Cultural Attractions in Delray Beach and Boca Raton

Boca Raton and Delray Beach punch well above their weight class when it comes to culture. Both cities are home to museums, world class libraries, art exhibits, concerts, dance, theater and more.

Most of the time you won’t have to leave home, but if you do the greater South Florida area features some of the best cultural venues and opportunities in the world.

50 Years Deep

Leadership Delray visits Delray Beach Fire Rescue last week.

Every year, the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce hosts a “Mayor’s Lunch”as part of its Leadership Delray program.

Last week, newly elected Mayor Tom Carney, former mayor Dave Schmidt and I met with an enthusiastic group of emerging leaders who are enrolled in a comprehensive program designed to introduce them to how the community works.

I like these kind of programs. I think they’re important. We have a fine chamber.

Usually there are more mayors at this event, but scheduling conflicts and the passage of time conspired to constrain attendance this year. But the small group made the most of the opportunity to share bits of local history and meet new friends.

I enjoy the event because I enjoy telling and hearing stories from a past era with newer residents who may not know where we came from.

Sharing these stories is important. Especially in an era where our attention spans have waned and there’s no long a common “water cooler” to connect us.

I also enjoy hearing from current and former mayors.

Tom Carney struck a positive tone, praising staff and promising to convene the community to create a new vision.

It’s a good idea and a good way to start a new term. Ideally, mayors and commissioners serve the community. It’s hard to do that if you don’t survey the community by inviting them to share their ideas and opinions about where they live, work and play.

Mayor Schmidt followed with some solid leadership tips for the group. He talked about the balance that needs to be struck between service and ego and warned that if ego takes over problems follow.

He talked about how leaders should give credit to others but take the blame when things go wrong.

He also noted that criticism should be given respectfully with an eye toward improvement. Too often, we live in a “gotcha” world waiting for a slip-up so we can pounce. That’s not a sustainable strategy, nor does it lead to a productive atmosphere.

Listening to David speak I was reminded about what an extraordinary leader he has been in this community. David has lived here since 1971 and for most of those years he has been a quiet, humble but highly effective leader. He’s 50 years deep in this place and that means something.

Over the years, he has run a law practice, served on city boards, helped to write a few comprehensive plans, led our Sister Cities efforts, chaired the Chamber and Morikami Museum boards, and served with distinction on our city commission.

I shared with the group that I got to sit next to Dave for my first three years on the Commission. It was a great apprenticeship for me because I saw a calm leader who listened to everyone, shared his rationale before votes and encouraged his fellow commissioners to run with their passions.

For Commissioner Pat Archer that meant leading our drug task force which wrestled with how to make sure those in recovery got they helped they needed. Commissioner Alberta McCarthy concentrated on the theme of “Community Unity”, which can sound cliched, but Alberta’s leadership ensured that voices not often heard were invited to the table. Jon Levinson had an interest in housing and that passion led to the creation of the Delray Beach Community Land Trust. David let me run with the Downtown Master plan, which I co-chaired alongside Chuck Ridley.

David noted that the commission he led praised city staff, but also tasked them with an awful lot to do. They rose to the occasion and good things happened in Delray Beach. All of it was done with a lot of community involvement and engagement.

Listening to David speak, I was reminded of his grace under pressure when we decided to move Atlantic High School. David graduated from Atlantic so I’m sure it was an emotional decision to close the old school and move it to a more central location with room for career academies. The decision was controversial, but we ended with a brand new school, the Bexley Park neighborhood and two parks. We had also hoped to get a water park and a middle school of the arts out of the deal, but all in all it worked out.

I also remember how David led after 9/11 when it was discovered that several of the terrorists, including the masterminds were living in our city. We grieved as a community, handled national press and gathered at Old School Square and the Community Center to process our emotions. In a charged time, it’s helpful to have a steady leader. But Mayor Schmidt didn’t disappear after he was termed out.

No, our David is a long term player, committed to making this place better. And he has.

It’s people like David that make places like Delray work.

He didn’t do it for the remuneration; there isn’t any. He did it because he loves this community. Still, there is satisfaction. Lots of satisfaction.

And if we are to be honest there’s pain as well. Heartache too.

But you don’t feel pain or heartache unless you love something.

There are seasons of joy and seasons of pain. Stay around long enough and you feel both.

The Mayor’s Lunch is a chance to share stories with the next generation of leaders. Both David and I are graduates of Leadership Delray. Many former elected officials are graduates as well. Some who go through the program stay around and others pass through. And that’s fine.

But strong communities look to create the next cohort of long-term players, special people who give their time, talent and treasure to their hometowns.

We should treasure these people because they are everything. Let me say that again: they are everything.

Examples abound: Mayor Schmidt is one of many. This blog was created to celebrate these people. They are civic heroes, innovators and visionaries.

That’s what moves the needle. Everything else is negotiable. Everything except the people.

Here’s to the long-term players. Those who move mountains.

 

Culture Is Everything

Management guru Peter Drucker knows his stuff.

I listened to a great podcast about “culture” recently.

I’m not talking about cinema, art, or the theater. I am talking about the culture we find in companies, organizations, and communities.

Author Daniel Coyle is someone I’ve long admired. His books are great. The latest is “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups.” It may be his best.

Coyle went inside Seal Team Six, Pixar and the San Antonio Spurs to discover how and why they are so successful. The secret sauce is that these organizations build a great culture by developing three essential ingredients: safety, vulnerability, and story.

A great culture starts with safety.  We must send clear and continuous signals: we share a future, and you have a voice. It’s safe to speak up. We want to hear from you, and we are listening.

Another key is vulnerability. Strong cultures don’t hide their mistakes. They share their weaknesses and work on getting better.

The third important element is story. You need a story– not a mission statement– a story that becomes your North Star. A good story is what gets you out of bed and raring to go. A good story inspires and motivates.

Those three simple concepts resonate.

If you’re lucky, you’ve experienced the magic of a great culture somewhere along the way.

Before reading Coyle’s book, I attributed great culture to luck, chemistry, or serendipity. Sometimes you click with a group of people and sometimes you don’t.  But Coyle says we can be intentional about building a great culture. It’s not luck, it’s something we can create. That’s empowering.

There are a few questions we can ask ourselves about our organization or communities to see if we are helping or hurting the creation of a strong culture.

Here are a few examples:

Sharing a new idea feels terrifying, intimidating, or exciting?

When we disagree, do we brawl, dismiss, or engage?

When our leaders screw up, they: evade it, admit it, own it?

You get the drift.

Seen through the frames of The Culture Code I began to understand the “why” behind the examples in my own life when I experienced magic at work or in the community.

