Saturday, December 31, 2011
Top Lake Worth Stories 2011
The political firing of Susan Stanton after her 32 months on the job
The November election changed the dais because of a mysterious "vision" as well as vicious politics.
Fire Assessment (grabbing the cash) controversy...still un-resolved.
The Casino construction begins
The Shuffleboard court building returns to the City of Lake Worth and Mentoring Center kicked out
The CRA begins spending the NSP2 grant money of $23 million that it got in 2010.
Publix opens new store--A grand affair--the City had to make a big deal out of this in order to justify the 1/2 million dollars the CRA gave to Publix.
Top comments in 2011
"Look, Live and Learn." Commissioner McVoy
"I am disappointed Commissioner Maxwell. This is personal." Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill in talking to Maxwell about his motion to fire the city manager.
"The fire assessment is fair but I will be voting against it." Mayor Waterman
" The 15 individuals who live on the blogs are going to complain. I'm not responsive to the 15 individuals who complain on the blogs everyday. There are 34,865 other people out there." Mayor Rachel Waterman
Comments I liked in 2011
"If we spend money on something does it have value? Look for the value." Commissioner McVoy
"I feel unappreciated right now." Mr. Banting of Anderson & Carr on not finding tenants for our casino
"I had to clean another toilet today." Susan Stanton
The Razzie Award goes to Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell hands down.
No one else came close to him in attitude, demeanor and for his overall bullying of the city manager and undermining her at every opportunity. It was like one sick game played in real time twice a month. As the City moved forward in its policy direction, Maxwell fought the city manager at every turn. He chose his battles and voted with the old commission over 95% of the time. Even though he loved the "free lunch," he only voted "no" on the Budget as well as on financial issues involving the Casino. He constantly complained about not getting the back-up to the Agenda in a timely fashion and mentioned his displeasure in anyone putting something on the agenda at the last minute. He changed his top priority from code enforcement and eliminating slum and blight to the Park of Commerce development and for the approval of a plan to spend $11.05 million dollars over 15 years at today's value. He changed our beach from a beach/park destination to a bar focus caring only about the price per s.f. He wanted open and transparent government. As the City was finally working its way step by step out of the black hole, Maxwell pulled away the ladder and fired the city manager by putting the matter on the agenda at the last minute, never giving one reason for the manager's termination. Even though he was holding the majority vote, he was unsure of his ability to lead the city manager. He even attempted to stifle public commentary on the issue. Many of his "speeches" were right out of the Republican Play Book.
Top hypocritical political comments in 2011
"We need thoughtful and measured leadership." Scott Maxwell
"My heart is heavy...I had my own vision...but also the hopes and dreams of the people who joined me..just ask my husband...over this weekend...I value everyone's opinion but as my husband will tell you I was saddened over this weekend...there is still so much distrust and anger...I'm not so sure that the vision is the vision of the people." Mayor Pam Triolo as she votes to fire the city manager.
"Second." Commissioner Andy Amoroso
Top "Academy Award" Comment in 2011
"I only entered the race because Waterman did not have an opponent." Dustin Zacks
Top Political Mistake in 2011
Rachel Waterman's duck and run, refusing to attend anymore candidate forums because of the personal Zack attacks at the TRNA forum.
Top Political Stick it in your Face tactic in 2011
Rene Varela's resignation and price for democracy cost the city over $50,000
List your favorites.
Former candidate for Mayor and now President of his homeowner's association at Lake Osborne Estates, Bill Coakley would sure agree with this one. In fact, he has been one of Aqua's big headaches.
Cyber Citizens for Justice reports:
Senator Alan Hays kept his promise: He filed a bill that if it ever became law would all but put Aqua Utilities out of business in Florida.
State Sen. Alan Hays didn't mince words last September when he testified before the Public Service Commission about a proposed rate increase for privately owned Aqua Utilities.
The Lake County Republican told commissioners he would do everything "that is humanly possible" to stop the rate increase, which he compared to "state sanctioned extortion."
"That company is the single source of the most complaints from constituents that come to my office, and it's just rip-off after rip-off after rip-off, and I'm sick and tired of hearing about it," Hays said at the hearing.
Good luck, Senator Hays! Let's just hope your colleagues agree with you -- for the sake of the consumers!
Friday, December 30, 2011
The Utility Director, Becky Mattey, has given notice according to one of our commissioners.
Four of our top executives are either gone or have given notice. We need a strong city manager more than ever as the Utility Director now will be leaving as well as the Office of Management & Budget Manager, Ed Fry.
The City IS imploding.
Mayor Pam Triolo submitted a brief article that was featured on the front page of The Lake Worth Herald. The first paragraph says:
Our future is bright here in Lake Worth. While change is never easy for anyone, it is my hope that the decisions being made today will impact our city in a better, more positive way. We have learned that utilizing the method of "do it and then apologize or explain later" has created mistrust and animosity in our community.
Now Mayor, as much as I think you are a pleasant lady, isn't that exactly what you just did after only 4 weeks on the job the night you voted to fire Susan Stanton? Basically, the only difference in what you say and what you actually did has no explanation associated with it.
former mayor, Jeff Clemens
Over two years ago on November 16, 2009, Greater Bay filed a suit against The City of Lake Worth. Prior to that the City had ended their contract and kicked them out of town for non-performance on our beach/casino. They then decided that they would pull a pit bull act. They wanted a big piece of whatever meat Lake Worth had on that bone. Afterall, this was a city government with deep pockets, or so they thought, and they had already jerked us around for quite some time. What difference would it make if they just kept on jerking?
Retha Lowe kept complaining that we had been talking about the beach/casino for 30 years and had never done anything. The City Commission at the time decided something was going to be done on their watch and had Vice Mayor Retha Lowe grab the contract out of the hands of Mayor Marc Drautz. They only listened to their supporters who packed the chamber (some were ugly). The rest of the citizens they ignored. No one on the commission had read the Contract. Lowe signed it and that was the start of three law suits including a petition drive by the citizens to reverse the mess. Anarchy on the dais caused the problems that we see today encouraged by some of the very same people who cry out now about "anarchists."
I do not have up-to-date legal costs on this suit however in February 2011, the costs for outside council were $224,523.94. Citizens don't get to know these important details. Attorneys have a way of dragging things out. Brian B. Joslyn is our attorney on the matter and he is a partner with one of the most highly respected law firms, Casey Ciklin Lubitz Martens and O'Connell in West Palm Beach. The firm used to have the name Boose but they dropped that after William Boose went to prison. It seems like it was just yesterday. He was involved with former County Commissioner Tony Masilotti in illicit multi-million dollar land deals. Both are now out of the slammer.
