Mingling With Some Mayors

Lots of stories inside this building.

Recently, six Delray Beach mayors had lunch with the new class of Leadership Delray at the Delray Beach Golf Club.

The mayors spent 90 minutes sharing, listening and answering questions from the next generation of local leaders. It was a lot of fun.

Leadership Delray is a program of the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce.

I graduated many moons ago and the program has included future commissioners, mayors, business, city and non-profit leaders. It’s a good program. And an important one because we desperately need leadership in our community.

The mayors brought a perspective from 1990 to the present, but since all were active in local affairs before being elected, the history represented really dates to the late 1960s and early 70s.

Considering the city is still young–the town was incorporated in October 1911—so covering 50 plus years of local history is pretty significant.

Which means we were here for the tumultuous 80s—which was marked by political division, crime and drugs —but also by great vision and the establishment of important institutions such as the CRA and Old School Square.

Tom Lynch and Jay Alperin, who led our city through the Decade of Excellence, were in the room to tell the Leadership class about their triumphs and struggles as they beautified the downtown, laying the ground work for the renaissance that came as a result of a lot of hard work and immense public investment.

David Schmidt and I were there to share stories about the Downtown Master Plan, the move of Atlantic High School, the rezoning of Congress Avenue and our desire to improve schools and race relations.

More recent history was covered by Tom Carney and our current Mayor Shelly Petrolia.

Tom Lynch and I were seated together at a table with an engaging group of emerging leaders who worked for the city, CRA and Police Department. Many were fairly new to Delray but they asked really great questions.

I think the mayors who attended would agree that it is important to share local history and the context that informed certain key decisions.

It’s also important to listen to the views of emerging leaders and so we asked our lunch table for one word that they felt was essential for successful leadership. We heard words like integrity, courage, commitment and compassion. Those words sum it up.

As we ended the lunch, I was sad to see the Leadership Delray class go and the mayors—my predecessors and successors— scatter back to their lives.

I think that history can be used as an educational and community building tool.

We don’t have to look far for a great example: Boca.

The same week the Delray mayors gathered, the Downtown Boca Raton Rotary Club held its 5th annual “Mayors Ball.”

Here’s how the Boca Rotary describes the event.

“The Boca Raton Mayors Ball is the one of the signature annual fundraising events of the Rotary Club Downtown Boca Raton. This enchanting black-tie event celebrates all that is great about Boca Raton. Through our partnership with the Boca Raton Historical Society we highlight the storied history of our favorite Florida small town. Each year at the Mayors Ball we present the George Long Awards to individuals and institutions that have gone above and beyond to make Boca Raton the greatest place to live, work and play.

 Proceeds from the Boca Raton Mayors Ball are directed to local nonprofits focused on health and wellness initiatives through our “Service Above Self” grant program. “

I’m told that the event raises six figures for charity. Six figures!

I know Delray has the need. Maybe, we ought to do our own event and support Delray charities.

Twice before, Delray Mayors past and present gathered for an evening to raise money for the Delray Public Library and the Delray Beach Historical Society. These “Mingle With the Mayors” events were staged kind of the like the TV show “Inside the Actor’s Studio” allowing audience members to ask questions. They were fun events and well attended.

The concept doesn’t have to be limited to mayors—but could include evenings with locals who can provide a historical perspective on past and current issues.

These are bonding and educational opportunities. These types of celebrations build community—which is never a bad thing.

 

 

 

Things We Loved In September

Stephanie Immelman is the new CEO of the Delray Chamber.

