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Mayoral Trends

Mayors wrestle with everything from scooters to cannabis.

Every year, many— if not most— mayors give a “State of the City” address.

And each year, the National League of Cities studies what they’re saying and compiles the results into what they call a “State of The Cities” report (very creative).

The report ranks and discusses ten main topic areas that mayors are excited or worried about. It’s an interesting list and while economic development and infrastructure continue to be top priorities for cities, mayors are increasingly exhibiting leadership on newer issues—such as scooters, social media and marijuana.

Below is a list of the top 10 “movers” this year and some comments from a has-been who has been out of the game for 12 plus years.

Economic Development: Opportunity Zones

In 2019, 74 percent of  state of the city speeches gave significant coverage to economic development — meaning a mayor or city manager provided concrete details on a plan, impact or goal related to growing the local economy. Of the 74 percent, 17 percent talked about opportunity zones. While some mayors are discussing what opportunity zones are and how to take advantage of them, others are moving ahead with opportunity zone policies.

Comment: Economic development has always been a hot topic, but opportunity zones are new. I think the zones are great public policy, but the powers that be missed some obvious zones (Congress Avenue, downtown Lake Worth) while blessing some areas that are already blessed.

Infrastructure: Ridesharing

Cities are becoming “smarter”, with new mobility services such as “dockless” bikes, ride sharing and scooters emerging in communities across the country. Mayors are recognizing that if you want to ditch your car in favor of a bike to get to work, you should, and now you can in many cities, towns and villages across the nation.

Comment: We never heard or ridesharing, Uber or Lyft in my day. We did know about carpooling. And bike lanes were a huge topic back in the day.

Health & Human Services: Recreational Marijuana

Communities are approving marijuana use at bars and cafes (really) and are expecting to accrue large financial benefits. From tax receipts to the diminishment of unsafe underground economies, cities are prepared to capitalize on this newly-regulated industry. Coverage of the recreational marijuana subtopic increased from two speeches in 2018 to seven speeches in 2019, an increase of 250 percent. In 2019, 46 percent of speeches significantly covered health and human services, and 10 percent of those provided concrete details regarding recreational marijuana, ranging from changing zoning codes to filing lawsuits against cannabis regulation.

Comment: Not sure we saw the legalization movement coming in the early to mid -2000s. And we thought CBD stood for Central Business District.

Energy & Environment: Solar Power

Advancing solar power is one of the many steps that cities are taking to fight climate change. Local governments are fostering solar energy growth by supplying government buildings and traffic systems with solar energy, embracing community solar power initiatives and reducing the energy burden for low-income households.

Comment: LED lights were just emerging as an option and LEED was gaining popularity. But sea level rise wasn’t on the radar screen.

Budgets & Management: Intergovernmental Relations

Cities are continuing to voice their concerns about the relationship between local and upper levels of government, particularly state overreach and fiscal constraints.

Comment: Mayors have always feared Tallahassee and Washington too. Home rule has always been a hot topic and while we would have welcomed help, we were happy if we weren’t bulldozed by mandates and wacky policy.

 

Housing: Blight and Elimination

In recent years, cities have implemented blight elimination measures, which include rehabilitating or demolishing vacant and abandoned properties to revitalize and strengthen neighborhoods.

Comment: Always a popular topic and focus. We did fear the elimination of Community Development Block Grants which pay for neighborhood rehab projects etc.

Public Safety: Education and Initiatives

Across the United States, more local police and fire departments are engaging with residents to increase education and awareness on public safety issues, ultimately building community trust.

Comment: A perennial. We called it community oriented policing and civic engagement.

Demographics: Civic Engagement

Mayors have consistently encouraged residents to engage in civic activities and provided their constituents with important opportunities that can impact their city’s future. In 2019, some mayors also specifically discussed plans regarding the political participation process and municipal election reform.

Comment: We were there for the hanging chads and the 2000 election so….election integrity and voting were always important concerns. We also were big on visions, charrettes, neighborhood dinners, advisory board recognition, town halls and forming neighborhood associations.

