WPB Rents City Owned Property

City Commission Meeting held on 5/28/2024 below the agenda reads in part.

9.1. “Resolution No. 115-24 approving a Lease Agreement with Esperanza Community Center to lease City-owned property located at 723 39th Street.”

Originating Department:
Housing and Community Development

Background Information:

“The City of West Palm Beach received an application from Esperanza Community Center requesting to lease City-owned property located at 723 39th Street.

The Esperanza Community Center provides services and programs to empower families, primarily residing in the Northwood area of the City, to thrive by developing life skills. The agency offers a safe space for the community to receive information and services, including English as a second language, adult literacy and computer classes, health outreach and education, pro-bono legal services, health outreach and education, family programming, cultural events, and a food pantry.”

The Esperanza Community Center serves over 280 individuals, and over 150 children benefit monthly from baby diaper distribution and babysitting programs. The agency estimates that it will serve an estimated 3,103 duplicated beneficiaries per year. In accordance with the City’s Real Property Lease Management Policy adopted by Ordinance No. 4868-19, the property meets the criteria to be considered for leasing, as the property is not required for current municipal use, and the property can be efficiently utilized by a non-profit provider of housing, human, and social services.

Lease of 723 39th Street for a term of five (5) years; Base rent for Year 1 is $15.00 per square foot (2,745 square feet) or $1,200.00 (35% of market rate price) per month/$14,400.00 annually. To allow Esperanza Community Center to relocate and establish operations in the new space, rent payments are set to begin four (4) months after the effective lease date; Three percent (3%) annual increase for Years 2-5 as follows:

Year 2: $1,236.00 monthly / $14,832.00 annually

Year 3: $1,273.00 monthly / $15,276.00 annually

Year 4: $1,312.00 monthly / $15,744.00 annually

Year 5: $1,351.00 monthly /$16,212.00 annually

The funds shall be deposited in the City’s Real Estate Management Fund. 1″

Are you aware the City, that would be you & me, also own property at 401 No. Flagler Dr; since the 80’s and according to the PBC Property Appraiser has a Total Market Value of $17,643,577, and the city has rented the building to the Chamber of Commerce for $1.00/ annually. Why would the city give a great deal to the Chamber of Commerce, and not to Esperanza Community Center, who appear to be doing a great service to the most in need?

Rentals are out of control and many decent, hardworking people, with jobs and children find themselves living in their cars because they can no longer afford to pay their greedy landlords rent demand. In my opinion the city of WPB have joined the greedy landlords lead by James & Johnson with the help of the Cornerstone 5 City Commissioners.

Could the Chamber of Commerce possibly donate money through PACs to politicians. Clink the link below to see how many millions they donate and why government, large and small take such good care of them.

Now I’m assuming the rent from Chamber will be deposited into City’s Real Estate Management Fund. 1.
Esperanza Community Center $14,400.00 annually
Chamber of Commerce $1.00 annually for a total of
$14,401.00

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/us-chamber-of-commerce/summary?id=D000019798

Entire agenda for City Commission meeting held 5/28/2024 below

City Commission – May 28 2024 – Agenda – Pdf

The end!

Recap on Mayor & City Commissioners raises

Below is what City Administrator Faye Johnson reported to the City Commissioners to insure their vote for the raises.

“On Monday night, commissioners gave preliminary approval to a recommendation from the city staff that their pay be increased by just under 32% to $46,112 per year from their current pay of $35,000. The mayor’s annual pay would also rise by about 32%, to $197,625 from its current $150,000.”

“City Administrator Faye Johnson made an extensive presentation on the finances of the proposed pay increases. The goal, she said, is to put elected official pay in West Palm Beach back on par with the compensation of counterparts in Orlando, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville.

Below is what she didn’t bother to tell them.

Orlando Population 316,081 (2022)
St. Petersburg Population 261,256 (2022)
Jacksonville Population 971,319 (2022)
West Palm Beach Population 120,932 (2022)

Lets see how City employees did not prosper under Mayor James and City Administrator Faye Johnson.

Contracts for City Employees SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and Managers & Supervisor PMSA (Professional Managers & Supervisors Association)

City negotiates with both employee unions. Contracts covering 3 years. 2021, 2022 and 2023.

2021 Employees received a 3% cost of living raise.
2022 Employees received a 5% cost of living raise.
2023 Employees received a 5% cost of living raise.
Medical and Dental plan. Rates rose by 3%.
2021 thru 2023 The employee and city each pay 1/2 the cost of the plan. For the three years the city absorbed the entire cost.

New contract to run from October 2024 to Sept. 30, 2026.
Employees to receive 7% pay increase.

Medical insurance plan will rise by 6.6%, Dental will rise by 5%. City and employee return to shared expense. That increase will take a bite out of employees 7% raise.

Sept. 2024 The city will negotiate another 3-year contract with the police and fire department. I Attended both negotiations in 2020 when Johnson was in charge of the negotiations after the city’s financial advisor, Mark Parks, who had the responsibility of the negotiations was fired by Johnson. Power struggle where Mr. Parks, first responders and residents lost.

