Saturday, January 31, 2009
Those organizations fighting the property owners were the Florida League of Cities (a group diabolically opposed to citizens and one Retha Lowe just loves), Florida School Board Association and Florida Association of Counties.
Go to the Cut Property Taxes Now web site for more information.
Go to NUMBERS USA and send your FREE fax.
I want to first congratulate you all in proceeding with a much needed ethics ordinance here in the city of Lake Worth. While we have not been tainted to the degree that other sister cities and certainly the county, it is vital to respond to the climate of public discontent and lack of confidence in our public officials.
Many cities in our county are only making rudimentary progress in adopting transparency measures, which has only fed the public's poor perception of government. I strongly encourage you all to move quickly in adopting stringent ethics measures in our city for all public officials, elected and unelected. I also encourage you to implement for all public officials an ethics pledge modeled after Leadership Palm Beach County's Pledge (see below), if not using it directly. Likewise, I strongly encourage you to institute an ethics policy such as the one recently employed by our county tax collector (see below).
Ideally, the roll-out of these measures should be made publicly, with at least the most visible public officials taking the pledge in a public forum for the public and media to observe. These three facets will serve as a multi-tiered ethics and transparency approach that is likely to create an initial mood of good will from your citizens.
It is up to our public officials, elected and non-elected, to live up to the high ethical standards that are set forth in your ambitious new policy.
Thank you for your time in the matter.
Rene' A. Varela
Lake Worth Resident
Palm Beach County Ethics Pledge
Palm Beach County Tax Collector's Ethics Policy
Friday, January 30, 2009
Joseph McManus, President of the United States Lifesaving Association, challenges the City of Lake Worth's recent decision to close our beach two days a week with people swimming at their own risk on Tuesday and Wednesday. He says it is a safety issue and cites Florida Statutes 401.435.
Read his letter to the City Commission.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The January Board Meeting of the Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation District was held today in one of the Conference rooms at the South Florida Fair. As you recall, our own Lake Worth Resident, Drew Martin, won his seat in the November election. He is the new Supervisor for District 2 and today he officially takes his office after being sworn in by Susan Bucher, Supervisor of Elections.
I remember the first two meetings on Ethics in 2008--one in June and the other in September. Back then it was like pulling teeth for the majority Commission to admit that we even needed an ethics policy. There were a few citizens in the chamber accusing Commissioner Jennings of pushing forward on a policy only because she could not garner enough contributions to beat her opponent. If you recall, Commissioner Jennings raised more money than any candidate in any race in Lake Worth this past November.
In September I stood before the Commission and said that an Ethics Policy was a no brainer—vote it in. They didn’t. The same three said no" to ethics. I went home that night wondering what I had missed.
Some of the things on my mind are--
It is essential that we bring back trust in government. For
Staff must listen to their bosses, ultimately the Commission, and not continue to place stumbling blocks to progress by following what they believe to be the right course and undermining Commissioners and the will of the people who elected them.
Board members need to remember that they represent the best interests of the residents and should be reprimanded for public outbursts as well as negative commentary against citizens. Good behavior and courtesy is essential. They should not be working against elected officials. Even a housewife's opinion is important.
We need to stop the “City Secrets” privilege that has permeated throughout City Hall. All information must be disclosed, other than attorney client privilege, and in a timely fashion.
We need to end the abuse of no-bid contracts.
Ban the free lunch. No political gifts or donations allowed from lobbyists, contractors or those doing business or want to do business with our City. Lobbyists must register. Full disclosure is imperative.
Elected officials should be cognizant that they are in place to promote the will of the people and not their own special interests.
Follow the laws of the land and ordinances of this City. Stop political favors. Stop giving variances to everyone who is a special friend.
Give government back to the people.
Ethics is not about politics. It’s all about what’s right and what’s wrong and applies to all.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The House voted, 244-188, tonight for President Obama's package of federal tax cuts and spending worth $819 billion and meant to jump-start the economy out of its worst crisis in decades.
Back in June 2008, Commissioner Cara Jennings introduced a Pay to Play Ordinance. It was decided after much discussion that it should go to the State Attorney for an opinion. The Ordinance was apparently stricter than the State law on it and our City Attorney Karns thought it might be unconstitutional to make an Ordinance that was more strict than the State of Florida. He thought.
On September 16, 2008, the Pay to Play Ordinance came back and was defeated on a 3 to 2 vote with Commissioner Retha Lowe stating that she did not agree with it and objecting to the title of it as did the Mayor. Ms. Lowe wanted more citizens to speak out, like that meant something to her, that it would make some sort of a difference. The Commissioners (Lowe, Jennings, Clemens, Golden and Vespo) all agreed to send it to a workshop.
Here it is, over four months later. We are finally getting that workshop. It is high time, past time and way over due. Palm Beach County is known as the Pay to Play capitol of the country. The FBI is still working here. The State Attorney says there are more arrests to come. Commissioner Lowe already was found guilty by the Florida Elections Commission.
Can you imagine while Palm Beach County and local cities are sending elected officials to prison, the City of Lake Worth’s Commission has a problem setting an ethical standard for Lake Worth? Has anyone walked off with the silver during this long wait? Let’s stop talking. Let’s take action. Let’s pass Commissioner Jenning’s well thought out Ethics Ordinance and raise the bar. The rest of the County will follow us.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
If you don't think losing 1/4 of our upper level parking at the beach due to the use of it as a staging area for pier repairs has not cost us, think again. Closing the pool did not help either. People want that upper level parking. They won't stop at our beach and park at the lower level.
