Saturday, November 17, 2012

My first trip (to eat) at Mulligan's

 Bill and I rode our bikes to the beach tonight to try out Mulligan's for the first time.  There is an air of improvisation there with the portable lights set up around the traffic circle north of the building.  There were what seemed to be two golf carts ferrying people back and forth from the dark parking lot to the south.  We were able to park and lock our bikes across the street, in front of the casino building.  There were two "racks" made of non-corrosive material - good choice here.
 The restaurant is cool to see at night since the lighted bar top makes quite an impression.  It reminds you that you are on the ocean, even if it is hard to tell that at night.
 Mulligan's seemed about 2/3 to 3/4 full when we were there around 6:45 or so.  More people were coming in as we ate and while we were leaving.  I must tell you, it did not seem like the typical Lake Worth clientele - definitely a little more upscale than what you find on Lake Avenue.  It is on Palm Beach island, after all.
 It was a bit breezy and the plastic curtains were down so that food and napkins didn't blow around if you chose to be in the outdoor seating area.

 There was a banner hanging by the entrance that said they will be open Thanksgiving Day - no word on a special menu - but it may be a nice place to hang out before or after your dinner.
 The furniture and fixtures were first rate.  I liked the floor treatment and the interior walls look like they were done with hardy board siding which gave it a beachy feel.
 I had the Baja Fish Tacos for $12.95.  They were good and the portion size adequate.  I opted for the cole slaw instead of the rice.  You could have any side you want.
 Bill had the Black and Blue Burger which was around $11.  They have an extensive drink menu and an assortment of beer and wine - which we did not have due to our mode of transportation.  Just water with lemon thank you very much.  Also helped keep the cost down.
The total bill was $30 including tax and tip.  Not quite the egalitarian eatery some of our leaders envisioned, but you had the sense that you were getting what you paid for.  The food was good and so was the atmosphere.  I'll have to go back during the day and enjoy the nice view of the ocean.

Handy word to know in addition to cabal: Granfalloon

In preparation for the special election on height limits in the downtown this coming March, it's good to get to know the meaning of the word Granfalloon.

From Wikipedia:

Granfalloon Technique

The granfalloon technique is a method of persuasion in which individuals are encouraged to identify with a particular granfalloon or social group. The pressure to identify with a group is meant as a method of securing the individual's loyalty and commitment through adoption of the group's symbols, rituals, and beliefs. In social psychology the concept stems from research by the British social psychologist Henri Tajfel, whose findings have come to be known as the minimal group paradigm. In his research Tajfel found that strangers would form groups on the basis of completely inconsequential criteria. In one study Tajfel subjects were asked to watch a coin toss. They were then designated to a particular group based on whether the coin landed on heads or tails. The subjects placed in groups based on such meaningless associations between them have consistently been found to "act as if those sharing the meaningless labels were kin or close friends."

Researchers since Tajfel have made strides into unraveling the mystery behind this phenomenon. Today it is broken down into two basic psychological processes, one cognitive and one motivational. First, knowing that one is a part of this group is used to make sense of the world. When one associates with a particular group, those in the group focus on the similarities between the members. This is different from people not in the group. For "outsiders" differences are focused upon and often exaggerated. A problem with the granfalloon is that it often leads to in-group, out-group bias. Second, social groups provide a source of self-esteem and pride, a form of reverse Groucho Marxism as in his famous remark "I don't care to belong to any club that would have me as a member."

Follow link for footnoted version.

Manassas News & Messenger and, top Prince William news sources, closing down - The State of NoVa - The Washington Post

Click title for link for the latest obituary of traditional print - and now on-line - media sources which cover local government.  From the article:
Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart (R-At Large) said that he noticed that as the News & Messenger and Washington Post newsrooms have shrunk over the years, fewer people approached him to ask about county issues. He said residents are less informed about local issues than they once were.
“People will always be interested in local news,” Stewart said. “But where do you go for local news? Right now there just aren’t a lot of resources for that other than the local papers. As those are withering away, I’m not sure what’s going to replace them.”
On November 9 of this year, I moderated a panel as part of the Palm Beach County Planning Congress' Sixth Annual "Ethics" Seminar.  Our session was called "Ethics and Public Corruption: "Old" and "New" Media Perspectives."  The other panelists included Dan Christensen, editor and founder of The Broward Bulldog and former investigative reporter for The Miami Herald and The Daily Business Review based in Ft. Lauderdale and Roger Williams, reporter and columnist for Florida Weekly.  Both had extensive career backgrounds in traditional print media outlets, but now were primarily engaged in the digital media domain.

