Saturday, December 5, 2015

The plight of the homeless in Lake Worth (and the political talking points you'll be hearing soon enough)

In the lead-up to the March elections, two former Lake Worth commissioners will be rolling out their homeless campaign to help one of their 'chosen' get a seat on the City Commission. They've laid the groundwork already and sent many signals so it's really no surprise to anyone. Lake Worth is cash-strapped and struggling with failed projects like the City's Casino complex which hasn't lived up to its financial expectations and its site design leaves much to be desired. Like so much in Lake Worth created during previous administrations, it looks good at a distance.

A failed bond issue, campaigned against by former commissioners like Joann Golden, Cara Jennings, and current Commissioner McVoy ensured that infrastructure work deferred for too long would stay deferred that much longer. Our residential neighborhoods have been without adequate lighting for years (there's recent news on that front), and there are other issues as well most residents are familiar with. In other words, previous commissions have left a lot on the plate for our current and all future commissions to address. Meanwhile the ones who got in this predicament carry around their failed policies like old, tired luggage. Remember the "day labor center" that Cara Jennings was so enamored with?

They want you to believe that they, or their anointed ones, are the only ones with the answers. They point to problems such as the one below, homelessness, and use that issue as a rallying cry which also, conveniently, takes the failed Casino complex off many people's radar.

The issue of homelessness is a challenging one but it shouldn't trump any of the other challenges the City faces. Every city in Palm Beach County with homeless people has to balance the needs of residents and children, keep the parks clean, deliver services, and maintain safety in all the neighborhoods as well. That frustration is demonstrated by this City resident during public comment in September:
In a timely article by Alexandra Seltzer and Kevin D. Thompson in The Palm Beach Post's online edition is this article (in tomorrow's Sunday [12/6] print edition) and Lake Worth's city manager sums up the predicament many city's have in Palm Beach County (PBC) to help the homeless get the services they require from the county:
But cities, [Lake Worth City Manager Michael] Bornstein said, can only do so much [for the homeless].
     “We can’t even patch our streets,” he said. “We’re working on the fundamentals, now we’re supposed to fix a national issue? Just throw Iran and Iraq and China on our plate.”
An article the Post references is Matt Morgan's work in April which shows the county has made great strides to help the homeless but there's more work needed:
     Reasons for the lower number include work at the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center, reduction in housing program requirements, which lowers recidivism, and an increase in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development vouchers.
[and. . .]
     Anyone who sees a homeless person should encourage them to call the Lewis Center at 561-904-7900.
From the Post article by Seltzer and Thompson are the numbers of homeless:
     Countywide, there were more than 1,400 homeless counted in that period [PBC's biannual report], which is a 9 percent drop since 2013. [emphasis added]
[and. . .]
     However, the amount of chronically homeless people in the county increased by 35 percent and the number of homeless people who have mental illness or substance-abuse issues is about double from the previous count.
Here is another quote in the article from the Lake Worth city manager on the issue of homelessness, substance abuse, and the City's irresponsible sober home operators:
“A good number of people we see on the streets have addiction issues and they came from sober homes and they’re impacting crime and theft,” Lake Worth City Manager Michael Bornstein said.
Lake Worth Mayor Pam Triolo and Commissioner Andy Amoroso are also quoted in the article. It is clear that neither of them are playing the "ostrich head in the sand" game that others have played when on the dais. They discuss the issues straight on that many residents and business owners have experienced. I am convinced everybody is doing what they can given the constraints: following the law and finding the money. Clearly this is a multifaceted problem that extends beyond the city's borders. However, an extra $64,000 a month wouldn't hurt:
The one thread that runs through the entire article by Seltzer and Thompson is no one has the full answer from the state level down to the county level and further along to the cities affected by homelessness. People can point fingers, make a lot of noise, but the issue of sober homes is clearly a big part of the problem. Once that issue is solved many others will be as well: crime and blight being just two.

There are things happening to help Lake Worth and State Representative Lori Berman is one of those working to solve the sober home problem. State Senator Jeff Clemens and many other state legislators are doing what they can also. As more news becomes available I'll share it here with you and don't be reluctant to contact your local representative and tell them what you think about this. Lake Worth Commissioner Ryan Maier would be a good place to start.

Hold the Presses! Important news from the Lake Worth Pedalers: Ride each Wednesday until Christmas

Contact Mel and Vinnie at 845-399-4630 or visit their Facebook page.

The Thursday Night Pedalers are RIDING EACH WEDNESDAY until Christmas Day. Here is more information:
We will post a route to a destination where neighbors and hot chocolate/cookies will be waiting to welcome us. It is an open invitation. Come ride with us or come out and wave as we ride by. Riders, please wear light clothes, decorate your bike for the holidays and check your lights, it will be dark. Each ride leaves from the Gulfstream Hotel at 6:30 pm.
December 9th, District 2: Tropical Ridge/Sunset Ridge/Vernon Heights (use this link to find out more about the NAPC neighborhoods) to McMow Art Glass, 701 North Dixie Hwy arriving at or near 7:15 pm.

[The 50th Anniversary holiday parade is December 12th we will ride up front again in our retro theme lighted flower coronets!]

December 16th, District 4: South Palm Park/Bryant Park/Downtown Jewel/Pineapple Beach. Location, time and route to be announced.

December 23rd, District 1: Royal Poinciana/Memorial Park/ROLO. Location, time and route to be announced.