“Where would the money for pay raises come from?”

“Johnson emphasized that money for the pay raises would not be pulled from property tax revenue. Instead, she said, it would come from $719,500 in additional shared state revenue the city learned it would receive near the end of last year’s budget process.”

That explains where the money will come from to cover their massive pay raises in 2024. Where will the money come from in the future to pay these part time elected officials? My guess is burden will be placed on homeowners when elected officials raise our property taxes.

If you read this far you are aware city employees never received raises in double digits numbers.

The City Commission will vote for the raise on Tuesday, 5/28/2024. Your absence and silence mean acceptance.

The End

 

 

 

WPB Elected Officials Want Massive Pay Raise.

City Commission Meeting held 5/13/2024 was attended by Wayne Washington, reporter for the PB Post who wrote an excellent story on an item on the agenda, pay raises for the mayor and 5 City Commissioners. Below are excerpts from the story and below the link. My comments in italic.

“West Palm Beach commissioners, mayor in line for massive pay raises”

“West Palm Beach City Commission members are expected to decide this month whether to sharply increase their pay and that of the mayor.
On Monday night, commissioners gave preliminary approval to a recommendation from the city staff that their pay be increased by just under 32% to $46,112 per year from their current pay of $35,000. The mayor’s annual pay would also rise by about 32%, to $197,625 from its current $150,000.”

“The city’s elected officials now face the prospect of raising their own pay at a time when housing costs and inflation are biting household budgets.”

More families are living on the street due to high cost of rent and it’s not getting better. If fact WPB Mayor James and Fl. Gov DeSantis are passing laws on ways to criminalize and punish the homeless.

“With James term-limited, some commissioners are contemplating a run to succeed him, and that could factor into how they vote when the topic comes up for final consideration May 28. The raises would go into effect on the next pay period after final approval.”

“Obviously, this is not a comfortable conversation for any of us on the dais to talk about increasing the salary of those of us who sit here, though I don’t think it’s inappropriate,” James said. “We have looked after our residents. We have looked out for our employees.”

It is absolutely inappropriate to consider giving yourself pay raises while claiming you look after residents and city employees. Elected officials do neither. You do take excellent care of each other.

“How does West Palm Beach commission pay rank with comparable cities?”

“City Administrator Faye Johnson made an extensive presentation on the finances of the proposed pay increases. The goal, she said, is to put elected official pay in West Palm Beach back on par with the compensation of counterparts in Orlando, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville.
We are significantly lagging in terms of meeting the goal to stay on par with those municipalities,” she said.

Time to Google the three cities for info. Now ask yourself if she lied by omission. I vote yes.
Orlando Population            316,081 (2022)
St. Petersburg Population 261,256 (2022)
Jacksonville Population     971,319 (2022)
WPB Population                120,932 (2022)

Commissioners and Mayor pay raises

$46,112 x 5 = $230,560

            Mayor $197,625
——————————-
                    $428,185/year
President of the US annual salary $400,000.00/year

“Commissioners’ jobs are, technically, part-time. In reality, the jobs are time-consuming and can be mentally draining. Preparation and review for meetings take hours, as do the meetings themselves. And then there are the public gatherings where their attendance is expected.” Are you aware City Commissioners, City Administrator, Faye Johnson each receive $500/month for a gas allowance on top of their salary.

$500/month = $6,000 yr. x 6 people= $36,000. Does anyone believe they use $500 a month for traveling to public gatherings?  I don’t!

James does not receive a gas allowance. He chooses a brand-new SUV we paid for along with his auto insurance, not to mention we pay for his driver/bodyguard, a job he created soon after being sworn in. When James travels he brings him along, so taxpayers pick up the mayor’s and bodyguard expenses. Last time I checked he was earning over $100K

“We all up here on this dais work very hard,” James said. “There are people who would say, if we gave ourselves a dollar raise, we don’t deserve it. I believe that we deserve at least to be shielded from the impact of inflation over the last eight years.”

James the public has been living with the impact of inflation also, and still living with it. City employees are also still living with it. You work damn hard for the residents of the Bristol, where millionaires and billionaires reside, you all work extremely hard for the developers, and movers and shakers, you do nothing for the residents. People living in their car with their kids because they couldn’t pay rent to greedy landlords. James has treated the homeless with a feeling of strong dislike or disapproval of someone he think does not deserve respect. His contempt for them is obvious. The silence of the city commissioners on the homeless problem is deafening. It’s obvious to me they are in lockstep with James. The rainy season is about to begin and it brings strong thunderstorms and lightning. James has had “No Trespassing” signs placed in all city garages. No rest for the weary.

Where would the money for pay raises come from?

“Johnson emphasized that money for the pay raises would not be pulled from property tax revenue. Instead, she said, it would come from $719,500 in additional shared state revenue the city learned it would receive near the end of last year’s budget process.”

So, after this year the raises would come from our tax dollars. Guess you’ll have to raise the property taxes to meet your salary increases.

