Saturday, April 5, 2014

At the pool today with Sally Welsh's water exercise class...

Come join us! Saturdays at 11, Sundays at 10 - no class on April 19 and 20. Sally is about to start Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 a.m. It really is a lot of fun and if you haven't been to the pool, you really need to go.

Rocco's Tacos expanding to Delray Beach -

Skipping over Lake Worth. Click title for link.

Great piece from WestPalm TV about Mayor Muoio's participation in Lake Worth's Gay Pride parade last weekend...

Good shots of the parade and a nice scene of the two Mayors, of Lake Worth and West Palm Beach, having fun. Tony Plakas, CEO of Compass does a nice job too.

One more example of Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

Larry the Lenz ventures outside the realm of Lake Worth!

Our roving photographer, Larry the Lenz, got adventurous yesterday and broke through the physical and psychological barrier known as the Lake Worth city limits. He took his lenses on the road and ventured into a strange land known as West Palm Beach. There, he didn't encounter any dragons, the mythological creatures that were thought to inhabit the horizon when the Earth was thought to be flat. He did encounter a menagerie of wild animals in this unfamiliar terrain. He was able to use his GoPro and drone to catch the moment with these shots.

Where is this and how did they keep from falling off?

Well, like I said, there were no dragons, but there was a dinosaur!

Developer argues for role in challenge to ‘chapel’ condo |

A group is challenging the approval of the tall residential condominium on the Chapel-by-the-Lake property and the developer may join the city in defending the lawsuit. They believe that time is of the essence and any time delay would seriously impact the financial viability of the project. Click title for link to article.
Developer G.A.K. Partners, in a “motion to intervene,” said the court actions Citizens for Thoughtful Growth filed in February in Palm Beach County Circuit Court likely will freeze the project for months, “causing G.A.K. severe financial damage.”
The article also mentions the concept of legal standing in relation to the group that opposes the development. The city of Lake Worth questioned the legal standing of Laurel Decker in her now withdrawn lawsuit against the city.

Click here for the Citizens for Thoughtful Growth's website. Impressive night-time SKYLINE shot of West Palm Beach.

In other West Palm Beach development news, there is a new hotel planned for the Palm Harbor Marina along the waterfront. The plans call for a 7 story building with a parking garage on the water. This comes from the WalkableWPB blog. Check out the renderings and other details here.

Here is part of what WalkableWPB says about the project:
The project is unusual in downtown in that the Zyscovich downtown master plan (DMP) does not apply to the site. Instead, due to its history, itis governed under another set of  zoning standards and zoned as City Center-2 (CC-2). This zoning standard is not form-based as is our current DMP and would have likely required a tower-in-a park type development (think Trianon for an example).

Wisely, the developer has opted to utilize City Center- Planned Development zoning and the project is better for it. The proposal will engage the street, with an entrance on Flagler Drive and active use (restaurant). The public park will be a welcome addition to connect a very disused area of the waterfront that does not feel open to the public at present. This project will result in more public use of the waterfront and the infill of a good portion of the surface parking lot that currently exists.

Senate quiet zone funding aimed to curb All Aboard Florida... |

For the required grade crossing improvements, money from the state of Florida may be hard to come by. It seems that the House side of the legislature is not moving forward like the Senate side. However, there might be some federal money available. There are groups in the Treasure Coast that aren't warming up to the idea of a fast train zooming by their homes, especially when there would be no station, as currently planned, to serve the area. Click title for link to article.
“These negative impacts have to be mitigated,” said Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie, who serves as chairwoman of the metropolitan planning organization.

She said the MPO and its partners have asked for funding everywhere they can find it, and will travel to Washington next week to apply for federal funds through a Department of Transportation grant program. Other funds may be available from the state, even if the $10 million grant is cut from the legislature’s budget, such as rail enterprise funds.

