Remembering a Local Legend

Bert Fashaw

 

We lost a local legend last week and in this time of pandemic, I fear that these losses will pass without the notice they deserve.

Bert Fashaw passed last week. He was 83. He leaves behind a large family and a whole lot of friends and fans who remember him fondly.
Mr. Fashaw worked for the City of Delray for 33 years and also served the School Board for 34 years.
He was a Parks Ranger for Delray and spent many years guarding the parking lot during City Commission meetings.
From his post, he saw it all. All the players, past and present, all the crowds during contentious issues and all the characters that make up Delray Beach.
  I got to know him when I was a reporter assigned to cover Delray and later as an elected official. He would deliver to my home my packet of mail and the agenda for the next commission meeting  every Friday night and we would often chat about all things Delray.
Mr. Fashaw was funny. He was wise and he had a great way of putting issues into perspective.
I enjoyed every one of our interactions.
I especially enjoyed our chats pre and post meeting. I would pull into the City Hall lot and Bert would give me his read for the evening based on what he was seeing and feeling.
“Going to be a long night,” he would often say if he felt we were in for a night of trouble. Or “don’t worry, nothing much is going to happen” if he thought an issue was over blown.
I don’t think he was ever wrong.
I guess you pick up a lot about a place if you work there for three decades or more as he had.
He had community ties too and knew the pulse of the city.
My lasting image of Bert Fashaw was him in his Park Ranger uniform complete with hat and an ever present cigar.
We felt he had our backs when we walked out to our cars sometimes very late at night or in the wee hours of the morning after long meetings.
If we got out early, we could always count on a few good words with our friend.
A former city commissioner sent me his obituary and I noticed that there was no service as a result of the coronavirus. It mentioned the possibility of one at a later date.
And I thought how sad to pass during this time of international crisis. How sad it is that we  can’t gather to say goodbye, share stories, pay tribute and otherwise remember a loved one.
What a sad, sad time.
Let’s do our best not to forget those we lose during this dark season.
Thanks Mr. Fashaw for your service and your friendship. You will be missed.

A Time to Evolve

In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO.

I thought of that quote as I see the businesses in our communities rise to the occasion during this unique period of peril in our world.

Sit down restaurants pivot to a takeout model, delivery services cope with a monumental increase in volume, hospitals and their workers perform heroically, auto companies retool and crank out ventilators, educators figure out ways to reach their students and schools find a way to feed families.
It’s breathtaking.
Yes, finding  toilet paper can still be a challenge, but Americans by and large are rising to the occasion.

It’s heartening to see because I suspect that our political dysfunction obscures our sense of what’s possible.
So this is a good time to observe how entrepreneurs in all walks of life figure a way forward. That’s not to say that everyone is going to make it, this pandemic is a monumental challenge and there will be plenty of businesses that won’t make it.

The Palm Beach Post ran a poignant story this week outlining the toll the pandemic has had on new businesses. We are seeing how hard it is for newspapers and magazines to pivot to digital. You can report online but finding a business model that pays for good journalism is hard.
Still, companies large and small are not going down without a fight.
And it’s that fighting spirit and our innovative chops that will ultimately get us out of this mess.
It will come at a cost. A high one at that, in terms of lives, illness, mental stress and trillions of dollars but we will get out of this and we will thrive again …someday.
Speaking of evolving, this is a good time to look at our leaders and see if they are evolving too.
This crisis will force leaders in business, government, education, health care, the non-profit world and the military to adapt and evolve.
Some will have to evolve their leadership styles. Others will have to adjust their governing philosophies or their business models.
Those that do, will succeed. Those that don’t, won’t make it.
This is a time when leaders communicate more and in better ways. This is a time when real leaders cast a wide net and ask for help and advice even from their rivals and competitors.
It’s an era that will require strength and empathy, vision and attention to the day to day blocking and tackling which just got a whole lot harder.
Leaders are defined by how they navigate challenges. It’s easier to be in charge in good times when investment is pouring in and opportunities are abundant. It’s hard when everywhere you look is a minefield and the path forward is shrouded in fog.
Partisanship aside, I’m impressed with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He strikes me as someone steeped in facts, willing to take responsibility, empathetic and wholly human. He’s providing us a real time master class in leadership.
In business, I’m liking what I’m seeing out of GM CEO Mary Barra who is reconfiguring factories to crank out hard to make ventilators. Her workers and engineers are amazing.
I’m also impressed by our Firefighters Union for stepping up and pooling their cash to support local restaurants and their recent public appeal not to buy them meals or coffee but to save those efforts for families in need.

