Monday, February 28, 2011
Remove Barriers to Growth
Someone very familiar with Lake Worth Utilities wrote the following e-mail with no response from the CM or the Utility Director. It went to both of them.
June 26, 2010
After reading Susan’s proposed budget for calendar year 2010/2011, and knowing as much about your city as I do, I would like to submit a group of revenue generating ideas for you to consider. You and I have already spoken about one, but the remainder may be new to you…….and the city may already be considering some of the other suggestions.
Generating revenue via the installation and maintenance of Private Area Lighting. You and I have spoken about this previously but neither of us put the numbers together.My estimate would be that the City would generate between $80K to $120K per year over and above the cost of the light, the energy costs and the maintenance costs.This is based upon a 3% coverage of your 12,000 customers. You and I both understand that once PAL’s are initiated, that the demand will grow exponentially, especially in the high crime areas.(PAL’s should never be provided to a customer without a signed two year contract.)
Yet another segway off of the same lighting idea would pertain to the area of existing business (outside) lighting. Business’ normally hire outside electrical firms to install lot lighting, and should continue to do so. But, the utility can step in and offer a service that few, if any, business’ consider, or apply.That service pertains to the setting of time clocks and the polishing of glass. While this may not seem worthwhile for the utility to undertake, I can assure you that the return on investment in both good will and dollars is substantial. Car lots, restaurants, stores, etc. are accustomed to spending between $100 and $1,000/month on these outside lights……and that is simply in terms of kwhr usage.
Once your energy savings personnel explain that the cost of your official visiting their place of business once a month to reset the time clocks (no charge to the customer) will result in a yearly savings of hundreds, even thousands of dollars, then the economics becomes clear to the business owner. Then offer a maintenance agreement at “Rates For Outside Services” and you have become an integral part of all business’ who wish to participate.The revenue generated from this will be minimal (one-half of all up & down labor costs) – or $25K to $50K per year, but the good will and off peak loading will be enormous.
Lock in long term fuel prices. Slowly convert all fleet vehicles to diesel and lock the price in. Once fuel goes back up, it will stay there. Remember, Southwest Airlines has maintained a positive cash flow throughout the hard times by using this strategy. Potential savings could be as much as $400K/year for your fleet and that is if gas prices only go up $2 from your contract price. All new customers, whether they be residential or commercial, should be paying the full cost of service – including all labor costs.Those customers who require substantial changes to infrastructure should pay those costs also.STOP giving your services away!
As a contractor, I was the first, and possibly only, person at the LW Utility to charge a private contractor all up and down labor and unsalvageable material costs. (This was for the apartment building south of Lake Worth Beach) Upgrades and service costs should be calculated by the Estimator and paid by the customer prior to the crew setting a foot on the customer’s property. While this is not a revenue generator as such, the cost savings to the Utility in give-aways could be as much as $300K -- $500K per year.
Customers should be billed all ‘Up & Down Labor’ costs for all temporary services. Again, this is not a revenue generator as much as a revenue saver. Dollars saved here can be used elsewhere.
Possibly the largest revenue generator outside of a new commercial business would be the renegotiating of all of your “Foreign Attachment” contracts. Ask your attorney’s to negotiate new fees to both Cable TV and all of your Bell providers. Increase you attachment fees (per attachment or per pole) to a minimum of $15 --$30/year per pole. This will typically generate between $500K and one million dollars annually for a city of Lake Worth’s size and area. Conduct a safety and NESC audit at the same time you are doing the attachment audit and charge each company a replacement fee for any outstanding code violations which are caused by them.This will permit you to upgrade your system while correcting all code violations.Establish a min-max (Just-in-Time) stores handling system. While this will not generate revenue in the strictest sense, it will save valuable dollars overall.
Possibly the single largest expense to the utility is in overtime hours. Eliminate these by reducing your SAIDI numbers.My guess is that you currently have a SAIDI number between 400 and 600.By reducing this to a SAIDI 50 and returning the savings to the utility for system upgrades, you will achieve the highest levels of reliability while saving the City dollars at the same time.