10 plans to stormproof NY area are finalists | Crain's New York Business

From 150 different entries come ten considered finalists in an effort to protect New York City and other areas from inundation from storms like Sandy. There are some novel approaches here and all would be expensive. If ultimately approved and funded, the money would come from HUD. Interesting to review some of the proposals, including one called "The Big U" that would provide a barrier and park space around the southern half of Manhattan. Click title for link.
"If you deliver a design for barrier islands off Long Island, a similar solution might make sense in New Jersey," he said. "Then we can work with both communities to see if they are interested."

Mr. Ovink hails from the Netherlands, where he oversaw questions of infrastructure
and water management before being tapped by Mr. Donovan as a senior HUD adviser to run the competition.
Mr. Ovink believes that the competition process will serve as a standard of how to bring both international talent and ideas to local and regional questions of resiliency.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

What a difference a year makes.

Update from Mayor Triolo on Facebook (4/4)

Commission Discussion of Beach Permit Parking Policies and Rates from Tuesday night (4/1)

It looks like it will be $40 per year for residents and $60 for seasonal residents/non-residents, with no limit on the number issued.

Three WPB commissioners sworn in

My official congratulations go out to Lake Worth business owner Shanon Materio on being sworn in for another term on the West Palm Beach City Commission. West Palm Beach got out of having an election this year, as well as Lake Worth, since there were no challengers to the incumbents. Perhaps this political stability will help our two cities work together to create a better environment on the road that we share - Dixie Hwy. Click title for link to Eliot Kleinberg's blog.

FAU librarian sentenced to jail for bathroom videos |

This is a sad story of a Lake Worth person who led a quiet life, within the limits of the law, and then was caught violating the privacy of innocent people just to see if he could get away with it. He will be spending the next year in prison for his action. I believe that the judge was lenient. Click title for link.

Allen West’s new book dotted with familiar, but fake, quotes... |

Strange how the other blogger's idol also is a fan and a practitioner of revisionism. It seems that it is o.k. for some now to re-write and create things that famous people have said to justify their current political opinions. Why am I not surprised? This  has probably gone on in human history for a while, but the Internet provides fertile soil for these misquotes and made-up sayings to spread. Click title for link to article. Here is the last one that is discussed.
 A quote attributed to Patrick Henry in West’s book didn’t come from the 18th century Virginian’s writings or speeches, said Henry biographer Thomas Kidd.

West quotes Henry as saying: “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”

Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University in Texas, said the quote appears to be of relatively recent vintage and has taken on a life of its own on the Internet.

“The thing that’s strange about that quote to me is it actually sounds like something that Henry might have said…I find it puzzling that it keeps getting used. You can find similar things that Henry has said that are actual quotes,” Kidd said.

While the bogus quote bears some resemblance to Henry’s actual sentiments, Kidd said the giants of American history deserve better.

“If we admire these people,” Kidd said, “then I think we should represent what they actually said.”

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Complete Video from Park of Commerce Presentation (3/27/14)

Public Comment from Tuesday's (4/1) City Commission Meeting Unagendaed Items

Friends of the Lake Worth Library Meeting

Dear Friends,

The Friends of the Lake Worth Library’s next meeting will be Tuesday, April 8th at 5:30  to 6:30 pm in the rear patio at the South Shores Tavern (Corner of M St. Lucerne Ave.) and  I hope to see you all there!

Thank you,

Vickie Joslin

Sent on behalf of June Evans, President

The Friday Brown Bag Panel Lunch Series Sea Level Rise: County and City Solutions - The Marshall Foundation

Friday, April 4, 2014
11:30AM - 1:00PM 
Florida Atlantic University Fort Lauderdale Campus
Reubin O'D Askew Tower: MetroLAB (Bldg BC-04)
220 SE 2nd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale 33301
**Parking available at: City Park Garage, 150 SE 2nd Street for $1.25 / hr.
Click here for campus map   
This event is free.  Bring your lunch and discuss the issues with our panel: 
Increasing Community Awareness
Highlighting areas in south Florida most at risk to Sea Level Rise 
Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact
Countering flooding and contamination caused by Sea Level Rise 
Everglades Restoration
A mitigation tool against Sea Level Rise and salt water intrusion 
Guest Speakers: 
• Keren Bolter, FAU Geosciences PhD Candidate
Jason Liechty, Environmental Projects Coordinator, Natural Resources Planning and Management Division, Broward County
• Tara Bardi, Senior Scientist & Education Director, Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for The Everglades

Monday FILM NIGHT: Alain de Botton’s The Perfect Home (2006)

On Monday, April 7th, at 6pm in the Rosenthal Lecture Room at the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach’s offices, Alain de Botton’s The Perfect Home (2006) will be shown.  The Perfect Home is a documentary-essay film based on the book The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton.

