Saturday, October 5, 2013

Revisionism reaches the podium...

First, listen to the entire video from the September 3, 2013 City Commission meeting where Lynn Anderson responds to questions regarding the Complete Census Count Committee. Note the following statements by Ms. Anderson.

At approximately 51 seconds in this video she says, "A bill was not necessary to submit by this contract arrangement." She then goes on to say that Rachel Smithson created a PowerPoint presentation on the Complete Count Committee's efforts, and then she left the city. The impression is left that the PowerPoint was never formally presented to the City Commission. I have asked for a copy of it and no one is able to find one now. I will keep you posted if I hear differently.

Then at 1:56 of the video Ms. Anderson repeats again "There was no bill. It wasn't necessary."

Here are some documents that I was able to collect which address this issue. This is the heading and top of the first page of the contract between the City and Get Counted, LLC:
This is the second page which talks about billing:
Notice under "V. Fees" that the total amount paid would be not-to-exceed $20,000 for "successfully completed and accepted services"... Also note that the City would pay up to $6,000 to cover "event related expenses, including advertising materials, facility reservation fees or other costs directly associated with the event. All such expenses musts have the prior approval by the City Manager."

Then, completely contrary to Ms. Anderson's assertions at the regular City Commission meeting September 3, 2013 , the following language is found under "VII. Billing." I repeat it here for clarity: "CONSULTANT shall submit to the Project Manager for approval an invoice on a bi-weekly basis, along with itemized billing detailing the services successfully completed, prior to receiving compensation. The CONSULTANT shall indicate on the invoice total project costs to date. The Project Manager will approve all or that portion of the invoice which has been successfully accepted by the City." (emphasis added)

Surely there should be a record of this, what some people call a "paper trail", showing exactly what was invoiced, how much and when. No one has seen that yet. It appears Ms. Anderson is saying on behalf of Ms. Karson that it was Ms. Karson's understanding that no billing was required? I guess she just said "Show me the money" and that was good enough? Perhaps she didn't read the contract.

Not that the city wasn't interested in the possibility of some monkey-business. Here is page 3 of the contract.

The City even reserved the right to AUDIT and to "examine all records, papers or documents related to the consultant's performance." Then, where are they, why hasn't anyone seen them and why can't they be produced? And note that "Each and every report, draft, work product, map, record and other document reproduced, prepared or cause to be repaired by the consultant would be the exclusive property of the city." Where is the city's property?

Then we jump to November 15, 2011, at the regular City Commission meeting. Here is the packet for that meeting. Notably, no minutes are posted on the city's website for 2011 and there is no audio available. There is only the abridged version of the packet. Here is the agenda title page:
Note that Item 6 includes an update from the Census Complete Count Committee. Don't miss the fact that this occurs just three months short of two years from the date the contract was executed. It was also conveniently just after the November 2011 election. This is the introduction from Ms. Margolis, who was Assistant City Manager at the time:
You can read the entire item by following the link above. It starts on page 8 of the packet.

And here we have the usual mea culpa that we had come to expect from City Manager Susan Stanton about the whole ordeal:
So, there we have it. I don't know how it could be construed that "...a bill was not necessary to submit by this contract arrangement." Where are they? Why haven't we seen them? Why has revisionism been allowed to jump from a blog to the podium in the City Commission chambers?

Update: We are still looking for that PowerPoint. We are still waiting for an answer to whether or not a PAC received compensation for their attorneys. We are also making sure that anyone currently asking for money to pay attorney fees is denied.

Flagler County Buys 276 Minutes on Electronic Billboard Near Times Square, for $15,000 | FlaglerLive - Your News Service for Flagler County News Palm Coast News Bunnell Flagler Beach Beverly Beach and Marineland

Is this really worth the effort? Seems to be a stab in the dark. This is the 11 second ad. Click title for link to article:
Flagler County is just north of Daytona Beach.

A new chapter for Riviera Beach’s Ocean Mall |

Much of this sounds vaguely familiar. The names and details are different as is the place, but somethings are the same. Click title for link. From the article:
Ocean Mall redevelopment had been a lightning rod for criticism. Angry residents signed petitions in 2006 to repeal a city council vote giving the go-ahead on an ambitious plan: a 99-year lease and a privately financed 28-story hotel and condo complex, as well as the retail space.
A residents’ group sued the council after it refused to allow a citywide vote on hotel height and length of the lease. The city council sued the residents’ group.
Eventually, both measures went on a ballot, and voters ushered in plans for no more than a 50-year lease and a height limit of five stories.

