Edited by Tara Monks The Pineapple Staff Writer Delray Beach is holding its Municipal and Special Elections Tuesday, March 12, 2013. On the ballot are three seats of the five-member City Commission, including the Mayor, as well as several proposed charter amendments and economic incentives. The Mayoral race involves two high-power individuals: current Mayor Tom Carney and former Chairman of the City’s Planning and Zoning Board Cary Glickstein. The two opponents sat down individually with The Delray Beach Pineapple’s Ryan Boylston to discuss topics pertinent to Delray Beach’s growth, success and safety. [half]
The Pineapple: Tell us a little about, in your vision, how Delray Beach has gotten to where it is today and where we currently stand. Carney: My family opened a bank in Delray Beach in 1985 called Carney Bank. I’ve actually had the opportunity to watch Delray Beach evolve into what it is today. Back in ’85, a lot of Atlantic Ave. was boarded up and didn’t look anywhere near what it looks like today. And there was, at that time, a real sense that something could be made of this place and you had some key people decide that they were going to create the First Vision. They created an environment where people really wanted to come and since then, we’ve had a series of Commissions and Commissioners who collectively started a glacier moving and kept it moving. And if you look around at the composition of our boards today, we have some extremely talented people who do very well in their own professions and give their time to serve the city. We are all rowing in the same direction, and I really think that’s what has made Delray different. The Pineapple: These groups and advisory boards are also a hot topic. Do you think there is redundancy and fragmentation among them? Carney: I think that there is overlap. We have the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative, the Downtown Development Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the city vying for the same thing. And you know, I think there’s a genuine desire for everyone to work together and not overlap, but there is some. But it always seems to end up with results that are positive. I think that we can prove efficiency sometimes. But generally speaking, do you really want to derail a committed person who’s trying to make your city better? That’s not a good thing to do. [When it comes to fragmentation], I happen to be in the camp that doesn’t think that Delray is broken. I think Delray has done remarkably well and I look at the success stories that we’re having every single year, and every single day. We have more people moving into Delray that are contributing. More businesses are starting to come. And these things happen because we’re doing something right. It’s not by coincidence that the Delray Beach bond rating went up last year. Do I think there’s not room for improvement? Of course there is. But overall, I think we’re doing well. We have so many more positives than negatives in this city. The Pineapple: Planning-wise, how important do you think the next five years are? Carney: Extremely important. First of all, I think that everyone is talking about growth management. It’s an obvious issue. We have seen some remarkable growth lately, most recently with the Atlantic Plaza project, which I do not support. I think that density is a real issue. And even though I voted against [the project], I was happy to get included in the conditions. Because I was able to get a number of conditions that would largely benefit the Marina Historic District; three or four conditions added which would mitigate the impact of that project on them. If I had to focus on one issue, my concern is that I think we need a pause, generally, that relates to building in-town residences. One of the things I’ve recently called for is a re-review of the Downtown Delray Beach Master Plan. I would like to see some absorption first of some of the units that are going to be planned. I’m all for development and I think we have some good projects that are on the books and in the works now and my preference would be to pause and absorb before we continue. I’m not saying stop, just pause. The Pineapple: Speak about attracting current businesses and startups to the downtown area, as well as the congress corridor. Carney: First of all, when it comes to the downtown area, our CRA does some great work. They have some wonderful incentives. And together, with a lot of other people in the city, they have built a really great downtown. But we do need to focus on developing business outside of downtown, particularly around the Congress Corridor. On March 12, [you will see on the] ballot that I proposed to amend our Charter to give the city some of the same tools the CRA has to offer certain tax incentives for jobs. I’ve initiated this Charter change. Please support this measure on the ballot because it will give our city the tools it needs to attract some of these small- to medium-sized businesses with good jobs. [The incentive] is also going to be available for those who want to create manufacturing jobs. I would love to see the development of some small-scale manufacturing in this city. We have everything conducive to this kind of job creation. This initiative that