Much of what I have just stated will depend entirely upon how proficient your Estimating personnel are at conducting the day-to-day business of the utility.Record keeping and mapping are an essential part of the aforementioned savings and I assume that your departments are up to the task.I have provided upwards to one million/year in savings and revenue generating ideas. And, while these ideas are only a small portion of a much larger picture, it is easy to see where the city can generate revenue’s while maintaining a high standard of service.If the same ideas were applied to the other departments, then there might even be light at the end of the budgetary tunnel.
I appreciate our city commission--everyone on it. I believe that they are doing their best to make the right decisions for Lake Worth. However, some are much more negative than others even to the point of questioning their own ability to get things done.
In today's PB Post, Scott Maxwell is quoted as saying, "The Commission has plenty to do balancing the budget and overseeing Lake Worth Utilities without having the CRA's responsibilities." I will challenge any commissioner if one even thinks he has a clue on the Budget and especially an understanding of Lake Worth Utilities, the dark hole. They haven't even authorized a forensic audit of our Utility to even find out what is going on there.
When it comes to being responsible for tax payer money, our elected officials are the only ones who should be in charge. When you have a Director who does not return phone calls or will not return e-mails and board members who have publicly said that "they can do it better than any elected official," it is time to take back the CRA a voluntary Board appointed by the Commission. It is all about responsibility of millions of taxpayer dollars not to mention the NSP2 grant.
Allow Andy Amoroso, Vice Chair of the CRA, to understand that you are not just trying to "grab the money" and that it is all about poor and improper decisions of taxpayer dollars. He can then publicly apologize to all of you and to all of us. That comment alone, shows that those responsible for CRA decisions are not.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Backed by some Democrat hot shots, Paula Ryan, mayoral candidate in West Palm Beach, has an interesting resume and her companies were successfully sued several times. Ryan wants to re-write West Palm Beach's Comprehensive Plan as she says that she is a specialist in urban planning. Read about it HERE.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
|Crime Alert for today, February 26, 2011, which spans the last week.|
|Other Sexual Offense||1|
A House committee on Thursday approved three of the most controversial environmental bills to arise prior to the start of the 2011 session.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee approved HB 13 dealing with septic tanks, HB 457 dealing with local fertilizer regulations and HB 421, involving agricultural exemptions from water management district permits.
HB 13 by Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, would repeal 2010's requirement that septic tanks be inspected every five years. The Legislature voted in November to delay implementation from Jan. 1 to July 1 in response to complaints from affected homeowners. "At a time we are trying to reduce government and make it more in favor of our citizens, this is an exciting bill," Coley told members of the subcommittee.
Representatives of the Small County Coalition of Florida and Hillsborough County said they supported the bill. But a Sierra Club Florida representative said the inspections are needed to protect water quality and public health. The Florida Department of Health estimates 10 percent of the state's estimated 2.7 million septic tanks are failing, according to a bill analysis.
The Florida Onsite Wastewater Association, Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Home Builders Association and Florida Realtors are working on alternative bill language to establish criteria for allowing local governments to have their own inspection programs. HB 13 was approved 12-1.
A similar bill in the Senate, SB 168, was approved by the Senate Health Regulation Committee by an 8-4 vote after some senators raised concerns about doing away with the inspection requirement.
HB 457 would prohibit local governments from regulating fertilizer use unless they use a state model ordinance. A similar bill was filed last year in response to Pinellas County banning the sale of lawn fertilizer during the summer rainy season.
Rep. Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola and sponsor of HB 457, said allowing local governments to adopt their own regulations would create a "patchwork" that is difficult for businesses. The Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association and Associated Industries of Florida supported the bill. But the bill faces opposition from the Florida Association of Counties, the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Stormwater Association, Audubon of Florida and Sierra Club Florida.