During the discussion, we shared the lament that the role of the "fourth estate" and the local paper of record has indeed gone the way of the dinosaur.  We can no longer count on the local media, in our case The Palm Beach Post, to adequately cover the intricacies of local government.  This absence creates a fertile ground that provides the perfect cover for misdeeds to flourish.  Remember the Post's claim that the Casino building "is being gutted, but not torn down" despite clear photographic evidence to the contrary.  Attorney Joslyn even mentioned the newspaper's role in propelling myths related to the Greater Bay project being spread by opponents of the project - with no questioning of whether or not these wild stories had any ounce of truth to them.  The Post's editorial board seemed enamored with this rag-tag group of grassroots activists and were swept away by their zealousness.  It seems at times they enjoyed vicariously being part of "their cause" and only wished that they could be more like them, but, alas, they had succumbed to the comfort of their regular bi-weekly checks and cozy paneled offices.  The facts, they thought, didn't really matter anyway - they were perpetuating part of an ideology.

The panel discussion concluded that to find out what is really going on in local government, we will more and more rely on the work displayed in blogs like this one and others.  People will have the freedom to decide which are objective and which are not and choose which source they consider more reliable.  The day of a monolithic editorial, and public, opinion is over - if it ever really existed.

Prosperity & Achievement: Ennui and Entropy

Click title for link to an excellent summary of the latest Lake Worth beach fiasco, penned by Mary Lindsey.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Sec. 23.18A.01.00. - Intent.

The Beach and Casino district (BAC) is a zoning category for the Lake Worth public beach and casino area. It is intended for public use of the beach area and other beach related uses and private commercial and public uses in the casino area.(Ord. No. 2007-19, § 1, 3-6-07)

Sec. 23.18A.02.00. - Principal uses permitted by right in the BAC district.

In the beach area (east of the east edge of the existing seawall):

A.Public beach and pier and accessory uses such as umbrella, beach chair, beach and water related rentals and cafes on the pier only, and special events as per section 21-18

In the casino area (west of the east edge of the existing seawall):
A. Pool, pool building and accessory uses.
B. Picnic facilities, play-grounds, recreational uses and restrooms.
C. Parking and parking structure.
D. Ballroom, banquet and meeting rooms.
E. Retail establishments. The sum of all retail establishments may not exceed seven thousand two hundred (7,200) square feet.
F. Restaurants (no drive thru), sandwich shops and snack bars, outdoor cafes and push carts.
G. Special events as per section 21-18
H. Art shows, exhibits and other events not requiring a special event permit pursuant to section 21-18
I. Environmental/nature centers.
(Ord. No. 2007-19, § 1, 3-6-07)

Sec. 23.18A.02.01. - Development regulations.

A. Building height: Total height shall not exceed sixty (60) feet. Two (2) habitable stories totaling not more than fifty (50) feet in height. Architectural features not to exceed an additional ten (10) feet in height. Building height shall be measured as defined in section, general definitions.
Parking structure shall not exceed two (2) levels or thirty-two (32) feet. The height of the highest parking surface shall not exceed the crown of the loop road closest to the seawall.

B. Setbacks: East: Seventy-five (75) feet from the east edge of the existing seawall excluding public seating, outdoor patio and dining areas (which shall be at least forty-five (45) feet from the east edge of the existing seawall), public shelters, signage and push carts.

West: Seventy-five (75) feet from the property line.
North: Two hundred (200) feet from the property line excluding public seating, public shelters, signage, and picnic pavilions, (which shall be at least thirty-five (35) feet from the property line and which shall be subject to special land use approval by the planning and zoning board).
South: Thirty-five (35) feet from the property line.