But I think the biggest factor of losing a bundle over the past year might have been when we changed our parking meter system.
All you have to do is look at the facts.
What do you think?
- 62,000 jobs cut worldwide on Monday
- U.S. has lost 2.59 million jobs since December 2007
- Unemployment is at 7.2%
- Home Depot eliminates 2% of global workforce
- Freddie and Fannie want MORE billions
- 6 cities in PB County either have or are considering cameras to catch re-light runners.
We had the good sense to say "no."
- Fl Real Estate Commission goes easy on Jim Exline. He loses Broker's license for 6 months.
- It could be worse. We could have the West Palm Beach Commission that just approved a 299 foot tall condo to be built at 1515 S. Flagler, 3 times larger than the previous building.
- Home prices stabilized during December
- Obama overhauls energy and ethics policies and wants information released, not concealed. Let's hope that Lake Worth can follow the example and vote in an Ethics Policy and that we can get public information in a timely fashion.
- And someone stole someone's foot. No kidding.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Well, here it is 7 years later and the only thing we have to show for it all is a casino building that was never maintained since year 2002, not once, and even the jack hammered holes were not filled in with cement further allowing our building to deteriorate. A few months ago the City finally covered up the ugliness with boards with the pretense of shoring up our building that was “just about to fall down,” per the Interim Building Official. Not one engineering report in the past had said that this building was structurally unsound other than Mr. Farinelli’s suggestion.
Right now, because of the change in politics, we have the best opportunity to stop this runaway horse in order to keep the present zoning of PROS and refurbish the present building. To wait would be folly. The time is now. The vast majority of the people would approve. And if you don’t believe that, let us vote.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
I responded, "It was great...loved it." What about you? Well, of course, it was just "so, so" to her. Her face was down and she thought it was nothing to rave about. She sings in church. There are always people who, for some reason, just want to burst your bubble, take the little jab enjoying the fact that they have just made a little dent in what was, until you spoke with them, an up day. Probably if I had said it was lousy, her response would have been different.
I agree with Wes on this one...fabulous musical comedy.
The Sheriff’s Department is so big that Lake Worth is a number and those who answer the phones are too.
On Friday, a Director of my Condo and I physically went down to the Sheriff’s office in Lake Worth and went into the building. We wanted to make sure that we talked to someone in person who could advise us correctly regarding something that we felt was of extreme importance. The Clerk behind the bullet plate glass said that there were no deputies in the building. She asked that we explain to her what we wanted a Deputy for and if she considered it worthy, we could proceed further. That is not what she said, only our interpretation of the tone. When I asked where they were, she said, “on the road and it would take about 15 minutes before one could be called back to the building.” She must have liked our reasons as we were instructed to use the phone in the lobby to speak further to someone. We made the call. The person on the other end decided it was worthy, and called for a deputy to meet with us.
And sure enough, after a 15 minute wait, in walked Deputy Guzman. He then took our information and looked up the case in the computer. About ten minutes later he came back and told us that since there was a pending law suit with the City of Lake Worth by the convicted offender, there was nothing we could do. We just did not understand the reasoning behind this but told him that it was our understanding that the law suit had been dropped as of last month. I recall Karns mentioning this during his Attorney Report at a City Commission meeting. Also, the convicted offender admitted it to me. He then said that they would check with city attorney Karns and get him to forward the paperwork, notifying the Sheriff’s Office and that someone would be calling us. In about ten minutes and as we were pulling up into our parking lot, a Lt. Moss called and gave us instructions as to what to do if this person came around.
Today, following those instructions, we called the local number and were routed off to the Sheriff’s office somewhere and got connected with Badge number 7011. He would not give his name when asked. He told our director that there was nothing we could do. Our Director accused him of being a “road block” and stated that “we have rights too.” It seems, once again, the right hand does not know what the left is doing, but it is the weekend.
Tomorrow we will start the process all over again.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Just living and getting by day to day without a catastrophe is a challenge sometimes, isn’t it?
Take our political scene as an example--Every time you think some thing is solved and you have at last moved on from issues that have been poorly decided or just plain bad political decisions from those who don’t care about the will of the people, only their own agendas, the very same things return, unsolved. It is like taking one step forward and two steps back with that monkey hanging on.
This affects the way we live—our beach, our water, our electric, our policies in general.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
That was the time when City Attorney Karns should have jumped up and told them the facts. He was silent on the law. We cannot arbitrarily change the law without a vote of the citizens. What ever do we have a city attorney for other than to protect us from ourselves?
Bob Baldwin, if he accepts the city manager's position in Dania Beach, will stay on for one more month in Lake Worth.
We need to hire a city manager who will play by our rules, not his/hers, or the Commission that gave a bad directive to the headhunter.
The city manager and utility director must establish a bona fide residence in the city, within six (6) months of appointment as city manager. A bona fide residence, for the purpose of this section, is a permanent domicile within the city which has not been adopted with the intention of again taking up or claiming a previous residence acquired outside of the city limits.
