Events and Things to Do in Delray Beach and Boca Raton

Boca Raton and Delray Beach are among the most vibrant communities you’ll ever find.

Both cities feature a vast array of events year-round that are sure to interest people of all ages and interests. From arts festivals and music events to a vibrant food scene and cultural landscape Boca-Delray has it all.

At we strive to curate the best events and give you insider’s tips to make your experience the best it can be.

Still Dreaming….

Note: Today is a somber day of reflection and remembrance. 9/11 is seared in the minds of those who lived through it, and we honor those who lost loved ones in the attack. Last night “60 Minutes” devoted the entire show to the Fire Department of New York’s experience during and after 9/11. It’s a touching and important piece of journalism and I wish all Americans would watch. In these divided times, we need to be reminded of what unites us as a nation. The heroism shown by the brave men and women of FDNY will never be forgotten. Nor will the 343 firefighters who lost their lives trying to save others on that awful day. One of them was my childhood friend Mike Boyle, who was off that day, but rushed in to help and was never seen again. I think about Mike often. And I think about that day too. We must never forget.

On August 26, thousands flocked to the National Mall to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.

The same day, 700 miles away, three Black people were killed in Jacksonville for being Black.

Sometimes irony can be painful. Sometimes it can be lethal.

Angela Carr, 52, was shot dead in her car in the parking lot of a Dollar General Store. A.J. Laguerre, 19, who worked at the store, was shot dead trying to get away from the gunman. Jerrald Gallion, 29, was murdered when he walked into the store unaware of what was happening.

You don’t expect to go to a Dollar General Store and run into a white supremacist wearing a tactical vest with a swastika painted on his rifle. Or maybe we should, based on the frequency of violence we’re experiencing these days…and if that’s so what’s going on here? For goodness sakes, what’s going on?

There are no words that can adequately describe this kind of horror; thoughts and prayers—while welcome—are not enough.

The hate driven murders in Jacksonville—on a day when Americans should have been celebrating MLK’s landmark “I Have A Dream Speech”—brings into stark relief the challenges we face as a nation.

The latest murders are not an aberration.

It comes after 10 Black shoppers were murdered in a Buffalo supermarket in 2022. It follows the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery who was killed for the ‘crime’ of jogging through a neighborhood that three assailants believed he had no business being in.

In 2015, 9 Black worshipers were viciously slaughtered at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. And it comes after 11 Jewish worshipers were executed in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Yes, we’ve made progress toward MLK’s dream. We have much to be proud of, but we still have a long way to go. A very, very long way to go.

I believe that we will not get to the promised land unless and until we acknowledge and confront our history and our present.

But in Florida— with culture wars raging over curriculum and what can and cannot be taught—we’re not doing that.

We are not alone. America itself seems stuck in a cycle of recrimination and denial.

We have just experienced the hottest July and the hottest August in history. Every other week, we seem to have a cataclysmic natural disaster that costs lives and billions in damages, yet we argue over whether climate change exists and whether we ought to do something about it.

We argue over whether we have too much regulation or too little but because we have underinvested in just about everything, we are scrambling to catch up and tech bro’s such as Elon Musk begin acting like nation states not entrepreneurs.

Did you know that Musk’s Starlink internet technology is assisting Ukrainian troops in their uphill battle against a murderous dictator who has decided to wipe out a nation? That part is good, but according to an investigative piece in The New Yorker, Musk may or may not be communicating with Vladimir Putin (he denies it, others claim he has told them differently). Regardless, one man can decide with the flick of a switch to change the course of a war. We have ceded this kind of power to private players because we have underinvested in technology, infrastructure, semiconductors, public health, and a whole range of other things.

I’m all for entrepreneurship, capitalism, the free market, and private industry, but because we have willfully neglected the public sphere, we better be prepared that some of these actors may not have the best interests of “we the people” in mind.

“There is only one thing worse than a government monopoly. And that is a private monopoly that the government is dependent on,” says Jim Bridenstine, a former Republican Congressman and former NASA Administrator who is concerned that his former agency is too dependent on SpaceX, the Musk company that has commercialized Starlink.

Like most challenges, the solutions boil down to leadership and whether people commit to a better future.

So, let’s come back to that Dollar General store in Jacksonville and the images of those lost souls who sadly, will soon be forgotten by all but their loved ones.

I do not know what it means to be a Black person in America. But I do have decades of experience as a Jewish person. I have seen and experienced antisemitism and frankly I fear it. Just this past weekend, I watched video of Neo-Nazis chanting vile slogans in front of Disney World. The video made me nauseous.

I understand that hatred—whether racial, religious, cultural, or based on sexual preference or gender—diminishes us. Hatred is violent. It’s dangerous. It threatens our communities, nation, and world.

The task of addressing this level of malevolence is daunting, but we must try. But it’s the subtler forms of prejudice that hurt too. I still remember a young woman who wouldn’t go out with me because her mother did not want her daughter dating a Jew: (we were 14). And I remember being warned by certain “pillars” in my town to stop stirring the pot when I pursued a race relations initiative in Delray back in the day. I got over the girl and we pushed forward with race relations– which was the right thing to do— even if it was a modest effort and didn’t last as we intended….

Obviously, my experiences pale in comparison to being gunned down by a white supremacist. I wrestled with whether I should even share it because there is no equivalency. I can drive anywhere I wish without being stopped or reported. I go through my day blending in. Or at least I think I do. Those images from Orlando give me pause. Still,  I have friends who can never just… be.

The Dream that Dr. King spoke about 60 years ago was of a color-blind society.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

In the aftermath of tragedies like Jacksonville and Buffalo, we must make some sober assessments about where we are as a society.

There’s a sense of foreboding in America these days; a feeling that at any moment something awful can be triggered.

How did we get to this place?

This place where everything from sports and music to elections and science have become so polarized.

How do we find our way toward a more perfect union?

In my admittedly idealistic, somewhat limited view, we must figure out a way to work together again. We cannot solve the challenges of our time, nor seize the opportunities either, unless we work together. We have to empower and elevate voices who understand that even though we have different stories, experiences and world views we do hold some common aspirations, namely a better future for our children and grandchildren.

We must elevate and celebrate decency and we must confront those who seek to divide, destroy and demolish.

And we need to raise up a better caliber of leader.

Recently, Adam Grant, a renowned business school professor at Wharton, put forth an idea to hold a lottery to select our Congress. The article was provocative, and it was borne out of frustration with a body that does little but bicker, bully and brutalize each other. As I write this, the fools on the hill are threatening once again to default on the debt and crash the world economy. It’s shameful. We stand for what we tolerate.

The title of Professor Grant’s guest essay in the New York Times was “The Worst People Run for Office. It’s Time for a Better Way.”

Indeed. It’s past time.

Hatred is not winning. It’s not.

There is still more love in this world than hate. But hate is putting points on the board, it’s gaining ground and bearing down on us.

We need to demand more of our leaders and more of each other.


Odds & Ends

There’s something awfully special about Delray’s Coco Gauff. She has that “it” factor, this feeling that she’s destined for greatness.

Coco took a giant step toward that destiny with a magical U.S. Open which culminated with her first Grand Slam title at the age of 19.

All you can say is wow.

