Saturday, August 22, 2015

Remember why the Lake Worth pool was shut down 5 years ago by CM Susan Stanton, JoAnn Golden, McVoy et al? Too expensive!

Our precious amenity at the BEACH!, the Lake Worth municipal pool, was shut down to save money in 2010. JoAnn Golden was a commissioner in the City then and so was current Commissioner McVoy. Our precious pool wasn't making enough money to stay open.

So revenue is a concern, you see. Or was. The city manager back then was Susan Stanton. She was fired in 2011 and a few months later Michael Bornstein was hired to be the City's city manager. Now, to some in the City, it's not an issue any longer that the pool complex is losing money to the tune of $123,000 last fiscal year. It's now an 'amenity' that must remain open no matter what the burden to the taxpayer:
If we are to conclude (per Golden and McVoy) that the pool is a precious amenity that must remain open at any cost then why did they close it when they were in charge?

Tom McGow: The Lake Worth municipal pool at the BEACH! is the City's biggest white elephant

This is an image from Tom McGow's blog from OVER FIVE YEARS AGO. His blog posts back then about the Lake Worth pool still hold water today [pardon the pun].
[Blog traffic for this post is off the charts. One of the most viewed Lake Worth posts in several years. The reason why so many people are interested in what Tom McGow had to say FIVE YEARS AGO is the debate about the pool is nothing new. If you moved to Lake Worth ten years ago, two years ago, or a month ago you might be thinking this a new topic: it's not

Five years ago it was the same hysterical mantras about change and how everything has to stay just the way it is. The only difference now is some of the faces have changed and the way the message is delivered has changed a bit also.

Without further ado, the original blog post that has so many people pulling their hair out:

WARNING: If you are shocked by new ideas then please go back to what you were doing.
Synchronized swimmers: Left side (top to bottom), former Commissioner Cara Jennings, former City Manager Susan Stanton, and former Commissioner JoAnn Golden. Right side (top to bottom), former Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill, former Mayor René Varela, and stud/synchronized swimmer coach/speedo wearing and CURRENT Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell. [Image from "Tom's Page", Tom McGow's Lake Worth blog.]
The following words are from blogger-extraordinaire Tom McGow in March, 2010. Five years later and the argument continues in Lake Worth (Jane DeCoursey, with all due respect, this will explain why the "fitness" approach will not work):
     There has been a lot of talk about turning Lake Worth’s liabilities back into assets, and the Golf Course is an example of doing just that. However when it comes to the City Swimming Pool at the beach the Commissioners need to take a hard look at the economic realities of our pool and the national trend towards municipal aquatic parks.
     Stand alone “rectangular pools” are a thing of the past and even our pool’s location by the beach is not enough of an attraction to draw people on a regular basis or attract swim meets. Across the nation older municipal pools are being shut down, often replaced by aquatic parks that cater to whole families. No amount of “out of the box marketing” can succeed in bringing people to a facility that is no longer viable in today’s recreation market.
     Swimming lessons and water aerobics can still be held in a smaller pool, and the other features will be attractive to summer camps, handicapped organizations and others to rent. A quick internet search reveals that even public facilities that retain olympic sized pools are installing more family friendly features to cater to a larger customer base and increase revenue.
     With the Casino redesign at hand, now is the time to cast aside the sentimental clamor to patch up our city’s biggest white elephant and plan for a water park that will provide families with what they want and attract enough users to make it self-sustaining. 
You can read more ridiculous notions about the underutilized Lake Worth pool and how our City should emulate other city's municipal pools for ideas on what to do going forward; cities like Ft. Lauderdale, for instance:
Charming, isn't it?

The video that has all the planners abuzz: Jeff Speck and "Road Diets"

Jeff Speck: Four Road Diets from Cupola Media on Vimeo.

You can learn more about Jeff Speck by visiting his website and check out his new book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time.

NBC5/WPTV gets it right; ABC25/WPBF gets it wrong. . .again

First, my condolences to the family and friends of the man who tragically died in a vehicle accident last night.

Here is an excerpt from the news account at WPTV:
SUBURBAN LAKE WORTH, Fla. -- A 34-year-old man died Friday evening after crashing into a tree on Hypoluxo Road in suburban Lake Worth.
Here is what WPBF reported:
LAKE WORTH, Fla. —A man died after losing control of his car and crashing into a tree in Lake Worth on Friday.
Here is a link to the City of Lake Worth's boundary map. Generally speaking, if you are west of Lake Osborne you are outside the City. If you are interested in learning more email me and I can send you additional information.

Save the historic Boynton Beach High School or demolish the structure? A tough decision for the city and residents

Today, in the Post's 'Point of View' section, Janet DeVries points out why the building is historic and why it is important to save the 88-year-old structure. Think about all the young people who passed through the school's doors through much of the 20th century. Those students were sons and daughters of the people that first populated south Florida and decided to live and raise families here. She is correct in pointing out that the building is one of a few nonresidential structures remaining from the Florida boom era of the 1920's.

Historic preservation is a very expensive proposition but there are examples that it can be done and the results can be spectacular. If Boynton Beach decides to go ahead with preserving the structure the community will need to be educated about the process: the time, funds, and the experts needed are just a few that come to mind. Hopefully those that want to preserve the building are searching for any grants available, both state, federal, and private.

A word of caution going forward: the residents of Boynton Beach are not fairly informed when the Lake Worth Casino building is used as an example of what is possible—as I've written about extensively on this blog the original historic structure at the Lake Worth beach was 94% demolished.
I have always thought that the building's prominent location near Boynton Beach's City Hall would make it an excellent candidate for a community center, assembly area and a place to hold events. Many people attending those events would likely have some ties to the building as a local school, either by attending there themselves, or through other friends and family.

This whether-or-not-to-save this building has been going on for a long time, at least 20 years or more. Each year that passes see another wave of preservation efforts or the prospect of demolition, all depending on the political winds blowing through the city at the time. The building is protected by the city's historic preservation ordinance, but if the building were to be demolished those protections will be removed.