(Ord. No. 87-2, § 1,
The very next day we sought proof of our statement and Tripp contacted the DCA as did Rachael Bach of P&Z. Sure enough, Sunset is not a done deal. As Save Our Neighborhood, Inc. is so directly involved in this case, we knew that, but once again, we had to prove it
The fact is, no one can get it right. We can’t rely on any answer out of staff to be a fact.
Read the document
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Last night was a prime example of evil in action. It showed that we still have the “old” regime leading this commission around by the nose. We have a contract building inspector who says the building is about to fall down. Now he says that we must spend more money shoring up the building. We have six past engineering reports and those that I read say differently. What does staff do? They hire, once again, another engineering firm to analyze past engineering reports to see how they compare as to the structural analysis of the buildings. Do you think this next company will finally get it right in the eyes of the City of Lake Worth and recommend demolition? Who gave them this authority? It was not the Commission. How do they spend our money without approval?
Last month Staff was told to come back with a Request For Proposal and expected that to come back to them within a month. Staff revealed last night that it is not even close to getting out an RFP. They are still working on Letters of Interest. What do they do all day long?
Mayor Clemens was correct when he said that they voted on refurbishing the Casino and that he knew that restoration would probably be more expensive than a brand new building. This was revealed in two engineering reports that I read that were received by the City that suggested that. According to Straticon, this building would be totally gutted with nothing left standing but the foundation and outer walls. Everything else would be new. So, we would be getting a NEW building but it would still be considered a restoration. Therefore, there should be no concern from the citizenry or any Commissioner that this building will be anything but built to today’s codes and standards. We know without a doubt that we can restore our existing building. We do not know that we can build a new one.
This process has been bogged down and it was done so on purpose. Mayor Clemens was correct again last night when he said that Staff was pigeon holing the RFP process. Direct Staff to get it done and get it done quickly or give them a pink slip. The Commission needs to get a whole lot more assertive and not allow Staff to continue ignoring its requests and going beyond their authority. The citizens of Lake Worth deserve a whole lot more as well.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This is why We Love Lake Worth Political Action Committee petitioned to begin with...to keep the zoning PROS. Now, of course, the City wants to end the law suit and wants WLLW to agree.
Everyone but especially STAFF is jerking this process around. Let's get the RFP to refurbish the building done--now.
We, as Americans have to feel pride today as it was just a little over 50 years ago when Rosa Parks took her stand and said “no,” I will sit where I want on this bus. If I were in Rosa’s shoes, I would like to think that I would have been as brave. It was during the age where blacks had separate water fountains and were not allowed to enter certain establishments because of the color of their skin. We referred to certain parts of our city as “black town.” We didn’t go there. What a shameful past we had. We still have the Ku Klux Klan with an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 members nationwide even though we have come so far.
Today, Barack Obama, the son of a white mother and a black father is now the President of the United States. During times of crisis, history has produced the best presidents and Obama has come at no better time. If anyone can affect positive change, it will be he who will do it and bring the world together. He has the vision. We have the hope. President Obama is asking all of us to step forward and be engaged in a way that we have never done and he will show us the way.
We have come a long way, baby! It is up to us. And President Obama is sitting at the head of the bus.
Written by the Post editorial board:
ARTICLE PRINTED IN PB POST
Monday, January 19, 2009
For all of you who love contemporary art, if you didn’t get to the Palm Beach County Art Fair at the Convention Center, you missed some really unusual and wonderful art.
You would think that I would have seen at least two people I knew. Not so, but I did spot Donna Ross with a friend.
This photo was taken before my camera was confiscated of an exhibit at the Fair's entrance. I thought it most intriguing.
It seems, the only people working for the City of West Palm Beach who are not in jeopardy (if they negotiate like Lake Worth) are those Union workers whose contracts come up this year and negotiations begin December 2009. Personnel costs are estimated to rise by 9% with the police and fire taking one-half of their budget right off the top.
I wonder if our Mayor here in Lake Worth is thinking about ad valorem when he keeps talking about building a new city center here which would include a new library in one of the highest millage rate cities in PB County and certainly one of the poorest. I wonder if the CRA thought it out when they committed over $13 million to the Gateways to attract development.
30 States Have Made English Official (28 Laws Still in Effect)
FLORIDA (1988) Constitution--84% vote in referendum
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Sometimes when you just feel like "getting away from it all," there is nothing more relaxing or more beautiful than the soothing sound of rolling waves and the quiet serenity of our ocean/beach. Photo taken at Phipps Park.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
The economy had been headed south even when the CRA made this decision.
Now that the CRA along with other agencies have pledged an estimated $600,000 towards this failed project thanks to heavy lobbying from developers and backers of Hammon Park, the CRA can now use this money in better ways, say, saving our Museum for a starter. What about just cleaning up the blight, one of its main objectives, or so I thought.
We have so much affordable housing in the City of
This month we have had a meeting on the nutty contract with Palm Beach County for water and will appeal to the Palm Beach County Commissioners and their sense of doing what’s right for the people in their County who live in Lake Worth versus a few citizens who led us astray and allowed a former Commission to vote the way in which it did.
