Saturday, June 21, 2014

Getting ready for the Fourth of July...

Good to remember when going to the beach...

This from State Senator Jeff Clemens:

The actual language below:
Florida Statute 316.081(3) "On a road, street, or highway having two or more lanes allowing movement in the same direction, a driver may not continue to operate a motor vehicle in the furthermost left-hand lane if the driver knows or reasonably should know that he or she is being overtaken in that lane from the rear by a motor vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed. This subsection does not apply to drivers operating a vehicle that is overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, or is preparing for a left turn at an intersection."

Editorial: Elections supervisor’s claims of veto power baseless |

Sometimes governmental officials get a little to big for their britches and seem to think they have more power than they actually do. This is one example. The Palm Beach Post does a good job and taking a couple of rungs off her ladder. Click title for link.

Lake Worth|

Attention - Lake Worth shutterbugs! Get out those cameras, take some appealing shots of our lovely city and upload them to the website. Click title for link. I just uploaded this beach pic I took yesterday. They review submissions and will e-mail you when they post them to the site.
Note: The link in the title will take you directly to the Lake Worth page.

Official Fourth of July Raft Race Schedule

11:00 am: Rafts line up for the Raft Parade on North J Street between Lake and Lucerne Avenues

11:30 am: Raft Parade takes off down Lake Avenue to the Bryant Park Boat Ramp

Noon to 1:00 pm: Pre-race party and Special Performances at the Boat Ramp

Wildlife 2060 - What's at stake for Florida?

Interesting and engaging look at Florida's future from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Here is what the urbanized area of Florida would look like if our state's population doubles to 36 million residents by 2060.

Click title for link to report. Notice that the south Florida area doesn't expand to the west that much, which means we will be living in an area of increased density. Notice also the sprawl development that would happen along State Road 80, the western continuation of Southern Boulevard.

Obama in the Toilet at Conservative Conference | TIME

This really is uncalled for but it is freedom of expression protected by the Constitution. Let's judge the people that would do this accordingly. Click title for link.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Taken Today - Casino Building Boo-Boos

Integrity Florida Statement on Gov. Scott Signing Ethics Reform Bill

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (June 20, 2014- Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill (SB 846) that makes incremental improvements to the state's ethics laws.     

"It's encouraging that for the second year in a row, the governor and legislature have advanced anti-corruption measures aimed at improving public trust in government," said Dan Krassner, executive director of the nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog group Integrity Florida. "While more work will be needed in the future to take on corruption, state lawmakers are moving in the right direction.

Integrity Florida applauds Governor Scott for signing the bill, Senator Jack Latvala for sponsoring the legislation, and Representative Kathleen Passadomo and Representative Jim Boyd for advancing it through the Florida House of Representatives. Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford delivered on their Work Plan 2014 promise to continue to improve Florida's ethics laws.

Integrity Florida is grateful for the collaborative efforts of our coalition partners in support of this ethics reform measure, including Common Cause Florida, The Tea Party Network, the First Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Awareness Foundation."

SB 846 contains the following ethics law improvements:
  • Allows the Florida Commission on Ethics to independently begin investigations when officials fail to file financial disclosure reports;
  • Requires lobbyist disclosure at the state's water management districts;
  • Requires annual ethics training for elected city officials; and
  • Applies portions of the state ethics code to Enterprise Florida and Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

SB 846 passed the Florida Senate unanimously by a vote of 38-0 onMay 2. The Florida House of Representatives approved the measure unanimously 118-0 on May 1

The new law takes effect on July 1, 2014.

Carl Sagan apparently met Bananabreath...

Chapel by the Lake development debate: Citizen group claims city is trying to shut them up -

This is a piece that appeared on the Channel 5 news last night about the Chapel-by-the-Lake project. The developer's attorney is also representing the city and doing so pro bono. This is irking the opposition as they think they are being ganged up upon. It is telling that the attorney points out that the group challenging the high rise's approval is against any change in the city. Hmmm. Click title for link and do not miss the video.

"If you like where you are stay where you are. If you want something new and exciting come to Lake Worth, Florida!"

While watching the PBS series New York, we came upon an adaption of one of the themes explored by the show. It essentially said that New York was a place to go to remake yourself into anything you wanted to be. We can apply the same adage to our Lake Worth lives too, and newcomers to our city. 

The Documentary was made in 1999 and the Twin Towers can be seen throughout. The tagline on the documentary''s website page says this:
This program was produced before the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
For nearly 400 years, the people of New York have faced adversity and prevailed.
This film is dedicated to them.
Highly recommended viewing about the history of one of the world's most important cities. For those disturbed by tall buildings, viewer discretion is advised.