Sixteen local governments out of more than 400 in Florida have adopted stricter regulations than the state model fertilizer ordinance, said Stephen James, representing the Florida Association of Counties. "It's not like local governments are chomping at the bit to adopt these more stringent ordinances," James said. "The bill seems like it's trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer." The committee voted 10-3 to approve the bill.
Regarding HB 421, state law since 1984 exempted agriculture from permitting by water management districts for "normal and necessary" agriculture and forestry operations, according to a bill analysis. In 2009, a court ruled in favor of the St. Johns River Water Management District in a case involving A. Duda and Sons Inc., one of the state's largest farming operations. The court said law changes had virtually eliminated the agricultural exemption as it relates to altering wetlands.
Rep. Leonard Bembry, D-Greenville, introduced HB 421, which would specify the exemption in state law dating back to 1984 for activities that divert water flow or affect wetlands. Supporters include the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. A St. Johns Water River Water Management District representative said the agency is working with Bembry on its concerns about the bill.
Audubon of Florida Executive Director Eric Draper warned the committee that the bill would remove the districts' important environmental permitting responsibilities for draining agricultural land. "Slow this one down for a minute and take another look at it and make sure you heard the water management districts," Draper told the committee. Frank Matthews, an attorney representing Hay LLC, an arm of Consolidated Tomoka Land Co., said the bill is "simply a do-no-harm bill to say, 'Let agriculture continue in this state as it has for 27 years pursuant to this exemption.'"The committee voted 12-1 to approve the bill.
Friday, February 25, 2011
There has been much to say about the Lake Worth Census--why aren't the facts out yet? What's going on? People have actually inferred that those involved did something wrong. I had a Commissioner ask me about the delay. The census takers didn't do anything wrong but did everything right and worked their butts off to boot.
Census data for Florida will be out by April 1, 2011.
Read his letter on the Defense of Marriage Act.
Kent Murry, is the son of Ken Murry, one of the developers of LakeSide Point Gardens in Lake Worth, Florida, a community that was developed in 1965-66. Later his dad went on to build Murry Hills. He was a young kid of privilege back in those days. His dad was good looking, an entrepreneur and built a good product. I say this because we have withstood every major hurricane in the past 46 years and this community is solid.
His father got into financial problems. The story goes that many Murry Hills residents who had paid Ken Murry couldn't get clear title to their condos; Murry had failed to pay his sub-contractors. He was forced to clear the titles and make them whole. Finances drove him to "easy money." He become a drug dealer and his kid followed suit...like father, like son. If we can't rip people off from having a roof over their heads, we will just rip them off with a substance that plays with their heads.
In the late 1970s, Kent, the son, who it was said packed an assault weapon, was dealing in marijuana. A lot of people were smoking it--it was the "cool" thing at that time. The Hippy generation had already arrived the decade before. All the seeds had been planted by the "times" and his father's influence. He was arrested at Lantana Airport by vice agents on smuggling charges. He was later arrested again for dropping 4,500 lbs of marijuana.
His Dad was involved in a conspiracy charge to commit murder of “Goat” Roper, an employee of his in the drug trafficking trade and who was shot to death right before the trial began. Goat was about to testify against him for drug dealing. It was said that "Goat" was a redneck Cocaine Cowboy who knew where his bread was buttered if he didn't want to go to prison along with his boss. He was going to "snitch."
Through the decades, Kent, the son, has been in and out of prison and eventually got into the “pain pushing" drug business. Usually people grow up, but not Kent. Now instead of a young 23 year old involved in drugs, he is a senior citizen involved in a different type of drug--prescription. Perhaps he thought there was a ring of legitimacy to it as all of us Seniors feel pain from time to time. After all, he was dealing with doctors. He was back in the news yesterday regarding pain clinics. Drug agents charged him with doctor shopping and trafficking in prescription painkillers, saying he "duped prescribers in doctor visits dating to 2007."