We often see our unions slammed during election season. But this proves what I’ve always known (because I’ve worked with these men and women) that these people are dedicated professionals who are loyal to our community. Sure they care about their pensions and benefits ( as they should)  but they also care about us. They have always gone above and beyond and that’s to be commended and cherished.

Same with nurses, doctors, teachers, restaurant workers, grocery store employees and those who deliver packages.
We are fortunate.
Yes, even in this horrible time of pandemic, we are fortunate.

Friendship in the Age of Zoom

Like many of you, we’ve been keeping in touch with family, friends and work colleagues via Zoom these days.

I’ve had three Zoom happy hours, a bunch of Zoom conference calls and I have a feeling we are just getting started.
Welcome to corona world.
But this isn’t a lament. There’s plenty to lament of course, starting with the death, sickness and economic carnage this damn virus has caused. This is flat awful and extremely scary.
But even in the darkest of times, there are some bright glimmers of the indefatigable human spirit.
For me, the amazing thing about Zoom is we are reminded that we need to see each other’s faces.
It’s not the same as being in the same room but it’s still good to see loved ones. And isn’t it interesting how “seeing” each other via Zoom or FaceTime just feels good. Better than a text or a regular phone call. It’s a reminder that we need to see each other. That’s a very good thing.
I have three standing Zoom calls a week and I look forward to each one.
My first is with colleagues at the office. It’s a brief call to update each other on what we’re doing and how we’re doing. We are trying to move forward with our work projects despite this “situation.”
The second call is a late night happy hour with my childhood buddies scattered across three time zones.
I’ve written before about now fortunate I am to still be in touch with guys I’ve known since I was a first grader. It’s truly amazing. Because these friendships are 50 years old and we still enjoy each other’s company.
We have a guy in Southern California, another in Milwaukee, one in New Jersey and this week a new addition from Arizona.
Hanging out with these guys has been a real morale boost during these scary times.
We talk current events, politics, books, movies, comedians and a whole lot of nonsense. It’s therapeutic. These faces are familiar to me, comforting too. I still see the young guys we once were and I marvel at the men they’ve become.
One of the guys and his wife had the virus and was able to give us a feel for what it’s like. While he recovered nicely, it was a battle. It was somehow comforting to hear about the experience from someone you know and trust.
I’m so glad he recovered. I realize all over again how much I treasure these friendships.
If you’ve been blessed with old friends, now is a good time to reach out to them. Now is a good time to tell them how important they are to you.
I also had a local “happy hour” with some Delray friends whom I also love and treasure.
It was fun to see into their homes and talk to their kids while having wine, sharing laughs and thinking about what’s next for our community.
What will Atlantic Avenue look like? Will rents adjust? Can they?
Which of our local businesses will make it through and which will sadly go away.
The faces on the other end of the line are my local heroes, the men and women who have done so much for this town. They haven’t always been appreciated by the cognoscenti but dear G-d I appreciate them. I love them too.
The onset of this crisis was like a game of musical chairs where all of a sudden the music stops, there’s a scramble to survive and life changes.

But unlike  musical chairs, you can’t just switch the music back on. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were so simple?
But the world is not simple. The ground shifts underneath us, things change and things don’t get put back just so.
Driving Atlantic Avenue today reminds me of the 80s. It’s eerie.
Eventually this situation will lift. We will be able to buy a yogurt without a mask at our favorite ice cream shop on Linton.
But things won’t be the same. Families will lose loved ones in the most painful way imaginable.
Still, the crisis will end. Most of us will make it, but we will be altered by this experience.
I think we will treasure our friends and family more. Just seeing their faces will fill our hearts. Whether in person or on Zoom they will fill our hearts.
Seeing faces we love….never more important t than right about now.
Stay safe.