Things We Loved In September

Bahamian Relief efforts. It was great to see the community response to Hurricane Dorian. The efforts were heartfelt and needed.
Boynton Beach will hereafter be known as the city of romance.
Elitesingles.com has named six South Florida cities to its most romantic cities list.
Boynton Beach tops the list with Boca landing at number 6 well ahead of number 17 West Palm Beach. No sign of Delray in the rankings….sigh.
The rankings are based on data compiled by more than 150,000 people who use the website.
Tech Power
South Florida Business Journal’s 2019 Tech Power List includes a bunch of local names. Here they are:
Joe Russo, who spearheads Palm Beach Tech and the 1909 incubator which has a location in Delray, Felecia Hatcher of Code Fever, Gregory Van Horn of Launch Potato, ShipMonk CEO Jan Bednar who went to FAU and got his start at FAU’s Tech Runway, Dan Cane of Boca’s Modernizing Medicine, Rob Flippo of Boca based Mobile Help, Boca’s Adam Rogers of Ultimate Software, Sam Zietz of Touchsuite and  Rhys Williams of Tech Runway were on the elite list. Very cool.
Food and Beverage
Vino Wine Bar in Boca.
Magnificent wine list, wonderful pastas and great apps.
Don’t miss the chicken piccata and the gnocchi.
The Tropical Salad at Papas Tapas…try it. You’ll love it.
I adore Five Spice. Just great tasting food.
Grand Luxe is always a fun time. Best fried pickles around.
Pizza Craft in Fort Lauderdale was a fun outing for me and my buddy Chuck Halberg. Great calamari, good thin pizza and very nice servers.
We are big fans of Baciami in Boynton Beach which is owned by the Pellegrini family who live in Delray. They also own Il Bacio and Prime.
If you venture north to their beautiful restaurant don’t miss the chicken rollatini, eggplant and if you really want to indulge they have the best NY style cheesecake which is homemade.
Interesting to see the legendary Tom’s Place BBQ open a store in the Boynton Beach Mall.
Beer Trade Company in Delray is underrated. It’s a relaxing hangout with good food and a vast array of beer choices. Some good ciders too.
Heartland Rock
We had a chance to catch the legendary BoDeans when they played the Broward Performing Arts Center last month.
The band, well known in the 80s and 90s, still sounds great.
They should have been bigger.
Check them out on Spotify. We recommend “Idaho”, “Still the Night”, “Stay On” and “Closer to Free” as a primer. If you love rock, this Wisconsin based band will hook you.
Enjoyed The Spy on Netflix.
The true story of Israeli spy Eli Cohen was riveting and featured a great performance by Sacha Baron Cohen in a very different role for him.
My dad had a book on Eli Cohen when I was a kid and I often found myself picking it up and delving into the story and photos. Don’t miss it.
Really pleased to see Boca based fitness drink Celsius take off.
It was an eventful month for the Nasdaq traded company. The company purchased Finland based Func Foods for $25mm and also introduced a BCAA line of drinks that will be out soon and available on Amazon and at fine retailers.
The company that I work for is the largest shareholder in Celsius and I’m a former COO of the company. We are very proud of their growth and their talented team. The future is very bright.
Congrats to The Arts Garage for their fine work and for being recognized by the School District for their art education efforts. Marjorie Waldo is a rock star.
This from the Delray Parks and Recreation Department:
“Sending a big congratulations to our one and only Senovain Stephens. Delray Beach born and raised, from living in Frog Alley to graduating from Atlantic High School, he knows Delray like the back of his hand. He started with us in 1993 and worked his way up the ladder earning him a promotion from Assistant Parks Superintendent to THE Parks Superintendent!  Congratulations Senovain!!”
Rock Star Energy Drink founder Russell Weiner is selling his Delray Beach home and it can be yours for only $36.5 million.
Sounds like a bargain.
The mansion does have six bedrooms, a 12 car garage, a tennis court and a pool with a water slide.
Weiner purchased the home for $11.6 million in 2009.
Now that’s appreciation.
Finally,
The Delray Chamber of Commerce announced that Stephanie Immelman has taken the permanent position of CEO.
Stephanie said, “I’m proud of what this new team and I have already accomplished the past four months. Our new hires, Angelica Vasquez and Kristopher Fisher, are already making waves, membership has increased dramatically, and the Chamber has re-engaged in a big way with the Delray community. We can’t wait to do more,”.
The selection of Ms. Immelman caps a search process focused on selecting a results-driven leader to drive change management, mission fulfillment, and operational outcomes to maximize the value the Chamber provides to its membership. The choice was made after the search committee considered the qualifications and experience of over 240 qualified applicants.
“After an extensive search for a new CEO of the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, we are pleased to have selected Stephanie Immelman,” said Bill Branning, Chairman. “Stephanie has an energetic leadership style. This combined with experience in non-profit and for-profit management positions makes Stephanie uniquely qualified to lead the Delray Chamber.”
You may know Stephanie Immelman as the former Executive Director of the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative but she has extensive business experience at Fortune 500 companies both in the US and Europe. She has held senior marketing positions at Continental Airlines and AT&T and worked in the corporate finance department of Global Crossing focusing on international mergers and acquisitions.
We wish her well.
Have a great October.

