Seems mighty tempting at times.

There’s a growing sentiment that tech companies are spiraling out of control these days.
There’s even a hashtag expressing the sentiment: #techlash.

Facebook is being questioned around the world for its role in sowing electoral discontent and losing control of  its user’s personal data. As a result, its stock has tumbled this week.
Twitter has been assailed for bullying and misogyny and Google and YouTube have had to answer questions about questionable search results and ads from less than savory groups populating it’s platforms.
It’s enough to make you want to live off the grid like my old commission teammate and dear friend Bob Costin.

At way over 6 feet tall we called Bob the “high commissioner” and often joked that he violated Delray’s strict height limits.
Bob was a wonderful commissioner with a terrific sense of humor but he and the Internet weren’t acquainted.

He didn’t have email, didn’t read documents online and if you wanted to talk to him you had to do it the old fashioned way: call him or visit his table at the old Green Owl.
He was there most mornings by 10 a.m.
Ahh..the good old days.
But my point is during my time in office 2000-07, if you wanted to vent you had to email, call or make an appointment.

Prior commissions—pre email—would eagerly await snail mail from their neighbors; so if you wanted to opine you had to write a letter, find an envelope, buy a stamp and look up an address before you could put your thoughts in front your mayor or commissioner.

Today, we have Facebook and other social media platforms where a robust debate rages 24-7 and city politics are a hot topic.

There’s no filter. No fact checkers. No obligation at all to be civil– short of threatening bodily harm which may get you booted—eventually.
It’s changed the game.

As  a result, lots of people don’t want to subject themselves to the abuse, bullying, misinformation and vitriol shelled out by a wide variety of charmers and so they don’t participate in local politics.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have rarely if ever visited most local Facebook pages devoted to Delray politics and recently opted out of one page I was a “member” of. I won’t judge those who indulge, I just don’t want to.

If the platforms featured intelligent debate, I might feel differently.

But what I saw during the recent election cycle was something less than intelligent or interesting.

What did I see?  Anger, division, polarization, innuendo, lies, attacks, hatred.
We should be better than this.
We need to be better than this.
Truth be told, I saw some kindness too. But the ratio of mean to nice is not even close.
And so I’m out.

I will continue to enjoy Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In for other things such as sharing pictures of my dogs and birds, promoting local causes and businesses that I like, reading and sharing interesting articles and staying in touch with old friends, favorite teachers and distant relatives.

As for my old friend Bob Costin: he called me in the days leading up to the election blissfully unaware of the toxicity on the Internet.
He’s still not online. He still doesn’t have email.

And he still uses his favorite line when asked why: “my modem is down” before breaking into a laugh I’ve grown to love and cherish.
But despite Bob’s conscious decision to keep his modem on ice, he’s very much rooted in modern life. He’s up on the news (through newspapers), embraces change and is always fun and interesting to talk to.
He was a progressive commissioner back in the day, open to new ideas and had a few of his own as well.

He told me no candidate contacted him before the election. He wasn’t complaining just stating a fact.

But I thought to myself ‘what a shame’ because Bob has so much to share.
And it made me think that at least locally, we ought to make an effort to connect face to face.

We used to have town hall meetings, charettes, neighborhood dinners, community visioning sessions, citizen goal setting workshops and even roasts.
These are the things that build community.

This is why efforts such as WiseTribe, Creative Mornings, Old School Square, Chambers of Commerce, festivals, green markets and pet parades are so important.
It’s harder to demonize someone standing in front of you. It’s easy to do so online.

And if you can’t demonize someone you may find that there is common ground amidst the very real differences. Or at the very least, we may realize that those differences are heartfelt and honest –rooted in beliefs  sincerely held.

Social media has its place. But when it starts to erode community and humanity, count me out.
I think I will stick to pictures of my dogs sleeping and videos of my birds singing.
It feels a whole lot safer this way.

Public Leadership (Doesn’t Have To Be An Oxymoron)

Former Mayor Nancy Graham.

I’m a big fan of ULI, the Urban Land Institute, a global organization that promotes sustainable land use and good design.
So when I was asked to appear on a panel on public leadership with two mayors I admire—West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and former West Palm Mayor Nancy Graham– I jumped at the opportunity.
My son lives in downtown West Palm Beach and so I visit more often than usual these days. I think the city has  some great things going on including start up incubators, some interesting restaurants and the new and exciting Grandview Public Market which has invigorated the Warehouse District.
Mayor Muoio, Mayor Graham and the citizens of West Palm have a lot to be proud of.

