Saturday, January 21, 2012

Follow-up to Public Information Request - SFWMD Permit

The city notified me that the materials are ready for review at the Clerk's office.  I hope to be able to get in Monday to review them.  They are sparing the expense of copying everything and I can just pick and choose what I want copies of.  I did have one direct response from a Commissioner, Ms. Mulvehill.  Referring to an article in the PBP regarding the possibility of another drought period, we had this exchange:
There was no further response from our District #4 Commissioner.

E-mail Communications to and from Mulligan's - possible Casino tenant


I would like to take a second to introduce myself. My name is Ryan Pitman and I am with Mulligan's Beach House Bar & Grill ( Not sure if you have heard yet, We are looking to be the anchor tenants of the Casino project. We are a late addition to the party however feel very strongly that when the leases go up for review this week that we will be approved and welcomed by the residents of Lake Worth. 

I see you do a tremendous amount of blogging and really seem to hold the ear of the residents of this city. I wanted to invite you to help introduce us to the city through your blog. Nothing major, maybe just a link to our website, a couple pictures, and a little bit about us.  

We are owned and operated by George Hart. He holds a wealth of experience in this industry and is in the store daily working elbows deep with our staff. 

Here is the write up from our website-
George Hart

George Hart

Mulligan’s Beach House Bar & Grill, a fun, family-oriented concept, opened the first restaurant in Lauderdale By The Sea in 1998 and since then it has become one of the biggest food and entertainment attractions – and employers. The restaurant offers a dining and lounge experience in a tropical setting with a casual, friendly atmosphere.

Saratoga Springs, N Y native George Hart brings more than seventeen years experience to Mulligan’s, including stints at Hooter’s, TGI Friday’s, Garcia’s Mexican Restaurants and Applebee’s.
He moved to Ft Lauderdale in 1993 and has involved Mulligan’s in contribution efforts for Hibiscus Children’s Home, Big Brother/Big Sisters Organization, Junior Achievement, and Humane Society, Toys for Tots, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Cancer Society and The National Save The Turtle Foundation.

I personally grew up in Lake Worth and brought this location to George knowing first hand that we are the perfect match for this project. Mulligan's is a Restaurant first and a bar second! We currently operate four stores (Sebastian, Vero Beach, Jensen Beach, and Downtown Stuart). We are open every day of the year including Thanksgiving and Christmas and serve Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. We are also very financially stable so we will be here to stay! We stay away from anything that draws a rough crowd (loud full bands or hip hop dance nights) as we don't need those type of draws to be successful. We believe it takes three things to make it in this industry Great Food, Great Service, and a Clean Restaurant. We are anxiously anticipating taking the next steps in this project.

Please feel free to reply with any questions you may have about us! 

Thank you for reaching out and contacting me.  I appreciate the effort.  Here are a quick set of questions to get us started.  How did you find out about this location?  How many square feet are you willing to occupy and would you also consider the second floor?  What do you think about a second floor-only restaurant and its chance for success in this building?  Where else in Florida do you have restaurants?  Do you indoor or outdoor pictures that I could use to show those locations on the blog?

Thanks!  Looking forward to hearing from you.


Hi again.  I would like to put something on the blog today about your restaurant since your proposed lease appears on tomorrow night's City Commission meeting agenda.  Can you answer these questions?  If I don't hear from you soon, I will have to report that they have gone unanswered.  Hope to hear from you!


Sorry it took so long to reply, we had a very busy weekend and are gearing up for Tuesdays meeting! Here are the answers to your specific questions.

We saw updates on the news regarding the project multiple times. I having gown up spending summers at he beach have kept a close eye on the progress of the project. After hearing John G's wold not be returning brought it to Georges attention. He asked me to call and set up an apointment to tour the property. We toured the facility and immediately saw the potential in it. We spent the last couple weeks doing our homework and running numbers. 

We are looking to occupy the entire first floor on the northern end of the project, roughly 6,000 square feet.

I think a second floor restaurant could absolutely be succesfull. I myself have stood on the balcony of the second floor and the view is breathtaking to say the least. Whoever is looking to go above us will surely be succesfull. 

We currently operate 4 locations on the treasure coast. Sebastian, Vero Beach, Jensen Beach, and Stuart

Thanks in advance for your support! We are seriously excited about this project!

Sent from my iPad


Sorry I didn't get to say hi at the meeting on Tuesday. We jumped right into the mess that was Tuesday night! Anyhow, George (our owner) wrote a letter to the commission and I wanted to make sure you had an opportunity to see it. 

I look forward to meeting you at the next meeting!

January 18, 2012

To Lake Worth City Commissioners,

Last night’s City Commissioner meeting was shocking to me as I have spent weeks gathering and reviewing lease documents, financial statements, references, etc. for a lease to be approved for the Lake Worth Casino Project. I was told by the Realtor that this was simply a formality.

However after sitting through 4 hours of a meeting going nowhere I quickly realized that the commissioners are not viewing this decision properly and heading towards a decision that will leave their community disappointed with this project and a restaurant that Lake Worth will not be proud of.

I am insulted to be placed in the same category with Bokamper’s Sports Bar. After looking into their concept and their website I am appalled that the City of Lake Worth would even consider a place that does events as Bad Ass Bike Night and barely dress their employees.