The showing is FREE to all.  However, only reserved seating is available.  Those who wish to attend must call 561.832.0731, ext. 110 to reserve a seat.  Email responses are not accepted.

In it, Alain de Botton explores the importance of innovative architecture for homes. He offers criticism of modern developments that are built in an idealized fake heritage style, which he refers to as pastiche. He searches for answers to our housing crisis, and comes up with some suggestions for the perfect home: a kind of architecture that can make us happy. Suggesting that most new houses are built in appalling taste, he argues we urgently need to wake up to the merits of good design. He focuses on the point that make-over shows merely circle around superficially: that our environments determine how we feel.

He first looks at how the current status quo came about where builders are typically building houses with architectural styles harking back to preindustrial eras such as mock Tudor, neo-Georgian and mock country cottage façades. Then he examines what defines a building's beauty.
Next, he approaches how the current situation could be improved, with de Botton's preferred option being that buildings' architecture should reflect the era in which they are built. To this end, he favors examples of more contemporary designs being used in Japan and the Netherlands as a suggested alternative. Most of all, he argues for houses that help us to see the world as a place to feel at home in, rather than to fear.

The Foundation’s Executive Director Alexander C. Ives will present a short introduction, linking the film with the causes and work of the Preservation Foundation.
The showing will begin at 6pm.
Please note, doors lock at 6:15pm.

Refreshments will be provided.
As with all events, the Preservation Foundation expects attendees to act respectfully.  We reserve the right to turn away anyone.

The STROAD - Strong Towns Blog - Strong Towns

According to the Strong Towns Blog, Dixie Hwy. would be what they refer to as a "stroad." Essentially, it is a combination of a local street and a road designed to move cars at high speed. In the process, these sorts of roads don't do either job well. Unfortunately, it is a very common occurrence throughout our nation. Click title for link and check out the Strong Towns website. Especially focus on this page which talks about the characteristics of a strong town.

At about 2:30 in the video, they present solutions to solving the "stroad" situation and taming it for local, neighborhood, pedestrian and biking purposes.

It's OK2Talk about Mental Health!

In our recent #OK2TALK series of community conversations, Palm Beach County spoke about the need to improve our system of care for people with behavioral health concerns.  The citizens of Palm Beach County are working together to develop creative new strategies to identify people with signs of mental illness or addiction and to connect them to help.  We want to break the link between people with mental illness and the legal system!
House and Senate leaders are negotiating the budget for the coming year. We have to make our voices heard!
Please take a few minutes of time to contact the following members, and let them know that they need to increase mental health and support increased funding for DCF mental health and behavioral health programs. People living with mental illness are counting on you!
Contact TODAY with the following key points:

Subject: It's OK2Talk about Mental Health!
The citizens of Palm Beach County are working together to develop creative new strategies to identify people with signs of mental illness or addiction and to connect them to help.
We are doing what we can to improve our system of care but we need increased funding to implement our ideas.
Mental health and addiction services have been seriously underfunded since the mental institutions were closed 4 decades ago. The promise for funding to community-based services was never fully realized.
People with mental illness and addictions will be safer and healthier with appropriately funded treatment services!
Please do what you can to increase funding for behavioral health services!
To learn more about other legislative priorities of the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, please click here.
Thank you.
Here are key leaders to contact and use your zip code to find your legislator and senator below (copy and paste these addresses: ''; ''; ''; ''; ''):
Senator Don Gaetz, Senate President
Senator Joe Negron, Senate Appropriations Chair
Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, Senate Majority Leader
Senator Maria Lorts Sachs, Senate Minority Leader
Representative Will Weatherford, House Speaker
Also be sure to write to your district senator and representative!
Find your senator:
Find your representative:
If you can, please copy MHAPBC ( and your local Senator and House member on your email. Thank you!

