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.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/2021/01/11/west-palm-beach-offers-1-8-million-lure-600-jobs-mid-atlantic/6623401002/

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:

https://cbs12.com/news/local/man-accused-of-pulling-trigger-of-officers-gun-while-it-was-in-the-holster-during-fight

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.

https://www.wptv.com/coronavirus/west-palm-beach-mayor-offers-support-for-covid-19-vaccination-efforts

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:

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/2021/01/04/west-palm-beach-studies-selling-naming-rights-buildings-parks/4131118001/

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:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/ocala-e2-80-99s-fire-fee-ruled-an-unconstitutional-tax/ar-BB15QSqN

 

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 14-21(F): A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, AMENDING THE FY 2020/2021 FULL TIME EQUIVALENT (F.T.E.) GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR THE MAYOR’S DEPARTMENT, CITY ADMINISTRATION; THE INTERNAL AUDIT DEPARTMENT; AND THE LIBRARY; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

RESOLUTION NO. 15-21(F): A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, AUTHORIZING THE APPROPRIATION OR TRANSFER OF CITY FUNDS IN FISCAL YEAR 2020/2021 IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 4.03 OF THE CITY CHARTER OF THE CITY OF WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, FOR THE PURPOSE OF AMENDING THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET TO REALLOCATE FUNDS FOR THE MANDEL PUBLIC LIBRARY BY REDUCING ONE (1) F.T.E. AND ADDING ON-CALL HOURS AND TO PROVIDE APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE MAYOR’S OFFICE TO ADD ONE (1) F.T.E. AND FOR THE INTERNAL AUDIT DEPARTMENT TO ADD ONE (1) F.T.E. AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FUNDING; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Agenda Cover Memorandum No.: 23186
Staff Recommended Motion: Approve
Resolution No. 14-21(F) and Resolution No. 15-21(F).

Background:
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

 

Homelessness=Criminal?

#9 Public Hearing and Second Reading of Ordinance No. 4919-20 amending the City’s Code of Ordinances to prohibit certain conduct that threaten the aesthetic beauty and public health and safety in the Cities Downtown and Northwood Area.

Mayor Keith James and Commissioner Lambert ran for office with the promise of working on the homeless problem which is estimated at 400 people. 4919-20 is James solution and residents witnessed his frustration while attempting to bully the commissioners into approving the Ordinance.

James started by stating “This ordinance is not a criminalization of homelessness,” and repeated his statement several times. The Ordinance carries a penalty of a $500.00 fine or 60 days in jail. Not one commissioner asked the question does the city impose fines and jail people who are not criminals?

Channel 5 had their cameras in chambers and their story can be read below I will include a few excerpts and my response in Italics. “But the debate over camping/sleeping in public areas began to weigh on commissioners Cory Neering and Joseph Peduzzi. Both questioned whether it was the smart thing to include in the ordinance to Mayor James’ frustration.” Two commissioners who used common sense, but in my opinion should have tabled the item until a later date when they could have investigated the matter further.

“I think you should specify what it is you are trying to work on,” James said.”  When James wants to make change he tells staff to “make it happen” and if they want to keep their job they will say and do what is necessary to insure a yes vote from City Commissioners. Staff stands before the commission and make their presentation’s and spin their tale, and this is the only time commissioners can ask questions of them. If a commissioner has a question on a particular item 3 days before the meeting they are NOT allowed to ask the question and possibly investigate staff’s answer.
https://www.wptv.com/news/region-c-palm-beach-county/west-palm-beach/west-palm-beach-restricting-homeless-activity-downtown

The PB Post wrote a story on Ordinance No. 4919-20 and can be read below and I want to bring to readers attention The Lords Place who has worked tirelessly for more than three decades and have devoted themselves to the Homeless population. My comments in italics.

“The homeless are people who are choosing the streets because that’s all they know, or all they have,” Diana Stanley, CEO of The Lord’s Place told the commission. Her organization had a contract with the city to provide outreach to the city’s homeless until it was terminated a month ago.”  The city terminated the contract and cant be bothered with the homeless except to hide or move them from sight due to their aesthetics not blending in with the mayors definition. Definition of aesthetics “a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty”  So why did James not renew the contract with The Lords Place?   https://thelordsplace.org/

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/west-palm-passes-law-that-will-fine-and-jail-homeless-for-aesthetics/ar-BB1ckg6x

I agree urinating and defecting in public is 100% wrong but where are the homeless to go? I know city parks have restrooms and a friend helped me locate a few public parks with facilities. Here are pictures of 3 such parks, each one locked 24/7.

