Wake Up Everybody





What’s happening at Old School Square is a microcosm of what’s been happening in Delray Beach for years now.

So I wasn’t shocked when the City Commission terminated Old School Square’s lease on a 3-2 vote ending a memorable three decade run by the non-profit. The decision was made without allowing OSS or the public to speak on the issue. OSS was not able to defend itself. The item was not on the agenda and the commission and city staff did not consider the ramifications of the decision.
Ready, fire, aim is not a good way to run anything. But it’s a really bad way to run a city.
But I wasn’t surprised. Disappointed for sure. But not surprised. The commission took over the CRA in similar fashion without discussion, public input or even an item on the agenda. It just happened —like that. And we’re supposed to believe there’s no coordination…hmmmm. See me about a bridge I have one for sale.
There’s been a full-press assault on the volunteer class in this city by certain political elements for years now.
It’s bad. It’s personal and it’s getting worse.
The people who give their time, money and loyalty to Delray Beach are being singled out, disparaged and disrespected. The institutions they support are also under fire. First they took over the CRA and now it’s Old School Square’s turn. But groups as disparate as the Beach Property Owners Association and the Northwest Southwest Alliance have also gotten tangled up in the mess. And a vast number of city employees have seem their careers and lives upended and ruined too. Record turnover doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens for a reason.
The problem is the division on the  City Commission and in the community itself. We are locked in a never ending battle that has made a once happy village a very unhappy place for those who want to be involved.
I can go chapter and verse on this subject. But it’s old and it’s tiring.
Let’s just say the nonsense is having real consequences.
We may have just lost the magic that made Old School Square. That magic was a volunteer/donor base that has given millions of dollars and countless hours to the arts for thirty years until they were called corrupt failures and asked to vacate the place they built.
This isn’t merely a management contract we are talking about. These people birthed the idea of Old School Square, they nurtured it, grew it and raised private money to preserve and enhance city buildings.
For decades, they were respected and acknowledged for their contributions and Old School Square was credited for launching the downtown’s renaissance.
When you have such a relationship and such a resource you treasure it. If there’s a problem, a question or a performance issue you sit down with your partners and you work it out.
You don’t take the organization and throw it in the garbage which is what has been done.
Sure, you can find a group or an entity to manage the facility. But it won’t be the same. It’s like when your favorite restaurant gets bought by a chain—it will look the same, but it won’t feel the same. The soul will be gone. And once it’s gone, good luck getting it back.
Friends, you can’t just find people like founder Frances Bourque and a who’s who of civic leaders by doing an RFP. These people loved the place, the mission and the city itself.
That’s what’s being lost here. That’s what’s not understood or respected.
My strong belief is that the issues being used to terminate OSS the entity are being manufactured in an effort to justify a personality conflict by two sides locked in a damaging Cold War.
Many of the issues being alleged are simply not true and were easily proven false by Old School Square’s board. Too bad they weren’t allowed to talk before they were terminated but when you are being set up it doesn’t make sense to let the target speak does it?
Sadly, brand new City Manager Terrance Moore allowed himself to be used to further a political agenda. That taints him in the eyes of many devoted citizens. He made a big mistake and that’s too bad because after 9 managers in a few years time we need him to succeed.
He will need to learn this community because he badly misfired on this important issue.
As an aside, with a pandemic still raging, a budget that needs adoption, positions that need to be filled, a police contract and a hurricane season upon us, it seems like a curious time to pick a fight with OSS. Especially when the organization just produced its biggest concert and landed its biggest ever private donation.
But here we are.
Oh yes, here we are.
We best wake up people. Delray is at stake. This is way bigger than even Old School Square.


  1. Patty Jones says

    Jeff, your words speak so much truth! I hope the Citizens of Delray Beach listen and take action. We are a City of more than just 3. I hope everyone is listening!!!
    Thank you
    Patty Jones

  2. Scott Porten says

    Thank you for writing this. I am disgusted by the vitriol that was spewed at the volunteers and staff, particularly from the Vice Mayor. It was inaccurate, inappropriate and unforgivable. I watched the meeting on the 10th and kept asking myself “why aren’t they talking to OSS?” There was no conversation because facts just get in the way when motivations are personal. City Hall is on fire and apparently our commissioners can’t even smell the smoke. What do we do?

  3. Robert Wieder says

    And you were just on vacation…..wow.
    Great report Jeff….
    Right to the point.

    Lots begin to evolve starting tomorrow….

    This premeditated plan will get Delray awake….
    It has already!!!!
    4700+ petition signatures and counting.

    Sunshine laws offer hope…..
    Your article and voice are spot on…
    Thank you.

