The Lies That Grind

I’ve never been called a ‘good ole boy’.

Last week, I think I might have been.

I wasn’t singled out, and names have not been released, but I think I might be in this group called the ‘good ole boy network’.

For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to assume I’m in the network. I hope I am because I’d be in good company.

It seems there is a group in town who support the mayor and Commissioner Juli Casale. They are on a mission to clean up the “mess” the good ole boys made of this place and replace it with what?

Good government?

That would be nice. We haven’t seen that around these parts in quite some time.

The crew that opposes the good ole boys  have been all over Facebook vowing to clean up more messes if they continue to have the votes on our City Commission.  A friend of mine and his good ole boy friends were advised to “buckle up.”


Anyway, this mission to clean up the “mess” some of the best citizens of this town created would explain why Old School Square was kicked to the curb without a plan at a cost of millions of dollars, why we may need to sell part of our golf course to pay for millions in deferred maintenance and why we’ve gone through more city managers in recent years than the fingers on both hands. It’s all the fault of the good ole boys!

Who knew!

We’ve  been warned that the anti good ole boys are the “nightmare” we all feared and it was mentioned that past leaders lacked the guts to do what needed to be done to fix our hometown.

Well, they are right on the nightmare assertion. Finally, a point of agreement! We agree that we are living through a nightmare.

But not for the same reasons—and therein lies the difference and the choice we face in the March 14 election.

There’s a lot to unpack here but let’s not leave the “good ole boy” comment quite yet.

I wanted to better understand the allegation, just in case I’m being lumped into that group, so I did a little research.

According to the New York Times, during the heyday of the Civil Rights movement, the Northern press began to refer to sheriffs, prison guards and anyone with either a bullhorn or a German shepherd as a good old boy.

Hmmm…I’m a Jewish guy from Long Island, I’ve never owned a bullhorn and I have a golden retriever and a chihuahua not a German shepherd, so maybe I don’t qualify.

My friends don’t meet that criterion either, besides many of the people I believe being referenced are—-wait for it—- women.

But I didn’t stop there. I didn’t want the New York Times to be the last word on this fascinating subject.

The Oxford dictionary defines good old boy as a “man who embodies some or all of the qualities considered characteristic of many white men of the southern US, including an unpretentious, convivial manner, conservative or intolerant attitudes, and a strong sense of fellowship with and loyalty to other members of his peer group.”

Well, this a mixed bag.

My peer group is a loyal bunch (we call it friendship) and unpretentious. But intolerant is a stretch; kind is a more apt description of the people I’m thinking about.

But here we are.

We live in a strange universe where many of our best citizens and most generous contributors are on the outs.

There is a real attempt to rewrite local history, recast heroines as villains and try and make the case that everything that came before this current group was wrong, corrupt and incompetent.

Not exactly.

Luckily, the truth is a stubborn thing. While lies get halfway around the world before the truth puts its pants on (to borrow from Mark Twain) the truth has a pesky way of shining through. In other words, truth endures.

Which means that every time the civic achievements of a generation of kind and giving people are denigrated, it diminishes those that do so.

In the past few weeks of this heated election season, I’ve seen some of our best mayors made fun of—with suggestions that a few should seek memory care. And I’ve seen a narrative that said redeveloping downtown Delray was easy and could have been accomplished by just about anyone.

I don’t think so.

It took an army of talented people. An army….who knew how to work together, knew how to engage the community and knew how to collaborate with each other.

As for the mayors, well, I don’t think dementia is something to joke about, besides I know those mayors and on their worst day they can run circles around these social media legends.

But I digress.

I do not think anyone is above criticism.

If you venture into the “arena” you can count on it. And truth be told, plenty of mistakes were made; that’s what life is. Hopefully, you fix them and don’t repeat them.

But I also don’t think it’s healthy or wise for a community to chew up and spit out those who gave their time, treasure, and passion to a place.

I almost felt bad about some of this nonsense, but then I remembered a scene from the movie Good Will Hunting and I felt better.

In this pivotal scene, Robin Williams, who plays a therapist named Sean, confronts Matt Damon who plays the genius Will. Will had criticized a painting in Sean’s office and by extension Sean’s life.

Here’s a snippet of the script. It’s terrific.

Sean: I thought about what you said to me the other day, about my painting.

Will: Yeah?

Sean: Stayed up half the night thinking about it. Something occurred to me…and I fell into a deep peaceful sleep and haven’t thought about you since. Do you know what occurred to me?

Will: No.

Sean: You’re just a kid, you don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

Will: Why thank you.

Sean: It’s all right. You’ve never been out of Boston.

Will: Nope.

Sean: So, if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling.

The scene proceeds with a dissertation on war, women, and life itself. It’s a masterful piece of screenwriting but there’s a profound lesson baked into the scene as well. Sean has hard earned experience, while his critic, in this case Will, lobs missiles from the cheap seats, from a place of anger and insecurity. That’s where bullies live.