Sen. Warren on the Shutdown and Why Government Matters

Twin Cities' Residents Near Transit Found to Be Happier - Urban Land Magazine

What intrigued me about this article is how they determined whether or not people are "happy." As we know, we are all supposedly "pursuing happiness." But how do you know if you are there? This is what they did in the study. Click title for link to entire article.
Sociologists and psychologists have spent a lot of time figuring out how to turn happiness into something they can count. “I used a scale developed by a psychologist,” says Cao. He asked his respondents to rate on a scale of one to seven how strongly they agreed with statements like “In most ways my life is close to my ideal,” and “So far I have achieved the important things I want in my life,” and “If I could live my life over again, I would change almost nothing.”
Other statements dealt with travel: “I am completely satisfied with my daily travel,” and “When I think of my daily travel, the positive aspects outweigh the negative,” for example.
Most respondents said they were to some extent satisfied with both their travel and their lives. But residents close to the light rail reported being significantly more satisfied with both. The difference was not huge—just a few tenths of a point on Cao’s seven-point scale on average—but it was consistent and clear enough to be statistically significant.
“If you are isolated—if you cannot go where you want to go—that is going to affect your quality of life,” says Cao.
The people who ride the Hiawatha Line also benefit from the ability to do useful things while they ride the light rail, which they could not do if they were driving. “You can use the time to read your paper and talk to your friends,” he says.
 I wonder how "happy" people are on Lake Osborne Drive, particularly Lakeside Gardens?

Friday, October 4, 2013

I want to encourage you... check out today's High Noon in Lake Worth radio show with guests Jack McCabe and Tom Twyford. The two talked about completely different subjects but each have much significance.

Mr. McCabe is a real estate market analyst based in south Florida. He calls the current residential recovery as the beginnings of a bubble that will burst with an onset of high interest rates and inherent weaknesses in the overall economy of the nation and region. He accurately predicted the Great Recession from which we are just emerging.

Mr. Twyford is the President of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club and noted local angler. He talked about water quality in the Lake Worth Lagoon, changes over time and cyclical nature of interest related to water issues in south Florida. He also talked about the legacy of recreational fishing in the area's development.

Each segment lasts about a half hour: McCabe's first and Twyford's second. I am sure these interviews will be of interest.

City Commission Discussion from 10/1/13 Meeting re E.R. Bradley's Restaurant Lease at Golf Course Clubhouse

This is the from last Tuesday's City Commission meeting related to E.R. Bradley's lease at the golf course clubhouse. There was initial concern about the amount of the monthly lease payment ($3,000) and the lack of an escalator clause over the initial ten year term of the lease. The point was made that this location has never proven to be a successful location for a food operation and that this is also seen as helping the golf side of the business for the city. The restaurant will be taking over the large room as their main dining, which could still be rented out for private parties and use of the area where the food operation was before will be the bar area. There was concern over the lack of separate metering for electric, but that was not adopted as part of the final action.

We went by the clubhouse the next day and took these pictures. Work was already underway.
 Above is the new decking material that will occupy the space shown below, with a magnificent view of the Lake Worth Lagoon/Intercoastal.

The area below will be a "Tiki Bar" area. The pavers around the trees are a recent change. The restaurant will likely be named "Bradley's Beach Club."
There is another municipal golf course clubhouse nearby that is under construction right now. In fact, you can see the top of its roof from the Lake Worth clubhouse by looking east toward the barrier island. This is Palm Beach's new two story clubhouse, which is supposed to have a view of the ocean from the second floor. We heard that they too are looking for a restaurant operator and their asking rate for a lease there is $10,000 a month for only about 2,300 square feet of space - at least half of which would have to be kitchen. $15 hot dogs anyone? I guess Palm Beach has to keep out the hoi poloi somehow. Pics below of the Palm Beach Par 3 course clubhouse:

And just to show how far beyond Palm Beach is in its website, check out how it highlights its golf course. Don't miss its live construction cam of the clubhouse.

