Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Grand Inquisitor...

Click here for more on Tomás de Torquemada

Thomas Paine 1737-1809

"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

From the current City Manager's Report...the deception continues...

Click title for link to pictures.

Click here for responses to your questions posed to Rachel Waterman...

I received these this morning.  I have not edited any of them and the document is as presented by the candidate.  Click the box in the upper right hand corner of the frame below or use the zoom tools.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Latest horror story from Lake Worth Utilities Customer Service...

Today, a single mother with a young, asthmatic son, owed some $476 for her monthly utility bill.  She was only able to pay $400 of that bill, which she did, giving the cashier the money through the window.  When she got home, her electricity was shut off.  She now owes the re-connect fee, the past due $76, plus her current bill which means she needs over $500 to turn her electricity back on.  It is the beginning of a holiday weekend, meaning that even if she did come up with the money, the power wouldn't be turned on until Tuesday at the earliest.  This after coming and going to and from a public building that smells like a Monkey House (overwhelming urine smell upon entry.)  The kicker is that the father, who faithfully pays for the utilities, happened to work at John G's and is laid off due to their move to Manalapan.

This is not about where we get our power from - it is about customer service which is under the complete control of this City Commission and administration - and we have seen no improvement under this regime. It turns out that since the child is asthmatic, the household is eligible for a medical exemption - but this was never told to this resident/customer.  We should keep her, and every other Lake Worth Utilities customer, including ourselves, in our prayers - especially upon entering that building.

Latest Casino demolition pic...

Perhaps these can be served prior to Commission Meetings?

Letter from Resident ATTN Capt. Silva - In Support Of Continuing PBSO as Lakeworth's Law Enforcement Provider

Dear Captain Silva,
I am writing to extend my support for the movement to have PBSO continue as the law enforcement agency for our little town, your District 14.
As a NEWly arrived Lakeworth homeowner, I closed on a residential property in early March of this year.  It is at 711 South F street in the “Genesis” neighborhood.  While I am a part-time resident at the moment, it is my intention to relocate full-time to Lakeworth within the next 2-3 years.  I am familiar with several of South Florida’s coastal cities but have determined that Lakeworth is the place for me! Thus I hope to take an active interest in the welfare of the city, be a good neighbor in my community and contribute positively to the social and economic fabric of the place.
Having just landed in town, I cannot say that I have a full historical understanding of the “then” to “now” profile of the city as it was “then” under the local LWPD. My limited understanding is that the LWPD was a severely under-manned and under-resourced agency in proportion to the magnitude of woes that the city was dealing with at the time. Therefore the LWPD was hardly seen as an effective law enforcement organization by the community. It’s my impression that overwhelmingly, current public opinion credits the 2008  merger with the PBSO, the considerably more formidable and sophisticated resources, staffing & tactical capacity that the PBSO affords, with bringing about significant positive changes in the crime profile of the city and the security and viability of the town. 
Although I just got here, I already have had personal experiences that convince me PBSO is the way to go!  Here’s my story:
My home was purchased in March as I said earlier and the months of April and May were spent doing some remodeling upgrades to stabilize the structures, replace infrastructure that had suffered at the hands of previous vandalism episodes, introducing landscaping and exterior improvements to increase curb appeal etc, etc.  Well, no sooner than we were 99% done and ready for move-in, we sustained not one, but two attempted break-ins and property damage in quick succession May 3 and again on May 6 !  While no arrests have been made in either incident, and while I will admit that even though I am from Brooklyn, NY, I did have my “OMG what have I gotten myself into” moment,  I was completely re-fortified by the response that my two 911 calls got and the follow-up from your officers and detectives.  Their professionalism was awesome and confidence inspiring.  In particular, the follow-up inspections by Detective Careirro went a long way in reassuring me that someone has our backs in a demonstrable way.  This sort of vigilance is what MUST continue to be maintained in order to not lose ground and backslide into more negative territory. 
I WHOLEHEARTEDLY COMMEND THE PBSO and will offer my support any way that I can toward a resolution that allows our city government to keep PBSO at work for us.
Please feel free to use this testimonial in any manner that furthers this goal.
Susanne Lyn
Lakeworth citizen
Since March 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Questions posed by blog readers and e-mailed to Rachel Waterman...

