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Water Cooler Wednesday: The Big 5-0

It's the new 40 right?

It’s the new 40 right?

Yesterday, I turned 50.

These milestone birthdays are really just another number, but they are powerful forces as well, helping you focus.

50 is a big number, it means that there is more in the rearview mirror than there is in front of you, but it’s still young enough to want to scale a few more mountains.

50 feels very different than 30 and 40, the other milestone birthdays you hit once you reach adulthood.

At 30 and 40, I found myself in a restless state, wanting to be more, achieve more, do more, earn more, have more. It was exhausting because you do push, or at least I did.

But 50 is different, I find myself looking back more, trying to enjoy the present by being present and also trying to schedule the future because you realize more than ever that the future is finite.

So in many ways, this milestone birthday is more enjoyable because for some reason I’m feeling reflective and when I look back I like what I see. I like the friends I’ve made. I’m pleased with the difference I’ve tried to make and I’m proud, very proud of my family.

I’m also enjoying this time in my life: really interesting work with good people, seeing the kids grow into amazing adults and enjoying my family, friends, interests and passions. I have a lot of love in my life, a great wife, health,  wonderful family and friends, a nice home and an interesting career.

And yet, while the past gives me pride and the present gives me joy, I do have a very strong desire for the future. At 50, I still aspire.

A friend and I recently met for a long talk and a beer at Brule’ in Pineapple Grove and we shared what makes us tick.

For me, it has always been leadership, entrepreneurship and community. Those are the topics that turn me on, make me want to learn more, read more, do more and understand more.

And so…

Those words inform who I am and what I want to be.

With a finite amount of time in front of me, I know now that I have to choose my activities carefully.

Leadership: Why Morgan Russell and I co-founded Dare 2 Be Great, so we could identify, help, mentor, support and learn from a new generation of leaders that we also hope to return to Delray Beach.

Entrepreneurship: Why I am excited to be involved with Tabanero, a Boca Raton based hot sauce company. We have a great, all natural product and a dedicated passionate team who works hard every day to sell, market and promote our product. The challenge is building a brand in a crowded marketplace, something that excites the entrepreneur in me and others. We are also very heavily invested in Celsius, a fitness drink that I have served in various capacities over the years. After years of struggle and hard work, the brand is beginning to really take off both domestically and internationally. Getting it over the goal line is the kind of challenge that charges you up.

Restoring the Gulfstream Hotel is another project that gets your heart pumping. It’s a jewel in need of TLC, much like Lake Worth itself.

And there’s this blog, which Dave Reeves and I started with a vision that is still sorting itself out, like a lot of entrepreneurial ventures. We have seen it grow and we welcome  and appreciate your comments.

Community: Long my passion and it continues to be. I see so much potential in Boca and Delray. Together, we can be a mini-region that can be a haven for entrepreneurs, artists, sports, health care, education, technology, education, food & beverage and so much more.

Lots more to do…50 and just getting started in so many ways.

Editor’s Note: We are taking a break until Sept. 8 for some rest and relaxation. We will be back soon. Have a great Labor Day!

FAU Football Honors Founder of Program

Homage to Howard

Homage to Howard

Howard Schnellenberger built his legendary coaching career and was the driving force that helped Florida Atlantic University build a football stadium. Now, the field on which the Owls play their home games will bear the name of one of college football’s most accomplished program-builders.

 The field at FAU Stadium on the University’s Boca Raton campus will be named Howard Schnellenberger Field, honoring the man who coached the Owls during their first 11 seasons and retired after the 2011 campaign with 158 victories during 27 years as a head coach at four Football Bowl Subdivision institutions.

 FAU’s Board of Trustees approved the new field name during a conference call on Wednesday, Aug. 20.

 “I am humbled beyond belief that the University would bestow this great honor on the Schnellenberger family, and me personally,” said Schnellenberger. “This is probably the highlight of my coaching career. Thanks to the FAU Board of Trustees, the University, the fans, the players and the coaches that were an integral part of this.”

 A ceremony to honor Schnellenberger will be held prior to the Owls’ first home game of the season at FAU Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13. FAU President John Kelly also will make a special presentation at halftime. FAU hosts Tulsa, with the kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. It will be the fourth season for the Owls in the 29,419-seat on-campus stadium.

 “Coach Schnellenberger is a legend – a true visionary who always will be synonymous with FAU football,” said FAU President John Kelly. “The University, the community, and fans of college football everywhere look to Coach as the consummate leader, and are thankful for all he has done for the sport. I know FAU will always remember this as we cheer our team on the beautiful field that will forever bear his name.”

