Saturday, November 2, 2013

West Palm Beach Mayor Muoio on 10/30/13 - "Media Availability"

The Mayor puts out this interview every two weeks or so regarding current topics going through city processes. Here she talks about the Chapel-by-the-Lake project which would result in a 25 story residential tower(s) east of Flagler. The City Commission tabled further consideration of it until after the 1st of the year. She remembers telling the development team when she first met with them that this would be an "uphill battle." She also briefly mentions meeting with other Mayors and city representatives - which our Mayor Triolo and City Manager Bornstein attended. But she limited her comments to West Palm's concerns over the 45th Street Flea Market. She talks about the Open Sky police and public safety radio system that continues to be an unresolved item from at least 2 years ago. She also mentions two RFQs that the city has issued related to their golf course clubhouse - one for an owner's representative to assess how much it would cost and what should be done with the existing building and one for people who may want to renovate it. She finishes by talking about their police department and some bad apples that have put the city in a position where they may have to make a financial settlement of some kind. She says that such things are not representative of a "culture" within the department.

I share this here since we should know what is going on with our larger neighbor to the north and that, even with the shaky camera and the ad hoc production here, it is still a way to reach out to your constituency, which is better than doing nothing. Eh hem.

Respectful Planning Lake Worth PAC

My e-mail to City Attorney Glen Torcivia from October 24, 2013:

Mr. Trocivia - I am reaching out to you due to a recommendation from the Florida Department of State, Division of Elections and after I contacted the Florida Elections Commission. I outlined the following situation to them and they said that I should consult the City Attorney.  I suppose I can also act independently and file a complaint with the Elections Commission, but since this group has brought an action against the city, I would like your guidance in how to handle this situation.

Members of this political committee have asserted in public meetings that they had the assistance of a land use attorney in the preparation of the original petition that was circulated to put their item on the ballot. You will not find any entry in the attached treasurer reports from this group that indicate either an in-kind contribution for these services, which would have to be limited to $500, or any monetary expenditure related to professional legal services. That is one issue.

The second issue is that they submitted their "Termination Report" to the City Clerk's office on July 12th. On August 5th a Petition for Writ of Mandamus was filed against the city. The plaintiff of the lawsuit is Laurel Decker who, according to the filing is on behalf of "herself and the petitioner's committee for a citizen ballot initiative called "Respectful Planning Lake Worth" regarding the City of Lake Worth Charter Amendment ("COMMITTEE")"

This brings up a few issues:
  • Is this an action of the PAC that has already terminated? If so, how can that be?
  • The plaintiff had to pay a $401 filing fee for this action. Is that her money individually or that of others through the PAC?
  • A land use attorney was engaged to file this petition on behalf of the group and the same issue identified above comes into play.
  • Since they filed a lawsuit, they are still pursuing the original purpose of the PAC so the PAC in my mind shouldn't have been terminated.
You may already be aware of these apparent discrepancies and, if not, you should. I am prepared to make an individual complaint on this matter if necessary. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

The City Attorney's response dated October 28, 2013:

Mr. Blackman,

I appreciate your e-mail.  While we are aware of most of the issues you raised in your e-mail, our direction from the City is to address the lawsuit on behalf of the City.  I cannot comment on that pending litigation nor can I provide you with legal advice on how to proceed with the issues you raised in your e-mail.  I will forward this to the Manager and Commission so that they are also aware.

Thanks, Glen

Click here for a link where you can find the various Treasurer Reports from the Respectful Planning Lake Worth PAC.

For those of us who are slow learners...

Click here for the full text of HB 537 which was passed as state law and signed by Governor this year. This is the key part of the law which made March's election "null and void."
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that initiative
44 and referendum be prohibited in regard to any development order.
45 It is the intent of the Legislature that initiative and
46 referendum be prohibited in regard to any local comprehensive
47 plan or map amendment, except as specifically and narrowly
48 permitted in paragraph (b) with regard to local comprehensive
49 plan or map amendments that affect more than five parcels of
50 land. Therefore, the prohibition on initiative and referendum
51 stated in paragraphs (a) and (b) is remedial in nature and
52 applies retroactively to any initiative or referendum process
53 commenced after June 1, 2011, and any such initiative or
54 referendum process that has been commenced or completed
55 thereafter is hereby deemed null and void and of no legal force
56 and effect. 
There are some in this community who think that since Charter amendments are not mentioned as being prohibited, that this somehow means that the City Commission can adopt the changes put forward by the proposed Charter amendment. What certain people fail to recognize is that we do not regulate the use of land through a Charter in the state of Florida. We regulate land via the comprehensive plan and the land development regulations. Putting this into full force and effect would require a change to the Comprehensive Plan, which is prohibited under this new state law. What is so difficult to understand about that?

