Sunday, April 26, 2009

There but for the grace of the Charette goes the Cove

The Palm Beach Post.Com reports on a shopping center, The Palm Beach Mall, which has been sued for foreclosure.

There are similarities in the mall’s history to our Deerfield Cove Shopping Center (much smaller scale, but similar background) and we can breathe a giant sigh of relief that our city didn’t carry out the proposed plan to raze the center and build a mixed use store-condo development back in 2006.

The West Palm Beach center evicted many of the owners and did not renew the leases of others. The post stated:

“Simon once had grand plans to redevelop the 42-year-old property into a mixed-use center consisting of big-box retailers, furniture store Ikea, restaurants and even homes.”

…’I've been saying it's the next shoe to drop. It's an old saying in real estate development: Commercial follows the roofs. As more residential was built, more commercial, generally office and retail, followed.’"

But since much of the residential growth was fueled by speculation, there weren't really people living in a lot of those homes. And so the retail shops built up around these homes weren't needed.”

Lackey agreed, saying the Palm Beach Mall foreclosure is the first wave of a series of lawsuits that likely will be lobbed against shopping center owners. "This lawsuit is a precursor of things to come," Lackey said.”’


Read the rest of the Post article at http://www.palmbeachpost.com/business/content/business/epaper/2009/04/26/sunbiz_thesource_0426.html

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Deerfield Follies Continued:

Last night’s CRA meeting vote to approve the design work on the Cove Shopping Center sidewalk design assured the businesses and residents that work would go ahead on the parking lot renovation. Many feared that O’Leary’s influence would halt the project, but I guess he has other fish to fry, something like getting the city to build him a parking garage.

The proposal for an RFP for a public/private parking garage in the Cove was tabled, (thanks, Bill Ganz) but not until Sylvia moaned about the Sunshine Law, seems Sylvia prefers to do her deals out of the view of the public, she kept saying don’t talk about that here in public. This after Ganz pushed to know who the “private” is in the public/private deal, where the money would come from, what the parameters are for the RFP, who will head the project from the city side, who will watch the shop so to speak.

Sylvia jumped in, out of turn, several times to stop Bill, and then Popelsky, who was echoing Bill’s concern about who was going to be the watchdog. Marty stated that the last 4 projects in the city were problems and someone should be responsible.

Remember the MOC building; I don’t think it is done yet, years later and how many millions over estimate?

Again Sylvia insisted there be no more talk, just wait to see what the proposals bring in, she insisted that she knew at least 5 developers who would build the garage for free.

WELL GO FOR IT SYLVIA, what do you need the city for if they will build it for free!!!! I’m all for a private builder going in and building the garage on their own. Yes! Yes! Yes!

BUT, guess what Sylvia, use common sense, who would build a 500 space garage (as Mike Mahaney said, $16,500 per space, which without the cost of buying the land would bring it to $8,250,000, add the cost of the land, O’Leary bought it for something like 3.5M, and is, I heard, asking 8M for it) in a center where it would only be filled on Friday nights.

Joe Miller in his first boneheaded move of the evening jumped in before Mahaney could explain his cost figures of $15-16M for the garage and as much as called him a liar, saying he had verbal quotes of half that figure. Sure Joe, Mahaney said, but don’t forget you need land on which to build that garage; your “verbal quotes” were for just the garage. Oops.

Miller says it is a good time to buy land, now we should look into a garage, he says everyone knows we need more parking. (Was the sub text to help good old O’Leary, big campaign donator, out?) No, Joe, everyone does not know we need a garage. Sure, on Friday night it is jammed, but at NO other time during the week is there a time when a space is not available. This week, Monday, lots of spaces, Tuesday, lots of spaces, Wednesday, lots of spaces, Saturday, spaces available, I walked a little to get to where I wanted to go, but still plenty of spaces. Just who will use that garage, and when, oh, right, O’Leary’s restaurant on Friday night. If the garage was a profitable venture, O’Leary would build it himself in a New York minute.