 Schnellenberger welcomed the idea of bringing football to FAU in 1998. During his tenure as FAU’s coach, the Owls garnered two bowl victories and one Sun Belt Conference championship. Twenty of his FAU players have signed professional contracts, with five drafted by the National Football League.

 An assistant coach on the Miami Dolphins’ 1972 undefeated Super Bowl championship team, Schnellenberger made his greatest mark in the collegiate ranks. His career has been highly chronicled throughout the years, from winning the first national championship as coach at the University of Miami in 1983 to ushering the University of Louisville program from near obscurity to a top 20 national ranking. Schnellenberger went 6-0 as a head coach in bowl games, the most bowl victories for a coach with a perfect record.

 After reaching the goal of bringing football to FAU – the Owls played its inaugural season in 1999 – Schnellenberger embarked on the challenge of getting a stadium built in order to move the program to the next level. FAU Stadium opened on Oct. 15, 2011, with the Owls hosting Western Kentucky. The open-air stadium features 6,000 premium seats, including 24 suites, 26 loge boxes, 1,000 premier club seats and 4,000 priority club seats.

 “ We are thankful we have the opportunity to honor Coach Schnellenberger with the naming of our football field,” said Pat Chun, FAU’s vice president and director of athletics. “As our first football coach, he forever changed Florida Atlantic University. To permanently honor Coach Schnellenberger will serve as a great reminder to all who enter our stadium of his vision, impact and legacy.”

 Schnellenberger played for Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Kentucky and served as an assistant to Bryant at the University of Alabama. He was an assistant to NFL Hall of Fame coaches George Allen (Los Angeles Rams) and Don Shula (Dolphins), and served as head coach of the Baltimore Colts during the 1973 season and of three games in 1974.

 Schnellenberger was hired as FAU’s director of football operations on May 1, 1998. He coached FAU’s inaugural game on Sept. 1, 2001, against Slippery Rock at Pro Player Stadium in Miami. Under Schnellenberger’s leadership, the Owls won the New Orleans Bowl in 2007, marking the quickest a program had advanced to a bowl game after moving to Division I-A, which was later renamed the Football Bowl Subdivision. FAU also won the Motor City Bowl the following season.



Weekend Best Bets: Weekend Starts Tonight

Plaid Blazer (Dave owns a few) will rock the Elizabeth Wesley Pavilion tonight.

Plaid Blazer (Dave owns a few) will rock the Elizabeth Wesley Pavilion tonight.

On the Ave “Back to Cool”

Date: August 21

What: “On The Ave”

When: 6-10pm

Cost: Free

Where: SW 5th Ave & W Atlantic Ave

On the Ave welcomes you “Back to Cool” by bringing the ever popular event to West Atlantic this time. The August 21st event will feature entertainment that is both Old School and New Cool. The event will bring back classic childhood games such a duck-duck-goose, tug-of-war and musical chairs. There will be a Kid’s Corner, Splash Zone and a backpack giveaway from Florida Kid Care. Bands on two stages will take you “back to cool” with songs from a mix of artists such as James Brown, Whitney Houston, The Roots and more.

Art School Open House

For all of you aspiring artists, you won’t want to miss the upcoming Open House at the Boca Raton Museum of Art – The Art School.

This free annual event will be held Saturday, August 23, from 1-4 p.m. at the school located at 801 West Palmetto Park Road, one mile east of 1-95.

Visitors will be able to view the faculty exhibit and meet  the artists/teachers in the art studios and discuss their classes.

“We have, perhaps, the finest faculty in South Florida,” said Walter O’Neill, director. “Potential students will be able to visit with these teachers to get a preview of the classes and to see some of the outstanding artwork being produced by the faculty.”

The Art School offers a wide range of classes in virtually every medium and discipline for beginners to experienced artists. Classes are offered in portraiture, still life and landscape painting, as well as photography, pottery, collage, jewelry making and sculpture, among many others.   Award-winning teachers lead classes in oil, watercolor, acrylic, and drawing, to name just a few.

“This is a perfect time to meet the teachers and learn more about the adult art classes,” added O’Neill. “Visitors will be able to visit the studios and see short demonstrations on making pottery, stone carving, print making, and other techniques.”

