Jam-Packed

Alright, so it’s the agenda that’s jam-packed and not a car packed full of fun and heading on a vacation to the beach. But, We. Can. Dream. Right?

Okay, wake up already! We have work to do.

Click here for the agenda for tonight’s 7:00 p.m. jam-packed commission meeting. If it makes you feel better, come wearing your beach hat or your hawaiian shirt.

Sorry so late with this but I couldn’t get the agenda open through the town site. Better late than never. Here is a hint at what’s to come at tonight’s meeting, but be aware the agenda is 453 pages this week. I didn’t have time to do a very thorough summary or read it all, so just read, read, read the agenda. Stop and make notes and prepare to ask questions where appropriate.

First up:

Tab 1 – Proclamation honoring Michael Pisano

Tab 2 – Consent Agenda – Meeting Minutes from February 15th Commission Meeting

Tab 3 – Resolution Authorizing the Mayor to formalize an agreement between the town of Lake Park and the Children’s Home Society…

...to work together to support the Hub concept. First of all…What is the Hub concept? I’m not 100% sure. It seems to me that this is an important explanation that was conveniently left out of the agenda. That and the implications of this association. Does this obligate us to funding to support this “coordinated and integrated, community based system of care…” Here is what the agenda says:

It sounds real nice. Is that all there is to the Hub concept? Hmmm…I wouldn’t count on it. I believe a definition should have been included. Why was a true explanation of “Hub” left out? The resolution in the agenda formalizes the association between the town, Bridges and the Children’s Home Society, but what does that mean, exactly?

Now, The Children’s Home Society seems to be a nice organization. I was happy to see that they promote adoption not abortion. However, both they and “Bridges” work under the umbrella of the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County who provides support to Planned Parenthood. That’s the tax payer funded Children’s Services Council. Meaning YOUR taxes! This needs to be addressed.

For today, though, what I am wondering is, is an association with Lake Park a step needed by these organizations in order to procure more government funds? These are just questions. This is not explained in the memorandum, so questions must be asked. What is the point of this? Why else would this association be so promoted since we have already been providing our help to them through advertising, use of the library and other meeting space, etc. Part of Bridges‘ purpose, as stated in the agenda, is to support parenting by meeting daily and long term needs of local families...that seems pretty intensive. I see nothing in the description here that tells how they seek to make these children self-sufficient or to teach them about marriage and family, which seems to be at the heart of the inability of these children’s parents to care for their children sufficiently themselves. It just sounds to me like this provides government sponsored agencies as a “home” or a “family” and does little to alleviate the actual cause of the problem.

I wanted to get a better understanding of these organizations and here’s what I found. These organizations are well funded, far reaching and Bridges is just a small, local portion of a larger well-funded organization. As far as I can tell, The Children’s Services Council is an umbrella over both The Children’s Home Society and Bridges. When looking at how the Children’s Services Council gets it’s money, and how much, here is what we find on their website:

They seem extremely well funded by taxpayers. I have no idea as to how much of this budget goes toward Bridges and the Children’s Home Society, which our town’s memorandum in question seeks to promote. However, if as indicated on the description in the agenda, Bridges seeks to to support parenting by meeting daily and long term needs of local families, they are obviously going to be in need of a lot of funding. Meeting daily and long term needs doesn’t come cheap. 

You can see where else CSC money (including your tax dollars) goes by clicking HERE. Again, let me reiterate…the funded programs include Planned Parenthood!

Money for the CSC (the umbrella organization) is also procured from entities such as the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, and from federal grants, the United Way, Quantum Foundation, and others.

So is the association between the Town of Lake Park and The Children’s Home Society also about money? The Children’s Home Society, remember, is a part of CSC. Is an association between CHS and Lake Park just an “in” for procuring more grants? Is it about changing the balance of how our town tax revenues go to fund the associations under which Bridges operates? Come budget time will we find we have to allot money to them now too? One has to wonder. Is this alliance going to continue the need for urban entitlement programs for which our town will need to continue to “maintain” a low income status? Questions, questions. Don’t just tell me it’s “for the children” and move on quickly as if that is an end all/be all. Let’s just look beyond that meme and see what exactly we are getting involved in and what it will lead to. When something like this comes up, we have to ask why?

In the agenda, a list of responsibilities is provided for both the town of Lake Park and the Children’s Home Society (page 55 of the PDF) regarding the association being proposed. Check out the last one in the list of the Town of Lake Park’s responsibilities in this association. It’s what isn’t said there that we should be concerned about. Who are the stakeholders, what is involved in creating a community partnership, etc? What will it take to make this happen? Ask questions!

If this association does not involve financial implications and isn’t being done in order to set up a structure that affects premises upon which our town operates, what is the purpose, especially if we are already working together just fine? What does this lead us to in the future, what does it bind us to and how long will this be in effect? Good to know before making a commitment. Is this a role our town government should be involved in? Would the residents agree with this? In addition, and on a separate note, do you agree to a portion of your millage rate going to the CSC? You are being forced to spend your money on the charities of someone else’s choice and ideology. How do these things come about? Is this the County’s doing or the town’s? Probably both. Shouldn’t this be something individuals take up and invest in if they believe in it?… individuals who feel the personal desire to be involved and chose to give of their hard-earned resources to these particular charities?

