Friday, September 23, 2011

TRNA | Upcoming Candidate Forum

On Monday, October 3, 2011 at 7pm the Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association will be hosting a Candidate Forum at Compass Community Center. This is the 1st in a series of meet-and-greets offered by the Neighborhood Associations with the finale being the Candidate's Debate hosted by The Neighborhood Associations' Presidents Council (NAPC) debate on Monday, October 24, 2011 at the Lake Worth Playhouse.
Candidates for the Mayor, District 1 & District 3 Commission seats will be introducing themselves and taking some questions from the audience. This is a great opportunity to get to know the people who want to represent you.
This event is open to everyone. We look forward to seeing you there!
Please note that we will be selling some beautiful, amazing, awesome, fantastic, super cool, you-know-you-want-one Tropical Ridge t-shirts at the event. Members - $12 Non-members - $15
For questions, please contact

Up Coming Events! VOLUNTEERS NEEDED :-)

WE have several events coming up and wanted to keep our groups informed so please forward the following dates on to your emails contacts and neighbors as well!

This Saturday, September 24th @ 8:30 am
We will be at 501 8th Street South
Lake Worth
Doing touch up trim painting 
Need additional 3 people Currently have Robert & Carmello
Sponsored by Paint Your Heart Out

Saturday, October 1st @ 4PM
Monthly Neighborhood Awareness Walk - Different Neighborhood every Month
College Park - Lake Worth
Everyone encouraged to attend....If you would like to come
and experience what we do at one of our walks to organize
The same in your neighborhood this is a great opportunity.
Lake Worth Neighborhood Member are encouraged to attend
Meet at Spillway Park - Walk Begins at 4pm to 5:30pm
Sponsored by NAPC and College Park

Sunday, October 2nd @ 9AM
126 South M Street - Lake Worth - Helping neighbor and Veteran in need
Yard Clean Up and Minor Repairs and Prep for future Painting
We need all Volunteers that can come and help.  If Handy
Bring tools for Yard Clean Up bring Gloves
Sponsored by Downtown Jewel Neighborhood Association

Saturday, October 15th @ 8:30AM
6101 Garden Ave West Palm Beach
Clean Up and Painting with Congressman Allen West
Working with Groups and more individual volunteers needed
to Help a homeowner in need w/Disabilities  
Sponsored by Paint Your Heart Out and Rebuilding Together of the Palm Beaches

705 11th Street West Palm Beach 
Clean Up, Landscaping, Repair Work, Painting Etc.....
This is a major event from Sears Heroes at Home Project and Facebook Competition
We are working Veterans Services of America to spruce up and do the final touches
on Transitional Housing for At Risk Veterans and Community Center.
100+ Volunteer needed including handy work, repair work, Landscaping, Painting and people to help make sure all volunteers stay hydrated and hand out supplies.
Sponsored by Sears Heroes at Home, Veterans Services of America, Paint Your Heart Out, Rebuilding Together of the Palm Beaches and many more!!!

We thank everyone from all over the county for your continued support and volunteerism!  It takes a community working together to make all these projects happen and from one community to another through out Palm Beach County!  All of us working together make this county an much better place to live!  

Robert Waples
Neighbors Helping Neighbors Project

From the file marked: "Solutions in Search of a Problem..."

As the Commission stumbled all over itself yesterday in a vain attempt to find a solution to a real problem regarding the beach renovation budget, rest assured that the city is busy providing solutions to non-existent problems on a regular basis throughout the city.

I've been waiting for a time to point out one example of this phenomena not far from where I reside.  At 16th Avenue and North Dixie Hwy, southeast corner, there is a business there called the MadHatter, a local neighborhood watering hole.  A similar business has been at this particular corner for as long as anyone can remember.  The current owners have owned the establishment for 8 years this coming March.

Like many businesses along the east side of Dixie Hwy, the shallow depth of the lot doesn't allow for much, if any, on-site parking.  This establishment has relied on on-street parking for its entire existence.  People park their cars starting along the north side of building, on 16th and, on busier times, cars can stretch along 16th to J Street in a parallel fashion.  Like I said, this situation has gone on forever.  The current owners cannot recall anytime where there was an accident of some sort at that corner or on the street related to the parking situation.  Apparently, neither can PBSO.