Joslyn was also the attorney that the City of Lake Worth hired to sue the petitioners on August 21, 2007 of We Love Lake Worth Political Action Committee of which Commissioner McVoy was the President of the PAC. We Love Lake Worth, Inc. tied up the Greater Bay deal for the City's attempt to change our beach to a commercial zoning and allow a developer to grab our 19 acres of prime beachfront to develop a mall along with a parking garage. There was a citizens' law suit back then, McCauley/McNamara, against Greater Bay that stated it was not a 20 year lease but a 40 year lease. The WLLW case was dropped on June 23, 2009 after Greater Bay was relieved from its contract for non-performance. The private citizens' suit was dropped as well.
The only law suit still in effect is the Greater Bay vs. The City of Lake Worth. The attorneys have had a field day and now, two years later, the Court has decided that the Parties have reached a total impasse and that all issues require court action. We could have told them that over four years ago when we, the citizens, were all rallied to a just cause and understood our priorities in Lake Worth when the elected officials did not do their due diligence, did not listen to anyone but their inner sanctum.
Lake Worth is still getting slammed by the Greater Bay law suit that attorneys drag on and on for billable hours with Greater Bay hoping for some sort of a settlement or in their dreams, the whole enchilada. Now, it seems, there will be a jury trial. Greater Bay was wrong then. It is still wrong today but you just never know about juries and that is what they are counting on..
We have a new commission that has complained about the number of law suits involving the City. The vast majority have to do with code issues and foreclosures. Some have implied (as well as their supporters) that we should cave in and settle some suits before they get as far as the Greater Bay suit. I worry that they will put principle aside and create a whole new line item where anyone can come into Lake Worth and sue knowing they will get a settlement.
There are several pending cases, one of which is Sunset Drive Holdings, that says it has a Bert J. Harris claim. I worry that we will digress and become wimps for anyone who wants to file suit. The Vice Mayor has fought the Casino project and its financing since he became elected. He is only listening to his mentors. What next can we expect?
One of my friends likes Ron Paul. That's a scary one. Just imagine voting for a guy who dismisses nuclear weapons as easily as he has and allow them in the hands of Iran, an enemy that wants to destroy Israel, or someone who wants to make illegal drugs legal. He is gaining strength in Iowa. Ron Paul is bringing down the entire GOP. I had no idea that corn affected people to this extent. Iowa is the birth place of John Wayne for heaven's sake.
With the Republican field choice right now, Democrats must be excited.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Faith, Family and Freedom--that is Rick Santorum's message.
Our friend Tony Plakas in Lake Worth doesn't like Rick Santorum. I can understand why Tony and others in the gay community MIGHT not like him--It is Santorum's stand for the family unit--two parents, a mother and a father as well as his non-support of gay marriage. He has been accused of being anti-gay by gay rights groups because of this stand.
“We have made the decision that the best way to raise a family is with a man and a woman.” -Rick Santorum on CBS’s Face the Nation
But Rick Santorum was also against the Terri Schiavo case. So was I. He is a firm supporter of Social Security. So am I. He supports Intelligent Design--an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins rather than a religious-based idea. But he believes in God. So do I. He believes in protecting the most vulnerable in our society. He is against partial birth abortion and so was the Supreme Court of the country and so am I.
He also authored legislation to advance adult stem cell research, so that ethical research could take place to fight debilitating diseases without the moral implications associated with embryonic stem cell research that destroys human life.
Once he was elected to Congress he targeted waste and fraud going after the House bank and the post office. More leaders need to take stands on waste and fraud. He has been consistent about lowering taxes and wants to:
- Cut the corporate tax rate in half
- Cut the tax rate to zero for all manufacturers
- Permanently extend the Bush tax cuts rates for Capital Gains and Dividend Tax rates
- Repeal the Death Tax
- Repatriate taxable income outside the United States at a rate of 5%
- Reduce the tax code for all by making the system flatter, fairer, and simpler
He has taken a firm stand against those who hate our country and its principles and understands that we must stand up to those ideals and against those who want to destroy them and our freedom.
He has openly stated his strong opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants.
What little I know about him I like. He is the most conservative candidate running and to me, he comes across as "real."
Another crime (Act of Vandalism) on Mark and Grove Streets. It seems the streets on our western side of Lake Osborne Heights are getting hit with teenage related issues as of late. We ask that everyone continue to keep your eyes and ears open.
On of our residents on Mark drive reported the following:
We have five mail boxes and two vehicles with pellet gun damage and the sheriff found a co2 cartridge on the ground ..Fortunately the damage is minor. This was on Mark Dr and the cul-de-sac on Grove St. Did any one's kids get a pellet gun for Christmas? Be on the lookout for this. It could be expensive if a car window is shot out.
Jeff Clemens says that he wants to run for State Senate and just think, it was we in Lake Worth who helped him begin his political career after electing him Mayor of Lake Worth. He then continued on in politics and became our Florida State Rep. in 2010. He is the Democratic Ranking member of the Government Operations Subcommittee and the State Affairs Committee. Perhaps his career will lead to a United States Congressional position, following in the footsteps of Mark Foley another Lake Worth former commissioner.
He wants to make medical marijuana legal and a recent poll conducted by Gov. Rick Scott’s pollster found that nearly 60 percent of Floridians support the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. There are 20 other States that have passed this and they have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in new private industry revenue and millions of dollars in state tax revenue not to mention the new pot heads.
Depending upon the re-districting in Florida, Clemens will make a decision as to what he will do to further his career. He says that whatever he does, he won't run against Joe Abruzzo. NO one can beat Joe Abruzzo. Good move, Jeff.
Drop in and say Hi to Jeff at his office at 508 Lake Avenue.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The 100 most dangerous cities with a population of over 25,000. Lake Worth ranks number 35. Riviera Beach is at number 20. I guess we don't spend enough on public safety. For year 2012, the City has budgeted $14,423,040 for PBSO.
Your chances of becoming a victim in Lake Worth are 1 in 67. Considering all that has happened over the last month, we all very well might be victims.
To Mike who told me to stop being so negative, well, let's change the reality Mike. Besides, if I wrote all about sugar plums it would be boring as hell on this blog. I will leave that to some of the feel good "hard" newspapers.
Lake Osborne Heights has been hit by criminals and recently a few were caught by the PBSO. Robert Waples, President of ROLOH, says--
We want to pass this on so everyone is aware that there are still potential issues! We thank our neighbors for their quick action and hopefully the bad "doer's" know that we are always watching!
Txxxxx and I were standing outside between the cars. Four guys, three black one might have been Hispanic rode down Collier towards Lake Osborne. One broke off, went up 2212 Collier and proceeded to look in the windows. I mean stood still, backed up, looked all through the windows. The others had gone down Lake Osborne towards Lantana. I called 911 and while I was on the phone they came back up the park side and stood. When I came out from behind the car they took off. They had no idea we were outside watching them.
Sheriff cars are looking for them, but it was 15 minutes between 911 call and the officer going to look, so I’m guessing they won’t find them.
"The tax base is being decimated by these exemptions," Palm Beach Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits said. "They're making it very difficult on local governments to fund their police and fire departments and other local services that are necessary." It's a good thing that Susan Stanton negotiated with the PBSO on a two year fixed contract. Let's see what the next city manager does.