Mayor Graham was a transformational leader who put together the groundbreaking deal for City Place and brought walkability expert Jeff Speck to the city years ago to promote vibrant mixed use and pedestrian friendly development.
We’ve  been friends for years and it was good to see her back in West Palm after years in California. She lives in North Florida these days and remains a very vocal advocate for city’s and her beliefs.
We spoke to a group of young leaders who work in land use, planning, architecture, transportation, development, housing and other important disciplines.

Takeaways included the need to have political courage, the need to engage the public around development issues, the importance of having a vision and sticking with it in the face of opposition and the critical need for mayors to always be learning, evolving and leading.

After all, a bright future is not guaranteed. It  needs to be earned and it requires work, vigilance and determination.
Mayors are uniquely positioned to drive positive change. Local government is perhaps the last bastion of progress and possibilities.
Washington D.C. and state capitals tend to be partisan and therefore prone to gridlock and obstruction.
Cities and counties have unique opportunities to effectuate change and think long term.

But only if they choose to do so. I’ve seen many cities seize opportunities and make miraculous progress.
Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and an array of rust belt cities have managed to come back to life through reinvention, strategic investment and political will.
I enjoy reading stories about Detroit and other cities that are finding ways to reverse decades of decay.  It’s inspiring and gives you faith that problems can be solved.

Locally, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Pompano Beach, West Palm and Fort Lauderdale are interesting examples of cities that have employed vision, investment and public engagement to forge promising futures.
Each city was wise to choose its own strategy and “style”.

Delray’s scale and emphasis on the arts, culture, sports and diversity proved to be a winning formula that has paved the way to attract creative industries.  If we stay the course, market our amenities and add to the vision we can have more progress and solve our ongoing challenges.

Pompano Beach is pursuing an innovation district as an anchor offering. The city has made impressive strides in recent years.

West Palm seems to be embracing its role as the county seat and has aspirations to be an important city and not just a ‘hallway’ to the airport, Palm Beach and county government as the mayor noted.
I love cities that aspire. I respect cities that have ambitions, plan for the future and honor the past.
Forward thinking. Political will. Vision. Engagement. Strategic investment. That’s the formula.
I’m glad to see ULI embracing the next generation of leadership. It was a joy to be in the room with energetic leaders who want to build anew and take our cities to the next level.
We have a bright future as a result of these efforts.

Mayor Muio.


“If you don’t know why something is working when it is, you won’t know how to fix it when it breaks.” – Craig Groeschel


There’s a lot of writing about cities that refers to something called the  “civic fabric.”

Civic fabric refers to the framework/structure/material that make up communities.

The best leaders add to the fabric—they strengthen, invest in and tend to the framework that make places special.

The opposite of leadership is tearing at the fabric.

When you start to pull threads, you risk fraying the material and risking the structure.

For five years, in my opinion, we have torn viciously at the fabric—and as a result 30 plus years of municipal progress, civic pride and the marrow that makes our community special is at risk.

It doesn’t give me or others who feel the same way I do pleasure to write those sentences. And speaking truth to power certainly hasn’t been easy. Those who do pay a price…civic projects, causes, businesses, non-profits and friends have been hurt because they have not gone along to get along.

That’s OK.

It’s important to be able to look in the mirror and say you have stood up for your beliefs.

But the temptation is there to capitulate or just throw in the towel.

After all, you might be granted approvals for your projects or initiatives, instead of seeing them litigated, delayed and ridiculed—even if you have a contract (Matchpoint), won an RFP (iPic) or played by the city’s rules (Atlantic Crossing).

My advice: don’t.

Don’t give up.

Continue to stand up, speak your piece and move forward.

If your favorite candidate won the election last night, congratulations.

Local elections can be brutal affairs.

The arguments are personal because we see the combatants around town—we live in each other’s neighborhoods, go to the same stores and restaurants and know each other’s friends and supporters.

But if you won, the work is just beginning.

Serving in local elected office—or any elected office—is a privilege and an honor. As is winning an election. But all it means is that you have a chance to serve and an opportunity to make a difference.

You’re on first base, you still have to get home. And we hope you do, because if you succeed the community succeeds. We all win.

If you lost last night, it’s hard.

I’ve backed many candidates who have lost. It happens. I’ve backed a few winners too.

If you backed someone you believe in, take pride in that. Because something as precious as your hometown should not be about picking winners, it should be about backing someone you believe in.

I believe in Ryan Boylston and was pleased to see a talented young leader with ideas and aspirations for Delray win. Our newspaper endorsed Adam Frankel and he won over an impressive debut from Eric Camacho who I hope runs again. We are also pleased to see Bill Bathurst, a lifelong Delray resident, get elected unopposed. Bill is a very nice man with a lot of ideas and a tremendous passion for Delray.

Many—myself included– were disappointed to see Jim Chard lose, but we want to see Shelly Petrolia succeed as our next mayor because cities do better when mayors succeed.

