Sunday, December 9, 2018

Journalist Chris Persaud has made a triumphant comeback.

Mr. Persaud made the
front page today!

Mr. Persaud has come back to The Palm Beach Post. And sorely needed he most certainly is.

Briefly, three and a half years ago it was Mr. Persaud who was one of the only reporters in Palm Beach County reporting news about “suburban Lake Worth”. And maybe that’s why he was forced out. He was making the old boys club at the Post look bad. Still, to this very day there are reporters at the Post who have difficulty with the concept of the City of Lake Worth vs. suburban (unincorporated) areas out west. For example, take this news from last Thursday.

Now to the big news of the week.

Persaud along with school reporter Andrew Marra made the front page today in the Sunday Post! The news about “How [PBC] school district won its tax hike” is above the fold, under the banner, the top news story of the week.

And who knows, he might come back as the City of Lake Worth’s beat reporter once again. Learn more about Persaud’s news reporting below which garnered prestigious awards in the newspaper industry. With the March 2019 municipal elections looming his skills are sorely needed.

Why would that be?

Maybe it was because when Persaud left the Post was when a former commissioner, Cara Jennings, felt comfortable strutting her position on the ‘Urban Chicken’ once again. That news never made the Post but ridiculously absurd and downright inaccurate ‘news’ about the crime rate in this City was reported instead.

And to this day the City of Lake Worth is still dealing with the consequences.

GateHouse Media in their continuing effort to make the Post a better newspaper and relevant once again must be going through older records and looking for former reporters, talent that already knows the “lay of the land” so to speak.

GateHouse bought the Post and Shiny Sheet 8½ months ago (on May 1st) and the Snowbirds have begun to arrive en masse. GateHouse will want to make a fresh, new and lasting impression with our annual migration of newspaper readers from the north.

Since coming back to the Post here is another one of Persaud’s most recent contributions along with reporter Mike Stucka about the latest in the General Election recount:

While reporters, lawyers and police gathered in Riviera Beach where elections workers recounted thousands of votes, a couple dozen protesters rallied 12 miles south to bring about changes for the next election.

About 25 people congregated at the Supervisor of Elections Office in suburban West Palm Beach [emphasis added] on Saturday, chanting, “Count every vote” and “We will not concede” as noise from South Military Trail traffic nearly drowned them out.

and. . .

Two former Lake Worth city commissioners also attended.

The “Two former Lake Worth city commissioners” are not named by Persaud which is an unfortunate oversight.

Persaud, if you didn’t know, used to be the Post beat reporter for the City of Lake Worth. He followed in the footsteps of the greats: Willy Howard and Lona O’Connor.

But where Persaud excelled was at political and election reporting. Truly amazing work and it’s never been the same since he left the Post in 2015. In that year Persaud won two prestigious awards from the Society of Professional Journalism and soon thereafter penned the epic, “Florida NIMBYs Can’t Stop America’s First Private High-Speed Rail”.

After Persaud left the Post, that newspaper and many other news media outlets in Palm Beach County and Martin County went decidedly negative against All Aboard Florida, what later became Brightline and soon to become Virgin Trains USA.

But despite all that negativity for well over two years, when Persaud’s news in Next City hit the presses in October 2017 a paradigm shift occurred:

In Mar-a-Lago’s backyard, a fast new train and millions of dollars in transit-oriented development are reshaping the landscape.

The critics and malcontents began to look silly. And the critics that remain look even sillier still.

And on another front Persaud was trying to make major changes in how news was reported in Central Palm Beach County. He was the very first reporter at The Palm Beach Post to begin distinguishing between the City of Lake Worth and unincorporated areas outside this City.

For example in December 2014, correcting a false news report in the Sun Sentinel, Persaud edited and rewrote the story:

[D]uring a 1:45 a.m. incident outside an apartment in the Grant Park area of suburban Lake Worth [emphasis added], the sheriff’s office said in an arrest report . . . They recently had been staying with the son at the suburban Lake Worth residence, north of Melaleuca Lane and west of Davis Road, the report said.

But unfortunately when Persaud left the Post that effort to educate the public ended as well. And to this day we are still dealing with very poor news reporting in the Post vis-à-vis the difference between municipal City limits and unincorporated areas out west.

But Persaud wasn’t without controversy.

Like when Persaud inaccurately labeled then-citizen Mr. Herman C. Robinson a ‘developer’.

Mr. Herman Robinson is now District 4 Lake Worth Commissioner Herman Robinson, elected to the City Commission in March 2017.

Calling someone a “developer” in Lake Worth can be like waving a blood-drenched flag in front of a bull having a really bad day. But that’s what Chris Persaud did to Herman Robinson in August of 2014 leading up to that bond vote to fix our roads. Herman’s only crime was being one of the founding members of the “Lake Worth Yes!” PAC formed to promote the bond and get our roads and potholes fixed.

But later Persaud reached out to Mr. Robinson and set the record straight. As reported on this blog:

Have it from a reliable source that Chris Persaud called Herman Robinson to apologize for misrepresenting his profession. In reality, Herman is a contractor, but more in the sense of a Mister-Fix-It, than a Morganti (the contractor that did the work on the casino building). In either case, he would not be classified as a developer.

In typical Herman Robinson style he took the high road I'm told and they talked like two gentlemen for a few minutes. 

And then there was this very unfortunate correction published in late August 2014:

To learn the latest about the “Lake Worth Yes!” PAC click on this link.

And here is Mr. Persaud back in 2014 grilling the Lake Worth City Attorney prior to that year’s bond vote to fix our City roads and potholes:

But sadly, due to concerns about sea level rise back in 2014 that bond vote ended up failing by just 25 votes. But later in November 2016 the Neighborhood Road Bond passed by a “whopping” 69%.

In conclusion. . .

For some time now the public here in the City of Lake Worth has been wanting a new beat reporter from the Post and it’s been quite some time since we’ve had a female perspective. A young woman reporter would be a welcome change.

But if that’s not possible due to staffing then our City can do a lot worse than Chris Persaud. He already knows the territory and he actually knows where the City of Lake Worth is located. A great start.