Again Sylvia wanted the talking to stop; she said all this talking in public was making her “Hot as Tucker” (no, I don’t know what that means either) she said the “game is not played that way” and she said to Bill that when he “grows up” he will understand, gee Sylvia, was that a deliberate insult, or an analogy? Either way that was something better said in private not public, or better not at all. Did you hear the gasp from the audience when you as much as called the only Commissioner between us and fiscal disaster a boy.

Boneheaded move #2: Miller says he can make the private property signs on the beach go away in 30 days, do we want to know how. Then he proceeded to read a prepared statement, (who prepared it is the mystery), it was clear it wasn’t Miller as he had a hard time reading it, stumbling over many of the words and figures.

From his votes it looks like he does not do his homework, and here is another case in point. Mr. -no new taxes and save the city money- Miller now wants the city to give Boinis $200,000 of CITY TAXPAYERS’ MONEY for his little spit of sand; this, when we are looking to laying people off due to a shortfall.

Hey, Joe, the city has a contract of sale with Boinis and it CLEARLY states that only grant money will be used to purchase his plot, wait for the next go around, as we were 3rd on the grant list last time, we have a good chance in May. Or, let him sit on his property, which is unusable, until we can ice skate on Lake Okeechobee.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Check out - http://john-degroot.com/

Blog -According to DeGroot -Retired reporter John DeGroot opines from South Florida on subjects that amuse and frustrate the Sunshine State.

"Although he no longer believes that truth will always make a person free, he has seen how truth can make some folks uncomfortable as hell -- which ain't chopped liver in the Big Clown Act called Life."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ethics Training for Deerfield Commissioners

Our newly seated city commissioners are going to have a workshop on the Sunshine Law and State Ethics Law. Will it do any good? Plato didn’t think so.

Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws. - Plato

We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life. – Edwin Markham

If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it. – Marcus Aurelius

Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest. – Mark Twain

When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses. – Shirley Chisholm

Genuine politics -- even politics worthy of the name -- the only politics I am willing to devote myself to -- is simply a matter of serving those around us: serving the community and serving those who will come after us. Its deepest roots are moral because it is a responsibility expressed through action, to and for the whole. – Vaclav Havel

From the Deerfield Beach City web site:

Ethics Workshop - Apr. 30On Thursday, April 30, at 6 PM, the City of Deerfield Beach will hold a workshop to discuss Ethics and The Sunshine Law. This state law training session will take place in the City Commission Chamber at City Hall, 150 NE 2nd Avenue. Interested parties are encouraged to attend. For more information, contact the City Clerk's office at 954-480-4200.

I understand that the commission is going to hear from Norm Ostrau Director of Florida Atlantic University's new Public Ethics Academy. http://www.ethics.state.fl.us/publications/Ostrau_bio.pdf .

The introduction on their website says:
“Public confidence in the integrity of governmental officials and institutions has become an urgent public problem. The case records of the Florida Commission on Ethics indicate that elected officials, appointed officials, civil servants, and contracted employees are all susceptible to ethical breaches”. http://www.fau.edu/spa/pea/index.html

Some Google results on “Norm Ostrau FAU:

FAU academy to probe: What makes public officials go bad?
By KIMBERLY MILLER
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 22, 2009

Palm Beach County's public fraud is now fodder for university study.
Florida Atlantic University opened the Public Ethics Academy this month, motivated by the parade of elected officials who have found themselves recently charged, or imprisoned, for crimes committed in office.

The academy, housed in FAU's School of Public Administration, will research ethics laws, provide ethics training for public officials, develop model legislation, and generally ask the question: "What has made people think the public sector is a place to enrich themselves rather than a place to perform public service?"

"This arose out of alarm with public officials being arrested and put in prison," said Hugh Miller, School of Public Administration director. "We started talking about this a year ago, and it just seems not to have stopped."

Earlier this month, former County Commissioner Mary McCarty was charged with conspiring to defraud the public of her honest services. Her husband, Kevin McCarty, pleaded guilty to failing to report her crimes.

Prosecutors say Mary McCarty failed to disclose her financial interest in bond issues that profited both her and her husband. She is also accused of taking free hotel stays from a developer seeking favorable decisions from the commission.