The city and its residents have a very tough decision to make and I wish them the best.

The pictures I took above were from 2014. I encourage you to go by the area, see the building as it sits and think of imaginative ways to reuse the structure if that is the route the city chooses. Here is a link to the Facebook page for Save Historic Boynton Beach High.

Miami Beach a hot spot for bicycle crashes

Click here for details related to extracting data from the FDOT Safety Office. It turns out that FDOT language refers to bicyclists as "vulnerable road users." The increase over the span of time from 2005 to 2013 is thought to be due to increase use of bicycles. The consistent red spot on the heat map above is the south Miami Beach area. However, other areas, like around the University of Miami campus also show a concentration of accidents.

Everglades restoration and giving credit where it's due: SFWMD and Florida's farmers

Joe Collins penned a 'Point of View' in The Palm Beach Post that showed up in the print edition on Friday (8/21). He is the former chair of the Governing Board at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and now senior VP at Lykes Bros. Inc. Here are two excerpts from his Point Of View:
     Florida farmers are being recognized for their efforts to help restore the Everglades and improve water quality, verifying that their on-farm cleanup programs are making a big difference. [emphasis added] The South Florida Water Management District recently announced a 79 percent reduction in the annual level of phosphorus flowing from Florida sugar cane and vegetable farms south of Lake Okeechobee, one of the nation’s most productive farming regions, known as the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).
     Even as debates regarding Everglades restoration have continued over the past two decades, farmers in South Florida have been actively working every day to help clean up our ecosystems. This good news about 2015’s phosphorus reductions is just the latest measure of this success.
[and. . .]
     A common misconception is that farm fertilizers are the source of phosphorus on sugar cane farms. The rich, organic “muck” soils south of Lake Okeechobee naturally are high in phosphorus. Therefore, the main strategy since the start of the program to reduce phosphorus has been to keep soil sediments on the farms rather than discharging soil with water flowing off of them.

Kleenex Alert from ABC News: a family's bucket list for their beloved Corgi that is dying soon

From the article in ABC News: Oscar has completed most of the list -- go on a kayak ride, eat ice cream, visit the Enger tower, cross the town's aerial lift bridge, swim in Lake Superior, go camping, play in the backyard and take a ride in the car -- but there's one thing he has left to do.
     "He's done everything but meet another Corgi," Asbury [Tom Asbury, Oscar's owner] said. "We realized he hasn't met another Corgi since the litter mates he was with at birth. But recently, we've been getting emails from people in the town with Corgis ever since a local story on him went up. It looks like he's going to have one great play-date."

Walkability: "Hmm, I've heard the word but what is it exactly?" Jeff Speck explains

Major changes are coming to the urban core here in central Palm Beach County. All Aboard Florida is one and so is the clamor for changes to Dixie Hwy, both in West Palm Beach and Lake Worth; West Palm Beach is much further along in their efforts. Walkability and bikeability are major issues in planning circles these days but what exactly is "walkability"? 

Below is a TEDTalk video of Jeff Speck explaining the concept. Does the name Jeff Speck sound familiar? It should. He gave a well-publicized presentation to the West Palm Beach city commission in May of last year

About the video: Jeff Speck is a city planner and urban designer who, through writing, public service, and built work, advocates internationally for smart growth and sustainable design. The Christian Science Monitor called his recent book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, "timely and important, a delightful, insightful, irreverent work."

Friday, August 21, 2015

Potty-mouth is not good for public relations

Click on the image to enlarge.

Breaking News: Lake Worth City Hall reported to be on lock down - Now Open for Business

Word is that a former employee confronted a current employee with a weapon.

Update 1:39 p.m. Lake Worth City Hall is again open for business.

RUMOR CONTROL: News for those who remain gullible to baseless rumors in Lake Worth

RUMOR CONTROLThe Neighborhood Association Presidents Council (NAPC) has verified that the single stream recycling program in the City of Lake Worth is NOT being discontinued. The City has a contract with Waste Management through 2018. For more information or answers to your questions, please contact Felipe Lofaso at Lake Worth Public Services Dept.
Click on image to enlarge.

Planetizen: "How Urban Ugliness Increases Stress"

The following excerpt is from Planetizen titled, "How Urban Ugliness Increases Stress":
     Designations of blight have a fraught legal history in the United States, with many so-called blighted neighborhoods being wiped out by urban renewal projects in the 1950s through 1970s. Regardless of what the law says, the subconscious mind may in fact know blight when it sees it. [emphasis added]
     A recent study by Gina South, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, looked at Philadelphia residents' responses to blight-reduction efforts. The results of her small sample suggest that residents' heart rates and stress levels dropped when they observed lots that had been de-blighted through repairs, cleanups, and various greening techniques.
     "There is increasing evidence to show that our environments do affect our health," South told "Urban planners really need to consider that as we intervene in places. Cities like Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia all have high rates of vacant land and that really impacts the health of people living in those neighborhoods."

Going there this morning. Why don't you join me?!

How rail transformed the state of Florida: the history and what to expect in the future

About the video: "Take a look at how rail travel has transformed through history. In the Early 20th Century the Florida population was booming and Flagler's rail brought travelers to the area. The Florida East Coast Railroad ran from Jacksonville to Key West. During this time south Florida was among the most popular destinations. Train travel offered a convenient, frequent and comfortable solution and was favored by many. In 1950 Florida's population hit 2.7 million people. Rail made travel into Florida possible and today All Aboard Florida will move people within Florida in the 21st century. Learn more about the All Aboard Florida project here." 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Update from the intrepid Mary Lindsey

"Our friends at the Scottish Rite Gulf Stream Lodge in Lake Worth hosted an award ceremony last night honoring three PBSO deputies, Jason Coker, Devin Zuchowski and Chris Johnson for their life saving and community building efforts as well as Capt. Kem Mason from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. Also receiving Community Service awards were Pete Roubekas from Farmer Girl Restaurant for his 30 year tradition of providing a Thanksgiving feast at no charge to people who otherwise would be spending the holiday alone and hungry and our very own, very special Brian Kirsch, founder and force behind the Gray Mockingbird Community Garden, located on the Scottish Rite property. It was an amazing tribute to all these people I am so proud to call my Neighbors!"