Now comes an unknown resident that lives somewhere farther east that rings or e-mails the City Manager.  From what I understand, the City Manager then dispatches the sheriff to come inspect the situation since the person complained about the possibility of people hitting the rear end of the car parked closest to  Dixie Hwy. as they turn on to 16th.  The owners were concerned about the potential too and cooperated with the sheriff when they came out to look at the situation.

The sheriff said that as long as the rear of the westernmost car was twenty feet from the corner, there wouldn't be an issue.  They brought the spray paint out and marked that spot on the pavement.  The owners of the business even thought that an extra five feet would be a good idea.
See mark by sheriff made on the curb/gutter.
Well, now here comes the city's crew out one day, given other direction by staff (?) and spend all day painting a "no parking" area along the south side of the street a total of 60 FEET from the corner (see part of the white stripes above.)  The owners couldn't believe what they were seeing as it was counter to the sheriff's recommendation and complete over-kill.   The city, realizing that it went too far, then came back and painted black paint over the easternmost 20 feet of the no parking area.  Then, like a cherry on top of the sundae, they came back with a special sign indicating no parking between there and Dixie Hwy.

Here are an assortment of pictures taken of the situation.  I think that the underlying reason for this over-reaction by city staff is evidence of the turf war between the city and PBSO - expect to have situations like this used as an example of the problems having an "independent" law enforcement agency in charge of things here.  Just sayin'...
How is this lane width here legal?  Is this a new, more serious problem?

The VW Passat is parked in the area "blacked out" later by the city. 

What one of our municipal cousins is doing to inform the public...

Joe Kroll: The Voice of Reason and a "Get it done" person is leaving...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lake Worth commissioners give inital approval to fire pension assessment on homes and businesses

The word from Willie. Click title for link.

Lake Worth's problem: $2 million price tag for parking lot lights for renovation project

The grim truth revealed at the end of the WPTV piece:

"There's no word on when this issue will be resolved."

Click title for link.

And YAY Peggy!

Former Howard Johnson's near Lake Worth Beach to become real estate office

Not in Lake Worth, but about as near as you can be without being in it. This is next door to "Ye Olde Bridge Park." Click title for link to article.

Notes from last night's Planning and Zoning workshop on NSP2-funded artist lofts...

Check out the previous post for back-up material on the project.  The total number of units proposed is 13, with the possibility of going down to 12.  A total of 20 units would be allowed by existing zoning.  Silverblatt, Chair Mahoney, Waples and McNamara were there - Jennings arrived at 6:55 p.m.  This was a "cursory" review of the project so that concerns could be identified.  The project may be ready to come back in a month for formal review and approval/denial.  Notice there are three floor plan options - but it is thought that most would have studio space on the first floor.  It could not be a retail storefront - it has to be purely residential.  Sales of art on premise may be able to be accommodated through a code amendment.

Being there last night, I didn't hear much "positivity" coming from the dais.  I am ready to start referring to Chair Mahoney as "Madame No."  And gurrrl, I need you to do my hair like you had yours last night! Get in touch!

McNamara noted that this project wasn't like anything in Lake Worth, which was an observation.  He didn't like the tiny windows and thinks that the murals could incorporate the windows in creative ways.  Joan Oliva, Executive Director of the CRA, mentioned that there would be a mural program and local artists or residents of the project would be solicited to complete them.  Mahoney didn't like the use of the roof, even though it was a "green" roof - she was concerned about noise coming from the roofs and impacting the neighborhood.  She wondered if any artists were there that night and questioned whether artists would leave where they are living now to live in these units.  Oliva said that there were no price points yet, but that the project would have to meet the parameters of the grant.

William Waters, Community Development Director, brought up the need to identify suitable street trees. He had been working with the team on different options - some of what he would suggest would be too expensive for this type of project.  He would like to pick up a commercial property next to the units on Lake - but commercial property is excluded from project funding requirements of the grant.  He mentioned that there would be no more than 4 townhouses in a row (which was also part of the zoning-in -progress we put in place during the boom period and has since expired now.)  Sliverblatt asked if we need more townhouses since many of them are empty now and bringing down prices (not sure about this assumption.)  Mahoney said she wonders if it really is a "build it and they will come."

Oliva said that artists would get preference and floor plans are flexible. Waters added that there was some space to evolve over time and provide for a family situation.  Oliva said that market studies were underway.