Coco’s game is impressive, she moves beautifully and hits the ball with authority from both wings. But that’s not what’s unusual about her. There are many players who hit hard and can cover the court. What distinguishes Coco is her ability to dig deep at key points in matches. She plays better under pressure and doesn’t seem to be rattled by expectations, crowds, and the weight of playing big matches under the grind of high expectations. She’s poised, charismatic, cool and determined, a champion.

While much has been written about the influence of her excellent new coach Brad Gilbert, don’t underestimate the importance of Coco’s family. Her grandparents Eddie and Yvonne are local heroes. Her parents are terrific too.

While she’s destined for tennis greatness, she’s positive influence off the court. Coco is a leader in a world that craves leadership. She will transcend the game. What a proud moment for Delray Beach and America.

Mardi Gras

We send heartfelt congratulations to Nancy Stewart-Franczak and our friends at Festival Management Group for being chosen to produce downtown West Palm Beach’s inaugural Mardi Gras event set for Feb. 17.

The Mardi Gras will feature a myriad of activities, including live performances and culinary delights inspired by the sounds and flavors of New Orleans. Attendees can expect to immerse themselves in the enchanting world of Mardi Gras, complete with flamboyant costumes, lively music, and an electric atmosphere that will ignite the streets of West Palm Beach.

And FMG is the group that can pull this all off. This is the same amazing group that produces Garlic Fest, Delray Affair, Lagoon Fest and more.

I’m a huge fan of Nancy and it has been a joy to watch her grow and thrive in a tough, tough industry. Through it all, Nancy has been a champ. She’s tough, tender, kind and passionate about building community. In other words, my kinda gal! Here’s to many more years of producing fun.



Here’s To The Civic Entrepreneurs

Civic entrepreneurs have joined together on a vision for The Set neighborhood.

Last week’s column on entrepreneurship seemed to strike a chord.

I heard from readers who shared their youthful entrepreneurial adventures and others who either built, are building or thinking of starting a business.
Thanks for the feedback, it’s always fun and helpful to hear from you.
Writing about the energy drink business also got me thinking about the concept of civic entrepreneurship and my strong belief that you can bring the entrepreneurial mindset to government.
In fact, I’d argue that every one of our societal challenges would benefit from a little ingenuity, the kind that our best entrepreneurs bring to the job every day.
And I’d also argue that our discontent over problems going unsolved is because often government (on all levels) play defense instead of offense.
This is understandable given the public nature of the roles. When Mayors and city managers fail—they do so publicly with all the ramifications that entails—bad press, social media trolls hammering away at your reputation and the prospect of losing the next election or being publicly fired.
Private sector entrepreneurs struggle and fail privately—unless they are high profile people to start with.
But in the public sector, there is no hiding.
I made plenty of mistakes during my seven years as an elected official. I was told by a mentor that the best you can do is vote your conscience with the information you have at the time they call the roll.
Oftentimes, hindsight is 20/20 but hopefully you learn and don’t repeat mistakes.
When I served as mayor, I told our excellent staff to think of themselves as civic entrepreneurs—I wanted them to share their ideas and expertise. We made our own decisions, but we needed and respected the staff’s input before the vote. I think that’s why staff exists; to share their knowledge of urban planning, municipal finance, engineering, public safety and redevelopment.
If input is neither sought nor desired, staff becomes paper pushers and we end up with the type of bureaucracy we loathe—soulless, devoid of passion, a slave to the way it’s always been done.
Because it’s safe.
In the private sector if you don’t make decisions you miss opportunities. I’ve learned (the hard way) that time is not your friend. But in government, sadly, kicking the can down the road is often the way to keep your job.
In order to foster an environment of civic entrepreneurship, leaders need to convey a clear vision and then empower their teammates to move that vision forward. It’s counter intuitive, but you must be free to make mistakes so that you can learn as an organization.
We used to tell staff, it’s Ok to try something. We aren’t on the dais signing death warrants, most mistakes are not fatal, and we might learn something even if things don’t work out as planned.
Scared bureaucracies seize up, empowered bureaucracies innovate.
And my friends we need innovation-at all levels.
It starts with leaders and a society willing to stop playing “gotcha” and start rewarding those willing to try some new approaches to the challenges and opportunities facing us.
The cities that become special are entrepreneurial. They empower and support civic entrepreneurs.
When I think of Delray, I can’t help but appreciate the various civic entrepreneurs who have impacted our landscape and the quality of our lives.
Frances Bourque changed the game when she dreamt up Old School Square infusing culture and a sense of community into a town that was struggling at the time.
A few blocks west, Vera Farrington conceived of the S.D. Spady Museum and now we have a museum that tells the story of African Americans in our city. It’s a rich history and now it’s preserved.
I am also pleased to see the creation of The Set, which is a strong brand and sense of identity for the neighborhood west of Swinton that extends to I-95. That brand was created by civic entrepreneurs.  You can feel the pride of place when those engaged citizens talk about The Set. That kind of pride and passion can move mountains.
Nancy Stewart-Franczak is another special civic entrepreneur who brought events to Delray Beach that helped build our community’s reputation while growing the economy.
Nancy is creative, hard working and passionate about Delray. She has made a lasting contribution.
I can go on, but let’s just say that civic entrepreneurs build communities. They invest, they create and they build.
When they arrive in your town, embrace them, encourage them, work with them.
If you’re a leader, they will make you look good. The formula for political success is easy; work with the doers and the dreamers. Support and nurture them. Dream alongside them.
Don’t chase them away. Help them shine and watch your city thrive.

Honoring A Special Friendship By Seeding The Future

Carl DeSantis and Jerry Kay in NYC circa 2018.

Longtime friendships are magical.

They feed our souls and enrich our lives. And sometimes, when they are really special, they enrich the lives of others.

When I see old friends, my mind instantly scans the years. I can still picture my buddies as young men, with everything in front of them. Of course, we are now 40 and 50 years older, so the “boys” are well into middle age or dare I say it: old age.  As my friend Scott reminds us: how many 116 year-olds do you know?

He’s right, but we aren’t old—yet. Hopefully, we will get there. Together.

Regardless, as we age, I can still see the boy in every face. I know their laughs; I know their voices and their expressions. I still see the 8-year-old and the 18-year-old when I talk to the 58-year-old.

It’s oddly comforting.

Once again, old friends are top of mind.

Recently, the foundation I’m involved with—the Carl Angus DeSantis Foundation—honored a special friendship between our namesake and his best friend Jerry Kay, who passed away suddenly in March.

Below is the story.

It’s a good one and I wanted to share it because friendship is one of life’s biggest blessings.

Many of us at CDS International Holdings—where I work—got to witness the chemistry between Carl and Jerry. We relished hearing the stories of long-ago adventures and we happily tagged along as these two gentlemen—who are gentle men—made new memories.

Please enjoy, and if you are so inclined, call an old friend. We never know how long we have left.


Entrepreneur Carl DeSantis’s gift pays tribute to the legacy of his lifelong friend and business partner E. Gerald “Jerry” Kay.


By Debbie Meyers


Carl DeSantis began his entrepreneurial journey in the 1970s by running his home-based, mail order vitamin and herbal supplement company out of his garage in Florida. Meanwhile, up in New Jersey, after years of working with his father in the nutrition industry, E. Gerald “Jerry” Kay became the sole owner of Manhattan Drug Company.


