Saturday, July 11, 2015

How El Sol in Jupiter, FL successfully helped the Guatemalan community and gained neighborhood support

Jocelyn Skolnik of the El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center in Jupiter is setting the bar high for other Guatemalan help centers in Palm Beach County and the state of Florida. This article by Janis Fontaine appeared in the print edition of The Palm Beach Post in Thursday's (7/9) neighborhood section. Here are a few excerpts from the article about Mrs. Skolnik and her unique, successful approach to helping the Guatemalan community:
     Jocelyn Skolnik came to the United States from Guatemala in 2003, a brave 18-year-old on an international student’s visa. She came to study political science at Florida Atlantic University’s Wilkes Honors College. Today, Skolnik, 30, is the executive director of El Sol, a successful, innovative neighborhood resource center for immigrants in Jupiter. [emphasis added]
     Soon after she arrived at FAU, Skolnik met her adviser, Dr. Timothy Steigenga, a political science professor and department chairman whose research focuses on religion and politics in Latin America. Steigenga recruited her to work on a survey of the local, largely Guatemalan, immigrant population in Jupiter.
[and. . .]
     Sometimes the right thing to do is to refer people to existing programs, Skolnik said, but educating people about available services was another challenge. But every time El Sol solved someone’s problem, word spread. “They started trusting the center,” Skolnik said, and the community did, too.
     Skolnik said she’s most proud that her hard work has helped overcome the skepticism and the negative opinions about El Sol. But she doesn’t like taking the credit. Of El Sol’s success, Skolnik said, “I think it’s the people around me. We have some really great leaders in the community who are willing to give support. I just shed light on these needs and people support us.
[and. . .]
     Jupiter’s unique solution has garnered the town and Skolnik with well-deserved praise. A 2011 New York Times editorial about El Sol said: “Nobody has the one big immigration answer. But Jupiter has an answer.” It called Jupiter “a wise community” and its solution “extraordinary.”
     Then, in 2013, Skolnik was named a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama. The award recognizes individuals who have worked to promote positive change in their communities. She was recognized at a ceremony at the White House.
     “I could not believe it,” said Skolnik, who recently moved to Palm Beach Gardens with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. She didn’t even know she’d been nominated. Her family was invited to come to the ceremony. “My father came from Guatemala.”
Jocelyn Skolnik's approach has been very successful: working with the community, neighborhood associations, and the local municipality to solve problems. If you would like to learn more about El Sol visit their web site and you can learn more about their clinic here.

Riviera Beach: planning to become a year-round, "go-to spot" for food and crafts

This is a feature in the Florida Weekly; a short excerpt:
     Riviera Beach is positioning itself to become the go-to spot for a year-round market offering fresh local produce and unique arts and crafts.
     As part of the town’s $375 million waterfront redevelopment project, town officials are envisioning a $30 million market that will be the only one of its kind in Palm Beach County to be operating six or seven days a week. [emphasis added]
     It is expected to feature a variety of locally sourced produce and flowers, fresh and prepared foods and locally caught fish, plus small retail spaces for local artists and craftsman to display and sell their work.
     The Palm Beach County Commission provided an initial grant of $150,000 and is being requested to provide an additional $250,000 to help complete design of the public market. The town’s Community Redevelopment Agency is seeking over $30 million in federal New Markets Tax Credits to raise private capital to construct the Public Market.

Sun Sentinel: "Traffic surges on Lyons Road in western Palm Beach County"

This is an excellent piece of reporting by Angel Streeter. Along with the text of the article there is also a video, a map, and helpful links. Already Lyons Road is over-capacity; this is from the article:
Lyons Road between Clint Moore Road and Atlantic Avenue has the highest growth in traffic than any section of road in Palm Beach County. Traffic jumped from 7,961 vehicles a day to 14,399 — an 81 percent increase — on one section between 2013 and 2015.
Here are the first few paragraphs that give you an idea how bad the traffic situation is:
The road with the most traffic growth in Palm Beach County in recent years isn't Glades Road, Okeechobee Boulevard or State Road 7.
     Lyons Road, a quaint, suburban road that serves the county's western communities, has seen traffic grow on some sections in recent years at a pace that is hard to rival.
     With new housing developments, shopping centers and better access to the west, the county is planning a series of widening projects on Lyons to accommodate the growth. Five projects are planned in the next three years, more than any other road in the county.

Historic Park Avenue Hotel in Detroit Imploded this Morning

This is making way for the new Detroit Red Wings Hockey Stadium and surrounding complex. Preservationists wanted it to be integrated into the new project.

Pedestrian/Train Fatality this Morning: 800 block of South G Street

Friday, July 10, 2015

True Story: a rally in support of Confederate Battle flag in Loxahatchee, Florida (and why they need a history lesson)

First, for some perspective, a must read is Eliot Kleinberg's explanation of the difference between the Confederate flag and the Confederate Battle flag. The flag a group is rallying for in Loxahatchee is a relatively recent phenomena:
Until the late 1940s, the study said, the flag’s display was limited mostly to Confederate museums. Then, in 1948, “it appeared at the Dixiecrat convention in Birmingham (Ala.) as a symbol of southern protest and resistance to the federal government,” the Georgia essay said. [the essay referenced is a "history by Georgia’s Office of Secretary of State"]
Kristen Clark at The Palm Beach Post had an article on Tuesday (7/7) about a planned rally for the Confederate flag in Loxahatchee:
     Supporters of the Confederate flag are reportedly planning a rally on Saturday through Loxahatchee Groves and Royal Palm Beach and along Wellington’s northern border, according to an event flier making the rounds on Facebook.
     The flier says the “American & Southern Flag Rally” will be a “parade” down parts of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road, Okeechobee Boulevard, State Road 7 and Southern Boulevard. It begins at 9 a.m. and is being promoted as a “peaceful and respectful” event.
Here is part of the image from the reporters article:
A distasteful merging of the American flag and the Confederate Battle flag.
The media will all be there on Saturday and it would be nice to see some "people on the street" interviews. The Other Blogger will certainly be there; she's real big into myths and historical revisionism:
Here is a question for those in the media to ask some of our friends in Loxahatchee on Saturday: "Did you know the flag you're rallying for was in anger over the Blacks fighting for their civil rights in the late 1940's?" Prepare for silent, icy stare.

