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Participants’ stories of 1964 polio preventive show parallels to COVID-19

By Joyce Reingold

Walter and Jean Dutch left New York in 1946 to settle in Briny Breezes with their two young children, Karen and Wayne. Karen Dutch Steinke was just 6 months old then, but she would later learn that on the trip south, her parents bypassed an area of the country where they had heard poliomyelitis was present.
In the 1940s, polio outbreaks were becoming more frequent, and millions of parents like the Dutches became fierce sentinels protecting vulnerable children from the highly contagious virus that too often resulted in muscle weakness, paralysis and sometimes death. In summer, when cases of the virus spiked, parents kept children indoors. Families social-distanced, self-isolated and quarantined.
The virus is transmitted through contact with fecal matter or via droplets from coughs or sneezes. But then, there were many theories — perhaps flies, car exhaust or even cats were to blame. In the absence of scientific evidence, fear festered.
“Few diseases frightened parents more in the early part of the 20th century than did polio,” the College of Physicians of Philadelphia says. In 1952, said to be the polio epidemic’s most virulent year in America, there were almost 58,000 reported cases; 3,000 of those stricken died. By then, Dr. Jonas Salk was working on an injectable, “killed virus” vaccine. Three years later, on April 12, 1955, the U.S. government gave him the green light. In some cities, church bells rang to celebrate the announcement.
The parallels to today’s COVID-19 pandemic are striking: death and disability, fear and disruption — and hope. COVID vaccines developed at “warp speed” are making their way into eager communities, most of which are also eager for speedier, easier and more equitable distribution. President Joe Biden proposes deploying mobile vaccination units, expanding distribution points to include stadiums and other large venues, and adding more drive-thru options, so people can get vaccinated in their cars.
It’s a convenience modeled here 57 years ago, when the Delray Beach Drive-In served as one of 52 locations for Palm Beach County’s mass polio vaccination effort. The Palm Beach County Medical Society’s goal was to immunize every person in the county — all 280,000 of them — starting on Jan. 19, 1964.
That was the first of three Sabin Oral Sundays, on which residents could receive doses of Albert Sabin’s polio vaccine. It was developed using a live but weakened form of the virus and could be delivered in a sugar cube or small swallow of fruit-flavored syrup. First licensed for use in 1960, it was a successor to Salk’s groundbreaking vaccine.
The Palm Beach County Medical Society and the Jaycees organized the distribution effort, choosing sites from the coast to Canal Point, and from Jupiter to Boca Raton. Nurses, doctors, pharmacists and hundreds of volunteers staffed these locations on Jan. 19 and the remaining Sabin Oral Sundays, Feb. 23 and April 5.
Adults and children 6 weeks and older were eligible to receive vaccines to prevent the three types of the polio virus, one dose for each visit. Each dose cost a quarter, the price of five first-class postage stamps then, but no people were turned away if they couldn’t afford to pay.


The doctor behind drive-in
The Jaycees and medical society selected mostly schools as dosing stations, but the Delray Drive-In theater on Federal Highway just north of where Sande’s Restaurant stands today was a notable and novel exception.
By the end of Jan. 19, 161,400 county residents had taken their medicine. Delray Beach’s tally was 12,100 people, 7,800 of whom had received it at the drive-in, before the evening’s first film, Secret Passions, would start to flicker across the screen.
Local historian Tom Warnke remembers getting the vaccine at the Delray Drive-In.
“In 1962, we lived on Northeast 20th Street in Delray Beach, next to Plumosa Elementary School,” Warnke said. “The polio vaccine was being given at the Delray Drive-In theater, so it was the closest location for us. We drove there as a family to get the vaccine. I believe all six of us Warnke kids got it — Bill, Tom, Terry, Randy, Wendy and Ann. It was an oral vaccine so we received it in a small plastic cup.  None of us were very concerned, since we didn’t know anyone who had polio, but we were happy not to get a needle in the arm like we did with the chickenpox or measles vaccine.”
The idea of using the drive-in to distribute the vaccine originated with Dr. Robert “Bob” E. Raborn, a cardiologist and public health physician. He was an innovator whom a friend remembered in his 1999 obituary in The Palm Beach Post as “part of everything that came along.” 
Raborn and his wife, Lenore, a medical social worker who died in November 2020, were among the founders of Bethesda Hospital in the 1950s and were deeply woven into the fabric of Boynton Beach civic life. The hospital took root in the 1950s on a mango grove, land given by Mrs. Raborn’s father, Fred Benson.
“Twelve acres of mangoes and two houses,” remembers the Raborns’ daughter, Robin, who lives in Hillsborough, California. “Where the high-rise parking lot is — that’s where we lived.” 
“Dad had a way of making things fun and getting them done,” says son Dr. Richard Raborn, of Blairsville, Georgia. “What I remember is, when he came up with the idea of using drive-in movie theaters to distribute the oral polio vaccine, that it was a new idea that nobody else had come up with. The pharmacist would be in the little food distribution building, and they would put the drops of oral vaccine on sugar cubes.”
Robin and Richard, both now in their 60s, remember racing trays of squat-bottomed cups of sugar cubes to waiting drivers and passengers.
“We would just run them out to the window of the car,” Richard says, “and then they would just grab the number of Dixie cups that they needed for everybody in the car. And everybody had their sugar cube and moved on.”
The Post detailed this efficiency the next day: “Dr. Raborn said that 7,800 people were handled there on a speedy mass production basis. Once inside the theater, cars were divided into 10 lanes, one down each aisle. A Jaycee volunteer on the left of the car registered its occupants as a volunteer on the right side of the car gave out the doses. More than 3,000 were given the vaccine there in the first hour and Dr. Raborn said that 30,000 dosages could have been given out there, so efficient was the system. Each car was processed in a matter of 30 seconds.”
Raborn told the Fort Lauderdale News he was “delighted” by this “successful public health program at a drive-in theater.”


