they are essential to political machines, which rely on hierarchy and rewards for political power, often enforced by a strong party whip structure. Machines sometimes have a political boss, often rely on patronage, the spoils system, "behind-the-scenes" control, and longstanding political ties within the structure of a representative democracy. Machines typically are organized on a permanent basis instead of for a single election or event. The term may have a pejorative sense referring to corrupt political machines.[1]

Read more here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lake Worth's Bamboo Room, a rock and blues venue, set to reopen next month

Good News! Click title for link to article.

In what sure is the beginning of a trend...

The city loses the first set of lawsuits from its various labor unions.  This shows that the city's unilateral decisions, in this case to rescind benefits, don't hold up in a court of law.  Money that was "saved" in the FY2009-2010 budget will now have to be applied and then some to the current FY2010-2011 budget.  So much for the city thinking that it is above the law.

Click here for the order.  Click here for another take on the matter.

South Grade Elementary School Garden

Hello Everybody,
Please join us on Saturday, January 29, 2011 as we begin work on the South Grade Elementary School Garden.

We will be meeting at 8:30 AM in the parking lot on the west side of the school. Tasks will involve laying the landscape edging, mulch, pavers and filling garden bags. Planting will take place at a later date.

Please let me know by Thursday, Jan 27th if you will be coming.


January 29, 2011
8:30 – 12:00 PM
South Grade Elementary
716 South K Street, Lake Worth

Bring hats, shovels and gardening gloves
Erica Whitfield
Project Coordinator
Robert Wood Johnson
Healthy Kids Healthy Communities Program
561-969-5880 or PX 45880
School District of Palm Beach County
3300 Forest Hill Blvd C-225
West Palm Beach, FL 33406

Monday, January 24, 2011

No one seems to have read this part of the Zoning Code recently... - Prohibited and exempted signs. Prohibited signs.
Animated signs. (Except time and temperature.)
Snipe signs.
A-frame, sandwich, sidewalk or curb signs.
Streamers, twirling objects, balloons or any other air or gas filled figure or sign, or any other similar items.
Search lights.
Swinging signs.
Outdoor advertising of any kind or character where any live animal or human being is used as part of the advertising and is visible from any public street or public place.
Any unauthorized sign on city property.
Any portable signs or signs attached to trees, utility poles, trailers, roller casters, or any unapproved supporting structures.
Any sign or advertising structure displaying obscene, indecent and/or immoral matter.
Any sign which becomes unsightly. Signs which contribute to unsightliness or are inappropriate as deemed by the building official may be appealed to the board of sign appeals.
Abandoned signs.
Vehicular signs.
Any sign which contains or consists of a three-dimensional sculptured figure which is an emblem/logo of the business to which it is accessory or which represents products manufactured or sold by said business.
Flashing sign.
Any other sign not specifically authorized by this article.
String of light bulbs, except as provided in section K.(4).

There are a lot of A-frame signs throughout the downtown and up and down Dixie Hwy.  They are all prohibited by the zoning code.  The city has a number of them out at any time advertising recreational programs, bonfires at the beach, etc.  If we are going to allow them, can we change the code so that they are no longer prohibited - or can we change the regulations so that they are only permitted in certain areas or at certain times?  I know many businesses that have been fined in the past for A-frame signs.  In fact, when I was on the Planning and Zoning Board, we specifically acted to allow A-frame signs for a finite period.  This came during the economic slump after the 9/11 incidents.

Or, is it better to allow the city administration and City Commission the ability to selectively enforce regulations - based upon who gave what contribution to whom, etc?

Some say bridge repair spells doom, gloom for Lantana businesses

Click title for PBP article. I have heard about this coming down the pike. How are we taking advantage of this to promote our downtown commercial area? The bridge work will coincide with the projected reconstruction schedule of the Casino building at the beach.  Oh, and it looks like Jane Loves Cheap Furniture has closed.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

PBCAS Lecture Thursday Jan 27 7pm

The Palm Beach County
 Archaeological Society

Invites you to Attend a Lecture Entitled:

The Bog Bodies of Florida's Windover Pond- Floridian Health and Healing: 7,000 Years Ago

Presented By: Dr. Michelle Williams

The Windover site is a Floridian mortuary pond which produced the well-preserved remains of 168 individuals. This remarkable discovery allowed archaeologists to take a comprehensive look at life and health 7,000 years ago. Dr. William’s lecture will discuss potential medicinal plant usage among Native Floridians by comparing pathologies identified in the bodies recovered from Windover Pond with the potential medicinal plants associated with them.

Michele Williams, Ph.D., RPA is the Director for the Southeastern Region of Florida Public Archaeology Network.  Her specialty within archaeology is the use of plants by prehistoric Native Americans.
Thursday January 27th at 7PM
West Palm Beach Public Library
411 Clematis Street, WPB
                                For More Info: 561-215-7909

Behind the razor wire with contrite Mary McCarty: 'I took my life for granted. I had a wonderful life. And I blew it'

Click title for link to PBP article.