at the contentious Dec. 13 Delray Beach commission meeting.
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Jane Smith
The Delray Beach City Commission remains deadlocked over filling a seat left vacant when Vice Mayor Al Jacquet resigned Nov. 8 to take a state House seat won in the November election. It’s a temporary vacancy, however, because that commission seat will be up for grabs on the March 14 ballot.
The commission’s disagreement has created a rift in Delray Beach. It’s led to emotionally charged City Commission meetings, a nasty mailer that criticized the mayor, an automated phone call that rebuked two city commissioners, and two court papers filed to force the city to follow its charter and hold a special election within 60 days.
The first legal action, filed Dec. 7 by resident Kenneth MacNamee, who applied to fill Jacquet’s seat, was set aside after resident J. Reeve Bright filed a similar action on Dec. 15.
Bright had secured a hearing on Dec. 30. The former lawyer personally served legal documents to the city manager and city commissioners. But because of this, the judge ruled that the action could not be heard Dec. 30, saying that Bright must use a process server to hand out legal documents.
After the documents are properly served, a new hearing will be scheduled within two days. As of press time, the hearing date hadn’t been set.
Meanwhile, the deadlock is building walls in Delray Beach.
“I used to think all of the negativity was just on Facebook,” resident and business owner Ryan Boylston said at the Dec. 13 commission meeting. “But in the last week, I’ve seen a mailer, I’ve heard about a robo call and I’ve seen people wearing T-shirts on a Delray Beach float (in the holiday parade) that I didn’t think were prideful of our city.”
The people on the Garlic Fest float included former Mayor Jeff Perlman. He wrote a blog post about the Dec. 10 parade, saying he wore the T-shirt with its “Lake Worth Making Delray Nervous” wording in jest.
“If a Garlic Fest float can anger you, I suppose you are blessed,” he wrote on the YourDelrayBoca.com website under a blog post called Teachable Moments.
Twice the Delray Beach commissioners have voted on filling the vacant seat. They agreed the commission needed a minority representative to replace Jacquet, who is Haitian-American, but they were split on whether Josh Smith or Yvonne Odom, both African-Americans, should fill the seat temporarily.
Odom is a retired educator. She remains active in the city’s youth athletic leagues and promised not to run in March.
“We, the citizens of Delray, have always been able to talk it out,” she said at the Dec. 13 commission meeting.
Most of the speakers on Dec. 6 and 13 supported her.
Smith also attended the meetings, but he did not speak publicly. A retired school administrator, he ran unsuccessfully for the commission seat now held by Mitch Katz. He also served on the city’s code enforcement board and has filed paperwork to run for Vice Mayor Jordana Jarjura’s seat in March.
Jarjura and Mayor Cary Glickstein supported Odom, while Commissioners Katz and Shelly Petrolia backed Smith.
The nasty mailer was sent in early December to a select group of city voters, usually directed to the man of the house. The anonymous mailer blamed the mayor for all of the city’s problems.
But Boylston, who is also chairman of the taxpayer-supported Downtown Development Authority, told the commissioners they all shared the blame. “The mailer had facts on it,” he said Dec. 13. “It’s all of your fault.”
The day before that meeting, an automated call was made to some residents. The caller said she was Melanie with an important Delray Beach update. She went on to chide Katz and Petrolia “for putting politics ahead of what’s best for our community.”
At the Dec. 13 meeting, resident Nancy MacManus said the call offended her because she believes all commissioners are working hard.
That meeting imploded when Glickstein criticized Katz and Petrolia for not allowing another vote that would select their top three choices, suggested by Jarjura as a way to find commonality among them.
But the extra vote could be in violation of the city’s charter, which was why Petrolia said she did not want to do it.
“I’m ashamed to sit up here with the two of you with this community sitting out there,” Glickstein said Dec. 13, referring to black residents.
Petrolia countered, “Likewise, mayor.”
But Glickstein was not finished. “To Ryan Boylston, who said it’s our fault, you’re right,” the mayor said. “I own the piece that I haven’t been able to create a collegiate atmosphere this town deserves.
“I’m trying to get you to see how people who have been stepped on for years and all they want is to have someone sit up here for three months, even if nothing happens.”
Katz took offense to what he called “a lecture,” saying he didn’t need another dad.
Glickstein and City Attorney Max Lohman said the county supervisor of elections was not able to hold an election within 60 days. The supervisor offered to host one in February at the same time as elections in Palm Beach and Hypoluxo, which would be a few days beyond the 60-day limit outlined in Delray’s charter.
They also pointed out that a special election would cost the city at least $75,000 and the election could be confusing to city voters when there is a municipal election in March.
But Bright and MacNamee disagreed.
“We have a charter that runs our city; it’s not up to the mayor, and he needs to understand that,” Bright said Dec. 30.