I feel as certain commissioners are thinking too much about the initial bottom line and are not looking into what the community needs and wants in their back door. Lake Worth needs to build their reputation with Family Oriented locations, businesses that support the community in the way it needs to be supported. Bringing in a sports bar is not doing what is right for the community. As far as an owner of a restaurant saying sure we can serve breakfast or sure we can come up with another concept, that is not easy and if they do that it will not be done right. It takes years, and a strong infrastructure to build a new concept and to add another whole menu to a kitchen. This needs a different kitchen design, different cooks, and years of experience to do this properly. If you choose Bokamper’s you are selling out your entire community for a few dollars because you don’t have any pride in your project and think you can’t get anything better upstairs. That thinking is wrong and really disappointing coming from City Commissioners.

I have performed my due diligence before signing a letter of intent and presented the commissioners with a professional package of our financials, references, etc. in a timely manner and felt as I did what was required to be eligible for a lease. For a business to come in and toss a to-go menu up to the commissioner and state they will pay more money, is unprofessional and not the way this business should have been handled nor should they even be considered without a full proposal.

Mulligan’s Beach House is a company that has been successful doing breakfast, lunch and dinner for 15 years. We are a casual family seafoodrestaurant. Our list of references, donations and news stories of supporting the community that each commissioner was given speaks for itself. We are a restaurant that not only serves great food with fast friendly service to each customer we also highly support each community that we move in. Mulligan’s is what your community wants. We are a restaurant that knows how to handle high volume business, we are family owned and operated. I am in the restaurants every day and I am a hands on owner, constantly training my staff & managers, constantly looking for newbetter products for our menus, I am there talking to my customers and making sure everyone has a wonderful experience and will want to return.

Mulligan’s is currently on beach front locations we know the standards and regulations that need to be in place for the safety of our sea turtles and recycling policies to keep our beaches clean. We already follow those guidelines at our other beachfront properties and will guarantee that you will have a clean healthy place on your property. We have already hired architects and contractors to begin planning for this project and they will need time to get the proper paperwork and ordering process started. Holding this vote off for another month will just be very difficult on us or any other restaurant being considered to do all the work *properly* to build a
successful well-built restaurant. A decision is necessary in the next few weeks by the city commissioners to do this properly.

Mulligan’s Beach House does not promote their bar, we do not do shots, we do not do pitchers of beer, we simply sell a variety of tropical drinks, beer & wine to compliment your meal. Mulligan’s concentrates on families and pleasing all ages from 0 to 100. We are open 365 days a year giving families a place to celebrate all the holidays including Thanksgiving & Christmas with traditional turkey dinners and more holiday festivities.

I am asking that the city commissioners think seriously about your vision for the City of Lake Worth, if you do this you will clearly see Mulligan’s Beach House being the perfect fit for this location. I guarantee you that we will make Lake Worth proud; I guarantee you that once we are selected for that spot and other restaurateurs see the beautiful restaurant that we will build, you will be able to get the rent that is needed to fulfill all of your budget requirements.

Take a moment to view the websites and visit Mulligan’s and visit the Bokamper’s, imagine Bokamper’s with Welcome to the Jungle playing on their website and girls dressed in too tight shorts, wings & BBQ pork, customers smoking at the bar, more TV’S than people, imagine that on your beautiful beach front community…look good? No, now imagine Mulligan’s Beach House with the sounds of steel drums playing, fresh tuna, grouper & snapper on your plate, kids holding balloons, beautiful palm tree fabric booths, water lit bars and professionally dressed well-mannered employees serving your citizens, imagine that on your beautiful beach front community. Mulligan’s is the picture that your community envisions in that location, now you just have to make that vision become reality.


George Hart,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crime Up-date

Sent: 1/20/2012 1:55:19 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Fw: Arrest of Eric Sisson-Statue Thefts

FYI,  if anyone is missing singing frogs, lions and dogs, please email me your phone number and case number so we may contact you.

Officer K. Tucker-Carsillo
Crime Prevention Unit
West Palm Beach Police Dept
(561) 822-1620 office
----- Forwarded by Kelly Tucker-Carsillo/Police/WESTPALM on 01/20/2012 01:10 PM -----

From:        Adam Konesey/Police/WESTPALM
Date:        01/20/2012 12:41 AM
Subject:        Arrest of Eric Sisson-Statue Thefts

While working in cooperation with Detective Harper at PBSO in regards to the numerous statue thefts in Lake Worth and West Palm Beach, three suspects were identified as being the main persons committing all of these thefts. The three suspects are Ernie King, Armando Ruiz and Eric Sisson.

Tonight around 6pm PBSO stopped Sisson in his white van in Lake Worth on a traffic offense. Eric was with another subject identified as Pedro Morales. Eric was transported and agreed to speak with us regarding all of the thefts. Eric confessed to the theft of the patio table on Selkirk to Detective Harper. Eric ended up confessing to me four more cases that I could connect him to.

Ernie King and Armando Ruiz were not located but are still being sought.The investigation is still ongoing. Eric was charged with Petit Theft and Dealing in Stolen Property. Hopefully the South end Thefts will cease. Excellent Joint-Agency Investigation!      