For sure I/we felt safe, we were able to feel vulnerable and own our mistakes. Most of all, we felt connected to a story. One we were writing.

There’s an old saying: “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

I have no doubt that’s true.

Summers Past & Service Honored

The Dunlop Maxply Fort was a classic of the era. The iconic racquets sell for over $300 online.

Note: We’ve been engaged in a little bit of spring cleaning lately and I’ve finally worked up the will to dive into some boxes that have been stacked in the garage for ages. I’m not a hoarder (well, maybe a little bit), but I do manage to accumulate a lot and until recently I haven’t wanted to go through these “collections” of memorabilia and mementos to see what should be kept and what should be tossed. I can’t say it’s easy throwing away articles I’ve written during my newspaper career or old photos, but it’s gotten easier. After all, nobody is going to want these things and they are taking up space so it’s off to the recycle bin you go. Still, amidst the litter of life, you find some things that you forget about. Here’s an essay I wrote decades ago hoping it would be published in Newsday, the paper of record for Long Island. P.S. I never sent it.

 

“8.09 acres at the southeast corner of Oxhead Road and Pembroke Drive from J-3 Business to D-1 Residential.”

That was the way the day started. One seemingly innocuous sentence, buried in a Newsday round-up of zoning changes.

But the two sentences stung me. The 8.09 acres at the southeast corner of Oxhead Road and Pembroke Drive were the most important acres of my childhood. They were the site of the Stony Brook Swim & Racquet club –the place where I spent six glorious and formative summers.

Somehow, I thought “the pool club” would survive forever. In a way it will, in the memories of hundreds of families who spent precious summers together in an idyllic spot on the north shore of Long Island.

Even though the pool club had been gone for years (the owner converted it into a summer camp), the grounds remained untouched. The club was pretty much the same as it had been during its glory days in the mid-70s. I had seen to that on my infrequent visits home. I always made sure to visit the club, park the car, and reminisce.

Oh, the 13 clay tennis courts were memories once the club closed. But the venerable paddle ball courts, the snack bar, gazebos and concrete kickball court all remained.

I knew every inch of that place—from the “Savodnik” tree named after my best friend’s family who loyally set up camp under it every summer, to the storage sheds deep in the woods where we would take our summer love interests to share that first kiss.

I knew where every family sat. The Mah Jongg players would sit underneath large umbrella’s shuffling tiles for hours and hours interrupted only by our anxious pleas for change so we could raid the snack bar for Charleston Chews and cold drinks.

Then there were the tennis players. They would sit poolside, sporting world class tans except for their feet. Their feet were white as the sand on the finest beaches. The mark of a serious tennis player was white feet. If you had them, it meant you were out on the court polishing your game; too busy to get a total tan. For six years my feet were as white as could be, covered by ankle socks as I wore out my Stan Smith Adidas shoes.

Over at the paddle ball courts were the middle age war horses with names like Murray, Stu and Herman.  They didn’t mess with tennis, preferring instead to duke it out on the paddle ball walls.

Paddle ball was a city game. We were in the burbs, but the tough men with the leathery skin could be found on the paddle ball courts. These guys were my favorites and I loved watching them risk life and limb diving on the hard concrete courts to “kill” a little black ball.

The paddle ball players were early heroes and I dreamt that someday I’d be good enough to compete with them. When that day came, it was much sadder than I thought. The old war horses were good, but we were younger and quicker. Somehow that made me sad.

Tennis was winning the hearts and minds of my little pool club world. It was the “tennis boom” of the 70s and people like Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg were bringing the country club game to the masses.

If you grew up on Long Island in those days, you played tennis.

As for me, I threw myself into the game with reckless ambition. I played about every waking hour.

And when I wasn’t at the club, I was out front of my Levitt house pounding the ball mercilessly against the garage door. I would do this until my mother opened the window and begged me to stop. I couldn’t get enough of the game. I woke up early, put my tennis clothes on and waited impatiently for my mom to get ready so we could go to “the club” and I could hit the courts.

Around this time, the pool club changed.

Tennis had its own caste system and status was measured by the type of racquet you used. A Dunlop Maxply and Arthur Ashe Head Competition were paths to instant popularity. These racquets exuded cool. They were, in a word, iconic.

When tennis kicked in, suddenly the four hard courts at the pool club weren’t enough. It was clay courts or bust.

When I look back—as much as I love tennis—the popularity of the sport hastened the death of the club.

The club’s owner decided to add 13 har-tru courts and to allow for separate pool and tennis memberships.

At first, the addition of the soft clay-like courts seemed to uplift the place. We were no longer a distant second to some of the posh country clubs in Setauket and Old Field. The not quite ready for white collar kids from the Levitt homes could match strokes with any blue blood this side of Poquott.

But the incision was made, and the distinction between “family swim club” and big-time tennis was uneasy.

Then it happened.

Suddenly, one summer, we were the oldest kids around. In fact, there were hardly any kids at all. The area was changing, getting older and younger at the same time. Moms were heading back to work, and a different lifestyle was taking root. There were different ways to spend the summer in my hometown.

When the reality hit us—that this would be the last summer at the club—we didn’t mourn.

When you’re 15, you live to move on. You never glance back. It’s only when you’re older that you realize how good you had it and how you wished you had savored it more.

So, we walked the grounds of the pool club that last Labor Day—every inch of the place recounting only that summer.

We did it every Labor Day and this would be no different, even though it would be the last time.

There was no talk of the grizzled paddleball players who left the summer before. Their time had passed, like a soft summer breeze.

Gone too were the pretty girls who used to walk from the pool to the snack bar. They started going to the beach and so we would we in our never-ending effort to find romance.

The Mah Jongg players traded their tiles for jobs, and we all went to the Mall.

I feel fortunate to have spent ages 8-15 at the club. I shared tennis with my dad, and we grew closer. I spent every day in the same place as my mom and my sister and that meant something. Even though we didn’t hang out, I knew they were there. We had a daily destination as a family.

I met three of my closest friends at the club, friends I’ve kept to this day.

And, quite possibly, I fell in love for the first time at the pool club (although the relationship was innocent and lasted a scant few weeks). Puppy love is a better word for it.

I feel sad that families don’t have a destination to go to everyday; a place to be together with other families. I always had a vision of myself staring through a ragged chain link fence, looking in at the club years from now— wife and kids tow— explaining that this was where it all happened. The beginning of an aborted tennis career, my first kiss, my first standoff with a bully. It would be fall, when I looked through the fence. The leaves would cover the faded kickball court. But it would all be there. The gazebo, the snack bar, even the Savodnik tree. All there so I could look back and remember.