Here are the questions from my blog readers:

If I had the opportunity to talk to Rachel I would ask her:
1. in Today's post she says she better represents the "diversity of Lake Worth". Since in Lake Worth diversity means those that want businesses and growth and those that don't how does she plan to bridge that gap? What are her plans for growth? What types of business will she hope to attract, and how?
2. What are her plans, if any, for the Gulfstream Hotel?
3. Why did she do a 180 on her response re running in November and the chicken issue between the Playhouse and the Eden Place/College Park forums?
3. What, honestly, is her commitment re November?
4. What, honestly, is her position on chickens?
5. What is her relationship with Cara Jennings? I am sure that she knows that 802 North A is where Cara used to live since she said the owner is an "old friend"?
6. What is the story behind all her foreclosures and liens?
7. When, honestly, did she move to Lake Worth (this time)  (she was homesteaded in Brevard County in 2010 and on the Pleasant City (WPB) board in 2010) and what can she do to make truly make us believe that she is here for the long run?


I would ask Waterman to prove she has actually lived here 6 mths,explain her multiple foreclosures and other financial woes and how she can any investment in lake worth if she I'd not even paying rent


I'd like to know

Are the 3 foreclosures (one with 7 WPB liens filed against it) filed in Palm Beach County under the name Rachel B. Waterman as a defendent, her?  If so how can she make sound fiscal decisions regarding the management of Lake Worth? Explain, explain, explain.

If she is the Rachel B. Waterman listed in the court records then...

What action does she think City needs to take toward resolving outstanding unpaid liens, stepping up code enforcement, the present foreclosure crisis and an on going and growing reduction in property tax income to LW?  How will the city provide services without revenue?

Her address listed on the PBC cases is in Mims, FL, when did she move to Lake Worth and for what reason?

There is a Brevard county case Discover Bank vs. Rachel B. Waterman for indebtedness - is this her?

There is a Brevard county mortgage against property in the amount of $375,000 listing Rachel B. Waterman as the mortgagor.  Is this her?

 I have a couple of things that I’m wanting some clarification on, in the PBP article in February she said; "Lake Worth has a personality. It has a vibe. We live in a town where the right-wings are Democrats. There is money in social progressivism."
How does Lake Worth make money on “social progressivism”?

Could you ask her if Cara decided to run for mayor in November would she dropout of the race in November. Or, maybe you might ask her this; earlier this year Cara asked on her FB page, "I am taking a you think I should run for Lake Worth Mayor in the special election on June 28?"

Waterman's response:
Yippee! I'll campaign for you!!!!!!

Did she talk with Cara and asked her for her support before she decided to run for Mayor?


Ask her about the census job and her cara connection

There seems to be a general concern about your personal financial condition, the need for you to do private work related to your profession in order to earn money and how that will be balanced between your commitment as Mayor of Lake Worth and being a mother of two younger children.

Thank you Rachel.

My e-mail to Rachel Waterman explaining my support for Tom Ramiccio in the run-off election...

Rachel - I am sorry that you won't be able to meet with me today.  I am including the questions that I received from my blog readers.  (On the blog, this will be a separate post)

I was hoping to have time to talk to you as a fellow professional planner - I've attached my resume so that you can see my background if you didn't know it from before.  I remember attending the Advancing Regional Equity conference with you in Philadelphia and a group of other people from Lake Worth in 2005.  I happened to be chair of the Planning and Zoning Board at the time - the trip was paid for by the CRA.  I still have my notes from the conference, if you're interested, but if memory serves me correctly, it examined ways in which to plan for a more egalitarian distribution of income structure throughout a metropolitan area with an eye towards providing adequate public services and basic human needs to areas of very low and low income persons.

What concerns me about the current majority of the dais, who are actively supporting your campaign, is that they feel it is necessary to target very low and low income households to come to Lake Worth - increasing the concentration of those households in our city which is already handicapped by limited resources that cannot meet the current needs of these populations.  You should check out the Palm Beach County Children Services Council website and look at the scorecard for various zip codes in Palm Beach County.  You will find that the 33460 zip code has 15 of 17 factors contributing to at-risk youth - the most of any zip code in the county.  

Over the past four years, the majority of the Commission, who supports your campaign, has presided over the greatest decrease of property values in Palm Beach County in relation to the 37 other municipalities and the unincorporated area of the county.  You cannot help poor people by getting poorer.  Your supporters seem not to realize that.  They seem to have found a way to discourage investment in our city in overt and covert ways.

For example, just yesterday, I received an e-mail from a planning colleague of mine, who asked about the availability of a current zoning map for Lake Worth.  He came to me since he knew about my longtime involvement and interest in the city.  He included a 2005 version of the city's zoning map and wondered if that was the most current.  I told him that it probably was and it does not reflect the changes made in the Future Land Use Map that was approved in 2008 as part of the EAR-amended Comprehensive Plan.  I pointed out the new height restriction table in the Comp Plan and told him that there are zoning districts there that have not yet been created since the re-writing of the LDRs (zoning code) is still on-going.

