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Water Cooler Wednesday: Perspective


Just this week…

One of my favorite people lost her dad to cancer and one of my childhood friends called to tell me his dad was just diagnosed.

In Pakistan, the Taliban butchered 141 people, mostly children at a school. In Yemen, 26 children were killed by terrorists—it barely made the news.

In Newtown, Connecticut, parents marked the second anniversary of the Newtown Massacre and face another holiday season without their children.

In suburban Philadelphia, an Iraq War Veteran killed six family members before taking his own life. It is said that the soldier suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I don’t list these items to depress you, but merely to ask that we exercise some perspective as we navigate the daily inconveniences of our lives.

Last I looked, the sun was shining, gas prices are low, we are using dollars not rubles and the temperature is just delightful.

Downtown Delray Beach is abuzz with activity and people seem happy as they stroll Atlantic Avenue and snap family pictures in front of holiday displays.

We visited Mizner Park this week and it was packed with shoppers and diners. I saw a lot of smiles, despite the long lines at the valet. If waiting for a valet is your biggest concern, you have it pretty good.

Life is fragile.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Clichés, but true nonetheless.

Your world can be rocked by one phone call or simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Here are some of the greats on perspective:

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

― Abraham Lincoln

“Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty.

I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.”

― George Carlin

“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.”

― Oscar Wilde


In Praise of Crane’s

Crane's Beach House had added to Delray's charm while giving back to the community.

Crane’s Beach House has added to Delray’s charm while giving back to the community.

A long, long time ago, I went to a meeting at a non-descript old apartment complex near the beach in Delray.

A gentleman named Michael Crane was seeking support from city commissioners to convert the property into a boutique hotel.

As he outlined his vision, it was clear that he saw a niche in the market for a small, charming seaside hotel about a block off Atlantic Avenue.

He envisioned an oasis, tucked away from Atlantic Avenue which was just starting to pop.

I told him I would support the vision.

After all, Delray needed hotel rooms and you couldn’t help but get swept away by Mr. Crane’s ideas and warm personality. He was a believer in Delray and so was I.

When plans were submitted, we began to receive calls and emails from nearby residents who were concerned about the usual issues: traffic, noise and parking.

So went back to Mr. Crane and his team and worked hard to mitigate the concerns. The city’s planning staff was creative and helpful and we approved the project.

I thought about that process as I attended a party Friday night celebrating the debut of “The Villas” a set of new luxury units that are a welcome addition to what has become a signature property in Delray.

The hotel is not expanding per se, but evolving to capture another segment of the market.

Like it or not, Delray is a hot place as we envisioned and worked hard to achieve.

The same week as The Villas made their debut, the Boston Herald devoted four pages to Delray, noting its restaurant scene, vibrancy, beautiful beach, culture, shopping and recreational opportunities.

Crane’s Beach House is a big contributor to the city’s success and Michael Crane saw the potential, had the belief, took the risk and made the investment.

He was also a gifted talent scout, hiring Cathy Balestriere as general manager and empowering Cathy to dive into Delray. Over the years, she has used her experience,  energy and resolve to create a solid business and to position Delray as a great destination.

When Cathy got the job, she contacted my secretary at the time Delores Rangel, to set up a meeting. We ended going to lunch at City Oyster and starting a conversation that has lasted for more than 10 years. Cathy has always been brimming with ideas and she has a passion for Delray that is simply unmatched.

She has not only made Crane’s a very special property creating jobs and drawing tourists from all over the world, but she has given back by hosting innumerable events for local non-profits over the years. In addition, she has served admirably on the CRA board, created Destination Delray, served on the board of the Downtown Marketing Cooperative and been an invaluable member of the Delray chamber. And when it came time to build The Villas, she used local talent, Delray companies and professionals to design and build the suites. And they are simply magnificent.

With the addition of The Villas, Crane’s will enter a new era of prosperity. I have heard–anecdotally–of people staying at Crane’s and then deciding to move here. It makes sense. Very few places have what we have.

I give a lot of credit to Michael Crane and Cathy for their vision and for our city staff who found a way to make a project like this work.

Saying yes requires risk, but also leads to so many good things. Crane’s is but one example–albeit a great one–of what can happen when a city facilitates a vision.


