WPB Still Cheat Election 2020

Election signs may only be displayed on Private Property with permission for a certain time within the election period. 

Election signs may not be displayed on Public Property owned by the government rather then by a private individual. Examples include: parks, streets, sidewalks, libraries.

Political signs are not allowed on Public Property and unless Mayor James has found a buyer for City Hall  it is considered owned by the public, that’s you and me.

As previously written the Chamber of Commerce rents Public Property and political signs are not allowed, although they do post them. After complaints to the city, the signs were removed.

The signs below, (Shoaf & lambert) were posted at City Hall before the last City Commission race. Please notice there are no political signs for Martina Walker and Steve Sylvester their challengers. Both ran a clean campaign and I had Steve Sylvester sign on my private property.

City Hall is at it again when James decided another press conference was called for with invited guests Former Mayor Lois Frankel and PBC Commissioner Mack Bernard. Both are up for reelection in Nov; and both know it is illegal to stand behind a Biden/Harris political sign as they have done (see below) Bernard has raised over $250K and his challengers have raised pocket change so he will win re-election. Frankel has a challenger named Laura Loomer, who has out raised Frankel and what I like about her is she can’t be silenced. Please take the time to Google her and learn more. Read the story and see the campaign sign below, all 3 knowing it’s illegal, but doing it anyway.

“It’s time for voters to plan how and where they’ll cast ballots, Palm Beach County leaders say”

U.S. Rep. Frankel, County Commissioner Bernard, West Palm Mayor James urge residents to make voting arrangements early for the Nov. 3 election, calling it ‘the election of our lifetime.’

 

Congresswoman Lois Frankel at West Palm Beach City Hall, flanked by County Commissioner Mack Bernard, left, and West Palm Mayor Keith James speak at a socially distanced news conference outside West Palm Beach City Hall on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. They urged voters to decide how and when they will cast ballots in the Nov. 3 presidential election, which James called, 'the election of our lifetime. Generations will be affected.' [TONY DORIS/palmbeachpost.com]

The previous story concerning Mayor James and his taxpayer paid 2020 fully loaded Chevrolet, please know the taxpayers are also paying auto insurance,

The end.

 

WPB has a new Budget

I attended the final budget meeting and it was approved without loss of city employee furloughs or layoffs, although 5 jobs are on the line.

There is a new young group that attends the meetings and they are sharing their thoughts with the mayor and commissioners and are asking for an open government with full disclosure. Unfortunately for the mayor they wont be leaving anytime soon.

One speaker was upset with the report on police overtime and asked no raises be given to the police dept. in 2021. I disagree. You can’t hold an entire police dept. responsible for the failings of a few who took advantage of the system. It took the Internal Auditor to bring the issue to the city’s attention. Who really failed here?

1) A supervisor had to approve the timecards.
2) Gregory Key, Special Assistant to the Mayor ( Public Safety) is the liaison between the mayor and police dept. He didn’t notice?
3) Mark Parks, Chief Financial Officer for WPB. Why didn’t the finance department notice the abuse?

I requested, and received PRR (public records request) on city officials and “perks” they receive. Some I knew about some was a shock, and I am enclosing them with the story.

“Commissioners Discretionary Fund.” Each Commissioner receives $7,500.00 /year. I have a problem when commissioners contribute taxpayer dollars to the Chamber of Commerce, who has for many years rented city owned building and land at 401 No. Flagler Dr. for #1.00/year when the Property Appraiser has valued it at $12,653,733.00. 5 commissioners @ $7,500.00 = $37,500.00.
Read the report below:
Commission Expenses April to Sept 2019 (2)

“Car Allowance. Years ago a former commissioner complained about the paperwork involved in receiving reimbursement money he spent on gas in his private vehicle used for city business. So a resolution was passed and they voted themselves $500.00/month. My surprise was 4 other city officials who also received the benefit. So we have 9 people receiving $6,000.00/year= $54,000.00. Read the report below.
Vehicle Allowance ALL City report 9-23-2020

The real surprise to me came when Mayor James did not receive the Car Allowance. As City Commissioner he received a total of $48,000.00 over 8 years. The shocker was when I discovered the city purchased a 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV Full Size 4×2 which is assigned to James. Another surprise was discovering Gregory Key, Special Assistant to the Mayor, was driving a city owned 2019 Ford Explorer SUV Mid Size. I find it hard to believe Mr. Key received a car (2019) before James (2020). I assume James had received the Ford and was not pleased with it’s performance and ordered the Chevy. What to do with the 2019 Ford? Give it to my friend Mr. Key. Does Mayor James has a city credit card he uses for gas purchases?
See the report below.
Copy of Take home vehicle list 09.24.2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the city must double-down and get on with the business of a new contract with the firefighters and police departments.