Early yesterday morning I received an e-mail urging me to get down to the PB County Courthouse and see Mary humble herself. I see no joy in hovering around like a bunch of vulchers salivating while Mary McCarty apologizes to us. I believe her sincerity. She really is sorry. Of all the Commissioners there as well as Karen Marcus, I believed Mary to be honest. To find out otherwise was a surprise but taking into consideration the culture of our politicians here it shouldn't have been. It is nothing to celebrate. She is down and broken so I should now stone her to death?
On January 28th at 5:30 there is a workshop to discuss ethics. I find it so sad that we have to make policy for ethics. The Ethics Resource Center found that 60% of government employees at all levels had witnessed violations of ethical standards, policy or laws in the workplace last year. It is a growing scourge and Lake Worth needs to strive to a standard above the bar.
During this past election, Katie and I invited Mary Lindsey to lunch. When the bill came to be paid, she would not let us pay hers. I was totally surprised, not thinking that this was anything serious as she was not even an elected official at that point and there was no way we could influence her for $5. How many politicians or those running for office do that? I mean, afterall, it was just a few bucks! Mary held herself to an extremely high standard. This is what it will take to turn around this lack of trust or uneasy feeling we have with our elected representatives…high self standards as well as an Ethics Policy.
What is at stake is to turn around the lack of public trust. We have had a lot of problems here in Palm Beach County as well as in Lake Worth in that regard. Even when there are campaign violations it always asks the question, what more hanky panky is going on…what else is that official up to? With an Ethics Policy it has been proven through a study by the Ethics Resource Center that “in government organizations with well-implemented ethics programs and strong ethical culture, misconduct fell by 60%, and the reporting of bad behavior increased by 40%.
Every Commissioner, this time, must vote “yes” for an ethics policy.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Last night I met with a newly formed citizens group, Lake Worth Citizens. I joined the Group online just to see what it was all about and its intent. They have a big concern about the direction of government, not only in our city but primarily at the Federal level. The room was filled with mostly Republicans I would guess but the Group itself is non-partisan. I attended just to listen and observe.
Its founder, David Wood, is a Constitution expert and firmly believes, without any doubt in his mind, that we are wandering way off course. I am sure that he believes, as do I, that the President does not have the sole power to implement programs, raise or lower our taxes, decide all issues and virtually run the government like a dictator. Sound familiar?
The Federal government is so out of control. We are just a hair away from bankruptcy. They continue to run up the national debt and it is unimaginable to me how they will pay for it. We can’t continue the bailouts. Now Obama wants an $825 BILLION stimulus package to help the “poor and unemployed and hand out huge grants for local schools and state governments.” We can NOT continue to borrow and spend. Look what the bailouts have done under George Bush?” NOTHING. All they have done is to allow foreign countries to own more of our country.
Racking up debt for which we can't pay, we borrow from foreign countries who end up owning a big piece of this country. We have the same problems here on the local level. We are outsourcing this and that to Palm Beach County, chipping away at our own autonomy. Here in Lake Worth we have a chance to eliminate some of the horrendous decisions of the past by voting the abusers out. Why some of these decisions were made by our local officials is up to conjecture. With all the corruption in Palm Beach County, I do not discount that.
When it comes to the illegal immigration issue here in Lake Worth, the Socialists know that the Feds aren’t doing much about it so they pushed forth their Mentoring Center program and gave this group our public building for an illegal purpose for $1 a year.
Next we have a volunteer politically appointed Board, the CRA, whose seven members have decided that Lake Worth will be an artist’s destination. Seven people with the Commission’s support, has made this decision with NO citizen input. Have you ever seen a wealthy artist? A lot of them are on food stamps and VanGogh died broke. Where is the Commission oversight? They have to approve all CRA spending by Ordinance. We have a Commission that truly understands the concept of implementing policy by citizen approval. Will it keep that in mind when it goes along with a directive of seven people who want to change our City?
The Lake Worth Citizens group is well intentioned in that it recognizes we have major problems of huge proportions and its founder wants to solicit support from other concerned citizens. The best way to ever affect change is to first sit down with others and hash it out, perhaps coming up with some proposals that might work. We can all sit back and do nothing or take a strong dose of reality at what is happening in our country and try and do something. Mr. Wood does believe that the power should remain in WE THE PEOPLE according to our Constitution but "it was lost to those leaders acting in the name of government, such as politicians, bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, etc."
I wish that I could have received a better feel as to what this Group really wants to achieve. I didn’t.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
- Please sponsor immigration enforcement legislation this year!
- Floridians need these laws to protect the citizens from the economic and criminal impact of illegal immigration.
- Illegal immigration costs Florida taxpayers nearly two billion dollars annually.
- Florida should follow the budget-cutting lead of twelve other states that have enacted similar laws.
When I first started to read this letter to the editor, I thought it was someone from Lake Worth complaining about the CRA Director and her successful lobby to get a 10% raise from her Board. …bringing her salary to $110,000, plus car, plus phone, benefits, etc. But instead, it was a woman from Stuart complaining about government workers making over $100 thousand in general.
We, as citizens, can see the problem with the decision that the CRA made. Why can’t the CRA? That is my problem with that Board. They seldom say “no” to anything or anyone when it comes to spending our money.
This Director pulled the same shenanigans that every corporate CEO pulls and one of the reasons why we are in such dreadful financial shape in this country. The “ME” factor must go. This year, the CRA Board should have considered our financial crisis since its Director would not.
