Get the news that is important to you in This Week in Palm Beach. October 28, 2016 edition.
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In a whirlwind of activity today in the Civic Association Community Conference Room by a team of the Zika Task Force and volunteers from the Fire Department, residents, and Civic Association directors and members; a thousand Zika Kits were packaged and ready to distribute next week.
Zika Kits will be available to Town of Palm Beach residents at the Fire Departments on Thursday, November 3, 2016. They include:
The Zika Kits are one component of the integrated plan to try and prevent the Zika Virus in the Town of Palm Beach. Stay tuned for more news from the Civic Association.
The End Results Ready to Go
Maggie Zeidman, Town Councilwoman and Chair of the Zika Taskforce
By Michele Dargan, Special to the Civic Association. At Monday’s Meet Your Candidates forum, Todd Bonlarron, an assistant county administrator, deciphered the confusing language contained in the five questions on the November 8 ballot.
In addition to Mr. Bonlarron, Joseph Rooney, acting president and CEO of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, and Fred Scheibl, of the Palm Beach County Taxpayer Action Board, gave their differing perspectives on the countywide proposal to increase the sales tax by one percent. Rooney is for the tax and Scheibl is against it.
Todd Bonlarron, Assistant Palm Beach County Administrator
Sponsored by the Palm Beach Civic Association and the Citizen’s Association of Palm Beach, the event drew more than 150 people to Nick and Johnnie’s restaurant to hear from some of the candidates and get information on the ballot questions.
Civic Association President Ned Barnes introduced Mr. Bonlarron as “the person who knows more about these ballot questions than anyone I’ve ever met.”
In just under 10 minutes, Mr. Bonlarron gave an overview of the one countywide and four statewide ballot questions, saying it usually takes him an hour to explain them. The statewide questions are numbered one, two, three and five, because number four was voted on and passed during the primary election.
Question one – Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice.
Consumers already have a right to own or lease solar utilities for their properties, Mr. Bonlarron said.
The proponents are primarily utility companies throughout Florida, which spent $20 to 25 million to get this initiative passed, he said.
The utilities companies are concerned that in the future there might be opportunities for unregulated, small solar companies to expand and provide solar utilities for smaller developments outside of the grid as well as outside of the regulated industry, Mr. Bonlarron said.
Floridians for Solar Choice oppose the amendment. They believe the ambiguity of the language would make it more expensive and create more barriers for people who want to put solar into their commercial and residential properties, he said.
Question 2 – Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions
A similar initiative received 57 percent of the vote in the 2014 election, failing to receive the 60 percent needed to pass.
Proponents retooled the issue and narrowed the scope to 10 diseases that would qualify for medical marijuana. They also narrowed the scope of how caregivers can provide the medical marijuana to patients. A third stipulation is that the department of health will maintain the authority to govern the distribution of medical marijuana, Mr. Bonlarron said.
There currently is medical marijuana distributed in Florida in “a very limited capacity,” Mr. Bonlarron said. This amendment would allow for a broader use of medical marijuana for more debilitating diseases, he said.
Proponents: AFL-CIO, the NAACP and Florida Democratic Party.
Opponents: The Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Medical Association.
Opponents don’t believe some of the issues that are out there justify broadening the medical marijuana program, Mr. Bonlarron said.
Question 3 – Tax Exemption for Totally and Permanently Disabled First Responders
A “yes” vote on this amendment would give first responders the ability to get additional tax exemptions on their property if they are permanently disabled in the line of duty.
A “no” vote would not give the additional tax exemptions to first responders who were permanently disabled in the line of duty.
Question 5 – Homestead Tax Exemption for Certain Senior, Low-Income, Long-Term Residents; Determination of Just Value.
The state constitution already provides tax exemptions for homes valued at less than $250,000 owned by low-income individuals over the age of 65 who have lived in the home for at least 25 years.
A “yes” vote on this amendment means that seniors, who are approved for the tax break, would be able to keep this exemption even if their home’s value rose above $250,000 in future years.
A “no” vote means that the approved seniors would not keep the exemption if their home’s value rose above $250,000 in the future.
Countywide Question – Palm Beach County District Schools, Cities and County Government Infrastructure One-Cent Sales Surtax
If approved, this would raise the county’s sales tax from 6 to 7 percent for up to 10 years. The increased revenue would be split among the school district, the county and the municipalities to replace and repair equipment, supplies, and decaying infrastructure.
Fifty percent will go to the school district of Palm Beach County and the rest to municipalities and county government.
Joseph Rooney, of The Economic Council of Palm Beach County, spoke in favor of the tax.
“The economic council’s mission is to create an environment for businesses to prosper,” he said. “That’s what the sales tax will do.”
