Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vote 4 Amendment 4

Right now, it is coming down to one argument from the opponents of Florida Hometown Democracy. Read this article and you will understand that Floridians for Smarter Growth are now OUT of arguments.

What Really Happened at St. Petersburg Beach

Make E-Verify Mandatory


It has taken awhile, but Congressman Ron Klein is finally hearing the message regarding illegal aliens. I want to see what positive steps he makes going forward. I already know where his opponent, Col. Allen West, stands who has had my support.

Numbers USA says that Rep. Klein has co-sponsored a Bill called SAVE Act- H.R. 3308 which would make the E-Verify employment verification system mandatory for every employer. Unfortunately, Rep. Klein has not yet co-sponsored H.R. 1868, which would finally put an end to "birthright citizenship" for illegal aliens. Under this bill, children born in this country to illegal aliens would no longer be granted automatic U.S. citizenship.

Maryland Congressman wants tough immigration laws

California spends $34 million teaching illegals English

Lawrence Lataif, WPB Immigration lawyer with Shutts and Bowen on illegal immigration

In Mortal Danger by Tom Tancredo

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Biggest and the Brightest last Night

Comment Up

In spite of all the cloud cover last night, there were moments when the moon appeared.

The full moon was 14 percent wider and 30 percent brighter compared to the other full moons of the year because it was closer to Earth. This only happens twice a year.

On an average, a moon is 238,855 miles away from Earth but last night it was only 221,577 miles away from our planet, thus the closet perigee of the moon for this year.

I did not hear any werewolves--just one barking dog.

Commissioner Mulvehill -- Looking out for You!

Comment Up
For anyone else besides the Dirty Dozen that just has an obsession with making personal attacks and being divisive, the following is a list of some of Commissioner Mulvehill's accomplishments since she has taken office.

Mary Lindsey says, "What's "rude" is inciting class division and neglecting real issues of importance - like a $1.6 million budget shortfall and depleted reserves."

Well, here is the truth of the matter:

Saved $450K-500K by NOT shoring up the Casino building and instead recommended the hiring of a structural engineer for $6K that determined that shoring wasn’t necessary, nor was closing the building.

Saved 80 jobs at the beach by fighting 3 red tags last year to keep the building open.

Generated more than $100K in rental revenue for the beach building by advocating to keep it OPEN.

Generated $300K (1/2 of the parking revenue?) in parking revenue by keeping the building open.

Saved $80K by NOT outsourcing the management of our golf course to JCD Sports.

Advocated NOT paying the $6 million to the County for the capacity charges, and instead advocated to renegotiate the contract. Saved multi-millions by standing up for the residents of Lake Worth.

Saved $100,000 this year by NOT renewing John Farinelli’s contract for which he was paid TWICE the salary of a typical building official.

Changed our policy to pay 10% retirement rather than what our previous city manager was being paid and was offering to directors of 40%. Total savings this year on just 3 new hires - the city manager, city attorney and community development director: $120,000 this year in savings and $600,000 in savings over 5 years.

Hired a well qualified city manager who is actually "hands-on" and responsive to the citizens. She has hired top professionals such as a new Finance Director who will not lead us astray. Mark Bates, former finance director when queried by me last year said that we were in good financial health. His estimate on the fall of property values was really askew, a big contributor to our financial difficulties we are experiencing in this new budget.

Saved $100K by hiring a new audit company under the direction of new city manager Stanton.

Saved $100K when city manager found a duplicate insurance policy.

Approved the re-design of the City's Web Site being done in house at no cost. Savings of $50,000.

Total budget shortfall could have been closer to $8 million.

Has given direction to the City Manager to negotiate with the Unions (Unions that Lindsey supports) that do not want to negotiate, costing us millions each year in raises and benefits that we can't afford. The biggest costs to the City are Police and Union.

Something in the Water ?


Post gets another one right.

Is it something in the water? The Editorial today agrees with Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill and the rest of our city commission that voted to retain public access to our public rights-of-way on the Intracoastal. Public land must be preserved for the public.

The editorial quotes defeated candidate for Mayor, Loretta Sharpe, and says, "But it would be equally irresponsible to abandon or — as former commission candidate Loretta Sharpe advocated — sell the parcels."

No one is "clueless" now.

ROLOH has Annabeth Karson as Guest Speaker

Annabeth Karson
Co-Chair 2010 Complete Count Committee Lake Worth

The First Census was conducted in 1790 and the United States Constitution mandates a count every ten years. This count will determine the number of representatives we have in Congress and could affect the re-drawing of our congressional districts. One of the most important considerations is that it affects funding for our community.

Annabeth was the guest speaker at the ROLOH meeting this past Thursday night. She is asking for volunteers to assist her and her Co-Chair, Shauna Coolican, in this huge task. It is imperative that we count every single resident in our city.

Because of the political brouhaha from a few, Annabeth and Shauna are no longer employees of the city but rather Independent Contractors. Therefore they have new contact information. You can reach Annabeth at annabeth@getcounted.us or at 646-322-0162. Reminder to the "Dirty Dozen"--They will have Census takers knocking on your door too.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Short and Long of It

Comment Up

On February 27, the City Commission will have a Retreat to be held at the Lake Worth Golf Course in order to discuss issues of importance that are critical to the City.

Susan Stanton—“The goals of the retreat are to define priorities for 2010 and not to develop a long-term strategic plan."

Mayor Rene Varela—“The Retreat will define the future…to give a clear and attainable path for our Staff to follow that will endure the test of time…defining government in Lake Worth for the next generation.”

What is wrong with this Picture?

It really is shocking to learn that our Senate just voted to increase the national debt by $1.9 trillion. We now owe $14.3 trillion to others who hold it. This means that you personally owe the United States government $45,000. The vote to increase our debt was under the 60 vote rule. Because Scott Brown of Massachusetts has not yet taken his seat, it passed 60 to 39.

40% of our Country owned by others.

IN BILLIONS--Top 10

China, Mainland...789.6
Japan...757.3
United Kingdom/...277.5
Oil Exporters 3/ ...187.7
Carib Bnkng Ctrs 4/...179.8
Brazil ...157.1
Hong Kong ...146.2
Russia...128.1
Luxembourg ...91.7
Taiwan...78.4

The United States is described as being the wealthiest, strongest and most influential nation in the world, but are we?