C. Building coverage: Fifteen (15) percent.
D. Maximum impermeable surface: Seventy-five (75) percent.
(Ord. No. 2007-19, § 1, 3-6-07)

Sec. 23.18A.03.00. - Prohibited uses.
A. All uses not specifically permitted.
(Ord. No. 2007-19, § 1, 3-6-07)

This is the actual wording of the Beach and Casino Zoning District that was the subject of the petition drive to repeal it - as led by current Commissioner McVoy.  This, according to McVoy, allows for the over-commercialization of the beach.  It was never repealed and the city actually needed this language in order legally to allow businesses there.  It corrected a long standing non-conformity since businesses existed at the beach in the Casino building for a very long time as the Public Recreation and Open Space (PROS) zoning only permitted "Parks and other outdoor open space areas intended for active use."

The Beach and Casino Zoning District does not mention Greater Bay's project and was not tied to it, other than it being a requirement that the city provide the appropriate zoning and land use so that would allow commercial activity at the beach.  Also, look at the limitation of the square feet on retail space.  Is the city following that restriction now?  Also notice that it specifically does not mention "hotels" and that use is therefore prohibited.  Finally, look at the date that the Ordinance 2007-19 was approved - it was back in 2007 and hasn't been changed since.  The petition signature gatherers cared little about what was actually written on paper - whatever terrible thing that anyone and everyone would not like at our beach was said to be allowed by this zoning district - and they are the ones that tied it to the Greater Bay project.  In fact, in one account, Christopher McVoy's wife approached a friend's door for his signature on the petition and instead of talking about the beach, talked about how the library was being torn down since there are no windows on the east side of the Lucerne building - that another tall building was going up in the downtown.

Back to the beach, contrary to the trivial blogger's take, these businesses were not "grandfathered in" and retail businesses and restaurants are not"customarily incidental to a principal use permitted by right" - that being open air recreation.  If you defined it that way, all parks in the city carry this PROS zoning designation and would allow commercial businesses.

The Beach and Casino Zoning district was created to prevent a misinterpretation of the PROS district.  The wording of that zoning district appears below:


The public recreation and open space district designates locations for parks and other outdoor open space areas intended for active and passive use. The district implements the public recreation and open space land use category in the Lake Worth Comprehensive Plan. - Use restrictions in the PROS public recreation and open space district. Principal uses permitted by right in PROS district.

A. Parks and other outdoor open space areas intended for active use.
B. Essential services. Principal uses permitted as special land uses in PROS district. No uses are permitted as special land uses in the PROS public recreation and open space district. Accessory uses permitted by right in PROS district. Any use accessory to and customarily incidental to a principal use permitted by right. - Development regulations for the PROS public recreation and open space district.

A. Height: thirty-five (35) feet.
B. Setback: twenty (20) feet from all lot lines.

Commissioner McVoy's version of the democratic process doesn't pass the smell test...

Pay special attention to the 2:10, 3:20, 3:55, 4:20 and especially 4:50 marks of this video.  Attorney Joslyn is explaining to Commissioner McVoy why the city's case is weak and not worth the risk of a jury trial.

Click here for on-line video link to Special City Commission Meeting from 11 14 12 re Greater Bay Settlement

One of the contradictions identified by Attorney Joslyn in depositions of Jennings and Mulvehill.  When asked whether Jennings supported Mulvehill in her campaign in 2008, she said that she hadn't campaigned for her.  When Mulvehill was asked the same question, she said that yes, Cara had campaigned for her.  Here are some pictures from 2008.  You can draw your own conclusion.

An Infographic Breakdown Of The World's Greenest Cities | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation

Click title for link to information on some of the world's large cities and how they rank in terms of environmental impact and efficient use of resources.  Notice that all of these cities have a large degree of density - persons per square mile.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lynn's Lionization of Mulvehill and McVoy

Lynn Anderson still misses the Best Commission Ever.  Also note that she treats compromise as a dirty word and encourages Commissioner McVoy to do the same.  This is from last Tuesday night's regular City Commission meeting.

Commissioner Mulvehill's Good Riddance Speech...

Who was in charge of the timing of the settlement agreement?  Why was it decided within 8 days of the last election?  Why wasn't one of the key protagonists in the drama, Commissioner Mulvehill, present on the dais so that she could face the public and answer for her less than honest behavior?  The line "false statements" from two former Lake Worth public officials is not the kind of thing that any resident wants to see about their former leaders in the Palm Beach Post.

It wouldn't be right not to include this from Commissioner Mulvehill's last regular City Commission meeting.  This is a farewell to her by her Myth-Maker-in-Chief, Annabeth Karson.