An ‘ingenious’ idea
Janet DeVries Naughton, who chronicled Palm Beach County’s vaccine campaign in an article on the Boynton Beach Historical Society website, called Raborn’s idea “ingenious.”
“How else to give mass immunity in such a short period of time? Today they could use the South Florida Fairgrounds, the Boynton Beach Mall, the FAU parking lot, etc.,” says Naughton, a historian, author and Palm Beach State College librarian and history professor.
Dr. Nicholas S. Petkas, co-chair of the county effort, deemed it “fairly successful” in an interview with the News. Bill Plum, then chairman of the Boynton Beach Jaycees, told the newspaper his city had “a fine showing,” with 8,000 doses distributed.
Although the campaign’s goal remained elusive throughout the Sabin Oral Sundays — 161,285 total doses in February and 149,308 in April — the Delray Drive-In operation continued to be popular and effective. “Delray Leads Dosing,” read a headline in the News after the Feb. 23 SOS.
“The city’s drive-in Sabin vaccine dosing center was apparently a contributing factor in the success of the program here,” the story read. “Delray Beach led the county percentage-wise in doses. Nearly 12,000 persons showed … most of these stopping at the center located in the drive-in theater.”
With Feb. 23 numbers lower in Boynton Beach than on the first SOS, Plum posited that many residents may have drifted to Delray for the drive-thru convenience. In Boca Raton, 4,534 doses were termed a “disappointing” result, according to the News article.
Patricia Fiorillo, assistant curator for the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum, said Boca and the surrounding areas were still “pretty rural” well into the 1950s, and the town didn’t get its own hospital until the mid- to late 1960s. “Most people traveled to Delray Beach or Fort Lauderdale for medical care,” she says.
The drive-in registered its highest dosing numbers on April 5, distributing the final dose of vaccine to 8,150 people. According to the News, Boynton’s Plum motored down to Delray to observe the operation, which he termed “fantastic.” In 90 minutes, he said, the dosing station served approximately 4,000 people.
After the final SOS tally, Petkas told the Post he was disappointed that less than 60% of the county’s population had turned up for the final dose. But, the county Health Department still had 8,000 doses available that needed to be used within a week, since they’d already been thawed and would spoil.
“Isn’t it ironic that just a few years ago we were crying for a polio vaccine and now we are throwing it away because the people don’t want it?” Petkas told the Post. “They are flying vaccine to Nassau on an emergency basis, but those who can get it here just can’t seem to be bothered.”
Some people shunned the doses out of fear or suspicion. During the first Sabin Oral Sunday, police arrested a West Palm Beach man outside a dosing station for distributing anti-vaccine leaflets without a required permit.


A miracle for some
But for parents who fearfully kept their children indoors; for people who’d been paralyzed, required leg braces, or relied on iron lungs to breathe; and for those who’d lost loved ones to polio, the vaccines were a miracle.
“When my mother was young, her father, at 27, had polio from the neck down. Iron lungs had not been invented. My Grandpa Bill lived to 80 and walked with a cane all the days I knew and loved him,” says Karen Dutch Steinke, who now lives in Roseland, Florida.
She was in the third grade at Boynton Beach Elementary in 1954-55 when she became a Polio Pioneer. This meant she was one of the more than 1.3 million U.S. children who participated in a Salk vaccine clinical trial in which neither the children, parents nor health officials knew who had received the vaccine or a placebo, according to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
A Polio Pioneer card and metal pin were her rewards for taking part, yet millions owe their escape from polio to Steinke and all the other children whose participation helped bring the Salk vaccine to the marketplace.


Optimism for COVID vaccine
Today, Palm Beach County has almost 1.5 million year-round residents, an untold number of whom are anxiously awaiting their chances for a COVID-19 vaccine. In news stories, Facebook posts, telephone calls, texts and socially distanced conversations, people are talking: Who can get it? How’d you get it? Where can I get it? Pfizer or Moderna? How is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine coming along?
Dr. Michael Dennis, founding chair of the advisory board for the Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, is optimistic about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and thinks with a ramped-up vaccination effort, it’s possible “we’ll be back to a relatively normal social environment again” by fall. But, he said, measures such as mask-wearing and hand-washing will continue to be important.
“Politics has really had more of a voice in how people should handle themselves than has the CDC or other medical influences, which is really disappointing because the medical advice is something that’s solid,” Dennis says.
Robin Raborn says that is one of the lessons she learned from her father: “Throughout my life, my father always stressed that disease was not political, and it should be treated as public health. So, I know that he would be very upset with the political nature of how this virus has been treated, both in the prevention and distribution of all the vaccine and everything. It shouldn’t be political. It should be all about health and prevention.”
The United States has been “polio-free” since 1979, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, children get four doses of polio vaccine at prescribed intervals. Since 2000, the U.S. has used only inactivated polio, given as a shot in the leg or arm. Gone are the sugar cubes and sweet elixirs.
But in December 2020, Jeffrey Sherman, a writer, producer and director living in Los Angeles, revealed in a tweet that those old vaccines live on in a familiar song written by his father, the late Robert B. Sherman, and his uncle Richard Sherman:
“When I was a kid we got the polio vaccine. My dad, working on Mary Poppins, asked how my day was. I told him about the vaccine. ‘Didn’t it hurt?’ I said they put it on a sugar cube and you ate it. He called my uncle Dick and the next day they wrote A Spoonful of Sugar.” 
He continues: “My little corner of film music history. When the COVID vaccine arrives, get it. We’re codependent in this small world. Trust science and doctors. We will beat this enemy if we listen to those who know. Be safe. Wear a mask. Be considerate to your fellow man.”

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State concludes city committed ‘willful’ violations

By Jane Smith

Delray Beach officials have known for more than 12 years what was required to implement a safe reclaimed water project, according to July 2008 letters between the city’s Utilities Department and Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.
In fact, the city’s water rules remain part of its code of ordinances today. These rules explain how the city will protect its public water supply while offering reclaimed water for irrigation.
This knowledge and failure to implement its own plan may end up costing Delray Beach nearly $3 million in fines for not inspecting, maintaining and keeping records of its reclaimed water installations.
The Department of Health called the violations “willful or intentional in nature” in its draft Jan. 7 letter to the Delray Beach interim city manager.
The year 2008 was five city managers ago, when none of the current commissioners sat on the dais.
The proposed fines couldn’t come at a worse time. Delray Beach had been plugging holes in its budget for nearly a year when the pandemic shut restaurants, bars and hotels in mid-March 2020.
In September, the city balanced this financial year’s $151.4 million budget by taking $5.2 million from reserves to pay for one-time expenses, leaving about $38.5 million in reserves. At the same time, Delray Beach spent slightly more than $1 million from its Utilities Department budget to fix the reclaimed water program.
The Health Department is expected to complete its review and determine the fine amount in another month or so, which the city can appeal to an administrative judge.
In the draft Jan. 7 letter, called a Civil Penalty Authorization Memo, the county director for the state Health Department said that Delray Beach had adopted a “Cross Connection/Backflow Prevention Program” on July 2, 2008.
“The City then failed to follow its plan,” wrote Dr. Alina Alonso, the director.
The letter also noted Delray Beach benefited financially by not implementing its plan to the detriment of its “residents’ health and welfare.”
“The City benefited from saving money through the years by avoiding or delaying the costs of compliance,” Alexander Shaw, Health Department spokesman, said in a Jan. 28 email to The Coastal Star.
The letter covers 11 potential violations.


