An eighth commissioner?

orbit

A new Palm Beach County commissioner was sworn in Thursday to rep-….ah, actually, that’s Orbit, the Houston Astros’ large, green mascot, who stopped by to offer silent thanks for support in building the new minor league ballpark that’s scheduled to open on Tuesday.

Commissioners were happy to see Orbit and grinned broadly as they donned Astros caps and showed off commemorative uniforms, each adorned with their last name and the number 17 to indicate the year of the new ballpark’s opening.

Home caregivers: March 1 is deadline to get licensed in Palm Beach County

(Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post)
(Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post)

Those providing in-home care to seniors and other vulnerable adults have had a year to get licensed. That grace period ends March 1, and those without licenses face a $500 fine and up to two months in jail, according to Palm Beach County’s Consumer Affairs Division.

The Palm Beach County Commission voted in October 2015 to require caregivers who hadn’t already done so to submit fingerprints and undergo a national criminal background check. Commissioners said their goal was to make it harder for seniors and physically or mentally disabled adults to be abused by those purporting to care for them.

Those who have committed a serious criminal offense such as fraud, elder abuse or exploitation, homicide, burglary or theft will be ineligible for the license, which must be renewed every five years.

Home-care agencies that already require employees to undergo fingerprinting and a background check must provide the county with an affidavit attesting to that fact. In those instances, the employee would still be required to be photographed and obtain a physical license, which is expected to cost $20.

Others working independently must undergo the background check, fingerprinting and photographing at a cost of about $75.

 

Palm Beach County and its lifeguards union at impasse

092516-pbc-lifeguards-3Just weeks after the Palm Beach County Commission failed last month, in a 3-3 tie, to approve a collective bargaining agreement with improved pay and benefits for lifeguards, a new round of bargaining is at an impasse.

The sticking point is the same one on which the lifeguards and the county have deadlocked for years: “special risk.”

The sweeping agreement, reached in November and ratified by lifeguards, would have provided several employee benefits changes that lifeguards have sought for years. The county would have agreed to approve all applications by lifeguards to the state for “special risk” status, which would nearly double the amount of their Florida Retirement System pensions and would allow them to retire earlier. Lifeguards have for years tried to get the county to grant them the status.

Union president Rick Poulette declared the impasse in a Feb. 2 letter to the county, saying the county had said it was “special risk” that is the sticking point.

“As you are aware, this is the main issue that brought us to the bargaining table in the first place and now brings us to the impasse stage that we are currently in,” Poulette wrote.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County Vice Mayor McKinlay now chairs Solid Waste Authority

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McKinlay

Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Melissa McKinlay is the new chair of the Solid Waste Authority’s governing board.

County commissioners who sit as the authority board selected McKinlay Wednesday morning at their regular meeting. The vote was 7-0.

The board then selected as officers two new commissioners; Mack Bernard as vice chair and Dave Kerner as secretary.

Mayor Paulette Burdick had nominated Bernard as authority chair but there was no second. Mary Lou Berger then nominated McKinlay.

McKinlay has been the authority board’s vice chair. She succeeds Hal Valeche, who also has been county vice mayor. By tradition, the county commission’s vice mayor heads the authority’s governing board.

Meetings of the governing board are held every other month at Authority headquarters, 7501 Jog Road, West Palm Beach. Call 561-640-4000 or visit www.swa.org.

Palm Beach County Commission to hear federal priorities today

palm-beach-county-logoThe Palm Beach County Commission will hear a roundup of its federal priorities at today’s meeting.

Part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump now is in the White House, and Palm Beach County officials have been studying how actions taken by his administration could be a boon to the county – or they could block progress in areas where the county can’t succeed without federal help.

Also on today’s agenda:

Animal Care: Will get a report on how the county’s Department of Animal Care and Control collects, and spends, money from rabies tags.

Code: Set to approve the settlement of four large unrelated code violations, reducing penalties from more than $1 million to just thousands.

Court Security: Will get an update on plans to overhaul the security system at the Palm Beach County courts complex.

Jet: Will “receive and file” a resolution passed by town of Atlantis opposing the allowing of jets at Lantana.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting:

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County busts code penalties by more than 90 percent

palm-beach-county-logoFour penalties for unrelated Palm Beach County code violations dating as far back as the 2004 hurricanes are set to be reduced from more than $1 million down to about 9 cents on the dollar, according to a memo for next Tuesday’s Palm Beach County Commission meeting.

The four items will be reduced to 8.6 percent, from $1.076 million to $92,290.

Code enforcement officials have stressed that dramatic reductions are the norm; that the ultimate goal isn’t to collect a big penalty but to get people in compliance.