Fundraiser for Lake Worth Commissioner Andy Amoroso's re-election TODAY (December 6th)

This campaign event will be at the home of Jim Durbin and Kingsley Itsede, 1230 South Lakeside Drive, from 6:00 to 8:00. A suggested donation is $100 and please RSVP if you can at 561-398-8340 or send an email.
You can Follow Commissioner Amoroso on Twitter by clicking on the 'Follow' icon below (here he is at the Florida Senate):
Here are some of the ways you can help his campaign for re-election:
  • Donate to the campaign
  • Put up a yard sign and/or sign waving
  • Use your name as a supporter
  • Volunteer at or host events
  • Fundraising
  • Door-to-door precinct walking
  • Phone banking
  • Help on election day
Commissioner Amoroso looks forward to hearing from you!
Political Advertisement Paid For and Approved By Andy Amoroso for City Commission

From Vox: "America's gun problem, explained"

After the massacre in San Bernardino the conversation about guns and Muslim extremists/terrorists is going on and politicians are falling all over themselves to get in front of a TV camera. Read this paragraph from a sobering article in Vox:
     But it seems that we as a nation just aren't willing to look, or else don't sufficiently mind what we see, when these events occur. Even the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut — in which a gunman killed 20 young children, six school personnel, and himself — catalyzed no significant change at the federal level and most states. Since then, there have been, by some estimates, 986 mass shootings, and there is every reason to believe there will be more to come.
Did you know 63% of gun deaths are suicides? What's going to happen is the hysteria over terrorism is going to drive more people to gun stores and then more guns in homes. The following death count from suicide, domestic homicides, stolen guns, and accidents will dwarf any numbers by mass shootings. Here is the video accompanying the article by Vox:

Benny's on the Beach and ANOTHER spectacular review

Sandra Danielson has this review of our iconic Benny's on the Beach at the Lake Worth BEACH!:

     The restaurant is on the Lake Worth Pier so you are literally "on" the water while you enjoy yummy seafood for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. They use local produce as much as possible and for the seafood, well, the best King Crab Legs and Lobsters come from Maine, so that's where Benny's gets them. You can order a 1.5 lb hard shell cold water lobster for $34.99 which is a part of their Seafood Bake on Thursday & Friday nights, a must "to do" with friends. Or, enjoy a Paella Celebration every Saturday & Sunday.

[and. . .]

     If you dine at Benny's during December, be sure to tell them that you'd like a pitcher of Red Wine or White Wine Sangria and they'll bring you a complimentary pitcher. Benny's is closed on Christmas Day.
     Benny's on the Beach is the best casual oceanfront dining restaurant in Palm Beach county. Many employees have been a part of Benny's for 7+ years. Every staff member is valued and treated like family and soon you will be too. Say "hello" to Justin and Chef Jeremy when you visit.

Benny's On The Beach
10 South Ocean Blvd
Lake Worth, FL 33460
(561) 582-9001

After attacking the City to disparaging other people of faith and churches. . .the 'Common Ground' church rolls out new PR campaign!

In November the 'Common Ground' (no 's') church made claim to be the superior religion to all others in Lake Worth because they aren't a religion. It's confusing but you can real all about that here.
"Jesus hates religion" in Lake Worth?
In case you didn't know, the 'Common Ground' church is a recovery church and they hold their Sunday service at a nightclub/bar in downtown Lake Worth. Learn about that here and show up if you can. From what I understand they have coffee and danish prior; a welcome prospect if you had a rough night on the town.

Here is the new and improved PR campaign:
It's an "epic battle for the city"!
"We must develop the skill of listening and speaking less", pastor Olive says. Good advice.

The 'Urban Chicken' got cooked in Lake Worth: but is Cara Jennings ready to bury it for good?

Above is another classic photoshop from April 2009 by the inimitable, blogger-extraordinaire Tom McGow after then-commissioner Cara Jennings failed in her attempt to have backyard, 'urban' chickens throughout the little City of Lake Worth. Is another attempt is in the works?

Anyhow, are you aware of the health risks associated with urban chickens?

Friday, December 4, 2015

It's OK. Smile. Enjoy yourself and have a good time—the revival of the Gulf Stream Hotel is on the horizon!

Post editorial on 12/4: Gulfstream [or Gulf Stream*] Hotel "finally inching toward a renaissance."
First, my reaction when I read The Palm Beach Post editorial this morning is that the paper's editorial board takes on the role of Captain Obvious with an editorial titled, "Iconic Lake Worth hotel essential for economic revival". As we already know, that is indeed the case. And there are other economic dominoes that will fall into place, including the establishment of the Park of Commerce and other exciting projects in and around the downtown.

I digress, for those of you who don't know who Captain Obvious is, here is an actor to explain (a fellow with an uncanny resemblance to our iconic City resident, Herman Robinson): But it doesn't stop there. It gets better for our City. Here is a recap of more good Lake Worth news in today's print edition of the Post:
  • Page B3; Lake Worth beat reporter Kevin Thompson on more lighting for the Royal Poinciana neighborhood in an article titled, "Neighborhood finally sees the light".
  • Also on B3 another article by Mr. Thompson about the proposed greenway for 5th Ave South.
  • In the same article we learn a City resident hasn't had another bike stolen which is a big relief for all of us. PBSO Captain Baer had a thing or two to say about that
  • In the Business section is an article that will make Commissioner Ryan Maier beam with delightreporter Jennifer Sorentrue has the latest on the Loggerhead Marine Center and sea turtles.
  • And in the 'D' section on new homes, Tuscany Square in downtown Lake Worth takes top honors, above the fold in the paper, and rightfully so.
Back to the editorial. Imagine you are someone whose favorite day of the year is July 4th and you've been waiting and preparing for that day for a long time. You look at the calendar and see it falls on a Thursday and you have Friday off. No matter what happens over the weekend (assuming you remain intact) you still have work to do on Monday. That's how you look at the Post editorial and their editors. It's a very small firecracker in a very large fireworks show and one editorial doth not unringeth the bell. But it remains a hopeful sign.

I hope that the conclusion of the editorial is truly the case. That is we are over stumbling over ourselves and will do everything as a community to see that the re-opening of this fine, historic hotel will happen. We will finally be able to welcome tourists into our city and let them see what a wonderful place Lake Worth is.

Enjoy your weekend!

*This will be the subject of a post later on this blog.