Back in February 2010, the Lake Worth Commission voted to put a moratorium on pain clinics. It came back to the Commission on August 17, 2010 and on a 5/0 vote, it was decided to regulate pain clinics and extend the moratorium for another 180 days. The moratorium is now up and it is time to pass a Resolution banning them altogether.
Read about it HERE.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Former Mayor of Lake Worth and now a member of our State Legislature, Jeff Clemens said, "If we're taking five percent out of people's salary that they don't have today, that's a tax."
This is typical Clemens.
Read more about it at The Orlando Sentinel.
The local Chamber of Commerce is always getting into the political act. It says "it is not political," words right out of the mouth of its Director, Beth Johnston. Now it is encouraging residents as well as out of towners to come to the meeting on March 1 and speak out for keeping the politically appointed CRA as an independent body.
Here is Ms. (non-political) Johnston's message:
She then goes on to list the CRA's "accomplishments."
One of the founders of Florida Hometown Democracy, Ross Burnaman, has been involved in a law suit. His client, Richard Burgess, has kept a development on hold that was considered sprawl by every agency in existence, Hammock Creek Green in Edgewater. Even Pelham of the DCA had agreed with him that it was out of compliance. Rick Scott essentially kicked Pelham to the curb and recently appointed Billy Buzzett to head the DCA. Billy Buzzett, involved in Florida real estate development for many years, currently serves as the vice-president of strategic planning for the St. Joe Company the largest landowner in the State of Florida.
Hammock Green eventually made major changes to its original plan and now Audubon has even approved it.
We congratulate Mr. Burgess for pursuing this case which forced the developer to make major changes but he still believes the project is just flat wrong. Recently he said, "We're going to end up with just another big empty development on the downside of the largest bubble we've ever seen in the country on excess housing. It's insanity."
Norma Kenya says, "Unless modern man learns to tame his greed and overconsumption, he is destined to destroy himself in the name of “development.” Development without a moral compass is unethical.
It probably is but the deck is getting more and more stacked against the residents of Florida as developers are desperate for work at any cost. Scott is taking away all protections leaving the decisions to local elected officials, the ones who have been the problem all along. And now we learned earlier, impact fees have exploded to 505% from 1993 to 2004 and are continuing to rise as our communities respond to explosive growth and local governments will not be able to compose or collect these fees from the developer.
A House panel on Wednesday passed a measure to re-enact provisions of a 2009 law that makes it more difficult for local governments to impose impact fees for new development. It passed in Committee, 14/1 with Mark Pafford the only dissenting vote.
Read more about it.
The E-Verify program is an effective tool for employers to use to check the eligibility of new hires to be employed legally.
E-Verify is a partnership effort between SS and DHS. Companies can use the system directly or through a designated e-verify agent if they wish or should they not have a computer system.
In 2005 the employment verification program went national with a tiny number of only 1,533 companies voluntarily participating in the free, fast and highly accurate program. Growth of the program has been dramatic as today there are over 243,000 companies with over 834,000 work sites voluntarily using the system; an increase of 158 fold in just five years.
In 2010 there were over 16,000,000 employment queries submitted. Most responses are within seconds of a query. The current system is powerful enough to handle every company in the U.S.A. needs if they enrolled on the system today.
In 2010, One in four new hires in the nation were processed through the E-Verify employment verification system.
1,400 companies weekly enroll in the voluntary program nationwide.
Employer satisfaction with the E-Verify system is over 90%.
Florida currently has 10,000 companies with over 39,000 statewide locations currently enrolled.
Mandatory E-Verify in Florida means all new hires will be legal workers. Wages earned in Florida will be spent in Florida and not sent out of the country.. Denied employment illegal aliens will self-deport dramatically reducing the costs currently to educate, medicate and incarcerate them. Without job opportunities, illegal aliens will stop coming to Florida.
Pass SB 518 and the House version HB 691 this session. Floridians have waited over a decade for the illegal immigration chaos and anarchy to end.
Call House Speaker Dean Cannon 850/488-2742 and 407/623-5740
Call Senate President Mike Haridopolos 850/487-5056 and 321/752-3131
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Obama and Justice Department say it can no longer defend marriage only being between a man and a woman.