Town that Mark Zuckerberg built: Facebook employees to get dorm-style housing | Mail Online

And they even come in at four stories! It is one way to provide housing for your employees. Will we see more company projects or towns like this in the future? Click title for link.

Bill Filed to Give Henry Flagler His Own Bronze Statue near State Capitol in Tallahassee | FlaglerLive - Your News Service for Flagler County News Palm Coast News Bunnell Flagler Beach Beverly Beach and Marineland

Not exactly a fan of bronze statues, men on horses, stuff like this. But if anyone deserves one in Florida, Flagler would definitely be high on the list. Click title for link.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Letters: In Delray Beach, CRA and nonprofits were part of... |

The CRA haters here, and there are a few, seem to be more afraid of success than anything else. And, no, we don't want to be another Delray. But we do want to be a better Lake Worth. Click title for link to a letter to the Editor of the Palm Beach Post. Here is a bit of it.
Every city is different, and should be free to innovate and find the best way forward. For Delray Beach, the arts were a path to prosperity and an enhanced quality of life. Many are attracted by the climate created through a progressive partnership with the city, the CRA, the business community, residents and nonprofits. The CRA had the wisdom in Delray Beach to promote the historical and cultural fabric of its past while building a new future.
Delray Beach is a model because we have worked together. To wit, Delray Beach won an All-America City award in 1993 and again 2001, was named The Most Livable Community in America in 1993 and, just recently, Rand McNally and USA Today named Delray Beach the Most Fun Small Town in America. We are the envy of municipalities across America, and the CRA has been an invaluable partner in our success. The collaboration works.

Combo Show - Jack McCabe and Tom Twyford 10/04 by High Noon in Lake Worth | Politics Podcasts

Wes Blackman, host of "High Noon in Lake Worth", is pleased to announce that Jack McCabe of McCabe Research and Consulting, LLC and Tom Twyford, President of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club will join him on this week's show. We'll start with Mr. McCabe who is founder and CEO of his company. He is one of the top national real estate and economic analysts in the nation, living right here in south Florida. We will be chatting about the status of the various sectors of the real estate market, what the forecast is for the future and where Lake Worth fits into the picture. During the second half hour, we will welcome Tom Twyford, President of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club. Tom has worked for the organization for 26 years. In a volunteer capacity, Tom serves as the current vice-chairman of the Palm Beach County Artificial Reef & Estuarine Enhancement Committee and current president of the Florida Foundation for Responsible Angling (Florida’s Sailfish specialty license tag). We will get his take on water quality in the Lake Worth Lagoon and the impact on fishing over time.

Click title for link to live show between noon and 1 p.m. tomorrow (10/4) or for the archived version after the show airs. Leave questions as comments below.

Rep. Patrick Murphy Talks About Nasty Lake Okeechobee Pollution

Candid talk with Representative Patrick Murphy by the Broward/Palm Beach edition of New Times. The interview happened yesterday, prior to the "fly-in" event in Washington, D.C. this morning. It is an excellent summary of the various projects currently in the planning stages to address the problem. Click title for link. For a summary by Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post regarding the event which happened this morning, click here.

What Prince Charles and his organization are doing for local community sustainability...

Some of the issues addressed by the Prince's organization came up in a recent conversation about the importance of our cottages here in Lake Worth. Many of the techniques used to build those structures and what turned out to be historic characteristics has been lost in the current labor market. There was a suggestion that we look to establish an apprentice program so that current-day carpenters are available who have the skills to rebuild wooden sash windows, for example. The notion of our cottage community could be celebrated in a future festival of some sort where there could be workshops on these techniques. This could happen right here in Lake Worth.