The Role of Government?

Again, it’s a matter of defining the role of our town government. If we don’t inspect carefully what we get involved with, and these determinations are not made, we will continue to have our decisions made for us. Is this a benign association between the town and these organizations or does this association set a precedent? We will continue to muddle through discussions and debate about similar things as a town, and program after program will be brought under town “care” unnecessarily unless we make a decision about the role of our town government.

I’m all for churches and private charities helping “the children” and “families”, but  the town not so much. I believe it should be a private matter. Individuals should participate as they see fit and in ways that they can have a say about, and so they can keep tabs upon the way the money is being spent and on the services being offered. The current operation of some of these organizations  sounds more like the redistribution of wealth and collectivization right here in small town Lake Park. How do you think such things get set into place? Inch. By. Inch. Resolution. By. Resolution. Please pay attention to what is being written into our Town’s roles and responsibilities one step and one nudge at a time.

Tab 4 – A proclamation about April being Water Conservation Month.

Tab 5 – A proclamation recognizing April 27th as National Arbor Day.

Here We Go. Your Town Wants to FURTHER PROTECT You…

Tab 6 – Ordinance 04-2012 Update to Building Codes

At what point does the government let go of our hand and let us grow up? It looks like they are once again grabbing our mitts before we cross the threshold of our front door to make sure we are “safe”. Where does it end?

Updating Chapter 54 of the code of ordinances to include the updated language of the Florida Building Code 2010. This is being done for your health, safety and general welfare (you being the residents and businesses of Lake Park). (Remember: They’re from the government and they’re here to help.) These codes are more stringent than the minimum state administrative standards, but are being recommended by Town Staff. When will it end?

Please read

Chapter one – Administration – Scope, Intent, etc. This sounds pretty daunting, but it gets a little ambiguous. If you are into this stuff and can cut through the mumbo jumbo, please give us your take. They provide exceptions to these rules, but after a quick read, it wasn’t clear exactly how much of this affects residences. In years past, changes to the code have added huge costs and cumbersome procedures to basic home repairs (for our safety, health and welfare, of course, yada, yada. Pay attention here. When the government tells you it’s “for your protection”, you are most likely in the process of being stripped of more of your freedom.) Please keep an eye on this phrase “For your protection” across the board with plans being administered by the current White House administration as well.

Some of this section of the agenda sounds sweeping, such as the 101.4 section on down: Electrical, Gas, Mechanical, Plumbing. The residential section has been struck-through as far as this applying to residences, but the sections just above that don’t clarify that they are NOT referencing residential work.

Read it all. At the end it says that for existing structures, on the date of adoption of this code, they shall be permitted to continue without change, except as is specifically covered in this code, the Codes referenced in Section 101.4, or the Florida Fire Prevention Code, or as is deemed necessary by the building official for the general safety and welfare of the occupants and the public. Talk about confusing.

Section 105 – Permits. READ IT!

The permit requirements are entirely out of hand. At what point do we say enough is enough. They have stripped us of our responsibility for ourselves, our homes and our own wellbeing. They have their hands on huge amounts of what goes on here on our own property and within our households through the requirements that are continually made more and more expansive. And it’s expensive!

Aside from these items, it appears that just about every word ever written on the building, repair and code conditions is in this agenda. No, really.

Tab 7 – Review of Cover Letters and Resumes received for Town Manager

Once again, the ICMA is being pushed to the forefront for us to follow their lead and guidance. Once again, I ask you to check into the ICMA and see if it is in line with what we as individuals in this town want. Please see the post from a few months back about this, including the list of key words the ICMA wants us to consider when choosing a candidate. They ask us to choose someone who will be an ambassador for the County. Many of us would disagree, heartily. We don’t necessarily agree with the direction that the county and it’s policies are going, nor the kind of leadership the County presents.

An employment agreement sample for the town to consider is attached in the agenda (page 159 of the pdf). I am not sure this has changed from the one used for Maria Davis. The car allowance is listed in similar terms but allows for even more per month – $600/month, the “termination for cause” section seems to be worded similarly, as I’m sure much of the rest of it does. This is a hugely important item to get right. Please recall how what was written into Maria Davis’ contract bit us in the butt. 

The town received 40 submittals as of the March 14th deadline with some coming in after that, however postmarked by that date.

Please see the agenda for further information on all of these prospective candidates. Let’s begin the vetting of our candidates ourselves and make our preferences known. Let’s choose someone who can get our town back on a more responsible, common sense track.

Tab 8 – Discussion of Request to Extend Kelsey Park Combination Market to Occur Year Round

It is being recommended by staff to agree, with conditions.

Tab 9 – Discussion of Internet Viewing of Public Meetings

It is being recommended that we give it a 6 month trial of 3 meetings a month for $149.00 a month.

The meeting begins at 7:30. It’s an important one. I hope you can engage in this and give your two cents on these topics.

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