When DeSantis and Kay met, they had an immediate connection. DeSantis’s spark and drive moved Kay to invest in him. DeSantis’s business flourished to become Rexall Sundown, one of the world’s largest vitamin manufacturers, which DeSantis sold in 2000. Kay’s enterprise also experienced growth as he founded Integrated BioPharma, a company which manufactures, distributes, and sells vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products.


Kay died in March 2023, weeks before his 87th birthday. To honor his lifelong friend and supporter’s memory, DeSantis’s foundation has given $1.25 million to establish an endowed scholarship in Kay’s name for students enrolled in a Rutgers nutrition program.


“Since Mr. Kay was a pioneer in the nutritional field, we thought it made sense to support the next generation of leaders in that space,” says Jeff Perlman, a director of the Carl Angus DeSantis Foundation. “We researched several programs and were deeply impressed by Rutgers. Since Mr. Kay lived and worked in New Jersey, choosing Rutgers felt right. It’s a wonderful university.”


Laura Lawson, executive dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, says the scholarship will benefit students in the school’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, which is ranked tenth nationally for undergraduate and master’s programs in nutrition. “We are honored that the Carl Angus DeSantis Foundation has chosen to memorialize Mr. Kay’s memory through the E. Gerald Kay Scholarship in support of nutritional sciences students,” Lawson says. “This scholarship will help to ease our students’ financial burdens and allow them to develop careers that will support the common good, improving health locally and globally.”


In addition to undergraduate students majoring in the nutritional sciences program, of which there are 150, any undergraduate studying nutrition at Rutgers will be eligible for the scholarship. This includes students in the School of Public Health and the School of Health Professions.


Perlman says the DeSantis Foundation created this scholarship as homage to Kay, someone who gave DeSantis years of joy and friendship. Their friendship took them on travels and adventures all over the world. Their professional relationship endured, and they were advisers to each other’s businesses for decades.


“The common thread for both men was entrepreneurship—they were always discussing ideas for new businesses, new products, new packaging, and exciting marketing campaigns,” Perlman says. “As much success as they had, they never stopped dreaming. For them, it was less about financial success and more about the process and whether they could create something consumers would benefit from. It’s inspiring to be around that kind of passion because it is so rare.”


They ultimately were passionate about supporting good health. “Health and nutrition are inextricably linked—you can’t have one without the other,” Perlman says. “Since health is so important to a good life, the advancement of nutrition is essentially an investment in people. We’re hoping that the next generation can be as innovative as Carl and Jerry have been so that we can improve the health and quality of life for people all over the world.”


Kay’s daughters, Christina Kay and Riva Sheppard, continue to follow the family’s vocation as executive officers of both Manhattan Drug Company and Integrated BioPharma, which are based in Hillside, New Jersey. “My dad was a dedicated family man,” Christina Kay says. “Family also included the staff present and past at the company and great friends he met during his 60-plus years in the business. He loved life and went to the office every day, even if just to say hello to Riva, me, and his work family.”


Sheppard adds, “Our family is honored, especially our mother and his wife, Heidi Kay, that his name will be remembered for years to come through the E. Gerald Kay Scholarship. Our father—a man who believed that a balanced lifestyle is key to longevity—would have been thrilled that many will be given the opportunity to pursue their interest in the industry that he dedicated his life to along with his best friend Carl.”

The Power Of The Tribe

Catch the magic every Wednesday morning.

Do you watch Delray Morning Live?

The 30-minute show is on Facebook and YouTube and you can watch it every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

If you miss it, you can catch the archived version and watch at your convenience.

I like to have it on while I work. I find the show—hosted by Amanda Perna and Jamael Stewart— to be fun and informative. Amanda and Jamael are terrific hosts—as good as any pair you’ll find on the networks—and they have great chemistry.

I was watching recently and was struck by the comments made by one of their guests Tim Charron, a singer-songwriter who lives in Delray. Mr. Charron is what they call a multi-hyphenate: he sings, he writes, he runs a booking agency etc. etc. He’s a talented and busy man.

Anyway, what struck me were comments about living and working in Delray. He talked about how the city is attracting creative people who like the vibe of modern-day Delray. He also said the best thing about Delray are the people who live and work here.

“I found my tribe in Delray,” he said.

How cool is that?
His comments stayed with me and got me thinking.

I know many people who can say something similar. They moved here and found their tribe. In other words, they found community.

You can’t put a price tag on community because it’s priceless. When you find your tribe, you’ve found your home and when you’ve found your home it’s a big moment in life.

A few years back, the author Peter Kageyama came to Old School Square as part of a lecture series. Mr. Kageyama wrote a book called “For the Love of Cities.”

It’s a great book. The premise is simple but profound; if you create a place that people love, you’ll succeed. If cities engage in a relationship with their citizens, and citizens begin to consider their emotional connections with their places, we open new possibilities for social and economic development by including the most powerful of motivators—the human heart.

That makes a lot of sense. Because when you fall in love, you commit and when you commit, magic happens.

Tim Charron seems to have fallen in love with Delray. Many of the guests on Delray Morning Live feel the same way and the hosts themselves are big-time cheerleaders for our village by the sea. There’s value in what they do—because positivity builds civic pride which is a very powerful asset; maybe the most powerful asset a city can have.

I’m also intrigued by the group Friends of Delray, which has done a dozen or so video podcasts covering a variety of subjects of importance to our community. The podcast—available on You Tube—keeps getting better and better. The latest edition focuses on micro communal housing, which seeks to solve a pressing issue, where to house people making less than $35,000 a year. One in five people in Delray fit in that category.

Kurt Jetta, who has a doctorate in economics, is the entrepreneur seeking to tackle this challenge. I’ve gotten to know Dr. Jetta and had the privilege of touring one of his micro communal housing projects on Northwest 5th Ave. I was struck by his passion, his analytical mind, and his commitment to Delray Beach.

Again, another talented person attracted to our community and its possibilities.

I don’t want to end this upbeat blog with a negative sentiment, but the other idea that occurred to me after I watched the Friends of Delray podcast and Delray Morning Live was the notion that our often toxic politics doesn’t match our reality.

Recently, I got a text message from a friend from my old political days saying she would rather “eat nails than work again in Delray politics.”


But I get it.

Still,  even on this front there’s good news. The recent March election may have ushered in a new era of civility, collaboration and civic engagement that has been missing for quite some time. The operative word in that sentence is ‘may’…it may have.

Civic engagement is a muscle that was once strong in this town, but it has atrophied from a lack of use; too many people have been made to feel marginalized.

We need to bring visioning back, we need to involve citizens in the great challenges we face: housing, climate change, how to provide services efficiently, education, economic development and the list goes on. I believe the city commission believes in citizen engagement, transparent decision making and the power of building community. Now they have take actions that support all three of those pillars.

There’s promise in the air and everywhere I go people are talking about the new energy, the lack of fear and the possibilities of returning to what we used to call the Delray Way, which simply meant we listened to each other, worked to involve the community and valued compromise. Not exactly rocket science, but it built a town that attracts a lot of cool people.

We veered from that simple formula, and it has cost all of us, a whole lot. More than can be quantified. But it didn’t kill the town. Delray has changed, so has everything. It’s a different world. But the heart still beats.