There are many people who truly believe the flag they are rallying to support is in memory of fallen Confederates and a reminder of Southern heritage. It's not. That flag is an icon that was stolen by some who have an entirely different agenda; and that agenda has nothing to do with heritage or bringing our nation and communities together.

Zoning Rules! Except When It Doesn’t

There is a new book out with the above title. The author makes an argument that while the beginning of zoning in the 1920's was primarily about the separation of different types of land uses, it has now gone too far. The author, who is both a planning academic and a member of a local zoning board for years, thinks that zoning laws have become too all-encompassing and they are keeping out people who could potentially be living in cities. His examples appear to come from larger metropolitan areas.

He says that the evolution of the zoning concept has put the control of land development in the hands of homeowners, not in the interest of the broader public. This has a way of artificially limiting density as these homeowners assert their rights through what has turned out to be a very cumbersome approval process. He also suggests that zoning limits economic growth to a large degree.

I am sure there are people that would disagree with his conclusions, but it is an interesting perspective. Here is part of the article:
     In the United States, local government is dominated by homeowner interests; one simply needs to sit through a single local zoning meeting to understand the passion these voters have. When their money is directly on the line, people will show up to defend their interests. While Fischel speaks out in support of “good-housekeeping” zoning, he clearly thinks that political dynamics have broken a once-useful tool for sound regulation, locking many people out of cities who would like to live there.
     This makes land-use regulation special. Good policy should strive to be “place neutral.” That is, local governments should not seek to enrich current residents at the cost of prospective residents. Yet, the political power of homevoters is near impossible to break. Fischel offers up a few remedies to stem the anti-density tide, which would help to varying degrees.
This dovetails perfectly with an editorial in The Palm Beach Post on July 6th titled, "Developers’ aims for western county spell traffic nightmares". The editors take aim at western sprawl and the high cost to the taxpayers in new infrastructure. What was not addressed is why western sprawl is occurring in the first place. That will be a topic for another day.

The Lake Worth Herald about David McGrew, the City's Horticulturist Technician

This article appears in this week's Lake Worth Herald:
     Coming from the private sector, David McGrew has worked for the City of Lake Worth for over 13 years. He is a rare find. He is a real, born (Good Samaritan Hospital) and raised Floridian. McGrew is the City’s well respected “Tree Talker” and a whole lot more.
     McGrew, a Horticulturist Technician, is an active member of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), Arborist and Landscape Inspector Association of Florida and a Florida Certified Landscape Inspector (L.I.A.F.). McGrew is a contributing staff member for the Planning and Zoning Board and City Code Enforcement Division. He reviews commercial and residential construction site plans. His job is not limited to these areas.
[and. . .]
     Dedication, excellent work ethic, a willingness to reach out and for working/ riding that extra mile, Inside Lake Worth, says “Thank You” to Dave McGrew and to all those that work with him. They make Lake Worth a better and a more beautiful place to live.
If you have a question for Dave McGrew you can email him or call at 561-533-7347. Thank you for doing such a great job for the City.

Jason Hackett, NBC5/WPTV: Lake Worth drivers concerned about 6th Ave S Tri-Rail crossing

Click here for the video. Here is an excerpt from the text of the news segment:
     Drivers in Lake Worth are raising concerns over the signals at a busy railroad crossing.
     Tri-Rail says its all about traffic relief and safety, but drivers say that may come at a cost.
     Jim Pickren sees it every day at the intersection of 6th Avenue south and I-95.
     "The train hits the station, the arms will come down, they stay down for a few seconds and then come back up," he says.
    When it seems all is clear, the arms will go down again.
Some things are clear: this is a serious safety issue, everyone agrees that there is a problem and no one has figured out a way to fix it. Yet. Hopefully this will get the attention of the higher-ups at Tri-Rail and solve this problem once and for all.

Sobering article by Emily Badger at the Wonkblog (a blog at The Washington Post)

The blog post is titled, "Why one-way streets are the absolute worst". Here's an excerpt with emphasis in red:
     In John Gilderbloom's experience, the notorious streets are invariably the one-way streets. These are the streets lined with foreclosed homes and empty storefronts, the streets that look neglected and feel unsafe, the streets where you might find drug dealers at night.
     "Sociologically, the way one-way streets work," he says, "[is that] if there are two or more lanes, a person can just pull over and make a deal, while other traffic can easily pass them by."
     It's also easier on a high-speed one-way road to keep an eye out for police or flee from the scene of a crime. At least, this is the pattern Gilderbloom, director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods at the University of Louisville, has observed in San Francisco, in Los Angeles, in Houston and Washington where streets that once flowed both directions were converted in the 1950s and '60s into fast-moving one-way thoroughfares to help cars speed through town. The places where this happened, Gilderbloom noticed, deteriorated.
     "I thought about that for a long time," he says. "But we didn’t have much empirical data on it."
     Where he lives now in Louisville, he and fellow researchers have begun to prove the curious link between how we engineer roads and what becomes of the neighborhoods around them.
Their research offers a lot more fodder for anyone who doesn't like one-way streets simply because they're baffling to navigate.
You might think, this doesn't have anything to do with the little City of Lake Worth. You would be wrong. Many of the one-way streets in the City used to be two-way and then were converted. Some one-way roads are so wide they accommodate car parking, a bike lane, and a car can easily pass another car in the right-of-way.

There really is no sensible reason for many of our streets to be one-way. One-way streets encourage higher speeds and lowered attention to surroundings by many drivers. Drivers at point 'A' are focused on point 'B', instead of having to slow down and navigate around other cars. One-way streets do not increase pedestrian or bike safety. It sounds intuitive that one-way streets are safer. Research has been debunking this myth.

Lake and Lucerne Avenues used to be two-way streets. Clematis Street in West Palm used to be one-way but was converted back to two-way. That change is thought by many to have contributed to the revitalization of that city. FDOT is slowly, excruciatingly slow, but coming around to that realization. FDOT's mission for years was lowering the time getting from one place to another. That's fine on highways but disastrous for small towns and city's where vehicular speeds are way too high.