Her arrest was preceded by those of four local politicians: former County Commissioners Warren Newell and Tony Masilotti, and former West Palm Beach City Commissioners Ray Liberti and Jim Exline.

Miller said corruption in Broward and Miami-Dade counties also contributes to the need for the new academy, which hopes to pay for itself through endowments and money earned from ethics classes.

Norman Ostrau, a former deputy county attorney for Broward County who served on the Florida Elections Commission, is overseeing the academy on a voluntary basis.
"We keep being vexed by people with questions about integrity in government, and every week we see another urgent problem in the newspaper," Miller said. "Maybe we just need a more ethical culture."

At least one local official isn't sure the academy will be able to make a dent in political corruption.
Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County, said unethical behavior is so widespread, it will be hard to curtail.

"I wish them well, but I remain skeptical," Dinerstein said about the academy. "Officials think if they haven't broken the law, they are engaged in acceptable government policy. They don't recognize there is a very wide space of legal but unacceptable practices."

Miller said part of the academy's work will be to conduct training seminars on ethical behavior. People don't always realize they are doing something unethical, he said.

Also, some government offices have ethics policies that contradict each other, or don't know how to write an ethics policy.

Marty Rogol, chairman of the ethics committee for Leadership Palm Beach County, welcomes FAU's new academy.

"From what I've seen in this county, the more the merrier in terms of people getting involved in this issue," Rogol said.

The academy will hold its first event noon to 2 p.m. Feb. 4 in Fort Lauderdale. Speakers will include former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio and FAU Trustees Chairwoman Nancy Blosser. For more information call (954) 762-5140.

From the Sun Sentinel:

FAU creates Public Ethics Academy in wake of political scandals
Members will conduct research and provide training.
By Scott Travis South Florida Sun-Sentinel
February 5, 2009

Fort Lauderdale - As one South Florida politician after another became embroiled in scandal, Florida Atlantic University decided it was time to devote more attention to the study of ethics.So the university's School of Public Administration in Fort Lauderdale created a new Public Ethics Academy, intended to research ethics and provide training for local government agencies.

The academy opened Wednesday with its first seminar, featuring representatives from academia, media and politics at FAU's downtown Fort Lauderdale campus. The academy is receiving its money from training services, including a contract with Hollywood.

In Palm Beach County, three county commissioners, Mary McCarty, Warren Newell and Tony Masilotti, have been arrested or imprisoned in recent years on corruption-related charges.

Broward County has had high-profile corruption allegations, as well, including cases involving former Sheriff Ken Jenne, former Hollywood Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom, former Deerfield Beach Mayor Al Capellini and former Deerfield Beach Commissioner Steve Gonot.

""There is just an absolute need," said Norman Ostrau, a former chairman of the State Ethics Commission and the leader of the new academy.

James Svara, a government ethics professor at Arizona State University, is a guest professor at FAU. Svara said some public officials are ignorant of the rules. Some also rationalize that they deserve kickbacks or that they go with the territory. That is why government bodies should have strong ethics policies, Svara said.

Marco Rubio, former speaker of the Florida House and also a panelist, said one mistake of politicians is protecting themselves only from what is illegal when they also should consider what might look bad.
"Your enemies will use almost anything against you," he said. "I don't think you should do anything you're not willing to put on your campaign material. Don't do anything you wouldn't be proud to brag about."
Staff Writer Anthony Man contributed to this report. Scott Travis can be reached at stravis@SunSentinel.com or 561-243- 6637.


Mike Mayo said:
Ethical politics shouldn't be oxymoron

Michael Mayo
News Columnist
February 5, 2009

I climbed inside an ivory tower Wednesday. The occasion: The opening of Florida Atlantic University's new Public Ethics Academy.

They've got their work cut out for them. With Palm Beach County politicians being hauled off by the wagonload and Broward politicians raising eyebrows with possible conflicts, South Florida's mistrust of elected leaders keeps growing.

For some reason, academy director Norm Ostrau invited me to take part in the first panel discussion. Obviously, they'll let anybody in the joint.

Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio also took part.