“The Palm Beach Post received a tip during budget discussions last year that the city was contemplating pay increases for elected officials and asked in an Aug. 31 email to Diane Papadakos, the city’s director of communications, if “the proposed budget includes increases are for the commission and the mayor?”
Papadakos’ responded, “I believe that the current budget only includes salary increases for staff, not elected officials.”

Good planning, give the employees a small raise, so next year we can say we took care of them and it’s fair to ask for an astronomical raise for ourselves.

“Johnson said she should have been reviewing the pay of elected officials each year, as the charter directs.”

Ms. Johnson, why don’t you mention the Charter also reads the City Administrator, (you) MUST reside within city limits. You have always resided in unincorporated Palm Beach County where you receive protection from PBC Sheriff and PBC Fire. I don’t believe you had an issue with the city’s contaminated water supply as you use PBC water.  Two Commissioners Warren and Fox were quoted by the post.

“Commissioner Christy Fox lamented the prospect of having to vote for a large pay increase instead of having received the far more modest cost-of-living increases given to staff over the last eight years.
Fox said she will look to hear from constituents now that the pay package has gotten preliminary approval.”

Commissioner Fox, thank you for your commonsense response. Commissioner Warren I had high hopes for you. We received pennies in tax cuts, and our employees received a cost-of-living raise. Are you aware the day James was sworn in over 200 employees resigned and the remaining employees were made to pick up the slack without a pay raise. Everyone suffered except Johnson whose paycheck doubled and she earns more than Ms. Baker, the County Administrator who has been employed by the county for more than 30 years.

Obviously, no response from Lambert, Ward or Peduzzi. Read the PB Post story below. 

“That drew a response from James, who said he hoped she wouldn’t conduct a poll on the topic.”
“Some decisions just have to be made on data and not on public opinion,” he said”

James, what happened to “We want to hear from you?” You want commissioners to vote on skewed data from your City Administrator? City Commissioners want to run for the mayor’s office, Please God, not again.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/local/westpb/2024/05/16/west-palm-beach-commissioners-mayor-contemplate-big-pay-raises/73687967007/

The end

Mr. Pefley, Please Don’t Give Up!

This story calls for a walk down memory lane. I invite you to come along.

Mayor’s Office of Communication reads in part.

“The mission of the City’s Office of Communications & Marketing in the Office of Mayor Keith A. James is to ensure that the media, citizens and city employees have access to accurate, timely information from the City of West Palm Beach.”

Mayor Geri Muoio picks TV reporter Kathleen Walter as a spokeswoman for West Palm Beach in Dec. 2016.

Kathleen Walter continued as WPB spokeswoman under Mayor Keith James and dealt with issues below.

As of last week, though, city spokeswoman Kathleen Walter confirmed that the no-bid contract remains in effect. PSC will continue to handle…

WPB has fired a top information technology manager for smoking marijuana — even though he been authorized by his doctor to use it legally for medical reasons. WPB has 11 marijuana dispensaries.    All legal.

WPB Florida is blasting ‘Baby Shark’ overnight to keep homeless people from sleeping in parks.

Graphic photo scandal linked to West Palm contractor of controversial $7.9 million no-bid PSC contract.

Police Chief Admits Tear Gas Was Used on West Palm Beach residents

Residents of West Palm Beach were not notified their drinking water was contaminated for 8 days.

Henrietta farms, a community garden, located in an area of WPB known as a food desert was closed when Mayor Keith James decided not to renew the lease.

The story told to me was Kathleen Walter had enough. She walked into Mayor Keith James office and placed an envelope on his desk. He looked up and smiled at her asking “what’s this Kathleen?” Her reply, “My resignation, effective immediately.”

WPB needed a new spokesperson and James chose Diane Papadakos as the city’s Director of Communications.

Channel 12 Al Pefley is following, asking questions and reporting on the homeless situation and he has written another excellent story on Wed, May 8th, 2024. (link below) Some of the highlights are:

“Mayor James received the Housing Heroes Award from the Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County for supporting the creation of affordable housing in the city.” What is the Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County thinking of? Of all the people they could have honored, they pick James? Seriously, James for “supporting the creation of affordable housing” the man that declared war on the homeless. Meaningless honor.

Diane Papadakos accompanied the mayor and did her best to try and keep Al Pefley away from his majesty going as far as to contact the security staff at the Kravis Center and had Mr. Pefley removed. At one point she pushed his hand holding the microphone away. Could that be considered assault and battery? Shame on Ms. Papadakos and the security office that removed him and shame to the Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County.

Dear Ms. Papadakos,

I read the story and watched channel 12 video, and honestly to me you appeared apprehensive while dealing with Mr. Pefley, almost panicky. fearful and afraid. James can do that to a person when you realize he holds your job in the palm of his hand.

It’s please him or else. Ask people who have done something to anger or upset the man, people like Jason McCarty, Jeff Greene, Jose Tagle, Mark Parks, Phyllis Brooks and many other employees who in my opinion made City Hall a better place.

Take care of yourself and realize you may be one paycheck away from homelessness.

