Friday, May 27, 2011

The Top 10 Beaches for 2011

What would it take for the Lake Worth Beach to make this list?  And those who say it is the current project do not understand that we are getting darker asphalt in the parking lot and a recreation of a building that never was...and some out buildings.  It is essentially a cleaned-up version of what is there now.

1.  Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida
2.  Coronado Beach in San Diego, California
3.  Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
4.  Main Beach in East Hampton, New York
5.  Cape Hatteras in the Outer Banks of North Carolina 6.  St. George Island State Park, Florida panhandle
7.  Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina 8.  Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts
9.  Waimanalo Bay Beach Park on Oahu, Hawaii
10. Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, Florida

Click title for a link to the whole survey/opinion.

The end of an era at John G's

"While Yarbrough isn’t ruling out a return to her old spot after casino renovations are completed, she’s not sure she and her brothers can afford what is likely to be higher rent "unless Lake Worth throws in some incentive to come back," she said."

Click title for link.

Lake Worth to study reestablishing its own fire department

Click title for link for PBP article.

Click here for list of Governor Scott's Budget Vetoes - 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Legislative Update

The Governor signed the budget this afternoon and also released the Veto List.

Below is a recap for the funding of our programs:

Historic Preservation Grants $900,000** ($500,000 for small matching and $400,000 in proviso)
**A portion of the funds in Specific Appropriation 2924 shall be allocated as follows:
Vetoed: Historic Hampton House -- $100,000
Government House Interpretive Film and Exhibit -- $200,000
Government House Museum Renovations -- $200,000
Vetoed: Town of Eatonville Historic Preservation -- $100,000

Cultural and Museum Grants $2,000,000
Vetoed: From the funds in Specific Appropriation 2973B, $100,000 shall be used for the Junior Museum of Bay county, and $50,000 shall be used for the Jones High School Historical Society Museum in Orlando.
Culture Builds Florida $500,000

As soon as the funding recommendations are released by DHR and DCA - I will forward those lists to you.

Thanks for ALL of your advocacy efforts - a united voice really does have an impact!

Malinda Horton
Legislative Consultant

If there is a nice thing about being in the City Commission chambers...

it is that they now are providing public wifi Internet access.

E-mail to Commission and Staff re Building Heights

Special City Commission Meeting Today (5/26) - 1 p.m. -

I plan on attending this afternoon and will attempt to keep you posted in real time.  Click title for access to complete back-up.

First thing, the agenda of the meeting was amended and an item to "Increase the Allowable Heights in the Park of Commerce" was put on the agenda as Item A.  Maxwell made the motion and it passed before Commissioner McVoy showed up.  Public comment was allowed but everyone stayed seated.  My only comment was that I was in favor of it, but other areas of the city need to be examined as well.  Stanton was directed to come back to the City Commission later on.  The question one has to ask is why now?  And it has always been represented to the public that the 35 foot height limitation did not apply to the Park of Commerce.  So, the truth comes out.

Steve Carr is giving a presentation on the 2nd Quarter budget projection.
This is the overall picture.  McVoy is asking if there is a standard by which cities are graded if they are within a certain range of their budget projections.  Carr says that the recommended reserves are 10 to 15 percent - as a standard and that we are far away from that.  Mulvehill comments about the special election - the cost is $22,500 according to Pam Lopez - the run-off would be an equal amount.  She thinks it's great that Finance is able to provide projections.  Maxwell is asking if Fry, the OMB Director, is going to be here to day.  He is not.

Maxwell - double digit variances are not close by each line item.  This second quarter forecast is a year total number not just a three month or a six month number. He is asking about the City Attorney's line item.

The cost of outside attorneys is in that line item.  He is now asking about the $15.4 million line item for the "Police" and is concerned that it reflects an amount higher than the contract.  Part of the reason is due to a supplemental payment that will be expiring in the next two years.  He says that he has never talked to the City Manager about this.  Carr says that the pension obligation (basis for the supplemental payment) relates to fire rescue and not PBSO. After all is said and done that the amount of that is $1.544 million obligation this year and it is going up next year.  These are old pension obligations.  There are $177,000 on the utilities in the building they are using as well - and $43,000 for maintenance.  McVoy is talking about a botany term "Splitters and Lumpers."

The auditors just got here (1:40 p.m.) - they are still discussing the 2nd quarter projection. 

