Residents Spoke— City Commissioners Listened

Update: 4/18/2022, item “#8.1 Resolution # 87-22 amending the Comprehensive Fee Schedule for Sidewalk Cafe permits between downtown businesses and Northwood Village.”  Is this a new fee for Northwood Village? I’m not sure. One area is in District 1 (Cathleen Ward) and District 3: (Christy Fox.)

Residents and business owners attended the (1) CRA and (2) City Commission meeting and spoke on the issue, claiming they weren’t given enough notice concerning the raise hike and presented a petition for a postponement.

One resident, from Delray Beach, spoke against the hike and when she was through Mayor James said “Delray Beach” I took his 2 word statement as this was not her concern. Did James ever consider people traveled from surrounding cities to dine on Clematis St. Why was she not dining in Delray Beach? If the City does raise the fee, businesses will raise their prices to off-set the new rates. Especially in this economy people are finding ways to save money, not pay double the parking fee’s and if restaurants raise their menu prices diners will go elsewhere.

The examples used to determine a rate for downtown West Palm Beach is greatly skewed. The 3 rate comparisons used were among the top 3 per square foot rates charged for sidewalk cafes in Florida. The examples used was Lincoln Road in Miami Beach at $325 PSF (per square foot) Las Olas at$125 PSF and Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach $115 PSF. Double click picture to enlarge.

Staff reported Clematis lease rates were at average of $50 PSF This is not correct. Rates are $30-$35 PSF. Staff neglected to list the dozens of Cities that do not charge a PSF price and similar fees as we currently have in WPB for sidewalk cafes. Reminds me of the time when WPB raised the Fire Fee from $25.00 to $50.00, and staff mentioned two local cities that collected $100 and another $125. Again, staff neglected to report to Commissioners the many local cities that had no such fee. James was elected and immediately raised the Fire Fee to $100.00.

Staff told the dais this was discussed in March 2021 and Commissioners approved the motion on first reading, so downtown businesses were aware of the rate hike that was coming. Commissioner Warren mentioned she was not an elected officials at the time, and this was the first she heard of it. Commissioner Cathleen Ward was recently elected so she’s hearing it for the first time also.

Mayor James worked as hard as staff members to convince the Commissioners the resolution was needed.

Commissioner Christy Fox asked that the item be brought back to give downtown businesses a chance to respond, as did Commissioner Warren.

A frustrated James said “I’ll entertain a Motion” Meaning he wanted either Commissioner Fox or Ward to approve the resolution. The deafening silence was much appreciated by myself and people in the audience. Finally a voice speaks up. Commissioner Joe Peduzzi who represents District 4

“Mayor I move approval of resolution 87-22.”  “James, do I hear a second?” More glorious silence. James, “Motion dies for lack of a second.”

Commissioner Peduzzi I believe you tried to do a favor for James, but it backfired, and gave the impression you didn’t hear residents or bother to look at the petition or you didn’t care.

Commissioner Fox. Made a motion to bring the item back in a month, quickly seconded by Commissioner Lambert.

The City Commission decided unanimously to postpone their vote for 30 days to give the merchants a chance to meet, ask questions and give input.

The entire Commission meeting lasted 1:46:25. If you are interested in viewing the meeting scroll to beginning time 9:48 to end time 42:46 discussion lasted 33 minutes. For some reason the City has decided to run an ad before the meeting comes up. Please be patient.

City Commissioners: Info. For Newly elected Warren and Ward.

You heard people say they were not aware of the upcoming changes to the Fee Schedule for Sidewalk Cafe, and heard how the City mailed and hand delivered notices to businesses. Here’s how it went in the good old days. (before James and Johnson)

The City emailed a list of the upcoming weekly meetings to all residents who signed up to receive the information. One of the last time this courtesy was extended was 4/27/2021 when I received a DRAFT agenda for upcoming meetings to be held May 3 – 7, 2021.


(email rec’d) Fri, Apr 30, 2021 FINAL agenda for the 5/3/2021 City Commissioner meeting.

FINAL City Commission Agenda _05_03_21

(email rec’d) Tue, Mar 2, 2021   UPDATED Tentative Weekly Meeting List for the Week of March 1 – 5, 2021 This update cancels the CWPB-IAFF Impasse Hearings on:

(1)Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 9:00 AM; and

(2)Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 9:00 AM.

I attended every meeting of the CWPB-IAFF (City West Palm Beach International Association of Fire Fighters) and because of this notice did not waste my time and energy traveling to City Hall for a meeting that was canceled. If you want to attend a meeting now you should check the City website to insure the meeting will take place.