  4. Jeff, as usual, you say it better than anybody. This conflict isn’t about a management contract, it isn’t about audits delayed by Covid. It’s a game of Gotcha. It’s using the electoral system (elections have consequences) to undo thousands of hours and millions of dollars of investment devoted to art and culture in order to make Delray mediocre again. For what? To advance a political career? To capture media attention? To fire up the Facebook heroes? To create a short term thrill by defacing a community treasure? When the people behind this unethical power grab claim that we are no longer “the village by the sea”, they’re right. All they have to do is look into the mirror and see why.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Jim your letter was spot on as well. Thanks for sticking with things. You are a courageous soul and it’s appreciated.

  5. Susan Ruby says

    This debacle is so hard to see. OSS was created to provide the City with a space to come together as a community. The actions of this Commission are a stab into the heart of the Delray Community. This Commission has long demonstrated that Community Spirit and Unity are not something they care about. They have not only failed to foster and embrace Community Unity , but have taken actions to kill it. So sad.

  6. Frances Bourque says

    In a commission meeting on July 6, the board of Old School Square stood before the city and presented our ambitious interior plans for the updating and increased program activities with excitement and hope. We shared robust comments with the commissioners introduced our generous donor and invited everyone to the reopening of our entire site on September 23 with a gift to the city of 1,000,000 1/2 dollars in upgrades to the theater building we admitted the last few years without a city liaison consistent leader ship with city managers , A commission less interested after copious invitations to step across the street we all agreed both sides agreed we needed an open and regular dialogue workshops to begin immediately to sit at the table and discuss on both sides the concerns each head moving forward. I personally listened to their concerns though none at that time were very specific and I BEGGED, yes , BEGGED ppl for regular workshops and one to begin immediately. The commission and the city attorney all agreed to do so and SOON, and further agreed BEFORE any important decisions were made on either side , we would proceed with a workshop . Both agreed! OSS cheered and I further asked for a City liaison! They agreed and one was immediately presented! We left with renewed energy! ( continued below)

  7. Gregg Weiss says

    Spot on Jeff

    Had they taken this at least to workshop amd then had public comment, everyone would be able to make decisions on a level playing field ( to the extent one can with this city Commission )

    Please let your followers know they CAN have their voices hear tomorrow during public comments at the special Commission meeting scheduled for 4pm

    Thanks for being a voice of reason and a voice of calm during Delray’s own “hurricane”

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Thanks Gregg and thanks for all you do to raise awareness. Your care for Delray is obvious and appreciated.

  8. Jack Warner says

    How to recover from the current debacle? My advice is to roll back last Tuesday’s vote, instruct the Manager to conduct a thorough review including recommendations for next steps, and make a Commission decision in an open public meeting with the item on the agenda.

  9. Lottie Gatewood says

    Thank you so much Jeff. Your words speak volumes to me. As a long time volunteer at OSS, I also felt that the staff and volunteers helped bring the soul to OSS. I am more than disheartened by the city’s decision. OSS is the heart of our city and one of the reasons why many, including myself moved here. I pray we can resolve this and keep the magic and soul that is Delray!

  10. Chris Davey says

    Nice column. I appreciate and understand the position and history of OSS.

    However, Delray Beach is a very different place today then it was in 1990. In the past 30 years this city has undergone huge changes. What the city needed 30 years ago is vastly different than what it needs now.

    It is clear to me that current leadership at OSS has certainly not kept up with what the City wants and expects. After 30 years, the fact that OSS still needs huge financial support from the City, speaks volumes. Rent for $1/year may still be acceptable. But the city also maintains the property for free and grants 6 or 7 figures a year to Old School Square via the CRA and the City.

    The Jimmy Buffett concert was great, but it was run and managed horribly. I understand one City Commissioner was at the concert three nights, while most City residents were shut out.

    The “no bid” contract for the renovations was awarded to a board member. OSS had to waive their own rules in order to do that. Imagine if the city awarded a 1.5 million dollar no bid contract to one of the Commissioners who owned a construction company. Do you think there would be some public outcry about that?

    The year long delay in providing audits to the City are inexcusable, and frankly they’re laughable. There is nothing more important than the annual audit as far as financial reporting goes for non-profits. Using COVID as an excuse looks like they are reaching for an excuse.

    Let’s also address all the prominent citizens leaving the board. Joy Howell, Brian Cheslack, Jordana Jarjura, the list goes on. There have been 9 resignations from the board this year, including the chair and the vice chair. That ought to tell people something.

    Minority representation on the OSS board is also almost laughable. It’s like 1950’s America on that board. How many African American or Haitian Board Members do they have? It certainly does not look anything like our city.

    Change in life and circumstances is inevitable. It is often uncomfortable. However, I have faith that our elected leaders are doing the right thing long-term. We need to change so that the City asset better represents the entire city and the facility is used in a way that ultimately eliminates the need for a public funds grant or subsidy.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      And a discussion of those issues, some highly debatable would have been good for all. It would have shown respect.
      But in Delray we now seem to skip the important parts and go directly for the jugular. The city has no understanding of the relationships and ramifications of this decision. Change may be inevitable and may or may not be needed. But how you do things is equally important. Tossing good people out with the trash while slandering their reputations is lousy. No amount of lipstick can make that look good.