Funny, how a zoning change can ruin your day.

 

Thanks for a Job Well Done

Retiring BPOA President Bob Victorin was presented with a beautiful painting by gifted local artist Ernie DeBlasi.

Last week, the Beach Property Owners Association honored outgoing president Bob Victorin for his lengthy and distinguished service to the 55-year-old civic association.

I was honored to say a few words of praise. In Bob’s case it was really easy because he’s terrific.

Here’s a snippet of my remarks. We wish Bob and his lovely wife Jan health and happiness in the years ahead.

“I was fortunate to work with the two Bobs, Mr. Victorin and Bob Sparvero during my tenure on the city commission. They were wonderful people to work with and together we navigated through some tricky terrain: several hurricanes, a comprehensive beach restoration project, design guidelines, a downtown master plan and my personal favorite —the great bike lane debate sparked by the redesign of A1A by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Through every issue, through every controversy, Bob Victorin exhibited remarkable leadership skills.

He was fact-based, kind, respectful and courteous. In a word, Bob Victorin is a gentleman.

That kind of leadership has almost gone out of style these days. But Bob’s style of leadership has been immensely effective. He has been a wonderful advocate for the BPOA, a passionate protector of the barrier island and an invaluable contributor to Delray Beach.

This organization has been remarkably successful because of leaders like Bob Victorin. Over the years, I got to know and work with Betty Matthews, Frank Boyar, Bernie Dahlem, Frank DeVine and Andy Katz.

Like Bob, they were strong leaders and wonderful diplomats. In Frank Devine’s case, he was actually a former Ambassador to El Salvador.

Bob followed in those footsteps and really helped the BPOA flourish in terms of membership and importance.

When residents expressed a desire to have design guidelines, the BPOA took the lead and created a template that was looked at by other neighborhoods in the city.

Bob was a participant in every citizen goal setting session we held while I was on the commission giving his time and energy to make sure we were taking the needs of the barrier island into consideration. He was a voice of reason as we worked with the state to redesign A1A, balancing the needs of businesses, bicyclists, and coastal homeowners.

My colleagues on the commission deeply admired and appreciated Bob. So did city staff. He’s a pleasure to work with and because he’s a pleasure to work with— he’s been incredibly effective.

I’m happy to say we’ve stayed in touch through the years. Elected officials like me, come and go, but Bob stayed on and happily remained a friend. We share a love of music (he once gave me a bunch of CD’s of his favorite songs that I still play)…. we share a love of community and we’ve enjoyed a cocktail or two through the years.

Bob you are a very special man, I also want to acknowledge your lovely wife Jan. As we both know, it would be impossible to spend this kind of time doing community work without the support of our loved ones.

Bob and Jan, Diane and I wish you the very best in the years to come. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

 

For Jimmy

James Steinhauser was a beloved friend and colleague.

I lost a friend last week and it hurts.

Jim Steinhauser was a month shy of his 89th birthday when he passed March 21 at Bethesda Hospital. We worked together off and on for more than a dozen years, brought together by the master of team building: Carl DeSantis.

We lost Carl in August.

Mr. DeSantis was a legendary entrepreneur and the magical person behind the success of two-multibillion-dollar businesses—Rexall Sundown and Celsius.

Jimmy was at Carl’s side for a big part of the ride. Both figuratively and literally.

 

Technically, Jimmy was Carl’s driver and all-around helper. But he was much more. Confidant, partner in adventures, researcher, social director, personal shopper, buddy.

Jimmy was front and center in every important meeting and was introduced often as a marketing executive.

He was consulted on everything, which was the Carl way. Mr. D was an inclusive leader and Jimmy was an eager participant and valued contributor.

 

Carl and Jimmy wandered the Delray/ Boca byways scouting out properties and hunting for opportunities. Those opportunities ran the gamut: billboard locations to promote Celsius and Tabanero Hot Sauce, where to buy comfortable shoes and, of course, the latest nutritional supplements.

Those two were something to behold; one minute they were saying how much they loved each other and the next they were bickering like an old couple. We thought they were endlessly entertaining because they were funny and underneath it all was loyalty, friendship, love, and affection. They were a pair.

 

In the evenings, Jimmy and Carl would visit their favorite restaurants where they would hold court, trade ideas, tell stories and plan the rest of their week. They were incredibly generous to wait staff and they knew everyone.

I loved being a fly on the wall for scores of these meetings. We laughed, arm wrestled and traded ideas and stories. We dreamed. Together.

 

We also took some trips: Vegas, New York City, and an arduous Poseidon like boat trip to the Bahamas.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas as they say.

As for that Bahamian voyage, let’s just say there were lots of prayers and texts to loved ones back home as we navigated waves that grow with every telling. We even dodged a plane and some crazy weather on our flight back home. As soon as we landed, the plane broke down. You can’t make it up.

 

Through it all, Jimmy was a constant.

Always there. Always reliable. Always quick with a joke and always able to share something with you that he just learned.

Now he’s gone. And the world feels a little different, a little emptier without him. That’s how it goes when you lose a friend.

 

I will note that Jimmy and I were opposites politically and we have different religions.

I mention that not because it was important to us (it wasn’t) but because we live in a time where people are being sorted and divided.

You stay with your kind, and I’ll stay with mine. You are supposed to fear me, and I’m told to fear you.

But none of that mattered with Jimmy. What we had in common and what we liked about each other was paramount.

 

We shared a love of America. We shared a love of New York.

He was from The Bronx like my parents were. He got a kick out of that connection.

We talked about sports, history and yes religion. He loved golf, listening to services on the radio and was proud of his Hyundai Genesis.

 

When Carl passed away seven months ago, Jimmy seemed lost.

He retired, but still came by the office in downtown Delray for brief but oh so sweet visits.

 

When we threw a retirement party for Jim and a beloved colleague he didn’t show. He wasn’t feeling well. We all worried about him.

 

When we visited him last week at Bethesda to say goodbye, he was wearing a BiPap mask. I recognized it immediately. It’s the same uncomfortable device I wore almost four years ago during my Covid battle. He was tired because it was hard to breathe, and that device is so darn hard to wear. Like putting a hurricane on your face. A hurricane that digs into your cheeks, ears, and the bridge of your nose. I could tell he didn’t like it.

 

But he lit up when he saw my two companions, wonderful women he worked with for over 20 years.

Jimmy loved these women. And they loved him back. This was the group that brought the word “family” to life in Carl’s family office. They looked out for each other. They are more than co-workers, they are family.

 

Carl was the catalyst who made this magic happen. We were blessed that he put us together. But nothing lasts forever. That’s a hard lesson to learn. But the finite nature of life makes its impermanence precious. We must strive to savor the moments.

