Manjarres Mayhem and Deutch Deceit? Weird Congress Race


The congressional race in Florida’s 22nd district is getting weird. Incumbent Ted Deutch, a West Boca resident, recently sent a misleading e-mail to his supporters referencing prospective challenger Javier Manjarres. Manjarres is a Republican living in Fort Lauderdale.

Continue reading “Manjarres Mayhem and Deutch Deceit? Weird Congress Race”

3 Common Sense Reforms for School Security


Since the Parkland shooting there has been a lot of talk about how to make our schools safer. Instead of getting into standard gun control or gun rights talking points, here are three common sense ideas that would actually make our schools safer and could actually get done if people got behind them.
1. We need a better process for putting dangerous kids on the list for background checks. Almost anyone who looks at the Parkland shooter’s history sees that he should not have been able to legally buy or possess a gun. Broward officials in the school district, DCF, and Sheriff’s office knew enough that they should have done something, but it’s not that easy to get it done.
If a school, county agency, or law enforcement sees a kid who repeatedly demonstrates violent behavior, there should be a way of flagging them so that they show up on a background check. The main background check system, known as NICS, is federal and run by the FBI. So fixing this requires Congress to act, and then requires local and state entities to follow through.
Any such change would need to address due process. The kid and his family should be notified that he is being put on the list, and have the right to a hearing. And there should be reasonable standards – one minor scuffle in third grade shouldn’t be enough put a kid on the list.
There would be some resistance to this idea from the extremes of the gun rights community. I’ve already been yelled at for this. But I’m pretty extreme and I think we should do this. I don’t think the NRA would oppose this and I’m not sure the more radical Gun Owners of America would either.
While I’m on this subject, I suggest that every parent ask their kids if they know of anyone in their school whose history is in any way similar to the Parkland shooter. The odds are that there are one or more like him in most schools. If you find out there is such a kid, do something about it. Talk to other kids and parents. Talk to the school.
2. This one will get a lot of readers angry but take a breath and read the whole thing. You still might like #3. Someone with a concealed carry license can carry a concealed firearm in toy stores, on playgrounds, in malls and restaurants, in concerts and almost everywhere you and your kids go. But in schools they can’t legally protect themselves and those around them.
So let responsible, licensed adults carry concealed in schools. In Florida this would require the state legislature to eliminate exceptions 9 and 10 in Section 790.06(12)(a).
Many readers will not like this. Right now you have several arguments bouncing around in your head. Every single one of them applies equally in the settings mentioned above, where “good guys” are allowed to carry guns. This is just common sense.
People are calling Coach Feis a hero. That’s nice. But if Coach Feis had been carrying a pistol he might have stopped the shooting and saved a lot of lives.
In a typical high school there are roughly 100 adults. If 10% of them carry concealed, that’s an extra 10 people who can stop a shooter. Adding one police officer or security guard doesn’t come close.
Now to be clear, what I’m suggesting would not require any extra training or special approval from anyone, and no one is forced to carry. There are other proposals out there that would require school or sheriff approval and substantial training. I don’t think that’s the best way because it would cost a lot and reduce the number of people ready to protect our kids. A reasonable compromise might be something like an 8-hour course on the special circumstances of carrying in a school.
This idea is unlikely to happen. Gun control leaders will blindly and angrily refuse to consider it because they’re not really interested in common sense steps that would make our kids safer. They just want to ban guns wherever they can.
3. There are longstanding and mostly positive movements in education where kids with special needs are not removed from the general student body, commonly known as “mainstreaming” or “inclusion”. Those two are not identical but the idea is that these kids will do better in life if they spend all or most of their time with regular students. In the past they were more likely to be sent to special schools or special classes within the schools. For most kinds of special needs, mainstreaming and/or inclusion are great.
Violent kids are different. They should not be mainstreamed. They should not be included with the general student body. We had our own personal experience with this a few years ago. Our kid wasn’t hurt but a friend’s kid was. We (four lawyer parents) fought like hell to get the dangerous kid out and we succeeded. It shouldn’t have been that hard.
The Parkland shooter was trouble since elementary school. The district knew. The teachers knew. The county knew. The sheriff knew. He was kept in regular schools and he was bullied. He got in fights, one video of which was widely publicized a couple days ago. That kid should have been in a special school getting special attention for his problems. It would have been better for him and a lot better for everyone else.
This is another area where we have to assure due process. But the pendulum has swung too far. We need to make it easier to remove violent kids from the general school population.
Closing Thoughts
For those who are really concerned about saving lives, we could start with our own foreign policy. We have troops in 177 countries and we’re bombing 7 countries. Our government is killing lots of innocent people. Does anyone remember when people opposed our government doing that?
We could also end the drug war. Sure you can say we’ve only tried it for 104 years (since the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914) and it’ll start working soon. But maybe, just maybe, it’s time to recognize that prohibitions don’t work and increase crime.
That leaves my favorite issue – roundabouts. Carmel Indiana converted over 100 intersections to roundabouts. Traffic fatalities fell by 80% while they went up in neighboring Indianapolis. We can save lives by making our roads safer. Those lives matter too.