Finding Inspiration In Crisis

Jonas Salk

 

PBS has been running a great documentary called “The Polio Crusade.”

If you are looking for hope and inspiration in these dark days of Covid-19, I highly recommend you watch this remarkable program which is part of the American Experience series.
It traces the amazing story of Jonas Salk and his successful quest to develop a polio vaccine.
Salk was an interesting man.
Described as “super ambitious” by his fellow scientists, he was a man who thought big and who had great faith in his ideas.
Of course, like many of the great ones, he had his share of detractors one of whom described him as a garage chemist. But the critics did not dissuade Salk. He was determined to stamp out polio quickly and sure enough he did.
The coronavirus has some eerie parallels with the polio epidemic. Images of people in iron lungs is reminiscent of the images we are seeing of people on respirators and ventilators.
The fear we are experiencing is also reminiscent of the polio era.
Surveys at the time said Americans feared polio almost as much as they feared nuclear war.
They craved  a vaccine and officials at the time were willing to take risks to conquer the disease. They were willing to have their children take a vaccine that nobody was sure would work. Well maybe nobody but Salk.
This was 1954, a different moment in American history, a time when people trusted their government and trusted science.
They were willing to try.
In 1955, when the results of the field trials were released the entire world waited with baited breath.
Factory whistles blew, children cheered and parents wept when  it was learned that the Salk vaccine worked.
Twenty years of efforts. Twenty years of giving dimes to fund research paid off.
It’s an uplifting story.
Today, we need history to repeat itself.
And I’m confident that somewhere, a brilliant scientist or team of scientists, will come up with an effective cure and treatment for the scourge we are experiencing today.
  More than 140 experimental drug treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus are in development worldwide, most in early stages, including 11 already in clinical trials. Counting drugs approved for other diseases, there are 250 clinical trials testing treatments for vaccines for the virus. Hundreds more are planned.
Until then, we wait. We pray. We hope and we support those on the front lines of the coronavirus.
While the coming weeks are predicted to be grim, watching the “Polio Crusade” gives one hope and faith in human ingenuity. There’s an answer out there and it will be found.

The New Abnormal

Ahhh quarantine life.

When you can’t wait to take the garbage out because it’s your outing for the day.
I’m hoping that you are trying to be productive as you work from home or shelter in place.
I’m trying.
But yes it’s trying.
I miss life as we knew it.
I don’t like the new abnormal.
I do appreciate the need to do what we’re doing and I really love the texts, emails and phone calls from concerned friends and family. It’s been great to catch up.
But I miss my life. I know I’m not alone.
I have been working. But I miss my co-workers. I’ve been writing but I feel blocked. I’ve been exercising but I miss the gym.
I have been reading and can recommend some good books.
“Golden Gates” is an amazing book about the lack of attainable housing in America. Most of the book’s action is centered in California which is wrestling with a major homeless crisis. The book chronicles the rise of the YIMBY movement which stands for Yes in My Back Yard and how they battle NIMBYS (Not in My Back Yard) in a never ending series of clashes. It’s a great read.
I also started “Call Sign Chaos’ the autobiography of General Jim Mattis who  served as Secretary of Defense. It’s an interesting treatise on leadership, the Marine Corps, foreign policy and national defense.
On TV, I can recommend “The Plot Against America” on HBO which is so  well done and “Unorthodox” on Netflix.
If you love rock music, don’t miss Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live at Hyde Park. It’s a tour de force performance in front of a huge crowd. It will get you off your feet. And keep a close eye out for Delray’s Max Weinberg who gives an amazing performance on the drums. Max is the best.
Speaking of rock music, if
you love Bob Dylan—and I do—his new song “Murder Most Foul” is a can’t miss listen. It is 17 minutes long so prepare. But it will haunt you for days.
I know, I know, you don’t want to be haunted right about now.
I can’t blame you. But this is a good kind of haunting. Dylan is a gift. We can all use one right about now.

Life. Interrupted.

Signs of the times.

 

So much has changed.