West Palm Beach in Top 10 for parking cost, chance of theft

Interesting report from Eliot Kleinberg's blog on parking and vehicle theft in West Palm Beach compared to other cities. Click title for link.
In the survey, four of the top 10 were in Florida. Three of the worst were in California.

The top 10, in order: Boise, Idaho; Greenville, S.C. Jacksonville; Raleigh, N.C.; Walnut Creek, Calif.; Tampa, Charleston, S.C.; Fort Lauderdale; West Palm Beach; and Columbia, S.C.

The 10 worst: Chicago; Oakland, Calif.; San Francisco; New York City; Boston; Honolulu; Washington, D.C.; Seattle; Philadelphia; and Sacramento, Calif.

Mark your Calendar | Lake Worth every minute

A great summary of the upcoming weekend events in Lake Worth courtesy of AnnaMaria Windisch-Hunt - click title for link.

Delray commissioners rescind past decisions - Sun Sentinel

Wow! Sounds like the wheels to Delray Beach's wagon are a little wobbly. Hindsight is 20/20 and their Commission is going back and correcting prior decisions of a "lame duck" Commission. One of the members of that Commission, who lost her re-election bid, is under scrutiny for conflict-of-interest issues. Apparently, the patients were in charge of the asylum at one of those recent meetings. Click title for link.
"This was a horrible example of government," Commissioner Jordana Jarjura said, calling the March meeting's proceedings "gross and egregious."

City Manager Louie Chapman Jr. took a heap of verbal beatings from commissioners for placing the item on the agenda after city staff said it wasn't ready to be voted on.

"It was a hijacked agenda," Glickstein said. "This proposal was ridiculous, and it would be irresponsible to support this."

With Glickstein and Commissioner Shelly Petrolia out of town, Glickstein said he told Chapman to hold off on discussing topics that dealt with large sums of money.

When Glickstein asked Chapman why he placed the item on the agenda, Chapman's response was "I caved," after he received requests from the three other commissioners to review the proposal.

"You don't work for commissioners, you work for taxpayers," Glickstein told Chapman. "Cronyism and special interest dealings don't belong here. Your lack of leadership put this city at risk."

West Palm Beach: Bring spring training to city, on county’s... |

West Palm Beach still has a site in the line-up of potential spring training sites for a baseball stadium complex. This one is at Haverhill and 45th Street. There are some issues there, as well, but the city thinks they can be overcome. Lake Worth's entry of John Prince Park is still mentioned in the article, but it seems as though the County is no longer including that site as a possibility. Click title for link to article.
 The two teams aren’t yet convinced that they will one day wind up in the county, sources said last month. If the county can’t find a solution, the teams could try to pair up in Kissimmee, where the Astros now train, or in Arizona.

Last month, the county released a list of the 10 sites and proposed options to cover a shortfall in the county’s projected cost of building the two-team stadium.

Not on the list: John Prince Park, west of Lake Worth, which Lake Worth leaders had pushed. County staff cited state deed restrictions on the park land, but Lake Worth officials have said they believe those issues could be overcome.

Town happy with success of Par 3 Clubhouse, restaurant |

Tons of people are using the clubhouse and golf facilities the town of Palm Beach just improved at their Par 3 golf course. The Clubhouse opened in the middle of January and is exceeding financial expectations. At times, the 71 parking spaces are overwhelmed. Of course, this is a different market than the people that go to our Casino building and patronize those businesses. And different than our golf course in view from this property across the Lake Worth lagoon. But it is worthy of note that the two properties are less than a mile apart and share a similar view of the ocean. One has a beach and no golf; the other has golf and no beach. Our golf course is close too. You can see the new Palm Beach Par 3 Clubhouse from the deck of ours.