Now this is criminal  restroom in Drayer Park!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restroom in Phipps Park: Can’t even get a drink of water, never mind using the facilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaines Park: Witnessed a group of young men playing basketball, and asked them what they did when they had to use the facilities. One young man said restroom is never open. I asked him “what do you do?” His answer: Lady don’t ask. I smiled and left them to their game. Gaines Park is near The Lords Place, and homeless can be seen waiting for their lunch, probable their only meal of the day.

If anyone should understand homelessness it should be Mayor Keith A. James. He has had 3 foreclosures, case # 19970211085, 20130486593 and 20150106271. Multiple tax liens, to many to list, and had his City Commission paycheck garnished case # 20180394843. Readers can verify this with the PBC Clerk of Courts, and this is the man elected to run the City Of WPB.

https://www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/records/court-records

In closing I must ask where was Commissioner Lambert during this very important meeting and vote?

We sat and listened to City Clerk Carson read into the record residents who wanted their views known and there were approximately 25 cards, and I didn’t hear one that asked the commissioners to pass the Ordinance. The entire time the statements were read Commissioner Fox looked down, and I thought she may be texting, in fact I’d put $$ on it. Commissioner Fox, very disrespectful to Ms. Carson, other commissioners the audience  and the opinion of the people who submitted their cards and If I didn’t know better I would believe your mind was made up on how you would vote.

The end.

One Failure After Another

For the record I believe City Administrator Faye Johnson is doing the best job she can while answering to Mayor Keith James who lives by the motto “my way or the highway” and “get it done”. When she accepted the position as City Administrator is this how she pictured her position or does she have any regrets?

Aug. 2019 Joined the city of WPB as Assistant City Administrator.
Oct. 2019 Promoted to Interim City Administrator.
Jan. 2020 Promoted to City Administrator.

The City Charter calls for the City Administrator to live within the city limits.

Faye Johnson lives in unincorporated PB County, and she has the responsibility of leading the talks between the WPB Fire Dept.(IAFF)  and the WPB Police Dept. (formally PBA now represented by Fraternity Order of Police (FOP) and as of today no agreement has been reached with either first responders.

City claims money is tight and cuts must be made which will start with city employees either furloughed or laid off. If employees either resigned or retired we were told positions would not be filled meaning employees had their responsibility plus the extra work of their missing co-worker. If an employee was represented by the Service Employees  International Union (SEIU) they were given a 3% raise. Not a union member, no raise.

At the commission meeting held 11/30/2020 item # 9 passed unanimously. Here it is:

Resolution no. 350-20 (F) authorizes the creation of three (3) full time equivalent (F.T.E.) positions and personnel detail within the 309 Series 2020 General Obligations Bond Fund to support the completion of Park Bonds projects: and

Resolution No. 351-20  (F) reallocates budget appropriations and within Fund 309 from professional services to Salaries and Benefits to fund the positions. That is how the 2 resolutions reads. Here is what it means: Mayor Keith James decided to hire three (3) people and pay them a salary of  $875,000.00 over three (3) years.

How did previous Mayors handle the Park Bond without the positions listed above? They can’t find the money for first responders but can find close to a million dollars for 3 new positions.

Mayor James found $9,045,086.50 for a five (5) year contract for his good pal  Willie Perez from PSC Security Company. PSC received the raise so no more money left for our first responders.

Ms. Johnson depends on the Palm Beach County Firefighters and Sheriff’s Dept. to protect her life and property, and if she lived within city limits she may view the talks differently.

If she lived on No. Flagler she would understand the problems the area has with severe flooding for the past 20 years.

If she lived on So. Dixie Hwy. she would have a better understand of the residents concern on what is developed on 8111 So. Dixie. At one city commission meeting James made the statement the land belongs to all WPB residents, not just the southend and I agree with him, but he should be aware whatever is constructed will not effect me and the area where I reside but will effect the southend residents.