Foreign aid was meant to go to create foreign markets for US products. Israel and Egypt receive one-third of the total aid, the majority of which pays for armaments. Neither is a “developing” country. The 2010 Obama Budget plans to double our aid to other counties despite our multi-trillion dollar debt in the worst recession in over 25 years. We borrow, to then give it away. We give Stimulus money to losers. We give borrowed money to countries that can’t pick themselves up, countries that never have nor will rise above it. Corruption abounds. We borrow money only to get criticized and hated by foreign countries that say we are “not giving or doing enough.”

Is there anything wrong with this picture?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Gang of Five

Comment Up

Knowing that the Palm Beach Post always has a left-winged slant to its editorials, I finally agree with them 100% on a recent editorial regarding the Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing corporations to spend as much as they want on election advertising thus influencing the outcome of our national elections.

Corporations are not citizens, therefore by that explanation alone, they should not have the same guarantees of free speech as does an individual.

No one, however, has mentioned the simple fact that foreign countries now can have a big foot-hold in the outcome thus controlling our government. Foreign corporations, even some controlled by their governments, can funnel money into their U.S. subsidiaries. We could feasibly be under the control of some foreign or subversive government.

What a group has to say—

The fact is that we now live in a world of giant transnational corporations, with allegiance to NO sovereign government, let alone our own, sworn only to exploit the most vulnerable and desperate workers they can find in any country of the world. How does The Supreme Court 5 propose parsing which of these extra-national legal artificialities should be allowed to corrupt our democratic election process? Apparently in their minds, all of them.

Action Page: Corporations Are NOT The People..

New Look for Lake Worth

Lake Worth has a newly designed WEB SITE

Save the Theatrics


Tuesday night I left the CRA meeting and wandered over to the City Commission workshop being held in the Conference Room. I missed every item that was up for discussion. I wanted to hear about our financial condition but as I walked in, they were talking about a Committee for the Casino renovation which would consist of all the City Commissioners and two appointed citizens.

It was debated back and forth and it was suggested that a person from the Lake Worth Alumni Association would be on the Committee. The LW Alumni Association’s entire membership endorsed the renovation/refurbishment of the Casino, so they have a keen interest in this project. The next suggestion was one of the merchants at the beach. I rather liked this idea because who is more familiar with the Casino than any of the long-time tenants there who have supported it throughout the years? Who has had a greater interest in the building and its preservation as well as its future?

The “Dirty Dozen” had their vocal reps in place and spoke for two minutes each on how egregious that entire suggestion was. They both see political conspiracies under every rock even bringing up the fact that some merchants gave campaign contributions to some of the candidates/commissioners that beat them in previous elections. All we are going to do is renovate a building, gals! Like a broken record, with the same message playing over and over again, these two are there at every meeting to cause havoc every chance they can for anything or everything, big or small, in order to put a wrench in the process.

Folks—we have serious financial problems in our city. We had a Reserve Fund that went from $5.2 million that is now $1.6 mil. The biggest reason for the decline was contributions to Pension Funds which lost $8 mil in one year. All of the Pension Funds--General Employees, Police and Fire have declined--big time. We are nearly bankrupt and these two bow to the East every day in support of the Unions (that really control our City) as well as the merger of our police and fire that still cost us small and now bigger fortunes. And they continue to badger city officials and the public.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

1000 Lake Avenue

Comment Up

Apparently the decision to purchase the 1000 Lake Avenue property was placed on the CRA Agenda by Board attorney, David Tolces, without the CRA Board having a chance to study the details. The back-up was not provided on-line to the public as far as the Contract For Sale and Purchase, only the Lease Agreement. I can well understand and appreciate Michael Hyde when he pulled it and made a motion to discuss the acquisition in a workshop that will be coming up soon between the CRA and the City Commission. It is a major decision when spending this amount of dollars.

I wish that the CRA Board had moved it to a discussion item so that we all could have learned more about it. This is a perfect opportunity now that the CRA is going to be a recipient of a HUD grant for $23 million that addresses slum and blight that has been put on the back burner for many years now. The NSP grant opened up the possibility to focus on another area, spending CRA TIF on an important and historic building in a strategic location. We may not have this opportunity again. I would have liked to have learned all the details along with the financial feasibility study to ascertain if it was going to be affordable and make sense.

I can understand Hands-On when they said that they need to keep negotiations confidential. This was one of the few things they said that made sense last night. The negotiated price for this building that Hands-On brought to the table is out in the public and another potential buyer has stepped up to get the property.

After I had left the meeting, the CRA Board brought the item back, and now have called for a Special Meeting on February 2. Let’s not blow this one.

Why We Need Florida Hometown Democracy

Guest Blogger
Elizabeth Ann (Bett) Willett


First I will tell you why Amendment 4 will pass and then I will tell you why Amendment 4 is a good thing for Florida.

Amendment 4 will pass because people in this State are fed up with the poor job their elected officials have done controlling development. In fact, they have not controlled it. Their constant approval of over-development projects, together with the number of corrupt officials being indicted and convicted, has become an embarrassment to the State and has outraged the residents. By any standard you would like to apply, the present system is “broken” and we are all paying a horribly high price for this.

People blame the greed of developers and "flippers" for the fact that Florida is more seriously affected than almost any other State.The history in Florida, of our “planning legislation” being ignored and changed, is well-known. Our so-called representatives completely ignore the desire of ordinary people in local communities to maintain or improve their existing quality of life.

Ordinary people, such as those unfortunate folks who live in Tamarac, who tried to convince their local and county commissioners that a land use change to allow housing on their golf courses was a bad idea. Those folks are now reading about commissioners taking bribes to make that land use change happen.

Florida is full of those kinds of stories. I could tell you of many in my city of Deerfield Beach. Elected officials have clearly lost the trust of the voters, and nothing that the voters will hear from those that they connect with--business, government, or chambers of commerce--will change their minds. They view those anti Amendment 4 speakers as merely spreading self serving misinformation.