Due to inclement weather the Evening of the Avenue and the Tree Lighting Ceremony are cancelled tonight

There are many other holiday events lined up so don't be sad boys and girls:
If you have any questions contact Juan Ruiz, Lake Worth's Director of Leisure Services at 561-586-0361 or send an email. And here is breaking news from Santa:

Did 4 people get rushed to the hospital after vehicle crash into tree in Lake Worth last Tuesday? No. But WPTV thinks it happened

Here is my review of TV news coverage in and surrounding the little 6 square mile City of Lake Worth. It's not easy understanding municipal boundaries in central Palm Beach County and even the best TV news, NBC5/WPTV, gets it wrong from time to time. Take this recent news from WPTV:
     Four people were rushed to the hospital after a vehicle crashed into a tree in Lake Worth Tuesday evening.
     The accident happened at 8:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Checkers at Military Trail and Hypoluxo Road.
     No more information is available at this time.
This is about 5–6 miles outside the City limits of Lake Worth west of Lantana. Oooops.
Image from Google Maps. Read more about this situation and the confusion it creates with the public.

From Emon Reiser: "Palm Beach County Convention Center hotel to open Jan. 27"

Emon Reiser is a reporter for the South Florida Business Journal, one of the best sources for business news in south Florida. Here is the latest on the convention center in West Palm Beach:
     Hilton West Palm Beach's long-awaited delivery will provide Palm Beach County with a edge to attract lucrative corporate meetings to the region.
     "We are finally able to target conventions that typically have 400-800 rooms on peak night that we can accommodate in the downtown Convention District, which now offers over 1,000 hotel rooms that are walkable to the convention center," said Steve Crist, associate vice president of meeting and convention sales at Discover Palm Beaches, the tourism bureau of Palm Beach County.
     Corporate meeting and conventions had an approximate economic impact of $95 million in Palm Beach County for the year ended Sept. 30, he added.
And here is a holiday message from our friends at Discover the Palm Beaches:
Planning a Florida vacation? Consider Lake Worth, FL immediately to the south of West Palm Beach just across the canal. What we lack in hotel rooms we make up in other ways. You might not get a room but we're still worth a day on your itinerary.

Today (12/4) is last day of "Week of Resistance" in Palm Beach Gardens against biotech machine and potentially great biotech news for arthritis sufferers

You can read about the "Week of Resistance" against the biotech machine here and about Peter "Panagioti" Tsolkas' show at the Lake Worth Playhouse tomorrow night (12/5) using this link. We can only hope that Mr. Tsolkas, Cara Jennings, and the rest of the merry crew at Everglades EarthFirst! (EEF!) don't stoop so low as to use the tragedy of Corey Jones' killing to further their cause. The family and supporters of Corey Jones deserve better than to have their message, like body cameras for all police officers and a peaceful community, stolen by EEF! for their own lagging message. But Anarchists do what Anarchists do.

Anyhow, here is some potentially great biotech news for the millions of arthritis sufferers in the U.S. and around the world. You could subtitle the article by Jeff Ostrowski at the Post "A Primer: How to turn lemons into lemonade". Here are two excerpts:
     A brush with mortality launched Dr. Gaetano Scuderi’s career as a biotech entrepreneur.
     Scuderi was a prosperous orthopedic surgeon when he wrecked his motorcycle in Miami-Dade County in 2001. As he merged onto Interstate 95 on his Ducati, Scuderi saw a motorcycle escort for a funeral procession blocking his path by standing on the on-ramp.
     “I could either hit him or lay the thing down,” Scuderi said. “I had no choice.”
     The accident left the surgeon with two broken hands. Unable to operate for nearly seven years, Scuderi turned his attention to Cytonics, a Jupiter-based company that markets treatments for arthritis.
[and. . .]
     Scuderi, 53, said he grew up poor in New York, a background that gives him empathy for patients who can’t afford the latest medical advances.
     In an attempt to persuade insurers to cover A2m [a protein known as alpha-2-macroglobulin] Cytonics is investing $3 million in a double-blind study in human patients. If the biotech company wins FDA approval, demand for the product could explode, Scuderi said.
 And so it goes.

Gareth Johnson's 'Parlor Series' Set for Cultural Council, 12/12

On Saturday evening, December 12, the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County will present a special edition of "The Parlor Series," the popular monthly concert series in Lake Worth that features virtuoso violinist Gareth Johnson and an eclectic roster of musical accompanists.

The December 12 performance, "A Classical Conquest at the Cultural Council," will feature Johnson and pianist Dr. Robin Arrigo. Johnson and Arrigo will perform the works of Sarasate, Kreisler and others at the Cultural Council's Robert M. Montgomery, Jr. building in downtown Lake Worth.

Doors open at 7 p.m., with performances and Q&A sessions beginning at 7:30 p.m. Characteristic of "The Parlor Series," the audience gets to ask questions about the composers, artists performing and compositions being played. Admission is $25; drinks and hors d'oeuvres are included. For tickets, please call (203) 339-5725 or email

Johnson, who travels the world as a soloist, master teacher, educator, dedicated composer and arranger of contemporary, classical, new age and hip-hop music, founded "The Parlor Series" to showcase and develop artistic talent. The program is a cultural fusion of musical genres featuring both emerging and world-renowned artists. In-the-know locals frequent this intimate series, which is growing in popularity as a platform for creative musical talent in The Palm Beaches.

Johnson was an inaugural member of the Cultural Council's Musician Services Program, a forum for musicians and groups who actively perform, produce or record in Palm Beach County. Musician member benefits range from networking and promotional opportunities to professional discounts. For details of the Musician Services program please visit this link

The "Evenings at the Council" series of after-hours musical events at the Cultural Council provides opportunities for local musicians to perform and gain exposure. The series includes Lobby Desk Concerts and Open Mic sessions on selected Friday evenings from September through April. Information about "Evenings at the Council" is available by clicking here. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Do you want to get used to "living in a ghetto" in Lake Worth?