If she lived in my area she may better understand our concern of the traffic situation around 45Th.St. and Village Boulevard with the new construction of over 300 apt’s. on Village Blvd. and 374 on 45th St. along with a 150 room hotel. Development will not effect 8111 or No. Flagler flooding, but will indeed impact residents in my area.

Below is the article written by PB Post Joel Engelhardt and I have included it for readers. Below is a sampling of the article. Read who was the City Attorney, and what politician wanted Grand Jury testimony silenced. The city put the residents of Waterview Towers through hell for years. FYI  “staff recommended approval.”

“WEST PALM BEACH — Sometime in the distant past, the city made a mistake, a simple unforeseen slip in a complex series of agreements.  The city made money off that mistake. Now, the city could be forced to pay millions.

A still-unfinished proposal floated a year ago to resolve all the issues surrounding the Palm Harbor Marina and its adjoining condo tower on Flagler Drive calls for the city to pay the condo owners $2.5 million  to buy the rights to a sidewalk the city already owns.”

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/2020/11/24/how-waterview-towers-owners-nearly-claimed-share-palm-harbor-marina/6294374002/

 

 

Action Summit

The notice below is posted on the city website. Sounds good until you remember Mayor James previous committees that went no-where and I don’t have much faith in his “Mayors Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Equality” All of a sudden YOUR VISION and your input on the priorities that matter most to you is what the city is seeking. Then it hit me. James is starting his campaign for re-election for a second Mayoral run. So tell the people what they want to hear.

“Action Summit”
Post Date:11/13/2020 11:48 AM
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA (November 13, 2020) — Join us on Saturday, December 5, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. for the first-ever West Palm Beach Racial and Ethnic Equality Action Summit! This highly interactive virtual public event will serve as an opportunity for residents and stakeholders to weigh in on the priorities that matter most to them and to influence the work of the Mayor’s Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Equality. This is a chance for us to hear YOUR VISION for a more equitable City of West Palm Beach. Your input will play an important role in influencing local decisionmakers and recommendations from the Mayors Task Force for Racial and Ethnic Equality.” Read the invitation here: https://bit.ly/3ptUfeK

This is how James cares about your input and vision from his early day’s as a City Commissioner, and two commissioners who attempted to have the timing of the meetings and public comment scheduled to a more convenient time for residents to be included.

Keith James has demonstrated a record on the West Palm Beach City Commission of being opposed to greater citizen input/ participation at City Commission meetings. Below are excerpts:

“The city commission leaves the public comment part to the end of its meetings, sometimes more than three hours after they start. Only a few residents usually remain, and they are normally there to criticize the mayor and commissioners.

Commissioners Shanon Materio and Kimberly Mitchell want to allow the public to speak early and return public comment to a more convenient time for residents, like it was before former Mayor Lois Frankel advocated for the late-meeting comments.

Most of Palm Beach County’s larger municipalities allow public comment at the start of their meetings.

Mayor Jeri Muoio doesn’t favor the move but said she’d put it on the commission’s agenda if requested. Commissioner Keith James agreed with Muoio that public comment is best at the end. “Those who have matters on the agenda which are scheduled probably deserve to go first simply because there has been an effort to get that item on the agenda,” James said.  The city commission favored business owners and senior citizens over working-class residents Monday, electing not to move meetings to the evening and keeping public comment at the end of their agendas.

Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell wanted the starting time of meetings to be moved from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. so people with regular work hours could attend. The commission voted in 2008 for a 5 p.m. start time, but then-Mayor Lois Frankel vetoed the measure.

Mitchell also said at Monday’s commission work session that she wanted public comment scheduled at the beginning of meetings so residents wouldn’t have to wait hours to speak. However, Commissioner Keith James said the commission needs to address its business agenda before hearing from the public. (Palm Beach Post, January 28, 2013)

“I would like to get the legislative business done so those who are there for legislative business are assured their opportunity to address us,” James said. (Palm Beach Post, May 10, 2011)

Mayor Muoio attempted to move public comment to the end of the meetings and received pushback and she listened, I’m  sure much to James distress, and left public comment at the beginning of meetings.

Now that James is king he does what he wants and listens to no-one.

From 2011 thru 2020 the last people James wants to hear from are residents, and if he could find a way to end it–he would.

Let’s end on a positive note. The Fraternal Order Of Police and Firefighters the two organizations that are there for us are now asking for our help.

