Saturday, June 4, 2011

Message from City Manager re: PBSO

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lake Worth CRA names arts program LULA

The Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency is pleased to announce an important next step in creating an Arts Program. LULA Lake Worth Arts was voted the name for the Arts program formally known as the Cultural Renaissance Program. With the letters LU standing for Lucerne Ave. and LA for Lake Ave., LULA is a perfect fit. Lake Worth is known for its unique downtown and large artistic community. The goal of this program is to support existing local artists, encourage cooperation and build synergy in the arts community. Palm Beach County Cultural Council will be moving to downtown Lake Worth fall 2011.This partnership will add to the concerted effort of the arts community and will create a very unique arts destination. Lake Worth is fortunate in that it is known to be a community with an abundant interest and support for the arts. Through LULA, Lake Worth will soon be the cultural mecca for Palm Beach County.

Lisa Maxwell on the Environment

Just submitted an application for a volunteer board position...

I applied, in order of preference, for the CRA - P&Z and HP boards.  There is still time to fill out an application and submit it by Monday.  You can e-mail it to Pam Lopez, City Clerk - that is the fastest way.  Click title for link to my filled-out application.

NOTICE: Application Deadline for Board Appointments is this Monday - June 6th

Click title for link to application.  I am hearing there are very few applications so far.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

From a loyal reader - "Hydroponic" sign along I-95:

Here is a Photo of 2 wall signs. One at far left and the other to far right.  They are vinyl slapped onto the building, not in any for of structural frame.
The maximum allowable size is 100 sq ft per  code   The signs look to be double that.
I'm sure they don't meet the following 

Labels required. Every sign installed, constructed or maintained for which a permit is required shall be plainly marked with the name of the person, firm or corporation installing and maintaining such sign and shall have affixed on the front thereof the number of the permit issued for said sign by the building official.
Wind pressure. All signs shall be so constructed as to withstand the wind pressures as specified in the current ASCE-7 as referenced in the adopted Standard Building Code.

Many signs in the dixie corridor are simply a vinyl affixed to the building. It seems like that should be nonconforming. Probably violating D above.

Also, window signs often cover way more than 25% of the window. This is especially true with the convenience stores . 

Window signs.
Window signs may co-exist with freestanding signs, pylon signs, wall signs, projecting signs, mansard signs, roof signs, illuminated signssigns painted on buildings, and all other permittedsigns.
No individual window shall have more than twenty-five (25) percent of its total area covered with window signage or product advertisement(s). Window signs shall be added to the total sign area permitted in subsection F. above.
Handwritten or hand-lettered signs affixed to the window shall be prohibited pursuant to section B.
Method of calculation. Window sign(s) shall be computed by straight lines drawn closest to the copy extremities. Each line shall be calculated individually if no border exists and each glass panel shall be calculated separately.

After reading the sign code, I can drive around and literally  find 100's of nonconforming signs.
What do our employees do all day?

Campaign Info...

Official Name for CRA Cultural Renaissance Program:

Website now under construction.

Seeing is believing!


Thank you!  Now, what's next?

Lake Worth man uses 'Bookcycle' for selling his books at beach

Bookcycle article in PBP - neighbor Tim Lunney featured. Click title for link.

Click here for NOAA announcement of Rainy Season

Some highlights:

- West Palm Beach only received 10.45 inches of rain between October 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011. This is 22.64 inches below normal for the period and is the driest October to May period on record for the city, beating the old record of 13.23 inches set back in 1971.

These large and prolonged rainfall deficits have led to a worsening of drought conditions across South Florida, with areas of metro Broward and Palm Beach counties now in a D4, or exceptional, drought status (Figure 2). The rest of South Florida remains in severe to extreme drought conditions. Not only are water and soil moisture levels at extremely low levels, but the fire danger remains very high over most of the southern Florida peninsula.

Although La Niña conditions are expected to dissipate in June, the precipitation outlook for South Florida for June is for near normal conditions. While near normal rainfall in June would begin to alleviate the very dry conditions across the region, it would likely not be enough to totally eliminate the drought across South Florida. Therefore, drought conditions and increased fire danger are likely to linger over the area through June and perhaps into July. A return to significantly increased rainfall, probably to above normal levels, is not expected until beyond July. As a result, heeding the advice of water conservation officials is strongly recommended, as well as burn bans issued by forestry officials due to the very dry ground conditions.

Lisa Maxwell on PBSO

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2011 Candidates' Debate | Special Election

Dear Lake Worth Bloggers,

Below is the flyer for the Candidates' Debate being held for the upcoming special election.  Please assist the NAPC is getting the word out to all Lake Worth voters about this debate and the subsequent election. Citizens may also go to to submit questions they would like asked of candidates during this event.  Thank you for helping to get the word out!  I look forward to seeing some great questions submitted by each of you.  Thanks again and have a great day!

College Park neighbors work to improve Spillway Park

Good College Park and Lake Worth news - regarding Spillway Park. Commissioner Golden gets a gratuitous quote. Click title for link.