Potential fines add up
The worst one of the 11: failure to provide adequate backflow prevention at 581 locations. Delray Beach will be fined $5,000 for each site or a total of $2.9 million, the Health Department proposes. To ensure the drinking water is safe, backflow preventers must be installed on each connection to stop reclaimed water from flowing back into the drinking water.
Reclaimed water is highly treated wastewater that is suitable only for lawn irrigation.
Eight other potential fines total $34,599.
The letter states the city may be fined for not implementing its cross connection control program, failing to create a public education program about reclaimed water and failing to keep records on each reclaimed water installation.
Two more violations covered failures to notify the public within 24 hours of a cross connection and to report the cross connection to the Health Department within 24 hours. 
The remaining three fines would be for failing to evaluate a customer’s property for cross connections and backflow preventers, failing to conduct periodic inspections of its reclaimed water sites and not color-coding the potable and reclaimed water pipes and fixtures.
The letter also proposes fining the city $20,000 for four cross connection problems in the past three years. Cross connections happen when the drinking water supply lines are connected to the reclaimed water lines, and are considered major violations by state health officials.
The city may also be fined $5,000 for lying or making misrepresentations to Health Department regulators about the reclaimed water system. The violation is not part of the Health Department guidelines, but it is included in the state Department of Environmental Protection rules and is considered major, according to the letter.
When the Health Department was asked if the city could use its slightly more than $1 million spent so far on fixing the reclaimed water problems to offset the fines, the department’s Shaw wrote: “The city can accurately state that it spent a lot of money to fix the problems, but the city’s expenditures were not spent to reduce the fines, they were spent to bring the reclaimed water program into compliance.”
If the Department of Health insists on the hefty fines, “the city will research its options at that time,” Laurie Menekou, founder and president of Conceptual Communications, wrote in a Jan. 27 email as she answered a question about whether the city would seek to be reimbursed from contractors hired to install the reclaimed water system or to inspect the installations.
Delray Beach hired Menekou’s firm for a flat fee of $59,995 on Dec. 21 to do crisis management public relations. All media questions about reclaimed water go to her.

A notice for customers
In mid-January, the Health Department leaders sent the draft letter of the proposed violations and a consent order to their Environmental Protection counterparts in West Palm Beach and Tallahassee for review.
The consent order is an agreement between the Health Department and Delray Beach over its reclaimed water program. The order still has to be reviewed by a judge.
As part of the proposed consent order, Delray Beach would be required to issue this public notice: “The City of Delray Beach cannot assure utility customers that the drinking water produced and distributed met the standards of the Safe Water Drinking Act for the period from inception of the reclaimed water service beginning in 2007 to the time reclaimed water was deactivated on February 4, 2020.”
On Aug. 10, the city emailed its residents saying Delray Beach potable water is safe to drink and meets all quality standards set by the state Health and Environmental Protection departments and the U.S. EPA.
The city and the state health officials have been in discussions all along.
Jennifer Alvarez, the interim city manager, told commissioners at their Jan. 19 meeting that Health Department leaders would talk again with the city before the violations are made final and that she promised to meet individually with the commissioners.
“The Department, as a courtesy, will notify the city prior to emailing the consent order,” wrote Shaw, the department spokesman.

‘Unable to refute’ charges
On Jan. 2, 2020, a South Ocean Boulevard homeowner called the department to say she was not adequately informed about a cross connection found at her house in December 2018.
The complaint triggered a Health Department investigation into the city’s reclaimed water program that has lasted more than a year.
On Feb. 4, 2020, the city was forced to turn off its reclaimed water system to avoid a citywide boil-water order triggered by the resident’s complaint. The system was turned back on in phases, with 90% of the service restored by the end of June.
Delray Beach’s Utilities Department hired inspectors to review each reclaimed water location for cross connections.
Then the city examined each site for backflow preventers. It found that 194 backflow devices had not been installed on the barrier island.
Delray Beach has used outside contractors to design, build and inspect the reclaimed water system. In the last area of the barrier island where reclaimed water was installed, 21 of 156 locations did not have backflow preventers.
Most of the city’s contracts called for the city to provide the backflow preventers and have a dedicated staff member inspect their installations. That employee, called a cross connection specialist, was supposed to work alongside a representative of the firm hired to do the final inspections.
Various utilities employees had this inspection work as part of their job duties, but no one was hired solely to do the inspections.
In early May, then-City Manager George Gretsas said the program was botched from its start in 2007. Eight weeks later, in late June, the City Commission suspended Gretsas for allegedly bullying an employee over the reclaimed water problems.
The commission fired him in November over other misconduct charges. Gretsas has received more than $150,000 in salary and benefits since he was suspended in June.
On July 1, the Health Department sent a warning letter to the city, listing 13 possible water violations. During a July 22 meeting between the Health Department and city leaders to discuss the regulatory concerns, “the city staff stated that while they were not at the city when all of the violations occurred, they were unable to refute any of the allegations in the warning letter,” according to the draft penalty letter.
In April, the city hired a firm to do a forensic study of its reclaimed water system. The city paid $20,000 for a report that was supposed to include determining responsibility for installing and inspecting the backflow devices.  
The investigator, Fred Bloetscher, president of Public Utility Management & Planning Services Inc., did not find a culprit because of the limited records the city gave him. Instead, according to his Oct. 23 report, Bloetscher found that Delray Beach did not have a point person in charge and lacked “institutional control” over the reclaimed water system.
“To complicate the problem, the City cannot test the majority of the current backflow devices because they … are buried,” Bloetscher wrote in a Jan. 27 email to The Coastal Star. “Backflow devices should be located above ground to prevent cross connections with stormwater/flooding.” 
Meanwhile, in the summer months of July through September, the Utilities Department paid a vendor $2,945 to remove reclaimed water meters from four oceanfront properties, including one Ocean Boulevard property where a cross connection was found in April.
The city passed an ordinance in 2007 making it mandatory to connect to reclaimed water if lines are laid nearby. It was unclear why these meters were removed.
The city also has hired outside counsel as it goes through the Health Department investigation process. The Lewis, Longman & Walker law firm was hired in mid-December to advise and represent the city in the reclaimed water investigation and pending enforcement action by the Health Department and by the state DEP regarding alleged potable water system violations. The firm’s governmental rate is $325 an hour. Alfred Malefatto, an environmental law attorney in the firm’s West Palm Beach office, and Frederick Aschauer in the Tallahassee office will represent Delray Beach. Aschauer specializes in environmental regulation and agency enforcement of permits.