You’ve read this far so please take the time to view the link below and if possible let’s help them help the Marcos Children.

Join WPB First Responders in Support of a Fundraiser. The Marcos children tragically lost their mother this year and are orphaned. Help us support them and their foster family as they are forced to adapt to their new life.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/join-wpb-first-responders-in-support-of-a-fundraiser-tickets-128959105155?ref=eios

The end

 

 

WPB Police Not Needed with PSC on the Job!

City Commission meeting to be held 11/16/2020 item #14 below.

My comments in Italics.

14. Resolution No. 323-20 approving a Services Contract for Security Services with Professional Security Consultants at an annual fee of $1,809,017.30, which is fully budgeted in the FY 2020-21 budget.

Probably funds from the Fire Fee, and be aware the firefighters are begging negotiating a decent pay raise, and James is standing firm with his offer, take it or leave it, after raising the fire fee from $50.00 to $100.00, raising millions more from taxpayers.

RESOLUTION NO. 323-20: A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, APPROVING THE SERVICES CONTRACT FOR SECURITY SERVICES WITH PROFESSIONAL SECURITY CONSULTANTS AND AUTHORIZING EXECUTION OF THE AGREEMENT; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

This contract will cost taxpayers a million + dollars more than the previous contract and this contract calls for

“The City Commission applied the City’s Living Wage requirements to the procurement. Accordingly, the contract provides that no security officer providing services under the Contract will be paid less than $15 per hour”

Is that where the taxpayer Million + dollars are going-to give pay raises to PSC security guards, better know as “Ambassadors” Shouldn’t PSC Securities be responsible for giving pay raises to their employees who by the way have their Corporate Headquarters in Los Angeles, CA. Giddens Security is based in Jacksonville Fl. Why is the money being spent out of state?

Fiscal Note:
Annual cost of $1,809,017.30 is fully-budgeted in fiscal year 2020-21. Cost over 3-year term will be $5,427,051.90.

After the 3 year contract ends do you believe PSC wont have the contract extended another 2 years for a total of $9,045,086.50?

Read the City’s agenda for 11/16/2020 meeting below.
https://www.wpb.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=2693

“The other applicants under the new request for proposals include Giddens Security Corp., which previously guarded City Hall, the library and Northwood. The city solicited competitive proposals from firms early in 2019 but James canceled that solicitation within two weeks of taking office in April, instead recommending the city commission hire PSC.”

City Commissioner’s listened to the Harvard graduate Mayor, voted approval and walked the city into a lawsuit.

“Evaluation committee picks five finalists from 15 bidders for multimillion-dollar West Palm Beach security contract.

Professional Security Concepts ties for second.

WEST PALM BEACH — The security guard company whose close ties to city hall led to the cancellation of a no-bid contract tied Wednesday for second place among 15 firms vying for the city’s multimillion-dollar security business. In fourth came Alliance Universal Security Services/Universal Protection Services with 540; and Security Alliance LLC with 532. Amid calls for investigation, James, on the advice of his new administrator, Faye Johnson, announced he would rescind the PSC contract and order a new request for proposals. PSC has continued to handle the city’s guard work in the meantime.

PSC still on the job month to month.

Meanwhile, Perez drew fire after a departing city employee in October accused him of having texted her a photo of a penis. He denied wrongdoing.

Professional Security Consultants, doing business as Professional Security Concepts, tied for second place with industry giant G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc., with 583 points.

Giddens Security, the company forced out last fall when the city handed the no-bid contract to PSC was ranked first by the evaluation committee of officials from seven West Palm Beach departments. Giddens scored 594 out of 710 points.”

Read the entire PB Post story below:

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20200205/willie-perezrsquo-firm-ranks-2nd-in-redo-of-west-palm-beach-security-contract

I have a question:  Who’s palm is being greased?

In November, Related Cos., owner of the Rosemary Square retail venue, dropped PSC as its security guard contractor.

FYI

WPB Watch readers have questioned what happened to the petition to recall Mayor Keith James. Here’s the story.
An attorney volunteered to write the petition so we would not have legal problems with the wording.

We needed volunteers to gather signatures of registered voters. People stepped forward to volunteer with 2 residents willing to set up shop outside their grocery store to gather signatures.