Maxwell is now asking about fire rescue now - the city has only made two supplemental payments and needs to make four.  Carr says that they determined that they didn't have all the money, only half.  There is money in the hurricane fund that it is not reflected here.  Maxwell is commenting on layoffs - he is saying that the budget was adopted with the understanding that it was adopted without requiring layoffs - but there were.  He is asking could the city have budgeted for that as of October 1, 2010 and could we have waited until 2012?  Carr says yes, but you would have had to pay them through the entire period of this year.  He is having a problem with the Commission saying that layoffs would not be needed - Stanton says that at that time, she said that there would have to be adjustments in 60 days - meaning cuts in the labor cuts.  Maxwell insists that we do not have a balanced budget - Stanton says that is factually incorrect.  Maxwell says that we had a document that added up, but it was not balance.  Stanton got a little hot about that.  She says that we had $840,000 in the positive - even better than balanced.  She says that we are acting today to address a predicted shortfall in FY 2012.  She says to address the charges of a "flawed" budget to the auditor and see what they said.  Mulvehill asks to go on with the agenda and get off the topic.  

Building permit fund - it's doing better than it is since the city is paying permit fees for the beach project (which is one pocket from another.) 

I'm back - they are on the donations item.  Maxwell is asking if any of the "special events" funding for fireworks for this year since up until now it has been assumed we wouldn't be funding them.  Joe Kroll says that it is too late for this year already, but we could plan for next year.  McVoy asks if we could push.  Maxwell says that "There isn't try, only do."

On the golf course, it still is not making money and there is a multi-year plan coming forward in the next six weeks.  McVoy made a point about environmental programs lacking and that we need to - the golf course folks said that they have joined the Audubon.  Mulvehill actually mentioned my name as it relates to the idea about expanding the walk along the Intracoastal further to the north - from several years ago. 

They are finishing up comments on the second quarter projections (3:15 p.m.) - I took notes on the document that I will make later, time permitting.

Now is the audit presentation - and they are just being passed out now to the Commission.  They are referring to a PowerPoint presentation - they are late due to a power outage and they don't have facilities in Lake Worth. They are pointing out the following is an accomplishment.
They issued it with an unqualified opinion. It was overall a glowing report that the bobble heads seemed to like.  It is available on CD and I will pick up a copy - you can too.  Apparently, it will be available at City Hall and at the Library.  Maxwell makes an issue of the lateness of the report and that it was delivered today, not in advance of the meeting.  He is saying that the report is inconclusive, but they are saying that there is improvement.  He is asking how much improved is the question.  There is a deadline of May 31st that you must adhere to in order to get a certificate.  The federal OMB deadline, since the city receives federal money, is June 30th.  McVoy is making the point that we do not need an internal auditor - we don't need an auditor auditing an auditor.  Maxwell is making a point that they haven't had time to review and if it is just so that the city can get an award is a bad precedent.  He says that we are talking not about style, but substance.  He can physically accept it, but has a problem with accepting the content without the time to review it.  Carr is saying that the audit was essentially done on March 31st but they needed to address some of the fixed asset issues identified in previous years.  They were able to address more items than they otherwise would have.  Accountants don't fly by the seat of their pants, according to Commissioner McVoy.  Maxwell will be voting against this today.

Carr is going over the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and a Citizen's version, which is condensed and easier to understand. 

McVoy pointed out something, which is really very obvious, that the city benefits from all the cash that is generated from the utility.  Carr responds that if someone else owned our electric utility, we would get increased revenue from property taxes on assets of that utility and we could still levy a franchise tax - which would increase revenues from those sources.  But we would be giving control away and that would be a bad thing - besides having the ability to move things around.  Mary Lindsey points out that this Citizen's report was not available at the joint meeting between the FAB and City Commission and it's available today - she wonders how this Commission expects to have the trust of the citizens without this sort of information.  Stanton says they work like dogs around here.
Break time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Welcome to Lake Worth!

Hearing wild reports from the source about what happened at the Joint FAB/City Commission meeting....

A person that has been in a neck brace for three months ejected from the meeting - escorted out.  I will be at the meeting tomorrow where they can actually take action - even if they did tonight, they couldn't...but when did that stop them.  These are dark times.  Darker than ever...the following is an account:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Legislative Session Overview

This is generally targeted towards urban planners, but may be of interest to others.  If anyone is interested in going, contact me and we can share a ride.

Click here to listen to the challenges of blogging in Cuba...

Ms. Sanchez says that if she could tell Raul Castro one thing, it would be to allow free expression of ideas in Cuba.  She said that would change everything.  Perhaps we can do more to allow alternative points of view here in Lake Worth too - maybe that is at the root of our problems.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Dee is at it again - click title for link.  She loves that CAPS lock key!  It sounds like Laurence is a two minute wonder.


Two questions this morning...

This is not a quiz, as I don't know the answers:
  1. I have heard that a bomb threat was called into the main switchboard during the City Commission meeting last Wednesday.  Does anyone know anything about this or is it just a rumor?
  2. Who are the "Dirty Dozen?"

