Wednesday, March 27, 2019

“Editorial: For Lake Worth Commission, Hardy and Copeland”, featured on Sunday, February 17th.

A look back at that ill-timed, hasty and incomplete editorial in The Palm Beach Post.

The endorsement for Commissioner Omari Hardy was well-reasoned and on point.

The endorsement for Tom Copeland over incumbent Commissioner Herman Robinson had a lot of people scratching their heads. And many still are.

Excerpts from the Post editorial are below published in mid-February, the endorsements for the race in District 2 and for the District 4 race which is now officially over in Lake Worth Beach. Robinson won the run-off election by a landslide.

Interestingly, the Post never editorialized on renaming the City of Lake Worth but when it did pass bet they were quite surprised. The never-‘Beach’ers in Lake Worth Beach are still attempting to make waves and trying to ‘wag the dog’ about the narrow vote margin but Richard Ryles won the West Palm Beach District 3 seat by just thirty-six votes last evening and West Palm doesn’t even have a beach. Shouldn’t West Palm be called West Palm No Beach?

Now back to the run-off election
in Lake Worth Beach.

Challenger Tom Copeland now finds himself in the history books as probably the only candidate ever to concede the same race twice in the same year in the same municipality after Commissioner Herman Robinson won in a landslide going away in the run-off election yesterday.

Copeland thought he conceded on March 13th.
Let’s just say it’s complicated.

Election results on March 12th:

The run-off election results from last evening were Robinson at 70% and Copeland at 30%; a slight improvement for Copeland over the Election Day results on March 12th.

And maybe now that this year’s election season is over The Palm Beach Post will pivot and focus more on what is going on west of Lake Worth Beach like updates about what is happening with PBSO in Greenacres and developments in the Village of Palm Springs. There was an election in Palm Springs on March 12th which was noted in The Lake Worth Herald but was not reported in the Post.

That the editor(s) at the Post endorsed Commissioner Hardy for re-election surprised no one. They had endorsed Hardy two years prior over seven-year incumbent Chris McVoy, PhD, and except for a few missteps Hardy has done nothing not to warrant another endorsement. Hardy is certainly no “gadfly”, what the editor at the Post called McVoy back in March 2017.

Here is an excerpt from that editorial:

Hardy has ideas and energy. Although he is still learning on the job — he made a rookie error in proposing a thinly researched ordinance on slumlords that died without even a discussion — his presence on the commission is clearly a plus.

But what made no sense at all was the timing, the day of those endorsements and one key missing point.

The City of Lake Worth was the very first municipality to get the endorsements in the Post, over three weeks before Election Day and in the Sunday print edition too!

Why the Sunday paper? And a lot can happen in three weeks. 

That is what no one could figure out. Is the City of Lake Worth Beach really that important in the scheme of things? Must be. 

That very week in the Post was huge news about a judges ruling threatening State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s “war on opioid abuses” and also big news was PBC School Board Superintendent Donald Fennoy on public school safety and making certain another Parkland cannot happen. It was a significant week for any number of editorials. But instead were the endorsements in the City of Lake Worth?

In the Sunday print edition, the most-read paper of the week? Sixteen municipalities had elections on March 12th. And Lake Worth was first up. One can understand all the head scratching in Palm Beach County.

And once again, the municipal elections were still over three weeks away.

But even more inexplicable is what was never mentioned in the editorial or in news reports about the upcoming elections as noted that very day on Sunday, Feb. 17th:

But what has gone completely unreported in the Post is this crucial factor: whomever is elected on March 12th will serve a three-year term. So either the editor(s) at the Post forgot about the referendum that passed in March 2017 or they just don’t care.

Choosing a candidate to serve a two-year term is a choice by voters. A three-year term is a commitment. Increasing terms for elected officials from two to three years is highly significant but why didn’t the editors cite that as a factor?

Maybe that would give the public in other municipalities some ideas?

The editor(s) at the Post endorsed Copeland despite noting this about District 4 Commissioner Robinson:

Robinson, 73, has been a low-key advocate for many of the better things that have been coming from city government: the license-plate readers, an internal auditor to analyze city operations, a reduction in sober homes.

The Post also gave short shrift to Hardy’s challenger Cathy Turk saying she is “[R]unning on a platform of fiscal responsibility, pointing out, for example, that the city lacks a comprehensive plan for spending the $20 million expected from the penny sales tax increase.”

But the Post never mentioned Turk’s time on the City’s Planning & Zoning Board.

Back to District 4.

Commissioner Robinson’s three challengers were Tom Copeland, Richard Guercio and the mythical but legendary William Joseph who opted not to meet with the editorial board.

Here is how the Post describes Guercio:

Guercio, 61, an avid volunteer for city events and organizations who formerly chaired the city’s finance advisory board and bond oversight committee, displays an intricate knowledge of Lake Worth’s city-owned electric utility.

Now Copeland:

Copeland, 34, is a high-octane campaigner who pitches an array of proposals. He says he’d build consensus for a parking and mobility plan for downtown, push for a comprehensive plan for the Casino complex and press for more spending on infrastructure — and that’s just for his “first year in office.” Alone among the candidates, he advocates closing the beachside pool permanently and replacing it with a community pool on city-owned land in a low-income neighborhood where the city’s neediest residents would have easier access to it.


Stay tuned for the swearing-in ceremony for Commissioner Robinson which could be this Friday or next week prior to the regularly scheduled City Commission meeting.

And hopefully Cathy Turk, Richard Guercio and Tom Copeland will stay involved especially on volunteer advisory boards and involved in neighborhood issues as well.

And if anyone happens to come across William Joseph tell him the seat for mayor of Lake Worth Beach will be up in 2021. It’s always good to get a head start.