Lessons from Hurricane Irma: 1. Roundabouts

West Boca News has often advocated for roundabouts. Hurricane Irma showed us another advantage. When the power went out so did traffic lights, and our intersections became chaotic nightmares. Roundabouts are unaffected by power outages.
In general they’re safer and more efficient than regular intersections. Carmel Indiana converted over 100 intersections to roundabouts and saw “a 40% decrease in accidents, with an 80% decrease in injury-causing crashes and90% reduction in fatalities.” By comparison its non-roundabout neighbor Indianapolis saw: “a 30 percent increase in accidents with injury and a 16 percent increase in accidents resulting in a fatality ….”
I was discussing this with a friend who lives south of Glades off Lyons. FDOT is in the middle of a $1.8 million dollar project on Lyons. The main problem was the high volume of serious accidents at or near the intersection on Lyons with Escondido Way, the entrances to Escondido and Timbers of Boca. The so-called solution: straighten the curves and bank the roadway. Not only does this fail to address the intersection itself, but it will allow traffic on Lyons to go faster, making the intersection even more dangerous.
FDOT was more concerned with cars going off the road due to excessive speed on the curves, but their crash analysis did not break down severity by type of accident. Anyone who drives there knows that making a left turn onto Lyons there from either side is uncomfortable at best.
It is well known that roundabouts make intersections safer, but FDOT and our local politicians ignore that. Instead FDOT is increasing the speed of traffic entering an intersection known to be dangerous.
Below are a series of images showing what the intersection of Lyons and Escondido would look like with a Carmel roundabout superimposed on it. The images and map data are from Google Maps.




Many of our readers dismiss roundabouts with quick responses. Let’s be clear – Carmel Indiana saw a 90% reduction in traffic fatalities by converting many intersections to roundabouts. You can only oppose roundabouts if you want more people to die. Roundabouts save lives.

Would Aaron Rajman Still Be Alive If Aronberg Had Done His Job?

State Attorney Dave Aronberg

We have been critical of State Attorney Dave Aronberg in the past. One of the reasons is his office’s failure to aggressively prosecute dangerous criminals, which is the reason for this article.
Aaron Rajman, image from a July post on his Facebook page.

In this case it’s about the death of West Boca’s Aaron Rajman. Rajman was murdered, shot in July in a home in Sandalfoot Cove. One of the men arrested for the murder is Roberto Ortiz. Of course all accused are innocent until proven guilty.
Roberto Ortiz mugshots: Left is his mugshot from a January 2017 arrest for robbery with a firearm. Right is the mugshot from yesterday’s homicide arrest.

Back in January Ortiz was arrested for robbery with a firearm. According to the probable cause affidavit, Ortiz attacked and robbed a student.
Part 1 of the police description from the January Ortiz probable cause affidavit.

He and another man approached three students who were walking home from their school bus stop. The other man had a handgun, and fired it in the general direction of one of the victims. Both of them kicked and punched that victim, and Ortiz allegedly searched his pockets.
Part 2 of the probable cause affidavit.

One of the other victims had video of the incident. Both Ortiz’ high school principal and Ortiz’ mother identified him from the video. Ortiz then admitted he was at the scene and attacked the victim.
In other words, if the probable cause affidavit is accurate Aronberg’s office had compelling evidence that Ortiz had committed a violent crime. Which makes it hard to understand why they dropped the case against Ortiz in less than two weeks.