Still, progress and positivity require effort and vigilance. More people need to be engaged. More people need to vote. The low voter turnout in Delray is embarrassing and does not reflect a healthy and engaged community. Our politics should reflect our town. It used too…it can again.

Yes, there’s lots of work to do.

Building community requires effort and passion. But it’s worth it.

I see a lot of green shoots sprouting all over town: there’s the Concours D’ Elegance car show run by Max Zengage, a young man on the rise. There’s Community Greening, a non-profit, planting trees all over town and there’s the EJS Project mentoring our children and hosting a Community Block Party enjoyed by many.. I also see artists and entrepreneurs finding a home here. They and others know that this is a good place to invest their time, money, and passion.

And if they don’t stop believing…anything is possible.


Protecting A Special Culture

Delray Citizens for Delray Police co-founder Perry DonFrancisco has been supporting our local department for decades.

I’ve been fascinated by the Delray Beach Police Department since I discovered this town in 1987.

I’ve seen a lot of legendary officers come and go, personally know 8 of the 17 people who have served as chief and spent many hours on “ride alongs” which taught me a lot about the city that has been my home for 35 years.

There was a time when I knew most, if not all, the police officers in Delray. Those days are long gone.

I’m no longer current, but I still feel connected to the department and take great pride in supporting the men and women who risk their lives every day to protect and serve.

Diane and I went to the 18th annual Delray Citizens for Delray Police Awards Banquet at the Opal Resort recently and we had a great time. My company, CDS International Holdings, is a regular sponsor, because we believe in supporting the men and women who make our town safe to live, work and play.

The annual banquet recognizes the outstanding police work being done in our community and in a world where law enforcement can go unrecognized or worse, it’s nice to see an organization take the time to honor public servants.

As a result, we saw a rookie honored for his work protecting us from drunk drivers and learned about a detective who solves crimes at an impressive rate (he happens to be the son of a retired captain).

We also got to hear from Chief Russ Mager, someone I have known for years. It’s nice to see a home-grown leader climb the ranks to lead an organization that has done so much for Delray Beach.

Readers of this blog know how much I respect our Police Department. I believe– in my bones— that their hard work made it possible for Delray Beach to turn the corner and make a municipal comeback that has turned heads from coast to coast.

When I came to Delray Beach in the summer of 1987, it was a very different city from the one we enjoy today.

Downtown was down and out…the crime rate was awful and entire neighborhoods were open air drug markets.

As a young journalist, it was fascinating for me to shadow detectives, observe midnight warrant sweeps and follow the Tact Team (known on the street at the “jump out crew) into crack houses where I saw all sorts of crazy things—senior citizens held hostage by dealers who used their homes for cooking crack, people who burned off their fingertips holding pipes and kids as young as 7 used as “look outs” to spot the cops before they could disrupt drug sales.

I was reminded of those days recently due to the news coverage of Duane Owen’s execution June 15 for the brutal murders of Karen Slattery, a 14-year-old babysitter and Georgianna Worden, a 38-year-old mother of two who was slain by Owen in Boca almost 40 years ago.

I saw archival footage of detectives I knew, and I saw recent interviews with the officers tasked with finding and ultimately taking Owen off the streets. I was reminded how special these officers were, how invested they were in solving the crime.

Indeed, several of the now long retired detectives travelled to north Florida to support the Slattery family.

There was Lighthouse Point Chief Ross Licata standing behind Karen’s sister at a post execution press conference, flanked by retirees Bob Stevens, John Evans, Jeff Messer and Scott Lunsford. Seeing these fine and brave men standing side by side with Karen’s sister, herself now a Deputy Sheriff in Monroe County reminded me of how lucky we are to have such a high caliber department.

Chief Licata was a detective in the 80s when Karen was murdered. He remained close to the family and served as a mentor to Karen’s sister who was in the 5th grade when the tragedy happened. He and other Delray officers inspired her to become a law enforcement officer. Isn’t that amazing?

Out of unspeakable horror comes the gift of care and concern.

I saw my old friend Rick Lincoln interviewed on Channel 5. He was a detective assigned to the case and it left an indelible mark. He talked about Delray in the 80s as a place that had its share of violent crime, but nothing like what he saw when he was called to the scene of Slattery’s murder.

Rick would rise through the ranks in Delray and become interim chief before becoming number two at the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and chief in Lantana. He was a fine officer and a good man who taught me, a young reporter, some of the ins and outs that I needed to do my job.

Little did I know that one day, those lessons learned “riding along” would help me as a policy maker in Delray.

I came to the job of commissioner and then mayor with relationships with the men and women who were on the front lines of making our city safe for investment and progress.

So, walking into the doors of the Opal Grand and seeing retirees I knew and admired—Ralph Phillips, Tom Judge, Tom Tustin—and learning about the accomplishments of current officers felt good.
We are in good hands. And that means a lot to our quality of life.

I was also thrilled to see four city commissioners in attendance, as well as a county commissioner. It’s important for elected officials to support our officers, important to show pride in their work.

As I mentioned, I don’t know many officers these days. But I still feel connected to our Police Department… Fire-Rescue and City Hall too.

The Police Banquet is a connector. I hope you go next year. You’ll be glad you did.





The Power of Waves


Sometimes life crashes into you; like a wave.

You can be cooking along on autopilot only to be floored by a bit of news…. or a work of art.

When that happens— when the waves hit—you get snapped out of your rhythm. You’re reminded that you’re human; fragile, vulnerable, at risk.

In some cases, the waves are beautiful. They knock you over in a good way. You shake your head and marvel at all this world has to offer.

But sometimes a wave knocks you over and fills your lungs with dread. You’re left breathless, as if you’ve been punched before having a chance to brace yourself.

I’ve had four such waves hit me in recent weeks.

Two of the waves may seem silly, but they’re not. A great piece of art can reach deep, where it matters most. Art can take many forms—sculpture, a painting, music, or a TV show that touches you in a profound way and leaves you with a new perspective.

And sometimes, a wave can come via a text from a friend who tells you that something awful has happened.

In one text, we learned of the suicide of a friend’s 20-something daughter and in another we learned of the death of another friend’s 38-year-old daughter felled by a stroke. Both waves hit hard.

When you cherish your friend’s, when you open your heart to a kindred spirit, it’s a wonderful thing: an antidote to America’s crisis of loneliness. But you also become vulnerable to heartbreak. Bad things happen to good people and when they do you ache.

When my mother passed away in 1998 at the age I am now, the pain I felt was unlike anything else I had ever experienced. At the time, I sought solace in the book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Rabbi Harold Kushner who passed away earlier this year.

“Pain is the price we pay for being alive,” he wrote. “Dead cells—our hair, our fingernails—can’t feel pain; they cannot feel anything. When we understand that, our question will change from, “Why do we have to feel pain?” to “What do we do with our pain so that it becomes meaningful and not just pointless empty suffering?”

That’s a question worth thinking about.

Globally, 1 in 100 deaths are by suicide. That’s a stunning figure.

There are no words or deeds we can offer my friend or any other person who has lost a loved one to suicide to make up for that loss, but we sure feel the pain.

And there are no words to soothe our hearts when a young talented woman is lost to a devastating stroke at a young age.  We take some solace that her organs will give life to others, but we grieve. The waves leave a permanent scar.