Lake Worth tree board to discuss removal of decades-old ficus |

This is only about a year after the event. Checking the city's website, I see that the Tree Board has been meeting regularly. The last meeting minutes available are from July of this year. Here is a portion of them:

Discussion of officers.: Yolanda Sanchez was unanimously voted secretary for an interim term of 3 months. No nomination for Chairman so Mr. McGrew to continue to lead meetings. Intent to choose new chairman next meeting when new member appears.

Tree Ordinance Compliance in District 1: Witkin suggested doing a survey of rental properties in the area south of Lake Avenue between Dixie Highway and A St to determine compliance with landscape ordinance. This district chosen first because it’s most lacking in trees. Survey would be done by Tree board members and volunteers. Then if a property were found to be lacking a friendly letter would go to the owner/landlord asking them to plant the needed trees. Mr. McGrew to check on the legality of this. 

Community Recognition Award: Brought up by Ms Sanchez at the request of Commissioner Szerdi. Idea for Tree Board to somehow be involved in giving out neighborhood yard prizes. Consensus that concept is still too vague for us to act on and we suggested that Mr. Szerdi come to a future meeting to explain it to us.

Tree Ordinance Compliance Plaque: Witkin suggested attractive plaque for yards that are complying with the new landscape ordinance and have the required number of trees. Consensus that plaque should be small and attractive (and designed by a local artist) and residents would apply for it. Discussion of whether to charge or not for it – suggestion that it be free first year or so and then nominal fee to raise money for tree canopy.
Such are the heady things discussed at the Tree Board. Click title for link to the Lona O'Connor article.

Hotel renovation back on track, pumping millions into county... |

Tourism is back from the depths of the recession. During the past five years, hotels deferred upgrades and room nights plummeted. But, to remain competitive in a better economy, many hotels are playing catch up and they seem to be doing it all at once. There are many new hotels being planned as well. Tourism in Florida is still one of the lynch pins of the local economy. Here is a representative list of what is going on in the rest of Palm Beach County:
New hotels
Courtyard Marriott at Abacoa, Jupiter
128 rooms
$20 million
under construction
Palm House Hotel, Palm Beach
79 rooms
$40 million
under construction (retrofit)
Hyatt Place Hotel, Delray Beach
134 rooms
$11.8 million value*
opened summer 2012
Source: Owner/manager estimates, *Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office
Renovations in 2013:
Boca SpringHill Suites, Boca Raton
146 rooms
$2 million
Waterstone Resort and Marina
(was Boca Raton Bridge Hotel)
139 rooms
$10 million estimated
Villas by the Sea
at Delray Beach Marriott
8 luxury suites
Hilton Palm Beach Airport
245 rooms
Nearly $5 million
Note: This is not a comprehensive list.
You will be happy to note that the HRPB just reviewed improvements to the Holiday House at 4th Avenue North and Federal Hwy. It has long been shuttered and plans are to return to a resort hotel consisting of about 31 rooms. I wonder why it didn't make the article? Huh? Click title for link to the whole story.

Commissioner McVoy, even you must be able to understand that Lake Worth could cleave off a piece of this market or should we just discard the notion entirely. We'll wait to hear from you on this topic.

Compromise attempt on zoning change falls apart |

Even though a compromise couldn't be worked out on the PUD-5 issue related to Royal Poinciana Way zoning and land use, I believe the issue will still be considered by the Town Council later this month. The article is unclear as to whether this is the case. Click title for link.

Development is surging in West Palm Beach |

West Palm Beach's development future is laid out by Rick Greene. It is a rosy one. Some things you have to remember. West Palm Beach has roughly three times the population of Lake Worth. It is also the seat of County government, with offices, courtrooms and the notoriety that brings. One could make a strong argument that has held on to being the commercial center of Palm Beach County. It has also not been afraid of real, honest-to-God high-rise buildings of over ten stories. The combination of all these things eventually build on themselves so that momentum is perpetuated. Here is a representative list of projects "on the books" as of now:
Growing department
$843,000 increase in development services collections
10 positions added for current year
$366,000 planning division revenues - highest ever
7 days average wait for initial review of permits
West Palm Beach construction projects
Under construction
$118 million Palm Beach Outlets
$14 million Villas on Antique Row
$14 million Evernia Place
$2 million Walgreens at Dixie Highway and Southern Blvd.
$30 million Ibis Country Club expansion
$20 million Jefferson at West Palm Beach
$50 million Mizner Lakes
$3.5 million 300 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. nurses housing
Approved and moving forward
$42 million Convention Center Hotel
$45 million PCC Resorts homes
$16 million Marriott Residence Inn
$69 million North Olive Place
$8.6 million Hanley Center
$15 million Hillcrest Manor
As President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches says, ""Success begets success in the development world." What if Lake Worth had just one-third of the development activity as our larger neighbor to the north? We recently approved a townhouse project that was already vested at 4th Avenue South and Federal Avenue and I hear that a Holiday Inn Express is looking at the property located at the southwest corner of Boutwell and 10th Avenue North. Click title for link to entire article.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sparse crowd turns out to discuss future of Corbett Wildlife... |