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By Larry Barszewski

Stealing luxury is easier than you might think when it comes to cars in South Palm Beach County’s coastal communities.
While the U.S. top-10 list of stolen vehicles includes a number of Hondas, Toyotas and pickup trucks, most of the 11 cars ripped off in Gulf Stream last year had more panache: three Porsches, two Land Rovers, two Mercedes-Benzes, two BMWs, an Audi and a Dodge (a rental, of course). Thieves found 10 of them unlocked with the keys or key fobs inside.
The seven cars taken in Ocean Ridge in 2020 were also left unlocked with the key/key fobs inside. It was the same story in Highland Beach, where a Mercedes and a Cadillac were stolen, and for the lone auto theft in Manalapan — a Rolls-Royce.
Despite years of police messages advising people to do more to keep their cars secure, the warnings often fail to register with residents who have been lulled into a false sense of complacency by the barrier island’s low crime rates and small-town ambience.
“I think that sense of security and well-being in where you live, that’s why we have to hammer away at ‘please lock your car; don’t leave valuables inside your car; take your keys with you,’” Ocean Ridge Police Chief Hal Hutchins said. “I don’t want you to build a fortress around yourself, but take simple precautions and avoid giving someone else the opportunity.”
Car thefts are a problem nationwide and the keyless ignition systems haven’t helped as careless owners like the convenience of leaving their key fobs in center console cupholders. Still, there’s no denying the barrier island’s upscale reputation is a magnet for thieves looking for pricier models.
The good news? Many of the automobiles are recovered, generally very quickly, with little or no damage done. They’re often found abandoned in Broward County or northern Miami-Dade County, possibly taken by teens out for joyrides or used in other crimes.
But some of the priciest autos are still missing. The two Land Rovers and two of three Porsches stolen in Gulf Stream remain missing, raising concern that organized crime may play a role in at least some of the thefts. One of the Land Rovers, valued at $217,000, was taken from a billionaire’s gated estate that has its own security team.
Police won’t get a better idea of what’s happening until they’re able to nab more thieves.
“I firmly believe that it is organized crime that is doing this,” Manalapan Police Chief Carmen Mattox said of the auto thefts in his town and other coastal communities over the past year. “Our investigations have not concluded anything other than recovery of the vehicle. We have yet to make an arrest for anything.”

No hour of day is safe
The thefts happen both at night and in broad daylight — even when a driver steps away from a car for just a few minutes. Videos from license-plate reading cameras have recorded stolen vehicles heading to the mainland before anyone knew they’d been taken. Sometimes they are followed by another vehicle stolen from somewhere else, likely driven by an accomplice who brought the car thief into town.
“It’s been very unpredictable,” Gulf Stream Police Chief Ed Allen said. “It’s not like a lot of crimes, where they develop a pattern. Here it’s been all hours of the day or night.”
After Gulf Stream police responded to the report of a late-afternoon theft of a Mercedes on Polo Drive a year ago, they found an Infiniti stolen from Boca Raton parked in a driveway just a few doors away, probably driven by a thief who switched rides to the Mercedes.
There was more to the story that day. A rented Dodge Charger parked next door disappeared the next morning. The people renting the Charger were going out to dinner at around the same time the Mercedes was stolen. They couldn’t find the Charger’s keys, which they thought had been left in the vehicle, so they took another car instead and planned to look for the missing keys later. The Charger was still there when they came home that night, but was gone by morning.
Police recovered the Dodge the next day in Sunrise and the Mercedes a week after that in North Miami.
At a Gulf Stream home on Ocean Boulevard in June, a Porsche owner left the car unlocked with the keys inside and proceeded to get dinner through a food delivery service that night. The car was gone the following morning, apparently stolen by thieves who knew it was unlocked with the keys inside.
Ocean Ridge license-plate reading cameras showed a stolen Lexus coming onto the island at 6:40 that morning and heading back over the bridge — following the now-stolen Porsche — five minutes later. The Porsche has not been recovered.

8511628267?profile=RESIZE_710xThieves targeted unlocked cars that had keys or key fobs left inside. The Coastal Star


Why fancy cars are marks
Police say all the fancy doo-dads cars have these days can make a thief’s job easier.
“The invention of keyless start technology reduces vehicle security when the key fob is left inside an unattended vehicle. Groups of juveniles are targeting these vehicles to steal or burglarize,” Mattox said in a memo to Manalapan commissioners in January.
Some newer model cars have telltale exterior signs that show they are unlocked, making them an easier mark for would-be thieves, he said. The thieves will either search the car for valuables, or if they’re luckier and a key fob has been left inside, they’ll just drive off with the car and its contents, he said.
Highland Beach Police Chief Craig Hartmann says residents shouldn’t let their guard down — no matter what kind of car they own — when it comes to these thieves.
“They’re not fussy. Obviously, they’ll take any car that has the keys in it, so it doesn’t have to be the top-echelon cars,” Hartmann said.
Additional police staffing, more patrols, camera surveillance and other measures have been an increased deterrent against auto thefts and other crimes, but it’s hard to protect against owners who leave an open invitation to would-be thieves, police said.
“I remember one of the folks where the car was stolen, said, ‘Where I grew up, we never locked our doors,’” Hutchins said. “That’s not a prudent thing to do in this day and age, no matter where you are.”