Local News Covers Corruption Trial With Puppets

Maybe we can re-enact City Commission meetings this way? Click title for link to article. Here is how the report appeared on local TV.

Note:  Dialog not appropriate for work environments.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jimmy Carter

“We must make it clear that a platform of 'I hate gay men and women' is not a way to become president of the United States.”

The Beach: Promises made, promises not kept

During their individual campaigns, candidates and elected officials make promises to those who elect them (us) to serve as our representatives.  In fact, 2012 is a presidential election year and already we are hearing promises being made by those running in the various primaries leading to the upcoming November election.  The public, however, has become increasingly cynical about whether these campaign promises really mean anything.  They see the current stalemate in Washington as an example of a system that is broken.  They have lost faith in the ability of their elected representatives to make good on their campaign promises.

Have we done any better in Lake Worth?  There is one subject that has consumed most of the elections for the past 30 or so years here and that is the beach.  I think it is an important exercise to review where we stand in relation to promise keeping and the current beach project – especially due to its importance in the elections here over the years.  While the City hasn't kept some key promises related to the on-going beach project, it is still possible to keep the most important ones – those related to taxpayers' money.  What Commissioner Maxwell was talking about at the last regular City Commission meeting is the possibility to roll all project costs – above the $5 million previously stated grant amount and total beach project budget, as promised to our Commission's constituents – so that it is completely financed not by the utility rate-payers – but by those that chiefly benefit from the project.  This can be done either by tenants of the new Casino building or by parking lot users – it doesn't matter in the end about the proportion of how this is done.

Let's go to the first promise those on the dais made about the current beach redevelopment project.  “We are going to save the Casino building.”  Words like “restore” and “rehabilitate” were used frequently in public meetings.  Contractors were brought in by candidates claiming that they could save the existing building, that it was economically possible to save the building and that we would return it to its original 1922 “look.”  The Commission interviewed architects and these architects were chosen based on their ability to “save the building.”  As the city went forward with the project, it soon became apparent that this was “Mission Impossible.”  That didn't stop the city administration from proclaiming that this was still a rehabilitation project for the “existing building.”  The Palm Beach Post even picked up on the line being spun from the city that the “building was being gutted and not torn down.”  As the building came down before our eyes, yours truly made a complaint to the Office of the Inspector General about the validity of the city's position.  In September of last year, the OIG issued a report and found that the project represented a “substantial improvement” (building code language for NEW construction.)  The OIG concluded that 94% of the building value was to be considered a substantial improvement – only 6% of the original part of the building was saved.  Thus, the the first promise made by the City was not kept.

The second promise revolved around the city's former anchor tenant “John G's.”  They were part of the reason that the former building was still a destination, for tourists and people from all over South Florida, despite its condition.  Well, despite campaign promises and a lot of hoopla, John G's is now in a renovated restaurant space in Manalapan's Plaza del Mar and has no intention of coming back.  Now the city is in the business of searching for an anchor tenant or tenants to fill the void.  Promise number two, made to the public, was not kept.  Related to this was really a third promise that the city would make all sorts of efforts to keep the existing tenants that were in the building when it was closed.  Looking at the list of prospective tenants presented to the Commission to date leaves one to question how much this promise will be fulfilled.  And if it is, it may be done solely to satisfy the special interest of contributors to a certain Commissioner's campaign.

The fourth promise was that the “existing historic building” would be “rehabilitated” to a high LEED green building standard.  This was part of the package that sold the public on the project – and the elected or to be re-elected officials that proposed it.  We, the citizens, need to have a current status report on this, but from what I have seen there have been change orders related to the HVAC system and other aspects of the project that put more and more responsibility on the tenants themselves – in their build-out – to help the city achieve this promise.  And it really is more than just the city making a promise, according to state law, any new municipal structure now has to meet a minimal standard for green building practices.  We won't know for sure if the building will be certified in this manner until it is open, the tenants move in and the certification happens – after the ribbons are cut and the politicians have gone home, retired or have been re-elected.  We won't know how the city's promise number four fairs for a while.

The fifth promise, one that the city still has an opportunity to make good upon is that the project would pay for itself.  All of the casino building “improvements” would be paid for through the tenant leases – at market rates and that improvements to the parking areas and the remainder of the property would be through the Palm Beach County grant of $5 million.  In the County's interlocal agreement with the city on funding the $5 million worth of improvements on our beach, it specifically identifies the following:  “improvements to the existing drainage and utility infrastructure” and “undergrounding upper dune electrical facilities.”  In fact, Commissioner Maxwell recently verified that these utility costs were and are expected to be paid with the County grant money by an e-mail from Jon Van Arnam, Palm Beach County, Assistant County Administrator.

He responded as follows:  “Commissioner:  Regarding the Agreement for funding the improvements at the Lake Worth Beach,  Exhibit A-1 is the project description and Exhibit A-3 is the cost estimate.  Both Exhibits list 17 numbered items along with nine bulleted items and all items were intended to be covered by the $5 million appropriation.”

So not only the public has the impression of this promise being made, but also our grant giver, Palm Beach County does as well.  So apparently did our former City Manager in a March 2010 e-mail  exchange with yours truly:

WB:  Would "spending money we don't have" include work on the casino building?

