Mayor Keith James of West Palm Beach announced today the 100 Day Recommendations of his Transition Team and major policy initiatives his administration has taken to improve West Palm Beach.
“It’s been so important to me that I spend my first 100 days as Mayor wasting no time tackling issues that are critical to West Palm Beach, while listening to the community and ensuring a diversity of ideas and experiences to help guide the City forward,” said Mayor James. “We’ve exceeded our goals for this first major benchmark and have incredible momentum to keep doing great things for our city and its people.”
Upon taking office, Mayor James announced the formation of his Mayoral Transition Team, a diverse group of local residents, community leaders and experts who volunteered their time to work with Mayor James and City staff to review City policies and goals.
Consisting of nearly 100 community leaders and chaired by Don Kiselewski, Florida Power and Light executive and Former Chair of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, the Mayor’s Transition Team focused on eight key policy areas. Each policy area had a committee responsible for providing recommendations to the Mayor. The policy committees and their co-chairs included: Arts, Culture, Education and Recreation (co-chaired by Melanie Hill and Phil Growick); Economic Development and Jobs (co-chaired by Veronica Cooper and Neil Merin); Environment and Sustainability (co-chaired by Ann Marie Sorrell and Steve Scherer); Government Efficiency, Budget and Taxes (co-chaired by Elizabeth McBride and Howard Pincus); Homelessness (co-chaired by Sally D. Chester, RN and Jonathan “Jack” Frost); Neighborhoods First (co-chaired by Cathleen D. Ward, Esq. and Greg Mermigas); Public Safety (co-chaired by Joseph Ianno, Jr. and Reverend William Washington); Transportation, Mobility and Transit (co-chaired by Bill Bone and Will Corrente).
“Chairing the Transition Team Committee has been an incredible honor,” stated Mr. Kiselewski. “Mayor James assembled the best and brightest in their fields. We had a shared common goal of focusing on West Palm Beach’s residents and neighborhoods and we held ourselves to the highest standards of ethics and productivity.”
Through its eight policy subcommittees, the Transition Team made a series of recommendations based on their suggested timeline and implementation: immediate (100 Days) and two sets of long-term recommendations (before 2021 and post 2021). The 100 Day Recommendations were ideas and policies that can be implemented within the first 100 Days of Mayor James Administration.
Below is a summary of the 100 Day Recommendations submitted by the Transition Team and being implemented by the City:
Arts, Culture, Education and Recreation
- Create a dedicated channel to communicate the city’s cultural assets and increase visibility of assets through existing communications outlets.
- Review existing signage and wayfinding for cultural assets in an effort to increase and improve signage for residents, visitors and tourists.
- Identify opportunities to expand the Northmore Elementary School model to other schools in West Palm Beach.
- Review existing public transportation routes and connecting city cultural institutions to the trolley line.
Economic Development and Jobs
- Direct the CRA to identify a centrally located job readiness training center in the CRA boundaries.
Environment and Sustainability
- Oppose the lowering of the lake levels of Lake Okeechobee and actively participate in opposition efforts to lower the lake levels.
- Perform a review of the Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District Storm Water System that provides infrastructure services to the West Palm Beach Western Communities.
- Maintain the commitment to the goal of Net Zero 2050.
Government Efficiency, Budget and Taxes
- Create taskforce to work with city staff and IT department to advise on IT opportunities, challenges and network security.
- Implement Six Sigma training across the city departments to improve efficiency.
- Create a position within City Hall to serve as the Homeless Coordinator to monitor the various activities and agencies involved in homelessness issues in the city. Armando Fana will serve in this position.
- Increase training of police officers on how to work and mediate issues with the homeless population during service calls.
- Publicly support the County’s newly proposed Homeless Resource Center. West Palm Beach supported the center at the meeting publicly and with funding.
- Work with local, state and federal leaders to leverage funding, solicit grants and other support to fund additional services, programs and opportunities for the homeless population.
- Build partnerships through a central coordinator with strategic not-for-profit organizations that are focused on neighborhood revitalization.
- Create a position to coordinate city engagement and understanding of neighborhood priorities.
- Create a communications plan that focuses on communicating with neighborhoods about ongoing priorities and projects, improves responsiveness and ensures information is readily available, even for those without access to internet.
- Create a designated liaison between the Mayor and the public safety organizations in the city.
- Research the need and cost associated with funding a position/role of a grant writer for the city to assist the public safety departments in acquiring additional funding and resources.
Transportation, Mobility and Transit
- Improve traffic signalization of major arteries, including Okeechobee Blvd, by working with the county on immediate modifications and long-term solutions to improve signal timing.
- Review the cost of a joint study with the county on a pedestrian crossing along Okeechobee Blvd.
- Formally request the Coast Guard to adjust the middle bridge opening and closing timing during rush hour traffic.
- Provide discounted employee parking for downtown service businesses.
- Use funding from increase in downtown parking meter fees to fund additional transit and transportation solutions.
- Create a director of Mobility within City Staff to oversee transportation issues citywide and oversight of the city transit system.
- Review long-term solutions to public transit, including the use of Electric Coaches, to replace the city’s existing trolley system.
- Create a taskforce to advise on creating the “last mile of connectivity” between neighborhoods and transit hubs.
These recommendations were part of a series of 100 Day Recommendations the Transition Team submitted to the Mayor. The goal of the 100 Day Recommendations were to evaluate low hanging fruit of issues and opportunities upon which the city could quickly act!
Since April 2019, the Transition Team has held over 35 meetings and will be submitting its final report with the long-term recommendations in late August.
During the first 100 days, Mayor James also implemented a series of significant changes to better reflect his vision for West Palm Beach. To ensure greater accountability and efficiency, Mayor James reorganized the structure of the City Administration providing for greater accountability from each of the city’s areas of service.
Public safety being Job #1 for the city, Mayor James reorganized the police department with Frank Adderley being sworn in as the new police chief. Chief Adderley is charged with reducing violent crime and implementing intelligence-led policing efforts with a focus on community policing.
Mayor James has appointed Tiffany David to oversee the city’s Neighborhoods First Initiative. Acting as an advocate for each of the city’s neighborhoods, Tiffany is charged with problem solving and providing feedback on issues affecting our neighborhoods.
The Mayor has also created The Office of Equal Opportunity headed by Frank Hayden. This office is charged with ensuring that small and minority companies can actively participate in the city’s economic growth.
Focused on creating a community of opportunity for all, Mayor James recently appointed Jose Tagle to serve as outreach coordinator for the City on Hispanic and Latin affairs.
Read a list of all members of the Transition Team Committee here: https://wpb.org/News-Video/Archive-News/MAYOR-KEITH-JAMES-MARKS-FIRST-100-DAYS-WITH-BOLD-I