Another law on the books is meaningless as the Obama administration says it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage.
At Tuesday's City Commission Workshop, the commission discussed the Budget with first quarter results and projections going forward. The present commission required that the city manager present a quarterly projection so that the commission can be assured that the budget is on track. That's why we got this projection. The bosses, (who often times forget that they are the boss) told the CM to provide it.
When making a Budget, the Finance Department uses statistic and figures from two previous years to estimate revenues and expenditures. From this report, it indicates that "all departments are showing additional funds are needed to cover the delayed implementation of the union contract changes."
There were a few things that struck me immediately and I mention them below.
The cost of Public Safety has been a contentious issue in Lake Worth with some very hot and vocal residents saying that "we want the PBSO at any cost." The following projections were given with them in mind as these costs reflect on every department's budget within the City. When you drive over your next pot hole, think about that.
Sheriff costs: 14,632,977 or 49.22% of the Budget
Fire costs: $2,298,456 or 7.73% of the Budget
Total costs of Public Safety = 56.95% of the Budget Revenues
The City Manager stated that she is not paying the supplement to Palm Beach County for Fire/Rescue of $175,500. This figures reflects the amount due on February 1 for January and February 2011. In the original Contract, we were to pay a supplement of $1,050,000 a year for the first 2 years and $1,300,000 per year after that due in 4 equal payments on the first of December, February, April and July. We still owe the amount provided by Finance so it appears in the figure above.
We also wonder how these decisions are being authorized. There has never been a public discussion on not paying this amount or I just was not present to hear it. Are these types of decisions being made out of the Sunshine in these weekly one-on-one meetings? If the Commission is indeed in the dark, then I would think that this could/will hurt the reputation of the Commission as well as the reputation of the City of Lake Worth. Why didn't the Commission ask the CM for further explanation on withholding payment per Contract when she mentioned it yesterday? Did they already know about it?
Under the Capital Project Fund there is one line item entitled General Improvements. Commissioner Mulvehill was the only commissioner who asked Finance to bring back a break-down of that item amounting to $2,223,610. Is this a Slush Fund? No one knows and it will be interesting to see what Finance does with this request.
And I still want to know where all the millions went that were in the Beach Fund. An Internal Auditor is desperately needed.
Congressman West closed his retort by referencing the Fort Hood shootings and 9-11 attacks, saying that his first hand experiences on the battlefield has given him insight into the tactics that Islamists use before telling Hamze not to “try to blow sunshine up my butt” with his criticism of him. West took offense to Hamze’s amateurish criticism of his stance on radical Islam and concluded by telling Mr. Hamze to “put the microphone down and go home.”
"I and my big mouth, with millions of dollars from special interests, single handedly ruined the entire State of Florida."
The only thing for which Allen West and I disagree is the EPA when he said he wanted to cut its budget. He did not give specifics but I believe he was objecting to Obama wanting to give anyone who bought an electric car a tax credit of $7500. I agree with him there. Read about the EPA's Seven Priorities.
What do a lot of these cities on the list have in common? Red-light cameras.
Orlando, Florida came in at number 7. It installed red-light cameras, which in the first three months of use generated 700 tickets. So, the next time you take that trip to Disney, drive slowly or big brother will get you.
Jacksonville is also on the list. Great place to catch all those college students speeding to get to class. Read more about it HERE.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
See, I told you that you were deficient. You are a guy and you clicked that on.
I guess from writing a blog, the most interesting item on the Agenda at today’s City Commission workshop was that of Civility at Public Meetings, or if you will, the freedom of speech.
We all get blasted from time to time from someone who has another point of view. If you bring up politics even with friends, they will loudly put you in your place if they don't agree. On a blog, particularly when it is anonymous, some people can be very rude. We chalk it up to just part of the territory and think nothing more about it. It’s the same feeling I get when I speak at City Hall and the entire Dais ignores me.