SS:  No.... There is not a single dollar of tax payer money dedicated or programed for this project.  Which.... I suspect is not relevant to .... most people's opposition.

WB:  I do not oppose the project. I oppose any misrepresentation of reality.

SS:  I agree....  Like saying it is paid for with taxpayers money.  I guess.... Gee, we agree

SS:  The revenue will come from the money generated by rents, parking fees and making tenants not only actually pay their rent but CAM as well.  The city will stop, like the electric fund, sucking money from the beach to pay for things it can not afford...but wants to have.    

I know this sounds radical.  Maybe even unacceptable.  Even unlawful....  But it really is how most well run governments operate every day ....less the drama we do on to ourselves LW.

Rather conveniently, we are now presented with the prospect of improving utilities at the beach with the city's own utility funds – as a “cost of doing business.”  We hear from staff that “we would need to extend utilities to a new business anyway” and that “there is work on utilities that needs to be done on the beach property that had to be done anyway” as justification for using money from the city's utility for the project.  And this is just recently.  Now, this is not just the taxpayers' money, as identified by the former city manager, but utility customer money.  The City Commission needs to be reminded that every Lake Worth resident is essentially a utilities customer and most of them are taxpayers.  These millions of dollars are our money.  It is also money from people who the City Commission does not represent – in Palm Springs and unincorporated Palm Beach County. It is their money too.  They don't elect our City Commissioners and have no recourse with the Public Service Commission as to our rate structure or how the city spends their hard earned money they pay the City every month in their utility bills.

Don't discount this either – 80% of the City's total budget revenue is utility related.  In fact, the City Commission is more of a utility commission than a city commission and in a very serious way has more of a responsibility as far as the total budget is concerned to utility customers than to taxpayers.  But as had been shown time after time, the city finds it easier to fleece the utility customer than the taxpayer – the city is limited on the amount of millage that we charge based upon property valuation, but theoretically has no limit on how much it charges the utility customer.  That is why the City is in the situation it finds itself in today – with one of the highest utility rates in the state and especially in relation to other municipalities in Palm Beach County.

This is not the first time that the city undertook a renovation project at the beach.  In 1949, the city repaired and modified the Casino building after it had been destroyed by a hurricane in 1947.  I did some research on how the city handled the financing of those improvements and found something that is consistent with how the city has done things since.  According to City Commission minutes from 1949, $185,000 ($1.68 million in 2011 dollars) worth of Municipal Recreation Revenue Certificates were issued to “be repaid by the revenues from the use of the facilities along with surplus water and electrical revenue.”  City Commission Minutes 8/8/49  The city, in retrospect, could afford to do that in 1949.  Our city ancestors were about to go through a booming post World War II economy, improvements in transportation, greater wealth for a middle class eager to travel from cold northern climates to a warm, tropical one.  Most of the city's housing stock was built during the 50s and 60s. It was a bet that paid off.  We don't face the same circumstances anymore and instead face challenging economic times and an erosion of the middle class.  Utilities need to be paid every month and here they are not cheap.  The City Commission has to be careful using utility funds for purposes that don't drive down our customer utility rates.

We need to find a way for the additional costs associated with the beach to be solely supported by the beach.  Only then will the City be able to claim that it kept one of its original promises.

Click here for link to a narrative history of the former Lake Theater buildilng...

Now home to the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. Opening ceremonies are happening today!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fact-checking from 1/17/12 City Commission Meeting

One of the items brought up last night was the length of service by now Commissioner Christopher McVoy on the Planning, Zoning, Historic Resource Preservation Board.  He mentioned his experience on the board in relation to supporting the notion that the newly separated boards remain separate and are not recombined.  A resident from the audience questioned him on his length of service and how it qualified him to make that statement.  This particular resident had thought that it had been "for all of 14 days."  After public comments, Commissioner McVoy responded that he had indeed served for four or five months.

I thought that was easy enough to check, so I went to the City's website and looked at the minutes of the PZHRPB for the year 2010 - the year that Commissioner McVoy was elected to office and also the year that he was appointed to the PZHRPB.
If you look at the head of the minutes from their April 7, 2010 meeting (above), Christopher McVoy was being sworn in, along with Laurence McNamara.
 If you look at the minutes of the August 18, 2010 meeting (above) and then go to the last page (part of which is below), you can read where the board is acknowledging Mr. McVoy absence after he resigned to run for office.
As best as I can tell, there were 11 meetings of this board during this time period -  roughly four months.  From what I could see he had good attendance, but did not read all of those minutes to determine if he left early, came late or whatever.  But that is the record.  At the time, I saw his appointment as a needed "filling out" of his resume in order to run, which is probably the case.  Never say I don't do something nice - like tell the truth - concerning Commissioner McVoy.

On another matter, Commissioner Maxwell made reference to the utility costs being identified in the Interlocal Agreement between the City of Lake Worth and Palm Beach County for the beach improvements.  What appears below is a page from the agreement - the three arrows highlight the location of where utility-related improvements are identified - and all were at one time recognized as being paid for through the $5 million.
Remember back when the costs for the 19 acre beach property were being discussed with Morganti et al?  Someone from Michael Singer's office was in the audience basically "having a cow" while the costs were being explained.  He was certain that all of the work (above) could have been done for $5 million.  Eventually, he was told by our former City Manager to pipe down as this was an un-programmed bit of information that she didn't know how to handle.  After the meeting, they met together in her office.  I am not sure what happened there, but he made it clear he was there on his own time and that he just wanted this project "done right."  Courtesy of Ms. Stanton, we haven't seen him since.