Others were willing to go door to door and where ever people gathered.

What happened was the Corona Virus, and the country basically shut down. So what happened–James got lucky—again.

The end

WPB Honors Henry Flagler, Really ?

The residents of West Palm Beach have elected a Mayor and City Commission who can’t be bothered to investigate any new projects it votes to accept because it is easier to spend a few minutes and listen to staff’s recommendation. Below are excerpts from a story in the PB Post, and it tells of a new project and honors Henry Flagler.

The project manager is WGI, (Wantman Group) the project is $32 million dollars, it was decided at the CRA meeting where Commissioner Lambert voted approval of the project. When the project goes before the City Commission Lambert will vote again for approval.

The Wantman Group has received another lucrative contract from the city. This is the same company who employs Jeffrey Brophy, senior vice president of WGI and Mr. Brophy owns a home in Andros Isles and rented his home to then City Commissioner Keith James who voted approval on every contract that contained a WGI contract. James said he paid “fair market value” for the rent, but never showed proof.

It gets better for WGI after City Commissioner Christine Lambert was sworn in and 4 months later WGI hired her husband Monty as a Senior Business Development Manager.

Lambert stated previously the WPB ethics officer made the decision she had no conflict of interest in voting for WGI projects. I say WPB has no ethics since April 4,2019.

Do you believe the Lambert’s wont benefit from her vote? Read the excerpts and the entire story below.

“An old spur that was part of Henry Flagler’s railroad a century ago will become West Palm Beach’s latest park, a linear spot to rise near the northern edge of downtown.

The city commissioners, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency board, last week approved a $500,000 contribution to create the park behind Flagler Station, an eight-story apartment building designed for downtown workers, at Banyan Boulevard and North Tamarind Avenue.

The 34-foot-wide, landscaped, lighted park will run behind the building, between Tamarind and Sapodilla avenues. Plans call for installing a “ghost train,” an outdoor artwork recalling the trains that once rode the rail, which will remain in place.

“Everybody deserves great open spaces close to where they live. That’s always the goal of our projects,” Christopher Roog, executive director of the redevelopment agency, said Friday.

The 94 affordable apartments and park, expected to cost a total of $32 million, are scheduled for completion in early to mid-2022.

Edwin Muller, project manager for WGI, said Flagler Station is designed as a gateway for downtown and for the historic neighborhood to its north.

The developer is HTG Banyan LLC, a Coconut Grove-based affordable housing builder, whose project manager is WGI Inc., a West Palm Beach design and consulting firm.”

If you take the time to read the Post story please notice the additional story “West Palm presses for $21 million sea-level grant to help redo Currie Park.” Where is the $30 million dollar Park Bond voters gave the city in 2020? Certainly didn’t go to Police and Firefighter contract for pay raises.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/local/westpb/2020/11/09/west-palm-oks-linear-park-near-workforce-apartments-downtown/6163574002/

Tolerance for violence is readily accepted in 2020. America is in crisis with cities being torn apart, burning down cities, looting, destroying statues and Americans killing each other over slavery the Confederacy and shooting of unarmed black men.

Lets take a look back to Henry Flagler, who never owned a slave, he leased them, and what he did to bring the railroad to Florida, and let them ask themselves if honoring Flagler is the right thing to do. Read how “Flagler co-opted powerful news outlets to spread distorted versions of events” Get the press on your side and your side is the winner.

“How slave labor built the state of Florida — decades after the Civil War.”

From 1885 to 1913, Standard Oil founder Henry Flagler built an empire in Florida of railroads, hotels, steamship lines, resorts, even cities, from Jacksonville to Key West. He raised Palm Beach and Miami from the sand. And like another real estate tycoon, his name is blazoned across the state’s landscape: Flagler College, Flagler County, Flagler Memorial Bridge, Flagler Beach.

Few know, however, that Flagler built his tourist empire — and modern Florida — by exploiting two brutal labor systems that blanketed the South for 50 years after the Civil War: convict leasing and debt peonage. Created to preserve the white supremacist racial order and to address the South’s labor shortages, these systems targeted African Americans, stealing their labor and entrapping them in state-sanctioned forms of involuntary servitude.

Committed to preserving his and the state’s reputation, Flagler co-opted powerful news outlets to spread distorted versions of events.

