Friday, August 24, 2018

Crime in the City of Lake Worth, about PBSO, and a short story about a man named Jeff Clemens.

This coming Sunday, March 26th, will mark the ten-year anniversary since PBSO took over control of law enforcement in this City of Lake Worth.

Some of you may be wondering:

“What happened that Lake Worth’s former police department was merged with PBSO?”

For the answer to that, here is the first image about crime in 2007. Two more follow below.

The numbers you’ll see below will surprise or maybe even disturb some of you. But possibly you’ll come to better understand, in context, how much has been accomplished since August 2008.

Below are statistics published in 2007 of crime rates in the City of Lake Worth during the previous year. Remember, this is before PBSO took over policing the City. It’s alarming to think about what many of us lived through ‘back in the day’. However, after the merge between PBSO and LWPD some thought a year or so later it might be a good idea to go back to our having our own police department. Read more about that below as well. Then you decide if that would have been a good idea.

But imagine for a moment we had gone back to having our own PD because, in some people’s minds, it was ‘charming’ and ‘quaint’ as well? We would then be free to make even more cuts in public safety regardless of the impact of crime on our resident and visitor population.

Crime numbers from 2007:

The high crime rate was one of the primary reasons our property values plunged so deeply during the Great Recession.

More crime numbers from 2007:

Note the homicide clearance rate.
Not very ‘charming’ is it?

Back in 2007 when crime was at its worst here in the City of Lake Worth reporter Patrick Parrish at The Lake Worth Herald wrote, “According to Mayor Jeff Clemens, the city is at least 10 officers short of the same time in 1997, a significant number when translated into street presence.”

Another former commissioner, JoAnn Golden, quoted in the same 2007 article said, “I can understand [Commissioner Cara] Jennings’ concern on civil rights, but we have allowed gangs to get ahead of us.”

Then in August 2008 then-Mayor Clemens had to make one of the hardest political decisions ever in his political career, to disband the Lake Worth PD and have PBSO take over law enforcement in this City.

On August 26th, 2008, then-Mayor Clemens

Even after the agreement was signed some still maintained we were better off having our own PD. That is until the public had their chance to speak.  

Some long-time residents of this City will remember this gem, the former city manager (Susan Stanton) and a former commissioner (Suzanne Mulvehill) in full retreat after trying to end the PBSO contract in May 2011:

At the 6:15 mark in this video, Yours Truly asks Stanton two questions, both of which she avoided answering:

As to the future, can the City of Lake Worth ever get it’s own police department back? It’s possible and maybe a future City Commission will consider that possibility. But before that happens a few more things will have to change in this City. And we’ll have to be certain that the same people who got us into such a terrible mess ten years ago can never, ever reclaim control of this City ever again.

For example:

So. Do you think PBSO deputies are “Worthless”?

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Sunshine Law and a popular public Italian dish, baked ziti. Delizioso!

Learn more about the infamous baked ziti incident at Lake Worth City Hall below. But first. . .


Plus two very informative videos below.

One of the ways troublemakers and malcontents try to shake public confidence in City government and elected officials is to plant the seed of wrongdoing, e.g., just suggest a “Sunshine Law” violation, not even an actual allegation. Say things like, “commissioner so-and-so was spotted with commissioner so-and-so over lunch at such-and-such restaurant”.

There is nothing wrong with elected officials having lunch together. Or talking. Or acting like a regular human being in general. But there are rules for electeds (explained in the first video below).

If you ever hear an electeds name mentioned and the Sunshine Law cited, it’s very important to know what the law is and what it’s intended to do — and just as importantlywhat the law does not cover and is not intended to do.

Lake Worth City Attorney Glen Torcivia gave an excellent summation of the Sunshine Law several years back. This was around the time of the infamous “Baked Ziti incident” at Lake Worth City Hall and shortly thereafter when a former Lake Worth commissioner went ‘prowling’ for a Sunshine Law violation at a BBQ in Sunset Ridge Park. . . and yes indeed! If you wanted, there was also a side dish of delicious baked ziti available that day.