He explained some of his missteps in office, like failing to disclose a home equity loan. And he castigated the newest former House speaker, Ray Sansom, for taking a hometown college job, which led him to resign this week.

"It's as much about perception as anything else," Rubio said. "He took the job on the same day he was sworn in as speaker."Any decent politician knows you wait until after you leave office to take the sweetheart local thank-you gig.

Rubio's mantra: "If you wouldn't brag about it, don't do it.

"Law professor Bruce Rogow had simple advice for politicians: "Don't do anything you wouldn't want your worst enemy to know.

"He's not a fan of restrictive ethics rules, saying the ballot box acts as the most effective deterrent.

He has more faith in voters than me. How to explain all the ethically challenged locals who keep winning re-election? Like the Broward commissioner who once voted on a county contract involving a trash hauler while he was a paid lobbyist for the company. Or the Broward commissioner who voted on town grants written by her husband that helped him get a raise and a $15,000 bonus.

Both were fined by the state Ethics Commission. But ethics law is mostly toothless.That leaves it to the federal government, with its broader anti-corruption statutes, to do the heavy lifting. In Palm Beach County, five elected officials have been toppled by a federal probe.

How should Florida be revamped? First, I'd take Maine's big-picture approach. Its ethics law states: "It's not enough that public officers avoid acts of misconduct. They must also scrupulously avoid acts which may create an appearance of misconduct.

"Next, I'd add some consistency. State legislators are allowed to vote when they have conflicts, but local officials aren't. I say anybody with a conflict should abstain.

I'd also like to see other restrictions embraced statewide, like the one Broward voters approved last year. Besides being barred from voting, officials with conflicts now can't advocate or discuss the matter on the dais.

Finally, I'd add prison to the punishment mix. In Massachusetts, public officials who break conflict-of-interest laws face prison. In Florida, conflict violators only face fines, unless criminal "corrupt intent" can be proven.

Ostrau, a former legislator and ex-chairman of the Florida Ethics Commission, also wants changes. He'd like the commission given authority to initiate investigations.

Rubio, mulling bids for U.S. Senate and governor, cut out early. A politician has only so much time for the high-minded talk in ivory towers.

Michael Mayo's column runs Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at mmayo@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4508.


Check out Michael Mayo's blog and see what he has to say on issues ranging from property taxes to Water restrictions at SunSentinel.com/mayoblog
Copyright © 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bend over time

The Deerfield Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)
AKA, the Commission
is meeting next Tuesday, the 21st at 6:00, be there to watch your tax money at work.

First on the agenda: FPL is upping the price for the underground electric service along Hillsboro. Underground wires are fine for esthetics but hard to service if anything goes wrong, and with only a small portion of the wires underground won’t do much to prevent outages, I never could see the sense of this economically, and especially now. But, the job is already underway and FPL knows a sucker when it sees one.

Next is the item for the sidewalks in the Cove Shopping center. Half the width of the walks is owned by the city and half by the stores. It would look ludicrous to only use pavers on the city half, and would create a step up or down which would be a safety hazard, so let’s plan on doing them all.

NOW WE HAVE THE down and dirty. A public-private parking garage RFP!!!!!
(A request for proposal (referred to as RFP) is an invitation for suppliers, often through a bidding process, to submit a proposal on a specific commodity or service.)

I’m going to take a giant leap (OK, a short baby step) and guess that this is for the O’Leary property in the Cove Shopping Center.

O’Leary is smart enough to know that a garage will not be profitable there; it will only be used when ALL of the ground spots are taken, and that is only on a few weekend evenings in the season and on holidays like Founder’s Day, but he wants it for those weekends for his new restaurant.

This is a shake hands, count your fingers afterwards proposal. Guess who will get stuck with the bill. Yup, right, the beleaguered Deerfield Beach Tax payers.

If you want to know who is buddies with O’Leary, wait for the vote and count One, Two, and yes Three (why Three, follow the money?)

OUCH!! Did any of the commissioners ask the residents (representative government, the will of the people, we elected you to do what WE want, not to line you and your friends' pockets) if they want to pay $15,000,000, yes that is 15 very large millions, to help a new restaurant make more money?