Letter to the Editor
Those 'living' on $100k should think of others
Times are tough for everyone, but I think that if everyone thought about his fellow American, instead of just himself, life could be better for all instead of just some.
The paper published a list of salaries for public employees in Martin County. I wondered what made these people so special that their salaries had to be over $100,000. What about our schoolteachers, firefighters, etc.? Are these people not special?
Why, since there is such a crunch, can't these people survive on $100,000 and refuse the excess so that perhaps their neighbor with two children could have food on their table, or the retired person on the other side can afford a loaf of bread? These people need to look around and see the hungry people who are being fed at the local churches. These are their neighbors. These are our working-class people who once had a good job but, because of budget cutbacks, were let go.
This is why our country is failing. There is no one to do the work, only the ones to give the orders. What happened to the justice for all?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Mentoring Center, Inc.(Lake Worth, Palm Beach County) - For the Lake Worth Resource Center (LWRC), $110,000 (Galadriel Peace Fund II, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fund, The Hans and Mary Stratmann Intergenerational Fund)
City taxpayers must foot the bill for new roof, parking lot resurfacing and bathrooms for the Mentoring Center that is on a $1 year lease.
58.5% of those in Miami speak Spanish as their first language. Feeling marginalized, English speaking citizens are now trying to fit in and be a part of their own country. How are they doing it? They, too, are eating more and more junk foods.
Miami has now been voted the Fattest City in America by Men’s Fitness Magazine. Miami went from number 7 in 2008 to first place this year. Way to go, Miami! It must be all the stress from that Third World Invasion that has no intention of assimilating into our culture other than eating Big Macs and drinking soda pop.
Commentary on the CRA and P&Z Boards
Many Board members are too political and behave as if they have been elected rather than appointed by the City Commission. These members even have the audacity to make snide remarks against our Commissioners at any and every opportunity, the very people who appointed them, as well as comments against the public, the very people they should be listening to and who are actually paying for their projects. They really believe that they know better and make no bones about who holds the power and who, in their minds, has the knowledge. How dare anyone question their decisions?
Monday nights’ workshop with the P&Z Board is a prime example. Even though the Vice-Chair said, “We work for you,” that message was topped off with more disingenuous discourse when all of the Commissioners were invited to call anyone on the P&Z at any time if they did not understand what the Board was promoting…threatened the Bert J. Harris law regarding the Sunset parcel and tried to rush the Commission into a decision on their Comp Plan changes and approve it as it was. You could definitely distinguish the leadership and the power on that Board that night—John Paxman and Phil Spinelli. Commissioner Jennings stopped the Board dead in its tracks. Her argument? The citizens should have the say about the direction the city should go. This is a prime example of why we need Florida Hometown Democracy.
From time to time and especially on big money items, these politically appointed Boards have a tendency to make decisions that are not in the best interest of Lake Worth and its citizens tax money, spending willy nilly on projects that have been lobbied to death such as the CRA's decision on the Pugh property and Hammon Park. The CRA recently voted 7 to 0 on Hands On Consulting to do a study on the Cultural Redevelopment idea of theirs. This Group was pushed through by the CRA Director. She wanted them. She got them. The CRA says we need this study and this direction for our city whether we want it or not and they will spend a big consulting fee ($200,000) to get it. They want this city to be an artists’ destination and firmly believe that is what we need to give it vitality. Once these decisions are made by Boards, our Commission can’t overturn them. It took a lot of pressure and months of time and over $700,000 dollars to finally get the CRA to end the option on the Pugh property. I give Bill Coakley a lot of credit for exposing this bad decision on his web site, lakeworthmedia.com. I personally still question spending $13 million on 6th Ave S and 10th Ave North in order to attract development.
It was mentioned by the CRA attorney last night that the Board does not have to have Commission approval. They can do virtually anything they want. I always thought that the Commission, however, had to approve their budget. The Director at last night’s meeting moved around $1.2 million dollars in the budget to other projects. Tom Ramiccio came before them once again wanting money. This time it was $10,000 towards the Street Painting Festival even though he already received his one grant allowed per year of $24,500 for Evening on the Avenues. He wanted a special exception and got it. The entire Grant is only $44,000 for the year and Tom got 78% of it for his causes. Ms. Olivia fixed that unfavorable percentage by shifting $15,000 from the budget into the Patron’s Grant Fund thus pumping up its available balance.
Does anyone know how much the Street Painting Festival costs? According to Mr. Ramiccio, it is over $200,000 to put on this event and the Street Painting Festival, Inc. even pays for the CHAULK according to the condensed balance sheet that was presented in the back-up. No supporting documentation of these figures was offered. It is an expensive event. Does it help our downtown merchants? If so, to what degree? The propaganda given was that people actually move to our city because of this festival. That's another sale of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Donna Ross, CRA Board member, made a good point during the review process on the CRA Director. In her opinion, Ms. Oliva was directing the Board rather than the other way around and changing the By-Laws was challenged by member Wayne Marcinkoski at last night's meeting. I believe if the By-Laws had been changed last night, the Board would have had less authority than ever before. You can’t have a run-away Board either. The Board makes the decisions but should not allow itself to be bullied or take staff input without question. Because one set of facts are provided does not mean that there are not another set disputing the argument. Boards must do their own homework just like the City Commission. They need to look at both sides of the coin.
