Friday, February 18, 2011

Held over for the 250th week, still appearing at 7 N. Dixie Hwy...

The Egregiousness Continues...Commissioner Jo Ann Golden attempts to grab the CRA again...

As if two times were not enough, Commissioner Jo Ann Golden is making another run at the power represented by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).  Commissioner Golden also happens to be the Project Manager for the Lake Worth Community Development Corporation (LWCDC).  This is a private non-profit corporation that no one really knows what they do.  This even though the LWCDC uses a city building and hasn't had a current lease with the city since Commissioner Golden has been on the dais.  They also haven't paid utilities over the same period of time.  Thus, the LWCDC enjoys a subsidy from the City of Lake Worth without the benefit of knowing if that subsidy is worth public money.

Commissioner Golden has inconsistently declared a conflict of interest when matters affecting the LWCDC have come before the City Commission.
A week after Commissioner Golden's first attempt at a City Commission takeover of the CRA, her LWCDC came before the CRA and asked for a $300,000 "grant or forgivable loan" for property that they have along 6th Avenue South and E Street - a property that is non-conforming with the Gateway zoning district.  The CRA turned it down - this is before I was on the CRA - but one could see this as an attempt to bully the CRA into granting the money to the LWCDC or else future attempts would be made to takeover the agency.  Well, that came to pass a year later and the attempt was unsuccessful. 

Now, we have another attempt by Commissioner Golden to grab the power and money represented by the CDC.  Click here to read her memo prepared for the March 1, 2011 City Commission meeting.

She cites "many missed opportunities" and "many lost economic development opportunities and poor decision-making."  THE ONLY AGENCY THAT HAS BEEN EFFECTIVE IN ADDRESSING SLUM AND BLIGHT OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS IS THE CRA - NOT THE CITY COMMISSION.  She is also under the mis-comprehension that tax-increment monies targeted toward residential areas has less of a benefit that monies targeted towards the city under-utilized commercial areas.  The future return is many fold more when investing in commercial property.  That greater spin-off can then be targeted to residential area up-grades.  This is not to say that money hasn't been spent in residential areas - it has!

She gets many facts wrong in her memo and shovels out  a fair share of revisionist history as well.  The Gateway Districts have now been established - along 6th and 10th Avenues for at least 7 years and were a result of many public and neighborhood meetings.  This was a co-operative effort between the CRA, the Planning and Zoning Board and the City Commission.  The fact that the LWCDC has a non-conforming property on 6th Avenue South is the LWCDC's problem - not a problem with the zoning ordinance.  The Arts Overlay District is an area around the downtown commercial area and has been in place for at least ten years and was a product of the Planning and Zoning Board.  If you want to see success stories in real-life, look at the renovated historic structures along the west side of North M Street between Lucerne and 2nd Avenue North - a thriving dentist's and architect's office.  At the northeast corner of 1st Avenue South and South M Street we have a renovated historic structure that is a lawyer's office.  These are courtesy of the Arts Overlay District.

She has the chutzpah to say that enticing Publix into the downtown area was an "improper decision."  She thinks that luring the Palm Beach County Cultural Council to Lake Worth, in the heart of the downtown in a formerly vacant historic building, was an "improper decision." Commissioner Golden refers to a mysterious "big box storage building to be built in the Osborne Community" that the CRA somehow "allowed...without adequate community input."  Jo Ann, the CRA does not give out development approvals - you might want to write that down.  And just where is this building "to be built?"

The City Commission, in its finite wisdom, is funding the rehabilitation of the Casino building through the City's "cash portfolio" to the tune of $6 million plus during a time of "Financial Urgency."  Does this inspire confidence in City Commission-made financial decisions?  How are all of those lawsuits coming Commissioner Golden?

THE CITY WOULD NOT HAVE THE BENEFIT OF THE $23 MILLION NSP2 GRANT WITHOUT THE CRA APPLYING FOR IT.  In Commissioner Golden's second attempt at taking over the CRA, she said that the CRA shouldn't have applied for the NSP2 money since the "city would be told how to spend it and that the city knows best how to spend money here."  She thought that the CRA's application for the money was tantamount to insubordination.  Well, that didn't stop her from using the grant as one of her accomplishments in her re-election materials.

