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Deadline Artists

Russell Baker was an inspiration to a generation of journalists.

 

These last few weeks have been special for those of us who love newspapers.

The great newspaper reporters were being celebrated and it was wonderful to read about their exploits.

Sadly, the great Russell Baker passed away at the age of 93, but his passing led to an outburst of writing and appreciation by those who loved his work.

The best selling author of “ Good Times” and “Growing Up” and a long time New York Times columnist, Russell Baker was an American original. His writing sparkled with insights and humor. They just don’t make em like Russell Baker anymore.

On the heels of Baker’s passing,  HBO released a documentary called “Deadline Artists” which chronicled the colorful careers of New York tabloid legends Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin.
They broke the mold when they made those guys.

Breslin wrote legendary stories on the JFK assassination and the Son of Sam killer by veering away from the pack and finding angles that other reporters missed.

That’s not an easy thing to do.

For instance, how do you stand out from the horde of reporters covering that fateful November day in 1963?

Answer: You find the doctor who treated the president and glean all sorts of details about his day before he gets the fateful call that would change history. What did he eat for lunch? What was he doing and thinking right before being called to do the impossible: save a gravely wounded president. That’s how you file a story that adds to the record and humanizes history.

As for Hamill, well he was dashing and lived a large life in a large city.

All three journalism giants practiced their craft during a golden age for newspapers in New York when the Times, Post, Herald Tribune and Daily News carved up New York and covered every square inch of the Apple.

I read book after book about this era of newspapering because newspapers were my first professional passion and frankly I couldn’t get enough information on those days and those characters.

I grew up with Newsday and my local weekly the Three Village Herald, a paper I would later write for—albeit briefly.

I caught the last great wave of the newspaper life working for papers in upstate New York and right here in Delray and Boca.

I shared newsrooms with people who worked for some truly great papers and some supermarket tabloids too.

They all had great stories.

About life.

About life on deadline.

About mistakes they made.

About scoops they scored and scoundrels they nailed.

There was just no better place to spend a day than a newsroom with creative people who wrote, edited, designed, photographed and ultimately glued and pasted the stories of this community on great big “flats” before they were sent downstairs to run on the great big offset presses that were just awesome.

The pay was terrible. The stress could be crazy. The deadlines stressful and the sources weird, wacky and wonderful but what a job!
You went out and found stories. You came back to the newsroom and told them.

Nobody told them better than Baker, Breslin and Hamill.

They were gold standard we strived to match but never did.
But my oh my did we have fun trying.

Things We Loved In November

Frances Bourque is a legend…and we love her.

Things we loved In November
Great to see children’s advocate and all around good guy Jack Levine featured as an “Icon” In November’s Florida Trend.
I got to know Jack thanks to our mutual involvement in Leadership Florida. He’s a frequent visitor to Boca and Delray and we’ve had some memorable dinners on the Avenue.
Jack is a prolific writer and shares his essays via email. He’s the founder of the 4Gen Institute which studies how our society now features four generations: children, parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
Being featured as an Icon is a fitting honor.

Also in Florida Trend, Delray’s own Felicia Hatcher who is featured in an article spotlighting women leaders.
Felicia is the founder of Code Fever, Black Tech Week and is a gifted entrepreneur.

The Boys

Dinner with my sister in law in Delray’s Country Manors. I love Country Manors. Something about it.
I also love my sister in law’s pasta and meatballs from The Boys.

Congratulations to George Elmore the 2018 American Free Enterprise Medalist. The nationally recognized medal is awarded by Palm Beach Atlantic University on American Free Enterprise Day which is Nov. 8.
Well done.

Happy birthday to a special friend

Happy birthday and thank you to Debbie Smith Stackhouse.
We enjoyed attending your party at the lovely Seagate Yacht Club but mostly we love having you in our lives.

The Kominsky Method and The Bodyguard on Netflix make us marvel at the quality of TV these days. BRAVÒ.

Don’t miss Bohemian Rhapsody and make sure to see it on the big screen.
The music is outstanding and the performances are amazing.
We saw it at Frank’s Theatre at the Delray Marketplace and the sound was excellent.

Delray is a tennis town

It was nice to see Delray’s Kevin Anderson playing in the year end ATP World Tour Finals consisting of the world’s best players.
A past Delray Open champ, Anderson held his own with the likes of Federer and Nadal reaching the semifinals. Very cool.
Speaking of the Delray Open connection long time tournament participants Jack Sock and Mike Bryan won the doubles event cementing their claim on being the top doubles duo in the world.