Still, I come back to Rabbi Kushner’s question which I have been wrestling with since I read his words 25 years ago.

“What do we do with our pain so that it becomes meaningful and not just pointless empty suffering?”

I think the answer is we love others, and we aspire to fulfill our dreams and lead a good life.

And that leads me to the two good waves that hit recently.

I’m a fan of good writing and recently two of the best written TV series of all time ended their runs. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Ted Lasso” wrapped up their decorated runs with final episodes that were pitch perfect. Although I will miss both series immensely, I’m grateful for the artistry and the messages these shows provided during a tumultuous period in our world.

I’ve been studying playwriting recently and one of the main takeaways is that the best works contain a message, a point of view that propels the story forward.

For Mrs. Maisel, the message that drove the series was the importance of pursuing your dreams and never giving up even if the odds are stacked against you. So, despite setback after setback, Mrs. Maisel perseveres. She may wobble at times, but she always keeps her eyes on the prize. It’s a good lesson, because life is not easy and it’s sure not a straight shot to the top.

As for Ted Lasso, well….the message of that sweet show is the magic of love.  Ted Lasso is a show about love, made with love about the power of love.

There is no better message.

Some waves you want to lean into and ride because they’re beautiful and you want to be transported. Other waves knock you off your feet. Our world sure has its ups and downs.

“Upon us all, a little rain must fall,” the Led Zeppelin song says.


The Beatles answer with: “when it rains and shines, it’s just a state of mind.”

So true.

Here’s hoping you catch some good waves. And I hope that when you get hit with a bad one, that you find meaning in the pain and a way forward. Always a way forward.



Odds and Ends.

Bishop Stokes

A very special man, with Delray ties, retired last week and I can’t let the moment pass without saying thanks to a dear friend.

Chip Stokes, the former pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on South Swinton Avenue, who left us in 2013 to become the 12th Bishop of New Jersey, retired from his post June 4. His last official visitation was at Trinity Cathedral in Trenton, where it all began for my friend and his lovely wife Susan.

Chip and Susan were a blessing to our community and for me, he was an important touchstone. Chip’s door was always open and even though we came from different faiths, I found solace in his advice and inspiration in his passion for community and social justice. He was a trailblazer in race relations, a trusted friend to many and a beloved pastor who is dearly missed.

I often turned to Chip for advice when I was feeling the weight of the world during my tenure as mayor which included the shooting of a young man named Jerrod Miller, numerous hurricanes and my strong desire to bridge the gap between the races in Delray Beach. I could always rely on Chip to listen, give sage advice, and to buoy my spirits. He was more important to me than I think he knew at a time when I really needed someone of his immense sensitivity to care. We shared a desire to improve race relations, a love of baseball, and a belief that the world could be a better place if we could somehow connect with our fellow human beings.

When he was being vetted for the Bishop’s job, a team of church leaders came to Delray Beach to talk to parishioners and community leaders about Chip. I was honored to be among those they interviewed. We met at the historic church on Swinton, a place where I would from time to time, to see my friend and I was asked about his impact on the community.

Something happened to me when I began to answer. It has never happened before and it hasn’t happened since. But as I described my friend and the love he had shown for our town, I found that tears were welling up in my eyes. I was surprised and a little embarrassed at the time, but the interviewers were kind and understanding. I knew in my heart that Chip would get the job; he was too gifted not too and I could tell by the questions that the interviewers were smart people. They would surely see what I saw in Chip, that he was a man with extraordinary leadership qualities. I would miss Chip, Delray would miss Chip, but we wanted him to get the job.

He did and he knocked it out of the park.

Reflecting on his Chip’s influence in Delray last week, I kept coming back to the words love and passion. The best leaders are full of love and passion for people. They have compassion as well.

And as I ache for my divided country and also my divided city, I realize that Chip’s example still teaches me; leadership cannot happen without love, passion and compassion. Fomenting hate and division is not leadership, it is the opposite.

I thank Bishop Stokes for his example. We haven’t seen each other in a long time, but we’ve remained in touch and his impact still resonates around these parts.

We wish Susan, Chip and his New York Mets nothing but health and happiness.


The Four Freedoms

On this Memorial Day please remember that some gave all.

I’ve been watching the debt ceiling debate for months now.

Most people, I suspect, have been focused on this for a few weeks, but I’ve been concerned for a while because I’ve learned (the hard way) to be wary of extremists—on both sides of the aisle. As Maya Angelou warned us: “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

Good advice. Please be forewarned.

We live in an age where norms, values, expertise, experience and even morals are being brushed aside, like lint on your collar. We used to question and challenge assumptions and that’s healthy.

But these days we conclude and we slam our minds shut.  We discard, disparage, and destroy.

This is troubling news, but very real. It’s a fever that promises to break us before we break the fever.

So, when I heard rumblings about the debt ceiling months ago, I became alarmed. We have gone to the edge of a cliff a few times with the full faith and credit of the United States at risk only to pull back. But this time feels different to me, I hope I’m wrong, but I believe there are forces who want us to jump off that cliff. I hope there’s really a deal.

But this isn’t a discussion about the nation’s deficit, which is atrocious and embarrassing. Future generations will curse us, of that I am certain. We need to live within our means. It’s just that simple. But we don’t.

Still, this debate is about paying our bills. It’s about not endangering America’s economy and our place in the world.

A responsible government would pay its bills and then immediately sit down and come up with a plan to tackle the debt or  at least get it under control. But we are no longer responsible, we are tribal. There’s a difference.

We have become captive to the extremes, and I believe that most of us are not extreme.  Therein lies the problem.

We are stuck in a car with reckless drivers and that car is running over the norms, values and morals that built this nation. It’s heartbreaking.

Whenever I get overwhelmed by the gravity of a situation, I seek a change of scenery and the advice of wise counsel. I highly recommend both.

We happened to have a trip to New England scheduled so I was able to change my scenery to that of the Maine seacoast. There’s something about the history of New England, the architecture, the kindness of the people and the lobster that settles you. (Ok, I don’t like lobster, but I hear it’s good in Maine).

When I returned, I checked in with my good friend Kerry Koen for a heart to heart. I wrote about Kerry, our beloved former fire chief (he served both Boca and Delray in that capacity) a few weeks back. Anyway, Kerry loves history as do I. In preparation for our talk, I spent time on the plane reading about FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech and the Atlantic Charter, written by Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. I also read the 14thAmendment, especially the clause that says the “validity of the public debt, authorized by law … shall not be questioned”.

Pretty heady stuff for a short flight—I’m so glad we bought the comfort plus seats on Delta which gave us an extra centimeter of leg room….

I digress.

The Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms speak to fundamental American values. Not Democratic values or Republican values—American values.

The first of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms is freedom of speech and expression—not just here but everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom to worship G-d in his or her own way—everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want—-which means that everyone the world over should be economically secure.

The fourth is freedom from fear—especially the horrors of war.

Later, in the same speech FDR outlined six goals:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

Jobs for those who can work.

Security for those who need it.

The ending of special privilege for the few.

The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

The Four Freedoms served as a justification for America to confront Hitler and his fascist followers. As captured by painter Norman Rockwell, the freedoms were considered values central to American life and an example of American exceptionalism.