Mr. Rooney said that other county business organizations also are supporting the issue.
“With poor infrastructure, poor schools and roads, it’s very difficult to attract businesses to Palm Beach County,” he said. “It’s critical for us to have solid infrastructure and good schools to create a good business environment.”
All the money raised from this tax stays in Palm Beach County, Mr. Rooney said. He also said that an independent citizen review is a component to this tax and will ensure that it will be administered properly.
A significant part of this tax – about 30 percent - will be paid from out-of-town tourists, Mr. Rooney said. The money raised can only be used to improve schools and roads in the county, because the language is specific on how it must be allocated, he said. “We’re looking for reduced traffic, better roads, better schools that are fully functioning, better technology in those schools, safer school buses, improved parks, roads that don’t flood every time it rains and wastewater improvements.”
Fred Scheibl, of the Palm Beach County Taxpayer Action Board, spoke against the tax.
If the voters reject this, the school district and the county can get the money they need through a bond, Mr. Scheibl said. “We have a Triple-A bond rating and, therefore, the interest rates will be cheap,” he said.
Mr. Scheibl said the county has been trying to get this on the ballot since 2010, but it was just a “grab bag” of projects.
“There was road striping, bridge fixing and a couple of buildings that were in need of maintenance,” he said. “This time, by partnering with the school district, they can say it’s about the children, not about the road striping, and that’s helpful.”
A one percent sales tax increase – with 30 percent going to the county and 20 percent to the municipalities - will raise much more money than is actually needed for critical infrastructure projects and the additional monies will be spent on non-essential projects, he said.
“If you look at the 20-page list that the county put out on what they want to fix, how many of those existed a year ago and how many were put on that list just to make sure it equaled the amount of money they were going to take in?” he said.
“Whatever infrastructure shortfall exists, it was by a conscious choice,” Mr. Scheibl said. “During the last five years, the county budget (not including the school district) went up 33 percent. During that time, 28 percent went up in the sheriff’s budget. County employees got a 12 ½ percent cost of living raise; while the Public Works (department) budget went up only 3 percent.”
By Michele Dargan, Special to the Civic Association. More than 150 people packed into Nick and Johnnie’s restaurant Monday to hear many of the candidates on the November 8 Palm Beach ballot make their case to voters.
The “Meet Your Candidates” forum was sponsored by the Palm Beach Civic Association and the Citizens’ Association of Palm Beach.
The event was sold out and waitlisted for days. The two organizations held a similar program prior to the August primary election.
Civic Association President Ned Barnes welcomed the overflow crowd and reminded them that it wasn’t a debate. Each candidate was allowed up to three minutes to speak and there would be no rebuttals and no questions. Mr. Barnes and Don Singer, first vice chairman of the Citizen’s Association, moderated the event.
“We’re glad so many Palm Beachers showed up for our candidates’ Meet and Greet,” Mr. Barnes said. “Town residents take their voting responsibilities very seriously and the Civic Association is committed to helping them make informed decisions at the polls on election day.”
Fifteen candidates spoke about their qualifications and what they would do if elected.
Keith Beaty, a Civic Association director, described the program as “very valuable” in making an informed voting decision. “It’s a chance to meet and see the candidates in person,” Mr. Beaty said. “They don’t have a lot of time, so you don’t get a lot of in-depth knowledge of them, but it forces them to hit their high points, which is good. It’s an efficient way to see how they speak, learn a little bit more about their platform and, also, see how well they do in the presentation format. I think the Civic Association and the Citizens’ Association do a great service to the community by having these.”
In addition to the candidates, Todd Bonlarron, an assistant county administrator, gave an overview of the five ballot questions. Joseph Rooney, acting president and CEO of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, and Fred Scheibl, of the Palm Beach County Taxpayer Action Board, gave their differing perspectives on the countywide proposal to increase the sales tax by one percent. Rooney is for the tax and Scheibl is against it.
U.S. House of Representatives, District 21
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D) is a former West Palm Beach mayor and a familiar face to Palm Beach voters. She currently represents District 22, but is running for the newly redrawn, all-Palm Beach County, District 21 seat.
Rep. Frankel, who described herself as half-Brooklyn, half-Bronx, reminded attendees that she has helped Palm Beach with important issues, particularly the proposed dredging of the Port of Palm Beach.
“I put the finger in the dike for the last four years,” she said. “I said to them, ‘the community is not for this and we cannot go forward until we get some consensus.’"
“I don’t care whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, we all have to work together,” she said. “I’ll help you with the port. I’ll help you with the beach. I’m going to be on your side.”
