For a city its size, this one is remarkably well blogged.
There are not one but two “what’s happening” blogs, one on Facebook, both faithfully updated for every conceivable event that happens in or near the city.
“I never party in Lake Worth,” a city official confided, “because I don’t want to see myself in a blog.”
Bloggers Wes Blackman and Lynn Anderson sit on opposite sides of the aisle at city commission meetings, and they are often at odds. Both are passionate observers, both say they function as truth-tellers, as they see it.
Anderson sits quietly, annotating pages of backup material from the agendas.
Blackman, who lives in the College Park neighborhood at the north end of the city, is easier to spot because he sets up a small video cam on a tripod, posting portions of his recordings on his blog, which he started in 2006, or on his YouTube page.
“A blogger has more freedom than someone in a buttoned-down newspaper,” said Blackman, who worked in urban planning in Michigan before moving to Florida.
For example, Blackman posted dozens of pages, a veritable War and Peace of testimony by former city commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill in the Greater Bay Group’s case against the city. Greater Bay, a development company, got a $1.6 million settlement from the city. Mulvehill’s testimony was considered key to the city’s settling with the developer.
“It really has increased traffic (on the blog) because it pulled the veil aside and showed what really was going on in that period of time,” Blackman said.
In another entry he included video of Anderson and a long blog entry about another issue about which the two are at loggerheads. Blackman considers the appointment of two people hired to encourage residents to register during the 2010 census as a “back room deal.” Anderson defended the census workers, who were paid $20,000 with a $6,000 events budget.
“I simply bring this up as some people in the city really want to reinvent the facts at the cost of maligning someone’s character and reputation,” Anderson told commissioners.
“The reason why I do the blog is to peel away all the emotional stuff and rumors and frame the issues the way they should be framed,” said Blackman, twice a candidate for city commission.
Blackman figures he gets about 1,000 unique visits a week to his blog, with readers checking in every two or three days.
Blackman also hosts a weekly web radio show, “High Noon in Lake Worth,” interviewing city and county officials.
In the beginning, before there was Blackman or Anderson, there was Jim Stafford.
“He is kind of the lost sea scrolls, the first message board in Lake Worth,” Blackman said.
Then there was indefatigable local activist Mary Lindsey, who ended her “Panda Papers” blog this summer in order to gear up her efforts in neighborhood associations and other volunteer activities.
Anderson grew up in Lake Worth in the early 1950s, left after high school and returned when she was 25 to live in a condo on Lake Osborne.
She started blogging about five years ago. She attends every commission meeting. But she does not limit herself to Lake Worth, commenting on national and world events. She reckons she gets about 50,000 hits a month.
Anderson says she spends much of every day – from 6:30 in the morning to 8:30 in the evening — blogging, reading mail, monitoring comments.
A registered Democrat, she says she’s experienced a sea change in her beliefs in recent years. Acknowledging that her point of view might be an irritant in a city dominated by left-leaning politics, she says, “Some hate some of what I write. The other side hates the rest.”
A recent post shows a bullet with Blackman’s name on it and the notations “It’s a dud” and “Bully Blogger.”
Blackman added this comment to Anderson’s blog:
“I don’t like having a bullet with my name on it Lynn and I don’t believe the other people do either. Don’t flatter yourself, my numbers are up due to other content, not your picture. It was your personal attack Lynn – look in the mirror.”
Marshall Pass and Anna Maria Hunt take a strictly nonpartisan approach to blogging, with updates on events in the city and surrounding area.
Anna Maria Windisch-Hunt was a gallery owner in Coconut Grove for 15 years before heading north. After moving to Vero Beach, where Hurricane Wilma destroyed her husband Fred Hunt’s art studio, the couple decided that Lake Worth was the ideal place.
Windisch-Hunt attends city commission meetings. The blog, which she started as an electronic love letter for Lake Worth, contains a running conversation on art, music and food.
Sitting in the back of city commission chambers, tapping away on his tablet and smartphone, Pass surely holds the record for speedy blogging, updating his page at least a couple times per meeting. Pass declined to be interviewed for this story after being told that Anderson would be mentioned in it.