“WATCH: West Palm Beach mayor ignores questions homelessness problem – again”

“CBS12 News was invited to cover the 2nd Annual Housing Heroes Luncheon at the Kravis Center Wednesday, where Mayor James received the Housing Heroes Award from the Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County for supporting the creation of affordable housing in the city.”
Please take the few minutes it takes to watch Mr. Pefley’s interaction with James and Ms. Papadakos.

https://cbs12.com/news/local/mayor-ignores-questions-about-how-hes-addressing-homeless-problemwb#

The end!

 

 

WPB Donates Money & Changes the City Charter

“All items listed under the consent calendar are considered routine and will be enacted by one motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items.”

7.2. “Resolution No. 48-24 approving a donation in the amount of $7,315 by the West Palm Beach Police Department of forfeited property seized during a criminal investigation to the not-for-profit 501C3 organization Little Smiles Inc.

At the direction and with the authority of the Chief of Police, the WPBPD seeks to donate the below-listed items with the final approval by the City Commission to the not-for-profit organization Little Smiles Inc. The authorization is for donating forfeited personal property (jewelry) seized during a criminal investigation (Case # 2022-0017531) conducted by the WPBPD – Special Investigations Division (SID). The WPBPD has an ongoing philanthropic relationship with Little Smiles Inc, a community-based organization whose organizational mission is to assist children during times of illness, homelessness, and tragedy.”

Above is information on a donation the city will make to Little Smiles who I am told does an excellent job with very young children. Below is Little Smiles 990 report and it shows they have net assets of $1,449,481. Appears solid to me. I recently published a story titled “Goodby Pal” and it can be found below if you missed it the first time. I would suggest the $7,315 be donated to the Pal program which City Administrator Faye Johnson, and Mayor Keith James cut from the city bubget in 2019 and left young men of color with no football to keep them busy and off the streets. The “Rams” football team desperately need equipment and City Commissioners have the power to discuss the item. Will they? I’m betting they will not.

Little Smiles 990 Filed on Sept. 19, 2023.
2022 Revenue $830,841 Expenses $783,002
Net Income $47,839 Net Assets $1,449,481
Assets/Debt
Total Assets $1,467,666
Total Liabilities $18,185
Net Assets $1,449,481

https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/650963754

Two other items on the agenda are below. 9.1 gives the mayor more power and abolishes the Traffic Calming Advisory Committee. My opinion, someone on the committee has upset the king mayor and they must leave his kingdom city. This administration has changed the City Charter, so I barely recognize it.

9.1. Public Hearing and First Reading of Ordinance No. 5094-24 amending the code of ordinances at Chapter 86 (Traffic and Parking) to add new definitions, amend the penalty provision, provide authority to the Mayor; to regulate construction management plans, parking permits for new developments and residences and traffic calming; to abolish the Traffic Calming Advisory Committee and to further regulate traffic calming.

9.2. Public Hearing and First Reading of Ordinance No. 5098-24 amending and restating the Code of Ordinances of the City of West Palm Beach, Chapter 58 “Parks and Recreational Facilities and amending Chapter 78 “Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places” Article XVI “Public Places”, insections 78-466 and 78-467.

CC meeting 4/15/2023 Final Agenda

http://www.wpb.org/home/showpublisheddocument/7270/638485171201504211

WPB Watch Goodbye PAL Published March 3, 2024

https://wpbwatch.com/2024/03/goodbye-pal/

The end

The 3/19/2024 election & Cornerstone Solutions

This story is important, and I ask readers who voted to read the story and the link below written by the Miami Independent.  Here are the voting results.

Should a candidate running for office in West Palm Beach be required to live in the city 12 months prior to the election date, instead of the current 6-month prerequisite.

Yes       7,666            80.5%
No        1,853            19.5%                   TOTAL VOTES    9,519

Should the Mayor be prohibited from seeking outside employment and limit holding a financial interest in any business?
Yes       6,886            72.4%
No       2,624             27.6%                    TOTAL VOTES   9,510

Christina Lambert       6,872
Matthew Luciano         2,640               TOTAL VOTES 9,512

I was not shocked by the results of our recent elections, and with less than 10,000 people voting I made a call to the PBC Supervisor of Elections office on 3/20/2024 with one question. How many Registered voters in West Palm Beach, Fl? Nine minutes later and being placed on hold twice I was advised to travel to the PBC library for the information I requested. Maybe I should have called Rick Asnani of Cornerstone Solutions for the information I wanted.

Please take the time to read the shocking story below.

The Miami Independent: Published September 21, 2023, and states an investigation is warranted for the relationship between Rick Asnani of Cornerstone Solutions and the PBC Supervisor of Elections, Wendy Sartory Link.  I agree.

“A Highly Partisan Democrat Political Consulting Firm Is Deeply Embedded In The Palm Beach County Supervisor Of Elections”
I published their story concerning Cornerstone Solutions and the PBC Supervisor of Elections. Read the story below published by WPB Watch 10/16/2023 for access to the Miami story. This definitely doesn’t pass the smell test.

https://wpbwatch.com/2023/10/cornerstone-solutions-and-pbc-supervisor-of-elections/

Southridge See the Problem?