Where is Drew Martin and our local EarthFirst! peeps? Their lack of attendance here created the sparse crowd mentioned in the article. Click title for link.

Lake Worth Is the Coolest City in South Florida

This from one of our favorite pests, Fire Ant. After reading this article in New Times, I have trouble with the following. Anyone else similarly bothered? Click title for link.
Chamber of Commerce types throughout Palm Beach County have long laid the rap that Lake Worth never gets anything done, that city government is a terminal clusterfuck where businesses don't get respect from the obstinately retrograde natives. What about capital "P" progress, they cry?
Screw that. ElDub's stubborn skepticism about developers and assorted other real estate interests has been its salvation, the only thing that's kept it from joining the high-rise parade and get-rich-quick delusions that pave so much of South Florida's landscape. Okay, that may be bad news for those whose homes are about speculation, who dream of the next real estate bubble and retiring in luxury. (Like that's worked out so well anywhere.) But for us reg'lar folks, and especially students and artists and bohemian types (you know, interesting people) it's a godsend. Property values aint the same as human values.
This to me says it all. This is why we have had an eight year long draught, without coherent land development regulations that, thank God, is over now. I guess that Mr. Fire Ant thinks is it fine that the city lost 2/3 of it's property valuation over the same period. I, for one, am not speculating with my house - it is my place of choice to live. Maybe the city could be more altruistic with "reg'lar folks" if it had deeper pockets and did not have to defend arbitrary and capricious land development decisions of the past in a court of law. 

November 1st " All Saints Day" - What is it?

Fun Maps: Citi Bike Data Visualizations from the first 100 Days | Untapped Cities

The success of New York City's Citibike program is detailed through some cool graphics. One shows how the program compares to other international cities with similar program. New York says that ultimately the program will have 10,000 bikes. Each bike has GPS and other location detection features, which help keep track of the comings and goings, along with which stations are the most popular. Click title for link.

Palm Beach County western development clears early hurdle - Sun Sentinel

More greenfield development on the verge of coming to the western communities of Palm Beach County. This sort of green field development does not help Lake Worth's redevelopment efforts. Imagine the resources being used here to redevelop North Dixie Hwy. or buying up some of our 2,000 vacant or foreclosed properties. Saying "no" to change here accelerates the process. Click title for link.

Downtown West Palm Beach chapel condo likely would have... |

The delay in this project may allow the church, owner of the property, to reduce its price. With such a reduction, the necessity of the developer to squeeze every last bit of value from the building may result in one that makes more sense in this area. Some good points here raised by West Palm's City Commissioners. Click title for link.

Fukushima: Why There Is No “Safe” Level Of Radiation… [Updated] | UKIAH BLOG

Follow-up on previous Fukushima article from the same source. Some radioactive materials will be around the centuries and we happen to be at the top of the food chain. Click title for link.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Army Engineer: Public Safety Top Priority In Water Regulation

Good comprehensive article in the Town Crier about Lake Okeechobee and the conditions surrounding the dike. The priority now is public safety and preventing a collapse of what now has become one of the largest dams around - one that wasn't designed to do what it has been doing. Click title for link. From the article:
Greco said past phases of levee construction have served purposes then, but created a number of vulnerabilities that must be addressed today.
One of the biggest problems is that dredging material was simply dumped onto areas with layers of muck, which leaves a weakness in the structure. Porous limestone fill in the dike that was blasted out of the lake when the canal was dug also creates problems. Greco said levees are supposed to seep, but excessive seepage can become a serious issue.
Lake levels were kept considerably higher in the 1970s and 1980s, which put stresses on the dike that it could not handle.
In 1995 and 1998, failures were detected due to high water that reached about 18.5 feet, he said.

