Saturday, February 26, 2011

In honor of the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden's last statement of financial interest form filed June 2010 for the year 2009

The next report for 2010 is due around the end of July, beginning of August of 2011. 

Something from Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Didn't we learn that the cover-up is worse than the crime?

In the February 24, 2011 issue of the Lake Worth Herald, Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden affirms to Pat Parrish that she is a former employee with the Lake Worth Community Development Corporation and that she hasn't held that position for two years.

In September of 2010, she declared a conflict of interest due to her employer, the Lake Worth CDC - twice.

You can't be just a little pregnant.  There is a big difference between two years and 4 or 5 months.

2010 Census Data - 2010 Census

Local data for 21 states have been released. Florida is not one of them. Apparently, the data are being gone over by the various state redistricting committees first, and then released to the public. I get periodic notifications so I will keep you posted. Click title for link to interactive map on the Census website.

Detroit Offers Historic Houses to Cops

One approach a beleaguered city is using to save its history and its housing stock. A morale boast for police and reduction in crime are possible outcomes too. Click title for link to article.

Chamber of Commerce on Lake Worth's CRA

Forwarded from Ryan Anderson:

Over the past week I have been receiving a lot of questions from TRNA members regarding the Lake Worth CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency).  These questions range from "How are CRA members selcted?" to "What has the CRA done for me lately?".  Recently Beth Johnston, the Executive Director of Lake Worth's Chamber of Commerce, sent an email to members of the Chamber.  This email doesn't answer everything you may want to know about the CRA but it'll give you a good start.  Enjoy...
Dear Chamber Members,
In the past week, the Chamber has received many requests for information concerning the function of the Lake Worth CRA.  A CRA works on eliminating blight, creating a sustainable downtown and encourages economic growth. 
The Chamber supports the work of the Lake Worth CRA, and below, we have listed recent accomplishments.  At the March 1st City Commission meeting, there will be a discussion about the dissolution of the independent CRA Board.  The Chamber encourages you, as business people in Lake Worth and the surrounding area, to come to the City Commission meeting and support retaining the CRA board in its current state.  Successful cities have a Chamber, Independent CRA Board and City Government that work cohesively toward progress. 
CRA Accomplishments
1.  Awarded $23.2M in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds from federal government after partnering with over 20 local profit and non-profit partners
2. Completed the Transit Oriented Development Master Plan
3. Completed and are implementing the Bicycle Network Program
4. Attracted a Publix to downtown Lake Worth
5. Created the Cultural Renaissance Program – which led to the attraction of the headquarters for the Palm Beach Cultural Council
6. Development of a much needed parking area on Dixie Highway – 812 Dixie Highway
7. Redeveloped the Gateways – 6th and 10th, providing all new infrastructure to the City and pay on-going maintenance
8. Pay for maintenance of the downtown
9. Purchase and plan future redevelopment for 1000 Lake Ave. – a blighted and underutilized, historic structure
10. Through a partnership with Adopt-a-Family developed and implemented a residential rehabilitation program
11. Provided funding for existing and start up businesses over the years through façade and tenant improvement grants
12. Sponsored many local events including the Tree Festival, Street Painting Festival, Bike Night, Holiday Tree Lighting and many more.
Beth Johnston
Executive Director
Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce
501 Lake Avenue
Lake Worth, Florida 33460
Phone:  561.582.4401
Fax:  561.547.8300

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lake Worth wants to ban shouting, name calling, personal attacks at city commission meetings

Click title for link to WPTV Channel 5's website. This is from the conversation yesterday at the City Commission work session. By the way, I was not the "big guy" in the parking lot that Stanton was talking about.

Do you want to be on the wrong side of history?

Do not adjust your sets.  The above is an intentional message - there is no link or anything else.  This question was posed to the United States during the recent "rising up" in Egypt.  I think we face a similar question here in Lake Worth.  What would it be like without information available like this through electronic media?  Can you imagine the Palm Beach Post delving into the CRA takeover issue - ever, or at least with this level of detail?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Anatomy of the second CRA takeover attempt - 2009

About a year and a half later, another takeover attempt launched by then Vice Mayor Golden appeared on the City Commission's agenda.  Not so strangely, the item appeared within a week of the CRA authorizing application to the federal government for $23 million of NSP2 monies.  Here is a section of the minutes from the July 14, 2009 CRA meeting that approved the application.