My professional friend's assignment was to survey Palm Beach County municipal locations for an out-of-state client that is looking to establish a presence in the area.   With the disconnect between the zoning code and Comp Plan, people and institutions with money to invest will go to one of the other municipalities that don't have these inconsistencies or complications - or the history of political divisiveness that we seem to be known for. 

You might recall, with the constant and repeated lobbying of those in power at the time by your friend and mine, Tom Bott, the city embarked on a visioning and master planning process some 7 years ago now in an effort to address long standing inconsistencies between our zoning code and Comprehensive Plan - which would result in a new set of both documents.  This effort ended up costing well over $1 million and what we have to show for it is a long-delayed Comp Plan, finally in compliance only earlier this year, with no corresponding zoning code.  The big hang-up now seems to be that there is not a strike-through and underlined version of a draft - this due to the wholesale re-working of the zoning code to make it user-friendly.  The long and short of it is that this situation amounts to a de-facto moratorium and that seems to suit your supporters on the dais just fine.   By the way, my last meeting as a member of the Planning and Zoning Board was December 2006 - we were meeting every week at the time to address this issue along with handling current cases.  There has been a lot of turnover in the director position - William Waters now seems to have a better handle on things than most - if he stays.

Regarding the beach, Commissioner Mulvehill, one of your supporters, was elected on the premise that the casino building would be saved and rehabilitated, if not "restored."  Likewise, REG Architects was hired under the same premise.  It was also done with the expectation that many green building features would be incorporated into the final building. Looking at the DEMOLITION plans as part of the project, nearly all the building is being demolished and the favorite anchor tenant (John G's) has left and is not coming back - despite promises from your supporter, Commissioner Mulvehill.  It is also my understanding that nearly all the green building features are being value-engineered out of the project now in order to stay under the guaranteed maximum price through Morganti.  There is no representation of these facts coming from the City Commission - the majority that supports you - or the city administration.  It's time people start telling it like it is - if you are supported by people that continue to perpetuate myths, why are we to think you would be any different?

Your heralded return to Lake Worth as documented by the Palm Beach Post in February makes one scratch one's head.  Why would one person who lived here for such a short time need a fluff piece announcing their triumphant return to Lake Worth and the fact that you were appointed to a board created by one of your dais supporters, Commissioner Mulvehill.  Your endorsement by the Palm Beach Post, four months later makes people go "Hmmmm."

Congratulations on your endorsement by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Voters Alliance.  I am not sure why you weren't endorsed by them for the special election and they chose Lisa Maxwell as their endorsement before, but that is their business.  I have been endorsed by that organization the two times that I ran for a Commission seat.  I would note that each time that I ran, I was open about being a gay man and have been out for too many years to remember.  I do know that many of your supporters found it very convenient to mention that at doors during the two campaigns that I was running - this I heard from many friends that were visited by people who support you and are campaigning for you now.

I respect your background, but your associations and itinerant history concern me.  What I think we need on the dais is a bit of a 3 and a half month "SHOCK" treatment and I think Tom Ramiccio would fit that bill the best.  I am not at all sure that the city needs him in place for a longer term, but the chemistry on the dais would beat any primetime entertainment offering for sure.  That's why I am supporting him in this run-off election.  It is also consistent with Lisa Maxwell's direction to her supporters and I count her as a good friend.

Best of luck and may the better candidate win.

Rachel Waterman canceled our meeting for today...

I am forwarding your questions to her and hope she will return them with answers.  The meeting was set for 3 p.m. at my house and she did not give a reason for the cancellation.

Former Home of a World Famous Restaurant...the "gutting" continues...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Does Lake Worth suffer from Electoral Dysfunction?

