Observer Corps- September Reports

by Katie Gettinger

 

The purpose of the Observer Corps is two-fold:

  • to observe public meetings and report important issues to the LWV
  • to be seen by elected officials because “We matter and we are watching you.”

 

Observer Corps meetings are a high spot for attendees. The information shared is invaluable and terribly interesting. Many of the meetings are reported on in the media, but the Observer Corps goes a step further by reporting on each meeting to our group and following up with discussion.  Additionally, sometimes more than one Observer will be at a meeting and, while they may sit together, they will pick up different information and upon reporting, will expand and enhance everyone’s understanding. It’s a beautiful thing!  Meetings are open to everyone and are generally held the last Thursday of the month at 1:00 pm at the Compass Center in Lake Worth.

 

Many local meetings were not reported on this month as many Observers were vacationing and meetings in some areas of the county are still not being attended.  If you don’t see your area listed, please consider reporting on your meeting for the Observer Corps – you will get a button to wear!  All the Cool Kids are wearing them!

 

Boca Raton’s city council meeting was attended by Patty Whitehill.

  • There was quite a bit of discussion about the holiday decorations in the park, primarily because of the controversy surrounding the Satanic display that was vandalized last year.  Someone proposed having no holiday decorations at all, but in the end, it was decided that holiday decorations would be allowed–even the Satanic display.

 

Delray City Council Meeting was attended by Arlene Ustin, as well as Vivian and Jim Koppelman. Much of the discussion was about parking shortages.

  • Parking is a problem, so parking meters, employee parking, and garage parking were discussed at length.
    • Metered spots will have variable rates based on time of day
    • Valet parking will increase from $5 to $7
    • A free bus service from the Tri-Rail to the beach will be started
    • Garage parking will have no limit (as long as you want to leave your car there) and no charge.

Atlantic has been hard for Uber and Lyft to penetrate because there is not a place for the cars to wait for the passengers, so those types of spots are needed.

 

Jupiter Town Council Meeting was reported on by Katie Gettinger.

  • A restroom building purchase was approved for Sawfish Bay Park for $60,000.
  • Town Hall replacement or remodeling was discussed. A contract for engineering consultation work was approved at a cost of $125,000.  A funding source was not discussed.  The engineer and architect are to develop 3 concepts, hold workshops, and narrow to one.  Del Sol will be left alone (not removed, not remodeled).
  • Workforce Housing update:  some projects have been approved, the biggest hurdle now is land acquisition.  The city’s purchasing policy in the city code requires Town Council approval for purchases over $50,000.  The committee wants to be able to react quickly if a property becomes available without waiting for council approval, so the finance department will ask for a change in the code in October or November after checking state statutes.
  • The meeting also included workshop time about Island Way South, a street just east of I-95.

 

Lake Worth City Commissioners Meeting was reported on by Claire Miller>, who said the meeting lasted about 4 and a half hours!

  • School board member Erica Whitfield reported on school business, including the absentee problems.  Absenteeism keeps kids from graduating.  It is sometimes caused by homelessness.  It is also sometimes caused by older kids staying home to take care of younger siblings.
  • Local Shark Tank winners were celebrated.
  • Historic preservation in the city is a hot topic.  While funding from the federal government is received for preservation, changing and improving homes is difficult and no one seems to know all the rules.  Additionally, some houses are registered, but other nearby houses of the same age are not.  It seems arbitrary and cumbersome.

 

Palm Beach Gardens City Council Meeting was reported on by Katie Gettinger.

  • The City Manager presented a report providing some details on the spending of the revenues from the sales tax project.
  • The first reading on an ordinance allowing food trucks (with $85 Gardens license and clean health inspection report) passed 5-0.
  • A Resolution passed to increase some fees, including police fees for excessive and unnecessary calls.
  • A Resolution to appoint people to the Charter Review Committee passed (four men and one woman were appointed).
  • ** The Budget Oversight Review Board in PBG has met twice since the last Observer corps meeting, but still hasn’t decided on the millage for next year.

 

Palm Beach County Commissioners Meeting was attended by Patty Whitehill and Barbara Katz.

  • Interlocal agreements between the county and Florida Resiliency and Energy District  and financiers were approved.  These agreements have to do with financing opportunities for residential and commercial property owners who want to participate in a PACE program.  (Property Assessed Clean Energy Program.)  One commissioner voted against stating his concern that property owners might not understand that financing of this type would be a second mortgage against the property, and then failure to pay the loan for solar panels could result in loss of the property.
  • County Administrator, Verdenia Baker, expressed desire for  a park within walking distance of every home in Palm Beach County, so funding was approved for establishment or updates to several parks.
  • Palm Tran funding was discussed, including mention that Wellington will be paying its share, $56,000 per year, for the next two years.
  • Balboa Lane will be a non-public road, accessible only to emergency vehicles.
  • Discussion of updated FEMA flood maps: a public hearing will be held September 12th to amend the Palm Beach County Building Code, as the advisory board approved two weeks ago.
  • A bridge will be named after George Webb, retiring traffic manager.

 

Palm Beach County School Board Meeting was attended by Patty Whitehill and Vivian and Jim Koppelman.

  • There was discussion about unequal pay, segregation, and an evaluation of drug care abusers in Riviera Beach.
  • The Mayor pledged $100,000 to Delray Carver Middle School.  The school has had curriculum problems, but the new principal who joined the staff two years ago is good.
  • The negotiations with the union and the board of education are still on the table.  Teachers are told what is expected and if there is no compliance…
  • Teachers’ planning time is insufficient and many teachers do their planning at home.
  • A new employee who was the President of Helping Hands, wants a $40,000 grant for robotics.
  • GL Homes wants to build a school, and it is needed, but there is resistance because they want to build it in the Ag Reserve.
  • Concurrence zoning rule:  the roads, parking, schools, etc. that builders must build but they they don’t own them.
  • The Wilson Reading Program was discussed.  The goal of the program is to get everyone reading by 3rd grade by teaching the teacher how to help students who are falling behind.

 

Claire Miller also attended the Soil and Water Conservation Meeting where the group voted to recommend the county buy a marine property in the Ag Reserve near Parrow Farms.  Currently, Parrow Farms is farming on the property.  They also talked about funding for a program that helps farmers figure out how much fertilizer to use when growing in pots instead of the ground.  The goal of the program is to reduce fertilizer contamination in waterways.

 

The next Observer Corps meeting will be Thursday, September 21, at 1 p.m., at the Compass Community Center, 201 Dixie Highway, Lake Worth.