For those who are disappointed, my advice is to play the long game and stick to your beliefs, because over time it pays off.

My hope is that the new mayor and commissioners are servant leaders who engage, listen, unite, compromise and learn on the job.

Because the fabric begins to fray when favorites are played and rules are ignored, bent, spindled and mutilated to reward friends or punish enemies.

The fabric tears when a city’s volunteers and staff feel put upon, disrespected and disparaged; when City Hall becomes a place you fear rather than a trusted partner.

We are a city in need of healing. That’s my opinion and that’s why I backed who I backed.

That doesn’t change regardless of outcome.

To those who don’t feel that we are in need of healing, you ought to talk to the volunteers in this town or the employees who often can’t afford to speak out so they either remain silent or vote with their feet and leave us for other cities.

That said, I vowed after this election to take a break from some of the local sites on social media regardless of the outcome.

While I’ve never participated in most of them, I did look at one in particular run by good people. But when I found myself arguing with someone I grew up, I decided that it was a sign to cease and desist.

It’s not the folks I’ve never (or barely met) that bother me—how can they because we don’t know each other?

It’s when the people you do know start buying into a narrative that you know in your bones is false, that you need to step away because it’s no good for anyone.

I’m beginning to believe that social media is tearing at the fabric of our community.

I want to revisit this idea of civic fabric, because when you start to pull threads you don’t know which one will trigger the collapse.

Is it losing the St. Patrick’s Day Parade after 50 years? Is it telling every craft brewery to look elsewhere?
Is it calling the CEO of a publicly traded company who wants to come here that he’s an “amateur?”

Is it referring to the founder of Old School Square as “that woman?” Or is it telling your police officers and firefighters that they are replaceable?

I’m not sure. But I know those are examples of pulling threads—ripping at the fabric.

I want to see leaders who lift us up. That’s their primary job, even when (maybe especially when) we see things differently.




Decision Time

Well…we did it again.

We managed to go through an election season without a substantive debate on the issues or a respectful discussion of ideas.

We did however manage to lie, label, disrespect, disparage and sling vitriol at each other with great fervor. And we wonder why people won’t run for public office…

Still, there are some emerging trends we should pay attention too if our goal is to be a stronger community.  One in particular that I think we ought to pay closer attention to are the attacks on a candidate’s supporters and their motives.

This year it has been open season on those who endorse or contribute financially to campaigns. But what if your goal is not to corrupt, but to support someone you believe in? What if your motive is good government? Are we that cynical that we preclude those motives as a possibility. As for economic interests, are we that myopic to label donors selfish just because they may wish to invest in our community and they support candidates that they believe will be reasonable or at least follow the local rules?

That said, I want to share with you a list of some (NOT ALL) of my civic heroes. Many of whom were subject to cynical remarks on social media this  cycle by people– who for the most part–  we’ve never seen serve our community. If they weren’t attacked,  many were dismissed as being unimportant as if endorsements and support don’t matter. I disagree. Here’s why:

Frances Bourque-words can’t describe Frances’ impact on Delray Beach. The founder of Old School Square, lifetime achievement award winner, historic preservation icon. Her vision gave us a place to gather and with it a sense of community.

Tom Lynch—three term mayor, School Board Chair, founding chairman of the CRA, lifetime achievement award winner, accomplished businessman and visionary. We recovered our civic pride as a result of his leadership.  Delray won its first All America City Award and was named the “Best Run Town in Florida” on his watch.

Doak Campbell-former mayor and commissioner. The Atlantic Avenue Task Force, Visions 2000, the creation of the CRA and the establishment of the first historic districts happened during Doak’s era.

Jay Alperin-former mayor and commissioner. 10 plus years service on the city commission. Past chair of Old School Square and the Chamber.

David Schmidt—former mayor and commissioner, president of Sister Cities, long time contributor to the Morikami Museum and someone who I sat next to on the commission for three years. David was a terrific mayor with a model temperament.

Yvonne Odom—civic icon who was the first African American to attend Atlantic High. Mentor to hundreds of young people for decades.

Rita Ellis—my successor as mayor. Past Chamber Chair, past chair of the Downtown Development Authority, longtime Beach Property Owners Association leader and successful business owner.

Bill Branning-two time chair of Old School Square, one of the best CRA commissioners ever, Vice chair of the Chamber, successful businessman and dedicated volunteer. Bill is devoted to all things Delray.

Cathy Balestriere– Past chair of the chamber, CRA commissioner, driving force behind Crane’s Beach House and growing Delray as a “destination.” Active in scores of Delray non-profits.