Related to public input, it was Commissioner Golden at the last Commission meeting (2/15) that said, "We get a lot of people here for dogs and puppy mills but we talk about the budget and there are five people here."  Commissioner Golden, how is the City Commission takeover of the CRA function going to increase public input?  Other than longer agendas and meetings into the wee hours of the morning, I don't see much change in public input unless the Commission makes a sincere attempt to want to listen to the public and discard the practice of decisions being made prior to the meetings themselves.

She consistently cites the "current board" being too "passive" - but these are people that for the most part she appointed!  A year and a half ago, 6 of the 7 positions were filled with new people.  One of the current members of the CRA is Ed Grimm - who happens to be the LWCDC Board Chairman!

Oh, it just so happens that the LWCDC is one of the NSP2 partner agencies that gets funding through the CRA.  Hmmmm.  How would that work with their project manager sitting as a decision-maker on the board that determines how that money is spent?

The memo concludes with what looks like an incomplete recommendation from the City Manager.  But, it is my understanding that City Manager Stanton is telling people that this proposal "has three votes to pass."  HOW IS THIS NOT A BLATANT VIOLATION OF THE SUNSHINE LAW?

AS JO-ANN HERSELF SAID, "MANNY [and everyone else] IS GOING TO HAVE TO GET USED TO LIVING IN A GHETTO UNTIL THINGS TURNAROUND HERE."  That would be until people like Commissioner Golden are off of the City Commission.  In the mean time, we should keep the CRA responsibilities with a separate appointed board.

Tomorrow 2/19 at the Golf Course Clubhouse...

Starting tomorrow on the Turnpike from US-1 in Miami to Broward County...

All-Electronic Open Road Tolling - click here for more information.  Those without SunPass will have their license plate photographed and a bill sent to the address on the vehicle registration.

Attention Kindle e-Reader Users:

You can now subscribe to this blog through and it will be delivered to your Kindle e-reader.  The price is $1.99 and includes a free 14 day trial.  I am an avid Kindle user.  If you haven't picked one up and you like to read, I urge you to give it a try.  Just another way to keep informed on what is going on in our city.  Click here for a closer look.

600 artists taking to streets for Lake Worth festival

Yeah! It's that time of year much work goes on behind the scenes to pull this event off. Hats off to all of those involved. Click title for link to PBP article.  It's next weekend folks.

Dalai Lama

Since patience or tolerance comes from an ability to remain steadfast, to avoid being overwhelmed by adverse situations or conditions, we should not see patience as a sign of weakness or giving in, but rather as a sign of strength. Responding to a trying situation with patience and tolerance rather than reacting with anger and hatred involves active restraint, which arises from a strong, self-disciplined mind.

Libertarians urge Lake Worth to be "NORML" - West Palm Beach Libertarian |

Smoke 'em if you got 'em? Click title for link. Doesn't the Commission have enough real work to do?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pics from the 2/15 City Commission meeting...

Thanks to AnnaMaria Windisch for taking these.  She lives in Mango Groves - see nifty t-shirts!

Some additional information about the property that is being occupied by the tree-sitters...

I did a little background research.  This 681 acre property is referred to as the Briger tract and it is related to the Scripps bio-medical research park project.  Of the total 681 acres, a total of 83.26 acres would be designated as a protected upland.  I am not 100% sure that the area exactly where the tree-sitters are part of this, but judging by the picture and the location it is likely that it is part of the protected area.  The 83.26 acres does not include the area for required landscape buffers or other open space.

It turns out that Mr. Tsolkas and company challenged the Comprehensive Plan change and final environmental permit.  Both challenges were dismissed.  The first one due to lack of "standing."  See links below for the final orders related to the challenges - there are two different items related to the Comprehensive Plan challenge.

Comprehensive Plan Challenge

Comprehensive Plan Challenge

Environmental Permit Challenge

So, by losing these two challenges, the tree-sitting exercise can be thought of as trespassing, sour grapes, publicity seeking and a fundraising opportunity with I-95 frontage.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Non-aggressive clothing/accessory ideas for City Commission meetings...

Report from last night...