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You may see campaign signs for the March election in front of our office.
They were approved by our landlord, not by us.
We are doing our best to stay away from the toxicity of certain Facebook pages — unless we feel a need to correct a lie concerning our business.
We haven’t spoken to one of our original business partners since he filed to run for office. We’ve built a wall between our journalism and his candidacy.
None of this has been difficult to do. It’s who we are. Our readers know that.
Still … in all of our 11 years of publishing, I’ve never wanted so badly to do candidate recommendations.
But we don’t, we won’t and, in fact, we can’t afford to.
The economics are simple: We’ve never had enough staff to sit down with every candidate and ask questions that ferret out his or her platform and purpose for running for office. That takes time and resources far beyond our small-newspaper capabilities.
And this year, as we struggle with the economic fallout of a global pandemic, we find we can no longer afford to give free space to letters drafted by candidates or by anyone endorsing — or criticizing — a candidate for office.
Every inch of newsprint we use must be supported by paid advertising. That’s how we are able to keep our distribution free and focused on the readers in our small communities. It’s a business model our advertisers embrace, since we deliver their messages directly into the hands of a highly desirable audience.
We have continued our practice of running candidate profiles for all contested races. We ask each candidate the same questions and hope the side-by-side comparison of their answers is helpful.
But with the fog of politics so thick and nasty this year, I fear voters in our municipalities may get lost and lose confidence in local government — with unintended consequences as a harsh result. A simple majority vote, after all, can decide the character and well-being of our coastal communities.
So, in lieu of recommendations from your trusted local newspaper, you will all need to educate yourselves on the candidates.
It may feel unsavory to step into the miasma of politics in 2021, but be bold. Ask your candidates about their motivations for seeking office, research who supports them (and why), learn what you can about their backgrounds. And, importantly, do your best to sort the truth from the lies and hyperbole.
In other words, know your candidates. And vote.

— Mary Kate Leming, Editor

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8511573655?profile=RESIZE_710xAustin Rigal, 14, an eighth-grader at Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, got more than 200 sponsors to fund wreaths for veterans at Palm Beach Memorial Park Cemetery in Lantana, with help from his father, Robert Rigal. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star


By Larry Keller

Doing good was never so hard for Austin Rigal. Every year around the holidays, the 14-year-old picks a charity or two to support. In December, he settled on Wreaths Across America, an organization that coordinates annual wreath-laying ceremonies at veterans’ graves nationwide, including Arlington National Cemetery. In doing so, Austin discovered that Palm Beach Memorial Park Cemetery in Lantana had sponsors for only 19 wreaths, although 200 veterans are buried there.
An eighth-grader at Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Austin hoped to persuade friends and others to sponsor wreaths at $15 each. But he had barely begun when he learned the deadline had passed. So he told his parents, Robert and Ingrid Rigal, that he would like to sponsor the 181 wreaths that the cemetery’s general manager needed to reach her goal.
Robert made sure his son understood what that entailed and offered to split the tab. Austin’s share was about $1,350.
It was doable, however, because although Austin doesn’t get an allowance, he sets aside money he receives from gifts and so forth. His dad pays him a generous amount of interest to encourage him to save. He does the same for Austin’s 10-year-old sister, Lauren, whose most recent charities were Operation Smile and the ASPCA.
After the deadline passed, the website at Saint Andrew’s posted an item about Austin’s efforts. Teachers and parents then sponsored wreaths, and some volunteered at the ceremony. The cemetery not only received 200 wreaths for veterans’ graves, but also sponsors for 45 more that will be applied to next year’s event.
But first, another hurdle arose. On the eve of the Dec. 23 ceremony, logistical issues prevented all the wreaths from being delivered on time.
“The staff from the funeral home and my family drove around and bought wreaths the night before to fill the gap. Ultimately, we got enough wreaths,” Robert Rigal says.
In the end, all turned out well. Some of Austin’s friends showed up to volunteer at the ceremony. So did his sister and a few of her friends. A school security guard who is a Marine Corps veteran came. A few wounded veterans were there. There were Boy Scouts, and fire department personnel did a presentation of the colors. A priest spoke.
And something else happened that was unexpected. Cemetery officials presented Austin with a display case containing emblems from all the service branches and the Pledge of Allegiance.
“He really appreciated it and now it holds a prominent place for him in his room,” his dad says. “It ended up being a great event.”
“It was much better than I thought it would be,” Austin says. “I didn’t expect that many people to come.”
Wreaths Across America wasn’t a surprising choice for Austin to support. “I’ve been interested in military history and the Marine Corps ever since I can remember,” he says. “My dad is a former Marine. I’ve always loved the Marine Corps and interesting battles. I plan on going to the Naval Academy and becoming an officer.”
Other charities he has supported include the Wounded Warrior Project, Shriners Hospitals for Children and an organization that builds houses for veterans with disabilities.
Charity work is a pleasure, Austin says. It wasn’t the gift from the cemetery or compliments from friends and teachers — even the woman who cuts his hair — that meant the most in the aftermath of his effort at the Lantana cemetery.
“It’s an amazing feeling to know that you’re helping somebody, and people who sacrificed for their country for people like us,” Austin says.
“So being able to give back to them, even after they have passed away, feels great. It doesn’t matter if it’s a veteran or not, it feels great to help people in need, people who deserve better.”

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The mayor, elected every three years, presides over a commission of four other members who are elected to three-year alternating terms by the community at large. The mayor and two commissioners up for re-election March 9 each have a challenger.

Related Stories: Two vie to be mayor | Mayoral race attracts outside money, mainly to challenger's campaign | Three candidate forums can be viewed virtually


Candidate profiles were compiled via telephone interviews. Candidates were asked to supply personal information regarding their age, education, marital status and number of years residing in their municipalities. They were also asked to provide a brief history of their professional life and experience, if any, in holding public office. Finally, they were asked about their positions on issues facing their communities and to provide an overarching quote detailing the reasons they believe they should be elected (or re-elected) along with a current photograph.