Historic Boynton Beach High School and the former historic Lake Worth Casino Building: the problem with comparing the two structures

Many parallels do exist between the historic Boynton Beach High School and the former Lake Worth Casino building that was demolished. Each building represents a touchstone to the past of both communities and each has had to grapple with how best to renovate (or not renovate) and reuse these publicly owned buildings over time. Both publicly-owned buildings found themselves used as political footballs as the emotion to save and honor them became enmeshed with how to pay to save them.

Both have experienced the failure of various public/private partnerships that have cost both cities money to defend themselves from lawsuits. Lake Worth had to pay to defend itself from a lawsuit filed by Greater Bay and eventually paid out $1.6 million to settle the lawsuit. Boynton Beach is in a similar fight with the latest attempt to redevelop the site/building to a more commercial use and the prospects do not look good.

The Boynton Beach High School sits very near the city's municipal complex and carries a public zoning designation. Below is a video made up of photos I took of the building back in 2014. Notice the zoning and land use change sign. The city is not following through on the zoning of the property which is the basis for the current lawsuit.

Now, Rick Gonzalez, another common element the two buildings share, is back on the scene attempting to save the high school. All we can do is hope his efforts don't take the same road as the Lake Worth Casino complex which was 94% demolished (more on this below).

Here is a link to the Alexandra Seltzer article, curiously published on same day as the letter to editor by Mr. Gonzalez. Both the letter and the news article were published the day after the Boynton Beach City Commission agreed to hold off on the demolition of the building. . .for now.

Here is the Post letter to the editor:
Boynton wrong to raze historic high school
As immediate past president of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. and current vice chairman of the Florida Historical Commission, I was appalled to hear of the decision by the Boynton Beach City Commission to demolish the old Boynton Beach High School.
This building has been designated by the trust as one of Florida’s historic buildings and, as such, has been placed on the “Most Endangered List” by the organization. To demolish it would be a huge loss to our historic local and state heritage. 
How could commissioners come to this devastating decision? Perhaps they are unaware of the current trend in urban planning to renovate buildings of historic significance to use as anchors for community and private-sector hubs. The city of West Palm Beach is an example of this, where we restored the old Palm Beach County Courthouse to become the centerpiece of the Governmental Center.
The city of Lake Worth has also mastered this concept, where we rebuilt the historic Lake Worth Casino, which now has a community ballroom as well as restaurants and retail establishments. Why can’t Boynton Beach do the same with the old high school?
Why would the commission vote to demolish the school with no clear plan for public or private use for the site? There are developers out there that have proven track records at using historic buildings as anchors for civic and business centers. However, it takes the foresight of those in government to pursue these companies.
Editor’s note: Rick Gonzalez is president of REG Architects Inc.
Mr. Gonzalez is correct in saying that the City of Lake Worth "rebuilt" the Lake Worth Casino; but during his "pitch" to the City Commission at the time, it was all about saving the building. This is how the city saved the Casino building:

Our historic Casino building was not saved. It disappeared. This is what it looked like during the middle of 2011.
 Pictures taken at the peak of former historic Lake Worth Casino building during its demolition.
Now Lake Worth has a building with acknowledged construction and design flaws that impede its ability to be self-sustaining financially and to be a real community asset. If you have been to our Commission meetings, every now and then you hear discussion between the City, architect and contractor's attorneys. So we are not over this "rebuild" yet.

I wish the best of luck to those attempting to save this historic building in Boynton Beach, while it still is around to save. Doing so would be real historic preservation. What Lake Worth did cannot be called historic preservation. We tore down a National Register eligible building and built a new one in its place. One that is functionally flawed and an albatross for the City and its residents.

Temporary Extension for Annual Guardianship Plans: Administrative Order 6.307-8/15

On July 1, 2015, amendments to chapter 744.367, of the Florida Statutes became law, revising when a guardian must file an annual guardianship plan. This change has made a significant number of guardianship plans delinquent as of July 1, 2015.

In order to assist guardians in complying with this new requirement, the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit issued AO 6.307, granting an extension for the filing of the annual report until September 30, 2015, for all cases in which the annual report would have been due between February 1, 2015, and August 31, 2015.

For details, see AO 6.307.

Thank you for your assistance, and please contact Anthony Palmieri in my Division of Inspector General at 561-355-6782 if you have any questions.

Best regards,
Sharon R. Bock, Esq.
Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County

The folks at NeighborhoodScout think they know the borders of the CITY of Lake Worth: they don't

Yesterday had a little fun with NeighborhoodScout (NHS). If you didn't know, NHS is now the go-to source of The Palm Beach Post for information about 'crime' in the City. I found a 'Lake Worth' neighborhood west of the Florida Turnpike with a high population of Russians and this is what I posted.

Here are a few of the Tweets that went back and forth:

Now for the issue that is getting bigger all the time: is it finally time to seriously debate changing the name of our City to differentiate ourselves from all those 'Lake Worth' communities out west?

Liz Balmaseda with a new menu item at Benny's on the Beach: Paella Weekends

The Post's Liz Balmaseda has this article about a new menu item by chef Jeremy Hanlon at Benny's on the Beach. Here's the first paragraph:
     Benny’s on the Beach has kicked off a new weekend menu with a Spanish flair. Chef Jeremy Hanlon, taking inspiration from his studies in Spain, is making all sorts of shareable paella dishes for dinner Saturdays and Sundays.
If you wish, read about my recent dinner at Benny's.