Two things to notice.  Look who made the motion :) and look who one of the non-profit partners is: the Lake Worth CDC.

For months, the CRA staff had tried to get the attention of the City Commission and city administration about the opportunity represented in the NSP2 program.  They got very little cooperation and, if it had been up to the city itself and not the CRA, the application would not have been made.  Period.  In thanks for making the application for the $23 million, which was eventually awarded, the City Commission - at the urging of then Vice Mayor Golden - called the CRA on the carpet the next week and again suffered through another attempt to takeover the independent and volunteer board.

Click here for a copy of the minutes from the July 21, 2009 special City Commission meeting.  I have highlighted some quotes made by Jo-Ann Golden which we are sure to hear repeated next Tuesday night March 1, 2011.  Most noteworthy is the one where she says that the current CRA lacks transparency.
Then Vice Mayor Golden took every opportunity to say that the CRA should not apply for the NSP2 grant and that we didn't need federal money - since we know how to spend money here better than they do.  This didn't prevent her from using the application for the $23 million in her re-election campaign materials...
The item above came from her re-election website.  I guess in Jo-Ann's mind, the takeover actually happened since she credits the City for making the application.

And the minutes of the July 21, 2009 special City Commission meeting were not available and were not approved until after the 2009 election.

There was no follow-up on options to dilute the powers of the CRA.  It is my understanding that the CRA board's attorney had a difficult time chasing down and getting the attention of the City Attorney. It was soon after this that the City Commission replaced 6 expired seats with mostly new members.  I resigned to run for office and did not re-apply for a vacant seat.  

One of the funny things that jumped out from the July 21 City Commission minutes is that both Commissioner Jennings and then Vice Mayor Golden are quoted as saying the "current members of the board should be dissolved."  Perhaps their deepest and darkest wish?

News coming from the "No on 4" folks...

Time for some entertainment...

Vice Mayor Mulvehill and Commissioner McVoy Selected Campaign Contributors - 2010 Election

At the January 18, 2011 City Commission meeting...

Item 8 B on the Consent Agenda concerned an amended contract with the County and the LWCDC relating to the changed Hammon Park project (Publix being built on part of the site where residential units had been approved previously.)

Here is the back-up for the item.  The LWCDC would get 75% less of the funds previously tagged for their participation in the program.  Note that "The CDC and city staff hoped to obtain County approval to set aside these funds in the City of Lake Worth for future residential projects but this request was not approved."

State Statutes require that an elected official must declare a conflict and abstain from voting on an item that would inure a gain or a loss to an agency that employs them.  Here is a section of the approved minutes from the January 18, 2011 meeting:
No discussion of the item needing to be pulled and no discussion of a conflict with Commissioner Golden, Project Manager of the LWCDC.   Commissioner Golden voted for the items, including 8 B, in the remaining consent agenda.

Back at the September 21, 2010 meeting, the City Commission considered the amended site plan for Hammon Park related to the addition of Publix.  Here Commissioner Golden declared a conflict due to her employer, the LWCDC.  These are the sections of the approved minutes from the meeting and the form filled out by Commissioner Golden declaring her conflict.  It's important to note that this was second reading on the change to the plan and Commissioner Golden declared a conflict prior to first reading two weeks earlier (September 7) and submitted a form as well.

And, just before this, the City Commission reviewed all leases of city-owned facilities by for-profit and not-for-profit agencies.  As pointed out previously, the LWCDC has not had a current lease with the city for use of the building they are in since Commissioner Golden has been on the City Commission.  No analysis was performed relating to the LWCDC and the city space they occupy in the report (Susan Stanton memo from September 14, 2010.)  Commissioner Golden made the motion to terminate a variety of non-profit leases with the city (page 5 of October 5, 2010 minutes), including the Museum, the Art League, the Credit Union and the Labor Center.  No conflict was declared during these deliberations.

Lake Worth Community Development Corporation Intake Form for NSP funds:

Anatomy of the first CRA takeover attempt - 2008

The big issue at the CRA back in 2007 and early 2008 was the lease that it had related to the Pugh property.  This property, at the southeast corner of 6th Avenue South and F street, was slated for a mixed use development that would include affordable rental housing.  At the February 5, 2008 regular meeting of the City Commission, Vice-Mayor Lowe asked that they not appoint anyone to the CRA for now as she wanted to talk about the possibility of taking over the CRA functions due to her concern about the Pugh project.  Click here for the highlighted minutes from the February 5, 2008 meeting.