Sean Penn: "It's a poisonous thing."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rainy season runoff, sediment hard on Lake Worth Lagoon |

Long term solutions and a status report on the Lake Worth Lagoon took place at the County Commission Chambers yesterday. Click title for link to article. You might also want to listen to either or both of these High Noon in Lake Worth shows where we talked about the then up-coming Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative. The other show with Tom Twyford, President of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club included a lot of discussion about how to improve water quality in the estuary.

And in other water-related news, you can read about the on-going war between Florida and Georgia on the use of water.

From today's ribbon-cutting ceremony for E.R. Bradley's Beach Club at the Lake Worth Golf Course

Commentary: Why Germany Is Waging Its Green Revolution Wrong - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Unintended consequences here. Click title for link to article. Important to read, especially if the City of Lake Worth is going to stay in the electric power business. Do we even want to?
German law stipulates that renewable energy always has priority in the grid. When gaps emerge in the electricity supply, though, they have to be bridged by conventional power plants. Unfortunately, these are usually not gas plants, but ones burning cheaper coal. As long as there are no storage facilities for green electricity, every wind turbine and every rooftop solar panel will cast a dark shadow.

Fort Lauderdale installing electric-vehicle charging stations with wind turbines - Sun Sentinel

We heard a lot of talk about wind turbines as part of the beach renovation project, but in the end, nothing happened. A lot didn't happen like the cisterns and other items to make sure the building earned its LEED certification. Now there is some question whether it will meet the minimum requirements. Here, Ft. Lauderdale is using part of their stimulus money to fund electric car chargers, with a wind turbine component, in one of its parks. Click title for link to article. Oh, and did I mention that these wind turbines are 55 feet tall.
The wind turbines – with their curved, intertwining blades – look more like art sculptures than mechanical devices. And sitting on poles about 55 feet in the air, they'll be visible from Interstate 95.
"I think it's a great opportunity for education and outreach," Assistant City Manager Susanne Torriente said. "The more we can look at renewable energy options and alternatives, I think that's what the public wants."

Flood insurance hikes delayed |

Good news here, at least for a while, according to the Shiny Sheet. Click title for link. These changes would have broad impact on real estate in south Florida and it wise to take this delay to determine if the proposed maps are flawed or if they reflect reality. Here's what Peter Elwell, Palm Beach Town Manager says:
 “The town is very pleased to hear the announcement that implementation of these changes will be delayed,” said Town Manager Peter Elwell. “We believe that the process was being hurried and the methodology that was being used was flawed, so the fact that it was delayed gives everyone an opportunity to revisit the whole matter and make sure if the federal government does move forward with this type of change, it’s done in a more fair and thoughtful manner.”

Bicycle sales overtake CARS for the first time ever in Europe - and the recession is to blame | Mail Online

Credit for this is given to the recession. It also helps to have urban areas that accommodate the bicycle by providing parking facilities and routes. Public policy can also spur acquisition of bikes. Here is what the UK is doing. Click title for link to article.
Closer to home, a total of 3,066,000 bikes were bought in the UK in 2012, compared to just 2,045,000 passenger cars.
This may be due to a number of initiatives in the UK that promote cycling, including the government-based Cyclescheme, that lets people buy bikes at a discount and tax-free.
How about a sales tax "holiday" on bikes in Florida? Both public health and transit would benefit.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

David Beckham will pay $25M to launch new Major League Soccer team in Miami | Mail Online

Some good news coming to Miami - seems like a good fit too. Wonder where the team will play? Did Palm Beach County miss out? Click title for link.

Complaint Process - Code Enforcement - Milwaukee, WI

Much has been talked about how code enforcement, in addition to be outsourced, will be consistent with the Milwaukee model. So, to get to know this method better, I thought it would be good to provide a link to their website in order to understand what is involved. Nomenclature is different. There, code enforcement is called the "Department of Neighborhood Services." Here is another link to some of their guiding principles. Study away...some good stuff here.

Three Energy Policy Experts 10/31 by High Noon in Lake Worth | Politics Podcasts

Join your host Wes Blackman as he welcomes three energy policy experts to the High Noon in Lake Worth studios. Ret. Mayor General Bill Hodgkins will talk about the linkage between Energy Security and National Security. He is active in the group called Veterans for Energy (Vets4Energy). David Mica will be joining us as well. Mr. Mica is the Executive Director of the Florida Petroleum Council. He will discuss the following issues:
  • Background on the Florida Petroleum Council
  • Renaissance in American oil and natural gas production
  • Information on shale and shale development
  • Information on advancements that have enabled more shale development
  • Horizontal drilling
  • Hydraulic fracturing (fracking)
  • Where is fracking taking place in the U.S..? Can it/will it be done in Florida?
  • In-depth explanation of fracking process and safety measures
  • Dispel myths and misinformation on fracking
  • Highlight energy independence and economic benefits of increased domestic shale development

Also joining us will be Jennifer Fennell who is Vice President of CoreMessage, a Tallahassee-based public relations and issues advocacy firm.. She is also Field Director for the Florida Energy Forum.
All this is very timely due to the announcement this week's approval of the new Florida natural gas pipeline.
Click title for link to show between 12 and 1 p.m. THURSDAY or for the archived show after the show airs. Leave questions as comments below.

