Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wasn't the Finance Advisory Board created to do just this?

One of the paragraphs in the transmittal memo - right before the City Manager's recommendation:

Not in favor of these "exclusive" clauses in the proposed tenant leases...

It really is too complicated to enforce, and it shouldn't be the city's business who gets an exclusive.  Even so, I think this e-mail is illustrative of how the City Manager handles many situations.  This is from the lawyer representing the Lake Worth T-Shirt shop to Kathleen Margoles:

Miscellaneous items of interest re Casino building construction...

Going back through the Morganti progress report for the month of October, I found some items that hold some interest.  One of these is about a change in the HVAC - air conditioning system. It is noted toward the beginning of the report:
One of the key components of a building in south Florida meeting various standards for "green" construction relates to the air conditioning system.  This appears to be an item currently waiting for review by the architect/engineer for the project and is probably related to a cost saving measure over a more costly - but more efficient A/C system.  I hope that the meeting on Monday will be a time when the staff or Morganti can respond to questions related to the green certification status of the building - since it is state law the any new municipal building meet a green building standard.  It was also one of the positives of the project used by the previous City Commission in their selling of the project.

And this item, found in the front section as well:
Remember all the talk about using local sub-contractors?  Have we ever gotten a report of the extent to which bona-fide city of Lake Worth businesses are being used for the project - being paid out of the city's "cash portfolio?"  It would be nice to hear an up-date at Monday's meeting on this topic.

Later on in the report are a series of daily reports prepared by Morganti, which include these two entries related to inspections.  The inspections are being done by the City of West Palm Beach - as are all construction projects in Lake Worth.

These inspections happened around the same time Doug Wise, the West Palm Beach building official, appeared at a City Commission meeting.  It was probably also about the same time that Commissioner Maxwell sent this letter to Mr. Wise, following up on the Inspector General's finding that the building represents a "substantial improvement" - which is another way of saying that it is NEW construction.  Since the project is considered new construction and the foundation system of the building does not include pilings, the city is relying on an untested and un-certified seawall to protect the building.  It is way past time that the city pony up the money to examine the integrity of the seawall.

And then there is a record of members of the Inspector General's office coming to visit the site and asking questions about the delay related to the second floor restaurant:
So, the OIG is on the case and being true to their word in following through while the project is underway.

Yesterday, the City Manager's report included this Coastal Construction Control Line permit issued by the Florida DEP.  This does not relate to the casino building, but to the various out-buildings and pavilions that are part of the overall beach project.  The DEP permit for the casino building was issued this past April.

Ethics Awareness Day events highlight building culture of fair play in Palm Beach County

Click title for link to PBP article. The first paragraph:

"Of all the reasons to promote ethical behavior among public officials, one stands out: Businesses are more likely to relocate to a place where officials follow the rules."

Need we say more?

Monday's City Commission Meeting changed to a "Special Meeting"

Which means that the City Commission can take action on budget related items and direction related to the beach and casino project.  Click here for 192 page back-up material.  I am reviewing it now and will have more to say later.  Something that initially jumped off the page was that it was going to take over a quarter of a million dollars just to administer the fire special assessment - that process also included rolling out the street light assessment, which as we all expected, was soon to follow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fire assessments, program cuts on Lake Worth agenda for Monday

Click title for link to PBP article. This is what the City Commission talked about at the end of last Tuesday's meeting and was presaged during Commissioner Maxwell's comments during the swearing-in ceremony on Monday. Needless to say it is a hefty agenda and it is a work session where no action can be taken. I find it strange that Mr. Howard seems to go to great pains to point that out in this article, but typically has failed to mention such a distinction in the past.

Making sense of the new casino building construction will depend on the ability and desire of the City Manager to make all relevant information available. She seems to have adopted a very compliant attitude after her midnight conversion on the night of the election. We will see if that is still in effect next Monday. There was a lot of discussion surrounding the installation of new windows in City Hall and the impact, eh hem, that would have on meetings taking place in the Commission Chambers. But that is indeed where the meeting will be held, starting at 6 p.m.