Nope, I didn’t think so. FIFTEEN MILLION, before the cost overruns and the FPL extras.

This is outrage time people, phone your commissioner, phone the mayor, email city hall, tell them you don't have a spare 15M, so let O'leary build it himself, or skip it.

I don't have the new emails yet but you can send one to web.clerk@deerfield-beach.com and ask that the commissioners and the mayor receive a copy.

What a treat!

Shock and awe: This church lady can sing

Frumpy 47-year-old stuns 'Idol' judge, catapults to sudden global celebrity
Posted: April 14, 20092:01 pm Eastern
By Drew Zahn© 2009 WorldNetDaily


Simon Cowell, the British-accented and sometimes condescending talent judge of television's mega-hit program "American Idol," was stunned by the singing of a 47-year-old church volunteer who claims she's never been kissed but whose amazing performance has catapulted her to sudden celebrity.

Click here: YouTube - Susan Boyle - Singer - Britains Got Talent 2009

Cowell also serves as a talent judge across the Atlantic on "Britain's Got Talent," a singing competition similar to "American Idol."

When contestant Susan Boyle, who lives alone with her cat and claims she's never even been on a date, walked onto the "Britain's Got Talent" stage Saturday night, her double chin, frumpy appearance and gray hair elicited snickers and rolled eyes from the crowd, accustomed to the show's producers parading less-than-glamorous singers – like Boyle – as comic relief.
But when Boyle opened her mouth to sing, Cowell, the mocking audience and the nation's television viewers were shocked.

Singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables," a song about a hard-luck woman whose years of misfortune have stolen both her youth and her dreams, Boyle brought the audience to tears and prompted a standing ovation.

The judges were no less gushing in their praise.

"Without a doubt, that was the biggest surprise I have had in three years of this show," said talent judge Piers Morgan. Addressing Boyle, he added, "When you stood there with that cheeky grin … everyone was laughing at you. No one is laughing now; that was stunning. … I am reeling from shock."

The lovely talent judge Amanda Holden saw in Boyle's performance an admonition against a culture that too often judges people by their appearance.

"I am so thrilled, because I know that everybody was against you," Holden told Boyle. "I honestly think that we were all being very cynical, and I think that's the biggest wake-up call ever."

"I've always wanted to perform before a large audience," said Boyle before she had her opportunity on stage. "I'm going to make that audience rock."

Boyle got her wish and delivered on her promise.

And her "large audience" is expanding. Her performance, uploaded to the video site YouTube, has logged over 3 million hits over the last three days, and the London Telegraph reports Boyle is now the favorite to win the competition.

Before Boyle sang, Cowell asked her – likely in parallel to her planned song, "I Dreamed a Dream" – what her dream was.

She answered, "I'm trying to be a professional singer."

"And why hasn't it worked out so far?" Cowell asked.

"I've never been given the chance before," she said. "But here's hoping it'll change."
And if history holds, it likely will. "American Idol" has produced some of the world's top-selling recording artists over the past several years. The 2007 winner of "Britain's Got Talent," a mobile phone salesman named Paul Potts, experienced similar success, notching a No. 1 album in 15 countries around the world.

"Susan Boyle," concluded Cowell after her performance, announcing the decision of the three-judge panel, "you can go back to the village with your head held high. It's three yeses."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sister city having similar problems

The Editorial below is from a new kid on the block, “The Paddle” in Coconut Creek. Seems they are having similar problems to DFB.

April 2009 Edition of ThePaddle™.
ThePaddle@coconutcreekfl.org

Editorial
By James Freeman, Editor -
If one wants to run for office in Coconut Creek, a reality check on the machinations of how elections work in this town would be well advised. Otherwise one may as well just save the time, money and effort, and remain on the sidelines.

The recent City Commission elections confirm the continuation of what has been viewed as a tradition of dubious merit. Former Creek Commissioner now Florida State Representative Jim Waldman helped to write the playbook that remains so effective in our local democratic process. You may recall press coverage detailing how he changed his voter’s registration and driver’s license to support his claim that his primary residence is a spare bedroom in a Coconut Creek condo, not his nearly one million dollar home on four acres outside of his district. Or perhaps you’ve heard of Waldman’s longtime association with convicted Medicare scam artist Bradley Hertz.