Benny's on the Beach is located at 10 S. Ocean Blvd., Lake Worth; 561-582-9001. Say "hello" to owner Lee Lipton and make sure to follow Benny's on Twitter:

Fourth confirmed rabid animal found in Palm Beach County

Jason Davis at NBC5/WPTV has this information about a rabid fox discovered in suburban Palm Beach County:
     Health Department officials say this is the fourth confirmed rabid animal this year in Palm Beach County.
     They warn residents in the area east of the Florida Turnpike, west of Jog Road and north of Lantana Road to be aware that rabies is in the wild animal population and to take all necessary precautions to avoid contact.
Here is the video from the segment:

Breaking News: "Geologists Unearth Fully Intact Rock"

FORT COLLINS, CODescribing the discovery as the most flawless specimen ever unearthed, a team of geologists working in northern Colorado announced Friday they had excavated a fully intact rock. “This stunning find provides an illuminating glimpse into what rocks may have looked like in their complete form millions of years ago,” said lead geologist James Powell, adding that the extremely well-preserved rock offers unprecedented insight into the physical structure, shape, and characteristics of early rocks in ways that incomplete stone fragments and shards never could.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lake Worth Critical Mass bike ride in the City.: let's hope they turn the message in a positive direction

Sadly, from some gloom-&-doom City residents and even Lake Worth's paper of record, we'll always be known as "good old Lake Worth". Even when the crime rate plummets some will find a way to spin the news in a bad way. It's a terrible shame some cannot acknowledge the great strides this City has made the last few years and now our friends in Critical Mass join that sad group.
Very clever Lake Worth Critical Mass (LWCM). Trashing our little City. All this time we thought Lake Worth was a place you wanted your friends like in Ft. Lauderdale to see and show off. I know, because I've met many of them on my 8+ Critical Mass rides to date.
You've blocked traffic all over the City with your bikes and the people here mostly enjoyed the show and wished you well. Many waved and honked horns in support. Our PBSO stayed out of the way and let you do what you wanted to do. Everyone turned a blind eye to children not wearing helmets and all those bikes without the required lights.

How many people showed up thinking the purpose of LWCM was to engage the public and teach them to share the road with bikes. We thought it was about 'bikeability' and Complete Streets and showing people that a culture without a motor vehicle is possible. Many thought the LWCM, mostly composed of Millennials, were trying to make a statement. The image above isn't quite the statement the good people of Lake Worth were expecting.

You stopped traffic (illegally) with 'corkers' on FDOT right-of-ways, Dixie Hwy, Federal Hwy, and disrupted traffic downtown but Lake Worth said 'fine', have fun and we wish you well because Lake Worth is a cool place and what's not to like? Lake Worth welcomed you into our cool, funky town and in return you end up trashing us? That is very sad.

Should Bryant Park in Lake Worth be turned into a homeless camp? Whose amenity is it anyway?

In the video below are two gentlemen who spoke during public comment at last night's (8/18) city commission meeting. A reference, or some might consider a threat, is made about what happened in Ft. Lauderdale vis-à-vis Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler and the feeding of the homeless in that city's public parks.

With all the challenges the City faces some wish to add to that burden, putting even more demands on City services. Question: do the 'activists' and the homeless trump the public's right to enjoy their public spaces? Trump the business community's rights? Condo owners?

The homeless have their advocates. Maybe some advance preparation is needed to form a group of advocates for the City's public parks and the families who use them. Election season starts early in this City (as if you didn't know that already).

Question: Do you know how long the Lake Worth BEACH! is? A lot of people still have no idea

Below is a short video by VisitFlorida of the open coast beaches in the State of Florida. When you add up the total miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches, the Straits, and the Gulf of Mexico it totals 825 miles. If you total the northeast, central, and southeast regions of the Atlantic Ocean beaches the total is 362.7 miles of beach.

Now, how many of that 362 miles of Atlantic Coast beach do you think the Lake Worth beach comprises? Here is the quiz:

POP QUIZ: How many miles long is the Lake Worth BEACH! (approximately)? Is it:
  1. Two miles long?
  2. Five and ¼ miles?
  3. One and ½ miles?
  4. 0.26 miles (1,280 feet)?
  5. One mile and 98 feet?
Watch the video below and think about it. Check back here tomorrow for the answer (HINT: if you were a turtle it might be a bit difficult to find).

Playlist of Videos from Last Night's City Commission Meeting - 8/18/15

Video #4 is especially interesting at the 13:00–17:20 mark. Later on today or tomorrow will pull that section out with some commentary.

Court affirms that Florida's Everglades restoration strategy is working: Big Sugar getting the job done

This is big news about Florida's Everglades restoration that went mostly unheralded in the news media. Here is the article by Christine Stapleton and a short excerpt:
     The 2nd District Court of Appeal recently upheld the existing best management practices that Glades-area sugar cane farmers [emphasis added] are using, rejecting arguments from the Florida Audubon Society that they weren’t stringent enough.
     Specifically, the appellate court in Lakeland noted that the practices are working and leading to phosphorus reductions that exceed state requirements.
     The court said that additional water-quality improvements should be focused on the Stormwater Treatment Areas outside the Everglades Agricultural Area, as envisioned in the state’s restoration strategy.

Courtesy of Emerson Lotzia on Twitter yesterday

Emerson Lotzia at NBC5/WPTV sent out this amazing video on Twitter yesterday. This young man has autism and you won't believe what happens when he starts to sing! 

Did you know Lake Worth has one of the highest rates of Russian/Austrian ancestry in America?

Amazing isn't it? And completely untrue. This is what happens when people reference sources like NeighborhoodScout for news. This 'Lake Worth' neighborhood is located west of the Florida Turnpike, many miles from the City of Lake Worth.

Read more about 'Lake Worth':
     Lantana Rd / Lyons Rd is a suburban neighborhood (based on population density) located in Lake Worth, Florida.
     Lantana Rd / Lyons Rd real estate is primarily made up of medium sized (three or four bedroom) to large (four, five or more bedroom) single-family homes and townhomes. Most of the residential real estate is owner occupied. Many of the residences in the Lantana Rd / Lyons Rd neighborhood are newer, built in 2000 or more recently.
[and. . .]
     Did you know that the Lantana Rd / Lyons Rd neighborhood has more Austrian and Russian ancestry people living in it than nearly any neighborhood in America? It's true! In fact, 1.9% of this neighborhood's residents have Austrian ancestry and 9.2% have Russian ancestry.