Four set to run in June 28 special election for Lake Worth mayor

This is the PBP's summary of the Mayoral field - click title for link. Fun to read the comments.
Rachel Waterman

You betcha ol' Blue Eyes...

Commissioner Maxwell following up with City Manager re PBSO

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Contact me for KEEP PBSO yard signs.

Welcome to Lake Worth - corner of Columbia Drive and Dixie Hwy.

From the City's Code of Ordinances - Zoning 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).

The June 28th Mayoral Election Candidates:

javier del sol

Lisa Maxwell

Tom Ramiccio

Rachel Waterman

Day 1 by Lisa Maxwell:

Get this...

I heard this weekend of something that goes on at Spillway Park to exterminate pigeons.  It seems that on a regular basis, someone comes out in a van that has a sign something like "Pigeons and Possums."  They get out a 4 x 6 wooden frame, about a foot or so high that has a screen on one side of it.  They spread feed on the ground, place the frame over the feed and prop it up with a stick.  They wait as the pigeons flock to get to the feed and then they kick the stick out from under the frame.  This catches the pigeons.  Somehow they bag the birds.  A friend of mine asked what they do with them and he said that they kill them with chloroform. He didn't say exactly who he worked for, but it seemed to be done to prevent corrosion on the flood control structure there caused by pigeon guano. 

Has anyone seen this or heard about this technique?  The guy doing it thought the whole thing was dubious as there seemed to be a never ending supply of pigeons.

Lake Worth improvement cause for optimism

Willie - why don't you just move right into City Hall? I am sure Susan and Suzanne will find a cozy office for you, right near the press release printer to make your job easier. When things are slow, you can make campaign flyers for the incumbents. And there is no debate about the sheriff's contract since the City Commission and Administration have done all they can to squelch public comment. Actually, office space may be tight in city hall since the Inspector General will be moving in this summer. If you need saccharine for your coffee, click title for link. Sheesh!

It is nice to see three CRA achievements listed, however credit is only directly given for the NSP2 grant. Publix downtown and the Palm Beach County Cultural Council are also CRA driven.  Palm Beach County deserves credit for Snook Islands and related improvements.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review of our local torture chamber aka: Lake Worth Utilities Customer Service

Click title for link - the following post appears on and carries a date of 5/27/11:

"Your tax dollars at work!

Or maybe NOT at work. Much has been said about the inferior customer service provided by this public utility but recently I had the misfortune of experiencing it for myself.

Their office is located in downtown Lake Worth off Lake Avenue inside a historical building that I think may have once housed City Hall. First I went inside a room where the cashier's office was located where I could hear people (presumably city employees) behind a door cursing at the top of their lungs and telling crude off-color sexual jokes. Thought to myself, "WOW, wonder what else they do all day."

Waited in line here for about 45 minutes only to be directed to another sad-looking waiting area with cheap fold-up chairs and several people seated who looked like their patience was wearing thin. Lady at the desk growled at me to put my name on the clipboard and said they'd call me. Waited another 45 minutes while the woman at the desk and another large woman yelled out names. Both women were extremely rude to customers and appeared to be perplexed at even the most basic questions posed to them after which they would usually either lecture or scream at the customer. Eating and slurping down soft drinks while waiting on the public also appears to be in the Lake Worth Utilities SOP as this also was taking place.

Woman at the desk finally called my name but couldn't resolve my problem so she had to summon a supervisor. This took an additional fifteen minutes after which I received a stern lecture on how I must not have paid my bills and that's why my charges were so high. Finally lost it and told her to actually read the billing statement after which she discovered the error and said she'd look into it. Waited another twenty minutes and then was told I MIGHT be receiving an amended statement in the next week. With that, she briskly walked across the hall and slammed the door. No apologies. No real resolution to my problem. Just a door slam.

Wasted about two hours waiting in this pathetic dump only to be treated like garbage. This utility charges considerably more than FPL for juice and delivers a far worse product and piss-poor customer service. Not an indictment on ALL City of Lake Worth employees, just on the utilities department which seems to be run by a team of clueless morons. And don't bother calling them to try and get your problem resolved as you'll be on hold endlessly (I waited 40 minutes before I finally gave up). Really feel bad for the other people who have no choice in who provides their electric service. As for me, this experience alone was enough to get me to move out of their service area."

Breaking News: Cary Sabol is not Running in Mayoral Special Election

Lao Tzu

"Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm and strong. So it is with all things... Firmness and strength are the concomitants of death; softness and weakness, the concomitants of life. Hence he who relies on his own strength shall not conquer."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Apples to Apples or Apples to Pomegranates?

As the City Commission discussed the Willdan report on police services in Lake Worth, one of the topics that emerged were other Palm Beach County communities that had contracted with sheriff. Wellington and Royal Palm Beach came up as ones that could be compared with Lake Worth.  It was also pointed out that their PBSO contracts were for amounts less than Lake Worth.  Now we are hearing that this is going to be one of the bargaining points. 