Port’s defense of dredging causes flareup at transportation... |

Town of Palm Beach Mayor Coniglio is a surprise guest at the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting. She was greeted by a PowerPoint presentation of all the good things that the Port of Palm Beach expansion would do and how the dredging project is needed. It's sounds like things got a little out of control, but within limits. The Town is against the project for many reasons and is doing its best to derail the permit process. Click title for link. From the article:
After Baker’s 20-minute power-point presentation describing how widening and deepening the channel will help ships maneuver more safely through the inlet, Coniglio sat in front of the same microphone and criticized the project.
“I am somewhat surprised that the only presentation this morning is in respect to the dredging operation,’’ she said at the start of a five-minute critique. “I’m very disappointed by that.’’
When Coniglio returned to her seat in the back of the conference room, she was followed by MPO board member Ed Oppel, a port commissioner and staunch supporter of the dredging project.
As Lisa Interlandi of the Everglades Law Center spoke against the dredging project, her comments were interrupted by loud whispers from Coniglio and Oppel at the back of the room. “I’m very disappointed,’’ Coniglio snapped at Oppel before apologizing to Interlandi when heads of MPO board members turned toward the loud conversation.

Meals on Wheels expands to downtown Lake Worth

This is a great program and good to see its expansion in the Lake Worth area. This is an article in the Palm Beach Post about some of the particulars. Click title for link.
Mary St. Clair’s kitchen is so tiny, she quips, if you turn too fast you will run into yourself.
That small space, says the 76-year-old Lake Worth resident, is actually a good thing. With limited mobility because of a knee injury and other health issues, cooking can be very daunting.
“I manage, even if it is painful. I fall very easily and have to watch every step I take. But I have to eat,” says the widow.
But things are looking up, she says gratefully. Meals on Wheels of The Palm Beaches recently expanded into downtown Lake Worth – and St. Clair will soon be receiving a hot meal five times a week.
“This will help a lot. It is one meal I won’t have to worry about,” she says.
Meals on Wheels’ foray into the Lake Worth area had been planned for awhile, explains Charlie Ring, the organization’s executive director – but it became a reality after the organization received a $70,000 grant from the Quantum Foundation.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Collector's Item!

These are no longer being manufactured. So, if you were lucky enough to purchase one, put one in your attic and forget about it for a decade or two. You might make it on the 2034 season of Antique's Roadshow and blow them all away. Still missing are the actual green earrings that made it through the arrest in Miami and were showcased the following night at the City Commission meeting. If you find those, you might be able to retire in comfort.

From the Tom McGow archives.

Coming to the Stonzek Theater June 28th

This is a world premiere of an urban planning documentary filmed in Italy last year. I will be moderating the panel discussion. Afterwards, we will experience a live link-up to the two cities in Italy, Artena and Favara, where the movie was filmed last summer. Click here for free tickets to this special engagement at the Stonzek Theater. Seating is limited to the first 50 registrants. Below is the trailer for the movie:

A collection will be made for donations to the Lake Worth Playhouse during the event.

Lake Worth Police Department - Walking Down a Dangerous Memory Lane (Re-Post)

These are statistics, published in 2007, of crime rates in the city of Lake Worth during the previous year. This is three years before the PBSO arrived on duty. It's alarming to think about what we lived through and that there were some who thought it was a good idea to go back to our own police department. We would then be free to make more cuts regardless of the impact on crime on our resident and visitor population.
And in many ways, we are still recovering from the public perception that crime was out-of-control in Lake Worth. Public perception changes only over the long term. And I am not suggesting that things are perfect now, but they are a lot better than they used to be. This might be one of the reasons our property values plunged so deeply during the Great Recession and are only now starting to recover. It is reassuring to know that our property value increase was finally above the Palm Beach County average for both municipalities and the unincorporated area.
These are figures that are current through 2012. As I said, things are still not perfect and there are a few uncomfortable blips. If someone has a more current set of statistics, please share.

KidsFest planned for Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter | Northern Palm Beach County

Oh oh! Kids having fun at a spring training baseball stadium. This could eventually lead to dancing and card playing. Click title for link. From the article:
KidsFest, which includes admission to a baseball game and fireworks, is planned for Saturday, June 21, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter starting at 2 p.m.
Admission for children between 3-12 is $6.50. Adult admission is free.
Activities include zoo animals, bounce houses, relay races, balloon shapers, live music and food. Admission includes free entry into the 6:35 p.m. game between the Jupiter Hammerheads and the Bradenton Marauders.
A fireworks show is scheduled after the game.

