Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Do you remember when The Palm Beach Post used to oppose Brightline? Recall all those negative letters that got published?

Briefly, a question: Do you know what a
flute without holes is called?

Find out a little later in this blog post.

To the topic at hand.

Back in 2014 the editor(s) at the Post supported the concept of All Aboard Florida and high speed passenger rail in South Florida. But then in 2015 the Post went decidedly negative. And then earlier this year the Post went positively positive again about passenger rail, Brightline and the soon-to-be Virgin Trains USA.

What happened?

Note the Post was put up For-Sale in November 2017 and GateHouse Media bought that newspaper in May of this year. What happened that the Post went from negatively negative about Brightline to now being positively positive?

Well. The clue can be found in this news report by business reporter Jeff Ostrowski at the Post:

All Aboard Florida, which operates Brightline, is owned by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC, a global investment management firm. Fortress Investment Group LLC is contracted to manage and advise New Media Investments Inc., which owns GateHouse Media, the parent company of The Palm Beach Post. [emphasis added]

Anyhow. Now about that flute. . .

“A flute without holes is not a flute.
A donut without a hole is a Danish.”

Quote. Chevy Chase in the classic movie Caddyshack.

So. You may be wondering, why is this quote by Chevy Chase significant to Brightline? Find out further down below in this blog post.

Hint: Recall that “donut hole” in downtown WPB as reported by Brian Entin, formerly of WPTV?

Well. Without getting into the weeds so to speak, the editor(s) at the Post saw the light — or rather the very bright and illuminating light coming from a train one could say — on May 1st this year when they were taken over by GateHouse Media.

And ever since May 1st the editor(s) at The Palm Beach Post just absolutely adore Brightline!

Which is soon to be renamed Virgin Trains USA.

You see, once upon a time the editor(s) at the Post had more in common with their fellow travelers in Martin County than they did with the public here in Palm Beach County. And maybe that is partly the reason why they were put up For-Sale by Cox Media last year.

For example, back in 2015 the rumors, mis- and disinformation about All Aboard Florida (later called Brightline) was at a fever pitch portending doom and gloom and the fall of Western Civilization. This all culminated in December 2015 when the editor at the Post published a letter (see below) that had some people laughing silly, others just incredulous, but mostly readers just wondering how something so ridiculous could make it through the editorial process.

Can you see the V in the photo below? Are you disturbed by that? Is it affecting your “calmness” in any detectable way?

The Brightline train station in late 2015–early 2016 under construction in West Palm Beach.

Enjoy this letter that got published in December 2015.

Click on image to enlarge:

Do you think the letter V is “disturbing” and “disrupting the calmness of our state?

Or did the letter writer portend the future? The V as in Virgin Trains USA maybe?

Remember when I saw that letter to the editor three years ago. Had a mouthful of coffee which went spewing all over the table. My first thought was how happy the letter wasn’t written by a Lake Worth resident.

Second thing that came to mind is, “Hey, is that an image of Jesus on my toast?”

The letter V is not a logo for Brightline. The image that is “disturbing” to the letter writer is a replica of one of the architectural structure supports that will hold up the train station. 

Image from 2015 of the proposed Brightline station in West Palm Beach.

Maybe to quell any public anxiety the architects should have turned the supports upside down to form an A?

The image inverted. What do you think? Does the A look better or do you prefer the V? Would letter Q have worked? Or J?

Anyhow. Without further ado.

Explained, the quote by Chevy Chase and the link (pardon the pun) to Brightline.

“A flute without holes is not a flute. A donut without a hole is a Danish.”

The editor(s) and business reporters at the Post need to recall that just about 3 years ago West Palm Beach had a big “donut hole” — an entire vacant city block in their downtown — until an entity called “All Aboard Florida” came along and turned that hole into a Danish.

All Aboard Florida, later to become Brightline, was and remains a significant “flute” welcoming the future revitalization of transportation and passenger rail not only in West Palm Beach but in all South Florida and beyond to Orlando, then Tampa, and then. . .