I have good news for you about Amendment 4. It will not, as you have been misinformed, clog up the ballots with hundreds of “vote on everything” referenda. Here’s the straight story: In 2006 Ft. Lauderdale had one change to their comprehensive plan, in 2007 they had 1 and in 2008 they had 1, In 2006 Pembroke Pines had 7, 1 in 2007, and 2 in 2008.

Amendment 4 is not a “job killer.” Right now, our city and county land use plans have, on the books, designations that could allow development for over 100 million people. The jobs that opponents are saying will be lost are construction jobs which dried up when the real estate bubble burst and construction collapsed. Keep in mind that the current economic mess has caused Florida’s population to drop.

With the population drop and the vast surplus of existing houses, the need for additional housing in the near future will be low. Also, businesses relocating to Florida will find plenty of space already designated for commercial or industrial use, with no need for comprehensive land-use changes, enough for decades to come. Businesses, which supply high paying jobs, want to locate in stable communities with good schools, uncongested roads, excellent municipal facilities and a good source of well educated young people. Those are the kinds of jobs Florida needs and can readily attract if we can learn to substitute Florida’s traditional boom-bust Ponzi economy with well considered land-use plans. Continuing with the status quo is just stupid.

The sensible planning encouraged by Amendment 4 will, as the economy recovers, promote a stronger, more diversified economy based on permanent, productive jobs, safeguarding our future, and the resources and beauty of this State. Far from harming the economy, sensible control of development will help the economy. By supporting Amendment 4, you can help Florida become prosperous and happy again. Amendment 4 represents real change for REAL, beneficial growth.

Bett Willett
Deerfield Beach

Hands-On is Hands-Off

Comment Up

Commissioner Grimm said it best last night--it was all about “communication, communication, communication."

This is all about a Sunshine Law situation that was circumvented on purpose with forethought. It appears that Hands-On-Consulting has been communicating with the CRA Director who has NOT been communicating their progress to her Board. Why is this going on? The only reason for this to be happening is to keep the plans and progress (if there is any) OUT OF THE SUNSHINE. Perhaps the Board should be communicating with its Director. This, as well as past Boards, seems to protect its Director regardless. They are just as responsible for this situation.

Joan Olivia
Have the Director give some specific direction to give to Hands-On. Have them develop a web site. Develop a program. Develop a “brand.” Develop a strategy. If this group can not perform because of market conditions, and all the other reasons given last night or if they have been told "not to worry about it" per the Director, then do not renew the Contract and count your losses. Let’s not prolong the agony for another mistake by a previous CRA Board with one former member that voted on hiring this company, defending them last night.

Hands-On has been Hands-Off. They have not performed one thing under the Contract and if they have, only the CRA Director knows what they have done as they communicate with her regularly and sometimes on a "DAILY basis." They say the plan is all "in their head." They did a "head game" on the Board last night that was trying its best to be polite and get answers. The CRA Board says it wants to see tangibles. The CRA Director has allowed this circumstance to occur with Hands-On and someone has led them to believe that it is the City Commission's fault for their lack of progress. Joan Olivia was silent throughout the entire process.

The City residents had no say a year ago when this decision was made as to how their city was going to look. The CRA made a major decision, good or bad, to have Lake Worth become an artist destination. One year later, we are where we started. One year later we have spent $200,000 with nothing to show for it and NO promises of any performance in the future with a CRA Director that is a party to the lack of transparency.

It is time to get concrete answers and to know if they have ANY possibility of performing. If we can not get them properties, then we need to stop this now. Demand that Hands-On Report in the Sunshine. Let's make this Board accountable or you will have a whole lot more questions from our elected officials. Demand that your Director keep you apprised of all progress. I am rather sure that the city commission will have no problem in communicating to you its displeasure and then we will see how "independent" you really are.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You Don't Have a Credit Card to Get into Heaven


I have seen John Giragos for nearly four decades. If you can dare describe a man as "lovely," he was. The Church of St. Luke's was filled to capacity today as we remembered his life. He did a lot for our city and in many ways put Lake Worth on the map.

Those I happened to see and recognize this morning at the service were Michelle Seifert, Betty Resch, Barbara Aubel, Laurence and Dee McNamara, Katie McGiveron, Helen Marino, Greg Rice, Tom Ramiccio, Ann Harvey, John Harvey, Mark Foley, Jack McDonald, Mayor of Palm Beach, Barry Freedman, Lorraine Bowe, Commissioners Jennings, Golden and Mulvehill, Mayor Rene Varela and City Manager, Susan Stanton.

John was such an integral and important part of Lake Worth's family for 37 years at our beach. As an immigrant, he came to America, worked hard, became a citizen, gave back to his country and to his family. He didn't come here looking for hand-outs. He did it all the old fashioned way--by giving an honest product for a hard day's work.

His legacy will be memorialized each time we visit or walk by John G's, an all cash restaurant now owned and operated by three of his children. We all had a chuckle when the Priest talked about John being in heaven when he said, "You don't have a credit card to get into heaven; it's all cash."

South Florida Fair 2010

Blame it on the economy, but the South Florida Fair lacked excitement this year. In the past several years, they have eliminated having a really top signature event like the ice show. Dennis Lee did not appear on the days we went and the main attraction, America's National Parks Expo, left a lot to be desired. The arts and crafts booths usually in the main building as you enter were not there this year but inside was some great art. Photography by Clyde Butcher was worth the admission price. Opening day handicapped parking cost $10. By the time we returned on a Saturday, it had doubled in price. Everything you bought started at $6 except for the ice tea at 75 cents. It is a time, however, to get a lot of exercise, people-watch and be a part of the ambiance.


Golfers, a Rare Breed

Recently, I had that yearly reminder that I was older. Nothing much good about birthdays other than those who remember wish you well and you get taken to lunch to some nice place, not to mention that you actually made it through another year in good health and not with too many bumps.

Atlantis CC

I was at Atlantis Country Club and got to watch the golfers from the window while having lunch. There is something about men golfers unlike all the rest of the athletes. They are a special breed. I was married to one. I dated a pro at one time. I know all about them. You’ve heard about golf widows? Trust me. Even if you play golf, they will reluctantly put up with you but they really don’t want to play with you. They are serious. They are always in competition with themselves first. It's all about self-ability and a constant competition to beat their best score. You never hear them complain about the cold or the wind but just it "was a great day." They all believe that they are just a little closer to heaven while on the course and if they had a choice of being anywhere, it would be on the nearest green.