We can always count on change. Death and taxes too.

But death does not end a relationship. The memories and the love endure.

 

Jimmy loved his CDS family, and we sure loved him.

As I write this, my mind is flooded with stories about this special man who was a constant for years—until today.

People get old, the song says.

People get old.

Love them while you can.

And if you have a chance to say goodbye make sure you do.

We told Jimmy that we loved him while we held his hand and looked into his eyes. We thanked him for his life, for his care and for the laughs. We told him that he was a good man who lived a good life.

And with one last squeeze of his hand, we left the room with faith that we will see him again.

 

Thanks Christina

The weekend also brought news that a Delray Beach staple, Christina’s in Pineapple Grove will be closing.

I’ve been a customer of Christina Betters for decades…back to the Gleason Street Cafe Days. She runs a great restaurant and Christina’s became a go-to place for countless breakfast meetings.  I miss her hospitality and her dog Vinny too.

We are watching a series called “The Bear” which is an inside look at restaurant life. I’m told by people in the business that the show is very realistic. Running a restaurant and having longevity in that industry is truly a remarkable feat. So we wish Christina the best and we wish her some rest as well.

Thank you for years of wonderful hospitality.

Here’s what Christina put on Facebook.

“As I close my doors for the final time, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of my loyal customers who have supported me throughout the years.

I will cherish the memories I have made and the friendships that have blossomed over the years.
I have enjoyed watching your children and their children coming to eat over the years.
All your dogs have brought happiness to me and other patrons.
Our time together may be coming to an end, the love and appreciation I have for each and every one of you will for ever remain in my heart.
Thank you so much for being a part of our story and making it a memorable one.
Love always and forever Christina and Vinny.”

It’s Time To Vote

Election Day is tomorrow, March 19.

Note: Today’s blog is a little bit different. I have a co-author for this one. Her name is Judy Mollica and she’s wonderful. Judy is the president of Friends of Delray and the host of their video series which I highly recommend you check out on Youtube. Just search Friends of Delray and you’ll find several interesting interviews with locals on a variety of topics. Here’s our thoughts on the Delray election, which is tomorrow. We hope you vote.

If you go the home page of Friends of Delray (www.friendsofdelray.us) you will find a few sentences that sum up who we are. Our reason for being.

“Friends of Delray is a diverse group of Delray Beach residents and supporters who have come together in the belief that our community thrives best when we work together to preserve our city’s unique sense of place and identity.”

We believe in community. We believe in collaboration and robust debate. We believe you can have both.

The next sentence on the site frames the challenge of living and working in Delray Beach in 2024.

“Our successes have created a quality of life many of us could not have imagined.  Yet success brings new challenges along with it.”

There’s no doubt that Delray Beach is a very special place. We have a rich history and many assets that other cities envy: a walkable and vibrant downtown, historic neighborhoods that ooze charm, a beautiful beach and an array of organizations and people who get up every day with the goal of making this a better place for all.

But those very assets have a flip side.

How do we manage a downtown that has become a regional attraction and keep its charm intact? How do ‘mom and pop’ businesses pay rents that in some cases exceed $100 a square foot?

How do we strengthen and protect historic neighborhoods? How do we create housing opportunities for families, young professionals, working people and our children who may want to come home after college to build a life?

Of course, there are more issues to address: sea level rise, the successful completion of projects funded by bonds approved last year, education and the future of Old School Square.

Very little, if any, of these subjects have been touched on during this election season. And that’s a shame. The voters deserve better.

Instead, we have seen an endless barrage of negativity about candidates and frankly about our hometown. If you didn’t know better, and just read what is being said via flyers and on social media, you would think that Delray Beach is a horrible, soulless place.

It’s not.

You would think it’s a mean place. It is not.

We talk about being a “village by the sea” and that is a wonderful, warm, and evocative description.

But we tend to talk about the vision of a village by the sea solely through the lens of development and change.

It hurts when our favorite places close or change hands (pun intended Hands was a 100-year staple downtown) and we believe that all development should be scrutinized to ensure that it fits in with our rules and design sensibilities. But we should also acknowledge that Delray has tough rules relative to height and density, especially compared with our neighbors. There is NO group even suggesting that we should raise the height limit downtown or anywhere else for that matter.

We will never be Miami or Fort Lauderdale. We will never be West Palm Beach or even Boynton Beach, which allows much bigger buildings than our city will ever entertain.

Still, everything begins and ends with the five people we elect to the commission. Get it right and good things happen. Get it wrong…. well you can figure it out. Either way, we must improve the tone of the town.

The fact that we are locked in a cycle marked by the politics of personal destruction ought to give us all pause. Because this becomes a spiral to the bottom.

Not only will good people not run for office, but they will also shy away from the process entirely which means serving on boards, volunteering for key non-profits etc. We would argue this is already happening. In fact, this is the very reason Friends of Delray was formed. We wanted to provide fact-based information on important issues. We wanted to bring in subject area experts to discuss issues and hopefully stimulate more conversation.

We are proud of what we have accomplished and know we must do more. But we are also dismayed by the toxic politics in our town.

We have seen PAC’s use racist dog whistles, employ homophobia and other fear mongering tactics to sway voters.

We are not advocating that we turn politics into some sort of genteel afternoon tea; that’s unrealistic.  So, if you are a bully, you should be called out for your behavior. If you have a past you should expect it to surface and if you have voted poorly or made mistakes you should be called to account. Issues are fair game.

Tough debate on the issues is needed, but we seem fixated on personalities, feuds, and tribal alliances. It’s not working.

This kind of politics isn’t village like. This kind of politics doesn’t address our needs and it won’t position us to seize opportunities or solve problems.

You Know It When You See It

 

In a few days, we’ll go to the polls to elect a mayor and two city commissioners.

It’s an important election because the balance of power on the commission is up for grabs.

For a long time now, elections in Delray Beach have been less about policy, ideas, and experience and more about personalities, innuendo, and misinformation.

This year is no different, and there’s an added element too: partisanship.

Our elections are officially non-partisan. I always thought that was a good thing. But this year, there’s a Republican presidential primary scheduled along side our municipal races. Two candidates are trying to leverage that quirk in the calendar thinking that more people will turn out to vote this year than for a typical city race which sadly always has abysmal turnout.

I’ve never understood why people don’t vote. Why would you disenfranchise yourself? Yet, typically as much as 90 percent of registered voters will stay home for a municipal election.

Even casual readers of this space know that I think local government is important to our quality of life. From taxes and public safety to the condition of our roads and the quality of our drinking water, local government matters. A lot.