When the U.S. Justice Department, African American leaders and northern muckraking journalists exposed Flagler’s labor practices, he colluded with powerful government, newspaper and business interests in Florida to whitewash public knowledge and, by extension, the historical record itself.

Flagler and Florida were not aberrations. Convict lease laws in almost every Southern state essentially criminalized blackness, providing a means for authorities to arrest freed people for pseudo-crimes like vagrancy, lease them to private companies and force their labor.”‘
Read the entire story in the Washington Post below.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/05/17/how-slave-labor-built-the-state-of-florida-decades-after-the-civil-war/

The end

James and the Ethics Task Force

Prior to being elected Mayor, Keith James served as the District 4 City Commissioner from 2011 – 2019

WPB Watch posted a story on October 18, 2020 titled ” Keith James has Another Committee.” and if you read the story you are aware both committee’s went nowhere. So where did it begin, these committee’s that were finished before they began, and committee members time and effort in their attempt to aid the city, wasted. We must return to 2007 and 2010, where James received his start from former Mayor Frankel.

ETHICS TASK FORCE

Keith James’ leadership of former Mayor Lois Frankel’s Ethics Task Force was questioned. There were questions raised about whether he was committed to the implementation of Ethics Reforms. Below are excerpts:

The task force, hand-picked by Frankel, recommended establishing an ethics officer, requiring commissioners to disclose ties involving businesses and requiring ethics training by employees. The city didn’t adopt many other suggestions, including setting up the hot line where ethics violations could be reported. Some city officials say the city never went far enough to rid itself of ethics problems. “The whole thing was kind of colluded,” Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell said. “We backed into an ethics program. It was more of a moment where the city was saying, ‘See, we have an ethics committee,’ and never really took the recommendations of an ethics committee.”

Frankel said a hot line, which would have been under the city’s internal auditor’s office, wasn’t necessary because the state has its own for citizens to lodge complaints. “It keeps us independent,” Frankel said. “People shouldn’t have to call us to complain about us.” Attorney Keith James, who chaired the task force, had a more positive outlook than Badesh of the panel’s achievements. “We made some very specific recommendations, they were very well thought out, and it was very well received by the city,” James said.

You know a city is ethically challenged when the treatment of its ethics task force raises ethical questions.

Welcome to West Palm Beach, which has fed two city commissioners to federal prison in the past year but cannot bring itself to adopt some obvious reforms. How about an ethics hot line? How about registering lobbyists? How about elected officials disclosing their business clients?

(Palm Beach Post, July 5, 2010)

Modest, common-sense changes that would help restore public confidence in a scandal-ridden government, but city leaders are balking. If Moses had brought the commandments to West Palm Beach, we’d have only six of them. Why the stalling? The answer from city hall is that doing too much might interfere with the work of a state grand jury — a second one — that is investigating the corruption in the city.

Mayor Lois Frankel first said the city couldn’t take up any ethics proposals “out of respect for the grand jury,” as if some conflict existed. Now, she says the city must act “methodically” and adopt selective reforms. She has declined to bring forward all the recommendations of the 10-member ethics task force she handpicked a year ago. Two members of that task force — Scott Badesh, CEO of the United Way of Palm Beach County, and David Clark, president of Palm Beach Atlantic University — have called for a meeting, ideally with city commissioners, to discuss their proposals. Dr. Clark wrote to the city that the panel needs “to meet and report or just fade away.” But no meeting. And no action on several key recommendations.

West Palm Beach attorney Keith James, the mayor’s choice to chair the task force, recently has adopted the mayor’s position on muzzling the task force. In one of the most curious bits of commentary to wash ashore in the wake of the city’s scandal, Mr. James asserts that the panel has to remain in hibernation. “I have decided that it would not be wise to meet until after the grand jury issues its report,”

Mr. James wrote to the city. “My primary concern is that our discourse will be chilled or worse, that given our frustration and dissatisfaction with some of its past work, something might be said to trigger further investigation by that body.” The comment is intriguing for several reasons. First, the only measurable “frustration and dissatisfaction” in the city with the first grand jury’s report came from Mayor Frankel and state Rep. Mary Brandenburg.

The mayor objected to the jurors’ characterization of West Palm Beach as a “pay-to-play” city that favored developers’ interests over those of common citizens. The report was not kind to the mayor.