Anything goes to make the shot!

Golfers always have complete control over their emotions unlike a lot of contact sports. Appearance, vocalization and body language are important. :)


Snow? No problem
Just use a red golf ball
Golfers don’t just like playing the game; they love playing the game. I have never met one yet who was not obsessed with it. They will play under any type of condition. And that’s no joke. They will drive anywhere with their friends to play just to hit that little ball. It is a bonding thing with men.

I told you that they were obsessed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

1000 Lake Avenue

1000 Lake Avenue

The CRA has all sorts of exciting things happening now. First was the $23 million neighborhood stabilization grant through HUD. This will be such a positive effect on the City of Lake Worth as these monies are expended for demolition and rehabilitation in our CRA district. We were one of 60 grantees across the country.

Now the CRA has the opportunity to purchase the above property that is adjacent to City Hall. Over the next four years, it will be paying $850,000 in lease payments to the owner. It will be spending another $345,000 in the rehab of this historical structure.

The Contract for Sale (Exhibit B) was not in the back-up only the Lease agreement. Perhaps that was page 9 that was missing. Come to City Hall tomorrow night at 6pm and hear why this purchase is recommended.

Also, Mark Parrilla will be giving a presentation on solar energy which he recently installed at his home.

Chemical Ali Hanged

Chemical Ali executed for the 1988 poison gas attack that killed 100,000 Iraqi Kurds and other killings and atrocities.

As the human costs keep increasing and the war is bankrupting America, it is time to pull out. Our occupation officially ended when we turned over full sovereignty to Iraq on June 28.

Find a Soup Kitchen

"Work somewhere in a soup kitchen or something
if you can't take the pressure."

Any political position has pressure. Any job affiliated with politics has pressure. Any job that has responsibility of any kind has pressure attached to it. You will always get the complainers. In our city you get much more than that. Our economy has produced a pressure never experienced before by workers as companies downsize. Budget cuts and hiring freezes have added to the responsibilities of all those workers still with jobs. Sometimes there is just too much work for employees. But even if there isn't, they lose their enthusiasm and start to complain to anyone who will listen as departments are asked to cut budgets, watch for waste and become more efficient. Sometimes it is the simplest of things like reporting to their boss once a week that will provoke the complaint.

In my last job I worked long hours as does our City manager. I didn't complain, nor does she. I did not get extra compensation for those hours; neither does she--it is part of the job. I just liked to work and I really enjoyed the self-satisfaction I received from doing the job better than the next guy. Here we have many people protected by Unions that just don't want to do anything over and above their job description. Afterall, they have the "right to complain" or so they believe.

When you have a city in crisis as we do in Lake Worth, it takes a city manager who can make the tough decisions. Because of past city managers, we are in the mess that we are in today. Because of past managers, employees are used to the status quo and not having to answer for anything. They feel offended if they are asked "What's going on?" I believe that this is the major change within our city that has attributed to the stress, real or invented, of some employees. When the CM asks them to write a written report, they say it is micro-managing and that is just an excuse to rebel against any added duty.

We hired a city manger to clean up the mess. We didn't hire Mother Teresa. If we do not get on track here we will not have a city in five years. Let's allow her to do the job. For all those who believe that they don't have to listen to their boss or if they can't take the pressure, there's always that soup kitchen.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who Runs the Store?

Comment Up
Dilbert
Sunday, January 24, 2010

Scott Adams has a keen sense of explaining management and the workplace. He gets into the heart and soul of it. Today's comic strip depicts exactly what is going on in our city. If you can't read the cartoon, go to Dilbert and read it.

We have a City Manager who has put out a weekly Report that includes information from her department heads. This Report has been received well within the City and very much appreciated. Her Directors have been complaining about the amount of time it takes to give her this information. Can you even imagine that happening in the "real" world...the corporate world? It would never happen. To even argue with your boss is unimaginable. You present a case; you do not argue. You never tell your boss you do not have the time.

The boss, on the other hand, needs to be above the argument and to handle diversity with professionalism not expletives. Correct the wrongs going forward. Value staff; encourage their input but correct them when they err. Getting to a middle ground from both Staff and our CM is needed. Perhaps a compromise of a bi-weekly or a monthly report is in order. Would this be a solution?

The CEO is the one ultimately responsible for the operations. If, in this case our City Manager, does not get the facts, she is responsible for the final outcome, like moving a parking lot at Bryant Park as an example. How much time does it really take for a department chief to report once a week to their boss to compile a newsletter?

We have the same citizens moaning and groaning and a couple of politicians (Varela and Maxwell) feeding into their frenzy. Putting politics aside, I believe that they mean well and are just trying to act on complaints. In the same token, the minority Commission must take the CM more seriously. We have some employees who just don't like change and now side with whomever will agree with them to get out of this or that dastardly "chore"-- accountability to their boss and to the taxpayer of Lake Worth. We have a city manager who is frustrated that her very process in running the city has been undermined and has resorted to alleged verbal behavior that has resulted in Staff's supposed emotional well-being and feeling of worth.

My solution: Have the Human Resource Director report to the City Commission as far as complaints against the City Manager. Right now the HR Director reports to the City Manager, the very person that some staff feels is the problem. This is a conflict of interest and very possibly the result of some employees meeting out of the city with a Commissioner in order to vent. They believe that they have no where to go. Let's stop the abuse from all involved--citizens, commissioners, the CM as well as staff.

To even consider for one moment of making this city less transparent and less accountable by the elimination of the City Manager Report is not acceptable. It is time for all to get back on track. In the end, it is the taxpayer that pays for this "store."

There is no "Case" for Hand Guns

Comment Up

I want to say it again for one last time, guns kill. This is for all of you out there who hide behind the archaic 2nd Amendment that is not absolute. This is for all of you who say; well I only kill an animal for food and then leave the torso of a full grown alligator on US Hwy 27 without its head. This is for all you out there who say we have the right to bear arms for protection and then shoot your entire family to death because you have some depression.