When I think things couldn’t get worse for the residents of WPB I find myself surprised once again.

WPB Government, under the guidance of Mayor Keith James is at it again with the help of his minions, better known as the Cornerstone five. and now the city is focused on the Hispanic Community.

Southridge West Palm Beach Housing Authority:

“Southridge located at 3801 Georgia Avenue was built in 1941 is a designated elderly development that contains 148 units and is located on a 12.5 acre site convenient to shopping, public transportation and medical facilities. A variety of health, social and related support services are provided to the elderly residents.”

https://www.wpbha.org/housing/public_housing/south_ridge.php

July 31, 2009 by Ken Steinhoff

“Southridge, one of West Palm Beach’s oldest public housing projects is exactly half-way between my home and the newspaper where I worked for 35 years. It’s also just across the street from the old carriage house I wrote about in May. Both of them are in the shadow of the Southern Blvd. FEC Railroad overpass.
The population of Southridge appears to have become more diversified over the years. When I rode through there last night, I’d say that a large number of the residents are Hispanic, which reflects the overall neighborhood makeup.
Southridge has strong sense of community”

http://www.palmbeachbiketours.com/stimulus-project-fdr-style/

Palm Beach Post June 6, 2022
“Senior housing bid raises questions”
“Am I understanding this correctly? There are 148 low-income senior housing units occupying a complex on Georgia Avenue. The city (of West Palm Beach) has agreed to pay $640,000, which with low-income housing federal tax credits and a mortgage, will allow a developer to spend $35 million to tear down and replace the units with 150 units.
One way to think about this is that two low-income senior housing units are being added for $17.5 million apiece, and the government covers the cost to house people who are displaced until the new housing is ready. The proposed four-story complex frees up space for the developer to insert 200 more units, some for affordable and workforce housing. That’s a separate deal which will likely take in more tax dollars and tax incentives.”

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/opinion/2022/06/06/west-palm-beach-plans-senior-housing-complex-raises-questions/9987300002/

I was told the story of the Hispanic community living in the Southridge community and what they were experiencing under the James administration, and I wanted to see and hear for myself what was going on. A friend, who speaks Spanish agreed to accompany and interpret for me. Here’s what I found.

I met two senior citizens; one was 77 and the other 87 years of age. I won’t use their names because I am afraid they will be retaliated against.

Here’s what I learned.

Both seniors receive Social Security monthly and told me one received $958.00 and the other $1,040 a month.

Both receive numerous letters from the city, and I was shown the documents which I had no problem reading because they were in English, and they had no idea what information the city was sending them because they can’t read English. See the problem?

They were told they are going to be moved. They don’t know when or where. See the problem?

They will be given a $900.00 voucher to move elsewhere. See the problem?

The city has moved 5 senior citizens, who are ill to a new location within the past month. They walked with me and pointed out the apartments which were in darkness. They can’t visit with their friends because their whereabouts are unknown. See the problem?

Hopefully you read the PB post story and recall the quote “the government covers the cost to house people who are displaced until the new housing is ready;” Where the hell are people going to be moved to and how long until the new housing is ready? the city doesn’t have affordable housing for working class people let alone senior citizens living on Social Security. Are we looking at more homeless people living on the streets? See the problem?

The 87-year-old resident invited me into her home and the place was spotless. It has 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, living room, eat in kitchen and bathroom with a walk-in shower. The floors were hardwood, the walls painted, and she has lived there for 5 years, and claims she has everything she needs and very happy surrounded by her friends.

The West Palm Beach Housing Authority pay for water, gas, electricity and security. Each apt. has a gas stove and refrigerator. Furniture belongs to the tenant.

There is a security guard who they no longer see walking the area. Both admitted they get nervous when they see strangers or young people in the neighborhood.

They received notice that in the future they will be paying their own electric bills.

Seniors are told the buildings are old and they are replacing them with brand new ones, and they will be welcomed back when construction is over. These homes were built during WW2 and stood strong during hurricanes and other natural disasters. These were built back in the day when construction was done and done right. Remember the Champlain Towers built in 1981 and collapsed in 2021. Owners were not aware the building would collapse in 40 years.

Commissioner Christina Lambert, I have heard you tell people you are proud of your Hispanic heritage, as well you should be. Are you going to represent the Southridge residents and be a voice for them?

The Hispanic residents of Southridge are in trouble. You really should visit and talk to them. They will invite you into their home to see for yourself what they have.
I understand you don’t speak Spanish, so you also will need an interpreter.

Do you have any idea how stressful it will be for a 77- and 87-year-old to move– twice? Commissioner lambert do you see the problem, do you care?

The end

 

 

 

Goodbye PAL

PAL History (Police Athletic league)

“SFAPAL, Inc. was formed in 1983 by 5 local PAL chapters, Jacksonville, Kissimmee, Miami Beach, St. Petersburg and Tampa. The Police Officers involved had a goal of developing PAL Programs in every city and county in Florida, so youth would have an opportunity to know Police Officers and Police Officers have an opportunity to understand youth. By using athletic and education based programs during after school and weekend hours, police officers working with youth have decreased the amount of free time youth have available for negative activities.”