The video below is highly-recommended viewing for anyone interested in learning more about this subject from the City of Lake Worth’s long-time and well-respected city attorney:

Glen J. Torcivia, “Serving Florida clients
for over 25 years”:

The political theater of “Sunshine Law Violation!, or “Wag the Dog” tactics to manipulate the public aren’t new by any means.

At Sunset Ridge Park in 2016. . .
A former Lake Worth commissioner prowling
for a Sunshine Law violation:

Sadly however, there remain some in the public left ‘scratching their heads’ when allegations of Sunshine Law violations are alleged and misunderstand or are confused about all the political theatrics and about what is actually happening.

So please take the time and watch the video of “The Florida Sunshine Law” explained by City Attorney Glen Torcivia, if you haven’t done so already, and share it with your neighbors, friends, and family.

And if you happen to know anyone in the press or news media — share it with them too — just as a refresher.

As the Lake Worth Electric Utility moves forward into the future, let’s take a short stroll back to December 2005. . .

Two headlines in the Lake Worth Herald from twelve years ago (see newspaper clipping below):

“Reps Looking At LW Utility”

and. . .

“Utilities Under Gun In PS”

And one of those “Reps” from “PS” (the Village of Palm Springs) was a former planning, building and zoning official from the Village of Palm Springs who later became a State Representative named Susan Bucher. Another elected official “peering over the city commission’s shoulder” was former County Commissioner Shelley Vana and former State Rep. Mary Brandenburg was encouraging a “Blue Ribbon panel” as well.

Remember. In 2006 “The Best Commission Ever!
(or just BCE! for short) took control of City Hall.
And then things continued downhill from there.

 Click on newspaper clippings from 2005 to enlarge.

News from December 2005 continues. . .

“While Vana plans to meet with Palm Springs residents and leaders . . .

. . . to consider ways to resist Lake Worth’s financial burden and faulty facilities she, as a member of the Florida Public Services Committee (PSC), will also scrutinize FP&L’s performance.

Power Games

     This will be her second stint on the PSC. Political vagaries and committee shuffling re-routed her away from her oversight position during the most recent legislative sessions.      But Rep. Bucher’s elephantine memory, as a former Palm Springs Planning, Building and Zoning inspector and as an aide to the late Rep. Ed Healey – prior to filling his seat – knows where Lake Worth derailed.
     “It’s all about revenue.”


     Bucher said Lake Worth’s power company was the source of income tapped to fund projects over the years, including surcharges to “outsiders.”
     That’s a common practice,” she said.
     The Village of Palm Springs also charges satellite communities from the Palm Beach County School Board headquarters to residences in unincorporated areas.
     But Bucher believes most Lake Worth residents were unaware of an inadequately funded maintenance and replacement program within the worn and obsolete infrastructure.

Life & Death

     “Now they (citizens) know the results of those problems and need to pursue an inquiry into the health of the system and how to cure it.”
     She spared a dash of empathy with beleaguered commissioners whom, she said, claimed they had “inherited” a faulty system.
     The blue ribbon task force should be charged with careful examination of finances, maintenance records and careful study of the agreement between the city and the Florida Municipal Power Agency, she said.
     It’s unfortunate for them (commission) they have been encumbered by this (agreement) monstrosity. I applaud their action in appointing a blue ribbon panel – as long as it is more than a sound bite.”
     The agreement on one hand allowed the city to get approval for a bond allowing sorely-needed upgrading two years ago. On the other hand it has severe penalties for breach of agreement.
     While state authority and oversight of the practices employed by Lake Worth to operate, maintain and charge customers fees is limited, there are other aspects which could trigger state intervention.
     “As we all found out, again, there are two prime factors to survival and recovery. Water is essential. Power is next. Without power to maintain water pressure a ‘boil-water’ regimen occurs. If that continues, it creates a public health and safety problem calling for (outside) intervention,” Bucher said.
     She and other volunteers hauled water and ice to the upper floors of Lake Worth Towers during the days following Wilma’s destruction.
     “There were no elevators. There were no refrigerators. People were trapped. No water. Running out of food. Some with no way to keep their insulin cool – and nowhere to go.”
     Bucher said she hoped the normally vocal watchdogs of commission activities focus attention on major life-threatening problems for a while longer, until all the facts and figures are displayed.
     “They should be allowed to do a bit of chastising – then get down to finding out how to fix the problem. But unless the task force has some expertise they will need someone who can educate them on what they are examining.”
     However, a “toothless” review with no recommendations would serve no practical purpose, she said.