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.

 

 

 

Things We Loved In January

Juan Martin Del Potro and his passionate fan base will be in Delray in two weeks.

Things we loved in January

We didn’t want to let last month go before giving you a recap…so here goes.

The World Beneath Your Feet at the Living Room Theater. The documentary tells the story of Matt Green who walked every street, park, cemetery and public space in all five New York boroughs. That’s over 8,000 miles! An amazing story and lots of lessons about how you truly discover a place once you walk it. For those who love NYC and those who enjoy a quirky story this a film for you.

A dive into Middle Eastern and Indian fare

We highly recommend La Vie Restaurant in Pompano Beach. Absolutely wonderful Lebanese restaurant. Great service, delicious food, unique atmosphere and yes some belly dancing. Worth the trip south.

We also discovered Saffron & Curry a terrific Indian restaurant on West Atlantic and Congress. Delicious rice, family run and wonderful bread.

Lunch at Abe and Louie’s, highly recommend the Abe and Louie salad. A classic and still a good place to people watch. While the dining room is where you’ll see all the movers and shakers, we prefer the bar which is cozy and oozing with atmosphere.

Polar Vortex?
The weather. What a month! Can you imagine how many people caught in the polar vortex are saying “I’m moving to Florida?”

Great playoff football. Interesting to see the emergence of Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. He could be a generational talent. The Saints, featuring Delray’s Tre’ Quan Smith, we’re robbed. Awful.

And yes I know that in 44 out of 50 states it’s not cool to like Tom Brady, but you have to at least acknowledge his greatness. Six rings in nine trips. Amazing.

Mutts Gone Nuts at Old School Square. The traveling show features an array of rescue dogs performing amazing tricks and exhibiting astounding athleticism. If they come here again, don’t miss it.
Congratulations to Bill Branning of BSA Corporation on becoming the new chair of the Delray Chamber. And thanks to Rob Posillico for his year of service as chair.

Warming up for the Delray Open Down Under
Great to see Delray Open Champ Frances Tiafoe make a great run at the year’s first slam, the Australian Open. Tiafoe made his first slam quarterfinal with a big win on his 21st birthday. Of course, the reward was a match with Rafael Nadal. Tiafoe lost but he’s clearly a star on the rise.
Delray resident Kevin Anderson did very well in Australia too. The upcoming Delray Open boasts two top ten players and three top twenty players. Not too shabby. Time to drop the costly lawsuit to get rid of the tournament. The old mayor is gone, let’s move on.

We have become big fans of Sardinia restaurant in southeast Delray.
Terrific mozzarella made fresh on the premises, great service, a nice bar and good live music.
We met some old friends there recently and just had a blast. Don’t miss the tiramisu and the ravioli. Terrific.

A sad note: Delray lost a dear friend when Sean Nathan of Caffe Luna Rosa passed recently. Sean and I bonded over the NY Yankees. I will miss him as will the many patrons of Luna Rosa who came to love Sean over his many years of dedicated service. Rest In Peace my friend.

A Gathering Of Mayors

“It’s possible to be fierce, fierce in your dedication to change, to what’s right, to making things better–without finding the source of your power in the destruction of others.”– Seth Godin

 

Last week, thanks to the efforts of the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce and the talented Suzanne Spencer, seven former Delray Beach mayors met with the new class of Leadership Delray for a roundtable discussion on leadership and local history.

It was a blast.

And the Seth Godin quote above was a common thread for these mayors who represented local history from the 1980s through today.

Doak Campbell, Tom Lynch, Jay Alperin, Dave Schmidt, Tom Carney, current Mayor Shelly Petrolia and I shared stories, challenges and experiences from our days and nights in the trenches of local government.

It was a special afternoon and we need more of these types of get togethers because local history is special and relevant to the issues that we face today. The gathering was recorded by the class and will be given to the Delray Beach Historical Society. I look forward to seeing and sharing it with you someday soon. Each mayor brings a unique perspective to the job. My theory is that public office is much like an MRI–it reveals who you truly are. Your good qualities are revealed and your weaknesses too as expressed in decisions you make and your leadership style.