AVDA Expands

From left: Ann Vesgo,Bill Branning, Pam O'Brien, Commissioner Steven Abrams and Jean Magrella break ground.

From left: Ann Vesgo,Bill Branning, Pam O’Brien, Commissioner Steven Abrams and Jean Magrella break ground.

With domestic violence in the news these days…we thought we’d share what’s happening on the local front.

AVDA (( broke ground on an enlarged domestic violence shelter last week.

The existing shelter, which was in a 60-year-old building, has been torn down to ready the site for a new building that will be able to house 43 people.  The new building will increase capacity by an additional 18 beds.  The shelter is in an undisclosed location, for the safety of residents. In order to complete the building, $300,000 must be raised by March of 2015.


In 2013, Delray based AVDA was selected to be one of 11 certified domestic violence centers in the state to receive part of a special allocation of funds to help state-certified domestic violence centers expand their shelter capacity.   State funding will provide approximately 50% of the cost of the project, but the other 50% must be raised by the organization by the May, 2015 deadline, in order to keep state funding.  Thus far, of the $1.2 million goal, over $900,000 has been raised.


“AVDA’s Rebuilding Lives Renewing Hope Campaign is all about listening to the needs of those we serve and the community.  We are addressing a critical and immediate need with this campaign,” Pam O’Brien, President and CEO of AVDA said.  “AVDA is the only domestic violence program with extended shelter services in Palm Beach County.”


Major donations thus far include a donation of stock for $250,000 by an anonymous donor as well as numerous private donations and a challenge donation of $50,000 from a private family foundation.


Currently, AVDA shelters over 400 people and provides help to over 8,600 people annually.  It is the 5th largest shelter in the state of Florida, in terms of capacity and is one of the very few shelters with comprehensive services, including helping survivors provide for themselves once they leave the shelter, and providing school wellness checks and shots for children at the shelter.


The organization’s mission is to promote violence-free relationships and social change by offering alternative choices to end violence and domestic abuse.


AVDA provides a Community of Hope through its state-certified domestic violence center that offers a comprehensive array of services for all victims of domestic violence including; a 24 hour crisis hotline, emergency and transitional housing, advocacy, counseling and support to help people live violence-free and self-sufficient lives. AVDA also works throughout the community to educate and engage people of all ages in our commitment to prevent violence.


AVDA’s Health and Wellness program offers group trainings on matters concerning health, nutrition and exercise. In collaboration with FAU School of Nursing, a nurse-practitioner is on-site monthly to provide individuals physical medical care consultations, including vaccinations for residents.  Residents in the shelter can also participate in Anne’s STEPS, a nationally recognized economic empowerment program to help residents become financially self-sufficient.


In addition, AVDA offers training to healthcare professionals, law enforcement personnel, social services agencies, employers and community groups on the topic of domestic violence.  Each training or talk is tailored specifically to the needs of the group or organization.


AVDA has perfect audits for the past eleven years and is certified by Nonprofits First.


For more information about AVDA’s services, please visit or call (561) 265-3797.


Progress is not a zero sum game

Progress is not a zero sum game

I just read a wonderful interview with Dan Gilbert in The Wall Street Journal.

Gilbert, founder and CEO of Quicken Loans and owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, is doing remarkable work in downtown Detroit breathing new life into a city that has given bad times a new definition.

Gilbert is acquiring tons of real estate in the downtown core with the ambitious goal of not only bringing Detroit back as a world class city, but making it better than it ever was.

I wouldn’t bet against him or his $1 billion investment.

Civic pride+smarts+capital+ passion x powerful ideas=transformation. Whether you are talking about Delray Beach, Boca Raton or Detroit.

Forty miles south of here you can feel the energy that is transforming Miami into a city that matters in finance, technology, fashion, food, education, medicine, music, design, retail and art.

From the power and reach of Art Basel to the emerging tech scene in Miami Beach, Miami is on the move led by a new generation of entrepreneurs supported by veteran business leaders and philanthropic interests such as the Knight Foundation.

I’m hoping that last week’s announcement by the Schmidt Family Foundation –which stepped up with the largest gift in FAU’s history –is only the beginning of a movement to transform Palm Beach County.

