Baker Co. commissioner reaches out to McKinlay on opioids

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

Baker County Commissioner Cathy Rhoden reached out to Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay for tips on how to start an opioids task force, an email exchange between the two commissioners shows.

“Our county, Baker County, is heavy into meth addiction and now we are seeing heroin move in,” Rhoden wrote to McKinlay.

But Rhoden has a more personal motivation to get involved in the fight.

“With a daughter who is a heroin addict and a grandson who is in prison from meth addiction I would like to do whatever it takes to educate and help our community about this issue,” Rhoden wrote.

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The daughter of a former aide to McKinlay died of an opioid overdose in November, a day before The Palm Beach Post published a series of articles on the devastation the crisis has brought to the county.

McKinlay has become a vocal advocate for more state and local action to combat the crisis, which has not only devastated families but wreaked havoc on local budgets.

The commissioner pushed for Gov. Rick Scott to declare a public health emergency, a move he ultimately took. And McKinlay has asked the county attorney to research the possibility of bringing suit against pharmaceutical companies, whose potent products are at the heart of the crisis.

GENERATION HEROIN: Read The Post’s award-winning coverage

Delray Beach has decided to file suit against Big Pharma, a decision McKinlay shared Wednesday with other elected officials as they participated in a joint meeting between the Palm Beach County Commission and the Palm Beach County League of Cities.

Responding to Rhoden about forming a task force, McKinlay reached out to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Houston Park.

“He led the charge,” McKinlay wrote. “I’ll ask him to call you.”

McKinlay invited Rhoden to Palm Beach County to attend an opioid task force meeting and offered sympathy for her family’s struggles.

“Thanks for sharing your story,” McKinlay wrote. “I am so sorry your family has been dealing with this.”

PBC looking to boost spending to combat heroin/opioid crisis

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche at county budget workshop, March 25, 2015 (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg)

Palm Beach County commissioners, opening discussions about their 2018 budget, are considering setting aside $2 million to combat the ongoing heroin/opioid crisis.

The Palm Beach Post has provided extensive coverage of that crisis, which has devastated families and strained the resources of first responders and hospitals.

Commissioners are considering dipping into its reserves to boost current year spending to $1 million to combat the problem.

“I think this is a drop in the bucket given the scale of the problem,” Commissioner Hal Valeche said of the proposed expenditures.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay agreed.

“Anyone who fails to see this as the public health crisis that it is is walking around with their eyes closed,” she said.

Check with later today for more on the county’s initial budget discussions.

Registration for Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Academy starts Feb. 3

cjclogo150Registration runs through 5 p.m. Feb. 3 for the 31st annual Criminal Justice Academy of the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission.

The 10-week free program runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on consecutive Mondays,  Feb. 6 to April 17.

Lectures are provided by local, state and federal law enforcement professionals. Participants will learn about local law enforcement including special operations at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. They will tour the main jail, a courthouse, and the Medical Examiner’s Office. For the first month, classes will be held at West Palm Beach Police headquarters at 600 Banyan Street in West Palm Beach.

Registration is limited to 50 people. Call (561) 355-4943 or visit

Jupiter Farms man released from South Korea jail

Julius Malinowski (Family photo)

Julius Malinowski is coming home.

The 79-year-old retired Federal Reserve vice president, who winters in Jupiter Farms, has been released from jail in South Korea and arrives Tuesday night in Miami. He’ll spend a few days at the Jupiter Farms home of his son Kent before returning to Virginia, Kent said in an email.

Julius Malinowski has been in a South Korea jail since Nov. 10, charged with fraud, his son said. The family says he is the real victim, set up by people posing as executives of North Carolina-based BB&T Bank to unknowingly rip off a South Korean businessman.

Kent Malinowski said Dec. 21 that his father’s attorneys have told him his father agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a 1-year sentence that was suspended.

Kent said at the time he had an emotional phone call of less than 10 minutes with his father, who was awaiting clearance to leave. He said his father “choked up, and said to me, ‘Thank you… thank you…for all you did to get me out.  You saved my life.’  That’s when I couldn’t hold back my own tears. Both of us… on the phone… sobbing like little kids. This phone call was the single greatest gift of my life…it’s taken me 57 years to experience the unrestrained joy of a Christmas miracle.”





Commissioners get committee assignments for 2017

Palm Beach County commissioners have their committee and board assignments for 2017, with the commission’s newest members – Dave Kerner and Mack Bernard – getting spots on the Criminal Justice Commission and the Homeless Advisory Board, respectively.

In addition to serving on the Criminal Justice Commission, Kerner, who succeeded the term-limited Shelley Vana as the District 3 commissioner, will serve on the Public Safety Coordinating Council and the Value Adjustment Board.

Bernard, who defeated Priscilla Taylor to win the District 7 seat, picks up a spot on the CareerSource Palm Beach County committee in addition to the Homeless Advisory Board seat.

Mack Bernard, middle,  greets guests at an election party at Revolutions at City Place Revolutions at City Place West Palm Beach Tuesday August 30, 2016. ( Meghan McCarthy / The Palm Beach Post )
Mack Bernard

The two new commissioners will serve as alternatives on the Metropolitan Planning Organization. Their five colleagues will serve as regular members of the MPO.

Dave Kerner

District 1’s commissioner, Hal Valeche, will serve on the Artificial Reef and Estuarine Committee. He will be an alternate on the BioScience Land Protection Advisory Board and will serve on the Loxahatchee River Management Coordinating Council, the Northlake Boulevard Task Force and the Pal Mal Water Control District.