JOINT RESOLUTION by Judiciary; Simmons
Ad Valorem Taxation;
Proposing amendments to the State Constitution to allow the Legislature by general law to prohibit increases in the assessed value of homestead and specified non-homestead property if the just value of the property decreases, reduce the limitation on annual assessment increases applicable to non-homestead real property, provide an additional homestead exemption for owners of homestead property, authorize the Legislature to adjust the amount of the exemption, provide that the additional exemption is to be reduced by the difference between the just value and the assessed value, delay a future repeal of provisions limiting annual assessment increases for specified non-homestead real property, and provide effective dates, etc.
Location: In committee/council (BFT)
Last Action: 12/13/2011 Now in Budget Subcommittee on Finance and Tax
Summary of the Bill:This joint resolution proposes amendments to Article VII, section 4, of the Florida Constitution to permit the Legislature to prohibit increases in the assessed value of homestead and certain non-homestead property if the just value of the property decreases. The joint resolution also reduces the limitation on annual assessment increases applicable to non-homestead property from 10 percent to 7 percent. An amendment to Article VII, section 6, of the Florida Constitution is also proposed to create an additional homestead exemption. The Legislature is authorized to adjust the amount of the exemption.
This joint resolution removes the current automatic repeal of subsections (f) and (g) of section 4, Article VII, of the Florida Constitution1, relating to assessments of certain non-homestead residential property by amending Article XII, section 27, of the Florida Constitution. This section is further amended to provide when the amendments to Article VII sections 4 and 6, of the Florida Constitution shall take effect.
This joint resolution will require approval by a three-fifths vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature for passage. Should this joint resolution be adopted, an additional joint resolution will be required to rescind and withdraw HJR 381 (2011) which is to go before the voters as Amendment 4 on the November 2012 ballot.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Think of the irony here. The Visionaries rejected Kathleen Margoles, Assistant City Manager to take over as Interim City manager, but right now she is actually in charge. Steve Carr was delayed getting back into the office from his Holiday trip.
This Great Egret is a little smaller than the one that normally comes over to visit from the Lake. On this side of the street, he can find Anolis (Anoles) to eat. They wait for their prey to come to them and then spear them with their long beak, swallowing them whole.
An Anole was the cause of my air conditioning being out over Christmas. It shorted out my system. Karri Casper came through for me on Christmas Eve (thank you Karri) and gave me the name of an air conditioning company but fortunately my roofer discovered the cause and I am "cool" again.
The Sears stores aren't doing too well and they plan on closing down 100 stores this coming year. Read about it here.
When I think about Sears, the year 1974 comes to mind. This is the first store where I ever applied for a credit card in my own name. I was recently divorced and needed to establish credit. I shopped there all of the time and loved the store at the Palm Beach Mall. I charged $50.00 and Sears wanted me to make monthly payments of $10.00 until I paid it off. They wanted to see if I paid my bills in a timely fashion. Two months later, I paid it off. I never got a credit card from Sears. I then went out and applied to American Express and got a credit card with no hassles.
I later worked indirectly for a Sears owned company, Coldwell Banker. They bought out Previews, Inc. in Palm Beach. It was never again the same. They had no conception of a boutique real estate company that marketed high end properties all over the world. They were still in the mindset of middle America and its wants.
Sears merged with K-Mart in 2005 and became Sears Holding Corporation. The early pioneers of the company had a pulse on the consumer. It had the best mail order catalog in the country, something that started in the late 1800's and is what grew its retail business. They began to diversify in the 1930's and bought Allstate and it established major national brands. Later on, they changed the way in which they paid their employees from an hourly wage based on longevity, to a base wage (usually anywhere from $3.50 to $6 per hour) and commissions ranging from 1% to 11%. This new base wage implemented in 1992, was done "to be successful in this highly competitive environment." Sears sold its Sears Tower and moved its headquarters which had been its identity for nearly 20 years.
Quality, inventory, service and price are requisites for success. Somehow Sears' decisions along the way failed or perhaps it is just a victim of our recessive economy. Some say they are not concentrating on their core businesses but rather concentrating on financial trades. Too bad. I hope it can get back to its roots as it has been around since 1893.
12/27 10 AM Andy Warhol, The Bazaar Years.
12/27 7 PM Ringling Bros B&B Circus at the PB Convention Center.
12/27 7 PM Ringling Bros. and Barnum &…
12/30 6 PM Art & Wine Promenade.
12/30 7 PM New Year's Night at the South FL Science Museum.
12/31 9 AM West Palm Beach Antique and Flea Market at Banyan and Narcissus.
12/31 10 AM Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus at Convention Center.
and don't forget our very own theater--
Lake Worth Playhouse
New Year's Eve Swing Time Concert
An evening of celebration, live music, hor d'ourves and a champagne toast!
Featuring Missy McArdle and the Glen Rovinelli Orchestra...$35.
The recording of public commentary ceased on October 5, 2010.
6. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION OF NON-AGENDAED ITEMS The public commentary was recorded as follows: The following individuals offered comments: Dee McNamara, Barbara Jean weber, Peter Timm, Loretta Sharpe, James Stafford, and Mary Burnette.
A few of us over the past year or so have asked that public commentary be recorded in the city Minutes. The subject was brought up again at the last city commission meeting on December 20. It is not the first time that I have mentioned it but it was the first time that anyone on the dais asked staff about it. Thank you, Mayor.
The City Clerk said, "The change and the writing style changed several years ago when the city commission voted to require that we keep permanently all Board audio...and so the general public can now access from mid 2006 forward...we follow industry standards right now which is to concentrate on the issue and not the comments of the individual who makes them. We follow industry standards."
Well, it changed a little over one year ago during budget hearings, not several years ago. That is a fact. The City Manager, trying to make life somewhat easier on her top people (as they have been taking on more responsibilities since staff has been reduced), more than likely asked them for suggestions on what could be eliminated from their current duties and still not affect the overall efficiency of operations. That would be an educated guess. As the Public has never been a priority, that was an easy decision to make. "We can now tune our ears totally off when the public speaks...it will be recorded on the audio anyway."
Let's get it changed back, Commissioners. This is a policy decision and since you all have stated more than once that public participation is important, there is no reason why condensed commentary made by the Public not be in the Minutes. Afterall, we only get to speak for 2 minutes now and still have to deal with those blue comment cards.
The public should not be easily dismissed in this fashion IF you really believe that what we say is relevant.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Frank R. Spence.
ICMA credentialed professional local government manager for over 45 years of executive level local government experience, mostly in the State of Florida. This is a very important job credential, IMO. He has also lived and worked overseas for 7 years.
Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A.) on Political Science
Master of Public Administration Degree (M.P.A.)
