Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

It’s not quite Spring, but Lake Park has game day fever! There will be a town meeting double header this week on Wednesday night at 6:30, with both a CRA and a regular commission meeting on the calendar. I wonder. If peanuts and Cracker Jacks were sold, do you suppose we’d have more folks come out to watch the players go head to head? After all… our town meetings are rousing sport. Concessions certainly might boost attendance.

The game will be played either way. The town government team will be on the field pitching proposals and they will likely load the bases for an eventual grand slam that tends to benefit a select few when the season’s strategy pans out. Be on the lookout for curves, sliders and fast balls…and the way certain groups curry favor and gain influence within our town. Watch for the way the promoters (town employees) propose to help the fans (us residents) part with our money.

Game Day Strategy

The agendas which are linked below via the town website show the game plan has been devised well in advance. Do you ever wonder how certain proposals get into the gamebook (on the agenda)? Who has the ear of those in charge and what is the basic premise about our town government that make it possible for some of their proposals to make it onto the roster, and why?  What are the criteria?

Town meetings may seem like a lot of mumbo jumbo to those unfamiliar with them, but they are truly an exhibition, folks and as American as baseball and apple pie. Watch to see which batters wiff and which ones regularly stand at the plate and watch the ball go by, walking to base without ever making an effort. Who plays their heart out and hits a home run with their research and their desire to get to the truth? Which players have a love of the game and work hard at it with skill and ability? Who is willing to climb the fence or take a dive to make the important plays and who bobbles the ball? Who takes the easy way out sitting the bench or even stealing bases? Be a connoisseur of the game. Once you know the players, you will have a whole new understanding of the sport of Lake Park town governance. And take note, the best town players don’t consider residents their opponents but fans they need and want to please. They will play their heart out for the audience both on game day and behind the scenes because they know we are the financial force behind their livelihood. And besides, players need an audience in the stands.

The lineup of meeting agendas is ready for your viewing pleasure at the town’s website. Below you will find the links to each and agenda summaries follow.

First up is the CRA agenda.

The first pitch will be thrown out at the CRA meeting at 6:30 and that will be followed by the regular commission meeting. Stay in the stands for both. You never know when you’ll see a good squeeze play or players rushing the mound, having to be separated by the ump, or when a foul might come flying into the audience.

The first 48 pages seems to be comprised of meeting minutes and a previous presentation. Check the minutes for accuracy. Page 49 is where the discussion items begin.

First item:

Request for Qualifications – 800 Park Avenue

Are they serious? The gallery was not effective or previously successful, was closed down and now the board is requesting we revert back and maintain it as such? Am I missing something here? What’s with the whole art gallery thing anyway? If Park Avenue had any artsy attitude, more of the businesses there would add individual personality to their storefronts to attract passers-by. When the town was given grant money to updo the awnings some time back, I have to say the most dreary, boring, and unattractive awnings were chosen, causing people to avert their eyes rather than gaze, stop, engage and spend… and they span a number of the businesses. This is what happens when government tries to run the “free market”.

Has no one in this town ever been to a small town main street? Where is the personality on Park Avenue? Sure, the plants we spend a fortune on to maintain look great (they ought to, after all we spend on them each year), but they don’t bring in any revenue. And if you want something that will attract artsy people, think beyond pottery and paintings. Art takes on many forms. Think about the customer and what THEY want in product and in an experience, not what the town wants. How many people in this economy have money to purchase paintings or while away the hours in a studio? The plan for 800 Park Avenue, in my estimation should not be decided before the CRA workshop happens. This should be postponed and placed on the list of items to be discussed at the public workshop.

Actually, the CRA, in the estimation of quite a number of people in town with whom I have spoken, should be abolished. It is a failed concept whereby the government unsuccessfully sinks taxpayer dollars into urban renewal and attempts to make commerce happen. What does government know about making money? Have they proven successful? And have you seen how they handle what they do get their hands on? Wise up, Lake Park, private enterprise is not the government’s purpose, and the attention and money we are spending on this is sucking time and energy from the town’s everyday vital services. It also steals attention from resident concerns that affect our everyday quality of life.