Education: School Outcomes

Both in 2018 and 2019, mayors discussed plans to achieve higher high school graduation rates. In 2019, mayors also announced school programs designed to address issues affecting student performance, such as chronic absenteeism and childhood trauma.

Comment: Education was a huge concern and focus.

Government Data & Technology: Social Media

More local governments are using social media to address pertinent issues within their communities and increase communication with their residents.

Comment: Social media didn’t exist, we didn’t even have a consolidated website when I was first elected in 2000. Technology was on our minds, we wanted online bill pay etc., and added streaming coverage of meetings but it was a simpler time. If someone said 3G to us, we assumed they meant the deli on West Atlantic. P.S. 3G’s has great pastrami.

 

An Opportunity Awaits

Stability doesn’t have to mean boredom or a lack of imagination. It can mean that teams can dig in and succeed.

There’s been another rash of resignations at Delray Beach City Hall.

That’s not good news, despite the perfume put on the issue by some.

Turnover and instability in an organization is never a good thing. Of course, in a large organization people are always leaving and sometimes you have to get rid of a bad apple or two. It’s called addition by subtraction. But this feels different.

As of now Delray is searching for a city manager, an economic development director, a utilities director, a finance director, a public works director and a CRA Director. I might have missed a few positions. But that’s a pretty robust list. And that doesn’t include the resignations of the  two top senior officials in the Community Improvement who resigned last week in the wake of an investigation into alleged misappropriation of grant monies.
Folks, this isn’t normal. And it’s not good.

Still, like most problems/issues there’s a silver lining and an opportunity.
But only if we recognize the situation and make this a teachable moment. That’s going to require self awareness and that can be a challenge.
Delray has had a stability problem for a few years now. Before 2013 or s0, City Hall was known as a very stable place.

Not a perfect place. But a stable place. A place where lots of good things got done on behalf of taxpayers and stakeholders. It was also a prideful place, where people seemed to collaborate and work effectively across departments. Again, mistakes were made and things weren’t always a well-oiled machine but for the most part City Hall was a happy and productive workplace, the kind that attracted talent and retained it as well.

It doesn’t feel that way anymore.

And it hasn’t for a while now.

This isn’t a criticism of anyone or anything. For the record, I like the interim City Manager and respect a lot of people who work at City Hall. I wrote a whole book about what I felt worked and what didn’t during my seven years as a commissioner and mayor.

I learned that for a city to create and sustain success, you need solid leadership and talented, stable management that work well together. That’s not rocket science. but I don’t know of a workaround. You need both.

Instability breeds inefficiency.

It’s expensive on many levels and the loss of institutional memory is an added concern because when experience walks out the door so does a whole lot of intangible value.

Few would argue that stability is a bad thing.

It’s hard to build a team, organization, business or any other complex endeavor when your human capital is constantly in flight.

That doesn’t mean you allow bad actors to stay or that you don’t have a culture of accountability. But it does mean that if people are leaving in droves, that you might want to pay attention, especially if many who are leaving have had success here or elsewhere.
Did they suddenly become incompetent and ineffectual or is there something wrong that we can fix?

Without pointing fingers, I don’t think what we are seeing is an aberration or the normal course of business. Something fundamental is wrong.

And this should not be news to those of us who pay attention. Our leaders have been told by executive recruiters that the city has a challenging reputation in the marketplace.
Therein lies the opportunity.

Now is the time to ask some hard questions, make some changes and find out why what’s happening is happening. It’s also a chance to transform the culture and make this city the very best place to work.

Working —and just as important staying —in a city as unique and special as Delray ought to be a compelling proposition.

These days and for a few years now,  the evidence says something is up.
Perhaps it’s time to figure out what’s going on.

Because like any other business, cities are only as a good as their people.