Tent 03-01-2021_Updated

In closing right before the City Commission meeting I listened to the CRA meeting which I could understand with the help of the CC (Closed Caption) button. When it came to the Commission meeting I received the message “Subtitles/closed caption unavailable”  Why?

I believe I credited the correct City Commissioners with the comments made above, and if I’m wrong please let me know and I will edit the story. It’s hard to understand muffled voices behind a mask and I do depend on re listening to the meeting and using the CC  on the city’s website. New Commissioner Ward removed her mask when addressing the public, much appreciated, thank you.

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I will always support the WPB Police Dept; and the men and women who protect the residents every day while knowing they are targeted by some. There are a few officers who make it difficult for others to do their jobs and cast a dark shadow over the City. This report covers 2019 with a change in Administration.
City of West Palm Beach Internal Auditor’s Office 7 pages, and can be read below.

“During the original City-wide audit of Payroll and Overtime, we identified inaccurate timecard reporting that contained overlapping hours within the City’s Police Department (Finding 5 of the Payroll and Overtime Audit Report). Our testing was limited to the top 20 Earners of City-paid and vendor-paid overtime during FY2019. The process to analyze the records was time consuming and labor intensive, thus we did not have the resources to expand the review to all officers within the scope period of the audit. Subsequently, we requested resources to conduct testing on all officers during the audit period which was
granted. As such, we have attached the Internal Auditor’s Office Addendum Report to the Payroll and Overtime Audit which details the results of the additional testing.

We thank our contracted auditors, Monica Sanchez and Elena Gonzalez, for their work in completing this audit. Further, we thank the management and staff of the Police Department for their time, assistance, and cooperation during this audit.


Opportunities for Improvement – Addendum
Inaccurate Police Officer Timecard Reporting

We conducted a review of all police officers (about 285) that had City-paid and vendor paid work hours in FY19 to determine if there were any instances where the hours overlapped, and officers were potentially overpaid. We found that 77 (27%) officers had numerous instances where hours overlapped, meaning that they logged work hours for multiple locations at the same time, for a combined total of 462.25 overlapping hours. Using the hourly pay rate of the officers that had overlapping hours, these officers were
potentially overpaid by the City and/or the vendor for a combined total of approximately $19,6531.

All City employees are expected to accurately report time worked. Further, the City hasan ethics policy that all City employees are required to adhere to.

The conditions we identified occurred due to:
Vendors are permitted to pay officers directly for hours worked and no requirement exists for vendors to track officer hours paid versus hours worked;Systems that do not communicate with one another, thereby making it difficult to flag overlapping hours; Higher ranking staff that can enter their own hours and do not require approval; and Lack of ongoing reconciliation of total (vendor-paid and City-paid) hours worked.

Failure to properly manage and oversee the total employee hours worked, results in an organization that is highly susceptible to improper actions and is exposed to financial loss. When abuse goes unidentified or unquestioned the organization can develop a culture where abuse becomes normal, which ultimately hurts the City’s reputation. It should be noted that when conditions are such that: 1. controls are weak or virtually
nonexistent it creates an opportunity; 2. there is a need which creates pressure; and 3. there is a pay discrepancy which permits rationalization of actions; the organization now has the three elements of the fraud triangle, and it becomes highly likely that fraud may occur or could be occurring undetected.

NOTE – The following recommendation replaces Recommendation 5 from the original Payroll and OT Audit.

The Police Department should ensure adequate monitoring and accurate reporting of hours worked by:
A. Improving technology and access to data. Dedicating resources to finding one automated solution that can support all aspects of the extra-duty and outside employment program, satisfy all data needs, and integrate with the City’s timekeeping and financial systems.

Management Response
Management agrees improved technology would allow for better oversight of both regular duty and overtime.

B. Recovering the overpayments identified in this analysis and/or future overpayments wherever warranted, cost-effective and within the confinement of existing laws and regulations.

Management Response B1
Management does not agree it is prudent to pursue “recovery of overpayments.”However, future oversight and identification of similar “overpayments” would warrant an investigation, appropriate discipline and/or restitution.

Administration Response B1
City Administration agrees with the Police Department that it is not prudent to pursue “recovery of the questionable overpayments” for the various reasons stated in the report among some others.

Auditors Comment B1
The Auditor’s Office recognizes that it may not be cost effective to recover all overpayments, however, it may be helpful to conduct an analysis and determine if it would be cost effective to recover some of the overpayments.