On a sad note, we mark the passing of Linda Lieberman.
Linda was a devoted volunteer and gave a lot to junior tennis in Delray.
I will always remember Linda for her work with the Delray Tennis Patrons and for always being there to greet fans at the Delray Open where she could be found every year selling programs.
She was a bright light who will be missed.

We were happy to welcome back Fran Marincola and Kim Thomas after their 78 day adventure traveling across the United States in an RV.
We missed you guys but loved the daily updates on social media.

Captain Fantastic

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour was sensational.
Glad we saw the legend at BB&T before he retires from the road.
It’s also cool to see that our young friends (Lyle and Marisa) appreciate the music of the baby boomer generation. It makes us old folks feel good.

Congratulations Frances Bourque

Maybe the best news we received all month was when we got a letter from University of Florida President Kent Fuchs naming our very own Frances Bourque as a winner of the “Distinguished Achievement Award.”
The award is one of the most prestigious given by UF and honors people for exceptional leadership.
We can’t think of anyone more deserving. For those who don’t know, Frances founded Old School Square and is largely responsible for a whole lot of good in Delray.  A group of Frances’ biggest fans wrote letters of recommendation after prompting by Frances’ sister.
It was nice to see the effort pay off.
She will receive her award at a future commencement.
So cool!

See you next month! Thanks for reading and enjoy the holiday season.

A Woman of Grace

Deborah Dowd at the Women of Grace luncheon.

Every now and then, you meet someone who exudes goodness. 
My friend Deborah Dowd is such a person. 
I’ve known Deborah for many years now.  She’s inspiring, kind and dedicated and earlier this week she was recognized by the Bethesda Hospital Foundation during their “Women of Grace” luncheon. 

 
The event—celebrated before a huge crowd at the Delray Beach Marriott—honors women who devote their lives to making a lasting difference as volunteers in our community. 
Past winners include luminaries such as Frances Bourque, Barbara Backer and Sister Mary Clare Fennell.


It’s hard to imagine our community without these incredible women. They have shaped, molded and inspired so many. 
Deborah Dowd is in good company and she’s a deserving honoree. 


While she was cited for her incredible work on behalf of the Achievement Center for Children and Families, she’s also been dedicated to Old School Square and has served on a slew of important city advisory boards. 
Deborah was also an amazing teacher enjoying a stellar career distinguishing herself as a reading specialist. She touched generations of kids and she seems to remember them all. 
Just as important—they remember her.

She told the story of running into a former student at a local Walmart recently. She taught the young man in 1976. He remembered her. How cool is that?
Great teachers touch lives. I’m still in touch with a few of mine—including my favorite of all time Mr. Romanelli. He was my fourth grade teacher. I hope you’re still in touch with a few of your favorites.
Knowing Deborah it’s easy to imagine her as being the favorite of scores of students. 


Her local volunteering efforts also indicate her wonderful taste in nonprofits. The Achievement Center is a model organization transforming the lives of so many children and families in Delray. 
Deborah describes the center as her “happy place.”  That description resonates. It’s perfect. If you haven’t visited the Achievement Center, make it a point; I promise you won’t be disappointed. You will be uplifted. It’s that good. 


Old School Square is another cause near and dear to Deborah’s big heart. She’s a super board member and volunteer for this important Delray Beach institution. 
And let me assure you, she’s appreciated. Deeply appreciated. 
Kudos to Bethesda Hospital for recognizing these amazing women:

Debralyn Belletieri– American Association of Caregiving Youth

Gail Oliver– Gift of Life Marrow Registry

Beth Schatman– Alzheimer’s Community Care

Patricia Tormey– Forgotten Soldiers Outreach


It’s important to say thank you to special people. It’s important to show gratitude and it’s important to volunteer as Deborah and so many demonstrate each and every day. 
Women of Grace one and all. Role models for us all. 

Things We Liked & Happy Birthday America

Life has been such a whirlwind that we forgot our list of things we liked in May.

So this post will include a round up for May and June, while wishing you a safe and happy Independence Day.

Dinner at Baciami, a great spot in Boynton, owned by a Delray resident with two great Boca/Delray people Perry and Diana Don Francisco. Great food, great service, awesome atmosphere. We went back with more friends in June. Highly recommended.

Delray Craft Beer Fest—especially the grapefruit beer. Some of my less evolved friends poke fun at my appreciation for “fruity” flavored beers. I say, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Catching the movie “Tully” starring the immensely talented Charlize Theron in a decidedly non glamorous part. Well written, a nice way to spend a rainy spring day. We also saw “Book Club” at Cinemark Boca. As we move well into our AARP years it is nice to see mature romance portrayed on the big screen. Diane Keaton remains as charming as she was in Annie Hall.

