Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kinky in Lake Worth

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Whipped into a frenzy

Lake Worth: A man discovered his laptop computer and Xbox 360 missing from his residence in the 300 block of North K Street. He told a deputy he lets a female friend use his apartment for dominatrix activities with an unknown man, as she lives at home with her parents. He said she had used his apartment multiple times in the past, and nothing went missing. He was unable to contact the woman, but he provided deputies with her name and date of birth.

Read the other police blotters.

Triathlon Coming again to Lake Worth

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Lake Worth High Graduate, Larry Anderson
He will be participating again
September 17 & 18

A message from the Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce:

We are in need of volunteers for our 2011 Tropical Triathlon September 17th. If you haven’t helped at this event you are really in for a treat! This is an exciting event with world class competitors. We will need volunteers to keep this event safe and to function smoothly.
On Saturday September 17th we need help from 3:00 pm to 7pm to help with the packet pickup. Racers will arrive at Benny’s on the Pier and pickup their information and race items. They must show identification and their USAT ID or pay the one day fee of $10 we need help in this area. We need 10 people to help in this area, please consider bringing a friend or family member to help this is after all a friendly family sport.

On Sunday September 18th we need help at the Pier location, Transition area, body marking, timing chip, water distribution, race course, and medal ceremony.

Volunteers arrive at 5:30am and finish about 9:30am. Volunteers who are helping on the course will arrive at Bryant Park at 5:45am. Community Service hours will be given for students who need them.

Please give some of your time to make this a successful event and one that promotes Lake Worth as a great place to live work and PLAY!!!

It's the People's Fault

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It's always someone else's fault

In our case, property values fell to a record level of 47% over two years. This past year it was reported that property values fell 3.57%. Why then are we getting huge tax increases and special assessments this year? Did you do this to yourself? We know that the City has to pay for services. However, it does not have to pay for 60% of the capital improvements in this year's budget. Does it? It doesn't have to create funky ways of taxing people. Does it? It doesn't have to pay for ridiculous Union retirement plans, does it? Yes it does.

Blogs Play a Part in Public Opinion

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As of 11:07 today, there were 637 hits to this blog--not 15. The end of the day on Blogger is at 8pm.

As our residents do care how decisions impact their lives, more people want to hear what the people think. This blog is only my assessment and there are varied opinions out there. Let's hear from you.

A Moral Dilemma - Special Assessment in Lake Worth

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I have been trying to ascertain how much the City Manager will make by changing the 1.3 mils for a portion of the fire/rescue of $1.8 million to the special assessment of $60 per s.f. for residences and the price per s.f. for commercial. I put in a public information request and received the information below. This is all about what the CM considers "fair" and that everyone, regardless of income pay a fixed sum for a "service" that in this case is NOT a service.

Taxes Based Fire

1.3 Mills Assessment Difference

Residential Parcels
1.3 mils: $922,349
$60 per household: $939,300
Difference: ($16,951)

Non-Residential Parcels
1.3 mils: $427,494
price per s.f.: $476,533
Difference: ($49,039)

Mixed Use Parcels
1.3 mils: $33,376
price per s.f.:$39,414
Difference: ( $6,038)

So, we went through that entire rigmorole that took taxpayer money and hours to be able to satisfy the City Manager's moral desire to tax everyone the same in order to make $72,028.

PATHETIC. A moral judgment is being used to tax the poor disproportionately to their income and ability as well as their property value...the city manager's definition of justice. The Commission agrees. The City Commission has forgotten its mission.

L Street Parking Lot - Can of Worms

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Oh yeah, we're making money!

The L Street Parking Lot is never full. In fact, it is always empty other than perhaps Friday night and weekends where you might find a few vehicles. Susan Stanton, when asked by the Commission, said that it was making money. How much? $2 a day? The Commission never asked, "Well, how much money are we paying for the Lease and how much revenue are we generating?" Would not that be a normal question when you are going to approve a budget.

The Commission never approved a parking pay station downtown. It just appeared and a Lease agreement was on the desk of resigned Mayor Rene Varela. We were then subsequently informed of the deal. This is a highly questionable transaction. And speaking of Varela, he was the one who constantly pushed for special assessments. He wanted everything but the kitchen sink put on special assessments. If you don't like assessments, we can blame him for supporting and pushing for the whole horrible and unfair idea of which you have not yet seen the worst. He was instrumental in opening the can of worms.

The Scenario: The City entered into a Contract on February 1, 2011 to September 30, 2011 for the sum of $10,000 which comes to $1,250 a month which seems like a reasonable rate. It was signed by the Parties (Mayor Rene Varela signing for the City) on February 10, 2011. We will pay the owners, Lucerne Holdings LLC, rent and charge parking fees to those using the parking lot thus helping to off-set the cost to the taxpayers of Lake Worth and hopefully paying for the Lease. How much did the black-topping cost? How much did that pay station cost? On top of all of that, one of the problems with this and never addressed is the simple fact that there is no one there to write tickets and/or collect fines. This was all a dirty rotten decision by Staff to get downtown parking pay-stations in the City in spite of all of the rest of us who said "no."

This lease is coming up for renewal in 30 days. Commissioners, make sure that you are not, once again, opening a can of worms by allowing paid parking into our downtown. Ask all the right questions but most of all, ask the residents and the downtown merchants whether they want pay stations downtown and what our expenses are for this lease. The argument now will be, well if we don't continue on with it then the owner can put in a pay station--we've already spent all of this money to improve someone else's property so why not just keep paid parking there? We can't get that worm back into the can.

Also, don't screw up the 4 hour parking time limit and change that either, unless you really want the downtown to be a ghost town.

We gave you an emphatic "no" last year on parking pay stations, as did the Finance Advisory Board, in spite of the fact that a few of you wanted paid parking downtown. Stanton found a way of getting it and many of you are on that former Commission that said nothing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fawn gets rescued



We all need a little uplift from time to time especially since the BS of special taxes--

The Story told by the man who noticed the deer:

YEA FOR FIREFIGHTERS!!!!!!
On the morning of May 18th 2011, my wife noticed a deer in our yard that appeared to be frantically looking for something in the rocks that form a wall on our property line in Brush Prairie, WA.

When we first went out with our neighbors, we didn't see anything but the deer that wouldn't leave our yard. We went back to our house and watched and after a few minutes the deer came back. We went out to the area the deer was concentrating on and could hear a baby fawn crying in the rocks. We moved some of the rocks and smaller boulders and saw baby fawn's face in the rocks. He had apparently fallen in or crawled in through one of the gaps and was now trapped. The larger boulders were too heavy to move and we didn't want to have the rocks cave in on the baby deer.

We finally called our Clark County Fire District 3. The B Shift team came out and they were able to move the larger rocks out of the way with the Jaws of Life enough to be able to reach in to pull the baby fawn out and then reunited it with its momma. The fawn was probably stuck in there most of the night and quickly went to nurse off its momma. One of our neighbors took some video clips of the fire department's rescue. I edited the clips into this short clip.

After sharing it with some friends, they thought that it was just too cute not to share with more people, so my neighbor agreed to let me upload the final clip.