Cara arrived at 6:55 p.m. and immediately complained about not having back-up material - but she wasn't there for the presentation, so we had to hear what transpired beforehand, again.  The entire dais differed to her after her arrival.  I half expected to see a carriage with two white horses out front upon leaving with a "Queen Cara" sign on it.  I am sure she will say that she was at a funeral so that it is inappropriate to comment that she came late to the meeting.

Herman Robinson noted the negativity present on the board with his comments.  He said that the comments from the board were dampening enthusiasm for the project. and what he was hearing was negative vibes.  Suzanne Cabrera, with the Housing Leadership Council and who helped get the grant in the first place, reminded everyone that this was a competitive process and if we don't use the money by certain deadlines, we will lose the unspent funds.  Any change of program, like not doing these units, could also jeopardize the grant.  Cost reasonableness is part of HUD funding so there is no money for amenities like saunas...if the city wanted them, they would need to come up with money for them.

Jennings said that the buildings were unattractive and did not relate to the surrounding neighborhood.  She did not like how they all looked the same.  She said that it interrupts the "flow" of the neighborhood.  It was a serious planning issue for her that there was no open space and she would rather see open space here than this project.  She said that she could see 10 units max instead of 12 or 13.  Oliva said that under 12 units, the project doesn't work financially.  She really stressed the need for open space.  Oliva pointed out that HUD money couldn't be used to buy open space, but once the project is successful, there might be a revolving loan fund created that could fund things like that.  But, the project would have to come first.

There was a lot of bashing of townhouses in general and that for this and other reasons this project was not appropriate here.  I see this project having problems when it comes before them formally next month - there seems to be no sense of urgency with this money - like the city doesn't want to spend it.  But you can bet it will still be used in campaign materials.

For live link to 2 p.m. City Commission Work Session on Beach Budget

Click here.  For complete back-up, click here.  I'm juggling a few things today and will be listening, commenting off and on.  By the way, in each of the last two meetings I have been a part of or attended in the Commission chambers, the power has gone off for about five seconds twice.  This entails a re-set of the Internet feed, so the stream may stop and start again, at times.

They are fumbling around trying to figure out when and how the lighting part of the budget ($2.8 million, including some water improvements) came on the scene - they seem to think that it came after the County's agreement.  They are saying that the lighting and the water needed to be done anyway regardless of whether there was a project or not - and that would have been funded by the utility eventually.  Now, they are talking about what type of lighting they will require.  Waterman wants to know if the $90,000 was for turtle lights and what was originally spec'd for that figure.  Kimley Horn says that was an allowance, but directed towards the actual beach - no real estimate that went along with that figure.  They thought that they could use some other "contingency" monies.

The construction documents have been submitted to the city, but not final since the scope of the project is not finalized (?).  Maxwell is asking about leases and what sorts of operating hours are being discussed and if there is any liability the city may have if it doesn't have enough lighting during those hours.  Johnny Longboats wants to stay open to 1 a.m.  The pier is open until 10 p.m.

The casino building will have a sprinkler system, the old one did not.  A fire pump is not included, there is adequate water pressure.  Maxwell is asking if there is anything related to the building that would require additional water pressure - staff responded that there are other facilities now that weren't there before.  Stanton is saying that these water improvements need to be done anyway.  Commissioner Golden says that he would be getting a straight answer if he asked a straight question (meow!)

Maxwell is making the point that everyone knew about the lights way back when.  Stanton says we didn't know the exact type or quantity.  The $90,000 was undefined.  Maxwell said that it was for turtle light by the beachfront.  Stanton says it should have been a CIP item as part of the utility budget.  Stanton says that you don't necessarily need lights by the casino building - that up until a few months ago businesses were operating there at night without parking lot lights and she thinks that is o.k.  Maxwell is making the point that this was an oversight and needed to be known.  Mulvehill says that the only lighting was talked about and included was lighting along the beachfront.  She is surprised and wonders if they could have design a $3 million project plus lights.  McVoy says that lighting wasn't needed because it was a "park" and not a commercial use.

Maxwell is wondering if the tenants know this and they know the conditions that they will operate at night.  Stanton says that they know it.  Part of the enticement of the project is its ocean location (fish don't shop Ms. Stanton.)  Golden says there are gigantic lights there and that turtles would go back out to the ocean if they saw them.  (Ms. Golden, the thing about turtle lights is that they are shielded for when hatchlings come out of their eggs - that they go towards the ocean and not towards the artificial lighting on shore.  Bright lights do not prevent turtles from laying eggs or make them go somewhere else.)

