Monday, February 6, 2017

The Answer to “The Challenge”: That “NOWHERE” quote in the Post about the mayor’s State of the City Address on January 31st.

“Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.”
Quote from the Society of Professional Journalists, Revised.

Did Mayor Pam Triolo say in her State of the City Address, “Lake Worth is nowhere it needs to be”? No. She did not.

Definition of the word “nowhere”: adverb: 1. in or at no place; not anywhere. 2. to no place. noun: 3. the state of nonexistence or seeming nonexistence. 4. anonymity or obscurity. 5. an unknown, remote, or nonexistent place or region. adjective: 6. being or leading nowhere; pointless; futile.

First a short background for those of you who need a refresher.

On January 31st Mayor Pam Triolo gave her State of the City Address to a “packed Casino Ballroom” as reported by The Lake Worth Herald on February 2nd. I was there to record the event and was also given a copy of the mayor’s prepared remarks.

The mayor’s speech was extraordinarily uplifting and positive. One of my personal observations was the speech was one of Triolo’s best ever. Her focus was the “new Lake Worth” vs. the “old Lake Worth”.

On Thursday, February 2nd, The Palm Beach Post article by reporter Kevin Thompson came out about the mayor’s State of the City Address. Then the phone calls started: “Did the mayor say that?”. After reviewing the text of the speech and watching the videos on YouTube, “The Challenge” began soon after.

Here is the line in the Post that confused some and angered others:

“Triolo said Lake Worth is nowhere it needs to be in turning the city around and still has a way to go.”

The reference in the Post that Lake Worth is “nowhere it needs to be” was taken completely out of context. From page 12 of the mayor’s prepared remarks is this excerpt (take special note of the highlighted text below):

     Another festival that is coming back to Lake Worth the Midnight Sun Festival. It is a re-establishment of what used to be the Finnfest and celebrates Finnish Culture and its relationship and impacts on Lake Worth. I have been working with staff and encouraging the Finnish community on this effort for the past several years and am proud to come through on a promise to bring this event HOME! The event will provide an opportunity for everyone to enjoy Finnish music, food, dancing and fun. Midnight Sun Festival will be the beginning of renewed efforts on our part to bring our Finnish friends back to Lake Worth to invest, visit and continue as an important part of our community.
     I can’t talk about festivals in our City without talking about the one event that has consistently given Lake Worth a positive reputation as a place that values art. Of course I am speaking of the Street Painting Festival! After 10 years of being the world’s largest street painting event, we are excited to enter into a renewed relationship with the organizers. No other event draws as many people and gives them a chance to experience our cool, artsy, unique downtown and City. The over 400 artists who participate literally put us on the Arts World Map and we thank the organizers for continuing to value being in Lake Worth. It is truly an expression of confidence in our City.
     As we take on the sense that we are the New Lake Worth, I recognize that we are not where we want to be with so many things. There is still much work to be done and things that I and my fellow Commissioners want to see happen. We know that the City organization is working hard to find ways to keep up with the increasing demand of the activity we are seeing. We want to give them the training and the tools so they can provide good customer service. After all, they are responsible for current capital projects and new ones starting soon that total more than $116 million. Yes that’s right, $116 million in infrastructure investments – and that too is another huge reason we are the New Lake Worth.

Focus on the yellow highlighted text in the mayor’s speech above. Is the line, “Triolo said Lake Worth is nowhere it needs to be an accurate reporting of what the mayor said. No.

“not where” ≠ “nowhere”

Dated February 2nd was a City press release likely a direct response to the “nowhere it needs to be” line reported in the Post article:

On Tuesday, January 31st, Lake Worth Mayor Pam Triolo gave the annual State of the City address to a full house in the Lake Worth Casino Ballroom. The theme of the address was Lake Worth had “turned a corner” and in doing so “was no longer the old Lake Worth” and “that the State of [the] City is good”.

What the City of Lake Worth deserves is a correction, or at the minimum a “clarification” printed in The Palm Beach Post. But that will never happen. That’s the sad part of this whole story.