Here is the Complete Streets Implementation from FDOT:
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Complete Streets Policy incorporates context-appropriate roadway designs that accommodate users of all ages and abilities, including cyclists, pedestrians, motorists, transit, and freight. FDOT recognizes 21st Century demographics, business practices and development patterns requiring broad focus beyond just the automobile.
This has been a huge debate in the planning world and ever since Jeff Speck's work in West Palm Beach last year. Since then the "Genie is out of the bottle" so to speak.

One last thing, two-way streets are better for the environment. Why? How much gas has your car used driving down a one-way street to reach your destination on another one-way street going in another direction? Think about that for a while.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Letter to the Editor of the Lake Worth Herald appearing in this week's edition

Dear Editor,

The closing of the South Shore Tavern and Patio Bar means that Lake Worth has lost its “Back Yard”. Remember how there was always one house on the block we grew up on that had the neatest back yard? It was the one place in the neighborhood where the kids always gathered to try out new stuff like Slip N Slide and how the lady that lived there never minded how we shrieked in joy or crushed the grass. She kept a bottomless supply of popsicles and band-aids. We built caves from her lawn chairs and her towels. We raced each other from one end of her clothesline to the other and when the races were over we built a circus tent on it with old sheets. She always seemed to have few available.

It was there we learned from each other how to turn cartwheels, flip baseball cards and it was there we all dipped eggs in Paas dye and glued rick rack all around paper hearts we took home for our own moms on Mothers Day. We blew gallons of bubbles and when we got itchy from the sticky goo, we rinsed and ran for hours in her sprinkler. We never remembered to turn it off and no one hollered at us about the water bill. Sometimes we camped out in the back yard, almost all the way past dark.

We dug up along the fence line in that back yard and sprinkled little seeds from paper packets she gave us. Someone watered our little garden when we forgot and we forgot all the time. But when the little flags of color rose up out of the dirt, we felt magical. We plotted and planned and played in that back yard. We sang to 100 by fives and ready or not, we found each other in that back yard. We made memories we could never know were so precious.

We never thought it was odd that no other kids actually lived in that house, just a really nice lady. We never thought it was odd how we were left to our own devices in her back yard and our own imaginations were given free reign. We just thought that we were wonderful and she was nicer than the average grown up to know that.

We never had to knock. The gate was never locked. And then one day, it was. And no one was home to unlock it. No one was home at all. We couldn’t find the nice lady but we thought we could easily find another back yard and we tried out a few. But those back yards had rules and limits and grass that wasn’t meant to run on, dirt that wasn’t meant for digging and lawn chairs with cushions that were tied on and couldn’t be used for home in tag. We had lost our back yard.

Thank You Karine Albano. Thank you Shelley, Carlos, Jennifer, Liddy, Jackie, Hasan, Marty, Andre, Dennis and Gary. Thank You for making the magic and letting us believe it was us doing it all the time.

Mary Lindsey
Lake Worth, Florida

Sidewalk seating and new city rules in Delray Beach

Charlie Keegan at NBC5/WPTV has this news segment about the new sidewalk seating rules:

Major Infrastructure Work taking place in Palm Beach over the summer...

On Monday, July 13 through Saturday, October 13, 2015, the Town will be lining their Sanitary Sewer Forcemain along Royal Palm Way from the Royal Park Bridge to North Ocean Boulevard, South County Road from Barton Avenue to Royal Poinciana Way and on Royal Poinciana Way from South County Road to Coconut Row.

From July 13 to August 17, Residents can expect the east bound traffic on Royal Palm Way from the Royal Park Bridge to South Ocean Boulevard to be reduced from two lanes down to one. Residents can also expect partial closures of the Coconut Row intersection and the South Ocean Boulevard intersection. The partial intersection closures will not be for the full duration of the phase.

From August 17 to August 31, Residents can expect South County Road from Barton Avenue to Royal Poinciana Way to be reduced from four lanes down to two(one Northbound and one southbound). Residents can also expect a partial closure of the Barton Avenue intersection and at the Breakers’ Pinewalk intersection the road may be reduced down to one lane with flaggers. The intersection closures will not be for the full duration of the phase.

From August 31 to September 21, Residents can expect the eastbound traffic on Royal Poinciana Way from Coconut Row to South County Road to be reduced from two lanes down to one. Residents can also expect a partial closure of the South County Road intersection. The intersection partial closure will not be for the full duration of the phase.

The Town will issue periodic updates during the project to notify residents of partial intersection closures and changes in traffic patterns.

All questions and/or comments should be directed to contact the contractor representative Joe Badford at (561) 722-1001 cell with Johnson Davis, Inc. The Town’s representative is Michael Roach, P.E., Project Engineer, who can be reached at (561) 838-5440.

Please use caution and read all construction signage when traveling on Royal Palm Way, South County Road and Royal Poinciana Way.

Newsweek: "Building Repairs May Lower Crime Rates"

Jessica Firger at Newsweek has this article about a study in Philadelphia:
     There’s no denying that the environment can help determine human behavior. Previous studies have shown that people are more likely to commit crimes in neighborhoods that give off the impression that no one cares. And a new study published July 8 in the journal PLOS One shows that even small improvements to the urban built environment could actually reduce the rates of criminal activity on a block.
     In 2010, Philadelphia identified approximately 25,000 vacant buildings within city limits. A year later, city officials enacted the Doors and Windows Ordinance. The law requires building owners to have working windows and doors if the unused and abandoned property is located on a block where more than 80 percent of the buildings are actually occupied. Buildings are only exempt from the ordinance if owners have applied for a permit to conduct renovations beyond replacing both windows and doors.
     For the study, the researchers compared the crime rates on blocks improved through this ordinance with crime rates in randomly selected buildings in areas where the policy wasn’t enforced.
This is more proof of the broken window theory, which has been around at least since 1982. It says that if you are in an area where the norms for social behavior are lax, and certain petty infractions and crimes are allowed to go unchecked, it just encourages more of the same behavior. You usually hear this around election time when the subject turns to code enforcement, or lack thereof.

