Monday, October 9, 2017

The important role of contributors and doers and sage advice: Never let the “complainers” gain control.

“If you find yourself catering to complainers that do not have solutions you are going to face a quick descent.”
—Jeff Perlman. Quote from his “talk” given in Lake Worth last year.

Perlman, you may be interested to learn, wrote a book titled, “Adventures in Local Politics” and the profits from the book go to the charity Dare 2 Be Great.

A group of Lake Worth residents joined Perlman in our Downtown last year and he talked about his time in Delray Beach as a community leader, journalist, a commissioner and then later, mayor of Delray. The theme that ran through the entire talk was this:

How important it is to forge your own City identity.

By the way, Perlman likes to tell people there was once a time you could throw a bowling ball down Atlantic Ave. in Delray and not hit anything. One of the things stressed early on in Delray’s visioning process was not becoming another high-rise community like Boca — just like Lake Worth doesn’t want to be a clone of Delray or any other city.

Perlman said he used to keep lists of strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, and a “threats analysis” in his drawer he would update every couple of weeks. He took a stab at Lake Worth’s strengths and weaknesses as an outsider “looking in” and made these points about Lake Worth’s strengths:
  • Lake Worth has many amenities including a “fantastic waterfront” on the Intracoastal.
  • A “real downtown” with two main streets.
  • Unique historic cottages.
  • A walkable downtown and our own Beach.
  • An engaged citizenry.
  • Central location in Palm Beach County.
Weaknesses he identified are:
  • More residential density is needed “which creates more eyes on the street”.
  • The City needs more downtown housing to support the businesses in the Downtown Commercial Core.
  • A lack of industry.
Interestingly, last year Perlman thought one of the biggest threats to Lake Worth’s future success was a “resistance to risk-taking”. In many ways, what’s happened since may put that threat to rest. The City’s elections last March, November 2016 Neighborhood Road Bond referendum and ¢1 County sales tax proceeds may indeed be the tipping point. Many, including Yours Truly, have called those elections and referendums a “seismic shift”.

However, on the subject of elections and referendums, Perlman also cautions how important it is to develop a cadre of leaders with the skill sets to keep the City’s vision and direction moving forward. It only takes one election to wipe out many years, maybe even decades of hard work. So it’s important to have the right people in the right leadership positions.

Then there’s this sage advice that needs to be hammered home from Perlman’s blog:

Listen to critics but never “deflate the contributors”, or you’ll “kiss progress goodbye.”

Following Perlman’s talk, judging by the positive reaction that followed, he got a lot of people thinking and talking. That’s exactly what’s needed to solve our pressing issues in this little City of Lake Worth.

We can never let the complainers, especially the ones without any solutions, be driving the debate. If they do, they’ll lead us right over a cliff — or if you prefer, another example — join a march of well-heeled lemmings onward and into the waters of the C-51 Canal all screaming together:

“Save Us From The SFWMD!
Create A City Board For Us!”