Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sunset 5-31-14

PBSO Beach Patrol

Democrats call Obama 'detached' and "incompetent"


The Vision -- Greenacres and Lake Worth

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We continue to hear the same old line that Lake Worth hasn't had any development in years and the insinuation from our politicians is that it's the fault of past commissions instead of the economy. A roads infrastructure plan involving humongous debt to the taxpayers is this commission's answer to the lack of development in Lake Worth. They believe that new roads will increase property values and developers and investors will want to come. They are also asking you to pay for the infrastructure for developers at the Park of Commerce, spending $11 to $17 million.

As the demographics are essentially the same, the differences between Greenacres and Lake Worth are--they have their own police force, they do not have a utility subsidizing their operating budget and they don't have a beach.

Greenacres, has experienced the exact same economy as Lake Worth, as has nearly every city across our country. The property value in Greenacres was cut in half just like ours. It's been over 6 years since their last development.  They have a developer who will build three or four bedroom houses that are upscale and that developer will be paying for his own roads, etc. Stefan Hoyer plans to build Verona Estates  consisting of 53,  three and four-bedroom homes that will start at $249,000.



What is Lake Worth doing? Building affordable rentals on the railroad tracks as well as in the Park of Commerce, a piece of land that should have been for industrial and commercial property. In Lake Worth, it's anything for the buck--the possibility of increasing the tax base is the most important consideration.

Village at Lake Worth: 7.64 Acres, $2.25 M
Boutwell and Lake Worth Roads
Moving right along-- 216 affordable residential rental units in the Park of Commerce. We all know how affordable rentals have decimated our city.

Get your flu shot

We learned the other day that the president doesn't want to send any West Pointers into war but rather he is willing to give $5 billion from our Treasury to other countries to fight evil as well as support the Muslim Brotherhood against Syria. 

“It’s bad enough that we learn that a 2010 Pentagon memo allows the president to dispatch unarmed drones over American skies and order soldiers to dispel civil uprisings, under certain circumstances. But unleashing the military for a flu epidemic?”

Read more…

Friday, May 30, 2014

Jeff Clemens' tenacity - pushing the "high"

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Jeff Clemens just kept pushing and medical marijuana will be on the ballot as Amendment 2.  What this will lead to, and the REAL objective, is legalizing marijuana, not just for medical uses but recreational.  Read about it...


Jay Carney resigns

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It must be tough answering questions day in and day out for a President more and more on the hot seat.

 Read about... Jay Carney's resignation.

An affront to our Constitution?

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Did anyone know that this was happening?? We don't hear a thing about it.

The National Popular Vote effort is now 61 percent of the way toward its goal of legally bypassing the Electoral College established in the U.S. Constitution. It has been said that this scheme, going on for years now, is being funded by socialist George Soros with highly paid lobbyists going around to state legislatures across the country. Our Founding Fathers ensured the balance of power of the larger and smaller states through the Electoral College system that some want to destroy.

Our Constitution can be amended. It requires a two-thirds vote in both branches of Congress and must be ratified by three-fourths of the states...but Supporters of the National Popular Vote are trying to bypass this process entirely by passing legislation on a state-by-state basis. The goal is to get enough states to join the compact to produce the 270 electoral votes needed to elect a president. Free Republic

To eliminate the Electoral College would make our politics regional and corrupt. It could possibly mean that states like California (liberal), New York (liberal), Illinois (liberal...they voted for Blagojevich in 2002), Texas and Florida could control the election. California, New York and Illinois have more on welfare than are working.

Why the Framers Set Up the Electoral College

"It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of [the President]. This end will be answered by committing the right of making [the choice] not to any pre-established body, but no men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture. It was equally desirable that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to so complicated an investigation."
Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist, No. 68

Lantana beach parking decals - Simple and Succinct

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NEW DECALS CURRENTLY ON SALE FOR LANTANA RESIDENTS ONLY.

Come to Town Hall during normal business hours with your vehicle registration, drivers license, and $37.10 (includes sales tax).  If you are unable to come in, please mail a copy of your registration and drivers license.  Enclose check or money order for $37.10 (includes sales tax), a self addressed stamped envelope, and a completed Parking Decal Application.

Your license must have your correct address, and the registration must be in your name.  Decals are valid from the day you purchase until September 30, 2014.  New decals are currently available.  Non-residents have the ability to pay for parking at the meters.

So, if you have a Florida driver's license showing a Lantana address and a vehicle registered in the State of Florida, you get a beach decal in Lantana...simple and succinct and fair.

A typical Florida Democrat?

Let's hope not.  Click here

Knock-out game in Cincinnatti

Was it the knock-out game or just plain racist thuggery?  We haven't featured the racist attack "game" lately but it's still on-going.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lake Worth Crimes

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Read the latest...you won't believe what happened on Ocean Breeze.

5-29-14

Code Enforcement City of Lake Worth

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There were 2 comments submitted to this blog this morning chiding the previous commission prior to 2012 for lousy code enforcement--they were not published. Code enforcement is not about politics although some owners might get special breaks. It's all about getting off your derriere and doing the job according to our Ordinances--as well as being fair to property owners in this city. The owners' testimony should be awarded as much consideration as the city's. There are always two sides to the story.

