Taylor hosting meeting to oppose Glades land bill

Palm Beach County Commissioner District 7, Priscilla A. Taylor in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 22, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor is putting together a breakfast meeting Saturday to call attention to legislation she argues will harm residents of the Glades, an impoverished area along the banks of Lake Okeechobee.

The object of Taylor’s ire is a bill filed in the Florida Senate (SB 10) that calls for the purchase of land south of the lake for a reservoir project that would end the necessity of the lake discharges blamed for the algae bloom that fouled water along the Treasure Coast last year.

The legislation, authored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, calls for the land to be purchased from willing sellers. But Taylor, a former state legislator whose district included the Glades, worries landowners in the area would be compelled to sell.

One area of particular concern, Taylor said, includes a mill that employs more than 1,000 people.

The closing of that mill “would be devastating to that area,” Taylor said, adding that she is frustrated that there have been no public discussions of the legislation’s potential impact.

Taylor is organizing a “call to action” breakfast from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church at 801 9th St. in West Palm Beach.

What’s a broken window worth? In Pahokee, $22,000.

pahokee
City of Pahokee

Palm Beach County’s economic recovery is slowing in reaching Pahokee. So the town along Lake Okeechobee, where unemployment’s been as high as 27 percent and property values rose at a lower rate than any other municipality, doesn’t have money lying around. And for want of that $22,000, it can’t, at least for now, bulldoze a crime magnet.

A 2-story building at 171 Booker Place is owned by a Lake Worth church that had hoped to renovate it as a homeless residence. But that plan fizzled, and the complex “has become a blighted nuisance to the surrounding community, and a haven for illegal activity (drugs being sold, prostitution, drug-use, and other illicit activities),” City Manager Chandler Williamson said Tuesday in an email to County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose district includes the Glades.

The Broken Window Theory is in plain sight,” Williamson wrote, referring to a doctrine that says a broken window suggests no one cares and helps lead to blight and crime.

Williamson
Williamson

Williamson said the owners have offered to sign the place over. But there’s $22,000 in back taxes. Williamson asked for a break. No, the county said. Its hands are tied.

“We cannot waive taxes,” Sherry Brown, director of the county’s Office of Financial Management and Budget, said in an email. “If the city takes ownership, they are responsible.”

Williamson couldn’t be reached to learn the city’s next move.