The Golden Rule has been around for centuries and it is the standard that different cultures use to resolve conflicts—treating all people with consideration, not just members of your own group. The Mayor brought up this rule today when speaking about standards for public speaking.
We have some meetings that are more controversial than others and a few people get a little hot at times. It is rare. They actually make jerks of themselves at the lectern and they don’t care. We all sit in our pews with embarrassment or even shock at times. “I can’t believe he said that,” we think to ourselves. “God, I would never say that...calling someone a cockroach.” We remember these characters for a very long time--they are a part of Lake Worth. They threaten the City not to step one inch on to their property and scream about it or want to sue. They shout about high electric bills or whatever turns them on that day. They blame the city on anything or everything that makes them unhappy. It doesn’t take much. And being very loud is a requisite of their rudeness.
Some commissioners as well as the city manager are upset with these loud outbursts and even afraid of some people who have spoken in front of the Commission. These citizens have talked loudly and have not spoken according to the Golden Rule or have stopped some commissioners or the city manager in the parking lot after a meeting to scream some more. They have slammed down their hands on the lectern, they have pointed their fingers at specific commissioners, they have uttered inflammatory remarks and are just overall discourteous, bad-mannered, insolent, uncouth, offensive, ill-mannered, vulgar, boorish, and/or disrespectful. The Commission wants to end this behavior.
It goes without saying that people should be polite and cordial and treat others with respect but will this new policy go too far? Will people be subdued to the point of not even bothering to say what they think. There is the slippery slope here. Will the consequence of limiting speech lead us into censorship of what we say or even worse, possibly tyranny? Yes, that is melodramatic but stranger things have happened.
Will a resolution on Rules of Decorum actually make it impossible for citizens to say what they want? As you will only be able to address the Chair, will even looking at anyone else on the Dais cause you to be immediately chastised? Can the government actually do this? By making this policy does it erode or even remove our basic freedom? The City will say “no.” It will even recite a Supreme Court case.
Even by Juarez standards, a deadly 72 hours
February 20, 2011
By Nick Valencia and Arturo Chacon, CNN
Fifty-three people were killed in a 72-hour span in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, making it one of the deadliest three-day periods in recent memory, state attorney general's office spokesman Arturo Sandoval told CNN Sunday.
Among the dead were four police officers from three different agencies, Sandoval said. "This is the worst violence we've seen this year," he said, referring to the three days from Thursday through Saturday. The bloodshed started on Thursday with 14 people killed, including a municipal police officer
"Florida should expand the use of two growth management pilot programs to provide the state with a new focus on large-range planning and the needs of critical areas, Department of Community Affairs Secretary Billy Buzzett said last Tuesday." Note: Buzzett is a former executive with St. Joe Paper Co, the largest land owner in the State of Florida.
"Nancy Linnan offered a presentation on behalf of a Florida Chamber of Commerce's effort to draft a proposal to reform state growth management laws. Other groups supporting the effort are Associated Industries of Florida, the Association of Florida Community Developers, the Florida Association of Home Builders and the Florida Land Council." Read more at The Florida Tribune.
Do you possibly think now that Rick Scott is Governor, that the State will be protected from sprawl? The deck is stacked against smart growth and protecting our State from developers and the Chamber of Commerce's greed on the pretense that growth will produce jobs and jobs are more important than our quality of life.
As George Niemann says, "Many communities are now suffering from congested roads, overcrowded schools, severe water restrictions, declining home values, as well as, real estate taxes that are still too high.
At the root of this problem is the fact that many of our elected officials base their growth decisions on extraneous factors, instead of focusing on what should be the primary decision-making factor — the desires and the best welfare of the citizens who already live in that community.
The vast majority of growth plan changes from the private sector are initiated by business interests, not by your average property owner. If the growth plan doesn't fit the business plan of the developer, they try to modify the growth plans to fit their business need."