This is for all of you who say that if we ban guns, only criminals will have guns. Ban handguns in this country and you will see crime go down. You will see less gang murders. You will see fewer killings caused by domestic disputes. You will see less armed robberies. Get tough on gun laws. Anyone committing a crime with a gun goes to prison for at least 30 years with no negotiation—if it is murder—life or the chair. Some punk kid who kills his teacher “just because,” goes immediately to jail, no appeal. Simple solution.

I have heard all your arguments before and I am not interested. Personally, I am sick to death of the NRA and spending multi-millions to defeat the Brady Bill and sicker yet of the entire supply side of the gun business that have been a party to typical greed over human life and ignore the statistics on death by guns. Tell it to our Supreme Court when they told us that background checks are unconstitutional but the bill was upheld anyway. Tell it to James Brady, shot with a hollow-point "devastator" bullet that exploded the right frontal lobe of his brain during an attempted assassination of President Reagan and who is a parapalegic for the rest of his life. Tell it to all those who own a gun for protection because of our liberal gun policies that are out of control giving the United States the distinction of being in the top 25 countries in the world for murder per capita by guns.

Tell it to the Jacobson family, Franki, Eric and Joshua who were just shot to death at their home in Wellington by their sick and cowardly father.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Off to the Fair

Another day at the South Florida Fair
See ya later!

Staghorn Coral Loses - Palm Beach Wins


Blame it on the wealth or the vast influence on the island of Palm Beach, but the Island is just a little bit closer to killing the 2,400 sq. ft of Staghorn Coral reef located off its shores.

Reef Rescue was looking for added protections from the National Marine Fisheries Service for this endangered Staghorn Coral. They were turned down. The Agency believes that it would take years of study and they do not have the time. Therefore, they took the easy way out and concluded that the protections in place since November 2008 are sufficient.

Palm Beach is closer to dredging and filling with dirt sand. Why don't they use all that money and just haul in good sand for their beach re-nourishment projects that will continue until the Earth stops.

If Chutzpah could fill a Pothole...

Comment Up

You’ve got to give it to her – Strong mayor Lois Frankel has a lot of chutzpah…a non-conformist with gutsy audacity.

West Palm Beach had applied for a Stimulus Grant, never received. She decided to go to the top and speak with President Obama and plead her case for $50 million. Afterall, the money was not going to be used this time as an ode to herself but to help a poor neighborhood. Fox News picked up on her visit to Washington and yesterday she was interviewed by Neil Cavuto. Great publicity for her city.

Several years ago she was the one who plowed ahead building a huge new City Center for $154 million (her own private bathroom cost $13,323) in spite of a certified referendum to vote on the project. Opponents said that she had over-stepped her authority—that it should have gone out for a vote. There were law suits that went all the way to the Florida Supreme Court where the people won. Also, the PB Post had revealed that the original contractor she hired had put a city commissioner on its payroll, a definite conflict of interest. This resulted in a grand jury investigation and pay-to-play was on everyone’s lips.

This time she was thinking about her taxpayers. Instead of West Palm Beach picking up the entire bill, she would see if all of America would pay it. The President said, “no, we have a big pothole out there and not enough asphalt to fill it.”


Friday, January 22, 2010

It Comes in Threes - William A. Boutwell

Comment Up

William Arthur Boutwell Jr, 93, died Wednesday in Jacksonville. He was a graduate of Lake Worth High School, Class of ’34. He had worked in the family dairy business since 1929 when it was first established until it was sold in 1965. I believe it was sold to T. G. Lee Dairies, a division of Dean Foods whose main plant is in Orlando.

The Boutwells were one of Lake Worth’s prominent families. Back when I was a kid, Boutwell Dairy was west of Boutwell Road on Congress Avenue in Palm Springs, the only milk that my Mom bought. The other brands of milk back then were MacArthur’s and Bordens. The Boutwells also owned a produce store located on Dixie Highway that sold meat, fruit and vegetables. They owned a building materials store located on South H Street.

His father, W. A. Boutwell, Sr. and the inventor of Half & Half, was very much involved in the development of Lake Worth. He became involved in our city and was the one who proposed the development of our waterfront property that is now the Lake Worth Golf Course. W. Arthur Sr. was Vice Mayor of Lake Worth and served on the School Board. One of Junior's brothers, George Boutwell, was President of the First National Bank in Lake Worth which is now vacant property belonging to Lesley Evans.

A lot of history is passing as we approach our 100th birthday in 2013.

Some bad News and some Good

The BAD NEWS-

A lot of bad news in Lake Worth over the past several days. First John G and now Dick Coffman.

Richard "Dick" Coffman, was a former teacher, Football, Basketball, and Swimming Coach at Lake Worth High School. He lost his courageous battle with cancer this morning. I knew Dick many years ago as he was best friends with another coach who was my friend. I came to know him as fun loving and wanting to bring out the best in all those for whom he taught and coached.

Bob McKnight, former State Legislator and a graduate of Lake Worth High said on his blog recently that he had the most indescribable respect for Dick Coffman. Read more at Bob McKnight's Blog.

The GOOD NEWS-

is that our own Virginia Thomas of Thomas Dance Studio after 8 days from recent major surgery, is now in rehab at Signature Healthcare and doing well. The Director there is another Lake Worth High School grad.

Bryant Park Parking Lot Debaucle

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To try and explain this--

Yes, an earlier Commission approved a project at Bryant Park for $1.39 million.

Well into the project, it was determined that the necessary tie-backs to secure the seawall had to be extended further into the existing parking lot.

The Public Works Manager then made the decision to move the parking lot 150 feet north of that location. It now became a NEW plan. At that point, the scope of work changed. The PLAN changed. It was NOT the Plan originally approved by the former Commission. It was now a DIFFERENT PLAN.

The new plan devised by the Public Works Director had reduced parking. He had to move nearly 40 trees. He never informed his boss, the city manager. He just plowed ahead, literally.

There was discussion that 5th Avenue South now had to become a 2 way street. This is a MAJOR change to a city street.