The four items:

Property in West Palm Beach owned by Marcos Acevedo was hit with three code enforcement liens of September 2008, August 2010 and September 2010 for various maintenance violations. A lien grew to $786,531 as of Dec. 9. Settled for $50,000 (6.4 percent).

A shopping center near Palm Springs owned by South Military Trail LLC was cited for  landscaping issues and draconian “hat-racking” trimming of trees after the 2004 hurricanes. A lien grew to $128,812 as of Nov. 15. Settled for $6,675 (5.2 percent) with a ban on the center operating a cocktail lounge or selling alcohol between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Ramsey Bulkeley, deputy director of Planning, Zoning and Building, which oversees code enforcement, said El Toro Loco, a night club at the center, was for years the site of numerous incidents of violence and crime.

Property near Palm Beach International Airport that’s owned by Florida Land & Timber Corp. was cited for exotic pest trees, standing dead trees and trash dating to 2005.  A lien grew, with interest, to $117,634 as of Nov. 9. settled for $20,665 (17.6 percent).

Property in Lake Worth owned by Carmella Daut and Jean Rene Pierre-Louis was cited for installing a porch without proper permits. Liens grew to $43,348 as of Jan. 3. Settled for $14,950 (34.5 percent).

 

 

 

 

Palm Beach County administrator: We’re not a sanctuary county

trumpsanctuaryOn Thursday night — around the time the mayor of Miami-Dade County relented to pressure from the Trump administration about Miami-Dade’s designation of “sanctuary county” — Palm Beach County commissioners received an email from a “tax paying, registered democrat voting citizen” who urged them to follow the lead of their neighbor to the south.

There’s one problem.

“We never considered ourselves a sanctuary county,” Deputy County Administrator Jon Van Arnam said. “The board of county commissioners never took any action to make ourselves a sanctuary county.”

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said in a statement that it’s Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s policy “to follow Federal law as it relates to federal immigration detention requests. Furthermore, ‘PBC never has been or will be a sanctuary county’, per (Bradshaw.)”

Trump said earlier this week sanctuary cities — locales that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities — could lose millions of federal dollars. Many cities are vowing legal action, arguing the threatened punishment would be unconstitutional.

“Right decision. Strong,” the president tweeted Friday morning of the Miami-Dade action.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Trump flight restrictions top Palm Beach County workshop agenda today

Trump (Getty Images)
Trump (Getty Images)

tfr02When President Donald Trump vacations at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, the Lantana airport will be shut down and general aviation at a dozen airports from Martin County to Fort Lauderdale, including Palm Beach International, will be severely hampered, Palm Beach County commissioners will hear today during a workshop.

Those restrictions could force some private flight operations and flying schools out of business, according to the presentation.

Also on today’s agenda:

A youth services “Strengthening the Steps to Success” master plan.

An update on the county’s library system.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting:

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.  Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County Attorney: We shouldn’t appeal loss on cities paying for Inspector General

 

Nieman
Nieman

Palm Beach County should not appeal to the Florida Supreme Court its setback in its Inspector General OIGlawsuit with area cities, County Attorney Denise Nieman told county commissioners Wednesday night.

“Just because an appeal will not be filed does not mean that this matter is closed,” Nieman said in the email. “Staff will be meeting in the near future to discuss a number of possibilities available for your consideration.”

In November 2010, voters approved creating the Office of Inspector General and requiring cities help pay for it. Fifteen cities sued, arguing the county could not force them to pay. The county won the first legal battle. But the cities appealed, and on Dec. 21, the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled for the cities.

Nieman said she worried that, in an appeal, the Supreme Court could hand down “an unfavorable ruling that could have a negative statewide impact.” She said the county’s efforts “are better spent reviewing all options available to us in light of the (appellate) Court’s opinion, including, but not limited to, service contracts with the municipalities.”

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County Attorney: lifeguard benefits fight must go back to bargaining

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A Palm Beach County Commission package of improved pay and benefits for lifeguards, which failed Tuesday in a 3-3 tie, won’t come back to the commission, at least not right away, County Attorney Denise Nieman has told commissioners.

Because the commission was voting on a collective bargaining agreement, it can’t just bring the issue back at its next meeting, Nieman said Friday in an email. Instead, she said, state law requires that the issue go back to County Administrator Verdenia Baker for a new round of bargaining.

“To be clear, this item is not to be resurrected by a Commissioner at the next or any future meeting,” Nieman wrote. “Instead, it’s back to the negotiating table it goes.”

The sweeping agreement, reached in November, and ratified by lifeguards, would provide several employee benefits changes that lifeguards have sought for years. The biggest was that the county would have agreed to approve all applications by lifeguards to the state for “special risk” status, which would nearly double the amount of their Florida Retirement System pensions and would allow them to retire earlier.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.