But in spite of all that, the important lesson here is that in previous City and State elections, Waldman carried Wynmoor. When it comes to casting ballots in Coconut Creek, Wynmoor is the 800 pound gorilla.

This lesson is well heeded by Marilyn Gerber and her endorsees that make up four-fifths of the Coconut Creek City Commission. Pandering to Wynmoor voters wins elections because they turn out in numbers on Election Day that puts the rest of the City to shame.

Then there are those who keep the cogs of this political machine well lubricated. Dennis Mele, former Creek City Manager and lobbyist for law firm Ruden-McClosky, David Brown, campaign manager with Campaign Associates, Inc., who provides a conduit for campaign funding to political cronies, and Rivera, current Creek City Manager, whose taxpayer-based income exceeds that of a U.S. senator for his role in keeping the status quo.

Unlike Waldman, however, Mele, Brown, and Rivera freely admit they are not residents of Coconut Creek. This arrangement does insure that if a developer wants to do business in Coconut Creek, Ruden-McClosky are the go-to guys for the path of least resistance. Just don’t mess with Wynmoor.

But although Wynmoor voters may not share the same priorities as other Creek voters outside of their enclave, they are to be commended for their civic participation at the polls. While we cherish the involvement of our senior residents, we, by our own lack thereof, have relegated our electoral decision-making to them almost exclusively.

When I voted on March 10th, it took no more than 10 minutes of my day. For the vast majority of Creek residents, 10 minutes was too much to ask for a say-so in how our community is run. So if the machine starts chewing up your neighborhood, you can voice your opposition to Mayor Gerber and those marching in lockstep with her. But if they did not hear you on election day, your voices may fall on deaf ears.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tonight the Commission will discuss the Florida State Ethics Law

At tonight’s Deerfield Beach Commission meeting there will be a discussion on a training session on the STATE ethics law. For those who want to check out the law before attending the meeting go to: http://www.ethics.state.fl.us/

The State Commission on Ethics - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The Commission on Ethics cannot conduct investigations of alleged violations of the Sunshine Amendment or the Code of Ethics unless a person files a sworn complaint with the Commission alleging such violation has occurred.

How do I file a complaint?
How do I request an opinion?
How do I obtain copies of materials, forms, instructions?
How do I order published opinions?

LINKS OF INTEREST
Ethics Related Sites
Miami-Dade
U.S. Office of Governmental Ethics
Georgia
NY State
Pennsylvania
Texas
Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL)
Canada

Florida Government Sites
The Official Guide to the State of Florida Legislature - Online Sunshine
Executive Office of the Governor - MyFlorida
Florida Attorney General's Office
Florida Elections Commission
The Florida Bar

The Commission's Staff
The Legal Section drafts legal opinions, orders, rules, and proposed legislation for consideration by the Commission, represents the Commission in litigation, and responds to inquiries about the ethics laws.

The Public Information Section provides information regarding Commission practices and procedures to other states, the press, and the public, and responds to inquiries about the Commission and the ethics laws.

The Investigative Section investigates complaints of violations of the ethics laws and writes narrative investigative reports.

The Financial Disclosure Section handles and supervises the disclosure notification process, receives and maintains disclosure forms, enforces the timely filing of disclosure forms, and responds to inquiries about financial disclosure laws.



Sunday, April 5, 2009

Observer, journalism? or propaganda (shit) sheet?

The article about the commission meeting on the Cove parking lot renovation in Eller's bird cage liner, instead of leading with the many quotes from the majority of business owners who were begging for the project to be done quickly, lead with a quote from the Bagel shop owner who was one of the few who thought it should wait. Most were like the Bridal shop owner who wanted the bids to go out now and have everything ready to start by next spring. The article also nattered on about needing a garage to increase parking. Well, I don't think the residents are ready for a $15,000,000 taxpayer funded garage which would realistically only benefit the Cove Restaurant on Friday nights. But the residents do deserve the city owned parking lot to be maintained, and landscaped. Hmmm, "Follow the money" Hmmmm, Agnew, O'Leary, Eller, Noland????