If you attract good people and create conditions that enables that talent to thrive, you’ll have a smooth running machine and solve a lot of problems; but if you lose that talent or can’t even attract it. you’ll be spinning your wheels which is expensive and exhausting. You’ll end up in a costly spiral.

Human capital is everything. It just is.  It’s not technology–that’s a tool. And it’s not always wages and benefits, which are important but aren’t the only factors in a stable workplace.

A revolving door of senior level managers is not a recipe for lasting success; it’s a sunk cost.

 

Things We Loved in May

Great documentary with a guest appearance by Delray’s own Max Weinberg.

Things We Loved in May

 

It was great to see Boca Raton based Mela Artisans featured in Florida Trend Magazine in May. The company specializes in selling handmade goods made in India online and in stores such as Home Goods and TJ Maxx.

Keep an eye on this growing company.

 

FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science earned a $652,820 grant from the National Science Foundation to establish an Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Laboratory. That’s good news for FAU as the Lab is said to be a first of its kind grant for the National Science Foundation proof of the university’s growing reputation in cutting edge fields of research.

 

 

Over 64 of tomorrow’s stars converged on the Delray Beach Swim & Tennis Club May 4-6 for the United States Tennis Association Boys and Girls 18 and under championship.

 

The PIM Open features rising stars who come to Delray for three days of top notch competition.

 

The event provides a boost to the local economy just when we need it, putting heads in beds at hotels and exposing Delray to players, families, coaches, college scouts etc.

 

Tennis is an important industry in Delray and we should grow it,  not litigate it.

 

 

 

 

We wish The EJS Project a happy one year anniversary and congratulate them on a great mini- documentary that was released in May. Check out the organization here: https://www.ejsproject.org/

 

We were honored to attend the 100th anniversary celebrations Plastridge Insurance at the Delray Marriott. Please see our blog about Plastridge and the legacy of the Lynch family here. We were also thrilled to see Plastridge win the “Business of the Century Award” from the Boca Chamber at a gala luncheon at the Boca Resort.

Plastridge Chair Tom Lynch told the capacity crowd that the key to success is to balance business with family life and to find time to take care of your health along the way. Tom is a terrific role model.

Congrats to fellow honorees Sal Saldana GM of Town Center at Boca Raton named Business Leader of the Year & Roxana Scaffidi of Florida Accounting & Advisers who was named Small Business Leader of the Year.

 

We were thrilled to see Frances Bourque get an honorary degree from the University of Florida in May. Please see our tribute here http://yourdelrayboca.com/our-frances-a-most-distinguished-citizen/

 

 

Speaking of Plastridge, CEO Connor Lynch was honored by Sun-Sentinel with a Next Excalibur Award.

 

Lynch, 38,  was not only honored he is the first winner of the Next Excalibur Award, which recognizes the next generation of leaders whose voices will contribute to the growth and sustainability of business and civic life in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Connor was selected by a committee of previous Excalibur award winners. His father was an Excalibur winner in 2000.

How cool is that!

 

Restaurant fare

 

Crazy Mike’s has crazy good wings.

Timpano on Las Olas has awesome food.

Da Best on Dixie and Yamato is a great sandwich shop.

Okeechobee Steakhouse: a classic with a fun bar scene, great service and truly great food. A true gem.

We tried Duck Donuts in Boca and it was awfully good. Just delicious.

The penne with mushrooms at Sardinia—defies description.

Don’t miss the plum wine at Sushi Thai in Delray and we are loving the Bee Hive in Boca.

Also, if you visit iPic Delray check out the pizza. It’s delish.

Last but never least, Ziree never fails in the taste and service department. Highly recommend you visit.

 

Thanks Chuck

Kudos to our friend Chuck Halberg who does so much for the community.

Chuck, a longtime Arts Garage patron, donated the roughly $40,000 worth of improvements that will add a classroom, an improved box office, a bar and administrative offices.

Viva Las Vegas

I attended my first International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas this month.