Amendment 4 would have been a protection for all of us--we would have had the right to vote on the development if the land-use had been changed by politicians. Also, follow the money--look to see what organizations endorse a candidate. If it is the Chamber of Commerce, Realtors Association, builders groups and the like, run like hell.
Monday, February 21, 2011
My decision to reject the project comes down to three main economic realities:
1. Capital cost overruns from the project could put Florida taxpayers on the hook for an additional $3 billion.
2. Ridership and revenue projections are historically overly-optimistic and would likely result in ongoing subsidies that state taxpayers would have to incur, which could cost from $300 million – $575 million over 10 years.
3. If the project becomes too costly for taxpayers and is shut down, the state would have to return the $2.4 billion in federal funds to D.C.The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits. It is my duty to make sound investments in areas where we will experience a positive return for the shareholders – Florida’s taxpayers.
Let's get to work,
"For a time last week, Madison, Wis. resembled Cairo, Egypt as thousands of protesters descended on the Wisconsin capital to protest Governor Scott Walker's proposal to strip most government workers of their collective bargaining rights. Teachers called in sick and their students marched in protest. Union members bused in protesters for the occasion. Read this article to see what the Wisconsin protests portend...
Watch for much theater out of Washington in the coming days. Elected elites will posture and preen. The press will wail and gnash its teeth over the “draconian cuts” that will lead to “starving children, displaced elderly and hardships for the weakest among us.” And the money printers will continue to churn and dollars will continue to fly out the door.
Meanwhile, when State lawmakers do make the hard choices, those who long sucked off the government teat — led by the thugs directing the government employee unions and egged on by the press — will march on their capitals demanding that its government rape the taxpayers one more time to ensure their cushy arrangement."Read the rest of the article at Personal Liberty.
Part 2 and Conclusion - Cary Sabol, CRA Chair
Scroll down for Part 1
Anyone who claims the CRA is corrupt because we have purchased properties above the county appraiser’s value, I offer you this challenge. Sell your house for the County Appraiser’s stated value. I'm sure you wouldn’t. Furthermore, every dollar we spend from the NSP 2 Program is closely scrutinized by HUD and the Federal Government. If you feel we have improperly managed this Program’s finances, you are free to contact HUD and request an audit.
The simple fact is that the CRA is a victim of its own success. The City of Lake Worth has a $4.5M budget deficit. But the CRA is not in a state of “Financial Urgency.” We have not disregarded the City’s state of Financial Urgency. We simply have no authority to address it. If the CRA was governed by the City at the time the NSP Grant was applied for, there would be no Grant – no $23,000,000.00. The reason that I personally advocated for a salary increase for our Executive Director was due to the simple fact that despite being rejected by the City on more than one occasion, she persisted with the Grant request and brought an additional $23,000,000.00 to Lake Worth that otherwise would have been spent in some other city. I felt a small raise as a reward for bringing $23,000,000.00 to Lake Worth was the least I could offer. If City Manager Stanton were to bring an additional $23M into the City’s budget without raising taxes or the cost of services, I would be the first to support an increase in her salary as well.
In closing, I would like to thank Commissioner Golden and City Manager Stanton for not only highlighting the CRA’s greatest accomplishments over the past few years (i.e. Publix, PBC Cultural Council, Arts Renaissance Program, Bicycle Network Plan, and the Gateway improvements), albeit under the ostensible guise of its greatest failures, but for also advocating against their own rationale for the City’s take over the CRA.
The following is the exact quote which was written as the closing statement in support of taking over the CRA: “The City of Lake Worth has demonstrated, over a long and continuous period of time, an inability to sustain an effective and competent executive team of Department Directors and Utility Directors. The City’s current state of Financial Urgency has been heavily impacted by the City’s inability to recruit, employ and retain professional and competent Finance Directors, Community Development Directors and City Managers.”
I am thankful that the author of this Memo is advocating against the CRA and not for the CRA because this Memo highlights the accomplishments of and the value in having an independent CRA Board and explicitly recognizes that the City has been unable to “recruit, employ, and retain … a professional and competent … CITY MANAGER.”