Mr. Tom McGow, a chronicler of previous commissions in the City of Lake Worth, wrote this the very day after a City Commission meeting on September 1, 2009:
While listening to last night’s City Commission meeting from home I was appalled to hear Vice Mayor Golden state, “We all have to get used to change. Manny has to get used to living in a ghetto until things pick up around here.”, or words to that effect. She was referring to a resident who spoke earlier in the meeting citing the deterioration of his neighborhood.
Image of then-commissioner Jo-Ann Golden produced by the blogger-extraordinaire Tom McGow in 2009.

The SE Florida Regional Climate Compact in Key West and GLARING ERRORS about the "living shoreline" in Lake Worth

Here is the link to a Miami Herald article by Jenny Staletovich on the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact meeting in Key West this week. This coincided with the on-going United Nations Climate Change Conference which continues in Paris through December 11. Representatives from four south Florida counties (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe) were part of the south Florida gathering which included some reports of good news amidst "doom and gloom of climate change" from across the region. Lake Worth and Palm Beach County receive mentions albeit with glaring errors:
     Around the region, they [local, state and federal officials] said, advances are being made in the war on rising seas, and not just in Miami Beach where pumps have drawn national attention.
     In Fort Lauderdale, sea walls are being built higher. Palm Beach County teamed up with Lake Worth to replace a crumbling sea wall protecting a municipal golf course with a “living shoreline” inhabited by wildlife. And in Miami-Dade County, new wastewater facilities are being built up to 17 feet higher to fend off sea rise and storm surge.
First, there is no seawall "protecting" the City's golf course. That job is being done by mangroves, sea grass, and other natural processes. Second, I have no knowledge of a "crumbling sea wall" along our Intracoastal waterway. If it is crumbling it's news to me and I bet a lot of officials in Palm Beach County also. (Should warning signs be installed to protect the community?) And lastly, the "living shoreline" is at Bryant Park, south of the City's golf course. I wonder who supplied the reporter with all this false information?

In short, the "living shoreline" has nothing whatever to do with climate change or the rising sea level debate. That effort is about restoring the environment for native plants and animals such as birds. The City's municipal golf course floods from time to time and I've heard reports of golfers seeing schools of snook in large low-lying parts of the course. The golf course was originally designed for water run-off from western parts of Lake Worth and only later was in-fill added to create a golf course. And it's a wonderful course also.
Lake Worth City Manager Michael Bornstein and Mayor Pam Triolo hamming it up: City's golf course makes the news!
At the climate conference there was also a discussion of Everglades Restoration and how salt water alters the brackish and fresh water environment. It is my understanding that Lake Worth commissioners Maier and McVoy attended so we should be hearing about this at the next City Commission meeting on December 8th and at great length most likely.

Perhaps Commissioner McVoy can also explain why the City never properly inspected our beach seawall when the Casino was rebuilt and why the structure isn't on pilings, especially with the prospect of coastal erosion and any possible rise in sea level. And I'm certain many residents in Lake Worth living with insufficient street lighting and the lack of fire hydrants will be impressed with all the information these two commissioners bring back.

News from the Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches (and a trip down memory lane with my trusty euphonium)

Mary Godwin has information on the all-volunteer 55th Concert Season and a special concert on December 11th below. Also is contact information if you would like to learn more. Here are a few excerpts
     During the past year, the Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches awarded 58 instruments to 11 different schools for their Band & Orchestral music programs. In addition, the Band recently awarded $10,830 in school grants to help the band programs with some of their other needs.
     Lake Worth Middle School received 6 instruments and grant of $6,350 and North Grade Elementary received a $2,000 grant.
     Santa will be making delivery of additional musical instruments at the Band’s Holiday Party on Friday, Dec 11 at the Eissey Campus Theatre in Palm Beach Gardens.
I'd be curious to know if any of the instruments donated in Lake Worth was a euphonium? In fact, starting in middle school, through high school, college and afterwards, I played the euphonium. And up until about 15 years ago, I played with the Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches, the same group that is organizing this event. Back when the last renovation of the Bryant Park bandshell was completed, I played in this band that performed as part of its re-dedication ceremony. The group has a long standing reputation for supporting our local music program. Their concerts now take place at the Duncan Theater at Palm Beach State College.

Anyhow, here is more from Mary Godwin:
     The Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches is an all volunteer group of musicians dedicating to helping the musical youth of the community with scholarships, school grants and musical instruments. Thanks to the generous support of our patrons, the band’s donations to local students and music programs total $469,036 so far, and the number keeps growing.
     You can help by attending the concert and showing your support.
About the concert:
     The program showcases Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Fantasy and the 16th century English folksong, Greensleeves. In keeping with the season, traditional Christmas and Hanukkah music will be well represented in addition to the lively Hora from the Wedding Dance. 
Capture the spirit of the holidays! Tickets are $18. Call 561-832-3115 or online using this link. If you would like to learn more please email Mary Godwin.

From Brian Entin at NBC5/WPTV: PBSO "ready for an active shooter"

Here are two excerpts from the WPTV interview with PBSO Sheriff Bradshaw:
     "Our speciality units have trained in every environment. Schools. Buildings. Cars. Airplanes. Buses. Trains. Regardless of what the environment is they have to go into, they can handle it, [emphasis added" [Sheriff Ric] Bradshaw said.
     The training scenarios are as real as it gets.
     "What we learned many, many years ago with active shooters is the deputies and first responders have to take immediate action. They can't wait on special units. They have to get in there locate the shooters and neutralize them as fast as possible," Bradshaw said.
[and. . .]
     The sheriff's office also assists other agencies like school police with active shooter training.
Check back here tomorrow for The Palm Beach Post article on PBSO's preparation for San Bernardino-like situations. Palm Beach County residents will be comfortable knowing this information and the Post, of course, will do their best to get the word out to quell fear in the community.

