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.

Palm Beach County Commission picks Paulette Burdick as mayor

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The Palm Beach County Commission changed the guard Tuesday with laughs, hugs and tears.

The commission also made a surprise pick for its mostly-ceremonial mayor’s post, selecting Paulette Burdick 4-3 over colleague Steven Abrams.

The panel Tuesday said goodbye to Shelley Vana, out by term limits, and Priscilla Taylor, defeated for reelection in August.

It then swore in former state representative Dave Kerner, who won Vana’s seat, and former Delray Beach City Commissioner and former state representative Mack Bernard, who replaces Taylor.

By tradition, outgoing Vice-Mayor Hal Valeche was next in line for mayor. But Valeche, hospitalized for weeks in late October and early November,said Nov. 9 he would not stand for mayor, citing his health.

Since the position was created, the board traditionally has turned to the person who is Vice Mayor and is chairman when the commission sits as the governing board of the Solid Waste Authority. That would be Valeche.

Next up would be Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, the current vice chair of the Solid Waste Authority’s board. But only Burdick and Abrams were nominated Tuesday. McKinlay later was unanimously picked for vice mayor. McKinlay said later she hadn’t sought the top post and was happy with the pick.

Abrams had been the first mayor when the panel switched to the title from “commission chair,” and Kerner said later he voted for Burdick because she hadn’t had the post yet.

In 2013, Burdick, who as vice mayor traditionally would be next in line, was passed over for Shelley Vana in a move she later called “petty” and blamed on her growth-management stances. Burdick said Tuesday that was in the past and she was ready to take on her new duties.

Palm Beach County Commission picks mayor today

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Mack Bernard, middle, greets guests at an election party at Revolutions at City Place Revolutions at City Place West Palm Beach Tuesday August 30, 2016. ( Meghan McCarthy / The Palm Beach Post )
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Kerner
Kerner
PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche
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The Palm Beach County Commission today will swear in two new members and select a mayor.

Democrat Dave Kerner, who’s wrapping up four years as a state representative from suburban Lake Worth, won the race for the central Palm Beach County Commission District 3 seat that Shelley Vana is vacating after today because of term limits. And former Delray Beach City Commissioner and former state Rep. Mack Bernard ousted three-term District 7 Commissioner Priscilla Taylor on Aug. 30.  Newly-reelected County Commissioner Hal Valeche will be sworn into a third term as well.

Not clear: who will be picked for the mostly-ceremonial mayor’s post. Valeche, hospitalized for weeks in late October and early November, said Nov. 9 he would not stand for mayor, citing his health. Since the position of mayor was created in 2013, the board traditionally has turned to the person who is Vice Mayor and is chairman as the commission sits as the governing board of the Solid Waste Authority. That would be Valeche. Next up would be Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, the current vice chair of the Solid Waste Authority’s board.

Also on today’s agenda:

Westlake: A vote to approve changing the boundaries of its Municipal Service Taxing Unit for fire-rescue to include the new city of Westlake.

Cancer Treatment Centers: A vote to approve $357,500 in local incentives for Boca Raton-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which will spend at least $14.,5 million to buy and renovate an existing building for its corporate headquarters.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting: When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Public comment at 2 p.m.  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.

Solution for excess horse manure?

Palm Beach County has a problem – too much horse manure. And that’s not because presidential candidates keep coming here.

No, the county has a vibrant equestrian industry. But some of the waste from those horses is dumped illegally, threatening the environment.

More companies that recycle or process that waste have wanted to set up shop in the county, but residents, wary of the potential odorous effects of such an operation, have shouted NIMBY (not in my backyard).

County officials now hope they have a solution.

Commissioners have given preliminary approval to an amendment of the county’s comprehensive plan that would allow an equestrian waste recycling pilot project to operate in an area called the Glades tier, a large swath of unincorporated farming land west of Wellington and east of Belle Glade.

The goal is to have the operation located close enough to the equestrian hot spot of Wellington but not close enough to Wellington (or to cities in the Glades, for that matter) for it to foul the air of neighborhoods and depress property values.

Commissioner Priscilla Taylor initially expressed concern that the operation would be foisted upon already economically depressed cities in the Glades, but Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose office has been working on the issue, assured her that is not the case.