No News is Good News - Internal Auditor

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Back on September 9, 2009, our Internal Auditor got screwed. Royally.

The city manager let his contract die by not putting it on the agenda to be renewed. She had huge concerns that his Audit would be very, very, dirty for the 2nd year in a row “because it appears our people don’t know what they are doing." She further stated that, “I think they, as well as me, will ask, ‘where is the Internal Auditor in all of this mess.’”

Now, the internal auditor exposes “messes.” They don’t create them. Scot Menke, our internal auditor at the time, stressed the independence of the position and in order to be effective, that independence could not be impugned.

In the City Manager Report #21 for the week ending October 2, 2009, she used the excuse and concern, as she did yesterday, that “the resource that the City is expending on all administrative efforts is getting the maximum return on taxpayer investment.” She questioned the “cost effectiveness” of having an internal auditor and thus, decided that she had to become much more involved in the financial management of the City to ensure financial reporting and accounting was professional, accurate and timely.

Scot Menke strongly urged the City Commission to restore the independence of the internal auditor in any future internal audit services.

I am assuming that the City Commission was convinced by the City Manager in one of her one-on-one weekly “informative sessions” that we no longer needed an IA and at that point, the City Manager ended the internal auditor position. I don't recall that this ever appeared on an agenda for a vote.

No news is good news. Out of sight, out of mind.

Wind Turbines near Belle Glade?


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Palm Beach County has given the go ahead on a firm, Wind Capital Group from St. Louis, to install Wind turbines on thousands of acres of sugar land near Belle Glade.

Wind turbines were recommended on our beach redevelopment and are extremely noisy. As those involved say that even turtle lighting will cost us millions, perhaps the lofty idea of wind turbines has been eliminated from our beach. Michael Trebilcock, a Professor of Law and Economics, University of Toronto, says:

An excerpt from his article written in April 2009 says, "There is no evidence that industrial wind power is likely to have a significant impact on carbon emissions. The European experience is instructive. Denmark, the world’s most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind power’s unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).

Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company ELSAM (one of Denmark’s largest energy utilities) tells us that “wind turbines do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” The German experience is no different. Der Spiegel reports that “Germany’s CO2 emissions haven’t been reduced by even a single gram,” and additional coal- and gas-fired plants have been constructed to ensure reliable delivery.

Indeed, recent academic research shows that wind power may actually increase greenhouse gas emissions in some cases, depending on the carbon-intensity of back-up generation required because of its intermittent character. On the negative side of the environmental ledger are adverse impacts of industrial wind turbines on birdlife and other forms of wildlife, farm animals, wetlands and viewsheds."

According to the article in the PB Post, that is exactly what environmentalists are worried about--killing migrating birds. The County does not care about that at all. Has it done its research? Did some outside company give them a song and dance? What will this end up costing our environment?




Monday, August 29, 2011

Internal Auditor

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Mayor Rachel Waterman just now said that she is not concerned about what the 15 or so people say on the blogs. She represents 35,000 people or more, not just 15 people.

Ms. Waterman, I am getting about 30,000 hits a month on this blog. So, you want to diss this, that is certainly your prerogative. But I can diss you all the way to kingdom come.

Scott Maxwell is right on calling the city manager down on her control of the Internal Auditor position, as she implied today, and her wanting to control various aspects of it if it goes forward.

The City now will have a workshop on the Auditor position. So something came out of all the resident e-mails on this subject. Something came out of all the blogs written on it. Waterman wants to fund it for $200,000, that includes the Inspector General starting in 6 months. Ed Fry wants the Commission to define its expectations of the Internal Auditor. Don't you think that an internal auditor knows what to look for?

Code Violations in Lake Worth - Enough is Enough

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Code violations in the Genesis Neighborhood


One thing about it, all of us have one major issue in common--we want our neighborhoods to look good. We want and expect property owners to take care of their property. When they don't, we all go a little crazy and say, "Enough is enough." We also know that the reason why property taxes are going up and why the City is implementing special assessments, is because our values have gone down and they are running out of revenue. So, the very problem of run down properties is costing all of us in the City, not just that neighborhood where the code violation exists.

Mark Parilla, President of Genesis Neighborhood Association has been trying to get some attention from our Code Department in his neighborhood since April and now has written to everyone who might make a difference or bring awareness to his plight. This morning I got a call from someone in the ROLOH neighborhood with the very same problem that Mark is going through. He wanted to deal with it himself by finding out what bank was in charge of a certain property and call them directly and raise hell.

When everyone in this city is getting a tax increase, you just expect results. And all that screaming is justified more than ever. Now we are all just getting a little hotter under the collar. Enough is enough.

Elected Officials

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Revelation #1: It does not matter who sits on the Commission. I used to think it did as we had so many devastating decisions from past commissions. Now that we have this commission in place, it is obviously evident that the City Manager has total control. It's as if she has taken over their minds. None of them are thinking independently and I am not even sure that Maxwell is an exception. He did go along with the stupid assessment which is now even more stupid than when first presented.

If this trend continues, we will get new people sitting up there; we always do--but nothing will change; it never does.

I am so discouraged right about now. No one listens. NO one returns phone calls. I wouldn't be surprised if my e-mail goes straight to spam. Does anyone get a reply to an e-mail? This was a commission that I thought really cared about the residents, all of them, not just a few.

If commissioners don't respond to the public they serve but are only up there to raise taxes and do really stupid things, then what in heck is this all about? All the reasons for which we get involved in politics are a waste of time. Why do any of us bother when everything we considered logical is getting more muddied and confusing every day.

Revelation #2: Special assessments are one of the ways a local government may collect money to pay for local improvements. A special assessment is a charge imposed on real property to help pay for a local improvement that benefits the property. That is the purpose for which it came about. The Legislature declared simply that cities had broad home rule authority to do whatever was necessary to carry out municipal purposes. (§ 166.021, FLA. STAT.) When the question returned to the courts, the Florida Supreme Court bowed to the Legislature's will.

In the case of Lake Worth, we have department heads dreaming up ways to special assess so that they can beef up their department. All of our special assessments do not improve our property unless you use a bogus argument that, yes, without garbage collection, our property values would go down. Without paying for fire pension costs, our property value might go down. Wrong. Fire/Rescue and garbage collection must be provided and they should be charged on our property tax bill and we pay according to what our property is worth less our exemptions provided by Florida law.

Until the Commission can learn what the word "fair" means and become intellectually honest instead of conforming to the city manager's established rule of what is fair and honest, then we are all doomed. Until they realize that all special assessments are about grabbing the cash based on nothing fair nor equal, we will be punished for the bad decisions that they have made that got us to where we are today. The only fair way to tax a property is by its value.

If the City had not pissed away and wasted money, we would not be in this pickle. $1.72 for pensions for every $1.00 we pay in Union payroll is what did it...bad Union contracts as well as the City squandering money. Now we all have to pay a special assessment that the city manager has sold as fair when it isn't. It is only the poor paying a much larger percentage of their income to get what should be a service but in this case it is paying for fire pensions as well as circumventing advalorem taxes.