Here is the video from the news segment at WPTV:

The City of Lake Worth introduces the "Lake Worth Power Tracker" for public to monitor electric outages

The City has an online "newsletter" available to the public and you can sign up to receive these using this link. The latest information from the City is a new way to track electric outages instead of the old way trying to reach someone at the utility by phone. Here is an excerpt from the latest City news:
The City is pleased to announce the launch of a new web-based application that will allow customers to track any lateral or higher power outages that may take place in the Lake Worth electric service area.* The beauty of the application—the Lake Worth Power Outage Tracker—is that consumers may access information via their phone, laptop or tablet. Bringing this new application to Lake Worth was tasked to Walt Gill, Assistant Director of Electric Utilities.
How does the program work?
  • Log into the City’s website
  • Click the link “Lake Worth Power Tracker” in the left side column
  • Click on the appropriate “Power Outage Area”†it will be highlighted
Excellent work Lake Worth electric utility!
*Power outages that involve 8–10 customers (or fewer) will be provided personal assistance.
†During an electric outage you'll still be able to cook if your home utilizes clean, affordable, and stable natural gas.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Press Release from the Lake Worth CRA and the City's Electric Utilities Director

Joan Oliva, the Lake Worth CRA Executive Director and Jack Borsch, the City's Electric Utilities Director have this news about lighting in the Royal Poinciana neighborhood.

Broadly, this is about the recent City partnership with Siemens Corporation and NeighborWorks America to make the City safer at night for many residents. You'll be hearing much more in the future about this important project:
For more information email Joan Oliva, Jack Borsch, or the CRA's Chris Dabros.

Contest in Lake Worth! Closest to correct answer wins BIG! Prize cannot be disclosed to prevent hysteria

You may or not be aware there may or may not be another newspaper coming to Lake Worth this month. The speculation is the serial 'journalist/editor' Margaret Menge is at it again with more election leadup monkeywrenching. But who knows for sure. The people behind this effort are being very hush-hush which sort of defeats the purpose of a legitimate business, doesn't it?

A panel of Lake Worth's finest (secret for now) will determine who is closest to winning this contest from the five categories below. . .
  1. Pick the day of week the paper makes its splash (Friday?)
  2. What is the paper called? (for example, The Tribune Redux, The Hazy Sun, The Weekly Shock?)
  3. The publisher is from where? Pick one: Lake Worth, Atlantis, or Nowhere (News For Hire).
  4. Choose how many times these words are used in the first edition: "Shock", "shocked", and "pitch".
  5. And lastly, how many ads will appear for a coffee shop/church: don't hesitate to aim high.
Write down your answer and seal it in an envelope. You're on the honor system so keep it fair!

Here's my answers: 
  1. Friday.
  2. The Lake Worth Blot.
  3. Atlantis.
  4. Shock: 19. Shocked: 52. Pitch: 68.
  5. 7, including one full-page ad with color.

Lulu to the Rescue

If anyone can think of a better title please let me know. Learn more about The Palm Beach Post breaking news reporter Lulu Ramadan and her news about the power outage in Lake Worth yesterday is below. CBS12/WPEC made another mess of the news which is anything but news. My heart goes out to anyone in the City who saw this Tweet from yesterday and became unnerved that the City population had doubled so quickly:
Hey, is that the NBC5/WPTV helicopter? Nice shot!
This power outage isn't on my A-list of priorities but if there's further information please feel free to comment below. What I heard is a pole was hit on Worthmore Drive and the power went out. The Utility Dept. fixed the problem and the whole world took a deep sigh of relief.

Lake Worth Utility is not to be confused with "Lake Worth". The City has about 37,000 residents or so. The electric utility also supplies power to areas outside the City such as parts of Lake Clarke Shores and unincorporated county, referred to as suburban Lake Worth. I'm not sure of the total number of customers but if anyone has number you can send that information to me. 

Here is the news from the Post today:
More than 7,000 homes in the north end of the city are without power after a massive outage just after 2 p.m. Tuesday, Lake Worth Electric Utilities reports.
     The outage is affecting homes east of Interstate 95 and north of 10th Avenue North, as well as homes north of Palm Beach State College, according to the power company’s utility tracker. The company reports 7,380 homes without power as of 3 p.m.
     Power is expected to be restored by 5 p.m.
I could go on and on about CBS12 and others like ABC25/WPBF but what's the point? Here is my review of the TV news outlets that cover Lake Worth and surrounding areas. The sad reality is the damage they do to journalism and reporting hurts the entire industry not to mention those who rely on them for accurate reporting.

What's even more frustrating is the City's inability or laziness and not stepping up to correct inaccurate news reports. What's the point of 'rebranding' the City if so many in the news media are confusing the public on where the City is?

What Palm Beach County needs is an ombudsman of some sort to correct the media when they get the facts wrong. As it is right now, for the most part, they police themselves and it's about time a sheriff came to the county and cleaned things up. NBC5/WPTV is doing a good job getting things right in Lake Worth and would highly recommend you make them the one to turn to for news.
Read about what is and what is not the City of Lake Worth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The AIDS Memorial Quilt in Lake Worth, Florida: A impressive exhibit you'll never forget

