Here to Help?

Well, my friends, this is proving to be a very busy week. We have taken our lumps and we have two more meetings scheduled for this evening. Please join us and keep watch. If we begin working as a team to reclaim our town, we may just stand a chance. The resignation of Ms. Davis was just the beginning. There is much to be done and we need as many residents engaged and speaking out as possible. Our town marches on tonight.

Thankfully, from the looks of the meeting on Monday, it appears many residents are watching and becoming involved. It is also evident that we share a common frustration with the leadership of the town commission. Let’s stick together and see what we can accomplish. Friendships have been forming, ideas are brewing, people are getting involved… and Lake Park will be the better for it! No doubt.

CRA Board Meeting

The first meeting tonight is the CRA Board Meeting. You will find the meeting agenda HERE.

The board will consider the renewal of the contract with the  town LOBBYIST, aka The Intergovernmental Consultant (oh, brother). This needs serious consideration by the board. The money we pay a lobbyist is substantial, and the lobbyist not only works for our town and the CRA, but I believe from information presented during last summer’s budget talks, he contracts his services with other municipalities as well, 12 of us in all. Kind of hard to adequately gauge what we are getting for our money when he is representing all of us at once. Are any of those interests in conflict with our own? How would we know?

How much is this costing us and what is this service providing for Lake Park? What is it doing for the street where YOU live? Well the cost is at least $13,500.00, but I’m not sure if that is what we pay him altogether or the amount paid just by the town with the CRA kicking in an additional chunk of change. The town and the CRA split his salary, but I am not sure of the breakdown of it. If anyone has that information and would like to enlighten us, please do. My concern is whose interests the lobbyist is actually representing.

It might be unwise to commit our town to paying for another year of these services without serious consideration of what we are getting for our money and without renegotiation, especially in light of the large sum we are having to hand over to Ms. Davis. It is also important to consider the fact that the town lobbyist has always been directed by Ms. Davis to consult on issues to which she directed him. What are those causes? Were her interests in our town’s best interest? Were they partisan in nature?

From a report Mr. Gomez, the lobbyist, gave during the budget talks, there was a sense that he basically keeps an eye on certain issues and reports back about how those issues are faring in the legislature. I was not convinced last summer and I’m not convinced now that this is a valid or necessary expense in the least. If you have concerns about the relevance of this expenditure, please contact your commissioners and board members and come to the meeting tonight and let the town know during public comments as well. It’s time to question the practices in which our town is engaged. The town of Lake Park Commission itself will also take a vote regarding the lobbyist’s contract at the regular commission meeting. Seems odd, I know. The town and CRA are separate but connected. Go figure. Keeps things murky and complicated and keeps residents from grasping the particulars of what is going on. It also hinders residents from getting involved. This needs to change. If the CRA board votes to renew the lobbyist’s contract, the commission will do so as well, since the commissioners all sit on the CRA board. Pay attention.

According to the agenda there will also be possible discussion/action regarding the outsourcing of the CRA. This is important. Please come and have your say and stay informed. The CRA is the means by which our town government tries to affect the free market in Lake Park. We need to watch this like a hawk and carefully make calculations and decisions concerning this agency.

Regular Commission Meeting Agenda

The regular commission meeting will follow the CRA Board Meeting. There has been a revision since it first came out. You can find the updated agenda for tonight’s commission meeting HERE. You can see in the screenshot below the items up for approval and/or discussion. There seem to be a whole lot of library contracts or agreements which I have no idea the meaning of (if you know and want to share that information, please let us know in the comments), and it also looks like we are back to the subject of the bid for the park bathroom remodels, about which there were concerns at the last meeting.

Appointment of Interim Town Manager

Finally, the town will vote to obtain assistance from the ICMA Executive Board and the Florida City and County Management Association Range Rider program, which provides retired town managers on a volunteer basis to offer their time and advice during transitions such as we are facing as we search for an interim town manger. I suggest you look into these two associations. The ICMA (linked above) promotes sustainable communities (see the huge concerns about this in the post What is Considered UNsustainable and Recovering a Gem just for starters. You can do a search on the blog for sustainable development and find more information.) and has a global government agenda and uses the “democracy” language we have discussed in the posts, Democracy vs Republic, This is What Democracy Looks Like and Ignorance Interrupted, among others. I’m sure these organizations do some good things and are  helpful to government workers, but they are not benign “helpers”. Again…pay attention. Be alert to what is happening and what is being slipped into our town via the philosophies of these organizations we are affiliated with.

Take note: According to this agenda item, the town expects to conclude the hiring process for the interim manager within one month. This includes advertising, background checks, and review of applications by the commission for final approval.

  • Have there been or are there candidates being encouraged to submit resumés by the above mentioned associations or other county or state associations?
  • If so, consider the leanings of those organizations and the reasons they would have for promoting certain candidates.
  • There are applicants already sending in resumés for interim Town Manager (and remember, an interim can easily end up staying on permanently.) Make sure our commission chooses an interim wisely. It may end up being a very significant and lasting decision.
  • Have these applicants been scouted by someone?
  • Hopefully the commission will keep us abreast of who these candidates are and discuss them, their qualifications, their associations, etc. publicly. Full disclosure is necessary, even of the interim candidates.
  • Hopefully our town will elect someone who represents what is best for the town and not just someone who will carry on the same agenda as we have seen in Lake Park for the past 5 years.
  • It might  be valuable to find out if anyone knows how it was that Maria Davis came our way back in 2007.
  • Was she recommended by any group or association?
  • Did she find us or did someone in town find her?

The sense is that the commission at the time was in a rush to fill the position and move on and thus their acquiescence to Ms. Davis’s demands and the hurry to usher her into the job without adequate scrutiny of her past or the wording of her contract. It would be wise to know and thus avoid having a similar scenario playing out.

Let’s make sure that there is no rush to choose the next Town Manager, even an interim, just to “put this behind us and move forward.” If we hear any inkling of that sentiment, there should be an uproar from the residents. A rush to a decision, even an interim one, can hide things we as a town need to know. Hopefully we have learned from our costly past mistakes and will adjust accordingly, using discernment. The position of Town Manager is considered non-partisan, but that is a farce. Maria Davis was anything but and you can bet that we need to watch for this again.

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Be assured that many of the government organizations that are “here to help” cities and towns across our state are working diligently to get their plans and policies and political agendas implemented into those municipalities across Florida and Palm Beach County through the individuals who direct the town policies. Be vigilant. We have had our share of that and the last thing we need is more of the same dressed up in different clothes. Let’s get out from under these organizations and their direction and let the people of Lake Park think and plan for themselves.

Sure hope we see everyone at Town Hall again tonight!