Say for instance, you contracted with someone to do some extensive work on your house. Everything seems to be going along smoothly until the day you come home from work and you notice your front door has been moved, and now instead of entering into the living room, you enter into the dining room. The contractor never consulted with you. You would be outraged. Afterall, it is your house and you are the one paying the bill based on a plan that was agreed upon. Not only would you fire the contractor, you would sue him.

This employee should have immediately reported his ideas and his reasons to move the parking lot to his boss, the City Manager, who would have then taken it to the City Commission and it would have been discussed at a public meeting.

For The L.W. Herald to say that "no commissioner has any business injecting him/herself into projects already approved on the commission level" is just flat not the case. If that reasoning was correct, we would still have Greater Bay and we would still have PB County water. Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill was catering to the rights of all the taxpayers of this City who actually own this Park and who pay the tab. She took responsibility all because of a major decision made by a staff member, a decision that was not approved nor under his scope of authority.

Who is running this City?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Whitehouse property value plunging


The article asks, "Have you ever wondered how much the Whitehouse is worth?" Even The Whitehouse is not immune to plunging real estate values.

Some interesting facts

Shocking Supreme Court

Today, our Supreme Court helped special interests and opened up the floodgates for further corruption.

“Giving corporate interests an outsized role in our process will only mean citizens get heard less,” said Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “We must look at legislative ways to make sure the ledger is not tipped so far for corporate interests that citizens voices are drowned out.”

"The five-justice majority set aside a century of precedents and conveyed essentially full First Amendment speech rights on corporations in ruling that campaign finance limits are unconstitutional. It could unleash up to $1 trillion in corporate money for attack ads in the next election cycle."

"It's the Super Bowl of bad decisions," said Common Cause president Bob Edgar, a former congressman from Pennsylvania.

Now I know what Rahm Emanuel meant when he said, "When you think about the First Amendment...you think it's highly overrated."

Read more: Supreme Court Overturns finance Laws

Those voting RIGHT were Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Bryer, Sonia Sotomayor.

Why Martha Coakley Lost

Tuesday's election was a wake-up call for Democrats. But I have to wonder why it took an election to finally wake-up?

We all have known about the condition of our country. The people have been telling Washington for well over a year that they do not like the over-spending and they don't like the health-care plan. Mainly voters rejected Coakley because Democrats have not changed the way that Washington does business. It still listens to special interests before the American citizen.

Citizens counted on Obama when he said he was going to make "change we can believe in." Everything is the same as it was except now we are just a heck of a lot deeper in debt.

"Crusin for a Brusin" on Susan?

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Tuesday night our City Manager had to endure a lot of political bull about her performance review. She hasn’t even been here a year yet. It was, “gee, we have to know how to evaluate you in order to ensure that you are meeting all the goals and the review should be done quarterly if possible.” What a bunch of hooey. There were never any set goals other than Section 1. Duties:

As City Manager, Employee agrees to perform the duties and functions specified in the City Charter, and to perform such other legally permissible and proper duties and functions as the City Commission shall from time to time require.

Florida is a very pro employer State. Under Florida law, employment contracts that do not specify a definite term of employment are terminable "at will." In other words, an employee can quit or be fired at anytime for any reason, other than those proscribed by law (e.g., race, sex, handicap, age, etc.). As I remember Stanton's contract, there was a beginning but no end. Employment contracts which specify a definite term of employment are not terminable at will.

First of all, Susan Stanton has been the most transparent city manager in the history of Lake Worth. She puts out a City Manager’s Report every Friday. The only time that the report was halted briefly was when the “Dirty” gave her some grief about e-mails (public information) sent to her and she included them in a report. Also, Ms. Stanton meets with every one of the commissioners on a weekly basis to get them up to snuff as to what she is doing. Commissioners should be evaluating her performance weekly and if they're not, why not? She works from dawn to late at night. No one works harder or longer.

If there is anyone on the Commission that has no idea as to what our city manager is doing and what she has accomplished, then resign now. Ask yourself Mr. Mayor and Mr. Commissioner, how much more of a gauge do you need? If you had attended city commission meetings on a regular basis prior to your elections, you would have known. This insult to our city manager was embarrassing.

Palm Beach Zoo

Peacock at the Palm Beach Zoo

Palm Beach Zoo gets a Leed Certification

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You will be deeply missed

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John Giragos passed away today. He has been an icon at the Lake Worth beach since 1973.

John G's Restaurant has been serving the public for all these years, with it opened 7 days a week, 8 hours a day. When John was younger and active in his restaurant, he used to buy his produce at our local Publix buying fresh vegetables and fruits. Everything was fresh daily and he kept his prices affordable throughout the years building up a tremendous reputation for great food and friendly service. People literally came from all over the world to his beach restaurant for breakfast and lunch. I remember the day when I was in San Francisco and got in a conversation with a woman about Lake Worth. She asked me if I had ever been to John G's.

Deepest sympathies are extended to the Giragos family especially Keith, Jay and Wendy. We sure will miss your Dad.

Manatee County Commissioner gets it right!

Manatee County's Commissioner, Joe McClash, Endorses Florida Hometown Democracy

Witch-Hunt in Lake Worth

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Where's Susan?

It is time for a house-cleaning—again. When Susan Stanton arrived here, she was determined to get our city back on track. She knew we had problems but had no conception of the degree or the cause. After you are on the job for a few months, you usually learn what and who are behind the problems and the state of affairs.

It is human nature to believe in your Staff and give them a chance to perform. Ms. Stanton has enough to do without micro-managing her department heads. Unfortunately, it was some of these very people who were and are stabbing her in the back. She fired many of them. Some are still employed, soon to be revealed.

We brought in a city manager to make the tough decisions. Some employees don’t like the fact that now they even have to come to work on time. Ah gee.

You cannot manage a City of our size without loyalty and respect from your employees. Communication is a must. If you have department chiefs undermining the city manager’s authority and very existence, complaining and whining to Mayor Varela and City Commissioner, Scott Maxwell, whose mission all along was to get Stanton terminated, then you have a city in anarchy.

Last night’s meeting revealed the true problem and state-of-affairs in our City.