This has a hollow ring to it now, after last night's revelations...

Christopher McVoy's "We Love Lake Worth" PAC was one of the reasons cited by City's Attorney Joslyn as some of the damning evidence against the city that would have led to a larger award, had the case gone to trial.

Commissioner McVoy:  The Beach and Casino (BAC) zoning and land use designation were never repealed and currently allow for the same level of commercial development on the beach property as was in effect when you started your petition drive for their repeal.  In fact, the city had to use the zoning - that you hated so much - to allow for Mulligans and everything else commercial about the beach that you are so proud of now.

Also, don't look for any conciliatory language here in his speech - there isn't any.  And the election was not a referendum on whether or not the city should sell its electric utility.  It seems that the McVoy/Mulvehill/Jennings/Golden faction is trying to frame it as such.

Cassandra - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"While Cassandra foresaw the destruction of Troy (she warned the Trojans about the Trojan Horse, the death of Agamemnon, and her own demise), she was unable to do anything to forestall these tragedies since no one believed her."
There you have it.  Click title for link.

Lake Worth agrees to $1.6 million settlement with Greater Bay...

From the article, click title for link:
"Commissioner Christopher McVoy, who opposed the Greater Bay deal before he was elected, cast the only vote against settling the lawsuit and the related budget amendment.
“We’ve been taken to the cleaners because we didn’t do our due diligence up front,” McVoy said, referring to the city’s lack of knowledge about the Greater Bay Group before the casino ground lease and development agreement were signed in 2006.
Joslyn said false statements made about the Greater Bay project by former city commissioners Cara Jennings and Suzanne Mulvehill, who opposed it, hurt the city’s chances of winning the case."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just a small part of the act which led to about $2.6 million dollars of your money being wasted...

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Everyone's favorite local blogger threw out some sweeping and serious allegations during last night's City Commission meeting.  She didn't mention the subject matter, but accused the city of purging public records.  Here is that part of her comments under unagendaed items:

Later, after Ms. Anderson stormed out of the room before anyone could respond to her charges, Mr. Bornstein responded to what he thought it related to.  You can hear what he says below:

In Commissioner responses to comments, it became clear that Ms. Anderson only shared her concerns with her now favorite Commissioner McVoy.  Maxwell and Amoroso mentioned that these are serious charges and it is important to know what they revolve around.  Mr. Bornstein thought, as you can hear in the video, that it related to some "questionable requests" regarding the pool at the beach and Greater Bay's work on the pool.

Is Ms. Anderson asking the city to prove a negative?  Is she saying "prove that you didn't destroy records?"  Is she asking for documents that back-up her version of the facts that don't reflect what actually transpired?  Is that why she is asking for them?

Me thinks so.

Commissioner McVoy's feeble attempt at damage control re the Greater Bay lawsuit against the city...

Too little, too late Commissioner McVoy - the chickens have come home to roost, in part due to your own actions and by those who supported you from the dais and your close-knit crew of un-elected supporters.

Pinkie Jr. and Pinkie Sr.

Some things can't go unchallenged...Part II

RE-POSTED from September 3, 2012 in advance of the City Commission meeting(s) regarding the Greater Bay lawsuit. 

Before we discuss the situation surrounding the casino building in more detail, it is important to give a little more information on two points made in the previous post.  One is that the other blogger's reference to the "insurrection on the dais" refers to the fact that then Mayor Drautz refused to initial each page the final document regarding Greater Bay - after the City Commission already approved the agreement.  The insurrection was his refusal to initial each page; it was not then Commissioner Lowe "grabbing the contract out of Drautz's hands."  Lowe was Vice-Mayor at the time, so the majority of the City Commission transferred the "initialing duties" up to her.  Mind you, this all played out in typical "high drama" fashion by those that did not want to go forward with the agreement.

Another point worth clarifying is that McVoy's petition drive to repeal the Beach and Casino land use and zoning designation (and map change, too) was useless.  Those zoning and land use designations were all eventually needed for the city to do what it eventually did there.  The former zoning allowed no commercial business - just open-air recreation space.  The lawsuit against "Lake Worth citizens" was soon dropped after the breaking of the agreement with Greater Bay.  So the petition drive ended up being a meaningless waste of energy and served more to energize the base for the next election cycle than "prevent over-commercialization of the beach."  And, as was stated in the previous post, it introduced a person to the community that would be a future City Commissioner.