The Little City of Lake Worth Continues to Alter Water Chlorination Process (process ends Sept. 6)

From the Press Release: To maintain high water quality in the City of Lake Worth water distribution system, the City of Lake Worth Water Treatment Plant will temporarily change the water chlorination methods for two weeks from August 14, 2015 through September 6, 2015. The City of Lake Worth will also increase hydrant flushing during this time. This is a preventive maintenance process.

Starting August 14, 2015 a “free chlorine residual” water treatment method will be used to provide a somewhat stronger disinfection process than the “combined chlorine or Chloramines” treatment which is normally used. The City of Lake Worth will revert back to the “combined chlorine” method by September 6, 2015. As part of this process, the City of Lake Worth will be flushing fire hydrants. This flushing will cause temporary water in the swales of the roadways. Please do not be alarmed by this water as it will dissipate within a few hours.

Congratulations Uber! How much difference did Gary Stein add to the debate?

Yesterday, by a circuitous route, the Palm Beach County Commission gave its blessing to Uber. Here is the Post's Eliot Kleinberg article about what happened yesterday. Technically, the fight is not over but realistically the fight is over.

Despite attempts such as the silly Palm Beach Post editorial board to justify substandard services for tourists, business people, and citizens here the public clearly demonstrated they wanted Uber to stay. It's hard to gauge how much the editorial by the Sun Sentinel's Gary Stein had on the debate but can tell you this: Mr. Stein's thoughts created a tremendous amount of traffic on this blog. Why? Probably because it speaks to truth about the situation with taxis.

Here are some issues with taxis Mr. Stein has in south Florida:
If taxis and taxi service were good, they wouldn’t have to worry about competition from Uber or Lyft or anybody else.
  • But cabs smell.
  • They often don’t have working air conditioning.
  • Sometimes the credit card machines are broken.
  • The drivers can be surly, and not know directions.
  • It can take a long time to get one to pick you up.
  • And the prices can be double what Uber charges.
And you really wonder why people deluged the county with complaints when Uber left?
When was the last time the members of the Post editorial board took a taxi?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

[HINT OF THINGS TO COME IN LAKE WORTH?] 'Food Not Bombs' monkeywrenching in Ft. Lauderdale (and the Lake Worth connection)

[Below is a blog post from November 13, 2014.]

Today in the Broward New Times is an article by Ryan Pfeffer about Jillian Pim and her ongoing hunger strike against the city of Fort Lauderdale's new city ordinances. Here is an excerpt:
Jillian and her husband, Nathan Pim, are activists with South Florida Food Not Bombs, a group that claims it has been feeding the homeless in Stranahan Park in Downtown Fort Lauderdale for seven years. The two have been actively protesting Fort Lauderdale's new homeless feeding restrictions since Fort Lauderdale commissioners voted to approve the new ordinance on October 22, 2014.
As part of the article is a video where Mrs. Pim is interviewed about her hunger strike and the effects she is experiencing. You can read the article and watch the video here.

When you watch the video note what you see at the 28 to 31 second mark. This screen grab is at the 28 second mark.
This just happens to be a poster for an EarthFirst! conference. As many of you know our City of Lake Worth is the home base for EarthFirst! You can draw what conclusions you wish. It is interesting that the EarthFirst! leaders Cara Jennings and Peter (Panagioti) Tsolkas spoke at the last Lake Worth city commission meeting in opposition to the city's "aggressive panhandling" ordinance.

Watch Cara Jennings (0:40–2:40) and Peter Tsolkas (6:00–8:00) in the video below defend aggressive panhandling in Lake Worth.

Would you believe me if I told you. . .

If I told you an elected city commissioner in the City of Lake Worth who:
  • Has a PhD in science
  • Is a believer in sea level rise
  • Is a believer in climate change
  • Is a supporter of "Green" technology
  • Is a supporter of "Best Practices"
  • Is a supporter of "sustainability" and "resiliency"
  • Is someone who demands accountability. . .
. . .would support building a large public structure east of the Coastal Construction Line and immediately west of a beach on the Atlantic Ocean WITHOUT PILINGS? You wouldn't believe it would you?
That's right. Lake Worth Commissioner Christopher McVoy supported constructing the 'new' Casino building without pilings. And to make matters worse the seawall protecting the Casino was never properly inspected. 
So much for the "Scientific Method".

Since when does a "conversation" become a "pitch"? Easy for The Palm Beach Post

The public in Lake Worth wants more answers and has more questions for Hudson Holdings. The public at a recent city commission meeting demanded more public input. So, the people at Hudson Holdings said, "OK, we'll do that." They scheduled the event below for the public:
The Palm Beach Post reporter Kevin Thompson took a different take on this meeting. He calls it a "pitch"

Here is the definition of a sales "pitch":
Note that in a "pitch" the audience doesn't participate. They are required to listen and not ask questions during the 'pitch'. Here is the definition of a 'pitch':
A line of talk that attempts to persuade someone of something, as in "Let's hear your latest sales pitch for energy conservation." This term uses the noun pitch in the sense of “a talk,” or more literally, a throwing of words at one.
Here are some of the words from the graphic produced by Hudson Holdings:
  • Conversation
  • Discuss
  • Concerns 
  • Ideas
  • Collaboration
  • Together
  • Courteous
  • Options
  • Opportunities
  • Participation
This meeting on Monday IS NOT A PITCH. The word 'pitch' used here is an example of spin (propaganda). As documented on this blog on many occasions the Casino/pool complex has problems that have to be fixed. Neither the City, the public, or Hudson Holdings is treated fairly when a public meeting is misrepresented in the county's paper of record.

Lake Worth Beach Bonfire Dates Announced

About a neighborhood in Riviera Beach from NeighborhoodScout (the Post's expert source for local community information)

The website NeighborhoodScout (NHS) is an expert source for information by The Palm Beach Post. Recently the 'expert data' at NHS were used to report on 'crime' in the City of Lake Worth.