The mayor’s job is to set policy, the commissioners job is to oversee the IA (Internal Auditor) dept. and vote to spend taxpayers dollars wisely.

If the City Commissioners refused to allow a contract with PSC Security or any other security company the city would have saved eight million dollars, enough to fund the police force, hire the officers needed to protect the city.

If City Commissioners stood together and refused to waste millions more tax dollars fighting the State Rd. 7 expansion that would take care of the fire fighters and build new firehouses and buy needed equipment.

Ending on a positive note. City Administrator Faye Johnson’s probationary period ended in July, and she was due to receive her 5% pay raise of $12,450.00. Ms. Johnson informed me she did  not accept the increase, and I thank her for her decision.
The end.

City of WPB vs IAFF part 2

2008 Former Mayor Lois Frankel gave us our first Fire Fee of $25.00 and the price was unchanged thru 2017. 10 years.

2018 Former Mayor Geri Muoio doubled the fee to $50.00

2019 Mayor Keith James doubled the fee to $100.00

2020 James says the $100.00 fee will not be raised.

I asked a real estate friend how many homes were located in WPB and received a number of 49,936. In fairness to the city I will use the figure 40,000 homes from 2008 thru 2017. That’s $1,000,000./year x 10 years = $10,000,000.00.

My next request was to the PBC Tax collector, below is their response.

Thank you for contacting the office of the Constitutional Tax Collector Serving Palm Beach County concerning a public records request. Below is the response prepared by our Finance and Budget Department.
West Palm Beach Fire Protection Property tax payments collected

FY 2018 $ 2,112,329.33
FY 2019 $ 4,043,560.38
12 years $16,155,889.71
2020 estimated 4 million more. With over $20,000,000.00 dollars collected for the “Fire Fee’ James, Johnson and City Commissioners need to explain why fire fighter’s are one of the lowest paid in PBC and why they must ask, with hat in hand, for a decent pay raise. They are on the front line for us and we should stand with them.

I have no reason to believe Mayor James and City Administrator Faye Johnson have negotiated in “good faith” when they tell city employees and the public that if the fireman get raises city workers will get laid off.

Below is a statement from a WPB Fire Fighter.
Request for Statement – Negotiations

Below is a short statement and they “ask the residents continue to call for a greater level of transparency and accountability on how this resource and how the freed-up general fund resources are being allocated” Personally I don’t believe they are asking to much, and hoping you feel the same.
Copy of Request for Statement – Fire Fee

After I posted part 1 of the WPB vs IAFF I received many responses from reader, but one stood out because she included her response to all city leaders.

To sandymac36@aol.com
Cc cfox@wpb.org, clambert@wpb.org, cneering@wpb.org, jpeduzzi@wpb.org, kshoaf@wpb.org, dmatty@wpb.org, fjohnson@wpb.org, kjames@wpb.org

“After reading this article, I must say that I totally concur with Sandy in her observations. This is an unprecedented time and calls for careful stewarding of our tax dollars. Again, my taxes are being raised, but I am not happy with how the money is being spent. My pension is no way near that of some of the city officials…especially the recent hires. Give those pay raises to those who serve and protect our city and its citizens! Cut the fat and put those tax dollars in places that benefit the ones who are paying the freight.”

A few weeks ago, at a City Commission meeting, I asked the mayor if it was true the city was negotiating with the PBC Sheriff’s office to turn our police officers into sheriff deputies. He denied it. It is my understanding the City Commissioner’s were contacted and asked if they would be amenable to the idea of a contract with the PBC Sheriff Office. Commissioners if I was given bad information please let me know so I can correct the story.

This story is about fire fighters, so why am I adding a paragraph about the police? Both are unhappy with the city’s impasse and if the police are considering a move, can the firefighters be far behind? James and Johnson has nearly destroyed the 2 most valuable assets the city has, cops and firefighters. They deserve better.

Message to the PBA and IAFF.
Mayor James has broken promises to both the police and firefighters and hopefully he will pay the price when he once again makes promises he has no intention of keeping while asking for their endorsement for a second term as mayor.