The University of Michigan
City Manager Experience
Miami Beach (Miami-Dade County)
Miami Springs (Miami-Dade County)
Biscayne Park (Miami Dade County)
Loxahatchee Groves (PB County)
Mangonia Park (PB County)
North Palm Beach (PB County)
Assistant City Manager
Miami Beach, Miami Springs, Delray Beach, Pensacola
County Administrator Experience
Alachua County (Gainesville)
Putnam County (Palatka)
An exercise that never should have happened, causing extra work for Staff as well as expense, Lake Worth works up job description for an Interim City Manager. Seven resumes have been submitted to date. The next submission date will be December 28, 2011.
INTERIM CITY MANAGER JOB CODE
Salary based on qualification and experience.
The City of Lake Worth is located on the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach County, 60 miles north of Miami. Lake Worth has old-Florida charm with sub-tropical climate, 5 historic districts, Waterways and Beach front, a Municipal Golf Course and eclectic downtown shopping area. Lake Worth is a dynamic, vibrant, multi-cultural City with strong social and environmental consciousness and pride in its identity.
The City incorporated in 1913 and has operated under a Council-Manager form of government since 1937. The City provides a full range of municipal services and recreational amenities. Expenditures in the FY 2012 Annual Operating Budget total $172,266,317 for all City funds, with approximately 248 full time employees and a population of 34,910.
The City of Lake Worth currently has an immediate opening for a Interim City Manager. The successful candidate will be a strong communicative leader who can promote a collaborative and trusting work environment. The selected candidate will have a track record of proven participative management and leadership skills, including developing and maintaining a strong cooperative team atmosphere and open communications between the manager and City Council, the manager and City staff and the manager and community residents. A demonstrated track record of working well with varied agendas, interests and opinions is important, as well as the ability to be an effective consensus builder and respected leader among those various individuals and groups.
The City has major planning and project management issues and increasing financial constraint, so competency in financial and project management is essential. The City imposed contracts with two of three labor unions in 2010, and is now in negotiations for new three year contracts so demonstrated experience in successful employee relations is a key expertise for the candidate. The ideal candidate will value diversity, full transparency in government, and the principles of energy conservation and sustainability.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities: The Interim City Manager is the chief administrative officer of the City and is responsible to the Mayor and City Commissions for the management and operations of all affairs of all departments within the City. The successful candidate will manage and control all matters and things pertaining to the day to day operations of the City. All duties shall be performed in conformity with the ordinances or resolutions of the City and the statutes of the State. Standard office hours are required, along with substantial overtime work on nights, weekends, holidays, etc. as necessary.
The successful candidate will be involved in directing and supervising the administration of all departments, and offices within the City and when deemed necessary responsible over departments and/or officers that may be created or appointed in the future. The successful candidate will be responsible for; attending all City Commission meetings and taking part in the discussion; submitting to the City Commission and make available to the public a complete report on the finances and administrative activities, and any other reports concerning the operations of City departments and offices. The successful candidate will perform advisory services to the City Commission concerning financial condition and future needs of the City and make recommendations to the City Commission concerning affairs of the City as deemed desirable. The successful candidate will execute such other duties as are specified in this charter or may be required by the City Commission.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: This position is a high visibility position requiring the ability to interact with the public, employees, elected officials, and outside agencies and government officials. A high degree of oral and written communications skills is required, along with the ability to speak in public and represent the City in an official capacity. Strong knowledge of sound leadership and performance management, community-oriented problem solving, budgeting principles and practices, finance, and interpersonal skills, are a key requirement for this position.
Education and Experience: Bachelor’s degree (B.A.) in Public Administration, Finance, Management or related field from a four (4) year college or university. Seven (7) years work experience at the executive level. City Manager and/or Florida municipal or county experience is preferred and experience with a municipal electrical power distribution system desirable. Military command or business executive/ownership experience also will be considered as a substitute for municipal or county executive level experience.
Certifications, Licenses, Registration: Valid driver’s license. Membership in International City Management Association (ICMA) or Florida City County Managers Association (FCCMA) preferred. ICMA Credentialed Manager designation desirable.
LAKE WORTH, Fla. -- Just in time for the holidays, Rep. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) has filed House Bill 757, establishing a new category of corporations in the state of Florida that will allow those corporations to be rewarded for service to the community, charity, environmental responsibility and civic responsibility.
Read more here.
Rep. Clemens has introduced several Bills while at the House. Some of his failures thus far are: HB177 Motor Vehicles, HB379 Small Municipalities, HB591 PB County School Board, HB637 local option fuel taxes, HB1183 early voting, HJR1407 Medical use of cannabis. Another Bill, HJR353, is a joint Bill that is pending in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee for medical use cannabis.
HB757 sounds like it could be a winner.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
I hope you are having a great Christmas celebration with your Army buddies there in Afghanistan. Know that I am thinking of you and that I am proud of you for sacrificing this year of your life for our country. I know that you must miss home, but I believe that you honor our country and you honor our family by choosing to defend and protect the United States of America. And as I sit here in our dining room, staring out at our pretty garden, obese squirrels noshing on birdseed, nursing my cold, I never have to worry. I am safe and secure.
One of my little first graders, Adam, told me recently that the bad men came to his village in Guatemala and shot his Grandma and his dog.I'll never forget his fear. Through the eyes of children I know firsthand that not all countries enjoy the peace and security that we do, on this sunny Christmas day.
For that safety we enjoy, I thank you. I'm looking forward to seeing you soon. Godspeed.
Lake Worth, FL 33460
Lynn's Little Bit of Trivia--
some who agree with me
from time to time
and to those who are forever keeping me
on my toes.
Love to all. Thanks for stopping by.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
It could be worse; we could be in Miami. Man stabbed to death after asking neighbor to turn down his music...probably Jingle Bell Rock.
This happened in the poorer part of town in public housing called Liberty Square. Taxpayers are subsidizing these people and we here in Lake Worth keep on attracting poor folks to buy affordable housing with interest free mortgages. Sounds like a plan--maybe a conspiracy--ask the CRA. Maybe someone knows something that I don't. Prosperity and all that jazz.
I couldn't help myself.
Extend your boundaries. Explore the unknown. That makes life interesting. Don't ever be afraid to "rip" right into it.
This year I would like to see more citizens get directly involved with their city government by speaking out on the issues. Many people have dropped out. For the best government, more people need to address the commission, not just one side of the political camp. Everyone has a valid opinion and all of them need to be heard.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Lake Worth needs to find a Manager, not a Toadie
Posted: 7:05 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23, 2011
From all appearances, Lake Worth's new city commission is working hard to move backward instead of forward.
After abruptly firing the competent city manager, a three-commissioner majority last week decided not to bother hiring a professional search firm to find her replacement. Instead, ostensibly to save a mere $20,000, city commissioners will search for the city's new chief executive on the cheap.
That is to say, a 3-2 majority of city commissioners told city staff to run the search themselves with the help of volunteer consultants, a task that a small city hardly has the resources or know-how to do well. The result of this shortsighted thinking will be a smaller and less-talented candidate pool.
The manager is the most important person in any city with a weak-mayor form of government. A talented one is important anywhere; in a small, complex, financially strapped city like Lake Worth, it's critical.