For Lake Worth's part, it has a second floor restaurant space at the beach that is still looking to find a tenant. It is being used in an ad hoc way as office space for Casino building personnel. I believe that the restaurant at the Palm Beach facility is also on the second floor. Look at this video highlighting the golf course's features. This simple production is something that the city of Lake Worth could have done for the beach complex as well as its golf course.

Here is a snippet from the article. Click title for link.
Since its opening on Jan. 17 through March 31, the total golf course revenue was $510,572, up 53 percent compared to the same period last year, town officials said. In the same period, golf rounds increased from about 8,000 to 10,000, or 25 percent, over the previous year.

“We knew we would be successful, but we didn’t know we would be this successful so quickly,” said Recreation Director Jay Boodheshwar. “It’s very nice to see these kind of numbers beyond what we had imagined. It’s a great problem to have.”

Merchandise sales increased a whopping 170 percent, from $19,951 to $53,960, during the two-and-a-half months.
That $500,000 is reminiscent of the figure that Lake Worth elected not to pay itself back in this budget year. I don't know what would have changed to allow the city to begin recouping the $6 million and change it used to build the new Casino building in this coming year's budget. We were promised that money would be paid back and our water utility made whole again.

It is just striking to me that two municipal projects within such a short distance from one another would have such different records of financial performance. We have heard it said that the business plan for the beach was flawed. It's time to fix that.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Restoration of the Town's (Palm Beach) Computer Systems Continues

Restoration of the Town’s computer systems after Monday afternoon’s unexpected failure is progressing. Staff from the Office of Information Systems is continuing to reconnect all functions and users so the Town’s systems are back to normal operations as soon as possible. While this work continues, some of the features on the Town's website may be inoperable, including but not limited to the employment and permitting systems. Email communications to and from the Town will also be affected.

Police and Fire-Rescue emergency communications remain unaffected.

If you are trying to reach an employee of the Town, you are encouraged to directly call the applicable department or office. Please use the staff directory at the bottom of each page on the Town’s website or click on the link below to search for phone numbers.

Vaclav Havel

"Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs."

Residential Vegetation Amnesty Week | Last Week of May - Announcement from City

The last week of May - May 26 through May 29 - residents may leave up to 12 cubic yards – approximately ½ of a dump truck – of yard vegetation at the curb for pick-up.  Pick-up will occur on the normally scheduled vegetation collection day. 

Amnesty week allows residents to prepare for hurricane season and no citations will be issued for excessive yard waste during the week.  The amnesty applies to residential service only.

John Prince Park not under consideration for spring training... |

This seems pretty final. It is clear that this was not done in reaction to the action of a few "neighbors." It just is an impractical site for a number of reasons. At least Lake Worth was being talked about and was seen as being proactive in an attempt to keep spring baseball on the east coast of Florida. Click title for link. From the article:
A handful of Lake Worth residents showed up at a County Commission meeting Tuesday night to urge commissioners to reject any plan to use 80 acres on the north side of the 728-acre park for spring training.

“It is a sin to even consider a ball stadium at this location,’’ said Pamela Bergsma, who raised the issue during public comment.

“’There’s no crying in baseball’ has not taken on a whole new meaning. There will be a lot of tears shed if you allow this glorious piece of green space to be replaced by a ball stadium.’’

Another speaker was ready to voice opposition when Valeche replied to Bergsma’s comments by telling her she has nothing to worry about.

“John Prince Park is certainly not on any list to be developed. It was dismissed a month ago,’’ said Valeche
, who is helping spearhead the county’s efforts to lure more teams to the region.
You can now resume the usual levels of hysteria.

Commission Reports from last night (4/1)...

New Life for Eden Place Neighborhood Association (4/1)

From last night's meeting (4/1), Proclamation of May 2014 as Foster Care Month

There is an alarming need for foster care families in Lake Worth. Please listen to the whole presentation.

