Saturday, June 18, 2011

More thoughts on the appointment process...

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the Community Development Department that I had indeed been appointed to the Historic Resource Preservation Board (HRPB).  The next meeting is scheduled for July 13th and there will be items on the agenda.  The agenda is not out yet.

First of all, I really do appreciate being appointed to a board where I can use my experience and knowledge to benefit the city in a direct way.  You should also remember, though, that I applied to three boards - the CRA, P&Z and HRPB - in order of preference.  I am generally satisfied with the appointments made to the CRA as it appears that they are people that have a material interest - property/business owners - in the CRA district.  I have never seen that as a conflict, as long as there is a balance on the board and it is therefore not an overwhelming influence.  Regardless, everyone is still subject to Florida law related to the declaration of a conflict of interest if one exists - or appears to exist.  I think that the Inspector General will do a good job at policing that.

The peculiar result from the City Commission board appointment meeting is that they did not appoint anyone to the Planning and Zoning Board and are going back "to the well" to achieve some sort of diversity they didn't think was present in the current crop of applicants.  I have said many times here that one of the most important considerations in appointments to the P&Z is geographic diversity.  In the course of the board's work, you are dealing with actual physical situations and conditions throughout the city.  Sometimes, in order to make a good decision on a given application, you need more than a "drive-by" in the week before the meeting - you need to know what it really is like living in a certain location on a day-in and day-out basis.  That was one of the weaknesses of the board while I was on it - we had heavy representation from College Park, the downtown and South Palm Park/Lakeside, but no representation from west of Dixie Hwy.  That was a flaw in the recruitment and appointment process, which led to sometimes difficult to defend decisions - like the Sunset property.  I maintain that if the board had representation from that area of the city, our eventual decision would have reflected that input and may well have resulted in a different outcome.  We will never know.

I believe, at this point in time, the Planning and Zoning Board is at the most critical juncture of any of the boards.  It also has the fewest people that have a background in urban planning or zoning - especially since Ms. Fitzhugh did not re-apply (she is a planner for Palm Beach County.)  Right now, we have a largely unworkable situation where we have major inconsistencies between the city's Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code (aka: land development regulations -LDRs.)  Most people with businesses and/or serious money to invest are not going to look at Lake Worth simply because they are not sure of the regulatory environment.  Investors and businesses are willing to go along with many things - exactions, conditions, height limitations - if they know what they are going to be at the start and if they know that a timely, predictable outcome is likely.  Right now, Lake Worth cannot give those assurances with a straight face.

The city has been in an interminable process of re-writing it's LDRs for the past FIVE YEARS!  I last was on P&Z in December 2006.  Throughout most of 2006, we were meeting every week - one week to deal with development applications and the other to address Comp Plan and LDR issues.  Through a half a dozen Planning Directors since that time, little has been accomplished.  It seems like the most important issue of the current board is that they want a strike-through and underlined version of the LDRs so they can see what was and what changed.  The concept had been to have a complete re-working of the code so that it was more user-friendly - with large sections added, removed and altered - which does not lend itself to a neat presentation.  However, each member of the planning board should be able to assess what is put before them as part of a clean slate.  The first official edition is not going to be a perfect document - it is a starting point upon which future amendments will be made as weaknesses are identified and conditions and opinions change in the city.  I don't think the current board has an appreciation for that.

During my interview with the City Commission, I stressed my experience creating, writing and reviewing code language - it's in large part how I make my living.  I got a real sense from Commissioners Golden, McVoy and Vice-Mayor Mulvehill that their minds were made up that I should be placed on the HRPB - all three asked questions exclusively about that board and what I could do for it.  Now, I don't know how all of them independently came to that decision, but it was apparent they had.  Eh hem.

The HRPB is a relatively new, independent board that used to be part of P&Z.  This was done so that the HRPB could be a "watchdog" over the Planning and Zoning Board - which was thought to be more about development.  I always thought that was a false distinction, but it is what it is.  When the new board was created, the number of regular voting members was reduced to five, with two alternates.  An alternate only votes when one of the regular members is absent and is subject to re-appointment every year - not a three year term like the full-voting members.  So, in a way, you can look on my appointment as sort of a "probationary" one.  It is also interesting to note that, in order to maintain the board's certified local government (CLG) status, it has to have a requisite representation from a number of professions - including urban planners.  Being a certified urban planner means that I fit the bill and help the city maintain its CLG status with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO).  It is also a way to "keep me on the farm" and dissuade me from making another attempt at a run for elected office - since you have to resign from an appointed board at the time you file to run.  It's also a little ironic since some of the negative campaigning about me from this group concerned the number of demolitions that we done under my watch when I was on the board.

