Monday, March 21, 2022
Thursday, February 17, 2022
As local environmentalists and community activists in Lake Worth Beach may have noticed, our success in re-electing Christopher McVoy for District 2 was not contested by a pro-developer candidate, so he will thankfully continue to hold that seat. It was a major sigh of relief after all the work we put in engaging voters to show up at the polls last year.
But the District 4 seat is now up for grabs, as Herman Robinson leaves office. There are three names on the ballot. There are also some important ballot questions to vote on. We succeeded in creating a major shift last year, unseating four developer-backed, socially-conservative candidates, three of which had been in office for a decade+, but the pressure of real estate greed continues to impact commission decisions.
For example last year, a significant upzoning for the proposed Deco Green development passed in a 3-2 vote, requiring neighbors, environmentalists and local affordable housing advocates to file a lawsuit aiming to send it back to the drawing board for a reassessment of the city's "sustainability bonus" and deeper input from surrounding residents. (Details on that fight here.) Who gets into office this year would have a real impact on decisions like this one, which affects the cost of housing and the quality of life for the low-rise, working class neighborhoods that make up most of the city.Here's a little about the candidates and the ballot items to aid in casting an informed ballot.
|Morgan speaks on public health at press event|
Voters in Lake Worth Beach also will decide four ballot questions.
Question 1 is about term limits: Vote Yes.
Question 2 is about runoff elections: Mixed feelings, but No.
Question 3 single-member districts: Vote No
Question 4 fill a commission vacancy before the next election. Vote Yes
That's our two-cents on the matter. We encourage folks to make up their own mind, and then get out in the streets and engage with your community.
Oh, and if you still have a Vote By Mail ballot, mail it soon or bring it directly in to the Supervisor of Elections office. If you are undecided up until the end, bring your mail-in ballot with you to the polls, otherwise you will have to vote by provisional ballot, which slows down the final election results.
Thursday, March 4, 2021
But development and real estate greed in what is now called Lake Worth Beach is not just about pavement and pollution, its also an environmental justice issue.
Even the 2010 census (which was thought to have significantly under counted immigrant residents) reported that 60% of the city was made up of Black, Latinx and Indigenous people, largely from Central American and Caribbean countries, many of whom have been making their homes in Lake Worth since fleeing wars and repression in the 1980s.
While there has long been a tension between the residents of the city and the people seeking to maximize profits through real estate investments, that has come to a head in recent years, with an increased effort to push people out by abusive code enforcement policies, even exploiting the pandemic to shut off unpaid utilities of these same residents and their families.
This commission has sought to refute these claims on a very superficial levels, using red scare tactics reminiscent of the McCarthy-era, claiming that the community activists monitoring and exposing these efforts are just getting in the way of progress.
If greed, racism, exploitation and evicting families to make room for high-rise luxury condos are the definition or progress, then the PBCEC is proud to join residents standing in the way of it.
While we are not endorsing candidates in this election, as shown above, we are seeking to educate the public about the current incumbents and show an example of those who are running for their seats. In that spirit, we note the following:
In District 2, Christopher McVoy is a former City Commissioner with a solid record of voting favorably on issues of climate, environment and water quality, as well as social concerns related to immigrant rights and racial justice. His main opponent, Carla Blockson, claims to be independent of the current commissioners but was appointed to fill the District 2 commission seat by the incumbents listed above after the election cycle had already started, and is seen driving around town in the current mayor's personal golf cart.
In District 3, Kim Stokes and Drew Martin both have strong track records and vocal commitments to community activism for environmental and social concerns. Their main opponent has generally voted as a shill for developers for the past 10 years.
In District 1, Sarah Malega has expressed concerns surrounding development, affordable housing, immigrants rights and police accountability. Her only opponents has a 20 year legacy in public office as a deceptive far-right bigot (for example, speaking out recently against community IDs intended to ensure the safety of undocumented residents). He led efforts to shut down a day labor resource center, disband a police oversight board, and end the city's energy conservation program. While he once appeared independent on development issues, he has long since proven to be a tool of developers. Not to mention, he's a MAGA hat-wearing chairperson of the Palm Beach Republican Party's Political Committee.
For Mayor, Betty Resch has joined her neighbors in opposing a multimillion dollar handout to developers threatening to forever change the character of the downtown neighborhood she lives in. While we have had disagreements with Resch in the past over some development issues, it is quite clear that the current mayor is a right-wing PR agent for real estate flipping junkies, and it's long past time to kick these fiends and their pushers out out of town.