There are two other meetings that should be pointed out as well that are about two weeks out. Both deserve more attention than they are currently getting or are likely to get. Remember when the question of what to do with the Shuffleboard Courts and building came up to the Commission? Direction was given, most strongly supported by Commissioner Mulvehill, to have a charette on the future use of the building. At our last Historic Preservation Board meeting last week, I asked about the schedule for the charette. William Waters, Director of the Sustainability Department, answered that it is scheduled for November 29th at 6 p.m. in the Shuffleboard Court building.

Click here for link to the city's meeting calendar. It is listed as "Lake Worth Community Center Charete." When I asked who was facilitating the charette, I was told that it would be Juan Ruiz, Director of Recreation and Kathleen Margoles, Assistant to the City Manager. Mr. Waters commented that he is probably expected to be there but he would rather spend the time preparing for the tri-joint meeting between the City Commission, Planning and Zoning Board and the Historic Resource Preservation Board that is scheduled for the following night, November 30th. That meeting will be held at the Golf Course Clubhouse.

The subject of that meeting will be the long-delayed creation of our new land development regulations - which will also address the height issue. That meeting is a work session too, so no action will be taken. Mr. Waters challenge is that about a third of the people that are going to be part of that meeting have had little exposure to the issues remaining to be resolved related to the land development regulations - what with all the recent advisory board appointments and the recent election.

In order for these meetings to be effective, especially the one regarding the Shuffleboard Court, the public is going to have to know about them and attend if possible. Since Ms. Stanton would have had the demolition equipment going a year ago - once the labor center moved out - do not look for much public information coming from the city regarding this meeting. Think about how the PBSO matter was handled and you have my prediction. Given the name of the meeting "Lake Worth City Center Charete", you would think other issues might be covered like the probable location of a future passenger train station along the FEC railway, location of a future city hall, other possible uses for the existing city hall, etc.

As far as a future use of the existing City Hall, I have always thought it would be best to return it to its original use as an auditorium. Then the city could hold Commission meetings there and have ample space to hold those people that want to attend and see what goes on - that is proving to be impossible given the current situation as evidenced by the fiasco on Monday morning during the swearing-in meeting. When not used for a city function, the city could market it to entertainers, have film nights and a myriad of other uses.

I am skeptical of the probable success and meaningfulness of both meetings - but the city could do something now in the way of promotion, at least for the one on the 29th.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interesting e-mail exchange regarding lack of county maintenance on beaches...

 This is from my neighbor that has the BookCycle.  He went to Kreusler Park and noticed a lot of seaweed etc. - apparently the County is not removing it anymore.  Their justification is on the sheet below.

Cities are insulting residents

PBP Editorial on city's push-back on the Inspector General's office - I don't think that Lake Worth is one of the city's which joined the lawsuit regarding the financing of the agency. Click title for link.

New Lake Worth mayor, commissioners vow to repeal fire assessment fee

The Post's take on the swearing-in ceremony which took place yesterday, click title for link.

Click here for live link to City Commission Meeting of 11/15

Click here for back-up and agenda.

New Business items A, F, G, H, and I have been pulled for consideration at a later date - motion made by Commissioner Maxwell.  Commissioner Maxwell is Vice Mayor, Commissioner Amoroso is Vice Mayor Pro Tem.  Commissioner Mulvehill is not present.  They are making the various representative appointments now.