Weekend ahead | Lake Worth every minute

AnnaMaria Windsch-Hunt's list of weekend activities in and around Lake Worth. Click title for link.

Miami-Dade approves deal with Dolphins to renovate Sun Life... |

Miami-Dade loosens its purse strings for the Dolphins' stadium improvements. The deal says that the county will pay when the stadium brings in a Super Bowl or World Cup game. Click title for link.

Locusts descend on Greenfield, California, what could be next?

Vehicle Recovery




900 Block WALNUT AV & 10TH ST

500 Block 12TH ST & WALNUT AV

Scripps Project at Briger Forest: Enviros File Second Legal Challenge | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

According to this article by Steve Ellman, good friend of JoAnn Golden, the "enviros" are a day late and a dollar short in filing complaints about the official environmental review done for the Briger Tract. They prefer to refer to it as the Briger Forest, since it suits their purposes better. He admits that the forest "while not virgin, is relatively unspoiled." That is the same condition that I and other readers may share. Click title for link.
Briger Forest, while not virgin, is relatively unspoiled. Straddling I-95 north of Palm Beach Gardens, covering almost 700 acres of land, it is a mix of hardwood forest, freshwater marshes, and prairie, an important locale for migrating birds. In addition to the Eastern Indigo Snake, an endangered species, it is home to the gopher tortoise, wood stork, snowy egret, and hand fern.
The developers' plans are tied to the local establishment's Ahab-like quest for the White Whale of bioscience dollars, the idea that public investment in projects like the Scripps Research Institute will ultimately bring a flood of money and jobs to the area. Instead of wildlife, the suits see about 5 million square feet of biotech and office space on part of the Briger Tract, thousands of homes, a 300-room hotel, and assorted retail space.

Sidewalk squeeze: Rules for hedges under scrutiny

Ah, living in Palm Beach, where one has to ponder the height of their hedge, its presentation to the street and that it be trimmed so that it never encroaches a public way to a height of eight feet. They have 47 such cases now working through code enforcement. The white-fly infestation has not been kind to many of the taller ficus hedges. Some were replaced with other plant species as a substitute. Meanwhile, Lake Worth will focus on our vacant and foreclosed structures. Click title for link.

Jane Addams

"A settlement constantly endeavors to make its neighborhood realize that it belongs to the city as a whole, and can only improve as the city improves."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Markus Zusak

“Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.”

Our first Lake Worth, yard-grown pineapple...

We still have another one growing in the courtyard that is not quite ready. They take 5 to 6 months to be ready after you first see one growing.

83-year-old West Palm Beach home destined to become Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot | Real Time

This structure would have a better chance of survival were it in a historic district. Looks like more parking for Dunkin' Donuts customers will be coming soon. Click title for link.

College Park Meeting Monday, June 23rd

Dear Friends and Neighbors, First of all Congratulations to Eden Place, our "Sister to the South" Neighborhood Association, who just held their first meeting last Monday. Attendance was awesome and so many great ideas emerged!

A reminder that the College Park Neighborhood will be meeting on Monday, June 23rd at 6:30 PM in our usual place:

The First Congregational Church
1415 North K Street
6:30 PM

Final prep for the July 4th Raft Race will be discussed along with our regular report from PBSO and updates on current projects and issues. Hope to see you all! A friendly reminder that if you haven't paid your dues for this year, you may do so easily on our website Also a reminder that if your Summer plans include travel, you may want to sign up for the PBSO HouseWatch Program. Here's that direct link.

A story of alligators and local TV news ratings...

Here is a story from Channel 5's Dan Corcoran about a missing dog and the alligator suspected of attacking the dog.

It is a well-balanced story with an interview of the missing dog's owner, some pictures of the suspected alligator, and advice as keeping dogs leashed, away from the canal.

Now let's take a look at the Channel 12 report by Peter Schaller.

Also a good story with more emotional content; still a decent news story. Note the intro by the anchor talent to Mr. Schaller's story and the neighborhood being "terrorized." Also note the young boys in Mr. Schaller's story in the water using kayaks. They don't appear to be terrorized.

Here is the Channel 5 video screen for the online news segment:
Now here is the Channel 12 screen for the news story segment:
Remember the movie Jaws?

Lovely Lake Osborne

Road repairs take back seat in Palm Beach County. - Sun Sentinel

Lake Worth is not the only one that has to catch up on infrastructure projects, particularly roads. The County has many more miles and tight money times have taken their toll on such things as striping to outright reconstruction. Click title for link to an article about the County's jam.