That being said, I hope it was more than that and it was a way of the group in power to acknowledge that we have people on the city that should be part of the official process, even if we end up on different sides of issues often in our current political situation.  And, it bears repeating, that I am grateful to be appointed to a board - even though it was my third choice and think that the better place for me would be on P&Z.  They didn't happen to think so.

Lisa Maxwell on Experience and a City in Crisis...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Still waiting for confirmation...

But I understand that I was appointed to the Historic Preservation Board...a safe choice for our elected leaders.  I did not hear what took place after I was interviewed, but it seems like they are going out again for Planning and Zoning Board positions.  I'll let you know more when I know more.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Deconstructing the Debate...

These are some still pictures I took before the debate started.  There weren't as many people out in front of the Playhouse last night as in previous years.  Almost all that were happened to be Lisa Maxwell supporters, some for Tom Ramiccio and a few for Rachel Waterman. 

Once inside and after dispensing with the preliminaries, John Bachman of WPEC TV-12 news was introduced with great fanfare and we were told that he was going to make sure things ran according to plan and that fairness would prevail.

That introduction probably tempted the fates...Mr. Bachman got things off on the wrong foot by skipping candidate introductions and went right to the questions.  The first question concerned reaction to the City Commission aborted attempt at the takeover of the CRA's responsibilities.  Ramiccio drew the first straw so he was up first, briefly introduced himself and then answered the question.  Then Bachman, realizing his error, then went to Waterman and had her give her introductory statement and then the other candidates took their turn.  When it came back to Ramiccio, Bachman said that he could repeat the answer he gave to the previous question - but he hadn't been given the opportunity to give his introduction.  This got the whole affair out of balance to begin with, but the process seemed to recover after a while.  Del Sol kept making an issue about his mic being slow to come on and pointing his finger at the people in the sound booth.

You can see that I was able to get video of some of the debate.  Unfortunately, I only brought my 1 gig card with me, so the clips are mostly of the early parts of the action.  The whole thing went until almost 9 p.m.  The place was full as I remember for such events.  The crowd noise seemed to favor Maxwell, with Waterman's crowd a close second.  Cheers for Del Sol seemed to come from the same people that supported Waterman.

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are things that I think stood out about each candidate last night.

  • Ramiccio - You couldn't have left the theater last night not knowing that Tom had been Mayor in Lake Worth through the "good times."  I picked this up on the one of the video clips, but it was funny when he was referring to the divisiveness in the community that he declared he would be a good go-between for the town's two factions as he wasn't supported by either of them.  Who does that leave Tom?  Much laughter about that one.  He and Waterman had the most sparks between each other.  It was also funny when Tom said something to the effect that "these are good candidates - well, most of them..."  During his closing remarks, he threw down an unidentified, rather thick document and said that he "stands on his accomplishments" - at which point he stood on the document.  Then, acting out how the city could go either way in this election, he preceded to walk across the front of the stage like it was a tight-rope.  While at Publix today, I bumped into someone who had been to the debate and she reminded me that Rodney Romano had done the same act back in 1992.  Oh my.  Anyway, I thought he came across as authoritative and someone who had been there before, and it showed.  That doesn't mean people are going to be voting for him, however.
  • Waterman - She came across confident and sure of herself - almost too much so at times.  Her "Thank you" at the end of each response came across in a "So there" tone.  If there is a next time, someone should challenge her about being fluent in three languages - it is one thing to say you are and another to actually be.  Fluency applies to reading, comprehension and speaking - if she is, she should demonstrate each.  Tom got on her about relying on notes and she snapped back "Don't hate me for being prepared."  But, it did beg the question whose notes those were and who helped prepare her.  She didn't mention "anarchist" when asked about an association with anarchist and/or anti-government groups and no one called her on that.  She got it wrong when she said that the city was polarized on the sheriff issue - IT WASN'T THE CITY THAT WAS POLARIZED - IT WAS THAT THE COMMISSION - your supporters, by and large - WAS AT ODDS WITH OVERWHELMING PUBLIC OPINION IN FAVOR OF PBSO.  She also tried to split the baby regarding having chickens in the city, suggesting that they could be allowed in the Park of Commerce - which Maxwell capitalized upon.  While she talked a lot about commitment, it was odd that she said she hasn't decided on whether or not she will run in November - which makes the imagination run wild about who could run in her place.  I have left two messages with her requesting a meeting and haven't heard back yet, I will keep you posted.
  • Del Sol - If I hear "I've been here for 34 years" one more time, it will be too soon.  According to Javier, white males shouldn't be allowed to enjoy the golf course to the exclusion of children and those of color.  He readily admitted not knowing everything there is to know about running a city and that he would rely on staff and consultants to explain it to him.  Hmmm.  He also proved his humility by comparing himself to Ghandi - please.  
  • Maxwell - Exuded a calm competence.  I think it would have served her well to use all of her two minutes of introduction - it ended up being just one minute.  She got some good digs on the chicken issue and made the point that the City Commission should focus on real problems and not superfluous, feel-good issues.  She also had the last word on the Casino Building - she basically said that we need someone there with experience in securing financing and that much has been overlooked in the planning for the project.  No one followed up or had anything else to say about the project.  She made a point, directed at Rachel, that to be Mayor doesn't require many degrees.  It's your experience that is important in dealing with private and public organizations.
Those that went can continue to add comments below.