Management Response B2
The audit team made a historical finding for FY2019 of 462.25 hours of potential overlapping hours. An average hourly salary (from an Assistant Chief to new Officer) has been determined to be $41.89. The estimated total potential monetary amount in question is approximately $19,363.65.

Auditor’s Comment B2 

We spent a significant amount of time with PD management to validate the exceptions found related to the 77 officers. PD management was given ample time to review the exceptions and provide any additional information that could impact the results. As such, the results provided here represent discrepancies that PD management could not reconcile after exhaustive reviews.

Management Response
Management agrees there must be more effective review of hours worked by all employees; improved distribution of relevant information to supervisors should allow for appropriate reconciliation of work hours without designating more staff to track employee hours worked. The training and use of the new EDS reports during payroll approval can be implemented by November 30th.

C. Designating staff to periodically reconcile all vendor and City-paid hours. To accomplish this task, the designated staff should have access to all systems that track employee hours worked.

Management Response
Management agrees there must be more effective review of hours worked by all employees; improved distribution of relevant information to supervisors should allow for appropriate reconciliation of work hours without designating more staff to track employee hours worked. The training and use of the new EDS reports during payroll approval can be implemented by November 30th. Entire Internal Auditors Report can be read below.

Addendum to the Payroll and Overtime Audit Report AUD19-04(1)

Personal message
City Commission meeting 4/18/2022 and I spoke under Public Comment when my time ran out so what I wanted known will be added to the story as I want my experience on the record

I left a City Commission meeting in Oct. 2021 and made it to 45th. St. when one of my tires began to go flat. I made it home and parked. The next morning both front tires were flat. A friend arrived to help and said he would put “plugs” in the tires. He removed both screws and placed a plug in each tire, which helped, but both tires had a slow leak. New tires were not in my budget so I had to inflate both tires 2-3 times a week. Nov. 2021 tires were replaced.

2/22/2022 I was removed from a City Commission meeting for refusing to put on a mask until Mayor James did. I was escorted from City Hall when I was asked to sit in the courtyard for a little chat, which I did. I was kept there listening to information I had no interest in. When I finally asked him why he was telling me this, his response was he wanted me to know a few things about him. He received a text message, got up and said he had to go. 20-25 minutes of my life I will never get back. It surprised me to learn he knew I had a handicap placard.

I drive a Hybrid and while driving on 95 my car just died and I had the car towed to my home. The Hybrid battery was guaranteed for 10 years and the dealer wanted $4,000.00 to replace it. I knew it had to be replaced when I was told about a company called “Green Bean” who charged $1,500 to replace with a lifetime guarantee.

A technician arrived with a new battery and while installing it noticed I had a small oil leak. He was kind enough to look under the car and the leak was coming from my oil filter. He called me over and told me to look down and he turned the oil filter back and forth, and then hand tightened it, looked at the dipstick and told me I had no oil in the car I assumed it was the battery that caused my car to die, it wasn’t. I bought 2 quarts of oil, which was enough to get me the station for a new oil change.

Two incidents with my car after leaving City Hall is 2 to many and as I have told readers in the past I don’t believe in coincidences. It makes me angry and I don’t go away, I dig in and if I believe residents need information on what goes on behind the scenes I tell them. For example:

The City Charter says the City Administrator MUST live within City Limits. and I made an issue of it a few times. Well I’m happy to say the City Administrator Faye Johnson purchased a condo in November and it’s located within City Limits. What I don’t understand is why her car still resides in unincorporated Palm Beach County.
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City Raising Fees Again

My plan was to give myself and readers a break from WPB Watch City stories over the Easter weekend. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and man. Things change and plans are altered. I received an email today and I feel I must share it with readers as timing is crucial.

Those who have read about the increase in parking, presented to residents at the last possible moment to avoid pushback from voters & taxpayers.

The city has done it again and why not it worked before with the parking increase. This is what happens when people don’t pay attention and the results are no one complaining at the City Commission meetings.

There are different problems in all areas of the city, and lately it appears the powers to be are concentrating on the downtown area once again.

Most readers will not be impacted by this notice but I ask for unity and your involvement in this issue. Help the downtown area with your voice, and hopefully when they come for you and changes the city want to make in your area the downtown will stand with us and use their voices.

Below is the email I refer too.

Hello Downtown Stakeholders,

I know we have all been very busy and understandably may not had the time to keep up with the happenings within our government downtown. I just received in the mail the new proposed resolution No 87-22 (attached) which goes to a Commission vote this Monday, April 18th. I was not aware of this proposal until 3 days ago . The City and DDA said there were merchant meetings discussing it but the most recent was over one year ago and as I am getting on in years, I do not remember it.

