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Boca Makes A SMART Hire

Pedro Moras

The City of Boca Raton recently hired Pedro Moras as its first ever “Innovation Strategist” and I think that’s worthy of applause.

According to the press release announcing the hire, Moras was hired to promote innovation and the use of technology within the community. Additionally, Moras will work to develop and implement SMART City initiatives and collaborate with City staff to explore innovation in city operations.

Now the cynics out there will say innovation and government should never be used in the same sentence and that the term Smart City is an oxymoron.

The cynics would be wrong. As they usually are.

Cities today have to innovate or risk irrelevance. They should strive to be “smart” not only in terms of technology but in all areas: sustainability, citizen engagement, public safety, parks design, transportation, land development and the list goes on.

It’s good to see Boca Raton make a statement with the hiring of an innovation strategist and it will be interesting to see where the city goes as a result.

Moras seems to have the background and chops to make a difference.

Prior to joining the city, Moras cofounded PetMio, a pet food-technology start-up that uses advanced artificial intelligence technology to create personalized pet nutrition products. He also served as Managing Partner at the Konnected Minds Group, a Miami based innovation consultancy. During his time in the corporate world, he was the founding member of the Transformational Innovation Group at Jarden Consumer Solution, a corporate new ventures group focused on identifying, developing and commercializing new product and business opportunities.

“Innovation is the purposeful application that improves our condition and community,” said Moras. “Through that application we can accomplish tremendous feats that improve the lives of our families and our community. It is because of innovation that we evolved so much as a society and I am excited to further expand innovative achievements in Boca Raton.”

Boca has an interesting innovation pedigree.

Boca Raton’s history dates back to pioneering farmers, there’s an interesting history relative to Mediterranean architecture and of course, the birth of IBM’s personal computer (PC) in 1967. Through the years, Boca Raton’s entrepreneurial culture has supported technology and innovation through economic development incentives that have led to the creation of facilities such as the Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRIC). Boca Raton is also home to three universities that incorporate innovation into curriculums and the community through programs such as FAU Tech Runway.

“I think Boca Raton is in a unique position because the foundation of entrepreneurship and innovation already exists,” said Moras. “And that foundation is strong from an economic, social and environmental standpoint, compared to many cities across the country. I think a key to taking Boca Raton to the next level, is bringing together the brilliant minds in our schools, businesses, organizations and civic centers under a shared vision and giving them the tools to create our future.”

During his first year, Moras will work on creating Boca Raton’s innovation identity and define what being a SMART city means to the community. In addition, he plans to test and learn new concepts, programs and ideas in order to ultimately “create an ecosystem of innovation that is continuously creating breakthroughs in technology, education, the arts and more, and become an even more vibrant entrepreneurial community that attracts the best minds to come live here and work here.”

As a student of local government, I am anxious to see where this all leads. When I was on the Delray City Commission we strived to be “civic entrepreneurs” and encouraged staff to take risks and innovate in terms of policy and engagement. It made a difference, because we strived to make it  safe to experiment and to learn. That’s how progress happens.

In so many aspects of our society right now, innovation and technology is outpacing government’s ability to keep up. This makes government look slow, reactive and frankly a less exciting place to work if you are a young person looking for a career.

So Boca’s move is intriguing. Yes, it’s only one person, but it’s a bold start.

 

 

A Can’t Miss Rock N’ Roll Experience

Max and me…

Do you love music?
I mean really love music.

Do you wake up with songs in your head?

Do you sing in the shower?
Do you sing all the way to work listening to a great tune on the radio?

I do.

If you love classic rock—the best music ever made (along with Motown)—you have a unique chance to hear it played live by a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and his amazing band right here in Delray Beach.

On April 11 at 8 p.m., Max Weinberg’s Jukebox will play the intimate Crest Theatre at Old School Square. You don’t want to miss the show.

Repeat: Do not miss this show.