There will be a free raffle to win $100 discount on an art course. Each person who signs up for a class during Open House receives a one-day pass for two at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

For more information call 561-392-2503

 Visit for information about upcoming art classes.


Water Cooler Wednesday: Ferguson & Delray

Ferguson, Missouri.

Ferguson, Missouri.

The disturbing images from Ferguson, Missouri have been dominating the news for over a week now.

My friends from outside of Delray Beach have reacted with a mixture of reactions; most of them have tuned it out and turned the channel to preseason football.

But for those of us who lived in Delray Beach in February 2005, the reaction is quite different and can be summed up with this phrase: “this could have happened here.”

Yes, it could have.

And I have been asked repeatedly in the past week why it didn’t.

The short answer is: I don’t know for sure. But I do know some things that I think helped.

For those unaware, on a February night in 2005, a rookie police officer shot and killed 15-year-old Jerrod Miller outside a school dance at the Delray Full Service Center.

The officer was white. Jerrod was African American.

Jerrod was shot after he was stopped by the officer outside the dance while driving his uncle’s car. He did not have a license. In a split second–that would forever alter this community and several lives–Jerrod made the decision to hit the gas and pull away from the officer.  The officer fired and….

So Ferguson is different for those of us who were in Delray in February ‘O5. It feels closer, it rekindles memories, it triggers anxieties and it touches nerves we thought were long ago soothed.

It turns out they weren’t. Sure, life goes on. It always does, but we were altered by the experience.

And Ferguson brings it back.

So did Trayvon Martin, which happened exactly five years to the day after Jerrod Miller.

The Miller shooting was big news in 2005. We had protests and demonstrations. Delray felt tense and emotions were very, very high. But we did not have violence. The community did not break apart.

A local journalist called me this week and asked about Jerrod and why Delray did not spiral out of control like Ferguson. A former head of our Clergy Association who is now the Episcopal Bishop in New Jersey also reached out to share a sermon he plans to deliver this Sunday. Several friends and former colleagues emailed, texted and called just to talk about Ferguson and our experience in Delray.

I’d like to think that the strength of our community kept things in check. We did have protests. We did have anger. We experienced lots of emotion, but we didn’t become Ferguson or Sanford. Maybe, we were lucky; or maybe 15 years plus of community policing and decent leadership helped to keep things from getting violent and destructive. I do know that our elders stood up for keeping the peace. So did our clergy, elected officials, city staff, police officers, non-profit leaders, educators and everyday stakeholders. I think all of that and some things I don’t know about helped.

When I was first elected way back in 2000, I was a young man with lots of dreams, drive and ambition. I was also a tad naïve—especially about politics. Sometimes being naïve can be a good thing—you don’t know your limits so you strive. And sometimes it can bite you. But I was also very coachable and eager to learn from those who came before me.

As a rookie commissioner I went to visit our then Police Chief Rick Overman. Rick was older than I was. He had already had a career in Orlando before coming to Delray where he transformed our department. By the time I was elected he had been in Delray for almost a decade. As a newspaper reporter, I had gotten to know him and I was a student of his reform strategies and his leadership style. I saw him as a visionary and a highly effective leader. Arguably the best I’ve seen, up close and personal.

So I was all ears when I went to talk to him in my new role as a commissioner. I told Chief Overman that I wanted to heal some community divisions and invest in some neighborhoods that I felt had been neglected. I wanted to build on some of the relationships and successes he had made possible as a result of community policing.

Rick looked me in the eye and said the following: “In my line of work, and now yours, it’s not a matter of if something is going to happen, but when. That’s why every day I look for opportunities to build up a reservoir of good will, because I know someday I will be forced to draw down on that reservoir and when I do I need to know there is something to draw down on.”

Those words resonated with me and with many others that Rick influenced during his tenure in Delray.

There is no playbook when tragedy strikes. But it helps to have a reservoir. It helps to have relationships.

I am reading lots of stories about promises to change Ferguson. “If only people would get off the streets and go home, we will do x, y and z.  These are after the fact attempts at reform. Reactive not proactive.

Truth is, we were busy community building in Delray long, long before that sad night in 2005. I think that helped us. We drew down on the reservoir, but we at least we had one.

I hope and pray we still do.

Because you don’t just fill a reservoir and forget about it. Like a garden, a city and the relationships within the city, need to be tended to or weeds start to grow.

If problems aren’t addressed they don’t magically disappear, they fester and tend to get worse.

