Palm Beach County Mayor Berger: ‘State of County’ is ‘thriving”

Palm Beach County is on the move, attracting new business, and ready to get around to some much-needed handyman


projects, County Mayor Mary Lou Berger said Wednesday at the annual “State of the County” breakfast of the Chamber of the Commerce of the Palm Beaches.

“This truly is, together as a community, a perfect place,” Berger told the gathering at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

In the last year, the county has experienced “record tourism and a robust real estate market,” Berger said.

And, herself hours removed from being reelected Tuesday as District 5 county commissioner, she cheered the passage of the 1-cent county sales tax surcharge for schools, roads and parks.

“We’re going to get that stuff done,” Berger said.

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Many new faces when Palm Beach County commissioners, legislators next meet

palm-beach-county-logoNew faces will abound when the Palm Beach County Commission and the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation hold their annual joint meeting early next year.

County Commissioners and Palm Beach County’s state senators and state representatives will meet from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 4 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

At least two, and as many as four, of the seven county commissioners could be different. District 7 commissioner Priscilla Taylor was ousted by Mack Bernard in August. District 3 Commissioner Shelley Vana stepped down because of term limits. And commissioners Hal Valeche (District 1) and Mayor Mary Lou Berger (District 4) face challengers Nov. 8. Commissioners Melissa McKinlay, Steven Abrams, and Paulette Burdick are in through 2018.

Of the 13 state legislators in the Palm Beach County delegation, only one definitely will return to his post: Rep. Bill Hager, who was reelected without opposition.

Rep. Kevin Rader has been elected to the State Senate. Sen. Joseph Abruzzo moved to the House side and was elected without opposition.  Rep. Dave Kerner left to run for Vana’s county commission seat and Rep. Bobby Powell Jr. stepped down to run for State Senate. Irv Slosberg left the House for a failed State Senate run.

Out by term limits: Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs and Rep. Mark Pafford. Sen. Pat Rooney opted not to seek reelection.

Sen. Joe Negron, scheduled to be the incoming State Senate president, faces a challenger Nov. 8, as does Sen. Jeff Clemens and Reps. Lori Berman and MaryLynn Magar. 




More than 1,000 pets available Sept. 10 for you to take home

031416 Pet Parade Portraits 16Imagine 2,000 eyes giving you that look only a shelter pet can.

As many as 1,000 dogs and cats will be on hand for what organizers say is the county’s biggest adoption event of the year, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center at 650 Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach.

The third annual Countdown 2 Zero adoption event is presented by The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and organized by the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, and more than two dozen local animal rescue organizations. The first two events found homes for nearly 600 animals.

Organizers said they also want to spread the word about having pets spayed or neutered, as part of the campaign to end the euthanizing of shelter animals.

Admission and parking are free and many of the groups will offer discounts and incentives. All adopters will receive gifts as well as free rabies tags.

Call 561-472-8845 or email

Art Miami, squeezed out of Palm Beach County Convention Center, to use “tent site”

043013-uptown-art-4tentsiteArt Miami is coming to town. But not to the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Instead, the giant show, squeezed out of the convention facility, will operate Jan. 12-15, 2017, at the downtown West Palm Beach “tent site,” the outfit said Wednesday morning in a press release. It said the show has a 3-year contract.

Art Miami had wanted to come to the convention center in February 2016. The convention center had seemed open to that after reporting logistical problems Art Palm Beach had with its 2013 and 2014 winter shows. Then the convention center decided to stick with Art Palm Beach and said it didn’t want back-to-back art shows. It instead offered Art Miami spots between April and September 2016, outside high season.

Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker later met with representatives of the convention center and Art Miami to try to get the Miami group in for January or February 2017. But an attorney for Art Miami told The Palm Beach Post in May that he’d been told existing commitments to Art Palm Beach and the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art and Antique Show made it impossible for the county to give Art Miami dates before March 1.

The “tent site,” near Okeechobee Boulevard and Dixie Highway, has been the subject of numerous attempts at development. In March, the city voted to again put it on the market.

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Group to rally Monday night in West Palm Beach

As many as 3,000 members of a group titled People Engaged in Active Community Efforts are set to gather from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Palm Beach County Convention Center to call for criminal justice and immigration reform.

The group will call on county commissioners and the State Attorney to identify a non-profit group and give it money to administer a “Community ID Program” that will give undocumented immigrants the opportunity to secure an identification card.

PEACE also will ask the state attorney to reduce penalties for driving without a license for those unable to obtain one because of their legal status.

The group said it’s found “severe funding gaps” between what the county provides for the homeless and what’s needed.

And PEACE will describe how it and eight sister organizations statewide are pushing for state legislation in which juvenile offenders subject to a first-time misdemeanor arrest to instead receive a civil citation.

Justice scholar: police review boards can work


Independent community review boards for police can be useful, a criminal justice scholar said Monday at the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission’s annual goal-setting retreat.

“It’s not an easy thing,” Thomas Blomberg, dean of Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Justice, told the justice panel’s half-day gathering at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

But, he said, “It can work. And it has worked in a number of jurisdictions.”

Blomberg, the planning meeting’s keynote speaker, was responding to a question by justice commission member, and defense attorney, Nellie King, who said the justice commission has not really weighed in on the cjclogo150issue.

County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, who’s on the justice panel’s executive committee but did not attend Monday’s retreat, has been a vocal proponent of a police review board, especially following an April series by The Palm Beach Post and WPTV NewsChannel 5 that found people shot by deputies have disproportionately been black. The county commission shelved the idea in September, saying such a board would have no authority over the Sheriff’s Office.

Blomberg said Monday that “evidence is mixed” on the effectiveness of such panels, depending on where they operate. But he said they work only when police and the people they serve work together rather than against each other.

“This is a good way to begin discourse, and it’s useful not just for community members themselves but officers as well,” Blomberg said. “The police officers and community, they’re part of a whole. It’s not either-or.”