Scott Porten—a dreaded developer, who took a drive through car wash and gave us Citywalk with places like Brule and took a troubled area of town and gave us The Estuary. Scott is a devoted volunteer serving on City boards, chairing Old School Square and the Chamber and helping to lead the Beach Property Owners for years. He loves this city and gives back constantly. You WANT developers with Scott’s level of concern and passion for the city. Because they care about what they build.

Bill Morris—another developer who chairs Old School Square, supports FAU, the Boys and Girls Club and loves this city with all his heart.

Joe Gillie—longtime president of Old School Square who helped us win all three All America City Awards. Joe is Delray. Period.

Fran Marincola—longtime proprietor of the landmark Caffe Luna Rosa, 19 years on the Parking Management Advisory Board, past chair of the DDA, past chair of the Sandoway House Nature Center and longtime BPOA leader, Fran has a heart of gold. He’s devoted to Delray.

Jestena Boughton—historic preservationist and owner of the historic Colony Hotel, Jestena is a delight who has done so much for our town.

Susan Ruby—former City Attorney, leader in Del Ida and a personal touchstone of mine.

Ann Gannon– Palm Beach County’s Tax Collector, former state legislator, devoted to Delray and good government.

Chuck Halberg– I don’t know anyone who loves Delray more or who gives more than Chuck.

Dave Henninger–gave so much to this community especially the Achievement Center, Chamber, Lake Ida neighborhood etc.

David Randolph—long time city commissioner and mentor to so many.

Zack Staghn–decades of service to the community, mentor to countless leaders and devoted civil rights champion.

The list of people and organizations involved in this year’s campaign goes on and on. Amazing young leaders: Connor Lynch, Craig Spodak, Emanuel Dupree Jackson Jr., Lee Cohen, Sgt. Gary Ferreri, Rob Long, Kate Volman, Jason Bregman, Joe Collard, Rob Posillico, Amanda Perna, Matt Shipley, Steve Mackey and more.  Neighborhood leaders from WARC, the Northwest/Southwest Alliance, Del Ida, Seacrest, etc. etc.  Unions representing Fire, Police, general employees–the people who protect and serve us.  Organizations ranging from the realtors association to the Human Rights Council and more. Stellar long time contributors such as Fred Fetzer, Jon Levinson, Gary Eliopoulos, Nancy Dockerty, Bob Currie, Bill Nix, Zack Straghn, Cathy Weil, Shirl Fields, Mark Sauer, Suzanne Spencer, Joycelyn Patrick, Rick Caster, Christina Morrison, Bruce Bastian, Ingrid Kennemer and more.
Many of these people and organizations have been labeled: special interests, good old boys, the Establishment and worse.
But they are the people and the groups that are Delray. They represent the past, the present and the  future of our city.
They are the volunteers devoted to this community. The ones who give their time, their talents and their treasure to this town.
They back Jim Chard for Mayor. Most of the above also back Ryan Boylston for commissioner. (Fire backed his opponent, Police stayed out).
Can they all be wrong?
I don’t think so.
They know Delray. They care about Delray.
They’re not special interests. They are the backbone of this City.
And like me they want change. Unity not division. Progress not indecision and infighting. Leadership not bullying.
Tomorrow we have a chance to help Delray.
It’s Election Day.
Please vote.

Leadership Is The Most Important Currency

Tina Turner was right.

A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine sent me an article about one of my favorite subjects: leadership.


There are a lot of articles and books about leadership and to be honest a great many of them miss the mark, but this particular article was one of the best I’ve ever read on the subject and I feel the need to tell you about it especially as voters go to the polls in Delray and Boca on March 13.


Basically, the author argues that there are two styles of leadership: a “hero” and a “host.”


The hero leader takes everything on by herself; he or she assumes all responsibilities and wants to be seen as the savior; the hero per se of the story.


Inevitably, hero leaders fail, because nobody– regardless of talent, intellect and energy level–can do it all. No man or woman, as the saying goes is an island.


Once the hero slips, we are quick to abandon them as yet another in a long line of people who failed to live up to their promises.


So what happens? Well, invariably we look for a new and better hero and the cycle continues building cynicism every step of the way.


We have all seen the hero phenomenon play out in our lives, whether it’s a hot shot CEO who is going to come in and turn it all around or a candidate who is going to get under the hood and by sheer force of will fix what everybody else has been unable to mend.


It’s the story of American politics at every level of government.


Which is why so many of us are disgusted right around this time of year as we cope with a barrage of expensive and slick campaign ads telling us how (fill in the blank) is going to fight for the people and fix everything from crime and taxes to schools and  traffic.


But the crop of heroes will fail. It’s inevitable.


So are we relegated to an endless cycle of failure, frustration and phonies? Or is there a better way?

Fortunately, there is a better and much more effective leadership style—that of the host, not the hero.