Leaving the Westboro Baptist church: A Conversation with Megan Phelps-Roper, a family member

In this podcast Sam Harris interviews Megan Phelps-Roper, the granddaughter of Fred Phelps of the infamous Westboro Baptist church. It is an incredible story from the beginning how that church first got radicalized and why they chose to do the outrageous stunts at funerals and other public venues. Oddly enough, it was a single Tweet she read that started her to question her beliefs.

Robert S. Weinroth: "Rail travel is the future for Boca, South Florida"

Robert Weinroth is the deputy mayor of Boca Raton. He penned a "Point of View" that was published in The Palm Beach Post. Here is an excerpt:
     As a member of both the Boca Raton City Council and the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization, I have come to recognize the necessity for multimodal solutions to our transportation needs.
     We cannot continue to pave our way to a solution, as our roads become more congested. Rail travel is a welcome transportation alternative which has, and will continue to be, embraced by many people commuting to and from Boca Raton.
     Our city is diverse, ranging from Fortune 500 companies, to the faculty and students at Florida Atlantic and Lynn universities, to residents and vacationers who enjoy the city’s lifestyle, recreational and cultural offerings. For all of these reasons and more, ours has become one of the busiest Tri-Rail stations along the entire route.
     We anticipate that those ridership numbers will continue to increase, especially as we begin to plan for a second Tri-Rail station in our city and with the introduction of the Tri-Rail Coastal Link project. More people will be able to live or work in Boca Raton and along the densest parts of South Florida and have a safe, reliable and convenient way to travel between major destinations.
Below is an image of the proposed Coastal Link in Palm Beach County. Once All Aboard Florida is operational the Coastal Link will have service for cities north and south of the West Palm Beach AAF station. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County Applauds New Fair Housing Rule

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - An important new fair housing regulation - aimed at promoting diverse, inclusive communities and overcoming the negative effects of segregation - was issued today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The regulation is designed to guide jurisdictions in complying with their existing obligations to "affirmatively further fair housing," a key provision of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. It requires state and local governments and housing authorities to consider how to eliminate fair housing barriers for people of color, families with children and people with disabilities.

For the first time, HUD will provide substantial data on housing, demographics and other local conditions for state and local policymakers to assess in determining, among other things, the degree of segregation, concentrated poverty and barriers to equal housing opportunity in their communities.

"Although we have made some progress, we remain a highly segregated society," saidTequisha Myles, Supervising Attorney - LASPBC Fair Housing Project "Maps of major cities illustrate how segregated our communities are. At the same time, where you live has a big impact on how your life unfolds. It determines the schools your children attend, the jobs you have access to, the quality of your surroundings, your access to transportation and grocery stores and other important community resources. In our region, too many children are growing up in neighborhoods that lack these resources. This not only limits their life prospects, but undermines our region's prosperity.

"This new HUD rule will help all jurisdictions in the Palm Beach, Martin, Okeechobee and Hendry Counties be more deliberate and strategic about how they use their housing and community development resources to expand access to opportunity for all residents of our community," added Attorney Myles. "We look forward to working with local policymakers, to ensure that all people - regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, family status or disability - can choose where to live, and all neighborhoods are good places to live."

About Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc., founded in 1949, is a private nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to providing free legal services to disadvantaged children, families, elders and individuals living in Palm Beach County. Projects include the Domestic Violence Project, Juvenile Advocacy Project, Foster Children's Project, Ryan White Project, Fair Housing and Elder Law Projects. The Fair Housing Project of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc. is a non-profit agency that provides no cost legal assistance and/or representation. Our services are free to residents in Palm Beach, Okeechobee, Martin and Hendry Counties thanks to federal and local funding. For more information visit: or email us at

[A video going 'viral'] More reasons to go to the pool and not the ocean...It's the shark's house!

Brian Entin: "Cyclist's letter to FDOT changed Flagler bridge plan"

What a great news segment by Brian Entin at NBC5/WPTV. This comes from a post at the WalkableWPB blog by Jesse Bailey. Here is an excerpt from the text of the news segment:
     A downtown West Palm Beach bicyclist and walkability blogger wrote the Florida Department of Transportation concerned about the small shoulder serving as a bike lane in the new Flagler Memorial Bridge plans.
     And the response he received in the mail shocked him.
     "It is always kind of surprising when FDOT responds positively to a request like this," Jesse Bailey said.
     In a letter to Bailey, FDOT engineers acknowledged his ideas and even implemented most of them.
     "The project is well underway, they have already commenced construction, and for them to make the changes at the last minute is very commendable," Bailey said.
     Among the changes to the 94 million dollar project include reducing the vehicle lanes from 12 to 11 feet, adding a two foot buffer, and also including a six-foot bike lane.
Excellent job, Jesse. We'll never know how many bicyclists were spared a trip to the hospital because of these changes. For the FDOT to reduce a traffic lane from 12' to 11' is a very big deal.

The July 4th Raft Race: Heat #2!

Miami Herald: "An infamous Internet hate monger has an unlikely South Florida address"

Fred Grimm of the Miami Herald has this article about an internet hate site run out of a home in suburban West Palm Beach:
     Of all the places that might generate a racist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, paranoia-oozing, self-described “white nationalist” website ... well ... you don’t quite expect a South Florida address.
     But there it is, run out of a suburban house in West Palm Beach,, the best known of America’s racist hate sites scattered around the Internet. In a county that’s 20 percent Jewish, 18 percent black, 20 percent Hispanic and a bastion of liberal politics.
     Location hardly matters in the digital age, when radical ideas and pseudo-movements and hateful sentiments float through cyberspace untethered to geographical locations. So someone like Don Black, the onetime head of the Alabama-based Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, can move to [suburban] West Palm Beach and set up a website that most of his neighbors would find abhorrent. And still get 40,000 hits a day. [emphasis added]
Don't have any plans to visit that website and wouldn't recommend anyone doing so. In the Herald article you also discover that this racist blogger has something in common with Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist church. No big surprise there.