Videos from 1/17/12 City Commission Meeting - Discussion of Beach/Casino Costs

PYHO Event this Saturday in Lake Worth!

Another Paint Your Heart Out Event this Saturday Starting at 9AM @ 3324 Gulfstream Road LW Fl 33461 - Directions are 10th Ave North east of military to Gulfstream road and south to 3324  Hope to see some of our fellow painters out and we will be working with a group by the name of BLAST!  Hope to see you there :-)

Letter from Historic Resource Preservation Board that I read under public comment at the 1/17/12 Commission Meeting...

"We are proud to serve on the City of Lake Worth's Historic Resource Preservation Board.  We take the board's duties and responsibilities seriously, acting to preserve the many historical resources found in the city's built environment.  We hope to take a key role in the upcoming celebration associated with the city's centennial in 2013.

Even though the board's primary focus is preservation of the city's past, we also are concerned about the city's future.  The city cannot adequately protect its physical heritage if it doesn't have the regulatory structure and staff needed to support that effort.  We are looking forward to our joint meeting with the City Commission and Planning and Zoning Board on the completion of city's land development regulations.

While that will go a long way in laying down the regulatory framework for future redevelopment in the city, the rules are only the beginning.  Staff of sufficient quantity and quality is needed to make sure that the city's wishes, as embodied in those regulations, are carried out on a day-in, day-out basis.

We are aware that the 2011 City of Lake Worth budget includes many positions within the Sustainability Department that are designed to meet the existing and future needs of the city.  Traditionally, the city has under-staffed planning department functions in relation to the size of the city and the complexities unique to Lake Worth.  The positions included in this budget address historical staffing deficiencies in this critical area.  The operational efficiencies afforded by these positions pay off in improved quality of life for residents, property owners and business owners.  More than any other department, the work of the Sustainability Department, over the long term, contributes to the city's "bottom line" in the form of increased property values and greater private investment in property throughout the city.

Therefore, we urge the City Commission to preserve the positions already in the approved 2011 budget and look elsewhere to find opportunities to make up any shortfalls.  Time is of the essence, especially as the city experiences the initial signs of an improving economy.  Thank for your attention to these matters."

Lake Worth approves casino leases, then rescinds two of them in early-morning vote

A more recent up-date. From the article:

"It's an embarrassment," Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill said, referring to the time spent approving, then rescinding leases with Fox Surf and Beach Shop and NYPD Pizza.

Mulvehill, who voted against rescinding the newly approved leases, left the commission chambers and paused to regain her composure before reentering the meeting.

"I'm shaking," she said.

I wonder if Willie provided comfort and aid? Click title for link. Her campaign contributors will have another shot on 1/31.

Johnny Longboats' pitch to Lake Worth booted as commissioners narrow plans for beach casino

Willie's take on last night's festivities. Seems I missed all the fun when I left at 8:30 p.m. Click title for link.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

City Commission Regular Meeting 1/17/12

Click here for back-up.  Click here for live stream.  A,B,D,E,L are moved from the consent agenda to new business.  Maxwell points out that these are all utility related and suggests they have a separate meeting on those in the future.  He suggests putting together a utility only meeting on a regular basis - like once a month.  The Mayor suggests other topical meetings with other departments.  Mulvehill asks if any of them are immediate _"We're running a city.  And we can't keep delaying."  Mattey came in the room but hasn't spoken yet.  She says that SFWMD needs an answer on the modeling to prevent them from setting the limit too low - we are past deadline now.  The permit process is extended.  If the modeling is not done, our permit would be 3.0 MGD limit instead of a little over 5 MGD.  The Mayor says that it is important and should not be on consent - items are placed on consent by the clerk's and city manager's office.  McVoy says that if we are concerned about having a higher limit and don't want to move up the RO plant, then we have to do the modeling.  Maxwell makes a motion for another meeting on utility related items.  Second by Amoroso.  McVoy suggests that we deal with E tonight.  Amoroso includes E as discussion for tonight.  Maxwell agrees.  Mayor says that we need to plan better on these topics.  Mulvehill is concerned that we are backing up and we are not addressing these items.  The Mayor doesn't like things that have been hanging around for years and now appearing on our agenda.  Maxwell points out that if Commissioners were present at recent meetings, eh hem, that they could have taken care of business faster.  There seems to be agreement that this is a heavy agenda.  Motion passes with Mulvehill dissenting.  I didn't catch the date for the special meeting on these items.  Agenda approved unanimously.
Presentations.  This one by Commissioner Mulvehill regarding Stalking Awareness Month.  Palm Beach County declared January 2012 Stalking Awareness Month as well.  Update from Planning and Zoning Board by Lynda Mahoney, Chair.  Much emphasis placed on the backgrounds and experiences of those on the board.  Bryant Park presentation, Herman Robinson.  Public comment.  Amoroso admits outsourcing is not getting the work done in many ways - downtown, the Cultural Plaza - looking at bringing people that care back.  He is for a Veteran's Day parade - need volunteers, he is talking to the downtown people to bring it back.  There is too much on this agenda and not for extending Mattey's contract.  Mulvehill - outsourcing was a 1.2 million savings, can go back and hire but it will cost money.  $4.5 million in inventory just in the utility department, 1.2 million in surplus, need a good way to manage inventory.  McVoy reminds us that the Commissioner's responsibility is not in hiring other than the city manager, stripping 12th Avenue, can find out whose responsibility it is.  Heard that an increase in staff in Sustainability Department and he agrees.  He wants public comment in the minutes by name.  Says that many people think that the city is not looking as good as it used to and point to the public work departments.  Nobody wanted to raise taxes, we are feeling the effects.  We have to pay for it.  Maxwell commented about the smoking resolution and if Lynn Anderson wanted it brought back.  She said yes.  He asked how much a parade costs in this city - Veteran's Day will be in the next fiscal year's money.  Regarding the audio, there are changes that were a bandaid sort of approach.  There is a request out to bid, according to the Mayor - she personally asked for this.  She wants us to hear everything.  Maxwell also asks that Pam bring back something regarding how to better document these meetings with some sort of indexed audio for easier searching.  He did not feel it appropriate to compensate someone beyond their contract.  The Mayor is also uncomfortable about the compensation beyond the contract for employment.  Likes the Green Fences idea.  She has also almost tripped on pavers in the downtown.  Clean-up is important and points out about the additional traffic through the downtown due to the closing of the Lantana bridge.  She wants us to be the shining jewel that we are.  According to the city attorney, the city cannot regulate smoking.  McVoy says he was on P&Z longer than 14 days, more like three or four months.