Rep. Brandenburg, who in a strange twist of fate happens to be a member of the ethics task force, was critical of the report for suggesting that she tried to pressure a not-for-profit group to contribute to the mayor’s campaign. Rep. Brandenburg has filed legal motions to keep the grand jurors’ references about her secret.

Perhaps the more titillating part of Mr. James’ comment is that talking about ethical reform might somehow “trigger further investigation” by the current grand jury. Keith James, chairman of the city’s ethics task force, said the grand jury misunderstood the West Palm Beach ethics panel’s job. “We are a temporary task force created to give our recommendations and then be disbanded,” he said. He said the task force may recommend the creation of a permanent ethics board.

(Palm Beach Post, September 2, 2007)
(Palm Beach Post, February 3, 2007)

So what s the outcome when people forget the past?  We elected him a City Commissioner and Mayor of West Palm Beach so he can form new committee’s that go nowhere.

City of WPB Falsifies Documents

10/5/2020 I attended the City Commission meeting and was interested in item #9. It reads.

Resolution No. 220-20 finding that city owned property located at 8111 South Dixie Highway is not needed for City purposes, declaring the property surplus ,and providing the method of disposition.
Commission District: The subject property is located within Commission District No.5: Commissioner Christine Lambert.

Below you will find a video and if you have no desire to listen to the entire meeting you can forward the clock to 1.25.28 when Commissioner Lambert states “I have emails and texts and phone calls from a number of residents in my district who want to see this move forward.”  Mayor James stated at the same meeting this land belonged to all residents of the city not just the south end.  I couldn’t agree more but what the city does with the land wont effect me or the people out west or in the northend. It will effect the people who live and pay taxes and vote in the south end. I’m looking at educated people with not 1 ounce of common sense.

Hear meeting below:

https://youtu.be/U3ndf0hcc_g

I wanted to read these emails from a “number of residents” and placed a PRR (Public Records Request) for emails only.

10/7/2020 My request reads: I am requesting to view all of Commissioner Lamberts email concerning the 8111 Dixie Hwy. that was discussed at the City Commission meeting held on 10/5/2020. I want the emails that were both for and against the project. Thank you in advance for your help. Please acknowledge request received.

10/13/2020 “The estimated or final invoice is attached. Please pay the amount due (Deposit Due or Balance Due)
If the invoice is an estimate, pay the deposit due (50% of estimated total) to proceed with the record search. The records are not collected until the deposit is paid. Then, the remaining charges must be paid before the records are released. The total actual charges may change the final invoice.”

10/16/2020 Total charge of the invoice $16.25. I choose not to pay a deposit but the entire invoice. Note how much the city charges residents per hour for records. Unbelievable! See the invoice below
invoice Lamberts email

Now I wait for the records, and told my request was forwarded to the IT (Information technology) dept.

10/19/2020 Below is the final response from the city.

Dear Sandy Matkivich,
RE: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST of October 07, 2020, Reference # R006665-100720
“The City of West Palm Beach received a public records request from you on October 07, 2020. Your request mentioned:

“I am requesting to view all of Commission Lambert’s email concerning the 8111 Dixie Hwy. that was discussed at the City Commission Meeting held on 10/5/2020. I want the emails that were both for and against the project.
Thank you in advance for your help. Please acknowledge request received.
Sandy Matkivich”

This email is to notify you that no records exist. Your request has been closed.
If you have any questions, please contact my office. Thank you for your attention.

Once again I have paid the invoice and received no records, or had them heavily redacted or received a response from a previous Administrator stating his salary was 1/2 of his actually salary.

10/21/2020 Sandy’s final response to the city.
Mayor James, City Administrator Faye Johnson, City Attorney Kim Rothenburg, City Clerk Hazeline Carson. Consider this a PRR for Commissioner Lamberts emails she received concerning 8111 So. Dixie Highway she claims to have received at the City Commission meeting held on 10/5/2020.

It would be a waste of time to contact the OIG (Office of the Inspector General) or the PBC COE (PBC Commission on Ethics) 2 useless forms of appointed officials. I am considering contacting Attorney Sid Garcia and suing the city, but the taxpayers would carry the cost but if the city leaves me no choice, then I don’t have a choice.

 

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