Now they are trying to analyze the amount of clientele that would be going there at night.  Waterman just thinks we need 100 lighted spaces near the casino.  (What does the business plan say about parking revenue assumptions?)  The lights have gone in for DEP permitting and the permit has not been issued yet.  Maxwell thinks that he has been misled on the costs of both projects and wants to know who knew what when.  Stanton says that ultimately it is she that he should aim her concerns.  He is asking for a special meeting on both projects and review the project to find out how we got where we are today.  McVoy says that there might not be consistent interpretations of what happened.

Stanton says that this is coming down to a "gotcha" contest by people who want to say that we shouldn't have gone ahead with this project in the first place. (GAG)  Looking at either project like this wouldn't be productive.  Waterman says that this is just the natural progression of the project and the lights are now something they have to decide whether or not to approve them and what type.   Mulvehill says she can't see lights on previous plans but now we know they are an issue.

Jason Bregman says that they looked at the issue when they worked on the project in 2009.  City staff at the time didn't know if there would be night time use of the beach at the time.  They met with DEP at the time too.  Stanton says that we are treating this like street lights since it would benefit the entire community.  Maxwell is critical of the background preparation and has a low confidence level of the staff.  Stanton says that he has been critical of the project all along.  Waterman cut them off and goes back to the 100 space idea.  Mulvehill says we have to think long term and that we need something for the long term and that 100 spaces would not be enough.  Waterman says maybe they use regular lights and just use them during the non-turtle season of the year for larger events.  She is being told that we can't leave the lights that are there now - the city has been told to take the existing ones down as part of the permitting for the project.  McVoy is trying to get around the requirement (the state will not let you - they don't trust that the wrong lights would be on at the wrong time anyway.)

It still sounds like they are confused and talking in circles.  Waterman is asking when the leases will generate a profit so that they could use that money to supplement lights in the future.  Maxwell says that we need to incorporate everything into the leases and it may not be attractive to tenants.  (They are forgetting the ballroom - which should be a money maker for the city and would require people being there at night - no one has mentioned this.)

Maxwell is very disappointed that his colleagues are willing to pay anything for these lights. Waterman said G-D lights - oops.  She says she is not saying that.  McVoy says that we could choose not to have lights.  Maxwell says that we don't know a lot of things.  Stanton says that we don't have leases yet, no bids yet, etc.  Mulvehill finally recognizes the ballroom - I wonder if they are reading this blog from the dais.  Waterman corrected herself.  If not, someone could be relaying this.

Now they are talking about foot candles and "luminosity" - Golden says that we still have the moon to deal with.  Please.  It sounds like they are going ahead with the "rough in" for the lights now.  Waterman is saying they will be going on and filling in what is needed over time as the building makes money.

Margoles says that the staff has been working on the numbers, figures on the various items up until this morning, so not everything ended up in the packet.

Wind Turbines - Mulvehill asks if there is some private/public partnership to pay for them or share the cost.  They are currently add/alternates if they had the money. McVoy doubts that someone would go for that but they could be given mention in quarter inch high letters (?)

It turns out that people from the county were at the meeting and left.  Now they would like them there since they are talking about eliminating the playground, which is part of the interlocal agreement.

Meeting over at 5:35 p.m. with little accomplished that I could tell.

Urban Arts Lofts

These pictures were part of the "cursory" review of the artist loft project presented to the Planning and Zoning Board last night by the CRA.  These units are to be funded by the NSP2 grant - which specifically includes the provision for artist lofts/affordable housing as part of the cultural renaissance program - now called LULA.  Not doing this could jeopardize the entire grant since it was one of the reasons the CRA was awared the $23 million grant for neighborhood stabilization.  Click here for more information on the artist loft project.  Click here for a link to the Lake Worth CRA NSP reports/webpage.  The CRA needs to spend half of the grant money by Feburary 2012 - or the difference between what has been spent and that 50% amount would be taken back by the federal government.

See chart below for summary to date.  There is a general concern that the city is not moving fast enough in turning some of its surplus properties over to the program.
I am going over my notes from the meeting last night and will have more to add soon about what transpired.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Business Booming In Lake Worth - West Palm Beach News Story - WPBF West Palm Beach

I'll have what she's title for link.

More questions surface about Lake Worth Casino and Beachfront Development Project

Mars steals the show! Click title for link to article on WPTV website.