The proposal changes the way we are charged for Sidewalk annual permits. Currently we pay a $150 annual permit fee. The new proposal will be a $200 fee plus an annual charge of $5 per sq foot of your sidewalk cafe area. For some it may be a minor amount and for larger establishments more impactful. For the average sidewalk patio it does represent a 1,500% increase in fees. I’m sure we would all support such a tax IF we knew where the additional revenue was going ie. mitigate homelessness, keep streets cleaner, more security downtown etc. I’m just afraid it will wind up in the City cloud slush fund.

After last weeks dramatic parking rate increase, which I also do not feel the downtown merchants had a chance to participate in, this is just another unnecessary tax on businesses downtown. Again this may not effect most of us but I do think it will effect some of the struggling businesses that are barely recovering from the covid pandemic.

We are only asking in this petition for a 30 day delay in the Commission vote to allow time for a merchant meeting, which is long overdue, and a chance for us to ask questions and give some input.

Please consider signing the petition, Fill in your business name. We will send the results to the commission at their meetings this Monday.”

Notice from the City can be read below.

Sidewalk Cafe Fees Pamphlet

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WPB Internal Audit on David

My comments in Italic.

City Commission Meeting held 4/4/2022. Item 9.1 on the agenda reads:

“Submittal of the following reports from the Internal Auditor’s Office:

1. Parking      Driver and Vehicle Information Database (DAVID) Audit Report

2. Police Internal Affairs Audit Report AUD20-05; and

3. Addendum to the Payroll and Overtime Audit Report AUD19-04.

Originating Department: Internal Audit
Staff Recommended Motion: Receive, Approve, and File.”

Background Information:
“The reports were presented to the Audit Committee on March 29, 2022,
where they were approved by the Audit Committee Members. Copies of
the reports have been provided to the Mayor and the City Commissioners.
Fiscal Note:
No fiscal impact.”

3/29/2022 Internal Audit meet with the IA Committee members and presented the findings. I attended via Zoom, and had concerns and questions particularly concerning police overtime.

Below is the first of 3 reports from the WPB Internal Auditor Department which the City Commissioners received, approved and filed on 4/4/2022 without one question being asked or one concern being shown. I have presented parts of the report and the entire report, containing 12 pages can be read below and I ask readers to note how many employee positions are vacant on the Parking Department Organization Chart. (page 4)

“The City’s Parking Department and the Code Enforcement Division utilize personal information that is obtained from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) to identify or confirm driver or vehicle owner information as related to parking and code violations. In order to utilize the data provided, the City and the FLHSMV entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines the City’s obligations to meet internal control measures designed to ensure that confidential personal information is adequately protected from inappropriate access or use.

To access the data from the FLHSMV, the City and its employees utilize an online portal known as DAVID (Driver and Vehicle Information Database) that is managed by the FLHSMV. While FLHSMV owns and manages the DAVID system, the City is required to appoint an Agency Point of Contact (APOC) to administer and perform local services.

Examples of these services include deactivation of terminated users, user access reviews, quality control reviews, and obtaining acknowledgements of the confidentiality of information, including criminal sanctions for confidentiality violations. This audit is a requirement in the MOU agreement and it was conducted to evaluate the internal controls in place to ensure that data provided or received is protected from unauthorized access, distribution, use, modification, or disclosure. We note that in the
MOU, the Parking Department is the primary requesting agency and the Code Enforcement Division is the sub-requesting agency. As such, the Parking Department is responsible for ensuring that all users comply with the MOU requirements. However, the Code Enforcement Division is within the Police Department and the Parking Department does not have authority or oversight over Code Enforcement employees.”

Statement of Scope
“The scope of the audit was from December 1, 2018 to September 30, 2021 (audit period). The audit included tests and reviews of systems, policies, procedures, and processes. Other procedures and reviews outside the audit period were conducted as deemed necessary.”

Statement of Objectives
“The objectives of this audit were to: A. Determine whether the internal controls governing the Parking Department’s access and usage of DAVID data complied with the requirements in the MOU, and B. Determine whether there were any additional opportunities for improvement.”

Statement of Methodology
“The methodologies used to meet the audit objectives included the following:
• Conducting interviews and inquiries of personnel;
• Reviews of relevant agreements, State laws, internal policies and procedures;
• Evaluating and testing internal controls as related to applicable systems;
• Analyzing data, and
• Other audit procedures deemed necessary.
To the extent possible, testing was conducted on the entire population. However, where sampling was employed, we utilized a statistically valid sample that provided a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error. As such, these results may be extrapolated to the entire population.”