Commissioner Mulvehill, through her own admission - see video -  used John G's to "lobby" there for her first campaign.  As the video shows, the building official at the time - after reviewing 10 or more years worth of structural studies on the condition of the casino building, condemned the building and tenants were given a deadline to get out.  During the campaign, this is when "Straticon" appeared on the scene.  This was a contractor that was doing work on the former Hilton hotel further north on A1A.  Approached by those around our future Commissioner, suddenly it was possible to SAVE the building from demolition, with the promise that all the existing tenants could stay during reconstruction.  The "rehabilitation" myth continued through the architect selection process, with each saying that they could save the building.
Picture that appeared in Morganti issued progress report dated 8/19/11
Above is what actually saved after all of the b.s. was cleared away, along with demolition debris.  The city and the "team"  worked the calculation to determine whether this project represented a "substantial improvement"  and came up with a valuation scheme that put the "new building" below 50% - the threshold after which the building would have to meet current code standards.  You can read about the implications here in a recent post.

The long and short of this is that since the city chose to build in exactly the same spot as the original building to give the perception that it was a "rehabilitation" now calls in to question whether the $6 million investment is adequately protected by the existing seawall or "armoring device" as the Florida Building Code refers to it.  This likely means that the city will undergo the time and expense to do an exhaustive study by a certified engineer that actually evaluates whether or not the seawall qualifies as that "armoring device."  Also by shutting down creativity and problem-solving made possible by looking at other building locations on the site, we end up with a site plan that may not be functional.  This is what is being heard now - complaints about adequate parking for delivery and emergency vehicles, the two way pattern of traffic in the upper parking area, among other issues...

Greater Bay always proposed a site plan - never approved or officially reviewed - that had the building in the center of the property along with a parking deck.  Think of the unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean as you crest the bridge.  Unfortunately, we have walled off a rare view of the ocean to accommodate political "agendas."  A parking deck would provide needed shade for beach-goers and consolidate asphalt/concrete to allow for more green space.  Instead of hearing of the benefits of this project, all we were treated to was how this was "giving away our precious land" and that it was "over-commercialization" of the beach.

Well, now we may have to add to the project cost such things as the reconstruction of the seawall and a judgement in favor a Greater Bay that the city acted in bad faith by breaking the development agreement.  Where will those be that were responsible for such oversights and procedural snafus come home to roost?

Commissioner Mulvehill will be furthering her business and professional interests.  She won't be on the dais.  Perhaps she will become an expatriate in Sopot, Poland or South-End-on-Sea, Great Britain?

And, for the record, I was not in favor of either of the original presenters that responded to the RFP to develop the beach.  I would have told them both to go home, adjust the RFP and re-advertise the project.

Some things can't go unchallenged...Part I

RE-POSTED from  September 3, 2012 in advance of today's City Commission meetings re Great Bay lawsuit.

There is another blogger in town.  I gave up regularly visiting her blog for Lent this year and never returned as a regular visitor.  From time to time, people forward me links to what is going on over there.  There was something posted yesterday about the history of the current beach project, Greater Bay, the Greater Bay lawsuit and Commissioner Mulvehill that distorted reality so much that certain facts need to be pointed out.

The city never "turned over our valuable land to a contractor" by executing "Agreed Upon Business Terms" or the eventual private/public partnership agreement.  First of all, the agreement was for a 20 year minus one day lease of the 19 acre property.  If the project proceeded that way, the city would retain ownership of the property - never relinquishing it - and let a developer (in this case Greater Bay) build and lease out a new building and return that building to the city after the expiration of the lease.  The developer, in turn, would pay the city $500,000 a year in lease payments.  They would select and collect rent from tenants, manage the ballroom space and collect parking revenue.  The City would pay for the lifeguards, as I recall.