We caught Max and his amazing band last year at the Arts Garage, where he played two sold out shows which left people breathless, singing and dancing to music from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

The “jukebox” format is unique. The theater is ringed with TV’s scrolling the names of hundreds of classic songs. Audience members choose from the list and Max Weinberg’s Jukebox plays a faithful version. It’s interactive, fun, high energy and showcases the talents of a great group of musicians including Max or “Mighty Max” as he’s known to legions of E Street Band fans around the world.

Max Weinberg joined Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band in 1975 during the recording sessions for the iconic “Born to Run” album.

The rest as they say is history…but in Max’s case his legend transcends E Street to include a long stint leading the band on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, a seminal book about legendary drummers, acting roles, bandleader on the Tonight Show and several different musical bands including the Max Weinberg 7 and now the Jukebox which covers the landscape from The Beatles and the Stones to Bruce and beyond.

I got to know Max over a year ago. We met at the Arts Garage and later he joined my wife and I on a car tour through Delray where we talked about local history and future plans. Max is really into real estate and has become a student of Delray—soaking up visions and plans on the city’s websites. (P.S. we weren’t sure about the etiquette of driving him around: was it too goofy to play E Street Radio in the background? We decided to just provide narration with no background music.)

He’s also a good guy. And it’s really nice that he cares about his new home. It’s also nice when one of your heroes turns out to be a good person and someone you can talk to about ideas.

I’ve been a Springsteen fan (fanatic) since the age of 11, exactly when Max joined the band.

I still remember what it felt like to walk to the record store in Stony Brook N.Y. and buy the newest E Street Band record. The thrill of walking home and sliding the LP on my Technics turntable and hearing the first notes blast through Radio Shack speakers. Those were the days where you didn’t have instant streaming music, you had to wait for releases, listen to the radio, read rock magazines (Circus, Rolling Stone) and talk to the cool kids in home room to find out what was new and hot.

Back then, I never had enough money to buy all the albums I wanted, so I was judicious in my spending,  prioritizing my favorite musicians. Springsteen was one of the few artists that I just bought whatever they put out on day one. I knew the E Street Band  would deliver and they always did.

Darkness on the Edge of Town came out in ’78, The River in 1980, Nebraska during my senior year and the blockbuster Born in the USA in ’84 when I was in college in Oswego, N.Y.

We went to see the E Street Band at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse with a group of guys from my floor—it was the day before the “We are the World Sessions” and Bruce had a cold but the show was magnificent just like every show has been. And Max….well Max is just the best. Nobody works harder every night and nobody channels Springsteen quite like him. The music…it’s indescribable and touches so many emotions. It’s powerful and eternal. The best art endures.

So it’s a special thrill for me to know and occasionally hang with the musician who provides the driving beat for my favorite songs.

Come see the Max Weinberg Jukebox at The Crest Theatre on April 11. You’ll be glad you did. Click the link below and say hello. I’ll be in the second row singing along to the best music ever made.

https://oldschoolsquare.secure.force.com/ticket#sections_a0F0G00000SR9NqUAL

The Mighty Max

 

Lynn: Making An Impact

Jerry Hildebrand, director of Lynn’s Social Impact Lab, is a legend in the field.

Regular readers of this blog know that I have been a longtime fan of Lynn University and its visionary President Dr. Kevin Ross.

Last week, reminded me why.

Not a day goes by that we don’t see an article questioning the future of higher education. Colleges and universities are being disrupted, their business models challenged and now even admissions processes are being questioned in the wake of a recent national scandal.

But at Lynn University, we are witnessing a school that is pivoting with the times, riding the wave of change adeptly and becoming more relevant with every passing year.

Last week, I had the privilege of moderating a session at Lynn University’s first ever “Business for Good” conference hosted by Lynn’s new Social Impact Lab. I’m honored to be on the founding board of the lab which is run by a legend in the field: Jerry Hildebrand.

The conference brought together social entrepreneurs, business leaders, non-profit executives, students and investors anxious to learn how they can make a positive difference in the world.

As one of the keynote speakers Ron Cordes of the Cordes Foundation noted: it’s possible to invest capital and make a difference while making a profit too.

That’s a simple concept but a game changing shift in mindset.

I moderated a panel featuring two women who are reshaping the field of impact investing.

Kristin Fafard of Community Capital Management is the chief investment officer for a $2 billion plus fund that invests in affordable housing, clean water and other projects that provide both a return on capital and social impact. In fact, investors in her funds receive two reports—one chronicling financial performance and the other detailing the difference the fund’s capital is making in the community.

Community Capital is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale but has offices in the south and northeast. Since its inception 20 years ago, the firm has invested over $9 billion in impact initiatives nationwide.

From creating affordable housing to restoring the Everglades, Community Capital Management is in the vanguard of impact investing, a growing field.

Joining Kristin on the panel was a talented social entrepreneur named Lauren Harper, the founding director of Social Ventures Partners Miami, which is part of a philanthropic network with more than 39 affiliates in 9 countries and over 3,400 partners making SVP the largest network of engaged donors in the world.

We had a great conversation on how impact investing works and how communities and organizations can tie into the movement.

It was part of a day that brought a who’s who of players in the field to Boca Raton.

Here’s just a few of the stars who spent time at Lynn last week: the aforementioned Ron Cordes of the Cordes Foundation who chairs Lynn’s Social Impact Lab, Paul Rice, founder and CEO of Fair Trade USA, Eric Glustrom, CEO and Founder of the innovative Watson Institute (which now has an office on the Lynn campus), Eric Stephenson of Align Impact, Steve Fox of Impact Global Education, Felice Gorordo, CEO of Emerge Americas and a slew of other superstars in the impact investing and entrepreneurial worlds.

That all of these players—worldwide influencers—were gathered at Lynn is extremely significant and very exciting.

Lynn sees itself as a convener—which is a great role for a university to play—leading conversations around important topics and emerging opportunities.

Lynn’s new Social Impact Lab, includes event space and co-working opportunities giving both students and the community a place to gather, interact, collaborate and create. I had a chance to meet some really interesting students last week some of whom have ideas for social enterprises or businesses that have as part of their DNA plans to give back.

One student, Raymond Francois, is an aspiring food entrepreneur who is a Coast Guard veteran. As part of Lynn’s Social Impact Lab, Mr. Francois was able to travel to Macedonia where he worked with locals on community projects. The experience was life changing. As a result, his post grad plans include a business that would bring healthy food to underserved local neighborhoods. That’s very cool.

By investing in the next generation of game changers and opening a world of possibilities to their students, Lynn University guarantees against disruption and positions itself for years of success.

That this exciting world is happening on Military Trail ought to make all us very proud and excited about the future.

 

 

 

He Was A Great One…

Harold Ostrow was 90.

A really good man died last week and I’m afraid that his passing might get lost in the fire hose of information that is our world these days.  


Harold Ostrow passed away March 10 and it’s important to stop and reflect on his legacy because he was really important to our community. One of those unsung heroes who provided quiet but steady leadership for decades. 


Harold lived west of Delray Beach and is best known for founding the Voters Coalition of Palm Beach County. 
The Voters Coalition was a non-partisan civic association that quickly grew into a powerful and respected force in Palm Beach County and beyond.


Elected officials from Governors, Senators, County Commissioners, School Board members, judges and mayors beat a path to the Voters Coalition door seeking endorsements and an audience with its leadership. 


They did so because the Voters Coalition stood for what was best for the community and they commanded respect as a result. They also influenced a whole lot of votes. 


I got to know Mr. Ostrow in my newspaper days. I would attend Voters Coalition meetings and dinners because that’s where you’d find all the newsmakers. 


When I ran for office, Harold was generous with advice and encouragement even though he didn’t live in the city limits. He believed in good government and cared about Delray Beach. His synagogue, Temple Sinai, was in our city and he saw himself as a stakeholder. 


He was a kind, gentle and very intelligent man and I enjoyed every one of our many conversations over the years. 


I also admired his dedication to community service. He chaired the Palm Beach County Health Care District, where his leadership led to the creation of the Trauma Hawk; helicopters that ferried those in need to two trauma centers including one in Delray. 


Later, when I served on the Board of Directors for Delray Medical Center, Harold was a great touch stone and gave me solid advice on issues relating to health care in our service area. 


To give you further insight into his dedication, Mr. Ostrow was affectionately known as “Mr. Civic.”
He served on the Palm Beach County Finance Authority, Solid Waste Authority’s Citizen Advisory Committee, Judicial Nominating Committee and countless other boards and task forces. 


As chair of the Health Care District, Mr. Ostrow he worked with the School District to create behavioral health programs that served 170,000 students. 


All of this after a lengthy career in the textile industry and as the owner of a popular ice cream shop in New York City. 


He “retired” in West Delray and created a whole other rich life. All while still being there for his family and his wife of 70 years (that’s not a typo) Lenore. 
It’s really remarkable when you think about it. 


There are other examples of course, role models all. But Harold was extra special. 
And we will miss him. 


I’m not sure they make them like that anymore. But I sure hope they do. 
Men and women dedicated to the community, in it for the long haul and for all the right reasons. 


They give back, they pay it forward. They were members of the “greatest generation” and they have a lot to teach us. 
Farewell, my friend. Thanks for teaching so many so well for so long.

The Power of Quotes

Doris Kearns Goodwin

I love quotes.
I seek them out.
They inspire me.
When I find a good one I write it down, then come back to it when I need a lift.
I’ve been doing it for years.

Recently, two quotes jumped out at me so I thought I’d share.
Here goes…
“The penalty that good people pay for not being involved in politics is being governed by people worse than themselves.”- Plato

I find this quote by Plato to be remarkably relevant.
It’s amazing (or depressing, I’m not sure)  that someone who lived so long ago could express something that fits our cultural moment.

The dysfunction of our national politics has sparked a lot of energy on the political front.
Scores of candidates are running for Congress and the presidency, more people are voting and more are consuming political news on a variety of platforms.
People are fired up on both sides of the divide.
But I have a sense that on the local level there’s less interest, less participation and a lot of apathy. That’s too bad because in many ways, what happens on the city, county and school board level affects us more than what happens or doesn’t happen in Washington.

Plato was really onto something. We really do need to be involved.

This week’s municipal elections is a case in point. The winning candidate in the West Palm Beach Mayor’s race received 5,616 votes. West Palm is our largest city–candidates for city commission in a much smaller Delray Beach received more votes 30 years ago.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, there were 438,829 people registered to vote in the Broward communities with elections, unofficial voter turnout was 9.49 percent. Palm Beach County’s elections website didn’t break out turnout. It should. We have a long way to go in Palm Beach County when it comes to elections.

The other quote that grabbed me was something that the great Doris Kearns Goodwin said  at the recent Festival of the Arts Boca.
Here it is…

“Through my study of leadership these past five years, I found a family resemblance of traits and patterns of behavior—among them humility, empathy, resilience, courage; the ability to replenish energy, listen to diverse opinions, control negative impulses, connect with all manner of people, communicate through stories and keep one’s word.”

Isn’t that a wonderful quote?
Doesn’t it sum up what we’re craving in our leaders? Humility, empathy, courage, the ability to listen and I would add learn and grow.

The basket of traits Ms. Goodwin notes can also be called emotional intelligence.

I want to support, vote for, emulate someone who can grow in office, who can bridge differences, explain the issues, seize the opportunities and bring us together to face our challenges.

To paraphrase Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally”: I’ll have what Doris Kearns Goodwin is describing.

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.