      • Chris Davey says

        IMO, the behavior on both sides has been poor, but OSS and it’s board take the cake in that regard.

        Not informing and discussing the extensive renovations with the Commission WELL in advance of submitting permit applications is almost unbelievable. What tenant does that to a landlord, let alone one that pays, $1/year in rent?

        Then there are other questions:. What happened to OSS several million dollar endowment? I have heard it is gone. Is that true?

        Did the organization REALLY pay a departing Executive Director $300k as a gift?

        Why are OSS board members trashing a former Chairperson who was in that role 3 or 4 months and a short term Executive Director?

        I also think a lot of people who considered themselves leaders in the city should take a hard look at themselves in the mirror. They are complaining about nastiness and the tone of this matter. Meanwhile, many of these leaders supported Tracy Caruso in what was definitely the nastiest and most vitriolic race in Delray Beach history and likely in Palm Beach County history.

        Also, just my 2 cents, but calling the actions of an elected official unforgivable and subjecting them to vitriolic attacks, kind of forecloses the possibility of an honest and caring discussion.

        Behavior has consequences, and so do elections. People may not like it, but it’s a simple fact of life.

        My grandmother always told me you get more with honey than you do with vinegar.

        The board at OSS should have behaved differently in the past and they should be behaving differently now.

        • Jeff Perlman says

          Chris, I’m not surprised that you are adopting the party line. But while you are a terrific writer, the fact is you are not working with the facts. Rather than refute you point by point, I’ll refer you to the Old School Square Facebook page which lays out the facts not the spin.

          • Jeff Perlman says

            For those interested: 🚨In Response to Mayor Shelly Petrolia’s Email to Her Constituents She Accused Old School Square of Misleading the Public🚨

            Mayor Petrolia stated in her correspondence with our supporters that “the information sent out by the management at OSS is misleading.” We would ask Mayor Petrolia to clarify what was the information OSS shared with our supporters/her constituents that was misleading.

            Mayor Petrolia also stated that her decision to vote to terminate the lease with OSS was made based on a “multitude of issues that surfaced over the past several months.” In an effort to be transparent to the community, below please find a response to each item Mayor Petrolia stated was an issue. We do this so the citizens of Delray Beach can fully understand the alleged issues raised by Mayor Petrolia. The statements and facts listed below are readily supported with actual reporting and financial documents, audits, and correspondence with the City. These documents are available to the public upon written request. OSS is, and continues to be, a completely transparent organization that welcomes and encourages community engagement.

            Mayor Petrolia claims:

            🚨”OSS is in “non-compliance with the lease agreement”🚨

            ➡OSS is in material compliance with the lease and has materially provided all of the financial documentation and auditing information requested as of the date of this response with the exception of the 2020 independent audit, which is in progress. We address this audit issue below. While it is true that there were delays, these delays were the result of circumstances that were beyond OSS’ control.

            🚨”There are “years of missing required financials”🚨

            ➡There are currently no missing financials other than the audit for the year 2020 which is due, per the lease agreement (Article VI- Reporting Commitments, Section 6.1 c. “Not more than one hundred and eighty [180] days after the end of each fiscal year of Lessee during the term of this Lease, an annual audit of Lessee’s business operations, including management letters, and responses to management letters, if any, and Lessee’s annual income tax return [IRS for 990, 990-T or then current equivalent], which shall confirm Lessee has operated and is operating the Premises in compliance with the Operating Commitments.”) The ability to complete the 2020 audit by the due date has been hampered by the effects of COVID-19 and out of our control (auditor timeline below). The original auditors were unable to complete the audit due to COVID-19. Two separate Request for Proposal processes were required to find one that could timely undertake the 2020 audit and provide the audit in a timely manner. After selection of the new auditors, OSS was faced with a delay, yet again, when the new audit team also came down with COVID-19, further delaying the process.

            Here is a breakdown of the auditor issues we’ve experienced for the past year and a half:

            ➡March 2020- OSS’s auditing firm had to furlough the majority of their staff, forcing them to cut their client roster and focus only on their largest, highest paying clients. They decided they would not be able to complete the OSS audit on time, and decided to not undertake further matters.

            ➡March – May 2020 – OSS issued an RFP for a new auditing firm. It took two months to find a firm that could accommodate OSS during the pandemic. Amongst the challenging conditions were a lack of adequate staff, inability to travel or work on-site, and other issues facing the industry at this time.

