County Commissioners Meeting- January

PALM BEACH COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MEETING

January 23, 2018

by Andrea Weiss

The meeting was long and at times contentious, but on January 23, the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners took critical steps toward reinstating an MWBE (Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises program) to address long-standing discriminatory practices in awarding county contracts for service — primarily professional services and construction — that have blocked MWBEs from receiving contract awards in statistically significant numbers.

Study on Discriminatory Procurement Practices

A disparity study recently completed for the County by Mason Tillman Associates, Ltd. concludes that discriminatory procurement practices documented more than 20 years ago continue to this day, advises the County of its obligation to ensure that tax dollars do not support discrimination, and recommends that appropriate remedies be implemented to eliminate the disparate impact affecting minority and women-owned businesses.

Third Party Review

Commissioners had hired Franklin Lee, Esq., of Tydings & Rosenberg LLP, to undertake a third-party review of Tillman Associates’ study. Mr. Lee presented his comments, supporting the report and its recommendations for remediation. Commissioners had many questions and lengthy discussion followed. While they all voiced support for reestablishing the MWBE program, there was no consensus about how to proceed. There was greater unanimity among public commenters; all but two speakers urged the Commission to accept the report and move swiftly to correct discriminatory contracting practices.

Commission Movement

Multiple motions and substitute motions fed frustrations and the fears of some Commissioners about the validity of report data, potential legal challenges, and the need for delay, resulting in several tense exchanges. Commissioner Berger broke the logjam with a series of successful

motions.

  • By 7-0, Commissioners accepted Mr. Lee’s independent review of the disparity study.
  • Commissioners accepted the disparity study completed by Mason Tillman Associates for purposes of future policy deliberation 4-3, with Commissioners Abrams, Kerner, and Valeche opposing the motion.
  • A 5-2 vote directed County staff to develop an MWBE program following a 30-day public comment period on the study. The program will be subject to review and approval by the BCC. Commissioners Abrams and Valeche opposed the motion.
  • Commissioners voted 7-0 to extend for 90 days the consulting contract with Mr. Franklin Lee.

Staff will report on the public comments at the Board’s March 13th meeting.

Other Business

In other business, Commissioners designated January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Mayor McKinlay recognized a Lake Worth Park Vista High School student for her work to raise awareness of the dangers of human trafficking among her peers.

Lastly, meeting attendees were elated to see Baseball’s World Series Trophy, won last fall by the Houston Astros. The trophy accompanied team representatives who expressed enthusiasm for their new Spring Training home at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The next PBC BCC Meeting will be held on February 6.

 

Delray Beach Commission

 

The Delray Beach Commission focused upon two compelling presentations during their January 23rd meeting.  The first was to honor Jackson Destine, Jr., an Atlantic High School senior who was selected as the 2017 national winner of the High School Heisman® Scholarship, established by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas in 1994.  The award celebrates youth achievement in giving back to the community, continuing education, and excelling on the athletic field. With great pride and affection, the Commissioners honored Jackson for his remarkable accomplishments and commitment to lifting others.   

Plan for Neighborhood Improvement

The meeting’s “main event” was the presentation of a detailed plan for growth, restoration, preservation, and development in The Set – Delray’s historically black community, which extends north and south of West Atlantic Avenue, and east and west from I-95 to Swinton Avenue.  This diverse and vibrant area has struggled to improve and build its infrastructure, housing, businesses, and jobs for many years, while community redevelopment resources have been focused upon enhancing the beauty, livability, cultural and leisure activities, and visitor-friendly amenities for Delray’s downtown and beach areas.  This focus left few resources for The Set.  

Through a collaboration among the City, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), the West Atlantic Redevelopment Coalition (WARC) and residents, facilitated by a private planning firm, a comprehensive plan for transformation that includes all elements essential to a healthy community has been developed and was presented to the City Commissioners.  For several years the CRA has led efforts to develop several parcels of land along West Atlantic Avenue, with the intent of including a much-needed supermarket. Progress has been slow and great frustration was expressed at the meeting, with hopes expressed that projects will move forward soon.  The Commission will continue to monitor progress and work with the CRA and other partners to realize The Set’s aspirations.  Mayor Glickstein commented, “There’s enough inertia behind it that we’re well on our way.”  

Commissioners Comments

In the segment of the meeting devoted to Commissioners’ comments,  Deputy Vice-Mayor Shirley Ervin Johnson urged the City Manager to look into the condition of sidewalks for children walking to and from school along SW 4th Street south of Atlantic Avenue and pursue the restoration of contiguous sidewalks.  Vice Mayor Jim Chard suggested the use of design competition as one approach to implementing The Set Transformation Plan.  

 

The Commissioners next Regular Commission Meeting will be held on February 6.