We have to get in the game.

The bar has been raised on success in the 21st Century and cities and regions that understand this and act will be the winners while complacent cities will wither and die.

Big cultural and demographic changes are under way whether we like it or not. These are seismic changes, irreversible and we are not immune, even though some of us wish we were or think we are.

Ignore the rise of the millennial generation and you will be like the staid old restaurant that catered to an old crowd and then wondered why business dried up when their customers died off.

Miami—busy, noisy, traffic choked, diverse—gets it.

Civic leaders like Manny Medina have stepped up to make it happen, funding and mentoring promising entrepreneurs. The Knight Foundation has also been a major player supporting the growth of an entrepreneurial ecosystem and cultural offerings which create a sense of place and artistic vibrancy.

Art Basel has become an international phenomenon not only supporting the art world, but also becoming a launching pad for brands and products eager to reach an audience of international influencers.

Recently, I had an opportunity to visit ROKK3R Labs, an innovative Miami company that “co-builds” tech companies. Their Miami Beach office is a bee hive of energy and ideas attracting local talent and people from all over the world.

Remember that name, because ROKK3R is going to be a game changing engine for South Florida and other markets.

Locally, FAU’s Tech Runway and Research Park are promising efforts with big upsides. Lynn University’s new business school and creative partnership with Apple is also something to watch closely.


Palm Beach County has to make a decision.

Does it want to be a resort type place driven by tourism, retirees and service industries, namely food, beverage and hospitality?
Or does it want to really engage and become a dynamic region attracting start-ups and the next generation of creative and business leaders?

It doesn’t have to be an either or choice? You can remain attractive to retirees and tourists and still plan for the future which should include strategies to give our children opportunities right here at home.

You can invite economic growth without sacrificing affordability or creating traffic driven by sprawl like development (see: Valley, Silicon.) We don’t have to look and feel like Miami; we can shape our growth and destiny by creating great places, promoting walkable mixed use neighborhoods and embracing vibrancy, art and commerce.

But it requires leadership, people like Dan Gilbert  and progressive leaders and visionaries who can take already great places and make them even better and more sustainable.

The question is who will step up? Because the opportunities are huge.


FAU Foundation Thanks Schmidt Foundation

FAU is making some major moves. The Owls just received the largest gift in school history.

FAU is making some major moves. The Owls just received the largest gift in school history.

We are pleased to announce that today FAU received a gift of $16 million from the Schmidt Family Foundation, the largest single gift in Florida Atlantic’s history. The Schmidt Family Foundation’s generosity will help create a national model of academic excellence in athletics to attract the nation’s top coaches and student athletes to FAU.

The Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence, which will be constructed adjacent to FAU Stadium, will play a central role in elevating FAU’s academic standing and will benefit students in all academic programs, including those not associated with athletics. In addition to a student-athlete academic and leadership center, the state-of-the-art facilities may include strength and conditioning, sports medicine, and health and wellness centers, and an indoor training facility.

This initiative exemplifies FAU’s drive to enhance its stature and visibility nationally and internationally.

The Schmidt Family Foundation has shown a far-reaching, visionary commitment to FAU’s continued growth. Other major gifts from the Schmidt Family Foundation have benefited the colleges of Arts and Letters, Science, Medicine, Nursing, and Engineering and Computer Science.

Many thanks to Dick and Barb Schmidt and the Schmidt Family Foundation
for this most generous investment in the future of FAU.

Catch the Surf Exhibit in Delray

The Surfing History Project tells the story of a beached freighter which ran aground in Riviera Beach in the 60s and created perfect breaks.

The Surfing History Project tells the story of a beached freighter which ran aground in Riviera Beach in the 60s and created perfect breaks.

Whether you love surfing or just enjoy local history, we highly recommend that you visit the Cason Cottage Museum this holiday season and take in the pleasures of “The Surfing History Project.”

The exhibit runs through Dec. 27 (closed Christmas Day) on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Admission is $5 and is well worth it.

The exhibit spans two buildings at the Delray Beach Historical Society, 111 N. Swinton Ave., and chances are you can get a personal tour from a local surfing legend. Many local surfers are hanging out at the exhibit to add color commentary.