Former City Manager Susan Stanton, who had acknowledged faults as a communicator, had deep experience in municipal government and was not afraid to tackle difficult issues. Her bargaining skills allowed the city to save millions by negotiating lower contracts with the county sheriff's office and county fire-rescue agency. She brought expenses in line with falling tax revenues while pushing through the city utility's first electric rate reduction. Under her watch, the city finally broke ground on renovations to Lake Worth's public beach.
Finding a city manager of comparable experience and resolve will not be easy. Many talented candidates will be reluctant to come to a city where the latest manager was unceremoniously terminated without discussion or warning. To find a talented replacement, a national search firm is the least that Lake Worth needs. Kurt Bressner, the highly regarded former Boynton Beach city manager now assisting in Lake Worth's search, told commissioners as much last week, but they ignored his advice.
We wonder whether the move reflects a desire to hire a former city official or some other familiar face rather than perform a true search for the most-qualified person. Settling on a replacement before the process has even begun would smack of the sort of good-ol'-boy politics that most hoped Lake Worth had moved away from years ago. To find the best candidates, Lake Worth needs to conduct a real search.
- Andrew Marra,
for The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board
I went to a movie and couldn't wait to get home. It was totally nuts down there.
We all know who said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie".
Every time Debbie continues to spout that the Obama administration is a friend to Israel, her nose grows longer, and by now, you should realize that she changed her religion to Democrat.
As for "Mr. Hope & Change," he received all his political experience in the most politically corrupt city in the U.S. and is an expert in telling folks what we want to hear. If their untruths were electricity, we would never be billed by our utility companies again. Allen West said it like it is and I compliment him upon his bravery, knowing that the opposition will twist the intention of his statement.
Carl A. Solomon, Delray Beach
The Palm Beach County Democratic Party sent out the following message:
Although the Tea Party tends to think that the solution lies in doing “something” about government (my belief and I'm not a Tea-Partier) and the Occupy Wall Street movement thinks that the solution surely lies in doing “something” about the private sector, the two movements share a fundamental dissatisfaction with the status quo. It’s not that they want more of this or less of that. They want the system to function differently. They want a phase change.
Please read the Forbes article on What do Occupiers want?
Sure hope that the "World Owes me a living" group does not block that bridge. We might see Occupiers going to jail for X'mas.
As Lake Worth needs a lot of help from politicians who are not protecting our beach park from further commercialization, I wanted to share this message from a group that is helping to protect our parks:
2011 marked South Florida Wildlands Association's first full year in operation. It's been a busy one. Starting with the battle to keep the 146,000 acre Addition Lands of the Big Cypress National Preserve free from motor vehicle impacts, our organization has worked on a variety of environmental issues central to protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat in the Greater Everglades.
Two recent news stories highlight some of the work we've been engaged in. First a television piece from Fox 4 on a massive new Florida Power and Light (FPL) gas plant in the heart of Florida panther habitat. Click the play arrow in the upper left of the page to view the video.
A piece from the Miami Herald focuses on yet another FPL proposal. This one would locate 3 massive power lines across the eastern edge of what is now Everglades National Park. Note the reference to over 10,000 responses received by the National Park Service - virtually all against the proposal. Big thanks!
In the coming year, South Florida Wildlands Association (SFWA) will continue the work we've begun. In addition to participating in the lawsuit against the National Park Service, challenging the agency's decision to motorize the Big Cypress National Preserve Addition Lands, we intend to remain fully engaged with the administrations of Biscayne and Everglades National Parks as they re-write the General Management Plans for their respective parks. As always, our focus will be on the protection of rare and vanishing habitat and species - the central purpose for which these unique "biological parks" were created - over other considerations.
On the energy front, SFWA worked alongside local and national organizations to stage rallies against the expansion of the Turkey Point Nuclear Plant (April 30 - Clean Energy Rally at Homestead Bayfront County Park) and the possibility of expanded offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico (June 26 - Hands Across the Sand). While not known as a "clean energy" organization, we take our battles as they come. SFWA finds it deplorable that the health of irreplaceable ecosystems such as Biscayne Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands could be compromised for the sake of more nuclear energy or offshore oil - while the use of clean, sustainable solar power in the Sunshine State barely registers.
We also remain committed to the restoration of the heart of the Everglades - the "River of Grass" - through the return of the natural flow of water which once ran uninterrupted from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries of Florida and Biscayne Bays nearly 100 miles to the south. These unique wetlands and estuaries are a significant part of the natural heritage of our planet. Millions of acres of public land have already been acquired, at enormous effort and expense, to allow a true restoration to take place. SFWA continues to push federal and state partners for public acquisition of sufficient agricultural lands currently owned by "Big Sugar" - the 700,000 acre Everglades Agricultural Area just south of Lake Okeechobee - to finish the job.
While this email highlights some of the work SFWA has done in the past year, this is also a great time to express our appreciation of our many supporters. Your willingness to continue to write emails to decision makers and show up at public meetings (time and time again - on weeknights - in out of the way locations) to demand that the incredible biological diversity of south Florida remains protected is central to this work. Never think that your individual letters or public comments - no matter how short - have no impact. They do. We thank you for your efforts.
We also take this moment to thank the public officials from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the South Florida Water Management District and others for promptly answering our numerous inquiries with regard to the projects we are engaged in. Whatever differences we may have (and there are many), the dialogue is always appreciated. And to the environmental reporters (and bloggers) whose work allows the public to understand and participate in issues which, although complex, have a huge impact on the quality of life on our planet - your service is simply invaluable. It never ceases to amaze us how stories involving the Everglades - and the question of its survival - seem to be of interest not only to Floridians but to folks from around the world.
Have a happy holiday season and best wishes for the New Year. If you have the ability and would like to financially support the work South Florida Wildlands is engaged in, your tax-deductible contribution in any amount is very much appreciated. Expect to see an aggressive and comprehensive campaign to secure and protect remaining Florida panther habitat rolled out in early 2012. Contributions can be sent by check (see address below) or online at the following location.
South Florida Wildlands Association
P.O. Box 30211
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33303
Thursday, December 22, 2011
The Lake Worth Beach redevelopment is now estimated at $13,505,329. This originally was to be an $11 million dollar project: $6 million for the building and $5 million for the beach redevelopment. Now that we have so many people involved--Kimley Horn, Living Design, Michael Singer, and Morganti, it is no wonder that the price is heading towards the roof.
Whoever designed this out based on the $5 million dollar bond money for the redevelopment portion of this project, failed to include the infrastructure: Water main at $400,000, Sanitary Sewer at $500,000, lighting at $800,000, Stormwater, underground electric, for a total cost for infrastructure of $1,855.384. And we can't forget the turtle lighting that everyone missed from the beginning. It was sort of an oops moment for turtles when the beach park moved away from public recreation and open space to a more commercial enterprise with Johnny Longboats closing at 1am with city staff giving everyone the excuse that they just had to stay open in order to meet the price per square foot that John G's has always said they would pay. Now staff tells us, "Well, we just don't get that many turtles on our beach." One is all we need.