Her Republican opponent, businessman and political newcomer Paul Spain, said he is in the campaign to “make sure we abide by the rule of law, have economic growth, create jobs, protect the environment and work with other countries to make sure this world is a better place for our children and grandchildren to live … I will bring jobs to this county, not refugees to Palm Beach County.”
Mr. Spain said he would work to reduce “bloated budgets” on the federal and local levels. He advocates holding governments accountable by having them justify programs that they already have before allotting them more money to spend on new programs.
State Senate, District 30
Republican Ron Berman, a businessman and an attorney, said his goal is to make the community a better place for the next generations. He described himself as a problem solver.
His two goals: bring vocational training back into high schools and get better mental healthcare treatment for those who need it.
“We have common problems, forget politics,” he said. “We all want more kids graduating high school. We want less unemployment, less people on government assistance, less crime, less drugs, less people incarcerated and healthier citizens physically and mentally.”
Democrat Bobby Powell has served in the Florida House of Representatives, District 88 for the past four years. Mr. Powell said he has experience in the legislature in bringing people together.
Mr. Powell said he has experience with budget issues and making sure money is allocated for infrastructure improvements to Palm Beach and Palm Beach County.
“I promise you will have someone who is a voice for your community,” he said. “A life of service is a life that counts … Serving starts when you see people in need and you decide to put yourself behind and put other people ahead.”
Among other candidates who spoke were: Luis “Lou” Delgado and Gregory Tendrich, both running for Circuit Court Judge, Group 4; Gregg Lerman and Dana Marie Santino, both vying for County Court Judge, Group 11; Tony Bennett (D), who is running for County Commissioner District 1 against incumbent Hal Valeche (Mr. Valeche did not attend); Sonny Maken, who is challenging incumbent Jean L. Enright for Port of Palm Beach, Group 3 (Ms. Enright did not attend); Daniel Sohn, who is running for Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation, Group 2 and Patricia “Pat” Edmonson, who is running for Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation, Group 3.
“I think they all presented their issues very fairly and did so without attacking the other candidate,” said Robert Domm, a longtime Civic Association member. “It’s the issues that are important, not the personality of the other candidate.”
Press About the Event
Frankel, Spain Among Candidates Headlining Civic Association & Citizens' Palm Beach Forum
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel and Paul Spain, her opponent in the Nov. 8 election, spoke to more than 150 people Monday at a Civic Association's and Citizens' Association candidates forum in Palm Beach.
Press Invited! This event is waitlisted because of the overwhelming RSVP list. Press Invited!
Lois Frankel vs. Paul Spain plus County Commission candidates Hal Valeche vs. Tony Bennett and 12 other candidates including judges, speaking at the Civic Association Candidates Meet and Greet Tonight!
Sales Tax Debate!
Understand the Ballot Questions with Todd Bonlarron
Monday, October 24, 2016
5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Nick & Johnnie's Restaurant
207 Royal Poinciana Way
Palm Beach, FL 33480
Press Contact: Mike Brown 561-655-0820
Co-Sponsored by the Citizens' Association
Get the news that is important to you in This Week in Palm Beach. October 21, 2016 edition.
To subscribe to This Week in Palm Beach and receive it in your inbox, CLICK HERE
The Town of Palm Beach will begin distributing Zika Prevention Kits late next week as part of their comprehensive plan to prevent a Zika outbreak in Palm Beach.
Prevention Kits will be put together on Thursday, October 27 at the Civic Association Community Room. Volunteers are being coordinated by Allison Wren, chairperson of the Zika Prevention Kit program. The Civic Association, Citizens' Association, and Town are paying the cost of the kits.
The Honorable Maggie Zeidman
The Zika Task Force Chairwoman and Town Council member Maggie Zeidman got the Zika Prevention Kit suggestion from former Town Council member Bob Wildrick.
The Civic Association supports the Town’s integrated program and this first spraying which is a proactive way to reduce the threat of mosquito breeding and biting. We understand the concerns of some residents but think the program the Town and Task Force has developed are prudent first steps in the protection of residents and visitors.
The Town released this announcement and Q&A late yesterday about the spraying that the Town Council approved:
Important Information Regarding Mosquito Spraying Scheduled for Sunday Night
[Town of Palm Beach News Release] To reduce the population of Zika carrying mosquitoes the Town of Palm Beach will be dispensing Duet, an EPA approved aerosol mist, between the hours of midnight and 5:00am on October 24 (Sunday night to Monday morning).
The Town has received a number of questions and concerns in recent days regarding the safety of the insecticide that will be used to reduce the adult mosquito population. Please rest assured that the product is safe and approved for use by the EPA and recommended by the CDC as an effective means for dealing with the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.
Click on the link below to download a full copy of the Town's news release and answers to the questions that have been posed.