Why is the Planning and Zoning Board discussing the NSP2 program?

That is the $23 million grant made to the CRA by the federal government.  This is the agenda for tonight's workshop - no back-up is given for the NSP2 item.
I know of many people are attending tonight to hear what is discussed.  Does Chair Mahoney allow the public to speak during a Planning and Zoning workshop meeting?

Channel 5 Teaser re Casino OIG Report

More to come tonight!

Watch Channel 5 tonight between 5 and 6:30 p.m.

Mars and I are appearing on the local newscast.  This blog will be featured as well.

E-mailed Previous Post to City Commission and City Manager

IG says: Lake Worth classified work on casino building in wrong flood zone

Don't be so fast Willie - the city isn't out of the woods yet. What about the condition of that seawall? Anyone check that? And check out recommendation number 2 from the OIG report:

Someone needs to make a list of all the agencies the city will be resubmitting the revised plans which now must show that it is new construction.  The flood plain issue was a smoke screen anyway - the project still has to meet the requirements of the Florida Building Code.  And the project has definitely been red-flagged by the OIG.

And what about the review of "errors relating to the initial stages of this project?"  When will that take place?  The public has a right to know why they occurred and that the project's ultimate success will not be affected by them.

Click title for link to article.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Office of Inspector General Report Issued 9/20


Click here for full report.

Planning board buries idea for green market

What our rich neighbor is up to - the contrast could not be greater. Click title for are some gems from the article:

Tuesday’s decision followed about 35 minutes of discussion in which most commissioners and several merchants and residents said a market wouldn’t be a good fit for the town.
“The crowd at these things is a bit less than what you would expect in Palm Beach,” Commissioner Floyd Wideman said.
Adele Kahn, owner of House of Kahn Estate Jewelers at 231 Peruvian Ave., said the new Publix super market will offer plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables when it opens at the end of the year.
“Why do we need opportunists to come in?” she asked. “For who and for what? There’s nothing to gain. You’re going to trash the street and trash the town.”
Resident Ruby Rinker asked why the town would want to “dumb down” by following in the footsteps of West Palm Beach, where there is an established green market downtown on Saturday mornings during most of the year.
We have beautiful super markets to send our maids to,” Rinker said. “If we were starving people that needed discounted food, that would be different. But we just don’t need it.”

A little nerdy, but interesting way to compare word usage over time...and also how to find evidence of censorship...

Try some comparisons yourself - click here.

Here is the Ngram for Lake Worth:

And for Palm Beach:
But comparing the two on the same graph better demonstrates the larger number of mentions of Palm Beach compared to Lake Worth.  It is interesting comparing their trajectories - look at the impact of WWII and the Great Depression.

Greenacres votes to keep tax rate unchanged

Another one of Mr. Howard's clients - click title for article. He doesn't have to use as much spin with our "sister" community. Commissioner Golden often compares Lake Worth to Greenacres...but the similarity ends once you get away from population figures.

Reported to be on Rachel Waterman's FaceBook page...

She hasn't accepted my "friend" request, so I can't see what is on her wall myself.  But this is what a reader who can see it sent to me:

Just saw my clip on Channel 5 News - Unfortunately our news stations are not interested in reporting the truth; they are interested in creating scandal by strategically editing footage! For those who are interested Lake Worth was unaware we are listed as being out of compliance for our Department of Justice Grant because WE ARE NOT. Our paperwork was submitted and we already received our reimbursement from the federal government. But, the last half of the sentence wasn't of interest to them.

Illuminating reading - on the JAG Grant

That is the program that was used by the city to fund two code enforcement officers.  Click here for the basic parameters of the JAG program- the grant that the city is delinquent in reporting requirements.  Perhaps the reason the city has not submitted a report is that they lack staff with creative writing skills.  I'm not sure about the link between Code Enforcement and the grant.  Click here for more performance measures.

It would be revealing to read the report the city eventually prepares to see how they extol improvements in code enforcement.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Comment left under the post: Communication to/from a resident to a Commissioner

Left by Anonymous:

Not a defender of SM at all. She should be ashamed she hasn't spent more time focused on the blighted and crime ridden neighborhoods. Commissioner Maxwell could use an ally in that area and it shouldn't have anything to do with any politics anyway.