Leadership drives progress and empowers professional city staff to be the best they can be.

If the right leadership shows up and works with and for the community, good things happen. If the wrong people occupy seats of power bad things happen.

If leadership (and I use that term loosely) thinks that it’s OK to squelch ideas, bully volunteers and fight each other, you are toast. Game over. Take your investment capital, passion for community service and civic pride and put it on ice until the climate changes. And the truth is it may not change for a while.

Success begets success but the corollary is also true. It’s hard to break losing streaks.

We have so much coming at us at all times. So much and so little at the same time.

Let me explain.

Life in 2024 is noisy—distractions, emails, phone calls, notifications, social media, and relentless marketing.

But so much of what we are served is devoid of nutritional value. It’s a lot noise, very little signal.

So, how do we distinguish leadership from spin?

Well, we can’t really.

We can’t really know what someone will be like in office until after they’re elected.

I think being elected is like signing up for an MRI, it reveals who you are. Your strengths and your weaknesses. All of us have both.

But there’s no hiding in public office, your essence will be revealed.

Which is why I admire most (but not all) of those who venture into the arena even if I disagree with their politics. It takes courage to put yourself out there and that’s admirable, unless of course you are an opportunist or some sort of chameleon who will do or say anything to get the job.

This cycle we have candidates promising to cut our taxes (without providing specifics) and promising to lower our property insurance rates (if only). You might as well tell me you will cure male pattern baldness and improve my backhand.

There is no honor in that kind of campaign.

So, in this noisy world it’s often good to go back to basics. Here are three things I  look for in a good leader.

  • Someone who is willing to show us who they truly are. If you have a view share it. If you have a life story that makes you uniquely qualified tell us about it. Don’t poll test your answers. Just talk to us. Show us who you are. Don’t tell us you are going to solve traffic, fight crime, stop development and cut taxes while increasing services—that’s pandering. Show me a plan. Lay out some ideas, tell me why you are uniquely qualified to lead.
  • Someone who sees us. Someone who genuinely cares about the community and tries to see and listen to all points of view. You may not have our lived experience but show us that you care to listen. I look for someone who has been in the trenches…not someone who shows up to take a photo and then disappears. And not someone who is brand new to the community or brand new to community involvement. Elected office is not an entry level job. It just isn’t. Pay your dues. Because if you just show up and ask to run the place, all I see is a big ego.
  • Someone who tells us where we’re going and why we need to make the trip. 

What’s your vision? What are your ideas? What do you see?  What excites you? What concerns you? Tell it to us straight.

Now ask yourself, are we getting any of this? At any level. If not, ask yourself why not.

We stand for what we tolerate. We can do better.

 

 

Photographs & Memories

The Boca Raon News circa 1981.

My friend Kerry gave me an old Boca News from 1981 recently.

The front page featured a story on Delray Beach Elementary School, lamenting its future because enrollment was beginning to shrink. “Rich Past, Uncertain Future” was the headline (pretty prescient since Delray Elementary became Old School Square).

Forty years ago, the population was heading west along with their school age kids and locals were openly fretting about what would happen to the old school at the corner of Atlantic and Swinton. They didn’t know yet that Frances Bourque was waiting in the wings.

A few pages in, there was a story about Delray’s interim city manager—a gentleman named Robert Fisk.

I had never heard of him, and I came to town only six years after the publication of this paper and threw myself into all things Delray. Mr. Fisk was leaving “the big city” of 34,000 to return to his wife Thelma in Palatka. Palatka was more Mr. Fisk’s speed but Delray’s complexities didn’t seem to phase him. He was described as “unflappable” by Mayor Leon Weekes, a trait that would be useful today.

There was a companion piece on Mr. Fisk’s successor, a City Manager named O. Sam Ackley—now that’s a name I would remember if I had heard it. But alas, I didn’t know him either.

Time passes.

We move on.

Yesterday’s prominent players become tomorrow’s trivia questions.

I did know of the civic leader who was on the front-page, Mr. Eugene Lynn. Mr. Lynn was given the first ever “Boca Raton Award.” He was described by Mayor Bill Konrad as “an absolute gem.” That’s a term you don’t hear much these days.

Mr. Lynn was honored by Donald Ross, the president of the College of Boca Raton.

The college would later be named Lynn University. I spent parts of two days last week on a zoom call with Mr. Lynn’s wife, Christine.  She chairs the board of the fabulous Lynn University. I am honored to serve as a board member.

Seeing the old paper and working with Mrs. Lynn reminds me of the ties that bind us—even with all the changes there are some threads of continuity to hold onto.

Changes…beginnings and endings and all the transitions in between.

I heard last week that several Bru’s Room restaurants are closing.  They’ve had a long run.

We used to take our four kids there on a regular basis—they liked the wings and the sports on the big screen TV’s.

We hadn’t gone in a long time. That’s how it goes sometimes.

Before Bru’s there was Atlantic Station, a pretty spot that opened when downtown was still struggling to gain traction.

Yes, there was a time when Atlantic Avenue and Pineapple Grove were dreams more than hot spots.

On a recent Friday night, I sat outside with my wife and close friend Scott Porten at Papas Tapas on Second Avenue. It was a beautiful cool night. We ate wonderful food and drank wine and San Gria. It felt good to be alive.

Pineapple Grove has become my favorite street. It’s lively without being overwhelming. The street has magnificent restaurants, two nice hotels and some nice shops.

Citywalk– built by my friend Scott— has aged well. The building looks good, the sculpture out front is elegant and my goodness Brule is terrific.

It’s hard to believe that it used to be a coin operated car wash.

I know change can be hard. But it can also be good.

The night before, my childhood friend (a different Scott and his stepson Jason) joined Diane and I for dinner and drinks at Bar 25 and Hawkers.

Bar 25 used to be Mellow Mushroom. I was on the City Commission when Mellow was approved. I was excited to see that restaurant take shape, with its murals and craft beer collection. Hawkers used to be Sonoma. That was a fine place as well.

But I sure like the replacements.

Things change. That’s the law I suppose.

People who were “all that” back in the day are forgotten, but a few are remembered too. For their good deeds, their ventures, their investments and personality traits.

Whenever I go to Pineapple Grove I think of Norm Radin, who dreamt up the concept of a funky district off the main drag,  And I think of my old friend Tom Fleming who devoted a chunk of his life to building that district alongside a dedicated group of volunteers.

I remember a rainy evening in 1999 or 2000 when the archway proclaiming Pineapple Grove was lit up for the first time. We celebrated the lighting with a large crowd that extended to Atlantic Avenue connecting the two streets and then a bunch of us went for drinks nearby.