Opportunities for Improvement

1. “Distribution of DAVID Data . During our review, we found that the Parking Department inappropriately distributed Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (FLHSMV) DAVID data to the sub-contracting collection agency to assist with collecting on delinquent parking accounts.
Furthermore, we found that the terms of the agreement with the subcontractor did not adequately disclose the applicable laws, security, and confidentiality requirements surrounding DAVID data.”


“Per the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Section IV, “Statement of Work”, the Requesting Party agrees to:
• Refrain from assigning, sub-contracting, or otherwise transferring its rights, duties, or obligations under this MOU, without the prior written consent of the Providing Agency,
• Not share, provide, or release any DAVID information to any law enforcement, other governmental agency, person, or entity not a party otherwise subject to the terms and condition of this MOU, and
• Protect and maintain the confidentiality and security of the data received from the Providing Agency in accordance with this MOU and applicable state and federal law.”


“Parking was not aware of the MOU requirements that prohibit the sharing of DAVID data without prior written consent of the FLHSMV. Additionally, Parking did not inform the Office of the City Attorney of the sub-contracting/third party distribution of DAVID data, prior to establishing an agreement for the collection of delinquent Parking citations.”


“Transferring DAVID data obtained from the FLHSMV to a sub-contracting collection agency without consent violates the terms of the MOU. More importantly, it increases the risk of inappropriate access to confidential information that could be misused.
Furthermore, this may leave the City susceptible to litigation and reputational damage, due to inappropriate distribution of personal identifiable information.”

Business Justification for Searches
“During the audit period, there were 14 users with DAVID access, of which 10 users performed searches. The 10 users conducted a total of 3,131 searches. We reviewed a statistically valid sample1 of 343 searches and found that for 94 (27%) searches performed, the Parking Department was unable to provide a business justification or other supporting documentation to validate whether the DAVID searches were for a legitimate business purpose. We also found the following DAVID search activities:
• 85 of 94 (90%) searches were performed within Parking, and
• 9 of 94 (10%) searches were performed within the Code Enforcement Division.

It should be noted that while a process for documenting business justifications for DAVID searches exist, we found that this process was not being consistently followed. Further, the Parking Department does not have oversight or authority over Code Enforcement staff because Code Enforcement is within the Police Department. This presents challenges for the Parking Department to enforce the MOU requirements or monitor the access and use of the DAVID data.”


“Per the MOU, Section V, “Safeguarding Information”, the parties mutually agree that information exchanged will not be used for any purposes not specifically authorized by this MOU. The MOU further states that unauthorized use includes, but is not limited to, queries not related to a legitimate business purpose, personal use, or the dissemination, sharing, copying, or passing of this information to unauthorized persons.”

“As related to the Parking Department, there was insufficient oversight of DAVID users to ensure that a business justification was documented or other support was maintained, for each search performed. As related to Code Enforcement, the Parking Department did not have the authority or oversight of the Code Enforcement Division to ensure that searches had a documented business justification.”

Failure to document a business justification or maintain other supporting documentation to justify searches performed in DAVID could result in the Parking Department’s inability to demonstrate to the FLHSMV that the searches are in fact legitimate and for a business purpose. Further, this increases the risk of inappropriate searches being performed. Finally, there is a heightened risk to the City of being liable for unauthorized access or misuse of confidential personal information, as well as a loss of public confidence.”

Access Termination

“During the audit period, DAVID access was added and/or removed for 14 users within the Parking Department. We reviewed access termination and found that the Parking Department did not deactivate DAVID user access in a timely manner for 4 (28%) employees with a terminated or transferred status. Their access remained active for 8 to 886 days. The following table provides the details of what we found:” Please see page 11 for Table,Criteria, Cause and Effect.

The Internal Auditor’s findings demonstrate that the city administration lacks the ability to properly train and monitor employees assigned to the parking department. Fault and blame for lack of over-site is attributable to the Mayor as Chief Executive and the City Administrator, Faye Johnson.

Previously a story was posted on WPB Watch that 275 WPB employees resigned between 4/1/2019 until 9/30/2021. If you missed the story you can read it below. How many employees were from the Parking Department, gone and not replaced?

Read the entire Internal Auditors Report Below. This is a great example of why the IA Dept. is so critical to the city. It finds the problems so the City can repair the damage. Let’s hope they do.

Parking DAVID Audit Report AUD22-01

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