We were fortunate to meet Tom Warnke, just crowned East Coast Champion in his age group, as our tour guide.

Tom has had a lifelong passion for surfing and is an eloquent spokesman for the sport’s rich history in Florida.

As we admired beautiful boards from the 50s, 60s and 70s, we got a primer in local surfing history.

At one time, the freedom to surf was a hot issue in Delray Beach and Palm Beach County, with lawsuits, landmark legal rulings and ardent debates at City Hall.

The exhibit includes old newspaper clippings focusing on the debate in Delray Beach, where the city’s fathers tried in vain to keep a lid on the sport with surfers and some of their mom’s weighing in with the need to let the kids ride.

Ultimately, the surfers prevailed, but the debate provides a quaint view into a bygone era.

Surfing has a rich history in Florida with the state producing champions who went on to worldwide acclaim.

In addition, it was big business.

Before it became a restaurant haven, Atlantic Avenue was the biggest seller of surf boards in the state and the industry created jobs. Several boards produced in Delray, including the legendary “Richie”,  are on exhibit. They are beautiful works of art.

One surfing pioneer, Ron Heavyside, made his first board in shop class at the old Seacrest High School. He went on to found Nomad Surf Shops which is still in business.

The Surfing History Project hopes to find a permanent home and is modeling itself on a California museum which draws huge crowds. Possibilities include downtown West Palm Beach.

For more information, visit



FAU Scientists Focus On Macular Degeneration

Research at FAU is focused on saving eyesight.

Research at FAU is focused on saving eyesight.

While oxygen is essential to our planet’s life force and the way we function and stay healthy, high concentrations referred to as oxidative stress may very well be the cause of more than 70 widely-spread diseases such as cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and eye diseases including macular degeneration.

Scientists at Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, as well as the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, have found that sulindac, a known anti-inflammatory drug, can protect against oxidative damage due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the primary causes of vision loss in the elderly. Their findings were released today in an article titled “Pharmacological protection of retinal pigmented epithelial cells by sulindac involves PPAR-α” in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“What happens in age-related macular degeneration is that the retinal pigmented epithelial or RPE cells, which are essential to nourishing the retinal cells, are damaged by oxidative stress,” said Herbert Weissbach, Ph.D., director and distinguished research professor in the Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology within the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “Our studies show that sulindac can protect RPE cells in culture against oxidative damage, suggesting that it could be an inexpensive and relatively non-toxic therapeutic approach for treating age-related macular degeneration.”

Oxidative stress is mainly due to the imbalance between the free radicals produced within our bodies from the oxygen that we breathe in and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by “antioxidants systems.” This imbalance is the underlying basis of oxidative stress. Oxygen free radicals can also be produced by environmental agents including air pollution, radiation, cigarette smoking, excess stress and increased exposure to sunlight.

Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process. There are different kinds of macular problems, but the most common is age-related macular degeneration. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. AMD gradually destroys sharp, central vision, which is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving. Currently, no cures exist for the majority of age-related macular degeneration cases.


Good Morning America To Feature Delray

Good Morning Delray Beach

Good Morning Delray Beach

The public is invited to watch the live airing of ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) at the Chris Evert-Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic on Sunday, November 23, 2014.  The show will film several live segments from the Delray Beach Tennis Center, 201 West Atlantic Avenue, featuring meteorologist Rob Marciano.

In order to be a part of this special event, with a chance to appear in the show’s audience, the public is asked to arrive at the Tennis Center on Sunday, November 23, at 6:15 am.  Guests who arrive between 6:15 am – 6:45 am will receive one (1) complimentary admission ticket for the tennis matches beginning at 11:00 am later that day.

Have some early morning fun at the Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic on Sunday, November 23!  For more information, call (561) 243-7190.

About the Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic
The City of Delray Beach is proud to host the 2014 Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic, November 21-23.  Tennis legend Chris Evert, in association with Broward Health Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, will be joined by renowned athletes and well known celebrities to support at-risk children and families in Palm Beach County and Florida.  Since 1989, Chris Evert Charities has contributed over $21.2 million in an ongoing campaign against drug abuse and child neglect. 