Click here for complete list of questions put forth by the Neighborhood Association Presidents' Council.

These were asked during last night's special election debate at the Playhouse.

Playhouse Debate - Candidates ask each other questions...(this is good!)

Lake Worth commissioners to interview volunteers for city boards

Click title for link to PBP article. The fun begins tonight! My horoscope for today: "It's time to boldly go where you've never gone before without worrying for one second that you shouldn't. You'll be welcomed with open arms wherever you end up. That's a guarantee."

Playhouse Debate - javier del sol's Opening Statement

Playhouse Debate - Rachel Waterman's Opening Statement

Playhouse Debate - Lisa Maxwell's Opening Statement

Playhouse Debate - Tom Ramiccio's Opening Statement

Playhouse Debate - "Do you plan on running in November?"

Interesting that Ms. Waterman thinks that this special election is a lot of work for four months. For all the talk of commitment to the community later in the debate, it is odd that she is not sure about running in November.

Playhouse Debate - The Anarchist Question...

Day 16 The Debate, Lisa Maxwell for Lake Worth Mayor

Much more coming...

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Since the "Other Blogger" continues to carry out the negative campaigning task for Rachel Waterman...

Click here for a link to the legal documents left in Rachel Waterman's wake - from various locations around Florida.  It seems that Rachel has moved around a lot during a short period of time.  Didn't we just have a Mayor that didn't finish his term and moved out of town?  Do we really want to run the risk of repeating the same pattern?  Other than for an opportunistic group of friends that need to put a puppet in the center chair, how much of a commitment does Rachel have to our community?

Rachel is welcome to meet with me anytime.  So far, no attempt has been made.  Perhaps the other blogger can help with the arrangements.

Don't forget - Tonight's Debate at the Lake Worth Playhouse - 7 p.m.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It turns out that the City of Lauderdale Lakes...

The city in Broward County that is asking for a bailout from the County won an award for their budgetary accounting...not unlike the one that the City of Lake Worth was presented at the last City Commission meeting.  Lauderdale Lakes is being accused of not being forthcoming with its actual financial condition over the years, leading to the current City Commission throwing a past City Manager under the bus.  See previous post.

It seems, then, that the winning of this "award" has little to do with sound fiscal and financial management practices.  It was clear that at our City Commission meeting this was being treated as some sort of vindication for the current administration.

Happy Birthday Lake Worth - June 14th, 1913!

Click title for link to the Historic Palm Beach County webpage - where you can read about the city's first four years in a 1917 Miami Metropolis article.  June 14th is Flag Day and has other significance that I will share with you.

Perhaps you could tell this by my dogs' names, but I have an interest in astrology.  People, and organizations, born on this day fall within the sun sign of Gemini.  There are lots of things that go into an individual astrological chart - the placement of planets, different houses, angles between the planets and houses, etc.  I have never looked at the City of Lake Worth's chart, but I just may do that now.  It would be a cool thing to do in light of our coming centennial year.