In a word, it was overwhelming. More than 30,000 attendees, miles of booths and exhibits and some interesting seminars on the future of retail and shopping center design.

One takeaway: while we read about the “retail apocalypse” bricks and mortar still has some life left. Sure things are changing and we have to pay attention and adapt, but 91 percent of retail sales still take place in a physical store. We’ll revisit some of these subjects in upcoming blogs.

 

The 2019 Boca Raton Bowl will be televised on ABC on a Saturday afternoon instead of ESPN on a Tuesday night. The game will be played in FAU Stadium and the date is Dec. 21. Time is 3:30. Very cool. Mark your calendars.

 

Movies:

 

We caught Booksmart at Cinemark. Wonderful directorial debut from Olivia Wilde. The film has a chance to become a classic of the coming of age genre.

Finally, saw Vice on a cross country flight. Powerful. Christian Bale just may be the best actor of his generation.

We also caught a special showing of Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock N’ Roll at the new iPic. Wonderful documentary chronicling the rise, fall and rise again of a seaside city. We’ll have more in an upcoming blog. Highly recommend you go if you love cities, rock music and New Jersey.

 

Books:

 

I finished two books in May and recommend both. Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg is a beautifully written book about the public realm and the best defense of public libraries I’ve ever seen.

Love the title. And the sentiment.

Investments in libraries, parks, community centers, art, culture etc.,  are essential keys to happiness and strong communities. It’s a good message for our troubled times.

 

Thanks to Kate Volman I read Matthew Kelly’s book on creating a winning and happy culture, the Culture Solution.

 

A must read for business, government, academics and non-profit leaders who care about creating winning cultures. And if you don’t care…well you aren’t really a leader.

Until next month. Thanks for reading.

Our Frances: A Most Distinguished Citizen

Frances Bourque is a legend…and we love her.

One of Delray’s heroes received much deserved recognition recently and I can’t let the opportunity to write about Frances Bourque pass me by.

Frances—the founder of Old School Square and the inspiration behind so much good in Delray Beach—was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award by the University of Florida. It’s a rare honor and truly a “big deal” as they say.

The award recognizes exceptional achievement and leadership that merits the special recognition of the University. While a committee on honorary degrees vets the nominees, winners have to be personally approved by the University of Florida’s President. Dr. Kent Fuchs knows talent when he sees it and I’m sure when the president reviewed Frances’ materials it was an easy decision to bestow the honor.

The effort to recognize the force behind Delray’s signature civic achievement was launched by Frances’ sister Judy who reached out to several of Frances’ friends, colleagues and admirers (which is just about everyone) to help write the application. I was honored to be included in the effort and it was truly a pleasure to write about Frances’ influence on the city we love.

Old School Square is the rare project that addresses our past, present and future. Its genius lies in the fact that it touches so many aspects of community building: historic preservation, adaptive reuse of buildings, art, culture, education and so much more. But perhaps its greatest value is that Old School Square gives us a place to gather as a community.

And you can’t put a price on that simple gift.

Old School Square is where we headed after 9/11. It was where we met to discuss the Jerrod Miller shooting in 2005 and where we gather for Town Hall meetings, special performances, speeches, art exhibits and scores of festivals.

It sits at main and main on Atlantic and Swinton—if you had to design a better location you couldn’t.

And yet….

And yet before Frances nobody saw the potential. They saw a rusted chain link fence, crumbling buildings and blight. But Frances saw potential and beauty. Some saw the need for new office buildings. Others saw the need for a downtown anchor store. Frances saw a place to gather and celebrate the arts—the best of humanity.

Pretty soon, everyone shared the vision. That’s Frances’ magic. She makes you see, she makes you believe and while you may have to work hard to get there you don’t mind the journey because she makes every step of the way fun.

Earlier this week, I wrote about the 100th anniversary of Plastridge Insurance and the leadership contributions of Tom Lynch and his family. Frances is yet another example of how a community can be blessed when an extraordinary individual decides to fall in love with a place and commit to a vision.

