Friday, February 1, 2019

Last Wednesday night. Cara Jennings showed up. So did Chris McVoy, PhD.

Do you remember who Cara Jennings is? Remember Dr. McVoy? Continue reading to find out.

More information follows about the public meeting at City Hall vis-à-vis FY2019–2020 CDBG funding. This will be explained in much more detail below. And also below are photos from last Wednesday night, a violation recently handed out to Yours Truly, and more information.

Briefly, the meeting on Wednesday was about,

[A]llocation of CDBG funding for Fiscal Year 2019–2020 has not yet been announced. It is estimated that it will comparable to the CDBG allocation of $294,477 that the City received for Fiscal Year 2018–2019.

CDBG  =  Community Development Block Grant funding.

Mr. Jerry Kelly is the City’s grants analyst and he ran the meeting and took copious notes. In about four weeks he will present his findings to the City. Any notion that Mr. Kelly ignored anyone or did not listen to everyone’s ideas and concerns is just hogwash.

Enough said about that.

Before moving on, would you like to see an example of CDBG funds put to work? Then sometime soon head on down to the Downtown and see why this completed project is receiving rave reviews.

In the big scheme of things these Federal funds will not transform the City of Lake Worth but it does most certainly help and makes an impact. And also interesting is how this money has suddenly drawn out this City’s past, notably Cara Jennings and Chris McVoy, PhD.

As noted yesterday, in many ways last Wednesday was about the “New Lake Worth” vs. “Old Lake Worth”.

The New Lake Worth began in 2011 when “The Three” took over City Hall. Those three are Mayor Pam Triolo, now Vice-Mayor Andy Amoroso and Commissioner Scott Maxwell. Then in 2012 Michael Bornstein was hired to be the city manager. Ever since 2011–2012 it’s been all about fixing the terrible policies and decisions by the prior administration which included Jennings and Jo-Ann Golden et al. One of the most grievous policies was gutting the code enforcement dept. which has been well-documented on this blog.

This public meeting was a “Public Input Meeting” for the FY2019–2020 CDBG program. Due to the City being under 50,000 in population (≈37,000 presently), this Federal money is distributed by a formula through Palm Beach County. All cities in PBC receive some sort of contribution from the program based upon population. The City of Lake Worth’s projected share for FY2019–2020 is $294,477. This is roughly the same amount, plus or minus a few thousand dollars, the City usually receives on an annual basis.

More information follows. But let’s pause briefly.

Also worth noting two weeks earlier, at a public meeting of the City Commission on January 15th, Yours Truly was given a violation.

Here it is.

An actual violation handed me from the PBC Tenants Union. Learn more about this group below.

True. I do use the phrase “the ‘G’ word” and like wearing whimsical hats and acting like a dork sometimes. But do take offense to the other perceived violations.

As far as Twitter goes. . .

A Tweet from last Wednesday night:

Now moving on.

It should be noted if the City does not use this funding it can be taken back by the County missing an opportunity to benefit low- and moderate-income persons, preventing or eliminating slum or blight and/or meeting an urgent community need. Those are the national objectives of the CDBG program.

Eligible activities to be funded by the program include acquisition of real property for a public purpose, demolition/clearance, infrastructure installation and improvements, historic preservation and code enforcement. It was the “code enforcement” activity which brought out that group which calls itself the Palm Beach County Tenants Union (PBCTU) which some believe does more to protect slumlords than tenants.

Let’s digress momentarily. We’ll get back to the PBCTU a little later.

Remember, this blog post is, “About last night. Cara Jennings showed up. And so did Chris McVoy, PhD”.

Jennings is the former commissioner in District 2 (2006–2010) followed by McVoy, PhD (2010–2017) (see photos below). Mr. Omari Hardy defeated McVoy in 2017. Hardy’s argument to the voters was Jennings and McVoy paid so much attention to what was happening outside District 2 that they both lost touch with what was actually happening in their own district. It was a very good argument. Hardy defeated the incumbent McVoy who has a PhD by the way. Defeating an incumbent is a very difficult thing to do and especially so for a political newcomer like Hardy.

Interestingly, both Commissioner Hardy and his challenger Cathy Turk were present at this meeting about CDBG funding. The City’s municipal elections will be held on March 12th.

The voters City-wide will elect the commissioner for District 2. And whoever gets elected will serve a three-year term. It’s worth noting there are four City Commission districts in this City, Districts 1–4. So expect the topic of CDBG funding to be a topic of debate in the District 4 race as well. District 4 Commissioner Herman C. Robinson was also in attendance (see photo below).

Let’s pause briefly one last time before we get back to PBCTU and more about CDBG.