When traffic engineers force pedestrians to break the law

Came across the video below yesterday. This is an outrageous example of terrible engineering but you find things like this everywhere. Dixie Hwy. is a perfect example of why pedestrians are forced to break the law all the time. In the video you'll hear the term "beg button". That's the button most people think makes the light change so you can cross the street. False. The button only gives you a few more seconds to cross the street; it doesn't make the light change any faster.

The video is a bit clumsy at times however it makes a very good point: the motor vehicle is dominant in our society and more of a consideration than pedestrians, the handicapped, and bicyclists.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lori J. Durante on the locally produced Health in Balance radio podcast—Taste of History Culinary Tours

Juice and Essence podcast with guest Culinary History Tour leader Lori J. Durante who talks about her culinary tours and other interests of hers. After the halfway mark, she talks about how various local communities differentiate themselves from others, including Lake Worth.

Found on Twitter

Noise issues popping up in downtown West Palm Beach...

Noise raises its head in many south Florida communities. A few years ago, led by former Commissioner JoAnn Golden, there was a re-write of Lake Worth's noise ordinance. It was focused on a few establishments in the downtown that had open-air music venues. One of the targets was "The Cottage" that no longer plagues the complainers' night time solitude since it closed. PBSO would respond to noise complaints made by a handful of people, but those same people would be upset if there was no response due to PBSO handling of emergency or life-threatening situations going on at the same time.
Classic photoshop by the inimitable, superbly-talented Tom McGow.

Question for news media (and other interested parties): How many Zip Codes does "Lake Worth" have?

Not to sway anyone one way or the other, the City of Lake Worth is a tiny city in Palm Beach County, less than 7 square miles with about 36,000 residents. Here are your choices (if you prefer, email me to have your vote tallied). Is it:
  • One
  • Two
  • Three
  • Five
  • Nine
  • Fifteen
Check back tomorrow for the answer.

FREE SUMMER FILM NIGHT: La Marseillaise (1938) Monday, July 13th

On Monday, July 13th, at 6 pm in the Rosenthal Lecture Room at the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach’s offices, the film La Marseillaise (1938) will be shown.

The showing is FREE to ALL and open to the general public. However, only reserved seating is available. To reserve seating, please call 561.832.0731, extension 111. Email responses are NOT accepted.


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

Just in time for Bastille Day, La Marseillaise (1938) presents an entertaining example of a culture in flux at a movement in time when one culture and way of life was trying to preserve itself in the face of another. Director Jean Renoir's (son of the famous painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir) epic account of the French Revolution, La Marseillaise is shown from the eyes of the citizens of Marseille, counts in German exile and, of course the king Louis XVI each showing their own small problems. It juxtaposes the opulent life of King Louis XVI with the poverty of the commoners who rose up to overthrow the monarchy in 1789. The film's title comes from the rallying song which grew out of the peasants' march on the Bastille, the song that ultimately became the French national anthem.

"Fascinating." - Chicago Reader

"The heady, idealistic days of the French Revolution as seen from the street, through the eyes of an idealistic group of Republicans from Marseilles..." - Turner Classic Movies

The Foundation’s President 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 6 pm.
Please note, doors lock at 6:15 pm.
Refreshments will be provided.

The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach is a private, non-profit, 1500 member organization dedicated to the preservation of the historic, architectural and cultural heritage of Palm Beach, Florida. As the community advocate for maintaining the outstanding quality of life in Palm Beach, the Foundation has created a community-wide perspective seeing the unique buildings of Palm Beach as integral to the Town’s character as well as its future. What once would have been only issues of growth have been reshaped as issues of quality of life. By combining history, inventiveness and ingenuity the Preservation Foundation has helped forge a contemporary Palm Beach informed by its achievements in architecture, culture and design, not dismissive of them.

Over 30 years, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach has given millions of dollars for the preservation and restoration of historic properties; worked advocating for over 290 landmark properties; recognized numerous architects, owners, and properties with awards; educated hundreds of thousands of children about the architectural, cultural and environmental legacy of Palm Beach; and saved thousands of archival documents in its library, among many other accomplishments.

Alexander C. Ives
Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach
311 Peruvian Avenue
Palm Beach, Florida 33480

Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches Recognizes Dedication of Its Volunteers

More than 75 Volunteers and Guests Attend Volunteer Appreciation Brunch

Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches recently recognized the dedication of its outstanding volunteers with a Volunteer Appreciation Brunch. 

“Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization,” said Director of Volunteer Services Debbie Emerick. “They truly are the wheels beneath our meals.”

Thanks to more than 100 volunteers, Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches makes close to 500 home visits a week, providing clients with nutritious, freshly prepared noontime meals as well as companionship.

During the volunteer appreciation brunch, Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches honored four of its senior volunteers – Ernie Pate, Ruth Windle, Fran Sauer and Tom Marx – for their outstanding service. 

Volunteers are still needed to assist with meal preparation and deliveries. To find out how you can volunteer or support the organization, call 561-802-6979 or visit
MaryAnn Hadman, Terri Abrams, Terry Ralston and Kathy Mardambek
Volunteer honorees Ernie Pate, Ruth Windle, Fran Sauer and Tom Marx
About Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches
Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches is a non-profit organization dedicated to nourishing and enriching the lives of the homebound in the local community. An affiliate of Meals on Wheels America, the organization provides nutritious mid-day meals to those unable to prepare their own and living alone.  A community-based organization, Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches relies on volunteers and the financial support of local residents, corporate partners and foundations, operating without government funding.
Rich Pollack 
Pollack Communications
(561) 573-5092

From All Aboard Florida: Construction of the AAF MiamiCentral Station

About the video: Construction has begun in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach for the All Aboard Florida train project. Each station will be completed in advance of the 2017 train launch. View the latest construction in action for the All Aboard Florida MiamiCentral station.

Monday, July 6, 2015

[UPDATE] Who is monkeywrenching (hijacking) the Lake Worth, FL Wikipedia page?