A lot of the zoning decisions result in exclusion rather than inclusion. The P&Z made a horrible decision against the Lake Osborne Heights neighborhood when the 4.02 acres on Sunset were annexed into the City and zoning was approved by P&Z to accommodate a developer at the expense of this single family neighborhood. P&Z never listened to the residents and allowed zoning of Multi-Family 20 in a Single Family 7 neighborhood. They did it because they could and now they feel smug because we lost in the Appellate Court on the 5 parcel question.
We absolutely must have planning and zoning laws as well as code enforcement. We must have a Comprehensive Plan that makes sense to the city as a whole and approved by the residents, not just a few planners on boards who are development oriented. I question the argument that we are better off today than we were in the past. The quality of life here decades ago was great.
Finally, the Board members need to be responsible to the greater good of the citizens of Lake Worth. Since the Boards are political anyway and behave as politicians (other than the members who have obvious contempt for the public and the Commission that appointed them) perhaps elected Boards would do the trick. Four year appointed terms are too long because the politics in this city changes every two years and therefore board members should be subjected to two years like any other elected official here. Also, I personally would like to see term limits for appointed board members.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
"Asking the right questions will help you find facts that will get you much farther along in a career goal, right now. This might seem obvious, but you haven't been talking to the people who can really give you the information that you really need. It's time to step out of your safe circle and start trying to expand your network a little bit more aggressively. Start rubbing elbows with people who are not only fun to be around, but also influential and connected."
All of you have a great day even if it isn't your birthday!
A cry rang out....gentrification has come!
we must take action or our city is done
Together we crafted an epic work plan
with all the tools in the box, we would hold back "the man"
With petitions and protests, the momentum did gain
now it was time for an election campaign
They said, "It's a fluke, a radical can't win"
and swore to their cronies, "It won't happen again!"
Donations came in from nearby and far flung
wishing us strength for the work to be done
With cash in the bank and feet on the street,
the power of people could not be beat
We took the city by storm, a hurricane of change
and despite their foul play, we did it again......
I thank you, friends, it has been quite a ride
with your love and support, we turned the tide.
Monday, January 12, 2009
- Gangster Disciples
- La Familia (originated in Broward County)
- La Raza
- Latin Disciples
- Latin Kings
- MS 13
- Sur 13
- Top 6 (originated in Lake Worth)
- Vatos Locos
- Zoe Pound (originated in Little Haiti, Miami)
- Folk Nation
- Lake Worth Boys OTHERS--
- Makin Life Krazie
- Manic Latin Disciples
- South Side Chicos
- Spanish Cobras
- Tes Puntos
- Tru Haitian Boyz
- West Side
- 12 Street
- 14th Street
- 18 Street
- Big Time Mafia
- Crazy Outlaw Soldiers
- Crazy White boys
- H Unit
- Kings of Destruction
- Krazie Boyz
- 40 Boyz
- Big Time Mafia
- G Street
- Insane Gangster Disciples
Several years back a friend of mine said that she had no fear of walking in the crime gang areas during campaigning. That always impressed me. I eventually got over my apprehension too. It has been said that most of these criminals, believe it or not, have standards that they live by: Never mess with small children, old people, religious people, or innocent people. It is the "scavengers or wannabes" that act without remorse or guidelines in most cases. The gangs want to get rid of these types as they "ruin their reputation." I just want to get rid of the gangs.
It has been reported by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's survey conducted last year, that there are more than 1,500 gangs in Florida and between 65,000 and 70,000 gang members.
The Sheriff’s Department closed 52.4% of its cases in 2008, under the national average, some of which were gang related. Gang violence is growing faster in Florida than any other State and in Palm Beach County there are many gangs with a high and growing density in Lake Worth as shown above. Why is Florida so attractive? A lot of these gang members are illegals and have found a new way of life here in our State and in our community.
Is the City falling behind the eight ball? Are criminals winning? With our current pretense that nothing can be done about the illegals that our local government cons us into believing, harboring illegals is a national disgrace, and by the Commission's inaction, it encourages more to settle in our town. Gang membership will be on the rise and criminal activity will increase.
It is time for everyone to speak out.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
One of the biggest problems we have, whether it be nationally or locally, is apathy. This last national election got more people to the polls than ever before. There was a big interest in putting our hope into Obama to affect badly needed change.
The next problem are those people who choose to have tunnel vision on the issues. They want to blame everyone around them for the ills of society instead of blaming themselves and doing something about it.
I had two residents e-mail me today. They were mad. What were they mad at? Well, one blamed me on the slums in Lake Worth and said if I hadn’t voted such and such a way things might have improved in the city. She had some insight as to how I voted in this last election I guess. The other one was just, well, mad. It was her best bud.
Some people who are “mad” at what’s going on in this City need to come to City Commission meetings and speak out. They should attend Board meetings and understand the power structure and what is going on. They need to get active and fight for causes for which they believe. They need to set up meetings with their Commissioners and speak out. But more than anything else, they just plain need to get informed and stop blaming everyone else. Socially produced wrongs can only be cured by our actions. We can’t sit silently by while society and our city changes around us. Try and join a Board. Join a group that has similar beliefs. Get organized and do something.
Blaming any one person for the growing problems in this City is not realistic. Playing the blame game just doesn’t cut it. The more active we get on the issues, the better chance we have of initiating change.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
FPL's impact on Barley Barber Swamp is draining the wetlands according to the 17 activists who were arrested today.