Cooper City shrinks official minutes: “Details you really don’t want the public to know about” | Broward Bulldog

According to the Broward  Bulldog, a Broward County municipality is "scrubbing" minutes. But they also have a video of all City Commission meetings, including one where two elected officials were really going at it. That tirade lasted for 12 minutes but is not reflected in the minutes of the meeting.

This issue has come up in Lake Worth before and at one point, then Commissioner Jennings decreed that the video of the meeting was the official record. However, the Sunshine Law requirement that minutes be taken of any public meeting would tend to place importance on the written record of a meeting, rather than a video.

I agree that it is difficult to find something on the video provided by the city of Lake Worth. You need to know what you are looking for and sometimes minutes of the meeting are where I go first to find something. Agendas are helpful too as you can kind of guess where in the meeting something took place. Part of my reason for making a habit of videotaping Commission meetings is that I can break sections out as distinct videos that make it easier to identify the topic being discussed.

This is from the article, click title for link.
In an interview, Greg Ross, who took over as mayor last November, noted that video recordings of commission meetings supplement the minutes. The videos are available on demand on the city’s web site and because of the videos, there was no reason for lengthening minutes, he said.
Carla Miller, founder of City Ethics, a non-profit organization that provides local governments with ethics training and programs, agreed with Ross that supplementing minutes with videos is good practice.
“If you have a video tape of it, to have 10 pages (of minutes) and not 16 pages is sufficient,” Miller said, adding that state law does not require “verbatim notes”.
But Daniel Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida a non-profit that promotes integrity in government, was critical of Cooper City’s practice. He said recording thorough accounts of commission deliberations in the minutes “would save Cooper City residents the hassle of going through hours of videos.”
“It is important for the public to be able to understand their officials…and their decision making,”
Krassner added. “More detailed minutes offer greater public understanding of how decisions are debated and decided.”
Commissioner Sims made a similar argument in lengthy complaints to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2012 and to Broward Inspector General John Scott in 2013 where he argued that Cooper City was violating the state’s Sunshine Law.
“Trying to find what you want to watch on a three-plus hour video is a frustrating and highly imperfect process,” Sims wrote. “Unless someone tells you where to look, the Internet (video of commission meetings) in no way makes up for the bare, unlawfully taken minutes.”

Aventura, City of Pettiness

From the Biscayne Times, click title for link. Noted south Florida historian and two time guest on "High Noon in Lake Worth" Seth Bramson tried to write a book on the history of Aventura. He has written many similar histories of other communities in south Florida. People at the city initially cooperated, but then found reason to block the publishing of the book when it included some recent history that the city found objectionable, but it happened to be the truth. Revisionism at its worst. This is from the end of the article - worth an entire read believe me.
Apparently in our city, the reputation of a manager trumps the First Amendment. The role of the city attorney has morphed into representation of the manager, not the city itself. Or just maybe the manager has become the city.
I hope that Bramson finds a publisher for his book. Even if one has little interest in the history of Aventura, we should all buy the book because we have an interest in upholding the right to free speech.

Grand Opening Tomorrow! (10/30)

Town studies logistics needed to broadcast public meetings |

Not sure what the problem is here. The Town of Palm Beach recently re-did all of their Town Hall including the Council Chambers. According to this article, they already have cameras there and the ability to stream video. Not sure what the hang up is. I know that when City Manager Bornstein got here, a simple webcam was installed in the Chambers just for this purpose. Click title for link to article. Here's what an expert says about the benefits of video streaming and archiving.
Kevin Wagner, associate professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, said he thinks televising or web-streaming live video of public meetings can boost officials’ accountability.
“We do work under the assumption that greater visibility of political activity is a good thing, that’s the foundation of the Sunshine law,” he said. “Political figures are much more cognizant of this kind of exposure and are a little more careful when the cameras are on them.”
The benefit, however, depends upon whether people are watching on line, he said. Archiving these visual records adds another layer of accountability.
“That also has an opening effect because members know that someone can look back on what happened a year ago. When you create a record of political activity, you create greater awareness among political figures and actors to be careful about the things they say and do,” Wagner said.