[A lot of work has been done fixing the City's Wikipedia page. A big 'Thank You' to everyone who helped. The background is this: early last month it was discovered that misinformation and disinformation had been added to the page. For instance, the 'pastor' Olive and his Common Ground (no 's') Church nonsense was added and has since been erased/expunged from the Wikipedia page. There was also other false and misleading information that was either erased or fixed. Read on. . .the original post from June 5th follows, that's when the monkeywrenching was first discovered:]

In footnote 18 in the text of the City of Lake Worth's Wikipedia page you find this courtesy of 'Pastor' Mike Olive and his Common Ground (no 's') church:
Image from TV news segment on the false, non-story about the "crackdown" on churches in the City of Lake Worth. Lake Worth residents wondering if they live in the "former Soviet Union"?
This is the un-Christian and undeserved black eye that the 'Pastor' gave to the City of Lake Worth. All this high faux drama over the need to have his structure inspected and a fee all establishments are required to pay.

And there's more. Who changed the Zip Code?
The City's Zip Codes are 33460 and 33461. And this:
Lake Worth has a large population of new immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, though the downtown area has become increasingly gentrified in recent years. Some of South Florida's most attractive architecture can be found in College Park, an affluent neighborhood in the northeast corner of the city.
And these distortions and twisted facts with no footnotes or backup information:
It was revealed in the spring of 2015 that a committee was meeting behind closed doors to consider a proposal to build a convention center and private beach club at the beach, and to destroy the Olympic-sized municipal pool, the only oceanfront Olympic-size [sic] municipal pool in South Florida. 
And of our Sister Cities:
  • Lappeenranta (Finland)
  • Saint-Marc (Haiti)
  • Southend-on-Sea (England)
  • Sopot (Poland)
And this about our City Manager Michael Bornstein: "Acting"?
Anyone have an idea who is responsible for this? An editor/journalist with some spare time maybe? Just to demonstrate the lengths some will go to tarnish our City image won't do any edits but that won't stop someone else from fixing this nonsense. 

So very charming, isn't it? 

West Palm Beach tackling zoning issues on Broadway

We face many of the same issues on sections of Dixie Hwy. that go through Lake Worth. Many of the changes made to our land development regulations were designed to address the issue of shallow lots on the east side of the road. One of the changes made was that to occupy one of the existing buildings along U.S. 1 in Lake Worth is that a business or property owner does not need to provide for on-site parking.

Here is what West Palm Beach is attempting. This is a video prepared by the city's own video production studio:
Broadway Corridor Zoning Kickoff Meeting from City of West Palm Beach on Vimeo.

From the State Archives of Florida:

"Are you looking for a dish to bring to your next barbecue? Try this recipe for Lemon and Banana Pie, which calls for the pie to be placed “in a moderate oven.” The recipe is from the San Luis Vineyards Records, 1890-1933 (Collection M88-44). The collection consists of four ledgers containing general business records, recipes and newspaper clippings.

The San Luis Vineyards was one of the early producers of wines in Florida. After moving to Tallahassee in 1882, Emile Dubois and his business partner, Maxmillian Berlitz, purchased two-thirds of the San Luis tract from Helen Dodd. They established a vineyard on the property, which produced 4,000 gallons of wine a year by 1890. They sold the land after a disease or insects damaged his vineyards and Leon County became a dry county in 1904. The vineyard was purchased by a series of people including James Messer. Messer’s widow sold the property, now the site of the Mission San Luis, to the state in 1983."

(Collection M88-44, Volume 2)

Under Construction. The Seven Mile Bridge. Florida Keys

Courtesy of the Monroe County Library:
Snagged this from Facebook this morning from the Historic Florida VII! page there. Here is a comment by Seth Bramson, official historian of the Florida East Coast Railway that clarifies what we see in this picture. Mr. Bramson was a two time guest on High Noon in Lake Worth.
"To be a bit more specific, the original “Seven Mile Bridge,” which only gained that name with the coming of the Oversea(s) Highway is NOT what is shown here. These are the cofferdams for the supports for the Knight’s Key Viaduct or Pacet Channel Viaduct. Remember, the bridge was called Knight’s Key Viaduct and had two other named sections when built by the FEC. That adding of the “s” when it became the highway was ridiculous. It was the “Over-the-sea” or Oversea Railway, NOT “overseas.” It didn’t go overseas. It went over the sea to Key West, and, yes, there is a difference."
 "The title of the ONLY complete history of the Key West Extension ever written is THE GREATEST RAILROAD STORY EVER TOLD: Henry Flagler and the Florida East Coast Railway’s Key West Extension. There have been books written on the construction and on the ’35 hurricane, and even a novel, but that is the only complete history ever written. (The History Press, 2011) Mr. Flagler spent $50 million (not $20 or $30 or any of the other numbers shown, but $50 million) building it. The largest collection of Key West Extension memorabilia that exists is in Miami at The Bramson Archive. Monroe County Public Library in Key West has a nice collection and there are several very good collections in private hands but the collection at The Bramson Archive is the largest and most complete, including the complete company blueprint maps in four mile sections of the extension from Homestead to Key West. Hundreds and hundreds of documents, news articles, booklets, brochures, timetables, photographs, original badges from the “Key West Over-the-Sea Railway Celebration,” and even the American Railway Express Co., Key West, Fla. wax sealer & more, so, and as always, those who are interested are always welcome, but, and again, with arrangements made in advance, please."

Kathleen Wilker: "Teaching the Next Generation How to Ride a Bike"

Most experienced bike riders take bike lanes, sharrows, and navigating around car traffic as the norm. But what about those who are just learning to ride a bike for the first time? It doesn't necessarily have to be a child; it could be someone older who wants to learn (or re-learn) how to ride. You can imagine how frightening it would be riding a bike down the road for the first few times.

Below is an excerpt from the article that's subtitled, "Kathleen Wilker reflects on what it will take to help our kids grow up as Generation Bike":
     Back in the fall, I was invited to participate on a panel about biking in the shoulder season. I was happy to accept, but wanted our ten-year-old daughter, Anna Sierra, to be part of the panel too.
     All too often our streets are not designed with children’s travel in mind. Sharrows on a main street, for example, guide experienced cyclists to ride in the center of the lane, but they don’t create routes that children can take on their own bikes. There is a lot of skill and confidence required to make quick decisions when sharing the road with parked cars and traffic, especially at intersections.
     So whenever there is an opportunity for our kids to be included in conversations around cycling, I invite them to join in. To create cities where everyone can get where they want to go, we need to ask kids where they want to go and what would make it possible for them to get there. Separated bike lanes and pedestrian scrambles at intersections would certainly help. Crosswalks on direct routes to school would too.