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Delray Beach will hold four virtual candidate forums. They are:
Feb. 10, 6-9 p.m., streamed live from the Arts Garage stage to the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce Facebook page (
Candidates will receive questions from the Chamber Advocacy Committee and the public. Candidates will pick the questions randomly and they each will have two minutes for opening and closing statements.
Feb. 11, 6 p.m., When We All Vote Palm Beach County hosts a virtual candidate forum. Register at For more information email Space is limited.

Feb.18, 6:30 p.m., Hosted by League of Women Voters and St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church at 46 SW 10th Avenue. Candidates answer written questions from the moderator and real-time questions live-streamed via St. Paul virtual platform. Observers allowed by invitation only; all documented CDC guidelines observed. For invitation or live-stream information: 243-1004;
Feb. 24, 7 p.m., Beach Property Owners’ Association virtual candidates forum will feature pre-recorded interviews of the candidates focusing on barrier island issues. Viewers will not be allowed to ask questions.
BPOA members will receive the Zoom link; non-members can request the link by sending their name and address to

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8511462880?profile=RESIZE_710xPalm Beach County sheriff’s deputies said they were looking for the man who held up the popular Seaside Deli & Market in the County Pocket on State Road A1A just south of Briny Breezes.
The suspect, captured on camera wearing a jacket with the word ‘Navy’ on the front and back, entered the store shortly before 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday and pointed a gun at the employees, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about the suspect, who made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, to call 561-688-4717 or to call Crime Stoppers at 800-458-TIPS (8477). Information may also be emailed to ABOVE: Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star BELOW: Photo from PBSO


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By Rich Pollack

The number of crimes in most towns and cities in coastal south Palm Beach County fell during the first six months of 2020, according to state statistics. Coronavirus restrictions early in the pandemic are getting some of the credit.
In Highland Beach, the number of reported crimes dropped by more than 70%, from 28 to eight, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Uniform Crime Report. In Manalapan the number dropped from 12 to four and in South Palm Beach from six to two, similar to Highland Beach in terms of percentage.
Ocean Ridge, which includes crimes in Briny Breezes, had one fewer reported crime (11) in the first six months of 2020 than it did during the same period the previous year. Of the smaller area coastal towns, only Gulf Stream reported an increase — with the number of crimes doubling due to a rash of auto thefts.
Still, the number of overall crimes in the coastal communities remained low, with Gulf Stream’s 14 total ranking as the most in any one small town.
Of the larger cities only Delray Beach experienced an increase — a small one at that — while Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and Lantana all witnessed declines.
The drop in crime locally during the first six months of 2020 mirrors statewide numbers that show close to a 12% drop, and county numbers that show a drop of close to 5%.
Although there is no way to know for certain, police chiefs in Highland Beach and Ocean Ridge say that restrictions early in the pandemic — which shuttered businesses, parks and beaches — may have kept would-be criminals away.
“During a short period of time when more severe restrictions were in place, the number of certain types of crimes went down a little,” said Ocean Ridge Police Chief Hal Hutchins.
Those types — burglaries and thefts from unlocked vehicles, which Hutchins calls opportunity crimes — were down as more people stayed home during spring lockdowns and fewer people visited the area.
“The fact that we had less people and less traffic, that did help us to a limited extent,” he said.
Highland Beach Police Chief Craig Hartmann said that more people at home translates to better vigilance. “There are more eyes and ears out there when people aren’t traveling,” he said.
For Highland Beach, as well as other towns, a focus on prevention — with the help of enhanced technology — could also have been a factor driving the drop in crime during the first six months of 2020.
Manalapan Police Chief Carmen Mattox says that the addition of four police officers, bringing the department’s staff to 12, has played a role in keeping crime down.
“Increasing our visibility, improving our technology and improving communication has been a big help,” he said.
One tool in the technology kit, the installation of license plate readers throughout the area, has played a role in reducing crime, according to Hartmann, especially as their usage continues to increase.
“License plate readers are so important because they give you a level of alert,” he said.
He pointed to a recent incident in which a license plate reader picked up a suspected stolen car passing through Highland Beach. When officers located the vehicle, they discovered that the two people inside were wanted in connection with armed robberies.
Hartmann had a feeling the suspects — who had a loaded gun in the car — planned more crimes, but said there’s no way to know for sure.
How much crime was deterred by license plate readers, the increased awareness and vigilance of residents, and actions by law enforcement are not reflected in the statewide crime report, he pointed out.
“There’s no statistic for what was prevented,” Hartmann said.

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By Charles Elmore

Health agencies in Palm Beach County will receive 9,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses during the first week of February, an agency chief said, a sign of change after outcry about overwhelming reliance on Publix to distribute doses locally.
If the vaccine supply keeps growing, that could open the door to inoculating the general public by late spring or summer, said Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.
“We need to keep those expectations realistic and continue to realize that it’s a matter of supply and demand,” Alonso said.
Her comments Feb. 2 to the County Commission came after state officials said they expected an increase of about 40,000 weekly doses from the federal government, up from around 266,000 arriving in the state each week. That allows more vaccine to flow to counties.
By Feb. 1, nearly 11% of Palm Beach County’s residents, or more than 160,000, had received at least one shot, with more than 20,000 receiving both shots. That vaccination percentage topped peer counties including Broward and Miami-Dade.
Still, there remains a considerable way to go in a county of 1.5 million people, including more than 360,000 people 65 or older, according to census data. And exactly how doses get distributed has remained a hot topic.
For week after week, scarce supplies have made a vaccine jab seem like a long shot.
“I feel like I won the lottery,” said Debbie Miglis, 65, one of 50 people to get shots in Highland Beach in January after appointments through town government there filled up in 97 seconds.
For others, the quest has involved rising before dawn on selected days when Publix offers appointments online, only to find spots quickly taken in most cases. That has meant starting over the next available day.