The end

City of WPB vs. IAFF part1

I want to start this story on a positive note so lets begin.

I attended the budget meeting held on 9/10/2020 and listened to the presentation. When finished the City Commissioners had questions and comments. The 5 commissioners share 2 clerks, and I’m sure they are kept busy between 5 commissioners. Let me break it down for you. One clerk works for 21/2 commissioners. It was suggested both clerks be furloughed. Commissioner’s Neering and Peduzzi both suggested they forgo their $500.00/month car allowance in order to keep the clerks jobs.

IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighter) and the City of WPB have been in negotiations over a new 3 year contract and the Mayor (James) and City Administrator (Johnson) have announced they are at an impasse.
The city claims the IAFF want to much. The IAFF claims the city wont give firefighters what they deserve.

What you are reading here is my opinion, but shared by many residents.
Part 2 will be the city’s, IATT and a firemen’s opinion.

When first elected Mayor James was like Santa Clause at Christmas time handing out promotions and pay raises like the well would never go dry. Traveling to cities along with his Police Security Detail spending thousands more.

The Carona Virus struck hurting the economy and the well started drying up. If James handled the city’s finances in a responsible manner from day 1 WPB outlook may not seem so dire that the only alternative the city could see was eliminate blue collar workers.

Residents protested and the city found another way. Fight the firefighters (IAFF) and police (PBA) union and deny them a decent wage.

If the sanitation department went on strike I would find that an inconvenience. If firemen didn’t show up for work (which I don’t believe they would ever do) who could residents depend on when they suddenly feel pressure in their chest, wake up in the middle of the night smelling smoke or a loved one is involved in a serious accident? I can’t afford to take these men and women of the fire department for granted and neither should the city.

Here is one example of the Mayor James generosity with taxpayer money.

“Verdenia Baker, PBC Administrator began her career with Palm Beach County in 1987 as a budget analyst. She was promoted to impact fee coordinator and eventually became a division director with the Financial Management Department. Verdenia’s experience in financial management was a prelude to her promotion to assistant county administrator and, within a year, to deputy county administrator. She served in that capacity for 15 years before being selected county administrator by the Board of County Commissioners in 2015.”

I placed a PRR to the county asking about Ms. Baker’s annual salary and received a response within 20 minutes.  After 33 years working for the County her salary is $298,513.28.

August 2019 James hired Faye Johnson at $220,000.00 annual pay.
October 2019 James named Assistant City Administrator Faye Johnson interim administrator.
Jan. 03, 2020 West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James formally introduced Faye Johnson as the new city administrator.
Jan. 13, 2020. City Commission Meeting: Establishing the salary and other compensation for the City Administrator and amending the pay grade information for the City Administrator job classification. Mayor is recommending to the Commission a starting salary of $249,000. Upon successful completion of a six (6) month probationary period, Ms. Johnson’s salary will increase by 5% to $261,450. After 11 months Ms. Johnson is at the top of her pay grade. All 5 commissioners voted approval. If I were in Ms. Johnson’s shoes believe me when I say I would have done all that is necessary to insure top pay and benefits for myself.

My question: Ms. Johnson’s increase from $249,000 00 after 6 months probation was due in July 2020. Did she accept the $12,450.00 raise?

I would once again recommend City Commissioners listen more to residents and less to staff. Please do your homework, as the city is advising you on their opinion and you need to listen to the other side of the coin. That would be the residents who’s life is impacted by your votes and decisions.

California, Oregon and Washington are ablaze with wild fires. Millions of acres burned, with loss of life. People are running for their lives while firemen run toward the inferno, risking their lives to try and save property and residents just like the Twin Towers where 343 fire fighters died and many more damaged inhaling the aftermath. Ask New Yorkers and residents of California, Oregon and Washington if their firemen are overpaid or deserve a raise then ask WPB officials what a firemen’s life is worth to them.

News just reported tropical storm heading for east coast of Florida winds at 35mph, may intensify. Please don’t worry about Mayor James keeping safe as he hunkers down at fire station #5 with a generator and full pantry.

Firefighters are always prepared. Shame the mayor isn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

How Important is the IA Department?

The city of WPB has problems that need to be fixed. In defense of the city they can’t fix problems they don’t know they have and this is where the IA Internal Auditor) comes in. The IA audits a department and the finished report is then presented to administration, City Commissioners and the head of the dept. audited.. There are 4 committee members who donate their time to the city and they work with the IA and approve the findings.  Now the city is aware problems exist. So fix them.

9/8/2020 8:30AM I attended the IA meeting which included the audit performed on the WPB Police Department and below are the findings.

Full disclosure. I admire and respect members of the police department. I will stand with them when they are in the right, and be critical when they are in the wrong. There are many police officers who should never be allowed to wear the uniform as they bring shame upon the good cops, and in today’s atmosphere the good ones are punished alongside the ones who disgrace the uniform.

The audit contained “Payroll and Overtime Audit” and keep in mind Keith James was elected Mayor of the City of West Palm Beach on March 12, 2019. When you read the auditors report keep in mind the police department is understaffed by 30 police officers. The city plans on hiring 15 police leaving the city short 15 officers which will force more overtime.

Effect: “long work hours cause fatigue, impair performance and can create a public safety concern” the IA lists 6 dangers that are possible when police are exhausted and can be read in the enclosed report. Below is part of the audit.

“The Police Dept. had a significant breakdown of controls and lacked adequate oversight surrounding hours worked by police officers. This resulted in excessive overtime that was not strategically managed. In 2019, 20 officers worked an additional 1,362 to 2,120 hours of overtime. In 2019 all top 20 earners of overtime made between $171,000 to $233,000 ea.. In other cases inappropriate payments were made to officers whose hours overlapped, meaning that they logged work hours for multiple locations at the same time.”

“Working substantial hours of overtime is not uncommon. During 2019 , Police Department personnel accumulated nearly 197,000 overtime hours with 115,000,hours paid for by the city, and 81,000 hours paid for by third-party vendors.”

“The following specific control breakdowns were noted. Taken as a whole, these problems create risk of abuse, potential thief of time, and require immediate change.” The IA lists 7 breakdowns which can be read in the entire report.

“Police Department PBC School Board Agreement Concerns.”

Condition “Not setting up policing initiatives with with other entities under a third- party agreement, creates financial disadvantages for the city.

The city and the School Board of Palm Beach County entered into an agreement to provide law enforcement presence for the two-year period ending in September 2020 to fulfill the effort to protect schools within within the City’s jurisdiction in accordance with the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas (MSD) Act and in accordance with the Palm Beach County Law Enforcement Agencies Combined Operational Assistance and Voluntary Cooperation Mutual Aid Agreement. Service is provided at five elementary schools and two high schools and the School Board reimburses the City at a current rate of $100.35 per hour.”
“The School Board agreement was not set up as an independent vendor contract and therefore, the payments received by the officers become pensionable. This increases the City’s long term pension benefit costs because the higher the rank, the higher the earnings, and therefore , the higher the City’s pension contribution.”

9/8/2020 5:00PM I returned to City Hall  to attend the City Commission meeting and as we all have learned the city has major money problems and trying to balance the budget on the backs of city workers. I listened as Commissioners Neering and Shoaf opposed the mayor’s plan on furloughs and eliminated city jobs and both commissioners let their opinions be known along with their request to the Mayor to return public comment from the end of the meeting to the beginning and Commissioner’s comments return to the end of meetings. I stand with them and applaud their action.

When I entered the Commission Chambers I was alone and right before the meeting a group of 7 or 8 people entered and took their seats in the back of the chamber all wearing masks.

I commented on item #9. Under “Background” “On December 10, 2019 WGI Inc; on behalf of HGT Banyon, LLC, submitted an application for an 8-story 94 unit affordable housing residential building at the northeast corner of Banyan Boulevard and Tamarind Avenue. The project is known as “Flagler Station” I assume taxpayers are footing the cost as Banyan Boulevard is under construction with more streets torn up. Getting it ready for the new apartment building?

When I read WGI here come the red flags. As readers may recall Mayor Keith James rented a private home in a gated community off WGI Vice President Jeffrey Brophy, and Commissioner lambert’s husband soon went to work for the company.

Commissioner lambert voted favorably for WGI contracts and stated the WPB Ethics officer told her she did not have a conflict of interest in doing so. I filed a complaint with the IG (Inspector General) and they booted my complaint to the COE (Commission on Ethics) and as expected they found “no probable” cause for a further investigation.

At the start of item #9 Commissioner Lambert stated she was told by “legal” to abstain from voting due to it being a “Conflict of Interest.” Took the wind right out of my sails, and I told her so.. I also asked her what the difference was between this vote and her previous votes. I guess she’ll get back to me.

Public comment started at 7:50 PM and ended at 8:12PM and the group that came to the meeting all made out comment cards and spoke on one subject “police overtime”

I must admit I was tired and couldn’t understand how they quoted the IA report almost verbatim. I was alone in the Commission Chambers during the IA meeting so where did this group come from with so much information? They watched the IA meeting on Zoom and they don’t like the direction the city is moving in. The younger generation had taken a major interest in city politics and are dedicated to bringing change to the city. No mayor has ever grabbed the attention of folks like James has done. Here’s the best part. They don’t live in gated communities and they vote. God Bless the younger generation.

I received a press release from the city concerning the impasse on negotiations between the police and their union over a new contract. I am attempting to gather the unions response to the city and will let readers know what I find. I ask you to consider two more things. How much overtime is credited to Mayor James having WPB Police accompany him when he travels from state to state and lets not forget Hawaii. Can the residents of WPB afford a police strike? No, I don’t think they would ever do that to us, but it’s a scary thought. Commissioners control the city’s purse strings and if they don’t like what they hear at the budget meeting tomorrow, don’t approve it and send them back to the drawing board. What’s the bully going to do-fire you, I don’t think so.

Read the entire IA report here:  Payroll and Overtime Audit Report Draft Report AUD19-04

The end

 

City Officials In Hiding?

City officials want to hear from you. Let’s see!

How meetings were held under Mayor Muoio.
1: Civility reading.
2: Consent Calendar
3: Comments from the public on non-agenda items. Allowed 3 minutes.
4: Regular agenda.
5: Comments from the Mayor and Commissioners

Meetings held under Mayor James.
1: Civility reading.
2: Consent Calendar This is where the city tries to sneak it’s approval on a number of items through without discussion.
3: Comments from the mayor and city commissioners, I was at the meeting when the regular agenda was over, it was late, people were tired and commissioners were to speak. When the the entire chamber stood to leave and Commissioner Lambert appeared shocked saying she had an important message for residents. Many of us continued to leave as we all have heard what a wonderful job she is doing. James moved Commission comments from last to beginning of the meetings. We will listen like it or not.
4: Regular agenda. I have seen the regular agenda run as late as 11:00PM when residents were concerned about an item and wanted their concerns heard.
5: Comments from the public on non-agenda items. Residents are allowed 3 minutes to make their point. Do you believe they want to hear from you when you may be making your point at 8 or 9 PM?

By reversing #3 & 5 residents are forced to listen to certain commissioners tell us what a wonderful job they are doing and they do it in as many as 6-9 minutes telling me their message is more important than ours. Residents are now the last to be heard when many will not be able to stay until the end of meeting when other obligations must be met. Public comment was generally heard within 15-20 minutes after the start of the meeting.

In my opinion if James can keep city hall closed and residents kept away until his first and hopefully last term as mayor is over he will do just that.

Below is how the county and some cities/towns hold public meetings

The Palm Beach County Commissioners have kept their meetings open to the public, and allow residents to speak.
Lake Park, FL Will begin public meetings on 9/16/2020
Wellington, Fl. Not determined, are discussing.
Boynton Beach, FL Public welcome Limited # of people.
Jupiter, FL Public welcome with social distancing.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL Public welcome with screening.
So, what’s wrong with WPB? My opinion, James is what’s wrong, and we have the ability to insure he is a one term mayor.

If you are unhappy with the new city agenda please note when I publish a story I always CC a copy to the mayor, city commissioners and city administrator. You can always “reply all” to send them a message.

FINAL City Commission Agenda _09_08_20 (1)

Do you recall early August the city treated the water system when a strong scent of bleach was noticed by residents for 8-9 days? I sent out an email to friends with dogs and advised they use bottled water for their pets. The picture below is located on Flagler, warns of contaminated water and was dated Aug.31,2020. So my question, is our drinking water safe? Flagler, the street that floods during heavy rain and high tide is getting worse because water is now moving into side streets. Flagler, where residents are asked to say “yes” for park bonds. Flagler, where residents are asked to complete the census so the city can receive more government money. Flagler, where residents are asked to re-elect city commissioners and in 21/2 years will be asked to re-elect Mayor James. Flagler, the street the city has refused to repair the flooding problem.

The end