The City of WPB allocated $100,000.00 a year to the Pal program to pay for equipment, uniforms, transportation and other expenses. My opinion, money well spent.

https://sfapal.com/florida-pal-history.php

4/4, 2019    Keith James sworn in as mayor of WPB and a few months later the PAL program lost its city funding, and the program was in trouble and near an end.

9/1/2019 Below are excerpts from the PB Post. Entire story can be read below.

“Palm Beach Rams Pop Warner football program saved by community.”

“For over 15 years, the West Palm Beach youth football teams supported the community around them. When told they’d no longer receive funding from the Police Athletic League after last year, it was the community’s turn to support the team.

Last Saturday, the newly named Palm Beach Rams played their first games of the season in five Pop Warner divisions, donning Los Angeles Rams-style helmets and jerseys — all paid in full by the coaches, players, and kind souls of the surrounding area.

Mr. Murdock and vice president Corey Tate are both veteran coaches of the West Palm Beach youth football scene. These kids have nothing if they don’t have football,” Murdock said. “If we hadn’t picked it up, they wouldn’t have had no program down here. And I couldn’t see not having a football program in West Palm. I couldn’t see it.”

Claudine McFarlane, who does the paperwork for the Rams, spoke on what all of this means for the kids and the program.

“Our kids in West Palm Beach — a lot of them don’t really have anything constructive to do,” McFarlane said. “And with all of the violence that’s going on in our neighborhood, I just think it’s a great thing that our kids can come together and play football, do something constructive, cheer lead, mentor and tutor, a lot of things some of them don’t have to help them move forward in what they need to do in life.”

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/sports/high-school/football/2019/09/01/palm-beach-rams-pop-warner-football-program-saved-by-community/4157949007/

I met with Rams president Donovan Murdock and Vice President Corey Tate and learned the city sold the helmets, shoulder guards and training pants to them for $2,000.00 and I also learned the helmets must be inspected every 2 years. When the inspection took place most of the helmets had seen better days and would not protect the small heads that wore them. The cost of a new helmet at the time was $125.00/ea. How badly did the city need the $2,000 Mr. Mayor? Why were the kids left stranded after practice and left parents scrambling to pick them up, Mr. Mayor?

February 16th, 2024  Channel 12 

“Local apartment director and police rally for change in violence-hit community.”
“Andrea Stonom is the regional director of Lake Mangonia Apartment Complex, an area that many describe as a hot spot location of violent crimes.”

“WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Less than ten minutes away from the popular Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach is a community plagued by violence. Drug deals in broad daylight. Deadly shootings with children close to getting caught in the crossfire and no end in sight.” Read the entire story below.

https://cbs12.com/news/local/local-apartment-manager-and-police-rally-for-change-in-violence-hit-community

February 22, 2024  Channel 25 

“Looking for witnesses’: Man shot and killed in West Palm Beach apartment complex”

“Authorities are investigating after a man was shot and killed Wednesday morning at an apartment complex in West Palm Beach. The incident happened at the Lake Mangonia Apartments in the 2100 block of North Australian Avenue. Police say the young man, from Palm Beach County, was dead by the time officers arrived.” Read the entire story below.

https://www.wpbf.com/article/florida-shooting-australian-avenue-west-palm-beach/46886373

The crime in this area of WPB is mainly black- on- black crime and the area has its share of gang activity, shootings, drug trade, murders, rapes and other crimes.

Young men, very young men, are recruited to join the gangs and unfortunately many do.

Young men on the Rams football team had a different choice and it has made a difference in their lives. Kids & cops work and play together until another black-on-black crime occurred in 2019 and their funding was taken away until the community stepped up and now these young men don’t have time for gangs. They are too busy winning trophies. Go Rams!

Finalist Trophy for 8-year-old 2023Treasure Coast Conference 2020.

Finalist Trophy for 8-year-old 2023.

 

 

 

Roundtable Discussion on the Homeless

2/21/2024 I attended the roundtable discussion on the homeless in WPB led by Mayor Keith James. The invited guests, with many years of experience between them, all spoke with passion, knowledge and commitment.

Jeff Demario, CEO of Vita Nova, focuses on mentoring youth, advocating for foster care issues and addressing youth homelessness.

Dr. James Green, Director of PBC Community Services Dept. who spearheaded efforts to address homelessness and poverty,

Dr. Tomara Graham Mays focuses on self-sufficiency, sustainability and breaking barriers for change, and her passionate for serving the vulnerable population.

Shannon Nazworth, is President and CEO of Ability Housing and is committed to equitable housing and she advocates for affordable housing rights.

Dana Stanley, CEO of the Lord’s Place who brings over 20 years’ experience serving the poor and homeless and is an active community leader in WPB.