The blog commenter said that he has seen many improvements with this new commission.  WHAT ARE THEY? Well, here are a few:

I just got back from the special magistrate's meeting and what I observed, for many of the cases, was large fines and a city citing property owners or even trying to foreclose on many of them, i.e., churches, businesses, condo associations, etc. that might possibly have a better ability to pay, for infractions that could be solved fairly. In these cases, the owners were treated like total deadbeats, their testimony discounted.

Calvary Methodist Church, 210 N. Lakeside was given a notice on a lien from 2001 that they knew nothing about. The church has a lot of volunteers, staff changes and they were surprised. It was over an air conditioner installation that was not permitted. The fine was $9,500 that has been reduced to $950 and they have 30 days to comply.

The New Church of the Nazarene was given a foreclosure notice. It is located at 806 N. Dixie. They had a fine of $549,792 and the property is now in compliance. The fine was reduced to $54,945 and they are asking to pay it off in monthly payments over 10 years.  The city wants 5 years.  These are poor folks attending this church. Perhaps they should file bankruptcy and reorganize.

A condo association at 1829 North  A Street was cited for code violations fourteen years after the fact on expired permits before the building was even under an association.  City staff will meet with the condo board and its attorney as well as the building official within the next 60 days.

Another case was a prominent businessman whose business is located on Dixie Highway and one that has been here for 30 years. The Use and Occupancy license wordage was confusing and the owner did not know he had to pay it as he thought it pertained to rental property only. He owns his own building and occupies it. The ordinance apparently changed in 2011 and the city is not compelled to give any notice to a business owner other than the public notice at a city commission meeting. The city is asking for administrative costs and fines. The Judge ordered that the city attorney research whether or not he needs to pay the back fines.

The property that an anonymous poster cited on the previous blog regarding 1312 Lucerne was on the list for foreclosure but never was called during the several hours I attended with about only one-half of the listed properties discussed.

Quote of the Day - Marco Rubio on marijuana

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“I don’t want my kids to smoke marijuana, and I don’t want other people’s kids to smoke marijuana. I think there’s no responsible way to recreationally use marijuana...it is a 'mind-altering substance' that is not good for the country.”

~ Marco Rubio

Read more...

Lake Worth Code Compliance Department

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This department is NOT gutted either:

Staff
Mark Woods, Code Compliance Manager, mwoods@lakeworth.org

Carol Mahoney, Code Compliance Technician, cmahoney@lakeworth.org
Jasmine Mayers, Code Compliance Technician, jmayers@lakeworth.org
Pamella Sawyer, Community Code Coordinator, psawyer@lakeworth.org


Compliance Officers
Gerald Coscia, Code Office, gcoscia@lakeworth.org
Larry D’Amato, Code Officer, ldamato@lakeworth.org
Marc DiNardo, Code Officer, mdinardo@lakeworth.org
Philip Gracia, Code Officer, pgracia@lakeworth.org
Nicholas Petrino, Code Officer, npetrino@lakeworth.org
Yolanda Robinson, Code Officer, yrobinson@lakeworth.org
Al Vega, Code Officer, avega@lakeworth.org

Click here for the Code Complaint process

Obama's commencement address at West Point

The president told the corps of graduating cadets that the U.S. remains the world's most indispensable nation, even after a 'long season of war,' but also argued for military restraint and a greater reliance on foreign nations. He proposed a $5 billion fund to help other countries fight terrorism. (We will just undermine our economy, print up more money or borrow more from China!) He also said that he would 'work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and a brutal dictator.' (Isn't part of the opposition the Muslim Brotherhood?)

Read more... at the Daily Mail.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tonight's Sky 5-28-14

Skank tries to rip-off "john"

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A woman who lives in the 700 block of North E Street sets up a stupid "john" to get robbed of $2,000.

Read about it...

Best place to live in Florida

Just voted the best place to live in Florida--Nope, it's not Lake Worth but it is right up the road--low crime rate and low taxes.

Find out what city it is.

Blast from the Past - Wayne Bergman, former city of Lake Worth code enforcement director

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Nothing drives me more crazy than the "gutting the code department" myth that is attributed to Susan Stanton who was hired by Lake Worth in April 2009.  Following is a speech by our former Code Enforcement Manager, Wayne Bergman, (he was also our acting building official at one time) given in September 2010 at the Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association on the code enforcement process and outstanding cases. At that meeting, he said that the department was only reduced by one.
..........................
I was asked to speak tonight about the Code Enforcement Process.  I supervise the Code Compliance Division of the Community Development Department and our primary purpose is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents and their property through the administration and enforcement of the City’s zoning and property maintenance codes.  Code Compliance inspectors investigate complaints and perform COU inspections, re-inspections and inspections ordered by the City’s Special Magistrate.  Inspectors and support staff maintain the record files on each case.  The inspectors do their best to establish communication with the offending party prior to issuing a Notice of Violation.  Once violations have been corrected and complied, an Affidavit of Compliance is issued.  If there is no cooperation, a Notice of Violation/Notice of Hearing is issued.

Violations can take several different avenues to achieve final resolution.  Some are resolved prior to Special Magistrate hearings and the case is closed by City staff.  Violations that are not brought into compliance are presented before the Special Magistrate.  Special Magistrate orders are submitted to the County Courthouse for the recording of code enforcement liens.  Upon full compliance and payment, a release of fines is prepared.  This is all in accordance with FS 162, Municipal Code Enforcement law.   Through this process the City has received 767 complaints of violations and 481 violation cases were started during the last fiscal year.  Of these, 561of the cases have been brought into compliance. 

