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Town of Palm Beach Civic Association
Annual Meeting

Monday, April 4, 2010, 10:00 a.m.

President’s Report

I’m happy to report to you this morning that the Palm Beach Civic Association is active, alive and doing very well.  In fact, you mighty say, we’re on a roll.

We thought we’d run a deficit this year, but our income has exceeded our expenses--and our membership is up as well.

Our members are everywhere in Town…on boards and commissions, working on our volunteer committees, taking part in everything from shore protection to the Centennial.  This year, we’ve been working to increase our visibility as a leader in representing residents concerns.

For example, our Tax and Finance Committee, under our Chairman Pat Cooper, analyzed the Town budget and stepped up to take a lead role in the tax and budget discussions.  We attended Town Council meetings and County Commission budget hearings, and wrote letters urging the Town to hold the line on taxes and follow through on pension reform.

We hosted a Town wide forum on pensions led by our resident expert, Civic Association director Wilbur Ross, and representatives from labor and management.   We invited Councilman Bob Wildrick to speak to us and brought in the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser and the Tax Collector to meet our directors.

This year, we provided leadership on water conservation though our Water Committee and our Chairman Harvey Poppel--you may have seen Civic Association director Bob Vila’s letter to the editor in Sunday’s Shiny Sheet—and we continued to build relationships with area medical institutions through our Health Care Committee, co-chaired by Michael Stein and Dr. Richard Conroy.

We worked to generate constructive, positive dialogue in the community through our symposiums where residents come to discuss important Town issues.

Our speakers included new Mayor Gail Coniglio, new Councilman Michael Pucillo, Town Manager Peter Elwell, Police Chief Kurt Blouin, shore protection experts, bridge building firms, Publix representatives, Theater Guild members, Peanut Island restaurant promoters, and Palm Beach County officials.

We developed a blog on our web site called “One Town, Many Voices” where Judy Goodman, our contributing editor, and others provided weekly analysis of the Town’s most pressing issues.

We published weekly email news updates for residents and wrote letters to the editor on everything from taxes and civility to water conservation and Publix.

We completely reformatted our web site to make it a primary source of Palm Beach news and information.  Our communications director Mike Brown tells me, in the month of March, we had over 8,000 visits and over 30,000 page views--which means, when people click on us, they find things worth seeing.

Last Fall, we led the way in helping voters make informed decisions at the polls.  We sponsored three major forums: two “Meet the Candidates” events and a packed house, standing-room-only, raucous debate between Congressman Ron Klein and challenger Alan West that was covered live by local television.

We published online voters’ guides, took positions on ballot issues and held a symposium to educate residents on the referendums.

And, that’s not all we did this year:

We conducted a town wide Centennial Banner campaign raising money for the 270 banners you see hanging on the lampposts in town.

We created a very popular “Meet the Directors” series where residents come to hear our prominent Civic Association directors speak on important topics of interest to them.

We held our first, hugely successful, sold-out Awards Luncheon with NBC’s “Meet the Press” Moderator David Gregory where we presented the Bill Brooks Community Service Award to Stan Rumbough and Lewis Schott, and the Gen. Al Haig Global Impact Award to Nancy Brinker.

We even created a legacy program this year where members and residents can help us protect the future of Palm Beach by leaving a gift to the Civic Association in their wills.

As you can see, we have positive momentum.

Next season we’re going to kick it up a notch.  We’re going to build on this year, expand our programs, upgrade our internet capabilities to help residents stay informed--and we’re going to get more involved beyond our borders at the County level, where all our money goes.

I want to thank everyone who works so hard to make the Civic Association so vital and alive: our outstanding staff, our chairman Bob Wright, our Executive Committee, our directors and members and corporate sponsors.  It’s a privilege to work with all of you to protect and improve this wonderful town.