Bob Costin got a smart phone. The legendary former Delray Beach City Commissioner who avoided email and the Internet for decades finally gave in. Now if only he would text us.

Breakfast at Christina’s…it’s not just the Tabanero hot sauce, it’s the omelets. The best around.

Attending the FAU Sandler College of Social Work’s 2018 induction ceremony. To see 110 social workers honored brought tears to our eyes. They are heroes.

Happiness is being able to talk to Fran Marincola about something other than parking. Especially when that something is Springsteen on Broadway. Make sure you stop by Caffe Luna Rosa to see the Springsteen signed guitar we were able to snag on Touch of Modern.

Lunch at Mario’s on Glades. Just plain good.

Leadership Florida…it’s always inspiring.

Lunch with Andrew Duffel of the FAU Research Park. Always informative and always thought provoking. Not to mention the sublime food at Cuban Cafe.

The Joe Cotton Band Live At the Crest. Original songs. Great performances. Good crowd. A tambourine. Long live rock. Catch them when you can.

True Kitchen and Fresh Kitchen. Both in Boca. Both really good. And healthy too. Bolay too..delish.

Dinner at Domus in Boca. So good. Fresh pasta, an exuberant chef and a nice atmosphere.

Meeting Tony, Val and Maks of Dancing With the Stars Fame at their new dance studio at the Town Center Mall. Thanks to the Kaye’s for the invite.
Now if only The Bachelor would relocate here.

The Front Porch—this historic Delray spot is a great place for a summer salad, parmesan dumplings and great specialty cocktails. Check it out.

As summer heats up, we urge you to shop and dine local. In the past few weeks, we enjoyed visiting Vintage Tap, Harvest, 5th Avenue Grill, La Cigale, Oleo, Boheme, Brule, Papas Tapas and Deli on Rye. It’s nice to walk in and grab a table, even nicer to keep our local businesses successful during the slow months.

Finally, on a sad note we mourn the loss of two terrific Delray people: Dr. Fred Love and Pasqual Ranich.

Dr. Love was a wonderful guy who was a big part of an historic Delray family. We enjoyed a very nice relationship. I spent some time this month reading old emails he sent. He was always a gentleman and we had some wonderful discussions about Delray. A true gentleman.

Pasqual was a sweet man. We met when he was working at Boston’s on the Beach and I was privileged to help when he opened the Hurricane which he quickly built into a favorite local spot.
I will miss his smile and we will all miss his kindness. Just a wonderful guy.

Have a safe and enjoyable 4th. See you next week.

Better Angels….

They got the ‘damn paper’ out the next day. Those of us who know journalists knew they would.

It’s dangerous to be a journalist.

Five were murdered last week in Annapolis, Maryland.

It’s dangerous to tell the truth and dangerous to share a community’s stories because there are people who don’t want the truth to be told. Especially if it challenges their worldview or their actions.

We are living in a society that’s rapidly dividing. One of the symptoms of that division is we now have our own set of facts. You have yours and I have mine.

And that’s dangerous too.

The most dangerous people in our society are those who are so cemented in their politics that no amount of information, no science, no research, no argument, no amount of logic can get them to consider another point of view.

So some angry, twisted and lethally armed lunatic who lost a defamation suit against the Capital Gazette newspaper decides to walk in and murder his community’s fact seekers and story tellers.

Journalism is a tight knit profession and having been in the field for a long time (in a prior life) you tend to know people in newsrooms throughout the land. I didn’t know Rob Hiassen even though he worked at the Palm Beach Post in the 90s. But I knew his nephew Scott Hiassen who covered Delray in the 90s.

Scott’s dad is Carl Hiassen, a legendary Miami Herald columnist and bestselling author. Carl was Rob’s brother and now Rob is gone for good. And it makes me sad. It makes me angry.

It stings because I’ve worked in newsrooms and they are full of life, humor, knowledge, stories, history, smarts and talent. The people who work there are overworked and underpaid. They work there—if they are lucky to have a job these days—because they love to write, they believe being a journalist is important work, they know in their bones that what they do every day is essential to Democracy.

They don’t always get it right. They miss stories. They make mistakes. There are reporters and editors who are biased—some of that comes with being human and some of it comes because they play favorites and also because they are human. I think we forget that sometimes.