     “They need to come up with recommendations. This calls for a long-term solution, and maybe the reinstitution of an authority with oversight separate from the commission.”
     And if the city commission files and forgets any Blue Ribbon Report?
     “There’s always the ballot-box in March!”

End of Herald article.

Now we move from December 2005 to the year 2006 and beyond to what happened in 2011. . .

Remember The Best Commission Ever! (BCE!)?

A very revealing graphic is below from April 2014 (see “General Fund Revenues vs. Expenditures”), included in the back-up material at a City Commission Budget Work Session. For some perspective, Cara Jennings was elected in 2006 and JoAnn Golden in 2007, the two original members of The BCE!

In concert with The BCE! the former city manager, Susan Stanton, was hired in 2009.

But very briefly about “Visioning” in this City of Lake Worth is this recent blog post about code enforcement. Whilst our elected leaders were looking forward this year was a previous administration from back in 2009 looking on:

At the all-day Visioning Work Session held on July 24th, 2018 . . . note the framed photograph on the wall.

Click on image to enlarge:

The ‘Best Commission Ever!’ (aka, The BCE!) was the former 3-member band that ran the show, the majority consisting of self-described Anarchist Cara Jennings (District 2; standing next to American flag), JoAnn Golden (District 3, sitting), and then-District 4 Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill.

By the way for everyone wondering, also in the image above, the framed picture hanging on the wall at City Hall is former Mayor Jeff Clemens who ran and won election to the Florida House of Representatives in 2010. And the rest is history, as they say.

Former District 1 Commissioner Retha Lowe (standing, center) who often challenged the majority of The BCE! opted not to run for re-election in 2010 when a former commissioner (Scott Maxwell, 2001–2003) returned to the scene. The majority on The BCE! and Maxwell did not get along very well.

There remain some — fewer and fewer all the time — that still refer to the former majority of Jennings, Golden and Mulvehill as ‘The Best Commission Ever!’, a reckless reign, that three member band that stopped playing for good in 2011.

What actually occurred is spending went completely out of control. The City had tons of money to spend on ‘shiny objects’ but the Electric Utility continued to languish.

After what happened in 2009 it was left up to future elected officials to pick up all the shattered pieces of this City following the Great Recession.

Click on image to enlarge:

In 2009 there were twenty-eight municipalities in PBC. South Bay and Pahokee suffered the worst following the Great Recession. The third worst hit? The City of Lake Worth.

In 2011 Pam Triolo became the mayor and Andy Amoroso replaced Golden on the City Commission. They both joined Scott Maxwell who had been elected the year prior. One of the first things “The Three” did — the new majority of Triolo, Maxwell, and Amoroso — was fire Stanton. In April 2012 Michael Bornstein was hired to be the city manager.

So where are we now, 12+ years later?

Listen and watch for yourself. From August 7th, 2018: “Let me chime in, for the record, Ed Liberty, director of the utility. . .”

In conclusion. . .