I found my way to the Commission Chambers last night after a meeting that went longer than expected.  I walked in the door around 8:30 p.m. and left around 10 p.m.

There were few people in the room - probably less than 10 in the audience.  I ended up sitting on the pew that runs along the western wall.  I attempted, as best I could, to appear civil and non-threatening.  I wore simple and sensible shoes - all black without any shiny parts.  My blue jeans were humble, sincere and generally clean.  The blue dress shirt was worn un-tucked to project humility and to hide my figure flaws.  Besides being a white male and therefore having come from "privilege", I tried NOT to broadcast that since white males typically rely on hierarchical authority structures,  I came only as a simple citizen - having no appointed role in the administration of the city other than through the occasional act of voting and eking out words on this blog- and left that same humble way.  Of course, you can't control how people perceive your presence, but I would be surprised if anyone on the dais thought that my being there was either "mean" or "insulting." Perhaps I should have walked backwards into and out of the room to emphasize my passivity - perhaps bowing on the way out the door, but besides that, I would do nothing differently.  I could do nothing about my six foot five inch height unless I crawled on my hands and knees.  Maybe next time for that.

While there, the City Commission was finishing up discussion on the amendments to the FY 2010-11 budget.  During the process, Commissioner Maxwell asked a question about how one would go about finding the actually budget reference line item where these amounts that are being changed come from.  It turns out that Steve Carr explained that this is not a simple process as the changes come from different line items in each department budget and it would be difficult to label all the sources of these changes.  Commissioner Maxwell was looking for someway that he could check to make sure that the changes being contemplated last night would actually be made.  That's when it dawned on me...wouldn't this be a role for an Internal Auditor that would be under the employ of the City Commission?  The one that is required by the City's Charter and Code of Ordinances that the City Commission chooses not to fund since they don't think it is required due to bad advice provided by the City Attorney hired by the Commission.

They then went on to an item added to the agenda suggested by Commissioner Mulvehill about items that would be included on future consent agendas.  What amazed me was that, with the exception of Commissioner Mulvehill, no one on the Commission seemed to sense the importance of the public to comment on items on the consent agenda.  In most other municipalities and Palm Beach County, if the public submits a comment card on a consent agenda item, the item is either pulled for full board/commission discussion and/or public comment is allowed.  It is not at the discretion of the board or commission.  The discussion at the City Commission centered more about "well, it's o.k. if we've approved it already in the budget, if we have talked about it at a work session..." - it seemed that it was all about THEM - and not the need of the public to know.  I'm not sure if anything was really concluded other than finding a way to indicate that one of the five can identify in advance of agenda publication.  One might question about adherence to the Sunshine Law and the fact that the City Manager can act as a conduit of information - which is not legal, but that wasn't a concern apparently.

Back to the budget discussion, they talked about the multi-million seven year contracts the city has with Microsoft for various software packages.  The Mayor brought up the possibility of going to "open source" software and save a significant amount of money over time as these expire.  This has a lot of merit.  I know that the municipal government of Washington, D.C. uses Google documents - an Internet or "cloud" platform - exclusively.  There are a lot of YouTube videos about it - I'll sift out the best of them - perhaps they can shed some light on the issue.

There was another item pulled by Commissioner McVoy related to the purchasing of electric meters.  He wanted to include some purchase of smart meters, at least a few, so that the city could get a start on the ability to provide feedback for customers on real time electrical use.  Rebecca Mattey responded that these meters are purchased as entire systems and differ in their capabilities.  What would be needed is further discussion in a work session where alternatives could be presented.  What she did reveal is that 17,000 of the city's electric meters are more than 20 years old - someone confirm that number, it seems high to me based upon the size of Lake Worth's electric service area.  Over time, meters tend to slow down and those meters may only account for up to half of the actual electricity used by the customer.  So - there must be a wide variety in the metering of electricity throughout the city which should not come as a surprise to anyone.  However, I have heard of one instance that when a new meter was installed, a homeowner's monthly bill decreased substantially.  Perhaps it is not universally true that old meters slow down.  Anyway, something to think about.

I left before Commissioner Comments.