In the blink of an eye.
That’s what’s so astonishing.
How everything about our existence can change in a matter of days.
Now intellectually we all know that. We all know that life can change in an instant.
But emotionally I’m not sure how many of us could have truly grasped how a virus could upend our lives—upend our entire world.  Until now.
A month ago, corona was a beer and we didn’t really know terms like social distancing and Covid-19. We sure do now.
There is a twilight zone aspect to this pandemic.
I’m writing this sitting in my backyard on a beautiful night and it feels like I’m living in paradise.
But somewhere out there is this virus that can kill and it’s a sobering thought. There is a Russian Roulette aspect to this pandemic that makes it extra scary.
Some may have it and never know. Some will feel fine and crash. If they do, they will die alone.
I think of my older friends, my father and my friends parents and worry about their well-being.
But I also know that younger people are susceptible as well and that no one is truly safe.
I marvel at the bravery of our medical community, first responders and all those who work in essential jobs. They are at risk but they persist.
All around me are examples of quiet heroism.
People trying to support their favorite local businesses, CEOs and business owners trying to take care of their employees and teachers who are going above and beyond.
A friend of mine told me about what’s happening at Trinity Lutheran School up the street from where I live. Teachers giving up Spring Break so they can keep teaching the children that they are so devoted too.
It fills your heart.
Papas Tapas, one of my favorite restaurants, is feeding first responders and hospital workers at a time when their sales have to be hurting.
I see small business owners reaching out to the Small Business Administration for loans to keep their people employed.
In my dark moments, I feel like a prisoner unable to go anywhere or do anything. It’s no fun to see the stock market plummet and your life savings dwindle. It’s no fun to see business endeavors die and it’s frustrating because we can’t see the bottom yet and don’t really know when or how this will end.
But..in my more hopeful moments, I see all the good in the community and in the wider world. And I wonder, if perhaps, we will come out the other side of this better people.
We will ever take lunch with a friend for granted again?
We will ever decide to skip that party or that trip because we’re tired or there’s always next year?
I will be grateful when this ends. And I’m praying it is not as bad as the best case scenarios are predicting. But when it ends I’m hopeful that this experience leaves us appreciative of all things large and small.
The ability to see your friends.
The chance to have lunch with your dad.
The opportunity to go to a wedding or a birthday party or to visit your favorite watering hole.
We may be a long way from those days. I sure hope not. But it may be a ways off. But that day will come.
Until then, be careful, be safe and use this time to see what you can do to support the simple things we love about our community.

March Round Up

Things We loved in March.