I think Delray’s history of working together, Delray’s track record of engagement and community policing helped us in the wake of Jerrod’s shooting. We had leaders we could turn too, successes we could point too and most important of all, we recognized we had a lot more work we had to do and that was acknowledged.  We also acknowledged that this community has had a long and troubled history with race relations. We were attempting to discuss and address some of those issues prior to the shooting.

We also had earned some trust, which isn’t built overnight (although it can be lost in an instant) and we knew that trust is always fragile and that relationships require a lot of dedication and more listening than talking.

There is a lot of anger in society today.  There is desperation, dysfunction, crime, abuse of all sorts and economic despair. We can point fingers, we can cast blame and we do. But that doesn’t change the facts on the ground.

We were fortunate not to have the unrest we are witnessing in Ferguson. But we ignore the signals at our own peril.

In cities, issues are always interconnected and memories are long.

I used to get frustrated when slights from years ago were laid at my feet as if I had been responsible. Until I realized I was responsible, for at least trying to understand, listen and solve problems. When you step into a leadership position, you inherit it all, the good, the bad and the ugly and there’s plenty of all three. It’s your responsibility. Not to take it all on your own, a common mistake that “hero” leaders often make. But to lead a discussion and challenge others to work together to leave things better than before.

But the key piece to remember is that the moving parts all relate: you may not want development, but someone in the community needs a construction job or may work at a store, restaurant or office that you don’t want to see built. We may want to get tough with our cops on pensions, wages and benefits (and all are legitimate and important concerns to have) but you better realize that we need good officers to protect and serve a very complex community and that they deal with very dangerous situations multiple times a shift in this city. That costs money. Real money.

We may want to cut support to a library, a non-profit, an arts center or an afterschool program but you have to realize there’s a kid and a parent that find those services and programs important.

Filling the reservoir is always complicated. But it begins with constant conversation between leaders and they people they serve. They don’t serve you, you serve them.

You can’t serve if you don’t listen. And if you don’t listen…well turn on the TV and tune into Ferguson.


It All Begins With Education

Delray has invested over $11 million over the years.

Delray has invested over $11 million over the years.

Note: Last week, co-founder Jeff Perlman was invited to speak at the Delray Chamber of Commerce’s annual new teacher breakfast. The breakfast focuses on education and allows local principals to introduce their new teachers to the business community. In honor of the first day of school, here’s a transcript of the speech.

“I’d like to thank Karen Granger and the Chamber for inviting me to share some thoughts with you this morning. I’d also like to thank all of the educators in this room for taking the time out of your busy schedules to be here.

 It’s important that you share the challenges that you face and the opportunities you see with the people in this room. Together, we may be able to meet some of those challenges and seize some of those opportunities.

I’m going to start off by making a big statement…but I think I can back it up.

So here goes…

There is no city in the state of Florida that has done more for its schools than the City of Delray Beach.


That’s a big statement…but I make it proudly and confidently, because I know what this city has done: Nothing Short of a major investment of time, personnel, money and political capital so that our schools and our children can have a better chance at a successful future.

This morning I’m going to give you a very brief overview of this city’s involvement in education over the years and also outline some future opportunities that I see and hope that we will pursue as a community.

First, I think most of us can agree that there is no more important pursuit in a community than education. It is the answer to just about all of our problems and the provider of just about all of our opportunities. Whether it’s redeveloping blighted neighborhoods, creating jobs, curing illness or healing a city—the strategy must always include education.

So to those who say that cities such as Delray Beach should mind their own business and not be involved in education, the answer is not on your life. It’s too important and it really does take a village to raise a child.

So with that belief in mind, Delray Beach, the city, needs, deserves and requires a seat at the table when it comes to educating our children.

And here’s why …if you are an educator… you want us at that table; Because Over the years we have had very good table manners, literally spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money to support our local schools.  $11 million at last count.

From investing in strategies to save Spady Elementary School  and insisting on a gifted program at Banyan Creek, to supporting IB programs at Carver and Atlantic—the city of Delray Beach has been there, with dollars, political support, ideas and strategies.

We even moved a high school because we thought it was important to have a modern campus with career academies and enough capacity to bring some of our children home to attend school here in Delray.

This is a city with a rich and storied history of supporting its kids, our teachers and their principals.

Starting with a program called Sharing for Excellence in the late 80s, we have proven time and time again that when we rally our community around the educational needs of our children, we are at our best.