EXCLUSIVE — Source: Palm Beach Post Editorial Boss a Goner as Nine Take “Voluntary” Buyouts; Firings Next!

Jose Lambiet says that Randy Schultz is leaving and so is Willie Howard. Click title for link to article.

Antique Row community rises with real estate rebound |

West Palm Beach is showing what can be done along the Dixie Hwy. corridor. You also don't hear the harping about the lack of setbacks for this project that seems to come as a natural reaction here. This project is made up of the same three-story layout of many of Lake Worth's townhouses. Then Commissioner Golden said that people just don't live that way. Well, apparently, these people do. Click title for link to article. Here's a bit:
It’s been full steam ahead since then, said Label & Co. President Harry Posin, who is selling the homes in the $319,900 to $489,900 price range.
“I’m a difficult guy to please and my expectations are very high,” Posin said. “We’re anticipating an extremely robust season.”

Frankenforests in Florida: Campaign Condemns Genetically Engineered Trees, Hassles with UF

What is brewing now? It seems we have to worry about genetically engineered trees that will cause all sorts of environmental mayhem. This is one cause our local troop of EarthFirst! peeps are taking on, while ignoring water discharges and other pressing local environmental issues. Click title for link to Fire Ant article. Here's where you can find out more about GE trees:
The Growing Threat: Genetically Engineered Trees and the Future of Forests
October 30, Wednesday, 2 p.m.
FAU/Palm Beach State College Campus (Rm. t/b/a)
3000 Saint Lucie Drive, Boca Raton
October 30, Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Sweat Records
5505 NE Second St., Miami
November 1, Friday, 7 p.m.
Quaker Meeting House
823 N. "A" St., Lake Worth
Questions and further info:

Realtors worry about flood insurance |

Changes to the law seem to be in the works by Congress which would delay the increase for at least two years. This would give time for the study of the impact of such high flood insurance rates. Click title for link. From the article:
A statement from Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the bill “could pass quickly” with both Democrats and Republicans in support and the government shutdown over.
But it is unclear if leaders in both chambers — or lawmakers from regions where flooding is not a major problem — support the plan.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Meet the Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters | Politics News | Rolling Stone

Something that certain people should keep in mind. Perhaps they already are? Click title for link. Here is something particularly poignant from the article:
"Two things make today's surveillance particularly dangerous: the flood of 'homeland security' dollars (in the hundreds of millions) to state and local police for the purchase of spying technologies, and the fact that spook technology is outpacing privacy law," says Kade Crockford, director of the Massachusetts ACLU's technology for liberty program and the writer of the PrivacySOS blog, which covers these issues closely. "Flush with fancy new equipment, police turn to communities they have long spied on and infiltrated: low-income and communities of color, and dissident communities."

Special Presentation: Freshwater Discharges to the Lake Worth Lagoon

October 29, 2013 (Tuesday)
10:30 am
Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners Workshop
Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 6th floor Commission Chambers
301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach
For more information contact PBC ERM at (561) 233-2400.

‘Lake Worth 2020’ looks for way to pay for millions in repairs... |

This is a good overview of the program by Lona O'Connor. Click title for link. I am part of a meeting tonight where Michael Bornstein will be making a presentation and will likely have new information as this is said to be "ever evolving." I'll let you know what's new later.

Florida County Formation Maps

Interactive map showing the beginning of Florida counties and changes in their boundaries over time. Palm Beach County included the area now known as Martin County up until 1925. Earlier it also included Broward County and was part of Dade. Click title for link.

Research - Boynton Beach Historical Society

Click title for link to local research resources for historical and genealogical information. Click here for land history resources, previous owners, etc. These links are good throughout all of Palm Beach County.

Maxed out: 87% of donors to local state House candidates hit $500 limit; higher limit coming Friday | Post on Politics

Does anyone know if any changes will apply to local races? A good summary is provided in the article about how many and what percentage of the total were "maxed out" contributors in previous races. And why don't we look at what $500 in today's dollars was worth in 1992, rather than the other way around? $500 in 2013 has the same buying power as $300.30 in 1992. Annual inflation has been 2.46% on average over time since then. Click title for link.

25 years of service: Elwell shares challenges, rewards |

Nice article by Eleese Kopf of the Shiny Sheet. During my span at Mar-a-Lago, I had many interactions with Palm Beach Town Manager Peter Elwell. The take-away from those interactions was that Mr. Elwell always treated you fairly and knew the issue through and through. He is really gentlemanly in his interactions with people, which is important to the residents he serves. Palm Beachers appreciate a "known quantity" and this seems to continue to be a good match for all concerned. Click title for link to article.