We paid REG $460,000 to design the casino and Kimley Horn $437,000 to design the beach. That's almost a million bucks before we even got started. There were amendments to Kimley-Horn's agreement that brought the design up to $501,400. We then needed them to design a sanitary sewer system. Morganti was then awarded a contract as construction manager and they along with Kimley-Horn will bring a line item bid back on all elements of the design in January 2012.
We over-designed the redevelopment of the beach--windmills and silly stuff. We forgot all of the costs of infrastructure. How did this happen? Our wish list was too great. We need to cut it down to reality. Through the years, project after project, those who want to take advantage seem to be attracted to Lake Worth. This is an example as to how they do it. Although not involved in the beach, Chaz Equipment Company has done work for Lake Worth but alleged corruption and graft is not limited to one lone company.
Someone, from the early stages on, dropped the ball on this project. Everything should have been included in the $11 million. I blame it on all those people involved in the design. There is NO way that the city staff ever said, "Oh, don't worry about the rest of it, we will take the money from the CIP."
It's now time for this new Visionary to stay within our Budget. I'm with the Vice Mayor on this one. Let's see now what they can do about it. I don't want to hear that, "Well, we have the money allotted in the capital improvement budget, not to worry." That is still taxpayer money. Eleven million dollars is more than enough to spend. That's all we ever said that we would spend.
As Scott Maxwell eliminated the assistant city manager from consideration to be elevated as interim city manager because of the importance of this project, perhaps he will change his mind on his number one priority. This project should be number one. This is the one that will drive tourism and a lot of money to Lake Worth.
Sometimes we think that our high utility bills are criminal but one woman was driven to threatening murder because of her bill. We sure do have our share of interesting characters in Lake Worth. Usually it is politics that get them into a frenzy.
The latest incident was reported in the Neighborhood News when a lady on 16th Avenue North encountered a screaming woman at her door yelling that she was "the devil and I will kill you." It seems that her problem was her high electric bill. She was convinced that her neighbor was zapping out all of her electricity from her apartment thus her gigantically high electric utility bill.
Ya gotta blame it on someone.
On Tuesday night I ran into artist, AnnaMaria Windisch-Hunt, at the city commission meeting. We made arrangements to meet the very next day at the Lake Worth Art League so that she could sign the back of a piece of art that she had created. I previously featured her piece on this blog.
I had no idea the Art League, founded in 1941, had finally opened and moved to Lucerne Avenue and N. L. Street. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and features a lot of local and area artists' works that are for sale.
The Art League was literally kicked out of the City Annex last year and given two weeks to pack up and move out. They had been there 38 years. The city was to use the space for offices.
So, what a treat it was to meet AnnaMaria and walk through the gallery. I saw plenty of pieces I really liked. I love art. Being that my apartment looks like an art gallery with no spare room on any wall, I just looked. No sooner did I get home when I had a change of mind. I made room for Boynton Beach artist, Nancy Luellan's art work, Orchids in the Dew. The painting won an award recently at the 70th Anniversary Gala. It is hung a little higher than I would like and it might be moved before it all is finished but it works. This photo does not do it justice.
Nancy Luellan is a painter trained in the classical style. She attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and holds a BFA, BSA, and MFA, and has won numerous awards for her paintings. Her work hangs in collections across the United States, Cayman and England.
So, plan on visiting the Lake Worth Art League soon to see the works of Nancy and other wonderful artists and when you do, don't forget your checkbook.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Last night under New Business, was Staff's recommendation to award a contract to M&M Asphalt to temporarily return 2nd Avenue North back to a one-way street. Joe Kroll, the then Public Works director never obtained the proper permits not did he budget for making this one way street two ways. The City now has sent in their permit application as well as having a survey and engineering completed by the FEC to determine the cost of relocating the arms to both sides of the tracks. Right now we are looking at a cost of at least $250,000.
Performing this work for the $11,344 ($6,494 for striping, $4,850 for signage) would allow the City to reopen the roadway which has been closed and barricaded for months. Staff recommended that this option be chosen. This would allow the project to be budgeted in fiscal year 2013, as it was not budgeted for fiscal year 2012 and proceed with a two way street as two new businesses locating on Dixie want this street to be two ways. This was approved on a 3/1 with Mulvehill dissenting.
Also, the entire commission (McVoy absent) approved to continue the public hearing to use the uniform method of collecting non-ad valorem assessments for fire and street lights. This was approved unanimously just in case the commission, can't afterall, come up with budget cuts to eliminate the fire and street light assessments for year 2012.
The Commission received word from the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser's office to a March 10th notification date as allowed by state statute. Mr. Peter Timm from the public, agreed with the city taxing everyone the same for fires services. No one corrected him and told him that it was for a fire pension.
So, all of you taxpayers out there, don't get too happy yet. All those campaign promises might be your typical political "I fooled you baby."
Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels "would be very proud of the Democratic Party because they have an incredible propaganda machine."
~ Rep. Allen West
Now, I find this a brilliant statement and so true. And since Allen West quotes are so popular these days, you get another one.
Democrats just can't take the heat but they sure can dish it out. They get annoyed when someone points out the truth. They totally lose it and get madder than hell. Just look what they did in this last election (and Democrats do it better than any other Party)--Swift-boated West at every opportunity with lies but West conducted his campaign wining on the facts.
Democrat Rep. Donna Edwards from Maryland tried to get a vote in the Congress to condemn Allen West for his statement. It went along Party lines although 3 Republicans voted with the Democrats. It was tabled on a vote of 231/188.
The revolving door issue in Lake Worth is different than the typical "revolving door" where people run for office and go into government service in order to win the corporate lottery, you know, the "free lunch." They go into public service to use their time in office to do what they need to do to appeal to contractors, developers, and other companies that do business with local governments.
Do you ever wonder why there are ALWAYS cost over-runs--why there are always no-bid contracts? Just pay more attention to the Consent Agenda this year and you will see what I am talking about. Usually when these folks get out of their plushy government job or elected position, they are much wealthier than when they first entered but some of them are into pay-to-play while on the job. Don't think that Lake Worth is immune.
But I'm not talking about that revolving door; that's another story. This is about the door itself and city managers.
Former city manager Susan Stanton, because of security issues, installed a door to her office along with a lock. She had received threats from some of the citizenry. She had received verbal threats from one or two of the vocal public entering her chambers and threatening her as well as raising their voices. One side of politics was screaming that anarchists were taking over and some bought into the bull and got all in a tizzy. Because of the recent gun law in Florida, it was time to get security at our City Hall in the areas causing the most concern: the city manager's office and the offices of the elected officials. I mean, they are the ones making dumb moves.