Lake Worth audit reveals cell phones for former employees were funded by tax payers' money - WPEC-TV CBS12 News :: News - Top Stories

Just part of what was revealed in the Internal Auditor's report to the Commission. Includes video. Your tax dollars have been flying out the windows at City Hall. But things are changing. Remember that the Best City Commission Ever and the Best City Manager Ever thought it was unimportant to fund the Internal Auditor position. Ms. Stanton said that we didn't need anyone else pointing out problems when she fired the one employed here. The Internal Auditor reports to the City Commission. Click title for link to video.

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

“If not me, who? And if not now, when?”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lake Worth Outdoor Summer Cinema Series

Point of View: GOP should return to Lincoln’s policy of inclusion |

Yesterday in the Palm Beach Post's op/ed 'Point of View' section is a must read in my opinion. Here are two short excerpts. Click title for link. Mr. Harold Buttitta of Boynton Beach opined:  
The current national Republican Party faces a very similar problem to that faced by the nascent party that Abraham Lincoln led in the late 1850s. Based on the unexpected election result of (House Majority Leader) Eric Cantor’s defeat, it seems unlikely that the modern version will deal successfully with it.
The party that Lincoln attempted to forge into a winning majority party in the antebellum period was an amalgam of disparate elements that included anti-immigrant Know-Nothings, negro-phobic urban dwellers, anti-slavery groups and devout abolitionists.
Clearly, attempting to mold a unified strategy given such a grouping was extremely difficult, yet Lincoln developed one.
Unfortunately, the defeat of Cantor by tea party elements in Virginia demonstrated a further erosion of compromise that is crucial to any party intent on winning at the national level. Victories that are based on extremes of the political spectrum, which this result seems to indicate, do not bode well for the GOP in the 2016 presidential election.

The midterm turnout battle in Florida: Democratic demographics vs. historic Republican strength | Post On Politics

The demographics, there are a changin'. A new Florida is emerging that will impact the direction of future elections. Click title for link. From the article:
When Jeb Bush began a string of four straight Republican gubernatorial victories in Florida in 1998,  white voters made up 80 percent of the state’s electorate. Now whites are 66 percent of registered Florida voters.
When Charlie Crist was a Republican and won the 2006 governor’s race, Hispanics made up 10.7 percent of the state’s electorate and the GOP had a 37.2-to-33.2 registration edge among Latinos. Today, Democrats have a 38.3-to-27.4 percent advantage among Latino voters and Hispanics make up 14.3 percent of the Florida electorate.

Now Showing on Netflix!

From the Tom McGow archives.

City Press Release (!): This is about the project at the east end of the LW Bridge

Neighbors angry with city's plan to remove trees, fences from backyards -

Brian Entin of Channel 5 does a great job reporting on the story out in Wellington of property owners along many of the canals that lace its residential neighborhoods. Over time, homeowners have populated the easement area, which can be 25 ft. from the edge of the canal, with landscaping, sheds and substantial out-buildings. Most all of those improvements will be removed as the village of Wellington is now clearing the canal areas. The work is long overdue. Click title for link.

Monday, June 16, 2014

PBSO says three were arrested on drug related charges in the south end of Lake Worth -

Three down, how many to go? Click title for link.

Editorial: No express trains, but good progress for new rail... |

Questions about the actual cost to the transit rider have yet to be made, but there is progress on getting the Coastal Link commuter train project along the FEC right-of-way started. However, it may be another 5 years before you'll be able to board in downtown Lake Worth and travel to downtown Ft. Lauderdale. This will have a significant, positive impact to our region. It is just that the devil is in the details. From the Palm Beach Post editorial, click title for link.
Amid all of the rancor over plans for a long-distance passenger train service along the South Florida coast, a different and even more important story is being largely overlooked, one that will have far more impact on the region’s railways and the development of its mass transit system. That’s the future of a local, Tri-Rail-operated commuter train service on tracks running through the heart of the region’s downtown centers, connecting cities from Jupiter to Miami.
It will be more than five years before this local train service, Tri-Rail Coastal Link, is up and running. But plans for what it would look like are starting to take shape, with an important agreement finalized in late April. Because the service would run on the private Florida East Coast Railway tracks, public transit officials have had to negotiate with the company, and coming to terms is hardly a given. Indeed, the most tenuous talks, regarding costs, are still ongoing.