Gemini is famous for being a "twin" constellation in the zodiac.  Duality is part of its nature, so it is interesting that we started off as "Lucerne" - when platted - but ended up as "Lake Worth"  - when we incorporated.  We also have Lake and Lucerne Avenues running as two-way pairs through the center of the city.  We have also been referred to as being a "Tale of Two Cities" - usually referring to the dividing line created by Dixie Hwy.  We are also polarized in to two political camps.  And, come to think of it, we have two buildings that are City Halls.

Geminis usually know a little bit about a lot of things - usually none of them in too much depth.  Geminis are also known to be able to run-off at the mouth without saying too much of anything.  These two traits are played out in many City Commission meetings.  They are also extremely capable of saying one thing and doing another.  Someone told me long ago that the city's chart has Mercury, Gemini's ruling planet, in a retrograde motion.  This meaning it appears to be in reverse orbit or direction in relation to the other planets.  This happens about four times a year, so it's not so unusual.  When it appears in a chart, it means there can be lots of confusion in communications of all types, or none at all.  Things just don't seem to come out right and accuracy with numbers can be a challenge.  If this is true about the city's chart, then we don't have to look to far to see this might be true.  Mercury, its ruler, is considered androgynous, which is also an odd coincidence.

In my life, birthdays have come up with a few peculiarities.  All of my dogs through the years have been born on the sixteenth of the month.  Many best friends and partners have been born on the 28th of the month.  A long-time friend from Michigan - a Gemini, by the way - has two boys.  These are my godchildren.  Each of these children were born on the same day as both my parents - one in April and one in August.  What are the chances of that?  Both were natural births.

If you look it up, you will find that today is also Donald Trump's birthday - my boss of 10 years.  And, in some sense, since I left there, it seems like Lake Worth has been my boss.  Hmmmm.

Happy Flag Day

The Lake Worth Scottish Rites Masonic Temple will once again this year lead the celebration in honor of our Flag. This is a truly spectacular event with the Palm Beach County Pipe and Drum Corp, local Boys and Girls Scouts and the Scottish Rites Honor Guard. Last year some of our newest Americans were on hand to describe the pride they felt upon being sworn in as citizens of the United States that very day. Bring the kids and enjoy one hour of flat out pomp and patriotism in unabashed celebration of Old Glory. 
Tuesday, June 14th
Bryant Park Bandshell
6:30 to 7:30 pm

FYI - Of Rachel Waterman's $6,234.95 reported on her Treasurer's Report...

$4,297 is from outside of Lake Worth - roughly 70%.  Notably, $1,000 comes from Jo Ann Golden's family in New York.  Click title for link to report.

PBCHRC Endorses Lisa Maxwell!

Click title for link.

What people do for fun at 822 North C Street:

with appearances by former City Commissioner "Tootsie Popped" and current CRA Board Member "Peggy Preggers" many of Cara's Army
can you recognize?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meet Lisa Maxwell's Campaign Manager Adrienne Percival!

Click here for letter to the PBP Editor from Lake Worth resident Joanne Kelly

It will likely not see the light of day if left to the PBP as it recites real history.  It also recognizes the efforts of those that have served Lake Worth well over the years - many times against great odds.  If the current regime thinks things are so great now, it would be nice for them to publicly recognize that it is due in large part to those that came before.

SFRTA Marks Annual Dump the Pump Day with Free Rides on Tri-Rail

"The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) is celebrating the 6th Annual “Dump the Pump” Day by offering free rides on Tri-Rail on Thursday, June 16th, to anyone who wants to take the train. “Dump the Pump” Day was created by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) to encourage people to beat the high cost of gas by leaving their car at home and taking a train, bus, or trolley, instead. Last year, more than 120 transit systems nationwide participated in the effort.

“We realize that people are having a difficult time just getting to their jobs with the price of gas, let alone traveling for any leisure activities,” said SFRTA Executive Director Joe Giulietti. “By offering free rides on Tri-Rail on ‘Dump the Pump’ Day, we are encouraging people to discover that there are alternatives to the expense of driving to get around the region.”

In addition to free rides, there will be activities at various Tri-Rail stations throughout the day. Several radio stations will be broadcasting live from train stations and members of the SFRTA staff will be present to talk to passengers about the benefits of public transportation, and Tri-Rail in particular.

Statistics have shown that transportation is the second highest strain on a family’s budget, only slightly less than lodging. If one family member opts to commute on public transportation and the household can give up one car, the savings can be as much as $9,000 a year in South Florida"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Seriously - click here for "" website...

It appears that his candidacy is pregnant with possibilities!