Editorial: On Chapel-by-the-Lake, would West Palm Beach win? |

Randy Schultz of the Palm Beach Post editorial board weighs in on the Chapel-by-the-Lake property in West Palm Beach and the proposed two tower plan for a 24 and 25 story building there. At issue is a site plan that clearly does not meet the required setbacks and what precedent that would set for similar waterfront properties around the city. I'm not impressed about how the buildings relate to the street and most people will be coming and going by automobile. This is a typical "pedestal" residential high-rise that sits on top of a parking garage. Click title for link to article. The meeting for second reading of the request is before the West Palm Beach City Commission tonight.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mayor’s husband opposes Royal Poinciana Way zoning change |

A couple of things to point out in this article from the Shiny Sheet, click title for link. One is that the Mayor of Palm Beach ordinarily does not vote - the five council members vote on items, but the Mayor only votes unless there is a tie. The Mayor still runs the meetings and can contribute to the discussion of an item. Mayor Coniglio has so far stayed out of the fray on this topic, where her family owns commercial property, here her husband is weighing in on the debate before the vote coming in November.

It is also worthy of noting that the Coniglios own E. R. Bradley's and will soon be opening E. R. Bradley's Beach Club at the Lake Worth golf course clubhouse.

Halloween Hotel Story...

I found this on YouTube and thought I would share it here. This version seems to be a reproduction of the video master and leaves the screen blank during what would be advertisements. You can skip by those by hovering your mouse over the scale at the bottom of the screen and find where the picture picks up again. Due to this, the informative part of the program is actually much shorter than the 31 minutes indicated, so it is a quick watch.

There are a couple of reasons that I am sharing this. The Knickerbocker Hotel was built in the mid 1920s, like our own Gulfstream Hotel, and is built in a similar style of our landmark Lake Worth hotel. While our version did not enjoy much of the glamour depicted here, it did share the rise and fall of popularity during the past century with the Knickerbocker. It is also telling that the Knickerbocker Hotel is now a home for senior citizens and that might be a fate that awaits our Gulfstream if we are not careful. Also interesting to note how the area surrounding the Hollywood hotel ebbed and flowed over the years, which in turn affected the popularity of the hotel.

Seasonally speaking, it makes sense to see this the week before Halloween since much about the story of the Knickerbocker portrayed in this show is about it being haunted. There are also stories about the Gulfstream being haunted as some people who work there have been witness to some mysterious happenings there. The same is true they say about the Lake Worth Playhouse, formerly the Oakley Theater. And this got me thinking how we could capitalize on these spots, as well as others that there may be in town, to promote and organize ghost tours of Lake Worth. Something to think about.

If you watch the video, you will see that the Knickerbocker Hotel had a sign similar to the Gulfstream back in the day. Here is a postcard of the Gulfstream from that era.

Harbourside: the size concerns and excites Jupiter residents |

Seems like some Jupiter residents are getting indigestion from the size of this project. Could this be their equivalent of the Lucerne? Click title for link to the Bill DiPaolo story. Jupiter's Mayor Golanka is an urban planner and is quoted in the article.

The atomic town that isn't on any maps: Manhattan Project's secretive site where 75,000 scientists and their families lived during race to create a nuclear bomb | Mail Online

Check out the fantastic pictures from the once secret town, especially the ones on the Flicker feed. Our current time is not the only time our government has hidden things from the public. Click title for link.

Editorial: Lake Worth beach remake is successful, at a price |

The Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty,darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

So Andrew Marra sees the light. The light or truth is good, but what it reveals is bad, and part of the darkness that came before. We are going to pay for the project through our property taxes, regardless of Ms. Stanton's protestations to the contrary made at an earlier time.  The e-mail conversation that I had with her then was still at a point where some corrective action could be made to improve the financial viability of the project. But that was not to be since whenever legitimate questions were raised, they were dismissed as being from a group of  people that wanted the project to fail. That couldn't have been farther from the truth, but that sentiment prevented any constructive criticism of the project from being incorporated.

We now know the reality. The city has yet to make a principal payment on the $6 million loan taken out to partially fund the project - including the construction of a NEW building. Let's not forget to add the $2.4 million defense and settlement of the Greater Bay lawsuit and the $ million or so of utility improvements that sneaked in at the last minute.