The host is a collaborator, a motivator, a convener and an alchemist who brings people and resources together to tackle problems, meet challenges and seize opportunities.


He or she doesn’t try to do it alone and does not pretend to have all the answers.


Rather, they believe in the wisdom of the crowd and in hosting conversations and problem solving exercises that really and truly move the needle.


I happen to think this is the best leadership approach possible. Not only does it involve people, but it challenges them to think and work together. And when they do come up with solutions , there is automatic buy-in because they were part of the process. They were engaged, someone bothered to ask them what they thought and trusted in their abilities to figure things out.


Can this work on a local level?

Absolutely, Delray Beach is a prime example of a community that re-invented itself through visioning, and extensive and ongoing community engagement beginning with the Atlantic Avenue Task Force in the mid-80s, Visions 2000 in the late 80s and 90s and through the Citizen’s Downtown Master Planning Process in the 2000s. And then we stopped.


We get in trouble when we veer away from that formula either through failing to engage residents or having elected officials think they are heroes who can do it all, and let us know about it later.


Can it work on the national level?

Well, that’s a trickier beast to deal with. But perhaps it could… if presidents saw themselves (and more importantly) we viewed them as above partisanship and if somehow they could lead by “hosting” rather than dictating policies. But this only works if Congress can get over its hyper-partisanship and remember they are there to do a job and get things done for Americans; a simple concept that seems to be hopelessly lost at the moment.


Regardless, next time you see a mayor beating his chest, or a gubernatorial candidate promising to save Florida remember the host and hero dynamic and ask yourself when the last time someone succeeded without being a host.

Campaign Rhetoric & Truth

Two years have passed since the Task Force completed it’s report.

Ahhh campaigns.

Or should I say oy…. campaigns?
We are at the height of the silly season with 8 days left until Election Day in Delray and the insults, innuendo and flat out lies are flying.
I thought I’d delve into two whoppers but first a disclaimer: I’ve endorsed Jim Chard for mayor (not a shocker he’s got a slew of endorsements including from six other past mayors) and Ryan Boylston. So if you need to stop reading here that’s ok. We understand.

The two campaign barbs I want to explore relate to new urbanism and the Congress Avenue Task Force.
One mail piece attacked Mr. Chard for having a “new urbanist” agenda as if  that was some sort of hideous malady. So I thought I’d clarify.
Here’s the definition of new urbanism: “New Urbanism is a planning and development approach based on the principles of how cities and towns had been built for the last several centuries: walkable blocks and streets, housing and shopping in close proximity, and accessible public spaces. In other words, New Urbanism focuses on human scaled urban design. 

Have mercy…who would want that?!
Perhaps, sprawl –which promotes traffic and uses more resources (which is bad for the environment)– would be a better approach?
We think not.

Folks, Delray has long embraced the concepts of new urbanism. It’s been the strategy and game plan and it’s achieved some pretty impressive results.
Someone either wasn’t paying attention to the past 30 years or they really think sprawl and large seas of asphalt parking lots are charming.
Which is a nice segue to Congress Avenue.

I was asked to chair the Congress Avenue Task Force a few years back and we assembled three dozen volunteers who worked for the better part of a year to produce a plan for the important corridor.
We were proud of our work and thought we produced a viable and exciting plan to create jobs, housing and tax base on what has been an underperforming corridor.
We wanted to create ‘Delray’s next great street.’
The commission “accepted” the report (whatever that means) praised it publicly and then let it gather dust on a shelf.
It’s not wise to waste the efforts of volunteers especially when one of our top recommendations was to get moving right away.

Anyway, one of the campaign mailers attacked Mr. Chard for the plan, unfair on many levels because while Jim was a major contributor, he was part of a larger team.

I find it poor form to attack the work of volunteers especially when you don’t bother to attend a single meeting and especially when you are misrepresenting the work of the task force for political gain.
At no point did the task force recommend narrowing Congress Avenue. We did talk about making the road safer, more efficient and more aesthetically pleasing. There was also discussion on creating a job creating destination instead of a speedway to jobs in Boca and Boynton Beach.

A member of the task force called me expressing disgust at the mailer.
It’s just politics I said.
But I was quickly corrected: “well it’s unacceptable to throw volunteers under the bus by lying about what we recommended.”
Yes it is.
But that’s where we are these days.
And it’s why citizens tune out and why they don’t trust politicians.
Vote accordingly.
But please vote. It’s important.

