Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlottesville isn’t “somebody else’s problem”. It’s here too. Our City of Lake Worth was confronted with racism. Right in the front row of City Hall chambers.

And the City of Lake Worth dealt with it.
Strongly and united.

However, we also needed the editor and reporter at The Palm Beach Post to back us up, support our City and our leaders. But instead they all ignored what happened in our City of Lake Worth.

The editor at The Palm Beach Post knows about what happened in the City of Lake Worth 2 years ago. The beat reporter for the Post knows all about what happened too. How do I know that? Because former City Commissioner Retha Lowe told the whole world about it (see video below) and The Lake Worth Herald wrote a front page story about what happened too (the Herald article is a little later in this blog post).

But after this racist incident happened IN OUR CITY HALL, we waited a few days for the editor at the Post to deal with this incident in a strong, forceful manner with no ambiguity and say, “there is no place for this kind of behavior in the City of Lake Worth.”

Day two came and went. Then day 3 and still
silence from the Post editor. Day 4 passed
and then we all knew.

Because of politics, the editor of the Post was going to ignore this racist incident because it would make two former commissioners, Ryan Maier and Chris McVoy, PhD, look bad. The person who used the “N-word” in public, in our City Hall was a supporter of Maier and McVoy and the editor had just recently endorsed them for election to the Commission a few weeks prior. So. You see. The editor at the Post felt a little awkward.

So he ignored the fact this incident happened at all. At very least the Post could have offered kudos to our leaders for how they dealt with this incident. But they didn’t even do that.

Below are newspaper clippings from a former tabloid in 2015 that has since gone defunct.  

Click on image to enlarge:
The Post could have come to the defense of our elected leaders and staff. But instead they sat on their hands and did nothing.

Below is a video of former Commissioner Retha Lowe on March 24th, 2015, at the City Commission meeting following the incident that occurred 2 weeks previously (note: Lowe references the article in The Lake Worth Herald below).

This was a major news event in the City of Lake Worth but the Post news division and editorial board decided to squash the story instead.

Soon afterwards witness intimidation began and The Lake Worth Herald was attacked for publishing the story. This was no longer just about racism any more. Now citizens and government officials were being targeted in order to silence them.

Here is an email Lake Worth City Manager Michael Bornstein sent to Mrs. Dee McNamara:

From: Michael Bornstein
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 12:55 PM
To: 'Dee McNamara'; ryanmaier@lakeworth.org; Christopher McVoy; Lynn Anderson; Dennis Dorsey; Jesse Santamaria; Steven L. Abrams; Joseph Abruzzo; Katie Kkss21; Debra Smith Kimo; June Evans; judyking02@comcast.net; Jennifer Marchal; clemens.jeff@flsenate.gov; 'bobby.powell@myfloridahouse.gov'; 'ptaylor@pbcgov.org'; svana@pbcgov.org; Retha Lowe; Andy Amoroso; Christopher McVoy; John Szerdi; Pam Triolo; Scott Maxwell
Cc: Christy L. Goddeau; Clayton Lindstrom; Dolores Key; Germaine English; Jamie Brown; Joan Oliva; Juan Ruiz; Larry A. Johnson; Pamela Lopez; William Waters


Due to the your recent outburst in the City Hall Chambers involving a racial slur, not once but twice, I feel compelled to respond. The honorable thing to do is to issue a publicly stated apology for using the ‘N’ word in the Chambers. Lake Worth is proud of its diversity and openness, and I will not abide this kind of behavior in the people’s temple. Your nonfactual rants such as below about the elected officials and the staff will not be a distraction from this incident.


On a totally different subject, my readers might find this quote interesting:

     Just because we refuse to have that public discussion [on race relations] doesn’t mean that tension is not there, lying below the surface, waiting for our own Ferguson, Staten Island or Cleveland.
     So instead of waiting, let’s start a dialogue. Let’s try to be honest about our negative (and erroneous) perceptions, so we can begin to move past them. Not yelling at, but talking to one another.
     It won’t be easy. But as my father always says, nothing worthwhile ever is.

—Quote: Rick Christie, editor of The Palm Beach Post editorial board, in “Christie commentary: Can we finally have a conversation about race?”, published on December 13, 2014.

Here is the full story from the front page of The Lake Worth Herald about Dee McNamara and racial slurs at a public meeting (prior to swearing in ceremony) at City Hall in March 2015:

Monday, prior to the start of the swearing in ceremonies, city staff placed signs on some of the pews in the commission chambers reserving seating for family members of Christopher McVoy, Ryan Maier and John Szerdi.
     According to a staff member, Dee McNamara complained and was told she should find another seat. McNamara asked the staff member if she expected her to sit in the back like a N_____. The staff member was deeply offended and McNamara pointed to the skin on her arm and asked if she looked like a N_____.
     The staff member demanded an apology and wouldn’t give in until McNamara apologized, which she, according to sources, finally did reluctantly.
     The staff member reported the incident to City Manager Michael Bornstein and City Attorney Christy Goddeau. Bornstein and Goddeau both confirmed they were apprised of the situation by the staff member.
     When asked about the incident, McNamara first said she was reserving a seat for Ryan. She then asked who was telling those lies about her and hung up the phone.

The editor at the Post criticizes the City of Lake Worth now and then for one policy decision or another. And that’s fine. But as the newspaper industry continues its decline and becomes more and more irrelevant all the time it’s important to remember there was a time two years ago when the editor at the Post could have made a big impact on our little City of Lake Worth.

But the editor did nothing instead. That doesn’t mean nothing happened. Because of The Lake Worth Herald, City Manager Michael Bornstein, and a whole lot of work by a whole lot of other people, the racists and hate-mongers have kept their mouths shut. But they haven’t gone away.

They’re still here. Just because they are quiet doesn’t mean they’ve gone away. We need to stay vigilant. And we need to confront these people every single time — just like we did two years ago — so we never, ever risk becoming the next Charlottesville.