Back in November, when Frances received word of the award she wrote a few of us an email. She had just driven 12 hours from Highlands, N.C. and was tired. When she got home and saw the letter from President Fuchs she immediately reached out—and immediately sought to share credit. She was clearly elated, but she quoted Thomas Merton who said “no man is an island” and said the recognition belonged to “ALL (her caps) of us!”

Typical Frances.

The truly great ones are humble. They seek to share credit.

People like Frances don’t do what they do for the awards. But it is important to recognize them and to celebrate their achievements so that we too may learn, appreciate and be inspired to get to work ourselves.

For 32 years, I have hung on her every word. She remains an inspiration to all who are blessed to have crossed her path.

 

 

Plastridge Makes History

From left, Brendan, Tom and Connor Lynch.

If you Google companies that last 100 years…you stumble on some interesting facts.

The number of businesses that last a century is a very short list….less than half a percent of companies according to one study I found. It’s a rare company that lasts these days.

Delray Beach and Boca Raton are home to one of them. Plastridge Insurance, founded in 1919, is celebrating its 100th birthday this year and we were honored to attend a banquet for employees, friends, retirees and family recently.

For my wife and I, it was a true pleasure. We feel very close to the Lynch family, who have led the business for the past 50 years or so. That’s when Tom joined the company after teaching English for a spell at St. Vincent Ferrer School on George Bush Boulevard.

I first met Tom 32 years ago when I moved to town to take a newspaper job. He was considered an up and comer in those days, a prominent business leader who was a founding chair of the CRA, chair of the Chamber, active at the local hospital and a key member of the Mayor’s Atlantic Avenue Task Force.

When Tom was elected mayor in 1990 it proved to be a landmark election for the city. As a reporter, I had a bird’s eye view of the changes he and his fellow commissioners were poised to make—implementing the Decade of Excellence bond, bringing Visions 2000 to life, working on local schools, stabilizing attrition at City Hall and hiring a police chief who would turn around the fortunes of the Police Department.

It was a great time to be in Delray and I loved covering the goings on. Diane, who came to work for the city during the same era, would later tell me that she (and others) were inspired by the vision, professionalism and team work that Tom and others on the commission championed. She (and others) were also struck by the courtesy extended to staff. Department heads and rank and file employees felt empowered to bring forth ideas, question assumptions and suggest the best path forward.

As a journalist, I was paid to question and to be skeptical. But I was won over by the leadership style of Mayor Lynch. Later, when I pursued my own entrepreneurial endeavors, I sought advice from Tom and began to become fascinated by his success with Plastridge and some of his other business endeavors. He was always generous with his time and advice. When we would get together, it would seem that we would never run out of subjects to talk about and while we agreed on many things, we also proved that you can be friends and politely disagree on the subjects where we saw things a little differently.

I’ve written before that Tom encouraged me to pursue local politics and it was his initial belief in me that got me to seriously consider a run for office in 2000. During my 7 years in office, he served as a trusted sounding board and I can’t overstate how valuable that is. He never once told me what to do, but he helped me through some difficult times with advice I knew was always meant to help me and the city we both cared a lot about.

Sitting at the Marriott listening to long time colleagues such as Mike Bottcher (38 years at Plastridge) and his assistant Paula Post recount how many lives he’s touched at the agency and in the community, I realized how lucky I was to be one of them.

Over the years, I got to know Tom’s wife Hillary who is wonderful and community focused too and his terrific children all of whom are accomplished and kind.

Out of the six kids, I’ve gotten to know Connor and Brendan the best. Both have done a great job moving Plastridge into the future now that Tom is taking some time to paint and indulge other interests.

Both Connor and Brendan are friends and I’ve grown to admire them both greatly. They are smart, talented, dedicated and effective in business and in the community. I was thrilled when Connor was recognized by the Sun-Sentinel last week with a prestigious award that recognizes his devotion to the community and his business acumen and potential for even greater success.

As I made my way around the party and ran into a few folks I’ve known over the years—Tom McMurrian, Peter Arts, Lula Butler, Janet Meeks, Ryan Boylston—all noted the incredible achievement of lasting and thriving for 100 years. And all noted how special the Lynch’s are.

Communities rise or fall based on the quality of people that show up to lead, encourage, mentor, volunteer, run for office, serve, give, employ, invest, think, risk and nurture others.

We were so fortunate that Tom came from the cold of Chicago to the warmth of Delray. Here, he and his family have chaired non-profits, given generously to good causes, dreamt of a better city/county/state and did something to make it so. The list goes on and on. Now, thanks to a new generation, all the good is sure to endure.

Here’s to the next 100 years.

 

 

4Kids Addresses The Silent Crisis

Karen Granger, Tom Lukasik and other dignitaries celebrate the new 4Kids office in Delray.

I have known and admired Karen Granger for well over 20 years now.

We go back to her days at Levenger, the Delray Beach company that I loved so much because they built a business around my favorite hobby: reading.

Karen was in public relations back in those days and I was with the press, first the Delray Times and then my own education newspaper. Levenger was one of the early Delray entrepreneurial success stories and so Karen and I found ourselves crossing paths every now and then.

We became closer friends when she was hired by the Delray Chamber of Commerce where she eventually served as president and CEO. I was on the board for those years and I thought she brought a lot to the job. She had the warmth of former chamber execs Bill Wood and Ken Ellingsworth and she had a special affection and way with the young entrepreneurs who were flocking to our city as a result of Delray’s long renaissance.

Along the way, we become each other’s confidants and supporters. When Karen felt the political heat on hot button issues such as Ipic and the future of special events in Delray, I and others tried to be there for her. When I published my book and agonized over whether I should run for office again, Karen was there with sage advice and support.

So when she landed at 4Kids, a non-profit that focuses on helping children, I was thrilled for her. I truly believe she is where she needs to be; doing important work for a great cause and shining a light on a silent crisis in our community—the need for adoptive and foster homes. As a woman of faith, Karen also believes that she is where she is meant to be.

Last week, a large crowd came to celebrate 4Kids’ new location at The Arbors office building on Congress Avenue and Germantown Road. My company, CDS International Holdings, owns the building and it is part of a redevelopment project envisioned for the abandoned site where Office Depot once had its worldwide headquarters. LynLee Fraser of Parkview Realty (another CDS entity) worked hard to bring 4 Kids to The Arbors and I am proud of our company for supporting the new regional office.

Having a Delray location means that more children in crisis will be served and more foster families will be identified, supported and engaged.

At last week’s ribbon cutting, an array of 4Kids executives, volunteers, board members, supporters, business leaders, elected officials and chamber presidents from Boca and Delray discussed the acute crisis in our community.

More than 100 children in Palm Beach County needed to be removed from their homes for their safety last month. Tragically, 145 children had to be turned away because there is a lack of foster homes in which to place them. Those are staggering and sobering numbers.

If you visit the 4Kids website http://www.4kids.us , you can plug in your zip code and see how many children from your neighborhood were removed from their homes in a year’s time. My zip code saw 22 children removed. It is a silent crisis. Each story is unique. Each child needs love. They are being saved from violence, dysfunction even human trafficking. Yes, it happens here.

Karen and others—including 4Kids executive Tom Lukasik who has fostered 57 children—asked those in attendance at the opening to spread the word. But even if you can’t foster yourself, you can donate clothing, movie tickets, gift certificates—anything kids can use.

Pastor Casey Cleveland, who gave a heartfelt and emotional blessing at the ribbon cutting, also noted that it’s important to support, visit and nurture foster families in our community. Visit them. Bring a dish. Drop off something they can use. “Show them love,” says Casey.

Show them love.

Thanks, Karen for opening our eyes to the silent crisis. Thanks 4Kids for all the good that you do. And welcome to Delray Beach.

 

 

 

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.