Life, business, leadership always seems easier from the outside looking in. But if you examine every success story you see the struggle. I have yet to encounter a single “overnight” success story. It takes grit, hard work, sacrifice and this is going to sound odd—a fair amount of failure to succeed.

Why failure?
Because you learn from your mistakes.

So, when you see and experience criticism, please consider the source. Is he or she credible? Have they been in the situations that they are opining about?

Have they run a non-profit arts organization?

Have they made decisions that impact their neighbors?

Have they taken a risk, failed, got up, wiped the blood from their nose and tried again?

Meanwhile, this is a partial list of who is on the outs in Delray Beach these days. If you see these good ole boys and girls give them a pat on the back. They’ve earned it.

A veteran public school teacher who won a “Woman of Grace” Award recognizing her lifetime of volunteering for good causes.

A founder of an arts organization widely credited with leading the renaissance of downtown Delray. She recently won a “Distinguished Achievement Award” given by the University of Florida in recognition of her work as a champion of historic preservation.

A local business owner who gives to just about every charity in town, raises money by organizing a banquet honoring police officers and founded two charitable organizations that give back to local non-profits.

A semi-retired real estate developer who has spent the past 20 years serving on non-profit and city boards while supporting local charities just because he loves this place and wants to see it thrive.

A local contractor who has devoted himself to all things Delray for over 25 years.

A dedicated community servant who is involved in education, the environment, historic preservation, economic development and making sure we have a tree canopy.

A small business owner and philanthropist who has been involved in everything from the arts and culture to making sure we have trained Santa’s at the tree during the holidays.

I can go on and on.

These people are not entitled, elitist or self-serving—they are interested, generous and passionate about our hometown.

Something is amiss when they’ve been sidelined, kicked to the curb, and ridiculed.

Good ole boys?

Well, they are good.

Some of them are old (but young in spirit). Besides there is absolutely nothing wrong with being old.

Lastly, none of them are boys. They are men and women who care.


And win or lose tomorrow they won’t be silenced. They won’t be bullied.

Vote accordingly.



  1. Carl C. Carter says

    I hope you and the Friends of Delray can reach enough citizens to make change a reality Certainly you and your

    excellent writings are doing your part. Thanks for your efforts , past present and future.

    Dr. Carl Carter

  2. Scott Porten says


    I saw the mayor’s Facebook post and found it very threatening. It’s bothered me ever since I read it. I believe by “good ole boys” she may be referring to just about anyone who has done anything in the past. What does she mean by “buckle up”? She boasts that she has “another 12 months to clean up more remnants”. Was OSS a remnant? What or who is next?

    The mayor is telling us to go away. Volunteers and donors do have choices and will stop supporting the local organizations and the city if they feel they are no longer embraced by the community.

    As always, thanks for shining a light on such an important topic.


  3. Steve lampel says

    You are always a voice of reason. There are not enough of you.

  4. Yvonne Odom says

    Well as a school teacher who much of my career taught “at risk”kids. Many were bullied or bullied. The lesson I hope I taught them that a bully will count on you not responding and to be afraid of them. So my message was always, “ you can take one a … whopping or you can stand up to the bully and trust me they will leave you alone. A bully will count on you doing nothing. Share your story a bully will soon go away only if you “ stand up” “don’t take your ball and go home”. Delray is too important to all of us. Thanks for the way you seen to “ gently” curse without cursing! (Lol).

    • Jeff Perlman says

      What a wonderful comment Mrs. Odom. Thank you for being such an inspirational leader and friend.

    • Christine Davies says

      Hi Yvonne,
      From your next door neighbor at Pine 🌲 Grove. You are my ideal teacher, friend and community leader, awesome Mother, Grandma and friend.
      Chris Carter Davies

  5. Maria A Rosado says

    Great writing as usual.

    Let’s vote.

  6. Terry Persily says

    I sailed into Delray as a sitting member of a school board and an urban geography graduate of Colgate, 25 years ago. I knew how a city was supposed to operate but I had never actually seen such a city. Until I saw Delray.

    It takes money and vision to make a city work. There were towns in Ohio that had vision but no money. Towns down here with money but no vision. Until Delray.

    I met Mayor Perlman. He was the guy with vision and the smarts to recognize that it was his job to maintain the positive direction of our home town. Since then he was the guy to watch to see who he thought would keep Delray on the tracks and vote accordingly. Unfortunately our beach town has derailed.

    Take this beautifully written piece as guidance. I hope everyone reads it. Hope it wasn’t too late.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Dear Terry,
      Thanks so much for the very kind words. They mean an awful lot to me.
      I remember very distinctly meeting you and I was so happy you decided to live here in Delray.
      For me, the best part of the job was the relationships I was able to enjoy and the great people I was able to meet and learn from.
      Thanks so much for making my day. It means the world to me, Jeff

  7. Thank you for these comments Jeff I don’t know if I’m old enough to be in this club yet but I agree with you

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