Consent agenda, what is left, is approved unanimously.

Public hearings:  Annexation 2002 Lake Worth Road (NE corner Boutwell and Lake Worth Road.)  All yeas.  And then the zoning and land use designation for that property.  All yeas.  Same on next item.  And the last item in public hearings.

Unfinished business:  Maxwell's item.  He is talking about commitments made as part of the beach project and the unanticipated costs that are about to be passed on to the utility customers.  He asks that the overage be rolled into a loan and he wonders if there is any interest in discussing this possibility.  Mulvehill wants to have Mr. Carr to discuss what the implications are with an additional $2 million in loan funds.  MANY VIDEOS HERE  - WILL BE POSTED TOMORROW.  Had to leave at 8:30 p.m.

Public Information Request...

I put in a public information request for the SFWMD Water Use Permit application and the "density dependent model" talked about in the back-up material for item 8E on tonight's agenda.  This "density dependent model" was put together to show the ultimate density of Lake Worth, which along with height limitations, have significant planning implications.  What future did those that decided it have in mind for Lake Worth?  Does that "density dependent model" assume a city of buildings no more than 35 feet in height?  By going with the County water deal, which would have more of a likelihood of an abundant supply of water - at a price, have been a threat to those that think that "over-development" is the biggest worry the city faces?  By going with our own RO plant, did we tie ourselves to a growth pattern that might be considered more rural than urban?  How was this "density dependent model" linked, if at all, to the city's Comprehensive Plan?  How much capacity can the RO plant ultimately supply and how does that jive with the current draw limitations coming from SFWMD?  How much electricity does the RO plant use when it is built out to its maximum capacity?  Where does this power come from?  How is this part of "sustainable" development?  Are we already "in the hole" in terms of our current water use and what is ultimately permitable?  Why is such an important item on the consent agenda?  That question I have an answer for - to protect those who made these decisions from facing hard questions.

I am sure that Commissioner McVoy, formerly with SFWMD, can shed abundant light on the situation.  After all, he has a doctorate, is a scientist and drinks data like coffee.

I will add that this is part of the new "glasnost" that we are experiencing after the departure of our former city manager.  This is but one of many upcoming revelations.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Another kind of water worry...

One of the unique things about tomorrow night's City Commission agenda... the length of the consent agenda.  Item 8E sheds some light on our water permit situation with SFWMD and might go a long way in explaining why I heard a whole lot of nothing back on the status of our withdrawal permit from SFWMD.  At the time, a few months ago, other municipalities and the unincorporated county went back to normal watering times.  Lake Worth remains, although it is hard to tell, on the most strict watering standards.

A brief bucket of history:  We had to find another source of water other than the Surficial Aquifer that the city has relied upon for years due to evidence of saltwater intrusion.  After an aborted attempt at permitting for an ocean outfall for our Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant, we then went to Palm Beach County for water and then broke that contract and went back to building our own RO plant which is now getting rid of its waste through deep well injection.  That method is much more unknown than the effects of an ocean outfall, but politically impossible in this day and age.  However, there may be unforeseen circumstances springing from deep well injection that we won't know for many years into the future.

Well the RO plant is running and, according to the back-up memo, we made the assumption that SFWMD was going to give us a permit to draw 5.3 MGD in the dry season and 6.0 in the wet season on average from the Surficial aquifer.  (M is for millions, G is for gallons and D is for day) After many go-arounds with permitting and responding to SFWMD questions, they are only willing to give us 3.0 MGD in the dry season and 3.4 MGD in the wet season.  This application work was taken through the permitting process by none other than Mock-Roos.  The back-up memo says that the contract for that work was approved on February 25, 2010, but going to the city's website under 2010 City Commission meetings, there was no meeting on February 25th.  The memo doesn't indicate the dollar amount of that contract.

The contract to do further modelling is an attempt to satisfy SFWMD concerns that the city's requested rate of withdrawal will not create more salt-water intrusion that otherwise would occur naturally and is priced at $61,800.

What this means is that the city expected SFWMD to go along with the city's request that would NOT require EXPANSION of the just finished RO plant until 2017.  If SFWMD doesn't approve that rate of withdrawal, we will have to expand our JUST FINISHED RO plant to accommodate a greater withdrawal from the Floridan aquifer (source for the RO plant.)  Assumptions have been made that pushed off expansion into the future that allowed for lower rates - remember the RO plant was funded through water rate increases.  And, I remember many go-arounds by the Commission on how big to make the plant initially.  It is my understanding that it can double its capacity eventually, but at a cost.

Suddenly things are more clear - expect to be paying more for water in the future.

And this...

While at the beach two weekends ago, I saw no less than five dogs on leashes with owners.  Is this being enforced or can Mars go to the beach too?

Also from the 1/13/12 City Manager's Report...

Commnunity Sustainability Highlights

The Historic Resources Preservation Board met this week and elected new officers.  Manny Occhiogrosso will be the Chair again and Wes Blackman will be the Vice Chair.  At the same meeting the Board approved three (3) requests for Certificates of Appropriateness for changes to residential structures.

Lectures this week with the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmstead by Justin Martin
311 Peruvian Avenue
$20 non-members - $10 members - Patron and above members free

Frederick Law Olmsted is arguably the most important historical figure that the average American knows the least about. Best remembered for his landscape architecture, from New York’s Central Park to Boston’s Emerald Necklace to Stanford University’s campus, Olmsted was also an influential journalist, early voice for the environment, and abolitionist credited with helping dissuade England from joining the South in the Civil War. Most of all, he was a social reformer. He didn’t simply create places that were beautiful in the abstract. An awesome and timeless intent stands behind Olmsted’s designs, allowing his work to survive to the present day. With our urgent need to revitalize cities and a widespread yearning for green space, his work is more relevant now than it was during his lifetime. Justin Martin restores Olmsted to his rightful place in the pantheon of great Americans.

Justin Martin, author of highly praised biographies of Alan Greenspan and Ralph Nader, lives in Forest Hills Gardens, New York, an enclave of New York City designed by Olmsted’s son. Justin Martin articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Fortune, Newsweek, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Martin is a 1987 graduate of Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Note:  I am just finishing this book.  If any of you are interested in going and sharing a ride, please let me know.

Pics of Casino Building per 1/13/12 City Manager's Report

This is the ballroom on the second floor - which, to me, seems to have a lower ceiling height than what is usually found in ballroom sorts of spaces.  Anyone know how many square feet this area ended up being?
From the "This and That File" - things that don't fit neatly anywhere else.  I bumped into a few readers of all the Lake Worth blogs over the weekend.  It seems that a majority think that a certain blogger, famous for her collection of pit-bull pics, finds pleasure in self-populating comments under her own blog posts.  Also, while this particular blogger uses every opportunity to disparage the work of Mr. Kroll, a while ago I discovered this tidbit of history concerning the "two-way" 2nd Avenue North incident.  It seems that Mr. Kroll was on a planned vacation and, prior to his return, Ms. Stanton instructed crews to go out there and stripe the road for two-way traffic, in a completely unilateral action undertaken by the city.  Upon his return, Mr. Kroll was surprised to see the work done while he was away, with the knowledge that permits and cooperation with various agencies hadn't taken place.  Was this a set-up by our former City Manager?  Remember the fiasco regarding the no parking area on 16th Avenue North near the MadHatter?  Was that part of the same scheme?  That "solution" also turned out to be part of Ms. Waterman's campaign, aided and abetted by the former City Manager.

Anyway, food for thought.

Florida Propaganda Film ca. 1955

West Palm Beach/Palm Beach are featured around the 8 minute mark.

Taking Parking Lots Seriously, as Public Spaces -

Paved, but Still Alive
Published: January 6, 2012
We need to take parking lots more seriously, architecturally, and to think of them as public spaces, as part of the infrastructure of our streets and sidewalks.
Click title for link to article.  A local example:


“On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question, "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beware the Trojan Horse...

From yet another astute reader, this one was even "certified" for a while...

With all this talk by some about the need for our new City Manager to have the ICMA (International City Managers Association) "credential," it's important to point out that "credential" only requires that one have a certain combination of experience and education, the taking of an "Applied Knowledge Assessment" (not a pass/fail test) and an annual payment of a fee to the ICMA.  Here is what one knowledgeable reader (who is inside the city management profession) shared with me this weekend:

"While I agree the best thing this new commission did was to fire Susan Stanton, I believe the process they are now following was a complete setup by Stanton and the progressives.  Knowing of the eventuality of her termination, I believe Stanton and Margoles (and maybe Carr) laid out a cleverly planned set of actions this commission is now following (or stuck with).  On the night of her firing, staff immediately jumped into this "we must find another wonderful ICMA Credentialed Manager" and quickly brought in Kurt Bressner and the Range Riders (other ICMA managers without current employment).  The ensuing discussions and debates have set up the need for the City to ONLY HIRE AN ICMA CREDENTIALED MANAGER - and all others be damned.  Ms. Anderson is the public ring-leader for this new cause, actually posting the resumes of candidates who have the ICMA seal of approval.  Only Credential Managers make her grade.  All others are dismissed.  And I must ask - Is the sign of a good City Manager to have multiple jobs in the past 25 years?  Are more jobs better because it makes for a longer resume?  I don't know about you, but I'd rather see a professional with 2 or 3 jobs over the past 25 years than someone with 10 or more jobs over the same time frame.