I developed is going to be a good first step in trying to attract new business to Delray. The Pineapple: One industry that seems to be doing fine is substance abuse rehabilitation. Can you talk about that and how it affects the future of Delray Beach? Carney: It’s not nice to be known as the rehab capital of Florida. Toward the end of 2011, I initiated the development of the ordinances that would address the number of turnovers in these transient houses. We worked really hard on this ordinance. Our idea was that we knew it was going to be challenged, and that we did not want anything to be discriminatory. We adopted a really non-discriminatory ordinance that would apply to everyone, and unfortunately the Karen Foundation sued us. We knew it would get challenged and that it would go all the way to the Supreme Court. Cary Glickstein was quoted as calling the Karen Foundation the cancer in our neighborhood. And the court found that even though the ordinance was non-discriminatory, it was adopted with discriminatory intents. So we settled. For the last 3 1⁄2 months or so, we have been working on a statute to deal with sober houses that we are going to introduce in Tallahassee. Sober houses operating in Delray Beach will have to be licensed. And if licensed, there will be a spacing requirement. What this will do is ensure that if someone is seeking treatment, they’ll go to a place where they can actually get treatment. We want to ensure that businesses operating in the city do the service they’re purporting to render. The Pineapple: There’s also a perception that our education offerings are not very good. Can you speak to that? Carney: It’s not the role of City Government to be involved in the school system. The School Board has its own budget and it would be inaccurate to say the city has done nothing toward helping schools here because, they have. This city took great efforts in getting Spady Elementary completely redone. The city took a very active role. As well as the relocation of Atlantic High School and getting it rebuilt. The city has worked to try to improve education in the city. Can the city do more? There are certain things to explore. The city needs to help develop some after-school type programs where certain facilities can be used, and create some volunteer corners. But we need to be very careful about using city resources for school board expenses. Taxpayers are already paying for both services, and I do not believe taxpayers should pay for the same thing twice. Should we be aggressive in lobbying for the schools? Yes. This is something that I am absolutely committed to. We do need to pay attention to whether there are opportunities to do things, but not necessarily cross over to the school board’s side and do their job. The Pineapple: Recently there has been an increase, or at least a perceived increase, in crime in Delray Beach. Can you speak toward that? Carney: I met with the Chief of Police two weeks ago. We talked about visibility. There’s a perception out there that we’re unsafe and once a city gets the perception of being unsafe, regardless of its truth, the period for you to fall is so fast you never have time to recover. So it’s very important to me that the perception [of lack of safety] gains no traction at all. Which is why I sat down with the Chief of Police to increase visibility. But this is just the first step in the process. We do need citizen engagement. Citizens are the first line of defense. We need to ensure that people who come into Delray feel safe. Because we are safe. We are diligent. The Clean and Safe program, funded by the CRA has done a great job with the merchants. It’s a constant work in progress to ensure that you’re safe, and to give the perception of safety. I’m happy to have gotten the endorsement from the police that this is something I’ve been committed to and is something I’ll continue to be committed to. The Pineapple: Delray Beach is really known as an event town. Many businesses and residents believe that we may be oversaturated with events and festivals, road closures and so forth. Your thoughts? Carney: I think we close roads far too easily here. The classic events for the city, the cornerstone events like The Delray Affair, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Christmas Parade and certain others, are really signature events that nobody’s talking about touching. But we are having more privately initiated events that end up with street closures, which some of our merchants are finding very disruptive. We need balance. I am in favor of a complete review of the street closures. When your local residents and businesses become unsupportive of events that are shutting down your streets, it’s time to address the issue. The Pineapple: Ten years down the road, how will people look at Delray Beach nationally? What theme will come to mind? Carney: There’s something for everybody. We’ve got an opportunity to be a sports, beach and arts destination. We have some of the best restaurants. This is a place where you can get a full experience, so to speak. It’s a friendly, walkable city. It’s got tremendous potential. We were named most fun small town in America. We are a fun town. But we are serious as well. This city does a lot of work. If you look around, a lot of stuff gets done here. I want us to always be the place where you can raise a family. In our continuing to be successful, we’ve created a circle of events and activities which are giving us a unique setting. [/half]