Families in Palm Beach County reach out to kids crossing the... |

Sad situation and, unfortunately, a sign of the times. Click title for link. From the article:
Thousands of Central American minors, unaccompanied by adult family members, are sneaking through Mexico and across the U.S. border, where overwhelmed federal authorities have dispatched them to relatives around the country, including dozens to Palm Beach County.President Barack Obama declared the recent flood of young immigrants a humanitarian crisis and has provided money to house, feed and clothe the children at emergency facilities in Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and California. Federal authorities predict 90,000 such minors, mostly teenagers, will arrive this fiscal year, about four times as many as last year. Some estimates are much higher because the flood is increasing.
[later in the article]
He was taken to an immigration jail, where he spent two days, before being put on a military plane with about 35 other youths and flown to another locale in Texas, to a shelter run by a regional nonprofit youth organization called Southwest Key. There he says he was housed in barracks with about 100 other male teenagers. Girls were housed separately. They were all given a bed, clothes and three meals per day. They attended classes every day during normal school hours, studying English, math and U.S. history.
“They treated us very well,” Francisco says.
Meanwhile, a social worker put him in touch with his cousin Juan Francisco, 32, a landscape worker for a company in Wellington, who agreed to take him in once he was released.

The Golden Touch

From the Tom McGow Archives.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

John Oliver on GM-Speak: Both frightening and funny

Wellington to move ahead with canal reclaimation project in... |

Big issue out in Wellington where people have appropriated canal rights-of-way and easements for their own use and pleasure. After years of not being maintained, they are now forced to remove many improvement property owners and residents have placed within those boundaries thinking, wrongly, that it was their land. They are finding out now that it wasn't. Click title for link.
The village’s 88 miles of canals were first dug more than 30 years ago, but until five years ago, little maintenance was done on them. There has also been little policing of the village’s right-of-way along the canal bank, where residents planted trees and built fences that would otherwise be prohibited.
Of the 115 homes along the three canals in Eastwood, 41 properties have fences or vegetation too close to the canal — and in some cases, on top of major water mains.
Village officials urged concerned residents to look beyond their personal feelings to potentially greater consequences. The three canals in Eastwood provide drainage for more than 1,000 homes across 530 acres — all of which could be affected if the canals are blocked by debris.
“I would not be doing this if I didn’t think it was the right thing for the village,” [Wellington Public Works Director Mitch] Fleury said.

10 Best Beach Towns in Florida | SmarterTravel

Our wealthier neighbor in Palm Beach County continues to pile up the accolades, this time from a travel magazine. Click title for link to article. Here's what the say about the "Village by the Sea."
Delray Beach
This lively, vibrant beach town is an oasis in the hustle and bustle of South Florida. With its two-mile stretch of sandy beach and an abundance of art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants lining its main Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach is a sophisticated yet family-friendly spot that is anything but typical.
Don't Miss: Spot birds and butterflies hiding in the six individually designed garden complexes at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, including the Early Rock Garden and the Modern Romantic Garden. After a walk around the on-site lake and a tour of the bonsai collection, have a leisurely lunch at the museum cafe.

West Palm Beach mulls raising cap on old city hall site to 12... |

The tale of West Palm Beach's City Hall site continues and this time the discussion is about height. There is a limit of five stories on the books, but people keep seeking to push that limit higher to 10 and now 12 stories. I used to have an office on the second floor of that building for about four years as a planner in the city's planning department. That was 25 years ago and the building had issues then. City operations moved to the new City Hall on Clematis Street which, if you haven't been, is gorgeous! And so is their Library. Click title for link. From the article:
The head of West Palm Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency, saying he wants to make the old city hall site more attractive to developers, is recommending the city commission, sitting as the CRA board, agree to bump up the allowable height from five stories to 12, a figure at least one developer already has proposed.
CRA Executive Director Jon Ward also wants the city to issue a new “requests for proposals,” incorporating the taller height allowance.
Because a law passed in 2013 forbids referenda on zoning changes, “the CRA Board is asked to make a determination on a maximum building height to be allowed on this site,” Ward wrote in a memo for last week’s CRA board meeting.
Notice the reference to the 2013 state law that forbids referenda on zoning changes. That is the same law that made our vote in Lake Worth moot on the issue of height. Null and void, they said. Like it never happened...

A reminder of the turbulent past from which we emerge...

We were able to change course before it was too late. From the Tom McGow archives.

Lake Worth taking hard look at its electric utility |

Fantastic, comprehensive story in the Palm Beach Post today about the status of our electric utility. There are quotes from Mayor Triolo, City Manager Bornstein, Utilities Director Lidstrom and the Electric Utility Advisory Board chair Lisa Maxwell. The story is written by Susan Salisbury. Click title for link.

Happy Father's Day

My Dad and me, two summers ago on Casco Bay in Portland, Maine. He's doing well and living in Michigan. I hope to see him later this summer. May you enjoy the memory or the company of your father today.