An entitlement or government handout mindset is being set up here. As a result, with eyes wide, those who hear about “free money” come to cash in, get what they can off of someone else’s dime, and when the business fails, they move on with little consequence to themselves. Do you care more for what you earn yourself and work hard for or that which is handed out liberally at little to no investment or cost to you personally? Would you agree that many of the successful businesses in the CRA district are the ones that were there before the CRA came onto the scene to tidy up, babysit business owners and offer hand outs? And how do we keep track of what money and/or other incentives are being doled out and then returned when the business fails? Are CRA businesses placed under the thumb of town government because of their association with the CRA and the “help” they get from it, whatever that might be? In the past, it seemed the town manager was able to miraculously produce funds at opportune times, money that just happened to “become available”. The information about what was in the fund, and how it came available seemed to be information held close to her vest, and we were made aware of it only after she decided to dole it out.

The qualifications section of this RFQ has an interesting requirement, and this is government for you. To be considered as a tenant for the art gallery, one of the requirements is:

“Past performance records in support of local governments or Arts and Museums participation.”

As usual, the conditions when government gets involved tend to provide a “set up”.

Draft CRA Workshop Agenda

Check this part out and see what you feel should be added to the workshop. Is there anyone you feel should come and speak regarding the CRA? Come prepared to speak your mind about what you would like to see this workshop be about. Again, shouldn’t 800 Park Avenue be on the list?

Dicussion of Hedgeplant for Downtown Alleyway

This final section on which hedge plant to use in the alleyway is 11 pages long. Sigh.

Okay, you’ll be needing a seventh inning stretch about now…

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Here is the commission meeting agenda.

Resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute a Memorandum of agreement between the CHS and The town of LP

The Mayor would like to execute an agreement between the Children’s Home Society and the Town of Lake Park. This will set forth cooperation between the library and the community organization, Bridges, which is sponsored by the Children’s Home Society, to create an association that makes Lake Park a more binding venue for some of its programs. Bridges is already promoted in various ways and uses town facilities. I’m just curious why this official binding association is necessary, especially when they have the sponsorship of CHS? What kind of precedent will be set by this association and what will we be obligated to in the future because of this? Is this a foot in the door that sets a precedent for the future regarding other groups and organizations?

Library and Technology Grant (21 pages of the agenda)

I challenge you to read the guidelines and the evaluation criteria for this grant (as we should with all grants so we begin to see the beast, which is the grant process). What will this cost above and beyond the grant award for ongoing upkeep, support, upgrades and maintenance? Will there be training or anything else that we will have to fund out of pocket or incidental expenses that come about as a result of using the new technology? How long before this technology needs to be replaced with yet another new must-have program.  What will accepting this grant lead to next? There is a domino effect that comes about through the grant process. Please consider this.

One of the stipulations of this grant is that language assistance must be provided for those who may not be proficient with the English language. Hmm. How will that be dealt with? Do we have to hire someone to provide this service? Not only is there a lot to consider, but the time it takes to read and comply with all the federal guidelines regarding each stipulation makes these grants costly in the time spent on them. How much time will be given to this just in the commission meeting this week alone? That’s just a drop in the bucket to the time which has been spent on it so far and the time that will have to be squandered in days to come.

We pay a hefty salary to employ a grant writer to provide the federal government with all the information, statistics, support arguments, etc. just to get the grant, but the process doesn’t stop there. Mid year status reports, general status reports and final status reports must be submitted. At the end of the grant period, an audit must be submitted.

Grant funds have very strict guidelines and conditions. Look into it and let’s consider getting off the grant gravy train.

Substation Roof Replacement Contract Bid (about 113 pages)

Irish Fair Request for Waived Fees and Town Services

Interim Town Manager’s Progress Report

Status Report on Town Manager Search

Renewal of Interim Town Manager Agreement

All that will be missing besides the peanuts and cracker jacks this week is the organ music. I vote Lake Park hire an organist to play for meetings. It would round out these double header meetings quite nicely along with some peanuts and cracker jacks.

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A girl can dream. Hope you’ll show up even without concessions and the organ fanfare!

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