The Pineapple: Tell us a little about, in your vision, how Delray Beach has gotten to where it is today and where we currently stand. Glickstein: [Twenty years ago], it was this period where anything was possible. And it’s not like we had this period of success and then we were trying to figure out how to manage that. Everyone knew that we had really unique assets here, but it was going off the edge because of apathy and acrimony on the City Commission. We face the same problem now in our town, because we’ve got these small groups, separated by geography or personal alliances, and those spheres are not interacting. And as a result, there is as much of a disconnect now as there was back then. The Pineapple: These groups and advisory boards are also a hot topic. Do you think there is redundancy and fragmentation among them? Glickstein: The fragmentation to me is a different issue than the redundancy. I’m not so sure we have a duplication or redundancy issue with these advisory boards. I think our model is consistent with cities of this size. And I think they serve an important function. It gets people volunteering for public service. And they, in turn, get other people involved. It’s good stuff. I think we’ve had a few commissions lately where we’ve been tone deaf to those advisory boards and that’s not healthy. It pushes people away from wanting to serve on those boards. You also have these new ethics laws, which impact people on these advisory committees. So you have two different things that are kind of pushing people away from those advisory boards. I do think I would like to see the city commission pay attention to what’s coming out of those advisory boards. It makes people want to stay involved in those boards. We’ve lost that reference point of the common goal: to move things forward. It’s like an organization without real strong leadership. And without strong leadership, you develop these competing groups. This fragmentation is a problem. And even though I’ve been very involved in this town for years, I never really understood how bad it was until I got into this election. It’s been an eye opener for me. We’ve lost our way. We need to think: What’s for the common good of the town rather than how does this serve a particular person specifically? The Pineapple: Planning-wise, how important do you think the next five years are? Glickstein: I think we are at an inflection point, meaning that if we don’t chart a direction right now for what we want and what we don’t want, we’ll lose control of this downtown. Part of the problem has been there is this misperception both at City Hall and with our citizenry that if Atlantic Ave. is busy, everything is fine. And first of all, that perception is just flawed. Secondly, it misses the bigger point that even if it were true; that’s such a tenuous hold on success. Food, beverage and festival – if that is your defining characteristic, then you need to rethink and re-innovate what’s important. And the reason I say that is because I think that’s a façade. If you’ve built your definition of success based on the health of an entertainment district and its really not that healthy, that’s really not a long-sighted view. Then you weigh in the development part. The sun, the beaches and the Ave. bring opportunists who want to exploit those assets. And you know, those people in general don’t have a long-term perspective of this town. And what makes this town unique is the pedestrian perspective: the small town feel with enough of a cosmopolitan vibe to make it interesting. Atlantic Plaza is one of those kind of bellwether events. If [development] continues in its current format, it’s going to be very hard to stop similar projects on the Ave. And you’re going to change the Avenue forever. And if that’s what people want, then that’s what they want. The Pineapple: Speak about attracting current businesses and startups to the downtown area, as well as the Congress Corridor. Glickstein: Our downtown area goes after a younger, entrepreneurial business crowd, which is looking for creative class space. Not the, “I wanna’ lease 20,000 square-feet of office space.” For that kind of user, we have the Congress Corridor. [With the Congress Corridor], you’re not in our downtown. You’re close enough to downtown if you want to come downtown and we certainly have a lot more options for building out that office space in the Congress Corridor. We’ve got the mass transportation hubs and the I-95 interchange. It just makes sense that if we are going to talk about Class A and larger office spaces, to push that farther west to the Congress Corridor on the Office Depot side rather than trying to make our downtown something that it’s not. The Pineapple: One industry that seems to be doing fine is substance abuse rehabilitation. Can you talk about that and how it affects the future of Delray Beach? Glickstein: Transient housing right now is tied to somewhere between 50 to 60% of non-violent crime in Delray Beach. The reason for that is we have people