Palm Beach County mayor wants problems with homeless fixed now

Click title for link to an article in The Palm Beach Post by John Pacenti. Mayor Vana wants the homeless congregation that uses John Prince Park as their home addressed. This is important to the city of Lake Worth as the park is right at the city's western boundary. I am sure that many of the homeless that we see in Lake Worth are part of the same group that can be found in the park. The article talks about small barriers that are large to the homeless populationlike how to access the medical and mental care system to even knowing how to use the bus system. Even a minimal fee of $3 for this population can prevent them from accessing services.

From the article:
     Vana wants the problem fixed now.
     “Either the homeless people are going to be out panhandling to get our money or they are going to be in my house taking my computer again,” she said.
     She also criticized the fact that homeless people must make an appointment to get into the Philip D. Lewis Center, the county’s homeless shelter, must often get referrals from specialists to get the care they need and might have to pay a $3 to $5 co-pay for prescriptions.
     “These are homeless people who don’t have the skills to deal with all of this,” she said.
Definitely worth the read and it is good that it has the county government's attention, for now. 

10 More Reasons to Visit Lantana and the little City of Lake Worth

From the FloridaEscape blog is this information about the culinary tour this coming Saturday:
     Palm Beach County has plenty of natural beauty to attract visitors from all over the country, and combined with the fascinating history and local foods of this region, travelers have 10 more good reasons to visit Lantana and Lake Worth Florida.
     Lantana and Lake Worth are the two main stops for the Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Palm Beach County scheduled every second Saturday of the month at 11:00 a.m. The tours take place rain or shine and the cost per person is $45 and must be paid in advance. Children under 14 are free with a paying adult.
     All of the tours offer a combination of bus travel plus four to six blocks of walking from restaurant to restaurant, where visitors can sample each eateries special dishes. A guide walks tourists through these historic parts of Palm Beach County while they lunch and learn their way through one of the loveliest regions of the Sunshine State. Bring comfortable walking shoes as well as a hearty appetite.
When you visit the blog they have a write-up about each stop on the tour. Make sure to pass this on to all your foodie friends.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Did you miss the Residents of the Residences of Lake Osborne at the Raft Race!

Here they are! The raft didn't work out but it's all about community. Thank you for being there RROLOH!

Stroll down memory lane: the day Lake Worth City Manager Susan Stanton was fired (12/12/2011)

The City of Lake Worth on Twitter, are they up for another important task?

The City rolled out their Twitter feed yesterday (July 4th) and it was a sight to behold. For the very first day they did a spectacular job, using text efficiently, links, pictures and even video. Share the City's Twitter with all your friends and family: @lakeworthpbc.

For example here is one Tweet that was sent out:
For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, here is a "Tweet".
Stay with me here. . .how many people realize how small the City of Lake Worth is? Palm Beach County (PBC) is well over 2,000 square miles and Lake Worth makes up less than 7 square miles of that. A large part of Palm Beach County is unincorporated and there are 38 municipalities in the county. The county population is about 1.4 million people and Lake Worth makes up 36,000 of that: about 3%, that's all.
The actual size of 'Lake Worth'. Note Lake Osborne and the E-4 (Keller) Canal to the west.
But if you pay attention to what some in the mainstream media think the size of Lake Worth is you get an entirely different message. Because the media relies on false information and Zip Codes they think the City extends all the way to the Florida Turnpike and south almost to Boynton Beach. For instance, there was a terrible accident in "Lake Worth" yesterday that didn't happen in Lake Worth; it occurred in unincorporated PBC, or if you prefer, 'suburban' Lake Worth. I corrected a TV news station yesterday for a false news report they sent out on Twitter:
I am not suggesting the City social media department monitor Twitter all day for false news reports but when they are informed of such instances an 'Official Tweet' would be in order. This would go a long way in educating the news media about city borders and distinguishing between what is suburban PBC and what a municipality is.

Some of yesterday's pre-Raft Race festivities. . .

The psychology of 'no' in Vancouver (if you live in Lake Worth does anything sound familiar?)

Vancouver, Canada recently had a referendum on fixing the city's infrastructure. The city's administration had taken a "go big or go home" approach to the problem of crumbling streets and the terrible transit situation. They wanted to build new roads, add more bus lines, and build an underground rail system. This was all going to take a lot of money. The referendum failed.

In the lead-up to the vote was an article in the National Post titled, "The psychology of ‘no': Vancouver transit vote is case study in why it’s so hard to do what makes us happy". For those of you who remember the recent failed bond vote in Lake Worth you will find this excerpt below very interesting:
     We are more attracted to stories than spreadsheets [emphasis added] — the simpler and more mythical, the more compelling. We crave identifiable heroes and villains. The “No” campaign has supplied that story, painting local transit authority executives as a corrupt, wasteful band of thieves.
     It doesn’t matter that their assertions are inaccurate. (Translink is arguably one of the most efficient and reliable big-city transit agencies in North America.) It doesn’t matter that the plebiscite is not actually about Translink, or that the results will affect the public much more than Translink leaders. The emotionally charged story feels truer than numbers.
     So for many voters, the plebiscite is reduced to an opportunity to express anger about their commute, or engage in a symbolic struggle against a cartoon-like enemy. But this will actually harm voters’ own interests in the long run.
     How can we overcome such barriers in order to get this — and other urban decisions — right?
Here is video from YouTube with a humorous take on referendum (a definite 'Yes' voter):

Lake Worth artist featured in the Sun Sentinel: "Patriotism Revisited" exhibit

Briana Erickson at the Sun Sentinel has this article about Lake Worth artist Rolando Chang Barrero:
     Rolando Chang Barrero was born and raised in Miami, the son of Cuban immigrants who arrived in the United States in the early 1960s.
     The artist and founder of the Boynton Beach Arts District and the Rolando Chang Barrero Fine Art Gallery in Lake Worth said he remains inspired by — and grateful for — the political asylum and citizenship granted to his family.
     Barrero began painting a flag series referencing patriotism in the United States, Cuba and other countries about two years ago, in response to what he has perceived as anti-American sentiment.
     Now he's displaying his solo exhibit, "Patriotism Revisited," at The Great Project Art Gallery in Fort Lauderdale until July 6.
An image from the article in the Sun Sentinel.