8511455487?profile=RESIZE_710xTOP: During a Jan. 15 vaccination event at St. Lucy Catholic Church in Highland Beach, police direct traffic and answer questions.
ABOVE: Resident Debbie Miglis receives a shot. LEFT: A Delray Beach paramedic gets ready to give a shot to one of the 50 people who received first doses.
Photos by Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who raised concerns about vaccine access for residents in the Glades and other communities not near a Publix pharmacy, also pressed Alonso about creating better ways for people to sign up for appointments.
On Jan. 29, the state launched, a website that was supposed to let people 65 and older and other eligible individuals get preregistered so they can be contacted later when appointments are available.
But within hours, Alonso said her agency would discourage residents from using the new system because no appointments were available. She said the focus would be on clearing a backlog of appointment requests on her department’s own system that previously led local health agencies to stop accepting new inquiries.
Palm Beach County residents can still use the new state site, Alonso’s agency said, “but at this time, appointments are not available in Palm Beach County for those registering in this system.”
At the Feb. 2 meeting, McKinlay said Alonso’s position on the new system’s use “is pushing people to other counties.”
Alonso said she did not like waiting lists, which can leave people “frustrated” if they don’t deliver quickly.
Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth, whose district covers portions of the county’s southeastern communities, has noted the county’s Health Care District released a preregistration website at
The health district “advised they are still working with the existing state reservation list with the Florida Department of Health,” Weinroth told constituents by email. “New sign-ups will go into a virtual waiting room until they complete the list and begin accepting new reservations.”
Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer said he has advocated for a more integrated and accessible system to register for vaccines.
“Like many of you, I’ve been frustrated at the many different places to sign up,” Singer told residents by email. “For weeks, I’ve called upon the state to centralize sign-ups.”
He said he made repeated requests to the governor’s office and state agencies for “equitable access,” such as offering telephone as well as web options, which the state’s new system does include.
The flow of new doses to local health agencies as well as to Publix signals a change of course for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who earlier defended making the supermarket chain the primary conduit for vaccine distribution in Palm Beach County.
County Mayor Dave Kerner said he received a call from the governor after commissioners and others made their concerns clear: “He said message received.”
Currently eligible for vaccinations in Florida are state residents 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities, health workers with direct patient contact and others deemed “extremely vulnerable” to COVID-19.
Controversy has attended the distribution of vaccines since they began arriving more than a month ago.
“It’s the hottest subject for all,” Highland Beach Mayor Doug Hillman said.
Highland Beach Town Manager Marshall Labadie noted in a Jan. 5 meeting: The town of Palm Beach “miraculously pulled a rabbit out and came up with some vaccines” when they were not widely available across Palm Beach County.
After an initial explanation that Palm Beach was uniquely prepared to start delivering 1,000 doses, Alonso later blamed “miscommunication.”


Staff writers Rich Pollack, Jane Smith and Mary Hladky contributed to this story.

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By Jane Smith

The historic Seaboard Air Line Railway Station in Delray Beach will be renovated and become home to the city’s Health and Wellness Center and Human Resources offices, city commissioners decided Jan. 12.
The $2.6 million rehabilitation cost will come from two sources, Public Works Director Missie Barletto said at the workshop.
The bulk, $1.8 million, will come from an insurance payout after vandals set the station on fire in February 2020. Her department will contribute another $209,000, leaving about a $630,000 gap.
She estimated that moving the Health and Wellness Center would save $530,000 in rent over 10 years. The center is in a privately owned building at 525 NE Third Ave. It provides annual physicals, flu shots, X-rays, acute care and generic drugs at no cost to city employees and their families.
“We do not have dates for the construction completion for the depot as the construction management company is still in the planning, design and permit phase. In general, we expect construction to be complete within two years,” Gina Carter, city spokeswoman, wrote on Jan. 22 in response to a question from The Coastal Star.
 The wellness and human resources centers will move into the facility when it’s complete, she wrote.
Moving Human Resources will free up space in City Hall.
The train station sits just west of Interstate 95 and north of Atlantic Avenue. Designed by Gustav Maass in the Mediterranean Revival style, the station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The city listed it on the Local Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Amtrak last used the train station in 1995.
Delray Beach paid $1.58 million in 2005 for the historic train station on nearly 1 acre. At one time, commissioners discussed spending $325,000 to renovate it.
A Fire Department official toured the site on Feb. 25, 2020, the day of the fire, Roger Cope, a Delray Beach architect, told the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency Board. The official determined the walls were structurally sound, said Cope, who was involved with restoring the train station.
“But the wooden structure supporting the roof was destroyed,” Cope said.
The station can be restored, he said.
“The train station did not have sprinklers to prevent the fire from spreading,” said Bill Bathurst, then a CRA board member. “Our historic gems need to be protected.”

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By Jane Smith

Delray Beach will allow its Human Resources Department to conduct a search for city manager candidates, a majority of the commission agreed at a special meeting held on Jan. 19.
Faced with the higher cost of hiring a search firm, about $55,000, versus the lower cost of an internal recruitment process at $7,000, three commissioners decided to go for the lower cost approach.
Using an outside search firm “is the wrong choice because the cost is wrong in these pandemic times,” said Deputy Vice Mayor Shirley Johnson. “And it didn’t work the last two times.”
The commission ended up firing Mark Lauzier and George Gretsas, two recent city managers found by outside search firms.
An outside search firm would cost the city an average of $50,000, plus costs for candidates’ travel and lodging at $2,000, and then hosting a reception and tour could be an additional $3,000, according to Ebony Olivier, a Human Resources generalist.
Using an internal recruitment method, Olivier estimated, the advertising cost would be $2,000 to the various job websites and specialty associations, such as the International City/County Management Association. The travel, lodging, reception and tour costs would be similar.
Commissioner Adam Frankel said he preferred to let the new commission make that decision. City Commission elections will be held in March.
“But if we can’t do that, I say we give it to Ms. Alvarez,” Frankel said. Jennifer Alvarez, the former purchasing director, has been interim city manager since late June. “I haven’t seen employee morale this high at City Hall,” he added.
Vice Mayor Ryan Boylston did not attend the special meeting.
The last time the city used an internal recruitment process for a city manager was in 2012, Olivier said. That search produced Louie Chapman as the city manager.
Chapman eventually was let go by the City Commission in mid-2014, after the body tried to fire him but did not have the required four commission votes. Chapman received nearly $73,000 in taxpayer money as severance.
Johnson wanted to involve a citizen advisory committee to help review the initial selection of qualified candidates. Doing so would add another month to the selection process, Olivier said.
“I think we should do this in stages and see what comes in,” Mayor Shelly Petrolia said. “Most people are not aware of how the city works. City employees are the most impacted by this decision.”
A lawsuit against the city filed by Lauzier has been postponed to start sometime between April 26 and May 21. He is seeking a jury trial. The county court system recently started holding jury trials in criminal cases that had previously been delayed because of pandemic concerns.
Delray Beach fired Lauzier in March 2019 and he sued the city for wrongful dismissal in April 2019.