Celebrating Our History: Delray history buff’s legacy to bring marker to Boynton Inlet - The Coastal Star

Nice article in the Coastal Star about a gentleman who sought to honor history and create markers so that others would know what came before. Click title for link. Here is some important history from the article:
Why a historical marker at the Boynton Inlet?
    To remind people that it wasn’t always there, and its arrival changed the area immeasurably.
    The inlet we commonly call the Palm Beach Inlet was dug at the northern end of that island in the mid-19th century and stabilized by 1917. But by the early 1920s, a second was needed to improve water quality and circulation to the south, where both West Palm Beach and Lake Worth dumped sewage into the lake.
    The South Lake Worth Inlet District was formed in 1923 and $225,000 appropriated for the work.
    Dredging began that September, and in August 1924 a concrete bridge was completed to accommodate traffic along State Road A1A while the work continued below.
    And then, at 11:18 p.m. on March 16, 1927, with dozens of spectators watching from the bridge, the Atlantic Ocean met the Lake Worth Lagoon, and Boynton Beach hasn’t been the same since.
    “The coastal tomato and strawberry farms were dying out,” says Ginger Pedersen, the historical society’s vice president. “Saltwater from the Palm Beach Inlet spoiled the farmland, but this inlet gave the area a whole new purpose. We got the whole Boynton Beach fishing village. A lot of men made their living with commercial fishing.”
    And, of course, also the charter boat industry, ferrying tourists in and out of the inlet for day trips.
    “The wives and children would stand on the bridge and wave to their husbands and fathers as they came back through with the day’s catch,” DeVries adds.

Photos: Limo Cycle hopes to bring party to Daytona Beach

A group of people were chatting about this as a possibility here. This is a rolling "party bus" where patrons peddle while imbibing. This provides the horsepower and the torque. Hopefully there is a designated "steerer and braker." Interesting concept - click title for link.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Reps. Trey Radel and Patrick Murphy are hosting a fly-in in Washington, DC for Florida officials and constituents to discuss what can be done about the harmful Lake Okeechobee freshwater releases. 10/3/13

Lake O discharge killing Lake Worth Lagoon | Reef Rescue - Coral Reef Blog

Check this blog post from Reef Rescue. Click title for link. Also note the following:

Special Presentation: Freshwater Discharges to the Lake Worth Lagoon

October 29, 2013

10:30 am

Palm BeachCounty
Board of CountyCommissioners Workshop

PBC Governmental Center

6th Floor Commission Chambers

301 N. Olive Avenue
West Palm Beach

For more information contact PBC ERM at (561) 233-2400

Public Comment and Commission Reaction from last night's City Commission Meeting 10/1/13

Commissioner Comments from last night's meeting (10/1/13)

The first part, where former Commissioner Retha Lowe and chair of the city's Sister City board is at the podium, includes the Commission's reaction to her suggestion regarding disbanding the board. She said that for the past 5 months she has been the only one to attend meetings. She was interested in being appointed to another board. The Mayor reminded people that board applications are taken throughout the year now and is not done annually anymore. The Commission decided not to prepare an ordinance to sunset the Sister City board at the present time.

The rest of the video here is important to listen to as a lot of dates and details are given about coming events in the city.

Pagans Gather in Moss Bank Park for Anti-Fracking Ritual | Earth First! Newswire

Trending on the Earth First! Newswire. Click title for link.

WPEC-TV CBS12 News :: News - Top Stories - Neighbors upset over filthy, abandoned Lake Worth home

This segment appeared on last night's Channel 12 news broadcast. Striking evidence of our code enforcement problems. Results of years of mismanagement and apathy. Click title for link.

Proclaiming National Customer Service Week...

This took place at the start of last night's City Commission meeting (10/1/13) as the first presentation. When I saw this on the agenda, I thought it odd knowing the reputation of the city's utility customer service department. It was always incomprehensible to me how this sort of situation was thought to be such an "intractable" problem. Remember all the hand-wringing and shoulder shrugging of previous Commissions and administrations about how to address this problem? And it really was a serious problem as that is the city's "front door" and the first experience residents may have with the city.

I will have to visit there when I get my beach decal permit, which are now being sold at the City Hall Annex building. I'll take some pictures of the changes that City Manager Bornstein describes at the end of this video. Take his challenge - go there to see and experience the changes yourself.

E.R. Bradley’s to open restaurant at Lake Worth’s golf course |

Lona O'Conner's take on the action from last night's meeting regarding our new restaurant at the Lake Worth Golf Course clubhouse. I think it is a great thing and will be doing a post which includes video of the discussion from the City Commission meeting, pictures of the existing clubhouse restaurant pictures from the outside taken yesterday, along with some other pictures and commentary. Click title for link to the Palm Beach Post article.