Over the past year the City has adopted changes to Chapter 2 of the LWCOO which allows the issuance of civil citations as an alternative enforcement method under FS 162.  The ordinance changes also simplified the process to board-up and secure unsafe structures and changed the way in which the City releases code liens.

Last week the City Commission approved an ordinance that requires the registry of foreclosed buildings, which for the first time will give the City, PBSO and PBC Fire Rescue the lender’s name and contact information and also provide the City and County agencies with the property management company that maintains the property.  We are also proposing doing away with the annual COU inspection in favor of an inspection whenever there is a change in occupancy.  The annual inspection process was not workable and inspections that take place before tenants or owners occupy a building, or portion thereof, is more meaningful and is a better way to address the deterioration of the City’s building stock.  This specific ordinance was approved at first reading and could be adopted later this month.

Some of our New Initiatives:  The Code Compliance Division will improve its community relations efforts by shifting the division’s focus from an enforcement-based approach to a more customer-focused compliance process.  New division policies, training, and an emphasis on providing assistance to tenants and victims affected by absentee landlords is being implemented, and inspectors are now targeting more serious blight and safety conditions.  Code Compliance will utilize a progressive hierarchy of code enforcement with property owners, business operators and tenants by making immediate contact with the resident or tenants and giving verbal warnings for the infraction, when appropriate, with progressive follow-up. 

Some of our current and planned Goals are to:

*Provide assistance and alternatives for families displaced by unsafe buildings.

*Regularly provide code compliance information to neighborhood associations.

*Create and implement a progressive approach to code enforcement.

*Continue improvement in the collection and reduction of outstanding code enforcement fines.  As we discussed with the City Commission this past April, there was the appearance of about $70 million in uncollected code fines.  In truth most of the fines will never be collected.  To demonstrate this, we researched the top 20 largest code fine cases of the then-current 750 open cases and presented our finding to the Commission.

SUMMARY:

$13,932,275 – Top 20 Code Cases
$2,156,050 – Supplemental Cases
$6,981 – Administrative Costs
$16,095,306 - Subtotal
$756,700 – Computer Error
$2,611,700 – Remove Improper Fines
$12,726,906 – Remaining Fines, most of that wiped out by lender-initiated foreclosure actions.

Many of the code cases were simply the result of poor case management by the City in the past and revealed many properties with active, accruing fines, in excess of $1 million, for things such as dead shrubs and tall grass.>  Today we have processed about 100 of the 750 total cases and the phantom fine amount has been reduced from the $70 million in April down to $49 million, with another 650 cases left to review and adjust downward the fine amount that may be actually due the City.

Our Code Compliance staff is comprised of 9 employees and includes an Interim Code Supervisor, 2 secretaries, 5 zone inspectors, and a permit / licensing technician. We are hiring two additional inspectors to be paid by the recently awarded JAG grant.  These two new inspectors will assist the PBSO in targeting properties involved in criminal activities.  We are currently understaffed in the field, with 1 open Code inspector position and another soon to be open inspector position, although we are actively interviewing applicants.  Our Division is open Mon – Fri, 8 am to 4:30 pm, with some inspector time after hours to follow up on complaints.  The Code Compliance Division has a proposed FY 2011 budget of $912,000, which includes the 2 new JAG inspectors, board-ups, property cleaning and some limited demolitions of unsafe abandoned buildings.

Complaints can be sent to us by phone 586-1652, by email or in written form.  You can also provide the Code Compliance division the complaint through the City’s automated on-line complaint system accessible through the website. 


Trey Gowdy stands up to the Press

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Trivia on Detroit, a bankrupt city

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The city of Detroit, Michigan filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy on July 18, 2013. It is the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history by debt, estimated at $18–20 billion, exceeding Jefferson County, Alabama's $4 billion filing in 2011.[1] Detroit is also the largest city by population in the U.S. history to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, more than twice as large as Stockton, California, which filed in 2012. Detroit’s population has declined from a peak of 1.8 million in 1950; recently, the New York Times called the city “home to 700,000 people, as well as to tens of thousands of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and unlit streets. Wikipedia

Detroit and Lake Worth - Revenues and Liabilities

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A house in bankrupted Detroit

I mentioned Detroit in a blog of yesterday. Legal costs alone for the bankruptcy proceedings could cost Detroit "tens-of-millions to hundreds-of-millions of dollars. Anything is possible when liabilities far outweigh revenues. Municipal bankruptcy filings were not caused by the recent 'great recession',” says The Heritage Foundation. Rather, they represent the inevitable demise of big-government, liberal policies promoted by self-interested politicians and the coercive public employee unions that support them.

Detroit’s leaders engaged in a billion-dollar borrowing binge, created new taxes and failed to cut expenses when they needed to. Simultaneously, they gave workers and retirees generous bonuses. And under pressure from unions and, sometimes, arbitrators, they failed to cut health care benefits — saddling the city with staggering costs that today threaten the safety and quality of life of people who live here. Detroit Free Press

We haven't done well in paying down the 2004 Utility System Revenue bonds that were refinanced twice.  How much money did that cost the taxpayers? That debt still owed is $54,030,000.00 in principal and $11.8 million in interest that won't be paid off until 2028. There is $15,292,125.28 remaining still in the Electric side and there are no unspent bond proceeds left for water. All of the bond money for water went towards the RO Plant.