Then, a special meeting was called to discuss the CRA on February 13, 2008.  Click here for a highlighted set of minutes.  While Vice Mayor Lowe was still concerned about the Pugh project, she seemed more concerned about whether the Commission had the time and could apply the effort the CRA does.  Towards the end of the meeting, it was Commissioner Golden who made two motions to takeover the CRA, seconded by Commissioner Jennings.  Those motions were eventually replaced by one made by Commissioner Vespo and seconded by Vice Mayor Lowe to have a workshop with the CRA to discuss accountability and the Pugh project.

Here are the minutes from those two workshops.  Click here for the first and click here for the second one.

They agreed to have better communication and they went on with the way things were without any changes in responsibility.

A couple of side notes about researching specific items on the city's website.  It is very laborious!  This is something I do from time to time being a planner researching property history in other communities.  The city of Lake Worth's website is not searchable so you have to guess and poke around based on date and read the agendas first and then the related minutes - on a different page.  This period in 2008 was when the Commission did public comment before the Commission discussion of an item and then you had to comment on them all together under each large heading on the agenda.  Trying to decipher public comment based upon agenda item number - before the item is introduced and  recorded later on in the minutes - is confusing and maddening at the same time.  I guess we don't have to worry about that now since they aren't recording public comment in the minutes anymore.

What I do now is download the WHOLE packet and keep it on my hard drive so that I can search it easier in the future.  That is the only way to deal with this information retrieval issue.

This is transparency?

Mayor Frankel Skydives Over Palm Beach County

This was in celebration of the West Palm Beach waterfront project's one year anniversary. Are we going to have all five members of our City Commission jump out of a plane for the opening of our casino building?

By the way, this comes from the City of West Palm Beach YouTube page - I would look for Lake Worth's page, but I know better.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Placement is everything...

They say there is nothing more important than location, location, location in real estate.  Well, it turns out the same is true as it relates to City Manager reports.  The first page after the cover sheet proclaims that the State of Florida Clearinghouse approved of the release of funds for the infrastructure grant in the Park of Commerce.  This is all done with great fanfare and it appears below.
But that is not the whole story - the above actually doesn't award the Federal money, it just approves its release if the award is made.  

Then, on page 9, in the second paragraph below, we find that the City's EDA application for the Park of Commerce, submitted in December 2010, was deemed "not competitive" and that the City was urged to reapply when "the outstanding issues with regards to the requirements of the grant could be addressed fully."  This is the same grant associated with the "good news" announcement on the second page.
So much for charging ahead with the Park of Commerce.  If you want to read how great things are, especially with phones ringing off the hook with inquiries from businesses and investors, click title for link to Feb. 18 2011 report.

FLORIDA CITY AND COUNTY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION Discussion Paper on Community Redevelopment Agencies in Florida

Click title for an excellent review of Community Redevelopment Agencies and their role in Florida's redevelopment efforts.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lake Worth plan aims to make cycling safer

I removed the video to prevent migraines.
  Sorry if I am making you dizzy  LOL.

Click title for link to PBP article.  Regular readers will know that, as part of a New Year's resolution, I began riding my bike again.  My weekly mileage is somewhere over 50 miles.  I am trying out "MapMyRide" on the web for kicks and giggles.  This one is supposed to be my Flagler Drive, Downtown Lake Worth loop to and from my house.  Click here for link to actual route information.  The above is a flyover of the route and you can see that I strayed "outside the lines" and have some unplanned back and forth action.  I swear that I am not Mary Poppins and flying over roof tops. And I ride a little bit slower than the video LOL.

By the way, the article talks about the CRA-created bike plan - something which makes you wonder if the City Commission were in charge, would something like that ever happen.

Click here for portion of CRA meeting minutes from May 27, 2008...

...when the Lake Worth CDC applied for a $300,000 grant or forgivable loan for the property at 6th Avenue South and E Street.  The property was given to the CDC in 2003 by the city - for free.  Some board members identified the apparent conflict with Commissioner Golden at the time.