And the biggest problem with all of this is that this will not be the end. This is only the beginning. The City of Lake Worth has Florida law on its side. The poor will get a whole lot poorer in a city already plagued by falling property values, 11% unemployment, foreclosures on the rise and a whole lot of waste from City Hall. Expect special assessments to continue as it drives out businesses and the working family.

Judge says Lake Worth committed Fraud and False Testimony

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UPDATE:

Personnel Actions Finalized
From the City Manager:
In response to the a court order last week concerning a code enforcement case, Assistant City Attorney Jean Middleton has resigned her position with the City and Executive Secretary Dana Nichols has been suspended without pay for five days. Both of these City staff members acknowledged the mistakes that were made in the case and have accepted responsibility for their actions. Ms. Middletown is a very dedicated and passionate lawyer and I regret that events which occurred in the case necessitated this personnel action. The City is in the process of hiring new code compliance supervisors to provide more consistent and professional oversight which will ensure that these mistakes are not repeated in the future.
...................
8-19-11
Two Lake Worth employees - an attorney, Jean Middleton and a code enforcement secretary, Dana Nichols, were placed on administrative leave Thursday after a Palm Beach County circuit judge blasted the city for lying to the court in an attempt to foreclose on land owned by two longtime business owners, Carl and Ed Deveaux.

Read more about it here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lake Worth Alumni Spaghetti Dinner

City Manager Susan Stanton and
George L. Lockhart, Principal
Our Pier is named after his uncle

The crowd of 500. Where were you?

Former Principal Dave Cantley talking with
Lake Worth Mayor, Rachel Waterman

Lake Worth 2012 Residential Electric Rates - The Shell Game

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By: Guest Blogger, Expert in Electric Utilities

"The proposed FY 2012 Residential Electric Rates have been restructured and tiered based on total energy consumption. For customers using less than 500 kWh hours per month, the rate of electrify will be reduced from 12.76 per kW hours to 11.30 per kWh hour. Residents using electricity exceeding 500 kW hours, but less than 1,000 kW hours will only pay 13.30 cents per kW hour. Customers exceeding 1,000 kW hours will pay 15.30 cents per kW hours reflective of the cost of service for this high consumption. All resident customers, irrespective of consumption, will pay a minimum monthly cost of service charge of $34.50.
The big Scam!

As seen in Chart 3, residential customers using less than 500 kW hours per month because of good energy conservation will see a reduction in their electric rate of 5% while those residential customers using in access of 2,500 kW hours per month will see an increase in the power bill of 1% per month. The FY 2012 Residential rates are consistent with the City Commission‘s desire to reduce the cost of power as well as promote conservation."

Now, because I have absolutely no idea if the CM wrote this paragraph, or even fully comprehends what the paragraph means, I will break it down into terms that even someone who may be a little less educated or even intellectually dishonest (can we all say CM?) can understand. You see, Ms. CM, parsing words does not work when you have an informed electorate.

The CM states that residents using less than 500 kwhr/month will see a rate reduction from $0.1276/kwhr to $0.1130 kwhr or 11.4%. Residents with a usage greater than 500 kwhr/month but less than 1,000 kwhr/month will see a rate increase from $0.1276 to $0.1330 per kwhr (4.2%) and those residential customers with a usage greater than 1,000 kwhr/month will see a rate increase from $0.1496/kwhr to $0.1530/kwhr, or 2.2%. There is currently a $8.90 service charge connected to each bill (pg. 70 of new budget). But, the catcher here is that the "Cost of Service Charge" for each and every residential meter will be increased to $34.50/month from its current $8.90 or a 387% increase. Now lets break this down further to see exactly what it means for the poor and elderly customer.

The poorer customer nearly always lives in the smaller home, can afford few amenities and will restrict the use of electricity to a far greater extent than the well-to-do. So we will begin with the poorest amongst us and work our way up the sociological food chain.

Step 1:

In 2011 the customer using less than 500 kwhr would pay a base rate of (499 kwhr * .1276 + 8.9) = $72.57 for their electricity.
In 2012 this same customer would pay (499 kwhr * .1130 + 34.50) = $90.89 or a 25% increase.

Step 2:
In 2011 the customer using between 500 kwhr and 1,000 kwhr/month would pay a base rate of (999 * .1276 + 8.9) = $136.37 for their electricity.
In 2012 this same customer would pay (999 * .1330 + 34.50) = $167.37 or a 23% increase.

Step 3:

In 2011 the customer using greater than 1,000 kwhr/month would pay a base rate of (1,000 & .1496 + 8.9) = $158.50 for their electricity.
In 2012 this same customer would pay (1,000 * .1530 + 34.50) = $187.50 or a 18% increase.

You see, the CM has used an old carnival trick (can we all say shell game?) to tell the townfolks that they would be receiving a rate decrease, and how the City would be soaking the rich, when in fact, it is the poor and the elderly that will be required to shoulder an even heavier burden than before.

Now while the CM may wish to say that she is not screwing the poorer amongst us, her policies tell a different story. And this is but one small example in a budget replete with assessments, and each will place a significantly heavier burden on the poor than the wealthy. And it does not require a Helen Keller to be able to see a difference in an 18% increase and the 25% increase, nor does it require an Einstein to run the numbers.


Note by Lynn's Little Bit of Trivia: When I queried the $34.50 charge at a city commission meeting, I was told it was only a minimum...it was for all of those who turned off their electricity when gone for the Season, as an example, because it still cost the city money to service that meter. In fact, the CM said it cost more like $42. Commissioner Maxwell stated that too. It continues to state in this Budget that we all will have a minimum monthly cost of service of $34.50 irrespective of consumption. The Commission has not eliminated this from the CM's budget.

The above writer explains this further after being interrogated/questioned by me--That chart (page 70) is no longer valid. All of the numbers changed when Mark Beauchamp conducted the current rate analysis. There isn't even a number in there for <500 kwhr.

I am giving the CM the benefit of the doubt by saying that the "Cost of service" is going from $8.90 to $34.50 as there is nothing in the document that specifies that the $9.90 charge will be taken out and substituted for the $34.50. If it is not, then the new "Cost of Service" charge will be $34.50 + $9.90 = $44.40.

The CM had said in her budget document that every meter would be charged the $34.50 regardless of whether they used power or not. She even made the comment that seasonal residents would be charged that regardless of whether they lived in LW.

If the $9.90 is retained, then the $44.40 charge is kicking the poor in the balls even harder.

Expert says, Lake Worth Electric customers about to get Kicked in the Balls

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Coming Soon-

An expert in the Electric Utility field says that Lake Worth rate payers are going to get kicked in the balls with the new City Manager's rate changes.

You don't want to miss this blog!

Surfing, Skateboarding Bulldog

As the bulldog is my mascot, here is one having lots of fun!

Lake Worth Commission

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All in lockstep, Playing the City's Tune

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lake Worth's Taxes

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I can't gripe about this enough. It's what I do. I even have a quote on the right side of this blog that attests to "driving in the point." To tax everyone the same amount is Socialism to the extreme. The people it affects the most, the middle working class and the poor, don't have two extra nickels to rub together and if they do, they want to spend it on feeding their families.

In capitalism, everyone works for his own wealth. We live in a style that we can afford whether it is a house on the golfcourse worth $300,000 on up to over a million or a condo in the western community occupied by retirees with small incomes or only struggling by on social security. With Socialism everyone works for wealth which is distributed equally to everyone. In this case, all of us are being taxed the same amount, wealthy and poor alike for a special assessment. The difference--I don't have that house on the golfcourse AND I don't have the same income.

Now, according to the City Manager's Report, she is reducing the millage by 1.3 mils to make it even more "fair" for the wealthy. How did this decision come about? Who made it? It was brought up in a statement by Commissioner Maxwell but no one on the Commission said "that's a wonderful idea."

If you own an expensive house, then you know that you will be paying more in taxes. That is a given. If you know that you live in a little modest property because the wealthy banks committed all sorts of atrocities and drove down property values, your taxes will be much lower...that has always been a given. You know when you buy, you buy what you can afford. People are taxed per their ability to pay and the value of their property, the American way.

The City believes that those who have worked all of their lives and now retired on fixed incomes as well as working class families should now subsidize the wealthy and those still working and earning good incomes. Those living in properties worth under $50,000 or properties that are valued low should subsidize those living in homes worth much, much more? What is this City coming to? Progressive, my azz. This is the Commission's fault, the very commission that was to protect all of us residents with modest incomes. The Commission is the fuel allowing this train wreck.

The two nickels on the $60 bucks are my last, unless, of course, we have a $30 dollar street lighting assessment this year that the Commission also thought a wonderful idea. At that point, I will have to find a few more nickels.

The City has a direct line to the Palm Beach Post for PR. They agree with Stanton. Marra must live in that expensive house. Read about it here. It tells part of the story. Our City Manager says it is not about the rich and the poor. That is exactly what it is about and this Commission agrees with the City Manager. Right now this is class warfare and our Commission has forgotten about all those who helped them get elected.

Ed Fry said that we don't have to special assess--we can take this money out of the CIP. Why don't you do that, Commissioners? We should go back to the roll-back rate which will allow the city to make the same amount of revenue as last year. No special assessments. Do not allow the City Manager, the conductor who is driving this engine, to grab the cash. No new taxes.



After Irene at the Lake Worth Beach

Remind me to clean my lens.

Last night, we had NO beach. The tide was up to the Seagrape and our seawall. I went over to the beach this morning to see what was up. The first thing I noticed was that the sprinklers were on. Wrong day. Wrong time. Who is in charge? They are charging us small fortunes, even for water. No wonder. No one is checking on the waste.

The tide has receded back to normal. The turtle stakes have all been washed out to sea. The lifeguard assured me that many of the turtles will survive in spite of being covered over by the surf last night. The surfers were there all strategizing on what area of the surf would give them the best wave. The beach was active, full of cars, and the normal groups trying to figure out the pay-station meters. Thank God for a beach decal, the one thing NOT taken away from us, not yet. And to mention it for the 180th million time, NO one wants to park down below the dune. NO ONE.

Detox in Lake Worth

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Lawrence, New Jersey has been fighting a zoning change that will allow a drug addiction rehab center that treats people with emotional, psychological and physical problems. Read about it here.

The company applying in Lawrence has a detox place in Lake Worth: Sunrise Detox Center
3185 Boutwell Road, Lake Worth, FL 33461. Patients with serious addictions fly in from all over the country. Did anyone know we had this in Lake Worth?

The Lawrence Township Board of Adjustment correctly held that, as a matter of law, no community may be compelled (nor should it be compelled) to house a for-profit detoxification center in a non-permitted land use zone merely because there exists an empty office building for which the landlord needs rental income. Obviously the land use is correct for their facility in Lake Worth.

Friday, August 26, 2011

City Manager Report

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Details on the fire assessment:

The City received a detailed analysis of the Fire Assessment from Government Services Group (GSG) which will allow a residence to examine its financial impact compared to the traditional property tax millage. Based on information from the tax assessor, there will be 872 non-residential parcels that will be subject to this assessment. A total of 375 properties will pay less money than they currently would if they paid the equivalent 1.3 mills and 497 properties will pay slightly more under the assessment.

Out of the 11,431 residential parcels subject to the $60.00 assessment, 8,829 homes will pay more than they currently do under the property tax and 2,602 residents will pay a little less. What is a little? $100? $900? If you check out Golfview and Lakeside and all of College Park, just about all of these people save.

The Fire Assessment will be charged on all residential, non-residential and mixed use properties. It appears that the City manager will be reducing millage by 1.3 mills and assessing everyone the $60.00. The report is flawed in the simple fact that it does not reflect those properties that fall under $50,000 in value that would not have to pay this millage. Instead, they calculated the millage as if those properties were paying.

Then comes the BULL: It is important to remember that the assessment process is the most equitable way for making sure that our Fire Fighters are rewarded for their service to the community and for their dedication and willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice 24 hours a day ....7 days a week.

The Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce will now owe $3,081.39. Combine that with the electric bill they owe! Many of the wealthy will be saving money and the poor or those living in properties of much lesser value, will be making up the difference.

How did our Commissioners fair?

McVoy...will be paying $25.61 more
Maxwell...will be paying $3.90 more
Golden...Will be paying $124.74 less
Mulvehill...will be paying 32.65 more

I will be paying $60.00 more.

Ms. Sharpe should be happy. She will be paying $153.90 less.


Intruder on campus of Lake Worth High

Updated. Link now functioning.
Lake Worth High School in Lockdown

Internal Auditor for Lake Worth

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Internal Auditor - NOT!

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I did think there was a slight chance that the City Commission would see the light but the idea of funding an Internal Auditor went down in flames. As this was a workshop meeting, there was no vote but the only commissioner who wanted one and who has been listening to the people was Scott Maxwell.

There were so many "good" reasons for not funding this position: the expense of it, it is a luxury, level of need, not convinced, the money could be better spent somewhere more important, the last one we had was almost useless, most cities do not have an IA (Stanton said that one), can't afford it, if we have one it should be a full-time person who is invested in the city's success. The real argument and the one that was not stated was, "I don't want some silly person butting into my business."

I like the last argument the best. Any professional takes his job seriously and in fact, it would be best, in this case, not to be part of the city manager "network," the very reason why an IA reports to the Commission--to have everything on the table in an open and most transparent way. An Internal Auditor investigates suspected fraud, waste and abuse and he is objective and gives advice on financial matters and procedures. It is a backup for truth.

The Internal Auditor doesn't have to live here per the Charter and he doesn't have to be full-time. What is more important than scrutinizing our revenues and expenditures? We just burned through $12 MILLION DOLLARS for gosh sakes in the last few years. Poof! Ask one Commissioner where the money went. We spend like drunken sailors and there is no reason to have an internal auditor? I can guarantee you that if we put a vote to the people on whether this position should be eliminated from our Charter, it would be the highest vote recorded in the history of this city to keep it and what's more, we would tell you to fund it.

Last night the city manager said, when talking to the Commission, "We should have a discussion on changing our form of government to a strong mayor because it is perceived that the Mayor runs the city...at some point we should have that discussion." Why should we discuss anything so bizarre? You want another Lois Frankel in power? You can get rid of an elected official by the vote of all the electorate who bother to show up at the polls and you can terminate a city manager in a heartbeat by a majority vote of 5 people. It is quicker and easier to terminate a city manager before he/she does too much damage than allowing an elected official stay in power for two years--my argument against longer terms.

Stanton further stated that the citizens just don't trust city hall. A truer statement could not have been said--right about now, we don't trust anyone and want an internal auditor more than ever and not spending $60,000 to convert a softball field to a soccer field. In the realm of importance, commissioner, an IA is much more important to us.

The Charter says that the appointive officers shall be the city manager, city attorney, internal auditor, city clerk, police chief, fire chief, and such other officers as may be provided for by ordinance. Any of the above officers which are, or may become, under civil service shall be subject to civil service regulations. All of the appointive officers under the charter, except the city manager, city attorney, and internal auditor shall be appointed by the city manager and all appointive officers shall hold office subject to provisions of law.

It was mentioned last night that the Internal Auditor position is in the Charter and therefore we must have it. It is in the Charter, but as Elaine Humphrey's said at a previous meeting, the Commission did not have to fund it. (There is always a way around anything--take special assessments as an example). A Commissioner mentioned that the Police Chief and Fire Chief also had to live in our city and that certain changes to our Charter needed to occur. No they don't. They are moot and who knows if some day we might have our own police and fire departments once again, another dream of the CM.

So, what's up Doc? Our strong City Manager won once again. It took hours of discussion to get her desired result with a full staff to support her as well as our elected officials under the voodoo dust. "No independent anybody will be walking around the halls of city hall, not on my watch." And that's the way it is folks.



Susan's Many Faces

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The commentary below was submitted as comment on a specific blog that was out 2 days ago. As it is well written and significant to the situation at hand, it now appears as a Guest Blog by Lake Worth resident, Peter J. Matthews.


Once again, Lake Worth citizens have witnessed the many faces of Susan Stanton, AKA the City Manager.

I personally appeared at a City Commissioner’s meeting to speak against the flat-rate fire assessment plan and was advised by her that a multi-tiered rate was being considered. Results: Flat Rate One, Concerned Citizens Nil (must use international soccer terms because they’re preferable to American style sports terms). Upon reflection, I thought I heard her comment that the residential units assessments would be based on size or the value of the property, after all, that would be fair and equitable – a point I often stated. Why even our federal income tax is graduated! This statement was nodded to by at least one commissioner. When I left the podium, I thought that they had listened to what was said, not merely heard. Wrong!

Apparently speaking out of both sides of your mouth at the same time is a factor for consideration to be hired here in our sanctuary city – could this be one reason our taxable base is low? I’m convinced that pressing your clothes with a waffle iron is a recommended strategy for campaigning prior to election, after all, the “Pep Boy” head bobbers on the dais must appear to listen intently before spending our money... wouldn’t want Little Bo Peep at the panel’s south end to think they’ll act independently.

Lastly, I stated that elected and appointed officials were put into office to make decisions based on equity – and got the requisite nods of approval. Decision making is tough, so tough here that we’ve outsourced this task to a hired gun called GSG. Now whatever they recommend, we must obey. This way no one is responsible come voting time. What a perfect foil. “Look Mom, it’s not my fault, GSG did it.” GSG is the silver bullet here – they’re not subject to the vagaries of the electorate. They’re contract employees of the city and our record on contracts is unbeatable: Casino, Water, Sheriff, and Fire Rescue just to call a few of the all time greats. "It’s not my fault" is the mantra of the month. It’s a great time to be a decision maker-- just look at the growing line-up for November.

Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full (of what)? Tune in next time, same bat time, same bat channel.

/s/ Joe Matthews


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Softball to a Soccer field

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Lake Worth spending money converting softball field to a soccer field.

According to Wikipedia: Soccer, known in many other countries as "football" is somewhat less popular in The United States than the traditional major sports, although it has gained an increasing following in recent years, and is extremely popular as a children's sport.


Irene brings on big surf, winds and rain

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Double Red Flags--serious stuff
High waves, rip currents and tons of jelly fish.
New Jersey declares a State of Emergency

Between the raindrops brought on by Hurricane Irene,
a breezy and wet day at Lake Worth beach

Did not see one surfer

Katie and I drove over to the beach and stopped at Benny's. Because of the weather, business was down but the inside was packed full of hungry people. They only opened 4 tables upstairs because of the winds. We left and went to Toojays where we were accosted by a panhandler who had no idea that we were not your typical "easy mark." Katie politely said, "No, not today," whereas I was muttering under my breath, "Get lost, pal."

Internal Auditor

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Tonight is another Budget Workshop meeting starting at 6:30. The first item on the agenda is discussion on the Internal Auditor, a position that the city manager does not want.

We had an internal auditor and the city manager got rid of him in 2009. Scot Menke had his most revealing audit on December 21, 2007 on Landfill Expenditure Deficiencies. In it he reported that
  1. The City's purchasing ordinances were being routinely and completely circumvented without any evidence of opposition of the then Finance Director.
  2. The State of Florida's Consultants Competitive Negotiation Act (CCNA) was violated without any objection from the then Finance Director
  3. The then Finance Director failed to establish proper budgetary and proper controls over cash disbursements
  4. The then Finance Director failed to properly supervise inexperienced Finance Department staff processing cash disbursements
  5. The then Finance Director provided incomplete and inaccurate Financial Reports to the City Manager and to the Commission
  6. The then Finance Director failed to recognize the full extent of the unauthorized landfill expenditures even after discovering them
  7. The then Public Works Director continued approving landfill expenditures for payments months after being repeatedly made aware that there was no authorized funding source for those expenditures
  8. The landfill vendor continued working, billing, and receiving funds from the City months after being repeatedly advised there was no funding source
  9. The landfill vendor continued, working, billing, and receiving funds from the City for months in the absence of an approved contract covering those expenditures
  10. The then Public Works Director and the landfill vendor failed to advise the City Commission of all the risks associated with the proposed landfill bioreactor project on which the unauthorized expenditures were made
The Internal Auditor had several recommendations but the most severe was his recommendation that the City pursue civil and criminal remedies for the CCNA violations. This never happened. It was rumored, at the time, that too many heads would role and go down with the then Finance Director in a ball of fire. She left the City and got hired immediately in a neighboring city.

When Menke's contract was not renewed, Stanton must have convinced the commission that it was a redundancy or something as we already had an external auditor that reported to her. Now that this position is back in the budget (many residents spoke out about the importance of the position and thought that it should be filled per our Charter), we now learn that the city manager once again believes it is a waste of money. Well no wonder, the Internal Auditor department has been budgeted for $324,681 with 2 employees with perks and God knows what else rather than hiring an independent contractor.

The City is in such a financial crisis that we really need to understand what is going on. An Internal Auditor who reports to the City Commission is imperative and he/she needs to have full access to all information in the quest for a fair audit. He can't be given a run-around like our Finance Advisory Board has been given for the past year.

She's Got Our World in Her Hands

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Since we received our proposed property tax bill yesterday, I was wondering about the special assessments that Lake Worth wants to impose that have not yet been reflected. How does that work? The Special Meeting to vote on these taxes is next month. We are always just a wee bit behind the world it seems and our world is in the hands of our city manager who controls the Commission.

Even though Scott Maxwell voted against the fire/rescue special assessment, he did not reject the principle behind the special assessment or why it is unfair. No one on the dais understood it; they only recited the company line.

I am not against paying $60. The amount of money regarding this particular assessment is not my complaint. What is my complaint is that down the road, the city manager will be allowed to throw anything she chooses relative to fire/rescue onto the non-advalorem portion of our tax bill. The Commission allowed her to do this. They allowed her the ability to special assess costs relative to fire to be open-ended.

If the County says "no" to Stanton's demand of dropping the supplement payment of $900,000 this year and $1.3 million for every year after 2012, she will now be able to assess that as well. At that point, and as every assessment is thrown onto our bill for anything (the possibilities are endless as long as it is lawful), the regressive tax becomes very serious for the poor as we will be paying disproportionately. Also, any special assessment circumvents the 10 mil cap law. Why the City Commission refuses to see these very obvious facts is disturbing and it is one that I need to evaluate as the election approaches.

The Commission should stop all unnecessary spending immediately--no raises...no nothing and especially NO FREE LUNCH. How much are our cell phone bills as an example? Everyone should be conscientious about everything. They are not.

Gary R. Nikolits, Property Appraiser says:

Palm Beach County has mailed 654,522 Proposed Notices to all property owners in the county. Notices will be in mailboxes starting Tuesday, August 23. Property owners who disagree with the proposed amount of their property taxes can voice their objections at public hearings held in September by their respective taxing authorities. The dates and times are listed on the Notice. “My office receives thousands of calls each year from property owners to complain about their property taxes, but my office cannot help them with taxation issues,” said Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits. “However, if the property owner has a problem with our January 1 estimate of market value or was denied an exemption or classification, they should call my office for an explanation.” The Property Appraiser’s contact numbers are on the Notice. “If we are unable to resolve the matter, the property owner can file a petition with the Value Adjustment Board,” Nikolits added. The VAB petition-filing period begins Tuesday, Aug. 23 and ends Friday, Sept. 16.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lauderdale Lakes wants to Screw Poor Seniors

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Lauderdale Lakes wants to screw Seniors by taking away the Senior exemption and raise an additional $59,000. FIFTY NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS...BIG WHOOPEE!! How pathetic can you get? A former mayoral candidate would probably approve.

I remember several years ago when Nadine Burns casually mentioned this when she was city commissioner. Lake Worth Vice Mayor Suzanne Mulvehill said her city instead is looking at increases to fees that all property owners must pay.


Proposed Tax Bills

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Did everyone get their proposed tax bill in today's mail?

Instead of a value loss of 3.57% as reported, every single family residential property that I checked on line went up in value from the preceding year. Their taxes went up accordingly. My condo went down in value in double digits percentages and all condos that I checked went down.

Everyone please check and let us know if your value went up or down this year. Report back what quadrant of the City you reside.

When is an Illegal Immigrant not a Criminal?

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Is Obama deporting too many illegal immigrants or not enough? He says that he is only going to deport those who are criminals. Aren't they ALL criminals for just being here?

Take the Poll

Roy Beck says, "The decision by President Obama to defer deportation and grant work permits while millions of unemployed Americans are looking for work is distressing. It sends a message to the 22 million Americans who can't find a full-time job that the next election is more important than their future."

Lake Worth Special Taxes

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Sorry Friends--but that is what you were last night

Instead of making a motion immediately to accept the special assessment, we had to listen to nearly 3 hours of Government Services Group, the City Commission and the City Manager listening to themselves talk to convince us about how the special assessment was fair and equitable.

It all came down exactly as we knew it would-- a 4 to 1 vote to raise $1.8 million for Fire pension costs. What will it be next year? And the next? What other special assessments can we look forward to as we just signed a three year contract with Government Services Group to explore that very thing? Will we all be able to afford Lake Worth going forward? Will this affect the millage or will they raise that as well?

Any special assessment is a 100% tax increase for that designated purpose. We are all "losers" here. There are no winners other than the City coffers and who knows if the City won't continue to abuse those Reserves as they have done in the past. Who is accountable?

Fire at Lake Worth Community High School

Let's give these bums a special assessment all of their own.

$1.8 million approved in special assessment - a Lightbulb Moment

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Off the bat I want to mention Boynton Beach. They are special assessed for 1/2 of the cost of their fire/rescue or 4.7 million. Their cost went up this year from $68 to $88. The difference in Boynton and Lake Worth is the amount of money they are raising: $4.7 mil vs $1.8 mil. The difference also is that our fire/rescue is being paid by advalorem taxes. What was decided and discussed last night is a special assessment for pension costs! These differences were not mentioned last night by Government Services Group. Failing to tell the whole truth is inexcusable. We should be paying them for the whole story, not the part they want to sell.

Was this all a light bulb moment? Did the city manager awaken one day, jumped out of bed and said, "Wow, I found a way to grab the cash?" "We've spent all of our reserves over the past four years," she said. If you look at the Budget, the spending has all been since 2009...$12 million dollars gone--that was the figure mentioned last night. How dare they? That's like someone robbing your bank account without a gun.

Whoever imagined that all those hundreds of thousands that were passed on the Consent Agenda every month with NO discussion, were not in the budget? Who would have ever dreamed that the City was robbing our cash and the City Commissions voted YES to all of it, going along for the ride down that dark and deadly and dangerous road?

They talked about "Winners and Losers" last night. Depending upon where you are coming from in your status in life, it is subjective other than truthful and honest. To even believe that what they are doing is "fair and equitable" is only justifying the act. One former candidate for Mayor said it was about time...she implied that she was sick to death of paying for the poor who didn't pay any taxes. A few of her girlfriends said "Amen." The City was of the same belief. Screw the poor; screw the struggling merchant, grab the cash. Even the United States of America does not tax anyone who falls under a certain economic amount. The US government understands but not the City of Lake Worth.

The US government taxes you on your adjustable gross income. If I were making $15,000 a year and Joe Blow was making $300,000 a year, should I be taxed the exact same amount of money?

The County taxes you on the value of your property. If my residence is worth $40,000 and Joe Blow's is worth $300,000, should Joe and I be paying the exact same amount of tax?

To even think of taxing us on a square footage and other variables as does Gainesville was dissed because it was "not tested in Court," "not enough time," "too much work." No one wanted to make anything fair. Just grab the cash and make all residents pay...the same amount. This company took the easy way out with the City's blessing. To be taxed all of this money for Union pensions goes against my grain and it gives me a migraine.

The biggest and most unfortunate outcome of this Yes vote for Resolution 34-2011 by the Commission (4/1 with Maxwell dissenting) is that it opens the can of worms. And just like Boynton Beach whose fire/rescue special assessment is going up by 29% this year from last, the Resolution allows the City to charge us anything pertaining to fire/rescue other than the kitchen sink and Stanton's lipstick.

What do we have to look forward to next? Street lights, sidewalks, curbs, road repairs in front of your house, paying for parks? Ending the free lunch is something I have been harping on forever and a request that they will not heed. All of us should be screaming bloody murder the next time they spend one dime on anything that is the least bit questionable--no passing big expenditures on Consent--no waiving bids. Do they really need to spend $250,000 for a damn truck? Let me see the bids. Ask the right questions, Commissioners. It has been way too long that we have not known the full truth and our position.

Trust but verify was Ronald Reagan's advice. The "trust" part is getting much more difficult with the City of Lake Worth.




Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lake Worth Spillway

Tonight's Meeting

Time: 6:30

What the Fire Assessment Means

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"Fire Rescue Assessed Cost" means--

(1) the amount determined by the City Commission to be assessed in any Fiscal Year to fund all or any portion of the cost of the provision of fire rescue services, facilities, or programs which provide a special benefit to Assessed Property, and shall include, but not be limited to, the following components:
  • (A) the cost of physical construction, reconstruction or completion of any required facility or improvement;
  • (B) the costs incurred in any required acquisition or purchase;
  • (C) the 'cost of all labor, materials, machinery, and equipment;
  • (D) the cost of fuel, parts, supplies, maintenance, repairs, and utilities;
  • (E) the cost of computer services, data processing, and communications;
  • (F) the cost of all lands and interest therein, leases, property rights, easements, and franchises of any nature whatsoever;
  • (G) the cost of any indemnity or surety bonds and premiums for insurance;
  • (H) the cost of salaries, volunteer pay, workers' compensation insurance, or other employment benefits;
  • (I) the cost of Uniforms, training, travel, and per diem;
  • (J) the cost of construction plans and specifications, surveys and estimates of costs;
  • (K) the cost of engineering, financial, legal, and other professional services;
  • (L) the costs of compliance with any contracts or agreements. entered into by the City to provide fire rescue services;
  • (M) all costs associated with the structure, · implementation, collection, and enforcement of the Fire Rescue Assessments, including any service charges of the Tax Collector, or Property Appraiser and amounts necessary to off-set discounts received for early payment of Fire Rescue Assessments pursuant to the Uniform Assessment Collection Act or for early payment of Fire Rescue Assessments collected pursuant to Section 3.02 of the Ordinance;
  • (N) all other costs and expenses necessary or incidental to the acquisition, provision, or construction of fire rescue services, facilities, or programs, and such other expenses as may be necessary or ·incidental to any related financing authorized by the City Commission by subsequent Resolution;
  • (0) a reasonable amount for contingency and anticipated delinquencies and collectible Fire Rescue Assessments; and
  • (P) reimbursement to the City or any other person for any moneys advanced for any costs incurred by the City or such Person in connection with any of the foregoing components of Fire Rescue Assessed Cost.

Threats and Promises

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Update: Tonight's Agenda
It looks like Hurricane Irene will not be a threat to Florida but tonight, Lake Worth has its own special promise--raise taxes and assess you for Fire/Rescue pension and ancillary costs that the city can't afford in the tune of $1.8 million.

Of course, there is NO agenda on-line yet but the Calendar on the Lake Worth web site says it begins at 6:30. Who knows?

We are getting Sustainability in Lake Worth

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As we go into sustaining the highest tax ever in Lake Worth along with all those special assessments the City Manager is cooking up (things she doesn't want to call taxes but are), we now have The Community Sustainability Department, a new name for the Community Development Department and a new goal (sustainability) of which William Waters will be in charge. We have a very tough time trying to be sustainable so by calling an entire department as such, therefore we are. He gave a presentation last night on the areas of his responsibility:
  • Code Compliance
  • Foreclosure Fund
  • Building Permits
  • Planning & Zoning
This department is expanding and becoming larger. It will create an Economic Development Manager with the idea that he/she will be responsible as the point person for economic initiatives and will draft a formal plan for the City. They are looking to recruit "green" sustainable businesses and to support the cultural arts.

The Planning & Preservation Manager will review the land development regulations and develop an annexation plan for the City, zoning maps and land-use maps, Historic District Guidelines and cover "green" initiatives in the LDR's.

The Community Planner will coordinate all projects that are presented to the P&Z Board and review building permit zoning applications.

The Preservation Planner will be focusing on historic preservation and archaeological planning and will oversee the six historical districts.

Code Compliance will be reviewing outstanding fines case by case and all properties that have been reviewed will be sent to collection, possibly recommended for foreclosure or assessed on the non-advalorem portion of the tax bill to force the owner to pay and bring the property into compliance. There will be a new manager in this department who will be on board Monday. Gina Baker is no longer with us. She took a "voluntary lay-off."

Now we will be in the housing loan business. The Housing and Property Management division will develop a housing loan and grant program which Waters says will consist of the development requirements of eligibility, a formal application, criteria for a grant or loan awards. It will assist low and moderate income families to develop a down payment and closing costs assistance program. Zero interest or very low interest on the mortgage for first time home buyers. He wants to implement a program for housing rehabilitation. We are still trying to attract poor people to our city. Noble goal.

I would wager to say that William Waters is the only top departmental head that will not be under the thumb of the city manager. Why? No one knows what in heck he's talking about. We are creating new positions so that there will be point people for every facet of our city it seems. Four new jobs will be created. We now will know who is responsible for screw ups; there will no longer be any guessing.

How do we re-tool our entire City (re-tool was always one of Varela's favorite words) and do all of this with NO money and salaries and benefits going up? Ooops, I forgot, the City is raising millions in tax increases.

The Agenda was totally changed for last night and what was originally to be discussed will be on tonight's agenda along with the special assessment for fire/rescue. The City knows what the advalorem is but won't be definitive...probably about 9 mils. This stuff is always a secret as they like to surprise you.

These budget workshop are a total waste of time. Suzanne Mulvehill was not in attendance last night--better things to do I would imagine. All you residents out there who did not attend were smarter than those of us who did. The entire Commission did not change one thing as presented--accepted it all just like the Finance (Non) Advisory Board did.

No one on the dais knew where anything was in the City Manager's Budget for reference and had to continually ask what page they were on. Commissioner Maxwell distinctly had asked that the page numbers be included on future budget workshop agendas. And we thought we were the only ones ignored. I left after one hour as I felt I was being sprinkled with voodoo dust and nearly hypnotized by the presentation.



Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Red-Flag - Lake Worth Budget

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We can't let the Lake Worth Budget slip by...there are many red-flags. So name one or more that deserve further scrutiny. Let's help the Commission out as well as the Finance Advisory Board.

Banks and Husbands - Both can be Fatal Choices


I can't pick men any better than I can pick banks. Banks and cheating husbands all give you signs and red-flags and for some strange reason, we ignore the signs giving all sorts of excuses that go against our common sense until it is way to late to recover. The first bank I had here went under in the beginning of 2002, Hamilton Bank. I then went with my present bank and it was taken over by the Feds on Friday, Lydian Private. I banked with their on-line bank, Virtual Bank. The Federal regulators came in, always unannounced, and closed it flat down. It's expected to cost the FDIC $293 million.

Red Flag Number 1--giving you the run around
I have been calling my bank all year asking them, "What in the hell in going on?" I always got the same reply, "We're trying." Or they would tell me, "We're close to getting an investor...your money is safe." I liked the last one. Yes, my money is insured but now it is in limbo. What if I need to write a check. I have no idea how to do that right now. I suppose I will hear from Sabadell United Bank in Miami, the bank that is assuming deposits of Virtual/Lydian, but who knows when.

Red Flag Number 2--what started out as a love affair changes
I have been with Virtual Bank for nearly 10 years since it opened on PGA Boulevard. I liked the concept of Virtual Bank...do your banking online...no middle men. It cut out all that expense and it made sense to me and I had just been through banking with a traditional bank that closed. I was attracted to that just like I was to past husbands who gave me a song and dance. The banking concept worked for two years. The bank had a lot of depositors but one day, some idiot decided that the bank was going to really grow and try and grab more of the cash. They opened a private bank in Palm Beach, Lydian, paying top rent to cater to the extremely wealthy. This should have been the 2nd red-flag for me because it went against the very reason why I opened with them to begin with. When something changes, it is a red-flag.

Red Flag Number 3
Next, Lydian Private Bank got into the sub-prime mortgage business unbeknown to me. You see, everything about the bank you had to read online rather than getting anything in the mail. And I am not sure that there was any information as to what they were really doing. I didn't pay attention to that red-flag either when I finally read about the sub-prime mortgage operations and them opening a mortgage origination arm after reading about it in the PB Post.

Red Flag Number 4
I kept watching the newspaper and seeing their ratings and stars going down. Several weeks ago it went down to zero. I called my bank rep who didn't call me back. Red flag. When I finally got hold of her she said, "We're trying to work all this out. Don't worry, your money is insured." I said, "Zero indicates you are going belly-up."

All these banks and all of these mortgage brokers and other financial institutions have been let off the hook for causing the collapse of our economy. They have even been bailed out by Obama stimulus just to screw us all over again. Why did I not take my money out?

So, my fault. Lousy choices in banks and lousy choices in husbands both giving me a line. The red-flags are always there. You just need to take action at red-flag number 1. Don't let anyone give you the run around.


Hurricane Irene

Update

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Update: Strike Path
Onto something totally different that is stormy...Hurricane Irene is heading our way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Attempt to Hack

To the person attempting to hack my blog site, Google knows your ISP and can track you. I would suggest that you knock it off.

Clay Glass Gallery

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Today was a great day to visit our downtown for lunch and stroll the Avenue. Most all of the shops were open and there was no problem finding a parking space. I was thinking that it was a good thing that the City has not yet had its way in changing the parking times from 4 hours to 2 hours as I was in the downtown for 2.7 hours. I would have had to cut my visit short. In fact, I never would have made it to the Clay Glass Gallery where I bought a beautiful hand-made and very unique necklace.

Don't forget to visit this shop at 605 Lake Avenue on Saturday, August 27 between 6 and 9pm to find out about the Beneful Doggie Dream Park Contest and information on how to vote for Tracy and Dani her dog if you have not yet done so (Information to the right on this blog). To win this means $500,000 to Lake Worth for a Dog Park that all dog lovers want. This is something that the entire city of Lake Worth can support. Tracy's idea could, with your help, be the inspiration for a half-million dollar makeover of a park for dogs that the entire community can enjoy.

Jesse Showalter, Clay Artist/Instructor

My new necklace made by artist, Jesse. It is an unusual piece and I hope to be wearing it at my first commission meeting. Thanks, Jesse.



Lake Worth Budget

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Trela White - League of Cities

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Trela White
Speaking at City Hall on behalf of her clients,
the cities that have not paid their sewer bills

The City of Lake Worth is literally sleeping with the enemy. Sometimes we don't know who our "friends" are. I have spoken out against The League of Cities on more times than I can remember and at least once a year when the commission is voting to spend tax dollars. The League has a lot to offer Cities but to the residents who actually support their cities through taxes and assessments, perhaps not.

From their website: The mission of the Florida League of Cities is to utilize the economies of scale to provide local governments in Florida innovative and comprehensive financial solutions while remaining competitive for large governments. (Gosh, perhaps they were behind all of our tax increases too). The League is founded on the belief that local self-government is the keystone of American democracy, certainly a principle to which I concur.

My disgust with them started with Trela White who was also the attorney of the year in 2008 for The League of Cities and its General Counsel, when she joined in on the Appeal on the Sunset law suit to sue our citizens who were only trying to save their neighborhood from up-zoning.

The Sunset issue was when I got interested in Lake Worth politics and I have never looked back since 2005. My rationale was if there was one corrupt vote in this City, then there were hundreds more that affected all of our quality of life and wallets. Although this is not my neighborhood, it is nearby. It goes without saying that neighborhoods are important to all those who live in them, each with their unique set of circumstances but with a common thread. We have 16 neighborhood associations and a Council of Presidents who are all informed on Lake Worth and the importance of the general well being of those who live there.

Trela came waltzing into town to help sue the ROLOH neighborhood. Save Our Neighborhood, Political Action Committee won the suit in the Circuit Court to stop the up-zoning but the City prevailed when it hired outside counsel and took the case further and won in the Appellate Court on a State Statute of 5 acres or less with the help of The League of Cities.

Now she is the attorney for all the cities and Palm Beach State College that have stopped paying their sewer bills to our City. Because of this, sewer rates are going up by 30% regionally and 13% locally and all the residents of Lake Worth will have to pay for all those who are not. Thanks, Trela.

Our City continues to support The League of Cities. We continue to spend money on dues and conferences so that commissioners can learn how to screw the citizens. And now we can see how that has paid off. The City has found all sorts of ways to tax its citizens and raise money for capital reserves during the worst economy. Our citizens are experiencing foreclosures and declining incomes with its "friend" as one of the reasons for our pain.

Trela is a busy girl. When she is not joining law suits with cities to fight its citizens or advising them to withhold lots of money to the City of Lake Worth, she represents the following:

Town Attorney - Town of Lantana (since 1986)
City Attorney - City of Atlantis (since 1987)
Village Attorney - Village of Royal Palm Beach (since 1993)
Town Attorney - Town of Palm Beach Shores (since 1994)
Town Attorney - Town of Mangonia Park (since 1994)
Village Attorney - Village of Golf (since 1999)
Town Attorney - Town of Manalapan (since 2002)
City Attorney-City of Belle Glade (2003-2008)
Town Attorney - Town of South Palm Beach (since 2005)
Village Attorney - Village of Tequesta (since 2008)
City Attorney - City of Palm Beach Gardens (since 2008)
Palm Beach Co. League of Cities, Inc. - General Counsel (since 1992)
Representing all 37 Municipalities on matters of mutual interest