The former Commission agreed to her installing security measures for her and their safety. Then once the majority changed on the dais, Vice Mayor Maxwell demanded that Stanton get rid of the door or the lock and the new commission agreed. The idea was to have a friendlier city hall and more of an open door policy. She had the door removed the very next day. Now, just a few weeks later, the new commission had the door re-installed. Why? For security reasons.
At least we had an explanation as to why the commission re-installed the door. We had no explanation when they decided to remove the city manager and once again take months of time and oodles of money to scrutinize all the recycled resumes of past city managers who got kicked out of their jobs in order to hire a new recycled one here in Lake Worth. An explanation for an inanimate object was more important that an explanation for an animate one.
The cycle continues on and the revolving door to the city manager's office is always swinging.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
As the new commission can keep its "vision" under wraps, even though some of it has now come to the surface (such as firing our top administrator, someone they do not like), the artist of this graphic wants to remain anonymous as well.
This, however, is the artist's vision of those who are now in control of our city and its destination and of some of the events over the last month: the sneaky firing of the city manager causing enormous expense and little to no public input and no awareness thus putting our city in a precarious situation; undue burden on staff to find a replacement of a permanent as well as interim city manager; the commission's uneasiness in trusting staff or any professional; appointing volunteers instead of hiring a national search firm to find a good city manager; allowing our beach park to be further commercialized by building a $6 million dollar building so that a bar can occupy 2/3rds' of the rentable space until 1am.
Right now we are a ship with half a rudder with a Finance Director with a heavy burden. Luckily Susan Stanton hired top professionals who will carry out their responsibilities to the best of their abilities.
Sort of like, "I have a Dream," the Visionaries have a "vision" and we all hope that it is revealed sooner rather than later. We have been told to forget the past and live the future, but as much as things change, they somehow always remain the same.
At last. The Robert Montgomery building is now occupied by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council after extensive renovations that seemed to go on and on, not to mention the $700,000 the CRA gave to them from taxpayer money. It will be opened to the public on January 19.
Read about it.
After I read this article I thought it interesting to post. America once thrived under a debt-free monetary system, and this article says that we can do it again. The truth is that the United States is a sovereign nation and it does not need to borrow money from anyone.
The Economic Collapse says:
"That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.
Now, that is what Henry Ford wanted to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.
But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good."
What does the Finance Advisory Board think about this?
Read all about it at The Economic Collapse.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Why I simply love politicians:
From the December 6, 2011 meeting.
Vice Mayor Maxwell said that it was unfortunate that his request to terminate the City Manager had placed the Mayor in a position to make a fast decision. It was an uncomfortable way to conduct business; however, it had to be done in the public. He apologized to the Mayor and other Commissioners for placing them in this position.
Gee, thanks, Vice Mayor. I will accept your apology at any time you care to give it. I would also like to have you give the rest of the public your reasons for doing this. So far, no reasons have been given other than you were just "uncomfortable."
Guess what? The government is phasing out standard lightbulbs. They say that the end of the standard incandescent will save consumers close to $6 billion a year on energy costs. Manufacturers are required to produce bulbs that are 30 percent more energy-efficient.
American Man says, Let me guess-we spend $4 for a lightbulb that used to cost 60 cents and we save money. Gotcha- thought it was just me, but I can ALWAYS count on the Department of Energy, (who buy their fuel from overseas), and the EPA, (we'll save the planet since God can't), to keep MY best interest at heart. It wouldn't have anything to do with taking away the basic freedoms of the American citizen to make a choice. Guess the next best thing is do away with voting and just stick to a dictator to save money.
See the PB Post for more info.
Vice Mayor Maxwell's Top Priority
It used to be Code Enforcement
Scott Maxwell put this on the Workshop Agenda last week to appease his political base. How many times do we have to hear the same presentation? How many times do we have to have this reminder? Amoroso asked about the city manager and her feelings on the Park of Commerce to imply that Stanton wasn't for progress and to justify her firing. Afterall, anyone against the Park of Commerce is out of touch and out of tune, right? Donna Brosner said that Stanton was against it but qualified it by stating that the past city manager was against it as well because of so many other priorities. I wonder why. Afterall, the price tag is hefty with us putting in all of the infrastructure and acquiring properties and we have NO money. NO MONEY. We had to reduce our Budget by $4.7 million this year because of the drop in property values and escalating Union costs. Stanton was right to "shelve" it.
On August 26, 2009, the City was awarded a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to develop an infrastructure needs analysis for the POC. The City used matching funds as I recall and the Study was done, (The Mayor doesn't like Studies) then put it on a shelf. Why was it put on a shelf? Because we HAVE NO MONEY.
Will Scott Maxwell ever admit that the timing is just bad right now to spend one dime on this? Or will he continue to pursue development and spending millions that we don't have in order to keep his political base happy. If he does, how will he pay for it? Commissioner McVoy asked that very same question. A special assessment? A General Obligation Bond? He's keeping that all secret for now.
Scott Maxwell wants the Park of Commerce to be a priority for Lake Worth. He said that he will come back with a financial plan and how to pay for it only if there is a consensus from the Commission to go forward. We don't have a pot to pee in but he wants to put the cart ahead of the horse, the very thing that he complains about on the Casino project. He says that we haven't been constant in our messaging so it's critical to find out what some of the costs will be and come together as a commission to make it happen. Funny, it is the Vice Mayor who is always bringing it to our attention about getting information before making costly decisions. He wants the commission to commit before knowing any of that.
How about giving us the financing plan first, Commissioner? That is the only thing that would make sense to go forward with the "wish" so that there are no little hang-ups in the way to get your consensus. Tell us how we are going to pay for all of this now and into the future.
According to the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, the Park, with close access to the downtown, to I-95, public transportation and an international airport, canals and water features, Lake Worth can be positioned to be the best city to do business in South East Florida. An attractive place to do business and reinvestment, the Park can become one of the best places for small businesses to be hatched and incubated they said. Sure it will, and we have to buy the properties and come up with $11 million bucks.
There are three phases that are proposed: 1 to 3 years, 4 to 7 years and phase three will be in years 8 through 15.
At the end of the meeting, Maxwell supporters and all those behind the Park of Commerce and development in our city, no matter the cost, cheered.
Using fear and isolation throughout his dictatorship, powerful leader Kim Jong Il, eternal president of North Korea, has died of a massive heart attack.
His nuclear weapons were used to threaten nearby countries as well as the U.S. He continued to build them and sell other arms to enemy nations and essentially told the world to go stick it. Under his control, North Korea became less stable and much poorer. The people were limited in everything that they could do.
"He limited their access to information, ability to travel and earn wealth. And he maintained a system of gulag-like prison camps, massive in scale and horrific in condition, to instill fear," wrote The Wall Street Journal.
This is someone who will not be missed.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
And if you think about it, there was some
heavy hitting on the dais...not exactly a ballfield
but a battlefield with the majority swinging.
Not sure what we all have to look forward to this year with three people making all of the decisions and not even listening to professional advice. Prior to this commission change, most all of the votes were decided on a 5/0. Not so now.
"Everything said and done, at the end of the day, we get the government we deserve and deserve the government we get."