But 4½ years ago, prior to going negative, at least one of the editors at the Post understood the significance of the Florida East Coast (FEC) railway and how crucial this project was for passenger transportation. On the future profitability of passenger rail along the FEC here’s what that editor wrote in May 2014 on the “Paranoia about All Aboard Florida”:

     So what to make of the All Aboard push? And why should Floridians care?
     It is very possible that All Aboard Florida, which will include stations in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, will not be profitable for years or even decades. Even so, it still may be a wise investment for FEC because the service will vastly boost the value of the property it owns around the service’s planned stops, including 9 acres in downtown Miami and land near Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach. [emphasis added] “I don’t know that they have to make a profit (on the rail service) for the project to be successful overall,” said Charles Banks, an Arlington, Va.-based railroad consultant.

But seems the editor(s) at the Post shortly thereafter came to discover they had more in common with their ‘fellow travelers’ in Martin County than they did with their own readership right here in Palm Beach County. Enter GateHouse Media to pick up the pieces.

GateHouse Media has taken over at the Post effective May 1st. Now that newspaper once again has the potential to become a Danish and a flute too in West Palm Beach.

Hope not to draw any more attention
than it deserves. . .

But just prior to being sold to GateHouse Media a truly ridiculous story appeared on the front page of the Post last April and nothing sums it up better than this comment that was posted by “Peter529” in the online edition:

A dozen reporters rode the train for 29 hours and that’s all you have for your article. Honestly? I would expect more from a high school writing class assignment. I don’t mean to be condescending but when you started off with “a dozen reporters” I was really looking forward to an in-depth article. Are they meeting their ridership goals? When does it get busy and when does it slow down? Were they on time? How were the prices on food and drink and quality. Sigh. . .

More information about Brightline. . .

The information below is from July 2017, nearly 1½ years ago, my tour of the Brightline train station in WPB prior to its Grand Opening. This tour was sponsored by the Palm Beach County Planning Congress in collaboration with the West Palm Beach Downtown Neighborhood Assoc. For parts 1–3 on this blog about that tour click on this link.

TV news reporter Brian Entin works for WSVN in Miami now but back prior to that he was a reporter for NBC5/WPTV. In November 2015 Entin had a news segment that featured the “Donut hole in downtown West Palm Beach” (unfortunately, WPTV no longer has a link to that story).

Following Entin’s “donut hole” report a lot of people had a lot of fun at first. For example, somebody came across the quote from Chevy Chase making fun of Entin and his news segment:

“A flute without holes is not a flute.
A donut without a hole is a Danish.”

But not long after the news from Brian Entin we all learned that “donut hole” the political elites in West Palm Beach made so much fun of initially was soon to become the “Danish” that city so desperately needed. And then later “all of a sudden”, the public started paying very close attention too.

Here are excerpts from the text of
Entin’s news back in 2015:

There is record development in Downtown West Palm Beach. But some people who live downtown still complain about what is known as the “donut hole” between Clematis and City Place. It’s darker than other, more popular areas downtown and there are some abandoned buildings and parking lots.

and. . .

Entrepreneur Tony Solo bought property in the donut hole years ago. “When I purchased the property back in 2005, that is what I was calling it. There is a donut in the city of West Palm Beach” and Solo continued, “As West Palm goes through this renaissance, this area holds the key to growth.”

Two years after Brian Entin’s news segment here are some photos of the Brightline Station, “the Danish”:

A view across the facility. Brightline courteously provided an array of food and a wine/beer bar.

The tour was sponsored by the PBC Planning Congress in collaboration with the WPB Downtown Neighborhood Assoc.

 The children’s play area.
Playing and waiting for the train.

Isn’t this view remarkable? On the 2nd floor is a 360° view of the entire downtown.

Closer look of the play area.

 “Quick. Convenient. Connected.”

“Getting to your destination has never been easier

Hope you enjoyed this stroll back in time to when that “donut” became a “Danish” in West Palm Beach.