If you'll recall, NHS reported that West Palm Beach (where the Post is headquartered) was one of the most dangerous cities in America:
The 'experts' at NHS report that 94% of cities in America are safer than West Palm Beach.
Below the experts at NHS report on a community in Riviera Beach: Martin Luther King Jr Blvd/Old Dixie Hwy:
     Single parenting is hard. But you don't have to tell the Martin Luther King Jr Blvd / Old Dixie Hwy neighborhood about it; they already know. 32.2% of this neighborhood's households are run by single mothers, which is a higher concentration than NeighborhoodScout found in 99.6% of American neighborhoods. Further NeighborhoodScout research showed strong statistical correlations among high rates of children living in single parent households, and neighborhood crime, particularly violent crime, neighborhood poverty, and, importantly, the percentage of low weight births and rates of infant mortality.
     In addition, the Martin Luther King Jr Blvd / Old Dixie Hwy neighborhood has a greater percentage of children living in poverty (75.9%) than found in 98.7% of all U.S. neighborhoods. Children living in poverty is one of the challenges facing America, and the world, and in this neighborhood in particular, the problem can be considered acute.
We'll be reading about this neighborhood soon in the Post, I'm sure, considering this neighborhood is ranked an "acute" problem by the experts at NHS.

Mary Lindsey at the Palm Beach County Commission this morning (8/18): REAP grants and the NAPC

Mary Lindsey from the little City of Lake Worth had a presentation today for the Palm Beach County Commission about the recent REAP grants to help control crime in the City. I'll get the text of the presentation and possibly a video and post here soon.

As you can see below, while some are trolling websites like NeighborhoodScout for crime news about Lake Worth the real news is happening right below their noses and they don't see it or choose not to see it.

Thank you for the great job today, Mary.

City of West Palm Beach responds to inaccurate reports about Planning Board meeting tonight

You can read the entire press release here, at the city of West Palm Beach's website. Here are two excerpts:
     A discussion involving changes to the city’s zoning code and comprehensive plan is scheduled to take place during Tuesday’s [TONIGHT] Planning Board meeting. No formal vote will be taken.
     There are some inaccurate accounts concerning what the discussion will be, including a published report that has incorrectly characterized the discussion as being about “changing West Palm rules to allow denser development.”
[and. . .]
     The proposed changes would create more certainty and predictability. Everyone would know that no building could go beyond 70 units per acre. Everyone would know exactly what public benefits are being provided by a developer that went beyond 32 units per acre.
     Finally, the city has already been planning a public workshop and presentation to go over the proposal. As soon as the date and time is confirmed, it will be publicized.

PBSO Sheriff Bradshaw goes to Broward County and gets fair treatment from the press there

Marci Shatzman of the Sun Sentinel did a very fair article about Sheriff Bradshaw, sans the hyperbole and hysteria that we're accustomed to at The Palm Beach Post and NBC5/WPTV. Here are two short excerpts:
     "[G]angs have changed and so his office has changed tactics on dealing with them, Bradshaw said. Now they take out an entire gang by using federal Rico organized crime statutes rather than piecemeal.
     He attributed 80 percent of crime in the county to gangs, calling them "a blight on every community." [emphasis added]
     "This is organized crime, not a bunch of kids hanging out together," he said, citing narcotics, identity theft and stealing tax refunds. "It's all about the money."
[and. . .]
     Nine smaller municipalities including Greenacres have reached out to have PBSO take over their police departments, he said. Bradshaw attributed that to fewer resources, like not having a chopper, a boat or a regional crime lab.
     "We get 1,000 calls a month" to help, he said. "Places with four or five or six officers don't make sense.
     "It's the logical next step to merge and we're providing a higher level of service," he added, citing Lake Worth and Riviera Beach. Merging will save Greenacres $2 million, he added.
     Bradshaw predicted Palm Beach County would "eventually have one police agency," but not in his lifetime.
On an entirely different topic, do you remember the results of Sheriff Bradshaw's last election? It was a nail-biter:

Uber stays: The public in Broward County spoke and the political class listened

The Sun Sentinel editorial board chimes in about Uber in Broward County:

     Call it a classic example of the public actually having a voice in public policy.
Yes, Uber is apparently heading back to Broward County soon, which is very good news for those who like the convenience, pricing, cleanliness and overall efficiency of the ride-hailing service.
     Broward County commissioners late Tuesday said they will soften the regulations that caused Uber to leave the county at the end of July. The rules will be changed, the regulations will be eased, because the public spoke loud and clear that they wanted the option of using Uber. [emphasis added]

[and. . .]

     Yes, Uber as a company can be arrogant, and they don't like a lot of the rules that cover traditional taxis. But the public obviously liked the fact Uber was cleaner, often cheaper, and more convenient than traditional taxis.
     It's called competition. And it's giving the public something they want. The business community wants it, tourists want it, and it is even used by some parents who let their schoolkids use the app if they can't be picked up after classes.

Gary Stein: "Will South Florida taxis clean up their act?"

First, if you support Uber and other similar transportation options here in Palm Beach County here is how you contact your county commissioner and there is also a form letter to use if you wish.

Now to Gary Stein, an editor at the Sun Sentinel. He has some issues with taxis in south Florida. Here are some:
If taxis and taxi service were good, they wouldn’t have to worry about competition from Uber or Lyft or anybody else.
  • But cabs smell.
  • They often don’t have working air conditioning.
  • Sometimes the credit card machines are broken.
  • The drivers can be surly, and not know directions.
  • It can take a long time to get one to pick you up.
  • And the prices can be double what Uber charges.
And you really wonder why people deluged the county with complaints when Uber left?