We still owe $6,809,683 on the reverse osmosis, on a loan agreement with the Environmental Protection Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund program that is not due to be paid off until 2031 plus another $1.8 million in interest. Why did we borrow money for that anyway? It was already covered in the Utility bond of 2004. We have more debt than this but no one is telling you that, at least not the guy who says he believes in smaller government. 

We still owe $2,822,400 on the ECR bonds plus interest.

If you go to page 87 in the C.A.F.R you will see the unfunded liabilities which are even more millions because this is through 2012.

Thursday night, Scott Maxwell said he believed in smaller government. But with his LW 2020 plan we get bigger government. “Smaller” government means that taxes are less and government spends less.  How do we get smaller government here in Lake Worth when you have little revenue and the only solution is to double the city's outstanding debt and tax the people?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Sun Setting on Lake Osborne

Featuring WPEC Reporters

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This blog, unlike the other one, does not do hatchet jobs on people to win a political point nor does it take comments out of context and write personal repulsive attacks. We have featured the reporters that have taken disgusting hits to bring them down and ruin their integrity. It started by the bully the day after the Lake Worth abandoned vehicle video by WPEC of February 27. As this is a big news organization, I wonder if they can sue or do they just chalk it up to the cost of the free press and let you, their audience, decide. More than likely, they take the high road and don't let insignificant, inconsequential anonymous people get in their way of reporting fact. From the WPEC web site:

Lauren Hills - Reporter Lauren Hills joined the CBS12 News team in November 2011 as a general assignment reporter. Lauren was born in Houston, Texas, but moved to West Palm Beach when she was about 5 and grew up here. She attended Cardinal Newman High School and Wellington High School, where she graduated in 2000. Lauren earned a college basketball scholarship to West Liberty State College outside of Wheeling, W.Va., and played there for three years before transferring to the University of Florida to pursue broadcast journalism, a field she's wanted to be in since she was about 12. She majored in telecommunications and reported for UF's campus TV and radio stations, graduated in 2005, and landed her first job in TV in a small market in Morgantown, W.Va. She reported for WBOY 12 News for two years before heading south and reporting for NBC 17 News in Raleigh, N.C., for three years. Lauren is very excited to now be reporting for CBS12 News in the area where she grew up and loves! Lauren is a big fan of the Gators and Mountaineers, and tries to catch a game whenever she can. When she's not reporting, you can find her running (two half-marathons under her belt!), reading, and traveling (at least, she's trying to do more of that!).

Michael Buczyner - Reporter Michael Buczyner is an Emmy Award winning journalist who joined the CBS12 News team in July of 2013. Michael was raised in Weston, Fla., and is thrilled to call South Florida home once again. Michael is a proud graduate of The University of Missouri School of Journalsim (Go Tigers!) Prior to joining the CBS12 News family, Michael worked in Miami, Fla.; Augusta, Ga.; Baltimore, Md.; and Atlanta, Ga. Michael's background is in investigative journalism. He has received several Associated Press Awards for his in-depth investigative stories. The National Capital Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Michael in 2009 with an Emmy Award for his reporting on the "Making of a Marine." When he's not at work, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. Michael is a foodie and is constantly searching for the best bbq and delis in South Florida. When he's not on the hunt for great food, he enjoys playing golf and relaxing at the beach.

Peter Schaller - Reporter Peter Schaller has been a reporter for CBS 12 News since May 2009. In January 2010, he was on scene as local police broke big news. They had just captured Paul Michael Merhige, the man accused of killing four family members in Jupiter on Thanksgiving Day in 2009. Peter believes that this job carries the responsibility to inform, educate and connect with people living in South Florida. Peter was born in New York, where most of his family still lives today. He started his career interning with WBNG-TV, the number one television station in southern New York and northern Pennsylvania. Next, Peter anchored and reported for KREX-TV in Grand Junction, Colo. His investigative reporting on oil and gas wastewater pits, and their effects on local families, helped change Colorado law. The governor invited the people profiled in his exclusive series to the signing of the "buffer zone" law, and now these toxic pits will never go in anyone's backyard. He also reported on wildfires, snowstorms, plane crashes and the 2008 presidential campaign. Peter also covered the fire that destroyed the KREX-TV building in 2008, and he got his hands dirty as the station rebuilt from the ground up. He's happy to now be in sunny Florida, trading mountains for beaches, aspens for palm trees. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Binghamton University. Like any New Yorker, he loves to hear what's on your mind.
Channel 12 is deleting videos that have a negative story and those that put Lake Worth in any sort of truthful light. Has this current administration  "gotten to them?"  We know that the Wes Blackman Blog did a hatchet job on Channel 12 as well as Katie McGiveron and myself the day after we were interviewed about abandoned cars in Lake Worth.  Comment on that blog is libelous and the b log author allows his blog to be smut personified..

Back on February 27, 2014, they did a segment on abandoned vehicles in Lake Worth and Katie and I got to make a statement. They deleted the video that was produced on abandoned cars in Lake Worth. Why is that? Iis it intimidation from the Lake Worth officials? Did WPEC fall for the ploy and the suggestion that they weren't being fair to the city? That they interviewed the "disgruntled" opposition?  Has the free press been compromised? We no longer see videos on the slum, blight or crime in our city.

Following is the text of that video:

The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Lake Worth residents frustrated with abandoned properties, graffiti

Story by Lauren Hills / CBS 12 NEWS

LAKE WORTH, Fla. - Abandoned properties, graffiti, and damaged cars.