From last night's City Commission (4/1) - Recognizing the Importance of Volunteers

Crash hinders town’s computer capabilities |

Stuff happens, even to the best of us. The Town of Palm Beach is overcoming a major computer network crash, which also affected their website. I remember about ten years ago, I was doing research in Town Hall on some archived computer files. After a couple days of tedium working through a technician who had to manually search individual computer files for me, I brought what was then something new. That new thing as a thumb drive. He plugged it in to their system and I was able to copy data in bulk and it took about 1 minute, instead of hours. When I came back the next day, their IT guy didn't appreciate the concept and we weren't allowed to do it that way again. That's not what happened here, but the Town of Palm Beach runs a tight ship and I am sure that this was frustrating for everyone involved. Click title for link to a Shiny Sheet article.
“Email and many other systems that we use for collecting and managing data — all of those are affected by this,” Elwell said. “Employees are not able to do their work in the manner they are used to doing it each day. There is a lot of adaptation. Things are being done by hand-processing and mobile devices.”

One aspect of the system that failed is a security feature called authentication, the system that people with passwords use to get into the system.

The crash occurred after data was transferred from one server to another.

“When the migration was complete, and when they made the cut-over, inexplicably we lost our authentication, so the systems shut down,” Elwell said.

Proclamation Honoring the Lake Worth High School Ethics Team

It's their third straight Ethics Bowl here in Palm Beach County! There are now going to Chapel Hill, North Carolina for the national event at the end of this week.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

That was then...

From August of last year, about the time the lawsuit was filed...

Former plaintiff in the Decker vs. City of Lake Worth lawsuit responds to John Rinaldi on Lynn A's blog last summer...

 (Editor's note: there is some overlap to show this was part of the same comment.)


Progress - Demolition of a dilapidated house, 100 block of North D Street, east side of street...

Not much left of the house as we were riding by. We stopped and the guys doing the demo said the house was down in a matter of two hours. They were just cleaning up the lot when these pictures were taken. They had separated out the aluminum and some other materials to be recycled. This, from all appearances, is a city-ordered demo. The structure that had been there had many colorful stickers on it for a long time.

County Engineer George Webb: Okeechobee Boulevard to be reconfigured to multiway boulevard | WalkableWPB

This is great news. Long-time County Engineer George Webb has seen the light and agrees that a more pedestrian friendly Okeechobee Boulevard is needed. Getting across that roadway now, if you are coming from the Convention Center to City Place is only a thing for the hale, hearty and fearless. His concept would be to establish a "multi-way" which would provide places for pedestrians to more safely rest as they wait for traffic to pass. The addition of shade trees would help during our warm and humid summer months. Click title for link to the WalkableWPB blog.

BBC News - Climate impacts 'overwhelming' - UN

A sobering assessment of the effects brought by climate change. Most every region of the globe will experience changes over the next 50 years and crop yields are expected to diminish as population continues to grow. The time for denial has ended. Click title for link to article.

An example of an adaptation strategy would be the construction of sea walls and levees to protect against flooding. Another might be introducing more efficient irrigation for farmers in areas where water is scarce.

Natural systems are currently bearing the brunt of climatic changes, but a growing impact on humans is feared.

Members of the UN's climate panel say it provides overwhelming evidence of the scale of these effects.

Video of the 2014 Pridefest of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches. Video by James Stafford Photography.

Special Announcement: SAVE THE DATE!

Lake Worth Chronicles - Part V

Imagine the surprise when I went to my mailbox yesterday and received this invitation for a glorious event later this year. We have been through a lot this year in 2025 with mega-superstorm Gilgamesh, the implementation of the mandatory bicycling program and ash from the Cuban volcano, but this is truly something to celebrate.

I hope that you are able to join me and celebrate this holy union. Make sure to disable your bio-Internet connection during the ceremonies. There are indeed some delicacies on the menu.