A yellow rag owner named Eller
A discount the truth kind of feller
Did slant his Cove post
To make it seem most
Were against ‘stead of for; the lie teller.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

OSOBs Set the Record Straight

The OSOB site has a post which may wake up those who like to say the OSOBs are anti- development. http://www.originalsaveourbeach.org/ On their home page they spell out exactly who they are.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cove Meeting an Eye Opener

Last night the Keith Associates group presented the Cove Shopping Center proposal to the CRA Board aka the Commission. The audience was awed by the well thought out design.

Owners of property in the Cove Center were given first dibs at remarks, and then the renters, in contradiction to Joe Miller’s desire to hear from “businesses and residents”, Noland said no residents would be allowed to speak. Sylvia tried to change it to residents who live nearby, but Peggy said we have to leave at 8:00 so, no!

Giving credence to the suspicion that this meeting was not in reality to give the commission a feel for what the owners, businesses, and residents want but had some hidden agenda. Do I detect the machinations of David Eller here?

In spite of a notice on City Hall door that the commission meeting was canceled which misled people who came at 6:00 who thought the CRA meeting was also cancelled and left, there was a good crowd, almost standing room only.

One after another business owners came to the mike and supported the plan; they were desperate for the renewal, one business owner begged for just a few palm trees and bushes. Others said they looked forward to the completion of the plan so they could fix up their facades.

The entire audience frequently clapped and cheered for the plan, after one particularly well-expressed plea to the commission to embrace the plan and go ahead with it as soon as possible, even Joe Miller clapped, he kind of looked startled at what he did and quickly stopped, but one could tell he was swayed, and perhaps starting to think differently from his handlers.

Concerns were about when the construction would start, how businesses would be able to remain open and accessible, and if it would be done after the current Hillsboro Blvd. renovation was finished. They were assured it would be phased in section by section and every effort would be made to keep disruption to a minimum. Keith and Assoc. gave tips on how that could be done.
Even Sue Agnew, owner of the Cove Restaurant who really, really wants a land use change on her parcels by the water, so she can put up a big tall condo, said she had no quarrel with the plan, just when it would start, maybe she said, not right away. Very different from the other owners who wanted it yesterday.

The Mayor and Miller seemed to be well prepared with similar questions, emphasizing the need for a parking garage.

I heard that O’Leary has plans for a restaurant with an adjacent parking garage, and has had some discussion with Jerry Ferguson about the possibility; surprise, surprise, when one of the questions was about air rights the city could lease to build a garage. Remember O’Leary’s abandoned plan for a beach side garage and a partnership with the city and all the talk about air rights. How strange that air rights possibilities were bandied about, who has been talking to whom? Hmmmm, I wonder.

As one of the business owners said, the parking problem is that the Cove Restaurant takes up all the parking spaces, that left a sour look on both Joe’s and Peggy’s faces, but truth is truth. The parking problem is only on weekend evenings when, indeed, the people going to the Cove Restaurant take up all the room. So the desired garage is really for the restaurants, I hope O’Leary has the green, I can’t see Mrs. Retired Person parking in a garage over by the bridge to go to her dentist by 15th Avenue. Nope, ain’t gonna happen.

The meeting was extended for 15 minutes, the important 8:30 appointments put off for a little, to give all the businesses a chance to speak, and then, with a giggle and 5 minutes to go Peggy said anyone else could speak, she had no takers.

One owner told me that he wanted to fix up his store front but would not do it if the city did not keep its obligation to make the parking lot over. He had the whole parking lot thing worked out in his mind, go to bid in September, get bids back during the winter and be ready to go in March or April when the season was over. He was very enthusiastic about the improvements and the business it would bring.

Enthusiasm and delight mixed with frustration was the tone of the people at the meeting, they had hope, but there was an undercurrent of distrust of the city leaders, how, many voiced, can this commission jeopardize such a needed plan? Let us see.

For another view: http://www.deerfieldbeachusa.com/