            ➡May 2020 – Q1 2021 – OSS hired a new auditing firm in the height of the pandemic, but from the start they had issues. The firm requested payment up front, and then advised even though they felt it was critical to work on site/in person, they weren’t comfortable doing field work inside OSS’s offices. OSS offered to upload all financial records to an online portal so the auditors could examine the documents, but due to their auditing guidelines they refused that offer. OSS gave them a deadline for the audit, but they were unable to meet this deadline so OSS was forced to terminate them.

            ➡Q1 2021 – OSS issued a second RFP for an auditing firm during the pandemic.

            ➡June – July 2021 – OSS secured a new auditing team through this RFP process, but the majority of their staff came down with COVID in the midst of the audit, compelling them to temporarily suspend efforts, putting OSS further behind schedule.

            ➡August 2021 – The audit team returned in full health and finalized their draft of the 2019 audit, which was presented to the City Commission prior to the meeting on Aug 10. However that audit was not considered in the final vote that took place that evening, which terminated OSS’s lease. The OSS board of directors has already voted to accept the audit and the final document has already been submitted to the city. The 2020 audit was due at the end of March. Since that audit could not be done until the 2019 audit was completed, it is now in process and is expected within six weeks.

            Beyond this audit, OSS is in material compliance with all reporting documentation.

            🚨”There are “major renovations underway without proper authorization”🚨

            ➡In July 2021, The City and the City Commission took up the “issue surrounding compliance and transparency” by Old School Square, based on misinformation surrounding the organization’s permission to renovate interior spaces within its Crest Theatre building, an historic building on the OSS campus.

            ➡The exact language within that lease states, “Lessee shall provide a sealed set of plans prepared by an architect to Lessor and Lessee shall have received the prior written consent of Lessor, which shall not be unreasonably withheld or delayed. Issuance of a building permit by the City will constitute consent of the Lessor.”, meaning upon issuance of the building permit, OSS had the right to begin construction. A timeline follows:

            🔹The permit was applied for 8/2/19
            🔹The permit was properly issued on 3/9/21
            🔹Construction started on 3/22/21.
            🔹Construction was forced to stop on 8/10/2021 when the City 🔹Commission voted to terminate the OSS lease.

            ➡The planning for the construction project was done openly and included design reviews from the City’s Planning & Zoning Department., Building Department, and Fire Department. In fact, the architect had multiple communications with the Planning and Zoning Dept during the project’s design phase, and the Planning and Zoning Dept signed off on the permitted design.

            ➡Additionally, the City’s claims that they were unaware of this construction project is disproven by the fact that the OSS leadership team and previous board chair led personal tours of the theater with each member of the commission prior to renovation, highlighting along the way exactly what changes to the building they would see upon completion of the renovation project.

            ➡Three months after construction began, the construction team was contacted by representatives of the City, who stated OSS had not provided the City proper notice required under their lease to do renovation work, and that the City had not consented for it to be done. OSS responded by advising that the lease specifically stated that a building permit issued by the City constituted the city’s consent. OSS was then informed that because of a clerical error on the permit application form that left off the city’s name in the space provided for the “fee simple title holder”, there was no consent by the City. This is in spite of the fact that the application error was corrected by the City’s permit clerk during the permit processing, and the permit was properly issued in the name of the City of Delray Beach as Lessor and OSS as Lessee. The fact that the permit was issued in the name of City of Delray Beach as Lessor and OSS as Lessee demonstrates the City’s knowledge and that this really should not have been an issue.

            ➡Nevertheless, OSS was informed that they would need to give a presentation to the City Commission, and the Commission would have to vote to allow construction to continue. In the interim, all work had to stop, which came at a substantial financial cost to OSS. The City would not schedule a presentation for its next commission meeting, so construction stood at a standstill for two weeks until the presentation could be made by the architect, with graphics showing the planned improvements. The commission expressed approval and voted unanimously to proceed with the renovation, so construction began again.

            ➡As part of this “new requirement” the City proposed a lease modification whereby any improvement over the sum of $65k (verify) would need to be approved by the City commission. Again, at the time the permits were issued, nowhere in the Lease did it require City Commission approval for such renovations.

            ➡Within days after the City Commission unanimously voted to proceed with the renovations, the City came back again to say they wanted the contractor’s payment bond to name the City as the owner instead of OSS as owner. (The terms of the payment bond require the “owner” to pay the contractor per contract terms in order for the bonding company to step in and pay vendors should the contractor default. Therefore, OSS was correctly listed as the owner on the bond since it was responsible for paying for the work). This new demand was made even though OSS was also in compliance with bond provision in the lease, which states, “Lessee shall require its contractor to furnish and provide to Lessee and/or Lessor a Material and Labor Payment Bond for the construction of the Lessee Improvements (“Payment Bond”) as required by Section 255.05, Florida Statutes.” Despite the fact that the city’s property was already protected by the bond held by OSS and the city had full assurance of the contractor’s proper performance and no obligations to pay for the work, the City demanded that OSS in its name obtain a bond in name of the City, which if issued would actually place liability on the city. OSS’s attorney and bonding company had a conference call with the City attorney’s office to try to resolve the issue, but the City attorney’s office would not change their position.