They are now at the Census Complete Count Committee presentations.  Neither Annabeth Karson and Shauna Collican could attend tonight's meeting - previous obligations.  Ms. Karson says that they have fulfilled their contractual obligations.  Commissioner Maxwell is upset that they are not there and the City Manager says they can't compel them to come.  He says there is no back-up regarding the expenses related to the effort and he wants to hear it from the people who performed the service for the city.  Kathleen Margoles was going to make the presentation.  They have already been paid - by the City Manager - after she made the decision that the terms of the contract were met.  Commissioner Maxwell doesn't agree.  He is asking for the City Attorney to look in to legal recourse - the Mayor is now asking for the physical report of their effort.  Margoles is saying that they reported to the City Manager throughout the period that they were doing the work.  The City Attorney has to go back and re-read the contract.  Amoroso says that he needs to know what the research is - he is saying that we were going to get a report that would give us a full break-down on various population groups.  He thinks that they have the information and he is frustrated that the principals are not there to present the data.  The Mayor is asking what is the measure of whether their effort was a success or a failure.  Maxwell wants certified letters sent to them to ask them to attend at a future meeting.  It looks like it is coming back December 20th - they are going to look at the contract.

Public participation - I hear there are a lot of former city employees in the audience tonight.  Interesting story that Barbara Aubel told about finding what turned out to be a black-throated monitor lizard in her back yard.  It's an exotic endangered species that has never been found in the Florida wilds before.  It is now at a lizard zoo in Miami.  It is a female and she was concerned that it might have laid eggs in an unkempt city owned lot on J Street and wanted the city to mow and maintain the lot.  Another comment caught my attention.  Marshall Pass, while pointing out - along with many others - about the non-working speaker system in the hallway, also pointed out the locked City Manager area at the end of the hall leading to the Commission Chambers.  Besides being against fire codes, he observed a certain person from the Palm Beach Post using the keypad for entry into the area that is not otherwise accessible by the public, but apparently this person has a free pass.  Lynn Anderson also made the request to get the history of the city back on the walls - pictures of past Commissions and Mayors.  Brian Smith also brought up the IT allocation for the library as being excessive at $96,000 and when asked questions about it was told, by the City Manager, to refer the matter to the Inspector General.

Commissioner Maxwell brought the door and the lock of the City Manager's door - Stanton said that it will be down tomorrow.  She also said that the history will be put up during the coming week.  Makes me wonder where these orders were coming from...McVoy is bringing up the security issue and is referring to the Gabby Giffords incident.  He wants to hear why the locks and the doors came about.

Some of the Consent Agenda items were pulled - A,B, and C - since the Mayor had questions on them.  Mary Lindsey spoke under comment that this item was indeed one of those "shiny objects" that the Commission has talked about and it should be looked at and perhaps not be approved.  McVoy took issue with someone from the public who knew nothing about this system and is questioning a professional, Becky Mattey, and essentially blew her comments off.  Both Commissioner Maxwell and later Peter Timm under additional public comment expressed how improper that was for a Commissioner to call out a member of the public like that.  McVoy didn't apologize.

I was in and out of the room the rest of the time that the meeting was going on.  Fill in the blanks by commenting below.  There is a BIG workshop looking at beach and casino building related expenses this coming Monday at 6 p.m.  By the way, the meeting was adjourned at 9 p.m.  Mayor Triolo did a great job. The tone of the meeting, with the exception noted above, was much lighter in tone than other recent Commission meetings.  Maybe it is o.k. to laugh again?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Swearing in of Mayor Pam Triolo, Commissioner Maxwell and Commissioner Amoroso...

The seven videos below were taken by me this morning in the Commission Chambers.  I posted them as they were ready, so that means they are in reverse order.  So, if you want to get the flow of how things transpired, watch the last one first.  It was an overflow crowd and those that couldn't fit into the Commission Chambers were directed into the conference room adjacent to the Chambers.  People were complaining about the heat in both rooms - many fanning themselves.  Not sure what that was about.

Former Mayor Waterman left in a self-aggrandizing way by tallying all the votes she received in the three elections she was in over the past four and a half months.  She thanked the 4,000+ people that voted for her.  Really.  Both she welcomed Pam to the Mayorship and Commissioner Golden offered her support going forward.  She said that she gets rid of her crutches in four weeks and told people to watch for her "dancing in the streets."  Okay.