Town launches updated website |

You really must check out their new website. Notice the "Follow us on Twitter" tab on homepage. Pretty impressive. I tend to think that the "new" Lake Worth website is being treated like the Emperor's Clothes. We all know that it could be so much more for a lot less, but few are willing to admit it. And what about the search function and the other fixes that were acknowledged as being needed? Lake Worth, the city of, needs its own official Facebook page at a minimum.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

State agency hasn't filed legal challenges against any local growth decisions since 2011 | The Florida Current

This article is not about HB 537, the law that made referenda related to Comprehensive Plan changes, map amendments, etc. "null and void" retroactively to June 2011. This is more of a status report about the changes initiated in 2011 which eliminated the Department of Community Affairs and created the Department of Economic Opportunity. The state has had a difficult time trying to determine their role in the review of local comprehensive plans. It seems that continues to be the case. Click title for link.

Interesting video from the Convention and Visitors Bureau

Monday, September 30, 2013

Something to bike to...

Locals applaud car-free month in Korean city | Environment | DW.DE | 30.09.2013

This is significant for a couple of reasons. One is that this was the brainchild of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) - the same organization that hosted the conference in Bonn, Germany where former Commissioner Mulvehill presented. The other thing worth noting is that their streets were falling apart and part of the deal included repairing the communities roads in order to get local support. Not everyone was happy, but the month turned out o.k. anyway. Read the entire article by click the title. Here's a bit of it:
The idea of a car-free month came ICLEI head Konrad Otto-Zimmermann. He says few urban leaders envision the needs of a city 50 years into the future, which includes reducing its carbon footprint.
Otto-Zimmermann says over two years he suggested the idea to mayors from all over the world. In the end, Suwon was the only taker.
"It was surprising because South Korea is such a car-oriented society where people still strive to have a car in order to show their social prestige," Otto-Zimmermann told DW. "In East Asia it's important to have such a model neighborhood."
"In Europe some cities are very advanced in sustainable transport policies, so maybe they don't think they need such an exercise in order to advance," Otto-Zimmermann added.
Convincing the locals
The suburb of Suwon where the event took place, Haenggun-dong, has definitely seen better days. Before it was chosen as the festival site, it was run down, roads were unpaved and littered with potholes, cars were parked everywhere.
The whole neighborhood has since had a facelift. The streets are now even and paved with slate stones.

STREET ART UTOPIA We declare the world as our canvas - Rainbow Family Village in Taichung, Taiwan

This is a town in Taiwan where the streets and walls come together to form a colorful urban canvas - Beautiful images. I don't think this is what the CRA has in mind for our downtown, but it's fun to think about how plain this village in Taiwan would be without such a colorful example of creativity. Click title for link.

CALL TO ARTISTS - LULA’s Lake Avenue Mural Project 704-706 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 33460

Click here for more information.
 The approximate location of the mural.

$700K spent to spruce up governor's retreat on Mackinac Island | Lansing State Journal |

Michigan is one of few states that provides for a winter and summer residence for its governor. While the current governor's family does not use the one in Lansing except for formal events and meetings, they do use the one on Mackinac Island, which is the focus of the article and video in the article. Click title for link.

For those of you that don't know or have never been to Mackinac Island, it is unique in that automobiles are not allowed, except for emergency vehicles. Everyone gets around by foot, by bike or by horse. It truly is a refuge in a state that gained much of its wealth by producing cars throughout the 20th Century.

Left as a comment under the "Local Foods Local Gardens" post that needs a little more sunshine...

"You may have left before we started selling tickets to "Symphony of the Soil" an inspirational documentary shot on 4 continents with a panoply of soil experts, farmers and activists talking about how to save our ailing soil that brings us the food we eat. By PBC native Deborah Koons Garcia. Deborah will be present fielding questions after the screening, together with local soil and backyard gardening expert Dr. John Zahina-Ramos. 

Information will be available on efforts to organize a community composting site now that PBC SWA will be ceasing offering free compost as of 2014. Tickets available online $10 in advance, $15 at door. Sunday, Nov 17, 3 PM Muvico Parisian, Cityplace, WPB. 