Here is a short video of the exhibit and what you can expect to see when you go:
The Post reporter Kevin Thompson has this article that will appear in the print edition some day soon. Gay, straight, whatever your personal views or beliefs this exhibit is impressive. You'll see quilts like these:
The quilts are memories of the deceased. Some you will remember and they're all personal and moving.
How big an impact did Freddie Mercury have on American culture? This one single video is up to 182 million views.
Here are two excerpts from the article in the Post:
     For the past ten years, the nonprofit Compass Community Center has displayed colorful panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a 54-ton, handmade tapestry that serves as a tribute to the more than 94,000 individuals who died from the disease — and to those who are prospering despite having it.
     The Nobel-Prize-nominated piece of folk art, created in 1987 by a group of strangers [emphasis added], will be on display Dec. 1-11 at the LGBT center on North Dixie Highway.
     “This quilt means something different to everyone,” said Ryanmarie Rice, Compass’ chief of staff. “It’s deeply personal and is hard to put into words.”
[and. . .]
     “You’re surrounded by the quilt,” Rice said. “It’s a full sensory experience.”
     As for the entire quilt, more than 48,000 individual 3-by-6-foot memorial panels have been sewn together by friends, lovers and family members. The quilt was initially displayed in October 1987 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, covering a space larger than a football field.
The Compass Center is located at 201 N. Dixie Hwy. in Lake Worth, directly across the street from the Publix downtown. Call 561-533-9699 or email for more information. No reservation is required. Just walk in the front door and the display room is to your right past the welcome desk. You won't regret making the choice to see this exhibit. The last day is December 11th.

East meets West: Florida Governor Haydon Burns and the Cross Florida Barge Canal

Video from Florida Memory: State Library and Archives of Florida. Here is Gov. Haydon Burns' page on Wikipedia.

As if the 7th Annual Climate Summit in Key West didn't have enough to deal with

The message of climate change and rising sea levels is a moving target and a quick one at that. On any given day the focus can change as Evan Halper at the Los Angeles Times explains. Here is an excerpt:
      As world leaders convene in Paris this week to confront the long-term threat of global warming, the fact that their talks are taking place in a city still recovering from a deadly terrorist attack has amped up a long-running debate about how much climate change contributes to extremist violence. [emphasis added]
     The question is playing prominently in the U.S. presidential race. The bitter disagreement it has spawned underscores the challenge climate activists face in selling their broader message to the public.
     Activists consider climate change an existential crisis that demands immediate attention. But its link to any specific occurrence, whether an individual storm or an act of terrorism, is tough to pin down. That makes the activists' case harder to sell to the public.
In this blog post addressed what I think contributes to the public confusion on this issue of climate change. (And, no, I'm not a denier. My position is I don't have the answers.) The Monroe County Commission is considering doing a study on the feasibility of adding monorail along the Keys which will undoubtedly be a huge infrastructure project. If sea levels are rising shouldn't the message be to discourage massive projects like this? Especially in very low-lying areas like the Keys?

The confusion increases when you have scientists who do lectures for the public on climate change doing things like this:
"McVoy" is Lake Worth Commissioner Chris McVoy who is at the Climate Summit in Key West this week. The Casino building next to the Atlantic Ocean wasn't constructed with pilings.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Everglades EarthFirst! (EEF!) disrespecting the wishes of a family who lost a young man in a senseless tragedy

The family of Corey Jones has been very clear what their wishes are and they've done an incredibly good job at controlling their message. However, Anarchists like Peter "Panagioti" Tsolkas couldn't care less what the family wants. Anything that can be exploited to further their objectives is fair game. Here is the latest from Peter "Panagioti" Tsolkas of EEF! and the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition:
In an illogical rant Mr. Tsolkas tries to link these together: the death of Corey Jones, "corporate cancer clusters" in the Acreage, a "forest" in Palm Beach Gardens, endangered species, and so much more and writes, "It is critical that environmental activists nationwide to make these connections" and that the "society we live in must recognize these connections to grow stronger."

This week Mr. Tsolkas, Cara Jennings, and the rest of the gang at EEF! are in Palm Beach Gardens for their "Week of Resistance". On December 5th at 8:00 p.m. they're bringing their show back to town for a performance of "The Ecology of the Police State" at the Stonzek Theater in downtown Lake Worth.

Although EEF! is headquartered in Lake Worth they by no means represent the people of the City. And anyone familiar with their antics over the years knows full well they have no interest in helping our City "grow stronger". Anarchists are about tearing down society, not building or helping society to improve.

At their show at the Stonzek Theater this coming Saturday Mr. Tsolkas writes this on the admission cost: "$5 - $10 donation at the door (no one turned away)". This would seem a wonderful opportunity for some creative City residents to make some signs or come up with a chant to greet the crew when they arrive. Something like "EarthFirst doesn't speak for me/Go away and leave my City be". And note that everyone is welcome.

Thank you, Matt Morgan, for the splendid article on Lake Worth and Thanksgiving Day

The article by Matt Morgan slipped my mind and it certainly deserves attention. This is about the Interfaith church service in Lake Worth on Thanksgiving Day that was very well attended. Ted Brownstein as well as many others have worked hard to make this effort a big success and you can read about that here. Here are two excerpts:
     Members of more than a dozen faiths packed the First Congregational Church in Lake Worth on Thursday for something different than the average Thanksgiving church service.
     The Lake Worth Interfaith Network conducted its 11th annual event to bring people to all regions together to worship.
     Christians, Muslims, Quakers and Native Americans joined with people of several other traditions to sing songs and speak of their own religious practices.
     Though they don’t agree on everything, the spirit of Thanksgiving transcends single religions.
[and. . .]
     “All religions, we all, have traditions of being thankful,” said Labeed Choudhry, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He said he’s thankful that he was able to come to the United States 22 years ago.

From the City of Lake Worth to our friends in the Town of Jupiter: Are you missing one of your clowns?

At the end of this post are instructions on how to write a Letter to the Editor to the Post. To say it was a banner year for stupid letters is an understatement. The letters from Lake Worth were especially cringe-worthy.

This letter that appeared today (11/30) titled, "How does one exit lot without backing?" from a fellow in Jupiter indicates just how starved for content the Post editors are for letters:
     I think it is very commendable that Lake Worth is taking a proactive stance in the interest of the safety of their beach-goers and posting “No backing” signs in the beach parking lots.
     My only concern is that I have had to abandon my car in one of their lots because of not being able to figure out how to get it out of the parking space without backing up.
Maybe Lake Worth should send our own "Weetha Peebull" to Jupiter on a cultural mission. She can return the poor fella's car as a favor. Anyhow, enough of this frivolity, here is how you get a letter published in the Post:

Send a letter to the editor: (Letters are subject to editing and must include the writer’s name, address, e-mail address and daytime phone number. Preferred length is a maximum of 200 words.)