Breaking News: High Speed Rail in Florida

BREAKING NEWS: Gov. Rick Scott is rejecting the federal money for high speed rail
between Tampa and Orlando. Scott said the state eventually likely 
would be on the hook for keeping the train running. "I believe the 
risk far outweighs the benefits," Scott said in a hastily called news 
conference. Stay tuned throughout the day for more information. (News Service of Florida)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

FYI - Vanishing of the Bees movie this Saturday

Around our area:  This Saturday, Feb. 19, Slow Food Glades to Coast will be sponsoring a free event which is open to everyone. The movie “Vanishing of the Bees” will be shown, followed by a discussion led by a local beekeeper.  The program is from 2-5 PM at the Cason Methodist Church Community Hall in Delray Beach. After the movie, light refreshments will be served and there will be a tour of the Cason Community Gardens. Reservations are not required-just show up! Slow Foods Glades to Coast new website has information about this program as well as the Slow Food movement:

"Mis"-Information Sheet distributed by "We Love Lake Worth PAC" in beach land use and zoning ordinance repeal effort...

This accompanied the petition drive to repeal the beach land use and zoning designations - the effort led by now Commissioner Chris McVoy and now conveniently forgotten.  The "lease" was not part of the petition drive, but was used as part of the narrative to collect signatures.  This is the "lease" that is the subject of a current lawsuit against the city that no one talks about either.  Hmmm.

What if the petitioners had gotten their wish and the ordinances were repealed through referendum?

Perhaps no one talks about it since it was a fraud perpetrated against the 2,500 people who signed the petitions, as well as the city at-large.
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The Casino Building in its final stages of construction...c. 1922

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When the shuffleboard courts were north of the current City Hall...

I am looking in my archives for a story regarding the relocation of the courts to their current location. It was back in the early sixties and there was a bruh-ha-ha about their move and much intrigue. I know I have the articles somewhere...seems the more things change the more they stay the same.  If anyone remembers what went on back then, please share by commenting below.
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Rosemary's art show

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Please see email below from Rosemary Otto, She is one of the people that we (Rebuilding Together of the Palm Beaches and Paint Your Heart Out) helped in Lake Worth.  She is a local struggling artist and you may already be familiar with her.   Very talented Lake Worth Senior Citizen that is trying to sell her art in order to maintain her home.   Any word you can get out for her show would be greatly appreciated! 

Thank You,

Robert E. Waples II
Thank you for your help. My art show is at the CMAA Rec Center just east of the junior college at 2728 Lake Worth Road. Their phone number is 561-966-7026. His name is Donald Perez. (It is the Club Managers Association of America and it is the home of  the Special Olympics.)

The opening party is April 7 between 6:00 and 8:00 PM. Everyone is invited and I hope to see  them there. The show will be up until May 2.

If you have any ideas about publicity, I would be deeply appreciative. Could Chanel 5 be there? You have amazing clout.

I hope to be sending out invitations with the picture of my most recent painting on it. Penny is handling the invitations with help from her co-workers.

It is a brand new building and very fancy. (Every time you walk past the door, it opens.)

I hope to see you there.

Love, sincerely, Rosemary

This Saturday at the Lake Worth Golf Course - 9 a.m.

Call out to all local artists and cultural organizations and businesses!  Come join us on February 19th at 9:00am to discuss the role of the arts and culture in Lake Worth. This event will take place at the Lake Worth Golf Course. For more information please contact Tracy Smith-Coffey at:  

This event is hosted by the Lake Worth CRA and will be facilitated by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council. Please attend and help us develop the Cultural Renaissance Program.

For general information about the CRA, please visit us on the web at

The Rust Belt Has Arrived

Is Florida being left out of the next geographic economic hot spot? Click title for link. Click here for link to blog called RustWire which contains information on economic development of rust belt cities.  Or check out this survey - 1 in 5 Floridians are thinking of moving out of the state.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In the news today...

Best watched full screen.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Aerial Photograph from 1940 of College Park area...

North is to the right of photo.  Notice canal and curve in Federal Hwy.  Photo courtesy of University of Florida Aerial Photography collection.

Historic Delray Beach pictures

Pictures of Atlantic Avenue circa 1918 - courtesy of Preservation Generation.

Shanghai - Planning for the Future

WARNING: Buildings shown in this video are over three stories in height.  Viewer discretion advised.