In the 80s and 90s, our vision called for better programs and facilities and as a result we helped to save Spady with a Montessori magnet, enhanced Carver with a middle years IB and saw Orchard View planned and built a decade later.

When two members of our Police Department approached us with an idea for a charter school, we wrote a check and seeded that school which became Tomorrow’s Promise. It closed after a decade or so, but before it did, Tomorrow’s Promise touched hundreds of lives; and lowered crime in our city.

After the new high school opened, we dedicated police officers to the Criminal Justice Career Academy and our CRA financed real estate so that students in the Construction Academy were able to get hands on experience building a home and improving a neighborhood.

Village Academy exists because a neighborhood got together week after week after week and envisioned a better future—anchored by a school. And there’s more—Plumosa has been reinvented with the help of the city, business leaders and parents. Pine Grove is seeing improvements in its academic performance thanks to the energy of a young principal who works closely with local business leaders to fund some basic needs of students. But it wasn’t always that way.

When I moved to Delray in 1987, realtors talked about something called the Delray Dilemma…they were unable to sell homes because the reputation of our schools was so poor that young families, fled to West Boca and West Boynton where the district was building new facilities.

A weak town would have given up, but not this city. Historically, this city has come together to face its problems and we have always, always solved them.  If you want to know the difference maker in Delray, the secret sauce, that’s it folks.

 It’s not a complicated theory…but it takes hard work and courage to acknowledge problems, build consensus, work together for years and put your head down until it gets done. Visioning is important…you have to know where you’re going—but this is a city that gets results. And often those results lead to benefits you don’t immediately see, they accrue over time.

The move of Atlantic High is an interesting example…It allowed the district to add Career Academies and enabled us to stop busing hundreds of kids out of town, but  it also gave us Bexley Park, two new public parks, the Seacrest Soccer Complex and land for a new Plumosa. Was it controversial, you betcha. Did it pay dividends…yes and for decades to come.

So the history is rich and I can go on, to discuss Beacon Programs and partnerships with the Delray Center for the Arts and how Janet Meeks and I met for lunch many years ago at the old annex and discussed her idea to create a position in city government dedicated to education. We did. We were the first city to do that and Janet has done remarkable things.

But I think the important takeaway, especially as we enter a new fiscal year, is the philosophy that great cities invest and reinvent in themselves.

We didn’t have to do any of those things—but this city has never been just about providing the basics. This city has been about engaging our citizens, developing a vision and investing in our future.

We have a rich history of bringing those visions to life and we should not give that up without a fight.

We would not be the Delray Beach we have become if we didn’t make those investments.

But like every investment, you seek a return.

So I’ll conclude with some investments I think we should be making in the future.

First, we need a strategy to provide opportunities for our children to come back home after college to lead, grow and contribute to this community. We have done a good job with food, beverage and culture. We have created an environment attractive to entrepreneurs but we do not have the creative space they need to thrive.

Morgan Russell and I co-founded a foundation that is mentoring and providing scholarships to some of our most talented kids…it’s called Dare to Be Great. Being involved with that group has opened my eyes to the talent that exists right here in this community. Young people who are overcoming some amazing odds to excel…we owe it to them– as leaders– to create an environment of opportunity so they can come back and build the future. So how do we create a city of opportunity, so appealing that our kids will want to come back…


We should be teaching entrepreneurship in our schools, whether kids grow up to be entrepreneurs or not, the skills they will learn will serve them wherever they land. Hopefully, they’ll start and grow their businesses right here.

We should be investing in programs like Girls Who Code or Code Academy, to make sure that our students have the skills needed to compete and win in the 21st century.

We should be pushing-and I know we are—for an arts magnet at Carver. But that effort should be a community wide one…When this community works together, it succeeds. We’ve never failed to achieve the vision we set out to accomplish when we work together. Let’s start a campaign for a middle school of the arts.

We should be teaching leadership at all levels, alongside the basics.  Our community, every community, needs better leaders. We need to begin teaching these skills in our schools, perhaps Delray can become a national pacesetter in leadership education. It was Lincoln who said “the philosophy of the school room in one generation, will be the philosophy of government in the next.” We can sure use a few Lincolns…at all level of government.

We should continue to make strategic investments in select non-profits that serve youth whether its art classes at Delray Center for the Arts or children’s programs at the Arts Garage.