So the next time you hear anyone talk about how great The BCE! was, well, now you know really what happened. And maybe take a few moments and wonder how much further ahead our City would be right now if a former administration hadn’t recklessly squandered so much money away back in 2009, acting like the year was 1999:

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

City Commission meeting last night: PBSO Update, proclamations and then Mr. Pinsky talks about Tallahassee.

The YouTube video is below of last night’s Lake Worth City Commission meeting.

Here are the three presentations at the beginning of the meeting (note minute marks):

  • The video starts off with the Quarterly PBSO Update by Cpt. Todd Baer at the four minute and thirty-five second mark.
  • From 20:50–23:15: Mayor Pam Triolo’s “Proclamation declaring August 31 as Overdose Awareness Day”.
  • And then until the 26:15 mark is “Proclamation declaring August 26 as Lineworker Appreciation Day” for the dedicated linemen from the Lake Worth Electric Utility.

And then later in the video comes along important political information. . .

Mr. Richard Pinsky (use this link for website) is the City’s eyes and ears in Tallahassee. His 30-minute presentation last night was about this City and “Discussion of 2019 Legislative Policy Issues and Requests”.

For all of you interested in politics this is very, very important information. Below are two slides from the City’s video last night presented by Mr. Pinsky. The State of Florida will be getting a new governor this year and. . .

A lot of changes are on the horizon.

Click on both images to enlarge:

Lot’s of new faces coming to Tallahassee.


Important dates:

To watch the entire legislative report to the City Commission it begins at the 1 hour and eighteen minute mark and ends at the 1:48 mark.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in our City of Lake Worth. The question is not: ‘To Ban or Not To Ban’.

Medical marijuana is already “out of the bag” as they say. Dispensaries already in operation (see below) are not affected in any way within the municipal limits of this City.

UPDATE: See below to learn about what happened at the City Commission meeting last night on First Reading of a newly proposed ordinance.

Local governments are still trying to figure all this out and so is the public. Many of the misconceptions about marijuana persist despite the evidence and all the supporters of medical marijuana can do is just shake their heads. What this issue needs is leadership on the state level and hopefully when our state senators and representatives go to Tallahassee the new governor of Florida will get the message. Or maybe not.

First, let’s make this very clear. This City has two medical marijuana dispensaries in operation (Knox Medical and Curaleaf ) and neither of them will be affected by “Ordinance No. 2018-12” (see below). These two dispensaries are completely legal and are here to stay. Further discussions and items at City boards and at the City Commission will only address future establishments and whether or not they will be permitted to open up any more marijuana dispensaries within the municipal limits.

In other words, that particular question is, “To Ban [future dispensaries] or Not To Ban [future dispensaries]”. 


At the City Commission meeting last night was this information from PBSO Cpt. Todd Baer, a “Marijuana Dispensary Update”:

  • PBSO recently toured both facilities [Knox & Curaleaf].
  • Zero criminal complaints at either facility.
  • Minimal calls for service at either facility.

The item on the agenda last night:

Item 12B. Ordinance No. 2018-12 — First Reading, banning Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Dispensing Facilities within the City of Lake Worth and setting the second reading and public hearing for September 13, 2018.

The discussion at the City Commission lasted about 45 minutes and was about 15 minutes too long. Eventually Commissioner Herman C. Robinson called the question and the vote was unanimous to end discussion. The vote on First Reading was 4-1 with Commissioner Omari voting no.

So unless something tremendously big happens Ordinance 2018-12 will pass next month. Probably another 4-1 vote. To watch the discussion for yourself from last night click on this link.

For more background on this topic continue reading. Did you know. . .

Amendment 2 in 2016 approving medical marijuana passed County-wide by nearly 75%. In our City of Lake Worth the result was 79.02%, the 3rd highest result in all of Palm Beach County.

The critics of Amendment 2 still contend lamely the vote in 2016 was just a majority. Wrong. It passed by a super-majority statewide, a much higher standard.