"It's been an ongoing problem," said Katie McGiveren, Lake Worth resident. "Blight breeds blight and we're very frustrated."

Lake Worth has about 1,500 homes in foreclosure and about 2,000 abandoned ones.

McGiveren says abandoned cars are also becoming a problem.

There's one on 3rd Ave. south with flat tires and a notice that says it would be towed away.

Those who live nearby say the vehicle has been there for months, despite the city ordinance that says inoperative vehicles cannot be stored on any premises.

"It seems like we're becoming a dumping ground for people with junk cars and they leave them here," said Lynn Anderson, Lake Worth resident. "We want to see improvements it's our city, home, and want it to be a beautiful place."

Code enforcement posts violation notices on abandoned properties and it lists multiple options for the owner within a certain time frame.

Crime at Murry Hills

Murry Hills--getting closer


BURGLARY - RESIDENCE--14078310--2900 BLOCK CYNTHIA LN--Palm Beach County Sheriff--5/27/2014 3:26:00 AM

The Strategy and the Dream

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Damore, Bowler and Nicholson in their paper, “Agenda Setting by Direct Democracy: Comparing the Initiative and the Referendum” (State Politics and Policy Quaterly, forthcoming) considers if agenda setters use the referendum process to extract greater spending than the median voter desires. Some of this research indicates that voters are less likely to support state referendum for tax increases but that between 1990 and 2008, 80 percent of bond referendums received voter approval.

As to the need for particular language in a general obligation bond, there are strategies. The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) lists six steps governments can take to improve their chances of getting a bond approved. This includes, “measure design” or “developing ballot language that appeals to voters and clearly explains how this measure addresses the particular issue targeted by the bonds meets the needs of the community.” I would suppose that the city has solicited this expertise--just another thing that will be reimbursed to them from the bond proceeds.

On ballot language

During the last decade debt has spun out of control, as states and cities have increased their borrowing to indulge in more and more spending on new stadiums, schools, bridges, and infrastructure. And we can't forget the national debt of $17.5 trillion. Governments have even started borrowing to cover their basic operational expenses as Lake Worth is doing.  We can't live within our means.  We haven't allotted enough money for road repairs in our budget (reduced it in half actually), and now we are being asked to vote in a general obligation bond to pay for what was 50% of the roads that is now 30% and the amount they want has gone up $2 mil from the original presentation.

So, those with the higher property values are going to take the high road and vote this in for the greater good of the city? As property values normally rise, as we come out of this recession, everyone will be paying higher taxes down the road. Lake Worth has factored in a 4% property value increase for 30 years! Did they pick this out of a hat? In September 1995, Florida's Governor and Cabinet approved a rule directing property appraisers to raise the assessed value of a qualifying homestead property by the maximum of 3% or the annual change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less, on all properties assessed at less than full market value whether or not that property's value increased during that calendar year.  Inflation Rate Forecast

When commissioners and officials don't give all of the facts or withhold information or even give false information, are they in violation of any law?  Is full disclosure mandatory? Are they subject to penalty?

We all will be stuck with the debt for three decades so that the city can attract more affordable housing, more spending and replenish its coffers? Is the city going to do anything different to get rid of the slum, the blight and the crime aside from passing ordinances that are unenforceable?

I'm just not convinced about Lake Worth's Field of Dreams with no Plan B because of its timing, the lack of details being offered and getting a poor city strangled by debt. It's an uneasy feeling, but going into debt should be. We don't want to be Detroit.

Lake Worth's 2020 - Hell or High Water - Going with the odds

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Sign built on taxpayer money to "sell" the LW 2020 plan?

Does it say on the sign "Paid political advertisement?" Is the city registered as a political action committee... do they have to promote the "fors" and the "against" when it comes to a ballot initiative? When I talk about the "against," I am talking about the term and the cost of the debt.

First of all folks, it's a 'vision' filled with dogged tenacity by this commission and if you disagree, the odds are you will be ostracized. The odds are stacked against you on any initiative put forward by a local government  because most of them pass. Even when the voters WON an election in 2013 and told them what we thought, our politicians told us to drop dead using tax dollars and the city's legal department to come up with a law that was signed three months after the election that reverted back to 2011.

This commission is betting on their vision by playing the odds. They need your cash. The city needs the cash even more. Winning is all in the strategy and in the language and on top of all of that, the city has the money to spend on its success...your tax dollars working against you, if you will.  Even though our highly informed residents in Lake Worth know we need some road improvements, they are wondering if we need $63.2 million worth right now for a bond that really costs $131 million.. Do we really need to vote them ALL this money at once? I believe that the majority of the electorate is being very cautious regarding this huge debt along with its term. They know it's so much more than the cost of a hamburger. Stupid, we're not.

The one thing that the city did do throughout this process, was change some of the numbers, some of the strategy.  They learned through their mistakes and listened to the criticism that they were getting from their political friends. The rest of us, forget about it.  The one thing that all of us learned throughout the process is that the bond referendum is going forward in August, hell or high water.  This could possibly be the lowest turn-out in history for a vote of this magnitude but it's anyone's guess.

The city is counting on low turn-out and therefore they have reached out to those who always take an interest in what's going on. They have appealed to demographic areas that need roads by erecting signs. They have conducted community meetings where a possible 200 people total turned out all over the city in order to spread their word. They know that very few people ever turn out for meetings and are apathetic but they can say, in all good conscience, we held the meetings for all who were interested--we did our bit.