Ask yourself, how we are measuring up to those values?

The Atlantic Charter, issued in August 1941, was a joint statement by America and Great Britain which called for no territorial aggrandizement, no territorial changes made against the wishes of the people (self-determination), restoration of self-government to those deprived of it, reduction of trade restrictions, global co-operation to secure better economic and social conditions for all, freedom from fear and want, freedom of the seas, abandonment of the use of force, and disarmament of aggressor nations.

The charter, ambitious and idealistic, was hugely influential and historians believe it was one of the first steps toward the formation of the United Nations.

It’s a monumental document written by serious people trying to save the free world from unimaginable evil.

Values and ideals should be ambitious. They should inspire and move people toward building a better world.

Like everything else, there are local parallels to national and world affairs.

Cities should have visions, values, and ideals. They should be inspiring and exciting to old timers and newcomers alike.

Those visions need to be updated every 20 years or so, if you believe what my good friends Chris Brown and Kim Briesemeister write in their great book “Reinventing Your City.” If Chris’ name sounds familiar, well it should. He was a pioneering CRA director and currently sits on our Planning and Zoning Board. Kim used to run the West Palm CRA. They know their stuff.

Visions are meant to be refreshed, but values and morals are meant to last. Still, even the strongest values are vulnerable to indifference and bad behavior.

Once lost, we enter dangerous seas. We become adrift from our moorings. There’s a reason we refer to a moral compass—our morals should guide us— always.

We hear a lot of talk around these parts about the Delray Way, but I wonder if we have lost sight of what that phrase means.

Here’s what I remember and understand it to be.

When confronted with a problem, we acknowledge the challenge and work together to make things better.

We try to be inclusive and involve the community.

We strive to make the community a safe place to serve, whether we work here or volunteer.

We respect differences, celebrate our diversity as a strength and find ways to move forward. We compromise. We put the community first, above our egos and our ambitions.

I grew up in this town watching people who practiced the Delray Way every day. I watched them revive a dead downtown, I saw them address education , I saw them clean up crime riddled neighborhoods and I saw them take three old and dilapidated buildings on the corner of Atlantic and Swinton and turn it into a community gathering place.

As I reviewed my friend Chris Brown’s book last week, I saw a photo of Old School Square in 1985. It was barren, beaten and blighted. Chris and Kim used the restoration of Old School Square as an example for other city leaders to take look at the assets in their community and make the most of them.

A few hours later, the magic of serendipity occurred. Chris called. We don’t speak regularly, but we do stay in touch. He made a point to call me each month as I recovered from Covid. I make it a point to learn from him when we speak. So, I asked Chris about Old School Square, and he told me that all the redevelopment we saw in Delray—the value, the vibrancy, the excitement—emanated like rays from that site.

As you know, the group that created Old School Square, that shepherded the restoration and more importantly infused the place with the idea of community was booted by the previous commission from the site after 32 years.

The election in March saw candidates who supported the eviction lose to candidates who want to restore the site and heal a community that needs healing.

When a community or a nation needs healing, I would argue the best path is to go back to your values and ideals. If you’ve strayed, you should come home.

We need to go home. We have the compass. Do we have the will and the leadership?


Last week, we wrote about the tragic murders of Karen Slattery and Georgianna Worden and the death warrant signed by the governor for the killer Duane Owen. A day after publication, it was reported that a hold was put on the execution pending psychiatric evaluation.

According to the Florida News service: “Gov. Ron DeSantis temporarily put a hold on the execution of Duane Eugene Owen and ordered a psychiatric evaluation of the death row inmate after his lawyers argued that he may be insane.


Owen, 62, is slated to be executed by lethal injection on June 15. But DeSantis issued an executive order calling for three psychiatrists to evaluate Owen.


According to the order, Owen’s lawyers sent a letter to the governor that included a neuropsychologist’s “recent evaluation” saying that Owen “meets the criteria for insanity.”


Owen was “feeling that he is a woman in the body of a man” and “was trying to fully become the woman he really was,” according to the order, which quoted from the neuropsychologist’s report.

We will keep you posted.

A Wake Up Poll, Saying Goodbye To A Special Planner

Scott Pape gets an earful of praise from City Manager Terrance Moore at his retirement party last week. Three mayors, three planning directors and a room full of current and retired city staff came to celebrate Scott’s storied career.


Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a poll that blew people’s minds.

The pollsters asked a cross-section of Americans whether they thought that life for their children’s generation would be better than it was for them.

The answer: no.

Check that: it was heck no.

By a 78-21 percent margin, Americans did not feel confident that their kids would have a better life. One percent didn’t know.

That’s a startling number and as one commentator put it: “the poll quantifies a generational and political divide that shows a rot at the very soul of our nation.”

When you use the word “rot,” good news usually doesn’t follow. Whether it has to do with your house, your marriage, or your nation, you really want to avoid rot.

Here’s what the Journal found.

  • Asked to describe the state of the nation’s economy, 1% (not a typo) chose “excellent.”
  • 56% said a four-year college degree is “not worth the cost because people often graduate without specific job skills and with a large amount of debt.”
  • 33% said they have very little or no confidence in public schools.
  • Tolerance for others, deemed very important by 80% of Americans as recently as four years ago, has fallen to 58%.


The numbers look even worse when compared to Journal polling data from 1998.


  • Patriotism is very important: Dropped from 70% to 38%.
  • Religion is very important: Dropped from 62% to 39%.
  • Having children is very important: Dropped from 59% to 30%.
  • Community involvement is very important: Dropped from 62 % to 29%.
  • Money is very important: Rose from 31% to 43%.


Blame it on politics, Covid, inflation or the very wrong decision to end Ted Lasso, but something is amiss in our society.

Patriotism, community involvement and having kids–and believing they will live in a better America— are the core values of our nation.

It’s a lot to grapple with, but grapple with it we must because so much is at stake.

As concerned locals, we should be asking what we can do here in Boca/Delray to address some of these issues?

If you are involved in a college or university, you need to be laser focused on the value you are providing students. Will they get a return on their investment of time and tuition?

I’m happy to report that I think Lynn University, FAU and Palm Beach State are focused on those very questions. As a trustee at Lynn, I’ve been impressed with the focus Lynn puts on providing “hands-on” educational opportunities and making sure students are engaged and getting what they need to succeed. As a private institution, Lynn can pivot and innovate– and they do.

FAU, coming off a basketball season for the ages, is blossoming and serves as an economic engine for our region. Let’s hope the specter of partisan politics surrounding the selection of a new president doesn’t set the school back. If the powers that be recruit a great educational leader in the seat, not a political hack who needs a job, FAU will soar.

Likewise, Palm Beach State is doing a good job preparing students for careers with low-cost certificate and degree programs in fields ranging from manufacturing and welding to construction and marine services.

As for local public schools, this requires a very deep dive.

Delray Beach schools need our care and attention. Our city has a rich history of supporting local schools and it looks like we need to undergo another visioning process to address some pressing issues which includes test scores, graduation rates and declining enrollment at local schools.