 In our work at Dare 2 Be Great, every single student we’ve interviewed has mentioned a community program that they experienced that turned them on…whether it was Atlantic High graduate Stephanie Brown who took  a photography class at Old School Square and turned that into a career or Joseph Elisma who came to Delray from Haiti at age 9 with just his father and the shirt on his back. He walked past gangs and temptation every day and ended up as an IB graduate from Atlantic. He was inspired by Atlantic’s criminal justice academy and wants to come back to Delray to protect and serve this community, his community.

Or Ian Mellul, who got involved with our youth council and decided that he wanted to devote his life to public service…he was a White House Fellow this year…and he’s measuring the drapes in the Oval Office…because he wants to be President.  Remember that name, Ian Mellul, he was inspired by this community and the investments we made. We have to keep making them, they make a difference.

We’ve never been about the lowest common denominator in Delray…a core value of our city has always been having a vision, investing in it and working together to achieve the dream.

Last week, Joe Gillie called me and asked if I wanted to have lunch with Libby Wesley…that’s a name all of us should know.  We throw around words like legendary and greatness all the time…well Libby is truly legendary…she is truly great. And she was an educator….who touched thousands of lives during her career and in her later years through the Roots Festival, which celebrated education, culture and art.

When we used to meet at City Hall  Mrs. Wesley  talked to me about a covenant; a bond, a pact made between people who want to see a city thrive so that all people could seize the opportunities created by a vibrant city. Whether it’s a job or a chance to go medical school or a place to experience art; community has to work for all if it is to work at all. I will say that again, community has to work for all if it is to work at all. And It begins and ends with education.

I’ll close with these words from Nelson Mandela, because they are so true and so important… we need to live and breathe these words: “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

We’ve changed Delray through our investment in education. There’s a more work to do.  Let’s go change the world.

Weekend Best Bets: Panic at the Disco Edition

The latest Arts Garage production.

The latest Arts Garage production.



Book and Lyrics: Chris Diamond

 Music: Michael Kooman



The judge rules over her reality television courtroom with an iron fist, presiding over a three-ring circus of America’s most chaotic cases. But, when a drop in ratings brings her face to face with the liability of her own love life, the judge must learn to navigate the ludicrous laws of love in this over-the-top courtroom comedy.

Visit for ticket information.


“Cuban Son”

 Sat, 8/16, 8pm &

 Sun, 8/17, 7pm


As seen on Dancing with the Stars and The Tonight Show, Miami-based Cuban stars Tiempo Libre follow-up their 2012 and 2013 sold-out Arts Garage concerts with two high voltage shows featuring a stunning, dance-inducing mix of Latin Jazz, R&B and traditional Cuban music.


Live Nation presents: PANIC! AT THE DISCO

 With special guests Walk The Moon and Youngblood Hawke


Friday, August 15th, 2014 at 7:30PM, doors open at 6:30.

 Panic! At The Disco has announced their biggest outing yet: The Gospel Tour.

Hot on the heels of sold-out headline dates on their Too Weird Tour, the band is taking their incendiary live show across the U.S. this summer.  Tickets availalbe through Ticketmaster. A limited number of upper level VIP seats are available by calling (305) 938-2510. Please no outside food or beverages, chairs, or umbrellas.  Free parking is available at City Hall and the Downtown Libraries.  Preferred parking available adjacent to the amphitheater for $20.


Sounds of the Big Bands” With The SYMPHONIA Boca Raton Brass


Sunday, August 17th, 2014 at 7:00PM


Free summer concert series. Food and beverages will be available for purchase on site and chairs will also be available to rent for $5.00. No coolers, outside food and beverages or pets allowed. There is free parking at City Hall and the Downtown libraries.


Water Cooler Wednesday: Delray Charter Amendment

Delray will vote on a critical charter change Aug. 26

Delray will vote on a critical charter change Aug. 26

On August 26, voters in Delray Beach will head to the polls and decide whether to change the charter which mandates that only a super majority vote can remove a city manager.

It’s an important issue for voters to decide because a city manager is an extremely important position in a council/manager form of government.

I’m writing this having had the benefit of 7 years’ experience as an elected official in Delray Beach, including four years as mayor and over a decade of experience covering city government as a journalist. I have been studying Delray city government since 1987.

   I was there in the 1980s when we had a revolving door and I’ve seen stability at City Hall as well. While I understand and respect why the super majority was instituted, I have always felt it was poor public policy. In fact, I have had a friendly but vigorous debate with those who supported the super majority for close to 20 years.