Many in our community don't read the daily newspaper nor do they go to the Lake Worth web site and have no idea that they soon could be in more million dollar debt with a tax increase for 30 years.  The city is urging their political cronies to spread their word throughout the community and are hoping for their help to bring the vote home. They, more than likely, have even come down hard on the local media to go softer on Lake Worth when reporting the dilapidated houses, the slum and the blight and to give them a break. You can witness this on Channel 12 as its direction has changed. It's the "poor Lake Worth" syndrome..."give them a break; they are trying." Through these probable and likely appeals, they have stifled the press and have received a positive editorial from the Palm Beach Post.

Everything is going their way...they are appealing to the pot-hole mentality not the long-term consequences of tremendous debt--living on ad-valorem taxes of $5,646,125. There is no more time for them to answer the hard questions if they even knew the answers.

Monday, May 26, 2014

John Boehner on Memorial Day


Let's Eliminate the Free Lunch

As we have talked from time to time about ridiculous commission travel and entertainment expenses that have already exceeded budget for 2014, the Post has now exposed the director of the Port of Palm Beach for doing the very same thing. Read about it here.

The five port commissioners budget themselves $6,000 a year for annual travel but have a policy that if one doesn’t use his or her allotment, the others can use it, up to the total of $30,000. Here in Lake Worth, the budget used to be $30,000 a year and then it was cut in half.  In 2012, the commission agreed to limit spending to $1,700 per elected official per trip. The only dissenter to the vote was Amoroso. I guess he believes, along with the vice mayor, that you should be able to spend in any manner you choose as the city manager approves it all anyway.  The overall yearly budget for all 5 commissioners is $15,000, or $3,000 a piece. 

Isn't it high time that officials and employees in Lake Worth bite the bullet and cease all travel and seminars especially when we are the 2nd poorest city in Palm Beach County and they are asking taxpayers to swallow the bullet--approving $63 million in long-term debt and spend another $20 million when we already have debt on the books that has not been paid off?  The commission asks us to swallow their explanation that travel is beneficial for the city but never have they given a presentation on what's been accomplished--not once, never, nada.  Let's eliminate the free lunch so that the city can stop choking on the frivolous.

Lake Worth's Memorial Day Service

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With barely any advertisement in local newspapers,  the service at Pinecrest Cemetery had perhaps 80 people in attendance.   In spite of the lack of advertisement, the sparse attendance is due to disaffected and apathetic Americans and how they treat today as a three day weekend and a time for barbecue. They don't show up to honor all those who fought for our freedoms. We are lucky to be living in the greatest country on Earth, thanks to all of them. We should NEVER forget that.

The key address was given by Col. Robert Ames, USAF Ret. who spoke the truth about what has happened across the world and how our brave soldiers have not had the support they deserve. There is too much apathy from people who don’t seem to understand the sacrifice of U.S. servicemen and women.

It's a sad day honoring our dead and even a sadder day knowing that there are Americans who just don't give a damn.  Thanks to all those who showed up today, some of whom were: Mayor Pam Triolo (great speech but I liked last year's best!), Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, Commissioner John Szerdi, May and Sam Goodstein, Helen Marino, Mary Lindsey, Tammy Panza, Marshall Pass, Jeff Clemens, Greg Rice, Honey Duncan and Helen Greene.

Lake Worth's New Electric Meters

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We just got ours installed on Friday.

It was announced at the time that Customers using outdated meters would be notified of the amount their bills would likely increase to after new meters were installed and old meters were tested to determine how much power they were not recording. Has anyone received this notification?

We were told that they are not Smart Meters but they're smarter than what we had. It's been reported that 70% of the total 18,200 residential meters are older than their useful life and consequently, according to the city, have been costing $600,000 in lost revenue per annum. The old meters will be replaced as needed. These new digital meters replace the old electro-mechanical meters at a cost to the city of $2.5 million. Meter readers will no longer have to get out of their trucks to "read" the meter.

As this five year replacement program was to begin in the early part of 2013, it would be interesting to see if the city is gaining on the revenue side in spite of the 4.5% electric reduction and how many years it will take to recapture the cost.


AND, We've come a long way, baby!

Greenacres on a development boom

If Greenacres can attract developers, why can't Lake Worth?  Oh, that's right...we have lousy roads and we don't have infrastructure at the Park of Commerce, acreage that we don't even own. It wouldn't have anything to do with our slum, blight and crime either.

Read about it...

Memorial Day - Weapon for Freedom


The Age of Obama

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You might think a Christian nation like the U.S. with a Christian president would come to the rescue of a pregnant Christian mom facing a death sentence for standing up for Jesus. But then again, we're living in the age of President Barack Obama ...

Read the latest now on WND.com

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunset 5-25-14

Quote of the Day - Shanon Materio

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"It will take a lot of money to get Benzaiten up and running. If you walk into this kind of situation and are too thin financially, you won’t succeed, It’s one of those things that will take a while to kick in.”

~ Shanon Materio,
 a West Palm Beach city commissioner who owns McMow Art Glass in Lake Worth speaking about the Benzaiten Center, the old 10,000 s.f. FEC railway station building that was leased just 6 months ago from the City of Lake Worth for $1 a year for 20 years.

The amazing thing about Lake Worth is that it continues to "lease" out/give away our city owned property for $1 a year or negligible amounts and then they cry "poverty."

