Friday, July 7, 2017

Jupiter has a Sister City in Guatemala. The City of Lake Worth doesn’t — but we need one — and a Sister City in Finland and Haiti too.

There are many good reasons for our City to create a board to initiate, plan, sponsor, organize and promote cultural exchanges.
Remember the “Midnight Sun Festival”? The Haitian flag raising ceremony? Find out more about these events below.

I learned about the Town of Jupiter’s Sister City reading a very good article by Post reporter Bill DiPaolo about the exhibit at the Cultural Council in Downtown Lake Worth.

The story about the Lake Worth Sister City Board is a long and sad one. The sadness and neglect continues: when you go the City’s website a former commissioner, Ryan Maier, is still listed as the board liaison. Meetings are the second Monday of the month but nobody cares any more. They don’t even bother creating agendas any more. The last agenda was in April.

Our Sister City Board’s demise began in early 2015 when then-citizen Ryan Maier used the board as his springboard (pardon the pun) to get elected to the City Commission. The editor at the Post duly noted this experience and then endorsed Maier; he went on to get elected in District 4. Just one little problem though:

Mr. Maier was removed from the Sister City Board for not participating in the mandatory ethics training and his membership was declared vacant due to excessive absenteeism on March 19, 2012.

Ever since that kerfuffle the board went quickly downhill. Anyhow, here is what the board was tasked with doing:

Board initiates, plans, sponsors, organizes and promotes cultural exchanges for the City of Lake Worth. Members also act as the City’s official hosts for international guests.

The Town of Jupiter, according to the Post reporter Bill DiPaolo in the article cited above, “has a sister-city relationship with Jacaltenango, Guatemala.” And also in the article: “Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has visited El Sol and other locations in Palm Beach County.”

Guess what one of those “other locations in Palm Beach County” was?

Remember the news last April from Peter Haden at WLRN?

“Guatemala Opens Consulate In Lake Worth”

Mayor Pam Triolo and several City commissioners were there at the opening of the Guatemalan Consulate:

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales cut the ribbon at Palm Beach County’s new Guatemalan consulate.

and. . .

     “We’re going to see cultural, commercial, economic affairs — in order to have a more intense and big link with Palm Beach County,” said De Mora [Miami Consul General Rosa Maria Merida De Mora].
     Lake Worth is the first of four new Guatemalan Consulates in the U.S. The others are opening in Seattle, Oklahoma City, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

So you can see why it’s important to either re-establish the City’s Sister City Board or get the Lake Worth CRA to take over. Or maybe even have the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County do this function for us. The City of Lake Worth is on the “Diplomatic Map” so to speak. And it’s very important we have a way to consistently plan, sponsor, organize and promote cultural exchanges.

Remember. The Midnight Sun Festival is coming up next March. Our City of Lake Worth has a lot of very good friends in Finland. And we have a lot of good friends in Haiti too. The 2018 Haitian flag ceremony will be next May. There’s a lot to do and little time to waste.