If those reading this believe Lake Worth would be better served by having the CRA managed by the City Commission, then I respect your opinion and ask that you come to the meeting and express your opinion. If you believe Lake Worth is better served by an independent CRA Board and recognize the accomplishments we have made to the City, then I ask that you also come to the meeting and express your opinion. The date of this meeting is March 1, 2011. Regardless of the outcome, I have enjoyed my time serving on the CRA Board and look forward to continuing to do what I can to make Lake Worth a better place.
Lake Worth Resident
Palm Beach County Native
Mr. Sabol is a practicing attorney and a political appointment of the CRA who was elected Chair by his fellow members. His rebuttal is in two parts--
Under normal circumstances, I would never post a comment on any issues involving my position with the CRA. In this case, however, I feel my position as the CRA Chair requires me to do so in light of the fact that my Board is being wrongfully accused of catering to special interests and being ineffective.
I truly believe that every single member of the current CRA Board has one goal in mind – to improve OUR City. We are not only volunteer board members we are residents of Lake Worth as well. I recognize that various members of our Board (and member of the public for that matter) have different opinions on what is best for Lake Worth, but that is exactly the reason why our Board should remain intact and independent. We are not politicized. We are not influenced by the whims of political emotions. We are not influenced by false and sensationalized accusations of racism and gentrification. We are not influenced by the tyranny of the City Manager. We are not influenced by the misinformation published by local news outlets. We are not influenced by the uninformed opinions of one or two very outspoken members of the community who seek to dramatize our actions so they can stroke their own ego and perpetuate their delusional feeling of self-importance.
The only influence our Board responds to is what we each individually believe is in the best interest of Lake Worth. Sometimes the right carries the vote and sometimes the left carries the vote, which again, is exactly the reason the CRA Board should remain independent and intact. America is a nation built upon compromise and respect for any and all opinions and I truly believe the current CRA Board is a perfect example of what has made America the refuge for all persons who are persecuted and oppressed around the world. Members of our CRA Board often disagree with each other and with the opinions of members of the public, but we do so in a respectful manner and express our opinions with our vote, rather than through personal attacks. Our CRA Board has pledged to debate the issues, not the members and to criticize an opponent’s reasoning, NOT the opponent personally.
To say the CRA has wholly failed to eliminate slum and blight is simply false. Remember, the CRA does not replace the City’s responsibilities to the communities within the CRA District, we supplement it. Before the Gateways were completed, the two main entryways to our City were the poster child for slum and blight. I have heard many stories from business owners and residents that when giving directions to their home or business, they would avoid sending people down 10th & 6th at all costs. Now, the slum and blight has been alleviated along the Gateways. The spill-over effects of the Gateway improvements has already begun, but to completely eliminate the blight of the neighborhoods near the Gateways will be a slow and gradual process, which has unfortunately been further delayed by the economic recession.
Moreover, the CRA single handedly obtained the NSP 2 Grant. Without that Grant, the CRA budget (regardless of who controls it), would be slightly above $1M. However, thanks to the CRA’s vision, diligence and independence, our budget is now over $23,000,000.00, all being spent in a very specific and controlled manner, with one single purpose – to eliminate slum and blight. Not only did the City refuse to assist the CRA in applying for the Grant, they expressly discouraged the CRA from applying for the Grant.
Part 2, the conclusion, coming soon
Note: Mr. Sabol's explanation and opinion on several aspects of his article do not reflect the opinion of Lynn's Little Bit of Trivia. However, we firmly believe that Mr. Sabol has the right to rebut or to "dramatize," knock us, as well as our "egos," on our azz and to use whatever justification he chooses to make his point. We also believe that the CRA is a political Board and members are appointed by politicians. It is the Commission that will have the final say and rightly so.
The following e-mail was sent to Mr. Sabol on Feb 9th. We did not get a response until today when the taking back of the CRA by the LW Commission became a possibility: