It was a crazy year, from hurricanes to Haynie’s mayoral blues. Here’s what we took away as the best, the issues that defined us and our insider picks for don’t-miss people and places.
By Marie Speed, John Thomason and a select committee of people who do, indeed, know it all
The children of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s movement aimed to enact “common-sense” gun laws and other measures after the Parkland shooting is catapulted onto the national stage, goes international, prompts a million-person march around the world and is still gaining steam.
HEROES OF THE YEAR
The first responders and employees of FPL, who got South Florida up and running in record time after Hurricane Irma.
POLITICIAN WITH A DEATH WISH FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TOURISM
Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran seeks to discredit the impact of the state’s premier tourism marketing arm, Visit Florida (and associated tourism agencies, like Discover the Palm Beaches) and slash its funding in response to Miami rapper Pitbull’s controversial $1 million contract with Visit Florida in 2015-16, amid criticism that the organization operated with a lack of transparency. Governor Rick Scott asked for a $100 million budget for Visit Florida, but Corcoran, Senate President Joe Negron and the governor ultimately agreed on a much-diminished $76 million budget. Postscript: Florida had the largest number of tourists yet last year.
EMERGING POLITICAL VOICE
The big faceless social-media chatter rising from platforms like Boca Watch, Old Boca, For Boca, Delray Raw and others is beginning to fuel public opinion—right or wrong.
ISSUES THAT DIVIDE US
Downtown development and the proposed Midtown development are the lightning rods for the burgeoning pro-development and anti-development factions in the city, reminiscent of the groups that once either supported or decried the proposed Mizner Park in the 1980s.
Rep. Bill Hager suggests that Florida’s capital be moved to a more central location in the state. The bill never sees the light of day, but good try, Bill. It is still easier to fly to L.A. than to Tallahassee.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Failed mayoral candidate and Boca Watch founder Al Zucaro has placed one—maybe two—surrogates on Boca’s city council; who’s next in the sights of Boca Watch? Is Zucaro going to make a run for it again?
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
More than two dozen charities that had booked events at Mar-a-Lago cancel their contracts under donor pressure after Donald Trump’s remarks appear to excuse white supremacists engaged in a violent Charlottesville, Virginia rally. The unprecedented social dustup resulted in emergency bookings at The Breakers and the Boca Resort, among others, and was the talk of the island for weeks.
City Councilman Robert Weinroth abandons his Boca mayoral aspirations and decides to challenge his former ally (and alleged friend) on the city council, Mayor Susan Haynie, for the District 4 seat (held by Steve Abrams, who is term-limited) on the Palm Beach County Commission this November. If that weren’t bad enough, Haynie gets arrested for perjury, among other charges, and drops out of the race. Weinroth is charging full-tilt ahead, and the Boca Watch crowd is popping Champagne. Stay tuned, As the World Turns in Boca politics.
See who else made the Best of Boca 2018 list:
Best of Boca: Food & Drink
Best of Boca: Retail & Business
Best of Boca: People & Lifestyle
Best of Boca: Issues & News
Best of Boca: Arts & Entertainment