Bob Currie, the legendary architect was there, so was Janet Onnen from Meisner Electric and a bunch of others.

We toasted Pineapple Grove and the future.

Bob passed a few years back and I haven’t seen Janet for years and years. Janet and Tim owned the property where Bru’s Room would open. It was cool having a former Miami Dolphin great, Bob Brudzinski, take a shot on little old Delray Beach. We weren’t an obvious choice back then. But we were on the move and smart people knew that something special was happening.

Those were some days. When “Delray was a warm hug” to quote my friend Susan.

A warm hug.

Don’t we need one of those.

If you think that’s hokey, if that sentence gave you a cavity because it’s too sweet, I get it. But if you were there you know what I mean. You know what a warm hug feels like.

You know what a village feels like.

It sure beats a pie in the face.

If you are like me, your mailboxes are filled with nasty grams from candidates deriding our city.

To me, they are missing the point. Missing it completely.

Things change.

People come and go.

Some leave their marks—like Mr. Lynn and people like Scott Porten who saw a coin operated car wash and had a vision to create a building for the ages.

And there were others who came and went like those city managers who ran our town for a brief period.

We are all here briefly if we really think about it.

Doesn’t it make sense to enjoy life while we have it? Doesn’t it make sense to sit out on a beautiful Florida night and enjoy tropical breezes— while we can— alongside loved ones?

To me, those evenings feel like a warm hug and more real than the claptrap filling my mailbox.

 

Farewell and thank you

Lt. Gray

Last week, Delray Beach Police Lt. Vinnie Gray retired after 30 years of service to our city.

Vinnie left a mark on Delray Beach. He was dedicated and outspoken. I enjoyed working with him when he was union president, and I was mayor.

We could always count on a frank exchange of ideas. Vinnie appreciated honesty and we were able to work out a lot of issues during his tenure that I believed strengthened our police department.

We solved a lot of things at the old Rotelli’s on the Avenue. We didn’t always agree, but we were always civil, always respectful of each other and we always found a way forward.

Along the way, we became friends. Not the kind that hang out, but the kind that you could count on if the chips were down.

Here’s what the department had to say upon Vinnie’s retirement.

“Throughout his career, Lt. Gray has been an embodiment of commitment, hard work, and integrity. From his early days at Ocean Ridge Police Department to his legacy at Delray Beach Police Department, he has left an indelible mark on our community.

Lt. Gray’s contributions have been invaluable, serving in various roles and demonstrating unwavering dedication to keeping our streets safe. As he embarks on this new chapter of his life, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for his service and wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement. Lt. Gray, may this next journey be filled with joy, relaxation, and endless adventures!”
Bon Voyage Vinnie. Here’s to the next chapter!

 

Celsius enters rarefied air

Last week, Celsius—the beverage company born in Delray and soaring in Boca—hit a major milestone surpassing one billion dollars in annual sales.

Actually, the company racked up $1.3 billion plus in sales, up 102 percent over last year’s numbers.

It’s an astonishing feat. Truly astonishing.

I’ve been blessed to have had a bird’s eye view of the company. I was there almost at the very beginning when the company had a dozen employees on 4th Avenue in Delray.

Local entrepreneur Carl DeSantis got involved because he saw the potential and he recruited me and others to the cause. It was a long, slow and at times painful ride full of twists and turns. I think it’s a book or a case study because Celsius was left for dead a few times—unprofitable, delisted from NASDAQ (where the stock is now a darling), gaining and losing distribution. Through it all my friend Carl never lost faith. Celsius has many, many heroes but none bigger than Carl whose belief and major investment kept the company afloat financially and spiritually.

I had the pleasure of working side by side with Carl for close to 15 years before he passed in August. He taught me and everyone in his orbit the power of belief, the spirit of entrepreneurship and why it was important to brush off the punches and pursue your dreams. Carl dreamt big dreams—and he had the courage to pursue them. Working with him (never for him) has been the highlight of my career and I carry his lessons with me every single day.

Celsius has been blessed with some amazing leadership and talent and they have done miraculous things in a highly competitive space. Today, Celsius is the best selling energy drink on Amazon and the number three energy drink overall. I believe it will be number one, and the growth metrics back me up in that belief.

When the numbers were released last week and the stock soared, I couldn’t help but wonder what my friend Carl would say. Somehow, I know he knows.

I went back to my archives to read some of the emails I got from Carl after he recruited me to work as COO of Celsius in those early days.

I found this gem from 2008, when sales were in the low six figures and there were no major customers—yet.

“I think you signed on to a POTENTIAL MAJOR WINNER..I know I did. I’m not in this for “Cracker Jack” prizes.. Time is NEVER on our side…luv ya, Carl.”

Isn’t that how an entrepreneur thinks?! Swing for the fences, believe with your whole heart and have a sense of urgency.

The dream came true, Carl. Thanks to your unwavering belief.

No News Is Bad News

This paper looks interesting.

Local news is endangered nationwide.

That’s not good news.

Democracy really does die in darkness.

According to a recent report on the state of local news, there are 204 counties in America with no news outlets and 1,562 counties with only one.

The Local News Initiative at Northwestern University reports that 2,900 plus dailies and weeklies have failed since 2005, including 130 in 2023.

Technically, we don’t live in a news desert, but our news diet is full of empty calories.

We have two daily newspapers that are shells of what they once were, and with all due respect to my friends in local TV News, they cover “big” and “visual” stories. They don’t cover the nuts and bolts of cities, the stuff you need to know.

What’s filled the vacuum are anonymous emails, social media posts (that are often way off base) and well-meaning citizen journalists who try, but often fall short for lack of time, reach and resources.

When I moved to South Florida in 1987, the Boca-Delray area enjoyed wall to wall coverage. We had three daily newspapers (the Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post and Boca News and on big stories the Miami Herald would come to town), the twice weekly Monday Thursday Papers, a few local magazines, a handful of local radio stations (with actual news departments) and three TV stations.

You had to work hard to be uninformed in those days. Reporters were part of the community; we knew our beat reporters and they were often with us for years.

It wasn’t uncommon to see editors at City Hall watching meetings and trying to get the small details right to make their stories better. Today, editors sit in some remote newsroom (or in their living rooms) and my guess is many wouldn’t know Atlantic Avenue from Atlantic Boulevard. Ugh!

If you want to see how out of touch they are, read their political endorsements—utterly clueless. Check that, embarrassingly clueless. I mean pull your hair out, scream at the moon, pinch yourself to see if your hallucinating clueless.

I digress.

Sadly, the internet ate newspapers.

Local journalism is a casualty of technology and frankly some bad decisions by corporate actors who killed papers by the thousands.