This meeting happened before I was appointed to the CRA, but I did make public comment at the meeting. Remember, this was about two months after Commissioner Golden tried to take the CRA over for the first time.  Interestingly, the Chair said that the CDC could come back and re-apply, but would have to provide financials.  The CDC never re-applied.  Hmmm.

Truth is stranger than fiction...

RE-POST from May 2008

Look what appeared on the CRA agenda last night (5/27):

Expect more on this later, but here are the facts:
  • Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden leads the charge for the City Commission to take over the CRA.
  • Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden's reasons for doing so include the need for City Commission budgetary oversight and financial responsibility in CRA dealings.
  • Two months later, the Lake Worth CDC, where Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden is a paid employee and whose title is Project Manager, applies for a $300,000 "grant or forgivable loan" from the CRA.
  • The subject property was given to the Lake Worth CDC by the City in January of 2003.
  • The property is one block to the west and across the street from the Pugh property.
  • The Pugh property was the catalyst for Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden to call for the takeover of the CRA, citing the $15,000 per month option contract on the property among other factors - including the establishment of more rental housing in the area.
  • Commissioner Retha Lowe went on record as wanting only single family homeownership in the area.
  • The reason for the $300,000 grant cited by the Lake Worth CDC was that estimated project costs increased from $761,000 to $1,300,000 since 2003.
  • That is a 71% increase over 5 years - not the 50% as mentioned in the back-up material.
  • The total number of affordable RENTAL housing units proposed is four (4). That amounts to a grant of $75,000 per unit.
  • In comparison, the Pugh property represented 55 affordable rental units and 15,000 square feet of commercial space.
  • Hammon Park was given a grant by the CRA in the amount of $50,000 to support green construction efforts. Spread over its 137 homeowner units, that's an investment of $365.00 per unit.
  • The $300,000, if granted, would have to be transferred from another account since the item was UNBUDGETED.
Thankfully, the CRA turned down the request. But I don't think we have heard the last of this. Notably absent is any outrage expressed on the "other site" - Lake Worth Media. None of the usual attendees of the CRA meetings were there last night to protest.

So, I guess what this means is that if you are a Commissioner that does this group's bidding, then you can carry out grossly mismanaged projects (71% over original estimates) and then ask to have that mismanagement rewarded by applying for, without protest, $300,000 in public money that doesn't have to be repaid.

Or, imagine what would have happened if the City Commission did take over the oversight of the CRA - what would have happened then?

Are you starting to see the inherent conflict this City Commissioner has in her role with the Lake Worth CDC?

We are officially beyond the looking glass...

Click here for link to final version of Commissioner Golden's CRA takeover memo...

There are some changes from the initial version.  It is interesting that the City Manager has stepped back from making a formal recommendation herself.  I would argue that "fresh ideas" are not going to be come from the elected officials on the dais.

The Archaeology of the Miami Circle

The Palm Beach County Archaleological Society
Invites you to Attend a Lecture Entitled:
 The Archaeology of the Miami Circle
Presented By: Robert S. Carr M.S.
Upon its discovery in 1999, the Miami Circle archaeological site captured the world’s attention and brought the people of Miami together in a grass roots movement to protect it which proved to be as  fascinating and compelling as the site itself!  Join PBCAS as we celebrate the dedication of the Miami Circle as a new Florida State Park with a lecture by the site’s co-discoverer, renowned South Florida archaeologist, Robert S. Carr!  
Mr. Carr’s talk will recount the site’s discovery, address its scientific importance and summarize new insights it provided about South Florida's prehistory.  The Circle’s implications for public archaeology and community involvement in historic preservation will also be considered.

 Robert S. Carr  Biography:

Archaeologist Robert S. Carr is the Executive Director of the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy, Inc.  In his 35 years of experience working in South Florida, he has served as Miami-Dade County’s archaeologist and director of its Historic Preservation Division. In addition, he has worked for the National Park Service and the State of Florida. Carr was co-discoverer of the Miami Circle,  and more  recently, directed an extensive archaeological assessment at the Jupiter Lighthouse. He has a Master of Science Degree in Anthropology from Florida State University.

Thursday February 24th at 7PM
West Palm Beach Public Library
411 Clematis Street
West Palm Beach, Fl 33401
For More Info: 561-215-7909