Doak Campbell presided over a somewhat tumultuous time in the 80s, with a revolving door of city managers and department heads, worries about crime and concerns about how to revive a desolate downtown. Despite a fair amount of political infighting, Doak’s commission made some huge and important moves: establishing a CRA, forming the first historic districts, agreeing to restore Old School Square, focusing on downtown and passing a landmark bond issue which led to tremendous improvements in the city’s infrastructure and how we viewed our future prospects. Mayor Campbell left his successors with money, a vision and some very promising seeds. He was a successful mayor.

Tom Lynch and Jay Alperin followed Doak. They successfully implemented the Decade of Excellence bond and brought needed stability to City Hall and to politics itself. On their watch, the Tennis Stadium was built and the seeds were planted for a downtown renaissance. Stability is very important to success. We tend not to appreciate stability until we lose it and we see the damage that volatility can bring to a community. Tom and Jay were gentlemen and they treated city staff and the public with respect; challenging both to bring solutions not just complaints to Commission chambers. I respect their leadership skills and learned a lot from watching them as a young reporter covering city government.

David Schmidt and I followed and we emphasized community engagement and citizen driven planning which led to a downtown master plan, a cultural plan, a parks plan, an effort to improve race relations and a continued focus on education. I learned a lot from sitting on the dais next to David. The commission’s we served on were ambitious and energetic–we wanted to bring about positive change and work to advance what other mayors had started. We saw ourselves as civic entrepreneurs and wanted very much to engage and involve the community. David empowered those who sat next to him on the dais and was always a calm and reasonable voice even amidst heated controversy.

Tom Carney wasn’t mayor for very long but he has been involved for many years serving on the Housing Authority, CRA and as founding president of the Arts Garage. We were glad he was at the roundtable to lend his long term perspective.

Newly elected Mayor Petrolia was gracious in her remarks referring to the success of Delray and her role as a steward giving the analogy that she was handed a golden egg and it’s her responsibility not to break it.

She also outlined the pressures facing current leadership ranging from crime concerns, schools, how much growth there should be (and where) and the need to shore up our infrastructure.

Based on the questions that Leadership Delray students asked, I think there was a good appreciation for the challenges of being a mayor of a town like Delray.

I often consulted with my predecessors because I knew that they loved Delray, had relevant experience in the issues we were facing and would understand the unique pressures of the job.

I saw former mayors and commissioners as resources that I could tap into in order to understand the genesis of issues and what paths were possible.

To their credit, they gave advice willingly knowing that ultimately I would make my own decision but that it would be informed by their valuable input and perspective.

I couldn’t imagine not tapping into the wealth of knowledge that exists here and I’m sure in other communities as well. Of course, you want a range of opinion and so the most effective elected officials seek out all sorts of voices—young and old, business owners, people from different parts of the city etc.

That’s how you succeed in what is a very difficult and all-consuming job.

Delray is a dynamic and challenging city. There are incredible opportunities and a lot of daunting challenges as well.

We need people with passion, a love for the town, humility, emotional intelligence, strength, foresight and courage to step up and lead.

Last week, I found myself in a room with a bunch of those types of people and I left feeling connected, happy and excited about our past, present and future.

Thanks Chamber, thanks Suzanne Spencer, thanks Leadership Delray and thanks to my fellow mayors for being so inspirational.

 

 

12 Things We Liked About January

A dozen things we liked in January

  1. The Delray Chamber’s installation of Rob Posillico as the new chair. Rob is a dedicated chamber volunteer and a talented young business leader who understands the importance of an effective business community to a city’s well-being.
  2. The private dining section at the Seagate Hotel is simply terrific. If you have a small group gathering and want to show some class book a room, you won’t forget it.
  3. The chicken francese at La Cigale is magnificent. It just defies description.
  4. We enjoyed an excellent cybersecurity seminar with Brad Deflin of Total Digital Security in Delray this month courtesy of JP Morgan. Great information, albeit scary. There are a lot of threats out there. Be careful.
  5. Lunch on the deck at Prime Catch overlooking the Intracoastal on a nice day is simply hard to beat.
  6. Sometimes you have to get out of Boca/Delray and try a new experience. We did with gourmet Mexican at the wonderful Eduardo De San Angel in Fort Lauderdale. It was sublime and we saw a few Delray folks dining there as well.
  7. Boca makes Livability’s 2018 Top 100 Places to Live list. Boca beat out 2,100 US cities. Very cool.
  8. It was good to see the non-profit Connected Warriors open their doors at Boca’s Innovation Campus.
  9. Kudos to the City of Boca’s Office of Economic Development on the launch of its new quarterly newsletter. Lots happening in Boca and this publication captures a lot of it (so does The Boca Newspaper).
  10. Seeing Vince Canning recognized by the DelrayCity Commission. He’s a good man and highly deserving of recognition.
  11. Congratulations to the Delray chamber for a great kickoff to 2018. The sold out “installation” luncheon at the Delray Beach Golf Club didn’t hide the fact that the chamber had a tough year in 2017. But the event boldly highlighted the importance, relevance and need for a strong chamber. Newly installed chair Mr. Posillico set out a vision for an innovative chamber that would match an innovative community. We wish the chamber well.
  12. Words can’t describe the feeling of being in a room with a true living legend. Delray’s own Benjamin Ferencz, the last living Nuremberg trials prosecutor, charmed an immense crowd at Boca West gathered to support and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. Mr. Ferencz, 98, shared his experiences at Nuremberg and his lifelong work to prevent genocide and encourage “law not war.” We’ll have more in a follow-up blog post. Special thanks to Shelly and Billy Himmelrich for including us what was an unforgettable evening.