And the Oscar Goes To…

As we look toward the Academy Awards this weekend, I thought we’d take a break from our regular programming to talk movies. My friend Fran Marincola, founder of Caffe Luna Rosa in Delray Beach, is a movie expert. I am– admittedly– a wannabe; I love the movies but struggle to find the time to see as many as I’d  like. Fran sees them all.  Our friendship started with an argument 18 years ago over parking in which we talked (loudly) until both of our phones died. We charged up and resumed a 20 year debate on a whole range of topics. We even argue when we agree. It’s weird and also good natured. We argue via the phone, in person and via text message. My favorite quote from Fran is: “Don’t interrupt me, when I’m interrupting you.”

I’ve learned a lot and he has terrific stories. In that spirit, I reblog a piece that we just published in The Delray and Boca Newspaper. Here’s a look at our picks from the upcoming Academy Awards. in a future edition we will list our top 100 movies of all time, which we have been working on for several years with a lot of loud discussion.


Here is the list of 2018 Oscar nominations and our picks:


Best Picture:

“Call Me by Your Name”

“Darkest Hour”


“Get Out”

“Lady Bird”

“Phantom Thread”

“The Post”

“The Shape of Water”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Jeff’s pick: My friend Fran is enamored of Three Billboards. I liked it too. But…I think the Academy is going to go for something more inspiring and so I’m going with the Darkest Hour.

Fran: The Shape of Water will win, how Jeff can’t see that is astounding to me.


Lead Actor:

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”

Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”

Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”

Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Jeff’s pick: Gary Oldman became Churchill. I don’t think Fran will disagree. But will the Academy reward the retiring Daniel Day-Lewis and why is he retiring anyway?

Fran’s pick: Finally, we agree. Oldman will win. We haven’t agreed on anything since 2002. Mark this down.

Lead Actress:

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”

Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”

Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Jeff’s pick: Fran will like Frances because they have same first name. I thought she was good, but one note grumpy. Give me nuance and give me romance and so the envelope will go to Sally Hawkins.

Fran’s pick: Frances McDormand is a lock. And not because we share a name. She was the best period.


Supporting Actor:

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”

Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”

Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”

Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Jeff’s pick: Again, Fran’s love for Three Billboards will lead him to pick either Woody Harrelson or Sam Rockwell. Will they split the vote and tip it to Christopher Plummer who saved his film by stepping in for Kevin Spacey? Willem Dafoe should win. Sam Rockwell will win.

Fran’s pick: Sam Rockwell will win. Jeff needs a Plummer to unclog his taste.

Supporting Actress:

Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”

Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”

Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Jeff’s pick: I loved Lady Bird, Mudbound was great but hard to watch, but Allison Janney stole I, Tonya which was hard to do because Margot Robbie was sublime. Fran will be on thin ice here if he doesn’t agree (pun intended). There’s just no skating around that Janney is the best pick.

Fran pick: Allison Janney will win. We agree on two things–I’m stunned.



“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan

“Get Out,” Jordan Peele

“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig

“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson

“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

Jeff’s pick: Please give it to Jordan Peele. Although Greta Gerwig is also deserving. Still, it’s a rare film indeed that wins best picture but not director. Since my pick for best pic is not even nominated, I will go out on a limb and go with Mr. Peele.

Fran’s pick: Guillermo Del Toro, the film got 14 nominations! Jeff ignores this because his knowledge of film is limited to Caddyshack and Stripes. And he thought Lady Bird was about Lady Bird Johnson.


Enjoy the weekend and see you on the red carpet.




Things We Loved In February…

The brand new (and gorgeous Arts Warehouse).

Mighty Max Delivers for the Arts Garage

E Street Band Drummer, Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer and proud Delray resident Max Weinberg sold out two shows at the Arts Garage in February to raise money for the organization.

Max Weinberg’s Jukebox is an ingenious idea. Drawing from over 300 songs from the 60s and 70s, Max and his incredible band (three quarters of New Jersey’s Weeklings) play music that the crowd wants to hear from monitors scrolling song titles throughout the venue.

The performance was amazing with songs ranging from The Beatles and Rolling Stones to Steppenwolf and of course Bruce Springsteen. It was a party—with people dancing, singing and just having a great time.

After years behind the kit, Max proves to be a great band leader engaging the crowd, talking about his love for Delray, the Arts Garage and Haagen Daz chocolate ice cream. He even sprinkled in some yiddishisms (always a treat).

After an energetic two shows, he eagerly greeted fans backstage.

We’ve gotten to know Max over the past year and have shown him the sights of his new hometown. What impressed us the most was that he dived into all of the city’s websites reading master plans and visioning documents in an effort to understand the city. He’s a big fan of Delray Beach, especially our community’s support for the arts and culture.

He also happens to be a truly nice guy who has lived an amazing life and is generous with his time and stories.

Max is a powerful drummer with a great feel for the classic songs of the rock era. If you have a chance, run don’t walk to see the Jukebox on their tour.