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Joe Farrell, a 20-year Lantana resident and an alternate on the town’s planning and zoning commission, has ended his run for mayor. The election will be March 9.
Town Clerk Kathleen Dominguez said Farrell’s name will not appear on the ballot.
Farrell, a 58-year-old flooring distributor, said he was getting out of the race because he wouldn’t be able to commit 100% to the position due to family obligations.
“I have advocated for a change in the mayor’s office and do not want to split the vote for change without being very confident that I would carry the day,” he said.
With Farrell out, it is a two-man contest between incumbent David Stewart, 67, and Robert Hagerty, 56.
Farrell said he would support Hagerty.
— Mary Thurwachter

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The Lantana Chamber of Commerce will host a mayoral candidate forum at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at the town’s recreation center, 418 S. Dixie Highway. Masks and social distancing requirements will be enforced.
To attend online, go to
pwd=Z3pV3A1Sk8vYklneDdJRlN6V0s2dz09. Meeting ID: 926 9167 8712. Passcode: 771713.
Questions may be emailed to the Chamber of Commerce at

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Ocean Ridge is teaming with the League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County to hold a virtual candidates forum from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 11.
 The forum will be held through Zoom at:
By telephone, dial 646-558-8656. The meeting ID is 993 9440 5913, passcode 219478.
  Residents can submit questions to the candidates until 3 p.m. on Feb. 11 by emailing
All questions must be addressed to the group, not any individual candidate. 

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The legislative branch of the Ocean Ridge town government consists of five commissioners elected at-large, including a mayor selected by the Town Commission. Two seats will be filled March 9, including one currently held by departing Commissioner Phil Besler. Of the four candidates, the two getting the most votes will be elected.

Related Story: Candidate forum set for Feb. 11


Candidate profiles were compiled via telephone interviews. Candidates were asked to supply personal information regarding their age, education, marital status and number of years residing in their municipalities. They were also asked to provide a brief history of their professional life and experience, if any, in holding public office. Finally, they were asked about their positions on issues facing their communities and to provide an overarching quote detailing the reasons they believe they should be elected (or re-elected) along with a current photograph.

Candidate profiles compiled
by Steven J. Smith

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By Dan Moffett

Gulf Stream commissioners are poised to begin a year of planning and deliberation to prepare for some significant construction projects aimed at improving the town’s defenses against king tides and storm surges.
The work ahead comes in response to an engineers’ report in December that identified a half-dozen upgrades needed to address vulnerabilities in the town’s stormwater drainage system.
“I think the rest of this calendar year is a planning year,” Town Manager Greg Dunham told the commission during its meeting on Jan. 11. “A year for planning, design, risk assessment and bidding out the projects.”
Dunham said construction should begin in 2022. It is likely to take months to complete.
In December, consultants from West Palm Beach-based engineering firm Baxter & Woodman recommended replacing and adding more Intracoastal drainage valves, regrading stretches of low-lying streets — in particular, the west ends of Banyan Road and Palm Way — and working with owners of The Little Club to upgrade areas at the golf course.
Dunham said the town is already shopping for the valves and estimates put their cost at about $68,000. Installation is expected to begin this year. Other improvements will be more complicated.
Jeff Hiscock, one of engineering consultants who wrote the report, put it simply to Dunham: “You guys need a pond.”
The idea is to construct a retention/detention pond that would help collect stormwater in low-lying areas before discharging it into the town’s drainage system.
Dunham knows something about these ponds. “I’ve done that in Ocean Ridge,” he told the commission. Dunham was the town manager there from 1998 to 2002 and implemented a stormwater study that led to the winning of several grants and loans to build the town’s detention pond at Woolbright Road and State Road A1A. The pond remains an important piece of Ocean Ridge’s drainage network today.
One thing Gulf Stream doesn’t have to worry about is ready cash. The town has about $5.6 million in unrestricted reserves that can be put to work on upgrades.
“It’s great to be able to make these improvements and still be in good financial condition,” said Commissioner Paul Lyons.
Also during the January meeting, the commission unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that updates coastal management policies in the town’s comprehensive plan. The amendments go hand in hand with the proposed drainage improvements and satisfy the state Legislature’s order that municipalities adjust to rising seas.
The statewide focus on king tide response comes in the wake of a South Florida Water Management District study that found the average high tide has risen about 6 inches over the last 35 years and could rise more than twice that by 2070. Ú

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By Mary Thurwachter

When it comes to election law, or any law for that matter, the more precise the language, the better. Crystal clear is best.
So says Max Lohman, Lantana’s town attorney, who ought to know.
“I have the dubious distinction of probably litigating more election lawsuits in the last two or three years than nearly any other attorney in Palm Beach County,” Lohman told the Town Council on Jan. 11. He advised the city to tweak its election law to avoid lawsuits or runoff elections, which could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The Town Council approved these two tweaks: adding a subsection related to the regulation of invalid votes cast for a candidate who has died, withdrawn or is ineligible for having been arrested for or charged with a felony; changing the word “petition” to “petitions.”
The second change came about because of a Lantana litigation last year after one candidate failed to file all his petitions. Candidates need to obtain signatures via the petition process to have their names on the ballot. 
“During the lead-up to last year’s council election we had an issue with petitions and qualifications, and we ended up in litigation because our code used to say petition instead of petitions,” Lohman said. “We needed to change that to make it crystal clear what paperwork is required for the candidates.”
The other change stemmed from a lawsuit in Palm Beach Gardens, a municipality Lohman also represents. The suit was precipitated because of a withdrawn candidate, he explained.
“Back then, Palm Beach Gardens required a majority of votes to win, just like we do here still. After the ballot was printed, one of the three candidates withdrew and said he didn’t want to be elected.
“We posted signs at polling locations, we tried to inform people that this person was not running, they cannot take office if someone votes for him, yet miraculously 1,100 people still cast their votes” for that person, Lohman said. “This precipitated a lawsuit over whether those votes should be counted in the total. If the votes were counted, nobody got a majority and so then you have to have a runoff,” which the city avoided.

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