            ➡On July 28, OSS was notified that until the bond naming the City was provided, no more inspections would be made by the building dept. To allow construction to begin once again, the contractor was directed to provide a rider which added the City’s name on the bond. That was done and transmitted to the City attorney on Aug 2.

            ➡OSS was sent yet another bond form and told the bond had to be on a different form, and that the City now wanted a bond to be provided by OSS instead of the contractor. Further, they stated OSS had to comply with the City’s Land Development Regulation 2.4.10 which refers to financial guarantees that developers provide to the City when building streets and installing water and sewer systems (clearly not applicable to a building renovation project). This was contrary to the lease stipulation that states, The Payment Bond must be issued by an insurance company or surety company reasonably acceptable to the Lessor and comply with Sections 255.05 and 713.23, Florida Statutes.” The City’s subdivision bond does not comply with these Florida Statutes.

            ➡Even if we WERE building a subdivision, our options for payment as per Section 2.4.10, allow the financial guarantee to be provided by either by 1) a surety bond, 2) depositing cash into the city’s bank account, or 3) providing a letter of credit. Again, to try to satisfy the city, OSS offered to put 100% of the balance of the construction funds in the city’s escrow account. This offer was refused by the City attorney’s office despite being allowed by 2.4.10 of the LDR.

            ➡Not only are all of these requests not required as per OSS’s lease with the City, but none of them were required in the previous construction project on OSS’s campus, which was conducted on their museum just a few years ago.

            🚨”There are issues by the city’s internal auditor revealed a lack of diversity in programming”🚨

            ➡We provided a diversity report that illustrated exactly the opposite, which we are happy to share directly to anyone that requests it, but here are the key facts regarding OSS’s diversity in programming:

            ➡Social Cause Arts– OSS produced BLM promotions to support our community at a time of severe social unrest. The Museum also celebrated Black History Month by creating videos featuring two African American artists that are involved with the museum, discussing their inspiration and why their art is important culturally.

            ➡Free “Amplified” virtual concert series- OSS produced and filmed 23 and counting live performances of various acts on the Crest Theatre stage, with the intention to begin introducing music back to our community during a time where local, state, and government restrictions forbid live performance with an audience or gathering. Each of the released concerts obtained a local viewership of 40,000 in addition to our national distribution streaming these concerts to 40 states for a total viewership of 15 million.

            ➡Summer Camp– Created a virtual summer children’s camp with South Florida Children’s Theater.

            ➡Community Programming- When the City was unable to hold the holiday village due to the pandemic, OSS Director of the Cornell Art Museum curated a contemporary holiday art exhibition that included work from artists from Louisiana, Florida, New York, and Santa Fe on an almost non-existent budget.

            ➡Arts Adaptation– OSS Director & Curator of the Cornell Art Museum is participating in virtual training sessions sponsored by other institutions – artsy, the AAMC and Art Basel, focused on adapting exhibitions in a socially-distanced world, digital engagement, and diversity and inclusion through the arts.

            ➡Hunger Relief- Participated in Palm Beach County Food Bank’s Empty Bowls to promote awareness for hunger in the Delray community. OSS is hosting their VIP appreciation event in November and has helped them in past years as well, creating a display of artist-created bowls to sell through the OSS store to benefit them.

            ➡Childhood Literacy- partnered with Page Turner Adventures to create 127 hours of episodes – reaching 600 libraries nationwide in 40 states, equating to roughly 600,000 students. OSS also gave that program in its entirety to all of the Delray Beach Schools for free (total give: $50,000 in retail value).In 2020 we continued our partnership increasing our programs to include STEAM/STEM programming, Social Emotional, Stress Reduction techniques for students and teachers, Test Taking strategies, Arts & Crafts, Storytelling and the creation of a virtual musical performance utilizing South Florida Children’s Theatre actors and actresses. The 2020 program added another 150+ hours of programming reaching over 1,500 libraries nationwide, equating to roughly 2.5 million students.

            City of Delray Beach, Florida Government: If our diversity in programming needs to be further discussed, let’s review some of the various artists and entertainment we have produced for our patrons and community. Here is a listing of some of our most recent artists.