Click here for PB Post article
If I have said it once, I have said it a half dozen times--let’s get the best manager in the United States and I don’t care about the cost. I don’t mean one of these over-paid corporate execs. Is there any city in the 50 states that is doing things right? Let’s steal that manager away…give him a free house. Whatever.
All we need is someone who understands our city and will not let politics get in the way. We hired Paul Boyer several years back. The City Commission did not listen to him when he said not to go with Greater Bay. They did it anyway. Paul Boyer could not persuade any of them to come in out of the rain. So what happened? He went along with the politics. He went along with it so well that he gave away our pool as part of the Greater Bay deal. There are many other things for which I will not go into.
Next we hired Bob Baldwin. This is like marrying someone who only wants your money. No love. No loyalty. And no clue and never any intention of getting fully committed. He ends up neglecting you to the point of final exasperation. How many times did he tell us he did not want to be here? How many times did he tell us that he did not want to be bothered with the public or a part of our community? Denial of the truth put this city into even more jeopardy because for the last 1.5 years, this City has literally gone down the tubes
He told the City Commission not to give away our public building asset. What did they do? They didn’t listen. But the worst thing is, Bob never lead the Commission in the right direction, a direction that would have been healthy for us. He wanted to get it all off his plate from day one when he informed us that outsourcing was the way to go. Vespo followed suit. The Mayor has always been on that train. Not caring about our City is a travesty. We were worth his fight. He kept telling the Commission to give him direction when they actually needed to be lead by someone with our best interests and someone who understood our city and its needs. When the Commission asked him about something, his pat reply has always been, “I am here to follow your direction.” What in heck do we hire a city manager to do? Sit there like some puppet and do what he is told? That’s not my idea of a manager. We don’t pay someone that sort of money to sit there like a stone wall. It’s not Bob’s fault. He told us. It wasn’t like he was sneaking around during this marriage.
I’m reading a book right now that I can’t put down: The Lion’s Game by Nelson DeMille. In it there is a line that says, “…ninety percent of life is just showing up.” We need a city manager that knows his stuff and can lead us out of this deep dark hole we have dug for ourselves, not someone who just shows up. And that’s been a problem of Bob’s as well—not showing up.
If you noticed at the last city commission meeting, Bob, when asked a question regarding the fire ad valorem and how much right now of our millage went into the ad valorem tax for that service, he did not know. HE DID NOT KNOW! This is after 20 months but he could tell you what Lauderdale by the Sea or whatever did. What is all this about, people? “But I like him,” says Commissioner Lowe. Well, I like him too, Ms. Lowe, but it's a bad marriage for Lake Worth.
The only thing that I have advocated is to hire the best. Recommending the immediate hire of a local resident for two months, to set us on track, makes sense to me. I have never said to go around the RFQ process for a full-time city manager. It is time to think out of the box. Nothing is worse than what we have now. We are in crisis mode. To continue on with what we have, even for two months, could kill us. To continue doing business in the same vein may not be productive. Can't we learn anything from past mistakes? Sometimes that old pair of shoes feels good but they no longer support our arches.
The total unemployed in this country for last year is 2.6 million people. Numbers USA reports that “America’s service industry lost another 273,000 jobs in December, but a major UNION leader in the industry renewed his call for permanently tying up 7 million jobs (largely service jobs) with the ILLEGAL aliens who now hold them.” The Post reports an over-all job loss in December at 524,000. No one is doing anything about the illegals in this country and here in Lake Worth, we hand over a public building to assist with their illegal activity.
Some Somalian pirates held up a Saudi cargo ship for two months that is carrying oil valued at $100 million. They finally got ransom money that was acceptable to these criminals--$3 million bucks. They are from the same terrorist country that dragged five bodies of American soldiers around their blood torn city in 1992 while they were there to protect the delivery of food.
Next comes Blagojevich again, another terrorist. I just hate it when people play the race card. It is done all the time and Lake Worth is no exception as we found out with Commissioner Lowe. But this guy is impeached by the Illinois Legislature 114 to 1 (who was that one vote?) and keeps insisting he committed no crime. “I just made a mistake.” He was heard prior to that making a call to Commissioner Lowe. He defies everyone by appointing Roland Burris to fill Obama’s Senate seat, a black man, knowing that whitey always gets nervous when race is mentioned. We have been told that we are responsible for the sins of our fathers and all generations who came before us and some of us actually believe it. He probably voted against an ethics policy just like Commissioner Lowe. Some elected officials are just defiant to the end.
Then we have the Senate who first said “no way” to Burris and now has backed down and will probably seat him. Scared of that "race thing" I guess. Obama is staying out of it.
And we can’t forget Mary McCarty. Everything you read is so familiar. The only thing she didn’t get were campaign contributions from Sun Recycling.
We even have Obama backing down. Now the president elect wants to negotiate with Hamas. You don’t negotiate with terrorists.
There’s more but my coffee is waiting.
Friday, January 9, 2009
He just gave Obama some advice on the No Child Left Behind Law and not to water it down because it “would weaken a chance for a child to succeed in America.” He gave Obama advice! This is the very same man who, under his lack of leadership, brought this country to financial ruin and has nearly ended our status as a super power.