I can tell you many years ago I was a member of ICMA, just as Margoles is now.  Nothing special - you just pay an annual membership fee.  In my case the annual fee was about $400.  The annual fee was always paid by my employer.  Everyone reading this (if posted) could join ICMA for about $200 per year.  If you work for a government the fee increases to a fixed % of your annual salary.  Trust me on this - ICMA probably doesn't care who becomes a member, they just want the $$$.  It reminds me of the GFOA CAFR Award of Excellence that Stanton bought for the City's finance department.  All you need to do is submit the CAFR along with the outlandish fee and if you prepared the CAFR correctly you win the award.  Most decent finance departments in America have these silly plaques hanging on a wall somewhere.  There are so many CAFR Excellence awards given each year ICMA actually prints a bound book listing the award recipients.

My concern is the City is now locked into a manager search in which everyone is fixated only on ICMA Credentialed managers.  This greatly reduces the potential field of qualified candidates and leaves out others who could easily handle the responsibilities.  Past City Directors come to mind, also people like Joan Oliva from the CRA.  These people know the City and its problems.  They also know the pitfalls of the politics here.  Bringing in some stranger from another part of the state, or from another part of the country, probably is not in this City's best interest.  These "strangers" would not know what they were getting into.  Yes, they may have loads of past government jobs under their belt (that is a whole different issue) and have paid their annual ICMA dues to make them so wonderful to the world, but they may easily be destroyed by the toxic politics and severe social problems we experience.  Or  maybe they are a Trojan Horse plant and come in to serve the other side and continue to prop up and support the progressive / anarchist agenda.

In summary, it seems the moment Stanton was fired this new ICMA Credentialed Manager strategy appeared at staff's suggestion, and within days there was Bressner making the case.  What does this City need and what do the elected officials want - someone they know and respect, or a complete stranger who just happens to have have his or her employer pay the annual ICMA dues to make them appear better than any other candidate - by paying ICMA to receive that word "credentialed".  Likewise, the City should not hire a "toadie" - a Scott Maxwell puppet (Ms. Anderson's phrase) - but this new commission majority has the chance to bring in a leader more concerned with fixing the problems in this City and undoing the recent wrongs brought about by the progressives - than in displaying their plagues and awards.  Yes, being a Range Rider (very self-service group, I'd say) or credential ICMA manager is good, but it should not be a flat out requirement.  And I'm sure there are several great, local people willing and able to step in and take control of this City without the need for a big state-wide or national search."

In response, I pointed out the difference between the ICMA "credential" and the American Planning Association (APA) credential of American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP.)  Not only do you need a requisite combination of education and experience and payment of an annual fee, you need to PASS a test that determines your level of familiarity and mastery of core planning principles and history.  Not everyone who takes this test passes and there is a cottage industry to prepare those who take the test.  I know some people who have taken the AICP exam two and three times before they pass.  They also change the test every year and include many current topics relevant to the planning profession.  After you pass the test, you get a certificate indicating such and the privilege of using AICP behind your name in professional correspondence, letterheads, business cards, etc.  However, you are also required to maintain your certification by gaining continuing education credits through approved courses each year.  This is much more of a REAL credentialing program than that of the ICMA.  So, the question remains, why are some fixated on it to such a degree?

I would also state that the term "progressives" is grossly misused in describing those that support the former Commission majority.  And, I also should mention that this person used a more colorful name when identifying Ms. Anderson...

More from our astute reader:

"Yes, the AICP and even LEED-AP are different in that you need to pass a test then maintain the certification through routine continuing education.  ICMA is simply a membership.

Yes to your thought about Stanton selling her soul to support the extreme left wing agenda of the progressive / anarchist group.  The mere fact that she was turned down on 300 consecutive job interviews should say something about her / him as a candidate.  This also goes to my concern that hiring a complete unknown person (Editor: Which would be encouraged by requiring ICMA certification) opens up the possibility of a Trojan Horse candidate.  I can see the five commissioners finding and settling on a certain candidate who initially appeases all sides, then that person turns out to be another Stanton-like manager. Or the hiring of an unknown may present a very short-term manager who quickly finds out that the quagmire of issues is overwhelming and runs for the hills, only after picking up his 6 months of severance."

January Mango Groves Meeting

Please join us next Thursday night, 1/19/12, 7pm, at Compass, for the monthly Mango Groves Neighborhood Association meeting. If you are in possession of a sign we ask that you put it out at this time too. We will be having our election and swearing in of officers at this meeting, along with an update from PBSO.

Have a great weekend, MGNA Board of Directors