Newspapers caused some of their own struggles.  Many failed to invest in their newsrooms and the industry missed the boat on how tech would devastate their bottom lines. Craig’s List and eBay destroyed classified ads, Zillow and the like took away real estate ads and Google took the rest.

Yet, we need journalism.

The loss of local newspapers means we know less about the places where we live and the people who serve us. I believe we’ve lost a great deal of civic engagement because we’ve lost newspapers and because we’ve ceded the public square to those who yell the loudest or those who have an agenda.

Yes, the very notion of community is at risk as we sink into our phones. I was a young reporter in a Delray Beach where reporters competed for scoops, fresh angles and what we called “enterprise” stories that were a little more in-depth than taking dictation at some commission meeting.

I’d like to think the community was better informed and more engaged as a result. More people voted, more people volunteered, and more people turned up at city sponsored charettes. (Remember those?) And if you must look up the word, it’s because we haven’t had a gathering of the community to share ideas in a long time.

We were also building back then, downtown needed CPR, neighborhoods were plagued by crime, there was a sense of urgency to breathe life into the city and to attract investment. These days we wrestle with success. (P.S. I’d much rather manage success than deal with a crack cocaine epidemic.)

So, when I hear candidates vow to solve traffic downtown or complain about leaf blowers, I scratch my head. We worked 25 years to put traffic on Atlantic Avenue. And the only leaves blowing were tumble weeds down our main street.

Want to solve traffic? It’s easy, create places nobody wants to visit.

For the rest of us, if you want to avoid traffic downtown, please use the grid system. Delray has wonderful “bones”—as a result I can zip around town by using the grid. I use Atlantic when I want to see what’s going on. It’s a great street my friends, but if I have get somewhere quick I use our wonderful grid.

But let’s get back to local journalism.

Regardless of where you are in your city’s lifecycle journalism is important. Accurate Information is valuable currency.

So, is there hope? If so, where?

I have some optimism in a nascent effort called “Stet Media.”

“Stet” is an old copy-editing term, lost on a generation of young journalists but the term brings a smile to this former reporter. Stet Media Group provides local news coverage in Palm Beach County.

From their website https://www.stetnews.org/ “ Yep. We’re different.

 

We don’t chase the story of the day. No car wrecks. No clickbait. (OK, we’ll tell you when a Cheesecake Factory is opening. Because: cheesecake.)

 

Our passion is public interest journalism. That means the stories we write, how we engage with readers and the events we hold are all guided by one question: How are we serving the community?

 

In town after town, news has gone dark in Palm Beach County. There are plenty of hardworking reporters, but years of cutbacks have narrowed reporting to fewer topics and fewer towns. Bloggers and smaller news organizations are doing great work, but too many are flying below the radar.

That’s where we come in. We’re writing stories others aren’t. We emphasize context, not just news. We’ll share important documents. We’ll highlight compelling stories from other reporters and show you where you can read more of them.”

Music to my ears.

Stet just celebrated its one-year anniversary.

I wish them well. Their reporting is stellar. There’s talent at work here.

They tend to be West Palm/North County focused but maybe as they grow they’ll dedicate some resources to Boca-Delray–we sure have our share of news and misinformation.

 

 

More Of The Good Stuff

I found the sweatshirt on Amazon. Didn’t order it, but will try the words on instead.

During a recent weekend trip to New Smyrna Beach I saw a guy wearing an interesting t-shirt.

Using my trusty iPhone I discreetly took a picture so I could decipher the treatise he displayed on his shirt.
Here’s what it said:

More Music. More Love.

More Sunsets. More Kindness.

More Road Trips. More Hugs.

More Fun. More Peace.

More Wandering. More Art.

More Laughs. More Dreaming.

More Adventures. More Happiness.

More Concerts. More Smiles.

More Freedom. More Creativity.

More Movie Nights. More Life.

I can’t argue with a single word. 

I didn’t see what the back of his shirt said but maybe it was a companion list of what he’d like to see less of. 

That list could be endless. But that “more” list… well that’s kind of special. I can’t stop thinking about it. 

Recently a friend told me about the four pillars of life: work, family, love and spirituality. Build all four pillars and you’ll find fulfillment. 

I can’t argue with that. But I do think life is a journey not a destination and your work continues until you can work no more. 

Anyway, I think I will keep the t shirt list nearby and use it as a guide. 

Last week, as I perused the news I became momentarily overwhelmed: Ukraine, inflation, lawsuits , predictions of a depression in the 2030s and Russia getting some crazy weapon we don’t have an answer for yet. It can drag a person down. It can make you want to cut that t shirt up and chuck it all. 

Not me. I’m not going down that path. 

So I did when I usually do when I’m feeling on the brink, I hugged my wife and lost myself in some music. 

“Late Night Willie Nelson” popped up in my Spotify feed. Yes! A brand new Willie album that features the amazing Norah Jones and Wynton Marsalis. 

And I thought how lucky are we to be alive right now. 

If it all ends tomorrow–and I don’t think it will– we will have been around to listen to The Beatles, we heard Joni Mitchell sing and listened to lyrics by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon. 

We got to see Patrick Mahomes play QB, Roger Federer glide around a court and Michael Jordan soar through the air. 

We got to go to the movies and watch Brando command the screen and we got to see the most perfect romantic comedy ever: “When Harry Met Sally.”

We see people cured of cancer who were once sentenced to die and we see foster children find permanent homes because of our own 4Kids of South Florida. I can go on and on. What a wonderful life. 

The same day I saw the t shirt, I stood on a beach at night with my wife and her family. My family.  I adore these people.  I listened as my brother in law Paul pointed his phone toward the heavens and opened an app that told us what constellations we were looking at. I marveled. 

Such a night. It’s such a night. 

Sweet confusion under the moonlight.

As I write this I am listening to Willie Nelson sing Stardust. Friends, it doesn’t get better than this. 

So let’s add more stargazing and more Willie to that t shirt list. 

More gratitude too. 

Reunions

Remembering our time in Oz while enjoying Elisabetta’s.

Recently, I reunited with three guys I went to college with at Suny Oswego.

I hadn’t seen two of the guys for 38 years—ever since we left the shores of Lake Ontario to embark on this mystery ride, we call life.

We managed to stay in touch via Facebook.  I watched their lives unfold on social media. Birthdays, trips, graduations. It’s fun to keep tabs.

But seeing each other in person was special.

We met at Elisabetta’s on Atlantic Avenue, and we wore Oswego State baseball hats to mark the occasion.

The hats served as a calling card, and we had at least six people come to the table to present their SUNY bonafides. This one went to Cortland, another one went to Oneonta, and one had a friend who went to Oswego. It was fun to compare notes.