A good education is an absolute advantage, I think. I used to believe it was a ticket to success and a necessity in order to live well in this country. It might still be. I don't know. We should, however, be educating the parents of these kids on the importance of education, as one out of four children are high school drop-outs. 25% of these kids can do the work of the illegals that are crossing our borders in mass and taking money out of this country. But it is the irony of his statement that got to got me. Under President Bush, more and more good jobs are being outsourced. There does not appear to be a strong influx of white collar jobs on the horizon, at least in this country. So many technology, information, manufacturing and marketing jobs have moved offshore and more will follow. American corporations are recruiting foreign workers here because they demand less in salaries and over-all compensation.
The price of higher education has skyrocketed, increasing 51% over the last 5 years. And what do these kids have to look forward to? Colleges are telling them to look for work in fields that do not require a college degree--firefighter, hairstylist, cosmetologist, locksmith and security system technician.
President Bush, we are educating our youth to apply for jobs in India owned by American corporations or to be my hairdresser! As I see it, the best job for a college graduate to get now would be in government (forever growing) or as an off-shore manager and be a part of the effort in finding off-shore jobs in American companies for college buddies.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
We have two County Commissioners and two West Palm Beach City Commissioners who were sentenced to prison with Ray Liberti and Jim Exline already released. What will happen to Mary? Is anyone honest?
For all you guys playing hanky panky, watch out. You could be next. When I witness some of the awful votes, it has to make me wonder.
And Commissioner Lowe, why won't you resign? Is your middle name Blagojevich? FBI please come to Lake Worth.
I have to give a lot of credit to the Unions for helping to bring down our auto industry by putting a gun to their heads—wanting huge salaries, retirement for life, medical, you name it, while the companies' profits eroded to such an extent that it destroyed them and they no longer can compete in the global or domestic market. I know. Some of you are going to say we have an inferior product. Bolderdash!
The Unions have forced companies to outsource good jobs just to stay profitable. Here in Lake Worth, we were “forced” (the proverbial 3 to 2 vote) to dissolve our local Police Department and merge it with the Sheriff’s Department on the excuse that we no longer could afford the Pension Retirement benefit. We are still, to this day and every day forward until these people die, paying for more than half of them who did not elect to go with the Sheriff’s Pension Plan. Maybe not. Perhaps the retirement benefit passes on to the surviving spouse for all I know.
The other night it was said by our Mayor that the Employees Pension Fund has lost $11.9 million dollars. I feel for this. I have lost money too. We all have and we all have had to bite the bullet. Not the Unions, though. Not our city workers either. All employees got a 5% raise in the City of Lake Worth, or so I was told, and the CRA Director managed to get a 10% raise. A $100,000 a year plus benefits was not enough!
In the Post editorial this morning it talks about the Kravis Center and it suggests its need to drop the law suit and work out a deal with the Unions. I think the problem is that the Unions did not want to deal thus the lawsuit. However, what struck me was the chain of events: The Union contract was up. It went into negotiation. The Union said “no way, I want this, and this, and this and just plain more of this.” The Kravis then ended the discussion and decided to hire non-union workers in the place of union workers. I mean, afterall, the Contract was up! Voila! A law suit filed by the Union. So, it seems that you can’t even hire who you want in America today. You are held hostage to the Unions.
Then I read about our Museum curator, who as you all know, will be staying afterall. I had no idea how much money she made until the other night. $12 an hour is what people are paying their baby sitters today. And that is essentially what this job was—baby sitting our artifacts and giving the occasional visitor a history lesson. Now they suggest that this curator take displays on the road, marketing it. If they change her job description, and she takes on more duties, she should make more money. This is probably why there are unions..inept management that takes advantage of some workers.
But overall, Union greed has diminished and has nearly destroyed, what once was considered “free” enterprise. Union members are guaranteed high raises whether they perform well or not. They are not held accountable and it is impossible to fire one unless he has committed a crime. It is a growing problem and if it is not addressed, in about 25 years we will end up with only the educated wealthy and the uneducated poor. The middle class will be gone because there will no longer be a place for them. What will all you “open border” people do then?
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Pay to Play is just a phrase used more and more frequently in government corruption when money or something of value, over or under the table, has been given to a candidate for some financial benefit to the contributor, i.e., a government contract.
Because a citizen gives money to a particular candidate who he feels best represents his views, does not mean every time that elected official votes on something for which he agrees, it is a pay to play situation. There was no personal monetary gain involved. Because someone contributed to and voted for Obama because they hope that he will lead and vote correctly for America, does not mean there is any pay to play.
This is the same thing with Charles Celi who gave campaign contributions in this last election to Cara Jennings, Suzanne Mulvehill and to Rene Varela. He knew that they were more aligned with his political beliefs. His argument against the owners of The Gulfstream Hotel is all about following the rules we have in place. He wants the City to look at both sides of the argument and weigh all of the facts, something the P&Z did not do. Instead, they manipulated the rules to suit their political agenda. He is not going to benefit monetarily from any political decision. He is standing up to principle, an American right. Standing up for one's beliefs is admirable and Mr. Celi took all the hard knocks last night from the Mayor who said his arguments were frivolous to the Gulfstream attorney who said there was not one shread of truth to them.
That’s how I see it. And I know who I believe.