   In a representative democracy it is important that the buck stop with elected officials who can be held accountable by the voters. This is especially true in a council-manager form of government in which day to day responsibility is entrusted to a non-elected chief executive. That means for an elected official to succeed–he or she–has to have a strong relationship with city staff through the city manager. The Commission sets goals and policy (hopefully with ample citizen input), but relies on staff to get it done. It’s a partnership. If one side of the partnership is lacking and the elected officials cannot hold them accountable, trouble ensues.

 The only leverage that citizens and taxpayers have over government is at the ballot box. That is why it is critical that elected officials be able to insist on accountability and performance from city staff, particularly the city manager. If a simple majority of elected officials cannot count on a city manager to do the job and cannot dismiss the manager, we end up with a very large problem. If commissioners and mayors aren’t cutting it, we can and have fired them at election time. If a manager isn’t performing, it has been very difficult to do so under our current charter.


   While a super majority may protect a manager from some of the vagaries of politics, in reality it makes the executive virtually bullet-proof. That is not a good outcome for the community.

   It is difficult– if not impossible– to have accountability when executives know that their employers cannot remove them from office even if a majority of elected officials feel strongly that the community is not being served.

 I can think of no precedent in the public or private sector where it makes sense to allow an executive to serve against the will of a majority of his or her supervisors; especially when those supervisors represent the public.

 As for the risk that we will be encouraging instability, I would argue that the voters can exercise checks on their elected representatives. I would rather we risk losing someone good than risk not being able to dismiss someone who is not up to the job or doing damage to our city and staff.

 I have a deep appreciation for the difficulty of the city manager’s position in a city as complex as Delray Beach.

 A successful manager needs to be financially astute, politically savvy (but not political), energetic, passionate and willing to make hard decisions to achieve the best outcomes for the long term good of the organization and the community.

 He or she needs to be able to develop a team, to evaluate talent, to understand technology, work with the community and manage people in a way that motivates them to go above and beyond. A successful manager also needs to be able to work effectively with elected officials and understand that they are the policymakers and that is the staff’s job to achieve commission goals efficiently.

 I have heard the argument that eliminating the super majority will make the job less desirable. I would argue that great managers/leaders don’t worry about those considerations.

 We have worked hard and created one of the most desirable cities in America. I believe we should be able to attract the best management available in the marketplace. There are few cities in America with the assets and strengths of Delray Beach, not to mention the pedigree of success. This is a very desirable job and this charter change will not change that.

  A yes vote will ensure that current and future City Managers will be accountable to Delray’s stakeholders. Vote on August 26.


Boca Museum Art School Open House

Indulge your creativity

Indulge your creativity

 For all of you aspiring artists, you won’t want to miss the upcoming Open House at the Boca Raton Museum of Art – The Art School.


Take a class this fall

Take a class this fall

This free annual event will be held Saturday, August 23, from 1-4 p.m. at the school located at 801 West Palmetto Park Road, one mile east of 1-95.


Visitors will be able to view the faculty exhibit and meet  the artists/teachers in the art studios and discuss their classes.


“We have, perhaps, the finest faculty in South Florida,” said Walter O’Neill, director. “Potential students will be able to visit with these teachers to get a preview of the classes and to see some of the outstanding artwork being produced by the faculty.”


The Art School offers a wide range of classes in virtually every medium and discipline for beginners to experienced artists. Classes are offered in portraiture, still life and landscape painting, as well as photography, pottery, collage, jewelry making and sculpture, among many others.   Award-winning teachers lead classes in oil, watercolor, acrylic, and drawing, to name just a few.


“This is a perfect time to meet the teachers and learn more about the adult art classes,” added O’Neill. “Visitors will be able to visit the studios and see short demonstrations on making pottery, stone carving, print making, and other techniques.”


There will be a free raffle to win $100 discount on an art course. Each person who signs up for a class during Open House receives a one-day pass for two at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

For more information:

Boca Raton Museum of Art – The Art School

801 W. Palmetto Road, Boca Raton FL 33486

Telephone 561-392-2503

Visit for information about upcoming art classes.





Weekend Best Bets: Pillow Talk & More

Celebrating the music of Billy Joel

Celebrating the music of Billy Joel

The weekend is here. Be safe and enjoy!