My frustration is that I've been around long enough to know when Wes was on the dias and was part of the system he now rails against. I would argue the elected officials were just as ineffective and the hired management even worse than the ones we have now. That Wes is "mad as hell and just not going to take it anymore" is admirable and welcomed. I simply wonder when the reality that Lake Worth is full of bad housing stock and suffers from decades and decades of poor zoning codes and more variances than any city should allow hit him.

Surely anyone with an honest cell in his being knows these folks on the dias didn't cause all this mess. And yes, now that Wes has seen the light (in my opinion) my view of what LW should be and could be are much more in line with his. But please understand some of us not only saw all these problems a dozen years ago we wanted to do what Wes thinks we should do now and he really wasn't convinced we should. He didn't publicly rip apart past administrations and inept Commissioners who for years allowed this city to decay to a point it's laughable to expect ANYONE to fix it even in two terms much less a few months.

Just sayin'... 

Well, it's interesting to read the phrase "when Wes was on the dais and part of the system he now rails against."  I'm not sure, but some people are under the mistaken belief that I was a Commissioner at one time.  This may or may not be the impression of this "anonymous", but it is something that I have heard used around town - especially during campaigns.  Others, if they encountered a resident that didn't like things how they were here, blame would be pointed in my direction for all sorts of Lake Worth woes.  It was at times convenient to refer to me as an incumbent - according to many people that told me about what they were told at their doorstep.

The fact is that my time on the dais consisted of an eight year stint on the Planning and Zoning, Historic Resource Preservation Board - the first two years as an alternate.  The last five years I held the chairman's seat and I resigned to run for office a year before what would have been the end of my term.  I, as well as other members of the board, were well aware of the poor condition of the housing stock in the city and tried, as best we could with the situation and the tools we had at our disposal, to address many longstanding issues negatively impacting the city.

In terms of working on the code, we started the Master Plan process while I was on the dais in order to address deficiencies in our zoning code - that are still there to this day, by the way.  The board didn't have the money so the funding of the over $1 million effort had to come from the Commission. This process was started so that we could determine a coherent vision of what Lake Worth should look like in the future and create a zoning code to get us there.  Seven years later, we have yet to see and start using the result.

One of the symptoms of an "out of sync" code is that you encounter a lot of variance requests since the code does not adequately reflect the realities present in the city.  In other cities, updating the zoning code is an on-going process and is really never finished since conditions and community values change over time - you really never get a chance to catch up.  Since we have never had an adequately staffed planning department, the city made only rare and haphazard changes to the zoning code - which over time can make things worse.

The board that I was on also served as the Nuisance Abatement Board and acted independently of the City Commission when there were code problems combined with chronic crime/drug activity.  This was also back in the day of CAT teams - which we eliminated as the dais changed composition.

I have kept this blog since 2006 and I don't think my opinions have changed that much over time.  I would like to hear what other people think by commenting here.  And there really isn't much to be gained to malign previous actions by an administration or a Commission as our problems are ours now, regardless of who made them.  I just don't see a lot of progress or sense of urgency in addressing them.  I am afraid some on the current dais and administration see it counter-productive to their goal of affordability and sustainability to address some of our intractable problems.

Lake Worth makes list for not reporting stimulus spending

Are we at all surprised?
Click here for link to list. How many people do we have in OMB and Finance? It seems that Mayor Waterman is surprised.

Click title for link to WPTV story.

Communication to/from a resident to a Commissioner

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"A Rendezvous with Destiny" - FDR's 1936 speech | Coffee Party

From FDR some 75 years title for full text. Here is a portion:

We do not see faith, hope, and charity as unattainable ideals, but we use them as stout supports of a nation fighting the fight for freedom in a modern civilization.

Faith - in the soundness of democracy in the midst of dictatorships.

Hope - renewed because we know so well the progress we have made.

Charity - in the true spirit of that grand old word. For charity literally translated from the original means love, the love that understands, that does not merely share the wealth of the giver, but in true sympathy and wisdom helps men to help themselves.

We seek not merely to make government a mechanical implement, but to give it the vibrant personal character that is the very embodiment of human charity.

We are poor indeed if this nation cannot afford to lift from every recess of American life the dread fear of the unemployed that they are not needed in the world. We cannot afford to accumulate a deficit in the books of human fortitude.

In the place of the palace of privilege we seek to build a temple out of faith and hope and charity.