 But there are many journalists who do an amazing job writing the first draft of history, who ferret out the facts, tell the stories, and do the investigations. There are many who report on the everyday too—the often boring city commission meetings, the stories on budgets, taxes, police, high school sports, library programs etc.

If we pay attention to their work, we learn about our communities. If we tune out, we lose out.

There was a time when newspapers were the water coolers of our towns and cities. They were on every lawn, every morning or every week and they kept us informed as neighbors. They built community. They gave us a common frame of reference.

The Internet changed all of that. Newspapers are struggling which is unfortunate because they are still essential to our Democracy and the health of our communities.

You can’t get local news on the Internet in many, many places. That’s starting to change but the business model is still evolving and the big challenge is finding the revenue to support quality journalism.

Even though I long ago left daily journalism, journalism has never left me. I still see the world as a reporter does. I enjoy stories. I look at things and say to myself ‘now that would be a great story’ and I get disappointed when the journalists on the local beat here in Delray Beach and Boca Raton miss what I know to be happening. Trust me, the best stories go untold.

We even invested in a local newspaper because we believe in the power of the medium and the need to cover stories and express opinions even if those opinions rankle the powers that be.

We didn’t buy a local newspaper because we saw it as a quick path to riches and fame. We bought the paper because we care about our community and we want to tell stories that may otherwise go untold. Our July issue—fresh on the stands is a case in point full of stories on local people, businesses, events and charities.

In the absence of a professionally edited and curated water cooler we get the wild west—trolls, haters, rumors, falsehoods, innuendo, misogyny, racism, bots, hackers, content farms—real fake news which is different than news you don’t like or that doesn’t toe the party line.

We are at a dangerous inflection point in America.

We are labeling the free press a danger to our Democracy when in fact it’s a guarantor—regardless of its imperfections.

I’ve been on both sides of the notebook so I know what it takes to do the job. I tried to get it right when I was on the local government, features and police beat. I tried to give context, I tried to quote people correctly and I tried to get the facts right and explain it in a way that made sense.

My old editor, Tom Sawyer (his real name) drilled into his troops the need to get out into the community. He implored us to develop sources beyond the usual suspects, dig for information, double and triple check names, facts, figures etc. He urged us to listen and write stories that explained how decisions—budget, zoning, policy—would impact our reader’s lives.

We frustrated him at times. My lasting image of him in my mind’s eye is Tom with his head in his hands, his face red, his eyes tired from reading and being challenged by a group of free-spirited storytellers. Yeah, sometimes he barked at the moon, but we knew he liked us.

On my first day on the job, 31 years ago this month, he took me to lunch with a few others to Tom Sawyer’s restaurant on Boca Raton Boulevard. I was 22 and very happy to be in Florida and to have a job. He assigned me to a place called Delray Beach, which is where I ended up living because it was much more affordable than Boca. It was all friendly until he told me that they named the restaurant after him and therefore I should never let him down or disappoint him. I was gullible (journalism cured me of my gullibility in short course) and I believed him, sort of.

I went to work in a newsroom with wonderful people, who were smart, funny, ferociously curious, fearless, creative and mostly nice.

Since that special time I have worked in a slew of other places with a bunch of other special people but nothing was as consistently interesting/creative as that old newsroom on East Rogers Circle and later on Fairway Drive in Deerfield Beach.

So I suspect that the newsroom at the Capital Gazette was special too. And to think of five people killed, others injured and terrorized in such a creative and important place….well it just really stings.

We best find our ‘better angels’ as Abraham Lincoln implored us to do before the Civil War. Or we will repeat history and ruin a damn fine thing, which is America itself.

 

In Praise of the Research Park

I’m a big fan of the Research Park at FAU and its CEO Andrew Duffell.

The park has become a major economic engine for Palm Beach County and beyond serving as warm and inviting place for talented entrepreneurs and researchers to build and scale their companies.

That’s important, because “economic gardening”–growing your own so to speak is smart policy.

As far as I’m concerned, Northern Virginia can have Amazon and its H2 Headquarters (and that’s where it’s going folks), I’d rather save incentive money and grow our own company’s right here at home. The Research Park is a good example of how that can work.

The Park’s impact has been profound– if somewhat unsung– in a region where it is hard to gain appreciation.

The 2017 numbers—which never tell the whole story—are nonetheless impressive. Consider:

  1. $387 million of investment capital raised
  2. $535.65 million in economic impact
  3. $67 million in annual payroll
  4. 3,088 total jobs sustained, that’s direct and indirect employment with another 250 jobs plus planned.
  5. 33 companies housed.
  6. 16 new patents in 2017.

On October 3, the FAU Research Park will host its annual awards banquet at The Addison in Boca.

It’s the fourth annual awards ceremony and it’s really a terrific idea to celebrate the success of the park and shine a spotlight on some of the standout players making it happen.

This is the power of having a university and a research park in our community. And the best is yet to come because I believe in the leadership of the park and their track record of results.

“The recipients of this year’s Research Park at FAU awards are all hugely impactful to the mission of the Research Park – to foster R&D at FAU and foster economic development in our region,” said Mr. Duffell, president and chief executive officer of the Research Park at FAU. “We are grateful to each for their unique contributions and hope that they inspire our stakeholders.”

The Research Park awards recognize distinguished contributions to the Research Park’s mission to create and sustain the ideal environment for innovation and invention, maximizing the academic and entrepreneurial talent and regional resources in South Florida to accelerate economic development and prosperity.

The award recipients for 2018 are:

Distinguished Researcher: Gregg Fields, Ph.D. is a professor, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of the Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. Fields applies chemistry in novel ways to answer important biological questions, many of which assist in the diagnosis and treatment of major diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis and cancer. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a renowned researcher who holds six U.S. patents and has one application being reviewed. The technology developed by Fields has resulted in three commercial products, currently sold by five different companies. He has authored or coauthored more than 260 scientific publications and has presented more than 190 invited lectures.

 

Distinguished Entrepreneur: Daniel Cane is the chief executive officer and co-founder of South Florida-based Modernizing Medicine, Inc., a healthcare IT company that is revolutionizing the way in which healthcare information is created, consumed and utilized to increase practice efficiency and improve patient outcomes. Joining the Research Park in 2012, Modernizing Medicine has grown to more than 650 employees and has raised more than $332 million in total investment. In 2016, the South Florida Business Journal named Cane as a “South Florida Ultimate CEO.” In 2015, he was named “EY Entrepreneur of the Year®.” Cane earned the Excalibur Award for Palm Beach Small Business Leader of the Year for 2013. Additionally, he also was named “Palm Beach County Ultimate CEO” by the South Florida Business Journal and “CEO of the Year” by CEO World. Recently, he and his wife, Debra, donated $1 million to FAU’s A.D. Henderson University School for STEM education initiatives.

Mr. Cane is a local product hailing from Lake Worth. What makes Dan extra special is that despite the rigors of running a hyper growth company, he has taken the time to be visible and accessible to local entrepreneurs and organizations. It makes a difference, because Mr. Cane serves as an inspiration and a role model for those aspiring to make a dent in business.

 

Distinguished Leader: Steven L. Abrams has been a member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners since 2009, winning re-election twice. Abrams has a lengthy record of public service. He is the former mayor of Boca Raton, elected in 2001 and re-elected in 2003 without opposition. In the 2005 election for mayor, Abrams received the most votes in city history and was later named mayor emeritus when he stepped down in 2008 due to term limits. Abrams’ work in regional transportation has been instrumental in the success of the Research Park at FAU’s access to Tri-Rail and the new I-95 interchange at Spanish River Boulevard, making the Research Park at FAU the only research park to have a direct on-ramp to an interstate.

Mayor Steven has been a terrific friend over the years and has served with distinction wherever he has landed. Many years ago, we went after Scripps together leading our cities joint efforts to bring the institute to Boca. While we fell one vote short, Steven showed his mettle and his commitment to economic development. He’s a very worthy recipient.

 

Distinguished Organization: Small Business Development Center at FAU delivered substantial consulting and training services in 2016 that resulted in a significant return on investment, including delivering more than 13,000 hours of consulting to 1,360 entrepreneurs at no cost. The SBDC’s services resulted in the creation and retention of almost 6,000 jobs in our region, and generated almost $700 million in sales. The SBDC’s role in Florida’s economic development by assisting entrepreneurs in every stage of the business life cycle is invaluable and an important complement to the greater FAU community.

To purchase tickets to attend the event visit www.research-park.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Things We Love: November Edition

Fifth Avenue Grill’s holiday decorations are a Delray tradition.

Things we liked/loved in November…

Thanksgiving at Fifth Avenue Grill—great food, unmatchable holiday decorations and terrific service add up to a great experience. While we prefer staying home for the holidays, with kids spread out and other family traveling, we decided to go out. We had a memorable time.

The Cornerman Bar—Have you seen the Delray Boxing Gym? It’s incredibly cool. On the other side of the glass you can sit at a great bar and watch the action and be served by the amazing Marit Fitzpatrick. You can also enjoy Copperpoint beer and other libations and dream of hoisting your own championship belt. A very unique concept. Only in Delray as they say.

Breakfast gatherings at Ellie’s 50s Diner. Bob Smela and his lovely wife were pioneers on the North Federal Highway corridor more than two decades ago. Today, they and their great team are still thriving serving great breakfasts, awesome lunches and great dinners at fair prices. When I can, I like to go on Friday mornings when I’m sure to run into some great Delray people. Topics range from politics and business to family and our aches and pains. Count me grateful to have people to share with.

Old School Bakery—Billy Himmelrich and his team bake the best bread imaginable at a terrific facility on Congress Avenue in Delray Beach. When you visit, you’ll be taken by the great aroma of bread baking. Warning: the bread can be addictive.

The new Cornell Museum—thanks to a generous gift by the Blume’s—two wonderful people—the Cornell Museum has been re-imagined and it’s truly incredible. Don’t take my word for it—visit the new museum at Old School Square. You will be impressed. We guarantee it.

 Dinner at Café Martier—We love the historic ambience of this Atlantic Avenue gem. Great signature cocktails, an interesting menu and a choice between dining in a really historic restaurant or a very hip breezeway. It adds up to a winning experience. We recommend the falafel appetizer and the hummus is out of this world.

The Walk to Cure Arthritis—Ok the event is actually in December (Dec. 2 to be exact) at John Prince Park but we wanted to alert you because there is still time to be a sponsor and support the Arthritis Foundation. It’s a great cause and a great organization. Visit www.walktocurearthritis.org/palmbeach for more information and to get involved.

The Blackberry Cider at Saltwater Brewery—Ok, so most of you don’t go to a brewery to taste the cider, but we did and we loved it.

Deli On Rye—If you are looking for a p lace that can quickly whip up a great sandwich on those days when you are on the run, look no further than Deli on Rye on U.S. 1 in Boca. The friendly staff is lightning fast and the food is always good.

Special shout out to our good friend Chuck Halberg of Stuart and Shelby Development for his crowdfunding efforts that made sure our public safety personnel had good food and cheer on Thanksgiving. We are proud to support Chuck’s efforts, which are always heart felt and generous. Also, a shout out to Kate Volman and Ryan Boylston co-hosts/creators of Delray Morning Live. The Facebook show (which has a large and growing following/buzz) recently marked its one year anniversary. It’s a great forum to showcase community events, news, non-profits and people doing good things for Delray. Check it out on Wednesday mornings at 8:30 on Facebook’s Better Delray page. The show is archived so you can watch it at your leisure.

Have a great December!

 

Rankings, Ratings & Quality of Life

Leawood, Kansas seems like a great place but…

The personal-finance website WalletHub has released its report on 2017’s Best Small Cities in America.

It’s interesting and provocative.

Boca Raton scored high on most measurements, but the analysis revealed some areas of concern. And Delray Beach—despite being the great city we know it to be—has some work to do if you believe the indicators.

First the highlights:

WalletHub’s analysts compared more than 1,200 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 across 33 key indicators of livability. They range from housing costs to school-system quality to restaurants per capita.

 

Top 20 Small Cities in America    

  1. Princeton, NJ   11. Newton, MA
  2. Lexington, MA   12. Melrose, MA
  3. Leawood, KS   13. Brookfield, WI
  4. Milton, MA   14. Sammamish, WA
  5. Brentwood, TN   15. Kirkland, WA

6 .Los Altos, CA   16. Saratoga, CA

  1. Carmel, IN   17. Dublin, OH
  2. Needham, MA   18. Palo Alto, CA
  3. Holly Springs, NC   19. Westfield, NJ
  4. Littleton, CO   20. Fishers, IN

 

Best vs. Worst

  • The Villages, Florida, has the highest homeownership rate, 96.25 percent, which is 108.1 times higher than in Fort Hood, Texas, the city with the lowest at 0.89 percent.

 

  • Plainfield, Illinois, has the lowest share of the population living below poverty level, 1.90 percent, which is 27.5 times lower than in Statesboro, Georgia, the city with the highest at 52.3 percent.

 

  • Fort Hood, Texas, has the shortest average commute time, 11.2 minutes, which is 3.9 times shorter than in Lake Elsinore, California, the city with the longest at 43.6 minutes.

 

  • East Lansing, Michigan, has the fewest average hours worked per week, 28.2, which is 1.7 times fewer than in Fort Hood, Texas, the city with the most at 49.1.

I would suspect that many of us who live in Delray and Boca wouldn’t trade living here for anywhere else—especially now that the good weather has kicked in. I don’t think there are too many people who would look at the rankings and sell their home in Lake Ida or Woodfield Country Club for a home in number 3 ranked Leawood, Kansas either. (No offense to Leawood, we’re sure it’s wonderful).

So where do we rank?

Delray ranked in the 60th percentile—the top cities were in the 99th percentile. Boca ranked in the 98th percentile.

Delray’s overall score of 57.62, trailed Boca which scored a 66.01. Number one ranked Princeton scored a 73.36.

Delray ranked 870th on affordability—not a surprise considering the run-up in home prices and the lack of new product on the market. Boca ranked 733rd on affordability.

Delray’s economic health ranked 436th with Boca coming in at 224—hard to imagine that there are that many cities healthier than Boca which seems to rake in companies and jobs by the truckloads. On the education and health measurement Delray ranked 728 and Boca 520.

Delray scored an impressive number 51 on the all-important quality of life ranking with Boca an even more impressive number 14. Interestingly, my guess is that residents of each city wouldn’t trade places—both cities are appealing for different reasons. Sarasota ranked number one in quality of life—and if you’ve visited lately you’ll see why.

On safety, Delray scored number 924 and Boca 543.

Lots to chew on certainly.

Rankings, awards, contests etc., are fun to debate, but in the end they are just numbers and things. It’s hard to measure a community’s spirit, aspirations, closeness, friendliness or ambience.

Still, they can be used to benchmark so that cities can strive to do better. Some cities—like Santa Monica—try to measure happiness. Delray used to survey residents on a range of issues and topics and policymakers at the time found the findings interesting and helpful. Cities can be noisy places—especially with the advent of social media—and sometimes (often) the squeaky wheels don’t represent the majority opinion on a given issue.

As for the Wallet Hub findings—I think we should take another survey in January and see if Boca /Delray would score somewhat higher than Princeton, N.J. as the place to be.

 

Honoring A Local Legend

Frances Bourque: A Lifetime of Achievement.

Editor’s Note: We received a few requests for the speech honoring the Delray Chamber’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Frances Bourque. Frances was honored Friday night at the Delray Marriott. It was a memorable evening and her speech was sensational. Video coverage of the awards ceremony can be viewed on the Facebook page of the Delray Newspaper.  Here’s the transcript of the intro…

Well, what can you say about our honoree…Frances Bourque?

This tribute can be six words…I love you. We love you.

I truly believe that none of us would be sitting here in a beautiful beachfront hotel… in a vibrant downtown…if Frances Bourque had stayed in the Glades or set her sights on Boca Raton or West Palm Beach. We were forever blessed when she came to Delray.

Old School Square started it all…It was the catalyst…you were the catalyst… and because you brought your beautiful spirit, vision and brilliance to our town…we—all of us— have reaped the rewards…You are so special…and we are so grateful for all that you have given us.

Because as you taught me… it’s all about people—people who lead with love, boldness, aspiration, care and concern. People who motivate us to join the mission. Frances, your heart is so big and so generous…your vision is so compelling…there was no way we could fail. You lead with love.

That’s our Frances…she is spellbinding and irresistible.

The first time I met her, when I was 23 years old, I was struck by her spirit and her unique worldview. She just had a great way of seeing things… I’ve been enthralled ever since…

Frances and I have laughed together and we’ve shed a few tears too…she has been our rock, the champion of our city’s vision, and she has been the go-to person for so many great people….inspiring them to be involved, give back and make a difference in Delray.

For thirty years—she has taught me…and so many others…what it takes to build and sustain a great city.

Because none of this…none of what we saw in the video… happened by accident. All of the things we love and cherish about Delray Beach is a result of people working together through good times and bad.

None of this could have happened without people like Frances leading the way and teaching us that anything and everything is possible if we dare to dream and dare to try.

 

Great leaders are inspiring, they make you feel good about the mission, they lift people up and they show us the way. They make you believe that your dreams can come true—and when they do —they graciously give others the credit. That’s our Frances…

 

Frances Bourque is my hero and a hero to so many of us in Delray Beach. Where others saw a desolate and blighted downtown, Frances saw boundless potential.

Where others saw a broken down old school, Frances envisioned a cultural arts center that would transform our community by giving us a place to gather—so we could actually be a community. She gave us the biggest gift of all—community.

Old School Square is a brilliant idea… it honors our past, enhances our present and addresses our future. It’s where we gather to celebrate, it’s where we go to dream and it’s where we go to console each other during tough times….it belongs to all of us and it’s an asset—a gift— that we must treasure.

Frances made this happen.

Oh, she had help—but it was her boundless energy, passion, skill and love for Delray that drove the vision. Her optimism is contagious and once we were exposed to the Frances Bourque magic—there was no way we could ever fail.

Great leaders attract people to the cause…and they make us feel that we can move mountains and change our corner of the world.

Frances has been this city’s muse and champion for decades…Old School Square was the catalyst for our revitalization. It created an economy out of blight, breathed life, music and art into a once desolate downtown—and gave us pride of place.

We were no longer “Dullray Beach”…we were Delray Beach…an All America City, a place of possibility, achievement and innovation.

Frances is a most deserving Lifetime Achievement Award winner…she’s a brilliant star…a beautiful spirit…she has gifted us a world of possibility and she has never wavered or gone away… thank goodness.

On behalf of the Greater Delray Beach of Commerce and a grateful community: Thank you. We love you very, very much. Ladies and gentleman…your 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award winner…Frances Bourque.

 

 

Things We Liked In September

Congrats to the DBMC and Chamber!

Well, September 2017 may not be remembered fondly thanks to Irma, Harvey and Maria.

October is off to a heartbreaking start as well with a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Still, we aim to stick to our tradition (starting last month) of pointing out some good things in our world and community.

Things we liked in September…
In no particular order…

  • Neighbors helping neighbors pre and post Irma. At times like this, we sometimes discover and often rely on neighbors to help us prepare and cope. For this we are thankful.
  • The Abe and Louie salad
  •  Cream of Mushroom soup at Madison’s. It’s a great restaurant. Try it.
  • Old School Bakery. There are no words to describe the artistry of Old School’s bread.
  • WPTV’s Steve Weagle doing stellar work pre and post Irma. We also rediscovered Bryan Norcross and send shout outs of appreciation to other local meteorologists.
  •  The yeoman’s work done by city staff and utility workers in Boca and Delray to help us get back on our feet post Irma.
  •  The book “The New Brooklyn” by Kay Hymowitz. If you love cities and want to gain some insights on gentrification look no further.
  •  Actress Kristen Bell of “Frozen” entertaining senior citizens and others while riding the storm out in Orlando.
  •  The Good Place on Netflix-starring Ms. Bell.
  •  The black and white cookies at 3Gs.
  •  The guy who plays Spanish guitar at Farmers Table in Boca.
  •  The zest for life and learning that we see from our friend Connor Lynch.
  • A photo of Dr. Craig Spodak with the great Simon Sinek on Instagram. Mr. Sinek wrote the great book “Start With Why”, which is a must read. Dr. Spodak is also an inspiration.
  •  My new grand puppy Riley. An adorable golden (are there any other kind?).
  •  The memory of Phish an adorable Chihuahua and a longtime fixture at the Delray Green Market. Hugs to Jim and Lori Nolan.
  •  Thanks to Hypower Electrical Services and John Potts of TAW Power Systems for their efforts to restore power to the Sandoway Discovery Center saving animals and sea life that were endangered by the loss of electricity. Awesome.
  •  Marisa Herman’s stellar work at the Delray and Boca Newspaper. Make sure to catch her front page article on 92 year old author Bob Levinson in this month’s Delray Newspaper.
  •  Debbie Stackhouse Smith too!
  • Happy one year anniversary to Delray Morning Live and kudos to the excellent hosts Kate Volman and Ryan Boylston. Joe and Mika have nothing on these two.
  •  The music of Steely Dan. Rest In Peace Walter Becker. Thanks for decades of unforgettable music.
  • Congratulations to Dupree Jackson Jr.

    Keep your eye on him. He’s a powerful and committed leader with a big heart. And boy do we ever need heart in our world and communities.

  • We are also immensely impressed with WiseTribe and its leader Jacqueline Botting.
  • Congratulations to the Delray Marketing Cooperative and Delray Chamber of Commerce for winning international recognition. The International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA), which recognizes the world’s best event producers, recently announced the winners of its annual Pinnacle Awards during its 62nd annual convention  in Tucson, Arizona. The Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative (DBMC) and the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce each received a Gold Award, the IFEA’s highest honor, proving once again that when it comes to showing the public an awesome time no one can compete with Delray Beach events, even on an international level.The DBMC won for Best Newspaper Insert for the Famous 100 Foot Christmas Tree and the Chamber won for Best Promotional Video for its Seek in the City Scavenger Hunt.

    We know we missed some good news–so this is only a partial list. But also a reminder that even in difficult times, we have much to be thankful for.