Read more...

And here's an example of another one where the city pays all the utilities. Click here

Studio Seven Lake Worth

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At 1515 Lake Avenue, a new business will soon have its grand opening--Studio Seven, which is full of period pieces that owner Daniel Bellante has collected over the years. He used to have a shop in Delray and now occupies this space on Lake that was a small nursery, hidden by foliage. A vehicle ran into one section of his wrought iron gates in the front and they should be replaced very soon.

Daniel says that he might have a coffee and afternoon tea area in the garden and plans to also sell plants.

Justice Assistance Grant

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CITY OF LAKE WORTH
NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY FOR PUBLIC REVIEW AND COMMENT
FY 2014 JUSTICE ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM APPLICATION

The City of Lake Worth intends to submit an application to the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Assistance for $33,102 in funds made available under the Fiscal Year 2014 Justice Assistance Grant Program. Based on input from City residents at a public meeting held on May 13, 2014, the City will request that these funds be made available to retain the Recreation Leader position to provide individual case management for at-risk youth participating in the After school and Crime Prevention programs that are being conducted at the City’s Youth Empowerment Centers, which are located at the Osborne Center and the Norman Wimbley Gymnasium.

The City Commission will consider the authorization to submit this application at its Regular Meeting of June 3, 2014, which starts at 6:00 PM. The meeting will be conducted in the Commission Chambers, First Floor, City Hall, 7 North Dixie Highway, Lake Worth, FL 33460.

The draft application is currently available for review and comment by the public at the City Manager’s Office, First Floor, City Hall, 7 North Dixie Highway, Lake Worth, FL 33460 during regular business hours. Public review and comment of the grant application will be made available through June 16, 2014. For further information please contact Jerry Kelly, Grants Analyst, at 561.533.7358.
Publication Date: May 22, 2014, Lake Worth Herald

Lake Worth's Consent Agenda Creep


The city is absolutely certain that the Bond Initiative will pass. Members of the commission have no patience with anyone who disagrees with what they want to do. It even has lobbied and convinced some members of the press. On May 6th, the city voted to pay itself  back for any capital costs for the city's road infrastructure plan, resolution 20-2014. No details. Does this go back to 2001 when they first even mentioned the Park of Commerce? This was placed on the Consent Agenda along with ten other items that the commission did not feel warranted any discussion one of which was the purchase of two trucks for nearly one-half mil. Did we need to spend this money at this time?

SECTION 6. The City will, upon receipt of the proceeds of the bonds (or within 30 days thereof), allocate in writing the amount of proceeds of the bonds (i.e., the reimbursement bond issue) used to reimburse the prior capital expenditures incurred in connection with the Projects (herein, the “Prior Expenditures”). Such allocation will be accomplished within the later of 18 months from the earliest date such Prior Expenditures were incurred or the date the Projects are placed in service (but in no event later than 3 years after the first Prior Expenditure was made).

They don't, however, mention WHAT THEY (expenditures) WERE OR HOW MUCH THEY WERE or what they are even projected to be.  Will they be reimbursing themselves $1 mil, 5 mil, 12 mil,  more?...the free lunch? This is a real clever way to replenish the funds from which they "borrowed." So how much will really go into the roads, sidewalks and lighting?

There was also a resolution, 25-2014, on the Consent Agenda for a second amendment to the 2014 budget:

1.  Water Fund:  Revision to capital projects anticipated for master infrastructure plan--$5,341,297
2.  Sewer Fund: Revision to capital projects anticipated for master infrastructure plan--$3,941,913

Robert's Rules says: The consent agenda allows members to vote on a group of items en bloc (as a group) without discussion. This is a good way to dispose of business that is noncontroversial. Approving the minutes, paying the bills, and approving customary donations are examples of noncontroversial business. For an organization to use a consent agenda, it needs to adopt a special rule of order.

Nothing should be put on consent Agenda unless it is an innocuous piece of legislation that does not affect the taxpayers.  Consent Agenda Creep has afflicted agendas ever since we hired a new city manager and elected a new commission whose goal is to end all meetings early. More and more items that deserve public discussion and review or even just a brief explanation are relegated to the silent zone. State law has now changed where they have to give us time to speak on them. If there were no laws in place, everything would be on the Consent Agenda in Lake Worth. We are relegated to two minutes for the entire Consent items.

Also, nothing should, however, be placed on the Consent Agenda, that costs a substantial amount of money or policy that affects us all. A consent agenda should be designated to the routine, procedural, informational and self-explanatory non-controversial items together for a single affirmative vote. When it isn't, it's just a way of sneaking in an item under the radar...another reason why we don't fully trust the city and another reason why they will have some difficulty convincing the voters to 30 years of more debt.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sunset 5-24-14

Crime- guess where


Crime Map

Ground Truth - Benghazi on 9-11-12

Covert weapons schemes, Ansar-al-Sharia, betrayal, you name it.

Allen West says,
Benghazi and the operations in Libya are shrouded in a fog of lies, deceit, manipulation, threats, intimidation, coercion, abandonment, and worst of all, potentially treason.

Read more at Allen West.com.

On LW 2020 and the General Obligation Bond

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The recent editorial in the Palm Beach Post is extremely generous with other people’s money-the Lake Worth taxpayers-by its suggestion that we add an additional burden of 3.43 mills for 30 years to our already over taxed property owners to pay for the neglect of the past 50 years and to add infrastructure to benefit residents for the next 100 years. Waterfront property owners could possibly see annual tax increases of several thousand dollars.