These are a bunch of random thoughts about yesterday's election, in no apparent order:
  • Our former Mayor Rene Varela should have stayed out his full term - doing that would have avoided all the expense and non-sense.  With a run-off election, which pretty much everyone expected, now we push the decision to the middle of July.  This is less than a month before the qualifying period for the November election.  I maintain it would have been better to have the Best Commission Ever appoint someone and have them defend the decision in the November election.  I also think that this whole thing came to be much earlier in the minds of the various operatives before it became general public knowledge.
  • I am surprised at the relatively high turnout.  Most people were predicting a turnout of about 1,000 voters.  I thought it might be as high as 1,800, but to have just over 2,500 come out in late June - with 200 absentee ballots says that people were paying attention.  Click here for a link to the Supervisor of Elections website for the actual results.
  • I thought it likely that there would be a vote split between Ramiccio and Maxwell and that proved to be correct, but I thought Lisa would out-pace Tom.  I guess that is where fundraising, many mailers and name recognition helps.  Maxwell happened to be weakest in the Highridge Road precinct where Ramiccio got 74, Waterman got 73 and Maxwell got 17.
  • Was that a blender for making Margaritas on the trailer being towed around by the Waterman truck?  Wow, these people are cooking with gas.
  • Heard that someone wearing a Waterman t-shirt was inside the polling location on E Street in District #1.  Also heard that Pam Lopez said it was o.k. since the law had changed.  This person was an actual poll worker apparently.  People at other precincts were being blocked om going inside if they were wearing a candidate's t-shirt.  Does anyone have a picture of this?  Did anyone actually see this?  This is third hand information so treat it as such.
  • I have a feeling that the Waterman people expected to do better than they did and now they find themselves in a little bit of a pickle.  I think Tom Ramiccio represents a stable influence to a lot of people not satisfied with the chaotic nature of the city's recent history.  I think his campaign did a good job of proclaiming that Lake Worth's last glory days were due to him.  Not saying that is entirely the case, but I think it is the perception.
  • Jo-Ann Golden and I had the longest conversation in recent memory.  It went something like this.  Jo-Ann:  "Did you get caught in the rain?" Wes:  "No."

Thank you for running Lisa!

I have called and e-mailed the Rachel Waterman campaign...

asking for a face-to-face meeting with Rachel so that I can go over a list of issues and concerns I have regarding the current direction of the city.  I will let you know if and when I hear back from them.   There is quite a list - as evidenced by this blog.  But, I also encourage you to e-mail me issues that you would like me to talk with her about.  Do not use the comment feature to do this.  My e-mail address can be found in the right hand column of the blog.

The Waterman Camp at 1415 N. K Street...

Rachel Waterman talking to a supporter yesterday at one of the main polling locations on the north side of town.  The gentleman on the phone, asking for a Waterman t-shirt, is none other than Tom Bott who came up for the day from South Beach to help the cause.  Rachel is wearing, as the Palm Beach Post would put it, "free-spirit lifestyle" slacks.  Love the pink paisley, gurll!  Give me a call - I have a list of things I'd like to talk to you about :)

Mission Impossible...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Results of the Lake Worth Special Election (6/28)

Waterman and Ramiccio head to runoff in Lake Worth mayor's race

From the "paper of record" - discuss...
Rachel Waterman and Tom Ramiccio in a run-off. Total of 2490 votes cast. Tom and Lisa Maxwell essentially split the vote. Javier was not a factor...more later.

Turnout light as Lake Worth elects a mayor

Mr. Howard's take on today's activities. Click title for link.

Voting Music!

Vote Today!

"I'm voting for Lisa Maxwell - you should too!"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Taken today 6/27 around 2:30 p.m.

Lauderdale Lakes fiscal disaster holds lessons for others

Click title for link.

BOTTOM LINE: Other cities need to consider consolidation, expanding regional cooperation.

Winner of Lake Worth's special election will earn four-month term as mayor

Summary of backgrounds and positions by our "paper of record." Fun to read the comments. Click title for link.

Tomorrow's the BIG DAY!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Advice to the city-at-large...

"You cannot get sick enough to help sick people get better. You cannot get poor enough to help poor people thrive. It is only in your thriving that you have anything to offer anyone. If you're wanting to be of an advantage to others, be as tapped in, turned in, turned on as you can possibly be." - Abraham-Hicks

Following up on a suggestion made by Greg Rice...

I listened to the later portions of last Tuesday's (6/21) City Commission meeting.  What he referred to in a comment on this blog was the discussion on the city's legal matters (aka lawsuits) - specifically the mounting legal fees and the apparent legal morass in the City Attorney's department.  The discussion surrounded Item 11. G under new business and the segued (intended :) into the City Attorney's report.
It really is worth a listen on the archive City Commission audio.  Click the title of this post and it will take you to the recording of last Tuesday's meeting.  Click on the right side of the screen where the indicator shows the playback's progress.  Go to the 3:56:40 mark.  To hear the whole discussion, you'll have to go to 4:23:16.  If you go farther, you will get into the City Manager's report where she laments about having to deal with other agencies (like fire rescue and PBSO) contractually rather than operationally to control costs.  She still seems to have trouble with the concept.