Delray Beach: South Florida’s emerging ‘it’ town | New York Post

Flattering article in the New York Post about our nearby neighbor Delray Beach. The article tells New Yorkers that in the time it takes to watch the movie "Divergent", they can be strolling Atlantic Avenue. They also point out that Delray lies between two international airports, which allow for air travel options. Delray's Marriot and Seagate Hotels get special mention. Click title for link. From the article:
 The town’s anchor has long been the Delray Beach Marriott (from $129), across from the ocean. It has always offered more than its name might suggest: Mediterranean décor, a spa lit by chandeliers and a Clefs d’Or concierge who knows more about the town than the mayor. This year the hotel rose to another level, thanks to high-end duplex villas with bathrooms bigger than most New York apartments. It also added 50 Ocean — an upscale restaurant with an outdoor terrace and picture windows overlooking the water — and Sandbar, an adults-only tiki bar that draws a late-night crowd.

Among other hotel options are Crane’s Beach House, which has a low-key vibe that feels like Key West, and the chic Seagate Spa and Resort. Seagate has its own beach club, renovated golf club, lap pool and the Atlantic Grille restaurant, where exotic fish tanks bring you nose to nose with sharks and moon jellyfish.

Monday, March 31, 2014

More evidence of the popularity of America's pastime in the state of Florida...

Click here to get yours.

Paranoid much?

This was a comment after the Palm Beach Post editorial on the All Aboard Florida fast-train project. It appeared as a letter to the editor in the print edition, it raises some specious concerns. This is a certifiable "naysayer."
Earth to Mr. Roth, sabotage can happen now with freight trains carrying hazardous chemicals or passengers. Passengers can also carry whatever on Amtrak. I would guess that monsters under the bed were a real threat and still may be. The Post should be more selective about what merits publication.

Every U.S. County's Favorite Baseball Team (According to Facebook) - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic Cities

I stumbled upon this link to an Atlantic Cities article which maps areas of the country that favor one professional baseball over all others. Since this is opening day and we have been talking about the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals possible spring training facilities in Palm Beach County, I thought this would be of interest. Here is the map which is worth some study. By the way, there are many people in metropolitan Washington, D.C. that would like to come to Florida in March and catch up on their favorite team.

Check out the link to the larger map referenced in the first paragraph.

Video Teaser - One of many that are on their way from yesterday's Pridefest parade

Destruction of Old Trees Inspires First Ever ELF Action in Iran | Earth First! Newswire

Personally, I think ELF should focus on Somalia, Yemen and Uganda. I am sure they could find a target rich environment there. Click title for link.

Sober-condo takeover raises concerns |

West Palm Beach has its hands full as it relates to sober houses, or living units in this case. The particular property featured in this article is a dog-eared condominium on Georgia Avenue, just south of Belvedere Road. State legislation seems to be on the way so that there can be more local control over such residences, but they are also protected by federal ADA and Equal Housing laws. They are trying to get something done during this session. Meanwhile, local governments are doing the best they can with the tools that they have. This is how West Palm Beach is managing this particular situation. Ms. Vann has been in the planning department in West Palm Beach since I was there, going back some twenty years.
Angella Vann, planning and zoning administrator for West Palm Beach, said city officials have known about Good Decisions Sober Living at the Green Terrace condominium for about a year because it had to apply for rental permits.

Vann said 14 of the two-bedroom units owned by Bailynson have been approved by the city for two people in each of the bedrooms. The other half are currently under review.

“Nothing is stopping (Bailynson) from buying every unit in there,” said Vann, noting that there are code enforcement issues that the city is working with Bailynson on to get resolved. “We know the complaints and are doing the best we can within the parameters of the law.”

Report: Energy industry exerts outsized political influence in Florida

Nonpartisan government watchdog group Integrity Florida released a research report titled  "Power Play: Political influence of Florida's top energy corporations".

Click here to read the report.
Click here to read the press release.

The findings conclude that, increasingly, the Florida Legislature sets its agenda and policy outcomes based on the needs of large political donors rather than the public interest.  In one recent example, the sitting state senate president openly explained his position on a public policy issue as supporting whatever one major campaign donor tells him to support.  A large Budweiser distributor contributed nearly $300,000 to political candidates and committees aligned with Senate President Don Gaetz and had the edge on its smaller craft beer industry competitors.