McKinlay’s district includes the Glades, and she bristled at the suggestion that she would support foisting anything on the area.

Ultimately, commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the amendment, which must be reviewed by state officials before it comes back to the county for final approval.

McKinlay viewed the amendment as a step in the right direction.

“We’ve got hundreds of thousands of tons that need to be disposed of,” she said.

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Many new faces when Palm Beach County commissioners, legislators next meet

palm-beach-county-logoNew faces will abound when the Palm Beach County Commission and the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation hold their annual joint meeting early next year.

County Commissioners and Palm Beach County’s state senators and state representatives will meet from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 4 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

At least two, and as many as four, of the seven county commissioners could be different. District 7 commissioner Priscilla Taylor was ousted by Mack Bernard in August. District 3 Commissioner Shelley Vana stepped down because of term limits. And commissioners Hal Valeche (District 1) and Mayor Mary Lou Berger (District 4) face challengers Nov. 8. Commissioners Melissa McKinlay, Steven Abrams, and Paulette Burdick are in through 2018.

Of the 13 state legislators in the Palm Beach County delegation, only one definitely will return to his post: Rep. Bill Hager, who was reelected without opposition.

Rep. Kevin Rader has been elected to the State Senate. Sen. Joseph Abruzzo moved to the House side and was elected without opposition.  Rep. Dave Kerner left to run for Vana’s county commission seat and Rep. Bobby Powell Jr. stepped down to run for State Senate. Irv Slosberg left the House for a failed State Senate run.

Out by term limits: Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs and Rep. Mark Pafford. Sen. Pat Rooney opted not to seek reelection.

Sen. Joe Negron, scheduled to be the incoming State Senate president, faces a challenger Nov. 8, as does Sen. Jeff Clemens and Reps. Lori Berman and MaryLynn Magar. 

 

 

 

Palm Tran to install 2-seaters for bus riders

image2Palm Tran riders will have more opportunities to take a load off while waiting for the bus. The county bus agency plans to install 24 new bus stop seats at high-ridership locations in places where right-of-way problems prevent them from having a shelter or bench. The 24 stops selected for the seats account for 23,000 or more riders per month.

The 2-seat assembly, by the Simme-Seat company, attaches directly to a bus stop pole. The make it easier for drives to see waiting riders and provide a safer option for riders than sitting on the curb.

The $13,722 for the seats came from a federal grant.

County Commissioner Priscilla A. Taylor and Palm Tran managers will show off one of the new seats at 10:30 a.m. Monday at a stop at the Presidente Supermarket at Linton Square Plaza, at 1565 S. Congress Ave. in Delray Beach.

Body cameras in the PBC budget?

Palm Beach County’s proposed $4.3 billion budget includes money for lots of things. But it doesn’t include a penny for law enforcement body cameras.

For Commissioner Shelley Vana, that’s a problem.

Vana agreed with a call made by fellow Commissioner Priscilla Taylor that body cameras should be purchased for use by Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies.

The cameras, supported by some concerned about law enforcement misconduct, were to be bought with money from an increase in the county’s sales tax. However, as the sales tax debate moved forward, the cameras were removed from the sales tax projects list.

During the first of two public hearings on the proposed 2017 county budget Tuesday night, Vana said she thinks money for the cameras ought to be included in the budget.

“I just think that, if we do a budget without body cameras, it sends a message we’re not serious,” Vana said.

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has said he’d have his deputies wear the body cameras – as long as he didn’t have to account for them in his budget.

Commissioners will hold a final public hearing on the proposed budget on September 19. It’s not clear if commissioners will decided to amend the budge to include the cameras, which, according to County Administrator Verdenia Baker, would cost an estimated $10 million.

Several commissioners have said that, while they are open to the idea of body cameras, they are concerned about ongoing costs associated with their use.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Update: Two Palm Beach County commissioners now lame ducks

IMG_0193When Palm Beach County Commissioners convened this morning as the governing board of the Solid Waste Authority, it was the first of many proceedings this fall in which the 7-member panel contains two lame ducks.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelly Vana
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Commissioner Shelley Vana already was on her way out

Palm Beach County Commissioner District 7, Priscilla A. Taylor in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 22, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
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because of term limits. But 3-term commissioner Priscilla Taylor fell in Tuesday’s election t0 former Delray Beach city commissioner and former state representative Mack Bernard.