P.S. we were treated to two songs by Max’s daughter, Ali Rogin, a journalist for ABC News. She did a great version of “Somebody to Love” and “Different Drum”, sounding every bit as good as Grace Slick and Linda Ronstadt.

Kudos to Arts Garage Board Chair Chuck Halberg and President Marjorie Waldo for pulling this special fundraiser off and for doing incredible work at an important local arts venue.

Happy 70th Rotary

Bexley Trail Community Park is now 106 trees richer thanks to some pretty awesome members of our community.

Community Greening teamed up with the Delray Beach Rotary Club and added 70 cypress trees and 36 slash pines to the landscape. The Rotary Club generously donated all of the cypress trees for the event, and volunteers from The Young Professionals Association of Delray Beach came out to help plant the trees.

“The Rotary Club of Delray Beach is proud to have been invited by Community Greening to improve Delray Beach’s ecosystem with the planting of 70 trees,” said Rotary Club President John Fischer.

The Delray Rotary is also celebrating its 70th birthday this year.

I was unable to attend their birthday event, which featured some past mayors but bought a few seats and I hope others had a chance to celebrate this outstanding group which has done so much for Delray Beach.



Negroni’s Trio

Speaking of the Arts Garage, we enjoyed a great show by Grammy nominated Negroni’s Trio this month.

The jazz band features a father and son duo from Puerto Rico, a bassist from Venezuela and two talented singers from Miami.

It was a joyous evening of stellar playing and singing.

The group mentioned three times during the show that the Arts Garage was their favorite venue in the world. Yep, the world.

They have good taste, catch them when they return to Delray.

Losing a community legend

A few weeks back we wrote about Vince Canning, who received a well-deserved proclamation from the City Commission recognizing a lifetime of service to the people of Delray.

Sadly, Mr. Canning passed in February, shortly after receiving the honor.

We send our condolences to Mr. Canning’s friends and family.

As someone wrote on social media, Vince Canning was part of the fabric of this community. Indeed, he was.

A very strong thread who touched a lot of lives; mine included.


Delray Beach Open

Congratulations to the Delray Beach Open.

The tennis event crowned a new star—20 year-old American Francis Tiafoe won his first ATP event—and set a new attendance record.

We enjoyed a few sessions and it was really great to see so many top 20 players and past legends including John McEnroe entertain local fans.

Estimated local economic impact: $17 million.

Arts Warehouse Debut

Congratulations to the Delray CRA for its successful launch of the Arts Warehouse near Third and Third.

The space is absolutely amazing and worth a visit. It will be a community asset for years to come (if the legislature and local politico’s leave the CRA alone) while also providing low cost studio space for local artists—many of whom get pushed out by gentrification.

Manager Jill Brown and her team have done a terrific job and we heard lots of oohs and ahs…as people toured the facility.

It was also nice to see Old School Square staff and board members in attendance evidence of Delray’s collaborative spirit. A rising arts scene lifts all cultural boats.



Personal Note

A lovely and astute reader called and asked why I didn’t include Old School Square in last month’s things we love feature.

Well, that’s a good question. So let me first say that I will always love Old School Square.

This list is a short list of things we love this month not a definitive list of all we love. We like to think we have a big heart and there’s simply not enough time to list everything we love every month.

But rest assured, Old School Square will always be first in our hearts and minds.






13 Years

Jerrod Miller

Thirteen years ago today, Jerrod Miller, 16, was shot and killed outside of the Delray Full Service Center by a rookie Delray Beach police officer.

Jerrod was killed exactly 7 years to the day before Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida sparking a national conversation that still boils.

In the ensuing years, we’ve read about Freddie Gray, Ferguson, Missouri and a whole slew of incidents that have engulfed young men of color, police departments, communities, schools and our nation’s soul.

I’m not sure how many people are thinking of Jerrod Miller today in Delray Beach where we seem to be focused on gutter politics and whether this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a 50 year tradition will be the last because of a few myopic elected officials who don’t understand what it means to be a steward.

All of those things are important—who serves in office and whether community traditions continue or are shooed way.

But they also pale when viewed through the prism of a basic question; whether we are a good place for children and families to live.

Jerrod was my daughter’s age in 2005. I think of that often, every time I see my first born and marvel at the young woman she has become. She’s a teacher now, but back then she was a student at Atlantic High School and the kids were shaken about what happened the night Jerrod was shot. Samantha was given the opportunity to grow up, go to college and launch a career. Jerrod didn’t have that opportunity. And I think about him all the time.

For 13 years, I have had recurring dreams about a young man I never knew in life. I saw him only once—in a casket, at his funeral—at an 7th Day Adventist Church in our northwest neighborhood. I met and admired his pastor. I knew his father—not the biological opportunist who showed up after the shooting, but the man who Jerrod knew as his dad.  And I met his grandmother who sat quietly with us in a  room at Old School Square during our race relations workshops.