Miami Herald—"Sharing space: South Florida co-working centers proliferate"

Nancy Dahlberg at the Miami Herald writes about this national trend you see happening in downtown Lake Worth:
     Locally, the growth of downtown during the last two real estate cycles has helped make the urban core a nexus of cool for young professionals and entrepreneurs, doubling its population since 2000. An explosion of entrepreneurship programs — many funded by the Knight Foundation, which has put its weight behind the entrepreneurship and tech movements in its Miami program — has also fueled the trend. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area was the nation’s No. 2 locale for new startup activity in 2014, according to a Kauffman Foundation study.
     Startups and freelancers have been seeking affordable, convenient and collaborative work spaces where they can network, learn from one another, and attend workshops and events. Costs vary, but most run about $200 to $300 a month for full-time use of the co-working space and its amenities; a dedicated desk or glass-walled office costs extra. Co-working spaces also offer WiFi, access to conference rooms, generous hours of operation to accommodate night owls and weekend warriors, and of course, plenty of java.
For example, the DaVinci Virtual Office is located at 728 Lake Avenue. There are others in town also. Some day soon will visit these venues, take some video and do a blog post on how the Millennials are changing the way business and new ideas are being created.

Some are still fighting the Civil War like Battle of Palmito Ranch never happened

The Battle of Palmito Ranch in 1865 was officially the last battle of the Civil War. The war was declared over on August 20, 1866. The Miami Herald reports yesterday (July 4th, 2015) that there are still holdouts in this news article titled, "Police remove unauthorized Confederate flag flown in Florida":
     Police said in a report released Saturday that an anonymous caller alerted them to the flag found flying Friday afternoon outside City Hall. Police impounded it.
     City Hall was closed for the July Fourth weekend. Mayor Andrew Gillum condemned the flag-raising, vowing whoever put the flag up would be held responsible.
     "Today we proudly celebrate the founding of our Nation" under a single flag, he said. "While this reprehensible act may have been an attempt to divide us, I know that our community will instead choose to unite and focus on the values that bind us together." [emphasis added]
It would seem we have one of those holdouts locally. Here is a charming message from The Other Blogger (TOB) a few days prior to Independence Day:
Not exactly what you would call a message of unity or community, is it?

[REPOST BY REQUEST] The latest from the "Keep Lake Worth Beach Public" Facebook page

Below is the new City of Lake Worth logo that is being used on social media, for example, on their soon-to-be-rolled-out Twitter feed:
From the City's website: "Lake Worth is a dynamic, multi-cultural city with an individualistic style. People are drawn to the city by its acceptance of different cultures and lifestyles, historic districts, hip downtown and colorful arts district." 

Below is a photo-shopped image being distributed by a few malcontents in the City. The hysteria continues about THE BEACH!:
This "symbol" is confusing. The use of the city's logo, erasing the words "City of Lake Worth, Florida" and replacing them with "Private Property - Keep Out", and then using the international "no" symbol over top of it creates a confusing double negative. 

Don't be wrong, most everyone gets its intent. We can see this attitude manifested in many ways throughout the City's recent history. Remember the eight years it took to develop workable land development regulations? During that time there was no commercial development in the city. There was a "de facto" moratorium on development and private investment that continues to some extent in the present. 

It reflects a xenophobic mentality held by some in this city. It's a message from the "red sign" people that says if you aren't from here, we don't want you. It confuses the notion of "private" and "public." Like it or not, our beach is a regional attraction. Many more people go to and use the beach than only Lake Worth residents. At a recent City Commission meeting Commissioner Maier floated the notion if anything in Lake Worth was actually a regional attraction at all. He called for more facilities to be only open to Lake Worth residents.

This attitude is not far away from the "moat mentality" by some in Lake Worth that somehow our municipality of 36,000 people is not part of the over 5 million person metropolitan area that is south Florida. We, in some people's minds, can exist autonomously within our borders with our own electric and water company, we can get by with blight and vacant properties because that is part of what makes up our idea of what Lake Worth is; and it is so very charming after all. 

If someone even suggests we do something different or entertain the notion of investment in the city in the form of a new building or infrastructure, the people of the "red sign" brigade will come along with a wheelbarrow of lies, knocking on doors, trying to make certain that Lake Worth is kept poormore in common with communities in the Glades than other eastern Palm Beach County communities. Then a frenzy erupts based upon untruths and rumors, leaving the people that are attempting to improve conditions here with the task of proving what they are not doing, not actually focusing on what they could be doing.

It's the same sort of sentiment that goes into another creation that sends this message. Have you seen t-shirts that say "L-Dub - For Locals Only" in local stores? Not the most welcoming message to people who are looking to buy a house, rent space, buy property or work here. This way of thinking is prevalent enough and it always seems to raise its head around our election cycles. Now it appears these malcontents are attempting to maintain this frenzied paranoia 365/24/7. 

Can we get back to looking at the same facts, not fiction, and reacting to those facts rather than the emotions which are based on half-truths or outright lies? It won't happen if the malcontents are driving the agenda. 

Pew Research: "Counties Where Minorities are the Majority"

Image from the map produced by Pew Research. Five counties in Florida are now majority Hispanic (a change since 1980).
Here is a map from Pew Research showing counties in the U.S. that switched from White majority to minority majority since 1980: the number has doubled. The different colors represent the minority groups that live in that county. Six counties in Florida are now majority minority including Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

You can see how this will have tremendous policy implications even in counties that remain a White majority. For instance, what effect will the change in Cuba policy have? And the economic turmoil Puerto Rico is currently experiencing?