Blue to Red

A powerful message

Instead of crashing when I got home last night from an extremely long City Commission Meeting (5.5 hours), I stayed up for the news to see the count on the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts. This was amazing. I never thought I would see the day when a Republican in the most liberal State in the U.S. would win. What does this all mean?

Ever since the Democratic Party has swung to the far left, literally millions of us have been out in the cold (swiped the “out in the cold” expression from our Mayor). We have seen our national debt soar. We have witnessed the give-a-aways. We have endured Nancy Pelosi.

The Stimulus that was put into effect was to create jobs and didn’t. The government rewarded failure and punished success. We have not seen any attempt to tighten security until some idiot tried to blow up an airplane. Our borders are still being invaded. We have a health-care plan in front of us that the majority of people do NOT want nor do they think they can afford. We have a Democratic Party trying to push it through and it says that it will give us a fine if we DON’T buy it. The people have not been taken seriously and their concerns ignored.

What used to be liberal thinking has changed, almost overnight, to far left winged “progressive”and what I continue to call, Socialistic thinking. We ask what in the hell happened to our country? Glenn Beck says that the “progressives” are sucking the life blood out of the Republic; their playbook is to “lie, cheat and steal.” This is an exaggeration of the problem but it depicts our discontent. It is also why so many in the City of Lake Worth are worried. The "Progressives" have taken over and many do not know how our City will end up.

What it all says to me is that people loved Ted Kennedy no matter what. They forgave him his sins and loved him inspite of them. They loved the family starting with our slain President, John F. Kennedy and the entire family was revered. This was their "first family" and their loyalty to this family was resolute. Yesterday they told the country that they did not love the liberalism that had gotten out of control.

37 Democratic seats will be coming up. Will this trend continue?

Scott's on Target

Scott Maxwell says, "Politicians in this State are so scared that you might actually think for yourself — especially when it comes to development in this State — that they don't want to give you that chance."

No, this is not Lake Worth's Scott Maxwell. He's on a totally different role of his own.

Read what Scott Maxwell in Orlando has to say.

Right-of-Way at 13th Ave South

This past Sunday, Tricia Fitzpatrick and a friend went down to the "pocket park" to see how they could help. One of the residents in that neighborhood had complained about the fact that the "city can't maintain anything." This is the normal argument when some people just don't like something and she didn't like the fact that the City wanted to protect these rights of way as public land. They were all set to spend as long as it took to clean up debris and trash.

To their amazement, all they could find was one little, tiny, eeny, weeny piece of styrofoam. I guess the City does know how to maintain property afterall.

Another Earthquake

Another EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI

As people struggle to recover from the devastating 7.0 earthquake that devastated Port au Prince on January 12, killing at least 72,000 people, another one hit this morning.

This poor country.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Taxpayers Screwed

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Taxpayers Screwed out of another $50,000

Haiti and Cuba - like Night and Day


The Post in a recent Editorial speaking about Haiti and Cuba said that "conditions in the two countries are similar.” Other than being in the same hemisphere, they are not similar in any way.

The general “complaint” of the editorial was that we treat illegal Cubans reaching our shores differently than we do Haitians or any other country's populous. That is true. The “wet-foot, dry-foot” rule was devised so that Cubans fleeing from Castro’s Cuba (that the U.S. considered a prison island), would have a chance of reaching freedom in the United States while at the same time deterring a mass exodus. It was a name later given to a policy that originated in 1966 when we were all paranoid about Communists. Since 1994, we annually grant 20,000 Visas to Cubans and many more Cubans want to come to our shores. It is estimated that 16,000 over and above the Visas arrive here inspite of our heavy patrol of the seas. This wet foot-dry foot policy should be revisited.

Haiti has been literally plagued with violence, corruption and dictatorships. The U.S. even managed to get Aristide elected to office just for him to turn out as corrupt as those who came before him. Haiti is highly illiterate and one of the poorest countries in the world. The people are denied basic rights of health and education. The U.S. has been involved with Haiti off and on for a very long time. There is corruption everywhere in Haiti and the capital, Port au Prince, has been paralyzed by kidnappings and people assassinated on the streets in broad daylight. The police are reported to be part of the lawlessness. This is part of daily life there even before the earthquake.

In Cuba, the illiteracy rate is one of the lowest in the world. It has one of the highest qualities of medical care for its people. Its education system is one of the best. It is democratic ever since it overthrew its last dictator, Batista , who was in the hip pocket of the United States, 50 years ago. Cuba’s standard of living is one of the highest in all of Latin America. Cuba has a communist form of government. No other party is allowed to exist. Elections are held. There is no capitalism. Law and order prevail.

The GNP of Cuba is $11 billion and ranked 98th with a population of about 11.5 million. Haiti, with a population of 10 million is ranked 139th, with a GNP at $3.88 billion. The Gross National Product (GNP) is the value of all the goods and services produced in an economy, plus the value of the goods and services imported, less the goods and services exported. If you recall, the United States imposed a total embargo against Cuba in 1962 because of “human rights” issues and they were still ticked off at Castro.

Cuba fought a battle to get rid of corruption and to get rid of a dictatorship and imperialism highly supported by the United States. It won. Haiti, with U.S. intervention off and on throughout the last two centuries, is as corrupt as they come. There is NO comparison of the two countries.

The only difference today between the two is that America still imposes its influence on Haiti. According to former ambassador Brian Dean Curran, the US policy helped to destabalize Haiti in the years leading up to 2004 when Aristide was forced out by armed rebels.

The only similarity between Haiti and Cuba is 90 miles of water that separate them. Other than that, it is like night and day.

Tonight under New Business G, Commissioner Jennings is bringing forth a resolution supporting temporary protection status for Haitians.

Stop Sterling - Palm Beach Election

They may live in mansions and their campaign buttons may be bigger but the affluent who reside on the island of Pam Beach have some concerns that are very much the same as we have in Lake Worth. Preserving their historic buildings are important as is the sand on their beach.

Yesterday, Katie and I were at Bethesda-By-The-Sea distributing Florida Hometown Democracy information. This magnificent church, built in 1889, could not have been a more appropriate place for this meeting as it was hosted by the Palm Beach Theater Guild that wants to preserve the historical Royal Poinciana Playhouse. Just being there made you a part of the history, something that Palm Beach wants to remember and protect. And who can blame them? It is a beautiful town.