Not much. Let’s face it, it has been a trying month. And trying really doesn’t cover it does it?
Historic? Yes. Awful? Very.
But there’s always a silver lining. So it was nice to see the compassion of neighbors. Nice to see the lack of complaining when beloved community events were cancelled.
Here a few highlights…some of which were written before the onset of Covid-19.
The Socially Distanced Supper Club founded by John Brewer and Ian Paterson forms “flash mobs” to support local restaurants during this trying time. What a great idea by two truly great guys. Find the club on Facebook.
Kudos to a group of Delray moms who started a GoFundMe page, Food and Morale for Healthcare Workers and 1st Responders. Donations support employees on the front lines at Delray Beach Medical Center, Boca Raton Regional Hospital, West Boca Medical Center and Bethesda Hospital West. Additionally, people in fire and EMS, law enforcement and janitorial services across South Florida.
We are fans of Delray Morning Live.
It’s a terrific local show that runs every Wednesday at 8:30 am on Facebook. If you miss it it’s archived.
But if you care about what’s happening in our town you really need to check it out.
We were really thrilled to see Marisa Herman, the truly excellent editor of the Delray Newspaper and Boca Newspaper on a recent show.
Granger’s is rapidly becoming a go-to lunch spot. Heck, it’s arrived. And for good reason.
Great food, fair prices, friendly service and easy parking. It’s a winning combination.
Our favorite: the turkey burger. We took out during the crisis. Please consider supporting your local restaurants.
Once the crisis passes, if you are in Boca for lunch, check out Madison’s.
Great food, good service and the best sautéed broccoli you are likely to find.
I tried watching Hunters on Amazon Prime with the great Al Pacino.
It was well done. Pacino was excellent. But I quit after two episodes. Way, way, way too violent. The real world is scary enough.
Kudos to Boca Raton on their new park Hillsboro El Rio North.
It’s so well done. Beautifully laid out with the right blend of open space and activities.
Well done. Boca parks are just the best. Very special.
Congratulations to Boca Mayor Scott Singer on his re-election.
Mayor Singer has done a fine job and truly seems to enjoy serving and promoting his city.
He’s a mayor who matters and he’s done a great job during the coronavirus crisis.
We finally checked out the Wine Room on Atlantic Avenue.
It’s terrific.
Lively, great happy hour menu and the space just can’t be beat in terms of historic character.
Wishing them well.
When the ban on gyms is lifted, If you want to be inspired, get up early and head to The Zoo in Boynton Beach to watch Delray architect Gary Eliopoulos put on a workout clinic.
He’s there most mornings at 5 am.
If you didn’t see it, Google Alex Trebek’s short video on surviving one year with pancreatic cancer.
He’s a brave soul and an inspiration. One day at a time. No matter the situation.
For the first time in its history, Delray Beach Fire Rescue has achieved accreditation with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI).
DBFR, which was officially awarded this prestigious status  at the Center for Public Safety Excellence conference in Orlando, is now one of only .9 percent of fire departments in the country that hold this accreditation, as well as Class 1 status from the Insurance Service Organization, which it achieved in 2018.
Seeing Delray’s very own Taverna Trela featured on Restaurant Impossible was cool.
Very entertaining episode.
We mourn the loss of Linda DeNiro, daughter of our late friend Jack DeNiro.
Like her dad, Linda was a realtor and a long time resident of Delray.
We also lost Carmelita Smith, a longtime affordable housing advocate in Delray.
She was a kind and dedicated professional who will be missed by those of us who worked with her.
We also mourn the loss of Tommy Stevens, who along with Libby Wesley, ran the Roots Festival for many years. Tommy was a gentle soul who cared deeply for the community.
Let’s hope April is a better month. Be safe and stay healthy.

Home Work Is Challenging

It’s challenging to work at home.

I mean really challenging. Like mountain climbing challenging.

It’s been two days and I have to admit I’m already a little stir crazy.
I’m fairly sure you can relate. I’ve heard from a few of you over the past few days and you seem out of sorts. I get it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my house. I love my wife. I love my two dogs and my two birds. But they are big distractions.
And I say that with affection and respect.
My dogs stare. Constantly. They seem confused by my presence. But that doesn’t stop them from staring.
All.
Day.
Long.

My birds are also thrown by my presence. Butters and Bailey, two adorable cockatiels want to be on my shoulder and take a keen interest in every piece of paper that I look at. Their goal: to shred it and make a nest. Every day they make a colossal mess.
Then there is my wife. I love seeing her throughout the day. I truly do.
She is lovely and it’s nice to have her in the room next door. But I have to say I’m compelled to see what she’s watching or doing. Call me curious. Or lonely. Or just smitten. Maybe it’s all of the above.

Anyway it’s not easy to work at home.
I also miss my work colleagues.
I miss the daily chit chat, the energy of the office and the daily discussion about what to do about lunch.
It’s the little things. But add them up and it’s meaningful.
I used to dream—check that—fantasize about an empty calendar. Now I have one.
Oh my book is full of scheduled calls but my appointment book where I actually leave the office to meet someone is empty for the first time since 1987 when I moved here from New York.
Now I kind of miss those 2-3 meeting days and the running around.
I miss lunch at J Alexander’s, I miss meeting my team at the bar at Madison’s and I really miss the office fridge stacked with Celsius. I ordered on Amazon and grabbed a four pack at Publix but I miss reaching in and grabbing my favorite flavor— Peach Mango— which in my superstitious mind meant I was going to have a good day.

It’s been a whole five days and it feels like a lifetime.
I’m sure you have your own small, silly rituals that you miss.
Life will get back to normal. I’m pretty sure. When? I wish I knew.
Oh how I wish I knew.

A New Landscape

Empty downtown streets in the middle of season are a stark reminder of the toll of Covid-19

 

A few months ago, we attended the opening of Rex Baron, a new restaurant in the Town Center Mall.