Tri-Rail considers station at Palm Beach International Airport - Sun Sentinel

Tir-Rail may add back a station for Palm Beach International Airport. Sounds like a good idea. Click title for link. From the article:
That was a different time when Tri-Rail had few trains and small ridership. Now with more frequent service that continues to expand, demand has grown on the commuter rail.
"The times have changed, and it's a great time to revisit it," Quinty said.
Tri-Rail planners envision a new station that wouldn't solely be for people heading to the airport. The location they're looking at — a county complex nestled between Australian Avenue and Southern Boulevard with a Hilton Hotel — has other potential, Quinty said.

New leader Mark Pafford says he’s up to challenge of raising... |

Mark Pafford, being named head of the State House Democratic Caucus is seen by some to not have the ability to fund raise. But if you read the article, click title for link, I think he makes a convincing point about why he has not gotten the "big" money before. It will be a test for sure.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Treasured moving photos show the lives of African Americans during the 1930s under the New Deal - 30 years before the civil rights movement | Mail Online

Interesting peak at history through the lens of a camera. Much happened during the 1930s that helped set the stage for what was to come in the postwar United States' economic abundance. Click title for link.

Community needs to do homework on whether beach fixes effective |

A Palm Beach resident reminds us that beach re-nourishment is at best a temporary proposition and may have other unintended consequences. Lake Worth has been firm in not allowing its beach to used to facilitate the Town of Palm Beach's re-nourishment but our beach has also been a victim of it with inferior gray sand. Click title for link to article.

Flood-control water dumping hurting Lake Worth Lagoon - Sun Sentinel

Worth another read from back on September 2, 2013 is this Sun-Sentinel article. Click title for link. All of the investment that the county has put into the Snook Islands project is in great jeopardy. Earlier this year, there was great celebration about the appearance of Oystercatchers. That may have been premature. It seems that our plumbing system in south Florida leaves something to be desired as outlined in the article. Most of the damage being done in Lake Worth's part of the Lake Worth Lagoon is due to freshwater discharge from the C-51 canal.

The good news is that it seems that the proximity to the Palm Beach Inlet and the distance from the freshwater flows is not affecting the downtown West Palm Beach waterfront as much. We took these pictures on our bike ride today. We were on the new southern jetty north of the middle bridge.

And there are buildings over four stories in height that don't seem to hurt the mangrove and sea-grass beds.

Local Foods Local Gardens - Urban Growers-Community Farm at the Gray Mockingbird Garden - 9/28/13

Bill and I dropped by the Scottish Rite property at North D Street and Worthmore yesterday at the tail end of our bike ride. Things were wrapping up, but we got to stop by the various booths and chat with the vendors and people associated with various causes. The day coincided with the annual Scottish Rite Barbecue. If we had come a little earlier, we might have experienced a bit of a culture clash.
 Goats (above) and chickens (below) made an appearance.
There was a purveyor of organic and rare meats and other items.
Meet Uncle Jimmy and his Unusual Jelly:

He's trying to get on Shark Tank with is product. It really was quite tasty and he has a killer hot sauce too.

This is Jenna Tiedje who, besides being a personal trainer, is also a strong advocate for mandatory genetically modified food labeling. She was getting some signatures in support of state legislation for such labeling. We got to talking about the GMO issue and I invited her and others to be guests on High Noon in Lake Worth. They accepted the offer so expect a show on GMOs soon!
And, right next door, we had a honey bee display.
Bees are experiencing high fatality rates and many think that genetically engineered plants share part of the blame.
Then we made it over to the EarthFirst! table where we met two people associated with the group. They told us that most of their effort now was about preservation of the Briger Forest, which has been chronicled here on this blog. They also had their most recent newsletter, dated Spring 2013, that we could have for a $6.50 donation. We didn't get their names but they did let me take a picture of them. I even asked them to smile which one did. When I introduced myself, the gentleman there thought that I didn't look like the Wes Blackman he knew from YouTube. He asked me what "take" I would have on this on the blog. I just said that I would tell people that you were here and that's about it. So, they were there.
 And there they are.
It was a nice way to spend part of the afternoon yesterday and a fitting end to our bike ride.

Historic Lake Worth store offers beer, cigarettes and memories

Neat story by Lona O'Conner about that little store in the 200 block of South Federal that has been there for 70 plus years. We get a sense of the city's history as well as how the store has survived in the 21st Century. Click title for link.