In a meeting between Scripps Research Institute Florida and the Civic Association this week, a topic of high interest to Palm Beachers was discussed about the ongoing efforts by Scripps to combat the Zika Virus.
Scripps Florida is a Civic Association Corporate Partner. The following report was presented:
Ongoing efforts by the Scripps Research Institute to combat the Zika Virus, and our priorities going forward
Prepared by Michael Farzan, Ph.D., Professor and Co-Chair, Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, The Scripps Research Institute. September 27, 2016
The following describes how The Scripps Research Institute might best apply resources to protecting mothers and infants from the worst health consequences of the Zika virus.
The Scripps Research Institute has been pursuing four goals in its anti-Zika virus effort. These are:
- Development and improvement of a safe, effective Zika vaccine: improving the safety of the first likely vaccine to be tested in humans, and developing alternatives should this first effort falter.
- Development of orally available small compounds that can be used prophylactically and in the early stages of an infection.
- Development of injectable antibodies and biologics whose safety profile would make them useable in pregnant and soon-to-be-pregnant women.
- A deeper understanding of Zika pathogenesis, with focus on mother-to-infant transmission at the placental barrier, the reasons for efficient neural infection, and the causes of Zika-induced microcephaly.
We have made significant progress in each of these four areas:
Vaccines. A prototype of a Scripps live-attenuated Zika vaccine have been developed and characterized at small scale. The Scripps vaccine has two important properties different from competing vaccine efforts. It is designed so that it cannot traverse the placental barrier, increasing its ability to be used in women whose pregnancy state is unknown. It is also modified to lower the chance, in rare cases, of worsening Zika infection or infection by other flavivirus infections, a continuing concern with all flavivirus vaccines. In the best case, our vaccine effort will take at least two years to reach the clinic, and several more to achieve widespread use.
Small antiviral compounds. We have initiated our first screen with a Zika virus replicon system using a pilot 4000-compound library. This first library is FDA approved so potent leads from this screen could be rapidly tested in humans. This screen proved that we can perform a high-throughput screen for anti-Zika compounds, but did not produce any silver bullets. We will therefore be undertaking a much larger screen of 400,000 compounds. The best leads from that screen will be modified through medicinal chemistry to minimize potential side effects and improve pharmacokinetics.
Antibodies. The developing of anti-Zika virus antibodies is our absolute highest priority because antibodies have exceptional safety profiles, and would be the only medical intervention justifiable in pregnant women in the next several years. Such an antibody can be used to protect – as a vaccine would – pregnant women who are uninfected, and protect the fetus of those who may be infected. It could also protect men and women living near a localized outbreak, and it could be used more widely to treat infected individuals. Scripps and other institutions around the country have identified a number of lead antibodies, but these antibodies need to be modified in well understood ways so that they do not make other viral infections worse, they need to be produced in quantities necessary for preclinical studies, they need to be compared in an unbiased manner in non-human primate models for their bioavailability and their efficacy against the Zika virus, and the best of these need to be tested for safety and efficacy in human clinical trials.
Pathogenesis. Scripps has developed and will soon publish on two very important insights in the pathology of Zika virus disease. First, in a very productive collaboration between our neuroscience and our immunology departments, we have defined the mechanisms by which the virus destroys the neurons of neonatal mice. Second, in some of the best basic science work at the Institute, we have defined the molecular basis for how the Zika virus, but not other closely related flaviviruses, crosses the placental barrier to access the fetal bloodstream. Both of these studies provide key insight into the development of vaccines and antiviral compounds.
While all our priorities are critical, the effort that will have the largest immediate impact on health outcomes in the United States is the development of a safe, potent, and bioavailable antibody. Again, antibodies have exceptional safety profiles, and would be the only medical intervention justifiable in pregnant women in the next several years. There are currently at least eight described antibodies for Scripps and several other institutions across the counter that should be included in a test panel, with several more on the way. These antibodies, as well as combinations of the best performers, should be down-selected in an unbiased manner to four by comparing their biophysical properties and their anti-Zika activities in the laboratory. These four should then be compared for half-life and anti-Zika activity in non-human primate models as quickly as feasible, and combinations of the top performers should be similarly evaluated. To do so, they need to be engineered so that they cannot worsen dengue and Zika infections using a well-established approach, they need to be produced at sufficient scales for pre-clinical use, and they need to be tested for safety and efficacy in non-human primate studies.
Unfortunately non-human primate studies are both necessary and expensive. An accelerated laboratory effort as described would cost approximately $200,000, and a correctly run non-human primate study comparing four best performing antibodies with appropriate controls will cost approximately $350,000. Note that these studies do not result in death or long-term harm to the animals. We are actively raising money for this effort in sincere hopes that it will prevent many cases of microcephaly in a very short time frame.