~ P. Ramakrishnan
And that's what we have now at Lake Worth City Hall. This is a new government that wants to spend your tax dollars and make unwise choices. Why are they doing this? Because Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell says that it's his ball game now and he's the heavy hitter. Triolo and Amoroso are listening to Maxwell and following his lead. The Mayor's personality is even changing just like a chameleon.
Yesterday was just another waste of 3.5 hours to listen to the visionary Commission beat down all common sense. They took no advice from the professionals, the staff, or the other side of that 3/2 vote or even Kurt Bressner who is with the International City/County Management Association's Range Rider program. They dissed everyone. They knew better.
It was a heavy handed meeting with free speech even impugned. The mayor was rude to McVoy and Mulvehill calling points of order at least three times whenever they said something she did not want to hear. I thought that the Mayor was going to give an explanation as to why she fired the city manager. But that was not to be. Any reference to that action she called a Point of Order and raised her voice. The heckling in the back of the room should have been recognized. That would have been a point of order well worthwhile.
Assistant City Manager, Kathleen Margoles, has no idea how lucky she got--how lucky she is that Scott Maxwell can't stand her because his ego was bruised when she failed to give him some information that he insisted on having on beach leases. It doesn't take much to get on his bad side. When he says jump, you had better ask how high.
She got turned down to be the Interim City Manager on a political 3/2 vote (the entire meeting seemed like a Sunshine violation--already decided and pre-determined) with two weak excuses for not appointing the assistant city manager who has worked for Lake Worth for the past year:
1) The beach redevelopment and casino project. Margoles is in charge of that, although it is a team effort she said.
2) The other excuse for not appointing her was that she has only been in the job for one month as an assistant CM with the implication that she did not have the experience. When she got her title changed from Assistant to the City Manager making $68,500 to Assistant City Manger with a 10% raise, it was stated publicly that her job description was the same, that she was doing all of the duties of an assistant city manager anyway. At that time, Stanton said that her assistant job was worth $110,000 a year, not the $75,350 she is making. They would rather hire a total stranger unfamiliar with our city.
Looking out for her professional reputation, and rightfully so, Margoles stated that she wanted $120,000 as Interim City Manager which would have been 10,000 a month for 4 months. Bressner said that we would be paying a pro-rata rate based probably on the salary we were paying Stanton, or $150,000 a year to an outside replacement. As Margoles described her duties past and present, Maxwell rolled his eyes. Triolo and Amoroso said, "Gee we really think you're qualified but..." Maxwell insisted on a "fresh, new face."
Why is she lucky? Because Scott Maxwell can't terminate her employment. He could have done that if she were Interim City Manager and the commission did not have to re-instate her to her former position unless, of course, she had negotiated that in her contract.
Steve Carr, Finance Director, highly recommended her for the position saying, "You pay me to give you the best advice that I can give to you. Margoles can handle the beach and the Interim City Manager position." He further said, "The recruitment of a City Manager is arguably the most important decision any City Commission must make. The recruitment process is also one that, generally, few City Commissions have experience and expertise in designing and implementing."
The new visionary commission DID NOT listen to Mr. Carr, the second highest paid department head in the city next to the Utility Director.
Nor did they listen to the advice of Mr. Kurt Bressner of the Range Riders when he gave his professional opinion and strongly recommended that they hire a national search firm to find a new city manager and to retain Kathleen Margoles as interim city manager.
With National firms attracting the best, this new commission of Maxwell, Triolo and Amoroso, didn't listen to him any more than they listened to Steve Carr. They knew better than the professionals. "We want local people to send in their resumes. Our staff can do the work," they said. Maxwell asked about hiring a former employee for the job. Rumor has it that his supporters want to bring in Joe Kroll, (who would be nuts to take this job) who is someone they like who dutifully always performed what was asked by them. We don't need "yes" men in this position. That's when Commissioner Mulvehill stepped in--"No, Commissioner Maxwell. You said that you wanted a fresh, new face."
The new visionary commission DID NOT listen to Mr. Bressner who they invited to give them professional advice. They did not take any of his advice but hired him anyway?? Does he know what he's getting into? Wasn't there some sort of handwriting on the wall for Mr. Bressner? Of course, as a volunteer, he can quit at will.
We now will have the Range Riders searching for an interim city manager who will be in our employ for approximately 4 months who will not know one thing about our city. The Range Riders will also be in charge of finding a permanent city manager. Time is of the essence and our city has complicated issues probably more so than any other city in the State plus it owns its own Utility. Bressner and his group are only volunteers so they will work for us without compensation as their time allows.
The visionaries who fired Susan Stanton have no problem spending money. Now strangely and ironically they want to cost cut and use a volunteer group and gather local resumes for the most important job in our city and at a most important time? As this new commission has spent an ungodly sum firing Susan Stanton with no explanation, they are now trying to make up for this reckless action by ignoring professional advice to hire a national firm estimated to be at the low end of the cost of approximately $20,000 to $35,000. You have to ask why.
- Stanton severance pay: $125,000
- Range Rider services: $5 to $8,000 plus travel and office expenses.
- New City Manager: Range of $140,000 to $160,000 a year
- Pay PBSO for background checks
- An Interim-City Manager: $50,000 for 4 months plus benefits...another employee expense.
- Pile on more work for staff to check out resumes. What if they miss something essential? Who's accountable? Scott Maxwell?
- Go through all of this time and expense for what? Bressner told them that the current staff is top notch and policies in place were excellent. So all in all, we are spending a lot of money to find someone with the same qualifications of our former city manager, but someone who perhaps will be more flexible.
Although they say we get the government we deserve I can't help but believe that none of us deserve these latest decisions from this commission, their lack of respect for staff and money, Mr. Bressner, some of the public and other points of view. Respect, once again, was not shown yesterday. Petty controlling politics and vendettas prevailed that do not benefit this city.
Theory: total Control of City Hall administration
1. It was planned all along to fire Susan Stanton. Triolo and Amoroso got roped into the deception and now are prominent members of the "club," the Visionaries.
2. As no three people can possibly be this stupid, they are looking to control the resumes, control the process, control it all.
3. They shunned advice from Steve Carr for whom they have high regard. Why? He is the only employee, per Maxwell, that is qualified to step in as temporary city manager. Instead, they have forced him to act as interim, dual responsibilities, awhile longer. He has told them that this is a bad decision.
4. They ignored Bressner. They did the same with him as they did with Carr and then they appointed him to do the searchs. Why? Control.
5. They possibly want to hire "yes man" Joe Kroll as city manager, someone who previously reached his Peter Principal. Maxwell even asked about hiring a former employee. Why would he do this? Control.
6. They have a secret Agenda known only to themselves, unrevealed to the public. They are listening to some of their most vocal supporters, the Dirty Dozen, who have no respect for anyone but themselves. Why? Control.
7. Scott Maxwell really is King, not a vice mayor.
Read The Palm Beach Post article on the meeting.