            National Names:

            🔹 Tito Puente Jr.
            🔹 Gloria Gaynor
            🔹 Mary Gaines Bernard (Donna Summer’s Sister)
            🔹 The Wailers
            🔹 Julian Marley
            🔹 Vanilla Ice
            🔹 2 Live Crew
            🔹 DJ Laz
            🔹 Stevie B!
            🔹 Collie Buddz
            🔹 Nattali Rize
            🔹 The Havana Cuba All-Stars
            🔹 Tony Succar
            🔹 Taj Mahal

            Local Artists:

            🔹 Roosevelt Collier
            🔹 Jay Blue Band
            🔹 Los Wizzards
            🔹 Xperimento
            🔹 The Resolvers
            🔹 Jason Joshua and The Beholders

            🚨There is a “lack of semi-annual reporting”🚨

            ➡Old School Square reports quarterly to the CRA

            ➡We have turned in our internal reports from 2015-2021 to the City for use as our quarterly reporting

            🚨That “a current board member (absent any bid process) is performing the $1.4 Million renovation”🚨

            ➡100% of the funds for the renovation were provided by a private donor, NOT city tax dollars. The donor exercised her right to stipulate the contractor to be used, and it is perfectly legal to do so.

            ➡OSS has a conflict of interest policy to protect OSS’ interest when it is contemplating entering into a transaction or arrangement that might benefit the private interest of an officer or director. When any potential conflict of interest arises, the policy sets out a procedure for the board’s consideration. This procedure includes a formal board discussion of the disinterested directors (without the presence of the interested party) to determine whether the transaction or arrangement is in the Organization’s best interest, for its own benefit. This procedure was followed by the board of directors. The board voted unanimously to approve. OSS has already provided the meeting minutes to the City that confirms a conflict of interest vote was taken, and the donor attended the July 13 City Commission meeting and told the Mayor and all of the commissioners this herself.

            🚨A “$300,000 golden parachute was allegedly given to a former OSS director (verification pending)”🚨

            ➡There has NEVER been a “golden parachute” given to anyone at Old School Square.

            ➡Old School Square has never paid $300K to a director.

            🚨Old School Square “pays no rent, is not responsible for building maintenance, grounds upkeep or major system repairs or replacement (a/c, plumbing, etc) and is additionally subsidized by $750,000 in tax dollars annually. A few years ago, that figure was $900,000.”🚨

            ➡The $9 million dollars in “subsidies” referenced above includes $2 million the city has spent on capital improvements to the city owned buildings.

            ➡As per OSS’s lease agreement, the City is responsible for building maintenance, grounds upkeep or major system repairs or replacement (a/c, plumbing, etc). This has been part of our agreement for the past 30 years. They are the City’s buildings and the CIty’s grounds and upkeep of 100-year-old buildings is not cheap, but absolutely necessary for both safety and maintenance purposes.

            ➡The remaining “subsidies,” referenced are not hand-outs- they are GRANTS that we apply for and are granted annually. The grants provided are investments in the community that have been made by the CRA over the last 18 years through because the programs they support further the mission of the CRA. The grant funds offset some of the costs of putting on those programs. These CRA Grants provide less than 25% of OSS’s annual operating budget. Other revenues are derived from sponsorships (up 550.677% YOY), ticket sales, food and beverage, and fundraising, and outside cultural grants (NOT funded through City taxpayer dollars).

            ➡In addition to OSS, the City provides similar grants to the Spady Museum, the Delray Beach Historical Society, the Delray Beach Public Library, the Arts Garage, the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, and the Delray Beach Community Land Trust.

            ➡The City has failed to mention that OSS has raised millions of dollars in private funds to renovate the campus buildings, which will ultimately significantly save the city on maintenance and system repairs costs since, through those private funds, we are covering the cost of new, modernized and updated systems.

            So yes, as per our 30 year lease agreement with the city, we do receive subsidies, as has always been the case. But that cannot be stated without understanding that Old School Square is Delray Beach’s greatest economic development driver, responsible for over $100M of economic activity in Delray Beach annually. (sourced from the Americans for The Arts, Arts and Economic Prosperity Study)

            ➡The $1 per year rent is an original term that has been in place since we began our lease agreement on July 31st, 1989.

            ➡We don’t simply see the city as a crutch. Here are a few recent accomplishments as it pertains to fiscal responsibility, revenue growth, and income generation for the city:

            🔹Sponsorship- YOY, OSS is up 550.677% in sponsorships from 2020, YTD for 2021 (we received $37,175k in sponsorship dollars 2020, and have received $206,590k YTD in 2021).

            🔹CRA Grant- OSS satisfied their Pavilion Performance metrics of the CRA grant by the 3rd Qtr. of 2021

            🔹Expenses- Their overall expenses were down 13.5% in 2020, which continues into 2021. Immediate savings have been over $150k per month.

            🔹Music Series- OSS secured 105 bookings in both Crest Theater and The Pavilion, since Oct 2020. This includes two periods of forced interruption on bookings while contracting policies were revisited, and still is more than 150% more than a typical year’s bookings.

            🔹Virtual Studios- Immediately created a Green Screen Studios and White Infinity Site Wall as a means to both produce and present content for their own productions during COVID, but also to create a new source of revenue during the pandemic by marketing the space as a rental opportunity (HSM signed on for 60 episodes, Honda Classic training video, etc.)