Commissioner Maxwell's speech was the longest of the morning and a MUST LISTEN requirement.  He really laid out the agenda coming up and things that will be addressed or re-addressed.  The special assessment for fire pension he wants to deal with in a week's time - to get rid of it.  He got emotional a couple of times and the crowd was very supportive.  BRAVO SCOTT!!

Mayor Pam Triolo was gracious and firm - the thing that I liked best was when she said that she wants Lake Worth to be worth more!  AMEN PAM!  Commissioner Amoroso expressed gratitude for his supporters - it was his birthday too and the crowd sang Happy Birthday to him.  He said people warned him not to drink the "Kool-Aid" - he said not to worry, he doesn't like Kool-Aid.

Listen to the them all - all deserving to be heard.  We are indeed on a new and better path.  I kept thinking what was going through City Manager Stanton's head.

Pics from Swearing-in Ceremony - City Commission Meeting


I biked there and back this morning - fun time - good feelings - go team!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A little gem from the historic designation report on the FORMER LW Casino building...

It appears that certain things are in the City of Lake Worth's DNA.  When the Casino building was last re-built in 1949, a bond of sorts was issued which pledged "surplus water and electrical revenues."  Need we say more.  The building was never officially designated as an example of International style architecture, but it was also significant in other ways.  I thought this nugget on the financing was of interest.  Click here for the full designation report.

This decision might have made more sense looking at the city's near and mid-term view of it's post WWII future.  Looking back at building permit records, the peak of construction activity - when our houses and neighborhoods were built - was in the 20 year period that followed.  When our world changed - with the new development north and west in Palm Beach County, the construction and opening of I-95, crime, etc., the reliance on our water and electric utility became a short-term answer to our long-term problems.  We are only starting to deal with this now.

It is important to realize that the city will have to pledge another source of reliable funds to secure the final financing of the NEW casino building.  What is that money to be pledged funding now?

Letter to the Editor sent to the Palm Beach Post...

Your coverage of the recent Lake Worth elections was marred by the use of the word “rowdy” when
describing the Pam Triolo Victory Party at the Casa de Mara last Tuesday evening. Those of us that
worked as Poll Watchers for 13 hours enjoyed this thoughtful celebration of thanks from the candidate.

Merriam Webster states that rowdy means: coarse, boisterous or rough, as characterized in local bars.
A more appropriate adjective would have been: jubilant, ecstatic, victorious, triumphant, energized,
cheerful, exuberant, gleeful, animated, exhilarated, jovial, merrymaking, joyous, spirited, inspired, or
vivacious, but certainly not “rowdy”. Perhaps your reporter was having a Rick Perry moment.
In any event, it would be propitious to buy him a new Roget’s International Thesaurus for Christmas.

Ed Sherry

2507 N Federal Hwy, Lake Worth FL 33460

This is penned by a neighbor who attended the election eve party and happens to live across the street from our new Mayor.  For those of you that still take the paper version of the PBP, keep a look out to see if it is published.

New Lake Worth leaders vow business-friendly climate

Click title for link to PBP article on some of the new Commission priorities. Interesting that Jeff Clemens is quoted as saying it is hard getting anything done with a two year election cycle, he who has that now with being a state representative. Of all of Lake Worth Mayors in recent history, I would rank him as one of the least effective and perhaps one that did the most harm. It was while he was on the dais that the city broke the Greater Bay public/private partnership agreement (which is not only costing the city a whole bundle of legal fees to defend, but will likely end up with a serious judgment against the city that will make the hill steeper to climb), brought in "drive-thru" Bob Baldwin, City Manager (who dealt with none of the city's long standing challenges) and used the position of Mayor to gain visibility for his eventual run for the State House seat. His endorsement of Rachel Waterman for Mayor in this last election was being true to the PBC Democratic Party apparatus, but her election would have been disastrous to Lake Worth in the long haul. But, you have to admit, as politicians go, he is a good one. There are good used car salesman too.