Our regular readers may remember the case of Brett Knowles, a Boca Isles resident who hit three pedestrians on US-441 near West Boca Medical Center while driving on a suspended license. Aronberg’s office stalled on the prosecution. His office had repeatedly let Knowles off easy on charges of driving while suspended. Their failure to fully prosecute him left a dangerous driver on the road with an attitude and led to serious injuries.
Now we have a case of a violent criminal who participated in a shooting, was released by Aronberg’s office, and then went on to commit murder.
We requested their file on the old Ortiz case and asked for an explanation, though we doubt his office will cooperate (no response in over 24 hours). In the past they’ve told us that they “do not comment on open cases”, but of course Aronberg has already commented on this open case.
E-mail from media relations at “sa15.org” – Dave Aronberg’s office.

It should be noted that somehow West Boca News was not included on the distribution list for Aronberg’s press release. Some people think it’s inappropriate for politicians to play favorites with the media, but we’re used to it.
Other details worth noting from this case:
1. Summer Church was also arrested and charged with murder and robbery. Ms. Church is a 16-year-old student at Olympic Heights High and a former student at Loggers’ Run Middle School. The Post interviewed her mom, who said that she was forced at gunpoint to call Rajman and was let out of the car before they reached the house. The mom also claims that she cooperated extensively with police.
2. Ortiz is or was a student at Quantum High School in Boynton Beach. Quantum is referred to by one media outlet as an “alternative” school. That may mean it’s an alternative to jail for some of its students. The school test scores are some of the worst in the county.
3. Swinton has a reported address in Margate but may live in Boynton Beach. It appears he attended Don Estridge Middle School and may be a Boynton Beach High student. Swinton and Church may have been dating.
Jace Swinton from Facebook

4. The cases for Church and Ortiz are in the court system, though certain documents are not available yet and it’s not clear what will be in the ones that are in process. Swinton’s case does not show up in the court system yet but his arrest record is in the PBSO blotter.
Jace Swinton mugshot from PBSO

Opinion: Avossa Misleads Public on Charter Funding Law

This article is an opinion piece.

Superintendent Robert Avossa of the Palm Beach County School District; image copyright Warren Redlich

A few days ago the Palm Beach County School District issued a misleading press release. The release falsely suggested that recent state legislation could negatively affect the district’s credit.
It led with this big headline:

HB 7069 Could Result in Credit Downgrade

This headline was followed by this opening sentence:

Stable credit ratings for the School District of Palm Beach County and other large school districts could be at risk …

Referring to a recent statement by Moody’s, a credit rating agency, Superintendent Avossa was quoted in the press release:

“This independent analysis by Moody’s highlights one of our real concerns with this new law – the financial effect that it will have on our District, and on school districts throughout Florida,” said Dr. Robert Avossa, Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent.

These scary statements are objectively false when it comes to our school district. Even if the claims are true that the district would lose $230 million to charter schools over the next 10 years, that number is dwarfed by the $1.3 billion the district claims will be raised by the so-called Penny Tax that was approved by voters in November.
Moody’s most recent rating of the district was in September of 2016, meaning any reevaluation of the district’s credit would take into account a net gain of over $1 billion.
It is true that Moody’s suggested the charter funding law could affect credit ratings for some districts. But that statement did not take the Penny Tax into account. Avossa and the district staff all know about that tax increase and that there is no credit rating risk for our district.
We contacted the district to give them a chance to explain and defend this. The response from Leanne Evans, Treasurer is below. We do not find this satisfactory but readers can form their own conclusions.