And critics here in this City opposed to a medical marijuana dispensary opening up on N. Dixie Hwy. across from an elementary charter school went silent last February after the facts were explained by Commissioner Hardy. By the way, that particular elementary school just happens to be next to a convenience store that sells cigarettes and beer and also down the street approximately 0.4 miles away (about 2000′) is a crematorium as well. But anyhow. . . 

Second Reading of Ordinance No. 2018-12 will be held on September 13th.

And earlier this year Commissioner Hardy said,

“This November you will have an opportunity to affect this debate.”

If the topic of medical marijuana is of interest to you, specifically what local governments can do and cannot do when it comes to regulating medical marijuana dispensaries let’s take a stroll back to last February when Hardy took an elementary charter school principal back to school. And it should be noted Hardy is a school teacher himself.

Specifically, on the topic of medical marijuana, where they can and where they cannot be located and a little about the upcoming elections and about the role of elected officials from Palm Beach County who are higher up the political ladder and are sent every now and then to a place up north called “Tallahassee”:

“This November you will have an opportunity to affect this debate. So if you care about it, here is not the place to be!

Quote. District 2 Commissioner Hardy, Feb. 20th, 2018, from the dais at the City Commission.

One could say the blog post below is one
“Worth” another look now.

And it’s “Worth Noting” that Hardy is not one to avoid a debate  — with anyone, any time, on any topic — just as long as it doesn’t interfere with his duties as an elected official and as a teacher during the day.

Debate is one thing. But insulting and/or trying to lecture Hardy on a topic he is well-schooled in, especially when he’s sitting in public on the dais at a Lake Worth City Commission meeting, well, that is something else entirely.

Many wondered afterwards how the public would respond to Hardy’s quite strong and forceful response to an elementary charter school principal.

But if the silence since then is any clue. . .

In the video below please pay particular attention to what Hardy says at the 28:45–31:50 mark. To say it hits hard is an understatement. The discussion about this agenda item last February at the City Commission begins at the 22:30 mark in the video below. At one point, the principal of an elementary charter school gets up to speak and Commissioner Hardy responds beginning at the 28:45 mark.

Keep in mind this video is from February this year:

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

TONIGHT: Special meeting of Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). See agenda below.

The regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the CRA was last Tuesday, August 14th.* And tonight (August 21st) is another meeting. The CRA meets at The HATCH located at 1121 Lucerne Ave. Meetings begin at 6:00 and are open to the public.

For public comment there is a three (3) minute limit. Please be nice and charming to CRA executives, staff and volunteer board members. Follow the rules and even say nice things if you feel like it.

There is only one (1) item on the agenda tonight:


To: Chair, Vice Chair and Members of the Board.
From: Joan C. Oliva, Executive Director.
Date: August 21, 2018.

Subject: Purchase of Privately Owned Property on South ‘M’ Street.


The acquisition of key pieces of property in and around the District allows the CRA to provide opportunities for private redevelopment efforts. As a CRA we are tasked with attracting both investment and people to our growing downtown region. An opportunity has arisen in an area that we have invested before, however, this particular assemblage allows for much needed growth and activity.

In November of last year, the CRA purchased 16 S. ‘L’ Street. This lot is adjacent to two other CRA owned parking lots. In July of this year, and in cooperation with the City, the CRA was able to also purchase 24, 26, 30 and 32 S. ‘L’ Street. In recent weeks, it came to Staff’s attention that 17 S. ‘M’ Street was for sale. We contacted our broker, Anderson and Carr, and discussed a strategy with them that would facilitate the purchase of not only 17 S. ‘M’ but 23 S. ‘M’ as well. By securing these two additional downtown parcels, the CRA would own 1.56 acres in the Downtown. This assembly would provide ample space for both a downtown parking garage and another development that could include downtown dwelling units. Maps of the aforementioned lots are included for your review as Exhibit “A”. Opinion of values provided by Anderson and Carr are also included as Exhibit “B”.