Ironically, I was at Mar-a-Lago, at a charity fundraiser the night of the shooting. I had no clue that life would change for so many with a middle of the night phone call that informed me of the news.

When police shootings occur, a dynamic occurs—a vortex of media, lawyers, union reps, police investigators, prosecutors, media, activists, hate mail, threats, anger, anxiety and crushing sadness.

Absolutely crushing sadness.

As a mayor, you become isolated—from your colleagues on the commission and from everyone really. It’s a lonely place and there is no playbook to reference.

I think of that lonely place when I see things happen—in places like Ferguson, Baltimore and yes Parkland because I know there’s hurting families, anxious policymakers and sad police officers.

In my case, I was walled off from the officer because of the investigation but I felt for him and his family. I tried not to pass judgment, I tried to think of him as a 23 year-old man. And when my son hit that age, I realized just how young that is. Jerrod was shot while allegedly driving erratically near a school dance. It all happened in a matter of seconds.

I’ve always been a fan of the Delray Beach Police Department and public safety professionals in general. I rode with them as a young reporter, got to know them as people and marveled at the complexity of their jobs and how well they performed. There is no Delray Beach as we know it, without their stellar work. They made it safe to live, work and play here but that challenge is ongoing and we must strive to be the kind of city that protects those who protect and serve us. So when the narrative emerged after the shooting of a rogue police department, I knew from personal experience that it wasn’t true. Of course, there was a fraught history–and that matters. Like America itself, Delray has struggled with race. But we were hard at work on the issue. We may have been imperfect, slow at times, blind to things but there were sincere efforts in our city to bridge the divide–to talk, engage and work together. Bridges had been built, relationships had formed and they were real and we would rely on them in the tough days ahead.

I also felt deeply for the family, friends and teachers who were shocked by the shooting.

We were isolated from the family as a result of the investigation, the inevitable litigation and other factors including an inquest, a rare event that was ordered in the case. I did spend time with several of Jerrod’s teachers who came to see me racked with emotion. We also spent a lot of time in the community answering questions, listening and praying.

But all during this time I was also thinking about another young man—Sherrod, Jerrod’s twin brother.

I asked  officers and community members for any information on him. I was told he was devastated and angry. Who could fault him. I’m sure there was confusion too.

I never did get to connect with Sherrod at the time. But I never stopped thinking about him.

I was saddened to read newspaper headlines a few years later detailing trouble that he had found.

He ended up doing time.

But a few years ago, he re-emerged. I got a call from an officer/friend who said Sherrod wanted to meet me and a few other  police officers including the chief. He wanted to see us. He had something to say.

And so we met, quietly in an office at City Hall. I was nervous about the meeting but anxious to see him too.

I’ve never written about this part of the story before but it’s important to share.

When Sherrod walked in the first thing you noticed was his size—6’5” and strong.

He was heavily tattooed and clearly someone who had seen a lot in his short life.  And yet there was something about him too that I just can’t describe–maybe the word is vulnerable.

When he saw us, the emotions were raw. He shook hands with all of us but it quickly fell into an embrace and a few tears.

It was very powerful.

For all of us.

Seasoned police officers who have seen it all and then some. Officers who had been called to the scene 13 years ago and were  very moved by what they saw.

We talked and talked some more. A lot poured out. Prison. Anger. Anger at Delray police. The searing pain of losing a brother. A twin; someone who feels a part of you. And a realization that the cycle has to stop. If at all possible, the anger had to be let go. Sherrod wanted to apologize to us, for things he had said and done. We told him it was OK and not necessary. We just wanted him to live a decent life. We were sorry that we didn’t help him and he needed a lot of help.

We vowed to help Sherrod get started again.  And we did. A job. Support. Advice.

I’d like to say that we all grew close. For awhile we texted, his preferred method of communication– with me anyway. Then the texts bounced back. His number must have changed.

And we lost touch.

He got arrested again. You can look up the details.

I keep tabs via the Internet.

On this, a sad anniversary, I pray he finds peace. I pray we all do.

I share these stories on the anniversary because I believe that it’s important that others know what happened on Feb. 26, 2005 in the village by the sea.

At the time, many felt Delray would never be the same. That’s how big this was. But I find we move on, maybe not the families, maybe not the direct participants, but society moves on.

There have been other violent deaths in Delray since. There have been young people gunned down by other young people right here in our community. And life goes on, as I suppose it should and must.

But my hope is that with every loss we would learn something that makes us better people and a better, closer community.

Until that happens, we will continue to fray–inch by inch– until  eventually we break.