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Flawed Casino Complex: Picture of Lake Worth Casino and Beach Complex by Skyline Aerials, LLC

I found the photo below this morning on a Facebook page of an aerial photography company. This is, of course, after the renovation (or 90%+ demolition) of the property. 
It helps to point out a few things. One is that the pool and pool building take up as much, or more, of the property than the Casino structure. Another is the lack of parking immediately surrounding the building. What the photo does not show is the difference in elevation between the parking at the bottom of the picture and the higher elevation of the Casino building. The closest parking to the building is the permit parking area for residents. On the extreme left of the photo is Kreusler Park and its parking area. 

Not to be missed is the Atlantic Ocean which can be seen in the top portion of the photo. It is the second largest ocean on the planet. This tiny complex is part of a 5 million person plus metropolitan area that is made up of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

From this birds-eye view, the pool represents a large amount of land occupied by something that does not create nearly enough revenue proportionate to the prime space it occupies. Some would say that since this is a "park" revenue should not be the overwhelming concern here. And you can think that way if you want to, but realize that someone (the Lake Worth taxpayer and other users of the beach) have to spend money directly or indirectly to make up for that lost portion of revenue. In other words, the pool can be thought of as an opportunity cost. 

What is the city giving up for the pool to be in this location and take up this much space? And then the question that should be asked is: Is it worth it?

Remember, I enjoy the pool immensely and use it on a regular basis. However, we need to look at this 'amenity' with a critical eye.

If you zoom in on the aerial, you see one of the many design or operation flaws and the impact that it has on the aesthetics and the impression people get when they visit the Casino building:
Along the north side of the road is where most pedestrians travel from the parking area to the Casino building which is on top of the dune. See the dark stain that starts around the loading/trash collection area to the building? This is the standard condition here. It's worse when we haven't had rains, but you can see how the garbage residue is washed down the hill, alongside of where people first experience our beach complex. I bet this is especially true for tourists, as many would seek out this area to park as it is the first one you see upon entering the property. Biking through this area is not pleasant and can sometimes be slippery. The smell is not the best either.

Remember, the location of the building was determined by the policy decision to "save the building", which actually was never really saved. So, in the end, it really could have been placed anywhere on this 19 acre property. It's refuse area could have been designed and covered to have minimal contact with the public. Lastly, do you notice the dock where large trucks park to off-load their deliveries? That's right, there isn't one. 

Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches Expands Further Into Lake Worth

The Lake Worth Herald has this news about Meals on Wheels in Palm Beach County:
     Pam Calzadilla, executive director of Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches, is pleased to announce the expansion of services provided to residents of the Lake Worth area.
     “We’ve been happy with the success of our growth in the central Lake Worth area and now we’re able to expand to provide freshly prepared nutritious meals to homebound seniors as far west as Congress Avenue,” Calzadilla said. “We know there’s a huge need in that area.”
     Thanks largely to a grant from the Quantum Foundation and collaboration with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Lake Worth, which serves as a distribution site, Meals on Wheels was able to expand into Lake Worth in March of last year. Now, with the latest expansion, Meals on Wheels can reach more homebound seniors, including many living in the Lake Osborne area.

[PINNED POST] The Obtuse Blogger (TOB) at the podium in Lake Worth City Commission meeting, 7/30/2015

For those of you who missed the performance by TOB. . .
Proceed to watch TOB in action below, to the music "Flight of the Bumble Bee".

I know, the performance is very funny. What's not so funny are images such as the following one that TOB posted on her blog:

[RE-POST BY REQUEST] Explained: how those long lists of crime are deceptive and inflate the false perception of crime

[Crime in Lake Worth is a big topic in the City but not in the way it's been talked about in the past. There seems to be a general disgust in the community with how crime is reported and the amount of crime in the western communities that gets attributed to the City, unfairly. The Obtuse Blogger (TOB) for instance, although she's lived here for 80 years or so, is someone who should know better but remains ignorant of the City's borders. This particular post below is a big hit with my readers and was requested to re-post. So here it is:]
One of the standard stock images used by The Obtuse Blogger (TOB) introducing readers to her tediously long list of crimes.
Another day and another tediously long list of crime by The Obtuse Blogger (TOB); this is nothing new. An alert reader of my blog printed out this particular list and sent it to me with one street in highlighted: the 2000 block of Collier Ave. We'll get to that later.

How many readers of her blog do you suppose see that long list and say, "Hey, I'm gonna check if these are really crimes and if they happened in the City?" Would suspect that number to be zero. Here are some 'crimes' TOB lists:
  • 7 Beverage Violations (violations are not crimes)
  • 2 Drunk Pedestrians 
  • 2 Disturbances (car stereo too loud?)
The crimes TOB gives between 2000 and 2400 Lake Worth Road? I'll give her the benefit of the doubt on those; that area is a mix of City and unincorporated Palm Beach County (U-PBC). Without even trying too hard here are some crimes that she lists that occurred outside the City of Lake Worth:
  • 1100 block of Lake Geneva Drive
  • 1700 block of Katherine Court
  • 2500 block of Lake Worth Rd (condo complex in U-PBC)
The message seems to be when fact-checking her list of crimes is the same message PBSO gives at every neighborhood meeting: LOCK YOUR CAR DOORS! The message just never seems to get through. The number of vehicle burglaries? 13.

Now for the home burglary on the 2000 block of Collier Ave:
Image from Google Maps. Note Collier Ave is the east/west street with the 'red pin' in the center.
Collier Ave is only two blocks long located off of Lake Osborne Drive. West of the red pin in the image above is the City of Lake Worth. East of the pin is U-PBC. That area is a "pocket" of U-PBC located within the City. Note that TOB's best friend in the universe lives in the 2100 block of Collier Ave. After TOB living in the City for what, 80 years now, she still doesn't know that the east part of Collier Ave IS NOT in the City? Absurd. But it gets added to the list anyway. 

The next time you see one of those long lists of crime in the City be skeptical. 
A message brought to you by the Lake Worth Neighborhood Association Presidents Council (NAPC).

The Amish on bikes: a looming threat to America?

There are many issues facing the country and now we learn there is another one. An Amish bishop has decreed that the Amish can now ride bikes. Now adults who have never ridden a bike have to learn how. Or maybe the kids can learn and then teach the parents. They'll figure it out; the Amish are a resourceful bunch. 