That's our two-cents on the matter. We encourage to make up your own mind, and then get out in the streets and engage with your community.
Oh, and if you still have a Vote By Mail ballot, bring it directly in to the Supervisor of Elections office. Its cutting it too close to mail it.
Monday, March 25, 2019
Environmental activist challenges notorious settlement between Lake Point and South Florida Water Management District for violating Florida’s Sunshine Law
|Lake Point Ranches development on the south side of Kanner Highway one mile east of Lake Okeechobee in this photo taken in November 2013.|
After years of contentious litigation involving a suit filed by Lake Point Phase I, LLC and Lake Point Phase II, LLC against the South Florida Water Management District, the District’s Governing Board held a meeting with its General Counsel Brian Accardo behind closed doors to discuss the case. Moments after the closed-door meeting concluded, and without advance release of the settlement agreement or public discussion regarding its merits, the District’s Board voted unanimously to settle the case on terms that were at the time undisclosed. [Additional background on this case can be found here.]
According to a lawsuit filed Monday, March 11, 2019, the first day of “Government in the Sunshine Week,“ this sort of ceremonious pageantry to formally accept an agreement that had already been decided upon entirely behind closed doors blatantly violates Florida’s open government laws.What actually transpired in that “shade meeting” is not known because the District has refused to release the transcript of the closed-door session with its attorney, in spite of a legal requirement that it do so as soon as the litigation was concluded.
In fact, the District was so anxious to keep the discussions that took place behind closed doors top secret, it sued an environmental organization, Everglades Law Center, for having made a public records request for a copy of the transcript. Initially the District claimed the transcript could not be made public because there was still on-going litigation between Lake Point and another party. In later pleadings, the District claimed that the transcript must remain secret not only until all the related litigation ends, but forever, because the closed-door meeting included discussions of what had happened at a prior court ordered mediation, and such “mediation communications” are confidential.
The complaint filed earlier this month on behalf of local activist Pangioti Tsolkas alleges that the District’s Board “privately decided to settle the Lake Point litigation, as well as the specific terms upon which the lawsuit would be settled.” This, according to Tsolkas, is antithetical of Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law, which requires public business to be conducted in the public, not behind closed doors. Tsolkas says the settlement agreement obligates the District to buy a minimum of 50,000 tons of rubble mined by Lake Point, whether the excavated materials are needed or not, and allows Lake Point to sell water, a concept contrary to the basic premise that Florida’s water is a public resource managed for the public’s benefit.
According to Marcy LaHart, the attorney representing Tsolkas, “while avoiding the uncertainty of litigation is often in the public’s interest, the lengths to which the District has gone to keep secret its reasoning behind entering the Lake Point settlement agreement is unprecedented. Regardless of whether entering the settlement agreement was a good thing or a bad thing, every penny the District will spend implementing the agreement and complying with its terms is the public’s money, and the public has a right to know why their public officials chose to settle the case when and how they did.”
Media inquiries contact Marcy LaHart, marcy@floridaanimallawyer.
Thursday, October 18, 2018
|See a map of District 87 below|
Check out a great interview with him from CBS Ch 12As American discontent and deep political corruption and ineptitude in both of the major parties spilled onto our front pages and news feeds, I realized that almost across the board our political system had been corrupted to serve the wealthy few over the working many. I discovered that we have few honest actors in our government. I observed that our political class with their ivy league and business school degrees are no smarter than us, just better connected. I suddenly knew that if the people did not come together, hold government accountable and take our government back, things could only get worse for average Americans.When I became civically engaged I found it to be my passion. I joined organizations that were fighting to make the political process answer to the people, or founded them where necessary. I began attending city and county commission and school board meetings and speaking out to them about issues that most impact our communities, like immigrant protections, environmental racism and gentrification. I took several trips to Tallahassee to argue for union rights, fracking bans, protections from wage and tip theft, public school funding and more.
I currently serve as co-chair to the Green Party of Florida and the Palm Beach County Green Party. I am the founder of Black Lives Matter Palm Beach County and the treasurer of the Palm Beach County Democratic Socialists of America. I am also an active member of the Palm Beach Tenants’ Union and the League of Women Voters.
|FL House of Representatives, District 87|