Exciting events are planned for November 21-23 including the Pro-Am Tennis and Lunch with Chrissie & Friends, Classic Cocktail Reception, Pro-Celebrity Gala presented by Esurance and the weekend Tennis Classic.  To purchase tickets, call (561) 394-2400. For schedule of events and additional information, visit


Who Offers The Best Bite On The Ave?

Tryst Gastropub will be at Crane's to defend its title as Best Bite on the Ave.

Tryst Gastropub will be at Crane’s to defend its title as Best Bite on the Ave.


Cathy Balestriere, general manager of Crane’s BeachHouse Hotel & Tiki Bar, announced that the popular, Key West-style boutique hotel will be hosting its third annual Best Bite on the Ave on Thursday, November 20, from 6 to 8:30 pm.

“This is a win-win-win promotion in which everyone has a good time and savors some tasty food samplings from 10 outstanding restaurants while simultaneously raising much-needed funds for two worthwhile local nonprofit organizations: the HOW Foundation of South Florida, which provides hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) scholarship funding for wounded warriors and others in need, and Project Holiday, which supports local families who have loved ones serving in the armed forces around the world,” said Balestriere.
“Best of all – admission is only $5 per person, which includes one Best Bite token and five free raffle tickets for a variety of special prizes,” she added.


Ten competing restaurants will each set-up serving tables offering a variety of tasty goodies from their menus as they compete for the title of Best Bite on the Ave 2014.
This year’s local culinary competitors will be:
+ Caffe Luna Rosa
+ City Oyster
+ Pizza Rustica
+ Prime (The winner in 2012)
+ Rocky’s Bistro
+ Salt 7
+ Sundy House
+ Sweet’s Sensation
+ 3rd & 3rd
+ Tryst  (The winner in 2013)
Attendees will select the winner by dropping special Best Bite tokens in their favorite restaurant’s token bowl. Everybody will receive one token with their $5 admission and an additional token with every drink purchase (be it alcoholic or not). At the end of the evening, the restaurant that collected the most tokens will be declared Best Bite on the Ave 2014.
The fun and festive event will be held throughout the hotel, around both beach-like swimming pools and the two large Tiki Huts. Live music will be offered throughout the evening, including the Atlantic High School Drum Line and Jazz Band. There will also be an assortment of free desserts that night from It’s Sugar and Two Fat Cookies at Crane’s BeachHouse Hotel, which is located at 82 Gleason Street in Delray Beach, just one block south of Atlantic Avenue and one block west of the Atlantic Ocean.
“Which restaurant will win the coveted title of Best Bite on the Ave 2014,” asks Balestriere. “That will be decided by those who come to Crane’s BeachHouse Hotel on November 20 for the final Third Thursday Fun-Raiser of the year.”
For more information please contact Crane’s BeachHouse Hotel at 561.278.1700 or visit the website at

Weekend Best Bets: Journey & Jazz

The Allan Harris Quartet thrills the Arts Garage this weekend.

The Allan Harris Quartet thrills the Arts Garage this weekend.

Allan Harris Quartet
JAZZ | Sat, 11/15 8PM at the Arts Garage

Allan Harris is unquestionably one of the most versatile talents in contemporary jazz and blues music with his charismatic combination of soulful yet elegant phrasing, exciting musicianship, and dynamic stage presence.
“…probably the most exciting young male singer on the scene.”—Wall Street Journal

Visit for tickets and more information.

Journey Tribute Tonight

My prom shared the same theme song as the final episode of The Sopranos; “Don’t Stop Believing.” (Dave’s prom theme was sung by Rudy Vallee but I digress).
We haven’t stopped believing and that’s why you will see us under the stars tonight at the Pavilion at the Delray Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 to see Odyssey Road, a really good Journey Tribute Band.

How good? Well, when the lights go down in the city you won’t be able to tell the difference between Odyssey and Steve Perry.

You will be Stone in Love and won’t be going your Separate Ways when you enjoy the music with  Open Arms.

If we don’t see you because you are not Feeling That Way that’s Ok, because I’ll be Alright Without You…..we give up, you get the picture and we Faithfully believe you will be there.