HB 7069 requires the District to share the capital outlay tax revenue on a per student basis. The calculation takes the full amount of the capital tax revenue then deducts the amount the District needs for debt service (principal, interest and fees) based on debt outstanding on 3/1/17. The District’s capital plan assumes the taxable values will increase annually at an average of 4.5%, so the base amount to be shared will increase annually. At the same time, the District is paying off debt so the amount of debt service will decline. With those two variables, the amount we expect to provide to charters will range from $10.6 million in FY18 up to $32.7 million in FY27. The expected loss of $230 million over ten years assumes the percentage of students attending charters in Palm Beach County remains constant. If that percentage changes, the amount transferred to charters will also change.
The sales tax is dedicated to specific projects over the next ten years. Most of the sales tax money will be used for deferred maintenance and school buses. It will allow us to catch up on work that was postponed during the financial downturn and when the legislature reduced the District’s taxing authority by 25%. There is other work in the District’s capital plan that was to be funded with other funds, mainly local property taxes. This includes ongoing maintenance work so the sales tax would not be needed at the end of 10 years. The loss of $230 million is significant and will jeopardize that plan. The District is working to revise the capital plan and clearly identify the reductions that will be needed due to HB 7069.
Moody’s Investor Service issued the comment to advise investors of the challenges that all Florida School Districts will face due to HB 7069. The revenue stream used to make debt service payments is now less predictable. Additionally, they are concerned about the ability to provide the ongoing maintenance, technology and transportation for students. As revenues are reduced, they consider this to be “credit negative” just as an individual’s credit score may be reduced if they experience a pay cut. The School District of Palm Beach County is fortunate to have the support of the community, as demonstrated by the approval of the sales tax. We expect Moody’s and the other rating agencies will take that into account when they review our credit rating later this year but also expect they will question our ability to properly maintain our buildings when the sales tax expires in 2026.

We also reached out to West Boca’s school board representative, Frank Barbieri. We were told he was unavailable for comment.

Say No to Johns Glades West – aka Uptown Boca

Update – The new developer is calling it Uptown Boca.

Image of Johns Glades West from zoning application

We took a hard look at the Johns Glades West proposal and we’re opposed. The Palm Beach County Commission approved this on April 26th. It might be too late to do anything about it, but we suggest you contact Commissioner Mary Lou Berger.
You can call her at 561-355-2205, or e-mail her at MBerger@pbcgov.org.
Developers plan to build a very dense project on the south side of Glades Road. The front on Glades would be a fairly large commercial plaza including a grocery store, a theater, restaurants and more.

Here’s the developer’s depiction of what it will look like:

The back part of the project is more disturbing and completely out of character for West Boca. It would include seven five-story buildings with over 450 apartments.

County zoning staff wrongly concluded this fits in with the existing development around it.
“Staff Analysis: The proposed amendment is consistent with the character and development pattern of the surrounding communities, which can be characterized as a built development pattern with higher density and higher intensity.”
This is ridiculous. Yes it’s true that the nearby commercial plazas are similar to the commercial part of the proposal. But neither Westwinds nor Shadowood have housing at all, much less 5-story towers packed with 10 apartments per floor.
Nothing around it would be nearly this dense. Look at this image:

The residential neighborhoods to the north, east, and southwest are far less dense with much more greenery. Same with the Jewish Federation campus to the south. Residents of Palma Vista, to the southwest, have legitimately complained about the R2 building (lower left) which will tower over the homes in the northeast end of their neighborhood.
The developer is seeking 12 residential units per acre for the whole 38 acres of the site, but that the county is ignoring the fact that half of those acres would be used for commercial space. So they’re really getting 24 residential units per acre.
There’s no space for trees, grass, etc., allotting less than two acres for a lake. All those hard surfaces with no green space means big stormwater runoff problems.
The apartment complex will consist of over 450 tiny apartments (we estimate an average size of 800 square feet) with minimal amenities. There isn’t even a pool in the plan.

Reading through the details of the submission (see pdf below) we see numerous agencies referencing their ability to handle the project at 300 residential units, with some saying that density would be a problem and others indicating issues. But the proposal is 450+ units, not just 300.

Johns Glades West

PDF Johns Glades West – Uptown Boca

For one thing, with 300 units it still fails the long range traffic test.

In other words it will create long term traffic problems on Glades Road, Lyons Road, and US-441.
According to the school district it will overcrowd Eagles Landing Middle School, and add a significant burden to both Olympic Heights and Sandpiper Shores. We all know how great the traffic is at Sandpiper Shores already.
Did you realize what the county was allowing to happen? Do you feel that Mary Lou Berger, your representative, communicated sufficiently with you about this?
Before writing this article we reached out to Ms. Berger and Ms. Scarborough. They did not respond.

Sonic Judgment, Posse Comitatus and Public Notice

F-15; U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Rogers

Shortly before 7 pm Friday night many thousands of South Florida residents were startled by a loud noise that shook homes from Weston to Wellington.
West Boca News received dozens of messages, calls, text messages along with hundreds of comments from readers. We were unable to find solid answers for hours.
Some local officials put out short, vague notices. The Broward Sheriff was particularly confusing:

A military event could mean a lot of things – an attack on our country, a coup, a training exercise, etc.
This morning we did find a release from NORAD that seems credible.

A pair of Air Force F-15s … intercepted an unresponsive general aviation aircraft near the Palm Beach, Fla., area at approximately 7 p.m. EST.
The intercept required the Air Force F-15s from Homestead Air National Guard Base to travel at supersonic speeds, a sound noticed by area residents, to get to the general aviation aircraft where they were able to establish communications.

This leaves us with two concerns about the judgment of whoever made the decision to go supersonic.
First, was it necessary and appropriate?

Air Force procedures require that, whenever possible, flights be over open water, above 10,000 feet and no closer than 15 miles from shore. Supersonic operations over land must be conducted above 30,000 feet or, when below 30,000 feet, in specially designated areas approved by Headquarters United States Air Force, Washington, D.C., and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Going supersonic is not something the Air Force is supposed to take lightly. Moreover, military operations within the borders of the United States are supposed to be limited by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
The reports are that the sonic booms started in Weston and continued to somewhere near Boynton Beach or Wellington. That’s in the ballpark of 40 miles. At 750 mph (just below the speed of sound) a plane would travel that distance in just over 3 minutes. At 1500 mph an F15 would get there in half the time. Going supersonic got them there perhaps 90 seconds quicker.
We would like to give the Air Force the benefit of the doubt and hope that yesterday’s decision was correct under the circumstances. But that leads to our second concern.
If they’re going to rattle homes over a 40 mile densely populated stretch, alarming over 100,000 people, they should let us know what happened immediately. We heard numerous reports of distress, including police coming out of their stations with guns drawn, children crying, 911 calls overwhelming the operators, and neighbors rushing outside their homes and getting to know each other.
NORAD should have plans in place to notify local law enforcement and media when this happens. We don’t expect West Boca News to make the list but the local TV stations and major regional newspapers certainly should.

Student Article: Welcome to the World Today

By Amanda Brooke from West Boca High
Take a look around you. Look at all the faces surrounding you as you sit in math class, or at the park. Are they happy? Are they smiling? They may appear happy, but perhaps that joy is only temporary. Around the world, millions of people face oppression within society on a daily basis.
Welcome to the world today, take a look at how the U.S. Government handles laws; we have bans on anti-discrimination. In what way does prohibiting kindness towards others make any logical sense? Is it not bad enough that fifty-five percent of students feel unsafe in school due to the harassment they receive for their sexual orientation, and thirty-eight percent due to their gender expression (GLSEN*)? They say we should keep distances between church and state, but then they turn around and deny gays services based on beliefs. The courts rule in favor of places such as Hobby Lobby, who won’t help their employees get proper contraceptives, yet Hobby Lobby is willing to give money to companies who support birth control. Why do we put religion before the greater good, if we have such freedom from religion?
Let’s talk about suicide and scarred up thighs; let’s talk about the grades that are dropping lower, as teens are getting higher. Transgenders have a higher risk of being murdered than soldiers in the Afghanistan war, one out of eight compared to one out of twelve. About 38% of the homeless youth are gays and lesbians who have been kicked out of their homes due to whom they love. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, there are 293,000 rape incidents every year, and those are just the ones that get reported. Of all those sexual assaults, 47% of the rapists were family members or acquaintances. What’s going on? How do we stop it? Welcome to the world today.
People in magazines tell us if we want a future, we need to be skinny, beautiful, and tall. Eyes all around are judging us based on looks, fashion, and behavior, but what about what’s inside of us? Doesn’t our personality count for anything? We live in a society where little kids can’t stand to look in the mirror, for fear of blemishes or having too much meat on their bones. Middle schoolers starve themselves to fit a size zero, while the others shove fingers down their throats, because ‘the calories don’t count if it’s not fully digested.’ The rate of eating disorders in ages fifteen to nineteen years old has increased every decade since the 1930’s, according to the National Eating Disorder Archives records. Unimaginable pressures are put on everyone to do their best, be the best, look the best, but what about our health? What about our sanity? Parents tell us that school is our jobs, that boys will be boys, but does anyone tell us it’s okay to be a little selfish? No, because grades are more important than our well being. Welcome to the world today.
When will Congress wake up and realize that people can no longer survive on minimum wage? Maybe in the 1960’s people could live off twenty dollars for a week, but now that will buy you a box of cereal and some apples. And how is it, exactly, that when a man does the exact same work as a woman, it’s decided he deserves more than her? I don’t remember a consensual discussion occurring in which it was deemed that a male’s labor is worth twenty-two cents more than that of a female’s. We give millions of dollars to celebrities and athletes, but what do they offer to the world? Nothing. We throw money at them like it grows on trees, meanwhile, there are hundreds starving on the streets; they just want to know when they’ll receive their next meal. Welcome to the world today.
We thank the lawyers for getting us out of jail, we thank the doctors for saving lives, but we never thank the teachers who taught them to be the incredible people they now are. No one just wakes up as the top lawyer in their state; they’ve all gone to school. So many people who deserve our thanks get overlooked. Without farmers, we’d have no food. Without teachers, we’d have no intelligence or understanding. Without journalists, we’d be disconnected from the world around us. Lawyers, doctors, businessmen, they are all wonderful, but we must not forget those who do the background work. Welcome to the world today.
What are we doing to our Earth? What is happening to our society? We twist the words of oppression to make everything disguised as being great. Nothing is truly great, we are all in major peril. We need to stand up and make a difference. We need to fight for freedom — for our true freedoms. We need to stand as one nation, for liberty and justice for all. Welcome to the world today.
*Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network