As of press time Tuesday night, Bernard had clung to a lead of less than 3 percentage points. In the final overnight tally, which still doesn’t include the small number of provisional ballots, that lead held:

Mack Bernard                41.96%        7,413
Priscilla Ann Taylor     39.02%       6,894
Lawrence Gordon          13.66%       2,414
Robbie T. Littles               5.35%         946
TOTAL: 17,667

For Vana and Taylor, at least for now, years and years of elected office come to a screeching halt; 17 for Taylor and 14 for Vana, who was soundly beaten Tuesday night by longtime Deputy Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks in the race to replace Jacks’ boss, the retiring Gary Nikolits.

At Wednesday morning’s Solid Waste Authority meeting, chair Hal Valeche acknowledge the “bad day” Taylor and Vana had on Tuesday. He said he’ll miss them and thanked them for their service and directed a round of applause.

Taylor refutes claim that she traveled lavishly, missed votes

Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, locked in a re-election battle against three opponents, is pushing back against claims that she has traveled lavishly on the taxpayers’ dime and missed important commission votes.

That’s the claim of a direct mail piece sent out recently to some of Taylor’s constituents by Keeping Citizens First, Inc., which is chaired by local political consultant Rick Asnani.

Asnani is working for one of Taylor’s opponents, Mack Bernard.

“When we needed Priscilla Taylor, she wasn’t around,” the mail piece tells constituents. “When Palm Beach County commissioners were voting on the critical fight to stop the spread of illegal drug distribution pill mills in our neighborhoods…Priscilla didn’t show up. When our County Commission was looking for solutions to prevent youth violence, Priscilla Taylor was sight-seeing somewhere else.”

The mailer then said Taylor missed the 2011 meeting because she was on a “6 night $2,600 taxpayer funded excursion to Portland, Oregon.”

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Taylor

Taylor is an officer in the National Association of Counties and missed the commission meeting to attend a NACo conference. Pill mills weren’t on the commission agenda, and commissioners received and filed a report on the Youth Violence Prevention Project. There was no vote.

Taylor took a dim view of the claims made in the flier.

“I think they’re all untrue,” she said. “I’ve never gone on any sight-seeing excursions when I attended any of those (NACo) meetings. I am an officer. I lead a committee. I have never gone on one of these trips for any vacations at all. Every trip I’ve taken has been strictly for business.”

The anti-Taylor flier isn’t the first one from Asnani’s group that has angered a county commissioner in the last few weeks. Keeping Citizens First attempted to link Commissioner Shelley Vana, a Democrat, to Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s controversial presidential nominee.

Vana is running for property appraiser against Dorothy Jacks, another Asnani client.

In an email to The Palm Beach Post, Asnani said Taylor has missed numerous commission meetings over the years and has made dozens of taxpayer-funded trips that cost a combined $52,000. He also slammed her for attempting to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Taylor has made numerous taxpayer funded trips during her time on the commission, including trips to Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., as well as to various locations for NACo meetings. County staff and/or other commissioners have frequently made the same trips.

Taylor had sought to succeed U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is vacating the seat to run for one in the U.S. Senate.

“It doesn’t seem like she wants to be here,” Asnani wrote. “You can’t govern if you don’t show up and Taylor is spending far too much time in conferences and too little time on constituents.”

Taylor aborted her run for Congress in February and decided to run for re-election to the commission. She has said she was seeking to serve the same constituents in a different capacity.

Taylor defended her attendance at the NACo conferences, arguing that they have provided her and other county officials with ideas that help them better serve residents.

“The information you get is really priceless,” she said. “The value is something we can not replace. To me, it’s worth it.”

Commissioners ask county staff to look into sober homes

Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor has directed county staff members to conduct an overview of sober homes in the county, which have generated opposition from those who feel the private, unregulated facilities lead to increased violence and drug abuse in some communities.

“We as commissioners really need to know what’s going on,” Taylor said during a meeting Tuesday.

It is not clear what staff will review, and there is no timetable for the completion of that review.

Taylor’s colleagues were in general agreement with the notion of a review. Commissioner Shelley Vana added that she wants to know what can be done to make sure sober home operators who solicit for out-of-town clients provide those clients with a way to return to their communities if treatment is unsuccessful and ends early.

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