We need to empower our Education Coordinator and Education Board to bring the stakeholders to the table so we can find strategies to positively impact local schools. Promising programs to support our youth exist: Bound for College, Milagro Center, KOP Mentoring Network, Roots & Wings, EJS Project and the Achievement Center are good examples. We have a foundation in place on which to build something unique in Delray. It will take a village and a vision to knit these programs together and create a compelling narrative that this can be a learning community


The distressing numbers on community involvement are another cause for alarm.

Some of the lack of interest may stem from cynicism, some may be caused by economic strain and some by the lack of a “community water cooler” (i.e. local news) that once made it easy to find out what was going on in town.

Regardless, there was a time when city government was designed to encourage civic engagement. Virtually every department in the city was focused on getting the community involved.

Examples include citizen police academies, resident academies, police and fire volunteer programs, open houses, neighborhood dinners, neighborhood task teams, charettes, visioning, community reading initiatives, events, festivals etc. There were numerous and varied “connection” points; opportunity upon opportunity to get involved.

It’s never been easy to engage the public, but community building is critical and worth the effort.

The Journal poll was a wake-up call. I hope we answer the alarm.



  • 70.0%: In 1998, 70.0% of Americans said that patriotism was very important.
  • 38.0%: In 2023, 38.0% of Americans said that patriotism was very important.
  • 62.0%: In 1998, 62.0% of Americans said that religion was very important.
  • 39.0%: In 2023, 39.0% of Americans said that religion was very important.
  • 59.0%: In 1998, 59.0% of Americans said that having children was very important.
  • 30.0%: In 2023, 30.0% of Americans said that having children was very important.
  • 62.0%: In 1998, 62.0% of Americans said that involvement in community was very important.
  • 29.0%: In 2023, 29.0% of Americans said that involvement in community was very important.
  • 31.0%: In 1998, 31.0% of Americans said that money was very important.
  • 43.0%: In 2023, 43.0% of Americans said that money was very important (Sources: NORC at The University of Chicago and The Wall Street Journal, 3.27.23).


Odds and Ends

Congratulations to Detective Charles Lunsford who was named 2022 Officer of the Year by the Delray Elks Lodge.

Charles’ dad Scott was a legendary Delray officer, so clearly the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Great job.


Condolences to Lt. Gary Ferreri on the loss of his wonderful grandfather Richard Lewis who passed away recently at the age of 98.

In March, Mr. Lewis received the Legion of Honor Award for his service in World War II. The Legion of Honor is the French government’s highest honor. Mr. Lewis saw action in the Battle of the Bulge.

“He was a man that never complained about anything, he literally went through hell and back as he was captured and held as a POW for 4 months in Germany. I have had the honor and privilege to hear many of his stories, about the men he saved on the front line, his time in prison camp, and so much more,” Lt. Ferreri said in a Facebook post.

His grandfather went back to Normandy to walk the beaches last June.

He will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.


Recently, Delray lost a local icon with the passing of Bruce Gimmy.

The long-time owner of The Trouser Shop on Atlantic Avenue, Mr. Gimmy was known for his colorful wardrobe and lately for his participation in Delray Fashion Week.

Rest in Peace.


I’d also like to wish a happy retirement to Scott Pape, who spent 37 years—most of them in Delray Beach—working as a city planner.

Scott is not only a great guy, he is universally respected. Known as the “fixer” Scott was often tasked with the most sensitive projects in town—including Ipic and Atlantic Crossing because Planning Directors through the years knew he would be fair, thorough and professional regardless of circumstances.

It’s not easy being a city planner in any city—especially Delray which can be a challenging place  when it comes to the public square. But this town has always been known for its outstanding planning department and Scott was a star among stars. We wish him well in his next chapter.




The Oath…

The biggest crowd in memory turned out to see Rob Long and Angela Burns sworn in.

“Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” Simon Sinek

Delray Beach starts the week with two new commissioners: Angela Burns and Rob Long.

I wish them well.

After a bruising campaign season, Angela and Rob were sworn in last Thursday for three-year terms.

The crowd that turned out to see them was jubilant. There’s excitement in the air, there’s a chance to turn the page and be a better Delray.

Yes, the swearing in was a very special moment for this community. Hope has made a comeback.

Now the work begins.

We had a saying back in the day: first you’re sworn in, then you’re sworn at.

But all kidding aside, serving your community is an honor and a privilege.

I’ve long believed that local government is where we can really make a difference. It’s a big enough job to be fascinating—especially in a city like Delray—and easy to make an impact if you’re focused. After all, if you have a suggestion on a Tuesday night and two of your colleagues agree, change can start happening Wednesday morning.

That’s the beauty and promise of local government.

Make no mistake, serving in elected office is no walk in the park. It’s an awful lot of work if you do the job right. Commissioners can look forward to a lot of reading, a lot of meetings, and of lot of nights and weekends away from family. It’s all worth it.

In a dynamic city such as Delray, you are tasked with being visible, accessible, and responsive. Again, it’s worth it.

You have to become familiar with urban planning principles, economic development, labor issues (the city has three active unions), pensions, capital improvement budgets, municipal finance, how CRA’s operate and function and a whole host of other stuff ranging from coastal conservation and water issues to issues concerning the business community, local schools, neighboring governments, public safety, race relations, civic engagement and more, much more.

It’s challenging but wonderful. It can be stressful but immensely fulfilling.

Governing is the fun part (most of the time), but politics are hardly ever fun and in this town the politics have become increasingly toxic.

While there are ideological differences between factions in Delray, the most worrisome differences are personal.

If the differences were only ideological, there would be hope for compromise. There’s a chance that two parties can sit down and work something out.

But when personality conflicts erupt, it gets ugly. Each side begins to look at the other as an existential threat. That’s what happened nationally and that’s what we may be up against in local politics.

I wish I had answers, but all I have are theories as to how to make the public square safer and better at delivering results for communities.

It does start with leadership and I believe a specific type of leadership; i.e. servant leadership.

Servant leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. Leaders have to remember that  they work for us, we don’t work for them.

We, as citizens, do have a responsibility to engage, be informed, remain civil and vote. Too many of us don’t practice the fundamental building blocks of Democracy.

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten to know Rob Long and Angela Burns better. I think they both held up extremely well under fire, I see them as kind people who are committed to Delray Beach. Both care about education, housing, jobs,  government transparency and the culture at City Hall.

I think they have a chance to do good things. And this community hungers for good things and positivity.

I hope and trust that they will remain visible, accessible, and responsive to all citizens. As I mentioned in an earlier post, in his victory speech last month, Rob emphasized that he was there to serve everyone not just those who voted for him. I like that.


Because this city needs healing.

We also have challenges to face and opportunities to seize.

Good leaders roll up their sleeves and help people win.

If you want to make a complex job simple; that’s the formula.

Finally, one piece of unsolicited advice. The best part of being a servant leader is the opportunity you are given to connect to others. Take the time to build relationships. Take the time to work shoulder to shoulder with the people you serve. Help them succeed and then recognize those achievements. That’s how you build community; that’s how you build and sustain civic pride.

Wishing Angela and Rob and the rest of our commission the very best.



The Promise Of A New Day

Commissioner-elect Angela Burns.

Commissioner-elect Rob Long.

“It’s a new day in Delray Beach and it feels good.”

“When the people unite, love prevails.”

“Excited to see the story of repair, restoration and reconciliation unfold in Delray Beach.”