The restaurant’s theme was a post apocalyptic Boca Raton. Little did I know that a few months later we would be living the theme as a reality.
Yes, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but perhaps only a bit.
Things are mighty strange out there. What a difference a few weeks can make.
Malls are closed. Restaurants are closed. Roads are empty. There are no sports, no events and no shows —only an endless river of bad news.
The world has shifted and  it doesn’t feel very good.
My friends are edgy. We are watching our businesses and investments get crushed, we can’t go out and we are worried about our health.
Is that sniffle the coronavirus?
Will we survive this?
Will our friends and family?
Will life ever return to normal?
How long will this last? What if we get a hurricane on top of this mess?
Sometimes I can’t stop my mind and I get overcome with worry. At other times, I briefly forget and lose myself in a project, a conversation or a book and life seems normal. But something always snaps you back to reality.
Usually it’s the news. Or the fact that everything we know and love about our lives is in jeopardy, disrupted or already gone.
To quote John Lennon: you don’t know what you got until you lose it.
How true.
What this crisis brings home to me is how vulnerable we all are.
A rip roaring economy (for some, not all) gets washed away in a matter of days.
Once healthy people get sick and some may never recover.
But within every crisis there lies a lesson and even some good news which I am resolved to focus on and I hope you do too.
I’m seeing resilience in the community.
I’m seeing ingenuity too.
I’m also seeing generosity and creativity, kindness and concern.
There are so many examples: The Social Distancing Supper Club formed by my friends and neighbors John Brewer and Ian Paterson which picks a local restaurant, takes orders on Facebook and creates a mob of business for those businesses that are surely hurting. This week’s beneficiary: the excellent J&J Raw Bar on Atlantic Avenue.
I have another neighbor who owns Prime in Delray and Baciami in Boynton Beach. He is feeding his 100 employees every night taking away at least some of the burden for his stressed out workers.
I was proud to see our firefighters union step up and offer to help local restaurant to the time of over $5,000 a week. That’s the buying power of firefighters and paramedics spread out over six fire stations in our city. Pretty cool indeed.
Over the weekend, we took out from Anthony’s Coal Fire Pizza which has always been here for the community. We also ordered from Grangers, an incredible restaurant, with a deeply loyal following.
The management is doing its best to adjust its ordering to prevent waste while also meeting the needs of customers who have fallen hard for their ribs and delicious soups.
In the coming weeks, we plan to support many of our local favorites including LaCigale, Caffe Luna Rosa and a few other places owned and operated by friends some of whom have become like family to us.
As a former mayor who experienced several hurricanes that challenged our resolve and patience, I’ve become a student of how public officials react and lead in these situations.
Yes, we live in cities that are governed by a council manager form of government. But mayors and commissioners have roles too, important ones in hard times. They are counted on to be visible, accessible, factual, empathetic, strong and direct with key information. They are also advocates for resources and counted on to provide hope. Not false hope but hope because we will get beyond this.
It will surely change us. It already has and life will never quite be the same. But there will be life.
Crises focus us on what’s most important. And so we relearn what truly matters. Our health. Our families. Our friends. The local businesses that serve and sustain us. Our health care system. Our first responders, health care workers and public servants. Our schools and teachers. The arts and events that give us joy and keep our communities vibrant and alive.
Let’s think of them all as we navigate the unforeseen.
Let’s think of each other too.
Kindness. Patience. Love. Empathy. Community.
Be well and stay safe.

The Language Of Reconciliation

“I believe we will soon see leaders using the language of reconciliation, of healing and unifying. Perhaps the noise of the present has been drowning out the voice of reason—the voice of the future that is still there.” —Frances Hesselbein, chair of the Hesselbein Leadership Forum at the University of Pittsburgh and former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

I admire Frances Hesselbein.

I read her leadership themed email every day.

She is optimistic.

Leadership by definition is optimistic.

We have been missing the voice of the future for a long time in our community and that absence has created a tremendous amount of damage. When you stop focusing on the future it passes you by.  You tend to get bogged down in the mundane daily battles that blur with time and don’t add up to anything productive.

It’s the day after the Delray Beach municipal election—another bruiser that did little to elevate the conversation around town and a lot to take us further down the “hey, let’s continue to hate each other” rabbit hole that simply does not work.