From Vox: What has Bill Gates worried? Not low-probability asteroids, earthquakes, or volcanoes

Bill Gates is worried about a possible pandemic and how quickly it would spread in our modern, fast moving transportation network.

Below is a video by the U.S. Dept. of HHS. Note that 5 times as many Americans died from the 1918/1919 flu pandemic than died fighting in the First World War.

Case remains unsolved in Lake Worth: Family needs help to solve the murder of Woodley Erilas

Image from the WPTV news segment with picture of Woodley Erilas.
NBC5/WPTV's Jacqulyn Powell has this news segment about the family and friends of Woodley Erilas. They are looking for information to help solve his murder. Here is an excerpt from the text of the news segment:
     His sister says her family won’t rest until detectives find the person who is responsible for his death.
     "He accepted everybody,” Vanesa Erilas says. “He looked at the bright side of every situation, and for him to leave the earth this way is heartbreaking."
     Anyone with information about Woodley Erilas’s death is asked to call Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS.

Is eating kale making you seriously sick? And cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and collard greens too?

And it doesn't matter if it's organic or not. Check out this news at Delish:
     Kale is heralded for its ample supplies of calcium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin K, and various healthful phytochemicals and anti-oxidants. But the superfood is hiding a nasty secret: dangerous levels of heavy metals.
     In a recent study, molecular biologist Ernie Hubbard found that kale—along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and collard greens—is a hyper-accumulator of heavy metals like thallium and cesium. What's more, traces of nickel, lead, cadmium, aluminum, and arsenic are also common in greens, and this contamination affected both organic and standard produce samples.
     The source? Its soil. "If it's left in the ground, the leafy greens are going to take it up," Hubbard told Craftmanship magazine.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The difference between a statement of "public purpose" and a "pitch", the trivializing of the land use regulatory process in Lake Worth, and so much more

Our current beat reporter from The Palm Beach Post, or one of his editors, uses the word "pitch" in describing a zoning/land use attorney's presentation before the Lake Worth Historic Resource Preservation Board (HRPB) on November 18th. You can watch attorney Bonnie Miskel's presentation for yourself here. Wikipedia defines the word "pitch" in this manner, related to a trip in an elevator (refer to the link for footnotes):
     An elevator pitch, elevator speech or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a process, product, service, organization, or event and its value proposition.
     The name 'elevator pitch' reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes and is widely credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso (while he was editor for Vanity Fair) for its origin.
To reduce a justification of a zoning change to calling it a "pitch" trivializes the land use regulatory process. It also assumes that the entity who is the target of the pitch, the HRPB, are just a group of unsuspecting people that are being sold something. That something, you see, wouldn't have been on their radar were it not for the person standing in front of them giving the "pitch." I use the word pitch now and then to make a point and note that it's not used in the most flattering of ways.

If you own a piece of real property (land) it is your right to petition for a rezoning of that land. This is a common practice that happens all the time across our great state and nation. There is a lot that goes into an analysis of whether a rezoning would be consistent with a city's Comprehensive Plan and whether or not it would be considered "spot zoning". Again, from Wikipedia, this is part of what goes into the analysis of a rezoning request (refer to link for footnotes and references):
     Spot zoning is the application of zoning to a specific parcel or parcels of land within a larger zoned area when the rezoning is usually at odds with a city's master plan and current zoning restrictions. Spot zoning may be ruled invalid as an "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable treatment" of a limited parcel of land by a local zoning ordinance. While zoning regulates the land use in whole districts, spot zoning makes unjustified exceptions for a parcel or parcels within a district. The small size of the parcel is not the sole defining characteristic of a spot zone. Rather, the defining characteristic is the narrowness and unjustified nature of the benefit to the particular property owner, to the detriment of a general land use plan or public goals. 
     For example, a small zone allowing limited commercial uses such as a corner store within a residential area may not be a spot zone, but a carve-out for an industrial use or a night club might be considered a case of spot zoning. In the first case, the differing land uses are mutually compatible and supportive. In the latter case, the residential nature of the area would be harmed by a conflicting land use. When the change in zoning does not advance a general public purpose in land use, courts may rule certain instances of spot zoning as illegal.
So, in order to be a valid request and one worth considering, a rezoning request must advance a public purpose that is greater than any potential impact and the possible granting of such a request to the property owner. In her presentation before the HRPB, Bonnie Miskel, Esq. talked for approximately 27 minutes about this zoning requestmuch longer than an elevator ride. She emphasized how the rezoning request was consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. There are also characteristics of the property, its history and the surrounding built environment, which she explained make such a rezoning both compatible with the area and also one that furthers a public purpose.

Note that the "dollars and cents" referenced in the Post article was a small part of the larger presentation and was only mentioned towards the end.

What is that public purpose you ask? That public purpose is the City's need to have an active and vibrant hotel on one of its main downtown streets that's next to a large waterfront park for tourists and visitors. There are no more prime locations than the one occupied by the Gulf Stream hotel. And that structure at this prominent location is on the National Register of Historic Places. Beyond the use of this building as a hotel, both the building and property have played important roles in the history of our city and region. It has had a troubled past, being closed eight of its first ten years of existence as a result of the Great Depression and damage done by the hurricane of 1928. It has been closed for the past ten years, mostly under other ownership, and is not serving its intended purpose for the community.