The city couldn't turn over "our valuable land to a contractor" since it never could provide clear title.  There was a lawsuit filed by private citizens  related to whether or not this development agreement violated the City Charter since it may allow for an extension of the lease term for some tenants beyond 20 years - given renewals that may be built into their leases.  Whether or not that had merit, the fact that it existed prevented anyone, other than the city, to do anything to the property.  And you also had a petition that had been circulated looking to repeal the Beach and Casino land use and zoning designation that had been passed by the City Commission.  This effort was led by no other than then private citizen Christopher McVoy - giving him visibility which aided his run for elected office.  The city actually had to sue McVoy and others associated with the petition drive effort.  With the land use and zoning designation, which were being changed to allow limited commercial uses on the beach property where none were allowed before (the existing businesses there were non-conforming or "grandfathered in"), in potential limbo, this created another impediment to the project going forward.  Clean title and a land use/zoning designation that would allow the project to proceed were more the province of the City - not Greater Bay.  This is part of the basis for Greater Bay lawsuit against the city - they say they couldn't perform due to non-performance on the part of the city.

Despite this, the Commission, made up of Jennings, Golden, Mulvehill, Clemens and Lowe decided 4-1 to break the agreement with Greater Bay.

Just before that, Greater Bay, as part of the agreement, had to use a state recreation grant that was about to expire - some $400,000 that the city would lose if they didn't improve the pool.  They did work as directed by the city and its representatives at the time - and were specifically told not to do things - one was not to improve the pump house for the pool.  The point here is that the city was able to keep the grant money and the pool was improved to city expectations at the time.  Greater Bay performed.

Then you have the whole issue of the building.  THE BUILDING WAS NOT SAVED.  THE "CIRCLE OF LIGHT" PUT ON BY COMMISSIONER MULVEHILL WAS MORE ABOUT SELF-PROMOTION.  In order for the public to sort-of, kind-of believe that the city "restored" or "rebuilt" the casino building, the Commission chose to build in the exact same location as the existing building - which had historic merit of its own.

More to come in Part II

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mayor Triolo Speaks at Parrot Cove Neighborhood Association meeting...

This picture was taken during the question and answer session at last night's meeting.  The Mayor talked for a little over twenty minutes and then took many questions from the 50 or so that attended the meeting - her portion of the meeting took up a total of about an hour.  She had lots to report.  The most significant announcement was that the city's budget projections are looking better than previously thought and it looks like the city will not have to dig in to the reserves - to the tune of $423,000 to maintain a balanced budget.  This is indeed good news!  Commissioners Mulvehill and McVoy voted against this budget - the one that reduced electric rates by 6.2% since it was thought that the city would need to rely on the transfer of the reserve money.  They also didn't like getting rid of the conservation program - but that also contributed to the decrease in utility rates.

Mayor Triolo also talked about how the city really needs to focus on streets and sidewalks in under-served areas of the city, particularly the south and west sides.  She mentioned a new business attraction program that will allow businesses to take advantage of lower rates, equal or better than FPL's, and that will promote economic development and job creation.  She was happy that Mulligan's is opened in the NEW casino building and that other tenants are finishing their build-out.  She also acknowledged problems with the building - water intrusion, etc. - and that the city will not accept the building until those issues are fixed by the contractor.

She also was very clear about her position on heights in the downtown.  She emphatically stated that she does not want to see skyscrapers in the downtown.  She reminded everyone that the only place we are talking about buildings up to 65 feet in height is the area east of Federal where there are already buildings of that height or higher.  She would even restrict buildings from going to 65 feet from 45 feet only if they provide at least 50 hotel units.  She stressed that having hotels in the downtown is an important part of job creation and helps keep tourist money in downtown Lake Worth as opposed to sending it to other areas of Palm Beach County.

The Mayor also said that they are working on resolutions to long--standing legal issues and lawsuits. These include the Greater Bay lawsuit - which appears for discussion on tonight's agenda - and the Sunset property mediation.  She gave out great praise to the city's new set of attorneys for assisting in this process.

During the question and answer portion, many questions were asked about the current status of the Gulfstream Hotel.  She said that she knew of two bona fide offers from people that want to buy the property, but they haven't been accepted by the owner.  She pointed out the the city is limited in what it can do to push things along there.

There was a whole discussion about parking in the downtown - the Mayor said that we are not at a point where we need a parking garage, that there is parking available but it may not be always in the most convenient location.  She did not like the idea of parking meters in the downtown but said that the city will be enforcing the four hour maximum limit for parking - which hasn't really been enforced before.