 While the addition of surface parking spaces in the downtown would be beneficial to the downtown, the addition of spaces and people living in downtown is what is needed to spur future growth. These additional units would provide customers to downtown and Dixie Highway businesses, contribute to the attraction of tenants in the currently empty downtown storefronts and spur future redevelopment of the downtown area.

The contracts for the properties, already reviewed by our attorney, David Tolces, are included for your review and consideration as Exhibit “C”. Although the exact cost breakdown, City versus CRA, for the purchase of these parcels is yet to be determined, funds for the purchase will come from both entities. The future use of these parcels will be determined by both the CRA and City, working in tandem, providing possibilities for the attraction of both private investment and public use.


Staff requests the Board approve the purchase of 17 and 23 South ‘M’ St. and authorize the Chair, Vice Chair and/or Director to sign all necessary documents relating to the sale.

End of Memorandum.

*To learn more about the CRA meeting held on August 14th and an interesting item about Wayfinding on the agenda and, “Due to unforeseen requirements from FDOT. . .”.

To look over this exhibit on the agenda click on this link to download.

Ibid. Latin. “[I]n the same book, chapter, page, etc., literally, in the aforementioned place.”

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Every Wednesday morning: “Coffee and Conversation” with Lake Worth Commissioner Herman C. Robinson.

The message from Commissioner Robinson:

I want to invite you to “Coffee and Conversation” at The Book Cellar bookstore in Downtown Lake Worth. This event will be held every Wednesday morning at 9:30. Come talk about the Casino property, roads, traffic, the weather. . .

Below are more details about Commissioner Robinson’s weekly event. But first, there is new news to report.

A bulletin was just issued by Florida correspondent Ron Hayes about The Book Cellar headlined, “Resurgence of the Local Bookstore”. To learn more about journalist Ron Hayes and his account about our impressive new bookstore in this vibrant City here are two excerpts from state correspondent Ron Hayes’ account:

On Oct. 6 [2017], Ms. Ayraud and two co-owners opened The Book Cellar, an actual independent neighborhood bookstore at the corner Lake Avenue and J Street in the heart of Lake Worth’s bustling downtown.

More from Hayes’ dispatch beginning with
a quote by Ms. Ayraud:

     “I was living in Miami and moved here [to City of Lake Worth] two years ago because of the small-town, funky atmosphere,” Ms. Ayraud explained on a recent Wednesday morning as one customer arrived to collect a title he’d ordered and others browsed the shelves.

In preparation for “Coffee and Conversation” at The Book Cellar what would you like to discuss? Maybe parking and traffic? Maybe talk about a new Palm Tran bus stop at the regional Lake Worth Beach?

Here is the view of the room at the Dixie Hwy. Multimodal Corridor Study at The Hatch:

Commissioner Herman C. Robinson (left) at the “Open Studio Charrette”, Section 3: Lake Worth, Lantana, Hypoluxo held last July with (L–R) Downtown resident Mr. Greg Rice, Lantana Mayor Dave Stewart, and Lake Worth Commissioner Scott Maxwell with charrette staff looking on.

Commissioner Robinson got dressed up for the Multimodal Corridor Study at The Hatch last July. Most of you will recognize Herman looking like this.

Click on image to enlarge:

Robinson is the appointed liaison to the City’s Recreation Advisory Board (RAB).

The staff liaison is Lauren Bennett. RAB meets the 3rd Wednesday of each month. For more details about RAB click on this link.

One of the displays at the Multimodal Corridor Charrette last July:

If you plan on attending the “Coffee and Conversation” with Commissioner Robinson at The Book Cellar prepare your question(s) ahead of time.

As always, Thank You for visiting today and hope you found this information helpful. Do you have a question for one or all members of the Lake Worth City Commission? Then click on this link for phone numbers and email addresses.

And when finishing off your conversation or end the email ask this question:

“What can I do to help?”

 Your City Commission: