WPB Fire Emergency

You  hope it never comes to your neighborhood, but eventually it does. You have an elderly neighbor who becomes ill and taken to a hospital, discharged after a week and sent home. All is well again, until it’s not.

This happened in my neighborhood and after being discharged from the hospital my neighbor became to weak to walk and slept on the couch his first night home.

The next morning his wife and son found him on the floor and being unable to lift him called 911. Of course the WPB Firefighter/ Paramedics responded as always.

My first observation was Captain Dylan Michelini, Drive Engineer John Wilson and Firefighter Stephanie Rosario all arrived wearing masks while the family were mask less. I realize at a time like this they are in panic mode and face masks are the last thing on their mind. I mention this for the sole reason of pointing out how dangerous their jobs can be.

The equipment came out and his vitals were checked and the family was advised all were good, and transport back to the hospital wasn’t needed. Then came the above and beyond the call to duty.

Captain Michelini made numerous suggestions such as remove the area rugs due to a tripping hazard, and also to acquire a seat walker to assist my neighbor being able to be more independent and his fear of falling. When the 2 men lifted him Firefighter Rosario placed her feet in front of his feet to prevent him from sliding forward when he was lifted and placed on the coach. Another suggestion was have him sit on a chair as the couch was low and harder to life himself up.

These three Firefighters took the time to insure the family understood the process of keeping their husband and father safe. A typical day in the life of a Firefighter, but extremely stressful for the family.

I recently attended the meeting between the Police and the City  in their negations for a new contract. They advanced as far as the Firefighters did. Both contracts expired Sept. 30,2020, and soon it will be 4 months without a new contract, pay raise or benefits.

The city skyline is alive with cranes putting up  new buildings and the City Commissioners just approved $1.8 million to add an additional 600 jobs to downtown. Are we growing at fast rate? I checked and here’s the answer.

With a 2020 population of 112,852, it is the 19th largest city in Florida and the 263rd largest city in the United States. West Palm Beach is currently growing at a rate of 0.80% annually and its population has increased by 12.94% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 99,919 in 2010. WOW! Guess what hasn’t grown? The WPB Fire and Police Departments. 

Police Dept.  Remember the $7.9 million no bid contract for PSC Security Guards? In the end PSC received the contract for $9,045,086.50. When James was questioned on the increase of over one million dollars he claimed the cost of living wage was to increase to $15.00/hour. OK, so why are the taxpayer paying the increase? Should the owner of PSC be paying the increase from their profits, and not the taxpayer’s pockets? That is the reason our police officers are having difficulty gaining a new contract. James preferred giving our dollars to PSC rather than the police officers who guard the city.

Fire Dept.  James claims we have new fire trucks and stations and that’s a good thing and I thank the City Commissioners for voting approval but what the hell are new stations and fire engines good for if we don’t have men/women to manage them?

Is Mayor James even aware of the low morale in both departments? Does he care? Does he feel responsible? No, he doesn’t. Why does he do the things he does? Because he can, who’s to stop him?






Your Dollars Explained

WPB Watch story recently posted I requested City Commissioners stop giving away tax dollars until Mayor James and City Administrator Johnson reach agreement with the WPB Police & Firefighter. Did they?

1/11/2021 “City commissioners Monday approved up to $1.8 million in job creation incentives to a major unnamed company from the Mid-Atlantic states considering bringing 600 jobs to downtown West Palm Beach.
Acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency board, the commissioners are offering $3,000 per job, to be paid after the company creates them. The payments would be made over four years.
In addition to the money, the company would get expedited permits through the city Construction Services division for the build-out of the new office space.
Four major office buildings are in various stages of planning or construction in downtown West Palm Beach.” Read story below.


I was reminded the city has a budget with dollars allocated for varies projects and I mentioned how many times the commissioners were asked to move dollars from one account to another basically robbing Peter to pay Paul.

A comment from a Fire Fighter. ” Our members didn’t sign up to fight fires, mitigate gas leaks, scuba dive in the city’s canals, cut vehicles apart on City’s roadways, or perform life saving medical interventions for the residents because of money, they knew going into this field that amassing wealth wasn’t their destiny.”

What I learned was all firefighters are paramedics. A fireman can pull you out of a burning building and also do CPR to insure all is being done to give you a fighting chance, and transport you to a hospital.

At the 1/11/2021 City Commission meeting the word was out that City Commissioner Cory Neering would not seek reelection as District 2 Commissioner. When the public was allowed to speak Fire Fighter Ryan Stacey presented Commissioner Neering with a firefighters helmet and thanked Commissioner Neering for his years of service and mentioned of all the elected officials who seek their endorsement with promises, Commissioner Neering was the one to keep his.The helmet was a great gift and the look of surprise on Cory’s face was priceless, but in my opinion the words Mr. Stacey spoke was the real gift. Cory Neering kept his promises. He will be missed by many.  Double click to enlarge picture.

city insert with water bill  Residents recently received their water bill which included a flyer namely “City of West Palm Beach: Your Dollars Explained” Double click the flier to enlarge and I draw your attention to the bottom right hand corner. The city claims:
Police Officers: 391, Firefighters: 244, Cost to operate Police & Fire $107,766,563.

I offer you the true numbers, straight from the horses mouth.

Police: “Our authorized strength is 314. We currently have 15 vacancies” So there are 299 Police Officers to protect a population of 109,767 (2019). Where are the missing 92 officers the city claims to have?

Fire: “Currently there are 239 firefighters across all ranks. We are currently in the process of hiring 37 using a Federal Grant that the firefighters (not the city) secured. Even after hiring this large amount we will still need 15 more in the near future if all stations are to be fully staff. Currently station 8 and 9 are not fully staffed. These numbers don’t account for planned retirements, injuries, and people leaving due to poor pay and morale.”

The city claims 244 Firefighters. What is needed 239+37+15= 291 needed to fully staff WPB Fire Dept.

A day in the life of a cop in WPB.

“A 33-year-old man is behind bars after police say he pulled the trigger of a gun while it was in the holster. Eugene Upperman is facing charges of attempted first-degree murder, resisting arrest with violence, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and discharging a firearm in public. On Sunday just after 4 p.m., West Palm Beach police say Upperman’s girlfriend called 911, saying he pointed a gun at her. Two officers patrolling the area responded and confronted Upperman at 21st Street and Division Avenue.” These 2 cops are among the lowest paid officers in Palm Beach County. Read the story below:


1/14/2021: I attended the CWPB / Iaff Collective Bargaining Session: It was an attempt to negotiate a new contract between the city and firefighters. This meeting was different because the Mayor and City Administrator were not in attendance, and Mr. Jose-Luis Rodriguez, Chief Human Resources, negotiated for the city, and I believe did a good job. Both sides were very professional and respectful of each others view point. What was missing was the tension in the room which I believe was due the Mayor and City Administrator not in attendance.
Mayor James, our first responders deserve better.
The end


Debtors Prison

Forgive me readers, I can’t seem to let 4919-20 go. It upsets me as much as the city not reaching an agreement with the Police and Fire Departments contract to insure they are not listed as #1 being the lowest paid in the Police Dept. in the County. Over 3 months without a contract and knowing James he wont allow their paycheck to be retroactive.

December 28,2020  City Commissioners passed Ordinance 4919-20 which regulates and prohibits certain conduct that would negatively affect the aesthetic beauty and the health, sanitation, and public safety of the City’s Downtown and Northwood Areas.

(1) prohibiting panhandling or soliciting in the Downtown and Northwood Areas:

While living in Florida I have never been approached by a homeless person asking for a handout. I am constantly approached by panhandlers holding their signs with their message and of course ends in “God Bless You” True story: A few years ago, it’s Christmas time I’m exiting 95 @ 45th. St. going home when I see 2 well dressed young (20-25) couple. She’s sitting on a suitcase and he’s holding a sign ” Trying to get home for Christmas.” I pulled over gave them a $20.00 bill and wished them well. A few day’s later coming off 95 at the end of the ramp there they are again, same couple, same suit case and sign. I pulled over exited the car and demanded my $20.00 back. Last I saw them they were running west on 45th. St. Panhandling can be seen daily on 45th. & Military. Same 4 people standing on the corners, same signs. The police must be working on the problem because the man that works daily @ Walmart has been missing lately, maybe he went home for Christmas.

(2) regulating sleeping and “camping” in those areas:

Homeless don’t have a place to lay their head at night. The lucky ones, if you can call them lucky, have a car where they sleep in the heat or cold. Talking about cold WPB had a temperature in the mid 40’s this week.  Commissioners Neering and Peduzzi objected to section 2 and voted approval after they were assured it would be removed. 

(3) prohibiting public indecency, public urination and public defecation.

Commissioner Shoaf mentioned she witnessed a man step outside of a bar and urinate in the alley. The city should have code enforcement check to insure that particular bar had restrooms. He has money to drink, he certainly can afford a $500.00 fine to avoid spending 60 day’s in jail.

When I wrote that last line I was remembering the stories of  “Debtor’s Prison” and went on the internet to investigate. Here’s what I found.

ACLU: “Debtor’s prisons were abolished in the United States in 1833. Until that time, failure to pay what you owed could and did land you in jail. Nearly two centuries ago, the United States formally abolished the incarceration of people who failed to pay off debts. Yet, recent years have witnessed the rise of modern-day debtors’ prisons—the arrest and jailing of poor people for failure to pay legal debts they can never hope to afford, through criminal justice procedures that violate their most basic rights.

A debtors’ prison is a prison for people who are unable to pay debt. Through the mid-19th century, debtors’ prisons (usually similar in form to locked workhouses) were a common way to deal with unpaid debt in Western Europe. Destitute persons who were unable to pay a court-ordered judgment would be incarcerated in these prisons until they had worked off their debt via labor or secured outside funds to pay the balance. The product of their labor went towards both the costs of their incarceration and their accrued debt. Increasing access and lenience throughout the history of bankruptcy law have made prison terms for unaggregated indigence obsolete over most of the world.”

Justipedia: “The incarceration of people who defaulted on their loans in debtors’ prison originated under the logic that punishing people for failure to pay their loans back would deter defaults. In debtors’ prison, however, there was no chance that the person could generate an income in order to pay back the loan.

Meanwhile, slavery became more and more socially disfavored. In the United States, slavery was defined as forced servitude. Once slavery was outlawed under this definition, debtors’ prison had to be outlawed too.”

When Did Slavery End? “On September 22, 1862, Lincoln issued a preliminary emancipation proclamation, and on January 1, 1863, he made it official that “slaves within any State, or designated part of a State…in rebellion,…shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

So in closing I guess the homeless can be indecent, urinate and defecate in public–just not in the Downtown and Northwood Areas. Do I have that right?

30 years before the end of slavery the US ended Debtors Prison. When I’m feeling melancholy and wishing for the “good old days” I don’t mean back to the the eighteenth century.

The end

James offers services of WPB FF

Updated 1/8/2021 @10:20 PM

Below are stories that I have no problem linking together. Please take the time to read them and draw your own conclusions. Below are excerpts from WPTV Chanel 5, PB Post, City website and WCJB TV-20. My comments in italic.

Corona Virus (COVID-19)

“James went onto say he’s offering support from West Palm Beach to Palm Beach County and the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County in their efforts to vaccinate the community. The West Palm Beach Fire Department stands by ready, willing and able to help administer the vaccine to City residents, James said in a statement.”

James doesn’t mention that 55 FF have caught the virus, and currently 5 are still sick with the virus from transporting our loved ones to the emergency rooms. Also doesn’t mention The city is still under a state of emergency and requires anyone working overtime to fill out a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) form 214 that details exactly how they spend their work day for reimbursement. Money to be made here unless your a FF and working without a contract since Oct.1,2020 with no end in sight. Where is the Fire Fee that all homeowners and Businesses must pay? My guess in the city’s general fund, to be used as James directs. Read the WPTV Chanel 5 story below.


West Palm considers selling naming rights to raise money.

“The decision to have staff study the possibility came at the suggestion of City Commissioner Christy Fox.

City Attorney Kimberly Rothenburg confirmed the law allowed cities to sell naming rights to facilities

City Commissioner Christina Lambert said she wondered whether such a program would require a staffer dedicated to initiate it, and what that might cost. Corporate sponsorships might be more feasible, such as advertising at an amphitheater, she said.

Commissioner Cory Neering cautioned that staff already might be stretched too thin to have running such a program added to its responsibilities.

Mayor Keith James asked whether the money raised would go into the city’s general budget or be required to go toward specific purposes.

Different approaches are possible, the city attorney replied. A nonprofit foundation could be formed to accept contributions, as was done with the library, or a procedure could be adopted to allow the money to go into the general fund, she said. She questioned whether donors could be found who would allow their money to go into the general fund, as opposed to directing it to a specific need such as parks or the library.”

Commissioner Fox apparently put her cell phone down long enough to come up with a reasonably good idea. Thoughtful questions from Lambert and Neering. James of course wanted to know if the funds could be placed into the general fund, along with the Fire Fee. The parks and library don’t need the funds due to Mandell’s generosity and parks have their 30 million Park Bond. How about homeless people? No, that’s been fixed, the city will fine and /or jail them. Read story below:


6/23/2020 Ocala’s fire service fee ruled an unconstitutional tax.

OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) – “A ruling by the Fifth District Court of Appeals could lead other cities to assess their own fire fees.
Their ruling reversed a decision made by a circuit court judge who initially considered it constitutional last year.
As the fee was bundled among the city’s utility, it gave little option for residents to opt out, court documents said. The plaintiffs also argue that residents could choose not to pay the fee, but that would require disconnecting from the City’s water, sewer and electric service.
The court ordered city leaders to establish a fund to reimburse residents.”

Well, here we go. WPB officials were told this was a bad idea long before James doubled the fee to $100.00. Maybe the Fifth District Court of Appeals wasn’t aware that staff “Recommended Approval.” Reminds me of when a reporter asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi what was in the Obama Affordable Care Act. Her response: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Read the story below:



Below is on the agenda for the 1/11/ 2021 City Commission meeting, Item #10

Resolution No. 14-21(F) amends the General Fund full-time equivalents (FTEs) to restore one (1) Executive Administrative Assistant position in City Administration, restore one (1) Senior Administrative Assistant position in Internal Audit and restore professional services funding in the Internal Audit Department as well as eliminate a Library Assistant position and add On-Call hours for the Mandel Public Library.

Resolution No. 15-21(F) authorizes the appropriation or transfer of City funds in Fiscal Year 2021.


Agenda Cover Memorandum No.: 23186
Staff Recommended Motion: Approve
Resolution No. 14-21(F) and Resolution No. 15-21(F).

This item is, in part, to effectuate changes to the FY21 General Fund budget that were discussed with the City Commission during the final budget adoption hearings. Two of the changes relate to restoration of the Senior Administrative Assistant position and professional services funding of $60,000 in the Internal Audit Department. Funding for these two items were removed from the budget during preparation of the preliminary FY21 budget as part of a series of cost reduction measures to balance the General Fund budget. However, based on the adverse impact to the efficient operation of the Internal Audit Department and as discussed with the Commission, alternative reductions were made. Therefore, the funding can be restored from carryforward dollars as was committed.

The third change is to restore the Executive Administrative Assistant position in City Administration, which was also eliminated as part of the cost reduction measures. This occupied position was going to be eliminated as part of meeting the Mayor’s Office 5% budget reduction and would have resulted in a staff layoff. In light of the Commission’s concerns about staff layoffs, instead of eliminating the position, the funding for the vacant Vision Zero position was eliminated. However, the Executive Administrative Assistant position was not included in the adopted FY21 General Fund position and needs to be added back into the FTE compliment.

Approval of Resolution No. 14-21(F) would amend the FTE General Fund budget by adding back one (1) Executive Administrative Assistant position in City Administration, one (1) Senior Administrative Assistant position, including professional services funding of $60,000, in the Internal Audit Department. The total funding required for these changes is $166,680 from General Fund carryforward fund balance.
The last item is a newly proposed change in the Library Department. Staff is recommending eliminating one (1) Library Assistant position that was recently vacated through an internal promotion and to backfill the position by adding one (1) on-call Library Assistant position, which will provide sufficient staff coverage for the Library’s first floor Customer Service desk. This reallocation will result in a cost saving of approximately $23,200 for this fiscal year. Staff recommends City Commission approval of Resolution No. 14-21(F) to provide FTE count changes and Resolution No. 15-21(F) to provide budget.
Fiscal Note: Approval will add two (2) FTEs, $60,000 for Audit Professional Services, eliminate one (1) FTE, and add one (1) on-call position.

Another point to be made on the city website under Employment Opportunities is listed a job for a mayor’s Chief of Staff, pay grade 4 with a salary of $63,000.00 to $94,000.00. He doesn’t need a chief of staff with a little over 2 years to serve.
Commissioner’s, you 5 people control the peoples tax money and must approve every dollar spent and I respectfully ask you not to approve item #10 or the mayor’s Chief of Staff position when it is presented for consideration. Any item brought before you that will cost the city money until the Mayor and City Administrator have a contract with our Fire Fighters and Police officers who have been without a contract since Oct.1, 2020. It’s time to stop telling both departments you love them, it’s time to show them.
The end