Allie Severino, is the Social Services Supervisor for the City of WPB. She leads the Homeless Advocacy and response Team (HART).

The six named people above are all dedicated to helping the destitute, the homeless and the underprivileged among us. There is so much more to all of them, and I invite you to Google them and read about people who are passionate about helping others less fortunate.

The meeting took place in the City Library and the room was packed and unfortunately the city meeting wasn’t televised but Al Pefley, reporter for channel 12 was present with cameras rolling, and the story link can be found below.

Mayor James started the conversation by stating how many calls, text and emails complaining about the homeless he and commissioners have received and then states they receive as many stating the city isn’t doing enough to help the homeless among us. Whoever takes the time to notify elected officials, concerning the treatment of the homeless a sincere thank you.

“WPB mayor will look into opening emergency homeless shelter” James said it, but I’m not sure he means it.

One speaker, Shannon Nazworth addressed the money situation, and it was so simple I can’t understand why elected officials didn’t think of it, or maybe they did. Ms. Nazworth offered a solution, and it included developers. Her suggestion was if a developer request a Variance and want to exceed the building height by 10 stories and the city grants it then the developer must build 10 apartments/homes for the homeless. She also mentioned the city can Mandate the order.

Variance: “is a request to deviate from current zoning requirements (land use). If a variance is granted, it allows the owner or land buyer (residential, commercial or industrial) to use the land in a manner not otherwise permitted by the zoning ordinance. Variances are often needed to modify ordinance standards for setbacks, lot coverage, parking, building heights or similar standards.”

Mandate: “a mandate has the same effect as a law. A mandate is an official order.”

Soon after Ms. Nazworth made the above statement James mentioned the city couldn’t afford the construction costs, but he would look into receiving money from the county, state and federal money. Never mentioned contractors who are making millions off the city.
In my opinion construction in WPB is out of control and getting worse. Two developers Jeff Greene and Related have a firm hold on developing the city and are not wasting time changing the skyline of WPB.

Example: Jeff Greene

“One West Palm is a mixed-use complex consisting of two sister towers in West Palm Beach, Florida. The 30-story towers are 426-feet, reaching the tallest height in the city. One tower consists solely of 326 luxury units. Jeff Greene’s condo development requires zoning change from 15 stories to 40 stories” City wouldn’t grant 40 stories, but granted 30 stories instead. If the Mandate was on the books, Mr. Greene would build 30 Apt’s/ homes and possibly relocate the woman with 3 kids living out of her car, who never expected to be homeless until she lost her job or possibly could no longer afford her rent.

Example: Related Cos.

“Both towers, one 21 stories and one 23, will include office and retail space. The taller building, called the east tower, will include a parking garage. with waivers, at 550 South Rosemary Avenue within the CityPlace Commercial Planned Development.” Over the years Related could have solved WPB homeless situation with their request for changes in development.

Al Pefley Thu, February 22nd, 2024   (New story)

“West Palm Beach would need help with emergency homeless shelter, mayor says”

“If law enforcement wants to arrest someone for violating trespass or something, they can’t do it if there aren’t shelter beds available,” he continued. “At least the emergency shelter would be an option that might help us.”

When asked directly if he would pursue an emergency shelter, James indicated he planned to talk to partners across the county, citing The Lord’s Place, as an example.

“The City itself can’t do it,” he added. “But, certainly with the county, I believe they have the funding. Maybe, we can get some funding from the state. I’m happy to have conversations to explore,” Mayor James said.  How about the developers? Can you ask them for help? Ms. Nazworth seems to think so.

https://cbs12.com/news/local/mayor-wpb-keith-james-would-need-help-with-emergency-homeless-shelter-i-cant-wave-a-magic-wand-west-palm-beach-clematis-street-delray-beach-florida-news-february-22-2024#

“Well I’m not sure what they expect the city to do. We just can’t round people up and move them away in vans, okay? I can’t wave a magic wand and make all the homeless people go away. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way,” Mayor James explained. Poor choice of words from city mayor.

“It is a difficult problem. Even if I move them you know, I don’t know how I would, off of Clematis Street, it’s like whack-a-mole. You put ’em in another part of the city, then you’ve got the people in that part of the city complaining,” said Mayor James. Poor choice of words from city mayor, again.

What is the whack-a-mole method?
“Whack – a – Mole Management is a style of managing or leading others where a manager waits for something he or she believes to be wrong to happen, and “whacks” the behavior with words and/or actions.”

February 22nd, 2024, Al Pefley channel 12

https://cbs12.com/news/local/wpb-mayor-will-look-into-opening-an-emergency-homeless-shelter

Change of subject: Voting
When you get to the polls to vote you will be asked to change 2 sections of the City Charter.

(1) INCREASE THE RESIDENCY PERIOD REQUIRED FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS TO RUN FOR OFFICE FROM SIX MONTHS TO TWELVE MONTHS The charter requires a candidate running for mayor to continuously reside in the City and candidates running for city commission to continuously reside in their respective district for the six-month period immediately prior to the date of election. Should the six-month period be increased to a twelve-month period?