What led to its current closure are a series of events which developed over a long period of time. One of those, from the early 1970s onward, is the combination of changing needs and desires of tourists, visitors, and business travelers that made the hotel not competitive in the market and unable to be an economic success. Remember, the hotel was originally built to accommodate visitors arriving by train, well before the domination of the automobile. Another reason is the small room sizes compared to newer tourist destinations and venues. To address this room sizes in the existing hotel need to be made larger.
Original floor plan of the Gulf Stream Hotel. 
Larger rooms mean a smaller room count in the historic hotelin order to maintain its established footprint that would mean going from the original 130 to around 87 according to the presentation given at the HRPB. We also learned that a hotel with that number of rooms isn't economically desirable to hoteliers in this day and age and that additional rooms are needed, along with other hospitality amenities like conference rooms and ample/accessible parking spaces. What is very compelling is that these changes will fix the property's current economic obsolescence and also boost the City's downtown which has lagged due to a structure that is now serving no public purpose at all. That, ladies and gentlemen, is further proof that a broader public purpose exists beyond the interests of any particular property owner.

What we need to hear from our leaders is why a functioning, historic hotel in Lake Worth's downtown hotel is a compelling public purpose. It is one that goes far beyond past, current or any future owner(s) of the property. In the end this property is emblematic of Lake Worth. As its fate rises and falls, so does the City's. In my experience this case is one of the more obvious cases where this public purpose exists.

Faced with such a compelling public purpose, many local governments choose to originate their own rezoning of a property. This would have been what is called a "city-initiated" request and it would have been entirely appropriate to handle this process in such a manner. Doing so would underscore how the public would benefit from the rezoning. It is already consistent with the City's future land use map in its Comprehensive Plan. In many ways it can be seen as addressing an apparent inconsistency.

For that to have happened we would have had to hear this public purpose being enunciated from our City leadership, its staff and elected officials. To a large degree, we have not heard this and it places the onus on making the case on the current owner of the property. The property owner gets the slings and arrows which is just fine with politicians but that's not leadership. It's time to change this going forward. I am hopeful that when this request appears before the City Commission we will hear more about the public purpose behind this proposal and that The Palm Beach Post takes a more professional approach to this very serious matter before the City.

On the last point I don't have much hope we'll ever see much better from the Post. If the past election cycle is any indication we're certain to see many more "pitches" to come, especially from their editorial board.

What was that "#BlackFridayParking" thing all about? Good question

A very short answer: I direct you to Jesse Bailey and his blog Walkable West Palm Beach who explains the reason for #BlackFridayParking quite well. This is an excerpt:
If you’re looking for something more constructive to do on Black Friday than the typical big box consumerism binge, join us for Black Friday Parking. It’s a nationwide effort to call attention to the destructive nature of minimum parking requirements. These requirements hurt small businesses by raising the barrier to entry. They favor the large big box model, hurting our municipal finances, and spreading out our land use pattern to further subsidize driving at the expense of other modes.
Donald Shoup and his book, “The High Cost of Free Parking” is mentioned in the blog post and would strongly encourage you to read more about that.

The City of Lake Worth also has many issues when it comes to parking. Parking at the Lake Worth Casino, for instance, isn't free as opposed to most of the parking in the downtown but the Casino has it's own unique set of problems. It was designed for "peak parking" and this is how the lower western lot looks like most of the time:
But it has to be this way, right? To accommodate the peak parking requirements of beach-goers? No. The organizers of the Street Painting Festival last year solved this problem by having visitors park at Palm Beach State College and the Tri-Rail station and it worked out quite well. How well? They're employing a new and improved version for next years festival in February. Stay tuned.

Airbnb, eco-tourism, hipster cred, and shipping containers: What they all have in common

Jeff Ostrowski at the Post has this interesting article about retired shipping containers getting re-purposed. These containers, if you didn't know, are those large containers that get placed on tractor trailers and trains for distribution of commodities, products, etc. throughout the country. You'll also see these containers used by companies for storage, temporary and permanent, on back lots and work sites.

As you'll read in the article three of these containers were purchased (for $3,000 each) and made into an Airbnb rental, an amazingly creative idea. But before you get all excited check the zoning code first before diving ahead. More likely than not this type of structure is prohibited where you live. For instance, you couldn't build this in Lake Worth or most other cities in the county. 

Here is an excerpt from the article:
In a feat he calls a first for Palm Beach County, Jupiter entrepreneur Rick Clegg has built a house from old shipping containers.
     The utilitarian structure in Jupiter Farms [see the rental unit on Airbnb], located just across the Loxahatchee River from Riverbend Park, is a vacation rental for ecotourists.
     Containers, a symbol of consumer culture and global trade, have gained hipster cred [defined below] as an alternative building material.
     “I like the compactness, the low carbon footprint, the simplicity of it,” Clegg said.
Read more about Rick Clegg and see more pictures of his Retreat On The Loxahatchee River. Unsure what a "hipster" is? I do my best to define that term here.

West Palm Beach and the roll-out of their new eco-friendly bucket trucks

One of these days check out the city of West Palm Beach's Newsroom. The city of Lake Worth has something similar with their Worth Noting Newsletter which you can sign up for here if you haven't already. What's interesting about West Palm's approach is when you click on the Newsroom tab on the website you have many choices to find out what is happening all in one place: Headlines, City Administration, CRA, Events, Parks and Recreation, and others.

At the bottom of the list is this, West Palm TV:
Now, about that new eco-friendly bucket truck West Palm is rolling out:
(West Palm Beach, FL) – In its latest move to practice what it preaches in leading efforts to make government more environmentally responsible, the City of West Palm Beach has started replacing its fleet of maintenance bucket trucks with new, eco-friendly hybrid bucket trucks.
     Unlike older trucks that require the diesel engine to idle all day while the bucket is being used, new trucks use electricity and don’t require the engine to run at all while in use. You can shut down the engine as soon as you get to where you need to go, and operate the bucket using electricity.
West Palm Beach, like Lake Worth, is also on Twitter. Both cities do a good job of keeping the community informed of current events: