Saturday, January 12, 2013

LW Historic Bike Ride for MLK Day - Sunday 1/20

A 5-mile historical, Community Bike Ride to celebrate the impact 
of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Lake Worth, FL will begin and end at 
Calvary United Methodist Church, beginning on Sunday, January 20th, at Noon. The event is free and open to the public. A prize drawing will be held during the Noon registration.

Mr. Ted Brownstein from the Lake Worth Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Committee will be on hand to share maps and historical notes about 
locations on the route. These include the three homesites of Fannie 
and Samuel James, the Jewel Post Office, the Mural of Unity, and 
MLK Memorial. The Sheriff’s Department asks that we ride no 
more than two abreast and exercise caution at every intersection.

The Calvary UMC parking lot is located on Federal Highway & 2nd 
Avenue South in downtown Lake Worth, two blocks south of Lake 
Avenue. The folks at Calvary UMC have been hosting a Community 
Bike Ride every-other-month since July. For more information, 
please contact the Church Office at 561-585-1786.

Attorney: Comments by two commissioners led to $1.6 million... |

While another blogger scrambles to cover up the truth about the Greater Bay lawsuit settlement with tortured logic and revisionist history, here we finally have the Palm Beach Post telling all the world why the city was backed into a corner and had to accept the settlement lest it risk losing even more money.  Click title for link.

Time to share these gems from the file:

Cara Jennings campaigning for Suzanne Mulvehill in 2008

John G's Menu Board - October 2008

These pictures were taken in July 2011 and show how the building was "saved":

And, of course, we all know that John G's moved to Plaza del Mar in Manalapan.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Listenership statistics for recent "High Noon in Lake Worth" shows...

Possible tenant ready to spend more than $15 million to revamp...

New life for the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in Palm Beach?  Click title for link to Shiny Sheet article.

Lisa Maxwell - Chair - Juice Board 01/11 by High Noon in Lake Worth | Blog Talk Radio

Join us today for the live show at noon (1/11) when I welcome Lisa Maxwell, chair of the Electric Utility Advisory Board for a lively discussion about the advisory board's work, her other experiences related to volunteering and being active in Lake Worth politics and what she is doing in her professional career.

You can leave questions below under comments or call in during the show - click title for link to program.  An archived version of the show will be available at the same link after the show airs.

America's "greenest street" provides a blueprint for sustainable urban development

As announced on FaceBook by the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association:

"A streetscape that includes natural landscaping, bicycle lanes, wind powered lighting, storm water diversion for irrigation, drought-resistant native plants and innovative “smog-eating” concrete has earned Cermak road in Chicago the title of “greenest Street in America” according to the Chicago Department of Transport (CDOT)."

Click title for link to article.  Check out the video too...

Close-up of spalling concrete at the pool building...

This is just one of the spots running along the roof line.  The building and its fate were ignored by the Best Commission Ever during the design and construction of the beach redevelopment project.  For more information on spalling, click here.
How is the condition of the seawall again?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Downtown Business Spotlight: Cain's Barber Shop

Yesterday, I dropped in to this little retail shop on Lucerne - definitely rates high on the "charming" meter.

I had the pleasure of having my hair cut by Malcolm Cain, 77 who has being doing business in our downtown area for 50 years.  He plans on working as long as he feels as good as he does.  As he did his work, we talked about the downtown and the changes over the years.
His first shop in Lake Worth was in the location of the current CVS drugstore, across from the current City Hall.  I asked about how his clientele has changed over the years and he said that he used to cut a lot more children's hair - local Lake Worth families getting their haircut during the tail-end of the Baby Boom generation.  This was also the time before I-95 and our US Highway 1 was the ONLY way - that and 441 - to go north and south in south Florida.  He remembers Fountains - the downtown department store - and the time where we had two cafeterias.  He has been at his current location for about 10 years.

He said that he weathered the Great Recession fairly well, but that this past summer was the slowest that he can ever remember.  He figures about 1/3 of his business now comes from the condo-dwellers (oh oh - WATCH OUT - high-rise residents!) - after all, his is the first barber shop after coming off the bridge and an easy right-hand side of the street location.  I asked if he thought the Lucerne had a positive or negative impact to the downtown - and he said it was hard to say.  He does know that some residents there park on the street, alongside their building and leave their cars there all day long - ignoring the four hour limit - which we both agreed is going unenforced now - however, that may be changing.  He thought, and suggested that other traditional retail shops downtown, would prefer an enforced two-hour limit on parking, but he thinks that the bars and restaurants have lobbied for the universal four-hour limit in the downtown.
All-in-all, a nice visit with - and a great haircut from - a spectator and participant of our downtown's history in this historically significant year for the city.  Thank you Malcolm Cain!

Commissioner McVoy's Intellectual Dishonesty

This is from the portion of the meeting where Commissioners report on their concerns and observations.  Last Tuesday at the 1/8/13 City Commission meeting, Commissioner McVoy began first.  After talking about the tree incident, advisory boards and a domestic violence tragedy, he referred to an article that appeared in the New York Times on January 7th of this year.  The article is titled "Diagnosis: Battered but Vibrant" - I encourage you to read it as it introduces the concept of social cohesion and the importance of neighborhood groups - but that is where any conclusion as it relates to the context of Lake Worth should be drawn, as I will demonstrate.

Actually, he didn't cite the actual source of the article and it makes me wonder if he didn't do so just so people would have trouble finding it.  This is what Commissioner McVoy says, verbatim, starting at about the 4:15 mark of the above video.

"I read an article this morning I thought was very interesting and thought was relevant to our city. There are people who do research, this is somebody from Harvard I guess, who does research on comparing somewhat comparable communities and looking at why one seems to weather hardship better than another one does and whether you can make any sense out of patterns of that. And this one in particular was looking at communities in the Chicago area, the south side of Chicago, some of you will know parts of that or not, such an easy place. And one of the comments, and they did Chatham, apparently is a community that's had quite a bit of difficulties but apparently cares for itself a lot and has done pretty well. One of the things that they commented on was, this is criminologist Peter St John, Analysis of Physical Spaces, in a community with small buildings, single family houses, like here for instance, relatively easy for the old lady next door to walk over and tell you there is trash on the lawn or turn down the music, and pointing out that low rise communities can have a better record of community safety. And that's something that I think we want to think about. Obviously, you know, you can't take something from another community and completely wholesale it [unintelligible] but I think it's something we that we do want to think about. We obviously have and shared concerns [sic] with community safety and let's take that into account. Learn from other communities as best we can. And that's the end of my comments."

Now let's dissect the omissions and misrepresentations of fact present in this statement from someone who is an elected official speaking from the dais at a public meeting,  has a doctorate from Cornell and is familiar with, and supposedly subscribes to, the scientific method.  This apparent contradiction between fact and falsehood becomes more apparent after reading the article and the geographic and social context in which it is set.  Much of the article deals with an event which galvanized the community - the murder of an Iraq war veteran at a local park.  This is also set in the context of the Great Recession's impact on Chatham - which is a neighborhood, not a city - and the results of tearing down public housing high-rises that were inundated with crime, much of it violent.  From the article:
"Older residents, perpetually anxious that the younger generation is losing their values of tidiness and mutual respect, now had visible evidence of social erosion. They saw it in the habits of their new neighbors, many of them moving from the Robert Taylor Homes, which were torn down in the mid-2000s."
The Robert Taylor Homes as they stood before demolition.
Also from the article, cherry-picked by Commissioner McVoy to make his point - sort of, kind of...
"The neighborhood has something else that many nearby areas do not: uniformly small buildings. Neat rows of one-story brick bungalows and ranch houses stand shoulder to shoulder, at attention, astride modest commercial strips, with few buildings more than three stories tall.
“This is what I call ecological advantage,” said criminologist Peter St. Jean, the author of “Pockets of Crime,” an analysis of the physical spaces criminals occupy. “In a community with small buildings — single family houses, like here, for instance — it is relatively easy for the old lady next door to walk over and tell you there’s trash on your lawn, or to turn down the music. It is much more intimidating to approach troublemakers in a larger apartment building; you don’t even know where in the building they live.”
So, Commissioner McVoy, is this what you are attempting to say:  If our Lake Worth Towers housed a disreputable, delinquent population and our high-rise building was infested with the type of crime typical of the Chicago public housing projects, and was being or had been demolished, and those residents with their culture of crime would now descend on the city's low-rise neighborhoods we would face the same situation as Chatham?  If so, then there might be a parallel between the article and the situation we have in Lake Worth.  In many ways, Lake Worth's "social cohesion" in the form of neighborhood groups and people watching out for each other might help mitigate such an intrusion of anti-social behavior.

Or, Commissioner McVoy, are you saying that residents of the Lucerne (six story "high-rise") are intimated in approaching their neighbors if their stereo is too loud or if someone is parking their car in the wrong space - just due to the height of the building and its physical size?

Or, Commissioner McVoy, are you saying that those additional visitors that would be housed in a 5th or 6th floor hotel room that would be allowed east of Federal, should the height referendum fail in March, contribute to the types of criminal violence and social ills explored in the article?  Hardly.  What those additional people would do is bring new money from far away places and spend it in our downtown - not quite a "social ill" - unless you have some sort of problem with our consumer-oriented society.

What are you trying to say?

The point here is that this is not the issue here in Lake Worth and certainly not somehow related to the height referendum in the downtown that will be on the March ballot.  And I would suggest to Commissioner McVoy that he be more careful and circumspect when using some source of information provided by "his people" to politic on an issue from the dais.  He might also want to make sure of things like the researcher's name - Peter St. Jean - not St. John - and that he is from the University of Buffalo, not Harvard.  As any "researcher" knows, citing of references is critical to sound intellectual discourse.

But, hey, this is what we have come to expect from this Commissioner and his ilk.  Just a preview of some of the "facts" that will be toted out on the campaign trail leading up to March.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

TED Blog | Is democracy in crisis? A Q&A with TED ebook author Ivan Krastev

Click title for link to blog.  Do you agree with the following?

 “The most important and positive hero for the democratic society is somebody who is ready to change his views after a rational argument."/

Couple looking for a simpler life takes matter into their own hands and build perfect miniature-home | Mail Online

Living "large" may be a thing of the past.  Read about the "living small" trend by clicking title for link to article on how one couple is living in a 140 square foot home they created themselves.

Videos during Commissioner Reports and Public Comment...

...from last night's City Commission meeting (1/8/13) are on the way. There was talk about the Banyan tree removal, a domestic violence incident that left a woman dead after being shot by an officer of the law and a "study" discovered by Commissioner McVoy about how "low rise" cities are safer and adapt easier to change. There are other tidbits as well.
It was a lightly attended meeting - much of the agenda dealt with second readings of variance code enforcement amendments.  We learned that the city's property files are a "mess" and will take at least 7 years to fix so that they can be accessed by the public with some assurance that the information is correct.  We also learned that the city is addressing ADA (accessibility) issues along the downtown's sidewalks and it is one of the more burning priorities.  This issue came up during discussion of the bar stools and the street/sidewalk cafe breaches in the downtown.  It turns out that our street trees in the downtown (consisting of Live Oaks and Foxtail Palms) - installed around 1998 - are showing the effects of top watering.  Their root systems have thus pushed up the pavers around them, necessitating the removal of the grates that were once there.  This is the result of a cost-saving decision, way back when, not to install an underground watering system for the trees.  The solutions to this problem did not sound "pretty", especially in light of the loss of the large Banyan tree in the Cultural Plaza.  More to come...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Grant money for abandoned vessel removal, lifting of Stage III Water Restrictions...

These are just some of the items to be considered at this coming Tuesday's City Commission meeting (1/8).  This is called a "special meeting" since last Tuesday fell on New Year's Day.  Click here for link to agenda and back-up material.

There is also an add-on item that you can review here.

At new Miami train station, too-short platform to require costly fixes - Miami-Dade -

Trouble in Miami due to a design oversight, and the result is the total reconfiguration of traffic in the area.  Click title for link to article.