Lighting cost casts shadow on Lake Worth beach renovation

Uhh, ahem, excuse me. The lack of transparency also casts a shadow.

I attended this meeting on Tuesday and the most significant portion of the meeting was where a designer formerly employed by the city and much-hailed by those of the dais, Micheal Singer Studios, sent Jason Bregman to the meeting to challenge some of the line item costs included in the entire beach budget. This was done, and apparently will be done, outside of having a contract and being paid by the city. City Manager Susan Stanton didn't like the interruption, or the challenge to previously agreed upon figures. It has come to the point that I can't trust any number or any "source of funds" that is proclaimed from 7 N. Dixie Hwy. More will be title for link. Mr. Howard's whistling by the graveyard is heard loud and clear...and reflects the administration's line.

W. Clement Stone

‎"Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them."

NEW Casino Building Construction Pics from 9/16 CM Report

This picture perpetuates the myth of the "rebuilt" building - I wonder if the value of this construction would be more or less if they weren't using "threads" of the original building.  We may never know.

Property Taxes - a personal history...

A previous post highlighted the study commissioned by the city which showed 363 property owners in Lake Worth essentially pay no taxes.  Another third of all property owners pay a minimum amount since their properties are valued lower than $25,000.  Before we passed the property tax reform measure a few years ago, homestead properties we locked into a maximum increase in assessed value of no more than 3% per year.  With the passage of that referendum statewide, we now have properties that are in a state of catching up to their appraised value - now that the cap has been lifted.  So, regardless of whether or not the market value of your home has decreased over the past three or more years, your assessment is still going to go up until your assessed value meets the market value of your property.

That is what is happening above with my own example.  Even though the market value of my property value has dropped about $20,000 (and I sincerely wonder if I could get the current $167,337 for my property in the current market), my property's assessed value has increased by $6,500.  That means that my taxes, over the three years above, have increased by around $500 per year.  Now, in addition, we add the two special assessments levied by the city this year and you are adding another $300 per year (and I am sure this assessment figure will rise in the future for other things that the city can find a way to justify.)

How do these facts help the marketability of real estate in Lake Worth? - They don't.  And they won't ever if we keep depending on a property tax base that is predominantly residential and single family residential, specifically.  This is the sort of discussion that we had at the Historic Resource Preservation Board - that through implementation of a working set of land development regulations that deliver the "vision" of what we want as a community, we will be sliding backward down a steeper hill.  Additional investment in commercial (office, retail) and industrial property is needed to lessen the financial burden on all residents of Lake Worth, regardless of where they live and the value of their property.

As data shows more Americans in poverty, Belle Glade looks for ideas from eastern Palm Beach County

As we digest the fact that the nation's poverty rate is around 18% based upon the 2010 census and that it is at the highest level since those data have been available, this article talks about the vast economic differences between the eastern and western geographic halves of Palm Beach County. This shift - nationally and locally - has come at the expense of the middle class and the most wealthy are protected for any number of reasons - their numbers are stable or slightly growing. While the divide is evident in Palm Beach County, it is magnified due to the relatively small 5 square mile size of Lake Worth. People have talked about the County taking over Lake Worth and dissolving us as a city - or, at the worst, having the state of Florida take over in the aftermath of some sort of financial crisis.

I don't see the County having the same sort of meeting about Lake Worth that they are having to talk about issues related to the western communities in question on October 25st - at least for the foreseeable future. We are going to be left to ourselves to solve our own problems - the many that we have already identified and new challenges that lie ahead. I do see the County turning into the enforcer and increasingly asking us to live up to our obligations and agreements with them, as well as with other municipalities. What we have to get over is ourselves and our own divides - economically, socially and philosophically. And there is hope for that - you better sit down for this revelation, but I find myself agreeing with more of the "other blogger's" opinions than I ever have before. This makes me question my own views and the basis for them - which might be a healthy exercise for all of us to do more often. Stand-offs, as we have seen play out on the national level, leave nothing but scorched earth if a conclusion is ever indeed reached. Compromise is not a dirty word.

There are county departments - fire rescue and PBSO - that have economies of scale from which we can benefit - that does not amount to a creeping takeover by the county - those decisions just make good sense to the residents who pay taxes.

This is how we can help ourselves - thinking that the County will be our white knight is a foolish notion. We also have to realize that there are many basic needs that are not being met and experienced by a large number of people living in Palm Beach County. Click title for link to the PBP article.