10 Things We Liked About October

 

Matthew Farmer serenaded Lifetime Achievement Award winner Frances Bourque and hearts swooned.

10 Things we liked in October.
1. Bat Mitzvahs. Especially Bat Mitzvahs at Boca Pointe. Especially Bat Mitzvahs that include blackberry mojitos and chocolate fountains. Oh and a great young woman and great people too. That we love.
2. Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” in Pittsburgh. We know lots of Pittsburghers in Delray and Boca and we like them all.
3. The Matzo Ball soup at Deli On Rye in Boca.
4. Sitting at the bar for lunch at the Gazebo in Boca, a local classic. Elegant and delicious.
5. Frances Bourque being recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Delray Chamber. The founder of Old School Square is quite simply a local heroine. She made it all possible.
6. We loved seeing good guy Pedro Andrade recognized by the Chamber as Business Person of Year. The GM of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza is terrific. Period.
7. Congrats to the Conde Center for Chiropractic Neurology for also winning an award from the Chamber for their business success and growth. Founder Dr. John Conde also finds time to give back.
8. Margaret and Robert Blume stepping up to lead the effort to rethink the Cornell Museum at Old School Square.
9. The pork chops at 5th Avenue Grill. We knew they had great steaks, but the pork chops are magnificent as well.
10. Believe it or not– but I’m told by a well known deli maven that Caffe Luna Rosa serves a great pastrami sandwich. Maybe the best.
See you in November a month devoted to giving thanks.

Honoring A Local Legend

Frances Bourque: A Lifetime of Achievement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Frances made this happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A Lifetime of Achievement: Honoring Contributors

Frances Bourque: A Lifetime of Achievement.

On Friday night, the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce will honor three special people at its annual Luminary Gala at the Delray Marriott.

The Conde Center, founded by Dr. John Conde, will be named Business of the Year.
Pedro Andrade, GM of Anthony’s Coal Fire Pizza, will be honored as Business Person of the Year.
And Frances Bourque–the extraordinary Frances– will win a much deserved “Lifetime Achievement Award”.
All three represent the best of Delray Beach, people whose work in the community make them invaluable.
I’m glad that after a years break, the Chamber has restored its awards program. It’s important to recognize good people, say thanks and hopefully inspire others to strive.

To be honest, I don’t think we say thanks enough to the special people who give their time, talents and treasure to our community. If we fail to show gratitude and recognize service, we miss an opportunity to educate newcomers and our children. And we risk that important and noteworthy contributions will be missed–and as a result, the history of our city risks being incomplete.

The three Chamber honorees this year are truly deserving and very special.

The Conde Center enjoys a stellar reputation for advancing the health and wellness of its clientele.
Founded in 2006 by Dr. John Conde, the Conde Center for Chiropractic Neurology is known for its state of the art equipment and caring staff.
As a result, the Center has grown in size and now employs 10 people.
Despite a fast growing practice, Dr. Conde serves on several non profit boards and the city’s Downtown Development Authority. He’s involved in the community and finds many ways to support Delray. Over the years, I’ve quietly referred several people to the center.

One of my best friends is a chiropractic physician in California and I’ve learned to appreciate the difference these practitioners can make in people’s lives. I’ve never had anyone complain after visiting the Conde Center. I do hear a lot of raving reviews.