falling out of treatment, getting kicked out of their housing, they have no money, no place to go and they’re suffering from an addiction. So they are either the victims of crime because of that or they are the perpetrators, and so it’s the perfect storm, which is why we’ve seen such a huge increase in non-violent crime. On the other hand, we’ve got laws that protect people that are in treatment. And we have to figure out a way to coexist. And I think we are going to see additional regulation, just because it is not just a Delray issue, but because it has become a statewide issue. We have great code enforcement in this town. We have a great Police Department. They both really understand those nuances and are doing as good a job as possible to do two things: to bring the good operators into the dialogue about a solution and move the bad operators out of this town. The problem isn’t going away tomorrow. It’s going to be with us for a long time. So, we need to mature as a community and figure out a way to regulate and craft solutions so that we can find a different place for the problem operators. The Pineapple: There’s also a perception that our education offerings are not very good. Can you speak to that? Glickstein: It’s not a perception. It’s a fact. There is a dramatic disparity between the programs offered in Boca Raton public schools versus Delray Beach public schools. The reason for that is leadership. We have not had an advocate from our town to the school board in years. The mayor of Boca Raton, as a former educator, was a former member off the school board. She understands that when you’re dealing with an agency of limited dollars; if you’re not up there advocating for your town and your schools, then those dollars are going to go elsewhere. But as a parent with public school-aged children, I can tell you that it’s not perception. It’s a fact that our public schools are nowhere near the level of Boca Raton’s public schools in terms of the programs that we offer. The Pineapple: Recently there has been an increase, or at least a perceived increase, in crime in Delray Beach. Can you speak toward that? Glickstein: We’ve lost 20 sworn officers over the last three years. That’s a function of dollars. It’s a function of police going elsewhere. If you look back to the late 80s, crime was so bad in our town that you didn’t have a red light from I-95 to A1A at night. They were all blinking yellow lights for fear of stopping and being mugged. It was that bad. But we had a Police Chief [who] really understood that if you don’t have a safe town, then nothing else matters. And what he was very big on, and he was the master at it, was community policing. We need to get back to that. The other thing is, we have had a huge amount of experience and knowledge walk out the door with police retiring. And there has been a lot of negative press about police pensions and we’ve got the legacy costs and the cost of our police department. But we have at our disposal a huge amount of resources by bringing in those policemen who know our town better than anybody on a part-time basis to work in code enforcement get and back to that community policing. Mentoring kids, we’ve gotten away from that. Let’s build those mentoring programs back up again. We have become just like General Motors or any other successful organization, in that we’re a team that has enjoyed a period of success. You fall into this complacency trap where you think that it’s good today, and it’s going to be good tomorrow. And you don’t stop to rethink, re- innovate and set yourself up for the next set of challenges. That complacency has been the fall of the town for a number of years. We know what to do. We just need to get back to the core. The Pineapple: Delray Beach is really known as an event town. Many businesses and residents believe that we may be oversaturated with events and festivals, road closures and so forth. Your thoughts? Glickstein: I think it’s a question of balance. To me, it’s almost akin to development in our town in that when you’re a young town you want anything that comes in the door. You’re happy to have it. But over time, especially for a town as unique as Delray, you really can be far more selective about what it is that is happening in your town. You don’t have to accept everything that comes in the door. It’s a function of balance and the understanding that we don’t have to accept everything that wants to be here. The Pineapple: Ten years down the road, how will people look at Delray Beach nationally? What theme will come to mind? Glickstein: I come back to what pulled us out from the press back in the 80s and that was community engagement. I think that when people think about Delray, they think a lot about [community engagement] now. Yeah, we’ve got the peripheral stuff, but it used to be a joke that when you were bored you could go to Delray on a Saturday and there’s a charette going on about something. That was a cool thing. But I think that community engagement is so meaningful because it gives people ownership in the town, rather than just a property. And I think that with community engagement, you get the benefit of years of perspective [combined] with young people with new ideas – that’s really the way to do it.