Mar-a-Lago and Marjorie Merriweather Post

While checking out YouTube, I did a search for Marjorie Merriweather Post and found these two videos that may be of interest to y'all.  I was fortunate to work at Mar-a-Lago for ten years as the Mar-a-Lago Club's Director of Projects.  Marjorie Post when married to E. F. Hutton in the 1920s worked with architects Joseph Urban and Marion Simms Wyeth to create the famous estate on eighteen ocean-to-lake acres.  In the fly over, you can see some of the many projects in which I was involved including the tennis court complex, the beach pool and cabanas and the approval of the ballroom location and design.  You will have to click here to see the video since embedding has been disabled.

Mrs. Post also owned Hillwood, her Washington, D.C. residence, which has since become the Hillwood Museum and Gardens.  I gave a talk there two years ago about Palm Beach in the 1920s.  The museum serves as a home for her collection of Russian and French decorative arts.  It is considered a private museum but tours are available by appointment if you call ahead.  It's located in the northwestern part of the city and its position at the edge of Rock Creek Park gives the sensation that the estate has much more land associated with it than it actually does.  This video is about a flagpole found on the property that evokes images of the Sea Cloud, Mrs. Post's sailing yacht, that was built about the same time as Mar-a-Lago.  Enjoy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's not about the money; it's about control...

Between the Lake Worth Area Cop Watch and City Manager Susan Stanton's desire for her own police chief, we have the perfect storm behind the Willdan report which recommended the formation of a new Lake Worth Police Department.  This is true despite the desperate back-peddling we witnessed before Wednesday night's City Commission work session - suddenly everyone on the dais was in love with the sheriff and, supposedly, it was all about the money.

Well, it is all about revenge, power and control - not money.  The facts show that the last year budget of the Lake Worth Police Department was higher than any year for police services under PBSO.  Forgotten too is that the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment agency was also contributing $250,000 a year for police overtime - something that turned out to be money down the rat hole at the time, but turned out to be a real savings to the agency since there was no need for such a contribution under PBSO.  Also, the sheriff has never exercised the 7% annual budget increases in the cost of the contract.  So one has to wonder how genuine these negotiations between the sheriff and city manager are actually going to be.  I recall Vice Mayor Mulvehill making the statement that when the city manager approached the sheriff soon after she was hired about re-negotiating the LESA with PBSO, Stanton was told by the sheriff to go ahead and start your own police department.  What she didn't say was how and what was said by Stanton that elicited that response.  I was told that she basically said that if we didn't have a police force, the sheriff is constitutionally obligated to provide law enforcement services in the city.  This is the same argument that appears in the Willdan report.  At Wednesday's meeting, in response to Commissioner Maxwell's questions, we find out the the city manager called the sheriff maybe four or five times about the contract since January and never had a face-to-face meeting.  If Stanton felt so strongly about keeping the sheriff, like she she represented at the press conference, wouldn't you think there would be  more discussions than had actually taken place?  The reason is that this is not seen as the preferred option - from the get-go.

Now we find out that the City Commission will likely NOT meet again on the topic until after the negotiations are over.  That means we will likely have an emergency, must-act-now City Commission meeting with minutes to spare giving the sheriff notice of our intentions.  Even ignoring Stanton's preference for her own police department and the grudge held by those that are the power behind the throne, what has the city negotiated under this city manager that resulted in a positive outcome for the city?

This is why Commissioner Maxwell is asking for "real time" updates of when the negotiations are taking place:
No surprise then either that Karri Casper, Bob Lepa and I are facing reluctance about allowing us to present the community input gathered the "Voice in the Choice" meeting.
And Ms. Stanton didn't understand the reason for the public meeting before the presentation of the report.  It was done in place of the community meeting that should have been a part of the report.  Also we, who organized the public meeting, were very clear that a decision would not be made at last Wednesday's City Commission meeting.  Representations otherwise are part of the myths created by those that want to make the premise of this meeting to be seen as unreasonable.

By pushing the need for a formal presentation at the Commission meeting on June 7th, we are attempting to elevate the importance the City Commission and Administration give to public comment.  They think they know what the public thinks without hearing from the public.  It's like some advanced intelligence is conferred on a person by winning an election here.  We know that is not the case.  And there were many suggestions for raising revenue and reducing costs made at the "Voice in the Choice" meeting that need a public airing - it may even help in the city's negotiations with PBSO.

But only if we really aren't going to seriously negotiate...let's say there is ample reason for skepticism.

It would help if you e-mail all the City Commissioners and the City Manager and tell them that you want a presentation by the "Voice in the Choice" meeting moderators to be placed on the June 7th City Commission meeting.

Evidence of City Manager Stanton's Real Opinion about her own Lake Worth Police Department...

These e-mails were gathered during the period when the Cottage's noise issue blew up at the City Commission.  In these she talks about what "her" police chief would do and seems to think that the sheriff has nothing better to do than to prepare a spreadsheet for Commissioner McVoy who we learn "drinks data like coffee."

Stanton to Silva: "I promise not to say "I told you" least for a while."