(2) PROHIBITING MAYOR’S OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT AND LIMITING BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS
The charter requires the Mayor to devote full time to city duties but does not otherwise limit outside employment or business relationships. Should the charter be amended to prohibit the Mayor from having outside employment and limit holding a financial interest in any business entity to interests that will not impair the Mayor’s independent judgment or conflict with the performance of city duties?

The city is requesting both changes. I will not vote for either. Remember the city changing the charter from Single District Voting to City Wide Elections. The people in Ibis, District 4, choosing my commissioner in District 2. Why? Ibis votes, many in other districts of WPB can’t be bothered to go to the polls.

What are the underlying reasons motivating the mayor to urge citizens to change the city charter, and why hasn’t the mayor publicly disclosed his reasons for pushing for a change?

 

 

Who is Commissioner Lambert

2018. Lambert and James served together as City Commissioners, and I believe a bond was created.

April 2019. James sworn in as WPB Mayor and immediately made changes and raised fees across the board, and City Commissioner Lambert voted approval on every item, every time.

Lambert approved raising the Fire Fee from $50 to $100.00

Lambert voted approval of the new parking fees. “The City of West Palm Beach passed a sweeping parking rate increase, the largest in the history of our city at the commission meeting in March 2022. Despite the parking department showing an annual profit of 2.5 million dollars last year.”

Lambert voted approval for no-bid contract for PSC Security for $8.5 million contract.

Lambert voted approval for the new marina on Flagler where James received $45,000 in contributions made to James campaign ahead of West Palm Beach Marina vote.

Lambert voted for James choice of Mad Room Hospitality over Vita to manage the Sunset Lounge. City was sued, judge told the city negotiate with Vita in good faith. No movement in over a year. James defies Judge’s order. Read the story below.

Lambert voted approval for every new development requested by Related and other developers.

Who is Jeffrey Brophy?

Jeffrey Brophy, senior vice president of The Wantman Group (WGI) owns a home in Andros Isles and rented his home to then City Commissioner Keith James who voted approval of contracts that contained a WGI contract. When questioned, James commented he paid fair market rents, but never produced rent receipts.

Soon after Commissioner Lambert’s election, husband Monte Lambert, was hired as Senior Business Development Manager for WGI.

3/23/2020 City Commissioner Lambert voted to approve 2 items, one on the CRA and the companion item on the City Commission meeting after stating she was told the “City Ethics Officer advised her that there was no financial benefit on this matter to WGI, so she was permitted to vote on the item” No benefit to Monty Lambert. Seriously?
I filed a complaint with the PBC Office of the Inspector General (OIG). I had more faith in the OIG than the COE. Today I have trust in neither the COE nor the OIG both are appointed by the very people they are investigating.

Palm Beach County Commission On Ethics/ Memorandum of Inquiry. 4 Pages, reads in part: Can be found below.

“This matter came to the attention of the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics (COE) after staff received an email referral from the Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General on May 7th. 2020.” Why didn’t the OIG investigate my complaint? Why send it to the COE? Let’s look closer.

Who is on the board of the COE? Peter Cruise is one member. “He is Executive Director of the LeRoy Collins Public Ethics Academy and Affiliate Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University. In March 2018, Dr. Cruise was appointed as a Palm Beach County Ethics Commissioner.” Does he know Commissioner Lambert? I would venture to say yes.

Commissioner Lambert on Peter Cruise lap.     Enjoying a bike ride together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite. Commissioner Lambert on Flagler with husband Monty. Note WGI auto.

Lambert on Flagler with hubby

PALM BEACH COUNTY COMMISSION ON ETHICS LEGAL SUFFICIENCY DETERMINATION: 1 Page
Conclusion
“Based on the facts and circumstances, there is NO LEGAL SUFFICIENCY for an investigation to be conducted into this inquiry. Therefore, this matter is closed, and no further action will be taken.”  read 5 pages below.

file:///C:/Users/sandy/Downloads/AN20-001%20MOI%20and%20LSD.pdf.crdownload

 

In closing Another excellent report from Florida Center for Government Accountability (FLCGA)

“Corrosive” Florida Senate bill will hide public corruption rather than expose it, ethics expert says A top Florida ethics expert is sounding the alarm about an ethics bill passed by the state Senate Thursday that would make it easier for corrupt officials to avoid investigation – and much harder for residents to hold them to account.” Read story below.

https://flcga.org/corrosive-florida-senate-bill-will-hide-public-corruption-rather-than-expose-it-ethics-expert-says/?fbclid=IwAR38obEN02N8nsokfgUXtD6ZJvrMpphNOI7mZxNAQ_9antuKQGhvyZkXbJ0

Basically, warning us public officials continue to circle the wagons in order to protect each other. Who do we turn to for help? How about each other?  There’s more of us than them. Let’s all get together and vote them out of office. If not us who?

PB Post story on the Sunset Lounge.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/local/westpb/2023/04/01/vita-lounge-wins-case-against-west-palm-in-bid-to-manage-sunset-lounge/70057339007/

The end

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