Billy Joel Tribute at Mizner

Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 7:30PM

The City of Boca Raton continues its Friday Night Summer Tribute Series with a tribute to Billy Joel featuring the popular band  Turnstiles.  Say  goodbye to Hollywood, and come Downtown to join friends, neighbors, and fellow music lovers for a great night of live music under the stars. If you think this is a free event, you may be right.  Blankets  and chairs are welcome. Food and beverages will be available for purchase on site. No coolers, outside food and beverages or pets allowed. We will also have chairs available to rent for $5.00. There is free parking at City Hall and the libraries

Mother, Me & The Monsters | Fri, 8/8 7:30pm, Delray’s Arts Garage | Concert Play-reading

 The hilarious and heartbreaking true story of Sam’s relationship with his mother over the course of four dads and three divorces, and his evolving friendship with the monster under his bed. The show was first presented in a workshop production by Barrington Stage and was named a Critic’s Pick by the Boston Globe. From acclaimed composer of “The Trouble With Doug”, Will Aronson, with book and lyrics by Sam Salmond.

   Divorce has never been so much fun! Mention yours when you call for tickets, and receive 10% off. 561-450-6357

The Other Side of the Pillow

Meet Zane at the Spady Museum.

The NY Times Bestselling Author of 30 books, the publisher of Strebor Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster, the Creator – Scriptwriter and Executive Producer of two Cinemax series: Zane’s Sex Chronicles and Zane’s The Jump Off will be at Delray’s Spady Museum Tuesday evening.

To set the mood, you’ll also experience music by saxophonist extraordinaire and Miami native Jesse Jones, Jr. (He’s amazing).

A festive evening with refreshments including wine & cheese, music, prizes and booksigning.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

6pm – 8pm

$20 per person; $35 per couple

  Call 561.279.8883 for more information.

Water Cooler Wednesday: Think and Do Tanks

We'd add experiment and engage.

We’d add experiment and engage.

Hailing a taxi in Mexico City can be dangerous.
While there are more than 100,000 official cabs roaming the streets, many pirated cabs are painted in the same drab red and gold colors and blend right in. More than 400 taxi robberies were reported to police in 2013. Most taxi users with the means to pay have switched to more expensive but safer options such as “sitio” taxis, executive services or Uber, with rides that come when you call them.
But Mexico City isn’t giving up on traditional cabs. To make the experience of hailing one safer, the city recently launched Traxi, a free smartphone app. Once a cab pulls over, a user can enter the license number on the side of the cab or snap a photo of the cab’s license plate. That action brings up city data that can instantly say whether the cab is registered or not. If the rider chooses to ride and gets in trouble, the app includes a panic button that sends an alert to the police department.
Traxi is one of six citizen-focused apps produced by Mexico City’s Laboratorio para la Ciudad, or LabPLC, a new smart-city project begun by Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera. Just as Traxi attempts to improve the chaotic experience of riding taxis in Mexico City, Laboratorio itself aims to help transform the city of 21 million into a well-connected digital metropolis.
LabPLC is one of the latest “innovation labs” to pop up in cities around the world. Launched in February of last year, it joined similar efforts in Boston, San Francisco, Singapore, the UK and other places to create a sort of urban skunkworks where creative people in and out of city government can invent and test new ideas and technologies. As Gabriela Gómez-Mont, the leader of the Mexico City lab, put it in a recent interview, “We see ourselves as the experimental think tank of Mexico City’s government.”
Urban “think and do tanks” are an intriguing idea.
First, it allows bright minds to “hack” government so to speak and we all know that government can use some innovation and new ideas.
Second it’s a great way to engage citizens and build community.
In Delray, there has been a long history of community involvement through the “charrette” process. A charrette is a  meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions. The charrette can function as a pop-up think tank and has been wildly successful in Delray.
Other communities have used the process as well.
Local entrepreneur Irene Revelas has also been successful in hosting “hackathons” in which a group of bright minds get together to concentrate on solving a specific problem. Last year, she led a process at Delray Center for the Arts which yielded some interesting outside the box ideas. Delray Center also had success with a charrette a few years back which led to the creation of its popular Friday Night Music Series which has been a good fundraiser for the organization.
But perhaps, a more permanent think tank is in order, a place where you know you can plug in and meet with other interesting minds to discuss important issues and ideas.
Ideally, the place or space would be safe, where you can debate ideas without fear.
Too often, the public square can be nasty and rife with attacks.
I get it, if you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen, but wouldn’t it be productive to have a lab where the discussion could be civil and intelligent.
There’s plenty of places to vent your spleen, but few where you can really dig in and problem solve.
Sounds like an opportunity. If you’re interested, let us know.