From the article:
Nearly a year after the official grand opening, those predictions have been proven wrong. City residents this year are paying more than $400,000 to subsidize operations at the beach, and those subsidies are expected to continue for years. Far from a money-maker, Lake Worth’s beach continues to cost city taxpayers.
This is not new. The beach had been a money-loser for decades before its remake. Public amenities such as pools, parks and community centers are subsidized in any city. But the turn of events at Lake Worth’s beach reveals just how far off were the lofty predictions that city officials used to sell the project. Lake Worth residents, assured that their city was building a financially self-sustaining beach complex, will have to get used to the idea of covering more than 15 percent of its costs through property taxes.
I also hear that there are still water problems with the building and I am not sure the city has formally taken over the building from the contractor. It would be nice to have an update on the status of the construction punch list. Corrosion is still a problem as well, which is part of the unanticipated increased cost to maintain the building.

Commissioner McVoy - How are those ranges of financial performance pro formas now?

I hate to say I told you so, but I did just that. Click title for link to the full editorial.

Conversations with Susan...(Last published on 3 22 11 - Re-posted here in light of the Andrew Marra editorial)

Over the weekend, prompted by my sending her and the Commission the post regarding the lifeguard issue, I had a series of e-mail exchanges with City Manager Stanton.  They are part of the legitimate public record and I did not promise confidentiality, so I would like to share some of the exchanges here.  You might find them interesting...(I am not correcting sloppy e-mail typos - highlighting is mine)

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 dedicates 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 misrepresntation of reality.

SS:  I agree....  Like saying it is paid for with tax layers 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.

WB:  I am still concerned about the assumptions for the parking revenue - if they are realistic.  And, have they been adjusted to reflect the shorter operating hours now being considered due to turtle concerns etc?  And the whole "cash portfolio" self-financing also concerns me - We have never really gotten a good explanation what that is, despite your nine page memo to Commissioner Maxwell on the topic - which did not address his question btw.  And what is the likelihood of permanent financing??  And what are the chances that the city will run out of money during the project - without an outside lender the city wouldn't be compelled to finish it.

SS:  Oh my god .... You are right!   Gee... I never thought about any of that stuff?  What turtles?  And, we have no cash.  And, who would give us loan?   We need to rethink this whole project.

WB:  Sarcasm is a sign of weakness.

WB:  And why wasn't the FAB presented with these propose budget cuts before the Monday meeting?

SS:  Because they are not the policy making body.  And, we are not proposing a new budget.  

WB:  I understand your disdain for the past, but I thought you might be interested in this bought and paid for analysis of City Buildings and contemporary needs.  It was completed in 2006, but much of the information is still current.  I am looking for the Phase II report that was completed sometime in 2007.  If you already have seen this, please tell me.

SS:  I am just conceding ....

WB:  Wise.

SS:  I  have no such distain.  I just think it is time to  move forward.  I don't own the past... Nor can I change ALL the MANY bad decisions made yesterday in the shadow a better future.   I am working my to make a positive difference with so many people trying to keep their vested interest in the blackness of yesterday.

WB:  Well then we need to talk...because I am not against you or the casino project or anything that would make Lake Worth a better place to live. I have no other agenda other than the truth. The truth will set you free.

SS:  I never turn down an opportunity to talk and have a dialog with people.  I have had to adjust to the reality in this community that because people are just so tired of bad government and the constant rotation of Mayors, Managers and Commissioners all making bad decisions on incomplete information ….that my conversations, (like the one you were in the last time I had my “last” neighborhood meetings) is really a one-way monologue full of people telling me what a bad person I am and how much they want to see me or the City fail …. Etc etc etc.  I know people think it is not personal.  And, I know to them, it is not.  They are just upset and want to be able to unload on anyone who will listen to them. 

Wes, as I have said, I know you are a really bright and passion guy.  So many people in this community, like yourself have so many assets and base of knowledge, that I wish I could tap into in a positive way.  I have had to make a conscious effort to pull back … so I am not “pulled in” …..  Which is so unnatural to someone who took so much pride in the relationships I had in my last community.  And, with my employees.  It is very different here.  And, I suspects, it is why managers come and go each 20 to 30 months. 

But, I love Lake Worth.  I still believe I can have a positive impact, if I can avoid the blackness.  In my personal e-mail, under my signature reads the words ….. “Behold what you are …  Become what you Seek … Become Truth”  Wes, I have put a lot of my self in this city …and in my personal journey…. Seeking truth ..and trying to become truth is ways people can never fully understand. 

I would love to have good cup of coffee with you …. To explore truth.  ….to maybe even help, collectively….our community in becoming what it seeks …..

WB:  Thank you for a genuine conversation. I know you are in the position that you find yourself. I just care about the city and the TRUTH. That is my passion - to my detriment sometimes.