“A true testament that the ‘power of the people’ is stronger than the ‘people in power’.”

“Praying for leadership that communicates, engages the public and works together with the community and businesses as a team again.”

“Delray has spoken. Let the collaboration and community involvement begin!”

I’m writing this the day after perhaps the most intense election in recent Delray Beach history and I am enjoying letting my eyes take a stroll through Facebook.

The above is just a sampling of the good feeling in town. Over the past several days as I’ve gone about my day, I’ve been running into people who are over the moon excited by last week’s election results. The birds are chirping, a cool breeze is blowing, hope has been restored!

That’s not something I could have said for many years. Delray has been put through the ringer.

Needlessly, I might add.

But today, the sun is shining and there is hope that we can get back to community building, which we once excelled at like no other town. Let me repeat that; like no other town.

It is time to heal.

I spent election night at Harvest restaurant watching the people that worked together to build Delray rejoice. They backed Rob Long and Angela Burns, and their favored candidates won and there were smiles all around. Check that: there were tears too.

The people in that room, police officers, firefighters, teachers, volunteers, retirees, and young professionals want a city that listens to them, involves them, and respects their opinions.

They don’t want to be labeled, they don’t want to fight, they want to make a life here and all of them want to give back.

Because they love this town.

I got a text this morning from a friend who felt for years that he could not be seen with certain people because it would hurt his business. Today, he feels relieved. He no longer worries about retribution.

But while I was gratified to see my heroes and heroines smile again as the results poured in—I was waiting to see what Commissioner-elect Long would say in his victory speech.

He delivered.

Rob thanked the people in the room. He gave them credit for their hard work and contributions, and he showed respect and humility—that’s what servant leaders do.

Then he said that he wanted to serve all the people in Delray, even those who did not vote for him.

I like that. That was the magic moment.

We need more of that. A lot more.

He called for a return to civility and collaboration. He called for involvement and input.

These are not innovative notions; this is common sense.

Our partisan politics have divided us and threatened the existence of our nation. We don’t need that brand of politics in our hometown.

There is another way.

If  I’ve learned anything in my years observing government and business, it is that kindness is essential to leadership.

Along with integrity, intelligence, a willingness to learn and a passion for service, kindness is indispensable.

Being nice does not mean that you are a pushover. But it does mean that when presented with a problem or a difference of opinion, you try and find a solution that doesn’t destroy, divide, or degrade.

But unkind people do just that.

Unfortunately, power attracts bullies. And bullies often get far on their bravado (which usually is a mask for insecurity).

In other words, they can get the job—but they can’t last. And they can’t do the job well either.


Because they divide, degrade, and destroy, and that becomes their legacy.

We have seen bullies take a sledgehammer to nations, states, and cities.

They seek to vanquish opponents, demand total fealty and end up losing because bullying gets old. People get fed up and move on. But before we make a course correction, a lot of damage happens. And that’s a shame.

The last few years have been exhausting and expensive.

We have lost our cultural arts center (and it’s going to cost us millions to get it back), told a generation of civic leaders that they are useless and took a matchstick to philanthropy.

We have watched precious assets such as our historic golf course go to seed, seen talented civil servants bullied into submission and we have refused to engage citizens—when engagement turned this town around.

It’s not wise when a town turns its back on what made it successful.

As a result, we have become a case study in how to climb a mountain and then give it back.

We have told a generation who gave of themselves that they are good ole boys who made a mess.

We have labeled, threatened, and harassed people who should be respected.

It’s not right. And it’s ruinous.

We kept pulling threads out of our civic fabric. Well, keep pulling and the garment eventually falls apart.

Some things…let’s just say once they break, they can’t be fixed.

We have beat this town and its best citizens to a pulp. But they are not going away.

Last week, many of them fought back. They fought for their community.

And they won.

They worked hard…knocked on doors, called and emailed their neighbors and made a persuasive argument that we need change.

And they were rewarded.

But now the hard work begins. We have to heal some wounds, we have to reach out to all stakeholders, and we have to address serious issues: infrastructure, housing affordability, schools, water quality, sea level rise and how to work together again.

There is also a whole lot of misinformation surrounding development in Delray. We addressed it 20 plus years ago with the Downtown Master Plan, which was an inclusive and educational experience.  We went to school together as a community and learned a lot. We need that kind of effort again—but this time it needs to address citywide concerns about traffic, uses and design.

There’s a lot to do.

But the people have spoken.

They voted for collaboration and involvement.

Our leaders need to lead. The people are ready. Time to get to work.


Bite Size election thoughts:

  • I’ve never seen such an all hands-on deck effort to elect candidates since the 1990 race that saw Tom Lynch elected mayor and Jay Alperin and Dave Randolph elected to the commission. There was a similar dynamic back in 1989-90 with a strong desire to change direction and change the tone of politics in Delray.
  • Old School Square was an animating issue that galvanized voters. According to polling I saw, nearly three quarters of likely voters were against the decision to terminate the lease with OSS and didn’t like how it was done, i.e. without public notice, public input or a plan.
  • Friends of Delray is a group to watch. They have produced many fascinating video podcasts available on Youtube, lots of interesting articles etc. This is a volunteer effort done by people who care. I hope you check them out and I hope they stay around.
  • The Palm Beach Post and the Sun-Sentinel endorsements didn’t change the race. Sadly, few people are reading newspapers these days. Even sadder, why do newspapers that don’t cover the community endorse at all? It was clear from reading the endorsements that those papers have no clue about what’s going on in Delray. Embarrassing. The Sun-Sentinel’s endorsement was especially tone deaf. Apparently, editorial writers for the Post and Sun-Sentinel don’t read Randy Schultz’s CityWatch blog.

Mr. Schultz worked for decades at both papers.  During  my second bout with Covid, I spent four days archiving three plus years of his columns chronicling the adventures of the City Commission. It was an eye-opening and surreal experience. I stopped at 180 pages worth of controversy, fights, dropped balls etc. and sent them to the campaigns. It’s an endeavor I do not recommend.

  • Finally, voter turnout is ridiculously low. It’s not the sign of a healthy community. Our vote is our voice and too many people don’t exercise the right that so many have fought and are still fighting to protect. Countywide only 12.66 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. In that 1990 race referenced earlier, over 40 percent turned out to vote. That was a landmark figure, but if you think about it, even that turnout means that 6 of 10 voters stayed home. In this race, nearly 9 of 10 did. The issues that affect our lives, homes and businesses are decided by a microscopic subset of people.

Artist Susan Romaine was an ardent supporter of Old School Square.

We are saddened by the recent loss of Susan Romaine, a local artist who touched so many hearts through her spirit, kindness and immense talent.

Susan was dedicated to Old School Square and was a touchstone and inspiration for a slew of local artists.

She was represented by galleries in Delray Beach and Santa Fe and was an artist in residence at the Gibbes Museum in Charleston, S.C.

In her own beautiful words:

“Quite frequently as I paint an image, I begin to see multiple levels of symbolism that I hadn’t noticed in that first blush as I passed by. I learn something more about the space or people I have observed and get a far deeper sense of the human presence that occupied time and space with their surroundings. It is this studio-bound journey of discovery, those “ah ha” moments, that keeps that brush of mine moving across the canvas.”

She will be missed. She was a sweet soul.