Here are photos from last night.

Click on all photos to enlarge:

District 4 Commissioner Herman C. Robinson was in attendance (left; blue shirt and glasses) and also in attendance was a former commissioner, Chris McVoy, PhD (along back wall, to left of window).

A wide view of the room at 6:00.

The public was still filling the room.

Some of you will notice a few notable notables including Mr. javier Del Sol, a former mayoral candidate (on left; wearing sweater).

And in this view. . .

Another former commissioner from District 2, Cara Jennings (along back wall under TV screen).

And did you ever hear about the unused CDBG funds while Jennings was a commissioner? Maybe we’ll get to that at a later time if this CDBG issue becomes a major one. Hopefully it will not but time will tell.

Now more about the PBC Tenants Union.

Due to PBCTU’s promotion of the event the room was standing room only, but only well after the meeting had already begun. It seems the bulk of their members like to arrive at meetings fashionably late.

This meeting was not before a City board, a committee or the City Commission, although commissioners Omari Hardy and Herman C. Robinson were in attendance.

Instead, the meeting was run by Jerry Kelly who is the City’s grant writer and analyst. After reviewing the parameters of the CDBG program Kelly opened the meeting to public comment. There were some new faces including the welcomed faces of children and staff representing For The Children.

However, there were other faces present as well that we haven’t seen for quite some time, including former commissioners Chris McVoy, PhD, Cara Jennings and Mr. panagioti (never capitalize the name as it gives too much importance to the self!).

Jennings and panagioti felt that their children would be worthy additions to the meeting. The children instead caused a lot of distractions and noise and contributed to the meeting’s lack of focus that was one of the complaints.

Commissioner Hardy made it a point that code enforcement, the ire of the PBCTU, was an eligible CDBG expense. And Hardy brought documentation showing that it was and also shared examples of other communities that use CDBG funds for code enforcement in Palm Beach County.

These comments by Hardy created much ire from Jennings as well but at no point did things get completely out of control. Hardy remained calm but members of the PBCTU were getting a little riled up too. So it didn’t hurt that two PBSO deputies showed up.

Hardy also made a distinction between the language in the City code and that maybe the issue with CDBG needs to be looked at later on, but the political will expressed by most citizens was to be vigilant and proactive with code enforcement, especially when it came to derelict vehicles, what is called “red tagging”.

Ms. Jennings inappropriately talked over Commissioner Hardy many times during the meeting and she questioned whether it was appropriate for him to even be talking since he was an elected official and gets to talk all the time anyway. She said that this meeting was for resident input. This notion goes back to the days when being an elected official in this City meant you had to craw into a hole between City Commission meetings which is just absurd. Besides being an elected official Hardy is also a resident of this City.

I thought the comments from Jennings were funny in retrospect how Jennings acted as an elected official, how things look when you are in someone else’s shoes. When Jennings was on the City dais she took great pains to make her voice heard and that continued when meetings were over. Her FREE SPEECH was protected but not so much for other elected officials when they disagreed with her.

PBCTU expressed they wanted CDBG money to go to parks, open space, trees, play equipment, community centers and WiFi. The group was upset that there was not an official “scribe” in attendance and wondered if all these ideas were being memorialized in writing. Although this meeting last Wednesday was not a board meeting or a Commission meeting it was still a public meeting. Anyone could have brought a tripod and camera. Remember, many of the PBCTU showed up late.

Several PBCTU members were on time for the meeting. Any one of them could have called another member and told them to bring a camera. But apparently, that did not happen.

PBCTU members also complained about lack of notice for the meeting which is a valid point. This meeting was not noticed on the City’s official calendar. The City’s official calendar has been a problem for a very long time.

However, PBCTU did get the word out to their members as many were in attendance. They made it seem as if hundreds of people would come to the meeting if they all knew about it. But the reality is more likely their membership is actually very small. It’s not unusual for groups like PBCTU to intentionally keep a low membership. It’s one of the ways to keep out potential informants working for PBSO and the FDLE.

So if PBCTU really has a large membership maybe we’ll see that some day. Maybe after Election Day on March 12th. It really is amazing how groups like PBCTU always seem to show up shortly prior to elections and never shortly after when the hard work of City government begins once again.

The long and short of it is that despite what happened and/or what did not happen at this public meeting this week there will still be plenty of time to give your input regarding use of the CDBG monies.

Mr. Kelly said that can be done over the next four weeks and ultimately the decision will be made by the City Commission. And those too will be public meetings.

And PBCTU is invited. Along with everyone else who has ideas about CDBG.

In conclusion, Thank You for visiting once again today.