So let’s congratulate Vice Mayor Shirley Johnson and newcomer Juli Casale on their victories and hope that in the midst of a huge national crisis, we are able to come together in Delray.

But before we move on and the election fades from our memories, we should do a brief post-mortem.

So what did we “learn” over the past two plus months of intense campaigning?
Here’s a brief primer in case you might have gone numb.

Election Narrative: All developers and all development is Bad—It doesn’t matter what the project is, it’s all no good. Developers are rapacious, corrupting criminals and somehow we’d be so much better off without them.

Reality: Without investment we’re dead.

Healthy cities need to grow their tax base. Healthy cities need to create jobs and they need to offer housing especially attainable housing so that families and young people have a way of becoming part of our community. We need good development, smart growth, attractive design and policies that promote economic and environmental sustainability. We didn’t get that discussion in this election cycle or in past cycles either to be fair. And until we have that conversation as a community, we are doomed to keep slinging a lot of lies and innuendo at each other. How sad for us. How unproductive. We need to do better and we can do better.

Election Narrative: Business interests— but especially developers —are a “special interest” and therefore not worthy of participating in our local elections.

They shouldn’t make a donation to a candidate who they think might be good for Delray; they can however continue to pay taxes and shut their mouths when it comes to endless approval processes and endless insults relating to the damage they are allegedly doing.

So it doesn’t matter that maybe you hope to exercise your property rights or whether you are following the city’s codes or acting on a vision…. say to jump start the Congress Avenue corridor or create a job or provide a home for a young family. The message is clear: how dare you. I’ve met a slew of developers over the years. Some were terrible. I mean lock the doors, check your wallets and take a shower after meeting them bad. And some were terrific.

Reality: In my experience, the good ones don’t want to buy anyone and would never do so. That’s one of the reasons they’re good.  They believe in their projects and their vision and are willing to take risks to make things happen.

They don’t mind tough standards as long as the playing field is level and the process is not endless. Candidates often decry “developer money” flowing to their opponents, but why would developers support candidates who base their campaigns on stopping development? Not bad development, all development.

Election Narrative: Endorsements are worthless and reflect poorly on the candidate who receives them.

So if the police and fire union endorses you, it’s only because they want bigger pensions and higher salaries. It can’t be because you have been supportive of police and fire or they think you’d best serve the people of the community they are sworn to serve and protect.

Reality: Never mind the fact that in the last contract negotiation they agreed to give up benefits. Never let the facts get in the way of a good mail piece.

Let’s pretend that it makes sense to portray our police officers and firefighters as mercenaries. Hey I get it, unions and all. But, I’ve known two-plus generations of officers and firefighters; they care about Delray and will do what’s right for the city when it comes to crunch time. If you think the best way to “deal” with them is confrontation you are wrong.

Election Narrative: Challenger vs. Corrupt Establishment

We can’t discuss issues in any kind of depth because we get caught in the endless spiral of attacks and counter-attacks.

So here’s how it goes: Challenger (usually inexperienced with little in the way of a civic resume takes on “establishment” candidate (which is code word for someone who has spent at least a few years working in the community or serving in office).

Challenger attacks record, character and integrity of their opponent. Opponent feels compelled to strike back and call the challenger inexperienced, a bully and a liar. And so it goes down into the gutter.

To be fair, in this particular cycle, several of the challenger candidates ran very positive campaigns—a few didn’t. All are to be commended for running because it’s a huge commitment.  I hope commissioners seek to put several of the candidates on boards where they can get experience and learn more about the city they seek to lead.

 

There’s a lot more to discuss. Campaign finance reform, an apparent disconnect between the stated level of spending and the amount of mail we receive, the divisions in our city. Especially the divisions and the need to move past issues once they are decided.

 

The re-elected, the newly elected, the incumbents and we the people have an opportunity here to heal those divisions or at least agree to disagree in a more civil manner.

Our first order of business is to make it through the virus—which is sure to change our world and our local community in ways we can’t even begin to fathom yet.

But this too shall pass—and we have a responsibility to each other to find a way forward together.

The election was close—and it was a split decision. Which means there is an opportunity for all “sides” and viewpoints to reach out and be inclusive.