Seeing people after 38 years apart is an interesting experience. Last time, I saw Joe and David, their entire lives were ahead of them. Last time I saw Stu was 10-12 years ago when we met at Brule in Pineapple Grove for a beer.

I’m proud to report that everyone did well in life and love. They are successful professionals with happy marriages and kids who are doing very well. I found myself taking pride in these guys—I had seen them when they were young and wild. And we shared those stories, filling in details that one or more of us forgot. It was fun to relive those days—pre-cell phone, one computer on the floor of the dorm, when Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Bruce Springsteen ruled the radio.

We spent our nights at the Tavern and on Bridge Street and quite honestly, I don’t remember talking much about the future. We were living in the moment, careening from good time to good time. It was a special time in life.

Anyway, we vowed not to wait another 38 years to get together (the odds aren’t that good for us to make it) and I certainly encourage you to reconnect with old friends. It was a very memorable evening and I must say these guys loved the Avenue, which also made me feel good.  I went home at 9:30. They were just getting started.

Embracing The Oops

A good quote stops you dead in your tracks and makes you think.

I ran into two quotes recently that did just that.

“A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams.” – Herb Caen, legendary San Francisco based columnist.

“Better an oops, than a what if” – author unknown.

I like them both and they go together.

If you are going to have a broad vision and big dreams, you are going to have to take some risks. And with risks come the inevitable “oops.”

Those that make a dent in our world risk the “oops” because they fear regrets more than they worry about mistakes. We need these kinds of people in our world. They are the ones who move the mountains, and we need those mountains to move.

I’ve been thinking about vision, dreams and risk a lot lately.

We are a little more than a month away from another big election in Delray Beach. In March, we will have a new mayor. That job means a lot, even if we have a “weak” mayor form of government. City Managers run the day to day—and obviously that’s important. We need our toilets to flush, our roads to be free of potholes and our taxes to be spent efficiently.

But mayors and commissioners are important too. They provide leadership, set policy and if they are good, they are stewards (and sometimes architects) of a city’s future.

A good mayor can move mountains. I’ve been watching mayors in this town since I arrived here way back in 1987, when this was a very different town.

I’ve seen good mayors and frankly I’ve seen awful ones too. The good ones make a difference, they leave legacies. The bad ones leave scars—opportunities lost, dreams dashed, investments and human capital chased away.

Leaders come in all styles.

Some are quiet, some are charismatic. But in my mind, the good ones have courage and pride themselves in being servant leaders. They work for the people, too often we get that equation all wrong. They are kind but willing to make tough decisions. They can bring their neighbors together and they also have the fortitude to look them in the eye and say what needs to be said.

I write this during yet another ugly election season.  Last week, I spent an hour of my life watching a video produced by the Sun-Sentinel in which they “screened” candidates running for Seat 1 on the commission, that happens to be my old seat.

It was an ugly affair.

It wasn’t illuminating but it was telling.

I saw anger, accusations, ego and “gotcha” questions, I did not hear any discussion of ideas, solutions, or dreams of what this town can be.

That’s the good stuff folks.

We need more signal and less noise. We’ve lost that on the national level years ago and I fear we are in peril of losing our nation as a result. We are less about delivering results for people and more about ensuring that our enemies fail. It’s ruinous and it makes me angry. We the people deserve better. Our children and grandchildren will suffer. History will not be kind.

Locally, we used to be oasis from that nonsense. We are no longer. And that’s why it is becoming harder and harder to find people willing to run and expose themselves to a toxic stew.

We can do better. But we don’t.

I’m what they call a super voter. That means I get a lot of campaign mail.

It’s often a steady dose of misinformation, innuendo, and pandering. We hear about “overdevelopment” but nobody defines it—do we think a four story building is too tall, do we pretend there’s no property rights or even more important— a need to create housing or expand the tax base?

Where are teachers, cops, nurses, firefighters, and those who work in service industries supposed to live? “Who cares” is not the answer. If you are in the boat, please don’t pull up the ladder, let’s responsibly make room for those who drive our economy.

Let’s welcome them to our community, let’s give our children a chance to come back here to live, work, play and serve our town.

Candidates vow to tackle traffic, taxes, and crime but I don’t see detailed plans to do any of those things. My hunch is they don’t have a plan other than to pander to your fears and get your vote. Last week, I got a mailer from a candidate promising to lower my homeowner’s insurance rates? Really?! Give me some details, I’m all ears.

The media doesn’t do anyone a favor by majoring in the minor. How about some questions about sea level rise, the housing crisis, the fact that Old School Square is still an unresolved mess/opportunity. What’s your vision for economic development? What’s your vision for the arts and culture in Delray Beach?

What skills do you bring to the dance? Because if you are elected, your job is to drive positive change not sit up there and bicker, harass staff and punt on important decisions.

In the interest of transparency, I am supporting Ryan Boylston for mayor and Jim Chard and Nick Coppola for City Commission.

Ryan is a hard-working commissioner, he’s aspirational and we need aspiration—desperately. Nick is a kind man. He connects with people. He chairs our code enforcement board and is VP of the Sherwood Park Homeowners Association. He’s involved in several local non-profits as well.

Jim has worked harder than just anybody in town over the past two decades on a vast array of issues. He’s smart, kind, and knowledgeable.

I’ve spent time with all three candidates over the years, they are community builders. They aspire.

None of them have all the answers, nobody does. The two best mayors I’ve seen here or anywhere else were smart, honest, and courageous people. Their names were Tom Lynch and David Schmidt. I covered Tom when I was a reporter, and he became a friend and mentor. I sat next to Dave for a few years on the Commission before succeeding him when he termed out. He taught me and others by example. Dave handled every issue with grace and humility. He empowered people. He was quiet but resolute.

Tom and David’s greatness stemmed from their inclusiveness—they listened to their fellow commissioners, they worked well with staff, and they listened to the community. They made sure we had goals and strategic plans that involved all the stakeholders in Delray. They didn’t divide, they didn’t pander either. They were willing to risk their seats—they embraced the ‘oops’, because they believed in the what ifs.

 Note:

We got an email last week letting us know that Rev. Juanita Bryant Goode has resigned from CROS Ministries.

Juanita is a friend and has been a wonderful community servant. She is embarking on another chapter where she will work directly with people during challenging times of illness and hospice care.

Juanita has a huge heart and for nearly three decades she served CROS Ministries in a wide variety of capacities including overseeing the Delray Beach Pantry and The Caring Kitchen Program.

She will be missed. Thanks my friend, for all you have done and all you will do.