In the meantime there is going to be an adjustment period with the non-Amish community. Read how the people of Kentucky are dealing with this. Here is an excerpt from the article:   
     "There are a lot of them out there, hundreds of them," said Daviess County Chief Deputy Gary Allison.
     "That lack of experience, that a lot of people put together riding bikes as kids, is something they don't have and that adds to the danger."
     "I don't know exactly how many bikes we have now, but I know it is quite a few," added Gabhart [Daviess County Commissioner Nathan Gabhart].
     "I believe we have around 10,000 Amish in the county. That's the last figure I heard, so the bicycles are rampant out there and the bicycle techniques are perhaps less than desirable. It just seems like there is a safety issue."

[UPDATE: CITY OF WEST PALM BEACH RESPONDS] West Palm Beach examines density allowed by its zoning code.

[UPDATE: The City of West Palm Beach responds to "inaccurate accounts" about their Planning Board meeting tomorrow night. Click here for the city's response. The city contends there is erroneous information in the account below.]

From the group known as Citizens for Thoughtful Growth (CTG).

6:00pm CITY HALL

Dear Concerned Citizens:

The Planning Board is convening on Tuesday August 18 at 6:00pm for its monthly meeting, but an extremely important topic will be addressed that will affect neighborhoods and areas East of I-95 North from Palm Beach Lakes Blvd to the City Limits and South from Okeechobee Blvd to the spillway. Significant changes are proposed to increase density and decrease Planned Development requirements.

During this meeting, Rick Greene, the Development Services Director for the City of West Palm Beach, will be presenting proposed changes to the Zoning Code. Make no mistake: These changes involve the very issues CTG filed a lawsuit over and are a direct result of our litigation!

Here is a link to Mr. Greene’s presentation to the City Commissioners with some of the proposed changes the City Staff wishes to make to the Zoning Code:

CTG wants to work closely with the City of West Palm Beach in amending the Zoning Code to ensure predictability and objectivity in the approval of all future projects by the City. CTG’s goal is still to have thoughtful growth with an emphasis on protecting and preserving our beautiful waterfront and neighborhoods.

CTG also wants all citizens to be a part of this important conversation. It is imperative that the City host community-wide workshop sessions with interested and concerned citizens to ensure the changes to the Zoning Code consist of changes the citizenry actually supports and understands.

We urge everyone to come to the Planning Board meeting on Tuesday August 18 to hear the presentation, voice your opinion and implore the City to have a productive and constructive dialogue with the citizens to better determine how best to amend the Zoning Code. This presentation to the Planning Board is a great first step, but we NEED more public discourse before changes can be made to our Zoning Code that will affect every citizen in our great City.


Note: This is the group that filed the lawsuit to stop the Chapel-by-the-Lake high-rise condominium project.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The charming Lake Worth Casino building during a rain storm

This is a video taken with my phone of the charming Casino building during a storm at the BEACH! yesterday. Diners who were sitting outside and passers-by had to scramble out of the way of the cascading water.

This structure, which I sometimes jokingly refer to as the "Gift That Keeps On Giving", is courtesy of a previous city commission. Here is a picture of them when the complex first opened:
The Casino complex is now a confirmed business failure and the City cannot pay back the money borrowed to construct this albatross. 

Also note there has never been a reunion by the "visionaries" pictured above to celebrate their work. Very telling isn't it?

Mayor Jeri Muoio on the closing of Flagler Drive: "It's going to be painful."

This is from the city of West Palm Beach's website. The mayor holds a weekly press conference; a good way to keep the public aware of what is happening. Here is an excerpt:
     During her weekly media briefing, Mayor Muoio urged residents to “plan accordingly” starting Monday when Flagler Drive near the North Bridge shuts down for a year and a half.
     “It’s going to be painful,” said Mayor Muoio.
     But she followed up by saying the Florida Department of Transportation road work will also “be a good thing” when it’s done.
     Beginning Monday [8/17], FDOT will shut down Flagler drive from 4th Street up to the bridge for nine months while they raise the height of the roadway by three feet. The reason is to have the bridge and Flagler Drive meet so that drivers can enter and exit the bridge directly from Flagler Drive.

Mr. Lepa's Home Improvements and the Mean Girls Go On the Attack Again

The Other Blogger (TOB) and the Mean Girls are very unhappy with Mr. Lepa again and this is why.

Last Wednesday (8/12) Mr. Lepa appeared before the Lake Worth Historic Resource Preservation Board and you can see what he was requesting here (go to page 222 for the beginning). Here are some of the improvements he's made to his home:
He's done everything right, going through the proper procedures and the permitting process. You would think the residents of Lake Worth would be happy about this? Some people will not be happy about anything. Below is an earlier picture TOB took of Mr. Lepa's home:
Along with the 14 anonymous comments registering their displeasure with Mr. Lepa, Ms. Anderson penned 3 additional silly comments and "Weetha Peebull" chimed in with 2 more even-sillier comments. But only 1 of the comments made any sense, and it was this one:
 The comment continues:
The commenter refers to 805 N. Lakeside, a house 1 block North of Mr. Lepa. Here is a GoogleMaps street view of 805 N. Lakeside:

Looking for a school in West Palm Beach? Have you considered the Palm Beach County Jail?

As part of my continued effort to demonstrate the absurdity of The Palm Beach Post using NeighborhoodScout (NHS) to report on crime in Lake Worth decided to do some poking around the NHS website about the city of West Palm Beach, where the paper is headquartered. When you look for schools in West Palm Beach look at two that are listed:
Two 'schools' in West Palm Beach.
Did you know that, according to NHS, West Palm Beach is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States? According to NHS it is:
According to NHS 94% of cities in the United States are safer than West Palm Beach.
The city of Riviera Beach is twice as safe as West Palm Beach according to NHS

Instead of NHS being cited as an expert source for local news and information the public should instead be cautioned about dubious websites whose data collection methods are unknown. That's the real news story.