District 2’s commissioner, Paulette Burdick, will serve on the Children’s Services Council and the Water Resources Task Force. Burdick has been chosen by her colleagues to serve as county mayor.

Steven Abrams, who represents District 4, will serve on the Kravis Center board, the Multi-Jurisdictional Issues Coordination Forum Executive Committee, the Palm Beach Broadband board, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority and the Value Adjustment Board, where he will be chairman.

District 5’s commissioner, Mary Lou Berger, will serve on the BioScience Land Protection Advisory Board, the Palm Beach County Cultural Council and the Water Resources Task Force.

In District 6, Melissa McKinlay will serve on the Business Development Executive Board and the County Coalition for Responsible Management of Lake ‘O.’

Valeche, Burdick and Kerner will serve as regular members of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, with Abrams, McKinlay and Bernard serving as alternates.

Commissioners declare which boards and committees they want to serve on, with the mayor making the final decision on assignments.

“I’m a firm believer in, where possible, having a commissioner serving on each of these committee during their term in office,” Burdick said.

The county mayor said she also was mindful of commissioner expertise and interest such as Abrams’ extensive knowledge of transportation issues.

Jury recesses in 2015 drug-buy slaying near Florida Atlantic University

Henry (PBSO photo)
Henry (PBSO photo)

A jury Thursday morning recessed for the week in the first-degree murder trial of Donovan Henry, the alleged mastermind behind a robbery last Dec. 29 near Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton that left 19-year-old FAU student Nicholas Acosta dead.


Boca Raton police say Henry went to the University Park apartments that night to buy marijuana from Acosta, a fellow student. Acosta’s girlfriend, Kayla Bartosiewicz, opened the door for Henry, whom she recognized from a party, she told police.

Once Henry was inside, the rest of the men came in wearing masks and hoodies. Rodrick Woods shot Acosta twice, took a bag of marijuana and the group left, police said.

Assistant State Attorney Brian Fernandes has argued that, while Henry did not pull the gun, he was the mastermind because he knew Acosta and wanted his stash of marijuana.

Defense Attorney Scott Skier argued the state presented no evidence to prove Henry planned the robbery. He said the testimony they were relying on against his client was that of Woods, a convicted murderer. Woods, identified as the gunman, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for testimony against the other men. Woods has said Henry asked him to help steal the marijuana from Acosta.

Event Sunday in Palm Beach Shores will honor murder victims

070115-ga-murder-3-5A local ceremony to mark the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims is set for 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Palm Beach Shores Community Center, 90 Edwards Lane in Palm Beach Shores.

Speakers will include relatives and friends of murder victims as well as Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Delray Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Goldman, Palm Beach Shores Mayor Myra Koutzen, and a detective from the violent crimes division of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

A PBSO helicopter will drop a wreath into the nearby Atlantic Ocean as a remembrance of murder victims.

The Palm Beach Victims’ Rights Coalition, which is hosting the event, encouraged victims’ survivors, or those who wish to support survivors, to attend.

Call 561-355-2418 or, on the day of the event, 561-309-8173.

Body cameras in the PBC budget?

Palm Beach County’s proposed $4.3 billion budget includes money for lots of things. But it doesn’t include a penny for law enforcement body cameras.

For Commissioner Shelley Vana, that’s a problem.

Vana agreed with a call made by fellow Commissioner Priscilla Taylor that body cameras should be purchased for use by Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies.

The cameras, supported by some concerned about law enforcement misconduct, were to be bought with money from an increase in the county’s sales tax. However, as the sales tax debate moved forward, the cameras were removed from the sales tax projects list.

During the first of two public hearings on the proposed 2017 county budget Tuesday night, Vana said she thinks money for the cameras ought to be included in the budget.

“I just think that, if we do a budget without body cameras, it sends a message we’re not serious,” Vana said.

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has said he’d have his deputies wear the body cameras – as long as he didn’t have to account for them in his budget.

Commissioners will hold a final public hearing on the proposed budget on September 19. It’s not clear if commissioners will decided to amend the budge to include the cameras, which, according to County Administrator Verdenia Baker, would cost an estimated $10 million.

Several commissioners have said that, while they are open to the idea of body cameras, they are concerned about ongoing costs associated with their use.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Commissioners ask county staff to look into sober homes

Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor has directed county staff members to conduct an overview of sober homes in the county, which have generated opposition from those who feel the private, unregulated facilities lead to increased violence and drug abuse in some communities.

“We as commissioners really need to know what’s going on,” Taylor said during a meeting Tuesday.

It is not clear what staff will review, and there is no timetable for the completion of that review.

Taylor’s colleagues were in general agreement with the notion of a review. Commissioner Shelley Vana added that she wants to know what can be done to make sure sober home operators who solicit for out-of-town clients provide those clients with a way to return to their communities if treatment is unsuccessful and ends early.

Palm Beach County Commissioner District 7, Priscilla A. Taylor in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 22, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Commissioner  Priscilla A. Taylor (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Body cameras for PBSO deputies could cost $10M

Body cameras for Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputies could cost as much as $10 million, County Administrator Verdenia Baker said.

County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, campaigning for re-election, has made a renewed call for body cameras.

Taylor said she’d like to see money from a proposed increase in the sales tax used to pay for the  body cameras. Her colleagues on the commission would have to agree to use sales tax money for body cameras.

An initial sales tax projects list included $27.4 million for in-car cameras, body cameras and radios. Baker said the plan was to purchase the equipment together to save money.

As the sales tax debate moved forward, however, money for body cameras was removed from the projects list. When the commission meets on Tuesday, Taylor plans to urge her colleagues to put funding for body cameras back on the sales tax projects list.