This is an update sent out by Vice Mayor Mulvehill after the meeting on the Willdan report:
Well, let me help "staff" in their investigation of why Lake Worth is paying nearly double the amount in comparison to Wellington and Royal Palm Beach.  Let's review what the Children Services Council says about the City of Lake Worth, generally represented by the 33460 zip code.
Here is a breakdown by zip code of the concentrations of "at risk" factors affecting children in Palm Beach County.
Royal Palm Beach has three of the indicators that have been shown to contribute to children being "at risk." Wellington has none.  LAKE WORTH HAS 15 OF THE 17 INDICATORS. For a copy of the full report from the Children's Services Council click here.  (This report should be familiar as it was referred to in the City Manager's letter on the city's financial urgency declared in her FY2011 Budget letter.)  Many of these statistics are based upon 2000 Census data, so conditions are probably worse, not better, now.  I point these findings out since they indicate families under social and economic stress, which I believe has a positive correlation with an overall higher rate of crime.

At the seminar I attended on Planning Challenges of the 21st Century, we had a presentation by the village of Wellington's planning staff.  They kept referring to how their "village" was part of the "Sun Belt" economy - have you ever heard that phrase used in or applied to Lake Worth ever? Did you know that Wellington ranked 72nd out of the top 100 small to medium sized communities to live in as concluded by Money Magazine?  There were only two other communities in Florida that made the list - Coconut Creek and Coral Springs - both ranking in the 40s.  Click here to see the rest of their list.  I am pointing this out not because I think Wellington is great, to the contrary, but I do it to point out the profound difference in circumstances between Lake Worth and Wellington.

Wellington, as a municipality, is 15 years old and is the second newest of the 38 cities in Palm Beach County.  PBSO provided service there as part of greater Palm Beach County until Wellington went off on its own.  This is their police budget through the sheriff's office for FY2011.  It is built in a low-density suburban residential layout.  Many residential communities are gated, some having their own security. As of the 2010 Census, they had a population of 56,808 and a median household income of $80,283.  That's nearly one and a half times Lake Worth's population, but around three times Lake Worth's median income.  Their median income is above the Palm Beach County average; ours is significantly below.  Over 50% of their population over the age of 25 has a college degree.  I think we can agree that an inverse relationship between crime and income/education exists, generally speaking.  

That is, unless you consider people in Wellington to be "economic criminals" - the term used by javier del sol at the City Commission meeting on the Willdan report.  He thought that the economic criminals, in Lake Worth, lived in College Park or by the water.  I'm not too sure about the civility of that statement, but he was allowed to say it.  So far, javier has referred to me in a collective sense as a "Pilgrim" and an "economic criminal" - both of which were done during a public meeting.

Interestingly, Wellington nearly doubled their planning department's - what they refer to as "Strategic Planning and Economic Development" - budget for FY2011 to just shy of $1 million.  They're focusing on job creation, diversification of their predominately residential tax base and working on the creation of a Medical Arts district around their two regional hospitals.  This last effort is not targeting bio-tech ventures, but labs and support services related to the medical care industry.

I would be hard pressed to find two communities as close to each other geographically (the Principality of Palm Beach being an exception) that are more different - Wellington and Lake Worth.  Apparently the sheriff's office agrees.

Royal Palm Beach you could refer to as Wellington's poorer, smaller neighbor.  Here is their general fund budget for FY2011 which includes a line item for police services (PBSO).  It's about a million less than Wellington's.  Like its neighbor, all of Royal Palm Beach is laid out in a low-density suburban pattern.  If you look at the Children Services Council risk factors, it has a total of three.  Lake Worth has the most of any municipality in Palm Beach County with fifteen.

When I was on the CRA, there was a certain faction - the one that supports the current majority on the dais - that continually wanted to target those very low income households and attract them to Lake Worth.  I would argue that would only make matters worse as we already have a high concentration and we have difficulty addressing their existing needs.  One of those needs would be increased demands on the public safety infrastructure.  We are seeing that as well related to EMS calls - those without health insurance tend to utilities EMS as an entry to the healthcare system as routine doctors' visits are few and far between - tending treatable diseases only gets attention when the need is immediate or an emergency situation.

So we are considering another burden on the city to defend itself against crime and we are heading in a direction that will create more a demand for police services.  Remember this on your way to the polls, please. 

Government secrecy in Florida is out of hand - St. Petersburg Times

Op-ed piece on open government - click title for link. In the latest filing by Greater Bay in their lawsuit against the city, they complained to the judge about the fact that the city produced documents that contain redactions. Yes, that is right, a municipal government in the state of Florida that is subject to the open records law submitted documents in a legal proceeding with sections "marked out." If I were the judge, I'd tell the city's attorneys to read up on the Sunshine Law and provide intact documents - which I believe is what was done. Now, don't you think those items that we previously hidden would be red flags to the plaintiff? Of course!

Is this evidence of Stanton's heavy hand or just bad lawyering, or both? Where was the Palm Beach Post on this?  I guess the topic wasn't discussed during a kayak trip. Like the article says, any equivocation on whether something is public information is a sure sign of bad government - one that is not working for the people they serve or one that sees the citizen as the enemy. If the shoe fits, get a new foot.

In honor of Memorial Day...