Don't think that Lake Worth is the only city with controversial issues. Knowing that Palm Beach had this hot button issue and one that involved development, we stayed to hear the candidates, Cynthia Simonson, with a background in finance and Jeff Cloninger, a real estate broker and an alternate on the Town of Palm Beach’s Planning Board. Jeff actually knew about Florida Hometown Democracy--knew Lesley Blackner and her husband. Everyone who attended the meeting and asked questions were cordial, polite and non-threatening, unlike some of Lake Worth's residents.

Their opponents pulled a "no show" and it might have had something to do with their views on the historic Royal Poinciana Playhouse property. Both Cynthia and Jeff want to maintain the island’s uniqueness and small town charm and both want to preserve historic buildings. They do not want bad development in Palm Beach. Sound familiar?

Campaign Button
I was given a Stop Sterling button. Sterling is the guy (company) that has proposed demolishing the existing John Volk architecturally designed Playhouse that opened within five years of Bethesda-By-The-Sea. The developer wants to build two, 5 story condos and build a new playhouse. There is an agreement in effect with the property owner since 1979 and Sterling wants to ignore that legal document as well as the existing zoning laws.

The Sterling plan is moving forward this week to the PB Preservation Commission.

The election is February 2 and it is an extremely important one for the Island and for all those who know that history is something to preserve and hold dear. We both couldn't help but think, if Florida Hometown Democracy was in effect, politics would never again get in the way of government approving Comp Plan changes that would allow something like this to happen. This beautiful town and its history belong to the people, not a few on a town council and a developer.

Good luck to Cynthia and to Jeff.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dilbert

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Happening here and elsewhere

With the idea of lowering the cost of doing business, outsourcing has cost this country millions of jobs. Read what the SEIU has to say.

The One Eyed Bandit - John Ashley

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Stephen Carr, Lecturer

The John Ashley Story in a nutshell

In Thursday’s Neighborhood News there was a small segment on the Ashley Gang. Coincidentally, Katie had invited me to the Lantana Historical Society’s meeting that night to hear a lecture on, you guessed it, The Ashley Gang.

Stephen Carr, a Lake Worth High School alumnus and former Lake Worth firefighter/paramedic, gave the lecture. He has a love for history and is an amateur archeologist. Having lived in PB County off and on forever, for some strange reason I had no knowledge of the Ashley Gang and wanted to learn more about some of our notorious history. It was an interesting 1.5 hours.

John Ashley, whose one eye was shot out by a foe, along with his girlfriend, Laura, were sort of like the pre Bonnie and Clyde of their day based in the southern half of Florida. John began his career in Pompano cutting wood for the railroad. Soon tired of that, he became a trapper of otters in the Florida Everglades where he met his friend DeSoto Tiger, the son of a former Seminole Chief who became his partner in the otter skin trade. Ashley ended up murdering him on a boat trip to Miami to sell the skins and dumped the body. This is what started his life of crime.

His tentacles reached out all over the State. He was a prolific bank robber and train robber extraordinaire. He and his family were well known. John and his gang stole an estimated $1 million between 1915 and 1924. Robbery, murder mayhem, rum running and moonshine stills were his way of life. He was in and out of jails as well as in Raiford twice where he escaped both times.

In the end, he was betrayed by his lover and murdered while handcuffed by the PB County Sheriff. Stephen Carr said it was his bawdy girlfriend, Laura that turned him in because she thought he was running out on her with their last stash estimated at around $250,000. His crime spree lasted for approximately ten years; John Ashley was only 32 when he was shot to death. Laura ended up taking her own life a few years later by drinking a can of Lysol. The stash was never found and people search for it to this day.

World Earthquakes Past Week

Latest earthquakes in the World Past 7 Days

Barbara Jean sent me this link. Interesting web site.

Mojitos on the Move

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Don't bother putting on your dancing shoes--Mojitos is moving?

On several occasions, Mojito’s plead its case to stay opened longer. The last public plea was at City Hall on August 18, 2009. The owner had his attorney, Dennis Koehler. Koehler, who sounded as if he was in a court room trying a case before a Judge, accused all of us who spoke as “an unruly mob”--typical attorney “double-speak.” Attorneys can do that without flickering an eyelash. Mojito's request?--grant them a waiver allowing them to stay opened until 5am which would enable them to become a nightclub instead of a bar. This would instantly make the property more valuable.

First they were turned down by the P&Z Board. John Paxman recused himself that night because of dealings with the establishment. Three voting for Mojitos on the P&Z were Spinelli (the only one of the trio still on the Board due to his term still in effect), LeBlanc and Foreman. One of them even went so far as to make a disingenuous statement that it was "disingenuous to snatch the rug from under them; it has always been a bar." In spite of our ordinances, Mojitos continued to stay open after 2am. After 80 years, it didn't want to be just a bar.

The majority City Commission had good sense. Turning down Mojito's request were Jennings, Golden and Mulvehill. Clemens and Lowe who voted "for" are no longer in office. This is just another example of responsible government that has taken place with this Commission.

Now we can see first-hand how sincere Mojitos was in its request for a waiver. After they admitted in a public meeting that they had been staying opened way past hours all along, Code got after them and gave them friendly persuasion to close per ordinance. It is moving and selling off its inventory just four months after its failed request. It's a bummer not getting your way in Lake Worth. What's next? New business? The sale of the property?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bryant Park

It is estimated that 38 to 40 trees were moved in the middle of Bryant Park to make way for asphalt! ASPHALT! When are things like this EVER going to stop? Did this ever come before the City Commission for a decision? How can some city employee decide what is best for us?

What it looked like before the move

This Park belongs to all the taxpayers of Lake Worth. Should we not be entitled to have a say?

What it looks like now

Mayor Varela has this on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting.

Photos sent by Bryant ParkNA

A short while ago on Lake Osborne

There are so many great reasons to live in Lake Worth.
I don't have to walk very far to find some of
nature's wonders.

Another unique sunset

Pelican calling it a day

I watched this guy hunting for quite awhile.
He finally caught dinner. He walked over to the bank
and cracked the shell.