A similar pattern exists for the energy sector in Florida where the Florida Legislature maintains a traditional, regulated monopoly-utility model.  This report examines the political influence of the state's four largest electric utility companies: Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy (formerly Progress Energy), TECO Energy and Gulf Power.

These four corporations registered, on average, one lobbyist for every two state legislators each legislative session between 2007 and 2013.  For the last five election cycles, these electric utilities were among the largest donors to state-level campaigns in Florida.

In the same period of time, the policy wins for the four electric utilities included rate increases for customers, legislation that allows early cost recovery for nuclear facilities that have not been built, the defeat of a proposal that would have increased electric bill transparency and the removal of consumer-friendly state regulators who opposed two proposed rate hikes.

Summary of Research Findings  
  1. Major campaign donations.  Electric utilities contributed more than $18 million to state-level candidates and party organizations between the 2004 and 2012 election cycles.
  2. Significant lobbying.  Lobbying spending by Florida's four largest electric utilities was more than $12 million between 2007 and 2013.
  3. Revolving door and cronyism.  Electric utilities have made a point of hiring former state regulators and have employed the firms of several sitting state legislators.
  4. Higher electric bills for consumers.  Floridians have faced higher electric utility bills from each of the four corporations examined in this study in recent years.
  5. Anti-consumer regulations.  The Florida Legislature and the Florida Public Service Commission routinely side with electric utilities rather than consumers. 
Summary of Policy Reform Recommendations  
  1. Apply uniform ethics rules for legislators and local officials.  If local officials are banned from legislative lobbying, then apply the same rules to legislators lobbying local officials.
  2. Put inspector general reports online.  Inspector general investigative reports and audits should be posted online by the Florida Public Service Commission and all state and local agencies.
  3. Put gift and client disclosures made by all state and local officials online.
  4. Require additional disclosure for political donations from government vendors and companies regulated by the Public Service Commission.
  5. Establish electric bill transparency.  Unbundle bills with detailed disclosure of rate components.

Dan Krassner
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Integrity Florida

Ben Wilcox
Research Director
Integrity Florida

Cities, counties are poised to regain some control over Florida's short-term vacation rentals - Sun Sentinel

A bill is coming down the pike that will allow some regulation of short-term rentals by local governments, but not an out right prohibition. This would address some of the consequences of the 2011 passed to prohibit local governments from regulating the practice more so than what was already in their code of ordinances. It seems to be a step in the right direction, but it still comes down to local enforcement. Click title for link to the Sun-Sentinel article.
 "I'm not trying to put vacation rentals out of business; nobody is. It's too valuable to our economy," Thrasher said. "We just want a balance of regulations between the rights of the people who have them and the rights of the people who live around them.''

For instance, Fort Lauderdale would like to consider requiring registration of vacation-rental homes, limiting the number of vehicles and enforcing noise restrictions, Feldman said.

The Senate bill was co-sponsored by a trio of South Floridians: Sobel, D-Hollywood, Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, and Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach.

Sometimes legislation needs to be undone, Ring said.

"Sometimes we don't know the consequences until it's in our face," he said. "We shouldn't be telling the cities of Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale how to handle their vacation rentals. Let the residents of the cities make that decision, it's their homes, it's their communities."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Another product of Pridefest...a meeting of the minds?

Aside from a little distraction (or two), two former opponents were able to talk tech about photography and drones today. More evidence of the calming political waters here.

Good comeback - a researched response to the Post's article on the economic impact of the Grapefruit League

Click image for easier reading. This was a comment filed on the Post's website in response to the article linked to and commented on earlier today. Someone actually did what is called "research." Perhaps the Post can try that method in the future.

Notables, some with yours truly, from Pridefest...

Lake Worth's Electeds in the Pridefest Parade Today

Mayor Triolo

Commissioner Amoroso

Commissioner Maxwell

Commissioner McVoy

Commissioner Szerdi