If you are in need of assistance regarding a crisis of some sort, call the National Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Once you place your call, you will be forwarded to the center closest to your location. All calls are confidential and free!

"Penny" Sales Tax Increase Will Cost You $12,000

wbcc-tax
The average West Boca family of four will pay an additional $12,000 over ten years if the proposed sales tax increase is approved. These estimates follow from the numbers stated by speakers at Tuesday’s West Boca Community Council meeting.
Four speakers addressed the audience (note we covered a similar event in February: Avossa and Berger Speak). First up was County Administrator Verdenia Baker. Substantial details of the plan are available on the One County One Penny website.
Like the three speakers after her, Baker was tone deaf to West Boca residents. In her talk she described how the money that would come to “your area” but a closer look showed she was including all of Boca, Delray and Boynton Beach in that area. She also referred to money going to the City of Boca Raton as in “our area” even though most of West Boca is west of the city lines.
Baker indicated that the total amount of revenue they expect to raise from this tax increase is $2.7 billion. In our analysis, with 1.3 million county residents that works out to over $2000 per resident. For a family of four it’s $8000. With average incomes in West Boca higher than for the county, it translates to roughly $12,000 over the ten years. A typical West Boca family of four will spend an extra $1000 on sales tax in the first year, with the number rising to $1500 or more in later years.
Fifty percent of the money from the tax will go to the school district, thirty percent to the county and twenty percent to the cities.
She described a lengthy list of projects that the money is supposed to go to. We have seen this list before and over half the money goes to projects in West Palm Beach. A very small share will benefit West Boca.
Baker briefly answered questions from us toward the end of the event:

The next speaker was Mike Burke, CFO for the school district. He also described various “needs” in the district. To his credit he started off with a funny joke about the jail and he spoke well. But as with the other speakers he was somewhat tone deaf, focusing on projects far from West Boca and apparently not recognizing the difference between the city and the rest of us.
Our post-event conversation with him is below. It became a little uncomfortable in certain moments but we give him credit for his demeanor and his answers.

As a follow up to this conversation we found the report he mentioned. Contrary to what he said the document does not say that projects will be prioritized by need. That may be the intent but it’s not in there.
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Facility_Condition_Assessment_Report_June_1_2016.pdf”]
Also the report’s descriptions do not match the apocalyptic tone set by Superintendent Avossa, Burke and others.