Anyway, back to the lawsuit matter, Item 11.G just concerned the approval of $85,000 of legal fees for one law firm for the defense of claims related to rather pedestrian legal challenges.  This amount is over and above the $15,000 amount that the staff can approve and below the $100,000 amount that the city's insurance kicks in.  This item ended up being approved with little fanfare, but led to a larger discussion on the status of all the lawsuits being faced by the city.  There was a mention of a total of 159 cases in the system.  The City Attorney says that "our department is struggling" to keep up with the bills.  It seems to be a very complicated process to appropriate various funds from legal fee line items in various enterprise fund budgets, etc.  The City Manager says that the city may have to hire more "in house" attorneys to handle the load.  She mentioned that the total bill to defend the city in the Greater Bay lawsuit will run over $600,000 - there is a similar amount related to the FMPA challenge about the city leaving that contract.  According to the City Attorney, the Greater Bay lawsuit is going to trial in November.

Remember, the legal fees are absent any eventual judgments that may be levied against the city.

Commissioner Golden made the absurd distinction that these legal costs result from actions to defend the city, not legal actions that the city initiated.  It's absurd since many of them are due the cumulative actions of the Commissions on which she has served!

They asked for quarterly reports on fees according to each case that will be put on a spreadsheet.  Apparently, there is a summer intern working on that now - it sounded like a MAJOR task.  We only have this intern for another month.

When listening,  you may want to have some smelling salts and Kleenex handy...

Why I am voting for Lisa Maxwell...

Lisa Mawell is the best choice to make on Tuesday - especially at this point in our city's history.  We just had a Mayor leave the city before the end of his term - which spawned the need for the special election on June 28th.  Lisa has lived here a while and shown a deep commitment to the Lake Worth community.  She served for years on the Planning, Zoning and Historic Preservation Board - during the time that I was on the board.  She could always be counted on for thoughtful and knowledgeable discussion, leading to a reasonable decision.  We didn't always see things the same way and voted differently on some matters, but that is what you want on a deliberative body.  Debate and independent thought should be encouraged.  Facts are things to respect.  Lisa knows these things.

That's the problem with the political troika we have now on the dais between Mulvehill, Golden and McVoy.  We can count on these dais-mates for pre-cooked decisions directed by mysterious hands from beyond the dais.  This "hand" does not necessarily reflect public opinion.  We saw that play out during the PBSO debacle.  When these three plus the city manager realized the extent of support for keeping PBSO and the fear of creating our own police department, the retreat was on and they suddenly became the ones that saved PBSO.  Enough of these types of games, please.  We're seeing something similar to that now by not acknowledging the demolition of the Casino building.

This sort of "stickiness" on the dais is frightening,  especially when you have a city administration that seems to be challenged by the truth.  The troika's support of Rachel Waterman is disturbing too.  Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden - whose family is associated with Golden paints - unleashes family money from New York to assist in Ms. Waterman's campaign.  It seems that these three have created their own special interest group and they would like to preserve that.  They do not want outside influences or the possibility of any of their pre-determined decisions to be questioned - or heaven forbid, that any of their secrets get exposed by pointed questions by someone "out of the fold."

We have had a lot wild fires in Florida and across the nation this year.  When these wildfires get so intense, they create their own weather systems.  This is like the current symbiotic frenzy on the dais and has the same harmful, uncontrollable possibilities.  Rachel's addition would add another log on the fire - something we don't need.

I appreciated Lisa Maxwell's refusal to participate in the charade that has become of the Palm Beach Post endorsement.  The Palm Beach Post announced Ms. Waterman's return to Lake Worth in a fluff piece published in February.  That should have given everyone a warning of what was to come.  The troika's relationship with the Palm Beach Post is another symptom of the insular nature of politics here. The Post's endorsement was in the bag in February or before - going to the Post's editorial board to kiss the ring would be waste of time.  I just hope Lisa used the time that would have been taken to secure a dozen or so more votes.  Let's hope she did.

Ms. Waterman, during the candidate forums, acted more like she was applying for a job on the staff of the city instead of a Mayoral, leadership position.  She made it seem like the Mayor's job involves writing grants and making sure consultant reports were short and to the point.  Her involvement with the Census and Annabeth Karson is shrouded in mystery as well.

The only thing that I can say about Tom Ramiccio is that he has had his time in a leadership role(s) in the city and it is time for a new approach to how things are done here.  javier del sol has referred to me as a "Pilgrim" and an "economic criminal", so he is not getting my vote.

Vote for Lisa Maxwell on Tuesday!