            🔹Attendance/Ticket Revenues- OSS Ticket Revenue goal for 2021 was 75k and they are already 1600% above YTD (by third quarter of 2021). Attendance goal for Pavilion was 3,000, and they were 775% over goal in the first three quarters of 2021.

            🚨“I am of the opinion, Old School Square should be a huge success, using fewer tax dollars while creating opportunities to bring people to the arts.”🚨

            ➡The City will need to start from the ground up with empty, vacant buildings in order to even begin to attempt to rebuild what has taken us thirty years to create here, and that will come with a hefty price tag. Where do you think those funds will come from?

            ➡The millions in private funds we have received to do the recent and ongoing renovations at OSS will need to be returned to the donor that bestowed the funds to our organization. Those funds were raised by, and given to, OSS the organization. The City will have to find a way to pay for the renovations to the museum and theater- which were previously fully funded with private dollars. Where do you think those funds will come from?

            ➡If you were concerned about how your tax payer dollars supported OSS before, we encourage you to stay on top of how this decision will impact city tax payers to sustain and rebuild this campus.

            🚨“People should feel welcome, many don’t”🚨

            ➡OSS strongly disagrees with this opinion statement, and we would say our community does as well. In fact, the majority of Delray residents see OSS as the “heart and soul” of their city, and a place where the community comes together for good times and bad, a place of support, a place of comfort. If there was any truth to the fact that people didn’t feel welcome here, why would the city choose to bring their 9/11 remembrance, Pulse NightClub, Marjory Stoneman Douglas rallies, Black Lives Matters rallies, and so many other important occasions that allow the community to come together in support of one another, to our grounds!?

            🚨“The management at OSS is in need of an adjustment/overhaul and that’s exactly what I anticipate will happen following the decision made on Tuesday evening”🚨

            ➡Old School Square IS Old School Square Center for The Arts, Inc. OSS does not exist without us. We are the very entity that saved the campus from being completely demolished 30 years ago by creating an organization to manage and operate it. We BROUGHT Old School Square to the vacant campus, along with ALL of the arts, culture, education, entertainment and community programming that exists there today. Everything our visitors and community members experience at OSS is because of our organization- the city has nothing to do with it.

            ➡Our Organization was the catalyst for downtown redevelopment, at a time in the mid/late 80’s when our Downtown was nearly entirely boarded up.

            ➡Additionally, every asset within the campus belongs to OSS. It is not as simple as a “new management” team. The City will need to start from the ground up with empty, vacant buildings in order to even begin to attempt to rebuild what has taken us thirty years to create here. This is not “fresh management,” this is a complete rebuild of what took us 30 years to create and constantly improve upon.

    • Anne Gannon says

      This is whining at its best, misrepresentation of the facts and lies. Get all the facts

  11. Dan Cahill says

    Thanks for the insight. As someone just learning about this issue, I find the lack of information and dialogue from the city, city manager and city commission completely unprofessional

  12. My heart is broken – so much love and sweat has been put into this city over the years and our success has been brightly visible to all and OSS has consistently been at the center.

    The cavalier fashion in which the OSS non-profit has been dumped is shameful and not remotely in keeping with the inclusive nature of how Delray was managed over the last 30 years – just shamefu!

  13. Thanks, Jeff, for your excellent insight, as always. I, too, have been on vacation, just returning and trying to catch up on this important issue.

    Putting all emotions aside, there is a legal and binding Lease in place. As a Commercial Realtor for 30+ years, I know from experience that most commercial Leases include a clause where the Landlord must actually declare a default, in writing, to the Tenant, then give the Tenant time to cure – usually 30 days. I was at the July meeting where OSS was discussed and was given the opportunity to speak – and Frances, of course, was so eloquent – and I don’t recall any default in the Lease being declared, nor do I recall a default notice being given in writing to OSS. Please correct me if I am wrong since I don’t sit on the OSS Board but I believe this is correct.

    In the rare instance where the Commercial Lease does not have a default clause and remedy provision, the court tasked with judging the proposed Lease Termination will insist on one.

    Jeff, you know better than most that Leaders need to pick their battles. And then they should pick the ones they know they can win. The Residents – who are the Voters and Volunteers who make this City so Wonderful – are speaking loud and clear on this issue and it is obvious the City Commission will lose on this one – either now and/or at the polls in the next election….

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Christina I think there will be legal action taken and I do believe there will be consequences come election time.

  14. Georgia Deese says

    This just burns me to no end! I’m a 7th generation born and raised in Delray, I can remember vividly when OSS was empty, needing repairs and sad. The theater back then was even run down. Who in the WORLD thought it was a good idea to allow people to be on the board if they hadn’t been living in the city for a min of 10 yrs? I used to run wild on the Ave as long as I checked in with my godfather Maury. Ernie’s, The Annex, Power’s Lounge, The Frog are ALL gone with very few people remembering they even excised at all! The Jaycee Haunted Houses we did EVERY YEAR for over a decade! The parades and helping out get them running on route. All those memories are tarnished by a few bad apples being greedy!

  15. Mitch Katz says


    Without taking any sides on this debate, I will say you should at least be honest when pointing out other decisions. You know that your statement “The commission took over the CRA in similar fashion without discussion, public input or even an item on the agenda.” is a complete false statement.
    Commissioner Johnson made a motion at during the commissioner comments section of a meeting (yes late at night) to bring the item to a regular commission meeting. As you know this is the only way to get the item added to an agenda so that it can be voted on and discussed is to ask for consensus during this section of the meeting. The vote to disband the CRA board took place at a meeting where it was the first item on the agenda after public comment with a 4-1 vote. I understand that spreading lies and misinformation is part of your political strategy, but this statement is an outright lie.

    When you ask in your blog after blog, why is there so much discourse, maybe just maybe some self reflection will help. I served my city for three years on the dais and endured three solid years of personal and professional attacks from you and your cronies. That’s ok, as unfortunately it comes with the job.

    In a recent blog you wrote about “empathy and tenderness”, yet you supported and campaigned for a mayoral candidate that ran the nastiest most deceitful campaign in the history of not only Delray but possibly any South Florida city. That campaign made the old NY or Chicago campaigns of years ago look like Disney. Then when a supporter of the Mayor wrote that she missed the Jeff who was the best example of “empathy and tenderness” that she saw a few months earlier Yet when her comments were taken out of context and two commissioners that you support decided to publicly malign and attack her you sat back and said nothing even though you had already had a personal lengthy exchange with this person and you both ended that conversation with empathy towards each other. But yes publicly speaking would not have helped your political motives and we all know that’s what really matters.

    Now we have a new City Manager who was simply doing his job by communicating an action taken by the majority of the city commission and since you and your cronies don’t agree with that decision, a full assault has been launched against him. He hasn’t even warmed up his seat yet and you wonder why there is such turnover at city hall. I think and hopeful that he has the will and character to ensure the assaults that you and your cronies are launching.

    The possibly most important thing I have learned from being in public service is that we are far from perfect and occasionally we must be willing to admit it.

    Next time you ask yourself, why all the discourse, maybe just maybe some self reflection will help you find the answer.

    Please continue to stay safe.

    Mitch Katz

    • Jeff Perlman says

      You’re right.
      I’ve been reflecting..
      My criticism is way out of whack. Your friends on the commission are truly hitting it out of the park. I’m just blind to it.
      Instability on the staff is good—new blood. Litigation is good—for attorneys anyway. And they are people too.
      The events, tennis tournaments and Old School Square don’t make Delray special they are merely expenses with lots of impact on the locals.
      Oh and everyone knew about the CRA coup. I forgot the reams of public meetings and consultations with people who may know a thing or two. My bad.
      And while I can’t think of anything that has been fixed at City Hall I’m just negative and critical.
      I get that you didn’t take a position on OSS’ termination. You are in a tough spot: if you buck your team they will be mad at you.
      What a profile in courage.
      So sit it out and shame on me for issuing an opinion. I need to let the best people in town, the people who built Delray and attracted people like you and others get the beat down they deserve.
      I’m reflecting on how I can present a happy face when I see good people’s careers destroyed. They had it coming I suppose. And as for volunteers and donors—screw em. They must want something from the City.
      Thanks for making me reflect and stiffening my resolve to speak truth to power. The truth is they consistently step in and it and you consistently defend them. Shame on you.
      My agenda is progress. What’s yours? When you “served” your colleague felt compelled to light you up for your nasty,
      Immature and unprofessional behavior. It was the worst beat down of a commmissioners I’ve ever seen. And it was deserved too.
      Oops, there I go again. This may take a while. There’s just so much to ignore. I’m truly sorry if the truth offends you.
      Yours in service, Jeff.

  16. Thanks for the article, Jeff.
    It’s so well written and succinct that I have forwarded it to several people.
    While the City throws loaded abstracted words like lease compliance, contracts, etc, what is conveniently omitted is PEOPLE.
    The staff at Old School Square has met challenge after challenge with grit and dedication, even during COVID, putting their customer base at the forefront.
    The Board has shifted with the challenges, but every board member I know has tried hard to serve, as well. It all boils down to people. And people make mistakes.
    This isn’t rocket science. It can still be resolved by honest dialogue on both parts, in private or public. When so much is at stake:
    Is it too much too ask to just sit down and talk?

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Thank you for all you do.
      The people have been discarded for politics. This is about power, revenge and control.
      I believe it is the worst decision in the modern history of Delray.

      • Kevin Warner says

        Boy, I sure do wish Delray Beach. It’s only been a couple of years since we left, but there’s a hole in my heart for all the goodness there. Good luck everyone.

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