There were a lot of questions surrounding parking at the beach and handicapped access to the new building.  There is talk of a 10 passenger shuttle, perhaps two, that would ferry people from the fairly distant parking area during construction and perhaps after as well.  The Mayor pointed out that the current Commission is left with decisions made by previous Commissions on the site design and that there are some issues that need to be addressed.  She has also looked into an electric shuttle service like Delray employs that moves people around town and to the beach - operated by college-aged kids.

All-in-all, it was an enlightening, candid discussion presented with optimism and confidence - something that we have come to expect from Mayor Triolo.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I would say that someone has a hard time accepting reality.  Things at the trivial blogger's household are bleaker than usual - I hear that she is covering all shiny objects as part of her mourning process.  Click title for link to a press release from the West campaign.

Election Reflections...

Let's talk a little about the election that took place last Tuesday, and the campaigns leading up to it.  As our experiment in self-government continues, it's a good idea and take a step back to look at elections and what they are designed to do and what they aren't designed to do.  At their best, campaigns and their associated debates and discussions should revolve around what the major issues of the day are in a given community, state or nation.  I am sure that everyone would agree that we were anesthetized by the mind-numbing ads coming from the state and national elections of 2012.  It was pretty much a wall-to-wall barrage of political commercials, mostly negative.  These pretty much were run non-stop from August through election day itself.  Amid all of this noise, sneaking in at the bottom of the ballot was a small but consequential race for District #2 City Commissioner for Lake Worth.

Before I go too much further, I want to let you know that this is my plea to move the municipal elections in Lake Worth back to March.  This item, along with the height issue (maybe) will be on the ballot slated for a special election in March 2013.  Money, time and effort are all key ingredients that go into any campaign.  How can the candidates that run for a seat in Lake Worth draw much attention and resources when you have all the noise going on in the form of state and national elections in even-numbered years.  I can't tell you the number of times that we heard people say that they were involved in the presidential campaign and couldn't devote time to the local Lake Worth race.  The same was said as an excuse, a legitimate one, to not give as much or any money to a local campaign.  How then, with restricted resources, can a local municipal race pierce through this political fog?

We have to keep in mind too that there is a built-in distortion between the voter turn-out in even and odd numbered years.  In odd-numbered years, we have three seats - two commissioners and the mayor - that play to an audience of about plus or minus 3,500 voters.  In this past election, 8,152 voted in the District #2 race.  So not only were candidates competing for more limited resources in terms of time, attention and money, but they had to broadcast their message to a larger audience - which draws even more resources in order to get your message across.

Campaigns give us an opportunity to discuss the major issues of the day and we need to realize that such a discussion is healthy and required for our representative form of government to function well - especially at the local level.  In Lake Worth, we almost didn't have that opportunity this year - perhaps for some of the reasons I already identified.  The District #4 race ended up being uncontested.  Thankfully, we were spared another term of the current Commissioner that occupies that seat as She Herself chose not to run for another term.  Getting John Szerdi up on the dais is a good thing, but we missed the opportunity to discuss the city's pressing issues of the day through the debate and conversations that would ensue had the seat drawn two or more candidates.

We came very close to that happening in the District #2 race.  For a while, it seemed that it was a "gentleman's agreement" where one side pledged we won't run someone against your guy if you don't run one against ours.  Now wouldn't that be sorry state of affairs.  Lost would have been the opportunity to talk about slum and blight, the high utility rates our residents face and the sorry state of much of the city's infrastructure.  Had we not had a race for the District #2 seat, the incumbent Commissioner could freely continue to misrepresent what is present in the city charter that explicitly allows the sale of the electric utility.  This coming from a person that was an active party in two petition drives - one to withdraw the land use and zoning designation for the beach and one related to regulating building heights in the downtown that we will see in March 2013. One would think that with such first hand knowledge of the referendum process and proponent of "letting the people vote" would think that such a referendum on the sale of the utility would be a good thing.  This hypocrisy was exposed for all to see in this campaign and, unfortunately, enough people seemed to think that it was o.k. to lie about such a matter and they put the person proffering the idea that the charter prevented the sale back on the dais - period.

So campaigns and elections are fundamental, almost sacred, elements in our representative form of government.  We need a quieter time of the year to focus on our local issues and November elections do Lake Worth a disservice.