Mr. Andrade is another individual who finds myriad ways to support the community.
Quite simply, he’s a go-to person in Delray. If there’s a good cause, you know Pedro will be there.
He’s just a terrific guy and it feels good to see him honored.
I remember when we approved the restaurant way back when. I had received a letter from a neighbor concerned about “coal emissions” a reference to Anthony’s pizza cooking method.
That’s how new coal fired pizza was back then. Not to worry, all Anthony’s does is make amazing pizza and the best wings imaginable. No smoke stacks.

Which leads me to Frances.
What can one say about Frances Bourque?
She’s my personal heroine. And she serves that role for many many others.
The founder of Old School Square is truly an historic figure in our community. Her work has impacted a generation and will continue to impact Delray forever. There’s not too many people you can say that about.
She continues to be a leadership force in our community teaching us, focusing us and inspiring us.
In short, she’s a treasure.
To see her receive a lifetime achievement award will be a thrill for so many.
Because in so many ways, she personifies the best of Delray: visionary, aspirational, inspirational, historic, formidable, complex, loving and smart.
See you at the Gala…three special  honorees recognized by an important community anchor: our Chamber.

A Bright Light in a Dim Crisis

Detective Nicole Lucas speaking at a recent Delray Chamber meeting.

Detective Nicole Lucas is impressive.

As soon as she begins to speak, you just can’t help but be drawn into her story.

She is the detective working with a task force dealing with sober homes and the terrible addiction issues plaguing Delray Beach. Of course, Delray Beach is not alone. Addiction—particularly to opioids—is a national scourge claiming more lives last year than the Vietnam War, a whopping 59,000 people.

It’s a stunning number and Delray Beach is in the throes of the crisis, along with many, many cities nationwide.

When Det. Lucas spoke at the Chamber recently she reported that there have been 340 overdoses this year in Delray. By the time this is published that number is sure to have increased.

There were 76 overdoses in May. Every month, that number is increasing. Young police officers and paramedics are seeing more death in one year than veterans have in their entire careers. The emotional toll cannot be quantified, but it also can’t be ignored or denied.

What impressed us the most about Det. Lucas was that she struck the exact right tone on what can be an emotional issue. She combines empathy for those addicted and their families with toughness toward those who exploit people caught in the vice grip of addiction. She also shows great regard for the men and women saving lives–the responsible operators who are providing a needed service in our community.

“We all know someone touched by addiction,” she told a capacity crowd at the Chamber. “It’s not a small, hidden corner of the world anymore, it’s an epidemic.”

She praised the responsible operators, the men and women who dedicate their lives to trying to save people from the destruction and damage of addiction. There were no broad brushes, no sweeping indictments of the industry, just sober analysis of the situation and a mature view of what needs to be done to save lives and communities.

Our Police Department, our Drug Task Force and our State Attorney’s Office are on the cutting edge of the issue. We were one of the first cities to deploy Narcan, which reverses overdoses, the Police Department is hiring a clinical social worker and we are leaders on the Sober Homes Task Force.

Already, Det. Lucas and her team have shut down scores of sober homes and the word is out that irresponsible operators will be arrested and prosecuted. It’s a slow and laborious task, but the experts in Delray— including veteran providers and responsible operators –say that they are seeing many of the bad guys pack up shop and leave for other locales. Still, nobody is declaring victory and the body count continues to rise.

The opiates are becoming more lethal, the addictions harder to break.

“They are fighting demons most of us will never understand,” said Lucas. “There are tons of good sober homes and treatment centers but we have to get rid of the bad ones, the ones who abuse people.”
Det. Lucas detailed cases where patients were brokered and monetized. Examples of abuse, paying addicts to take drugs so they can be paid for being delivered to detox; etc.

“We see attempts to beat these people down. ‘You are just a junkie, the police don’t care about you. Who will believe you?’ It’s abusive.”

Interestingly, social media has assisted Det. Lucas in her efforts to find bad operators. An active Facebook page has elicited tips and given her a window into the world of recovery. She guarantees anonymity while encouraging citizens to speak out if they witness unsavory practices.

But merely calling the Police to report a sober home is not enough; good operators have a role to play and are protected by federal law. But those who violate patient brokering laws are fair game to be arrested and shut down.

If you have any tips please call 1-844-324-5463.