Finding #3: Of the 196 District schools and facilities assessed, the elementary schools are generally in fair condition (average FCI=15.2%), the middle schools are generally in good condition (average FCI = 13.1%), the high schools are generally in good condition (average FCI = 14.9%), and the ancillary facilities are generally in fair condition (average FCI = 23.1%). The overall District FCI average is 15.0%, which is in the “good” range, but borders on the “fair” range, which begins at 15.1%.

Finally with regard to the schools it should be noted that none of this money will go to hiring teachers or paying them more. It’s only for capital projects.
Next up was Sid Dinerstein, a long-time county Republican leader. After the two previous speakers took a full hour or more, Dinerstein was told he would only have 10 minutes. Dinerstein was also ignored when the event host announced various attendees and left him out.
Dinerstein was by far the most animated and interesting speaker of the four. We caught a brief clip of his speech but he had already left when we looked for him to answer questions at the end.

Dinerstein pointed out that the so-called “penny tax” is a 17 percent increase – from 6 percent to 7 percent. He dismissed the claimed needs asserted by the previous speakers and said the school district is “grossly overfunded”.
He suggested that the main needs of the county are really closer to $400 million rather than the $2.7 billion they are hoping to get from the sales tax increase. Dinerstein argued that it would make more sense to do a $400M bond issue with today’s low interest rates.
Dinerstein demonstrated the same disregard for the West Boca audience. Standing within arm’s reach of Ellen Winikoff he advocated for an extension of the Sawgrass Expressway from Broward into Palm Beach County, an idea that is widely hated here in West Boca. In describing the projects he viewed as necessary they all seemed to be in West Palm Beach, so his approach would do even less for West Boca residents.
The last speaker was Dave Kerner, a state representative who is now running for a county commission seat. He claimed (as did Baker) that 25% of the sales tax would be paid by tourists. If true that only adds to the burden imposed by the recently increased hotel tax to pay for a stadium in – where else – West Palm Beach. They seem unconcerned about or unaware of the risk of killing the goose that lays our golden eggs. If you raise taxes on tourism, tourists might come less often. He also repeated Mary Lou Berger’s February threat to raise property taxes if the sales tax increase is not passed.
Some other interesting details from the evening were:

  • The Lamborghini exemption – Baker said that the sales tax is capped at purchases under $5000, so if you buy a Lamborghini you won’t pay extra sales tax on most of that purchase.
  • Kerner and Baker both denied that sales tax is regressive. This is contrary to well established economic studies showing that sales taxes place a higher burden on the poor.
  • Taniel Shant, who is running against Mary Lou Berger, was in the audience. Shant opposes the sales tax increase.
  • In other news there has been some talk about developers buying the Boca Municipal Golf Course (north side of Glades west of the Turnpike) and building homes. Nothing has happened yet.
  • The proposal to build on the farm behind Home Depot is apparently making progress and may possibly resemble Delray Marketplace.
  • A new park or children’s playground has been built in Watergate Estates (aka West Sandalfoot) and will have a grand opening soon.
  • There has been an ongoing problem with trucks parking on swales on 66th Street (SW 66th we think) and PBSO is working to stop that.

Endorsement: Lisa Grossman for Judge

Before this election we had no opinion on Judge Marni Bryson. We do now.

Marni Bryson
Marni Bryson

Today in the mail we received a highly offensive mailer attacking Lisa Grossman, who is running against Bryson. The mailer identifies itself as being sent by “Keeping Citizens First, Inc.”, which is run by campaign consultant Rick Asnani. Asnani appears to be working for Bryson along with other judicial candidates.
The mailer and similar slurs on the internet and social media misuse personal photos from Grossman’s Facebook account and refer to personal matters that apparently took place thirty years ago. The mailer misleads readers by indicating that Grossman was “found guilty” of what are at worst minor campaign errors, and falsely suggests she has been convicted of crimes. It’s classic libel.
Judge Bryon’s decision to hire a dirty political consultant and participate in such nasty, below-the-belt campaign tactics renders her unqualified to sit as a judge.
As a result, we are endorsing Lisa Grossman for Judge.
grossman
Grossman has broad experience in health care and education. As an attorney she served as an assistant public defender, which is one of the hardest jobs in the law.