Do you think it equitable to burden the present homeowner for past and present neglect and for a future which only a very small number will be around to enjoy? In addition, our Commission was planning a revenue bond for $14 million for water pipe replacement which is now off the table as it is not legally possible, and 16% higher water rates.

This is the same Commission that ran on lowering electric rates to attract business and homeowner investment. (Lowering electric rates was able to be accomplished because a 5 year notice was given to FMPA in 2008 of our desire to exit by a past Commission for whom they excoriate at every opportunity.)

Does the present Commission think that a huge increase in both taxes and water rates will encourage investment in our community? A much more sensible and equitable approach would be to address the water distribution system on an as needed basis. A water supervisor told me a few weeks ago that they are aware of the pipes most in need of replacement.

The “tens of thousands of dollars a year” the City allegedly “burns through” likely refers to the salaries of the employees who patch the roads. A small investment in better equipment and use of a greater quantity of asphalt can make the fixes longer lasting.

Cities all over America have neglected infrastructure and with little means to afford replacement, so Lake Worth is not alone. It is time for our Commission and City Manager to come up with a new and less grandiose plan to gradually improve our infrastructure without penalizing the present taxpayers. And now we learn that the $62.3 million bond will really amount to $131 million when it is all said and done.

Laurence McNamara

Cop can order subordinates to attend mosque says the Judge

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A panel of federal judges in Denver, in an opinion written by Judge Harris Hartz, found that it is perfectly appropriate for a police chief to order subordinates to attend an Islamic mosque where Muslims “discussed Islamic beliefs, Muhammad, Mecca, and why and how Muslims pray” in addition to encouraging officers “to buy” Islamic books and pamphlets that were for sale.

Read more at WND

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sunset 5-23-14

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Lake Worth beach and Olympic pool

Electric Cars and Charge Stations

Car battery being charged in downtown Manhattan
photo by Roving Photographer

New York City has them and now La Guardia--Electric Vehicle Charging Stations. Car Charging Group reports that "an estimated 40 million plug-in electric vehicles are expected to be on the road by 2030. This is not only great news for consumers, but also an huge step forward in green technology and for environmental sustainability causes. Hopefully in the near future, EV charging stations will be considered the norm rather than the alternative."


And coming--The solar-powered EV ARC charger

It consists of a parking pad and a canopy of solar panels that charge a 21.6 kilowatt-hour battery. No power grid, construction, or permits needed. The big idea: Municipalities and businesses will buy the solar chargers and set them in parking spaces on city streets, parking lots and at retailers, moving them around as needed.

Prices, Lists

The Devil is in the Details

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The salesman

When buying a car, there are a lot of car shoppers that aren't too car savvy...and car salesmen have that reputation of cheating poor families out of a lot of money by selling them terrible cars with terrible financing "deals." And when you go to finance that car, that salesman is always letting you know what your monthly payment will be, with little emphasis on the principal and interest and the total cost. This is what your commissioners are counting on and doing to you.

The devil is always in the details and last night's "sales" job was no exception.

The $63.2 million bond issue that the "salesmen" are rushing you to vote on has a tremendous price tag. All of those details are uncertain at this time but many of them are known but have not been revealed to you, the guy who will be paying for it all.

The true amount
at this time is
$131,013,442.

One Hundred Thirty One million dollars! The finance department is using an estimate of 5.50% at this time to determine the overall cost of the 2020 program.   "We are using a cost of issuance for the total amount of the issue of $63,200,000 to be $900,000," says our finance director, Mr. Wood.  He further stated that "no detail costs can be established until there is an authorization to move this program forward."

Sheryl Steckler at the Lantana Chamber of Commerce Meeting

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"YOU have the power to make a difference"

Yesterday I attended the Lantana Chamber of Commerce meeting which was open to the public. Sheryl Steckler, Inspector General, was the speaker. This is a gal that the people absolutely respect and love and a gal that many politicians hate. We all made a great decision four years ago when we voted to fund this office.

Aside from being an amazing woman and advocate of the people, I have to say that she was the most interesting speaker I have heard in years. In spite of the politics against her efforts, she has done an astonishing job in the four years she has been in Palm Beach County. Her job is up in just a few weeks and the Lantana Chamber was lucky to have her as a speaker.

She stressed the importance of audits and says to conduct risk based, independent audits that will focus on helping management strengthen controls in areas most susceptible to fraud, waste and abuse and improve the economy and efficiency of operations in areas where there are opportunities for significant cost savings. Lake Worth does have an internal auditor, Kenneth Oakes, appointed in December 2012 and hired on January 8, 2013, who we rarely see. There is no regular reporting spot for him on the Agenda. He was scheduled to report at a public meeting recently but it was pulled with no explanation.

She spoke of past cases and those successes even mentioning Lantana where it had received bad legal advice on a contract while Michael Bornstein was manager that cost the city $38,000. You left the meeting knowing that her department has not yet penetrated the tip of the iceberg and city governments are being more cautious as they know someone is watching them...Lots of corruption still going on in this county and she tells you that if you see illustrations of suspected waste, fraud, misconduct, mismanagement or other abuses, report it to the Office of Inspector General, one of the few offices truly for the people.   Click here.

OIG Dashboard

6/28/2010 - 3/31/2014





Questioned and/or Identified Costs

$11,169,088

Details